Agent Carter Life Lesson of the Week: Hollywood Ending

Agent Carter s2

“Dwelling on what might have been is no way to live.”

We can’t change the past, and we can’t control the future. But we can choose how we deal with the present. A life lived as a slave to the hypothetical is a life half-lived, so it’s up to us to make the present the best it can be. Peggy Carter’s journey this season has been about moving away from the hypothetical—her longing over what might have been and her fears of what could be—and allowing herself to find a place in the present where she belongs and feels happy. That journey created a season of Agent Carter that was allowed to grow with its heroine and a finale that showcased the power of choosing to live in the present and forge a path without regrets.

As a Catholic schoolgirl, I learned a prayer when I was younger that I still use as a mantra today:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

It’s in that balance between serenity, courage, and wisdom that we find happiness in the present. And “Hollywood Ending” highlighted the ways all of this season’s major players worked to find that balance.

Naturally, the character who struggled the most with that balance was Whitney Frost. If I had one major complaint about “Hollywood Ending,” it was that Whitney’s defeat felt anticlimactic and not worthy of the complexity of her character. I would have loved for her to have been the reason the rift stayed open instead of her playing no real role in that life-or-death situation. However, the scenes before and after the Zero Matter was taken from her were much more interesting.

Watching the madness take hold of Whitney was fascinating, and Wynn Everett was once again at the top of her game. Whitney believed this was her way of making the most of the present, of choosing her happiness. She’d spent so many years listening to what other people told her to do and living the life she thought she was supposed to live, but it broke my heart to see that all she was doing now was listening to another voice telling her what to do—the voice of Zero Matter.

Whitney’s desire to grow more powerful on her own set up another excellent parallel between her and Peggy. While Peggy learned that she could achieve more by allowing others to fight alongside her, Whitney chose to push everyone else away. Peggy entered that final showdown with a whole team beside her, but Whitney entered it alone.

However, there was one person who was still fighting for Whitney over the voices of Zero Matter—and that was the man who loved her. Yes, Joseph Manfredi is a villain in his own right, but I’m a sucker for a man who loves a strong woman—and that’s who Joseph turned out to be. He knew a life with Whitney—the real Whitney—was worth fighting for. Even if it meant working with Team Carter to save the woman he loved (which gave us that fantastic scene of him holding Jarvis at gunpoint).

It broke my heart to see Joseph visit Whitney at the episode’s end, only to discover that she’d lost the one thing she valued above all others: her mind. She was now a slave to what might have been—desperately trying to get back to a place of power by any means necessary, including clawing at her own face to open it up. It was a chilling final moment that was worthy of such a great character, and that final scene made up for the fact that the actual climax of her story was a bit underwhelming.

Unlike Whitney, Jason Wilkes refused to be controlled by Zero Matter. He chose a different path for himself—a hero’s path. And while it felt a little convenient for his explosion to take away all his Zero Matter, I wasn’t complaining, because it was nice to see him join Team Carter as himself. Jason is a fundamentally good man who made desperate choices when faced with an impossible situation, and I liked that no one held that against him. What mattered weren’t the choices he made in the past but the choices he was making in the present. And in the end, he found where he belonged.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (5/24 – 5/31)

Sorry for the delay in posting this, friends! I had a lot of emotions to work through first. (Warning: This post centers around an episode that dealt with rape and torture, so if those topics upset you, it’s probably best to stop reading now.)

This week in television included the first week of dates on The Bachelorette, the start of The CW’s excellent plan to re-air its most popular new shows this summer (I loved the pilot of The Flash!), and a typically tense and exciting episode of Orphan Black that featured the wonderful first meeting of Mrs. S. and Helena, as well as plenty of fun new twists and turns for Allison.

However, the best thing I saw on TV this week didn’t come from any of those shows. In fact, it came from an hour of television that left audiences very divided: the Outlander season finale.

While there is no denying that this finale (which featured incredibly graphic sequences of rape and physical/emotional torture) was the most disturbing hour of television I’ve ever watched, I find myself firmly in the camp of viewers who were impressed with the way this episode handled the trauma of rape and the emotional/psychological ramifications of it,  beyond using it as a mere plot device. This wasn’t darkness for the sake of darkness or horror for the sake of shock value; it was a harrowing exploration of the effects of brutal sadism on a human being and the impact of rape and torture both on the survivor and those who care for them. This was an episode that cared about what the victim was going through on an emotional and psychological level, and, as such, it brought out the kind of intensely haunting and raw performance in Sam Heughan that I really hope earns him consideration when it’s time to announce Emmy nominations.

In an episode so dark and disturbing, it was important to have something to balance out the sense of despair that could have dominated the hour. And in order for that balance to be achieved against scenes as horrible as the flashbacks to Jamie being repeatedly raped and psychologically tormented, we needed to feel the depth of Claire’s love for Jamie more strongly than ever before. Thankfully, Caitriona Balfe was more than up to the task, turning in a stunningly vulnerable performance of her own.

While some might name the episode’s ending as its most beautiful scene because of its pure sense of hope and light after so much time spent in darkness, my favorite scene came before it, when Claire got through to Jamie by reminding him that—no matter what happened to him or how damaged or shamed he feels—he is her husband, and she has chosen to love him always. I’ve watched a lot of television shows with married couples in them, but I’ve never seen a moment that got to the heart of the vows to love each other “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” like this moment did. This moment was what a strong marriage is all about: two people who made a promise to choose to love each other—even when it’s not easy—and honor that promise always, because they believe what they have together is worth fighting for.

Sometimes it’s not easy to believe you’re worth fighting for, which is exactly what Jamie went through in that scene. He couldn’t believe Claire would still want him after what happened to him. But Claire doesn’t see Jamie as someone to be ashamed of or someone to pity; she never has. She sees him as someone to love. She sees a survivor rather than a victim, and that’s so important in a story about trauma. There are few fictional characters I know of who need healing more than Jamie Fraser, so I have always appreciated the beauty in the fact that he fell in love with and married a healer who is just as good at healing his physical wounds as she is at helping him begin to mend his emotional ones. Claire was right in this scene when she said everything worked out as it did in order for them to be together, and that’s the stuff of epic love stories that don’t come around every day.

Love can’t erase the scars of traumatic experiences. But it can be enough to help that same person learn to live with their own scars. Love can be a flicker of strength and hope where there once was only darkness, and the love between Jamie and Claire—and the way it was shown through the performances by Heughan and Balfe—provided moments of true beauty in an episode that could have been unwatchable in its bleakness.

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

Grading the Season Finales 2015: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Source: spoilertv.com

Source: spoilertv.com

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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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (5/10 – 5/17)

This was a truly fantastic week of television, which is usually what happens when May sweeps time is in full swing and finales are airing all over the place. On Sunday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine set up its season finale with a great cliffhanger, and Game of Thrones aired another strong hour. However, it was a pair of season finales which made Sunday truly memorable. On The Good Wife, Kalinda said her final farewell and a surprise visitor showed up at Alicia’s door in the closing seconds. Also on on Sunday, Once Upon a Time‘s season finale gave us a fun trip into an alternate reality, but it also gave us a heart-wrenching sacrifice made out of hope, love, and true bravery. Monday continued the trend of strong season finales, with an episode of Castle so good it could have served as the perfect ending to the whole series. And Wednesday’s season finale of Nashville was as emotional as it gets, with moments of pain and pride that moved me deeply. Finally, Saturday’s episode of Orphan Black was a breathless thrill ride, and Outlander aired an episode that shook all of its fans to their core (an episode I still can’t think about without my hands starting to shake). In a week filled with some episodes that might end up as all-time favorites of mine in their respective series, choosing the best moment felt like a nearly impossible task. Was it Emma’s incredible moment of bravery or the emotional sacrifices in the alternate reality which inspired her sacrifice on Once Upon a Time (or even the very sexy sword fighting lesson between Emma and Hook)? Was it Mrs. S. welcoming Gracie as her guest on Orphan Black? Or was it Will finally learning to love himself and love someone else openly and proudly on Nashville? All of those were great moments, but only one moment I saw on television this week has made me cry happy tears every time I’ve re-watched it, and that’s the ending of Monday’s Castle finale. There was such love in that scene—between the characters, the actors, and the writers. Every word of Castle’s speech was beautiful. And the sight of the entire cast together in one room for the first time was incredibly moving, highlighting the sense of family this show has built over the last seven years. Nothing I saw on television this week made me happier than those final minutes of this season of Castle. They were a true gift to fans of this show, and I will treasure them. Always. What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

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

Source: onceuponatime.wikia.com

Source: onceuponatime.wikia.com

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

Source: spoilertv.com

Source: spoilertv.com

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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Fangirl Thursday: A Perfect One-Two Punch

The only thing better than a great season finale is a great season premiere to build on the foundation laid in that finale. It’s a perfect one-two punch: the shock that often comes with a brilliant finale and the catharsis often granted by an equally brilliant premiere.

In my years as a dedicated TV fan, I’ve seen plenty of great finales and premieres, especially from mythology-heavy shows like Once Upon a Time, Orphan Black, and Lost. However, I’ve never seen a more powerful finale/premiere duo than the knockout combination of Alias’s “The Telling”/“The Two.” Those two episodes set the standard for me in terms of shocking cliffhangers and premieres that dealt perfectly with their fallout.

Alias’s second season was pure brilliance. And its finale was exactly the kind of ending such a phenomenal season deserved. It featured one twist after another (“Francie doesn’t like coffee ice cream…”) until the final minutes gave way to what I still consider the most blindsiding cliffhanger I’ve ever watched.

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