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Purgatory Without Wynonna is a Much Grimmer Place

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Wynonna Earp Season 2, Episode 11, “Gone as a Girl Can Get”

It’s the penultimate episode of this season, Earpers, and boy was it a rollercoaster ride. A rollercoaster filled with flaming booby-traps, Bobo del Rey, sexy boobs, and why the heck did I get on a boob thing? I think I may still be a bit drunk on excitement from getting not only a like from the glorious Dani Kind for one of my tweets (I love you, Dani!), but also getting the much coveted Emily Andras retweet (I’m still flailing).

Where was I? Oh, right. The episode. According to Emily Andras, this is what last night’s episode was about:

And one thing’s for sure, she’s not at all wrong.

OMG, what?

Stuff’s going down on a revenant infested Earp homestead. Waverly—all gussied up in a wedding dress and pink flower crown—and Nicole run into the barn and find Jeremy. Just as Waverly claims she’s found ‘it’ and knows how to get Wynonna back, the barn explodes. After the credits roll, we’re back to Doc in the well, freaking out and screaming for Wynonna. He gets out with the help of Stevie, who takes him to the Earp Homestead, or should I say ‘Holliday Haus’. Seems in Wynonna’s absence, Doc is in charge of the revenants. And he’s shipping out the drugs Rosie cooks up for him. Doc frees Rosie from her imprisonment (at his previous orders), and heads over to find Dolls.

“No, we cannot die. I’ve only had sex one and a half times!”—Jeremy

At BBD, Dolls has the Widow Mercedes in containment, and he’s torturing her for information. She taunts him about Wynonna being missing and about raising Clootie. Doc busts in to enlist their help to find Wynonna. Nicole knocks him out before Dolls can shoot him (Doc really did eff things up in this universe didn’t he?). At the police station, a harried Nicole has to manage an incompetent rookie named Lonnie and the ‘coyotes’ plaguing the town; in this alternate universe (AU), Doc blew up Nedley, so she’s sheriff. Waverly brings her lunch from Shorty’s and even across timelines, the chemistry between them still crackles. But their simmering tension is interrupted when Waverly has to meet her groom-to-be outside.

“Are you gonna make a demand? Because if you’re going to make it, make it now before I shoot that compensating mustache off your smirking face.”—Dolls

Stuck in containment with the Widow Mercedes under Dolls’ orders, Doc reveals that he, like her, knows that the universe isn’t right. Outside, Waverly meets up with her fiancé…and thank god it isn’t Champ. It’s Perry, and he’s worried about her serial cold feet (3 called off weddings?? Dude, maybe she’s not that into you.) He admits he hired a private investigator to find the person who killed her dad and Willa. She goes to see Bobo, who’s been locked in a mental institution. He tells her there’s a spell and urges her to leave and find Wynonna. The Widow Beth tries to break the third seal herself, but the spell takes two.

“Because knowing something about me, before me is a total invasion of my privacy.”—Waverly

Waverly digs through a chest of her family’s things and finds her mother’s wedding dress. Meanwhile, the Widow Beth frees her sister from BBD, and Doc convinces Jeremy that they’re living in an alternate reality and needs his help to end the spell. Doc gives Jeremy his hat (!!!), then takes it back when Jeremy awkwardly asks Doc out :(. Clad in her mama’s wedding gown, Waverly storms in on Doc at Shorty’s. Dolls arrives, and a shootout between him and Doc ensues. Doc deals Dolls a fatal shot in the chest (thinking he had his body armor to protect him). While down, Dolls shoots Doc through the stomach, killing him. A dying Doc tells Waverly to find the Iron Witch and destroy the trophy; Dolls crawls away, apparently still alive.

“I do hate it when we argue.”—Doc, while dying

Nicole picks up Waverly and offers to take her to find the Iron Witch. Jeremy finds Dolls just in time for him to die in his arms, whispering Wynonna’s name. Nicole and Waverly find the Iron Witch, who explains the spell and that it was worthless, as her sister is still dead. She lifts the glamor for a few seconds for them to see what the world is truly like, and tells them where to find the trophy: the revenant infested homestead. Waverly then breaks Bobo out of the mental institution to help her get on the homestead. Jeremy meets Rosie to ‘complete the mission’ from Dolls. He convinces her that they’re in an alternate reality, that BBD is behind it, and recruits her help. Meanwhile, the Widows can’t seem to get their magic to work.

“I killed him; I killed Doc, but it felt empty…like he was my friend.”—Dolls, while dying

At the homestead, Bobo directs Nicole and Waverly to dig up the talisman to expel the demons. The Widows arrive, and Bobo flees to the homestead proper. Bobo’s arrival causes chaos and division, which Waverly and Nicole use as a cover to get to the barn. This brings us to the opening scene of the episode, and we now get to see the rest of the story from the barn to the bomb. Nicole and Waverly run into Jeremy and Rosie, attempting to dismantle BBD’s ‘operation’. The Widows catch up to Bobo and take him captive. Rosie tells them where to find the trophy, then runs out into the yard and dies. Waverly tells them if they blow up the barn, it will destroy the trophy and break the spell. All they have to do is trust that they’ll all survive.

“Listen [Perry,] I can’t really talk now, I’m in a barn wired to explode. Also I think I’m gay, call you later?”—Waverly

A bit sooty and disheveled, Jeremy, Nicole, and Waverly wake up back in their timeline and head out to look for Wynonna. Elsewhere, the Widows attempt to torture information out of Bobo. He admits to finding Clootie’s coffin when digging for the Stone Witch’s sons. He also breaks the third seal for them, because Clootie has the power to prevent him from going back to hell. Nearby, Wynonna wakes up and has one moment of peaceful contemplation with her baby before she sees Bobo with the Widows. She finds the broken seal in the grass and, of course, baby Earp picks just that time to start hinting that it’s time to come into the world.

Favorite One Liner: “My god, is this what we are without her?”—Doc

I Gotta Say…

I’m a bit speechless by how excellent this episode was. Once again, Alexandra Zarowny delivered a tense, romantic, poignant, and frightening episode all at once. Everybody dies to save the world, but not in the Rogue One way. We get noble sacrifice, but also survival for our faves; it’s a tough balance to pull off, but worked really well. The dramatic tension had weight to it, and the survival was a true catharsis rather than a cheap ‘given’. Though if Nedley, Doc, Rosie, or Dolls didn’t make it back, I’m rioting.

The dialogue lept to life from the screen and the direction was pure magic. Like the transition from the Widow’s discussion of the answer being in the rings to Bobo’s ring-clad hands. Then to cap it off with the pregnant (heh) imagery of the father of the Earp curse and the next Earp heir being birthed into the world at the same time? Absolute perfection. I love how it flips the script on the age-old trope of “as one life dies another comes into the world.”

I also appreciate how well the writing did with creating believable ‘echoes’ in the alternate universe. Like with Waverly overreacting to Perry’s well-intentioned invasion of her privacy with the PI. Or Nicole’s genuine surprise at wearing her own wedding ring. This timeline was both believable and also wrong at the same time. We could see how Purgatory could have ended up this way without Wynonna while at the same time seeing the cracks that lead the characters to perceive it’s lack of substance.

The one who never saw the cracks until the end. OW.

My big question after last week—other than how they’d get Wynonna back—was who was getting married. I’m quite pleased Andras and the writing team chose not to bring back Champ. He was probably who fans would have expected Waverly to be marrying, since they were together when the show started.

However, it intrigues me that she ended up with Perry. He’s the opposite of champ: sophisticated, ambitious, and, more importantly, based outside of Purgatory. See, without Wynonna, Waverly has a reason to follow through on her dreams to leave town. Looking back on S1, it’s pretty clear that part of Champ’s appeal, other than being high school sweethearts, was that he would keep her from leaving Purgatory. Even with Wynonna having left town prior to S1, Waverly couldn’t leave. There was a chance Wynonna might come back, and there was the Earp curse to research since Wynonna didn’t seem interested in her birthright.

Wynonna tied Waverly to Purgatory, both out of love and familial obligation. So Waverly chose someone who would not pressure her to leave town. Without Wynonna, Waverly’s ready to leave Purgatory as soon as possible. Yet the tug is still there, the feeling that there’s ‘something missing’ with Perry. Yeah, that might be a lack of spark because of her love for Nicole, but to my mind, the most significant meaning for that is that Wynonna isn’t there. The something ‘missing’ that prevents her from her dream of leaving town is her sister, the same reason she couldn’t leave in S1. Wynonna ties her there even in her absence.

Holy crap Earp sister feels. Can I also say that everyone telling Waverly to be a hero and save Wynonna (and the world) just kills me. The refrain of Wynonna’s name drummed into me, it got in my blood as I watched, just as it was getting into Waverly’s. Wynonna, Wynonna, Wynonna. Remember, Wynonna. Remember who she is. Bring her back. We need her.

Heck, even Bobo urged Waverly to ‘fly away and bring back Wynonna’, and there’s no love lost there. It was poignant, coming from him. Yet there’s a bitter, twisted irony in Bobo’s fixation on Wynonna’s death and destruction. Little does he know she’s the one who protected him in the past, who held onto him when he was dying and who he rescued in turn. She whispered Waverly’s name, but still, Wynonna is ‘his angel’ in the literal sense.

Yet Waverly has become a kind of talisman to Bobo, the one good thing in his life and the one person who he will neither cross nor hurt. She’s a sign that there is still goodness in him, and is in that sense, the ‘angel’ on his shoulder, compelling him to do good in spite of himself. It’s tragic, twisted, sad, and messy, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

Speaking of Bobo and Waverly, I’m not sure who was more uncomfortable in the scenes in the mental institution, me or Waverly. His invasion of her personal space makes sense since he thinks of her as his guardian angel. But still, it doesn’t diminish the creep factor. For all that she knows in this universe, he’s the guy who killed her family. He may think of her as a protector figure, but to Waverly, he’s a monster, and the disconnect there was palpable in their scenes together. My hats off to Dominique Provost-Chalkley and Michael Eklund, who played these scenes impeccably.

But let’s pause here for a second. What’s up with Bobo? Is it just me or is he even more erratic than he was in S1? Is the pain in his head purely from being in the AU? But then why isn’t anyone else affected the same way? What motivates him to want to help Waverly find Wynonna? Is he just crazy at this point? Delusional? Why would he care if his arch-enemy is missing? I mean, it’s excellent acting, and doesn’t take me out of the story too much, but still, I want to understand. That his ultimate goal is to escape returning to hell, there is no doubt, but some of his actions don’t quite fit. He has no reason to bring Wynonna back. And if the goal was to join forces with the Widows all along so that he could get Clootie’s help, why did he run?

At this point, he feels like a force of chaos, but one that can’t decide if he’s chaotic good (helping Waverly take down the homestead) or chaotic evil (crushing the final seal). Maybe that last trip to hell did more psychological damage to him than normal. I mean, he was a bit of a loose canon in S1, but now he just seems kind of unhinged, or at the very least highly unpredictable. Still, it’s in a highly compelling way. Michael Eklund acts his face off, and I can’t stop looking at Bobo. Hell, Bobo has the power to crush a seal with his fist and blow the dust in the Widows faces. I’m so happy Bobo’s back, you guys. The dynamic between his sheer power and chaotic behavior, the Widow Mercedes’ gory doomsaying, and the Widow Beth’s chipper, sing-song-y destructiveness is a wonder to behold

Oh, and did you all catch the neat little verbal callback Waverly had to Bobo when she was talking about Doc?

“He’s violent and insane, a huge part of the reason why Purgatory went to sh*t, but when he died…have you ever met someone and instantly known in your heart that they meant something to you?”—Waverly

That’s about as nice a summary of Bobo’s place in her life as is possible. I love when the writers do this.

I have a lot of feelings about Bobo, okay?

Doc broke me in pieces. This episode showcased just how much of a changed man he is. He went the extra mile for Wynonna, but it was his wholehearted trust in Dolls that really kicked me in the feels. He believed in Dolls’ goodness at every step. Dolls wouldn’t put him in containment if there was real danger; Dolls wouldn’t hurt Jeremy; and of course, Dolls wouldn’t actually kill him. He was ultimately wrong because this wasn’t ‘his’ Dolls, yet that very mistake is heartbreaking. He so believes in and understands the ‘real’ Dolls now, which is a huge step for Doc.

Doc knows the real Dolls so well that he purposefully shot him where he ‘knew’ he would hit body armor. He believed he would be bruising Dolls, not killing him. And Doc would compliment Waverly on how beautiful she looks as he’s dying. Follow that up with him calling her baby girl and I think a piece of my soul died. Another piece died when Dolls said that killing Doc was a hollow victory because he’d killed his friend.

Through Doc, and Dolls, we see what Purgatory would be like without Wynonna. Without her, the men she loves kill each other instead of working together. Without her, Doc blows up Nedley, takes over the revenants, and becomes a drug-king and crime boss. There was no better way to showcase just how much Wynonna does to help people be their best selves than this episode.

Wynonna is also the only reason that people are brave enough to face the reality of demons in town. You almost want Wynonna to see what Purgatory was like without her. Because for all the weight she carries, seeing the good she does, how much light she brings to the world and helps her friends and loved ones choose their better angels, might just lighten it a little.

We almost get to see what that would look like in the field. She’s calm, happy, at peace with the world despite the grass in her thong. And then…Wynonna has never looked more vulnerable than the moment when she feels the baby coming and hears Clootie’s growl. Way to end the episode on a suckerpunch, Wynonna Earp.

I see you, Andras Zarowny

  • Even in an AU, WayHaught gets cockblocked. Can’t catch a break lmao.
  • DOC GAVE JEREMY HIS HAT. All I’m saying is it’s a good day for the small but devoted fans of the SS Doc/Jeremy.
  • This is the first time that the makeup isn’t really working for the Widow Mercedes’ head wound. It looks a bit…spinach-and-cheese-y.
  • I reaaaaally want to know why Mama Earp really left. Like. Desperately.
  • Waverly had a hamster named Pikachu and a fish named Spish.
  • I see you and that quote from Ruth (“Where you go, I will go.”) that’s used so much at wlw weddings!
  • I’m glad Greta explained why Doc remembered Wynonna when no one else did, but it would be nice to have an explanation for why Mercedes is so visibly rotting on her feet. Is it all because she was shot once by Peacemaker? I thought she told Wynonna that Peacemaker couldn’t kill her?

Look at this precious cinnamon roll and her pet cemetery.

See you all next week for the season finale, “I Hope You Dance.” I barely survived this episode, so I have no idea how I’m going to make it through next week!


Images Courtesy of SyFy

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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Emily Andras, Wynonna Earp, and the Unkillable Queer – The RaconteurGretchen EllisXanDanySuou no NioiThat Which Dreams Recent comment authors
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Lisa Powell
Guest
Lisa Powell

Even with all the Wayhaught and the excellent “I think I’m gay” Buffy callback, my favorite part of this episode was how the barn exploding moved seamlessly into the opening credits. Which goes to show how much of a “behind the camera” kind of nerd I am.

Gretchen Ellis
Guest

I noticed that on rewatch! The production team is top shelf.

That Which Dreams
Guest
That Which Dreams

– Nicole knows EXACTLY when Waverly comes to deliver her food.
– Waverly and that Sadie Hawkins outfit.
– If Bobo really is Waverly’s dad, then there was some real creepy incest vibes going on there.
– I’d really like to have some vanilla dipped doughnuts.
– The Earp sisters and doughnuts.

Gretchen Ellis
Guest

They really do have a thing for doughnuts don’t they? I think I need to get vanilla dipped doughnuts for the finale.

Suou no Nioi
Guest
Suou no Nioi

It was so nice to see Bobo again. He is a little muddled right now, but he seemed to get less so by the end of the episode, so I’m thinking maybe it was a combination of being freshly back from the dead and finding himself stuck in an AU. The combo would be disorienting to anyone, really. I found his breaking of the seal at the end to be odd, but I am holding out hope that he’s got something up his sleeve to help the Earps (or Waverly at least), because I just can’t imagine he would want… Read more »

Gretchen Ellis
Guest

Totally! I’m just curious if his headaches mean anything more than that, or if it really was, as you say, a combination of being back from the dead and stuck in an AU. Like you, I hope that there’s an internal conflict building for Bobo. It makes sense to me that when he’s not in direct contact with Waverly, at some level he reverts to his selfish impulse to escape hell. She’s the ‘angel’ on the shoulder without which he more likely than not will follow his inner demon. But I hope that seeing what he’s done by smashing the… Read more »

XanDany
Member
XanDany

This is a awesome combination of the Buffy episodes The Wish, Tabula Rasa, and Normal Again. I LOVED IT. They did a good job of showing just how different everyone would be without Wynonna in their lives. Doc was the most obvious, but even Dolls was much more like he was in episodes 1 and 2 of the 1st season. He didn’t trust anyone. OF COURSE Wayhaught is destined to be together in any universe- I love how there was no question about that, and I don’t know if Nicole is a hot gay mess or smooth as fuck. Probably… Read more »

Gretchen Ellis
Guest

Nicole is DEFINITELY both a hot gay mess and smooth as fuck. I just adore how she always has hearteyes for Waverly, no matter what universe she’s in. Excellent use of slo-mo to capture that feel. A+ Dolls for sure felt more like his Ep 1-2 self. It’s one of the few times where seeing what a male character would be like ‘without that one particular woman’ actually worked because Wynonna is the protagonist. She doesn’t exist for Dolls character development or growth, but we know that because she exists in his life, he’s become a better person. It’s the… Read more »

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[…] Andras still wasn’t done. In 2×11, Waverly, Nicole, and Jeremy (all canonically queer characters), detonate a bomb inside of the barn […]

Television

When Does Hiatus Kill a Fandom?

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As I sit down to write this, Steven Universe is on day 111 since the last time a new episode released. That puts it squarely in third place among Steven Universe hiatuses, with a near certainty that it will tack on the couple weeks necessary to move into second place. To make things even more frustrating, the most recent episode, “Legs From Here to Homeworld,” has still yet to air on TV. Tack on another 14 days since “Reunited” aired, and it has been 125 days since Cartoon Network has shown a new episode of Steven Universe.

A look at the various hiatuses quickly reveals a more disheartening trend: the abandonment of anything resembling a regular schedule for the show. Since the massive Steven Nuke airing almost all of season 3 over the course of one month, new episodes have been reduced to irregular, unpredictable spurts of 1-5 episodes that come and go far too soon. They’re usually grouped together in clear story arcs, but not always. In a couple examples, one or two episodes would come and go with no idea when the next was to arrive. We have no idea when these episodes will air and usually receive little warning before they do.

Any fan of this wonderful show can tell you how common these hiatuses have become. We’ve grown used to the frustration of irregular airing schedules. We take our dose of content, watch it wear off quickly, and wait impatiently for more.

steven universe legs from her to homeworld nephrite

I’m very impatient for more of Nephrite.

I’ve typically handled these hiatuses calmly. I lament the lack of a regular schedule as much as anyone. Steven Universe is one of the best shows currently airing and I always want more of it. Still, I tend to accept the hiatuses because I know they’ll be worth it. When we do get new episodes, I lean more towards gratitude than frustration. The frustration is always there, but SU tends to always be good enough for me to place it on the backburner.

Except now I’m not so sure. I can’t explain why this particular hiatus threatens to finally sever my patience with the show. However, I can’t deny that it is. For the first time, I’m wondering if it’s all worth it. The constant uncertainty has worn me down. I’ll most definitely be there when the next batch of episodes air. After that? I truly cannot say for certain. I don’t know if I want to bother with yet another long wait for another 1-5 episodes followed by yet another long wait.

Long waits are hard enough. Long waits filled with intense uncertainty about the future might just be too much. I don’t know if I can invest any more energy on this show and this fandom if things don’t change.

Uncertainty stands behind the real frustration with Steven Universe and any other property like it that stresses a fandom to the breaking point. After all, every show eventually has long waits between episodes. 8 months or more typically pass between seasons. Years pass between books in a series. A video game sequel will take 5 or more years these days, and you know that going in. So long as the prerequisite updates and trailers let us know the process continues, we accept the wait.

The problem with Steven Universe comes from knowing little to nothing. We don’t know that the new season will start in 8 months. New episodes could release next week and we might only find out three days beforehand. We have no idea where the Crewniverse is in producing these episodes, no idea how many might be ready, and no idea when Cartoon Network will air them or why they currently won’t. Sometimes a voice actor will mention recording for episodes far ahead of the most recent episode, or post a photo on Instagram or Twitter mentioning recording sessions with unexpected cast members. Or maybe a storyboarder will hint at their progress. That’s all the hint we get.

I know it seems petty to talk about how this affects the fans. I mean, if we’re so frustrated, I can’t imagine how it feels for the people actually working on the show. They’re the ones dealing with our constant questions sometimes crossing over into harassment. When’s it going to be done? How far are you? When do we get new episodes? What’s going on? I can’t imagine what it’s like to feel joy in creating a product, only to have the fans badger you and sap the joy from the process. Not to mention that they sometimes have no idea why the scheduling occurs like it does, or will be told one thing only for the higher-ups to do something else.

I’m not going to pretend this frustration doesn’t exist, though. Uncertain hiatuses have an inevitable way of sapping the joy from us and leaving only bitterness. When you’ve analyzed everything about a new episode/season, gone back through previous seasons to do the same, created all the new memes you can and rehashed all the classics, what’s left? All that remains is impatience breeding frustration breeding bitterness.

The Steven Universe fandom has a somewhat earned reputation as a crappy fandom. Online bullying incidents leave a sour taste, and the most controversial topics of the story often devolve into personal insults. You quickly learn what topics to avoid among the SU fandom. Every seeming misstep has a portion of fans flocking to dismiss the entire show, whether there was truly a misstep or not. Impatience leaves fans dismissing entire plotlines from the beginning rather than giving the Crewniverse any benefit of the doubt.

While there’s an element of the toxicity that can’t be written off as hiatus-related, there’s no doubt the hiatuses make things worse. My worst experiences within the Steven Universe fandom came during the 164-day hiatus between “Lars’ Head” and “Dewey Wins” that took up much of 2017. Between the length of the wait and debates over season 4, the fandom was at its worst and this carried into season 5’s eventual return at the end of the year.

This hiatus was the closest I ever came to quitting the fandom. The anger and vitriol was unrelenting and made me wonder why I bothered. Why subject myself to interacting with these fans if I get so little pleasure out of it? Why go to online communities excited to talk about this show we love if it never feels like we actually love it?

And now, finally, after only 2 seasons in the past 3 years, an unknown wait for the last episode of season 5 still ongoing, and the very likely possibility that we’ll get yet another hiatus once this last season 5 episode airs, the question finally entered my mind. At what point do these hiatuses ruin my investment in Steven Universe? At what point do fans of all ages just stop caring?

Once again, impatience enters the picture here through my experience with the fandom. When “Dewey Wins” ended that 164-day hiatus in 2017, a lot of SU fans hated it. A lot of SU fans hated the entire Steven Bomb. We enjoyed it here, as we always do. However, these episodes were the long-awaited follow-up to a story arc involving the main antagonists of the series. Fans wanted immediate follow-up after such a long wait. When instead we got a (very effective) focus on Steven’s friends and family in the aftermath of the danger he faced, it upset people.

This happens a lot now with Steven Universe. All these hiatuses break up the story in a way that kills story flow for a lot of people. It creates even more bitterness when you wait so long for new episodes, only to not have those new episodes focus where you wanted them to.

The Crewniverse is faultless here; they don’t order these episodes based on release schedules they can’t predict. They don’t know that 4 months will pass between the penultimate episode of a season and the finale. When you go back and watch these episodes without the breaks, they flow naturally. All the frustration and complaints about the uneven story don’t apply like you thought they did when they first aired. The episode orders make much more sense. It’s no longer a 6-month wait to find out what happened to Lars. It’s one hour of other episodes you enjoy.

Unfortunately, binge-watching doesn’t work in the moment for anything except shows no longer airing and Netflix. When fans only get 3 hours of content a year, have to wait months in between said content, and don’t feel like the wait is worth it, it encourages us to stop caring until we know something big happened. Until then, why bother watching? This isn’t like other shows that air episodes for 3-4 months and then vanish for a year. Those shows give you 5, 10, 15 hours of content at least. And you know when they’ll come back. There is a consistency.

The problem with waiting comes if the network sees failing interest in Steven Universe because we wait for big moments. Right now, SU seems to be in a pretty good place. It has a movie, a guaranteed new season, and a nice PR push coming out of San Diego Comic Con this year. Back when it happened, it felt like the show was at one of its strongest points. The momentum was greater than we’d seen in a long time.

Then it came to a screeching halt.

I suppose most of my complaints might only exist for geeky adults like me, and not the children Steven Universe exists for. Maybe they don’t care about the breaks. However, that might ultimately be a problem. A kid may enjoy Steven Universe, but kids have short attention spans and plenty of other stuff to entertain them on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon or the internet. How many kids are going to pay attention to the increasingly inconsistent schedule and be sure to watch new episodes of SU?

Let’s be honest, it is that audience Cartoon Network ultimately and rightfully cares about, not me. That worries me even more as a geeky adult who thinks Steven Universe is one of the best shows currently airing and a strong contender for best animated show ever. I’m not going to insult kids or act like they can’t follow the story because of the breaks. They are perfectly capable of doing so. Thing is, why would they? They have plenty of other options.

Of course, so do adults. With so many other shows to watch, including animated shows, at what point does the erratic scheduling make both kids and adults stop caring and just move on? When do we walk away and wait for the show to end, and then catch up afterwards? And what happens if we endanger Steven Universe in the process? Has the erratic scheduling already begun this process?

Pictured: Cartoon Network and Steven Universe fans.

You’re left with a question that leads to the old familiar question about what came first, the chicken or the egg. Why does Cartoon Network not only schedule SU this way, but also show so little in the way of reruns? Do they schedule this way because of falling interest, or did interest decline because of the scheduling? Thing is, while certainly not at a high point, the ratings for Steven Universe haven’t exactly fallen off a cliff. It’s still one of the most-watched and best-selling properties Cartoon Network owns.

So why in the world is it scheduled like this? Why are SU fans left in the dark? How long before a dearth of new content ultimately kills the fandom, as a dearth of content inevitably does for any fandom?

So here I am, for the first time, wondering if it is all worth it. I don’t worry that the story will disappoint; the Crewniverse has never let me down here. What I wonder about is bothering with all the frustration involved in being an active fan of Steven Universe. For the first time, I wonder why I invest so much of my love for fiction in a fandom becoming increasingly unpleasant. I wonder whether I really want to pay so much attention to a show airing 2-3 hours of content a year.

Barring unexpectedly bad decisions with the story or characters, I will always love Steven Universe. It’s likely that upon its return, all my reluctance to engage will vanish quicker than Garnet poofed Peridot. Then, of course, it will end. I’ll be right back where I was, waiting months for, at best, 4 or 5 episodes. Now that the questions have begun, I doubt they’ll go away.

So here I am, wondering at what point my answer to the question, “is it worth it?” will eventually shift from yes to no. Many others have already shifted. And I wonder how many more will, and how quickly others like me will follow, leaving one of the best shows I’ve ever seen alone in the vacuum of space: abandoned, cold, and inevitably doomed.


Images Courtesy of Cartoon Network

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Riverdale Throws It Back With The Breakfast Club Homage

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The Riverdale parents… We love ’em, we hate ’em, we love to hate ’em. This week, “Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Midnight Club” gives us an insight into their teen lives and their involvement with the Gryphons and Gargoyles.

Recap

After Gryphons and Gargoyles (G&G) manuals popped up at every Riverdale High locker, adults are taking extra futile steps to prevent the kids from playing. At home, Betty finally confronts Alice about the game with some evidence – the coroner she and Jughead bribed found a file about a similar case (mysterious death, blue lips) around the time Alice was in high school. Alice finally complies and agrees to finally come clean.

Welcome to the flashback! Prepare for lots and lots of 80’s hits!

Gradually we meet our main players, before they became the adults we know now: the rebellious Alice, who just found out she’s pregnant; FP, the star football player, lying about his family’s Southside origins; Hermione, a pristine daughter of an immigrant mother, looking for a way out; Penelope, a mousy overachiever; Sierra, a political activist; and Fred, a musician athlete, with a heart of gold (so no changes here).

After one day all of them, for various reasons, get in Saturday detention, the teens decide to take this time and actually get to know each other, to share their dreams, fears, and struggles. We found out that Sierra McCoy/Tom Keller romance isn’t a new development at all. The couple was madly in love in high school, and they had to hide their relationship from their bigoted parents. Hermione is already dating Hiram Lodge, who she hopes is gonna be her ticket out of Riverdale. Fred Andrews, on contrary, plans to stay here forever, because he loves this town, but also needs to take care of his sick dad. One of the bigger revelations comes from Penelope, who as it turns out, was adopted by the Blossoms from the infamous Sisters of Quiet Mercy orphanage to be groomed to become their son’s wife. Yikes.

Bughead what? Varchie who? McKeller is the only straight couple we root for.

A fight breaks out amidst confession time, and the kids get additional three Saturday detentions. Forced to spend more time together, they actually start to get close and become sort of friends. One Saturday, while trying to get her, um, Gamelad out of the teacher’s drawer, Hermione finds a mysterious board game, Gryphons and Gargoyles. Having nothing better to do, the parents gang decide to play it.

They get sucked in pretty fast and agree to continue playing even after completing the detention. They form the Midnight Club, getting together late at night at school, dressing up in silly costumes to fit their chosen characters. Somewhere in the process, Alica and FP start sorta dating, as well as Fred and Hermione. One night the gang bumps into another team of players, that includes Hiram and Tom, and decide to join forces and play all together.

One day, all players get letters from the alleged Gargoyle King in their lockers, inviting them to the Ascension party. Everyone thinks one of the Game Masters set it up, which we later find out isn’t true. To the party, Hiram brings Fizzle Rocks, the 80’s version of Jingle Jangle, and everyone, except secretly pregnant Alice, take them. The drugs-infused shenanigans ensue, and Alice breaks from the others in the process. On her way back to the classroom, she starts seeing very weird things: from creepy writings and Fresh Aid filled chalices in the bathroom to the Gargoyle King himself in the halls. While running away from the creature, she almost runs into principal Featherhead who, she assumes, learned of their trespassing. She manages to get unnoticed and runs home.

The next day, Alice tries to find out what happened to the rest of the Midnight Club, and Hermione tells her Fred’s dad passed away while they were at the Ascension party. In another news, principal Featherhead is missing.

After the funeral, Alice confesses to the rest she saw Featherhead that night. Penelope insists they keep it a secret because being high and trespassing on the night the principal went missing isn’t the best look for them. A week later, the principal is found dead, with blue lips, at the school’s broom closet.

Alice confronts the Midnight Club and demands to know what happened after she left. But the rest turn on her instead, stating she’s the only one who actually saw Featherhead that night, and conveniently left early. Also, everyone denies wearing the Gargoyle King costume, the one Alice saw in the hall. After plenty of arguing, the gang decides to burn the game manual and scatter the rest of the game elements across the town, so it can’t be traced to them.

With the game destroyed, the Midnight Club is officially over. Everyone goes their separate way: Fred gives up on his musical dreams and starts working at his dad’s construction company; Sierra and Tom break up in hopes to reconnect when the timing is better; FP caves to his abusive father and finally joins the Serpents; Penelope clings closer to Blossoms for stability and protection; Hermione returns to Hiram; and Alice herself tones down the bad girl act and catches herself a fella named Hal Cooper…

After her mom finishes the story, Betty still has plenty of questions. Mainly, who poisoned the chalices that got Featherhead killed? Alice doesn’t know the answer but is pretty sure it’s someone from the Midnight Club. When Betty wants to dig deeper, Alice begs her not to get involved. She explains how intoxicating and therefore dangerous G&G is. Betty promises not to play but she won’t stop the investigation.

The next day, Betty arrives at the bunker to tell Jughead about the Midnight Club but instead, she finds him, Cheryl, Toni, Sweet Pea, and Fangs playing the game. Clearly not well, he insists it’s all making sense now and soon he’ll ascend and meet the Gargoyle King.

Thoughts

What an episode! I had high hopes for this one and for the most part, it did not disappoint! Sure, it didn’t really move the plot, and didn’t answer that many questions, but boy oh boy was it fun! This episode is the exact type of quirkiness I need from Riverdale! It may be silly, but unlike the rest of the episodes, this one was silly intentionally, and therefore I don’t get as mad.

First and foremost, I just gotta mention young Alice! Ugh, the stylist’s mind! The styling overall was very cute. The only one I didn’t love was Penelope – this supposedly mousy, goody-two-shoes character didn’t exactly much well with Madelaine Petsch’s stiletto nails and Kylie Jenner lips (yes, I know Madelaine’s are real).

The soundtrack choices for the episode were a little too on the nose, but every single one of those songs is a bop so I’m not complaining. If it ain’t broke and all that.

I enjoyed exploring the parents’ dynamics we didn’t really see before; FP unsuccessfully hitting on Hermione was hilarious. I honestly didn’t expect McKeller feels to hit me this hard, but they sure did. I don’t know why, but for some reason knowing the fact they had such a genuine love in high school and had to wait all these years to get back together was very touching.

On the other hand, I was very disappointed we didn’t see Mary. Where was she?! As much as I enjoyed getting few of my questions answered about the freak show that is the Blossom family, I felt like Mary would’ve been a much better fit for this plot than Penelope. And Madelaine could’ve played the other redhead mom just as well. Maybe even better.

I also felt like the parents falling into their “adult” roles felt a little too contrived. I’m not really mad, cause I understand they had just one episode to put this all in, but still, some decisions felt kinda unearned. I don’t really get why FP decided to join the Serpents after all, and Fred’s decision on completely giving up music seemed a little overdramatic.

Also, just an observation, but it’s interesting how at the end the boys – FP and Fred – gave up their dreams of better life and ended up following in their fathers’ footsteps; while the women – Alice, Penelope, and Hermione – all ended up basically attaching themselves to a more powerful/successful men, to achieve that “better” life.

The last thing, I saw some people complaining about how unrealistic it is that all the parents went to school together and dated each other, and now their kids are at the same school, dating each other. Let me tell you, as a person not from a small town, but from a secluded, tight-knit neighborhood that very much much feels like a small town, this is not far fetched at all. You’d be surprised.

So what do you think? Is yet another Riverdale parent a murderer? Who is hiding under the Gargoyle King costume?

Next week, Jughead continues losing himself in the game, and the juvie plot is back! Yay…


Images Courtesy of CW

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Manifest-ing Ratings on Broadcast

Seher

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Manifest cast poster

It’s time to take stock of where fall’s 18 new shows have landed in the ratings landscape. Which is to say few shows rate above their network’s scripted average. Less than half of the new shows rate above the network’s scripted averages with only nine back 9 orders.

No network has yanked a show off the schedule for its poor ratings. Still, a handful of shows are currently succeeding per their network’s standards, and more importantly in publicly available commercial ratings. The question is whether these shows can hold onto their semi-successful ratings alongside the winter and spring premieres to come.

I’ve written before about the importance of C3 and C7 which measures playback of commercials live and within three, or seven days of airing via DVR playback. Within the first two proper weeks of this fall, only five new scripted shows made it on the top 25, alongside 15 other scripted shows. NBC’s Manifest and New Amsterdam were fifth and sixth. FOX’s Last Man Standing revival came in twelfth, and CBS’ FBI and The Neighborhood were nineteenth and twenty-fifth. However, drops in most shows in the last month, only the networks and advertisers know how well C3/C7 ratings fare.

Back 9’s or the Lack Thereof

NBC’s drama ratings net them three and nine more episodes respectively with New Amsterdam getting the back 9. CBS ordered more episodes for four of its shows. The first back 9 of the season went to FBI. Comedy The Neighborhood also has nine more episodes. CBS  gave both Magnum P.I. and God Friended Me seven more episodes. I don’t think the latter has the best chances of renewal. Especially because GFM dropped two tenths in its second true time-slot airing without any football overrun. (Similar to Wisdom of the Crowd.)

Elsewhere, ABC ordered four more episodes for A Million Little Things  (stuck at 0.8). They also gave one more for The Connors and seven to The Rookie. Comedies Single Parents and The Kids are Alright received back 9s.

Finally, FOX only premiered three comedies this season. The Cool Kids has a full season joining LMS (already had 22). Unfortunately for Lil Rel, FOX revealed last week that his show is not on the spring schedule effectively canceling it.

The CW only finished premiering its three new fall shows two weeks ago. Any back orders should come after this article is published. Charmed is its only new drama above the network average and it’s a CBS Studios show, so it’s not going anywhere. Legacies is doing fine but All American has increased in the ratings, so anything could happen.

So far half of the new shows received the full back 9 including . Others received anywhere from one to seven episodes. Last year, only CBS and CW ordered back 9s and all but one (The Good Doctor) of the shows with shorter orders died. ABC and NBC both fared better this year than last but I doubt more than two of the short order shows are renewed.

I do think shorter episode orders become the norm with back 9 orders going mostly to comedies and less serialized dramas like procedurals. Of note, the shows that received less than nine episodes except for The Connors are averaging less than the network’s scripted average.

Network Averages

As of November 6, only eight newbies are rating at or above their network’s average.

Two months since shows started premiering, very few have held onto ratings that put them ahead of the new show pack. In fact, no network has more than six of their shows rating at or above the network’s average. Yet after years and years of broadcast ratings dropping ten percent each year, the first two weeks of this season were flat compared to the same time last year. Of course, the last few weeks have likely changed that. Come May the numbers may indicate that the yearly fall endures.

Based on the data available, more than half of the fall newbies will likely receive renewals, but most of their final season averages in May won’t excite anyone. Plus with 15 newbies yet to premiere, anything can change.

(Data is from ShowbuzzDailySpottedRatings, and TVSeriesFinale.)

Update: A few hours after this article was published, The CW ordered a back 9 for Charmed (season two through four, here we come) and three more episodes for All American and Legacies (uh, spring shows decide fall shows’ fate)? NBC also announced I Feel Bad will not have more episodes, effectively cancelling the first scripted show this fall.


Image courtesy of NBC.

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