The 100: Spacewalker

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THE 100: 2.08 “Spacewalker”

Midseason finales can be rough. And with a show like The 100, which is rather brutal and surprising every week, this rough finale was no surprise. If you haven’t yet seen last night’s episode and you don’t want to be spoiled, I suggest you stop reading now.

While the events of last night may not have been surprising, they were certainly poignant and painful. In the aftermath of Finn’s massacre and on the brink of war, the Grounders and Skypeople finally came to a truce. Unfortunately, that truce would only move forward if the Skypeople handed over Finn to die the 18 deaths of their people.

Of course, Clarke and crew were against it. Finn was their friend. Finn was one of their people. It was no surprise that Bellamy, Clarke, Raven — even Murphy — were trying to save him. What was surprising, to me at least, was that Clarke’s mother and other officials at Camp Jaha were trying to save him as well.

Why was this strange? Well, sure, he’s just a kid. He shouldn’t have to be handed to an enemy camp for death by torture. But then again, when did those in charge of Camp Jaha — those who used to run the Ark — ever look the other way at death for breaking the law. Floating people was their usual punishment. And while some of that might have been for the purposes of oxygen preservation, somehow I doubt that mentality would change once they were on the ground. It was in their government and culture. You break the law, you die. And when basically world peace is at stake (this is the only world they know now), it seems an obvious choice to sacrifice one boy for the sake of the rest of your people. (Perhaps this is just early insight into discovering that Clarke’s mother may not be all that great of a chancellor.)

What I wasn’t expecting for this episode was the flashbacks, where we finally discovered why Finn had been imprisoned. It wasn’t that he spacewalked himself, but he covered for Raven after helping her do it. Of course, all that was moot once Raven discovered that her physical reason for being held back was overturned given her records. Had Finn never been imprisoned, he would never have gotten on the ground, never met Clarke — well, you get the point.

This guilt for Raven was pushing her to extremes. She was willing to sacrifice Murphy, kill the Grounders’ leader, punch one of the Camp’s own officials. Honestly, this only made the episode better. I worried that we’d focus too much on Clarke and Finn, a relationship that was fine but not my favorite on the series (Bellmay/Clarke shippers unite; you now have your chance). So seeing Finn and Raven’s relationship back in the glory days of the Ark was really nice.

That said, Clarke’s desperate attempt to save Finn’s life — “He did it for me.” “Then he shall die for you.” — was just heartbreaking. And while it will only create a rift between Raven and Clarke (and possibly many others), it was the right choice to kill Finn to save him from the terrible torture ahead of him.

The ending somehow has stayed in my memory long after the episode ended. While it wasn’t necessarily a shock, I suppose I held out hope that somehow Finn would make it (even though you could easily argue that the show will be even better without him now that Clarke has to live with her actions and many people may be angry with her). I even wondered if that stabbing was really a kill — if it was all just a setup to have Finn released.

But no, I think it was the last we’ve seen of Finn, who ended up being a good-hearted kid. And when I woke up this morning, I felt that same sadness I felt as tears fell out of Clarke’s eyes (she did a great job on that scene, by the way). Once again, The 100 impresses. And now I’m just haunted, much like Clarke herself may be, until a January return.

*Photo by The CW

Dear ABC Family: For Some Shows, Skip the Merry Christmas

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There’s a lot to make fun of about ABC Family, but for some reason, I like some of their original series. Switched at Birth is clearly the front runner for me — I’ve watched it since the beginning. But I was pleasantly surprised by Chasing Life as well. Both of these ended on cliffhangers over the summer, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting their returns in January.

And yet, when I heard these two shows were going to have Christmas specials, I was dismayed. Sure, I might want to see these characters again, but a Christmas special? What will that do with the tension? The show’s canon?

As it turns out, both shows failed when it came to Christmas cheer, but for different reasons. Here’s why.

Switched at Birth

I’ll presume that if you’re reading this, you likely saw the finale of Switched at Birth. If you haven’t, well, you may want to skip down a bit. But at the end of the summer, we were left with a twist where instead of Daphne sauntering into a jail cell, Bay took the blame. Given that Bay has no criminal record but is certainly not the #1 perfect kid, her fate is really up in the air.

And yet, here we are at Christmastime. It was as if the events of the past season — or really, the past seasons — had never happened. In fact, this episode could have been placed in the middle of any season (preferably one without a cliffhanger). It was completely contrived for a rating ploy, trying to get fans to watch.

Sure, it was cute enough. But it just made no sense being placed in the middle of this season. It added nothing to the show and certainly didn’t work within the show’s canon. As someone who desperately clings to canon (I was a Buffy fan, after all), this bugs me.

Ultimately, if a fan missed this episode, they really wouldn’t miss out on the show at all. They could return in January with no lags in memory or plot holes to fill in. They’d be all set. I suppose for a Christmas special, that makes sense then. It’s really optional watching.

Chasing Life, on the other hand… Continue reading

Why New Girl’s ‘Girl Fight’ Actually Worked

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The episode title “Girl Fight” didn’t make me too excited to turn on New Girl last night. But somehow it was one of the funniest this season.

One possible reason for this is that it went back to the mail premise of the show. Here, we have a girl living with a bunch of dudes. That was the premise of New Girl way back when. How funny would it be to have a doe-eyed girl living with a bunch of smelly guys? That would be hilarious. They wouldn’t know how to get along. Guys don’t understand girls. This’ll be great.

And true, the show progressed beyond that premise. For one thing, it got sucked into the sexual tension hole that was Nick and Jess, and while that relationship didn’t kill the series, it did slow it down.

But here, we had a regular day. Coach and Schmidt were “fighting,” and a quick punch in the groin ended it. We then discover the differences between dude fights and girl fights.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a girl, but the passive aggressive nature of Jess and Cece’s fights were hilarious. More so were what they were fighting about. It all started with a purse.

Now, a lot of people wouldn’t get mad at a purse. And yet, I could completely understand how a small annoyance, like fighting over a purse (and agreeing that no one would have it), would open up all kinds of issues from way back when. And of course, it was natural to have a guy who doesn’t understand this try to fix it.

As a side note, Coache’s reminiscence of his childhood, watching his two sisters cut their braids off because he stuck a bow in his upset sister’s hair had me rolling on the floor. So of course he’d understand what to do here. And Schmidt, who prides himself apparently for understanding women because he once had man boobs, would not.

Ok, so the fight itself was a little lame. But the rest was hilarious. Just to understand how it escalated so quickly, all over a little yellow purse. And honestly, the fight itself might not have been all too funny if not for the side commentary by Cece’s roommate (I still quote her from back in the day with her reference to “MicMouse”).

But let’s go back to why this episode worked. t didn’t get caught in the slog of a story arc. We weren’t worrying about Jess and her teacher beau. We weren’t even thinking about whether Schmidt and Cece would get back together, even if there were some side comments. And, sure, Winston might’ve been studying for his police exam but that was the smallest reference to a multi-episode plotline.

We went back to a basic, simple premise that studied the idiosyncrasies of men and women. It was a solid, funny stand-alone episode.

And it worked.

*Photo by Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Some Early Thoughts on Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever

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Thanksgiving has passed, which means we’re officially in Christmas territory. Don’t hold it against me, but I’ve already dipped my toes into some Christmas movies, though in my defense, not many. We’re talking one or two from Hallmark (which I won’t name here — they weren’t worth seeing, even if one was a new premiere this year). And, I did go ahead and check out the screener for Lifetime’s upcoming movie Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, which premieres tomorrow night at 8/7c.

You may remember Grumpy Cat from her (yes, her) internet fame. If not, just take a look at this rather straightforward Google image search. Well, this very “famous” cat has moved from meme to merchandise to movie.

In the movie, Grumpy Cat (voiced by Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Rec fame) lives in a pet store, sarcastic and bitter from having one too many families return her. Or just because she wants to be sarcastic and bitter. It’s your guess as to which is the right reason. But Grumpy is surprised to find a friend a young girl named Chrystal, who can suddenly hear Grumpy speak. Together, they must stop some big bads from stealing a very important object in the mall: a million-dollar dog.

Naturally, this description would make you believe this is a kid’s movie, right? Well, it is — kind-of. Sure, the heroine is a young girl and there are talking animals. In addition, there’s some rather Home Alone slapstickish antics. That being said, it all takes place in a mall, and they knowingly call their mall Santa “Rodney,” so if you’re like to have your kids watch the movie, you better set them straight about why this particular mall might not have a real Santa. (Sure, you may discover that there’s some magic in the air, but I’d imagine there might be some level of complication there.)

So let’s put aside the idea that this could be considered a kids movie. How about the adults? Well, in its defense, it does make fun of itself. You know how I mentioned that Grumpy has progressed from meme to merchandise to movie? That’s literally a joke in the movie itself. Not only that, but it introduces its own commercial breaks, and Aubrey Plaza even appears in the movie in a soundstage at one point. It’s very meta.

Unfortunately, what happens is that all of these quirks adds up to a rather disjointed movie, which is probably why even Aubrey Plaza said that this movie is best watched drunk.

In addition, this movie has its own definition of grumpy. Sadly, Plaza fails to come across as grumpy — just sarcastic. In fact, the same tone of voice she uses comedically in Parks and Rec when she’s trying to be over the top is the voice used throughout the entire movie. I’ve seen enough Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street and even dwarves in Snow White to understand what it means to be grumpy; sarcastic is not the same. And in the end, it comes across more as annoying narrative than anything else.

Overall, I can’t specify who this movie is supposed to be for or who would necessarily enjoy it. If you can get over the “mall Santa” thing, perhaps it’s a nice family film. But even then, I think you’ll discover that the way it’s spliced together will be too distracting and quite frankly puzzling to enjoy.

My recommendation? Pass on this movie and look for the next Christmas family film. I’m sure ABC Family is counting down to one even as we speak.

Disclaimer: As a side note, I did receive a rather entertaining Grumpy Cat calendar to go along with the screener. My 1.5 year old son truly enjoys it. Given his love of cats, he’d probably highly recommend the movie. Take that as you need to.

*Photo by Joseph Viles/Lifetime

The 100: Human Trials

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THE 100: 2.05 “Human Trials”

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve written about The 100. But that certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching. And when I’ve been watching, I’ve been on the edge of my seat.

Last week was no different. And much like the previous episodes, the episode was more than just a sequence of events. It was all a discussion of what these kids — the 100 — really are. Are they still just kids?

Personally, I’m with Raven. Clarke, in particular, stopped being a child the minute she was sent down to the ground to die. Not only did she learn her survival skills, but she learned to lead people. In fact, I’m waiting for the moment when Clarke stops talking about saving her friends and starts talking about saving her people.

Let’s take a step back, first. I’m not saying Clarke’s perfect. The previous episode was telling. She still has a good heart, one that trusts the Grounders, particularly if they have a common enemy. But I don’t think Clarke made an ally in Anya. The way Anya was assessing that camp, she was planning on bringing her people back to Camp Jaha to take them out. Of course, she didn’t get the chance.

Nonetheless, Clarke knows her priorities. The ground is more dangerous than just hanging out behind an electric fence (and it does make you wonder how long that power is really going to last). She needs to save her friends at Mt. Weather — and maybe even find the rest of the 100 who are missing (if they’re still alive at all). She’s a leader. And now that Bellamy is back at her side, they’re on a mission.

And by the way, was the reunion between Bellamy and Clarke not cute? I love it.

But at the end of the day, these teenagers aren’t as old as they think they are, displayed by Finn. I admit, I spent the last few minutes of the episode mouth agape in shock as Finn took out the Grounder camp with his gun. He was just a scared little boy. And I’m not sure that’s something that anyone will recover from.

The coming weeks will really show the repercussions of Finn’s actions. Grounders will certainly not forgive Sky People. Sky People already don’t trust Grounders — and that distrust will only grow upon the realization that Kane has been taken.

But let’s stop talking about war. On the other side of this episode was a psychological experiment. Mt. Weather has its own agenda, apart of the war on the outside. While I really didn’t care much about what Lincoln was going through — the mad scientist just felt a little misplaced in this series — I’m interested enough to see it play out. They said they’re making an army. Does that mean they’re making the Reapers? Or something else? I guess we’ll have to see.

More important to me is the safety of Jasper, Monty, and the other 40-something teenagers held in Mt. Weather. Clearly, they’re not as safe as they think. And I think Monty is catching on. What’s worse, I think containment breach was purposeful, which means someone in there has some malicious intentions — more malicious than we thought.

There are a lot of things at play right now for everyone on the ground. But what’s for sure is that no one is safe, no matter who their enemy is.

The Vampire Diaries: The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get

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THE VAMPIRE DIARIES: 6.06 “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get”

What an…interesting episode. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen once Damon returned. We got to see him reunite with Stefan last week, and I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see more reactions from folks about his reappearance. I mean, we got to see Caroline tell Elena, but we didn’t really see Caroline react — which would have probably involved some rather wide eyes and big exclamations, knowing Caroline. We saw Damon and Enzo see each other in the truck, but Enzo had been watching Damon passed out for a while before he woke up. Geez, we didn’t even get to see a reaction from Alaric. And Jeremy… Well, we might not have seen Jeremy’s initial reaction, but at least we got to see them have a short frustrated conversation about it.

To be honest, I wish we could have seen more Jeremy in this episode. I thought it was so sweet of Damon to lie to Jeremy, to tell him that Bonnie found peace instead of telling him that she sacrificed herself (not that I really think Bonnie’s dead — if Kai can’t die, who’s to say Bonnie can). But Jeremy’s reaction at the end of the episode — the brutal reaction to really discovering that she was gone — was just heartbreaking. That real emotion was missing in this episode. He’s the only one who got a real reaction.

And part of that is because most of the episode was devoted to Elena and her trying to avoid Damon. While the moments they were close to each other were tangible, like when they were on either side of her door (man, Damon plays unrequited love so well), because they were apart instead of even just dealing with the fact that she doesn’t remember, it felt empty, and possibly not in a good way. Honestly, I got rather annoyed at Elena’s inner turmoil (which came across more as confused).

That being said, I give the writers of TVD props for coming up with a creative way to prevent her from getting her memories back. It’s much too easy to just un-compel her. We needed something. Sure, I doubt that Jo could really fix and save Alaric from, what, a ripped aortic valve or aorta? in the middle of the road. But it made for a good story device.

So now we’re left with Damon having to make Elena fall in love with him again. Which should be rather frustrating but fun to watch. Damon can be very convincing — at least for this viewer. I just hope Elena stops looking confused — and stops wearing that awful golf shirt.

*Photo by Tina Rowden/The CW

The 100: Reapercussions

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THE 100: 2.03 “Reapercussions” (Get it?)

Well, this episode was a doozy. I want to jump right in and say how happy I am that Dichen Lachman is back on the show. Since Anya was presumed dead at the end of last season, it was a shock to see her alive and caged in last week’s episode. And she’s certainly not lost any of her anger and determination this week.

My last review, which was about the season opener, was all about power. This week, though, it’s less about power and more about morality. From the get-go, we’ve always been rooting for The 100. We ultimately wanted them to survive, even if they were a rambunctious group of criminal teenagers.

In the start of the series, we certainly didn’t trust their moral code. After all, Bellamy was automatically against the Chancellor, telling everyone to take their bracelets off to fool them. And that was the least they did. A child slit Wells’ throat, and Murphy was strung up from a tree.

But over the season, they seem to have found a moral code. Suddenly, they’re who we’re basing everything off of. The Grounders wanted to kill them. Grounders are bad. The Reapers wanted to kill them worse. The Reapers are worse.

So where are we now? Suddenly, The 100 are faced with those that imprisoned them, the law-abiding citizens that launched them to the ground in the first place. Instead of floating, we now see Camp Jaha using electric whips on their law breakers — even if they’re in such high places as Abby. Sure, Kane clearly felt lousy after the fact (though, honestly, it makes no sense to put the person you just publicly tortured in the Chancellor seat), but nonetheless, harshness rules. Right and wrong fall along a pretty violent line.

Then we have Mt. Weather, who we just discovered is MUCH less than than moral. Not only are they draining Grounders of their blood to save their own skin (literally, it saves their radiation-mutilated skin), but they’re handing off the bodies to the Reapers, who, in turn, hand over fresh bodies to Mt. Weather. While, certainly, these folks have realized how to survive in a rather cruel world, it’s brutality at its worst.

So clearly, The 100 have the moral high ground here. They kill, but only in extreme circumstances: when hundreds of Grounders are coming to kill them, or in self-defense, like Octavia (who suddenly became badass in this episode, by the way). But is that all?

Let’s look at Finn, who has suddenly gone off the deep end in his search for Clarke. Sure, love is guiding his actions, but he killed a Grounder execution-style — a Grounder we know had nothing to do with Clarke’s disappearance. Where is the moral line now?

Oddly enough, it may be that the Grounders have the most defined lines of right and wrong. Now that we know the connection between Mt. Weather and the Reapers, it’s suddenly clear the abuse these Grounders have been dealing with. No wonder they’ve been so easy to defend themselves. Any strike against them is just another clean-faced human working against their people. They’re already in a war. The 100 just happened to come down in the middle of it, already looking like some of the enemy.

It’s a brutal, “trust no one” world. And with Clarke and Anya in a enemy/ally situation, it can only make the lines between good and evil that much more blurry — and interesting.

*Photos by the CW/Cate Cameron