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Gushing Over Reunited, Part 2: The Attack

Bo

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Now that Betchen (Bo and Gretchen) have gotten the Steven Universe happy big gay wedding out of the way, it’s time to jump into the action of “Reunited.” No, we don’t mean Garnet’s honeymoon. Or, maybe this still counts? We feel like Garnet might like a good fight on her honeymoon. Or to roleplay as Lonesome Lasso and Sally Mae. Anyway, we’re getting off topic. On to…

The Return 2: Electric Boogablue

There were many hopes for this episode and the return of Blue and Yellow Diamond to Earth. Would Lapis return? Lars and the Off-Colors? Jasper? Would we see new fusions? Would one of the Diamonds beat Alexandrite down like Thanos does Hulk in Infinity War?

Not all of this happened, but what did happen exceeded our expectations and then some. “Reunited” was the culmination of 5 seasons of this wonderful show. The Crewniverse put so much effort into building up this moment; Steven Universe as a whole is a master class in foreshadowing, and this battle fully showcased the team’s skill in that regard. With all the hard work out of the way leading up to it, they could give us a rip-roaring final fight stuffed to the gills with surprises and badass moments. With all the foundation laid down, the Crewniverse was able to deliver triumph after triumph and it was amazing. The fusion known as Betchen is pretty damn satisfied with everything that went down.

Like any good fight scene, the fight against the Diamonds gave each of our cast of characters from the Crystal Gems (both A and B team) an epic closing moment on the arcs built since their first appearances. Garnet stood up to Blue Diamond, who she first formed in front of. Peridot stood up to Yellow Diamond again and tossed soda cans with reckless abandon. Lapis returned to throw a barn and declare herself a Crystal Gem (so much more about this later). Connie launched herself right into the action. Bismuth got to fight alongside her friends, who all used the modifications she used to her weapons. Bismuth also got to throw Peridot at Blue’s face. #goals, amirite?

As little as single sentences closed entire books on the incredible character arcs they’ve all been through in satisfying ways. How amazing was Pearl’s, “I do it for me!” after all this time? That’s right, Pearl, you Diamond-seducing boss. Even Lion and Greg got in on the action. Well, Greg tried anyway. To be honest, they should have just let Greg at Blue. This all could have been solved quicker with the signature Universe charm.

And Lapis. LAPIS. (Yeah, you know Lapis is going to get her due with Gretchen involved in this discussion.) She’s going to save most of it for an in-depth essay about her continued healing arc, but there’s still plenty to say. Starting with: damn does she know how to make an entrance!

Before the “deus ex Lazuli” comments start, can we take a moment to appreciate how well foreshadowed Lapis’ return was? We know she was watching the Crystal Gems (and Peridot in particular); it’s entirely possible that the red and blue flowers that wash up on the beach after Garnet re-forms are a gift from her to let them know she’s watching (Gretchen likes to think so). We also know that she’s considered returning but didn’t know how to control her fear. So really, her arrival shouldn’t have come as a surprise nor is it really a ‘deus ex machina’—which implies that that the heroes literally could not do anything to save themselves without outside intervention, which we know wasn’t true.

Lapis helped turn the tide, but Steven delivered the final blow (more on that in a second). More than that, this was culmination of her seasons’ long journey through healing from her trauma and fear. She willingly destroyed the home she had taken all the way to the moon in order to help save her friends. You know what that is? That’s growth.

More than any show we know of, adult programming included, Steven Universe has hammered home again and again that one choice never ultimately defines someone. Rather, it’s the sum of and directionality of one’s choices that make people who they are. Mistakes happen along the way. Healing isn’t linear. Continued upward progress matters more than tiny steps backward or the occasional plateau. Choices and behavior always have a context, and turning a complex issue into a black and white matter of 100% good or evil when the reality is gray only hurts people. That applies equally to Rose, to Steven, to Bismuth, and to Lapis.

Lapis’ final choice doesn’t magically transform her into a good person that she wasn’t before she came back. She’s been on this trajectory since the end of season one. Proudly declaring herself to be a Crystal Gem is the culmination of several seasons’ worth of unpacking and processing her trauma, not a single defining moment disconnected from everything that went before. This choices was as much a product of her previous choices as it was a different one.

She needed space (*snort* gotta love the literal pun there) to think about and solidify her feelings about Earth and the Gems. She needed to face her fears on her own, to learn how to cope with them and control how she engaged with them.Like Ruby, she needed to find herself and what her story meant alone before coming back and joining the team for herself. If she hadn’t done that, she wouldn’t have been so strong and fierce as her own individual person. And damn was our girl, fierce

Only someone who has learned healthy ways of coping with her own depression can stand up to an onslaught of manipulative grief. Blue weaponized her pain and Lapis said, “Not our pain to bear, back off.” And that’s an equally important message as Steven’s compassion. Empathy has limits, especially when the other person seeks to burden you with their own pain in an unhealthy way. Yes, Blue was in pain. Her grief was valid. And, it wasn’t her place to make everyone else suffer because of her hurt. Extending compassion to someone in pain isn’t the same thing as them trying to make you suffer the way they are. Lapis showed us that.

At the same time, and best of all, this final fight completely validated and rewarded the choices Steven has made in the name of love, sympathy, and compassion. Even if we take the boundaries into account. Every mistake, every low point, and every moment of self-doubt this poor kid has persevered through was proven to be worth it. He learned, listened, and loved his way to this confrontation, and we couldn’t be more proud of him.

Because “Reunited” was also the culmination of Steven’s arc. All his friends came together, driven by his faith and love for them, to stop the greatest threat they’ve ever faced. Who expected the Cluster to return at all here, let alone fully in control and on Steven’s side? Everyone jumped to his defense without a second thought. They did so because Steven has earned their love and trust. How? By first extending love, trust, and compassion to others. Steven Universe as a show and him as a character have always promoted the importance and benefits of kindness, compassion, understanding, and healing, and now we saw how those choices and themes rewarded Steven.

The segment in the mind-ghost space (sure, go with it) was the perfect way to ultimately end the fight while also giving Steven arguably his biggest moment of peace over violence. How fitting that he ends the fight not by beating the Diamonds physically, but by literally breaking through the layers of grief Yellow and Blue built up over thousands of years? Even against the most dangerous threat he has ever faced, he went with his first instinct of healing and reconciliation. Damn if it didn’t work. Of course it did. Steven’s a miracle worker.

This was also his shining, climactic moment with his friends. Here’s where “For Just One Day Let’s Only Think About Love” continues to be a perfect tone setter for the entire episode. We talked in the first half of our review about Steven’s role as emotional support for the Crystal Gems, and he took this role to its greatest level yet within the mind-ghost space. He lifted everyone’s flagging spirits when they most needed him to. He bolstered them against the fear and doubts beginning to creep in.

Speaking of,“For Just One Day Let’s Only Think About Love” also framed the battle between the Crystal Gems and the Diamonds as one between love and hate, joy and pain, happiness and sorrow, fear and hope. Their conflict was not decided because one side or the other was physically stronger. It was decided because one side was stronger in the real way. After 5 seasons of minor conflicts in the battle between hope and doubt, hope won out.

We’ve seen fans try to attribute Steven’s power to Pink Diamond. We won’t pretend there’s no validity to it, or at least to aspects of it. Awareness of the mind space seemed to be a Diamond-only power. Blue and Yellow did stop fighting only after recognizing Pink Diamond’s aura. But we still hold firm that Steven has unlocked and developed these powers not because of her, but because of himself and the influences in his life. He deserves the majority of the credit. The rest goes to Greg. Greg was the one who raised Steven to be this way.

Rose/Pink had a lot of curiosity about Earth, but she wasn’t exactly empathetic. Knowing exactly how to encourage others to be their best selves and keep fighting isn’t a gem power. Intuiting exactly what people need to hear, and then saying it, isn’t either. Rose may have been excited about diversity and uniqueness, but she didn’t really set out to help anyone be their best selves. Or go out of her way to love and show compassion to them when they weren’t or challenge them to be better than their worst instincts. That’s all human, which just makes Steven that much more powerful as a character because some of his greatest ‘weapons’ are ones we can access, too. We can all be like Steven, and some of the greatest battles we’ll ever fight in our personal and political lives could do with some Steven-ing up.

Pink/Rose chose their way, and it was a way of war and violence. We’re not saying the Crystal Gems were in the wrong. Sometimes you have to choose the hard, violent way in the face of the most extreme subjugation. Rose ultimately fought for the right reasons and had good intentions. Those were still her choices and her instincts, and they almost always oppose the choices Steven makes. We wonder how many times we have to see Steven choose the opposite of his mother before we stop attributing the good in him to her.

Steven has now done what Rose would have thought impossible: he ended fighting with the Diamonds through peaceful means.

Reunited

So what happens now? You mean other than Lapis and Peridot getting their Crystal Gem Stars?

Totally the reason they got poofed and we’re not even mad.

Great question. A lot of fans have talked like it’s all over. Steven added two more giant women to the mom collection and now it’s on to a White Diamond conflict. We have to disagree. Oh, we have no doubt Blue and Yellow will eventually come to love Steven just like everyone else. Right now, though, that’s not at all what happened. Right now they are happy to have “Pink” back, and it’s a matter of how they deal both with learning Steven isn’t truly Pink and that he isn’t leaving Earth.

There is also a lot of emotional navigation ahead to truly overcome the mistakes of the Rebellion and the grief that followed. We still have thousands of bubbled gems who were corrupted by the Diamonds’ attack on Earth. And what about all the other Cluster experiments, or even the Cluster itself? Don’t you think it’s worth dealing with the horrors the Diamonds were willing to accept as part of their ‘grieving process’? Plus, we have a whole ship full of Off-Colors and Lars headed toward Earth, Gems who were oppressed and marginalized on Homeworld. The caste system that kept Gems like them in hiding still hasn’t been abolished. It’s safe to say there’s plenty to dig into even if the Diamonds no longer wish to destroy Earth.

There are critics who dislike the entire idea of Diamond redemption, regardless of how it happens. We understand. You have to be careful when navigating redemption arcs regarding vicious, oppressive tyrants. Lean one way and you excuse and justify their actions. Lean the other and you don’t actually give a good reason for them to switch sides. It’s definitely a delicate balance. Can the Diamonds actually come to Steven’s side without it feeling forced or insensitive to their crimes?

Can we at least see how it plays out before we denounce the entire thing, though?

The promo for the next episode already gives us reason to rethink what we know about the Diamonds. If they didn’t know their attack corrupted gem life on Earth, it raises questions about a lot of other things. Why did the attack corrupt the gems then? Did White Diamond do it? Was Rose’s shield responsible? How will Blue and Yellow feel about what they did to those gems? Combined with “Pink’s” survival, this may be just the catalyst for them to truly reflect on gem culture as a whole and perhaps seek to change it.

Now that it’s clear corruption will be the focus of Steven Universe’s immediate future (three cheers for Centipeedle returning!), undoing that damage may be the first step towards Blue and Yellow atoning as best they can for their actions so far. We’ve seen the show handle unintentional damage to others from good intentions in the past. Why not take on unintended casualties and damage when the intent truly was to hurt, just not in this way? And why not, as part of that process, dig into the ways that those who have done that damage can participate in reconciliation and healing?

We have an idea of how that might go, if Steven Universe chooses to go in that direction. The Diamonds were the only ones aware of the mind space, and we think it likely will use this space to heal the corrupted gems, or at least to help with the healing if they have any idea how. There’s obviously a limit to how much the Crystal Gems or the audience can forgive the Diamonds. They have thousands of years of ruling a fascist empire under their belts. They’ve committed war crimes and atrocities they can never really be forgiven for.

But does that eliminate any possibility of them turning their lives around? We hope not. Steven Universe prides itself on trying to reach everyone. It’s trying to teach lessons of love and peace to kids. Fiction is full of stories where bad people find a better way. Shouldn’t we at least keep our minds open to the Diamonds being able to do the same? If they can’t be reached, the show will deal with that later.

Or maybe the Crewniverse will settle them into some middle ground between ally and foe. Full ‘redemption’ and unrepentant villain aren’t the options. It’s not unreasonable to think, at least in the short term, that Blue and Yellow can both continue life as they have while also agreeing to leave Earth alone out of love for Pink. This dynamic could even open up more complicated stories around the idea of family you love yet have complicated relationships with because of bad things about them. We can all sympathize with that these days.

Whatever the case, the Crewniverse deserves a chance to try. Considering how well they handle everything else they’ve done, we’re both very optimistic.

Random Thoughts

  • The visual styling of the Cluster with its ‘muscles’ made it looked like a skinned human arm, which sounds gross, but was actually quite beautiful.
  • Yellow and the Cluster arm wrestled. The Crewniverse did that. Before you wonder, it was absolutely foreshadowed. Remember the arm wrestling arcade game?
  • Peridot throwing cans at Blue and screaming “fight me” was the epitome of angry smol.
  • We salute the proud tradition (dating all the way back to “Laser Light Canon” 1×02) of yeeting the angry smol at the enemy.

  • So many pop culture references we can’t even name them all, but we loved it.
  • That moment where everyone helps Steven hold the shield to protect them all from Blue’s attack? That’s what being a Crystal Gem is all about.
  • Dewey x Jaime? Who would have seen that ship coming!
  • Greg saved Cat Steven!
  • Our response after seeing the promo: CENTIPEEDLE. CENTIPEEDLE. CENTIPEEDLE.
  • Yet another Diamond appearance without so much as a hint about White Diamond. If they go through an episode discussing the corruption attack without mentioning her, then something very strange is going on. The Crewniverse will have a trick up their sleeve regarding White.

Images Courtesy of Cartoon Network

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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Dayana
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Before this episode, I would have never guessed arm wrestling would ever be something that could make my jaw drop. But it was with the greatest of pleasure that assumption was proven wrong. And then that didn’t even make it into my top five moments of the episode. This episode was so amazing from start to finish. Is it September yet?

Gretchen
Admin

Right? Even if you’d told me they were going to arm wrestle I would have snorted at the idea of it being compelling, but it was so well done. Is it for sure that new episodes are coming out in September?? I’m so ready.

Ira Shantz-Kreutzkamp
Guest
Ira Shantz-Kreutzkamp

But does that eliminate any possibility of them turning their lives around? We hope not. Steven Universe prides itself on trying to reach everyone. It’s trying to teach lessons of love and peace to kids. Fiction is full of stories where bad people find a better way. Shouldn’t we at least keep our minds open to the Diamonds being able to do the same? If they can’t be reached, the show will deal with that later. That’s one side of all this that’s really uncomfortable to me. The people doing the oppressing and perpetuating the violence in the world kids… Read more »

Gretchen
Admin

I understand where you’re coming from, so let me ask you a question. Do you think the depiction of violent oppressors realizing the horrors of what they’ve done, expressing remorse, and making reparations has value? If so, what would that look like for you? If not, why?

Ira Shantz-Kreutzkamp
Guest
Ira Shantz-Kreutzkamp

That is a GREAT question, Gretchen, because while I’d love if the Gems turned from just chewing life-giving planets up to changing others so they’d become full of life themselves(whatever form that life may be), I can’t really see much anything like that happening. I dare say at some point they’ll MENTION what they did across the universe for years untold, but I’m skeptical there’s going to be space or time for healing more than the Earth’s wounds and maybe relaxing their stranglehold on power as the Greater Diamond Authority reforms. That’s the central problem, here, that it’s unlikely the… Read more »

Television

Netflix Is Resurrecting Avatar: The Last Air Bender…In Live Action

Dan

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Water…Earth…Fire. Long ago, the three books lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when Shyamalan adapted. Only the Bryke, masters of the franchise, could stop him. But when the world needed them most, they vanished. Ten years passed, and the fans discovered the new Avatar: The Last Airbender, from a streaming service called Netflix. And although their hype generating skills are great, they still have a lot of budgeting before it’s ready to adapt.

It’s been a solid decade since Avatar: The Last Airbender, considered by some to be the best children’s cartoon of all time, aired for the final time. Since then it’s lived on in comics and novels (there is no movie in Ba Sing Se). The sequel series, Legend of Korra,  which definitely didn’t  affect the writers on this site at all, also wrapped in that time but joins its parent show in the pages of comics, for better or for worse. But now, 10 years after our last on-screen adventure with the “Gaang,” Netflix announced via Twitter that they would be resurrecting the iconic series, with the original creators, and begin production. Not only that, but it would move from the world of animation into the flesh and blood world of live action.

Since the show and its successor wrapped, Bryke (a.k.a Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino) and company have kept themselves busy. Konietzko has been busy working on his Threadworld series of science fiction graphic novels while Dimartino released his debut novel Rebel Genius. Netflix has taken several veterans of the Avatar into the show. For example Aaron Ehaz, the Emmy-nominated head writer from ATLA, recently debuted his own series, The Dragon Prince, for Netflix; and veterans of both ATLA and LoK Lauren Montgomery and Joaquim Dos Santos are the showrunners on Voltron: Legendary Defender.

Master Playwright Pu-on Tim, however, has yet to top his magnum opus

The new show, according to the scant information we have, will be a remake of the original show but not a direct translation. According to Bryke, who will be executive producers and showrunners, the new Avatar: The Last Airbender will “build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building.” While the core story of the show will likely not change, it’s clear that Netflix is allowing a great deal of freedom to alter the show as they see fit, with the benefit of a decade of hindsight and story changes. They also remain committed to a “culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast” for the program, most likely a response to previous (similarly named but definitely not related to the show) live-action programs that may or may not have turned Tibetan and Inuit coded characters white.

The only glimpse we have at the new show depicts Aang and Appa on the frozen wastes of the South Pole

The new show will be a partnership between Netflix and Nickelodeon as a part of Netflix’s lineup of shows aimed at children and families. It will enter production early next year. Keep an eye out here on the Fandomentals for news and, eventually, dissection of every little thing we learn when we learn it.

Are YOU excited for a new Avatar: The Last Airbender show? What are some things you want them to change? Is there anything they should leave alone? Sound off in the comments.


All Images courtesy of Nickelodeon and Netflix

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Television

Sherlock Sacrifices For Love In Elementary Finale

Veronica

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Finale time! Will my wild theories turn out absolutely right or tragically wrong? Who knows! But wrong. Definitely completely I was wrong.

Last episode ended with the dramatic revelation that the season baddie, Michael the Vaguely Creepy Serial Killer, was beaten to death. The lead suspect is Joan. The episode begins with FBI Agent Mallick interviewing Joan. She hasn’t been arrested yet, but the FBI has questions.

Joan doesn’t have a reliable alibi. That would be too easy. She was alone with her mom, who has dementia. Mallick thinks that Joan fixated on Michael. She wanted revenge on him for the way that Michael hurt Sherlock, his victims, and Joan herself. But Mallick has more than just motive to back up her suspicions.

The FBI has a tape. Michael called his friend from the last episode, Bazemore, to try and explain his actions. That puzzled me, because last episode, Michael said that Bazemore ODed. I assumed that Bazemore died and that was why Michael attacked Joan rather than continuing the cat-and-mouse game. I can’t figure out whether this was a continuity error, my misunderstanding, or somewhere in between.

Anyway. Michael called Bazemore and they have it on tape. As he’s talking, he’s interrupted mid-sentence. He says Joan’s name, and then there’s the sound of a beating. That sure sounds suspicious. Joan can’t explain it.

So back at the brownstone, she and Sherlock meet with a defense lawyer. She warns them that Mallick is a dangerous opponent. Then she literally doesn’t show up again for the rest of the episode, making the whole scene supremely unnecessary.

Alone at last, Sherlock asks Joan if she killed Michael. If she did, he’ll help her get away with it. But Joan insists she didn’t and in turn asks Sherlock if he did. Also no. Thus, they are left with finding the real killer. They can’t expect much, if any, help from the police, who will be under pressure from the FBI.

Nonetheless, Sherlock asks Gregson for the files on Michael’s murder. Gregson refuses. He says that if Joan is innocent, the evidence will prove it.

Sherlock isn’t willing to wait for that. He breaks into the morgue and steals the autopsy report on Michael. He also performs his own autopsy and takes pictures of the corpse to show to Joan.

There’s severe head wounds caused by a blunt object. That could explain why he said Joan’s name on the tape; maybe he was just confused. Also of note is that someone neatly stitched up his stab wound from Joan. Joan doesn’t think it was done in a hospital. It reminds her of emergency medicine of the kind that would have been performed in the Vietnam War. Wow, that’s a really specific thing to just know off the top of your head, but okay. It gives Sherlock an idea.

He goes to an NA meeting and sidles up to an older man named Denny. They met before at a meeting. Denny was a combat medic in the Vietnam War and he too knew Michael. When Sherlock starts asking questions, the guy gets shifty, but with some pressure he agrees to talk to Sherlock privately.

Denny hadn’t known that Michael was a killer. Michael had simply shown up on his doorstep, bleeding, with a story about an altercation with a drug dealer. Denny obligingly stitched Michael up and let him crash on the couch. He was still there in the morning, gone by the evening, and shortly later Denny heard on the news that Michael was a) dead and b) a serial killer. He was scared of getting in trouble himself so he didn’t go to the police. Sherlock promises to keep him out of trouble if he’ll just help Sherlock in return.

The dynamic duo investigates Denny’s house. It’s the last place Michael was alive…and maybe dead too. Sherlock finds traces of a lot of blood that was cleaned up in a hurry. This could be the scene of the murder. When they spray Luminol they find traces of footprints. A woman’s footprints, the same size as Joan’s shoes.

So now they know where Michael was killed. But once again, the clues point to Joan. How did the killer even know where to find Michael? Sherlock proposes a theory. Agent Mallick is the real murderer. Perhaps she was afraid that she would never catch Michael. Killing him was the only way of stopping him. Now she’s pinning it all on Joan. That would mean that our two detectives can’t go to the FBI with this new crime scene. It would only be used to further frame Joan.

That is, if the crime scene was even still there. But it isn’t. Sherlock persuaded Denny to burn his house down and gave him money in exchange. Joan is furious but Sherlock angrily stands his ground. He’ll do what he has to in order to protect her.

Meanwhile, the FBI is still chasing Joan. Mallick and some other agents interview Bell. He staunchly defends his friend, even when Mallick threatens to use the case to torpedo his chances with the Marshals.

Bell doesn’t like to be threatened. Shortly after the interview, he meets with Sherlock privately and hands over the police’s files on Michael. The two men share a tense moment of friendship and wordlessly shake hands.

Michael’s body was lying in a pile of trash. When murder victims are found in landfills or dumpsters, the trash around their body is cataloged for clues. In Michael’s case, that trash is interesting. Joan and Sherlock know the murder was in Queens. Yet, his body was among trash from Harlem. How does that happen?

Joan and Sherlock check out a facility for garbage trucks and chat with a particular sanitation worker there. When the two first began investigating Michael’s case, you may remember that they discovered a man who had been convicted of one of Michael’s murder. With Sherlock and Joan’s help, he went free. This sanitation worker, a mechanic for the trucks, is the father of that man.

Sherlock thinks that fact is important. Obviously the mechanic has no reason to be fond of Michael. Maybe Michael’s killer recruited his help in disposing of the body. The mechanic could have stolen one of the trucks, driven out to Queens, picked up the body, then dumped it. That could explain why the trash was from Harlem.

The mechanic angrily denies it. First of all, the truck facility is guarded and all the trucks are GPS tracked. There’s no way that anyone could steal one. Secondly, if someone did kill Michael, he thinks that person is a hero. He isn’t going to help anyone, even the people that saved his son, catch Michael’s killer.

As the detectives continue to explore the facility, Joan wonders if maybe it was the other way around. Rather than taking a truck to Michael, maybe the killer brought Michael to the truck. It would be easier to sneak a body in than a truck out. If so, there facility has security footage. Her face would be on camera.

But nothing’s ever that easy. When Sherlock and Joan ask the guards for the security footage, they discover someone beat them to it. A law enforcement officer came to the facility and took the tapes, leaving behind no copies. Sherlock suspiciously asks if the agent was Mallick.

But it wasn’t Mallick. The cop was a man named Gregson. Are you thinking, “ohh nooo” yet?

Captain Gregson returns to his home to find it tossed. Sherlock is waiting in the dining room. He was looking for the tape but couldn’t find a copy. Gregson must have destroyed it.

Why would he do that? For one simple reason. Hannah killed Michael. After all, he killed her roommate, her best friend. In the time since then, she became fixated on revenge. She investigated his life, learned who all his friends were, so she knew he’d go to Denny after Joan hurt him.

It was never supposed to be pinned on Joan. Hannah didn’t even know that Michael was recording when she killed him, nor did she hear him say Joan’s name. (As for why he did that, we never really get an explanation.) She disposed of his body.

Gregson never knew of any of it until afterward. But eventually she came clean to him and he realized that her one vulnerability would be the security footage at the sanitation facility. She’s his daughter. He did what he had to in order to protect her.

Now they’re at an impasse. Sherlock demands he come clean to the FBI. Gregson refuses. He insists it will all blow over and the lack of evidence will vindicate Joan. Sherlock points out that regardless, her career and reputation will suffer. Gregson blames Sherlock for Michael’s involvement in their lives in the first place.

It’s Gregson’s daughter. It’s Sherlock’s best friend. Neither is willing to budge and they part in anger.

Sherlock returns to the brownstone and updates Joan. He thinks that they should tell the FBI anyway. They don’t have proof, but if the FBI is doing their due diligence, they should at least investigate the Gregsons. That could be enough.

But Joan understands why Hannah did what she did. She doesn’t want Hannah to go to jail or for the captain to get in trouble. She agrees with Gregson; maybe it’ll just blow over. They should wait things out. It could make her adoption chances harder, maybe impossible. But she’s willing to take that risk. Sherlock still wants to protect her, but Joan says that if he’s her partner, he should support her.

At this point, Sherlock does what he always does. He takes things into his own hands and goes to meet with Hannah Gregson herself. She too never wanted Joan to be a suspect. Sherlock tells her to confess, to admit where the murder weapon is.

The FBI come for Joan. But not to arrest her. Mallick has news for her. She’s no longer a suspect. Someone else confessed to the murder of Michael and even provided the murder weapon. But it wasn’t Hannah. It was Sherlock.

Well, not Sherlock himself. He turned himself over to the British consulate, struck up some sort of deal with MI6, and they sent a messenger with Sherlock’s confession. Britain is refusing to extradite him to the US and if Sherlock ever steps foot in the US again, he’ll be arrested.

Joan returns home in shock and finds Sherlock there. He’s not supposed to be in the country anymore, but he had to see her before he left. This was the only way he could think of to extract all of them from this situation without anyone going to jail for it. Joan is angry he didn’t try harder to fight, but for him it was worth it to protect Joan. She saved his life and taught him his life was worth saving. They emotionally say good-bye and finally admit they aren’t just partners; they love each other.

For the final scene, we see Sherlock in England, in the famous 221B, consulting with a client. But he isn’t really paying attention to the man’s story of a runaway bride. His neighbor next door is distracting him with a tremendous noise. He storms next door and knocks. The door opens to reveal, of course, Joan.

They walk down the street together. They have work to do.

Thoughts:

  • I predicted that Moriarty killed Michael. Hoo boy, I was wrong! I absolutely did not see it coming that Hannah was the killer! That was a deft twist. It made sense but surprised me.
  • That being said, why was there so much storyline this season about Moriarty if she wasn’t going to actually do anything?
  • The scene where Sherlock and Joan said goodbye was very emotional and touching but a little silly considering that obviously they weren’t going to really part. I was sitting there tearful, but also thinking to myself, “But why doesn’t Joan just move to England too.” And she did! I was worried, though, that the line about them loving each other was going to lead into a kiss or something, especially with all that romantic crap a few episodes ago. I’m very glad it didn’t.
  • It’s intriguing that the shots of them in England felt like a natural end to the show. Except…season 7 is already in the works. Hm.
  • So wait, is this the last we’re going to see of the rest of the American cast? No more Bell? We know he’s going to the Marshals, so he’ll be okay, but no goodbye scene? That’s sad. Farewell, Bell. I’ll miss you!
  • This is our season finale, so see you all next season!

Images courtesy of CBS

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The End Arrives for Jimmy and Kim on Better Call Saul

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Surely this comes as no surprise. After all, the previous two episodes of Better Call Saul made it rather clear how different their goals had become. Jimmy and Kim are two very different people on a fundamental, moral level, and however they may have fun together, the relationship was unsustainable. They simply disagree too strongly about life. I love them both, but I’m not sad to see it end here. Mainly because Kim needs to get away from Jimmy before it’s too late.

Unfortunately, she looks to be in for one last caper, and I hope she avoids running everything in the process.

Slow Death

For the third straight week, Better Call Saul started with a brilliant opening scene perfectly setting the table for the episode to come. It’s been clear since Jimmy’s blank, unfeeling reaction to Chuck’s death that his relationship with Kim would end. As the season went on it became clear the end would likely occur this season.

Most people likely expected a big blowout argument. Jimmy’s friendly relationship with Chuck ended with one. Considering Jimmy’s current side business, I assume most expected Kim to find out and lash into him about it. Or perhaps Jimmy would push further or do something “for” Kim that triggered the confrontation. It felt like a short fuse was lit between them and the explosion was inevitable.

Instead the opening scene showed us something worse; the slow, cruel death of communication and love between two people who just slowly drifted apart over the long months spanning Jimmy’s suspension. Two people who gradually stopped talking to each other, who lost the easy synchronization they once had. Two people who barely even see each other despite living in the same apartment.

It genuinely hurt to see just how distant they were in this episode. The company party at Schweikart and Cokely was every bit the equivalent of Walt’s infamous drunken rants or the horrible gym speech he gives after season 2’s plane collision. You could tell how cold and distant things had become between Jimmy and Kim. Jimmy’s escalating humiliation of himself and the genuinely nice company trip ideas Schweikart put forth was a clear misreading of the room and perhaps even an intentional one. It felt to me like he thought embarrassing Kim’s boss would somehow convince Kim of something.

By the end of the episode, they spoke to each other like old acquaintances rather than romantic partners. They barely sounded like friends. However Jimmy thought Kim would react to his ideas for Huell’s legal defense, she clearly did not react that way. Instead you had two people with very different ideas.

When Kim found out about Jimmy’s side business, she barely reacted. She clearly gave up long before then. Why bother reacting emotionally when she gave up that emotional detachment long ago?

And yet, this is Kim Wexler. She does not give up. She puts in the effort no matter how hard it looks. I don’t know what plan she wants to put in motion to end the episode, but it’s clear she’s trying one more time to rediscover what she and Jimmy lost. This stubborn refusal to give up is what worries people about Kim’s fate. She sure worries me. As Jimmy keeps moving further and further into the criminal world, will he drag a stubborn Kim along with him? Can she cut him off in time?

I think she will. I think this new scheme is a last ditch “have a baby for the marriage” kind of move, whatever it is. In the end, it won’t work. By the end of the season the relationship will be over and they’ll convince themselves they’ll stay friends. This “friendship” will consist of a few shared words at the courthouse when Jimmy’s defending drug dealers and Kim’s doing PD work. By some point next season it will be over for good.

But first we have the latest Jimmy/Kim caper.

Magic Markers

Let’s be clear about one thing; Kim’s not involving herself in anything illegal. Let’s kill that notion. If this episode made anything clear, it’s that Kim is not willing to put her law career in any serious jeopardy for Jimmy. Especially not for Jimmy’s bodyguard.

So what exactly is her plan? I’ve seen a few good theories, but by far the most compelling one to me was protesting. She’s planning to make a racial issue of the prosecution’s insistence of a max sentence for Huell. This is Kim’s Atticus Finch moment. She sees a chance to make a real name for herself using a real case striking at a larger societal issue. It’s everything the judge told her should would never get earlier this season.

Would that  work? I suppose Kim would have reason to think so or she wouldn’t do it. Saul Goodman would do this, but not Kim. So why did it come to mind? Did she notice that all the reduced sentences she mentioned to the prosecutor involved white people? Did she find some questionable history in the cop’s record? I guess we’ll find out.

Then again, maybe that’s not her plan at all. I’m curious what others think her plan will be. Considering how many markers she bought, some kind of public demonstration must be involved. Why else would she buy all that?

Whatever her idea, I imagine it will be a huge stretch. Huell attacked a cop and has a criminal record. This cop specifically arrested him before. This is a loser case with a ton of downside. Kim’s good, but is she that good? I assume that no matter her plan, she does have ideas of making a name off of it. But will that name be good?

I suppose knowing the inevitable destination of Jimmy’s life makes me nervous to see Kim partner with him one more time. We’ve seen time and again how Jimmy causes destruction for those closest to him. Has Kim’s loyalty pushed her into something she thinks will make her famous but will instead make her infamous? Is it possible this ruins her new gig at Schweikart and Cokely?

Kim’s idealism is one of her most admirable traits, yet I worry it will cost her dearly now. Or maybe not. Maybe this will be the kind of landmark case like Chuck has. After all, it seemed to have been Chuck’s death and eulogy that inspired her towards this new direction in her law career. It’s possible she now sees a chance to make her name just like she hoped, and to truly become a champion of the greater Albuquerque community now. That lure may be enough to override her common sense regarding Jimmy and his schemes.

If there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that Jimmy will take an immoral, possibly illegal slant to Kim’s plan. No matter how she protests, he’ll do it. And when it blows up in his face, he’ll learn nothing.

Other Thoughts:

  • Gus discontinuing Hector’s treatment so that he’ll stay in his current state of disability is the most cold-blooded thing anyone on Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad has ever done. Honestly, it’s borderline if not outright cartoonish. I’m not sure I actually like this development at all.
  • To be honest, there’s something a bit sick and exploitative about the Hector subplot at this point. Gus’s need for revenge is fine, it’s not like anyone considers him a good guy in the story, but there’s no counterbalance for Hector’s mindset here. He’s the equivalent of an overly abused voodoo doll at this point, and it’s getting problematic.
  • Don’t mind me, I’m just stuck over here in season 2 when Jimmy and Kim brushing their teeth together was the most adorable scene on the show.
  • Mesa Verde opened a Nebraska branch. I wonder if it will come into play for the Gene subplot.
  • Jimmy’s Saul Goodman cards are quite similar to his eventual lawyer cards. It’s a nice touch.

Images courtesy of AMC

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