This week in television kicked off with a two-hour episode of Once Upon a Time, the Thanksgiving episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and a perfectly tense hour of The Good Wife. Monday featured a fantastic semifinal of Dancing with the Stars and Castle and Beckett’s honeymoon on Castle. On Tuesday, Jess got closer to a gorgeous new teacher on New Girl, and Danny read Mindy’s diary on The Mindy Project. Wednesday’s Nashville made me angrier at Luke than ever before, but that was balanced with a whole bunch of happy Avery/Juliette feelings. And Thursday’s night of “TGIT” midseason finales gave us an episode of Scandal filled with crazy twists and the revelation of Sam’s killer on How to Get Away with Murder, and both episodes featured cliffhangers to keep us talking and guessing until their hiatus is over.
There were so many great moments on TV this week—from Alicia and Peter in the limo on The Good Wife to Avery and Juliette finally holding hands again on Nashville. However, my favorite moment of the week came from Once Upon a Time‘s two-hour extravaganza. This show has made a point of showing how all kinds of love are equally strong and important, and in “Smash the Mirror,” another kind of love was put in the spotlight: loving yourself. Learning to love yourself for exactly who you are is such an important lesson that doesn’t get shown to people—especially women—enough in the media, so I’m thrilled that Once Upon a Time took such a major episodes and used it to show the beauty and magic inherent in accepting and choosing to love yourself. Emma faced the parts of herself that scare her the most, and she chose to believe that she could save herself from that darkness.
It was wonderful to see the push she needed to do that come from Elsa, a woman who has faced her share of self-doubt and fear, but has finally come to accept herself and love herself. To see Elsa, a character once defined by her fear, help Emma stop being afraid, was beautiful. It was a moment of huge growth for both women, and it was a moment that showed what genuine, true friendship is all about—supporting someone as they work through the growing pains of learning to love themselves. It was such a powerful moment, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who was incredibly inspired by its message of self-acceptance and the power we all have to be our own saviors.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?
This week, the lovely and talented Heather was kind enough to handle reviewing duties while I attempt to shovel out from under the five feet of snow that’s been dumped on Buffalo.
Title Diary of a Mad Indian Woman
Two-Sentence Summary Danny finds, reads, and accidentally spills wine on Mindy’s diary and discovers that she is hoping for a proposal before Christmas, or she may have to walk away from their relationship. Meanwhile, Mindy fulfills her job as teacher in the practice’s affiliated teaching hospital.
Favorite Line “Good evening, fine pupils … I am honored, elated — nay, overjoyed — to man the helm of this exquisite ship of your education.” (Tamra)
My Thoughts There are some shows that I just enjoy watching and The Mindy Project is one of them. It always makes me laugh, and this episode in particular was fantastic for that. So many different moments in Mindy’s teaching subplot cracked me up—from Tamra’s overly flowery speech and Mindy’s reaction to Peter whispering in her ear to Jean’s reaction to Mindy saying that the person she mentored the most was herself. It was funny, and that’s often what I want most from a comedy.
It was nice to see Mindy try to teach the residents and in particular, I liked seeing Mindy try to improve Candace’s confidence because I think it was actually coming from a good place. Shy and timid will never be words used to describe Mindy Lahiri, and her confidence has gotten her very far. So it seems natural that it would be something she’d want to encourage in others. From a comedy perspective though, I loved even more that she was utterly unsuccessful. I was not expecting Candace to very confidently tell Mindy she didn’t want to be like her while not improving as a doctor at all. Mindy may have failed as Candace’s mentor, but she was surprisingly good with T.J. during their conversation at the gym. And of course, I love that Mindy will always be Mindy and bask in the things she did well and ignore everything that she didn’t because that’s just who she is.
Title Once Upon a Time in the West
Two-Sentence Summary Castle and Beckett visit an Arizona dude ranch to investigate the murder of a young woman. The trip serves as a honeymoon for the couple, who also face the wrath Ryan and Esposito for not inviting them to their spur-of-the-moment wedding.
Castle: We did it, Mrs. Castle!
Beckett: We certainly did, Mr. Beckett!
My Thoughts “Once Upon a Time in the West” was the perfect follow-up to last week’s big Castle wedding episode. “The Time of Our Lives” had all of the emotion a great wedding episode should have, and “Once Upon a Time in the West” had all of the fun, sex appeal, and adventure a great honeymoon episode should have.
While “The Time of Our Lives” was filled with moments that demanded deep analysis, “Once Upon a Time in the West” was decidedly lighter—nothing but campy fun. As such, in lieu of my usual review format, I’m just going to list my 10 favorite things about this episode.
1. Lanie’s reaction to the wedding. Every episode of Castle is instantly improved by the presence of Tamala Jones, and this was no exception. Lanie’s reaction was exactly right for her character—from the sass to the sweetness. More than anything, I loved that she was genuinely happy for her friend. In the end, what mattered most to her was that Beckett was happy, but she got to give Castle a hard time about it, too, which is all I could have asked for from her reaction.
Title Smash the Mirror
Two-Sentence Summary After Emma goes to Rumplestiltskin to get rid of her powers (not knowing he plans to have her sucked into the sorcerer’s hat), Hook and Elsa lead the charge to stop her, which leads to success for one of them and disaster for the other. Flashbacks reveal how Elsa ended up in the urn, which was a byproduct of Ingrid first casting the Shattered Sight curse on Anna, a curse she later let loose on all of Storybrooke.
Favorite Line “You have to love yourself, Emma, the good and the bad. The only way to ever truly be in control of your powers is to embrace them—because this, this is who you are.” (Elsa)
My Thoughts I think we all figured “Smash the Mirror” was going to be an emotional two hours of television, but I had no idea just how intense my reactions would be to what was going to happen. It’s amazing how—after years of watching not just this show but so many shows that featured every twist and turn in the book—Once Upon a Time still manages to surprise me in incredibly creative ways. I had so many predictions and theories about what was going to happen in this episode, and all but one (which was pretty obviously going to happen) turned out to be wrong. And I love that. I love that I don’t want to make predictions and theories for the rest of this half-season because, as this episode showed, the most fun I have as a viewer is watching all of the surprises this show can throw at me unfold.
“Smash the Mirror” did an excellent job of building on the major themes of this season in order to set the tone for the climactic final episodes before the midseason finale, which is aptly titled “Heroes and Villains.” This was an episode about heroism and villainy: how we define it, how we classify ourselves into those categories when life isn’t quite so black-and-white, and how we can change the way the world sees us and how we see ourselves by being brave. And in the world of Once Upon a Time true bravery comes from love, belief, and hope, which was never more clear than it was in this episode.
This week in television began on Sunday with another emotional hour of Once Upon a Time, another hilarious episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and another captivating hour of The Good Wife. On Monday, Castle and Beckett finally got married. Tuesday gave us an episode of The Mindy Project filled with more great guest performances, and Wednesday’s Nashville gave me hope for Juliette and Avery for the first time since last season. Finally, Thursday’s Scandal featured more double-crossing than perhaps ever before, and How to Get Away with Murder was basically an hour-long lesson in “Why you shouldn’t trust your husband.”
For as much as I loved the acting in the interrogation scene between Emma and Ingrid on Once Upon a Time, if you thought I was picking anything other than Castle and Beckett’s wedding as the best TV moment of the week, you must not know me very well. It was everything I could have hoped for as someone who has loved this couple since the pilot and spent six years following their journey. It was simple, intimate, and perfect. And it’s still making me cry numerous re-watches later.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?
There’s nothing like a great TV wedding. I’ve been very fortunate to have watched more than a few of my favorite TV couples get married onscreen, and there’s no better feeling as a devoted fangirl than watching a couple you’ve rooted for through all of their ups and downs finally get that perfect wedding episode.
Some of my favorite TV episodes of all time are wedding episodes because they are instant doses of happiness I can come back to whenever I need it. They’re reminders to never stop hoping and believing in happy endings (or, really, happy beginnings), and I love stories that make me feel hopeful and happy.
This week, I was lucky enough to get to watch another one of my favorite television couples—Rick Castle and Kate Beckett—tie the knot in an excellent episode of Castle.
The joy I felt watching their vows on Monday made me want to reflect back on my other favorite TV weddings.
Leslie and Ben (Parks and Recreation)
I’ve talked about this wedding so many times, but I feel like I can never talk about it enough. I’m not sure any moment I’ve ever watched on television has made me as happy as this wedding. It’s my go-to episode when I’m in need of some TV comfort food, and I still cry happy tears every time I watch it. Every detail was perfect—from the location and the dress to the beautiful vows and the clips that accompanied them, reminding us of the journey these two characters took to get to this place where they could both so beautifully say, “I love you and I like you.”
Title We Need to Talk About Annette
Two-Sentence Summary Mindy discovers that Danny’s mother is a shoplifter, but Annette tries to deny those allegations when Mindy confronts her. Meanwhile, Peter discovers that Abby may be his perfect woman, but his definition of the perfect woman may need some changing.
Peter: Why are you looking at me like that?
Danny: You look a lot like Mindy in that outfit.
Peter: Keep your eyes up here, man!
Danny: You look good.
Peter: Shut up!
My Thoughts This season, The Mindy Project has finally seemed to achieve a good balance between highlighting their guest stars while not making their appearances feel like blatant stunt casting moves. “We Need to Talk About Annette” was as entertaining as it was because of the two very funny women making recurring guest appearances (Rhea Perlman and Allison Tolman), and they were used just enough to be memorable once again while still letting the actors and character arcs around them shine, too.
I said it last week, and I’ll say it again: I didn’t watch Fargo, so I had no idea who Allison Tolman was before this little arc. And now I am more than a little bit in love with her, and I don’t want to see her arc end. For only being in two episodes, there was a lot of nice nuances to her character; I liked that we were introduced to her as a woman who was confident and successful, but that doesn’t have to always mean a person is responsible. Maybe I’ve just been thinking about Gone Girl too much lately, but Abby’s characterization was a really nice depiction of the problems inherent in the “cool girl.” Peter may have thought for a long time that he liked women who didn’t challenge him, and it’s clear that Lauren choosing Jeremy still hurts and is making him wonder if challenging women will ever want him. However, it was nice to see him start to realize that—even if Lauren hurt him—he needs to find someone like her, someone who makes him want to be a better person.
Title The Time of Our Lives
Two-Sentence Summary While investigating a case involving an ancient Incan artifact, Castle is knocked unconscious and imagines a life where he and Beckett never met. That experience prompts him to not want to waste any more time, leading to a long-awaited sunset wedding in the Hamptons.
Beckett: The moment that I met you, my life became extraordinary. You taught me to be my best self, to look forward to tomorrow’s adventures. And when I was vulnerable, you were strong. I love you, Richard Castle, and I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile and the strength of your embrace. I promise you I will love you. I will be your friend and your partner in crime and in life. Always.
Castle: The moment we met, my life became extraordinary. You taught me more about myself than I knew there was to learn. You are the joy in my heart. You are the last person I want to see every night before I close my eyes. I love you, Katherine Beckett, and the mystery of you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life exploring. I promise to love you, to be your friend and your partner in crime and life—’til death do us part and for the time of our lives.
My Thoughts It’s hard for an event that’s been as highly-anticipated as Castle and Beckett’s wedding to live up to the hype, but somehow “The Time of Our Lives” succeeded. And I think it was because it was—like the best weddings—about the marriage and not about the ceremony, about the couple and not about all the other shiny things that can wind up taking center stage at a wedding. This was an episode about the fundamentals of a good marriage, wrapped up in a fun, alternate-universe story. And it was told in the way only Terri Miller can tell a love story.
Title The Snow Queen
Two-Sentence Summary Emma’s interrogation of Ingrid turns personal when her former foster mother taps into her deepest fears and oldest scars in order to isolate her from her family, which happens when her magic begins to spiral out of control. In flashbacks to Ingrid’s past, we see where she developed her belief that even loved ones can grow afraid of people with magic they don’t understand.
Favorite Line “When you see the good in someone, you don’t give up on them—especially if they don’t see it themselves.” (Will)
My Thoughts For being a person who tries to focus on the positives and who loves TV shows that allow people to be happy more often than not, I really do love angst when it’s done well. Nothing gets my heart pumping and my brain working like a heavy, emotionally-draining hour of television. The key is the purpose behind the angst; I hate it when it’s done purely for shock or to throw a wrench into a character’s happiness. However, when it’s done properly, a heartbreaking storyline can actually make me feel hopeful as a viewer, because where there is angst, there is often emotional payoff to follow. And where there is angst, there is also great acting. “The Snow Queen” was an example of angst done properly. It may have broken my heart to watch it all unfold, but I know it has a purpose, and it’s going to lead to great things for these characters and has already led to great things for all the actors involved.
So much of this season has focused on the theme of perception and self-definition: How do we see ourselves? How do others see us? Can we really change people’s perception of us, and, more importantly can we really change how we see ourselves? Is love strong enough to help us see the best we can be and to fight to be that best self? Every single one of those questions was touched on in “The Snow Queen.” Snow may have been wrong about a lot of things in this episode, but she was right when she said that—at this point—Ingrid doesn’t need her magic mirror to wreak havoc. So many of these characters are facing their own worst fears and inner demons without even looking into it, and it’s all because of the two master manipulators at the heart of my favorite villainous dynamic since the days of Mayor Mills and Mr. Gold in Season One: Ingrid and Rumplestiltskin.
This week in television started off with a deeper look into Belle’s past (and a deeper look at the Snow Queen’s plan) on Once Upon a Time; the uncovering of Boyle and Gina’s secret on Brooklyn Nine-Nine; and more drama in Cary’s case on The Good Wife. Tuesday saw very strong returns of New Girl and The Mindy Project, and Thursday featured some big developments on both Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.
There were some great acting moments this week—from Elizabeth Mitchell’s captivating work on Once Upon a Time to Jake Johnson’s hilarious work in the latest episode of New Girl. However, no performance this week could top what Darby Stanchfield did on Scandal. She made me feel every single emotion raging through Abby as her abusive ex-husband found his way back into her life. Stanchfield made Abby’s fear, shock, anger, and desperation feel so visceral and so heartbreakingly honest. When she told Olivia that she threw up on her dress upon discovering her ex-husband in the Oval Office, I marveled at the honesty of that moment. It was such a human, relatable moment on a show where so many characters react to situations in ways no one ever would in reality. And I also marveled at the beauty of Olivia genuinely being there for Abby through such a difficult time. It was a stunning scene of real depth and support between two women. And that made me feel good, even as the scene itself made me cry.
What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?