The Flash: “The Trial of The Flash” Needed Fewer Metas and More Defense

46E6A24E-833E-4426-B97D-9AE178FB9F51Photo by Katie Yu/The CW

THE FLASH: 4.10 “The Trial of the Flash”

Last night’s episode of the The Flash brought Barry Allen face to face with a judge after being arrested for the murder of DeVoe. We know before the break that this was all DeVoe’s plan, and Barry made the very difficult decision not to use his powers to run.

I didn’t make note of the episode title until after the episode started, so I was surprised that last night’s episode would bring us to the trial already. There was no real aftermath of seeing Barry taken away, seeing Iris and Joe respond, any sort of arguments against what was happening. We got right to the point where we find out Barry’s fate by the episode’s end.

I was invested in the trial as I watched the episode, though in retrospect, many nitpicks have come to mind, and I now see a number of issues with the episode. I don’t normally write about The Flash (though I do usually live tweet it, if you follow me on Twitter), but I thought I’d air out some concerns here.

First, the meta of the week. We have to remember that while many of us were tuning in to the the trial of Barry Allen, we’re watching a superhero show. Not every viewer wants to see such human events as the justice system in action. Plus, with a large cast of talented people, what do we do with Caitlin, Cisco, and Harry, rather than leaving them sitting on a bench watching the trial? Enter our nuclear meta.

The problem here is I was not in the least interested in seeing what happened with this meta—which is especially unfortunate, given that the meta could actually cause a nuclear event that would decimate the city, if not the globe. This is a pretty high-stakes villain (even if he wasn’t aware of his own power) to shove in the background of another bigger plot.

As strange as it sounds, I would have argued for no meta B-plot. Just focus on the trial. Sure, by cutting Barry’s final act of heroism before being placed behind bars, we might not get that great juxtaposition of speeches between the police chief and the judge. But we would have a lot more time to devote to other trial-related plot points, like more time with DeVoe. Or Joe’s decision to do whatever it takes to keep Barry from prison, including planting evidence (by the way, the scene between Joe and Ralph was so good it was worth having Ralph added to the series, even if I haven’t been a fan of Ralph in previous episodes). They could have done something more interesting with Cisco and Caitlin (I have a suggestion below). And more importantly, they could have presented a legal defense for Barry.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Nathaniel Gets the Message!”

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.09 “Nathaniel Gets the Message!”

Before we discuss the plot of the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, congratulations are in order. This episode included the series’ 100th song—one hundred original songs. (You can find it above.) Incredible. I’m not sure how you can have that much creativity to write that many in such a short amount of time (after all, we’re only in the third season), but kudos to Rachel Bloom, Adam Schlesinger, and Jack Dolgen, who wrote all of these songs. It’s a big accomplishment. Congratulations!

Now on to the actual episode, which picks up right where we left off with Rebecca at Nathaniel’s door about to break up with him. We all knew where this scene was headed, but that didn’t take any of the oomph out of it. It was something that needed to happen, but it wasn’t something either of them wanted to happen. Nathaniel kept being supportive, and you could see how sad Rebecca was about it. It was a well-done scene, and you have to applaud Rebecca for taking this step for her own health.

Of course, that left her with nothing to do. She still has no job. And now with no relationship, she has a lot of time to kill (and smoking the marjoram just doesn’t do it). Dr. Shin recommends volunteering or giving back to others. Dismayed with how gross or hard actually giving back to the community would be (from “You know how I feel about soup” to “…and if I see one crusty stain, I won’t be able to eat for weeks”), she volunteers for Valencia in order to get her event planning business up and running.

From here, the episode gives us the cast of characters we met back in season one at the grocery store. Newly engaged produce manager Marty and bread manager Ally have a small budget to throw an engagement party—after all, they’re not bringing home much dough—and Valencia has been hired for the event. She decides to throw it at Home Base and give it a German theme. (I’m starting to wonder whether Valencia was behind the random baby shower that was at Home Base a few weeks ago, since that’s such an odd/cheap locale for any of these parties.)

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Nathaniel Needs My Help!”

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Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.08 “Nathaniel Needs My Help!”

So much happened on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend last fall that upon its return on Friday, I had no idea what would happen with Rebecca and crew. She finally has a diagnosis. She realizes that Josh is irrelevant. She knows that she has to be messy but also take steps to move forward with her BPD. What’s next for Rebecca?

It’s tempting to assume that we’d return this January with a brand-new version of Rebecca, and in some ways, a different show. After all, even the episode titles have changed: Josh is no longer in the title. Last episode it was Jeff, now Nathaniel. Everything is different, right?

Wrong. In this episode, we got Rebecca antics. Her actions around Nathaniel seem incredibly reminiscent of her time with Josh. Sneaking around and scheming to connect Nathaniel and his father is something that feels less like it’s for Nathaniel and more for her. It all just seems so…Rebecca.

And it’s tempting to roll your eyes and get frustrated. We’ve seen this all before! And when I was first watching, that was my first reaction. Why is she doing this all over again? But as you look more deeply, that’s what it’s really about. Just because Rebecca got a diagnosis and help through therapy and group therapy doesn’t mean she’s suddenly healed. It’s not that easy. She has patterns she needs to break. That’s what Rebecca is discovering—and we’re realizing as we watched the show.

As a viewer, I knew immediately that Rebecca’s plan would go sour. Anything that involves blackmailing your partner-in-crime with a potential future suicide attempt can never go well. And it was the same old Rebecca, reminiscent of actions from season one, season two. In this particular case, she has a more understanding man in her life, one who says he’ll forgive her after a mature discussion (a stark contrast with any discussion Rebecca has with Josh—we’ll get to that in a bit). Between that and Dr. Shin, Rebecca realizes she needs to change, even if that means having to do something she’s never done before: breaking up with Nathaniel. (Technically, we haven’t seen this yet, but it’s assumed by the end of the episode.)

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh Is Irrelevant

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.06 “Josh Is Irrelevant”

There’s a lot to say about this episode. Bear with me. It’ll be a long post.

After last week’s intense episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I wasn’t sure where we’d begin this episode — or where we’d go. Would we see the light, enthusiastic Rebecca we’ve known and loved? Or would that girl be gone, showing us only the sad, pained version we saw in the trailer, the one who couldn’t muster a laugh in the trailer? Or something else entirely?

If anything, this episode showed us that we’ve seen a changed Rebecca, starting with the girl in the hospital bed who is showing remorse for her suicide attempt. She heartbreakingly tells Dr. Akopian that she failed her and confides to Paula that she didn’t even want to die, she just wanted the pain to stop. And she keeps apologizing for all that she’s putting everyone through, inconveniencing the people in the plane, taking time that Paula should be spending with her family, and keeping her friends from work.

And then there was the scared side, the version of Rebecca that was afraid that going back home, as positive as Paula spins it, will just end up with her in the same spot again. What would change?

And that’s when something shifts. Dr. Shin (affectionally known to Paula as Dr. Damn) tells Rebecca that he thinks she’s been misdiagnosed all these years, that he has a new treatment and diagnosis for her. Suddenly, she’s filled with something new: hope.

This series has done a lot of things well, one of which is trying to bring attention to mental illness and remove the stigma around it. And the song that Rebecca sings after hearing that she finally has a real diagnosis is one of these moments that is so eye-opening to the struggles that individuals deal with and how much having someone understand, identify, and help can mean to someone. It helps them belong, helps them to better understand themselves, and finally gives them hope. I don’t normally include the videos from the show in my reviews, but this one impressed me so much, I have to share it.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “I Never Want to See Josh Again”

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Photo by Scott Everett White/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.05 “I Never Want to See Josh Again”

Hi friends, tonight’s #CrazyExGirlfriend is pretty emotionally intense. Just wanted to give everyone the head’s up.

That was a tweet shared by Rachel Bloom on Friday, in advance of the most recent episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I saw it. And I know how dark the show can get. And yet, I still wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see.

I’ve seen the episode twice now. After watching it live on Friday, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to watch it again. It was an incredibly tense episode, with each commercial break making me wonder when the next shoe was going to drop. I remember a mere 12 minutes in feeling like I was about to cry, as Naomi opened Rebecca’s laptop and discovered she was looking at “The Nine Least Painful Ways to Kill Yourself.” Her mother had been through a suicide attempt with Rebecca before. She had seen her erratic behavior with Robert. She heard Rebecca say she wanted to “go back to sleep forever” and noticed she hadn’t eaten in a few days. But even so, when she saw the link, her shocked and upset reaction — “I didn’t know” — was heartbreaking.

Then, something seemed to change. Naomi was supportive. She was getting Rebecca to eat, interacting with her, showing that she cared. I wanted to believe it. Something was still nagging at me, though. And in each commercial break, I was left ill at ease, waiting to see what happened next.

And we know: Naomi was drugging Rebecca without her knowledge so that she could get her well enough to discuss ways to help her. While she may have had the best of intentions, it failed for Rebecca, who saw that her last bit of hope — that at least her mother was there and cared for her — was a fraud. And she had no hope left.

I’ll be honest: I realized how Rebecca was spiraling, and yet, I didn’t think that they would actually have her try to commit suicide. Let alone show it. But there I sat in those final minutes, shocked and silently screaming, “No, Rebecca, no!” knowing there was nothing I could do to stop her. I feared the last we would see was her unconscious in her chair, with the flight attendant looking calmly on, unsure what would happen next.

I’m glad they didn’t. As Rebecca looked up at the “help” light as it blinked to read “hope,” I was so relieved to hear that ding of the passenger button. Rebecca held out the empty pill bottle and said, “I need help.” It was emotionally intense, certainly. And it took me a long time to process all of that.

That was the first time I watched it. On the edge, nervous, ill at ease, and shocked.

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Why You (Probably) Should Be Watching “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World”

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Photo by ABC

When I hear the phrase “feel-good” in relation to a TV show or movie, I tend to roll my eyes. It usually means that it’s family-oriented, overly cheesy, with a lot of slapstick humor — and it’s usually about the holidays. Think a tree falling over while a dog runs through some guy in a ridiculous sweater’s legs, while he responds with a stereotypical shocked expression and bulging eyes, all while you expect an eight-year-old to laugh at the screen. It’s not my cup of tea.

All this to say, when I hear “feel-good” in association with a TV show or movie, I don’t take it seriously. In fact, I normally skip it.

Now hear this: Kevin (Probably) Saves the World is the feel-good TV show that our times need right now. It’s not anything that I described above. And you should watch it.

Cheesy? No. Slapstick? Maybe a little. But stereotypical? Absolutely not. The show take a creative spin on a redemption story — a point I’ll expand on in a bit. Down-on-his-luck Kevin returns home to live with his sister after leaving his New York life and job behind. But just as he’s settling in, a meteor hits, and spiritual guide (not quite an angel) Yvette tells him that he’s one of 36 “righteous” in his generation, and he has to find the other 35 to save the world. But first, he needs to learn to do good.

A somewhat unorthodox premise. But one thing caught my eye: Jason Ritter. I’ve been a fan of Jason Ritter ever since I watched Joan of Arcadia. And these shows align in similar ways. Here, Kevin getting signs about things he can do to help people, much like Joan herself did back in the day — with the slight caveat that the spiritual aspect behind it is quite a bit different. Jason Ritter is a delight to watch on the show, balancing comedic moments with earnestness, even in his lowest moments.

Which brings me back to the idea of redemption. The aspect of a redemption story is nothing new. I’m not talking about the Angel type of redemption, but shows where they show a self-centered jerk trying to fix their lives. Think My Name Is Earl or Samantha Who? But what distinguishes this show from the others is that Kevin isn’t just some self-absorbed jackass. He’s not throwing money around or hurting others for his own good. With the exception of one short clip of Kevin when he used to work in the finance industry, it’s almost impossible to ever think he’s materialistic. Instead, his self-centeredness is focused on the fact that he just simply doesn’t think beyond his own issues. He doesn’t actively think of others. We discover that after his brother-in-law died, he doesn’’t do much to comfort his sister or niece. And more so, what eventually brings him back home is an attempted suicide. Kevin is simply unhappy and trying to move on with his life.

But Yvette is here to change all that — which involves some entertaining hijinks. Kevin ends up following signs (sometimes ridiculous ones, like when he was unable to leave a bar because every door returned him to another part of the building) to see where he can help. Of course, Kevin being Kevin, it never goes as smoothly as he hopes — especially when he gets one of his visions, like when an elevator full of water soaks him, masked men are standing over him, or he’s suddenly chased by a tiger when he was previously in the bathroom. While it’s all fun to watch, trying to understand how these visions fit together so he can find the other 35 righteous people becomes a little puzzle over the course of the series.

And in case you think Kevin is the only part of the show worth watching (though, quite frankly, he is the strongest part), the show has a great cast of recognizable supporting players, including JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, J. August Richards, and India de Beaufort. Swisher, who plays Kevin’s sister, struggles with worrying about Kevin and raising her teenage daughter (played by Chloe East). Gregory plays Yvette, who along with making sure Kevin is protected has to deal with her own understanding of human emotion, the longer she’s on Earth. And there are, of course, friends in Richards and de Beaufort’s characters, who are just trying to get along with their lives now that Kevin is back in them.

But what I enjoy most about Kevin (Probably) Saves the World is the feeling you’re left with after watching an episode. You’re left uplifted, realizing the little things you can do to put goodness back into the world. Sure, Kevin still has his troubles; he’s brought a lot of baggage with him when he moved to town, and his strange behavior isn’t helping. But it’s a fun way to escape into a Tuesday night, knowing you’re going to laugh and be entertained for a full hour.

It really is feel-good.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend is Crazy

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Photo by Robert Voets/The CW

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.04 “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend is Crazy”

It’s been years since I’ve seen Swimfan. But now I want to watch it again.

Friday night’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was years in the making. Seriously, creators Rachel Bloom (who, of course, also plays our leading lady Rebecca Bunch) and Aline Brosh McKenna admitted that they had been looking forward to writing this episode for years. I’d heard only complimentary things about it before it aired, so it had pretty high expectations to meet. And it met them.

We start right where we left off, with Paula, Heather, Darryl, and Velncia confronting Rebecca in “a convention” (not an intervention) as she was trying to run off with Nathaniel. While they appear to only want to help Rebecca and suggest getting her help, Rebecca responds exceptionally badly to their efforts. She immediately turns against each of them, drawing on their worst insecurities to insult them. It was an extremely painful scene to watch. We know how much each of these individuals mean to Rebecca — especially Paula — and you could even see how much it hurt her to say them as brief expressions of remorse and pain would pass over her face after each vitriolic comment. But her insults were even more upsetting for everyone in the room — and for viewers.

I was happy to see that her actions didn’t change her friends’ feelings toward her. Sure, Valencia was pissed and ready to “yank her pony,” but she was still out searching for her afterward. Even Nathaniel was staying at her house, waiting for her, and calling the police after discovering the truth. Despite his claims of knowing her best after sleeping with her twice (which shows how few real relationships Nathaniel has had in his life, friends or otherwise), I had thought Nathaniel was the most likely person to ditch Rebecca after finding out the truth, but by the end of the episode, he was still in her room, cuddling her crocodile, waiting.

Unfortunately, Rebecca doesn’t see this love and instead feels she’s pushed all her friends away. So instead of returning home, she’s hiding out at a local youth hostel, where she befriends an Erika Christensen-loving (who doesn’t love Erika Christensen?) Danish tourist named Jarl. And through their shared love of Swimfan, Rebecca knows her next move.

Swimchan.

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