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San Junipero and the Power of a Happy Ending




We’ll make heaven a place on earth…

The closing credits of Black Mirror’s “San Junipero” episode triumphantly blared Belinda Carlisle’s seminal 80’s hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” And with good reason. In a year that littered the television and digital platform landscape with the bodies of queer women left and right, “San Junipero” made the choice to be bold. Not only did Black Mirror gift us with a touching, moving story of two women finding each other across space and time and falling in love, not only did they give us an interracial queer relationship, they gave us a happy ending.

And the kicker out of all of that? They buried the gays. The truly amazing twist “San Junipero” gave us was taking the tragic queer death and not only obliterating it, but transforming it into a moment of wild, transcendent joy. And this from a show that never ends happily, a show for which technology is almost always a thing to fear. Instead of fear, technology became the path that brought two aging queer women a chance at happiness not only in their last days on earth, but forever. It’s the literal definition of “…and they lived happily ever after.” Only in the afterlife, so you know, their happy ending isn’t so much an ending as the beginning of their eternity.

Amazingly, that bright, burning moment of triumph for queer women didn’t stop there. Some of you might have heard, but “San Junipero” was nominated for two Emmy Awards this year. For “Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Drama: Charlie Brooker” and “TV Movie.” “San Junipero” swept not one, but both categories.

Let that sink in.

The episode about two interracial queer women who died and had a happily forever after won the most prestigious award available in the United States for television. The Emmys are also one of the most public venues in the US for the celebration of storytelling and its power; queer women could not have asked for a more powerful validation of the beauty and significance of their stories.

We often talk about the importance of stories on the Fandomentals. On why stories matter.

Seeing a story about queer women loving each other, getting their happy ending, and getting to have agency over their lives… that matters. And when those stories are recognized and awarded for their merit, that sends out a powerful message to those in charge. So, writers and showrunners of American media, take note:

We matter. We’re here. We deserve our happy ending.

Image courtesy of Netflix

Kori is an entertainment writer and Managing Editor at the Fandomentals. In her spare time, she is a Buckaroo Banzai enthusiast, lover of Eurovision, and Yanni devotee.



Earn Tries and Fails to Stunt in Atlanta





At this point, anyone who watches Atlanta is used to Earn being treated a bit unfairly. He doesn’t ever really fit in anywhere. People treat him as lesser and take advantage of him. We saw it happen last week with Tracy. He’s a bit of a pushover and people constantly take advantage to crap all over him. Poor Earn. This week, Earn tries to use an influx of cash to stunt on people the way others stunt on him. Let’s just say it doesn’t go very well.

Failed Adventures in Stunting

Through a very upset white mom – who repeats some offensive lyrics she’s upset about right in front of her daughter, despite being upset her daughter heard them to begin with – we learn that Paper Boi has a new single. This new single gives Alfred and Earn a nice pay day. Time to celebrate.

Only Earn decides he’s going to celebrate by throwing money around to come off as a bigger deal than he is. He decides to do this basically only because of a Paper Boi fan stunting on him at the beginning of the episode.

It’s not very often that Earn comes off as a complete idiot, but he does here and then some. I get it; he faces so much shit so often that he saw a chance to dish it back out. Problem is he just isn’t someone capable of faking to make it. He tries to buy VIP tickets at a theater with a hundred-dollar bill, only to be told they don’t take bills that large, then sees an older white guy buy a ticket with one of his own. The usher just walks right over him. He goes to a club and tries to use another hundred (maybe the same one?), only to have the owner call it fake and kick him out. Desperately, Earn rents a limo and heads to the strip club with Alfred and Darius, only to have the DJ call him out and the club snatch his money away with every charge they possibly can.

To cap the night, he finds Michael Vick racing people outside the club and foolishly bets some money of his own on beating Vick.

It’s one thing to see Earn go through hard times as a product of circumstances at least partly out of his control. It’s another to see him inflict the hard times himself. Everything that goes wrong for Earn here happens because he chooses to be a prideful moron. He reeked of toxic masculinity throughout this episode, which is not normal for Earn. One guy hurt his feelings and he wanted to restore them. You can really see it in the way he refuses to let Van pay for the movie tickets instead.

He decided to value his worth based on the money he had on him and ended up looking even more like a fool than usual. You can see how he ends up bouncing back and forth between Van’s house and homelessness. Earn always came off a bit too smart for his circumstances in season 1. Atlanta’s making his failures a bit clearer this season.

Damn if it wasn’t fun in an awkward, cringing kind of way, though. The Michael Vick “race” might be a contender for Atlanta’s best ending scene.

All about That Paper Boi

Meanwhile, Alfred has a better, calmer day that seeded the possibility of even worse news for Earn; the possibility of Paper Boi getting a new manager. Along the way we got another look at Atlanta’s wonderful ability to blend different tones into a scene without anything feeling out of place.

Alfred’s time in the studio with Clark County showed him a different side of the rap game he hasn’t been a part of yet. One with connections to sponsorships, professionalism, and success. I know I mentioned last week how Paper Boi doesn’t appear to be into this for the attention, but the subtitle for this season is “Robbin’ Season”. What better way to live up to that title than having another manager steal Paper Boi from Earn?

I don’t think it is coincidence that Earn looked like such a fool in an episode where Alfred gets a look at proper management. Specifically, Earn looked like a fool trying to fake one image he can’t pull off. Just like he doesn’t seem to have any of the connections or sway to actually manage Paper Boi. He can get him some crappy gigs at radio stations. A better manager would have him raking in more dough for more enjoyable work. I can’t help but think Alfred will realize that soon enough.

Alfred even seemed to deliver a warning like this at the end to Earn. He sees how inadequate Earn currently is and how badly he failed at playing the big shot. Earn had the money to play the big shot but no idea how to actually do it. He dressed in a crappy sport coat with a crappy Coca-Cola shirt and let everyone step all over him. He looked like someone trying to play a role rather than someone who actually belonged in the role.

I can’t imagine Alfred will let Earn slide for much longer. Not when he sees how others conduct business. Earn’s only hope is that Alfred’s distaste for the consequences of greater fame win out over whatever ambitions he has.

It might also help when he sees how scary and fake Clark County and his crew were. Seriously, how does Atlanta manage to be so funny, dramatic, and terrifying, and often from line to line without skipping a beat? I can simultaneously believe that Alfred and Darius both thought of Clark County as a fake and a joke while also thinking he was completely terrifying. I just hope his entourage didn’t actually beat the hell out of that producer.

Final Thoughts

This season has a couple clear themes so far. One revolves around the growing fame of Paper Boi. He and Earn have more money, more fame, and more success than they did last season. However, it’s not playing out like they thought. Earn had money to throw around like he’s never had yet he still didn’t matter. He’s still an awkward dude struggling just to have a life with the mother of his child. Alfred has begun to matter in the Atlanta rap scene, yet it’s bringing him little more than unwanted attention from unwanted people.

Both are stuck in this awkward transition between fame and irrelevancy that so many possibly rappers never move past. It’s why I can’t help but think Earn will lose his job. He can’t take Paper Boi higher, and Paper Boi will need to go higher if he wants to remain relevant. It’s one thing to have a dream, and another to see the reality of the dream. Atlanta has tried to show those downsides a bit.

Of course, the other running theme has been about robbin’ season. Whether it’s literal theft like the season’s opening scene or Earn’s own self-inflicted theft of his newfound managing wealth, Atlanta has managed a clearer, more consistent feel to its second season. I loved the self-contained feel of the first season, but so often interesting things would happen and then be forgotten. The first season was more of a loosely collected series of stories than a connected narrative.

The second season so far has managed to have the entertaining, isolated adventures while also managing a stronger running timeline and set of events. Even if I have questions about how long Earn has suddenly been back in Van’s house. I hope Donald Glover and company keep this up. Atlanta has been really great through three episodes.

Images courtesy of FX

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Marvel Drops a Threatening New Infinity War Trailer





infinity war featured

For just a second there, my excitement for this movie ebbed away. News about the completely uninteresting Black Widow/Hulk romance having a place in the movie made me wonder if Marvel was perhaps going to misstep with their biggest movie yet. Could Infinity War actually end up sucking like Age of Ultron did (in this one writer’s humble opinion)?

Let’s just say my worries vanished somewhere between Wakandan forces riding out to war, Captain America trying to hold Thanos off, and Spider-Man swinging through wreckage in the sky in ways I never imagined I’d see on screen when I was a little kid reading Spidey comics.

Infinity War is going to be massive, the culmination of ten years of the MCU. This trailer tries to establish the stakes of losing to Thanos here. For those who don’t know, Gamora isn’t exaggerating in this trailer. Thanos can literally snap half of existence out of existence with the power of all the Infinity Stones. He’s the kind of villain you need all hands on deck to beat. The entire Avengers team won’t beat him. Somewhere between Thor screaming in pain and Captain America trying to restrain Thanos’s hand, I think this trailer established the threat he poses.

This is a villain built up for a decade, and Infinity War looks poised to deliver on that scope.

It’s almost here, everyone. Who will live? Who will die? What will the MCU look like in the aftermath? Well, we probably have to wait for part two to know the answers to that. You better believe Marvel is looking to make an impact here. Maybe Infinity War won’t be the best movie of the MCU. You better believe it will be the biggest and best event, though.

Best buy your tickets now if you plan on seeing Infinity War when it releases on April 27th.

Images and Video Courtesy of Marvel Studios

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Gotham Reunites its Dynamic Duos




Last time we were in Gotham, Ed’s murderous side was making a return, Bruce seemed ready to give up his drunken nights, and Sophia was having tea with Lee.

We learn this week Sophia doesn’t just want to make good with her sister-in-law. She wants the Narrows to submit, along with a tax. Lee’s willing to kiss the ring, but she knows the people in the Narrows can’t afford a tax. Sophia gives her until the end of the day to give an answer.

Bruce has made his way into the city to reconnect with Alfred, asking him for help. But Alfred doesn’t want anything to do with Bruce. He’s still hurting from being fired like he was just the help.

Elsewhere in the city, Ivy attacks the bar Harvey’s working. He’s not there, but that doesn’t change the fate of the patrons that are there. Jim realizes that Harvey was the target because he was the one to kill her father. They find him at his apartment, but even the threat of Ivy isn’t enough to convince Harvey to work Jim again. He heads off on his own to find her. Using the footage from tapes Ivy sent to news outlets, Jim figures out where Ivy’s been staying. There, he runs into Selina. She was hoping to talk Ivy down. Jim warns her not to engage with her, which means Selina is certainly going to engage with her before the end of the episode.

Lee and Ed are brainstorming to figure out their Sophia problem. Lee’s willing to submit to her, but Ed doesn’t want to give in so easily. He knows there’s something Sophia must want from Lee and they just need to figure out what that is. So he enlists a crackpot team of Gotham’s finest spies, i.e. a bunch of street kids.

Bruce goes to the Siren’s club looking for Selina. After Alfred’s rejection he needs someone to talk to. Selina doesn’t have the time for him, as she’s too busy worrying about Ivy. But she does give him the signature ‘Selina Kyle’ kick in the behind he needs to pull his head out his ass.

Harvey calls Jim with a lead on Ivy, which isn’t suspicious at all considering how resistant he’d been to working with Jim only a short time before. Sure enough, it’s a trap. Ivy has Harvey under her control. She orders Harvey to kill Jim, then himself before she leaves to attend to her other plans.

Jim manages to stall Harvey long enough with some low blow comments to get close enough to knock him out. When he awakes, the toxin has worn off. He remembers enough of what she said to figure out she’s targeting Gotham’s wealthy at an event. Back at the GCPD, they learn the Wayne foundation is having an event that evening. Jim gears up with his force, but Harvey stays behind, still raw from Ivy controlling him.

At the event, Bruce is giving the opening remarks when Alfred walks in. Bruce stops reading the prepared speech in front of him and starts speaking from the heart. His speech becomes one to Alfred, an apology and admittance to what he means to him. It’s the start of a reconciliation. But when he speaks to Alfred directly, he reminds Bruce he’s more than the darkness he sees in himself. It’s still not the thing Bruce is ready to hear and he walks off, leaving Alfred. As he does, Ivy takes the stage with some armed thugs under her control in tow. Alfred, ever the hero, tries to take her out, but he gets knocked out instead.

Jim arrives just moments after she’s taken her first victim. He and the GCPD get into a firefight with Ivy’s intoxicated thugs. Bruce sees Alfred in danger and grabs the tactical gear of a passed out thug to get to him. When Bruce gets to him Alfred implores him, he can do more than just help him.

Bruce does dispatch some of the attackers, but he and Jim cross paths. He’s wearing the gear of Ivy’s men and he has a gun he just took from an attacker. Jim takes the small leap to assume he’s with the others and shoots him. The bullet hits his bulletproof vest and Bruce flees from Gordon, vanishing by the time Jim gets to the rooftop.

Back at Ivy’s, Selina has been waiting for her. She’s not there to reason anymore. Selina destroys the last of the Lazarus water. Their fight comes to a stalemate with Selina ready to kill Ivy if she tries to kill her. Ivy cuts her losses and leaves with one last warning to Selina, don’t get in the way again.

While trying to deal their Sophia problem, Ed’s also been getting more visits from the Riddler. His hallucinations have progressed outside his reflections. The Riddler now follows him around, taunting him with Lee’s death. He almost tells Lee at one point, but instead, he tries to deal with it himself. The only way he knows how to silence the Riddler is by silencing himself, permanently. He gets as far as having a noose around his neck before the Riddler offers an alternative that doesn’t involve them dying. So, he turns himself over to Arkham, preferring being imprisoned there than risk hurting Lee. But the Riddler has one more riddle for Ed. The real reason he wanted to end up in Arkham was to get close to Oswald. He calls Ed ‘Riddler’ and it’s enough to bring the personality to the surface.

Sophia and Lee meet in the Narrows. Lee tries to bargain with the dirt she has on Jim but Sophia isn’t having it. They aren’t having a meeting; it’s an ambush. Sophia’s men kill Lee’s and Sophia smashes Lee’s hand with a hammer herself.  Sophia’s now the uncontested Queen of all of Gotham.

Back at the manor, Alfred is treating Bruce’s wounds, just like old times. Bruce’s actions at the fundraiser proved what his words couldn’t. He has changed and he is truly ready for help. And Alfred’s back to stay.

At the GCPD Jim does the thing he’s been trying to do for weeks. He comes clean to Harvey. He admits Sophia used him and she’s behind the Pyg. He’s also resolved to take her down.

All the Dynamic Duos are Back

Reunion brings back some of Gotham’s best pairings while establishing new rivalries. Bruce and Alfred reconciling was enviable. But I do appreciate Bruce still had a little bit of resistance in him when Alfred told him he was more than his darkness. Bruce has been trying to drown himself for the best part of the season. One fever induced future vision quest isn’t going to completely rid him the trauma of killing Ra’s Al Ghul. It was ultimately his own actions that proved Alfred’s words. Bruce chooses to put himself in danger for the sake of protecting others. It didn’t erase his darkness, just proved he could still move forward in spite of it.

Jim and Harvey’s reunion is a wake-up call for both men. Harvey realizes his lone wolf act will get him killed faster than anything else. Jim, on the other hand finally admits he betrayed Harvey for the position of Captain.

The Riddler and the Penguin’s reunion may have been the briefest of the episode but it holds so much promise. Their partnership the first time around was one of the most interesting times for both characters. They’ve always played off each other better as allies than enemies.

In a reverse of Ed and Oswald, Ivy and Selina facing off against each other as former friends brought out interesting dynamics for them both. Ivy’s villainy still feels a bit generic compared to what I’m used to on Gotham. Killing Gotham’s wealthy because they’re not eco-friendly is a bit hard to get behind. Gotham, in general, doesn’t seem like the greenest city so where is she going to stop? But her encounter with Selina did give me shades of what I’ve been wanting from her. A reconnection to her former self, even if they’re enemies now.

It also shows Selina’s genuinely good heart. She cares deeply, even if she has a coarse way of showing it. She’s been a dealt a shit hand by the city most of her life, but she destroys the Lazarus water because it’s too dangerous.

It’s clear at this point Sophia has become Jim’s opponent for this season. It feels like she could be the main antagonist for the season, but Ivy and Jerome prevent that from being a certainty right now. She was horrifically ruthless this episode, and this is after she orchestrated the murder of her father.  It was hard seeing Lee get knocked down so far. Especially after she’d come into her own as the leader of Narrows. She tried to play by Gotham’s rules, just a little too late.

Next time promises more fun with duos, a Cat and Bat team up, some antics with the Riddler and Penguin, and a Jim and Sophia confrontation.

Images courtesy of Fox

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