November 20, 2017

The Walking Dead: The Big Scary U (8x05)

I like that this episode breaks up some of the monotony of the continuous battle we've been seeing the past four weeks. There were some really high highs in this installment, but there was also a fair bit of mediocrity.

Cons:

We spent too much time with the Savior characters. I don't care about Dwight. I've written off Eugene. I don't even know the rest of these punks. All of these scenes were supposed to show us why Negan is necessary - the delicate balance of his organization falls completely apart without him. But I guess I just don't care enough about learning details of the other side. They're the bad guys. I'm getting bored of them and I just want them to die now, please and thank you.

Gabriel has always bored the hell out of me. Finally, we get an episode where he has some real material to work with in the script, and he's starting to emerge as a dynamic character. And then? The episode's cliffhanger is that he's all shaky and sick, ostensibly having been bitten by a Walker when escaping with Negan. How many times is this show going to pull the same trick? Take a character who isn't one of the main leads, and give them a spotlight just to make us like them enough so that their death has impact. We've seen it dozens of times. I was just complaining about this with Eric a few weeks ago!

November 19, 2017

Outlander: Heaven and Earth (3x10)

This was a great episode, with one kind of big exception. Let's start with that before getting in to the good stuff.

Cons:

What the hecking heck, Jamie? Stop being so mean to Fergus! Jamie spends this episode locked up for trying to take over the Artemis and chase down Claire. He asks Fergus for his help in escaping, but Fergus has some natural qualms about this. If he does this, they will be committing a mutiny with little chance of success, and Claire is more than capable of taking care of herself. Jamie says some truly awful things to Fergus, accusing him of not understanding real love. He basically tries to manipulate Fergus by saying he'll give his blessing for his marriage to Marsali only if Fergus helps to spring Jamie free. Fergus considers it, but then refuses, because if he gets caught, Marsali will be all alone with nobody to protect her from the men on board. Eventually, Marsali saves Jamie by convincing the captain to let him go, under an oath that he will not rebel.

I can understand Jamie's frustration and pain over being separated from Claire. But his words to Fergus in this episode are just downright cruel. As Fergus and Marsali both point out to Jamie, Fergus' refusal to help free Jamie is not just for Fergus and Marsali. It's for Jamie as well. Fergus is trying to stop his foster father from making a terrible mistake. I wish we could have seen a heartfelt apology, at the very least, for such heinous words.

November 18, 2017

Once Upon a Time: Eloise Gardener/Pretty in Blue (7x07/08)

I'm going to try and rapid-fire this review, and I'll be treating the two episodes as one.

Cons:

Things got just a tad bit convoluted with Hook's plot. See, he had sex with Rapunzel but Rapunzel was actually Mother Gothal in disguise, and that's who the witch is that Victoria has had imprisoned all this time, but wait Hook's daughter's name is Eloise, but later it's Alice, and they can't be together because of a curse on Hook's heart, but then Alice is in Wonderland for a while, and Drizella is causing more mischief... I feel like there were so many moments that were meant to be shocking that the impact of them started to fade. I like the reveal that Alice is Hook's daughter. I wish we could have just sat with that for a while without throwing in so many twists and turns.

We still don't have official confirmation of whether or not Rumple is awake, and now I'm getting annoyed. Regina tries to confront him, he denies it, and it's like... for once could you just be straight with us, Rumple? It'd be cool to see you and Regina partnering up!

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh Is Irrelevant (3x06)

Stunning. Perfect.

Cons:

... I have no complaints. I wish WhiJo could have been in the episode? Does that count? I almost wish that when Darryl showed up at the end, WhiJo could have been with him. But on the other hand I understand the impulse not to overcrowd the episode with that sort of thing, and leave it a simple examination of just a few key characters. So, I'm a bit torn on that one.

Pros:

Basically, this episode is just the aftermath. We have Rebecca's friends worrying about her, we have her getting a new diagnosis that she then panics about, and finally she comes to terms with things and decides to get help. I think I'll take this review character by character, and talk about how each are dealing with Rebecca's recent experiences.

November 17, 2017

The Big Bang Theory: The Tesla Recoil (11x08)

Mostly I'm just shrugging at this episode, although it was one of the most entertaining outings this show has offered in a while...

Cons:

Raj and Ruchi break up after Raj confronts her about the state of their relationship. This is tagged on to a subplot about professional rivalry between Ruchi and Bernadette, and seems to come completely out of left field. Every time this show tries to set up some serious potential for Raj, they never let it go anywhere. It's frustrating, not because I care about Raj getting a happy ending with a beautiful woman he definitely doesn't deserve, but because I'm sick and tired of watching Raj-tries-to-find-love plots. They need to find something new to do with his character.

I remember when I once had high hopes that the military technology plot would be a real through-line, something to develop and grow over time. Instead, it gets dropped completely for long stretches, brought back up for a quick second and then taken away again. It's annoying and boring. I actually like the stuff with the guidance system and the guys working with the military, which is why it's always frustrating to see it come and go so quickly.

Grey's Anatomy: Out of Nowhere (14x08)

Well, okay, that's a cliffhanger for you. And we have to wait until January to see what's next? No fair!

Cons:

The overarching premise of this episode is that hackers shut down the computers in the hospital, leaving everything in chaos. Charts are lost, medical records inaccessible, the code-locked door to the blood bank impossible to open, heart monitors are flat-lining. This is a fun concept, but I found it slightly unbelievable that they'd be so totally unequipped for this happenstance. I'm sure that something as important as medical records would be backed up to an off-site server. Just saying. The premise itself was stretching my suspension of disbelief juuust a smidge.

We have some further development on the Jackson/Maggie relationship, and while I actually don't mind them as much as I thought I would, I thought the moment in the helicopter with the turbulence was a little much. There's already one improbable disaster going on down at the hospital. You're going to introduce another improbable thing randomly happening in the helicopter?

Supernatural: Tombstone (13x06)

This was probably the weakest episode so far of a very strong season, but it was still serviceable and had some great moments.

Cons:

I swear this isn't a Destiel thing, but I was hoping for a bit... more out of the reunion between Cas and the boys. I don't mean more melodrama, necessarily, but maybe a more extreme reaction. I kind of wanted one of them, maybe Sam, to doubt that Cas was really there. They didn't even do anything to confirm that it was really him, and not Lucifer in his meatsuit, or some cosmic entity, or anything. They just accepted it instantly. And that could have been okay as well, if maybe somebody could have pointed out that they were being too trusting. The rest of the episode is a standard C-plot with a dash of Jack's on-going arc in it, and as a consequence it felt a bit like Cas' return was tacked on at the last second. Nobody even mentioned Mary's name this whole episode. You'd think Cas would ask about her, but not that we got to see.

As far as monster-of-the-week goes, this was serviceable, much more interesting for Dean's excitement than for anything in the actual plot. We have a pretty cliche setup where the monster kidnaps a girl (the woman he was seeing, before she learned that he was a murderer) and Dean rushes in, along with help from a Sargent to kill the baddie and save the girl. Dean even says as much when he returns from the bunker, playing out the generic conventions. But just because you hang a lampshade on something, doesn't suddenly break the cliche. Just saying.

November 16, 2017

Modern Family: Winner Winner Turkey Dinner (9x07)

This episode gave me whiplash, and definitely not in the good way. There was so much going on here that none of the various plot threads had time to land!

Cons:

Usually, I like it when the whole gang is brought together for holiday episodes, and the concept behind this episode seemed sound: Jay usually singles out one family member to toast at Thanksgiving, but this year he gives the honor to Claire, Mitchell, Cam, and Phil, all of whom have made personal triumphs recently. Of course, we then learn that all of these triumphs are based on lies, and shenanigans ensue.

Actually, if the story had stuck to those four characters and their false triumphs, it might have been okay. But here are some of the other things going on in this episode: Manny is trying to get to an exclusive pre-Black Friday suit sale, Luke is failing as a babysitter and asks Manny to use Photoshop skills to cover it up, Gloria is trying to get 100,000 steps in a week on her fitness tracker, Alex is doing a study on positive vs. negative reinforcement for school, and Joe has been expelled from his school after Jay argued with his teacher over the true history of Thanksgiving.

November 13, 2017

The Walking Dead: Some Guy (8x04)

I feel like this was good, but I'm not sure I really liked it all that much.

Cons:

This episode was Ezekiel-centric, and while I don't have a problem with his character, I've also never really gravitated towards him much. The only characters to survive the Saviors' slaughter are Ezekiel, Carol, and Jerry, which means this is yet another example of a bunch of nameless fodder getting the axe, while the characters we actually know are protected. It takes away a bit of the urgency, don't you think?

Shiva dies protecting Ezekiel one last time, and is devoured by a swarm of Walkers. I'm really sorry, guys... I saw a lot of people freaking out about this online, but that tiger looks fake as shit and I never formed any sort of emotional connection to it. It didn't feel like there was really a tiger there, and I couldn't see past that.

November 12, 2017

Outlander: The Doldrums (3x09)

Okay! We're getting in to the part of the book series that I love the most - the stuff in the colonies. I mean, first Jamaica. But you know what I mean. Across the Atlantic. Let's see how the show does with this latest shift in the story!

Cons:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'm still pretty concerned about the pacing. This episode is so jam-packed with stuff that I feel like a lot of the important character beats are being rushed through. Like Willoughby is a character we've barely met, and Claire having a couple of short conversations with him isn't enough to make the moment where he tells his story truly land. Or how about Jamie telling Claire that if she wants, he'll take her back to the stones. That should have been a huge deal, but there were so many other things to worry about that we sort of just brushed right by it. And the episode ends with Jamie and Claire being separated which... well, I know it happens in the book, but in terms of the show it's been a very short amount of time since they were reunited and it feels a bit disruptive to throw in another separation at this point.

Pros:

I know I said the Willoughby stuff was a bit rushed, but this actor just killed it with his moment. He grabs everybody's attention with such heartbreaking intensity and theatricality. It was one of the highlights of the episode.

November 11, 2017

Once Upon a Time: Wake Up Call (7x06)

Well... that's kind of depressing, isn't it? Yikes. I'm not even sure how to process this! Poor Regina!

Cons:

There's a part of me that's rolling my eyes, right, because Once Upon a Time likes to do this thing where it gets itself bogged down into too many rules and ceremonies with magic, but doesn't actually define the magic properly enough to justify this. We learn that Drizella enacted a dark curse that sent everybody to Hyperion Heights, but that she put a failsafe in that means that if the curse is broken, something bad will happen to the people that Regina loves. We're not sure what that is yet. Well, the way to break the curse is with True Love's Kiss, meaning that Regina is now in the position of trying to prevent Henry and Jacinda from getting together. It's a little too hokey and convenient.

I'm also not sure if I like how quickly Drizella developed from intriguing maybe-villain to outright mega-bad-guy. She's shown as a deeply conflicted and sad young woman, but in the space of one episode, she transforms and becomes truly vindictive and terrible. Maybe a little sudden.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: I Never Want to See Josh Again (3x05)

Gosh, I almost feel like they should have put a trigger warning at the start of this episode. I'm not somebody who's ever had issues in this particular area, and I still found this very, very upsetting to watch. Wow.

Cons:

Like, no, I'm serious, this was some dark stuff. Think back to the pilot of this show. Would you ever have thought this was where we would be, early in its third season? I commend the show for tackling this subject matter, but I also don't know how to reconcile the tonal shift. Maybe I'm just in shock? I don't know.

One of the plots, with Cornelia the new lawyer, featured a lot of Jim, one of the random people who works at the firm in West Covina. I don't have anything against this dude, but I just thought it was weird that he was elevated to such a significant character for this one random episode. I couldn't even remember this guy's name until now. Felt a little unbalanced to me. I've also got to say, that given what was going on with Rebecca in this episode, the other plot lines could only feel second best in comparison. I don't know what the answer is to this one.

November 10, 2017

The Big Bang Theory: The Geology Methodology (11x07)

Another sort of shrug-worthy episode. Let's take a super quick look.

Cons:

I like the girl that Raj is seeing, but what I don't like is that this whole subplot is an excuse to make light of Raj's harmful attitude towards women. He idealizes them and then blames them when things don't work out to his ridiculously high standards. It's fine if this is a character flaw, but it's not fine that the show treats it as a harmless little quirk instead of a symptom of deeply rooted misogyny.

Sheldon is having difficulty at work, because he's been working on an interesting project with Bert, but he's embarrassed to be caught working with a geologist. Okay, fine. Cute concept. The annoying part is that he leans first on Penny and then on Amy to help him through this, in yet another example of these women - especially Amy - being used as an emotional support for Sheldon with absolutely no reciprocation. It's not that I have a problem with Amy being there for Sheldon. I just wish we could see the opposite once in a while.

Grey's Anatomy: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story (14x07)

Okay, that was undeniably kind of fun. I'll admit I was a little skeptical of the concept, but it all worked out and it made me smile.

Cons:

I will say, the "baby-Izzie" part of this story was a little weird to me. I can understand being sentimental about George, who died, and even Cristina, who left on good terms and is still in contact with Meredith and Alex. But Izzie? It's not like she's trapped in another dimension or something. It's not like she's dead or Alex can never see her again. We get this moment where Alex tells Jo that whenever he thinks of Izzie, he imagines her smiling, and being as happy as he is now with Jo. And I'm thinking: it's great that you've forgiven her for everything, but it's not exactly like she treated you well, and then she just abandoned you. I'm not sure that I like the romanticizing of Izzie Stevens going on here.

So far, I'm profoundly uninterested in DeLuca and his ex-girlfriend, with whom he seems to be starting things up again. It's just that DeLuca is kind of really boring, and I know nothing about this girl, and I don't feel invested. So. There's that.

Supernatural: Advanced Thanatology (13x05)

What is up with this season being so good? I'm blown away by how much work they seem to be putting in to developing the themes and making even the C-plot episodes focused and dynamic. Let's take a look.

Cons:

I did miss Jack, and I thought Sam leaving him alone with just "extra warding" was kind of silly. Dean seems to be a little more okay with the idea of the kid now, but the fact that he's willing to let Jack wander the bunker unprotected and unguarded seems kind of far-fetched. I understand the necessity in order to get the plot off the ground, but still.

The ending with Cas was absolutely amazing, but I've got to lodge a familiar complaint about this show and its excessively queer baiting ways. They're never going to do it, so they need to stop giving us moments like this. It's just pissing everybody off at this point. Don't call me a hypocrite for gushing about it later.

November 06, 2017

The Walking Dead: Monsters (8x03)

I'm going to kill somebody. Spoilers under the cut.

November 05, 2017

Outlander: First Wife (3x08)

Well, I knew this was coming. Let's take a look.

Cons:

I'm not sure what the answer is here, but Jamie still comes across as a total bastard for not telling Claire about Laoghaire. I'm not mad that he got remarried... I mean, Claire would have to be quite the hypocrite to be mad at Jamie for having a life in the last twenty years. But the lies? I'm not sure I can explain them away.

I adore the fact that Jenny is angry with Claire, and I wouldn't change that for the world. One thing is bothering me, though. Claire realizes that she can't tell Jenny the full truth about why she's been away so long, but why not tell her about Brianna? If she says she was pregnant and found out about it just before Culloden, wouldn't that help to explain why she ran off instead of looking for Jamie? I would think Claire would want to stick as close to the truth as possible, given the circumstances.

November 04, 2017

Once Upon a Time: Greenbacks (7x05)

There were a few fantastic revelations and powerful moments in this episode of Once Upon a Time, but there was also a considerable amount of uninteresting or unbelievable crap to wade through. A mixed bag.

Cons:

Our flashbacks of the week deal with Princess Tiana's backstory. I really like the woman playing Sabine/Tiana, but this story just seemed confusing and silly to me. I am absolutely in favor of the idea of Tiana discovering that she doesn't need a prince, and can be her own hero... but we've definitely already done that on this show before, and I felt like nothing new was added to the conversation here. Also, the moment in which the man Tiana was helping turned into a frog to join his love... I mean, I get it. We're referencing the movie. But are we supposed to think that that guy was just a super-intelligent frog the whole time? Or that frogs are all as smart as humans but just trapped in frog form? I wasn't really sure what to make of that.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh's Ex-Girlfriend Is Crazy (3x04)

This. Was. Incredible. I don't know that I can think of any other show on television that has managed to be as daring and controversial. I mean, think about it - this show is billed as a comedy musical, and this most recent episode had me laughing out loud several times... but then think about what actually happened here. It's dark! It's intense! I cannot wait to see where they take this.

Cons:

I only have one tiny thing to say, and this isn't so much a true complaint about the episode as it is a fear for the future. Darryl and WhiJo finally realize that the question of children is an irreconcilable difference between them. It looks like their relationship might not survive this. I really, really do not want them to break up, because I think a breakup will signify a decrease in White Josh's screen time, which is already too little, if you ask me. If they can find a way to continue his presence on the show in a meaningful way even if they break up, then I'll be sad... but I'll be okay with it.

Pros:

Literally everything else was gold. Where to start? Rebecca hits rock bottom in this episode, and it's Rachel Bloom at her finest. The opening scene features Rebecca tearing in to her friends, saying horrible, vicious things to everybody. She tells Paula that she's the crazy one, and that she needs to stop acting like Rebecca is her daughter. She tells Heather that she's aimless, accuses Valencia of foisting her own dream wedding onto Rebecca because nobody wants to marry her, tells Darryl to get his head out of his ass and admit that his boyfriend doesn't want to have a kid, and even accuses Nathaniel of conspiring against her. It's a scene that's literally uncomfortable to watch. There's nothing to lighten the mood - there's no sitcom double-take or comical expressions of righteous indignation. Rebecca, in this moment, is absolutely horrible to all of the people that care about her, and nothing is done to soften that.

November 03, 2017

Grey's Anatomy: Come On Down to My Boat, Baby (14x06)

This episode was your standard Grey's Anatomy fare, meaning it had a big ensemble cast and a million different plot threads going on. I'm going to try really hard not to do too much summarizing, and instead just talk briefly about what I liked and disliked.

Cons:

Amelia and Owen are divorced now but they'd still like to be friends. I don't have any reason for hating this, but I suppose it's time to face the fact that I'm never going to find Amelia a particularly interesting character. Her sleeping with her mentor was also unnecessary and weird, although I do find that guy to be kind of hilarious.

Richard is obsessing over a happy-hour mixer with the new class of residents, and it's weird to see him focused on that. Much like story-lines with children, this is one of those things that gets dropped for such a long period of time that I forget it's supposed to be a thing, so when it gets brought up it's kind of weird. Even worse, this plot thread invokes the dreaded name of Eliza Minnick, as Richard remarks that this is the first batch of interns he's had since he's gotten his job back. Snore.