TV Time: Castle 6.20

castle 70s show

Title That ’70s Show

Two-Sentence Summary When the remains of a mobster who has been missing since 1978 are recovered in a slab of concrete, the team at the 12th precinct reopens this cold case. However, the only person with pertinent information on the case still believes it’s 1978, which means the whole precinct has to play along to get him to divulge information.

Favorite Line “By the power vested in me by the NYPD…” (Castle)

My Thoughts This was a ridiculous episode of Castle, and I mean that in the best possible way. If you ever want an example of why this show is different from any other procedural, “That ’70s Show” can definitely serve as Exhibit A. It didn’t move the plot along in any major way (beyond a little bit more wedding talk, but we all know how I feel about the likelihood of this wedding going off as planned). But after three weeks without an episode, it was nice to remember how much fun Castle can bring to my Monday nights.

There wasn’t a lot to analyze or critique in this episode. It was meant to be silly, seventies-inspired fun, and it was exactly that. So instead of doing a traditional review, I’m just going to list seven things I loved about Castle’s trip back in time to the 1970s.

1.) The Costumes and the Hair. I cannot imagine how much fun this episode must have been to style. From Lanie’s afro and red dress to Beckett’s gorgeous curls and orange dress in the final scene, the ladies of Castle were looking fierce in their 1970s finest. And every time I think about the guys in their polyester (and fake facial hair), I want to laugh. It was like a Halloween episode at the end of April, and I loved it.

2.) Captain Castle. First of all, did anybody else’s Firefly-loving heart soar when Castle was called “Captain” in this episode? Beyond just my Malcolm Reynolds nostalgia, I was thoroughly amused by all of Castle’s eager planning in this episode. As we all know, I love few things like I love Nathan Fillion playing excited, kid-in-a-candy-store Castle, and that’s exactly what he was when trying to prove to Beckett that outfitting the precinct like it was 1978 was a good idea. His exuberance was matched perfectly by Stana Katic’s skepticism in a way that harkened back once again to the early days of their partnership.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.18

Once Upon a Time - Episode 3.18 - Bleeding Through - Promotional and BTS Photos (11)

Title Bleeding Through

Two-Sentence Summary After Zelena uses Rumplestiltskin to take Regina’s heart from Robin Hood (by threatening his son), she just needs Snow and Charming’s baby to have all the ingredients necessary to create a time-travel spell. A visit from Cora’s ghostly presence reveals Zelena’s ultimate goal: Kill Snow White’s mother because of her role in Cora’s decision to abandon Zelena.

Favorite Line “If she wants to kill you, she’s gonna have to go through me.” (Regina, to Snow)

My Thoughts “Bleeding Through” was more than the sum of its plot points (which were okay but not all that compelling). It was an episode that took the theme of this half of Season Three—moving on from your past and choosing happiness in the present—and used it to facilitate character growth that I’ve been waiting for since the first season of this show. If Once Upon a Time episodes were titled like Friends episodes, this one would have been called “The One with All the Character Development.” And by focusing so strongly on character development that needed to happen, “Bleeding Through” became one of my favorite episodes of this second half of Once Upon a Time’s third season.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Jane Espenson’s name listed as a co-writer for this episode. Espenson has a real gift for the consistent characterization, subtle (somewhat dark) humor, and surprisingly poignant moments that made “Bleeding Through” such a success.

From the start, it was clear that Regina’s growth was going to be a huge factor in this episode. Her showdown with Zelena was fun (the apples were a nice touch of humor), and I really like the fact that Lana Parrilla’s more composed and controlled style seems to rein in Rebecca Mader’s campier tendencies in their scenes together. Also, Regina’s new sense of self-awareness nicely highlights Zelena’s delusional tendencies. Even if I still don’t really care about Zelena herself, I enjoy her as a foil for Regina.

This episode did a great job of showing us rather than simply telling us how much Regina has grown. I was floored in the best possible way when Regina’s first reaction to her heart being taken was one of empathy and concern for others instead of concern for her own wellbeing. Robin’s remorse felt heartbreakingly sincere, but I loved that Regina didn’t labor over the apology and instead made him feel understood and comforted, even as she was dealing with the ramifications of Zelena having her heart. I have always loved the idea of these two characters bonding over their love for their children—because loving Henry is such a driving force in the person Regina has become, and loving Roland is one of the few defining character motivations we know about Robin so far. Robin’s face when Regina told him nothing—not even her own heart—was worth the loss of child spoke of a man seeing Regina in a new way, a more complete way. There was a selflessness to Regina in that moment of valuing Roland’s safety above her own heart that may have surprised Robin but didn’t surprise me at all. It was a huge moment of growth, but it came from a believable place.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (4/13 – 4/20)

This week in television started off with another emotionally draining Sunday night, which included a look into the effects of Hook’s year without Emma on Once Upon a Time; a dramatic confrontation between Alicia and Peter on The Good Wife, and another wedding for the ages on Game of Thrones. Monday’s Dancing with the Stars provided some relief in the form of “Disney Night.” On Tuesday, New Girl attempted to deal with the fallout from Nick and Jess’s breakup, and The Mindy Project showed us Mindy and Danny struggling to move on from their brief time together. Thursday’s Parks and Recreation ended on one of the happiest notes in the show’s happy history, while Scandal‘s season finale used a variety of means to break audiences’ hearts. And Saturday’s Orphan Black season premiere hit the ground running and never looked back, with more twists and intrigue than ever before.

There were a plethora of great moments on television this week—from Joffrey finally meeting his end on Game of Thrones to Sarah knocking out Rachel on Orphan Black. However, there are times when my favorite thing on TV isn’t so much one moment but rather what an actor does over the course of an entire hour. That’s how I feel about Colin O’Donoghue’s work in this week’s Once Upon a Time. His ability to make a charming swashbuckler so earnest has always been one of the things that’s drawn me to Hook as a character, and he was at his best in “The Jolly Roger.” The scene where Hook begs Ariel/Zelena for a chance to atone for his sins and confesses his love for Emma was O’Donoghue’s finest work on the show to date. It was a heartbreaking picture of raw vulnerability, and it was another example of the fact that Once Upon a Time‘s most compelling moments occur when its talented cast is allowed to tap into very real emotions in the middle of the fairytale action around them.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

 

TV Time: Parks and Recreation 6.20

Parks-And-Recreation-One-in-8000

Title One in 8,000

Two-Sentence Summary When Leslie and Ben discover they’re having triplets, Ben tries to help Leslie stay calm while internally panicking about their family finances. Meanwhile, Andy tries to keep his knowledge of the pregnancy a secret from April, and Ron helps Donna deal with her ex-boyfriend, Joe.

Favorite Line “Live your life how you want, but don’t confuse drama with happiness.” (Ron)

My Thoughts Since this week’s Parks and Recreation review is up a little later than usual (thanks to a Scandal season finale that needed grading yesterday), I decided to break my thoughts down into a list of 10 quick opinions on “One in 8,000.”

1.) I’m a little worried about this whole triplets plot, if I’m being honest. I’m excited to see my favorite TV couple as parents, but three babies seems like a little much. (Although it was foreshadowed back in Season Two’s “The Set Up” when Leslie was told she could “go triplets right off the bat.”) I’m never one to discourage showing happy marriages and families on television, but I don’t want the Knope-Wyatt triplets to become something the show relies on too much. It could venture very quickly into sitcom cliché territory, but I’m still hopeful that this team of writers knows what they’re doing and won’t let us down.

2.) While I’ll admit that I spent the beginning of the scene in the doctor’s office wondering if he was going to be wrong about the triplets, I was happy I stopped stressing about this new plot development and decided to enjoy Leslie and Ben’s reactions in the rest of the scene. Adam Scott’s increasingly panicked “But what do we do?” was absolutely perfect.

3.) “One in 8,000” was another excellent episode for Scott in general. I was happy that Ben acted completely in-character for an accountant, showing his practicality by worrying about the financial ramifications of having triplets (and acknowledging the cost of their trip to Paris). Watching Ben freak out to the camera while trying to remain calm for Leslie was a highlight of the episode.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Scandal

TONY GOLDWYN

Title The Price of Free and Fair Election (3.18)

Written By Shonda Rhimes and Mark Wilding

What Happens? Jake tells Fitz about the bomb Maya Pope planted in the church (which Cyrus was still not going to tell him about), prompting an evacuation of the church just as the bomb goes off. As Fitz delivers a speech, Sally is shown helping the wounded among the rubble of the church, and it becomes clear that Fitz is about to lose the election.

Olivia confides in her father that she doesn’t want Fitz to lose and that she was scared Rowan was going to die when her mother stabbed him. With Maya still on the loose and the election all but lost, tensions are running high in the White House. Things only get more complicated when Olivia tells Fitz about his father raping Mellie. Fitz goes to his wife, and both he and Olivia understand that he can’t leave her with this new knowledge. Instead, he and his family make an appearance together, but while Fitz is delivering his speech, his son Jerry collapses and later dies from bacterial meningitis.

Jerry’s death is revealed to be no accident: A vial containing a strain of the disease was stolen, and all signs point to Maya. A grieving Fitz gives Rowan permission to do whatever he has to do to bring her down, which means reinstating himself as Command of B-613.

As Fitz and Mellie mourn together, Olivia and Cyrus contemplate their humanity: Were they always monsters whose first thoughts are winning elections, which they know will happen now with the public support thrown behind Fitz after Jerry’s death? Olivia is confronted with a way to rediscover her humanity when Huck reveals Quinn found his family. While he ultimately decides to see them again, his words about disappearing inspire Olivia to take her father up on his offer of putting her on a plane to disappear forever—and she takes Jake with her.

With Olivia gone just like her father wanted, Harrison puts the pieces together to see that it wasn’t Maya who killed Jerry—it was Rowan. Olivia wanted Fitz to be president, so he made Fitz president, while taking away his son like Fitz took away Rowan’s daughter. Rowan then orders Harrison to be shot, and we see that he’s keeping Maya locked up once again.

As Olivia and Jake fly towards their new life, David receives boxes of files on B-613, and Olivia receives a phone call from the White House. It’s Mellie calling for Fitz, who has broken down under the weight of everything the presidency has cost him just before he’s set to deliver his victory speech. But Olivia chooses not to pick up.

Game-Changing Moment Scandal is famous for packing multiple game-changing moments into each episode—not just its finales. With so many shocking scenes in its short history, it’s rare that a Scandal twist can be genuinely upsetting anymore, but that’s exactly what young Fitzgerald Grant IV’s death was—upsetting. When none of the major characters in the church died in the bombing, I’m sure most people expected someone to die in a different way in this episode, but I’m not sure anyone expected the teenage son of the president to die in such a sudden and brutal manner. Jerry’s death was a horrifying moment, and it’s more even horrifying after discovering why he died. His death led to so many more game-changing moments in this finale: Rowan being reinstated as Command by Fitz; Fitz winning the election; Maya being recaptured; and, ultimately, the reveal that Rowan was the one who set up the boy’s death (which led to Harrison’s possible death as well). This twist also led to many of the episode’s most important moments of character growth: Olivia and Cyrus talking about becoming monsters; Mellie and Fitz softening towards each other in their grief; and Fitz breaking down in the Oval Office. It’s always a risk to kill off a kid (or in this case, a teenager), but Scandal made it a moment of huge importance while grounding it in very realistic grief.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Suits

Suits s3 finale

Source: usanetwork.com

Title No Way Out (3.16)

Written By Aaron Korsh and Daniel Arkin

What Happens? When Mike is taken in for questioning concerning the Hessington Oil settlement and the accusations of bribing witnesses, it becomes clear that U.S. Attorney Eric Woodall isn’t interested in Mike at all; he wants to bring down Harvey. Things get tricky for Mike and Harvey when it’s revealed that another attorney was also brought in for questioning: Harold Gunderson. When a meeting between Mike and Harold leads to their arrest, Harvey enlists Louis’s help to keep Harold from cracking under the pressure, while Harvey tells Mike to put all the blame on him.

It seems Harvey has been taking a look in the mirror, and he doesn’t like the man looking back at him. Despite the refrain of “You’re a good man, Harvey” that he keeps hearing, Harvey worries that he’s becoming the opposite of that, and Mike might pay the price for it. Jessica is also contemplating her role in the firm’s questionable practices and their affects on the family she’s built within Pearson Specter. Scottie’s role in that family changes dramatically when she voices her desire to leave. Harvey’s parting gift to her is to let her in on Mike’s secret, with a promise that he’s done lying to the people he loves.

Scottie isn’t the only one moving on from Pearson Specter. Mike is tired of lying and having other people lie to protect his secret. So he decides to take the investment banking job he was offered, making him a client of Pearson Specter and no longer an employee.

Game-Changing Moment I’m not sure it gets more quintessentially game-changing than Mike quitting Pearson Specter to take a job as their client instead. The entire premise of Suits was built around Mike’s secret and his relationships within Pearson Specter, especially his mentor/mentee relationship with Harvey. But it became clear that this premise couldn’t sustain a long-running series without turning the characters into unlikeable people and turning the plot into a predictable circle of people finding out, people almost finding out, and Mike still emerging unscathed. Something had to change. And something finally did. Mike’s exit was quietly powerful in the way it not only fundamentally altered the entire premise of the show but also in the way it highlighted something that doesn’t always happen on television: Actions have consequences. Mike’s secret took a huge emotional toll on him, and I thought Patrick J. Adams displayed that perfectly in this episode. It was time for him to do the right thing, and it was time for Harvey to give him permission to do the right thing. It’s not just the show’s plot that will change with Mike’s departure (although he’ll stay on as a client); Mike and Harvey’s relationship will be forever altered, too. I thought both Adams and Gabriel Macht gave that scene the emotional weight necessary to convey the impact of this decision on both Mike and Harvey. Will the show be able to sustain itself with Mike not being a lawyer anymore? I’m not sure. But it’s an interesting question to hold on to until we see how this all plays out next season.

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TV Time: New Girl 3.21

New-Girl-Big-News

Title Big News

Two-Sentence Summary Jess and Nick each try to make the other believe they’re doing okay the day after their breakup. However, their emotions get the best of them during a celebration of Winston’s acceptance into the police academy.

Favorite Line “Well, this just in: The dress code for Winston’s banquet tonight is…optional.” (Schmidt)

My Thoughts I can’t lie; I’m struggling with New Girl right now. I wanted to enjoy “Big News,” and there were definitely some parts of it that entertained me and charmed me. I loved Cece being a genuinely good friend to Jess when she needed her the most. I loved the entire concept of the “Honey Roast,” including Winston’s white tuxedo. I loved Coach having to greet everyone with a hug, a kiss, and a formal bow because he had to keep Nick and Jess’s secret. Heck, I even loved the realistically awkward morning-after-breakup moments between Nick and Jess.

I applaud the New Girl cast for always selling the hell out whatever they’re given, and this is especially true for Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel. But I’m not sure I can pretend to like what they’re being given right now, and it’s affecting my overall enjoyment of the show in a pretty major way.

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Game of Thrones Moment of the Week: “The Lion and the Rose”

The Moment: Cersei meets Brienne

Setting the Scene: At Joffrey’s wedding, Cersei finds time for a moment alone with her brother’s rescuer. When a smiling Brienne reveals that Jaime also rescued her (a fact Cersei wasn’t aware of until that moment), the former Queen Regent makes a quick study of the young woman and comes to a conclusion that Brienne has no answer for: She’s in love with Jaime.

Why It’s Awesome: I know what you’re probably thinking: Joffrey finally meets his end in this episode (and in quite a brutal fashion), and I’m picking a conversation between Cersei and Brienne as the show’s best moment of the week? Let me be clear: Of course I loved seeing Joffrey get his royal comeuppance, and I adored Lena Headey’s performance in those final moments. But I knew it was coming, so it didn’t have quite the same impact for me as I’m sure it did for people who didn’t read the books (because when I read the books I was thrilled in a way that experiencing it again through the show couldn’t replicate). I loved the little bits of foreshadowing throughout the scene, but my favorite moments on Game of Thrones tend to be ones that surpass my experience while reading or surprise me entirely, and Joffrey’s death, while executed perfectly, didn’t make my jaw drop—not like Cersei preying on Brienne’s open heart did.

Brienne of Tarth is my favorite character in the A Song of Ice and Fire series for so many reasons: her subversion of stereotypes about physically imposing, unglamorous women; her innocence; her open heart; and her belief in honor even after a life of being treated cruelly by almost all she meets. It’s interesting to note that nearly all of those reasons make her a direct foil for Cersei Lannister. Ever since Brienne and Jaime returned to King’s Landing before they did in the book, I’ve been waiting for these two formidable women to meet on the show, and I was so happy that it turned out even better than my expectations—perhaps because it was written by George R.R. Martin himself.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 3.17

COLIN O'DONOGHUE

Title The Jolly Roger

Two-Sentence Summary In Storybrooke, Hook is enlisted to help Ariel reunite with Prince Eric, but the captain is carrying a dark secret about the prince’s fate and his own quest to return to a pirate’s life during the lost year in the Enchanted Forest. When Ariel is revealed to be a shape-shifted Zelena, Hook is cursed to remove Emma’s magic if he ever kisses her.

Favorite Line “Killian, whatever happened this past year—whatever it is you’re not telling me—I don’t care. I’m tired of living in the past.” (Emma)

My Thoughts “True love isn’t easy,” Prince Charming once said (in Season One’s “What Happened to Frederick,” which was coincidentally written by David H. Goodman, who also penned “The Jolly Roger”). The same can be said of becoming a better person, embracing your true self, and learning to let go of your past. But when has anything easy ever been worthwhile to watch when it comes to character arcs?

Let’s not bury the lead here: This episode hurt. I’m still sad about it more than twelve hours later. But I love that I’m this broken-up about it because it means the writers and the actors did their jobs. If it’s done correctly, I love angst. And by “correctly,” I mean, “brought about with believable choices made by characters acting consistently to what we know about their pasts and their current motivations.” And “The Jolly Roger” was nothing if not consistent in terms of its characterization. I understood every choice made in this episode by its featured players, and that’s all I ask for.

The central theme of this episode tied into what is appearing to be the overarching theme of this half of Season Three: You can’t go back. Zelena wants to literally change the past. Charming wanted to go back to being the “cool grandpa” he was when he taught Henry to swordfight and ride horses. Emma wants to return to the life she and Henry led in New York City. And Hook learned the hard way that you can’t run from the pain of the present by desperately trying to rekindle the past.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (4/6 – 4/13)

This week in television started off on Sunday with a trip into Zelena’s past on Once Upon a Time and the triumphant return of Game of Thrones. Monday’s episode of Dancing with the Stars shook up the show’s partnerships with varying degrees of success, and Tuesday’s hour of The Mindy Project broke all of our hearts but may have featured the comedy’s finest acting to date. And Thursday provided a trifecta of excellent episodes: A new addition to the Knope-Wyatt family was revealed on Parks and Recreation; the Suits season finale saw the end of both Scottie and Mike’s time as Pearson-Specter lawyers; and the lives of multiple important characters are hanging in the balance after Scandal‘s penultimate episode of the season.

I was going to choose Mindy and Danny’s terribly realistic breakup scene as the best moment of the week because Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina were just so good in it. However, it’s time I chose something uplifting again—and I am so thankful for Parks and Rec‘s happy pregnancy reveal, which took what could have been an ordinary episode and elevated it to one of the show’s turning points. Leslie revealing her pregnancy to Ben (just by saying she had good news for him) was the perfect showcase for Amy Poehler and Adam Scott’s warm chemistry and underrated talent for handling emotional moments with realism and sincerity. The subtlety, love, and genuine happiness in that scene was like comfort food for the soul after so many weeks of depressing television.

Because NBC doesn’t like to let me share their videos, relive the joy again by watching this scene over at EW.com! 

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?