Sunday, August 20, 2017

Final Season Post Mortem: “Orphan Black”

Well Clone Club, it’s been a little over a week since “Orphan Black” aired its final episode and boy was it a hell of a ride. From the start, this show has always blown me away with the storytelling and the technical effort it took to put many of the scenes together. If you don’t know, “Orphan Black” followed a group of women who discovered they were clones and as time progressed, we saw them learn about their history and fight tooth and nail for their autonomy. For BBC America, the ratings weren’t huge but given it was a co-production with Canada and the UK, I’m glad it made it the 5 seasons we got. And in this day and age, getting that many seasons is a blessing, even for a cable show.

The breakout star of this little, quirky show is of course leading lady Tatiana Maslaney who has only garnered one Emmy for her incredible work portraying so many of the Leda sisters. The caliber of her acting was so high that I often had to remind myself when watching the show that she was all of the clones and they weren’t played by different actresses. She was just that good. I’m going to miss seeing the lives of all of these women going forward but I am beyond excited to see where Tatiana’s career goes from here.

Much like with “Grimm” (which I covered a few months ago), the writers came into this season knowing it was the end and therefore tried to answer a lot of the lingering questions the clones and the viewers had. I think on some fronts they were successful and on others they fell a little flat. We got the final takedown of Neolution, the creepy science movement behind their creation in the first place and it was pretty spectacular. Seeing Helena stab Virginia Coady in the throat while in labor was pretty epic and fitting for the murderess turned lovable meathead. And Sarah went very Mrs. S and took out P.T. Westmorland with an oxygen canister to the face. I also loved seeing Sarah help Helena through delivering her babies. To see where these two women started in season 1 as adversaries to where they ended up was beautiful. The one thing they never really fully explained (at least to my satisfaction) is why Kira is the way she is. They sort of explained her rapid healing abilities, attributing it to some gene mutation. But they never 3explained how she could be so in tune with all of the Ledas. Why could she eel their emotions and sense when they were dead? That’s the one loose end I wish they’d definitively cleared up.

I will say throughout the final season, there were characters I wanted to see again that we didn’t, like Kal (Kira’s dad). I realize it was all down to scheduling conflicts, what with him being on Game of Thrones and everything, but even a mention of him would have been nice. Given that this show is not shy about killing people, I wasn’t surprised when we lost a lot of characters. But the one that hit the hardest was of course, Mrs. S. There was always the possibility of losing her and maybe it was needed for Sarah to complete this journey on her own but it was so heartbreaking to see her go. The only consolation was that she took Ferdinand with her.

I will say it is a testament to the writers that the final episode had me on the edge of my seat the whole episode, even though taking down Neolution was over pretty quickly in the episode. The rest of the episode showed us the sisters settling back into their normal lives or at least trying to figure out what that meant for them now that they were truly free of their creators. I’ll be honest, given how all of the other seasons have ended, I wouldn’t have put it past the writers to make this a dream sequence or have something nefarious pop up at the very end. But it didn’t and our sisters were so settled in their lives together. Cosima and Delphine went off to cure the rest of the Leda clones (all 274 of them) while Donnie and Allison continued their suburban life with Helena and her baby boys (whom she named Donnie and Arthur—which was really beautiful and touching as well) in the garage/guest house. And Sarah was learning to be a mother on her own without Mrs. S. It was truly wonderful to see all of them thriving after the level of trauma they’ve all endured for the last five seasons.

Overall, I thought this was a really strong way to end this wonderful series about strong women and how being together made them better. I loved how the men who were on their side weren’t afraid of their strength and it didn’t make them seem like they weren’t “real” men either. I really am going to miss watching these characters grow and thrive, but I’m glad the creative team was able to go out on their own terms. It’s always better when they are given a chance to know it’s the end and they can prepare for it that way. Just getting cancelled on a giant cliffhanger is so damn frustrating as a viewer and I suspect for the writers and cast, it can be equally as frustrating. And aside from some amazing storylines that really made you think about all kinds of important issues, I have found several new actors to follow, which isn’t a bad thing. I will follow Tatiana’s career with rapt attention as well as try to keep tabs on Jordan Gavaris. So now I must say farewell to this brilliant little Canadian show. The only good thing I can say is, thank goodness for the DVD boxsets so a trip down Clone Club memory lane isn’t that far off if I ever need to revisit these characters.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.22: "This is Us"

“In this family, we don’t hide mistakes. We look at them, feel shame, and never talk about them again.”
-Jessica

The penultimate episode of this season of “Fresh off the Boat” took another interesting spin on an aspect of the lives of the real-life Huangs. The real-life Eddie Huang’s parents live in a tricked-out mansion in a gated Orlando community, and now it looks like their television counterparts may be making the same move. Since this is a rather traditional comedy, though, I’m not sure if the move will stick as it did for the real-life Huangs. The Huangs have very strict life plans, and up until now, the plans have served them well. In this episode, however, several situations present themselves simultaneously to tempt them to change those plans. By the end of the episode, plans have changed, and I’m sure we’ll see soon enough whether or not making those changes was a good idea.

In the beginning of the episode, Louis and Jessica are pretty satisfied with their lives. Eddie has just graduated from middle school, Cattleman’s Ranch is doing well, and Jessica has just been asked to try and sell a mansion in a fancy gated community. They truly believe they are living the American dream. The cracks start to form in that illusion early on, though. We learn that the Huangs rent their house, and their landlord is annoying. Louis doesn’t want to pay the extra $100 a month for Grandma to live in their house, so they hide her in the closet when he stops by. Later, Louis talks to Marvin as Marvin is doing some yard work. Louis tells Marvin that he wishes he could do his own yardwork, but his landlord is crazy and gets upset if even one dandelion has been picked.

Meanwhile, Evan joins Jessica as she goes to meet the person who owns the crazy mansion she’s going to sell. Evan talks to his daughter, who is wearing a blazer that Evan thinks is pretty nifty. She explains it’s not a debate team blazer, it’s a private school blazer. St. Orlando’s Prep, specifically. Evan thinks this school, where you get to wear a blazer all the time, sounds amazing. He doesn’t feel challenged by his public school, even with all the extra work Jessica has found for him to do. When he asks Jessica to go to St. Orlando’s, Jessica takes Evan into the garage and shows him the family’s life plans. Basically, she’s got a vision board for everyone. Emery is destined to marry Michelle Kwan or someone equivalent. If Eddie just stays out of jail, that will do for him. Evan, however, has the destiny of becoming Doctor-President. Paying an arm and a leg for private school, when public school is adequate and Jessica’s discipline is more than adequate, just doesn’t make sense.

Jessica and Evan take a meeting with the headmaster of St. Orlando’s. At first, Jessica is skeptical, but the headmaster is confident that he can easily convince Jessica of the benefits of private school. He focuses on what St. Orlando’s graduates have achieved, like how many of them have gone to Ivy League schools or become astronauts. I really wish Jessica had been able to stand her ground longer on this. I am a big supporter of public schools. Our public schools need very involved parents like Jessica supporting them, not abandoning them. Anyway, Jessica is indeed convinced, but she’s not so happy to find out it isn’t as simple as just saying she’ll pay tuition. And it’s not a la carte, either (Jessica didn’t want to pay for gym class). There’s an application process that requires recommendations, and an interview of Evan, too.

In the B story of the episode (or C story, maybe?). Emery took some video of the middle school graduation (the valedictorian used a Boyz 2 Men quote in his speech, which is definitely authentic mid-90s graduation material), and Eddie and his friends see him editing it on the computer he’s borrowed from the AV Club for the summer. He’s putting in fun Pop-Up Video style captions, and the boys think that’s pretty cool. They start putting in their own, kind of mean but mostly funny pop-up captions, like the fact that Trent is a Sparrow Scout. Later, most of the boys are chilling in lawn chairs outside talking about how they’re going to work out and be so ripped by the beginning of high school. Dave runs up to the rest of the group, panicked because his stepbrother now has the video that they captioned. They’re going to be the laughingstocks of their high school even before the first day.

Like Jessica, Louis faces his own “stick to the life plan” crisis in this episode. He takes a meeting at Cattleman’s with Marvin and Marvin’s good friend, who happens to be none other than Michael Bolton. Michael Bolton is jealous of all the money Kenny Rogers has made in the restaurant business, and he wants a piece of the action. He offers to buy a share of Cattleman’s (Marvin thinks this could provide the liquidity Louis needs to buy his house), but Louis declines, because it goes against the life plan, and the life plan has served the Huangs well thus far. When he gets home, Louis finds Jessica and Evan looking at the life plan boards (because they had been debating whether or not to update Evan’s for private school). The conversation gets awkward, because Jessica is trying to hide the fact that she’s contemplating a major deviation from the life plan in sending Evan to private school. She’s not ready to tell Louis about it yet, which doesn’t quite make sense to me.

Jessica throws her usual enthusiasm behind getting Evan accepted into St. Orlando’s. She fights Evan’s current school over his grades. Then she tries to get a recommendation from the guy whose house she’s selling, but he’ll only do it if she lowers her commission. Next, she tries Deirdre, whose only price is a fresh manicure. It turns out that’s a price Jessica is willing to pay, so she’s got a recommendation now. In the interview, Evan is his usual intelligent, charming self. When a large envelope arrives from St. Orlando, they think Evan has it in the bag. To their dismay, however, Evan was not accepted. The rejection letter comes with some nifty “My Child Almost Got into St. Orlando’s” stickers, though. Jessica marches over to Deirdre’s house and accuses Deirdre of not using a strong enough signature on the recommendation letter. Deirdre explains that private schools judge an applicant’s whole family, and word among Orlando’s elite is that the Huangs are “renters who work in the service industry.” Jessica is determined to make this right.

Louis has an especially frustrating encounter with his landlord, who wants to charge for driveway damage and is upset that Louis picked ten dandelions to make wishes. Louis goes to Marvin’s office, where Michael Bolton happens to be picking out a new toothbrush, and says he agrees to take Michael Bolton on as a partner. He then goes home and tells Jessica about the opportunity and that he thinks they should take it. Jessica is all-in, but with a twist. She wants to use the money to buy the mansion she’s been trying to sell. She tells the current owner that if his wife can get Evan into St. Orlando’s, they’ll buy the house. Making such a big move gives Louis and Jessica a little pause, but they want what they think is best for Evan.

Meanwhile, Eddie and his friends try and figure out how to get the graduation tape back from Dave’s stepbrother. Dave wants to poison his stepbrother, but thankfully the rest of the group puts this in the bad idea file. Eddie decides he’s going to talk to the stepbrother, Tyler, young man to young man, and remind him what it was like to be a freshman in high school. Eddie goes into the house and is just starting to have this conversation when one of the other boys throws a rock through Tyler’s window. Eddie grabs the tape, and they all run. On the way back to Eddie’s house, they all crow about how great high school is going to be now. Everything changes when they see the rest of the Huangs packing things up for the big move. Eddie’s not going to be going to high school with his friends after all.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Doctor Who 10.12: "The Doctor Falls"

“Like smart phones, sewage, and Donald Trump, some things are just inevitable.”
-The Doctor

As one would expect, given this was written by Steven Moffat, there was a lot going on in the tenth season finale of “Doctor Who.” This was an apparent finale for companion Bill, and the penultimate episode for both Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi and head writer Moffat. Both will return (and pass over the reigns to Jodie Whittacker and Chris Chibnall respectively) in this year’s Christmas special. I will say, though, that for the most part, the episode’s 90 minutes was used well. There were lots of emotional moments for the Doctor, Bill, Missy, Nardole, and the John Simm version of the Master. Yep, that’s right, we’ve got two regenerations of the Master in one episode, and it’s a fascinating contrast. If this is the last we see of the character (which is a distinct possibility), it was a fitting sendoff. It was also a fitting sendoff for Bill, although that sendoff was a bit too similar to Clara’s sendoff, which happened only one season ago, for my taste.

This episode was very much a continuation of the previous episode. The Doctor, Missy, Nardole, and Bill are all on a ship that is being taken over by the Cybermen, and we’ve just learned that the John SImm version of the Master is behind it all. Most of the action takes place on level 507 of the ship, where a bunch of kids are being kept safe from Cybermen in a rather idyllic pastoral setting. It’s idyllic during the day, at least. At night, the adults have to keep the prototype Cybermen who are hung up like scarecrows from attacking the kids. Nardole pilots a ship carrying the rest of the gang from the Hellish, industrial hospital level up to the level with the kids. The Doctor has altered the Cybermen’s programming, so they think that Time Lords are humans too, now. Everybody has skin in the game, and I think the Master especially doesn’t like it.

Bill goes on an especially interesting journey in this episode, and while the ending feels a little perfunctory, it was ultimately satisfying. It’s pretty clear, at least, that Bill’s not coming back any time soon, and she gets to have awesome adventures with a hot (watery) chick. Bill is most definitely a Cyberman (Cyber-person?) at the beginning of this episode, but she’s not aware of it. She’s been relegated to a barn on floor 507 so that she doesn’t scare the children, and she can’t figure out why. Eventually, she looks in a mirror and realizes the truth. She has, by some sort of miracle (that will be explained at the end of the episode, retained her sense of self and identity, but physically, she’s a Cyberman. As the episode progresses, she eventually admits that she can feel the Cyberman taking over. It’s getting harder to hold on to herself.

The most interesting person in the episode, surprisingly, was Missy. It was really hard to tell where her loyalties would ultimately lie. On the one hand, the Master is literally another version of herself. On the other hand, she has a long history with the Doctor, and he has really been working with her to teach her some sense of morality. She has also demonstrated regret for what she’s done in the past. In this episode, while she does try to ingratiate herself to the Master, she also helps the Doctor when it counts, playing an instrumental role in getting the group up to level 507 in the first place. Ultimately, she decides she wants to stand with the Doctor, although she doesn’t end up getting a chance to act on that (more on that in a bit). Missy and the Master have a kind of really weird sexual tension. I think the intent behind it was to show how self-absorbed the Master (in all his/her incarnations) is. Instead, it kind of reads as an older, more experienced female incarnation of the Master needing and seeking the approval of her less experienced, downright cruel male predecessor. I’m hoping the immanent changing of the guard, especially since we’ll have a female Doctor, will help address the myriad gender issues of the Moffat era of the show. As for her previous incarnation, the Master doesn’t hear the sound of drums anymore. Without the touch of crazy, he’s just plain cruel.

Nardole finds himself mostly interacting with the locals. He especially gets along with a woman named Hazron and a girl named Alit. The Cybermen are rapidly evolving, and they really want to start assimilating floor 507, and there are very limited options for how to proceed. The TARDIS itself is near the very top of the ship, where time moves slower than at the bottom thanks to the nearby black hole. By the time the group could reach the TARDIS, the Cybermen would have thousands of years to evolve and plan how to assimilate everyone. Instead, the Doctor wants Nardole to take everyone five years above to the next agriculture level and try to make a life there. Nardole eventually agrees, and they all escape while the Doctor creates lots of explosions as he kills as many Cybermen as he can (with help from Bill, of course). It was an interesting choice of exit for Nardole, for sure.

Both Missy and the Master also make an exit. It seems rather permanent, but with “Doctor Who,” anything is possible, so I imagine that if Chris Chibnall wants to bring an incarnation of the Master back at some point, he’ll figure out a way. Missy and the Master’s plan is to get to the Master’s TARDIS. The Master was stranded on this ship when his TARDIS broke down, but Missy has just the spare part he needs. Before they take the elevator to the Master’s TARDIS, though, Missy goes to give him a hug. There’s more than meets the eye to this, though. She literally stabs him in the back. It’s not over between them, though. Missy gives a great speech about how she’s going to go stand with the doctor, but with his last breaths before he regenerates into her, the Master makes sure that will never happen. He shoots her with what looks like his sonic screwdriver, and he tells her the setting is high enough that she won’t regenerate. Rest in Peace, Missy.

Bill also gets a nice send-off, although it’s a bit deux ex machina. Just as Bill is about to give up, Heather, her watery pilot love interest from the beginning of the season, appears. Because Heather gave Bill some of her tears, she always knows where Bill is. She turns Bill into a fellow watery creature, saying it’s just another kind of living. At least Bill isn’t a Cyber(person) anymore. They decide to go on intergalactic adventures together, but before they leave to go gallivanting around, Bill (temporarily) saves the Doctor with more of her tears. The Doctor regains consciousness in the TARDIS, which is in a very wintery, frozen area. He can tell he’s starting to regenerate, and he’s not happy about it. Like the Tenth Doctor, he’s not ready to go. People really ragged on Ten for that, so I’m not sure why the creative team is going to that well again. Anyway, the wintery landscape happens to be where the First Doctor regenerated, too. And One appears himself, played by David Bradley, who also played him in the movie about the beginnings of the show created for the 50th Anniversary. Clearly he’s going to have some things to teach Twelve about accepting regeneration when they return for the Christmas Special.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.10: “And the Wrath of Chaos’

“In one single act, you have destroyed everything we have worked for.”
- Jenkins

We’ve reached the end of another season with our wacky crew of Librarians. Coming into this episode I was a little worried for Flynn’s life and Eve’s allegiance. Let’s see if my fears were borne out! Unfortunately, at least on the Eve front it looks like I’m going to be sorely disappointed. We find her meeting with the head of DOSA. Eve agrees to give the government the Library and all the artifacts but only if they let the Librarians go. When she gets back to the Library she says that DOSA was trying to turn her but she got some intelligence off of them and sends the rest of the team off to investigate. Knowing something is off, Flynn stays back. It doesn’t take Jake, Cassie and Ezekiel long to realize that things are off and they try to head back.

It's going to be hard for them to get back to the Library when Eve has disabled the back door and she is marching DOSA in through the front door while Flynn and Jenkins watch. Flynn naturally freaks out but Jenkins reminds him that their duty is to protect the Library and the artifacts. So, our lead Librarian goes off to try and protect the items he’s collected over the years while Jenkins tries to buy him some time. He confronts Eve and the head of DOSA as they bust in to take stuff away. He gets turned to stone by Medusa’s head and later undone so Eve can try to explain what she’s done. He isn’t buying it (although the way he was going on, in the infection of his voice, I thought he might be in on it and this is just some giant ploy to get the government back for taking other artifacts). Anyway, Flynn tells the rest of the gang to follow Jenkins to wherever the artifacts are being stored while he continues to sneak about the Library and snatch back as many artifacts as he can. It’s quite comical with him in a full suit of armor that turns him invisible, slipping soup cans into cases. Meanwhile, Eve brings up the Egyptian God of Chaos. The head of DOSA says they have the sarcophagus in storage and it’s under strict security. Eve is skeptical so DOSA lady takes her to see it.

Jake, Cassie and Ezekiel slip into a truck bound for storage land and find that the government has created its own version of the Library, creepy! The team finds Jenkins easily enough (all while marveling at the security measures in place). They try to unlock the box Jenkins is locked in but it takes them realizing that DOSA knows how smart they are to realize they need to use the wrong answer to unlock it. Back at the docks, Eve gets head DOSA lady to open the container with the sarcophagus. Eve acts like she’s convinced it’s all safe and walks off, leaving her former mentor to open the damn thing and get infected by the god.

Things get a little hairy when Eve realizes the god has taken control of her mentor and is going to use a bomb to blow up the library. When the rest of the team gets back, she explains that she and Flynn were working together to find a way to get the god to the Library so they could take him out. As we see, Flynn uses a trail of artifacts to lead the god into the heart of the Library where the DOSA goons set off the bomb. But it does what Flynn wants. It traps him in there and allows him time to start doing what he needs to do to sacrifice himself to stop the evil deity. I have to say, I did like the little nod to the first film when Flynn was looking at a painting of a much younger him with the Spear of Destiny.

Not surprising that the rest of the team isn’t very keen on this idea. They manage to break through the rubble but Flynn has already started using the artifact to trap all the escaping evil. But it appears our gang isn’t without options. Thanks to the magic bestowed by the Monkey King, Jake can give the god a human soul. Cassie gives him a mind and Ezekiel tosses in a love potion to give him a heart. Somehow this combines and turns him human so they use him for the rest of the sacrifice. To be honest I’m not sure how I felt about that being the solution. I’ve kind of felt for most of the season (and last) that the team gels better without Flynn and this would have been a way to write him off in a good way. Going out the way he would have wanted.

The rest of the team then decides to only use magic as a last resort going forward because as Eve said, the Library chose them for their ability to know when to use magic and when not to. I think that’s a good thing to do going forward. Flynn starts to prattle on about an old mission when the clipping book brings up a new problem to solve and the trio just starts going into investigatory mode. They really have found their balance working together and it shows. Flynn and Eve seem to be in a good place, too in their relationship. Eve recognizes that Flynn is trying to adapt to working with others and that it will take time.

Overall, I’m kind of lukewarm on the finale. It was fun in spots but not the outcome I’d been hoping for. I was ready to see Jenkins and the trio and Eve tackle the world’s magical problems without Flynn. He had his time to shine. Let the others have their spotlight now.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

MTVP So Cal Summer 2016: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend 1.17: "Why is Josh in a Bad Mood?"

“Because he’s always buzzing around you. He’s like this sexy Italian fly, and you’re like this old meatball in an alley.”
-Paula

I’ll admit, I’m quite conflicted about this particular episode of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” I’ve been a pretty consistent fan of Greg and Rebecca, to the point where knowing what is going to happen early in season 2 has made me nervous to keep watching my favorite show (no worries, once I’m done with these catch-up recaps, my reviews of all season 2 episodes will be coming at you in late summer). I also especially love two of the songs in this episode because they are adorable but edgy at the same time and kind of fit my overall “cutesy sadistic” or “candy coated macabre” sensibility. The episode also, however, highlights how dysfunctional Greg and Rebecca truly are. I would have loved to have seen them grow and work on their issues together (and when I first watched the show last summer I insisted they absolutely needed to), but rewatching it now, I see that they behave so immaturely in this episode (and in the next, come to think of it), that I totally get why it didn’t ultimately work out. Personal growth, yay!

Greg and Rebecca are finally sleeping together (a lot), and it has numerous implications for them and their circle of friends and acquaintances. As Greg said they would, they have spent three days doing pretty much nothing but have sex with occasional breaks for Chinese food. Eventually, it’s time to break out of the “Sex Cocoon” as Rebecca calls it and try to get back to real life. They both have to go to work, and that’s when the problems start. For Rebecca, the main problem is Paula. Paula, of course, is overly invested in Rebecca’s love life. We learn that without Josh or a similar love interest to obsess over, Paula is terrified that they won’t have anything in common and Rebecca won’t want to be her friend anymore. Rebecca is determined to disabuse Paula of this notion, so when she learns that Paula is going to be participating in a pie baking contest, she goes all-out trying to help her, including trying to incorporate a caper like they used to get into when Rebecca was pursuing Josh.

Paula also guesses that Rebecca is sleeping with someone, and throughout the episode, she keeps grilling Rebecca about who it might be. She compiles a list of possibilities and everything. She assures Rebecca that she’s fine with her sleeping with anyone but Greg. Since Greg is the person Rebecca is sleeping with, this is obviously a problem. While I have serious problems with Paula’s Josh-love and the beyond stalker-ish lengths she’s gone to try and bring him and Rebecca together, she does have a sensible list of reasons why dating Greg isn’t a good idea. She points out that he’s a boozehound and that he’s self-loathing, among other things. When I first watched “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” I was so enchanted by Santino Fontana (pun not really intended, even if he did play the role of the Prince in Roger and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” on Broadway, that I was completely willing to overlook Greg’s less than stellar qualities. He’s adorable, but he’s still rather immature, and that’s not going to help Rebecca grow.

Greg is generally happy to be having so much sex with Rebecca, but he’s clearly still rather unsure in the relationship. He wants to keep things casual for a while, and Hector encourages him in this. Hector encourages Greg that Women have the power in a relationship before sex, and men have the power after sex. He wants Greg to take advantage of that power. Specifically, he really wants Greg to go on a double date with him, because the girl he’s seeing has a cousin coming in from out of town. When Rebecca tries to schedule a legit date with Greg, he mentions he already has plans. This throws Rebecca for a loop, and she makes up a lie that she has multiple dates in the next week, too. They’re both desperately trying to play it cool, even though they don’t want to. Although I never take my own advice on this. Like Rebecca and Greg, I play it seriously cool to my own detriment.

Josh learns about Rebecca and Greg’s new relationship (or whatever) when he sees them flirting at Home Base. It’s Heather who has to connect the dots for him. Josh finds himself uncharacteristically upset by this turn of events. He needs to go to the dojo to blow off some steam, and he starts ignoring Valencia even more than usual. Valencia, for her part, is really angling for a proposal. Helping Josh’s sister with her wedding really has her wanting one of her own. We see her putting together gift bags and roping Josh into helping, too. This sub-plot makes me thing there are two things going on regarding Josh’s interest in Rebecca. First, as has always been the case, Josh has been enjoying the attention Rebecca provided. Rebecca would compliment him and build him up, while Valencia usually just has criticism. Second, Valencia clearly wants to up the commitment factor, and Josh is scared. If Valencia wasn’t so obviously angling for marriage, I wonder if Josh might have been content with her for a while longer.

There are three songs in this episode, and each are great in their own way. First, there’s “I Gave You a UTI.” Before this song, I wouldn’t have thought that a song about a UTI could be charming, but Santino Fontana manages it. Rebecca gets a UTI, and Greg decides this means he’s great at sex (even though Rebecca patiently tries to explain that quantity more than quality of sex is what causes a UTI), so he joyfully sings about it. Rebecca’s reaction is part of what makes it work, too. She thinks it’s weird, but with her smile, you can see she finds it at least a bit charming. Then, there’s Josh’s “Angry Mad” song while he works out at the dojo. This is mostly notable for Vincent Rodriguez’s impressive marital arts work (it’s all him – no stuntperson). Finally, we get my favorite song of the second half of the season “Oh my God I think I Like You.” It perfectly captures that moment when you realize you might actually have real feelings for someone (and it’s sung by Rebecca, in reference to Greg).

Anyway, everything comes to a head at the pie contest. Rebecca helped Paula sneak into her rival’s kitchen, but they discover that her “secret ingredient” is just unsalted butter. Paula makes her best pecan pie, and Rebecca helps her present it to the judges. Darryl, who is a judge at the contest, loves the pie, but before the competition ends, Rebecca passes out. She hadn’t gone to the doctor for her UTI (she was determined to handle it with just cranberry pills and painkillers), and the infection spread to her kidneys. Rebecca ends up in the hospital, and both Greg and Josh rush to her bedside. Notably, Greg is there because Rebecca texted him, and Josh is there because Paula called him. Of course, it comes out that Rebecca and Greg have been sleeping together. In the hospital is not the best time for a truth bomb, but Rebecca has no choice, unfortunately.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.09: “And the Fatal Separation”

“I’ve had a great run, boys. But it’s time for to say goodbye to the Library and this dimension forever.”
- Charlene

We are in the penultimate episode of the season, folks! As a creepy Asian collector gets a map from some guy who doesn’t talk (supposedly to the lost land of Shangri-La), we find that Jake is already there studying from the Monkey King. He’s been there for two months but he’s learned everything he can (minus magic because Jake is still very anti-magic). It’s interesting, he’s got a very different fighting style from Eliot Spencer but I’d say it’s a little similar to Lindsay from Angel. Very interesting. Unfortunately, while he puts up a good fight when the collector and his ninjas show up, Jake gets hit with a knock-out dart and falls into the river (going over the falls).

Back at the Library, Jenkins has rediscovered the chamber of memory (it’s a bunch of candles linked to everyone with a connection to the library). Eve’s candle is super bright and has a long way to go. But the reason Jenkins summoned Flynn there was to show him that Charlene is still alive. Yay! Oh, and Flynn’s candle is nearly burned out. When it goes out, the person dies and becomes a memory (hence the name of the room). But that also tie sin with Flynn realizing that he’s going to have to give up his life to save the library.

While Flynn is contemplating his end, Cassie is stressing over learning to control her new gift (or at least the new ways in which it works). Eve is confident she can do it and has faith that when the time is right, Cassie will know what to do. That time may be sooner rather than later because Jake comes flying through the back door and reports on what went down in Shangri-La. Flynn knows the collector (they’ve gone head to head previously). Also, the Monkey King having to rebuild a bit of the sacred city may have been Flynn’s fault when he was securing the spear of destiny (which I suspect is a slightly different version from the one being sought on Legends of Tomorrow). Anyway, they need to a plan to get back to the city and the staff (which controls the magic in the city (whether it’s good or evil). Whoever holds said staff at sundown controls the magic. At first, the plan is going well. Cassie and Ezekiel go in posing as land pirates offering up something Flynn beat the guy to previously. Cassie impresses him with her knowledge of other people in the business and then things go a little wonky when he brings up Ezekiel. The guy thinks our resident master thief was great. He never met him but heard his voice at a party once. So, Ezekiel is gonna have to keep his trap shut for the rest of the episode if they want the plan to work. Then again, it would help if the rest of the team hadn’t gotten knocked out by more blow darts and a possessed Monkey King.

Things get even more bizarre when Flynn and Jake break out of their prison after waking up and find Charlene in one of the cages. But she isn’t really a prisoner. She’s been hiding in the collector’s possession hoping the Egyptian god wouldn’t think to look for her there. But now, she’s going to go back to the Library and sever her connection to protect everyone. She can’t very well be used to unlock pure evil if she’s not a Guardian anymore. But with Eve missing and the Staff still in the collector’s possession, she agrees to help the boys out one more time for old time’s sake. And Cassie and Ezekiel manage to slip onto the train on which Eve has been loaded. I hope they’re nearby when Eve’s former boss (and mentor) drops the “I’m the head of DOSA and you (Eve) are a sleeper agent” bomb on our favorite Guardian.

Eve’s former boss goes on and on about how it was all a set up to get Eve close to Flynn so they could have someone in the Library because the government views the Library as a terrorist threat. Are they forgetting that Eve got an invitation to the Library just like our newest Librarians? Anyway, thanks to being able to sort of use her new powers, Cassie is able to get Ezekiel past the guard and in to rescue Eve. I just hope that Eve is still on our side. Meanwhile, while Jake is trying to undo the spell put on the Monkey King, Charlene and Flynn head back to the throne room but the collector has the staff and is acting all haughty, like he’s already won.

Ultimately, Flynn, Charlene and Jake are able to save the staff and Shangri-La. Jake is even able to save the Monkey King’s soul (though he gets some magic tattoos for his trouble and is kind of pissed about it). I suspect Eve hasn’t said anything to anyone about being a sleeper agent (which worries me going into the finale). She’s been part of the team since day 1 of the show and I can’t imagine her betraying them. And as we say goodbye to Charlene, we discover that Jenkins wasn’t in love with King Arthur’s bride, but Charlene (who we are to assume is in love with Judson). And now that she’s leaving this plane of existence, I expect her to reunite with him. It’s a very moving goodbye (especially between Charlene and Flynn). Before she goes, Charlene whispers something in Eve’s ear and I really want to know what it was! Does Charlene know the truth? What’s going on?! We end with Eve walking into the chamber of memories and watching as Charlene’s candle goes out. Maybe it’s just the lighting in the room but Eve looks a little sinister there. Gulp!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.21: "Pie vs. Cake"

“You know I’d love a sibling team-up. It’d be like my favorite TV show. “Sister Sister.” Except brothers.”
-Emery

“Pie vs. Cake” combined two rather interesting plots that don’t seem to have much to do with each other, other than examining the dynamics between particular members of the Huang family. Jessica has to confront some things about herself when her mini-me, Evan, becomes better than her at arguing. Eddie and Emery try to work together to win a comic book contest, despite their very different sensibilities and work ethics. The plot with Jessica and Evan was more developed, and I really did appreciate how it moved Jessica’s character forward. Now since this is a fairly traditional half hour comedy, Jessica could be back to her “win at all cost” self in the next episode, but for this half hour, it felt like real growth. Jessica had to realize that she can still be good at things, even if someone else is even better. She also had to realize that it wasn’t okay to sabotage her kids for the sake of staying the best. It really was a good episode for Jessica.

The episode opens at the local discount department store, where Jessica is determined to return some of Louis’ very used socks for cash. It seems like the impossible – I figure I’d be lucky to get store credit in such an obvious scam situation. Jessica, however, holds herself to a higher standard. She harasses the poor clerk, Roger (who is played by “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” favorite Tom Lenk) until she gives him the cash. She even hid the fact that she had a receipt for the socks to give herself a bigger challenge. Evan proudly puts the receipt in an album of other receipts that represent Jessica’s “precious victories.” At school the next day, Evan is introduced to an even better way to emulate his mom and make her proud. A group of kids in blazers enter the cafeteria, and he at first assumes they’re private school kids. When he finds out they’re on the debate team and what that means, he’s enthralled.

Meanwhile, Eddie finds Emery diligently drawing a comic. Emery explains that he wants to enter a contest where the winner has their comic placed in comic book stores around the country for free. Eddie things working for free is lame, so he’s not interested. At least he’s not interested until Grandma Huang points out how much money can be made in comics, using her beloved Garfield as an example. This intrigues Eddie, since he’s all about the Benjamins, so he offers to partner up with Emery on a comic for the competition. Emery, of course, thinks this is a fantastic idea, because it will be just like his favorite TV, show “Sister Sister,” just with brothers instead. He even draws a cute “Yes!” speech bubble to formally accept Eddie’s offer.

When Evan asks Jessica for permission to join the debate team, she is thrilled, but she can’t let Evan have it too easy. She has to debate herself first, listing out the pros and cons of Evan being on the team. Of course she lets him join, since she was on the debate team herself in school. She helps Evan practice for his tryout, having him give his speech in front of an army of Beanie Babies. Speaking of, is anybody interested in buying some Beanie Babies? There are a couple tubs of them in my parents’ attic that I’m sure they’d love to get rid of (they keep threatening to bring them to my apartment). In my defense, I was 12 and 13 years old in 1996. Prime Beanie Baby age. Later, the family eats dinner at Cattleman’s Ranch, and they are trying to choose between pie and cake for dessert. Jessica wants pie, and Evan wants cake. They both give impassioned debate speeches to support their position, and Evan wins by reminding people of happy occasions associated with cake, like birthdays. He wraps up his speech with, “If you choose life, choose cake,” to wild applause from the rest of the Cattleman’s patrons.

Eddie and Emery start working on their collaboration. To say they have different taste and creative styles would be an understatement. The superheroes Emery has drawn are called “Nice Man” and “The Empathizer,” while Eddie has basically just written a list of ‘Yo Mamma jokes. Eddie convinces Emery that they should each draw up ideas for ten superheroes and see if there’s one they can agree on. When Emery goes to show Eddie his ideas, Eddie is just eating Twizzlers and watching his friend Trent play video games. He hasn’t come up with any ideas yet. Emery gets upset and accuses Eddie of trying to make him do all the work. Which is kind of true. He even quickly draws up a new character called “Lazy Boy” to make his point. It’s Grandma Huang who brings the boys back together. She recoils in horror at Eddie’s drawing of “Spaghetti Dog” (a dog who looks vaguely Garfield-ish and likes spaghetti instead of lasagna) and implores Eddie to learn to work with his brother. Eddie makes amends, and the boys start truly trying to come up with an idea for their comic.

Jessica hears Evan on the phone bragging to one of his friends about winning the dessert debate, so she takes him to the store to prove she’s still got it. She wants to try to return the family phone, which was purchased five years prior at a Radio Shack in DC. There’s no way Roger should accept the return, and at first it seems as if Jessica has actually crossed the line where Roger won’t help her anymore. Evan comes to the rescue, giving an impassioned speech about the importance of helping mothers, and Roger accepts the phone. Jessica feels more defeated. Louis finds her sitting at the kitchen table in the dark because Evan wanted the lights off and she didn’t think she could argue with him anymore. Jessica tells Louis she doesn’t think she has anything left to teach Evan, and she didn’t think that moment would come so soon.

Louis offers a sympathetic ear to Jessica, but she already has a plan for how she is going to regain her pride. She is going to challenge Evan to another argument, and he is going to win. She sits at the kitchen table with two vegetables in front of her, ready to argue with Evan about which is best. When Evan arrives home, however, he’s devastated. He’s been told he can’t participate in the debate team. Suddenly, Jessica sees how she can be “needed” by her son again. She marches Evan right back to the school and into the debate class. The teacher says that Evan is indeed an excellent debater, but the debate team is only open to fifth grades. Jessica uses expert debate tactics to argue why younger kids should be included, which crescendos with her quoting Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” The kids are super impressed, and Evan gets a spot on the team. The triumphant duo arrive home to celebrate their victory, and Evan and Emery have a new (Stan Lee) approved idea for their comic. “Persuader and Blazer Boy.”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.08: “And The Eternal Question”

“I don’t like vampires!”
- Jake

Spontaneous human combustion is the name of the game this week. We see a guy doing quite well during a golf tournament. Well, until he bursts into flame. So the team is going to check it out. Though, Cassie says she needs to go visit a doctor in New York who might have information. And Flynn and Eve are off on a different case (a clue left by Charlene for Eve). Jake and Ezekiel go to talk to the golfer’s widow and she explains that her husband had stage 4 cancer but then they went a holistic spa and they cured him. She goes to get the brochure when Ezekiel pulls the curtains to give her more light and she bursts into flame, too. Vampires!!

In New York, Cassie learns that her tumor has gotten too large that she can’t put off surgery any longer. But she’s not going to have surgery to remove it. She just wanted a timeline. But the doctor says she doesn’t have any more time. I’m wondering what they are going to do with her health now. She temporarily hides her fear under a bubbly personality for Jake and Ezekiel while she tries to ask Jenkins out on a date. I found that really odd. I mean, they have kind of a friend, or even a father-daughter vibe going on but a romantic one is just weird. He’s way too old for her!

But there isn’t really time to worry about the squicky factor of that particular pairing because the trio of Librarians heads off to the holistic spa to snoop around. Cassie talks to the caretaker’s daughter about the plants and surrounding soil (she seems interested in learning all she can). But she’s also upset by the false hope that people are given in this place. The guys are also kind of weirded out by the guy they are talking to as well. And about the time Jenkins calls with some crucial information about our combustible golfer and his wife, Jake and Ezekiel figure out the same thing: vampires! Semi-kind hearted, Spanish vampires.

And it turns out Flynn and Eve aren’t following some trail left by Charlene. Rather, Flynn has decided this is the most opportune time for he and Eve to have a romantic getaway in the Alaskan forests. She’s a little miffed he conned her but she kind of loves the gesture anyway. This seemed like an unnecessary subplot for this week’s episode. The rest of the plots are a lot stronger. While they enjoy the evening, Eve realizes they need to get back because the team needs them. Speaking of, Cassie and Jenkins manages to talk Ezekiel and Jake out of going back to the spa crosses and stakes blazing. They need to figure out what’s going on before they take action. There’s also a nice call back to the third Librarian movie where Flynn fell for a vampire (Stana Katic if I remember correctly). Cassie calls Jenkins out on the fact that Flynn fell for an immortal. But Jenkins explains that long ago he pledged his heart to another woman (even though she didn’t choose him … um Gwenivere?) and so he can’t be with anyone else.

Back at the spa, the caretaker explains everything that they know. They came from Spain a while ago and this land has protected them. They are able to walk in sunlight but only on the grounds. They aren’t aware of why guests would be combusting because they don’t feed on the guests (at least not enough to turn them). But as Ezekiel and Jake go browsing the grounds to follow the golfer’s routine, they spot a sketchy locked door and bust in to find some curious mixtures. And then one of the employees comes in and basically spills the beans. He and one of the other vampires (the son or maybe the daughter) have been working on a formula to allow them to walk in sunlight off the grounds. But it isn’t just so they can enjoy the scenery outside, it’s to take over the freaking world!

Cassie gets an offer to be turned into a vampire by the daughter (I now think it is the son who is plotting with the other employee) and then Jake and Ezekiel fill Cassie in. But when Cassie goes to confront the daughter, things take a turn for the dangerous. She insists on speaking to her mother but when they get inside, they find Ezekiel and Jake standing over the mother vampire’s ashes. Then all the boys bust in and grab our guys like snacks. Oh, and Jenkins (having found Cassie’s doctor’s card on the floor) learns that she’s dying and a lot sooner than they all realized.

Thanks to her rapport with the daughter, Cassie manages to convince her brother to at least hear her out about the secret lab. Unfortunately, he leaves orders with his guys to kill Jake and Ezekiel. I have to admit, our guys held their own until Jenkins shows up and is a total badass. Love me some sword wielding Jenkins! Elsewhere in the spa, Cassie figures out at the it is the water that is protecting the vampires, not the rocks. And then a massive sibling fight breaks out and the daughter ends up killing her brother. Just in time for Cassie to pass out in Jenkins’ arms. I’m thinking she’s getting that brain surgery whether she likes it or not. Which may affect her abilities or it may not (given the amount of magic she’s been exposed to). I also liked the sort of flirtation Cassie had with the vampire chick. It was slightly reminiscent of Flynn.

Cassie makes it through the surgery and her gift is even still intact (although it appears to be amplified and altered a bit). But hey, that will give the show some new ways to go about showing her abilities in the final two episodes. And at the close of the episode, she goes to thank the vampire chick for helping her see she was being foolish about the things she’d been focusing on and they share a sweet kiss. I kind of hope we see the vampire again. Because Cassie could use a little love in her life!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

#iZombie 3.13: "Looking for Mr. Goodbrain Part 2"

“If we’re going to survive, we might have to do a few things that can’t be undone. If I scratch you, you’d better be damn sure whose side you’re on.”
-Chase

Once again the creative team behind “iZombie” pulled off a finale that left me wondering where the show was going next year and sure it would be someplace interesting. And yet again, whoever is in charge of the music cues was on point. One of my very favorite moment of “iZombie” overall was in the second season finale when a bunch of zombies were munching on the “real” Rob Thomas’ brain while singing Matchbox Twenty’s “Unwell.” This year’s music moments didn’t quite top that, but they were still pretty darn clever. This episode was just jam packed with twists and turns and things that will most definitely have consequences next season. D-Day is upon us, and now that everyone knows zombies exist, it is going to be time to see how the reaction plays out. Will humans be content to let the zombies live peacefully as long as they mostly stay in Seattle, or will our ugliest impulses (which have been quite prevalent for the past couple years, I think) reign?

The episode begins in the aftermath of the house explosion that ended the previous episode. Liv, Peyton, and Ravi are watching the news coverage of the event, and Liv is clearly devastated (as you’d expect, considering her two main romantic interests of the moment were both there). Just as everyone is feeling especially desperate, Major and Justin show up at the door. They survived because they were outside, but the rest of their squad and Natalie did not. Justin asks where Liv was, so Liv has to come clean about the whole sleeping with Chase Graves thing. At least the has the class to take him into another room to deliver the news. He doesn’t accept the being on the brain of someone who liked hookups excuse, and he storms out.

Later at the morgue, Liv and Ravi are working on the explosion victims, trying to piece bodies back together. Babineaux stops by with new information on the Katty Kupps case. Patrice, Tatum Wexler’s roommate, was on the flight from Paris that Katty suspected was the source of Seattle’s Aleutian flu outbreak. She was supposed to be bringing Chase Graves a new pet dog. The team starts speculating about whether a collar meant to dispense citronella to stop barking could have actually dispensed Aleutian flu. Liv confirms she has seen the dog (and the collar) plus a napkin with Katty’s phone number on it in Chase’s hotel room. When pressed on why she was in Chase’s hotel room in the first place, she has to admit that she slept with him. Meanwhile, at the Scratching Post, a bunch of zombies on choreographer blue brain are dancing to “Dream Lover,” which was a pretty great visual. One of Blaine’s minions shows up and says the feds interrupted the drop of Russian brains they were counting on. Blaine, understandably, is not happy about this development.

At Filmore Graves, Blaine tries to do a deal with Chase. He wants to provide all of the brains needed by Filmore Graves employees. Chase declines, saying he has the brain situation taken care of. Furthermore, since whole brains, blue or otherwise (as opposed to brain mush) can be a distraction to his soldiers, he is banning his employees from patronizing the Scratching Post. That just adds insult to injury for poor Blaine. As a very frustrated Blaine leaves Chase’s office, Major enters. Major wants back in at Filmore Graves. Meaning he wants Chase to scratch and re-zombify him. Chase warns Major of the consequences. D-Day is coming, and Major will need to make some tough choices about which side he’s on. Major says there’s no question he’s on the side of the zombies, and he really does want to be scratched.

While Chase is taking meetings, Liv and Babineaux are hovering outside his house. They are planning to do some recon to determine if he had something to do with the Aleutian flu outbreak. Specifically, they want to test the dog collar for flu residue. Liv drinks some Max Rager and jumps over the wall, and she lands right in Chase’s pool. Chase has just arrived home, and he sees this happen. He gives Liv a robe to wear while he runs her clothes through the dryer, and she and Babineaux sit on his couch for a chat. They tell Chase about all of the circumstantial evidence that connects him to the Aleutian flu outbreak. He gets rather snarky with them, which I appreciated, asking them if they want to watch some TV while Liv’s clothes dry. It’s way better than how robotic he’s been in some of the earlier episodes. Meanwhile, since Chase’s directive, the Scratching post is not doing so well anymore. Only one guy is dancing, and Blaine is so disgusted he turns the music off.

At City Hall, a woman from the CDC tells city staff, including Peyton, that the Aleutian flu out break could be really, really bad. It’s a slow, painful death. Vaccine’s are on the way, however, and she recommends everybody gets vaccinated. Our gang sits around the office, talking about the vaccine. Babineaux apparently is really paranoid about diseases and wants to get his as soon as possible. He’d be even happier if Peyton would tell them where the city is storing them so he could get his early. Liv ends up having a vision of Filmore Graves employee Carey Gold (who I believe is related to Tatum Wexler’s roommate Patrice) standing over Katty, who is in a car trunk, surprised Katty is still alive. The gang now thinks Carey is behind all the recent zombie murdering. And they’d be right. At Filmore Graves, Chase, who has also figured this out, calls Carey into his office and accuses her of mutiny. She admits it, and she says she did it because the whole “zombie island” idea will get them all killed. She’s probably right about that, actually. Putting all the zombies in one concentrated area would just be asking for somebody to destroy them all in one go. Chase calls for security, but the guards are all loyal to Carey. Chase ends up shooting Carey and all the guards just as Liv and Babineaux arrive. He ends up confirming to them what happened.

The vaccination stations are finally open, and of course, Johnny Frost uses his media personality status to get one of the first doses. Meanwhile, Babineaux goes back to the precinct, where he is confronted by Dale. Dale picked up one of Babineaux’s Cis while she was working on intercepting something related to Russia (presumably Blaine’s botched brain drop), and this CI has connections to Major and Blaine, too. It’s that guy Don-E brought into the business earlier in the season. In the interrogation room, Babineaux realizes it’s time to bring Dale into the fold, so he hits the CI and makes him go full-on zombie mode to prove to Dale that there are zombies among us. At the morgue, Ravi tells Liv that he found some open vials of tainted Utopium among Katty’s effects. It’s not enough for a cure, but the residue might be valuable. He has Liv turn the release valve on his mad scientist set-up, and that triggers a vision for Liv. She sees Patrice attacking Katty outside of Tatum and Patrice’s house.

Liv sneaks into Tatum and Patrice’s house. On an abandoned cell phone, she sees text going back and forth about how it’s D-Day and zombies will never go hungry again. Liv’s cell phone battery is dead, so she uses the kitchen land line to call Peyton and warn her that something is wrong with the Aleutian flu vaccines. Peyton tells Liv that the vaccines are being stored at a nearby elementary school. Tatum enters the kitchen, and she explains to Liv how she was zombified. They hug, but then Patrice tries to attack Liv. Liv knocks out both Patrice and Tatum, then she goes to the school, where Filmore Graves mercs are tainting the Aleutian flu vaccine with zombie blood. Liv calls Babineaux, who is in line at the vaccination station with Dale, to warn him. Babineaux has to go outside to get reception, but by the time Liv can deliver the news, it’s too late for Dale. As Babineaux rushes back in to save her, she’s already gotten the shot.

Liv heads to the local news station, where she confronts Johnny Frost about how he’s a zombie now, and she gets him to make an announcement about the vaccines being tainted and that zombies aren’t inherently bad. People flee the vaccine centers and head for the gun shops, but we also see some more tender scenes of new zombie life. Babineaux helps Dale dye her hair. The Scratching Post is hopping again. Chase and some of his mercs show up at the news station. He has his own video that he wants to broadcast. He says Seattle’s zombies will stay put in Seattle if the rest of the country donates sufficient brains (upon the death of the donors) to keep them well fed. It’s a bit of blackmail, for sure, but it’s not exactly a bad deal. We see Peyton inform Mayor Baraccus of recent events while he’s reading a book to a group of school children. It was a scene that was a bit too much of an on-the-nose invocation of 9/11 for my taste, personally. We also see a bunch of humans try to attack one of the new Filmore Graves operated zombie feeding stations, just to get mowed down by Filmore Graves mercs.

At the end of the episode, Liv goes back to the morgue, where Ravi informs her that he has used the Utopium residue to develop what he believes is the first vaccine for zombism. He takes it himself, and Liv is incredulous that he’d use himself as a guinea pig when there’s no good way to test the vaccine. Ravi does have a test in mind. He wants Liv to scratch him. If he doesn’t become a zombie, then the vaccine works. I would think he’d want to try this test in a few weeks after his body has built up immunity, but nope. He wants to do it right now. Liv doesn’t want that responsibility, but Ravi says it’s not her responsibility, because he’s asking for it. He wants her to deliver the scratch because they started this journey together. Eventually Liv agrees. As we fade to black, Ravi makes zombie noises, and Liv tells him, “don’t be a dick.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MTVP So Cal Summer 2016: "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" 1.16: "Josh's Sister is Getting Married!"

“I drink anywhere. But I do my study drinkin’ here.”
-Greg

As many episodes of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” are, “Josh’s Sister is Getting Married!” is an emotional roller coaster. Many of our favorite characters have been continually making bad decisions, and finally, for once, some of them start trying to change their behavior. Of course it’s not going to stick, but I think the trying is important. Rebecca especially gets burned by trying to change her behavior. She wants to be a positive person in the lives of Valencia and the Chans, but thanks to Paula’s continued meddling (and Rebecca not having a serious conversation with Paula soon enough), it all blows up in her face. Musically, I think this is one of the weaker episodes of the season, but Greg’s song in this episode is kind of my theme song for life, so it’s not all bad by any means. That song in particular doesn’t exactly showcase Santino Fontana’s fantastic voice, but it expresses a sentiment I think many of us wanna-be high achievers can relate to.

The episode begins not long after the last one left off, in the aftermath of Josh learning that Rebecca ordered and received a bunch of photographs of him. As Josh looks through the pictures, Rebecca admits that she did have feelings for him, but her trip to New York has inspired her to break old patterns, and she has no intention of interfering with his relationship with Valencia. She even offers to let Josh take the pictures, or she’s going to throw them out. At first Josh declines, but some of them are from good angles, so of course he takes them. Rebecca slips and says that is “the last of the Josh Chan stuff” and has to quickly deny that she has more stuff. In reality, she’s got a whole cupboard of random (and kinda creepy) Josh stuff.

Meanwhile, Greg is still taking extension classes to try and work towards his MBA, and he’s studying for a test at a bar (not Home Base). He starts telling the bartender about how he got into the “Harvard of the South,” which is what he considers Emory, although the bartender rightfully counters that Vanderbilt is usually considered the Harvard of the South. Rebecca shows up at the bar, too, and she and Greg banter a bit before Rebecca decides again that she needs to break old patterns and goes home. When we next see Greg, he’s at school waiting to get his test back, and he is once again bragging to a classmate about the whole “Harvard of the South” thing. To Greg’s chagrin, he gets a C- on the test. His instructor says that she knows Greg is smart, but it is as if he decided not to try. This leads into Greg’s bit song of the episode, “I Could if I Wanted To.” I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of my theme song, and it’s got a great 90’s grunge rock groove. As I already mentioned, it doesn’t especially show off Santino Fontana’s voice, but I still dig it, probably just because I identify with it so strongly.

Meanwhile, at Rebecca’s house, Rebecca and Paula are clearing out the rest of Rebecca’s Josh stuff. Or, more accurately, Rebecca is trying to throw out her Josh stuff and Paula is objecting to getting rid of every single item. She really is a terrible, terrible influence. Rebecca and Paula are still bickering when Josh’s mom and sisters stop by. One of his sisters, Jayma, just got engaged, and she wants Rebecca to be a bridesmaid. Rebecca wants to turn over a new leaf and distance herself from the Chans, so she suggests Valencia should be a bridesmaid, considering she’s Josh’s girlfriend and all. Jayma says that both Rebecca and Valencia can be bridesmaids. This isn’t what Paula had in mind, but she’s thrilled Rachel is agreeing to be in the wedding. Because that’s not creepy.

Greg goes to the grocery store to pick up some coffee for studying, and he meets a rather sad stock boy named Marty. Marty recognizes Greg from the unfortunate events that happened at Spider’s/Spiders/Spiders’ in the season’s second episode. Marty has a crush on another store employee named Ally, but he doesn’t think he has a chance with her. She moved to their store from being a manager at a whole Foods all because she has a crush on yet another employee named Brody, aka “Grocery Clerk with Half an Eyelid.” Apparently he’s really charismatic. Greg sees himself in Marty (it’s the whole going after a woman who is really interest in someone else thing), so he offers to help. With Greg’s prompting, Marty performs a song called “Clean Up on Aisle Four,” which is replete with grocery store puns, for Ally. At first she’s smitten, but then a jealous Brody starts doing cartwheels, and she’s all about him again.

Rebecca and the rest of the bridal party go dress shopping for Jayma’s wedding. Valencia, of course, is late (she’s got to make an entrance), and she walks in wearing full-on feather wings on her back. She claims she just came from a Hometown Hotties audition shoot. She tells Rebecca that normally she’d curb stomp her for kissing Josh, but she’s grateful to be in the wedding, so she’s giving her a pass this time. Rebecca is appreciative and says she can make the Chans love Valencia. She spends the rest of the dress shopping session deprecating herself (mostly about her figure) and building up Valencia. Later at the office, Paula wants an update on wedding prep. She really wants Rebecca’s permission to put something rashy (poison oak would be ideal) in Valencia’s dress, but Rebecca says no. Paula starts researching anyway. Paula eventually thinks she has a source for poison oak who has offered to throw in a few deer ticks for good measure. This is unforgiveable to me – I know people whose lives have been completely destroyed by Lyme, and even Valencia doesn’t deserve that. Rebecca half-heartedly tries to put a stop to it, but Paula won’t hear of it. Before she can object too strongly, Rebecca gets a “911” text from Jayma and rushes to the bridal shop. It turns out that her dress is done early, and Jayma wants to celebrate with her girls.

At the bridal shop, the ladies are all getting along really well. Valencia says she wants almost all of them to be in her bridal party, and Jayma says they don’t all think she’s heinous anymore. Then she asks Rebecca and Valencia to have her dress packed up. While Rebecca and Valencia are working on that task, they start talking about the pros and cons of their respective boob sizes. Rebecca decides to try on Jayma’s dress to make a point (that her boobs would look terrible in it), which leads to one of the iconic (but not one of my favorite) songs of the first season, “Heavy Boobs.” After Rebecca is finished, Valencia also tries on the dress, and on her, it looks perfect. She asks Rebecca to take a picture of her in the dress, and Rebecca agrees. Paula, meanwhile, has hacked Valencia’s phone and social media accounts, and when the photo shows up in Valencia’s photostream, Paula immediately posts it with some unflattering hashtags.

Valencia and Rebecca are just about finished having the dress packed up properly when Jayma and the other ladies show up furious. Jayma says that Valencia has ruined her wedding. Valencia makes the case that she was framed, because, among other things, her hashtags are always positive like #fitspo, not #hotterthanthebride. She immediately suspects Rebecca. At first, Rebecca doesn’t say anything, but then she bites the bullet and takes the blame, even though she did nothing wrong (because Paula’s cray cray). Rebecca is kicked out of the wedding party, and the Chans now love Valencia. Rebecca confronts Paula, who admits that she keeps pushing Rebecca and Josh because she thinks that without Josh, she and Rebecca won’t be friends anymore. Rebecca says that isn’t the case, and she really needs to make some changes.

Back at the grocery store, Greg decides to talk to Ally about Marty. She doesn’t like how he keeps pushing (he even tried skywriting) even though she has clearly turned him down. She thinks it makes Marty seem pathetic, and she wonders whether or not if he stopped his ridiculous pursuit, she might give him a chance. Greg then goes to Marty and suggests that maybe giving up on Ally is the best move. Later that evening, Rebecca shows up at Home Base to drink. Greg is working, they banter, and he makes her a gin and tonic. Rebecca asks Greg if he wants to get another drink once he’s off work, and he turns her down. He doesn’t want to be her second choice. Rebecca leaves, devastated. While Rebecca is sulking at home, Josh shows up to yell at her about Valencia. Rebecca counters that now his family actually loves Valencia, and then she kicks Josh out of her house. And she follows that up by throwing out “Channy Bear,” a teddy bear to which she taped a picture of Josh’s face. Rebecca goes back to Home Base, and she kisses Greg to make her point. At first, Greg tries to say no, but Rebecca assures him that he’s not second place, and this is about him, not Josh. Greg says that if they’re going to do this, it’s not going to be one night of regret. Basically, it’s got to be at least a three-day bang-fest. Rebecca agrees.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 3.20: "The Masters"

“There’s no winner in parenting. But if you see a gold wrestling belt in our closet that says, ‘Parent Mania Champion,” just know I had it made before this conversation.”
-Louis

Overall, “The Masters” was a solid episode of “Fresh off the Boat.” It had an entertaining plot that held my attention, it included commentary on where Asians fit in the world of sports, and we even got to see Louis and Jessica seriously discuss and compare their parenting philosophies. All of this is set up by Tiger Woods playing in the Masters golf tournament. This set up Jessica to first laud, then question her “tiger mom” parenting style, although by the end of the episode, she is of course once again convinced she is right. Jessica wouldn’t be Jessica otherwise. While Emery is kind of sidelined from the big parenting golf competition that ensues, I enjoyed his little side plot where he’s trying to spread the Gospel that Tiger Woods is actually half Asian. The twist at the end of that plot, while sad for Emery, was pretty genius, from a technical standpoint.

Anyway, as you’d expect, the episode opens with the Huang boys watching Tiger Woods compete in the Masters. They’re pretty excited because he is half Thai, and they always like to see Asians do well in sports. They don’t have a lot of pop culture heroes to look up to, so when an Asian comes along and makes news like Tiger did in the mid-90’s, it’s a big deal. The boys don’t want Jessica to know about Tiger Woods, because then she’ll make them all try to learn golf. She does this any time an Asian is famous for something in the United States. A very little Evan had to try and learn to be a newscaster when Jessica learned about Connie Chung, for instance. Evan almost instantly spills the beans to Jessica, however, and you can see the gears start to turn in her mind. This obviously earns Eddie’s wrath, since he doesn’t want to be pulled into another of Jessica’s tiger mom plots.

Emery seems the most enthusiastic about Tiger Woods. He really wants his classmates at school to know that Tiger is half Asian. It’s kind of a running joke throughout the episode that everybody thinks of him as just Black, and nobody realizes he has a Thai mother. Nobody wants to be bothered to listen to Emery, though, not even Eddie’s friends. One of them, for instance, is too busy picking a fight with another kid who has the same backpack. I can totally see this sort of thing happening back when I was in middle school (around the same time as the show takes place). Backpacks were a big deal, people! I sewed lots of cute buttons on mine so that they would be unique. Emery decides to see if he can get Reba to let him use the school PA system to make an announcement about Tiger Woods to the entire student body. He even gives her a folder of research that proves he’s half Thai. Reba thinks this is a story that could break wide open, so she eventually agrees to give Emery the mic. Unfortunately for Emery, once he finally starts his speech, all the kids are out in the school yard watching the aforementioned backpack fight. It’s a great speech, though, and a great twist that suddenly made that random detail of the backpack argument relevant.

Anyway, Jessica tells Louis that she sees herself in Earl. She believes she is the one pushing their kids to greatness. Louis, understandably, is kind of insulted by this, because Jessica is implying that she really does most of the parenting and Louis’ contribution won’t really matter that much in the long run because he is too soft. Louis explains that he has a more laidback parenting philosophy because his father was extremely tough/strict with him, and he wants something different for his kids. I find this interesting considering the “real” Louis Huang that the real Eddie writes about in his memoir was, according to Eddie, extremely tough and basically physically abusive to his sons. Although even if TV show Louis is different from his real-life counterpart, I think it was an interesting point for TV Louis to bring up in this context. After stewing on it for a while, Louis has a solution to this argument with Jessica. He wants to settle it with a golf tournament. He’s going to train one kid, and Jessica is going to train another, and each will use the same golf pro for help, and they are going to see which kid does best at nine holes of golf. They decide not to include Emery because he’s good at everything automatically, so Jessica takes Evan and Louis takes Eddie.

Jessica does her thing and tries to push Evan to the limit. She’s super picky about the golf pro they’re going to work with (she ditches the first one, Phil, because she doesn’t like names that can be shortened, plus he calls her “Jess”). She makes him get up at 5:00 AM to practice before school. Evan is a “true beginner” to golf, as the golf pro puts it, and he doesn’t really take to it well. Jessica gets really concerned about her prospects in this competition when she sees Eddie crushing it at the driving range. Eddie is taking well to Louis’ laid back style, and he loves that they go for doughnuts before every practice. Jessica pretty much has exactly the reaction to this that you’d expect. She wants to win at all costs, even the cost of the dignity of her sons, so she asks Louis if they can switch who they are training. Louis, convinced that his method will work on any of their kids agrees to it. Eddie is understandably kind of hurt by the switch, and under Jessica’s strict style, his golfing gets worse and worse. Louis, meanwhile, takes Evan to a minigolf course, and Evan actually starts enjoying golf and developing some skills.

This turn of events causes Jessica to have a bit of a crisis of parenting confidence. To make her feel better, Louis offers to cancel the parenting challenge and just play a fun family golf game where there is no keeping score. Jessica agrees, but she sulks the whole time. She goes off to get a platter of junk food for the boys (a sign of just how upset she is), and she runs into a woman who looks like she’s Kultida Woods. Jessica asks “Kultida” more about her parenting philosophy and how she feels like her permissiveness has benefitted Tiger. She responds that she isn’t permissive at all. She was very strict, and that lays the foundation. This makes Jessica feel better and like she hasn’t ruined her kids. She feels like she gave them the foundation to then succeed later when they’re able to use a little creativity. We find out later that this wasn’t actually Kultida at all, but Jessica doesn’t know that, so she ends the episode once again satisfied that she is right in all things.

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.07: “And the Curse of Cindy”

“It didn’t work on me because I’m so awesome? Advantage me!”
- Ezekiel

As if cults weren’t creepy enough in general, magic cults are even creepier. When we begin this week, a woman is sneaking onto the grounds of a hippy cult looking for her daughter. When she finds the girl (after some searching), a gong sounds and everyone gathers to see Cindy, the person they are all worshipping. A short time later, our team lands outside because the clipping book has alerted them to the cult activity. Thanks to Flynn and a little magic, they get on the premises and Ezekiel fills the team in on Cindy. She only goes by her first time, there are no known photographs (if you ask me based on what it looks like before she emerges from the house, she might not even be human) and all kinds of people follow her. They know there must be an artifact somewhere nearby (likely in the house) so they are going to have to find a way to get in. Lucky for the team, Flynn has managed to get himself chosen to be one of the house guests. It’s apparently like some weird, extra skeevy version of Big Brother or something. I can’t imagine this is going to end well.

Things just keep getting weirder as the rest of the team tries to investigate the situation. The girls split off from the guys and manage to get inside the house. We also see Cindy inside watching herself in a confessional video (again, much like Big Brother). She looks pretty sad while watching and I’m wondering if she was like a rejected contestant or something to have everyone adore her. The girls see Flynn giving a confessional but he’s gone by the time they manage to get into the booth (creepy). Also creepy is the giant statue of Cindy (I swear it looks like it was made out of paper Mache). Jake and Ezekiel notice a military truck and sneak into a bunker, only to be immediately chased out by DOSA. I’m guessing they went snooping around, too, and got whammied by whatever Cindy’s artifact is. No one is immune from this crazy chick!

So I may have been a little hasty in my assessment of no one being immune. Ezekiel and Stone get dragged before her Extreme Creepiness and Jake falls under her spell. But Ezekiel is fine. He’s not affected by her at all. Down in the kitchen, the girls run into the chef (a super famous one) who is all upset that Cindy wants from-a-box macaroni and cheese. Eve goes to deliver it and gets to take out a DOSA guy and drag both Jake and Flynn back to the Library (although they weren’t quick enough to keep Jake from spilling quite a few secrets about the library to Cindy). She’s worried now that the Librarians will mess with her plan. While we don’t yet know what that plan entails, we do know that her perfume is the key to making everyone love-drunk morons. Jenkins explains that back in the day, powerful practitioners would brew obsession potions to help with battle. He suspects that Ezekiel was immune because he is so in love and obsessed with himself. They still need to go back and find a pure sample of the perfume so Jenkins can make an antidote, but he mixes up a little something so there is less chance the rest of the gang will be affected by her magic. Once back on the scene, the girls sneak into the barn to find a giant missile being prepped for launch. Yeah, that’s some crazy stuff going on right there. I’m still waiting for Ezekiel to figure out who Cindy actually is.

The girls get locked in the freezer by the witch who is making the potion (sort of a stereotypical cackling old biddie but whatever). Meanwhile, Jenkins tries to break the spell on Flynn and Jake but they just start sort of hitting on and complimenting each other. Frankly, I’d have liked to see more of that. It could have been highly amusing. And while I felt most of this episode was lackluster, I have to admit, Ezekiel really got to shine near the back end of it. He sneaks into Cindy’s room and watches her get horribly voted off a Big Brother-esque show. He remembers her from it and he explains that what she’s after isn’t real. The people will turn on her eventually and he proves it by dousing a group of them with more potion so they are practically tearing her apart because they all want her. Cindy feels horrible for what she’s done (I really liked how Ezekiel was able to open up to her) and she insists they have to stop the missile launch. Unfortunately, she’s now changed the potion and turned everyone to love her. Well crap!

But with a little team work from our gang (including Jenkins showing up with the antidote), the missile is stopped and everyone is okay. We also learn that the God of Chaos had inhabited the woman we thought was a witch and he’s floated off to regenerate in his sarcophagus. As things calm down, Ezekiel tells Cindy that she’s got one friend (in him) and she should start from there. She gives him a big old kiss that leaves me a bit flustered before he plants a gentle one on her forehead and heads out. Back at the library, the gang ponders where the god’s sarcophagus may be. And Jake (rightly) points out that it wasn’t Ezekiel’s narcissism that kept him immune to the potion, it was because he already had feelings for Cindy from watching the show. Our little thief is loath to admit the truth but I have to agree with Jake on this one. Ezekiel doesn’t show feelings for others often but he does definitely have them. And as the episode comes to a close, we find that the sarcophagus is in the hands of DOSA. That can’t possible end in anything other than terror and hellfire.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doctor Who 10.11: “World Enough and Time”

“We had a pact, me and him. All those stars, we were going to explore them together. But then, he was too busy burning them.”
- The Doctor

Since I found out that John Simm was returning as the Master (and in this episode no less) I’ve been very much looking forward to this episode. I loved him as an adversary for the Doctor but I also liked that they were friends once upon a time. It gives their relationship such a deep history. Before we really dive in to the story of the week, we get our first sort of in media res moment of the Doctor landing the TARDIS and starting to regenerate!

Anyway, we pick up with Missy leading an adventure as a test from the Doctor. He wants to see if she can be good like him. They’ve found a 400-mile long ship trying to get away from the gravitational pull of a black hole. Quite pretty really (the black hole that is). Bill and Nardole are both quite miffed with the Doctor for sending them on this little trip seeing as neither of them trust Missy. She’s having a great time though needling them both about her connection to the Doctor. But as often is the case, things take a nasty turn when one of the ship’s occupants comes in and starts pointing a gun at everyone, demanding to know who is human. A mysterious “them” is coming up the lifts and that only happens if they detect human life signs. The guy thinks if he kills Bill they won’t come. The Doctor pops out of the TARDIS to try and diffuse the situation but Bill gets shot through the middle anyway, leaving a giant gaping hole right through her!

We jump back in time briefly to see the Doctor suggest his plan to let Missy run things (with him observing and keeping tabs) to Bill and Nardole. The Doctor kind of explains to Bill why Missy is so important to him. She’s his oldest friend in the universe and they had a pact when they were children (probably before the Master looked into the Void and went bonkers). Clearly, he misses that friendship and wants to find it again if possible. Bill asks the Doctor to promise that he won’t let Missy get her killed but he can’t promise that (on the premise that she’s human and easily breakable). Cut back to Bill being shot through the middle and some creepy thins step out of the lift and take her away, saying they can repair her. Given their mechanical-like movements and modulated voices, I don’t understand why the Doctor and Missy (at the very least) didn’t put it together that they were some sort of Cybermen.

Given the size of the ship (and some random nonsense about gravity) we learn that the top of the ship where the Doctor, Missy and Nardole reside moves slower timewise than the hospital where Bill finds herself. She’s sort of rescued by this creepy guy that kind of reminded me of a cross between Igor from Frankenstein and a Klingon (in look). But as Bill explores the hospital and finds all these “special” patients in pain, she begins to trust this guy. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting the twist regarding this character so I suppose kudos to Moffatt for that but otherwise, I just didn’t get why the Doctor didn’t figure it out sooner!

I did find it kind of disturbing that Bill kept seeing flashes of the Doctor telling her to wait for him (he managed to psychically send her a subconscious message but still, it kind of was jarring to see him just randomly pop up everywhere without warning. It was rather amusing to see Bill and her buddy watch the others at the end of the ship on the TV (it appeared frozen due to the difference in how fast time moved). Eventually, the Doctor, Missy and Nardole get into a lift and head to the other end of the ship. Bill keeps asking how long it will take for them to arrive and her buddy ends up taking her to the operating theater where she gets “converted”. Yeah, this just feels a lot like Dalek Clara from season 7. I mean, I get that Moffatt is running out of new ideas (which is one of the many reasons I’m looking forward to a new showrunner) but come on. I do have to say that the Cybermen aren’t very unique (but at least it wasn’t Daleks again).

By the time the rest of the gang arrives, Bill has already been turned into a Cyberman. The Doctor and Nardole go off and find the operating theater while Missy is left at the computer controls to try and figure out what’s going on. Bill’s creepy friend (who betrayed her) shows up and starts talking to Missy. She’s generally annoyed by his presence as she’s trying to work out what seems so familiar about the whole scenario. She assumed that the ship came from Earth but it turns out that was wrong. It’s from a planet much like Earth that she and the Doctor have (presumably) seen before and just as she figures it out, a Cyberman approaches the Doctor and Nardole. I believe this version of the Cybermen was from the original run of the show which explains the Doctor’s confusion as to why this unit looks brand new. And then, in a heartbreaking moment, he realizes that this unit is Bill. Oh, and the creepy guy turns out to be the Master. How he got there and how he knows Missy is a future regeneration (he says he’s worried about his future) is all very confusing and we better get answers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy he’s here and I guess I understand his point about wearing a disguise since he was the former Prime Minister of Britain (I suppose Bill is probably old enough to have remembered Harold Saxon). The look on the Doctor’s face when both versions of his frenemy pop out is a mix of surprise and shock. We are in for one hell of a finale episode.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Doctor Who 10.10: "The Eaters of Light"

Listen, you are all very, very angry. But really you’re just very scared.”
-The Doctor

The opening of the episode suggests that the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole will be going to a rather mysterious place. Specifically, we see two kids playing around the Devil’s Cairn in Scotland. They seem to be brother and sister. The sister wants to hear the music and the ghosts talking from inside the cairn, but her brother worries that if she does that, she’ll disappear, and he’ll get in trouble. Of course the kid starts hearing things and disappears. We then see the TARDIS appear in a similar location, but in the second century. Apparently Bill is really interested in the Roman Ninth Legion, and she wants to know what happened to them. She and the Doctor seem to have some sort of challenge related to this going on. Nardole is just annoyed that the Doctor is wasting time not watching Missy in the vault.

Bill goes off exploring, and she comes across a woman who seems to be saying prayers in remembrance of her family. Bill approaches her, but the woman screams and tries to attack Bill. Bill runs and runs until she falls through a trap, where she finally meets a Ninth Legion soldier. She’s shocked that they can actually understand each other (thanks to the TARDIS, of course). The soldier explains that a creature has wiped out almost the entire Ninth Legion, and he and a few other soldiers deserted. The other deserters are in a sort of safe house by the river, so that’s where they decide to go. The creature, which has kind of cool looking glowing tentacles, finds them, though, and tries to attack. The soldier sacrifices himself, and Bill ends up making it to the safe house, where the soldiers don’t seem to quite know what to do with her. It seems like kind of a threatening situation for Bill.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Nardole are doing their own exploring. They find the remains of most of the Ninth Legion, and the bodies seem to be in a very peculiar way, sort of as if dried out. Then they come upon some cairns, decide to take a look, and quickly find themselves surrounded by an army. The pair are held at knifepoint for quite some times, as the young Picts insist on waiting for their leader, a woman named Kar (the same woman Bill encountered earlier) to decide what to do. Kar is the “gatekeeper” for her tribe. She watches over the cairn and keeps bad things from coming out of it. The Doctor ends up going into the cairn, and he sees a light portal with a nasty looking creature in it. When he reemerges, it turns out that two whole days have passed. His and Nardole’s search for Bill just got a lot more difficult.

Bill tries to explain her soldier friends sacrifice to the remaining Ninth Legion. She says he was covered in a tar-like substance and died. She has a little bit of the tar on her, too, and she ends up passing out for two days because of it. When she regains consciousness, she starts getting along well with the Ninth Legion guys. One in particular takes a real liking to her, to the point where she has to let him know she’s gay. In one of the more entertaining scenes of this season, he’s not only cool with that, he thinks she’s limiting herself by only preferring one sex/gender. Apparently most Roman soldiers were a little less choosy! I just generally enjoyed the nonchalant way in which the discussion happened, after Bill thought it was going to be a big deal that she would have to explain carefully. She eventually convinces the guys that even though the situation looks really bad, the Doctor is the only person who might be able to help, and they need to find him.

The Doctor, meanwhile, gets more helpful information out of Kar. Gatekeepers like her and her predecessors are supposed to fight the “Eaters of Light” (the scary creatures everyone has been seeing) on a regular basis so that they don’t cross over into our dimension. Kar let one through deliberately, though, because she wanted to kill the Romans. And for the most part, she succeeded. The Doctor is not at all impressed, especially because now he has to figure out how to stop more Eaters of Light from crossing over and causing even more trouble. To make matters worse, the creature that has already crossing over is getting stronger, and it’s circling where Bill and her new friends are hiding.

Both the Doctor and Bill have to take leadership over their respective contingents. Bill has a plan for trying to get the remains of the Ninth Legion out of the caves. The Doctor has a plan to try and lure the Eater of Light back through the portal, but it has to be done before dawn, when the creature will reach its full strength. Bill and her Ninth Legion friends run into the creature while trying to get out of the caves, and there’s a little skirmish where one of the Legion is killed. The rest make it out, though, and the Doctor and the Picts are there to greet them. Kar and “Grandpa” (the oldest of the remaining Legion who is now their default leader even though he’s only eighteen) start arguing a bit, but the Doctor puts a stop to it. The Romans and the Picts have each deeply hurt each other, but their going to have to work together to save the world from being destroyed by the Eaters of Light.

The Picts basically throw a big party because the Eater of Light is drawn to sound. When the creature shows up, the Picts and the Legion hit it with these devices that poison the light it’s trying to eat. This drives it into the portal. That’s not the end of the Doctor’s plan, though. He realized that it’s the time difference between both sides of the portal that results in a Pict only having to enter the portal every few decades. He can protect the gate for much longer than any human. Kar’s not having this, though. Protecting the gate for as long as she can his her destiny. And this time, she’s going to have help. The entire Ninth Legion is going to join her. It turns out that so many people crossing the portal at once makes it unstable, though, and the cave where the portal is located starts to collapse. That’s why people still hear music around that particular cairn, including the little girl from the beginning of the episode (spoiler alert: she didn’t get stolen by the ghosts).

When our team gets back to the TARDIS, Nardole is dismayed to find out that Missy is on board. The Doctor has worked out a new arrangement. Missy is biolocked out of the TARDIS controls, so she can’t actually do much, but she can travel with them and perform maintenance on the TARDIS. The Doctor is happy with this arrangement, and Nardole clearly is not. Missy watched some of what happened on this latest adventure, but she’s struggling to understand it. The Doctor tells her she needs to learn to hear the beauty in music. We later see her listening to the Celtic music from the Picts’ party, and she’s crying. I think we’re supposed to believe that she is truly changing for the good.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer DVR Dump: The Librarians 3.06: “And the Trial of the Triangle”

“You are a gifted leader, Flynn, but you aren’t the only one with a gift.”
- Cassandra

This week, Flynn returns because he’s looking for the Eye of Ra. Supposedly, it can stem the flow of evil leaking into the world but it’s been lost and he doesn’t know where it is. While he’s frantically searching the library, the rest of the team nab him for an intervention. I have to admit, I totally agree with everything the rest of the team had to say about Flynn’s behavior and his demeanor. He’s dismissive, arrogant and doesn’t understand friendship. He brushes their concerns off, saying that he hasn’t told them everything because he thought they had more time to figure it out. But as they start to work out where the Eye might be, we see how the rest of the team actually works together as a cohesive unit, each person serving their purpose. We learn that the Eye was last seen in 1886 in the possession of a previous Librarian who died in the Bermuda Triangle. The clipping book helpfully shares an article from the next day about a Venezuelan plane going down in the same spot. Oh boy!

While Flynn is being kind of moody, the rest of the team is actually doing what they do best. Jenkins has built a miniature back door to get them back from the Triangle without an issue. And thanks to Cassie and Ezekiel, they will have a way to get in (magic tic tacs). Eve isn’t really pleased about using magic but it’s all they’ve got. Perhaps the most interesting find is Jake doing research on the Triangle and the ships that have gone missing. There have been 107 (well 108 with the one about to go) and they follow a pattern, in fact it matches a Lewis Carroll poem (The Walrus and the Carpenter). I like how they linked it in with poetry and the fact that Carroll is known for his trippy writing style. Unfortunately, when they get to the airport in Venezuela, they are on the wrong side of security. So Eve and Flynn create a distraction so the rest of the team can get their bags through (specifically the one with the mini back door). It actually gives Flynn and Eve a chance to get some things off their chests. He still loves her and wants her to see him as a hero again, rather than a screw up. It’s kind of sweet but I can still see the rest of the team’s point of view. Just as they head for the plane, they’ve got some unforeseen issues. One is a DOSA agent spotting them and then there is actually a plane full of people!

As the gang tries to figure out a way to get the people off the plane, Flynn is still acting like kind of an asshole so Eve drags him into the bathroom and ends up beating up on him a bit (so everyone obviously thinks they’re joining the mile high club) until he admits that all the bad things that have happened (magic coming back into the world, the ley lines being super charged and now evil being leaked into the world) were all on his watch and he thinks he has to stop it. He’s also seen what pure evil can do and he is somewhat disillusioned by it. But ultimately, Eve convinces him to help save the people on the plane. That’s a good thing since the rest of the team happens upon the fact that there aren’t pilots anymore. Ultimately, Flynn uses a stage trick to turn everyone into pigs (mentally) to get them off the plane. But because he’s still kind of reckless, he sends everyone off the plane and then stays so he can find the artifact he’s after. I suppose he did get the innocent people to safety, so he did what Eve wanted.

When Flynn first wakes up he’s still pretty cocky. He realizes that the Triangle is just a rabbit hole protecting the Eye of Ra. In order to get it, he needs to pass a test in the Rose Garden, against the Red Queen (who looks like Cassie). He has to answer four questions honestly or else the Red Knight (Jake) will kill him. And wouldn’t you know, the questions he has to answer are about the way he’s been treating his friends and loved ones. But at least he is able to be honest and in the end, he realizes that he’s put up these walls of confidence to hide how insecure and scared he still is facing all of this, even after being a Librarian for over a decade. As it turns out, the figure he thought was Jenkins is actually the Librarian who went missing with the Eye. He explains that in order to use the artifact, Flynn will have to willingly take a life. I suspect in the end, he will sacrifice himself (which I’ll be honest, while I really like Noah Wylie, I think he’s kind of outgrown the show or maybe the other way around and it would be better just to have the other Librarians running things). When he gets back to the library, he manages to send the rest of the people from the plane home and Cassie and Ezekiel find a way to send the DOSA agent back without any memory (they send him through thinking he’s a chicken). And he assures everyone that he’s going to be different now. He does make Jenkins promise not to tell anyone about the sacrifice that comes along with the Eye, though. At least not for now. I will be interested to see what happens when the rest of the team finds out. I mean, I know they’ve struggled with his moods but I suspect Eve does love him and losing him would be really hard for her (any Guardian really).