Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fringe 5.12 - 5.13 "Liberty/An Enemy of Fate"

“If we shoot them, they’re dead. Why do we want them to float away?”
“Because it’s cool.”
-Peter and Walter

Yet another twisty, creative Bad Robot show has reached its end. The end of “Fringe,” I believe will prove in time to be less controversial than that of its creative ancestor, “Lost.” Much of the plot played out fairly predictably, really. Earlier this season, I was concerned that the creative team would push the reset time button and take the easy way out, with everyone being happy at the end. I worried about this given the show’s history of pushing the reset button after shaking things up in really significant ways (the most important characters getting their original timeline memories back, for instance). In reality, that is what they did, however not everything was perfect. There was still a fairly significant, permanent price to pay for that reset. The way everything played out put the final touches on the story. There is really no satisfying way that the story could continue after this point, and I think that’s really what should happen at the end of a television show. In the process of getting to that point, there were also some nice nods to what has come before, and even an assist by Alt-livia and Lincoln. As much as I would have liked to imagine how the investigations and wacky hijinks could continue in perpetuity, I think, overall, it was a satisfying way to end our time with these characters.

The first hour, “Liberty,” focused on the team’s efforts to get Michael back from the Observers. Thanks to a tip from Broyles (which costs him his life until the reset), the team learns that Michael is in a detention center on Liberty Island where the Observers are experimenting on him, trying to figure out why the fugitives care about him so much. They do figure out about his capability for emotion, and it leads them to decide to destroy him. Liberty Island has extremely dense security under Observer rule, so an alternative needs to be figured out. The solution the team comes up with for Olivia to cross over to the Other Side and, presuming the Observers haven’t taken over there too, cross back over in the middle of Liberty Island. Olivia has burned up all the Cortexaphan in her system, though, so she needs a re-up. And that re-up involves an extremely painful looking series of injections to the brain stem. Peter is really nervous about the side effects (and Walter lists quite a bunch of them), and Walter also warns Olivia to cross back immediately if she starts to experience withdrawal symptoms, but none of that really comes to anything (sorry…spoiler alert).

Olivia crossing over sets off alarm bells on the Other Side, and she’s soon greeted by a 20 years older Alt-livia and Lincoln. They seem to have created quite a nice family life with each other, which was sweet to actually get to see, even if it was implied they would end up together late in season 4 when Lincoln made the choice to stay in red universe when the bridge closed. Long story short, the double cross over plan works, despite a little suspense where Olivia seems to be having withdrawal symptoms and an inevitable Observer attack. While all this is going on, poor clueless September breaks into the lab and wonders where everybody is. He then starts using the lab equipment to concoct part of what he needs for the big reset time plan. He’s missing one piece, though, something that’s like a spark plug, and he has to go visit another one of the original twelve Observers, December, to try and procure one. He tells December that December owes him, and I was curious to know why. I guess I don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of Fringe mythology like I do for some other shows.

As we move into the second hour, September eventually reunites with the rest of the team (who had taken Michael to a safehouse). Over at the lab, Peter unearths another tape from the amber. It’s basically a goodbye message from Walter. He says he’s going to disappear and send something strange to Peter in the mail. That’s when Peter starts to realize something is up. September and Walter have a talk about the upcoming plan to send Michael to the future. September asks to be the person to take Michael to the future. Especially after seeing more of how Walter and Peter interact with each other, September can’t bear to leave his son after such little time together. Walter really wanted his chance at redemption, but he agrees to let September do the job. There’s a bit in a snag in getting to that point, though. Peter and Olivia go to December’s apartment and find December dead and the spark plug missing. The team has to go with a new plan. They’re going to have to use an Observer shipping lane to create the time traveling wormhole.

Eventually all the pieces are in place, and there’s a big Fringe team/Observer shoot-out by the shipping lane portal. Of course, since he agreed to take Walter’s place and get erased from time (the tie travelers would be a paradox otherwise), September dies in the battle. Poor Michael just sits there next to his dad playing his music box until Walter scoops him up and takes him through the wormhole himself, as he had always planned to do. Next thing we know, we’re back in the iconic scene of Peter, Olivia, and Etta in the field on the day the Observers invaded. This time, there is no invasion, and the happy family goes home after a fun day at the park. This brings up so many questions, but really, as with “Lost,” it’s better to just live in the emotion of it all.

And so we say goodbye to “Fringe” after five seasons. There were definitely ups and downs, but beginning I the second half of the first season, the creative team never played it safe. They always tried to see if they could incorporate new, creative twists. Some of these twists, like the introduction of the parallel universe, and the beautiful semi-musical episode “Brown Betty” paid dividends and provided some truly great television. Others, such as the animated episode in season 3 and the introduction of the alternate timeline in season 4, were pretty much flops. But in order to get the high highs, the creative team had to take chances, and I will always applaud that. We need more television shows willing to take creative risks. Mostly, I’ll remember the Bishop family of Walter, Peter, and Olivia and how they always marched to their own drummers. The relationship between Walter and Peter was what made “Fringe” especially stand out, even in the more procedural first season, and I’m glad that relationship had a chance to be restored from the mess of the alternate timeline before the show ended. Oh and did I mention that Gene the cow even made a big return appearance in this episode? Yep, that happened.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nashville 1.10: "I'm Sorry for You, My Friend"

“You’re scared of being on that stage and having it feel different than it did for the past twenty years.”

This was another high drama episode of Nashville, with most of the drama centering around family. Rayna’s trying to figure out her future with Teddy, Juliette’s dealing with the fallout from leaving Sean at the altar, Gunnar’s spending time with his recently released from prison brother, and Scarlett gets into trouble while hanging with her Uncle Deacon after a Revel Kings show. I guess the only sub-plot not literally family related was Avery’s, although you could still say that he’s dealing with the fall-out of his stupid move to abandon his band family. Something that felt different about this episode was how little of it actually took place in Nashville. Most of the main characters are out on tour right now, so the show is wherever they are. I think it might have been a little too soon for that. The show had been working diligently to build a sense of place and really give viewers a feel for the city of Nashville, and to switch things up so soon was kind of jarring.

The Red Lips, White Lies tour is about to roll out, and Rayna and Juliette are caught up in a flurry of press conferences. Of course the reporters all want to know about Juliette’s abandoned marriage and what Rayna’s show will be like without Deacon. They try to be as evasive about the personal stuff as possible, of course, because both their personal lives are a mess. Their messy personal lives come dangerously close to ruining the tour, actually. Despite her management bringing in good guitar players, Rayna’s just not clicking with anyone. She drives off one perfectly good guitarist by being too hyper-critical after a rehearsal. I don’t think she was really rude or anything, but the guitarist sure did take it badly. Before storming out, he points out that nobody is going to be able to replace Deacon. Juliette, meanwhile, is in the process of trying to divorce Sean. Sean is refusing to sign the divorce papers, and Juliette’s manager, Glenn, suggests that if she reaches out and apologizes, she might get what she wants.

Meanwhile, Gunnar is planning a trip down to Austin to see his brother. The Revel Kings are playing there and Scarlett has backstage passes thanks to Deacon, so she wants to tag along. Gunnar tries to make all kinds of excuses for them to drive separately, but Scarlett’s not having any of them. At first I thought this was because he was still feeling uncomfortable about being around Scarlett too much, but we later find out it’s something much different. Gunnar’s brother, J.C. is getting out of prison, and that’s why Gunnar has gone to Austin to see him. While Gunnar’s trying to reconcile with his estranged brother, Scarlett’s hanging out with Deacon and the Revel Kings. Band leader Cy, who is already kind of sore that the reporter chick from the last episode was much more interested in Deacon than him, starts hitting on Scarlett, and he doesn’t stop even when Deacon says that Scarlett is his niece.

Let’s just get Avery’s little sub plot over with here and now because he’s a chump. While post-coital, Avery and his manager, Marilyn, start talking about Avery’s potential contract with producer Domenic. Because that will end well. Avery is surprised to learn that a contract has even been offered, and Marilyn says her legal team is still reviewing it. She warns Avery that on first blush, it doesn’t look like a very good contract, and she and her team are going to work to make sure Avery gets all the money he deserves. Avery’s impatient, though, so goes and talks to Domenic. Domenic tells Avery that Marilyn is just out to get more money for herself and that the contract he’s offering is good. Of course Avery believes him, mostly because of the impatience, I think. To seal the deal, Domenic lets Avery drive his really sweet car. Marilyn, of course, is really pissed of when she finds out that Avery signed the contract against her advice, and she tells Avery that Domenic giving him a car instead of a six figure advance means he got played. Avery responds that Marilyn works for him, so she’d better get on board.

Juliette’s and Rayna’s personal drama continues to escalate, and it continues to jeopardize the success of their tour. While signing autographs, Juliette gets served with papers from Sean. He wants an annulment based on fraud despite Juliette’s apology. Rayna is preoccupied trying to decide if she’s going to go home to Nashville to support Teddy on election night. Juliette’s acting especially emo about the whole thing, refusing to include “Love Like Mine” on her set list and going overtime with her sound check. Rayna ends up recruiting Liam to be her bandleader for at least the first few shows on the tour (over Liam’s protest), and Liam ends up throwing Juliette off the stage so that Rayna can get some rehearsal time.

Both Gunnar and Scarlett find themselves in rather precarious positions in Austin. Gunnar and J.C. check into a motel, an Gunnar starts going on about how he’s got a half-way house all lined up for J.C., and in time, J.C. can come live in Nashville. J.C. seems a bit resentful that Gunnar never visited him in prison, but the two bond over a song that J.C. plays on Gunnar’s guitar. The warm fuzzies don’t last long, though. The next day, Gunnar returns to the motel to find that J.C. has sold his prized guitar for a gun. The two have an argument about Gunnar’s role in the robbery that led J.C. to jail and Gunnar’s abandonment of J.C., but the two eventually reach an understanding. Gunnar still doesn’t get his guitar back, though. Backstage after the Revel Kings concert, Cy separates Scarlett from Deacon and basically tries to rape her. Deacon saves the day just in time, and obviously he quits the Revel Kings. The next day, Scarlett apologizes to Deacon for how things went down, but Deacon says he needed a reason to quit the band. On the drive home, Scarlett actually bothers to start asking Gunnar questions about his family, and he tells her the truth about J.C.

Juliette quick flies to meet up with Sean, where he tells her that he basically wants an annulment because he only wants to get married once. Back on the tour, Juliette runs into Liam, who apologizes to Juliette for the sound check scene, but he also makes a crack about her never being wrong. Juliette gets especially emo before the big show, looking at her engagement ring pensively as she finishes getting ready. Juliette ends up singing “Love Like Mine” after all, and Rayna rather stupidly makes the decision to go home the next day to be with Teddy on election night. After the concert, Juliette meets up with Sean and the lawyers, and she agrees to the annulment. When she tells Sean that she agreed because he deserves better, he just responds with some venomous crack about not liking her very much. Rayna goes home for election night, and Teddy wins the election. On a balcony overlooking the celebration, Tandy insinuates to Lamar that Lamar must have bought votes over Teddy’s protest. Lamar insists he didn’t, but who would trust Lamar. At the very end of the episode, Peggy stops by Teddy’s hotel room to congratulate him, and they have a tender moment before he throws her out.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Arrow 1.10: "Burned"

“This guy, the other Archer, he got in your head, took something from you. He took what’s in your heart that lets you jump off buildings and take down bad guys. ”
- Diggle

We pick up six weeks after the end of our fall finale. We’re on the scene of a fire in progress and one of the firefighters gets doused and ignited, burning alive. The perp (in firefighter gear) walks away unseen. In the man cave, Oliver is doing the salmon ladder and tries to shoot a tennis ball but misses. Clearly, he’s off his game. Diggle tries to entice him by getting back to the list but with Walter missing, Oli’s head isn’t in the game. He thinks his family needs him, especially since given the time frame and the lack of ransom or proof of life, Walter is likely dead. We flash back to the island to the same part we saw in the last episode with Deathstroke beating the crap out of the Archer and Oli running away. In the present, Oliver swings by the burger joint and picks up dinner for the family, but ends up on the couch with just Thea. She explains that Moira was pretty distant after the Queen’s Gambit went down and that it was Walter that saved her.

The next day, Detective Lance shows up at the legal aid office with I’m guessing the fire chief. The firefighter who was killed was Joanna’s brother. Jo doesn’t want to believe it and she shows up at Laurel’s apartment (interrupting a sort of awkward conversation between Laurel and Tommy). Jo is convinced her brother was murdered thanks to the incident report she snagged from someone in the coroner’s office. Laurel begs her dad to look into it, or at least convince the fire marshal to start an investigation (she did some digging of her own and found another case from the week previous). He can’t really help but Laurel gets an idea. CSU returns the phone Oli gave Detective Lance in the last episode and Laurel snags it to ask for his help.

Oli and Laurel meet at the legal aid office and Oli says he’ll look into Jo’s brother’s case. He basically hands it off to Diggle. He’s really just doesn't have his head in the game. And Laurel’s little lift of the phone didn’t go unnoticed by her dad. He’s poised she stole evidence and even more worried that she met up with him. In the man cave, as Diggle says he’s got a friend of a friend in the fire investigations department, we hear Tommy yelling at someone. Turns out to be the contractor who isn’t doing the work they wanted for the night club. But Tommy has a great idea; hold a fundraiser with really low overhead and give the proceeds to the fire department. Tommy is actually being kind of nice.

Back at the Queen mansion, Moira is arguing with the company’s COO. He wants her to fill Walter’s seat as CEO but she’s not having it. Just after Moira takes her leave, Diggle shows up and says Oli needs to leave right away for his dentist appointment. Code for another fire is underway and the same truck spotted at Jo’s brother’s fire is at this place, too. Oliver is hesitant to suit up but Dig talks him into it. He gets there and takes a few good swings at the guy, noticing he has burns on his hands but it’s too late to save the firefighter (he went over a railing) and Oli gets beaten down and left in the blaze. I’m thinking he probably had some flashbacks going on about his last beat down. Speaking of flashbacks, we catch up with Oli a short time after he took off. He’s managed to make a little fire but he barely has time to warm his hands when he hears footsteps. The soldiers are closing in.

Oli is looking pretty defeated when he calls Laurel to give her info on the firebug. He’s got a firefly tattoo and a burn on his wrist. We flash back again to the island and Oliver decides to try and rush his pursuer. They struggle, Oli drops his knife and they go tumbling down the hill and Oli lands in the water. He comes to and sees the other guy dead. Guess he killed his first bad guy. In the present, Diggle lets into Oliver again. Seems Oliver is not ready to be back in the fight. And he can ignore it all until he’s ready because right now, the other Archer might as well just kill him. Laurel takes matters into her own hands and confronts the chief of Jo’s brother’s old station. Four of the eight firefighters from the station are dead. Oliver listens in as he’s at the station confirming headcount for the benefit. Laurel is frustrated but it looks like hearing about the fire that killed one of the guys two years earlier spurs Oli to action.

He’s doing some digging and he thinks that the firefighter that died in the tragedy two years earlier may not have died. And we learn why Oli’s been so hesitant about getting back into things Arrow wise. On the island, he wasn’t afraid of death because he had nothing to lose. Now he does. Diggle presents it in a different light; Oli has something to fight for now and that gives him an edge. Back at the Queen mansion, Thea gives her mom a stern talking to about holing herself up in the house again. Thea would worry about Walter but she’s too busy worrying about her mother. At the benefit, Oliver and Laurel sort of team up against the fire chief. He admits he pulled his guys out of the building fire but that the one guy wouldn’t leave. Turns out Oli’s theory was right. He shows up at the benefit and starts lighting things on fire.

Most of the civilians make it out of the fire and Oliver dashes downstairs to don his gear while the firefighter basically gives an abbreviated evil speech of evil before attempting to light the fire chief up. Oli’s aim is back on and he tries to offer this guy help but he’s too far gone. He ends up just stepping into the fire and burning to death. It seems public sentiment towards the vigilante is changing, seeing him as a hero. And it sounds like Thea’s words spurred Moira to action. She’s taking Walter’s place, at least temporarily. Over at the legal aid office, Joanna is taking a leave of absence and asks Laurel to get her brother’s badge to the hood as a thank you. Detective Lance shows up to take the phone back, but then returns it, thinking maybe Laurel is safer with the vigilante putting himself between her and danger. Of course not two seconds later we learn he’s bugged the phone. With one final flashback to the island before we end, we find Oli has changed into the dead guy’s clothes and scored a map of the island. And back in the present, Oli is ready for some good hunting.

New Girl 2.13: "A Father's Love"

“I’m not angry fixing! I’m fixing!”

“A Father’s Love” introduced us to Nick’s dad, and he wasn’t anything like I would have expected. Basically, he’s a con man Nick has his issues, but as the characters point out, after meeting his dad, I would have expected him to be a lot more messed up than he actually is. Nick’s dad is manipulative and has no qualms about using his son’s friends. He also doesn’t really seem to care all that much if he hurt Nick in the course of getting what he wants. I wonder if maybe the creative team went a little too far in exaggerating the con man aspect of Mr. Miller’s character. And the less said about the B story the better, really. Schmidt and Robbie unite in their displeasure with Cece going the arranged marriage route, but the result of their conspiring is really rather disappointing. Schmidt and Robbie’s scheming was a lot more entertaining than the actual execution.

The episode opens with the gang playing a kind of weird game where they have to guess what they’re feeling in a cup. It reminds me of that old haunted house trick of peeling grapes to make them feel like eyeballs. Nick is engrossed in the game, even though he’s pretty terrible at it. He’s blindfolded, and he doesn’t believe his friends when they say his dad is at the door. His dad jumps in and rocks the feely guessing game, though, and when he hears his voice, Nick knows that his worst fears are confirmed. Nick is not at all happy to see his dad. Winston and Schmidt explain to Jess that Nick’s dad is a con man. Winston seems to be much more a fan of the guy than Schmidt is, though. Winston tries to make excuses for Mr. Miller’s behavior. He talks about how Mr. Miller “sometimes used to sell hats” (that were “technically misprints.” Nick, however, does not take his dad’s appearance well. He starts “angry fixing” the sink (aka banging pipes with a wrench).

The gang takes Mr. Miller to the bar, and while there, Jess keeps insisting, in her way, that if Nick and his dad would just talk to each other about Nick’s childhood issues, all would be well between them. Mr. Miller has Jess help him get another round of drinks from the bar, and while they’re separated from the rest of the group, he asks Jess if she’s ever been on the race track. Quite ominous, right? It turns out that, yes, Mr. Miller is so horrible that he would run a con on one of Nick’s closest friends. Elsewhere in the bar, Schmidt and Cece are chilling, and Schmidt brings up the topic of who Cece’s mom has been setting her up with. Cece mentions a guy who is part of a very prominent Indian business family, and Schmidt is pretty much instantly jealous.

Next thing we know, Nick, Winston, Jess, and Mr. Miller are at the racetrack. Mr. Miller splits Jess off from the rest of the group again, and they go look at the horses. Mr. Miller has Jess pretend she’s a veterinary student, and she starts going on about how this one horse will never race again. Jess bought into the con in the first place because Mr. Miller told her that Nick’s childhood dream was to have a family horse. Mr. Miller tells Jess he wants to name the horse “A Father’s Love,” which is kind of sick, really. Meanwhile, Schmidt and Robbie both happen to be stalking what appears to be Cece’s first date with the guy her mom recommended. They’re happy to see each other, united in their unhappiness that Cece is trying to move on. Later they discuss this together at the bar, and they decide that they’re going to unite to keep Cece away from this new guy and eliminate the “subcontinental threat” altogether. Robbie, in a kind of gross racist move, says “white guy power!” Schmidt quickly tries to correct it to “cool guy power,” but it’s still gross. Back at the track, Jess reveals that she helped Mr. Miller pay for the horse they had been looking at, and she realizes she’s the one who has been conned. Mr. Miller reveals he has a buyer who is willing to pay a lot of money for the horse, but it looks like things are going to unravel quickly.

Schmidt and Robbie end up crashing the bit meet-up between Cece’s family and the set-up guy’s family, and it’s really more uncomfortable than funny. The guys are just boorish in general, and the final straw is when Robbie starts chanting “white guy power.” Cece rightfully throws them both out for that one. Meanwhile, Mr. Miller wants help for the big meet-up with the guys who are supposed to buy the horse. Nick volunteers, mostly to protect Jess, even though it’s going to involve lying and Nick is terrible at lying (he sweats…gross). He really wants to make sure Jess gets her money back. The hand-off, predictably, doesn’t go at all as planned. The buyers make Nick strip down to his underwear and do a stupid dance to prove he’s not a police officer wearing a wire (I guess because he looks nervous). Nick then makes the mistake of saying that he only sweats when he’s lying, and since it’s obvious he’s lying, the buyers take off. Jess takes off, too, because in her kind of ridiculous way, she thinks that abandoning Nick and his dad in a random sketchy parking lot will lead to their reconciliation.

Schmidt and Robbie enjoy a post-debacle drink where they talk about how they’re glad their friendship has deepened over their mutual enemy. Then Schmidt says some kind of gross stuff about how he’s looking forward to the day they defeat all the Indians and can have a final duel to the death for Cece’s affections. Meanwhile, back at the sketchy parking lot, Nick and his dad actually do have a bit of the bonding moment Jess was hoping for when Nick’s dad offers Nick his pants and Nick starts laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. Nick’s dad offers to take Nick to any game he wants the next day, and all seems to be forgiven. It’s short-lived, though. Jess catches Mr. Miller trying to sneak out of the loft the next day, and she doesn’t succeed in getting him to stick around. Nick finds Jess trying to “angry fix” the sink, and he tells her that he’s actually okay with how things went down with his dad. He’s come to accept that once people are broken, they don’t change. Nick thinks he’s a bit broken too, but Jess sweetly assures him that he is actually a good person in spite of his dad.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

HIMYM 8.13: "Band or DJ?"

“Well I figured you knew. It’s on my Facebook page. You really should respond to my friend request.”
-Robin Sr.

“Band or DJ?” was a decent episode of HIMYM, although it was still significantly more cartoon-ish than I would prefer. It didn’t actively make me angry, which I suppose is really all I can ask of HIMYM these days. The episode really focused in on the aftermath of the Barney/Robin engagement. There are friends and family to tell and arrangements to be made. And of course Ted has to come to terms with the fact that one of his best friends is marrying the woman he once thought was the love of his life. One very redeeming aspect of this episode was that it seems to confirm, once and for all, that Barney and Robin do actually get married. Although we just see Robin dancing with her dad (no Barney), so I guess the rug could still be pulled out. I certainly hope not, though. That would just be plain cruel and not good storytelling. It would be a twist too many. I suppose it’s a sign of how badly the show has fallen off he rails that I’m even worried about such a thing. Also in the teasing the viewers category, we got more incremental progress on figuring out the Mother mythology. We now know why Ted meets her at Barney and Robin’s wedding. So there’s that, at least.

This episode really just covers the immediate fallout from Barney and Robin’s engagement. We see Ted at the GNB opening party getting the text from Barney announcing the news. Even though he gave the relationship his blessing, the reality of it all hits Ted at that moment. The next day when the gang is at MacLaren’s, Ted and Lily have the beginnings of a wedding planning fight. Ted’s got the whole thing planned out. The ceremony will be at the church where Victoria almost got married, and there will be a DJ at the wedding. Almost like he was planning his own wedding to Robin, right? Lily had been really looking forward to the wedding planning, and she almost ges physically violent after Ted starts acting like he’s going to do the planning. Robin and Barney show some interest in booking a band for the wedding, and Lily instantly offers to try and hook them up with the band she an Marshall were going to have pay at their first attempt at a wedding.

All of this fighting may be premature, however, because Barney and Robin have hit a little snag. Robin is kind of upset to find out that Barney hasn’t asked her dad for permission to marry her. Which I find highly out of character for Robin in the sense that Robin is, at her core, supposed to be an independent, kickass woman. On the other hand, she does have serious daddy issues, so maybe that’s why she wanted Barney to ask permission. To his credit, Barney thinks the idea of Robin as her dad’s property is ludicrous, but because it’s what she wants, Robin, Barney, and Robin Sr. all have lunch together at a hole in the wall Italian place. It turns out that Robin’s dad has moved to New York, gotten into a serious relationship, and become a Parrothead, and Robin knew none of this. Her dad thinks she should have just checked his Facebook page. Robin Sr. made a big show about being “fun” now, but he can still be pretty darn scary. When Barney starts to ask for permission to marry Robin, Robin Sr. says “permission denied” before Barney can even get out a whole sentence.

Barney tells Robin not to worry, and he seems convinced he can win over Robin Sr. with a little charm and effort. Barney’s attempt, however, devolves into Robin Sr. trying to get Barney to shoot a cute white rabbit named Fluffernutter (Robin Sr. had been talking about the hunting tribute he gave to Robin’s mom’s dad). This is, obviously, pretty traumatizing for Barney. Robin, meanwhile, has made the rather unwise decision to friend her dad on Facebook afterall (there’s a pretty funny scene where the gang warns Robin about what happens when you friend your parents on Facebook…let’s just say “50 Shades of Grey” gets a name check). She finds out that her dad isn’t just in a serious relationship with Carol (the fellow Parrothead). They’re married. Since her dad didn’t want her at his wedding, Robin tells him that he’s not invited to her’s. So now everything is a complete mess in that department.

Things become a complete mess in the Ted vs. Lily wedding planning wars, too. Things come to a head when Ted takes the rather drastic step of booking the wedding band Lily wanted to book so that she will fail in her efforts. At that point, it becomes pretty obvious to Marshall and Lily that this isn’t about wanting a DJ at all. Lily orders Ted up to the roof for a chat (Marshall watches Marvin). She wants Ted to admit that this is really all about being hurt that Robin is truly gone as a romantic prospect. In order to give Ted a “pass” for saying something kind of horrible (that he doesn’t really want Robin and Barney to get married), Lily says something horrible herself. She sometimes wishes she wasn’t a mother. Between teaching and parenting, she never gets a break from taking care of kids, and she’s seriously neglected her art. Once they’ve let all that out, they go back downstairs to the apartment, where a previously constipated Marvin has become unconstipated…all over Marshall. The joys of parenthood, I guess?

Anyway, Barney manages to talk some sense into Robin, Sr., and Barney even gets him to apologize to Robin. Robin Sr. will come to the wedding and even participate in the father/daughter dance, because Robin says that all she wants is a normal dad who will be happy about and participate in her wedding. Later, when talking to Ted, Robin says that Barney must really love her to have faced down her dad like that. I think that’s the beginning of Ted coming to terms with Robin truly being in love with someone else. We see a flash forward to May, where he’s on the subway talking to his lesbian ex-girlfriend and former roommate to the Mother, played by Rachel Bilson. The band that has been booked for the wedding has fallen through, and Ted’s ranting about how everyone should have listened to him. Rachel Bilson’s character offers to hook Barney and Robin up with her former roommate’s band, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Once Upon a Time 2.11: "The Outsider"

“This is my journey, Belle. This is my journey and it’s something I have to do on my own.”
- Rumpelstiltskin

We begin this week at the town line at night. Rumple is testing a theory and he’s using Smee as his guinea pig. We learn that Smee’s hat was made by his granny when he was little and so it has sentimental value. This appears to be the key because Rumple pours a potion on it and boots our little betrayer over the line. And he retains his memory. The next day, we find the dwarves, Granny, Red, Marco and the Charming clan having a small funeral service for Archie. Snow gives a sweet eulogy and Marco places Archie’s umbrella by the headstone. In reality, they wouldn’t have a headstone that fast. Anyway, we cut to Archie being sort of tortured by Hook. Hook asks about the dagger that can steal Rumple’s power but Archie knows nothing about it. He does however, under duress, spill Rumple’s other weakness. We find Belle showing up Mr. Gold’s shop to get the good news about the potion. Unfortunately, she can’t go with Rumple as he only has enough potion for one object (Bae’s shawl). And in our first flashback of the episode, we find Belle in the tavern the day after she gave Dreamy advice on love. There’s a hunting party going after a fearsome creature called the yaoguai and Dreamy encourages Belle to join up. She does and Dreamy gives her a little pouch of fairy dust just in case. Back in Storybrooke, we see Hook implementing his latest scheme. He corners Belle in the library but she manages to lock herself in the elevator and calls Rumple. The connection sucks but it’s enough to spur our imp to action.

Rumple manages to free Belle from the elevator and shares an abbreviated version of his history with Hook, including that Milah died. Of course he leaves out the bit where he crushed her heart but yeah, that’s not surprising. They get back to the shop to find that Hook was just creating a distraction so Smee could slip in and grab the shawl. Meanwhile, in the fairytale land that was, Belle tells the rather gruff guys she’s traveling with that the yaoguai can be found near the lake. With that information, they boot her off the wagon and leave her with her books on the road. She’s not too upset since she faked the translation of her book so she could have some heroics of her own. She tracks the creature within a day and is about to try and take it on when she steps on a twig, rousing the beast. She’s about to be charbroiled when Mulan steps in scares the thing away. Belle offers to help find it again but Mulan is too crabby about missing her shot at killing the thing. Over at Mary Margaret’s loft, Emma tries to entice Henry to eat something but she’s not having much luck. Snow tries to reassure her but Grumpy interrupts with a whine that they want to go home. And they’re worried about someone from the outside world discovering who and what they are. If only they knew.

Back at the shop, Rumple is throwing a hissy fit over the shawl being stolen. Belle tries to calm him down by offering her help but he kind of snaps at her that she can’t help him because she’s never dealt with a pirate. After getting crabby he just gets stupid and gives her a loaded gun. Because handing an untrained civilian a dangerous firearm is a fantastic idea. Dumbass. As Rumple seeks out Smee for answers, Belle takes off to the library to clean up. She discovers a piece of rope from where Hook fell and figures out he came to Storybrooke on his ship. With a bit of cleverness, she locates the ship. Back in the fairytale land that was, she’s having some trouble with the guys that ditched her earlier. Obviously, the yaoguai wasn’t at the lake. Mulan steps in and whoops their butts and the ladies decide to team up. Belle will track the creature and Mulan will kill it (even with a wounded leg). Rumple finds Smee trying to sneak out of town and he gets turned into a rat for crossing the Dark One.

Belle sneaks down into the belly of the ship and frees Archie. I have to say I was really glad they didn’t drag the “Archie’s dead” plotline out for long. It would have just been so stupid. I understand it served a purpose but it really was kind of dumb. In the meantime, Henry is still not coping with Archie’s supposed passing. He calls Archie’s office number just to hear the voice mail message. Emma manages to cheer him up a little by bringing Pongo over (she and Marco decided to give the dog to Henry). This however, poses something of a logistics problem. Four people and a big dog in a little loft just won’t work. So the Charmings are going to look for a bigger house. Back on the ship, Belle is looking for the shawl when Hook appears with it. He grabs the gun she’s left sitting on a chest (see, I’m telling stupid thing to do) and is threatening her. Belle says she’s not afraid of him and she’s not leaving without the shawl. We cut to her and Mulan tracking the beast. Mulan’s leg is worse so it’s up to Belle to slay the beast. She gets a little pep talk from Mulan and it seems to spur her forward in the present. She’s disbelieving when Hook fills her in on the rest of the tale of Milah. But she keeps him talking long enough to get herself into a position where she conks him on the head with a beam and snags the shawl.

Unfortunately, he knows the ship like the back of his hook. He’s about to get all smarmy pirate on her again when Rumple shows up and commences a pretty serious beat down. That man is dangerous with a cane. I guess when it comes to Belle he really just loses it easily. Belle begs him to stop but he’s pretty incensed. Hook sort of begs for death so he can be with Milah again and this just spurs Rumple further to kill Hook. But Belle prevails in the end and leads him away from a bloodied Hook. In the fairytale land that was, Belle confronts the yaoguai and with some quick thinking and fairy dust reveals it to be Prince Phillip. She leads him back to Mulan and I guess we know how their journey to find Aurora began.

At Granny’s, Snow and Charming are house hunting but not agreeing on anything. Charming realized he doesn’t want to die in Storybrooke. But Snow doesn’t want to go back, since there’s nothing to go back to. It seems they need to figure out their priorities and what they want. We have a sort of light moment between Emma and Henry where he’s sketching out a blueprint for how they can change the loft once Snow and Charming move out. They don’t far (just talking about the armory) when Archie shows up and officially clears Regina’s name. That night, Rumple and Belle head to the town line. Rumple pours the potion on the shawl and crosses over without issue. He’s about to say goodbye to Belle when Hook shows up and shoots Belle, causing her to fall across the town line unprotected. Rumple is enraged by Hook’s actions and is about to firebomb the crap out of our sexier-than-Johnny-Depp pirate when a car with Pennsylvania plates comes creaming down the road. Rumple manages to throw himself and Belle clear of the path but Hook gets hit and the car crashes. It seems an outsider has finally found their way to our sleepy little town.

Fringe 5.11: "The Boy Must Live"

“When we devised the plan to stop the invasion, you didn’t think we could succeed. You doubted yourself. I knew the tulip would give you strength as it had before. It was your symbol of hope and absolution. It gave you the courage to push on.”

If the last few episodes of “Fringe” have been a slowing down of the story, “The Boy Must Live” was a complete, grinding halt. The redeeming factor, though, was the always talented Michael Ceveris as Donald/September. Ceveris’ expert, Broadway-trained delivery made the massive amount of exposition in this episode at all watchable. This was, really, “Fringe’s” “Across the Sea,” the episode where the mythology is explained and the major questions are answered. It didn’t make me nearly as angry as its “Lost” counterpart, because we still spent the hour with the characters we know and care about the most – Walter, Peter, and Olivia. Even September, though he had a bigger role in this episode than usual, has been a presence in the show since it’s early days. What upset me about “Across the Sea” was that it was an hour near the end of the series spent with characters we barely knew, and definitely not the characters we would be missing once the show finally left the airwaves. As a non-rage inducing method of explaining some of the crucial points of the show’s mythology, “The Boy Must Live” was a success.

The episode opens with the team pretty much trying to figure out what to do with the information that the infamous Donald, helper of Walter some twenty some odd years ago, is actually September, albeit a version of September who looks human. Walter has an idea that is not unfamiliar to “Fringe” fans, and is probably a shout-out to the pilot. Walter, by the way, seems to have been magically healed by Michael’s touch in the last episode. I guess he’s no longer in danger of becoming Walternate. Walter gets into the infamous tank, ditches his boxers so he can feel “free” (kinda gross), and starts the hallucination/memory recall process. Walter focuses in on the image he remembers of Donald and tries to look for clues about where Donald might be. Walter sees New York skyline and the Williamsburg Bridge, and the team immediately knows exactly where to look for Donald. So they are on their way to New York yet again.

The team finds Donald/September exactly where they predicted, and he looks exactly the same as he did in Walter’s vision. He knows who everyone is right away, and he invites them inside his apartment. Much of the rest of the episode is the exposition I referred to earlier. We learn quite a lot about the background of the Observers generally and Michael specifically. The creation of the Observers all started when someone figured out that we could replace certain emotions with increased intelligence in the brain. Humans start doing away with the negative emotions first, like aggression, but then they just keep going farther and farther with it until virtually no emotion is left at all. Everything in the life of the Observers is planned to precision, because their hyperintelligence can’t abide disorder. They even reproduce asexually.

The very human-looking being we now see as Donald, surprisingly, isn’t in a pre-September state but a post-September state. His punishment for disobeying the Observers was to be made human. As in they ripped out the tech in his head. What made September so disobedient was, in fact, Michael. Michael is September’s son (he was the supplier of the genetic material that created Michael), and when he saw how early 21st Century humans cared for their offspring, it stirred some paternal instinct in September. So, understandably, Septeber had to keep the rest of the Observers from destroying Michael for being “defective.” September believes that Michael is essentially another step in evolution. He has Observer supersmarts and such, but he also has the ability to feel emotions. September thinks that if they send Michael to the scientists who were first experimenting with replacing emotions with intelligence, it will show those scientists that there is another way. Oh, and the upshot of all this is that when September said “the boy is important,” way back at Reiden Lake, he was talking about Michael, not Peter. So Peter’s not at all special, apparently. I don’t know why I find that so amusing, but I do.

Everybody has different reactions to September’s plan, really. Olivia and Peter have a chat about how it might mean they’ll get Etta back. Strangely, Olivia seems much more hopeful an excited about this than Peter does. I guess maybe Peter worked out all his Etta’s death rage issues during his brief stint as a semi-Observer himself. Walter, meanwhile, has a chat with September. He tells September that when Michael touched him and gave him memories of the original timeline, he also gave Walter an understanding that for this plan to work, he would have to sacrifice himself. September confirms that this is the case, and he tells Walter that when they were developing the plan, Walter had been insistent on being he sacrifice to atone for his past sins. September even breaks out the envelope that once held the infamous White Tulip.

Anyway, while all this has been going on, Windmark has been doing his own investigation. The Fringe team getting the better of him has really begun to piss him off. Yep, they’ve irritated him so much that he’s actually starting to feel emotions. He goes to the facility where Michael was grown, and he finds out that September was Michael’s father and also a friend to the Fringe team. September had a chip implanted in him, so Windmark immediately tries to track that. Windmark is determined to catch the team even though his superior has told him that they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. When Windmark and the other Observers arrive at September’s apartment, however, they see that he’s cut the tracking chip out of his head, and he and the Fringe team are long gone. Windmark and the other Observers start scouring the place for clues, and there’s a funny little vignette where Windmark turns on some of September’s jazz music and one of the other Observers starts tapping his foot to it. The actual Fringe team is at a warehouse nearby, where September has stashed some tech that they’re going to need to send Michael into the future. A bomb automatically goes off in September’s apartment, but the Observers manage to zoop out of there and to safety down on the street.

The Observers begin (with the help of Loyalists, of course,) to cordon off the area around September’s apartment. The Fringe team is still close enough to the apartment that they find themselves surrounded. The team splits up, with Peter and Water together and Olivia and Michael together. September leaves the group, saying he has some other things to prepare before the plan can be set into motion. Everyone is trying to head for the monorail, which seems like a kind of dumb move considering Observers and Loyalists are reaching the monorail car by car. They’re all very close to being caught when Michael decides to step off the train and just stand on the platform. Of course, the Observers swarm around him pretty quickly, and they instantly realize who he is. All Windmark says to him is “Hello,” while being all creepy and snake-like.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Person of Interest 2.12: "Prisoner's Dilemma"

“It’s funny how the choices you make change who you become. Pick one path or the other. You hear an explosion in a bank, try to help and suddenly all these years later, I still wonder if I’d re-upped after the towers came down, who would I be now?”
- Reese

We pick up pretty much right where we left off. John is still in custody in Rikers and Donnelly has tasked Carter with shaking our 4 suspects and using her superior interrogation skills to make them crack. Carter chats with each of our guys and they give their explanation of why they were in the bank the day of the explosion and what they do. On the surface they all look legit. Which is the problem for Donnelly. It’s all too neat and clean. He has men looking into the three suspects who were hired to take out our Bonnie and Clyde as their aliases live out of state. So Donnelly and Carter take a trip to John Warren’s Wall Street investment firm. Carter has a little chat with Finch after seeing the place (it looks legit) and she learns that John Warren is Reese’s most complete cover and is never used for work. It also most closely mirrors his real past which I found to be very intriguing, picking out which details we knew from past flashbacks were false and which might be true. I also had a serious “aww” moment (okay so a couple) when Finch got back to the library and Bear is sad that Reese isn’t with him. Poor pup misses his other daddy.

We have a very small side plot with Lionel this week so I won’t take much time on it. I do like they are using him more. He basically gets assigned to watch out for this week’s POI, a pretty Russian model. We see them throughout the episode as they meet 9and Lionel gets pepper spray in the eyes), to them being chased by the Armenian mob and finally escaping their pursuers. Lionel even gets a kiss from the leggy blonde afterwards. Of course I have a feeling he’s going to have a hell of a time come the next new episode.

Things aren’t going to end well for Reese. Not only does he have Donnelly trying to nail his ass but the government types from the beginning of the season (the ones looking into Corwin’s death) are sending a guy into Rikers to kill all 4 suspects. He gets arrested for discharging a weapon in public. Back in Rikers, Donnelly gives Carter an earpiece so he can direct the interrogations. That’s not really letting Carter do her job, buddy. Just saying. Anyway, Carter goes back in with Reese and we learn he killed someone in 1995 in Bosnia. He doesn’t like talking about it. I have to say this was probably the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen Reese. He usually hides his emotions well. We also get a flashback to Prague in 2007 where Reese and Kara complete a mission by taking out a US traitor and some Asian businessmen trying to buy secret government tech. Reese is a little uncomfortable but Kara tells him he needs to learn to love his work (which is basically being a killer). Back in 2012, Carter and Donnelly go hard at all 4 guys, testing the limits of their cover IDs. And so far they’re all holding up. Except that Carter is being a little nicer to Reese. She claims it’s to build rapport. Pretty soon our 4 suspects are down to 3 when Donnelly uncovers that one of our guys is an ex-Navy Seal. So he’s off the board.

The warden steps in to order the prisoners to get an hour of yard time and of course Reese ends up getting summoned to a meeting with Elias. I have to say, I love the continuity on this show and how characters don’t just show up and fade and are forgotten. Elias still has a lot of pull in the crime world and he does owe Reese for saving his life. Anyway, Elias offers Reese his assistance and Reese tells him to get a photo of the government guy to Finch. Reese can’t be seen talking to Elias though since Donnelly once thought Reese was in Elias’s employ. Luckily, Lionel IDs the guy as one of the government spooks sniffing around Corwin’s death. We also get another flashback, this time to 2009 in Paris where Kara is a little annoyed at Reese for question their orders of who to kill. But they do their gig without another complaint.

In the present, Carter is trying to get Reese to explain why he didn’t re-enlist after 9/11 when one of the other suspects says he wants to talk. He reveals his true identity and wants immunity. Donnelly says if he can tell them who the man in the suit is, he’s got a deal. Finch then triggers the fire alarm so Carter can slip her phone into the suspect’s pocket. Finch bargains with him to finger the other remaining suspect instead of Reese. Unfortunately, Donnelly’s paranoia is rising and he distrusts the ID. So he’s going to go after Reese, especially since the government guy got to the first suspect (made it look like a hanging suicide).

We jump back to Paris in 2009 again to find Reese and Kara finishing up their op when they get another gig. Kara offers Reese some time off but he says he’s fine. She’s apparently tired of him being a killer and a nice guy and tells him to choose. This prompts him to start snogging her. Back in Rikers, Carter is going full court press on Reese. He continues to answer her questions while Finch backstops the information but he needs time to build up a backstory for any relationship Reese brings up. So we learn a little about Carter’s military time. The first time she killed a man was during a 2am raid where someone failed to clear a room. Then Reese launches into a story about Alison West, the woman he loved, and the reason he didn’t re-enlist in the military. It’s a slightly opposite path story to what really happened, as we know. He and Jessica were in Mexico, not Niagara Falls and he did go back, despite not wanting to lose her. The truth bleeds through, though when he admits that he still lost her. I have to say, even if it was only half-truths, this scene made me tear up. The music, the way Carter was so wrapped in Reese’s tale and the way he spoke with that real emotion, that he really had lost the one person he’d loved. Damn Jim Caviezel!

Donnelly still isn’t convinced Reese isn’t his man so he sticks him the yard with the Aryans (he ran into the guy who took Bear from earlier) and they beat the crap out of him. But Reese doesn’t fight back (Donnelly was hoping for some mad skills to pop up). Elias steps in just as our government spook is about to step in and stick Reese. Carter is obviously upset and goes hard at their last remaining suspect. She pushes him enough that he tries to choke her out. Reese is free to go and we get a rather amusing bit where Finch is in prison guard garb with a shot gun ready to storm the castle and get Reese out. But Carter has beat him to it. She and Reese have a chat on a bridge but before she can learn whether any of what he said was real, Donnelly shows up and arrests them both. Unfortunately, as Finch is out walking Bear, the Machine alerts him to a new number. Donnelly is in deep shit. A big truck flips the SVU with him, Reese and Carter in it and from out of the shadows, a woman appears and shoots Donnelly twice in the head. Can’t say I was sorry to see him go. And we finally have the dream team reunion. Kara greets her old partner (we flash back briefly to prior flashbacks where they were told by Agent Snow to kill each other in China) and she drugs him. I can’t wait to see how Reese reacts after waking up from his drug/car crash stupor.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nashville 1.09: "Be Careful of Stones That You Throw"

“I only hate sunburns and hangovers. This is just business.”

“Nashville kicked off the spring season with much the same level of drama and energy that characterized the fall season. The ongoing plotlines are still ongoing, and everything is chugging along as it should. Rayna and Juliette are going on tour, but since the tour hasn’t actually started yet, there weren’t any real fireworks. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what happens when those two ladies have to spend that much time with each other. I was also kind of glad to see Scarlett and Gunnar find their way back to each other professionally, if not romantically. I think I’d really just like to see Scarlett choose herself for a while at this point. Other characters seem to be going on a more self-destructive bent. Deacon’s being moody while on tour, Juliette’s having a quickie wedding, and Avery’s ditching his band. Somehow I don’t think things will end well in any of those particular situations. So, on with the drama!

The episode opens with Rayna in the recording studio. She’s laying down her half of the “Wrong Song” track, but Juliette is nowhere to be found. That would be because Juliette and Sean just had a quickie courthouse wedding, and they’re enjoying consummating the marriage in a limo. A phone call reminds Juliette that she’s supposed to be at the studio, and she tells the limo driver to go there over Sean’s protest. Before Juliette’s arrival, the managers talk to Rayna about the tour plans. The tour is set to start that Sunday, which is just fine by Rayna. She just wants to take the girls and get away from Teddy and Nashville in general as soon as possible. I kind of don’t blame her, really. Up until the end of this episode (more on that in a bit), Teddy had been a complete slimeball and I really didn’t get what Rayna saw in him at all. When Juliette finally arrives at the studio, Rayna is quite surprised to hear about the wedding, but she stays classy and suppresses the snark as much as she can while she tells Juliette about the tour plans.

There’s plenty of drama still happening over in Scarlett-Gunnar land too, since Gunnar tried to kiss Scarlett and it didn’t go especially well. They’re back to trying to write songs, but it’s not going well at all. Gunnar is criticizing all of the lyrics Scarlett throws out, and it gets to the point where Gunnar just wants to write on his own. Meanwhile, the other point in the triangle, Avery, is still in Atlanta. And he’s agreed to ditch his band for a chance at a solo music career, even though he’s not really loving the style of music that is being produced from his work. When Avery gets back to Nashville, he finally breaks the news to the rest of the band, and to say that they don’t take it well would be an understatement. One of the band members, J.T., literally tries to fight him. Avery then stops by Scarlett’s house to drop off his keys. He says all the right things, and they end up having sex, but the happiness doesn’t exactly last for long. As soon as Avery tells Scarlett about ditching his band, she kicks him out. Again.

Rayna and Juliette both face some pushback from the men in their life over the tour schedule. Sean has gone and told his parents that they got married, and his mom is insisting on a big church wedding to make the whole thing official in the eyes of the church (and probably just to piss off Juliette, too). When Juliette says she has to go out on tour on Sunday, Sean’s mom says that they’ll do the wedding on Saturday. Surprisingly, Juliette agrees, mostly to prove Sean’s mom wrong for her comment about how Juliette would never truly be part of their family. Understandably, Teddy’s not happy at all about Rayna’s plan to take the girls on tour, and he brings his gripe to Lamar. Lamar and Tandy then corner Rayna about her plan, and Lamar, classy guy that he is, threatens to reveal Maddie’s paternity (Deacon, I presume) if Rayna doesn’t change her plans.

Now would probably be a good point to address Deacon’s little side plot. He’s on tour with the Revel Kings and having fantastic success. Of course, though, he’s not really happy. I think he probably just wants to be back with Rayna. Actually, no probablies about it – dude wants to be back with Rayna. A music journalist that Deacon has known for years is working on an article about the Revel Kings, and Deacon and the journalist get awfully cozy. Deacon is just out of sorts in general while out on tour, and he’s very interested to hear that Rayna and Juliette are going out on tour as well. Mostly he wants to know who the band leader will be. Deacon invites the music journalist up to his hotel room, where obviously they have sex, and the journalist says she’s worried about Deacon. She mentions bits and pieces about their past and a car accident, but nothing concrete. Presumably this incident she’s alluding to is related to Deacon finally deciding to go to rehab.

Surprisingly (considering how much I loathe Teddy), Teddy was definitely the better husband in dealing with the crazy tour schedule. Sean is really not thrilled about it at all, which I guess makes sense considering he’s a newlywed and all. Juliette and her mother in law are sniping as per usual while talking wedding plans, and Juliette mentions that her manager will be walking her down the aisle. Which is just sad, really. Sean decides it would be a great idea to arrange a lunch meeting for Juliette and her mom so Juliette can tell her about the wedding. Because of course that will end well. Predictably, the lunch is a disaster. Juliette’s mom basically says that Juliette has the same demons she does and marriage won’t fix that hole in her heart. She’s probably right (sort of), but it’s awfully presumptuous of her to assume that Juliette has the exact same problems relating to people.

Scarlett is working on setting up the Bluebird for the night when J.T. stops by to talk to her about what happened with Avery. They kind of commiserate over being screwed over by Avery (they think they should start a band called “Avery’s Exes”), and J.T. says that the band needs a new lead singer fast. Scarlett suggests that she sing for their next show, since she already knows all the songs. The resulting performance is, of course, awesome, and I think (but I couldn’t tell for sure) that Gunnar was rocking out in the audience. What I am sure about is that Avery later saw a YouTube vid of the performance and was quite jealous. It was a superior version of the song he was recording at that very moment. After getting her confidence back thanks to her moment of triumph, she returns to the writing room, and she and Gunnar get back to work like professionals. And the result is gorgeous, as always.

Rayna storms her way to campaign headquarters to confront Lamar about his de facto blackmail, and Teddy finally, once and for all, proves he has a spine. Teddy is really pissed off when he hears that Lamar threatened to tell Maddie about her biological father if Rayna didn’t cancel her tour plans. He tells Lamar that he’s Maddie’s father even if she isn’t his biologically, and his kids are not going to be used as pawns in Lamar’s game. Later that evening, Rayna and Teddy have a heart to heart. They acknowledge that their relationship is over, but they want to, for some misguided reason, keep up appearances while on tour. The girls are going to stay home for most of the tour, with occasional phone calls and visits as per usual. I really don’t know how they think that’s going to be a good thing for the girls. I question the whole “staying together for the kids” mentality in general, because kids are smart and know when their parents aren’t happy, and the longer the parents insist on staying together, the more miserable the kids get, because they think they can fix it somehow.

Anyway, Juliette and Sean end the episode in a similarly bad place. Juliette tells Sean what her mom said about the whole marriage won’t fix her thing, and they’re both pretty uneasy about it. Juliette tries to deflect, saying that they’ll be just fine while she’s on tour, but it’s pretty obvious that’s not the case. By the end of the episode, Juliette is all in her wedding dress and ready for the wedding. Sean gives her his grandmother’s cameo necklace to complete the outfit, which causes Juliette to freak out more than a little. We see her in the limo, presumably on the way to the church. The limo driver announces that they’ve arrived, but instead of the church, they’re at Juliette’s plane.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

New Girl 2.12: "Cabin"

“But I need, like, a backstory. Why am I mad at the can?’

I adore “New Girl,” and I pretty much consider it my favorite show on television right now, but this episode was most definitely not one of their best. It was more odd than anything else. We said goodbye to Angie in a rather bizarre fashion. While I’m 100% on the Nick/Jess train, I would have liked to have seen Nick and Angie together for just a little longer because I think Angie was really helping Nick turn into the person he’ll need to be before he’ll be ready for a relationship with Jess. I guess most of the oddity came from the fact that the main plotline involved four of the characters drinking absinthe. Lots of absinthe. This episode just felt like the creative team was trying too hard. It was a midseason klunker of a filler episode, which I suppose most shows experience now and then. It’s just a shame that it had to happen on the first episode back after winter hiatus.

So the episode opens with Jess telling Nick that she and Sam are going to be spending a romantic weekend at a cabin in the woods. She’s a bit nervous, though (which doesn’t really make sense…Jess is nothing if not always authentically herself, even when it’s to her detriment), so she wants Nick and Angie to come along too. Nick’s not too enthusiastic about the idea until Jess says it will be free. Then he’s all over it. Sam’s not too happy to see Nick and Angie roll up on Angie’s motorcycle, though. I think he (understandably) thought it was going to be a romantic weekend with just him and Jess. Nick and Angie with their screaming and running around like little kids kind of kill the mood, you know? Jess and Sam play Boggle (which they contemplate turning into “strip Boggle,” however that would work) while Nick and Angie break in the bed upstairs.

When Nick and Angie are done having their fun, the craziness just continues. Angie breaks into a first floor storage closet and takes out some guns. She wants to go outside and shoot them, and for some reason Nick is right there with her. Nick and Angie just start randomly shooting some rifles in the air (which is really dangerous, by the way). Sam thinks this looks like a lot of fun and wants to join in, and Jess begrudgingly joins in too. The fun ends, however, when Jess accidentally shoots the transformer on the property, shutting off all electricity to the cabin. To pass the time, the gang decides to make use of a bottle of absinthe that was also in the closet with all the guns. Did I mention that this is Sam’s boss’ cabin? What sort of pediatrician has a closet of guns and absinthe in a remote cabin? It’s a little scary, really.

Anyway, back in Los Angeles, quite possibly the most bizarre subplot in the show’s history takes place. Winston and Schimidt are enjoying a night out at the bar, and Schmidt gets a bit jealous when he sees Winston talking and joking effortlessly with a group of fellow black men. Schmidt has the epiphany that Winston must not feel free to be his inner black man self at the loft with three white folks, so Schmidt takes it as his mission to make Winston feel for comfortable. And the lengths to which Schmidt goes to achieve this goal get progressively more bizarre. He insists they order out soul food for dinner, even though Winston really wants Chinese. He buys Winston a Rastafarian hat. Winston, understandably, thinks Schmidt is being rather ridiculous, so he concocts a pretty awesome plan for making Schmidt feel stupid. He tells Schmidt that what he really misses from his childhood is crack cocaine. Schmidt, since he’s completely committed to doing whatever needs to be done to help Winston feel more comfortable with his blackness at the loft, agrees to help Winston score some. They end up in a rather precarious (and hilarious) situation where they have a drug dealer accidentally locked up in the back of their car. Surpringly (through quick thinking and talking), they get out of it alive and come to an understanding that Winston is just fine with things at the loft the way they are.

Back at the cabin, the gang (except Nick…at first) are all pretty trashed thanks to the Absinthe. Jess runs upstairs to vomit, and for some reason Nick runs after to try and take care of her. I was thinking that should probably be Sam’s job, but I guess as the lest trashed person, Nick through it was his responsibility? Plus he really does have a thing for Jess and won’t admit it. Anyway, when Nick and Jess come back downstairs, they find Sam and Angie rather sloppily making out. That, understandably, causes a bit of a ruckus. Jess is really upset with Sam, and Nick pretends to be cool with Angie because they have an “open relationship.” Jess knows that Nick has stronger feelings than that for Angie, though, and she tries to get him to admit it.

Each couple discusses the day’s events over pillow talk, and the outcome of each conversation is very different. Sam seems to kind of like that Jess was nervous about their weekend. I guess because it shows she’s invested in the relationship. They go to sleep quite happy. Nick basically tells Angie that while he loves her crazy, he’d like her to tone it down just a hair because he would like for their relationship to last. Come morning, Jess and Sam are still very much together (obviously), while Angie has left, taking Nick’s car with her. And thus ends Olivia Munn’s brief stint on “New Girl,” I suppose. It had its ups and downs for sure, but I think that overall, I lied Angie. She brought good energy to the show. Anyway, poor Nick has to bum a ride back to LA from Jess and Sam. At first he offers to help pay for gas, but then he realizes he doesn’t have any cash. Instead, he offers to pay in “Nick Bucks,” which are redeemable for “smiles and any one item from [his] bureau.” I loved this because earlier this week my coworkers and I were so nerdy that our procrastinating conversation out in the hallway happened to be about the viability of random alternative currencies. Who knew that “New Girl” would be that on point? I always did say that the creative team and I seem to share a brain.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Once Upon a Time 2.10: "The Cricket Game"

“It’s impressive that we can still provide her with a few traumatic childhood memories at this stage in the game.”

“Once Upon a Time” returned for the spring (yeah it’s only January, but I’m doing to say spring, damnit!) season last night with a fairly strong episode. The creative team had a lot to accomplish this one. Not only did they have to have engaging Storybrooke and Enchanted Forest flashback plots, but they had to set up the plot arc for the second half of the season. It looks like we’ll be focused on Cora’s mission to destroy Regina and Regina being super emo about everything. I’m not super enthused about that because I could really care less about Regina’s secret pain. We got way too many flashbacks with that theme in the first half of the season. I’m a little wary of this direction also because Cora is a bit moustache-twirling. We have no clue why she’s so evil or seems to hate her daughter so much. I guess you’re wondering now why I called this episode “fairly strong.” I’d say it’s probably because Cora wasn’t really in it all that much and the Enchanted Forest flashbacks filled in an interesting gap in the mythology.

The episode begins not long after the winter finale ended. Hook and Cora pull into the harbor near Storybrooke in Hook’s rather gorgeous ship. Hook wants to split from Cora and seek his revenge against Rumpelstiltskin on his own. Cora has other ideas, though. She shows Hook that, unexpectedly, magic has arrived in Storybrooke. Hook might have a chance against Rumpelstiltskin in a world with no magic, but when Rumpelstiltskin has his full power, Hook would be in trouble. We don’t really see Hook again until near the end of the episode, which is a shame, because he’s plenty pretty to look at. I’d like to see more Hook-centric flashbacks, really. Bring on the pirates!

Anyway, in Storybrooke proper, Emma and Henry walk into quite possibly the most awkward situation ever. Charming and Snow are, shall we say, making up for lost time, and yeah, Emma and Henry walk in on them. Somehow Henry is still really naive and doesn’t realize what’s going on. Emma’s plenty traumatized, though. She’s pretty focused on her mission, though. She is determined to make tacos for the big “welcome home” gathering at Granny’s. The actual welcome home party is fun for everyone at first, then Regina shows up and turns it into angst city. Nobody except Emma (who invited her to the party in the first place) seems especially interested in forgiving Regina for her evil past. And I suppose I can understand that. She may have her secret pain, but she’s still done some pretty heinous things. Hook and Cora watch Regina as she mopes home, and they comment that she seems to be almost broken already.

The flashbacks in this episode deal with the aftermath of Snow and Charming and their army defeating King George. Regina puts up a bit of a fight, but they manage to capture her and disable her magic, too. Once the fighting is over, Charming and Snow hold a sort of final council of war with all their friends. Their main goal is to figure out what to do with Regina. Charming thinks they should kill her, because as long as she lives, she’s going to keep trying to hurt him and Snow. There’s some disagreement on this, but the general consensus seems to be that killing Regina would be a good idea. I’m kind of disappointed in Charming for that one. Dude’s got no mercy.

Turns out Charming has no mercy in Storybrooke, either. Regina is seen in public getting really pissed at Archie for divulging details about their sessions to Emma. Later, we see someone who appears to be Regina walk into Archie’s office. She uses magic and a bit of strangulation to seemingly kill Archie. As she walks out onto the street, however, we see that the culprit is actually Cora. She’s orchestrating this grand scheme to try and ruin Regina’s life for no good reason. The next morning, Pogo the dalmation alerts Emma and Ruby that something is seriously wrong at Archie’s office. They end up breaking in and find him unresponsive on the ground. Regina is arrested almost immediately due to her recent argument with Archie, and Charming wants to completely throw the book at her.

The next flashback shows us Regina’s execution. It’s an execution by arrow firing squad, which seems like an especially gruesome way to go out to me. It’s not like an arrow is going to kill instantly, and having a bunch of them hurled at you all at once just sounds unnecessarily painful. Even hanging would probably be more humane. Anyway, despite having been given advice to appear contrite at her execution, Regina makes a bit show of saying that her only regret is that she didn’t cause more misery and death. She especially regrets not having killed Snow. The arrows start to fly, but Snow puts a stop to it. She says it’s not the right way to go about dealing with Regina.

Much like her mom did in the flashback, Emma convinces Charming and Snow to let Regina go free (she shouldn’t have to do any convincing since she’s the Sheriff, but whatever). Emma’s logic is that Regina clearly was surprised by the news that Archie was dead, so she couldn’t have committed the crime. Regina must have been framed, and the person in Storybrooke most likely to want to frame Regina is Mr. Gold. The gang pays him a visit, and he has a device that will allow them to see Pongo’s memories of the attack on Archie (Pongo was in the room during the attack). In order to make sure everything is on the up and up, Emma is going to use the device (and her magic) to make this happen. Obvisouly, since Cora was impersonating Regina, it looks very much like Regina is the culprit after all.

Back in the Enchanted Forest, Charming is really dubious about Snow’s plan not to kill Regina. He still thinks that the threat to their soon-to-be family needs to be eliminated completely. Snow, however, has a plan. Unfortunately, however, that plan involves making a deal with Rumpelstiltskin. Snow ends up setting quite the trap for Regina (although we don’t know it’s a trap when it’s happening). She offers to set Regina free and goes so far as to even let her out of the dungeon. Regina, of course, squanders this chance by trying to stab and kill Snow, but to Regina’s chagrin, Rumpelstiltskin has put a protection spell on Snow. Snow and Charming banish Regina from their kingdom. Later, Rumpelstiltskin offers some help to Regina. He says that this protection spell only works in the Enchanted Forest, and he plants the idea in Regina’s mind that she should use a curse that will take everyone to another land. I don’t understand why Rumpelstiltskin can’t just send himself to our world if he really wants to search for Bae that much. Why all the manipulation?

The Storybook crew similarly has to set up a trap for Regina. Their trap involves blowing fairy dust on Regina to take away her magic. Understandably, Regina doesn’t take being accused of Archie’s death well. To make things even worse, Emma is determined to tell Henry what is going on. This has the potential to permanently turn Henry against Regina, since Henry considered Archie to be a good friend. After school, Emma takes Henry aside and tells him what happened as Regina looks on from her car, completely devastated. Over on Hook’s ship, Cora shows Hook that she hasn’t been ignoring his reason for coming to Storybrooke. She has Archie kidnapped in the hold of the ship. He knows everyone in Storybrooke’s secrets, so Cora thinks that Hook may be able to get some of Rumpelstiltskin’s secrets out of him. Will it help Hook get his revenge? Probably not.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Person of Interest 2.11: "2pR"

“Sometimes your mistakes can surprise you. My biggest mistake, for instance, brought me here. At exactly this moment when you might need some help.”
- Finch

We start this episode back in 2010 as a subway driver reports that he couldn’t stop and hit a kid. We jump back to the present to Rikers where Reese and three fellow suit-wearing criminals are getting cheek swabs taken. Agent Donnelly doesn’t want them to have any contact with anyone for the next three days. Carter is a little nervous, since now with Reese’s DNA, blood and prints in the system, he’s a sure lock to get nabbed by the FBI. Speaking of Reese, he gets a call from Finch once he’s in his cell. He tries to take responsibility but Finch says he’s got a contingency in place to solve the problem and promises Reese he’ll be a free man in 72 hours. And that’s all we see of Reese until the very end of the episode.

But at the moment, he’s got another number to deal with, a teenage boy named Caleb. So Finch is going in undercover as a math substitute teacher. He’s obviously rigged it so that the real teacher is gone. After seeing that they’re doing addition (adding 1-100) as punishment, he tries to show them a short cut. But all the kids are just absorbed in their phones, playing games and texting. Caleb is doodling in his notebook and tosses a page in the trash after the bell rings. Finch is getting some back up from Fusco today. I have to say it was nice to see Lionel around and have a bigger role. He learns that Caleb’s older brother Ryan died two years ago after being hit by a subway car. Guess we know the importance of the jump back in time. Lionel learns that mom is a drunk so that’s why Caleb doesn’t really try at school.

Finch breaks into the Principal’s office after hours and finds that Caleb is far from an average student. He’s a genius just hiding his talents. Lionel is off to see his mom to check out his home life. Meanwhile, Carter is getting extra criminal and steals and deletes Reese’s fingerprints from the system. She’s going to steal the DNA evidence from the FBI, too but needs a little help from Finch. I have to say I’m not sure I like how comfortable Carter is breaking the law. I know she’s helped the boys out of jams before but this is a whole different level.

The next day at school, Finch lets Caleb know that Finch is aware of his intellect. Caleb just brushes it off. It was about this point I realized that the actor playing Caleb is the newest squintern on Bones. Very cool. And then Finch gives a really cool lesson on pi. I didn’t know that it contained every possible number that could come up in your life (birthdate, social security number) or every word in existence. Gotta say, I would have loved to have Finch as a math teacher. Later that day, he intercedes with Caleb and some kids dealing drugs. Finch has Lionel follow them to make sure Caleb is safe. Finch also discovers Caleb is an extraordinary coder. He monitors the computer science class and we get the tidbit of knowledge there was a hacker that ensured the internet would be a public forum. I believe our dear Mr. Finch is to thank for that. That night, while Lionel is following the drug money, Finch is following Caleb. It turns out that Caleb may be a drug dealer and he’s just hiding it from everyone. The trail of money leads both Finch and Lionel to the same street corner.

While the boys are following the money, Carter is working her sexy to snag some guy’s DNA and breaking into the FBI lab to switch it out for Reese’s DNA. Yeah, not liking her criminal element. Things are getting dicey for Caleb, now. He’s gotten a message from his supplier for a meeting at 2pm. So Finch and Lionel have to follow him. It also looks like the computer science teacher is less than honorable, copying Caleb’s code from his computer. Finch returns the piece of handwritten code Caleb dropped during his altercation with the thus selling drugs at school and makes a suggestion that impresses Caleb. The meeting he’s heading to doesn’t go well. The thugs’ old boss has shot Caleb’s supplier. And now Caleb has a deadline of 8pm tomorrow night to get the money that he made selling at the school. The computer science teacher sets up a meeting of his own with an old college buddy and shows him that what Caleb was coding was a new compression algorithm that makes it easier to store large amounts of data on smaller devices (demonstrated by fitting several terabytes of data from the Library of Congress on the flash drive). He spears he’s the coder and there are no other entanglements. So things really aren’t looking good for Caleb.

Lionel is continuing to dig into Ryan’s death. The transit cop that responded had initially called for backup and then cancelled because Caleb at first told him there were two kids who got into a shoving match with Ryan. Lionel talks to the cop and learns that Ryan and Caleb were running across the tracks having a competition and being older, Ryan didn’t want to lose to his little brother and he didn’t make it back across. Poor kid. He keeps talking about a trip he’s taking and that’s why he needs the money. Finch intercepts communication that the computer science teacher needs to meet with Caleb at the same time he’s supposed to meet the drug dealer. I think the writers did a nice job of ramping up the tension and really pushing the story forward at this point. After some more digging though, it turns out he was setting up a trust for his mom. Finch confronts the computer science teacher who admits he was working with Caleb and was going to give him full credit. Lionel was keeping tabs on the drug dealers and since Caleb doesn’t show, they take off. After speaking with the teacher, Finch has a big “ah-ha” moment and finds Caleb at the subway. He’s going to kill himself because he feels responsible for his brother’s death. The name of the program, 17621 was the age his brother died and the age Caleb would die if he goes through with it.

Finch shows up and manages to talk Caleb down. They bond a little and as his time at the school comes to a close, Finch gives Caleb the first 3,000 digits of pi with the promise that his phone number is in there somewhere. And we get another clue that he was the un-caught hacker. I kind of hope we see Caleb again. I know the show does bring people back. For all we know, he could help take down Root one day. In Rikers, things are looking good for Reese. His DNA didn’t match. Unfortunately, Donnelly has gotten all four guys named enemy combatants and is going to have Carter interrogate all of them, starting with Reese. Our boy isn’t out of the woods yet.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fringe 5.10: “Anomaly XB-6783746”

“So in reality, you’re the animal.”

This was certainly an emotional episode of “Fringe” as we said goodbye to the mysterious Nina Sharp. Nina has been a fixture of the show since its early days, although she seemed to vacillate between good and evil throughout the course of the series. I’ll miss Nina for sure, although there are only two more episodes left in which to miss her. In that case, I guess I’ll say that I will miss the show overall. It’s gotten the point where it’s pretty easy to see the gears of the show grinding towards the endgame. We also got another memory flood sequence ripped right out of “Lost” season 6. This time, the recipient was Walter, and it allowed him to remember something very important about the identity of Donald. More on that later, though, because I think it’s a more interesting plot twist than Nina’s death and don’t want to quite so blatantly spoil it. I wonder if the “Desmond wake up” moment will help Walter retain his old, loveable self in spite of his retored, kind of evil brain. Sort of like how Peter’s moment made him stop trying to become an Observer. I guess (the rather limited remaining) time will tell.

Not a lot really happened in this episode until the last fifteen minutes or so. The team has brought Michael the Observer kid back to the lab, but he’s not talking. As in he isn’t saying one word. Walter had been hoping Michael could shed some light on the part he was supposed to play in the plan to defeat the Observers, and the restored pieces of Walter’s brain are making Walter cranky and impatient. The team decides that they need to enlist Nina’s help to crack this particular case. Nina meets up with the team at the Ministry of Science, and she says that she can most definitely help. She’s got a device that could help Michael express his thoughts. It’s not at the Ministry of Science, though. It’s at a nearby, hidden Massive Dynamic “black lab.”

At the lab, Nina runs some tests and determines that Michael is indeed trying to communicate. She puts a sort of halo device on him, but it doesn’t end up translating Michael’s thoughts like everyone hoped it would. Nina figures out that Michael is thinking on a completely different level that humans in general just can’t comprehend. The only way to get around this is to have a second halo device. Michael might be able to communicate directly to someone that way. Nina doesn’t have a second halo device at the black lab, but there is another one at the Ministry of Science warehouse. And she’s fairly certain that the QA manager there, Hastings, will be able to smuggle it out for her. Unfortunately for Nina (and the rest of the team), however, getting that second halo device isn’t going to be as easy as Nina hoped.

The Observers have been looking into the incident a few episodes ago where the team broke into a building and caused some serious damage along the way. The break-in involved using some tech that was smuggled out of the Ministry of Science, so the Observers put the warehouse on lockdown. They’re telepathically scanning each of the employees, trying to figure out who compromised the facility. Hastings is in the line to be interviewed, and he’s looking mighty uncomfortable. By the time He’s up to be scanned, the Observers have figured out that Nina is on the side of the Resistance, and they’re pretty sure Hastings is her inside man at the warehouse. Hastings desperately tries to keep his thoughts to himself, but he ends up confirming the Observers’ suspicions inadvertently.

Because Nina (understandably) can’t get in contact with Hastings, Peter and Olivia decide to retrieve the halo device from the warehouse themselves. They successfully retrieve the halo, but they also see that the Observers are interrogating Hastings. Then a Loyalist goes into the interrogation room, tells the Observers something, and all the Observers disappear. This something was the fact that they were able to locate Nina when she stepped outside the black lab to call Peter and Olivia. Nina and Michael are in serious trouble, and Peter and Olivia need to get back to the black lab as quickly as possible. They’re too late though. The Observers find Nina (but not Michael, thankfully) and start interrogating her. They get some information out of Nina, but nothing that would betray Michael or the rest of the team’s location. Windmark, who is overseeing this whole mess, infodump’s a bit about Michael’s past. He’s an Observer anomaly and would have been terminated if the Resistance hadn’t snatched him up. Anyway, Nina is disturbed that she would even be able to give up as much information as she already has, though. Her resistance is waning, and she has to take drastic action. She gets her hands on a gun, and she basically blows her head off before the Observers can scan her again.

From Nina’s death on, the emotional pummeling doesn’t let up for the rest of the episode. The entire team (even Walter) is devastated to see that Nina has died. At first they’re worried that the Observers have taken Michael, too. Eventually, they find him, though, hiding in what looks like equipment the Resistance had been using to dissect Observers (ew). When he sees that Nina has died, Michael has the first emotional reaction that the team has seen from him. He cries one tear. The team then heads back to Boston, and Walter connects up to Michael through the halo devices. At first, Walter is impatient and still not very kind to Michael, but as he starts to understand what Michael is trying to communicate, he seems to soften. Most importantly, Walter asks Michael if he knows anything about the plan to defeat the observers. In response, Michael takes of the halo device and touches Walter’s face. That’s when the Desmond memory smack moment happens. Walter sees a whole flood of different things, the most important of which is Donald, aka Michael Ceveris not in Observer make-up. I guess this means that “Donald” was somehow turned into the Observer we have come to know as September? The mind boggles.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

HIMYM 8.11 - 8.12: "The Final Page"

“Could we just see it, like, up in the living room? Or anywhere…less…gimp storage-y?”

So by the end of “The Final Page,” the moment I’ve been waiting for since the summer of 2009 (when I mainlined the first four seasons of HIMYM while studying for the bar exam) finally happened. But I’m not left with the warm fuzzies like I thought I would be back then. Mostly because said moment (Barney and Robin getting engaged…sorry…spoiler alert) relied on some serious Robin character assassination. And also because the creative team likes to play plot games so much that I’m afraid they’re going snatch this away from us just as quickly as they gave it. This especially comes into my mind because of Ted looking so mopey in post-wedding scenes earlier this season. Is he mopey because he wants Robin for himself or because Robin and Barney screwed up their relationship again? I feel like the latter is more likely because we know Ted’s supposed to meet the Mother at Barney and Robin’s wedding. If he had just met his future wife, I don’t think he’d be so down in the dumps. So yeah. I kind of feel cheated.

Anyway, this story was told in what was technically two episodes, each of which had different side plots, but the whole thing felt like a cohesive enough whole that I could cover it in one post. I found the side plots in the first half to be stronger. The way the two-parter was set up seemed to be the characters spending the first half part looking back at their pasts so they could be ready to go where they need to go in the second part. Thus, the first part centered around a trip taken by most of the gang back to Ted, Marshall, and Lily’s old stomping grounds of Wesleyan University. The whole thing begins when Ted mentions to the rest of the gang how he invited one of his old architecture professors to the big GNB headquarters opening. Ted didn’t do this to thank a mentor, though. He invited the professor because the professor once told Ted he would never be an architect, and Ted wants to gloat in his success a bit. The professor RSVP’d his regrets, though, so Ted’s not going to have his chance to gloat. This is what leads the gang up to Wesleyan.

The concept really tying the first half together is another HIMYM coined term. This time it’s “the pit.” As in the pit in your basement you’d like to throw one person in and go all Silence of the Lambs on them (speaking of, NBC, can we have “Hannibal” already…I need me some Bryan Fuller goodness). For Ted, it’s this professor. For Robin, it’s Patrice. For Lily and Marshall, it’s a college classmate named Daryl, played by none other than Seth Green. It was a pretty cool Willow/Oz reunion for you “Buffy” fans out there. Daryl has been kind of stalker-y to Lily and Marshall ever since they played hackey sack once back in college. He comments on all their Facebook updates and even comments on his own comments. Needless to say, Lily and Marshall aren’t thrilled when they arrive at Wesleyan and almost immediately run into Daryl. Robin, although she’s the only one of the group not to go to Wesleyan on Ted’s quest, also has her own “pit” related dilemma. Sandy told her she needs to fire someone on the WWN staff, and she comes very close to firing Patrice out of jealousy for Patrice dating Barney.

At Wesleyan, many of the characters sort of come to terms with their past. Daryl, who still pretty much looks exactly like he did in college, invites Lily and Marshall over to his house, and he takes them down to the basement because there is something he wants to show them there. Lily and Marshall are pretty much convinced he’s going to murder him, but he actually just wants to show them the business he started. It's a hackey sack vending company called “The Three Hack-migos.” It was actually an idea the three of them had in college, and it’s been very successful, so Daryl wants to give Lily and Marshall some compensation. When he finds out they thought he would murder him, however, he decides to keep the money for himself. Ted, meanwhile, sits in one of his former professor’s lectures. Ted goes into full douche mode and is captivated by the lecture. He’s sure his amazing professor is going to be proud of Ted’s accomplishment. Ted shows the professor the drawings of the GNB building, and the professor again says “you’ll never be an architect.” This devastates Ted until he finally gets it together by the end of the first part of the episode (after having built a model of the building to show his professor). Later, while waiting in the car for Lily and Marshall to get some snacks, Barney, who has been silent all episode thanks to a “jinx,” tricks Ted into unjinxing him and reveals that he’s going to propose to Patrice. He warns Ted to keep it a secret.

The second half of the episode mostly centers around the proposal. Ted struggles with whether or not to tell Robin about it, considering she might want to tell Barney how she feels before he goes and gets engaged (again). The only problem is that Ted has to decide if he’d still rather have Robin for himself. To work out this dilemma, Ted enlists the help of Marshall, who is supposed to be enjoying his first night out with Lily sine Marvin’s birth thanks to Mickey’s offer to babysit. Marshall, of course, thinks Ted should not tell Robin, but while on his way to the big GNB building opening with Robin, Ted’s conscience gets the better of him. He does tell Robin, of course. Robin tries to play it off like she doesn’t really care and is over Barney, but Ted can see that the opposite is really true. And Ranjit, who is (of course) driving the limo to the GNB event, can tell too. Ted eventually has Ranjit drive to the WWN building (where Barney is supposed to be proposing), and he basically forces Robin out of the car.

On the roof of the WWN building, Robin finds the “final page” of Barney’s playbook. It’s for a play called “The Robin.” Basically, everything since Barney’s declaration of love that broke up Robin and Nick has been deliberate. The drunken kiss in the rain, dating Patrice, telling Ted he was going to propose to Patrice. All of it. When she realizes this through reading the play, Robin is (rightfully) furious. She doesn’t see how she can trust someone who would go to such lengths to manipulate her. She doesn’t even want to kiss Barney after that. Then Barney pulls out a ring, asks Robin to marry him, and suddenly all is miraculously forgiven. Robin melts at the shiny and says “yes.” And this is where I became very disappointed in Robin. While I’ve been a huge fan of Barney and Robin for years and would very much like to see them together, Robin’s reaction here makes no sense. It should take a long time to build back trust after a massive manipulation like what Barney pulled. Not all women only want shiny jewelry, people!