Diane, The Gladiator

**This post contains spoilers from episode 1.19 of Trophy Wife, “The Minutes.”**

Diane holds up her phone so we can all see that Kate is one whole minute (or maybe it’s 31 minutes, maybe this is a totally reasonable reaction, but I doubt it) to a PTA meeting. Kate explains that she was late because of Scandal and proceeds to spoil some thing that happens probably in a real episode.

Diane: “I would love to hear all about your friends, but I’ll read about it later in your Hello Kitty diary.”

Lifetime moment of silence for Diane Buckley not crossing over to Community. Kate explains that she was talking about a TV show and that Diane would LOVE it and we’re treated to another zinger:

Diane: “I reserve the word love for my children and chocolate with above 75% cocao.”

With that Kate’s first PTA meeting is now in session. On the docket: semi-formal chaperone attire, and while some lady in a super tweed jacket starts blathering about starting a girl’s squash league, Kate offers Diane some granola which Diane promptly chokes on. After some protracted Heimlich attempts both by Kate and Diane, Kate manages to dislodge the granola. Mostly Marcia Gay Harden’s hair looks amazingly silky and lustrous while she’s running around flailing.

Kate: “Are you okay Diane?!”
Diane: “No. Your granola is too dry.”

Jeez. Some people. Later at Chez Harrison, Kate can’t let it go and though Pete tells her it’s pointless, Kate’s putting together a gift basket.

Kate: “I’m just going to keep shaming her with fine jams and muffins.”

There might be a flaw in this plan, because if I started recieving gift baskets full of fine jams for NOT saying thank you, what do you suppose is the LAST thing I’m going to say? Kate is undeterred, even when Pete points out she just stole his muffin. She tosses it back to him, but it sails by and falls to the floor.

Pete, immediately: “You need to leave so you don’t see me eat that off the floor.”

Gpoy, buddy.

He briefly tries to deny his floor muffin when Hillary comes in next but she SO doesn’t care because she’s going to the semi-formal with a cute boy from German club whom she cornered and demanded take her (“Achtung! You’re taking me to the dance.”) Aw, young love.

Pete: “That’s how your mother first asked me out. It worked for a while and then it didn’t.”

Hillary’s too high on control to notice this sage advice, but she does manage to answer when Pete asks what the kid’s name is, and it turns out that Hillary’s date, Evan Kramer, is in fact the son of Paul and April Kramer which sets off alarm bells for Pete.

He runs over to Jackie’s to conference with her about it and we learn that the Kramers were neighbors of theirs – but not the ones who said they stole their wok or dinged their car (Pete: “Were you high our entire marriage?!”). No, the Kramers, on Cypress Street.

Jackie: “Oh! The Kramers! Oooh, smelly bastards! Why do we hate them again?”
Pete: “You don’t remember why we hate them but you remember what they smell like?”
Jackie: “Yeah, wet cashews! Bastards.”

Okay okay, the Kramers lent the Harrisons a garden hose, which apparently had a tear in it, and claimed that Jackie and/or Pete put it there. At least they have a good reason for their cashews being wet. Anyway Pete wants back up that he can forbid Hillary to go to the dance with Evan, which Jackie is totally on board for.

Jackie: “Yeah, my father did it with you!”
Pete: “But we got married.”
Jackie: “Yeah but then we got divorced so he wins. Of course he was already dead, so I guess it’s a push.”

Pete rages against the Kramers a little more (Pete: “I’d rather Hillary went to the dance with literally anyone else.” Jackie: “Yeah, even a murderer!” Pete: “ESPECIALLY A MURDERER.”) just in case there was any question how far this business is going to go.

This scene/storyline is great mostly because Pete and Jackie being on the same team and being all bro-y is fun, and also because Michaela Watkins does this threatening “snip snip” with a pair of minute pruning shears (they’re literally the size of nail scissors) right at the end that is great.

Next we head to Diane’s and get an exterior shot of her gorgeously austere house. All right angles in white stucco, gleaming steel garage doors, and desert-style hardscaping with the most inhospitable shrubs imaginable. It’s flawless.

Kate’s delivering her gift basket, which seems to only include jam and the first two seasons of Scandal on DVD. She should have put a Hello Kitty diary in there too, that would have been cute. Diane, perhaps feeling testy because of the girdle thing she’s wearing to support her bruised ribs, is not impressed:

Diane: “Jam without toast points? What a cruel tease.”

Diane calls Kate out on fishing for a thank you, and Kate cues her up for it one more time, but Diane still refuses. She’s not going to thank Kate for doing something she could have easily done herself by performing her own tracheotomy:

Diane: “It’s an incredibly gruesome and beautiful thing that few people ever get to see.”

That line is just so amazing. Kate, who seems to know when she’s beaten, stalks off in a huff.

Next we check in on Bert helping Warren prepare for the semi-formal with a checklist of essentials:

Tux? Corsage? Signature robotic dance move? Date?

Respectively Warren’s got a check, check, check plus and “small check” on those fronts. He’s asked a few girls but they all turned him down (“They said it would be weird because we go to school together, which is true!”) and I love Ryan Lee’s delivery of this stuff, he’s always so sunny about it! Bert has a relevant anecdote:

Bert: “My mom told me a very moving bedtime story about a Marine who asked Mila Kunis to his dance on the internet and she went.”

Bless this show, it’s a fairy tale for the new millennium!

(And actually it was a Marine Corps Ball Mila went to with a real Marine. Each unit has one every year around the anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps and it’s like prom for grownups. If you ever get invited to a Marine Corps Ball by an even tolerable dude, you should for sure go, just know two things: no matter what he tells you, it is FORMAL. Wear what you would wear as a guest to a black tie wedding. And two: stay near the dance floor after dinner because grown men in dress blues getting down to some dubstep is something you should never deprive yourself of witnessing if given the option.)

Sadly Warren *is* cutting it a bit close on becoming a Marine before Saturday, but Bert was leaning more towards finding Warren a celebrity date:

Bert: “Maybe we could double date. How do you feel about the Fanning sisters? I’ve got dibs on Dakota!”

At apparently the second PTA meeting of the week, Diane is a wee bit late but Kate is bonding with her new mom-friends (or so she thinks, which makes me sad because we know from both the soccer episode and Bert’s birthday that she tends to feel left out of these things) by doing an impression of Diane before she walks in. Tweed Squash Lady suggests Diane go home to rest because she’s worried about her.

Diane: “Your husband works for Blackberry and you’re worried about me?”

For real though, Diane is sore enough that she can’t seem to separate one styrofoam cup from another so I don’t know how she even drove there. She does end up handing over her giant binder, reluctantly.

Diane: “I am warning you, this dance will never come off without me!”
Kate, a bit high on her own hilarity: “Did she just put a curse on the ball?”

Continuing with the PTA meeting, Tweed (whose real name is Iris) brings up squash again, and Kate shuts her down since she’s the only one interested in it anyway with a motion to “quash squash” that passes immediately. Somehow I have a feeling this could be relevant later, I’m not sure why . . .

Back at Chez Harrison Pete, with Jackie in tow, has to tell Hillary he’s forbidding her from going to the dance with Cashew Kramer because his parents aren’t good stewards of their lawn care equipment. He doesn’t put it in so many words though, because it turns out that Pecan and Acorn already forbade little Cashew from taking Hillary to the semi-formal anyway.

Pete: “Did they say why?”
Jackie: “Was it the hose?”
Hillary: “What hose?”
Pete: “A 20-foot hose with a detachable nozzle, doesn’t matter.”

Pete and Jackie try to convince Hillary to let it go but she literally beseeches Pete (Jackie: “I’d go easy on the big words Hill.”) to go talk to the Kramers on her behalf. Pete agrees and Hillary squeals happily and gives him a big hug and an I love you before scampering off to check in on Warren and Bert, who are also squealing.

Hillary: “What is it?! Did you finally finish Charlotte’s Web?”

But no, “not even close!”, Warren just got a reply to his You Tube video pleading with Vanessa Hudgens to go to the dance with him and she said yes! Hillary doesn’t believe it, so they show her the video, which features Warren wrapped in an afghan, talking about how “ill” and “sick” he is, how he doesn’t have much time left, and some input from Bert about how it would make Warren’s wish come true. Hillary lets him know he basically just lied that he has a terminal illness to get a date, but Warren objects.

Hillary: “You were wrapped in an afghan!”
Warren: “Uh, yeah because I wanted her to like me for me, and not my body.”

Hillary insists he email back Vanessa Hudgens’ manager to let her know about the mixup and Warren agrees, crestfallen.

At Buckley Palace, Diane’s maid Claudia brings her the Scandal DVDs she must have thrown away by accident (Diane: “I never do anything by accident.”) and pops one in the player. Diane, lounging in ivory silk pajamas with a glass of red wine, is immediately taken with the vision of Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope wearing and doing the very same.

And thus, a fangirl is born.

The Kramers live in this kind of bonkers house – brick red stucco with green trim and a terra cotta tile roof? Jeez – and Pete warns Jackie before they get out of the car that since she can be “a bit of a hot head” she should let Pete do the talking.

Jackie, eyerolling exactly as hard as the audience: “Smart. Good plan. Love the plan.”

Pete greets Pistachio and Almond who are conveniently outside working on their lawn already, and Pistachio is pleasantly returning the gesture when he’s interrupted.

Jackie: “Cut the crap Pecan!” (Okay fine she uses his actual name, Paul) “You look 10 years older than the last time I saw you 2 years ago!”
Pete: “So much for the plan.”

He asks about the whole dance debacle and Acorn starts to deny it:

Jackie: “Cut the crap April! I haven’t seen you in a long time and your skin does not look good.”

Pete brings up the hose incident as clear evidence of their smallness as people, so Almond calls Cashew himself out to ask him directly what these insane people on their lawn are talking about. Turns out, Cashew lied because he didn’t want to go to the dance with Hillary because she’s scary.

Cashew: “She’s SO bossy, and she uses big words, and she wears blazers. For two years I thought she was a teacher. I’m really sorry.”

Pecan (played by Andy Buckley who you may recognize as David Wallace from the US version of The Office or if you’re as distracted by his mustache as I am, Spike Jonze’s Her) makes some amazing gloat-face at Pete, who comes to Hillary’s defense:

Pete: “First of all she doesn’t just wear blazers, she wears neckerchiefs and barn jackets. You’re trying to spare her feelings… just try and tell the truth.”
Jackie: “Okay! I’m sorry. I tore the hose.”

Diane is now on the edge of her seat with a giant bag of baked cheese puffs (man do I want some of those now) and her red wine, narrating the relevant plot points to Claudia who’s just trying to get her vacuuming done before her husband comes to pick her up. Diane shushes her, has her sit down and share some cheese puffs.

Back at the PTA meeting Kate is a big hit, and so is her Diane impression, complete with robot voice and arm motions (“I am Diane. I cannot human smile.”). Also popular are her renditions of the gym teacher and the principal, all spurred on by Tweed Iris, tapping away on a laptop the whole time. Turns out she’s transcribing the details of all this mess for the minutes of this meeting to send out to the “whole school community.”

Plot Twist! I told you squash would be important.

Kate chases Iris down in the parking lot after the meeting with a compliment on her jeggings and awkward segue into asking her to not publish any of the horribly inappropriate things she said and did in the meeting in the minutes. Iris agrees way too easily with the caveat that an earlier-mentioned budget surplus get put towards a girls squash team, and then she gets full on evil, revealing that she of course made herself look like a contentious objector to Kate’s performance and wondering aloud what kind of recommendation letters Kate might expect from him for her kids when they’re applying to colleges.

I didn’t know it was common practice for a principal to write recommendation letters for students if he obviously never had them in a class, but then I went to junior college for my MRS so this isn’t my area of expertise.

Kate, stunned, can only watch as Iris drives away and screech, “I HATE YOUR JEGGINGS!” fruitlessly into the night.

Pete’s dreading telling Hillary that the boy she literally described as “cornered” wasn’t actually all that jazzed about being ordered to take her to the dance. If you ask me this is a lesson far better learned in high school than after two kids and however many years of marriage like Diane. Who come to think of it hasn’t actually learned that lesson yet, but I still hold out hope for Hillary. Jackie’s looking on the bright side:

Pete: “How do you tell your kid someone doesn’t like them?”
Jackie: “I know, thank god we’ll never have to deal with this with Bert.”

Pete sits Hillary down and lies to her that Pistachio and Acorn are just crazy people who are still holding a grudge about their hose. Hillary unknowingly calls his bluff and says that she’ll just go talk to Evan because of course if everyone knows that if parents are being unreasonable you don’t have to listen to them. So then Pete has to forbid her to go over there and we end up at:

Pete: “You can go to the dance with ANYONE else.”
Jackie: “Even a murderer!”
Pete: “ESPECIALLY A MURDERER!”

Hillary, shocked, gasps that she hates him and storms out. Pete feels bad about it, but Jackie sweetly reminds him that it was nice of him to protect her feelings.

Pete: “It makes me uneasy when you agree with my parenting style.”

Me too, but for the reason that Hillary’s more than old enough to experience the consequences of being bossy, just like wussy Cashew is old enough to be held accountable for lying. I know, I know, it’s a sitcom, people are named after nuts, let it go Mary.

Would you believe we’re just now getting to the big Scandal tribute moment? Don’t worry, all the set up has been worth it.

Kate busts into Diane’s house, where she is ensconced now with Claudia and Mr. Claudia, all three watching Scandal which Diane promptly turns off and denies watching. Kate doesn’t call her on it because she needs help with this PTA debacle. Diane springs into action as music starts in the background, ordering Kate to put a tail on Iris first thing the next morning to get some dirt. Claudia is in charge of talking to Iris’s house keeper, and “Claudia’s Husband!” is in charge of looking up Tony Goldwyn’s filmography online (“I KNOW he’s been in something and it’s driving me crazy!”).

Now we’re in full-blown montage mode, and it’s awesome. Kate hides in a bush to take pictures of Iris playing Minesweeper while eating at a sidewalk cafe, then pulls a file out of a cabinet in what looks like a basement (we’ll learn more about that later, they got a little too excited about this lens flare/prism effect for me to make out everything on the file label), Claudia’s Husband identifies Tony Goldwyn as being best known for Ghost, Tarzan, and The Last Samurai, and Claudia adorably procures Iris’s actual literal dirty laundry.

Warren is ready for the dance, looking as precious as any 15-year old in a tux can really hope to be (“I’m going to this dance and my date is life.”) and Bert has him bend down so Bert can pinch his cheeks and reassure him that “Vanessa Hudgens doesn’t know what she’s missing.”

It’s exactly as cute as it sounds.

In a red and orange-lit shadowy school office, Iris is again tapping away on that laptop. Kate and Diane enter, each in a fabulous beige coat and leaning menacingly over the table.

Iris, shaken but cocky: “I was just going to send out the minutes!”
Diane: “The minutes can wait a minute.”
Kate: “We only need a minute.”

They lay out their evidence; Iris’ Wellesley sweatshirt, her daughter’s sucky grades, and Diane’s encyclopedic knowledge of Wellesley’s “anemic” women’s squash program. Iris counters that wanting her daughter to go to her alma mater isn’t a crime, and Kate counters that using the PTA laptop (seriously, your PTA has its own laptop? Damn) for personal use is, and they have a picture of a matching serial number on the laptop Iris used to play Minesweeper at two different restaurants in one day.

Kate, for the big finish: “It would be a shame for your daughter to find out that you were trying to get her into college.”

I was ROLLING at that line, it was perfection.

Iris, caught, concedes and deletes the word document of the PTA meeting minutes, and then Diane flips the laptop over and ruthlessly rubs a magnet over the bottom to scrub the entire harddrive.

Iris: “My high score!”

Diane and Kate peace out, each with a saucy, “it’s handled,” and that is, apparently, how Trophy Wife does Scandal.

I can’t speak to how successful it was as an homage given that I’ve never seen an episode of Scandal, but this A-plot was the funniest of the episode and played up the tropes of Scandal‘s genre perfectly so I’ll raise my red wine and baked cheese puffs to another successful episode.

Mary is a military wife, mother, and certifiably pathological fangirl. Though she’s written before, this is her first foray into blogging. Her interests include livetweeting, cooking, baking, buying, and – most importantly – eating food, puns, and deciphering her toddler’s attempts to speak English. Follow her #mamatweets, #wifepeopleproblems, and #islandproblems (it’s not all complaining, honest) on Twitter at @maryarrr

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“Harness that light that’s still inside of you.”

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.20 of Arrow, “Seeing Red.”**

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Buckle in, because there is a lot to unpack from this episode. I want to start this off by saying that this is easily one of the best episodes of the series. The pacing and plotting were tight, the transitions were smooth, the emotions ran high, and all of the characters managed to be likeable even though they were all being extreme versions of themselves (except Laurel, who only appeared in flashbacks).

Since starting my blog posts about Arrow, one of my favorite things to dissect has been the character of Moira Queen. She gets a lot of hate from the fans, usually because she’s lying to Oliver, threatening Felicity, or, you know, that time she played a part in the deaths of over 500 people. She makes tons of bad decisions, a lot of dubious calls, and clearly exists in a morally grey area. No one would call her a good person, but she’s not inherently evil, either. Ever since we’ve known her, Moira has always been single-minded: She will do absolutely anything in the best interest of her children.

This philosophy often backfires for her. She was so determined to keep Oliver and Thea safe from the clutches of Malcolm Merlyn that she allowed herself to be part of the Undertaking. It resulted in Oliver’s broken trust as well of the loss of his best friend. She wanted to protect Thea (and the rest of the world) from knowing her true paternity, but the secret destroyed her relationship with her daughter. Indeed, the very trait that Oliver seems to derive solely from his mother is the one trait that Thea can’t abide in either of them. Secrets, lies, and half-truths are the only reasons Moira and Oliver have survived so long in this world, and they tell themselves that Thea’s lack of duplicity is the thing that will ultimately destroy her, so they take on the burden themselves. Even in his deepest hatred of his mother, Oliver’s instinct was still to keep the truth from Thea, in order to protect her. Thea is their innocent, despite the fact that she’s withstood more than either of them understand.

Oliver’s kept so many secrets since that shipwreck, but none as big as The Arrow. He kept that secret from Moira, and she, in turn, kept it a secret that she’d figured it out during the Undertaking. It’s not clear why she decides to tell him now, just before her big rally, when he’s still lying to her and pretending his broken leg is just a motorcycle accident. He freezes with his back to her, because he has to make a decision: more lies, or truth by omission? And if it had been anyone else — Laurel, Thea — he would’ve kept lying. But this is Moira, and the one thing they have in common is their secrets, it’s the bond they’ve always shared. So he takes a moment to turn around, and goes with the truth. He instinctually tries to stop her from saying the words, but this is Moira, and she’s already three steps ahead of him. “There’s nothing else to say, nothing I need to say, except I could not be more proud.”

 

It’s such a great moment for Moira, who goes on and holds her rally, deciding not to resign her candidacy in order to work on her relationship with Thea. She even looks to Oliver in the crowd for strength. It’s all done with the belief that she’s not done making bad choices — she will always choose her children over The Greater Good — but there’s also a sense that maybe she’ll start trying to emulate her son and try to fix the problems of the city, problems that she and her family created in the first place.

The flashbacks to this episode are not island-based, but instead involve Oliver confessing to his mother that he got a girl pregnant. Moira snaps into protection mode, asking all the usual questions (“Are you sure it’s yours? Is she after our money?”) before hiring an investigator to research the young woman. She offers up a million dollars if the woman tells Oliver she lost the baby, and another million if she went back to Central City and stayed there. Toward the end of the episode, past!Ollie gets a phone call confirming that the woman had miscarried, but the implication is that he actually has a six- or seven-year-old kid running around Central City, just waiting to show back up in mid-season 3. So that’s fun.

The flashbacks serve to show the sort of lengths Moira goes to in order to preserve her childrens’ futures, so that it makes a lot of sense later when she offers herself up to be slain in place of one of her children.

After the rally, the Queens are in a limousine heading for home, and just as Moira is about to tell Oliver and Thea that Malcolm Merlyn is alive and lurking offstage, just waiting for the season finale, their limo is t-boned and the screen cuts to black. Oliver wakes up to find his mother and sister bound and kneeling, with Slade looming behind them. Does this sound familiar? It should, because it’s how Ivo made Oliver choose between Sara and Shado over five years ago. Oliver starts crying and shaking his head, because he knows how this ends, but that doesn’t stop Slade from monologuing in front of a confused Thea and Moira.

He and Oliver argue about Shado, with Slade finally conceding the point that Shado’s heart belonged to Oliver, only to have Oliver choose someone else over her. It’s also the first time Slade indicates that he’s hallucinating Shado, just like Roy was hallucinating Thea earlier in the episode. Moira figures out with dawning horror that Slade was on the island with Oliver, and the music gets even more foreboding.

Oliver begs Slade to kill him, but they both know that’s an empty request. Slade wants Oliver to suffer, he won’t suffer if he’s dead. Instead, Slade gives Oliver the choice, and for the second time in his life, Oliver is faced with an impossible decision. And for the second time in his life, Oliver screams “No!” rather than choosing. It’s when Slade turns the gun on Thea that everything changes. Moira stands and offers herself so that both of her children can live. Oliver cries and begs her to stop while Thea sobs and asks what she’s doing.

Slade points the gun right at her face, his one eye filled with tears, and Moira yells, “Thea, I love you! Close your eyes, baby!” They’re her last words; Slade praises her for the bravery her son lacks, then he stabs her in the torso with his sword. Just like last time, when Shado was shot, Oliver’s body goes limp and he falls over sideways as his mother crumples to the ground.

She got a better ending than Shado, and hopefully that’s because some writers learned from Shado’s death. At the time, we suspected she would be killed, but we thought it would be in battle, or in defense of Oliver or Slade. What we didn’t expect was for her to be bound, powerless and kneeling, with two men deciding whether she lived or died. None of that was Oliver’s fault, but it still rankled that a warrior like Shado went out at the split decision of a man.

Slade wasn’t there for that, as he told Oliver when he first awakened. He wondered how Oliver looked, how it happened, and what was said, but he doesn’t know. Moira is no warrior, she was only ever blue-blooded, sharp-tongued, and calculating… but she was also self-sacrificing, fiercely protective, and based every decision on the welfare of her children. This was her moment, because she could not live after watching one of her children die. She already faced the reality of outliving each of her children: when Oliver disappeared for five years, and when Thea was abducted by Slade. She knew she could never survive that, she knew the only course of action was to protect her children one last time, so she stood up and sacrificed herself. She begged her daughter to close her eyes, and the last thing she heard was her daughter’s screams, because her son had been shocked into silence.

As Moira lay on the ground, Slade stands over Thea and says, “There is still one person who has to die before this can end.” Oliver faintly protests, clearly in shock, and for a second it looks like Slade will behead Thea, but he only cuts her hands free before walking away. I’m not sure who else he intends to kill. The easy bet would be on Sara, since she was the one Oliver chose over Shado, but if Slade’s going for the biggest emotional impact, I still think Diggle, Felicity, and Laurel are in the mix there. The fact that Slade didn’t kill Thea says something about his priorities.

Slade probably always intended to kill Moira in this standoff. He must’ve had this planned for a while, because he had the perfect clearing (which so resembled the one where Oliver had to choose between Sara and Shado), he orchestrated the crash, and he needed Sebastian Blood to be the next mayor. There was no version of this showdown that didn’t end with Moira being killed. Even if he didn’t expect Moira to stand up and show the bravery her son so lacked, Slade probably knew that Oliver would’ve dove to protect Thea over Moira. She is their innocent, and a world where Oliver and Moira are the last Queens alive and burying a murdered Thea is a bleak world indeed. Moira never would’ve forgiven Oliver, and Oliver never would have forgiven himself.

It’s disheartening to watch Slade playing Oliver like a fiddle. We watched as Sara tore away at Oliver’s hope, because her nature is darkness, self-preservation, and pragmatism. Oliver’s nature is to believe, and when he loses that ability, he retreats in on himself. He goes back to his island and sleeps on the ground and runs through the woods, haunted by his ghosts, until someone else who believes comes to rescue him. We watched that light die out on the island, slowly but surely, starting with Yao Fei and lasting up until the current flashbacks. He was a kid who couldn’t kill a chicken, who believed that there was a way off of that island without letting it become part of him, but by the time he was rescued in the pilot, he was all darkness and distrust. The fact that Oliver refuses to give up on Roy is not weakness, it’s that same belief that Oliver’s always had inside him, the belief that there is still some humanity left even in the worst people.

That makes Sara’s story twice as tragic, because she was lighter and brighter than Oliver before their shipwreck. She’s been broken and mended more times than we know, and now, she doesn’t know how to fight in this world without the instinct to kill. Oliver’s fought that same instinct since Tommy died, but Sara’s become too hard-wired and too removed from her old life to be able to go back. She says goodbye to Oliver, saying “You deserve someone better, someone who can harness that light that’s still inside of you. But I’m not that person, and I never will be.”

 

She doesn’t apologize for who she is, and she doesn’t leave to change herself. She recognizes that her relationship with Oliver is not built on mutual trust or similar outlooks, it’s solely based on shared history. It ran its course today, because her instinct to kill was so corrosive to Oliver. She gave up on Roy too soon, and it hurt Oliver every time she challenged him on it. Don’t get me wrong — Sara was probably right! Roy might be past repair, and there is a dead cop in his wake even if he does come to, which makes Oliver’s decision seem even more foolhardy. But if Oliver decided Roy wasn’t worth saving, then where would the line be drawn? Would he sacrifice Diggle or Felicity, or even Sara or Laurel, for similar reasons if it meant helping the greater good?

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Sara leaves with a hug and a goodbye to a confused Sin, but she’ll be back. Sin, meanwhile, had a big episode. She was hit pretty hard by Roy after she encountered him in the street, and she’s the one who alerts Sara and Oliver to his whereabouts when he closes himself off in the clock tower. That’s where Roy ends up breaking Oliver’s leg (or blowing out his knee? I’m squeamish about that stuff so I didn’t look too closely) before ending up in the street, where Sin watches in horror as he rampages. It results in the death of a cop, which should’ve been Oliver’s cue to start using deadly force.

Roy’s hallucinating a version of Thea that begs him to kill her, which is why he ends up at Verdant, wrapping his hand around her throat. That’s when Sara tries to take the kill shot, but Sin gets between them, spurred by the same instinct as Oliver to save her friend. That gives Oliver the opportunity to shoot Roy in the chest with three arrow tranquilizers, which finally takes him down. They strap him back to the table downstairs in the lair, but honestly, I don’t know where the Roy storyline will go from here. He ran around town without a mask, causing tons of property damage, injuries, and one fatality. It’s nice that Oliver thinks he’s still worth saving, but how will the show rectify Roy’s public perception, assuming he actually comes back around? How will they explain everything to Thea?

Other observations:

– Thea and Diggle’s scenes were adorable. I like the idea of future lurking on Diggle’s part as Thea acts exasperated, but that seems like a lot to ask of a show that just got so dark in the last ten minutes of this episode.

– Speaking of darkness, fandom seems to think Felicity is the answer to Sara’s bid for more light-harnessing in Oliver. The show seems to be hinting at that, since they’ve used the word “darkness” in connection with Laurel a lot this season, plus Felicity’s name means “happiness.”

– There was also this:

 

Because I am still a shipper at heart even though I try to be non-partial in these reviews.

– Lastly, this:

Because Diggle is perfect and he Diggle’d all of his scenes. Even when he took a rope stand to the face, he took it like a champ.

Next week: A funeral, a missing former CEO, a crying Felicity, and an Arrow confession from Oliver. I really hope he’s either telling Beat Cop Lance or Thea, because at this point, I don’t want anyone else to know.

Introduction to Story Logic

This post contains spoilers for episodes 5.12 and 5.13 of NBC’s Community, “Basic Story” and “Basic Sandwich,” respectively.

It’s taken nearly a week for me to corral my thoughts about the Season Five finale. And, truthfully, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it.

After hashing it out with Becca and comparing notes with Kerry, we three came to a few conclusions. First, we’re unhappy with the lack of good storylines for the ladies of the Study Group. Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Alison Brie are accomplished, talented actresses who happen to be pretty damn funny.

 

 

The two-part season finale once again saw them relegated to supporting roles for a Jeff-centric storyline, and Jacobs and Brie’s characters were essentially props. I’m fully aware that Community was always intended to be a vehicle for Joel McHale – and Chevy Chase, to a lesser extent – but there have been plenty of episodes that made Abed, Troy, even Dean Pelton, the focus. The same cannot be said of Shirley, Britta or Annie. For a show that is normally fairly progressive, turning the women of the show into addendums smacks of that *other* Thursday night sitcom, which consistently wins in the ratings despite offensive jokes, tired stereotypes, and female characters with all the depth and breadth of a dusting of snow on a parking lot in late April.

Second, we three were frustrated by the ways in which the finale ignored established character traits and plot points. For instance, Annie’s tearful outburst in “Basic Story” is entirely out of line with instances where Annie cried previously.

Bravo WWHL

Pretty much my reaction.

Likewise, Britta’s quick agreement to have sex with Jeff, to ‘christen’ the new study room table, seemed bizarre given the multiple times she’s said sex with Jeff is unenjoyable, awkward, and ultimately undesirable. And nearly all of those instances took place under Dan Harmon’s guidance, so it’s not simply a matter of hand waving all of Britta’s objections aside as part of the Gas Leak Year.

Furthermore, several of Jeff’s comments seemed out of character. In “Basic Story,” he tells Annie he doesn’t love Greendale; he tolerates it. He adds that he loves only himself and Scotch, which not only contradicts his actions in “RePilot,” but also his Winger Speech at the end of “Introduction to Finality,” *and* his return for the climax of “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.” (Plus, the audience has seen inside his heart in “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts”: The only things in there are Scotch, boobs, and Annie.)

Then, his insistence through the first two acts of “Basic Sandwich” that Greendale isn’t worth saving – that it’s time to let it go – flies in the face not only of three seasons worth of his actions indicating otherwise, but his behavior in that very episode: If he didn’t believe for a moment that Greendale was worth saving, he would have left. Instead, he sticks around not only for the explanation of Russell Borchert’s history, but also for the hunt for the missing computer labs.

Retro-Girl811

In which Davina sums up my feelings regarding this lack of character consistency.

At this point, we know that perhaps the only reliable narrator on the show was Pierce – and perhaps Vicki. So, it’s not unusual for Jeff’s actions and his words to be in direct conflict. What is unusual for Jeff to give up on Greendale so quickly and dismiss it’s importance in his life. That was the Jeff of Season One, prior to “Comparative Religion.” Jeff Winger, circa “Investigative Journalism” forward, may not be fond of Greendale or what he feels its done to his life, but he understands that he’s benefitted from attending the school. It is, perhaps, the only lesson he’s ever learned.

Likewise, his comment in “Basic Story” that Britta and Troy’s short-lived romance was ‘boring’ is strange and abrupt.

Somewhere Only We Know 7

Yep.

While Troy and Britta may have dated during the Gas Leak Year, the seeds of their relationship go back to Season One’s “Interpretative Dance,” or at least to a certain moment in Season Two’s “Basic Rocket Science.”

Community GIFs

That’s called -well, that’s called a hug. But in a story sense, that’s also called leaving a door open for later.

Granted, Season Four may not have handled Britta and Troy the way Harmon would’ve liked, but that pairing wasn’t pulled from thin air.

Finally – and, in the interest of full disclosure, this is probably because Kerry, Becca, and I have always considered ourselves Jeff/Annie shippers – we were annoyed by the treatment of those character’s friendship, and by the insinuation of an Annie/Britta/Jeff triangle, which reduces the two women to little more than plot points who bleat tired accusations at each other.

Community GIFs

Full Disclosure: This is just a gratuitous GIF at this point.

Sure, there was a point – probably early that first summer, after the Tranny Dance (see “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited”) – when many Jeff/Annie shippers would’ve been happy to see these two become End Game: They fall in love, follow a pretty standard romantic-comedy trajectory, and the show ends with them together. Probably not married, and certainly not with kids, but with a stable enough foundation that they would have a mostly content future. But those hopes rather quickly deteriorated under the weight of two factors: Spoilers for the Season Two premiere, and the difficulty of articulating why Britta deserved better than Jeff, but he’d still be a perfect choice for Annie.

 

Many of the original Jeff/Annie shippers liked Britta as much as any of the other characters. (Largely because Harmon intentionally made her the butt of jokes designed specifically to garner her sympathy.) Those folks had to work to find a point where Jeff would have changed enough to be good for Annie without changing all the traits that made him unsuitable for Britta.

Community GIFs

And that’s what I think they call a ‘curveball.’

But the “Basic Story”/”Basic Sandwich” arc gives us a Jeff/Britta pairing that feels unearned (even after Jeff’s reactions in “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality”), followed up by the insertion of Annie as an unwanted antagonist. Annie’s reaction to Jeff’s announcement that he and Britta are getting married is too broad and unspecific, especially given her reactions to similar revelations during “Anthropology 101” and “Paradigms of Human Memory,” not to mention her exasperation when Jeff and Britta almost married each other during “Urban Matrimony.”  And as sweet as the moment between Annie and Abed in the bowels of Greendale’s hidden computer department was, the escape scene at the top of the third act, which could be read as a Jeff/Annie affirmation, felt equally unearned: We no longer need a big declaration of love, but moments like these are like patronizing pats on the head.

For a show that prides itself on remarkable plot continuity, the finale felt sloppy. The lack of independent plot for the women of Greendale isn’t enough anymore, despite Community never having insisted they be little more than screeching, sexless mothers, girlfriends, and friends/sisters. And if Harmon & Co. aren’t going to treat the hearts of their characters with even a modicum of respect, then perhaps the show should stick to Dan’s Season One mandate to get the romance out of the way and not put anyone together.

I think, in the end, we were disappointed that the parts were greater than the whole. This isn’t an issue of Community having overstayed its welcome, unlike some shows whose novelty has worn off and are now nearly satire of what they once were. Hell, Community is like that person who comes to your house party, sitting quietly in the corner, and every time you look over, they’re always having fun with someone, but they’re not the life of the party. That status, as a sort of afterthought, or the lack of ratings doesn’t make the show any less funny, less quotable, or less relevant. Even in their off moments, the cast is still top-notch and better than 90 percent of what you’ll see on network or cable TV.

Pop Culture Brain

The tagline. It’s like someone was inside my head. Like I was – *mind robbed.*

But even with the captain back on the bridge, the show feels directionless, the course arbitrary and meandering. Couple that with the flippancy with which our beloved characters are treated – the lack of care for their inner life and the disregard for the consequences of their actions – and it’s tough not to feel that words aren’t being put into the mouths of the Greendale Five because of hurt feelings and thwarted ambitions.

 

Drunken Hanna

Presented without comment.

And if TV has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes no king is better than a mad one.

“Welcome home.”

**This post contains spoilers for 2.19 of Arrow,  “The Man Under the Hood.”**

arrow219

Two weeks ago, in my review of “Deathstroke,” I talked about how disappointed I was that Beat Cop Lance still did not know the identity of the man under the hood, as well as the fact that I disliked Laurel knowing Oliver’s big secret. I also touched briefly on the fact that we aren’t as plugged in to this version of Team Arrow, now grown to five members. Well, I’ll go ahead and say it: That’s what I get for judging storylines that were still in progress. (In my defense, I’ve been burned on this front before.)

The biggest issue, for me, was the Team Arrow stuff. As we picked up in last night’s episode, “The Man Under the Hood,” we learned pretty quickly that Roy was still on the run. That left the remaining four members of Team Arrow to work together to blow up the Applied Sciences division of Queen Consolidated, in order to stymie Slade even a little bit in his quest for world domination. This required all four of them, as they set off detonators around the warehouse and took out guards (non-lethally, of course) in unison. It’s this sort of one-off, two-minute sequence that could’ve elevated the previous episodes and given the viewers the reassurance that Team Arrow is still a well-oiled machine. There was no bickering, in fact, there was even some banter. I wish this sort of scene had come sooner, but at least it happened now.

The second biggest issue was Laurel. I talked about this last time, how I’m not sure how the team would work with Laurel in the know. It would change the dynamic of everyone: Oliver would feel torn between the Lance sisters, there would be potential animosity with Sara, Diggle deeply distrusts Laurel and her hold over Oliver, and of late, there have been some not-so-friendly overtures on Laurel’s part toward Felicity. I know Laurel’s knowledge of the Hood was an inevitability, but I think it would work better if she joined a team that wasn’t so big already.

But once again, this show surprised me, dovetailing Laurel’s storyline neatly with Beat Cop Lance’s. She’s pretty sure Slade’s telling the truth about Oliver, and when she goes to tell her father, Lance stops her.

Lance: “Don’t say another word. Don’t say anything. Listen, there was a time that I would’ve sold my badge to know his name, you know that. But then I realized I didn’t care I knew who he was. In fact, I didn’t want to know who he was.”
Laurel: “Why not?”
Lance: “Because I knew if I knew who he really was, then he would become a person. Maybe he’s got family, friends, people that care about him. Someone with a life. Then he couldn’t be what I needed him to be. What this city needs him to be. It’s The Arrow that matters. The man under the hood isn’t important. Can you imagine what it’s like to be him? What he has to live with, day in and day out? What that’s gotta be like? The least I could do is sit in here and do a little bit of time for him.”

Lance has come such a long way, but I really love the boost to his characterization that this reveal gives. It’s never been about his detective skills — he’s not a bad detective, as I’ve been not-so-nicely screeching for the past few weeks. Instead, it’s something so quintessentially Lance that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner: He forces himself not to figure it out. He goes out of his way to block out the details — the stubble, the movements, the ringing phone, the Smoak connection — in order to preserve his own peace of mind. If he knew it was Oliver Queen under that hood, he couldn’t bring himself to call The Arrow and put himself in danger. Not now, after knowing what Oliver Queen has been through. Not knowing that both of his daughters would be destroyed if Oliver died. How could Lance look Moira or Thea in the eye if one of his calls ended Oliver’s life?

He calls on the Arrow because he needs the Arrow, and bringing any humanity into it is what would ultimately ruin the charade. It’s dehumanizing, but it’s also exactly what Oliver asks for, because he wants to be a tool used to fix the city. The alliance between them works as it is, with the perfect anonymity and plausible deniability. Do I believe Lance doesn’t know it’s Oliver under that hood? I do, because I think Lance works hard to convince himself that he doesn’t know.

Laurel, on the other hand, is not so much like her dad. She’s too inquisitive by nature to just will knowledge out of her brain. Slade planted the seed, and her pursuit driving and absurd murder board helped it grow. She’s certain now, and while she heeds her dad’s advice by not confronting Oliver, she also can’t help but remember his words when she encounters a brooding Oliver at Verdant: “Can you imagine what it’s like to be him? What he has to live with, day in and day out?” It results in an unexpectedly touching scene, where Laurel just hugs him. She wraps her arms around him and offers comfort, and (equally as unexpectedly) Oliver accepts the comfort.

 

In fact, a lot of the darkness surrounding Laurel seems to be lifting. She expertly strongarms the district attorney into freeing her father and getting him reinstated following his prison cell beatdown, and she confirms that she’s still attending AA meetings regularly. There’s still some grittiness around her edges, and the ruthlessness she displayed to the D.A. could still swing into villain territory, but for now, this was one of the most enjoyable Laurel episodes since season 1.

While the smaller parts of this episode worked to smooth out the wrinkles from previous weeks, the big plot involved Slade. He effortlessly infiltrates the foundry, greeting the team with a chilling “Welcome home” before issuing threats and shooting bullets all over the place. It’s a tight and intense fight scene that ultimately sends Oliver and Sara to the hospital (under the guise of a motorcycle accident, which Laurel doesn’t buy for a second) but not before Oliver does an amazing flip over the stair railing, scooping up Felicity as he goes, and landing both of them on their feet. It might be my favorite stunt they’ve ever done, window-smashing be damned.

Slade wasn’t there to kill anyone, though — he stole a skeleton key, which means he needs something big. That leads them to Star Labs, of Barry Allen fame, where we come across two soon-to-be Flash characters: Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon. They do their best to fight off Deathstroke, but he makes off with a biotransfuser in the end, and Oliver and Sara arrive too late to stop him. Felicity later reveals that she is friends with Caitlin and Cisco, and at the end of the episode, she even entrusts them to create a cure for the Mirakuru.

{Sidenote: Everyone likes to tease DC for sticking to Batman when they want to reinvent the franchise, but I think the CW is onto something here. This is an ingenious way to do a backdoor pilot, because it’s not asking us to care about these characters exclusively for an entire episode like Gossip Girl’s failed Lily-centric backdoor pilot did. It just has them as guest characters, already somewhat fleshed out, in a universe with the title character of their future show. It enables the cast of both shows to move back and forth as needed when they need to cross storylines, and it builds up even more potential to do additional spinoffs, because why stop at Flash? Marvel can do it with blockbuster films, why can’t DC do it on television?}

A power surge leads Oliver to a building where Slade is using his new gadget to create a MirakurArmy, but he’s not the source; Roy is. Slade appears, with a smirking Isabel Rochev in tow, and they say that they found Roy in Bludhaven, where he was easily overpowered. Another fight ensues, with Isabel shooting a gun while Slade and Oliver battle, and Oliver manages to surprise Slade with a Mirakusplosion, giving him a chance to free Roy’s cuffs. Unfortunately, Isabel has the bead on him, and just when you think she’s about to take the kill shot, she’s shot twice in the chest by Diggle. Go Diggle! And here’s your first life lesson, should you ever confront your very own nemesis who is in possession of some miracle drug: Never leave the bodies behind. Isabel’s awake and Miracured by the end of the episode.

Speaking of Isabel, she and Oliver had a confrontation at QC earlier in the episode, where she revealed that she and his father were soulmates. Robert was all set to leave Moira and run away with Isabel when Thea fell off her horse and broke her arm. “I begged him not to go! I reminded him that Thea wasn’t his!” This is news to Oliver, who thought his father died believing himself to be Thea’s biological father. He’s stunned enough to go looking for Thea, not ever really questioning that this whole soulmates thing sounds like it belongs on Revenge more than Arrow.

And let’s talk about this soulmates business for a second. Right as Oliver confronts her in her office, she claims that she is “under 30, and the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.” First of all: congratulations? So was Oliver. But besides that, let’s assume that Isabel is 29 years old. Oliver’s been back for almost two years, and he and his father shipwrecked five years before that. So if we’re being generous both with Isabel’s age and with the timeline, and we assume that Thea broke her arm and tore Robert away from his soulmate right before he got on the Queen’s Gambit, Isabel was still only 22 years old at the time. The alternatives are even worse: If it was a whole year before Robert died, Isabel was 21. Either way, she’s always been Oliver/Tommy/Laurel’s contemporary since, again, she went out of her way to tell us that she’s under 30, so ostensibly, Robert was prepared to run away with a woman who was roughly the same age as his son.

It’s an odd thing to learn about Robert in an episode where we also find out that he knowingly raised a daughter that was not biologically his own. One action is supposed to outweigh the other, and indeed, Oliver chooses to focus on the good part as he tries to talk to Thea, and he never really connects the dots for the audience that the Robert/Isabel romance is even creepier than the simple fact that Isabel purposefully seduced her soulmate’s son. I’m not one to get squicky over age differences — I’m a Community fan — but this sounds more and more like Robert was leading Isabel on and used Thea’s accident as an excuse to break off a tumultuous affair. This really colors Isabel’s whole vendetta, as well, because it seems like she might actually be horribly misguided in her anger; she shouldn’t be mad at the Queen family, she should’ve only been mad at Robert.

Since Oliver can’t tell Thea the whole story — the fact that Robert chose to stay with his family rather than be with his soulmate — the revelation doesn’t change Thea’s mind. She’s packed her bags and declared Moira and Oliver a bunch of liars who lie, and she doesn’t want to live in this big stately soon-to-be-government-owned mansion anymore! She’s leaving for parts unknown! She’ll live in the streets if she has to, just like Jenny Humphrey!

Next week: Roy is loose, and he’s Hulking out! … Wait. Sorry. Wrong franchise. Bruce Banner is loose, and he’s Roy Harpering out! Wait, dangit. Just watch next week. It looks intense.

“Broken weirdo sex addict”

From time to time, reality intrudes on our valuable TV watching time, and we realize we can’t cover everything we love. So, we’ve asked some of our friends to step in and help us out when Real Life gets in the way. And today is one of those days. Please enjoy this Trophy Wife post from Mary.

**This post contains spoilers for episode 1.18 of Trophy Wife, “Couples Therapy.**

This week we have gifs! Sweet beautiful gifs courtesy of our very own Plot-Watcher Kerry! Thanks Kerry!

At Chez Harrison, Kate is regaling a super-bored Meg with tales of preparations for California history day at the kids’ school. Warren and Bert debut their costumes for frontier doctor and double amputee and Warren giggles a little too much at Meg’s ‘asleep with her eyes open’ antics. Pete busts in all, “What’s the haps?! …is something I will never say again.”

Kate proudly shows off her chili and informs him that since Meg and Tevin are off-again and this time he’s taken all the black light art with him, she and Meg are going to go poster shopping.

Pete: “So you’re relieved?”
Meg: “Annoyed, Now all I have is regular light art.”
Pete: “That’s why Diane and I broke up.”
Meg: “I believe it.”
Pete: “You shouldn’t.”

Petition for an episode where Bradley Whitford and Natalie Morales monotone-snark at each other the whole entire time. Their banter continues a bit until Pete reveals that he followed the Duran Duran “Hungry Like The Wolf Tour.”

Meg: “Oh so did my dad!”
Pete: “Get out of my house.”

Kate and Meg oblige (with a really cute super couple-y peck on the lips and exchanged “I love you/love you too”s for Kate and Pete) and then Pete gives Kate’s chili a try:

 

California History Day appears to be kind of an open-air fair with booths set up for history lessons (Warren and Hillary’s Frontier Medicine offering, with bonus frighteningly realistic double-amputee Bert) and food (Kate and Pete’s Chili booth, which is kicking the Frank n’ Beans booth’s kiester (“That’s old-timey for ‘ass.'”). Diane, sporting a super chic black bonnet with her hot red dress, appears to let Kate know she’s been hearing good things about the chili. Kate brags a little more about how she made it and everyone loves it and Diane, obviously setting up for a spit take, replies:

“I always say if it appeals to the masses it must be the best.”

I mean. Probably no one has ever said that without being facetious. At least I hope they haven’t. But then what do I know, I’m a Community fan and I’ve never watched Modern Family. Clearly one of us is wrong, and right now it’s Diane, about her expectations of Kate’s chili, because when she tries it it’s delicious. Maybe if I try Mod- naaaaahhhhhh.

Jackie happens upon Warren and Hillary’s booth, cooing over how “cute and bloody!” Bert is and offering him some corn on the cob on a stick.

Bert: “Well I ain’t got no arms, ma’am!”
Jackie: “Well that ain’t nuttin’ but a thing, boo!”

You guys it looks like she put ketchup on it for him and everything.

Kate has noped out of her own booth to spread a rumour of E-Coli in the Johnnie Cakes and Diane grills Pete on the recipe a bit. He deumurs that she’ll have to ask Kate, so she starts listing ingredients like cumin, molasses, dark chocolate and LIES until Pete cracks and admits it’s his recipe. He threw out Kate’s chili (“It tasted like BALLS”) and substituted his own without telling Kate, which according to Diane is a recurring behavior that dooms all of Pete’s relationships. Not specifically this sort of chili incident, just the lying part. Pete insists he’s changed and when pressed, lies that he and Kate are seeing a couples therapist tomorrow afternoon in fact! Diane reminds him he volunteered for clean up duty tomorrow afternoon but quickly offers to take it for him and actually very sweetly gives him an “I’m proud of you” hug.

 

There’s literally no point to these Jackie&Bert scenes other than cuteness and jokes and I am so, so fine with it.

Kate returns to the Chili booth to snark about how the Frank n’ Beans taste “like balls” and Pete casually lets it slip that he told Diane they were in couples therapy.

Kate: “You dummy, why would you say that?!”
Pete: “Because she thinks we’re not capable of working on our issues.”
Kate: “Since when do we have issues?”
Pete: “We don’t, but saying we do makes it seem like we’re evolving!”
Kate: “But we’re not!”

They deliver all these lines with the cutest breezy smiles, all laughter and sunshine and first-few-years-of-marriage. Pete slyly explains that since Diane is taking over his clean up duty they can not use their fake therapy to go on a real date. Kate, in a rare moment of sitcom trope awareness, thinks it’s a bad idea . . . but not so bad an idea that she’ll skip out on a midweek afternoon date.

Back at Chez Harrison the following day, Warren and Bert are snuggled up on the couch with some popcorn and a telenovela, Hillary needs a research subject for her psych paper on extended adolescence. Kate and Pete are all set for their date, but Warren senses something’s up:

Warren: “You’re either picking up a new brother or I’m going out for more ADHD tests.”
Pete: “We’re just going out . . . Warren, do you worry about those things?”
Warren: “What things?”

They’re met at the door by Meg arriving for a Chez Harrison spa day to alleviate her break up stress in their pool and steam shower.

Kate: “She’s gonna do it anyway so I might as well make it seem like it’s my idea.”

 

Warren’s overly excited to see Meg and she seizes on an opportunity to employ him and Bert as her own person cabana boys. Now about that paper Hillary has to write . . . Meg’s snotty phone conversation – “Shut up Mom, I AM at work! I’m NOT backtalking!” – seals that deal right up.

Kate and Pete are chowing on lobster and scallops because why wouldn’t you when you’re on an illicit midweek afternoon date, high on their own craftiness and cockily quoting cliched communication models.

It’s a whole sexy therapy-less rendevous until they get home where Jackie pops up with some healing muffins for them to celebrate their therapy (“Well I got them at Ralph’s but I put them in my own basket. But therapy! Yay!”) Of course she wants to know what their therapy jam is and who cries more and who they’re seeing, which they make up. Jackie offers to take Bert for one of their sessions which Kate jumps all over, lying that they have another session that same week. Pete’s not pleased even though Kate promises they’ll do a tennis lesson for their second not-therapy session.

Pete: “But now Jackie thinks I have to go to therapy two times a week.”
Kate: “So what? She goes like eleven times a week.”

Pete points out that while a twice-divorced guy going to therapy once a week is healthy, a twice divorced guy going to therapy twice a week clearly means “broken weirdo sex-addict.” Kate has no time for his issues and excuses herself to pick up some of those socks with the little balls on the back for their tennis lesson:

“I’ll see ya later, sex addict!”

Meg’s back for Spa Day two at Chez Harrison and this time Warren is dressed the part of Cabana Man complete with white pants borrowed from Hillary. While Meg gets set up by the pool again, Diane shows up to pick up Bert for his Mandarin lesson, but since he’s with Jackie, Hillary gets to tell Diane about how she’s going to give Meg (“what’s that wastrel doing here?”) the marshmallow test for her psych project, which is where she offers Meg one marshmallow immediately, or 2 if she waits 5 minutes.

Jackie and Bert are in the midst of a fun afternoon of pickling (“Sleep in brine, my little radishes! I’ll see you next week!”) when Diane arrives and it turns out SHE is his Mandarin teacher, which I hadn’t connected before.

 

No picture could ever express how adorable this is, ever.

Jackie’s a bit sensitive:

 

Diane cuts right to the point of why Jackie has Bert when it’s Kate and Pete’s day, and Jackie insists that she’s sure they said they were going to therapy because she wrote it down in her journal, but not her dream journal:

 

Yes, I DID need to include both these gifsets because 1) Jackie!!!! and 2) I’m making up for lost blog posts when there were no gifs at all ever anywhere.

Apparently Pete and Kate’s lie about their therapist being a “Dr. J from Philadelphia” is so obviously a famous basketball player that even Diane knows who he is. That’s not a real thing though is it? It seems like a weird reveal if they’re making up a famous basketball player, because wouldn’t that joke have landed better if they said it was Michael Jordan from Chicago and Jackie still didn’t get it? [Mary and Jackie are cut from the same cloth, as they both don’t know about Famous Basketball Player Dr. J.Kerry] Anyway, at that very moment Kate and Pete are gearing up for their tennis lesson which means Pete is strapping on a massively obtrusive knee brace. But no, no headband for him, he doesn’t want to look like an old guy. Oh Pete.

Warren creepily spies on Hillary giving Meg the marshmallow test, wherein Hillary hands Meg marshmallows and Meg eats them.

Hillary: “Oh my god you are terrible at this!”
Meg: “Am I? I just ate three mashmallows.”

Bert arrives to blow up Warren’s Cabana Man game, dropped of by Diane and Jackie on their way to bust Kate and Pete.

Their instructor is painfully accomodating of Pete’s oldness, or maybe it’s just that Pete’s not good at tennis. The one time I played I got hit in the sternum with a ball and had to lay down for half an hour. No knee brace though.

There’s some pretty hilarious physical comedy when Pete and Kate see Jackie and Diane pull up outside the chain link fence – Pete: “There’s nowhere to hide! It’s all see through!”, while Jackie gets her knee length rayon-silk sweater stuck in the car door: “Wait, wait my . . . thing is . . . stuck.” – and then we get a quick explanation about how Pete has always been obsessed with Andre Agassi and that’s why they knew where to find Kate and Pete. They argue a bit about whether or not Pete avoids confrontation and then Diane spills the beans about the chili.

Kate: “You dumped out my chili?!”
Pete, not helping himself out: “That’s… a… liberal use of the word ‘chili.'”

And Kate storms off in a huff.

Meg is bored of talking (and apparently eating marshmallows), and Hillary chases her around while she wanders the living room in her bikini because her coverup is missing. Warren tooooootally didn’t hide it, if that’s what you’re thinking. He’s too busy plopping half a cucumber in a glass of water for her. Tevin shows up at the kitchen window (“It’s me! I’m in the window!”) and he and Meg fight about whether they’re broken up and if it was Tamika who did his frosted tips. Warren tries to step in, Hillary lets it slip that Meg IS in fact a textbook case of extended adolescence and Meg and Tevin storm off, one offended at being used as a lab rat, and the other enamoured with what a hot rat Meg would make .

Warren goes to lay on his bed and HILARIOUSLY sing along to “Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong” on a walkman, complete with mournful air drums. Hillary comes in, “What song is that?”

Warren: “I don’t know, I just found it in dad’s old tape box and it really spoke to me.”

Hillary tries to comfort him, he points out that he’s all “boy crazy” (Warren: “You know: when a boy likes a girl and gets all boy-crazy about it?” Hillary: “That’s not what it means.”) and points out that their age difference was probably insurmountable anyway. Warren counters that it works for Pete and Kate, and Hillary solves it for him once and for all by reminding him that when he’s 25 Meg will be 40.

Warren: “Ew.”

Kate is doing the full pout on her walk home while Pete drives slowly along side her begging her to get in the car and apologizing and when she finally stops they have it out once and for all about the damn chili:

 

Kate insists Pete stops lying, vows not to make chili anymore (“It’s such a waste of mayonnaise.” ACK) and after briefly considering racing Pete home, promptly hops in the car so they can go get a burger. My kind of tennis lesson.

The tag is literally just Jackie and Diane dishing over some white wine and it’s seriously one of the best parts of the episode.

Mary is a military wife, mother, and certifiably pathological fangirl. Though she’s written before, this is her first foray into blogging. Her interests include livetweeting, cooking, baking, buying, and – most importantly – eating food, puns, and deciphering her toddler’s attempts to speak English. Follow her #mamatweets, #wifepeopleproblems, and #islandproblems (it’s not all complaining, honest) on Twitter at @maryarrr.

Tune In/Tune Out: March 30-April 6, 2014

Welp. I’m watching something now that’s pretty fun, but it’ll have to wait till next week’s installment. In the meantime, anger about a certain series finale aside, there was actually a lot to watch this week. Onto the picks! (For some reason, I wanted to put ‘tally ho’ just now, but I’m going to ignore that urge.)

TUNE IN

 

The Walking Dead: The finale was amazing, and kept the audience at the end of their seats. It is great to see about 84 percent of the group coming back together, but it still leaves so many questions to be answered in season five. I can’t wait to see what stuff and things happen in season five.  – Becca

NCIS: The second half of the backdoor pilot for the bayou-flavored spin-off could have fallen completely flat, but it managed to do two important things in the space of an hour. It successfully built a world for the spin-off to inhabit, and it set forth an interesting ongoing mystery to give the real pilot (presumably next fall) something to draw from when it gets going. – Moff

The Mindy Project: It’s back in a big way, and it’s better than ever. Next week also promises two new episodes, so catch up while you still can! –Kerry

Grimm: SO MANY THINGS ARE HAPPENING. It’s terribly tempting to draw comparisons between this show and ABC’s own fairytale-inspired Once Upon a Time, but it’s ultimately unfair. NBC’s show has successfully built a reputation for compelling storytelling, moments of jump-in-your-seat, and awkward humor, and this week’s episode managed to set up a breakneck race to the season finale. – Moff

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The show gave me a pretty good idea on what would be happening with Captain America: Winter Soldier when I watched it. The episode was intense, and left you constantly questioning who you could trust. – Becca

 

TUNE OUT

How I Met Your Mother: This is probably unfair, since I literally tuned out of the series finale, but it effectively ruined the mythology of the entire show. It deserved a better ending than that. –Kerry

 

Shirley Has Three Kids

Warning: this post contains spoilers from episode 5.11 of NBC’s Community, “G.I. Jeff”

Community is known for their special episodes. However, some of their regular episodes are as great if not better than the special episodes. For me it feels like the story line of Jeff freaking out about his age would have been served better as a regular episode. Instead we got Jeff in a G.I. Joe world during his comatose state.

This episode left me disbelieving the credibility of what was happening. My biggest problem was how Shirley was being portrayed in this episode. The majority of her lines dealt with her only talking about her having three children. This show has proven before that Jeff doesn’t see Shirley only as a mother. If anything she has been shown as a woman who knows how to handle a situation, and make sure she profits from it. Shirley is a great manipulator, and Jeff knows this.

This also leads to another problem I’ve been having with this season with Shirley’s story line. At the beginning of this season, she mentions Andre took their kids and left her. However, the issue has never been readdressed. Instead this season has only mentioned her spending time with her children. What happened with her family problems? A great episode would have been a Shirley centric episode which explained where her family life was now. Not a Jeff is suffering a mid-life crisis episode.

 

*The part where Jeff takes those unknown pills was another moment of disbelief for me. Jeff may be an idiot at times, but the only one I could see taking those pills in that group is Chang.