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Sherlock Channels The Best And Worst Of Fanfiction

Barbara

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Sherlock brought out the second episode of its sixth season, “The Lying Detective”, on Sunday. While the previous one was bad, this was actually a good piece of television. It makes its many issues all the more jarring.

Recap

John has a new therapist, and while in session, he neglects to tell her he has hallucinations of his dead wife. He does discuss how he’s sure he wouldn’t have missed Sherlock trying to contact him if he had done so. Just at that moment, a flashy sports car appears in front of the door, pursued by the police.

We cut to a meeting room where Mr. Smith, a millionaire and philanthropist (no word on genius, but probably a playboy too), tells his most trusted friends and his daughter Faith that he needs to make a confession to them, but that he’ll drug them so that they forget it. The confession is that he needs to kill someone.

His daughter seems to remember at least bits of that meeting. The next we see is her visiting Sherlock, telling him all about it. Her whole life, she says, was changed by one word when her father told them whom he needed to kill.

Sherlock sends her away at first, but then he deduces she’s about to kill herself and he stops her and takes a walk with her, accepting her case. During the entire progress of their walk, Mycroft is monitoring them from a helicopter

We cut back to John at the therapist’s, where Mrs. Hudson gets out of the flashy car and emotionally blackmails him into promising to help Sherlock. Then she opens the trunk to reveal the detective there. He is high as a kite once again, but tells John that Mr. Smith is a serial killer. He has made the same announcement on his blog, too. About the same time, Mr. Smith calls to ask John and Sherlock for lunch.

John agrees to go on the condition that Sherlock will be examined by Molly Hooper and that it’ll be confirmed he’s really on drugs again and so does actually need his help. Molly confirms that he’s “using again” and that at the rate he’s going, he has got weeks to live. Sherlock is unperturbed, and off to lunch they go.

It turns out that Mr. Smith has turned Sherlock’s announcement into a publicity stunt, and he is now promoting his cereals with saying he’s a “cereal killer”. They go to the hospital Mr. Smith is financing. There is a lot of creepy dialogue. Sherlock pickpockets Mr. Smith’s phone to send a text to his daughter, and later he announces she would meet them and that he told her Mr. Smith confessed. When the woman arrives, however, it turns out it’s not the same one who visited Sherlock, which throws him a little, to the point that he starts hallucinating, is hysterical and attempts to stab Mr. Smith with a scalpel, only to be restrained and beaten by John.

Next he’s to be found lying in a hospital bed when Mr. Smith comes in. Sherlock asks the madman to kill him by increasing the dosage of whatever drug he’s on. In “about an hour”, he should be dead. Mr. Smith uses the remaining time to confess.

Meanwhile in Sherlock’s flat, Mycroft is trying to figure out what drove Sherlock over the edge when John comes. They discover the Miss me? CD Mary left Sherlock. Playing the message, John sees that Mary told Sherlock to put himself in danger because if he does, John would come to rescue him, while he would never accept help.

Seeing this, John rushes tot he hospital in Mrs. Hudson’s car, where he saves Sherlock just in time, as Mr. Smith ran out of patience and was suffocating the detective.

It turns out his confession was recorded, so that’s one case solved, and in fact, Mr. Smith just goes on confessing once he’s at the police station. It’s a hobby of his, apparently.

John and Sherlock sit together and make up, in a way. John tells Sherlock he no longer blames him for Mary’s death. He also discovers that Irene Adler is still texting Sherlock and starts to bully him into answering her texts because everybody needs a romantic relationship. They apparently make you a better person, like Mary did to him. Sherlock begins to tell him that he’s plenty good enough even alone, and John confesses – mostly to the Mary inside his head – that he cheated on her. In the next second, however, he says it was only ever text messages, which Sherlock assures him that is not a big deal and that he asks too much of himself. He admits that, yes, even he sometimes replies to Irene’s messages.

They hug.

We get a scene of Lady Smallwood effectively asking Mycroft out on a date.

Alone for a moment, Sherlock finds the paper Mr. Smith’s “daughter” left at his flat and realizes he didn’t hallucinate her. He shines ultraviolet light at the paper and it reveals the message “Miss Me?”

And to close with, there is a scene with John at his therapist again, only it turns out that the therapist is actually the same woman he’s been “cheating” on Mary with and who visited Sherlock as Faith. She is Sherlock’s and Mycroft’s secret sister, The East Wind, who then fires a bullet at John.

No, I’m not making this up.

Review

So, this is still not a detective story. We know who the killer was from the start, and there wasn’t even any mystery of how he did it, because there are no particular cases. But whatever this is, it’s more Sherlock than the previous episode was, so that’s a good thing.

It worked, too, emotionally and as far as characters go. The grief was handled relatively well from my point of view, managing to convey some improvement without pretending that everything would be fine again in a few weeks. John saying “it’s shit, but it is what it is” sums up their approach pretty well, and it was believable both in and out of universe.

The reconciliation between John and Sherlock was equally well done. As a touch-averse person, I’m not usually a fan of people who don’t hug suddenly hugging and that being used to express deeply felt emotion. These scenes make me uncomfortable. But here, somehow, it worked. John and Sherlock are close enough friends and it’s an emotionally enough fraught situation that even I felt the hug was needed. It hit every note it should have.

In relation to this, let me call out one great line:

By saving my life, she conferred a value on it. It is a currency I do not know how to spend.
– Sherlock, about Mary

Thematically, though, we’re starting to go in circles a little. This is the third season where Sherlock sacrifices himself for his friends in some way. Even the way he does it, in fact, are similar. The reason why the sacrifice was necessary was a little different this time at least, but still, we’re going over a ground we have already covered, and I fear that once again, it will not end up costing Sherlock anything, making the whole theme of sacrifice rather moot.

Related to this is the depiction of drug abuse. It’s a good thing they show its dangers, I suppose, but on the other hand, what is this supposed to mean about long-term effects? Withdrawal? Is Sherlock going to be perfectly fine the moment he stops actively using drugs? I fear he will, which is why I say the supposed sacrifice will end up costing him nothing. Let’s hope they will surprise me.

While “The Six Thatchers” were a series of false notes in characterization, this didn’t really have many issues in that department. Perhaps the biggest one would be Mycroft. Once again, he oscillates between omnipotent and impotent. He follows Sherlock with a helicopter when he goes for a walk, but he lets him lie in the hospital of the man Sherlock has just accused of being a serial killer and then tried to kill. And when John calls him to tell him there’s danger, he’s all “no, he’s fine”. I know the story needed John to save him, but then invent a way that works better.

One of the good ways “The Lying Detective” channels fanfiction, as I claim in the title, is what they do with Mrs. Hudson. The way they take her background, which was just casually mentioned until now, and bring it a bit to the foreground. Mrs. Hudson drives a flashy car at top speed while being on the phone and, as she tells John, “I own property in central London.” What did you think, silly? “I’m not your housekeeper”, I’m the widow of a drug lord.

It was fantastic seeing a bit of the lady who got her husband executed and then inherited the money. Though I have to say, if she did not know about Sherlock’s plan to help John and really in all honesty emotionally manipulated a man whose wife was recently deceased to help Sherlock, well, that’s cold even for a drug boss.

And speaking of her being cold, Mrs. Hudson called Mycroft a reptile – does she know what he did to his sister, whatever it was? Because apart from possibly that, I can’t recall anything that would deserve such vitriol. Especially as she was speaking to him so fondly in season three. Sure, that guy misuses government resources, but as she so kindly pointed out, she’s the widow of a drug lord who lives off his money after she got him executed. She’s hardly one to judge, but her behaviour towards him seems to be determined entirely at random. Especially as Mycroft, however emotionally constipated he might be, is worried about his brother at the moment. So could she lay off with the invectives?

But enough about Mrs. Hudson. As for the other female characters, Mary remains as awesome in death as she was alive, but Molly was much less satisfying. She is there in her usual role, only to help and worry. Give us back the Molly who slapped Sherlock for abusing drugs!

The last female character worth a mention (though the nurse was great!) is the therapist, AKA Eurus. First, and related to her, it’s worth a moment to comment on the revelation that John’s “cheating” was only texts. It’s lovely they didn’t have John act completely out of character. That’s oen problem of the previous episode gone. On the other hand, that puts us back to where he is actually perfect. Why can’t we just stick with a middle ground and have him have realistic faults?

And then, well. What is it with this show and heteronormativity? Sherlock was coded as aromantic asexual for the entirety of the first season, then his fascination with Irene Adler was clearly meant to be something out of his experience. Even the “relationship” he had in season three was just to get to Magnussen. But now we have John telling him that the only way to be a good person, to be happy, is in a romantic relationship? For real?

If that argument was “if that is what you want, you shouldn’t let some stupid pose prevent yourself”, then fine. But romantic relationships are not a magical spell to make people better! In fact, I know a few couples who make each other’s faults worse, and while I suppose it can prevent you from becoming too selfish, so can friendship or adopting a child or any number of things. Seriously.

And Mycroft, who was definitely coded as aromantic (and also perhaps gay, or at least about two lines in the show seemed to hint that way), is seen being asked out by Lady Smallwood, because God forbid two people of the opposite sex just work together as colleagues, right?

But I will take it all back if it turns out their secret sister is a trans woman.

It would fit perfectly. Mycroft, as much as I love him, looks like exactly the sort of person who would refuse to accept his sister’s gender and insist on calling her by her dead name – thus Sherrinford. (And yes, Euros is masculine too, but bear with me.)

It’s the only way to save the twist with the sister, which looks very much like a desire to cheaply shock and only made me think of bad fanfictions with self-insert original characters in the form of a Holmes sister who is even smarter than both brothers combined and, of course, extremely pretty, and her name is Mary Sue.

Her jab at John about automatically assuming she was a brother makes no sense as it stands, too, because Mycroft literally said “it makes no difference Sherlock is my brother, it didn’t matter the last time.” See? An explicit mention of brother. The original logic behind Sherrinford Holmes – the first deduced existence of a third sibling – needed a brother too, since it was the supposition that in a gentry family, the eldest brother would inherit the country property and take care of it, and since Mycroft obviously wasn’t doing that, there had to be another one. Whatever way you look at it, trans Eurus is the only one that makes sense. Now give her to me!

There is one more plot issue I can’t help to mention. Sherlock deduces Mr. Smith is a serial killer by Faith’s statement that it was one word, reasoning that names are always two words, so the word must have been “anyone”. In actual reality, it could have been a lot of other words. Sherlock himself offers a case, Napoleon, and “Faith” offers another, “Elvis.” There are countless other examples, and then it could have been a name of someone so familiar to her the first name would have worked. Or, it could have been a pronoun, like “you.”

All of these are really obvious, and there is no way Sherlock wouldn’t have thought of them. They just wanted him to make the deduction (and twist the expectation that it would be one particular person) and didn’t quite know how. I know this sounds like a nitpick, but it broke my immersion quite substantially while watching.

Speaking of subverting expectation, most of this episode was predictable (or stupidly twisting in one case), there was one point that caught me unawares. When Mrs. Hudson came in to ask John to help Sherlock, I actually had a moment of fury to think that John’s wife died but it’s all going to be about Sherlock again, before I realized what Sherlock was doing. So, good job there.

I wonder, though, is it a problem that the way to save John was to make everything about Sherlock again? It works inside the story, it’s in character for John, but on the meta level, the narrative teaches Sherlock very little. He already did this kind of self-sacrifice in “His Last Vow”. To have some actual further development, he would need to live and change. There are some small signs of this being in the works. Let’s see if the show follows through.

Back to more general issues, Sherlock seems to have a particular affinity for serial killers with no motives. They are bad for detective stories, but then again, like I said, this was not a detective story. Still, compare the one room from “A Study In Pink” with this one and I think you will see all the ways the tax driver was better. The episodes did not try to cramp so much in back then, didn’t try to be so shocking, and the show was better for it.

The taxi driver also didn’t have that much of a Bond villain flare. It was one of the best things about him, what an unassuming guy he was. This is another way in which “The Lying Detective” seems to be channelling bad fanfiction – drugs that addle your memory? Really? And everyone in the room just going along with it?

The villain of this piece simply did nothing for me. I had no interest in him, he was ridiculous at times, and when the tediousness of him was finally over, I was glad. We could get back to the interpersonal stuff, which was actually good in this episode.

I know I spend much more time speaking about the bad than about the good, but it was a well made bit of television, enjoyable to watch, well-paced and with mostly believable characters. It makes me feel all the more sorry about the issues I can’t help pointing out.


All images courtesy of BBC.

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The Horrifying and Fascinating Tales of Mindhunter

Corentin

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

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

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

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

Obligatory warnings

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

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

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

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

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

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

The classic subject

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

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

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

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

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

80% of the show, basically

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

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

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

Even the best of them all.

Ed Kemper

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

The charming beast, really

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

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

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

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

The true point

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

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

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

The dream team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some more nitpicks and conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


Images courtesy of Netflix

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

Sarah

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

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

Thus was born the infamous GIF that rocked the world.

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

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

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

Master Bath Face™

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

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

Laundry Kweens

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

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

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

Fear Of Commitment Face™

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

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

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

Bye Birbigs

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

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

Until next week, kweens!


Images Courtesy of Comedy Central

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

Matthew

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

“Return of the Mack”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Helen Hunt”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Images Courtesy of The CW

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