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Last week, Once Upon a Time came back with a bang. The events from the premiere left the Once world completely changed. Unsurprisingly (but a little disappointingly), this forced a lot of clean-up in the follow-up episode, “We Are Both.” The confusion in Storybrooke bogs the story down, but flashbacks to Regina’s past is its saving grace.
Once certainly has a lot of magical balls in the air, and I worry that this juggling act could lead to important questions not getting answered or, worse, being replaced by more and more questions. (Nobody wants the whole Lost connection to go too far, after all.) Thankfully, a resonant theme about parental control and some great acting by Lana Parilla’s hair helped things from getting too tangled tonight. We can only hope future weeks turn out the same way.
The episode opened with Storybrooke in shambles and people looking for lost loved ones. A brief glimpse of Pinocchio showed that he had become all wood, but was able to blink. His father was posting a photo of him on the town bulletin board as Red was trying to organize a crisis center that had been created. Charming tried to get Regina to tell him about the hat’s portal that took his wife and daughter and Regina claimed she knew nothing of the hat. I can’t decide if she really did forget about Jefferson or if she is just playing dumb to Charming.
As Prince Charming, David attempts to step up to the plate and calm the people down, yet struggles, admitting that he’s used to the fighting – Snow would do the talking. He can wield a sword confidently and threaten Regina, but he’s lost without Snow. So it was pleasing that by the end of the instalment, clichéd as his inspirational speech was, he managed to win them over and assume the role as de facto leader.
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Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
This week, Doctor Who fans continued their adventures with the Time Lord in the second tale of the 7th season entitled “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. We begin, once again, with the Doctor pressed up against the TARDIS by a woman keen to find out if any of his other vital organs appear in duplicate form. And as usual, he’s delightfully flustered, but immune to her charm. Well kind of immune. The kind of immune that means you invite the girl in and actually give her coffee rather than… anything else.
Back when Doctor Who started in 1963, part of its remit was as to act as educational programming with sci-fi overtones, which was the main reason why The Doctor would keep running into real historical figures and roping them into his adventures somehow. Five decades later, the educational aspect of the show has eroded away to be replaced with a drive to be as purely entertaining as possible – which is a change for the good, in general – but the desire to work real people from history into the storylines remains, even when they serve no real purpose. New Who has been very hit and miss in this regard, with the only real standout historical figure episode being the Charles Dickens-centric “The Unquiet Dead” during Christopher Ecclestone’s tenure in the TARDIS.
I love the plot design behind the spaceship’s origin; in which it actually once belonged to the Silurians as they attempted to escape their then prophesied apocalypse via other means. But of course, as usual, their death wasn’t far behind. This time they were killed by the nasty and profit hunting space-pirate Solomon. His injured appearance does make you sway your opinion of him being a bad guy at first but as soon as he threatens Brian with his comical Robots, then his dark character emerges. He truly was cruel and without mercy, all in a bid to get what he wants; the ultimate prize. After the onslaught and rampage of the insane Daleks last week, it was nice to get a simple humanoid villain to face-off against the Doctor. They really did play off against each other in a brilliant way and the end result was just cold and shocking. The fact we knew Solomon was a cold-hearted killer who had the Silurians killed by jettison just for the sake of the cargo still doesn’t alter the actions the Doctor took. It did completely shock me and showed a side to the Doctor which is rarely seen. Perhaps there is a reason for this…
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The “Grimm” episode “Quill” was revealing in several ways. It reveals how Hank (Russell Hornsby) will react to new truths about the Wesen world, and how Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) will react to strange memories involving Nick (David Giuntoli). It also shows another side of Rosalee (Bree Turner) that viewers may never have expected to see. The episode also introduces two new creatures, one of which is sent to find Nick’s key.
“Quill” began as the aforementioned Wesen-infecting virus hit Portland. It caused the carriers to break out in horrifically gross boils and yellow pustules and basically made them act like 28 Days Later rage zombies. Now, last week everyone was mad at me for not recognizing Mark Pellegrino, so get ready for me to call out the name of the guest actor who played the porcupine Wesen every two seconds: Kevin Shinick, from Robot Chicken, Ugly Americans, Mad TV, and Where In Time Is Carmen San Diego?!
In the next scene, Nick and Hank are sharing a meal at a diner, discussing everything “Grimm” related. Nick isn’t sure how Hank can see Wesen, or why he only sees certain ones. He also informs him of Aunt Marie’s trailer and all the treasures (books, weapons, etc.) inside. Then Nick and Hank are called to the scene of the hit and run. When they arrive, they go with Sgt. Wu go to investigate the building with shattered glass. They hear something upstairs. They find there is blood everywhere in the building, though it is supposedly empty.
The case is limited, perhaps by budgetary constraints, so there’s never really any sense that a plague outbreak is going to take the city’s sizeable Wesen community by storm or create a larger panic. The origin is never fully explained, there are a ton of loose ends about containing the resurgence of the old plague, but maybe it’s a sickness equivalent to Legionnaires’ disease, which recently had an isolated outbreak in Chicago at a Marriott hotel. Either way, the plot holes aren’t that concerning, since there are moments of suspense and delight throughout.
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When a good ol’ boy from a Big Tobacco family came knocking on the Botwin family’s door, Nancy was surprised and a little concerned that he was looking for Silas and not her. Maybe some of RJ’s live-and-love philosophy rubbed off Silas, because watching his precious plant be beaten to a pulp and squeezed into a little pill last week was a little too much for his delicate sensibilities to take. It’s not what the drug is about, man. Weed is a beautiful thing, man. Get it, man?
It wasn’t that unexpected for Jill to leave. After last week’s realization that she’s entering menopause, and Andy’s insistence that he create a biological child of his own rather than adopt, there was little left for Jill at the Botwin house. Though her bonding with Nancy was sweet, Jill is a character tethered to any given situation only by her motherhood and a man. She has never known a life outside of the domestic. But we didn’t even get a proper goodbye, and instead her absence was explained away in brief dialogue. Goodbye Jill — we were really starting to enjoy your presence.
Nancy really wants to get Silas out of there, but he tells Nancy that he is really not happy at the pharmaceutical company. He was happy until he watched them destroy his plant to distill it into a pill. He grows a fun, illegal drug, not a medicine. He wants to get back to that. He wants Nancy’s support. Nancy runs into Crick’s dad. He’s on an oxygen tank and he and Crick haven’t talked in two years despite living together. She doesn’t want that for her and Silas. Silas agrees to grow for Crick, and they head home.
It makes sense for Silas to be talking to Big Tobacco—although I have questions about how exactly they found out about his prowess—but there’s no clear tie between Nancy’s storyline in the previous episode and this one. We last left Nancy faking a robbery, selling an entire batch of ADHD drugs at a college party with Jill, and then quizzing Stevie on his state capitals. When we pick things up in “Saplings,” Jill’s suddenly gone and we have no sense of Nancy’s future plans (and whether she has any plans to keep selling drugs illegally to make extra money). It’s like Nancy’s arc stopped entirely, allowing her to shift into a completely different role in Silas’ story.
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The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate
In the penultimate episode of the season, we’re left with a big question mark: Will ACN get to host the Republican Primaries debate? After ditching News Night 2.0 to ensure a sizable viewing audience for the debate, the team is left wondering if all their hard work was a waste of time. Will the RNC guys see that Will’s honest, hard-nosed approach to moderating the debate is the best one for all parties involved. Based on the way the episode ended, it appears that the ACN crew has lost this one. Or did they?
It doesn’t help that “The Blackout, Part 2: Armed And Fabulous” devotes the lion’s share of its time to the weakest aspect of the show, i.e. the relationship stuff. With the season nearing the finish, Sorkin has to shit or get off the pot on Will and Mac and the Jim/Don/Maggie love triangle. And shit he does, sending Will to therapy to gain some understanding over why he can’t get over Mac’s betrayal and why he’s so intent on punishing her that he’s brought back Mac’s ex (Paul Schneider) to write an exclusive story about “News Night 2.0.” Things are even more complicated with the younger trio, because Maggie’s roommate Lisa (Kelen Coleman) makes it a quartet: Lisa has feelings for Jim but can see that there’s something between him and Maggie. But neither Jim nor Maggie seem capable of honestly discussing their feelings for each other because they’re adorably frazzled in exactly the same way. And really, who cares?
When everyone gets fiercely behind the idea, punching the air and screaming “YEAH!” like a football team, the power comes back on. Yet again, Mac gets humiliated in front of her staff. And therefore the tantalising prospect of watching the News Night team do the show on the fly (and probably fail while doing so) was washed away. Thankfully, this week The Newsroom does actually show that the News Night team isn’t totally infallible and Sorkin has learnt that it is okay to have characters that fail once in a while.
You know what, “The Newsroom”? I don’t like being right all the time. I’m asking you to surprise me, to impress me, to whip out an excellent television series when I’m not expecting it. That didn’t happen this week. “The Blackout Part 2: Mock Debate” fell prey to exactly the storytelling issues I predicted last week. The very concept of the show took down your attempt at a big two-part episode, making both it and the very series seem extra pointless as a result.
I’m moderately surprised at what little happened in “Sunset” the penultimate episode. Usually the second-to-last hour of a season is chockfull of high octane twists and turns, leaving the finale to pick up the pieces and set up for the next season. But this hour was actually pretty tame save for some few compelling scenes.
Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) defied her maker by only pretending to sire one of Bon Temps’ Finest, but Jason took a pretty hard hit from the Fairy Elder — before Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) did us a solid and ate her. (With just one more episode remaining this season, we don’t have time for such fairy foolishness.) Our fingers are crossed for Jason, but elsewhere, the bodies and vampire goop piled up in Season 5’s penultimate episode, “Sunset”:
Nora remembers what Godric said before Salome joins her and asks if she’s having doubts. Nora says she’s worried about Russell, but Salome calls it all part of Lilith’s plan. Jessica tries to use Bill’s phone to warn Jason about Russell and Steve, but he refuses. She suggests she make Jason a vampire, so they could be together and blessed by Lilith. Bill’s sending two vampires with her to make sure she does.
While Eric runs off with Nora for love and trust of Godric, the Authority continues to crumple at the hands of what Eric calls in the promo for next week, “a mad god of destruction.” Good riddance, truly, to most all of the Authority members and that entire story. But for once the deaths of the season’s villains come with larger consequences.
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At the top of the season, Suits’ promos centered on the idea of civil war coming to Pearson Hardman. While that is certainly been the focus of the major plot this season so far, I should have known the show would have taken it a step further. In essence, civil war is merely internal strife resulting from two conflicting sides that cannot be rectified. In a lot of ways, that is exactly what every main character has been experiencing this season.
Harvey is still psuedo-stalking Donna, this time allegedly to bring her a bonus check that she doesn’t want. She’s still angry with him, especially when he gives her the mother of all puppy dog faces. “I am not in love with you, Harvey. I love you like a brother or a cousin,” she tells him. “I told her I can’t be me without you,” he retorts, which A) is a lie and B) would be an awesome line in a romantic comedy. An amused Donna agrees to come back under two conditions, the first of which is a replacement for the bonus check she just ripped up, and the second which isn’t yet revealed to the audience.
Donna makes her triumphant return to the firm and promptly fires her replacement, which is revealed as the second condition of her comeback. When Louis makes an attempt to apologize to her for how he treated her during the mock trial, Donna realizes from his wardrobe what’s happened, and she tells Jessica, who realizes that Hardman has bought Louis’ deciding vote and calls Hardman out on it. Not that Hardman cares.
Donna immediately goes to Jessica and tells her Louis was made Senior Partner. Donna is just that good – all from Louis’ suit. As per Norma, the suit was bought five years ago to be worn when Louis becomes Senior Partner. Daniel Hardman made Louis a Senior Partner so when the voting commenced, Hardman would edge out Jessica.
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Separation anxiety – it’s not just for kindergartners anymore. The death of Nate Westen has proven that it’s actually possible to make Michael Westen afraid. That new-found fear of loss was on full display on this week’s episode of Burn Notice, titled “Unchained.”
Michael tries to change the way the team works and goes back to basics. Him and Fi take on the Robby and Donna cover, where Michael allows himself to be arrested by the FBI to get close to the Boston mob. Sam helps behind the scenes via the tracker embedded in Michael’s belt buckle. As for Jesse, he and Pearce play blackmailers to get info about a weapons sale.
We have yet to see Maddie since the funeral, which means we still have depressed, angry, bitter, grieving Mamma Westen to contend with. Oh, goody. I’m actually kind of terrified of Maddie at this point and what she’s going to do. I am dreading the inevitable confrontation between her and Michael. The poor woman had a crappy marriage, her boyfriend turned out to be a rat and was murdered last season and now her son is gunned down because he followed his brother into the breach and tried to do the right thing. Understandable if she throws a little blame Michael’s way. I just don’t want to see it.
Nate’s death is having its own affect on Michael. He’s over-protective of Fiona and doesn’t want her help anymore. He’s so terrified of something else happening to another of his loved ones that he’s in danger of pushing away the people he needs most. And seriously, Fiona could kill us all before her egg-white only Spanish omelet breakfast. She’s not a bumbling screw-up who shouldn’t be anywhere near an investigation in the first place; she’ll be fine.
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The road is dark and full of terrors. Yes that is a re-take on the quote from Game of Thrones, but I think it fits the title ‘death march’. The 2nd mass is marching blinding to a promised safe zone without any decent intel.
Honest question: with the Second Mass driving its way down south to the promised security and comfort of Charlotte, what’s stopping the presumably very ticked-off aliens from blasting the convoy off the road with their fliers? After the violently effective episode “Molon Labe,” it’s hard to imagine the invaders bringing all of their resources to bar to take down the Massachusetts survivors.
Murphy’s Law struck in a couple of places: Hal, Maggie and Pope got a busted radiator hose (of course) and the rest of the caravan was attacked by the sibling of a harnessed girl that they picked up, because apparently nobody has learned their lesson yet about picking up harnessed kids.
“Death March” is the first episode in a while where it feels like this is a group of people on the move, with the resistance convoy now less than 200 miles from the supposed promised land of Charleston. As such, most of the action is spent in the confines of the various vehicles, where its characters are forced into conversations that are much more loaded than the involved parties would like. And there are definitely some good moments scattered across those vehicles, even if plenty of them feel like the show’s as tired of being on the road as its characters are.
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Red in Tooth and Claw
After last week Nancy showed us she can still use her talents when needed, in one of the better episodes this season, this week she has another chance to consider her choices, and a good enough motivation to return to her old position. This Week also brought us a much better version of the Andy-Jill story, that placed Doug in the middle and made Andy start believing in god.
Rather, I would argue it is about Nancy’s dependence on marijuana, rather than the series’, as best exemplified by the sixth season. Nancy spends that entire season desperately trying to reestablish her marijuana empire, unable to imagine any other future for herself, despite the fact that simply settling down and working in a hotel would be a perfectly viable—and much safer—way to earn a living.
Jill is repressing her emotional issues with Andy by extreme couponing, because this hodgepodge family is straight up broke. For Andy’s part, his method of dealing with this latest relationship hiccup is to be mysteriously summoned to the roller derby track by a naked woman who throws herself at him.
There’s also been Doug’s random Ambien addiction and, of course, Andy just having women throwing themselves his way left and right. The fact that he acknowledges this – in a monologue that ran for way, way, way too long – doesn’t change the fact that Weeds feels less like an organized show at the moment and more like a series of random events.
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