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.