“That would be some way to leave us.” – This Is Us Recap – Moonshadow

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This Is Us Season 1, Episode 18
“Moonshadow”
Posted by Shannon

The first season of This is Us had some near-perfect episodes. It also had some that stood on the importance of their character development, even when the plot or structure faltered, and some that worked despite sections with deeply problematic writing, but it hadn’t yet had an episode that just fell flat. So it’s especially unfortunate that the first episode to truly disappoint me was also the season finale. “Moonshadow” revelled almost exclusively in the show’s worst qualities, and while This is Us is secure in its unprecedented second and third season renewal, I for one hate that its first season went down like this. With barely a moment for the Big Three, no closure on Jack’s passing, and a lack-luster closing speech, we’re left with some lingering questions and a whole lot of plot devices to tide us over until season two.

Young Jack

 
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A Vietnam veteran, Jack has returned from the war and is living at home, working as a fix-it guy around the neighborhood. Mrs. Peabody, a widow who wants to set Jack up with her best friend’s granddaughter, opens the episode by offering him $5 for fixing up her car and chatting with him in the driveway. (Her car is immediately recognizable as the one Jack drives later on, so all that work on the engine will pay off in time.) Jack is trying to piece together his livelihood on odd jobs, and while he painstakingly saves every dollar he earns in a box with his dog tags, it’s slow going. Not only is he living in his parent’s attic, his horrible father is back and is taking every opportunity to berate Jack and his mother.

At least Jack has one friend to commiserate with; Daryl, with whom he wants to open up an auto shop. They even have a spot in mind, and they spend nights sitting outside of the garage, making plans and drinking beers. Jack and Daryl just aren’t saving up money fast enough, and Jack asks Daryl to get them into his cousin’s poker game in an attempt to move things along. It’s clearly misguided, but we’re still meant to see the origins of Jack’s best qualities in this conversation: against all odds, we’re told that he’s returned from Vietnam without any emotional or physical wounds, and he’s toiling away in a horrible family situation, working hard to pull himself and his mother out into safety. Instead, though, I found this characterization of Jack to be entitled and indignant. When he told Daryl that “we’re good guys, we deserve to make it,” for the first time it occurred to me that Rebecca was onto something when she called Jack out as only acting like the good guy to make himself feel better. Yes, motivation and drive are good qualities, but being a good person does NOT mean that good things will automatically happen to you, and even at this age, Jack doesn’t seem as naive as he’d need to be to believe otherwise.

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Once they get to the poker game, things are even more painful to watch. The set up is a cliché representation of a dive bar, just smoky enough to read as “bad” without actually feeling dangerous, and Jack plays the part of the fool, walking in and winning a pile of money on his first hand, only to bail on the rest of the game immediately afterwards. It’s a bad move in the best of circumstances, and of COURSE it means that he and Daryl get beat up outside the bar, with all their earnings stolen. Jack doesn’t see how foolish his behavior was, instead blaming it all on how unfair the world has been to punish him instead of his father, who’s always broken on the side of the morally bankrupt. He’s chosen to be the opposite of his father, to be “respectful to women, be a good man – look where it’s gotten me.”

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Jack is feeling angsty and angry, and ready to “take the life that I was supposed to have.” He intends to take that life by blatantly standing up his blind date and stealing his poker winnings out of the bar. Everything is going according to plan when Jack spots Rebecca singing an open mic, and stops short his life of crime. I’m not sure what it would have taken for me to find this plot line interesting, or more importantly, actually in character for Jack. Maybe if he’d seemed more genuinely angry or frightened by his life’s path, maybe if his entire character wasn’t now based in Rebecca as his salvation from petty thievery. Maybe if he hadn’t openly decided to stand up some poor unnamed woman, with never so much as a phone call or a thought to her well-being. It’s possible that this will all make more sense if we spend more time with young Jack, but with the context we’re given in “Moonshadow”, it just fell flat. Being a good person is not something to be done for a reward. You do good because it’s right, not because it will pay off in the end in some karmic display of gentle retribution. Before this episode, Jack had never seemed like the kind of person who acted singularly for ulterior motives, positive though they may be. And now that he’s been established as such, it’s that much harder for his words to ring true.

Young Rebecca

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Single Rebecca is, by contrast, living a pretty great life, despite friends who are on a constant mission to set her up. Rebecca is happy to sit alone, happy to focus on her career and to stand up for her individual goals. She’s busy and content, doing open mics and recording demos for a family member who works at a recording studio. Rebecca also manages to be confident in the face of two friends who seem dead-set on feeling bad for her, telling her that she needs to “diversify” her options by taking a date with a guy in finance so she won’t be doomed to go to a wedding alone.

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“Nobody owns me.” – Scandal Gif-Cap – Extinction

Scandal Season 6, Episode 6
“Extinction”
Posted by Kim

What I am loving about this season of Scandal so far is that every episode has focused around one character and the events that brought them towards Election night. We’re spending this week with Papa Pope and we were promised ANSWERS as to who was behind the Vargas assassination. Boy, did we get them…as well as many more questions. To the gifs!

We check in on Papa Pope 53 days before the election. I love that he makes himself breakfast on a tray every day.

A mysterious box is delivered to his door. Me, automatically: 

(It’s a toy dinosaur, btw)

Eli pops in on a college lecture given by Broadway’s Tonya Pinkins and looks endeared by her. 

“It’s the Predators who are the most vulnerable.” That’s not what the Jurassic Park movies taught me.

Eli regresses into his FULL SCIENCE NERD life when he banters with Sandra about Dinosaurs. 

“We are a long way from grad school…” OH THEY WERE A THING.

Sandra takes Eli to a lab that would make Frankenstein jealous. 

SO MUCH FLIRTING OVER SCIENCE AND DINOSAURS. 

“I could use a partner.” Yessssssss.

“This is the part where you’re supposed to give me some advice.” Olivia comes to her dad about the Mellie and Marcus situation which reminds me: FREE MELLICUS 2K17 AND LET THEM BE IN LOVE.

“You’re here, pretending you don’t already know what you have to do. You know. It’s clear.” 

“She wants it almost as badly as you do, but there is a difference. She is weak. She is undisciplined. She is soft.” Excuse me, SIR.

“She has never learned the hard way that love is a privilege reserved for the victor.”

“I raised a warrior!”

“Eyes on the prize, baby.” I mean even with all the Marcus Drama, Liv’s eyes have never LEFT the prize, she just has a modicum of a conscience.

“Don’t you ever get lonely?” Is that Scandal‘s version of “Don’t you think she looks tired?”

“There he is. The nerd I remember.” I feel like we’re getting a glance of the real Eli here and I am sad.

BUT WAIT THERE ARE HIDDEN CAMERAS IN THE LAB. 

“Anything you need, you just give me a holler.” Remember that lady who scared the bejeezus out of Eli last week? THAT’S HER.

That benefactor that’s paying for Sandra’s dinosaurs? Doesn’t exist. The whole thing is a lie.

“I’m surrounded by children! They don’t know who Marvin Gaye is!” Eli goes to Liv’s house under the guise of raiding her record collection for the lab.

“I don’t play them, I’m busy making a President!” No time for dance parties when you are Queen-making.

“Um how long has that car been out there?” Someone is getting paranoid and it’s Eli.

Eli shows up at the lab with booze and memories about his last dig with Sandra. 

“That’s not what I remember most about that trip.” Soooooo, she’s the one that got away.

“I don’t have a lot of regret in my life. I regret that.” Eli leads Sandra to a closet to make out and I totally buy that this is genuine…

UNTIL ELI PULLS A GUN ON HER IN THE CLOSET. 

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“Suck it up and run the world.” – Scandal Gif-Cap – They All Bow Down

Scandal Season 6, Episode 5
“They All Bow Down”
Posted by Sage

Hello again, Lovers of Liberty! It’s SO good to be with you again, since the gif-cap took a bye week on episode 4. To sum up “The Belt”: prison is NO place for a former Chief of Staff, and Tom admitted that he was paid by someone to say that Cyrus ordered the hit on Frankie Vargas. Our assassin is still out there and the country still doesn’t have an incoming president. So, shall we see what Jake Ballard’s been up to this whole time?

“Not since Christ stood among the lepers has there been such excitement.” InDecision 2016 is Sally Langston’s domain, and she is currently living. (When isn’t she?) She seems to be a proponent of Mellie and Jake, but we all know she’s a fickle bitch.

Vanessa: “I feel like Jackie O. or something.”
Jake: *rolls eyes* 

“America is not electing Olivia Pope. They are electing Mellie Grant and Jake Ballard.” Vanessa tells Jake not to get so grumpy about his “sister” (yikes) telling him what to do and instead to keep his eye on the prize. (Kim: “Every woman on this show is Lady Macbeth.”)

“He is after all…a murderer.” Sally is reveling in Cyrus’s bad luck.

She’s also teasing a sit-down interview with picture-perfect patriot couple, Jake and Vanessa. Who hate each other.

“That’s political money.” “It’s a political lie.” Jake is so done with this campaign and his fake marriage.

Quinn wants to help Cyrus, but Liv does not want to hear it right now.

“Huck found Vanessa.” Olivia spins some yarn to Sally about Vanessa having a vicious flu and being unable to make it out of bed for the interview.

“Lady, you are nuts.” “Maybe, but I ain’t sorry.” In reality, Vanessa is drunk and disorderly and just crashed her car into a tree with a himbo bartender in the front seat. She’s also defiant af.

“Did you wake up this morning knowing you were going to ruin our lives?” “Like you give a damn what I woke up thinking.” While the Gladiators erase all evidence that Vanessa’s little “accident” ever happened, Vanessa and Jake perform a modern revival of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

“You say dance, the monkey dances.” Jake’s version of “playing nice” is being faux-deferential to Olivia, insisting on calling her “boss” and “m’am” until she’s about to either slap him or do him on the desk. (Pick the second one, please, it’s been so long since we’ve had Jake/Olivia hate-sex!)

“Let’s get this over with because I am late for getting away from you.” Get Liv some ointment for that burn.

“I don’t want to win, I have to win. There has to be a point.” Olivia needs to win a “clean” election to redeem her shady dealings in Defiance during Fitz’s first run. She’s a good person, that’s her thing…

“Are you sleeping with her?” Vanessa isn’t an idiot. She senses the intensity between Jake and Liv and totally calls it. So, of course, Jake tells her she’s crazy. Then he fills up her glass, because no one will take a drunk, jilted woman seriously.

“There are places we can send you, nice places.” EVERYONE IS GASLIGHTING HER, THIS POOR WOMAN.

“Give me one more reason to LAY YOU OUT, RIGHT HERE, Vanessa…I am not here for it, not today.” Wow, Liv is only a champion for other women when it suits her, huh?

“I remember because it was when the redhead took my champagne away.” Someone was texting Jake on election night who wasn’t Olivia, according to V.

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“I like the way Sammy sings’” – Supernatural Recap – Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

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Supernatural Season 12, Episode 15
“Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell”
Posted by Dawn and Erica

Oh, Davy Perez, you never let us down. Truth, lies, and some serious demonic mojo were the hallmarks of “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell,” and it was a terrific ride from start to finish. Also, there was no Mary, which was a really nice break, and family drama took a backseat to moving the season’s plot along. Fire up the Impala and let’s go.

Erica: Do you know, it says something about the fact that I really enjoyed this episode, and didn’t even realize that Mary wasn’t in it? Almost as if her presence really doesn’t matter. Yes, I went there.

Before we get to the meat of the recap, we have to give a shout-out to that scene. That short and glorious scene that everyone went nuts over. Lucille. For those of you living under a rock, Lucille is the barbed-wire-wrapped bat that Jeffrey Dean Morgan, once our own John Winchester, now wields with psychopathic glee as Negan on The Walking Dead.

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So well played. So perfect. Davy Perez, we love you forever.

You might notice the song lyric we used for this recap. It’s from BB King’s “Lucille,” so yeah, we did that, but also, it works. Because Sam Winchester gets an award for finally learning a lesson every single Winchester has failed repeatedly – Sammy told his brother the truth. Can you even? We could not even. Sam came clean about all the recent cases coming not from the program he somehow designed and put into his phone, but actually from the British Men of Letters.

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Dean’s reaction to this was…underwhelming, to be honest, and we’re hoping it’s because big brother is playing a few cards close to the vest. We know he doesn’t trust the BMoL. We are pretty sure he doesn’t trust his mother. And he has to know that his brother has a bad habit of making deals with the bad guys for what Sam thinks is the greater good. (A phrase that makes all of us shrink in horror every time it is uttered.) So please, writers, let us be right about that. That reaction was very not-Dean.

What was very Dean, what was very Winchester brothers and the reason we love this show as much as we do, was the easy banter between the two of them. It was very monster-of-the-week, very funny, and downright adorable. Like when Sam was pointing how exactly how covered in monster bits Dean was:

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Or their conversation outside Gwen’s (the “girl of the week”) door, and Dean’s little awesome comments about what they could say to her:

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Dean warning Sam about being careful with Baby and Sam being absolutely over it.

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It was adorable. It was perfect. It was them. We missed it. We love when we have that back.

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“It was enough time to know that I loved him.” – This Is Us Recap – What Now?

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This Is Us Season 1, Episode 17
“What Now?”
Posted by Shannon

After saying farewell to William last week, the penultimate episode of the season is full of complex themes. The Pearson clan has spent their recent days pondering legacy, blame, and forgiveness, and while some are making more concrete moves than others, each of them carry a hefty emotional weight. As we head into the season finale, Randall and Kevin share clarity and opportunity in their work and home lives, while the guilt and shame of Rebecca’s decision to lie to Randall is lifted and transposed to Kate. The legacy of the Hill-Pearson patriarchs is felt fully this week, and their children’s emotional connections to those legacies are not a simple matter. “What Now?” is rife with guilt and mourning, but there’s just as much joy to be found in those moments as there is sadness.  

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Jack/Rebecca

It’s time for Rebecca to head out on her two-week tour, and while she’s packing her best dresses, Jack is staying late at work for a retirement party. He’s under no obligation to stay, and he and Miguel don’t even like the guy they’re celebrating, but Jack is searching for any reason not to go home. While he hasn’t stopped Rebecca from going on tour, he’s determined to be as difficult about it as possible, making her wait until the last possible moments to say goodbye. Rebecca calls him out on this behavior as soon as he gets home, and the two bicker privately in the kitchen over schedule changes and getting the kids to a party. There’s a quiet sadness watching them like this, so disconnected, especially after their night in the old apartment was such a short time ago. They’re at least able to share a laugh over Kevin and Sophie, who are deep in the throes of teen romance and unable to keep their hands off each other, but even that doesn’t break their moods. Rebecca gives hugs to each of the kids, but Jack only offers a kiss on the cheek before she leaves for the van.

Kate sees right through her parents’ interactions, and from the moment Jack walks in the door, she knows something is wrong. She glares worriedly at Jack, urging him to give Rebecca a better farewell just with a quiet, muttered “….Dad….” Their connection is so strong (as is Rebecca and Randall’s) that she can feel every single one of her father’s moods, and she knows that he can do better than he’s doing right now.

 
 
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After Jack drops the kids off at a party, Kate lingers in the back seat, asking pointedly why he hasn’t made the relatively short two-hour drive to Cleveland to watch Rebecca’s show. This is SUCH a tough line for a kid to walk, and Jack does the right thing by assuring her that it shouldn’t be her problem. Her focus should be on “boys, and grades, and that band that sounds like they’re always kidding” – not on the ups and downs of her parents’ marriage. But Kate can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong, and while she does finally leave for the party, it’s only after making sure that her father won’t spend the whole night being sad and alone.

But that’s exactly what he does. After spending some time in front of the television with Chinese takeout, Jack grabs his keys and heads out the door – but it’s not for Rebecca’s show, it’s for his coworker’s after-party. Miguel is nowhere to be seen, but Heather is, and she promptly buys him a beer. She takes the opportunity to ask what’s been bothering Jack, and he opens up with one hell of a Freudian slip. (“She’s on tour with her Ben. Her band.”)  Heather tries to get Jack to admit that he’s having marriage troubles, but Jack isn’t having it. He’s a little too slow on the uptake, but once Heather puts her hand on his leg, he catches up quick, and shuts down her advances. Finally, after listening to his daughter’s fears, and defending Rebecca’s dreams to Heather, Jack knows that this has gone far enough. He calls the party and asks if the kids can stay the night, opening his schedule up to make the drive to Rebecca’s performance. Except he’s been drinking. A lot. After a final conversation with Kate, and after fumbling his keys, Jack gets behind the wheel and heads to Cleveland.

Randall/Beth

 
 
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It’s just been a few days since William’s passing, but Randall is already trying to make sense of the space William has left in his heart and in his home. The last time William was in Annie’s room, he was packing up for his final trip to Memphis, deciding what to take and what to leave. His instruments stayed; his poems were packed.  While Randall sits on the bed, trying to unravel the best way to honor his father’s legacy, (“Do I start wearing sweater vests?”) Beth spots a letter tucked underneath Annie’s pillow.

William rarely did anything without intention. Especially in the final weeks of his life, every single decision he made ensured that the people in his life knew how special they were to him. So of course, in his final letter to Tess and Annie, he knew just what to say. Rather than let Randall and Beth plan his memorial, he asks Tess and Annie to do it. After all, “adults make these things sad, and I want you two to make it fun.” The change in the girls from the beginning of the letter to the end is palpable. They take their mission so seriously, especially their grandfather’s request that it be joyful. Tess and Annie share mischievous smiles, and immediately scrap the plans Beth’s plans for catering and white doves. Randall asks just one thing of his girls: permission to deliver a eulogy. But eulogies are sad affairs, so it’s retitled a toast, and Tess and Annie agree.

 
 
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The Pearsons aren’t the only ones mourning William. I had wondered how Jesse would be included in the memorial, and his call to Randall is full of grace. Knowing himself and the danger of a potential relapse, Jesse has decided to stay in Chicago, but he wants to be sure that Randall knows how much William was loved by him and all of the people in their NA group. Jesse specifically passes along the well wishes of a gentleman named Sebastian, an athlete who started attending NA after an addiction to pain pills. Since no one at the group was into sports, William feigned an interest in football, hoping it would give Sebastian someone to connect with. Jesse and Randall’s conversation is painful and quiet and beautifully written. These two haven’t had the chance to get to know one another, and outside of William, they don’t have much of a connection. But William is enough, and they both feel the need to honor him, to share stories, to laugh when they can, to celebrate his memory. Randall won’t have many people in his life with which he can share those memories, and I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Jesse.

When the neighborhood mailman brings in a perishable box from Randall’s office, it gives him another opportunity to learn the extent to which William was  “a soft arm rest for weary souls to lean on.” After getting to know each other on his morning walks, the neighborhood mailman is devastated to hear of William’s passing. I was so moved to hear him say simply that “this neighborhood will miss him.” Immediately, I flashed to the first of William’s walks, when his mere presence was enough to make the neighbors call the cops. The subtle racism of the suburbs can’t be handled simply, but his impact on the neighborhood is felt in that one line alone.

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“Everybody’s Shouting, ‘Which Side Are You On?’” – Supernatural Recap – The Raid

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Supernatural Season 12, Episode 14
“The Raid”
Posted by Dawn and Erica

So, after the drastic disappointment that was “Family Feud” last week, we honestly were really, really hoping for something better – something to prove that last week was a one-off this season. Our prayers were answered, thank Chuck, with “The Raid.” There was so much to love about this episode, from the writing (by the always-amazing Robert Berens) to the cinematography to the absolute heart-wrenching feels the actors caused in us from minute one (Get ready for some Jensen Ackles love). Because there’s so much to love, let’s get right to it.

Let’s start with Dean. This episode started off exactly where the last one ended, and that was an excellent choice to make because it gave us Dean in the very moment we need him in, the one we wanted to see. Can we just talk about Jensen Ackles in this scene for a minute? Because hot damn. There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language for us to describe the FEELS during this first scene:

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We spend so much time watching Dean just be a hardass or the comic relief that sometimes we forget about the range that Jensen Ackles has as an actor. We were reminded of that this week.

Erica: This show always gives us some feels, but it’s rare to be legit crying in the first five minutes of an episode. The juxtaposition of Mary looking at her phone while being ignored, to jumping back in time watching the familial exchange play out – it felt, rightfully so, like a hardcore breakup scene. Dean was saying to Mary what we ALL have been thinking this season, and you could see just how much it cost him to be saying it. It felt, to me, like that breakup that you know had to happen because the other person just wasn’t feeling it. And you could put in all of the time and all of the effort, but if the other person wasn’t, then you’re just wasting your time and your love. We watched Dean struggle all season with feeling like he wasn’t good enough for his own mother. To have that feeling seemingly validated by Mary’s admission that she was working with the BMoL instead of her own boys meant that Dean was done, and Jensen Ackles did such an amazing job of almost forcing the audience to feel that same sense of defeat. We’ve all felt that way in relationships before, I think, and the writing and acting in this scene reminded us of what that felt like.
Dawn: Dean spoke for all of us, for everyone who is sick and tired of Mary’s bad decisions and lousy parenting and constant absences. Sam usually gets the emotional foreground when it comes to dialogue, and Jared Padalecki’s beautiful puppy-dog eyes may or may not have a lot to do with that. We don’t get a lot of Dean being the emotional backbone – it’s usually jokes or snark, all his normal deflections. But when we do get those moments -”Single Man Tear” jokes aside – they are incredible. This one should rightfully go down in show history.

On to Sam. Sammy, our precious naive moose. Sam is the one who falls for Mom’s text pleas. Sam is the one who goes with her to team up against vampires with the British Men of Letters (BMoL). And in the end, Sam is the one who sides with Mom and thinks that, given time, he can convince Dean to join Team Idiots. Our sweet Sammy ran the emotional gamut this episode, from his teary-eyed “You should go” to Mary (when he was rightfully agreeing with his brother) to eye-rolling (on his part, not ours) superiority when discovering just how stupid the BMoL really are to probably-going-to-be-dashed-very-soon-hopeful when he decides to go with Mary’s (really bad) plan. And let’s not forget his moments of BAMF vamp slaying – Sam is whupping ass like we haven’t seen since he was soulless, and it’s really glorious to behold. Sam has grown into himself as a hunter; he even tells Mary this when she brings up how she didn’t want that life for them. He chose this life, and we really hope that she can see how damn good he is at it. Sure, maybe he would have been just as good of a lawyer, but lawyers don’t stop the apocalypse (of course, they also don’t accidentally release Lucifer or cause angels to fall from heaven, but that’s not the point).

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Let’s move on to the complete cock-ups that are the British Men of Letters. I mean, for Chuck’s sake, guys. Who the hell doesn’t double check their intel? Or vet the people coming through the front door? It was helpful that they had a real hunter on their side (or so they thought) but seriously, we have no idea how they managed to clear the UK of monsters because if this episode was any indication, these people are idiots. Their recon sucked. They have precious little available weaponry. No one in their little headquarters had ever actually killed anything before, save the American hunters the recruited/are trying to recruit. They have no contingency plans. Their arrogance is so undeserved, as far as we can tell, because they are terrible at their jobs. Even Mick, that smooth MF, looked like someone slapped him in the face when their plan went south and the vamps attacked. Really? This is the best of the best? So good that Mary wants to side with them? This is what’s going to rid America of monsters? Please. They can’t even be bothered to set up stronger DOORS. The fact that they claim to have been watching the Winchesters and yet STILL think Mary is “the best Winchester” just goes to prove their incompetence. Team Free Will FTW, y’all. They have it all over these morons.

Ketch showing up at the Bunker was…interesting? Stupid? A teensy bit pointless? (Erica: It’s “How to get a distrustful hunter to let you in 101: bring good booze.” Don’t look at me that way – it’s been done before.) Don’t get us wrong. It was awesome to see Dean staring him down and snarking with barely-controlled disdain and outright murderous hatred. But the Dean and Ketch show kinda got lost amidst everything else that was going on, so perhaps it might have been better saved for a different episode. And also we’re not buying the nice guy act and also how DARE he even suggest that he and Dean are cut from the same cloth. Yes, Dean kills, and yes, he’s good at it, and yes, he knows it. Hell, he’s said it himself, especially when he used to talk about purgatory. Dean Winchester loves to kill him some monsters. But not people. And never without reason. That’s the difference. Because Ketch is a sociopath, pure and simple. If he wasn’t hunting monsters, he’d be one. And Dean knows it. Check that cold Blue Steel:

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“He was the one that could steady you when the world felt like it was spinning.” – This Is Us Recap – Jack Pearson’s Son

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This Is Us Season 1, Episode 15
“Jack Pearson’s Son”

Posted by Shannon

One of the most remarkable things about This Is Us is its ability to speak on a topic before really expanding on the details that brought its characters to that point. This has never been clearer than in “Jack Pearson’s Son,” which, for all of its plot points, truly comes down to one thing: that the death of Jack Pearson, however it happened, has left his family with a lack of a clear moral center. Jack was not a perfect man – and that’s never been more clear than in this episode – but he created a family that relied on him to act as their true north. Their constant. Jack wasn’t a superhero, and of course he didn’t have the ability to protect his children from the difficulties of their lives (Randall will always have anxiety, Kevin and Kate will always live with self-doubt and self-confidence issues) but he was one of those rare people who had the ability to center anyone who needed it. And without him, the center has tilted, spun, spiraled – leaving the surviving Pearsons in chaos.

Jack/Rebecca

Now that we know the ages of the kids when Jack passes, it’s impossible to watch an episode with them as teens without wondering when the other shoe will drop. That awareness leaves this Valentine’s Day celebration with a fog hovering overhead at every moment. Rebecca is about to depart for her five-state, month-long tour, and she’s in the throes of guilt and anxiety. Leaving her family for that long, with one parent to juggle Kate’s music lessons, Randall’s debate team meets, and Kevin’s football games seems insurmountable, but Jack assures her that he has it all under control. He even has time to book their favorite restaurant and their favorite table to celebrate Valentine’s Day – after Rebecca finishes her gig with the band.

Jack puts on his typical superhero husband face while he and Rebecca make plans, but it’s a different story when he’s at work with Miguel. It only takes a little bit of prodding for Jack to admit that he’s not thrilled about the tour after all (“Who does she think she is, Janis freakin’ Joplin?”). Jack refuses to tell Rebecca how he feels, convinced that she’ll resent him for denying her the opportunity – and he’s right. She would resent him – but she’d be right to do so. And what Jack misses entirely is that his feelings about the tour have already bred resentment in their marriage; except it’s Jack who’s resenting Rebecca. He’s clearly worried about Ben, the bandleader we met earlier in the season, and the fact that he isn’t willing to talk to Rebecca about how he feels NOW, before things blow up, is a real flaw. That said, it’s been a while since Jack has shown flaws of any kind, so it was time to see his perfection crack and give way to a bit of realism.

Meanwhile, Miguel has completed his divorce with Shelley and he’s anxious to get back out on the dating scene. He initially asks Jack to go out with him once Rebecca is on tour (and it’s telling to note that he’s quick to assure Jack that he doesn’t have to drink while they’re out, making it clear that Jack’s sobriety has lasted the decade since he decided to stop drinking). Instead, Jack invites Miguel to tag along to Rebecca’s show, certain that there will be some single women out, keeping busy during the holiday. (This single woman wouldn’t be caught dead out at a bar for a mellow jazz performance on Valentine’s Day, but what do I know.)

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Naturally, while their parents are trying to plan their way out of a crisis, the Big Three are in the throes of standard teenage drama. Randall is anxious about his Hamlet paper, which Kevin thinks can only be fixed by setting his brother up on a date, and Kate is quick to jump to Randall’s defense, but does so by outing that Kevin and Sophie have started having sex. Rebecca, of course, overhears all of this, and jumps to attention after hearing that her 16-year-old is sexually active.

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She and Jack sit down to talk to Kevin, making sure that above all else, he’s being safe and respectful. There’s no way to have this conversation that isn’t mortifying for all parties, but I do have to say that Jack does an exceptional job. His priorities are clear and on point, and he doesn’t linger or try to make Kevin feel ashamed of himself. However, he also doesn’t really have much of a chance to get beyond the basics before Randall, steadily spiraling into a panic attack, interrupts. The small signs that we know in adult Randall are all here – he’s breathless, shaky, and can’t quite form a cohesive argument while he tries to explain to his father that he hasn’t been able to formulate a topic for his Hamlet essay. Jack immediately calms him down, breathing with him, removing him from the basement and focusing his son by asking him to walk Jack through the life and times of the Prince of Denmark. It’s handled ably and quickly, but Rebecca sees all of this as proof positive that she cannot possibly go on tour right now.

Jack, once again, assures her that he has everything under control, and that she can’t miss touring with the band. But everything comes to a head when he and Miguel arrive at Rebecca’s show that evening. Jack doesn’t really focus during the whole performance; instead, he spends the entire time eyeing Ben, sizing him up and trying to decide if he and Rebecca are flirting on stage while they duet. Miguel isn’t concerned, assuring Jack that it’s a performance for the crowd, but Jack is having none of it. This is a side of Jack we haven’t really seen before; he’s cold, defensive, distracted and above everything else, painfully jealous.

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When Ben greets Jack after the performance, he certainly doesn’t help the situation. The two men are both varying degrees of passive aggressive, sizing each other up with every word and glance. Ben drops that he and Rebecca used to date in college, and all hell breaks loose right in Jack’s eyes. He moves from distraction and distance to severity and bitterness, even hints of rage. He ends the night abruptly, insisting that he and Rebecca cancel their traditional Valentine’s Day bacon cheeseburgers and go straight home instead.



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This is the first Real Fight we’ve seen Jack and Rebecca weather. Back in the beginning of the season, when Rebecca confronted him about his drinking, she was so clearly in the right that there wasn’t much nuance to the disagreement. But this argument has all the messiness and chaos of a fight with no real right or wrong. They both say things they shouldn’t say, things that will haunt their relationship from that moment on, and it says so much about their characters at the same time. Rebecca DOES feel like she’s sacrificed for Jack and the kids; how much she regrets that decision is unclear, and while I don’t doubt her love for her family for a SECOND, it’s easy to see how much joy performing has brought back into her eyes. She needs to have something that’s only hers, and that’s not too much to ask. However, the family has done nothing but support her new musical venture. Jack, on the other hand, knows those things to be true, but he spins out in every sense of the phrase. His constant perfection is exhausting, even though it’s not an act (and no one, certainly not Rebecca, would have thought of it as such). But no matter how genuine his drive to be a perfect father and husband is, it leaves him feeling entitled – entitled to Rebecca telling him every slight detail of her past, regardless of her feelings, and entitled to deny her the right to go out of the house to follow her dreams if he so chooses.

A fight this deep and biting can’t be sorted in the blink of an eye, and they don’t try to. Jack heads out to dinner, alone, and orders a drink. He downs it so quickly, and with such visible relief and anger, that any doubts viewers might have had about the severity of his addiction are immediately wiped away. This is a Jack we haven’t really seen before, and it’s not pretty.

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“No, I would not give you false hope on this strange and mournful day.” – Supernatural Recap – Family Feud

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Supernatural Season 12, Episode 13
“Family Feud”
Posted by Dawn and Erica

So after last week’s unbelievable episode, we guess there was no where to go but down. “Family Feud” gave us some good moments, particularly when it came to Mark Pellegrino’s delicious scenery-chewing Lucifer (Welcome back, Mark!), but for the most part, this episode felt more like a passable Season 2-ish Monster of the Week ep than an important part of the story arc. Even though a lot happened that is vital to the story arc. Basically, it missed some marks.

Erica: Some marks?
Dawn: I am being kind. Well, trying to.

The overall theme was motherhood, and it was not subtle. In fact, it was downright heavy-handed in a lot of ways, down to making some characters a lot dumber than we know them to be, just to kinda shoe-horn some plot. This episode really couldn’t decide if it wanted to be filler or important, and trying to be both was not a great choice. It ended up just being…meh. Not bad, really. Just not good.

Mommies Dearest

Mary. Mary, Mary, MARY. We just don’t know what to do with you anymore. Okay, fine, maybe it was too much to expect you to adjust to all this with ease and we tried to give you that, we really did, but you have got to get better at this. Because making deals with the people who tortured and tried to murder your son is not good parenting. We don’t care how cool their toys are; working with the British Men of Letters is not earning you any points. And really, why do you need their toys? Your sons live in arguably the biggest cache of knowledge and weaponry ever. Maybe you’d know that if you occasionally stuck around.

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As we have said before, Ketch is *at best* a sociopath. Like, literally that is a best-case scenario. The worst can, and will, we suspect, go far beyond that, and having that not occur to Mary Campbell-Winchester, who was raised in a family of hunters and therefore should have a couple of clues, is really pissing us off. We don’t want her to be this gullible. We don’t want her to be this stupid. And we definitely don’t want her to be this shitty of a mother. Yes, okay, she finally fessed up and told the boys the truth, and no one can deny that, as a hunter, Mary is badass AF. But our ability to feel any sympathy for this character is waning, and that’s not great. You’d better pull a miracle out of your ass soon, Mary, because right now, you’re not looking good.

Erica: To be fair, at least she broke the Winchester curse of NEVER telling the truth. EVER. And she brought them beer. I mean, not totally good parenting, but… We’re so used to the boys never telling each other the truth until the very last possible moment. So while it took her a while, at least she finally admitted it before something went totally and completely tits up.
Dawn: I am just having a really hard time with her being this easily guiled. She should really be smarter than this, and “Mary is just having a hard time adjusting” isn’t really working for me anymore, mainly because she seems to have adjusted perfectly fine to the modern hunting community and now her ultra-creeptastic, manipulative bestie, Mr. Ketch. The only thing she hasn’t adjusted to is her sons. Constantly leaving them isn’t going to make that any easier, and the fact that she constantly leaves them is really not washing. Sure, she says, “Nothing comes before my family,” but so far? Pretty much everything has. And that ridiculous “Oh, hi, Dean” voice at the beginning, in the slightly higher register and singsong pronunciation as she talked on the phone to Dean? Well, that was just bullshit and, IMO, it was absolutely counter to the strong female character she has proven to be, even when I don’t agree with her decisions. That was some saccharine crap and it did not ring true.
Erica: You have such STRONG opinions. Like, I don’t really like any of what has transpired with Mary’s character, but it just means that I’ll not miss her when she (finally) leaves. But you are so ANGRY at the way Mary’s character is written. Lol.
Dawn: In general, I am fine with it. In this ep, I was livid. That said, though, Ketch was written very well. We are supposed to loathe him, and I definitely do, and it was nice to see that Mary does react to him in a way that makes it clear he makes her skin crawl, too. Look:

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Our second mom is the matriarch of the other family who knows how to put the fun in dysfunction, Rowena. Now, we LOVE Rowena (and Ruth Connell, who plays her, and who favorites our tweets!). She is our queen and we just adore her. BUT. Girl, that was some cold maneuvering this episode. She got to be Grandma Rowena for a time, since the central guest star of this episode was Gavin MacLeod, Crowley’s son (first encountered in 6×4, then again in 9×21). Some of the fandom found Gavin forgettable, but we always liked him, especially when Crowley kinda warmed to him and saved his life.

Dawn: I was looking forward to having Gavin back. I just wish it hadn’t taken a ridiculous love-lorn ghost subplot to get that.
Erica: I mean…I understand the point of it. How else would you get him back, really, when for the longest time it seemed as though he was destined to forever live in the land of lost plotlines?
Dawn: Like Adam?

Rowena reminded us that she plays the long game and that she plays it well, using Gavin and, really, the boys, to finally get her revenge on Crowley for having forced her to kill the child that she loved. And she put it just like that, too: “Oskar. The child I loved more than you. The one you made me kill to remove the Mark of Cain.” That was cold, so cold, especially after this season having given us some softer moments between Crowley and Rowena, where it seemed like maybe they could pull some kind of familial bond together. Wishful thinking on our part? Maybe. Probably, in fact. We only want what’s best for Our King, and Rowena is just fierce. Slay, queen. Slay. Even when it hurts.

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