Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween "Classic" Recap: "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"

“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people. Religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”

I pretty much grew up on Peanuts television specials. I had them all taped off the TV on VHS, in all their glory, complete with 1980’s television commercials. VHS tapes were expensive in the mid-1980’s, but my parents bought me “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown” and “Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown” because I requested to rent them so often from the corner video store that buying them was actually more cost effective. “Great Pumpkin,” although not one of my very favorites, is a classic. The focus is mostly on Linus’ steadfast, innocent belief in the Great Pumpkin, a sort-of Santa Claus for Halloween that exists just in the Peanuts world. Well, it just exists in Linus’ world, really. Not even the rest of the Peanuts characters believe in it. There’s also plenty of what you would expect in a Peanuts special, like Lucy pulling the football away and Snoopy doing his World War I Flying Ace thing. It’s a feel-good half hour for sure. Until you think about it too much.

I always say that Peanuts is feel-good until you think about it too much because Charlie Brown always gets tough breaks, and he really doesn’t deserve it. In this special alone, he gets the football pulled away by Lucy in classic fashion, is told that if he got an invitation to Violet’s Halloween party it must have been a mistake, and gets nothing but rocks when Trick or Treating. It was the Trick or Treating bit that took it over the top for me. Does anybody actually give out rocks on Halloween? I mean, I know there are people who do things like give out Bible tracts or notes telling parents of fat kids to not feed them so much candy (how horrible is that), but rocks? It just seems unnecessarily cruel for a kid whose biggest crime is being a bit socially awkward and not having developed enough scissor skills to make himself a proper ghost costume. Maybe that’s why I identified with Peanuts so much as a socially awkward, poor fine motor skills little kid myself.

The special doesn’t exactly treat Linus very kindly, either. I was always a big Linus fan as a kid, I think because he was so smart. Linus may have carried a blanket and believed in something as silly as the Great Pumpkin, but he could give a rousing, wise beyond his years speech like nobody’s business. Linus spends most of this special, however, taking shit for believing in the Great Pumpkin. The Great Pumpkin was a very long-running Peanuts joke. Linus believed in him like most kids believe in Santa. He believed that every Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin would rise out of the most sincere pumpkin patch and deliver toys to kids. Everybody else thinks Linus is crazy, and Lucy is just embarrassed that he’s her brother.

The only person on Linus’ side when it comes to the Great Pumpkin is Charlie Brown’s little sister, Sally. Sally has a massive crush on Linus, so it doesn’t take much convincing to get her to forgo Trick or Treating and Violet’s Halloween party in favor of spending the night in the pumpkin patch with Linus, waiting for the Great Pumpkin. She really is the only person at all willing to believe him. This makes me a bit sad for Linus, but it’s not as completely unjustified as the way Charlie Brown is treated. Unsurprisingly, Sally’s night is wasted. They see something rise from the pumpkin patch, alright, but it’s just Snoopy in his World War I Flying Ace costume.

Speaking of the World War I Flying Ace, this special used several classic Peanuts bits in a way that mostly felt like filler. Like I’ve mentioned, Lucy, as always, pulls the football away from Charlie Brown as he tries to kick it. Her story in this instance and that she has signed a document promising not to pull the ball away. Then, of course, Lucy pulls the ball away anyway, admonishing Charlie Brown for not checking to see if the document was notarized. Then there was the whole World War I Flying Ace, who gets shot down by the Red Barron, as always. He then sneaks across the “French countryside” and finds his way to Violet’s Halloween party, just in time to scare Lucy as she’s using her big mouth to bob for apples. Then there’s the classic bit where Snoopy dances during happy music and starts crying uncontrollably during sad music (this was a pivotal point in “Bon Voyage”). This time, it’s Schroder’s piano music evoking Snoopy’s emotion.

There are quite a few parts of the episode that feel kind of like several comic strips run together. The beginning and the end of the special, especially. The episode beings with Linus and Lucy (gotta love that Vince Guarldi soundtrack picking out a pumpkin. Linus has a bit of trouble carrying it home. He can’t get the pumpkin through a gap in the fence, much like Charlie Brown couldn’t get his baguette through the doorway in “Bon Voyage.” The end takes place in an iconic setting for a Peanuts special or comic strip. The generic town wall. Linus and Charlie brown discus what occurred on Halloween, and Linus vows to wait again for the Great Pumpkin next year, in an even more sincere pumpkin patch.

From all this, you might think that I hated rewatching this classic special. I really didn’t. I just can’t help looking at things with a critical eye, and when that thing is a childhood favorite, the critical eye can be a little disappointing. The episode does end on a rather sweet sentiment, though. Sally has gotten fed up with missing out on Halloween, leaving Linus alone in the pumpkin patch. Still hoping to see the Great Pumpkin, Linus falls asleep. Later, that’s where Lucy finds him. She guides him back inside and puts him to bed. Lucy might talk a big game, and sometimes she might be downright nasty, but when it matters, she’s a good sister.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Person of Interest 3.06: "Mors Praematura"

“Now there’s a third category. Things are evolving and besides, my relationship with the Machine is a little different.”
- Root

Things pick up not long after we see Root abduct Shaw. Finch sends Reese to her apartment since she failed to check in while he tackles their latest number. Their newest POI works for the city identifying relatives when people die without any apparent next of kin. He at least seems like an interesting guy. Reese realizes Shaw is likely in trouble when he finds Taser confetti (which only shows up when fired). We cut to Shaw waking up zip-tied to the steering wheel of a car while Root watches her. Root is seriously sketchy. She explains that the Machine has a mission and it involves them working together. Shaw’s not too happy about this arrangement but after Root busts out some info on Shaw’s past to show that the Machine never lies, Shaw reluctantly agrees to be a party to whatever is going on. Besides, if Root is right, it could save a lot of innocent lives.

Finch’s investigation leads him to some late night snooping around a dead man’s apartment. AT first he thinks Sloane (the POI) is stealing but it turns out the deceased is his foster brother who apparently died of a heroin OD two weeks earlier. Funny thing about that, Sloane thinks it’s murder given how Jason’s parents died (burning down the house cooking meth). Finch decrypts a small portion of an ominous email and Sloane does some digging on a storage unit address he finds in Jason’s coat. It turns out that Jason and some other people went to the unit at all hours and then it got cleaned out after Jason died. Meanwhile, Reese uncovers Shaw’s abductor and gets a call from Fusco that things are going sideways. A guy driving a medical transport van got hijacked by Root and Shaw it appears they were in it together. All the guys realize it’s a deadly combination of Shaw is a willing participant.

While the boys are off on their respective missions, Carter is continuing her crusade against HR using her newly acquired lackey partner. I do hope they wrap that storyline up. Carter is a badass for sure but HR has been around too long. They need somebody new. It seems that her partner may be cutting his loyalty to HR when finds out that Simmons killed the guy he was collecting money from (who the rookie knew growing up) and is ordered to bury him. The next morning, he admits that he’s Russian and is one of twelve new officers on the force. So it seems HR is securing loyalty by seeding the force with Russians to keep the mob in line. And they’re amassing money (millions at least). That could get very interesting. First creating new drugs, now amassing large sums of money.

Across the city, Root and Shaw are continuing their mission which is pretty vague aside from having Shaw cut through a metal bar. Root explains that she doesn’t worry about the big picture. That’s for the Machine to consider. She just does what she’s told. They break into an apartment and find an operative. Shaw takes him out and Root calls in to see what the mission is. Apparently, it’s to bring her in as a package or something. Creepy.

Finch and Sloane discover another storage unit was opened the same day the one that Jason went to was closed. Finch also finds it interesting that the names of the people who reserved the units were generals in the American Revolution. They get there (with Bear along because there can never be enough Bear) and find the unit empty. Sloane has an idea and he gets a black light and they discover all kinds of code written on the side the storage unit. Bear starts to whine and the guys notice the sprinkler heads aren’t connected to the usual line. They activate and the door closes, showering them in gasoline while a propane tank starts to ignite. Just in the nick of time, Reese shows up to rescue them.

Things are getting increasingly tense (and interesting). I wasn’t expecting the two storylines to merge and I was pleasantly surprised. It seems that Collier (the guy who was responsible for killing the sleazy POI who was putting people’s information up online) is back and he may have had Jason killed. And the information they found on the walls is a cypher. They just need the key. Reese and Sloane head back to Jason’s apartment and find the right book but not in time to do much else because Collier’s guys show up and take Sloane. Finch manages to decode the message and it’s a plan to kill Jason that night. So I guess he’s not dead. This is where things really kick into high gear and link up with Root and Shaw. Thanks to Root’s connection to the Machine, Shaw is able to smooth talk her way to a CIA black site and Root ends up being placed in a cell right next to Jason. She blathers on about how much she knows about him. We do learn that the organization Collier works for is called Vigilance. I have a feeling the Machine is trying to save his life and is using Root and Shaw to do it.

My prediction is pretty spot on. Our two teams collide (quite literally) when Collier intercepts the van transporting Jason. Root manages to escape along with Jason down to the tunnel where she and Shaw were before. Shaw gets free of the truck and heads after them while Reese shoots it out with some of Collier’s boys. It would seem Root and Shaw are the more successful pair at the end of the encounter. Jason gets to freedom with a new identity. Shaw saves Root from the guys that followed her. I got kind of a weird vibe between them this week. But in true form, Shaw clocks Root. Meanwhile, Reese faces off with Collier but the latter gets away after shooting Sloane. Things turn out okay for Sloane. He survives his injury and gets to talk to Jason one last time. It’s sweet. And Reese and Finch now have actual custody of Root and she is not happy. She’s been locked in a room and given an anklet to monitor her. And she’s cut off from any electronic device with a Wi-Fi signal. She accuses Finch of upsetting the Machine by keeping her locked up. Finch retorts that maybe she’s right where the Machine wants her. This is going to be an interesting dynamic going forward. The battle of who knows the Machine better.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.05: "Girl in the Flower Dress"

“You have a secret, Skye, and one chance to come out with it. That’s now. Or I’m done with you.”
-Agent Coulson

This episode delves a little deeper into the character of Skye. While I’m anxious to learn a bit more about the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew, I can see why the creative team is focusing on Skye in the early days of the show. She’s new to the team, so she’s a good entry point character for the audience. I think this episode is enough of Skye for a while, though. We learn about her (fairly recent) past, and we learn about her motivations for joining up with S.H.I.E.L.D. We find out that her more distant past is pretty darn mysterious. In addition to delving into Skye’s backstory, this episode also brings back a big plot thread from the pilot. The team once again has to deal with Centipede, the nefarious organization that wants to make superpowered soldiers. They’re still doing experiments on people, and it’s not at all pretty. And it’s still highly combustible!

This episode begins in Hong Kong. A man named Chan Ho Yin is doing a magic act for a crowd. The act involves fire, and the crowd is suitably impressed. After the show, a woman named Raina (wearing a flower dress…hence the title of the episode) speaks with him. She basically strokes Chan’s ego for a while until they go back to his apartment. It seems like Raina is trying to recruit Chan for something, but he doesn’t really have a chance to go along with it by his own volition. He’s nabbed by some creepy guys in fireproof suits. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team, of course is on the case, and the first thing they do is contact the local Hong Kong agent, Agent Quon. Agent Quon has some disturbing news for Coulson’s team. The kidnappers shouldn’t have known about Chan, because Chan had an agreement with S.H.I.E.L.D. to keep his powers under wraps. Quon thinks he knows how word got out, though. A S.H.I.E.L.D. datastream has been hacked by a member of Rising Tide. Everyone immediately looks at Skye, of course.

To clear her name, Skye offers to trace the hack that led to Chan being discovered. She’ll come to regret this, of course. The hack can be traced to Austin, Texas, and it’s the work of a pretty infamous hacker named Miles. The team heads to Austin, where they try to implement an operation to catch the hacker. Unfortunately, Ward is made by Miles when tailing him, and a massive car chase ensues. Miles has some tricks up his sleeve, much to the team’s chagrin. He’s got a device that can changing the programming of stop lights, so he gives himself green lights, and the team gets stuck with red lights. Austin makes it to a safe house, and Skye is there. Apparently they knew each other before Skye joined S.H.I.E.L.D. Miles was her mentor, and it’s quickly apparent that he was also her lover. They’ve been apart for so long that they can’t help but immediately have sex. As Skye is getting dressed afterwards, she opens the door to find Agent May standing outside.

Meanwhile, in Hong King, Raina works on trying to convince a tied up Chan that he really wants to stay put and learn to better harness his powers. She entices Chan with promises of fame, saying he can be a superhero like one of the Avengers. She even gives him a superhero name – Scorch. Chan’s sizeable ego gets the best of him, and he agrees to undergo some tests by Raina’s organization. That organization is Centipede, by the way. Like I already said, it’s the organization that was creating the super soldiers in the pilot episode. Chan is going to come to regret agreeing to the battery of tests, obviously. As soon as he agrees, Raina says it’s time for him to be “drained.” Which can’t possibly end well. Being drained basically means that Centipede wants to take all of Chan’s blood plasma, because it’s fireproof. That’s how he can send flames shooting out of his hands and not get burnt.

After their tryst is discovered, Skye and Miles are hauled back to the bus, where they are interrogated by Agent Ward. They don’t really try too hard to hide anything (I guess they realize they’re already in pretty big trouble). Miles reveals that he was paid for the information on Chan by a woman in a flower dress. She said she had an “eco research station,” and the data was for a study. Skye, of course, is mostly pissed off that Miles sold data, because “information wants to be free” and all that jazz. Anyway, Miles thought Centipede was an organization that studied bugs. He may know how to hack, but he certainly doesn’t seem to have a lot of curiosity.

Now that they have some idea of what they’re up against, there’s going to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. raid on the Centipede Hong Kong lab. Coulson’s team is going to work with Quon’s team to make this happen. Coulson and May are going to be on the ground, while everybody else from Coulson’s team is going to be up on the Bus. Ward’s not especially happy about this, understandably. The fight at the lab is pretty epic. Just when Coulson and company think they have the Centipede minions under control, Chan decides he doesn’t want to play nice with S.H.I.E.L.D. either. He burns Agent Quon and “sets himself free.” There’s just a tiny problem. Without sufficient blood plasma, he might spontaneously combust if he uses his firepower too much. As Raina pointed out, he wouldn’t be the first Centipede subject to burn up.

The lab is in lockdown, so Ward and Sky have to enter the lab so Sky can do her hacking thing to re-enable all the doors. If she can’t do it, then Coulson will probably be nice and toasty soon enough. Skye manages to get the doors unlocked, but Chan takes off after Raina and Debbie, the scientist lady from the pilot who was doing most of the super soldier creating. Chan manages to kill Debbie, but then Coulson catches up to him. Agent May then shoots Chan with Extremis, which I believe is the stuff from the pilot that could stop the super soldiers. Miles does some hacking to shut particular doors and vent a big explosion from Chan safely out of the roof of the building. And so the immediate threat has passed.

Miles is given a bracelet that will provide location data to S.H.I.E.L.D. and prevent him from using any electronic devices. And then he is stranded in Hong Kong. Cold, Agent Coulson. Just cold. Then Skye has to have a chat with Coulson, which is a lot like getting called to the principal’s office. Coulson wants the truth, or he’s “done” with her. Skye says that she joined S.H.I.E.L.D. because she wants to learn more about her parents. The only thing she has ever found about them is an almost completely redacted S.H.I.E.L.D. report. Agent Coulson warns Skye that she might not like what she finds, but he’ll help her find whatever it is. And she has to wear a tracking bracelet. The episode ends with Raina visiting a mysterious guy in jail. They talk about a multi-stage plan and problems resurfacing. Clearly S.H.I.E.L.D.’s problems with Centipede are just beginning.

Once Upon a Time 3.05: "Good Form"

“We are sworn to serve the King and the realm. They sent us to retrieve an unthinkable poison, one that killed our dear Captain. Never again will anyone set sail to that cursed land. And never again will we take such orders. Serving the King, fighting his wars, that is the way of dishonor.”
- Killian Jones

For all the Captain Swan shippers out there, this episode probably made them squeal with delight. Me, I’m a Swan Thief fan so I’m waiting for the inevitable Neal/Emma reunion. Anyway, this episode delves deeply in Hook’s backstory which was definitely due. I like Hook as a character and I think given what we learn in this episode, he’s got the potential to step out of his bad boy role and be a decent guy. I just don’t like him with Emma. Anyway, things kick off back in Neal’s cave. Emma happens upon a bunch of tally marks that dwindle off. Snow thinks it’s because he got off the island but Emma is wiser. She realizes he gave up hope and that’s something she strongly identifies with having done the same thing in foster homes. And she’s worried Henry will lose hope, too. Snow suggests they find a way to get Henry a message and her plan involves kidnapping a Lost Boy. Getting him to cooperate will come later.

Speaking of the Lost Boys, they’ve dragged a now unconscious and drugged Neal to a bamboo cage and ultimately string him up next to “the other one”. We’ve no clue who his cell mate is but this is awfully reminiscent of the bear cages on Lost. Albeit much smaller confines. Back at camp, one of the Lost Boys starts goading Henry into some swordplay and Pan approves. He tells Henry he can make a real sword by magic and then urges Henry on until he strikes his opponent. Henry is apologetic and Pan isn’t happy about that. He wants Henry to be a real Lost Boy and lose all sense of happiness and decency. Henry plays along though. He can be quite clever at times.

David and Hook have their own issues this week. Charming goes all protective papa for Emma and tells Hook to leave his little girl alone because Hook is nothing but a selfish pirate who is only helping to get in Emma’s pants. We learn and eventually Charming does, too, that Hook didn’t start out that way. In the Fairytale Land that was, he’s a proud navy lieutenant serving with his older brother Liam (Captain of their vessel) on a special mission from the king. They’ve got a fancy new sextant to lead them to Neverland where supposedly they will find a plant that can cure any illness. They outrun some other ships by deploying the Pegasus sail (made of Pegasus feathers). Yes, they’ve got a bloody flying ship.

Meanwhile, Hook tells Charming about his brother after David passes out and finds Liam’s lapels. It’s going to be an arduous journey but it might help them crack Neal’s code and get off the island. This leaves the women to lure the Lost Boy. They lay in wait for one to come along and they just so happen to score the one who was sparring with Henry. Emma tries to reason with the kid but he’s not having it. He doesn’t want to go home (so their offer to take him away with them is moot). Regina offers him some candy but he’s not interested in that either. Against Snow’s protests, Emma lets Regina rip out the kid’s heart so they can control him and get a message to Henry. Regina also splits a compact mirror in two and enchants it so they can actually see Henry. This is also a landmark moment because Emma and Regina refer to Henry as “our son” not “my son”. And I think it’s interesting that Emma says it first. Their plan actually works. The boy gets the message to Henry that his family is coming. Henry thinks it is a tricks set up by Pan, even when he sees Snow, Emma and Regina in the mirror. Emma says they’re on “Operation Cobra Rescue” and he believes. Pan appears and Henry tosses the mirror to avoid suspicion. I honestly had hoped he would pocket the thing so he and the family could communicate more. I’m glad that it seems the family working together is going to save Henry and maybe defeat Pan. I’ve read theories that say the combined magic of Emma, Regina and Rumple will do it. I think that would be pretty sweet actually.

The men are still off on their trek and David is getting worse. He’s got hours before the dream shade reaches his heart. Hook is still annoyed Charming won’t tell his family that he’s dying. He’s more focused on saving Henry. I have to say, I agree with some of the other viewers who say they’re tired of Charming. He’s so opinionated and sanctimonious. Anyway, as Hook’s backstory continues to unfold we learn that he and Liam are in pursuit of dream shade. Pan appears and warns them that it’s poisonous but Liam refuses to believe his King would send him on such a mission. Hook is skeptical and it seems he was right because when they find the plant Liam scratches himself with it and is proved wrong as he keels over in pain. Hook begs Pan to help him and we learn that at the peak is a spring with water to cure any illness (yes the damned fountain of youth). It revives Liam but Hook doesn’t heed Pan’s warning. They leave the island and Liam promptly keels over and dies on the ship. The water works so long as he stays on the island. Hook rallies his men in anger and announces he’s leaving the navy and becoming a pirate (bit of a drastic reaction but okay). It’s also a little surprising how quickly his men go along with his plan to abandon their livelihoods and become sea crooks. Hook explains all of this to Charming who says its’ a small price to pay to save Henry. So he drinks and is revived. Oh and Pan appeared to make Hook an offer. All he has to do is kill Charming and he’ll know that Hook is back in employ. Clearly, Hook doesn’t do that.

They return to the women where Charming exchanges a very passionate kiss with the Missus and even toasts Hook for saving his life. Of course, he doesn’t admit he was dying of poison and that he is now bound to the island. Charming and Snow go off for some more reunion time and Emma thanks Hook. He kind of goads her into a more physical show of gratification. They kiss. For a good minute or so. It looks pretty hot and Hook is clearly turned on and flustered by it. Emma’s a little hot around the collar too but she professes it was a one-time thing. I’d like to believe her. Love triangles can be so tiresome. As Hook sits alone, downing his rum, Pan appears and snarks that Hook will never have Emma, especially since Neal, her true love, is alive and on the island. If Hook is an honorable man like he is claiming to be, he will tell Emma the truth. Of course, that goes against his self-interest if he has a shot at getting with Emma. Oh the dilemmas the little brat puts our characters in! I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop the rest of this half of the season.

New Girl 3.06: "Keaton"

“Look man, I know this is hard. But I was honestly just trying to help. You don’t need Keaton. You got me.”
- Nick

So I’m taking over New Girl for the week as Jen is in the midst of crazy time in her day job. This week’s episode of “New Girl” was its Halloween-themed shenanigans. I have to be honest, I haven’t been enjoying this season as much as prior years. I feel like the writers have lost what made the show quirky and fresh and fun and just made everyone weird and unlikeable. I don’t even know what Winston’s purpose is the majority of the time. But I thought this week’s installment was an okay episode. Anyway, on with the recap!

It’s coming up on Halloween and Jess is throwing a party at the loft. Unfortunately, Schmidt has descended into grossness and depression over the Elizabeth/CeCe break ups. He’s been sitting on the couch double fisting cold cuts and guzzling mayo (yes literally and it was gross). He’s become apathetic to everything around him (he punches Winston’s pumpkin and says it doesn’t matter if he doesn’t go to Jess’ party). I am so over Schmidt being all “poor me”. He was the moron who dated two women at once. Jess thinks they need to take some action to cheer Schmitt up because his current course is driving her nuts. Against Nick’s better judgment, Winston suggests Schmidt needs to hear from an “old friend”. And thus the basis for the whole episode is born.

Nick recounts how at age 7, Schmidt became pen pals with one Michael Keaton (or so he thought). In reality, his mom wrote him letters to cheer him up and give advice following his parents’ divorce. When Schmidt went off to college, Nick was tasked with continuing the charade. But Nick thinks the “power of Keaton” is too strong and that Schmidt would do anything Keaton told him. The guys agree not to go forward with bringing the faux Keaton back but Jess goes behind their backs and sends off a note.

Jess pops by to check on CeCe and finds her rather disheveled and bummed out over Schmidt. Jess promises that Schmidt won’t be at the party so CeCe agrees to go. She ends up grabbing a little candy on the way home and is about to dole it out when Schmidt emerges from his room in a fantastic mood. He’s gotten an email from an old friend and is giddy. Jess feigns (rather over the top) surprise when he says it’s Keaton. Nick and Winston scold Jess for dragging all of this up but Jess thinks she’s helping her loft mate. Schmidt is rather annoying as he obsesses over how to respond. Jess tries to fix things by sending a note as Keaton that he’s going on vacation. This only depresses Schmidt. Things get a little crazy going forward. Nick dons a Batman mask and downs some alcohol as he sets out to respond to Schmidt to try and cheer him up. It works at first until a group of trick-or-treaters show up and through the open door, Schmidt can hear the sound of messages being delivered as he texts. He ignores the small children begging for sugary niblets and sees Nick, Jess and Winston hovered around Nick’s laptop. It would appear he’s not so clueless. I only wonder how he’s going to react to his friends duping him like this.

The party is now in full swing. Jess has come as Ramona Quimby (I thought it was actually kind of funny). Nick’s thrown on a bunch of crap from his car and Winston has come as Letterman (yeah I don’t quite get it either). Despite his statement to the contrary, Schmidt shows up as a public serpent (the costume is ridiculous but the concept was kind of funny). Jess sends Winston off to stall CeCe and Nick and Jess start writing to Schmidt as Keaton to get him to leave. Jess is a little drunk and starts sending messages to the effect of “you’re in danger, meet me in half an hour”. Quite fortuitously, some more kids come hunting for candy and Jess commandeers a kid’s Batman costume. Schmidt plays into seeing “Keaton” but then accuses Nick and Jess of hacking Keaton’s email. I don’t believe he’s that stupid but apparently I am wrong. He’s rather devastated that Nick lied to him and that his mom lied to him, too.

Things go sideways when CeCe and Winston show up. Jess is worried her friend is going to freak out and then Schmidt gets pummeled by angry kids. The kids weren’t wrong unfortunately. He was kind of a dick to them. CeCe is okay with seeing her ex though. She says she got closure. Then she and Jess spend a pointless couple of minutes arguing over how Jess incorrectly says Bat mobile (she says Batman mobile). Yeah, it was pretty pointless and stupid. Outside, Nick apologizes for lying to Schmidt but it seems like Nick was being a friend when he was there for Schmidt during difficult times. I mean sure, it would have been better for their friendship if Nick had actually been there. The next morning, Schmidt announces he’s moving out. Part of me thinks that’s not entirely kosher since he’s on the lease and you can’t just get out of a lease. Seems rather unfair to the rest of the roommates. We learn, however, that he’s just moved across the hall to the supposedly haunted apartment. We end with him doing random thing sin his very empty living room/dining room including sweeping, riding a bike and playing with a basketball. I’m not entirely sure what this is setting up. Spoiler alert, Coach is back next week for a brief arc so maybe he’s moving back in with the rest of the roommates. Who knows? Overall, this was not the best of what New Girl is capable of. I hope that going forward Schmidt can stop being so annoying and Winston will have a purpose.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Trophy Wife 1.05: "The Tryst"

“Oh sweetie, you are such a planner! Will you promise me you won’t forget to let yourself fail?”

“The Tryst” was an interesting mix of classic sitcom elements and depth. Overall, the plot really emphasized how this whole extended family is intertwined. Even though Pete has divorced Diane and Jackie, they’re all still family. Personally, I think that would drive me nuts. Pete has a lot of people he has to answer to, and in this episode, it does kind of drive Kate nuts, and she starts to put her foot down. Pete pretty much lets Diane run his life, even though they’ve been divorced for years. I guess Jackie is to hippie dippy to have cared all that much, but it bothers Kate. Kate is young and wants to enjoy her new grown-up life. She cares about Pete’s kids for sure, but she sees through Diane’s constant warnings that Pete not doing exactly what she (Diane) says would put the kids’ future in danger. And let’s face it, the kids will probably be just fine (maybe even better off), without Diane’s panicky micromanagement. The b-plot involving Jackie I think shows how functional this unconventional family unit can be at its best. All three of the kids come together to help Jackie, and the result is pretty sweet.

At the beginning of the episode, we see just how controlling Diane is of the rest of her family. She’s Skyping with Hillary about Hillary’s homework, and when Hillary is done, Diane asks to speak with Warren about his homework. Pete and Kate arrive home in the middle of this transition, and they don’t realize that Diane is listening to them from the computer. Diane has a surgery, and she wants Pete to do some chauffeur duty for the kids. Kate’s upset because they had plans, but Diane uses her covert listening in to manipulate Pete and Kate into cancelling the plans and helping her out. The next night Pete’s got big news for Kate. To make up for the earlier incident, he has made reservations at a really hot restaurant, and Jackie is going to watch the kids. The plans are short-lived, though. Diane calls with yet another frantic request. She needs Pete and Kate to help at a fundraiser for Hillary and Warren’s school because she’s driven away so many other parents. She guilts Pete into it by saying it’s for the twins’ future.
The fundraiser itself is an 80’s dance party. For parents. I know there were school fundraisers in my day, but never something like this. Yet the show makes it seem like parties for parents is a normal thing. It’s not even really going towards something useful. It’s to build a school vegetable garden. The 80’s party setting is a fun one, though, especially considering that “Trophy Wife” follows the 80’s-tastic sitcom “The Goldbergs.” For the party, Diane is Pat Benatar, Pete is Billy Idol, and Kate is Melanie Griffiths in “Working Girl.” Diane of course has to get in a little dig about how Kate looks like an adult for once. I liked to see Kate getting into the costume, even though she really did not at all want to be at that party. As for the party itself, it’s really more about Diane than anything else. Diane is insistent that Pete introduce her for a big key note address. Pete and Kate are also being kept busy on plenty of thankless tasks like working on refreshments.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Warren and Hillary get a hold of Jackie’s computer. They see that she’s in the process of setting up a profile on a dating website, and she has made a really ridiculous video. The video is super long, and it pretty much showcases every one of Jackie’s odd quirks. Now I like people with quirks plenty, but showcasing all of them in one video might not be the best way to get a date. Quirks take time to be appreciated. Anyway, Warren and Hillary understandably have a good laugh over the video, then they offer to help Jackie make a better one. They have Jackie wear one of Kate’s dresses, and they also give her some ideas for things to say. Jackie’s commentary on Kate’s wardrobe is pretty funny. Anyway, Warren and Hillary get Jackie fully on board, she’s in a royal blue dress, and she’s acting a couple notches less crazy than usual. Every time Jackie tries to speak on camera, though, Bert interrupts. At first it seems innocent – he asks to play a game with pool noodles. After he interrupts a few times, though, it becomes pretty obvious that he really doesn’t want Jackie going on this dating website. When prompted, Bert says that he’s worried that if Jackie gets married again, he won’t be her “number one guy” anymore. He doesn’t want to play second fiddle to her new husband. The resolution to this is really sweet. Jackie and Bert do the video together, saying that Bert is the number one guy, but Jackie is looking for a “solid number two.”

At school, Pete and Kate are tasked with getting more cups from a storage closet. Kate thinks this is a great excuse for some impromptu closet sex, and Pete certainly isn’t going to turn that down. Apparently being in a school makes Kate horny. Anyway, when they’re done, Kate and Pete go to get the cups and head back to the party. There’s just one small problem. The door to the closet has no handle on the inside. Pete and Kate are stuck. It’s a classic sitcom plot, which would normally be extremely clichéd. In this case, due to the 80’s party setting, though, I think it kind of works. Why not use a classic style plot in an episode that celebrates a past decade? A decade, I might add, where those classic, clichéd plots were considered good television.

Anyway, in an effort to signal that they’re stuck in the supply closet, Pete starts tripping electric breakers. He’s pretty fortunate that the breaker box happens to be in this particular closet. He flips them one at a time, hoping that he’ll flip one connected to the room where the party is happening. He doesn’t quite get it right at first, though, to obvious comedic effect. The best is when he turns off the lights to the bathroom that Warren’s dowdy, plagued with self-esteem issues (please, God, don’t let that be me in twenty years) teacher is using. Oh, and that same teacher has to do the introduction for Diane. And almost cries. Eventually, Pete has had it, and he trips all the breakers. Diane is pissed that her moment in the spotlight has been upstaged, but the plan works. Maintenance guys come and let Pete and Kate out of the closet. Pete and Kate have also used their closet time to talk about how frustrated Kate is over Pete always obeying Diane’s orders, so the next time Diane starts needling him, he cuts her off and says she’ll have to find someone else. Unfortunately for Pete, Diane wanted him to help get a kid in a wheelchair up on the stage at the party. So Pete ends up having to help after all. Poor Kate is never going to get a break!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

50th Anniversary Countdown: Doctor Who 7.11: "Journey to the Centre of the T.A.R.D.I.S.

“Salvage of a lifetime. You meant the ship, I meant Clara.”
-The Doctor

“Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS” had the potential to be a really intriguing episode of “Doctor Who,” but a “big, friendly” reset button at the end of the episode kind of ruined it for me. Clara learned so much about the Doctor, and has such, had the potential to be a really special companion, by in resolving the episode’s crisis, the Doctor made her forget all of it. Actually, now it’s starting to make me think of what happened to Donna back in the day. This isn’t quite so tragic, because Clara will have future adventures with the Doctor to remember, but I still don’t love the idea of erasing the companion’s memory of something. Anyway, it doesn’t really surprise me that the author of this episode is Steve Thompson. He’s the “other” writer on “Sherlock.” You know, the one who isn’t Stephen Moffat or Mark Gatiss? I always found Thompson’s “Sherlock” episodes to be the weakest of each season, and I guess that carries over to “Doctor Who” as well.

The premise of this episode is pretty cool. The Doctor and Clara are bouncing around time and space, as they do, when a space salvage vessel grabs hold of the TARDIS. This made me think of the late, great “Firefly,” which made me happy. The atmosphere of the salvage ship was vaguely Serenity-like, although you know Captain Mal wouldn’t hold with tractor beaming unsuspecting vessels passing by. He was too honorable for that sort of thing. Anyway, this particular salvage vessel is crewed by the Van Baalen brothers, Gregor and Bram, and their surprisingly life-like android, Tricky. We later learn that Tricky is actually human, but he was in a bad accident which resulted in loss of vision and speech and amnesia. So his brothers thought it would be a good idea to let him think he was an android. Some brothers they are. As we see throughout the episode, the Van Baalen brothers (with the exception of Tricky) are pretty much just out for themselves. They care about the latest score, and that’s it.

The cool premise, however, gets bogged down with twenty pounds of plot trying to fit into a five pound bag. Everything that happens in the episode is kicked off by the TARDIS sustaining some serious damage when the Van Baalens tractor beam her into their ship. The Doctor finds himself outside the TARDIS after the crash, but Clara is stuck inside. He promises the Van Baalens the salvage of a lifetime if they help him save Clara, and he appears to set a timer on the TARDIS’s self-destruct sequence to give them a little extra motivation. The Van Baalens, however, even with that motivation, keep getting distracted trying to take pieces of the TARDIS. One of them tries to strip down the console, while the other wants to steal some living metal that the TARDIS can use to make any machine you can think of. The living metal room was really beautiful, actually. It looked like a tree with lanterns on it. The TARDIS doesn’t like people taking her apart, obviously, so she starts rearranging herself to try and confuse the Van Baalens.

Meanwhile, Clara’s been running around lost in the TARDIS, trying to escape this burned mummy looking creature that keeps chasing her. She finds herself in a storage room of little trinkets, and then she hits the motherlode. She finds the TARDIS library. In it, she finds a book called “The History of the Time War,” and she learns the Doctor’s real name. Although, of course, she doesn’t say it out loud, so we still don’t know what it is. The episode overall gave us a glimpse of many areas of the TARDIS that we’ve never seen before. I especially enjoyed the cameo by the in-ground swimming pool (that I think was used to catch River when she was falling back in series 6). That’s what really ties the whole episode together, I think. Delving into the TARDIS, the true heart of the show. Anyway, Clara is reunited with the Doctor and the Van Baalens pretty early on in the episode. The Doctor figures out that there’s a crack in time, and she is still in the TARDIS, just on a slightly skewed timeline, and he uses that knowledge to bring her in sync with everyone else. There’s still the problem of the burned mummy creatures to deal with, though. There’s plenty of running around the TARDIS trying to avoid them, and it’s obvious that the Doctor knows what they are and doesn’t want to say. It turns out that they’re the future of Clara, a Van Baalen brother, and Tricky. They got burned up in the T.A.R.D.I.S. power source, which is a dying star that Time Lord technology has managed to perpetually hold back from becoming a black hole.

The Doctor thinks that if they interrupt the timeline by keeping the Van Baalens from getting burnt up, then maybe Clara will be okay, too. That plan doesn’t work, though, because the Van Baalens end up dying in the power source room despite the Doctor’s best efforts. The Doctor and Clara find themselves in a room with a big cliff, which the Doctor realizes is the T.A.R.D.I.S. trying to prevent them from reaching her heart. They have a big confrontation, where the Doctor starts grilling Clara about the previous two versions of her he has met. Clara knows nothing about Oswin or Victorian Clara, so she’s pretty freaked out by this. The Doctor finally believes Clara, and he asks her to trust him one more time as the jump over the cliff and into the T.A.R.D.I.S. engine room. The engine is shattered in pieces, but the T.A.R.D.I.S. has slowed down time to keep the epic explosion from happening immediately.

The Doctor has a remote that could potentially disable the salvage ship tractor beam, and he decides that the only way to get out of this predicament is to go back in time and deliver the remote to himself and Clara before the T.A.R.D.I.S. is damaged. Clara is upset because she doesn’t want to forget all that she has just learned about the Doctor and herself. The Doctor smugly says that having some secrets is a good thing, and Clara doesn’t protest that too much. I do so hate the excessive use of the reset button on this show. So yeah, the Doctor steps through the rift in time and gives his former self and Clara the “big friendly” reset button, they push the button, and all is well. Clara is just getting ready for bed following a shower, and the Doctor asks her if she feels safe, and Clara says that of course she does. That’s clearly not going to last for long.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Mindy Project 2.05: "Wiener Night"

“This was an entertaining night, so why don’t we call it pro bono. For underprivileged Manhattan doctors.”

“Wiener Night” was a rather unassuming episode of “New Girl.” It set up and advanced a few options for Mindy’s love life, and it also put a bit of a focus on Danny, which was a nice change. The centerpiece of the episode was an art exhibit of nude photos of Danny taken by his ex-wife Christina. Everyone’s reaction to the photos was kind of amusing in a juvenile kind of way. I did feel bad for Danny, though. He didn’t deserve to be violated like that. On the Mindy’s love life side of things, Mindy started exploring her options in life after Casey. She’s still determined to have that perfect romantic comedy meet cute, though, which I think will probably be a source of frustration for her for a long time to come. It’s obvious that Mindy and Danny are endgame, but it will likely take a while for Mindy to get over her romantic comedy notions of what her love life should be like and realize Danny’s potential. I suppose if she realized it right away, though, there would be no story to tell!

Anyway, the episode begins on an airplane, where Mindy has yet another meet cute on a flight home. Mindy is so hopeful that she even tells the flight attendant that she hopes a cute guy sits next to her. Unfortunately for Mindy, the person who sits next to her is Kevin Smith. I don’t really know much about the real life Kevin Smith, but the character Kevin Smith was playing in this scene was exactly the type of person you hope doesn’t sit next to you on a long flight. He’s an obnoxious seat hog. Fortunately for Mindy, Kevin ends up switching seats with a culture journalist named Jason, and they hit it off much better. The TV in Mindy’s seat doesn’t work, so Mindy watches Jason’s TV while Jason reads some high brow hipster book. It’s pretty much a perfect meet cute in Mindy’s book, and I think that leads her to overlook a lot of Jason’s flaws at first. Mostly that he’s kind of a pretentious douche.

Mindy’s coworkers immediately see her relationship with Jason as heading for trouble. Jeremy in particular points out just how different Mindy and Jason are. Mindy and Jason end up going to the movies together, and it’s pretty clear that the office was right. Mindy is completely bored by the movie Jason decided they would see. Mindy is not at all happy when Jason calls of the budding relationship, saying he can’t see that they have anything in common. Which is actually kind of excusable in my book. He is a hipster culture writer for an alternative newspaper, afterall. And Mindy is not at all hipster or alternative. She should have known he’d be super judgey. The heart wants what the heart wants, I suppose! He takes it a step too far, though, when he implies that even though he doesn’t see a future with Mindy, he still wants to sleep with her. Mindy shuts that down right away.

In more serious news, Danny learns of the aforementioned photography show through a copy of Jason’s newspaper. The rest of the office finds out through new, bro-tastic doctor Peter. Peter announces the news to the whole office, which does not make the rather prudish (in an endearing way) Danny happy at all. The rest of the office thinks Danny’s predicament is hilarious, and they can’t wait to go see the show. Mindy is just as enthusiastic, but she has an extra reason to want to go to the show. She wants to take Jason with her and show him how cultured she is. Clearly this relationship is doomed if Mindy is already having to try and change herself to keep Jason interested. Hopeless romantic Mindy doesn’t seem to care, though.

Danny, meanwhile, really, really does not want this photography show to happen. He contacts Cliff the lawyer for help. Unfortunately for Danny, Cliff says that because Danny signed a release (before he and Christina broke up), there is nothing that can be done. Christina can legally show the photographs. Cliff doesn’t seem to take the whole thing too terribly seriously, though. Could it be more obvious that the creative team will be setting up Mindy and Cliff at some point? Again, it’s also obvious that Mindy and Danny are endgame, but I guess the creative team just isn’t ready to pull that trigger just yet. We’ll have to at least see Mindy work her way through Jason and Cliff first.

We next see the actual photography show. Jeremy, Peter, and Morgan all find the photographs absolutely hilarious. There are many jokes about how Danny is pretty fit for an “old” guy. Poor Betsy doesn’t really know what to make of it all. She thinks Danny’s photos are perfect, and she gets really uncomfortable around him. Mindy, also, is kind of horrified. I think I’d have to go with Mindy on that one. I mean, we’re all very close and friendly in my own office, kind of like the Shulman and Associates crew, but I would most definitely draw the line at seeing a naked photograph of a coworker. There are some things one just does not need to see. As they say on Futurama, “you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.”

Danny deals with the situation by drinking. A lot. Cliff gets a little concerned that while intoxicated, Danny might do something he’d regret. Cliff tells Danny that the only way he might possibly get the show shut down would be if passersby could potentially see the artwork from the street. Danny takes this advice and places a call to the police, pretending to be an older woman who saw the art and is offended. Meanwhile, some video screens turn on with a message from Christina basically saying how terrible Danny is. Mindy goes up in front of the crowd to both defend Danny and herself. She emphasizes that Danny is a good guy, and she also says that liking Katy Perry doesn’t make her shallow. The crowd boos Mindy’s love of Katy Perry, and Danny stands up for her. He’s had it with the judgeyness of the crowd, so he starts to take of his clothes. Of course, at that moment, the police walk in, and Cliff has to diffuse the situation.

Later, Danny and Mindy talk about their problems while sitting on the curb, and Danny starts to feel a bit better once a model approaches him and says she was impressed by the photos. Mindy takes that as her cue to go home. When she arrives at her front stoop, she is surprised to see Jason. He apologizes for being such a douche, and he tries to show he’s made an effort to learn about pop culture. He makes a reference to “Pretty in Pink,” and he starts playing a Katy Perry song on ukulele. He gets a little uptight when Mindy tries to stop the song with a kiss, but then he thinks better of it and goes in for the kiss anyway. Something tells me this is not going to be a long-lasting relationship.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Person of Interest 3.05: "Razgovor"

“We’re…I’m not sure what we are. To be honest, I’m only in it for the dog.”
- Shaw

This week is supposed to be a pretty intense episode and push some storylines forward. We start with Shaw saving a transplant driver from getting offed over a liver. I think they’ve been playing up Shaw’s surliness and antisocial tendencies just for this episode. They get a new number and it turns out to be a 10-year-old Russian girl. Shaw is not very well suited to dealing with people, children in general but it seems they may be stuck together when the girl, Jen, almost gets kidnapped on her way to school. Reese and Shaw come to the rescue obviously but it’s going to put Shaw in an interesting situation.

Elsewhere, Carter is covertly checking out HR. She follows Simmons and another cop to a meeting with the head of the Russian mob and overhears talk about a big meeting where the head of HR is going to be present. Reese offers his help but Carter says she’s got it. Though she doesn’t necessarily turn him down if it turns out she’s in over her head. I like that we’re getting some movement on this plotline. Though, I would have preferred they end the HR storyline last year but sadly, I’m not a staff writer on the show.

It becomes pretty clear that the guys hunting Jen are somehow linked to HR. Carter runs a search but doesn’t have any luck ID’ing one of the suspects (with a hand tremor). She does learn that the area where Jen lives is an impact zone with zero camera coverage. So it’s a pretty sketchy place to live. Carter’s newbie partner is still spying on her and she ends up confiscating a new gun he bought in New Jersey. I’m skeptical as to whether he’s trying to set her up with an unregistered gun that crossed state lines illegally or not. Anyway, back at the building, Shaw and Jen end up hiding out in her little listening post. She’s wired up most of the building to look for drug dealers. Unfortunately, their pursuers figure out they’re hiding in the walls and gas them out.

We have our first flashback of the season tonight to 1993. A car is on fire and some firefighters discover a young girl in the back of the car named Samine. Something tells me we’ve just met a young Shaw. This would make sense since before she and Jen get gassed, Shaw explains she was about 10 when she realized she was different and didn’t really have feelings (psychopath much?). The firefighter rescues her from the car but he doesn’t have much luck engaging her in distracting chatter. She doesn’t really watch TV and her dad is military so he travels a lot. He tells her that her dad didn’t make and her face goes blank for a few seconds before saying she’s hungry. Yeah there is definitely something wrong with Shaw.

Things are getting complicated for our heroes when the guy who kidnapped Shaw gets orders to kill her. She bests him with a tire iron but she’s started to connect with Jen. It seems a little sudden to me but they have to fit in the plot in 43 minutes so I’ll forgive the writers. Finch insists she a doctor (she’s been shot at least once) but once she sees the guy she took out has the same drugs as the third cousin who has custody of Jen, she’s on the war path. Turns out the Russian mob figured out what Jen was doing and wanted the tapes she’d made of everyone she bugged. And it would appear Carter’s hunt for HR and our current case are about to intersect. Reese is tracking the tremor guy while Carter is following Simmons (she ditches her partner at a taco truck).

Reese and Carter nab tremor guy while Finch listens to a bunch of Jen’s tapes. They implicate a plan and a joint venture with HR and the Russians. So while Reese and Carter follow the HR angle, Shaw hunts down the head of the Russian mob and while she’s taking blood, she makes him call Simmons to set a meet to exchange the tapes for Jen. It turns out HR is peddling a new drug that’s so toxic it can really mess you up. They’re using it to get all the other drugs off the street. Lovely. In a little switch that was pretty brilliant, Carter leaks the location of the meet to her rookie partner who feeds it to Simmons while Shaw rescues Jen. Reese gets to beat the shit out of Simmons and Carter ends up confronting her partner. I guess she’s not as naïve and clueless as she seemed at the start of the season. The rookie gets really arrogant and cocky saying he’s got the authority from Simmons to kill her if he wants. She isn’t impressed with his bravado and she kills the bartender/dirty cop and says now she and her partner need to sort things out. It thought it was rather clever that Carter used his sketchy gun so she’s got some serious leverage over him now. He’s going to work for her to avoid the blackmail. I kind of like this new, badass Carter.

Shaw seems to have bonded with Jen enough that the kid gives up her grandfather’s medal as a KBG operative. And she’s now under Finch’s protection from one of his aliases so she’s got a great school and they can keep an eye on her. Shaw thinks she’s blown it with Finch since she disobeyed all his orders. But Finch thinks she’s finally figuring out what they do and why. Now she just needs to take the bug out of the library. It’s nice to see Shaw a little more human. Not sure how long that’s going to stay that way. That night as she’s sleeping, Root shows up and nails her with a Taser. Oh my God! I did not see that coming. Now I can’t wait to see their reunion since the last time Root planned on torturing Shaw with an iron.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Once Upon a Time 3.04: "Nasty Habits"

“My son is dead. The only way I can redeem myself is by saving his son and giving my life.”
- Rumpelstiltskin

Things pick up pretty much where we left them last week. Neal has been captured by Felix and they are heading to see Pan. Unfortunately for Felix, Neal ain’t stupid and gets free of his ropes and knocks the Lost Boy out before taking off. Elsewhere on the island, Rumple is preparing for war (complete with war paint). His vision of Belle pops by for a visit, commenting on how he always hid behind a mask. He says he needs the mask and the monster of the Dark One to save Henry. He’s got nothing left to live for so he can sacrifice himself to save Henry. Even if she’s just a figment, I get why Belle’s miffed. She’s gotta means something to Rumple. And yet still elsewhere, our clan is trying to plot a rescue mission when Tink explains that unless they have an exit strategy off the island, they’re screwed. No one gets off the island without Pan’s say-so. Including Hook. Of course, we know Neal managed it but they don’t know he’s around to ask

Speaking of, Rumple knocks out some Lost Boys and Neal literally runs into him. Yay for at least one family reunion. Well, Rumple’s a bit beside himself at first and thinks Neal is another vision, come to question his resolve to die for his grandson. When Neal finally convinces Rumple that he’s real, Rumple is both relieved and confused. But it looks like they have a small trek ahead of them when Neal says he’s got a plan to take out Pan without having to sacrifice Rumple’s life. It involves a huge squid with paralyzing ink. Rumple’s still skeptical of the plan. It means one of them needs to get close enough to Pan to use it.

Back in the Fairytale Land that Was, Bae is crabby that Rumple won’t let him leave the house. He says he just wants to have friends and go places and be a normal kid. Rumple uses the excuse of enemies to keep his son locked away. But Bae isn’t stupid. He knows that his father is terrified of him leaving and never returning. It would seem Rumple’s fears may not be so unjustified. He comes home the next day to find Bae missing. He uses a little magic and tracks him to a small village. The town elder explains all of their children have been spirited off to the woods by a pied piper. This being Rumple, he basically vows to massacre said minstrel. So the next night, Rumple waits and follows the children as they’re summoned from their beds. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise but the piper is none other than Pan and it appears he’s got a history with Rumple even before he was the Dark One. Pan hits the nail proverbially on the head when he susses out that Rumple is terrified of Bae running away. We also get the genesis of the Lost Boys. Pan really is a creeper.

Hook leads our merry band to Neal’s old living space complete with secret entrance and cave drawings. Charming is still refusing to tell the family about the fact he’s dying and he orders Hook to keep it between them. Emma’s kind of awestruck at the cave. It would seem that while Hook remained in Neverland, he may have kept in touch with young Bae. They search the cave but don’t find anything useful until Charming finds half a coconut with holes in it. Emma figures out it’s a map of the stars leading them home. Kind of touching. Hook breaks the news that he can’t read the map and Emma realizes their only hope was Neal. She busts out of the cave all flooded with conflicting emotions. She realized she didn’t stop loving Neal the moment he came back into her life and she can’t tell him how angry she is about all the emotion. And Snow is upset that she can’t even comfort her daughter. Charming tries to brace her for potential loss without actually dropping the “I’m poisoned” bombshell.

In Pan’s camp, the boys are having a party supposedly to celebrate Henry saving magic. Pan offers to play his pipe to get Henry in the mood but Henry can’t hear anything. Which makes sense because you have to feel lost and unloved and unwanted to hear the music. Felix shows up with news that Neal and Rumple are reunited. Father and son show up and their plan mostly works. They immobilize Pan and grab Henry (who has been hit with a sleeping curse) but Neal gets the ugly truth according to Pan. Dad’s there to kill Henry, not save him. Two years ago, I would have agreed with Pan. Now, Rumple is following his heart and his devotion to family more. Plus, Neal wouldn’t let Rumple hurt Henry.

Things are not going well for Rumple in either the present or the past. He refuses to make a deal with Pan to ask Bae if he wants to go home or go with Pan. Rumple just whisks Bae home. Bae says he would have gone home if given the choice. We also learn that Pan and Rumple were very close as young boys but that Pan betrayed him. Bae leaves anyway. And in the present, Neal flips out once Rumple finally explains the prophecy. Neal doesn’t believe his father can change and so he tricks his father with some squid ink and immobilizes him and heads off with Henry to find the rest of the family and go home. This makes me incredibly sad because I want Rumple to get his redemption. I know Neal’s been hurt before but isn’t love supposed to be really powerful in this universe? Rumple comes out of the squid ink and Belle shows up to try and console him. Now that he’s got something to live for, self-preservation is kicking in and he’s getting nasty again. Some habits are harder to break than others.

Things go sideways for Neal when he takes off with Henry. Pan catches up and the Lost Boys spirit Henry away and drag Neal off elsewhere. It would appear that Pan’s influence is beginning to take hold in Henry when he wakes and Pan says it’s not a surprise he was “dreaming” about Neal. This time, when Pan takes to his pipes, Henry can hear the music. I really hope they manage to rescue Henry before too much damage is done. And damn it, I want my Neal and Emma reunion! She needs to know her true love is alive. And someone really needs to punch Pan in the face.

New Girl 3.05: "The Box"

“Are we ever going to get to the point where you stop working on me?”

So for most of this episode, I was rather irritated at both Nick and Jess. I was irritated at Nick for being so completely irresponsible with money. I’m an attorney and a budget analyst. That means I like to know exactly what I’m getting into, and I’m cheap. The idea of just hiding all my bills away in a box (or dating somebody who would just hide all their bills away) is just out of the realm of what I can tolerate. On the other side of the equation, I was irritated at Jess for trying so hard to change Nick. She knew what she was getting into when she started dating him. She had been his roommate for two years by that point. I know it’s the television stereotype that women always try to change their men, and that probably has some real-world basis in fact. But still, she had to know that Nick was stupid with money, and changing something that fundamental is easier said than done. All that being said, I did like how the plot resolved with Nick and Jess meeting in the middle in a way. That worked for me.

The episode opens with a very unexpected visitor to the loft. A shady character tops by looking for Nick, which of course freaks Nick out. The shady dude is there for a good reason, though. He is delivering Nick’s inheritance from his father. A paper bag full of about $8,000. Everyone is thrilled for Nick, who has had perennial money problems for the entirety of the show’s run. Winston is especially happy because he has loaned $1,900 to Nick over the years, and there’s a chance he might finally be paid back. He knows he has to be careful about getting the money, though. If he just straight-up asks, Winston knows that Nick is going to freak out and not give him the money, as odd as that is. Winston thinks that maybe he can get some benefit out of the shopping spree Nick is sure to go on. Jess, meanwhile, has discovered Nick’s box, a big box of stuff Nick doesn’t want to deal with, namely bills. Jess thinks Nick should get a bank account, put the money in it, and use the money to pay all those bills. Nick has been raised to not trust banks, so he doesn’t want to go with that idea.

Nick does indeed go on a spending spree of ridiculous proportions, including getting a fancy photo taken of himself. Both Jess and Winston are kind of concerned about this, especially Jess. Winston seems to think somehow he can use this shopping spree to get back some of the money he is owed, but Jess tells him that’s stupid. Winston has no reason to believe he’s going to get anything, because Nick gets so weird about money. Jess is concerned that the money isn’t going to be around much longer, so she starts taking it upon herself to pay the bills in the box. One that she pays is $900 worth of parking tickets, and there’s a funny little bit where she asks the parking authority if she can pay the ticket with cash. Soon enough, she’s used up most of the money paying Nick’s bills.

Meanwhile, Schmidt is still dealing with the fall-out of the big Elizabeth and Cece blow-up. He’s moved on from wishing destruction upon Jess and Nick. He’s now perseverating on whether or not what he did makes him a terrible person. Of course, it has to be all about Schmidt, not about how Elizabeth and Cece feel about the whole mess. Schmidt ends up going to a rabbi to get an official opinion on whether or not he’s a terrible person. The rabbi doesn’t really want to talk about it, and he implies that Schmidt probably is pretty terrible. On the way home, Schmidt sees a biker fall to the sidewalk and start choking. Schmidt performs the Heimlich on the biker and saves his life. Schmidt is thrilled, thinking that this rescue makes him not a horrible person anymore. Of course it’s not about the biker, it’s about how saving the biker makes Schmidt feel. Schmidt spends the rest of the episode bugging both the rabbi and the guy he saved (who is in the hospital) to tell him he’s a good person. The guy in the hospital finally says it, probably because he wants to be rid of Schmidt. Schmidt interrupts Hebrew school to get the final word from the Rabbi, and he ends up being escorted out of the synagogue by two burly-looking other rabbis. Okay, so that bit was pretty funny.

All of Schmidt’s talk about do-gooding makes Nick think that maybe he should just give the whole inheritance to charity so he can just go back to living his life the way he lived it. Jess panics, because there isn’t really any money left to donate. She has spent most of it paying off Nick’s bills. Winston knew about it, but he kept quiet because Jess promised to repay him the $1,900 as well. Nick finds Jess in his room, trying to hide what she has done. When Jess tells Nick that she went through his box and started paying his bills, Nick is furious. He thinks it’s disrespectful that Jess went through his personal stuff and made that sort of choice, and I guess he sort of has a point. Although if I were Jess, I’d think it was a risk worth taking. I’d want to know that the guy I was getting serious with was an absolute mess with money. And I don’t think that makes me elitist. I think that just makes me a recession kid who has had to work really hard to get to the point where I can finally (mostly) support myself.

Nick goes off the rails and starts throwing Jess’ vintage purse collection out the window of her bedroom. He finds this to be equally disrespectful to Jess’ going through his box. Jess storms out after writing Nick a check for the money she spent to pay the bills, and she steams about the whole thing until she gets a phone call from a bank. When she shows up at the bank, Nick is there. The bank manager thought it was strange that Nick was trying to open an account with a check from her and a paper bag of money. Jess is happy that Nick is trying to be a little more responsible, even though he swore he wouldn’t change. Both of them are upset when the manager says there will be an $8.00 processing fee on the new account, though. Jess starts spouting off some of Nick’s rants about banks, and as they both start to storm out, the manager offers to waive the fee. And so the episode resolves with Jess and Nick kind of meeting in the middle. Nick becomes a touch more responsible, and Jess starts to understand some of his rants.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

50th Anniversary Countdown: Doctor Who 7.10: "Hide"

“To you, I’m a ghost. We’re all ghosts to you. We must be nothing.”

“Hide” tried to pack a lot of concepts into one episode. Interestingly, this episode was written by Neil Cross, who also wrote “The Rings of Akhaten,” a similarly plot-dense episode. “Hide” packs in meditations on love, the nature of the Doctor/companion relationship, and complex pseudoscientific concepts, all in the setting of a seemingly haunted house out on the Moors. I’ve been to just such a haunted manor house myself, at age eight. On a family trip to the UK, we paid a visit to Chambercombe Manor in Devonshire, and yes, there was a creepy incident where a door opened on its own. Eight-year-old me thought that was pretty definitive proof that the place was haunted. Anyway, what starts as a haunted house turns into a pocket universe-bending adventure, which was pretty cool. Although my favorite episode involving a pocket universe is still “The Doctor’s Wife.”

Anyway, like I said, “Hide” takes place at a house out on the Moors that is said to be haunted. The year is 1974. Professor Alec Palmer (who also happens to be former military) and his assistant/companion Emma Grayling are conducting some Ghost Hunters-style experiments at said haunted mansion. It turns out that Alec actually owns the place. I guess he finds the ghost hunting to kind of be a pleasant diversion. Anyway, Alec is a psychologist now as well, and Emma is an empath. They’re trying to use Emma’s empathic abilities to connect with the ghost in the house. Emma does connect with the “ghost,” and it’s quite traumatic for her. Soon after this first incident, the Doctor and Clara arrive on the scene, and the Doctor takes control of all the ghost hunting post haste.

This episode is really all about companionship and love. The Doctor and Clara are a fairly new team, and they’re trying to figure out the boundaries of that. There’s also clearly some unresolved sexual tension between Alec and Emma. There’s a funny bit where everyone debates whether Emma is Alec’s assistant or companion, which I’m assuming is a shout-out to the nomenclature change between classic and modern who. Those who traveled with the Doctor used to be called Assistants, and now they’re Companions. At one point, Clara and Emma have a girl chat about the respective men they support. Clara makes it pretty clear that she thinks there will be nothing romantic going on between herself and the Doctor, which I think is probably a good thing. The Doctor has had significant romances with Rose and River in recent years, so it might be time to take a little break. Emma and Alec clearly love each other, although they’re both too afraid to say it. Alec feels like it would be improper somehow.

Clara starts looking through photographs Alec and Emma have taken of their “ghost,” and she realizes that the ghost looks exactly the same, down to the pose, in each picture. When she tells the Doctor this, he breaks out the old orange spacesuit that most definitely made me nostalgic for the days of the Tenth Doctor. Ten wore that spacesuit in the classic series two two-parter “The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit.” He wore it again once or twice more, but that two-parter was what made the spacesuit iconic. Anyway, once he’s in his spacesuit, the Doctor goes all through time, taking pictures of the “ghost” all the way. Clara is taken aback at the enormity of seeing the entirety of Earth’s timeline, and that’s when she says the Quote of the Episode about how the Doctor must see all of us as ghosts. The Doctor assures Clara that he doesn’t see her that way, but he declines to elaborate further.

Now that he’s looked at the ghost through the entirety of earth’s history, the Doctor has a theory. Because she is present throughout that entirety of history, the Doctor doesn’t think she’s a ghost after all. He thinks that instead, she is a human trapped in a pocket universe where time runs at a different speed relative to our universe. A few seconds in the pocket universe have been an eternity in our universe. It’s like a little Narnia, basically, but the opposite (in Narnia, spending a lot of time there is a very little bit of time in our universe). The Doctor puts a very scary looking device on Emma’s head and asks her to use her empathic abilities to open a portal to the pocket universe. She does so, even though it causes her great pain. The doctor jumps in and convinces the traveler, a woman named Hila, to travel back to the portal. She’s fairly frightened, but she makes it through. Unfortunately, Emma runs out of energy, and the portal closes before the Doctor can make it through himself.

Clara wants to pilot the TARDIS into the pocket universe to save the Doctor, but the TARDIS doesn’t like her very much (I still don’t really understand why), so they have to have a bit of an argument before she (the TARDIS) relents and goes where Clara wants. Clara gets there just in time. The Doctor was being chased by a rather large, threatening monster, and he manages to grab on to the TARDIS just before getting eaten (presumably). Emma puts the torture crown back on and opens up the portal again to help them back into our universe. Once everyone is safe, it’s time for the Doctor and Clara to say their goodbyes. It turns out that Hila is an ancestor of Alec and Emma, and that is why Emma’s empathic link to her was so strong. Learning that they will get married in the future makes Alec and Emma a little uncomfortable, but there’s also some relief that their mutual feelings can finally be out in the open.

Before leaving, the Doctor takes Emma aside and asks her what she senses when she looks at Clara. He’s still trying to figure out how Clara can be “Impossible,” apparently. Emma assures the Doctor that Clara (or this version of her, at least) is a perfectly ordinary human. Just as they’re about to leave, the Doctor has one last epiphany, and it’s related to the overall love/companionship theme of the episode. He realizes that the monster in the pocket universe isn’t the only monster out there. The monster has a mate, and that mate is somehow in the haunted house. The monster wasn’t really trying to eat or scare people. It just wanted its mate back. And so the crew resumes dimension-hopping to bring about one last reunion of lovers.

Trophy Wife 1.04: "The Breakup"

“Did you just pull me aside? First of all, no one pulls me aside, I pull people aside.”

We all knew this day would come, from the pilot really. Meg finally reached her limit for how much of Kate’s new-found mom-ness she will tolerate. As the title of the episode suggests, this resulted in a big blow-up between Kate and Meg. I kind of wish the set-up to the fight had been a bit different. I thought that Kate having Meg run mom errands for her like taking Bert to orchestra was going to be the catalyst for something like this, but the disagreement is much bigger than that. Meg fundamentally thinks Kate isn’t fun anymore. I suppose that is to be expected, but I would have liked to have seen the lead up to the fight to be a bit more specific. That being said, I did appreciate that the series of events made Kate step back and evaluate how much she has changed in the year of being married. It kind of made me wish we had seen more of the really, really early days of Kate and Pete’s marriage. I’d like to see how she really started to at all settle in to her new life.

Remember how in the beginning of the pilot, Kate narrated about how she and Meg went through a lot of break-ups and always went for karaoke afterwards? The Kate and Meg fight plot builds on that little tidbit. Meg has just broken up with another boyfriend (whom she has lived with for two weeks), so she wants to crash at Pete and Kate’s for a little while. Kate kind of reverts back into her pre-marriage self, wanting to help Meg party her way through the sadness of the break-up. They put together a ridiculous concoction of multiple shots of vodka, and they go out for a crazy night on the town. After the partying, they crash back at Pete and Kate’s house, and the results are not family-friendly. Most of the issues are Meg’s, really. Kate’s just really hung over the next morning. Meg ate candy off of a model solar system Hillary was building and vomited in Warren’s slippers. Some friend she is.

Jackie’s branch of the family is again the group that gets pretty much their own plot in this episode. Jackie’s father sent Bert a Lego Millennium Falcon set for a gift, and Bert is super excited about it. The excitement wanes as Jackie turns out to be absolutely terrible at Legos. We learn later that Bert is actually pretty good at Legos, but I guess under Jackie’s direction, he was doing everything the wrong way. Jackie hates to see Bert disappointed, so she calls in Warren as a reinforcement. Warren has been diligently studying for the “PPSAT” at Diane’s insistence, but he’s happy to take a break from that for some Legos time. With Warren’s help, they make great progress on the Millennium Falcon, but it’s all over once Diane calls and realizes where Warren is. She comes over to Jackie’s house and makes Warren go back to studying. Because heaven forbid he become a dermatologist or something. Diane’s especially unhappy that Jackie tried to tell Warren that a college education isn’t really necessary. Before he leaves, Warren gives Bert the confidence to be able to finish the Lego project.

The Meg situation gets even worse when a neighbor stops by to complain to Pete and Kate that her son saw a woman topless in their pool. That woman is Meg, of course. At that point, Kate’s mission is to get Meg out of their house by the end of the day. This is easier said than done. She takes Meg back to the apartment she shared with the now-ex, and the ex is even douchier than Meg is. Apparently the break-up was caused by an argument over Meg throwing out a jar of curry infused mustard. And they’re both still acting like children and fighting over it. Kate can’t believe that all of this grief for her family has been caused by a damn jar of mustard, and I’m definitely on her side with this one. When Kate calls Meg on this, Meg retaliates by saying Kate isn’t fun anymore, and she accuses Kate of abandoning her for her new family. Kate has had it, and she leaves.

Kate arrives home from the confrontation with Meg and unloads on Pete. She’s really upset about the prospect of losing her best friend, and Pete gives her some advice that just makes things even worse. He says it just matters if somebody apologizes – it doesn’t matter who. Kate wonders if Pete has ever used this on her to get out of an argument, and she’s not happy about the thought that he might have. Pete decides to take matters into his own hands, and he goes to Meg’s house to try and smooth things over. I don’t like the idea that the rational husband has to solve problems for his crazy wife. It just doesn’t feel right to me. In her conversation with Pete, Meg basically proves how completely narcissistic she is. She’s upset that Kate disappeared for a week after getting married…for her honeymoon. Pete exaggerates how much Kate talks about Meg and thinks about Meg, and Meg starts feeling a little better.

Pete, Meg, and Meg’s ex all go to Pete and Kate’s house for the big make-up. Meg brings a new solar system model as a peace offering, although Hillary thinks it’s pretty sad compared to what she was working on. The assignment isn’t due for another three weeks, though, so she’s really going to be just fine. Diane has just passed off her neuroses to her kids, which is a shame. Kate, however, is impressed that Meg took the effort to try and make a replacement at all. Spending one hour one something for someone other than herself is apparently a rarity for Meg. I thought I’d want to see more of Meg back in the pilot, but I think they need to dial down the narcissism a few notches if I’m going to enjoy seeing her again. Jackie and Diane have enough annoying quirks between the two of them. We don’t need Meg in the mix, too. Kate and Meg reconcile, and Kate and Pete are finally able to settle down and watch Magic Mike, which they had been trying to do since the beginning of the episode. Only now they’re watching with Bert. Awkward!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.04: "Eye-Spy"

“Be friendly, Agent Ward. Can you be friendly? Please don’t die.”

I think the commentariat pretty much seems to agree that last night’s episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” was a turning point for the show. This episode was written by veteran “Angel” writer Jeffrey Bell, and his talent and experience was definitely on full display. We can see the team starting to really work together, and there was some genuine, well-played tension between Coulson and May. There was always a sort of overblown aspect to the Skye/Ward drama in the earlier episode, but Coulson and May’s disagreement in this episode seemed genuinely dangerous. The plot also had real personal stakes for Coulson. The person the team was after was a former protégé of Coulson’s, and Coulson’s whole motivation was to keep her from getting into even more trouble. The personal connection really gave the episode extra resonance, and allowed for Clark Gregg to give a really powerhouse performance. Beyond all the emotional gravitas, this episode also had some great moments as well. Ward squeaking “Help!” when he realizes he has to seduce a burly security guard will likely be one of the show’s classic moments.

The beginning of this episode was quite creepy, really. A bunch of guys walk out of a bank and through the streets of a Stockholm, all wearing red masks. The masks are what is creepy. It reminds me of those Guy Fawkes masks that the Anonymous folks wear, or the masks that the protesters were wearing in the second episode of “Torchwood: Miracle Day.” It’s the anonymity and lack of emotion inherent in the masks that makes them creepy. Anyway, a bunch of the red-masked guys go into a subway car, where a mysterious woman cuts the power and takes them all out, presumably also taking what they were carrying in their mysterious briefcases. Yeah, it’s all very mysterious. And creepy. As if I haven’t already said that several times in just this paragraph.

Anyway, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team finds themselves assigned to this strange case, and it turns out to have been at Coulson’s request. He knows the woman who took out the red-masked men on the subway. Her name is Akela Amadour, and she used to be S.H.I.E.L.D. herself. In fact, Coulson trained her. Somewhere along the way, she got mixed up in some bad stuff, and she hasn’t been a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent for a very long time. Several members of the team try to tell Coulson that what happened to Amadour wasn’t his fault. You can train somebody perfectly, and they can still go off the rails. We’re talking about human beings, after all. The pep talk to Coulson that most sticks in my mind was Skye’s, which took place early in the episode. She doesn’t really even know the whole story yet, and she’s already got Coulson’s back. I don’t know if that means she’s fully accepting of her new role, or if she’s trying to play nice so nobody suspects her continued ties to Rising Tide.

Anyway, the team goes to Belarus to investigate things further, because that’s where they think Amadour went next. Skye and FitzSimmons stay in the van to do electronic surveillance. They realize that Amadour is broadcasting a video signal, and Skye successfully hacks into it. Once they get the video feed, they realize they have a pretty big problem. Amadour is looking at their van, and she can see that they are in it. Some of the things that have to take place for the team to realize this are pretty funny, though. Namely Fitz waving his arms around and checking to see if arms waved on the picture too. Anyway, things get dangerous in a hurry when Amadour repeatedly plows her van into the S.H.I.E.L.D. van (called “Short Bus” by May and Ward, by the way, in one of the funniest bits of dialogue in the episode).

The Short Bus crew is rescued and taken up to the real Bus before they’re too badly hurt. Some more investigation leads the team to realize that the camera Amadour is using to take the video they hacked into is actually implanted in her eye. Through most of the episode, Agent May has been very skeptical of Amadour and her motivations. She also doesn’t approve of Coulson trying to lessen the consequences for Amadour. They have some pretty heated conversations about this, which as I said in the intro, I appreciated. There was some real danger to how vehemently they disagreed. Anyway, the game changes when some words flash up on Amadour’s video feed. It turns out that she isn’t doing all of these terrible things out of her own volition. Somebody is controlling her.

Of all people, it ends up being May who goes and rescues Amadour. She goes into Amadour’s hotel room, and Amadour says that now her handlers have seen May, only one of them will be able to get out of the hotel room alive. Coulson puts a stop to this with a tranquilizer and a video feed hack. When it all shakes out, Amadour is up on the Bus, and video feed Amadour’s handler is seeing is actually coming from a pair of glasses that Ward is wearing. Ward is going on the mission that Amadour was supposed to go on. Meanwhile, FitzSimmons are going to try to disable the self-destruct device that is part of Amadour’s eye implant. Basically, when the device is functioning, if Amadour does anything the handler doesn’t like, she dies.

FitzSimmons have some trouble with the necessary eye surgery (and said surgery is damn gross), but most of the fun of this part of the episode is Ward trying to work on Amadour’s mission long enough to let FitzSimmons disable the device. He comes upon a room with a rather gross, burly security guard, and the message that flashes on the feed says that he needs to seduce the guard. Skye suggests that Ward try to “bromance” the guard by talking about sports and sexual exploits and such. Ward tries it, but the guard is a rock and doesn’t say anything. Ward loses patience and just knocks the guy out. He gets into the next room and gets what the handler was after, but because the guard is unconscious and can’t enter a code into the computer “Lost”-style, an alarm goes off, and Ward has to hightail it out of there. Ward accidentally looks in a mirror and reveals himself to the handler just as the eye device is disabled.

The last piece of the puzzle is nabbing the handler. Ward is almost able to accomplish this. He finds a guy trying to hurry away from the location where the handler’s signal was coming from, but the guy turns out to be just a pawn, too. His own handler sets off his eye device, and Amadour’s handler dies right there. As for Amadour, she goes back to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters to stand trial. The episode ends with Skye and Coulson having a bit of a bonding moment. She likes to sit in the back seat of one of Coulson’s cars (I couldn’t tell whether or not it was Lola) when she needs some “me time,” and that’s where Coulson finds her.

Person of Interest 3.04: "Reasonable Doubt"

“I’m in the business of stopping bad things from happening. I’m not so sure what’s about to happen is a bad thing.”
- Reese

This week starts with our boys finishing up the tail end of a number. They’ve taken Bear to the vet claiming he’s been sleeping all the time, vomiting and just generally a sad puppy. It turns out this woman is their latest number and Reese (with an assist from Bear) stops some kids from stealing drugs. No sooner do they wrangle an expensive chew toy for Bear out of the vet but they get a new number. A prosecutor’s number has popped and she’s married to a somewhat powerful defense attorney. The POI, Ms. Vanessa Watkins, has lost her husband. He’s gone missing and she gets arrested for his murder by a Detective Cameron (aka Stan from In Plain Sight). Fusco gets to be our ears on the interrogation as Cameron lays everything out for what he’s got against Vanessa. Only after he finishes laying out his case does she speak with her attorney. Unfortunately she’s pulled a fast one on the NYPD because she’s knocked out her attorney, stolen her clothes and made off like she’s guilty.

Detective Cameron has a bug up his ass to get Vanessa. They caught video of her buying a bus ticket. Shaw retraces her steps when Reese realizes that Vanessa looked right at the camera at the bus station. She’s letting herself get seen so she can make a detour elsewhere. Reese and Shaw track Vanessa to see a former drug dealer that Vanessa put away. Apparently (given the hug they exchange) she talked to a judge and got him released early. He then hands over a kilo of cocaine as the cops pull up. She makes a run for it and Finch lets Carter know she’s up on the roof. Carter gets up there but Vanessa is a little crazy. She proclaims that she didn’t kill her husband but that no one can help her. She jumps off the roof and lands in the back of a garbage truck. I don’t think Carter saw that one coming.

Reese is on the scene and Carter says she’s learned that Detective Cameron has a personal vendetta against Vanessa because she discredited him on the stand during a case where an alleged murderer walked. So now we know why he’s so hot and heavy for her. Unfortunately, Carter’s newbie partner sees her talking to Reese. He asks about Reese a little later but plays it off as he’s happy she’s moving on. I still don’t trust this kid to be honest. I feel like he’s got to be an HR plant. Things are also getting a little dicey in trying to locate Vanessa. Finch finds that her friend is having a book club and Shaw volunteers to infiltrate to see if Vanessa’s made contact or asked for money. Because it’s Shaw and she’s nuts, she finds that Vanessa’s friend was sleeping with Vanessa’s MIA husband. Oops. Shaw’s response is “I’d rather shoot you but now I have to protect you in case your friend comes to kill you”. Oh, Shaw. Fusco has also done some digging of his own. Vanessa’s hubby was woefully in debt to the mob and it’s possible they offed him to send a message.

Reese is also trying to track down a witness who supposedly saw Vanessa toss the murder weapon in the river. But he’s just been busted by the cops for possession of a kilo of cocaine with intent to sell. Yep, she set him up. Reese kind of admires her spy craft though I doubt he would have stuck around to admire his handy work. It’s what allows him to catch Vanessa for a much-needed chat.

Their chat turns into a mini trial where Vanessa has to disprove the evidence against her. She recounts when she first met her husband and that he was nice to her, even though he completely crushed her in court. They fell in love. She knew about his debt but they had a living trust which said she wouldn’t get a dime of any life insurance if he died suspiciously. Fusco and Shaw are working on digging up what they can on the Watkins’ charity. Fusco has to stop Shaw from stabbing the poor old man trying to get the information (he was kind of a caricature of the older generation’s ineptitude with computers). Vanessa also dispels the idea that she killed hubby due to his affair. She admits she had one, too but she didn’t realize he was sleeping with her bestie. Carter, Reese and Finch are about to take a final vote on whether they think she’s innocent when our dynamic duo at the charity office call with news. Oh and the NYPD is closing in, too. The entire account was transferred by a co-signer that morning (aka 20 million went bye-bye). That co-signer is none other than Vanessa’s husband using an alias. Hmm. The plot thickens!

Vanessa can’t believe her husband set her up for murder. And the cops seem to be closing in. So Reese takes her to the train station to catch a bus with a new identity. And the cops ended up busting up an illegal gambling ring thanks to Finch sending in a tip from Zoe. But things go sideways when Carter and Finch realize that Vanessa was in on the plot to take the money and disappear with her husband until he double crossed her. Now she’s after him. Oh and I was right about Carter’s new partner. He’s totally HR (he ends up reporting to one of the dirty cops). Anyway, Reese shows up at the yacht where Vanessa is waiting for her husband. He’s rather pissed that she lied to him and that her husband framed her for murder. He leaves a gun and walks away, letting them kill each other. In the history of the show (yes I know it’s only in season 3) they’ve never had Reese fail to avert whatever the Machine is trying to warn them about. It was definitely a very Reese move. Neither party really deserved to be saved so he cut his losses. I hope they take these kinds of creative risks a little more often going forward. It really gives the characters some depth.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sleepy Hollow 1.05: "John Doe"

“Brush up on your Chaucer, Crane. I need you to question our John Doe.”
- Captain Irving

This week begins with a young girl picking flowers in the woods when a little boy appears. She invites him to play and tells him to chase her. He does for a brief time until she disappears and he’s suddenly being chased by a horseman. The boy gets to the road and a truck zooms by. The boy takes off and the horseman dissolves into black mist. Back at the sheriff’s cabin, Ichabod is moving in. He feels more at home in the cabin than the motel. He asks Abbie if she thinks he looks out of place in the present and she says he looks good for his age though a change of clothes wouldn’t kill him. I know that will make some fans happy but I like his outfit. It suits him. Before she can really explain the art of cutting plastic with scissors, they get a call about an unconscious boy. It’s the one from the woods and it seems he’s infected with something that turns is veins black. The boy also speaks Middle English. Ooh, interesting. I have a guess as to which Horseman was pursuing our young time traveler through the woods but I’ll hold on sharing it until a little later on.

Back at the precinct, Abbie is checking the boy’s picture against missing kids. It clearly turns up nothing. Ichabod is tasked with questioning the boy since he’s the only one who speaks Middle English (obviously….dude’s got skills). They’ve quarantined the boy so Ichabod has to communicate via a camera. The boy’s name is Thomas and he says he broke the rules by leaving home and following the girl in the woods. We also learn he’s from Roanoke (and not the town in present day Virginia). Ichabod explains the story of the lost colony to Abbie back at the cabin and he has a hunch that they may find said lost colony in the woods of Sleepy Hollow. They’re on a bit of a clock now because the illness is spreading. The EMT who treated Thomas dies (and he sees the figure of the horseman.

Abbie and Ichabod head off to the woods to retrace Thomas’s steps while the CDC tries to figure out what is going on with people getting infected. And it would appear Luke, Abbie’s ex, has a bug up his ass about Ichabod. So he’s going to do some digging. That’s not going to go well for our dashing hero. In the woods, Ichabod snarks at Abbie’s smart phone and proves to be an accomplished tracker due to noble blood and an upbringing. I like we’re still learning little pieces of information about him. It just makes him far more well-rounded. Abbie also tries to joke with him about who was funnier, Jefferson or Adams. He gives it right back to her. I think that’s part of what makes this show so fun. There’s not really any will they/won’t they sexual tension between them. They’re more like great friends who can pick on each other with respect. Besides, I totally ship Ichabod/Katrina. I want more of their back story. Finally, they reach a pond where Thomas’s tracks stop (well…begin really since they were backtracking). At first it seems impossible to get across but Ichabod’s keen sense of sight notes some marks on trees and a hidden walkway through the water. Not surprisingly, they stumble upon a community of people and when Ichabod asks where they are, they get the answer: Roanoke. So yeah, that place isn’t so lost now. The only problem is everyone’s infected. This doesn’t bode well.

Ichabod and Abbie meet with one of the village elders and get a history lesson. The Horseman of Pestilence (by the way that was my guess at the start of the episode) infected the colony but the baby Virginia Dare guided them to Sleepy Hollow as a ghost. Thomas left and the plague began to spread anew. Thomas needs to be brought back to Roanoke or else Pestilence will join his headless buddy Death and bring the apocalypse that much closer. Unfortunately, by the time they get back to the hospital, Ichabod realizes he’s been infected. The CDC guys sedate him and he ends up on the netherworld with Katrina. She’s worried because the only way he could arrive in that realm without her help is if he’s dying.

We get a bit more info on her situation as well. She’s basically trapped in purgatory and Moloch decides when souls can move and to where. It seems Katrina’s done something to land herself in this place but she won’t tell Ichabod what it is. Back in Sleepy Hollow, Abbie ends up praying for a sign to show her how to save Thomas and Ichabod. She realizes it is in the water at Roanoke. She gets Irving to back her play as she manages to take Thomas and Ichabod back (thus pulling Ichabod away from Katrina before he can coax the truth from her). Let’s just hope it works. Oh and my worries about Luke running afoul of Ichabod is not so justified. He gets a woman from Oxford who corroborates that Ichabod is tenured and on loan to the cops in Westchester County.

Ichabod doesn’t look like he’s going to make it as he collapses in the woods with Thomas in his arms. The Horseman is on their heels but miraculously (okay so thanks to some liquid adrenaline) they make it to Roanoke and Ichabod submerges in the well. The Horseman vanishes and shortly thereafter the entire colony disappears. Ichabod suggests that they were all dead and Thomas was lured back to life to spread the plague. Very clever man he is. He also notes that Abbie allowed herself to be a capital W witness and believe what she couldn’t see. That’s what really got them to prevent the plague from spreading. And that’s also rather creepy. Now they have to prepare in case Death comes back. Sure enough, Headless walks out of the river to his waiting red-eyed, white steed. They leave a trail of fire in their wake as they set off. Sadly, we have three weeks to wait until the Horseman makes his next move on our Witnesses.