For want of a theme

This post contains spoilers for episode 5.06, “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking,” of Community.

Sometimes, I watch an episode of a TV show and wonder, “What version of this scene ended up on the proverbial cutting-room floor?” Or I watch an episode and think, “That was a strange cut. It totally changes the tone or pacing of the scene.” Most of the time, I know I’m overthinking these sorts of editing choices. (Full Disclosure: I have an awful habit of overthinking things, as Kerry and Becca can attest. They’ve received several early morning emails from me on the subject of my former college crush, stemming from Facebook stalking compounded by me overthinking inconsequential things. My point? Give me a topic, I’ll think way too much about it.)

Last night’s episode of Community was no exception, as I wondered how what was ostensibly the A-plot somehow became the C-plot, the B-plot slipped into the lead, and the C-plot moseyed into second place. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

This week’s episode, “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking,” was (relatively) heavily promoted, given its stable of guest stars:

Whedonverse-regular and star of ABC’s Castle, Nathan Fillion; Paget Brewster, alumna of CBS’s Criminal Minds;

ABC Family’s Katie Leclerc, best known for Switched at Birth; and action movie favorite, Robert Patrick. Plus, Jonathan Banks was back as Professor Buzz Hickey, and Brie Larson returned as Rachel the Coat Check Girl. Some of the guest spots were brief – Larson’s was tucked into the final minutes of the third act – while others, like Leclerc’s, were woven throughout the entire episode. Each appearance was a pleasant surprise, and added a new layer to the world of Greendale. (Because herpes transmitted by the water fountains? Sure. But absolutely no porn allowed through the school’s firewall? Say it ain’t so!)

The three concurrent plots were each well-realized and funny, even if their place in the plot hierarchy was a little muddled. In what essentially served as a prologue, Annie is leading a meeting of the Study Group Save Greendale Committee, of which Chang is now a member, and trying to assign tasks to the other characters.

 

Britta and Abed squabble about spoilers for Bloodlines of Conquest (the Greendale equivalent of Game of Thrones), then are tasked with updating the Greendale Community College student census. Shirley, Jeff, Ian Duncan and Chang avoid volunteering to decorate for the Mid-term Dance *until Annie says she’ll head up the group* – then they all agree to help.

Annie then puts them in charge of the dance, instead putting herself and Hickey on bulletin board posting duty.

On paper, Annie’s task is the A-plot: In the course of negotiating Greendale’s bureaucracy to have a new bulletin board put up in the cafeteria, she and Hickey encounter Fillion’s head custodian, Bob Waite; Brewster’s head of campus IT, Debra Chambers; and Patrick’s campus parking director, promising each one some weirdly specific kick-back in exchange for shuffling the bulletin board work order to the top of the queue. (Moving it ahead of “lower flag to half-staff for Reagan’s funeral,” so, really, Greendale could be further behind.) The dance committee had what appeared to be the B-plot, with Chang’s suggestion first confusing Jeff, Shirley, and Duncan, then bringing them together as a team, before finally bringing them together in shared embarrassment. And Abed and Britta’s cross-campus spoiler war, which used Leclerc’s fluency in sign language, should’ve been the C-plot: The shallowest and easiest to resolve.

This is where it gets tricky: Each of the three plots was funny and clever in its own right, letting us spend time with the characters as themselves, rather than as the extreme versions of themselves we often see in the heavily themed or homage episodes. Jeff and Duncan were their usual responsibility shirking selves. Abed exhibited a dedication to avoiding spoilers typical of his usual compulsions. Annie’s ambition was matched only by her deviousness, and both are traits that should come as no surprise to anyone who remembers season one’s “Social Psychology.”

Yet, Annie and Hickey’s plot, despite both Alison Brie and Banks bringing their A-game, lacks the charm of the other two.

 

It seemed unnecessarily convoluted and repetitive: For want of a looser firewall, a work order was delayed. For want of a closer parking space, a looser firewall was denied. For want of a bulletin board posting supervisor, a closer parking space was refused. For want of a toast, a bulletin board posting supervisor went unapproved. For want of a toast, a wall remained blank. And all for the want of a work order. Perhaps if the cameos had been spread out more equitably, this particular plot wouldn’t have felt as incidental, as created to provide a structure into which the guest stars could easily be inserted.

Abed and Britta’s task provides them a reason for roaming Greendale’s halls, but their plot instead focuses on Britta’s insistence on spoiling Abed for Bloodlines of Conquest. She goes to absurd lengths, matching Abed’s steps to avoid hearing or seeing anything she tries to tell him.

In the course of them avoiding each other, Abed meets Leclerc’s lip-reading and signing student, who peaks his interest. Their interactions are funny and sweet, as Abed quickly learns enough sign language to have a conversation with Leclerc.

As much as Abed’s made-up signs have all the indicators of being offensive, he almost immediately apologizes to Leclerc for not actually knowing sign language.

Meanwhile, Gillian Jacobs gives Britta’s mission to spoil Abed for BoC a gleefulness and dedication that speaks to the state of Abed and Britta’s evolving friendship: They aren’t – and may never be – besties, but her desire to annoy him isn’t done out of spite or ignorance. (Cougarton Abbey, anyone?)

Instead, Britta is poking at Abed the way she’d poke at any of the others in the study group, and, finally, without the assumption of Abed being some thing she needs to fix. I think it’s a layer that’s a result of Britta doing her best to ‘help’ Abed at the end of last week’s Lava World game, in that she finally seems to be accepting Abed needs someone to ground him, as Troy did, rather than someone who’s primary goal is ‘curing’ him. If that’s the tact the show takes, with Britta filling the same role for Abed, albeit in a different way, I think I could finally get behind her pursuing a career in psychology.

Finally, somehow the Mid-term Dance Committee plot took center stage, and in an unexpected way. The dance itself is less important than the decorating, as it’s not unexpected for Greendale to have a dance for any and every event. Chang, who has always been treated as unwelcome hanger-on by the study group and an object of derision and/or pity by his colleagues at Greendale, offers a suggestion for a theme for the dance: ‘Bear Down for Mid-terms.’ Jeff, Duncan, and Shirley are all, understandably, confused and mock Chang, as he repeats his suggestion without elaborating on what he means but grows visibly more frustrated. In an inspired choice, Ken Jeong explodes in a tantrum that is typical of Chang’s earlier behavior, but with an edge of mingled desperation and frustration as he says he knows he’s a joke and they think he’s crazy, but he genuinely wants to contribute.

It’s inspired because Jeong voices, in one brief monologue, what Community – both the show and fandom – have been saying since 2009: This show is unusual and may be best known for spurts of bizarre behavior, but it is as capable of contributing something real to the world as any other comedy, drama, network show or cable masterpiece.

Of course, there sight gags in abundance: Annie’s structurally unsound wall of success; the custodians’ enormous garage versus the IT’s department crammed into a large closet; Abed taping cans over his ears; and Neil bringing in a couple of 24-packs of soda (budget cuts?) as refreshments for the dance.

 There’s added humor in clever dialogue: Dean Pelton’s insouciant “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy”; Garret screaming “IT’S A BEAR DANCE!”; Duncan’s exasperated, “You can’t just repeat it but louder”; Jeff awkwardly trying to sell the new dance theme, ‘Fat Dog for Mid-terms’; and Annie’s “EV-ERY-THING!” (It’s been a while since we heard Annie’s Loud Voice, hasn’t it?)

These all added up to a funny, strange little episode, but I’m still wondering how the plot packed with guest stars wound up the least compelling. Did it happen in editing? Was it a matter of trimming the episode down for time? Or was it intentional, some sort of meta commentary on the propensity for stunt casting? But what do I know? I overthink everything.

The Power of Love

Warning: this post contains spoilers from episode 2.12  of CW’s Arrow, “Tremors”

“Love’s the most powerful emotion, and that’s what makes it the most dangerous.” –Sara Lance

It may not be Valentine’s Day yet, but Arrow had love as one of the major underlying themes in last night’s episode (which may explain why I have had The Power of Love by Huey Lewis stuck in my head all day).

Last night, was the beginning of Oliver trying to be Roy’s Mr. Miyagi. Instead of Oliver teaching Roy how to wax on and wax off, he decided to teach Roy how Shado had taught Oliver. The problem with that is Roy seemed to be more impatient than Oliver was when he was first learning. Throughout this episode, Roy isn’t able to connect with Arrow, and Oliver realizes this. This is why he reveals himself to Roy because he knew Oliver understands the need to protect Thea more than Arrow would. The revelation was beautiful, and I’m glad they didn’t wait for the reveal. Oliver may have a mask now, but it is easy to tell who he is. I’m still claiming Lance pretends he doesn’t know who Arrow is for plausible deniability.

Now that Roy finally knows the secret Oliver decides to introduce him to the rest of Team Arrow. He tells Roy that Diggle and Felicity are the only ones who matter to him who know his secret identity. He is telling Roy the truth. This episode between the trio was wonderful. Oliver was being more open to them about the island. Yes, there are things he will keep secret, but he finally told them about Slade, and this is monumental. He trusts these two, and their friendship is a wonderful thing to behold.

As for the flashback island sequences, Oliver is also able to help Slade by stopping him from destroying the freighter. In the first flashback, Sara tells Oliver “love is the most powerful emotion” and it is true. Oliver is able to use what Sara tells him to talk Slade down by saying even if Shado didn’t love Slade the way he loved her, she still loved him and wanted him to get off the island. Oliver also mentions Slade’s son, and I’m sad to say I forgot Slade even had a son. This is the first mention of him in season two, and I wonder if the show will actually address what happened to Slade’s son later.

Another wonderful thing about this episode is Sara comes back into play with the present life again. Laurel has hit a new low, and is not being receptive to her father. Paul Blackthorne deserves high recognition for his part in this Laurel arc. Lance knows what is happening to Laurel because he himself once was on a parallel path when he lost Sara. He is trying to reach out to Laurel, but she is not letting him help her.

Lance tries to get her to go to his support group, but she is upset that he tricked her. I love Lance in this episode, and his character is only getting stronger. Laurel later finds out from Joanna that she could possibly become disbarred due to her recent activities. Laurel needs help, but she is refusing the help from both Lance and Joanna when they offer. She ends up at Verdant, and the scene she shares with Oliver and Thea is not pretty. This makes Oliver call Sara. After all, it was Sara who said love was a powerful emotion. Oliver is hoping Sara will be able to get through to Laurel, and we do get to Sara kneeling over a very drunk Laurel at the end of the episode.

It will be interesting to see if Sara can actually get through to Laurel. The history between the two of them is rather shaky because of their past interest in Oliver. Sara also went on the yacht trip with Oliver, which then wrecked, leaving Laurel to believe they both had drowned. Sara coming back to see Laurel now proves Sara does love Laurel enough to risk her safety as well as her family’s.

 

Finally there is Moira’s storyline. Walter finally makes a reappearance, and I’m so glad to see him back. He wants Moira to run for mayor against Sebastian, and she isn’t willing at first. This is where Thea comes into play. Thea’s and Moira’s relationship has become stronger compared to first season or even the beginning of this season. Thea has learned to forgive Moira. When Moira tells Walter she has reconsidered running for mayor, he knows it was Thea who helped change her mind. I love the relationship Walter and Thea have, and it was great to see them together again. It is also interesting to find out Walter knew Thea’s father was not actually Robert. This means Moira must have told him at some point. It is going to be interesting to see how Walter helps Moira keep her OB quite about the truth, as well as Thea finally finding out the truth of her parentage. The only one who apparently doesn’t seem to know now is Thea and Oliver.


However, what I’m most excited to see is how Roy will interact with Team Arrow.

Picspam: Community 5.05 “Geothermal Escapism”

Do TV shows make you cry?

I cry easily, I won’t pretend otherwise, but I was surprised by how much I cried (okay… sobbed) during Troy’s final episode of Community. The entire episode was structured to pull at any superfan’s heartstrings, so as much as it was a sendoff to Donald Glover and the character he’d brought to life, it was also a love letter to the fans. Let me warn you up front: This picspam is not easy for me.

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As much as this episode sells itself as a Troy-centric one, make no mistake: This is as much about Britta and Abed’s coping mechanisms as it is about Troy letting Greendale go. While everyone in the group loves Troy, the rest of them aren’t as close to him as Britta and Abed are, so they lose less by letting him go. This theme starts early, with Britta trying to psychoanalyze everyone into being sad, while Abed isn’t even present for his best friend’s going away party.

After Troy opens his universal translator gift from the group, Britta reminds everyone to be sad, because she’s Britta and that’s how she copes.

Britta: “Let’s not forget, it’s okay to be sad, too.”
Jeff: “Britta, do you get kickbacks from Big Buzzkill?”

HOW DARE YOU, JEFF.

Continue Reading

The Unusual Suspect

This post contains spoilers for the Lifetime TV movie, Lizzie Borden Took An Axe. It also contains some non-explicit discussion of the Borden murders. Proceed accordingly.

Sometimes I tell people what my parents let me watch when I was a wee one, and people look at me strangely. I don’t know if it’s because this new information makes some unconscious aspect of my personality make sense, or if they can’t understand how I’m not stranger because of what I grew up watching. But my parents never really saw a problem with letting me watch the nightly news, Unsolved Mysteries or Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes movies. (They did not give my older sibs permission to let me watch Heathers or Flatliners, but those also left an indelible impression.) Somewhere, in between watching 1-2-3 CONTACT and the NBC movie of the week, I also developed an affinity for melodrama. And, as I have mentioned before, I will watch nearly anything with Christina Ricci.*

Oh, Lifetime: Didn’t we almost have it all?

When I learned, late last year, Ricci had starred in a Lifetime movie about Massachusett’s infamous lady, Lizzie Borden, I was sold. I wasn’t expecting Lawrence of Arabia, but I figured Lizzie Borden Took an Axe would be good for a couple hours entertainment. I really ought to have to have remembered what network was broadcasting it.

I’m not going to get into the historical inaccuracies or the issues with characterization because there are people who will know more about this than I do, and I’d rather not flaunt my ignorance all over the place. While I’m not sure if the costumes were entirely historically accurate, I will say they were pretty without being ostentatious the way TV period pieces in the U.S. often are.

Blowhan

The clothes were lovely, even if they’re not quite the Victorian styles I’m used to seeing.

And while I can understand not everyone liking the choice to use contemporary music for the non-diegetic sound, I didn’t find it completely jarring. (On the other hand, I also loved Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, so maybe my taste can’t be trusted.)

What I do want to discuss is the missed opportunities in Lizzie Borden. The first article I read about this movie, back in October, included a quote from one of the producers about how the Lizzie Borden trial was the Dr. Sheppard or O.J. Simpson trial of its day. At its heart, this is a story that would still capture national attention today: A young woman is accused of brutally murdering her father and step-mother, vehemently denies it, and then all her family’s dirty laundry is aired at trial.

The start of the movie’s first act shows several potential suspects: People to whom Lizzie’s father, Andrew, owed money, and were unhappy with not being paid. The Borden family’s maid. A passing vagrant.** In keeping with the historical record, however, Lizzie is the only person arrested and tried for her father and step-mother’s murders.

In the course of the pre-trial inquest, it’s shown that Lizzie’s doctor gave her morphine to help her handle the stress of the daily questioning. Subsequently, Lizzie is shown changing her story, in the context of being stressed and confused because of her medicated state. And during both the inquest and trial, Lizzie occasionally appears either incredibly shallow or simple, commenting that the photo used by the local paper isn’t flattering.

However, aside from the producer’s decision to make Lizzie the murderer and have her confess as much to her older sister after the trial, at no point does the movie try to comment on the nature of celebrity trials or the importance of living in a post-Miranda Rights justice system.*** Furthermore, there’s no reflection on how the U.S. justice system treats women accused of violent crimes versus men; how or whether that treatment has changed over time; or even whether the Borden’s socioeconomic standing may have affected the jury’s perception of Lizzie’s guilt.

I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but the movie seemed white-washed, especially given that the entire series of events took place in the 1890s. The lack of diversity in the supporting cast of townspeople was enough to take me out of the story for a moment, even when the musical choices didn’t. And while we’re on the subject of representation, I found the indecision on whether Lizzie was a lesbian or not irksome: I realize most of the choices on the part of the production team and the actors were likely based on anecdotal evidence, but it either should’ve been an actual (minor) plot point or it should’ve been avoided completely.

Blowhan

Clea DuVall gave an understated performance, far more nuanced than I’ll guess the script portrayed her.

Finally, as far as the actors are concerned, I should mention Clea DuVall was excellent as elder Borden daughter, Emma. Her entire performance was understated, but the scene in which she locks her door against her sister after their parent’s deaths spoke volumes. Billy Campbell was overshadowed by his distracting facial hair in his role as the Borden family lawyer, but his performance was serviceable, if not as compelling as it might have been.

But I was disappointed in Ricci’s portrayal of Lizzie, as it felt like she had no internal life. Even at the close of the third act, when Lizzie is describing the murders in detail to Emma, the shots interspersed with Ricci splattered with gore and blank facedly swinging a hatchet, there is no indication of what Lizzie is thinking or feeling.

Emaguk

I really, *really* want to blame this uneven performance on the director. Christina Ricci is much more capable than this.

While portraying Lizzie as having wild mood swings might have given the character some spark, her scenes showed no identifiable shift. Instead, in one scene she’d be dour and unyielding, and in the next, unpredictable and childlike, without any rhyme to the change.

If you are trapped under your couch, unable to reach your remote to change the channel when Lizzie Borden comes on (and, inevitably, it will be replayed multiple times), watching it until rescue comes will not bore you to death. But if you are looking for a TV movie with a moral, in the grand tradition of the movies of the week that taught us college is a death trap or that we, too, might be single white female-d, you’re out of luck. Lizzie Borden Took an Axe might have been a great many things, but, in the end, it’s as unsatisfying as last weekend’s Flowers In the Attic ultimately was.

* If you would like to watch a more entertaining movie with Christina Ricci, I would strongly suggest tracking down All’s Faire in Love. It’s ridiculous and awful, but it’s still more entertaining.

** The movie indicates there may or may not have been a strange man on the property; it’s unclear whether he is a part of Lizzie’s hallucinations. I don’t know if her testimony included a mention of a stranger, but it was an element of this movie.

***The passing mention by Lizzie’s lawyer that any of her testimony during the inquest is inadmissible as she wasn’t informed of her rights is silly and a clear attempt to dumb down the material for modern audiences, who would be more familiar with contemporary police procedurals where suspects are read their rights upon arrest. However, the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule on the necessity of this until 1966, in the case of Miranda v. Arizona, more than 70 years after the Borden murder trial.

Tune In/Tune Out: Jan. 19-26, 2014

OK. So, it’s cold. It doesn’t matter if you live north of the Mason-Dixon, like Becca and I do, or to the south, like Kerry. It’s varying degrees of cold, and ‘freezing’ has both a scientific and relative definitions, but I’ve spent most of the week unable to feel my toes properly. When it’s awful outside, cold like it is here or rainy, there’s not much to do but hunker down in front of one screen or another and escape to someplace, anyplace, else. With that in mind, here are our picks for what swept us away, and what merely swept us off our feet before dumping us in a cold puddle of disappointment.

TUNE IN

Shut Up and Bounce

Y’all didn’t think we were going to put a GIF of *that* scene in here, right?

The Mindy Project: It was a big episode, and hopefully it’s enough to hold us over until April. Thanks a lot, Fox. –Kerry

Courtesy of Julieta Colas. All Rights Reserved.

You guys, you know I never cry.

Community: What is there to say about “Geothermal Escapism”? (Other than what Becca said, that is.) It was a brilliant action episode, up there with “Modern Warfare,” “A Fistful of Paintballs/For a Few Paintballs More,” and “Pillows and Blankets.” But more importantly, it was the send-off Troy, and Donald Glover, deserved. – Moff

Bonjour Clarice

So, clearly I missed the memo that I even *had* a time. Bummer.

Enlisted: After last week’s stumble, this show recovered nicely with a brother-centric episode that shed light on Pete’s difficulties with adjusting to civilian life. The scene that Geoff Stults and Keith David shared was unexpectedly touching, and if this show has more moments like that mixed in with the absurdities of the oddball squadron, this show might actually stand a chance in the vast wasteland of Friday night scheduling. –Kerry

Frankenreich

Ichabod Crane: Human-size anachronistic puppy.

Sleepy Hollow: It was a hell of a ride for the two-hour finale, and I can’t quite fathom having to wait till the autumn to find out what happens next. – Moff

TUNE OUT

Parks & Recreation: Ann spent her penultimate episode complaining about her boyfriend/baby daddy to a bunch of former coworkers who didn’t care about her First World Pregnancy Problems. It’s been weeks since we’ve seen her interact with Leslie, and watching her spend this episode screeching to everyone except her best friend was very frustrating. (Ron and his noise-cancelling headphones marginally picked up this storyline, as did Donna with her Cuban cigar and yellowfin sushi.) –Kerry

 

Bon Troyage

Warning: this post contains spoilers from episode 5.05  of NBC’s Community, “Geothermal Escapism”

Last night, we said Bon Troyage to Troy Barnes. Some shows may have had a goodbye episode full of Troy’s greatest moments on the show, or the Study Group all sitting around and saying goodbye to Troy. However, this is Community, and they have never tried to be normal. Instead we got an epic Lava World episode.

Britta was amazing in this episode. She points out to the group it is ok to be sad Troy is leaving, and that sometimes people push away the sadness with forms of happiness. I am one of those people. I have moved seven times throughout my childhood, and I always preferred to leave on a happy note. Sure there were “I’m going to miss you’s,” but I always wanted to jam pack my last moments I spent with my friends with happiness. This might be one of the reasons why the group including Jeff went along so willingly to Abed’s game of the floor is lava. They want one last epic adventure.

This episode reminded me of the former paintball episodes. One of the reasons is they all highlighted on the journey of different members of the study group. The first paintball war focused on Jeff’s journey throughout the episode, while the second focused on Annie. This episode focused on Britta, and her trying to get the study group to process their feelings about Troy leaving. However, Greendale takes their games very seriously.

During the game, Jeff and Annie save Britta from Duncan, and offer her a chance to join their alliance. The one thing that is more interesting than seeing Jeff so invested in this game is the audience got actual scenes of Jeff, Britta, and Annie where there was no hint of a love triangle. There was no bickering, and Britta and Annie were not pitted against each other. I want to bottle up these scenes and save them.

They run into Chang and his locker gang, but are saved by Troy and Abed who have found each other. The scene shows how powerful the two of them are together, and it makes Troy leaving hurt even more. The group quickly has to escape from Hickey before he destroys them from the awesome machine he has made (the man is a genius). While they are escaping, Chang and his gang are destroyed with Chang yelling Nathan Fillion is his guy crush (I seriously can’t wait for next week’s Community).

Annie and Jeff are in the lead, leaving Troy, Abed, and Britta behind them. Britta is still trying to get Abed to recognize his pain with Troy leaving. However, Abed doesn’t want to do this, and leaves Britta behind with Troy following him. Britta is left alone, and it looks like Hickey is going to send her to her lava fate. However, he invites her to join forces with him. I have a new respect for Hickey with this episode.

The rest of the group is able to make it to Shirley’s Island. It is interesting to see Shirley has made an oasis like Pierce did during the second paint ball war. Of course Shirley and Pierce do have similarities. One of them being they are sometimes the odd ones out of the study group. In season one, Pierce and Shirley had a heart to heart about how they were sometimes left out in the group, and it is true. Shirley even mentions this in her goodbye to Troy about how she is a boring old mom from his study group. I seriously want to hug Shirley.

As for the final part of the game the last three contestants left were Britta, Troy, and Abed. It makes sense Britta is the one left with the famous duo because she understands their friendship, which was proved during the Inspector Spacetime Convention episode. Another reason is she is probably the closest to Troy besides Abed. It was wonderful to see Britta coming up with the idea to clone Abed in order to bring Abed back. Britta is able to fix the problem, and help Abed accept Troy was leaving him.

Troy’s and Abed’s friendship is a beautiful thing. Troy was Abed’s interpreter. Troy also admitted to Britta he was the only one who slightly understood how Abed worked. It is one of the reasons why Abed was so afraid of Troy leaving. Abed had been able to gain a close friend with Troy, and Troy understood him better than anyone else. It is going to be interesting to see how Abed functions without Troy.

The sadness Britta was wanting finally came in the end, and we got heartfelt goodbyes from him with each member in the study group. Troy is the sweetest person in the study group, and always knew the right thing to say to each member. For Britta, she is still the best (not the opposite of Batman), and she was the only one he said I love you to. I loved Britta and Troy together, and it was great to see their breakup never ruined their friendship.

The moment him and Abed said goodbye was a tug at the heart strings. They still pretended to be their clones because it was one of the few ways to accept the reality of the situation. The real Abed came out with him mentioning the homing pigeon, and telling Troy in his Abed way to come back home soon. The hug was heartbreaking because you could sense the feeling of loss between the two of them.

The best part of the sendoff was probably having LeVar Burton be Troy’s companion on his voyage, and them riding out of Greendale to “Come Sail Away.”

As for the tag, it was the best one of the season, and I would also like to know why Star Trek wasn’t called Planet Trek.

“What color are your shoes?”

**This post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Arrow, “Blind Spot.”**

This week’s Arrow was a Laurel episode, as least as much as any Arrow episode can be character-centric. It was also heavy on the Roy storyline (with bonus Sin!) as well as the island flashbacks. That means we saw a lot less of Oliver than usual (both in amount of screentime and amount of skin) and we really only got two good scenes of Team Arrow. But there was this:

 

This episode felt a little disjointed, especially given that we’ve been treated to tightly-plotted and fast-paced episodes since we met Sara. I saw it as a good thing; I think shows like this need to take an episode or two to step back and reconfigure their storylines, at least to establish a base line of normality so that we don’t start losing our connections to the characters. The alternative would be something akin to The Vampire Diaries, a show that went full-throttle with every episode, to the point that some beloved character had to die (and come back to life) at least once a week in order to maintain the momentum. Arrow is doing a better job of striking a balance, and a slower-paced episode couldn’t have come at a better time. Shado is dead, the Mirakuru is at work in the city, and we know that the end of this season is going to be explosive. It’s nice to watch an episode where Oliver spends most of his time in regular street clothes instead of in business attire or a hood.

Unfortunately, the slower pace happened during a Laurel episode. Her character has many detractors (sometimes including me) so it’s easy to pin this episode’s lack of action to Laurel. I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Yes, Laurel’s scenes could’ve been more dramatic and emotional, but she’s not a superhero or a villain. She’s a normal person struggling with addiction, so her scenes are going to be a little more human than the ones with Roy or the island flashbacks.

I will give Katie Cassidy credit where it’s due: her scene with Paul Blackthorne in the interrogation room is some of her best work. Even though she still doesn’t actually shed a tear onscreen, she looks absolutely wrecked, like a person going through the anguish of drug withdrawal. Her sobbing and begging to her father were heartbreaking, and Blackthorne in turn gave a deeply emotional performance.

In fact, if there’s an MVP in this episode, it’s Blackthorne as Beat Cop Lance, because he straight up Diggled this episode. (To “Diggle” something means “to make the most of one’s very limited screentime by being amazing.” I’m determined to make this an actual verb.) He had three key scenes: One in the interrogation room, one with Oliver, and one at the end where he debriefs with Laurel. The scene with Oliver, in particular, shows his growth as a character.

 

It also supports my theory that Lance knows Oliver is The Arrow, just because I want it to be true.

And Diggle also Diggled this episode big time.

 

But let’s get into the meat of the episode: Laurel is busted for illegal possession of narcotics. She’s busted because she’s getting too close to Blood, who kills his mother in the cold open. She went to Hooded Oliver for help, and they went on a wild goose chase for a file that would prove Blood killed his father, but the file turns out to be empty.

Present-day Slade gets on Blood’s case for being sloppy, so Blood has Daly ransack Laurel’s apartment with a warrant, which is how they find the drugs. This, plus the fact that Laurel’s kidnapper turns out to be Daly himself, effectively discredits Laurel’s increasingly screechy theory that Blood is a criminal mastermind, as everyone from her own father to ADA Adam think she’s lost credibility. In the end, she loses her job, as well as the trust of her closest ally: The Arrow.

But things aren’t looking so rosy for Laurel from a backstory standpoint, either. Sara tells a story about how she had a crush on Oliver back before he dated Laurel, and that her dear sister called the cops to bust a party so that Sara would be grounded. A month later, Laurel and Oliver were dating.

It certainly doesn’t excuse what Sara did, going on the Gambit and sleeping with her sister’s boyfriend, but… it certainly provides the motivation. And if the details are to be believed — if Laurel truly busted that party just to get Sara grounded so that she could take her shot at Oliver — it certainly changes the commentary on the elder Lance sister, doesn’t it?

The island flashbacks also explored Sara’s Stockholm Syndrome with Ivo, but she manages to separate herself from him at the end of the episode, just as he vows to find her and end her. Sara turns to Oliver and says they should find Slade. Hopefully they find him soon.

 

Elsewhere, Roy is dealing with his superhuman strength by trying to use it to make the city better. That involves getting Thea to dress up Sin in her “first date outfit” which of course makes Sin look like a prostitute. She’s able to lure someone called the “Starling Slasher” into Roy’s trap so that he can apprehend the guy, but Roy ends up losing control and beating the guy to within an inch of his life. The resulting angst sends Roy running from a concerned Thea, and he sinks against a hospital wall and cries.

Thea later tells Oliver about the man Roy nearly beat to death, and that finally compels Oliver to go to Roy and offer to train him to control his emotions. I’m not sure how Oliver knows how to do that, but I do think it will involve Oliver finally revealing his true identity to Roy in the near future.

 

Finally, after Blood has successfully discredited Laurel, sacrificed Daly, and taken the heat off of himself, Slade has a logical response: slaying all four of Blood’s henchmen. He’s wearing his Deathstroke mask and warns Blood that if he fails again, he will be the next to die. It’s pretty much the greatest thing ever.

None of that compares to the greatest scene of the entire episode:

 

That’s a scene you need to listen to in order to enjoy. Never has the question “What color are your shoes?” sounded so threatening.

Next week: Roy gets house trained! I mean… Roy gets trained!