Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lucifer 3.10: “The Sin Bin”

“I’m telling you, Obi Wan Can’t See Me is Maggie’s only hope.”
- Lucifer

Welcome to the fall finale of “Lucifer”. Last week, our Devil finally met the Sinnerman. The one who took away his face and gave him back his wings. When last we saw, the Sinnerman had gouged out his own eyes to keep Lucifer form deducing his deepest desire. Something tells me that’s not going to stop Lucifer from trying to get what he wants!

In typical Lucifer fashion, our dear Devil thinks he can still get one up on the Sinnerman, even without eyes. Lt. Pierce however is running a tight ship. He suspects the killer wants to escape and he refuses to let that happen. Well, that theory gets tested when Chloe starts questioning the Sinnerman and his phone rings with video footage of an abducted woman. Lucifer thinks that they can use the Sinnerman to get them to the victim before she drowns but everyone else insists on following police procedure. So, thanks to the missing woman’s driver’s license photo, Chloe and Lucifer end up at a roller derby rink. I’m not much into sports but this one just seems stupid. They basically hit a dead end (as Lucifer predicts) until one of the other team members tells them the girl’s car is parked in a free lot. They find it and before Chloe can call in forensics, Lucifer tries to open the door and the car explodes.

With every other avenue shut down, Lucifer and Chloe devise a way to get the Sinnerman out of police custody to find the missing girl. It involves using Ella to distract Lt. Pierce and giving Dan a fake bomb (but he doesn’t know it’s fake). Poor Dan, he’s just having a weird day. He forgot to book the babysitter (who is dead) and then he and Trixie run into Charlotte at the coffee shop and Trixie thinks it is a good idea to hang out with Charlotte as her babysitter. That was just all kinds of weird if I’m being honest. I mean Trixie is adorable and often rather insightful and seeing both Dan and Charlotte squirm under her questioning was funny. But still, kind of a weird combo.

Chloe and Lucifer’s plan nearly works until they get in the bomb squad van and find Pierce in the driver seat. He’s not going to let them take off without him because he’s still convinced the Sinnerman is going to make an escape. But he stays true to his word and leads them to the girl. Chloe and Pierce are able to rescue her but by the time they get her to safety, Lucifer and the Sinnerman are gone. Sure, the guy probably has an accomplice but something tells me this disappearing act was all Lucifer. Just as they think that the victim can tell them what happened, she confesses that she used the Sinnerman to get the top spot on the derby team and that if she didn’t fake her own abduction, she’d get killed. Okay, I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

Lucifer has taken the Sinnerman to one of his palatial homes in the hills where our Devil intends on getting answers and also hopefully getting his wings clipped and his face back. But the Sinnerman is less than cooperative. Even after Maze works him over, he’s not talking. This gives Lucifer the stupid idea to kill the guy and fall from grace. Maze points out the idiocy of the idea, since you know, God will be super pissed about the whole situation. And then when Lucifer tries to do the deed, he ends up stalling. First, he’s distracted by the happy eyes he drew on the Sinnerman’s blindfold. On a side note, the eyes coupled with the Sinnerman’s expressions was pretty hilarious. And then he can’t decide how to kill the man. All the while, the team is trying to find him. Dan chips in with a list of real estate holdings from back when he was super jealous of Lucifer and Chloe pegs the one he’s at.

She and Pierce get to the house to find kind of a bizarre situation. The Sinnerman tells Lucifer that he wants to die and that it has to be Lucifer that does it. He doesn’t get to expound on the why of that need because Pierce bursts in and kills him. Lucifer is quite flummoxed by the whole thing and then things take a turn when Chloe ends up mad at him, too for not following her lead and going behind her back. I’m sure he’ll find a way to fix that relationship. He always does. We know they are totally endgame. The more interesting twist that I didn’t see coming even a little bit hits at the very end of the episode. Lucifer is looking through evidence and finds a photo of the Sinnerman as a child with a man’s beefy bicep around him with an interesting circle birthmark. Lucifer calls Pierce to Lux for a chat wherein Lucifer lays out his theory. The Sinnerman was the accomplice to someone else: Pierce. Lucifer has deduced that the mark is that of an immortal man cursed by God to walk the earth forever after committing the first sin. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Cain. Lucifer stabs him in the chest with a blade for good measure, just to prove he’s right. Pierce eventually gets up and joins Lucifer at the bar. My mind is racing now. I’m so confused. Does Pierce really want to hurt Lucifer? Are they going to team up? I’m assuming given that Peirce is immortal means he somehow had the power to mess with Lucifer? But why would he turn him back into an angel? What’s his motivation? Why do we have to wait so long for answers? Sure, the show comes back on New Year’s Day but we are flashing back five years in the plot to see when Lucifer first got to LA. I want to see what happens in the present!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lucifer 3.09: “The Sinnerman”

“This isn’t just another murder, it’s a message. For me.”
- Lucifer

After some entertaining detours, we are back on the case of finding out who took Lucifer’s devil face (and gave back his wings) and why! Lucifer has been granting favors to all sorts of people of late, including young Joey who wanted to be in the mob. Too bad that lands him in the morgue with two broken legs and two bullets to the chest. Lucifer and Chloe bring in the man that Lucifer introduced Joey to (with Charlotte in tow because she’s now a prosecutor which is all kinds of weird) and Lucifer uses his mojo to find out that their guy isn’t the killer. And just as hi alibi comes through; another body comes in. yet another of Lucifer’s former favor recipients has been murdered. She was from much longer ago so clearly whoever the killer is has a way of keeping tabs on all of Lucifer’s handouts. It makes you wonder how long this person has been around!

Thanks to Ella, they at least have his DNA and match it to a case out of Chicago (which if memory serves is where Lieutenant Pierce encountered the Sinnerman. So at least Chloe now believes this person is real. Lucifer is also acting rather reckless after the second body drops and ends up heading off alone to face the Sinnerman (who called him to no doubt lure him out). He really shouldn’t have gone off on his own. Sure, without Chloe he’s basically invulnerable but this guy also managed to knock out Lucifer and do things to trigger and suppress his angelic and demonic abilities!

Too bad both Maze and Amenediel aren’t available. Maze is back and was hoping to chill with Linda (her favorite gal pal) but Linda is preoccupied with spending time with Amenediel. That vibe I picked up n the last episode blossoms this week into a full on make out session. At least Linda also raised some interesting questions to both Lucifer and Amenediel about their powers. She wanted to know who decided which power they got and whether it was related to their personality. A worthwhile question indeed. I’m not sure how I feel about this new romantic relationship. I honestly liked the dichotomy of Maze and Amenediel and clearly, she is pissed that he’s moved on (and with someone that Maze cares about).

Lucifer ends up getting trapped by the Sinnerman in a walk-in freezer in a building that’s been abandoned for like a decade. That doesn’t stop Maze from tracking him down and forcing him to listen to what she has to say. She is really upset with the whole Linda and Amenediel thing and Lucifer (despite being self-centered and only thinking about getting out of the freezer to exact his revenge on the Sinnerman) gives her good advice. She needs to figure out what she really wants and act on it. So, she actually listens to him (after letting him out). She goes to see Linda later on and admits that it makes her upset seeing her best friend and exe together. She asks Linda not to “go there”. Too bad it’s probably already happened. That’s going to have some interesting fallout. I do hope that the three of them can be adults about the whole thing. It isn’t like Linda or Amenediel are doing it to hurt Maze. They’ve just found each other at a particular point in their lives where they need one another. Maze being a demon and all will probably react badly (either by throwing rocks at cars or giving Amenediel a pounding).

We do also get some rekindling of the Dan/Charlotte relationship when he finds her weeping in the men’s bathroom. See them I like. They had an interesting chemistry and bond and I want to see that reborn with the real Charlotte at the reins of her life. I still want Maze and Amenediel back together and for the love of all things holy, let Chloe know the truth soon! Show her the damn wings already man!

As the Devil continues on his revenge kick, Chloe uses Charlotte to lean on the mob guys in the hopes that they’ll do the leg work and find the Sinnerman for the police. There’s also a very awkward stakeout where Chloe admits she needed a personal day due to the anniversary of her dad’s on-duty death and Pierce admits the Sinnerman killed his brother. And then the bullets start flying. Luckily, they take the Sinnerman into custody alive. Lucifer wants his chance with the man to look him in the eyes and work his mojo to find out what the bad guy really wants. It appears, though, he won’t get that shot because while in police custody, the Sinnerman gets his hand on a knife or scalpel and gouges out his own eyes. How he did it without screaming bloody murder is beyond me but Lucifer is pissed!

I’m glad this episode brought us back to the main overarching plot of the season. I do wish we got some more answers rather than teases. We are likely going into the hiatus soon and all we know is the Sinnerman is blind now and that’s it. How Lucifer will get his answers is beyond me. And how can he trust them? From the promo for next week we know that Lucifer kidnaps the Sinnerman and under torture, many people tell you what you want to hear. Is he a demon? Is he another celestial being of some sort? He has to know the truth about Lucifer to give him back his wings. I just want answers! And for Chloe to finally see who he really is and accept him. No more of this random sort-of chemistry with Pierce. From the time they introduced Lucifer and Chloe as a possible couple, I’ve wanted that as the outcome. It’s time now, three seasons in, to give that a try. If it doesn’t work out, fine. But at least let them go for it with all the cards on the table.

The Good Place 2.07: “Derek”

“We’re not starting over, we’ve come too far. Our only options are to reboot either Janet or Derek.”
- Michael

This week’s episode showed quite a bit of growth for many of our characters which was a nice change. Janet’s new boyfriend Derek is giving Michael quite the headache. He pops up every time Janet is called for and he’s worried that will blow their cover. But Chidi won’t let him just kill Derek. So, to keep as few people in the know, Michael sends Tahani and Jason on a little getaway. They start off playing croquet and then Jason convinces her to play some weird drunken version of golf. And then, as they are walking and talking, he suggests they get married. Tahani is surprised by the proposal but after a little while, she agrees.

That’s going to cause some serious issues because Chidi and Eleanor now know that Janet made Derek to get over Jason (and they now know that Jason was married to Tahani). Eleanor feels a touch guilty about the whole thing given that Janet did this on Eleanor’s word to get a rebound guy. But she’s got her own secrets to deal with. She’s been watching the creepy sex tape of her and Chidi professing their love for one another but she hasn’t shared that news with him. She does have more pressing matters to attend to when Janet and Derek start going through a huge fight and Derek just starts appearing places without Janet and acting really weird. Also, not that it is really that important but he kind of looks like a young Timothy Omundson which made me kind of sad because he’s such a great character actor.

When Michael, Chidi and Tahani get their wedding invitations, they come to the agreement that they need to stop the wedding and break up Tahani and Jason so that maybe Janet won’t feel sad anymore and get rid of Derek. They bust up the weird little ceremony (I swear these two really don’t have anything in common and don’t really make sense together) and Eleanor explains about the marriage from the first version of the neighborhood. And then, Eleanor gets real with Janet. She admits that she didn’t realize Janet’s feelings for Jason were so deep and that her loss of him was such a heartbreak. She gets kind of emotional and says that Janet just needs to sit with the emotions for a while and then move on. It’s actually some decent advice which is strange coming from Eleanor. But hey, she is starting to become a better person. Or at least she’s trying. The wedding is definitely off but Jason doesn’t know how he feels about all of this. He’s got no memory (obviously) of being married to Janet and he still likes Tahani. It does seem like they will slowly start to get to know each other and see if they want to move forward after that. I fi had to pick, I’d almost rather have Jason with Janet because it’s just a funnier dynamic and Tahani is my least favorite of the cast. But, Janet is now equipped emotionally to let Derek go. It’s slightly awkward that she has to reabsorb her memories from him by making out with him. And for whatever reason she gave him wind chimes in lieu of penis.

After Janet goes off to hide Derek in a cargo crate in her void, Eleanor bites the bullet and comes clean to Chidi about the video. He’s not entirely surprised she kept it from him. He’s more shocked he was able to tell her “I love you” so easily. She goes on to say that she can’t understand how she could say it to him so easily back then either. When Chidi admits he doesn’t think he has those feelings for her now, she tries to cover the fact that she’s hurt by that by insisting she’s relieved that he doesn’t feel that way because she doesn’t either. He clearly wants to talk about the situation more (I do hope they eventually get to that point again. I think they do make a good couple), but Michael barges in and needs to talk to Eleanor. He wants to know how she can stick with the whole ethics lessons when the whole neighborhood was designed to throw things at her that she would normally have just given up with in life. She says that even when she was alive, she had a little voice in her head that would kind of tell her when she was doing bad things. Oh, so she did in fact have a conscience! She likes now that the voice is gone because she’s at least trying to be a better person and work on herself. This seems to help Michael but as they are talking, given the camera angle, you know someone is watching them and may now be hip to their plan.

Well folks, I really did enjoy this episode and it’s the last one for a while as the show goes on hiatus (thanks football and your stupid schedule). Now we won’t know who caught Michael collaborating with the humans and what that means for our core four until sometime in 2018. I’m still not sure if the end game of the season is going to be them actually getting into the real Good Place or not. I mean, if the show goes on for another season after this, I can’t imagine them being in the Good Place would be all that interesting. As much as I enjoy the show, I do question the writing more often than not of what will happen and if they are writing themselves into corners they can’t get out of. But for now, we will have to wait and see if Michael can get himself out of the hot seat and avoid letting Sean know that not only are they not on trial number two, but that he's been working against the rest of the demons in the neighborhood to try and get out of there so he doesn’t get retired!

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Good Place 2.06: "Janet and Michael"

“They keep their Janets in a neutral pocket dimension beneath the shapeless time void. It’s right next to accounting.”
-Michael

“Michael and Janet” was a bottle episode, so not much happened, but it was entertaining in the way that it really dug into the title characters and showed us some new things about both of them. It was interesting to see Michael and Janet’s relationship develop over the very long amount of time they’ve spent with each other (over 800 resets takes up a lot of time!). We also learn a lot more about how Janet works and what she thinks about things. I really enjoyed seeing how Michael and Janet first met and some of the highlights of their creating the OG version of the neighborhood together. It was also interesting to find out the true source of Janet’s glitching and everyone’s reaction to it. Overall, it was a fun little pause in the action, and I’m very interested to see where Janet’s latest actions take the gang next.

Janet has been glitching, and the consequences are serious (I think earthquakes and changing the fabric of reality is serious, at least). We open the episode with a flashback to how Michael and Janet first met. Much like the Doctor and his TARDIS, Michael stole his Janet. He needed an authentic Good Place Janet for his nefarious plan, and luckily, the Good Place architects are so trusting that they didn’t really secure their supply. Michael is able to steal her easily. He has to explain to Sean why a Bad Place Janet pretending to be good won’t do, though. He explains it through a demonstration where a Bad Place Janet completely melts from trying to be nice. Our Janet of course, is only too happy to help Michael build his neighborhood, even when he warns her it’s going to be a bit different from what she’s used to. Janet assures Michael that while she builds and operates the neighborhood, the design is all his.

In the present day, Michael gets Janet to find her manual (which is in her nose, apparently), and he starts running some diagnostics. She passes early tests with flying colors (including producing an ostrich steak impaled on a 40th birthday pencil). When Michael reads that trying to process information other than objective truth can harm a Janet, Michael worries that her glitching is all his fault. After all, when they first met, he lied about being a Good Place architect and about what they were going to be building. Janet reassures him that if Michael’s lying was the culprit, the glitching would have started much sooner. The cause of the glitching starts to become more clear when Tahani and Jason stop by wondering why Janet isn’t appearing for them. Jason wants to procure some jalapeno poppers for Tahani to try. This is the first Michael realizes that Tahani and Jason have been sleeping together. Janet says she’d be happy to produce some poppers once Michael is finishing his diagnostics. Then a really bad glitch happens – so bad that the room everyone is standing in disappears, and everything is just black.

Tahani and Jason leave, and Michael and Janet are left to contemplate the consequences of what just happened. It turns out that after 800-plus reboots, our Janet has gained the ability to lie. The problem is that her lying comes with earthquakes and other worse glitches. Michael puts together the pieces that it all stems from when Janet and Jason were married during her second reboot. There’s part of Janet that is still in love with Jason, and it has intensified with ever reboot. Every time Janet says she’s happy to help Jason and Tahani with something related to their relationship, glitches happen. Janet at first doesn’t want to believe this, but when she accepts it, she thinks there is only one solution. She wants Michael to kill her, and she even points him to the self-destruct section of the Janet manual. She’s convinced that if she’s killed, another Janet can take her place, and all will be well again.

We get a brief interruption from Chidi, who shows up at Michael’s old office covered in needles (Michael had encouraged Vicky’s latest torture idea to get her to go away and leave him to diagnose Janet). Michael basically just shoos him away. Janet again asks Michael to kill her. He grabs a paperclip and is ready to do the deed, but then we get a flashback to when they were first building the neighborhood. The place was full of pudding shops, but Michael didn’t think it was quite right. He also didn’t think Janet could help him make it right. Then he asks her to name something people think they like but is really just okay. When she replies with frozen yoghurt, Michael knows he has a winner. Janet is just happy he’s happy, regardless of whether or not this means that something just “okay” is going to be part of their neighborhood. In the present day, Michael tells Janet he can’t kill her because they’re friends. Furthermore, she’s his oldest, most loyal friend. Janet is flattered, but she still wants Michael to kill her.

Michael wants to use a different tactic. Since this is an emotional, human problem (even though Janet isn’t human), he wants to bring in a human to help. Specifically, Eleanor. Eleanor is a bit surprised at the whole story (and thinks it’s TMI), but she’s got good advice for Janet. She reminds Janet that she has all the knowledge in the universe and a bangin’ bod, so she should be able to recover from this Jason thing nicely. She just really needs to find a rebound guy. Janet takes this advice to heart, and she says she’s going to go to her void for a little while to figure things out. When she returns, we learn she has created a rebound boyfriend named Derek who is just as dumb (maybe even moreso) than Jason and is played by the guy who played Pimento on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Michael does not seem pleased by this turn of events at all, although Janet seems happy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

This Is Us 2.10: “Number Three”

“When I got back, I was off-balance. I was out of place in every place that I went. You’re going to find your balance, Randall and then you’re going to lose it and then you’re going to find it again. It’s the ride. You’re going to make a lot of choice and I’m not going to be around for all of them. But the choices you make are going to be spectacular because you are spectacular. Own it. Run with it.”
- Jack

Well, I was not expecting the ending this week’s episode but I probably should have. As the past two episodes have done, we get to see the same day in the past and present with Randall, with a few added flashbacks to scenes we’ve seen before and some we haven’t. In the past, Randall is filling out his application to Harvard but he really wants to check out Howard University. One of the boys he grew up with (his like one black friend) goes there now. He convinces Jack to take him but Jack’s a little skeptical. But as soon as Randall gets to campus, he meets up with his friend and they go off exploring, leaving Jack to do the usual scheduled tour. Randall is so impressed with the campus and the fact that there are primarily Black people. It’s a chance for him to be with people like him. He expresses this to Jack on the way home and they have a very interesting conversation about feeling out of place. Jack takes Randall to the Vietnam War memorial and explains that he was drafted at age 25 and when he got back form war, he felt out of place and off balance, much like Randall does now. But Randall is going to be just fine, no matter where he ends up.

In the present, Randall is starting to get ready for the Pearson family Thanksgiving tradition. He does not yet know about Kate’s loss and Kevin’s epic spiral. But, he has stuff of his own to deal with. Deja is preparing for a big school project that h e’s been helping her with when Shawna shows up out of nowhere demanding to see her daughter. She says the charges against her were dropped but Deja talks her down and we have to wait until the next morning to hear from the social worker. She’s going to recommend to the court that Deja go back to her mother because her apartment is clean and she’s stocked the fridge (the chargers got dropped so the prosecutor could nail a bigger fish). Randall and Beth are furious and intend to fight this. They claim they’ll file charges against Shawna for harassment and trespassing.

But, after Randall drops Deja off at school, he sits in his car and remembers a talk he had with William the prior year right after the big Thanksgiving debacle where he found out that William and Rebecca knew each other. William pontificates on the day Rebecca came to his apartment when Randall is nine. He followed Rebecca back to the Pearson home and he imagined what would happen if he introduced himself and how he’d get to partake in all of Randall’s milestones and then he realized he didn’t know which bike was Randall’s and what his nickname was and all sorts of personal information that really connects a person. So, Randall goes to Deja’s neighborhood and sees Shawna buying new clothes. When he gets to the school for Deja’s project, he tells Beth that they can’t stop Deja from going back home because there is a lot they don’t know about her that her mother does. Much like William made the decision to let Randall go, they too must let Deja go. It’s still a heartbreaking situation for them and Tess and Annie are obviously sad to be losing this sister they’ve just gained. I know letting things go and happen as they may is not Randall’s strong suit. Doing anything that involves relinquishing control is not his forte but he manages it. He even manages to give Deja a hug (which is a huge step for them given where they started off a few short episodes ago).

Just as Deja leave sand the Pearsons start to process being one person down, Randall gets the call from Rebecca that Kate has lost the baby. And then Kevin shows up all strung out and in a really bad place. He pours a large amount of vodka into his orange juice and downs it when the other girls come in. Kevin also declines a double brother chat with Kate until he gets his head on straight. Something tells me that’s not going to happen because he takes off (obviously drunk) and he realizes just as the cops pull up behind him that Tess is in the car. She wanted to hang out with cool uncle Kevin. He obviously gets arrested for DUI and both Beth and Randall are furious about what happened. I hope they aren’t mad at Tess. And I really hope that this is a wake up call for not only Kevin but everyone around him. As Jack told young Randall in the past, you develop blind spots with the people you care about and Kevin is everyone’s blind spot. They just don’t see him or pay attention to him when he really needs help. We can only hope that this changes things.

I will say that this episode wasn’t as upsetting as I expected it to be. But I do think it sets a lot of things up nicely for when we come back in January and I really enjoyed getting to fill in another little bit of William and Randall’s saga. You don’t see someone for a few episodes and you forget that he still has so much more story to tell. I will be sad to not get to spend time with the Pearson clan for a few weeks but I know that when we come back in the new year, it will be that much sweeter.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving "Classic" Recap: Seinfeld: "The Mom and Pop Store"

“What’s so great about a mom and pop store. Let me tell you something, if my mom and pop ran a store, I wouldn’t shop there.”
-George

It’s been a while since I watched Seinfeld (I was a pretty religious watcher of the show in the mid-late 90’s, basically once I was old enough to be allowed to watch it). What stands out to me watching it now, particularly with Thanksgiving classic “The Mom and Pop Store” is how expertly disparate plots and details that all seem inconsequential on their own come together in the end. The amount of tiny details that all became important by the end of the half-hour really impressed me. I know Seinfeld is considered to be the “Show About Nothing” that focuses heavily on the egos of the four leads and the inane situations they find themselves in, but there was one plot in this episode that really felt close to home for me. Jerry is trying to figure out if he’s been invited to a Night Before Thanksgiving Party that the rest of his friends have been invited too, and he starts analyzing vocal inflections to try and figure out if he should go to the party or not. As someone with pretty significant social anxiety, it was a visual depiction of how my brain works when confronted with a potential social event.

Anyway, the first of these disparate plots we hear about is that friend of Jerry and the Gang Tim Watley, a dentist, is throwing his annual Night Before Thanksgiving Party. His apartment overlooks where they blow up all the balloons for the Macy’s Day Parade, so it’s kind of a big deal. Tim has asked Jerry for Elaine’s address so he can send her an invitation, and Elaine, who has been interested in Tim for a while, is very excited about this development. Before she can engage in pre-Thanksgiving revelry, though, her ridiculous boss, Mr. Pitt, gives her a job to do. She was in the middle of taking the salt off of his pretzel sticks when he realizes she has an encyclopedic knowledge of big band music and can potentially use that knowledge to win him a spot holding the Woody Woodpecker balloon in the Macy’s Day Parade through a radio station contest. Elaine does indeed win a spot through the contest, but she has to spend a whole day listening to big band music at the Dixieland Deli in order to pick up Mr. Pitt’s balloon-holding pass. This will have other consequences later.

Meanwhile, George is shopping for a new car. He has done extensive research, and he wants an ’89 Volvo. The salesman, however, tries to steer him towards an ’89 Le Barron by saying it used to be owned by none other than Jon Voight. The blurbs about this episode in all the listicles about great Thanksgiving episodes I was reading as I was trying to decide what to blog refer to “Angelina Jolie’s father,” but back in the mid-90’s, I have a feeling Jon Voight was a name in his own right. Anyway, George falls for the con, and he’s super excited to be driving “Jon Voight’s” car. He finds a pencil in it at one point and also proudly wears Jon Voight’s pencil behind his ear for much of the episode. While Jerry is riding in the car at one point, he discovers the name of the car’s former owner written on the manual, which had been in the glove box. It turns out that it wasn’t owned by Jon Voight. It was owned by someone named John Voight. George doesn’t want the illusion shattered, and he kicks Jerry out of the car. Jerry gets harassed by some tough guys on the street, and he slips and falls while walking away because he’s wearing cowboy boots (more on that in just a sec).

Kramer is upset that the “mom and pop” cobbler shop near their apartment building may close soon. He would be very upset if another coffee shop moved into the neighborhood. Gentrification is actually a very important issue, but as you’d expect since this is “Seinfeld,” it doesn’t really get extensive discussion. Kramer asks the gang if anybody has some business they could throw Mom and Pop’s way. Jerry has a bunch of sneakers that need cleaning, so Kramer takes them all to the shop (which is why Jerry was left only with cowboy boots). While Kramer is at the shop, he gets a nosebleed, and when “Mom” has him lie back on a bench, he remarks that the exposed wiring he can see in the ceiling of their shop looks really dangerous. Mom and Pop have an electrician come out who says the fix is going to be expensive, and he’s going to have to report them if they don’t fix it. Mom and Pop close the shop, leave no trace, and take Jerry’s sneakers with them. Also at one point, Kramer sees the real Jon Voight, who bites Kramer’s arm because he feels threatened. Kramer and George want to compare the bite marks to the bite marks on George’s pencil.

Everything comes to a head at Tim Watley’s party. George and Kramer spend the whole time being awkward asking people to compare bite marks. Jerry shows up, even though he’s pretty sure he wasn’t invited, because he hopes he can get help with some dental pain caused by his earlier fall. Tim pretty much confirms that Jerry wasn’t invited, but Jerry gets his dental work, so all is well on that front. Poor Elaine can’t hear well because she was listening to big band all day, and she accidentally just shrugs and says no when Tim asks her out. Needless to say, Tim is not happy about that. Elaine had set her trophy from the big band contest on the window sill, and Jerry accidentally knocks it out the window, where of course it falls right on the Woody Woodpecker balloon. Later, we see footage of Mr. Pitts trying to control the collapsing balloon during the parade. Like I said, it all fits together in the end.

Lucifer 3.08: “Chloe Does Lucifer”

“I’ll just channel my inner Lucifer.”
- Chloe

Lucifer is in a weird place socially these days. When the episode opens, he’s playing Monopoly with Trixie and Chloe and it’s adorable. When he gets home though, Amenediel drops by and is surprised that his brother is living a boring life. Lucifer is super touchy about this designation because he thinks he needs to live a lifestyle that inspires other people. Even the case they land this week starts off feeling boring. The victim was a computer engineer who looks really bland (beige furniture and clothes). But thanks to her roommate, they learn that she was in an argument the night of her death.

The case leads Chloe and Lucifer to a dating app for celebrity people (which sounds absolutely ridiculous). They have super crazy criteria and you have to go through an interview before you can even set up an account. The victim wasn’t eligible and she hacked her way onto the platform. The CEO of the app is totally hitting on Chloe and it’s pissing Lucifer off. He also doesn’t like that everyone keeps treating him as boring. I don’t think spending a night in playing monopoly and face painting (Trixie’s price for getting to be the top hat during the game) is a bad way to spend an evening. Sure, he’s not off drinking and hooking up with strangers but he just needs to realize that he and Chloe are supposed to be together (even if it was God’s plan) and own it. She clearly still has feelings for him that she’s not over, too.

While the gang is going through the motions of the case, Amenediel gets roped into helping Linda plan her ex-husband’s funeral and Charlotte approaches Ella to try and learn how to be good so she won’t go to Hell. Dan walks in on that conversation and both he and Ella kind of bail on poor Charlotte. She’s just trying to figure out how not to end up being tortured for all eternity. Charlotte starts by lying to Ella about being in a shadowing program but ultimately, she comes through with the case at issue (even if she did end up stealing the information o seem like she was useful). She does some digging that leads them back to the CEO of the dating app. And Linda admits to Amenediel that she isn’t all that upset about her husband’s death. She’s just focusing on her own brush with death and knowing all that she does about God and Angels and such. Amenediel manages to convince her that she really isn’t that much different than she used to be before she knew everything. She just has different questions she’s asking. I do like that they are developing a friendship. Though for a moment I thought there was going to be more than just a friends situation going on as they were laying on the beach together contemplating the sky and getting some perspective.

Meanwhile, Ella discovers that the victim’s profile had one match and they even apparently had a dinner reservation the night of the murder. The profile pic of the potential suspect is useless but Chloe is going to channel her inner Lucifer at a mixer that the suspect is attending to try and find him. Lucifer tries to teach Chloe how to be him but it doesn’t really work so much. She ditches her earbud with the guys in the van and ends up finding the suspect on her own. He admits that he first met the victim when he went on a couple dates with her roommate through the dating app. But he liked the victim more because she was genuine and he didn’t have to be so superficial and “on” all the time. This leads Lucifer and Chloe back to the roommate who under Lucifer’s mojo admits she’s a phony, too. She just pretends that she’s constantly traveling and things. But she’s not the killer. As Charlotte points out it looks like the victim actually built the app and she hired the CEO to be the face of the company and she wants to get money back from him because he basically stole the app from her after she hired him to get the funding needed to get the app off the ground. So, Chloe ends up heading over (since apparently, she’s his type) to try and see if he has the murder weapon. Lucifer shows up independently to find Chloe there. He was trying to get his swagger back and wanted to go on a bro weekend to Vegas.

It turns out the CEO isn’t a complete idiot and he pulls a gun on them once they’ve found the murder weapon. But he is still dumb enough that when Lucifer tosses a ceramic version of the guy’s head in the air, he drops his gun and Chloe can arrest him. As Chloe imparts on Trixie that being yourself is always better than pretending to be someone you’re not, we see that Charlotte is going to be around more since she took a job as a DA to try and do good so she won’t go to Hell. Ella is not happy about this and I still can’t figure out why. And Lucifer is back to his usual debaucherously sexed-up self after he touches base with Linda and tells her all about his relationship with some random woman.

Overall, I thought this was a decent episode. Lucifer probably is shallower than he probably should be but at least Chloe got a chance to teach Trixie a good lesson and some of the other characters are moving forward with their stories. I really want to know why Ella is freaked out by Charlotte being around. There is definitely more story there to be told and I can’t wait to see it. And I believe the next new episode will return to the Sinner man plotline so that will be interesting, too.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

This Is Us 2.09: “Number Two”

“We will not let this break us.”
- Kate

I was ready for this episode of “This Is Us” to be gut wrenching and while it was emotional, I think it served to do a little bit of healing for some of the relationship, namely Kate and Rebecca. While Kevin is having his meltdown of epic proportions, Kate and Toby are going through their own trauma. Kate is excitedly taking her prenatal vitamins and singing to the baby when she decides she needs to measure the bathtub to make sure the baby bath she ordered will fit. Unfortunately, she suddenly has pain and we soon learn that she’s lost the baby. She and Toby are understandably heartbroken. Toby is ready to spend some time at home together processing their grief but Kate decides she needs to keep going on with her life like nothing happened.

While Kate is off singing at a gig, Toby gets rid of the shower curtain (which Kate ripped down while suffering the miscarriage) and then he gets notification that the baby bath is en route to being delivered and he heads out to the distribution center to stop it before it can get to the house to try and spare Kate some of the pain it would likely trigger. He gets a little aggressive with the guy at the gate but ultimately after much searching, Toby finds the package and even gives the baby bath to the guy at the gate because clearly, he doesn’t want it to be around. As much as he doesn’t want Kate to have the reminder of the loss, I suspect he doesn’t need it either. As Toby is being really sweet, Kate has a little bit of a freak out and almost chows down on a big plate of food at an all you can eat buffet. She also almost calls Kevin but can’t bring herself to leave a message. She eventually takes Rebecca’s call long enough to tell her mother that she lost the baby. We also saw the tidbits being filled in of Toby calling Kevin and Kevin not answering him. I like how these three episodes are all going to fit together and knowing that they are all the same day in both past and present, you can pick up on spots where they are going to cut away for another episode.

In the past, Kate is dealing with mother-daughter drama of her own. As Randall heads off to see a college with Jack and they have the debacle with Kevin and the scout, Rebecca wants Kate to make a list of five potential colleges she wants to apply to. Kate isn’t really interested. She’d rather hang with her new dog, Louie (the dog that Jack and Rebecca found when they were reconnecting after Jack revealed a few episodes ago that he took money from his father to pay for their house). Rebecca even tries to have a serious talk with Kate about how it’s okay if Kate wants to go to college to figure out what she wants to do with her life since Kevin and Randall clearly have it figured out already. Kate kind of blows her mom off and Rebecca happens upon an audition tape and an application to Berklee College of Music. Because Rebecca is nosy, she listens to Kate’s audition song. Which she really likes and tries to give Kate a check at Kevin’s football game to cover the application fee. Kate is at first upset that her mom stuck her nose in her business and then Kate explains that she didn’t want to tell Rebecca on the chance that she didn’t get in and Kate didn’t want to disappoint her mother. Clearly, Kate is still comparing herself to her mother. Rebecca assures her daughter that Rebeca would have disappointed on Kate’s behalf. The moment doesn’t last long before Kevin suffers his injury and they end up at the hospital where mother and daughter get to have another heart to heart where Rebecca explains that she hoped for a daughter because she wanted to do things differently from her own mother. I do think that the kids have such an inflated view of their father (even in spite of the alcoholism) that they treat Rebecca pretty poorly. She just can’t measure up to Dad and that’s too bad because she gave a lot for her kids. Neither of them are perfect. I get that she paid a lot of attention to Randall and she had a strained relationship with Kate and she I guess kind of ignored Kevin. But, she did the best she could for her family, especially after tragedy struck and honestly, as much as I want to see Jack’s death so we can get some closure on it, I want to see Rebecca handling her three kids on her own.

This of course, cues up a visit from Rebecca in the present to comfort her daughter. I about lost it the moment Rebecca showed up and Kate just crumpled into her mother’s arms. I also got misty-eyed when Rebecca and Kate talked about the baby and how Rebecca held her grief in from Jack for weeks and she ultimately lost it at a supermarket over some onions. Rebecca urges Kate to share her feelings with Toby (even if Kate thinks she failed her fiancĂ© by losing the baby). While both mother and daughter lost a child, Kate fears that she in fact did something to cause it but Rebecca won’t let her daughter think like that. And then, Toby gets back and Kate says that she feels like she failed him and he assured her that she didn’t. I’m glad that they were able to show them fight over the issue, too. Kate went on a rant that the miscarriage happened to her, not Toby, but he hits right back that she may have physically lost the baby but he lost a child, too. They both lost that potential but in the end, I think they both needed to get those feelings out to be able to move forward. They decide they will try again for another baby at some point. I was expecting it to be a much sadder episode than it turned out to be.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lucifer 3.07: “Off The Record”

“I’m responsible for a lot of things Reese, but not your soul, not your actions and not the poor girl downstairs.”
- Lucifer

At the outset, this is a confusing episode. We meet Reese, a journalist who had a brush with death and he thinks that is the wake-up call he needs to reconnect with his wife. Only problem, Lucifer is sleeping with his wife. So, he follows Lucifer to Lux and ends up chatting with him until Chloe shows up for a case. But it seems that it is set in the past (like season one timeline) and now Reese wants to write an expose on Lucifer. This is going to end horribly.

Our dynamic duo is now going to be an awkward triangle as Reese tags along on a case. They are investigating a potential serial killer who is killing people that act like they want to help people and the environment but are actually hypocrites. Clearly, Lucifer doesn’t catch on that Reese is pushing this angle as he’s observing their work. The latest victim is an all-natural beautician who had work done. Reese follows Lucifer after hours to a sketchy warehouse but before he can do any further investigation, Maze shows up and warns Reese to leave Lucifer alone. Of course, he’s not going to listen. He heads back to his office to have someone search the address but he’s got a visitor: his wife: Linda. Well, they’re separated and she wants him to sign the divorce papers. He begs her to give him one day (presumably to prove Lucifer isn’t who he says he is) and she agrees. So, he goes to Lux to try and get the duffle bag that he saw Lucifer carry out of the warehouse. What he finds is a woman tied up in bed (of her own accord) and Lucifer quite mad about the interruption. But in typical Lucifer fashion, he manages to calm Reese down. The money he paid to a cop was for the duffle bag because he needed something for his edible sex toys.

As Reese is trying to process all of this, he and Lucifer go meet Chloe who has a lead on the case. He’s in kind of a daze as they arrest the person responsible for selling expired medical goods. Reese decides he’s going to drop the story since it seems that Lucifer and Chloe actually do work well together and all Lucifer really does is charm people. But then Chloe gets called to talk to the Lieutenant and Lucifer goes in to chat with the seller (who is not the killer) and uses his devil face (another clue this isn’t taking place in the current timeline of the show) and Reese sees it. So, he goes to Linda to warn her to stay away from Lucifer. But she’s not having any of it. She just wants him to sign the divorce papers (which he does).

But Reese isn’t done with Lucifer. He’s going to find proof that Lucifer is the devil and we see him frantically putting together a timeline of all the important people in Lucifer’s life, taking us up to the present. He’s totally a mess when Chloe and Lucifer show back up. They’re still working the old case and they discovered that his paper’s Style section ran articles on each of the victims before they were killed and they want access to user comments that have been deleted or removed for inappropriate content. Seeing Lucifer again prompts Reese to rush off to see Linda again but she’s in a session with Lucifer. Reese shoots Lucifer (which does nothing more than ruin Lucifer’s suit and annoy him) but Linda confirms she knows the truth about Lucifer and sure it rocked her world for a minute when she saw his true face but she’s over it and he’s her friend. Reese can’t believe that she knew all this time and didn’t care. I also can’t believe Lucifer still hasn’t put it together that he’s the guy Reese is trying to punish. Lucifer can be kind of an idiot sometimes. Like when he makes the off handed comment that Reese is lucky Chloe wasn’t there when he was shot because there’d be blood everywhere. So of course, this prompts Reese to seek out Chloe and Lucifer together to seek his revenge. I also don’t know why Lucifer didn’t show off his wings to prove he’s not evil incarnate but I guess they used their CGI budget for the episode on the devil face scene.

It turns out that Reese has figured out the killer’s identity and he approaches him at his home. He wants to point this crazy guy at Lucifer and it almost works. They are both at Lux when Lucifer and Chloe are (so that the poison the guy uses will actually affect Lucifer). But, the killer doesn’t end up poisoning Lucifer. Instead, an innocent girl dies and this sends Reese off the deep end. He grabs a knife and threatens Lucifer in the penthouse. Lucifer uses his mojo to pull out of Reese that he just wants Linda to love him. At this point, Lucifer realizes that Linda was the woman he was talking about a year ago. Oops. Lucifer also makes an interesting point that he’s not responsible for who goes to Hell. Humans do it to themselves. Reese goes to Linda to try and open up about his feelings (Lucifer had suggested that perhaps Linda forgave him because he was honest about who he was) but it devolves quickly. He admits his part in the girl’s death and Linda threatens to call the police. Only after pushing Linda and hurting her does Reese say he’ll turn himself in. The killer is waiting at Reese’s office and poisons him. Chloe and Lucifer arrive just in time to arrest the killer. Reese even gets a last few words with Lucifer before he wakes up in the same scene we found him in at the start of the episode. I should have picked up on it sooner but I didn’t that this is his personal Hell. Which makes me question whether the entire thing actually happened or if this is all in his head, as it were.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This Is Us 2.08: “Number One”

“You are my purpose Kevin. I swear to you son, you will find yours.”
- Jack

We are in the final three episodes before the fall finale and the writers have decided to do something different. For the next three episodes we are focusing exclusively on one of the Big Three and this week’s episode is all about Kevin. Poor, stupid, Kevin. His life is a hot mess right now. We find him staying in a hotel just washing down pills with booze and wandering around the hotel room in a daze. When a housekeeper shows up and he lets her in, it becomes clear that he’s not been outside in like a week. As she starts to clean up, he gets a call from the homecoming coordinator from his high school to ask if he will be there for the alumni honors ceremony. He decides to go but when he gets back to Pittsburgh, he has to stop by the house and he gets hit with a bunch of memories of being a little kid playing football in the backyard with his parents and siblings.

In the 1990s, we find the Big Three starting to fill out college applications and Kevin has a scout from Pitt coming to meet with him. Kevin is so not interested in it but Rebecca and Jack insist on him meeting with the scout. Kevin does everything he can to show he’s not interested and doesn’t think very highly of the school. After the scout leaves, Jack rips into his son (as he should for such poor behavior) but Kevin throws it back in Jack’s face. I suspect that Kevin was hit the hardest by Jack’s alcoholism and recovery. He just seems so angry. I wonder if adult Kevin even realizes what he’s doing right now in the present is exactly what his father did and what he was so mad at him for. Later that night, Jack tries to apologize to Kevin but Kevin (much like he did when he was ten years old on the camping trip shuts down). But as Kevin tries to write the apology letter to the scout, he goes back upstairs to apologize to his dad and finds Jack ending a call with his sponsor and then reciting the serenity prayer that they use in AA. I don’t think Kevin quite gets how his actions affect other people. Kevin is still mad at Jack, though, because he’s taking Randall to a college tour and missing the big game where Kevin ends up injuring his knee. We also see Jack give Kevin his pendant. It’s the Buddhist symbol of purpose. Kevin’s dreams may have died with this injury but Jack is certain that Kevin will find a new purpose in his life. And mark me down for yet another scene where my heart broke because Jack is never going to get to see his son grow up.

Kevin’s arrival at the high school is filled with more flashes of his teenage years until he runs into someone he went to school with (not that he remembers them) and admits that he and Sophie got divorced, back together and split up again. He also spills the baby beans about Kate. All the while he’s downing cheap red wine to keep his buzz going. Well, until he realizes he needs to give a speech. The award he’s getting is presented by his former coach who he intermittently sees as Jack which I found very touching. But Kevin is in no mind set to accept the award. Not when there are other honorees like the plastic surgeon who works with Operation Smile. But the crowd just cheers, oblivious to his pain and as he heads off to the football field we get this great monologue where he admits he can’t get through the pain of everything without the help of pain killers and we also learn that the time between Kevin’s injury and Jack’s death isn’t too far off because he says specifically that he was able to walk just in time to bury his father. Oh, it is painful (all the while he’s ignoring calls from Kate and Toby which makes me worry given that the writers have said that these three episodes take place over the same period of time looking at each of the Pearson kids). And then, in a super creepy move, the homecoming coordinator (who is like 16) asks Kevin if he wants to party. I know he’s in a rough place but dear lord I hope he doesn’t sink that far. I’d say the fact he hooked up with the doctor is a good thing, except the next morning he rifles through her medicine cabinet looking for pills and ends up stealing some pages from her prescription pad to write himself some scripts and sneaks out of the house. I really hope someone manages to get him to admit he’s got a problem and starts on the road to recovery.

Kevin is about to fill the prescription when he realizes his dad’s necklace is missing and he races back to the woman’s house who he slept with but she refuses to let him in and he legitimately breaks down on her front yard, sobbing that he needs someone to help him. That someone may turn out to be Randall because the next we see Kevin, he’s showing up at Randall’s house and when Kevin is about to come clean, Randall says that he knows Kate lost the baby. And yes, I about lost it (even though I assumed that’s where this was going). I truly hope that this is the end of Kevin’s spiral because his sister is going to need him to lean on. Yes, she’s got Toby and Randall and Rebecca and the rest of the family but they’ve had that special bond their entire lives and I suspect he’s going to feel even worse when he realizes those missed calls were her needing her big brother to be there for her.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Mayor 1.06: “Will You Accept This Rose?”

“It’s like I’m living with the Bachelor”
- Dina

This week’s episode is all about looking to the past and moving forward in the future. We first find Courtney out on a date with Amber, the labor attorney who had been representing the union in the labor dispute in the previous episode. They seem to be hitting it off and Courtney is pretty thrilled. He does, however, show off a video from high school when he “prom”-posed to the girl of his dreams back then: Danielle. It involved a whole song and rap number which was cheesy but totally fits Courtney’s personality and what he would have been like as a teenager.

As Mayor, Courtney is going to be shooting a PSA commercial and attending a benefit gala for a local hospital (and its 70th anniversary). He invites Amber to the event against Valentina’s advice and then things take a turn. When Courtney goes to the news studio to film the PSA (which we never see) who should be there as a meteorologist but Danielle! She immediately recognizes Courtney and lets him in on the secret that she’s on the board of the gala and that she can’t wait to see him there. She also promises free drink tickets. Courtney is now a little torn because he really likes Amber but Danielle’s return fulfills a dream for his younger self. So he lets Jermaine and T.K. talk him into uninviting Amber and just focusing on hanging out with Danielle at the gala. And boy does he hang out with her. They dance and talk and drink all night. But then the next morning, his picture (with her) is all over the newspapers and it’s not such a great story, seeing people probably knew he was seeing Amber before.

While Courtney goes on another date with Danielle, Val ends up opening up to T.K. and Jermaine about her private life a little. She admits that she was married once but that they grew apart and ended up divorced. She doesn’t like to talk about it because her parents were divorced and she was embarrassed that she followed in their romance footsteps. It’s nice that we are finding out little bits of information about her that humanize her a bit but I’m still not in love with her character. I understand she needs to balance out the goofiness of the guys but I could do with a lot less of her most of the time to be honest. Courtney’s date with Danielle doesn’t go well at all. She’s snapping selfies and tweeting them out before the date is even over. She’s clearly just in it for the fame and the “like” factor. She can’t wait to get out of Fort Grey and move on with her life. Courtney realizes his mistake and bails on the date, intent on trying to win Amber back. It’s kind of cheesy and sweet that he recreates the little rap video but this time in suits instead of hip hop clothes. Amber’s not entirely buying it but she seems willing to give him one more chance. Besides, they are much more compatible. They even subscribe to the same silly news outlet. I think he probably has a long way to go and Val’s words of caution about dating as the Mayor being a different situation than just normal dating should be heeded. But, I think Courtney realizes that Val occasionally knows what she’s talking about and he’ll make note of it.

As Courtney goes through his romance woes, Dina has her own challenges to deal with. We see the gang in church and the pastor approaches Dina afterwards and begs her to join the choir. This is apparently not a new occurrence. He’s been trying to get her to sing for years but she always says she is too busy with raising Courtney. But now her boy is a grown man and she should let herself have this for herself. Dina reluctantly agrees to join the choir but then bails on every single practice that comes up. First, she’s in her mail truck eating a sandwich and lies to the pastor and says she’s at an animal shelter volunteering. Well, she does feed the sandwich to a noise dog off screen. Then she’s at home and he shows up with a portable keyboard and stand and starts riffing on the keys (on organ setting no less0 but she’s just ignoring him. When one of the neighbors complains about the noise, she turns off the sound and we get some real talk. The pastor rightly surmises that Dina is afraid to do something for herself after spending so much of her life worrying about and taking care of Courtney. She doesn’t entirely know who to be if she’s not Courtney’s mom. But singing is a passion for her and she should be allowed to embrace that passion. So, she finally really agrees to sing in church and boy does she sing. It’s always fun to see shows that have multi-talented cast members and you let them shine. I also have to admit I enjoyed the scene because we got to see the fun of an African America church service. Yes, some of the stuff is kind of over the top but the way they get into the music just makes me smile and it affirms to me that Courtney probably grew up there listening to people sing and make music and that helped to inspire his love of rap music (I know rap and gospel don’t always go together but it could have happened).

This wasn’t a typical episode of the Mayor s there wasn’t really a crisis for Courtney to solve but I still enjoyed it. In fact, I know I’ve complained about the show being a little formulaic but I think it’s starting to move away from that and I’m grateful. It was nice that Courtney was able to kind of figure things out for the most part on his own this week. It shows that he’s growing as a person.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Mayor 1.05: "The Strike"

“It would appear that the people’s interests are numerous and varied.”
-Courtney

As you might have guessed, as a public administrator, I often have strong opinions about episodes of “The Mayor” (although, of course, all those opinions expressed her are my personal opinions alone, not in any way reflective of my employer, who you could probably identify if you had sufficient Google Fu). In this episode, Courtney learns a lesson that all of us who work in public finance know. Resources are finite and wants are infinite. In other words, the public (understandably) wants stuff from their government, but they don’t especially want to pay for said stuff. Or they want what they pay to only go to stuff they personally think is worthwhile. As one of the characters tries (and fails) to say in this episode, you can’t please all the people all the time. The Baltimore City budget office (not my employer) has a great exercise on their website where they invited citizens to try and balance the budget. It let citizens see firsthand the compromises that need to be made when running a government. You can try it yourself here: http://balancedbudget.baltimorecity.gov/exercise/.

Courtney Rose is, at heart, a people pleaser. It makes him a nice guy, but it makes the tough calls of governing, shall we say, difficult. At the beginning of the episode, Courtney and his boys are super excited about a trash can they had installed outside City Hall. Courtney says the trash can helps everyone, because everybody needs to throw out trash. Since he’s not beholden to donors, he just wants to be the solution to all of Fort Grey’s problems. Unfortunately, he’s got a big collective bargaining negotiation with the transit union coming up that is going to stretch his people-pleasing nature to the limit. Valentina warns Courtney that collective bargaining is like war, but Courtney is confident he’ll be successful taking a softer approach. The union wants a lot of expensive things, though, and Valentina warns Courtney that giving them anything of substance from their list of wants will lead to raising bus fares. Courtney balks at that because he doesn’t want to hurt commuters. He tries asking two of the transit union members what the top item off their wish list is, and they each have a different answer. Unable to make everyone happy, Courtney becomes paralyzed.

Val tries to snap Courtney out of his indecision by asking him if he’s planning to ask every single person in Fort Grey what they would give up for a fair transit contract. Courtney takes off running (much to Val’s chagrin), and next thing we know, the boys are running a focus group. At first, Val thinks this actually isn’t a bad idea. Courtney has picked a diverse group hoping that they’ll reach consensus on something to give up in exchange for the transit contract. Unfortunately, they all have very different priorities. An older guy wants to keep Meals on Wheels, a mom wants to keep playgrounds as they are, and a loner wants to keep the libraries fully funded. The whole thing devolves into a big food fight, with ham blocking the camera Courtney is watching through and everything. Clearly the focus group isn’t going to provide the answer.

Courtney tells the union that he intends to put an offer on the table that will make everyone happy, but he needs a few more weeks to flesh out the details. Unfortunately, the contract expires at midnight, and the union calls a strike. Soon enough, the strike has been on for three days with no end in sight. Media are reporting that Courtney isn’t even showing up at City Hall. He, the boys, and Val are all holed up at Dina and Courtney’s apartment, which Courtney has dubbed “Auxiliary City Hall.” The bus strike has plunged Fort Grey into chaos. Val reports that only two teachers showed up at a local school, and they’re dangerously outnumbered. When she can’t arrange an air lift for them, she tells them they’re probably best off on the roof anyway. Courtney wants to do something to ease the city’s pain while he works to end the strike, so he and the boys make a video to start a new program: “See someone, drive someone.” The idea being that if you have a car, and you see someone who needs a ride, help them out. TK plays a doctor in their little video skit, and it’s kind of ridiculous.

Meanwhile, Dina and two of her friends are preparing for “Whitney Day.” It’s a day when they all take a sick day together and do fabulous things. It all started when Courtney was little and the ladies took off work after a Whitney Houston concert to keep the party going. In between bantering with her girls, Dina reminds Courtney to treat the union well, because the bus drivers do an important job, and unions are important too. Dina’s friends just seem creepily attracted to Courtney, one of them especially so. Whitney Day turns out to be a complete bust because of the bus strike. The psychic they were going to see couldn’t get to work, and neither could the best nail tech at the nail salon where they had booked mani-pedis. It was just a disaster overall, and it involved way too much walking.

Courtney leads the charge for “See someone, drive someone,” driving people all over the city, with TK and Jermaine in the car, too. Eventually he kicks them out to make room for more passengers. Unfortunately, these passengers happen to be bus drivers, and they have Courtney drive them right to City Hall. As Courtney watches (and tries to hide from) the protest, he can see his mom among the picketers. Later that day, he confronts her about it. Dina says that the Post Office called a sympathy strike, and she decided to join in. Courtney is upset that his own mother would picket against him. Further, she’s just calling him “Courtney” instead of “Baby” like she usually does. He goes to talk to Val about this, and because she’s had half an Ambien at 7:30 PM (for real?) things get super awkward, and she hugs him and calls him “baby” instead. More usefully, she reminds Courtney that real leaders can’t please all of the people all of the time. He may have been able to give everyone exactly what they wanted as a rapper, but as a politician, if you’re not disappointing somebody, you’re doing it wrong. Governing is actually hard, y’all! As they say in “Hamilton,” “Winning was easy, young man, governing’s harder.”

Courtney finally comes to the table ready to bargain. Eventually, a compromise is struck. It’s going to mean reduced library hours and higher bus fares, and a lot of people are unhappy, but the bus drivers are back to work with a more than fair contract. The union lawyer even gives Courtney her number, which seems just a touch unethical to me. Most importantly, Dina is proud of Courtney and is once again calling him “baby.” In the episode’s tag, the boys and Val reconvene the focus group to get input on their fashion choices, which is really kind of hilarious.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

This Is Us 2.07: “The Most Disappointed Man”

“It is our job to protect that little girl, so we’re gonna do our job.”
- Beth

I don’t know why but since we lost William last season, I’ve almost forgotten that we have basically his whole life to back through and explore because whenever he pops up, I’m surprised (always pleasantly so although this week I was also very sad). We find Rebecca and Jack in the very early 1980s with the Big Three as infants and one-year-olds. They are trying to do everything they can to impress a social worker and a judge to allow them to formally adopt Randall. I have a sinking suspicion that things may not go their way but as the Big Three turn one, they are optimistic. Unfortunately, at this time William ends up in jail for drug use. He gives this heartbreaking speech to the judge about how a year ago his mother and girlfriend were alive and he was going to be a dad and now he is just so disappointed in himself and his life that he doesn’t much care if the judge locks him up. But the judge was moved by William’s words and pays him a visit in lock up pending sentencing. He’s going to take a chance on William and get him out and in treatment and all William has to do is make sure if he starts to think about going down a path that would lead back to jail, he’d remember the judge and make a different choice. It was beautiful. (I almost used it as a quote but I couldn’t find the judge’s name). We see that after older William gets the news about his cancer diagnosis he goes home and is about to light up when he remembers the judge’s face and then Randall shows up on his doorstep. It was all very emotional and moving and beautiful and I just want more William!

As I predicted the judge is not going to just let Jack and Rebecca adopt Randall. Despite the glowing recommendation from the social worker, the judge has questions and the social worker isn’t present so they get pushed off to another hearing date. The judge does agree to speak with Jack and Rebecca ex-parte in chambers after they approach him in the hallway. I honestly don’t think that’s going to make it any better. He flat out tells them that Randall needs to be with a Black family because Jack and Rebecca can’t prepare him for what it means to be Black. I understand that mixed race families weren’t common back in the early 80s and that race relations weren’t great but damn I don’t like this judge. Rebecca ends up sending the judge a letter and family portrait and promises that they will keep going back to court until he does his job and lets them be the family they want to be.

In the present, Randall is kind of wound up about having to take Deja to see her mom in jail. He thinks her mother is a criminal and doesn’t think she deserves to have a relationship with her daughter but Beth reminds him she is the girl’s mother. When they get there, Randall kind of snaps at Deja’s social worker, especially after he finds out Deja’s mom is bailing on the visit (which was going to be a face to face without the phone and glass separating them). But the social worker points out that her job is really hard and she recounts a story about a little girl who went deaf from an ear infection and she still hasn’t been placed. Randall ends up lying to Deja about why her mom isn’t coming. He probably thinks he’s doing the right thing but when she finds out the truth, it’s going to weaken that rust they are slowly building up. Beth is royally pissed about the whole thing and wants to keep Deja away from her mother. Randall pays Deja’s mom a visit and things get very intense. Not only does Randall get defensive when the woman assumes that Randall is married to a white woman but he’s going to defend Deja for as long as he can. He has a fight on his hands. Or so it appears at first. But as he explains to Beth when gets home, he gave Deja’s mom their number so she could talk to Deja because they may be falling for their foster daughter but they may not be the best thing for her and they have to now make the hard decisions.

Across the country, Kevin is still using and abusing booze and pills to fight off his knee pain and he’s been blowing off Sophie which is only going to last so long before she finds out what he’s doing. Or just gets fed up enough to ditch him a second time. And he’s in kind of a haze when he pays Kate and Toby a visit and they share the news that she’s pregnant (now at ten weeks. Every episode we inch a little closer to the end of the first trimester). Kate notices Kevin is off but can’t put her finger on what it is. But, she doesn’t have time to worry about her brother because Toby is freaking out about telling his very Catholic mother that she’s going to be a grandma and that the baby was conceived out of wedlock. Kate’s solution: go to the courthouse and get married right then. They get their marriage license at City Hall and as Kate goes on about all the things they won’t have to do for a wedding now (dress shopping, figuring out a father/daughter dance and walking down the aisle and countless people saying that Jack would have loved the day), you just tell that Toby isn’t thrilled with all of this. He’s showy by nature and I suspect he wanted the big wedding. Meanwhile, Kevin busy three engagement rings for Sophie (while likely drunk and high on pain meds) in a scene directly calling back to Jack drunkenly buying the moon necklace for Rebecca all those years ago. Sitting at home, Toby ends up having their weird conversation with Jack’s urn and he realizes that he needs to propose to Kate and so he does and it’s appropriately Toby and cheesy and Kate loves it. And she realizes that she wants the whole big wedding experience. Hope they can get married within 60 days because that’s how long marriage certificates are typically valid for! Too bad Kevin’s life is just spiraling horribly out of control. He ends up ranting about how his vision of their future is a nightmare and he’s just an empty shell and ends up getting the door slammed in his face.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Lucifer 3.06: “Vegas With Some Radish”

“Yeah, well this is Vegas. This town is always up for an encore.”
- Ella

Welcome to Vegas, people (or more accurately another of the four stand-alone episodes they filmed last year that got sprinkled throughout season 3). But, from everything I’ve heard about this episode (including the shipping of the fabulous costumes), I’m super excited to see what happens. It is Chloe’s birthday and they are celebrating at the precinct with a cake and then a stripper cake, courtesy of Ella shows up. Chloe is quite enjoying herself and Lucifer is impressed by Ella’s ingenuity until he gets a phone call that his ex-wife Candy (from the mid-season premiere last year) has gone missing in Vegas. Ella ends up inviting herself along as he heads off to try and track her down, leaving Chloe all kinds of flustered and confused.

Lucifer and Ella get to Candy’s place to find a dead woman’s body and a bunch of police, including the lead detective. Lucifer quickly deduces that the victim is not Candy based on her foot size but Ella convinces him not to tell the detective that because it could get back to the killer and put Candy is more danger. As they try to surmise who might want to hurt Candy, we get a flashback to when Lucifer was last in Vegas and he met Candy. She picked his pockets to fend off a sleazy loan shark. Unfortunately, that line of inquiry dies as quickly as the loan shark because when they get to the house, he’s dead, too.

Back in LA, Chloe pays Linda a visit because she can’t reach Lucifer. She claims she has a question about a case but I think she wants to see if they can rekindle what they had. I don’t think Lucifer is in a place right now to be with Chloe, even though they are clearly end game. Linda offers to go with Chloe to the penthouse to see if Lucifer is there (which obviously he’s not). This is going to get super crazy, I’m sure. It turns into quite the to do. First, they start drinking and messing around with the piano and then are on their way to root through his sock drawer when he calls Linda to reschedule his therapy session. This leads Chloe to whine quite a bit about him leaving her on her birthday. She insists she’s not jealous and that she’s not interested in a romantic relationship but Linda clearly isn’t buying it. At some point, they call Dan because they discover a wall safe and they can’t seem to crack it. But he’s got a power drill (and some spackle when he drills a giant hole in the wall). Why don’t they just call Amenediel? I mean he might have some idea of the combination!

While the weird pity party is underway in LA, Lucifer and Ella head to a casino to try and get the dead loan shark’s wife to confess to the double murder. Ella insists that Lucifer play black jack and she’s feeding him what to do for a while before she just takes over and gets them dragged to the back room. Ella is a really good card counter and had been banned from the casino before. She explains to Lucifer that counting cards helped quiet the voices in her head (she doesn’t elaborate but now I’m super intrigued). They decide they need to find another lead when who should appear (in disguise) but Candy herself. She fills our duo in that someone is trying to take her father’s bar (which is what the loan shark was after back when Lucifer first met Candy). We get a quick flashback to them commiserating and Lucifer convincing Candy to marry him to help him get over Chloe. He paid off the loan shark, though. The female victim was a friend of Candy’s who was staying with her after a break-up. However, since Lucifer and Candy are still legally married, he takes over as owner of the club and puts on quite the show with Ella as one of the dancers. That was pretty epic and of course it’s always nice to hear Tom Ellis sing. By the end of the night, the true killer has emerged: the bartender at the club. With a bit of mirror work and the fact that Lucifer is bulletproof without Chloe around, they get the bartender to confess and all seems well.

Lucifer gets back to the penthouse to find Linda and Dan passed out on the couch and Chloe curled up in his bed. He starts explaining that he went to Vegas and didn’t tell her because the last time he did that it was predicated on unhappy emotions and he didn’t want that to be the case this time. As he gets up to unlock the safe, Chloe presents to wake up (she heard all of his confessions which is nice) and then he presents her with his gift. The bullet she shot him with when he died and went to hell at the end of season 1. God, that seems like such a long time ago! But they both get a good laugh out of it and it is pretty adorable and they hug. I really want them to find a way to be together. Lucifer has to finally succeed in telling Chloe the truth this season because it’s getting a little ridiculous that basically everyone else knows.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode a lot. It was fun and I laughed so much. I think the writers did a great job giving us kind of a one-off that still moved some things forward without it seeming too out there and out of line with the rest of the season thus far. I do wish they’d put a few more bits in for some of the other characters to be funny. Like, can we get some Amenediel and Dan scenes? They don’t have to be even doing improv. Just the pair of them together is quite hilarious and awkward.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fresh off the Boat 4.04: "It's a Plastic Pumpkin, Louis Huang"

“Hope is for amateurs.”
-Jessica

Everybody knows I love a good Halloween television, although this one left me wanting a bit. I think there were too many plots happening at once (all Halloween-related, of course). At the center of it all is Louis, who true to his kind of child-like (in a good way) nature, loves Halloween. He has to deal with the fact that his boys are growing up and aren’t always going to want to spend Halloween with their dad. Louis had been hoping he’d still have a few more years celebrating the holiday with Evan, at least, but we know that Evan just wants to be a little adult, so he wasn’t having it. The other plots didn’t have as much substance, probably because there was too much going on at once. Eddie’s plot was good for some laughs as the boys try to get into a Halloween party thrown by a Senior, and Jessica and Emery’s plot had some good horror movie moments and a great fake-out at the end, but the heart of the episode was Louis. As I suppose it should be, considering Halloween is his favorite holiday and all. Oh, and Randall Park does a pretty decent Jerry Seinfeld impression, by the way.

The episode opens with Louis haggling to purchase the family Halloween pumpkin. It reminded me of the dad in A Christmas Story. Louis gets a black cat with a witch’s hat decoration thrown in for free, so he’s happy. Louis never stuck me as much as a haggler, so I didn’t quite buy this scene. Back at the house, Louis announces that he has also bought family Halloween costumes – they’re all going to be characters from Seinfeld. Louis is going to be Jerry, of course. He gives Jessica an Elaine costume, but she turns it down. She wants to use the calm of everybody being out for Halloween to get some work done on her Jennifer Hong mystery novel. Somebody on the writing staff must be named Jennifer or Jessica and was born in the late 70’s early 80’s. They were the number one and two names at the time (and my parents’ first and second choice for my name, because apparently they weren’t creative about naming). I always like seeing a character with one name use the other for some reason, because it makes so much sense for those of us born at that particular time.

The boys all turn down Louis’ invite, too. Emery doesn’t want to partake in a superstitious holiday like Halloween during his bad luck year, although he is willing to wear the Kramer costume and stay in his room. Eddie is just plan offended that Louis wants him to be Newman, so much so that he backs out of the room while continuing to stare disapprovingly at Louis. Plus, Eddie and his buds have their own plan. They are going to sit across the street from the Halloween party a senior girl on the dance team is throwing wearing tough costumes hoping they’ll be invited in. Evan has purchase a plastic pumpkin that sings the Addams Family theme, much to Louis’ chagrin, so as Jessica points out, he’s clearly still at least a little into Halloween, but he already has plans to go to Deirdre’s adult party (he got invited through the HOA). Louis tries to convince Evan to wear the George Costanza costume and help him hand out candy instead, because adult parties are boring. Evan says he’s in, but then he ends up going to Deirdre’s party anyway. That’s where Louis finds him after he has a disastrous attempt at guessing a Trick-or-Treater’s costume.

Eddie and his boys meet up for the party, and everybody looks pretty tough other than Brian, who is dressed as Prince. Brian is instructed to sit behind everybody else. Then Walter starts gushing over the little kids walking by in their Halloween costumes (particularly an Ariel and a Pikachu), and the rest of the guys tell him to be quiet. He bails, as he’d rather spend his Halloween gushing over little kids in costumes, apparently. Nicole stops by and lets the guys know that she’s going to a party with all the high school’s women’s sports teams. I’m not sure I’m liking the direction the show is taking with this Nicole is a Lesbian plot. It was handled well in the first episode where it came up, but it’s just been a cheap joke ever since. Anyway, Brian thinks that party sounds better than waiting on a stoop in the heat, so he joins her. Then the varsity football team walks by and thinks Brian is crying, when he’s actually just sweating in his Juggalo makeup. Brian bails, too, so it’s just Eddie and Trent left. Trent manages to scare Eddie off with this awesome monologue about how Halloween is easy, it’s showing emotion the other 364 days of the year that’s hard. Eddie gets weirded out and leaves, and then Trent gets invited into the party.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Emery tells Jessica, who is having some writer’s block, that he heard a weird noise coming from Grandma’s room. When they approach her door, they hear a man’s voice saying to come inside. They open the door, and they are surprised to see it’s just Grandma in the room, and she’s pissed that they invaded her privacy. Emery is convinced that some horror movie level spookiness is going on. Jessica tries to calm him down until a small group of people show up at their door, say they need Jenny, and Grandma rolls off with them. Jessica thinks a possessed grandma plot could be just what her novel needs, so she agrees to follow the group with Emery. Grandma goes into an old church, and when Jessica and Emery follow her in, they think she’s part of some sort of coven. There’s a person making weird noises, another person reading words like “butcher,” and yet another person brewing something in a cauldron. It turns out, however, that it’s just Grandma’s ESL class. She wanted to understand what her family was saying when they were speaking English really fast, but she didn’t want them to know she knew what they were saying. Also, she kind of has a thing for the teacher, Bernard, played by none other than George Takei (the voice Emery and Jessica had heard was a tape he made for her).

Louis keeps trying to get Evan to leave the party, because it really isn’t age appropriate, no matter how mature Evan thinks he is, but he keeps getting waylaid by people wanting to talk about their problems, or Honey and Marvin wanting to talk about baby names. Evan is making non-alcoholic drinks, which isn’t making some of the partygoers too happy. Eventually Louis gets Evan to leave, Evan dresses up as George, but Evan’s not happy about it. He does a pretty good grumpy George impression while handing out candy. Eventually, Evan and Louis have it out. Each accuses the other of not acting their age. Evan says that he’s definitely a kid, but not the kid Louis wants him to be. This gets through to Louis, who says Evan can go back to Deirdre’s. He even offers to walk Evan over when Evan realizes how late it is and gets scared. I think Louis is just happy to still be needed by one of his sons.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Lucifer 3.05: “Welcome Back, Charlotte Richards”

“I understand you want to clear the red from your ledger Charlotte, but believe me this is not the way to do it.”
- Lucifer

This week’s episode is all about pudding. The case of the week revolves around a food chemist who works for a big pudding company. He’s found dead in a vat of pudding. Dan is devastated because he loves pudding (and the company) but his emotions turn even more despondent when who should appear to be representing the company’s CEO but Charlotte Richards. Sure, she’s got a huge gap in her memory but she’s acting like she’s all good.

This also sets Lucifer on edge. After giving Trixie some creative alt-swear words (Chloe has been using a swear jar), he says he’s going to stop letting his father control him and get in his head but he’s not overly invested or interested in the case. He’s more freaked and worried about needing to talk to Charlotte. Despite his declaration that he’s done letting Dad hold the reins on his life, Lucifer is convinced Charlotte is back as part some of plan by God. I suspect he’s wrong about that. The case takes an odd turn when review of personnel with security access to the vat where the victim was found leads to the former business partner of the CEO. She left to start her own company but after Lucifer works his mojo at the set of the commercial she’s shooting (which she hates because it’s selling sex and not pudding) she admits that the victim offered to sell her the secret formula for the pudding.

While Lucifer is ogling the pretty, scantily clad models for the commercial, Chloe notices a guy in a trench coat watching them. It turns out he’s a corporate fixer for the CEO of the pudding company who had the secret formula. Lucifer jumps at the chance to confront Charlotte again but since Dan has gone to her office and sort of spilled his guts to her again (only to get rejected and give a throwaway line about how Charlotte and Lucifer were close in ways he’d never understand), she sends someone else. While Chloe is trying to get any information, she can out of the fixer (she does learn there was a corporate merger in progress so the potential espionage was moot), Lucifer goes home and finds Charlotte in the penthouse. She comes on to him and starts kissing him which really freaks him out. But, it does lead to her admitting she can’t remember the last few months and it felt like she was reliving the same horrible nightmare over and over again. It makes sense that when she died and Mom took over her body, her soul went to hell and when Mom left her body, she was able to somehow returned. Maybe Mom’s energy restored her or something. It’s not entirely clear. But Lucifer believes her and she even agrees to hand over security footage to prove her client innocent.

Right before looking at said video footage, Ella gets the autopsy report back that showed the victim had kidney stones and would have died from renal failure pretty soon. And as Ella looks at the “secret” ingredients in the pudding, she realizes that they are two things that when mixed together become poisonous and cause renal failure. Oh boy! As the gang digs a little deeper they realize that the two CEOs and fixer all could have had motive (money-wise) to want to keep the victim quiet. This sets Charlotte off quite a bit because now she’s got three potentially guilty murderer clients to deal with and her whole crisis of faith and being good is not putting her in a very good mindset.

Some additional digging leads to the security guard who was on duty that night and he reveals that while he would have made a lot of money in the merger due to stock options, he liked the victim but he had shared during a drunken night out that lots of people would suffer and he wanted to end it. So, it appears as though our victim purposely took his own life but made it look like a murder to get the police to investigate and punish all of the corporate folk. It’s rather clever if you think about it really.

Unfortunately, Charlotte has gone off and gathered her clients together to force them to tell her the truth. The gun she’s wielding doesn’t scare any of them really and she’s starting to get quite hysterical when Lucifer shows up and manages to talk her down. I can understand her not wanting to go back to hell when she dies again but threatening to hurt people who are ultimately innocent of this particular crime isn’t going to get here where she wants to be. Luckily, the trio made some incriminating statements while Lucifer was listening in and he recorded it. Yay modern technology? And yay for Dan, too, because it looks like he and Charlotte might try to find some kind of relationship again. I suspect Dan will like the real Charlotte a lot more than Mom. While Chloe explains to Trixie back home that she was trying to show that bad words can hurt people and make them feel bad, she realized she had given her daughter rules without explaining the why behind it. So, no more swear jar, although Trixie is out all of the money she put in. And I will be interested to see how Lucifer and Charlotte develop in their new relationship because it seems they are going to get to know each other, too. It was kind of heartbreaking to see Lucifer finally acknowledge that he missed his mother more than he realized and way more than he’d ever share with those close to him (namely Amenediel and Maze). Overall, I thought this was a decent way to reintroduce Charlotte into the mix, even if the case wasn’t as exciting as some of the others have been.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This Is Us 2.06: “The 20’s”

“Sometimes babies die right in the beginning. But your dad and I had all this room in our hearts for three babies and we met you. So yeah, you are a miracle.”
- Rebecca

Happy Halloween Pearson clan! It’s time to celebrate another holiday with our favorite family. It’s 1990 and Rebecca is furiously trying to get everyone’s costumes ready while Jack comes home to help carve pumpkins. It’s a little hard to tell if this takes place before or after last episode’s camping trip but even if it’s after, I suspect the good will between Kevin and Randall has dissipated because Kevin thinks Randall’s map and plan of getting candy is stupid and he just wants to hang out with his friends. Kate changes her mind at the last minute to be Sandy from Grease (pretty Sandy not tough Sandy) and it becomes evident later on that she’s trying to impress a boy. According to Kevin, she is hoping the boy will hold her hand during a haunted house in the neighborhood. Jack is clearly not happy about his baby girl liking a boy and there is definitely some tension between him and Rebecca on how they treat the kids, Kate and Randall specifically. And they aren’t wrong about each other either. Ultimately, Kate gets her hand squeezed by the cute boy and Jack sees that Kevin paid him off in candy to do so. It’s sweet that Kevin did that for his sister but at the same time, it kind of is enabling her. And while Jack is dealing with the stirrings of young love, Rebecca has a much harder task ahead of her. She tries to get Randall to be spontaneous and improvise and it leads to a very serious discussion thanks to one of the neighbors telling Randall he was miracle because Rebecca and Jack had lost their third baby. So now, Rebecca has to explain to Randall all on her own that their third baby died but that Randall wasn’t a replacement. It was beautiful and moving.

And as young Randall exhibits somewhat OCD tendencies in his youth, we also see him in the wake of his nervous breakdown in 2008. Beth is one day away from delivering Tess and Randall isn’t exactly doing well. Rebecca is flying in to help out and be there for the birth of her first grandchild. The fact that Miguel didn’t come with her makes me question when they even got together. Randall is trying to install a ceiling fan but it just isn’t working. And Beth is worried that he’s not the same and they’ve just been super polite to each other the last few months. Rebecca insists that Randall is stronger than he appears but Beth doubts it. Things all come to a head when Randall is out getting a replacement fan and Beth goes into labor. It takes some sage advice from the hardware store clerk that snaps Randall out of his haze. I did find it moving how Randall kind of saw parenthood, that at six months gestation babies start to dream and he wasn’t sure he could handle being in charge of a whole person. But in the end, he and Rebecca are there for Beth and do a successful home delivery. A little later, Rebecca has dropped a teacup and she shares with Randall that all of these new milestones in their lives are going to be bittersweet. They’re happy but they will always be sad without Jack.

Meanwhile, Kate is working in a diner while going to night school. She’s got a cute customer who flirts with her and kind of invites her out to a local bar. He’s kind of surprised when she shows up but he then asks her if they can go somewhere. They end up hooking up and Kate reveals that she knows he’s married. But she thought she would just take a chance on something and hope it would feel right afterwards. Clearly it didn’t, although their whole conversation is interrupted by Rebecca calling about Tess. I’ hoping this is the catalyst for Kate and Kevin to team up. I’ve never been a fan of their codependency issues but he’s kind of hopeless without her (even in present day). And speaking of Kevin, he’s still a struggling actor (not having yet landed the Manny) and his roommate just got cast in a big film and he acts kind of ridiculous at a cast party. He’s trying to get the director to let him read for the part his roommate got and he’s just super upset that he’s washing women’s hair while waiting for pilot season. His looks can only get him so far and he knows it. He really is the most insecure of the Big Three. Not to say they don’t all have their issues because they do but even a short time ago (eight years really isn’t that long) he was really not doing well. But then again, Kate’s been sitting in her car at the site of their old house as if Jack would somehow come back if she waited there.

And as everyone gathers to see the new baby, we get a whole lot of blanks filled in. We see Rebecca in both the very distant past (when the Big Three were born) talking to baby Randall and also Rebecca in 2008 talking to baby Tess. We see Kevin and Kate admit their lives suck and we see Kate move out to LA to help Kevin out and we get to see that Miguel is in fact not in the picture at this point because they haven’t spoken since 2000 (based on Miguel’s message to her that notes they haven’t seen each other in eight years). So, that solidifies a few things for me. Rebecca spent much of her life after Jack’s death mourning his loss and Miguel didn’t just swoop in to get his best friend’s wife. The writer said we would eventually not hate Miguel and damn it if they aren’t true to their word.

Fresh off the Boat 4.03: "Kids"

“Did it sound dumb? I’ve only had half a beer, but the voice in my head that criticizes me constantly has gone quiet.”
-Jessica

“Kids” was an episode of “Fresh off the Boat where I could especially sympathize with the Huangs, even if they did take things too far. As a single woman now, as of earlier this month, officially in my mid-30’s, I understand how kids change friendships. I’m not recently out of “kid jail” as the Huangs put it – I’ve never been sentenced in the first place. But plenty of my friends have been, or they’ve made other big life changes that have fundamentally changed their relationships with me. I don’t begrudge them that by any means – the kids of my friends are all awesome, and I want the people I care about to be happy in general. The change, however, is real. I can only imagine that how the Huangs feel, having just gotten to the point where they feel like their lives don’t have to be completely ruled by their kids anymore, when they learn that their best friends are now seriously considering kids. It’s got to be more intense, since they’ve been sequestered for so long and just now feel like they can regain some of their own identities again.

The episode opens with Louis and Jessica hearing a bunch of sodas being opened out in the kitchen. We learn that before he dated Alison, Eddie would make “Soda Suicides” that combined four types of soda and a red Jolly Rancher. He’d then stumble into the living room and spill the sugar bomb all over the couch. Now he’s back to making the diabetes in a cup, so Louis and Jessica want to make sure he doesn’t spill as usual. They enter the living room to find Eddie sitting calmly on the couch, the soda sitting on a coaster on the coffee table. Eddie says it finally occurred to him to put the soda on the table before sitting down. Louis and Jessica are thrilled, considering this a sign that finally all three of their kids are self-sufficient enough where they don’t need constant supervision. They’re finally out of “kid jail.” They realize they can go out for “dinner, and…” instead of just dinner, because they no longer have to rush home to Eddie. Jessica wants to invite Honey and Marvin to dinner and Karaoke right away. She even splurges for a private room and the four microphone package.

Meanwhile, Eddie gets home from school to see Alison of all people hanging out with Evan playing a game. Evan says that he and Alison became friends over the years when she was waiting around for Eddie, because Eddie is always late. Apparently they bonded over, among other things, POGs and Tamagotchis. Alison is a 90s tween/teen after my own heart. I think my POGs and my Tamagotchi are somewhere in my parents’ house to this day. Anyway, when Evan goes to the kitchen to get some dino nuggets, Eddie and Alison have a serious talk. Eddie doesn’t want Alison and Evan to be friends anymore, because it will be too hard to move on from her if she’s always around. Alison agrees that this situation is less than ideal, and she’s mostly been sticking around because she cant bear to let Evan down. As a child of divorce herself, she wants to make sure Evan still feels loved. Eddie, for his part, didn’t realize that Alison’s parents were divorced. Or that her family is Jewish (he asks if she gets double Christmas presents).

Louis and Jessica sit down at Chez Dennis, super excited for their night out. Honey and Marvin are a little late because Marvin had to finish cleaning Joy Behar’s teeth. Marvin says they can’t stay out late, though, because he’s having a medical procedure done the next day. He’s getting his vasectomy reversed because Honey really wants to have a baby. You can almost hear the record scratch at that moment. Jessica, who is, as you’ll recall, very happy to finally be sprung from Kid Jail, asks Honey if she’s sure she wants a kid at this point. Jessica emphasizes how great it is to finally not have to constantly mind children. Honey seems to think pinching baby legs and buying baby hats will outweigh all the negatives. Honey and Marvin leave early to prep for Marvin’s procedure, and Jessica and Louis end up going to karaoke by themselves. They find it’s just not the same without Honey and Marvin there to share in the fun. They just can’t do Paula Abdul justice.

Everyone’s been avoiding Emery because it’s his bad luck year and nobody wants the bad juju. Nobody but Grandma, that is. She is wise enough to use the bad juju for her own gain. First she has Emery “rearrange” breakable ceramics she doesn’t like that she had just been holding on to because they were gifts. He drops them and they shatter, of course. Then she takes him to mah-jongg at senior center, where she thinks Emery’s bad luck powers can take down her arch rival, Cheryl. Emery stands behind Cheryl, and Grandma does indeed win the mah-jongg match. Emery is a little upset at the idea of being used in this way at first, but he brightens when Grandma calls him her good luck charm. She has many enemies, and she needs Emery to help take them down. Because she is seriously the coolest and most badass grandma on television.

Eddie and Alison are supposed to be talking to Evan about how he and Alison can’t be friends anymore, but Eddie is late as per usual. Apparently he saw a red fox and decided to chase it. Anyway, Alison is about to tell Evan the news herself, but she looks at his “best friends” arrow necklace and just can’t do it. Instead, she tells him that she and Eddie are back together. When Eddie does eventually arrive, he’s surprised to hear this. Alison promises to tell Evan the truth, but the second time she tries, she says they’re going to go for a pony ride instead. This is supposed to be a whole play on the divorcing parents stereotype, with Alison and Eddie trying to keep up a happy front as Evan rides the pony. Evan doesn’t have a clue anything is wrong.

Afraid of losing their best friends, Louis and Jessica offer to drive Marvin to his procedure. They make a pit stop at the park on the way, though. Marvin remarks on how many homeless people there seem to be in the par, but then Jessica points out that they’re actually just all exhausted parents. She reminds Marvin, who has been through parenthood once already, how difficult raising a child is. He said that with Nicole, Nicole’s mom did most of the work, but he knows that won’t fly with Honey. Honey will expect him to actually parent. Louis and Jessica drop Marvin off at the outpatient clinic. When he thinks they aren’t looking, he walks past the door and on to a city bus. Louis and Jessica celebrate their victory. Jessica re-books her favorite karaoke room (complete with four microphone package) and everything.

Eddie, Alison, and Evan arrive home from their trip to the park, and Evan’s got a big chocolate ice cream cone. Alison tries to tell Evan the truth, but eventually Eddie has to do the job. He is sorry he tried to cut Alison out. They aren’t together anymore, but he doesn’t want to forget Alison, either. He wants Alison and Evan to stay friends, and he hopes to be Alison’s friend too. Evan’s very angry about the lies, though. So angry that he smears his chocolate ice cream into the nice white couch Jessica took out of storage once she thought the kids wouldn’t ruin it. She and Louis stare at the couch stain at the end of the episode, angry that they still can’t have nice things.

While Jessica is happily talking about rebooking karaoke, Honey storms over and says that Marvin no longer wants a baby. Jessica thinks that they should all try to have fun to forget about the argument. Honey and Marvin, however, turn karaoke into a karaoke fight. She sings “All that She Wants” (Ace of Bass is very mid-late 90s), and he sings “Respect.” Then they storm out of the karaoke room. Jessica and Louis do eventually regret not better supporting their friends, and they stop by Honey and Marvin’s house to apologize. This leads Marvin to say that he thinks Honey would be a great mom, but he’s not sure if he’s ready for his life to change again. Honey says she’s scared too, but she thinks they can make it work together. And so the Honey and Marvin baby train is back on course.