Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Fresh off the Boat 4.08: "The Vouch"

“In Dan’s defense, Enya’s voice has been known to summon whales.”

This particular episode of “Fresh off the Boat” really focused on Louis and Jessica’s relationship, particularly the extent to which they do or do not support each other in their endeavors, and silly as those endeavors may seem. Jessica advocates for supporting one’s spouse no matter what, but I’m not sure if that’s always the best policy. Yes, Cattleman’s Ranch has worked out way better than Jessica thought it would, however I would want someone who loved me to let me know if they thought I was doing something that would have really negative consequences or just be a major embarrassment. I wouldn’t want them to harp on it too much, but waring me, and then maybe supporting me if I decided to do it anyway, would be ideal.

Anyway, the subject over which Jessica and Louis have a disagreement in this episode is Jessica’s novel-in-progress, “The Case of the Knife to the Brain,” featuring Jennifer Hong. I love how many people, including the “Fresh off the Boat” creative team know that Jennifer is the alternative name someone named Jessica would use and vice versa. Late 70s/ early 80’s uncreatively named ladies unite! Anyway, Jessica is suffering from some writer’s block while working on her book. Evan is the one who actually identifies the problem, because apparently had writer’s block when writing the HOA bylaws. When he finds out about it, Louis tries to encourage Jessica to keep writing through it, which is actually being supportive when I think about it.

Eddie and his friends are listening to a Busta Rhymes album, and unfortunately for them, the CD ends, and nobody feels like getting up to change it. Conveniently, they see an add for a 300 CD changer for $300. They realize they can make the purchase if they each chip in $60. Understandably, the other boys are a little skeptical that Eddie has $60, but Eddie swears he’s good for it. He then immediately goes and tries to borrow the money from his brothers. The boys buy the CD player and set it up in Eddie’s room. When they turn it on, it starts playing the soundtrack to “The Lion King.” This is the work of Evan and Emery. They believe that since they chipped in money for the thing, they deserve a few of the 300 slots. All the boys but Eddie agree, and they all want their own dedicated slots, too.

Louis is kind of freaking out because Kenny Rogers is going to be visiting the restaurant. He’s trying to figure out a gift for Kenny, and he’s torn between a motion pen and a drawing of a cow and a chicken. Meanwhile, Jessica has finally finished her book and is quite proud of it. So proud of it that she wants Louis to read it all that night. She’s on a creative high, but Louis is preoccupied with the Kenny Rogers visit and has a lot of trouble getting through the book. It turns out, for the record, that the killer was Jennifer Hong herself. Jessica got the idea when Louis told her not to be her own worst enemy. Louis clearly doesn’t love the book, but he tells Jessica it’s great.

Louis has successfully wrapped up the pen for Kenny in a way that doesn’t give away the fact that it’s a pen, so he’s riding high. Jessica harshes his buzz, however, by asking him to give Kenny the manuscript for her book. Apparently Kenny wrote a book, so Jessica thinks he must have an “in” in the publishing world. Louis reluctantly agrees. Louis consults Marvin and Honey, who point out that Jessica is always blunt herself, so she could probably handle a real critique of her manuscript. Marvin and Honey don’t particularly want to read it themselves, though, so they send copies to the other HOA ladies, and they all hate it. After they give their feedback, Jessica throws out the copies of the manuscript she made for all of them and swears she won’t change a word because they’re just jealous.

Meanwhile, in Eddie’s room, the boys load up the CD player with all their picks. When the first turn the machine on, an Enya album plays, which is obviously a nightmare (I’ve disliked Enya probably since around the time this episode takes place). Then one of Evan’s audio books about the Revolutionary War plays, which Eddie thinks is even worse. Since they all have such different tastes, the boys think they’re going to have to move the CD player between all their houses so they can each have some time with it. Eddie demands that he at least be allowed to choose the music while it’s in his room, and the rest of the boys all leave in response. When the music starts playing, it’s Enya again, of course. Then it starts playing that audio book again, and it gets Eddie thinking. He takes a liking to George III, of course. He basically wants to be a benevolent dictator of music (although George III wasn’t exactly benevolent, obviously). Eddie makes the pitch to his brothers, stressing that music has always been his thing. Emery, however believes that it’s time for the CD player to “shuffle expectations,” and Evan throws in a “no taxation without representation.” The situation continues to devolve from there. The boys say they will each have an equal say in the music played on the CD player from now on. Then really loud rock comes on and only one of them likes it.

Louis freaks out a bit as Kenny approaches the restaurant, but the visit ends up going well, and the men end up bonding over rattlesnake boots of all things. When Kenny leaves, Jessica rushes in and asks if Louis gave Kenny the book. Louis says Kenny read a few pages and said crime novels aren’t his thing. Jessica then reveals that she actually put an instruction manual, not the manuscript, in the envelope she gave Louis, so she now knows that Louis didn’t give the manuscript to Kenny. Louis finally owns up to the truth and tells Jessica he didn’t like her book. Jessica is pissed because she’s supported Louis in the past even when she thought he had a bad idea (like Cattleman’s). Louis ends up mailing the manuscript to Kenny with a very nice letter, and Jessica is happy. At the end of the episode, they get a letter back from Kenny saying he loved the book.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

This Is Us 2.18: “The Wedding”

“I’ve been holding onto that feeling for a long time now, you being with me. But Dad, I’m getting married today and I’ve gotta make room for Toby. I’ve gotta let go.”
- Kate

Well, Pearson clan, we’ve arrived at another season finale and as the episode title indicates, we are finally getting Kate and Toby’s wedding! Before we get there, though, we get a sort of “what if” scenario where Rebecca and Jack are renewing their wedding vows after forty years and old Jack got me teary-eyed. We get to hear Jack talk about when he and Rebecca started Big Three Homes and it’s just so bittersweet to see what could have been. We also get a reprise of “Moon Shadow” which is really sweet.

In the present, Randall and Kevin are on wedding duty and handling everything from wedding favors (which Randall is racing to finish) to the caterer and everything in between. In short, both Pearson men are going to drive themselves and everyone else batty. Then again, so is Kate. They are having Jack’s urn by the guestbook and she wants to wear her dad’s Daytona shirt as her “something old”. She’s a bit obsessive and totally panics when she can’t find the shirt. We are also finally getting some needed backstory on Toby by meeting his parents and they are a trip. Rebecca is also fretting about not wanting to ruin Kate’s big day and Miguel shares his feelings of being left out in the family.

While this should all be a happy occasion (neuroses aside) except that Deja has apparently turned into a mega brat. Shawna has officially terminated her parental rights and Deja has given the Pearsons attitude. Randall and Beth even have to take a moment to share their concerns about her future before they can head off to the wedding. It’s nice to see them doing little Beth-and-Randall couple things like that. It adds to the layers of their relationship. I hope we get more Beth next season. We do get to meet Beth’s sister Zoe who is taking photos. When they all get there, Deja is not impressed. I do hope her attitude changes with time. I understand the heartbreak she’s suffering with her mother permanently stepping out of her life. Beth and her sister have a chat about Beth’s fears and how Deja is acting. Zoe offers to talk to her, having been the angry kid. We learn that Zoe was left with Beth’s family by her mom at a young age and she was angry and treated her family in a similar way that Deja is acting.

Kevin and Randall try to find replacements for Jack’s shirt but nothing is going to work. Kate thinks she’s got an idea to replace it and goes to the ice cream shop they went to at the cabin. She’s disappointed to learn it’s been sold and they don’t have the ice cream flavor Jack ate. Randall and Kevin go off in search of Kate when Rebecca’s calls to Kate keep going to voicemail. The guys’ game of “what if” doesn’t have the same effect as Beth and Randall, although it allowed them to get out some of their insecurities as brothers. Kate ends up calling Rebecca to tell her that she’s been having this dream about Jack and Rebecca’s vow renewal. It’s all sweet until Kate reveals that Toby isn’t in the dreams.

Speaking of Toby, his parents show up in his room and try to talk him out of marrying Kate. They think she’s unstable and that he’s catering to her too much. They worry he’s going to spiral out of control and become deeply depressed like with his last wife. I really hope Kate doesn’t abandon Toby at the altar. They’ve gone through so much to get to this point. They deserve to be happy together. Thankfully, Kate doesn’t run. She goes to share a much-needed chat with Jack at their spot outside the cabin. She says she’s carried him with her for so long but she has to make room for Toby now. Kevin and Randall find her and let her have her time with Dad before getting to the nuptials. And hey, Zoe’s talk with Deja had a good effect. She’s I n a dress with some lip gloss!

Before Kate can walk down the aisle, she has to reconcile with Rebecca and I’m so glad that they have finally made their peace. Rebecca felt she was always in Kate’s way but Kate assures her mom that wasn’t the case. She always longed to be like her mom, as a singer, wife and mother. It was beautiful to see. As was Kate and Toby tying the knot while in flashback, we hear Kate ask Jack if she can marry him someday. Jack explains that she’s going to find someone better than him one day and he’ll be there to walk her down the aisle and help celebrate. In a way, he is and it made me cry even more. Both Kevin and Randall’s toasts are heartwarming and wise and beautiful. But as the continued revelry goes on, some things may not be all they appear. Deja—after Toby’s mom told her that she looked like Randall—went out and smashed the windshield of the car. And we catch glimpses of what might be in the future for the Big Three. Kate appears to be dealing with Toby having depression again and Randall and adult Tess are off to see “her”, although Tess isn’t ready. And Kevin and Beth’s cousin are heading Vietnam which makes me wonder how that ties in with Jack’s past. I’m glad that Kate and Toby were married and it felt, as one would expect with This Is Us, that Jack was there with everyone. It’s going to be a long six months until we get more time with our favorite TV family. I’m just thankful for the ride.

Lucifer 3.17: “Let Pinhead Sing!”

“I know what you’re doing. Our bomb scare made you realize just how dangerous this job is and that you and I could lose each other.”
- Chloe

This week finds our duo pulled into the world of divas and big shows. They are called to the scene when a woman is killed on stage at a show. Apparently, someone shot the victim (who was a backup dancer that had switched places with the actual singer) with a firework. Lucifer decides he is going to take Chloe out of his orbit and spotlight and starts focusing on random people. All it does is annoy Chloe and make Lucifer look like a phony. Although he does get to use his powers on a back-up singer who apparently quit because she wants to rival the starlet, Azara. Didn’t make a ton of sense but whatever. Ella does some digging through social media and found a fan who was granted a VIP pass to show the night of the murder. He’s kind of super stalker-y.

When Chloe and Lucifer find him dead and a suicide note on hand, Lucifer assumes the case is closed. But it quickly turns out the guy was killed before the show so he couldn’t have been their killer. Our duo goes to tell Azara that she’s still in danger. She doesn’t believe them until someone starts shooting. Knowing that she needs protecting, Lucifer offers to guard Azara at his penthouse. Chloe only agrees because it’s an unexpected move. Chloe does bring in the manager because it was his gun used in the attack but he denies responsibility. He also points out that lots of managers have insurance policies on their talent (trying to belie Chloe’s suspicion about the one he took out on Azara).

We also have some continued drama on the Maze and Linda front as well as Cain moping about. Let’s focus on the more interesting of these subplots first. Linda tries to make amends with Maze by buying a big ax (and gift wrapping it). That doesn’t work obviously. Then, while in a session with Charlotte, our reformed bad actor offers to mediate between Linda and Maze. Linda starts out being apologetic and saying she doesn’t have any grievances but then gets fired up, claiming Maze called dibs on a guy she doesn’t even like. Which definitely doesn’t seem fair. But Linda points out that she gave up this one guy that she liked for her friendship with Maze. Maze still isn’t getting it or willing to let go of her anger and hurt feelings. In the end, she breaks the axe.

Meanwhile, Cain has turned to strumming a guitar and trying to sing his blues away. Someone really ought to tell Tom Welling he cannot sing. Especially in an episode where you’ve got a decent female vocalist and Tom Ellis. It was painful to listen to Cain croon. I nearly hit the fast-forward button when he started the second time (after Ella tried and failed to cheer him up). Dan’s attempt goes about as well as expected (read: total failure). And then Amenediel shows up and that just makes things worse. Amenediel thinks because Cain has given up and is no longer allied with Lucifer that he’s passed his test.

Azara sneaks out of Lucifer’s penthouse and down to Lux (after trying to seduce Lucifer) and starts singing “I Will Survive”. The song felt a little on the nose to be honest, although it did get Tom to sing as well which is always nice. I think he enjoys that part of the show, especially getting to play a character with all kinds of talents. Their little duet ends and Azara’s friend and social media person brandishes a knife. She’s the real killer and she wanted Azara all to herself. She’s been in love with the singer since high school and she just couldn’t stand being on the road in the spotlight for years on end (which is what Azara wanted). Chloe tries to talk the woman down but Lucifer ends up tackling her to keep her from using the knife on herself. That of course means that Lucifer gets the knife in his chest. He’ll survive (no pun intended) although it’s rather unfortunate Chloe was there making it worse. It does present a scene for Amenediel to comment on to Cain though. If Lucifer can find happiness with Chloe, then maybe Cain can find that, too. He sets his sights on Chloe and I almost punched my phone screen because we don’t need another love triangle. It was bad enough a couple seasons ago with Dan. This is just a tired and worn out plot device and I’m really getting tired of the writers dragging things out with Lucifer and Chloe. Just let them get together already!

Chloe gets VIP passes to Azara’s rescheduled show and Cain invites himself before Lucifer has a chance to do so. In the end, Lucifer goes to Linda and admits he’s made a big mistake in pushing Chloe away. Now he’s going to have to fight he world’s first murderer for the woman he loves (even if he’s not willing to fully admit it). While this episode did move some of the plots along a little bit, it felt a lot like a filler episode. And I am not pleased with the triangle reveal. Then again, I haven’t been super into the whole Cain storyline at all. Or maybe just not the way they have been presenting it. Last week was interesting with Abel. Continue that storyline. Show us the brothers getting to know each other after all these eons and see if they can find some common ground. Don’t make him Lucifer’s romantic rival. Because the show is called Lucifer and you know he’s going to win in the end. I just worry that in an attempt to keep her, Cain is going to reveal Lucifer’s secret and for whatever reason Chloe will believe him and it will drive her and Lucifer apart.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

This Is Us 2.17: “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life”

“The next time you find a bed that feels even a little safe, don’t blow it.”
- Raven

Much like last year’s seventeenth episode gave us insight into Dr. K and his backstory, it appears we will be getting a similar structure this year with Deja. We begin where all good stories do: at the start and we see Deja born to a 16-year-old mother who is definitely not ready to be a mom. As we see Shawna in labor we also catch glimpses of Rebecca, Beth and Randall’s biological mom as well which I thought was a nice contrast. We also get a little montage as Deja—age three or four—is read Goodnight Moon by her great-grandma. We see Randall read it to his girls and Rebecca read it to her kids and young Jack reading it to Nicky. When Shawna’s grandma comes home late one night to find Shawna out and Deja by herself, the older women have words. Shawna, now 19, wishes she was out with her friends at college instead of taking care of a child. Her grandma warns that she won’t be around forever to take care of them and we see her pass away (I’m guessing a heart attack). As Shawna and little Deja mourn, we catch glimpses of William morning his girlfriend’s passing, Randall mourning William and Rebecca mourning Jack. I like how we are seeing how all of these people are connected by these events and emotions (in addition to their interwoven tales).

We fast forward to the age when we first met Deja and it is clear that she has had to take on a lot of the responsibility of raising herself. We see her making breakfast for her mom and paying bills for her (in contrast to Rebecca and the kids making pizza and William and the girls making scrambled eggs). It’s Shawna’s birthday and Deja wants to make a special recipe for dinner but ends up cutting herself while trying to open a can. She (rightfully) freaks out but gets herself to the hospital where she’s treated and introduced to Linda. Shawna shows up a while later, claiming her phone died while she was out celebrating her birthday. Clearly, this woman doesn’t have her child’s interests at heart.

Next, we find Deja in one of her foster homes. She’s been in the system for a year now and while things may seem okay superficially (she’s got a foster sister she likes), the family is abusive, especially when the girls are caught shoplifting make up for the school dance. Deja speaks up to the social worker and her foster sister blames her for them being separated and for having to be bounced around again. I can’t imagine the upheaval kids in the system must feel. I was briefly involved in the foster system (my parents fostered an older girl when I was in early high school) and it was a big adjustment for our family. I know it was a big change for her, too. Especially when she ended up leaving us. I’m really glad the writers of this show don’t shy away from dealing with these types of issues. It really highlights the admirable intentions but also the many flaws of the system. When Deja is eventually reunited with her mother, the happiness is short-lived. Shawn’s new boyfriend, Alonso, moves in and he’s a drunk and not very nice to Deja. In fact, it is his gun that they find in Shawna’s car when she gets pulled over. But, we see Deja meet the Pearsons and begin the journey that will hopefully bring her back into their lives for good.

The next tie Deja and her mom are reunited, it’s the same story. Things start out great and they are doing well and then Shawna starts down her destructive path and they end up evicted and sleeping in the car which is where Beth and Randall find them at the end of the previous episode. My heart broke a little as Deja considered selling her great-grandmother’s broach (and we saw Kevin’s struggle with his dad’s necklace). In the end, though, Deja keeps hold of that memento of her great-grandma. She really has had to grow up so much sooner than children ought to. I’m really rooting for her to get a happy ending with Randall and Beth and the girls. They have so much love to give. As it turns out, Deja may be getting the family she’s longed for. As the Pearsons, Deja and Shawna spend the night together, Shawna slowly realizes how happy being with these people makes her daughter and that it allows her to act like a child for once. She and Beth have a heart to heart while Deja and Randall have one of their own. Deja kind of rambles (though it comes off as sounding rather philosophical) but it’s nice to see her and Randall bond more. When Randall heads downstairs, Shawna is leaving. I am hoping she’s going back to rehab or somewhere to get her life tougher so that she can be there for Deja in a different capacity. I just hope someone remembers to call the social worker in the morning to get this all on the up and up!

As trends go from seasons to season, I like what the writers have done with focusing on a secondary character that touches a lot of our main cast in a deep way. We got to see more about who Deja is and how she came to be the way she is which informs her interactions with the Pearsons. And it showed us that Shawna isn’t all bad. She just doesn’t make very good decisions and never really learned to put her child’s needs above her own. I’m excited to see where the show goes for its second season finale and it’s going to be a long six months until the show returns for season 3 (and hopefully many more years to come).

Lucifer 3.16: “Infernal Guinea Pig”

“Let’s put Abel in this old coot. He gets a second chance at life and you get a chance at death.”
- Lucifer

Lucifer and Cain are trying their hand at resurrection this week as Chloe investigates a bomb that was delivered to a Hollywood producer. It wouldn’t be “Lucifer” if the procedural and the supernatural didn’t mix and hey, we actually progressed some of the smaller plotlines, too. Lucifer has the big idea to go down to Hell and bring Abel’s soul into a recently dead person so that he is technically alive again, hoping that will cure Cain’s ills. Of course, it doesn’t go off as planned. Unfortunately (although it makes for some amusing sight gags), Abel’s soul ends up in the body of the would-be victim of the bomb attack. She gets up and strolls out of the hospital with purpose (apparently those life-threatening injuries don’t mean a thing when you’ve got a new soul in the body). Then again, that does track with Charlotte being possessed by Mom.

So, while Chloe and Dan dig into a potential stalker who just turns out to be a conspiracy theorist who is actually right about a drug cartel connection, Lucifer and Cain head off to look for the newly resurrected Abel. Apparently, Abel’s hell loop involved him partying and eating a lot and always getting killed by Cain. So, they think with their manly parts and find Abel at a roof top pool party. Unfortunately, Amenediel found Abel first and has given her a gun to kill herself so she’ll go back to Hell. That isn’t likely to happen, when the drug cartel hit man pops up and she shoots him. A little later, we also learn that Lucifer’s latest theory—that if Cain gets killed by Abel (making thing seven), the curse will be gone—is dead wrong. Concerned that the drug cartel isn’t finished coming after Abel, Cain sends Chloe and Charlotte in to offer her a plea deal. Which Abel takes really easily.

While all of the craziness is going down, Linda tries to get Charlotte to open up about her trauma and make her patient understand that Linda knows what she’s talking about and that she needs to start her healing process by confronting her personal hell. Charlotte eventually agrees to this (after an interaction with Abel) and we finally learn what her hell loop was: her family being shot to death every morning by a different criminal she helped go free as a defense attorney. I honestly hope that Charlotte is able to move forward and deal with her trauma. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting her to take this kind of a turn and become a sympathetic character after Mom. But I’m liking it.

Speaking of traumatic experiences, Maze is still on the warpath with Amenediel and Lucifer enlists her to keep his angelic big brother occupied while he and Cain try to find a way to remove the curse. This leads to Maze tricking Amenediel and beating him up until he tells her that he doesn’t get why she’s mad when she dumped him and that hurting him won’t make anything better. In fact, it’s just hurting Linda more. Maze, obviously upset, storms off. I really hope the three of them can sort this out because the drama is so petty and ridiculous. I get that Maze is still new to human emotions but she’s been dealing with them long enough she should have some kind of control over them! But, I suppose that’s asking a lot of a demon who up until recently didn’t know she could experience human emotions.

Lucifer soon finds he has a little lack of control over his own feelings when he and Chloe take Abel to the Hollywood producer’s office. A previous visit yielded the nugget that the assistant (whom Abel is now inhabiting) was the only one who could open the desk drawer certain files in it. A little too late, Chloe realizes said file drawer is a trap and is rigged with another explosive. Lucifer is mentally kicking himself for putting Chloe in danger (see: Amenediel is right when he says that there’s more for God to take away from Lucifer if he continues to be defiant). But with a little teamwork and guidance from Cain, Chloe is able to diffuse the bomb and everyone is safe. It turns out the producer was laundering money for the cartel and the assistant found out and thus they tried to kill her. As murder plots go, it’s not super original but with this show, it doesn’t really need to be. Not when we have such heavy mythology going on right now.

So, it’s another case solved but things with Lucifer and Cain are far from settled. Cain still bears his mark and Abel is out in the world. And now, because Lucifer can’t justify putting Chloe in danger, he’s breaking his word to Cain about helping him die. This surprises Cain, seeing as Lucifer never breaks his deals. That’s kind of his whole schtick as the devil. Something tells me that Lucifer isn’t going to completely set up of the line of fire. He’s too invested in seeing his father be snubbed. I’m eager to see how the new dynamic between Cain and Abel develops as well. I understand that they had sibling rivalry but I want to know more about how it developed and why and whether now, after millennia of growth, they can put their angst aside and get along. Maybe see that there have more in common than they thought. And for the love of all things holy, please let Chloe find out the truth about Lucifer. I’m tired of sounding like a broken record but it is well past time that she knows. I mean, she was all jealous that Lucifer and Cain were working together on part of the case. It’s obvious they care about one another and are supposed to be together. So, just do it already! The will-they-won’t-they is getting boring.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Fresh off the Boat 4.07: "The Day After Thanksgiving"

“No one is lonely, Louis. That’s not a thing.” -Jessica After dealing with some computer trouble and things being especially crazy at my new job, it's time for me to get back to recapping! “The Day After Thanksgiving” was an interesting take on the classing Thanksgiving episode of television courtesy of the “Fresh off the Boat” creative team. You’ll recall from previous seasons that the Huangs don’t especially like Thanksgiving, because it usually involves spending time with Jessica’s insufferable sister Connie and her equally insufferable family. Jessica and Louis actually like the day after Thanksgiving better, because that’s when they actually get to do what they want to do. Starting from that point we get a fun, unique Thanksgiving episode that actually reveals a lot about Grandma Huang. I feel like we don’t get to see a ton from her in a typical episode other than a few comedic moments, so I appreciated that this episode delved into her character a bit more. It was also a fun opportunity to see more of George Takei in his role as Bernard the English teacher.

The episode opens with Louis and Jessica going over their Thanksgiving plans. Jessica has already told Connie that they’re not coming to DC for the holiday because, as they did the previous year, they’re going to open the restaurant again. What Louis and Jessica are really looking forward to is the day after Thanksgiving. Louis is planning on taking all the naps. Jessica plans to, along with Honey, dominate Black Friday via a plot that involves using Grandma Huang’s wheelchair. We then fast forward to the actual day after Thanksgiving. The family are all arguing over who is at fault for whatever awful things actually have transpired. Poor Evan is overwhelmed. He’s just sitting at the kitchen table with a blank look singing the “I Love You” song from Barney the Dinosaur. It was hilarious, although I still very much hate Barney. My childhood dog, who was born in 1987, was named Barney, and when I got to about third grade, kids started making fun of me for it, even though he was around before the purple dinosaur.

Grandma Huang, meanwhile, seems to be not doing particularly well in her ESL class. She keeps writing depressing answers on her worksheet, and Louis and Jessica are of course rather judgmental about this. Louis does support his mother, however, by going to an event where everyone from the ESL class recites a movie monologue. Louis and Bernard chat after the event, and Bernard says that the class is ending soon. We then cut to Louis telling Jessica that he has invited Bernard to the Huang family Thanksgiving dinner. The Huangs have been told by Kenny Rogers corporate that they will not be allowed to open the restaurant on Thanksgiving, so their plans are definitely unraveling. Jessica is not happy about Bernard coming to Thanksgiving, because that means she’ll have to cook a full, fancy meal. Louis, however, thinks Bernard could be the cure for Grandma’s loneliness. At first, Jessica is skeptical about Grandma’s relationship with Bernard. She thinks Grandma is just flirting with him to get an A in ESL class. Then Grandma offers to both pay for and cook the meal, so Jessica thinks her feelings must be legit. Jessica tells Honey she thinks this dinner might put Grandma in such a good mood that she’ll let them use the wheelchair for Black Friday.

The B story in this episode is that Evan seems to really want to grow up. He wants to be allowed to go to the school supply store by himself to buy a new three-hole punch, but Jessica won’t allow it. She reminds him that he is still young, even if he did skip a grade. Eddie and Emery offer to take him to the mall, which doesn’t thrill Evan because he can’t buy a three-hole punch there. Eddie gets some fresh new socks, and Evan is unimpressed. The boys see an ad for “I Know What you Did Last Summer,” and Eddie really wants to go see it. Emery, however, is skeptical that they should be taking Evan along. Eddie gets Evan on board by telling Evan he’d still be a little kid if he opted to see “Flubber” instead. Because he is, actually, still a pretty young kid, the movie traumatizes Evan. We see later that he is now scared of just about everything. He thinks the events of the movie are going to happen to him, basically. Eddie and Emery end up watching the Macy’s parade on tape later because the actual Thanksgiving is chaotic, and they convince the now afraid of everything Evan to join them. Evan is really enjoying it, and all is well until the Barney balloon is destroyed and goes down. While that traumatized Evan, I’ll admit I found it a bit satisfying!

Bernard does indeed show up for the Huang family Thanksgiving dinner, and he turns out to be incredibly loud and obnoxious. Louis tells Jessica he wants Bernard to leave, but Jessica wants them to tough it out for a few more hours so she can borrow Grandma’s wheelchair. They return to the kitchen, and Grandma tells them that Bernard had to go because “he was too much.” A very happy Louis starts talking shit about Bernard, and then Bernard himself exits the bathroom. It turns out he “ate too much” and vomited. Then he gives the Huang family an “F” for being rude. Grandma is understandably pissed at Louis and Jessica, and she’s venting her frustration by watching the video of the Barney balloon destruction over and over (a woman after my own heart!). Evan asks her about it, and she wisely says that the scene is like life. Sometimes you’re the balloon, and sometimes you’re the knife. Evan decides to “be the knife” this time around, and he blackmails Eddie and Emery into taking him to the teacher supply store for his three-hole punch.

In the aftermath, Louis and Jessica continue to argue over what happened. Did Grandma really have feelings for Bernard, or what she just trying to get a good grade in her ESL class? Jessica eventually goes to talk to Grandma, because Grandma’s ESL homework says her favorite thing is doing nails with Jessica. Grandma says she likes their girl time, because sometimes the boys are too emotional. She reveals that she really was just buttering up Bernard to get an A in the class after all. The two decide to go Black Friday shopping together, even though most of the sales are over by this point. They delight in the idea that they might see someone get trampled.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

iZombie 4.01: “Are You Ready for Some Zombies?”

“One day they decide to put up a wall and seventy-two hours later we’re living in Bagdad.”
- Blaine

We are back for season 4 and it’s a new world, iZombie fans and honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. A part of me is glad that Liv doesn’t have to hide her visions at all anymore but I kind of liked seeing her have to explain to the uninitiated how she came up with information. But, it does present some interesting issues moving forward in terms of the procedural aspect of the show. Aside from the case of the week, we have some interesting developments with Major and Chase Graves and a little bit with Blaine. Basically, Blaine is now Chase’s lap dog. If he wants to keep his businesses open, he has to feed Graves information. He bitches about this to his dad who is still stuck down a well but Daddy eventually gets free and thinks that Blaine’s voice from above the well was God and now he’s going to lead a zombie religious army or something. Honestly, I’m so ready for him to be gone. I’ll admit, I haven’t really liked a character Robert Knepper has ever played, which probably means he’s good at playing the villain. I just don’t think we really need him running around being crazy zombie guy when we have the general social inequality of humans and zombies and Blaine being a grey hat in all of this. We have enough external factors to act as antagonists that we don’t need Angus, too.

Major is tasked with getting some homeless zombie kids off the streets who’ve been kicked out of their homes by their parents. Ultimately, Chase wants to find more soldiers because they’ve apparently instituted a no scratching rule (punishable by death via guillotine). Major ends up having a soft spot for a couple of the kids and so he selects them to join up. I suspect he chose one of the kids because she’s got two younger zombie siblings who are starving and soldiers get extra brain rations and have access to the vending machine with brains in it. I hope we get to see more of these kids and let them develop some more personalities. Oh, and we learn Ravi’s fate. The cure works … mostly. Every few weeks he turns into a zombie for a few days so he’s working on improving the cure. At present, he’s eaten the brain of a professor who was also apparently a nudist. Lovely. It did provide a few laughs along the way but it was a little unnecessary to pull the "let’s hide his junk behind things” gag twice in relatively short succession.

The case of the week involves a diehard Seattle Seahawks super fan being murdered by being ground up in a giant mixing bowl at the newly established brain packing plant. Because, of course they now have a brain packing plant. Liv eats his brain and becomes nauseatingly annoying with sports and smack talk. She and Clive pay a visit to the widow (and son) and it’s clear that everyone knows that Liv’s hair and pale complexion mean she’s one of the undead. And they aren’t overly excited by that fact. But, the wife points to a guy at work whom her husband had a fierce sports rivalry with that resulted in damaging each other’s cars. They bring the guy in and he’s seen going back to work on security footage even though he said he was at home. He says that someone put brain tubes in his bag and he was going back to return them because the punishment is severe if they’re caught.

Eventually, Liv has a vision of two Filmore Graves soldiers talking about selling brain tubes on the black market. The one guy she could get a sketch of is ID’d by Major but he’s not much use in answering questions because he’s on Shakespearean actor blue brain. We also learn that Blaine is operating a restaurant and he’s also clearly pining after Peyton. Who is now dating a lawyer guy named Derek who seems rather bland. I’d honestly prefer her with either Ravi or Blaine if I had to choose. Liv is super in the zone watching a game (she’s done up in ridiculously elaborate face paint and wig and everything) when Peyton gets home and Peyton has to drag Liv out into the hallway to show her that people are spray painting Z on suspected zombie doors. God, this just brings up images of Nazi Germany … and probably isn’t far from what some people in this country would like to do to their fellow man. But, it gives Liv a breakthrough and they go back to the victim’s house. They discover that there’s a suspected zombie living there and it turns out to be the son. Liv has a vision of the victim finding out (he was super against zombies) and throwing him out. The wife ultimately confesses that her husband made her choose between her husband or her son and so she killed him and framed the guy he had sports beef with. As motives for crimes, it’s relatable. I do find it interesting that the courts have had to consider whether zombie visions are admissible in court and when you have to tell someone you’ve eaten their loved one’s brain and had said vision.

As I said, I have mixed feelings about this episode. Part of me wants to like some of the new dynamics and the openness on the force about working with humans and zombies. But the parts that are the darker side of society are hitting a little too close to reality right now. I’m interested to see how Ravi progresses with the zombie cure and how that effects the story overall. I also am looking forward to seeing Clive and Bozzio work out their relationship now that she is a zombie, too.

This Is Us 2.16: “Vegas, Baby”

“Everyone thinks it was always Kevin and Kate. But the year after Dad died it was Kate and Randall eating hot pockets and watching Mom pretending to be okay.”
- Kate

After the weight of the last few episodes, having a relatively lighter one was nice. I mean, there was still some deep, emotional stuff happening in the present-day storyline but on the whole the premise of the episode was lighter because Kate and Toby were having their bachelor/bachelorette parties in Vegas. But, not everyone was excited to be going, namely Randall. Before we jet off to Vegas, we see that Deja stopped by to ask for money to pay the overdue heating bill in her apartment. This cranks Randall’s anxiety level up to 11 because he’s worrying about what to do if she needs them while they are away.

I was honestly a little worried about Kevin’s sobriety in Sin City and it seemed he was a little as well. He gets to the hotel and asks the housekeeper to do him a favor: the next day when she comes in to clean, she should count the 27 bottles of booze in the mini bar and if they are all still there, she gets a big tip. I like that he’s trying to find ways to keep himself accountable. But as he and the guys go out to dinner to celebrate Toby, things take a turn. He sees one of his movie co-starts who tells him that she was completely cut from the movie. This leads to Kevin spiraling a bit about whether he’s been cut out, too. He begs off the rest of the night and Randall soon bails as well when he gets a call from Deja. She’s just checking up on him but he’s still worried.

Over with the women, Beth is letting loose, complete with going up on stage at Magic Mike Live. Of course, as Randall is wandering the casino, he see the show and he and Beth get into a huge blowout fight that started when they arrived in Vegas and Randall basically told Beth she has no heart because she’s so detached from the whole Deja situation. As painful as it was to see them go at each other (although they even fight kind of polite which is adorable), it is a nice reminder that while their marriage is strong, they still have struggles. I did feel a little bad for Kate whose party they were ruining but as all the yelling is going on, she blurts out that she thinks that Randall chose his own family and wife over his sibling lately. This leads to a nice heart to heart with Randall and Kate where she says that she loved spending time with him as a kid, especially after Jack died and they binged Sex and the City. And she also reminds Randall that Toby just wanted to hang with his brothers-in-law. So Randall and Kevin head back to grab Toby and take him to the seedy part of Vegas like he wanted and they all have a heart to heart where Toby reveals that he has a younger brother (as in 10 years younger) who clearly didn’t want to spend time with him because he didn’t come to the party. If we do get a wedding in the final two episodes I hope we get to meet Toby’s family. But he manages to get Randall and Beth back on track and Kevin finds out that the movie was restricted but he’s still in it because it’s all about the father/son dynamic he and Sylvester Stallone had. We also get probably our first Kate and Beth scene, too where Kate admits she was intimidated by Beth because she was so successful and had her life together when Kate was a mess. It was a nice scene between the two of them and it also gave us a little more insight into how both women tick. And in the end, it seems Randall’s anxiety was justified because when he and Beth get back home, they go to check on Deja and find that she and her mother are no longer living in the apartment and as they leave, they spot them sleeping in their car. My heart broke in that instant because as much as I want Deja back with the Pearson clan (and I suspect she will be) it really shows that her mother just isn’t capable of providing the stability and environment that Deja needs. She may love her daughter but she doesn’t have her best interests at heart.

In the past, we get a peek at Jack and Rebecca’s first and fourth wedding anniversaries which are equally sweet and involve grand gestures on Jack’s part. Because of course that’s Jack. But they’ve now been married for probably nine or ten years based on the kids’ ages and they just want a quiet year and to do nothing in the gift giving department. As Jack makes breakfast, Kevin asks why Jack isn’t doing anything and then the kids decide that they want to throw their parents an anniversary party. And Kevin’s going to cook Cornish hens. Or at least he’s going to try but Jack’s inattentiveness thwarts the endeavor because the oven wasn’t turned on. It was also nice to see young Kate and Randall bonding, too. It seems that Kevin’s meltdown over the uncooked hens was related to his fear his parents were getting divorced since they didn’t want to celebrate their anniversary. Whether that’s true or whether we are seeing the beginning of his acting chops (he does calm down really fast), it’s kind of hard to tell. But, in the end the kids give their parents a nice night on the roof watching a meteor shower. And of course, Jack can make looking at falling space rocks romantic as hell. He says meteors are always out there and you just have to look for them. And that he sees Rebecca every day. God, can the man get any sweeter honestly?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lucifer 3.15: “High School Poppycock”

“Making people tell the truth is kinda my job.”
- Maze

I have to admit, the case of the week storyline this week wasn’t my favorite, although we did get to see a few interactions between characters that were kind of funny. The victim is a popular novelist who had just finished the last book in the series after 5 years of writers’ block. Her editor finds her (I’m pretty sure editors don’t make house calls in the real world but whatever). I will admit, I liked the cover art for the books. I know they are fake but whoever designed them did a great job sticking to the genre! Lucifer—after paying a visit to Linda to try and break his mental block on finding a way to remove Cain’s curse and finally help him shuffle off the mortal coil—badgers the editor on how the writer was so successful in getting past her block. This is a running theme for the episode and its rather ridiculous (especially when he tries and fails to use the improv technique of “yes and”). There’s also the subplot of investigating a super fan who got into online with the author. But he comes clean and says he shouldn’t have pushed her to be faster in writing. And he even got to help her out with the last book thanks his massive amounts of fanfiction. Yeah, I’m fairly certain most authors don’t want to read fanfiction. But hey, what do I know. The fan does say that the author didn’t want to use what he’d written but he did say she thought what he’d done helped her get back to the story she wanted to tell.

When the gang figures out that the author’s characters and situations are based on her real high school classmates, they begin to put together their suspect list. And the best part is they are all in town for the class reunion. Some undercover work is required and they pick a loner guy who no one liked that went to college abroad. However, he’s actually RSVP’d so they sic Maze on him so that Lucifer can impersonate him. And boy do things get weird. See, Linda and Amenediel are still sneaking around with their relationship and Maze decides (with some advice from Trixie) to get the truth out of them, even though we as the viewers already know that she knows they are together. So, she sets Linda up on a blind date with the real guy who RSVP’d and lures Amenediel there as her own date. She just gets all up in Amenediel’s space and licks him at one point. This is enough for Linda to come clean but Maze still gets angry and storms off. Ultimately, Linda realizes lying to her friend and hurting her just aren’t who Linda is. So, she and Amenediel break up. I’m kind of sad to see them break up. I get why Maze is hurt (and she is still new to human emotion) but they were a nice pairing. It also gave Amenediel something to do other than traipse after Lucifer trying to clean up his messes. He hasn’t really had much to do this season.

As preparation for the reunion, Chloe reads all of the authors books and she gets super into them, even staying up all night. She didn’t really have a high school experience as she was stuck with tutors on film sets most of her childhood. So, she is really digging into all the drama and gossip. It’s kind of funny to see her pointing all the people at the reunion and acting as if they are the characters. Lucifer has to actually be the mature one at the reunion. I mean, sure, he’s still desperately trying to figure out how to break his block but he’s less inclined to get all sappy over the people that are their suspects. It quickly becomes clear that none of the group are the killer because they all snuck into the school pool on the night of the murder to party. And they didn’t invite the loner guy. It was amusing to see Lucifer and Chloe try to get that alibi out of them before Lucifer deduces their whereabouts. This, obviously makes them suspect that he is the killer. He admits to being with the victim but denies he’s the killer. He was going to be the hero of the last book and everyone was going to get along. I have to agree, for a sci-fi story, having it all wrap up so nicely and everyone is happy and getting along seems both boring and lame. At least for the genre. It seems that the editor thought so as well. Chloe and Lucifer manage to catch him trying to kill the super fan (he apparently wrote a crazy robot overlord ending that would have done better). Lucifer gets really angry when the editor doesn’t give him anything helpful to break through his block. But hey, they’ve got the guy, even if the manuscript will never see the light of day again (yeah, she wrote on an old-school typewriter).

By episode’s end, Lucifer has asked Chloe to stop by Lux and he gives her the prom she never had (even though she admits she likes being the responsible adult type). They share a sweet dance and she asks him to tell her what his problem is and so he does. Of course, she doesn’t believe him but she does suggest that he needs to look to the future, no the past. But, that trigger an idea in our devil. He’s going to undo what happened to bring about the curse in the first placed. I’m not sure how he’s going to manage to resurrect Abel, seeing how crazy the Mom situation was but I’m sure he’s going to give it a go. I wonder how Cain is going to react to this suggestion of seeing his brother again after all these millennia?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Mayor 1.08: "Grey Christmas"

“Fort Grey does not have a slush fund. If they did, I’d be skiing right now.”
-Ed Gunt

It turned out, unfortunately, that the first holiday episode of “The Mayor” was also the series finale. I will definitely miss the show. It wasn’t perfect, and it was still finding its footing, but it had heart, and as a public administrator myself, it always made me think. The holidays provided the perfect backdrop for the types of stories the “Mayor” creative team likes to do. Courtney wants to do right by his city, and he eventually succeeds, although he stumbles a bit on the way. All of this takes place as part of an homage to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” It’s not an event-for-event remake, but it is definitely inspired by the Dickens novel. I love “A Christmas Carol,” although I do think the tributes can be kind of played out. Overall, though, if the show had to end so soon, this was a sweet note to end on.

The episode opens with a funny cold open, where Courtney and Dina are putting up their Christmas tree at their apartment. TK and Jermaine arrive on the scene, and they’re a bit upset that the tree has been mostly decorated without them. There’s still the star to put on the top of the tree, though, and there’s a funny bit where the tree falls down as Courtney is placing the star. Although, as someone who has had more than one Christmas tree fall on them (I was the designated Christmas tree decorator when I was growing up), maybe it wasn’t all that funny thinking about it!

Courtney goes to a holiday event at the local homeless shelter. He has fond memories of volunteering there as a kid, and he’s dismayed to see that the party has devolved to a fake Christmas tree, pizza, and nothing but toothbrushes for presents. Courtney makes one of his trademark big speeches and promises everyone at the shelter that he will figure out how to give them a Christmas they’ll never forget. Val likes the idea, but she doesn’t think the City can afford it. She suggests they try to get an advance on the 2018 budget, but the City Council President needs to approve it. Getting an advance on the next year’s budget seems like an odd concept to me (I guess we’d probably just have the agency book it as an unprovided for at close-out, then introduce a deficiency appropriation to pay for it the next year), but it brings in Ed Gunt, so I’m good with it. Gunt, of course, refuses to authorize the advance. To rub salt in the wound, he also says that Courtney hasn’t actually done much as Mayor so far. There aren’t scores of new jobs, for instance. Courtney starts to believe Gunt, and he wonders if maybe he hasn’t been hard enough on himself.

Despondent and wondering if his work thus far has really made a difference, Courtney falls asleep in the rain while sitting on one of his covered bus benches. When he wakes up, however, the cover is gone. Dina pulls up in a mail truck that is all decorated, and she’s wearing an angel outfit. She says she’s from the Department of Salvation, and she’s here to show Courtney what Fort Grey would be like if he hadn’t been elected. Mayor. So the episode is really kind of an “It’s a Wonderful Life”/ “A Christmas Carol” mash-up homage. In addition to uncovered bus benches, the bus driver strike is still going on. It’s been going on for months and shows no sign of ending. Ed Gunt is Mayor, of course, and he’s being super devious. He managed to create a slush fund for himself in the City budget, and he hurt himself on a ski trip paid for by said slush fund. Val works for him too, of course, and to say he doesn’t bring out the best in her would be an understatement. She’s deep into a gerrymandering plan so that Gunt will be guanranteed reelection.

On the more personal side of things, TK and Jermaine are not doing well without Courtney as a more constant presence in their lives. They started a pay phone business which is, shocker, not going well. TK has been forced to sell his car. The reason Courtney hasn’t been around much is because he’s been on tour. His whole plan to capitalize on the publicity from the election has actually been kind of working. Chatting with TK and Jermaine, our Courtney learns that in addition to the bus strike, there’s also a garbage strike, and there is also no school music program. Thanks to Gunt owning a paving company, though, the city roads are fantastic. Worst of all, the homeless shelter is closed, and families have nowhere to go for Christmas. Dina points out to Courtney that he always wants what’s best for the city, and he inspires people. Courtney has his epiphany, so Dina considers her job done and drives off.

Courtney wakes up, and he’s super excited about his bus bench cover being back. He’s so happy that he’s yelling – pretty much like Scrooge post- Ghost of Christmas Future. He goes on a news broadcast to tell everyone how happy he is. He promises that he’s going to give the homeless shelter a good Christmas after all. And then he’s going to fix all the potholes. Courtney’s staff shows up at the shelter, prepared to make snowflake decorations. Dina shows up with the Rose family Christmas tree to replace the fake one. Then a bunch of other people start showing up with presents and food. Even Gunt shows up. He’s injured in this timeline, too, but it’s because of falling down the stairs, not a City-funded ski trip. Everyone sings Joy to the World together, and it’s all warm fuzzies. And of course, because it’s Lea Michele, and she hasn’t gotten to sing on this show yet, Val has a kick-ass solo in the middle of the song.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

This Is Us 2.15: “The Car”

“I know in my bones today’s not the day the world gives us bad news. Today, this beautiful perfect day, is the day that my beautiful, perfect wife finds out that she’s okay.”
- Jack

Much like “Moon Shadow”, this episode took place exclusively in the past (although at different points in the past). The “present” storyline you could say was the family preparing for and attending Jack’s funeral. The through line of this episode (as one might guess by the title) is the family’s car. When the Big Three are eight or nine, we see the family go and buy the car. The kids are all obsessed with it but Jack and Rebecca know that it’s a bit out of their price range. But, Jack being Jack, behind closed doors manages to convince the salesman to help them out so they can get the car.

The day of the funeral, we see Rebecca waiting for the kids in the car. She’s insisting on getting to the cemetery early to be there when Jack’s urn arrives. She’s very protective of it and we later learn the reason for that. I found it interesting that at the funeral, Miguel gave the eulogy and Randall said a few words. Kevin and Kate are both out of sorts for different reasons. I think Kate is feeling guilty about the dog and Kevin is just pissed at the fact he wasn’t there. Kevin loses it even more when he sees that Randall is wearing Jack’s watch. The boys start arguing and Kate has to break then up. In another flashback, we see Jack teaching Randall how to drive. Kevin’s in the back seat and yet again the boys start arguing. So, Jack makes them walk home. When they get back, he marvels at how they can’t get along like he and his brother did. They both seem surprised by the reference because Jack doesn’t talk about him much. My hunch was confirmed that Nickie died in Vietnam (and it also sounds like we are going to get more of that story before the season’s out!). It was nice to see Jack open up to his boys a little bit about the pain from his past, even if it was just a cursory summation of his life pre-Rebecca.

As Rebecca goes to get some air, we see Kate asking her how Jack died and we also see the beginning of Kate constantly blaming herself for Jack’s death because he went back into the house. We also get a glimpse of teenage Kate and Jack. She’s snuck out of school to try and get to a record shop where Alanis Morsette is signing. Jack picks her up off the side of the road and they go together. They even bond over Bruce Springsteen music! Jack also urges Kate not to give up on writing music. From last week, we know that his death totally stopped her from pursuing this dream which is very sad. I like to hear Kate sing. And at an unspecified time (but likely when the Big Three are teenagers given Jack’s facial hair) we learn that Rebecca had a health scare where she thought she might have a brain tumor and Jack brought her to his favorite tree (which became his favorite when they got the good news that she was fine). He’s just so sweet and he seems to know that she’s going to be okay (and that the car was going to see the family through a lot of ups and downs and memories made).

The one interaction in the “present” that we all knew was coming and I was looking forward to, was Dr. K and his new wife paying their respects. We learned that back when the kids were young, Jack would just show up at Dr. K’s office unannounced looking for advice and help because he had no clue what he was doing and Dr. K was so wise. I liked that we (and Rebecca) got a glimpse of that part of Jack. But it totally fits with who Jack is (and was). It was also lovely to see Dr. K and Rebecca share some private moments together, where he reminds her that she made a really sweet pitcher of lemonade out of everything she’d been given but that she was going to be okay. I’m so happy with how much he’s managed to stay involved in their lives, even though it’s totally random. I also like that we get to see that he’s moved on with his life. I’d almost forgotten that he’d found a new love in his life in a previous episode.

And as the episode comes to a close, Rebecca takes the kids to Jack’s favorite tree and they reminisce a little and spread some of Jack’s ashes. Rebecca promises that they are going to be okay and that she wants the kids to just be kids. And hey, Jack had bought them all Bruce Springsteen tickets for that night and so they go as a family to the concert to celebrate and honor Jack. I kind of wish we’d gotten to see a little of the concert but that would have been super expensive to try and get Springsteen there (and to make him look age appropriate for the 90s).

I did cry a few times this episode but not nearly as much as the previous episode. I felt like we got closure on the loss of Jack and it leaves us open for all kinds of new adventures into his past and the lives of the rest of the Pearson clan. I’m sad we are going on a little hiatus before the final three episodes of the season (damn you, Olympics!) but it gives us some time to get over our loss and get ready for all that’s to come. Besides, we’ve got Deja back with Beth and Randall and Kevin and Kate have to have some new and exciting stuff coming down the line!

Lucifer 3.14: “My Brother’s Keeper”

“You put this mark on me. Now you’re gonna help me get rid of it.”
- Cain

A lot happened in this episode and yet it only moved the plot along the tiniest of fractions. We did get to learn a little more about Ella’s family along the way, though which played into Lucifer’s present drama with his own family. He and Cain are still on their quest to find a way to kill Cain and Lucifer thinks Amenediel may be able to help, seeing as he’s the brainy one. But Amenediel refuses to help. Even when Cain shows up at Lux with a gun, Amenediel insists he can’t help the guys out. See, Amenediel put the brand on Cain for God and believes the punishment is deserved. This leads to a pretty crazy knockdown, drag out fight at the bar. Obviously, neither is really the victor but it was a pretty awesome action sequence to watch and well filmed. I will admit it didn’t top the fight from the last episode but it was pretty good. At the end of things, Amenediel commits to standing in Lucifer and Cain’s way on this crazy journey because he’s trying to protect his little brother.

Before we dive into the case of the week—which is kind of interesting—we have to touch on Linda and Charlotte and the PTSD going on there. Charlotte has gone to see Linda to get some therapy and help dealing with the whole near death/going to hell situation. Linda can just sit there staring in horror at the woman who nearly killed her. Obviously, Charlotte has no memory of that and it wasn’t in fact Charlotte that did those things (as Lucifer points out). Linda eventually gets over her initial fear and she agrees to work with Charlotte so that they can both start to heal.

The main case this week involves Ella’s oldest brother Jay. We first see him meeting with a guy who has a bunch of diamonds. Then, Ella’s phone call ruins everything goes sideways. The next morning, Ella is worried and she drops by to hire Maze to hunt down her brother. Maze and Ella together is a really odd combination and I have to admit it made me kind of uncomfortable. They are just so different. But, Maze does end up leading them to the diamond guy who has been shot. Ella calls Chloe and Lucifer but quickly proclaims her brother’s innocence, primarily because there’s a powder burn on a lampshade and the only way that could happen at the right angle is if the shooter was left-handed. Jay is a rightie. Chloe insists that they follow both avenues (that there’s a second shooter and that Jay’s the culprit) while Ella and Maze run off to find Jay and prove his innocence.

Maze finds Jay in a rundown hotel. He swears up and down that he’s innocent and of course Ella believes him. She even lies when Chloe calls to ask if Ella’s found anything. While Ella and Maze have been off looking for Jay, Chloe, Dan and Lucifer have done a little digging on their own. The dead guy was a diamond merchant and at least one of the diamonds found in his office were stolen. So Chloe and Lucifer use the old “engaged looking for a ring” rouse to get past the clerk to the owner of the jewelry store where the diamond had been stolen from. It turns out the owner was in on the theft and they were going to just get the insurance money. Apparently, millennials were ruining business with trying to be socially and ethically conscious about the stone they purchased.

Chloe and Lucifer suspect that Ella is lying when she tells them she hasn’t found her brother yet. So they try to figure out where she would take him and they finally determine she’d take him back to the scene of the crime so that she could prove his innocence. And damn, they’re right. Jay tells Ella he saw the shooter from the bathroom and that the killer had red wing-tipped shoes. Ella quickly figures out that her brother couldn’t have been in the bathroom (the angle was all wrong). Maze finds the stash room (with equipment used to change serial numbers on diamonds to clean them. Jay takes off with a gun when Chloe and Lucifer arrive and Ella is devastated. But, Chloe finds a video camera which shows that Jay could have been telling the truth if he’d been hiding in the stash room. Now, they have to find him before things wrong with the actual killer. Who, of course, is the insurance adjuster that Chloe and Dan met earlier in the episode. Ella is told to stay with the car when they go to confront the insurance man but he’s already taken the gun from Jay is walking him out of the building out a side entrance to clean the diamonds when Ella sees him. Thanks to Maze, they all get away okay (well the insurance guy is dead but whatever). Ella seems so relieved that her brother is okay and Lucifer wants to keep her faith in her big brother intact since her faith is so important to her. He finds Jay trying to pocket the missing diamonds but tells Jay he’s not going to tell Ella (and Jay doesn’t have to either) because Lucifer doesn’t want to see Ella hurt. I hadn’t realized how much Lucifer actually cared about Ella until he threatened Jay (if he ever disappointed Ella again, Lucifer would go all Devil on him). As I said, it didn’t move the overall plot along very much but it did give us some little character insights. I liked seeing more of Ella’s background and I really was pleased to see that Lucifer cares about someone other than himself (or Chloe). In a way, he was almost acting like a big brother to Ella. We have to hope now that the next episode (post Olympics) moves things along a lot more.

Monday, February 5, 2018

This Is Us 2.14: “Super Bowl Sunday”

“Maybe I see what I want to see or what I need to see, but every year your father finds a way to send me some laugh.”
- Rebecca

It’s finally happening Pearson Clan; we finally get the answer to how our beloved patriarch met his end. Normally, I blog the show as I watch it but this episode needed some time to breathe and I needed a minute to process it. As always, it had its happy and sad moments. I suppose, we might as well just dive in to the sad part. Jack wakes in the night to see smoke coming into the bedroom and when he opens the door, the house is definitely on fire. He rallies Rebecca, Kate and Randall and quite heroically gets them all to safety (lowering them from the roof with a harness made from a bed sheet. He’s about to come down when Kate starts screaming about the dog (and we hear it bark inside). Jack, being the good dad that he is, goes back into the house just as the fire erupts in the bedroom. We and the rest of the family is left to watch helplessly until the front door opens and Jack comes out carrying the dog and a pillowcase full of mementos, including a photo album, Rebecca’s moon necklace and Kate’s audition tape.

We of course hope that all is going to be okay when Jack gets his burns tended to and he even gets checked out at the hospital. But, as medical staff repeatedly tells us and them, Jack has a lot of smoke inhalation. He gets to have a sweet joking moment with Rebecca (after they’ve dropped the kids with Miguel) but as Rebecca is trying to get a hotel room and a candy bar from the vending machine, the worst happens. And god, it’s heartbreaking to see Rebecca failing to process the news; much like Jack did in the pilot when they lost Kyle. Rebecca, still not believing the doctor, marches into the room expecting her husband to be alive and well. But he’s not and she loses it. Hard. But she’s got to pull herself together enough to tell the kids. And then Kate—we get why she blames herself now—has to go find Kevin and bring him into the family grief.

In the present, the Pearsons are marking the 20th anniversary of Jack’s passing. Randall is throwing an elaborate Super Bowl party for a bunch of prepubescent girls (who don’t care about the game) while Kate wallows by watching the video tape of her audition. Kevin, meanwhile plans to avoid the day per usual. Rebecca remarks to Kevin that every year, she makes Jack’s favorite lasagna and that Jack always finds a way to make her laugh. Kevin ends up at the tree where Jack is buried or at least part of him given that Kate has the ashes) and having the heart to heart with his dad that he never got to have. He regrets having argued with dad the last time they spoke and it’s been a really hard couple of decades for Kevin carrying around that guilt and not being the man his father had hoped he would be. And now with Kevin going through recovery much like Jack had, Kevin vows to be a better man and make Jack proud, even if it takes another couple of decades. And he even gets Rebecca to laugh when he admits he’s not sure he’s at the right tree.

Kate’s wallowing takes on a level of panic when the VCR tries to eat the tape. But Toby manages to find a guy to fix it and also upload it to the cloud so that she won’t ever have to worry about losing it again. And Kate has to explain some things to Toby that probably should have been obvious. She blames herself because Jack couldn’t bear to disappoint her and thus went back for the dog. And she’s not ready to not beat up on herself that one day a year. But, as they watch the video together later, she remembers how Jack used to always fix this leaky window her room and that Toby has filled that void for her in a way she wasn’t expecting. It is sad that Toby never got to meet Jack. They would have gotten on quite well.

And then there’s Randall. Poor, overcompensating Randall. Tess has been acting kind of teenager-ish and moody but it isn’t until Beth accidentally steps on Annie’s new pet lizard that things get a little crazy. Randall starts doing a eulogy for the lizard and then he ends up sharing that losing someone unexpectedly hurts in all kinds of different ways, equating it to toothache pain he had once. Beth manages to stop him before he gets too dark. Still, Tess kind of storms off and he ends up talking to her. She feels like he wants a new life with all the changes he’s been going through. He doesn’t entirely reassure her that it isn’t the case but he promises that she’s his number one priority, no matter what happens. Throughout the episode, we see a little boy getting ready to meet his new foster family. Just as Randall and Tess are chatting, Beth gets a call and we think the boy is going to be their new child but in a twist I honestly wasn’t expecting yet I loved, the boy is going to a family in the future and the social worker is a grown up Tess! We’ve only seen a flash forward one time before and it wasn’t that far (only to see Randall packing up William’s things after he died). Everything time I think this show can’t surprise me, it does. I love that we get to see the seeds of Tess’s interest in the foster system being planted now in the present. Oh, and that phone call Beth got? Deja is on their front steps so that’s going to be an interesting development come the next episode.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Lucifer 3.13: “Til Death Do Us Part”

“Your father’s all about mind games and loopholes, remember?”
- Maze

I haven’t laughed so hard at an episode of “Lucifer’ in a really long time. This was a great episode. It gave us some movement on a lot of subplots and it was just a ton of fun and you could tell at least Tom Ellis was having a blast. We open with Lucifer approaching Cain with a chainsaw which the immortal quickly dismisses as having tried everything including jumping into a volcano to die. Lucifer even tries stabbing him with one of Maze’s daggers but not even that works! And she’s kind of stab happy when she brings over some of her other tools.

A short while later, Chloe and Dan land the case of a suburban school teacher found dead in a woodchipper. Lucifer worms his way onto the case as usual when it turns out that the victim had previously died three years earlier. Some easy digging later, they discover she was cooking drugs for a Korean drug syndicate. Lucky for our team, Lucifer knows a guy who deals the stuff and he and Chloe learn who the head of the drug syndicate is. Chloe insists they go through proper channels but Lucifer has other plans. In a spectacular montage we see him taking all kinds of goons at a karaoke bar (it was really well shot and I loved how Lucifer used the weapons from the goons to take out other goons it was so well choreographed) and when next we meet the head of the syndicate, he’s happily confessing to all kinds of felonies for Chloe. But he insists he didn’t kill the victim. While she stole money from him and faked her death, he didn’t kill her because she offered to pay him back with interest. But, she wouldn’t go back to working for him. So, it seems someone in the neighborhood may have killed the victim (especially when a little more investigation reveals she was sells drugs again but this time is was geared towards the suburban market).

This leads to the most amazing sting operation in the show’s history (way better than surfer Dan last week). Lucifer and Cain go undercover in the neighborhood and learn from one couple that there’s a “Watchdog” going around enforcing all kinds of rules. Lucifer being his hilarious self, sets out to get the enforcer’s attention. And it works. It turns out to be the husband of the couple that they previously entertained. The sting isn’t over though because he didn’t write the note to the victim that led to her death. He was her biggest customer for drugs. So, Lucifer and Cain (going by the names Mark and Luke, how appropriate) throw a little party for the neighborhood and insist everyone sign the guest book. What’s even better is they start arguing like a married couple and the things they are arguing about appear to be martial but we as the viewer (and they as the characters) know it’s about their mutual frustration with not finding a way to kill Cain. Lucifer storms out but Chloe give shim quite the rousing speech to get him motivated to go back in and finish the case. He and Cain make up (and make out) and it’s pretty obvious that the killer was the wife of the couple. She thought her husband and the victim were having an affair. It seems even death couldn’t push this couple apart as cheesy and sappy as that is.

Elsewhere in the episode, Charlotte and Dan are continuing to explore their relationship which I’m liking more now that she’s not a celestial being. It’s kind of sweet and a nice distraction from the craziness of the rest of the characters. Or at least, it usually is. This week, Maze starts acting really weird and attracted to Charlotte. She even pops in on their date to offer a three-way because she’s so turned on. But when she confronts Charlotte at the bar, she realizes that the thing that attracted Maze was the lingering scent and effects of Hell on Charlotte. She realizes she doesn’t want her old life back. As bizarre as this whole encounter was, it helped Charlotte realize that her life isn’t as together as she’d hoped. Dan assures her that he can wait for her because she’s worth it! Please let someone on this show have a happy ending!

A happy ending certainly isn’t in Chloe’s future. She invites Cain to drinks with some of the guys but he declines. He straight out tells her nothing romantic can happen between them (at least we can quash that love triangle) and she says she understands but we know she doesn’t. There’s so much we still don’t know about him! He does go pay Lucifer a visit and Lucifer says they both need to be committed to solving the mystery of how to kill Cain. Lucifer posits that Cain wants to die because he’s tired of being alone. While true, Cain points out that Lucifer may be the one who doesn’t want to be alone. I got some serious sexual vibes during this conversation but maybe it was leftover from the sting. Either way, I’m all for them working together (hopefully with some help from Maze and even Amenediel) to solve this riddle. I know we only have a handful of episodes left this season but I’m really enjoying this new plot arc. I’m still waiting for Chloe to wise up to everything around her but I guess I’ll just have to keep hoping on that one. One day the writers reward us with that confrontation/realization and it will be great. For now, we’ll have to settle for all the creative ways Lucifer will try to kill Cain. And if the writers know what they’re doing, they’ll bring some of the humor of this episode into those future interactions because I loved the heightened dynamic the actors were able to deliver.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Fresh off the Boat 4.06: "A League of Her Own"

“God I love this team. I feel like Joe Torre but with better hair!”

This particular episode of “Fresh off the Boat” was all about the warm fuzzies. Louis and Jessica end up coaching opposing softball teams, and while that doesn’t sound obviously warm and fuzzy, we learn about Louis and Jessica in the process and they both learn to be better sports. This also happens to be the episode where Nicole finally comes out to Honey and Marvin. While it’s a bit of a rocky road with Marvin (Honey is supportive from the beginning), Marvin is adorably accepting by the end of the episode. Really, Nicole’s story is responsible for most of the warm fuzzies. It was also fun to see the ladies of the Denim Turtle embrace Nicole. They’ve got “Come to My Window” by Melissa Ethridge queued up in the sound system ready to celebrate and everything. Also Jessica realizing that being a Lesbian is a thing is pretty darn hilarious. She just can’t grasp the concept that someone might not find Denzel hot. Who knew?

The episode opens with Jessica and Honey at the Denim Turtle. Jessica is commenting on how the bar should be trying to attract more business from men, and it’s clear that she doesn’t realize her favorite watering hole is actually a Lesbian bar. Of course, at that moment, Nicole shows up, and both she and her step mom are both understandably surprised to see each other there. Nicole says she’s not there to drink (which is good, considering she’s underage and all). She just wants to join the bar’s softball team. She ends up coming out to Honey. It’s entertaining watching the ladies getting ready to celebrate the coming out. They have options ready for it going well or poorly. Thankfully, the coming out does go well, and Honey gives Nicole a big hug as Melissa Ethridge’s “Come to My Window” blasts on the sound system. This is also when Jessica realizes that being a Lesbian is a thing, and it’s absolutely hilarious. She knew men could be interested in men, but she didn’t know women could be interested in women. She’s not unsupportive, but she can’t comprehend how a woman might not find Denzel hot.

Cattleman’s Ranch is also fielding a softball team, and their first opponent is going to be none other than the Denim Turtle. Matthew Chestnut, the business guy who has been brought in by Kenny Rogers, is not happy about the softball team at all. He thinks the team (uniforms, equipment, etc.) costs way too much. He thinks that if they ever won a game, maybe it could be justified. This leads the and Louis to make a bet. If the Cattleman’s team wins one game, they will be allowed to keep the team. Marvin tries to help Louis out by getting the team a ringer – somebody famous from the Miami Marlins for whom Marvin has done dental work. Jessica doesn’t seem especially supportive of Louis’ efforts. She says she doesn’t have time to manage a softball team, which Louis says is fine, considering he’s the one doing the managing. This turns things into a competition for Jessica, who says she could manage any team to victory. She then shows up at the Denim Turtle with a massive History of Softball book. Deb happily turns the softball team over to her.

Now that Nicole is out to Honey and Jessica, she still struggling with how to come out to Marvin. This gets more complicated because apparently the Cattleman’s and Denim Turtle teams have practice at the same time at the same field, so Marvin and Nicole see each other (Marvin’s helping out with the Cattleman’s team, and when his ringer doesn’t show up, he decides he’s going to play himself – apparently he’s really good at softball). Marvin makes a joke that he hopes the softball team is the only Denim Turtles team Nicole is playing for, and Nicole is mortified. Nicole decides she’s going to come out to Marvin for real at movie night, but she chickens out.

Meanwhile, in much less serious news, Eddie loves his Cattleman’s softball team jersey that says “Bootyman” on the back, and he keeps hiding and such at practices because he doesn’t want to get it dirty. Then he “injures” himself before a game to take the need for jersey cleanliness further.” Chestnut says they’ll have to forfeit, but Louis has another idea. Louis tells Eddie to hand over the Bootyman jersey to Chestnut so he can play. Chestnut turns out to be a horrible, horrible softball player, but he’s incredibly happy that Louis let him play. He felt very left out by not being on the Roasters kickball team, which is why he was so anti-the Cattleman’s softball team. He thought it would just be another opportunity for him to be singled out in a negative way and cut from a sports team.

Before the big game, Jessica accidentally lets slip to Marvin that Nicole is gay. Jessica, in her defense, thought Nicole had already said what she was going to say at movie night. Instead, Nicole complained that she had wanted to play shortstop, but Jessica insisted she had to play first base. That’s what Marvin was trying to talk to Jessica about, not Nicole’s sexual orientation. Marvin then asks Nicole directly if she’s gay, and Nicole tells him the truth. Marvin seems surprised, and he’s kind of a mess for most of the big softball game, throwing things around in a rage. Near the end of the game, though, when Nicole is about to score a run, Marvin cuts in and gives her a big hug. He says he regrets making the joke earlier, and he’s supportive of her. Ultimately, the Denim Turtle team wins the game, but Chestnut says that Cattleman’s can keep their team anyway. And poor Eddie, his Bootyman jersey gets doused in celebratory Gatorade.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

This Is Us 2.13: “That’ll Be The Day”

“I don’t see myself the way you see me and no one else does either. So, you saying it all the time just hurts.”
- Kate

We are almost to the point we’ve been waiting for since we first saw that urn in Kate’s apartment and Kevin shared with a grieving widow that he lost his dad young back in season 1: Jack’s death. Throughout the first part of season 2, we’ve gotten little glimpses of the lead up. We saw the burnt out husk of the house and only last week we saw that Jack and Rebecca forgot to buy batteries for the smoke detector. We pick up in the past on the day of the Super Bowl. Jack and Rebecca are excited for the annual festivities but the 17-year-old Big Three have other things on their minds. While the parents are cautiously considering how to move forward with Big Three Homes (complete with flipping some small properties and going into business as a husband/wife partnership) Kevin is being a total brat about having to apply to community college while Sophie applies to NYU. Randall is primping for his date with the redhead from the mall (whose name we learn is Allison) and Kate is simultaneously excited by the fact she’s in the last round of applicants for Berklee and having to record another song (Jack suggests she do an videotaped audition).

In short order, all of the kids bail on the tradition of watching the Super Bowl as a family. This leaves Jack and Rebecca to share some private time and end up getting a little sexy time in. But we also see some important progress toward why the Big Three feel the way they do (especially Kate and Kevin) about Jack’s death. When Kevin finds out Sophie got into NYU, he lashes out at his parents and then leaves to go spend the night with Sophie and her family. He calls to ap9ologize to Rebecca but doesn’t speak to Jack, thus leaving Kevin with the memory that the last words he spoke to his father were harsh ones. Kate, meanwhile, is upset that Jack keeps telling her that she’s beautiful to him. Her self-image issues are clearly kicking in strong here and even after she watches a videotape Jack surreptitiously made while she was singing, she is still going to have issues. It seems Randall is the only one who is pretty happy right now.

In the present, Kate finds Toby browsing a pet finder website and this prompts her to go to a local shelter and meet the cutest little dog named Audio. He has big sad eyes and is definitely all about the cuddles. She and Toby both acknowledge that having a dog brings up a lot of issues (which lends credence to the theory that Jack dies in the fire trying to save the dog). She is all set to adopt Audio when she backs out due to her fear of what will be dredged up. But, when she gets home later, she’s changed her mind and Kate and Toby welcome their little fur baby to the family.

Across the country, Randall is diving head first into being a landlord. Beth tries to get him to chill out and take things slow but he just blows by her and makes all kinds of promises to the tenants. He starts to deliver on them (Kevin shows up because he’s trying to make amends and like Jack, he needs to keep busy to keep sober). I liked that we got those little parallels with Jack and Rebecca wanting to go into business together and Beth and Randall doing the same and Kevin and Jack trying to keep busy. It’s a nice little tie-in and reminder how connected this family is, even years later. Of course, things don’t go as Randall planned and they find a massive cockroach infestation. So, all of the residents have to be moved to a hotel temporarily. During all of this mayhem, Kevin and Randall share a nice moment where Randall explains that he’s nearly 40 and he can’t picture himself as an old man because Jack died so young and their father has been dead longer than he was in their lives. That’s a pretty sobering thought right now and it made me really teary-eyed to think about. Kevin then comes back that Randal will be a great old man just like his other dad. Nice nod to William there!

And in the past, as Jack wakes to find Randall coming in from his date, we get the lead up we’ve been longing for. Jack bids his son goodnight and sets about cleaning up the kitchen from the food that went uneaten (including chili). He turns the crockpot to ‘off’ but as we see from a brief flashback, it was a re-gift from a former neighbor who warned that you have to fiddle with the switch to make it work). He would have been better off just unplugging the whole thing because after he goes back to bed, the pot turns on, sparks and sets a kitchen towel alight which then starts up the kitchen curtains. I know we have a little ways to go yet (the post-Super Bowl episode promises to answer our questions about Jack’s demise) but just seeing the fire starting to consume the house left me in tears. Yes, I’m ready to know the whole truth about Jack’s death so we can explore other aspects of his life before he passed away but at the same time, I don’t know that I’m emotionally ready to say goodbye. Like with William last season, I know we will still see Jack and he’s basically been dead the whole time in the present but I’m just not ready. I’m hoping it brings a sense of closure to everyone so we can finally understand some of what the Big Three are going through in present day. And I know we still have lots more stories to tell with Jack and the rest of the family but this feels like we are closing a big chapter. See you February 4, 2018 Pearson clan!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Lucifer 3.12: “All About Her”

“I know what you’re doing. You’re helping me so I’ll help you back which is actually worse than not helping me at all, so thanks but no thanks.”
- Chloe

We pick up right where we left off before our little brief hiatus: Lucifer and Cain sharing a drink at Lux (while Cain bleeds through a whole mess of towels). He had Lucifer kidnapped but he swears up and down he didn’t have anything to do with the wings and devil face. Meanwhile, Chloe is mad at Lucifer for going behind her back and doesn’t want him on the case of a murdered surfer. Maze does sort of give Chloe some advice that she needs to just accept that Lucifer is who he is and she’s not going to change him. Elsewhere, Ella is shutting down thanks to Cain yelling at her the day before. It may seem like a strong reaction but it totally fits her personality. She really looked up to the guy and he flipped out on her and she took it super personally. Thanks to Charlotte, though, Ella manages to overcome her feelings and confront Cain later on.

The first suspect is another surfer who was seen on camera threatening the victim but he turns out to be innocent of this murder anyway. He killed a seal on accident (and seemed really broken up about the whole thing). While Chloe and Dan are digging for more clues, Linda tells Lucifer he should think about things from Chloe’s perspective and this leads to him trying to do everything for her so that she’ll help him out later (he wants her to investigate Cain). Lucifer does have a habit of making everything about him and I would have thought that three seasons in he’d be a little less self-centered and self-involved. Linda has her own drama going this episode. She and Amenediel are sneaking around behind Maze’s back which isn’t a good idea. But, Amenediel also seems to have contracted an STD! Maze finds this hilarious (until she spies Linda and Amenediel kissing over dinner…after the news comes in that it was a false positive on the test). She is seriously pissed and if I were the two of them, I would be very scared right now. I’m not entirely sure why the writers decided to go this route with the three of them to be honest. I kind of liked Maze and Amenediel together and I feel like Linda doesn’t need a love interest to be interesting. She’s a strong woman on her own and has enough going on just trying to wrangle Lucifer.

Our team takes another stab at possible suspects by using Dan as an undercover. He loves to surf and he found out that a surfer gang has been hanging out where the victim was found and they tend to rough up other people who encroach on their turf. Chloe gets booted out of the van while Lucifer and Cain have a heart to heart while Dan pisses the gang off and then bonds with them over the victim’s death. They explain that they’d never go to the beach where the victim was found as it’s private property. The surfers (and Dan) have kind of a little memorial for the victim in the water which is kind of nice I guess and helps cement that these guys aren’t the killers either. We also learn that Cain is planning to leave town. He allows Lucifer to use his devil mojo to get Cain to admit he wants to die. He thought that getting close to Chloe would have the same effect she has on Lucifer. That’s why he had Lucifer kidnapped but the whole wing thing ruined everything. It would seem whoever gave Lucifer his wings back didn’t want Cain to be able to succeed. Heck, even with Chloe right beside him, he wasn’t able to die when he got shot a few episodes back. He just healed right up!

Chloe has everything click into place when she finds that Lucifer has organized her desk (in silly colors and ridiculous categories) but it makes her realize the beach that was marked as private isn’t owned by anyone and therefore can’t be private. So, she and Lucifer set aside their differences and get the woman who owned the house to confess to killing the victim. It turned out not to be personal. She just wanted to send a message. Which makes Lucifer realize his father used him to get to Cain! So naturally Lucifer wants to make Cain a deal so they can kill Cain and stick it to God in the meantime! We also got to see Charlotte stick it to Cain a bit (she was actually pretty awesome) and we did get a nice hug and apology between Cain and Ella.

I’m intrigued by what Lucifer and Cain plan to do now to get back at God and actually kill Cain. As we see in the trailer for the next episode, he’s been trying to end his life for quite some time. There clearly has to be an endgame and I do hope we at some point loop Chloe in on the whole celestial gang because as I’ve said before, this is getting ridiculous. And I can’t wait to see what Maze does out of jealousy. She’s not used to feeling human emotions (even if she can sometimes give somewhat decent advice on feelings) and she’s not one to talk things out. She is definitely more of a stab first and ask questions never kinda gal. On a more positive note, I’m liking how they are fitting Charlotte into the team more. I was a little worried when they brought her back as actual Charlotte. I mean, she was great as Mom but they are developing her character nicely and it’s fun to see her play a sort of grey character trying to be good. It reminds me a little of her character on Battlestar Galactica.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

This Is Us 2.12: “Clooney”

“You gotta own your choices, boys. Own them fully. Don’t look back.”
- Jack

We are moving ever closer to what fans have been longing for since we first found out Jack was no longer among the living in present day: his death. We got a little, yet very important clue this week. Back in the 1990s, shortly after Kevin’s knee injury, Kate asks Rebecca to take her dress shopping for the winter formal. Rebecca is thrilled about this mother/daughter outing but it quickly turns into a full-on Pearson family extravaganza. Jack needs a new suit to impress his annoying boss and he decides Kevin needs a new suit to go to the dance (to get his mind off of his injury). And Randall…he’s doctoring Magic 8 balls to try and get a girl (who I want to say was with them when they find out Jack’s dead) to go out with him. And all the while, Rebecca had asked Jack to remind her to buy batteries for their smoke detector. Yep, they forget the batteries in their mall trip, leading me to believe Jack’s death could possibly be prevented.

Kate’s story in the present this week tracks nicely with her angst as a teen over finding a dress that fits. At her weight loss group, Kate explains that she and Toby are tying the knot in the spring and she wants to find a dress. Madison, the woman who Kate has had some animosity with in the past, books them a private appointment at a custom dress shop. It’s nice to see Kate bonding with someone who isn’t related to her (or her fiancĂ©). But things get weird when Madison eats a bunch of snacks and then sneaks off to the bathroom. Kate tries to call her out on the bulimia but Madison flips out. In the past, we see that teenage Kate is able to fit into a size 7 dress but she wants to fit into a size 5. Back in the present, Kate gets a call from Madison who has fainted and hit her head. Kate reveals that around the time we are seeing in the past, she became anorexic to fit into a smaller dress, so Madison’s issues aren’t made up or crazy. I hope we get to see more of her in the future.

Meanwhile, Kevin is out of rehab and he’s staying with Rebecca and Miguel. I guess he thinks it will give him a chance to bond with his mom and maybe repair some of the damage done. Which is a great idea, except Miguel keeps getting in the middle of Kevin trying to have private time with his mother. The tension between them in the present is kind of reflected in the past when Jack and Kevin run into Miguel. Jack launches into one of his great Jack Pearson pep talks when Miguel reveals his ex-wife just got engaged but Kevin buts in and says that they should be able to wallow. So, sodas and wings in the food court it is. Naturally, Kevin whines about his lost football career and when Jack tells Kevin he needs to find the next “football” so to speak, Kevin brushes his dad off. This prompts Miguel to bring up the fact that once upon a time Jack wanted to start his own construction company but gave it up to keep his family happy and healthy. Though now, maybe he might start it up again.

Now, I don’t blame Kevin for having animosity toward Miguel. He’s someone they all knew growing up and now he’s taken the place of his father. In the present, Kevin outright asks Miguel if he was in love with Rebecca when Jack was alive. Miguel denies it, saying Jack and Rebecca were basically one person and so it would have been impossible for Miguel to be in love with her. I’m not sure I believe that but Kevin seems to buy it. He also buys it when Rebecca admits that Miguel makes her happy after having given up on happiness for so long after Jack died. I guess when you are married to such a great guy, it’s hard to see happiness anywhere when you lose them so suddenly.

And Randall may be following his both of his father’s footsteps. He gets a call to pick up a box of stuff from Willian’s apartment and in it he finds a poem written to a “Lady”. Randall, going into obsessive mode as he does, tries to figure out who his father may have been in love with before Jesse. The super of the building urges him to take a peak around William’s place again and Randall finds that the poem was about a Billie Holliday mural. I have to admit Randall’s storyline this week was a little erratic (complete with stray cat montages through the city) but it does come out at an interesting point. Beth is unhappy in her job and Randall isn’t trilled about the job interview he had so he decides they should buy William’s old building and fix it up for the tenants that live there so they can I guess honor William and also give Beth some purpose to her work again. I suppose Jack would be proud of his son for taking the initiative and starting something new at kind of a scary time in his life.

I have to admit, I didn’t get nearly as teary this week as I do most other weeks. It was still a strong episode and I liked we got some emotional growth for some of the characters. I still think there is a lot left to unpack with everything that came out of the therapy session but I have faith in the writers that we’ll get those answers eventually. And based on next week’s preview, we may be that one step closer to solving Jack’s death so that we can finally move on to filling in the big holes in his life like his military service and the whole history with his brother.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Fresh off the Boat 4.05: "Four Funerals and a Wedding"

“I’m sorry. I’m still worked up over the layover in Atlanta. How can you have three Cinnabons, and all of them are closed!”

This episode provided an interesting look at the extended Huang family (well, Jessica’s side of it, at least), and it also used Jessica’s family troubles to take a deeper dive into the relationships between the three Huang brothers. I enjoyed learning more about Jessica’s family, even if some of it was very sad (her relationship with her father is incredibly distant and robotic), and I also enjoyed the boys finding some new respect for each other. They really act like brothers in this episode, and it was nice to see. I found Jessica’s distant relationship with her father interesting, and I thought it explained a lot. The Huang parents grappling with how their relationship with their kids is different from their own relationships with their parents was an interesting direction for the story to take. All in all, there was a lot of good character building stuff in this episode, and I just hope that some of it sticks going forward.

The episode opens with the Huangs in Houston for the funeral of a distant relative of Jessica’s. The relative was named Trina, and she was a triplet. At the funeral, Emery discovers he has a stain on his tie. Grandma Huang tells him to spit out the bad luck of his bad luck year, and Trina will take it with her to the afterlife. Emery was supposed to spit in a handkerchief, but instead he spits in the casket. Grandma is appropriately appalled. Even though this is a funer in Jessica’s family, Jessica’s sister and brother-in-law Connie and Steve aren’t there. Jessica’s father is there, though. Jessica and her father have a very formal, inquiring-about-the-weather type conversation. Neither Eddie nor Evan recognize him and are shocked to learn that they just met their grandfather. Jessica’s father is a diplomat, so he’s always been globetrotting and not around much.

Back home in Orlando, Emery realizes he has lost the stained tie (the tie becomes relevant later, I promise!). Evan, thoughtful from the funeral, decides he wants to change his will because he hasn’t changed it since they moved to Orlando. Honey is currently his executor, and after seeing how she reacted to Princess Di’s death (we get to see a flashback), he thinks she’s too emotional for the job. Out in the kitchen, Louis hears Jessica talking to her psychic on the phone. She says that “maybe there’s another way,” and Louis immediately assumes she’s talking about wanting a closer relationship with her father. Louis talks this over with Marvin, and he tells Marvin that there might be a way to help Jessica. The second of the triplets has now also died, so Louis and Jessica will be making another trip to Houston. Louis wants to use the occasion to encourage Jessica to talk with her dad.

At the funeral, Louis keeps deliberately trying to bring Jessica and her dad together, but it doesn’t work. They either avoid each other or have really surface level exchanges. He can’t even get them to agree to spend Christmas together. Jessica confronts Louis about how weird he’s being, and Louis is forced to reveal that he heard the phone conversation. Jessica clarifies that she was actually talking to the psychic about the possibility of trying barbecue chicken while in Houston. Louis always gets to excited when she tries a new food that she wasn’t sure if it was worth the fuss. Meanwhile back at home, Evan asks Eddie to be the executor of his will. Grandma is offended she wasn’t chosen! Deirdre notarizes Evan’s new will, and she spreads word around the HOA that Evan must be terminally ill. He starts receiving and endless parade of casseroles, which seems cool at first, but then gets annoying. Emery, for his part, is a bit offended he wasn’t chosen as executory. Evan says it’s just because of Emery’s bad luck year. Eddie is just a temporary executor, and when the bad luck year is over, Evan intends to switch over to Emery. Emery, for his part, thinks things are looking up. He has found the missing tie.

Louis is still upset about the distant relationship between Jessica and her dad. He tells Marvin that he thinks Jessica is in denial about the type of relationship she’d really like with her dad. I think Louis needs to back off. The pair go back to Houston, though, this time for a wedding. The remaining triplet is getting married. Louis thinks it would be a genius idea, at the reception, to tell Jessica that her dad is dying. Jessica does make an effort to reach out to her dad, but they are just as awkward as ever. Louis ends up blowing up and revealing his whole plan. Jessica and her dad do have a heart to heart, and Jessica tries inviting him for Christmas. They quickly realize that a close relationship isn’t going to work for them, though, and they back off. Jessica’s dad does make a point of saying, though, that his affairs are in order and he won’t be a burden to Jessica when he dies. Jessica and Louis end up having a deeper conversation, too, and Louis admits that he’s still working through his feelings about his own father’s death. He has regrets about not being closer with his father. Jessica encourages Louis to talk to her psychic about it, of course.

Eddie’s being his usual self and giving an Emery a bit of a hard time, and when it finally gets to be too much, Emery tells Eddie the truth about Evan’s plans for will executor. Eddie doesn’t take this well, naturally, since it implies he’s only good enough to be a temporary solution. Emery asks Grandma if spitting in the casket made his bad luck worse. Grandma reveals that it was actually Eddie who replaced Evan’s missing tie (granted, he did so with an IOU to grandma, but still). Eddie and Emery end up having their own heart to heart. Eddie tells Evan that what he’s experiencing isn’t really a bad luck year. It’s puberty, and it’s going to last more than a year, but at least they’re going through it together. It was really refreshing to see Eddie be such a supportive big brother to Emery. Evan, for his part, is just sick of receiving tuna casseroles because the neighborhood still thinks he’s dying.