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Troublesome Implications on the Hydrazine Trail

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The 100 Review Season 4, Episode 6 “We Will Rise”

*sigh* I was hopeful after last week. The pacing and tension had ratcheted up due to the destruction of Arkadia. Jaha and Jasper had disappeared into the background. Much to my delight given that I want to scream at them to shut up whenever they start talking.

Absurd as it was, a game of idiot ball and telepathy annoyed me more than they angered me. This week, The 100 dropped the idiot ball but picked up the implication grenades. And boy do they have an arsenal.

Nope, they’re Racist and Sexist Implication Grenades.

Content Warning: This review discusses physical beating and previous major character death, as depicted on the show.

What Happened

This episode makes up for the dearth of Jaha and Jasper last week by opening up with a scene where both survey the wreckage of Arkadia. Jasper thinks Jaha needs to cheer up and embrace his nihilistic ways instead of being hopeful for humanity’s survival. Jasper quotes Dr. Seuss (yes, that Dr. Seuss) to prove his point. Ilian is in hiding (good choice, dude), but a mob of angry Skaikru rush in to beat him to death. Kane saves Ilian with his righteous rage. And a gun (oh, Kane, never change).

In Becca’s Lab, Raven runs simulations for getting the rocket to space while Murphy weighs in with snark since she keeps failing the mission. She has another headache, but refuses Murphy’s offer to get Abby. Apparently more of Arkadia survived the ginormous explosion than expected, because Clarke has a room with her drawings of Lexa on the wall that she can stare at (awww). Behind her Niylah lays in her (their?) bed. She tells Clarke she needs to rest, but also that Lexa would be proud of her. Clarke asks Niylah to stay in Arkadia to ensure she gets the nightblood cure; Niylah agrees. They kiss, followed by:

Clarke: (ʘ‿ʘ)ノ✿ “I need to save the world; hold my flower.”

Niylah: ✿\(。-_-。) “Kick ass, baby, I got yo flower.”

Clarke & Co plan to transport the remaining hydrazine to the island to fuel Raven’s rocket. Kane wants to go, but Clarke tells him he needs to stay and lead Arkadia. Octavia wakes up in the medical ward, and she’s back to being mad at Bellamy about Lincoln. In the yard, Monty expounds upon how volatile hydrazine is to reinforce the danger of their mission. (But it still doesn’t explain how the hydrazine survived Arkadia blowing up…)

Back at Becca’s lab, Raven takes her frustration with the failed simulations out on Murphy with her fists. Luna steps in and calms Raven with deep breathing and a soothing mantra. Sick of Raven’s temper, Murphy dubs Luna the new “Raven-sitter”.

On the Hydrazine Trail, Clarke reaches out to Bellamy about Octavia needing more time to forgive him. He doesn’t feel like talking. They come upon a group of Trikru refugees, and Clarke stops to help. Because she’s Clarke and that’s why I love her. Unfortunately, a wandering Trikru child spots Azgeda in the back of the truck, so Clarke, Bellamy, & Co have to make a getaway, only to be stymied by a river that Murphy failed to tell them about (uh, sure, because that makes sense). Bellamy and Roan take the rover to find a ford while Clarke stays behind to guard the cargo with Roan’s personal guard.

Back at Becca’s lab, Luna interrupts Murphy…practicing dirty Grounder pick up lines? She gets philosophical with Murphy about his self hatred, opening up about being a natblida and killing her own brother. She believes he can find peace like she did. He’s as dismissive as we expect from Murphy. In Arkadia, Niylah helps Octavia with physical therapy, then goes to find Ilian’s guards, leaving Octavia to threaten Ilian.

On the Hydrazine Trail, Roan and Bellamy can’t get in touch with Clarke. They head back to find a dead Azgeda guard and the truck missing. Thankfully, Roan has Plot Advancing Telepathy powers this episode so he knows that Trikru stole it to get to Polis.

Back in Arkadia, Niylah gets Monty’s help to protect Ilian while Jasper drinks and some Arkadian rando talks about Ilian committing ‘hate crimes’ against the Arkadians. Jaha joins Jasper in drinking. Monty urges him to intervene, since the people listen to him (WHY? HE’S A WAR CRIMINAL), and throws shade about how Wells would be disappointed in him. He then goes to get Kane. Good job, Monty.

Back to the lab again, where Raven can’t figure out how to land the rocket in the simulation. Luna and Murphy inspire her to control crash into the water.

Roan and Bellamy get ambushed by Trikru on the Hydrazine Trail, because Bellamy refuses to listen to Roan. Roan realized his previous Plot Advancing Telepathy was wrong, and has a new vision that tells him his men took the truck. Kane and Monty lock down the medical bay in Arkadia to protect Ilian. Embracing her darkness, Octavia lets the mob in and they drag Ilian away.

Roan and Bellamy happen upon the truck carrying the hydrazine in a conveniently placed large meadow. Turns out his men betrayed him to take the hydrazine for themselves and took Clarke hostage. Roan and one of his men have a battle on top of highly volatile rocket fuel barrels without blowing them up. Somehow… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Clarke just manages to stop the truck from running into the rover. Whew.

Octavia leads the mob out into the yard at Arkadia to kill Ilian. An alarm sounds for black rain, and Kane talks her down by graphically describing Lincoln’s death and comparing Octavia to Pike, while we have to rewatch Lincoln’s death in the background (fuck you). Octavia leaves in tears; Jaha cuts Ilian loose and tells him to run, leading to the weirdest non-sequitur ever as Jaha says the name of the episode (“From the ashes we will rise”).

What even is context?

Back on the Hydrazine Trail, Clarke builds up Roan’s self esteem as king of Azgeda, then encourages Bellamy about his sister. Do either of them ask Clarke how she’s doing leading everyone through all of this or how she might be feeling? Nope. Of course not. Because Clarke exists to make the menz feel better about their lives and take shit from them if they’re feeling upset. Anyway, they reach the ocean only for Roan to discover that one of the barrels of highly volatile rocket fuel was hit with a Trikru arrow and leaked out all over the road (and presumably the truck) but without blowing up.

Back in Becca’s lab, Raven finally succeeds in the simulation (even though it tells her she failed with only 15% damage…okay), but only by using every drop of rocket fuel. Her high is soon dampened when Murphy arrives with the news that Clarke and Co. lost a barrel on the way. Raven has a seizure.

So…

Let’s get the easy things out of the way. Arkadia is a mess and not just because it blew up last episode. Actually, it’s the fact that we watched it blow up that’s the problem. Arkadia was a literal inferno last week. Fire pouring out of the main doors, smoke everywhere. We watched part of the ring crash into the main building, ffs. Opening the episode with Ilian in Arkadia, then Clarke in her bedroom was jarring, to say the least. There’s so little interruption (and zero explanation at first), that it’s almost as if the raging inferno that lasted two on-screen minutes last week never happened.

Scratch that. Monty does explain that water, heat, and lights are either out or limited. But basically the giant explosion Octavia said would ‘blow up Arkadia’ actually only caused minor damage. Just enough damage, in fact, for it not to be a viable shelter from the apocalypse. But not enough to actually inconvenience the living situation or set design. Go figure.

I just can’t with the plot holes this season.

It’s still less absurd than hydrazine’s property of Plot Convenient Volatility. This substance is so volatile you can’t jostle without it blowing up in your face (as Raven has reminded us almost every week since 4×02). Yet somehow, 10 barrels of the stuff survived the massive Arkadian explosion.

Monty’s monologue about the dangers of Clarke and Bellamy’s mission to get the fuel to Raven may heighten the tension of the episode, but sound absurd when viewed with the Arkadian explosion in the background. That inferno last week really must have been mostly light and smoke, because the show would like us to believe that a fuel so explosive that a minor bump in a moving truck would cause it to go boom survived an explosion big enough to take out a significant chunk of Arkadia (though it didn’t actually…). Wouldn’t such an explosion shake the ground significantly more than a pot hole?

That’s not to mention how inconsistently the hydrazine was treated during the transportation process. Again, Monty tells Clarke that hitting too large of a rock could cause the barrels to explode. Yet Roan and a guard have a knife fight on top of them with zero problems. At the end of the episode, Roan finds an arrow sticking out of one of the barrels. How did it not explode when the arrow hit it?

How the hydrazine leaked at all is a quandary all its own. The arrow shaft is still sticking out of the barrel, meaning it’s jammed in there pretty tight. The hydrazine ought not to be able to leak out at all, much less at a fast enough rate to empty the entire barrel. And that’s assuming it can leak upward because that arrow was several inches above the bottom of the barrel. It should not have been entirely empty. Much less empty enough for Roan to chuck it around without it going boom. And if this leaked all over the truck and ground, why did it not explode at some point?

Hydrazine must be magical, because it’s ability to be both volatile and stable when necessary for the plot is astounding.

This gif is so useful.

Frustratingly, were it not for how inconsistently the Magical McGuffin were treated, this wouldn’t be a bad plot. The pacing is really good. In fact, the pacing of the last three episodes has been right up there with some of the best episodes in S2-3. Yes, it relied a bit too much upon plot convenience and Roan’s ever-changing telepathy, but at least it wasn’t idiot ball. Bellamy was a bit of a num-nuts, but not in a way that was inconsistent with his character. He’s not always the sharpest knife in the drawer where Grounders are concerned (to put it mildly).

Anyway, I will say that I appreciate the woman loving woman vibes this episode. They haven’t completely deleted Lexa from the show, which was a concern of mine entering this season. It doesn’t make up for or erase the terrible choices made last year, but it is a good deal better than the writers pretending that Clexa never happened, as they kind of did with 3B. We actually get to see Clarke grieving her lover while still trying to save the day! Good job. Extra points for Clarke saving the picture she drew and pinning it on the wall.

Niylarke was a delightful surprise. Too much so, in my opinion. I’m going to say something that some people may not like, which is that I don’t think the show set up the renewal of this relationship at all. Last week, we had a single scene of awkward tension. Clarke seemed to want to speak to Niylah, but couldn’t bring herself to. This week, they’ve clearly just had sex. Where is the build up? Are we supposed to assume they’ve been fucking this whole time? So why was Clarke so hesitant last episode, like she had a nervous crush and not a girlfriend? And if they just renewed their relationship, why did we not get to see the build? Did the writers not think it was important to give us a scene of them deciding to renew their relationship?

That being said, I do appreciate Niylah being supportive and honoring Clarke’s love for Lexa. She’s not needy, nor does she have any illusions about where Clarke is right now. Niylah recognizes Clarke’s grief and has no expectations of her. It’s great to see Clarke’s love for Lexa being honored even as the show makes space for Clarke to find comfort (and maybe something more, eventually) with someone else she already had an established relationship with.

I can’t help but feel a level of pandering, so I’m reserving judgment. But still, it was handled well for what we got even if it came way out of the blue based on their interactions last episode. At least it’s a supportive, known, seemingly healthy relationship for where Clarke is now. Also, Niylah is one of the few characters who doesn’t consistently yell at Clarke.

Nevertheless, the lack of buildup for Niylarke reinforces my impression from last week about how all over the place the writing is this season. What seems to make sense on the surface gives way with the slightest pressure. Characters assert things, events happen, but in hindsight, you can’t quite decipher how the show got from point A to point B other than it happened off screen. Or, in the case of character motivations and behavior, we have to assume explanations not in evidence.

Worse, the plot of most of the first five episodes is basically moot at this point. I’m scratching my head trying to figure out what 2×01-2×05 added to the plot other than spacing out the season (filler), and propping up Bellamy. The past 4 episodes could have been condensed to 10 minutes of screen time to establish the nightblood cure and nothing would have changed at all. Ilian’s plot serves only to destroy Arkadia as a viable shelter and push Octavia over the edge. Neither of which would have been necessary at the start of this season given where S3 ended. Cut Ilian’s entire plot and skip straight from S3 to this episode and you lose nothing.

Bellamy’s field trips and the rotating game of ‘let’s blame Clarke’ were likewise useless other than to continue the gendered implications inherent in how the show treats male and female leaders. The only plot worth telling thus far is the nightblood one, and it could have been done in less than half of an episode. Even Octavia’s ‘assassin arc’ amounted to little more than gratuitous fanservice. And an absurd display of plot armor. Other than some ‘cool’ murders and the nightblood cure arc, what would this season have missed if it had started with this episode? Very little, I think.

In fact, Octavia’s characterization suffers because of the Polis and Arkadia arcs this season. At the end of S3, she killed Pike out of revenge and was all set to rampage on out of Polis. It’s what I expected given the tease of her ‘dark arc’ this past summer. Only when this season opened, we instead get a cool, collected, and detached Octavia acting as Roan’s fixer. All her rage, her bitterness, her barely contained control over her violent impulses against Bellamy for participating in Lincoln’s death? Gone. She literally never even says Lincoln’s name. Instead, she kills random dudes to help Roan stay on the throne, as cool as a cucumber.

She’s dark yes, but chillingly so. She was detached, rational, and deadly efficient rather than the borderline berserker we saw in the S3 finale. She could have noped right on out of Polis in her grief and rage, but she chooses to stay and keep Roan in charge? Other than the plot, Octavia has little reason to stay in Polis in the premiere.

Hell, she even talked and worked with Bellamy in Polis without all the cold shoulder and barely concealed bitterness. Whence, then, this sudden renewal of her anger about Lincoln? Don’t get me wrong, I think it actually makes more sense than her cold, assassin arc. But why now? Where was this for 5 episodes? Her cold shoulder to Bellamy in the medical bay is what I expected in the premiere, not 5 episodes later after she’s demonstrated a much more level-headed and non-grief focused arc.

The most I can say is that losing Arkadia as a chance to survive after almost dying to save people made her snap. But I have to read between the lines to see that. And it doesn’t fully explain her sudden return to being fixated on her grief over Lincoln, at least not fully. Especially after her lover’s death was all but buried beneath her “Badass Skairipa Assassin arc”.

If the show had kept an element of grief as an undertone to her assassin arc, I would be more able to accept her behavior now as still connected to the near bloodlust from last season. But the assassin arc really doesn’t fit tonally given that Lincoln hasn’t been a focus of her psychology at all this season. Thus, the time gap actually diminishes the emotive power of her grief and darkness. Her behavior makes no sense after 5 episodes without Lincoln being mentioned. We have to assume reasons behind her behavior in Polis that aren’t fully explicated on screen.

And Kane comparing Octavia to Pike? Fuck that shit. Shut up Kane. His speech made yet another false equivalency between a female character and a male villain. Pike was a grown ass man, a war criminal, and a bigoted, colonialist assshole. Octavia is a grieving teenage girl who lost the love of her life in a gruesome way and then found out she, and every one else, probably won’t survive the apocalypse. One of these things is not like the other.

First Clarke/Jaha, now Octavia/Pike. What’s worse is that Kane is equating Octavia with the man who literally murdered the love of her life (who, again, is a war criminal). AND DID WE REALLY NEED TO REWATCH LINCOLN’S DEATH. Come on. That was a triggering death for a lot of people. Even if they decided to make the ridiculous correlation between Octavia and Pike, they could have done it without replaying Lincoln’s death in the background. Killing off a submissive black male character with a gun to the head as he kneeled, in chains, in the mud was gratuitous last season. Replaying it in the background while Kane compares a grieving teenage girl to a bigoted mass murderer? Fuck you.

Speaking of fuck you: Raven. Not fuck Raven, fuck the show for how it treats her. She’s having the same arc for the third time (or is it the fourth?). I’m disgusted with how the show reduces this powerful, intelligent, strong woman of color to physical suffering and taking her anger out on others. This is bullshit. Dear The 100 writers, your drama cannot be built on the backs of women and people of color like Lincoln and Raven. In a single episode they exploited an already problematic death of a person of color (Lincoln) and submitted a woman of color to yet more physical suffering. They also made her physically violent. I’m sick of it.

I’m also sick of jackhole Murphy (who I admittedly kind of love for his honest selfishness and snark) being the white boy victim of choice for violent/villanous people of color (Raven, Pike, Jaha) and characters like the Grounders who are coded as indigenous peoples. The implications are gross, especially since it’s a pattern.

It doesn’t have to be this way! This is a show that makes a decent attempt at diversity, and has since its inception. But, it fails to understand how their diverse characters’ arcs and interactions play out in the culture of the audience. A woman of color facing repeated physical suffering and turning violent has implications. As does the gruesome death of a man of color and the exploitation of that death to turn his grieving lover into the equivalent of a villain who slaughtered hundreds of people.

I’m not saying that characters from marginalized groups cannot suffer, die, or face hardships. But ffs, at least think about the racist and sexist implications for a character like Raven suffering even more physical pain and then beating up a white male character who has already been the victim of violence from another character of color. She could have screamed at him instead, or screamed and broken something. Or, I don’t know, just gotten angry without becoming violent?

That’s not the end of the problematic gendered implications for Raven either. Raven’s arc is also really infantilizing. Murphy’s snide “Raven-sitter” remark diminishes her to her violent emotional outbursts. Though probably unintentional, such an attitude toward a female character plays into gendered tropes about the irrationality of emotional women. It’s as bad in it’s own way as Eliza Taylor begging Rothenberg not to have her take her clothes off, only to have her once again half naked on our screens. Albeit brief, the scene still violates what were Taylor’s express wishes last summer. This show really doesn’t know how to treat it’s female characters with respect despite it’s loud proclamations of how ‘strong’ they are.

One final implication grenade; I hope they cool it with the hate crime language. Having a white male talking about a character played by a person of color (Chai Hanson, who plays Ilian, is mixed race Thai/Australian) also coded as indigenous, while using the term ‘hate crime’ is…icky. Please never show an angry mob of white people trying to kill a character of color for a ‘hate crime’ he supposedly committed that wasn’t a hate crime at all. Shows don’t exist in a vacuum, even if they do occur in space.

Tonight’s Pseudo-Profound Assertion: “I don’t think she hates you for that as much as you hate yourself”.—Sorry, Luna, I’m pretty sure Raven hates Murphy more than he hates himself.

Bits & Bobs

  • Lexa count: 1 (+ pictures)
  • Lincoln count: 2 (+ gratuitous use of death scene)
  • Death count: 2 Grounders, one played by a POC
  • “If you never did you should, these things are fun and fun is good.”– Thanks for making Dr. Seuss Grimdark, Jasper. How TF does Jasper even know Dr. Seuss? And why did Dr. Seuss need to be dragged into this mess?
  • Why didn’t Raven apologize to Murphy?
  • Niylarke! (called it)
  • Wanheda seems to be a term of endearment now? That’s cool.
  • The Desert of No Survivors from S2 is still missing. At least they’re consistent?
  • I’m starting to think that Raven can only have two handlers at once. Last week was Abby/Jackson (I accidentally called him Sinclair at first…my brain was tired), this week was Murphy/Luna.
  • Wait…where is Emori? And Echo?
  • Luna x Raven …I ship it. #SeaMechanic

Working Theories

Could Be Cool: Sea Mechanic. Man, Raven is clearly my fandom bicycle for this show.

Wouldn’t Surprise Me: Raven is totally going to die, you guys.

Total Crack: Raven gets a happy ending with someone she loves and never has physical pain or suffering ever again. She dies at a ripe old age of natural causes.

Have more theories? Head on over to the forum!


Images Courtesy of The CW

Bi, she/her. Gretchen is a Managing Editor for the Fandomentals. An unabashed nerdy fangirl and aspiring sci/fi and fantasy author, she has opinions about things like media, representation, and ethics in storytelling.

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Television

PSA From South Park: Be More Careful When Tweeting While President

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Content warning for the topic of suicide.

Since the airing of Season 20, Trey Parker and Matt Stone hinted at staying away from a certain aspect of political satire. After last season’s serial narrative faced, well, a minor inconvenience if I can be as reductive as possible as far as story-building goes, I think we all felt a bit burnt out. In many ways we can’t find the showrunners at fault. I still had my fair share of laughs last season, but nonetheless Season 20 did suffer from a great amount of narrative fatigue, incongruity, and many other issues that the showrunners are actually pretty open about. After last week’s episode ended (ironically not with a serial “open concept,” but a concrete ending sealed with a hysterical and irreverent lesson about how “as long as the superficial things in our life are in tact, our problems will simply go away”) I was pleasantly surprised and fully on board for this new season.

I know Parker & Stone have made general comments stating they would be focusing less on politics, but really, how can they when seemingly all our current cultural relevance consists of nothing but politics? You can’t just ignore all this insanity happening all over the world no matter how hard you try, and darn it if that’s not the perfect theme for this episode, “Put it Down.” 

This week’s issues: North Korea, Phone Addiction and “Suicide at SkeWwl”

We open with Tweek performing a tune to the school about all his fears concerning President Garrison casually instigating a nuclear war with North Korea. Cartman and the boys tell Craig to “get a hold of him because he’s freaking everybody out at skewwwl.” Men aren’t supposed to express themselves emotionally, Craig! Gay or straight, you just have to “sack up,” as they say and stop bothering everyone with those “fears” and “anxieties”. This nicely foreshadows and directly parallels Cartman’s B plot as he himself attempts to freak everybody out at skewl.

You see, Eric Cartman is deep in an emotionally manipulative, abusive relationship. I mean he’s doing the abuse and manipulation of course, and this week he’s having Heidi take him back after a breakup by calling her and threatening to kill himself. Now, do I think kids committing suicide over the pains of youthful heartbreak is funny? Nope. But I sure as hell burst out laughing while the gang played Cartman’s wallowy and fabricated voicemail aloud and called him out for using suicide threats as an emotionally manipulative spectacle.  

It would appear Cartmen’s arc this season is going to comment on an entirely different brand of “poisonous boyfriend you hope your friend can escape from.” Cartmen’s Season 20 arc saw him as the overbearing and patronizing boyfriend—idolizing Heidi, fawning over her with compliments and oozing everyone’s favorite brand of bro-feminism until he felt threatened upon realizing that Heidi was a being of her own. When it came to light that Heidi really did possess the potential for all those qualities he had built her up to have, he immediately switched over to the “weiners out” philosophy and convinced himself that yes, women were planning to enslave men on Mars and milk us for our semen. Man, the election results really did mess Season 20’s whole narrative up, huh? But I digress…

Look, obviously South Park isn’t suggesting that anyone who is suffering from suicidal thoughts is just some selfish brat desperate for attention and should be dismissed like Cartmen; quite the contrary. Suicide is just the newest vehicle for Cartmen to channel his sociopathic victimhood complex. Poor Heidi…I don’t see her getting out of this relationship anytime soon.  

So Cartmen plans to raise awareness for suicide—not for students that may be experiencing suicidal thoughts and may need outreach—more along the lines of wanting attention so that everyone can pity him and see what a terrible girlfriend Heidi is. To what end he wants to take these threats of suicide, we don’t know for sure, but unfortunately (for him) he has to compete with “distracted driving awareness week” hogging all the attention.    

Tweek & Craig Are Still Gay

I can understand when people are insulted with the implications of  the whole “Tweek and Craig are gay now because peer pressure,” but what I find fascinating is that if you take this stand-alone episode in a vacuum, you can compare it to so many of the recent depictions of gay men in recent pop-culture and, with a few exceptions, not miss a beat. Sure it’s pretty shallow and insulting to have your only LGBTQ+ couple have come into existence out of a joke, but I think that’s more or less Matt & Trey’s point. South Park has always been about the characters solving problems in the most warped, superficial way possible so they don’t have to deal with real issues.

On a meta/Doylist level, Matt & Trey are two happily straight men who quite honestly wouldn’t know the first thing about the intimate dynamics of a young gay couple, but they see television culture “doing the gay thing” so to speak, and so they “keep up with the times” in the most South Park way they can. Having Tweek and Craig awkwardly refer to one another as “baby” and “honey” is just so bad that it’s good. South Park is very aware that people don’t “choose to be gay for convenience sake,” so what do they do in Season 19? The town tells Tweek and Craig that they are gay in order to parade them around as progressive tokens. They aren’t proud of Tweek and Craig at all, they’re proud of themselves for being so tolerant.  

“If this relationship stays canonical I’d be sooOo happy.”

This episode though, despite taking the opportunity to make lowbrow jokes whenever it can, deals with Tweek and Craig’s relationship in a wonderfully honest way. They are defiantly still the same characters that they always were and that’s absolutely the point. They just happen to be gay.

So Craig is doing all he can to help calm Tweek down, who is convinced that the Koreans are coming to kill him after President Garrison puts him on blast for sending them cupcakes.

“I know that kid Tweek, he’s f***ing with you North Korea, get a clue.”

This is a difficult thing for Craig to deal with as he is such an overly calm and awkward individual. He thinks Tweek wants him to solve his problem for him, so he does what most of us might do to slap a band-aide on it: go buy some trendy piece of banal, consumable plastic in the form of a fidget spinner and hope that fixes our sweetheart’s problem. And when that doesn’t work: blame them for being emotional!

“Tweak doesn’t want help, he just wants to overreact.”

Speaking of overreacting, Cartman has now channeled his desperate need for attention into a full-on production.

“My girlfriend is messed up, all I want to do is help her…I’m suffocating, drowning in sorrow, I’m gonna kill myself, probably around 2:30 tomorrow…”

The song he sings is the best kind of cringe-worthy and classic Cartman. His diluted fantasy is of course that he’ll rally the whole school into professing how much they “don’t want him to die,” while at the same time blaming Heidi for driving him to kill himself because of something internally wrong with her.

Put it Down…

Distracted Driving Awareness Week starts to really face some challenges when thing’s start to escalate further between Tweek and North Korea. The self-important citizens of South Park can’t bring themselves to look away from the political carnage being projected onto their phones via Twitter. Even when behind the wheel they can’t seem to detach themselves, and thus start running children over en masse.

Poor Gary Borkovec…

When Eric finds out that people are giving more attention to the victims of the distracted drivers rather than paying attention to his empty suicide threats, he interupts their announcement for candlelight vigil to announce a last-ditch pot-luck dinner in his honor. Before he can make a total fool of himself however, Heidi comes to the rescue with her own last ditch effort to talk some sense into Cartman…

“It’s not about problem solving Eric—it’s about people coming together and feeling what they need to feel. People need help sorting out their emotions sometimes, and the best thing isn’t always quick answers but just being there…”

This falls on deaf ears as far as Cartman is concerned, but it was just the thing Craig needed to hear.

I Learned Something Today…

Okay it wasn’t Kyle making a speech, it was Craig who learned something today: that sometimes people in our lives just need to vent, to be heard, to work out their anxieties so they don’t feel so alone. They need to figure out a battle plan and maybe sort out some irrational/not-so-irrational fears. To bounce off some ideas with someone that understands how they are wired. Now that Tweek has someone to really hear him, he can put things in perspective, and can channel his anxious energy into doing some good for the world.

He creates a song to help spread awareness FOR ANY PRESIDENTS OUT THERE THAT MIGHT BE PUTTING OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES AT RISK WITH IRRESPONSIBLE TWEETS TO PLEASE STOP.

Image of Matt & Trey so happy they don’t have to write about the election anymore.

Going forward it looks to me as though the old (well, let’s say the Season 18+19) formula of the isolated, but congruent narratives in this absurdist ‘podunk’ town will prevail from here on out. Glad to see that Tweek and Craig are being completely and hilariously normalized, and I hope Hiedi can eventually free herself from the clutches of Cartman’s hysterical narcissism…

From my view, South Park has once again found its footing with this tight-knit, topical episode with plenty of laughs, unexpected character growth, and sentiment to boot. I will be eagerly awaiting to see what’s next!


Images courtesy of Cartoon Network

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Teen Wolf Just Gives Up As It Nears The Finale

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Teen Wolf brought two episodes at once this week, “Genotype” and “Broken Glass.” They brought us very nearly to the end of the season and so to the whole show. For that purpose, they left quite a lot to be desired.

Recap

Scott found a phone on one of the dead bodies in the woods and he‘s convinced that the voicemail on it will lead him to one half of the Anuk-ite. Theo and Mason both very reasonably point out that even if that’s true, they already know about Aaron, so they could just concentrate on him. Scott really should know by now that he should listen to Mason, but instead he splits the party and sends Theo and Mason to look for Aaron while he and Liam look for a mysterious voice on the phone. Right.

Lydia and Malia are in the morgue, standing over the dead hellhound. Lydia decides he‘s not actually dead. She tries to get a vision by lying down next to him or touching him, but neither works.

Mason and Theo wander in the infamous tunnels while having pointless conversation. Meanwhile, Scott and Liam stare at a phone. Finally Liam decides to call, but Scott stops him, pointing out that they should think about what they were going to say. Hmm, perhaps this call was more of a job for Mason, while Scott and Liam, as the two strongest, would be better off wandering the tunnels? Never mind.

Liam calls and Beacon Hills High answers. Liam realizes the woman in the voicemail is one of his teachers. He and Scott go to school and Liam sits in his biology class like nothing happened. He tries to get to his teacher with a sound only supernaturals can hear. When it doesn’t work, he tries to get her with wolfsbane. She notices and tells him to stay after class, supposing he is trying to get back at her for not protecting him from getting beaten up. He tells her he knows she’s a werewolf. She looks at him like he’s crazy. Scott comes in, playing the voicemail.

Lydia has a vision of the Hellhound in Eichen and comes back saying she knows how to save him. She wants to pull out the bullet with MRI (not the most non-invasive method, Lydia), but then realizes there is silver there, which would not get pulled out, but would melt into his brain, killing him. She tries to think of another solution.

Liam and Scott tell the biology teacher her family is dead, and her daughter’s body was taken on by the Anuk-Ite. They ask her to call her daughter, and she gives the phone to Liam instead. He asks what name he should look under, and she says Quinn. AKA, the teenage werewolf who got shot by a deputy.

Theo and Mason are having a nice talk about Theo’s chances of being in Scott’s pack when Theo shifts and they are attacked.

Scott and Liam basically tell the biology teacher they are about to kill her daughter and then are surprised when she knocks them over the head. The teacher, in turn, is surprised when the daughter she’s been warned about being turned into a monster has, in fact, been turned into a monster.

Lydia and Malia decide to risk the hellhound’s life because Malia reasons that his past actions show this is what he would have wanted. They manage to bring him back to life briefly, but he does have silver poisoning. Also, it seems it is not what he would have wanted after all.

Mason is injured after Aaron attacked. Theo tries to take his pain, but he doesn’t care enough for it to work, so he fights Aaron instead. Mason tries to stop him, telling him that is what Aaron wants. Apparently his wounds appear on the Akun-Ite’s other half, too, making it an easy identifier. Or maybe it was about feeling the pain? It’s never truly explained.

Scott sends Liam to fight one half of the Anuk-Ite alone as he stays with Quinn’s mother. I just…no, I won’t even comment on that. He tries to convince the teacher to shift and trigger her healing. She does, at length, showing she is an alpha. One question: how?

The dying hellhound wastes a lot of time telling us what we already know, that combined two halves of the Anuk-Ite are dangerous. He does not tell the girls what they asked, namely how he trapped the demon when he did, a hundred years ago. He does tell them that it can kill with a look when both halves are connected, though, so we know they will in fact connect.

That is demonstrated in the very next scene, where they do. Liam’s attempt to stop it is entirely ineffective. Malia is just in time to save him from the death glare. The hunters who came to school don’t have a Malia, though, and are turned into stone. Then the pack muses about how it needs to learn to fight blind from Deucalion, Malia has Sex with Scott and Gerard makes a deal with the Anuk-Ite to kill Scott, because of course he does. That’s when the first aired episode ends.

The next one starts with Chris interrogating a guy in Brasil. There was a mass murder of werewolves and Derek apparently started to investigate by beating people up and asking them questions. He found that Gerard wants him, and doesn’t care about the others. There’s a message saying “Beacon Hills” on the wall of the crime scene. We also see Derek drive a nice sports car, which is frankly something I missed on this show.

After the opening credits, we see Tamora giving an educational lecture to her young hunters about werewolves, demonstrating on Ethan, still tortured by electricity as she sticks an arrow into him. She then offers her teenage army weapons. Ethan is carried away, desperate for Jackson, which bleeds over into Lydia’s vision.

Nolan contacts Liam and promises to give him information. He takes him to the hospital, where he shows him that ordinary people are involved with Tamora’s movement and also that three people have been brought to the hospital last night and hooked up on wolfsbane.

The Sheriff declares he will stand by his friends. He meets with Parrish, who tells him Tamora is pulling police reports to find out who is supernatural. He then goes to answer a call to all units, even though Tamora and company know he is supernatural, because reasons.

Lydia can¨t reach Scott on the phone, so she goes to his house, where she meets Peter looking for Malia. They realize communication is being cut off by Gerard, who has apparently truly gained omnipotence now.

Chris manages to find Derek. Derek has poison Gerard needs to kill Scott, who has apparently leveled up with Gerard and can only be killed by a unique artifact now, but just as he is about to destroy it, Kate appears and takes it from him.

Malia and Scott have an entirely pointless conversation with Deucalion about him teaching them how to fight blind. We get a training montage.

Lydia admits to Peter that she saw him turned to stone in a vision, and many others alongside him. She describes the place and Peter realizes he knows where it is.

Kate takes the poison and tells them its purpose is to kill Scott. Derek heads towards Beacon Hill to warn Scott, leaving Chris behind for reasons.

Lydia and Peter arrive at Deucalion’s training location to warn them that Tamora is coming with heavy firepower, because this is apparently news. Just then, Tamora herself conveniently arrives and one of her lackeys shoots Deucalion before the proper heavy fire starts. The episode closes with Tamora firing a shot.

Review

I am seriously so tired of this season by now; I could not be more grateful there is only one episode left. The writing in these two episodes was exceptionally bad even by this season’s standards. So much overwrought dialogue and pointless posturing that is out of character or just simply unnecessary. Nothing is established properly any more, nothing makes sense, no repercussions of any kind are felt, no internal logic is followed. I would enumerate all of the cases where this is true, but it would take up too much space.

That said, here are some especially glaring examples:

One half of Anuk-Ite took down Liam with one punch, and yet we are supposed to believe that its two halves together are no match for Scott in a direct fight? Scott, whom we saw getting beaten by Liam before, not to mention lots of other relatively low-level villains. I’m getting some mixed signals here. Is Scott super powerful, or is he mostly a regular werewolf?

The problem, of course, is that a demonic monster of the sort Anuk-Ite was built up to be doesn’t make deals. It doesn’t make sense, narrative wise, why it should even talk to Gerard at all. But the show -runners wanted a cool monster, and they wanted Gérard back for the final season, and didn’t think much about how those two things would together.

They don’t.

Kate—another villain they wanted to bring back—randomly appearing to torture Derek (who was apparently only brought back for that purpose) is also ineffective. If she had to come back, could we at least finally give some proper gravitas to her rape of Derek all those years ago? No? Joking about it again? All right then.

Well, no, not all right, but it’s not like I expect any better at this point.

Speaking of things that did not work, Tamora, despite her best efforts, absolutely failed to get people into the proper state of mind for genocide. It’s strange, because she is a great actress. Part of it was the absolutely abysmal acting of the extras in the scene, but even disregarding that, her speech was simply not rousing. The show made the comparison to Kristallnacht (and let me reiterate how tasteful it is to put a woman of color at the head of a movement you explicitly associate with the Nazis), so perhaps they should have taken a look at Hitler’s speeches. The way it was shot, Tamora would not have them worked up to anything beyond mild enthusiasm.

Out of the many logical fallacies of this episode, let me mention only Scott and Malia training with Deucalion. At the very least Liam, one of the pack’s front-line fighters, should have been there. But no. He had other things to do, specifically a very contrived trip to the hospital.

Then the ante is supposed to be upped by Deucalion’s death, but it just makes me tired. Deucalion is the most powerful Alpha that ever lived, so of course he will just be taken down by a random lackey and his automatic rifle. Neither Gerard nor Scott, two apparently omnipotent creatures now, couldn’t kill him, but a random lackey does it just fine. A pity Gerard didn’t know this sooner.

I could go on and on. I’m trying to think of a scene I actually enjoyed and felt it made sense. Lydia’s conversation with Peter, perhaps? Their meeting was also weirdly contrived, just like most of this episode, but I enjoyed having two smart people on the talking to each other onscreen.

The rest was a disaster, though, and I really, really hope the last episode improves the balance at least a little.


All images courtesy of MTV.

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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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