Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Person of Interest 2.20: "In Extremis"

“I was a dirty cop. I killed people. But since I met you and our friends, that’s all changed.”
- Lionel

We have been waiting for a Lionel-centric episode all season and we finally got one. The Machine tracks back to after Reese’s first meeting with him and he’s burying Detective Stills. As he’s doing it, Lionel breaks down, and the Machine picks up chatter that an old buddy of Lionel’s (who is in prison with other members of HR’s dirty-cop network) is going to spill the beans on Lionel. In the present, Reese is acting as a waiter at a fancy award ceremony while Carter and Lionel attend Beecher’s funeral. The two scenes are intercut in an interesting way where Lionel confronts Simmons as Dr. Nelson (the POI of the week) accepts his title of Professor Emeritus and then runs into a patient, a colleague and his former research assistant. Simmons tells Lionel that IAB is looking into him. True to word, the minute Lionel gets back to the station, IAB takes his badge and gun. Meanwhile, Dr. Nelson is not looking so hot; dizziness, nose bleeds. Helping him is going to be interesting.

Carter is not a happy camper after trying to get Lionel to open up about what’s going on with Internal Affairs. Lionel reminds her of the time he tried to go to her to explain things and she wouldn’t listen. Now he doesn’t want to talk about it. Carter demands that Finch help her before she helps him run down names of potential people who want Dr. Nelson dead. Reese’s attempt to intervene with the good doctor goes sideways after his symptoms get worse and he calls 9-1-1. Nelson knows Reese from the reception and he thinks maybe Reese had something to do with it. Then the cops show up and Reese has to duck out.

As the questioning from IAB begins, we see a series of flashbacks to Lionel’s past. He first denies that he and Still were close friends but we see from a flashback in 2004 that they were really good friends. Stills even let Lionel stay on his couch the night his wife served divorce papers and kicked him out of the house. Meanwhile, Reese checks in on Dr. Nelson in the hospital while Finch retraces the doctor’s steps searching for anything. He finds low levels of radiation. The doctor was poisoned and they’re definitely too late. Nelson didn’t receive treatment in time so he’s got 24 hours to live. The Machine is definitely not acting as it should. But Reese convinces Nelson to help him track down the person who poisoned him. And that apparently starts with him trying to make amends with his daughter Molly (hello Claudia Donovan…why are you so far from the Warehouse?). She’s still mad at him for not being around but says she’ll call in the next day.

We jump back to 2004 to the first time Lionel helped out Stills and another friend of his cover up a murder of a drug dealer. It is very clear that he did not want to help but Stills twisted his harm into doing it. And by the way Lionel looks, he was expecting it to be a onetime thing. Carter pays a visit to the rat in prison and tries to sway him to do what she wants. He’s not giving it up though. It sounds like he’s made a deal with someone else for something sweeter than what she’s offering. She shares her lack of good luck with Finch but also tells him she found out the SEC is investigating the asset management firm of one of Nelson’s clients for insider trading. Reese asks Nelson about it and Nelson realizes he did tell his patient about the impending failure of a drug trial. The client’s company made $500 million. And now they have to tie up loose ends.

Reese and Nelson pick up the hedge fund manager and he eventually admits that his boss mace him commit crimes to turn profits and not get fired. He also eventually tells them where the boss is. They dump him on t5he side of the road and head upstate where Nelson has a chat with the guy and poisons him, too. Not really the kind of justice we see our boys dish out most of the time but I guess it works. Meanwhile, we also learn that Lionel has killed people. In 2005, he shot a guy but it was really self-defense. And that’s when he got in deep with the crew. The look on Carter’s face as she listens to all of this is just one of shock. Probably wouldn’t have been if she’d let Lionel tell her the truth to begin with weeks ago. Unfortunately, IAB has figured out that Stills is dead and they found four plots out in Oyster Bay that had disturbed earth from the night Stills went missing. So they’re going to find out which one contains the body by digging up all four of them come morning.

They finally let Lionel go to the bathroom and Carter confronts him. He admits to being a dirty copy, thinking at first he was cleaning up the streets. But he killed people and since he met her and Reese and Finch, things have been different. Carter is appalled and doesn’t want to hear it. She is really not interested. But come morning when IAB heads out to Oyster Bay, they find that where Stills actually was buried is empty. And as Carter heads home once Lionel has his badge back with Bear, we’re lead to believe she went and moved the body to protect Lionel. And it seems perhaps Elias had something to do with getting the rat inside to shut up about Lionel’s involvement in HR business. The more pressing issue is the Machine. It’s been giving them numbers too late to save people for several numbers now. And we see the entire Machine start to go red and pixelate before it all just shuts down. Whatever the virus is that Stanton planted, it’ found its target and it isn’t letting go any time soon. Our boys are going to have to do some fancy maneuvering to save the Machine before it’s too late.

Arrow 1.20: "Home Invasion"

“Oliver, we’re not even in the same book. I mean, not anymore. We’re done.”
- Diggle

We are closing in on the end of the first season of Arrow (for those following at home, it has already been renewed for season 2). We begin this week with Diggle working out, trying to funnel some of his frustrations over Deadshot into a productive use of his time. As Oli promises to help hunt down the assassin, we see him in Germany kill someone. Felicity pipes up that Diggle’s government friend haws set up a lure to get Deadshot back to Starling City. Diggle pays his contact, Lila, a visit but she cuts him off. She knows about his brother and orders him to stay away.

Meanwhile, Oli heads off to lunch with laurel, which has to be cancelled because she’s getting ready for a deposition with the Moores. They invested with a guy named Rasmus and he blew it all. That night, a man with no name (played by J. August Richards of Angel fame) shows up and kills Mr. and Mrs. Moore. Their seven-year-old son, Taylor, escapes. Oli sees the morning news and he gets that look like he wants to put an arrow in someone. He goes down to the precinct to check on Laurel. S he’s taking temporary guardianship of Taylor. There will be a patrol car outside her building and Detective Lance even gives Tommy orders to keep an eye on Laurel. Things are going to get kind of awkward I can just tell.

Back at the man cave, Felicity shares the plan to take down Deadshot. At least the plan that the feds have. Oli is going to make sure Deadshot doesn’t walk away again. And he wants Felicity to look into Rasmus to see if they can find the hired gun. That night at Laurel’s place, Tommy manages to connect with Taylor. He shares the loss of his mother. He tells Taylor that his parents aren’t gone because they will always be in his memories and his dreams. Tommy does have a few surprises left in him.

Back on the island, Shadow and Slade are trying to come up with a rescue plan to get the Archer and stop the baddie. Shadow suggests Oliver can provide cover by way of bow and arrow. She’ll teach him to shoot and if he can’t hit his mark by sundown, they find another way. Things get a little steamy between them as they practice out in the woods. She gets to show off a little bit as she tries to explain to Oliver how to shoot properly. It’s not so much his form as it is his focus. He needs to see his target, focus on it and just let it go. They share a kiss but Oli is still in love with Laurel at this point. Not that she knows it or feel the same way given how things ended with them pre-island getaway. We don’t entirely know if Oli succeeds by sundown but the pair do return to the plane wreckage. Unfortunately, the Archer shows up. He’s led the baddie and the soldiers right to them. I have to say the island plot is the part that keeps me guessing.

Roy Harper reappears this week for a very brief storyline. He wants to find the vigilante. He ends up snagging a police radio from Detective Lance and when he hears chatter while out on a date with Thea, he takes off. Too bad it was just Lance setting a trap for him to get the radio back. Later, Thea shows up at the precinct to try and talk to Lance about just letting Roy go. Lance complies but takes them down to the morgue. There’s a special part just for vigilante victims. Thea is pretty freaked out but Roy sees the justice in it all. After they leave, he explains to Thea that the Hood made him realize he could be more than what he was. And so they agree to find the vigilante together. That is going to be one awkward conversation when Thea realizes it’s her big brother.

After Tommy’s bonding with Taylor, things go from bad to worse. The assassin shows up at Laurel’s place and tries to take her and Taylor out. She figure shim out before she just opens the door because the badge he had didn’t’ start with the right number for the rank he stated. Laurel gets a few shots off at him but Arrow shows up and manages to save their lives. The assassin gets away, giving him another opportunity to try and take them out. In a rather surprising move, Tommy says they should go stay with the Queens. They have tons of security and unbeknownst to the Lances, their very own vigilante. Too bad, Oli has a date with Deadshot at 8pm. He swings by the club to get his Arrow gear when Felicity alerts to the fact that Rasmus is leaving the country on a flight that leaves at 8:15. So he’s going to have to pick, ditch Diggle and stop the assassin or take out Deadshot once and for all.

It becomes obvious as Diggle waits out of view at the Deadshot trap that Oliver isn’t showing. We see him take out Rasmus’ car with some arrows. So he’s at least taken care of. Things with Deadshot take a well, deadly turn. A bunch of agents get taken out before Diggle can do anything (though he does notice the glint of read from high up. He tackles his friend and she seems to be okay but stunned and maybe had the wind knocked out of her. Diggle goes after Deadshot and they fight hand to hand in a stairwell until Deadshot forces Dig onto his knees. But he won’t pull the trigger because no one is paying him. Oli gets back to the man cave to find Felicity tending to Diggle’s head wound and Diggle is furious that Oli broke his promise to help take out Deadshot. Who knows when they’ll get their next opportunity to find him? Rasmus won’t be an issue though because the assassin impersonates an attorney and kills him without leaving a mark.

Oliver heads back home as Laurel and Tommy put Taylor to bed. The power gets cut and Oli locks Laurel and Tommy in with Taylor to keep them safe. The assassin gets in (by using a UPS guy as cover) and takes out a lot of the bodyguards. But he is no match for Oliver. They trade blows and go dicing off stairwells but in the end Oliver stabs him through the chest with a fire poker. Use what’s handy I suppose. He feeds Detective Lance a story about one of the security guards doing the actual killing and surprisingly, Tommy back him up on it. They share an emotional moment where Tommy realizes Oli is still in love with Laurel. Oliver swears there’s no competition because she can never know his secret. But Tommy thinks that if she did find out, she’d choose him. And so, once Taylor is safely off with his grandparents, Tommy leaves.

And that’s not the only break up happening this week. After everything has gone down, Oliver shows up at the man cave and tells dig he wants to get on the same page again. But Dig isn’t interested. He is done being the side kick and being tossed around by Oliver and treated like crap. Oli can do his heroics without him. I really hope Diggle changes his mind. I know Oli can be one-track sometimes but he did what he thought was the best thing to save the most lives.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Revolution 1.14: "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia

“You’re in, too. Your mom told me to take care of you. So I figured I’d drag you in front of a nuclear weapon.”

As you can probably tell from the title, we got to see the Georgia Federation in this episode of “Revolution,” and it’s nothing like what you think. I could go into much more detail, probably a whole post’s worth, on why the condition of the Georgia Federation versus the Monroe Republic isn’t realistic, but I’d rather avoid the flame war. So instead I’ll just link you to this article which pretty much explains the whole thing. On the positive side, I can really see the new direction of the show in this episode. I feel like the creative team is really working on deepening the characters while expanding the mythology of the show. And this time, since much of the episode takes place in the Deep South, the Spanish moss on the trees is actually appropriate. Note to the creative team for the future if the characters ever go back to Rebel HQ: I’m looking out my window here in actual Annapolis, and there’s no damn Spanish moss.

Early in the episode, we see that Monroe has gone even more off the deep end than he already was. Neville’s aide tells Monroe that Neville and his wife have escaped. He also says that he has intelligence that Jason is still alive and is fighting with the rebels now. Since Jason was supposed to be dead, that’s not good news. It means Neville has been lying about a lot of things. Monroe is incensed, and he vows revenge. He also turns his rage on Neville’s aide. The aide prostrates himself and tries to do everything he can to convince Monroe that he’s still loyal in spite of his boss, but it’s not enough. Monroe shoots him right then and there. And stuff like that is why I don’t find Monroe to be all that compelling of a villain. I like my villains with shades of gray, and Monroe is batshit crazy and moustache twirling to boot.

Speaking of batshit crazy, Rachel and Aaron are on their way to the tower to turn the power back on, but they need to make a stop at the house of Dr. Jane Warren. Rachel says that Jane is the only person who knows enough about the tower to tell them what to do to fix it. Jane, however, is kind of off her rocker. Sarah thinks she’s the Rousseau (from “Lost”) of this particular story, although I think Rousseau is a little farther gone than Jane. Jane has a very clear motivation for her actions. Rousseau’s just been by herself for too long. Anyway, when they’re almost at Jane’s very remote house in the woods, Rachel and Aaron are stopped by some highwaymen. They’re about to rape Rachel and rob Aaron when they suddenly spontaneously combust thanks to Jane shooting them with something that seemed to activate the nanobots in their bodies. Jane doesn’t play.

At Jane’s house, we’re also introduced to Jane’s partner, Beth. Jane is really vehemently opposed to Rachel’s plan to turn the power back on, and it’s quickly apparent why. Beth had stage 4 cancer before the blackout, and the nanobots have somehow eaten the tumors. If the power turns back on, Beth will die. Jane tries to lay a guilt trip on Rachel about how Danny will die too, but Rachel informs Jane that Danny is already dead. So clearly Danny had some sort of sickness (maybe the asthma?) that the nanobots were supposed to fix, but we don’t know what exactly that sickness was. Anyway, after catching Rachel snooping through her library, Jane and Rachel have a yelling match that is overheard by Beth. Beth wants Rachel to turn the power back on even if it means she will die. A distraught Jane gives Rachel a notebook of the information she needs before telling Rachel and Aaron to leave her house and never come back.

In other Matheson news, Miles has gotten some intel that Monroe’s goons have taken the nuclear weapon to Georgia, and they most likely intend to detonate it there. So the crew is going to the Georgia Republic, and we get our first glimpse at a part of the post-blackout world that isn’t the Monroe Republic. Our first glimpse of Georgia is pretty much how you’d expect Georgia to be. Lots of Spanish moss and a remote cabin that serves as a guardhouse. Monroe wants Charlie to seduce, then kill the guard, but they discover somebody else has already done the job. Miles recognizes the knife that was left behind at the scene, and he knows that they’re dealing with his militia protégé Alec. We get a flashback to when Miles first gave Alec the knife during Miles’ militia days (it had belonged to both his father and grandfather), and in subsequent flashbacks, we learn about Alec and Miles’ falling out. Alec had been sent to kill a bigwig in Texas, he failed the mission and was seen, so Miles has to send him back to Texas to face justice in the interests of not starting a war between the Monroe Republic and Texas. Needless to say, while it makes sense, Alec didn’t appreciate this arrangement very much.

Anyway, the crew eventually arrives in Atlanta, which is surprisingly civilized considering there is no electricity. The people are all wearing clean, modern clothes and appear to be shopping at well-stocked shops. This all, as I mentioned in the intro, pretty much makes no sense. The team wants to capture Alec and get him away from the nuke, but chaos erupts when a Monroe helicopter drops leaflets warning of an imminent nuclear detonation. Miles finds Alec pretty quickly, and they get into a knock down, drag out fight that is only ended by Charlie’s bow and arrow. Miles is captured by Georgia Federation forces, and Charlie is left to deal with Alec. Alec taunts Charlie about being his replacement, and how Miles is going to screw her over too. When Charlie says that she thinks things will be different because Miles is her uncle, Alec alludes to something horrible that Miles once did to Rachel, but he doesn’t say what it was. So Rachel is left doubting if she can trust Miles.

Miles, meanwhile, has been taken to see the President of the Georgia Federation, Kelly Foster. Apparently they have a history, because she tells Miles that she should slit him for what he’s done and holds a knife to his crotch. Is there any woman on this show that Miles hasn’t banged? Anyway, Miles is finally set free when he convinces President Foster that he’s the best person to find the nuke and stop Alec, since he’s the one who trained Alec in the first place. Miles does indeed find Alec, and he ends up killing Alec as Monroe is trying to give the order to detonate the nuke. Charlie sees that Miles has killed his former sidekick, and a part of her has to wonder if she’s next. President Foster is very happy that this threat is over, and she essentially drafts Miles and the rest of the Rebels to serve as a second front (the Georgia army being the first) in the upcoming war against the Monroe Republic. I’m thinking that’s not what the rebels had in mind.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.04: "And Now His Watch is Ended"

“Unsullied! Slay the masters, slay the soldiers, slay every man who holds a whip, but harm no child. Strike the chains off every slave you see!”

This particular episode of Game of Thrones tried to advance every plot that the show has going with the exception of Robb, Talisa, and Cat’s misadventures, and the episode suffered for that. Everything has gotten exceptionally dark in a hurry, with the final minutes devoted to Daenerys really being the only thing to draw me in. Everything else was just a lot of misery. Well, the happenings in King’s Landing weren’t exactly misery, but Margaery’s scheming still lends a darkness to it all. Daenerys just plain kicked ass, and that was fun to watch, even if it probably won’t all end how she hopes. Because the episode was so disjointed, that was really the only moment that stood out, and there wasn’t really a nice build up to the moment like you would expect in a traditionally structured episode of television. Which is a shame, really.

Jaime and Brienne’s continuing adventures start off the episode, and we get gore right from the beginning, as the camera focuses on Jaime’s severed hand, which is draped around his neck. He is not recovering well from the impromptu amputation at all. Brienne warns their captors that Jaime is about to fall off of his horse, but they don’t really seem to care. Their leader, Locke, seems to delight in torturing Jaime, by giving him a canteen of horse urine when he asks for water and just generally beating up on Jaime. Jaime is just a mud and horse urine soaked mess. Later, when they’re camped for the night, Brienne points out to Jaime that the reason her family’s home is called the Sapphire Isles isn’t because they have a lot of sapphires, but because of the color of the water. Jaime lied to save her, and she wants to know why. Jaime just looks constipated. I don’t think he really knows why he decided to save Brienne.

Also on the gruesome side (and inspiring the title of the episode), the Night’s Watch are back at Craster’s place following the devastating battle with the Wildlings, and as we learned in the last episode, Sam’s lady friend Gilly has had her baby. It’s a boy, which means he’s going to be a sacrifice. Granted, it’s not much of a life for any of the babies born at Craster’s Keep. Boys are sacrificed to the White Walkers, and girls are raped by their father to make more babies. The rest of the Night’s Watch ruffians are rebelling at the idea of continuing to have to work in the hell hole that is Craster’s Keep. Eventually the unhappiness comes to a boil when one of the Night’s Watch calls Craster a bastard. Craster is killed in the fighting (it’s about time), but so is Lord Commander Mormont. The Lord Commander seemed like an overall decent guy, so that made me a bit sad. In the midst of all the fighting, Sam grabs Gilly and the baby, and they go on the run. Because that will end well.

Most of the substance of this episode takes place in King’s Landing. There’s all sorts of scheming going on with the usual suspects, as one would expect in King’s Landing. One of the more interesting bits of exposition dialogue (kind of crazy that we’re still doing this in Season 3, right?) was between Varys and Tyrion. Varys basically tells Tyrion the story of how he became a eunuch. A sorcerer used Varys’ genitals to commune with the gods, essentially, and left Varys for dead. Varys survived, however, and vowed revenge on the sorcerer who mutilated him. While telling this story, Varys is opening a crate. Eventually, the crate is completely open to reveal the sorcerer, and his mouth is sewn shut. Varys will have his revenge after all. I think Varys is trying to make a point to Tyrion about finding the person who set him up to be killed at the Battle of Blackwater.

Varys’ information network never fails him, and he’s recently uncovered a rather juicy tidbit. For his voyage up to the Eyrie, presumably to court Lysa Arryn, Littlefinger has requested two featherbeds on the boat he has chartered. Varys thinks this means that Littlefinger intends to take Sansa with him. Varys discusses this with Lady Olenna out in the gardens. Varys wants to prevent Littlefinger from going from humble beginnings to potential Lord of both the Vale and the North (if he marries Sansa), and Lady Olenna is most definitely on the same page. The plan they concoct is put into action by Margaery, who goes on a walk with Sansa and mentions that perhaps Sansa could marry her brother, Loras. Sansa’s had a crush on Loras (aka the “Lord of the Flowers”) since season 1, and she apparently has no gaydar to speak of, so she is tearfully happy at this suggestion.

The Lannisters aren’t experiencing nearly as much success in their own King’s Landing scheming. Cersei, Joffrey, and Margaery are checking out the Sept of Baelor, where Joffrey and Margaery are to be married. Margaery pulls Joffrey away from the entourage and encourages him to make a beauty pageant-esque waving appearance at the door of the Sept. The people gathered outside all scream out for Margaery, but Margaery convinces Joffrey that all the cheering is for him. Cersei doesn’t like Margaery to begin with, and this incident only cements her bad opinion. She takes a meeting with Tywin and tries to convince him that she’s the sibling he should be entrusting with his most sensitive secrets, not Jaime or Tyrion. Tywin has quite a different opinion of Cersei’s intelligence, and I think he might be right. She may be ruthless, but I don’t think she’s especially smart.

Before we get to the awesomeness that was the final Daenerys scene, let’s take a brief moment to talk about what’s up with Arya. Arya, Gendry, and the Hound are all blindfolded as they are taken to the Brotherhood Without Banners hideout. When the blindfolds are taken off, they learn that the leader of the Brotherhood is none other than Beric Dondarrion. He’s the guy Ned sent back in late Season 1 to kill The Mountain when the Mountain was destroying Riverrun for the Lannisters. The Hound says that his brother, not he, is responsible for all the destruction, but Arya chimes in that the Hound did indeed kill her friend the Butcher’s boy after that play swordfighting incident back on the Kingsroad in Season 1. That’s enough for Dondarrion, who decrees that the Hound will undergo trial by combat for the murder of the butcher’s boy. Oh, and in other (adopted) Stark news, Theon’s having a very bad day. The guy who claimed he worked for Theon’s sister actually brings him right back to the original torture chamber. Sucks to be Theon. Theon does have a good quote about how his “real” father was Ned Stark, though. Too little, too late. Theon’s still an ass.

We finish the episode across the Shivering Sea in Astapor, where Daenerys is completing the transaction to take possession of the Unsullied. She hands over her largest dragon to the slavemaster, and the slavemaster seems to have some trouble controlling it. The slavemaster declares that the Unsullied now belong to Daenerys, and that is all she needs to do her thing. Daenerys gives a big speech, the likes of which we haven’t really seen since she was in full Khaleesi mode back in Season 1, and she tells the Unsullied to attack all their former masters. It’s chaos all over the place. Once all the Astapor slavemasters are dead, Daenerys says she wants to give the Unsullied a choice. She officially frees them, but she asks them to fight for her as free men. The Unsullied start banging their staffs against the ground in agreement. Khaleesi is back, people!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Once Upon a Time 2.19: "Lacey"

“Belle, you always brought out the best in me. And right now, I need that. So I will do everything I can to bring you back, for you and for me.”
- Mr. Gold

I have to say I wasn’t as big a fan of this episode as I was hoping to be. I was honestly hoping for a little more Emma and Neal to be honest. Then again, I’m always hoping for more of them. They had a whopping two scenes together and Neal had another sans his ex. We begin in Mr. Gold’s hop and the Charming/Gold clan is celebrating Henry’s birthday. Gold allows him to pick anything from the shop as a present and he picks a magic wand. Gold shows him how to use it but turns henry to porcelain and smashes him, citing the prophecy. Luckily it was just a very bad dream for Gold. The next morning he finds himself down at the park watching Henry and Neal practice with wooden swords. Regina stops by and is confused about what’s going on. Her confusion turns to anger when Mr. Gold explains the family connection. She’s determined to get back at him, convinced he knew in some way. He heads over to visit Belle in the hospital and she’s genuinely relieved to see him alive. He promises to help her regain her memory if she will help bring out the best in him so the Charmings will accept him into the fold. Unfortunately, Regina stops by and curses Belle with fake memories via a matchbook (much like David got his cursed memories back via the windmill in Gold’s shop last season).

In the Fairytale Land that was, Belle is newly indentured to Rumple and she’s been crying every night. He’s grumpy because he spins at night and does his best thinking then. He conjures a pillow to muffle her cries when a window somewhere shatters. A hooded man has broken in and he’ stealing a magic wand (the same one from Gold’s nightmare). The archer (it is obvious who he is) tries to shoot Rumple from his magic bow but all it does is piss Rumple off. As we know, magic comes with a price and this price is torture. And Belle is horrified at the lengths Rumple is going to just because the guy stole a wand. In fact, she’s so horrified she lets him go while Rumple is away.

Because I despise Tamara and find her and Greg’s plotline stupid, I’m going to get their story out of the way quickly. Greg shows her the videos he’s taken of magic all over town and they discuss a package that Tamara has just outside of town. That night, they meet and we find that Hook didn’t really escape. She just tied him up and stuffed him in a U-Haul truck.

Meanwhile, Emma gets clued in on the magic bean crop. She has an amusing reunion with Anton, including an explanation for his human size. She then turns on her parents when she realizes they’re growing the beans to go home. Charming says they think it will be good for the whole family to go back and fix the place up. She’s not so sure. Back at the hospital, Gold finds that Bell has disappeared and he finds the matchbook to The Rabbit Hole. He ventures there to find Belle, now going by the name Lacey, dressed somewhat slutty playing pool. He storms into Regina’s office and demands she restore Belle. Regina says she can’t and that she knows he won’t hurt her because it would ruin things with Neal. He swears he’s going to make Lacey fall in love with him or there will be hell to pay.

In an effort to get Lacey to fall for him, Gold enlists Charming as his wingman (with the promise that Gold will, for the first time ever, owe him a favor). I have to say on rewatch, this was pretty hilarious. Gold and Lacey have zero in common but Charming urges him to just ask her out. And by some weird stroke of luck she agrees. In Fairytale Land, Rumple discovers his prisoner has absconded and he goes on this big tirade that Belle probably thought he was a noble hero and deserved to be set free. She disagrees, saying she could see good in the thief’s heart. Well that just spurs Rumple to hunt the thief down and kill him. And because of her part in his escape, Belle gets to go along for the ride (and the cleanup). Back in Storybrooke, Regina finds Emma on the docks reading the story book and is still grumpy no one told her Neal is Henry’s dad. Emma retorts she was going to tell Regina but she was kind of busy avoiding death by angry queens. Emma suggests Regina stop worrying about everyone else and start focusing on herself before Henry is gone for good. Kind of a bad slip up there, Emma because now Regina is going to go snooping. That evening, when the Charmings drop off the dwarves at Granny’s, she uses magic to follow the tire tracks back to the field and easily dismantles the cloaking spell Mother Superior used. So now she’s clued in on the magic bean crop, too.

Gold’s dinner date with Lacey is anything but successful. He’s nervous as all get out, he order wrong for her and he spills his drink all over her dress. Lacey does say that she’s heard he’s kind of a bad boy but that she just doesn’t see it. Gold thinks this is a good thing and that she’ll still see the good in him like Belle does. Unfortunately, when she doesn’t come back from the bathroom he goes looking for her and finds her snogging Keith (aka the former Sherriff of Nottingham) Speaking of, as Rumple and Belle hunt down the thief, they run into the Sherriff. He wants to make a deal with Rumple. He’ll share intel on the thief if Rumple allows him some time with Belle. Rumple says she’s not for sale (he’s beginning to fall for her already) and steals the Sherriff’s tongue to make a new deal. And we now have the name of our thief; Robin Hood. So it makes quite a lot of sense why Gold is incensed with anger at the sight of his love making out with him. He’s so angry he says that he and Lacey aren’t together anymore and storms off.

For the only real scene they share together, Neal shows up at Emma’s place with Henry over his shoulder, worn out and fast asleep from a day in the park. Emma asks if Neal ever thought about going home but he says he’s spent his life running from there so it hasn’t been high on his places to visit again. He mentions they saw little August at the park and he’s a cool kid (aka eh doesn’t steal Neal’s money). So apparently he and Emma had a discussion about the watch money off screen at some point. Well I guess, if I can’t get Neal decking adult August for it, it makes sense I don’t get them sharing that moment. Emma wishes they knew what August was trying to warn them about and Neal says she’ll figure it out because she always finds what she’s looking for.

Things end up going okay for Robin Hood actually. After Rumple and Bell track him to a meet-up with a carriage, they see him heal a dying (and very pregnant) woman. Rumple shoots an arrow but doesn’t hit them. He obviously wanted to miss. So there is some good in him. When they return to the castle, Rumple even gifts Belle with a library to clean (and all the books she could ever want). He even gets a hug from her. Mr. Gold and Lacey’s ending isn’t quite as happy. She happens upon him later that evening as he’s beating the crap out of Keith with his cane. I have to say, someone really ought to take that thing away from him. She’s into the darkness he’s displaying. So maybe he has to embrace his darkness to get Belle back. Though to be honest, I wasn’t that surprised she wanted him dark when Belle wanted him light.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

HIMYM 8.21: "Romeward Bound"

“But you’re not getting married in three weeks, Ted. I am. Robin’s marrying me. Not you.”

“Romeward Bound” was a rather strange episode of HIMYM with a central plot conceit that just plain didn’t make sense. The Captain is going to Rome, and he wants Lily to come with him to continue being his art consultant. Why couldn’t she continue to be his art consultant from New York? Wouldn’t it be smart for The Captain to have someone monitoring the NYC art scene for him during the year he is away? Who knows, maybe that’s how this particular storyline will eventually resolve itself? I didn’t especially love the B story in this one, either. It involved a particularly ugly incarnation of Cartoon Barney, and it feels like it was there to potentially be the set-up for finding out at the end of the series that Barney and Robin at some point got divorced. Why oh why does the HIMYM creative team continue to sabotage Barney and Robin. The way they were written at the beginning of the series had so much potential. Anyway, all in all, this episode showed that HIMYM probably should have ended at the end of this season instead of next season. Just put it out of its misery already and stop marking time.

Early in the episode, the Captain informs Lily that he is going to Rome for a year. He wants her to come along with him to continue her work as his art consultant. Lily is taken aback by the offer. She pictures herself living the dream while Marshall languishes as a stay-at-home-dad and cheats on her with an Italian woman. She doesn’t want to tear Marshall away from her career, which she believes Marshall finds very fulfilling. Her impression seems to be confirmed when she calls Marshall to tell him about the offer, and he says he’s too busy to talk. After Lily officially turns down the offer, though, she learns that what she thought about Marshall’s job isn’t exactly the truth. By a long shot. Marshall’s law firm has tanked following the case he lost earlier this season, and he and one other guy are now the only employees. They have no cases, and Marshall spends his days doing silly things like decorating cubicles and building card houses.

When Marshall tells Lily the truth, she’s devastated, and she tells Marshall about the job offer. He actually really wants to move to Italy and be a househusband (which isn’t too farfetched, except for the moving to Italy part), so he offers to go talk to the Captain and explain the misunderstanding. Inexplicably, this strategy works to get Lily a second chance. Having your spouse call your boss about something work related seems as inappropriate as a parent calling their son or daughter’s college about a bad grade. Adults don’t need other family members to fight those types of battles. Anyway, the Captain decides to offer Lily a second chance to accept the job, and she turns him down again.

So let’s take a little break from the Aldrin-Eriksen drama and address the kind of hideous B story. Ted and Barney are enjoying drinks at MacLaren’s, as they do, when a woman Ted knows from yoga class enters the bar. She’s dressed in a massive coat, but Ted swears that she has an amazing body. Even though he’s engaged, this is just too much for Barney. He starts to go into trickster mode to try to get the woman to take her coat off. Marshall joins the group and has no trouble at all getting the woman to remove her coat. Barney then realizes that since he’s engaged, he has the same taken so not threatening or creepy power that Marshall does. Robin joins the group at some point, too, and she tries to be cool about Barney slobbering all over this girl. It doesn’t help that the woman’s name is Liddy, and she’s the wedding planner that Robin hired. Barney can barely contain his creepiness as Liddy goes through her binder of wedding stuff.

Marshall is super enthusiastic about going to Italy, to the point where he has dressed up like a character in an old Italian movie to go bum around Little Italy. He’s pretty crushed when Lily tells him that she turned down the offer again. After a little pushing from Marshall, Lily admits that the reason she turned down the offer is because she was worried she would be terrible at the job. She’s been doing a fine job as the Captain’s art consultant in New York, so I’m not quite sure why she thinks Rome would be any different. Maybe because overseas travel is involved? She does mention how she had to come home early from her college study abroad semester in Paris, and her stint living in San Francisco while she and Marshall were broken up was short lived, too. That doesn’t seem like a good reason to be totally insecure in quite this way, though. I never really saw Lily as the insecure type at all, come to think of it. She’s always been the one who is so sure of everything that she manipulates her friends’ lives to be how she thinks they should be. Anyway, the upshot of this whole conversation is that Lily and Marshall now want to move to Italy for a year after all. Clearly, per TV rules, this won’t actually happen, or if it does it will be short lived (like Robin’s time in Japan in season 4…I think).

The resolution to the B story wasn’t really much better. Ted confronts Barney about how he should be treating Robin better, and that Robin isn’t really the “cool” chick Barney thinks she is. According to Ted, seeing Barney hit on or ogle other women really does bother Robin. Barney doesn’t believe this, or at least he doesn’t want to believe it, and the argument gets really hurtful. As you can see from the quote of the episode above, Barney decides to throw winning Robin’s heart in Ted’s face. He basically says that he knows Robin better than Ted does (and he knows she’s cool) because he’s the one actually marrying her. This gets an understandably frosty reception from Ted. Unfortunately for Barney, though, I think Ted’s right. The shell of a Robin on television now most definitely is not cool with Barney’s shenanigans. The Robin I thought I knew from the earlier seasons would have indeed been cool with it, though. I miss the old Robin.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.03: "Walk of Punishment"

“Yes. All men must die. But we are not men.”

Despite its title and the fact that all episodes of this show have to have at least some seriousness and violence, I think “Walk of Punishment” is quite possibly the funniest episode of “Game of Thrones” that has aired to date. The humor wasn’t “stupid” humor. It wasn’t pratfalls and poop jokes. Instead it was gallows humor and humorous situations that arose from a deep understanding of the characters. The plot really didn’t advance at all in this episode, but it was an enjoyable watch anyway, just because the character interactions were so compelling. Now I generally tend to like a bit more plotting than your average HBO drama, in the sense that I like individual episodes to hold up on their own in service of an arc as opposed to the full-on “television season as novel” concept that HBO so embraces. This, however, was the exception to the rule. The humor punctuated by the occasional shocking moment (well, one especially shocking moment at the very end of the episode) kept me engaged for the whole hour.

The gallows humor kicks in right at the beginning of the episode, as it is the funeral of Cat’s father, Lord Hoster Tully. Since the Tullys rule Riverrun, where there is plenty of water, their funeral custom is to do the Viking-style burning boat on the river. The problem is that Cat’s older brother, who is now supposed to be Lord of Riverrun, is a really bad shot. He tries to shoot a burning arrow at the boat three times, and he misses each time. Finally, Cat’s uncle, the Blackfish, pushes his nephew away and makes the shot himself, perfectly on the first try. The awkwardness of the whole thing was kind of hilarious, in a darkly comedic way. Cat is, however, understandably devastated by the loss of her father. It hits her that she may never return to Bran and Rickon, either. In other more humorous Stark news, there’s an amusing scene where Talisa basically manages to convince a teen Lannister that the Starks have captive that Robb is a werewolf. That scene made me warm up to Talisa a bit. I was kind of ambivalent towards her until that point.

There are also entertaining happenings taking place in King’s Landing. Littlefinger is headed for the Vale, with instructions to marry Lysa Arryn and bring her into the Lannister fold (even though she’s a Tully). This means that the Crown is in need of a new Master of Coin, and Tywin thinks that Tyrion is the right man for the job. The Small Council meeting where this is decided is also pretty entertaining, where Tyrion and Cersei try to exert power over one another through where they move their chairs. There’s also a funny vignette where Bronn and Tyrion take Tyrion’s squire to a whorehouse to thank him for his loyal service. The squire spends his time with the whores, but afterwards, he returns the money to Tyrion. Tyrion and Bronn then desperately want to know what the squire did to please the whores so much that they didn’t demand payment, especially considering the squire was a virgin before that particular experience.

The characters who are currently captured by people on the road, Arya, Brienne, and Jaime, all had elements of humor to their plots, although Brienne and Jaime’s was more serious and contained the biggest shock of the episode. Arya and Gendry split from Hot Pie when Hot Pie decides he wants to remain at the inn to bake brown bread for a living. He bakes a wolf-shaped loaf of bread for Arya, which is kind of adorable. She tells him that it tastes good as she rides away from the inn. Brienne and Jaime spend their time on the road talking about how Brienne is probably going to be raped multiple times that night. This scene has some lightness to it despite its serious subject, because Brienne can’t believe that Jaime is telling her to just consent to a vicious assault. She is incredulous that Jaime would just consent instead of fighting to the death to avoid that indignity. He corrects her. He’s happy he’s not a woman because he most definitely wouldn’t consent. The mood gets more serious when night falls, and their captors make it very clear that they do intend to sequentially rape Brienne. They even take her behind some trees so their leader can have at her first. Jaime tries to use his (limited) intellect to save Brienne, reminding the leader that Brienne comes from a rich family who would pay good money to see her unharmed. Brienne is indeed saved, but it comes as a price. The leader cuts of Jaime’s hand. His sword hand. Considering his identity is so tied to his swordfighting prowess, watching where Jaime goes from here should be interesting for sure.

And of course, since we didn’t see her last week, we get to see the next bit of Daenery’s story. When we last saw her, she was contemplating whether she wanted to buy the Unsullied to serve as her army to take back the Iron Throne for the Targaryens. Ser Jorrah and Ser Barristan are both trying to give her advice, each trying to one-up the other, even though they pretty much agree. They take walk down the Walk of Punished where disobedient slaves are, well…punished. Daenerys is absolutely horrified at the sight. The slave who has been serving as translator to the slavemater with whom she is negotiating doesn’t seem to bothered by it, though. Her attitude seems to basically be that the punished slaves had it coming because they probably lied or worse. Anyway, seeing the Walk of Punishment makes Daenerys go all Manifest Destiny and think that she should buy the Unsullied because she would treat them better than any of the natives of this land. She tells the slavemaster that she wants to buy all the Unsullied, and he scoffs at the idea that she would have that much money. She offers to throw in one of her dragons, and he accepts the offer. Will the Mother of Dragons really give up one of her “babies?” And also, the slavemaster wanted her ship as part of the payment. So even if she gets her army, how the heck is Dany supposed to get to Westeros? It doesn’t seem like she really thought this through (although I will probably be proven wrong in the next episode).

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nashville 1.17: "My Heart Would Know"

“You know what? Rayna is not my family. And let me tell you something. She ain't yours either!” “Yes she is.”
-Juliette and Deacon

“My Heart Would Know” was a highly soapy, but rather sedate, episode of Nashville. There were some big reveals, but other than some ranting from Lamar, nothing really rocked the boat all that much. I think what was most enjoyable about this episode was the deepening of the relationship between Rayna and Deacon. Sure, their relationship was already very deep given their long history, but I think this episode did a better job than most at really conveying that. Nevermind the fact that Deacon is still with Stacey the vet at the end of the episode. I don’t think that will be lasting much longer. Surprisingly, the one thing I really didn’t like in this episode was the Gunnar and Scarlett plot. Maybe because we haven’t had a real Gunnar and Scarlett song since Jason died. Their gorgeous music is really the thing that makes this show for me. Instead, Gunnar is still inexplicably excluded from the Edgehill record deal. I appreciate that he’s not a jealous bastard like Avery, but I don’t like Gunnar and Scarlett being in such a strange place. I want to hear their beautiful music again.

This episode mostly centers around the fallout of Lamar’s health crisis from the end of the last episode. It turns out that he has had a heart attack, and he’s in the hospital. Rayna gets the news late at night, and she stops by Juliette’s room while Juliette is in flagrante with Dante to tell her that she needs to go back to Nashville for a little while. I think Rayna just assumes that the Red Lips/White Lies tour will take a little break, but Juliette, egged on by Dante, has other ideas. She wants to turn the dates Rayna has to cancel into the 100% Juliette Barnes show. This means that Deacon needs to teach the band ten new songs in the space of an afternoon, which makes everyone very, very unhappy. Deacon tries to convey this to Juliette, but she doesn’t take it well at all. She accuses Deacon of not having her back like Dante does. Which shows just how skewed Juliette’s perception has become.

When Rayna gets the news about Lamar’s heart attack, she rushes home in Juliette’s jet (which was actually a nice gesture) and goes right to the hospital. She keeps trying to justify her strong reaction by saying how upset her daughters are about their grandpa being in the hospital. As much as she doesn’t want to admit it, I think Rayna does still care about her dad. He’s her dad, after all, even if he is kind of a scheming asshole. Watty shows up at the hospital to support Rayna, and when Lamar sees him, he starts throwing a fit, and Tandy has to walk him back into his room so he doesn’t have another heart attack. Rayna asks for an explanation from Watty, and she’s not really prepared for what she gets. Early in the season, we learned that Rayna’s mom had a “musician friend” who was pretty much a constant affair while she was married to Lamar. That musician friend was Watty, which explains why he’s taken such a special interest in Rayna’s career over the years. And we have our first really soapy moment of the episode. Another comes when some digging by Tandy uncovers that Peggy is the one who leaked news of Rayna and Teddy’s divorce to the tabloids.

Meanwhile, Avery heads out to New York to hook up with the Red Lips/White Lies tour as a roadie. Deacon is kind of surprised to see him there, but he knows Avery is talented, so he goes with it. Avery, though, makes the mistake of going into Juliette’s trailer when looking for some equipment, and catches Juliette and Dante having sex (again). Juliette doesn’t see Avery there, but Dante does, and he’s not happy about it. Later, when Dante and Avery are alone, Dante takes it upon himself to fire Avery. Avery reaches out to Deacon and tells Deacon what he saw, and Deacon is incensed. Deacon tells Avery to go back to work and confronts Juliette. Juliette just keeps accusing Deacon of not having her back. Meanwhile, Jolene tries to make a move on Dante, too. Like mother, like daughter, I guess? Juliette catches Jolene trying to make a move and goes completely crazy. By the end of the episode, she feels kind of bad, so she offers to send Jolene home to Nashville (which Jolene had asked for). Jolene’s going to have a new sober companion, though, because Juliette wants to hire Dante as her manager. Because that will end well.

The Gunnar and Scarlett plot, as I already mentioned, was probably the least satisfying part of this episode. Gunnar and Scarlett are together and happy, but everything is just plain off with them. I’m not saying I want them to break up, because I don’t want anything jeopardizing their gorgeous music. I want making that wonderful music. Anyway, Scarlett’s going ahead with the solo record deal, even though it makes no sense that Edgehill wouldn’t give Gunnar a second chance given the circumstances. Gunnar’s just being mopey and refusing to even try writing. Scarlett suggests that they hang out with Will a bit, hoping that maybe he can inject a little life in Gunnar. The three have a nice evening together singing karaoke. Scarlett and Will give a high energy performance, and I’m seeing the neon signs saying Gunnar might get cheated on soon. Scarlett’s drunk and has a meeting at Edgehill the next day, so Gunnar and Will take her home and continue the party with just the two of them. This results in Will driving his truck over the train tracks, playing chicken with the trains. For some reason I don’t quite understand (because it seems like a really dumb move), this reinvigorates Gunnar and he starts writing again. Maybe Gunnar will be the one cheating with Will?

Rayna leaves Deacon a rather despondent voice mail for Deacon from the hospital. Deacon doesn’t respond at first, but when he’s fighting with Juliette, he changes his mind. Deacon tells Juliette that the concerts should have been cancelled until Rayna gets back, and Juliette lashes out by saying that Rayna isn’t Deacon’s family. In what was one of my favorite moments of the episode, Deacon, in a shaky voice, says “she is” before leaving. The next best moment is when Deacon shows up at the hospital to comfort an exhausted Rayna. Deacon and Rayna just have such great chemistry that it’s always a pleasure to see them together. Their conversation reveals that they have known each other since they were teens, and I appreciated learning more about their history. Deacon eventually has to go home to Stacey, and while he seems happy-ish to see her again, it’s pretty clear that it’s not going to last much longer.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Girl 2.22: "Bachelorette Party"

“CeCe, you’ve wanted a bachelorette party since I’ve known you. Why do you have to pretend to be someone you’re not? I’m just saying this is all moving really, really fast. And maybe you need to get to know Shivrang and maybe you need to slow this down so he can get to know you.”
- Jess

So we are winding down on season 2 of “New Girl” (only 3 episodes left). As the episode title implies, this week deals with the impending nuptials between CeCe and Shivrang. Jess is hanging out in the kitchen when Nick walks out in a god awful orange/yellow track suit that belonged to his dad. Everyone pretty much tells Nick the outfit is atrocious but Nick is claiming he has a “dead dad pass”. Yeah that’s not a real thing, Miller. Anyway, after the roommates comment on his attire, Winston hands out wedding invitations (why he’s made them I have no idea). Schmidt is upset because he doesn’t have a plus one on his invite. Jess begins freaking out because CeCe hasn’t had a bachelorette party yet and the wedding is three weeks away. So she decides to throw a surprise party and tasks Nick and Winston with kidnapping Shivrang so she can get CeCe alone.

Apparently CeCe’s dream was to have a really raunchy bachelorette party (strippers, thongs and penis-shaped balloons). Over at CeCe’s, she’s doing some last-minute wedding prep while Shivrang’s grandma and aunt sit watching (they came all the way from India). It is totally awkward and CeCe is kind of panicking. Shivrang is pretty excited that pretty soon they can actually hook up. Cue angry Schmidt entrance. He demands to know why he was not given a plus one and CeCe explains that it is for spouses and serious partners only. Schmidt takes this as a challenge to find a serious relationship in three weeks. Good luck with that.

That evening, Jess has gathered some of CeCe’s model friends and a few other people (Jess’ uber pregnant lesbian gynecologist included) for the surprise raunch-fest. CeCe is on her way up (she believes she’s just borrowing a CD from Jess) when Shivrang’s aunt wants to tag along. This is so going to be awkward and weird. And it leaves Shivrang victim to Nick and Winston’s kidnapping efforts. As predicted, CeCe walking in on the party is awkward as soon as pin the dong on the Shivrang gets whipped out (pun intended). CeCe begs them to keep it G rated so Shivrang’s aunt doesn’t get offended. But the ladies at the party find this rather boring. Plus CeCe has never seen his penis. So Jess tasks the boys with getting a picture so at least she knows what she’s getting.

At the bar, Nick is trying to use his “dead dad pass” for the whole penis picture thing until Jess says he can come home as soon as it is mission accomplished. And for some reason, Winston is being really creepy and violent. I noticed that the last few episodes and can’t really figure out what the writers are trying to do with his character. Their first attempt is just really pathetic. And then Schmidt shows up to gripe about how the women he’s slept with in the past turn him down for a serious relationship. Then Nick suggests his college girlfriend, Elizabeth. Schmidt is hesitant to go there because it was back when he was overweight but he’ll give it a go. Nick’s next idea is to tell Shivrang that it is traditional at American bachelor parties to take photos of one’s junk. Yeah that doesn’t work so well.

Back at the loft, Jess is trying to put a tasteful spin on the slideshow of naughty CeCe pics she put together when Shivrang’s aunt gets offended and asks CeCe if this the kind of wife she wants to be. CeCe says that the party was a surprise and that she didn’t want any of it. Jess rightfully calls CeCe out on her bullshit, telling that maybe they need to slow down and get to know each other before diving headlong into a relationship forever. CeCe is sticking to her guns though. She and Jess get into a shouting match that is interrupted by the stripper Jess got (this one at least was better than the time she tried to get one for Schmidt’s birthday).

Nick and Winston end up being sort of honest with Shivrang about what they’re trying to do. This prompts Shivrang to rush off back to CeCe to talk to her. Unfortunately, Winston sends the picture Nick took of his own penis to Jess and the girls at the party are kind of freaking out about it. Shivrang’s aunt demands to see Jess’s phone with the picture and things actually get a little less tense between them. She says that women cry for days over not having seen their future hubby’s goods. That is a little weird.

Meanwhile, Schmidt has tracked down his college girlfriend. He begs her to go to the wedding with him to get CeCe back and she declines. She says she loved him when he was fat but then he got skinny and he got mean and she doesn’t want anything to do with him. Good for her. He can be a douche. Back at the loft, Shivrang’s aunt is sharing finding her hubby’s privates for the first time and it seems everyone is bonding. Things get a little awkward when Winston, Nick and Shivrang so how and the girls learn it was Nick’s penis in the photo and Nick and Jess go off fighting over her phone. CeCe admits that maybe things are moving a little fast but that maybe a leap of faith is what they need. Schmidt even admits he doesn’t want a plus one and that he’s happy for CeCe. And perhaps most important of all, despite it not fitting in with Indian wedding tradition, CeCe makes Jess her maid of honor.

And in the weirdest coda we’ve had in a while, Schmidt ends up back at Elizabeth’s place with three pizzas and ends up eating a bunch and dancing to make her happy. Yeah that’s just really bizarre. I kind of hope he doesn’t bring her to the wedding after all.

Revolution 1.13: "The Song Remains the Same"

"Give power to everyone? To Georgia? California? Texas? Oh, God, Texas! What do you think they're gonna do with it?"

I feel like, with “The Song Remains the Same,” we’re finally out of the transition phase, and the next plot arc of “Revolution” is moving forward full speed ahead. Neville is out of the good graces of Monroe, seemingly for good, Rachel’s got a new mission, and from the looks of the teaser for the next episode, the rest of the gang will soon be on their way to Georgia. This episode mostly focused on Neville, which was a welcome change, since Giancarlo Esposito is always fantastic. He got to show quite a range of emotions in this episode as Monroe sends him on a mission that is one last chance to show his loyalty. He also proves that he is most definitely still a badass. To top all that off, we even get some more detail about what exactly caused the power to go out. The explanation was a little silly, but it wasn’t as silly as the glowy island pool of specialness in “Lost,” so I’ll take it.

This episode begins in Philadelphia, when Neville gets called into a meeting with Monroe and Randall. Neville clearly resents that Randall has been moving in on his role as Monroe’s right hand man. I don’t think Monroe’s worth it, personally. He’s an unstable guy with a lot of firepower. I’d stay far, far away. Anyway, Monroe has a mission for Neville. He needs to take some diamonds south and exchange them for something important. Monroe (and Randall, even though it isn’t really his place) makes it clear that this is Neville’s last chance. If he doesn’t succeed in this mission, he’s done. Neville’s wife, Julia, is really pissed off about this turn of events. I think she’s just fed up with the Monroe neuroses in general. She’s not happy that she has to pretend her son is dead (to cover up for Jason’s desertion), and she’s not happy that her husband is leaving on yet another Monroe wild goose chase.

We next head to (presumably) Maryland, where Miles and Jim are training up the rest of the rebels in the art of badass swordfighting. Charlie especially seems to be getting the hang of it. The practice session is short lived, though, because Jim’s spies have bad news. There’s a convoy headed down I-95. Nevermind that I-95 doesn’t go directly to Annapolis. As a resident of Annapolis who is originally from the Philadelphia metro area, I have made that drive many times, and actually, I usually prefer to drive up the Eastern Shore instead. Guess the Bay Bridge probably isn’t in any shape to drive over post-apocalypse, though. The rebels send out a strike team to intercept the convoy.

The convoy in question is being headed up by Neville, of course. There’s a very “Lost”-like scene where an explosion goes off and sends Neville’s Hummer flying. He emerges from the wreckage, understandably quite dazed, just to be surrounded by Charlie, Miles, and a bunch of rebels. In a very Ana Lucia-like move, Charlie knocks Neville out and drags him back to the rebel camp. Things become more complicated when Jason shows up at the camp too. He’s been with the rebels, and his team gets back to headquarters just in time to hear the news about Neville. Miles makes it abundantly clear that Jason is not getting anywhere near his father. Charlie delivers another pendant to Rachel, who is really out of sorts as she prepares the acid to destroy it.

It turns out that Jason isn’t really the one the rebels need to worry about when it comes to Neville. It’s Rachel. Rachel really, really wants to kill Neville to get revenge for all the hardship he has caused her family. It’s kind of understandable, really. He killed her husband, and he started the series of events (with Danny’s kidnapping) that eventually led to the death of her son. Charlie finds her in front of the door to Neville’s cell, about to break in and kill him. Rachel wants to kill Neville before Neville has a chance to escape, but Charlie manages to stop her. Charlie tries to convince Rachel that Neville won’t be able to hurt anyone anymore. Oh how wrong she would be.

It’s Jason who is able to crack the case, so to speak, for the rebels. He goes into the cell to talk to Neville, and Neville starts talking about how this is his last chance with Monroe, and Jason’s mother is going to be in danger if the mission doesn’t succeed. Jason starts unlocking Neville’s shackles, and he tells Neville that he wants to help, and he needs to know what the plan is. Neville mentions a cement factory in Philadelphia just as Jason opens the cell door to reveal Miles and a posse of rebels. So Jason is on the side of the rebels after all. It would probably be best if the rebels could have intercepted the transaction Neville was originally going to make, but Randall has already done that. Monroe sent him to clean up Neville’s mess. So the rebels head up to Philadelphia to try and intercept the weapons there at the cement factory. Once all the heavy hitters have left rebel HQ, Neville is able to escape from his cell (through a helpfully left behind nail and a crazy murder spree) and make his own way back to Philadelphia. Smooth move, rebels. When he gets to Philadelphia, Neville heads right for home and tells his wife that they need to get out of town pronto.

At the cement factory, there’s a bit of a militia/rebel skirmish. The rebels win the battle, but not without taking a few casualties and letting Randall escape. A search of the facility uncovers that the militia bought nukes with those diamonds Neville had been transporting. Rachel realizes that this has all gone too far, and she needs to put a stop to the militia once and for all in the only way she knows how. The reason the power is out is because billions of electricity eating nanobots were released into the atmosphere. These bots are controlled by some sort of tower, and Rachel needs to go to the tower and figure out what went wrong on the day that the power went out. Aaron is going to go with her. Rachel knows the mission is dangerous and doesn’t really expect to return. She and Charlie have a heart to heart about the whole thing, where at least Rachel was honest about why she was leaving this time. Rachel’s separation from Miles seems even more difficult and implies that they once had a romantic relationship. Which is really just skeevy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Game of Thrones 3.02: "Dark Wings, Dark Words"

“The subtleties of politics are often lost on me.”

“Dark Wings, Dark Words” was another rather disjointed episode of “Game of Thrones,” but if I focused on that too much, you’d never read about anything else in my “Game of Thrones” posts. I still think that the show could have benefitted from a more focused approach, even if the current structure more closely mirrors the books, but I can only say that so many times. I will say, however, that this episode, like the season premiere, did not try to attempt every single character’s story, although it did focus on many of them. Daenerys, for example, didn’t make an appearance in this one. There were to central themes that I saw running through the episode. There was a focus on the women (minus Dany), all of whom are very independent and have varying levels of success in exercising that independence. Also, the Stark men were (as per usual) all having a pretty horrible day. When aren’t the Stark men having a bad day, really? If there’s one theme that has been present throughout the series, it’s that the Starks are all kind of screwed.

Of the plots centered on the women of Westeros, I enjoyed the happenings in King’s landing the most. Sansa, Margaery, and Margarey’s grandmother, Lady Olenna Redwyne get into some serious scheming, and it’s a lot of fun. Margaery is really Lady Olenna’s protégé in the scheming, and I think that between the two of them, Joffrey has no idea at all what he’s in for. He’s just too busy being turned on by Margaery messing around with a cross bow. Margaery clearly has an agenda. My favorite scene is when Margaery and Lady Olenna invite Sansa for lunch so they can grill her about Joffrey. At first, Sansa gives all the proper responses about how Joffrey is handsome and brave, but gradually they pry the truth out of her. Sansa talks about how Joffrey made her look at Ned’s head on a pike, and she calls him a monster. Margaery and Lady Olenna’s reaction was a calm and collected “well I guess now we know what we’re working with.” Also in King’s Landing, Shae works to protect Sansa, both from Littlefinger and Joffrey. There’s a funny conversation between Shae and Tyrion where Shae tells Tyrion about Ros’ warning and realizes that Tyrion once slept with Ros.

Other women having a rougher time of it in this episode are Cersei, Cat, Brienne, and Arya. Especially Arya. Cersei just continues to be generally undermined by Joffrey. Nothing especially new going on there. Cat is in a particularly bad way. She’s still a prisoner of her son, doesn’t especially like her new daughter-in-law, and she gets word that not only did her father just die, but Bran and Rickon are missing following the fall of Winterfell. She and Talisa have an interesting conversation about how she once prayed to the Seven that if they healed Jon Snow, she would be a mother to him, and she broke her promise. Brienne is still trying to take Jaime to King’s Landing, and the run into some rough characters on the road. Leading up to this, Jaime had been needling Brienne at every opportunity. He escapes out of his chains just before they are attacked, and the episode ends before we see the outcome of the attack. Arya is with Gendry and Hot Pie on the road as well. They stop at a tavern because some shady characters from the Brotherhood Without Banners has found them. Just as they’re about to escape from the tavern, the Hound is brought in and recognizes Arya. That can’t possibly end well.

As I said earlier, the Stark men area ll having a pretty bad time of it, too. One interesting thing that comes of the plots involving several of the Stark men is that we are introduced to the concept of the Warg. If you’re a good nerd like we are here at MTVP, you probably at least recognize the name “warg” from Lord of the Rings.” They’re big wolf-like mean critters that show up to make the heroes’ lives miserable in “The Two Towers.” Wargs in this universe are quite different, though. We first learn about them from Jon Snow’s perspective. He’s still trecking about north of the Wall with the Wildlings, and one of the Wildlings is a warg. Wargs in this universe are people who can inhabit the consciousness of the animals around them. And as we will learn through the course of this episode, they make all of Brans’ strange dreams in the past two seasons suddenly make sense.

Bran is still on the run out in the woods with Osha (and presumably Rickon is too, although I don’t recall seeing him in this episode). In the woods, they encounter Jojen and Meera Reed. Jojen and Meera appear fairly threatening at the beginning. It doesn’t help that Meera keeps a knife at Osha’s throat. As they travel along the road, Jojen and Meera imply that they know something secret about Bran that even bran doesn’t know. They ask him about his dreams where he sees from Summer’s (his direwolf) point of view or the point of view of the three-eyed raven. It turns out that Bran has these dreams because he, too, is a warg. These dreams are him seeing what the animals are seeing. I was glad to see that all the strange dream sequences actually had a point. I had thought they were a sort of artistic indulgence. I think that this revelation (well at least I hope) portends interesting developments for Bran’s character down the road. And those of you who have read all the books (I’m about 1/3 of the way through the second) are probably laughing at me right now.

The final Stark man having a really bad day (I consider him a Stark man since he was mostly raised by the Starks) is Theon. He has been captured by some nasty folks following the fall of Winterfell, and he is being tortured pretty intensely. His torturers want to know why he took Winterfell and betrayed the Starks, and they don’t believe him when he tells the truth (basically his daddy issues). The torture takes a pause, but it’s pretty obvious that it is intended to continue. When the torture is done for the day, a seemingly helpful servant approaches Theon. The servant says that he has been sent by Theon’s sister, and he will help Theon escape. The escape can’t happen just yet, though, and Theon screams as the servant leaves him alone on the torture rack.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Girl 2.21: "First Date"

“I would describe that as the Pledge of Allegiance. Which can be sexual.”

“First Date” was a rather frustrating episode of “New Girl.” I can appreciate that it was the deployment of a rather creative delay tactic to hold off on a Nick and Jess relationship just a little longer, presumably until the season finale. The road blocks are no longer other relationships but their own fears. I guess in a way, this is a welcome change. I was getting tired of the news stories about guest stars with limited episode arcs that were so obviously road blocks. This new paradigm is still really frustrating, though. I’ve been in the awkward land of the pseudodate, and it never worked out well, which I guess is why I find this especially maddening. Here’s a situation that could be resolved positively if Nick and Jess would just be honest and communicate. Instead, they keep backing away.

As we’ve seen in the past few episodes, the awkwardness and unresolved tension between Jess and Nick have been increasing steadily, and things have finally reached something of a breaking point. The breaking point happens to be Nick touching the top of Jess’ boob. Yeah. Those two aren’t exactly sophisticated. Jess consults Cece about what to do next, and Nick consults his quiet older Asian friend, Tran. In what is essentially a conversation with himself (since Tran doesn’t say anything), Nick becomes convinced that asking Jess out on a date would be a good idea. He’s got this whole forceful speech planned, but when he goes to actually ask Jess, she’s in a towel post-shower, and he can’t really form words all that easily. He does manage to ask Jess if she wants to go get some dinner, and thus we dive into the awkward world of the pseudodate. Jess thinks this is just a casual dinner and expects that they’ll be eating from the hot dog cart. Nick, however, is all dressed up and wants to go to a fancy restaurant.

Meanwhile, Schmidt and Winston can sense that something is up. They’re surprised that Nick is getting all spruced up for a date, but he won’t tell them anything about the lucky lady. Eventually, they figure out that this means he must be going out with Jess. They’re worried that a Jess/Nick relationship would disrupt the equilibrium of the loft, so they really want to sabotage the date. There’s a little side thread here where we learn that Nick is the glue that holds the Nick/Winston/Schmidt trio together. Without Nick, there is just silence and awkwardness. Which I’m not entirely sure fits with continuity given Winston and Schmidt’s recent Lionfish adventures, but I guess I’ll go with it for the sake of this episode.

The Schmidt/Winston B story in this episode kind of was an afterthought, really. In order to formulate their plan for sabotage, Schmidt asks Winston to remember his worst date ever so that they can try to recreate it for Nick and Jess. Winston remembers some really, really bad tableside singing, so they decide to recruit a local homeless guy to sing. The homeless guy agrees to sing in exchange for a sandwich, and when Schmidt and Winston bring him up to the loft for payment, the homeless guy goes into their bathroom and won’t come out. He’s eating Schmidt’s expensive product, and Schmidt is freaking out. Winston’s cell phone is dead and the communal loft charger is in the bathroom with the homeless guy, though, so they can’t call for help. Eventually, Schmidt decides to try climbing in through the skylight, and Winston has to break the door down to save him from the homeless guy trying to shave his legs. After that, Winston and Schmidt are best friends independent of Nick. I think the episode would have been funnier had Winston and Schmidt been at all successful in their sabotage attempt. It seems like a good idea that didn’t quite get off the ground.

As predicted, Nick and Jess’ pseudodate is just an awkward mess. They keep asking each other throughout the whole thing if it’s a date, and they keep changing the answer. First when they’re at the restaurant, Jess’ ex Russell and his date make an appearance. This prompts Jess and Nick to decide they just want to go to the bar and drink as friends. There, they talk about their turn-ons and decide they want this to be a date after all. They go back to the restaurant, rather trashed this time, and Russell and his date are still there. Russell mocks Jess and Nick for not really being able to define their relationship. He challenges them to each write on a piece of paper how they feel about the other. When Russell and his date see what Jess and Nick wrote, they get awkward and suggest that maybe the idea wasn’t such a good one. This makes Jess and Nick think that they really are on different pages, and they each refuse to tell the other how they feel. I wonder if they really did write different things, or if Russell was just trying to mess with them because he doesn’t want to see Jess with someone else. Either way, it was kind of frustrating. Through the whole episode, I kept wanting to yell at Nick for just generally being an idiot.

Nick and Jess eventually end up back at the loft, with relationship status still undetermined. At this point, I was still mentally yelling at Nick for being a freaking idiot and not just going for it. Then he gargled a beer, which was one of the things Jess mentioned was a turn-on. Kinda gross, but I was happy that Nick was still trying to make a move. They end up “close talking” good night to each other and that is that. I can’t really see the creative team dragging this out for much longer. We’ve seen multiple road block relationships for both Nick and Jess, and the thing that is keeping them apart at this point is really just their own fear. I’m guessing this will all finally be resolved next month in the season finale. Here’s hoping!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Person of Interest 2.19: "Trojan Horse"

“If the agency taught me one thing, it’s that the best spy is the one you’d never suspect.”
- Reese

We begin this week with the Machine picking up chatter about a man named Jason Lee being dead an executive digging into things. We cut to Finch playing chess with Elias and Elias does something rather interesting. He removes pieces from his own side and adds a few to Finch’s to simulate the power struggle currently going on. I have to say I do enjoy Elias. The HR storyline is getting old but Elias always brings little interesting tidbits. They part company and Finch gets a number. He lets Reese know (who is out in the woods observing an older couple). Finch has gotten himself a cover ID as a new IT guy at the tech company where this week’s POI, Monica Jacobs, works as a high level executive. Things look pretty calm (relatively speaking) on this front.

We cut to the precinct where Carter and Detective Turner are chatting about the Shamanski shooting. She wants to be kept in the loop on the investigation. She’s still suspicious of Beecher. Speaking of, he shows up and when he won’t tell her the name of his CI that got Shamanski killed, she just brushes him off. Lionel offers to look into things for her. I really hope he can tell Carter his history soon so they are completely honest with each other. There needs to be someone other than the viewer who can appreciate his transformation. He corners Beecher in the men’s room and goes all overprotective partner for Carter. He says that by Beecher keeping mum it makes him look involved and dirty.

That evening, Finch follows Monica into the R&D floor and sees her copying files and sneaking around. Definitely some shady business going down there. Reese reminds Finch that even though he may like her (he was totally geek crushing out earlier), she may be a spy. He has to cut his end of the conversation short because our not-so-dead Agent Shaw has returned. It turns out the couple Reese has been watching are Shaw’s dead partner’s parents. She’s there to make sure Control doesn’t kill them, too. Reese figured that was the case and he’s just been waiting around to run into her. She’s not up for company though. I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll see of her.

The next morning, Finch tries to copy the files that Monica nicked the night before but he gets caught by a guy and has to lie and say he’s performing a security upgrade. Meanwhile, Monica is off on a super-secret lunch meeting. She meets Ross, the head of R&D and gives him the info she’s found on Jason Lee. Finch needs to see the encrypted emails she found on Lee’s computer so Reese does a little sleight of hand pick pocketing to nab the flash drive. Finch is quite happy to have Reese back on the case. Out near the water, Beecher meets with the head of HR to ask about where the tip about the money came from. Beecher gets the run around but we do learn he is the head of HR’s godson. If Beecher doesn’t stop digging, he may end up just like Shamanski. Things aren’t going well for Monica either. Finch watches as someone syncs Monica’s phone with calls, contacts and appointments she never made or had. Someone is setting her up and it’s enough to get her fired.

Reese tails Monica the next morning and follows her back to work. Her former assistant comes out and she starts tailing him. So it’s kind of like tail the leader. Meanwhile, Beecher pays Elias a visit and learns that Shamanski was clean and Beecher got played by HR. Unfortunately, this means that HR is now going to have to deal with him. Monica catches up with her assistant and we overhear him speaking Chinese. Reese intervenes when the assistant gets physical and manages to get himself and Monica out of harm’s way after exchanging gunfire with a rooftop shooter. Finch also discovers they’ve just picked a fight with the People’s Republic of China. Carter found that Jason Lee vanished (no body in the morgue). Oh boy. This is going to be complicated.

Speaking of complications, Shaw shows up at the library. An article was published that morning about a CIA agent dying in the line of duty to uncover a domestic terrorist plot. Not the real story of how her partner died but it’s nice. She couldn’t just say thank you though. She spots the wall dedicated to Root and takes some info on her. Apparently hunting down the crazy techie is going to be her “hobby”. At the safe house, Finch and Monica bond over trying to hack the system to find the hidden network and identify all the spies within the company. They almost break the firewall when the spies hack the computer they’re using and the battery kind of explodes. There may be another way to directly access the servers at the company. An alter comes up at the front desk showing that Monica is in the building. The security guards head off to try and find her. I saw it coming a mile away (as I’m sure most of the audience did) that they strapped the ID card to Bear’s collar and let him run around the building. Finch manages to get Bear to herd them into a contained area so Monica can access the information they need.

They hook into the serve and Finch finds all kinds of goodies. More than half the senior staff is spies and they’ve been hacking and monitoring all kinds of government agencies and banks and such. Not surprising, they’ve got operatives in the building and Reese has to take out like four of them. Finch points them to Ross’s office since that’s where all the internal messages are coming from. But, Ross isn’t a spy. He’s just dead and the real mastermind shows up; Martin (the founder of the company). Martin goes on about how there’s no use for patriotism these days and that it’s all about power. Yeah we’ve heard that before. Martin ends up committing suicide at the order of the man who recruited Stanton after the botched elimination attempt in China.

As predicted, HR uses its reach to take out Beecher. Carter’s kind of torn up about it since Lionel proved he wasn’t involved and they were supposed to get dinner that night. Meanwhile, with the FBI dismantling the company, Monica is in need of a new job and she mentions one company that looks promising. It’s obvious we are supposed to assume it’s one of Finch’s outfits so he can keep an eye on her. He’s also discovered that the majority of the information taken from the company was siphoned to a company called Decima Technologies and that it shared code with the virus Stanton uploaded. Finch is convinced the virus’s sole purpose is to find and infect the Machine. We end with the Brit who hired Stanton confirming that they are safe since the Feds are following the China connection.

Nashville 1.16: "I Saw the Light"

“They can be like anything they want. They just have to grow up first.”

This episode seemed like a brief respite before everything in the world of “Nashville” once again explodes. Gunnar and Scarlett make positive steps in their relationship, Rayna and Deacon are civil to each other, and Juliette makes career progress (even if it does stem from jealousy of Rayna). All this positive progress can’t possibly last on this show. If there’s a lesson to be taken from “I Saw the Light,” it’s that lies and evasion will rarely get you where you want to go. I guess that’s a fitting lesson considering the episode’s title. One thing that made this episode a bit different was that much of it took place in New York City. Now I do love New York, and I’m kind of craving a visit at the moment, but that’s not what I watch “Nashville” for. I watch “Nashville” to see how it depicts that particular city and its rhythms. One thing I think we can all agree on though? Lennon and Maisy Stella (Maddie and Daphne) are freaking amazing.

As I already mentioned, the bulk of this episode takes place in New York City, the latest stop on the Red Lips/White Lies tour. Rayna and Juliette are going to be playing the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, but for some reason they seem to be staying at a hotel in Times Square. Either way, there’s a massive billboard with Rayna’s face on it. Rayna and her daughters think the billboard is pretty cool, but it drives Juliette nuts. She decides that she needs to see herself on a billboard, too. It’s the way in which she decides to go about achieving that goal that is problematic. Apparently, before Dante was in the sober companion business, he was a business man, so Juliette really leans on him to make this happen, to her mother’s detriment. Juliette even convinces Dante to come to a pitch meeting with a cell phone company, and Juliette gets the deal. As I predicted several weeks ago, Juliette and Dante celebrate the success with some sex, which isn’t going to complicate Juliette’s relationship with her mother at all. Of course not.

Back in Nashville, Scarlett and Gunnar meet their new neighbor, Will. He’s rather attractive in a trying too hard to be like a cowboy kind of way, which leads me to make a new prediction. Scarlett will probably sleep with him at some point. Or at least come close to sleeping with him. Because they’re good Southern neighbors, Scarlett and Gunnar invite Will over for dinner. There’s some weirdness between Scarlett and Gunnar, though, because Scarlett got her contract from Edgehill in the mail and Gunnar saw it. Gunnar’s pissed that Scarlett didn’t tell him this was in the works, but she interprets it as jealousy (being used to Avery’s stupidity and all). Will arrives for dinner in the middle of the residual awkwardness, and he and Gunnar end up jamming outside instead of eating the dinner that Scarlett cooked. Scarlett does join in the conversation, but when she excuses herself to go to bed, Will is clued in on the awkwardness. Gunnar explains that his not being in on the recording deal was his own fault, though. Gunnar and Scarlett finally have a much needed talk where Gunnar tells Scarlett she’d better take the record deal, and all seems to be well between them for now.

Also in Nashville, Avery is being his usual sad sack self. He tries to get some publishing work out of Hayley, but after what he pulled, she doesn’t want anything to do with him. Avery can’t even get a gig at the club where he used to play regularly, because Marilyn has put out the word that Avery is to be blacklisted throughout Nashville. At his lowest point, Avery runs into J.C. Instead of engaging in some schadenfreude, J.C. has sympathy. He’s going home to Ohio himself, giving up music to go work with his dad. He wonders if Avery should possibly do the same thing. I’m wondering what ever happened with the idea that Scarlett and Gunnar could front Avery’s old band. They all sounded pretty awesome on “One Works Better.” Anyway, when Avery says he’s not ready to pack it in, J.C. gives him a tip on a roadie gig. For Juliette. Clearly some sparks are going to be flying in that direction sooner rather than later.

There is also political intrigue continuing to happen in Nashville, but I still find that to be the weakest aspect of the show. Lamar still really wants his baseball stadium, and he’s trying to up his manipulation to get it. First he tries to use Coleman, but that doesn’t work. Then he goes to Peggy and lets her know that he has figured out she’s the one who leaked the news of Rayna and Teddy’s divorce to the tabloids. He threatens to tell Teddy and Rayna if she doesn’t try to influence Teddy to go with Lamar’s stadium site. Peggy caves to the pressure and makes the suggestion to Teddy, but Teddy doesn’t bite. He still wants nothing to do with anything that would benefit Lamar. The one sensible thing that man has done in this entire series, really.

In New York, Rayna’s got both family and romantic drama going on. On the family side, Maddie starts really pushing to be allowed to sing professionally. The guitar Rayna gave her in the last episode seems to have been the catalyst, and it seems to be Maddie’s way of acting out over her divorce frustrations. Rayna explains to Tandy that she’s concerned because her daughters truly are incredibly musically talented, and she wants them to have a real childhood before going on to inevitable musical success. Rayna is eventually convinced that if she does nothing differently, her girls are just going to resent her, even if Rayna is just trying to protect them. So she comes up with a pretty good compromise. She lets the girls perform “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers during sound check. The crew all thinks they are incredible, and getting to perform on the Barclay Center stage is a dream come true for the girls.

On the romantic side, the drama comes from Deacon bringing his new girlfriend, Stacey the veterinarian, on tour. Rayna is gracious but a little shaken about how Deacon with a serious girlfriend makes her feel a little regretful. Everybody seems to like Stacey well enough, including Rayna, Maddie, and Daphne, but Stacey doesn’t really feel comfortable. She’s a little taken aback that Deacon has romantic history with both Rayna and Juliette, and she’s daunted by the length of Rayna and Deacon’s history. Rayna gives her blessing to the relationship, though, and it encourages Deacon to make a grand gesture. Deacon tells Stacey that he’s ready to stop touring for her, because there’s plenty of work for him in Nashville. Stacey doesn’t want him to stop touring just for her, but Deacon seems to think it’s genuinely a good idea. Something tells me this change won’t last long. The moment where Deacon hugged Maddie (his biological daughter) as they watched Rayna perform was just too good to waste.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Arrow 1.19: "Unfinished Business"

“This guy didn’t fail the city. The city failed him, and so did I.”
- Oliver

This week begins with a crowd dancing at Verdant. One girl in particular looks pretty out of it. She leaves the club and ends up getting hit by a car. Oli and Tommy are pretty excited that they are actually making money with the club. And they think it’s kind of funny that their lost-and-found consists of ladies’ underwear. Their good mood sours when Detective Lance shows up about the dead girl. Both guys deny knowing her or that anyone is pushing drugs from the club (she was on Vertigo). This obviously pisses Oliver off. Both he and Lance pay a visit to the Count in the mental institution but neither gets anywhere.

Back on the island, Slade and Shadow (the Archer’s daughter) are sparring while Oli watches. Oli notes that as cool as they are at being bad-ass, they need to come up with a plan to rescue the Archer and stop the baddie. But instead, Shadow is going to train him to use the compound bow without making it snap and killing him.

Meanwhile, Diggle is still brooding over Floyd Lawton’s continued existence in the land of the living. He can’t even read a bedtime story to his nephew he’s so distracted. His conversation with his sister-in-law is cut short by Oli to fill him in on the latest Vertigo crisis. Oli has just enough time to tell Dig about his visit where the Count was pretty much a babbling idiot when Felicity arrives and shows them news footage that says the Count escaped from lock up. As Detective Lance and his partner are leaving the mental hospital, his partner reveals the dead girl tested Tommy right before she died. So Detective Lance will bite the bullet and question him. Plus $10,000 is missing from the operating budget. Tommy denies everything and Laurel gets all defensive lawyer girlfriend for him.

Thanks to some racial stereotyping, Diggle scores some Vertigo so that the tracked bills they used can be followed to the source. Oli heads out after it and breaks up a gathering of homeless guys trying to buy some. We flash back to the island briefly, where Shadow makes Oli slap a bowl of water repeatedly. After doing this for quite a while (and telling him a story about a boy who went to a monastery and came home able to break a table in half thanks to doing exactly what5 Oli is), he strengthens his arm enough to actually use the bow. She doesn’t entirely know what the bad guy is planning but she knows it involves her father taking the fall (just like he did with the Chinese government).

Oli gets back to the man cave just in time to hear a guy’s taken hostages at the aquarium and witnesses said he took green and purple pills. Oli heads off after making an antidote. He tells Felicity to call Diggle because he’s going to need back up. Diggle is off meeting with an old military contact with the hopes that the special forces can track down Lawton and his handler and remove them from the equation permanently. He ignores Felicity’s call. Oliver gets to the aquarium but it’s too late the save the guy. Meanwhile, Lance shows up at the club, sniffing around about where the $10,000 went and saying he wants to inspect the building. Tommy tells him to come back with a warrant. And so he does. The sublevel wasn’t listed on the plans but according to county records something is down there. We know obviously it’s Oli’s man cave of arrow awesomeness. With some quick thinking on Tommy’s end, he’s converted the man cave to a storage facility for all the alcohol. Even with the save, Tommy and Olive have a bit of a fight. Tommy is pissed that Oli would think he’d still deal drugs (he’s really changed his life around the last six months). And Oli’s anger transfers over to Diggle’s quest to find Lawton. He could have used backup at the aquarium. Oli thinks Diggle’s personal vendetta should be on hold while Vertigo is running rampant in the city again. Diggle has a point. Oli should understand where Diggle is coming from, especially since his problem with Vertigo is also personal.

Felicity checks the autopsy reports for both victims and finds they had high levels of an anti-psychotic drug in their system. Oli figures out that it’s a new type of Vertigo and heads back to the mental institution because he now believes the Count never left the premises. Well he turns out to be partly right. The Count never left the hospital. But he’s not the mastermind behind the new version of Vertigo either. He really is a vegetable babbling about nonsense. Unfortunately, Oli gets knocked out by the treating physician and strapped down. Oli comes to and the doctor and his orderly henchman (because everyone needs one right?) are musing about how no one will be surprised that Oliver Queen died of a drug overdose. The doctor gives a little evil speech of evil whereby he explains he reverse engineered the drug from samples taken from the Count’s liver (ew). The doctor force feeds the drug to Oli but he’s fast enough to get his antidote into himself and puke up the stuff before it really has a chance to take effect. And this time, Diggle does have his back. They take out the doctor and his henchman (Diggle zaps his head with paddles from a defibrillator). But in the end, Oli doesn’t have it in him to kill the Count. He’s just so pitiful and in this state he really can’t hurt anyone anymore.

Later, Laurel joins her dad for a non-alcoholic drink at the bar to tell him they are still okay. And she’s proud that he’s starting to deal with his drinking. Meanwhile, Tommy quits running Verdant and runs back to Daddy for a job. As much as it worried me that Tommy could spill the beans to Laurel about Oliver’s identity as Arrow, it worries me far more that he can now tell Malcolm. I don’t know a lot of the Green Arrow mytholo0gy but from what I’ve heard Tommy may end up Oli’s actual enemy.

Revolution 1.12: "Ghosts"

“You either let the grief define you, or you learn from it.”

“Ghosts” was very much a transition episode of “Revolution.” I guess last week’s episode and this one combined sort of form a two-part transition between what the show thought it was going to be in the first half of the season, and what it thinks it’s going to be now. The mission to save Danny was futile, and the focus is now turning to a larger war to defeat Monroe. Most of the rebel crew are still in “Annapolis” in this one. I put it in quotes because it is nothing like the place where I am as I write this. The only thing they got right is that I think I heard a coyote in one night scene, and believe it or not, we have coyotes here in Annapolis. Yeah, I was surprised to learn that one, too, thanks to a warning e-mail from my apartment complex management. We most certainly don’t have trees draped in Spanish moss, and we have a lot more water. When the legislature isn’t in session, Annapolis is pretty much a sleepy coastal tourist town. Emphasis on the coastal.

The episode begins in the aftermath of last episode’s big battle. The Mathesons and the rebels are burying Danny, and the Mathesons are understandably out of sorts. What really stood out to me about this early scene was that Rachel tries to hold Charlie’s hand, but Charlie pulls away. Clearly there’s a lot of damage to repair there. Miles is pissed that the rebels seem content to just be a minor nuisance to Monroe. Miles wants to think bigger. He thinks that to do that, he needs help from some of his old lieutenants from his militia days who also turned against Monroe. The one in particular he wants to recruit to train the rebels is named Jim (played by Malik Yoba, aka Bill from “Alphas). Miles and Jim didn’t part of good terms, to say the least, but Miles wants to try and recruit him anyway. Miles gest some intel that Jim is hunkered down in a small town in Virginia, so that is where he and Nora head.

Meanwhile, the folks who stay behind in Annapolis (holed up in what appears to be a hardware secure residential treatment center) have their own issues to deal with. Randall and Monroe have officially teamed up. Randall promises he can get his team back together to build as many amplifiers as Monroe needs. Randall needs Rachel’s knowledge to do this though, so he gets together a strike team and heads for Annapolis, where they attack the facility where the rebels are stationed. At the facility, Rachel and Charlie’s relationship continues to be shaky, with Rachel disapproving of Charlie continuing to go out on missions with the rebels, especially when Charlie injures her shoulder. Lucky for the rebels, they have a little warning of the coming attack thanks to Rachel keeping an eye on the pendants. Randall had pinged the pendants to see where they were, and that made them light up.

Meanwhile, Miles and Nora arrive in Culpepper, Virginia to find something rather unexpected. Jim has tried to start a new life as the town librarian named Henry. He is also married, and his wife doesn’t know about his former life as a militiaman. Needless to say, Miles and Nora have quite a difficult time convincing him to join the rebel cause. He pretty much wants nothing to do with it, because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his relationship with his wife. It turns out, however, that Jim isn’t really going to have much of a choice. As Miles and Nora are on their way out of town, they see that the local Militia commander is sending a strike team to Culpepper. The truth is that the team is supposed to capture Miles (somebody told the commander that he saw Miles), but Miles and Nora don’t know that. They don’t know if the team is after them or after Jim or all of the above.

Back in Annapolis, Rachel has noticed the glowing pendants, and she wants to destroy them. A good idea, although really it’s too late. She pours a cocktail of different types of powerful acids in a basin, and as Aaron watches, she pulls the pendants apart and drops the flash drives inside into the acid. Aaron is really, really starting to wonder what made the power go out now. He’s also pretty shocked to learn that Rachel once worked for the Department of Defense. We viewers get a little extra background information in the form of some Randall-centric flashbacks throughout the episode. We learn that Randall’s son dying in Afghanistan was really the trigger for Randall going a bit off the deep end. The project Rachel had been working on (taking out the power as a precursor to a military invasion) was just supposed to be tested on a really limited scale, but Randall demands that they use it full-scale right away. He doesn’t want any more American soldiers to die. I appreciate that the creative team tried to create a motivation, although I think it still stretches plausibility a touch.

Anyway, when Miles and Nora see the strike team heading for Culpepper, they backtrack and warn Jim. His wife hears the conversation, so she has to be told about his background. She watches from the library window in horror as the strike team arrives, and Miles, Nora, and Jim start slaughtering them with their swords. I thought it was pretty badass, really. The militia commander sees her looking through the window and has an idea about how to make the battle turn in his favor. He goes into the library and tries to find Jim’s wife. Meanwhile, outside, the battle rages on. Eventually, Miles, Nora, and Jim have managed to kill the entire strike team (which I think stretches credibility just a touch), but the realize that the commander isn’t there. Jim gets into the library and kills the commander just as the commander is about to kill Jim’s wife. She doesn’t really appreciate the gesture, though. She leaves Jim, because he’s not the man she thought he was.

In Annapolis, Randall sees that the pendants have been destroyed, and he gets on the facility’s PA system to announce that he doesn’t really care about the pendants. He wants Rachel. Rachel, Charlie, and Aaron manage to admirably avoid capture for a little while, and Charlie manages to get herself a machine gun. Guess that’s slightly more effective than the bow and arrow she had been using! I’m sure Katniss Everdeen would take a machine gun if she could get one, too. Anyway, Randall captures Rachel, but when he gets her outside and starts trying to get her into a Hummer, Charlie and her machine gun save the day. She mows down a bunch of the strike team, and she, Rachel, and Aaron all run away and make it to the rendezvous point. At the end of the episode, we see that Rachel and Charlie’s relationship may be beginning to heal.