September 23, 2016

Grey's Anatomy: Undo (13x01)

Things are picking up right where we left off in last season's finale, which is kind of cool. Lots of drama, most of it pretty interesting. Let's jump in. This show is the hardest one to talk about succinctly...

Cons:

The Meredith/Riggs/Maggie love triangle isn't grabbing me. I was ready to give it a chance last season, but this week it fell flat. It's just that there are a lot of more important things going on, so listening to Maggie whine about Riggs vs. DeLuca when other people's lives are being ruined... well, let's just say that I love Maggie a lot, but I wasn't thrilled with her this week. I especially thought it was annoying that she kept talking about her past with DeLuca while he was in the operating room potentially about to lose the use of his eye. I mean, get a grip Maggie. This is so not about you.

And Riggs went around being the nice guy, checking in on Meredith every step of the way. This little thread felt like a distraction from everything else that was going on. I don't need to know about Meredith's confusing relationships right now. I need to know about Alex. Meredith herself seemed a bit fed up with Riggs popping in to ask her how she was all the time.

September 22, 2016

Modern Family: A Tale of Three Cities (8x01)

To be perfectly frank, I was a little underwhelmed with this premiere. Last season was a low point for Modern Family, and I was hoping to feel a revitalized energy in this season's premiere. Instead, I got an episode that was just... meh.

Cons:

Two of the three plots failed to capitalize on some really funny setups. Cam and Mitchell are in the mid-west with Cam's family, holding a vigil around Cam's dying grandmother. When Mitchell is alone with her in the room, she seems to wake up for a minute and grab Mitchell's hair. This leads to the family walking in as Mitchell is saying "let go." The old woman dies, and Cam's family blames Mitchell. Mitchell goes home and is upset, until he realizes that he too tends to side with his family against Cam sometimes. This plot thread could have been so much funnier. I wanted the grandma to wake up and talk to Mitchell, or something. And we could have done a lot more with Cam's hilarious family, and how they all reacted to Mitchell's supposedly treacherous words to the dying grandmother. The "moral of the story" bit, wherein we learn that sometimes you side with your family over your spouse, also fell pretty flat. In the end, the grandmother left Lily a racist present in her will, and Mitchell "the sissy" got grandma's old lipsticks. If this was meant to be funny, it didn't work.

September 21, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Ghost (4x01)

It's back! And it's darker and more intense than ever. Before we dive in, a PSA: I'm starting night classes which means my free time is decreasing. A lot. So expect these reviews to be rather pithier than usual for a while. Thanks!

Cons:

This episode may have been a little crowded, what with catching us up on everybody. There are a lot of different plot threads to capture. We've got this mysterious new director, the splintering of our team, Radcliffe's AI, Daisy's illicit activities, the introduction of Ghost Rider, and more. It's simply a bit difficult to give each of these plot threads time to breathe. I felt like the most underutilized character here was Yo-Yo. We see that she has signed the Sokovia Accords and is following the rules, but slipping information to Daisy on the sly. I wanted a bit more time to understand her divided loyalties, but unfortunately that was sacrificed for other things.

September 20, 2016

The Big Bang Theory: The Conjugal Conjecture (10x01)

Oh boy. It's back. Honestly this show is kind of a social experiment for me. I don't actually enjoy it, but it fascinates me. Specifically, the fact that it's so popular even after so many years of mediocre content. Let's jump in to the Season Ten premiere!

Cons:

The biggest complaint I have is that this episode was actually trying to do too much. That's not my usual complaint about a show that tends to play it safe. But here we had too many guest stars, and not enough focus on any one element. The plot threads are numerous: Howard is still nervous about being contacted by the government about his invention, Sheldon and Leonard are horrified at the prospect of their parents hooking up, Penny's family is in town and they are worried about being judged, and then finally there's the "big event" - Penny and Leonard tie the knot. Again.

I actually found some details of this quite funny. Penny's family was a delight, for example. But everything was mixed up in such a haphazard way that I felt like very few of the elements here had proper time to breathe. Particularly egregious was the treatment of the subplot with Howard and Raj. I actually want some answers as to what the government wants with Howard's invention, but we got basically nothing here. Howard has a meeting with a member of the air force, but we have to wait to find out the contents of that meeting.

September 15, 2016

Suits: P.S.L. (6x10)

After an entire summer centered around Mike being in prison, this week Mr. Ross takes a back seat. I actually found it rather refreshing!

Cons:

Okay, to nobody's surprise, I'm going to complain about Louis and Tara. Guess what? She's pregnant with her ex-boyfriend's baby. Louis insists that he wants to be with Tara and raise the child, but Tara thinks that they both need more time to think it over. In the end, Louis shows up and proposes to Tara, and she says yes. Okay... so I'm going to talk in a bit about how the final few minutes of this episode were gorgeous and awesome for a lot of reasons. But I still can't get over the fact that Louis and Tara just met, and Louis is still so annoying, and I don't get how either one of them could possibly think this is a good idea. I miss Sheila. I guess I just feel like there were a lot of ways to build out Louis' character and try to set up a good romance. I just didn't buy the way they ended up doing it.

Stu is leaving?! Okay, I'm of two minds about this. I actually liked the scenes with Stu and Donna, and then Stu and Louis. Turns out, Stu and his company have the opportunity for some free real estate because Sutter's company owed them money. They can't turn their backs on that, but it means backing out of their lease and leaving Louis, and PSL, in a rut. While there's nothing wrong in theory about this little plot thread, it does make me wonder... why waste a character like Stu? Why remove him from the story when things were just starting to get interesting with him? It reminds me of the show's treatment of Julius, Mike's prison counselor. So much potential, and then pretty much no follow-through. It's a bummer!

September 08, 2016

Suits: The Hand That Feeds You (6x09)

Only one more episode before the hiatus comes and significantly dampens my eagerness for Wednesdays. I'm happy, as always, with many developments in this episode. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't have some complaints.

Cons:

Surprise, surprise... I'm still not feeling the Tara and Louis thing. Donna acts as the relationship counselor here, as she tells Louis to stay calm and not jump to conclusions about what Tara is up to with Joshua, her boyfriend. Tara tells Louis that Joshua proposed to her, and she told him that she couldn't marry him when she has such strong feelings for another man, which leaves Louis and Tara together. Ugh. I mean I don't think I even need to really get in to what I don't like about this, right? It's the same crap I've been saying since Tara was introduced. It would be so much more interesting to see Louis growing and developing as a character through the plot device of an unconventional relationship. But nope! Apparently Louis is irresistible to a smart, beautiful accomplished woman like Tara for some reason... and now she's throwing away a three year long relationship for him because their love is so strong or whatever. The whole thing annoys the hell out of me. And Donna gets sidelined again which sucks.

Mike and Rachel have a quick phone call in this episode, where Rachel talks to Mike about her death row client. She wants Mike to tell her what it's like to be in prison. Now, this phone call isn't a bad moment or anything, but it just highlighted one of the biggest weaknesses of this season for me: we actually haven't seen what prison is like for Mike, and the scene cuts away from Mike and Rachel's conversation before we can get any real insight. I wish the show would push harder on this issue instead of shoving it under the rug. Also, the brevity of this phone call just highlights again how little screen time Mike and Rachel have been getting. Can she not go visit him in prison yet?

September 01, 2016

Suits: Borrowed Time (6x08)

Very solid episode, with some real forward motion. I'm very happy about most things, but there were a few things I was not so happy about as well.

Cons:

Louis and Tara's subplot might have been okay, but I still don't buy the idea that Tara would even go for Louis in the first place, so it's hard to get invested. Basically, the two of them go out again, despite Louis not being comfortable that Tara has another man in her life. Louis then immediately tells Tara that he doesn't want to share her, and Tara tells Louis to take her home. The next day, Tara says that her boyfriend is coming into town, and she hasn't made up her mind if she wants to break up with him or not. My problems with this are as follows: 1) I don't believe Tara would be interested in Louis. 2) This had the potential to be interesting if we had already seen Tara and Louis' relationship blossom into something more serious. Then, when Tara finds out her boyfriend is going to be in town, it could be a real dilemma about what she's going to do. As it was presented, it just made Tara seem like a bad person for leading them both on. 3) An alternate route would have been interesting as well - what if Louis actually tried to adapt to being in a poly-amorous relationship? There could have been some real exploration of this slightly unconventional dating scenario, and potential for some real growth out of Louis' character, but that was cut off at the pass, as Louis can't even start their second date without declaring that he won't share Tara with anyone. What a waste.

Then there's the other romance of the evening... Jessica Pearson and Jeff Malone. Ugh. Anybody who has read my reviews knows of my distaste for Jeff, but let's set that aside and just focus on what this episode gave us. Basically, Jessica and Jeff run into each other, and they go out to dinner. Jeff says he wants to take things slow, and Jessica then finds out that he's in the process of interviewing for a job in Chicago. Jessica has to remain dedicated to her firm, and Jeff has to go back to Chicago. It looks like there won't be any second chance for these two. (Unless Jessica decides to give up PSL and move to Chicago, which, given Gina Torres is leaving the show after this season, isn't impossible). See, my issue is this: if I were a casual viewer with a short attention span, I might have forgotten entirely about Jeff. And this brief little moment isn't enough for me to remember what they had, and why Jessica would be looking at him so longingly. I'll talk in the "pros" section about Jessica's characterization, because I do like where the show is taking her this season. But I just don't think Jeff is a good enough catalyst for a deeper exploration of Jessica's character.

August 25, 2016

Suits: Shake the Trees (6x07)

Oh no... poor Harvey. That's my main takeaway with this episode, even though Harvey is straight up breaking the law and I probably shouldn't be sympathizing with him quite this much. But still. Poor Harvey. In all, this may have been the weakest installment of the season thus far, but there was still a lot to enjoy.

Cons:

I've been complimenting the speed of the central plot for the past few weeks, but this week I noticed that we're getting a lot of repetition. Harvey shows up at the prison, Mike is surprised to see him, Harvey tells Mike a new piece of information, Mike still has nothing to report back about Kevin. Cahill and Harvey collude, it looks like Sutter might win anyway, Harvey has to do what he can to make it look like he's supporting Sutter while undermining him all the while... I feel like the events of this episode basically recapped what we already knew was going on. Of course, things did move forward, and they moved forward in a few really big ways. But in terms of the pacing and the structure of this episode, I sort of feel like we're getting more of the same.

I'd say my least favorite part of this current plot thread is Mike's characterization. There's this moment where Kevin accuses Mike of regretting taking a deal to save Harvey. Kevin says that he doesn't regret the deal that he took, because he did it to protect his wife, who he loves. It was an interesting moment, and I feel like maybe we're supposed to get the idea that Mike does resent Harvey a little bit for being out and about while he's trapped inside. He even admits something like that to Kevin. But if that's what they're going for, they're just not doing enough to flesh out Mike's character and his motivations. Why is he acting so short and testy with Harvey? Shouldn't he be just a tiny bit grateful that Harvey has been working so hard to rescue him? As tired as I am of seeing Mike in prison, I'm starting to wish we could spend more time with him just in prison, dealing with the daily challenges and maybe learning something about himself from his awful experiences. That doesn't seem to be what's happening, and it's a shame.

August 18, 2016

Suits: Spain (6x06)

This show, man. It does not pull its punches. Let's dive straight in.

Cons:

In subplot news, Louis and Tara's relationship is just gross. Louis gets the house he wanted, but Tara wants to see it before the closing is over, meaning that Louis has to find a way to get her in there to look around before the previous owners have officially vacated. Louis gets Donna to help him out, and they go to look at the house. But the previous owners come in while Tara and Louis are there, ruining the plan. At first, Tara is pissed off, and rightfully so... but then she seems to think it's romantic that Louis bought a house just to spend time with her, and it looks like she has feelings for Louis, too. Ugh. Stop romanticizing deceit 2k16. I really wanted to like this relationship, because I'm a fan of turning Louis from a bumbling annoying failure to a competent adult worthy of his wealth and power. But alas... I can't get behind this relationship. Tara finding the whole thing romantic was really annoying to me. Wasn't she just the least bit creeped out? This plot thread also didn't do any favors for Donna, as she spent the episode supporting Louis in his crazy plans and acting like she deserved a medal for it.

The main plot continues to focus on the delicious mess between Mike, Kevin, Harvey, Cahill, Sutter, et. al. I really like where everything is heading, but I do have one complaint. Mike is struggling to handle the fact that Kevin was arrested for drunk driving, since Mike's parents were killed by a drunk driver. I like the idea of exploring this tension, but the episode started off with Mike having a dream where Harvey came to tell him that Rachel was dead, and that Kevin had killed her. This was just a little on the nose to me. The whole sequence didn't feel like a dream at all. It felt awkward and forced. Usually, even if my dreams are manifesting as a result of my current life circumstances, it's not quite as cut-and-dry as this. There might have been a cool way to have Mike dream about his parents' death, and Kevin's arrest, and even Rachel being in danger, without having it be so spelled out for us.

August 11, 2016

Suits: Trust (6x05)

And we're back. I'm going to dive right in to this one without much preamble. I liked it, though!

Cons:

Louis has a subplot where he asks Donna for her help in buying him a house in the Hamptons, so that Louis can have Tara remodel it. Last week, I said that Louis' thing with Tara had the potential to actually be sweet, but this whole idea of spending absurd amounts of money to lie to a woman in order to eventually court her... it just reeks of the old Louis, the one who always skeeves me out in his behavior towards women. And Donna spent the episode helping him find the house, which relegates her back to a position of Louis' little helper. She's not even supposed to be working for Louis anymore! And in the end, Louis tells Donna that he misses her, and that's enough for Donna to forgive Louis for being a jerk and present him with the perfect house? It felt like a sloppy retread of the same old ground with Louis. The whole thing annoyed me.

August 04, 2016

Suits: Turn (6x04)

Rarely have I been so torn about an episode of this show. Generally I think a certain episode or plot development is either so-so or fantastic. This week, there were some things I really loved, but a few things that I flat-out hated. Let's dive in.

Cons:

So, my two big complaints about this episode both center around Mike's story line. In short, Harvey tells Mike that he has to inform on Kevin and then he can get out, and Mike says no. Harvey wants to tell Rachel to get Rachel to change Mike's mind, but Donna says no - if Rachel finds out that Mike turned down a deal like this, she'll be heartbroken. So then Harvey arranges with Cahill and the warden to drug Mike, pretend it was Frank Gallow, get him out of prison for a short period of time so he can talk him in to taking the deal. He's supposed to go to Cahill, but instead Harvey takes Mike to Rachel. They spend a few hours together, and Mike tells Rachel about the deal, and agrees to take it.

Okay. Where to even start? This whole keeping Rachel in the dark thing is driving me crazy. There's this moment where Donna says that if Harvey tells Rachel what's going on, Rachel will leave Mike. That's... insane. Rachel knows all about Mike's loyalty. If they could get through Mike's decision to go to prison to protect Harvey, Louis, and Jessica, then surely they could get through this too. Then, later, Harvey has Mike lie to Rachel about how he got out of prison for six hours, which is just gross. I get that we're supposed to think everybody cares about Rachel and wants what's best for her... but that's not what I get from this at all. The fact that Harvey has gone to see Mike multiple times, and that we only just now got a phone call between Mike and Rachel in the fourth episode is really annoying. I feel like everybody else is treating her like a child that needs to be coddled and protected. She deserves to have all the information. It sucks that Harvey and Cahill are the only two people in this whole episode who think Rachel deserves to hear the truth. Also, and I hate saying this, but Rachel is just a stronger character without Mike around. Her life is finally moving forward in a way it hasn't been able to in such a long time. There's this sick little part of me that doesn't want Mike to be free, because it'll give Rachel a chance to get her life onto stronger footing without him around to drag her down. Sorry, not sorry. I love Mike, but Rachel might deserve better.

July 28, 2016

Suits: Back on the Map (6x03)

Oh boy. I did not see that coming. This is intense. I'm dying to find out what's next! The really cool thing about this episode is that there were four different story lines going on, and somehow things didn't feel crowded at all. I'm going to start with my few complaints, and then get straight in to looking at each plot thread.

Cons:

No Rachel/Mike. Obviously, you all know I'm here for the Harvey and Mike material. But I'm a little twitchy about the fact that Harvey has gone to see Mike several times already, and Rachel hasn't even gotten a phone call. I hope that changes next week. I want to keep rooting for Mike and Rachel as a couple, but when their relationship is barely even given lip service, that becomes a little difficult.

Louis' plot thread was pretty good in a lot of ways, but it bothered me a little bit that it involved him screwing up again. I wish we could see some plot threads where Louis actually pulls out a win, without first ridiculing him. It's a small thing, but I'm wary of the continuing "Louis is a screw-up" pattern becoming a problem again.

July 21, 2016

Suits: Accounts Payable (6x02)

This show is killing me with its awesomeness. This wasn't a perfectly executed episode, but it hit all the elements of this show that I love the most, so it's going to get quite a bit of leniency from me.

Cons:

Each of the two main plots tonight had one small problem. It wasn't enough to detract from my generally favorable impression, but still.

First of all, in the "Save the Firm" plot thread, we have the return of Jack Soloff. This character vacillates in my mind from totally useless to potentially quite interesting. The trouble with him is that I think we were meant to feel sympathy for him, since he is one of the many partners of PSL who has been screwed over because of Mike. Jessica even makes amends with him in the end, agreeing to pay for his buy-in so he can work at Robert Zane's firm. But this act of generosity from Jessica came after Jack trying to sue her, and Jessica's line about getting him out of the mess because she was the one who caused it just didn't ring true for me. I'm interested, in theory, in the idea of exploring the grievances of other PSL employees and partners who had to scramble to save their careers because of Mike... but is Jack really the best spokesperson for that group? We know too much about his slimy ways for me to feel too much sympathy.

July 14, 2016

Suits: To Trouble (6x01)

Yayyyy! My favorite show is back! I love Suits with an unreasonably amount of fervor, but how can I help it? Great acting, awesome script writing, and a general story that actually pushes things forward instead of getting entrenched in boring and familiar patterns? I'm all in!

Cons:

I don't really have any complaints, but I do have one potential concern. In Mike's side of the episode, which I'll talk about more in a moment, we learn that there's a prisoner who is in there thanks to Harvey. He wants to take revenge on Harvey, and plans on using Mike to do it. I love, love, love the potential here, but I also feel slightly worried that Mike going to prison is going to end up being about Harvey, rather than about Mike. Last season we got a lot of focus on Harvey's character development, and I want this plot thread, with Mike being in prison, to teach us about Mike's character, too. But like I said... that's not a complaint. It's a concern about the trajectory of the season, and I'm more than excited to see where they take it.

July 11, 2016

Outlander: Dragonfly in Amber (2x13)

So, we finally get the jump forward that book fans have been looking for all season. Twenty years have passed since Claire said goodbye to Jamie and traveled back to her own time. Her daughter Brianna is an adult, and Frank Randall is dead. Oh yeah, and we have to keep flashing back to the preparation for the battle of Culloden, too. Can't forget that.

Cons:

This episode was split up between the final preparations for the Battle of Culloden, and flash-forwards to Claire and her daughter Brianna twenty years later, in the year 1968. I enjoyed almost everything in the episode on its own merit, but there was too little of the stuff in the past, and too much of the flash-forward stuff. As a result, this episode felt like a solid Season Three premiere, rather than a Season Two finale. Usually finales are supposed to wrap up the plot threads of the season, but we didn't even so much as see Charles Stuart in this whole episode, and the battle wasn't depicted at all. I think we'll probably get some of that next season, but for me it left a very incomplete feeling to the season, to not be able to see how some of these things were resolved.

As a result of the Culloden stuff getting so little screen time, a lot of plot had to happen very quickly. In short, Jamie and Claire discuss the possibility of assassinating Charles Stuart to prevent the battle from taking place. Dougal overhears, and attacks Jamie. Jamie is forced to kill his uncle in self defense. Rupert then walks in and sees Jamie leaning over the dead Dougal, with the knife still buried in his chest. Rupert promises to give Jamie two hours before he tells everybody what he's seen. Jamie rushes to make preparations - he signs a deed giving over Lallybroch to young Jamie Murray, his nephew and namesake, so that the land won't be seized after the failed rebellion. The Murrays never rebelled, after all. Jamie entrusts the deed to Fergus and sends him off to ride for Lallybroch. Then, Jamie has to take Claire to the stones at Craigh na Dun. They say their final goodbyes, and Claire goes through the stones.

June 27, 2016

Outlander: The Hail Mary (2x12)

Alright... penultimate episodes are always intense, and this one was no exception, with a couple of major deaths and a final sealing of some tragic fates. Let's get going.

Cons:

We get a time jump in this episode, which was a little bit awkward. Other than Claire telling us that time had passed in some rather sloppy exposition, I didn't really get the sense that things had changed. There was a lot of telling instead of showing in this episode. For example, Jamie warns Prince Charles that the men are weak from lack of food and rest, but we don't really spend much time with these men, to see how run down and demoralized they've become. In fact, this complaint stretches into an even bigger one: there were two very important character-driven plots in this episode, but they took up so much space that the third plot, the one concerning the actual uprising, got relegated to a subplot. In short, Jamie manages to convince Charles to lead a surprise attack on the British camp. Claire finds out the location from Black Jack Randall, which I'll get to in a second, and the men all move out to attack. But Charles' troops get lost in the night, and Jamie's column of men is forced to turn back, unwilling to attack with insufficient troops. This means that Charles' original plan will follow: they will meet the British the following day on Culloden Moor.

I mean, this is important stuff, guys. The whole season has been building up to this fateful battle. And the plot leading up to its inevitable arrival was relegated to a rushed few minutes of screen time at the start and finish of the episode. It's difficult to complain too much about this, because the other plot threads were really intense and I enjoyed them a lot. But is this really the time to be pushing the Jacobite plot into the background?

June 20, 2016

Outlander: Vengeance Is Mine (2x11)

While perhaps not as solid as some other installments this year, I found "Vengeance Is Mine" to be compelling for a couple of key reasons, and I'm certainly still looking forward eagerly to the last few episodes of the season. Let's jump in.

Cons:

The reason I say this isn't as solid is that some of the big moments didn't feel as grand as they might have done. The decision to have Jamie sent away from Bonnie Prince Charlie happened in a moment, I didn't feel like the full weight of this switcheroo was fully felt. Basically, Jamie goes from being Charles' trusted advisor to being sent along to Inverness on a fool's errand, simply to get him out of the way. Jamie was the only of Charles' officers to encourage him to march forward to London, which Jamie knew would have changed the course of history. In failing, he also seems to have lost his position as the right hand of the prince. It should have felt like a serious blow, but instead the issue was muddled by the fact that we only find out about this switch because Dougal delivers a letter with the news, and suddenly our heroes are turning about-face and heading to Inverness.

The other big moment is the reveal that the Duke of Sandringham was a bigger villain than we ever knew. I think maybe the reason I sort of shrugged off this event was that it was just revealing that an obviously bad guy is a bad guy. Turns out, the Duke owed the Comte St. Germain money, and to ease some of the debt he agreed to have Claire attacked and raped. So it was the Duke who sent the men after Claire and Mary Hawkins. We also learn that the Duke is... dun dun dun... Mary Hawkins' godfather, which adds further levels of complication. While I appreciated a hell of a lot of the elements of this plot thread, the Duke's character came across a bit too camp, and a bit too comedic to ever feel like a proper threat. Let's just say that there was a lot of metaphorical mustache twirling going on.

June 13, 2016

Outlander: Prestonpans (2x10)

Nooooooo. Okay before I start reviewing this episode, I want to say that I straight up don't remember how this goes down in the book. I do know that our dearly departed character of the week played a significantly reduced role in the books, and didn't hang out with Claire and Jamie as much as he does in the show. I also know that I care a hell of a lot more about him in the TV version than I did in the books... in fact, I don't really remember his literary counterpart. Let's get to talking about this.

Cons:

This was one of those episodes that hit every emotional angle it needed to, and also had a lot of forward motion in the plot... but at the same time, I did feel like the top half of the episode was a little sluggish in terms of the pacing. We've been building up to actual battle for a long time, pretty much all season, and to have to wait so long for the fight within this episode didn't feel like the tense ramp-up that I think it was meant to.

Also, in regards to the death, they made it painfully obvious what was coming, which took away a bit of the horror of it all. But that's a small thing, and I was certainly still devastated.

June 06, 2016

Outlander: Je Suis Prest (2x09)

This is one of the better episodes this show has ever had. I'm getting mighty nervous for the rest of this season, because I anticipate a lot of angst. In fact, I'm pretty much guaranteed it at this point. Let's get talking about this episode.

Cons:

There were only two small things I'd call "flaws" in this episode, and they were more matters of slight discomfort for me. First of all, Jamie makes the decision to sentence himself to flogging in this episode for being lax with the security of his training camp. This isn't at all a bad decision from a leadership standpoint, but it all happened so fast, and the ramifications were so little dwelt on, that the whole scene gave me whiplash. It's like I knew this scene was supposed to teach me something new about Jamie or about the situation, but I couldn't quite figure out what.

The other thing is even more difficult to describe. We meet Lord John Grey in this episode (yay yay yay my excitement knows no bounds) and then we get Claire and Jamie cleverly tricking him into giving up information about his camp of British soldiers. How do they trick him? Claire pretends to be a British prisoner of the dirty Scots, and Jamie threatens to rape her unless poor teenaged John does the right thing and saves her honor. Now, in the books, this is much more subtle. John sees Jamie and Claire goofing off and comes to the wrong conclusion, hearing Claire's English accent. He actually confronts Jamie for the sole purpose of saving Claire's precious honor, and Jamie, perceiving that this annoying little intruder has got the wrong idea, decides to role with it, leveraging Claire's completely fabricated distress against John's helpful knowledge about the nearby British camp. I liked this in the books because the whole thing played off of John's unfair assumptions about Scottish brutality. He dug his own grave by making an unfair guess about his enemies. In this version, we get Claire and Jamie playacting sexual assault, on purpose, to force John to do what they want. Obviously as the viewers we know that Claire is fabricating this story to a) get them the information that they want and b) stop Jamie from having to cause the boy bodily harm. I just... I don't know. The presentation in the book of this same scenario is so much more subtle. In a show that deals very seriously with the consequences of rape and sexual assault, it's very jarring to see Claire and Jamie acting out such a scenario, even when I understand the reasoning.

May 31, 2016

Outlander: The Fox's Lair (2x08)

This episode was something of a transition episode, reminding us of old characters and accelerating the Jacobite plot back in Scottish territory. In all, I'm pretty happy with it.

Cons:

There was a bit of a problem with this episode, and that's that it felt slightly disjointed. The first few scenes are at Lallybroch, and then after that we jump to Lord Lovat's estate, and by the end of the episode we're off to join the uprising. A lot happened in one episode, and there didn't seem to be a seamless connection between all the different parts. One thing I generally admire about this show is its ability to keep an episode thematically tied together, even if a bunch of different things happen in it. I didn't feel much of that thematic resonance here.

Also, Laoghaire makes a reappearance in this episode, in a total departure from the books. Basically, she ends up at Lovat's estate as a maid for Colum. She apologizes sincerely to Claire, and then later Claire uses her to try and soften up Lord Lovat's son and get his support for the uprising. In the end, Jamie thanks Laoghaire for her assistance, at Claire's insistence, and we see that Laoghaire still has dreams of winning Jamie's love. Okay... I don't mind Laoghaire being weaved back into the story here. In fact, I find the actress really likable, and I get the need to see her again and reintroduce her character to the story so that viewers will remember her when she becomes important later. But this plot thread presented a rather unbalanced image of her. She seems truly repentant, but then in the end she's still scheming to win Jamie from Claire? And Claire's behavior was a little unbalanced, too. Are we meant to see Laoghaire as a scheming evil bitch who tried to have Claire killed, or a lovesick girl who didn't know what she was getting involved in, and truly feels bad? Claire's reactions to her seem to vacillate between these two very different things.