Wow, Fandomentals! Long time, no see! Since we missed last week’s review we are including a mini-review of that episode before we get into the meat of this week’s. These last 2 additions to the season delivered some solid plot and even a little character development. The writers seem to be on a roll, delivering consistently good episodes week after week. Considering what is coming up in the next episode, we hope that this trend continues.
Last Week on “Secret Cargo”
Senator Mon Mothma, sick of funding the Rebellion behind the scenes, the way Bail Organa does, tells Palps to get fucked, packs her shit, and flees the Galactic capital to join with her forces in the Outer Rim. Thrawn, Pryce, and Konstantin, eager to claim such a prominent prize, pursue her but are outwitted by Hera and Gold Leader Jon Vander. This episode does away with any “science” pretense that Star Wars had, using protons and nebulae to create explosions in space. That aside, the episode is very solid. This is the first time we have seen a major political figure directly oppose Palpatine in any way. It really drives home the fact that the Rebel Alliance is a functional matriarchy: between Mon Mothma as the political head and Leia Organa as the military head, girls run more than just the world; they run the galaxy. We also get to see Thrawn’s terrifying new TIE fighter in action, but it is fortunately destroyed, thus explaining why it was not guarding the Emperor’s favorite pet project, the Death Star. And at long last we see the fabled Dantooine, mentioned once by Leia in A New Hope and extensively developed in the Legends continuity, we can only hope that once Thrawn destroys Atollon we will get to see what the surface of Dantooine looks like.
Episode Rating: 7 – Satisfying: Fantastic! Entertaining! I would be willing to watch it again. It isn’t perfect, but it hits an emotional or thematic sweet spot that leaves you glad you spent time on it.
“Double Agent Droid” Episode Summary
Wedge Antilles, Chopper, and AP-5 go to the most originally named planet of Star Wars: Killin. They are there to steal information from the Imperial Data Bank. However, Thrawn has instructed his Imperial Listeners to be on the lookout for AP-5 and Chopper; while most Imperials overlook any droid and dismiss that it might be a threat, no detail is too small for Thrawn. Rather than reveal the droids, the Listeners hack into Chopper in an attempt to discover the secret base of operations. AP-5 is immediately suspicious of Chopper’s new, more Imperial behavior and uncharacteristic helpfulness, but his warnings go unheeded until Chopper tries to blow the whole crew into space. Treachery revealed, the rebels and AP-5 work together to regain control of the ship and Hera creates a counter hack to kill all the Imperial Listeners. (Zach is all: 🎉 🎊 🎉 🎊 [Though Cameron would’ve been fine with them being recurring.]) Their secret remains safe for now.
The Imperial Listeners, Who we’ll refer to as Imperial IT are fascinating as villains for the show. They given up a large degree of their autonomy to hook themselves up into the Imperial Internet, and become something of a concept from a Sci-Fi dystopia. They hack Chopper and use him as a puppet to spy on the crew. This sets up a scenario where the crew has to somehow figure out that not only has Chopper been taken over, but how to defeat him when he’s taken control of the ship’s computers(This is why passwords are important, kids.). It gives the writers the opportunity to add suspense and play around with the situation.
It’s a very creative step for “Double Agent Droid”. In lieu of the usual Pew Pew Pew space battle, we instead have an episode focused on intrigue and acting. We watch as Controller, head IT dude, takes control of Chopper and how he manipulates the crew. It’s a very interesting PoV switch and sells the idea of hacking and sabotage the episode showcases.
Controller was a well written mix of smarmy and efficient. Dedicated to odds and numbers, this dude is guilelessly cruel and logical. He violates Chopper and turns him into a puppet. He’s very smarmy, but he never goes over the top, and remains calm. Another misstep would be to make him too nerdy and inept, yet he instead maintained his smarts and emotional manipulation of the crew. The results are excellent. Head IT Bro is an effective villain. It’s almost a shame he died so soon, I actually would’ve like more hacking episodes, ship against ship.
Don’t Make Hera Mad
For what little time she was on, Hera stole the show. The moment she comprehends what the Empire has done to Chopper, she gets angry. Hera is scary when she is angry. All of her tactical brilliance is focused. She makes a Techno Babble counter hack against Imperial IT that hacks their ships and for some reason blows them up (don’t question it).
AP-5 is one of “Double Agent Droids” highlights. He is egotistical and stubborn. Yet he is very committed to himself and his beliefs, even whenever others doubt him, because he, by his nature, is very observant. Even better, he uses his observations and notices stuff that’s off, like Chopper being actually supportive. He is right.
Unfortunately he is so right while also being so lovably egotistical. Every chance he gets he lords himself as the leader and how he’s the only competent one. A belief built upon his ability to analyze. Ironically undermining himself. He’ll even lord himself over other Imperial droids for being so rigid and structured, but fails to reflect on himself and how he comes across as a drone to others.
AP-5’s Musical moment is the most absurdly wonderful piece of Star Wars outside of the Christmas special. The Droid sings to himself where he rejoices in his solitude while he dances around with a bunch of fluorescent pink space creatures. It’s the oddest moment in the show up to date, and I found myself laughing at the absurdity. Egotistical but observant, this silly droid was one of the highlights of the show. AP-5 seems to have tapped into the fatalistic humor of this generation of Star Wars fans perfectly.
The Star Wars Droids
“They’re very much depicted as being sentient: they joke around, they have emotions, they have snark. At the same time, we’re not supposed to care when they’re destroyed in droves or just shut down … Especially the way Anakin programs C-3PO to call him ‘master’ and then casually abandons him on Tatooine.”
That point seems to be especially driven home in this episode.
Cameron and Zach have differing opinions on Chopper. While Cameron believes Chopper is a bit of evil, lovable, and irritable cat on the Ghost, Zach been waiting for a character to kick him since he was introduced. That said, it is undeniable that he is a being with free will. C1-10P is abrasive, often lazy, and always does what he wants when he wants to. When the Imperial Intelligence shows up, it is a startling reminder that the droids are actually … well, droids. They are computers, and computers can be hacked. Unlike most instances of Fantasy Mind Control, however, Chopper is never afforded a chance for a “battle in the center of the mind.” His code is simply overridden by the Imperials and it is up to others to fix things.
That said, stealing Chopper’s autonomy is not treated as that big a deal. Hera does it all the time, since she wipes his memory of Atollon’s coordinates every time they jump through hyperspace. (Though the case could be made that it is too dangerous for him to keep these cordinates, as he is hacked, and they still preserve his personality, it is still very invasive.) In The Clone Wars it was a major plot point that Anakin never wiped R2’s memory. I think it is an unintentional example of moral ambiguity among the good guys. Even though the Rebels treat their droids far better than the Imperials, they still treat the droids as machines.
Episode Rating: 7 – Satisfying: Fantastic! Entertaining! I would be willing to watch it again. It isn’t perfect, but it hits an emotional or thematic sweet spot that leaves you glad you spent time on it.
Next Week: The Grudge Match of the Galaxy / Maul’s Gon’ Settle His Beef / All with a Huge Dash of…
Images Courtesy of Disney
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Should Let Rosa Date Gina
Google most non-canon LGBT ships, and you get results for various fanfiction sites, maybe an article or two about why they should be canon, why the show is clearly missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Google Rosa/Gina—dubbed Dianetti—and you get tweets from the two actresses involved.
Finally the truth is out
— Stephanie Beatriz (@iamstephbeatz) September 4, 2017
Though media has made huge strides in the past decade or so with LGBT relationships, there is still a lot to be done. Queerbaiting remains common, as does the bury your gays trope. Relationships—especially wlw ones—are still seen as less valid, less possible, than their straight counterparts; this is in part due to many writers, actors, and showrunners continuing to tease of F/F relationships. By creating a dynamic where two women are clearly not just friends (and, of course, never making that dynamic explicitly romantic either), they get the best of both worlds: LGBT viewers who crave representation with none of the potential backlash for so-called political correctness.
The Beauty of B99
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, however, has never fallen into that trap. Holt and Kevin may be the subject of many jokes, but they are never the butt of any. Similarly, topics like racial profiling and police corruption are taken seriously. It is a comedy show, but it is also a show that recognizes the power of its platform. Where another show would tease these topics and turn them into a punchline, Brooklyn Nine-Nine turns them into a discussion.
So, of every show on television, I know that Brooklyn Nine-Nine would treat Rosa and Gina well. That is an important part of the discussion that is oft forgotten: representation does not end when it begins. Instead, it is an ongoing process, most successful when the writers and showrunners make continued efforts to deepen and better their characters and relationships. When we ask for representation, we are asking for a commitment: at the very minimum, do not kill them. Because that is still often too much to ask, we never get to the next step: do not cheapen them, do not forget them. Do not let them be a checked box on a list of things a show needs to have.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has proven they can do it. So why don’t they?
The Case For Dianetti
Over the past four seasons, we have seen Gina and Rosa flit in and out of various relationships. All the while, however, they have been there for each other.
Rosa is closed-off, awkward whenever the slightest hint of emotions are involved; Gina, on the other hand, is as open a book as she could possibly be. In the same way that Jake and Amy build on each other and make each other grow, Rosa and Gina could do the same.
In the past, the show has paired Rosa with men who are too different or too similar. Marcus was very openly emotional, and while the importance of having such a character cannot be understated, he was not right for Rosa. Adrien, then, had the opposite problem: he and Rosa never truly get to know each other during their relationship because both were content being unattached in that way.
Enter Gina. She is the perfect option, the perfect mix of emotional and independent; she is the one who can make Rosa consistently smile, the one who isn’t semi-scared of her at all times.
There are not many women on television that are like Rosa, and to give her a chance to find true, lasting love would be very valuable to many viewers. Having her and Gina both go through several unsuccessful relationships is good—it’s realistic and done well. But just as Jake and Amy found each other, just as Kevin and Holt found each other, I would like to see Rosa and Gina do the same.
In a world where F/F ships are punchlines to jokes that weren’t funny the first time, it is a rare and very special thing to see such an opportunity supported by both actresses involved. We have the support, and we have the chance; all that remains is for Brooklyn Nine-Nine to take the leap.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine consistently surprises me with the topics they are willing to tackle and the grace with which they do so. So, as it returns this month for its fifth season, I hope that they will tackle Rosa/Gina next.
Images courtesy of Fox
The Neighbors from Hell
This week’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult opens with a blonde woman, Rosie, speaking with Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) about how thanks to him she’s overcome her fear of being trapped in dark places. (Sidebar: why is Ally the only important woman without white/blonde hair in this show?) When Rosie and her husband Mark, return home, however, they are accosted by clowns and nailed into coffins. Rosie’s worst nightmare that she admitted to Dr. Vincent. It makes you wonder if the Doctor is part of the cult. Hmm…
Switching up the timeline of things (again), we return to where we left off after last week’s episode; the Mayfair-Richards household following Ally’s (Sarah Paulson) gun play. Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes) assures Ally that he doesn’t think charges will be pressed because the murder of Pedro was in self defense. Though Ivy (Allison Pill) knows it was accidental and not self defense, she agrees with the Detective and the power finally returns.
The next day, protestors gather outside the Butchery on Main, branding Ally as the “lesbian George Zimmerman,” and the news is there to broadcast the protest. Unable to show her face, Ally is forced to stay in the car while Ivy goes to work. Before Ally can go home, however, she is confronted by Kai (Evan Peters) who calls her brave. He tells her to never apologize and that he’ll take care of the mob for her. When Ally does arrive home, she receives a very different greeting from Meadow (Leslie Grossman) and Harrison (Billy Eichner). The couple, dressed in sombreros, condemn the accidental murder and accuse her of being a racist.
Ally and Ivy are unable to avoid the news of the protestors on television. The news finally moves on to announce the deaths of Rosie and Mark, who were found in coffins in their home with a smiley face symbol painted above them. The same symbol that was found on the Changs’s house.
Things turn to the strange (or stranger, anyway), the next day when Ivy and Ally find dozens of dead crows in their yard. It gets stranger yet when Winter accidentally lets an unknown man into the house. The man was responding to an ad on Craigslist that listed lesbians looking for pleasure from a man.
During a phone session, Dr. Vincent talks to Ally about the Craigslist ad. It’s in this scene that we get our first election reference of the episode, a record few this time. Dr. Vincent suggests Ally file a police report then asks for an emergency meeting to talk about an inpatient facility. Ally (obviously) disagrees with the doctor’s assessment and ends the call. When she reaches town, protestors accost her car, but with a single word Kai is able to get them to leave.
Returning home, Ally and Ivy find Oz and Winter playing with a guinea pig with a cisnormative name. They learn that the animal was a gift from Meadow. When Ally tells him that he cannot keep the pet, Oz lashes out and says that he wishes Ally wasn’t around. Ally then calls Harrison who is sitting with Meadow and Detective Samuels. Harrison states that he likes Oz but not Ally, and that Oz needs testosterone in the house. Angry, when Ally sees a truck spraying green mist, she chases the truck down to no avail.
Elsewhere, Meadow and Kai play the pinky game. When asked for her greatest fears, Meadow offers a superficial fear that Kai slaps her for. This is a revolution and he doesn’t want his time wasted. Kai calls her out as being afraid of never really being loved.
In a rare moment of levity and normalcy, the Mayfair-Richards family having a nice family dinner at the Butchery on Main. Oz apologizes for lashing out at Ally, and she decides to let Oz keep Mr. Guinea. When they arrive home, however, what was a good night takes a turn. smiley face is painted on the door, and Mr. Guinea blows up in the microwave.
Ally crosses the street and enters the neighbors house where she assaults Harrison. She accuses the couple of being responsible for all the wrong that has been done to them, but Meadow is genuinely scared when she hears about the smiley face. Ally escalates matters and threatens to kill them before leaving. Ivy finally reaches her breaking point with Ally, calling her out on her absurd reactions, when Oz points out that the same smiley face is on the side of the Wilton’s house. Instead of warning the couple, however, Ivy and Oz return home. Ally follows behind, only to find mysterious people spraying a green substance on her lawn. When she tries to reveal their faces, she finds smiley faces in the place of where real faces should be.
Meadow is not the only Wilton to play the pinky game with Kai. This time, Harrison plays, and does a better job telling the truth to Kai than his wife. He admits that he wishes Meadow were dead.
When Detective Samuels calls on the Mayfair-Richards home, Ally talks to him with crazy eyes about her conspiracy theory. She’s finally the one that seems to be making some sense and no one is listening. It makes her look even crazier to have make-up smeared down her face.
The conversation is halted by Oz’s scream. His mothers immediately head upstairs to find him closing his laptop. He admits that he got past Ivy’s parental controls as he saw her type in the password once, “Clownz”. Sorry Ivy, but you’re starting to look pretty suspicious here. Ivy and Ally finally convince Oz to reveal what’s on the computer. It is a video of Ally in the bath getting fingered by Winter. Whomp, there it is.
Ivy wastes no time retaliating once they bring their conversation to the hallway and punches Ally in the face. She starts yelling about Ally breaking their family, while Ally seems hung up on the fact that someone planted a camera in their bathroom. Both valid points.
Not willing to stay in the same house as her cheating wife, Ivy prepares Oz to leave with her. Just as they are about to leave, however, police arrive across the street. They exit the house to find Harrison is freaking out and upon seeing her, accuses Ally of murdering Meadow. He woke up covered in Meadow’s blood, Meadow nowhere to be found. While the adults were arguing, Oz returns to the house. His mothers run after him to find him staring at the walls. Walls that are now covered in blood with a bloody smiley symbol on the living room wall.
At this point, it seems as if the cult behind all the murders and strange happenings in this small Michigan town is larger than expected. In fact, it seems almost as if Ally and Oz are the only ones that aren’t part of the cult. With Meadow and Harrison both deferring to Kai, it appears that the blue-haired man might be one of the ring leaders. But then again, there’s also Dr. Vincent and Ivy to think about. Where do they fit? Are they secretly behind it all? And if Ivy is involved, what is it about Ally that makes her want to torture her so much?
With more questions raised in this episode, such as the questionable green substance, it’s easy to wonder where this cult is going, but perhaps the biggest question is; do we really care?
Images courtesy of FX
Outlander Slows Things Down for Episode 2
This week’s Outlander was much slower than last week’s, returning to the steady pace they set in the first few episodes of both seasons 1 and 2. Unlike other shows that use this tactic (*cough* The Walking Dead *cough*), it works in Outlander because of how invested I am in the characters, no matter what they’re doing.
Like last week, this week’s episode divided its time between Jamie in the 18th century and Claire in the 20th. Jamie is at Lallybroch with his family, but he’s a wanted man. The redcoats frequently harass Jenny and Ian, even randomly throwing Ian in the clink in the hopes that they’ll all decide to betray Jamie’s whereabouts. Since they don’t ever really do anything to him, and he seems largely friendly with the soldiers, it’s a fairly empty threat.
Still, it’s dangerous, because in the aftermath of Culloden, being a Scot in Scotland was essentially outlawed. By that I mean clans were no longer allowed to wear their tartans, bagpipes were banned, and Scots weren’t allowed weapons (except I guess what they had to have to have hunt, like a bow and arrow or a knife).
Jamie has gone full-on wild man of the woods, complete with giant beard and long hair. He doesn’t really speak, just brings offerings of excessively large game (seriously, it was huge) and makes crazy eyes at people. Fergus, my dear son, is still in his service, and for all that it’s been 6 years, he’s not that much taller or older. It’s like the Stark kids in reverse.
While Ian’s locked up, Jenny goes into labor a bit early, and her sons Robbie and Jamie see a raven perched on the gate. They tell Fergus that a raven’s bad luck and can mean the death of the baby. The boys found a pistol hidden in the dovecot, so of course they use it to shoot the bird. Because why not!? Pistols aren’t against the law or anything.
The redcoats hear the shot because black powder guns are LOUD, and of course the tenacious captain brings some of his boys around. Unfortunately Jamie chose that moment to come a-visiting, so he’s walking around the house carrying his new nephew when the English show up.
Jamie hides and Jenny tells them the baby died, and while the commander is being semi-respectful, his corporal, a Scot named MacGregor, is a real ass. Ultimately the maid shows up with the pistol and says it was her dead husband’s, and she shot at a raven to scare it away.
The commander says to leave her, she’s no threat, and the soldiers leave. Fergus is giving them the stink eye as they go, and apparently it gives the Scottish corporal the idea to follow him, thinking he’ll lead them to Jamie. He’s wise to their bumbling, however, and he leads them away from Jamie’s cave. He taunts them as Jamie, hiding in the woods, watches in horror.
The soldiers catch Fergus and the corporal, um…chops his hand off with a sword. Which wasn’t nearly as violent and/or bloody as it could have been, thank goodness, because my poor son! As soon as they’re gone, Jamie wraps his stump and carries him back to the house.
Fergus later tells Jamie he’s lucky, because when he first hired him, Jamie swore if Fergus was hurt while in his service, Jamie would keep him for the rest of his days. “With one blow I’ve become a man of leisure,” he says with a grin.
Fergus’s maiming causes Jamie to realize that hiding out isn’t helping anyone. He tells Jenny and Ian they have to turn him in, partly to get the hefty reward money, but also so that the soldiers know once and for all that Jenny’s loyal to the Crown. She isn’t happy about it AT ALL, but she agrees. She sends her maid out to Jamie’s cave with some food, and she helps him shave the beard and cut his hair.
She also takes her dress off and offers him some old-fashioned comfort, which he reluctantly (and tearfully) accepts.
Later Jamie shows up at Lallybroch acting all “Jenny, it’s me after all this time! I certainly haven’t been hiding in a cave in the woods for the past few years! What a random happenstance!” The soldiers are there, of course, and he’s carted off while Jenny watches, crying.
Meanwhile in the future (which is our past, but not AS past as Jamie’s time), Claire is trying to be a full time mom and housewife. If y’all learned anything about Claire the last 2 seasons, you should’ve learned that that would NEVER work. It starts with her fantasizing about Jamie while Frank sleeps next to her, then the two of them having sex while she thinks about Jamie. Poor Frank.
After a dinner party one night she seduces him in front of the fire, but when she won’t open her eyes to look at him, he stops and tells her that when they’re together, he’s with her, but she’s with Jamie. She doesn’t deny it, and after that they go back to being much more distant.
Later Claire enrolls in medical school, and all the little white boys in her class are Shook. But they’re even MORE shook when a Black man walks in. He sits next to Claire and introduces himself to her, and in that moment a beautiful friendship was born.
The episode ends with Claire and Frank crawling into bed to say goodnight. Claire turns off the light and lies down to sleep, and as the camera pulls back we see they’re now sleeping in twin beds. I guess their pretense of returning to their marriage has ended, and they’re staying together mostly for Bree’s sake.
Like I said, this was kind of a slow episode. Not a lot happened, really. It was mostly about Jamie and Claire trying to adjust to their new lives without each other. Jamie is essentially dead inside, a shell of himself, while Claire has Bree to think of.
They both tread water for a time, but eventually realize they have to figure out some way to keep going. Jamie turns himself in to the English because he knows he’s hurting his family and putting them at risk by being a fugitive. Even if they never find him hiding out on Fraser land, they’ll always suspect Jenny and Ian are sheltering him, and one day they may not be so congenial when they cart Ian off to jail.
If I have a criticism of the episode, it’s that Fergus losing his hand—a moment that shocked Jamie back to life, so to speak—lacked some of the punch it was clearly meant to have. Maybe I was just really tired, but my reaction was kinda like, “Oh no my son! Welp. Sucks for him.” I don’t know what they could’ve done differently with it. I certainly didn’t need it to be gorier. I guess it just seemed sort of…sudden? And possibly after Jack Randall’s antics, any old dastardly redcoat just doesn’t really compare. The whole thing was a little rushed in an episode that otherwise took its time.
I’m gonna admit it, y’all: I hate seeing Jamie with another woman! I can deal with Claire with Frank, but Jamie with the serving lady (who was very nice and very brave) had me seeing red. Like, duh he believes Claire’s gone forever, and it’s not like I’m mad at Jamie for seeking comfort with someone else—he needs to move on and get out of his emo phase. But STILL! Logic be damned!!!
I honestly love this show and these characters, so I really could watch them stare at their shoes for an hour, but having said that—I hope next week picks up the pace just a li’l bit. Just a smidge. Especially on Claire’s side, because while yeah I love seeing her make That Face She Makes when men are sexist jerks, I want her to have something more to do than miss Jamie. Medical school and her career should definitely help that issue.
All in all, this was a solid filler episode, and I was glad to see Jenny and my (now one-handed) son Fergus again. Next week we’ll re-meet Sir John Grey, so that should be interesting. Also I wanna see more baby Bree because that is a super cute baby. Like, wow.
Episode Grade: B. It wasn’t as good as last week, but it’s a great show, so it earns some generosity from me. Also all the emotional notes were spot-on.