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We Can Be Heroes, Er Superheroes?

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Supergirl Season 2 Reviews: Episode 10, “We Can Be Heroes”

She’s baaaack! That’s right, Livewire has returned to Supergirl and we couldn’t be more thrilled to see her. We (Gretchen and Elizabeth) think that Livewire is an excellent nemesis for our girl in blue, even if it makes us miss Cat Grant more (*sniff*). Plus we get all the space family feels. And M’gann. Our precious M’gann. And Sanvers fluff.

Awwww

Quick Recap

Training montage with Kara and Mon El (the new DEO has some sweet training facilities); yay Kara getting to be a superhero mentor! Maggie and some fellow officers find some baddies Guardian left in a trash pile, but James got shot taking them down, so Winn tells him it’s time to tell Kara. M’gann has a seizure in her cell, but when J’onn goes to check on her, she screams until the glass shatters and faints. Alex agrees to run tests and J’onn is totes not worried about her okay? Livewire is in therapy—it’s not helping. A guard frees an inmate and they both attack the therapist to get to Livewire. Alex tells J’onn that M’gann is dying psychologically and asks him to do the mind meld to save her, but he refuses. Kara complains about Livewire to James, who advises Kara against letting Mon El help her. They see Livewire attack the NCPD on one of his monitors in his office, only when Kara and Mon El arrive it turns out not to be her after all. It’s the guard and inmate. Kara tells Mon El to protect the cops, but he chooses to help her instead. Thankfully, the Guardian shows up to protect the cops. When he’s knocked out, Kara takes off his helmet to discover James underneath. Cue the awkward confessions. James explains that he was never meant to live in Superman’s shadow, but Kara wants to protect him because he’s human. James points out that Mon El put people in danger and that Kara should not get to decide who gets to be a hero. Kara says she’s going to stop him.

You’re right, Livewire. Mon El’s ‘supersuit’ was rather blah. Why did he have orange tinted glasses?

Back at the DEO, Alex reminds J’onn that M’gann helped him, but he doesn’t want to help her because he might end up forgiving her. Kara confronts Mon El about his recklessness and asks him point blank if he’s doing it because he likes her. He denies it. She goes to find Livewire, who we see in the next shot is strapped down in a chair in some basement with Lab Man. At the DEO, security footage tells them Livewire was captured, not freed, and Winn lies about knowing where she is so he and James can track her down themselves, only Mon El overhears.

J’onn attempts the mind meld with M’gann with Kara and Alex to support him. M’gann is trapped in her memory of the day she broke ranks. J’onn processes her experiences with her, forgives her, and brings her back (cue ugly sobbing). Livewire learns that Lab Man is making copies of her to turn into super soldiers. Guardian shows up to rescue her? Capture her? Mon El joins the fray. Winn calls Kara to rescue the boys, whom Lab Man had taken captive. She rescues the boys and frees Livewire. Livewire and Kara team up (!!) to take down Lab Man and Kara lets Livewire go to spare his life. J’onn threatens to fire Winn if he ever lies again, but not before complimenting him and Guardian. Kara decides she can’t support James and Winn putting themselves in danger, but she won’t stop them. M’gann tells J’onn that White Martians are coming to get her. Mon El confesses his feelings for Kara but understands she doesn’t feel the same way and wants to move on.

Best Quote: “Forgiveness isn’t something you give to somebody who’s hurt you, forgiveness is something that you give to yourself.”—Alex Danvers

Thoughts & Feelings

We’re going to start with our fave Kryptonian puppy. Tonight felt…off. Gretchen’s initial reaction was ‘out of character’. Since when does Kara tell human beings they can’t be heroes? After talking about it, it felt more clear to both of us that what she actually means is that humans can’t be superheroes, as in they are soft, squishy, and mortal. Kara’s dialogue seems to support this theory, but it is just that; we are not in the writers heads, unfortunately. But she did have an “I’m a hero, powers or no” scene last episode, for heaven’s sake. Turning right around to tell James he can’t be a hero because he’s a human didn’t make sense, especially when viewed in the context of the rest of the season.

By the end of the episode she sounds more like what we’d expect. She doesn’t see the need for James and Winn to put themselves in danger when she already saw them as heroes doing what they were doing before. Which is precisely what we’ve been saying this whole time. James’ and Winn’s decision to be superheroes flies in the face of the show’s message that “we can be heroes” without needing to be superheroes. And if James doesn’t want to be the guy behind the desk maybe he should quit Catco so someone else can give it the attention it needs.

At the same time, Kara literally just found out that her two best friends were lying to her for months. She knows what aliens and bad guys they faced. She knows they could have been hurt or killed. Of course she’s going to overreact a little and feel protective. Not to mention that she almost lost J’onn, M’gann, Mon El, and the entire alien population of National City in “Medusa”. And, you know, she lost her planet. Losing people is a sore spot for her, as is people lying to her. Remember dealing with that all of S1? Alex, her mother, J’onn, her father—none of that has gone away. Alex did try to warn James about Kara not taking lying lightly, yet he chose to keep lying anyway. But really, James shouldn’t need to be warned; it’s not like he wasn’t there when all of this was going on in season one. He remembers how Kara reacted. He shouldn’t need Alex to spell it out for him.

As if that weren’t enough emotional struggle for Kara in one day, she gets Mon El confessing his feelings for her. She’s been here before. That pained look on her face (which Elizabeth felt deep in her soul… Like same girl. Same.) was most likely her reliving what happened with Winn in S1 when he said he had feelings for her and she didn’t reciprocate. Girl can’t catch a break. Every single male her age on the show has been a romantic interest. This isn’t entirely surprising, as Kara is a warm, happy, intelligent, beautiful woman who lights up the world like sunlight. But as far as tropes go, this is yet another one that desperately needs to get its sticky fingers off our favorite show. Can we just cool it for a while with the gentlemen suitors? Please. Kara doesn’t need a romantic interest right now. Give her a break from men throwing themselves at her please. And then maybe make Supercorp happen. Or Superwire. Or Superlane. Obviously we have a slight bias here, but we mean this genuinely: we don’t care if the wlw ships never sail, we are just 200% over Kara having to beat off romantic suitors with a stick. Let her live.

Speaking of Mon El, lordy where to even start tonight. He continues to not listen to Kara like a petulant child, even after she tells him multiples times to protect the cops and leave her be. Were this a one time deal, we might be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he’s ‘overcome’ with feelings. But this is a pattern with Mon El. No matter how frequently he professes to care about and for Kara, he refuses to respect her. Because part of respecting her is learning to let her ‘no’ be ‘no’ and her ‘go away’ be ‘go away. He’s not being romantic, he’s being a paternalistic asshole. Then he tries to convince her that him kissing her is all in her head. Yay gaslighting. So loving.

We were hopeful that the final scene would be him coming over to apologize and admit he wasn’t ready. But no, we get yet another scene of a young man word vomiting his feelings onto a clearly uncomfortable Kara. Hats off to Melissa Benoist for nailing that deeply uncomfortable body language; she looks ready to crawl out of her own skin just to get out of the conversation. We struggled to get through this scene the first time through because we were deeply worried it was going to end with a kiss; it was genuinely distressing to watch.

The conversation also entirely misses the point. The issue was never that he lied about kissing her (or lied about remembering, though these are both their own separate issues. Don’t think for a second we are cool with either of these things). It was his lack of respect, his failure to listen to her, his apologies and promises to do better that never amounted to any visible change in his behavior toward her. Those are the things Mon El ought to be apologizing for, in addition to lying. His monologue amounted to “sorry I lied about kissing you and didn’t listen to you, but I like you, so it’s fine. And hey, I know you don’t like me so let’s just move on. Teamwork!” At least we got an awkward high-five out of it.

More awkward that the fist bump last week.

This ‘lol he’s so awkward’ persona and goofy culture clash antics don’t make up for his selfishness, and quite frankly they are getting more grating and unbelievable by the minute. We are both 200% done with this plot that wore out its welcome six episodes ago. We desperately hope this episode is the end of it. Yet again, we dare to dream.

On to the good end of the feels spectrum: J’onn and M’gann. Gretchen has been desperate for this interaction for weeks, and it lived up to all of her expectations. There is so much potential for impact in the story of forgiving someone partly responsible for the death of your race and culture. Our only frustration is that it didn’t get more screentime over the season. Supergirl is about forgiveness and second chances.

Tonight, J’onn faced his anger and hate and it felt honest and true-to-life. His initial resistance to helping her because she’s a war criminal evolves into his reluctant admission that he doesn’t want to share his good memories with her. The mindmeld is an incredibly intimate and vulnerable act. J’onn does not want to open himself up that much with his enemy. But it’s more even than that. The vulnerability goes both ways. She would see him, but he would also see her. And he doesn’t want to see her as a person, someone with the potential for both good and evil.

“I don’t want to forgive her…hate becomes your reason for living when you’ve lost everything that you love. If I find that there was some good in their kind. If I don’t hate her…”

…Then what does he have left? That’s the unfinished sentence. He doesn’t want, or even know how, to give his hate up without losing a piece of himself.

Yet deep down, he already knows that she is not who she thinks she is. He knows that she risked uncovering her own identity to save his life. When prompted by Alex, he begrudgingly admits that he ‘suspects’ the truth of her helping his people on Mars. You’re not fooling us, space dad, you know. Which is what makes this arc so compelling; J’onn is fighting himself, his instincts, his fear, and his very reasonable hatred of the race that committed a genocide of which he is the sole survivor. His resistance is compellingly raw and very real. We’ve both felt this way at some point about people who have hurt us.

It makes his choice to help M’gann that much more moving. His tenderness in reaching out to her while she was reliving the day she broke ranks broke us. He let her be honest, be in pain, be vulnerable with him. She confessed both her greatest act of compassion—saving a Green Martian child—and another that probably causes her great inner turmoil—killing her own people. She’s baring her soul to him, and in that moment, he reaches out to her to bring her back. He could crush her, but he chooses compassion instead. Rather than let the pain and trauma win, he chooses empathy. It’s one of our favorite stories to see told, so excuse us while we go ugly sob in the corner for a while.

Can we also say how triggering it must have been for him to be there? This is literally his worst nightmare. Yet, he willingly stays in a memory that causes himself great pain to help bring her home. J’onn uses pretty classic therapy skills with her, too. He reminds her that this is a memory and they’re safe. He asks her questions and reminds her what is true. Both Sharon Leal and David Harewood act the shit out of their scenes this episode, too. M’gann has so much internalized guilt (ugggh, kill us). Protect M’gann M’orzz and give her happiness 2k17.

That brings us to the Guardian. And hoo boy do we have a lot to say. First off, James has a point about Mon El. Everything he says about Mon El not being heroic, about him being selfish and reckless is absolutely true. And we do feel bad for him that Kara overlooks the Guardian, who could actually be a good team-member for her, in favor of Mon El. Who isn’t. We don’t disagree often on Supergirl, but we do have enough of a difference of opinion on James’ arc to warrant us briefly unfusing to talk about it individually.

***

Gretchen: I’m less vociferous in my dislike of the character. I see it as wasted potential and a glaring example of remarkably poor attention to detail in the writing. There seem to be multiple aims with this arc: 1) give James a superhero journey, and 2) give him an arc that brings him into more contact with the DEO since Catco is being de-emphasized. While I am ambivalent about the first, it could have worked in theory. Maybe. I still can’t decide. There’s too much toxic masculinity wrapped up in it’s execution that I can’t distinguish that from how it could have been done otherwise. The second is a reasonable aim and one that I laud. They’re trying to keep James from being sidelined, though I could think of better ways to have done it.

However, the choice to drag out the Guardian arc to 10 episodes was poor. It dragged the season down and stole valuable time from other important arcs. If they had given us this conversation between Kara and James in episode 4, I would have been much less salty about how this played out. The other poor writing choice was to script James in such a way that he came across as vain, self-aggrandizing, and arrogant. His confession that he did this to help people rings hollow when he’s pitching articles about himself to Snapper. It was entirely in line with the James of S1, but not with his scripting this season.

And that’s why, to me, this is less about hating the character and more about being frustrated with the poor writing choices that led to the character assassination of a character I was emotionally invested in up until I saw where this arc was going. I’m disappointed and frustrated with the writers, not the character. And I do kind of see what they were going for, especially after tonight. That doesn’t make it’s execution not complete shit, though. Because it was. I see what they intended, and they utterly failed to bring it to life for me. I’m not entirely done with him though. There is window of opportunity left for me to salvage his character from it’s assassination, but it’s rapidly closing. Come on writers, do better.

***

Elizabeth: At this point I can’t stand James and I’m counting down the seconds when he’s on my screen. While everything that he says about Mon El is objectively true, the fact that it’s coming from his mouth really kneecaps the impact. Almost everything he says to Kara in this episode is blatantly, ridiculously hypocritical when viewed in the context of his actions this season. Who he is now is completely divergent from who he was last season, and that is nobody’s fault but the writers. They took the character in this direction, and I’m sorry but I have to judge his merits based upon what he does on screen, not the idealistic version of him that can be constructed from his previous season’s characterization.

Even if I give him the benefit of the doubt and go along with the idea that this is how he feels like he can best be a ‘hero’ (and this is canon, guys, he says it outright), it doesn’t change the fact that he lied to Kara every step of the way despite there being no real compelling reason for him to do so. James pushes to have his own stories run by Catco, he bullies Winn and manipulates him into helping him, and he delays telling Kara the truth for episode after episode, even after promising both Alex and Winn he would come clean. He never does come clean. He gets caught, and then still has the audacity to act like he has a leg to stand on.

I know that we don’t want to lose James for a multitude of reasons that we’ve discussed before: MOC protagonist, his season one persona was amazing, his relationship with Kara is interracial, etc. But that James is gone, guys. This James is not a good character. I am furious that they destroyed his character, but that’s what happened, and I don’t know if this can be course corrected. I am feeling that cold rage in Kara’s eyes when her and James had it out in this episode.

Even on a second viewing, I feel the same way: I could not possibly be further away from James’ side of things, and if this is the path he wants to take then I’m not on board. You want to be a hero, James? Then find a venue that doesn’t already have a literal God protecting it along with a perfectly competent police department. Go run with Sara Lance for a while or pack your bags for Gotham, because National City does not need vigilantes.

***

We’re back. Ultimately, the problem isn’t that Kara ‘gets to decide who gets to be a hero.’ Really, the problem is that both characters are using the word ‘hero’ when they actually mean ‘superhero.’ This show used to be very good about making this distinction, but it completely dropped that with this episode and with most of Guardian’s arc. Did we not spend the entire first season and a big part of this one reinforcing over and over again the idea that being a hero has nothing to do with vigilantism and superhuman feats? So why are they conflating this language now? It undermines so much of what this show has stood for for two and a half seasons, and we’d like that to end.

Winn has been a bit of a yoyo personality the last few weeks. He called out James then turned around and teamed back up with him last week. His decision to (once again) lie to Kara so that he and Guardian could take out Livewire came way out of left field, too. We found it profoundly out of character the first time through, to the point that we was wondering if we had accidentally dozed off for a few minutes and missed a major plot beat. Upon second viewing, Winn’s motivation doesn’t seem any clearer. Is there a scene missing here where Winn explains himself? Because as it stands, it makes it seem like he’s mad at Kara and is doing this out of pettiness. Not that he’s necessarily above that, but it seems… unearned and unseeded. Your mileage may vary, but we were left feeling icy cold about this turn of events.

Livewire was pretty awesome, though. Kori may have made Gretchen into a Supergirl/Livewire (Superwire) shipper over the past week (it didn’t take much tbh, the joys of being a multishipper). This episode didn’t help with that at all. We can see them seeding a potential frenemy team up where Livewire helps Kara take down a bigger baddie. Come on, Livewire already has nicknames for Kara. That’s ‘names’ plural. And did you catch Winn’s “maybe she’ll turn all her girlfriends evil again”? We’re taking that as Livewire confirmed sapphic/wlw.

We really appreciate Kara calling her Livewire instead of Leslie, in the end, too. She might not think of Livewire as she perceives herself (as a ‘god’) but she’s willing to meet her partway there and respect her desired nomenclature. She respects Livewire’s new reality, a neat little queer coded interaction that’s even more meaningful in light of Alex’s recent arc. And at least Livewire listened to Kara. Sheesh. She could teach Mon El and Guardian a thing or two about how to communicate.

We got less Sanvers tonight and guess what? That’s just fine. They’re being cute and betting on Kara’s superhero antics. They banter. They got vegan ice cream. Not every episode is going to be focused on them, because there are other characters. Would we rather have Alex’s grossed out vegan ice cream face than see Mon El be a dillweed? 1000%. Maybe next time.

Randomness

  • “Behold ye mighty and despair”, nice Ozymandias quote Winn
  • Maggie and Alex placing bets on Kara’s superheroing is everything
  • The Sanvers lean is so cute.
  • We’re not sure if Kara knows that Maggie knows her secret identity, but we dig the awkward. Please give us Kara going out of her way to keep it secret while Maggie just snerks, and Alex feels bad, but also finds it funny.
  • Is Maggie vegan?
  • Ep 10 of S1 was the episode where Winn confessed his feelings to Kara and she turned him down. Is this an intentional parallel?
  • The “nasty woman” joke made us giggle
  • We wished they had mentioned Cat, just once would have been enough.
  • Curious that Mon El didn’t have an allergic reaction to being that near Guardian’s entirely-made-of-lead suit. Perhaps it has to be in his body?
  • It was really satisfying to see Mon El and The Guardian captured. Really satisfying.
  • We love Livewire’s sass; she has some great one-liners. Chief of which: “Y’know what I love? Little boys who think they can do a better job than the woman who’s an actual superhero.” Preach it.
  • No, Mon El, you are not the other superman.

In Conclusion

Overall, the episode was fine. It had a pretty equal mix of excellent, mediocre, and frustrating things. It’s mostly a filler/set-up episode for next week’s Martian invasion anyway, so we’re not that fussed. Every show has it’s ‘fine’, even a show that’s as overall excellent as Supergirl. The reliable excellence does mean episodes like this stand out a bit more, though. And it wasn’t horrible by any means. Space family is everything. Literally, everything. We’re hoping M’gann is fully team Super now, same with Maggie, who was hanging around the DEO like she belonged there. Cute, domestic Sanvers fluff is such a breath of fresh air when we’re frustrated with the menz on the show. Give us more of Alex and Maggie placing bets on Supergirl and talking about going over to each other’s places.

But the brilliance in the space family parts, and even the little bit of Sanvers cuteness, really shines an exposing spotlight on the rougher parts of the writing. Supergirl has never been a stranger to uneven writing issues, but this episode is probably the strongest example of this dissonance. It’s not bad, but it’s not anywhere close to what the show is capable of. We expect better.

One of the main problems with the writing inconsistency sits with how much Mon El’s storyline clashes with the otherwise subversive and fresh content the rest of the show presents. It feels so odd to have this bland, boring, obnoxious white guy and his trope-filled plot standing next to the Sanvers romance, Lena Luthor’s quest to do good, the space family dynamics, and the complex drama of James’ Guardian plotline. We keep asking ourselves: What is Mon El doing here? What meaningful content does he contribute to the plot and/or the characters that could not be done with another character, and done better?

We said last week that he is dead weight hanging off the plot’s neck, and this week is just more of the same. That ending scene in Kara’s apartment was excruciatingly long and just plain uncomfortable to watch. How many other things would we have loved to have instead of this albatross of a tropey, boring romance? Yes, Kara rejected him, but that may not stick. By God we hope it does, but we have no way of knowing; it could still develop into a real romance. And if it does, the Supergirl team is going to get some angry letters from us.

This is nothing against the actor. He plays the role well, at least. It’s more that the character is tired and bland, not that the actor is bad at playing him. We’ve given Mon El a lot of slack this season, but we are on the bleeding edge of our patience. We nearly had a heart attack when Kara lurched forward a little bit at the end of their conversation as if she might go in for a kiss. While it’s funny to see a ‘Straight Bait’ in the wild, we want it off our favorite show. We feel about as awkward around “Where’s My Hug” Mon El as Kara does. We’re halfway through the season, guys. He had his chance. We’re just over it. We’re so done. Please please please get him off our screens for a while and show us more of the characters we actually like.

Still no mention of Cadmus or the Luthors after “Medusa”. This isn’t the first time Supergirl has dropped a villain thread for a couple episodes to be taken up later (just look at Astra and Non in S1). But it would be nice to know how the Luthor ladies are doing right about now. Sneak previews tell us that the Luthors will be back with a vengeance in a couple of episodes, but of course we want it right now. Like right now. Can we have it beamed directly into our brains? We’d totally sign up for that.

Also, everyone really needs to stop having superhero conversations in public. We’re pretty sure everyone in National City knows who both The Guardian and Supergirl really are but they all pretend they don’t.


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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