Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 14, “Homecoming”
Get ready for complicated Danvers family dynamics, because the appropriately titled “Homecoming” has plenty. So many feels. This might be our favorite Danvers family dinner scene, up to Mon El’s terrible case of foot-in-mouth disease of course. Just give us a happy Danvers family! So get ready, you might need some tissue.
Mon El wakes up alone in Kara’s bed. She flies in with coffee, which Mon El drinks, and flowers, which he discards in a lampshade. He tries to get her to play hooky from her 3 jobs helping people. She asks him not to tell anyone at the DEO they’re dating because she doesn’t want them in her personal life right now. Mon El decides this means it’s okay to tell everyone they’re dating. J’onn tells them to go to HR to fill out paperwork because they’re now dating a coworker (We love him).
Winn learns of a DEO convoy that J’onn and Kara take out. They find Jeremiah inside. Mon El is suspicious about the timing and encourages caution. Jeremiah agrees and says Cadmus has a bomb created by the heat vision they ‘mined’ from Supergirl they plan on using to take out the alien population in National City.
Jeremiah advises Winn to track Kara’s heat vision signature to find the bomb. Eliza comes to the DEO; cue heartfelt Danvers family reunion! Mon El tells Kara not to trust Jeremiah because he lived with Cadmus for so long and may be a traitor. Kara chooses to see the best in Jeremiah. She invites Mon El to family dinner so he can get to know Jeremiah. Alex introduces Jeremiah to Maggie, and he’s super chill and sweet. J’onn and Mon El join them to make the circle (mostly) complete, but for James and Winn. Jeremiah asks to join the DEO to take out Cadmus. Mon El questions Jeremiah at dinner. Kara pulls him aside to confront him; he acts like a jerk, so Kara tells him to leave. Jeremiah gently threatens Mon El by telling him that he knows who Mon El is and Kara won’t like it.
Mon El invites Winn for a drink so get him on his side about Jeremiah. Winn agrees to help but only if Mon El is a decent person to Kara. Lyra joins them and gets all cuddly with Winn (it’s cute). J’onn gives Jeremiah a tour of the DEO and leaves him in the medical bay alone; Winn sees Jeremiah breaking into the DEO mainframe. He and Mon El tell Kara, who confronts him. Jeremiah explains he was looking at case files for the past 24 months to see what Kara and Alex had been doing. He apologizes, and Winn confirms that’s what he was doing. Alex gets mad at the trio. Kara tells Alex she wants to look at all sides. Alex blames Kara’s suspicion on Mon El and being in the ‘honeymoon phase’. Alex says Kara ought to trust Jeremiah if she’s one of the family.
Mon El interrupts Lyra teaching Winn to play darts to ask him for relationship advice. Winn urges him to listen to and respect Kara. News that they’ve tracked the bomb interrupts them. The Danvers sisters lead the tactical team but find an empty warehouse. In the DEO, J’onn confronts Jeremiah, who attacks him after trying to hack the DEO. Suddenly Jeremiah has a bionic arm (?). He knocks J’onn out, shoots up the computer he stole files from, and leaves. Thankfully, Winn hid a tracker on Jeremiah and the Danvers sisters interrupt the villain meet up in the woods. Cyborg Superman blows up a bridge, to occupy Kara. Alex chooses to chase down Jeremiah. Kara saves the train. Alex confronts her dad, who says he did it for her. He says she’s going to have to shoot him. Instead of giving him a nonfatal injury she lets him go.
Winn goes to find out what Jeremiah stole. Everyone in the Danvers family is justifiably hurt and disappointed. Alex is drinking and Maggie comes by and consoles her. Kara has a blanket burrow when Mon El comes by to ‘not talk’, and he actually listens to her for once. Winn calls to tell Kara that Jeremiah stole the DEO’s alien registry (wait…when did this exist?). Lillian and Jeremiah stare at…something scary that is probably designed to wipe out aliens. Jeremiah tells Lillian they had a ‘deal’.
Best Quote: “I love you and I’ve missed you every day, but I don’t know you anymore. And you don’t know me. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere, but this is going to have to be something new. I think we’re just going to have to learn each other again.”—Eliza Danvers
Thoughts & Feelings
So, the Danvers family. We have so many feelings. This episode struck a good tonal balance for the reunion. The Danvers women exhibited a full range of emotions from shock, to joy, to caution, and all of them fit the context. Dean Cain, on the other hand, does not emote much at all. We’re underwhelmed by his performance this episode. The Danvers ladies dance circles around him pathos-wise.
We love how this episode handled the ‘long lost family member arc’, especially compared to others we’ve seen. It didn’t gloss over how hard it would be to integrate a family member back after a decade. Eliza flat out rejects the feasibility of Jeremiah’s desire to make up for lost time. She understands that mentality doesn’t work. Her desire to start something new with Jeremiah, to relearn each other and their relationship struck us with it’s honesty. It’s not the most optimistic or celebratory story, but it’s real. And that’s what we love about Supergirl: when the writing is good, it’s very, very good.
Like J’onn. Oh god, Space Dad. That level of anger from him at Jeremiah’s betrayal was fighting White Martian levels. Like…the one person to accept him for who he was, who also saved him from Real!Hank, betrayed him. And he’s not just angry for himself. J’onn went out of his way to explain to Jeremiah what Alex and Kara mean to him, how they helped him become a better person and fight for justice instead of hiding who he was. Jeremiah didn’t just betray J’onn, he betrayed Kara and Alex. No way Space Dad will stand for that. The hurt and anger in J’onn on his daughters’ behalf hurts so good.
Plus, that Danvers family dinner was probably the sweetest Danvers dinner we’ve ever seen. We would have liked to see Winn and James there, both characters who have been a part of other Danvers family dinners in the past. Jeremiah would probably love to meet two of Kara’s friends who have been with her and Alex through the worst parts of the past couple years. Still, the undercurrent of genuine happiness throughout that whole scene only made Jeremiah’s inevitable betrayal (admit it, there was no way it wasn’t coming) hurt that much more. We have bruises on our sternum from that kick to the chest.
Of course, Mon El sticking his foot in his mouth ruined the mood. Every Danvers family dinner has to have a dose of awkward and/or uncomfortable after all. It might have been marginally funny if it weren’t both rude to the whole family and disrespectful to Kara. She’d just finished reprimanding him, demanding he ‘say something nice’ (which she shouldn’t have to do). She flat out asked him not to bring it up at dinner, but to spend time instead getting to know Jeremiah. As has been his pattern this whole season, he ignored her wishes and spoke anyway. And did so in such a way that he sounded jealous of Jeremiah’s privilege instead of concerned for the DEO.
Like we keep saying, if this were the first instance of Mon El ignoring Kara’s wishes or disrespecting her, we might be content with an “I’m sorry” and “I’ll do better next time”. But this is a pattern, a pattern that stretches all the way back to “Crossfire”, 9 episodes ago. It’s a pattern within this episode! He’d been disrespecting her since they got up. We suppose him wanting to wake up next to Kara is cute, but she has three jobs. All of which are saving people. And he doesn’t so much as ask her as blurt an entitled expectation. Ought she to feel guilty that she’s out saving people instead of lying in bed? And what is this “as long as your superheroing is done for the day” business? All we got from this supposedly romantic scene was that he has zero respect for her desire to save people.
After dismissing her gesture of romance out of hand, he flat out ignored her reasonable and meticulously explained request to keep their relationship secret. No matter how ‘cute’ they try to frame his lack of respect or how ‘culturally conditioned’ he is to throw parties when people hook up, He. Still. Can’t. Listen. Mon El’s failure to respect her wishes at dinner is less of a surprise than an expectation at this point. It’s really not funny anymore, or healthy. We’re tired of the message, intentional or not, that women are responsible for coaching disrespectful and clueless males into becoming suitable romantic partners.
A big part of the problem is pacing, which has been atrocious. They’ve failed to show any significant character growth for Mon El over 9 episodes. Every time he seems to take a step forward, he takes another one (or two) backward. Him getting actual character development now feels like too little, too late. The damage has been done in terms of investment and believability. Even if he has a great arc moving forward, we will have a hard time buying or wanting it. And that won’t stop us from criticizing what we’ve seen on screen thus far. Mon El finally learning how to listen to Kara and respect her ought to have happened before they started dating, not after he insulted her to her face and in front of the DEO last episode. And then spent another entire day acting the same way.
What makes it worse is that Winn was the one to finally make it all click. Frustrated that Kara yelled at him and sent him away, Mon El makes a totally justifiable decision to get advice from Winn, one of Kara’s dearest friends. Winn proves why we love him now by telling Mon El to let Kara protect and show off herself; she does a mighty good job of it just being Kara. Mon El’s response—“then what’s left for me”—reflects the persistence of Mon El’s paternalistic and stereotypically gendered approach to dating Kara. He’s the man, he should be the one protecting her, showing her off, bringing flowers, and he resents when he cannot fill that role. It also solidifies Gretchen’s (and Kylie’s) impression that Mon El shares similar character traits with Mako from Legend of Korra.
Anyway, Winn once again gives Mon El good advice to ask Kara what she wants from him and then listen and follow through. Great job, Winn! You’re a decent guy and we like you a lot. We can tell Lyra is pleased with you, too (you lucky boy). What bothers us about this is that Winn tells Mon El all the things Kara has been telling Mon El to do. The writers most likely meant this as a “Mon El finally figures it out” moment, which isn’t bad in itself (apart from occurring way later than it should have). But if Winn basically repeats what Kara herself has said to Mon El (multiple times and in multiple episodes, we might add), what’s different this time? Winn. The implication, intentional or not, is that this time, the message sticks because a man tells Mon El how to act, not Kara herself, a woman.
And his ‘progress’ is still minimal. Mon El has a palpable need for reassurance at every tiny step forward in the final scene supposedly showcasing him ‘comforting’ Kara. She still needs to coach him, and he still make it about himself. It comes across as ‘look at me being nice and listening to you!’, especially given how it was preceded with Maggie’s instinctive and effortless consolation of Alex. We’re beginning to wonder if showing these two alongside each other is meant to make Mon El look worse somehow.
The situation with Mon El reflects oddly on Kara’s character development. She’s had the exact same argument with Mon El now that she had with him almost two months ago. Even if he makes a change for the better now, the fact that she put up with this behavior for so long reflects poorly on her. She continues to take back and believe in a person who repeatedly lies, disrespects her, and does not acknowledge her agency. It’s great she stands up for herself when he acts that way. Yes! Yay! Set those boundaries! Her dialogue is well-written, and we love it. And, she has continued to date him despite the persistence of issues she has been upset with him about most of the season. That he repeatedly apologize for, promises to change about, and then never does.
She ends up coming off as wishy-washy, precisely because she keeps taking him back. Every time she lets him treat her that way, even when he apologizes and promises to change, she looks a little bit weaker. Her arguments fall a little bit flatter the inevitable next time she has to have them. And what guarantee do we have that this time will stick when no other time will? The main basis for their relationship thus far has been the tension and chemistry derived from their disagreements. We’re not sure we have faith that the writers won’t fall back on more Mon El asshole behavior to ‘spice things up’. Though maybe the upcoming Mon El prince of Daxam reveal will take the place of that.
One other point, Mon El being right in the end underhandedly justifies him being an asshole to Kara and her family. It’s okay that he acted that way, because he was right. Kara should have listened to him. He has good instincts, but is not a healthy emotional support for his girlfriend (*cough* Makorra). Yet, he knows how to have a non-dickish conversation about it, just look at the scene with Winn. Mon El made sense, was calm, and didn’t devolve into insulting behavior or being disrespectful. Is it really just impossible for him to be gracious to Kara when they talk? Intentional or not, what we’re getting here is that he has more respect for Winn’s advice and intelligence than he has for Kara.
All of these factors combine to make the romance between Kara and Mon El deeply frustrating to watch. Kara repeatedly having to spell out boundaries only to have them ignored again and again is not enjoyable content. If Kara were our friend in real life, we’d sit her down for an intervention: spell it out for him, lay out the consequences, and stick to them. He isn’t going to learn anything without consequences, clearly.
Another reason to dislike all this drama with Mon El is that it’s throwing more weight on the already strained relationship between Alex and Kara. We’re still pretty damn irritated that the writers had Alex tell Kara to go for it with Mon El, especially since Alex has witnessed most of his less-than-stellar behavior or has surely heard it from Kara. But Kara and Alex’s friendship hasn’t exactly been seaworthy this season. They have a big ol’ wedge between them that has just been simmering in the background for 12 episodes, and precious little attention has been paid to it.
We are glad that this conflict took a backseat when Alex was figuring out her feelings for Maggie. That was lovely, and required. But we’re approaching the back-end of the season and we still haven’t even really started to address Kara’s abandonment issues, which are clearly clouding her better judgment when it comes to Mon El. This has been a huge undercurrent through the entire season, but they’ve yet to do something of real substance with it. Time’s a’wasting, Supergirl. You are running out of time to wrap up this arc, if you intend to address it at all.
Alex has some issues simmering on the backburner as well. We’ve mentioned it in passing a few times, but it’s getting to the point that Alex’s drinking habits are really worrisome. Hats off to Chyler Leigh for nailing the portrayal, especially considering her personal connections to the subject matter. It feels like Leigh has a specific reason she’s portraying Alex this way.
Last season we had an explicit flashback to when J’onn saved Alex from a DUI by recruiting her to the DEO. This season, we have had a lot of shots of Alex working her way through a bottle of hard liquor by herself. She was absolutely hammered at Thanksgiving, and eagle-eyed viewers will notice that she stole the whiskey out of Kara’s freezer when nobody but the camera was looking. That’s in addition to all the wine she coiffed at dinner. And the beer Kara took away. She’s almost always got some form of alcohol in her hand unless she’s at work, and this episode she jumped up real quick when Jeremiah offered to make drinks.
At the end of tonight’s episode, Alex is once again wobbling her way through a bottle of hard liquor, alone. We don’t really know if she invited Maggie over or if Maggie just stopped by (we do know the Danvers sisters need to lock their damn doors, please!). We loved Maggie’s reaction. Her stopping Alex felt like a subtle way of displaying that Maggie understands it’s a maladaptive coping mechanism. She tries to get her to talk instead of drinking, and when that fails, she goes for full-on soothing nicknames and hugs. We take full offense that this was juxtaposed the scene with Kara and Mon El. These two situations were not even remotely analogous because Maggie doesn’t need Winn to tell her to listen to her girlfriend. She gets it.
Anyway. Back to Alex’s drinking. It has us worried because this is a deliberate acting choice on Leigh’s behalf, and likely a directional choice as well. If they are building up to something with this, we’re finding ourselves checking our watches. Once again, time’s a’wasting, Supergirl. You can’t just leave this hanging around in the open and not do anything with it.
Not that we want a PSA about alcohol. Considering how badly Arrow managed to flub a Very Special Episode on the same subject matter, we can understand the writers’ hesitance to commit to this as a canon plot. But you can’t deny it’s all there. Alex checks off an alarming number of the warning signs for alcoholism, and we are really hoping that the writers aren’t just going to let this float around in the background like it’s no big deal. This is a very big deal. This is something that honestly should have been inching its way into the plot five or six episodes ago. We want to believe this is actually going to go somewhere, but with the pacing being so horrendous all-around this season, we would put even money on it never being addressed at all due to time constraints.
Alex’s scripting in season 2B is really just one more example of a larger problem. The show has way too many balls in the air, and it’s dropping them all over the place now. Whether or not you are interested in the Mon El plot/romance (we obviously are not), you must admit it is a tight fit in a season that was already bursting at the seams with plots. We have the Alien Amnesty Act (we’ll get to that one in a little bit), the Guardian plot, the Cadmus plot, the Luthors Legacy plot, the Sanvers coming out plot, etc. etc. etc.
We’ve wasted 9 episodes of the season on Mon El that could have gone to fleshing out any of the other plots we already have going with previously established characters. We got M’gann for what felt like 30 seconds at best, who would have been an infinitely better use of this time than Mon El’s undeserved redemption arc. James’ Guardian arc could also have been smoothed out with more screentime, a plot that we very much wanted to work better than it did.
Look, we don’t actually know who’s fault it is that Mon El is such an attention hog, or why he was written this way in the first place. It’s probably not the network, because to be perfectly blunt this kind of writing is pretty typical of the other DCTV shows. He’s not the devil, he’s just a douchebag. In fact, he’s not even that atrocious of a douchebag, it just stands out more because of the type of show Supergirl used to be. It’s not that Kara isn’t allowed to have a love interest, but… you know. She had one. One that was much better than this.
We’re tired of him because he’s flipping boring, to put it simply. He’s boring and he’s stealing screentime from the half-dozen other plots that are much more worth exploring. We’re trying to be as professional and diplomatic as possible about this, but it’s kinda hard because he’s just… nothing. He has the substance of whitebread and holds up about as well under pressure. Elizabeth is still holding out hope he’s going to die heroically, but she will accept a demotion to tertiary character. Just fix this awful narrative detour and don’t make the same mistake next season, Supergirl writers, alright?
- Two episodes in a row without James 🙁
- Mon El’s “What a gentlemen” line was kind of weird. It almost felt like an underhanded insult.
- Seeing J’onn J’onzz fight as a Green Martian is so badass. We love him phasing through things
- I dig the fancy thumb drive they used, even if it I’m not sure it would work.
- We kind of knew that Mon El’s dad, the king of Daxam, would be a bad dude since he’s played by Kevin Sorbo.
- Why did Jeremiah’s bionic arm not show up on scans? Alex says something about nerve damage being extensive, but that begs the question of how they didn’t notice the big metal shafts in his arm while poking his nerves to assess the damage? We headcanon that it gives off fake X-rays.
- We have so many feelings about the casual way that Eliza calls Maggie “sweetie”.
- “There’s no man on earth good enough for Alex Danvers, so it would have to be someone like you.” Squeee! What a good dad.
- We also love how Maggie flatters herself when she says “Alex deserves the best”.
- I will never understand the “you’ll have to shoot me” false dilemma. Just shoot him in the kneecap, Kara will be back soon. That’s all you need to do. To be fair, Alex is still using that badass Noisy Cricket-esque gun she nabbed from the Slaver Planet, so a single shot would easily take off a limb. But she’s got to have a regular sidearm, right?
- Props for Dean Cain threatening Mon El. And Winn. Geez, this many people telling Mon El to be decent to Kara ought to say something about how unhealthy that relationship is. Everyone sees you jerkface!
- Whoever chooses Kara’s wardrobe keeps putting her in very…um…queer coded outfits.
- That railroad scene…*swoon*. We love seeing Kara be strong. It had an Atlas-like feel to it with the railroad tie on her shoulder.
- Oh, and we adore Winn/Lyra.
Pacing issues galore. We’re a bit confused by the existence of the National Alien registry. The last time this came up on the show was in Episode 3, where one of the villains opposed alien amnesty on the grounds that it would result in registration. So now this registry actually exists. And zero waves or fuss has been made by any of our characters. Which is, quite frankly, bullshit. No way Kara, J’onn, M’gann, Alex, or James would not notice this being put into place, much less store that list in the DEO. And do so without argument. We’re scratching our heads at how we’re meant to swallow such a huge jump forward in a plot we haven’t seen mentioned since Episode 3.
There ought to have been multiple and heated discussions regarding the ethics of an alien registry. In our Episode 3 review, we were hoping to have a full fledged discussion about that, given its similarity to the plot of the Marvel film Captain America: Civil War and the comic event the film was based on. We expected Supergirl to tackle the concept of creating an alien registry with greater depth and sensitivity, not fast forward to it’s existence to be used as a minor detail in service to a greater plot point. It ought to have been the plot point for most of this season, not a footnote.
And that has us thinking: what actually have we gotten out of the intervening episodes? We’re not saying cut everything. We got some great emotional beats and some lovely character growth. We wouldn’t lose the Martian healing arc for the world, or Sanvers. But, much of the Mon El and Guardian arcs from the past 11 episodes could have been cut, which would have made greater space to explore the social implications and complexities of xenophobia and alien refugees as Kara and the DEO took on Cadmus. Kara’s work with the DEO could have dovetailed with her and James at CatCo leading the media charge for truth and defending alien amnesty. Although they might have been able to fit the Guardian in this season, it really should have been saved for S3 James, as a CatCo arc for both him and Kara would have fit much better.
It all comes down to pacing. The pacing of the main conflict with Cadmus is as uneven and inconsistent as Mon El’s ‘growth’ arc. We have 8 episodes left in the season to deal with an arc that ought to take at least 12-15 to handle well. They just might be able to squeeze it in with what we have left, but the Cadmus anti-alien story really ought to have more room to breathe given its socio-cultural relevance in American society.
The show had a very excellent opportunity to be topical with its themes this season, and even we must admit they couldn’t have possibly dropped the ball harder on this. We’re currently living in a terrifying dystopian reality where travel bans are real, ICE is going AWOL, and a registration list for Muslims is starting to seem like an inevitability instead of a nightmare. The 3A plot for Supergirl is filled with narrative analogs for immigration and the immigrant experience in the US. This is such a slow pitch, Supergirl, why aren’t you swinging at it?
Sophomore seasons for television shows are often a bumpy ride. In addition to being a season 2 show, Supergirl also had to adjust to a network shift. We understand the logic behind a lot of the missteps this season, but we really want to see some concentrated effort on fixing these missteps going forward. If we must be stuck with Mon El, stop telling us he’s going to get better and actually make him get better. Of his own volition, preferably, though we suppose that would be arguably out of character for him at this point. We also need to take some pruning shears to the B plots in the future. It’s okay to save things for later seasons, guys. We would prefer it, actually.
Tune in next week for Alex being a badass, more complicated Danvers family dynamics, and Cadmus kidnapping aliens!
Images Courtesy of The CW
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.
Images courtesy of Fox
The Neighbors from Hell
This week’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult opens with a blonde woman, Rosie, speaking with Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) about how thanks to him she’s overcome her fear of being trapped in dark places. (Sidebar: why is Ally the only important woman without white/blonde hair in this show?) When Rosie and her husband Mark, return home, however, they are accosted by clowns and nailed into coffins. Rosie’s worst nightmare that she admitted to Dr. Vincent. It makes you wonder if the Doctor is part of the cult. Hmm…
Switching up the timeline of things (again), we return to where we left off after last week’s episode; the Mayfair-Richards household following Ally’s (Sarah Paulson) gun play. Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) assures Ally that he doesn’t think charges will be pressed because the murder of Pedro was in self defense. Though Ivy (Allison Pill) knows it was accidental and not self defense, she agrees with the Detective and the power finally returns.
The next day, protestors gather outside the Butchery on Main, branding Ally as the “lesbian George Zimmerman,” and the news is there to broadcast the protest. Unable to show her face, Ally is forced to stay in the car while Ivy goes to work. Before Ally can go home, however, she is confronted by Kai (Evan Peters) who calls her brave. He tells her to never apologize and that he’ll take care of the mob for her. When Ally does arrive home, she receives a very different greeting from Meadow (Leslie Grossman) and Harrison (Billy Eichner). The couple, dressed in sombreros, condemn the accidental murder and accuse her of being a racist.
Ally and Ivy are unable to avoid the news of the protestors on television. The news finally moves on to announce the deaths of Rosie and Mark, who were found in coffins in their home with a smiley face symbol painted above them. The same symbol that was found on the Changs’s house.
Things turn to the strange (or stranger, anyway), the next day when Ivy and Ally find dozens of dead crows in their yard. It gets stranger yet when Winter accidentally lets an unknown man into the house. The man was responding to an ad on Craigslist that listed lesbians looking for pleasure from a man.
During a phone session, Dr. Vincent talks to Ally about the Craigslist ad. It’s in this scene that we get our first election reference of the episode, a record few this time. Dr. Vincent suggests Ally file a police report then asks for an emergency meeting to talk about an inpatient facility. Ally (obviously) disagrees with the doctor’s assessment and ends the call. When she reaches town, protestors accost her car, but with a single word Kai is able to get them to leave.
Returning home, Ally and Ivy find Oz and Winter playing with a guinea pig with a cisnormative name. They learn that the animal was a gift from Meadow. When Ally tells him that he cannot keep the pet, Oz lashes out and says that he wishes Ally wasn’t around. Ally then calls Harrison who is sitting with Meadow and Detective Samuels. Harrison states that he likes Oz but not Ally, and that Oz needs testosterone in the house. Angry, when Ally sees a truck spraying green mist, she chases the truck down to no avail.
Elsewhere, Meadow and Kai play the pinky game. When asked for her greatest fears, Meadow offers a superficial fear that Kai slaps her for. This is a revolution and he doesn’t want his time wasted. Kai calls her out as being afraid of never really being loved.
In a rare moment of levity and normalcy, the Mayfair-Richards family having a nice family dinner at the Butchery on Main. Oz apologizes for lashing out at Ally, and she decides to let Oz keep Mr. Guinea. When they arrive home, however, what was a good night takes a turn. smiley face is painted on the door, and Mr. Guinea blows up in the microwave.
Ally crosses the street and enters the neighbors house where she assaults Harrison. She accuses the couple of being responsible for all the wrong that has been done to them, but Meadow is genuinely scared when she hears about the smiley face. Ally escalates matters and threatens to kill them before leaving. Ivy finally reaches her breaking point with Ally, calling her out on her absurd reactions, when Oz points out that the same smiley face is on the side of the Wilton’s house. Instead of warning the couple, however, Ivy and Oz return home. Ally follows behind, only to find mysterious people spraying a green substance on her lawn. When she tries to reveal their faces, she finds smiley faces in the place of where real faces should be.
Meadow is not the only Wilton to play the pinky game with Kai. This time, Harrison plays, and does a better job telling the truth to Kai than his wife. He admits that he wishes Meadow were dead.
When Detective Samuels calls on the Mayfair-Richards home, Ally talks to him with crazy eyes about her conspiracy theory. She’s finally the one that seems to be making some sense and no one is listening. It makes her look even crazier to have make-up smeared down her face.
The conversation is halted by Oz’s scream. His mothers immediately head upstairs to find him closing his laptop. He admits that he got past Ivy’s parental controls as he saw her type in the password once, “Clownz”. Sorry Ivy, but you’re starting to look pretty suspicious here. Ivy and Ally finally convince Oz to reveal what’s on the computer. It is a video of Ally in the bath getting fingered by Winter. Whomp, there it is.
Ivy wastes no time retaliating once they bring their conversation to the hallway and punches Ally in the face. She starts yelling about Ally breaking their family, while Ally seems hung up on the fact that someone planted a camera in their bathroom. Both valid points.
Not willing to stay in the same house as her cheating wife, Ivy prepares Oz to leave with her. Just as they are about to leave, however, police arrive across the street. They exit the house to find Harrison is freaking out and upon seeing her, accuses Ally of murdering Meadow. He woke up covered in Meadow’s blood, Meadow nowhere to be found. While the adults were arguing, Oz returns to the house. His mothers run after him to find him staring at the walls. Walls that are now covered in blood with a bloody smiley symbol on the living room wall.
At this point, it seems as if the cult behind all the murders and strange happenings in this small Michigan town is larger than expected. In fact, it seems almost as if Ally and Oz are the only ones that aren’t part of the cult. With Meadow and Harrison both deferring to Kai, it appears that the blue-haired man might be one of the ring leaders. But then again, there’s also Dr. Vincent and Ivy to think about. Where do they fit? Are they secretly behind it all? And if Ivy is involved, what is it about Ally that makes her want to torture her so much?
With more questions raised in this episode, such as the questionable green substance, it’s easy to wonder where this cult is going, but perhaps the biggest question is; do we really care?
Images courtesy of FX
Outlander Slows Things Down for Episode 2
This week’s Outlander was much slower than last week’s, returning to the steady pace they set in the first few episodes of both seasons 1 and 2. Unlike other shows that use this tactic (*cough* The Walking Dead *cough*), it works in Outlander because of how invested I am in the characters, no matter what they’re doing.
Like last week, this week’s episode divided its time between Jamie in the 18th century and Claire in the 20th. Jamie is at Lallybroch with his family, but he’s a wanted man. The redcoats frequently harass Jenny and Ian, even randomly throwing Ian in the clink in the hopes that they’ll all decide to betray Jamie’s whereabouts. Since they don’t ever really do anything to him, and he seems largely friendly with the soldiers, it’s a fairly empty threat.
Still, it’s dangerous, because in the aftermath of Culloden, being a Scot in Scotland was essentially outlawed. By that I mean clans were no longer allowed to wear their tartans, bagpipes were banned, and Scots weren’t allowed weapons (except I guess what they had to have to have hunt, like a bow and arrow or a knife).
Jamie has gone full-on wild man of the woods, complete with giant beard and long hair. He doesn’t really speak, just brings offerings of excessively large game (seriously, it was huge) and makes crazy eyes at people. Fergus, my dear son, is still in his service, and for all that it’s been 6 years, he’s not that much taller or older. It’s like the Stark kids in reverse.
While Ian’s locked up, Jenny goes into labor a bit early, and her sons Robbie and Jamie see a raven perched on the gate. They tell Fergus that a raven’s bad luck and can mean the death of the baby. The boys found a pistol hidden in the dovecot, so of course they use it to shoot the bird. Because why not!? Pistols aren’t against the law or anything.
The redcoats hear the shot because black powder guns are LOUD, and of course the tenacious captain brings some of his boys around. Unfortunately Jamie chose that moment to come a-visiting, so he’s walking around the house carrying his new nephew when the English show up.
Jamie hides and Jenny tells them the baby died, and while the commander is being semi-respectful, his corporal, a Scot named MacGregor, is a real ass. Ultimately the maid shows up with the pistol and says it was her dead husband’s, and she shot at a raven to scare it away.
The commander says to leave her, she’s no threat, and the soldiers leave. Fergus is giving them the stink eye as they go, and apparently it gives the Scottish corporal the idea to follow him, thinking he’ll lead them to Jamie. He’s wise to their bumbling, however, and he leads them away from Jamie’s cave. He taunts them as Jamie, hiding in the woods, watches in horror.
The soldiers catch Fergus and the corporal, um…chops his hand off with a sword. Which wasn’t nearly as violent and/or bloody as it could have been, thank goodness, because my poor son! As soon as they’re gone, Jamie wraps his stump and carries him back to the house.
Fergus later tells Jamie he’s lucky, because when he first hired him, Jamie swore if Fergus was hurt while in his service, Jamie would keep him for the rest of his days. “With one blow I’ve become a man of leisure,” he says with a grin.
Fergus’s maiming causes Jamie to realize that hiding out isn’t helping anyone. He tells Jenny and Ian they have to turn him in, partly to get the hefty reward money, but also so that the soldiers know once and for all that Jenny’s loyal to the Crown. She isn’t happy about it AT ALL, but she agrees. She sends her maid out to Jamie’s cave with some food, and she helps him shave the beard and cut his hair.
She also takes her dress off and offers him some old-fashioned comfort, which he reluctantly (and tearfully) accepts.
Later Jamie shows up at Lallybroch acting all “Jenny, it’s me after all this time! I certainly haven’t been hiding in a cave in the woods for the past few years! What a random happenstance!” The soldiers are there, of course, and he’s carted off while Jenny watches, crying.
Meanwhile in the future (which is our past, but not AS past as Jamie’s time), Claire is trying to be a full time mom and housewife. If y’all learned anything about Claire the last 2 seasons, you should’ve learned that that would NEVER work. It starts with her fantasizing about Jamie while Frank sleeps next to her, then the two of them having sex while she thinks about Jamie. Poor Frank.
After a dinner party one night she seduces him in front of the fire, but when she won’t open her eyes to look at him, he stops and tells her that when they’re together, he’s with her, but she’s with Jamie. She doesn’t deny it, and after that they go back to being much more distant.
Later Claire enrolls in medical school, and all the little white boys in her class are Shook. But they’re even MORE shook when a Black man walks in. He sits next to Claire and introduces himself to her, and in that moment a beautiful friendship was born.
The episode ends with Claire and Frank crawling into bed to say goodnight. Claire turns off the light and lies down to sleep, and as the camera pulls back we see they’re now sleeping in twin beds. I guess their pretense of returning to their marriage has ended, and they’re staying together mostly for Bree’s sake.
Like I said, this was kind of a slow episode. Not a lot happened, really. It was mostly about Jamie and Claire trying to adjust to their new lives without each other. Jamie is essentially dead inside, a shell of himself, while Claire has Bree to think of.
They both tread water for a time, but eventually realize they have to figure out some way to keep going. Jamie turns himself in to the English because he knows he’s hurting his family and putting them at risk by being a fugitive. Even if they never find him hiding out on Fraser land, they’ll always suspect Jenny and Ian are sheltering him, and one day they may not be so congenial when they cart Ian off to jail.
If I have a criticism of the episode, it’s that Fergus losing his hand—a moment that shocked Jamie back to life, so to speak—lacked some of the punch it was clearly meant to have. Maybe I was just really tired, but my reaction was kinda like, “Oh no my son! Welp. Sucks for him.” I don’t know what they could’ve done differently with it. I certainly didn’t need it to be gorier. I guess it just seemed sort of…sudden? And possibly after Jack Randall’s antics, any old dastardly redcoat just doesn’t really compare. The whole thing was a little rushed in an episode that otherwise took its time.
I’m gonna admit it, y’all: I hate seeing Jamie with another woman! I can deal with Claire with Frank, but Jamie with the serving lady (who was very nice and very brave) had me seeing red. Like, duh he believes Claire’s gone forever, and it’s not like I’m mad at Jamie for seeking comfort with someone else—he needs to move on and get out of his emo phase. But STILL! Logic be damned!!!
I honestly love this show and these characters, so I really could watch them stare at their shoes for an hour, but having said that—I hope next week picks up the pace just a li’l bit. Just a smidge. Especially on Claire’s side, because while yeah I love seeing her make That Face She Makes when men are sexist jerks, I want her to have something more to do than miss Jamie. Medical school and her career should definitely help that issue.
All in all, this was a solid filler episode, and I was glad to see Jenny and my (now one-handed) son Fergus again. Next week we’ll re-meet Sir John Grey, so that should be interesting. Also I wanna see more baby Bree because that is a super cute baby. Like, wow.
Episode Grade: B. It wasn’t as good as last week, but it’s a great show, so it earns some generosity from me. Also all the emotional notes were spot-on.