Monday, October 31, 2016

Lucifer 2.06: “Monster”

“Well I’m done, Mom. I’m done trying to please someone who isn’t even here.”
- Amenediel

Before we get into Lucifer’s downward spiral after murdering his brother, it bears noting that “Lucifer” just got a back-nine episode order for a full 22 episode season! Hooray! So, anyway, Lucifer is really not in a good place. We get a trippy montage of him getting drunk and making out with random women at Lux. Linda shows up because he cancelled a session. He drops that his brother died but he is so not ready to deal with it. He also shows up at the crime scene (dead bride during a zombie themed wedding) drunk and disheveled. Seriously, he is a hot mess and not in a good way. Plus, Chloe also has to deal with Maze and her weird sex swing (how is that even a thing).

Lucifer does manage to get a lead from one of the bridesmaids (and then he makes out with her, too). Dan is worried about Lucifer working the case (and clearly Chloe is worried, too) but they should be concerned. The lead (the bride’s ex-boyfriend) is sitting in interrogation and Lucifer goes in and breaks the door handles so they can’t get in. He uses his super powers to determine the guy is innocent. Chloe is still pissed at the way Lucifer went about determining the guy’s innocence but Lucifer doesn’t seem to care much.

Back at Lux, Charlotte and Amenediel have a little chat about Uriel’s death and how Lucifer has always been more the one to act out when he can’t deal with his emotions. Amenediel blames himself more than Lucifer. He figures if he still had his powers, Uriel wouldn’t be dead (just beaten up badly and back in Heaven). Charlotte tells him that there’s a way to get their power back. He’s skeptical but goes with her anyway. She takes him to Uriel’s’ grave site (I’m still not sure why and tells Amenediel that he’s spent his whole life taking responsibility for things. He should be able to just be free. It seems she wants her eldest son to be able to grieve his loss and he makes the decision that he’s done trying to please an absentee father. Good for him, even if it does seem to be playing into Charlotte’s motivation to steal the kids away from her ex.

The case proceeds thanks to Dan doing some actual detective work. It seems the shooter stopped by a food truck and Lucifer has the app so they can find the location. Chloe starts questioning the truck’s owner when suddenly a shot rings out, hitting him. Chloe and Lucifer head to the roof and find the shell casing. Whoever this person is, they’ve got a list and they have no idea what connects the victims or who might be next.

While the grownups are trying to solve the case, Trixie has her own dilemma. She wants to go trick-or-treating but clearly Chloe and Dan are busy. Maze agrees to take her but they need to fix Trixie’s costume first. This is going to be hilarious. She dresses up at the President of Mars and thanks to Maze gets lots of candy. This is amazing. And then we get see at least some of what Maze looks like as an actual demon which is pretty cool, too. What’s not so hilarious is Lucifer’s continued spiral into insanity and bad choices. Chloe tries to get him to talk about his feelings but he is so not into that. Then when Dan shares some information about the case (the victims’ spouses work together so they are the link) Lucifer lifts Dan’s badge and gun to get the case files that the law firm isn’t willing to give up. Dan accuses Lucifer of only doing what he wants but then Lucifer punches Dan in the face. That’s the last straw for Chloe and she kicks him off the case.

Thanks to Dan’s suggestion that they not return the case files right away, they find their shooter: the grieving husband of a woman who died of lung disease whose malpractice case was dismissed for lack of evidence. He’s an ATF agent who is skilled in long range marksmanship. He’s definitely their guy and they find that he’s made counterfeit badges to get into the pharmaceutical company that made his wife’s medication. Meanwhile, Lucifer is glumly drinking at Lux and thinks he sees Uriel, his guilt clearly getting to him. Our devil just needs to come clean to someone who isn’t related to him. He needs to start healing from what he’s done. We know he didn’t want to hurt his brother. Uriel gave him no real choice.

As Chloe and Dan race to stop the next assassination we see Lucifer hitting rock bottom as he plays a very mournful song on the piano. I was kind of hoping he’d sing, too, but that’s just because I like listening to his voice. I love that they can work in these other talents for him. He (somehow) figures out where Chloe and Dan have gone and as Chloe tries to protect one of the potential victims, Lucifer pops in and dares the sniper to shoot him. Now, normally I’d say he was bluffing since he knows Chloe is around and that means if he gets hit, he really gets hit. But at this point I think he’s in such a bad space that he wants to die. He thinks he deserves it. But the sniper doesn’t want to shoot him and it gives Chloe time to get up to his position and take him. Chloe confronts Lucifer afterward, urging him to talk to Linda if he won’t talk to Chloe. So he does but she still doesn’t believe him. She insists that he needs to be honest about who he is and so he decides to show her his true face (all red and veined and creepy). And then she just sits there staring at him. Damn it, Lucifer, you broke Dr. Linda!

Halloween "Classic" Recap: 3rd Rock from the Sun: "Scaredy Dick"

“Mary? Seeing me naked and vulnerable, quivering with fear? Oh, I wouldn’t give her the satisfaction.”
-Dick

We’re going old school with our Halloween classic recap this year, traveling back to the late 90’s with an episode of “3rd Rock from the Sun.” I was very into sitcoms in the late 90’s, which makes sense considering it was also the era of Seinfeld. Sitcoms were definitely different than the more prestige comedies of today (I like both). The jokes were more on the nose, and the live studio audience made it obvious when to laugh (there are still some sitcoms that do this, but they don’t tend to get critical praise). I liked (and still like, for the most part) “3rd Rock” because its premise is creative in a way that really appeals to me. Anyway, this episode follows the formula of a lot of 3rd Rock episodes. The Solomons, since they are actually aliens, are experiencing some Earth customs for the first time, specifically Halloween and an annual physical. Given that this is the third season, I’m not quite sure why that is, but the result is entertaining.

Fear is what ties all the plots in this episode. First, and most unrelated to Halloween itself, is Dick’s fear of going to an annual physical. He needs to go per university policy. If he doesn’t, his paychecks stop until he does. Dick has gone to the doctor for specific problems before, but going for a physical makes him nervous, because the doctor is just looking for problems. I can sympathize with that, for sure. I have chronic health issues that often flare up in odd ways that throw off my labwork and result in a lot more follow-up testing than I would prefer (which generally turns up normal). He doesn’t even get to putting on the exam gown during his first visit – he hightails it out of the doctor’s office as soon as he is told to disrobe. For his second try, he brings Nina with him, which must have been hella awkward for Nina. I certainly would never make any of my employees accompany me to a doctor’s appointment, that’s for sure. Dick gets to the disrobing part, but as soon as the doctor tries to start the exam, he runs yet again.

Meanwhile, Mary asks Sally and Tommy to housesit for her while she goes to the university Halloween party. She’s afraid that if someone isn’t there to hand out candy, the rotten neighborhood kids will egg and TP her house. Sally and Tommy have nothing better to do, so they’re in. The costumes and what they say about the characters is one of my favorite aspects of Halloween television episodes, and this episode certainly did not disappoint. At the university party, we see that Dick is a pirate (works with his carefree, playful attitude towards life), and Mary is Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. That also fits with the aspect of her personality that just wants to let loose when she doesn’t have to be the super-driven career woman. Sally and Tommy say they are Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, but they actually look like Sonny and Cher. This fits with their general struggle to understand humans. And finally, Harry is an alien. He gets really upset when someone mentions that, until he remembers that he is actually really dressed up as an alien (they haven’t figured out his secret).

Sally and Tommy have quite an adventure housesitting for Mary. Sally decides (and Tommy agrees) that it’s a great idea to just fill up a dish with candy and leave it outside. It’s no work Halloween! The only problem is that almost immediately, a little girl rings the doorbell for trick or treating. All the candy in the dish is already gone, taken by “The Pope.” To make matters worse, as Sally and Tommy are talking to the little girl, some eggs are thrown inside the house and break on the hardwood living room floor. They suspect the Pope is behind this too, and among the chaos, they manage to capture one unfortunate kid. They tie him to a chair, and Sally starts interrogating him. She and Tommy play good cop, bad cop, and I can’t imagine anything like this ever flying today, what with our helicopter parenting culture and all. Sally starts breaking eggs on the kid’s head, and eventually he talks. He reveals the identity and address of the Pope. Just as Sally and Tommy are about to leave and get revenge, though, they find out it was actually a Batman who egged the house. Foiled again!

Meanwhile, back at home, Harry is happily watching horror movies, although he is a little scared. He starts to get more frightened when he hears strange noises coming from the heating grate. It sounds kind of like moaning, so Harry is convinced it is a ghost. When Dick gets home from the university party (more on that in a sec), he also agrees that the noises seem quite ghost-like. Smoke emanating from the grate and a power outage send both of them hiding under the kitchen table, where Mary finds them and mocks them. An investigation of the noises follows, and they eventually find Mrs. Dubcek, the landlady, stuck inside a crawlspace in the basement. She had been trying to find her dropped cigarette lighter and couldn’t get out. The only thing they can’t really explain conventionally is the sound of some rattling chains. According to Mrs. Dubcek, though, that’s a long-time ghost resident who is no trouble.

Dick has quite a lot of fun at the university party, although Mary kind of gets tired of his pirate antics and goes to talk to someone else. When Dick intrudes on the conversation, he finds that someone else is none other than his doctor. Needless to say, Dick immediately hightails it home (where he has his ghost adventures with Harry). Everyone eventually convinces Dick to give going to the doctor one more try, and this time everything seems to go well. Dick is completely at ease, and he wonders why he was so worried. Then the doctor gets ready for the prostate exam. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Once Upon a Time 6.06: “Dark Waters”

“This ship is more than steel and rivets. It’s a second chance.”
- Captain Nemo

As those of you who follow the blog know, I am not a huge fan of Hook (and his relationship with Emma) so I wasn’t super excited for this episode, knowing it was Hook centric. But I figured it might give us another glimpse at his past, including at maybe the half-brother that he orphaned when he killed his father on Regina’s orders. While Regina tries to keep Zelena and the Evil Queen distracted so Snow and Charming can rescue Archie, we find that Aladdin is still not up to trying to help Jasmine. She just doesn’t understand and so Emma goes to try and talk some sense into him. While she’s gone, Hook tries to be paternal (dude, no one in their right mind wants that nasty breakfast you are talking about) but Henry isn’t buying it. And he certainly isn’t into listening to his mom’s boyfriend when the Evil Queen shows up and reveals that Hook kept the shears. So Henry goes off to the docks to try and toss them like Emma wanted, refusing to let Hook explain his reasoning. Unfortunately they are interrupted by a steampunk submarine breaching the water.

In the past (around the time of the Dark Curse), we find Hook is super grumpy because his crew is slow. They’ve also got a stowaway who turns out to be Captain Nemo. He kidnaps Hook and takes him to said steampunk submarine and tells Hook there is a mission that needs his skills and perhaps once that is done, he’ll find the sub is the place he should be. Hook is in his super angry place right now because he’s still trying to get revenge on Rumple for Milah. Seriously, she wasn’t that great of a person, man. The mission involves a young man whose family was taken from him (Nemo rescued him from a life of revenge) as they quest for hidden treasure. Hook stupidly decides to make a run for it and nearly becomes kraken food. He’s kind of surprised when both the young man and Nemo come to his aid. The treasure they sought was a key to a place called Mysterious Island (Land of Untold Stories perhaps?) and Nemo wants Hook to join them and give up the quest for vengeance. But of course, Hook then has to realize that the first mate (the young man from the mission) is his baby half-brother, Liam. Liam overhears Hook and Nemo talking (as Hook is getting ready to leave) and wants to take his revenge now that he’s found the man responsible. But instead, he ends up stabbing Nemo (who got in the way).

Emma finds Aladdin breaking into a car (it’s almost cute the way they have a shared past like that) and she’s not letting him get away with running away. She takes him to the town line and shows him the town sign that she hit in the pilot. She explains that wants him to stop running and at least find out what the problem is with his home land. After all, if she can face up to the people she disappointed, so can he. Meanwhile, Belle is waiting for her first ultrasound and is worried how she’s going to deal with excluding Rumple from things once the baby is born. And on the submarine, Henry has some not so pleasant words for Hook about the fact that he’s not part of the family. We are definitely getting into Henry’s teenage angst stage! Hook says he’ll figure out a plan to get them out of it but Henry is just annoyed about the whole thing. Hook admits his sordid past to Henry (including killing his father and orphaning his little brother) and then because Henry is kind of awesome, he pulls out a lock pick set. So they get out of the room they are in but there’s a hitch: there’s only one diving suit and Hook insists that Henry take it. After all, he’s got to face his supremely pissed off little brother who is now brandishing a knife. Henry comes back for Hook and ends up saving his life. And it sounds like maybe the man Charming found in the woods (who was in really bad shape) might be Nemo and he’s getting medical treatment so hooray.

I know I’ve said it before but the Evil Queen being all flirty with Rumple is just so damn creepy. He apparently wants the shears for himself. Not to cut his own fate but that of Belle and the baby so he can maybe fix his little family. I’m not sure how well that’s going to work but hey, it’s worth a shot! Too bad Hook and Henry dumped said shears into the bottom of the ocean in a locked chest! Hook and Liam manage to reconcile and Liam is happy to find that Nemo is alive (and sharing a hospital room). Emma forgives Hook his transgressions (girl is really quick to forgive all of a sudden). And Belle drops by the pawn shop and slides an ultrasound picture under the door. The whole time she was approaching the shop I was yelling not to go in because the Evil Queen was macking on her hubby. The Evil Queen wants his help in getting Snow’s heart (what she really wants) and she offers up the shears as an incentive to throw in with her. Apparently there are some creatures who still owe her favors or something. I hate that I keep getting disappointed by Rumple’s actions. I know he’s a very broken man and he is just an addict at this point who refuses to change because the man he used to be without magic is so scared of being rejected and abandoned but I was rooting for him and Belle for the longest time. I’m running out of ships on this show!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Good Place 1.07: “The Eternal Shriek:

“You just killed Janet. We have to flee your crime scene. Run!”
- Eleanor

Talk about depressing. This week’s episode opens with Michael going on about all the things he did that he thinks caused all the problems in the neighborhood. So he’s going to retire. Tahani thinks she’ll throw a party for him to honor him but it’s going to be tough to celebrate his retirement when he describes just how horrendous his retirement would be. So while Tahani changes the gathering to a more somber affair, Eleanor tries to convince Chidi to help her come up with a plan to keep Michael from leaving. It turns out Janet operates the only exit strategy (a train). So Eleanor thinks it is a great idea to kill Janet so they can save Michael from a horrible fate while also keeping Eleanor’s secret.

We finally get some flashback for Chidi this week and he’s kind of super annoying. He lies to a fellow professor about liking the guys’ garish boots and then spends two days lamenting the fact he lied to his girlfriend. She’s just annoyed he keeps bringing it up and suggests that if Chidi is so upset by the whole thing, he should just come clean. Too bad when he tries to do this, his colleague gifts him an identical pair of boots. Something tells me this isn’t going to end well for our ethics obsessed friend. It apparently takes Chidi three years and the near death of his colleague for him to come clean. He doesn’t even tell the guy when he’s going in for emergency surgery. Chidi waits until he’s on the mend. He seems super relieved but I kind of can’t believe he held that in for so long. I know he’s supposed to be the one that is teaching Eleanor how to be a better person but no one is 100% ethical all the time. We are all shades of grey and that’s the good thing about people. It would be way too boring if everyone was always 100% ethical and conscientious all the time.

The party ends up being super awkward as Tahani tries to give a speech about how much Michael meant to everyone. It just ends up making him more miserable and he goes on a bit of a rant about all the human things he hasn’t gotten the chance to do yet: highlights include getting his hair wet, pulling a hamstring and eating saltines. Well, Tahani helps him out with the last one (his verdict: too dry and salty) before he decides he’s just going to leave the party. Eleanor drags Chidi off with Janet to find the button that turns off (read: kills) Janet. It’s on the beach which is an odd place for it to be but whatever. There’s just a giant pole with a button on top of it and hitting said button will kill Janet. But there’s a failsafe: whenever anyone gets close to it, Janet bursts into begging for her life. It’s pretty convincing and even makes Eleanor back off. Of course, Jason shows up and in his idiot want just wants to press the button. Chidi goes to stop him (by tackling him) and accidentally hits the button. Janet keels over face first into the sand and then a message starts playing in the sky of Janet saying she’s been murdered.

Chidi is not handling the guilt of what he’s done well at all. In fact, after Michael kicks everyone out so he can reset Janet (she pops up out of a casket and asks him for his 4-digit pin), Chidi decides he’s going to confess to what he did because he just can’t take the weight of keeping the secret for all eternity. Eleanor points out that she once lied about having a terminal illness to meet a celebrity. Not her best moment, I’m sure. Things take a decidedly interesting turn as Michael addresses the gathered members of the neighborhood to try and get any information on Janet’s murder. I honestly wasn’t expecting Eleanor to stand up and admit that she thinks she’s the problem and that she doesn’t belong there but that’s exactly what she did at the end of the episode. She just stood up and confessed the truth about herself, much to Chidi’s amazement. After all, he was totally ready to admit that he killed Janet. I suspect that’s going to also come back to bite them.

We all knew it had to come out at some point, I just thought it would be a little bit later in the season. I’m glad it’s out in the open now so we can start to really figure out what is going on in the neighborhood. Will Jason also come clean about not being in the right place? And how will that make Tahani feel? This turn of events really opens up an interesting avenue for really starting to explore these characters in more depth. I can’t wait to see how Michael handles Eleanor’s “betrayal” as I suspect it won’t be a simple matter of kicking her out to the “Bad Place”. After all, as the architect, he’s going to want to know how he screwed up because bringing her to the Good Place was definitely on him. I’m still thinking that perhaps everyone in town has some part of them that isn’t so good and that none of them are supposed to be there but that inadvertently Michael saw they needed a place and brought them all together. I won’t say that this is the best comedy I’ve ever seen (Kristen Bell’s performance still makes me miss Veronica Mars with a passion) but it does have its interesting points and I like that we are going to get a conclusion by the end of episode 13. I wish more shows were able to structure their seasons like a book with a defined beginning, middle and end point to the story each season. It would really provide for some tight storytelling.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Good Place 1.06: "What We Owe to Each Other"

“Well, that’s called tyranny, and it’s generally frowned upon.”
-Chidi

“What We Owe to Each Other” probably contained the most simultaneous ethical dilemmas of “The Good Place” thus far, which prides itself in its exploration of ethics and philosophy. Eleanor has to reckon with the promise she made to Michael to help him figure out what has been going on with the neighborhood. I am also kind of sensing a (sort of) love quadrangle brewing between Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason. Well, it’s more that either Eleanor or Tahani could end up with Chidi, and Jason just happens to be with Tahani right now. I think I’d rather see Eleanor and Chidi together, because they actually challenge each other and can teach each other something. Sure Tahani and Chidi have mutual interests, but I feel like they would be really boring, and they wouldn’t push each other to grow. Maybe you aren’t supposed to have any more growing to do once you get to the afterlife, but I think Chidi would have a lot more fun with Eleanor in the long run. Chidi has his own ethical dilemma related to Tahani that I’ll talk about more later.

Anyway, the episode opens with Eleanor freaking out before her first meeting with Michael about the investigation into the neighborhood problems. She’s fairly certain she’s the source of the problems, and she doesn’t want to go to the Bad Place, but she also realizes it would be bad if she broke her promise to Michael. Chidi thinks he has her answer in the ethical theory of contractualism. In this theory, we’re supposed to imagine people making rules for a new society. If anyone would veto the rule you are about to use in your life, it’s probably a bad idea. Chidi posits that if Eleanor tried to create a rule that anyone could break their promises, it would probably get vetoed. Eleanor thinks this means she needs to figure out a way to “help” Michael without really helping him. After Michael shows off how he has been examining every rock in the neighborhood for defects, Eleanor implements her idea. She suggests that they go have some fun so Michael can recharge his batteries and approach the problem from a fresh perspective. The benefit to Eleanor is that while he’s having fun, Michael isn’t making progress towards figuring out she’s the problem.

Meanwhile, Tahani has an idea to get closer to “Jianyu,” and Jason is less than thrilled about it. He is pretending to meditate, and he has a magic 8 ball that he is using to help him figure out what to say to Tahani. So when she suggests they go to the spa for a couples day, his response is “signs point to yes.” Then he goes and runs to Chidi in a panic because he doesn’t think he can make small talk with Tahani for a day without giving himself away as a fraud. He wants Chidi to come with them, which Chidi thinks is a bad idea at first. Then Chidi realizes that Tahani is in the same position he is (not having a soulmate in the afterlife) but doesn’t realize it, so he figures the least he can do is try to help keep the Jianyu illusion going. Being the third wheel on a couples spa day is going to be hella awkward, though. Being pretty perpetually single myself, I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding such situations when my friends are in relationships. Clearly that’s a lesson Chidi still needs to learn.

Eleanor’s day of fun seems to go as planned. She and Michael bond over frozen yogurt (and we get an explanation for exactly why Michael likes fro yo so much), and Michael reveals that architects typically don’t stay with the neighborhood like he has been. This neighborhood is something of a pilot project to test Michael’s theory that transition would go better if the architect stayed with the neighborhood for at least the first thousand years. That’s why he’s so stressed out and afraid of failure – his whole theory is on the line. Eleanor continues helping but not helping by taking Michael to karaoke, and then to an arcade, where they have fun playing skeeball and bowling. Michael is actually able to let go of his troubles for a bit, although unfortunately for Eleanor, it has the intended effect – he gets some clarity about what’s been going on with the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Tahani, Jason, and Chidi go to the spa for their “couples” day. Janet is very confused by Chidi’s presence, since the spa typically caters to couple, and he is decidedly not a couple. I feel Chidi’s pain here, for sure. While I enjoy hanging out with my close friends and their significant others, I also try to give them their space to be couples, too, since to do otherwise would just be plain awkward. It’s the plight of the perpetually single friend. Anyway, Chidi has a job to do, so he doesn’t have time to focus on the awkward. During the massage session, he suggests that Janet massages Tahani while he massages Jason. He stands between Jason and Tahani basically to keep Jason from saying anything too stupid. Later, Tahani is bummed that it wasn’t as much of a day of bonding with “Jianyu” as she hoped, so she has a meal at what is usually a couples restaurant. Chidi joins her, and they decide that they are “soulfriends.” They do indeed have much in common, including a love of impressionist art.

Throughout the episode, we get flashbacks to a time when Eleanor broke a promise, and there were some pretty serious consequences. A friend/maybe coworker/acquaintance of some sort asked Eleanor to house-sit for a few days and take care of her dog while she moved her mother into assisted living. This person’s wi-fi is better than the wi-fi Eleanor steals from her neighbor, so she’s in. Not long after she’s started the job, a friend stops by and says she has tickets to see Rihanna in Vegas. At first, Eleanor hesitates a little bit, but after not much coaxing from her friend, she’s leaving multiple bowls of food out (plus the whole open bag) for the dog and jetting to Vegas to see Riri. Unsurprisingly, we later learn that the dog in question suffered from a permanently expanded stomach. It was played for laughs (the disgruntled friend/acquaintance has to drag the poor thing around in a wagon), but it’s actually kind of horrifying if you think about it too much (and you like dogs).

Jason is happily playing video games in his budhole when Chidi stops by for a chat. Jason is all excited because, since he now knows Tahani likes impressionist paintings, he has decided to give her a large photograph of a comedian famous for doing impressions. If I were Chidi, I would have headdesked so hard at this moment. By the end of the episode, Jason is giving Tahani a painting of herself as three ballerinas in the style of Degas. Chidi painted it of course, and Jason gives him the thumbs up as Tahani preens about how only her soulmate could have given her such a gift. I am really not sure how I feel about this. I don’t think I like it.

Eleanor starts helping Michael try to figure out which person(s) is responsible for the neighborhood going all wonky. They start out where the garbage incident happened, and Janet provides a list of everyone who was on garbage duty, but then they all remember that people were flying that day too, and the list of garbage pickers and flyers is much longer. Eleanor is safe for now. Next they head to the restaurant, where Michael remarks only thirty people were invited to the opening. Janet is once again a buzzkill, reminding Michael that over sixty people stopped by to see the restaurant, and everyone in the neighborhood was in reasonably close vicinity. Eleanor tries to get Michael to call off the hunt for a little while, but it just leads him to put on a hoodie and curl on the ground in despair that he can’t properly take care of his neighborhood. Eleanor then changes tactics to try and cheer him up. Michael gets up, looks at Eleanor quizzically, then declares he needs to call a neighborhood meeting. Eleanor is convinced that she is going to be revealed as a fraud at the meeting, but Michael instead chooses to blame himself, and he says he has to go away now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

This Is Us 1.05: "The Game Plan"

“I think that’s the point of the painting. There’s no dying. There’s no you, no them. There’s just us.”
- Kevin

This week’s episode is all about football. We see young Rebecca as her mother watches her father watching football as a child. Cut to Rebecca and Jack in a bar as he, too, watches the game (pre Big Three). She insists she won’t be like her mother and begs him to teach her about football. I don’t think he was quite expecting to turn her into quite the sports monster but she totally loves the game and the Steelers. In fact, she’s stoked to be singing at a pre-game party at their local bar. You would think Jack would be having a great time watching his wife sing (I mean you can’t have Mandy Moore on your show and not have her sing) on Super Bowl Sunday but he’s kind of morose. She’s mentioned twice she doesn’t want kids and he picks the middle of the game in a crowded bar with Miguel and his wife (who have 2 kids) to bring up the kid talk. She doesn’t want to have the conversation but he says that he really wants kids. I’m really intrigued to see how they get from this point to her being pregnant with triplets. They start to have it out until a guy in the bar yells at them to take it outside and tells Jack he needs to control his woman. Jack clearly gets pissed at this (I don’t blame him) and he takes a swing at the guy before Rebecca walks out. Jack asks Miguel when he knew he wanted kids because he’s concerned that Rebecca won’t change her mind. They ultimately make up and it turns out the triplets are conceived thanks to the Steelers winning the Super Bowl (so apparently Rebecca is younger than Jack).

In LA, Kate has made Toby (heathy, kind of pathetic) breakfast in bed. They have a weight loss meeting to go to later in the day and then she’s got the Steelers game on. She insists she watches it alone because it is a ritual but Toby (through the meeting and an adorable note/invitation) convinces her to let him join her in her ritual. Things do not go well when Kate shows up at Toby’s place. He’s invited a friend over to watch with them and it’s more like his friend is into TVs and their quality. And then Toby pauses the game. That’s the last straw for Kate. She just isn’t handling having her solo time with the game interrupted. Toby swings by to learn what is happened to make Kate be this way. She explains that she grew up watching the Steelers with her dad and that’s an important of who she is, even now. See, at some point (around 2006 or so), Jack died and she watches them with his urn. I cried a lot when that reveal came.

Across the country on the East Coast, Randall and Beth are wondering how long Kevin is going to stay. You can tell he’s really floundering in every aspect of his life (he’s not even off book yet on his script). He also then goes on a bit of a rant about how lonely his super big hotel suite is. Randall decides he and Beth need a night away from everything so they’re going to take the hotel and Kevin and William can watch the girls. Randall is understandably skeptical about leaving his big brother in charge. I mean the man can barely take care of his own self, let alone two small kids. But he kind of gets them into helping him learn his lines (William, too). Things aren’t really going that well for Kevin either. The girls don’t understand the play and then we learn one of the characters in the play is a ghost. Kevin tries to explain ghosts and death but it just goes horribly awry; William has some wise words for Kevin. He needs to stop doubting himself. He has talent, he just needs to remember that’s the case. Kevin then goes to apologize to his nieces, explaining that he paints (not even Kate knows) and he paints when he reads a new script and he chose to share the meaning behind this painting for the play with the girls. It’s a giant swirl of colors and he says that he thought about how amazing it was that a person came to this country and had a family and then had children and that ended up with Kevin. The play made him realize that they are all connected and even when people die and they aren’t’ there anymore, it doesn’t mean they’re really gone. That also ties in with Kate watching the game with Jack’s urn. It’s just so touching and I kind of wish we got to see Randall’s reaction to Jack passing on. We’ve seen the reaction from the other two. I’m not happy that Jack is dead but I am glad that that’s how Rebecca ends up with Miguel (and it makes me think perhaps that Miguel’s wife also died). It also means the Pearson family may have some step siblings as well.

Randall and Beth are going to have their own drama going forward (aside from William and Kevin being unexpected guests). As Randall freaks out over the suite (going on about all the loud, adult sex they’re going to have in the shower), Beth admits that she’s quite late and has some other early pregnancy symptoms but she can’t bring herself to go to the store to get a test. They bicker about what they’d seen for their futures as they go to get the test but by the time they are waiting for the test results they've reconciled. It turns out she’s not pregnant, so they don’t have to change their lives to fit in another child but they do have to deal with some loss. As Kevin is giving the girls a big speech, we see Randall packing up William’s clothes so he has passed on. I’m almost glad we did it that way because it was going to be emotional regardless of how it happened. I do want to see how the kids react to losing this person who just came into their lives.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Lucifer 2.05: "Weaponizer"

“Bring Mom to me, or I’ll take back what Dad gave you.”
- Uriel

So when last we left our dynamic duo, Chloe was just rammed by another car! We see a man in a trench coat setting things up so that Chloe gets hit by the other car. A short time later, Chloe promises Lucifer that it was just a freak accident (she has to convince Trixie of that fact too) before heading off for a case. The case this week is a dead washed up action star. Lucifer loves the guy’s films for the violence and nudity (and ninjas). While Lucifer is chatting with Ella about his obsession with the actor, he spots a figure and follows him up to a nearby rooftop. It seems another angelic sibling has come down to Earth to convince Lucifer to send Mom back to Hell. Uriel gives his brother an ultimatum: return with Mom within 24 hours or Dad is gonna take back his side of the deal (aka revoke the pass on Chloe’s life).

At first Lucifer thinks setting Amenediel on the problem (to convince Uriel to back off) is the answer but he also decides to keep an insanely close eye on Chloe because anything could lead to her being harmed. Apparently Uriel’s powers involve patterns and changing fate or something. We also get some hilarious bonding moments with Lucifer and Dan. Apparently they both love the movies and are just bromancing it out over the movie. And their shared knowledge of everything about the actor leads them to his ex-wife, Jamie (played by Charisma Carpenter). She explains that she was with her Pilates instructor when her ex died but she did go by his place because of a voicemail he left her. This puts the gang on to his rival (and her current husband), another film star. He came into the franchise in the fourth film and then spun off his own successful series. Lucifer and Chloe go off to track him down and catch him attempting to jump some random guy at a bar.

Meanwhile, Amenediel is having a really rough go of it. He goes to talk to Charlotte (who is struggling to keep up her human existence) to sort of warn her vaguely that as time passes, other siblings will come to try and take her back. She says she’ll just convince them to let her stay like she did with her two other boys but he rightly points out that she was gone a very long time and she may not know her kids as well as she thinks. Seriously, this whole episode Amenediel has just looked so sad and pathetic. I really was hoping he’d confide in someone about his wings (someone who would actually believe him).

Unfortunately, the case isn’t exactly closer to being solved. Jamie’s other husband says he and the victim were friends despite all the public drama. But his prints are found on the murder weapon so he’s now under arrest. And for some reason, Dan is acting like a star struck moron instead of checking alibis and such (after Lucifer bails the guy out of jail). Apparently he was not wise with his funds because he squandered his fortune and is now broke. Oops. In other news, Amenediel thinks they should take another avenue with Uriel instead of fighting (you know since he can’t actually do that without admitting his failings). But thanks to Lucifer he goes to try and be all bluster and convince Uriel that he is still strong. The middle child though is smart and can somewhat see through his big brother’s bluff and starts pounding the crap out of him on that rooftop. It makes me very sad that Lucifer wasn’t there because I would hope he would have given his brother a beat down.

It turns out that the victim and the alleged killer really shared everything including a manager. Plus, the murder weapon was one of two (they each got the same award). So maybe the wife swapped them and the manager killed him. So now Dan and Chloe are racing off to find both of them. But Uriel is in the mix still, seeing as he didn’t get what he demanded within the timeframe. So now Lucifer has to go deal with the middle brother. Amenediel finally admitted what’s been happening to him but Lucifer acts like he doesn’t really care. I suspect he’s just really worried about Chloe at the moment. He’s not as selfish as he comes off so I hope he and Amenediel can deal with his loss of power together in a more constructive way.

Chloe manages to wrap up the case pretty quickly (even talking the current husband down from shooting everyone) and gets to go home and read to Trixie in bed. But Lucifer has to deal with his family drama. He’s super pissed that none of them really know what God said or meant and he points that out to Uriel when he meets up with him in a church. Uriel explains that if Mom gets back to Heaven, God will forgive her and she’ll destroy Dad. So he’s borrowed a blade from the Angel of Death and he’s intent on killing Charlotte. He’ll kill Chloe too (he doesn’t really care) and this just pisses Lucifer off. At first it seems Lucifer’s got the upper hand in the fight but as it goes on, Uriel picks up the patterns and starts wailing on his little brother. Maze shows up to the party and gets a few licks in, too before Lucifer grabs the discarded blade and stabs his brother. The look of shock and anguish on Lucifer’s face at what he’s done is heartbreaking. He never meant to hurt his brother. Sure he fights with Amenediel but there’s still a brotherly bond there and they’d never actually kill each other. But Lucifer took that ultimate act of evil and it’s going to affect him big time. We end with Lucifer going home and sharing the news with Charlotte as they both cry in each other’s arms.

Once Upon a Time 6.05: "Street Rats"

“Neither of us are hero material. I may be a selfish street rat but you are a selfish princess.”
- Aladdin

We have finally been given the story of Aladdin and Jasmine but it is not at all the story we remember here in the Land Without Magic. Sure, the Sultan is being controlled by Jafar and Jasmine is a princess and Aladdin is a street rat but there’s no genie or cute monkey and Aladdin is not too keen on being a savior. When he and jasmine first meet, Jafar is torturing the locals by turning some of the poor people into actual street rats. I have to admit, maybe it’s because I’ve watched an insane amount of Leverage but honestly watching Aladdin pick pockets made me cringe. There was no subtlety to it. He just took stuff off people. How they didn’t feel the lift is beyond me. But he gets away without anyone noticing but the princess. She wants to hire him to help her steal a magical artifact that can free her father from Jafar’s control and save her kingdom. The fact that she has to blackmail him into helping her probably shouldn’t bode well for a strong relationship. The pair of them bickers the whole way to the Cave of Wonders.

Meanwhile in Storybrooke, Emma is leading Archie on a wild bird chase to the oracle so the girl can convince Archie about what’s going on. Unfortunately, they find the girl has been murdered and shortly thereafter Emma nabs Jasmine. Jasmine spills the beans that she’s looking for Aladdin but she didn’t kill the oracle. So who did? Archie finds out the answer that as soon as he gets back to his office. The Evil Queen killed her because she wanted to know the content of Emma’s visions. So she kidnaps our sweet therapist (dumping him on Zelena) and impersonates her. Emma thinks that now that Aladdin is alive she has a shot of not having to tell her family about the whole visions thing after all. Fake Archie follows her back to the Charmings and forces her to tell the truth, which sends the whole family into something of a spiral. Hook is pissed Emma didn’t tell him, Henry’s feeling guilty for bringing Emma into this world in the first place and Regina is just miffed that it looks like she might be the one under the hood about to kill Emma.

While the family tries to sort things out, the Evil Queen decides it is a primo time to take Zelena for a spa day, leaving kidnapped Archie in charge of babysitting. Oh I would have liked to see more of that rather than the spa day with the dastardly sisters. But the Evil Queen kind of has a point. The reason Henry rejected her when she became the Evil Queen again was because she hid who she was from him all his life. So if Zelena doesn’t hide her wicked ways, then maybe baby Robin will grow up accepting her mother for who she is.

As Emma struggles to figure out a way to find Aladdin and sort out her future mess in Storybrooke, Aladdin and Jasmine make their way to the Cave of Wonders and with some hokey password guessing, they get in. They find the alleged magical object but it turns to sand as soon as Aladdin picks it up. Of course, this then triggers a failsafe and the place starts coming down around them, prompting Aladdin to bust out his Savior powers. Jasmine admits that she knew he was Savior material and he’s the one (the weapon) that is going to defeat Jafar. Aladdin insists on taking a minute alone so Jasmine heads back to the palace. Unfortunately, Aladdin’s alone time is interrupted by Jafar who brings visions of Aladdin’s death and fate as the Savior. He also offers a solution: the shears of Fate. They’ll sever his connection to his fate and be allowed to live his life. But it means he won’t have his power or be the Savior anymore. Things are looking bad for the people of Jasmine’s kingdom when Jafar locks her in a magic hour glass to kill her so he can take over ruling the place. But Aladdin busts in on a magic carpet and destroys Jafar’s staff, freeing the Sultan and Jasmine. With the foe temporarily defeated, Aladdin thinks he’ll just head off to wherever and he asks jasmine to go with him but she turns him down.

Thanks to Regina, Emma is able to find Aladdin through a magic to magic tracking spell. It leads them to a crypt and Jasmine finds the scarab she gave Aladdin as a gift, convinced he/s dead. But as Henry tries to apologize to Emma for bringing her into all this (she promises if she could go back, she’d do it all again), Aladdin appears. He used the shears, the kingdom fell and he fled to the Enchanted Forest. He’d been hiding out in Storybrooke the whole time. With a little prompting from Emma, he goes to Jasmine to try and reconcile. I don’t think it will be all happiness and rainbows given she still wants him to save her people and he literally isn’t able to anymore. Emma seems to be having more luck with her family. She says she doesn’t want to keep secrets from them anymore (funny that at least 2 people in the room are keeping secrets at the moment) so she hands over the shears to Hook, telling him to get rid of them. She doesn’t want to shy away from her fate and she doesn’t want them in the wrong hands. So as a storm rolls in, Hook goes out into the middle of the lake to toss the shears away. But as Emma heads home (he’ll meet her in a minute he just needs to check on his ship), we see that he kept the shears. I suspect if she’s not willing to use them to save her own life, he’ll use it so he won’t lose her.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

No Tomorrow 1.02: "No Crying in Baseball"

“Well, some risks are worth taking, Evie. We all get to decide what’s important to us. End of the world or not.”
-Xavier

“No Crying in Baseball,” while I don’t think the title had really anything to do with the contents of the episode (other than starting a theme of beginning every episode title with the word “No”) pretty much continued the adventures of Evie and her friends and family that began in the pilot episode. The biggest challenge in this episode is Jesse, Xavier’s fugitive (from a white collar crime) cousin who is currently living with Xavier. Evie’s trying to juggle a new relationship, a fugitive, a potential downsizing at work, her ex still trying to get back into her life, and making good on her promise to try and set up her boss with her boss’ assistant. Such a complicated life she leads for somebody who is supposed to be learning to really live!

At the beginning of the episode, Evie is excitedly telling her sister all about her time with Xavier while eating eggs. She puts too much hot sauce on the eggs, which I think is supposed to be some sort of metaphor for her relationship with Xavier. Evie’s mood is brought down by work, though, of course. Deirdre wants to get started on Operation: Hank-y Panky right away, much to Evie’s chagrin (because it’s just plain weird). Deirdre basically wants to know if she can massage Hank’s shoulders if he looks tense, and Evie assures her that she absolutely cannot. Instead, Evie encourages Deirdre to work on trying to become more approachable. There isn’t going to be much time for working on setting up Hank and Deirdre, though, because Cybermart corporate has brought in consultants from Excessive Solutions (I love the company names in this show) to interview all the staff and plan for layoffs. Evie freaks out because in high pressure situations, she tends to freeze up and go mute. Even with something lower stakes like playing a game of Celebrity with friends (I can definitely sympathize with that particular type of anxiety).

Evie’s personal life quickly becomes as anxiety-inducing as her work life. She and Xavier have been having car sex (an apoca-list item) and generally doing really well. They are happily chatting while watching a projection of stars on the ceiling when Jesse arrives and ruins the mood. Xavier informs Evie that Jesse will be living in his basement for the next eight months. Especially, with the apocalypse nigh, Xavier doesn’t want his cousin to die in prison, and that’s not negotiable. Evie is not amused. At work the next morning, Evie continues to fret over whether or not to call the police over Jesse. She tries to get advice from her friends by using the hypothetical of a ferret in the basement, which clearly doesn’t get her the answer she was hoping for. Hank at least surmises that Evie’s consternation has something to do with Xavier, and he rushes off to inform Timothy of potential trouble in Evie and Xavier’s happy free spirit land.

Xavier is focused on getting Jesse situated in fugitive life. First, he gets a woman to create a fake ID. Jesse becomes Harvey Stevens of Sioux City, Iowa. And now I know what my friend who moved back to Iowa this summer’s driver’s license probably looks like. Then they go to a storage space where Xavier has been keeping all of Jesse’s stuff. Included among Jesse’s stuff is a large bag full of cash. They need some of this cash to pay for the fake driver’s license. They also find a time capsule that they created together back in 1995. There are some typical mid-90s things like a Randy Johnson baseball card, but there’s also a camcorder video tape that Xavier’s mom sipped in at the last minute. This clearly throws Xavier off a bit.

Meanwhile, Evie continues to be consumed with work issues. In an effort to be more approachable and hopefully win Hank over, Deirdre decides to join Evie, Hank, and Kareema for what turns out to be a very awkward lunch. Deirdre keeps texting Evie for advice throughout the whole thing, and she’s just acting very awkward and unnatural in general. In the middle of a discussion of hidden talents, she mentions she can tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue, and everybody thinks that went way too far. Hank immediately gets up to get some more mashed potatoes. On the home front, Timothy drops by to give Evie some of her stuff that was left at his place, and he says he wants his stuff back too, including, oddly, the battery in her smoke detector. Evie admits that she does find Timothy handsome, and he’s always been “safe,” although I don’t think she really makes any moves towards wanting Timothy back – she’s still in Xavier-land. Timothy, however, thinks he still has a chance, and he immediately calls Hank to share the good news.

With Timothy gone, Evie sets to reading a book about interviewing while listening to headphones. She is interrupted when Xavier comes in through the window (rather ungracefully…apparently the window climb was more difficult than he anticipated). He wants to make Evie a deal – if he and Jesse successfully help her prepare for the interview, she will go on an adventure with them. Evie takes them up on the deal, I think because she wants to know how they think they can help. Since Jesse used to work in financial services, he starts with a high pressure mock interview that doesn’t help Evie at all. Xavier comes up with another approach – answering questions while playing softball. All goes well until Evie accidentally hits Jesse in the nose. After Jesse repairs his broken nose, he informs Xavier that he found a camcorder in the basement. Evie catches Xavier trying to watch the tape but not being able to get through the first few sentences. She asks Jesse about it the next morning, but all she gets out of him is that the woman in the tape is Xavier’s mother

Hank is doing everything he can to try and get Timothy and Evie back together. He completely revamps Timothy’s style to be more like Xavier’s, which mostly goes okay, although I don’t think Timothy likes the clothes. He looks hot in them though, especially without the glasses. Things take a bit of a turn when Hank tries (and actually does succeed) to pierce Timothy’s ear. Ultimately, though Evie’s not overly impressed with the makeover. She says she preferred the original Timothy, and she rushes off to help Xavier (more on that in a minute, because this actually happened late in the episode). Kareema says, however, that she likes Timothy’s pants and wants a pair. Hank is kind of horrified to realize that he might have accidentally bought Timothy women’s pants. Ultimately, Hank just misses their whole crew hanging together. Evie agrees to a game night the next week, just the three of them. Oh, and Deirdre takes Evie’s advice to do something nice for Hank and buys him an ergonomic desk chair. He seems to appreciate the gesture.

While all this is going on, we learn, in a conversation between Greg (Evie’s dad) and Mary Anne (Evie’s sister) that Greg is trying to become Salesman of the Year at the big box store where he works. Mary Anne buys the extended warranty on a toaster, but it’s still not going to be good enough to beat perpetual winner Barry. Later, Evie realizes she needs to buy a new microwave for Xavier, and while she’s at the store, Greg looks exhausted and informs Evie that he’s been picking up every possible extra shift that he can to win the award. It’s all likely for naught, though, since Barry sold a hot tub. Evie is driving home with Xavier and Jesse when they come across Dead Man’s Cliff, and Jesse immediately wants to stop. Xavier is on board with this since jumping off Dead Man’s Cliff is on his apoca-list. Jumping off the high dive is on Evie’s list, so it seems like a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

Xavier explains how his mom would take him to the cliff in the summer (they had family in Seattle, even though they’re British) and try to get him to jump, but he never did. He sees this as a chance at redemption. Evie is inspired, and they both follow Jesse jumping off the cliff. The mood comes down on the way home, though, when Jesse throws a beer can and catches the attention of a cop. The cop demands to see all of their IDs, although thankfully, he doesn’t actually run any of the IDs. He makes Jesse pick up the beer can, and then he lets them go. When he drops Evie off, Xavier apologizes and says he’s going to help Jesse leave the country so he won’t put them in danger anymore. Evie sees this as an even more risky option, and this upsets her, because Xavier means a lot to her. She accuses Xavier of letting his apoca-list dictate his life.

Evie and Xavier both face their fears. Xavier finally watches the video, where his mom says to keep Jesse out of jail and follow his heart. Evie faces the panel of consultants. She’s a bit hesitant at first, but then she remembers that if she jumped off Dead Man’s Cliff, she can face anything, and she becomes more confident, telling the consultants exactly what needs to be done other than layoffs to fix her warehouse. The consultants seem to like her spunk. She mentions to them that packages sometimes end up in the wrong country, and this gives her an idea for how to help Jesse. She rushes out of the meeting, sees Timothy, then tries to get to Xavier. Her car won’t start, so she runs, and Xavier’s running too. She tells Xavier she has a plan, and she sets it in motion. The plan, naturally, is using Cybermart to ship Jesse to Canada in a big box, and it goes off without a hitch. Xavier returns the favor by buying a bunch of washing machines so that Greg can win Salesman of the Year after all. Together, Xavier and Evie turn the washing machines into a giant foam party.

Friday, October 21, 2016

MTVP So Cal Summer 2016: The LA Complex 1.04: "The Other Side of the Door"

“Stop it. Anything you say now is just going to be insulting.”
-Nick

The fourth episode of “The LA Complex” saw some of our characters appear to achieve success, while others thought they had found success but have it snatched away from them. Or have the result of their endeavors turn out not as they expected. And then there’s Abby and Nick, who go nowhere professionally in this episode, but do make some leaps personally (maybe). We also got to know Connor a little better in this episode, which I appreciated, because without the backstory, he’s kind of a whiny brat. He’s still kind of a whiny brat even with the backstory, but at least now I kind of get why he is the way he is.

The episode opens with a flashback to Connor’s childhood in Australia. His mom is taking a baby (presumably Connor’s new sister) and leaving Connor with his drunk at best abusive at worst father. Her reasoning is that Connor can take care of himself, but the baby can’t. This carries forward to the present day when Connor finally meets his new acting coach. The coach doesn’t do any acting exercises with Connor or anything. He just does what he can to build up Connor’s self-esteem. He tells him how good his auditions were and how he just needs to relax. He even goes to the well of “everybody loves you.” A hug seals the deal and Connor thinks he has a new father figure. He kicks ass in a scene that he had thought would be really difficult, and when he goes to the acting coach’s house to thank him and tell him about it, the coach says it would be best if Connor just emails him. Low blow, acting coach!

Meanwhile, Kal and Tariq are trying to get some private time. Kal tries to take Tariq to one of his “downlows” (basically a room in the hood with a video game system), but Tariq is not impressed. He asks Kal if they can go somewhere else as long as it is just as private. They end up going to a B and B in Big Sur where the proprietors have know knowledge of rap. Tariq sets it up using the pseudonyms “Carl Winslow and Steve,” and I appreciated the little nod to “Family Matters.” He tells the proprietors that “Steve” is a musician, and they appear to not recognize him at all. At first, Kal isn’t really feeling it. He doesn’t like the vegan food the proprietors serve, and there are no video game systems. The foursome bond over a game of scrabble, though, and Kal ends up actually having a good time, even talking about his and Tariq’s relationship when the proprietors ask. When they arrive back in LA, though, Tariq has to get back in his broke ass Corolla and pretend none of it happened, and it is clear that the hiding is wearing on him.

Early in the episode, Nick saw an ad for Alicia’s sex tape, and when he warns her about it, he is shocked that she already knew and was excited that it was going to be released soon. Things don’t end up working as Alicia planned, though. There is going to be no sale of the tape (and no money for Alicia) after all. Ricky booked a spot on the next season of “Rehab,” so he’s completely on the image rehabilitation train and leaving Alicia behind. It’s hard to tell whether he had genuine feelings for Alicia or if he was just hoping she’d help springboard him to the celebreality TV circuit. Alicia’s manager says he’s still trying to parlay the sex tape into nightclub appearances, but so far none have materialized. By the end of the episode, though, he does have something in mind for her. Vivid Entertainment (the porn company) wants to do a deal with her. Alicia is pretty sure she wants to do it, but she runs the situation by Raquel first. Raquel promises she’ll still be Alicia’s friend even if she becomes a porn star, and she even accompanies her to her meeting at Vivid.

Raquel spends most of the episode trying to hustle Gary the alcoholic dentist for money to get her film started. In the process of the hustle, though, she seems to start to develop some real feelings for him. They have a nice dinner, and Gary seems to be moving closer towards agreeing to put up some money for the film. The writer guys, however, think Gary might just be trying to get into Raquel’s pants. Raquel does seem at least somewhat aware of the possibility she could be getting played, and that fear gets worse when she runs into Gary’s ex-wife, Jennifer, who warns Raquel not to count on any promises Gary makes. By the end of the episode, though, Gary has proven (for now, at least) that he is trying to turn over a new leaf. He sets up Raquel with a new agent at WME of all places, and he also agrees to help finance the film.

Abby and Nick have a generally weird day in this one. They’re both broke and jobless, so Nick decides he’s going to teach Abby how to survive in LA. Their adventure starts collecting can from a high-end suburban neighborhood, which can then be turned in for money. The next stop on the “teach a (wo)man to fish” tour is Chinatown (I think), where Nick uses the money from the cans to buy some really nasty looking fish. It doesn’t end there, though. The nasty fish from the market is bait so that they can literally fish on a pier. The fishing leads to a rather cozy picnic dinner, which leads to making out, which leads to going back to their room to have sex. The sex is interrupted when Alicia wants to talk to Nick, though. So we’ll have to see how that turns out in the next episode.

On a more general note, the title of this episode reminded me of one of my favorite childhood poems, “The Other Side of the Door” by Jeff Moss. I can see several plots from this episode captured in its words.

On the other side of the door I can be a different me, As smart and as brave and as funny or strong As a person could want to be. There’s nothing too hard for me to do, There’s no place I can’t explore Because everything can happen On the other side of the door.

On the other side of the door I don’t have to go alone. If you come, too, we can sail tall ships And fly where the wind has flown. And wherever we go, it is almost sure We’ll find what we’re looking for Because everything can happen On the other side of the door.
-Jeff Moss

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fresh off the Boat 3.01: "Coming From America"

“Stop being soft, American eggs and start being thousand-year-old, Taiwanese eggs.”
-Jessica

In the third season premiere of “Fresh off the Boat,” the Huangs went to Taiwan, and much hilarity and soul searching ensued. While the fictional television Huang family of “Fresh off the Boat” may be more functional and less abusive than the family the real Eddie Huang wrote about in his memoir of the same name (Huang has criticized the show for glossing over the more difficult aspects of his childhood), I think this episode really touched on the issues of identity specific to first and second generation immigrants that is a central theme to Huang’s book. All of the Huangs struggle in different ways to reconcile what parts of them are American and what parts or Taiwanese. There are also several nods to the notion that they don’t stand out, and they aren’t second class citizens in Taiwan. These are very central themes to the real Eddie Huang’s writings (there’s some depth underneath all the expletives and hip hop lingo, I promise!). This is a story that, right now at least, only “Fresh off the Boat” can tell.

The episode opens with the Huangs arriving in Taiwan. An immigration officer asks both Louis and Jessica why they are traveling to Taiwan, and when Jessica says it’s to get $200 back from her brother-in-law who wronged her, the immigration officer points out that “brother-in-law who wronged me” is an option she can check off on her entry form. A very happy Jessica breathily says “I’m home!” And that’s really the last moment that Jessica feels truly comfortable in Taiwan. When the family heads outside, she’s dismayed to see her sons acting like tourists. Evan went to AAA and packed a bag full of toilet paper and cereal, since that’s what the AAA pamphlet told him to take to Taiwan. All the kids are also complaining that the weather is too hot, and it’s mosquito season. Jessica sternly tells the boys that they’re home now, and she continues to insist that Taiwan is their home, even when they point out that they’ve never been to Taiwan before.

The family arrives at Big Auntie’s house (she’s Grandma Huang’s younger sister), where Big Auntie informs Louis that Gene is at the wedding venue finalizing some details. Louis jokes that the wedding is probably just in a city park, but it’s actually at the Grand Hotel. Louis goes to the hotel, and he and Gene briefly reconcile when Gene realizes what Louis went through to make it to the wedding (a direct flight, economy plus). He’s very happy to have more family supporting the wedding. He takes Louis to a commercial set to meet his fiancĂ©e, Margaret. Louis at first can’t figure out who Margaret is, because she’s way younger and more beautiful than anyone he would have predicted Gene marrying. Margaret is played by a famous Taiwanese actress, Ann Hsu, who is very game for all the ridiculousness this episode requires.

Meanwhile, Jessica is taking the boys out for one of her favorite things in Taipei – swordfish soup from a particular vendor. Unfortunately, when they arrive at the swordfish stall, the vendor is all out of soup. He suggests Jessica take the boys to McDonald’s down the street, and the boys of course think that sounds like a great idea. Later at dinner, Big Auntie shows her disapproval of this in a rather passive aggressive way. The real “you can’t go home again” moment for Jessica happens later in the episode when she takes the boys shopping at the Night Markets. Eddie sees some sneakers that he really wants, and Jessica buys them after an appropriate amount of haggling. The shoes fall apart immediately, though, and Jessica is reminded that if she had really done the haggling correctly, she would have been taken to a second location for the “good” fakes.

Meanwhile, Louis is rather dismayed when he learns what a great life Gene has been living in Taiwan. He has a beautiful wife, and they live in a super swanky house with a downstairs apartment for Big Auntie. Gene went through some tough times for sure, but he’s settled down now and has a rather awesome life. The kids even want to know why they can’t live as fancy as Gene and Margaret. They want to be “Taiwanese poor,” too. Louis is jealous of what Gene has, so much so that during the pre-wedding festivities, he writes a nasty message on a lantern that is meant to be released instead of something nice like “I wish you happiness.” Gene is very upset about this, because he did truly hope that his brother would be happy for him.

Everything comes to a head at the wedding reception. Louis admits that he can’t understand why Gene was so upset about missing his chance to go to America when he has such a great life in Taiwan. Gene reminds Louis that until recently, he really struggled too. The two brothers do end up reconciling, and Louis makes a new lantern for Gene that does indeed wish him happiness. More interestingly, Louis and Jessica have a really insightful discussion about how they aren’t fully at home in either Taiwan or Orlando. This is prompted by a video played at the reception where Gene and Margaret reenact scenes from “Ghost.” Louis is considering moving back to Taiwan because it seems like life would be easier. As he puts it, “We’re the white people of here.” Jessica feels differently. There are a lot of things she misses about Orlando, and she has realized that she is not fully of Taiwan anymore, either. All of the jokes about “Ghost” that popped up throughout the episode, culminating in the wedding video, work as a rather fantastic metaphor for the status of an immigrant, or anybody who no longer lives where they grew up. They are in two worlds but fully part of neither. I only moved three hours away, and it’s been ten years, but I still feel a bit of that too. Hence why I always call myself a “Baltidelphian.” Philadelphia is my roots, but Baltimore was my young adulthood. Both are important, but I’m not fully one or the other. I imagine this is even stronger when your competing homes are different country.

For the Huang kids, although they do have their own question of identity, there is ultimately no question of where “home” is. It’s Orlando. They may have been influenced by their parents’ Chinese-Taiwanese culture, but they are American at their core. Emery gets eaten alive by the mosquitos and scares off the girl a relative tries to set him up with. Evan goes to school with his cousin Hennessey and freaks out at the sight of corporal punishment. He demands to go home to the United States immediately. Eddie just spends the whole time (when not wanting cool fake sneakers) wishing he could fax Allison back home, which never does work out. Thankfully, when he gets home, Eddie explains what happened and Allison understands. She has bad news for him, though. Shaq is leaving the Magic for the Lakers. Eddie’s life may never be the same!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

This Is Us 1.04: “The Pool”

“Three weeks I’ve known you and I still haven’t said the words. I’m sorry. I’m so deeply sorry. I did everything wrong by you and you’ve done everything right. You are doing everything right, son.”
- William

This episode is all about thee undertones of race that are facing our family both in the 1980s and in the present. It’s not surprising that we’ve gotten to this place this early in the season as it really needed to be addressed, especially with Jack and Rebecca. It’s a hot summer day and the air conditioning in the house isn’t working so Jack’s solution is to take the family to the local pool. He has to talk Rebecca into it but she seems okay with going out with the kids but I suspect things aren’t going to go all that well. As we’ve seen, Kate was heavier-set, even as a young girl but Jack’s bought her a bikini to wear to the pool and Rebecca is fretting that people will make fun of her. Jack isn’t concerned. He’s also not worried about whether Randall needs sunscreen or not. He should be worried about whatever is going on with Kevin. He’s got an attitude and is just being generally a jerk to Randall all the time. The pool gets pretty crowded and Rebecca and Jack keep losing track of the kids. Randall wanders off and Kate gets a mean note from some of the girls from school (poor thing) while Kevin just wants his dad to pay attention to him. The more Kevin tries to get Jack’s attention, the less Jack is noticing him and because of that, Kevin nearly drowns in the deep end of the pool because he’s not a strong swimmer. And we see Rebecca clash a bit with the black families at the pool. Randall ended up playing with some of their kids and things got awkward. But it all works out in the end. Randall gets to hang out with black kids and Jack promises to pay more attention to Kevin.

In the present, Kevin is now on the East Coast and he’s going to audition for a play in New York. It also seems like he and Randall are trying to improve their relationship as he video chats his little brother once he’s settled in a hotel. I have to admit I haven’t cringed yet during this show until Kevin’s audition for this play. It is beyond awkward and uncomfortable. I just kept shaking my head. It’s like he’d never read a script before or understood stage directions. Part of me hopes he doesn’t get the part just so he can realize that maybe he isn’t ready for this step. That he just can’t go from one media to another just because he’s an actor. Film and stage are drastically different. After the world’s worst audition, he runs into his scene partner who invites him for a drink so she can tell him all the things he did wrong. She basically points out all the things running through my head but just as she tells him to go back to LA and take some classes, she gets the notification that he got the part (thanks to his Man-ny fame).

Randall is having his own issues related to William. We learn that William was involved in civil rights work in the 80s (integrating school systems) which is really very cool and I can totally see young William getting involved in that. But as soon as William goes out for his morning walk, Randall sees the neighborhood security guard questioning William (the people across the street reported someone loitering). This is not going to sit well with Randall and as he takes William shopping for some new clothes, Randall kind of loses it a little bit. He explains that because he grew up in a house with a white family he had to learn to just let things go related to race and profiling or else he would be angry all the time. He has a point and I can sort of understand his perspective (from a disability standpoint) but holding all that anger inside (even if he says he lets it go) isn’t healthy. In fact during Tess’s play of Snow White (in which she is Snow White) the audience is laughing at some of the dialogue (specifically about her being fair) and Randall clearly is upset by this reaction to his little girl. William ends up apologizing for not being there for Randall and assures him that Randall is doing everything right. Randall doesn’t have a lot of time to ponder his father’s words because Kevin shows up looking for a place to crash. That is going to be interesting to say the least.

On the West Coast, Kate and Toby are trying to move forward with their relationship now that she’s not so dependent on Kevin. But she’s going to question their relationship when Toby runs into his ex-wife. Kate kind of gets obsessed with Toby’s ex, convinced she is what he wants (honey, she’s an ex for a reason) and so she ends up finding where the woman works. She goes to confront her and sort of falls into a job interview. It looks like things are going to go horrible when Kate starts rattling off things she saw online about Toby’s ex but it lands her the job. Now she just has to break the news to Toby! He is really upset by this and my heart broke when he explained what happened between him and his ex. She cheated on him, lied and took half his money in the divorce. He gained nearly 100 pounds in the year after she left and he seriously contemplated suicide before he started to get his life back on track. I am really glad we finally got to see a little bit of a serious side of Toby. His funny stuff is great and always makes me laugh but he did need some more depth and I’m excited to see him and Kate work through their issues together.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Lucifer 2.04: “Lady Parts”

“If you want to retrace the steps of two hot girls on a girls’ night, you need to think like two hot girls on a girls’ night.”
- Maze

Lucifer has discovered smart phones. He’s absolutely enthralled with them (much to Linda’s annoyance during their session). And as usual, he totally misinterprets what she’s saying. He thinks having lots of distractions will keep him from worrying about the situation with Mama Morningstar. Speaking of, Maze goes to check up on her but Charlotte seems to be holding her own. Sure the kids are gross and annoying and she seems to be able to shut up the husband with sex but she’s more than willing to take this punishment over Hell if it means she’s with her sons.

The case of the week starts off creepy enough. A couple of guys find a dead woman in the woods and at first they think it’s the Uber driver. But he has a solid alibi and thanks to Ella they know she was poisoned and said drug takes 90 minutes to do its work. While the case is moving along, Lucifer decides to help Chloe out and try to find her a house. She’s not overly pleased, especially since he now knows that she’s moving out of her moms’ house and she and Dan are splitting. Lucifer also chides her that she hasn’t had fun any time recently. I suspect given the episode title, we are going to see some of our ladies out together!

Before we get to the crazy shenanigans that had me laughing out loud, we have another body to drop. It turns out our first victim worked as a waitress at a high end club. She had a fight with her boss/fling about him sleeping with another waitress (his wife isn’t too pleased either). So Lucifer and Chloe head to check out the roommate that the first victim was out with and find her dead in her apartment from similar causes. We also get Lucifer making a bet with Maze that if Maze can get Chloe to go out for drinks and have fun, Maze gets his car. When Chloe shows up to Lux with case file stuff to throw at Lucifer (after work hours), Maze and Ella end up dragging her off to a tiki bar where they might actually find some case related intelligence. And that leaves Lucifer and Amenediel to have their own bonding moment (Linda suggested to Amenediel that he relax and have some drinks and maybe that will loosen him up for his….physical issues). So while the boys drink bourbon, the girls end up doing tequila shots and sharing some personal stuff with each other. Hello Dr. Linda the sex phone operator and Ella the car thief! It wouldn’t be complete with a giant bar brawl scene and I laughed so hard at that. But Chloe gets some information on where the girls might have gone (a sex club).

Chloe’s bright idea to find out what’s happening at the club is to send Dan and Lucifer in undercover. Because Lucifer has been chilling with big brother at the bar, he tags along and oh lord. If I thought the girls were funny, the boys are even more hilarious. Amenediel is dancing and being just generally drunk and adorable. But Dan and Lucifer do manage to get some key information out of the bartender. Some rich snob with a Gold Card paid for the girls’ drinks as well as drinks for a third girl who wasn’t present at the time. Well that gives them another lead as well. As they are leaving, Amenediel spills his drink on Dan’s shirt and Lucifer bemoans the fact he didn’t get video. He then follows Dan out of the club yelling “douche cam”.

Unfortunately, while Chloe was able to track down the guy who bought the girls’ drinks, she also learns about Lucifer’s bet with Maze. So she’s royally pissed at him as they go head off to deal with their rich jerk. It turns out he’s an old guy who was also poisoned by accident. The girls’ neighbor (and former sorority sister) was with them the night they died (and paid for their drinks). So naturally when Chloe and Lucifer go to confront her, she grabs a knife and holds it to Chloe’s throat. Thanks to a save from Lucifer’s phone, Chloe gets the drop on the woman and takes her down (after venting some of her frustrations about being lied to for girls’ night. But it turns out things may not be so off with her and Maze. Apparently in the missing half hour that Chloe can’t recall, she and Maze agreed to move in as roommates. It helps, I suppose, that Maze likes Trixie. And I’ll admit, I can’t wait to see more of them! Maze is really becoming a more well-defined character and I like that she is finding out who she is outside of her connections with Lucifer and Amenediel.

But while Chloe may have her life moving forward in the right direction (and Maze even got Lucifer to pour her a drink), Amenediel is back to seeing all the doom and gloom in their situation. He rightly points out that Lucifer hasn’t held up his end of the bargain with their father and if God decides to take back what he gave to Lucifer, Chloe could be in real danger. I get that Lucifer thinks he is so clever and has found a loophole but I’m inclined to believe Amenediel on this one. God put Charlotte in Hell for a reason (we still don’t know entirely what it was) and he clearly wants her back there. Case in point, as Chloe is heading off to drop off a deposit on an apartment, someone slams into her car, leaving us with a big old cliffhanger for next week’s episode. Bring on the next obstacle to Lucifer having Mama Morningstar in his life. I suspect he’s going to regret his decision when he sees that Chloe really is in danger. After all, his whole deal was to keep her safe.

Once Upon a Time 6.04: “Strange Case”

“These stories are going to play themselves out, whether you like it or not.”
- Hyde

Well, just when you think things are going to be okay in Storybrooke for half a second, they get turned on their heads. David is having some serious separation anxiety issues with Emma and Hook moving in together and so he’s made her a mountain of pancakes (which admittedly is kind of adorable). And Belle is kind of surprised at how little Hook has to move in (just a single chest). It is kind of nice (I guess) that he gifts her a sea shell she can use to call him if she needs help. Unfortunately, in his infinite overprotective nature, Gold pops by and casts a spell on the ship so Hyde can’t get in (but Belle also can’t get out). As much as I was rooting for the pair of them, Rumple really is engaging in some serious domestic abuse right now.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that while Snow may like teaching, she’s kind of terrible at it. For one thing she starts off her lesson with quoting Newton’s third law and then asks them to solve a math equation. I really don’t know what one has to do with the other and the kids are totally sitting there glassy eyed. Her new teacher’s aide (aka Jasmine under a false name) is equally befuddled by what’s going on. I had also forgotten that the school had a uniform. Henry looks pretty grown up in it. And it’s good he’s back at school after all that time he missed! At recess. Snow is lamenting that her students don’t remember anything and she can’t figure out why. Jasmine points out that she isn’t the same person she was when she last taught and she needs to take a different approach. Teach them as Snow White. I really hope we get some rollicking adventures. I also kind of miss having Henry in her class. And she does take the class outside to do some archery lessons that much better show the lesson she was trying to teach!

In flashbacks, we learn more about Jekyll and how Hyde came to be. He was working on a serum that would allow a man to control his baser nature but his work is thought to be too dangerous by the scientific community (including the father of the woman he fancies) and so he’s rather upset that he won’t be able to perfect it. So of course, Rumple has to get involved. It’s pretty clear we know his motivations. He wants to be able to control the inner beast (for Belle or for Neal it doesn’t really matter at that point). He uses some magic on Jekyll’s serum which creates Mr. Hyde. He’s stronger and not above blackmail. But hey, he gets into the academy so there’s that. Rumple pushes him to see if he can get Mary to fall for Jekyll (I’m assuming he’s hoping that if Hyde can win over Jekyll, then Rumple can win of Belle). The end result isn’t so great for Jekyll. Apparently Mary doesn’t much like how reserved he is and that he thinks passion and desire are to be quelled. So Mary and Hyde end up making out. Yikes! Cue the next morning wake up when Jekyll is back to himself and Mary freaks out. He then gets extremely angry and ends up pushing her out a window when she says she’ll never love him. So he drinks what’s left of the potion so people will think it was Hyde who killed her. Okay, I honestly wasn’t expecting Hyde to be the better person in this scenario. As a distraught Hyde starts packing up to make a run for it, Rumple pops by and loses his temper, seeing as the “experiment” failed. But he decides to let Hyde live so he can live with his failure.

In Storybrooke though, Jekyll is trying to work on the serum to destroy Hyde but he and Regina report that Hyde has broken out of the asylum. We see him and the Evil Queen pop by the pawn shop just after Rumple has given himself a spiffy haircut (Robert Carlyle had to cut his hair for a film role so they are working it in). Anyway, the evil duo is after a necklace to use to force Jekyll to do what they want (aka stop making the serum). Jekyll anticipates his other half’s motivations and secrets a bit of the serum away when the pair show up to trash the place. Regina has convinced Rumple to help out but all he does is take Jekyll’s heart to force Regina to give him the serum and pour it over his dagger. He’s convinced that since the Evil Queen has vowed to leave Belle alone, he only needs to use it on Hyde. Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to really be the case there.

As I predicted, things are not going to plan when Hyde shows up as Emma and David are looking for him. Hook is on the way (he clearly hasn’t hung out with many pregnant women because the moron offered Belle some rum) when Jekyll arrives to share the news that Hyde is messing about. Rumple thinks he’s got the better of the evil bastard when he stabs him but it turns out Hyde switched vials and he’s now in possession of Rumple’s dagger, forced to take them to Belle. Well, that’s going to be interesting since the protection spell is supposed to keep Hyde out. As we see in the flashback, it’s really Jekyll we need to be worried about. I suspect Rumple is going to be quite upset about the fact the spell keeps Hyde out. Especially when Belle goes to try and call for help from Hook with the shell and Jekyll grabs her wrist quite violently. To get away from him she stabs him with a piece of the sea shell. It honestly looked like it should have hit a major artery in his neck but it didn’t and there really isn’t much blood so I guess he’s more resilient than we thought. And I suppose I have to say thank you to Hook for coming to Belle’s rescue when Rumple can’t do anything. He ends up impaling Jekyll in the rigging which results in Hyde’s death as well. Of course that’s got to be the only way to get rid of the Evil Queen! Regina makes Emma promise to take her out if the darkness starts to creep back in. Clearly Emma isn’t pleased by this notion but she did basically make Regina promise the same thing in Camelot so it’s only fair. And Belle confronts Rumple about his motives. It’s clear to see that he did all of this in the hopes of being better for her (or at least winning her over). She’s still not having any of it, including his threats that the baby will need protecting by virtue of his parentage. Yeah, Rumple needs to back the hell off! And in a twist I honestly didn’t see coming, Jasmine is working with the Oracle and I’m guessing they are both looking for Aladdin.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

No Tomorrow 1.01: "Pilot"

“The point is we’ve got to stop doing all the things we feel obligated to do and start doing the things that we want to do.”
-Xavier

“No Tomorrow” is the new CW show that I was most looking forward to going into the fall television season. CW over the past few years has been rebranding itself as the network of DC superheroes and hour long comedies featuring quirky female leads. “No Tomorrow” falls in the latter category. I’m a huge fan of both “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” so I had to give another show in that same mold a try. It’s from the same creative team as “Jane the Virgin,” and it’s based on a telenovela, too. My verdict on the pilot is that it wasn’t quite insta-love like I felt when first watching “Jane the Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” but it was an entertaining hour that made me smile, so I’m definitely in for more episodes. I need to know if the apocalypse is really nigh!

“No Tomorrow” is the story of Evie, a driven, organized 30-year-old woman who appears to work as a manager at a fulfillment center for an Amazon-like company called Cybermart. She has an absolutely awful boss, a few good work friends, and a sister with two young children. She also has a recently ex-boyfriend named Timothy who is a really quiet talker. Her life changes one weekend at the farmers’ market when she asks a vendor about the listeria precautions he takes for his rutabagas. While having this conversation, she meets “Xavier with an X” (“Galavant’s” Joshua Sasse, unfortunately not singing in this episode), and they have an immediate connection. She tells her friends about this at work, and they think she might be a bit crazy. Especially since she and Timothy just went on a break.

Evie wants more out of life, but she’s also a chronic people pleaser who doesn’t take risks. There’s an opening in the unit of her company that focuses on charitable giving, and Evie would love to apply except for one small thing. The last time she told her horrible boss, Deirdre, of her interest in that unit of the company, Deirdre listed a whole bunch of reasons why Evie would utterly fail at that position. I have a lot of sympathy for Evie here, having had an emotionally abusive boss myself at one point in my career who tried to convince me I couldn’t write (I know, right?) and didn’t belong in grad school, even though I already had a law degree and was a licensed attorney. That kind of stuff can really mess you up. That particular day in the office, Evie and her friend Hank and Kareema are just happy that they aren’t the ones Deirdre chose to fire in her latest tantrum.

Evie’s life starts to change when she sees a case of Carpe Diem beer addressed to none other than Xavier (they have very similar addresses, and the delivery person mixed things up). After having a conversation with her sister, where her (very smart) sister tells Evie to leave immediately if any alarm bells go off, Evie decides to deliver the beer to Xavier herself. Xavier is very happy to see his case of beer and to see Evie. He does indeed remember her from the farmers’ market. Evie accepts an invitation to have a beer, which she kind of regrets once she realizes that Carpe Diem is a sour beer. At first, she and Xavier are really hitting it off, but then things get weird. The inside of Xavier’s house looks like a Sharper Image catalogue, and he says he doesn’t work. The precise reason he doesn’t work is because he firmly believes that an asteroid is going to destroy the Earth in a little over eight months (conveniently around season finale time). This definitely makes alarm bells go off for Evie, but she doesn’t entirely dismiss Xavier.

The next day, while Evie is hanging out with her family at the park, Timothy arrives on the scene. It’s pretty clear that in addition to Evie’s friends, her family are also all rooting for Evie and Timothy to make it. I get why Evie’s not really feeling it anymore, though. He talks really quietly, and he always plays things safe and risk averse. He’s pretty much the textbook definition of the safe choice (maybe so much so that the character needs to be worked on a bit to make him more complex). Anyway, even though they’re not together at the moment, Timothy brings Evie’s nephew a gift of knee pads (see what I mean about the whole “safe choice” thing being a little on-the nose?) and takes Evie away from her family to propose (also using a knee pad when he gets down on one knee). Evie, understandably, doesn’t have an answer for Timothy right away, and she tells him she’ll think about it. She really should have just let the poor guy go right then and there, but I digress.

Evie goes home to find Xavier waiting with an apology/thank you six pack of beer. They sit down on the porch and look through Xavier’s bucket list notebook. Xavier wants Evie to join him on his quest to try and complete as many of the bucket list items as possible before doomsday. Evie is a little reluctant at first, but then she agrees to join him for at least one outing. After a few vetoes (interestingly, one of these vetoes was “call dad”), they settle on going for a joy ride with Big Carl. This involves a very fast drive through the desert with somebody called, of course, Big Carl. Evie has the time of her life, and she ends up going back to Xavier’s place. The next morning, before Evie leaves for work, they make plans to have drinks later that evening.

At work, Evie is happier than she’s been in a long time. She decides to use positivity (allowing them to play basketball if they meet their quota) to motivate her team to fill more boxes than ever. Riding the high, Evie heads to the bar for drinks with Xavier. Evie had mentioned to Xavier that a major item on her own bucket list would be to sing in public, so Xavier arranges for Evie to have a chance to sing with the 80’s cover band that is playing at the bar that night. Inexplicably (I feel like she’s about ten years too young for this), Evie is a major Whitesnake fan, and she reluctantly starts singing “Here I Go Again.” At first she is tentative, until Xavier threatens to start stripping if she doesn’t start to sing for real. The night takes a turn, however, when Hank shows up to inform Evie that she’s been fired because of a horrible email she sent to Deirdre. It turns out that Xavier actually sent the email because he wanted Evie to really live her life. Evie freaks out about this, though (understandably), and she’s done with Xavier. For now, at least.

Evie immediately goes to Timothy, tells her something happened with Xavier, and tries to get on his good side again. She doesn’t, however, agree to marry him. Timothy, even if he’s super boring, does have good advice to help Evie get her job back. Evie shows Deirdre that her IP address is different from the IP address of the email sender. Deirdre agrees to rehire Evie if Evie will help her form a romantic relationship with Hank (who happens to be Deirdre’s assistant…WTV Deirdre!). A relationship that completely conforms to the company fraternization policy, of course. When Evie gets home, she finds a pogo stick at her door (using a pogo stick was also on her bucket list). Evie takes a pretty bad fall while pogo-sticking, though, and she ends up in the hospital courtesy of a 911 call by Xavier (who was watching her from a distance because he can sometimes be a creeper like that).

At the hospital, Evie finds out that she just has a mild concussion from the fall. She does, however, also have a heart condition that will require surgery (non-invasive) right away. After she recovers from the surgery (which seemed pretty quick, so I looked up her heart condition, and it’s not like she required open heart surgery or anything, so maybe the recovery time was only slightly exaggerated), Evie is ready to start truly living life on her own terms – a sort of compromise between the super controlled, people pleasing life she lived before and the complete abandon of Xavier’s life. She tells Timothy she’s not ready for marriage, and growing a spine for once, he accuses her of considering him as a safe backup plan, and he asks her to leave the bar, since he already ordered food. Then she goes to talk to Xavier. She needs to do the whole bucket list thing at her own pace, but the pair do agree to work on items on each of their lists together. First up is from Evie’s list. She wants to see what happens when you put foil in the microwave (because she’s a rebel like that). Evie and Xavier have a lot of fun watching the sparks, but things take (another) turn at the very end of the episode, when Xavier’s cousin shows up, having just broken out of prison.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Good Place 1.05: “Category 55 Emergency Doomsday Crisis”

“I used to do that. Now I do selfless things without even thinking about it.”
- Eleanor

As we’ve seen in the last few episodes, things seem to go horribly wrong when Eleanor does bad things. In the last episode, she created a huge sinkhole in town that has Michael in a panic. According to Janet, the sinkhole isn’t repairing itself and in fact is getting bigger. She relays this information to Michael during a brunch party Tahani is hosting. Jason (it’s just easier to call him that) bolts out of ethics with Chidi and Eleanor to make sure he doesn’t miss out on the mini waffles. Speaking of ethics class, Eleanor is super pumped to be learning and it is almost too much for Chidi to handle. He’s spent the whole day teaching them about different theories of ethics (the latest being utilitarianism which she thinks is pretty awesome) and she insists he keep going (or in the alternative grade her latest paper).

As I mentioned, Chidi is rather overwhelmed by all of it (he didn’t quite think it would be a full-time job) and this leads to some serious tension between them. He insists nothing is wrong when she keeps asking but she knows he’s lying. He wasn’t even that proud of her when she stepped out of line at the frozen yogurt shop because she couldn’t pick from the zillion flavors Michael had added to the menu to compensate for the sinkhole. In life, she never would have done that. She would be the person who took forever and then purposely tried a bunch of flavors she knew she didn’t want to spite the people behind her. Our little wayward student is actually learning!

Michael’s solution to dealing with the sinkhole turns into keeping everyone inside for the foreseeable future. This really doesn’t sit well with Eleanor and Chidi because they have a pretty big blow out where he admits he wants to just be enjoying his afterlife in paradise, not dealing with her drama. And then they get some houseguests (one was a marriage counselor and the other started a company to investigate identity fraud). Just what our duo doesn’t need in their afterlives at that moment. But it does turn out to be pretty helpful. We learn that Chidi’s issue is that he never had real love in life. He was never in an intense relationship before and he’s kind of disappointed (given that Eleanor isn’t actually his intended soulmate). By the end of the episode, Eleanor realizes that she needs to back off sometimes and even gives him a card that says “Fork off Eleanor” for him to use when she gets to be too much. She wants to still be his friend, even if they aren’t really soulmates. She then sends him out into the middle of the lake in a boat that he doesn’t know how to row (because he said earlier that his fantasy of paradise was to sit in a boat with a bottle of wine and read French poetry).

We also got some backstory on Tahani. While she is locked in at her place, she encounters the neighborhood manual that lists everyone and where they fall in terms of number of points they earned in life to get them there. She is horrified to learn that she was 321 out of 322 people. We get several flashbacks to her as a child and young adult. She just could never measure up to her older sister, Camilla. Her parents were rather nasty to her, which clearly affected her (and it also explains her personality now and why she’s trying to be so fantastic at everything). I kind of wanted to smack her parents when they said her that $5.6 million was a public embarrassment in charity fundraising. I really get why she was so big on flaunting how much she raised for charity when she was telling Eleanor about her life a few episodes ago. This also lends to my theory that everyone in this neighborhood has some flaw that means they really shouldn’t be there. But maybe that’s okay and they can kind of create their own version of the “good place” that works for them?

In the end, the sinkhole repairs itself and it appears that life is going to go back to the way it should be in the neighborhood. But Michael warns Eleanor that all is not well. He has no idea what caused the sinkhole (she’s got a theory) or what fixed it (she’s kind of got an idea on that, too) but he wants to figure it out. So he’s going to enlist her help to sort out just what’s been going wonky in his little slice of paradise. Well, that’s a big hiccup in Eleanor’s “stay under the radar” plan.

I really liked this episode. I thought it did well balancing advancing the story forward on what’s going on with the neighborhood while continuing to peel back the layers of the characters we are coming to know in the afterlife. It is nice that Chidi has faults, too (other than just being a crappy writer). I do think he’s leaning too much on his ‘ethical obligation” to help Eleanor. I would like to know more about what drew him to the ethics field and why he is so driven to uphold those ideals, even in death. I also would like to learn a lot more about Michael. Whom did he apprentice for and why now was he allowed to create his own neighborhood? There are some other characters we will probably see more of as well. I would be okay if they cut down a little on Jason and Tahani but that’s probably just personal preference. It’s nothing against the actors, but the characters are better in small doses. I think the sooner Tahani accepts that she doesn’t have to be perfect, the less annoying she’s going to be.