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Supergirl Lives And We Survived the Hiatus

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Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 9, “Supergirl Lives”

The hiatus is over! Supergirl is back! You have no idea how ready we were for this. Elizabeth and Gretchen were practically vibrating from excitement all day yesterday. Our happy, hopeful space family is back, and we’re so freaking happy we’re not going to do a long introduction. They don’t need one anyway.

Quick Recap

We know, Alex, and it’s glorious.

Silly jewel thieves in a black van think that a rocket launcher will stop Supergirl (they didn’t see the crossover, apparently), and The Guardian and Winn pick up a few stragglers. Winn is injured during the struggle, and is very shaken from the experience. Kara is in a funk because she’s not helping enough people. She invites Alex over to celebrate, but Alex can’t go because SHE HAS A GIRLFRIEND. MAGGIE IS WEARING ALEX’S T-SHIRT BECAUSE SHE SLEPT OVER AT ALEX’S APARTMENT. ALEX IS SUPER HAPPY AND ADORABLE. THEY JOKE ABOUT CALLING IN SICK. (Is this fanfic? Are we dreaming? Someone send help because we might not be breathing anymore). Kara and James bicker over who really saved the day while Snapper looks grumpy (We’re so glad he’s back. We missed CatCo). A woman comes in asking for help finding her missing teenage daughter Izzy. Mon El is a (bad) bartender who dishes out (bad) advice.

Maggie helps Kara with the missing person’s case (omg, we’re so on board with this). Menacing Lab Coat Dude takes an unsuspecting young man through a portal while Roulette oversees it all. Kara teases Alex about how happy she is. Kara and Mon El track down a lead; Mon El is super awkward (he should not be allowed to talk). Lab Coat turns out to be an alien, and Kara decides to go through the portal to track down Izzy and the other missing people. Mon El joins her on the other side of the portal, on a planet with a red sun, and the portal closes before they can leave. Sucks to be Kryptonian/Daxamite right about now.

Winn justifiably blows up at James since the latter seems more concerned with fighting baddies than that Winn got hurt and could have been killed on their last mission. Kara and Mon El are captured. Alex and the DEO discover the portal; Kara and Mon El’s captor turns out to be a friendly alien who tells them they’re on a slaving planet called Maldoria. Kara and Mon El turn themselves in to find the human prisoners only to come face to face with Roulette. Alex freaks out and blames herself for Kara being missing (like a good Martell); the Dominators buy Kara and her fellow slaves. Winn admits he’s scared to go out after being hurt helping the Guardian, and Alex gives him a pep talk. Mon El is annoyed by Kara being hopeful, but Kara gives him a dressing down about being a hero for others’ sake. She then shows him how it’s done by refusing to give ground before the guards.

Oh Winn. We love you.

The slaves revolt and lock Roulette and Lab Coat in the cell. Winn geeks out about being in space, while Alex and the DEO storm slaver’s moon city. Kara lead the way out and the Dominator protects Mon El from being harmed and bows to him. Winn beats up an alien and mans the portal while Kara blows up an alien ship and frees Izzy after Alex tosses a sun bomb. The friendly alien, Jo, comes along with them. Kara stands up to Snapper. Winn teams back up with James. Alex opens up to Maggie about feeling responsible and never being happy. MAGGIE KNOWS ABOUT SUPERGIRL BECAUSE SHE KNOWS ALEX WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW SHE ONLY GETS TORN UP ABOUT KARA. (Seriously, we’re dead.) Mon El decides he wants to be a superhero. Creepy ladies from “Medusa” show up looking for Mon El on slaver’s moon, and they shoot Lab Coat after he tells them Mon El is on Earth.

Best Quote:

Alex: “And then Supergirl went missing and I just, I blew a gasket and…”

Maggie: “Because Supergirl’s your sister.”

Alex: “What are you talking about?”

Maggie: “Come on. Look, I know you. The only person you get that torn up over is Kara. Plus, the glasses don’t help.”

Alex: “I always said that too. It’s kind of ridiculous.”

Thoughts & Feelings

Our wonderful Kryptonian puppy is back to helping people, and it was 95% worth the wait (guess who the 5% is. We dare you.). Who else would have a mild existential crisis because they stopped too many bank robberies instead of helping actual people? We really appreciate that the writers chose to make her next story one about mothers and daughters. Her belief that there is nothing more important than a mother finding her daughter fits into her character arc and is significant given her history. She has a complicated relationship with her biological mother, which Season 1 intimately explored. In the wake of finding out her father’s involvement in bio weapons last episode, it is no small thing to have Kara grasping onto a mother/daughter bond. It’s a mark of how far she’s come since wrestling with Alura In-Ze’s mixed legacy in S1.

Plus, the theme fits more broadly into the importance of mother/daughter relationships on the show. Alura/Kara, Eliza/Alex, Cat/Katherine, Supergirl has never shied away from exploring mother/daughter bonds, both positive and negative. Putting one at the center of a human trafficking investigation fits within the broader focus on female relationships. It also highlights the tendency to undermine female concerns in our society, both in situations like these and in the medical field for example. Kara goes out of her way to emphasize the importance of a mother’s concern for her daughter in the face of Snapper’s grumpy indifference. They’re a dime a dozen to a media mogul, not a story. Only Kara forces him to see that it is a story worth exploring. She follows her heart, and he’s damn proud of her for it, though he’d never let her see.

This is Gretchen’s new favorite gif.

It’s also great seeing Kara be such a supportive sister. (She’s honestly the biggest Sanvers shipper of us all, and it’s freaking adorable.) Alex has spent so much time supporting Kara’s life and choices in S1 and S2, that seeing Kara giggle over Alex having a girlfriend and Alex having post ‘sick morning’ glow makes us as giddy as Alex. It’s a huge step in her arc that you can only appreciate if you’ve seen all of S1. Side note, this is the first time sex has come up in a context where Kara is not only not horrified but actually happy. We have a feeling she’d probably not freak out if she walked in on Sanvers the way she did with Winn/Siobhan and Mon El/Miss Tessmacher, to be honest. Kara is so happy for Alex, you guys. Seriously.

Also, we really, really love it when normal humans stand up for Supergirl. It happened in Season 1 and it happened again tonight. It’s beautiful. If there is a superhero trope that will bring us to instant sobs, it’s this one. Ugh. So good.

Now onto the 5% we told you to guess about: Mon El. For all those out there tempted to talk about Mon El’s ‘learning how to be a hero arc’, we’re not all that into it. Specifically, we’re not super happy with the implication that Kara (a coded minority/refugee character) has to suffer so that Privileged McWhitebread Mon El can learn how to be a decent person. We’re glad Kara might finally get a chance to be the mentor she missed out on being with Kal. That’s awesome. Yay, Kara! But when too much focus is put on Mon El ‘learning how to be a hero’, we honestly can’t avoid the implication that Kara’s suffering was the immediate catalyst, and that makes us uncomfortable, especially when you consider what a banal, kind of awful person Mon El is.

Mon El spends the majority of his time being either useless, sexist, otherwise douchey, awkward, or all four. And he’s not awkward in a fun way either because it usually is connected to him being sexist or douchey. Are we really supposed to find it cute that Mon El doesn’t know how to take a hint and refuses to listen to Kara telling him to buzz off? It’s actually kind of stalker-y. She rightly points out that his refusal to listen to her cut them off from the DEO when she told him to go get help. And he blithely dismisses her frustration with a “Welp, too late now”. Are we supposed to be charmed by the fact that his contribution to Kara’s very interesting story about visiting other planets was a gross comment about how the magic crystal planet was a great place to take a girl and get in her pants? We can’t even with this.

Did we also mention he’s kind of useless? Sure, he knocks down an alien that was going to jump Supergirl. We’ll give him that. Then again, maybe we won’t because the only reason he was there in the first place was because he ignored Kara’s direct order to go get Alex and the DEO. What else did he contribute this episode? Nothing. The lazy ass took his second day off of work (who does that?). He refuses to listen to Kara more than once. He tells her to stay out of trouble (what?) and then shoves that in her face again when they end up in prison. When she tries to inspire the prisoners, he tells her to stop being hopeful because not helping people staying safe is better. He then stands by as she gets tasered and saved by the others. Mon El is one of the most useless characters on the show, and we might forgive him that if he weren’t such an entitled dillweed who doesn’t understand the words “no” and “get help”. That’s not ‘Goofus’, that’s ‘dickwad’.

Fine, we’ll say something nice about him. He’s the designated “I have a bad feeling about this” character this episode, which we liked. We appreciate when at least one characters says “yeah, maybe don’t go there”. It’s a nice trope. Not enough to justify having so much Mon El, but we want to prove we can appreciate a Mon El scene if he’s not being useless or douchey.

We also need to mention that Daxam had slaves, which Mon El acknowledges, so Krypton had at least some legitimate reason to feel snooty about them that’s not prejudice/culture clash. Based on other things Mon El has said about this home planet, the implication seems to be that slavery funded the partying ways of the upper classes on Daxam. Yes, Mon El also said he disagreed with it, but you can totally disagree with something verbally while doing precisely jack all to help fix the problem, or worse participate in it because ‘that’s just our culture’ or ‘that’s just how things are.’ Remember that this is also the guy who found it perfectly reasonable to allow a woman to do all his work for him because she “wanted to please him”. Which is to say, that he’s not a paragon of virtue for not believing people should be treated as chattel. In fact, everything else we know about him seems to imply the exact opposite.

Let’s take a few seconds to remind everyone that Mon El is the prince of Daxam (or, at least, all the clues point that way, and there were a lot of clues this episode). He is an authority figure with an incredible amount of power. Him saying ‘I don’t agree with slavery’ becomes even more of a hollow statement than at face value, because we know he would be one of the few people on his planet and in his culture who could do something about it. Obviously an abolition movement cannot be launched in a weekend, but a paltry denial of support for slavery just isn’t enough from this character for us to think of him as a remotely good person. As we stated above, his treatment of women on earth and his general demeanor doesn’t really support his assertion that he has a problem with servitude if it benefits him. He’s a lazy, dumb, directionless, self-centered, sexist pig. Elizabeth has a few more choice words for him but she’s trying to cut down on the swearing in the new year.

Trying being the operative word.

If it feels like we’re being a little unnecessarily harsh here, good. Elizabeth has previously been willing to give him a chance, especially in the first four episodes of the season where he was reasonably benign. If this mentorship arc had started five episodes ago when they had first seeded it, maybe we’d despise his character less. But he is, in every conceivable way, a terrible and selfish person. He doesn’t deserve to fetch Kara’s coffee, let alone work at her side along with real heroes like Alex, Maggie and J’onn.

Basically what we’re saying is we can’t wait for Mon El’s lead allergy to make a second appearance so they can lock him in the phantom zone far away from our darling Kara Danvers. He is storytelling dead weight hanging off the neck of this show and he needs a hail mary course correction or he needs to go.

On to the joyfest happy gaysplosion that was Sanvers. Happy. Sanvers. Times. Like, we can’t underscore enough just how important it is that we got so many of the things we got: 1) Alex says she has a girlfriend, (as does Kara) and the word ‘girlfriend’ is being used with wild abandon! 2) reference to sex/sleeping over, 3) Maggie in Alex’s shirt, 4) Alex and Maggie get to be happy, 5) they joke about calling in sick (and then call in sick), 6) Alex had an after-sex glow that Kara noticed and was happy for her about. It’s like every single m/f romcom trope come to life. Either that or we were transported into fanfic territory, which isn’t the first time we’ve felt this way about Sanvers. Ali Adler and the rest of the writing team really know how to cater to their wlw audience by giving them what they never thought they’d see on screen. Also, Gretchen needs to say that she and Kori totally called domestic Sanvers. *high five*

Alex “Never Misses a day of Work” Danvers wants to call in sick.

If we had to keep turning around in overwhelming joy before the hiatus, this week’s episode sent us hiding under blankets. We’re not quite sure what it is we’re feeling, but boy is there a lot of it. Joy? Validation? Hope? Comfort? Inspiration? We’re going with ‘all of the above.’ It’s overwhelming to watch because it’s all so natural, and it now exists in genre fiction, not just in media that is specifically made for us. It is also still a dominant arc within the show, commanding more screen time in half a season than most wlw romances get in the full run of a show.

We’ve talked before about how the scripting and acting of the Sanvers scenes is really exposing, and this week’s episode doubled down on that. It’s a good kind of exposing, a validating kind, but it is still really new and overwhelming to watch. Our hope is that this becomes normal enough that it is no longer quite so… ‘much’ to watch emotionally. It is, and always has been, a very true-to-life depiction of an adult wlw romance with a predominantly happy tone. We’re just not used to it, is all. We hope to get used to it going forward this year!

While the domestic bliss is wonderful, it’s short-lived. Alex completely shame spirals out of it once Kara goes missing, but that’s not all that surprising. She’s new to being a wlw, hasn’t been in a relationship in over two years, and has a shit ton of baggage about protecting Kara from her childhood. This isn’t a sign that they’re doomed or going to break up, it’s a normal hurdle for these two women, especially with Alex’s history. It felt very much like a normal (and inevitable) bump in the road for these two. Like several other factors of this relationship, we totally called it, and we’re glad it’s being handled so quickly rather than being obnoxiously dragged out.

We do love that Alex calls out the fear every wlw has that if they’re happy for a second, their world will fall apart. Real talk folks, the scene were Alex talks about how she’s always felt so responsible and that whenever she did something for herself, it blew up in her face? Gretchen feels this deeply in her soul. Up until this past year, that was exactly what life felt like. It’s too real, and such a normal feeling when you’ve had enormous responsibility and maturity thrust on you coupled with a need to focus on someone else’s well being. Yes, life happens and nothing stays happy forever, but when you’re not used to acknowledging yourself or your own happiness, that first Bad Thing™ that happens once you do so can feel like karma. And the easiest thing to do is call it inevitable and run away because you’re Doomed and Can Never Be Happy.

Too. Real.

Elizabeth feels this deeply as well, especially with the feeling that the second you allow yourself to be happy, the rug is going to get yanked out from under you. When you are someone with this state of mind, it is incredibly difficult to just relax and feel safe. It burrows under your skin and quietly works to become a self-fulfilling prophecy, leading you to make exactly the same impulsive mistake that Alex made. It’s hard to watch in its realness, but wonderfully done. It’s probably also why watching the happy scenes was so difficult for both of us. It feels unreal (in a good way).

And all of this is incredibly difficult to emotionally navigate, even before you start adding in how fragile wlw relationships can feel, especially if you’re new to them. There’s an ephemerality to them, a fear that they’re going to end badly (gee I wonder why). We can’t fault Alex for her fear that Kara disappearing was the world punishing her for focusing on herself for once, especially given her family baggage. We also can’t fault her for the unspoken fear that Maggie might end the relationship because of the Kara situation and Alex’s lack of forthrightness about Kara being Supergirl.

We’d also like to take a minute to praise the DC gods that Maggie figured out Kara/Supergirl. She’s a motherfreaking detective. We would have been annoyed if she didn’t get it. Also? It saves Alex the struggle that James had in Season 1 about trying to forcibly out Kara to simplify his love life with Lucy.

That being said we are hoping for a quick scene where Maggie pulls Kara aside and lets her know, woman to woman, that she figured it out and that she will keep that secret safe. It’s a small thing, but we’d say it’s necessary to avoid ambiguity in the future.

Back to Sanvers. You know who else we can’t fault? Maggie. Since we first met her on the show, she has been broken up with and called all sorts of names. She’s also made it clear that she’s had other difficult relationships in the past. We honestly can’t fault her for being overly cautious about Alex, especially about Alex pushing her away for no specified reason. Maggie literally just got out of a relationship that ended with the other women calling her ‘borderline sociopathic.’ If your last girlfriend says she never wants to see you again, then your current girlfriend says “she can’t do this now”, thinking a breakup is imminent isn’t unreasonable. Especially if said current girlfriend is new to the wlw dating arena. Maggie, true to form, turtles up over it, and is very clearly bracing herself for the inevitable. Her tone of voice went from hot to cold real quick, and it sent Elizabeth into a shipping panic for the last third of the episode until the fight was resolved. Call us paranoid, but we have good reason to be.

All that to say, we’re willing to give Maggie the benefit of the doubt and understand that the situation she’s in is difficult. There’s no right or wrong here, and we’re glad the show didn’t try to paint it that way. These women have their own baggage they’re bringing to the relationship and they’re working through it like adults: talking about it and being honest. We hope we get more Maggie Sawyer backstory after this. It’s desperately needed.

Also, that hug after they make up? So intimate. Even more intimate than kissing, we would argue. The show does a very good job of teasing out the precise type of physical connection required for an emotional moment. Not just with Sanvers, either; Kara and Alex’s interactions are most notably wonderful in this way. But the hug between Alex and Maggie, once again, feels so real, and a part of that is probably helped by the fact that they’ve kissed onscreen a few times. The hug is used in addition to more ‘traditional’ romantic queues, not as a substitute. This is actually sort of new territory for genre fiction wlw couples; we can’t wait to see where it goes next.

The Guardian was a minor arc this episode, and mostly focused on Winn, which was nice for a change. We’re so glad he got a chance to call James out and express his fear of getting hurt. As the guy in the suit (and a large, muscular man), James doesn’t understand that being a superhero can be frightening because it’s dangerous. Winn experiences that danger first hand, calls out James, then gets a chance to face his fears with Alex and the DEO. And geek out on another planet. Like, J’onn’s “Martians can’t go to Maldoria because of air quality reasons” is an obvious plot device, but we don’t mind so long as it benefits nerdy Winn. He’s a precious dork. Also a terrible liar. No way anyone believed he was mugged.

James continues to disappoint with the execution of his arc. We get what the writers are going for, in theory, but in practice, it’s executed almost as poorly as Mon El’s. The elephant in the room is how he finds time to run CatCo and be a superhero when Cat Grant slept 3 hours and her day still left little room for going to parties, much less staying up late fighting crime. The unintended implication is that James is better at her job than she is, which is…both wrong and very frustrating. Anyway, James is using his position as head of CatCo not to help people or spread hope (like Cat did), but to shove The Guardian stories in Snapper Carr’s face. He’s using his position of authority to rep himself. This is gross. He seems to care more about the glory than about helping people, which is even more pronounced when Winn calls him out for coming to praise himself instead of check on Winn’s health.

Again, we get what they’re trying to do with James, but it feels off tonally. He’s too entitled about it, too vain. He’s too focused on himself instead of other people. But maybe that’s the point? He and Mon El acting as foils of each other’s ‘hero’s journey’ as they each learn how they’ve prioritized themselves? We don’t know. Maybe they’ll go that route. It could work. Only if the writers do, it would feel like James was being sacrificed to service Mon El’s arc, which we’re already leery of with Kara and Mon El. It’s unpleasant to feel like a white male character’s arc is being centralized over a woman and a black man, especially when some of the producers keep pushing Mon El as this big, important, meaningful character we should care about. You know who we already cared about? James and Kara.

Randomness

  • This is Alex’s shirt. Maggie is wearing it. We’re dead.

    Alex owns an orange shirt that says Hello Sunshine on it. This is a fantastic piece of information to have.

  • Melissa Benoist has really started nailing the wirework, especially her landings. They look fantastic.
  • Snapper has his own version of the ‘Pick Two’ Conundrum: Coffee, Danish, Five Minutes Peace and Quiet. We desperately need more of him in our lives.
  • Roulette in that red dress. Damn. We haven’t seen the last of her maybe? (We sure as hell hope not).
  • Alex said she has a girlfriend. ACK.
  • Why did Mon El find it necessary to correct himself when he said ‘Gods?’ We feel like there is a piece of worldbuilding missing here.
  • Do humans have powers on red sun planets? Like reverse Kryptonians? That would be cool.
  • Winn is the king of sci-fi references this episode with both Stargate and Star Trek (the red shirts). He’s such a fucking nerd. It’s the best.
  • Winn x Alex is brotp
  • Fist bumps aren’t really romantic chemistry. Just saying.
  • Elizabeth also has a ‘snitching crinkle’ between her eyes.
  • A+ Zoolander reference (“I’ve got the black lung”). Alex is such a nerd.
  • Can we all appreciate that Maggie’s “Always happy to help a Danvers” may have been a sex joke?
  • The portable sun was f*cking amazing.
  • “Now you’re thinking in portals!” See, this is how you do referential nerd humor. Make it plot relevant and have it delivered from a character who believably understands the joke. Don’t just mash together ‘nerd words’ into alphabet soup and put a laugh track over it.
  • The Thanagarian Snare Beast joke is a nod to the infamous Superman Lives script editing fiasco that Kevin Smith was involved in a number of years ago. If you have never heard the story of the Superman movie starring Nic Cage that thankfully died on the vine and never saw the light of day, please treat yo’self to part one and part two.

In Conclusion

We should probably mention that no one brought up the holes in reality from “Medusa”, nor did Kara talk at all about going to another dimension to fight Dominators, only to find them slaving in her own dimension. Kind of weird, but we’re not entirely surprised that such a massive crossover event caused some wonkiness in the plot. Elizabeth did not notice the plot holes, shockingly, as she is usually the obsessive frame-by-framer type, which is once again a testament to Supergirl’s level of audience immersion. Supergirl was The Fandomentals’ 2016 Show of the Year, and it is continuing to live up to that legacy in 2017. We eagerly anticipate where our favorite show takes us next.

Hopefully with more giddy Danvers sisters.

Tune in next week for the return of Livewire!


Images Courtesy of the CW

When not working on her degree or at her actual job, Elizabeth pursues her true passion of complaining at great length about pop culture on the internet. She serves as a Managing Editor for The Fandomentals. You can find her on Tumblr @ohemgeelizabeth

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine Should Let Rosa Date Gina

Megan

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Gina and Rosa

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.

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.

Holt and Kevin marry each other as quickly as possible.

(Source: tumblr)

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

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The Neighbors from Hell

Kristen Roche

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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.

Closing Thoughts

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

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Outlander Slows Things Down for Episode 2

Meg

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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.

Recap

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.

For real, Bran’s like 25 and Fergus is still just 14.

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.

Noooo, my wee angry son!!

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.

“YOU got into Harvard Medical School?”
“What, like it’s hard?”

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.

Review

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!!!

“No cage could compare to the one I’ve been living in!” *cues “Welcome to the Black Parade”*

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.


Images curtesy of Starz

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