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Black Sails Enters the End Game

Bo

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It finally happened, everyone. After last week’s set up, Black Sails has moved all its pieces into position. I’m not ready. Whatever reservations this season has given me, Black Sails has delivered a wonderful final season so far and I’m not ready to watch such a spectacular show sail off into the sunset. At the same time, I’m glad to see Black Sails go out on top. Most shows don’t get the chance.

“XXXVI” delivered yet another tense, enthralling, and fantastic episode. Let’s take a look at what happened and what it all meant.

Spoilers for 4×08 “XXXVI” and Treasure Island below

Recap

Fittingly, Black Sails starts off this week in the black of night. Woodes Rogers rides to a house somewhere on Nassau and finds a secret basement. He takes a journal from a stack and returns to Nassau. After fake shooting Billy, Billy says the journals belonged to Henry Avery. The house belonged to Gates, and Billy laments what happened to Gates while suggesting what happened to him proves Flint and Silver will split.

They retrieved the journal in order to know the location of Skeleton Island. Rogers and Billy plan to lead Flint and Silver there for the Madi exchange.

Flint initiates a plan of his own, using Kofi and a few others to rescue Madi. He explains the plan to Silver, who questioned him and again questions him about what comes of their war. After taking Nassau before he saw only bad, but questions whether the pirates are capable of something better. Flint says that he has to believe in something better, and that Silver and Madi are the crucial aspect of something better.

Up in snowy Philadelphia, Max changes Anne’s dressings. She expresses optimism about her dealings with Grandma Guthrie and sees a bright future for them. Anne interrupts to dismiss this future. Whatever “us” once existed was broken and can’t be put together again. Idelle comes in and Anne asks for something from her.

Back in Nassau, Rogers shows up late to a suspended Council meeting. A lone adviser still waiting warns him that the Council is losing faith in him. He reveals his knowledge of the Madi deal. Rogers blows off his concerns and asserts the threat of the pirates. The adviser says fighting pirates is not his concern, rebuilding Nassau is. If Rogers keeps fighting pirates the others will rebel.

Meanwhile Mrs. Hudson packs away Eleanor’s belongings. She finds and begins reading a part of her journal, which talks about fearing for Rogers and a desire to protect him. Rogers interrupts her. He tells her to ready his things before he sails at dawn. The pirates find him aboard his ship the next day. He has Kofi and the others captured, and along with Madi brings them on deck.

After Rogers shoots Kofi, Flint gives an order to ready the cannons but Silver overrides him and orders the treasure brought on deck. The chest is opened and displayed before Rogers shoots Madi. The governor has her escorted below deck and readies to sail while Flint walks angrily away from Silver.

Mrs. Hudson has a plan of her own. She visits Mrs. Mapleton at the Nassau brothel to express fear of Rogers and tell an idea to get Mapleton back on the Nassau Council. Mrs. Hudson wants to turn states (sorry, give info) to help her do so. In exchange she wants to return to London as Eleanor promised. Mrs. Mapleton returns to her office where Jack and Featherstone wait, now able to tell them where Rogers and Flint sailed to.

Which we then see they are currently sailing to. De Groot explains their course to Ben Gunn. He confirms the Skeleton Island destination and delivers some creepy exposition about it. Down in the captain’s quarters, Silver and Flint argue about the exchange. Silver insists Madi is more important than the treasure, while Flint argues that Julius can now destroy their war. Silver reminds Flint of his unquestioning loyalty and asks for the same in return. Flint claims this loyalty.

He’s not the only pirate having a rough time of things. Anne tries to cut a slice of bread off a loaf but her hands remain too weak. Idelle walks in with a list of ships currently in port and taking on passengers that Anne requested. Anne plans to leave. Idelle talks about Anne’s murder of Charlotte in season 2 and how Max was the only reason Idelle did not hire someone to kill her in return. She tries to convince Anne to stay for Max.

Max is busy herself. She rides with Grandma Guthrie, but their expected plans have changed. They walk together at the docks, where Grandma Guthrie tests her with another anecdote, this one involving pirates nearby and the ways the colony benefits from them. Grandma Guthrie asks about Eleanor and laments never getting a chance to groom her. Grooming Max instead provides some comfort.

Later that night, she brings Max to a party. She describes an unremarkable nobleman she wishes Max to marry and the benefits of doing so. He would be the figurehead Max controls in Nassau. Any concerns about marriage obligations can be settled easily. If Max wants to run Nassau, she only has to agree to marry him, or someone like him.

Meanwhile, her partners (Jack and Featherstone) discuss an old man who can lead them to Skeleton Island.  Featherstone suggests letting Rogers take care of Flint. Jack refuses because both his concerns, as well as his treasure, are on the island. Back on the Walrus, Hands tries to convince Silver to kill Flint. Silver refuses and believes Flint will stay loyal. He warns Hands that he will answer for any harm that comes to Flint.

We catch up one last time with Max, who sits outside in the snow. Anne joins her and finds out about Grandma Guthrie’s support. Max tells Anne she turned down the marriage offer. Anne responds badly to the marriage offer, but not so much when told it would be superficial. Max explains the denial as a lesson from Eleanor. She spent years trying to learn from Eleanor’s mistakes, and believes the deal to give up Nassau was one last lesson.

Max risked Nassau because she does not want to risk losing Anne, and thinks she’s more important. Anne offers a hand and Max takes it.

Okay, time for the finale.

As the Walrus approaches Skeleton Island, a flashback shows Flint tell a scary story to Dooley about Avery finding it and a ship already there. The truth of the story is irrelevant. The point is about the fame and fear of the story. He convinces Dooley to be his new partner. They attack the treasure’s guard and prepare to move it. Hands stops the guard from shooting Flint but lets them take the chest. He wants Silver to see the truth of Flint.

The next day, Hands and Silver watch Flint come ashore with the treasure. Silver goes to Rogers and tells him what happened. He also tells him that he sent six men, who we see, after Flint to bring back the treasure, and also tells Rogers they were ordered to kill Flint.

Why do I have to wait another week?!

Review

No, seriously, how am I supposed to wait another week for this?

Since the moment James Flint stepped on screen with a plan to rob a Spanish galleon of its gold, anyone who has read Treasure Island knew this was coming. He would end up with a single chest of treasure, take it to Skeleton Island, and bury it there. The 6 men sent to retrieve the treasure will fail, whether they kill Flint or not. Of those 6 men, only Hands is (probably) guaranteed to survive.

All that’s left is the how. I cannot wait to see the how.

For the first time, however, I think Black Sails suffered from having to tie back in to Treasure Island. Not much—the rationalization for how and why things ended up this way worked well. What I do think happened is that the characters made decisions based on what that book says they will do, rather than what made perfect sense for their characters. I can imagine many seeing watching this episode and questioning why Rogers, Flint, and Israel Hands made the decisions they did.

Those questions were handled skillfully, though.

Flint and Silver may have grown close, but season 3 foreshadowed their eventual split and the past few episodes have done a great deal to fracture their partnership. The Madi issue was the final, logical straw separating them for good. John Silver has always been a selfish man. He has never cared for piracy or Flint’s war. The decision between them and Madi was never any decision at all.

Flint is an equally selfish man, uncaring for anything besides his own personal revenge against England in the name of Thomas Hamilton. His position may seem more selfless and noble, but he has always been focused solely on his own goals at the expense of everyone around him. If you stand in his way, he will turn on you. He has done so time and again. And he did so here.

Flint and Silver are two charismatic, willful, and selfish men who managed to somehow keep their goals aligned for nearly 4 seasons. Both had perfectly understandable reasons to split now. I can easily defend both of them. This split was always going to occur, though, and it was always going to be depressing to watch these two men take opposing sides of this final conflict. Both Toby Stephens and Luke Arnold sold the rift remarkably well.

With two episodes left, all that’s left to question is how exactly this conflict matches up with the known end result. How does Flint hide this treasure where no one can find it? Does he die here or manage to escape? A popular theory immediately spreading among the fans is the idea that Silver did not order Flint’s death, or at least told Hands not to kill him. Perhaps Silver will leave Flint stranded instead.

Or maybe Flint somehow escapes all of this in order to leave the clues Silver later follows back to the treasure in Treasure Island.

We may know the ultimate end result here, but even now it’s hard to know how Black Sails will reach that result. And we still don’t know what will happen with everything else happening on this sprawling show. Namely, what will happen with everyone else on Skeleton Island not actively hunting Flint.

For anyone who worried the politically heavy focus of the past two seasons meant Black Sails couldn’t give audiences a good old-fashioned pirate adventure, “XXXVI” proved they still had the touch. This episode reminded me specifically of a season 1 episode. Flint and company chasing a foe at sea, the focus on treasure, the spooky island, it was a wonderful callback to Black Sails’s origins. I know some fans missed episodes like this among all the politics of the revolution against Woodes Rogers.

And Skeleton Island more than delivered. In an episode full of highs, I’m not sure I enjoyed anything more than the build-up and eventual reveal of the island where Flint buries his treasure. In particular, his story to draw Dooley to his side perfectly established the island as a source of madness and violence. Toby Stephens had a fantastic episode here; his hope while defending his plan, his hurt when the chest is revealed, and the despair in his later argument with Silver were fantastic.

Nothing topped the silver tongue he displayed while telling the “history” of Skeleton Island. If anyone needed a reminder of James Flint’s charisma, look no further. It was one last, defiant act of guile from a brilliant main character, and one establishing just why the pirates and Rogers will likely end up exchanging blows one last time on this “cursed” island. Jack needs Flint and Rogers gone. Rogers needs the pirates gone. The pirates will be influenced by the tales of Skeleton Island. It’s a recipe for violence.

(I really want to feel more confident about Jack’s odds here. I want to believe he will arrive when the battle is underway and that Flint will already be dealt with, leaving only Rogers to deal with. At best I feel about the same. Maybe knowing his chances of survival didn’t decrease is enough.)

Everyone is in place and ready for their final fates, both on and off Skeleton Island.

I was very grateful for the focus Black Sails gave Max and Anne this week. With both far removed from the conflict on Skeleton Island, I worried we might not see much of them in these final episodes. I’m still slightly worried, because this episode felt almost like closure for them both. Max has chosen Anne over Nassau. Anne has accepted this choice. I’m all full of warm, fuzzy feelings and my cheeks are redder than Anne’s hair.

The last two episodes still have plenty to cover with these two, though. And it will probably rip my happy feelings to shreds. How will Grandma Guthrie respond to Max’s choice? Her feelings of Max replacing a lost chance to tutor Eleanor will not simply disappear, and she will not be willing to simply let Max walk anymore. Is Jack now trying to kill Flint for nothing? Will Max and Anne now have to run to escape imprisonment for piracy? No, these two are far from done.

In fact, this episode lent credence to the theory of Max “filling in” as the Mary Read of this story. If Grandma Guthrie decides to imprison Anne as a pirate and Max sticks by her, perhaps things play out that way.

I also have my reservations about Max’s willingness to cast aside Nassau for Anne. I don’t doubt her feelings, but I’m not sure her choice here fits her decisions and character to this point. Especially when she claims the choice was a lesson learned from Eleanor. Eleanor Guthrie died after choosing love. Are we supposed to assume the same will happen to Max? And what exactly happened to revenge for Eleanor’s death? I suppose as tempers calm she can think again with a clearer head, but Eleanor’s death is still so fresh.

Speaking of, Black Sails managed yet again to straddle a thin line between justifying Eleanor’s death and making it feel worse. Max replacing Eleanor in her grandmother’s eyes is certainly a fascinating idea I’ve enjoyed watching, but I still think it preferable to see Eleanor doing this with Max’s help. Having Eleanor here would also make Max’s decision to choose Anne over Nassau a little more understandable. I’m not sure how much longer Black Sails can manage this balance. Maybe they keep it up all the way through.

Whatever happens, Anne will most certainly stick with Max to the end, be it bitter or sweet. Their reconciliation was an absolutely gorgeous scene, even if I still fear every second for their eventual fate. In the end, I just want them to be happy. I hope they get to be happy. And I want Jack to be there with them.

Not just emotionally, this scene was visually beautiful.

Hey, I doubt Black Sails will provide much in the way of happy endings for its characters. I’ll take whatever I can get. Miserable or not, though, Black Sails continues to navigate excellently towards its final moments.


Images Courtesy of Starz

Bo

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and continues drifting wearily through the slog of summer TV.

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Inhumans Muddles with Morals

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“Somthing Inhuman This Way Comes..” is the 5th epsiode of Marvel’s The Inhumans. Things finally picked up last week, so let’s see if the show can keep it up.

Recap

Karnak and Jen reminisce about the night before. As they exit their tent, Reno shoots at them. Karnak blocks the bullet, but Jen gets hit. They run away, and hide in a ditch with Reno in pursuit. Reno receives a call and heads back to the pot farm to meet the caller.

Louise is driving while Medusa and Black Bolt cuddle in the backseat. Black Bolt asks Medusa about what happened to her hair. Reluctantly she opens up, but states it doesn’t change anything and that finding their family is more important. A banging is heard from the truck. Louise pulls over to let Locus out. Locus uses her powers to locate Karnak in the jungle. She makes a comment about the Royal Family’s behavior towards their people, and Medusa commands her to do her job. Louise objects to her treatment of Locus; Medusa replies that she was sent to kill them.

As they trek through the jungle, Locus’s communication device goes off and Medusa takes it from her. Maximus is on the other end. He lies to Medusa about Crystal’s locations. Black Bolt has Medusa tell Maximus that when they get back they will have words, and Maximus says he looks forward to the family reunion. Black Bolt then crushes the communication device, much to Louise’s dismay. Maximus summons Tibor.

On Dave’s farm, Audrey observes that Lockjaw is doing better. Revealed, Crystal is ready to find her family. Audrey protests, saying Lockjaw isn’t ready to run around. Crystal says that’s okay, they’ll just transport. Audrey doesn’t believe any of Crystal’s story until she and Dave are transported away.

At his lab, Declan performs an autopsy on Sakas (Matt Perfetuo), who died in the explosion caused by Mordis. Declan notes that he has a venom gland in his neck. Declan’s Assistant (Joseph Kingsley) looks to Auran, and wonders that her powers are.

Gordon wanders in the jungle tracking Karnak. In a flashback, Gorgon impulsively steals the Lunar Flag. Karnak tells him to put it back, because the humans will notice if it’s gone, which could jeopardize Attilan. In the present, Reno meets up with his boss, who asks to see Ted’s body. His boss then has him shot. He then commands some lackeys to take care of Karnak and Jen.

On Attilan, Maximus wants Tibor to choose the best Inhumans to go after the Royal Family. Tibor questions if this is forceful conscription, but Maximus tries to justify it by saying it’s to secure the peoples freedom, which must be earned.

Back in the Jungle, Karnak tells Jen that he must remove the bullet. Using his Inhuman strength he pushes the bullet from the back through the front. Karnak patches her up. Jen wants to call the police, but he thinks that’s a bad idea. Karnak wants to go back to camp to ambush Reno.

Declan and one of his assistants study Auran’s and Sakas’ DNA. His assistant worries that the Inhumans will turn on the humans. Declan states this is why it is important to understand them. Suddenly Auran’s body jolts. Declan thinks it’s just postmortem spasm, but then Auran sits up and begins to heal herself. Declan stares in awe. Auran then grabs Declan by the throat, ordering him to tell her where Black Bolt is. Declan’s assistant tries to attack Auran with a scalpel, but she ends up killing him with it.

Jen and Karnak arrive back at the pot farm. Karnak isn’t sure how to proceed because he can’t see a clear outcome. Jen remarks that doubt can be helpful. In a flashback Karnak states that he and Gorgon are polar opposites. He is rational, while Gorgon is impulsive. Gorgon asserts that at he is at least doing something, while Karnak just sits around. In the present, Karnak decides to take a chance, so he and Jen head into camp.

I don’t get paid enough for this.

Back on Attilan, Maximus tells Auran not to hurt Declan and not to tell him whom she is working for. Maximus tells her Declan’s research is important and to keep him safe. He then commands her to finish her mission and that he will be sending her help soon. Auran then contacts Mortis, who, with Flora (Krista Alvarez) is holding Sammy captive. Auran tells him to bring Sammy to her.

Karnak and Jen notice someone else has been at the camp. The lackeys arrive, and Karnak tells Jen to hide while he takes care on them. Across the island, Lockjaw, Crystal and Dave arrive at a secluded beach. Dave is amazed by how they’ve traveled all over the island in the blink of an eye. Crystal is frustrated that they can’t find her family. Dave tells her to let lose and not be afraid. Later that night, Karnak fights the lackeys, but is overpowered and captured.

I feel like this has happened before.

Elsewhere Locus uses her powers and says that they are close to Karnak. Louise wants to know how her powers work, but Locus can’t explain it. Medusa explains that Terragenesis decides all. Louise remarks that she doesn’t like that idea, and Locus mentions that before Terragenesis she wanted to be a healer. Louise doesn’t see why she can’t both, but Medusa objects, saying echolocation is Locus’s one true calling. Locus retaliates that this is why she choose Maximus, and brings up Medusa’s parents. Louise thinks it ironic that Medusa and Black Bolt were thrown out for not wanting to change the caste system, while her parents were. Medusa says the law in Attilan wasn’t perfect, but they try to do what’s right. Locus declares this is why she supports Maximus, because he will change things. Medusa points out that he forced Locus here.

Tibor gives Maximus a list of potential recruits, noting that many weren’t happy to be drafted. Maximus repeats that you have to earn your freedom, using himself as an example. Tibor warns Maximus that some might think he is only acting in his own interest, and not Attilan’s. Angered, Maximus orders him to leave.

Gorgon finds Karnak and Jen. Together the fight and escape, but don’t make it far because of Jen’s injury. They hear fighting and gunfire in the distance, then someone approaching. It is revealed to be Medusa and the others, who have just fought the drug dealers. They share a long awaited reunion, and Gorgon shows some interest in Louise. Jen decides that she’s going to call the police and suggest that they all disappear before they show up. Karnak doesn’t want her to leave, but Jen says this is the way things are sometimes, but she had a good time.

Just as Jen leaves, Locus falls over, divulging that she was fatally wounded in the fight. With her last breath, Locus pleads with Black Bolt to change and become the king they deserve. She then tells Medusa that Crystal is on the island. Medusa asks where, but Locus dies before she can say.

On Attilan, Tibor is surrounded by the Royal Guard. He believes they’re there to kill him for speaking out against Maximus, but actually they want his help to overthrow Maximus, calling him a false king.

Review

Similar to last week’s episode focusing on Medusa, this week’s episode focused on Karnak, who, like all the supporting characters, needed some development. The flashbacks with Karnak and Gorgon felt a bit repetitive, but it gave their relationship some longevity. When they are forced to think like the other in order to survive, it highlighted how much they have impacted each other. Plus, it was nice seeing Ken Leung get a chance in the spot light.

A bit of this feels undermined by Karnak’s relationship with Jen. Even if Jen states in the episode that they were just having fun, their interactions weren’t framed that way. I understand Jen’s character is meant to play into Karnak’s arc of becoming more impulsive, but it felt more that the narrative was suggesting she healed him with the power of sex, which is a terrible trope. Speaking of which, it seems Crystal and Dave’s relationship is headed in the same direction, with the exact same plot. Right down to romantic rendezvous on a beach, with a swim in the ocean. That’s just lazy writing.

The trouble with Jen, or any of the other human companions, (besides Louise) is that they aren’t well written, and do little to serve the actual plot besides to drop some words of wisdom and then disappear. Jen literally leaves this episode, which is honestly a better outcome than I thought she’d get. When it was first hinted that she would be Karnak’s love interest, I though she might get stuffed in the fridge.

While Karnak got his groove back, questions of morality were (finally) being discussed in the subplots. Locus, who, unfortunately, did get stuffed in the fridge, brings into question the effectiveness of Black Bolt and Medusa’s rule, stating her frustration for having her fate chosen for her. Louise gives us more insight into her character and others by questioning Medusa and Black Bolt. Medusa is proving to be more of a morally grey character by believing herself to be in the right. While it is interesting to see that Attilan has deeper issue with individuality within it’s system, this is a topic that should have been brought up sooner. It doesn’t help that this episode is nearly over by the time this matter is addressed and answered.

Locus states that she followed Maximus because he would change things, but then changes her own mind in the end by telling Black Bolt to become the king they deserve. What prompted this? Medusa says that Maximus forced Locus to come to Earth, which is trying to play off Maximus’s forced conscription plot, but that doesn’t make sense in the context of the scene. Locus was a part of the Royal Guard, and was just following orders when she came to Earth. Really there isn’t any logical reason for her change of heart besides the writers wanting to prop up Black Bolt. If there was any doubt in her mind about Maximus’s intentions, it should been set up sooner. In these circumstances, it was completely underserved.

Huh, I think he might be evil.

Further undercutting any moral nuance was Maximus’s plot on Attilan. Up to this point, Maximus has been a sympathetic villain. He did horrible things, but the audience understood his motivations. This episode eroded that by having Maximus develop a non-voluntary draft on the lower class Inhumans to find the Royal Family.

Now, this isn’t horrible character progression. However, combine Maximus’s plot combined with Locus’s sudden turn-around, and it felt more like the writers trying to manipulate the audience’s opinions. They’re basically saying ‘Hate Maximus because he doesn’t really care about the Inhuman people. Love Black Bolt, he truly cares.’ But we haven’t seen why Black Bolt is any better than Maximus yet, so the argument doesn’t hold up.

There’s the plot with Auran and Declan who continue to be puppets in Maximus’s schemes, but theres nothing new to add. However, it is becoming unnerving to watch Auran die in such brutal ways, only to come back to serve a man she has no clear motivations to care for. Auran, honey, you can do better.

So, once again, Inhumans continues to frustrate me. This episode posited some interesting questions and character development, but it all feels too-little-too-late. The season has passed the midway point, and as a result, these developments are all rushed. Maybe there should have been more episodes. Or maybe they should have hired a better showrunner.

Until next week, stay awesome.


Images courtesy of  Marvel/ABC Television Studios

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We’re All SAD: Broad City, “Abbi’s Mom”

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Hello, dear Queens. This week on Broad City, Abbi’s mom comes to town and Ilana is sad, as well as SAD. As in, she’s very depressed, and it’s not just the winter.

Great decor though, as always.

We open on Abbi and Ilana making frantic preparations for Abbi’s mom’s visit. (Her name is Joanne, so we’ll go with that from now on). Joanne has always been what Abbi calls “conservative.” Abbi likes to keep it surface-level with her mom—light, fun. She plans a day of museum-ing, visiting Santa at Macy’s, and eating at Ilana’s new workplace, Sushi Mambeaux (apparently Sushi Mambo is a real place in NYC, and it looks exactly like the fictional version). The pair clean the apartment, make a fancy cheese plate and hang a garland.

While they go about prepping and Abbi is explaining the details of the day she has planned with Joanne, Ilana starts to flop over on the table. She doesn’t laugh at Abbi’s “thanks for cutting the cheese” joke and looks a little sick. She stumbles over the counter and switches on her SAD lamp. (SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, classified as seasonal sadness or depression mostly due to lack of sunlight). Ilana seems to fill her tank very quickly on this light and be back to normal. She insists that her depression is due solely to the winter (and fall, and late summer) weather/lack of light, and has nothing at all to do with the fact that she has steadily cut back on her antidepressants and now takes none. Abbi is a little worried.

When Joanne arrives, she reveals to Abbi that earlier in the year she found a benign lump in her breast, an experience that gave her some perspective on life. Abbi is taken aback and unhappy that her mother never told her this, but listens as Joanne goes on to say that what she really wants to do is have a wild night out with her daughter. (Which, okay). So before they head out to dinner, she dons Abbi’s iconic blue dress of multi-episode fame, which just sets things up perfectly.

You’re going to become me someday.

At the restauranterie, RuPaul has declared Spring Cleaning night. This means whoever gets the most tips gets everyone else’s tips too, and whoever gets the least amount of tips gets fired. So, there’s that.

Ilana seems okay at the top of her shift, and gleefully seats Abbi and Joanne. But the sad/SAD is getting stronger, and she needs to sneak into the storage room to juice herself up on light again. Soon the light isn’t enough, and she implores Abbi, from a fetal position on the floor, to find a higher-wattage bulb. Abbi has the idea to reflect the light off of a sheet of tinfoil. As the night progresses, Ilana has lined the entire storage room in sheets of tinfoil and is bathing in this extreme light, with ever-weakening results. Between stints in the light-room, she’s unable to upsell her customers or be cheery. She sits at her customers’ tables and lays her head down, claiming that life is meaningless.

Our restauranterie only has a B food rating.

At first, this approach to a depression storyline rubbed me the wrong way. It’s utterly ridiculous (but that’s what Broad City is) and seemed belittling to the experience of depression. But the more I think about it, the more I actually think it’s a decent commentary on the stigma associated with medication (Ilana didn’t want to take it anymore) and the drive to be happy all the time (hence the extreme light dependence). In the end, Ilana goes back on her meds, and specifically calls out the futility of shame and stigma around antidepressants.

ANYWAY. Back in the restauranterie, Joanne has been taking shots and drinking martinis while confessing all kinds of things to Abbi. She’s only had sex with 3 men (as opposed to Abbi’s 32), hasn’t had hard liquor since the night she got pregnant with Abbi, and generally wishes she had “fucked up more.” While Abbi is horrified, she’s also empathetic and a little amused, so she takes her mom outside and they smoke some weed together. Back inside, Abbi tries to help Ilana again with the Power Light, but they blow a fuse and the power cuts out. When it comes back on, they find Joanne standing on the table, shouting that her daughter fucked 32 guys, before falling into the indoor koi pond and heading outside to make out with Owen the terrible rich waiter.

Meanwhile, Ilana tells RuPaul to take all of her tips and fire her, but she can do no wrong with him. He says her depression is “making his dick a little hard” and that he hopes she never gets better. YIKES. Another joke that didn’t land with me was when RuPaul’s child Parker, who has been working at this restauranterie without revealing their true identity, confronts RuPaul about his parenthood. RuPaul fires Parker, cackling as he claims he doesn’t work with family.

The episode ends on a high note, though, as Abbi and Ilana take Joanne shopping at a sex shop. They seem like they’re at home there. When Joanne decides she wants to get a Shinjo, there’s a very funny callback to season 2 when Abbi put Jeremy’s Shinjo in the dishwasher. Hand wash only, mom.

Honestly I’m just really attracted to Ilana in this shot.

Overall, I give this episode 3/5 sake-rosé shots. Tune in next week for the recap of “Witches.” I have no idea what it’s about, but the title has me pretty psyched!


Images Courtesy of Comedy Central

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SKAM Is Getting A US Version and That’s Bittersweet

Matthew

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If you’ve been around the fandom circles on social media in the past year, then you may have heard about this Norwegian TV show called SKAM that people, including me, started obsessing about all of a sudden. This happened mostly because of the show’s third season which aired from September to December/2016 and featured the romantic development between Isak Valtersen and Even Bech Næsheim.

Now, as per Deadline, the show has been officially greenlit for an American version after talks happening for a very long time. As a fan of the show, I can’t help but feel weirded out about this idea and it’s not entirely a matter of “I liked it before it was cool”.

You see, SKAM was a very unique show. For starters, each season was focused on one character and the episodes were a mesh of clips that were uploaded throughout the week to NRK’s website (the channel that produced the show). Not only that, but each clip was dated and timed in a way that, if the events of the clip would go down at 3 pm on a Tuesday, then that’s when NRK would upload it.

Therefore, the show was so well scheduled that it included birthdays, holidays, the Syrian refugee situation from last year, and even this year’s Ramadan. Plus, the page on NRK also included instant messaging with official Apple/Facebook software and Instagram posts from the characters. All of this created an immersive atmosphere that had people eagerly waiting for any sort of update.

I should also add that NRK did not provide English subtitles. Therefore, any viewer who did not know Norwegian had to wait for a non-official translation from some incredibly kind Norwegian folks who uploaded the clips with English subtitles or provided translations online — we even became known as the Google Drive Fandom, by the way, and SKAM won a few audience awards/pools like E!Online and Gullruten 2017 (Norwegian Oscar equivalent) from our votes. Sadly, due to its international fanbase, NRK had to geoblock the clips because of their local contract with music companies as the show embraced a myriad of current songs from Beyoncé to Nas.

Finally, SKAM was even more unique in how its teenage characters were also portrayed by teenage actors. The show was aimed at younger people, but it had no censoring of curse words. The actual high school that the actors attended served as their character’s school. The actors, allegedly, were paid very low fees which served as a testament to the show’s low budget and the actors’ love for their job. The low budget is also remarkable when you see how beautiful the cinematography is and much of that is thanks to the director, writer, and showrunner Julie Andem.

Now, why did I feel the need to write all this? Well, because that’s what makes this American adaptation worrisome. As much as there has been a push to hire age-appropriate actors (like in Riverdale, Power Rangers, and Marvel’s Runways, for example), it’s hard to have complete faith as things are right now. Facebook Watch being the producer is also a mixed bag of emotions because you wanna believe that newcomers to the broadcasting business can do good (such as Hulu’s work with The Handmaid’s Tale), but then again, we don’t have a lot to go on in terms of trust.  And then there’s the fact that adapting this show is sort of moot when SKAM is perfect on its own, even if it is not accessible to more audiences.

Perhaps the way to our hearts is knowing that the original showrunner, Julie Andem, is also going to be the showrunner to the US version, but then it’s impossible not to ask yourself: if you are going to do this, then why did you have to end SKAM so soon? Many fans strongly speculated that, due to its “One Focus Character Per Season” format, we would get at least six seasons in order to properly tell the story of each main character. Instead, after the instant hit that season 3 became, the very first promo for season four already told us that it would be the last season, pulling the rug from under new and old fans alike. Four seasons were not enough: characters like Even, Vilde, and Jonas each deserved their own time to shine with their own spotlight.

Don’t get me wrong though: as much as some fans rightfully complained about some issues with season four, I still believe that SKAM ended beautifully… and yet way too soon. Like, guys, I actually learned Norwegian through online courses because of this show. I got in touch with an entirely new culture just by watching it. I wholeheartedly wish it was still airing so I could spend more time with these characters I loved.

I can’t see the future, but I am not too confident that SKAM US will be able to fill the void left in me by SKAM’s ending. There were a lot of important stories yet to be told and the show always told important stories: from learning to grow as a young woman independently, loving someone who can be bad for you, gaslighting sexual assault, coming out of the closet and accepting your sexuality, mental illness, to the struggles of a young hijabi woman in a faithless society.

SKAM was this huge deal for a lot of people and that’s why it’s bittersweet to see something so precious to you become distorted for a different audience when there’s perfection already made. We, the fans, are holding our breath to see if this will pay off. Until then, I guess rewatching Isak falling in love with Even or Sana Bakkoush reconnecting with her friends never gets old.


Images Courtesy of NRK

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