Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday "Classic" Recap: Seinfeld: "The Strike

“But out of that, a new holiday was born! A Festivus for the rest of us!”
-Frank Costanza

We’ve done holiday recaps that focus on Christmas and Hanukkah. This time, however it’s that gem of a holiday, Festivus. Festivus was one of those real Seinfeld cultural touchstones, up there with the Soup Nazi and being “Master of Your Domain.” I can definitely sympathize with Frank Costanza’s dislike for all the pressure and crass commercialism of the holiday season, and I commend him for creating his own alternative holiday, even if that alternative does seem to be rooted in a certain meanness. I mean, we are talking about a holiday that begins with an “airing of grievances” where Frank tells everybody exactly how they disappointed him in the past year, and it also includes “Feats of Strength” where he beats on a chosen family member. It’s not exactly happy fun times, and I do appreciate that while the show generally plays it for laughs, it acknowledges, through George’s reaction to the return of Festivus, that it’s pretty dark.

The episode opens however, at a Hanukkah party being thrown by the gang’s dentist friend, Tim Watley. George makes out the best of anyone at the party, I think. He eats his fill of kosher cocktail wieners, and he’s happy. Elaine sees a creepy guy in a denim vest eyeing her up, and she decides to break out her standard “fake number” when he starts hitting on her. Jerry has better luck in the romance department than Elaine. He meets a woman named Gwen who seems to be pretty good looking, and he’s only too happy to ask her out. When he meets her again, however, she doesn’t look anything like she looked at the party. Jerry (and everyone else who sees her) thinks she’s horribly ugly in the wrong light. I don’t quite see what they were going on about, myself. George calls Gwen a “Two Face.” Part of me wonders if watching Seinfeld as a young teenager contributed to my anxiety about dating in general – worrying I wouldn’t meet up to the very high standards demonstrated in the show.

Anyway, the next day, George and Jerry meet up at the coffee shop, and George has brought his mail to open (because I’m sure the writers couldn’t figure out any other way to bring all these plots together). Among his mail is a card from none other than Tim Watley, announcing that a donation has been made to the Children’s Alliance in George’s name. George is pissed off because he got Tim Yankees tickets, and all he gets in return is a donation. If this episode were taking place today and I were George, I’d be Googling the “Children’s Alliance” immediately, because that sounds like a fake charity if I ever heard one. George’s train of thought is similar. He decides that he’s going to make up a charity called “The Human Fund” and give all his coworkers donation cards. He gleefully collects bottles of wine from coworkers and gives them meaningless cards in return. And this is why Charity Navigator became a thing, people!

In the least holiday-relevant plot that actually gives the episode its name, Kramer receives a phone call that “the strike is over.” It turns out that back in the day, he used to work at H and H bagels, and twelve years ago they went on strike. He’s been “on strike” ever since, but since the minimum wage is now the wage Kramer and his coworkers were demanding, Kramer decides it’s time to go back to work. Kramer is the only one of the old guard to return, presumably because everyone else found a new job years ago. The owner does, however, agree to hire him on as temporary holiday help. Much has changed in the last twelve years of bagelry, however, as Kramer is amazed that such a thing as a raisin bagel can exist (marble rye bagels are my weakness).

In yet another improbable twist of fate, Elaine is super excited that she’s about to earn a free sub by having eaten twenty-four mediocre subs at Atomic Subs. The only problem is that she wrote the fake number on her Atomic Sub card and gave it to denim vest guy at the party. She decides to track down the true owner of the fake number, and she finds herself at a betting shop where the employees are not too happy to finally meet the Elaine Benes people have been calling for constantly. She doesn’t want to give her real phone number to the creepy betting shop employees, so she gives them the H and H phone number. She then starts camping out at H and H, hoping that denim vest guy will finally call, and she will get her crappy sub card back.

In the course of the usual banter between the gang, it comes out that George’s family celebrated Festivus when he was growing up, a holiday that George’s father made up when he got frustrated with Christmas. Instead of a Christmas tree, there’s a single aluminum pole, and there’s also the aforementioned Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength. Kramer especially takes an interest in Festivus, and much to George’s chagrin, he convinces Frank to resurrect the tradition. Kramer is very upset, however, when his boss doesn’t let him off work on the 23rd (when Festivus is celebrated), so he goes on strike again. On his way out, he also tries to sabotage the shop’s machinery. The sabotage isn’t catastrophic, but it makes the whole shop very steamy. Elaine continues to insist on waiting for denim vest guy’s call, so she ends up looking like a drowned rat. Gwen mistakes her for the “ugly girl” she’s been hearing Jerry is dating. She eventually gets her Atomic Subs card back, but denim vest guy isn’t so interested anymore. And he gives her a fake number.

George gets caught with the Human Fund scam when his boss tries to donate $20,000 of company money to the “charity” and the accounting department does some investigating. George tries to go for the quick save, saying that the reason he gave fake Christmas gifts was because he actually celebrates Festivus, and he didn’t want to be judged. His boss insists on coming to the Festivus celebration to see for himself. The celebration itself is as raucous as you’d expect. And of course, George ends up being the one who has to perform the Feats of Strength.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

No Tomorrow 1.06: “No Debts Remain Unpaid”

“Hank, I need your help. They’re not after you, they’re after me.”
- Xavier

While this episode of “No Tomorrow” may seem like it’s about debts based on the title, it is all about relationships. Evie and Xavier seem to be in a really good place and they are continued to knock things off their lists. When we catch up with them at the top of the episode they ar buying lots of hideous pottery and garden gnomes to do lawn bowling. They’re having a lot of fun but it probably won’t last. For one thing, Evie decides to let her parents crash with her while they rent out the house for a few months to get some money. Her dad’s acting career hasn’t taken off (gee, who’d have guessed). But Xavier also has some drama of his own to deal with this week. First, he gets an unsolicited letter from his father. He tries to burn it but Evie stops him.

Then, when he’s out for coffee with Hank, he sees a black van following them. After he and Hank split up, he sees them following him again and calls Hank for help. They furiously try to spook-proof Xavier’s house when Xavier discovers that they are repo agents because he’s maxed out all his credit cards and hasn’t paid any of the bills in months so he owes over $9,000. To cover at least a little of the debt, the repo men take everything in his house. He then tries to return the broken shards of the pottery and gnomes but only gets a few bucks back. Hey, I have to side with the store clerk on this one. You can’t return seriously destroyed merchandise. That’s just not cool.

While Xavier tries to hide his financial woes from Evie, she’s busy trying to hang with her Kareema. Karemma has enlisted Evie to be a buffer with Kareema’s brother’s new fiancee. She thinks that the girl is going to be awful, just like the rest of the women he’s dated in the past but it turns out Kareem amore than likes her future sister-in-law. She’s developing some actual, human feelings! She is kind of freaking out about it until she spends some time alone with the girl and they end up making out in a sauna. I’m not surprised that Kareema is into women. It seems like it would fit her personality and the “I don’t care” attitude she’s got going on. But she’s definitely going to care about this snag. That’s going to be a major complication for the marriage!

Speaking of marriages that are on the rocks, Evie notices that her mother is really stressed out about the fact that they have to crash with Evie and that her dad made the decision to quit his job without asking or even bringing it up. I can’t say I blame Evie’s mom. I’d be furious if my fiance did something like that to me. But Evie’s dad seems so happy with his life and so her mom won’t say anything to burst his bubble. Evie thinks a trip out on the water for a wine cruise is a great idea to sort of trick her mom into being honest with her dad. She apparently gets very talkative when she’s drunk. Unfortunately, there’s a mixup at the docks and they get stuck on a land-locked fake pirate ship. Evie’s mom gets drunk and starts talking but then ends up falling into the ocean. Evie manages to fix things between her parents though by recreating their first New Years together. Xavier eventually comes clean to Evie about his financial problems and says he’s sold his house. He can’t afford anything fancy but he ends up buying a trailer which at least for the time being is parked outside Evie’s house. If it weren’t hooked up to a car already, I’d say that was a touch creepy but you know, it’s kind of endearing. And I’m glad they are going to try and get through the situation together. And Evie gives the letter back. Maybe one day (before the end of the season) Xavier will actually read it and call his dad. I want to know what happened between them that he is putting off getting back in touch. If the world really is doomed, I can’t imagine he’d want to wait and have a fiery space rock hit the planet without resolving that giant chip on his shoulder.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention Hank and Deidre. Oh, how i wish I didn’t have to talk about them to be honest. They are trying to start up their relationship, especially now that Hank realizes he’s got feelings for her. Of course, there’s the issue of them being in a manager-subordinate reporting structure to deal with. Hank thinks he can solve this by requesting a transfer. I wish he’d just forget her whispering in his ear turns him on because office romances are never good. The minute you stop accepting the sexual advances and something negative happens, you’re more likely than not going to come crying to my organization about discrimination and or retaliation. It just isn’t pretty. Neither is Hank taking Timothy’s weird romance advice of finding out what Deirdre is interested in and then pretending to be interested in it. To be honest, the date that Hank and Deidre went on was so uncomfortable I can’t even write about it. They are the worst part of an otherwise entertaining show. I mean, i don’t think the show is going to win any awards but it’s still quirky and fun. My one other gripe is I wish it were a half hour long. They drag things out and I feel like it would work better in a shorter format. The emotional and comedic beats would hit better if they didn’t have to be stretched out over such a long period of time.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

No Tomorrow 1.05: "No Regrets"

“Tomorrow at lunch, I am going to apologize so hard, Fern won’t know what hit her!”

After an episode that was a bit of a downer, “No Tomorrow” returned to being the cute show that leaves me smiling. I was a little disturbed by the plot, where a high school frienmy basically Single White Females Evie, but there was good stuff on the Evie and Xavier front by the end of the episode, which was enough for me. Also kind of disturbing were the latest developments with Deirdre and Hank. I just really don’t support their relationship at all. It’s all kinds of problematic in a power imbalance kind of way, and I just don’t see the chemistry at all. The sooner that mess is over, the better, as far as I’m concerned. Overall, though, this episode was a return to the lighthearted tone that led me to enjoy the series so much in the first place.

After playing shopping card slingshot, Evie and Xavier try to decide which Apoca-list items to tackle next. They pass by building (and having sex in) a blanket fort to move to tougher stuff. Xavier encourages Evie to try and make amends with her high school friend, Fern. They were planning on trying out for colorguard co-captains together, but at the last minute, Evie was recruited by the volleyball team. Fern would spend the rest of high school as a social pariah. I was in colorguard myself in high school, and I’ve got to say that I wasn’t super impressed by Evie and Fern’s routine. How about some double-time drop spins finished off with a toss, ladies! Anyway, Evie gets Kareema to look through the Cybermart database to find Fern, and it turns out that Fern’s last order was 400 pounds of cat food. Evie is petrified that she really did ruin Fern’s life and that Fern became a crazy cat lady, but she goes to her place anyway. She’s just about to chicken out when Fern appears.

Meanwhile, there’s the usual shenanigans happening in the romance department. Hank and Deirdre continue to flirt. OR more like Deirdre harasses Hank constantly. He makes him get close to her desk so she can tell him she likes the lavender Post-its he picks out and that she wants to go salsa dancing. Hank swears to Timothy that he’s still really devoted to his internet girlfriend, so much so that he begins to initiate the procedures to meet her in real life. Timothy, meanwhile, has signed up for an app that is supposed to match you with your true soulmate. Evie is still firmly in the dating app world herself, and she still gets constant alerts from all her apps (including the soul mate one) much to Xavier’s chagrin. He knows he should have picked telling Evie how he feels as his tough list item to tackle, but instead, he decides to try and right the wrong he committed when he stole a friend’s baseball card as a kid.

The meeting with Fern seems to go a lot better than Evie expected it would. Fern went to grad school and traveled the world, and now she’s running an international animal rescue organization. Evie really wants to get into charity, too, so she’s kind of jealous. She’s also glad she didn’t completely ruin Fern’s life. Fern’s reaction to Evie’s apology is just to say that it was a long time ago, which Evie later realizes wasn’t true forgiveness. Fern offers to try and work out a way for Evie to work for her rescue organization, and they agree to talk it over at lunch the next day at Cybermart. Meanwhile, Xavier has made some progress on his list item, too. He has easily located the baseball card in question. There’s just one problem. It is currently on display at a sports museum, and he and Evie are going to have to steal it.

Timothy joins Hank on his mission to make contact with Hank’s internet girlfriend, who I am going to call Winnie. Hank finds an envelope with a burner phone in it, but they are quickly distracted when Timothy’s soul mate app reveals that his soulmate is Evie. Both Timothy and Evie kind of play soul mate chicken throughout the episode, both hoping the other will be the first to initiate the rejection process. Later, when they are sitting on a park bench waiting for Winnie’s latest signal that hasn’t shown up yet, Timothy accuses Hank of being catfished yet again. Hank, however, calls out Timothy for being unwilling to reject Evie on the soul mate app. It’s time for Timothy to move on, and he has been seeing Bianca from the wrestling match in the last episode, even if she is a little scary.

The baseball card theft is ultimately successful, but it doesn’t go down as Evie and Xavier planned. They’re waiting in a closet until the museum closes, so naturally they decide that sex would be a great way to pass the time. Unfortunately, they are caught by a security guard just as they are starting to take their clothes off. The security guard is willing to let them go in exchange for a make-out session with Xavier, so Xavier distracts the guard while Evie switches out the baseball card in question for a Nolan Ryan card that is actually worth a lot more. When Xavier goes to return the card to his friend, though, he learns that his friend’s housekeeper was blamed for the theft and fired. Now Xavier has yet another person he needs to apologize to.

Meanwhile, Fern hasn’t just not forgiven Evie, she’s decided to ruin her life. Deirdre informs Evie that she was being considered for her dream job in the CyberHugs division when she got a reference check call from Fern. Deirdre is very upset that Evie has been looking for another job, so CyberHugs might just be of the table. Deirdre also crashes the lunch meeting between Evie and Fern the next day and offers to give Fern a consulting gig with CyberHugs to start up an animal rescue division. The next day, Fern calls a staff meeting to present her plan, but Evie isn’t notified of the meeting. Fern later tells Evie that’s because she accidentally sent the invite to “Evil” instead of “Evie.” Guess there really has been no forgiveness after all. They eventually have a big confrontation when Fern leaves a volleyball with the note “it’s on” on Evie’s chair. Deirdre overhears the blow-up and has some choice words for Evie. Fern explains she’s working on a sporting equipment drive for CyberHugs, and she does her best to make Evie feel like an idiot.

Meanwhile, Hank is still trying to arrange a meet-up with Winnie, and Timothy still has refused to reject Evie on the soul mate app. Eventually, and Kareema’s prodding, Evie rejects Timothy, and Hank tells Timothy to take this as a sign. For Hank’s part, he does eventually meet Winnie in person, and while they click on a friend level (matching conspiracy theories and all), they don’t have romantic chemistry. Hank ends up presenting Deirdre with a Post-it bouquet of flowers and salsa dancing with her, and it was super gross. As for Timothy, the soul mate app ends up matching him with Fern next, so I guess her Single White Female-ing will continue.

Xavier goes to the house of the cleaning lady and finds out that she moved away and died several years ago. At her grave, Evie and Xavier decide words aren’t enough, and they need to put their amends into action. Deirdre offers Evie the CyberHugs job just because corporate said she had to offer it to an employee before a contractor. Evie choreographs a colorguard routine to tell Fern that she turned the job down for her. They seem to make up, but I’m not sure how long this will last. Xavier finds the cleaning lady’s daughter, who is now a therapist. She gives him forgiveness, and she also gives him good advice to put all his cards on the table with Evie. When Xavier does finally tell Evie he wants to be monogamous, she puts the phone away and says that’s what she wants too. Next thing you know, it’s sex in a blanket fort time, and all is well again.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Fresh off the Boat 3.04: "Citizen Jessica"

“Well, you know, taxes aren’t all bad. They pay for stuff we need like roads and schools.”

I don’t usually get political publically because of my job (which is a government, albeit not federal, job), but I felt like I had to stick up for myself and my fellow devoted public servants with this particular Quote of the Episode. In the current political climate, let us not forget all the things government provides for us, like schools, roads, bridges, safe food, clean water and air, police and fire protection, breakthrough scientific research, basic food, shelter, and health care if we fall on hard times. Those things must all be paid for. We don’t get stuff without paying for it, therefore we have taxes. If you want less taxes, you’re also going to get less stuff (or watered down, crappy stuff). I take a significantly lower salary than I could probably earn in the private sector (I am still a licensed attorney, after all) because I truly believe in doing the right thing for the taxpayers I serve, and I know many government employees who feel the same way. This episode, which aired before the November 8 election and seems rather naïve post-election, celebrates everything the United States is supposed to be. Somehow Cattleman’s Ranch has become a polling place, and Louis takes on Election Day with gusto. As he is wont to do, he truly believes in our democratic republic form of government, and he tries to convince Jessica of its worth too. By the end, she makes a big, related decision, and the journey to her arriving at that point is truly interesting to watch.

As the episode opens, Louis and the Cattleman’s Ranch staff are decorating the restaurant for Election Day, because as I mentioned in the intro, the restaurant is inexplicably going to be a polling place, and all the employees election judges. The boys ask Jessica if she’s actually going to vote this year, and she says no, because she doesn’t think her one vote would actually matter. It’s the election of 1996, so it’s Bill Clinton vs. Bob Dole. As you might not guess from reading the blog, I was totally a Republican as a kid about Eddie’s age in the 90’s, so I was Team Dole myself. I also managed to help convince my classmates to vote for Ross Perot in the 1992 elementary school election, giving the Texas billionaire probably his only electoral win. Anyway, the Huang kids are politically divided. Eddie is for Clinton, because Tupac just died, and Eddie wants better gun control laws. Emery thinks Bob Dole seems like a nice old man, so he’s on board. Evan is the Nate Silver of the family, concerned only with the electoral math. He doesn’t think Dole has a chance of winning.

Jessica is still progressing in her real estate career, and she is super excited to be closing on her first mini-mansion. It’s got four bedrooms and ten bathrooms, but somehow she made the ratio work for her. As she is leaving the property, however, rival Raul Ruiz drives by. Jessica mocks him for only selling condos, but he says that the tax consequences made selling bigger properties not worth his time. Jessica does some frantic research and complains to Louis that what Ruiz said is indeed true. Louis tries to point out all the good things taxes pay for, but Jessica isn’t buying it. Later, they see some political commercials when watching television together. Jessica thinks they are all meaningless attempts at emotional manipulation, but a commercial about a proposition related to undocumented immigrants captures her attention. She doesn’t think it’s fair that she, who entered the country legally, has to pay taxes, while undocumented immigrants don’t (although they really do pay some taxes, at the very least sales taxes in states that have one). Her dissatisfaction grows when Cattleman’s cook Hector shows up in his tricked-out car and talks about how he’s incorporated so he doesn’t pay taxes. Jessica suspects he’s undocumented, too.

Meanwhile, Eddie and his friends are psyched that they have the second best table in the cafeteria. During lunch, they celebrate their good fortune and debate theories about how Tupac died. Some of the guys think Biggie is the culprit, but Eddie, an avid viewer of MTV News, doesn’t believe that theory. He notes that Puffy wouldn’t let his friend do something so stupid, and plus, Biggie only travels by train, and the time that would take would diffuse any anger he had towards Tupac. Eddie thinks Suge Knight is the culprit. One of the other guys accuses Tupac of being a poser (he took ballet classes) and thinks Courtney Love killed him. Tony Danza is the next theory thown out by the group. One of the guys doesn’t even know who Tupac is. The argument keeps escalating until the boys don’t want to eat lunch together anymore.

Jessica starts putting up signs in favor of the proposition at the restaurant, which makes Hector understandably upset. It makes Louis upset, too, since it constitutes electioneering too close to a polling place. Let me just take a pause for a minute here to gnaw on a pet peeve. Television writers, who for the most part live in California, seem to be under the mistaken assumption that most of the country uses ballot measures as abundantly as they do. In actuality, the use of ballot measures (which aren’t called propositions in Florida, by the way) increases drastically as you head west. We have maybe one or two constitutional amendments up for a vote any given general election here in Maryland. There would be no “Proposition 187” like Jessica is campaigning for in an East Coast state. And now I’ll take my political science major/lawyer/public policy master’s degree holder hat off.

Jessica makes Hector so upset that he drives off, which is a bad thing because he’s the only one with a key to the freezer. Emery and Evan are also determined to violate electioneering laws. Emery is handing out Bob Dole buttons to everyone. Evan decides to help to prove that Emery’s campaigning ultimately won’t make a difference. He also mocks a guy who says he’s going to vote for the Green Party. None of this really seems funny anymore after our most recent election. Louis is about to scold the boys, but he’s got bigger problems. Hector is staging a full-on protest outside the restaurant. He’s brought is car club and everything. Jessica has an idea to put a stop to it, though. She’s called INS. Hector drives off again. The biggest surprise, however, is that the INS agent says he found two undocumented immigrants. Hector…and Jessica.

Fighting with all his friends, Eddie is home watching MTV with Grandma Huang. Grandma has some sage advice, reminding Eddie of Biggie and Tupac and how there’s a fine line between love and hate. She doesn’t want Eddie’s relationship with his friends to become a rap war. Eddie watches Tupac’s latest music video and comes to an epiphany. He gathers the boys together and shows them the video. Tupac is wearing sneakers that weren’t released until after his death. This leads Eddie to believe that Eddie is actually still alive, and all the boys coalesce around this theory. After all, it would be a great money making scheme for a famous artist to pretend to have died. They boys regain their friendship, although they unfortunately don’t regain their prized cafeteria table.

It turns out that Jessica just neglected to fill out the paperwork to renew her green card, so it’s not going to be too much trouble to fix her status. Louis tries to use the incident to inspire Jessica to have more sympathy for Hector and others like him. He emphasizes that Hector was brought to the United States as a baby, and he has a family here. Jessica does take the message to heart, and she takes Hector to her immigration lawyer, who has a plan to sort out his status, too. After everything, Jessica decides she finally wants to become a U.S. citizen. As for the election, you know how that went. There was low turnout, and Clinton was reelected in a landslide. The local news anchor does note, however, that Bob Dole won the precinct at Cattleman’s Ranch. Emery is pretty proud of himself for proving Evan wrong.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This Is Us 1.10: “Last Christmas”

“Nothing bad ever happens on Christmas Eve.”
- Rebecca

Just when you thought you were recovered from the tense family gathering at Thanksgiving, we are hit with Christmas! We begin in 1989 when the Big Three are nine years old. Their house is a plethora of wrapped gifts and they have plans to go caroling and to church. But that’s all put on hold when Kate’s appendix nearly bursts and she needs emergency surgery. As the rest of the Pearsons wait for her to come out of surgery, Rebecca happens to find Dr. K in a room as a patient. He was in a car accident and he doesn’t seem overly confident he’s going to survive the night, thanks to some internal bleeding. But as Jack and Rebecca talk to him, he seems to liven up. And as young Kevin goes by the chapel and decides he’ll try praying for Kate (he was clinging to the bed rail as they wheeled her down to the OR and Jack had to pull him off), Randall buys a light up snow globe as a thank you to Dr. K for his part in the Pearsons’ adopting him. I’ll tell you, it was a simple gesture on Randall’s part but I started crying like a baby!

In the present, we learn that Olivia has disappeared and the play isn’t going to happen. That seems like a really dick move on Olivia’s part but maybe Kevin’s harsh reality check did some good (obviously not from Sloane’s perspective…hey I finally figured out her name!). But because Sloane and Kevin slept together and then Sloane told her mother that she was dating the Man-ny, Kevin gets roped into Chanukah dinner. It actually turns out really well because we see that Slone has a really creative way of telling the story which leads Kevin to convince her that she should be the lead in the play and he’ll put his own money into producing the play. He says they need to have faith in each other (which I’m guessing stems from his praying back in 1989).

Meanwhile, Kate and Rebecca are at a consultation for the gastric bypass surgery. The doctor is explaining not only the risks of the surgery but the harshness of Kate’s new reality. Her stomach will be the size of an egg and all of the side effects that can come with eating too much or something her stomach can’t handle. And then as the doctor goes over some last minute medical information about depression and binge-eating, Rebecca is rather horrified to learn that Kate has dealt with both of those things as an adult. In the car on the way to Rebecca and Miguel’s to change, Rebecca asks if she’s responsible for Kate’s weight and Kate admits she isn’t sure (which is probably part of what Kate needs to get a handle on before she can really work out what she needs to be happy). But then mother and daughter share a bit of laughter at Miguel trying to blow up one of those ridiculous inflatable snowmen on the front lawn.

Just when you think things can’t take any more of an emotional turn, we get to William attending an NA meeting. He’s sharing with the room about how he finally got his act together and one day, Randall came knocking and he was grateful for the support of the people around him so that he could be there to meet his son finally. He does it in the way that he always speaks, in such a poetic kind of way. And then another man, Jesse, shares a story which turns out to be about William. It seems that for a time, William and Jesse were in love (or at least Jesse was in love with William). And when William took off, Jesse fell back into his old habits to cope with the pain of the abandonment. After the meeting, William tries to seek Jesse’s forgiveness and in the end, Jesse asks to spend whatever time William has left together. I honestly was not expecting William to be bisexual or to learn it in such a way.

Randall isn’t having a much better night. Everyone else has cancelled on them for Christmas dinner and he and Beth are stuck at a work party. As his boss is handing out bonuses, Beth confronts Randall about buying some guy’s boat without even consulting her. When he goes to try and give it back (to make her happy), he finds the guy getting ready to jump off the roof. Much like the William reveal, I was not expecting Randall to have to talk the guy out of committing suicide! And yet, with a very impassioned speech which I hope he will listen to himself with regard to Rebecca, he convinces the guy not to do it (just as Beth shows up wondering what is going on).

Once Randall, Beth and the girls get home, everyone else slowly starts showing up, even Toby. Kate takes him back and they quite happily have some make up sex. Tess also casually points out to William that William is gay, or at least bisexual and the look on Randall’s face is kind of hilarious. It’s just like, oh, okay cool. I liked how for a time, everyone was happy and getting along until Toby stands up and then keels over. As we watch Kate wake up in the past and Dr. K survive his surgery, we see that Toby doesn’t make it. Or at least he flat lines, leaving us on a horrible cliffhanger until mid-January. I have to admit, I knew we would get the usual heart gripping drama with this fall finale, I but I was honestly blown away by the various reveals. I honestly can’t remember a show that’s made such an impact on me in so few episodes! This show really is special, even if it turns me into a blubbering mess nine times out of ten.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Once Upon a Time 6.10: “Wish You Were Here”

“I risked my life to come here because you’re the Savior. Your family needs you.”
- Regina

Emma is not wasting any time trying to figure out a way to use the sword that’s destined to kill her. But when she, Regina and Hook head to Regina’s vault, they encounter the Evil Queen. She taunts them and then they discover an interesting little secret. The sword can harm the Evil Queen, but not Regina. So of course, the Evil Queen is not happy about this. But hey, Rumple’s pleased as punch. He slaps one of those tracking cuffs on the Evil Queen’s wrist and then says he’s off to find his boy and he’s going to let Emma kill her. Unfortunately, the Evil Queen is thinking ahead and nabs Aladdin’s lamp. When Emma, Hook and Charming go off to confront her, the Queen uses Aladdin to grant Emma’s wish of not being the Savior.

When next we see Emma, she is celebrating her birthday in the Enchanted Forest. Snow and Charming have aged as they should have if the Queen’s spell had never been cast. We see that Henry still came along (via Neal who is sadly still dead…but he’s got a nice portrait hanging in the castle). Henry is getting ready to be knighted the next day which is kind of adorable. But things are not all happy for the princess. She shares a dream she had the Queen had cast the curse and she was the Savior and in Storybrooke. And she produces the sword that’s meant to kill her. Her parents aren’t worried though. I mean, for them, the Queen’s been defeated for something like thirty plus years.

Back in Storybrooke, after some brief squabbling, Regina has a plan to use the Queen’s plan against her. She shows up at the mayor’s office and after some bantering, Regina points out that they are in fact the same person which makes Regina master of the lamp too and she has Aladdin send her to where Emma is. Unfortunately for her, she runs into the dwarves who aren’t keen to hear her out about being good. She then runs into Emma and the Charmings and she has t hightail it out of there before she gets skewered. She ends up back at her old palace where she finds an absolutely deranged Rumple. He’s been locked away so long he’s kind of turned into Gollum (although he doesn’t talk to himself in the third person). He ends up convincing Regina to make a deal: his freedom for a magic bean to get her home. And he tells her that she needs to act like the Evil Queen to jump start Emma’s Savior-ness. So Regina (as the Queen) crashes Henry’s knighting ceremony (which is somewhat reminiscent of David and Snow’s wedding all those years ago). You can see Regina trying to goad Emma into heroics (to wake her up) but she’s pretty useless. It’s kind of sad really. But once Regina takes Snow and David, Emma seems to get her butt in gear. We can hope, anyway. Yeah, it takes Henry nearly killing Regina (after she’s killed these versions of Snow and David) to snap Emma out of it and get her to remember who she is supposed to be. I’m glad this whiny version of Emma is gone. She was getting on my nerves and she was only in like three scenes! Rumple comes through with his magic bean but before the ladies can go home, a familiar face pops up: Robin Hood. And he’s robbing them. Regina is so freaked out that they miss their portal. Okay, I knew Robin was coming back and it wouldn’t be a flashback but okay I wasn’t expecting this!

The episode wouldn’t be complete without some Rumple family drama, too. He tries to track baby Gideon using the same magic globe he used to find Neal (and Henry in Neverland). But it doesn’t work. I have a feeling perhaps his mother took the baby. So he goes to see Belle and at least takes off the cuff and then urges her to call the convent. Something has happened to their baby and Blue! They go to the convent and learn that in fact, Rumple’s mom has taken baby Gideon and apparently in her creepy realm, time moves differently.

Meanwhile, David is fuming that he can’t find Emma and he doesn’t want to sit around waiting for things to happen. So he decides to come up with a plan to get the lamp and end the Queen’s reign once and for all. I admire your determination, David, but for once listen to the one-handed pirate. You don’t have magic on your side with Emma and Regina gone. What are you going to do, go to Gold? Yeah right. It turns out he lied to Hook to keep him occupied while David went to confront the Queen on his own. She tosses him about like a rag doll for a few minutes but it fits in with his plan perfectly. It positions himself to grab the lamp and become Aladdin’s new master.

David’s wish to give the Evil Queen everything she deserves backfires and it takes Hook, Jasmine and Henry busting into the room to stop the Queen from killing David. But their problems are far from over. Because as the Queen takes a stroll down Main Street, a hooded figure emerges and turns her into a snake. I’m thinking Jafar is back somehow. I mean you don’t cast Oded Fahr in the role for one episode. You just don’t. But this is supposed to be in continuity with “Wonderland” and when we left him, he was a genie as well. Very intriguing! And as soon as Rumple said that time ran differently (and Grumpy showed up with the Queen as a snake), I knew that it was in fact Gideon under the hood. Very interesting, indeed that it seems all of Belle’s efforts to protect her son from Rumple’s influence have failed because the boy looks evil (taking after grandma). And now we have to wait until March for more!

No Tomorrow 1.04: "No Holds Barred"

“You have this way of making crazy things seem almost logical.”

“No Holds Barred” was the first episode of “No Tomorrow” that didn’t leave me smiling at the end. Evie begins to realize the full consequences of Xavier’s completely carefree lifestyle when she finds another woman at her house, and at the same time Xavier starts to realize that he might not want to be carefree anymore when it comes to Evie. The two don’t communicate well, which is understandable considering how new their relationship is, and a typical rom com misunderstanding situation ensues. On the positive side, Xavier and Timothy meet and hang out, which is hilarious and just as awkward as you’d expect once they each realize who the other is. What’s awesome is that they really like each other until they figure out the Evie connection. Timothy is a tech writer, and Xavier loves gadgets and such, so it’s a match made in heaven. Too bad they’re fighting over the same woman. That bromance could be fun to watch longer-term.

Early in the episode, Evie is enjoying time with Xavier, but she’s still reluctant to push any of her personal boundaries. She doesn’t want to try any of the bone marrow Xavier orders (it’s on his apoca-list) at a restaurant, and when he spills hot coffee on himself and jumps in a fountain to cool off, she’s very reluctant to join him. The next day at work, Evie asks Kareema if she thinks she’s uptight. Kareema responds by playing a joke on Evie about her shirt being unbuttoned, when Evie isn’t even wearing a button-down shirt. Clearly, Evie is indeed uptight. Not as uptight is Kareema, who has the hots for a ripped Russian guy in shipping named Mikhail. When she and Evie talk with Mikhail, Mikhail mentions recent customer complaints about late orders and how it’s all fulfillment’s fault.

Evie thinks they should send a fake package to figure out where the problem is. Kareema suggests that Evie should share her idea at the morning meeting, but Evie declines, because Deirdre doesn’t like it when other people talk at meetings. Unfortunately for Evie, an intern (male, of course) blurts out Evie’s idea at the meeting, and Deirdre gives him a “boldness bonus” for it. This is the final straw for Evie, who vows to take more chances. She immediately heads to Xavier’s, informs him of her decision, and takes off her shirt while still outside. When she walks inside the house, she sees another woman seated comfortably, eating. She introduces herself as Tuesday. Clearly this relationship with Xavier isn’t what Evie thought it was.

Meanwhile, Hank and Deirdre are still fretting over whatever they’ve got going on with each other. Deirdre still hasn’t won Hank over despite her best efforts. Hank keeps trying to run away from her. When Hank and Timothy stop by a newsstand to buy a copy of the magazine in which Timothy’s article was just published, they end up making a deal with each other. Timothy will try actively hitting on women (he’s only dated women he knew through other people before) if Hank trains for his favorite television show, “American Samurai Warrior.” When Deirdre asks him about his plans, Hank just says he’s going to start working out. Deirdre offers to help him, but Hank quickly says that Mikhail is going to be the one to train him. Mikhail, however, pretty much just has Hank lift boxes. In other words, Mikhail uses Hank to do all his work for him.

Xavier tries to explain to Evie that with eight months left to live, he doesn’t want to be tied down. He hasn’t slept with Tuesday since he started seeing Evie, but he’d like to leave the option open. He’s a firm believer in “ethical non-monogomy.” Evie’s not at all happy about this, and she unsuccessfully tries to convince Kareema that she does push boundaries sometimes. Kareema invites Evie to join her “pansexual posse at the Pleather Palace” that evening, and Evie accepts to try and prove her point. She goes into a bathroom stall to cut up her shirt to look “Pleather Palace” appropriate, and she’s mortified to discover Deirdre in the next stall over. Deirdre, of course, just wants to complain again about how things with Hank aren’t going well. Evie helpfully proposes the “Mariposa theory,” where she suggests Deirdre approach Hank quietly like a butterfly because maybe then he’ll land on her.

Evie and Hank both spend the early part of their evening trying to prove they’re different than what people think they are. Evie tries her darndest to have fun at the Pleather Palace, even though it’s clearly not her scene and she’s kind of freaked out by the six shots Kareema orders for them to share. Xavier and Tuesday, meanwhile, are having drinks after naked yoga. Tuesday remarks that Xavier and Evie seem to be kind of serious, but Xavier insists he’s still the same non-monogamous free spirit as always. He even goes in to make out with Tuesday to make his point. The next morning, Evie is super proud of herself as she vomits in the toilet at work. She pushed some boundaries, and Kareema even put some dating apps on her phone.

Deirdre, however, is not doing so well in the love department. Deirdre takes the Mariposa theory too literally, and she holds out her arm to Hankn, telling him he’s safe. He scrambles off, understandably worried for his safety, and he goes back to stacking boxes for Mikhail. Deirdre sees him doing this, and she later puts the whole picture together when she hears him talking to Timothy about how he wants to train “American Samurai Warrior” style. The next day, Hank finds a Samurai course in the midst of the shelves of boxes waiting to be shipped. He goes to town and really enjoys using the course, finally succeeding at setting off the buzzer.

After letting him stew a bit, Evie gets a drink with Xavier. She tells him she’s open to pushing her personal boundaries a bit, and what do you know, Amy Brenneman shows up. A threesome with her is on Xavier’s list, and Evie knows it. Still acting like she feels kind of uncomfortable about it, Evie tells Xavier they should ask Amy for a threesome. They do so, and understandably, Amy turns them down. She does take a free drink from them, though. Evie and Xavier end up having sex to a recording of Amy (in “Judging Amy,” I presume?), and they consider that good enough for Xavier’s list. The mood is ruined a little when Evie’s phone starts ringing constantly with alerts from dating apps.

The phone is still ringing the next morning, and Evie swipes right for Mikhail of all people. Evie and Kareema talk to Mikhail at work, and he invites both of them out with him and his brother. Kareema is super enthusiastic about this and drags Evie along for the ride, even though Evie is worried she won’t live up to the party girl Mikhail thinks she is. She also feels like she’s cheating on Xavier. In the midst of all this, Evie notices there’s a huge wall of boxes between the Shipping and Fulfillment departments. It’s a major source of the tension between the two departments, because neither department will walk around the wall to talk to the other. It’s leading to many inefficiencies, and Evie decides to look into it.

Mikhail and his brother take Kareema and Evie out to wrestling, and it goes up on social media. Xavier is at a bar stewing over this when he meets none other than Timothy. Xavier loves Timothy’s column, so they bro out for a while. They start both talking about Evie without the other realizing it. Xavier does his usual thing and tries to raise Timothy’s self-esteem. Xavier invites Timothy to join him at the blood moon party. Meanwhile, at the wrestling match, Mikhail and his brother are actually wrestlers called the Python Brothers. They mention that ladies’ mud wrestling is up next, and Kareema and Evie decide to try it. They have quite a lot of fun, even being completely covered in mud.

At the blood moon party, Xavier and Timothy dance around after realizing they have probably smoked a bit much. Tuesday is there too, and she’s got a friend, which leads to the suggestion of a foursome. The group is in the hot tub, and Timothy is enjoying himself. Xavier, however, can’t go forward with it. He’s too invested in Evie. Xavier asks where people go to watch wrestling – he wants to let Evie know how he feels. Xavier and Timothy end up at the match, and they are both shocked to see Evie covered in mud. And that she’s the ex they’ve both been talking about. The whole things becomes a really awkward confrontation that Timothy eventually walks away from. He gets to make out with a waitress, so it’s not all bad for him. Evie gets upset with Xavier for ruining the date that was Xavier’s suggestion in the first place, and she walks out with the Pythons and Kareema.

As they’re leaving the match, Mikhail says he’s impressed at how many suitors Evie has been with. The Pythons suggest a five-way with the four of them and the (real) python that inspired their name, and that’s the final straw for Evie. The next day, though, Evie does something positive at work. She takes down the wall of boxes between Shipping and Fulfillment. She even offers to rewrite the quality control manual so that the wall doesn’t happen again. And the wall comes tumbling down. In the chaos, Hank thanks Mikhail for building the obstacle course, and Mikhail says he didn’t. Then Deirdre reveals herself as the obstacle course builder. She makes an impression on Hank yet again. The end of the episode, however, just made me sad. Xavier resolves to tell Evie about his feelings about how he wants to be monogamous now, but Evie kind of ruins it. She says she’s super excited to push her personal boundaries, and she’s grateful Xavier encouraged her to push herself. She wants to try dating casually now.

The Good Place 1.09: “…Someone Like Me as a Member”

“I truly believe the Good Place is where you belong. You’re part of our team.”
- Michael

So, we have reached the fall finale. When last we left our gang, the folks from the Bad Place have come to collect our Eleanor and Michael isn’t letting them take her. But now they’ve revealed that they have the “good” Eleanor, too and I suspect now that she is around, Chidi may be drawn to her. Well, before we even get to Chidi and the other Eleanor, we learn quite a bit of interesting facts about the two women. They shared more than just a name in life. They both died at the exact same time in the same parking lot being hit by the same truck. The Eleanor who has been in the Bad Place stepped in to try and save our Eleanor. And apparently the Architects don’t know what people look like on Earth, they are just little red dots on a map. So I guess it makes perfect sense how the two Eleanors were swapped to the wrong places.

Micheal is going to try and fight to keep our Eleanor in the Good Place, but that means negotiating with Trevor and his Bad Place crew. I’ll be honest; I don’t know why Trevor even has a crew. I guess to be foils for our characters but they are all pretty terrible. They’re basically annoying hipster types and I just want to smack them all upside the head. Michael’s first attempt at negotiating fails miserably. Because he’s never experienced negative emotions and had to deal with bad people, he thinks offering something wholesome like a unicorn as a trade for our Eleanor will work. Trevor pretty much traumatizes Michael with what he’ll do to said unicorn so Michael goes to Tahani for help.

Meanwhile, our Eleanor is seriously getting jealous as she watches Chidi and the other Eleanor connect instantly. I mean, they are technically soulmates so that would make sense that they are connected and just seem to get each other and fit perfectly. The other Eleanor loves the house and even reveals there’s a button the ledge that creates stairs to get into the bedroom. The other Eleanor describes all the terrible things she was subjected to in the Bad Place and Chidi suggests they get something to eat and so the pair of them, along with our Eleanor and Trevor end up at the Good Plate. Trevor is making the experience as unpleasant as possible cause he’s just a huge dick like that and wants Eleanor to see what it’s like where she’s going. But it only serves to make our Eleanor more irritated. We do learn that her parents split when she was 8 and in flashbacks we see that she’s never been a team player. In high school she basically announced to everyone that didn’t want to join any of their groups because they were all lame. Then as she got older, she just became contrary for the hell of it, until she ended up at the job she was at when she died. The other Eleanor was an orphan whose adoptive parents died at age 4.

Elsewhere, Michael thinks hosting a party at Tahani’s place is a good idea. He thinks that giving the crew from the Bad Place some nice food and drink will placate them and then they will respect them. Yeah, that’s pretty much the opposite of what happens. The crew walks all over Michael. They make him dance uncomfortably and then they do some weird karaoke (it isn’t even that because they are just lip synching to horrible historical speeches). But eventually, the crew passes out from a combination of too much alcohol and snorting the concept of time. Eleanor has a chance at that point to give Michael a pep talk. He needs to remember that he is smart and that he needs to take charge to make them listen to him.

As Chidi and the other Eleanor go off to explore the neighborhood, our Eleanor remains at the restaurant and starts drinking heavily with Trevor. At that point she seems to agree to go with him back to the Bad Place (even though Michael has said he wants her to stay and so does Chidi). The next morning she wakes up in the bath tub with a massive hang over. Apparently the bad crew made Janet turn off the hangover filter. She’s still recovering from her reboot and has to ask Jason for assistance on what a jalapeno popper is. He gets excited that he’s able to help and even gives her a hug.

The next round of negotiations is about to begin and Chidi promises to stand by our Eleanor. After all they are friends and a team. I think it’s important that he’s not abandoning her now that his real soul mate is there. I still think Chidi can be kind of annoying in his super ethical persona but he was mostly toned down this episode. When Trevor shares that Eleanor agreed to go back to the Bad Place she stands up for herself and tells him that she isn’t the same person as she was when she was living (or when she died). Thanks to the people in the Good Place, she’s becoming better and she wants to be like them. She wants to stay. And Michael actually grows a pair and tells Trevor he’s going to give the Bad Place crew nothing. They are keeping our Eleanor and if she doesn’t make the cut, then the Bad Place can have her but until then they are leaving without either Eleanor. Michael was pretty impressive in that scene I have to admit.

And because we couldn’t end the fall finale without a twist and cliffhanger, Jason is eating some junk food and about to slip into his bud hole when he finds Tahani sitting in it. She realizes now that he isn’t who he said he was and that she sees now that he’s been lying to her the whole time. She’s going to figure out who he is and what he’s doing there as ominous music plays. Something tells me the gang from the Bad Place may be making a return trip sooner than they thought.

The Good Place 1.08: “Most Improved Player”

“Well, I say we call it a day. I mean I nailed the questionnaire and you’re swimming in cacti, can’t we just chalk this up to a hilarious mistake and move on?”
- Eleanor

When last we left the Good Place, Michael was on the verge of “retiring” and Eleanor stood up and confessed that she didn’t belong there to get him to stay. Now of course that has consequences, which include a sort of play on the pilot and our two leads’ first meeting. We find Eleanor sitting in the waiting room and then Michael calls her in. Because Janet’s memory is still rebooting, every time Michael or Eleanor ask her for anything, she gives them a cactus. It’s a funny sight gag the first few times but got kind of old really fast. But we do get to see Michael try to figure out whether Eleanor actually belongs here based on a series of questions which include whether she committed any heinous crimes while alive, whether she paid money to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers in concert and whether she was an avid viewer of the Bachelor franchise.

When Michael still can’t determine whether Eleanor was a good person (I mean, she did lie about her age by four years … horror of horrors), he pulls out this glowing cube thing that can detect lies and truths. According to Michael, it hasn’t been sued before but it seems to be very accurate. And for once, Eleanor is completely truthful. She says she didn’t kill Janet but she knows who did and won’t say who. I’d almost forgotten he was still looking into what happened to Janet. While Michael is questioning Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani are waiting out in the waiting room. Tahani is furious that she was lied to and makes reference to feeling like her “good friend Taylor” when she was dissed by her “other good friend Kanye” who was defending her “best friend Beyoncé”. Honestly, I hate it when Tahani name drops like that. She thinks she’s so amazing for having friends who are celebrities but it just comes off as super pretentious and snooty. They also seem to be sort of pushing the Chidi and Tahani connection a bit more this episode, too. Still makes me wonder if the theory about them not having the right soul mates is true.

When Michael calls Tahani in, she gives him a wishy-washy answer about whether he should let Eleanor stay or not (as we saw before she went in, Chidi begs her to remember what Eleanor’s gone through). It wasn’t very helpful but then again, neither was Jason. All he did was give Michael a minor existential crisis and get pricked by a cactus. But then, Janet actually comes through and finds Eleanor’s file. This means Chidi doesn’t have to be questioned about Janet’s murder so his head won’t explode with the weight of the deed and his moral tug-of-war over whether to tell the truth and risk being kicked out. But it does mean that Eleanor now gets to explain the biggest moral events in her life, the things that were her biggest positive and negative life values. It starts out simple enough. There was a little girl whose mom wasn’t around much so Eleanor took her to the mall and bought her churro dogs (which sound absolutely revolting). Despite the grossness of the food choice, Michael agrees that it was a nice thing for Eleanor to do. And then he asks her about what turns out to be one of her lowest points.

Back in the day she had a horrible roommate who most definitely ended up in the Bad Place (or will once she’s dead) who wouldn’t let Eleanor wear her expensive dress to a party. So Eleanor tried it on anyway and ripped it, then said nothing and let her roommate sue the poor dry cleaner, forcing them out of business. Eleanor then sold a bunch of t-shirts with her roommate’s face on them saying “dress bitch”. To be fair, it was Eleanor’s other roommate who started up the shirt business. I mean, yes Eleanor didn’t say anything about the whole situation (and then used the money she got from the shirts to go buy the dress herself) but I didn’t think she should have been solely blamed for the whole thing. Even still, it’s enough for Michael to call down to the Bad Place and have their Architect come to take Eleanor away.

When the Bad Place crew shows up, Michael convinces them to give Eleanor a little time to say goodbye. She has a very touching moment with Chidi and even Tahani and Jason show up. You can tell she really doesn’t want to go and she has been making progress on becoming a better person. Once Eleanor gets on the train, we see Chidi confess everything to Michael. He admits he killed Janet and explains why it happened in the first place. He reiterates that Eleanor has been learning and pretty quickly at that. She doesn’t deserve to be kicked out. This galvanizes Michael to stop the train back to the Bad Place and take Eleanor back. It isn’t a permanent fix but he isn’t going to just let her go without a fight. Trevor, the Bad Place Architect, seems okay with that but he also says that he’s keeping the other Eleanor (who then steps off the train, looking a bit worse for wear … well as much as one does on this show). I mean, we kind of assumed that the good Eleanor was in the Bad Place this whole time but it was a bit of a shock to finally meet her. I did find it amusing that Trevor said and did a bunch of the things that were specifically noted as being things that would land you in the Bad Place. He told Eleanor to smile and I actually cringed at that (both times I watched the episode).

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

This Is Us 1.09: "The Trip"

“The moment I saw you, I knew you were my boy. You aren’t a choice, Randall, you are a fact. You were never a replacement son, do you understand?”
- Jack

Get ready for yet another emotional ride with the Pearson clan. Randall is still furious with Rebecca for what she did (he’s second maddest at William and then Beth). He’s going to make a list of every reason he is angry with his mother and then read it to her. Well, okay then. Before he can do that, though, Kevin reveals to Kate that Rebecca is selling the family cabin. They decide that going out there and spending the day just as The Big Three would be a great idea. After all, they all kind of have things to work through. Kevin is not having any of Kate’s surgery decision and she thinks he’s being kind of a dick in general now that he’s hanging with different people in New York.

In the past, we see Randall starting to question where he came from, going up to black people in the grocery store, asking if they can roll their tongue (it’s apparently an inherited trait). Rebecca is not happy about this but Jack tries to reassure her. And as they hang with their one black friend (from the pool), she suggests they find some male role models for Randall who are black. Jack takes Randall to a dojo run by a black man but Jack feels like maybe they should try and actually find Randall’s bio parents (and of course Rebecca is resisting). Rebecca is terrified not only that his biological parents could be dangerous (even though she knows he’s not really that bad) but also because she worries that they’ll be great and want him back. The next day, Rebecca goes to see William, not sure if he’s still in the same place. I suspect this is where she gives him the photo of Randall and the letter. Well, it isn’t the letter (yet) but she does fill William in on what Randall’s been up to and she shares that Randall has been asking about him and William gets all excited to meet Randall, scaring Rebecca away. We also get an absolutely moving scene when Randall is initiated into the dojo where Jack and then all the other fathers do push-ups with Randall on their backs to show him that they will be his community and his support. The devotion that Jack shows to his children is astounding. He may not be perfect but my God does he try so hard!

The Big Three get to the cabin and things start to fall apart quickly. Randall just wants to pack his stuff and leave but then Kevin had to go and invite Olivia (who brought the playwright and some hipster guy). Not cool, Kev. Not cool at all. Especially when they end up playing a board game and we learn that hipster guy dated Olivia. Kate kind of rips into her (and then Kevin) for bringing him there. I think this is the first time we’ve really seen the twins fight. And while they are bickering, Randall is having one hell of a trip thanks to drinking some of hipster guy’s mushroom smoothie. He wanders outside to find Jack fixing the roof. Oh boy! He starts ranting to Jack about what Rebecca has done and his imaginary father tells him that if Rebecca had kept that secret, it would have destroyed her (which I’m pretty sure is true). But imaginary Jack also tells Randall that he was wanted and loved. Randall decides in his altered state that he wants Rebecca to hurt as much as he does. That doesn’t sound good at all! But as he tries to yell at the memory of Rebecca, Jack reminds him to look through it and see what’s underneath. We find a very trapped and lonely Rebecca.

Kate thinks she’s got Olivia sorted out (at least the type of person that she is) but then Olivia accuses Kate of being jealous of Kevin and the fact that he’s changing and she’s not and that maybe even if she loses the weight, it won’t be enough. Kate is clearly shaken by this and lashes out at Kevin and then when she calls Toby to vent about everything, he basically tells her that if they are still broken up, he can’t be her support person. Harsh, Toby! Back in the cabin, we get a little outside insight into Olivia from the playwright (Olivia wrangled her into driving to the cabin instead of letting the playwright go to New York to be there for the birth of her niece). This ends up setting Kevin off a bit when they are watching old home movies and the hipster is clearly making fun of Kate. Kevin ends up giving them a piece of his mind (rightly so, defend your sister from the assholes) and they end up leaving.

Kevin finds Kate out in the woods and apologizes to her. And she admits that maybe she can’t do this all alone and she’s scared of the surgery (and more about not trying it). It looks like Kevin (still being a little selfish) convinces her to stay in New York to focus on herself. Sure it means less Toby but hey, we have the Big Three together again at least! The next day, Kate finds Kevin in bed with the playwright (better her than Olivia I suppose) and they find Randall fixing the house. Not for Rebecca, but for Jack. And as the episode comes to a close, he goes to see Rebecca and while he acknowledges that keeping the secret for so long must have been lonely, he’s not ready to forgive her yet. But he will see her at Christmas (which is the next episode). This was a very deep and painful episode for everyone but I think it needed to happen and it’s very good that it did. Just like in life, things take time to heal and I believe we are seeing that process unfold not only for Randall and Rebecca but Kate and Kevin, too.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Lucifer 2.10: “Quid Pro Ho”

“You need to see that you’re not meant to be together. You belong with your family.”
- Charlotte

We pick up right where we left off with Charlotte attempting to blow up Chloe’s car with her in it. Amenediel comes to the rescue and gets a taste of Mama’s powers. When he pleads with his mother to find another way to get Lucifer to go home with them, she decides to be more subtle about the way she goes about splitting the Devil and the Detective apart. After a short session with Linda in which she informs him that he’s lying to himself (and chickening out of the date with Chloe), he heads over to see Chloe and explain what happened. But there’s no time because she and her mother have to head off for the trial of her father’s actual killer. As they all sit in the courtroom, ready to take on the horror of reliving the murder again, Dan gets a package at the precinct, containing the severed head of the prosecution’s star witness (the Russian mobster). Without him, the case will likely fall apart. And as if that weren’t enough, Charlotte is going to be defending the killer!

At first Lucifer is hopeful that his mother will be terrible in court but she’s actually pretty adept, even managing to convince the judge not to grant a continuance to the prosecution (she weaseled her way into getting the other side to claim they have a rock solid case even without their witness). Lucifer is even more miffed to learn that Charlotte is trying to show Lucifer that Chloe is beneath him and not deserving of his adoration or affection. He gets really pissed when she casually mentions she almost blew up the detective. While Chloe is panicking about the forensics (but hey Ella comes through and narrows down the site of the decapitation), Lucifer is putting his own plan into play. He’s going to testify in the trial (likely to what Boris told him … it’s hearsay but I mean they may have depositions from Boris so it may be admissible). I can’t wait to see Charlotte and Lucifer’s courtroom verbal sparring.

Lucifer gives this great dramatic recitation of his interaction with Boris (while Ella and Dan get some information on the guy who lobbed off Boris’ head). Unfortunately (at least to me) Charlotte declines to question him. I really wanted to see her rip into him and his pronouncement that Chloe is so good, he hasn’t even slept with her. Meanwhile, Amenediel is trying to protect Chloe by removing the bomb but Maze finds him and he tries to cover up what he’s doing by telling her he misses her and make out with her. But she knows what’s doing and she detonates the bomb before telling him to keep Charlotte away from Chloe.

It turns out that Charlotte was waiting until it was her turn to present her case to question Lucifer (after she has no questions for Dan) and boy does she fluster her baby boy. She points out (quite expertly) that while he says that Chloe was first on scene for the man who took the fall for Papa Decker’s murder, the official report says Dan was first. Lucifer insists he wasn’t lying in his testimony but clearly Chloe doesn’t believe him. Obviously she got the information from Dan by sleeping with him and stealing his phone. While Maze needles Dan (because she clearly can see what happened) as they head to check out a front for the Chinese mob, Amenediel has a session with Linda. It turns out Maze blew up his car (and he’s just sitting sadly gripping his steering wheel) as she explains that he did to Maze what he did to her. So he needs to apologize. And just as Dan and Lucifer are about to approach the mob, Dan admits he leaked the information and slept with Charlotte. Cue Lucifer losing his damn mind!

Thanks to Maze being a badass demon, the guys get the location of the Chinese mobster who offed Boris (he went behind his organization’s back) but he’s dead, too. And after Chloe testifies and gets super emotional about Lucifer, the jury returns a not guilty verdict. But it doesn’t last long. Dan takes matters into his own hands and with an assist from Maze the prick gets nabbed by the Russians. Damn, Dan, you are one crazy man. Elsewhere, Amenediel goes to try and apologize to Maze and ends up chatting with Chloe’s mom. When he finally gets a good look at her and she identifies herself as Chloe’s mom, he kind of freaks out and then dishes to Charlotte the news he’s just uncovered. While we see Lucifer and Chloe sharing a really sweet dinner and leaning in for their first kiss, Amenediel reveals that 35 years ago, God send him down to Earth to bless a couple who couldn’t have a child. It was the only time God asked this of him and today, he met the mother again….Chloe’s mom. Chloe is an actual freaking miracle set on this planet by God, possibly to be put in Lucifer’s path. Charlotte thinks that Chloe is now the key to getting all of them home.

We now have to wait until January to see what happens next and that kind of annoys me. I mean the writers did a great job leaving us with an enticing cliffhanger that will make you want to come back and find out more. I am glad that they wrapped up the storyline with Chloe’s dad and that they have finally started to share with us what makes Chloe special. I can’t wait to see how Lucifer reacts to this revelation. Will he continue to pursue Chloe or will he try to keep his distance? Will this change his relationship with God in any way? And what was God’s plan in all of this anyhow? So many questions and now we have to wait a good 2 months to find out!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Once Upon a Time 6.09: “The Changelings”

“A name is a special thing! You don’t waste it on something you don’t intend on becoming attached to.”
- Rumpelstiltskin

This week’s episode is all about the next generations. We find, that Rumple is putting his latest plan into motion. It involves testing out a potion on a fairy to give the good guys a heads up that he intends to speed up Belle’s pregnancy so he can cut their son’s fate when he is born. Belle assumes Rumple is filling them in to try and scare her back into being with him (good assumption) but she says she won’t do it. Instead, she goes to research anything she can to find a way to get out of this insanity and is pulled into the dream world where her son warns her about what Rumple will be doing and that there is a way to stop it before it happens.

In the Enchanted Forest of the past, Rumple returns back with a baby in toe, which he tasks Belle with keeping it entertained until he returned. Belle, after managing to calm the baby down by reading him her favorite book, decides to sneak him out of the castle before Rumple gets back. It turns out Rumple set her up because he doesn’t speak fairy and the incantation he needs is in that language. But of course, Belle can read it and she deciphers it and find it’s a summoning spell for the Black Fairy (yeah that doesn’t sound bad at all). Eventually, the Blue Fairy shows up and frees Belle so that she can rescue the child. Apparently the Black Fairy steals children for some unknown reasons and magic can’t be used to save the baby now. So Belle is his only hope. And in a twist I have to admit I didn’t see coming, the Black Fairy is Rumple’s mother. Honestly, is that why he’s so obsessed with magic and feels like it’s a big part of him, because his mother is a fairy? That certainly explains why he hates them so much. But as Belle shows up and saves the baby, he blathers on about how no one understands his pain. Um, way to be super overdramatic dude.

While the Charming clan is trying to figure out a way to stop Rumple (thanks to Hook spotting squid ink which will paralyze him), the Evil Queen is off to attempt to kill Zelena so she can be with Rumple. But Regina shows up and makes good on a threat to crush her doppelganger’s heart to stop her. Regina also gets to lay down some truth bombs on her evil alter ego. Rumple is just using her, like he does everyone else around him and the hole in the Evil Queen’s heart is blinding her to his real priorities. He ends up kicking the Evil Queen out (after his little meeting with Belle) and Regina admits she only showed up at Zelena’s place to look for magic to reverse the spell on the fairy. She says she’ll never forgive Zelena for what happened with Robin. That’s too bad because Zelena is trying to be a better person. Also, Aladdin and Jasmine try to use the lamp he snagged from the pawn shop a few episodes back to find their home but the genie inside is gone. So Aladdin thinks it’s a grand idea to become a genie so Jasmine can get her wish (or something … to be honest I didn’t really care about that little subplot this week).

At Gold’s shop, Emma and Hook dose Rumple with the ink but Emma has another flash of a future vision and it distracts the pair long enough for the effects to wear off and for Rumple to just casually stroll out the front door. He finds Belle in the library and threatens to use the potion on her to speed up her pregnancy. We get a rather emotional scene between the pair of them about their relationship that kind of makes his atrocious treatment of her a little less horrible. He thinks that his past statement that he was a difficult man to love was wrong. He thinks no one can love him but he hopes starting over with this new baby might work out. Belle says that the price for him getting the baby will be him losing her forever and for a moment that is enough to make him back off. But I don’t expect that to last long. And I was right, although I suspect perhaps it was the Evil Queen’s doing. But as Emma and Hook chat about her new vision (and the additional detail of a glowing red jewel in the sword hilt), Belle’s belly gets enormous! It’s baby time!

Emma takes Belle to the convent to be protected by the fairies as she gives birth and as she’s in the throes of labor, she goes to the dream world once again where her son implores her that they are out of time and there is one thing she can do. Honestly, I’m still confused about what it is. I mean, she’s not going to kill the baby or herself (I don’t think). I do have a guess though about what she names him, though. Thanks to some tears and quick thinking, she names him Gideon (after her favorite story character … totally called it) and has Blue be his fairy godmother and take him far away. She may not see him for a while but she’s confident one day they’ll be reunited. Rumple is rather upset seeing as he didn’t actually use the spell on her and then he throws a wicked temper tantrum when the Evil Queen rubs it in his face. But he promises he’s going to get her back. And after he goes off to bed (or whatever he does when he’s not in the shop), Emma and Hook sneak in and she finds the sword. Now that they’ve got it, she hopes they can figure out who the figure under the hood and maybe stop the vision from coming true after all.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving “Classic” Recap: Speechless: “T-H-A-Thanksgiving”

“What did I tell you? So they bug you, deal with it.”
- Ray

We may not have spent much time with the DiMeo family yet but we get to spend Thanksgiving with them. Now, before we get into the meat of the episode, I feel I should point out that for the most part, Minnie Driver’s character still annoys me. Most of the time I stick around for the sweet moments between Jimmy and the kids (especially Ray). So it’s Thanksgiving at the DiMeo residence and they are not looking forward to spending the holiday with Jimmy’s brother and his family. According to them, Billy (Jimmy’s brother) is super rich and loves to rub it in Jimmy’s face. Each of the other members of Billy’s family are equally annoying and weird. As the family is out trying to find things to wear, Jimmy spots an amazing Black Friday deal for a TV (they need a new one because he broke the old one after he kicked the old one over during his brother’s latest dentist commercial). So they are going to beg off of Thanksgiving by claiming JJ is sick. Kenneth is also going to share the holiday with them (because he claims he didn’t feel like traveling).

Unfortunately, Jimmy’s attempt to get the family out of dinner backfires when Billy says they will come to May and Jimmy instead. As everyone kind of freaks out, Maya comes up with a game. For each thing that the other family members do that’s annoying, our gang will get a point. At first it looks like they are going to have to dig deep to get their points but then things just start rolling. Ray is the only one not “playing”. He doesn’t handle drama well and in fact it gives him an ulcer (or at least the start of one). So Kenneth manages to convince Maya to let him and Ray do the cooking. In hindsight, that is a terrible idea because Kenneth has no clue what he’s doing and the totally ruin the turkey. Ray also learns that Kenneth has his own family drama that he’s trying to avoid this year. His sister and parents tend to gang up on him and give him crap for being a disappointment. I don’t know but maybe they’d feel differently this year seeing as he’s got a pretty sweet job as an aide for JJ. But Ray kind of panics when Kenneth starts losing his mind about his own family drama. Ray just wants to avoid everything because he’s just kind of a wuss I guess.

As Billy continues to humble brag like nobody’s business, Jimmy gets really fed up. So he they end up almost doing a street race. It’s also interesting that Billy’s family treats them all like they are pathetic and need to be pitied. They also just yell at JJ (like he’s deaf). Speaking form experience, that shit just pisses me off. But as the guys get ready to race, we learn that Billy and his family are completely broke (thank you Ray for outing the rest of the family and their “game”). He gambled all the money away and then he tried to make it back by charging unnecessary procedures. You know, this reminded me a lot of one of the first “Fresh off the Boat” holiday episodes where we first met Jessica’s sister. I guess it’s kind of a theme for family comedies to too. Billy’s side of the family also gets to have their digs at Maya and Jimmy (although by comparison they are very minor things … I mean really Maya does a “fake” British accent?). But given that everyone in the DiMeo clan is now poor, they end up bonding a bit over Black Friday sales. They aren’t afraid to use JJ as a way to cut the line to get into the store and get everything they want. They also kind of find that they have more commonalities between them than they originally realized. Then, as Jimmy and Billy come out of the store with the last 60 inch flat screen, Jimmy decides to auction it off and he gives Billy the money (something Billy has done in the past for Jimmy). So in the end, they all learn that maybe they should be nicer to each other (and hey JJ even gets to be in Billy’s new commercial). So I guess the DiMeo clan has learned some valuable lessons, hopefully one of which is don’t trust Kenneth in the kitchen. I did like that in the end, Ray was able to get him to try and talk to his family about what’s bothering him and why he feels the way he does.

Overall, I thought this episode was decent. I’m not super in love with the show but as I said at the start of this post, there are parts of it, usually that involve Jimmy that are sweet and touching and the characters learn something. I have to admit I found Jimmy’s side of the family more annoying than our regular characters for a lot of it. Their characteristics just seemed really over the top (and I get that was the point). And maybe Maya was a little less grating than usual. When she wasn’t really focusing on being JJ’s advocate I think she’s more tolerable. Yes, she had a bit where she reminded her sister-in-law that JJ had perfect hearing but he just couldn’t speak, but that was really it. I understand that she wants to be a zealous advocate for JJ, especially because it is difficult for him to advocate for himself but most of the time she’s just obnoxious. Maybe I was spoiled with watching my own parents advocate for me and deal with having a special needs kid that I’m biased. I do still wish they’d give Dillon more to do or some other purpose. To me, she is still the weakest link on the show. It really wasn’t necessary to have two normal kids to the one disabled one. I mean, at least with Ray he’s kind of interesting and he’s got real problems. Dillon is just kind of a generic tom boy who isn’t very interesting.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

This Is Us 1.08: “Pilgrim Rick”

“I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful that we’re safe and there’s no one in the whole world I’d rather be too hot or too cold with.”
- Jack

Welcome to our first Thanksgiving with the Pearsons! In the mid-1980s (when the Big Three are around 8) we see that Rebecca is making cranberry sauce. She’s obsessing over making it perfect to compete with her sister. It seems their family tradition is currently to go to her parents’ house. None of the kids really like it. Kate hates the handmade (and super itchy) sweater that her grandma made and Randall hates it when they always ask for pictures of “just the twins”. And just as they are ready to leave, the boys come crashing into the kitchen and make Rebecca drop the sauce! They get a late start on the road because they had to spend 2 hours finding the right cranberry sauce substitute and then they get a flat tire, leading them to go on a hike (we are beginning to see the new tradition develop). As they walk along, Jack and Rebecca come up with a game to keep the kids occupied. They want them to say what they’ll do for Thanksgiving as adults. At first Kevin wants to be a football player and eat a big turkey but when Randall says he hates Thanksgiving, the twins chime in that they hate it, too. And not just because of going to their grandparents’ house. Rebecca gets kind of mean. And then Rebecca does what she believes is the unthinkable—as Jack tries to get a tow truck and some food, she calls her parents and tells them they aren’t going to come anymore. They end up at a funny lodge run by a guy named Pilgrim Rick (in a big hat) with only Kraft singles and saltines to eat and a Police Academy movie on the TV. And then Jack borrows Pilgrim Rick’s hat and sets a really sweet tradition into motion involving hotdogs wrapped in cheese and crushed crackers. The way he is always working to make his kids happy is just so heartening. This makes me so sad that Jack is dead in the present. His kids still need him!

In the present in LA, Kate is preparing to go to New York to spend Thanksgiving with the rest of the family (hey we get everyone but Jack in the present, how cool is that?) but she has some personal and painful things to do first. She’s out to dinner with Toby and she tells him they need to take a break because she needs to get a handle on her whole situation and she can’t do that with the way Toby is acting at the moment. It was really painful to watch and the emotion coming off Kate’s face was just gut wrenching. We also see that Kate is having a hell of a time getting to be with the rest of the family. The plane hits some serious turbulence and she ends up kind of bonding with her seat mate.

Back on the East Coast, Kevin convinces Olivia to go to Thanksgiving with him. And we also see that Randall takes Thanksgiving super seriously. He gets up really early and gets into the kitchen to start cooking. He also wakes everyone up (even if they don’t want to get up). As Kevin heads out to get Olivia, Rebecca and Miguel show up. I have to say it is very interesting to see that both Randall and Kevin call him “Miguel” rather than “Dad”. Neither of them seem to like him all that much. Especially when Miguel asks Kevin about the play and if he’s having fun in rehearsals. As we saw in the past, the family has to hike to get to their destination and now part of the family tradition is to go on a hike. We also learn about what William used to do (hang with his sober friends) and about Olivia’s family (the essence being her father was cheating on her mom and they didn’t get to the desserts). I like how we are learning about the other people’s traditions.

Randall heads off to William’s apartment to get the recordings of William and his friends playing during previous Thanksgivings and he declines Rebecca’s offer to join him (Beth has tasked her with telling Randall the truth about her and William by the end of the night) and we also see more of how much Kevin (at least) doesn’t like Miguel. There’s some part of the family tradition with a hat involved and Miguel wants to wear it. Kevin quite rudely says that it won’t happen because Jack wore it and now Kevin and Randall take turns. And then his day gets even worse when Olivia walks out (all dramatic and very much romantic comedy-esque). William talks some sense into Olivia (he can be wise and the way he described what it feels like to die was beautifully poetic and I have to wonder if she’s getting a similar lesson out of this that Kevin did at the funeral) and she goes back into the house.

In New Jersey, Randall finds the tapes that William listened to but he also finds a letter that seems to really upset him. While Kevin allows Miguel to take over as Pilgrim Rick, Randall gets back and you can tell he is upset but he isn’t saying anything. He’s simmering and I can just tell once everyone is together, it’s going to explode! Before dinner, we see the final Person family tradition, pulling on yarn (originally from Kate’s awful sweater) and saying what they are thankful for. But when Randall gets the yarn, he tosses it on the ground and about loses his damn mind (with good reason). You can tell a part of him wants his mother to explain but the bigger part is so hurt, he just can’t handle looking at his mother or being in the room with her. So he leaves, just as Kate arrives and announces she’s going to have gastric bypass surgery.

I knew coming into this episode that it would be emotional (then again what episode of this show isn’t?) and man it delivered. I’m so glad we get to spend more time with this family as they come through their struggles.

Lucifer 2.09: “Homewrecker”

“I find people make Los Angeles their home for one of two reasons. They’re either running from something or they are looking for something.”
- Linda

This was a very interesting episode of “Lucifer”. When last we left our Devil, he’d made it very clear to Mum that Earth was his home. The episode opens with a rather awkward and amusing bus tour with Lucifer and Amenediel. Lucifer thinks his brother needs to learn about the city so they can enjoy staying, seeing as this is where Lucifer wants to put down roots. But when it turns out that the man who owned the strip where Lux is located is found murdered in his home, things don’t look good. And they get even direr when Maze summons Lucifer back to the club. The dead man’s son is going to evict Lucifer from the building. So while Chloe is trying to solve the case this week. Lucifer is trying to save his home. He even has a discussion with Linda during one of his sessions about home and why he feels that Earth is his home. At first, he can’t put it into word and she explains that often people coming to LA do it for one of two reasons: running away from something or looking for something.

As the episode progresses, we learn that Lucifer was definitely looking for something. We’re also not alone in thinking that Charlotte may have been involved in the man’s death. After all, it does seem like something she could be capable of. So Maze goes to confront Amenediel about it and Charlotte of course shows up. She denies any involvement but you can see the wheels turning in her head of how to use this to her advantage. She still thinks she can convince Lucifer to go back to Heaven with the rest of the family.

Chloe and Lucifer’s first suspect is the victim’s son (thanks to Ella reconstructing the wine glass that was the murder weapon and finding prints). But when they get there to talk to the guy, he launches himself off a balcony onto a car. He survives (miraculously I suppose) and we learn that he was selling off his father’s properties because his father ran the business into the ground but it wasn’t enough to pay off everything. We also learn that his father had been holding off a real estate deal for years that has now gone through. So we get to meet the icy lady who now owns Lux. She’s intent on bulldozing the whole thing and building a mall. This just distresses Lucifer to no end.

So while Chloe continues to work to case, he goes back to Lux and throws a party. Meanwhile, Charlotte gets her hooks into a bomb maker because she figures if Lux is no longer standing, he’ll go home. But when she gets there, she finds a party in full swing and she realizes she can’t blow it up (plus her bomb guy is a wuss). But then she meets Linda and starts to get some other ideas. Sure, Linda doesn’t share anything about their sessions but when Chloe shows up and she and Lucifer start dancing, Charlotte realizes it perhaps isn’t a building keeping her son tied to this place. The next morning, Chloe discovers some off book payments and a professional “tempter” who might be connected to them. Lucifer doesn’t want to leave Lux and he points out all these little quirks and historical meaning behind things in the club. But Chloe assures him the club will be safe for a little while longer.

They track down the tempter and realize he was tempting the victim’s daughter-in-law (to be) to see if she was a gold digger. But when the guy realized she was really in love with her fiancé, the victim paid him a lot of money to doctor photos so it looked like she was cheating. As our dynamic duo wrap up the case, we see Charlotte slowly putting her new plan into place. She’s called Dan for a “date” (which Amenediel and Maze follow her to). She decides that after Dan tells her all about Chloe and Lucifer, she’ll sleep with him anyway. Maze wants to follow them back to Dan’s place but just the look on Amenediel’s face cracks me up. He’s so uncomfortable with all of it. Though for a split second I thought perhaps he and Maze would have a rekindling of their fling from last season.

When Chloe and Lucifer confront the fiancée, she and the victim’s son both confess to the crime. Sure it means they’ll both go to prison for a while but they’re doing it together and they won’t let this stop their love. Lucifer thinks they’re nuts which let’s be honest, they kind of are. Back at Lux, Lucifer has come to terms with losing the club. He can always rebuild. It’s LA, not the building that is home. But then Chloe shares good news. She’s gotten Lux declared an historical heritage site. So no bulldozing and he can probably buy it back from the ice lady who owns it now. Lucifer is baffled by her act of kindness without strings attached. He offers to take her dinner but after he has a session with Linda in which she suggests that Lucifer did come looking for something and that something is Chloe, he kind of can’t deal with things. She suggests that he doesn’t show her his true face because he cares so deeply about what she thinks of him and he doesn’t want to deal with the fallout of a negative reaction. I got a little teary eyed watching him sit at Lux, drinking while Chloe was waiting for him at the restaurant. He was just heartbroken and it’s because Linda’s words were so true. He doesn’t want to lose her. But he better act fast because Charlotte has put a bomb under Chloe’s car and we end the episode with the Goddess of Creation about to blow that thing up with Chloe in it!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fresh off the Boat 3.03: "Louisween"

“Louis! You’re lucky I wasn’t clutching my sleep knife!”

“Fresh off the Boat” always does interesting holiday episodes, although I don’t know if this one was really a favorite. I found the conflicts between the Huang family members to be a bit forced. It was kind of cool to see all their perspectives on Halloween, though. It’s Louis’ favorite holiday, which is a point on which we agree. There are great things about Thanksgiving and Christmas, too, but Halloween is my favorite. I love Halloween decorations, the black/orange/green/purple color combo, and the chance to dress up and play pretend for a night. It’s like being a kid again is sanctioned for one holiday. I guess it probably also wouldn’t surprise you to learn (especially since there’s a picture of it on the MTVP Facebook page) that I’ve also cosplayed at Comic Con International in San Diego. Jessica, however, hates Halloween and finds it to be a waste of time. Eddie likes candy, but he likes the prospect of being invited to a high school party by Nicole even more. Emery and Evan look forward to creating their usual double costume, but they’re both growing up and times are changing. This episode didn’t have as much of a “the Huangs do this holiday differently because they’re originally from Taiwan” vibe as many “Fresh off the Boat” holiday episodes, but I was okay with that. Underneath it all, we’re all American.

The episode opens with the clocks in the Huang household turning to midnight. It is officially Halloween, and Louis is ready. He wakes up each of the kids with Halloween pranks like using a big monster arm or pretending to be a zombie. Jessica, however, is more difficult to prank, which is good foreshadowing for later in the episode. When Louis wakes her up dressed as Jason, she clocks him right in the head. That morning, a very happy Louis is dressed as “Pete Vampras” (a vampire Pete Sampras) and ready to coordinate the kids’ Halloween activities. Emery and Evan haven’t nailed down what they are going to be yet, but Louis reminds them to be ready by 5:00. The boys are worried that they won’t be able to top last year’s Silence of the Lambs themed double costume. Jessica could care less about any of the Halloween prep. She thinks Halloween is a waste of money. Why should she pay for a costume when she likes herself just as she is? Instead, she’s going to work on her Stephen King-inspired horror novel. She heard King writes ten pages a day, so she’s going to write twenty. Because she’s nonstop (sorry…had to throw in a “Hamilton” reference!).

Eddie and his buddies stand over a big map of the neighborhood as they plan out their Halloween candy haul. They heard that one house is going to be giving away king sized peanut butter cups, so that’s definitely on their list. One of the boys talks about how he got to watch some of Porky’s because Cinemax accidentally unscrambled, and he really wants to get girls on Halloween. Eddie says they have the rest of their lives to do that – they only have a few more years of free candy left. He changes his tune when Nicole stops by, though. Her mom is going to be out of town, so she’s going to throw a Halloween party. Eddie immediately starts advocating for the Halloween party. After all, this will probably be their only chance to go to a high school party as middle schoolers. He convinces the rest of his crew to join him. Jessica doesn’t want to let Eddie go, but Louis overrules her, says since she doesn’t celebrate Halloween, she doesn’t get a say.

Emery and Evan are still struggling to figure out their costumes. They both find themselves dressed as Indiana Jones, which clearly won’t do. Evan was supposed to be Short Round, but he’s tired of being the sidekick. He wants to be the main character in this year’s costume. Emery, being a good brother, says Evan can pick their costumes this year. Evan decides he wants to be Lance Ito, the judge from the OJ Simpson case, and he wants Emery to be Kato Kalin. Emery thinks that’s stupid, but Evan really wants to be Lance Ito. Emery decides he’s just going to be Indiana Jones after all. Meanwhile, Eddie and his pals are in their costumes and rolling up to Nicole’s party. When they get inside, though, it’s just Nicole and a few other girls in Spice Girls costumes sitting on the couch looking bored. Everybody else at school went to a party being thrown by a sophomore with a pool. Nicole realizes she shouldn’t have tried to throw a party as a freshman, but now it’s too late. Everybody but Eddie ends up bailing. Eddie, however, says he has seen enough music videos to know how to throw a party, and he cranks up some Snoop Dogg to top volume. It doesn’t take long for there to be a knock on the door.

Jessica has said that Stephen King is really scary while Halloween is just silly, so Louis decides to put that theory to the test. He tries over and over to scare Jessica. He hides a scary head in the oven, and he even has Eddie’s classmate Reba pretend to be a ghost. None of it rattles Jessica. Louis even tries to convince Jessica that he accidentally hit a kid with a car. Jessica’s response is to describe, in great detail, exactly how she’s going to help him cover the crime up, down to chopping down a tree in a hurricane so that there’s no flesh transfer to be found. At that point, Louis finally gives up. The phone rings, and it’s Eddie, who is at the police station and needs to be picked up. At first, Jessica thinks it’s another of Louis’ pranks, but then she sees Louis standing there and realizes that Eddie is actually in trouble.

Eddie isn’t in quite as much trouble as everyone thought, though. The police officer just brought Eddie and Nicole to the station because they were unsupervised minors. Even the “beer” Nicole thought she had procured for the party was actually just a drink mixer and completely nonalcoholic. When Jessica shows up, though, she’s still not happy. She blames Halloween for having to stop her writing to go and pick Eddie up. Later, Louis tries to explain how hurtful her attitude has been to him. He reminds her of a time when he wasn’t able to help her celebrate Christmas, which is her favorite holiday. Jessica eventually gets it – it would be very nice if Louis could spend his favorite holiday with the whole family. When it’s midnight again, Jessica wakes up all the kids, but with the smell of bacon and textbooks. She tells them to all get in their costumes because they’re going to go Trick or Treating.

The day late Huang Halloween is a success. Emery and Evan end up dressing as Barney the Dinosaur (I had a golden retriever as a kid who was older than the purple dinosaur, but I still got teased mercilessly for it circa 1993) and Short Round respectively. They both decide they care more about Trick or Treating with each other more than the specifics of their costume. The family hits up Honey’s house, where Honey is quite confused. Jessica reasons that if people keep their Christmas lights up for a month after the holiday, the Huangs should be able to celebrate Halloween one day late. Honey agrees and invites everyone in for a bath of her famous goo-latas. Nicole is there, and she thanks Eddie for making her party off the hook. Rumors about the cops breaking up the party have gone out of control, and now she’s super popular. It’s a Halloween miracle!