That Sherlock has it’s issues is no secret: queerbaiting, lack of POC, treatment of women, you name it. So I decided to take a closer look at these and what makes them offensive by drawing comparison to a show I personally think handled things better.
The Infamous Queerbait
There are story conventions so universal, they sometimes feel self-evident. One of the most common is that if there’s a male and female lead, and that they’re going to fall in love, that’s just the way it is. So, when your leads are both of the same gender this often leads to a phenomenon we all know and hate: queerbaiting.
Queerbaiting is the practice of intentionally implying a queer romance via subtext without the intention of delivering on such romance. This is done at the expense of the LGBT+ community who are looking to media for representation.
A show often accused of queerbaiting is BBC’s Sherlock. Does it have a problem in this particular department? Yes, end of discussion.
But the fact is, subtext isn’t necessarily queerbaiting and sometimes not easily distinguished from the latter. So how can one tell whether one is being queerbaited or watching a slow-burn romance eventually intended to become text?
For this we are taking a closer look at both the aforementioned Sherlock and NBC’s Hannibal. Both are modern adaptions of earlier works (and in Hannibal’s case a prequel), that deviate so significantly from their source material that we can very well judge them on their own.
So why Hannibal, does it too have a queerbaiting problem? Not quite.
Hannibal was originally supposed to have a m/f main pairing, Will and Alana, but due to organic story development it never became more than a mutual crush. Alana trusted Hannibal over Will, their friendship grew cold and eventually Alana fell in love with and married multi-million-dollar heiress Margot Verger. So, a wlw power-couple is canon.
On the other hand, we have Will and Hannibal, a relationship that, while being at the center of the series was not at first intended to be romantic, and for good reason as there’s nothing healthy about it. (So far it contains about half a dozen attempts at murder.) Both creators and characters seem conscious of how unhealthy it is, but subtext kept piling up and was eventually moved into text. The way this was handled, reminds of Legend of Korra‘s treatment of Korrasami (though again, it’s not as positive a relationship).
Therefore, it is a suitable contrast for Sherlock and its blatant queerbaiting. We can use Hannibal to help identify how to distinguish queerbaiting from accidental or actual subtext.
First off, the one thing that annoyed me most about how John and Sherlock’s relationship was depicted: people tend to think they are romantically involved. Like, everybody just assumes. This literally happens in every episode up to John’s wedding (1×02, being the exception), often more than once.
There is no narrative reason for this to happen. Maybe once to establish there’s no romantic interest in each other, okay, twice, if you really think it’s necessary, but constantly?
John: We’re getting married. Well, I’m gonna ask anyway.
Mrs. Hudson: So soon after Sherlock?
John: Well, yes
Mrs. Hudson: What’s his name?
John: It’s a woman.
Mrs. Hudson: A woman?
John: Yes of course it’s a woman!
Mrs. Hudson: You really have moved on, haven’t you?
This is Mrs. Hudson, their landlady with whom they lived in the same house with for over a year.
The only explanations for this are you are either consciously keeping the option in the mind of the audience, which, if you don’t intend to deliver, would be queerbaiting. Or you think it’s funny, which would equate to a gay joke. Neither is a desirable option.
In Hannibal‘s case, implications that there may be more of a relationship than is publicly known first become a thing in the second season, which is also when the producers first noticed a romantic subtext. The only thing before that is Alana making a quip that Hannibal has adopted some of Will’s mannerisms late in season one.
What also contrasts Sherlock is that while Sherlock and John are always denying any assumptions made, this doesn’t happen on Hannibal.
Will: You called us ‘Murder Husbands’.
Freddie: You did run off to Europe together.
This example is the closest thing there is to the kind of constant joking seen on Sherlock. But in this case, Will’s anger is understandable since Freddie is a reporter on the hunt and Will is at this point married to Molly and not on the best of terms with Hannibal.
Another thing which can distinguish queerbaiting from subtext is framing, is there romantic music? Are forms of symbolism used? If not the probability of this being queerbaiting is a good deal higher.
Problematic Villain Coding
A queer coded villain is not sufficient representation, as it links “queerness” to evil, especially if the queer-coded villain continuously hits on the hero. Attempt at being funny or not, that is called harassment and having your queer-coded villain harass your ‘innocent’ (straight) hero is definitely problematic.
On Hannibal there are no queer coded villains. Tobias Budge would be stretching. Mason Verger may be flamboyant but he is also clearly female attracted. On to Sherlock, the most obviously queer-coded villain is Jim Moriarty.
Jim Moriarty is introduced as Molly’s boyfriend. He’s immensely queer-coded and hits on Sherlock who immediately points this out. It’s played for laughs, charming.
From here on whenever Moriarty encounters Sherlock he continues to flirt with and is shown to be obsessed with him. And then in season four there is this jewel:
“You like my Boys? This one’s got more Stamina, but he’s less caring in the afterglow…”
How are we supposed to take this, is he sleeping with his guards who work for him? Was this part of the job description? This alone would be considered offensive, but that is not the end of it.
The morally grey Irene Adler is presented as bisexual, which in combination with her mostly scanty clothing and her occupation as dominatrix is not too favorable in terms of bisexuals being hypersexualized.
And again, she is attracted to Sherlock and making advances even though it is (initially) making him uncomfortable. This is not presented as negative since she is a conventionally attractive woman.
Sherlock: I take it he did not consent?
Eurus: He? She? I did not notice. After I was done it did not matter…
Eurus is another can of worms. There was no reason why she needed to speak to Sherlock, her brother, about having sex. The fact that she neither noticed the gender nor cared for the consent of her partner may be intended to show her as “evil”, but it unconsciously links sexual violence to queerness.
So, most villains on Sherlock are more or less queer and none of them care if people consent to their advances. That’s “Game of Thrones” levels of representation.
The ‘Other’ Women
The topic of queerbaiting ties in neatly with the treatment of other romantic relationships and women in general. If your two—in this case male—protagonists’ relationship is depicted as platonic, one or both of them may be in a relationship with somebody else, usually of the opposite gender. From the story’s treatment of this love interest, temporary or otherwise, it becomes clear which relationship is actually of interest to the protagonist.
The incorrect but common assumption is that a romantic relationship has to be the most important relationship in a person’s life. This is one of the many reasons people mistake platonic relationships for romantic ones, but that is not what I’m talking about here. The thing is, both the narration and the characters themselves should allot this romantic relationship a certain level of importance, even if not primary importance.
An example of this is Sherlock’s constant treatment of Molly’s feelings and his dismissal of John’s (mostly implied) long chain of dates and girlfriends. John doesn’t seem to care much either. Hell, there is a scene where his current girlfriend leaves him because she doesn’t want to compete with Sherlock. How much clearer can you show that their relationship is secondary to what John has with Sherlock, that this woman’s feelings too are secondary, just like those of Molly Hooper?
Molly’s treatment in general is atrocious. An unrequited crush is one thing, but it is a thing one eventually moves on from. Instead of showing Molly getting over Sherlock and eventually entering a healthy relationship, we first see her being used by the queern presenting Jim Moriarty. Her obliviousness of this fact is played for laughs. Then, she tries to impress Sherlock for Christmas, which is presented as her embarrassing herself. The writers follow this up with her engagement to a Sherlock look-alike whose personality she doesn’t even seem to like and the whole “I love you” fiasco in season four.
Irene Adler I already discussed above. She is sexualized and does not seem to care about making Sherlock uncomfortable. But she is attractive and who is not attracted to a beautiful woman, so Sherlock becomes obsessed with her. Although they barely know each other, she too is shown to be in love with Sherlock, who seems to be writing to her again at the end of season four (she was shown to be dying in season two, so there’s probably plot there).
Sherlock’s short relationship and engagement in season three are also treated poorly. First off, everybody is astonished about the fact that Sherlock is with a woman, as if the general consensus was that he wasn’t attracted to them. Then, it is revealed that he only used her for a case which, after a quick laugh, is soon brushed aside by the narrative.
Most recurring female characters are mostly there for Sherlock to antagonize or shout at. The way the narration treats Sally Donovan is poor to say the least, even before she disappeared without comment in season four. While it is clear Sherlock cares for Mrs. Hudson, this should not excuse his poor treatment of her either.
The first woman that is clearly allowed her place as a love interest in the narrative is Mary, John’s wife. Her relationship with John is mostly considered of equal importance to Sherlock’s. I honestly liked her being around, she was a smart woman with an established place in the story and was not just there on the side fetching tea or being helpful when men needed her.
But before the audience could get too used to her presence she gets killed off as soon as her plot function is fulfilled. The aftermath of her death is as much about Sherlock and John’s relationship as it is about her. The show even goes so far as to have her leave a message to her husband claiming that the “Baker’s Street Boys” are the ones that matter. Yeah, so much for that.
Hannibal does quite the opposite. A clear contrast to Sherlock are Hannibal’s relationships with Alana and Bedelia and Will’s relationship with Molly.
Season one gives Will and Alana’s mutual crush a sufficient buildup. Their trust, friendship and care for one another is acknowledged by others and exists independently from both of their dealings with Hannibal. Both are given space and time to be hurt after the kiss and the following decision to not enter a relationship.
Over the late first and the entire second season this trust and friendship dwindles as both of them get more and more entangled in Hannibal’s games. Unfortunately, Alana is usually the voice of reason in all things not Hannibal. This means her opinion is often dismissed in a “We have two conflicting opinions so I’ll pick the one I like better” way, which is eventually regretted by most of the characters in question.
After this, she becomes a more morally grey character. Not wanting to be hurt again and wanting to prevent Hannibal from hurting others, she starts hunting him down and eventually becomes his jailor and probable nemesis. While working for villain Mason Verger, she encounters Margot, his sister and victim. Alana falls in love with Margot, helps her kill Mason, marries her, and they have a son together.
Will’s fling with Margot in season two should also be mentioned, as it is more important to Margot’s arc. How it affects Will is not treated as more relevant than how it affects Margot. Her arc is then continued in season three, apart from Will, and eventually allows her to escape her abusive brother.
Bedilia knows Hannibal’s secrets from her time as his psychiatrist and yet chooses to run away with him. That he uses her is obvious, and she is aware of it. She is content to play Hannibal’s wife and does not initially plan to survive it. However, when it becomes clear that Hannibal would rather be with Will than with her, she cuts herself loose from him to live another day.
When Will marries Molly, he wants to leave it all behind. He rejected Hannibal, who then surrendered to the police and, locked up as he is, has no way of coming into Will’s life again. So Will starts over, he marries a mother, so he has a family, but doesn’t tell her about Hannibal. He only tells her enough so she know who to blame when things inevitably go wrong and her family is targeted by a killer. There is never a clear break-up, just a half-hearted “we will be okay” and the knowledge that their safe place is gone.
All these storylines are given room to breathe, these women have lives and they don’t just give up on their relationships. Whether they dodged a bullet or whether they close their eyes until it’s too late, they are just as much part of the story as Will and Hannibal are, and they are treated as such.
A grievance I do have here are Hannibal’s victims Abbigail Hobbs and Miriam Lass. Abigail in season one has a lovely arc dealing with the things her father did and how she helped him. After Hannibal faked her death in the end of season one, her story is no longer about her, but about what Will and Hannibal. Miriam Lass too is mostly seen in relation to Jack and his guilt. We never see her free herself of Hannibal’s control either. I would have loved seeing them be more of their own persons. Although it makes tonal sense in a way, as Hannibal does not consume their bodies like those other victims. He consumes their stories instead.
With the inclusion of POC, overall Hannibal does okay in this department. Jack Crawford, one of the most important characters in three seasons, is played by Laurence Fishburne, a black man. All three seasons too have a black and an Asian woman in starring or recurring roles.
Beverly Katz is killed by Hannibal in season two. Her death is a shocking twist (not sure if I should add a TM here, though) yet is immensely relevant to further plot and character development. We learn of Bella Crawford’s death early in season three. She had terminal lung cancer since early in season one, so it was not surprising, but still it was a pity to see her die. In season three Will encounters an old acquaintance of Hannibal’s, Chiyoh who lived with Hannibal’s aunt Murasaki as a child. When the plot reaches book material, Francis Dollarhide’s girlfriend Reba is played by Rutina Wesley, so I think there’s a slightly tokenistic feeling seeing one person of color die only for another to appear.
This is, however, still better than Sherlock whose only characters of color, Sally Donovan and John’s unnamed therapist, mysteriously disappear in season four leaving us with an all-white cast. And it’s not because it’s set in London, London is multicultural and diverse.
Overall I am a bit astounded just how much problematic stuff can be found if one goes looking for it. More than that, I’m floored that a show whose main characters are killers and cannibals somehow manages to do better than Sherlock.
Pictures courtesy of BBC and NBC
PSA From South Park: Be More Careful When Tweeting While President
Content warning for the topic of suicide.
Since the airing of Season 20, Trey Parker and Matt Stone hinted at staying away from a certain aspect of political satire. After last season’s serial narrative faced, well, a minor inconvenience if I can be as reductive as possible as far as story-building goes, I think we all felt a bit burnt out. In many ways we can’t find the showrunners at fault. I still had my fair share of laughs last season, but nonetheless Season 20 did suffer from a great amount of narrative fatigue, incongruity, and many other issues that the showrunners are actually pretty open about. After last week’s episode ended (ironically not with a serial “open concept,” but a concrete ending sealed with a hysterical and irreverent lesson about how “as long as the superficial things in our life are in tact, our problems will simply go away”) I was pleasantly surprised and fully on board for this new season.
I know Parker & Stone have made general comments stating they would be focusing less on politics, but really, how can they when seemingly all our current cultural relevance consists of nothing but politics? You can’t just ignore all this insanity happening all over the world no matter how hard you try, and darn it if that’s not the perfect theme for this episode, “Put it Down.”
This week’s issues: North Korea, Phone Addiction and “Suicide at SkeWwl”
We open with Tweek performing a tune to the school about all his fears concerning President Garrison casually instigating a nuclear war with North Korea. Cartman and the boys tell Craig to “get a hold of him because he’s freaking everybody out at skewwwl.” Men aren’t supposed to express themselves emotionally, Craig! Gay or straight, you just have to “sack up,” as they say and stop bothering everyone with those “fears” and “anxieties”. This nicely foreshadows and directly parallels Cartman’s B plot as he himself attempts to freak everybody out at skewl.
You see, Eric Cartman is deep in an emotionally manipulative, abusive relationship. I mean he’s doing the abuse and manipulation of course, and this week he’s having Heidi take him back after a breakup by calling her and threatening to kill himself. Now, do I think kids committing suicide over the pains of youthful heartbreak is funny? Nope. But I sure as hell burst out laughing while the gang played Cartman’s wallowy and fabricated voicemail aloud and called him out for using suicide threats as an emotionally manipulative spectacle.
It would appear Cartmen’s arc this season is going to comment on an entirely different brand of “poisonous boyfriend you hope your friend can escape from.” Cartmen’s Season 20 arc saw him as the overbearing and patronizing boyfriend—idolizing Heidi, fawning over her with compliments and oozing everyone’s favorite brand of bro-feminism until he felt threatened upon realizing that Heidi was a being of her own. When it came to light that Heidi really did possess the potential for all those qualities he had built her up to have, he immediately switched over to the “weiners out” philosophy and convinced himself that yes, women were planning to enslave men on Mars and milk us for our semen. Man, the election results really did mess Season 20’s whole narrative up, huh? But I digress…
Look, obviously South Park isn’t suggesting that anyone who is suffering from suicidal thoughts is just some selfish brat desperate for attention and should be dismissed like Cartmen; quite the contrary. Suicide is just the newest vehicle for Cartmen to channel his sociopathic victimhood complex. Poor Heidi…I don’t see her getting out of this relationship anytime soon.
So Cartmen plans to raise awareness for suicide—not for students that may be experiencing suicidal thoughts and may need outreach—more along the lines of wanting attention so that everyone can pity him and see what a terrible girlfriend Heidi is. To what end he wants to take these threats of suicide, we don’t know for sure, but unfortunately (for him) he has to compete with “distracted driving awareness week” hogging all the attention.
Tweek & Craig Are Still Gay
I can understand when people are insulted with the implications of the whole “Tweek and Craig are gay now because peer pressure,” but what I find fascinating is that if you take this stand-alone episode in a vacuum, you can compare it to so many of the recent depictions of gay men in recent pop-culture and, with a few exceptions, not miss a beat. Sure it’s pretty shallow and insulting to have your only LGBTQ+ couple have come into existence out of a joke, but I think that’s more or less Matt & Trey’s point. South Park has always been about the characters solving problems in the most warped, superficial way possible so they don’t have to deal with real issues.
On a meta/Doylist level, Matt & Trey are two happily straight men who quite honestly wouldn’t know the first thing about the intimate dynamics of a young gay couple, but they see television culture “doing the gay thing” so to speak, and so they “keep up with the times” in the most South Park way they can. Having Tweek and Craig awkwardly refer to one another as “baby” and “honey” is just so bad that it’s good. South Park is very aware that people don’t “choose to be gay for convenience sake,” so what do they do in Season 19? The town tells Tweek and Craig that they are gay in order to parade them around as progressive tokens. They aren’t proud of Tweek and Craig at all, they’re proud of themselves for being so tolerant.
This episode though, despite taking the opportunity to make lowbrow jokes whenever it can, deals with Tweek and Craig’s relationship in a wonderfully honest way. They are defiantly still the same characters that they always were and that’s absolutely the point. They just happen to be gay.
So Craig is doing all he can to help calm Tweek down, who is convinced that the Koreans are coming to kill him after President Garrison puts him on blast for sending them cupcakes.
“I know that kid Tweek, he’s f***ing with you North Korea, get a clue.”
This is a difficult thing for Craig to deal with as he is such an overly calm and awkward individual. He thinks Tweek wants him to solve his problem for him, so he does what most of us might do to slap a band-aide on it: go buy some trendy piece of banal, consumable plastic in the form of a fidget spinner and hope that fixes our sweetheart’s problem. And when that doesn’t work: blame them for being emotional!
“Tweak doesn’t want help, he just wants to overreact.”
Speaking of overreacting, Cartman has now channeled his desperate need for attention into a full-on production.
“My girlfriend is messed up, all I want to do is help her…I’m suffocating, drowning in sorrow, I’m gonna kill myself, probably around 2:30 tomorrow…”
The song he sings is the best kind of cringe-worthy and classic Cartman. His diluted fantasy is of course that he’ll rally the whole school into professing how much they “don’t want him to die,” while at the same time blaming Heidi for driving him to kill himself because of something internally wrong with her.
Put it Down…
Distracted Driving Awareness Week starts to really face some challenges when thing’s start to escalate further between Tweek and North Korea. The self-important citizens of South Park can’t bring themselves to look away from the political carnage being projected onto their phones via Twitter. Even when behind the wheel they can’t seem to detach themselves, and thus start running children over en masse.
When Eric finds out that people are giving more attention to the victims of the distracted drivers rather than paying attention to his empty suicide threats, he interupts their announcement for candlelight vigil to announce a last-ditch pot-luck dinner in his honor. Before he can make a total fool of himself however, Heidi comes to the rescue with her own last ditch effort to talk some sense into Cartman…
“It’s not about problem solving Eric—it’s about people coming together and feeling what they need to feel. People need help sorting out their emotions sometimes, and the best thing isn’t always quick answers but just being there…”
This falls on deaf ears as far as Cartman is concerned, but it was just the thing Craig needed to hear.
I Learned Something Today…
Okay it wasn’t Kyle making a speech, it was Craig who learned something today: that sometimes people in our lives just need to vent, to be heard, to work out their anxieties so they don’t feel so alone. They need to figure out a battle plan and maybe sort out some irrational/not-so-irrational fears. To bounce off some ideas with someone that understands how they are wired. Now that Tweek has someone to really hear him, he can put things in perspective, and can channel his anxious energy into doing some good for the world.
He creates a song to help spread awareness FOR ANY PRESIDENTS OUT THERE THAT MIGHT BE PUTTING OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES AT RISK WITH IRRESPONSIBLE TWEETS TO PLEASE STOP.
Going forward it looks to me as though the old (well, let’s say the Season 18+19) formula of the isolated, but congruent narratives in this absurdist ‘podunk’ town will prevail from here on out. Glad to see that Tweek and Craig are being completely and hilariously normalized, and I hope Hiedi can eventually free herself from the clutches of Cartman’s hysterical narcissism…
From my view, South Park has once again found its footing with this tight-knit, topical episode with plenty of laughs, unexpected character growth, and sentiment to boot. I will be eagerly awaiting to see what’s next!
Images courtesy of Cartoon Network
Teen Wolf Just Gives Up As It Nears The Finale
Teen Wolf brought two episodes at once this week, “Genotype” and “Broken Glass.” They brought us very nearly to the end of the season and so to the whole show. For that purpose, they left quite a lot to be desired.
Scott found a phone on one of the dead bodies in the woods and he‘s convinced that the voicemail on it will lead him to one half of the Anuk-ite. Theo and Mason both very reasonably point out that even if that’s true, they already know about Aaron, so they could just concentrate on him. Scott really should know by now that he should listen to Mason, but instead he splits the party and sends Theo and Mason to look for Aaron while he and Liam look for a mysterious voice on the phone. Right.
Lydia and Malia are in the morgue, standing over the dead hellhound. Lydia decides he‘s not actually dead. She tries to get a vision by lying down next to him or touching him, but neither works.
Mason and Theo wander in the infamous tunnels while having pointless conversation. Meanwhile, Scott and Liam stare at a phone. Finally Liam decides to call, but Scott stops him, pointing out that they should think about what they were going to say. Hmm, perhaps this call was more of a job for Mason, while Scott and Liam, as the two strongest, would be better off wandering the tunnels? Never mind.
Liam calls and Beacon Hills High answers. Liam realizes the woman in the voicemail is one of his teachers. He and Scott go to school and Liam sits in his biology class like nothing happened. He tries to get to his teacher with a sound only supernaturals can hear. When it doesn’t work, he tries to get her with wolfsbane. She notices and tells him to stay after class, supposing he is trying to get back at her for not protecting him from getting beaten up. He tells her he knows she’s a werewolf. She looks at him like he’s crazy. Scott comes in, playing the voicemail.
Lydia has a vision of the Hellhound in Eichen and comes back saying she knows how to save him. She wants to pull out the bullet with MRI (not the most non-invasive method, Lydia), but then realizes there is silver there, which would not get pulled out, but would melt into his brain, killing him. She tries to think of another solution.
Liam and Scott tell the biology teacher her family is dead, and her daughter’s body was taken on by the Anuk-Ite. They ask her to call her daughter, and she gives the phone to Liam instead. He asks what name he should look under, and she says Quinn. AKA, the teenage werewolf who got shot by a deputy.
Theo and Mason are having a nice talk about Theo’s chances of being in Scott’s pack when Theo shifts and they are attacked.
Scott and Liam basically tell the biology teacher they are about to kill her daughter and then are surprised when she knocks them over the head. The teacher, in turn, is surprised when the daughter she’s been warned about being turned into a monster has, in fact, been turned into a monster.
Lydia and Malia decide to risk the hellhound’s life because Malia reasons that his past actions show this is what he would have wanted. They manage to bring him back to life briefly, but he does have silver poisoning. Also, it seems it is not what he would have wanted after all.
Mason is injured after Aaron attacked. Theo tries to take his pain, but he doesn’t care enough for it to work, so he fights Aaron instead. Mason tries to stop him, telling him that is what Aaron wants. Apparently his wounds appear on the Akun-Ite’s other half, too, making it an easy identifier. Or maybe it was about feeling the pain? It’s never truly explained.
Scott sends Liam to fight one half of the Anuk-Ite alone as he stays with Quinn’s mother. I just…no, I won’t even comment on that. He tries to convince the teacher to shift and trigger her healing. She does, at length, showing she is an alpha. One question: how?
The dying hellhound wastes a lot of time telling us what we already know, that combined two halves of the Anuk-Ite are dangerous. He does not tell the girls what they asked, namely how he trapped the demon when he did, a hundred years ago. He does tell them that it can kill with a look when both halves are connected, though, so we know they will in fact connect.
That is demonstrated in the very next scene, where they do. Liam’s attempt to stop it is entirely ineffective. Malia is just in time to save him from the death glare. The hunters who came to school don’t have a Malia, though, and are turned into stone. Then the pack muses about how it needs to learn to fight blind from Deucalion, Malia has Sex with Scott and Gerard makes a deal with the Anuk-Ite to kill Scott, because of course he does. That’s when the first aired episode ends.
The next one starts with Chris interrogating a guy in Brasil. There was a mass murder of werewolves and Derek apparently started to investigate by beating people up and asking them questions. He found that Gerard wants him, and doesn’t care about the others. There’s a message saying “Beacon Hills” on the wall of the crime scene. We also see Derek drive a nice sports car, which is frankly something I missed on this show.
After the opening credits, we see Tamora giving an educational lecture to her young hunters about werewolves, demonstrating on Ethan, still tortured by electricity as she sticks an arrow into him. She then offers her teenage army weapons. Ethan is carried away, desperate for Jackson, which bleeds over into Lydia’s vision.
Nolan contacts Liam and promises to give him information. He takes him to the hospital, where he shows him that ordinary people are involved with Tamora’s movement and also that three people have been brought to the hospital last night and hooked up on wolfsbane.
The Sheriff declares he will stand by his friends. He meets with Parrish, who tells him Tamora is pulling police reports to find out who is supernatural. He then goes to answer a call to all units, even though Tamora and company know he is supernatural, because reasons.
Lydia can¨t reach Scott on the phone, so she goes to his house, where she meets Peter looking for Malia. They realize communication is being cut off by Gerard, who has apparently truly gained omnipotence now.
Chris manages to find Derek. Derek has poison Gerard needs to kill Scott, who has apparently leveled up with Gerard and can only be killed by a unique artifact now, but just as he is about to destroy it, Kate appears and takes it from him.
Malia and Scott have an entirely pointless conversation with Deucalion about him teaching them how to fight blind. We get a training montage.
Lydia admits to Peter that she saw him turned to stone in a vision, and many others alongside him. She describes the place and Peter realizes he knows where it is.
Kate takes the poison and tells them its purpose is to kill Scott. Derek heads towards Beacon Hill to warn Scott, leaving Chris behind for reasons.
Lydia and Peter arrive at Deucalion’s training location to warn them that Tamora is coming with heavy firepower, because this is apparently news. Just then, Tamora herself conveniently arrives and one of her lackeys shoots Deucalion before the proper heavy fire starts. The episode closes with Tamora firing a shot.
I am seriously so tired of this season by now; I could not be more grateful there is only one episode left. The writing in these two episodes was exceptionally bad even by this season’s standards. So much overwrought dialogue and pointless posturing that is out of character or just simply unnecessary. Nothing is established properly any more, nothing makes sense, no repercussions of any kind are felt, no internal logic is followed. I would enumerate all of the cases where this is true, but it would take up too much space.
That said, here are some especially glaring examples:
One half of Anuk-Ite took down Liam with one punch, and yet we are supposed to believe that its two halves together are no match for Scott in a direct fight? Scott, whom we saw getting beaten by Liam before, not to mention lots of other relatively low-level villains. I’m getting some mixed signals here. Is Scott super powerful, or is he mostly a regular werewolf?
The problem, of course, is that a demonic monster of the sort Anuk-Ite was built up to be doesn’t make deals. It doesn’t make sense, narrative wise, why it should even talk to Gerard at all. But the show -runners wanted a cool monster, and they wanted Gérard back for the final season, and didn’t think much about how those two things would together.
Kate—another villain they wanted to bring back—randomly appearing to torture Derek (who was apparently only brought back for that purpose) is also ineffective. If she had to come back, could we at least finally give some proper gravitas to her rape of Derek all those years ago? No? Joking about it again? All right then.
Well, no, not all right, but it’s not like I expect any better at this point.
Speaking of things that did not work, Tamora, despite her best efforts, absolutely failed to get people into the proper state of mind for genocide. It’s strange, because she is a great actress. Part of it was the absolutely abysmal acting of the extras in the scene, but even disregarding that, her speech was simply not rousing. The show made the comparison to Kristallnacht (and let me reiterate how tasteful it is to put a woman of color at the head of a movement you explicitly associate with the Nazis), so perhaps they should have taken a look at Hitler’s speeches. The way it was shot, Tamora would not have them worked up to anything beyond mild enthusiasm.
Out of the many logical fallacies of this episode, let me mention only Scott and Malia training with Deucalion. At the very least Liam, one of the pack’s front-line fighters, should have been there. But no. He had other things to do, specifically a very contrived trip to the hospital.
Then the ante is supposed to be upped by Deucalion’s death, but it just makes me tired. Deucalion is the most powerful Alpha that ever lived, so of course he will just be taken down by a random lackey and his automatic rifle. Neither Gerard nor Scott, two apparently omnipotent creatures now, couldn’t kill him, but a random lackey does it just fine. A pity Gerard didn’t know this sooner.
I could go on and on. I’m trying to think of a scene I actually enjoyed and felt it made sense. Lydia’s conversation with Peter, perhaps? Their meeting was also weirdly contrived, just like most of this episode, but I enjoyed having two smart people on the talking to each other onscreen.
The rest was a disaster, though, and I really, really hope the last episode improves the balance at least a little.
All images courtesy of MTV.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Should Let Rosa Date Gina
Google most non-canon LGBT ships, and you get results for various fanfiction sites, maybe an article or two about why they should be canon, why the show is clearly missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Google Rosa/Gina—dubbed Dianetti—and you get tweets from the two actresses involved.
Finally the truth is out
— Stephanie Beatriz (@iamstephbeatz) September 4, 2017
Though media has made huge strides in the past decade or so with LGBT relationships, there is still a lot to be done. Queerbaiting remains common, as does the bury your gays trope. Relationships—especially wlw ones—are still seen as less valid, less possible, than their straight counterparts; this is in part due to many writers, actors, and showrunners continuing to tease of F/F relationships. By creating a dynamic where two women are clearly not just friends (and, of course, never making that dynamic explicitly romantic either), they get the best of both worlds: LGBT viewers who crave representation with none of the potential backlash for so-called political correctness.
The Beauty of B99
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, however, has never fallen into that trap. Holt and Kevin may be the subject of many jokes, but they are never the butt of any. Similarly, topics like racial profiling and police corruption are taken seriously. It is a comedy show, but it is also a show that recognizes the power of its platform. Where another show would tease these topics and turn them into a punchline, Brooklyn Nine-Nine turns them into a discussion.
So, of every show on television, I know that Brooklyn Nine-Nine would treat Rosa and Gina well. That is an important part of the discussion that is oft forgotten: representation does not end when it begins. Instead, it is an ongoing process, most successful when the writers and showrunners make continued efforts to deepen and better their characters and relationships. When we ask for representation, we are asking for a commitment: at the very minimum, do not kill them. Because that is still often too much to ask, we never get to the next step: do not cheapen them, do not forget them. Do not let them be a checked box on a list of things a show needs to have.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has proven they can do it. So why don’t they?
The Case For Dianetti
Over the past four seasons, we have seen Gina and Rosa flit in and out of various relationships. All the while, however, they have been there for each other.
Rosa is closed-off, awkward whenever the slightest hint of emotions are involved; Gina, on the other hand, is as open a book as she could possibly be. In the same way that Jake and Amy build on each other and make each other grow, Rosa and Gina could do the same.
In the past, the show has paired Rosa with men who are too different or too similar. Marcus was very openly emotional, and while the importance of having such a character cannot be understated, he was not right for Rosa. Adrien, then, had the opposite problem: he and Rosa never truly get to know each other during their relationship because both were content being unattached in that way.
Enter Gina. She is the perfect option, the perfect mix of emotional and independent; she is the one who can make Rosa consistently smile, the one who isn’t semi-scared of her at all times.
There are not many women on television that are like Rosa, and to give her a chance to find true, lasting love would be very valuable to many viewers. Having her and Gina both go through several unsuccessful relationships is good—it’s realistic and done well. But just as Jake and Amy found each other, just as Kevin and Holt found each other, I would like to see Rosa and Gina do the same.
In a world where F/F ships are punchlines to jokes that weren’t funny the first time, it is a rare and very special thing to see such an opportunity supported by both actresses involved. We have the support, and we have the chance; all that remains is for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to take the leap.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine consistently surprises me with the topics they are willing to tackle and the grace with which they do so. So, as it returns this month for its fifth season, I hope that they will tackle Rosa/Gina next.