Saturday, May 31, 2014

Game of Thrones 4.06: "The Laws of Gods and Men"

“I will not give my life for Joffrey’s murder, and I know I’ll get no justice here. So I will let the Gods decide my fate.”

The main focus, as you might potentially guess from the title, of “The Laws of Gods and Men” was the trial of Tyrion for the murder of Joffrey. The trial wasn’t over by the end of the episode, but the creative team picked quite the cliffhanger to end it on. It was an exciting enough episode, although it felt a little bit like a retread of season one’s “A Golden Crown.” That episode featured Tyrion’s first trial for murder (that time at the Eyrie). There were even some comments Tyrion made in this episode that were reminiscent of the first. I have mixed feelings about those parallels. On the one hand, the crime being regicide, the location being King’s Landing, and the involvement of all the other Lannisters raised the stakes for this episode. On the other hand, “A Golden Crown” is one of my favorite episodes of “Game of Thrones,” so this feels like kind of a pale imitation of the original.

Since this is an episode of “Game of Thrones,” it couldn’t be focused just on Tyrion’s trial. So let’s run through some of the other smaller plots that were touched upon. First, Stannis and Davos take a trip to Braavos. They are trying to convince the Iron Bank to back Stannis. The Iron Bank is owed a lot of money by Tywin, though so it’s kind of a tough sell. Davos gives a really great speech about how once Tywin dies, the Lannisters are going to fall apart (ruining the Iron Bank’s investment), but the Iron Bank’s managers still don’t seem entirely convinced. On the Westeros side of the Narrow Sea, Yara Greyjoy undertakes a mission to try and rescue Theon from Ramsay Snow’s clutches. Ramsay fights Yara and wins (as Theon hides), and she runs off with her soldiers, declaring Theon “dead”. Ramsay continues to enjoy torturing Theon (I personally really wish this plotline would end…it’s just skeevy).

In Meereen, Daenerys is trying her hand at actually ruling a kingdom. She decides to take audiences with the citizens of Meereen, and it’s just one problem after another. There’s a guy whose goats were killed by Dany’s dragons (she pays him back threefold), and a guy whose father was killed by Dany’s invasion (she’s unsympathetic). And that’s just the beginning. Ruling seems kind of boring really. Having to sit there and seem interested in all of these problems all day. In Westeros, Tywin and his Small Council discuss the latest developments with Dany ruling in Meereen. There is disagreement over how much of a threat she poses. Cersei especially thinks that Dany should be ignored for now, since she’s all the way on the other side of the Narrow Sea. Tywin is in favor of dealing with Dany now. Following the Small Council meeting, Varys and Prince Oberyn have a scheming sort of conversation of the old school type that used to take place between Varys and Littlefinger. Before Littefinger left for the Eyrie, that is.

The rest of the episode is focused on Tyrion’s trial. Early on, we see three witnesses in quick succession. First is Grand Maester Pycelle, who testifies about Tyrion’s interests in poisons and also testifies about the poison that was in Sansa’s necklace. Then there’s Cersei, who testifies about that whole “joy will turn to ashes in your mouth” line Tyrion said to her before Blackwater Bay. Varys also testifies against Tyrion. Tyrion fights back at this one, asking Varys if it’s true that Varys once said King’s Landing would never have made it through Blackwater Bay without Tyrion. Varys, as he does, manages to dance around that one.

While the trial is in recess, Jaime tries to strike a deal with Tywin to save Tyrion’s life. We don’t usually think of Jaime as being the one to try to play political/cerebral games, so this was kind of interesting to watch. Jaime agrees to leave the Kingsguard, marry, and sit at Casterly Rock if Tywin lets Tyrion live. Twyin says that if Jaime does indeed take his rightful place at Casterly Rock, Tyrion will be given the chance to take the black and live the rest of his life with the Night’s Watch. Jaime is pleased by this deal, and before the trial resumes, he tells Tyrion the plan. He asks Tyrion to just trust him for once that everything will be okay.

When the trial resumes, however, everything falls apart. Shae is the next witness. She says that she knows Tyrion and Sansa plotted Joffrey’s murder because she was Sansa’s handmaid. Then she says she was Tyrion’s whore, and it’s like a knife through Tyrion’s heart. She goes through the history of their relationship in the most negative way possible (because she’s still pissed at Tyrion for sending her away). She says that when Tyrion married Sansa, he became all about Sansa and cast her (Shae) aside. It’s obvious that all of this is just killing Tyrion. He felt deeply for Shae, and the only reason he sent her away was because he knew she would be in danger if anyone found out about their relationship, and he didn’t want her to get hurt. Also, he didn’t cast her aside out of preference for Sansa, but out of respect for his marriage vows.

When Shae’s testimony is over, it’s clear that Tyrion has had it with this whole trial. It was one more hurtful jab than he could handle. He says he wants to confess, and he goes into a “guilty of many things other than the crime of which he’s being accused” speech like he did in “A Golden Crown.” I still like the original better, but Peter Dinklage did make an admirable effort to chew the scenery with this one. It’s Emmy bait gold, for sure. He is now convinced that he will get no justice through a conventional trial, so once again he wants Trial by Combat. He thinks he’ll have better luck letting the Gods decide his fate.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Mindy Project 2.22: "Danny and Mindy"

“Screw you, Bradley Cooper!”

Since I’m a bit behind on blogging here, I already knew the overall reaction to “Danny and Mindy” compared to the “New Girl” season finale, “Cruise.” It seemed like the commentariat responded more positively to “Danny and Mindy,” although I think my personal feelings may differ from the norm. I’m a pretty big Jess and Nick fan, so the fact that they weren’t back together by the end of “Cruise” disappointed me a bit, but I thought that overall, that episode handled a difficult situation (Jess and Nick getting to the point where they could be around each other again) with heart and typical “New Girl” silliness. “Danny and Mindy” had the more positive outcome of the two episodes, thanks to a big moment at the top of the Empire State Building, but because of what has been done to Danny’s character over the past few episodes, that big moment didn’t make me as happy as maybe it should have.

Something that I did really like about this episode was that it was a sort of mash-up homage to Nora Ephron classics “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.” I enjoy when “The Mindy Project” really delves into its romantic comedy film roots. I feel like Mindy’s obsession with rom coms and how that is sometimes literally translated into episodes of the show is “The Mindy Project’s” real defining characteristic that sets it apart from any other show about a woman in her early 30s trying to find her way. I especially liked the big Empire State Building set piece at the end of the episode, although thinking too much about how the characters got to that point makes it lose a bit of its luster.

The set-up to this episode is that on the subway ride to work one morning, Mindy spots a hot guy reading a Salinger novel. She starts making eyes with him, and Danny notices. Danny is kind of disgusted by this, considering Mindy has rejected him and is also currently dating Charlie the cop. Mindy tries to brush the incident off as just having some fun. Later, in the local newspaper equivalent of the Craigslist missed connections section, Mindy sees a letter from a guy named “Andy” that sounds exactly like the earlier subway encounter. Mindy and Andy start an e-mail correspondence, and Mindy tells Andy that she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Finally, she feels guilty and fesses up to Charlie, who of course, since he’s an intuitive kind of guy (and he saw all the messages on Mindy’s phone), already knows what’s up. He lets Mindy go without a fuss, and thus ends a relationship that might have actually been a positive thing for Mindy.

With Charlie out of the way, Mindy and “Andy” start planning a big reunion at the Empire State Building. Danny’s big plan is to reveal that he is actually “Andy,” and he thinks this will make Mindy take him back. This is the crux of the issue I have with this whole plotline. Danny is so whiny and self-centered. Charlie was really good for Mindy and was helping her grow and become more self-sufficient. Danny just wants what feels good. He coddles Mindy and indulges her neediness. He’s so focused on what he wants and can’t see what is best for Mindy. He’s damn whiny about it, too. Danny is frantically trying to get ready for the big Empire State Building meet-up when Mindy stops by his apartment because she needs help cutting gum out of her hair (why is she so helpless!). This puts a crimp in his plan because he wanted his identity as Andy to be a surprise. While at Danny’s apartment, Mindy talks about how she understands why Danny broke up with her. This freaks Danny out and causes him to second guess his plans, so he stands Mindy up.

Mindy comes down with a bad cold from waiting at the Empire State Building in the cold and rain, and when Danny finds out, he feels bad and wants to make her feel better. He stops by Mindy’s apartment to deliver some chicken noodle soup and his copy of the Guinness Book of World Records (the two things Castellanos need to feel better on the rare occasions when they get sick). Mindy is happy to spend the afternoon hanging out with Danny, and when she gets better, this expands to Danny and Mindy showing each other their version of New York (rom com hotspots for Mindy and Staten Island for Danny). There’s a voice over from Danny explaining that he was hoping to make Andy a distant memory. That plain is derailed, though, when Mindy and Danny run into “Andy” on the subway again. Mindy confronts him and finds out that he’s actually a random European grad student. Danny is forced to admit that he is actually “Andy,” and Mindy’s reaction is not good.

Mindy is devastated that Danny could have done this to her, and when Danny discovers that she’s crying in the ladies room at Shulman and Associates, he decides to try and make things better. Mindy gives Danny the talking-to he really deserves for pulling that stunt. She says that no, she can’t take him back, because she’s afraid that he’ll love her until he doesn’t again. Understandably, she can’t trust him. The fact that he staged the whole “Andy” thing doesn’t exactly help with the trust issues, either. I’m glad that Mindy finally stood up for herself with Danny (or any guy in general, really). I think I’d like to chalk that up to Charlie’s good influence. Mindy is finally seeing herself as a person with agency. In one last-ditch effort, Danny says he’s going to go to the Empire State Building again that night at 8, and he’ll wait all night for Mindy if he has to.

When the time comes, Mindy is in her office working. The office had already figured out what was going on, and they decide to try and convince Mindy to meet up with Danny after all. Peter is the one who actually makes the argument. He shows Mindy a box that he found in Danny’s office. The box contains keepsakes that are important to Danny, including a pair of Mindy’s earrings. Mindy heads to the Empire State Building to find out that the elevator isn’t working. She starts hiking up all 100+ flights of stairs. Meanwhile, the rest of the staff are out on the town celebrating their matchmaking when they find Danny in his go-to pizza place. It turns out he bailed on the Empire State after waiting for Mindy for an hour. Idiot. When he finds out Mindy is actually on her way, he makes a dash for the Empire State Building. The elevator is working by that point, so they actually arrive around the same time. Danny finds Mindy lying down on the observation deck, trying to regain her breath. They decide that they are officially a couple, and they immediately start bickering about how many kids they want to have.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

New Girl 3.23: "Cruise"

“I don’t want a refund on my cruise, and I don’t want a refund on you!”

This year’s “New Girl” season finale had a lot to accomplish. Nick and Jess were in a really bad place following their break-up, and some sort of equilibrium had to be restored to end the season on the typically optimistic “New Girl” note. When Nick and Jess decided they wanted to take the whole gang on a non-refundable cruise they booked when they were still together, the hopes for a positive end to the season began to wane. Despite the confined quarters (or perhaps because of it), Nick and Jess ended the episode in a better place than they started it. Overall, though, I felt like this episode didn’t pack a whole lot of punch, kind of like season 3 of the show in general. I’m looking forward to seeing where the creative team goes next year, though, now that I think they’ve worked out some of the kinks.

So, as I mentioned already, the set-up to this episode is that Jess and Nick booked a couples cruise when they were still together. Now they’re not together, but the cruise is non-refundable. Jess called the cruise line, and they agreed to “downgrade” Jess and Nick’s stateroom by letting them bring additional people along for the cruise. So the whole gang is going, in the hopes that it won’t be too terribly awkward for Jess and Nick. This can only end in tears. For real. Schmidt only agrees to go on the cruise as long as there’s a moratorium on nautical puns. The whole thing is really just an excuse to do some product placement for Zooey Deschannel’s new nautical themed clothing line for Tommy Hilfiger. And I just mentioned it here, so mission accomplished, I guess? Well it would be accomplished if anybody actually read this blog!

Anyway, Jess and Nick hoped that having the rest of the gang around would decrease the awkward created by the recent break-up, but as you would expect, things don’t quite go according to plan. The gang all tries to be super enthusiastic, which ingratiates them to the cruise director but they’re really kind of obnoxious. Oh, and Coach is afraid of boats, apparently. His freak-out during the life boat demonstration was pretty entertaining and shows just how good Damon Wayans, Jr. is at physical comedy. The room where everybody is staying is pretty tiny, and it has six beds crammed in. Schmidt is unhappy about this because he had a big plan to win Cece back, and the accommodations aren’t exactly prime for make-up sex. Schmidt’s plan is further derailed when the “you passed your GED” class ring he commissioned for Cece ends up at the bottom of the ocean following a cruise director-instigated tickle attack (the cruise director was trying to cheer Schmidt up).

The extent of how awkward this is going to be for Jess and Nick is apparent early on, when Jess freaks out over Nick appearing to flirt with the ship’s female captain. Jess and Nick, however, double down on their “we’re going to get over the awkward by spending a ton of time together” strategy. They had purchased a $600 “Grand Romance” package pre-breakup, and since they don’t want to lose their money, they commit to doing all those activities anyway. There’s yoga where the instructor tells the couples to “breathe into their genitals,” a photo shoot that was really lame, a couples massage, and a towel sculpting class. Nick and Jess get through it all with a smile, but the smiles say that things are still very wrong. Nick tries to kiss Jess after they have more wine, and Jess doesn’t respond well to this at all. They decide that the best way to survive the rest of the cruise is to be on opposite sides of the boat from each other. When Winston finds this out, it makes him very sad, and he wants to try and fix things.

Meanwhile, Schmidt is still trying to unsuccessfully win Cece back. He sets up a violin player serenade and everything, but the mood is killed when Cece keeps trying to get cell phone reception. She really wants to try and call Buster (her 20-year-old boyfriend) because she wants to have a relationship that works for once. Schmidt decides (wisely) that if he really loves Cece, he should let her try to be happy. The gang then comes together to try and figure out what to do about Nick and Jess. It’s Winston, of course, who decides that the best course of action would be to put Nick and Jess in a confined space together and force them to work out their differences. Cue the Captain announcing that Nick and Jess need to return to their stateroom for a “non-life-threatening-but-necessary official maritime situation.”

The gang all assembles in the stateroom and the Do Not Disturb sign goes on the door. Once the conversation starts, Jess and Nick both admit that they’re unsure about how well living together is going to work moving forward. They’re not sure how they will react when they each start seeing other people. Admitting this sets things off in the right direction, and Jess and Nick even admit to the rest of the group that they almost kissed due to the romance overload of the Grand Romance package. Finally, they admit that they’re okay with each other now. The gang wants to go enjoy the newfound peace, but there’s just one problem. The door to the stateroom is stuck, and Coach got rid of the phone (because he thought the intervention would be much more intense). Three days later, somebody finally breaks into the room, and it looks like it’s been all “Lord of the Flies” in there. When they finally make it home, the roomies hand their picture from the newspaper (their trapped in the room incident was big news, apparently), and Schmidt and Nick decide to bunk together.

2014 Pilot Preview: "Girl Meets World"

“If this is my world, then the first person I want in it with me is you.”
- Riley Matthews

You may have heard that Disney Channel has been developing a spin-off of “Boy Meets World” since last year. Well it is finally (almost) upon us. I was a big fan of BMW and have decided to do a complete series rewatch over the summer. But the more important point is I was really stoked for this new project. With every casting announcement about who was coming back, it just really brought back the nostalgia. So without further ado, let’s gets get to the recap!

We enter upon thirteen-year-old Riley Matthews and her best friend Maya. They are going to sneak out of the house and take the subway to school which is really not cool with Riley’s parents, Cory and Topanga. In fact, just as the girls crawl out the window, they find Cory waiting for them on the fire escape. He tells Riley that when she makes the world hers, she can take the subway but that he and Topanga will always be there for her. The girls’ ride to school is eventful, as Riley tries to flirt with a cute boy (including tumbling into his lap and then the older woman who makes Riley give up her seat). Very amusing. The woman probably won’t be seen again after this episode but I thought she provided some comic relief.

At school, we learn that Cory has become a history teacher and of course, the girls are in his class. And they’re late! No sooner do they take their seats than hot guy from the subway, Lucas, appears. Cue the swooning preteen girls! Now some people have accused the episode of being too preachy and trying to force life lessons down the viewers’ throats. However, I think they handle it pretty well. Cory wants the kids to write a 3-page essay about something they believe in so strongly they’d fight for it (vaguely tying it into the lesson on the Civil War). Maya, being the rebel that she is, refuses to do the homework and walks out of class. Riley, thinking she wants to be just like Maya, follows suit. The theme of this episode is really about being yourself and we see that father and daughter are a lot more alike than Riley wants to admit. Maya lands herself in detention the next day by setting off the sprinkler system with a sparkler. Maya thinks that Cory wants her and Riley to not be friends anymore after he gives her a big speech in the hallway about her taking things too far. But I’m pretty sure that’s not what he wants. And Riley refuses to let that be what happens. She refuses to “break up” with Maya on the subway and the woman from the morning the other day is cheering them on. Ultimately, Riley decides to be herself because she now gets that she and Maya are supposed to be different. And so, Cory and Topanga let the girls ride the subway and go wherever they want. At the very end, as everyone is happily heading home, we get a glimpse of the always loved Mr. Feeny. It’s unclear if he was real or not but I appreciated the little cameo.

Now we do meet Riley’s little brother, Auggie who is kind of cute but doesn’t have much to do in the episode. And we are also introduced to Farkle, the sort of Minkus character. I have to say I am not a fan of Farkle. I don’t have very strong memories of Minkus right now but Farkle is just annoying and I don’t quite understand why Cory lets the kid take over class. But I guess you do kind of need that awkward sort-of friend in the mix as well. I did think the writers did a remarkable job mirroring some of the relationships, especially with Riley and Maya being a female version of Cory and Shawn.

I went back and rewatched the pilot of “Boy Meets World” to get a better comparison of how the two shows hold up next to one another. I have to say I think they did a really good job evoking a lot of the feeling of the pilot episode. Some of the dialog presentation, especially between Cory and Shawn was mirrored in Maya and Riley. And they both learned life lessons. Sure Cory was learning about the importance of love and family and Riley was learning about being herself but they are both important lessons to be learned. I had to say I did laugh a little more at some of the comedic bits in Boy Meets World but that may just be because they were aimed at my generation when they were written. And I think a lot of it too was the delivery by William Daniels (Feeny). I do miss the dynamic between Cory and Eric though. Having only a younger sibling is a much different beast and we really didn’t get to see Riley and Auggie interact enough to see what kind of relationship they really have. We got a very clear picture of how Morgan and Cory interacted in the pilot.

Overall, I am looking forward to spending my summer with the Matthews family, both past and present. Some people may complain since Disney tends to water down their shows but I’m willing to get them the benefit of the doubt. The one thing I do sort of hope is that they incorporate some more modern things into the show. For instance, maybe having some LGBT characters or relationships since that is part of growing up in today’s society. Whatever they do, I fully expect the show will be a fun romp and since the writers know that they are likely to pull in a lot of people in my generation, they are going to strive to find a balance that keeps the target audience engaged but also has enough little Easter eggs for the rest of us to keep us coming back for more.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Trophy Wife 1.21: "Back to School"

“Drinking soda’s so much fun. I feel like my teeth are shrinking!”

And we have reached the penultimate episode of “Trophy wife.” “Back to School” was yet another episode that probably could have functioned as a series finale, yet we have one more episode to go. There was a Bert voice over at the end of this one and everything! We had several school related plots in this episode, hence the title. Pete, Kate, Hillary, and Warren are at a college where Hillary is attending Science Camp, and Kate agrees to accompany Jackie to Jackie’s high school reunion. Back at the Harrison homestead, Bert ends up schooling Meg’s loser boyfriend, Tevin. There are lots of good life lessons happening, and the episode was very feel-good overall.

Hillary is spending a long weekend at a college several hours away for “Science Camp.” Diane, Pete, and Warren are along for the ride, which didn’t quite make sense to me, Once Warren falls asleep in the car, Diane and Pete talk strategy. While Diane gets Hillary settled in at camp, Pete is supposed to get Warren excited about college. Diane wants Warren motivated to study so he doesn’t end up going to some for-profit diploma mill. Before they left on their college expedition, Diane made some very unkind comments to Kate about Kate’s lack of education. Kate, trying to defend herself, says that she actually has her degree (which isn’t true). This feeling of inadequacy will come into play later in the episode.

Kate retreats to what she thinks will be an uneventful weekend watching Bert, but Jackie, as she does, has already invited herself into the Harrison house. Jackie wants Kate to go with her to Jackie’s high school reunion since Sad Steve is unavailable. Kate’s a little reluctant, but when Jackie says she has already lined up a babysitter for Bert, Kate goes with it. When they get to the reunion, Kate is a little surprised that her name tag has the same last name as Jackie’s. Soon it is revealed that Jackie has been telling everyone that Kate is her wife. Jackie explains that she was kind of an outcast in high school, so she came out to seem cool. She says the 90’s were a great time to pretend to be gay. Kate sympathizes with Jackie, so she agrees to go along with the ruse.

Meanwhile, at Science Camp, Hillary starts to experience what it is like to no longer be a big fish in a small pond. I too have learned this lesson over the years, and I have learned that I thrive in the big fish, small pond scenario, so that is what I seek out. Anyway, the Science Camp kids (and Diane…when will Hillary ever start feeling embarrassed by her foolishness!) have an orientation circle where they introduce themselves by naming an academic accomplishment. Hillary goes first and mentions that she had a poem published in the school journal. She starts to feel like a very small fish when her fellow campers say they have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and have given TED talks. For once, Hillary isn’t the smartest kid in the room.

At the reunion, what starts to bother Kate isn’t that she’s pretending to be Jackie’s wife. What bothers her is that Jackie is painting Kate as a stereotypical trophy wife who has no skills other than looking good. This dovetails with Kate feeling insecure about not having her degree earlier in the episode. She even tells some of the people at the reunion that she’s an orthopedic surgeon like Diane. Kate tries to express this to Jackie, remarking that all she does is go to yoga twice a week, but Jackie doesn’t quite get it. It seems like Kate and Jackie are going to either tell everyone the truth or leave the reunion, but neither happens. Kate starts talking to one of the mean girls who gave Jackie a hard time in high school, and the conversation is so unpleasant that Kate is once again on Jackie’s side and wants to make Jackie look cool. They end the reunion by dancing up a storm and making everyone else jealous. I thought that was an interesting resolution to the plot. Kate’s not going back to school to become someone she can admire more. She’s going to try and get more comfortable with who she is.

Back at the college, Pete’s not having especially good luck getting Warren to be enthusiastic about continuing his education. Warren’s enjoyed getting all sorts of college merch, and he thinks that the way you can mix cereals in the cafeteria is cool, but he doesn’t see any of those things as reasons to go to college. He can put chocolate milk on his cereal at home, after all. Pete knows his kids, though, and he takes Warren to the perfect lecture to get Warren interested in college. “From Rambo to Bambi: Violence in Cinema.” Warren thinks this lecture is pretty great, and just as he’s getting enthusiastic about college, Hillary is getting discouraged. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

Meanwhile, back at the Harrison ranch, Meg and her ridiculous boyfriend Tevin are Bert’s “babysitters.” The whole thing is a disaster, as you’d expect. Bert invites a friend over, and things just keep going downhill from there. Meg and Kevin really just want to make out or have sex (there’s a funny bit where they just randomly decide they should have a kid), but Bert and his friend keep demanding their attention. Tevin acts like the kids are his new best friends, which is kind of sad, really. He’s actually really getting on Bert’s nerves, though, and Bert (unsuccessfully) begs Meg to get him to leave. There’s a cute bit near the end where Bert voiceovers about moving through different phases of life, and it turns out to be Bert giving a speech to try and convince Tevin to make friends his own age.

Again at college, Hillary is still freaking out about not being the smartest person in the room. She seems completely shaken by the experience. She’s binging on French fries, and it’s not pretty! Warren sits down to eat with Hillary, and he starts giving her what sounds like a pep talk about the smartest, bravest girl he knows. That girl turns out to be Katniss from “Hunger Games,” but it seemed kind of sweet at the time. We learn from the montage that plays along with Bert’s speech to Tevin that Warren and Hillary sort of settle in at college watching a movie on campus. They will be okay. The episode ends with Pete and Kate kicking Meg and Tevin out of their bed, because Meg and Tevin are just gross.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Game of Thrones 4.05: "First of His Name"

“He’s only a boy. A good boy, a decent boy. He always has been. Who was the last decent King, I wonder? He could be the first man who sits on that throne in fifty years to actually deserve it.”

“First of His Name” was one of the more disjointed episodes of this season of “Game of Thrones” thus far, covering action in King’s Landing, the Vale, the North, and many other places in between and far away. Usually I get frustrated by these extremely fragmented episodes, because I’d just like to settle into one story and live in it for a little while. For this episode, however, I didn’t mind so much. Each of the individual vignettes was compelling enough that I want to move on to the next episode to find out what happens next in all of them. Now half-way through the season, all of the many plots are really starting to heat up. It is hard to believe that we’re already half-way through the season, actually. It feels like we just rejoined all of these characters!

Let’s start with some of the little things happening around Westeros before we get into the three more sustained plots. Across the Narrow Sea, Dany is having a council with Jorah, Ser Barristan, and Daario to plan out their next moves. Daario has procured a whole Navy for Dany, and she’s not as thrilled about it as one might think she would be. Jorah thinks that since Joffrey has died, now would be the perfect time to take Westeros. There is bad news also, though. Two of the cities Dany conquered have fallen back into the hands of slavers. Dany decides that since she named herself Queen over Slaver’s Bay, she needs to do right by the people and rule. She needs to learn how to hold on to smaller pieces of territory before she can even think of ruling the Seven Kingdoms. Smart girl, that Daenerys.

Two pairs of travelers also feature in a few short scenes. First, there’s Arya and the Hound. We first see them as they’re trying to fall asleep. Arya has to say her list of people she wants to kill before she sleeps, and the Hound finds this annoying. Surprisingly, when Arya tells the Hound the purpose of the list, and he finds out he’s on it, he is surprisingly chill about it. I guess he doesn’t think she’s much of a threat yet. Later, the Hound sees Arya practicing the dance-like sword play that Syrrio taught her, and the Hound thinks it’s kind of ridiculous. They have a painful conversation where the Hound tells Arya that Syrrio was killed in the battle of King’s Landing simply because his opponent had armor and “a big fucking sword.” The second pair is Brienne and Poddrick, who provide a little comic relief for the episode. Podrick is a terrible squire (he can’t even cook), but Brienne finally has a little begrudging respect for him once Podrick tells her how he killed someone in the Battle of Blackwater Bay to save Tyrion.

As always, there is plenty of intrigue happening in and around King’s Landing in this episode. The episode overall opens on Tommen’s correnation as King. Cersei catches Tommen and Margaery exchanging friendly smiles, and she immediately goes to work. I thought Cersei was going to try and shut Margaery down, but instead she has a very frank discussion with Margaery over how soon the Margaery/Tommen wedding can take place without looking disrespectful to Joffrey. Cersei also admits that she knew Joffrey was a monster (and Margaery is better off without him), but he was her first born, so there was nothing she would do about it.

Cersei goes to Tywin to discuss the particulars of the upcoming weddings. Margaery and Tommen’s wedding will happen in a fortnight, and Cersei and Loras’ wedding will happen a fortnight after that. Cersei and Tywin then have a very interesting conversation about the Lannister finances. Apparently the last Lannister gold mine went dry several years ago, and the Crown is currently being propped up by the Iron Bank of Braavos. Because of all the debt, Tywin says it is necessary that the Lannisters have a very strong alliance with the Tyrells. Still perhaps holding on to some hope that she won’t actually have to marry Loras, Cersei implores Tywin to find someone at the Iron Bank he can talk to and get them out of this mess. Twyin says that like all long-established institutions, however, there is no one “person” who can solve their problem at the Iron Bank. Cersei also has a very sad conversation with Prince Oberyn where they talk about their kids. Cersei wants Oberyn to take a boat she commissioned down to Myrcella in Dorne. Oberyn assures Cersei that Myrcella is well looked after and happy, but Cersei doesn’t quite seem to believe it.

The thing I liked most about this particular episode was that we got our first glimpse of the Eyrie in quite some time (since season 1 maybe?). It’s a kind of starkly beautiful place populated with a bunch of batshit crazies. That makes for good television! We see Littlefinger and Sansa arrive at the gates to the Eyrie. Sansa is instructed to cover her hair so that no one will recognize her for the fugitive she is. Interestingly, the guards at the gate know Littlefinger and enthusiastically let him enter the Eyrie. Lysa recognizes Sansa, and she assures Sansa that because she is a blood relation, she is more than welcome at the Eyrie, even if she is a fugitive.

When Sansa leaves the room, Littlefinger and Lysa start snogging, and we soon begin to understand the truth of their relationship. They have been sleeping together for years now (remember Littlefinger is an old Tully family friend). Through their conversation, we learn that Lysa, under Littlefinger’s direction, is actually responsible for Jon Arryn’s death, the event which sets off the whole chain of events we’ve been watching for the past four years. I was shocked by this, and I haven’t been shocked by anything on “Game of Thrones” for years thanks to the overexuberance of people who read the books before watching the show. It was kind of fun and squicky at the same time. Now that all the King’s landing business has calmed down, Lysa wants to get married to Petyr right away. He’s hesitant, she’s insistant. Poor Sansa has to hear Lysa’s wedding night screams from elsewhere in the castle later that night. Ew.

The next day, Lysa, who had seemed welcoming (which should have been suspect to me, considering we know she’s completely batshit) starts interrogating Sansa. Lysa starts complaining about how Littlefinger always preferred Cat, and she starts wondering why exactly Littlefinger was so insistent on rescuing Sansa. She accuses Sansa of having a sexual relationship with LIttlefinger, and a very tearful Sansa keeps reassuring her aunt that she is both a virgin and a terrible liar. Lysa finally believes Sansa, although Lisa believing isn’t much better. She crazily tells Sansa that soon she will be a widow (since everyone assumes Tyrion will hang for killing Joffrey), then she can marry Lysa’s equally crazy son Robin and become Lady of the Vale. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, eh Sansa?

We wrap up this episode with a whole lot of strangeness going down in the North at Craster’s Keep. Locke scouts the keep, and since he is apparently (I didn’t pick up on this at first) a minion of Roose Bolton whose mission is to kill all remaining Starks, he’s up to no good. He tries to divert Jon and company away from where he plans to take Bran. Meanwhile, Bran, Jojen, and Meera talk about how Bran’s destiny is with the Godswood tree Bran has been seeing. The mutineer leader (who is a real slimeball) comes into the hut where the three are held and starts threatening to rape Meera (because what else to people do in Westeros). The Mutineer leader is interrupted by the beginning of the Night’s Watch attack. In the middle of the chaos, Locke almost succeeds in nabbing Bran, but Bran enters Hodor’s mind and gets Hodor to kill Locke. So that warg thing has actually come in handy for once, instead of just providing interesting fodder for cinematographers!

Now free, Bran toys with the idea of reuniting with Jon. Jojen cautions against this, though. Jon would just take Bran back to Castle Black, and Bran wouldn’t be able to fulfill his destiny. Bran and company free Summer and head off in search of the elusive three-eyed raven that Bran has been seeing in his visions. Elsewhere in Craster’s Keep, Jon starts fighting the skeevy mutineer leader, and with an assist from one of Craster’s wives, he is successful in killing the slimeball. Jon is then reunited with Ghost, which is quite sweet. Jon and the rest of the Watch offer Craster’s wives the opportunity to come with them to Castle Black, but the wives want to make their own way. After burning Craster’s Keep to the ground, of course.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Upfronts Round-up 2014: Top Picks

This past week was Upfronts Week, where representatives from all the television networks tried to sell advertisers on their programming plans for next season. The goal of Upfronts is to get advertisers to buy lots and lots of commercial time, and this is accomplished through schedule announcements, trailers for new shows, and opportunities to hob nob with celebrities. Upfronts week is exciting for us TV fans, because it’s the first time we get a taste of what we may enjoy next season. Based on watching the trailers for all the new shows that have been released, here are five shows that I think may be worth a watch next year.

Midseason on ABC

Galavant will air during this winter’s “Once Upon a Time” hiatus. Alan Menken (“Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and many other things of awesome) is the composer for this medieval musical that seems to be in the spirit of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and “Spamalot.” Galavant was a celebrated knight until a very silly King (“Psych’s” Tim Omundsen) stole away the love of his life (she wanted fame and fortune more than true love). Now, the Princess of Valencia needs Galavant’s help to save her kingdom, and this might just be an opportunity for Galavant to get his mojo back.

There’s usually that one trailer every Upfronts Week that makes me go “OMG, I need to see this show RIGHT.NOW.” For 2014, Galavant is that show. It feels like a lot of things and people whose work I love (“Spamalot,” “Pushing Daisies,” Alan Menken, Tim Omundsen) all rolled up in one. The music is fantastic, and Omundsen especially hits just the right mix of evil and comedic with his performance. My insta-love for “Galavant” worries me, however. Musicals on television can be hit or miss. When the plot is about the music itself (“Glee,” “Nashville”), it usually works. When it’s not, however (“Viva Laughlin”), there’s usually trouble. “Galavant” will probably burn brightly for a short while, but it should be a fun ride.

Tuesdays at 8 on ABC

“Selfie,” a half-hour comedy, appears to be a “My Fair Lady”/”Pygmalion” update. Karen Gillan (Amy Pond from “Doctor Who”!) stars as social media obsessed pharma girl Eliza Dooley. After an unfortunate incident involving getting sick on a plane, Eliza wants to be beautiful both inside and out (instead of beautiful on the outside and “butt” on the inside), so she enlists the help of Henry Higgins, someone who is actually good at his job. Henry is going to teach Eliza how to be a decent person (his first lesson is to have Eliza learn her receptionist’s name), and I’d bet there’s going to be some romance along the way as well.

I’ll be honest, I was originally turned off by the title “Selfie” all on its own. But if you can get through the full trailer, you can see that this show might have more depth than it originally lets on. I know much of my nerd brethren is upset that Karen Gillan is playing someone so vapid, but it doesn’t really bother me. I’m an objectively smart person (two advanced degrees, a good job) who has some nerdy interests, but something you might not know is that I also have an encyclopedic knowledge of celebrity gossip (I’d be rich if I had money for all the times somebody said “how do you even know that!” to me when I rattle off a fact about a celebrity). So interest in celebrity culture does not, by itself, make one permanently vapid. I also think Gillan and John Cho have great chemistry, and I have enjoyed previous work from both of them. I feel like there’s the potential for there to be a lot going on under the surface here.

The Flash
Tuesdays at 8 on the CW

“The Flash” is DC Television’s spinoff of “Arrow.” You may recall seeing Barry Allen (“Glee’s” Grant Gustin) in a short multi-episode story arc in the middle of the latest season of “Arrow.” It’s no surprise that particular story arc was actually a backdoor pilot of sorts for “The Flash.” By the end of the arc, Barry, a nerdy, absent-minded scientist, had been struck by lightning in his home town of Central City. From the trailer for “The Flash,” it looks like that lightning strike gave Barry his super speed, and he’s going to rely on his good friend/Arrow Oliver Queen for some advice on taking up the superhero mantle.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Gustin’s portrayal of Barry Allen in “Arrow,” mostly because he played a rather loathsome character on “Glee” a few years ago, and I just couldn’t get past that. Seriously, Sebastien was just awful! If “Arrow” is any indication, however, the DC Television team knows what they are doing when it comes to translating comics into meaningful, compelling television, so I am willing to give “The Flash” a shot this fall.

Midseason on the CW

“iZombie” is one of the shows that both Sarah and I are most looking forward to, mostly because Rob Thomas, creator of “Veronica Mars” is the creative force behind it. Loosely based on the DC comic series, iZombie will feature Liv (Rose McIver), a zombie who gets a job in a coroner’s office as a slightly less morally shaky source for the brains she must eat to maintain her existence. When Liv eats a brain, she takes in the memories of the deceased, and she starts to use this ability to solve murders. It’s kind of like “Pushing Daisies” with an even more undead twist.

As we’ve stated many times here on MTVP, Rob Thomas is definitely in our pantheon of great TV showrunners, and “iZombie,” with its strong female lead, seems right in his wheelhouse. I also like the casting of Rose McIver as Liv. She’s been a lot of fun to watch as Tinkerbell in the latest season of “Once Upon a Time,” and I’ll be interested to see what she can do with the opportunity to carry a show.

Midseason on FOX

I’m not really at all into hip hop music or culture, but given the pedigree of FOX’s “Empire,” it seems worth a look. The show is the story of a hip hop mogul (Terrence Howard) who has just been diagnosed with ALS. He needs to figure out which of his two sons should inherit his music empire. Complicating things, his ex-wife (Taraji P. Henson) has just been released from prison, and she wants her share of the company back. It looks like each parent will try to shepherd one of the sons to be the receiver of the inheritance. Much family drama is sure to ensue.

When watching the trailer, I started just making a list of the big names involved in this project, and it was quite impressive. It’s directed by Lee Daniels (“Precious,” “The Butler”) and written by Danny Strong (“Game Change”…and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” if you’re a nerd like me). It stars Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Timbaland has supplied the music. Like I said, I’m not really a hip hop person, but with a pedigree like that, how can I not check it out? I never liked country music before watching “Nashville,” either, you know.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Mindy Project 2.21: "Girl Next Door"

“After a while, you don’t even miss having a boyfriend. Except when you have elective surgery to unweb your toes, and there’s nobody to take you home.”

“Girl Next Door” was all about trying to get a second chance at a romantic relationship that you really messed up. Both Danny and Peter go after ladies they’ve wronged in this one, but only one of them is successful at getting that second chance. On the flip side, Mindy showed some real character growth in this episode, and I liked that very much. I’m concerned, however, that when she inevitably gets back together with Danny, some of this character growth will regress. Danny means well when he tries to take care of Mindy, but it’s really great that Mindy is starting to learn to do some things for herself. I’m very much a “do everything myself” kind of girl, maybe to a fault sometimes. Except for cars. My motto is never do anything to my car (except pump gas . . . I’m not from New Jersey!) that I can pay somebody to do. It ends better for everyone.

The episode opens with the scene that inspired the quote of the episode. Mindy just had surgery, and she talks her way out of the doctor’s office by saying that her husband is waiting for her downstairs. She then rather unsuccessfully tries to walk home by herself. To be honest, what to do about more serious medical procedures is kind of a fear of mine as an almost-perpetually single person who really hates asking anyone for help (see above bit about cars being the only exception to this general rule). Especially since my closest family lives three hours away. Anyway, when Mindy’s wandering around New York City, she is stopped by Officer Charlie Lang (Tim Daly), who she met in the last episode. He takes her home and implies that she’s not a very independent person. This kind of gets to Mindy.

Mindy is on a mission to become more independent, and she has decided that the best starting place is to buy her own apartment. Danny wants to get involved and connect Mindy with a good broker, but Mindy really wants to do this on her own. Danny sins the argument, though, and he ends up accompanying Mindy on an apartment tour. Mindy likes the place a lot, but Danny goes through all the reasons why buying that particular place would be a huge mistake. Danny thinks he has a better alternative. He apparently owns a second apartment in his building, and he thinks Mindy should buy that apartment. Understandably, Mindy thinks this could be an awkward living situation (given their past history). Danny takes Mindy to see the apartment, though, and she’s impressed enough to start having second thoughts. That’s when Danny comes up a solution. Mindy should test drive the apartment for a week and see how strange living next door to each other really is.

Meanwhile, Peter decides to accompany Jeremy to a party of mostly British folks. Because the only consistent characteristic about Jeremy is that he’s British, you know? Peter is hoping to meet a classy British girl, since the usual ladies he hangs out with . . . aren’t so classy. As you might expect, the woman Peter is drawn to is the only other American at the party – a neurosurgeon named Lauren. They bond over seeing who can come up with better fake British-sounding names during a game of Celebrity. Peter’s a little intimidated by Lauren, but they go out on a date, and they hit it off. Peter doesn’t completely spontaneously combust when he finds out Lauren has a kid.

At first, next-door-neighbor life works out just fine for Danny and Mindy. Danny brings Mindy things from Target that she didn’t even realize she needed, and they have pizza and TV nights together. Soon, however, they’ve gotten a bit too comfortable given their situation. Mindy is saying things to Danny like she’ll “be home” in a few hours. Peter notices this, and since he’s one of the few Shulman folks who knows Danny and Mindy fooled around for a little while, he’s not pleased. He warns Mindy that Danny only encouraged her to try out the apartment in his building so that he could keep tabs on her. Mindy doubts this, but she decides to try a little experiment. She invites Charlie over so she can gauge Danny’s reaction to another guy being in her apartment.

Peter and Lauren’s relationship doesn’t really progress, and Peter finds out from Jeremy that Lauren is looking for someone a bit more mature than our favorite Dartmouth frat boy doctor. Peter’s not used to not being the catch in a relationship. Peter, perhaps thanks to the influence of his friendship with Mindy, Peter decides to go for the grand romantic gesture to win Lauren back. Can I say, by the way that I kind of like that Mindy and Peter’s relationship is really just a friendship? I’m a sucker for rom com plots, but it is nice to see people who just have a really good friendship sometimes, too. Anyway, Peter’s idea for a grand romantic gesture is kind of misguided. He interrupts Lauren in the middle of brain surgery. Yep. Brain surgery. Anyway, Amy decides to give Peter a second chance, and so we have at least one happy ending out of this episode.

Back to the Danny and Mindy saga, Charlie isn’t at Mindy’s for very long before Danny notices something is amiss and invites himself into Mindy’s apartment, too. Both Charlie and Danny are from Staten Island, and watching them try to out-Staten Island each other is rather hilarious. Their accents get thicker, and they argue over who grew up in the poorer neighborhood. Danny begrudgingly likes Charlie, though, because he has a firm handshake and makes fantastic spaghetti sauce. Mindy and Danny argue over Charlie’s presence, and Mindy ends up admitting to Danny that Charlie isn’t there on a date. Charlie is unhappy about being used just to get a reaction out of Danny, so he leaves.

Mindy decides to go out with Charlie for real (they plan a stargazing date), and when Danny finds out about it, he tries to kiss Mindy. Mindy backs away, and Danny is going to have to live with that for a little while. For now, I think Charlie is good for Mindy. He encourages Mindy to do things for herself (like use the fire extinguisher on a burning dinner), while Danny tries to coddle her. Mindy has been relying on the men in her life for so long (including having Morgan darn her jeans) that I think it will be good for her to learn to rely on herself a bit before really settling down and committing to Danny.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Person of Interest 3.23: "Deus Ex Machina"

“If you’re asking me whether I feel at ease with what I’ve created or if it was the right or the wrong thing to do, I honestly don’t know. But I designed the Machine in part because I was worried and I remain worried about what someone else might build. Someone who wasn’t worried.”
- Finch

And so we’ve reached yet another season finale. And I have to say this season has been particularly harrowing for Team Machine; losing Carter, having to fight Decima and Vigilance. And our heroes are nowhere near finished. Collier has brought in an attorney and the media and a jury to give a semblance of a fair trial but we all know that every person at the defense table is going to be found guilty. Which makes me concerned about Finch. He was doing what he did to keep people safe. The others, I don’t care if they kill them. Honestly, I’d be happy if they did. Collier calls the President’s security advisor to the stand first and ends up shooting him. I’m not sure if it was just for show or what but it kind of freaked me out.

Out in the city, everything is still dark. Shaw, Reese and her old Northern Lights nemesis are trying to find the courthouse where the trial is being held. But Shaw is worried about Root. In a kind of touching conversation between our two hard-hearted ladies, we see that Root likely won’t survive on her own by trying to take out Decima’s servers and Samaritan. So while Reese and the other dude hightail it to a designated spot, Shaw hijacks a bike and takes off to give Root some backup. I must admit, we did get some interesting character growth for Shaw this season. I’m not sure what we got with Root exactly but she’s slightly less antisocial I suppose.

We jump back to 2010 briefly where we see Collier become who he is and get roped in by Vigilance. I get why he’s doing it and everything but I still don’t like him. In the present, the next witness to be called is the Senator. He survives his time on the witness stand, however, because he admits he didn’t start Northern Lights but was read into it after it came to be and he was responsible for cleaning up the mess. Oh and both Control and the head of Decima are trying to protect Finch’s identity as the creator of the Machine. Very interesting I must admit.

Out on the streets, Reese and ex-Northern Lights guy end up meeting up with Fusco and Bear. I want Bear to go bite some Vigilance jerks. The boys need to head off to a sporting goods store to get some gear. And they also figure out that Vigilance is using diversions to keep the cops occupied and not watching the trial or trying to stop it. Well, with Lionel on the case now (in his awesome hummer thing), we might have a shot at rescuing the brains behind the Machine. And Root is almost toast at the Decima facility but Shaw saves her. I think it’s a little weird that they are flirting so much but it kind of fits their characters so I’m okay with it. They steal RFID chips and manage to get by security (although Shaw has a little bit of trouble). I can’t wait to see what Root and her boys did to the servers. They plug in the new servers and now they just wait. And thanks to some quick thinking by Reese and his cohort, they find a Vigilance guy, show him a map and he ends up showing them where the courthouse is. Oh and Bear totally got to tackle the guy!

We jump back in time again, this time to 2012, where we see that Vigilance wants Collier to step up his game. He thinks they go bigger and go after the people directly responsible. So that is what turned him on to Northern Lights. Well crap! It seems Control is going to protect Finch until the very end. She denies knowing anything about the design or location of the Machine but the jury finds her guilty with a sentence to be carried out immediately. And of course, the writers have to go and make me feel a twinge of sympathy for her. Before they shoot her, she puts a few questions to Collier. She wants to know where he was when the third plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11. She was in the thick of it, carrying out wounded and covering up bodies. What she did was to protect her country. He’s not really moved by her speech. But it seems Finch can’t sit by and watch these people die to protect him.

After another trip to the past (2013) where Collier shoots an FBI agent undercover, we get Finch’s exposition about why he built the Machine. He tries to explain that the closed system was supposed to protect people’s rights and that he’s constantly worried about what would happen if someone built something else who wasn’t worried about these types of protections. He is looking directly at the head of Decima. I have to hope that Samaritan never comes online and maybe next season we get back to basics a little with helping people. Reese and the other guy get to one of the guard posts outside the courthouse and this prompts Vigilance to move the trial elsewhere.

Things quickly escalate and take a turn for the weird. While Reese and his cohort are trying to take out as many Vigilance and Decima guys as they can to get to Finch, the head of Decima makes a big reveal (after Decima shows up and rescues him). It turns out the two organizations are linked and he was the one who recruited Collier. I did not see that twist coming. And to get Samaritan up online, they’re going to stage a massive tragedy on US soil. They’ve rigged a bomb to go off in the courthouse that will take out a slew of reporters, civilians and cops. It looks like Reese’s cohort might get the bomb diffused but the power comes back on and the place goes boom. I really hope Reese and Bear are okay. They can’t kill off Bear. He’s like the best part!

One of Decima’s guys shoots Collier and is about to shoot Finch when Reese and Bear come to the rescue. Unfortunately, the little demonstration worked and Samaritan comes online for good. Things are going to change for everyone because our heroes are seen as threats. Root has created new identities for them and we learn that the seven servers she stole and modified are each protecting one of them (plus the three hackers she was working with). They have to go their separate ways and assume the new lives to stay alive. It was definitely not an ending I was anticipating but I think it provides an interesting landscape going into season 4.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.22: "Beginning of the End"

“But Fury always said, a man can accomplish anything when he realizes he’s a part of something bigger. A team people who share that conviction can change the world. So what do you say, you ready to change the world?”
- Coulson

Welcome to the season finale folks. If you missed the news, SHIELD is coming back for season 2 and will be continuing its adventures on Tuesdays at 9pm. We start the season finale with a guy being brought in on a sort of job interview. It quickly becomes clear that the company he’s come to work for is Cybertech (aka the guys helping Hydra). In fact, we get a demonstration of some soldiers attacking Coulson and company. Somehow May gets hold of the Berserker staff and brings the house down. Luckily, Skye did her hacking thing and they now have access to the systems on the plane. And Coulson reports that the tracker is on the plane but FitzSimmons isn’t answering. That’s probably because they are 90 feet down in the ocean. Poor Fitz broke his arm and he’s spent the last hour determining that there’s no escape and he ad Simmons are going to die. Now might be a good time for him to point out he’s in love with her. They share a little sad banter about death (and some really sweet stuff about being cast out into the universe since energy is not created or destroyed) when Simmons realizes that the glass is still intact and they might be able to rig something to blow it and escape the pod.

Back on the plane, Garrett is going kind of loopy. He’s seeing the world in a whole new way thanks to the miracle drug and he says that plans have changed and gotten bigger. Ward is a little skeptical of his boss’s change of mood and personality but he’s willing to go with it for now. Yeah, I know some people want Ward redeemed. Personally, I want him to die painfully. Ward is concerned about Garrett so he sends Raina to talk to him and she asks him what she’s going to become (after he rambles on a bit about how the drug awakened his mind).

Coulson and company are getting ready to take out Garrett once and for all and Coulson gives a rousing speech about changing the world. Good man, that Phil! He and Triplett steal a hummer with some rocket launchers while Quinn tries to sell some of Cybertech’s inventions (aka the super soldier program) to the US government. Garrett interrupts as our boys are blowing holes in walls with rockets. He’s really lost his mind. He ends up killing a US military General and Ward looks on kind of disgusted and shocked at his mentor. Ward is furious that Quinn and Raina are taking the gravitonium and that Garrett seems to be happy in la la land. Raina tells him that Skye is the key to the future changing and Garrett finally gives Ward orders to go get Skye.

Meanwhile, Skye and May bust into the control center for the super soldiers and reset the default directive which is now to protect our team at all costs. Bet you didn’t that one coming, Garrett! But during a gloating phone call to our villain, he does drop the bomb on Skye that FitzSimmons in deep trouble. We cut to our geeky duo and Fitz explains that there’s enough air in a compressor to give Simmons a breath to get to the surface. He’s ready to be left behind and he does finally admit his feelings to her. But she won’t leave him behind. They blow the window and she pulls him to the surface. Just as things look bleak for them, a helicopter appears and we get the triumphant return of the not so dead, slightly less hobo looking Nick Fury.

Simmons wakes up in a decompression chamber and we learn that Fitz is in pretty bad shape, having been oxygen deprived for a while. But the beacon he rigged up led Fury right to them and now they need to go find Coulson. While May and Ward literally duke it out with power saws and nail guns, Skye is using the incentive program to find their ace in the hole (quite literally Mike’s son, Ace). It seems that Skye has been communicating with Mike the whole time lately. Coulson finds Garrett and then Fury shows up and I have to say I want more of Fury and Coulson tag team. First Coulson blasts all the soldiers with an epically big gun. And then they trade barbs with Garrett. The good guys are just hilarious! Things are looking up for our team as May beats Ward to a pulp, including nailing his foot to the floor. And then thanks to Skye getting a message to Mike, he turns on Garrett and does him in. I know it probably isn’t in the budget but damn I want more Coulson and Fury. They are awesome together.

Garrett attempts to resurrect himself and go all super soldier but Coulson finds one of the alien artifacts and blows him up. I cheered. It was amazing. And Fury give Coulson the keys to the kingdom. He’s letting Phil rebuild SHIELD. And Coulson gets to yell at Fury for bringing him back and we get to the point that every person is worth saving. That’s pretty awesome. And Mike takes off to make amends for his son and be with him. I’m glad he was redeemed. I’m not even sure I care what happened to Ward. Coulson and the team reunite with Simmons (and Fitz is at least alive) at a new secret base and Patton Oswalt is back but not as the agent we saw at the other one. I have to wonder if he is a Life Model Decoy! I have a feeling it is actually which is kind of cool because I know some people thought Coulson was one for a while. We see Raina going to a secret base of her own with a picture of Skye. It seems at least one of her parents is alive. And we end the season on a disturbing note. Coulson is redrawing whatever Garrett did on the plane except it is on a huge wall. Please tell he’s not going crazy, too!

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Girl 3.22: "Dance"

“That means he was seven when ‘Good Will Hunting’ came out. Seven, Cece!”

“Dance” was the first episode of “New Girl” to try and deal with the more medium/long term effects of the Jess and Nick breakup. Coolidge Middle School is having a dance, and newly minted Vice Principal Jess is determined that it’s going to be the best dance ever. Obviously a school dance is going to dredge up feelings about her breakup with Nick, but in actuality, Jess really doesn’t have much time to wallow in this episode, because things keep going wrong at the dance. It turns out that all of the roomies (except Coach, because Coach is always awesome) are pretty terrible chaperones. It was a goofy episode in the way that only an episode of “New Girl” can be, which means that overall, I approve!

Like I said, in this episode, Jess is planning a dance for her middle school kids. When she mentions this to the guys (minus Nick), their reaction is to want to hug her. They think that Jess getting to into wanting to plan this dance has to be tied somehow to her breakup with Nick. The woman is painting a banner that says “Love is forever and ever and ever” (with twelve “evers”). It’s kind of sad, really. She wants to celebrate the innocence of early love and make all the kids think that they really will find that “forever” love. Jess didn’t fare too well at her own middle school dances (neither did I, Jess, neither did I), and she wants better for the kids at her school. Jess will be fighting an uphill battle, though. She chose teachers who have specifically never volunteered for any extra assignments before to be chaperones, and as you might expect, this leads to a very unenthusiastic group of chaperones. They don’t even like the “Chaperone” hats Jess made for them.

Jess should have had a clue that things would go wrong, because it’s a rare middle schooler who doesn’t feel horribly awkward at dances. It’s kind of a rite of passage, right? Anyway, at school on the day of the dance, Jess talks to a girl named Wendy. Wendy is wearing a scary shark t-shirt, and she doesn’t intend to change into anything different for the dance. She doesn’t want to go to the dance, but her parents are forcing her. Jess tries to convince Wendy that the dance will be fun. Wendy seems dubious. That evening, when Jess arrives to finish preparations for the dance, she finds that the door to the gym is padlocked. The custodian says that he didn’t put the lock on the door, so he can’t help. Since it looks like there may be no dance happening, Jess’ handpicked chaperone team starts to disperse almost immediately. Jess calls the bar for reinforcements.

Before Jess’ call, the guys had been sitting around the bar with Cece as bartender. They’re giving Cece a hard time about dating a twenty-year-old “boy.” They try to make the case that they are all “men,” but as we’ll see through the rest of the episode, they aren’t exactly the most mature man to ever do man stuff. Anyway, since the chaperones are mostly gone, Jess calls the guys (and Cece) for help, and they all want to prove they are manly enough to be middle school dance chaperones. Coach was already going to be a chaperone (since he works at the school and all), so he takes on the job of chaperone commander, of sorts. He gives all the guys jobs to do. Winston is supposed to take all the sexual tension out of the room just by being himself (it’s a special talent of his that Jess and Nick have been using to make their living situation less awkward), Schmidt is supposed to man the refreshment table, and Nick is supposed to patrol the parking lot for stragglers.

Each of the guys fails at their assignment in rather epic fashion. I’ll get to that in a minute, though. What’s important to know is that while all the epic failure is going on, the dance keeps being sabotaged on a greater level. The power goes out, and Jess finds glue in the breaker box. Jess wastes some time trying to find the culprit, and if the locked door didn’t make everyone lose interest in the dance, the power outage got to the rest of them. The whole event is kind of miserable. The culprit turns out to be Wendy. She’s afraid that none of the boys will dance with her, and she’ll look like an idiot. Jess and Cece give Wendy a good talk about how boys are stupid, but sometimes they’re worth it anyway.

Anyway, I mentioned earlier that each of the guys fail epically at their chaperone assignments. Winston was supposed to diffuse all sexual tension. Somehow, though, he’s teenage girl bait. Winston spends most of the episode running from an ever-increasing crowd of teenage girls. Schmidt gets into a war of words with an especially precocious teen. Schmidt tries to be the adult in the situation (if it’s possible to be an adult after repeatedly insulting a teenager), but they ultimately decide (at Schmidt’s insistence, of course) to resolve their dispute via a footrace.

Nick is probably the worst chaperone failure of the bunch. He does indeed discover two stragglers in the parking lot, but in an effort to infiltrate their ranks from within, he pretends to be a slacker student and gets way too involved in their games. They first have a contest involving drinking a mix of every type of soda from the machine, and they ultimately decide to play around with a nearby shopping cart. By the end of the episode, the parking lot is full-on pandemonium. Schmidt’s footracing, Winston’s trying to escape the screaming girls, and Nick’s being pushed around in the shopping cart. Coach sees the pandemonium and immediately puts a stop to it.

Once all the craziness in the parking lot has been calmed down, Jess and Cece have an idea for how to save the dance. The guys are going to provide the musical entertainment. What ensues is a rather awesome rap battle between Winston, Nick, and Schmidt. I liked Nick’s performance the most. He tried to do a Chicago shout-out, then read the room and realized none of the kids would care about Chicago. Since they’re still in middle school, the vast majority of them are all, presumably, from Los Angeles. Anyway, the whole thing ended, as good “New Girl” episodes do, with lots of joyful dancing. Nick and Jess even dance together, which I hope is a step towards them becoming more comfortable with each other again.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Once Upon a Time 3.21-3.22: 'Snow Drifts"/"There's No Place Like Home"

“When Henry brought me back to Storybrooke, I didn’t see what he was doing. He wasn’t bringing me back to break a curse. He was bringing me home.”
- Emma

We’ve made it to the finale, folks. And in case you missed it, ABC renewed the show for season 4! But on with the recap because we’ve got a lot to get through. We start eighteen years ago as a much younger Emma (even played by a different actress) watches as a little girl from her group home gets adopted. Back in the present, David and Snow explain that usually royal babies get coronation ceremonies but they’re opting for a less extravagant pot luck at Granny’s. Henry appears having found the perfect apartment and Emma quickly changes the subject to the fact that her baby brother is still nameless. Before the festivities begin, though, we find Rumple hiding away the real dagger and convincing Belle to hold on the fake. And he turns her attention to more happy matters, like their pending nuptials. And over at the Mayoral mansion, Robin and Regina are having a glass of wine by firelight and she reveals that he is the person she was destined to fall for. I can’t stand how freaking adorable the two of them are together! I just want to hug them they are so sweet.

The festivities begin and Henry is reading “Snow Falls” to his uncle while Snow and David interject and Emma watches on. They also point out that David was engaged to Abigail at one point. Oh and we’ve got Ruby back, too. I guess it helps since Intelligence got axed. But no sooner has Hook let slip that Emma is thinking of leaving town and she takes off, does Henry spy Zelena’s portal. Methinks there is going to be trouble afoot. The gang heads to the jail but Zelena’s missing. Of course we just now notice the surveillance cameras. Rumple does a little magic to make it look like Zelena killed herself to avoid suspicion falling on him. They all vow to stay away from the portal until they figure out how to close it. Hook, meanwhile, finds Emma and she explains that she’s been running her whole life and she’ll stop when she finds a place that she misses when she leaves. But it isn’t Storybrooke and with her parents. I have a feeling that’s all going to change by the end of this episode. She spies the portal too and they end up getting sucked in and deposited around the time of “Snow Falls”.

Emma surmises that time portals act like any other portal and take you to where and when you’re thinking of. She was clearly thinking of that story. They have to beat a hasty retreat from the road though because they spy some black knights. They follow them to a village where we see Granny and Gipetto amongst the villagers as Regina rants about finding Snow. Once Emma is in some more location appropriate garb (including corset and mega low cut dress) they take off and start witnessing the first time Snow and Charming met. Emma’s pretty entranced by the whole thing until she breaks a twig, which distracts Snow and makes her fall. She takes off without the jewels and David and Abigail head off via the troll bridge to get to their destination. I’d say completely screwing up your parents’ first meeting is a big change there, Ms. Swan. Good job!

Emma suggests they go find Rumple to see if he can help undo their mess. He finds them lurking outside his castle and tries to kill Hook (as the pirate warned Emma he might) but she convinces Rumple that they are from the future and she knows about Bae and she confirms that he finds his son. But they do have that hiccup about her parents not meeting. He takes them to his castle and Emma tries to explain that the marriage between David and Abigail isn’t supposed to happen. She tries to show him the book but it’s blank. Whoops. Meanwhile, we see Snow trying to secure passage through Blackbeard but he turns her down. Rumple agrees to help get the portal back to the future open but it’s up to Emma to fix the mess up of her parents not meeting. Which means they’ve got to go to a ball at King Midas’ castle. Oh lord, Emma in a fairytale ball gown. This is going to be hilarious.

Before we get to the ball, we need to find a way to get Snow there. And if she needs passage, Hook has a plan. He’s going to get her on the Jolly Roger and secure her services while Emma keeps time period appropriate Hook busy. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in my life as Emma uses her boobs to great effect and fakes getting drunk. Unfortunately she can’t keep him off the Jolly Roger forever and poor Mr. Smee is so damn confused by the Captain’s changing vests. Emma’s trying to give the other Hook a chance to get off the ship by snogging drunk Hook but it doesn’t work and Hook just punches himself out. I never thought I’d say this but two Hooks are better than one. Oh sweet lord I laughed so hard.

Emma and Hook get into the ball thanks to Rumple’s magic invite and a wardrobe change. They even seem to have a little fun dancing before Abigail gets bitchy about her footwear and sends David off to fetch her more comfy shoes. Meanwhile, Snow is breaking into the castle to find the ring. And Regina shows up with her guards to I guess pay respect to the bride. Or just be a mega bitch. Snow manages to get away and Emma thinks all is set right again (Snow even clocked David in the face) but she dropped the ring on the escape. Emma picks it up and before she can get far enough to give it to Snow, Regina’s guards nab her and lock her up. She meets the woman who supposedly knew where Snow was (Emma wanted to help her out but couldn’t). They only have one more night in the clink though because everyone in the dungeon gets executed the next day. Well shit. And Snow, David and Hook (as Prince Charles) have to go rescue Emma now.

We also get a flashback to Portland in 2001 where Emma and Neal have their first drink together. It’s not all shady in a bar or anything, he breaks in to an amusement park ride and I about melted with the adorableness of it and the fact that we got a new Swanfire flashback. Emma asks about his “story” he says that he left a screwed up situation and got more screwed up. He laments that life wasn’t always bad and we find that Emma’s take on where home is comes directly from Neal (as did having a backup plan and exit strategy). I swear, I’ve gone from laughing out loud to getting weepy in this episode and it’s not even over yet.

Snow goes to get help (thanks Ruby) and the guys bond by the campfire. I laughed a little at Hook mentioning that David should remember all he’s done for Emma in the future. Ruby gets there and they sneak into the castle. Unfortunately, Emma’s already busted out thanks to another handy tip from Neal. It wouldn’t be so bad but she let the other woman go who was supposed to die the next day. Really Emma, sometimes you just have to let things happen how they are meant to. That’s kind of the point! And at this rate, we’re never going to learn what they named her baby brother!

Snow has snuck into the castle and is going to try and defeat Regina but Regina’s ready for her. She is going to burn her at the stake and the gang gets to the high window just in time to see Regina throw a fireball. Hook holds Emma as they watch. You know, I wasn’t even that annoyed by it because I kept thinking that it didn’t make sense for Emma to still be there if Snow was really dead. In fact she used some dark fairy dust to turn herself into a bug and fly off. Charming catches her and the Blue Fairy returns her to her true form. Emma is so relieved that she hugs Snow and has tears in her eyes. I think she’s finally getting it that family is where her home is and that’s Storybrooke with Snow and Charming and Henry and the baby and hell even Rumple and Regina.

Snow takes off to the troll bridge and Charming goes after her. Of course, in the first timeline, Snow used the magic dust to turn the trolls into bugs. This time she doesn’t have it. But she uses some sand and tricks the trolls so it’s all good and Emma is pretty excited that things are back on track. And apparently she and Hook are taking the woman Emma freed with them back to the future, even if it is kidnapping. Now let’s get them back to the future already! Rumple can’t make the portal work and when Emma can’t either, he locks them in his dark vault. But she realizes that she wants to be with her family and that seems to make the magic work. She opens the portal and Hook jumps through. Emma is about to go when Rumple grabs her. He’s got a forgetting potion but he wants to know what happens with Bae. So she tells him that Neal forgave his father and loved him but died to save them and that Emma loved him, too. Rumple drinks the memory potion as the portal closes and looks around all confused. I cracked up.

Emma gets back to her family and is so happy to see them she hugs David and Snow twice and calls them Mom and Dad. Progress! Now let’s get that baby a name, please. And they name him Neal which given his namesake’s cameo I should have guessed. Things should be all happy and for a brief moment, they are. Rumple and Bell get married (ugliest wedding outfit ever) and Hook and Emma have a make out session. Regina and Robin seem pretty happy, too but then we learn that the rescued woman is Robin’s wife, Marian. Regina is right pissed at Emma for ruining her other love. She warns that Emma better not have brought anything else back. Cut to the circle of doom and it fills with blue, a woman forms and she’s shooting ice from her hands. Well hello, Frozen!

Person of Interest 3.22: "A House Divided"

“The Machine, it started developing abilities I never expected. Things I hadn’t yet programmed it to do. And there wasn’t an algorithm in the world that could control its exponential growth. And by the time I figured one out, it would have been too late.”
- Finch

We start back in time in 2010 with a pair of brothers sharing breakfast at home. Things seem to be going well. One of them is in law school and the other is three weeks shy of being two years sober. Then the government has to bust in and claim national security and arrest the sober brother (who is an airline mechanic). We jump back to the present to find Reese and Shaw chasing another Decima goon. Instead of talking, he jumps off a building. According to Root, they get hefty life insurance policies for their families if they die. Creepy. And with Finch MIA, Root is taking over being the brains of the operation. As much as I love Amy Acker, I’m tired of Root being the one to call the shots. I miss Finch, damn it. While he and the head of Decima verbally spar over the rightness or wrongness of bringing Samaritan online, Root introduces our heroes to her trio of hackers. We’ve seen a couple of them before which is kind of cool. Root sends Shaw off to a hotel while she and Reese bring the hackers to a safer location. Pretty quickly they get a series of five numbers since the Machine can’t quite see what’s coming. And one of those numbers happens to be Control (aka Shaw’s old boss. The one who shut down Northern Lights a few episodes back).

While our team grapples with what to do, the head of Decima tells his Senator contact that he should convince the President to buy Samaritan. But the thing is Decima will retain control over the system and they’ll just sell the info to the government. I wouldn’t trust that either and the Senator is skeptical. But the head of Decima insists that it gives the government plausible deniability. I’m guessing he’s thinking about Vigilance. I have to say, based on what we saw at the start, I think Collier (the main guy from Vigilance) is the son of the man who the FBI arrested. We’ll see if I’m right.

Shaw slips into the hotel and ends up taking out two secret service guys. So now she’s got eyes on a meeting between the head of Decima’s Senator buddy and Control. Root and Reese are chilling in a nearby coffee shop and Reese is rather grumpy about it. Root tells him to be patient. And I guess in a way the patience pays off. First the Senator convinces Control to buy into the idea of Samaritan being owned by a third party (she was rather pissed that he was working with Decima who stole it from her in the first place). Then they have to convince the President’s right hand man in Congress. So that takes care of the third number. Their fourth number is the head of the NSA and the fifth number is still a mystery. It seems at least that the guy they really need to convince isn’t that interested. He’s still cleaning up the Northern Lights mess. But Control entices him with info on Vigilance and claims that they will strike within twenty-four hours. Well shit that’s not good at all. All the while, Shaw is crabby that she can’t kill Control yet. Back at the coffee shop, Root figures out their fifth number and she and Reese intercept him. He’s a Vigilance lackey and they take him out without too much damage (at least I don’t think anyone else was shot). And speaking of, Vigilance shows up at the hotel. I’d say Reese and Root need to get to the hotel ASAP.

Back in the creepy undisclosed location, Finch and the head of Decima resume their conversation. Finch explains that the Machine started doing things he never expected and if he’d tried to find a way to stop it, it would be too late. And he’s rather horrified that Samaritan won’t be controlled. Oh and apparently, as soon as Samaritan is live, Finch is dead. I really don’t like the head of Decima. He’s annoying and just plain evil. I want Reese to show up and put a bullet through his head.

We jump back to 2010 and we see the lawyer brother trying to find out information about his brother. The government tells him that his brother could be linked to a terrorist and shows him pictures of his brother meeting with Muslim extremists. I was wrong. It seems that the head of Vigilance is actually the brother. My bad. His brother killed himself after a while in lockup and at the funeral, we see the man he was seen meeting with. It turns out the brother was the guy’s sponsor. I can understand why Collier hates the government. He confront the people who locked up his brother but they aren’t interested in the fact they got it wrong. So that is what sets him on the warpath.

Back in the present, Root’s hacker boys find out that the virus they pulled off the Vigilance lackey is targeting the power grid. Whoops. Shaw has enough time to bust in and tell Control she’s there to save them all when all the lights go off. Reese is on his way but he’s got to move fast if they’re going to stop Vigilance. And apparently Root’s hacker team is working on a way to slow down the startup of Samaritan. She and her boys head off to Jersey while Reese and Shaw try to fend off Vigilance. Unfortunately, they get hold of Control and the other guy they were trying to convince to buy into Samaritan. And Finch is now in big trouble because it turns out the real fifth number is the head of Decima. I may have mentioned I dislike him. But we do learn that he was a kid during the Blitz and he joined the military and MI-6. He wants a better leader. He’s dangerous! Reese and Shaw encounter an old enemy at the hotel and after some posturing agree to work together to get Finch and Control. They’re too late though because Vigilance nabs the head of Decima and Finch.

Root arrives just outside of Samaritan and sends her boys on their way. It’s safer for them if they don’t go with her. Reese and Shaw get to where Finch was being held and find everyone gone. But Collier has a plan and it’s not in motion. He’s going to try the five people he’s kidnapped and I’m guessing it will all be guilty verdicts. I have to say this is going to be probably the biggest finale the show has done so far.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Trophy Wife 1.20: "There's No Guy in Team"

“Don’t you watch the news? Kids who eat plain cheese pizza die.”

Let’s all take a moment in remembrance of “Trophy Wife,” as the show’s cancellation was announced by ABC this week. We’ll still be bringing you recaps of the final episodes here at MTVP this month, but we’ll obviously be moving a different show into the blogging rotation this fall. Probably whatever new show most catches my fancy during Upfronts next week (how is it Upfronts time again already!). Anyway, if the show has to go, at least, so far, it seems to be going out on a high note. “There’s No Guy in Team” was an enjoyable episode that gave focus to each of the kids. Instead of feeling disjointed, the episode worked because each of the kids clearly had growing-up lessons to learn and made progress towards learning those lessons through the course of the episode. It all tied together very nicely. Also of note, this episode was directed by Ken Marino, of “Party Down” and “Burning Love” fame. Marino also has a guest spot in the episode as Warren’s field hockey coach (more on that in a bit).

We get to see Kate try to do some “real” parenting this week beyond just showing up to school meetings. Don’t get me wrong, parental engagement in school is incredibly important, but up until now, we’ve seen Kate struggle when trying to deal with any meaty at-home issues Pete’s kids face. The set-up is a big sleep-over party. Hillary has invited the student counsel ladies over for a working sleep-over (have I mentioned how I miss the rebellious Hillary of the pilot?), and as consolation, Warren is allowed to have one friend over as well. That friend is Diane. Warren’s mother. I thought I was kind of pathetic in high school, but this one really takes the cake. Kate agrees, and she makes it her mission to try and get Warren some more friends. She tells Meg that she doesn’t want Warren to be like a loser they remember from their own high school class. She encourages Warren to try and join some sort of extracurricular activity at school.

Meanwhile, Pete gets concerned when he sees that Bert has bought a bunch of toys and such, considering Bert is a kid and doesn’t exactly have a lot of his own money. Bert says he’s been using a credit card that showed up in the mail. Pete is shocked that a little kid would get a credit card offer, but he checks out the card, and it’s legit. The sequence of events that ensues shows how arbitrary our morality can seem to outsiders sometimes. Bert comes up with a series of moneymaking schemes after the card is taken away from him, and each of them is shot down. He sells food to his classmates at a profit and he charges for scooter rides. Pete declares that the only acceptable way for Bert to earn money is to get paid for doing chores. Bert even tries to game this by paying some friends to do the chores. Pete shoots this down too. Through all of it, he never has a coherent explanation for Bert about why all these schemes are wrong, he just says they are. By the end of the episode, Pete just buys Bert a Kelly Clarkson CD.

Hillary also has her learning arc in this episode. She got a C on an art project (the horror!) because the teacher didn’t think there was any feeling behind her technically perfect recreation of a painting. Pete and Kate think that the perfect art tutor in this situation is Jackie. Jackie, as we know, is all feeling and no technical perfection. She does an exercise where they both paint blindfolded. Hillary thinks the result is horrible. Jackie finally turns the corner with Hillary when she shows Hillary a box of Hillary’s childhood artwork that she saved. Jackie says that this artwork proves that deep down, Hillary is actually a creative person. Hillary is touched that Jackie saved her artwork for all these years, and she’s now on board with all of Jackie’s crazy art training. We see them throwing glow in the dark paint at canvasses and making a mess. By the end of the episode, they’ve pretty much thrown paint on everything in Jackie’s living room. I was happy to see Hillary let loose for once. Super driven, stick-in-the-mud Hillary isn’t a lot of fun (and she’s not really funny, either). Hillary learning to be more human (instead of a carbon copy of her mom) is a lot more interesting, and it makes sense that Jackie would be the catalyst.

Surprisingly, Warren takes Kate’s advice and finds an extracurricular activity. To Kate’s chagrin, that activity is the field hockey team, which, with Warren’s joining, has now switched from girls to co-ed. Of course Warren still has to wear a girl’s uniform, and he looks rather ridiculous in it. This isn’t what Kate had in mind, and she’s concerned that it will just make Warren even more socially isolated at school. She goes to one of Warren’s practices, and talking with the coach (Ken Marino) doesn’t help much. He’s kind of obnoxious. Warren is far from a good field hockey player, but he’s very encouraging to the girls, so they like having him around.

Kate tries to discourage Warren from continuing with field hockey, and he doesn’t take it well at all. He quits the team, but he’s very unhappy about it. Kate and Meg decide to do a little Googling of their loser classmate, and they find out he’s not such a loser after all. He’s super rich, and he’s married to a model. So he was strange in high school and turned out just fine. This makes Kate realize that Warren will probably turn out just fine too, and she starts to feel terrible about discouraging him from something he was enjoying. Kate shows up at a field hockey practice, which Warren is watching dejectedly. All the field hockey girls gather around protectively, but once Kate starts to apologize to Warren, they back off. Kate tells Warren she wants to support him in whatever he’s passionate about, and Warren rejoins the team. At the end of the episode, Warren has a big sleep-over with the field hockey girls, moving him from social pariah to the envy of every teenage boy.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Game of Thrones 4.04: "Oathkeeper"

“I will answer injustice with justice.”

“Oathkeeper” was a pretty typical middle-of-season episode of “Game of Thrones.” What distinguishes it from the previous episode is that in this one, the primary action is split between King’s Landing and the North. It was nice to take a little break from the intense focus on King’s Landing and spend a little time elsewhere for an episode. It’s interesting to see the huge battle brewing in the North that nobody in power wants to acknowledge. The Lannisters think that since they “won” the “War of the Five Kings,” they’re sitting pretty. Instead, they’ve got a rather savage army on their Northern doorstep, and the Night’s Watch is woefully unequipped to deal with it. I have a sneaking suspicion that before all is done, the Lannisters are going to wish they still had the strength of House Stark in the North.

While, like I said, most of the action in this episode takes place either in King’s Landing or the North, we start things off across the Narrow Sea in Meereen. The way Dany takes control of the city is really quite ingenious. She sends Grey Worm, leader of the Unsullied, and a few of his men into the city to rally the slaves. Grey Worm gives a big speech in support of Dany, and he also leaves the Meereen slaves with bags and bags of weapons. The next morning, the Masters of Meereen are in for a pretty nasty surprise when they find themselves surrounded by armed, angry slaves. Danny takes the city easily and appears to rally the Meereen slaves to her cause. She’s building herself quite the empire across the Narrow Sea.

Now that we’ve covered the one minor diversion in this episode, let’s get to the King’s Landing drama. Thanks to some prompting from Bronn, Jaime finally visits Tyrion in the dungeon. There’s some good-natured ribbing between the brothers where they compare Tyrion’s current imprisonment to Jaime’s being chained to a pole outside when he was with the Starks. Through this conversation, Tyrion manages to convince Jaime of his innocence, although interestingly, Jaime still won’t quite admit that Joffrey was his biological son. I never really got the impression that Jaime and Tyrion were all that close before, although Bronn did make an interesting observation early in the episode. Back in season 1 when Tyrion was on trial at the Eyrie for the murder of Jon Arryn, the first person he asked for as his champion was Jaime. Tyrion only chose Bronn because Lysa said the trial had to happen that day.

Jaime decides to try and convince Cersei that she should give up her vengeance against Tyrion, but she is having none of it. Jaime is clearly the sane one in this discussion, but given the events of the previous episode, I kind of don’t blame Cersei at all for not listening to him in this case. She’s kind of pissed off at the world right now, and she wasn’t exactly the most emotionally sound person to begin with. Cersei questioned Jaime on his allegiance to Cat Stark given the circumstances of his release (he was to be traded for the Stark daughters). This gives Jaime another idea for how he can at least save Sansa from this mess. For that, he approaches Brienne. He reminds Brienne of her oath to Lady Stark, and he also gives her one of the two swords that were forged out of Ice. Brienne names the sword “Oathkeeper” (hence the name of the episode), and she’s going to use it in her quest to find Sansa and make sure she is safe. After all, she did take an oath to serve Cat.

Speaking of Sansa, she’s still on the boat with Littlefinger. They are on their way to the Eyrie, where LIttlefinger is supposed to marry Lisa. Littlefinger is still uncomfortably close with Sansa. He’s just gross, really. In their conversation, Littlefinger admits to Sansa that he is behind Joffrey’s murder. The necklace Ser Dontos gave Sansa was a fake, and one of the stones in it contained the poison. Sansa didn’t even realize that one of the stones had been taken, but her necklace was the murder weapon, essentially. Petyr says that he murdered Joffrey because the murder was important to his “new friends.” From the subsequent scene cut, we can assume that the “new friends” are the Tyrells. Lady Olenna and Margaery have a chat out in the garden about the steps Margaery should take to ensure she’s married to Tommen. The Tyrells certainly do have social climber ambition, that’s for sure. Taking her gradmother’s advice (sort of), Margaery sneaks into Tommen’s room at night, telling him that it’s okay if they have secrets. For now, they just talk about his cat, Ser Pounce. Which is possibly the best cat name ever. If I liked cats (I’m a dog person through and through).

Up in the North, it feels like political scheming is taking place in the Night’s Watch at King’s Landing levels. With Lord Commander Mormont dead, there’s some jockeying for leadership positions going on. Alliser Thorne, who has always been kind of an ass, is Acting Lord Commander, but he feels threatened by such simple things as Jon Snow trying to help train the newest recruits. One of Alliser’s advisors suggests that he give Jon permission to take a team to Craster’s Keep. The idea being that the mutineers may solve the Jon problem nicely. While Jon is being emo about not being allowed to train the recruits, he befriends a new recruit named Locke. He’s a great fighter, so Jon likes him, but he seems pretty shady to me.

Alliser takes the advice and makes a show of allowing Jon to raid Craster’s Keep. The only catch is that the team has to be all volunteer. Jon makes a big speech at dinner and gets many, many volunteers. Probably more than makes Alliser comfortable. Jon’s got his work cut out for him, though. Bran and his crew are near Craster’s Keep, and they hear the cry of the last Craster baby to be offered to the White Walkers. Hearing the cry is soon followed by being discovered by the mutineers. Bran, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor are all captured by the mutineers who are pretty cruel and gross. Now both Ghost and Summer are being held captive, which makes me sad. At the very end of the episode, we learn what happens to the sacrificed babies. They are turned into White Walkers themselves.