Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Legend of Korra: Original Airbenders (3x07)

Jumping straight in to the plot.

We finally get to see what's been happening at the Northern Air Temple. Tenzin finds teaching quite difficult, as nobody seems interested in all of the Air Bending legends and techniques. He decides to change strategies, drilling everyone very intensely, just like Bumi told him to do. However, this also backfires, as people are tired of working so hard and want to leave.

Kai keeps skipping out on Air Bending lessons to hang out with Jinora. The two of them find a herd of Sky Bison, and play with the babies. A group of poachers, who are rounding up Air Benders to bring back to Ba Sing Se, find Jinora and Kai and kidnap them. Jinora uses her connection with the Spirits to contact Bumi's Spirit friend, thus alerting the Air Benders to Kai and Jinora's fate. The Air Benders, led by Bumi, go to rescue the kids.

Tenzin sees that the Air Benders are all sticking together after all, which is great. However, he's still fed up with teaching them, and tells Jinora she can help train. Jinora asks if she can have her Air Bending tattoos now, since she is a master, and Tenzin says he'll consider it.

This is probably the weakest of all the episodes we've had this season. However, considering we're at the halfway point already, and this is the only episode that hasn't been extremely strong, I'm okay with it. Not much happened to further the main plot here, and while filler episodes are fine in principle, this one wasn't very strong in my opinion.

The idea of Tenzin being boring and not being a very good teacher... it was just too predictable. I feel like we already covered that when we saw Tenzin and Korra training together.

The poachers didn't seem to pose much of a real threat, since we didn't know anything about them and it wasn't really quite clear what they were doing there in the first place. Jinora's Spirit connection doesn't seem to have set rules... I'm never totally clear on how far she can push her powers, or why her connection is so strong. Also, I wish we could have known that she wanted the Air Bending tattoos earlier, so this could be more a buildup. As it was, I had no idea she wanted them, so it didn't feel like much of a victory when Tenzin said he'd think about it.

But even if this episode isn't as good as the rest of the season, I still think it's a marked improvement over almost anything we got in Season Two. 

I liked seeing the Sky Bison again. I liked being reminded about Air Bending culture. I liked Jinora standing up for herself to ask for what she wanted. I still really like Kai's character.

The best part of the episode was Bumi's character, however. He hasn't had a lot to do this season, even after the exciting revelation that he's an Air Bender. But now we see that his military training makes him a great leader, and that even if he's a goofball, he can be serious when the situation calls for it. I loved the moment between Tenzin and Bumi, when Bumi admitted that even though he was Aang's son, he didn't feel like part of the Air Nation until now. How sweet.

Another highlight of the episode was the conversation between Pema and Tenzin. Pema says that when she went to become an Air Acolyte, she was excited to become part of the culture, but she still needed time to adjust. She knows how these new Air Benders feel, and she gives Tenzin good advice about how to train them. Pema isn't a big part of this show, but her presence in this quiet moment with her husband was very nice.

I missed Korra, Mako, and Bolin this time around, along with Lin, Opal, etc. We did see Korra and Bolin briefly, talking over the radio to the Air Temple. Still, I can't wait to see them again next week!

So... yeah. Not my favorite episode of the season, but certainly not bad.

7.5/10

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Legend of Korra: Old Wounds (3x06)

Another Lin Beifong episode! Yay! Let's be quick about it.

Korra starts to learn Metal Bending from Suyin*, and Bolin wants to learn too. He's nervous about asking Suyin for help, since he's embarrassed that he hasn't been able to Metal Bend his whole life, despite the fact that Toph has been his hero for many years. In the end, Opal and Bolin talk. Bolin admits that he's afraid, and Opal says that she is, too. She wants to go to the Air Temple to train with Tenzin, but she's afraid of disappointing her family. Finally, they both face their fears. Opal gets ready to go to the Temple, and Bolin starts training with Suyin.

The bulk of the episode focuses on Lin. She goes to get acupuncture to help relax from her stress, and doing so unlocks some old memories. She remembers being a police chief in Republic City, and having to confront her sister, who got involved with criminals. Turns out, Suyin is the one who gave Lin the scar on her face. When Toph finds out that Lin tried to arrest Suyin for her behavior, she insists that she can't have a daughter in jail. She sends Suyin away to cover up what happened.

In the present, Lin finally confronts Suyin about what happened all those years ago. Suyin says that she and Toph have already talked about it and moved on, and that Lin is the one still holding on to the past. The two of them get into a big fight, which Opal finally breaks up using Air Bending. The two sisters talk, and agree that they can try to amend their relationship, although they will need to take it slow.

We also check in with the villains, as Zaheer and his gang leave Republic City and continue to try and track Korra. Zaheer apparently knows that Korra is with the Metal Benders, and will be coming after her.

Complaints?

I feel like I'm a broken record, here. I just don't really have anything bad to say! I mean, I'm still curious as to why there aren't more Spirits just wandering around the world, but I feel like maybe they're saving that for next season. Which I'm totally cool with, by the way. In all honesty, I think they're smart to be focusing in like this, and not spreading the season too thin. I think that was one of the problems they had last season.

The good stuff?

While the villains weren't in there much, they still seem properly menacing. I really, really, want to know what Zaheer's deal is, and I'm excited that they aren't telling us his motive right away. It's much more interesting to keep us in the dark, at least for a bit!

Bolin had some character development! He's mostly just comic relief, but in this episode we see the continuing development of Bolin and Opal, and we see that he has goals and dreams. I was happy to see him want something, and work to get it. I hope that we keep seeing this, and that it wasn't just a one-episode occurrence.

Of course, Lin was the main focus. I'm really, really, intrigued by what we saw in the flashbacks. I think it's pretty clear that Suyin was out of control, and in that sense, it seems like Lin was the one always in the right. But yet we see that Lin has a different failing: Suyin has moved on and changed, while Lin won't let go. I think it's an interesting character study, for both of these sisters.

Also, you have no idea how much I squealed when Toph showed up. She was only there briefly, but I think even her development in this episode was nicely done. Trying to reconcile this serious, morally ambiguous Toph with the Toph we knew as a kid is sort of difficult, but at the same time, I can see how this would happen to her, given the pressures of being the Police Chief.

That Earth/Metal Bending fight between the two sisters was epic. I'm really impressed with the animation and creativity of that fight. So, so, cool. Also, the sickest burn in this whole episode was definitely when Suyin brought up Lin's relationship with Tenzin. Ouch!

Alright, I'll leave it there. What an interesting, strong episode!

9/10

* In my previous review, I wrote her name as Su Yin. I have now seen it spelled as one word, but I'm not sure which is canonically correct... I'll try to figure that out.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Suits: Pound of Flesh (4x05)

Waaaaaaaahhhh Harveyyyy whyyy are you so adorabllllle. I'm a mess. This episode was adorable in about forty million different ways. Unfortunately, there were a few big elements of it that I wish could have been different. Even so, this is a vast improvement over last week, and I'm really hyped for next week.

The plot:

Rachel is overworked and stressed, between law school and working for Harvey. Mike tries to convince her to take some time off. When she asks Harvey for a few days off, he bites her head off, and she continues to struggle on.

Meanwhile, this Sean Cahill guy is causing more trouble. Harvey tries to confront him about his plan to attack the firm, and Cahill decides to change tactics, and go after Harvey specifically. Jessica is worried about this, but Harvey assures her that Cahill hasn't made a move yet.

Mike really doesn't want to cut Sidwell out of the deal he made with Forstman. He decides to use the idea of Forstman's money to get Harvey and Logan to back down. Harvey calls Mike's bluff, however. At this point, Mike and Harvey both try and buy extra Gillis Industries stock from Wexler, using rather... sketchy means to do so, since Harvey technically isn't allowed to buy anything on Logan's behalf at the moment. The two of them are going to have to go head to head in a bidding war. Whoever can buy the extra stock will have the leverage for the takeover. To make Mike feel even worse about the possibility of cutting Sidwell out, Sidwell actually tells Mike he's doing a great job.

At this point, Mike learns from Amy that Rachel is in the hospital. He rushes there, to see that Harvey is already there. Harvey tells Mike that Rachel is fine, just overworked and dehydrated. She's sedated so she can get some sleep. Harvey and Mike go out to dinner across the street, after Harvey gives Mike his word that they can postpone the bidding war for a later date. The two of them actually have a nice dinner together, and they clear the air over what they've both had to do recently, reaffirming their friendship and respect for one another.

As they exit the restaurant, Cahill comes up to him, revealing that he was following Harvey. He says that it looks suspicious that Harvey and Mike were at dinner together, considering that they are on opposite sides of a takeover. Cahill also knows about the bidding war, and tells the two men that Pearson Specter has already purchased the stock. Mike is furious with Harvey for lying to him, but Harvey promises that he didn't know this was going to happen - it must have been Jessica. Harvey promises Mike he'll make it right.

Harvey tells Jessica that he promised Mike to wait before going after the stock, but Jessica says that their responsibility is to Logan, not Mike. However, Harvey does tell Jessica that since Cahill knows about the bidding, they can't give the stock back to Logan, and they'll have to keep the stock, effectively keeping Harvey's deal with Mike. Jessica, however, refuses to budge. She doesn't care what it means for Mike.

Harvey goes to tell Mike what happened. He asks about Rachel first, and Mike assures him that Rachel is fine, and getting more rest. Mike says he never should have trusted Harvey, and Harvey responds that this entire thing is his own fault. He should have believed in Mike when Mike first came to him with his plans for Gillis Industries. Harvey says that he doesn't have many regrets, but he does regret what's happened between them, and he wants Mike to know that.

The subplot is about Donna and Louis' friendship. Donna is about to be in The Merchant of Venice, but she doesn't have her lines memorized. She asks Louis for help, and learns that Louis has all of Shakespeare's plays memorized. Donna goes on and pursues her dream of acting, but Shylock gets injured after the show, meaning the next two nights of the play are cancelled. Unless... Louis is very hesitant, but eventually Donna convinces him to go onstage. He does, and thus conquers his stage fright. Donna later reveals that Shylock was never hurt, and she just wanted to help Louis accomplish something, because of how bad things had been going for him lately.

Mike goes to Forstman and says he doesn't want to take his money, having decided not to screw over Sidwell. Forstman then reveals that he went to Sidwell and had him take the money, anyway. Mike now has what he wants, and he didn't have to stab anyone in the back to get it!

In the end, Harvey shows up to take Donna to her closing night, giving her flowers and declaring himself a "Donna fan." Aww.

Wow, that was a very long plot summary. I think it was sort of important to get down all the details of this, because I have some rather... complicated feelings about some of it.

Let's start with some issues I have... although they're not exactly flaws in the episode, more like... moments where I felt like a lot of potential was lost.

So, in the promo leading up to this episode, we see that Rachel ends up in the hospital. And while this event does certainly lead to plenty of drama, it's mostly drama about Mike and Harvey's relationship. It's almost like Rachel was solely used as a plot device, here. She did have a few moments of actual development, but it was mostly about her being tired, and about her dodging messages from Logan. While we got to see that she's overworked and stressed, it mostly felt like Rachel was a pawn here, being positioned so that Mike and Harvey could have their bromantic dinner date. Not that I mind the bromance, of course, but I wish Rachel's role in this story could have felt a bit more important.

Further cementing that idea of Rachel as a pawn, did you notice that nobody even bothered telling Donna, or Rachel's family, about the incident? I know it was just a little dehydration and exhaustion, but when a close friend/family member is rushed to the hospital, generally people tend to get involved. Here, we see Mike rushing worriedly to the hospital, we see Harvey already there, and then the two of them go off to dinner, and the more important plot comes along to sweep our attention away from Rachel's fate. The fact that she's fine, and goes home to get more rest, is practically a footnote.

That brings me to Donna. It annoyed me that she didn't know about Rachel's scare, considering how close these two used to be. But beyond that, it felt like Donna and Louis' plot was completely isolated from the A-plot of the episode. So much so that you could take their scenes and plop them in virtually anywhere, in any season of this show, and it would work just fine. And while I'm okay with a plot line that focuses just on Donna and Louis, it was disconcerting to see how little these two characters mattered to the A-plot.

Then there's Jeff Malone. His role in this episode felt very confusing, as if he was squished in here just so he'd have something to do. His relationship to the firm, and to Harvey specifically, is sort of confusing to me. It seems like there's some animosity between them, but it's a bit passionless, because there's no real justification for it.

We also continue to have hints about this Logan/Rachel business, but I wish that we could see something to justify Rachel's potentially unfaithful attitude. As such, the love triangle thing hasn't yet grabbed my full attention. I want to be invested in Rachel's difficulties regarding Logan, but I don't feel that way.

Now let's talk about the good stuff, because while what I just said above is true, there is one important exception to a few of the complaints I had above:

Rachel's dream. I think this was one of the strongest parts of this episode, as well as one of the strongest moments of character development Rachel has ever had on this whole show. That dream, where Logan proposes to her but Rachel says he's a fraud, and then Logan turns into Mike - wow. Suddenly I realize that Rachel's feelings about Mike's situation are a lot more complex than any of us knew. Couple this dream with the line Mike had earlier, about "Harvey let me skip law school," and I think we're planting the seeds for some interesting complications in their relationship. Now this is the type of love triangle-esque thing that has potential. If Rachel's wavering loyalty to Mike is clearly a symptom of some real problem between the two of them, and not just because she's attracted to Logan, then I see real value in this setup. However, we'll have to see if they continue going with that.

In the Louis and Donna plot, I think we got a lot of valuable insight into Donna's character, in particular. It still annoys me that the plot connected so little to anything in the A-plot, but I still think there's some good stuff here. We got to see a more vulnerable side to Donna, which isn't something that happens very often. I liked the fact that she used her weakness to bring strength to someone else, because it seems like such a Donna-ish thing to do. Louis also got over an old fear, which was a nice thing to see. He's been down so often this season that it was nice, just like Donna said, to see him win one.

Not much to say about Jessica in this episode, but I do like that we're reminded how much of a hard ass she is. She's bent the rules for Mike in the past, but she won't do so now, just for the sake of Harvey and Mike's friendship. Her loyalty is to her firm, and she's possibly the only person who can stop Harvey in his tracks. It was a nice moment to remind us that Jessica can be rather morally ambiguous, too. She's not necessarily all that good of a person, and sometimes neither is Harvey.

But let's talk about Harvey, now, shall we? And Mike. For all of the problems that I listed above, this was also by far the most bromantic episode of Suits that we've had in a long time - the only one that compares is probably the one where they get high together after Mike's grandmother died. This episode was full of moments that prove how much these two people care about each other.

First of all, we have the fact that Harvey felt guilty for being mean to Rachel, but ultimately his goal in coming to the hospital was to make sure that Mike was okay. And then Harvey says he's sorry for not taking Mike out to dinner like he said he wanted to when Mike first left the firm. Harvey is basically saying - I was upset that you were gone, and I said I'd make an effort to maintain our friendship, but I didn't do a good job with that.

Both Harvey and Mike talk about what they've had to do over the past few weeks, and they acknowledge and forgive one another for some of the harsher moves they've been forced to make. Even as the professional battle between them gets more heated, we see here that both men have a vested interest in trying to maintain their personal friendship. And they're at dinner for two hours! Aww!

And then there's that look of betrayal on Mike's face when Cahill tells them that Pearson Specter bought the shares... noooo. And you can just see Harvey's panic as he asks Mike to trust him, like he used to trust him. Harvey wants to fix this so bad.

The last scene between the two of them was the real kicker, though. Mike has, in the past, been the more compassionate friend between the two of them. In this season, and in particular in this episode, Harvey is being a much better friend to Mike than Mike is being to Harvey. Harvey tries to explain to Mike that he's sorry. He says that he doesn't regret much, but he does regret what's happened between them. He's not saying that to convince Mike to back down, he's not saying it to cover his own ass... he's saying it because he cares about Mike. This episode perfectly continues the trend that's been going on this season. We see Harvey struggling with the fact that he has to fight against Mike. We see him make several sincere, personal statements to Mike that make it clear that he values their friendship. Mike is the one who is pulling away and making morally ambiguous choices. I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

I could keep talking. This episode had a lot of good, but a fair amount of bad as well. If I were judging on the Mike/Harvey bromance alone, I'd give it high marks. But overall, I feel like things got a bit disconnected, in particular with regards to Donna and Louis' plot, Jeff's role in events, and even Rachel's role.

7/10

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Legend of Korra: The Metal Clan (3x05)

Okay. Real quick.

Korra and the gang travel to Zao Fu, a city made of metal, founded by Toph. When there, they meet the city's leader, Su Yin, who turns out to be Lin Beifong's half sister. Su Yin's daughter, Opal, has just become an Air Bender.

Opal starts learning about Air Bending from Korra, but the rift between the two sisters seems impenetrable. Apparently, they both fought for their mother's attentions, but Toph wasn't really pleased with how either of them turned out. We also learn, excitingly, that Toph may still be alive. She went away to travel the world many years ago, and has not returned.

Bolin and Opal begin a flirtation. When Bolin tries to turn on the charm, Opal tells him to stop, and just act like himself instead.

Meanwhile, Pema, Kya, Meelo and Ikki are receiving more Air Benders in Republic City. One of these Air Benders turns out to be Zaheer in disguise. As the other Air Benders go off to the Air Temple to join Tenzin and the others, Kya recognizes Zaheer, due to his superior Bending style. The two of them fight, but Zaheer is able to escape.

Complaints?

God, I don't know. This was a very solid episode, and I enjoyed it immensely.

After so long without Lin being deeply involved, I'm really, really glad to see her more. She was actually pretty cruel in this episode, not only to her sister (possibly justified) but to her niece, Opal, as well. It was sort of shocking to see her yell at Opal like that, when the girl had plainly done nothing to deserve it, but it also made me really curious, and really excited, to learn more about Lin's back story.

We're now being told that Toph wasn't a very good mother, and that Lin and Su Yin didn't even know their fathers. With last season's revelation that Aang played favorites with his kids, it's interesting to me that Toph wasn't exactly great at parenting either. Also, I'm really really curious as to the identity of the two fathers. Anyone we know? God, it has to be, doesn't it? Why else would it be a secret?

Also - Toph might be alive! I always assumed that everyone else was dead, other than Zuko and Katara. Obviously I'm excited to see how they bring her back into the story, if they choose to go that route.

Opal is also catching my interest. I think they could do something really fun with her and Bolin, as long as they take more time with the characters than they did with Bolin and Eska's relationship.

And that metal city! Damn! What a cool idea, and a nice extrapolation from the origin of Metal Bending with Toph. The idea that a particular city would embrace Metal Bending is really cool. I would love a flashback episode dealing with how Toph helped to found Zao Fu.

I don't know, you guys, I'm just really excited by everything they're doing with this season. Can't wait for next week!

8.5/10

The Legend of Korra: In Harm's Way (3x04)

I've decided to blog all these double episodes separately, even though they're airing them together, because they really are separate stories. As such, since there are two every week, I promise to keep them brief.

So. Lin arrives in Ba Sing Se to warn Korra about Zaheer and his accomplices, but Korra refuses to go back to Republic City. She wants to stay and keep finding more Air Benders. Lin has to stay to help protect Korra. Bolin and Mako show up to tell Korra that the Earth Queen is capturing Air Benders. Korra and the gang make a plan to free Kai and the others. Jinora goes into her disembodied spirit state and finds Kai, with whom Jinora shares a special connection. With Jinora's information about the Air Benders' location, Korra and the others are able to free them all.

Tenzin offers to take the Air Benders to the Air Temple and teach them about the Air Bending culture. They all accept. Tenzin goes with them, along with Jinora and Kai, to start the training. Korra, Bolin, Mako, and Lin all stay to continue searching for Air Benders.

Zaheer and his friends manage to free P'Li from her prison. They are able to break her out, even with multiple guards, Desna and Eska, Tonraq, Zuko, and a dragon all trying to stop them.

Bad things?

Uhhhh... I do think the whole rescue operation was a bit rushed. They really could have made the liberation of the Air Benders a bigger moment, if they wanted to. This might have been a good double episode concept. It was just a little too easy to free them all, if I'm being picky.

But mostly, I only have good things to say!

I love that Korra has now been kicked out of both Republic City and Ba Sing Se. She's made some powerful enemies recently, which I think is really interesting. It will certainly have consequences...

This Jinora/Kai thing was maybe a bit rushed, but it feels very genuine, and it's very adorable. I loved it when Jinora was in danger from one of the trainers of the Air Benders, and Kai protects her. Very cute.

Tenzin and Korra had a very sweet conversation as they parted ways. I love their relationship, now that they're actually showing each other proper respect.

Lin is here! And it looks like the next episode is pretty Lin-centric. I love her, and I'm excited to see more.

The Bending at the Northern Water Tribe was awesome. So bad ass. Zuko! The twins! Tonraq! P'Li! Zaheer! So much awesomeness. You know what I want now, though? Zuko and Katara. Give it to meeee.

I kept it brief, as promised. I loved it.

9/10

Friday, July 11, 2014

Suits: Leveraged (4x04)

Hmm... this episode was very weak, I felt. It set up a lot of really interesting plot points, but at the same time, it felt lackluster in many ways. I think it will probably work as a jumping-off point for future episodes, but as an individual hour of television, I was disappointed. Let's take a look.

There were three plot threads in this episode, and I had qualms about all of them, to be honest.

First of all, Sidwell finds out that Mike bought more shares in Gillis' company, and that he leveraged Sidwell's money to do it. Sidwell says he's actually impressed that Mike did it, but that Mike has one week to un-leverage the money, or he'll be out of a job. Mike therefore desperately needs money to help take over Gillis' company. Harvey enlists Louis' help to stop Mike from getting the money. At first, Louis screws up when Mike lies and says that Sheila is engaged to throw Louis off his game. Later, Mike tries to go to Tony Gianopolous for money, but Louis blocks him.

Mike is therefore forced to go to an old enemy of Harvey's, named Forstman. Forstman agrees to give Mike the money, provided that Mike keep any of the profits from Sidwell. Amy doesn't like this idea because she doesn't want Mike to go against Sidwell. Harvey also tries to warn Mike away, saying that Forstman is shady and can't be trusted. Mike goes through with it anyway.

Meanwhile, Harvey confronts Eric Woodall about the SEC targeting Pearson Specter's clients. Jessica finds out that Harvey went to talk to Woodall, and tells Harvey that Jeff Malone is in charge of the SEC, and that Harvey has to back down. Sean Cahill, a new character, ends up being behind the SEC thing, right along with Woodall. Jessica and Malone get Cahill to drop the seven cases that the SEC had going, but then after that, they learn that this was Cahill's plan all along. He wants the seven clients to find dirt on Harvey. Malone, who is already in trouble with Jessica for lying about getting fired from his old job, feels responsible for the mistake. In the end of the episode, however, we see Jessica go to Malone's house, willing to re-enter their personal relationship.

The third plot is about Logan and Rachel. Logan is trying to plan the next company to take over, and he asks Rachel to assess some choices for him. Rachel at first gives Logan different companies to look at, but Logan demands that Rachel look at the companies he picked out. She does, explaining to him why each of them won't work. Logan then uses one of Rachel's ideas. During all of this, the two of them are getting along. Logan tries to kiss Rachel, but she backs away and leaves, confused.

So... let's start with my list of problems. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a long one. For whatever reason, I felt like almost every element of this episode had some problematic elements.

In the main plot, we have the fact that this battle now seems to be strictly between Mike and Harvey. Did you notice that Logan didn't even so much as talk with Harvey about Gillis Industries in this whole episode? The past three episodes have been setting this up as a Mike vs. Logan thing, with Harvey reluctantly forced to be on Logan's side. Now, however, it's like Logan doesn't enter into the equation at all. I feel like it was a bit sloppy.

The Louis situation was probably what made me the most angry, though. Not only is it repetitive - oh, Louis is trying to earn Harvey's respect? Where have I heard that before? - but it's also unsatisfying. Louis messes up, then redeems himself. Then Harvey goes to tell him he's done a good job, and Louis informs Harvey that he messed up again. How did he mess up the second time? By saying something to Mike that gave him a new idea. I'm sorry, but really? How is this all on Louis? He made a comment. Mike happened to take inspiration from that comment, but it wasn't as if Louis gave him a list of Harvey's enemies who might give Mike money. Mike did that on his own. The fact that Harvey is just suddenly livid and refusing to forgive Louis is... well, it's really silly.

Then there's this Amy character. The more I see of her, the less I understand her purpose. We see her say that she's willing to leave the company if Mike gets fired, which implies a great deal of friendship and loyalty between Mike and Amy, but I've seen nothing to justify it. Amy occasionally doles out some good advice, and I'm glad to see that she's sticking to her guns about disliking Mike's shady deal. But even so... she's a watered down version of Donna. She's not unique, and she hasn't really contributed anything to the show so far.

Oh yeah, and that scene at the top of the episode where Donna comes to yell at Mike? Not good. I'm not really sure what it was, but something about the way the dialogue was written was... really fake sounding. The fact that Mike is able to buy Donna off so easily, with a purse, felt very cheap. Mike is sliding into some very unethical behaviors, and I wish that we could see the consequences of that actually play out.

So then there's the Jessica and Malone thing. I'm fine with the twist in the case, I guess, although it does follow the pattern that this show tends to over-use. The heroes think they've found an easy way to beat their opponent, but - gasp! - it turns out to be a trap, and they'll have to find a new way to win! Even though the setup is stale, it's not that big of a problem...

What is a problem is Jessica suddenly deciding to resume her relationship with Jeff. What?! Why? After all of this denial, she gives in only after she finds out that Jeff lied to her? You would think that would make her less willing, not more! I just don't understand what's changed. Jessica's reasons for avoiding a personal relationship with Jeff were very good, and it doesn't make sense for her to go back on them, honestly. It annoyed me, because it seemed to come out of nowhere.

And then we have the love triangle stuff. As I keep saying, there was already a setup with plenty of drama, as Mike and Rachel have to be against each other in a professional setting. Throwing in Logan's past with Rachel is unnecessary. When they started to give Logan a sympathetic side, I was grudgingly intrigued. Now, in this episode, I'm just rolling my eyes. Are they really going to have Rachel cheat on Mike? The show is doing some really interesting stuff right now about Mike's descent into corrupt behavior. If he suddenly becomes the victim, then it undermines the culpability of Mike's other actions. Sometimes, it's okay to let the protagonist just be a jerk for a moment.

But this episode isn't all bad... there were a few elements that I think are really promising.

The first is Mike's development. Although I am worried that Rachel and Logan's behavior is going to negate the impact of Mike's descent into immorality, I still think there's potential for his character to take quite the fall. We saw the first hint of it last week: Mike buying Harvey's dad's records. Now, we see him using Sheila against Louis, and then rubbing it in Louis' face when he continues to beat him. We see him turning his back on Sidwell. I know Sidwell is kind of an ass, but he was also the person who gave Mike this great opportunity, and now Mike is willing to betray him.

What's intriguing about this is that Mike has a damn good reason. He wants to stop Logan from ruining a lot of lives. It's noble. But somehow, Mike has had to do a lot of really ignoble things to get there. It's a lovely progression for his character, and has a lot of potential.

Even though Harvey and Mike had very little screen time together, I'm still adoring the progression of their relationship this season. Harvey is so genuinely, personally upset by all of this, as we can see that he really doesn't want to have to go against Mike. Their conversation was emblematic of the continuing rift between them, as Harvey tries to help Mike personally, while obviously doing what's in the best interest of Logan, however much he doesn't want to.

Honestly, the thing that excited me the most about this episode was the promo for next week - Rachel in the hospital?! I'm a sucker for over the top drama like that. Suits doesn't do it very often, but I love it when it happens. I can't wait to see Mike sitting by Rachel's bedside like a lovesick puppy. I'm also waiting for the scene where Harvey comforts Mike as they sit in the hospital waiting room... I can taste the bromance...

But... yeah. Unfortunately this felt like one of the weaker episodes this show has ever had. I have to give it a pretty low score.

5/10

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Legend of Korra: The Earth Queen (3x03)

Our gang arrives in Ba Sing Se! Yay!

Korra goes to meet the Earth Queen Hou-Ting. The Queen tells her that she'll help Korra find Air Benders in the city, only if Korra does her a favor first. Korra and Asami must go across the city to collect some tax money. The money is almost stolen by bandits, who declare that this money should be used for the people. Korra, uneasy, realizes she might agree, but nevertheless takes the money back to the Queen. The Queen informs her that there are no Air Benders in Ba Sing Se.

Kai, upon seeing the abundance in the city, wanders off to continue his pick-pocketing ways. Bolin and Mako go after him. While searching, they meet their family - their uncle, cousin, grandmother, etc. Both of them are thrilled to be welcomed in by the family, but are saddened to have to tell everyone that their parents are dead. Turns out, Bolin and Mako's dad, San, had a falling out with his family years ago and moved away. The family only ever received one letter from San, saying that he had married and had kids. Bolin and Mako share a hug with their grandmother, and Mako gives her his red scarf, which had belonged to their father.

Zuko arrives at the North Pole. Along with Desna and Eska, who are now ruling, and Tonraq, they go to see the final prisoner that Zaheer plans to free, his girlfriend P'Li, who has great skill as a Fire Bender.

We see Kai get arrested and taken away, to join with the Earth Queen's secret army full of all the new Air Benders, thus proving that Queen Hou-Ting is lying to Korra.

I have nothing bad to say about anything!!

The good stuff is endless. These three episodes are just... great. The first one was a bit of a warm-up, the second one got things going, and this one was so full of awesome I don't even know where to start.

First of all, the political situation is getting more interesting and complex. The Earth Queen is obviously evil and selfish, as she takes hoards of money from the people and leaves them in poverty. But she did make a good point when she said that Aang and Zuko had taken land from the Earth Kingdom to create the United Republic. There are more complexities to Aang's reforms than might first meet the eye.

I also love the way the stakes keep getting higher. The new army of Air Benders is interesting, because it's so far from anything we've seen in the past. To see Zaheer, our new villain, use Air Bending for harm is something we've never seen before on this show. Aang was the only Air Bender in the old show, and Tenzin and his family are also obviously good guys. Now we're seeing some new ways for Air Bending to be used. It's so interesting!

Mako and Bolin's plot thread really warmed my heart, too. We got a lot of really depressing reminders in this episode that Mako and Bolin used to be homeless, and that they grew up orphans. In particular, my heart broke a little bit when Bolin said that it had "been a while since we spent a night on a trash pile." Ouch. Also, the fact that their dad was estranged from his family adds another dynamic to their story, as well, making them both instantly more likable characters. That hug with their grandma was really sweet. I never thought much of Mako in the early parts of this show, but he's come a long way, and this episode really helped with that.

Kai's adventures really reminded me of Aladdin, and the whole thing made me smile. At the same time, his pick-pocketing is proof that this character is actually complex. Even though he's traveling with very important and influential people right now, and he should be thinking about how to start a life with them, he's already slipped back into old habits. Now that he's been captured, it will be interesting to see how they continue to develop him.

The humor continues to impress, especially in the small plot thread in the North Pole. The twins are an absolute riot. I like how offended they are that nobody told them about the secret prison. They could have been throwing people in there this whole time! Desna says he would have thrown his tailor in prison: "He never gets my cuffs right. They're so crease-y." Too funny.

Then there's the moment where Zuko talks about P'Li, and the guard watching over her. He says "Ironically, I hired someone with a similar ability to kill the Avatar once." There's a very long silence, and then he says "Didn't work." Eska's response? "Don't feel bad. I tried to kill Korra after she ruined my wedding. It happens." Tonraq just gets this horrified look on his face.

So... yeah. This show is seriously stepping up its game. I'm thrilled, and I can't wait for more!

9/10