TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.05



Title Street Rats

Two-Sentence Summary After Jasmine reveals that Aladdin was also a Savior, Emma leads the charge to try to find him alive, with her family’s full knowledge of her visions and how Aladdin’s fate is tied to hers. When Aladdin is found, he gives Emma a pair of shears that can sever her fate and save her life by making her no longer the Savior.

Favorite Line “I have actual magic in my life—I have you. If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing.” (Emma, to Henry)

My Thoughts Honesty is power. We’re at our strongest when we’re honest with ourselves about who we are, and our relationships are at their strongest when we’re honest with those we love. Accepting the truth—both our own truth and the truth that lives in the hearts of those we love—is the key to developing into the best version of ourselves and creating strong and stable relationships.

Honesty seems to be turning into a major theme this season on Once Upon a Time. For as strange as the Evil Queen and Zelena’s spa day was (and it was incredibly strange), it brought up a central concept for this season: owning who you are and what you’ve done. Although the last thing I want is for Zelena to raise her daughter to only know her mother as the Wicked Witch, the Evil Queen brought up a good point about how she can’t hide that part of her identity from her daughter. She was right; Henry hated the fact that Regina lied to him and made him feel like he was crazy for so much of his life. It was only when she became honest with him about who she was and her struggle to be a better version of herself that he could find it in his heart to love and forgive her.

Zelena’s little girl should know who her mother was, but she should also know the better person her mother was trying to be. For as much as Zelena is the Wicked Witch, she is also the woman who wanted to be more than that not so long ago. She needs to be honest with herself about the fact that the good part of her is as much a part of her as the wicked part. And the only way she can do that is by getting away from the Evil Queen, who wants to bring out her worst self.

The Evil Queen was at her worst in this episode, encouraging Zelena to embrace her darkness (Poor Archie!), taking a page out of her mother’s playbook and taking the form of someone else in order to get information and create discord (Poor Archie again!), and killing an innocent because she wouldn’t help her. (Looks like I was wrong about the seer being Jafar in disguise.) But I must admit that I didn’t mind that she ended up being the plot device that led to Emma’s secret being out in the open. It was past time it happened, and if it took the Evil Queen masquerading as Archie to force Emma’s hand, then so be it.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.04



Title Strange Case

Two-Sentence Summary When it seems Belle is in danger of being attacked by Hyde and the Evil Queen, Rumplestiltskin goes to drastic measures to try to keep her safe. However, flashbacks reveal that Hyde may not be the one everyone should be worried about.

Favorite Line “I don’t need your protection!” (Belle, to Rumplestiltskin)

My Thoughts Once Upon a Time has always asserted that no one is completely good or completely evil. “Villains” have the potential for goodness in them, just as “heroes” have the potential for darkness. “We are both,” as the show has said time and again, and, as such, it was hard for me to understand how the show’s version of story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that was introduced in last season’s finale—which seemed to be about physically separating yourself into two halves—could fit into that ethos. It turned out that Jekyll and Hyde fit perfectly into Once Upon a Time’s vision of good and evil because neither half was exactly what they appeared to be. Hyde was not the singularly sociopathic monster we thought he was, and Jekyll was far from the meek, harmless man he appeared to be at first sight.

Ultimately, just like every other character on this show, Jekyll and Hyde were both, and no amount of magic or science could completely separate them. At first, I was annoyed with Mary’s obvious attraction to Hyde because the “every girl loves the bad boy” trope is not one I agree with or want to see on television—especially not on a television show kids watch. However, upon discovering just how inseparable Jekyll and Hyde really were, I came to believe that Mary’s attraction was to the fact that Hyde was brave and uninhibited, not that he was bad. She appreciated his passion and his ownership of that passion, which if Jekyll was brave enough to show to her when he was himself, she might have come to love in him as well. Mary was attracted to Hyde because he wasn’t afraid to be himself, while Jekyll felt he had to hide and eventually physically break with part of himself.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Pitch



This has been an excellent year for rookie television shows looking to make their mark right away. And in this strong crop of first-season shows, it might be easy for a good one to slip through the cracks.

Pitch is one of the good ones. FOX’s drama about the first woman to play for Major League Baseball (MLB) has been getting lost in the Thursday-night shuffle; it’s on a night that puts it in direct competition with NFL games and ABC’s monster TGIT lineup—not to mention actual MLB games at this time of year.

Luckily, Pitch is going on a one-week hiatus while FOX airs its version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show this Thursday night. That gives you plenty of time to watch the first four episodes (which are all available on Hulu or FOX’s website) before the next one airs October 27 at 9 p.m. I know there is a lot of television to watch nowadays, but Pitch is something special. It was one of the shows I was most looking forward to watching this season, and it has so far surpassed all my expectations to become one of the new shows I’m happiest to recommend to anyone who will listen. So whether you’re a diehard sports fan or someone who doesn’t know a screwball from a screwdriver, here are 10 reasons you should give Pitch a chance to work its way into your heart—and your TV schedule.

1. There’s nothing else like it on television.
Sometimes flipping through TV channels or scrolling on streaming services can feel repetitive: procedurals, superhero shows, “tough guy/girl with a heart of gold” dramas, comedies about dysfunctional but loving families…But Pitch is something totally new. It’s a show about a woman doing something that’s never been done before, and, as such, it’s something we’ve never seen on television before. From the diversity of its cast to the topics it tackles to the realism that comes from its partnership with the MLB, Pitch is something truly unique.

2. It’ll remind you why you love sports…
Pitch realistically presents problems professional athletes have—the way their bodies break down; the way they are often at the mercy of groups of rich, old, white people who could trade them or fire them any day; the sacrifices they make for the game when it comes to their personal relationships—but it never loses sight of the fact that there is something beautiful and mythic about sports, especially baseball. To love baseball is to appreciate it as part of a uniquely American mythology, so Ginny Baker is more than just a baseball player to those who watch the show and love the sport; she’s a mythic hero. It’s impossible to watch her record her first strikeout without getting goosebumps and remembering why you first fell in love with sports and all the hope and excitement wrapped up in sports fandom. The details of the game are fun to notice in each episode, but what really makes Pitch a treat for sports fans is the way it gets to the emotional core of why we love the games we love—because they give us heroes, they remind us to dream big, and they make us feel like we can be part of something special.

3. …But it still has a lot to love if sports aren’t your thing.
If you don’t like sports, Pitch may not seem like the show for you, but that’s where you’re wrong. The great thing about sports movies and television shows is that they remind us that the thrill of victory and agony of defeat are universal concepts; you don’t have to be an athlete or even a sports fan to know how great it feels to achieve a dream, how painful it is to fail, or how much fun it is to be part of a team. Pitch is about more than just baseball; it’s about the triumphs and tragedies that transcend sports. It’s about what it means to be a woman in a world where everyone wants a say in your life. It’s about getting older and being afraid of an uncertain future. And it’s about relationships—old ones that made us who we are and new ones that show us who we can become. You don’t have to care about Ginny’s ERA (or even know what an ERA is) to care about her story.

4. You’ll fall in love with Ginny Baker.
If you’re looking for a new female character to admire and adore, look no further than Ginny Baker. In order for Pitch to work, Ginny had to be a character audiences could instantly love, and I think it’s physically impossible not be utterly captivated by Kylie Bunbury. But what’s especially great about Ginny—especially considering the show is only four episodes old—is that she’s not just a one-note, “strong female character.” She is incredibly complex. In the pilot, she described herself as “a robot in cleats, and I’m malfunctioning” (with heartbreaking desperation by Bunbury), and that one line had me hooked; I had to know more about her. And I have loved seeing every layer exposed so far: the pitcher who just wants to play ball, the public figure who speaks out about rape on national television, the daughter forced to choose between two parents (and between her dreams and a normal life), the face of a brand who has to carefully control everything about herself—from what she says to who she loves, and the young woman who dances with abandon to her favorite songs and smiles from ear to ear when her catcher makes her laugh. Ginny feels like a real woman already, and that’s what makes her story even more inspirational.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.03

Before we begin, I know that Ella is known as Ashley in Storybrooke, but to avoid confusion, I’m just going to refer to her as Ella throughout.

Title The Other Shoe

Two-Sentence Summary When Cinderella discovers that her stepmother and stepsister have found their way to Storybrooke, she has some things to make right after ruining her stepsister’s chance at happiness in the past. As Emma tries to help her, she learns that you have to allow yourself to be happy in the present—even when the future is uncertain.

Favorite Line “I know everything in life is uncertain. Sometimes you have to walk out the door and hope there’s no bus.” (Emma)

My Thoughts “The Other Shoe” was one of my favorite episodes of Once Upon a Time in years. It was funny, it was romantic, it featured new twists on a classic fairytale, it dealt with universal themes in a magical setting, it put the spotlight on the family dynamics that warm everyone’s hearts, and it featured a bunch of women being strong in a myriad of important ways. In short, it felt like the classic Season One episodes that made me fall in love with this show—with the added bonus of focusing on the character development of Emma Swan and all the beautiful ways she has grown since that first season, while highlighting the compelling inner conflict that shows how much she can still grow.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that such a phenomenal episode was written by one of the most universally adored Once Upon a Time writers: Jane Espenson (with Jerome Schwartz). Espenson has an unparalleled sense of who these characters are now, where they’ve come from, and what real relationships between fairytale characters would look and sound like. Her gift for natural dialogue and sincere emotions in the middle of this crazy fairytale world has always made her episodes stand out. Also, she has a great sense of humor; it felt completely right for a Jane Espenson episode to feature Cinderella wearing pale blue Converse and holding a shotgun, as well as Grumpy complaining about doing all the work while Dopey gets his advanced degree. (Side note: Does Storybrooke have a college, or is Dopey taking online classes? Inquiring minds need to know.)

Espenson is also great at crafting thematically cohesive episodes, and this was another excellent one. In the case of “The Other Shoe,” nearly every storyline seemed to revolve around the idea of happiness—what it looks like, how to hold on to it, and what we do when we’re afraid that we’ll lose it. As such, it was an aptly titled episode, as many of the characters were struggling with the idea of waiting for “the other shoe” to drop.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.02


Source: ABC/Eike Schroter

Title A Bitter Draught

Two-Sentence Summary When the Count of Monte Cristo shows up in Storybrooke, he tries to finish the job Regina gave him years ago—killing Snow and Charming. As the Count’s plan begins to unfold, Regina discovers that the Evil Queen is not only still alive, she’s planning a twisted game to prove to Regina that she still has darkness inside of her.

Favorite Line “I have a long road to travel before I can be someone I can be proud of. Despite the forgiveness of others, I must forgive myself, and I’m not there yet.” (Killian)

My Thoughts Sometimes thinking about the future is exciting, but sometimes it’s terrifying. Sometimes it feels easier to hide from a future that could end in pain, and sometimes it feels easier to ignore or push down the things we’re afraid of rather than facing them. Fear is a powerful motivating factor, but there is something more powerful: hope. As such, it seems fitting that this season of Once Upon a Time seems poised to address that universal conflict between fear and hope in a number of major storylines.

On the most obvious level, that conflict was addressed immediately upon finding out what the Land of Untold Stories really was. It was a land people escaped to when they were afraid of finding out how their stories would end. It was a place they ran to out of fear and hopelessness, thinking it was better to have no story than to have a story that could end badly.

That’s where Operation Cobra Part 2 came in. The original Operation Cobra was about restoring happy endings for people who’d forgotten their stories, but, as Henry so astutely pointed out at the end of this episode, the sequel is going to be a lot more complicated. From what we know so far, these people actively chose not to have a story; their lives weren’t put on pause by a force beyond their control. So it’s going to take more work to get them to believe in their own ability to have a story that ends happily. But if anyone can do it, it’s Henry. As the Truest Believer and the Author, he has the unique ability to help people believe their stories are worth living out. And not only do the citizens of the Land of Untold Stories need that hope, Henry’s mothers need it, too.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/25 – 10/2)

This week in television started out with a strong Season 6 premiere of Once Upon a Time that laid out some very compelling internal and external conflicts for each character. On Monday, Dancing with the Stars aired a head-to-head dance-off episode, and that was followed by the first U.S. presidential debate of the election season. Tuesday’s episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine brought us back to the precinct and balanced that with some biting, Florida-based satire from Jake and Holt’s storyline. Tuesday also featured a politically-minded episode of New Girl and a second episode of This Is Us that gave each character even more depth and each relationship even more nuance. On Wednesday, Speechless proved to me that it has the right balance of heart and humor to keep me invested for the long haul, and black-ish made me cry with its emotionally gripping sonogram scene. Thursday provided me with moments that sold me completely on two very different partnerships: Eleanor and Chidi on The Good Place and Ginny and Mike on Pitch. Finally, Saturday Night Live kicked off its season with a much-hyped debate skit and an entire episode devoted to reminding everyone why Kate McKinnon won her Emmy. (Her impression of Trump campaign manage Kellyanne Conway was exceptional.)

It was impossible for me to pick just one moment this week that I loved more than any other, but all of my favorite moments were connected by the same theme: emotional investment. All the new shows I’ve started watching featured a moment this week where I knew I was hooked—whether it was Maya listening to Kenneth help J.J. use the bathroom on Speechless; Rebecca and Beth doing their best to be good wives and mothers (and delivering killer monologues in the process) in two different timelines on This Is Us; Eleanor praising Chidi with nothing to gain from it on The Good Place; or Mike telling Ginny that she might not trust her fastball but she needs to trust him on Pitch. All of those moments took me beyond the initial introduction of characters and stories and revealed something genuine and compelling about the relationships that will serve as the heart and soul of these shows. All of these were moments of sincere connection, and it was lovely to see such strong dynamics developing so early in the game for these shows.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.01

Welcome back, fellow Oncers! I can’t wait to spend another season discussing all the fairytale fun and feelings with you, so don’t hesitate to jump in and start a conversation in the comments. Just remember, we like to keep things as positive and respectful as we can here at NGN!



Title The Savior

Two-Sentence Summary As Hyde and the others from the Land of Untold Stories arrive in Storybrooke, Emma struggles with side effects of being a Savior, including visions of her death. Meanwhile, Rumplestiltskin attempts to wake Belle, and Regina tries to work through her grief after losing Robin.

Favorite Line “I choose to believe that this story will have a better ending.” (Regina)

My Thoughts If Once Upon a Time has taught us anything, it’s this: We have the power to choose how our stories end. We have the power to push back against the forces that try to tell us what our story will be. And that power comes from belief—belief in our own strength, belief in those who love us and want to help us, and belief that light and love is stronger than fear and darkness.

In “The Savior,” that lesson—that the only way we can get a happy ending is by believing we can have a happy ending—was at the center of its three main storylines: Rumplestiltskin’s quest to wake Belle, Regina’s difficulty working through her grief, and Emma’s discovery of her decidedly unhappy fate.

Like most Once Upon a Time season premieres, this one spent a fair amount of time setting up conflicts for this season. However, it also featured a surprising number of emotional moments for a season premiere, especially for a show that tends to favor plot over prolonged character beats. The return to a Storybrooke setting certainly helped: Less world building means more time can be spent on the characters and relationships we already know and love. And it seems that this season is going to explore the benefits of characters actually dealing with what has happened to them in a healthy way, which is a wonderfully realistic approach to emotional health for a story about fairytale characters.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/18 – 9/25)

The fall 2016 television season kicked into high gear this week, starting with Sunday’s Emmy Awards, which featured some nice surprises (Tatiana Maslany) and beautifully sincere speeches (Jeffrey Tambor, Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus). On Monday, Dancing with the Stars gave us “TV Night,” and little did we all know how empty our lives had been before we saw Laurie Hernandez dancing to the theme from DuckTales. Also on Monday (and Thursday), The Good Place proved to be the smart, funny, and emotionally engaging comedy I was hoping it would be. On Tuesday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine returned with a hilarious look at Jake and Captain Holt’s life in the Witness Protection Program; New Girl reminded me why I fell in love with the show years ago, thanks to a stellar season premiere; and the pilot of This Is Us lived up to every expectation I had for it. Wednesday’s ABC comedies were all excellent, with a perfect Breakfast Club tribute on The Goldbergs; a fantastic pilot episode of Speechless; an entertaining return for Modern Family; and a fun Walt Disney World trip on black-ish. On Thursday, the pilot of Pitch showed enough heart, style, and substance to hook me from the start. And Friday’s episode of Girl Meets World reminded us all of a very important lesson: You can’t control every aspect of your life; you can only control how you react to what happens in your life.

Overall, this was the best week of television I’ve watched in a very long time. I wasn’t disappointed with anything I watched, which is impressive because I often have unrealistically high expectations for premieres and pilots. I enjoyed every minute of television I watched this week, and I watched many minutes of television.

Grouped together, I loved the three big twists that new shows served up this week, which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone given how much I love when television shows can still pleasantly surprise me.


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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/11 – 9/18)

Welcome back, fellow TV addicts; I hope you had a wonderful summer! Now that the fall television season is upon us, it’s time for the return of our weekly breakdown of the best television moments! 

This was a warmup week in the world of television before things return to normal in the coming days (and weeks). However, even with a short list of shows airing new episodes, there were still some standout moments. Sunday saw the return of NFL games for most teams, which is either the best news ever or cause for another year of disappointment. (Can you tell I’m a Buffalo Bills fan?) On Monday, the new season of Dancing with the Stars premiered with some unexpected drama (protestors charging at Ryan Lochte on live TV) and some fantastic dancing. (Let’s just give Laurie Hernandez the Mirror Ball trophy now; she’s that good—and that much fun to watch.) Wednesday’s season finale of Suits was one of the show’s best episodes in recent memory, reminding us all why Jessica Pearson (and Gina Torres, by extension) is the queen of all she surveys only the break our hearts with her departure in its closing moments. Finally, Friday’s new episode of Girl Meets World touched on some incredibly deep and painful topics (the Holocaust, slavery) while never losing sight of the good in the world as shown through friendship, the diversity that makes America beautiful, and the belief that human connection—being part of something—is something to treasure and respect.

This is a week earlier than I’d planned to bring these posts back, but as soon as I watched the Suits finale, I knew I had to write about it. In a season where I found myself bored more often than usual (I actually missed a few episodes and discovered I didn’t really miss anything plot-wise.), Jessica was still a highlight every time she was on screen. And this finale—with its tight focus on Jessica and her backstory—was the finest episode of the season and one of my favorite episodes of the whole series. Watching Jessica own a courtroom was something I’d always wanted to see, and when Torres was given the chance to show this side of her character, she didn’t disappoint. But it was the way show peeled back Jessica’s layers to reveal her motivation behind what she did in that courtroom that really resonated with me.

Jessica Pearson’s father sacrificed his family at the altar of his career, but he believed he was doing something for the greater good. And even though Jessica chose a different career path (law instead of medicine), she did so as a young woman believing she would also serve the greater good. She became a lawyer to help people, but somewhere along the way, the relentless pursuit of power and prestige blinded her to the reason why she became a lawyer in the first place.Like her father before her, she chose her career over personal relationships, but her career choices didn’t offer her much comfort in the end. She’d stopped helping people who needed help and instead became so focused on protecting her firm that she lost her way. And that’s easy to do as a woman in a position of power (and probably even easier as a woman of color in that position, but that’s an experience I can’t personally speak to). You have to work so hard for the smallest victories that it becomes easy to lose yourself and your ideals in the fight to protect what you’ve earned.

But this death row case helped Jessica find herself again. It allowed her to reconnect with the young woman she once was, and in doing so, she learned a scary truth: She didn’t want to keep living the life she’d been living. She wanted to be better; she wanted to be happy. It was clear in the scene in which she told Harvey and Louis she was leaving: Jessica couldn’t keep fighting these battles to protect the firm; it was crushing her spirit. She’d fought for so long, but what was it all for? And as such, she chose to walk away from the firm she’d sacrificed so many things to protect.

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2016 Emmy Awards

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Audience

(Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The 2016 Emmy Awards are upon us, and this is the first year in my Emmy-viewing history (which extends back to my early high school years when I first felt the bitter sting of disappointment every time Alias didn’t win) that I have a rooting interest in nearly every category. Although I’m still frustrated by some of this year’s snubs and the overall lack of pleasant surprises among the nominees, it’s nice to see some of my favorites from the world of television with a fighting chance to take home an award this year.

The Emmys give us a chance to celebrate television while eating pizza on our couch and freaking out every time our favorites are shown in the audience (or is that just me?), so no matter how annoyed I get about nominees and winners, I watch them with rabid enthusiasm every year. And you can join in the rabidly enthusiastic fun on Twitter, where I’ll start live-tweeting with my reactions to the red carpet coverage at 6 p.m. EST!

Without further ado, here are my picks for who I think will win each of the night’s major awards (except Outstanding Television Movie because I didn’t see any of the nominees) and who I wish would win. Don’t forget to share your hopes and your predictions for this year’s Emmys in the comments!

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick and My Wish: The Americans
My Thoughts: I’ll be honest with all of you; I really think Game of Thrones has the best chance to win this award. But I can’t pick against what I consider the best show on television when it has finally found itself in this position. And if Emmy voters want to go in a different direction since Game of Thrones won last year (which isn’t likely, but it could happen), then I think The Americans is in a prime position to move to the front of the pack. This season was universally loved by critics and fans; it has more buzz around it than ever before; and it nicely fills the “20th century American dramatic period piece” void left behind by Mad Men. The Americans is simply a brilliant piece of television and has been for years, and it’s time Emmy voters took notice.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Veep
My Wish: black-ish
My Thoughts: I don’t think any show is going to upend Veep’s reign of dominance, especially considering the plethora of other awards it’s nominated for. However, I’d love to see black-ish shock everyone with a win in this category. It had a stellar sophomore season that tackled important issues with honesty and heartfelt emotion (“Hope” was one of the most profound episodes of television in all of 2016.) while never losing its sharp sense of humor.

Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick and My Wish: The People v. O.J. Simpson
My Thoughts: The People v. O.J. Simpson could have gone wrong in so many ways, but somehow it ended up being a true triumph. It managed to take an event analyzed for more than a decade by legal experts and everyday Americans and open our eyes to the humanity that got lost in the media circus. That focus on the personal stories of the people on both sides of the trial allowed its stellar cast to shine, and its strong ensemble work and surprisingly deep and nuanced tone is what will help it emerge victorious.

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