Grading the Season Finales 2015: Brooklyn Nine-Nine



Title Johnny and Dora (2.23)

Written By Luke Del Tredici

Two-Sentence Summary When Jake and Amy have to pose as an engaged couple to track an identity thief, their ability to separate their personal feelings from their professional partnership is put to the test. Meanwhile, Terry and Gina try to help Captain Holt find a way out of his new position, and Boyle helps Marcus plan a surprise for Rosa’s birthday.

Game-Changing Moment Changes were happening all over the 99th precinct at the end of this episode. Captain Holt decided to take the job with NYPD Public Relations rather than letting his team fall into the hands of Madeline Wuntch, and that decision sent shockwaves through the precinct, even more so when Gina decided to leave with him. Having Holt and Gina work separately from the rest of the characters broadened the scope for Season Three and shook up some of the show’s best dynamics—Jake and Holt, Amy and Gina, Terry and Gina, Amy and Holt, etc. I’m sure the show will find a way to believably (or at least entertainingly) bring those two characters back to the precinct soon enough, but until that happens, Brooklyn Nine-Nine will certainly feel different.

Captain Holt’s departure and the sense of change it brought with it also seemed to inspire Jake and Amy to change the game in their own way—with a real kiss after a pair of undercover ones earlier in the episode. While the fallout from that kiss wasn’t addressed yet (thanks to the arrival of the new captain), it was clear from both of their expressions after pulling away that this isn’t going to be something they try to ignore or excuse away because they regret it. Instead, this has the potential to be a major turning point in their relationship, and, as such, a major turning point in the show.

“Johnny and Dora” ended with a sense of confidence in terms of where the show is going and how it’s getting there. It swung for the fences on not just one but two major changes, and I think both of those swings will lead to big hits. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a show that has yet to let me down thus far. That makes it easy for me to watch large-scale changes unfold, because I have every faith that those changes will be handled with care.

Finale M.V.P. How do we start a campaign to get Andre Braugher an Emmy for playing Captain Holt? Because I want to lead the charge. This finale started with a typical “Holt vs. Wuntch” plot, which always brings fun things out of Braugher as an actor. From his description of her as a succubus to his face as she checked to see if he was wearing a wire, I loved every moment. However, it was when Holt actually had to leave the precinct that Braugher really got a chance to stretch this character’s range and tug at all our heartstrings in the process. I loved that he started his farewell speech with his usual unemotional demeanor, but then the emotions he felt became so overwhelming that they started to peek through. And best part was that the dominant emotions were pride and love for the family he’s become the leader of. That scene could have been played for laughs and nothing else, with him finally showing emotion by breaking down and crying, but the show instead chose to have him genuinely smile, which was a thousand times more affecting (for the audience and for the other characters). “Warm” is not an adjective usually used to describe this character, but that’s exactly what he was in that last scene. And the fact that Braugher managed to make Holt’s rare display of genuine affection feel so grounded, earned, and believable speaks to his ability to make what could have been a robotic, one-dimensional character always feel human and complex. I love when unexpected characters make me cry, and that’s exactly what Braugher was able to achieve with his performance in this finale.

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Grading the Season Finales 2015: Castle

As this season of Castle draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for coming here to talk about the show with us each week, and also to thank Heather for her wonderful posts about the show when I wasn’t able to write about it. It’s always a pleasure to get to talk about a show I love so much with others who love it like I do.

Source: ABC/Richard Cartwright

Source: ABC/Richard Cartwright

Title Hollander’s Woods (7.23)

Written By Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller

Two-Sentence Summary When a murder victim is found with crosses carved into her face, Castle is reminded of the grim discovery he found in the woods as a boy, which led to his fascination with the stories behind murders. As Castle faces his past demons, Beckett is given a potential new path to follow in the future when it’s suggested she run for New York State Senate.

Game-Changing Moment Changes in Beckett’s career have been centerpieces in more than one Castle finale: Her resignation played a big role in the conclusion of Season Four’s finale, and her job offer from Washington was a focal point in the finale of Season Five. And now in Season Seven, we were given Kate Beckett at a career crossroads that has huge implications for the character and Castle as a show no matter which option she chooses. On one hand, she was offered a chance to run for New York State Senate. On the other hand, she was told she could be captain of her own precinct within a year. Both paths would lead to big things for a character who certainly deserves them, but both paths also would most likely take her away from the 12th precinct. Since this episode was written as a potential series finale (as both main actors’ contracts were still being negotiated at the time it was written), those two job offers made sense as new paths for Beckett to take in a future we wouldn’t be watching play out every week. However, it’s going to be interesting to see what the writers do now that both actors are back and the show has been renewed for another season, with the promise of many more coming from executives at ABC. Will Beckett choose one of these paths but still stay involved at the 12th precinct somehow? Will she forgo running for State Senate in order to focus on becoming a captain within the year (thus staying at the precinct and giving the show another season to figure things out)? Whatever she chooses, it has the potential to be a serious game-changer for a show that has such a strong focus on the family that’s been built within the precinct and the relationship between Castle and Beckett as partners in both life and work.

Finale M.V.P. “Hollander’s Woods” was a great showcase for the talents of both Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion. However, the real stars of this finale were another successful partnership: writers Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller. As creators, producers, and writers, this dynamic duo has been the heart and soul of Castle from its earliest days. And with both them exiting the show after this season, this finale was their swan song. And what a lovely song it was.

Castle is a show about a writer. Therefore, it’s a show about words. And in Marlowe and Miller’s hands, the words in this finale simply felt right. The plot moved along well and revealed some fascinating stuff about Castle’s character, but the actual lines spoken by Castle and Beckett were the most memorable thing about this excellent finale. Beckett’s speech about taking pride in her work and her marriage could only have been written by a woman who loves this character the way Miller does. The scene in which Castle gave Alexis advice about finding her passion was written with a wonderful understanding of both characters and their relationship. Castle’s acceptance speech made me cry because of the simple beauty of the words he was saying. And every scene between Castle and Beckett was written with real care for capturing the essence of the partnership Marlowe and Miller have been devoted to since Day One. “Hollander’s Woods” was like returning home to Castle at its best after a year that’s had its ups and downs in terms of the show’s writing. It reminded me of the power of the right words spoken by the right characters. And it made me feel very grateful for everything Marlowe and Miller have given to me as a fan over the years. It’s sad to see them leave, but I’m so happy they left with such a graceful and beautiful farewell.

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Grading the Season Finales 2015: Once Upon a Time



I wanted to take this moment to thank all of you who’ve joined us here at NGN for our Once Upon a Time discussions every week. It’s a true joy to get to talk about this show with such a wonderful group of fellow fans!

Title Operation Mongoose Part 1/Operation Mongoose Part 2 (4.21/4.22)

Written By Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz

Two-Sentence Summary When Henry finds a way into Isaac’s new story and alternate reality, he has to help Regina find her happy ending before it’s too late. Meanwhile, the threat of the Dark One’s curse leaving Rumplestiltskin’s body grows stronger.

Game-Changing Moment There was more than one game-changing moment in this finale—from Henry becoming the Author (and then possibly eliminating the role of Author altogether by breaking the pen) to Rumplestiltskin ending the episode in a state of suspended animation as we wait to find out who he will be with a heart no longer held by dark forces. However, no moment changed the game like Emma sacrificing herself to the power of the Dark One. With her powerful light magic now existing in the same body as powerful dark magic, she will most likely be a version of the Dark One unlike any we’ve ever seen. Her new state of being will also change things for the characters who care about her, and the quest to destroy the darkness in her (and to destroy the Dark One curse altogether) will be a strong focus for Season Five. None of the main characters on this show can go back to normal after Emma’s sacrifice, and it will be wonderful to watch these people fight to save the savior after she fought so hard for all of them to be happy. I’ve never been this excited about a new season of Once Upon a Time before. That’s the power of a great, game-changing cliffhanger.

Finale M.V.P. It seems like Emma Swan goes through the emotional wringer in every Once Upon a Time season finale, and while that isn’t always easy to watch as a fan of the character (who just wants her to be happy for five minutes), it’s wonderful to watch as a fan of Jennifer Morrison as an actress. In “Operation Mongoose,” Morrison was asked to play so many different emotions, and she made each one ring true, painting perhaps the most well-rounded portrait of Emma Swan we’ve ever seen.

Emma has grown so much throughout this fourth season, and this finale was a chance for Morrison to show this character at her most emotionally open, while still keeping every display of emotion true to who we know Emma to be. More than any other actor in what was really an actor’s showcase of a finale, Morrison made me feel everything Emma was feeling—from her radiant joy at seeing both Henry and Hook again in the alternate universe to her deep sense of determination and love when she made her sacrifice. And when her two biggest emotional moments came—telling Regina how much she loves Hook and then telling Hook before the darkness took her—Morrison delivered with the trademark emotional honesty that has always made her work as Emma so compelling.

“Operation Mongoose” was a turning point for Emma Swan as a character in so many ways. It focused on her bravery not just in terms of wielding a sword but also in terms of opening her heart and believing in the power of hope and love with more intensity than she ever has before. In order for her sacrifice to resonate, this episode needed to make us care about Emma’s heart more than ever before, and Morrison did that through showing just how strong and open Emma’s heart has grown, which made its fate even more devastating.

Most Memorable Line “You taught me how to be a hero. You taught me how to believe in hope. And I do. And now I need you to believe in it, too.” (Emma, to Snow and Charming)

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Grading the Season Finales 2015: Broadchurch

Today, Leah is back with a review of the season finale of Broadchurch.

Title Episode 8

Written By Chris Chibnall

What Happens? The episode opens with the shocking revelation that the jury in Joe’s trial has returned with a “not guilty” verdict, sending everyone in the courtroom into despair. Beth storms out in tears, and the judge wraps the case up, dismissing the jury. As soon as the court adjourns, Alec arrests Claire in connection with the Sandbrook murders and hands her off to his ex-wife Tess, while he goes to tell Ellie to harness her anger towards another goal: “I need someone as angry as me right now because we are going to close the case on Claire and Lee Ashworth.” The game, as they say, is on.

Alec sets a trap for Lee that pays off when he catches him in the act of searching for the pendant, so Alec arrests him. As they question Claire and Lee, Ellie comes up big with the discovery of new evidence, which shows that Lee replaced the floorboards in one of the Ashworths’ rooms around the time Lisa and Pippa went missing. This is the final pressure point they needed, and Lee and Claire confess, shown to the audience as a series of flashbacks explaining what exactly happened that night. We learn that Ricky killed Lisa after discovering her having sex with Lee, and he then pressured Lee and Claire into not going to the police by saying he would blame Lee for it. Since Lee’s DNA was all over Lisa from having sex moments earlier, it was likely Ricky would be believed. Unfortunately, Pippa heard part of the conflict, and at Ricky’s urging, Claire gives Pippa some of the drugged whisky to calm her down and put her to sleep until they figure out what to do. Once Ricky is gone to get the van to transport Lisa’s body, Lee realizes that Pippa thinks he killed Lisa and sees no way out of the situation, so he smothers the sleeping Pippa with a pillow. They dispose of the bodies and Claire threatens Ricky with his flask, which she has buried somewhere, and all three have been in a stalemate of mutual wrongdoing ever since. After hearing Lee and Claire’s confessions, Alec and Ellie bring Ricky in for questioning and then arrest him, and Alec is finally able to close the case.

After Joe is released from custody at the courthouse, he goes to the church to ask Paul for help. Paul knows Joe can’t stay in town, so he comes up with a plan and sets it into motion. Mark and Nigel physically carry Joe out of the church into Nigel’s van and take Joe to the hut on the cliff where Danny was killed. Waiting for him in the hut is Beth and Ellie, and Nigel leaves the four of them to have their moment. After Beth and Ellie say what they need to say to Joe, the three of them walk Joe outside and—with many of the characters we know looking on—put him into a taxi to send him away from the town for good. The people of Broadchurch created their own justice by exiling him.

Ellie and Alec say their goodbyes and seal it with a handshake, as Alec will be going back to live closer to his daughter now that the cases are over. Ellie goes to get Tom and meet up with Beth, Mark, Chloe, and baby Lizzie for the beginning of the reclamation of the beach and to continue to mend hearts with the two families. In the final scene, Alec goes to get in his taxi but pauses and looks around as the driver asks “Where to then, sir?” Perhaps he’s not done with Broadchurch after all. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Game-Changing Moment This episode felt like it wrapped up pretty much everything this show has been focused on for the past two seasons, so while I feel like there were some impactful moments in this episode, I do not see one single moment as having a game-changing impact on Season Three, other than perhaps Joe’s “not guilty” verdict. However, I recently read an interview done with Chris Chibnall (writer and creator) who said there will be no Joe in Season Three, so unless something changes, I believe we will not be dealing with that storyline more than its potential continuing affects on Ellie’s personal life.

The moment I felt had the most impact in this episode was the meeting at the hut where Beth, Ellie, and Mark had a chance to confront Joe. That meeting allowed Beth and Ellie to be able to have that confrontation with Joe and get those emotions out directly at him instead of lashing out at others or bottling it up. It was so important because it likely gave them a little bit of closure knowing they’ve had that chance to face Joe. The subsequent exile of Joe by the town gave both the characters and the audience a small sense of justice that was denied from everyone with the trial’s verdict, and it brought a sense of resolution to the story we have followed from the show’s beginning.

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Grading the Season Finales 2015: The Americans

I want to take a moment to thank all of you who’ve joined us here to talk about what’s been one of the best seasons of dramatic television I’ve watched in a long time. It was a true joy to write about The Americans every week, and so much of that joy came from sharing my enthusiasm for this show with other fans who love it as much as I do.

The Americans finale

Title March 8, 1983 (3.13)

Written By Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg

What Happens? When Elizabeth and Paige head to West Germany to meet Elizabeth’s dying mother, Philip stays behind and continues to deal with the fallout from what happened to Annelise (finally telling Yousaf, “I feel like shit all the time”) and Martha. After revealing his real face (and hair!) to Martha, he leaves her alone to deal with this new information, and he attempts to shutdown the FBI inquiry once and for all by planting the recorder in the apartment of Gene, the IT guy in charge of the mail robot. In order to cover up all of his loose ends, Philip kills Gene in a way that makes it look like he hung himself.

Clearly facing a crisis of conscience, Philip only struggles more after talking to Gabriel, who isn’t happy that he arranged Elizabeth and Paige’s trip without telling his superiors. Gabriel knows Philip is falling apart and commands him to “Grow up.” With seemingly nowhere to turn, Philip sits in on an est seminar about sexuality, where he runs into Sandra Beeman. She suggests that they start sharing their most honest thoughts with each other as a kind of exercise, which Philip says he’ll consider.

Honesty is also developing between Nina and Anton, as she reveals to him that she can’t keep trying to buy her freedom, which is what she was doing by getting close to him. Anton then tells her she can gain power over her captors by denying herself the things they offer her. Nina’s decision to try to find power in her situation will come in handy now that Stan discovered that—despite outing Zinaida as a Russian spy—he can’t secure her freedom. He can, however, work to turn Oleg, which becomes his latest assignment.

While all of this is happening in America, Paige finally meets her grandmother in West Germany. Instead of making her feel more at ease with the truth about her family, however, this meeting only causes Paige more distress, as she wonders how Elizabeth’s mother could send her away and if that could ever happen to her. Paige continues to be unnerved even after arriving home, telling her mother that she doesn’t know if she can keep lying to everyone. Elizabeth tries to comfort her by telling her everyone lies, and what’s important is they’re telling each other the truth now.

After Paige and Elizabeth come home to Philip, he begins to open up to Elizabeth about his confusion and moral conflict, but she cuts him off to focus on Ronal Regan’s “evil empire” speech, which begins playing on the television. As the president addresses a group of evangelicals about the Soviet Union, Paige makes a phone call to another religious leader, Pastor Tim. Through her tears, she tells him the truth: Her parents are Russians.

Game-Changing Moment When a sobbing Paige picked up that phone, I knew nothing was ever going to be the same for this show and these characters. However, Paige wasn’t the only character to change the game in that final scene. The way the final minutes were cut to go back and forth between Paige opening up to Pastor Tim and Philip trying to open up to Elizabeth was masterful. For much of this season, the focus has been on the connection between mother and daughter, but, in the end, it was the traits shared by father and daughter that might prove to be the most important of all. Both Philip and Paige have grown tired of doing what they’re told when those actions contradict what they feel is right; they both have moral compasses that have grown increasingly opposed to the things they’re being asked to do, and it’s tearing them apart from the inside out. While Elizabeth has her firm belief in the cause, her husband seems to have lost his, and their daughter never had that belief to begin with. And without that anchor, father and daughter begin to say things that could endanger them both. This was a moment of two people trying to assert their agency after being told to follow orders for the greater good, but, in the world they live in, asserting agency can have tragic consequences. This is especially true for Paige, who—by sharing her parents’ secret—has either doomed her parents or her pastor, or perhaps both.

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Grading the Season Finales 2015: The Mindy Project



Before we start talking about last night’s finale, I just wanted to say a quick thanks to all of you who’ve joined us here at NGN to talk about The Mindy Project this season. It’s been a true pleasure writing about this season and discussing it with all of you!

Title Best Man (3.21)

Written By Mindy Kaling

What Happens? Mindy invites Danny to meet her parents at a going-away party before they spend a year in India. However, when Danny gets stuck at the hospital for longer than he expected, he decides to stay in New York instead of making the effort to get to Boston. Mindy then takes this as a sign that she was right not to tell her parents about Danny. With his commitment issues and her history of failed relationships, she didn’t want to introduce them to someone who wasn’t going to stick around.

Mindy reveals all of this to Peter while he’s in town to pick a new best man for his wedding. She explains to him that her parents think that the father of her baby is just an ex-boyfriend she’s no longer dating anymore. Naturally, Morgan overhears this part of the conversation and believes there are now questions about the paternity of Mindy’s child.

During a surprise baby shower at Annette’s house, Morgan has a surprise of his own for Mindy: a lineup of her former boyfriends whom he believes could have fathered her child. Forced to confront the fact that she kept information about Danny from her parents, Mindy reveals that she was scared because—as the lineup of men Morgan found proves—she hasn’t been great at picking guys who stick around. As truths start to come out, Danny has one of his own: He doesn’t think he wants to get married again.

While Mindy and Danny discuss their different stances on marriage, they realize they’re on opposite ends of a debate in which there’s really no middle ground. Mindy doesn’t think it’s crazy to want to get married, but Danny thinks the institution is meaningless. After Mindy leaves, a conversation between Annette and Danny allows Danny to open up about why his parents’ divorce and his first divorce left him so scared of getting married again: He doesn’t want to end up hating Mindy. However, Annette reminds Danny that maybe the problem both of them had was that they married people who weren’t deserving of everything good about marriage.

While Mindy stays home from Peter’s wedding due to her preeclampsia (and tries to write to her parents about the real father of her baby), Danny appears to be on a plane to Austin. However, when Mindy gets a call from Morgan, he tells her that Jeremy took Mindy’s place as Peter’s best man, and Danny isn’t at the wedding. Instead, Danny flew to India, where he introduces himself to Mindy’s parents and tells them he’s in love with their daughter.

Game-Changing Moment While I think many would (not incorrectly) see Danny showing up in India to introduce himself to Mindy’s parents as the biggest moment in “Best Man,” I think the most important moment was the conversation that led to Danny taking that big step: his conversation with his mother. Danny isn’t good at vulnerability. But with his beloved Ma, he could finally open up about how damaged he is by the failed marriages he’s seen and been a part of. And it’s only through that open confronting of his fears that he could begin to heal in a way that allowed him to get on the plane at the end of the episode. Without his mother’s guidance and support, Danny would never have found the courage to be the man Mindy deserves. As Annette said so perfectly, if Danny doesn’t believe in fairytales, he picked the wrong girl to start a family with. Mindy deserves the things Danny was scared to give her, and Annette helped her son see that. And in giving her son guidance without pushing him, Annette showed us why Danny became the good (if understandably flawed) man he is: He has a Ma who wants nothing more than for him to be happy and to be his best self. Without Annette’s words of wisdom, there’s no big gesture to end the episode, so I’d consider her this finale’s ultimate game-changer.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Orphan Black


Title By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried (2.10)

Written By Graeme Manson

What Happens? In an attempt to gain access to Kira after she was kidnapped by Rachel, Sarah surrenders to Dyad, and upon her surrender she’s interrogated about her sexual and reproductive history and forced to allow Dyad to harvest her eggs. Kira has her own plans for getting out of Rachel’s clutches; she steals a cell phone to call Cal, who appears at Mrs. S.’s house with plenty of revelations of his own: He’s figured out that Sarah is a clone, and he’s been in contact with a mysterious source who brings up the name Castor, which seems to mean something to Mrs. S.

Sarah and Kira aren’t Rachel’s only captives. She visits her father to try to get him to reveal the secrets to his genetic sequence, but he poisons himself with his own teabag before they can get any more information out of him. In a fit of rage, Rachel shows up at Sarah’s bedside before the surgery that will remove one of her ovaries, and she smashes the tubes of bone marrow Kira donated to help Cosima. The connection between Kira and Cosima has grown to be stronger than just bone marrow, though, and a drawing Kira made of a science lesson her Aunt Cosima taught her leads Sarah to a projectile device rigged up by Cosima and Scott. She frees herself (and ultimately Kira) by putting a pencil through Rachel’s eye with the help of a fire extinguisher.

Momentarily safe from Dyad, Sarah is able to enjoy some time with her sisters, introducing Cosima and Alison to Cal before Felix brings Helena home to meet her family. The sisters, Kira, and Felix are able to enjoy a night of family bonding (aka one big dance party) before chaos resumes in the morning.

Helena is kidnapped by men who are somehow connected to Mrs. S. and Paul, and the last we see of her, she is being put onto a military plane as they watch. Back at Clone Club Headquarters, Cosima experiences a near-death vision of Delphine before Kira wakes her. The little girl brings her aunt the book Rachel’s father gave her, and Cosima sees that his formulae and sequencing codes are hidden in its pages.

Meanwhile, Sarah visits Marian and meets her adopted daughter Charlotte, the only child to survive the 400 attempts to continue Project Leda and create new clones. Marian explains that Project Leda was never really shut down, and it has a brother project continued by the military: Project Castor. As Sarah sees one of the Project Castor clones, it’s revealed that Mark—the ex-military man who helped Gracie escape the Prolethean compound and married her (knowing she was carrying Helena’s child/children)—has plenty of “brothers” that he may or may not know about.

Game-Changing Moment The entire sequence of events at Marian’s home featured one big, game-changing moment after another. For two seasons, we assumed that Project Leda was finished, we assumed that any and all clones would be the same age as Sarah, and we assumed they would all be played by Tatiana Maslany. The introduction of Charlotte, a Kira-aged clone with Sarah’s DNA, blew all of those assumptions to bits. And the introduction of Project Castor changed the game in perhaps an even bigger way. Not only did it add a military angle to the scientific/political/religious debates this show brings to light every week; it broadened the entire scope of the show’s universe by adding a whole new set of clones into the mix. I don’t think their stories will pull too much focus from the female clones we already know (we first discovered Project Castor through Sarah’s eyes, after all); the producers know what’s working for them and probably don’t want to mess too much with that formula. But it will open up some interesting new avenues of storytelling for the show’s third season (which will hopefully be announced soon, pretty please!).

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Game of Thrones

GOT finale S4

As another strong season of Game of Thrones draws to a close, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who participated in our discussions every week. It was a pleasure to talk about this show with all of you. Also, just as a warning, it’s hard to talk about this finale without brining up spoilers for the later books in the series. There will be spoilers, and they will be in both this review and its comments, so proceed with caution.

Title The Children

Written By David Benioff & D. B. Weiss

What Happens? In the North, Jon meets with Mance Rayder before discovering that a new force has come to the Wall to bolster the ranks of the Night’s Watch: Stannis Baratheon, who forces Mance to surrender. Bran is also introduced to new, powerful friends (after losing one when Jojen Reed dies) as he reaches the Three-Eyed Raven, who tells him that he will never be able to walk, but he will be able to fly. Daenerys, on the other hand, needs to keep her “children” grounded after her dragons prove to be responsible for the death of a child, so she puts two of them in chains while Drogon is nowhere to be found.

In King’s Landing, Cersei enlists the help of Qyburn and his unnatural means to keep the Mountain from dying of poisoning after his fight with the Red Viper. She then tells her father that she refuses to marry Loras Tyrell, revealing her relationship with Jaime to Tywin in the process. But despite Cersei’s show of affection towards Jaime, he ultimately sides with Tyrion, breaking his little brother out of his prison cell and helping him escape.

Near the Eyrie, Arya is given a reason to escape from the Hound when she crosses paths with Brienne. While their swords initially provide a moment of bonding for the two women, Oathkeeper proves to be Brienne’s downfall, as the Hound names her as a Lannister sympathizer and fights to his (near) death to keep her from Arya. Afterwards, he’s left begging for death, but Arya does not kill him. Instead, she robs him and heads out into the world on her own once again.

With Jaime’s escape route set before him (planned by Varys), Tyrion also appears ready to head out into the world on his own. However, he first stops in his father’s quarters, where he finds Shae in Tywin’s bed. The sight is too much for Tyrion, who strangles the woman who once was his lover. He then sets his sights on his father, whom he confronts in the bathroom before fatally shooting him with a crossbow.

As Tyrion is put into a crate to travel across the sea, Varys realizes that Tywin’s death means he must also escape in order to avoid the sentence of aiding in patricide. The episode concludes on another ship, where Arya finds herself embracing the possibility of a new life in Braavos.

Game-Changing Moment There were simply too many game-changing moments in this finale for me to choose just one. So I’m turning this one around on you, friends. Tell me: Which moment do you feel was the most impactful? Tywin’s death had huge implications for not just Tyrion’s story but also for Cersei and Jaime, as well as all of the characters in King’s Landing. Shae’s death was a game-changer for Tyrion’s character because it forever altered the way we look at him. (Yes, she betrayed him, but he brutally strangled a woman he once claimed to love.) Arya’s escape to Braavos physically and emotionally put her in a new place. And Stannis’s appearance will have huge ramifications for all the storylines at the Wall (and in the fight for the Seven Kingdoms) going forward. So which did you find the most important?

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Castle

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who’ve read and commented on my Castle posts this season. It’s been a fun ride, and I can’t wait to discuss Season Seven with all of you in the fall!



Title For Better or Worse (6.23)

Written By Andrew Marlowe and Terri Miller

What Happens? Three days before their wedding, a wrench gets thrown into Castle and Beckett’s plans when it’s revealed that Beckett is actually a married woman—and not married to Castle. I turns out that a drunken visit to a Vegas wedding chapel when she was at Stanford ended in a marriage that she thought wasn’t legally binding to Rogan O’Leary, a con artist and criminal.

As Castle stays behind to continue with wedding preparations, Beckett heads to a small town in New York to get Rogan to sign the divorce papers. He won’t do it until she helps him break into his ex-girlfriend’s car to help him get his belongings back after their breakup. After Beckett fulfills her part of the deal, she goes back to O’Leary’s place, only to watch him get kidnapped. After Beckett relays the story to Castle, he agrees to join her to wrap up this problem as soon as possible.

It’s not only the kidnapping of O’Leary that throws a wrench into Castle and Beckett’s wedding plans. Ryan’s tuxedo doesn’t fit, their rooftop venue was destroyed in a fire, and Beckett’s dress was ruined when a pipe burst in her apartment building. Beckett worries that these are all signs that this wedding isn’t meant to happen, but Castle reassures her that all great love stories face obstacles. In order to get the fairytale ending, you have to keep pushing through the bad times.

As Castle and Beckett investigate O’Leary’s disappearance, they come into contact with a biker gang, a stripper, and a reverend who are all connected to Beckett’s newly-discovered husband. It turns out that O’Leary has photos of the stripper with the reverend but also with a mafia hit man who has been on the run from law enforcement for years. The hit man is behind the kidnapping, and he seems intent on wiping out O’Leary as well as Castle and Beckett, until they run into the biker gang again. After learning of the reward on the hit man and knowing they have strength in numbers, the gang removes the hit man from the situation, leaving O’Leary free to sign the divorce papers, which leaves Beckett free to marry Castle.

Despite all of complications, Martha and Alexis move the ceremony to their Hamptons house, and Lanie gets Beckett an even better dress to wear: her mother’s. But as Castle drives to the house after getting their paperwork filed, he’s followed by a dangerous-looking SUV. After he fails to show up when he was supposed to, Beckett gets a call and races to an unknown location in her wedding dress. After she gets out of her car, she sees Castle’s car, which has gone over a cliff and has burst into flames.

Game-Changing Moment For much of this season, it seemed Castle was leading up to a wedding that wasn’t exactly like the one that was planned but was still a happy and hopeful occasion. And while I had some doubts about whether or not the wedding would actually happen in this episode (I thought the lack of huge promotion and the lack of snippets of the wedding ceremony itself in promos was a bad sign), I certainly did not expect such a dramatic way to end the season. It doesn’t get much more game-changing than appearing to kill of your show’s title character. And while we know that won’t be the case, this is going to impact the show in a huge way—no matter who was in that SUV. (My guess: 3XK or someone connected to him.) It added another obstacle to Castle and Beckett’s love story, it prolonged the lead-up to the wedding (presumably so there would be viewers tuning in for the wedding this week and then tuning in again when it actually happens—I’m guessing around the midpoint of next season), and it gave us a moment that we’ll be talking about all summer. Whether or not that talk will be all positive is a different story, but if the job of that plot twist was to shake things up after a season of happy wedding planning, then its mission was accomplished.

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Grading the Season Finales 2014: Once Upon a Time

Since this is the end of this season of Once Upon a Time, I just wanted to thank all of you for reading these reviews every week and for sharing your thoughts so enthusiastically in the comments. It’s been a true pleasure reviewing this show this season, and no small part of that has come from those of you who read and comment on these posts.

Title Snow Drifts/There’s No Place Like Home (3.21/3.22)

Written By David H. Goodman & Robert Hull/Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz

What Happens? After Hook inadvertently hints to Henry (and Regina by proxy) that Emma is thinking of going back to New York, Emma tells Hook that she runs away because she believes that home is a place you miss, and she’ll keep running until she finds a place she misses. She believes she can’t relate to her parents or to life in Storybrooke because, to her, they’re still fairytale characters, and she’ll never feel like the princess she was supposed to be.

As Emma and Hook talk, they notice a light coming from Zelena’s time portal, which was activated by her death, a death Rumplestiltskin fixes to look like a suicide. When Emma is sucked into the portal, Hook dives in after her. They land in the Enchanted Forest, and a wanted poster for Snow White (and a close encounter with the Evil Queen) reveals to them exactly where in the past they landed.

When Emma breaks a twig and accidentally disrupts her parents’ first meeting, she and Hook seek out Rumplestiltskin’s help to set things right. After a tense first meeting with the Dark One (since he and Hook were still mortal enemies at this point), he agrees to help them because Emma tells him they need to survive so he can get back to his son.

Emma and Hook realize that they need to get Snow to still steal Charming’s ring, since that was the key to their love story. To do that, Hook offers Snow passage on his ship in exchange for the ring (as Emma occupies Hook from the past). Snow decides to steal the ring during Charming and Abigail’s engagement party, which Hook and Emma crash in magical disguises (courtesy of Rumplestiltskin). As “Prince Charles and Princess Leia” dance, Snow breaks into the castle, only to be caught by Charming in a similar way to their original first meeting.

When it’s discovered that Snow lost the ring in her escape, things look bleak for Emma and Hook, but they look bleaker when Regina captures Emma for helping Snow White. As Emma bonds with a woman in her cell, Hook and Charming (with some help from his patented net trap) enlist Snow’s help to break into the castle to find her. Emma escapes by picking the locks as Neal taught her (which we’re shown through flashbacks), and she takes the unnamed woman with her. But as Hook and Charming reach them, the realize Snow left them to try to kill Regina, which she’s unable to do. Instead, they watch from afar in horror as Regina appears to burn Snow at the stake.

However, Emma’s existence proves Snow to still be alive, and they discover she used her dark fairy dust to turn herself into a bug and escape. Emma is elated to see her mother alive, but Snow seems unmoved by Emma’s reaction, since she’s simply Princess Leia to her mother. As Snow and Charming move on to other parts of their adventures, Emma is able to watch her parents fall in love.

When Emma and Hook return to Rumplestiltskin looking for a way home, they find he doesn’t have one for them; he only has a forgetting potion for himself. Instead, he locks them in his vault with a wand that can open the portal only with Emma’s magic, which she no longer has. But Emma’s encounter with her mother helped open her eyes to the fact that she misses her parents; she misses them in a way that she knows can only come from knowing they’re her home. Her desire to go home to Storybrooke reawakens her magic, allowing her to open the portal, which Hook takes the woman they saved through first. Rumplestilstkin won’t let Emma leave before she tells him what happens to Bae, and she’s forced to tell him of his death. But he chooses to let her go after she begs him to let his death not be in vain, and he takes the potion.

Back in Storyrbooke, Emma reunites with her parents, telling them she’s finally home (and calling them mom and dad). Later, she goes out to find Hook, ready to thank him for bringing her back from New York. When he reveals that he gave up the Jolly Roger for a way to get back to her, she finally lets herself believe in his love, and they kiss.

Happy endings seem to be prevalent in the episode’s final moments, with Rumplestiltskin marrying Belle (despite her not knowing what he really did to Zelena) and Regina happily kissing Robin. But the woman Emma and Hook brought back turns out to be Robin’s wife, Marian, leaving Regina heartbroken. As Regina tells Emma she hopes she didn’t bring anything else back, a look at the portal reveals that a stowaway from Rumplestiltskin’s vault made the journey too: Princess (or Queen) Elsa has arrived with her freezing powers at the ready.

Game-Changing Moment Emma had no idea how much she changed the game by deciding to do the honorable thing—the Charming Family thing—in bringing back the woman she shared a cell with in Regina’s dungeon. By bringing Marian back to Storybrooke, Emma unknowingly gave Regina a whole new set of conflicts—both internal and external—to be worked through next season. Regina was understandably angry in the moment, but how will she deal with her emotions going forward? It’s that question that will really keep me thinking all summer.

But of course, Emma also brought back someone else, and that’s the real game-changer on a plot level. Will Elsa freeze Storyrbooke? Will the group have to travel to Arendelle? Is she going to be a villain or something closer to her role in Frozen? No matter the answers to these questions, what’s certain is that the show is heading in a new direction once again, and that new direction is going to generate plenty of hiatus buzz.

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