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Mxyzptlk’s Antics And the Gift of A Sanvers Valentine’s Day

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Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 13, “Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk”

The long awaited and anticipated Valentine’s Day episode featuring Sanvers and the sometimes adorably, sometimes dangerously wacky antics of Mr. Mxyzptlk (Mr. Mxy from here on out, or just Mxy). I’m a huge fan of him already and want to see him again at some point. Sadly, Elizabeth can’t join me this time, as her city is currently sliding into the ocean (not really, but it sure sounds like it). So, I am a lonely gem without her fusion; at least I have something fun to talk about!

Quick Recap

Can I just say how GOOD Kara looks in a Vera Wang?

Mr. Mxy proposes to Kara. Mon El objects and Mxy sends him to the DEO in his undies. J’onn gives an epic side eye, but walks on by without asking questions. Kara rejects Mxy, but he believes she is playing coy and he can woo her with grand gestures of his devotion. At the DEO, J’onn composes a V-Day note to M’gann (Awwwww!). Kara decides in the middle of the DEO that this is a great time and place to have a conversation with Mon El about their relationship. At Chez Danvers, Alex learns Maggie is an epic V-day Hater. Lyra, an alien from Starhaven, saves Winn from bullies at the bar, and they hit it off geeking about her culture. Out on the streets, Kara literally catches a bullet for a thief fleeing Mxy then confronts him about his dangerous behavior. Mon El advises killing Mxy but Kara says no.

Kara comes home to an apartment full of flowers (just like last week, which was totally a platonic gesture) from Mxy. Alex wants to be super cheesy and romantic about V-Day, but she’s worried about Maggie’s resistance. Kara advises re-creating the holiday for just the two of them. ‘Parasyte’ shows up and beats up both Kara and Mon El for a bit before Mxy appears dressed as Superman. Kara realizes Mxy sent ‘Parasyte’ so he could swoop in and save the day. Kara tells Mon El to leave (and he actually listens!). Mxy tells Kara unless she marries him, things will get bad for Earth.

Mon El is mad that Kara is defending herself and tells her she’s not a good judge of what she can handle. Kara is mad that he didn’t tell her how to get rid of Mxy beforehand; Kara tells him he’s jealous and he gets pissy. They have a pretty big (and kind of loud) fight in the middle of the DEO that ends with Kara telling him it was a mistake. Mon El steals a weapon from the DEO. Alex follows Kara’s advice, but Maggie gets upset because she doesn’t feel heard. Alex encourages Maggie to not stuff her feelings. Maggie opens up about how her parents weren’t actually supportive of her being gay. She was forcibly outed by a friend she liked who didn’t like her that way and kicked out of her parents house when she was 14.

Delightful.

At the bar, Winn has set up a fancy date for him and Lyra, but she just wants to have sexy times (what is it with Winn and sexually aggressive women? Ngl it’s pretty hot). Meanwhile, Mxy duels Mon El for Kara’s hand, and goes full Hamilton, complete with costumes and pistols. Mon El uses the weapon to cut off Mxy from the 5th dimension, but Mxy crushes it. Kara shows up just in time to save Mon El from being shot with lead (foreshadowing?). She offers to marry Mxy the next day at noon in the Fortress of Solitude. Mon El apologizes for being a dillweed, but Kara has made up her mind about Mxy. Maggie shows up at the DEO looking for Alex to apologize to (that took guts); Kara tells her how much V-day means to Alex.

Champagne in hand, Mxy waits for Kara at the Fortress, where she shows up drinking orange juice (for some reason?). She rejects him and he brings the ice sculpture of Jor El to life to attack her. After shattering the sculpture, Kara encloses them in the fortress and detonates the core to explode and kill them both. He begs her not to kill herself because the world needs her. She eventually relents and he types in the abort code, which, incidentally, is his name spelled backward. (THAT’S OUR GIRL). He disappears to the 5th dimension without having found love.

Lyra and Winn have a nice second date. Alex comes home to find a box with her name on it from Maggie, who has set up an epic Valentine’s Day prom night for them both. Maggie apologizes for fixating on her wounds instead of on the woman she cares about. They dance; I cry happy tears. Mon El shows up at Kara’s and apologizes for acting like an ass. Kara admits she tricked him about saying they weren’t meant to be together and they make out on her couch.

Best Quote:

“On some planets, to write something down is to truly say it.”—J’onn J’onzz

Thoughts & Feelings

No better place to start than Mxy summing up what many in the Supergirl fandom have been saying about Mon El as a romantic interest for Kara (ourselves included)

“The other suitor? I didn’t see you there tall, dark, and blandsome. You’re barely there, let alone my romantic rival. Invisible is a good look on you, let’s play to your strengths.”

In fact, one of the cleverest aspects to the Mr. Mxyzptlk plot this episode was how it seemed very much like a meta commentary on early complaints regarding Mon El specifically and unearned romantic arcs more generally. “You can’t just put me in a wedding dress!” argues Kara as Mxy blithely ignores her protestations that she’s not interested. Mxy is ‘persistent’ in his grand gestures, believing that his very persistence will ‘wear her down’ because she’s ‘confused’ and ‘doesn’t know her own feelings’. He reminds me of Wolf from 10th Kingdom a bit.

The commentary reaches acute levels when Mxy dresses and styles himself as another Superman, just as Mon El did in “We Can Be Heroes”. Like Mon El did with James, Mxy argues Kara needs an equal to her powers. He calls Mon El a thug and claims Kara is ‘slumming it’, which sounds once again like the writers co-opted a fandom complaint. Mxy believes grand gestures, including trying to be a hero (though admittedly in a threatening situation of his own making), and deciding she is fated to be his mate will be enough to convince her to love him, much as Mon El did early in the season.

He’s actually a pretty decent foil for Mon El, if one that’s significantly more powerful, and more destructive when he doesn’t get his way. They both arrogantly believe they know what is best for Kara and refuse to listen to her when she asserts herself. Yet, again, they differ significantly in how they handle rejection. Mon El backed off and tried to date someone new. Mxy threatens to destroy the world. Even Mon El, with all his entitlement, was never that bad. He might be an arrogant dude bro, but Mon El never responded to romantic rejection by trying to physically attack Kara. That’s not to defend Mon El either; it’s more to point out the interesting juxtaposition in what they share as romantic interests and where they differ.

It’s also worth pointing out that the depiction of Mxy’s reaction to rejection in no way read as an endorsement. Supergirl is not trying to say this is an appropriate reaction for men (or anyone) to have when their feelings are not reciprocated. Mxy is 100% in the wrong and Kara makes that clear with how she handles him.

Mxy’s mixture of puckishness, amorality, and arrogant superiority reminds me of one the most interesting antagonists of the Star Trek universe: Q. Like Mr. Mxyzptlk, Q has tremendous power to warp human reality, vast experience in the universe, a high IQ, and a propensity for mischief. They’re both equally capable of practical jokes and destructiveness, and have a playfully antagonistic relationship with their respective heroes. The comparison with Q informs (but does not justify) Mxy’s more problematic character traits, like his willingness to destroy Earth to win Kara. Both Q and Mxy suffer from big egos, near limitless power, and boredom, but they’re less villainous than flippant. It’s the “you walk through the grass without realizing how many insects you step on” phenomenon.

Kara knows how you feel, Picard.

He’s also good fun. The Hamilton scene was A+, especially the longer it went on. These two men really are going to duel with revolutionary era pistols in frilly shirts aren’t they? Yes, yes they are. I loved the ending to the episode as well. So classic Superman in its execution, but with Kara’s own rather chilling twist on outsmarting Mxy instead of out-muscling him. I swear Kara must have had ice in her veins in that scene and not just she destroyed an ice statue of her uncle Jor El. Speaking of Kara outsmarting Mxy, I appreciate how much attention was given to Kara’s agency and intelligence this episode. She’s has a couple of idiot ball moments this season (she really never figured out James was Guardian until 2×10?), so it was nice to see her outwitting a highly intelligent inter-dimensional being all on her own.

I also love Kara standing up for herself with Mon El. She’s done it before (multiple times) when he’s refused to listen to her, or lied to her, or just generally acted like a walnut, but after last week, I was slightly worried that she might be starting to overlook the fact that he hadn’t changed all that much. I’m happy to see Kara setting boundaries around her new relationship in terms of what behavior she will find acceptable from him and what she won’t.

And to be honest, Mon El’s protectiveness is patently absurd at face value. Kara is both stronger than he is and has a wider array of superpowers. Why does he ever feel the need to protect her at all?

She’s nowhere near Damsel.

Physically, Kara is literally the safest and most well protected person just being herself. Mon El may be acting out or flailing because he doesn’t know how to cope with caring about someone as much as he does Kara, but the “I’m just protecting your honor” bit is already a tired trope for non superheroes. Much less when Kara is literally bulletproof and can shoot lasers from her eyeballs.

There wasn’t nearly as much Sanvers as I expected, but I realized upon further investigation that it was in large part due to overhyping from sources other than the CW. The network never promised a Sanvers-centric episode, but some entertainment outlets did, and that was the narrative that made the rounds on social media sites. Had I not seen those sources, I know I would have felt less initially disappointed. As it is, I’m far less upset now that I know my sources were incorrect, not the show.

What we did get, though, was just lovely. Ever since Maggie Sawyer appeared, she’s had pretty thick walls around certain parts of herself. While she was never glowing about her past, tonight we learned that even some of her positive statements were lies. Her parents were not affirming of her being gay. They kicked her out of the house when she was 14, and she had to live with an aunt for three years (taken largely from Renee Montoya’s backstory, by the way). It’s a gut-wrenching story, and one that’s all too true even in our day and age. Just one more way that Sanvers is one of the realest representations of wlw I’ve ever seen.

And the entire conversation showcased how far Alex has grown and how comfortable they are in their relationship. Alex has grown enough to recognize when Maggie is shutting her down, and is willing to push Maggie to be as honest as she pushed Alex to be. It takes tremendous trust on both sides for this kind of conversation to happen. Maggie being willing to open up instead of further shutting down highlights how much she’s grown in her ability to trust Alex with things she’s probably never talked about with anyone before.

Her instinct after that is to apologize, too, which yet again is a mark of maturity and overall relationship health. Moreover, rather than getting defensive when Kara gently pushes her about Valentine’s Day, Maggie turns thoughtful. She takes Kara’s advice to heart, and does everything she can to make the woman she’s crazy about feel special. When you think about it, there’s tremendous power packed into the terse narrative surrounding Sanvers, and I adored every second of it on my screen.

As Elizabeth and I have said before, one of the best things about Sanvers is its down-to-earth domesticity. Alex making Maggie her favorite breakfast, even though she thinks it’s gross. Her gushing about Maggie to Kara, listing off all of the things Maggie loves as she tries to decide how to make Maggie’s Valentine’s Day special. Alex coming out in lingerie (OMG), as part of Maggie’s special Valentine’s Day. The dancing. They’re happy together and healthy as a couple. They listen to each other, are open, and have a strong communication dynamic that is both supportive and appropriately challenging.

It’s actually jarring to see Maggie and Alex with their open, honest communication juxtaposed with Mon El and Kara yelling. Especially since the latter had more than one loud argument versus Alex and Maggie’s single disagreement that Maggie immediately wanted to apologize for. Additionally, Maggie and Alex steer clear of insulting each other and being accusatory, something Mon El and Kara can’t seem to be able to do. Did Mon El really need to tell Kara she’s full of herself and doesn’t know what she can handle?

There’s also a jarring irony to Kara encouraging Maggie to make changes for Alex when Mon El has not changed some of the things that upset Kara the most about this attitude. He’s apologized, which is a good first step (and one I am frustrated didn’t happen sooner), and I expect actual character growth, not just me being told he’s different. From here on out, I expect to see him listening to Kara and respecting her agency and her ‘no’. I expect less over-protectiveness, less overbearing egotism, and less patronizing arrogance.

I AM here for screencaps of Mon El yelling, though.

It’s funny, because as I write this out, these are precisely the things that James Olsen has been struggling with as well, and yet that relationship fizzled out. Oh wait, the writers did that. I am still bitter about the fact that James was sidelined only to be replaced with a white character with similar personality flaws this season. And now Mon El/Kara have gotten more actual screen development than Kara/James. It’s unintentional I’m sure, but the sidelining of a man of color in favor of a white male love interest squicks me out, big time. Both Elizabeth and I have been saying so since our first review this season. And now that Kara/Mon El is happening, I’m not any less uncomfortable than previously, especially with how weakly Mon El’s character development has been written.

I’m trying to see both sides. On the one hand, Sanvers is beautiful and amazing. On the other, I wish Maggie’s discussion of her forced outing to her parents and her first real crush had been given more narrative space to breathe. At least two of the Kara/Mon El scenes were redundant. And yes, I know Kara is the protagonist. I’m not arguing to make this the Sanvers show instead of the Supergirl show. I’ll be blunt, which will get more narrative oomph for the input: greater exploration of Maggie’s backstory (which audiences have been desperate for), which is a moving, painful, and real story that many young women face. Or, one more scene of Kara and Mon El fighting about how arrogant he is and how he thinks she’s full of herself and needs to accept his protection or advice.

But why, when she can do this?

Part of my struggle isn’t so much with Kara and Mon El fighting this episode, though it was discordant given Sanvers’ relationship health. It’s the pattern of this relationship overall. Kara and Mon El don’t just ‘bicker’ or have disagreements that they work out by communicating honestly, like Maggie and Alex do. They dredge up old hurts, re-open old wounds, repeat the same frustrations over and over again. Kara thinks Mon El is overprotective, patronizing, arrogant, and disrespectful of her agency and personhood. Mon El thinks Kara is self-centered, self-important, and doesn’t know what’s good for her. But only one of these perspectives is borne out by the narrative, and it isn’t Mon El’s.

So I’m left with what I think is supposed to be them ‘bickering’ on even footing (“butting heads” because they’re strong personalities), but only one of the characters actually has a valid point about the other’s behavior. And he only now started listening. It’s hard to imagine what Kara finds attractive about a man who repeatedly rejects her agency. It’s clearly something, otherwise she wouldn’t be so ready to make out on her couch, but I’m scratching my head at what it could be.

Randomness

  • Oh tiny bitter Maggie and her “manufactured holiday for patsies” line.
  • “Things were a lot easier on Daxam when I objectified women and didn’t care about anyone.”—This better be a cultural marker, because I didn’t find it funny.
  • “Once you’ve been adored by the all-powerful Mxy, there’s no going backsy” “Your one true pairing as the kids say.” Mxy had quite a few punny/culturally amusing side jokes. I approve.
  • Mxy had champagne, Kara had orange juice, together they’re a mimosa?
  • Mon El’s Kryptonite line was kind of weird. 1) He has a “Kryptonite” and it’s lead, and 2) Kryptonite isn’t just a ‘weakness’, it’s an extremely painful, torturous experience for Kara to come in contact with it. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean “you have the potential to kill me.”
  • I caught that Nasty Woman reference. A+
  • I dig Lyra/Winn and approve of Winn’s attraction to strong women.
  • NGL, Lyra looks like a vampire from Buffy.
  • Speaking of Lyra, why is she ‘British’?
  • Okay, but like, ALEX WAS WEARING LINGERIE FOR MAGGIE.
  • J’ONN SENT M’GANN A SPACE VALENTINE.
  • I hope James is doing okay on V-Day all on his lonesome, with no one to check in on him.
  • The ongoing saga of Alex’s disgust with Maggie’s eating habits gives me life.
  • Shout out to Cat Grant!
  • Also a nice shout out to Starhaven.

In Conclusion

Overall, this was what I’d like to call a warm blanket episode. Was it emotionally heavy? No, but it was a delightful romp sprinkled with some great character moments. Most of all, Kara got to shine as her strong, powerful, intelligent self. She was seriously channeling the metal as fuck In Ze women (her mom and aunt) in that final scene with Mr. Mxyzptlk. Her feelings about her mother and aunt have been justifiably mixed since Season 1, but’s nice to see that there is some Alura In Ze in Kara deep down. She just needed a mischievous 5th dimensional being to bring it out in her. Just showing up in her supersuit drinking orange juice all casual and then rejecting Mxy before setting of the core’s self-destruct? Hard. Core.

Other characters had great moments as well. I adore how casually J’onn just accepts Mon El in his undies. Either he can read Mon El’s mind (but he can’t read Kara’s) or his bar for Mon El’s behavior is just that low. Also, J’onn writing M’gann intergalactic love notes is everything I ever wanted from my favorite Martians. Space Dad is the best Space Boyfriend #RelationshipGoals.

Speaking of which, Winn with his new girlfriend! I love how eager Winn was to show her off and honestly gave zero fucks about anyone seeing him in a relationship with an alien. Then you have the layers of racial coding onto her experience as an alien. She thought she would just be an exotic ‘experience’, for example. I’m happy for Winn. He deserves it.

They’re so cute together.

Last night’s episode was also the first real moment that Mon El seemed to actually recognize his need to change. And he apologized, more than once. Do I wish it had happened five or six episodes ago? Yes. But I still appreciate it here, even if it does feel misplaced. Now he starts thinking about the consequences of his behavior, and apologizing for being an ass, and actually emoting. But why this late in their relationship? And why only in response to a romantic rival? It would have been nice if he’d figured this out when it was about Kara herself, and not tinged with jealousy over Mxy.

I’m hoping that the show is building up to something with the tiny hints we keep getting from Mon El about what life was like on Daxam. It can’t be a coincidence that both he and M’gann come from societies that did not show affection. He’s mentioned public shaming being common, and slavery was not just normal, but condoned. His objectification of women and entitled attitude stems from his culture. It is entirely possible that the show is leading up to yet another “hero rises from the ashes of trauma and a fucked up culture/home” narrative like we’ve gotten with M’gann and Lena. I won’t judge it until I see it in it’s entirety, of course. But, if this is where his arc is headed, I’m interested in taking a step back once it’s done to see how it hangs together.

And let’s not forget the lovely, genuine wlw romance that is Sanvers happening right before our eyes. There is just so much to it, that even their small scenes sparkle in a way that the main plot can’t outshine. My Sanvers shipping heart is full to overflowing. What a treasure of a love story.

Tune in next week for Danvers Family Conflict, aka Heartbreak. Go ahead and punch me in the face right now, it will probably hurt less.


Images Courtesy of The CW

Bi, she/her. Gretchen is a Managing Editor for the Fandomentals. An unabashed nerdy fangirl and aspiring sci/fi and fantasy author, she has opinions about things like media, representation, and ethics in storytelling.

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Television

The Horrifying and Fascinating Tales of Mindhunter

Corentin

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There are not nearly as many articles about Mindhunter on here as there should be, so I’m going to start. Mindhunter is a Netflix original series that came out in October. The show relates the early days of criminal study focused on serial killers, before the name was even coined. The invention of profiling, if you will. As such, a good number of characters appearing on screen are serial killer and the likes, that’s where the horror comes from. And also, where the fascination starts.

I clearly don’t have the skills to analyzes this show like it deserves. This article is more of a love letter to the show. And maybe a way to encourage people to watch it.

Mindhunter takes inspiration from the work of John E. Douglas and Robert K. Ressler, the two pioneers of criminal profiling, and by the subsequent book written by Douglas. It relates their work during the 60s on profiling individuals we now call serial killers. However, the characters appearing on the screen are originals. A fact slightly disappointing at first, but not done without reason.

No spoilers to fear here, but if you’re already interested in the premise, you can probably go check it out now.

Obligatory warnings

I wanted to dedicate a full section to this one. I feel it’s important.

Full disclaimer: Mindhunter is not a “happy feels” kind of TV shows. By its nature, the story touches on very sensitive subjects. Rape, murder, incest, more rape, disfiguring corpses, etc.

Not that the series actually shows any of that, there are very little, if any, graphic scenes. Most of the time, we’re only seeing characters sitting in a room, discussing. It can be a cell, an interrogation room, an office, a car, anything.  The horror comes from what they are discussing and how. The how being: way too calmly for how horrific it is.

This is where my fascination with the show begins and also where I can see people getting really disgusted by it. Mindhunter is the second show this year to manage stirring a feeling of uneasiness from me. The first was The Handmaid’s Tale. Without going into details, if you feel like you don’t need that right now, please skip this show. Really, it’s not a good idea. The show is unapologetic about its gruesome origins: serial murderers do horrific stuff and the story addresses all of it, if not more.

And while I’m at it. Because most of the show is dialogue, you probably already know that this is going to be a slow burn. The show doesn’t have a lot of action, or twists, or grand events. It’s mainly discussion, slow discussions, not all of them progressing the plot significantly. If that’s not what you’re looking for, it’s perfectly understandable too. Be warned.

Now that it’s said. Let’s get back to why you should watch it. I swear.

The classic subject

Serial killers have been part of pop culture for decades now. From the countless incarnations of Hannibal to entire shows dedicated to the profiling and capture of this specific kind of criminals. More recently, we’ve had series where the hero is quite literally a serial killer.

It’s easy to see why they are fascinating. Most of the time, they are shown or treated like people who are simply compelled to do violence. They can’t help it and that’s a brutal way to talk about the nature of all humanity. You’ve probably heard countless time a killer like this saying to a cop “We’re not so different, you and I. You’ve the same fire burning inside of you.” Or something similar.

Because of that, you’ll probably start Mindhunter with already a good idea of the characters you expect to see.

Mindhunter manages to grab your attention by going all out with its portrayal of the serial killer. And by that I don’t mean that they try to outdo all the other story with the gore and the rape and the murder. The serial killer portrayed are real, they existed, so it’s hard to invent. However, the show can take the time to present, sometimes in great details, what they did and how. Always through dialogues alone, of course.

As a result, and without showing anything but some people talking, the show feels more authentic. The serial killers are not romanticized, weirdly enough. What they did is told to us in horrifying simplicity. There is no long-winded description of how smart they are. How they planned everything and how meticulous they were. How hard it was to catch them. They did this horror, and now the point of the show is to understand why.

80% of the show, basically

On that note, the actual profiling and trying to understand is a good part of the show so I won’t spoil it too much. But, just like the killers, this part is treated with a realistic tone that adds a lot to how terrible the whole deal is. You can expect to hear a lot about the killers’ mother and their absent father.

What really drew me in, and what I’m expecting to work with most people, is the absence of glamour. That’s a very difficult line to follow and I might be entirely wrong on that. Mindhunter doesn’t put the killers above us mere mortals.  Yes, it pinpoints the weird fascination those people draw from us, but it also takes times to deconstruct them.

Those killers are embodiments of our horrors because they have very little care for our social construct. But they are mainly sick people, shaped partly by their family, by society, and by themselves. The show accepts that they are here to fascinate us, but it also doesn’t romanticize them.

Even the best of them all.

Ed Kemper

This character had to have his own subsection. He embodies everything good, and horrifying, about this show.

The charming beast, really

When talking about serial killers like this, if you’re going to show them, you want good actors. If not very, very good actors. The acting in the entire series is pretty much on point. But you really must admire Cameron Britton for his portrayal of Edmund Kemper. The second he enters the room for the first time and start talking, you’re in. Mindhunter only starts to truly shine there.

The camera emphasizes his size and posture, making him intimidate the characters, and you, by his sheer presence. But it’s when Ed starts talking that the show becomes fascinating. He can go from the calm, almost candid demeanor of an unsuspicious innocent, to the cold, cruel and morbid humor of a monster. He shows just how damaged he is. Then how easy it would have been for the police force to ignore him.

Maybe his performance will be too much for some. It’s sometimes a little too slow, too weird, to feel completely human. For me, it sold the show. There is this delicate balance in his acting. There is the monster completely accepting of who he is, and then there is the mask he can take whenever he wants. To make us forget what he truly is.

As the series goes along though, the fascination the viewers feel for the killers starts to get mirrored. Kemper himself slowly gains interest in one of our main character. Holden Ford.

The true point

Mindhunter would have you believe it’s a show about serial killers. It’s not. It’s a character-driven story, from start to finish. The serial killers are here to emphasize the different reactions of our main cast to this kind of horror.

Holden Ford (played by Johnathan Groff), Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) are all original characters. They are only inspired by their historic counterparts. A choice that I found weird at first. If you’re going to talk about something real, why not pay proper homage to the people responsible? But this way, Mindhunter is free to do as it pleases with these characters.

These three have different perceptions and interests in serial killers, of course. All reflections of the audience potential reactions.

The dream team

Bill Tench is a cop, working for the FBI for years. He only sees in them the criminals and cares to understand only so he can do his job better. That also mean he can go as deep with them as his young colleague is willing. There is disgust and anger for the killers. Weirdly, he’s the character less likened to the audience, since he doesn’t seem fascinated by his study. He looks into the eyes of the killers and only find fear.

Dr. Mitford, however, is fascinated by them. But more in a professional way. It was always her job to study the human mind. Those who aren’t functioning “normally” can only make her curious. It’s helped by the fact that, for obvious reasons, she can’t go near them. There is a distance kept between her and the criminals, making it difficult to see how disturbing it can become to talk with someone like Kemper. We can expect this divide between the three to grow as the study goes.

And finally, there is the “true” main character. The one introducing us to the show and who props most of the plot forward. Holden Ford is probably the closest to the viewers. His fascination for the killers and their mind goes beyond his work. Not that it is morbid either, it’s simply a curiosity that’s difficult not to understand. One that stems from his experience with disturbed people and from a real need to do better. To help.

I wouldn’t call Ford a very likeable protagonist, he can actually be a douche from time to time. Yet I hope you’ll find yourself fascinated by him and his evolution. Just as Holden finds himself captivated by the killers he meets. He’s the character most affected by those meetings, even as he tries to be the one in charge.

Quite simply, he stares into the abyss the most out of anyone. And, as always, the abyss stares back. His fascination for the macabre mirrors our own, maybe a little too much.

Holden leans forward, Bill backward. Look mom, I’m analysing.

Holden is also interesting because we don’t know a lot about him at first. The more we learn, the more curious we become. He doesn’t seem to fit perfectly into the “normal” mold we have for a hero either. I’ve already seen a few articles attempting to diagnoses him. There are different theories. I’ve seen him called a sociopath mirroring those he tries to profile. Some explain his social behavior by a form of autism.

I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about, so I don’t have an opinion on that. It doesn’t really matter. In the end, Holden is a complete character, not necessarily a nice one, that becomes slowly as fascinating as the killers he’s trying to interview. Watch closely for his evolution during season 1.

For him, and all the other characters, I’m looking forward to season 2 and their dive into the abyss.

Some more nitpicks and conclusion

Mindhunter got reviews all around so I doubt this article will convince you if nothing else did. But still, I needed to say all of that. I’ve avoided talking about David Fincher and his directing because that’s far from my specialty, but some shots will make you feel like you’re in a cinema. There is a vision in this show that you won’t find everywhere.

That’s also a source of issue with it. Sometimes Mindhunter seems so focused on its purpose that it can become obscure to someone without established knowledge on some subject. Mainly, most episodes open on short scenes depicting a famous American serial killer. Someone that apparently people immediately identified from the time frame and the place. As a European, it was hard for me to understand. Someone had to explain it to me.

In the same idea, the characters tend to drop some names as if they were common knowledge. I’m guessing people who haven’t read or seen a lot about serial killers can get a bit lost at points.

I don’t think it takes you away from the show, but it’s something to be aware of before starting.

Apart from that, Mindhunter has a very strong narrative, entirely character-driven. It captures the pop culture fascination for serial killers while forcing us to really take in the horrifying nature of their crimes. If you’re looking for something like this, please give it a try.

 

Also, as a Frenchman I’m mandatory obligated to say it. Holden Ford looks like our President. It’s very jarring. That is all. I’m sorry.


Images courtesy of Netflix

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Fun Home: Broad City Takes Us ‘House-sitting’

Sarah

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I would like to raise a toast. A champagne-with-raspberries toast to Ilana Wexler, who this week made a breakthrough in her personal development, worked through some of her own shit, and helped her friends work through theirs. This week, Ilana was the matriarch, because Ilana was house sitting for Heidi Strand, and brought her brood for a magical weekend in the Fun Home.

Heidi Strand, if you’ll recall, is the obscenely wealthy mother of Oliver Strand, the young boy Ilana occasionally babysits for and who adopted her “Yas Queen” catchphrase in one of the most iconic episodes of Broad City ever (S2E8 for those who need a refresher).

Thus was born the infamous GIF that rocked the world.

Oliver is stressed AF because of his standardized testing for babies, so Heidi is taking him in an Uber helicopter to detox in the Hamptons. As you do. It’s pretty incredible that Heidi trusts Ilana with her enormous home but here we are: she hands over the keys, and the fun begins.

First it’s just the OG pair, Abbi and Ilana. Ilana gives Abbi the tour, starting with the laundry room, which features four huge washer-dryers. They dump in all their laundry, gleefully set the knobs, and proceed to dress up in Heidi’s clothes and ascend the multi-story spiral staircase to the piéce de résistance: the Master Bath. It comes complete with every ethnicity of marble (Asian, Italian, Peurto Rican, etc.) and A BEDET.

While Ilana sits herself on the bedet and toggles through every setting via the screen on the wall beside her, orgasming a few times in the process, she manages to hold a conversation with Abbi, who is Tinder-ing. She sees her high school English teacher. Ilana convinces her that teachers are the ultimate fantasy and to definitely swipe yas, do not swipe nas. Abbi does it, and they match, so she invites him to the Fun Home and changes from one of Heidi’s gowns into some of her resort wear.

Master Bath Face™

Meanwhile, Jaime shows up with his laundry, and relays that he has gone through with the circumcision he’d been contemplating to deal with his chronic yeast infections. He therefore cannot under any circumstances get hard, lest his stitches pull out. So he heads to the laundry room and tries really hard not to be turned on by anything, which proves difficult.

The next person to show up is Lincoln, with his own laundry in tow, and right behind him is Mike Birbiglia! I legit got excited about this until I realized that it was for sure going to get creepy between him and Abbi, but we’ll get there. Ilana introduces Lincoln to Birbigs, and manages, with only a little bit of revulsion, to introduce him as her boyfriend. Good job trying out labels, Ilana! Then she takes Lincoln to the laundry room, the first stop in every Fun Home experience.

Laundry Kweens

Abbi tries to flirt with Birbigs, but can’t help but be a little weirded out. Especially when she tells him that she always thought of him “like that” and he responds that he always thought of her “like that” too. So she runs to find Ilana, who’s having the time of her life in a farting party with Lincoln, to enlist her advice. Ilana tells her that all teachers jerk off to their students, and that as a society we should be thankful for those ones, because the other ones end up in the news.

Abbi still isn’t convinced, so Ilana puts it to her this way: when was the last time she jerked off to JTT? The teenage version of JTT? Abbi realizes it was just the night before last (which, okay), and is comforted by Ilana’s assertion that all older people jerk off to teenagers and all teenagers jerk off to older people. The circle of life.

Ilana goes back to Lincoln and they lie on the master bed. They have a conversation about brunch and shared Google calendars and Lincoln starts to read the newspaper. Just then, Ilana catches a glimpse of a book on the nightstand called “Is your relationship stale?” She immediately freaks out about commitment and frantically tells Lincoln that they haven’t had sex in forever. He points out that they had sex an hour ago and he has a refractory period. They then sit across from each other at a fancy table in a Fun Home nook somewhere and decide that they’ll give it a year and then check in. No forevers. It’s cute and there are jokes about spaghetti and Doritos (see: previous fart party). I enjoyed this scene very much.

Fear Of Commitment Face™

Meanwhile, Jaime is wandering the Fun Home and seeing sex and penises literally everywhere, even in the antique map of Europe Italy looks like a penis. So he hides under the mountain of stuffed animals in Oliver’s dark room, crying and begging his penis to stay weak while he stays strong.

Unfortunately, this is the exact room Abbi and Birbigs decide to stumble into while making out, and start to role-play the teacher-student thing while lying on Oliver’s bed, unaware of a horrified Jaime just feet from them. Abbi goes along with the role-play until Birbigs pushes her face back with his hands in order to make her look 17 again. This is the last straw for both Abbi and Jaime, who tell him how gross he is and that he should leave. Jaime is actually glad, since seeing that exchange killed his impending erection.

Just as Birbigs is getting dressed and about to leave, a fire alarm goes off, and all of the Fun Home inhabitants gather on the street. One of the firefighters that comes explains that they used a dryer that was only supposed to dry silk and that’s what caused the dryer-fire. Nothing is really damaged and the motley crew are relieved, bidding farewell to Birbigs, who heads off down the street to that song from The Breakfast Club—you know the one.

Bye Birbigs

Overall, this episode was pure fun, except for the creep-factor of Mike Birbiglia, English Teacher, which…that’s not my humor. But to the credit of the Broad City team, and Abbi Jacobsen who directed this episode (her second of the season, and they’re both winners), even when this kind of storyline happens, this show keeps the ball firmly in the woman’s court. It broaches sexual tabboos while maintaining the power and autonomy of the central (female-identified, in this case) characters.

I give this episode 9.5/10 privately owned Baroque sculptures.

Until next week, kweens!


Images Courtesy of Comedy Central

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Legends Double Whammy: The Rise of Mallus and The Wonderful Helen

Matthew

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Major events happened in Legends of Tomorrow in the past two episodes, but they still handled their lighter tone quite well. This time, a double review of episodes five and six, so let’s dig in!

“Return of the Mack”

The Legends track down an anachronism in Victorian London where an actual vampire seems to be on the loose. The start out by visiting a morgue and speaking with the local coroner. As the team finds out the doctor is wearing a 2017 watch, they make the man spill the beans: he had found it in a body that had “fallen from the sky,” which he examined and then buried.

Thinking this body would be connected to the vampire situation, they go to the cemetery and end up finding Rip Hunter there, on his own journey after the vamp. It turns out he thinks this particular anachronism is related to Mallus, a powerful being whose name has been whispered throughout all of time and space. To go on this mission, Rip had to go rogue against his own foundation, the Time Bureau.

Using Nate as bait and after he gets captured easily, the mystery is solved: some cult members, which include Stein’s eccentric ancestor, are seeking to revive a secretive corpse using the blood of the great people of London and the occult powers of the Blood Moon.

The Legends put up a rescue mission, but as usual, things do go south: Nate is retrieved, but after Zari’s creepy participation in a séance hosted by one Madame Eleanor, a fight does start in the main hall. To make matters worse, the team finds out that the body that is going to be resurrected belongs to one Damien Darhk, after his death at the hands of the Green Arrow.

This leads to new conflict between Sara and Rip. Sara believes they should make a move to ‘kill Darhk for good/keep him from being resurrected,’ but Rip wants to let things go their way, at least for a little bit, in order to reach Mallus during the ceremony. Rip ends up agreeing with Sara, but goes rogue once again, locking the Legends inside the Waverider as he goes on with his plan.

As the séance involved Madame Eleanor speaking for Zari’s sister, the new team member had exited the ship beforehand so that she could ask the medium to speak with her brother again and apologize for leaving him to die after ARGUS’s attack. However, she ends up tricked by Eleanor and hands her totem, which soon she learns was a bad idea.

The main event begins as Eleanor uses her own powers and the totem’s to speak for Mallus. Rip crashes the party, but his efforts to stop this nonsense are in vain: Damien Darhk lives. Despite getting Time Bureau’s employees there to help the fight, the Darhk and Eleanor combo prove to be too powerful, and Rip comes very close to dying. The Legends arrive just in time after escaping the Waverider to save Hunter from death.

After Rip’s betrayal, Sara makes the hard-ish decision of calling in the Time Bureau to take Rip away, as the dude simply has no loyalty, going over the captain’s wishes for his own agenda. Honestly? Go, Sara. This call yields good results and, apparently, the Legends get permission to do their thing. PLUS, and I say this with a lot of excitement, we can look forward to seeing Sara and Agent Sharpe stop being catty to each other.

Meanwhile, Jax gets Ray to help him out in breaking up Firestorm. The first step was breaking the psychic connection, at least temporarily, as a trial. This process goes well, but despite Jax’s good intentions, Stein gets upset with it. However, as the episode goes by, vague things happen which propel Stein change of heart as he realizes he really wants to spend the extra time with his grandson. Therefore, he agrees to the break up without any further resistance.

“Helen Hunt”

A long take starts us in 1937 Hollywoodland where a blonde woman walks into a movie set causing all sorts of trouble because all the men are focused on her. As coincidences go, this is a big one: she enters the set of a movie portraying Troy and gets instantly cast as herself given her identity is no one less than the Helen of Troy.

At the Waverider, Ray is trying to separate Firestorm through some sort of weird science that ends up blowing up in their faces, quite literally. The result is a Freaky Friday situation in which Jax and Martin swap bodies, leading to all sorts of age jokes and funny shenanigans. As Sara puts it in a meta way, “It must be Tuesday.”

The Legends take notice of the anachronism in Hollywood as history got changed and, to get their mojo back, they decide to go forth for what would be an easy mission while they can’t solve their Damien Darhk problem quite yet. Upon arrival, they notice how this new method actor is making the rounds, prompting men to fight for her and Nate recognizes her as Helen of Troy.

Meanwhile, Martin is having the time of his life meeting his boyhood crush Hedy Lamarr, a brilliant scientist-actor of whom he is especially fond. Sara, Zari, and Amaya try to get Helen to go with them quietly, but she is reluctant due to the way she is treated in Troy, having been locked up and an excuse for war-waging among men for years. To make matters worse, as she runs away, they soon find out she is being managed by Damien Darhk. The man himself tries to achieve a parlay with Sara, telling them to go away and let him tend to his evil businesses or else he will kill all the Legends, one by one.

Sara takes her time to discuss the indecent proposal with her crew, but ultimately, they decide to fight Darhk. Sara enlists only the women to retrieve Helen this time as even the guys on the team fell victim to her “curse” of making men fight for her. They go to her current location and successfully convince her to go willingly given the Hollywood studio heads’ fights were escalating to gunpowder levels.

As they return to the ship, the electronic problems they’ve been having all day — from the comms being down to Gideon shutting down — are all a ripple effect from Helen’s one pompous day at Hollywood. It turns out that Helen’s appeal discouraged Hedy Lamarr from pursuing her dreams which not only included movies but patented technology that would eventually pave the way for the advanced technology on the ship.

Thus, the mission can’t end yet as the team still need to get Hedy back on track. As the onboard Lamarr Stan, Martin volunteers as tribute. However, Damien and Eleanor find them together and, having his proposition ignored, the fight begins.

As the legends go after Martin, Helen is left to the care of Zari and Amaya who even hands Helen a knife so she would not be defenseless. Kuasa, the “water witch” from team Darhk/team Mallus enters the Waverider and knocks Zari out (sidenote: the team is referring to Zari as Z now, and I just wanna say that it’s very, very cute). Kuasa proceeds to have a word with Amaya, and she reveals herself as Mari McCabe’s older sister and, therefore, Amaya’s granddaughter which sort of explains why she is a totem-bearer. However, before Kuasa can reveal some important plot information, Helen stabs her with her knife, and she perishes.

Back outside, Damien and Sara decide to have an oldfashioned League fight, without magic. As Sara suddenly becomes an expert assassin again (her skills come and go as the plot demands, as you are all aware) and gets ready to kill Darhk, Eleanor interferes with magic and reveals herself as Darhk’s daughter. As Eleanor readies to kill Sara, Hedy tells Martin and Jax to fuse which is something they were afraid of doing after their swap.

Fortunately, it all works out with Firestorm who is now stable and gets the best out of the Darhks, who retreat away. The crew gets back on the ship as they are now ready to leave Hollywood as the Hedy Lamarr situation has been resolved. Still, they still have Helen aboard, who is feeling miserable about having to go back to her shitty life. Her arguments get the best of Zari who, through a loophole, takes her to the same period as she went missing, but a much better place than Troy — a nice, Greek, aesthetically pleasing, and well-saturated place where only women are allowed. The episode closes with what we already knew: that place’s name is Themiscyra, which was WONDERFUL, like, hell fucking yeah, Legends of Tomorrow, you just blew my wig to the stratosphere.


Images Courtesy of The CW

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