Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween "Classic" Recap: Stitchers: "When Darkness Falls"

“Corn on the cob? Nothing. Corn tortillas? Bring it. Popcorn, corn chowder, corn muffins? I’m all over that. But pretend corn trying to be corn? Pass.”

Happy Halloween, everyone! For my favorite holiday of the year, I’m recapping an episode of my favorite new show of the summer, ABC Family’s “Stitchers.” Why recap a summer show for Halloween, you may ask? Well, the “Stitchers” team released a Halloween episode a couple weeks ago. It doesn’t fit anywhere in particular in the show’s timeline (so it doesn’t resolve cliffhangers we saw in the summer finale), but it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed seeing these characters on my television screen again. “Stitchers” tells the story of Kirsten Clark, a young woman who has no sense of time thanks to a failed experiment when she was a kid. Her job is to “stitch” her consciousness into people who have died to solve their murders. Kirsten’s being unstuck in time worked very well for the nowhere in particular in the timeline aspect of the episode. “Stitchers” overall feels very much like classic Syfy shows such as “Eureka” and “Warehouse 13,” and the out-of-timeline holiday episode is something those shows did as well.

We learn early in this episode that Camille is a Halloween superfan. She is known for throwing a huge bash in a creepy house every year. She is also very into decorating the small house she shares with Kirsten. Kirsten is disturbed from her nightly internet surfing by a (awesome) zombie robot out in the hall. Camille has been trying to scare Kirsten, but Kirsten insists that she doesn’t “do scared.” Cameron and Linus, coworkers from the stitchers lab and love interests for Kirsten and Camille respectively, drop by the house to show off their (pretty lame) first attempts at Halloween costumes, and they all talk more about the party. We learn the next day that Camille isn’t going to be able to have her party at the usual house, but before the gang can come up with a solution, they get a new case to investigate.

The dead body of the episode belongs to a man named Devon. He is potentially tied to the disappearance of a fellow college student named Kelly. Kirsten stitches into Devon, and it’s a rather disjointed experience. She keeps bouncing around in the timeline, much more than usual. We see one scene where Devon is patronizing the diner where Kelly works, and he awkwardly tries to talk to her about the class they are both in before just putting some cash on the table and leaving. There are some other, quicker scenes, one of which appears to be Devon talking to himself Gollum-style. What really freaks Kristen out is when he appears to address her directly in a threatening way. It scares her enough that she immediately bounces out of the stitch.

Devon has lived by himself in the spooky old family mansion ever since his parents’ death, and the gang pays a visit to see what they can learn about him. Camille thinks, especially since Devon died intestate and it’s going to take a while for the estate to officially escheat back to the State, that the house would be the perfect replacement venue for her big Halloween bash. While everyone is looking at the house from the front yard, Kirsten thinks she sees someone moving near an upstairs window, so the gang all goes inside. They see plenty of spookiness and general decrepit-ness, but nothing to suggest that someone is actively inside the house. Kirsten isn’t quite convinced, though.

Linus and Camille head out to run errands and set up Devon’s house for the party, leaving Kirsten home alone. She tries to go to sleep, leaving her bedroom window open even though it’s late October and a thunderstorm is brewing outside. I guess late October might not be all that cold in LA, but seriously, thunderstorm! She is just getting settled when she is startled by what she thinks is a vision of Devon in the window. Kirsten checks all around outside, but she’s still freaked out by what she saw, so she goes over to Cameron’s place. She demands some Nutella (apparently it calms her down), drinks milk directly from the carton, and goes to sleep in Cameron’s bed (directing him to sleep on the couch). It’s moments like this that make me wonder what Cameron sees in her. On the more positive side, she was also very vulnerable with Cameron in this episode, which is definitely progress. Kirsten has a nightmare about a stitch that goes bad, and when she wakes up, she thinks she sees Devon through the peep hole in the door to Cameron’s apartment. She wakes Cameron up, and he does his best to calm her down and put her back to bed. They end up sleeping next to each other on the bed, which was kind of sweet.

Cameron is woken up the next morning by a phone call from Fisher, the local detective that the team regularly works with. He figured out that Devon was an intern at the local med school cadaver lab, and since that tracks with something Kirsten saw in the stitch, it seems like a good lead. Cameron and Kirsten go to the cadaver lab, where they are met by Fisher. Kirsten notices something in the body that they are examining – it turns out to be Kelly’s cell phone. On the screen of the phone is a photo holding a knife to the throat of a bound Kelly in a very small space. Back at the stitch lab, Camille does the math and figures Kelly only has a small amount of air left. Kirsten figures that Devon could only have taken her so far away on his tight timetable, and she does an emergency stitch back into Devon to figure out where. It turns out that Kelly is in the basement of Devon’s house, so the team rushes there to rescue her.

Kelly is taken to the hospital to recover from her ordeal, and the big Halloween party can commence. It’s quite the shindig, decorated to the hilt. It’s the kind of Halloween party I’d like to attend. Halloween decorations are one of my favorite things. I just love the black, purple, and orange combo. Anyway, at the party, Camille (who is a vampire space princess) throws “pixie dust,” and some of it gets in Kirsten’s eye. Kirsten and Cameron are flirting a bit, and Cameron asks Kirsten for a dance. Kirsten agrees, but she needs to take care of the pixie dust situation first. She plans to use one of the upstairs bathrooms, but that turns out to be a bad idea. She finds a secret room, and inside, she is attacked by Devon’s evil twin brother, Gavin.

Kirsten manages to get away from Gavin, and she rushes back downstairs, announcing that an evil twin attacked her. Camille breaks up the party, but then she disappears. The rest of the gang finds her upstairs, tied up like Kelly was. Kirsten rushes in to help her, and the door shuts behind her. It is weighted, so Cameron and Linus can’t get in. Gavin tries to attack, but Kirsten talks him down by describing how she’s always been a misfit, too. At the last second, though, she says she’s actually nothing like Gavin, and she knocks him out with the weight from the door. Once the threat has passed, Kirsten is back to being her usual, no-nonsense self (to Cameron’s chagrin, no doubt). Fisher says he should arrest the lot of them for breaking into a house to throw a party, but he says he won’t as long as he’s invited to the party next year.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Blindspot 1.06: "Cede Your Soul"

“Is that what you’ve done with me? Stayed objective?”
- Jane

This week kicks off with some pretty steamy stuff. Jane has her first dream and it’s a sex dream! In talking with her therapist, she comes to believe that maybe the man in her dream was Weller. She’s seeing him everywhere and clearly it’s freaking her out (it would freak me out, too). Her therapist suggests she try keeping her relationship with Weller professional only for a bit and see if the dreams abate. At the same time, Mayfair questions Weller’s objectivity in Jane’s case (again) and he sets out to prove he’s objective. He’s also kind of in a funk since his sister had their dad show up and all at the end of last week’s episode. Weller’s objective-face makes him come off as a real dick at times. He chews Jane out for having her gun holster in the wrong spot. Come on, dude!

The case of the week is at least an interesting one. We see a Saudi prince get killed while in federal agent custody (he was on his way to a peace summit). The team learns that the killers found the convoy via a tracking app. With a little digging by Patterson, the team finds the address of the person who built the app (and the source code behind it). The gang busts in thinking it’s a guy but it’s a teenage girl named Ana. She claims she made the app for the government and that she’s got a contact at the NSA. Some quick checking by Mayfair reveals there is no such person. While Weller is trying to figure out if Ana is lying, Jane goes into the room and asks about the logo for the app 9which is on her leg). She establishes a rapport with Ana (which Zapata tried to do being Latina and all but I guess our gambling junkie isn’t doing so well). Ana eventually reveals that she built the code for a guy named Shawn. He’s the one who told her the code was going to the government. They tell her to shut down the program but she claims she can’t because Shawn has it.

So now he team has to find a way to get to Shawn in his fortified fortress of tech. They manage to do it with some sweet hacking by Patterson. She and Ana had some great little nerdy banter while Weller yet again chastises Jane for not acting like an FBI agent. Again, man, back off! I get she’s not who you want her to be but calm down. Jane continues to try and bond with Ana even after the case is over (you know things can’t be that easy when the case is done halfway through the episode) and again Weller chides her. She tells him to back off and that she needs space. I have a feeling they’re all going to need each other shortly because Ana gets home and is accosted by three thugs.

The thugs force Ana to find a particular truck for them. She uses Patterson’s log-in (while she’s talking to her boyfriend who has done some massive cleaning in the apartment) which tips the team off that something is going wrong. Weller interrupts one of Jane’s sessions (in which Jane expresses concern that Weller has been pulling away from her) to bring Jane in on things. It’s not long before Patterson activates Ana’s webcam and they realize where Ana is. The team just misses Ana at her place but she left them a clue to where they are going and it’s now a race against time. The truck the thugs wanted 9who turn out to be Russian drug runners) is a Homeland Security vehicle with lots of weapons. Oh goody. In a move that should shock no one who has ever seen a cop show, a massive firefight breaks out once the team arrives. RPGs and grenades are involved. But our team is victorious and they even save Ana who just has a few bruises. I’m not sure how happy Homeland is going to be that their giant cache of weapons that was bound for overseas assignments got blown up but whatever.

Jane decides to keep her distance a bit from Weller when he offers to drive her home. She’s got her security detail waiting for her (oh and Ana gets one now, too). Weller gets home to find his father in his house again. He’s not happy but doesn’t have much choice in the matter. His sister basically forces him to put butt in chair and tell their father that Taylor is alive so he’s innocent. Weller doesn’t actually do much of the talking that we see. It’s very clear he is uncomfortable. I do hope they address the issue of the isotope test again (and make it clearer how both things could be true). Zapata finally pays off her bookie and claims she’s out of the gambling game. We’ll see how long that lasts. I do like that she and Reade seem to have a good partnership and if her issues go on, I’m sure he’ll figure it out and try to help. Jane gets home and tries to entice her security guys in for a drink but they’re consummate professionals and can’t leave their posts. Poor thing is just trying for a little human connection. It also turns out she wasn’t dreaming about Weller. She described a man with a tree tattoo on his arm (which Weller doesn’t have) and then we see a guy watching her go inside and he’s got that tattoo. This makes me wonder if it was really a dream or if he snuck in and was doing naughty things with her.

Overall, I liked that this didn’t really deal with government corruption. Sure it’s an interesting theme but I like that the tattoos can have multiple meanings (thanks to Ana picking up on the black tattoo covering Jane’s SEAL tattoo). This I’m assuming is going to lead into more questions about the FBI case involving Director Carter from the CIA and Mayfair. This show doesn’t waste a lot of time on keeping mysteries a complete mystery for long and I’m glad for it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

iZombie 2.03: "Real Dead Housewife of Seattle"

“Sometimes you have to move on from an old friend. And sometimes there’s a new friend waiting.”
- Liv

Things are not going well for our victim of the week. She’s a rich trophy wife who gets pushed off a balcony by a hit man posing as a real estate broker. Oh boy! While Liv and Clive are inspecting the body, Ravi is rather amused by a breast implant (yeah not really sure why that was necessary). But Liv dutifully eats her brains (after getting shut down by Clive and Ravi for drinks in a couple days). This is no doubt going to make Liv an expensive taste fashionista.

Elsewhere, Major is working out when Liv’s roommate shows up to question why he isn’t out zombie hunting. He says that he crossed a (non-zombie) person off the list that morning. She warns that if he doesn’t make faster progress, the head of Max Rager is going to go after Liv. She also reveals that the first plan was to get everyone on the list on a cruise ship and then scuttle it in the middle of the ocean.

Liv is kind of judgmental on these new brains. While Clive thinks the person who hired the hit man was the husband (because isn’t it always) Liv jumps on the bandwagon when they find out that the victim’s husband sits on the board of Max Rager. Oh, and it turns out he’s selling his house and the hit man was there rifling through his things. So Clive and Liv head off to have a chat with the head of Max Rager while the husband and his lawyer stonewall Clive to set up a time to meet. Yeah, that is really kind of suspicious buddy! But, at least Liv gets a vision while chatting with the head of Max Rager (one she’d like to forget since it was the victim and their current interviewee having sex). Yeah, that’s not cool at all. I’m not sure why but I get the feeling Liv’s roommate might be jealous. Just the look we see on her face as she’s spying and keeping out of sight so she doesn’t blow her cover.

That’s not all Liv has going on right now, though. Major has bumped off another zombie (I feel bad for these people they didn’t ask to be made into zombies) and he shows up at Max Rager and runs into Liv and Clive as they are leaving. Liv gets huffy with him and ends up smacking him across the face (when he says he’s got to work and people have been referring him). Liv tries to apologize, saying it was the brains she ate but she really shouldn’t. He’s being kind of a jerk face.

They head off to check out the hit man’s place of employment when the victim’s husband’s lawyer calls and says they can meet then at the house. The guy can’t seem to say anything without being prompted by his lawyer which also looks super sketchy to me. Like, I’m a lawyer but this guy can’t answer a simple question without having his attorney’s stamp of approval. He kind of freaks out when Clive drops the bomb that his wife was cheating on him. He puts his hand through a glass tabletop.

But they did get a name out of some random assistant that the victim’s husband was with his personal stylist at the time of the murder. She and trophy-wife-brain Liv bond instantly over shoes and clothes and stuff and she points the cops to the victim’s two friends who really are not nice people. I mean really, they’re just so bitchy and catty. So that doesn’t help but Liv is definitely getting closer with Bethany. Along the way, Liv gets a vision that the husband knew about the affair before Clive told him and it sounds like the husband was into slutty girls on the internet. Lovely. Seriously, why do people get married sometimes? Honestly.

I have a feeling things with Liv and Major are going to take a rather nasty turn at some point down the line. Especially since he and Liv’s evil roommate (who it sounds like is the head of Max Rager’s illegitimate daughter) hooked up. Yeah that was just sleazy on her part. Oh and as if that isn’t enough, Peyton is back in town and neither Liv nor Ravi knew about it at all. She’s come back to had a drug task force which is gunning to take out Utopium. That’s going to have to wait to be dealt with because Liv has a shopping date with Bethany and Clive has some skanky mug shots to show the hit man’s boss. Not long after Liv tires a super cute dress, she gets a call from Clive that Bethany was the one who convinced the hit man to off the victim and she had been hooking up with the husband for a while. Typical gold digger storyline honestly. Liv manages to take the bitch down by going a little bit zombie (thank you pepper spray to the eyes). Sure they don’t have a lot of proof yet but they’ve got plenty of time while she’s cooling her heels in jail for having open warrants in three states for various charges including blackmail and larceny. This is apparently a scam she’s been running for a long time.

Things actually aren’t all that awkward with Ravi when Peyton is at the house when he gets back from a date. They seem to be moving back to being friends and sure she doesn’t mention Liv by name but when Liv gets home with some alcohol, she finds a birthday cake in the fridge (apparently it’s her birthday and she had totally forgotten0. But Peyton didn’t. That’s a good sign to me that Peyton is moving towards forgiving liv for not sharing about the whole zombie thing. And because Stephen Webber has to always succeed at playing a slime ball. He ends up letting his infected zombie doctor kill the husband when he threatens a hostile takeover of the company. Really, how did people not see that coming?

Monday, October 26, 2015

iZombie 2.02: "Zombie Bro"

“So you know I’m referring to your beard as Princess Sparkles from now on, though, right?”

“iZombie” delivered a solid offering for the second episode of its sophomore season. While I think the creative team sometimes stretches a bit with how the brains she eats affect her each week, this week’s choice helps Liv solve the case in a very interesting way. When there’s a death at a frat party at a local university, Liv ends up becoming a stereotypical bro. It gives her an in with the guys that she wouldn’t have had otherwise. There are also some interesting developments between Liv and Major. I am by no means a Liv and Major shipper (there’s just too much water under the bridge there), but it would be nice to see them be able to interact with each other as friends again, since they did really care about each other at one time. Major is seriously entering a downward spiral, and hopefully Liv will be able to pull him out of it.

Anyway, like I said, the murder victim in this episode is a frat brother. He is stabbed repeatedly in the middle of a party by a person in a blue bear costume. At first, the other brothers don’t notice what happened, but when they do, chaos ensues. The body comes into the morgue, obviously, and Liv and Babineaux get the privilege of interviewing the deceased’s frat brothers. By this point, Liv has had some bro brains, so she can speak bro speak. The guys warm to her immediately, which makes Babineaux a little nervous. In the middle of the interview, Liv has a vision of one of the brothers telling the deceased, Chad, that he ruined his life. When pressed on this in private, the frat brother describes a hazing incident (streaking by an elementary school) required by Chad that resulted in him being registered as a sex offender. The frat brother is helpful though, because he shows Liv and Babineaux the party Instagram feed. One of the pictures shows a person in a blue bear costume who is likely the murderer.

Indulging in her temporary inner frat bro, Live writes “fart” on Ravi’s head while he’s asleep at his desk. When Ravi wakes up, he gives Liv quite the lecture, and the lecture gives Liv another vision. This time the vision is of a college disciplinary hearing. She and Babineaux interview the guy, also named Chad, who brought the grievance against the deceased Chad. Still alive Chad regularly speaks at anti-drunk driving seminars, and one time an invitation went to the deceased chad, and deceased Chad decided to show up to the seminar drunk and tell a bunch of high school kids how cool drinking and driving is.

Back at the morgue, Ravi is examining Major for side-effects from the zombie cure. His blood pressure is up, but everything else looks good. The blood pressure is probably from guilt, because Major took the Max Rager CEO’s offer to become a zombie hunter and has made his first kill. Anyway, Ravi tells Major that he wants to try taking Utopium for research purposes, and he wants Major to keep an eye on him while he’s under the influence. After a lot of convincing, Major agrees. He then wants to rush out of the morgue before Liv arrives, but he is too late. It’s a rather awkward confrontation.

We then get a sequence of scenes that I can only describe as “dueling parties.” Liv takes her new (incognito Max Rager employee) roommate to a frat party so she can better get to know Chad’s friends. Ravi and Major go to a club and try to score some Utopium. Liv completely owns the frat party and the beer pong table, much to her roommate’s chagrin. In a moment of clarity, Liv notices a “dog fight” trophy belonging to Chad in a back room and asks about it. It turns out that the trophy is not for a literal dog fight. It’s a party where all the brothers bring the ugliest girls they can find as their dates, and the brother who brings the ugliest date wins the trophy. This development just made me sad. Meanwhile, at the club, Ravi eventually is able to score two doses of Utopium (one is for control research later). When Ravi is good and high, Major takes that other dose. Liv gets a call at the frat party from someone who found Major passed out in the club bathroom because she is still his ICE contact. When Liv arrives to collect Major, she sees Ravi dancing shirtless on stage, which is hilarious. Liv gets Major situated by the toilet in his house with hangover supplies nearby, but he asks her to stay with him a little while longer. Liv has hope this means their relationship is going to change for the better. This won’t be the case, though. Major is headed for a big, Utopium-fueled downward spiral.

Paulette, the woman who helped Chad win the dog fight, shows up at the station for questioning. Babineaux is confident going into the interrogation room, but it is quickly apparent that Paulette didn’t realize the true theme of the party. Babineaux is more successful (although it doesn’t seem so at first) with his next lead. He finally finds a man who bought the only costume of this particular blue bear that Babineaux could find in the city. The man and his wife show up at the station, and the woman says her husband was wearing the costume because she’s a furry and it turned her on. The real break in the case comes from Ravi and Liv playing Do, Date, Delete, a game created by Chad’s fraternity. When Babineaux joins in and Liv complains about deleting the “wrong Dermott,” the trio get an idea. What if the killer targeted the wrong Chad? Turns out that the killer actually was the guy who rented the costume, after all. He wanted to kill the Chad who killed his father (the anti-drunk driving advocate). This ending is doubly sad. First was the realization on the murderer’s face that he killed the wrong guy, and next was his face after realizing that the “real” Chad had been trying to atone for what he did ever since.

There’s also quite a bit of drama with Blaine happening in this episode. We learn that Blaine wants to overthrow a guy called Mr. Boss to take over the Seattle drug trade. As his opening shot, four dead drug dealers show up at the morgue, one of which is the dealer who sold Ravi his Utopium at the club. Blaine then goes to visit the Seattle DA’s office, where the DA just happens to be his father, Angus DeBeers. It is strongly implied that the elder DeBeers is a zombie, and Blaine offers him a steady supply of brains in exchange for helping him take down Mr. Boss. Some money would be helpful, too. David Anders really gets to chew a lot of scenery in this sequence, as Blaine outlines all the horrible things Angus has done to the family. Angus is still thoroughly disappointed in his son.

Once Upon a Time 5.05: "Dreamcatcher"

“Take it from me, you’ll always lose the ones you love most.”
- Mr. Gold

It’s hard to believe that the first half of season 5 is nearly halfway done already! Where is the time going? As you can see this episode is called “Dreamcatcher” and for anyone who follows the blog at all, you know I’m a huge Swanfire fan. So naturally I hoped this would mean at least some references to Neal. I wasn’t disappointed! Sure they didn’t specifically speak his name but he was felt throughout the episode. In Camelot of the past, we see how Merlin is turned into a tree (by the Dark One who used to be his lover) which Emma sees through a dream catcher. Regina warns that using such dark magic will push Emma further down the path of evil but Emma says it’s worth it. If she can find a way to free Merlin, all their drama will be over. She also used said dream catcher to see what Arthur did to her parents so she freezes them before Regina can cough up the dagger to them. I have to say it was great to see Emma and Regina working together again. They do make a good team when they try.

Elsewhere in Camelot, Henry and Violet are hanging out and share the fact that they both lost parents without really getting to know them. Violet is kind of surprised that she and Henry have this in common. It touched my heart to see Henry admit he misses his dad! Anyway, they are sort of flirting and it’s adorable for 13-year-olds and then Violet goes to put her horse’s saddle away and henry is messing around with a sword and he doesn’t know how to handle it. He does a little property damage to the stable (totally fixable!) but Violet’s father finds him and basically says “you’ll never be good enough for my daughter”. So while Emma and Regina are trying to find a way to free Merlin, they find a bummed out Henry. They both tell him to be himself (including Emma saying that she loved Neal because he was himself….a con artist and a thief?) and Regina says she loved Daniel because he wasn’t the same as all the other boys. This leads Henry to ask Violet on a date (thank goodness for some of Granny’s lasagna!). Unfortunately, Violet totally puts Henry in the friend zone. Poor boy! But it’s kind of fortuitous because Regina remembering Daniel’s death via dream catcher (nice use of archive footage) doesn’t produce the tear of lost first love like they need. Emma points out that Regina has moved on and healed from that loss (much like I guess Emma has moved on from Neal…grr). Anyway, just as Arthur and his goons arrive to stop them from freeing Merlin, Emma and Regina bust out some magic and Merlin is a tree no longer. Goodness he looks so handsome! He chastises Arthur like a small child (good on you wizard man) and he frees the Charmings and removes the sand. Too bad he couldn’t do that for Guinevere. Anyway, we leave Camelot with Emma saying she’s ready to let the darkness go.

Clearly something went awry since in Storybrooke in present day, Emma is full on Dark One still. She sets Merida the task of making Rumple brave and the hero she needs to free Excalibur. She sends them out into the woods for training and then goes to visit her field of dreams (or rather her shed of dream catchers where she cries over one). Rumple is not having it at first. He can’t even stand thanks to his limp. I’d forgotten how severe it was. I mean he didn’t seem to have it so bad before but I guess it was more a reminder as the Dark One. Now he actually needs a cane or walking stick. Merida needs to find what motivates Rumple and for this she’s going to do a little breaking and entering; first into Regina’s office to check out the story book and then the pawn shop for a little item browsing. She returns to the woods and dangles the chipped cup in front of Rumple’s face. It’s enough to get a decent swing of the sword out of him but yeah, it’s going to take a lot more than that to get him in fighting form.

Perhaps the saddest story of the episode turns out to be a renewed Operation Cobra. Violet’s horse has run off and so Henry determines he’ll find it and win her over. For this, he needs Emma’s help. They share a sweet scene in the yellow bug when he tells Emma that he played Violet a song. It turns out to be the song Neal played for Emma when they were together. We actually see some emotion from Emma at that point. At least he still holds a special place in her heart, dark or not. They end up finding the horse at Peter’s pumpkin farm and Henry tames the horse. Good on you, kid! Things are looking not too bad for him and Violet at the town block party for a while. Too bad things go horribly pear-shaped. While they were out horse hunting, Regina, Hook, Robin and Belle break into Emma’s house, note Rumple’s recent absence and Excalibur. Oh and they find a dream catcher. I think they are a bunch of idiots for letting Arthur know they found his sword but at least they know Emma’s plan (to reunite sword and dagger and snuff out light magic forever). The worst part of this sub plot is when Regina makes the dream catcher work; she and Robin see them as Violet’s memory where Emma forced her to tell henry she didn’t like him to get the tear to free Merlin. Definitely an un-motherly thing to do but Henry sees it, too. Regina turns Emma away she the Dark One pops by to see Henry. Regina rightly accuses her of doing exactly what Cora did to her when she killed Daniel. I have a feeling it will take a very long time for Henry to get over this betrayal. And as the episode quote proves, Emma will always lose the ones she loves the most.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Fresh off the Boat 2.04: "The Fall Ball"

“She sends her used POGs to Africa. She’s classy.”

The latest episode of “Fresh off the Boat” was another winner. This episode dealt with what happens when we don’t meet the expectations family members have for us, and what happens when we are redeemed. Louis has high hopes for Eddie with regards to the upcoming school dance. Louis is obsessed with the idea of an American dance and wants to live the experience through Eddie. This comes with a lot of pressure on Eddie, clearly. Jessica has high hopes that Grandma (Louis’ mother) will help her invest in a house to flip, and she’s disappointed when Grandma is cold to Jessica as always. It turns out that the coldness has to do with Jessica herself not meeting Grandma’s expectations for filial duty. All is resolved at the end for the best, as is typical of “Fresh off the Boat,” but again, it is thankfully not treacly in the execution. I also appreciated the second shout-out to 90’s collectibles I was obsessed with in my late elementary school years (the first being Beanie Babies) in two episodes. POGs were fun, although of course it wasn’t long before my school banned them!

Jessica and Honey get fliers in the mail about a house in the neighborhood that is up for sale. Jessica is upset because she just sold that house a few months ago, and now the owners are flipping it for double the price. The real money is in house flipping, and Jessica wants some of the action. She doesn’t have nearly enough money for a down payment, though. While this conversation is happening, Grandma gets a delivery of flyers. Her boyfriend, named Charles, just died. Everybody in the family, and Honey too (she introduced them) knew about Charles other than Jessica. This kind of irritates Jessica. Grandma tells Jessica and Honey that she needs to speak with Charles’ lawyer about the inheritance. This gives Jessica the germ of an idea.

Meanwhile, at Cattleman’s Ranch, Louis has gathered his staff for a meeting, and he is telling them that big, profound changes are coming. Before he can tell them what those changes will be, however, he gets a phone call. As soon as he hears what the person on the other end of the line is starting to say, he rushes out of the restaurant, leaving the staff wondering what the heck is going on. Louis shows up in the office of Eddie’s school principal. Turns out the principal was just asking parents to volunteer for the school’s Fall Ball, but as soon as Louis heard “Fall Ball,” he got so excited that he had to show up at the school right away. Early during his time in the United States, he worked in a factory in New Jersey where he watched “Pretty in Pink” over and over, and he became obsessed with the idea of the American school dance. He’s ridiculously excited for the opportunity to live the experience through Eddie.

Louis finds Eddie and all his friends playing games at his house, and he asks them about their plans for the dance. They say they plan to “roll through,” and when asked if they know how to dance with girls, they say they have watched MTV Grind, and they are prepared. Louis is far from impressed with the dance once he sees it, though. He does get even more enthusiastic, if that is even possible, when he finds out that Eddie likes a girl named Allison (the cellist from the last episode). He helps Eddie pick out an outfit (the centerpiece of which is an Orlando Magic jersey) and takes Eddie and his friends for haircuts (Eddie gets “Eddie Money” shaved into the back of his head). It’s not Louis’ taste, but if it makes Eddie feel confident, he’s cool with it.

That evening, Jessica talks to Louis about her big idea. She wants Grandma to use her inheritance to help her buy a house to flip. And she wants Louis to ask Grandma to do this. Louis tells Jessica that she needs to ask Grandma herself. The next day, Jessica offers to take Grandma to lunch. Grandma, however, says she is too busy. Jessica says she’ll just go along with all her busy plans for the day. They end up going to a fountain to steal the coins. Grandma says her late boyfriend used to do this with her all the time. She challenges Jessica to get the good coins from the middle of the fountain. Jessica gets a silver dollar, but Grandma throws it back. Jessica tries mentioning the investment opportunity, but Grandma says she does not want to go into business with Jessica.

Jessica goes to Honey’s house to complain, but Grandma is already there helping Honey cost out her recent house remodel. Jessica and Grandma argue (sort of through Honey…I say sort of because Honey can’t speak Chinese) about why they don’t get along. Grandma thinks Jessica is spoiled. When Jessica mentions all the things she does for Grandma, Grandma responds that those are the basics expected of family members. Honey doesn’t even know where her mother is right now, but Grandma says not to compare their situation to a White family because they are the “cruelest race.” She’s kind of right.

At the Huang house, the boys all assemble before the dance. Louis is all excited because the gathering is an iconic part of all teen movies. He tells Eddie that his life could change forever. At the dance, Louis is about to tell his staff (who are helping cater) about the big change for the restaurant again, but he gets distracted because he smells Polo cologne and thinks Eddie is about to arrive. He doesn’t want to miss that moment. All of Eddie’s friends show up, but Eddie is missing. Louis finds Eddie playing video games at home. When prompted, Eddie says he doesn’t want to go to the dance because he’s afraid his life will change for the worse. Trying to connect with Eddie, Louis quotes Shaq as saying you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but Shaq makes 50% of the shots he does take. Eddie says that’s not good enough. Louis starts to drive back to school, but Eddie comes running. Shaq actually makes 50% of the shots he takes, and those are good enough odds for Eddie.

Jessica takes the argument with Grandma to heart, and she buys Grandma a grabber so that she can get the “good” coins in the center of the fountain herself. Grandma does truly appreciate the effort, and she offers to give Jessica money to help with the house flip. Jessica says she wants to be partners, and Grandma offers to put her entire inheritance towards it. The inheritance is only $7,000, though. Grandma has a solution for that problem – they ask Honey to be a partner, too. Both Grandma and Jessica agree, however, on shutting down Honey’s idea of putting a horse mural in every room.

Eddie and Louis make an epic (re)entrance into the dance, and to his happy surprise, Allison immediately agrees to dance with Eddie. Louis is a little shocked when the music changes from a slow dance to something more upbeat and Allison forcefully pushes Eddie into a mosh pit. Louis can see that Eddie looks happy, though, so he is happy, too. The episode ends to a cute dancing montage (to a Shaggy song, of course), where Eddie and Allison, Louis, and some of the other kids all take turns dancing. Watching Randall Park breakdance will never not be funny. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite comedic actors these days.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Blindspot 1.05: "Split the Law"

“I see the way you look at me and I don’t know how to be this person that you lost.”
- Jane

Things are going to get a little complicated this week for our team. Kurt brings Jane over to meet his sister and nephew but it’s all too much for her. As she later points out, she’s not sure she can be the person Kurt remembers or wants her to be. Mayfair is also pissed that she found out about the DNA and isotope tests from Patterson, not Weller. He still thinks that Jane is Taylor regardless of the conflicting data. I still say his memory is wrong and she could still be Taylor but have been born and lived in early childhood in Africa somewhere. His and Jan’s personal drama has to take a back seat though when a pair of gunman take hostages at the MWA. It was tattooed on Jane’s body and the team is kind of confused why a normal old hostage situation from some defrauded pension guys would be on her body. Weller takes over hostage negotiations when the FBI gets on scene. At first, the gunman want their pensions back, not to go to jail and to have the president of the company brought to the building within a half hour. Jane gets a crash course in hostage taking once Zapata breaks into the feeds within the building. The gunman take three of the hostages away and bring them back shortly after Weller buys the team another half hour of time.

Bullets start flying soon thereafter and the FBI rushes in and takes down the two gunmen (a whole bunch of hostages get wounded or shot too in the process). As Weller and Jane check out the site, they find a basement (which makes Jane flash back to being a child) and find three dead men. And then of course the asshole from the CIA (Carter, apparently he’s the Deputy Director) shows up and claims that this is a CIA matter. He won’t talk in front of Jane so she heads back to the surveillance van. Carter says there was an engineer from the Middle East that the CIA turned into an asset. Unfortunately, he fell off their radar and disappeared for a while. Now he’s allied himself with a fringe multicultural extremist group. He popped back up on the Agency’s radar and so they nabbed him. Upstairs Jane figures out that the three hostages weren’t the same. In fact, one of them was the former CIA asset-turned bomb maker and he’s getting away. Well, that would explain why it was on Jane’s body! Also, it seems the CIA knows he’s still in play so the Feds have to play some catch up. But the team figures out that the asset is going to make a dirty bomb. Good lord!

Thanks to some cool tech from Patterson, the team is heading out to find the dirty bomb. Jane and Weller stay at HQ to monitor and one of the teams finds a list of dead people in an abandoned warehouse near a cemetery. While all this is going down the commentary from the agent on the ground triggers even more flashbacks for Jane. She remembers being a little kid and a man taking her down a long staircase into a room with lots of other kids. She kind of loses it and Weller manages to somewhat calm her down but reminding her that he’s there and making her feel his heartbeat. It was kind of a tender moment and I can see why people are thinking and rooting for them to get together at some point. Right now I just want them to be friends and develop that relationship. Let Weller let go of some of his expectations of her being Taylor and move on.

The terrorists are in the cemetery and a firefight breaks out. Because of course it does. You know, if I had a family member buried at that cemetery I’d be kind of pissed that the FBI ruined a whole bunch of tombstones. The key to the fight is that once they spot the asset with the urn full of radioactive material, they can’t let the urn open or else they all die. Wonderful. Jane manages to tackle the guy and get the urn. Lucky for her, Mayfair is on her side (at the moment anyway) and stop Carter from taking the shot that could kill Jane. He is really a smug son of a bitch. I know he’s supposed to be our Big Bad of the season but really, does he have to be such a massive tool? Mayfair isn’t buying his crap either when he demands they hand over the asset. He’ll give them the win about the radioactive materials. It ends in a stand-off with lots of armed federal agents pointing guns at each other. Carter is willing to let Mayfair have the asset if he gets to take Jane. Yeah that ain’t happening you lunatic. Mayfair ultimately hands over the would-be terrorist and the team calls it a win. Too bad it looks like Zapata’s gambling woes are leading her to get into bed with Carter just for the money to pay off her bookie. Really? Don’t do it!

Jane and Weller get a chance to reflect a bit on her little meltdown earlier in her new safe house (which he had to inspect himself because well…we know what happened last time) and she says that while he thought Taylor was her starting point, she says that he is her starting point and holds his hand over her heart (like he did for her earlier). The moment gets pretty emotional and loaded but he ends up bailing because I don’t get the feeling he’s too good with dealing with his emotions. And again, we all know they have this deep connection but I’m not ready for it to go there just yet. It was kind of sweet though that he recounted how they had a hideout in their back yards that he always hoped she’d go to if she escaped wherever she was. And Jane tells him that her abduction wasn’t his fault. I’m not sure he believes her but I think he needed to hear it from her. But things are not going to be all peachy for Weller and Jane. His sister tries to get him to deal with their daddy drama by inviting their father over but Weller takes one look at him and walks out. That’s going to be a really tough reunion if and when he lets it happen.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Once Upon a Time 5.04: "The Broken Kingdom"

“I’m going to finish this damned quest and get back the man I love and you cannot stop me.”
- Guinevere

This episode spent 99% of its time in Camelot (during different time periods). I think this may have been the first time we had that happen (or at least since the Neverland era). I thought it was an interesting way to give us the much-needed backstory on the Camelot crew. We first meet a young Arthur and Guinevere when Arthur shares Merlin’s prophecy that he will one day pull the sword from the stone and become King of Camelot. A bunch of older village boys tease him, since he’s just a stable boy. But we see him pull Excalibur from the stone, to find it broken. He’s a bit crushed about the fact he’s got a broken sword to rule a broken kingdom but he fools his people by keeping it sheathed and only showing part of it.

Unfortunately, it becomes clear that Arthur is obsessed with making the sword whole again. At first Guinevere understands but eventually she sees that it is driving him mad. He’s holed himself up in a tower, trying to decipher a scroll when he should be out spending time with his wife on her birthday. But nope, he’s too intent on discovering the location of the Dark One’s dagger. This apparently all takes place five years ago which is a little confusing to me timeline wise for everyone else since all of the Enchanted Forest people we know were in Storybrooke five years ago (even if the show has only gone 4 years or so). Anyway, that comes up a little bit later in the episode. First, Arthur thinks he’s decoded the location of the dagger and races off (leaving Guinevere in Lancelot’s care). Yeah I’m pretty sure he’s not gonna be happy about that one, either (although we do see that Guinevere and Lancelot are friends and it sounds like he was the one who organized the party. After Arthur sets off, Guinevere decides she’s going to find the damn dagger herself so she can get her husband back. She’s got the gauntlet that will lead her to Arthur’s weakness (aka the dagger) and Lancelot says he’s going along because Arthur would never forgive him if something happened. So yeah, this is the part where I was a little confused on the timeline. They get to the vault (a bit of retconning here because they just have to push some symbols to unlock the vault rather than use a key). Then again, maybe it’s different purposes. Anyway, Guinevere and Lancelot share a kiss after she saves him from being consumed by the darkness. But they both swear that’s all that will happen. They find the dagger but Rumple is protecting it. Oh boy. He convinces Guinevere to make a trade. She gives him the gauntlet and he gives her magic sand that can fix anything (or at least give the appearance of fixing things). He also not-so-subtly throws in a dig at the ex-wife with a comment about a heart torn between duty and desire never ending well. I snickered.

Guinevere is going to use the sand on Excalibur but she can’t bring herself to lie to Arthur (he also thinks she’s been messing around with Lancelot behind his back). He ends up using the sand on her to keep her in the marriage and support his dagger obsession. And then he uses it to repair Camelot. The dude is clearly nuts and I kind of want to just run him through with the part of Excalibur he has!

In Camelot of six weeks ago, Emma is kind of losing her mind a little bit. She keeps seeing fake Rumple and he even tries to convince her to get past Regina’s protection spell on the dagger. Ultimately, Henry and Hook help her out at least temporarily. Henry takes her to Violet’s family stables (and totally lies to his mom about his feelings for a girl). And Hook manage to get Emma’s mind off the demon in her head by horseback riding. I kind of cracked up at Emma’s reaction to Henry having a crush and lying. She’s all “but I’m the Dark One”. Hook reminds her that she’s also the kid’s mom and he probably is still trying to decide which part of her scares him more. She and Regina need to loosen up. Their little boy isn’t so little anymore!

The rest of the Charming family is having a bit of a fight over whether to trust Arthur. David says that Arthur can use the dagger to make Excalibur whole and free Emma. Snow warns that Lancelot says they can’t trust Arthur. So David goes to Arthur and spills the whole story. He wants to reunite the dagger with the sword to save his daughter but the dagger is gone. Snow heads to Granny’s where Lancelot is waiting. They’re going to hide the dagger in the Dark One’s vault so that Arthur can’t get to it. But he follows them, thinking he’s led David astray so he can get the dagger for himself. For some reason we don’t yet understand, Arthur does want to rid the darkness from the world and he wants to kill Merlin. Um, what the hell dude? David shows up and he and Snow reveal that they were both in on it (Lancelot wasn’t however) and they now know they can’t trust Arthur. Too bad Guinevere shows up at Granny’s, blows some sand ta the Charmings and tosses Lancelot in the dungeon (where he meets Merida). She’s no fan of King Arthur and it makes me wonder if maybe he’s the one who kidnapped her brothers? It’s unclear. But I’m excited for a team up nonetheless. At the end of the episode, we jump to Storybrooke in present day where we see Emma telling Rumple that he’s going to be a hero whether he wants to or not and she tasks Merida with making him “brave” (nice play on words there Adam and Eddy). This is going to be very interesting and I have a feeling things might get a wee bit unintelligible with the two Scots going at it. Bring it on!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Doctor Who 9.05: "The Girl Who Died"

“I’m sick of losing people.”
- The Doctor

It’s hard to believe that we are nearly halfway through this series. But we are. And as the previous four episodes, this one looks to be the beginning of yet another two-part episode. I may have said this before, but all of these two-part episodes are getting very tiring and feel a bit lazy. It’s really just six stories spread out over twelve episodes. Anyway, this is the episode which Game of Thrones fans have been waiting for thanks to the introduction of Maisie Williams’ character. Before we meet her, the Doctor and Clara are in a spot of trouble. The TARDIS is having all kinds of problems and Clara’s stuck outside in a space suit with some kind of alien spider crawling up her back (which reminded me of the thing on Donna’s back in “Turn Left”).That isn’t going to be the only series 4 reference this episode I’m guessing because once the Doctor rescues Clara and they touch down on Earth they are kidnapped by some Vikings.

The Doctor doesn’t quite have a plan as of yet by the time they get back to the village. We do finally meet young Ashildr (played by Williams). To be honest I’ve never seen Game of Thrones so I didn’t know the actress was only 18. She looks so much younger. Anyway, she’s relieved that the men have all returned because she had a dream where they all died. That’s com9ing right along, honey. Just as the Doctor tries to convince them he’s Odin in human form (to take control of the situation), a giant Viking head appears in the sky and transports all of the warriors away (claiming to be Odin). Because Clara can’t listen for five seconds, she and Ashildr get dragged along for the ride. The Doctor is rather cross about Clara getting nabbed but he shouldn’t worry too much. She’s alive and so is her young companion. The warriors, not so much. They get distilled into pure testosterone which the leader of an alien race called the Maya drink. They love fighting. Clara nearly talks him into just letting them go but Ashildr demands blood and promises the aliens will be crushed in battle.

So that whole let’s fight the nasty warrior aliens isn’t such a bright idea since all that’s left are women and farmers. The Doctor tells them all to run away but they aren’t having it. They are Vikings damn it and proud of it. We get some interesting speeches from the Doctor as he translates a baby crying. At least we get that continuity and ultimately, the Doctor agrees to stay and help train them. I don’t think he expected it to quite as poorly as it does but yeah…it’s a mess. They can’t use real swords at first since they just mangle themselves and then things just go horribly awry.

The Doctor is clearly frustrated by the whole situation and Clara tells him that he can’t give up he needs to find what he’s missing (because he is missing something) and that will help them win. The Doctor has been going on and on this series about how he owes Clara a duty of care (please, Moffat stop making me think about torts class!) but she insists he doesn’t. He’s wandering about when he happens on Ashildr making up stories about the battles her village goes on. She explains that she’s always been weird and everyone knows it. But she’s loved in her village and she won’t leave it. Outside, the baby is crying again and one of the guy (who turns out to be a blacksmith) is trying to calm her with looking at fish in a barrel of water. It turns out they aren’t fish they are electric eels. This revelations invigorates the Doctor and he declares the villagers are going to win the following day.

The Maya show up on time but find the villagers in the middle of party. They are playing games and dancing. The Doctor points out that they are unarmed, although the Maya leader says that doesn’t matter. The plan the villagers enact is rather brilliant. They use the electricity from the eels to magnetize one of the helmets of the warriors and the Doctor rewires it so Ashildr can tell a story and show them a giant scary monster. The warriors flee, leaving their leader to stand around in shame when they reveal it was a giant puppet. Oh and the best part, the Doctor threatens to upload the video they took to the space equivalent of the cloud and share it with everyone, ruining the Maya reputation. Probably not the nicest thing the Doctor could do but it works and the Maya leave. There’s a brief celebratory feeling before they realize something is wrong. Ashildr isn’t moving and it turns out she basically died showing the aliens what the gang wanted them to see. The Doctor is furious with himself and furious that he keeps losing people. He’s tired of it. Clara says that he saved the rest of the village and as the Doctor catches a glimpse of his reflection we get an amazing revelation. We finally realize why he has the face he does and it’s a lovely tie-in to Ten saving the one family in Pompeii at Donna’s teary bequest. He says that he gave himself this face to hold himself accountable because he can save just one person.

It turns out that he’s repurposed some of the alien tech to save Ashildr. It burrows into her and sets about fixing her. Things are looking good for the Viking village until the Doctor and Clara head off. He left a second piece of tech for Ashildr to use as she wants and he explains that the tech will forever keep repairing their young savior, making her basically immortal. This somehow leads him to analogize her with River (which I’m taking as a very future shout out to the Christmas special where we know River will be making an appearance). We end this episode with Ashildr watching the world change and pass her by. And as the time passes we see her youthful, hopeful eyes turn cold and hard. This isn’t going to bode well for the Doctor.

So, I have to admit, I know I was grumpy at the start of the episode but I really enjoyed it. I like that Moffat finally delivered on his promise to explain the Doctor’s face and the little link to Pompeii. It made me happy to see some of Tennant’s work revisited. It really was a lot of fun. I would say this is my favorite episode this season!

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.03: “A Wanted (Inhu)man”

“I’m done fighting with people over who gets to fight the real fight. It’s a colossal waste of time and resources.”
- Coulson

This is a pretty big episode for a lot of our characters. As you might recall, Hunter and May are on the hunt for Ward, Fitz just rescued Simmons from the alien planet and the Inhuman population is on the rise and under fire by the ATCU. All of those stories move forward this week and things get very interesting on several fronts. Let’s start with the main story of the week, though. Thanks to the damage at the hospital, Lincoln is now being hunted by Rosalind Price and her men. The poor guy really just wants to be left alone but that’s not going to happen. First, SHIELD taps into a phone he just bought and Daisy tries to convince him to go with them but he’s not having it. Price thinks the best way to find Lincoln is to plaster his photo all over TV like a wanted criminal or a terrorist. Seriously, do these people know nothing? Have they not seen how persecuting a group of people who they deem “different” has gone in the past? It never ends well. Never. And it just makes me so twitchy! Anyway, Lincoln gets on a bus but then has to short out the electrical system and make a mad dash for it. He ends up calling someone who sounds like an AA sponsor. I have a feeling there is a lot about Lincoln we don’t know and I’d love to find out (good think Luke Mitchell is a series regular now). Anyway, things seem to be on the mend for poor Lincoln when his sponsor sees a news clip with Lincoln’s picture. He has called the ATCU which of course makes Lincoln panic. He uses his powers to disarm his friend but it causes the guy to have a heart attack. So, freaking out, Lincoln calls Daisy and says he would go with them (but not join SHIELD). Hey it’s a step in the right direction. Also, he and Daisy share a pretty steamy kiss before all hell breaks loose (okay, yes I totally am shipping these two and have since he was first introduced last season). Too bad Coulson has to make a deal with the devil and call off Mack’s escape plan for them to protect Daisy. Lincoln sees this clearly for what it is (a betrayal) and runs off again. Daisy is furious with Coulson for what he’s done but he explains that he’s done fighting with people over who gets to fight the real fight. So he’s going to team with the ATCU and give them his expertise. It’s the only way he could keep Daisy safe and as we all know, that’s one of Coulson’s top priorities.

On the Hydra front, Hunter believes he can get in to the low levels of Hydra but he’s going to need the help of a guy he used to freelance with. This leads to a rather amusing night of drinking in which May just sort of stares at them (it involved subtitles for the two Brits although I didn’t have any trouble understanding them). I like May as the kind of quiet badass type. She’s amusing when she’ bored. But all the drinking leads to an invite. Apparently the only way to get in to Hydra these days is to get into a fight and win. May is all for doing the fighting but Hunter rightly points out if word gets back to Ward that a kick ass little Asian lady wants to join, he’d assume it was May right off the bat. That doesn’t mean that May has to sit by the sidelines and watch (at least not for long). Hunter gets into the ring (so to speak) but it turns out his drinking buddy is the one he’s going to be fighting. And then things get bloody. Like really bloody. Hunter basically gets his ass beat within an inch of his life. Meanwhile, May gets dragged off by some creeps whom she handily takes out. Girl’s got some skills! (And I have to say I know Ming Na-Wen doesn’t do all her stunts but damn, she’s pretty awesome for being 50). All the pain and no doubt broken bones for Hunter are worth it, though. He wins his fight eventually and gets recruited. I just can’t see this going well in the end. I also hope it doesn’t last the whole season because really, that’s just too much.

I saved what I consider the best part of the episode for last. As is probably obvious, Jen and I both adore FitzSimmons as a couple, especially now that they’ve both admitted their feelings. Jemma is having trouble acclimating to our world having been gone for so long. The gravity is different and she’s hearing sounds more acutely. Basically the poor girl is on overload. But Fitz is right by her side to support her. It is so sweet and touching and she’s so grateful for him being there. And the best part, Fitz has kept their dinner reservation for the last three months. After a chat with Bobbi, Fitz thinks the best course of action to help Jemma heal is to do something normal and human, like a date. Jemma is touched and everything is going fine until she just sort of breaks down. But that’s okay with Fitz, he just lets her cry on his shoulder. They have a long way to go to being the happy FitzSimmons of season 1. But I hope they get there. Although, given the way the episode ends I think we may be in for a wait. All episode Jemma has been kind of jumpy around the remains of the portal. Bobbi assures her it’s inert and can’t hurt her anymore. But at the close of the episode, Jemma insists that it has to be reconstituted because she has to go back to the planet! Is it me or is anyone else getting Lost feels from this?

Doctor Who 9.04: "Before the Flood"

“So break them. And anyway, you owe me. You’ve made yourself essential to me. You’ve given me something else . . . to be. And you can’t do that and then die. It’s not fair.”

I appreciated that this second part of a two-part episode that finds the Doctor and Clara in a haunted underwater base didn’t try to pile twist upon twist at the end. I’d like to think that writer Toby Whithouse (who I really wish would be the next “Doctor Who” showrunner – please, Toby, for the good of Who, agree to do it already!) was a moderating influence on showrunner Stephen Moffat’s worst instincts. Instead of twist upon twist, there was just one clever aspect to the plot we had to keep track of: the Bootstrap Paradox. And to make things even easier, Whithouse had the Doctor explain it to us in a rather unusual breaking-the-fourth-wall monologue at the beginning of the episode. Distilled down: if you travel in time and accidentally mess something up, then fix it yourself, are you the originator of the thing you fixed, or is the person you always thought originated it still the originator? The example we get in this episode is, if you accidentally make Beethoven not exist, but put his Fifth Symphony out into the world anyway, who wrote the Fifth Symphony?

After the Bootstrap Paradox monologue, we pick back up where the previous episode left off. The Doctor and two crew members, O’Donnell and Bennett, are on Earth. Specifically they are in the UK, on a base used for training for warfare in Russia, circa 1980. They are at that location because it is the origin point of the signal that has been turning everyone into ghosts, and they are hoping to destroy it. The ship they were just on is there, but there are no symbols written on the wall yet. They realize it’s a hearse carrying the body of the two-parter’s villain, the Fisher King. They also meet the undertaker, who is an alien named Prentis. He comes from a species that for some reason delights in being oppressed by other species. I didn’t quite understand that bit, but thankfully it didn’t last for long.

Back on the underwater ship, a ghost version of the Doctor has appeared. This is extremely troubling to Clara and the remaining crew because it means that the Doctor has likely died. As they are fretting over the ghost, the Doctor makes a phone call to Clara to tell her about his discovery of the hearse and the Fisher King. Clara tells him about the ghost, and the Doctor says that means he has no choice but to die, because the future they are seeing has already happened. Eventually, Clara convinces him to at least make an effort at preventing his death. It appears that what happened with Danny is still really weighing on her (as you’d expect). To numb the pain, she has thrown herself full-on into adventuring with the Doctor, and she’s petrified that is about to be taken from her too.

When we next see the ship circa-1980, the symbols are now written on the wall. Something growls in the shadows and kills Prentis. This is notable, because Ghost Doctor had just been repeating a bunch of names in a list, and Prentis was one of them. Underwater, Ghost Doctor manages to transport himself into the room where Clara and the crew have holed up. He seems to be trying to disable the Faraday cage, and he lets out all the ghosts, saying, essentially, that tonight’s the night everyone is going to be doomed. In a phone conversation, the Doctor tells Clara to get herself and the crew to the Faraday cage. The only complication is that the phone won’t work there. He instructs her to leave the phone just outside the room, keep a close eye on it, and only leave the Faraday cage if she sees the phone ringing.

The Doctor, O’Donnell, and Bennett go back to the ship, and they see that Prentis is dead. Soon enough, the Fisher King starts growling and chasing them, too. For some reason I don’t quite understand, O’Donnell thinks it would be a good idea to split up. She goes one way while the Doctor and Bennett go another. Unsurprisingly, O’Donnell doesn’t survive the decision – she is killed by the Fisher King. Almost immediately, her ghost appears on the future ship, and she steals Clara’s phone. Bennett was apparently in love with O’Donnell, so he is really pissed about her death, and he accuses the Doctor of only caring to save himself. Clara was next on Ghost Doctor’s list after O’Donnell, though, so that is who the Doctor is actually trying to save. The Doctor jumps back in the TARDIS to try and head to the future to rescue Clara directly, but the TARDIS won’t allow it. She deposits him right back in 1980, half an hour before the events we just witnessed. The Doctor takes this as a sign that he’s going to have to fight the Fisher King directly.

On the underwater ship, Clara asks Lunn to go retrieve the phone. He is the only one who hasn’t looked at the symbols on the wall, so the ghosts aren’t after him. Cass is extremely pissed off about this, since she and Lunn are very close (he’s her sign language interpreter), and she basically accuses Clara of only caring about herself. It’s interesting that both the Doctor and Clara have been accused by the crew members of acting selfishly and not caring who they have to sacrifice to succeed. Despite Cass’ misgivings, Clara’s plan sort-of works. The ghosts do not attack Lunn, and he is able to retrieve the phone. Unfortunately, the ghosts then lock him inside the nearest room so he can’t get back to Clara and Cass.

We do finally get a good look at the Fisher King, and he’s ridiculous in an old-school Doctor Who guys in rubber suits kind of way. He tells the Doctor that he wants to create enough ghosts to form an armada to conquer Earth. Lovely fellow. The Doctor is finally convinced to stop worrying about the ripple effects his actions might have, and he decides to end the Fisher King once and for all. He tells the Fisher King that the symbols are already gone from the ship, and when the Fisher King goes to investigate this, a bomb goes off, destroying a dam and drowning the Fisher King.

Things are looking pretty dire on the underwater ship when the Doctor appears inside the suspended animation tube. The Ghost Doctor was actually a hologram, inspired by the actual Ghost Doctor in a previous version of the timeline. The Doctor traps all the ghosts in the Faraday cage by making this hologram emit the call of the Fisher King. In the Faraday cage, the ghosts will eventually fade away. He also uses the sonic sunglasses to wipe the memory of the symbols from everyone’s brains. They might lose some other memories too (like “how to drink liquids”), but the Doctor tells them not to worry about it. There’s a little denouement where Bennett encourages Lunn to tell Cass he loves her, because he lost his chance with the woman he loved, so that ends happily as the Doctor and Clara leave for their next adventure.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fresh off the Boat 2.03: "Shaquille O'Neal Motors"

“Don’t worry. You guys will be nice and cool in the air-conditioned luxury of this glamorous baby. A brand new 1995 Honda Accord. It’s champagne pearl. The most elegant color in the neutral rainbow.”

I really enjoyed this episode of “Fresh off the Boat,” because it took what could have been a stereotype and added several layers to it. We got to see just how functional Louis and Jessica’s marriage is, which is kind of rare on television. They’re both weird, and their relationship is weird, but it works for them. It works because they do truly love each other. The whole episode really was a lesson in understanding other people’s needs and doing nice things for them in response. Louis struggled with getting Jessica the perfect anniversary gift. Eddie struggled with hurting Evan when he went to extreme lengths to buy a glorified Slip N’ Slide he wanted. There were lessons learned all around, but not in a treacly way. The Huangs are never treacly, even if there is that family love under the surface.

Louis and Jessica’s 12th anniversary is approaching, and Louis tells the kids he has figured out the perfect present. The kids are dubious, since Jessica typically hates all anniversary presents. She hates flowers because they’re expensive and die quickly. She hates jewelry because it’s an invitation to muggers. Louis, however, knows that his wife loves to negotiate. He wants to recreate their wedding night, which involved some intense negotiations at a car dealership before eventually purchasing the van the family still uses. Only having one car has become a strain on the Huangs, so Louis wants to take Jessica to buy a second car on their anniversary. He wants to buy a 1995 Honda Accord in Champagne Pearl, because that’s the classiest color. As someone who drove a 1992 Accord (in Rosewood Brown Metallic) for the first eleven years of my driving life, I approve of this choice. The kids agree that this idea might actually work.

When Louis takes Jessica to the car dealership (which happens to be Shaquille O’Neal Motors), however, she completely freaks out. As Louis is talking to a salesman, Jessica runs off. Louis eventually finds her at her favorite lesbian bar (which she doesn’t realize is a lesbian bar, naturally). At the bar, Jessica explains to Louis exactly why anniversary presents, and this one in particular, upset her so much. Jessica remembers that wedding night car buying experience as a time she failed her new husband. She negotiated relentlessly, but in the end, she forgot to get free floor mats thrown in. Louis says that he doesn’t remember the night as a failure. He remembers it as the first time they signed their names together as husband and wife. Jessica gives Louis permission to buy the car, but she doesn’t want to go back to the dealership.

We also touch on a particularly amusing bit of 90’s nostalgia in this episode: Beanie Babies. When I was in about sixth grade (1995-1996), the stuffed creatures were all the rage. I remember when it was difficult to find any Beanie Babies at all, let alone one of the rare ones. There are still a couple of plastic tubs filled with Beanies in my parents’ attic back in Pennsylvania. Tween me was convinced they would be worth a fortune one day! Anyway, Evan likes to have tea parties with his Beanie Babies, and Eddie and Emery don’t really enjoy being invited to them. What they really want is a Hot Dogger, which is a really unfortunate Slip N’ Slide. I hated Slip N’ Slides in general as a kid. It’s not much fun hurtling down a hill just to get covered in grass clippings.

Meanwhile, when Louis arrives home from purchasing the car, Jessica is waiting for him with some real flowers. You must know she is really sorry when the actually spends money on something that’s just going to wilt. She tells Louis that she’s very sorry about how she has been acting, but she still can’t bring herself to go back to a car dealership. Her tune changes, however, when she learns that Louis paid sticker price for the car. Jessica marches right over to the dealership, and she and Louis engage in an epic negotiating session. They even try to get the Accord resold to them as a used car. Every time they run into a road block, they pester until they get a higher manager. Eventually, they work their way to Shaq himself. No other customer has ever managed the feat. Shaq is so impressed that he gives the Huangs the best deal they could hope for on the Accord, and Jessica feels vindicated. It turns out that Louis paid sticker price on purpose just to nudge Jessica into overcoming her aversion to their anniversary. That was the final twist on a very engaging story.

Thanks to the powerwalker ladies admiring Evan’s Beanie Babies, Eddie has the perfect plan for how to obtain the Hot Dogger that Louis won’t buy. He can sell some of the Beanies at the local hobby shop and use the money for the Hot Dogger. When he shares the plan with Emery, he describes a very detailed scene where Evan told him this plan would be okay. When Evan finds out what Eddie and Emery did, however, he is devastated because he considered the Beanies his friends. Eddie realizes that he just imagined Evan giving his permission. He has been enjoying the Hot Dogger a great deal, but now he is starting to feel guilty about hurting his brother to obtain it.

The piece de resistance of the negotiation for the new car is a basketball shoe signed by Shaq himself. When Eddie gets the shoe and explains to his parents how grateful he is and how much it means for him, he suddenly feels really bad about what he did to Evan. Eddie, in a surprising moment of self-awareness and generosity, sells the Shaq shoe to buy back Evan’s Beanie Babies. Evan is thrilled, and Eddie knows that he did the right thing. It was nice to see Eddie show some true personal growth. There was definitely a lesson to be learned from this plot, but it wasn’t presented in a “Full House” kind of way where the music starts to swell when the siblings reconcile. And that’s just fine by me!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3.02: "Purpose in the Machine"

“My mother created a halfway house for Inhumans, and it was not enough. I want Inhumans taking action with S.H.I.E.L.D. to see that being different can mean making a difference.”

There were two things that I particularly liked about this episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The first was that we got to check in with all the characters that we didn’t see last week (what is this, “Game of Thrones?”). We got to see May, who is really, really trying to be the person she thinks she should be instead of the person she truly is, and we also see a bit of Ward, who is just as psychopathic as ever. The second was that there were good FitzSimmons developments, and happy FitzSimmons makes me happy. It wasn’t all bright and shiny, and I think they’ve got a rough road ahead, but it was nice to see positive developments after all they have been through.

This episode begins with a flashback to Gloucestershire, England in 1839, for reasons that will soon become apparent. A group of men are having a fancy dinner party, and they seem to be drawing lots to figure out who is going to have to do something unpleasant. The (un)lucky winner, after saying goodbye to his companions, departs for another room, where we see the monolith. He gets sucked into it, and we don’t see him again. It’s interesting to know that the monolith has been in play for that long. In the present day, Daisy is trying to get Coulson to approve of Joey for her strike team (he says that Andrew should evaluate him first) when Bobbi interrupts to say that Fitz has entered the room with the monolith. They manage to pull Fitz away just before it sucks him in. The failed teleportation attempt does leave behind some ancient sand, though.

Meanwhile, Ward is hard at work remaking Hydra in his own image. He recruits a rich frat bro named Werner von Stucker, who happens to be the fun of the late Hydra operative Baron von Stucker (we met von Stucker the elder in “Avengers: Age of Ultron”). Before officially making the offer to join/help finance the new Hydra, though, Ward has to test him. One of his goons roughs up Werner, but Werner proves himself in the fight. By the end of the episode, Werner is approaching Andrew (who is May’s ex, remember, and now very involved in rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D.) and asking him if he can transfer into his psychology class. Nothing good can come of Werner moving in on Andrew, clearly. It’s tough to tell if Ward is trying to get at S.H.I.E.L.D. in general or May specifically with this move.

Speaking of May, she’s in Sun City, AZ, ostensibly taking care of her father, who is recovering from a broken hip. She has broken things off with Andrew again (which made me a little sad, because he seemed to be the one person who could get through to her), and she’s only in occasional contact with S.H.I.E.L.D. Hunter finally departs on his mission to find and kill Ward, and his first stop is to Sun City to try and recruit May to his cause. When she hears Hunter approaching the house, her first instinct is to prepare for an attack. She almost kills Hunter before realizing who he is. May’s father has some things to say about this. He thinks she is acting like her mother, always convinced that the world is out to get her. I liked the insight we got into May and her family history through this plotline. Her father makes many references to her mother throughout the episode, and it’s clear they aren’t together anymore, but he doesn’t seem to resent May for taking after his ex. He is proud of her and wants her to be who she is. He also has some fantastic advice. She is so worried and on the defensive because she has unfinished business. He thinks she should go finish it. And with that, she joins Hunters crusade.

Speaking of Andrew, he does evaluate Joey, and he doesn’t think he is ready for duty just yet. He wants to wait three months and reevaluate. Daisy, naturally, is not at all happy about this, especially because this is what Andrew has been saying about all the candidates she has put forth. Daisy is just really anxious to give her fellow Inhumans a place where they feel they belong. She doesn’t think just giving them a “half way house” like her mom did with Afterlife is enough. The Inhumans need to become invested in outside society, and she thinks they’ll do that if they’re allowed to help with her team. Luckily Andrew still has greater safety at heart, so he fends of Daisy for now.

Coulson decides that the best person to examine the monolith sand is an Asgardian we met last season named Dr. Randolph. He’s in prison, though, so first the team has to break him out. Once he’s convinced to help him, though, he just opens the cell. He’s really just been in prison by choice. Randolph’s condition is that the team destroy the monolith as soon as Simmons is rescued. He quickly leads the team to the Gloucestershire castle from the opening scene of the episode. Above two of the doorways is the Hebrew symbol Fitz saw on the scroll. More specifically, it translates to “death by punishment.” Which doesn’t sound good for Simmons.

Coulson’s team gets the monolith set up in the castle, and it starts to vibrate, causing Daisy a bloody nose. The success doesn’t last long, which is probably a good thing for Daisy, since she’s in bad shape. Once she’s recovered a bit, Daisy realizes that they don’t need the rig in the castle anymore (it broke). She can make the monolith vibrate at the right frequency, and she thinks she can hold it for about a minute. Fitz immediately agrees to jump in. He’s tethered, but it’s still a dicey situation, since he only has a minute. On the other side of the monolith is a desolate wasteland, and somehow, Fitz and Simmons are able to hear each other. They are having trouble reaching each other, though, and Daisy is almost tapped out. At the very last second, Fitz grabs on to Simmons. The monolith implodes, and both are alive at the bottom of the pit that once held the monolith. By the end of the episode, we get a taste of what the near future will be like. Simmons wakes up from a likely PTSD-induced nightmare, and her first instinct is to curl up next to Fitz.

Blindspot 1.04: "Bone May Rot"

“You know, ever since you told me I’m Taylor I’ve been focusing on what that means for me but you’ve been living with this for 25 years.”
- Jane

Things wouldn’t be right in the “Blindspot’ universe if there wasn’t heaps of drama, mortal peril and mystique. And boy do we have that this week! First, we see a scientist die two years ago. Jump to the present, we see that Patterson isn’t so good about keeping her work files at work and her boyfriend helps her decode one of the tattoos. After a session where Weller tells Jane that she was raised by a single mom, they get pulled into the case of the week. This leads them to the CDC where they learn about said dead scientist. As the team is prepped for going into the lab, they are exposed to ultraviolet light which reveals a series of numbers on Jane’s face. They correspond to vials of really nasty strains of viruses that have had outbreaks in the past five years. And it shouldn’t shock anyone that they are now missing!

Just as they discover the missing vials, the entire lab goes on lockdown. This doesn’t sit well with Weller and he starts anxiously pacing. So Jane convinces him to sit down and talk to her about Taylor. He reveals that he used to babysit her a lot (there was a five year age difference). He was there when she went missing and the way he describes the scene, it was like she just vanished. There was no physical evidence to link the crime to anyone, including Weller’s father but people still assumed that since little Taylor spent so much time with the Wellers there had to be something sexual going on. Of course Weller’s dad denied those allegations (even to this day). And Jane has a snatch of memory of being a little girl and a shadowy man coming into her room and walking her out of the house.

She doesn’t have a chance to tell Weller about the memory because the lockdown is finally lifted and they get to regroup with Zapata and Reade. They’ve discovered that Margaret, one of the higher ups triggered the lockdown after she left the building. Yeah because that isn’t sketchy. The team determines that she was in areas where outbreaks of the missing viruses occurred shortly before outbreak. Also very sketchy. They send out state troopers who flag down her car. They don’t have time to do anything because she pulls a murder-suicide with her poor, clueless husband. The team is hot on the heels of the final vial of contagion. One of the crime scene photos points to a lead at the local cruise ship terminal and a good spot from Jane gives them the time frame they have to work with (two hours). On the way, Jane tries to get Weller to talk about his father and how he dealt with everything but he clams up and gets a little emotional. I guess Reade is right to be a little worried about the way Weller gets when Jane is around. They make it to the harbor and find the bag just in time. Together, the four of them make a makeshift container for the gas. All seems fine until the Director of the CDC heads off to try and handle the contagion. Weller is still there, too. Patterson connects in on comms and warns that the Director was in on the whole spreading of disease. He has this whole big speech about how these viruses are the planet’s way of fighting back and keeping population down. Yeah, he’s a nut job for sure. Weller is starting to get his butt handed to him when Jane rushes in, no Hazmat suit on and tackles the guy. Reckless move, but lucky nonetheless.

Back at FBI headquarters, Mayfair has a visitor. The sleazy guy from the CIA wants a sit down with Jane. Mayfair isn’t having any of it. She is understandably a little annoyed since Patterson came bugging her about the case file earlier. This ended in a bit of a stale mate when Mayfair called her out for the help her boyfriend gave her on the tattoo. Oh the secrets these people keep. Speaking of secrets, Zapata has one, too. Reade saw her talking to a guy at the top of the episode and it turns out he is her bookie sand she is now $40,000 in the hole from gambling debts. I did not expect that to be at all what was going on with her. Very intriguing indeed.

Weller finds Jane in the conference room looking at an old news story about her going missing. She doesn’t remember anything else (and she doesn’t tell Weller about the memory she did recover) but they do get to have a very sweet bonding moment. Weller remembers where the photo was taken that was used in the article. He even recalls a fond memory of his fishing with his dad in the creek behind their houses. He says that his sisters would always stay inside playing with dolls but Taylor was a tomboy and loved to tag along on all Kurt’s adventures. I can see why he would blame himself for her disappearance. Especially if the evidence led to the mysterious conclusion that there was no forced entry and it seemed Weller was in the house at the time of the abduction. Poor kid. And because nothing can be simple, Patterson has some shocking results to share with Weller. While Jane’s DNA is a match for Taylor Shaw, the isotopes in her teeth show that she was born in Sub-Saharan Africa. Those two conclusions (both supported by physical evidence and science) seem to conflict. My question is, why do they have to? Maybe Weller didn’t know Jane’s mom adopted her from Africa. Plenty of people do that. She could still be Taylor Shaw. Now I just want to know exactly who she is. I thought we’d solved one mystery and could move on to others.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Once Upon a Time 5.03: "Siege Perilous"

“Yes, some large rock decided I was a hero. A preachy fulfilled. Ever since then, I’ve had victories and I’ve had losses. And I’ve learned that losses is what makes us brave.”
- Arthur

Tensions and tempers are running a bit high in Storybrooke these days. Emma pops by the mines and snags one of the axes from the dwarves. She thinks it will help her free Excalibur. Imaginary Rumple just laughs at her when she breaks the ax. He’s quite cheeky and I kind of love it (plus it gives Robert Carlyle something to do other than lay about in a coma). Grumpy and company bust into the sheriff’s office demanding that David do something to get the ax back. They aren’t very happy with his answer that he’ll look into it. But he is feeling really frustrated by the fact that Emma went dark and he couldn’t protect his little girl (again). Mary Margaret reminds him that he is her hero and he’s doing all he can. Regina, meanwhile may have a clue to what they were doing back in Camelot. A bunch of books came through and there’s a page marked with a question mark in her handwriting. Intriguing!

Back I Camelot, we see Regina and company find that page in the book. It describes a toadstool that allows people to communicate through magical barriers. Maybe if they can talk to Merlin, they can figure out how to get him out of the tree. This prompts David to decide to go on a quest with Arthur. I guess he was feeling kind of useless just sitting around holding the baby. We get a brief look at the round table and the Siege Perilous (where the knight with the purest heart sits). It used to be Lancelot until he got the hots for the Queen and Arthur kicked him out. Arthur is rather bummed to hear that his friend is dead. But there’s no time to mourn because they have a quest to complete with an always-burning torch. They head into a forest of eternal night and bond over the similarities in their upbringings and their wives. David manages to snag the needed toadstool but gets dragged underwater by some dead knights who failed to get the item. Arthur saves his new buddy’s life though. While the menfolk go off adventuring, Regina makes a rather creepy promise to Zelena that the baby will be loved and cared for, but Zelena won’t. Come on, Regina. You’re better than this!

While David agrees to help Arthur track down missing relics, Hook and Robin share a rather amusing chat about sonograms and their respective complicated love lives. This leads to Hook gets a takeout order he didn’t place and meeting Emma on his ship. She uses a bit of magic to make a meal (like old times) and is even in a cute pink number and her hair isn’t all frosted. If Hook falls for this shtick he’s a bigger moron than I thought! Well Hook isn’t quite that stupid, it turns out. He tells Emma he used to love her but not anymore. And he admits he was the villain at the start with Rumple (finally!). It seems David and Arthur have a bit of luck in their search, too. A stop by the pawn shop gives David an idea and it turns out Arthur’s squire is the culprit. Oops! Speaking of Belle, she found a spell that might save Rumple but she needs an object that touched him when he was just a man. Good luck with that, sister!

It seems Emma isn’t the only one that is untrustworthy wandering around Camelot. Sure he saved David’s life and makes him a knight of the round table. That’s all well and good. But it turns out he’s actually a villain himself. Well, according to one very not-dead Lancelot. He runs into Snow as she’s trying to calm a fussy Neal. I have to say I’m intrigued by this twist in the story. We always see Arthur as a pure, noble guy who is trying to do best for his kingdom and his people. In a way, I suppose he is still trying to do that. But he’s also lied to David’s face. He snagged the toadstool from David’s bag during the rescue and has secreted it away in the relic box.

Back in Storybrooke, the squire says he stole the stuff because he was mad at Arthur for being a taskmaster. Among the items stolen is the toadstool which David delivers to Mary Margaret and Regina in Regina’s vault. Now they have a shot at talking to Merlin and sorting it all out. Unfortunately for the squire, he’s not going to be doing anything any time soon. See, he was working under Arthur’s orders to take the items and keep them safe. Arthur needed to build trust with the denizens of Storybrooke so he could take over their town and build a new Camelot. Yeah, that’s a pretty big dick move there your majesty. He pulls an even bigger one when he forces his squire to commit suicide to keep from talking. What a complete asshole. I hope they were recording what was happening so that they can use it against him later!

Oh and it seems Hook and Robin will be teaming up to break into Emma’s place. Hook really wants to know what is behind door number one. Just as they start planning, Belle rushes in with rose jar in hand to grab a sandwich. Granny chides her about sitting down and eating a real meal when the rose pedals start to reform. She races back to the shop but finds Rumple gone. But the flower continues to bloom. It would appear Emma knows about Belle’s efforts with the healing spell and snagged the blade Hook used to taunt Rumple back in the day. That was kind of clever. And I totally misread imaginary Rumple’s point of needing a hero and Emma knowing which one it is. Apparently, since Rumple’s heart is now a clean slate he is neither good nor evil. So she can make him into a hero with the purest heart so that he can pull Excalibur from the stone so she can reform the sword with the dagger and snuff out the light. This is getting serious, folks!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fresh off the Boat 2.02: "Boy 2 Man"

“But you’re not even her real mother. You’re her stepmother. All you have to do is day drink and criticize her weight.”

This episode of “Fresh off the Boat” was all about growing up and how parents have to grapple with changing their parenting styles as their kids become more independent. As Eddie and Nicole spend more time together (and then don’t), we get to see the contrast in how their families handle the situation. The contrast between Jessica and Honey (Nicole’s stepmother and Jessica’s best friend) is especially interesting. We also get to see the rest of the Huang family react to the oldest of the three kids starting to really grow up and deal with teenage issues. Eddie’s adventures in this episode directly or indirectly affect all the Huangs. And we get a family Boyz II Men singalong out of it, so it’s definitely worth watching!

Right from the beginning of the episode, we see the contrast between Eddie and Nicole’s respective relationships with their parents. Jessica wakes Eddie up in the morning and tells him he doesn’t need an alarm clock because he has her. She also tells him that he must take piccolo lessons as his fifth period elective, even though Eddie would rather learn leatherworking. Honey, meanwhile, makes some small efforts to lay down rules with Nicole, but her father, Marvin, quickly undermines her and lets Nicole buy whatever she wants, like a Boyz II Men CD. She is her father’s princess, for sure, and it made me sad to see Honey marginalized in this situation. She’s making some effort to be a responsible stepmother, but it’s not doing any good.

Meanwhile, Eddie and his friends are getting picked on by the eighth graders at lunch. The eighth graders like to steal and/or damage the belongings of as many seventh graders as they can. This all changes, however, when Nicole decides to sit with Eddie and his friends. She says this year’s eighth graders don’t like her because she tormented them when they were seventh graders last year. Anyway, Eddie’s friends don’t seem to be super thrilled when Nicole first sits with them, but that quickly changes when they realize that the other eighth graders are afraid of her. They are thrilled with the idea that they can get away with acting dorky without any repercussions from the eighth graders.

Jessica stops by Honey’s house for Stephen King book club, but Honey hasn’t read the latest book yet because she’s been fretting over Nicole. She and Jessica talk about the latest issues, but Jessica doesn’t seem overly concerned. Despite Honey’s protests to the contrary, Jessica thinks children can always be controlled regardless of age. You just have to think several steps ahead like a game of chess. Meanwhile, Louis and Marvin go golfing. They see some little girls playing by the golf course, and Marvin talks about how he’ll always see Nicole as a little girl. This gets Louis to start thinking about what it might be like to have a daughter. He even pictures his hypothetical daughter’s wedding.

At school, Eddie and Nicole both complain about their respective fifth periods. Eddie doesn’t want to play piccolo and Nicole doesn’t want to have to go to tutoring. Nicole comes up with a plan, though. She wants Eddie to be her tutor so that they can basically just goof off all fifth period. Eddie is down with this idea since it involves more one-on-one time with Nicole. It is Jessica who tries to veto the idea, saying that tutoring is one step away from being a teacher, which is one step away from homelessness. She’s not entirely wrong. Anyway, Eddie acquiesces, as he typically does when his mother goes on the warpath about something. Eddie’s desire to tutor isn’t the only family issue Jessica has to deal with in this episode. Louis asks if they can have a daughter. Jessica says no, because “the shop is closed.” Evan hears this conversation and gets very worried. He talks it over with the ladies he powerwalks with, and they suggest that it’s Louis’ “time of the month,” and he needs something to help deal with the hormones. It’s interesting how the creative team mixes realism with the absurd.

Jessica and Honey have another conversation about Honey’s latest progress trying to give Nicole some boundaries. She is very proud of herself that she didn’t give Nicole money (even if she didn’t outright say “no” and just hid in the bathroom). She also compliments Jessica on Eddie being such a great tutor. Jessica, while she doesn’t say anything to Honey, is super pissed off because Eddie is directly defying her. Jessica being Jessica, though, she has a manipulative plan to end the tutoring arrangement for good. She goes to talk to Eddie’s teacher, who is desperate to seem “in” with Asian culture in general, and says Eddie is so smart that he can handle tutoring multiple students at once. The teacher agrees, and when the new students arrive, one of them starts flirting with Nicole, and Nicole reciprocates. With that, Eddie wants to quit tutoring.

Following the “break up” with Nicole, Eddie is upset, spending all his time in his room listening to “End of the Road” on repeat. I would have liked to have seen more of Eddie’s wallowing, but since this is a half hour comedy, one quick scene was really all we got. Meanwhile, Louis continues his campaign for a daughter. He decides to strategically place photos of baby girls in vegetable costumes everywhere in the house that Jessica might see them. Jessica hates the photos and has a hilarious story why that is way too long to describe here. You have to watch it! The younger boys also start randomly giving Louis gifts, hoping to get him out of his male PMS. By dinner time, all the Huang menfolk are somewhat depressed for their own reasons, and they sing “End of the Road” together in adorable fashion.

Jessica and Honey try to meet up for book club once again, and Jessica, for the first time, realizes that perhaps her formula-driven approach to parenting isn’t always going to work in every situation. She mentions that Eddie has been depressed lately, and Honey immediately knows it’s because of the situation with Nicole. She tells Jessica that she would have known that too if she ever tried to relate to her kids at all on a friendly level. Jessica takes Honey’s advice (sort of), and she has a heart-to-heart with Eddie where she tells him about how she handled her break-up with her college boyfriend, Oscar. The conversation, while helpful, still ends with a pitch for Eddie to try piccolo again. Eddie takes it as the loving, good natured way in which it was meant. When he gets back to school, he sees a hot girl practicing piccolo in the band room, so perhaps he will take his mother’s advice after all. Louis tells Jessica he doesn’t want a daughter after all. If a daughter had her heart broken the way Eddie experienced, he’d murder the guy. And speaking of Nicole, she’s not sitting with Eddie and his crew anymore, and the boys are about to be ambushed by the eighth graders again.

iZombie 2.01: "Grumpy Old Liv"

“Hold the phone, you dig it! You get off on being the hero, don’t you?”
- Blaine

Three months have passed since the end of season 1 and Liv’s life is less than optimal. Peyton and Major still aren’t talking to her and both her mother and brother (who is alive but still not in very good shape) want her gone from their lives. They are very judgmental about her not giving Evan blood. Liv rants about all of this to Ravi as they come up on a crime scene of an old man who had a car dropped on him. It looks like the killer might have ridden a bike or scooter away. Convenient that the victim’s sister-in-law rolls up in a medical scooter. She doesn’t paint a very nice picture of the guy. He hated everyone and everything, ever since he went out on disability for fibromyalgia. This is going to be fun!

Liv falls under the influence of crotchety old man brains pretty quick which fees into her determination to avoid human relationships until she’s in fact human again. Unfortunately, all of Ravi’s attempts to replicate the cure have been unsuccessful. Oh and Clive is still questioning what happened at Meat Cute. Liv is Major’s alibi and all. And he doesn’t think it’s such a great thing that the department gave the zombie cop a medal of honor. But hey, at least they have a possible lead from the tip line. A neighbor called in and basically said he saw the neighborhood teenage menace get into with the dead guy (the old guy was kicking the kid). Liv’s reactions to the guy were hilarious. She just really doesn’t like anyone right now.

If you’re wondering what has become of newly human Blaine, he’s running a funeral home. I guess he is kind of taking a page from Liv and eating already dead people. She’s not buying his “I’ve changed” spiel though when she goes to try and get more tainted drugs from the boat party. She drops the “the cure could be temporary” bomb on him but it doesn’t seem to help. We do seem to have a curious side effect of the cure though. Blaine is a little twitchy around Liv. Hm. And Blaine and his boys are trafficking in pure Utopium. Crap!

Major is having some issues of his own post-cure. He’s having trouble finding a job thanks to his trip to the psych hospital. But he’s working as a personal trainer for now. He’s been ignoring Liv which isn’t good since she needs to let him know that Clive is still looking into the massacre. OH and every time he gets near a zombie, he instinctively knows it’s a zombie. We saw Blaine react that way to Liv, too. Very interesting side effect to have to deal with. The case isn’t going particularly well for Clive and Liv either. They bring in the neighborhood thug but he wasn’t involved even though Liv wants to drag him in for being annoying. Man, she really is not happy while on these brains, is she? For much of the episode, Liv doesn’t have any visions but when she finally does, they kick the case into high gear. First she sees the dead guy’s sister-in-law yelling at him and keying his car. It turns out she can walk just fine. So Liv and Clive head over to question her and she alibis out with like five other old ladies. The second vision hits when Liv sees the guy trying to poison a dog. She remembers that the tipster had dog toys and paintings of dogs in his house. When they go to question him (Liv is rather direct) we find that he has the dog and Liv feels a little foolish. And it seems he has an alibi for the night as well. He was at a pub watching an Arsenal/Chelsea match. Is it bad of me that I didn’t recognize Adam Bush (i.e. Warren from season 6 of Buffy) as the tipster?

While Clive, Liv and Ravi are investigating the alibi, we find Blaine trying to figure out who cut the bad Utopium the night of the party. He may be selling pure stuff right now but he doesn’t want to go back to being a zombie if he can help it. So he heads off to find the guy. While the person he talks to didn’t cut the stuff, he knows who did and is willing to give up the name for some money. So Blaine is one step closer to getting Liv and Ravi what they need for the cure. Things on the alibi front at first look clear but then Clive points out that the pub has a side entrance and there were missing dog posters up in the pub. The cops execute a search warrant and find the bloody shoes. The tipster confesses in a teary mess. He says the guy basically admitted to killing the dog and so in a fit of drunken anguish, he kicked the jack that was holding up the car. He didn’t mean to kill the old man.

Liv is trying to get over her isolationist emotions and spend some time with her new roommate. I’m afraid that her new roommate is a horrible spy for Max Rager. Why am I sure? Because she actually works for the head of the company and she tapped Liv’s phone. They are working to hunt down zombies and thanks to their snooping they have the perfect candidate to be their mercenary: Major. He doesn’t want to do it at first but there is that little recording of Liv warning him about Clive hanging over his head. He’s got to take the list of potential zombies (identified by their spicy food and tanning purchases) and check out who is really one and kill them. We see Major drug one of his clients who is sure is a zombie and shoot him in the head before tossing him off a bridge. Well, that’s definitely going to put a wrinkle in any potential Liv and Major rekindling. And hopefully Liv wises up about her roommate!