Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Parks and Recreation: One in 8,000 (6x20)

The cuteness in this episode is overwhelming. In a good way. My goodness gracious. I'm under a time crunch - aren't I always? - so let's breeze through this.

Leslie and Ben go to the doctor and discover something exciting, but also terrifying - they're having triplets! They want to keep it a secret for now, but Andy already knows that Leslie is pregnant. He's horrible at keeping secrets, but he agrees to try his hardest. Leslie is told by the doctor that it is very important for her to avoid stress. Since she is in the middle of trying to raise money for the unity concert, this is proving difficult. Ben tries to take on the extra stress, but the financial burden of raising three kids starts getting to him, and he freaks out. In the end, Leslie and Ben tell their news to everyone, and they all chip in with different ways they'll help out once the babies come.

Andy spends the entire episode trying to avoid telling April what the secret is. She keeps pushing him, and he finally says that Larry is sick. This causes April to actually be nice to him for once, and she is furious when she finds out that Andy was lying about him dying. Andy finally decides to tell April the secret, but just at that moment Leslie and Ben announce it to the group, which means that Andy actually kept a secret for once!

Ron and Donna go to volunteer at the local school. Donna asks Ron to help her keep away from her on-and-off-again boyfriend, whom she describes as "her Tammi." Ron is instantly on the alert for this guy to be terrible, but instead he seems amazing - he's good with the kids, polite, knows about building, makes delicious muffins... confused, Ron asks Donna why she wants him to help her stay away from him, and Donna admits that she's boring when she's with him. All they do is stay in and have sex. Ron tells Donna not to give up a good thing, and she goes to the guy, telling him that they can go out to dinner and try being in a relationship again, as long as he doesn't try to pin her down. Donna remarks to Ron that he's changed for the better - he's a good dad, volunteering at a public school, and even giving out relationship advice.

Like I said, cuteness overload. Anything I didn't enjoy? I'll admit things went a bit too silly when April thought that Larry was dying, and she had to scratch his back. Turns out, the current issue in his life is actually that he swallowed his wedding ring. I think there's a point at which the Larry thing gets a bit too silly. It sticks out of the texture of the rest of this episode, and of the show in general.

But mostly, things are great! The fact that Leslie is having triplets is just so perfect. She's an overachiever in childbearing, just like everything else. Also, the joke the doctor made about Leslie getting in a last hurrah because she's older... that was funny. I loved that Ben wanted to take on all of Leslie's stress, and I especially loved it that he couldn't handle it. They balance each other out, and they're going to make great parents - especially with the support of their community.

Andy kept the secret! This was such a nice moment of redemption for him. I hate how Andy almost always fails with whatever he's trying to do. His success in this moment felt very satisfying and earned.

Donna and Ron's plot again proves that no matter who you stick with Ron, he'll end up as the fatherly figure. It was so cute to see him play matchmaker. Also, I just have to say kudos to this show for portraying Donna as a very desirable and confident woman. Not many shows would do that.

Okay, I tried to keep it to a manageable length. I really enjoyed this!

8.5/10

Parenthood: The Pontiac (5x22)

The season finale! This might actually be the end of the show, since we don't know if they're getting renewed. It feels sort of weird to write this and not know if I'll ever write about this show again... the nice thing about this episode is that it works as a series finale if it must, but it also leaves a lot of stuff open for another season if they can get it. Let's go through what happens!

Zeek and Camille recruit the family to help pack up their house, which causes Adam and Crosby to reminisce about their childhood. They sled down the stairs, play catch with their dad, and feel the sort of bittersweet sadness that will inevitably come when you say goodbye to your childhood home. Crosby actually seems more accepting about it than Adam does.

Drew and Natalie part ways for the summer, and since Drew doesn't have a car, he's not sure if he can go and see her. However, after Drew helps with the moving process, Zeek gives him the Pontiac, and tells him he was always building it for him. Drew, overwhelmed, thanks his grandfather and takes the Pontiac to Natalie, who is happy to see him.

Amber stays with Ryan in the hospital, but things get complicated when Ryan's mother shows up. She's very territorial and insists that Ryan is coming home with her once he is released from the hospital. Amber learns that Ryan has been discharged from the army. She tells him that she doesn't understand why he's going back with his mother, and Ryan says he doesn't have any other choice. Ryan and Amber have sex, and we see them say goodbye to each other, with promises to see each other soon. We see Amber buying a pregnancy test.

Hank sticks around with Sarah to look after Amber for a while. As they leave, Hank tells Sarah that he wants to talk about trying to be together again. He expresses how hard it is for him to say this kind of thing. Sarah says she's hesitant, because she really needs good communication, and she knows that Hank has a hard time with that. However, after giving it some thought, she decides to go for it, and we see Sarah walk into the shop and kiss him.

Victor wins an essay writing contest at his school, meaning he has to read his essay in front of the whole school. The essay is about the Pontiac, and all his fun adventures helping his grandfather work on it. Through watching this speech and celebrating afterwards with ice cream, Joel and Julia reconnect. At the end of the night, Sydney really doesn't want Joel to leave, so he stays, and Joel and Julia crawl into bed with Sydney and tell her stories about their life together. It looks like there may be hope for their relationship yet.

Haddie is home from college, and she brings her "super awesome best friend" Lauren, who it turns out she is dating. When Max sees them kissing and tells Kristina, Kristina tells Haddie that she will always support her. Haddie tells her mom that she is indeed with Lauren, and Kristina tells her that she just wants her daughter to be happy. It looks like Adam approves too, and all his well with the Bravermans.

The family all gets together at Adam's house to celebrate Haddie's return, and we have a music montage to leave us off.

What a sweet, emotional little finale. I didn't love everything about it, but I find myself surprisingly satisfied with how it all ended up. If this does indeed prove to be the end of the show, I'd be okay with it. Still, I have a feeling we'll probably be getting one more season, even if it is a bit shorter, to wrap things up a bit more properly. Let's talk first about the few elements that didn't quite work.

Firstly, I'm still not digging the whole Drew and Natalie thing. It's not awful, but it's just not interesting. The "I love you" from Natalie seemed to come out of nowhere, and when Drew drives to go meet up with her, it was like they were reuniting after a long absence, even though they'd been apart for a couple of days. Also, isn't it odd that Drew takes off the second he has a car? Shouldn't he be there for the family dinner, so he can see his cousin Haddie? It felt a little off to me. Also, while it was sweet that Zeek gave Drew the car, it also didn't quite make sense. After all, Zeek and Victor had spent so much time bonding over the car, wouldn't it make sense to promise it to him once he got older?

I'm also rather unsure about the possibility of Amber being pregnant. It seems just a tad bit gimmicky, like it's just a way to make Ryan stick around. Can't they just repair their relationship without a baby being involved? I don't know.

However, mostly this was all awesome. Sarah and Hank's awkward conversation in the car was so well acted, and the kiss at the end felt so earned. I am a little worried that the relationship is going to be all about how well Hank is doing when trying to communicate, rather than exploring Sarah's side of things. I want more from her perspective if possible.

Victor wins a contest and reads his essay! This was so amazing, and was such a well-deserved conclusion for his character's struggles. After everything that had been going wrong in their family, there's this one success story that makes everything feel better. The fact that the essay was about Victor's family relationships made it even more special, as we see that he really does feel like he belongs in this family, despite the recent fears that maybe he's the reason things are messed up between his parents. Also, that little kid is one hell of an actor. I was very impressed.

Zeek and Camille saying goodbye to their house. Unexpectedly, I got a little emotional when they walked through the empty house together. I always liked the idea of them moving on from the house, but I never felt much of a connection to the house itself until this episode. I'm pretty sad, now! Also, how cute was it to see Adam and Crosby play like little kids? Roughhousing on the stairs, getting injured, tattling on one another... this was so sweet.

Haddie has a girlfriend! I am so, so, so happy that they never explicitly say that "Haddie's gay now" or "Haddie's a lesbian." Haddie has a girlfriend now. That might mean she'll never date another guy, that might mean that she'll marry a man in the future. Her sexual orientation is never actually stated in this episode, and as someone who gets really sick of all the LGBT+ characters in TV being just the L and the G, I'm very happy.

But beyond that, I just loved the way it was handled. Kristina was surprised but completely okay with it. I also loved the way that Adam found out. Haddie made an aborted attempt to tell him, and then later after a conversation with Lauren, Adam put the pieces together. We see a conversation, although we don't get to hear it, where Adam and Haddie seem to discuss it, and they hug. The show toed a very nice line here. It wasn't a Giant Huge Deal that needed to be the focus of the episode, but it was still addressed. Very lovely. I want Haddie back for real if we get another season.

I guess I'll stop there! I doubt this is the end for this show, but if it is, I'll certainly miss it!

8.5/10

Monday, April 21, 2014

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Providence (1x18)

Yikes. They certainly are keeping up the momentum. I am beyond excited about where this show is headed. I hope they can keep it going.

So. We see that Ward and Garrett have teamed up to take advantage of the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. is in shambles. They free Raina, and we learn definitively that Project Centipede was HYDRA. She is disappointed to find out that the Clairvoyant has no real powers, but she still agrees to help them find the miracle drug that saved Coulson and Skye, so she can continue with Centipede. Ward has a drive with all the information, but it's protected from anyone but Skye, meaning that Ward has to go get her to open it. Ward and Garrett are able to get into the Fridge, and confiscate a lot of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s dangerous protected weapons and alien technology. At HYDRA's base, Ian Quinn is very annoyed with Garrett's actions in imprisoning him. Garrett is able to make up for it by showing Quinn his gravitonium, which he found in the Fridge.

Meanwhile, Coulson and his team get word from Colonel Talbot that a military team is coming to the Hub to take over the remains of S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson doesn't trust Talbot, so he takes his team on the bus and escapes. Triplett comes with them, at Simmons' insistence. Skye erases the identities of everyone in the team, so that they can remain well and truly hidden. Coulson notices coordinates on his badge, and he believes that they're a message from Fury. Even though May and the rest of the team are skeptical, since Fury is supposed to be dead, Coulson insists on going to the coordinates. May tells Coulson that Fury wasn't the one in charge of the T.A.H.I.T.I. thing, and so maybe Coulson's brain has been altered by HYDRA. Coulson still insists that Fury is sending him a message.

When they get out into the middle of nowhere, it seems that there's nothing there for them to find. Just when it seems Coulson was wrong, they discover a hidden S.H.I.E.L.D. base, run by Agent Eric Koenig. He welcomes Coulson with open arms, but seems suspicious of the rest of the team. He tells Coulson that Fury is alive, but that he must not tell the rest of his team, no matter what. Turns out, this is a good thing... when Koenig tells them that the Fridge has been compromised, Skye rushes to call Ward. Skye tells Ward about the secret base (damn it) but at least she can't spill the beans about Fury, since she doesn't know.

Ward shows up, playing the part of the dutiful S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent once more, as he plans to get Skye to open up the files about the miracle drug. Dun dun dunnnn....

So. Any complaints? Uh... not really, actually. I suppose I still think that "gravitonium" is a stupid name and a stupid idea, but I sort of have to give it a pass, don't I? It's comic book mumbo jumbo.

Also, there were a few other spots where the cheesiness got to be a bit extreme. Coulson talking about how they have to "be the shield" for humanity. Please. I think when you're working within a superhero universe, you have to be very careful about the kind of tone you're setting. This show has had a lot of problems with the snappy sort of dialogue that they were obviously trying to model off of other Whedon shows. When you add in a healthy dose of comic book cheese, it gets a bit difficult to overlook.

Still, though... I was in awe of how much I enjoyed this episode. I kept thinking that there was no way they could beat all of the twists of last week, but they managed to keep up the high energy and exciting developments.

First of all, and most importantly... Ward seems to be actually evil! He's not an emotionless robot, or anything, and he does tell Raina that he thinks of Coulson as a good person. But, his loyalty to Garrett outstrips anything else. He's really loyal to HYDRA. Fully and completely. Thank God. This is so much more interesting than anything I could have hoped for with Ward. I used to think this guy was a bad actor, and now I'm realizing how wrong I was. He's playing a very interesting guy at the moment.

Ian Quinn is back. He was always the most delicious and interesting villain this show had to offer. Even though the gravitonium thing is silly, I'm still glad to see he'll be around.

Fitzsimmons adorableness! You can tell that Fitz feels very threatened by Simmons' friendship with Triplett, which I think is adorable. Also, in all this chaos, Fitz is worried that he'll lose Jemma. I loved it when he said he wouldn't want anything to change, and she said it was too late for that. It was sad, but also perfect, because Fitz needs to understand that the world is a different place now. That doesn't mean he'll have to lose his partner, but it does mean that they can't go back to how they were before.

Coulson's meltdown. Really nicely done. A man like Coulson, who has given his entire life to the cause of S.H.I.E.L.D., really needs a purpose. And when he feels like he's lost everything, he'll go a bit off the rails. It's all scary because it's impossible to tell if it's just Coulson freaking out like anyone would freak out, or if it has something to do with the secret of the T.A.H.I.T.I. project. May is really worried that it's the latter. For the first time, I'm really interested in this secret and what it could be building to.

Garrett is a great villain. This actor is doing a fantastic job of toeing the line between being too smarmy and being too cold and calculating. He's unsettling because he just seems so... normal. He's much more fascinating out in the open than he ever was as the Clairvoyant, hiding in the shadows.

After a few fantastic episodes, this show is starting to earn my trust a little bit. I can honestly say I have high hopes for the rest of the season. Although this isn't reaching the prime level of what I hoped it could be, I'm still enjoying myself quite a bit.

8.5/10

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Supernatural: Meta Fiction (9x18)

I don't know... I think I might have been in a bad mood when I was watching this episode, which makes it a tad difficult to be objective about it. In all honesty, I thought Curtis Armstrong did not have his A-game on as far as acting went, so I found myself utterly unconvinced by a lot of what Metatron was saying. But let's slow down and start with what actually happened.

Sam and Dean are still trying to find a way to get to Abaddon, with little success. Cas discovers a group of angels who have all been slaughtered, except for one: Hannah. She tells Cas that Gadreel came and slaughtered all of her fellow angels, on Metatron's orders. She also tells Cas that Gadreel said Metatron would let loyal angels back into Heaven. Cas relays this information to the Winchesters, who decide that they really need to deal with this Gadreel problem.

Sam and Dean manage to catch Gadreel, but they can't get ahold of Cas to tell him what's going on. Dean stays to try and get information about Heaven and Metatron. Sam goes to try and find Cas. Gadreel plays on Dean's insecurities about his relationship with Sam in order to get him to lose control. Dean very nearly kills Gadreel, which is what Gadreel seems to want, but he manages to stop himself. Sam, meanwhile, finds out that Metatron has Cas.

Backing up a bit: After talking with Hannah, Cas is very surprised to see Gabriel turn up and try and convince him to lead the angels against Metatron. Gabriel says he's tired of running and wants to do what's right for once. However, Cas notices a detail that shows him the whole thing is a trick. He finds himself tied up and at Metatron's mercy. Metatron tells him to lead the angel factions - essentially to play his part as the "villain" that Metatron must defeat.

Sam and Dean take Gadreel and go to trade him for Cas. Metatron is completely impervious to all of Sam and Dean's attempts to trap him. He takes Gadreel and hands over Cas, stating that he's going to have fun watching the Winchesters try and stop him. Cas finds out about the Mark of Cain and warns Sam to keep an eye on Dean.

Metatron continues his writing, telling Gadreel that it's his job to create good characters and see where they go, but that he's the only person who knows the ending.

Alllright. Let's start with my complaints.

Metatron's hammy performing. It was too much. His goofy laughter when Cas asked if he was supposed to be the hero... just way over the top in my opinion. It was jarring, and it made Metatron's little "plan" seem even more unbelievable. It seems like he's trying to take on a bit of a trickster-like role, and just wants to watch all the little pieces dance. But in my opinion, that makes him a crap villain. Like, with Crowley, it always makes sense why he keeps Sam and Dean around. He knows they're pretty much unstoppable, so he decides to use them to further his own goals. With Metatron... he says he's read those Carver Edlund books, but I'm not sure he read them close enough. Doesn't he know what happens if you try and make the Winchesters toe the line?

Why doesn't Cas go with Sam and Dean at the end? From a extradiegetic standpoint, I get that Misha isn't slotted to be in the next few episodes. But within the story, it doesn't make any sense why he can't just go with them. I wish they had at least tried to explain that one. A little bit.

And going back to Metatron's plan. At the end, it shows him typing out that Cas goes out to meet his flock, and it looks like Cas does just that. Are we supposed to believe, then, that Metatron really is controlling events by writing them out? Sort of like what Chuck was doing? And if that's the case, why on earth would he set up the whole deal with Gabriel to try and convince Cas to do what he wants? If he's that powerful, why all the theatrics? It doesn't make sense.

To be honest, Metatron's plan doesn't make a lick of sense to me, and it's causing real problems with my ability to see him as a threat. Since I had such a big problem with the very foundation of this episode, it's hard to rate it favorably. However, within the framework, there were a lot of things that I think worked very well.

First of all, kudos to whoever came up with the title "Meta Fiction." It works on so many levels. Metatron, anyone? And what a nice new attempt to break the fourth wall without just reusing the same tired jokes from before. Any mention of the Carver Edlund books is, of course, fantastic. One particularly chilling detail was when Metatron actually burned the book. Ouch.

Then there's Gabriel. Or Meta-Gabriel. Or whatever. At first, I was really disappointed by Richard Speight Jr.'s acting. I thought he seemed... off. Just, too extreme. Too over the top, even for him. He had none of that subtle cunning and underlying darkness that he seemed to have in his previous appearances. I'm listing this under the good section of the review, because I'm choosing to believe that Gabriel was supposed to seem off to us. He was supposed to seem different, because he wasn't real. If that's not the case, then I think it was some shoddy work by the writer, mostly, but also by the actor. But hey. Staying positive. If we're supposed to think that something's not quite right with Gabriel, then I think they did their job very well. Oh, and also, he said "bitch, please," to Cas. That was fantastic.

And hey, I should probably talk about Sam and Dean, right? Oddly, they really weren't the main focus of this episode. Cas was. Metatron was. Sam and Dean were almost a subplot, in a way. I love the way that Gadreel was able to get them both so worked up. For Sam, it was the fact that Gadreel has been inside his head, and knows his deepest thoughts. For Dean, it was playing on that same fact, and exploiting it to make it seem like Dean was hearing his worst imaginings of what Sam really thinks of him. Brilliantly executed by Gadreel. In fact, he was ten times more intimidating than Metatron in this episode, in my opinion.

Dean almost kills Gadreel. The most stressful part of the whole episode for me was when Sam realized that they needed to trade Gadreel for Cas, but he couldn't get Dean on the phone. For a moment, I wondered if they were really going to have Dean kill Gadreel. God, that would have been intense. Jensen did a fine bit of acting in the scene where Sam came back and found Gadreel beaten to a bloody pulp. He looked so lost and confused when he told Sam that he almost killed Gadreel, but then it's like he's trying to convince himself that everything's fine, because he stopped. He stopped in time.

Destiel subtext like woah. Now I don't normally like to comment too much on this stuff because I find it's hard to be objective about Destiel. I'm such a fan of the show and I want - for my own personal reasons - for Dean and Cas to be together. But in this episode... seriously, there are moments where it seems impossible to deny a romantic interpretation of their interactions. The most obvious one is actually the phone call. See, at first it's just Cas and Sam talking business. The first time Dean speaks, we see Cas' face, and it melts into this cute little smile, and says it's good to hear Dean's voice. While talking to Sam, it's about the case. While talking to Dean, it immediately becomes personal. Why on earth would they set it up this way? Clearly, we join them mid-conversation. But they make a special point in showing us Cas' face when he first hears Dean. Really. It's not like Dean says anything particularly clever or funny, and Cas gets this wistful little smile on his face. Also, Dean manages to smile only once in this whole episode, and it's when talking to Cas. Seriously. What the hell else am I supposed to make of that?

But let's not forget the fact that Sam and Cas' relationship is also showcased here. When Sam finds out that Metatron has Cas, he honestly looks terrified. More terrified than we ever see Dean, once he finds out. I think this is very telling: first of all, Sam loves Cas. Cas is a brother to him. Their relationship obviously doesn't get as much screen time as Dean and Cas, but it's still important. Secondly, Dean's lack of a panicked reaction to finding out that Metatron has Cas can be attributed to the Mark of Cain. We're seeing Dean fall farther and farther into this spiral. Lately, he hasn't shown any real concern over anything, even Sam. He's starting to be pulled in even deeper.

I'm so glad we got to see Cas' reaction to the Mark of Cain. This was another moment where they made a point of showing us something that they really didn't need to for the plot. Sam could have told Cas about the Mark of Cain. We could have just assumed that Cas learns about it off-screen somewhere, and move the plot forward like that. But instead, we see a face-to-face reaction as Cas grabs Dean's arm and holds it, examining the Mark, and then "Damn it, Dean." Why did we linger on this moment? Because obviously Dean is falling into a very dark place, and obviously Cas has to be part of what pulls him out of it. I'm beyond excited to see how it all goes down.

Sam and Dean are still strained, but it seems as if Sam's worry for Dean is overwhelming his need for distance. Dean, instead of trying to make things right with Sam, is trying to brush him off and hide his pain. It's going to explode eventually, and it's going to be gloriously filled with angst. I am so pumped.

I'll stop it there. The framework of this episode, especially Metatron's plan, felt weak to me. I wasn't sure what he was even getting at most of the time. However, most everything about this episode made me really anxious for more, which is part of any episode's entire purpose.

7.5/10

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Once Upon a Time: The Jolly Roger (3x17)

I'm cryinnnngggg! Okay, maybe not at this moment. But when I was watching this episode, I actually got a bit choked up. That's pretty rare, I'm a tough costumer when it comes to this sort of thing. But Hook... baby... ahhh! Let's just talk about what happens.

We finally get to learn part of what happened in the missing year! Hook, who is not part of the curse and thus remembers everything, is forced to confront part of what went down. Apparently, he reconnected with Smee and some of his other men. They don't have the Jolly Roger anymore, but Hook and his men are able to keep up their pirating ways on land. One night, at a tavern, the guys try to buy Hook a prostitute. Hook pays the girl but lets her go. Clearly, his heart still pines for another. At this point, a very angry Ariel appears, accusing Hook of kidnapping Prince Eric.

Hook has done no such thing, of course, but he quickly learns from Ariel that the Jolly Roger is involved - whoever is currently crewing that ship, they're the people who took Eric. Hook realizes, based on the dagger that Ariel has, that the man is Blackbeard himself. Hook and his men, with Ariel tagging along, decide to go get the Jolly Roger back. Everyone is very afraid of Blackbeard, but Hook insists that getting his ship back is the only way to get him back to the way he was before. When they arrive at the ship, Hook and Blackbeard fight. Hook initially wins, but Ariel stops Hook from killing him right away: they need him alive to tell them where Eric is! Blackbeard refuses to talk. He says that if Hook surrenders the Jolly Roger, then Blackbeard will tell them where Eric is. Hook makes the wrong choice - he sends Blackbeard off the plank, thus leaving Ariel with no way to find her prince.

In Storybrooke, Emma decides that she needs to learn to control her magic. If Regina can help her, then the two of them together might be able to defeat Zelena. When David and Mary Margaret offer to watch Henry while Emma and Regina get to work, Emma apologetically admits that Henry finds them... boring. Instead, Emma asks Hook to watch Henry again.

We see an interesting conversation between Hook and Smee, wherein Smee wonders why they aren't getting back to their pirating ways, and Hook tells him that he has his reasons for staying. Cue... Emma arriving to talk to him about watching Henry. Hook is happy that Emma is embracing her magic, but Emma insists it's only a means to an end. Once Zelena is taken care of, she's taking Henry back to their life in New York.

While working with Regina, Emma displays incredible power, and Regina is angry that Emma has been wasting all this potential for so long. Mary Margaret and David, annoyed at being considered "uncool" by Henry, decide to do something fun. They let Henry drive, with somewhat chaotic but ultimately harmless results. Henry has a great time with his grandparents, even if he doesn't know that's who they are.

Meanwhile, Ariel washes up on the beach in Storybrooke, looking for Eric. She goes to ask Hook for help, because she figures he might remember something. Ariel, of course, does not remember anything because of Zelena's curse. Hook pretends he doesn't know anything about Eric. In Gold's shop, Belle helps them find a cloak that belonged to Eric and put a locator spell on it. It should then return to its owner. However, the cloak simply floats to the water and goes underneath, thus signifying that Eric must be dead. Ariel is distraught, but she thanks Hook for his kindness in helping her out. Hook's conscience finally gets the better of him, and he tells Ariel the truth about what happened. Ariel asks him to swear on the woman he loves that he's truly remorseful. Hook does so, on Emma's name.

And then... we find out that Ariel has been Zelena all along! She places a curse on Hook, so that the next time he kisses Emma, it will take all of her powers away. Hook insists that he won't kiss her, but Zelena says that she'll make him - see, it turns out that Zelena can't hurt Emma while she has her powers, for some reason... but she can still hurt all the people Emma loves, including Henry. Hook goes to Mary Margaret and David's apartment, in time to watch Emma use her magic to check up on Ariel and Eric. Turns out, as Zelena tells Hook, that Ariel really did find him, and they've been living happily together ever since. As everyone goes out to eat at the diner, Emma asks Hook to come along, but he sadly declines. Emma and Hook discuss the fact that they're tired of living in the past, and they must look forward.

Yikes. This show always takes me a long time to recap, because everything that happens is so freakin' important. Honestly, was there anything I didn't like about this one?

Okay, well, I'm not thrilled about the dorky grandparents Mary Margaret and David. It got a little silly when they were basically trying to compete with Hook over who could be more fun with Henry. Also, is Henry seriously not getting weirded out by all of this? If I were him, I'd be insisting to go home and get back to my regular life!

This is more of a nitpick... does it seem like Zelena's plan is just getting more and more convoluted? Cursing Hook's lips seems like a strange thing to do. After all, it's not like Hook and Emma have been making out all over the place. Hook would have to make a special effort to get close enough to Emma to kiss her again, and now that he knows what would happen, obviously he's not going to! At the same time, of course, he's worried about Zelena hurting Henry and the others. But here's the rub... if Emma has her powers, she can defeat Zelena, and then Emma's family won't be in danger anymore. I somehow think Zelena's plan has a few flaws...

But let's not waste our time on the few problems I had. Mostly, this episode was just... heartbreaking. In a good way. First of all, I love the fact that Emma is learning magic from Regina. The scene with the two of them on the bridge was fantastic. Regina looked a little panicked for a moment that she had accidentally killed Emma, which was actually sort of funny.

Hook, in the Enchanted Forest, trying to be a pirate without a ship... the whole routine with the fake army reminded me of something Robin Hood would have done. I'd sort of like to see those two interact. After all, they're both thieves! It surprised me when Hook's men bought him a bar maid... that was  bit blatant, wasn't it? This show is supposed to be family friendly, theoretically. But I still thought it was an interesting look at Hook's character. He's willing to steal, but he's not willing to have mindless sex. Emma is still in his head, in a big way.

The best part of the episode was Hook's confession to "Ariel" at the end. He was so tearful, so sincere... I started suspecting Ariel the minute she said that he had to swear by the woman he loved. It was a really odd request, and I knew something was fishy. (Haha. Fishy. Mermaid. I'm hilarious.) But Hook's face as he says he still believes in love... that he still loves Emma... ouch. What I love most about this whole thing is that they're doing a very good job of avoiding the "friend zone" trope. We're not supposed to be mad at Emma for not wanting to be with Hook. It's her decision. Hook respects that and we, as the viewers, respect it too. At the same time, we know that Hook is hurting. He's pining, and we feel his pain right along with him.

With Zelena's convoluted plan getting farther and farther along, I'm excited and nervous to see what our beloved characters will have to put up with next time!

8.5/10

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Mentalist: Silver Wings of Time (6x17)

Hmm. Very interesting. Very interesting indeed. I liked this one. It had a very small feel to it, as most of the scenes were at the FBI office. Let us take a look.

A man is killed by a bomb at a bus stop. Turns out, this man was trying to find evidence that his friend wasn't guilty of a crime for which he is being sentenced to death. This friend has only three days left before he is executed. Abbott believes the convicted man when he says he's innocent, and so the team begins to hunt for the real murderer. They figure, whoever murdered the woman all those years ago also killed the guy with the bomb, in order to cover up new evidence he must have uncovered.

The husband of the woman who was murdered all those years ago is now married to a much younger woman. Jane insists that this man, Feinberg, is guilty, but they have no real proof. They bring him in to the office and question him all night, hoping they can get him to fess up before the wrong man is sentenced to death. At first, it seems as if they've failed: the man is executed. However, as Feinberg and his wife leave the FBI HQ, we learn it was all a setup - the man's wife was the one to kill his previous wife, so that they could be together. Luckily, the execution was staged by Wiley editing some news footage. Abbott is able to deliver the good news, and the condemned man goes free.

Meanwhile, Lisbon had a good time on her date with Pike, and is planning on going on another one. Jane does a poor job of hiding his jealousy. Even Fischer seems curious about Lisbon dating someone, and how Jane must feel about it.

What do I think? Well, for starters, I did think there was one rather weak part of this episode: the wife was the murderer. It was obvious from the start, in my opinion. She was acting really fishy. We even had a moment where Jane seemed to notice that she was acting fishy, and we saw it right along with him. If you're going to make it that obvious, then why hide it from the audience? I think we would have gotten just as much joy out of the episode if we had been allowed in on Jane's plan from the beginning. Overall, I think this show relies on the fake-out gimmick a bit too much.

Also, just on a quick note, I was sad to see that Fischer was mostly useless in this episode. She's really grown on me as a character, and I wish we got to see a bit more of her.

But for the most part, things were good!

John de Lancie was really amazing as Feinberg. I got to see him speak at Emerald City Comicon, and it was a real treat. He's an amazing man. He was playing a bit counter to his type in this episode, as it turns out he was innocent all along... no sneaky tricks for Q this time!

Jane is jealous of Lisbon! I have real hope that they're building towards a Jane/Lisbon end game now. I'm really excited about it. I especially loved the moment when Jane told her she looked beautiful. Moments like those are rare and must be treasured.

Wylie continues to delight. He's like a cute little puppy dog. His computer keeps saying the time out loud as a way to keep himself accountable. While at first it just seems annoying, it actually ends up tricking the suspects into thinking it's the wrong time, so they can pull off the execution fake-out.

Abbott was really interesting here. His genuine concern and compassion for the wrongfully convicted prisoner was very interesting. While I feel like it's probably not realistic that an FBI agent would take this kind of personal vested interest, it was still nice to see it in his character.

There you are! It looks like we might not be getting another season after this one... oddly, I'd be okay with that. As long as I feel like these characters get a chance to catch their breaths after Red John, I think the show has done its job.

8/10

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elementary: No Lack of Void (2x20)

I'm on a serious time crunch and I'm behind on my reviews and also I have a life outside of watching TV, believe it or not, so this is going to be an exercise in speed-typing.

Joan is asked to examine someone who collapsed in a holding cell, and she finds that the man is dead, from anthrax poisoning. The hunt is on to find the people responsible. Through many twists and turns, Joan and Sherlock first think the anthrax is tied to a radical political organization, but eventually discover a simpler truth: two brothers wanted to poison their cows with anthrax so they could make millions on the insurance. 

Meanwhile, Sherlock's friend Alistair dies of a drug overdose. Sherlock wants to figure out what triggered the overdose, because Alistair had been clean for decades, and Sherlock is afraid of what this means for his own future sobriety. He acts out, behaving recklessly on the case by following dangerous men into a mysterious dark space. At one point he even gets covered in a powder that he initially believes to be anthrax, but it turns out it was fake. Joan is really worried about him, but Sherlock assures her that he's not close to a relapse. In the end, he visits Alistair's grave and tells him that he loved him very much and that he will be missed.

I honestly don't know if I have a single complaint about this episode. You know, at first when the anthrax thing happened, I was wondering if we were going to have a plot thread where we thought Joan or Sherlock was in danger from the anthrax, and then we'd get to see lots of freaking out and worrying. And that's all well and good, but you know what I love about this show? It's a show about two consultants. They get in to some sticky situations, occasionally, but they're not in imminent threat of dying nearly as often as characters in procedural crime shows usually are. In a strange way, it's much more realistic. I love that.

Joan really took the lead in the anthrax case, in a certain sense. She's very well composed and very astute. She took on parts of the case without Sherlock at all, and was able to make some important discoveries. You go, girl.

Sherlock's emotional journey in this episode was actually a bit difficult to watch at times. My favorite bit was when he acknowledged that he was making Alistair's death all about him, and that he needed to work out his feelings about it all. Also, Sherlock's continued devotion to his sobriety warms my heart. He assures Joan that he would have talked all of this out with her eventually, even if she hadn't pushed him on it. He wants to be honest about what he's going through. And seriously - that scene at the end with the graveyard was really touching. I teared up a little bit!

Yikes. This is really short. Well, I did tell you I was in a hurry!

9/10