March 27, 2017

The Walking Dead: Something They Need (7x15)

This episode had actual forward momentum, and contained multiple subplots. It still doesn't feel like enough is going on, especially for a penultimate episode of the season, but I'm much happier with what we got here than with what we've been getting for most of the season. Let's take a look.

Cons:

The weakest of the plot threads was at Hilltop, as we see Maggie and Gregory discuss their difficult situation. Gregory seems to be contemplating killing Maggie for a moment there, as he knows she threatens his authority. However, we later see that he isn't even capable of killing a Walker. Maggie has to do it for him. I think my problem with this plot thread is that I too have trouble understanding why Maggie is staying at Hilltop. She could go back to Alexandria now, couldn't she? Especially since the doctor is gone? And Gregory is beyond unpleasant. He's just not fun to watch. He's a wimpy and annoying irritant and nothing more. I don't feel a connection to him. And that can be fine sometimes, sure, but it makes it difficult to spend extended time with his character.

Once Upon a Time: Page 23 (6x14)

Yeah, okay! I like where we're taking this. Avoiding some cliches, resolving some dangling threads in a good way, forward momentum in other places... this isn't a stand-out amazing episode or anything, but it's an episode that does its job very well.

Cons:

The Evil Queen storyline wraps up in this one, and while I liked a lot of things about it, perhaps it could have been a little less cheesy. Essentially, Regina makes the decision to give some of her love to the Evil Queen, and in turn, take some of her Darkness. A more evenly balanced Evil Queen is given the chance to start somewhere fresh, and it looks like she and Alternate Universe Robin are going to be together in the wish realm. That's all well and good, but it bothered me that both Regina and the Evil Queen seemed to be totally good now. You would think that the Evil Queen would be more like Regina was when she was whole, back before her redemption. A villain, but one with a real chance. Instead, it's like Regina found a shortcut, and now the Evil Queen is a docile hero. Not all that interesting, and perhaps a little too contrived. I also thought that Robin being cut out of the story again was a little cheap. Maybe it wasn't the best idea to bring him back in the first place, but I really thought they'd have more to do there. Oh well.

Pros:

That being said, I'm glad that this whole Evil Queen thing managed to trick me. I thought Regina would be forced to re-combine the two sides of herself, and in a way, she did. But this way, we still have two separate Reginas running around, which is a lot more interesting.

Elementary: Dead Man's Tale (5x18)

A really solid episode, actually! I enjoyed the case of the week more than I usually do, and the Shinwell plot took a very sharp turn that I'm extremely excited about.

Cons:

It's possible that the case of the week, which involved hidden pirate's treasure, took a few too many turns. There were so many suspects, so many new pieces of information, that it got a little convoluted. We've got the discovery of the body in a storage unit, the reveal that the victim was stealing stuff from dead people without heirs, the revelation about a notorious pirate's captain's log, the back-and-forth about the ship wreck and who got to it first... it just got a little messy in places.

Pros:

But that's a small complaint, because I actually liked the way the plot dipped in and out of so many different possibilities. There were several points where people flat-out confessed to pieces of the mystery, having no idea about the larger case going on around it. And hidden treasure is always a fun concept for a show like this. Lots of great moments of dialogue, particularly from Gregson and Bell, as the gang navigated this world of illicit artifact sales, salvage expeditions, and more. I loved the moment when Bell talked about the Ark of the Covenant, and Sherlock replied "that's in a warehouse in Yemen." Priceless. If anybody would know, it would be Sherlock.

Grey's Anatomy: Till I Hear It From You (13x17)

An episode featuring two really, really annoying characters doing really annoying things. I want to scream. But there were some good bits here and there, too, so...

Cons:

Maggie. Ugh. I really loved Maggie when her character was first introduced, but now? Grumble grumble. She's horrible to her mother because her mom wants a boob job, and then when she finds out the truth that her mother has cancer, she yells at Jackson for keeping it a secret, even though he's legally obligated to do so. There's this moment at the end where Maggie confides in Meredith that her mother is really sick, and she needs some comfort. I was having trouble feeling much sympathy, because Maggie's behavior towards her mother has been inexcusable. I could have handled some ranting and raving where Maggie lets off steam about the weirdness of this situation to her sisters. But for her to treat her mom like crap, then blame Jackson for that later? Not cool, Maggie. Not cool.

Also not cool: Amelia trying to pin the blame for her current life struggles on Owen. For Christ's sake. Owen just wants to know what's going on with his marriage, and Amelia accuses him of smothering her with what he wants. She demands that he explain to her why he wants a baby, accusing him of having something missing in his life that he thinks a baby will fix. She goes on and on about "for better or for worse," and the whole time I'm thinking... um... Amelia, you left him. And Owen has been more than understanding, all things considered. Like, give the dude a break. In no way, shape, or form is he the bad guy here.

March 20, 2017

Once Upon a Time: Ill-Boding Patterns (6x13)

In some ways, this title is very fitting, and not in a good way. Let's just dive right in, shall we?

Cons:

One of my biggest complaints about this show is how often it retreads familiar ground. In this episode, we have a subplot where Zelena is being shady and then backtracks, and one where Rumple struggles against the darkness within. We even have - shudder - a possible retread of the Belle/Rumple romance. There are new elements, of course, but it feels like we've been here before.

The one big piece of information that was added this week actually really, really pissed me off. In the flashbacks, we see Rumple and a young Bae back during the Ogre Wars. Beowulf is there, and he's angry because as the Dark One, Rumple ends the Ogre Wars, taking away Beowulf's glory. He concocts a plan to lure Rumple and Bae away, and then reveals that he's going to pin a bunch of murders on Rumple and then kill him, becoming a hero by killing the Dark One. So then what happens? Well, Rumple has given Bae the Dark One Dagger, telling him not to let Rumple use Dark Magic. Instead, Bae orders his father to kill Beowulf, as he is convinced this is the only way to protect them. Rumple later gives Bae a memory potion so he'll forget what he's done. Bae thinks Rumple killed Beowulf all on his own, and is horrified at his father's behavior.

The Walking Dead: The Other Side (7x14)

Okay, this was a good one. Not a great one, but good. It certainly had a lot of individual moments I enjoyed.

Cons:

We split our time between Hilltop, and Sasha and Rosita. Both halves of the episode had more good than bad, but there was still a fair amount of bad. For example:

Gregory, Hilltop's leader, is nonsensically annoying and rude. Why would any of his men follow him? Why hasn't anybody just killed this guy already? It's frustrating that whenever Simon, Negan's henchman, stops by Hilltop to collect materials, I can't focus as much on evil Simon because Gregory is there to be a wet towel.

Sasha and Rosita had a number of great moments, and Rosita started to thaw out a little bit. That's all well and good, but it's ruined by the fact that I still think both of these women could do soooo much better than Abraham, even with the slim pickings available during a zombie apocalypse. When Sasha is saying that she was happy with Abraham, all I can think is that they weren't really together for very long. Did we even see them kiss?

Elementary: The Ballad of Lucy Frances (5x17)

A perfectly average and adequate episode. This is probably going to be a fairly short review.

Cons:

There were perhaps a few too many twists and turns before getting to the bad guy. The most successful procedural plots feel relevant to the characters, and are both succinct and surprising. This one misses the mark, even though it did have a lot of good elements. I didn't like the fact that the murderer was a mayoral candidate. I feel like somebody that important would make somebody else do the dirty work. A small complaint, but still.

Shinwell is back in the mix, and while I'm happy about that in theory, I don't like that Sherlock is the one who interacts with him throughout his subplot. I wanted Joan and Shinwell's relationship to have more focus. I feel like Sherlock swooped in and stole Joan's side-adventure!

March 17, 2017

Grey's Anatomy: Who Is He (And What Is He to You)? (13x16)

An April and Jackson episode! Interesting. I keep waiting for the episode that's going to deal with this whole Owen/Amelia mess, but instead we get one focusing on another of our broken couples.

Cons:

I liked this episode. I did. But what I just said above is actually a problem. Grey's Anatomy often shines strong when it does focused episodes. This particular hour had none of our main characters other than Jackson, April, and Catherine, and while I don't mind that necessarily, I do wish the pacing of the rest of the season felt a little tighter.

Essentially, the medical side of this episode was all about helping a girl with throat cancer. At first, it seemed like the episode was going to be about getting a father to agree to sign over his dead son's organs, but then he agreed really quickly, and it turns out the kid's throat had a legion, meaning they were back to square one. This scene could have been taken out entirely. The father of the dead kid went from insisting there was still hope for his son, to signing over his son's organs, in like thirty seconds. It felt awkward and ultimately led nowhere, and I could have done without it.

March 16, 2017

Modern Family: Pig Moon Rising (8x17)

I can see what this episode was trying to be, but... unfortunately it didn't really work out that way.

Cons:

The idea behind this one is that everybody is lying to everybody else, and they have to ask for favors in order to cover up their secrets. In the end, the truth comes out, and Luke ends up unraveling a lot of the problems that the rest of his family is going through. It's the kind of setup that, in an earlier season of Modern Family, probably would have worked fantastically. I can imagine a lot of laughs, and some heartfelt underpinnings. Unfortunately, what we got instead was a bit of an overcrowded mess:

Mitchell accidentally spilled the ashes of Cam's childhood pet pig, Cam accidentally ruined a painting Lily made of said pig, Haley doesn't want her parents to know she has a bunch of unpaid parking tickets, Jay tries desperately to get Gloria Estefan tickets after lying and telling Gloria that he already had them, Phil and Claire talk to the dean of admissions at Phil's alma mater to get Luke a spot, and then lie to cover it up... there's just so much happening here, and so little of it gets a chance to really shine.

March 13, 2017

The Walking Dead: Bury Me Here (7x13)

I want to care about Morgan. I do. I want to be emotionally affected by what's going on with his character. Sincerely. I'm not sure if it's the show's failing or my own that's making that difficult...

Cons:

In short, this week we see the breaking point between the Saviors and the Kingdom. Richard is insistent on making a stand, so he orchestrates a showdown by hiding one of the melons that the Kingdom is supposed to be delivering to the Saviors. The Saviors, in retaliation, shoot Benjamin, the teenager that Morgan has started to bond with. He dies. Later, when the group comes back to deliver the missing melon, Morgan snaps, strangling Richard and killing him. He does this in part to affirm the Kingdom's loyalty to the Saviors. But he also does it in revenge for Benjamin's death. Morgan tells Carol what really went down with Negan, and Carol decides to stop hiding. She comes back to the Kingdom and tells Ezekiel that they need to get ready to fight. He agrees.

This is a plot that would, could, and should work. It's just that this show is stretched so thin. And the twist of Morgan snapping and killing Richard would work a lot better if I had spent more time getting to know Richard as a character. Same thing with Benjamin. His death should have been a weighty tragedy, but at most it was an expected shocker to propel us into the third act of the episode. This is difficult to articulate, but it almost feels as if Morgan snapping and becoming violent is something the writers decided needed to happen, rather than something that organically grew out of the character.

Once Upon a Time: Murder Most Foul (6x12)

Oh no! I'm so upset! Gahhhhh.

Cons:

The bulk of this episode was taken up with the main plot between David and Killian, and that was very successful. Regina and AU!Robin had a subplot that was also, for the most part, successful, but... I do have my complaints. First of all, there's this horrible little moment where Zelena shows up out of the blue, yells at Regina that this new Robin has no rights to his daughter, and then leaves again. It felt like an awkward, shoe-horned cameo. I just kept picturing the actress being called onto the set so she could be on screen for about thirty seconds of the episode. It was weird and forced.

Beyond that, there's a more serious problem with what's going on with Regina here. She brings AU!Robin to her vault and tells her about his, or rather original Robin's, children. She also tells him to resist revenge on the Sheriff of Nottingham. He should try to be a better person.

Elementary: Fidelity (5x16)

Sometimes when I write these reviews, I feel as if I'm not eloquent enough to explain myself. I don't have the vocabulary or experience of someone who studied film and television in school. I'm just a girl who watches a lot of television and likes to write about it. I don't mean to get all speculative at the beginning of this random review of Elementary, but I think I'm going to have a hard time getting at my feelings on this episode, so... fair warning.

Cons:

This episode did not capitalize on the potential from last week's cliffhanger. Sherlock spends only the first two minutes under arrest, and then is back with Kitty and Joan to solve the case. The buildup of tensions between Kitty and Joan from last week are largely unaddressed, and Kitty and Sherlock's relationship is instead focused on. The conspiracy leading to the deaths of all these people is not quite as interesting or as intense as I think we're supposed to think it is. I wanted this second part of the story to be a real stand-out episode, and instead it was just middling in terms of the plot.

The thing that really sticks out as a problem for me is that Joan is largely sidelined for the emotional beats of this episode. She's there to encourage Sherlock and Kitty to talk through their problems, but at no point do we get to learn what she thinks of all of this. Does she have any regrets about never becoming a mother? Is she still satisfied in her job, or what? Does seeing Kitty make her think about her own efforts to help Shinwell? We just have no idea. I wish with all my heart that Joan's emotions were given more time on this show. She's such a fascinating and subtle character. There's more there, and we're missing it.

March 11, 2017

The Vampire Diaries: I Was Feeling Epic (8x16)

I cried so much, you guys. So much. I don't even care that that was the cheesiest effing thing I've ever seen in my life. I cried a lot. I can't. I fucking cannot. I feel emotionally manipulated but I'm just letting it sink all over me. This is just a teen soap. This is one of the first shows I ever got emotionally invested in. I can't believe they did what they did. I can't believe I cried SO. MUCH.

Cons:

I don't know, man, I would have liked to see Jeremy and Elena interact a bit at the end? They got the actor playing Jeremy to appear for like 0.2 seconds. Couldn't they have had them reunite? The whole thing was a sob-and-cheese-fest, and that was one moment that I missed out on seeing.

The only thing that got a LITTLE too cheesy was Enzo and Bonnie. I felt like we got a good scene of Enzo being Bonnie's cheesy little spirit guide in the last episode, and then when he kept popping up it felt a little bit like overkill? But that might be because this episode was so teeth-rotting in its cheesiness that the Enzo stuff was what pushed it over the edge? I don't know. Small complaint.

March 10, 2017

Supernatural: Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell (12x15)

You know, this episode of Supernatural actually did something quite clever. The story structure was strange, in that in some ways this was a C-plot episode, but in other ways, the main plot of the episode served as a bridge between the biggest going concerns in the main plot. This is even cleverly suggested by the title, "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell." Let's dive in.

Cons:

I really don't have much to complain about. Clumsy exposition in one or two spots, I guess... that's always true of this show, though. Also, Sam does lie to Dean about working with the BMOL, which I specifically said would piss me off if it happened. Luckily, by the end of the episode it's resolved. I actually didn't mind it too much, but I still think it's annoying that Sam lied to Dean about it even a little bit. It felt unnecessary after all the hooplah over Mary lying.

Pros:

So, the main plot of the episode is that a young couple are camping, when suddenly the guy, Marcus, gets ripped apart by a Hell Hound. The girl, Gwen, is also attacked, but she gets away. Sam and Dean show up, and they call in Crowley for an assist. He wants to kill this Hell Hound too, because it's Ramsey, the original Hell Hound, controllable only by Lucifer himself. Sam manages to kill the beast, and all is well.

Grey's Anatomy: Civil War (13x15)

This is an emotionally exhausting show sometimes. I don't know if I mean that in a bad or a good way at the moment... suffice it to say, this episode was kind of tough to watch, in that it was pretty relentlessly negative.

Cons:

Like I said - pretty relentlessly negative. We've got tons of different stories going on, all of them focusing on the idea of friends fighting friends, family fighting family. You've got Alex and Riggs fighting, with Meredith and Andrew stuck in the middle. Jackson, April, Catherine, and Richard are in a big fight. Owen v. Amelia, with Maggie and Stephanie interfering, or rather, trying not to. And then there's Arizona basically betraying Richard by getting closer to Minnick, and all sorts of other nonsense. When it's all piled together in one episode, you're left with such a feeling of despair at the end of it all.

The one character who I found particularly frustrating this week was Jackson. He's defending Richard, but he's doing it against Richard's own stated wishes. I mean, Meredith came back because Richard told her to, but here's Jackson, being told to back down by Richard himself, and he keeps saying: nope! I'm defending you! It's annoying because I don't necessarily think he's all the way wrong, but he's so righteous about it, and so unwilling to even contemplate the other side of this. I like Jackson, but I found myself frustrated by his behavior this week.

The Big Bang Theory: The Escape Hatch Identification (10x18)

I admire the fact that this episode, and in fact this whole plot thread for Raj, is trying to push the story and his character in a more serious direction. But... there are some logical fallacies here that I just can't ignore.

Cons:

I don't understand why Raj is in such dire financial straits. I assume he makes about the same as the other guys, and yet he can't afford to live on his own, or at least with a roommate? These guys all have apparently large disposable incomes, if we look at all the takeout they order, and the nerdy stuff they spend their money on. I guess the tension of this scenario just doesn't carry that much weight when I don't understand the logic behind it.

Pros:

That being said, I do enjoy watching Raj's struggle. Basically, he's looking for a new place to live. Howard offers him the garage, but just as he's about to accept, Leonard offers him Sheldon's old bedroom. Raj goes for the indoor option. Raj moving into this old bedroom brings out some problems for the rest of the group. Stuart admits that he plans on mooching indefinitely, while Amy and Sheldon are struggling with the fact that Sheldon resents Raj for taking his old bedroom. Penny and Leonard discover that they're letting roommates live with them to fill a hole in their marriage. How do they come to this conclusion? Leonard's mother, Beverly, skypes with Sheldon about his concerns, and she starts psycho-analyzing the whole group. In the end, Raj, apologizes for causing problems, and it looks like he's still on the search for a more permanent solution to his housing problem.

March 09, 2017

Modern Family: Basketball (8x16)

This episode had a ton of really funny jokes in it, but the structure of the story-lines themselves didn't always hold up. Still, it was a success for the most part. Let's take a closer look.

Cons:

Claire's plot thread involves a mishap at work. She learns that she has sold closets built with contaminated wood, and tries frantically to track them all down before Jay finds out that she screwed up. Jay, meanwhile, is trying to teach Joe to fear him. Upon realizing how much Claire fears him, he decides that maybe fear isn't the best way to raise a child.

I asked for more stories about Claire at work, but... not like this. Somehow this became again about Claire and Jay's relationship, which wouldn't be a bad thing if there were something heartfelt to grab on to. This wasn't a horrible plot thread necessarily, but Jay learning the lesson that fear is a bad way to raise kids was sort of tacked on at the end, and it didn't really feel like it amounted to anything. Ben can be funny, but he's underutilized, and this whole plot thread felt very repetitive.

Cam, Mitchell, Haley, and Rainer get their own little story, which I mostly enjoyed. However, there was a really lackluster punchline at the end. Mitchell says that there are some things he'd rather not ask Cam to do, and Cam gets all offended that Mitchell doesn't open up to him. So then Mitchell does ask Cam to do the thing, and it's... shaving his back. That's neither funny nor gross enough to be an effective punch line. It's a small moment in the course of the plot thread, but it's supposed to be the joke that Cam and Mitchell's little squabble was all leading up to. Pretty disappointing.

March 06, 2017

Once Upon a Time: Tougher Than the Rest (6x11)

I have so many questions. So many, many questions.

Cons:

I didn't hate this episode, in the sense that many of the details in it were quite nice. But I've got to be brutally honest, here: the entire "Wish Realm" thing ends up being a total cop-out. Emma and Regina are already back, safe and sound. That was quite a detour for no real payoff. I wanted to see how things played out here! I wanted to see Prince Henry. I wanted to spend time with Emma as she fought the duality of herself. The princess that never was but could have been, and the Savior part of herself that she both cherishes and dreads. But... nope. As has become abundantly clear by the end of this episode, the entire Wish Realm is just a convoluted way of getting Robin back into the story.

Yep. That's right. Regina takes Wish Realm Robin back with her, defying one of the key plot points that started off this whole show in the first place. The magic wardrobe is only supposed to be able to take two people! But now suddenly three can go, no problem? Seriously? And conveniently, while everybody else aged, Robin hasn't. This is because maybe somehow the real Robin's soul was transferred to this realm through a wish or some such bullshit? Now, the thing is, I didn't like the fact that Robin was killed off, so a part of me is happy to have him back. But the Wish Realm could have provided us with episodes worth of fun storytelling. Instead, we get half a second with campy Rumple, a fun scene with older Hook, and... bam. Back to our regular story. Ugh.

The Walking Dead: Say Yes (7x12)

Rick and Michonne! Yay! I'm really happy that we got an episode to focus on their relationship. However, I'm sad to say that I can't give this episode an unequivocal positive rating. It definitely still had some problems.

Cons:

Most of the episode focuses on Rick and Michonne going out looking for guns, which I liked a lot. They end up succeeding in finding those guns, and then bring them back to Jadis. It's at this point that I start rolling my eyes again, because Jadis is such a strange, cartoonish figure. She talks weird, and she makes demands of Rick that don't seem justified, seeing as Rick has all the guns. It totally took me out of the moment. The upshot of it all is that our heroes now have guns, and might stand a chance against Negan.

Rosita has been an enigma for me all season. She's so angry and bitter and frustrated, and I get all of that... but I feel as if I'm being told that she feels that way, instead of getting to see the ins and outs of her emotional journey. This episode had a supremely awkward conversation between Gabriel and Rosita, where she blamed him for putting doubts into her head about killing Negan. She says that this is why Olivia and Spencer are dead, and why Eugene was taken. But... this doesn't make any sense. Rosita did take the shot at Negan. Sure, she hit Lucille instead, but she did indeed try to kill him. So how did Gabriel screw things up, exactly? We also have to listen to Gabriel give a lame little sermon about taking chances and living life. Ugh. Go away, Gabriel.

Elementary: Wrong Side of the Road (5x15)

Kitty! Love of my life! I adore this character, and I was beyond thrilled to see her return. I'm also excited that this is a two-part episode, because that means we get to spend more time with Kitty before she leaves again and breaks my heart. Let's jump right in.

Cons:

I suppose the only thing to really complain about here is that I care more about the characters than I do about the story. That's par for the course with this show, though. And this episode, the first of a two-parter, served to highlight the problems the rest of the season has been having. I felt personally invested in the case this week because it was related to the characters. That hasn't happened lately on this show, and we've been getting what other reviewers like to call "procedural fatigue." Also, the return of Kitty just highlights how underutilized Shinwell has been all season. See what you can do with a guest character? A protege? I want Shinwell to get more screen-time stat.

Pros:

So, the case this week, as full of details as it is, can mostly be boiled down to this: Kitty returns to warn Sherlock that a former Scotland Yard colleague's death wasn't a natural heart attack, but was instead murder. Turns out that multiple people all connected to the same case have been dying, and Kitty thinks that she and Sherlock might be next, since it was a case they consulted on back in London. From there we get multiple suspects and twists and turns, until finally our main suspect (the man who Sherlock and Kitty helped to put away in the first place) falls to his death, in an apparent suicide that looks to be yet another disguised murder.