Newton’s Third Law, In Practice

This post contains spoilers for episode 5.07 of  Community, “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality.”

Newton’s Third Law of motion, in simplified terms, is that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In a practical sense, Newton was codifying the idea that for every choice we make, or do not make, there is a consequence. There is always a consequence.

“Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality” opens with Jeff and Professor Duncan chatting in the faculty lounge, where apparently Greendale’s budget woes hasn’t meant a cut in the quality of refreshments, if Jeff’s tumbler of scotch is anything by which to judge.

Addicted to them hoodrats

Oh, Duncan. Don’t be silly: No one’s met them.

Duncan, in the least subtle way possible, opens by reminding Jeff (and the audience) that they’ve known each other for a long time, then segues into a request for help in seducing Britta. Jeff demures, but ultimately outlines a plan for Duncan: Find something Britta cares about, pretend to care about it as well, and he’ll be in like Flynn.

After prompting Jeff to give him an opening at the end of the (weekly? daily?) meeting of the Save Greendale Committee, Duncan mentions he’ll be attending a benefit for starving children with cleft palates at a local theater. Cue the ‘awwws!’ from Britta and Annie, but Duncan’s plan starts to fall apart when Britta wants to go – along with Annie, Shirley and Chang. Jeff tries to worm his way out, but bows to peer pressure from the others to attend.

Watch Community

Bye, ladies! See you at the end of the episode!

Later, at the theater after the show, Annie and Shirley go for a bite to eat, leaving Jeff, Duncan and Britta to have a drink at the bar. (Slightly OT: Is it normal to have a full-fledged bar in the lobby of a theater? I was reminded of the bar/gay theater in that one episode of The I.T. Crowd, but I’ve never been to a theater with a bar as fully equipped as that one or the one on Community.) Britta leaves Duncan and Jeff at the bar when she sees several old friends from her anarchist days and goes to greet them. Duncan and Jeff discuss Duncan’s plan to seduce Britta, but Jeff isn’t interested in sticking around to watch what he assumes will be a train wreck.

Pop Classics

In all honesty, I would watch Joel McHale and John Oliver in an “Odd Couple” sitcom, even if it was only the two of them drinking scotch and arguing.

One of Britta’s old friends, Michael (pronounced ‘Mik-hael’ because why not?) thanks the people attending the benefit performance, then introduces Britta to the crowd as a ‘passionate activist.’ Abashedly, she responds that she’s only a “high school dropout bartender,” but she manages to charm the crowd with her usual mix of self-deprecation and optimism. Jeff then decides to stay, as he confesses to Duncan that he now finds Britta attractive because of her sudden popularity.

Of Nerdiness, Obsession and Social Awkwardness

In which “drink” is code for “unresolved stuff.”

However, Duncan convinces Jeff to “stand down” for an hour to give him time to make a move. Duncan’s opportunity comes soon after, when Britta’s old friends give her a hard time about not having a real, grown-up life with actual responsibilities, and she realizes it wouldn’t matter to them if she’d really ‘sold out’ or not: They’ll never take her seriously.

Bennyishere

How can you not want to go along with whatever ridiculous plan comes out of that face?

Duncan swoops in with a handkerchief, a friendly shoulder, and an offer of to go someplace – just as Jeff’s hour runs down.

To dare is to do

And that’s the face of a man who didn’t expect it work.

In the car, Britta explains she’s always based her own self perception on how her friends respond to and think of her, but if her old friends think she’s a joke – and as she thinks she has no other friends – she doesn’t know who she is. In a fit of conscience, Duncan tells her she’s not a joke, but decides to take her directly home, for which she thanks him.

An anthem for a lost cause

PLOT TWIST: Jeff *is* gay. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Duncan then returns to the theater/bar, and has an awkward friend date with Jeff.

PRTSCN

I loved the poignancy of this moment, but I wish this season wasn’t so LITERALLY dark. I’m old, OK? It hurts my eyes.

While all this has been happening, Abed spends the evening, alone, building a costume Kickpuncher costume to wear while he crashes the premiere for the Kickpuncher reboot. He’s wandering Greendale’s halls when he hears Professor Hickey grousing in an office. Abed finds Hickey at his desk, fussing with drawings that Abed then shoots with foam. In a fury, Hickey handcuffs Abed to a filing cabinet to force him to learn the consequences of acting without thinking. They spend the evening bonding and arguing and bonding some more.

Meyerblog

Jonathan Banks was excellent, again, as Buzz Hickey, but Danny Pudi was on fire. His performance this week, along with his Nic Cage impression, make me wonder how he doesn’t have an Emmy yet.

The hashtag for this week’s episode was #AbedsLesson, which arguably gave precedence to the Abed and Hickey storyline. Hickey gave answer to a question the audience has often voiced: How does the rest of Greendale Community College view the Study Group? Previous episodes have illustrated the Dean gives them special preference; and last season’s faceoff with the German foreign exchange students, in “Alternative History of the German Invasion,” showed the other students bear resentment toward the Study Group. But in both cases, the Dean and the students who joined the German’s anti-Study Group protest were all characters who’ve had direct interaction with Jeff & Co. The only other time we’ve had a perspective similar to Hickey’s was in Season 1’s “Introduction to Statistics,” when the group interfered with Jeff’s attempts to woo Michelle Slater and she, in turn, asked Jeff if he was legally responsible for them. As Hickey rants at Abed, explaining he cannot let Abed go until the younger man learns that all actions have consequences, and that not everyone will be content to pussyfoot around, giving Abed’s feeling special consideration.

  

It’s particularly interesting, given Hickey’s willingness two episodes ago to play along with Abed’s campus-wide hot lava game, although his motives were admittedly mercenary. (That is, paying for his son’s wedding flowers.) At the end of the game, when Britta “killed” Hickey, he was angry, but presumably because he lost out on the $50,000 prize. However, the specifics of Hickey’s rant, coupled with not knowing precisely how much of Britta and Troy’s effort to “save” Abed, means there’s at least one person at Greendale who’s been watching the Study Group for some time and is un-enchanted with their adventures.

The Britta-Duncan-Jeff set up indicated Jeff’s cynicism in “Repilot” hasn’t stuck, as he was passed on his shot at striking while Britta was vulnerable. And Duncan’s decision not to take advantage of her, when added to his attempts in previous seasons to help the other members of the Study Group, mean he has nobler motives than his usual self-serving comments indicate.

An anthem for a lost cause

When did Britta stop being the dark cloud the Study Group gathers under, and start being the heart of the show? No, not a rhetorical question. Was it “Contemporary Impressionists” in season 3?

At the same time, Britta’s identity crisis reveals an intrinsic weakness in the study group: Despite three years (plus the gas leak year) of comic exploits and zany, madcap adventures, she doesn’t consider the Study Group her friends. This is far more troubling than her realization that she can’t always rely on being a reflection of what others think of her, as if she doesn’t consider herself integral to the group, it makes their bonds weaker. The weaker their bonds, the easier it is for wedges to be driven between them, and for the Study Group to be divided. And, when we consider that their purpose this season is to work together to save Greendale, Britta’s Freudian slip that she has no friends doesn’t bode well for the future of our favorite community college. After all, while adding people to a situation affects group dynamics, sometimes removing someone from the same can have even more dire consequences.

What were your thoughts on the episode? Let me know in the comments, and join us next week on Twitter at @WWFTP, where I’ll be live tweeting the East coast broadcast.

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“What I do is not an act.”

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.16 of Elementary, “The One Percent Solution.”**

elementary216

Before I get into the nitty gritty of last night’s excellent Elementary, let’s take a moment to appreciate the Superior Lestrade.

We all are, Greg. We all are.

Rupert Graves’ portrayal of Greg Lestrade is my favorite part of BBC’s Sherlock, and I occasionally like to imagine what it would be like if his version of Lestrade was on Elementary. Ultimately, I think he and Gregson are too similar for it to be terribly interesting after an episode or two, so I’m glad that this show has chosen to go in the opposite direction with its Lestrade (this one is named Gareth) and make him an insecure man with skewed moral compass, who is every bit as much of an addict as Sherlock himself.

We last saw Lestrade in the big two-hour season 2 premiere, in which he took credit for Sherlock’s big solve, much to Sherlock’s frustration and disappointment. Lestrade is now working as a Security Tsar for a bank, and a bombing at a restaurant brings him back into Sherlock’s orbit.

Sherlock spends the first half of the episode in frustration over Lestrade’s “ego.” He practically snarls as Lestrade swans around with his private helicopters, coconut water, and blonde assistant, while Lestrade seems incapable of shutting up about how great he’s doing since they last saw him. Sherlock’s so galled by Lestrade stealing his credit and his methods that he fails to recognize Lestrade’s actions for what they are: overcompensation.

That’s kind of the great thing about this Sherlock. His main flaw is that for all of his observations and deductions, he still sees the world through his own lens, and often that leads to him misinterpreting basic social cues simply because they are not cues he would make. He thinks Lestrade is bragging and gloating about having pulled one over on the great Sherlock Holmes, because it would never occur to Sherlock to fake smiles and sunshine just to hide his embarrassment. Joan usually helps in this respect, often just by having another point of view, but her focus is only on Sherlock and how it affects him. She calls him out on his irritation during the first night of the investigation, when Sherlock is irritably watching a conference at which Lestrade had spoken about deductive reasoning.

Joan: “Are you mad that he’s still stealing your act, or annoyed that he managed to pull it off?”
Sherlock: “What I do is not an act.”

It was an uncanny Joan moment, though, and it’s amazing that those are starting to slip by almost unnoticed. That Joan Watson is so advanced in her studies that she accurately reads the great Sherlock Holmes — that she forces him to deflect! — is huge. It’s the sort of thing that would drive Lestrade crazy to watch, because how does she do that?

That’s probably why Lestrade takes such a vested interest in Joan during the course of the episode, to the point that his overeager assistant feels threatened by her.

 

Joan’s not interested in working with Lestrade, it’s funny that he even thought she could be bought, and she even mildly suspects Lestrade is part of the bombing crime somehow.

Sherlock eventually wrestles the truth out of Lestrade: he’s a glorified pimp to his boss. He sets up romantic trysts for the CEO of the bank, and he was too embarrassed to tell Sherlock the truth. This ultimately just frustrates Sherlock, since it means he was working on a dead end for the better part of the episode, but he refocuses on a serial bomber who is claiming credit for the restaurant bombing. His name is Aurelius, a unabomber-type, and Joan flatly asks, “The FBI has had a task force looking for Aurelius for years, you think you’re just gonna look through a bunch of NYPD files and find him just like that?”

She wakes the next morning to find that Sherlock has done it. Awestruck, she says, “You found Aurelius!” But later, when Lestrade turns up at their bust, he’s less enthusiastic. “So, you decided to find Aurelius, and here we are.” Sherlock points out that this is supposed to be good news — hooray, we’re about to catch a serial bomber! — but Lestrade is still disgruntled. Sherlock points out that Watson was happy to hear he’d solved the case, and adds, “That’s the difference between you and her. You spend your time resenting my abilities, and she spends her time developing her own.”

And that is a fantastic observation. On the one hand you have Lestrade, riddled with insecurities and bitterness, who cringes and bears down (oh, still too soon) whenever Sherlock has a breakthrough. His solution is to steal, to mimic, to posture and pretend until the world believes that he is great, because his self-worth is so low that he doesn’t believe he can do it just by study and practice. How he must despise Joan, deep down! How he must resent Bell and Gregson, as well! What must it feel like to sit there with the great Sherlock Holmes, the master of deductive reasoning, and wonder what these other people do to earn his respect and admiration?

It’s a great observation of Watson herself, as well, because her uniqueness has long exceeded the thing that seemed like stunt casting at first: the fact that she is a woman. No one talks about that anymore, except perhaps for the “Joanlock” shippers. Instead, people talk about the partnership, the balance, the sharing of confidences, the teacher-student relationship that seems to come so naturally to them. Jude Law’s John Watson seems mostly exasperated and annoyed by his Sherlock’s abilities and antics. Martin Freeman’s John Watson, conversely, is constantly in awe of his Sherlock’s abilities, with no emphasis on learning how to deduce, which means he’s only ever capable of being Sherlock’s assistant, not partner. Lucy Liu’s portrayal is the first time (in recent retellings, mind you) that Holmes and Watson are on even footing. She can learn his version of deductive reasoning because she strikes that precarious balance between Law’s exasperation and Freeman’s hero-worshipping, but she’s still totally in control of her own agency because she doesn’t depend on Sherlock for approval or identity.

This Lestrade could’ve been written as an easy villain, because he’s a desperate man who wants notoriety, and we’ve already seen him thwart Sherlock in the past. Instead, this show has chosen to take a prominent canon character and turn him into a bit of a grey area. He’s no villain, but he’s no hero, either. He’s no Gregson, but he’s also no Moriarty: when the cards were on the table and a moral decision had to be made, Lestrade chose the high ground. Sherlock was clearly gratified when Lestrade chose to ruin his career and let his boss take the fall instead of letting a murderess go free. Lestrade undid some of the damage he caused back in the summer when he doublecrossed Sherlock and took credit for himself.

His appearance at the brownstone at the end of the episode was a bit of comedy. Sherlock, who was trying to tame two roosters who had been bred for cockfighting, is watching as Romulus and Remus meet again after their conditioning. Lestrade is babbling about needing a place to stay just for a short while and Sherlock snaps, “You can stay here, just be quiet!” Long story short, Joan and Sherlock are now the proud owners of Romulus, Remus, and Clyde the Tortoise.

Next week: ears! Aren’t you glad the Olympics are over?

A Few of My Favorite Ships

They say you never forget your first ship.

I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but I’d like to give them a piece of my mind. I didn’t realize there were things I shipped until I was about 12, and discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (And its fandom.) About a year after that, I watched Reality Bites for the first time on TV, and Lelaina/Troy became the first ship I shipped so hard it hurt. But, I’m in luck because my favorite ships now, even the ones that never really existed, aren’t quite as depressing (or bad for inadvertently emulating in real life). I’d love to hear in the comments about the ships you shipped (or still do), even when they sank faster than a rowboat made of Swiss cheese.

Rumplestiltskin/Belle

Once Upon a Time

It’s not about Rumple’s self-loathing. (OK, it might be a little about that. I also root for The Hulk.) It’s not even because I have this inexplicable…thing about Robert Carlyle. (Don’t ask me to explain it: I can’t.) It’s not because I’ve always loved the story of La Belle et la bête, even though I knew it was sexist from every Women’s Studies class I ever took. And, frankly, even despite Emilie de Ravin’s turn as everyone’s favorite abused pawn on LOST, I still couldn’t quite separate her from her role as Tess on the WB drama Roswell. But there’s something about how Belle’s resiliency in the face of everyone who tells her ‘no’ – her father, Regina, that dude on the road who threw her book in the dirt – that makes her inherently appealing. She brings out the best in Rumple and believes he is capable of making amends, which is so much more important than believing he’s simply misunderstood. And, in turn, Rumple pushes her to be braver and stronger than she thinks she can be. He knows she’s capable of greatness because he sees her ability to love him as evidence of a depth of potential.

Hamish/Isobel

Hamish Macbeth

I might have mentioned I have a thing for Robert Carlyle? Right. Part of it came from this (relatively) short-lived BBC series, set in the far northern reaches of Scotland. Carlyle is police officer Hamish Macbeth, while Shirley Henderson is village reporter (and his long-suffering love interest) Isobel Sutherland. Their romance stretches all three seasons, but it’s the way the two banter and side-eye each other that makes their inability to get out of their own way worth the wait.

Mary/Marshall

In Plain Sight

Full Disclosure: I haven’t seen all of season three, any of seasons four or five, but my goal this spring is to catch up and finish. However, I think I was sold on this ship in the penultimate episode of season one, “Stan By Me,” in which Mary is abducted, and Marshall only barely hangs on to his composure. It’s a credit to the acting of both Mary McCormack and Fred Weller in this episode, as in one scene their partnership is given a depth that even previous close shaves didn’t draw forth. It’s the strength of their professional partnership, paired with their fondness for each other – even when they’re driving the other batty – that makes them so worth the investment I made as a fan years ago.

Josh/Donna

The West Wing

Does it take the better part of five seasons for anything real to happen? Yes. Does it take another two seasons for them to finally get together? Yes. Is it worth slogging through the political intrigue? YES. Trust me on this one.

Wendy Watson/The Middleman

The Middleman

I swear, it’s not a height thing or an age thing or a mentor/mentee thing. And I understand that The Middleman and Lacey’s forbidden love is true and epic, while Wendy and Tyler were the perfect proto-hipster romance. But where Lacey and MM were the ‘bells are ringing, birds are singing’ type of love, he could never tell her the truth, for a variety of reasons. Likewise, if The Middleman had made it to a second season, Tyler’s involvement with Fat Boy was always going to present a hurdle for Wendy as she would never quite be able to trust him. Consequently, it’s entirely practical for Wendy and MM to eventually turn to each other for companionship – but practical isn’t always enough for a relationship. More important than sharing a Mission (and a non-disclosure agreement), Wendy and MM had similar values, priorities, even sense of humor – and they had trust. They were friends first, and their romance? It would have been genuine and epic. (OK. Maybe it’s a little bit of a height thing.)

Anya Jenkins/Rupert Giles

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I can’t explain the appeal of this one. Of course, it was formally introduced in season six’s “Tabula Rasa,” but I think it was their team up in season four’s “Fear Itself” that first made me tilt my head and go ‘huh.’ Or maybe even a season earlier, when Giles was the first man in a long time to stand up to Anya in “The Wish.” Granted, had they ever wound up together, one or the either would have been devastated by events of later seasons, but the good times might have made up for it.

Jeff/Annie

Community

While Rumple/Belle brought Becca and I together, it was Jeff/Annie that first introduced me to Kerry. I agree with her thoughts on this ship, but I also find I like how these two do more than bring out the best in each other: They force the other to be more inventive, to find new ways of getting things done. Or put another way, she’s just as selfish as he is, and she’s getting better at it.

 

Buffy/Spike

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This was the first ship where I knew enough to call it a ship, so it holds a special place in my heart. There’s been an awful lot of ink spilt, real and virtual, about this ship by people much smarter than me. (It’s totally normal to read academic criticism about favorite TV shows, right?) But when you have a heroine who always has and always will put the good of the universe above her own wishes (Why, yes, I am ignoring the climatic arc of the season 7 comics. Thanks for noticing!), there’s something appealing about the thankless partnership between someone driven by duty and someone driven by devotion to that person.

Anne Shirley/Gilbert Blythe

Anne of Green Gables/ AoGG: The Continuing Story

If the above pairing was the first ship I called by name, then Anne and Gilbert was the first ship I ever shipped, before I even knew what shipping was. So much of this pairing comes from the chemistry Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie shared, even as young teens, which managed to whet the appetites of a 80s audiences who wouldn’t be content with poetry recitations and tame waltzes. Still, even though I’ve read the books and seen these series countless, I still find myself hoping they’ll get together sooner than they do because they so deserve to be happy together.

Hope y’all had a non-depressing Valentine’s Day. Now, if y’all will excuse me, I’ll be hiding from Kerry for using one of her fanvids.

My Favorite TV Ships

It’s Valentine’s Day, which means it’s time to celebrate our favorite TV ships! These are current and Of All Time ships (so, you know, they’re kind of a big deal) and I’d like to hear your picks or disagreements in the comments. (Chuck/Blair fans need not apply. Just kidding. Or am I?)  

 

Barney Stinson / Robin Scherbatsky

How I Met Your Mother

I love how these actors play off each other, and their love story in the early seasons was fun and unique. They’re each selfish and bad at relationships, but somehow, they fit together perfectly. They called it quits once, but they never stopped loving each other, which means this marriage might actually work. It won’t be without its ups and downs — they wouldn’t be Barney and Robin without their explosive fights, ridiculous antics, and scotch-sipping — but I believe Uncle Barney and Aunt Robin will be just fine. 

 

Dan Humphrey / Blair Waldorf

Gossip Girl

I was a fan of this pairing almost from the beginning. Two characters from different social circles, socioeconomic statuses, and perspectives, Dan and Blair always had compelling interactions and a fascinating push-and-pull even when they were on opposite sides of an issue. The show started with a decidedly Dan/Serena bias, but it shifted the focus quickly to Chuck/Blair, which made any potential of a Dan/Blair relationship seem unlikely. Season 4 surprised everyone by finally throwing Dan and Blair into a storyline where they gradually realized their similar interests and equal intellect. Their ever-present chemistry intensified as Dan realized his feelings, and eventually, they ended up dating despite it all. This will always be both my favorite and least-favorite ships of all time: They were so great when they were allowed to be themselves, but ultimately the relationship sank into the dank and foul cesspool known as the Gossip Girl writer’s room. I’ll always blame Stephanie Savage for that.

 

 

Emma Swan / Jefferson

Once Upon a Time

A single episode launched this ship for me. Sebastian Stan and Jennifer Morrison had crackling chemistry, but his busy schedule made him a rarity in Storybrooke, so the relationship never came to fruition. It’s a shame, because she doesn’t have the same chemistry with Neal, and she and Jefferson could’ve bonded over their children. (Maybe Grace would’ve made Henry a little less irritating. A girl can dream!)

 

 

Greg House / Allison Cameron

House

Emma Swan’s lack of chemistry with Neal on Once is even more confusing when you consider the first three seasons of House. Cameron challenged House and made him softer at the same time. I don’t know why this show was so reluctant to explore their dynamic (one date and a few allusions to feelings did not amount to a fair shot) but I always found this relationship far more compelling than the one between House and Cuddy. I suppose, in the end, House never felt like he deserved Cameron.

 

 

Guy / Marian

BBC Robin Hood

I know I already talked about Dan/Blair being my favorite and least-favorite ship, but oh, this one probably beats that. I mean, at least Dan never stabbed Blair through the midsection with a sword and killed her. Marian probably could’ve planned that a little better — maybe don’t tell your scorned lover that you’ve been in love with his mortal enemy while he’s holding a sword in your general vicinity — but it doesn’t excuse Guy’s actions. Still, I think back fondly on all of those intense scenes between Lucy Griffiths and Richard Armitage (a leather-clad Richard Armitage at that…) and I wonder where it all went wrong. I guess they couldn’t go against canon and have Marian run off with the villain, but at the same time, was that their only solution to the problem? Robin/Marian had their fans but their sweet scenes were always overshadowed by the intensity of any and all Guy/Marian interactions. I guess the chemistry between Richard and Lucy was so powerful that the only option was to murder.

 

 

Harvey Specter / Donna Paulsen

Suits

They’ve worked together for years, and their relationship is the only healthy thing Harvey has in his life. Why can’t these two just get together already?! Three seasons is long enough, writers!

 

 

Jeff Winger / Annie Edison

Community

I love this ship even if half the time, it feels like fanservice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my favorite moments with these two are the small ones, like when they unknowingly mirror each other’s body language, or when Jeff desperately tries to convince Annie that “fat dog” is a thing, or when they team up together and work in perfect unison to defeat the Chair Walkers during The Floor is Lava, or when Jeff stands up for Annie without even realizing it. I love cutesy capers and “platonic” shoulder-holding as much as the next shipper, but give me Jeff and Annie teaming up or interacting normally and I’ll be perfectly content. I don’t even need it to be endgame — that’s what “Gravity” videos are for.

 

Joan Watson / Marcus Bell

Elementary

Marcus clearly has a soft spot for Joan, and Joan’s always so happy to see Marcus. It’s not a ship I feel particularly strongly about — if one of them starts dating someone else, I won’t be too upset — but I’d really like to see this show explore the possibility. They’d make a very good team, and it’d be nice to see that side of Bell in particular.

 

 

Leslie Knope / Ben Wyatt

Parks and Recreation

They are perfect together. He complements her dorkiness (and even surpasses it sometimes — he nerds out about numbers and Star Trek harder than Leslie nerds out about Harry Potter) and he’s always on her side. I defy you to find a healthier relationship on TV.

 

Logan Echolls / Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars

Turbulent, passionate, damaging, “spanning years and continents, lives ruined, bloodshed, EPIC” are words that I (and Logan) would use to describe the relationship between Veronica and Logan. He has an intensity that would make anyone else uncomfortable, but Veronica always knows how to match or parry that. The first season was my favorite, because we got to watch Logan’s feelings develop as he got to know Veronica, and we also got to watch Veronica lower her guard and give in to her instinct when Logan first kissed her. For years, their lives after the show ended were always open-ended, but no longer: now, we have a movie.

 

 

Michael Scott / Holly Flax

The Office

Poor Michael was always so desperate to be in love that he seemed like the type of person who would either marry a horrible person (like Jan) or would stay single forever. Enter Holly Flax, a bigger dork that Michael, with a bigger heart than even Pam Beesly. I cried when Michael proposed, and I couldn’t even watch his last episode until last year, but it helps to know that he’s out there somewhere, happily married and probably talking with Holly in their Yoda voices as you read this.

 

 

Mindy Lahiri / Danny Castellano

The Mindy Project

IT HAPPENED. IT FINALLY HAPPENED. It was much sooner than I would’ve thought, and so passionate, and so perfect that I’m afraid to expect a happily-ever-after. Danny said it himself: Mindy forces him to be the best version of himself, and that, among other things, is what he values so much in her. I never thought two characters with such passion about such different things would be a good match, but somehow, Mindy and Danny always seem to find middle ground. Watching them claw to that middle ground is always the best part.

 

 

Miranda / Gary Preston

BBC Miranda

The great thing about this relationship is that the feelings are always there. Gary clearly has the same feelings for Miranda that she has for him, but he’s afraid of commitment and of being tied down. Miranda’s kind of the same way, but with trust issues as well (which is why she took his secret marriage so badly) and a deeply ingrained fear that she will eventually drive him away. If they can work to overcome their insecurities, they’ll be an amazing couple — they’re both quirky in the same way, and ugh, they’re an utter delight to watch.

 

 

Oliver Queen / Felicity Smoak

Arrow

This is a relationship that I’m happy to watch for the slow burn. I might even be okay if they never get together, it depends on how the writing goes over the next couple of seasons. Their scenes are always so emotionally charged and riddled with nuance that no matter who Oliver sleeps with or who Felicity dates, the audience will always know that the bond between them is the deepest of any on the show. As long as that stays the same, I’ll always be a fan.

 

 

Richard Cypher / Kahlan Amnell

Legend of the Seeker

The show was cheesy, the story was always bordering on melodramatic, and yet somehow, these two always made the show worth watching. Of all of the ships on this list, I don’t think any of them come close to the chemistry between Bridget Regan and Craig Horner.

 

  

Ted Crisp / Veronica Palmer

Better Off Ted

I rewatch this show at least once a year, because it’s funny and I often forget a lot of hilarious scenes. One thing that has never changed is how much I love Ted and Veronica’s interactions. Veronica often confided in Ted, and Ted often went to Veronica for advice. They had a quirky friendship that ran deeper than the clipped voices and sarcasm they often shared. They slept together early on, but it’s never revisited in the two seasons before it was tragically cancelled. Instead, Ted convinced himself he had feelings for Linda, which was a pairing I never understood. (Sorry, Ted/Linda shippers… if any of you exist…)

 

 

Ted Mosby / The Mother

How I Met Your Mother

I still don’t know her name, but I do know I love her ukelele rendition of “La Vie en Rose.” I know that she makes her breakfast food sing showtunes, and that she really does do those robot paintings that Ted talked about. I know she makes Ted ridiculously happy and that she agrees to name her kids Penny and Luke. I know that it only took 22 mintues of “How Your Mother Met Me” for me to love her as much as any of the main cast (and more than I love Lily). And I also know that as it stands right now, Ted doesn’t deserve her… but I hope in the handful of episodes that remain, that he redeems himself enough to be worthy of the awesomeness that is The Mother.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

“It shouldn’t be a secret, especially from you.”

**This episode contains spoilers from episode 2.15 of Elementary, “Corpse de Ballet”**

Last night’s Elementary featured a bisected ballerina, so… they’re fans of alliteration and gore! Really, there were so many shots of the victim that it was almost gratuitous.

Do I have your attention now? Good.

The primary suspect is a woman named Iris Lanzer, a master ballerina who is the star of the ballet where the victim, Nell, was killed. Through a series of wild goose chases and lies, Sherlock figures out that Iris is being framed by her lawyer, who was motivated to murder and frame her for it in order to make a name for himself. It was a slightly predictable case (Scott Cohen, of Gilmore girls and The 10th Kingdom fame, was a bit of a giveaway, even if his motive was a nice twist) and it lacked some polish (the lawyer stole and hid the security tapes himself, to be submitted into the court case to exonerate Iris, but how would he be able to do that if the police record showed the tapes were missing?) but it was still entertaining.

It was a case devoid of gunplay or foot pursuits, so it was a perfect time for Detective Bell to return! Joan was thrilled to see him, and Bell seems to hold no lingering hostility toward Sherlock. He’s still not allowed to fly solo, since he still hasn’t been reissued his handgun, but it’s a start!

For an episode that was billed as being ballet-centric, it was surprising when Joan peeled off early on to go help out a client for the homeless charity that she works for. His name is Morris Gilroy, and he’s a schizophrenic who is off of his meds. When Joan asks what he was screaming and violent about, the beat cops call him “a nutbar,” which makes Joan bristle. Morris is ranting that one of his friends, Freebo, had been taken, and Joan promises him that she will work to find him.

She enlists Bell’s assistance in tracking Freebo down, but her lack of involvement in the central ballet case confuses Sherlock. He remarks more than once on her peculiar focus on the rantings of a homeless man, but Joan continues to deflect him. It’s not hard to do: Sherlock is engrossed in his own case.

She follows a lead to Queens, where she talks to a woman claiming to be Freebo’s sister. Freebo is an Army veteran who was diagnosed with severe PTSD, and his sister expresses her gratitude that Joan is looking for him. Sherlock later complains about the smell of cigarettes on Joan’s clothing, and makes another allusion to his “monographs” about tobacco as he easily identifies the brand.

It’s not until Joan’s preparing to go to the homeless shelter to talk to Morris that Sherlock presses her for more information. He backs off immediately, apologizing for intruding, but Joan says, “It shouldn’t be a secret, especially from you.” Joan reveals that her father, her biological father, is schizophrenic, and that he is also homeless.

 

I thought it was interesting that Sherlock hadn’t figured out that Joan was raised by her stepdad, I think it really humanizes him: Even Sherlock Holmes misses things sometimes. He also shows a great ability to sympathize with her, only asking the pertinent questions (“When was the last time you saw him?”) and grimacing at her in understanding. Watching this version of Sherlock continue to put himself in someone else’s shoes (usually Joan’s) and view the world as an outside observer to his own, that’s really something.

Through her own investigating (and deducing) Joan figures out that the woman claiming to be Freebo’s sister is actually holding him captive in her home, in order to cash his Veterans Benefits checks. In fact, the woman and her husband have three homeless men chained in their basement. Her understanding of schizophrenia (that Morris’ ramblings were not just drunken nonsense, they just had to be deciphered) and her determination to do the right thing resulted in her rescuing three men that no one else would’ve thought to look for. She’s a hero.

 

At the end of the episode, Sherlock appears with a stack of blankets he intends to give out to homeless people at the park. Joan’s touched, and Sherlock smiles at her sweetly as he waits for her to get her coat. Awwww.

Another interesting tidbit: Joan notes early in the episode that Sherlock’s been more sexually active in recent weeks. He claims it is for exercise and nothing more, but Joan’s casual observation turns to judgment when Sherlock sleeps with Iris, the lead suspect in his investigation. Could this be a result of his interaction with Moriarty a few episodes ago?

“We all have to keep secrets, Miss Smoak.”

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.13 of Arrow, “Heir to the Demon”**

It was a Lance family reunion last night on Arrow, but it didn’t exactly go as Oliver (and Quentin, and Sara, and the viewers) had hoped it would.

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Last episode, we saw Sara drawn back to Starling City by Oliver, who called her when Laurel showed up drunk and insulting everyone in sight at Verdant. Sara showed up just in time to watch Laurel collapse in a drunken (okay, poisoned) state and then boom, we were made to wait an entire week — seven whole days! — for sister reunions.

Well, the reunions went a bit out of order. The episode opened with a beautiful woman (Spartacus alumna Katrina Law, but I recognized her from Legend of the Seeker) at the Starling City airport, where her passport is flagged by A.R.G.U.S. She knocks out a bunch of guards and saunters through the terminals, and I actually wanted to see more of that. She’s Nyssa al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s (“heir to the demon”), and she’s here for Sara… but not for the reason we expected.

 

Yes, readers, Sara is a bonafide bisexual character! Her orientation might have been played as a twist for shock value, but the rest of the characters treat it like it’s non-news. Indeed, Lance outdoes himself for Father of the Year award by simply expressing his relief that she had someone to love during her six years of hardship. Hooray! This show did it right!

Sara admits that she loved Nyssa, and not just because Nyssa rescued her. But Sara asks Nyssa to convince her father to release Sara from the League of Assassins (we learn that he’s only excused one person before: Malcolm Merlyn). Nyssa doesn’t take this well, and decides to kidnap Mama Lance, who is in town to help care for Laurel after her apparent overdose.

 

The showdown is explosive and emotionally-charged: Lance and Sara bust in and rescue Dinah, who is shocked to see her daughter is alive. Lance drags Dinah out of the warehouse before they can have much more than a tearful embrace, and it turns out Sara’s taken a lethal dose of the same snake venom that Nyssa had used to poison Laurel. After Oliver appears and saves Sara’s life with his Magical Healing Island Herbs of Sunshine and Happiness, Nyssa releases Sara from the League of Assassins. That won’t be the last we see of her!

Speaking of the island, this week’s flashbacks go all the way back to six years ago, where we see the Lance’s side of the story of the week that the Queen’s Gambit sank. Last season, Quentin and Dinah’s relationship was so strained that it was hard to imagine them happily married, but in this episode, we finally got to see the Lance family together and happy, for the most part. Laurel and Sara get into a fight about Oliver, because Sara is flirting with him via text while Laurel’s trying to find an apartment for herself and Oliver.

Sara: “This is kind of assuming that he’s ever ready to settle down.”
Laurel: “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Sara: “We both know at least ten girls that he’s slept with.”
Laurel: “Can’t you just be happy with me? If you met some amazing guy who wanted to spend the rest of his life with you, I would be so supportive and so happy for you –”
Sara: “I wasn’t trying to be a bitch.”
Laurel: “Title of your autobiography.”

It’s not exactly what we were hoping for in the flashbacks of Sara and Laurel. It would’ve been nice to see happier times between them before Oliver came into the picture, but clearly their relationship has always had an element of hostility. Sara leaves the room and texts Oliver, “See you at the docks,” and the rest is history.

Laurel drops a plate when she sees the news that the Gambit went missing, but it’s not until Moira rings their doorbell that they get the news about Sara. “The dock master saw her sneak onboard.” Paul Blackthorne deserves all the praise for his acting in that scene (and really, the entire episode.) It’s nice that Lance’s season 1 antics of drunkenness and tunnel vision vengeance was the anomaly, and that this New and Improved Beat Cop Lance is the real Quentin.

Elsewhere, the nonexistent relationship between Felicity and Moira took a huge hit when Felicity confronted Mrs. Queen about Thea’s paternity.

 

 

Her tactics work. She finds a pressure point and bears down (oh, too soon) with all of her might. That Felicity has a history of abandonment was just a bonus; losing Oliver is scary, but the fear of losing someone else was paralyzing enough that she kept that secret for a couple of days, aided by Moira’s constant side-eyes and threatening glances. (I half expected Moira to drag a finger across her throat in Felicity’s direction.)

 

It’s a natural course for their dynamic to take: Felicity and Moira have similar motivations toward Oliver, and both possess a deep loyalty to him, but their moral codes are wildly different. Moira will do anything for her children, even if it means selling her soul or coming off as selfish and conniving. Felicity has the capability to go that far for the ones she loves, but she has an innate sense of right and wrong that makes her question everything and everyone around her, even Oliver and Diggle. It would’ve been nice to get a storyline where Moira and Felicity team up to help Oliver before it took this turn, just to give them a bit more depth, but Moira showed her hand when she called Felicity by her first name. Felicity showed hers when she gave Moira the opportunity to tell Oliver the truth first.

And in defense of Moira Queen, don’t forget that this was a secret over which she was willing to go to jail. Not just jail, prison. For the rest of her life! So when this upstart blonde girl comes in, aggressively telling Moira she doesn’t trust her and that she needs to tell Oliver the truth, Moira essentially went Mama Bear on her. She saw, in her mind, a family torn asunder by a secret she had moved heaven and earth to keep under wraps. No way was she going to let someone as inconsequential as Felicity Smoak undo all of her hard work! (Unfortunately, she underestimated two things: Felicity’s importance, and the strength of the relationship between Oliver and Felicity.)

I’m not saying she was right to manipulate and threaten Felicity in such a way, but it was a great demonstration of the power Moira wields and how she’s made it this far in her life. If we want women on TV to be portrayed as powerful and varying, then sometimes, those strong women are going to clash. Moira fits that bill: Nothing she does is inherently evil, but in some cases, she’s not morally sound. If her every motivation in life is in the quest to protect her children, that makes her one of the most fascinating characters on television.

 

Because of her own family history, Felicity struggles with the secret. Oliver proves to be highly perceptive, and after two days of distraction and jumpiness, he finally corners Felicity at his mother’s campaign announcement rally (as she’s walking away, “Felicity? Fe li ci ty…”) and demands she tell him what’s bothering her. That’s when we finally, finally get a bit of backstory on Felicity: Her father abandoned her family, and all she remembers is how badly it hurt when he left.

 

Moira greatly underestimated their relationship; the moment he takes to process it is probably the most intimate scene he and Felicity have shared. If this were Gossip Girl, Oliver would’ve gotten up onstage and embarrassed his mother, but Arrow is not your typical CW fare. He does right by his mother, but ultimately, he keeps the secret for Thea’s sake. As he leans down to hug his mother, he tells her that he knows the truth.

 

That night, Moira’s worst nightmare comes true.

 

“Because Thea can never find out about Merlyn, and she can never know the truth about us, which is that as of right now, we have no relationship. I will keep up appearances for Thea’s sake. Publicly, I will support your campaign. But privately… we are done.”

Keeping in mind that she was afraid of this sort of thing happening back during the trial, and how happy she was when her kids reassured her that none of her secrets would make them hate her, this scene is particularly affecting. She should’ve taken Felicity up on her offer to tell Oliver herself, because it’s not the secret that he’s angry about, it’s the lie. The subtext is that he’s mad that she went to such lengths as to threaten Felicity, that he now has to keep this secret from Thea, that he can’t trust his mother anymore.

The question is, what does this mean in the war between Moira and Felicity? Is she going to give Felicity the respect she deserves, or is Moira going to try to squash one of Oliver’s closest allies like a bug?

Laurel spends most of the episode in the hospital, recovering from her poisoning (which was originally thought to be an overdose, so everyone was relieved to hear that it was just deadly snake venom that someone had slipped her, at least it’s not rat poison). She doesn’t turn up until the end of the episode, when Quentin and Dinah are tearfully hugging their recently revived daughter on the docks. She looks stunned and shaken before it cuts to commercial.

Later, at Laurel’s ill-fated apartment, three of the Lances are talking about how happy they are that Sara’s back and alive, but Laurel’s still boozing. Sara says Laurel must have questions, but Laurel claims she has none. “I already know all of the answers to them. How could you still be alive? Where have you been all this time? Why didn’t you call us? And the answer to all of them: Because it’s Sara.” The fact that Laurel doesn’t even give Sara a chance to explain herself is evidence enough that she’s not ready to hear any hard truths. Laurel spends her days railing against the world that she perceives as unfair to her, but she insulates herself from the harsh reality that other people are paying for their sins, too. Sara’s paid for hers through six years of exile and captivity. Dinah pays for hers in loneliness and regret. Quentin pays for his by watching his daughter disappear into the same bottle he’d hidden in for five years. Oliver pays for his every single day, in ways that Laurel would notice if she’d just pay attention. Laurel wants to believe that her life is harder than everyone else’s because it’s easier to feel like the world’s victim than it is to admit that maybe she’s just weak. She doesn’t have to be weak, she’s demonstrated strength before, but her constant misplaced blame and isolation from the people who love her is a sign of hiding from the larger truth, and that will always breed weakness. Until I’m explicitly told otherwise, I’m going to start watching Arrow with the understanding that Laurel is on a villain arc.

Quentin starts to ask Laurel not to drink the wine she just poured, but Laurel’s already on the sauce and she snaps at her father, “Dad, I swear, if you say one more word.” Sara asks Laurel not to blame their dad, to blame her instead, and that’s all the invitation Laurel needs. She rattles off a list of ways that this is all Sara’s fault.

 

Given the story Sara told Oliver on the island a couple of episodes ago, it sounds like there’s equal blame to spread around here, but neither woman is blaming the real culprit: Oliver. It was that fateful boat trip that changed everything, he had cold feet about getting serious with Laurel, but he could’ve invited anyone. He chose to invite Sara, and both families were destroyed when the Gambit disappeared.

Laurel forgave Oliver, so why won’t she forgive Sara? It probably goes back to their deep sibling antagonism, and the fact that Sara never seemed to be happy for Laurel’s successes. Coupled with Laurel’s growing self-victimization and the fact that she’s emotionally compromised thanks to the alcohol, it was a tall order to expect forgiveness of Sara anytime soon. Laurel throws her out of her apartment, and Sara goes straight to the foundry.

 

Oliver loved Sara, that much was evident when she first reappeared and he nearly had a breakdown. He spent five years believing her to be dead, and he never hid his feelings for her, not even on the island (where he chose to save Sara over Shado). Their final scene is actually detrimental (and maybe a nail in the coffin) for the Oliver/Laurel relationship; not only did he not spent the five years of exile obsessing over Laurel as we’d previously thought, he spent a portion of it running around with Sara. When he came back to Starling seeking out Laurel, we know it was partially because of guilt… but could it also have been because he thought she was his last connection to Sara? (That makes Oliver the jerk, and it makes Laurel right about a lot of things, but still, it’s up to her to decide whether to move on.)

 

Either way, Oliver and Sara’s emotionally charged makeout (which presumably led to other things) at the end of the episode makes a lot of sense. Their shared history and shared double-lives make them naturally compatible, and the actors have a lot of chemistry. However, Sara’s always been portrayed as a free spirit, and I have a feeling she won’t stick around Starling City for long, especially after being rejected by her sister.

Finally, Slade Wilson watches news coverage of Moira’s campaign announcement as Sebastian Blood walks in to his office. “I warned you not to underestimate Moira Queen.” Sebastian asks what to do next, but Slade tells him to do nothing. “I’ll take care of it.” What does that mean?! I want nothing less than a scene where Slade confronts Moira in person.

The bad news is, we have to wait until February 26th (after the Olympics that no one is going to watch) to find out! How will we survive?

“There’s no one funnier than Ray Holt.”

Brooklyn Nine-Nine won the coveted post-Super Bowl spot this past Sunday (after an all new New Girl, brought to you by Prince and the Ford Fusion, apparently) less than a month after the show won two Golden Globes. That kind of means that if you’re not watching this show by now, you’re really missing out.

This post contains spoilers for episode 1.16 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “The Party.”

While the post-Super Bowl episode, entitled “Operation: Broken Feather,” gave us a cameos by Adam Sandler and football great Joe Theismann, the focus was mostly on the budding relationship between Jake and Amy. Amy was considering interviewing for Major Crimes, the department where Jake’s archnemesis, The Vulture, works, which offended Jake on a personal level. Ultimately, he admitted to Amy that he’s at his best when he works with her, and we inch ever closer to the inevitable romance between the two detectives. There was also a B-plot involving Captain Holt and Sergeant Jeffords attempting to manipulate the staff into working more efficiently to make quotas, which ended up backfiring. It was a very funny episode, but it wasn’t exactly daring in plot construction or characterization (and note to Adam Sandler: less is more).

Tuesday’s episode, “The Party,” was arguably Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s best episode. It’s Captain Holt’s birthday, and his husband is throwing him a party, and some of the detectives are on a mission: Jake, to get the Captain’s husband, Kevin, to like him; Amy, to do recon on the Captain for future bonding purposes; and Terry, to make sure all of the detectives don’t embarrass himself and Holt in a social gathering. Spoiler alert: none of their missions go well. But they’re all hilarious.

Terry forces everyone into an “Adult Parties” meeting (Jake: “Adult parties? Sergeant, I believe they’re called ‘orgies.’”) where he gives them a set of basic rules: no staring at their phones, be on time, and no sweatpants, jeans, or shorts. “And everyone bring a bottle of wine.”

Cut to that night, as the group waits for Jake across the street from Holt’s house. Amy’s waxing poetic about the neighborhood (Terry: “Keep it in your pants, Santiago!”) when Jake runs up, thirty-five minutes late, because he was buying a bottle of wine.

It turns out, they all brought Arkansas’s finest wine to the party. Scully also wore shorts. (“Sarge, it’s not my fault, you said so many things about shorts, I got confused!”)

 

Amy gets awkward as soon as they get into the party. She takes pictures in Holt’s kitchen, making note that he has ingredients for hummus, but Jeffords confiscates her phone. Her recon proves to be fruitless: later, when she asks Holt’s opinions on hummus, he says he has no thoughts about it. She’s crushed, but she’s so determined to get some inside info that she sneaks into Holt’s bedroom.

That’s not nearly as bad as Jake’s attempts to get into Kevin’s good graces. All police talk is banned in the house, and as Jake later tells Amy, “Gruesome murders are the cornerstone of my charm!” He recalls reading an article in The New Yorker when he was in the dentists chair, so he uses that to try to start a conversation with Kevin, but it becomes clear that Jake didn’t really read the article about human trafficking. He ends up on a quest to find a copy of The New Yorker, which he is convinced is in the master bathroom, aka “the crap library!”

Jeffords fails on his mission too. Boyle spills food on himself in the first four minutes of the party, so he holds an impromptu meeting in the corner of the party, where he gives everyone assignments. Boyle is instructed to talk about food (“That’s great stuff, so boring!”) while Amy is told to talk about art history. Scully, “Opera,” with no further explanation, and Hitchcock: “Nothing. Talk about nothing.” Rosa is to stick with Gina to make sure she doesn’t say anything crazy or steal, and Jake: “Keep a low profile, chuckle at anecdotes, try not to start any conversations.” Jake’s outraged that he’s getting Hitchcocked, so of course he ignores that.

 

Jeffords then goes around the party trying to keep everyone in line (“Stop eating crab wrong!”) before he’s caught hiding in the master bathroom with Jake and Amy. While hiding, they find out the real point of contention between Holt and his husband: Kevin didn’t want to invite any cops to the party, and Raymond had made Kevin invite his employees. Unfortunately, that’s when Gina has an allergic reaction to Holt’s pet corgi.

The only person who actually excels at being a party guest is Boyle, who falls in love with a cookbook author named Vivian. He ends up making out with her in a closet. Who would’ve guessed?

The next day, Jake uses his detective skills to figure out that Kevin resents all cops because of how his husband has been treated by the NYPD over the years. After sixteen episodes of us taking the precinct’s acceptance of Holt for granted, it’s a subtle but poignant reminder that Holt hasn’t had it easy. This new crop of detectives don’t bat an eye at Holt’s sexual orientation (in fact, Jake’s relentless teasing of Holt usually focuses on his stoicism, and no one else takes those sorts of shots at the Captain) but as Raymond’s husband, Kevin’s got a long memory. He dislikes cops, because Raymond has been “marginalized, underappreciated, and disrespected by the NYPD.”

Jake gets the team together to give Holt the birthday he deserved: a nice dinner out at a restaurant with his husband. (Amy picked the restaurant, Boyle picked the menu, Terry picked the champagne, Gina returns the silverware she stole at the party the night before, Scully serenades them with opera music, and Jake promises not to talk about The New Yorker ever again.) It’s good, in hindsight, that Kevin was so relentless with his “needling” of Peralta, because it didn’t come from a place of elitism or derision, it was simply his way of vetting his husband’s top employee. Similarly, it’s nice of Jake to smooth things over for his team and for his captain, because it has to be hard on Holt to love his job and the people he works with, and then go home to someone who has nothing but contempt for it. Hopefully this makes his life just a little bit easier.

Other highlights:

“Oh, man! All the orange soda spilled out of my cereal!”

“In high school, I was voted Most Appropriate.” “Ooh, self-burn! Those are rare!”

Everything regarding how funny everyone finds Holt. “There’s no one funnier than Ray Holt.” / “Needling him a new suit? Even when we’re arguing, you’re hilarious! Stop it!”

“I am flummoxed! That’s a word I learned for this party, and I am it!”

And finally: