Sunday, March 31, 2013

Arrow 1.18: "Salvation"

“I don’t like someone dangerous being out there. Someone else. Because typically, they don’t show my level of restraint.”
- Oliver

This week begins with the team in the man cave watching as the DA declines to prosecute a scummy slumlord. Oli is working out and I have to say I was glad for it. I miss him shirtless when we go a week without some skin. Felicity seems to be enjoying the view, too. In a somewhat uncharacteristic move, Oli gets Felicity’s permission to go after the slumlord. We cut to the guy’s house and we see him get dragged off into a van before Oli arrives. He’s going to find this guy (not to rescue him but to put down whoever is making it dangerous for him to do his work). Diggle intervenes, not giving Oli a choice but to give it a rest of the night. On the island, Oli and Slade are negotiating with the baddie to get off the island. They’re getting a boat ASAP.

Out in the Glades, Thea and Roy are getting kind of hot and heavy when a guy knocks on the door and gives Roy a package, reminding him they are meeting at 11pm the next night. Thea is curious about the package and finds a revolver in a paper bag. He and some other guys are going to rob a liquor store. Thea is pissed (and I kind of don’t’ blame her) and she storms off. Laurel gets home to find her parents not only getting along but seeming kind of chummy. I don’t know if that bothers her more or the fact that her dad is buying into the possibility that Sara is still alive. Meanwhile, Oli and Dig are at the diner and Oli was apparently hungrier than he realized. Dig lets into him a bit about how he’s isolating himself and that he’s like scary calm of late. He makes the point that even though Oli has been back in society for 8 months he’s still on that island. So true.

Things get complicated when everyone from the Glades gets a link sent to their phone. The guy that kidnapped the slumlord is giving him a chance to admit his sins. When the guy isn’t satisfied with what the slumlord has to say, he shoots him and then promises to take out more people who are poisoning the Glades. Oli is not a fan of this guy’s work. After some digging, they learn the guy goes by the Savior and went off the grid a year ago. Another video pops up and the Savior has the ADA who wouldn’t prosecute the slumlord. And apparently this guy lost his wife in a bodega shootout and they couldn’t prosecute them. He gives the ADA ten minutes to come up with an argument as to why he should live. Oliver tasks Felicity with finding where the guy is broadcasting from. On a rooftop, Moira and Frank have a little meeting. She thinks it is a good thing that Malcolm went to her to find his would-be assassin. Frank isn’t sure. He wired the money to the Triad in such a way that it shouldn’t trace back to him but he’s sent his daughter away just to be safe. He urges Moira to do the same with Thea and Oliver. Over at the legal aid office, Thea tries to get some advice from Laurel on dating bad boys but is interrupted by a call from the Chinese embassy. Apparently the woman in the photo is now in the States.

The feed goes live again and Felicity finds generally where the IP is being broadcast from. Oli races off on his motorcycle and gets a building but finds nothing. Felicity gives him another address but it’s just a vacant lot and Felicity watches in horror as the ADA is murdered. She is obviously freaked out and Oli tries to comfort her by explaining that sometimes they do lose. I just have a feeling Roy is going to get himself mixed up with this nut job.

Back on the island, the meet goes down about the boat and the circuit board. Of course the baddie changes thing sup. He wants the tech or he kills the Archer’s daughter. Evil prick. I hope he gets blown up. Meanwhile, the Lances meet the woman in the photo and it’s not Sara. Mama Lance is pretty upset. Detective Lances gives his daughter this look somewhere between “thanks for setting it straight” and “how could you do this to your mother?” Down in the Glades, Thea is trying to talk Roy out of his life of crime when the Savior shows up and drugs him and knocks her out of the way. At Queen Consolidated, Moira gets a call from Malcolm. He’s got a high level Triad member willing to ferret out who hired them to kill Malcolm. Guess she’s not as safe as she thought. Thea shows up at the club in a panic and Oli promises to find Roy. Diggle figures out that the guy is using the old subway tunnels to get around and Oli heads off.

On the island, a big shootout ensues and the Archer gets hit in the leg (apparently his daughter is pretty badass, too). So I guess the island is going to get far more interesting. With the actor playing Slade as a season regular for next year, I am hoping we see more of him. He’s grown on me. At Laurel’s place, she and Detective Lance get home to find Mama Lance still focusing on Sara. We learn that she knew Sara was going on the boat with Oliver and tried to stop but failed. And so she feels guilty. Understandable. But Laurel is the bigger person and tells her mom she wants to hear from her in the future. So I guess all this insanity helped bridge some of the distance in the family.

As expected, Oli busts in and saves Roy. Of course, he kills the Savior in the process but I was just waiting for that. Roy and Thea have a happy reunion and Oli realizes he is more than just Thea’s friend. He and Laurel also seem to reconnect a little, agreeing to go out for coffee sometime. He’s tired of being all alone. He also tells Felicity if she needs to tell anyone about her day, she can tell him. Between the two, I think I’d like to see Oli with Felicity. At least for a while. Back on the island, the group discovers the circuit board is missing. But the Archer’s daughter knows what’s being planned so maybe they can still stop it.

As Oli, Dig and Felicity realize that whatever is going on with the Undertaking, it’s linked to the Glades (the old subway map is the same symbol on the book of names), Moira rats out Frank and the Dark Archer kills him. She’s going to have a hard time reconciling what she’s done because she literally has blood on her hands.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Girl 2.20: "Chicago"

“I’m just trying to figure out the level of Elvis impersonator we can afford. I think a white one’s out of reach.”

I really thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of “New Girl.” It had that uniquely “New Girl” mix of humor and heart. The episode dealt with an emotionally heavy subject, but the heaviest moments were cut with the quirky brand of “New Girl” humor. It reminds me of the also Nick-centered more serious episode in season 1, “Injured” in that it really did have that good mix of quirky humor and heart. We also got a bit of a look at how Winston and Schmidt fit into Nick’s life pre-Jess and how Jess can fit in his life going forward. Oh, and there were Elvis impersonations. Which really isn’t a good thing, usually, but Zooey as Elvis was kind of fun. Overall, I just appreciated this examination of Nick as the guy who always took care of his family but can’t seem to take care of himself. Nick discovers that Jess can be the one to take care of him, and I think this is an important step in their relationship.

The roommates are having some goofy fun with balloons (chipmunk voice and such) when Nick gets the bad news. His father the conman has passed away. The rest of the roommates want to be serious and supportive, but it’s difficult when their voices are still in chipmunk mode from the helium, and that is the bit of comedy that cuts the serious of the moment. To keep it from getting too campy, they do all move in to give Nick a big hug. That balance, as I said in the introduction, is pretty well maintained throughout the episode. It’s always a challenge when sitcoms try to handle a serious, emotionally charged subject. HIMYM attempted it last season with the death of Marshall’s dad, trying to find the humor in absurd funeral moments while still acknowledging the seriousness of the situation. HIMYM did fairly well with it, but I think I liked “New Girl’s” take on it even better. It hit a mix of humor and seriousness that was a little more comfortable for me.

So the gang heads out to Chicago to support Nick as he tries to pick up the pieces in his family. His mother, played by the great Margo Martindale (most recently seen as a KGB spy handler on “The Americans”), says that his dad always wanted an Elvis-themed funeral, but she hasn’t really made any of the arrangements to make that happen just yet. Everything is in disarray. To make it even worse, she asks Nick to give the eulogy. Nick has seriously conflicted feelings about his late father, so this was an incredibly big ask. Nick’s first instinct is to get rid of the responsibility, so he tries to get Jess to write the eulogy for him. Jess points out that she only knew Nick’s dad for a few hours, but Nick doesn’t really care. He wants her to write the eulogy anyway. Jess makes a bit of an effort by interviewing some of Nick’s family members (who mostly want to know if she and Nick have had sex yet) before realizing how ridiculous the situation is and demanding that Nick write the eulogy himself.

Meanwhile, Winston and Schmidt are just trying to stay out of the way of the actual mourners. Schmidt is just generally skeeved out by the idea of funerals. Mostly he’s afraid of his own mortality. Winston tries to convince Schmidt that it’s really not so bad. There’s a kind of funny sequence where Winston is pretending to be a dead body so that Schmidt can get acclimated, and it just ends up freaking Schmidt out even more. Schmidt begs Winston not to move at all when pretending to be a dead body, but Winston can’t keep that promise. Before the freak-out, though, Schmidt at least began a decent attempt at eulogizing Winston. That was kind of sweet in a very Schmidt sort of way. He called Winston a “black butterfly.” As you do. By the end of the episode, though, the tables have turned. Winston needs to stall the funeral because Nick and Jess are missing (more about that in a bit), and he ends up having a screaming break-down over the fact that there’s a dead body behind him. Yeah, the funeral was open casket.

Writing the eulogy was just too much responsibility for Nick, so he ends up running off to a bar and getting smashed. In addition to being seriously drunk, he also brings the worst Elvis impersonator ever back to the house for the funeral. Oh, and to top things off, the entirety of his eulogy is “Walt Miller…amirite?” Jess realizes she has to save this situation by truly being there for Nick. She does that by becoming the Elvis impersonator. She puts on the outfit and serenades the church with “In the Ghetto.” While silly, this gives Nick the boost of confidence he needs to get up in front of the church and actually give the eulogy. And the eulogy was pretty great, complete with a comment about how his dad scared cabbies in a cool way. Even Nick’s mom, who definitely didn’t love Jess at first, warms up to her by the end of the service.

The next morning, the roomies are gathered outside Nick’s family home, getting ready to head back to Los Angeles. Nick’s mom gives Jess a bag of cheese puffs for the road, and it appears that Jess has now been accepted into the Miller family. Nick’s mom tells Jess that while Nick has always taken care of them, she’s very happy to see that Nick finally has someone to take care of him. Nick just looks on at his mom and Jess and smiles. I really appreciate how this episode moved Nick and Jess forward in a more concrete way. They’re starting to see how they could potentially fit together emotionally and in life, and that wasn’t something they could really see before.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Revolution 1.11: "The Stand"

“I made a mistake. I need to fix it. I need your help.”

So I’ve become more and more convinced that the Bad Robot creative team must be stalking me or something. Back in the earlier “Fringe” days, they name checked a town where my mom and I both worked at one point (although they made said town look all Children of the Corn when it’s totally not), spent time in a version of 30th Street Station in Philadelphia (even if it looked suspiciously like the main train station in Vancouver instead), battled in a DC Metro station, and, to top it all off, had a baddie of the week get cancer treatments in the hospital where I was born. The tradition seems to be continuing on “Revenge,” since it looks like it is going to be somewhat Mid-Atlantic focused for a while. In this week’s spring premiere, the Mathesons and their crew journeyed from my home city of Philadelphia to none other than the town where I currently live and work – Annapolis, Maryland. Granted it looked nothing like actual Downtown Annapolis, but more on that later.

This episode pretty much begins right where the fall finale left off. The Matheson crew is trying to escape Monroe’s Philadelphia compound, but Monroe has powered up some helicopters, so they’re in pretty big trouble. The crew manages to escape the initial helicopter barrage, but the respite will be short-lived. Monroe is really, really pissed off that Miles and crew escaped, so he’s going on an all-out offensive against the rebels, starting with their camp in West Chester, which, for those of you not familiar with the Philadelphia metro area, is a suburb west of the city. Monroe’s henchmen just completely lay waste to the place with the helicopters and the machine guns. The Mathesons are disgusted to see this when they finally arrive in West Chester themselves, and they know they need to take their resistance efforts to the next level. Nora’s solution is to go to the rebel headquarters in “Downtown Annapolis.”

All that we actually see of Annapolis is a shopping center, which was kind of unrealistic given Nora’s description. Yes, technically, within the city limits of the City of Annapolis, we’ve got a few shopping centers – I literally live behind one of them – but not Downtown. Downtown Annapolis is all historic row homes, narrow cobblestone streets, and state government buildings. I was kind of disappointed that they didn’t at least doctor some stock footage to see what the abandoned, disheveled State House dome would look like. So yeah, that was kind of disappointing. Anyway, Miles and Rachel are going to visit a friend of Rachel’s to pick up some heavy weaponry while the rest of the crew (Charlie, Danny, Aaron, and Nora) are going to introduce themselves to the local rebels.

The person that Rachel and Miles are going to see is a former coworker of Rachel’s named John. Clearly he had something to do with the experiments that created the pendants. He’s quite a jumpy little dude, too. Throughout this whole sequence, there’s some unresolved sexual tension between Rachel and Miles, which is a little squicky considering that Miles is pretty happily with Nora and Rachel was once married to Miles’ brother. Or maybe that’s not what the creative team intended and Billy Burke just has mad chemistry with anyone they pair him with? It could go either way. Anyway, John does indeed heavy weaponry that could help in the upcoming battle with the helicopters, but it’s not going to be that simple. Randall Flynn, who is overseeing the work of the former DoDers who have been conscripted into tech work, gets word that Miles and Grace are at John’s house. John is a complete wimp and narced on them. Miles has to knock John out in order for he and Rachel to escape with the weaponry.

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew have introduced themselves to the Annapolis rebels at the random shopping center. They introduce themselves and warn the rest of the rebels that the helicopters are coming. The rebels prepare to make their stand at the shopping center, with or without Miles and Rachel’s extra heavy weaponry. In preparation for what is soon going to happen, we get some flashbacks to Danny’s childhood. We see Rachel trying to comfort him before he’s wheeled into surgery, presumably for some experimental asthma treatment, unless Danny had a more severe health issue that we don’t know about. I’m not quite sure if there was enough point to that sequence to include it. What happens to Danny is emotional enough since we already know the rest of the characters pretty well. It’s a bit on the nose.

Anyway, the helicopters approach the shopping center, and the rebels get into formation with the weapons they do have. Charlie begs Danny to go inside and take care of the wounded instead of being on the front line, but Danny refuses. He says that fighting the Monroe Militia is something he needs to do, and even though he owes Charlie his life, he can’t take her up on this particular deal. So the helicopters arrive and the rebels sort of hold them off, although they take heavy casualties. Rachel and Miles arriving with the heavy weaponry starts to turn the tide. Miles tries to shoot the massive gun he procured, but a blast from the helicopter sends him flying backwards. Danny, always really, really stupid, picks up the gun and fires at the helicopter himself. The hit is good, and the helicopter starts to go down. That helicopter had the amplifier in it, so the other helicopter starts to go down as well due to lack of power. The rebels seem in the clear until some stray bullets from the second downed helicopter hit Danny, killing him fairly quickly.

Killing Danny, after the whole focus of the first half of the season was his rescue from Monroe, was a pretty significant creative risk for the show. I think it’s a welcome risk, though. The roster of really annoying teenagers on television is endless, and Danny was definitely among their ranks. Not that he really deserved to die for it, but I think the show will have more interesting places to go without him. Rachel and Charlie now have new motivation. They want to avenge Danny’s death. As Randall and Monroe seem to have teamed up by the end of the episode, the stakes are definitely high. The two of them together could do some serious damage, and Monroe seems to have ambitious to conquer the rest of North America. This next half season is most likely going to take us to some of the other territories in the former United States, and I’m looking forward to it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

HIMYM 8.20: "The Time Travelers"

“Right now, Marshall and Lily are upstairs, trying to get Marvin to go back to sleep. Robin and I are trying to decide on a caterer. And you've been sitting here all night, staring at a single ticket to Robots v. Wrestlers because the rest of us couldn't come out. Look around Ted, you're all alone.”

“The Time Travelers” was a rather jarring see saw between the farcical and the emotionally manipulative. There were two plots, one of which focused on Barney and Ted (usually the recipe for comedy gold, although not so much in this one) and the other of which focused on Marshall, Lily, and Robin, and was really superfluous to what the episode was trying to say. And, the big topper…spoiler alert… is that neither of those two plots actually happened. The whole episode was really in Ted’s head. Even after we shit back to reality, Saget!Ted immediately goes into “this is what I would have done if I could,” and we’re back in fantasy land again. The one good thing to come of all this is that…again, spoiler alert…we’re going to meet the mother in exactly forty-five days, people! No more games! No more brief glimpses of feet or allusions to almost meeting. The woman herself meets Ted in forty-five days. And if the creative team figures out a way to renege on that, I’m going to be pissed.

Anyway, the episode opens with Saget!Ted explaining how in Spring 2013, he and the Mother were living separate, but kind of connected lives. They didn’t live all that far away from each other, and they both were at Columbia every day. The one major difference is that Ted spent much of his time at MacLaren’s, which the Mother, obviously, didn’t. And so, ladies, and gentleman, we have ourselves a bottle episode. A bottle episode is that time honored TV tradition, where in the wasteland between sweeps months, an episode is created that takes place almost entirely on an existing set. It’s a cost saving measure, and it often takes some real creativity, making something taking place in a confined space interesting. This episode, instead of being a compelling character study, just descends quickly into the bizarre.

We first spend time with Barney and Ted, who are sitting at the usual booth. Barney has tickets to another iteration of Robots v. Wrestlers, only this time it’s senior citizens and old timey robots, and it’s called “Legends.” Ted has a lecture the next morning, so he’s conflicted about whether or not to take Barney up on the offer. Barney’s got a solution, though. They’re going to consult 20 years in the future Barney and Ted. Which are basically just current day Ted and Barney in silver space suits. Which should have been the first sign that something odd was afoot. Future Barney and Ted try to convince current day Ted that going to Robots v. Wrestlers was going to lead to an epic evening that he would remember fondly for the rest of his life. Then 20 minutes in the future Ted shows up looking all disheveled. He tells Ted that he’s going to really regret the epic night out the next morning.

Meanwhile, Marshall and Robin have a rather silly spat over a drink. Marshall’s all excited about a drink he has invented called the Minnesota Tidalwave. He insists it’s not a girly drink, but since he wants Lily to order it for him, I’m guessing that’s not actually the case. Robin tries to make Marshall feel better by saying that she’s not a girly girl, but she likes the drink. It turns out that Robin wasn’t just trying to placate Marshall. She likes the drink so much that Carl the Bartender named it after her. Marshall is devastated that the Minnesota Tidalwave is actually the Robin Scherbatsky. He challenges Robin to a dance-off, but Lily stops him because apparently his dancer’s hip has been getting worse. In retaliation, Marshall leaves a “for a good time call” message with Robin’s phone number in the bathroom, and Robin has no qualms with going into the men’s room to see and remove the message. In retaliation, she writes something in the ladies’ room. It ends up being a message that seems sweet, but its only real purpose is to take Marshall so long to read that some ladies will walk into the room and Marshall will decide he needs to hide. They do eventually end up settling their differences with the dance off, which is mildly amusing.

As Ted is debating what to do about Robot’s v. Wrestlers, we get a visit from an old friend. Jayma Mays is back, reprising her role as the Coat Check Girl from season one’s “Okay Awesome.” This should have been yet another sign that this was all in Ted’s head. Before he can actually go talk to her, Ted has a visit from two potential versions of future Coat Check Girl. One is happy, and one is pathetic. They explain to Ted that if he does strike something up with Coat Check Girl, one of them is just going to get bored in a few months, and they will break up. This is a punch to the gut for Ted, and the punches just keep coming from then on out through the rest of the episode. It turns out that Ted has been alone at MacLaren’s the whole time, trying to decide if he wants to go to Robots v. Wrestlers on his own because all his friends are busy with their own lives.

We don’t really know what Ted does next. Instead, Saget!Ted tells his kids that they know what, if he could do it all over, he would have done with that evening. He goes to the Mother’s apartment and tells her that in forty-five days they’re going to meet and fall in love and eventually they’ll get married. Really, it’s supposed to be sweet, but it kind of comes off as stalker Creepy McCreeperson. Ted is really the king of being all about the destination and not the journey, after all. The one saving grace of this mess of a “let’s throw together a bunch of things people tend to like about the show” episode was that we have a more concrete idea of when the Mother will actually appear. I’m really hoping that the creative team won’t string us along for too much longer when there are only forty-five days between now and when the Mother is supposed to appear.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Once Upon a Time 2.18: "Selfless, Brave and True"

“That’s my problem; hoping. Hoping that things can still work out. Hoping that I can find redemption for the mistakes that I’ve made. But maybe some things you just don’t come back from.”
- August

After rewatching this episode I have to say I’m still kind of lukewarm on it. We had a couple interesting back story pieces filled about August but the big reveal at the end was sort of a letdown. Though this episode does make the Neal/Emma shipper in me cheer that maybe the obstacle between them won’t be around much longer.

We start in Phuket on October 24, 2011. August is in bed with random naked woman. He wakes as the clock hits 8:15am and he sees his leg is turning to wood. His lady friend doesn’t seem interested. I laughed at just how silly his accent sounded. At least he didn’t wake up with a weird tattoo a la Jack on LOST. In Storybrooke, David is making Mary Margaret breakfast in bed again. Emma thinks he needs to stop and let her face the music and move on with her life. That apparently spurs Mary Margaret out of bed and to the woods for some target practice while listening to “Bad Reputation”. I have to say that was pretty awesome. As she’s shooting arrows, she hits something. Upon further investigation, she finds a completely wooden, but ambulatory, August hiding in a dingy trailer.

That isn’t the only surprise accosting the Charmings this week. Emma and Henry head over for a visit with Neal who promptly sends Henry on a hot cocoa run so he can chat with Emma. He tells her the bad news first; Hook has escaped the confines of that storage room (guess his leg was all healed up). And then we get the worse news; Tamara is 10 minutes out. But hey, she’s bringing bagels. Apparently that’s enough for Emma to stay and meet the new woman in her man’s life. I mean come on, Neal. What guy willingly encourages his ex and his current lover to bond? That just least to all kinds of weirdness. There was some awkwardness between Emma and Neal when he blurts out that he needs Tamara. He realizes that probably hurt Emma a lot and she’s just brushing it off by saying she’s not the one being lied to. In the woods, Mary Margaret fills August in on the goings-on in town, including Neal being back. There’s kind of a glimmer of hope (can wood glimmer?) that maybe Neal and Emma are back together. But that’s crushed when she mentions his fiancée. August is feeling pretty sorry for himself still and he tells Mary Margaret to leave and pretend she never saw and to not tell anyone about him. We flash back to Phuket. August is in the hospital but obviously the doctor he sees doesn’t believe him. He takes off running (after stabbing a scalpel in his leg) so as not to be dragged off in a straightjacket. A kid nabs him and says a man called The Dragon can help for a price. It’s apparently a long walk to get there and August has to do more waiting. But he does get to hand a pretty girl her cell phone after it falls out of her purse. And of course, that someone is Tamara.

Speaking of, she’s arrived with bagels (lots and lots of them) and Henry is interested to know how his future stepmom and his dad met. Apparently she was running late, Neal bumped into and then lent her his scarf to cover the coffee stain. Emma takes this moment to whisk Henry off to Grandpa Charming and Neal tries to explain to Tamara that he’s not from our world. Gotta say, leading off with “I’m from the Enchanted Forest” isn’t gonna win many points. She says he’s just covering because he still has feelings for Emma and that when he’s ready to deal with his feelings and tell the truth about himself, to find her. Don’t find her, Neal. Go find Emma!

I’m going to deal with the random Greg/Owen subplot in a quick little paragraph. Regina finds him eating pie at Granny’s and thanks him for telling her about Henry. She swears he looks familiar but he denies that they’ve ever met. Until he gets back to his room and she’s waiting for him all creepy like. Even the things she says about keeping the little gift he gave her sound extra creepy. He demands to have his father back but she says he left years ago and that if he doesn’t leave the next day, she’ll make him disappear. Totally pointless and wasted airtime if you ask me. I honestly don’t give a crap about him or his dad.

Down at Granny’s, Mary Margaret tells Emma and Marco that she found August but he’s gone all stiff. They hoof over to Mother Superior but she says she can’t help August because he didn’t heed her warning about being truthful, honest and unselfish. Mary Margaret is not going to give up. They’ll head to the woods to find him and drag his oaky ass back to town if they have to. Back in Phuket, August meets with The Dragon and has to give up the string that animated him as payment. Well and he needs $10,000 by that night. But the Dragon promises if August gets it, he won’t turn to wood ever again. He ends up running into Tamara at a bar and she’s flashing a big fat envelope of cash around in her bag. Tamara tells him she’s got rare cancer and she’s hoping the Dragon can cure her. She takes a call, giving August the perfect opportunity to snatch the cash and run. In Storybrooke, a knock comes on August’s trailer and as he angrily opens it, he finds Tamara standing outside.

August goes back to the Dragon with the cash and gets the potion that will save him. Before he can drink it, Tamara catches up with him and after a brief chase, his body gives out on him and he falls, tossing the vial into the air. She takes it and walks off, leaving him lying in the gutter. He is obviously surprised to see her. But he believes the potion worked since you know, she didn’t die from cancer. She says that there’s some of the potion left in New York and all he has to do is go now and not come back (I swear I’ve heard that in a fairytale somewhere before). August at least makes the connection that she is Neal’s fiancée and I think he was a little dismayed to find out Neal knows nothing about her plot (whatever that may be). In the woods, Marco admits to Mary Margaret and Emma that he made the Blue Fairy lie about the wardrobe. Mary Margaret slaps him (which he totally deserved) but they get to the trailer to find it empty. August is speeding away from town in Tamara’s car.

Tamara visits the Dragon the next day and says she’s analyzed the contents of the vial and there are no known elements from this world in it. SO she’s finally found the real deal. We still don’t know why she wants magic but she does. She whips out a serious stun gun and kills the Dragon. Seriously, that shouldn’t be possible. As August is driving off, he hits a pothole and the photo of Tamara and her grandmother falls out. He realizes he’s been played and races back to the Sheriff’s station. He manages to call Emma from the landline but only says he needs to warn her before Tamara yanks the cord from the wall. He tries to act tough and say he’s going to warn them but she stuns him too. Okay, he’s made of wood that doesn’t conduct electricity. Seriously people! Though I suppose August telling her she’s hit the mother lode of magic in Storybrooke was stupid because now she’s going to stick around probably try and steal Rumple and Regina’s magic, too. I really hope the Charming/Mills/Gold clan just takes her out.

The Charmings and Marco race to the station to find August stumbling outside. With his dying breath he tries to warn Emma about what’s going on but doesn’t get it out. Mother Superior (after Henry makes the connection) works her mojo and turns August back to human. There’s a catch though, he’s a kid again. So there goes my slug fest fantasy of Neal duking it out over the fact August stole all the watch money and blew it. But I guess it makes sense in a way. This is August’s second chance. He wanted a clean slate and the chance to start over. Tamara appears in time to see the magical transformation and acts not at all surprised. We get a flashback of how they first met. And it’s pretty accurate to what she told Henry. She leaves out the fact she’s spying on Neal and August as Neal heads up to Storybrooke to get Emma to break the curse. He even tells Neal there’s an upside to breaking the curse, he could see Emma again. Back in Storybrooke, Emma and Henry finally make up over the whole “I lied about your dad” thing and Mary Margaret comes clean to David about her pseudo suicide-by-evil-Queen. We end with Greg getting a call from Her, only to reveal it’s Tamara and they are apparently lovers. Yeah, Neal really needs to dump her ass fast.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Arrow 1.17: "The Huntress Returns"

“Lying to the people that are closest to me is the hardest part.”
- Oliver

As the episode title reveals, Helena is back in Starling City and she’s up to her old tricks. She seeks out her father’s lawyer at a strip club and when he says he doesn’t know where the FBI is keeping her dad (he cut a deal to testify against another crime family so he’s going into WITSEC), she kills him. Meanwhile, Oli is finally opening his club named Verdant and he convinces McKenna to be his date for the evening. Meanwhile, out in the Glades, Thea and a friend are walking when she spots Roy. She offers to ask Oli if he can get Roy a job at the club. Not really sure about this Roy kid and why Thea is so interested in him.

As we saw at the end of last week’s episode, Mama Lance is back in town and Laurel gets Daddy Lance to see her at a coffee shop under the guise of apologizing over the whole using her as bait thing. Mama Lance thinks Sara is still alive because there are hundreds of deserted little islands around the one Oli was found on. And she has a photo of a girl taken by a tourist that she insists looks exactly like her missing daughter. Detective Lance doesn’t want any of this to be happening so he storms out. Laurel tries to apologize at the station but he is still too pissed and doesn’t want to talk to her about it.

Down in the man cave, Diggle is checking something on the system and looking rather sad about it (my guess was he’s trying to track Deadshot) when Oli comes down in a good mood. His happy feeling is dampened immediately when Dig shows him footage of Helena killing her father’s lawyer. Oli tasks Dig with reaching out to their Russian mob connections to see what Helena’s plan is. He heads back to the Queen mansion to find Thea and Helena chatting. So not good. Helena wants Oli to help her get to her father before the Marshal Service puts him in protection. Oliver says no but Helena promises to be more persuasive.

That afternoon, Oli warns Diggle about Helena and he tries to apologize to Tommy. Tommy isn’t upset about his feelings being hurt; he just can’t reconcile his best friend being a killer. The club opening is going pretty well, though. Tommy is a little grumpy when Laurel shows up. Too bad things go from bad to worse for the poor guy. Helena gets her hands on him and ends up almost breaking his wrist to get Oliver to help her take out her father. So much for keeping his friends safe.

On the island, Oli and Slade are trying to find a way to take out the missile launchers. Oli comes up with an idea to get all the soldiers in one place so Slade can take them out. Oli’s plan seems to work. He dresses up in full bad guy gear and drags Slade into camp and then gets the hell out of the way. They don’t have much time once Slade takes out the soldiers. They’re going to blow up the launcher with dynamite but Oli has a better plan. You can’t use the missile launcher without the computer chip to make it work. He and Slade end up ransoming the chip with the bad guy for a way off the island.

Back in Starling City, Tommy stops by the legal aid office to try and apologize to Laurel (there is a lot of apologizing going on in this episode, sheesh). She wants the truth but he can’t tell her. So she kind of loosens the ties between them. Meanwhile, Thea goes to see Roy since he didn’t show up for the valet job she got him. He doesn’t want her rich girl charity. But he is willing to save her from some Glades thugs. He takes a knife in the side for his heroics and she takes him to the hospital. Roy is a bit twitchy around needles but Thea distracts him with a kiss. I guess they’re angling for a romance between them at some point.

Meanwhile, things with Helena are getting worse. Oli tries to keep Felicity out of the mix by sending her away (even though technically her hacker skills would tell them where the FBI is keeping Helena’ dad). Oli’s plan is to take out the van transporting him to court. Only problem is there’s two vans and one is a decoy. Helena and Oli pair off with opposite vans and we get a sort of double chase scene. Oli takes out his van first and finds the back empty. So he assumes Helena has the one with her father in it. She is under that impression, too until she approaches it, demanding they release her father and the cops swarm all over her.

They take her back to the precinct and McKenna and Lance are trying to get the vigilante’s real identity out of her. She tells them Oli’s name but they don’t believe her and show goes on a little tangent about how it won’t work out between him and McKenna because he uses people. Before much else can be said, a smoke bomb of some sort goes off and Oli dashes in to get Helena out of here. Once safe, he hands her a passport and plane ticket so she can get the hell out of his city. I have to say that reminded me a little of a scene in Angel season 1 where he basically tells Buffy to get out of his city.

Oli is feeling a little lost and lonely and heads over to McKenna’s place where they hook up (sadly, no shirtless Oliver this week). Unfortunately, they have awful timing because Felicity calls and leaves him a message that a sporting goods store has just been robbed of a high powered crossbow. And as she turns around, Helena is there, looking menacing and holding said crossbow. This really isn’t Oliver’s week. After Oli finds out what Helena is planning, he takes off to stop her for good. She’s on quite the tear at the safe house and she’s chasing her father across the lawn when Oli stops her. He actually shoots at her but she blocks the shot. They get into a little hand to hand (well it was more like thr5owing each other around on the ground) until McKenna shows up. Oli starts putting his bow down and Helena takes the chance to shoot McKenna in the leg.

McKenna survives being shot but she’s got a shattered femur and needs a year of rehab. So she’s going to live with her sister. And thus ends Oliver’s current romantic relationship. Thank you Helena. At the precinct, Detective Lance is clearing out her desk when Mama Lance shows up at his request. He’s ready to listen to what she has to say now. Over at Verdant, Tommy and Oliver kind of come to terms with the secret between them. The rest of the season is going to be interesting with Tommy knowing and starting to accept the truth.

New Girl 2.19: "Quick Hardening Caulk"

“There are plenty of things to be down about. The deficit. Air pollution in China. ‘The Hobbit’ wasn’t very good.”

I think this was my favorite “New Girl” episode I’ve watched in a long time. It just had a lot of really good laughs that came from a quirky place. That’s really all I ask from a good episode of “New Girl.” The episode was a bit more broad comedically than “New Girl” typically is, but because that humor came from the same place as most of the best humor on the show (exaggerating the absurdities of late 20’s/early 30’s single life), it worked for me. I am especially impressed with how the creative team continues to handle Nick and Jess’ relationship. Instead of continuing to place artificial obstacles in between them, the creative team has had Nick and Jess acknowledge their feelings but have to work through those feelings before they can be together. The moment at the end of this episode where Nick and Jess kiss, then go right back to arguing, is a perfect example of this. It was an acknowledgement that Nick and Jess want to be together, and they’re going to have to do some work to get there.

The main plot in this episode is that Nick is suddenly more ambitious. He’s got big ideas for the bar where he works (a “guy’s night”), and he’s actually trying to do his own laundry. Jess, for some reason, finds this really attractive. I guess maybe because she’s had a thing for Nick but has had misgivings about what their future would be like? But yeah, Nick showing any smidgen at all of ambition is a huge turn-on for Jess. She admits to Cece that she wants Nick now, and Cece, understandably, is a little skeptical. Unfortunately for Jess, there’s an unexpected motivation behind Nick’s newfound ambition. Schmidt and Winston go to the bar and discover that Nick has a new manager, and her name is Shane (Odette Annable). And the relationship is definitely more than professional. Which can’t possibly end well for Nick, his manager, or the bar, but that could just be the lawyer in me talking.

Winston and Schmidt don’t have a chance to warn Jess about what’s going on, though, because Schmidt is still wallowing in Cece’s engagement. Winston thinks a trip to the aquarium will cheer Schmidt up, but the idea ends up backfiring. Schmidt sees the rare California Lionfish, and he’s immediately obsessed with it, because he somehow connects it with Cece. I guess because both are exotic and rare? Anyway, the person working at the aquarium tells Schmidt that he can’t have a Lionfish, because they’re protected. Schmidt goes full-on tantrum, stealing the aquarium worker’s Lionfish hat. Back at the loft, he sets up a massive fish tank, ready for his own Lionfish. Then he tells Winston how they are going to obtain one. They’re going to go fishing. This won’t end well. Instead of catching a Lionfish, Schmidt gets stung on the face by a jellyfish. There’s a not especially funny sequence where Winston refuses to pee on Schmidt’s face (apparently it takes away the sting) before the paramedics arrive.

Jess and Nick go to the hardware store so Nick can get supplies for all the ambitious projects he has in mind, and the whole thing just devolves into one sexual innuendo after another. The best is Nick pulling some (literal) chain and Jess looking like she’s about to faint from the hotness. Unfortunately, this culminates in Jess taking a two by four to the jaw. Nothing’s broken, but she’s pretty sore, and the doctor gives her some pain killers. Painkillers obviously result in extra loopy Jess. Said extra loopyness leads Jess to tell Nick that she wants to have sex with him. Nick’s not quite sure what to make of this. As he explains to the other guys, he’s only sleeping with Shane because he thought the door was permanently shut with Jess. He’d take Jess over Shane any day. Real stand-up guy, that Nick Miller. He’s not sure if Jess is just saying what she’s saying due to the meds, though, so he heads to work.

Schmidt ends up in the hospital, and while he’s sleeping, Cece stops by to visit. She has a Lionfish with her. Winston tells her to leave the fish and get out before Schmidt wakes up. He tells Cece that her engagement is killing Schmidt, and she needs to give him some space for a while. Winston really does have a good point. Cece’s trying to have her cake and eat it too by trying to still be close with Schmidt after rejecting him multiple times over. Cece heeds Winston’s advice and leaves just before Schmidt wakes up. Once he’s recovered enough to go home, Schmidt tells Winston that he has finally realized that the whole Lionfish obsession was a proxy for Cece, and he want to get rid of the fish that so mysteriously showed up in his hospital room. This plot ends with Schmidt and Winston back at the beach, with Schmidt unsuccessfully trying to toss the fish (named Cece) into the ocean.

Later that evening, Jess is feeling a little better, so she shows up at Guy’s Night to support Nick. She’s pretty pissed off to find out that first, Guy’s Night means she has to pay for her drink, but guys don’t, and second, something is definitely going on between Nick and Shane. Nick tries to play it off as the staff being a team (that’s why they pat each other on the rear), but all bets are off when Shane kisses Nick. Jess runs out of the bar and goes home, and Nick follows, hoping to repair the damage. They start to fight in the loft living room, but then Jess makes her feelings clear by kissing Nick. They start going at each other, clear that their feelings are mutual, but then they accidentally break Schmidt’s aquarium, and the magic spell is broken. They start fighting again and head for their respective rooms. After a few second pause, they each go back out into the hallway, kiss, then go back into their rooms. Clearly they’re not done.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

HIMYM 8.19: "The Fortress"

“Barney, I wouldn’t live here even if you scrubbed every inch of this place with Purell, Amoxicillin, and holy water.”

This was another fairly forgettable episode of HIMYM with the overall theme of “bitches be crazy.” I don’t know why the creative team has continued to go to that well so often recently. They’re becoming one trick ponies, which makes me kind of glad that next season will be the last. This episode also focused on cartoon Barney a bit much for my taste. Like I’ve said on this blog more times than I can count, I prefer when Barney acts like an actual human being as opposed to a cartoon. He was rather cartoonish in the show’s very early days, progressed to a more well-rounded character as the series went on, and now sadly seems to be regressing back to a cartoon. Seriously, some of the stuff he rigged up in his apartment (like a system to eject “ho’s” from his apartment) was just gross. The Marshall and Lily (and tangentially Ted) B plot was equally disappointing. With the exception of that rough patch in late season 1/early season 2, Marshall and Lily have always had each other’s backs. Now their relationship is strained because Lily had the audacity to get a job where she actually uses her degree. There was a funny Downton Abbey parody bit, though. So there’s that.

As I already alluded to, the main plot of this episode is that Robin has given Barney an ultimatum that he needs to sell his bachelor pad. She’s already given up her apartment, and they agreed that he would too, and that they would find a new place to live together. Barney tries to convince Ted to buy the apartment, and of course he does this in style. Barney has a contraption that allows him to project his face, Jor-El or Wizard of Oz style, in the middle of his apartment. Even the whole “my son” schtick doesn’t convince Ted, though. Ted is understandably grossed out at the thought of living in Barney’s former bachelor pad, so that plan is a no-go. Robin tells Barney he has to try something else. He’s not really working on it with a sense of urgency, though, so Robin hires a realtor to stage an open house. Barney is pissed off about this at first, but he says that since he loves Robin, he’ll go with it.

Meanwhile, Lily’s been working crazy hours at her new job as the Captain’s art consultant. Every time she settles down at home, she gets another phone call from the Captain asking her to check out some piece of art. One night when this happens, Marshall goes over to Ted’s apartment to hang out, and Ted tries to turn on “Woodworthy Manor,” the aforementioned Downton parody. Whenever any of the characters mention Woodworthy in this episode, the descriptions are always highly mundane and highly pretentious plot points. It’s pretty amusing, if a bit one-note, since that’s really the only point that seems to be made with the parody. Anyway, Marshall says that Woodworthy is something he always watches with Lily, and he wants to wait until he has a chance to watch with her. Eventually, though, after several more foiled Woodworthy dates, Marshall finally breaks down and watches an episode with Ted.

Lily, Marshall, and Ted all find themselves at another fancy art party that Lily needs to attend for the job, and just for fun, Ted pretends to be a British dude, and he and Marshall get mistaken for a couple. Marshall is pissed at Lily, so he goes with it, and he and Ted really ham it up. When he sees Lily is upset, Marshall takes every opportunity to drive the knife in even further with his interactions with Ted. He rather gleefully tells her that she’s already watched Woodworthy Manor, for instance. This whole bit was just very much unlike Marshall. Marshall is gentle and nice almost to a fault. I don’t see him as the type that would deliberately hurt Lily in this way, and I especially don’t see him as the type of person who would take joy in hurting Lily. I also don’t see him not fully supporting Lily transitioning to a more fulfilling career. Lily has been nothing but supportive of the twists and turns Marshall has taken in his career. I think he’s left lucrative law firm jobs for one reason or another at least twice on the show, and Lily’s been cool with it. Granted, Lily’s love for art is the one thing that did break them up temporarily in the early days, but they should have really moved beyond that. Anyway, Ted hits it off with this girl at the art event while he’s still in character, but they end up making out in Barney’s projection room (the one he uses to project the huge image of his head) by the end. Awkward. And unexpected, considering just a couple weeks ago we were told that Ted was done with dating for realsies.

Anyway, at the big open house at the Fortress of Barnitude, Barney tries to put on a supportive front, but he’s really trying to undermine things. He takes some glee in showing off the little modifications he’s made to the place, like a body mass index detector at the door. Granted, most of his modifications are in pretty poor taste, but I thought this was very cartoon Barney. Anyway, there is one couple that appears to see past all the grossness and still wants to buy the place. It’s Robin who has a change of heart, though, when the couple tells her that when they buy the place, they want to gut it. Robin doesn’t want to live in Barney’s bachelor pad, but she doesn’t want all that work destroyed either. She tells the couple that the apartment is not for sale. You know it’s a rather odd episode of HIMYM when the relationship dynamic between Barney and Robin seems healthier than Marshall and Lily.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Once Upon a Time 2.17: "Welcome to Storybrooke"

“Well, you tell yourself you did the right thing. If you say it often enough, one day you might actually believe it.”
- Mr. Gold

As in the last couple episodes I didn’t feel there was enough Neal in this episode. But, considering he’s supposed to be the focus of the finale, I guess I can wait a few more episodes. Overall this episode wasn’t bad and it had some great lines from Robert Carlyle and the ending was rather heartbreaking.

This week’s episode begins in the woods where a father is teaching his son how to do gemp braiding (you know the thing with the plastic and you sort of braid it into knots. I did it at Girl Scout camp). The kid’s not that good but we do learn that he’s a Star Wars fan. Immediately, I knew that the kid was Greg (the guy who crashed into town and mowed over Hook). We’ll see why he’s back later on. His dad gives him one that he made when he was young. Sort of passing down family possessions I guess. Anyway, they’re about to eat dinner when this loud storm rolls in. They dive into their tent in time to see green and purple smoke (hello evil curse) roll in. The next morning, they’re rather perplexed to find an entire town where it had been empty woods the day before. They wander into the town center and are met by none other than Sheriff Graham. Everyone was so excited for his return. Though, to be honest, I’m kind of over the Sheriff. Next, we learn that it’s 1983 and the first day of the curse. Regina wakes up in satin PJs and upon seeing the town sprawled out before proclaims that she’s won. She admires her closet and new fashions before taking to the streets with a smile on her face. She spots Marco fixing a sign and Archie says hi as he walks Pongo. Ruby is arguing with Granny about working the early shift. She tests Mary Margaret to see how much she remembers by taking her to see David in the hospital. Her mood improves during breakfast when she sees Graham for the first time in his skinny jeans. Their moment is interrupted by mini Greg. His dad, Kurt, intervenes and apologizes for his son’s rudeness but it doesn’t stop Regina from being crabby about the outsiders showing up in her town. In the present, Regina is burying her mother and Rumple appears to pay his respects. He tries to talk Regina out of her vengeance kick but she’s not listening. Even when he reminds her that even her mother knew she couldn’t have everything (the reasons he ripped out her heart), Regina wants to have her cake and eat it, too.

In 1983, Regina’s mood is darkening when she finds mini Greg (going by Owen) in her seat at the diner. He ends up giving her the braided keychain from his dad as a “thanks for letting me sit in your seat” present. That seems to soften her heart a little. Unfortunately, Regina quickly gets bored with the hum drum repeat of the town. Literally, it’s like Groundhog Day or The Truman Show. To be fair, I’d get pretty bored, too. She’s so bored she goes to see Gold to complain about how she’s not happy with the town and the people and she wants it to be real. Too bad, he doesn’t remember who he is and therefore, can’t do squat about it. But she thinks she may have a solution. She invites Kurt and Owen for dinner.

In the present Regina is rummaging (perhaps rampaging would be more accurate) through her mother’s belongings in search of something. She finds a tiny scroll hidden in the seam of a dress and it seems to be what she’s looking for. Meanwhile, at the Charming residence, Emma and David start to lie to Henry about why Mary Margaret is so despondent. But Henry calls them on their li and Emma admits the truth. Of course, Henry’s in denial that anyone good could do something bad. I have to say, I’m getting tired of Henry lately. Gold shows up to warn them that Regina is going after Snow. David gets all “Mr. Protector” and demands Gold help them since Snow saved his life and therefore, he owes them a debt. Rumple and David head down to the crypt and Rumple quickly susses out Regina’s plan. She’s going to cast a curse to make Henry think he loves her and she needs the heart of the person she hates most to cast it. So that takes care of Mary Margaret. This doesn’t sit well with Emma or David but Rumple says that it’s a blood feud and the only way to end it is with the spilling of more blood, namely Regina’s. Henry freaks at all the death talk and runs out, Emma hot on his heels.

Dinner with Owen and Kurt is kind of awkward back in 1983. Owen is not shy about saying what he thinks (obviously Regina’s lasagna making improves from the early days to when she makes it for David in season 1). But she and Owen bond a bit over making apple turnovers. His dad brought him to Maine after his mom died to try and help him cope. Owen isn’t too happy with the way things are going at home. Regina suggests Kurt and Owen move to Storybrooke and Owen is on board with the idea but Kurt says no. She is not going to be happy.

Emma takes Henry to the diner for a chat with Neal. Neal tries bribing his son with ice cream but the eleven-year-old is too smart for that one. Henry wants to find a way to get rid of magic in Storybrooke because it would solve all his family woes. Neal agrees but says that until that happens he should take Henry back to New York. It looks like Henry agrees. Neal is pretty pleased with his parenting skills until Emma points out that you don’t take your backpack to the bathroom if you are coming back. And cut to Henry racing through the woods.

We jump back to 1983 where Regina is asking Billy the Mechanic to delay repairs to keep Kurt and Owen in town longer. But Kurt’s already picked up the truck. So Regina gives some magical instructions to Graham on how to detain them. Kurt overhears everything and Graham bursts in, arresting Kurt for drunk driving (as Regina ordered). Kurt manages to get free by knocking the box with Graham’s heart on the ground. And now begins the oddest thing in the history of Once Upon a Time; a car chase. With some fancy driving Regina and Graham manage to cut off Kurt before he can cross the town line. Kurt lets himself get dragged away and orders Owen to run. Regina lets him go, albeit unhappily. Owen later returns with state troopers but they can’t see the town. I guess that explains why he came back all these years later, hoping to crash 9well maybe not crash but still).

In the present, Regina pays Mary Margaret a visit to retrieve her heart for the curse. She wasn’t counting on Rumple standing guard. Meanwhile, Neal, Emma, Ruby and David track Henry to the mines where David figures she nabbed some dynamite. Neal fills in the gap about wanting to get rid of magic and Emma leads the charge of where to find Henry. Speaking of, Henry runs into Greg (literally). They both lie rather clumsily about their reason for being in the woods. They part ways and Henry gets to the magic well and pulls out a bunch of dynamite. My first thought was the fuse was so short Henry would get blown to bits if he tried to light it. The race4 is on now to see how can get there first (Greg calls Regina to give her the heads up). She gets there first and is trying to convince Henry that even if the curse won’t make Henry love her for real, it would be something. Obviously she hasn’t learned anything. Emma, Neal and David show up but it’s Henry’s shouting all the adults that gets Regina to burn the curse. I have to say he wasn’t expecting magic to be so complicated. He wanted magic because it was part of the fairytale world but he sees now how devastating it can be.

We end with Mary Margaret asking Rumple how he lives with what he’s done. It seems she can’t handle it. She goes to Regina and begs the Queen to kill her. Regina rips out Snow’s heart but doesn’t crush it. She spots a black blemish and convinces Snow that her heart is blackened and will continue to darken. She shoves the pumper back in Snow’s chest as the ultimate revenge. Snow will be her own undoing. From the street, Greg captures this latest magic trick on film and climbs into his car, vowing to find his dad.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Newsroom 1.09: "The Blackout Part 2: Mock Debate"

“Balancing your checkbook is to balancing the budget as driving to the supermarket is to landing on the moon!”

Possibly because it was the second part of a loosely connected two-part episode and possibly because it’s near the end of the season, this particular episode of “The Newsroom” didn’t focus on one particular news event. And I think the episode suffered for lack of that focus. We’ve got a bunch of plots going on in this one. There’s the ongoing AWM fight with Will, Will’s “mission to civilize” manifesting itself in a crusade to reform Presidential debates, Neal’s desire to report on that novel topic of internet trolls, and the Jim/Maggie/Don/Lisa Quadrangle of Doom. And there are probably a couple things I forgot in that list, too. It definitely feels like Sorkin just realized that he has a lot of plot threads to wrap up before the end of the season, and he’s going to get to them all, episode structure be damned!

The episode picks up right where the last one left off, which isn’t really surprising, considering that this is ostensibly a two-parter. Mackenzie has just asked God to give her a sign that she isn’t “doing a big thing badly,” while setting up a pre-tape interview related to the Casey Anthony case, and the power has promptly gone out. Mackenzie uses this as motivation to get her act back together, and she start rallying the troops to do their broadcast outside. Just as they’ve abandoned Casey Anthony and are ready to mount a heroic effort to set up a broadcast over twenty floors down, the power comes back on. And so the Casey Anthony pre-tape resumes, and Mackenzie goes back to feeling like a tool.

In the realm of less important plot lines, the Quadrangle of Doom continues to progress. Don receives flowers at the office from a woman he dated while he and Maggie were “broken up” (they’ve broken up a bunch in the past year and a half, apparently), and Jim signs for them. So Jim knows that he has a pretty juicy tidbit of information he can use to further his chances with Maggie. The idiot doesn’t really succeed in using it, though. He spends most of the episode trying to get back together with Lisa, really. He explains at one point, when he’s told that he’s “on deck” that he doesn’t want to be anyone’s second choice. Although, really, Maggie seems to be Don’s second choice, and Lisa is his second choice, so no matter the configuration we end up with for the Quadrangle, somebody’s going to be with somebody as their second choice. Anyway, Mackenzie gives Jim a speech about “gather ye rosebuds,” and he rushes off to Maggie and Lisa’s apartment. Don is there, and Lisa answers the door. Jim only gets half a sentence out before Lisa says that Maggie convinced her to take him back. They go for a walk, and it’s pretty obvious that Jim’s plan was to ask Maggie out, not Lisa. And Don finally comes clean to Maggie about the other women he’s been dating recently.

In other Lisa-related news, it turns out that Lisa went to high school with Casey Anthony. News Night is still flagging in the ratings, although not as badly as when they weren’t reporting on Casey Anthony at all, so they’re really looking for an angle on the story that nobody else has covered. They need the ratings to improve, after all, if they want a shot at scoring one of the RNC debates. And Will has them working on this apparently amazing, revolutionary debate format. More on that later. Jim and Maggie kind of make asses of themselves bugging Lisa about coming in for an interview while she’s working with a client at a dress shop. Lisa does finally agree, though, and Maggie throws in a twist to make the whole thing a bit more palatable. She reminds everyone that the promo for Lisa’s appearance is all they really need for the ratings. She can say whatever she wants when she’s on camera. Mackenzie has Maggie look up some statistics on missing children for Lisa to read instead of Casey Anthony gossip. Lisa’s grateful for the change in programming, but she makes the mistake of taking it one step farther and throwing in an abortion rights argument. The dress shop where she works ends up getting vandalized, and Will has to clean up the mess with her boss.

So now we’ll take a little break from the mock debate drama to talk about what was both the best and worst plot of the episode at the same time. Neal still wants to do his big internet troll story, and this whole thing cracks me up because it shows the depth of Aaron Sorkin’s likely technophobia. Sorry, but internet trolls are not a new phenomenon. Even worse, Neal is trying to gain acceptance by some mythical ultimate website where trolls congregate. To do this, he wants to trash Sloan online, and this does not make Sloan happy. Neal finds it humorously difficult to get the economists riled up, though, although he does get somewhat of a reaction by asking that typically naive question of why, if he can balance his checkbook, the government can’t balance the budget. She Sloan angle is decidedly underwhelming, so Neal’s investigation takes a more dangerous turn. He wants to look into who made the death threat against Will a few episodes back.

So two RNC staffers, one of which is an old friend of Will’s, arrive at News Night, and Will stages the mock debate. As he explains it to the staffers, he wants to put the candidate on the witness stand. The whole thing fails on so many levels. First of all, Will attacks all the candidates, which while it’s kind of nice to hear as a liberal, clearly isn’t going to fly with the RNC brass. Why would they willingly submit their candidates to that humiliation? Second, it seems very self-serving. Will’s the star of the show, not the candidates. The latter is an argument Sorkin tries to refute by hanging a lantern on it- the RNC folks accuse it of being self-serving, while other characters defend it, saying that Saint Will just genuinely wants to radically change how we do debates in the United States (and bring about world peace and cure childhood hunger too, of course). I’m not buying that argument, though. Even if it isn’t self-serving (which I still think it is), it has that appearance, which means that it fails on its face. Anyway, Will’s college friend thinks the idea is good, but the other RNC stooge doesn’t, and so the idea of a AWN-hosted RNC debate is DOA. And I’ll leave you with that. Three acronyms in one sentence is an achievement I don’t think I’m likely to repeat any time soon.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Person of Interest 2.18: "All In"

“I think you owe Harold some answers.”
- Reese

Overall I wasn’t a huge fan of “All In”. It’s not that the POI of the week wasn’t interesting but I’m just not that into gambling. W4e do start off the episode though with a repeat performance by Leon. He’s in a hotel with some pink haired woman who cuffs him to the bed. Things seem to be going well until two Nigerian scammers (who are actually Nigerian) show up demanding their money back. It would appear Leon hasn’t learned to stop scamming dangerous people. As soon as Leon figures out these guys want to kill him, he expects Reese to show up. And of course, he does. Bear’s along for the ride too and takes down one of the guys. Lucky for Reese, he gets to part ways with Leon quickly. He’ got to deal with a number down in Atlantic City.

Reese is doing some recon on our number, Lou Mitchell. Things don’t seem to be going too well for him. He’s losing a lot of money and he doesn’t have much money to lose anymore. He’s been living off social security checks for the last six months (since his wife died of cancer). Reese follows Lou the next day to the pharmacy and a diner. He notes that based on Lou’s hands, he had all of his fingers broken. Finch enlists Carter’s help and she gets some other cops to do some of her legwork. Detective Shamanski gets her info on Lou’s record from back in the day. It seems he was a mob guy himself. It turns out there’s a drug problem around the casino. Beecher shows up hoping to win Carter over. She says she’ll think about it and wants to get his help investigating the case.

Finch has been having some problems getting access to the casino’s security system but manages to trick one of the electronic blackjack games to let him in. He accesses Lou’s member card and finds he’s almost $320,000 in the hole and counting. Now the real question becomes where is Lou getting all this money to lose in the first place. Finch takes his turn following Lou and thinks he’s doing a good job until he gets to the diner. But Finch’s time wasn’t wasted prior to being spotted. He suspects something fishy is going on at the pharmacy since Lou is back there and several of the older regulars at the casino are there, too. He reaches out to Leon who determines the pharmacy is owned via a shell corporation by the same guy who owns the casino. Finch lies to Lou, saying he’s from the IRS looking into the casino. Lou decides that he’ll answer Finch’s questions if Finch win’s at baccarat. It turns out Lou is much luckier outside the casino than in. And I suspect he was cheating. He nabbed Finch’s keys and drops them in a lobster tank to curb any further following.

I’ll get through the other plot of this episode because I was rather annoyed with it. HR is trying to get a leg up in the world again and dirties up Detective Shamanski right as he’s about to testify against the Russian mob. Carter is pretty freaked and Lionel tells her to be careful because HR is still active and they could go after her next. I’m sure that he wouldn’t let that happen if he could do anything to stop it. He’s turned over a new leaf (though he’s been sadly absent from the show the last few weeks). Anyway, Carter proves that Shamanski was set up with money taken from a drug bust. By the end of the episode, Shamanski is free and he and the ADA are meeting with the head of HR (though they don’t know it). He ends up killing them both and one of the cops Carter was working with shows up and shoots the HR boss in the shoulder to make it look good. I was sad to see Shamanski go but I’m sure Carter will be all over this.

Pretty quickly, Reese and Finch put together what’s going on at the casino. Lou isn’t the only senior citizen losing big at the casino. And Reese finds a trash can full of empty pill bottles. The casino owner is using them to launder dirty drug money. Great, this guy is a real slime ball. Time for Reese to take down his sorry ass. And it seems that the Machine gave them Lou’s number because our trickster is skimming from the laundered money. That will make the owner less than happy. In fact he sends his goon to off Lou. It wouldn’t be POI if Reese didn’t swoop in to save the day.

Lou explains that his wife died and he promised he wouldn’t get back into gambling. But the casino owner didn’t give him much choice. He said it would be a short time but Lou’s not stupid. He knew it would be a long time. Finch puts him on a bus out of the city and enlists Leon to create a distraction at the casino so he can break in and get the real books that the owner keeps of all the dirty money. Unfortunately, Lou doesn’t stay lost. The owner is going to make a move as Lou is winning huge (he wants all his money back) when Reese levels a gun. It seems things are going well. Finch finds the real books and sends a copy to Reese. This helps keep the owner in line to let Lou win over $20 million dollars. That has to be insane. He deposits it in his casino account and things are looking up. Well only until the owner nabs him, Finch, Leon and Reese. The owner is not pleased with Lou for messing with him and so they’re going to play Russian roulette. He thinks he’s covering his tracks by forcing Lou to load the gun but he gets scammed. Lou palmed the bullet and knocks him out. I figured the gun wouldn’t work. I mean sure, pistols don’t misfire often but they weren’t going to kill off anyone. Leon is too hilarious and our heroes are not expendable. Plus the story wouldn’t have been served by killing Lou. So it would appear Lou can settle down and age in peace. He gets his watch and wedding ring back (he had to pawn it to get some money) and he’s happy that the owner won’t be hurting anyone ever again.

Once Upon a Time 2.16: "The Miller's Daughter"

“I know that you’re confused about who you are. So I’m going to tell you. You are a hero who helped your people. You’re a beautiful woman who loved and ugly man. You really, really loved me. You find goodness in others. And when it’s not there, you create it. You make me want to go back, back to the best version of me. And that never happened before.”
- Mr. Gold

Overall I thought “The Miller’s Daughter” was a pretty solid episode. We got some much needed Cora backstory and I think it flowed nicely from “The Queen is Dead”. I personally could have used some more Neal/Emma bonding moments but we still have 6 more episodes this season.

We start in the Fairytale Land that Was where young Cora (played by Rose McGowan) is just a lowly miller’s daughter. She brings some flour into town because her father is a useless drunk and has a run-in with a much younger, brattier Princess Eva. I guess we know where that rivalry comes from. Eva makes Cora trip and then when Cora tries to stand up for herself, the King basically tells her to apologize or he’ll never do business with her family again. She grudgingly apologizes to the princess before giving her a serious glare. I have to say I was very impressed in this episode with how well Rose did mirroring Barbara Hershey’s mannerisms and speech patterns.

On the Atlantic Ocean, Neal and Henry are sailing Hook’s ship back to Maine while Emma checks a very uncomfortable Rumple. I guess all that poison and the fact he’s too tall for the bunk are good reasons to be grumpy. Rumple explains that Cora and Regina could force him to kill everyone with his dagger in their possession. Emma vows to protect and save him because they’re family now. Apparently she gets cell reception on the open water because David lets Mary Margaret know that the gang is on the way back and they know about Cora and Regina having the dagger. Cora is hurt that Snow calls her wicket (Regina has apparently tapped one or both of the Charmings’ cellphones). She notices Rumple’s name disappearing from the dagger, surmises that he’s dying and exclaims that the only option is to kill him with the dagger and become the new Dark One. Regina is unsure about this plan because she’s beginning to realize her mother’s plan is all about power (duh!).

Back in Fairytale land, there’s a masquerade ball going on because the King is basically auctioning off his son (Prince Henry) to the highest bidder. Totally creepy if you ask me. Cora comes incognito but the King spots her (she’s got some straw on her dress) and she says that she can solve all his financial issues by spinning straw into gold. Obviously she can’t and the King knows this. He gives her a challenge: spin straw into gold and she can marry Henry. Fail and she dies. Cora is trying to find a way to escape when Rumple shows up to save her hide. They have this sort of weird flirtation going on. I mean sure, Rumple’s been wifeless and the Dark One (and childless at this point) for quite some time. So I guess he’s entitled to flirt with a pretty young thing like Cora. He offers to spin the straw into gold and get her the admiration of the people and the power she wants in exchange for her firstborn child (aka Regina). For once, they seem to be going fairly close to the fairytale on this one. Cora doesn’t want Rumple to just do it for her. She wants to learn how. This seems to excite him.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma and company make it back and meet up with Ruby, Snow and Charming. Rumple’s not looking so hot but I did have to chuckle when Neal introduces himself to Charming as Henry’s dad. It’s just kind of like “oh…really?”. I have to say having Neal here full time is just making me really giddy. They get back to the pawn shop and Emma is instructed to draw a line by the front door with invisible chalk. This gives her and Neal some banter about surprises and being magical. Which Charming promptly interrupts. It gets a sly smirk out of Neal as he polishes his sword (not a euphemism I swear). In the back room, Rumple and Snow are having a rather important discussion about a certain candle (which she’s discovered he possesses). Rumple wants to Snow to use it to save his life and get rid of Cora. She says she could do that, which would involve cursing Cora’s heart and putting it back in her body, or she could use Cora’s heart to control her and let Rumple die. He remarks that he’s just picturing poor little Henry distraught over learning one of his grandparents let another die. I swear, I’m getting tired of people using Henry as an excuse for doing things.

Well it seems Rumple isn’t done using people. He gets Emma to cast a protection spell. I find it interesting that we learn that magic comes from emotion (which makes me giggle now that I really think about it since that was the link to magic on Charmed, aka Rose McGowan’s last big show). Anyway, she manages to do it. Back in Fairytale Land, Rumple tells Cora basically the opposite; magic is fueled by hate and anger. As she describes what she’d want to see the people of the kingdom do, she manages to turn straw into gold. It was a rather sensual scene and I have to admit I was a little squicked out. But it works and she impresses the King and gets to marry the prince.

Unfortunately, Cora and Regina are at the shop and handily dismantle Emma’s spell. As the ladies confront Neal, Emma and Charming, Snow sneaks out the back door and takes off. The fight doesn’t last very long. Charming gets thrown out the front of the shop (typical) and Emma quickly moves things to a stalemate. She grabs Regina just as Cora summons the dagger. Emma and Neal manage to get to the back room and reset the protection spell. Cora wants Regina to help her take out Rumple but she senses someone is near her heart. So Regina goes to check it out. We jump back to the eve of Cora’s wedding and she and Rumple share some smooches. Cora wants to kill the King for humiliating her and Rumple promises to show her everything. He admits she loves and they amend their deal so that she owes him their love child. For a hot second there, I worried Regina was his daughter and the family tree would get even more twisted. Thankfully, the contract is broken because Cora, instead of taking the King’s heart, takes her own so she can’t love anymore. She does bear a child, a little girl named Regina but it is safe to say that Regina is in fact Prince Henry’s daughter.

Back in Storybrooke, Rumple is slowly fading (as is Emma’s protection barrier). So it’s time for one of the two most emotional scenes of the episode. He needs to talk to Belle, one last time. He tells her who she is (to him) and that he finally admits she truly loved him and made him want to go back to being the best version of himself. I tear up every time I watch that scene. And the on right after is a doozy, too. Neal and Emma overhear the phone call and Neal is surprised at his father’s outpouring of positive emotions. Rumple explains he spent a lifetime (or three) searching for his son to tell him how much he loved him and to apologize. Neal is still angry with his father but he lets Rumple console him a little. It’s a very moving scene.

Down in Regina’s vault, Snow finds Cora’s heart and curses it with the candle. She’s on her way out when Regina catches up with her. There’s some quick thinking from Snow and she convinces Regina to put Cora’s heart back in her body. Snow plays on Regina’s need to have her mother’s love and also plays on the Queen’s desire to have Henry back in her life. I have to say it was pretty genius of the writers to go that route. I didn’t think Snow had it in her. Of course things don’t turn out like she hopes. Like Charming said, she feels enormous guilt about it and the pair race off to Gold’s shop to try and stop Regina.

Cora breaks through the barrier and has a sort of tender moment with Rumple, telling him he’s the only man she ever loved. She’s poised stab him with the dagger when Regina comes in and slams her heart back in (through her spine apparently). Cora has a few moments of real love and adoration with Regina before she dies. So if Snow hadn’t cursed Cora’s heart, her theory about Cora really loving her daughter would have been true. Snow and Charming are too late and now Regina is on the war path. The family feud is at a whole new level.

Person of Interest 2.17: "Proteus"

“What? People like you don’t stop. You can rationalize it however you like but you hurt people because you like it. Because you’re sick, you’re maladjusted and you need help.”
- Mr. Finch

This week’s episode had kind of a murder mystery “Clue” feeling. I kind of like to think of it as Doctor Who’s “The Unicorn and the Wasp” meets Leverage’s “The 10 Li’l Grif6ers Job”. The coast of New York is under heavy rain from a monsoon and that causes part of our heroes’ woes this week. The other is that the Machine seems to be on the fritz. Three days with no new numbers. Reese and Finch are discussing this very fact after leaving a movie theater with Bear (he’s got a service dog vest on) when a pay phone rings. They get not one, not two but six numbers. Sure they’ve had multiple numbers before but this is all spread over the country. The closest is a guy named Rawlins. Reese heads out into the icky weather to check out Rawlins’ place while Finch enlists Carter’s help to get any info she can on the other five.

Carter finds that all five seem to be missing and the FBI has files on all of them. So, after thanking Agent Moss for his help and trying to get any info he has about Detective Beecher, she calls the agent who wrote the reports; Alan Fahey. Agent Fahey insists he’s just a desk jockey, although he’s sitting in a car in the rain in a place that doesn’t look much like DC. Anyway, Reese has some more luck at Rawlins’ house. He finds a train ticket and a rental property on Owen Island. Reese makes it out to the island and to Rawlins’ rental house before the island is shut down due to people evacuating. Finch heads back to Rawlins’ apartment after Carter informs him there was a weird link at each of the other crime scenes, missing or destroyed photos.

Things get rather morbid on Finch’s end. In his search of Rawlins’ apartment, he and Bear head to the basement where Bear alerts to something in a grate. Carter shows up and confirms it to be human teeth. Ew. But I guess we know what happened to all the numbers. Out on the island, Reese is checking out the house and he’s not alone. He meets Agent Fahey and thank goodness Reese is carrying the US Marshal’s badge he nabbed last year. After clearing the house, they head off to the police station to get some help from the local LEOs. All they get is a grumpy Deputy who is scrambling to evacuate the island. Meanwhile, Carter confirms that whoever killed Rawlins knew what they were doing. Seeing as communication to the island is nil, Finch decides he needs to be there with Reese so he’s going to fly. Carter’s trying to figure out anything she can on the other victims when Detective Beecher stops by. She gives him the cold shoulder and I have to say I’m glad about that. I don’t trust him and I don’t like him.

We start to meet the cast of characters who are going to become our suspects on the island. Fahey shares with Reese that he thinks there’s a serial killer out there taking on victim’s identities. This reminded me of an episode of Criminal Minds a few years back. Guess there’s only so many plots to go around. As some of the locals straggle in, Reese and Fahey go out to a boat to haul in a guy tr7ying to get out on the water. They get a two-for because there’s a guy trying to stow away on the boat, too. They get back to the station to find Finch has arrived and landed his plane in the middle of the town. Go Finch!

Things start to get really interesting once Finch arrives. The guys come up with a way to try and weed out the imposter. Finch conveniently brought equipment that could be used as a polygraph. So Reese and Fahey start asking questions and things are going well until they start talking to the fisherman. Based on his heart rate he’s rather jumpy. Their interrogation of the second guy they found at the boat doesn’t go any better. He’s really jittery and his heart is racing. Back in the city, Carter gets a little assist from Beecher in figuring out that some surveillance video they have of Rawlins before he moved to New York is off. The guy closing up the shop and opening it the next morning isn't the same person. And Carter gets some news from the Dean of Students from Stanford (the first victim was an international student there seven years ago). Apparently he requested a new roommate his last semester and there is no digital record of the guy he’d been rooming with. My guess is that guy is the killer.

Carter is trying to get through to the island to let Reese know the newest info when the generator on the island goes out. Reese goes to check it out and when he gets back, the deputy has been stabbed. Things kick into overdrive now. Everyone starts arguing about how killed the deputy and Reese clues in on the drifter. Turns out he’s an AWOL Marine who couldn’t face going back overseas. Of course there’s a fist fight between him and Reese because an episode of this show wouldn’t be complete without some violence. And the fisherman’s disappeared. So Reese goes after him. Meanwhile, Carter decides she needs to jump into action and get out to the island. Beecher insists on going with her and they sort of have it out on the drive there. Reese catches up with the fisherman and finds he’s been smuggling marijuana. He’s about to put the guy in the trunk when he discovers there’s already a body in there. The real Agent Fahey. I have to say on first watch, I figured out he wasn’t the real Fahey pretty early on.

Unfortunately, Finch is figuring this out, too. He’s checking the readings and he sees a spike in Fahey’s heart rate. He goes to check the badge to find it empty (just the shield part is there). And that’s when Fahey decides on his next identity. He takes Finch out to a secluded area behind the station and explains that he’ll stop taking identities when he’s found himself. I have to say this guy was sufficiently creepy. He’s about to shoot Finch when carter shows up and shoots the poser in the back. Finch is grateful for her arrival and it turns out having Beecher along was a good thing. Fake Fahey pops up thanks to his body armor and Beecher shoots him in the head. It would seem all is well, despite the Machine glitching. Finch is worried about the future and what all of this means. I have a feeling he’s right to be concerned.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Once Upon a Time 2.15: "The Queen is Dead"

“It's a sad truth that the people closest to us are the ones capable of causing us the most pain.”

So this is the second episode I’ve written about this week where people have issues surrounding their birthday. I think Snow White’s birthday issues trump Juliette and Deacon’s though. Considering that’s when Cora killed her mom and all. This episode begins to really explore the depths of the feud between Regina and Snow’s families. It’s not just about Snow accidentally getting Regina’s boyfriend killed. This goes back to things that happened between their mothers, Cora and Queen Eva. We learn even more about this in the next episode, but “The Queen is Dead” begins to put the pieces together. Meanwhile, in our world, Emma and her family continue to work through all the implications of the reveals of the last episode as they work to resolve a serious health crisis for Rumpelstiltskin. Overall, the drama is really brewing in this one, and it’s only going to get more intense from here as we head full steam ahead towards the season finale in a couple months.

The flashbacks in this one focus on Snow White as a young girl. Her birthday is coming up, and it’s going to be the Enchanted Forest version of a debutante coming out. She’s basically going to get her tiara and be presented to the kingdom as their future ruler. Young Snow still has a lot of growing up to do, though. She sees her maid, Johanna (aka Mrs. Patmore from “Downton Abbey”) trying on her tiara and has a bit of a freak out. Her mom, Queen Eva, puts the kibosh on that pretty quickly, though. Queen Eva reminds Snow that Snow is being raised to be a benevolent ruler and always be good. Snow realizes she’s done wrong, but the warm fuzzies don’t last for long because Eva faints. Later we see the quintessential bloody cough of TV death.

Snow knows things are dire, and Johanna recommends that Snow try to contact the blue faerie. When Snow tries to do that, she instead encounters Cora in blue faerie disguise. Cora gives Snow a candle that she says can heal her mother. The catch is that Snow would have to kill someone for the magic to work. Snow tells her mother about what the blue faerie told her, and her mother pleads with Snow not to use dark magic for her sake. Eva couldn’t stand for Snow to be anything but pure good. Kind of a lot of pressure on a little kid, right? So Snow lets her mom die, and the funeral is just devastating. Little Snow doesn’t want to leave her mother’s coffin after the service, but Johanna makes her get up and keep going on.

In Storybrooke, it’s Snow’s birthday. Charming is trying to make her breakfast, but Snow, understandably, wants no fuss whatsoever. Somebody’s delivered her a present, though. It’s her old tiara, and it’s from Johana. Snow didn’t even realize that Johanna was in Storybrooke, which I found kind of strange. Anyway, Snow and Johanna have a nice little reunion and a little catch-up time before Snow hears something strange in the woods. She follows the sound and finds Regina and Cora. They’re digging for something, and that something turns out to be the dagger that controls Rumpelstiltskin’s powers. It seems like they want to use it to control Rumpelstiltskin, or that Cora might want to kill Rumpelstiltskin with it and take the Dark One powers for herself. Snow immediately tries to send a message to Emma and Rumpelstiltskin, who are still in New York.

Speaking of the currently in New York branch of the Charming family, Henry is still being a brat about the fact that Emma lied to him about his father. Sure, it was a crummy thing to do, but it was nowhere near the evil that Regina has been responsible for. Kid need to realize he’s got a good thing going. Anyway, the crew heads back to Neal’s apartment so Henry can get his camera, but they get a nasty surprise there. And that would be Hook. He manages to give Rumpelstiltskin quite the gash with his hook before Neal and Emma can stop him. We find out later that they stuffed Hook in a basement and left him there, a convenient cover-up for the broken leg of the actor who portrays him. Ah well- Hook certainly deserved to be left behind. Rumpelstiltskin is in bad shape after the attack, and it seems like the only shot he has at recovery is to get him back to Storybrooke. That seems like kind of a bad idea since Regina and Cora are closing in on the dagger (which presumably wouldn’t control Rumpelstiltskin as long as he is outside Storybrooke), but I guess they have no choice. They need a car to get to Hook’s pirate ship (which they plan to sail up to Maine), and they obtain one pretty easily, courtesy of Neal’s fiancée. Emma isn’t especially thrilled by that little discovery.

Anyway, the crew finally convinces Rumpelstiltskin to tell Snow and Charming where his dagger is so that they can get to it before Regina and Cora. It turns out that it’s up in the clocktower, which was a pretty great hiding place. As soon as Snow and Charming get the dagger, though, Regina and Cora show up. And they have Johanna. They take Johanna’s heart and start crushing it, and Snow has to make a decision about what to do. Does she turn over the dagger and save Johanna or keep the dagger and be partially responsible for Johanna’s death. Johanna wants Snow to keep the dagger, but Snow turns it over. It doesn’t do any good, though. As soon as she gets the dagger, Cora pushes Johanna out of the clocktower window, and Johanna is killed instantly when she hits the ground. Poor Snow is devastated, and she wants to take more extreme measures to stop Cora and Regina from hurting anyone else. Charming, however, reminds Snow that her mom always wanted her to be good. Snow has quite the dilemma going forward.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nashville 1.14: "Dear Brother"

“Should’s not the right word when it comes to music.”
-Watty White

The latest episode of “Nashville” was certainly a downer. All of the characters are in a pretty seriously dark place by the end of the episode. Heck, they’re in a dark place by just half way through. Watching “Dear Brother” was physically painful, not because it was bad by any means, but because all of the characters were being put through the emotional wringer and making bad choices as a consequence that we know is going to just lead to more heartbreak down the road. Part of the darkness was the characters’ own doing, and part was just something like fate. And there’s still a couple weeks until the show comes back from post-February sweeps hiatus, so we’re left with everybody in this rather sad state of affairs for quite a while before we can see how it’s all resolved.

The events that cause all the darkness and drama by the end of the episode pretty much all stem from a series of really bad choices on the part of multiple characters. To start off, Juliette decides for some reason that she really wants to throw Deacon a birthday party. We get the impression as the episode progresses that her reasoning has to do with some ruined birthdays when she was a kid, but I still don’t see exactly how that connects to her perseveration on throwing Deacon a party. I guess she believes everyone deserves to have a blowout birthday party? Considering Deacon’s a recovering alcoholic (albeit a long-time sober one), it just doesn’t seem like the smartest idea. Deacon’s idea of a good birthday is camping out on his couch and watching “Old Yeller.” To make matters worse, in her focus on planning this party, Juliette is either ignoring or being a bitch to her mom, who just got out of rehab.

The second of the three major sources of drama in this episode starts at Scarlett and Gunnar’s house. Gunnar is gathering up some laundry for Scarlett when he finds Jason’s gun. Scarlett understandably freaks out, and Gunnar ends up kicking Jason out and throwing the gun in the river. Jason pleads with Gunnar, saying he made some serious enemies in prison and he’s worried about retaliation, but Gunnar doesn’t want to hear any of it. After a rather triumphant performance at Deacon’s birthday party, Gunnar gets a visit from some police officers. He’s got to go to the police station and identify Jason’s body. Apparently he was beaten to death in an alley. Hen Gunnar finally goes back home, Scarlett is very worried about him because he’s been out all night. When she hears the news, she understands why Gunnar is so upset, and she makes the decision to start kissing him. And then there’s the clothes coming off. This can’t end well, which makes me sad, because Gunnar and Scarlett (literally) make such beautiful music together. By the rules of television, though, except for Booth and Brennan, I don’t think grief sex can immediately lead to a lasting relationship.

The other big dramatic plot point in this episode is that Rayna’s divorce has hit the tabloids. To make things worse, the tabloid story accuses Rayna of having an affair with Liam. This makes Maddie really pissed at Rayna. Rayna is the center of Paparazzi attention in Nashville, and she can’t go anywhere without the photogs swarming. It gets so bad when she’s just trying to take the girls home from dance class that Rayna holes up in her house and refuses to leave, saying she’ll just stay there and write music until it all blows over and the tabloids find something else to fixate on. Rayna does eventually get it together enough to go to Deacon’s birthday party (she originally declined the invite so she wouldn’t make the tabloids heat up even more), mostly thanks to a conversation with her father. Speaking of Lamar, he finds that now Teddy is mayor, he is much less amenable to taking Lamar’s advice. Teddy’s not putting Lamar’s lackeys in his cabinet, and it’s pissing Lamar off. Instead, the cabinet includes Peggy and Coleman, which pisses off both Lamar and Rayna. While we’re on the subject, it kind of pisses me off that Coleman has so little self-worth that he agrees to be Teddy’s deputy mayor.

Anyway, the big birthday party is at the Bluebird, and it’s kind of epic. Juliette enlists Scarlett’s help in getting Deacon to leave the “Old Yeller” marathon. Scarlett tells him she and Gunnar are going to be performing at the Bluebird that night. They do indeed get to perform, it’s just as the opening to the party. They sing “I Will Fall,” and it’s gorgeous as always, and all the music bigwigs at the party take note. Juliette kind of regrets asking them to perform, actually, because they show her up a bit. Avery stops by the Bluebird and is pissed off when he’s not on the list to get into the party and then sees Gunnar and Scarlett performing through the window. I really, really don’t want Scarlett and Avery to get back together. He’s such a tool. Juliette’s mother Jolene is at the party, too, which is also not such a good thing considering she just got out of rehab. Jolene takes some champagne for the big birthday toast, and that’s all it takes for her to completely fall off the wagon. Juliette and Deacon have to take her back to Juliette’s house, and Juliette has to take care of her for the rest of the evening. I guess it’s a sign of progress that she takes care of her mom willingly. Jolene also has an addictions counselor who I have a feeling will play a bigger role in the episodes to come.

So we leave the episode in a rather dark place. Gunnar and Scarlett are hooking up in seriously sub-optimal circumstances, Rayna’s family life is falling apart, and Jolene has fallen off the wagon. It’s almost too much really. I hope that in the final stretch of episodes, we can really get back to the music and the joy of creating it. I want more new Gunnar and Scarlett songs! Although I have a sinking feeling that their current rendezvous might put the kibosh on that for a little while. What I really love about Nashville is that it’s a portrayal of a town where a particular craft is honed and all the participants really care about and devote themselves to that craft. As a musician (albeit not a very good one), there’s something about that aspect of the show that really speaks to me. So here’s hoping for more great music in the final stretch of the season.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Arrow 1.16: "Dead to Rights"

“You know, Dad. Sometimes, the people you want there the most aren’t. You taught me that.”
- Tommy

Starling City’s finest are racing to catch a helicopter with an assassin on board. Of course, Oli gets there first and after a little scuffling, lands an arrow in the guy’s chest. He snags dead guy’s phone and hightails it back to the man cave where Diggle is trying to give Felicity some self-defense training. Oli wants Felicity to do her tech thing to see what they can get about who hired the assassin. Oli has to head off to meet McKenna for Tommy’s birthday dinner. Before he goes, we flash back to the island when he seriously not buff. He can barely do four pull-ups. Slade gets some shirtless work out time in while Oliver says he’s going to try to fix the radio in the plane. Apparently Robert did his own maintenance and Oli liked it so he got pretty good at it. Back in the present, Oli and McKenna share some kisses before heading in for diner at Laurel’s place. Things seem to be going well until Malcolm shows up. He’s being honored with a humanitarian award and wants Tommy to be there. Tommy isn’t interested in supporting his dad. I do have to say, I like Tommy a little more now that he’s not a trust fund brat.

As rumored, Deadshot is not actually dead. But he does seem to be drinking and smoking his life away. China White isn’t impressed. She wants to hire him to kill Malcolm. He’s lost his edge since he tussled with Oli (blind in one eye). But with new tech offered up by his overseas benefactor, he’s up to the task. Moira assure Frank that it will be happening at the awards dinner just before they walk in for a meeting of the Undertaking. Malcolm announces that they are only months away from fruition and Moira tells him they are all with him. I guess it’s important to not betray the fact she wants him dead.

Felicity isn’t having a lot of luck decrypting the assassin’s phone. But she did find that the last number he called was for the Jade Dragon in Chinatown. Oli knows it’s a front for the Triad so he tells Dig to make reservation for two and he and Tommy go there for dinner to celebrate Tommy’s (now) belated birthday. They have sort of a heart to heart over a really big fish. Tommy admits that he spent so much time at the Queen residence because his dad was so cold after his mom was killed. It was Oli’s dad that did typical father things with him; taking him to sports games, R rated movies. Oli tries to explain that his dad wasn’t perfect and that he still has a lot of anger towards him. The conversation is cut short when he spots a Triad enforcer walk by. Under the guise of hitting the head, Oli follows him and learns that whatever is going down that the Triad is involved in happens tomorrow. He calls Detective Lance to try and get some help but Lance just tells him that SCPD doesn’t work for him and to call back when he has the name of the target. He’s still convinced he is going to catch the vigilante. Back on the island, Slade’s returned with some dead animal while Oli is still fiddling with the radio. He gets it to turn on and they can hear stuff on the other end but they can’t communicate. Meanwhile, China White and her thugs are planning their attack on Malcolm. Their goal is to disable his security, force him outside with the rest of the people attending the dinner and then let Deadshot do his thing.

Oli is prepping for another date with McKenna while Felicity and Diggle continue to decrypt the assassin’s phone. Moira is getting ready for the award ceremony and she’s a little shaky. Tommy, after taking Oli’s little dinner speech to heart decides to go to the ceremony. China White and her men are intermingled among the crowd (well she’s mingling, they’re impersonating the servers). Malcolm gets up to give his speech just as Felicity cracks the phone and Diggle imparts the news to Oli. He calls Detective Lance as he’s on the move. Malcolm’s speech is really all about his dead wife but it gets a smile out of Tommy. Malcolm steps off the stage and China White gives the signal. The fire alarm goes off and her men take out Malcolm’s body guards. But he’s more worried about Tommy. With Malcolm making a beeline for Tommy, Deadshot can’t get what he wants so he is going to change vantage points and hopefully Malcolm will head to his penthouse office. Which of course, he does. He takes out two of China White’s men, too. That freaks Tommy out. Oliver has entered the fray and saved their asses and is giving China White a beat down without telling him why she wants Malcolm dead. Malcolm thinks his office is pretty damn safe. Unfortunately for him, just as he’s about to show Tommy his secret room and that he was the Dark Archer, Deadshot breaks he window and puts three or four bullets in Malcolm. Things are not looking good for him.

Things aren’t going any better for Oli either. He’s got China White on the ground at arrow-point when McKenna shows up and orders him to drop his bow. He ends up shooting a fire extinguisher to make his getaway. Upstairs, Tommy drags Malcolm out of the line of fire and Malcolm comes to and says he’s okay. He was wearing a bullet proof vest. Too bad one of the bullets missed the vest and actually hit him. He passes out just as Oli gets there and reveals that Malcolm is going to be dead in four minutes if Tommy doesn’t accept his help. Tommy brandishes his dad’s gun until Oli reveals himself. He convinces Tommy they need to do a quickie blood transfusion to help keep Malcolm alive. It works and Oli promises he’ll explain things later. He watches as McKenna and Lance question Tommy but he denies any knowledge of who the vigilante really is.

Back on the island, Oli is getting frustrated that Slade keeps fiddling with the now working radio. Well he’s crabby until they tap into the bad guy’s frequency. They have a location and a time where he’s meeting someone. And Slade wants to be there. They trek out to find that there’s a huge Russian anti-missile launcher thing. So the bad guys’ mean business. Meanwhile, Oli brings the bad news to Diggle that Deadshot is still alive. He heads to the hospital and runs into McKenna. She’s still game to giving their relationship a try if he is. I don’t know why he’s making his life so complicated but he is. Meanwhile, Tommy and Malcolm share some father/son time and Malcolm reveals that he went away and met a man who gave him a purpose and a way to make Starling City better. Before he can answer Tommy’s question of how, Moira shows up. Malcolm tasks her with finding the traitor in their midst and dispensing with them. Little does he know he’s looking at said traitor. Outside his room, Oliver pays Tommy a visit. Tommy certainly has lots of questions but the one he’s most interested in knowing the answer to is if Oli was ever going to tell him about being the vigilante. Oli says no and Tommy walks off. Aww, sad Oli! And to top things off, Laurel gets a visit from her long-estranged mother (played by the ever awesome Alex Kingston rocking non-curly brown hair and an American accent). Mama Lance seems to think that Sarah is still alive.