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Michael Is Back on Elementary And He’s Not Alone

Veronica

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Content Warning: this review discusses a suicide that appears offscreen, as per the show.

My wish last week came true! No ooey gooey romance this week, all murder. After months of patiently waiting, Michael is back, baby! Of course, they actually revealed that three weeks ago, but this time he’s actually back.

Joan and Sherlock are working on some weird case in the brownstone. Inside an upstairs bedroom is the wreckage of a helicopter, but don’t worry about that case because Sherlock has already solved it. Something about a Nazi communist double murder.

It might just be an excuse to avoid cleaning up, but from there Sherlock heads to a meeting. Outside St. Olaf’s, there’s a crowd of people. A police vehicle pulls up. There’s the body of a dead woman in the NA meeting space. She was strangled to death with rubber tubing. I already told you that Michael was back so I won’t bother with the dramatic reveal that…it must be him!

All stops are pulled out for Michael’s return. Not only does Major Crimes come to the crime scene, but the FBI shows up to party too. Michael has killed across state lines, making this a federal case. An Agent Mallick is running point.

The victim is Rachel Garner. She worked for a hedge fund. Michael usually takes trophy from his victims’ bodies, a piece of jewelry or clothing, but nothing is missing. From the cleanness of the scene, the police believe the killer murdered Garner elsewhere and brought her here. St. Olaf’s is where Sherlock and Michael first met, so the message is clear. Sherlock smells swimming pool chemicals on her hair.

The police and FBI don’t have enough proof to arrest Michael or even search his home yet, but the FBI have been watching Michael’s home and place of business for the past several months. Sherlock has been watching Michael too, using the help of hacker collective Everyone. Never mind that’s not usable evidence in a court of law! But it leads to some interesting news. Joan receives a message from Everyone (in the form of a creepy singing telegram) that an old friend of Michael’s, William Bazemore, recently made a large withdrawal from his bank. The timing is suspicious. Joan and Bell decide to check it out.

Bazemore is another fellow addict in recovery. He believes that Michael is innocent and that Joan and Bell are simply prejudiced against people in recovery. Despite that, the money wasn’t for Michael, but to help his maid with her sick mother. Awkward.

Predictably enough, Sherlock is feeling guilty that Michael is killing to get his attention. He blames himself for Garner’s death. But he’s mad too. He’s not going to let Michael get away with this. At that moment, Joan gets a call from Bell telling her and Sherlock to come to the precinct. Michael has turned himself in and will only speak to Sherlock.

He hasn’t come to confess, instead, he wants to play more mind games. Michael admitted to his crimes to Sherlock in the past, but now he insists Sherlock was imagining it all as some side-effect of his PCS. That’s cruel. Sherlock shows him the pictures of Rachel Garner and Michael acts like he’s never seen any of it. Unfortunately, they still have no concrete proof on Michael. He can just walk out when he wants.

Clearly some #symbolism with the reflections, but it’s intriguing that Joan, not Sherlock, is superimposed over Michael

The police and FBI ponder where to go from there. Mallick doesn’t see the relevance of Garner smelling like a swimming pool, but guess who has a jacuzzi? William Bazemore. Joan and Bell decide to canvas his neighborhood, talk to the neighbors, see if anything turns up. Unfortunately, nobody saw Rachel Garner around Bazemore’s house. But a neighbor does recognize Michael as being a close friend. Bazemore, Michael, and Bazemore’s husband Ray were all in recovery together. But then Ray, who was struggling to stay sober, abruptly died a few years ago. Intriguing.

Sherlock corners Michael in a parking structure. Just Sherlock Things #57: Talking alone to a serial killer that’s obsessed with you in a dark, empty building. Anyway, the conversation doesn’t hold much of interest. Sherlock warns Michael he’s coming for him, etc. Michael no longer denies killing the other women but still insists he didn’t kill Garner. But he says that based on the photos, whoever did was angry. This scene and the scene with Michael in the precinct don’t really reveal a lot of information and tread some of the same ground, so I’m not sure why the writers didn’t condense the two scenes into one.

Joan and Sherlock return home to compare notes. Ray supposedly killed himself but Joan is skeptical. She suspects that Michael murdered him, perhaps out of some warped concern for Bazemore. Ray was having a hard time staying sober and maybe Michael feared he’d drag his husband down with him.

Speaking of sobriety, Sherlock noticed a fancy five year sobriety chip on Michael’s keychain. The chip is only sold on one specific website. Michael’s five year anniversary happened while he was in hiding. If they can find out where the keychain was shipped too, they’ll know where he was all this time. With the help of Everyone, Sherlock has done exactly that and found a place in Albany. Since Everyone gathers information illegally, they can’t use that data to get a warrant. Sherlock sidesteps the problem by calling in an anonymous tip.

Last time the police tried to get a warrant against Michael, they were turned down. Gregson goes to the same judge, Marilyn Whitfield. She’s dubious about the authenticity of the anonymous tip and gives them a warrant to search the apartment in Albany but not to electronically surveil Michael.

There’s nobody in the apartment when they search it but there’s signs someone left in a hurry. There’s also a darkroom filled with stalker shots of women. Creepy! One photo stands out to Sherlock. The picture is shot from a car window and Michael’s face is visible in the side view mirror. A bank in the background has a sign showing the date and time, proving exactly when the photo is from.

It’s the night of Rachel Garner’s murder. Michael was telling the truth. He can’t have killed her, because he was too busy stalking some other poor woman.

So who did kill her? The MO exactly matches Michael’s style. It could be an accomplice, but thus far Michael has worked very much alone. The other option is a copycat. That’s bad news, because there are details that the public never knew about. Whoever killed Garner is familiar with the case and thus is surely either a police officer or FBI agent.

As Sherlock combs through the list of possible suspects in law enforcement, Joan meets with William Bazemore again. She proposes her theory that Michael killed Ray and even shows him pictures of Ray’s corpse. Bazemore is visibly upset, because, I mean, wouldn’t you be? But for the first time, he seems willing to help. He tells Joan that he needs time to himself first.

Sherlock can’t find any promising leads among the police or the FBI. Gregson proposes that they try coming at the case from a different angle. Maybe there was a reason the copycat killed Garner and not someone else. The two visit the office she worked at to try and find more clues, and boy howdy, do they find them. Sherlock notices that the lock on her desk has been tampered with. Only people in the office would have access. Gregson asks Garner’s coworker for a list of people she worked with and immediately finds a name he recognizes. The man is no one that has showed up in the episode so far. His spouse, however…

I won’t spoil who the killer is, but I wasn’t expecting it.

But the episode is far from over. Joan is alone at home in the basement, cleaning up from the Garner case. Except she’s not alone; there’s an unexpected guest. Michael.

He creeps up behind her and hits her brutally in the face, knocking her down. Michael did kill Ray in order to protect Bazemore, his friend. When Bazemore found out, the shock lead him to OD after years of sobriety. Michael is furious and blames Joan. He hits her several times before letting her escape the basement.

The back door to the brownstone is shut with rubber tubing. Joan runs upstairs instead and shuts herself in the room with the helicopter wreckage. When Michael breaks the door down, she stabs him with a propeller. That helicopter may have been the death of a Nazi and a communist, but it saves Joan’s life. Michael runs away, bleeding.

Joan is hurt but she’ll recover. At least now they have something solid to hold against Michael when they find him again. Joan and Sherlock decide that she’ll go to stay with her parents for a few days to recover. They share an emotional moment and Sherlock promises to get Michael. But he never gets the chance. A short time later, he gets a call from Gregson. They found Michael…beaten to death and abandoned in a pile of trash. The primary suspect? Joan.

Thoughts:

  • At one point the FBI ask the police if they had any idea that Michael was back and they’re all like “Nope!’ But Sherlock totally did know that, he figured that out three episodes ago! Why did they bother to have that reveal if they were going to completely ignore it for the next two episodes and then forget about it this week? Bad continuity.
  • I was actually expecting the copycat to be Bazemore. My theory was that Michael confessed his crimes to him and Bazemore thought murder would help with his sobriety too. I still lowkey think that would be a better twist. Elementary writers, please leave a comment if you want to hire me and I will get back to you pronto.
  • It’s obviously not Joan’s fault that Bazemore ODed but I did think it was inappropriate to show him pictures of his murdered husband’s body.
  • In my notes on the episodes I often refer to major characters by initials to save time. But it gets very annoying when it comes to the letter “M.” We’ve got Michael, Marcus, Mason, Mycroft, Morland, and Moriarty. That’s too many “M”s!
  • Oh, and while I’m on the topic of Moriarty…Michael is dead. There’s one episode left in the season. The finale is presumably going to be about proving Joan’s innocence and finding the real killer. I predicted two months ago that Moriarty was going to kill Michael for playing with her toys. Now Michael is dead about five seconds after he put hands on Joan. HMMM interesting.

Images courtesy of CBS

Veronica is an English graduate who likes to spend her time reading way too deeply into science fiction, murder mysteries, and children's cartoons.

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Archie Goes Full Dufresne On Riverdale

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After last week’s exciting change of pace, Archie and the gang return to the present time in “Chapter Forty: The Great Escape” and boy, is it a drag (no, not the fun kind).

Recap

As Archie’s brilliant escape plan to run in the middle of the day, in plain sight of the guards and other prisoners, is failing miserably, we’re back at the bunker, with Betty catching Jughead and the Serpents playing G&G.

Betty tells Jug everything she’s learned from her mother, while Jughead shares his own discoveries about the game. He insists that G&G somehow reflect the real life, Riverdale’s life specifically. Betty is skeptical, so she decides to deal with feasible suspects aka the Midnight Club for now, while Jughead continues playing in order to get to the Gargoyle King his own way.

After Hiram lets Veronica know about Archie’s unsuccessful escape attempt, she decides to take the matters into her own hands. Through her connections in the, um, teenage filial of the local mafia she unknowingly gets herself invited to the warden’s little fight club. She gets a little private time with Archie and they sorta figure out a possible way to break Archie out.

Meanwhile, Betty recruits Josie, Kevin, and Reggie to discreetly question their parents about the Midnight Club. To their kids’ surprise, Mayor McCoy and ex-Sheriff Keller deny even really knowing each other back in high school, let alone dating, while Reggie gets a black eye for even mentioning G&G to his dad.

Unfortunately, the investigation has to be cut short when Veronica comes to all of her friends for help in getting Archie out of juvie. Betty tries to get Jughead on board, but he’s so cut up in a game that he sees the juvie break as nothing more than a great idea for the Serpents’ next G&G mission.

Speaking of juvie, Archie is granted a fancy meal with the warden, who informs Archiekins it’s also gonna be his last one. “The final meal before the final fight”, he says. Warden Norton also all but says outright its’ Hiram’s order. Archie takes a chance asks to hear how Hiram managed to set him up, and warden complies. When asked if Hiram also “owns” him, warden declares his soul “belongs to no mere mortal”, probably alluding to God… Or someone else.

Back at the speakeasy, Veronica lays out her elaborate escape plan for Archie. Basically, they go in undercover to the fight club, create a diversion with self-created smoke bombs (… I know), Archie escapes through the sewer drain, at the end of which Betty will be waiting for him on the Jug’s motorcycle (that she drives impeccably now, apparently).

Mid 2000’s teen rom-com shenanigans realness

Right before Archie starts his final match, he gets stabbed by Joaquin. The latter immediately apologizes and insists the warden said this is the only way he can “ascend”.

It’s game time! Literally and metaphorically. While the gang executes their rescue mission, Jughead and the Serpents are on a G&G quest of their own, that coincidentally mirrors everything the other team is doing. While trying to open the sewer drain grade, Kevin sees Joaquin running for his life through the woods. Kevin decides to follow him and leaves his task to Betty.

Back at the fight club,  Archie is up for his match. And his opponent is no other than Mad Dog. Archie tells him about the escape plan, but it seems like Mad Dog has accepted his fate.

Veronica runs into her father at the fight club, but before he can do anything to stop them she, Reggie, and Josie are setting the pan in motion. Their very slow distraction works and Archie jumps into the drain, while Mad Dog heroically holds off the guards.

At the end of the sewer, Betty meets injured Archie. They race on a bike through the woods to safety, but unfortunately, get caught by the warden and the juvie guards. But PLOT TWIST! It isn’t Archie up on a bike, it’s Kevin. They were a decoy for the guards, while Ronnie and the rest of the crew got Archie to safety at the bunker, where Jughead and the Serpents also just finished their G&G quest.

Tony patches up Archie’s stab wound, and the gang notices the warden has branded Archie with a symbol, similar to those on Ben and Dilton’s backs.

Back at the Lodges, Hermione is going off on Hiram for participating in the underground teen fight club as if she, as a mayor, doesn’t have enough problem to deal with. Veronica arrives just in time for some ass whooping as well.

But *now* we said it.

At Pop’s, Kevin tells Josie and Reggie that he didn’t find Joaquin after all, all while the news of Archie’s escape is heard on the radio. The triple also decides to play G&G by themselves, to find out what their parents, and Betty, don’t tell them about the game.

While watching over Archie at the bunker, Betty and Jug discuss how warden Norton fits into this whole G&G narrative. In the meantime, the warden himself is at his office, getting notified the mayor is here to see him. But unfortunately, they’ll have to reschedule, because the warden just drank the good ol’ cyanide-infused Fresh-Aid.

The episode concludes with Jughead getting back home from the bunker when he finally encounters the Gargoyle King himself.

Thoughts

I honestly don’t have a lot on this one. The episode revolves solely around juvie plot and we all know how I feel about it. The escape sequence is extremely silly, but sticking with Riverdale for so long, nothing fazes me anymore.

My favourite scene was probably Hermione cussing out her dumbass family.  Marisol Nichols did some amazing acting, and it was just so pleasant seeing Hermione to blow up like this. In Season 2 her character felt very Stepford wife (but make it mafia), so it’s great to see her getting some of that agency and character back.

The theory that someone of the Lodges is the Gamemaster behind this G&G madness grows stronger this episode. Killing the Red Paladin aka Archie was obviously a part of Warden Norton’s quest, and we know from the warden himself Hiram ordered to get rid of Archie. Or was the warden lying? Also interesting how Hermione was at the juvie when Norton ended his life. Could be nothing, could be something.

Next week, Archie is fugitive on the run, while Jughead discovers a new piece of the G&G puzzle…


Images courtesy of CW

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Analysis

I like my women… competent

Patrycja

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Criminal minds is a show that I enjoy watching despite sometimes watching it trough my fingers. It never fails to get my adrenaline going. One of it’s many great traits is the selection and capability of present female characters, be it unsubs or agents. The lead women are versatile and different while still having a few common traits. Furthermore they’re always competent and do the job the best they can.

The leader

Emily Prentiss is one of member of the team that was with them from almost the beginning. She went trough all the career steps, finally becoming the team leader.

Her being in charge was one of my favorite story lines. She earned that privilege with exceptional service and field work with various agencies. Her character replaced Aaron Hotchner as unit chief in season 12 after he resigned. It’s wonderful to finally see a woman leading a team; it happens so rarely. She has a great deal of experience with many different cultures as her parents were diplomats. That’s also how she speaks a few different languages, and it’s a skillset that has helped solve quite a few cases.

While on cases, she’ s rarely upset or lets her emotions get in the way, which is one of the reasons why she makes a great unit chief. She is level headed and calm and always factors many different scenarios into her decisions. With that being said she is also quick on her feet and can make split second decisions when she needs to.

While being calm and collected she still empathizes with the victims and their families and doesn’t hesitate to sacrifice herself to protect others. She’s not only a skilled field agent but also an undercover operator, which was shown in her stint catching Ian Doyle. That particular unsub also forces her to fake her own death without informing her team, with JJ and Hotchner being the only exceptions. She eventually reunites with the team in season 7 after the whole Doyle debacle was over.

She isn’t with the BAU the entire time. As previously stated she also work with other agencies like the Interpol. Even if she isn’t always with the team, she is referenced and talked about or pops up for a visit. Her work as unit chief hasn’t always been smooth sailing either. She was reassigned after she pursued a case and went toe to toe with Linda Barnes, who disbanded the team.

The mother

Jennifer “JJ” Jareau is the only women on the team with a family. She has two sons with her husband Will, who was a police detective in New Orleans. The fact that JJ is a mother strongly affects the way she acts and responds.

Although she started working when she wasn’t a mom, she always sympathized with the victims and their families the most visibly. Since she started as a police and media liaison, JJ was often responsible for contacting the families of the victims or their loved ones. She always did a great job while consoling them.

Her early role as media liaison made her the “media face” of the bureau, as she often spoke at press conferences. She was also responsible for choosing the cases the team would be working on, so her job came with a lot of responsibility. Her excellent work in that position was the reason for her reassignment and classified assignment. After her comeback in season 7, she made the change to profiler and her responsibilities were taken over by Hotch and Penelope. She is a skilled profiler, as even before she was one she was often crucial to solving cases and did that job even without the title. Her transition was also easier because she observed the team as their liaison.

She was one of the two people to know that Emily didn’t die. As they are close friends. JJ was also the one who met Prentiss in Paris after her “death”.” That close friendship is a recurring theme with the two characters, as Prentiss comes back when Jennifer is missing.

JJ has been trough tough times including the suicide of her older sister, her classified assignment, not to mention the toll the cases take. While she can wear her heart on her sleeve, she is also a skilled operator who will do anything for her family and for the people she loves. As my choice of calling her “the mother” implies, Jennifer is the one who takes care of all the team members. She shares a special bond with Reid, who is the godfather of her son Henry.

Finally, Jennifer is also a great leader, which was showcased when she replaced Emily Prentiss in the role of team leader. Although she has the ability to lead she doesn’t aspire to be the BAU’s chief. She’s content being an SSA.

Baby Girl

The first thing that springs to mind when thinking of Penelope Garcia is her relationship with Derek Morgan, well, and her unique personality.

Penelope is a former hacker gone good who’s now a technical analyst. Out of all the Criminal Minds characters, she’s the most colorful one—literally. Garcia often offers comic relief and a sense of light and joy to the intense show, and is the one the audience can probably relate to the most if you exclude her computer knowledge.

She is very emotional and openly shows all of her reactions. It doesn’t surprise anyone that she can’t look at horrific crime scene photos; her office is filled with colorful and cute stuff because of the horror that fills her screens (that’s what Hotch says to Strauss while describing the analyst). She also often speaks a bit too intimately when talking to team members, especially Derek. She gives him nicknames like chocolate thunder, etc, and he, in turn, calls her ‘baby girl’. These would normally be considered sexual harassment (which was even addressed in a funny scene in episode 9×12).


But it never actually crosses that line because they have a mutual understanding that it’s a consensual conversational choice. In fact, Penelope’s special relationship with Morgan is what initially drew me to the show. There is just something in how different they are personality-wise while still being very close to each other and understanding the other perfectly that compelled me. And while my shipper heart never understood why the two never dated, I have to admit that sticking to a platonic relationship between these two was a great move.

She makes him laugh and calls him out on his BS. He grounds her and helps her focus and get the job done. Their close relationship is probably the reason why it took Garcia a long time to warm up to Luke Alvarez, who replaced Morgan after he retired. It was implied that Garcia and Morgan are still in contact despite him not being on the show; she is even the godmother to his son.

As previously stated, Garcia is a skilled computer expert and former hacker. Her work is often crucial to finding the unsub. While that is her primary job, after JJ’s promotion she also became the liaison for the team. A job she shared with Hotch till he retired. The best way to describe her is that Penelope’s character is the counterbalance we need to all the heaviness and seriousness of the show.

Criminal minds proves that we can have a show that perfectly balances it’s male and female characters. It offers us a selection of women who all are intelligent, skilled, competent, educated, professional, and strong while staying human and showing emotions.


Images courtesy of CBS

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Tailor Soldier Spy: Black Lightning 2×05

Sarah

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Black Lightning, Anissa, and Jennifer with the phrase Get Lit
Hello and welcome back to Black Lightning season 2 after one of those weird one-week hiatuses that networks sometimes do!

Last episode, Lynn was struggling to navigate her pure heart clashing against Dr. Jace’s conscience-less one at the ASA; Anissa was vigilante-ing and Thunder and Black Lightning diffused several bombs at a neighborhood clinic; and Jen was imploding under the pressure of house arrest to the point where she finally responded to Kahlil’s messages and met him at Garfield.

This week, our fam is still pretty much in the same boat as they were in the previous episode, but with the sudden devastating addition of Gambi’s supposed death by assassins (presumably sent by Tobias).

going out in a blaze of glory

The general rule for things like this is that if there’s no body (which in this case there isn’t), the character isn’t dead (see also: Delphine Cormier). But for now, we’re all operating under the assumption that Gambi’s dead, which makes for some heartbreaking crying from the entire Pierce family, including Jefferson who at first won’t believe Gambi’s gone. It’s so sad, y’all.

when ur faves cry, u cry

In her grief, Anissa indulges her central character flaw, aka using Grace/sex with Grace as an emotional crutch. When she shows up at Grace’s apartment, she has all kinds of claims about how she now knows what’s important and Grace is the only person besides her family that she cares about, but in the morning when Grace asks Anissa to look her in the eyes and promise she won’t hurt her again, Anissa can’t do it. Really Anissa? Please stop with this nonsense. I love our bulletproof lesbian but given the way she treats her girlfriends, I would not date her.

Grace, for her part, looks like she’s about to turn into some kind of supernatural being with creepy-crawly skin, which is also something that’s happening to some other Freeland residents such as a skittish boyfriend of one of Anissa’s pregnant patients who turns up dead at the clinic (did I mention Anissa now works there because she can do everything?), and a cop who pulls her over as she drives out to check on said pregnant patient. CREEPY.

but this is sexy tho

Jen, meanwhile, has some particularly great moments this episode, the first being her witty one-sided banter with her online learning program. We also get to see the conversation she and Kahlil had at Garfield, which consisted of both of them quietly lamenting their circumstances. When Kahlil asks her then, and again later in the episode, of she thinks they can fix whatever they have together, Jen is a true Strong Female Character and basically is like, no dude, we get each other on an important level but we cannot be a thing anymore. (Anyway that’s what her facial expression said, I’m pretty sure).

Lynn aka perpetual Black Lightning MVP finds herself tricked into believing Dr. Jace has used Lynn’s amazing brain-power-math to crack a code that will save all the pod kids, but it turns out it will only save half of them and the rest of them die. This is not great for Lynn’s giant heart and after slapping Dr. Jace’s smug face and having her dragged off by security, she is left alone to deal with the mess and be extra sad because yeah, Gambi’s gone too. And because she’s Lynn, she’s also doing all the emotional labor on behalf of Jefferson who is in denial about Gambi until the end of the episode. Someone give this woman a trophy and a massage.

sad face emoji

Tobias (I guess we have to talk about him too) is busy being horrible as usual, relentlessly intimidating Kahlil and also blackmailing a councilman into helping advance his agenda to take over Freeland and ultimately kill Black Lightning. So, great. That guy sucks.

the only option for a last image: Gambi & Jefferson

That’s it for this week, friends! Do you think Gambi is really dead? Do you think Anissa needs to get her lesbian act together? Do you think Jen will be ok?!?!?! Come back next week and maybe we’ll find out!


Images courtesy of The CW

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