Thursday, November 27, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Buffy - Becoming Part II and Supernatural - WIaWSNB

Throwback Thursday, a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from over the years.

When I first decided to participate in Throwback Thursday, I chose Buffy's Becoming Part 2 largely because it is my favorite episode but also because I had already posted a review of Supernatural's What Is and What Should Never Be. The more I thought about it though, the more I saw similarities in these two. Therefore this is more review than my usual recap. If you are interested in those, you can find the Buffy - Becoming Part II recap here and the Supernatural - WIaWSNB review here. Instead this is my love letter to 2 episodes I will never forget. In many ways they are direct opposites. Buffy's is a mytharc heavy season finale, while SPN's is a standalone episode that takes a break from the heavy mytharc that follows. Buffy pulls at me from a great well of sadness but SPN gives me a rare moment of joy in a bleak world. Buffy is grounded in oppressive reality while SPN takes a playful what-if tone. Still, at the core they are fundamentally the same. Two reluctant heroes sacrifice of themselves to save a world that never really appreciates them. They turn their back on their dreams and step up to make the hard choices that all true heroes have to make. It also helps that they focus on two of my favorite characters. Buffy is the role model of what teen characters should be while Dean Winchester is my favorite TV character of all time.

Often people are shocked to find that these 2 are my favorite TV episodes. I'm known as a plot-driven, adrenaline-loving TV viewer with little patience for the emoangst of contrived or unearned drama and a staunch anti-shipping attitude. So Becoming Part 2 and What Is a What Should Never Be don't fit my normal pattern. In fact, it is what I typically dislike most in today's TV that drives my devotion to these two. I will readily admit that they may not be the most tightly constructed episodes ever aired and they may not have the crispest dialogue in parts, but both did something much harder in the entertainment world. They yanked tightly on my cynical heartstrings and would not let go. I watch TV to be entertained and both Buffy and Supernatural excelled at that for awhile. Still I will never forget the first time I watched these two episodes in particular because I was emotionally spent afterwards, exhausted in the bliss of knowing I had just gone through 42 minutes of intense, cathartic adventure with these characters and none of us were going to view the world in quite the same way again. Simply put, both of these episodes earn their drama through the slow buildup of their characters and it makes for compelling TV.

The Synopsis: (includes spoilers and the ending)

Buffy - Buffy is a vampire slayer. Angel is a vampire with a soul. They slept together so Angel lost his soul and reverted back to Angelus, a vampire bent on destroying the world. He finds the demon Acathla and tries to awaken him to literally suck the world into hell. He kidnaps Giles, Buffy's mentor, to help him do that and Kendra, another slayer, is killed during the fight. The police find Buffy kneeling over Kendra's body and now she's on the run, wanted as a murder suspect. She allies with Spike, a long-time enemy, to take Angelus down and inadvertently her mom sees them kill a vampire, ending her secret identity. Her mom doesn't take the news well and Buffy ends up kicked out. The principal also expels her after she returns to the crime scene to get the sword that can kill Angelus. Let's just say her day sucks. Learning that only Angel's blood can open and close Acathla, she goes to fight him unaware that her best friend, Willow, is preparing a spell to get Angel's soul back - mostly because Xander, her other best friend, doesn't tell her. Xander rescues Giles, Spike flees with Drusilla, and Buffy and Angelus begin an epic sword fight in one of the best action sequences of the show. Just when it looks like Angelus has beaten her, Buffy summons her inner strength and the battle ensues. She takes Angelus down and is about to strike him when Willow's spell works. Angel is back, confused but concerned as always about Buffy. They hug but as Buffy opens her eyes, she sees that Acathla has awakened and is creating a vortex to suck in the world. She realizes that to save the world, she must kill the man she loves. Telling him to close his eyes, Buffy stabs him in the chest and as he is being sucked into the closing vortex he holds out his hand to her, calling his name. She breaks down as he disappears. Having lost her love, school, and home in one day, she decides to leave Sunnydale and the life she made there.

Supernatural - In Illinois, Sam researches a djinn while Dean tracks it to an abandoned warehouse, where it blue lights him. He wakes in an alternate reality where he lives with a woman named Carmen, his mom and Jessica never died, and Sam and he don't get along. At first Dean thinks his unspoken wish was granted and he experiences the kind of life he'd have lead if demons never attacked his family. It's the second chance he's been secretly hoping for since he was a kid. Dean has never been so happy nor has Supernatural been so light, almost painfully bright. Things are not perfect, especially with Sam, but he believes he can fix that. And then the other shoe drops. First Dean sees visions of a girl obviously dying. Then he realizes that by not becoming a hunter, all the people they saved over the years died. He's stuck between staying in the life where Sam and he can be happy or killing the djinn so things return to normal. In a pinnacle scene, Dean stands at John's tombstone asking why they always have to sacrifice themselves for others. Still, he's a Winchester and Winchesters sacrifice so he heads home to find a silver knife. Awakening Sam, in a play straight out of the pilot, Dean says he's stealing Mary's silverware to pay off a bookie and asks Sam to tell her that he loves her. A suspicious Sam gets into the Impala and refuses to let Dean do anything stupid alone. Dean's impressed and the brothers drive off until Sam finds out why and thinks Dean is crazy. Dean throws his phone out the window and they drive to Illinois where Sam learns the truth. In a big twist, Dean does as well. This fantasy world is all in his head. He's slowly dying in the warehouse instead. While fake Sam, Jessica, Carmen, and Mary try to convince him to stay anyway, Dean ultimately stabs himself awake. Real Sam finds him and they kill the djinn together before rescuing the girl Dean saw. In the motel later, Dean laments their lives but Sam says what they do is important and cements their brotherly bond.

The Characters:

To be honest, Buffy and Sam Winchester are more alike than Dean. They both want a normal life, but circumstances have forced them into the supernatural world. They both have supernatural gifts as well. However, as the gravesite scene here shows, Dean is less and less okay with hunting. Ever since his dad told him that he may have to kill Sam, Dean has questioned the life they live. He's not reluctant to kill evil but he is reluctant to have evil play out in his brother's life. He will protect Sam at all costs. All three have a penchant for saving the world…a lot, even if it comes at a high personal price, even if it demands the ultimate price. Let's face it. They've all died a lot too.

Still they are not alone. Dean and Sam have each other, forming the foundation of the whole series. While they occasionally get help from Bobby, Ellen, Ash, and Jo, it is for all intents and purposes them against the world. In this episode, Dean is largely on his own given that he is stuck in his own headspace. One of my favorite moments though is when Hallucination Sam refuses to let Dean go on his own just like Real Sam. It's a nice nod to the fact that (up to this point) the brothers may not always agree but they do always have each other's backs. It also shows at Real Sam's relief to finally find Dean in the djinn's lair and his worry when he doesn't know if Dean's alive. The Winchesters may not have much but they do have each other.

Buffy has the Scooby Gang. I love that while she is the Chosen One, she's not some Boy King character where only she can rescue and save. In fact, she wouldn't be alive without the help of her family and friends. It makes the role much richer and the character less annoying. It also makes her vulnerable. In the previous episode, Angelus knows her weakness and lures her away from her friends so that he can get Giles. Bad move. Attacking Xander, rendering Willow unconscious, taking Giles, and killing Kendra is the push Buffy needs to end things once and for all. Buffy may be the slayer but the Scooby Gang is her motivation. This episode also focuses heavily on her relationship with her mother. Joyce, having been in the dark for years, now refuses to accept her daughter's destiny and it tears the two of them apart. This, in turn, makes it easier for Buffy to walk out of her own life.

The Sacrifice:

In Buffy, the sacrifice is evident. With the exception of her friends, Buffy has lost everything dear to her because of slaying. She lost her popularity and possibly her father with the stress that came in learning she was the slayer. She lost her innocence of evil and her carefree, somewhat spoiled, lifestyle as well. She even lost her life. In Becoming Part 2, what she loses most is her hope and willingness to keep going. Life has finally beaten her down and she wants to disappear. Slaying only takes and takes. One by one the things she still has in her life are stripped away. She's wanted by the police for murder, expelled from school, and her own mother tells her not to come back. She thinks nothing more can be taken from her but fate is cruel as she is forced to kill the man she loves. It would be bad enough to lose him through a villain or accident, but to have to do it herself is the biggest sacrifice of all. In that sword thrust, Angel may have gone to hell but Buffy also lost herself.

People tend to debate Dean's sacrifice in WiaWSNB, but for me it is a very real choice - one that comes into play in the very next episode. Yes, this world in which his mother never died is a fantasy and yes, staying would cause Dean himself to die in the real world. However, they clearly state that it would feel like an lifetime to Dean, a full life, maybe with kids, lived out in its entirety in his mind. He glimpses what joy feels like, not just for him but for the people he loves more than himself. To give it up means not seeing Sammy marry. To give it up means never getting to know his mother. In a very real sense, Dean experiences life outside of hunting for the first time and the chance to have that normal life Sam always craved. By giving it up for the real world full of death, uncertainty, sorrow and their father's threat hanging over him, Dean sacrifices a bit of himself. It's the part full of hope for a future instead of dying at the hands of evil. It's the part he ruthlessly shoves down through alcohol, sex, and violence - the part he rarely lets anyone see.

The Emotional Pull:

Buffy - Obviously the biggest emotional moment was Buffy killing Angel, but it wasn't the only one. Second in intensity was the conflict between Buffy and Joyce. For Joyce, it's the shock of realizing her daughter has a secret identity she didn't know or didn’t want to know about. She has to face the truth of supernatural creatures in the same moment she learns her daughter has been fighting them all along. When Buffy mentions how dangerous her job is, it is the final straw for Joyce. No one wants their child in harm's way and when Buffy starts to leave, Joyce utters an ultimatum very uncharacteristic of her and it ends up driving her daughter away at the exact time she needs Joyce the most. For Buffy, she finally tells her mom her big secret and her worst nightmare comes true. She feels like Joyce is rejecting her and it causes her to lash out harshly with certain truths instead of finding a more tactful way. It's the culminating moment of all her frustrations and anger at the life she's been forced into and it can't come at a worse time. On a happier note, Xander also gets a key scene at Willow's bedside. His pleas for her to wake up because without her he has no one to study with or talk about the day's events with were heartfelt and compelling. In truth, I like this speech a whole lot better than the broken yellow crayon one he gave to Dark Willow. Over the years it felt like Xander's friendship with Willow got shafted for her one with Buffy so this scene always holds a special place in my heart. Lastly, Giles scores a heartfelt moment with a Jenny hallucination. More and more I feel that killing Jenny off was a mistake, especially since there was no closure. It felt like they reconciled Giles and her just to make her death more of a punch, but she had so many things to add to the story in her own right. Therefore, the look on Giles' face when he sees her is heartbreaking not just from his standpoint but from mine too. I missed you, Jenny Calendar.

Supernatural - The big emotional scene of WIaWSNB is also the scene I like least. Dean emoangsting over John's grave only makes me want to Gibbs' slap his dad even more. Good thing there are plenty of subtle and tender moments to choose from. For me, the single best emotional moment is when Mary cups Dean's face to tell him goodnight and he leans into her touch just a heartbeat more. The sheer longing on his face, the number of times he must have dreamt of this, breaks my heart. In 3 minutes he goes from a kick butt warrior to the 4 year old whose mother cut the crusts off his bread and sang him Hey Jude when he went to bed. There's a vulnerability shining on his face that the guarded man of tragedy rarely lets show. It's also there when Mary first opens the door. He wants to believe that his wish came true, yearns for it, but at the same time his past experiences won't let him believe anything that good could happen to him. It's not until he verifies she is Mary that he can relax enough to hug his own mom. Even a hardhearted cynic like myself can't help but want this for him too. Sam comes through in a big way also. When Dean sees the girl and frantically tells her that he's got her, Sam realizes this ordeal went well past normal case issues for Dean. Later in the motel room, he soft voices Dean and reassures him that what they do is important and that they matter. Again Dean is vulnerable and watching Sam take care of Dean in this way drives home how much they mean to each other. It's Sam taking care of Dean the best way he knows how and it's beautiful, even if Dean's "woe is me" attitude becomes tainted by future seasons.

The Quotes:

Buffy -
1. Spike: "The truth is I like this world. You've got dog racing, Manchester United, and you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's alright here."
2. Angelus: "So that's everything, huh? No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away and what's left?" Buffy: "Me."
3. Angelus: "Since when did you become so levelheaded?" Spike: "Right about the time you became so pigheaded. You have your way with him, you'll never get to destroy the world and I don't fancy spending the next month trying to get librarian out of the carpet."
4. Buffy: "Open your eyes mom. What do you think has been going on for the past 2 years? The fights, the weird occurrences. How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing and you still haven't figured it out?" Joyce: "Well it stops now." Buffy: "No, it doesn't stop. It never stops. Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or God, even studying, but I have to save the world. Again."
5. Buffy: "Let me clear this up for you. We're mortal enemies. We don't get timeouts." Spike: "You want to go a round, pet, I'll have a gay old time of it. You want to stop Angel, we're going to have to play this a bit differently."

Supernatural -
1. Dean: "This is dangerous and you could get hurt." Sam: "Yeah and so could you, Dean." Dean: "Sam…" Sam: "Look whatever stupid thing you're about to do, you're not doing it alone and that's that." Dean: "I don't understand. Why are you doing this?" Sam: "Because you're still my brother."
2. Dean: "Well…uh, the djinn. It attacked me." Sam: "The gin? You're drinking gin?"
3. Dean: "B**." Sam: "What are you calling me a b** for?" Dean: "You're supposed to say jerk."
4. Dean: "Aww Aunty Em, there's no place like home." Sam: "Thank God. I thought I lost you for a second." Dean: "You almost did."
5. Dean: "This isn't gonna make a lick of sense to you, but I kind of feel like I've been given a second chance and I don't want to waste it."

The Music:

In both episodes, music played a vital part in key scenes. In fact, it helped make these scenes as powerful as they are.

1. Close Your Eyes (Buffy/Angel theme) was written by Christophe Beck, who also composed for Frozen and another zillion other shows and movies. It is one of my favorite pieces of instrumental music and perfect for the scene where Angel is restored and Buffy has to kill him. The bittersweet mood is captured in the slow, almost dirge-like pace and undertones and yet there are moments of beauty and light that run throughout. It's the musical equivalent of nostalgia before the dramatic swell and fadeout. Just stunning. Check it out here.

2. What a Wonderful World by the Ramones. This is such a good song-to-scene choice. Dean relishes doing the simple things like mowing the lawn and eating a sandwich his mom made him, things he has been deprived of his whole life. The tone and lighting are brighter than any in Supernatural's history so a rocking feel good song is just what's needed to sell the scene. Again perfection.

3. Full of Grace by Sarah MacLachlan. If ever there was a song that encompasses the weight of the world and desperation, this one does. And it does so beautifully. The lyrics fit exactly how Buffy feels at the end, pulled under by darkness and needing to let go of it all in order to find some solid ground.

Other Notes:

Becoming Part 2 jumpstarts many future storylines. It, of course, introduces the Mayor as the Big Bad of season 3. More importantly, it kick starts Willow as a full-fledged witch with extraordinary powers. While I wasn't a fan of dumping her computer nerd status, it did change her whole character and became a major part of the show. Spike's betrayal has similar consequences including the disastrous decision to make him a good guy. He was the most fun, snarky villain of all until they had to go and redeem him. Killing off Kendra also allows for the introduction of Faith, a strong fan favorite. Sadly this episode also foreshadowed Xander and Willow getting together briefly and all the emoangsting that followed.

The djinn in WIaWSNB may be the coolest looking villain ever. I love all its tattoos and the blue hand glow rocked. Plus a villain that kills you by giving you exactly what you want has a more diabolical turn than most. This is also the episode where the Impala license plate changes to CNK 80Q3, and yes, in the Supernatural fandom that means something. :-P Plus this is the second time we see Dean not wearing the amulet. The first is when the shapeshifter stole it in Skin. It's also the third time we see Mary after the Pilot and Home and the third time we see Jessica after the Pilot and Bloody Mary. Both women, though dead, will come back periodically throughout the first 6 seasons.

Final Thoughts:

Buffy - Season two of Buffy is one of my favorite TV seasons of all time. There are 1 or 2 duds, but overall the whole season was fantastic and having Angelus as the Big Bad was inspired. It made things personal and rocked Buffy to her core. Then to end it like this. I have never felt such loss for a TV character in my life and it is this powerful acting scene that makes Becoming II my favorite episode of TV. The sheer desolation is a physical force that still moves me even though I know how it ends. I will never forget how visceral this episode was when I first watched. It's the first time TV ever truly moved me, although it wasn't the last, and as such it is seared into my memory. Yes, some things don't stand the test of time and quite frankly I don't think it would be as powerful to anyone who didn't see it in the 90's. Nowadays every supernatural show has sympathetic "monsters" and there is far too much supernatural romance tragedy on for this to make much of a punch. But back then, it was a new thought first made popular by Anne Rice and perfected in the Buffy and Angel saga. Still the episode goes well beyond a supernatural romance. By systematically stripping Buffy down throughout these episodes, by taking away her school and mom and even her hope, they leave her with nothing but herself to cling to and when she tells Angelus that she still has herself left, it is an enormous stand for girl power. One that I still applaud today. There may be tons of teenage female heroes now but Buffy really began that on TV, leaving a legacy for some of my favorite characters to come. I saw her in Veronica Mars. I see her in Clarke on The 100. I see her in Katniss of The Hunger Games. I even see her in Harry Potter. In fact, I see shades of Buffy everywhere and for that I am grateful. Buffy changed the TV landscape more than I realized at the time and gave us a girl we could believe in that helped us believe in ourselves. She didn't just kick butt. She could be powerful and vulnerable. She could, when necessary, take down evil on her own, but she also needed her friends to help ground her and make that fight worthwhile. She sacrificed nobly but that sacrifice took its toll on her and in the end, her sorrow became ours. That's what makes this episode so powerful.

Supernatural - Like Buffy, the second season is my favorite of Supernatural. It intensifies the mytharc, has some great standalones, and most importantly it stays about the brothers before the story got too big, too epic, and too filled with other characters. It also encompasses a nostalgic time for me as a viewer before the fandom took over. Still What Is and What Should Never Be is light on the action I crave. So why do I love best an admittedly emotional and sometimes emoangsty episode when I typically prefer to avoid those? I guess the short answer is because it's the one episode in which the Winchesters are happy. In a season of wild emotional rides, the writers finally give the brothers a free pass to feel joy for a moment and with that they give us, the fans, a pass to be happy with them. It may not have been real. It may have come with consequences, but they enjoyed life without worrying about something killing them. They felt hope for the future and a life beyond their reality. For me, it was a needed break before the incredibly depressing saga of Sam's first death. While I love the humor of Supernatural, it is usually gallows humor. Something to get through the depression and the fear and the loneliness. It makes me laugh, but I don't feel better about their lives. This episode is my respite and instead of getting tired of an episode I have watched more times than I can count, it actually grows more powerful the longer Supernatural is on the air. It got me through the emoangsting of season 4, the angel overload of season 5, the ever annoying Cas saga of season 6, the Amy issues and lack of Baby in season 7, and has been my solid rock in the Carver years. Whenever contrived drama and yet another round of brother fighting gets me down, I turn to this episode and it restores my faith in the Winchesters. It's my ultimate TV comfort food and I will forever be grateful to Raelle Tucker for penning it.

Screencaps by A Hell of a Woman, Buffy Wikia, Fanpop, Jet Wolf, Angelfire, Carlos Nightman, Fan Forum, Moley 75, Deviant Art, Media Cache, Pinterest, TV Tropes, Supernatural TV,  SPN Jensen LoveTumblr, and me.

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts the Sleepy Hollow "Headless" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
Recent Reviews by Dahne (All Reviews)

Buffy - 2.22 - Becoming Part 2 - Recap / Review and Episode Awards

Previously….hey, wait a minute. There are no previouslies and this is a 2-parter. That's freaking awesome. No recapitations either? Wow, they must have trusted that the audience wasn't brain dead in the 90's. Nowadays they recap stuff that happened 10 minutes ago. However since this episode aired over 15 years ago and you might not remember, let me recap for you. Angel is a vampire cursed by gypsies with a soul (way before every vampire became a soft, cuddly, sparkly boyfriend of the night). Buffy is a vampire slayer. They screwed and in that one moment of happiness, Angel lost his soul and reverted back to Angelus, your typical vampire bent on world destruction and emotional torture. It was a brilliant twist on the typical "I slept with the guy and now he's a douche" trope. Angelus spends the next few episodes torturing Buffy, stalking her friends, and killing a fan favorite character when she found a way to restore his soul. Willow, computer geek and burgeoning witch, tries to do the spell herself but Angel sends his minions to grab Giles, demon expert and Buffy's mentor, and she gets knocked out. Xander, another part of the Scooby Gang, is taken down as well and Kendra, another slayer, is killed. Buffy realizes Angelus lured her out in order to get to her friends so she runs in only to find Kendra's dead body. Oh and Angelus is trying to literally suck the world into hell through a demon called Acathla. There, now you're all caught up. Enjoy the ride!

As Buffy checks on Kendra's dead body, 2 police officers appear to take her in for questioning. Buffy protests her innocence and tries to get to an unconscious Xander, but Principal Snyder tells them she's a troublemaker. Snyder: "If there's trouble, she's behind it." Buffy: "You stupid, little troll. You have no idea." Sadly that's not true. The officer goes to cuff Buffy but she punches him and takes off running as the other officer shoots at her. In the school. Hmm. Undercover in a totally non-suspicious ski cap, Buffy heads to the hospital to check on her friends where she runs into Xander. He exposits his injuries and Willow's before hugging Buffy to keep the cops from noticing her. Buffy: "Okay that was about equal parts protecting me and copping a feel, right?" Nope, Xander isn't flirting because Willow is still unconscious. Cordelia, Xander's girlfriend/ex-mean girl/part of the Scooby team, joins them. Cordelia: "I ran. I think I made it through 3 counties before I realized nobody was chasing me. Not too brave." Buffy: "It was the right thing to do." They finally realize that Giles is missing, which only means one thing - bad Angelus villain dialogue. Seriously. Giles wakes up to hear this, "I want to torture you. I used to love it but it's been a long time. I mean the last time I tortured somebody we didn't even have chainsaws." That dialogue is torture enough, trust me. Angelus took Giles because he thinks he might know how to wake up Acathla, but Giles isn't feeling chatty. I'd talk just to shut Angelus up.

Joyce, on the other hand, wishes the police would shut up as they tell her Buffy is a murder suspect. I have no idea why since Xander would have surely told them Buffy had nothing to do with it. Did they not question him when he came to? The Sunnydale police are not exactly competent. They do snark as they leave though. At Giles' home Buffy encounters Whistler, the demon that inspired Angel to get into the good fight in the previous episode's flashbacks. He snarks too. Generally Buffy and I like that in a person, but not so much here. Buffy: "I have had a really bad day, okay? If you have information worth hearing, then I am grateful for it. If you're going to crack jokes, then I am going to pull out your rib cage and wear it as a hat." Like all supernaturals, Whistler talks in riddles but the bottom line is that he figured Angel would be saving the world from Acathla instead of Angelus starting the apocalypse. He blames Buffy. I think the mystical realm needs a better soothsayer. He asks what Buffy is prepared to do but she's out of patience. "Well why don't you try getting off your immortal a** and fighting evil once and awhile because I'm sick and tired of doing it myself." Amen! Whistler spouts some "in the end you're always alone" nonsense and she storms out.

Just in time to get busted by a cop until…..enter Spike, one of the best villains of any TV show (until season 4 when they completely ruined him by turning him into a good guy.) Buffy is astonished to see him, given everyone thought he was wheelchair bound but he's got a bigger shocker. As Buffy attacks, Spike raises the white flag. Buffy: "Let me clear this up for you. We're mortal enemies. We don't get timeouts." Spike: "You want to go a round, pet, I'll have a gay old time of it. You want to stop Angel, we're going to have to play this a bit differently." Buffy is naturally skeptical, but Spike wants Angel "in the bloody ground" and is willing to make odd alliances to insure it happens. Spike offers info on Giles in good faith and explains that vampires are just big windbags. "We like to talk big, vampires do. 'I'm going to destroy the world.' It's just tough guy talk. Strutting around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is I like this world. You've got dog racing, Manchester United, and you've got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It's alright here." Happy Meals, ha! Best line of the night! Spike is worried Angel might just end the world. Well that and he wants his girlfriend all to himself again. Buffy and I eye roll together. Buffy: "You're pathetic." Yep, especially after season 3. "The whole earth may be sucked into hell and you want my help because your girlfriend's a big ho? Well let me take this opportunity to not care." You tell him! Spike points out the logistical problems of working alone and in the end, commonsense prevails. Kind of. Partnering with your mortal enemy has a lot of drawbacks. Buffy: "I hate you." Spike: "And I'm all you've got." So sad and yet so true. Spike wants to finish off the policeman but Buffy's not down with that so they head to Buffy's.

We however head to the hospital where Willow is still unconscious. Cordelia goes to get Xander coffee, about as big a character development in a small moment as you can get. As the sad piano plinks, Xander pleads for Willow to wake up. He needs her. Xander: "Look, you don't have a choice here. You've got to wake up. I need you Will. I mean how am I going to pass trig, you know? And who am I going to call every night and talk about everything we did all day? You're my best friend. You've always…I love you." Willow starts to wake and calls out for Oz, who comes in right then. Willow: "My head feels big. Is it big?" Oz: "No, it's head sized." Awww, I like how these two can sell those lines as hokey as these. Willow is going to be fine, hurrah. Giles not so much. A bound and bleeding Giles has to listen to Angelus congratulating him on holding out so long. I'm not exactly sure how Angelus is torturing him because he doesn't look any the worse for wear than all the other times he's been kidnapped by evil. In fact, he's a sight better except his hand, yet there's pain in his voice as he stays resolute at not helping the vampire at all. Meanwhile, a worried Joyce, Buffy, and Spike all end up at her house together and Joyce freaks out over the events of last episode. Spike is more amazed that Joyce doesn't know Buffy's a vampire slayer. Believe me, we all were buddy. Buffy lies again and says that Spike and she are in a band. Spike: "Yeah, she's hell on the old skins, eh." They head inside but are attacked by a vampire. Spike and Buffy take him out and poof. He turns to ash right before Joyce's eyes. "Buffy, what is going on?" Buffy: "Mom, I'm a vampire slayer." As Joyce looks on incredulously, two words pop into my mind. About. Time. It's one of my favorite things about this episode because the secret was stalling Joyce's character and stretched believability.

As Willow assures Buffy that her brain is not mushed and Buffy accepts that Angel is never coming back, Joyce and Spike sit in awkward silence in the living room. Joyce realizes that she has met Spike before in School Hard, where she whacked him with an axe because he attacked Buffy. Ha! Good times. Buffy wraps up the call by telling Xander where Angelus has Giles. Xander: "Do you think Giles is still alive?" Buffy: "I think he is. I just wish he was here to tell me what to do." She heads back to the living room and says no deal on letting Drusilla walk, but Spike insists. Buffy says she killed Kendra and Spike is elated for her. Probably not the best idea when the other slayer is right there. Spike: "Hey good for her. Though not from your perspective I suppose." BWAAHHH!!! This is how I love Spike. Snarky, fun, and plain evil. Joyce however is baffled on why Buffy wants to kill her boyfriend. She's also relieved that Buffy didn't kill Kendra, which offends Buffy that her mom ever thought she did. In all fairness, Buffy has killed a lot of monsters that looked like people so it's a fair observation. Spike has business to settle about Dru, but Joyce keeps interrupting with questions that will not wait any longer. "Honey, are you sure you're a vampire slayer? I mean…have you tried not being a slayer?" Ha! I love that line too. Spike tells Buffy that he'll help her and then take Dru away. Spike: "You'll never hear from us again I bloody well hope." Buffy agrees but on one condition. "If Giles dies, she dies." Spike heads back to Angelus to make sure that doesn't happen.

That leaves Buffy alone with a freaked out Joyce. "It's because you didn't have a strong father figure, isn't it?" Ha! The go-to blame for all America's problems in the 80's and 90's. Not this time. Buffy: "It's just fate, mom. I'm the slayer. Accept it." Joyce wants to call the police but Buffy explains that all it will do is get them killed. Joyce: "Well you're not going to hurt them, are you?" Buffy: "I'm a slayer, not a postal worker." That line really was funny back in the 90's. Buffy hangs up the phone because police as a rule are not equipped to handle vampires, she is. She tries to walk away with a snide comment but Joyce is having none of it. She wants answers. NOW! Joyce: "I am your mother and you will make time to explain yourself." Buffy: "I told you I'm a vampire slayer." Joyce: "Well I just don't accept that." Buffy: "Open your eyes mom. What do you think has been going on for the past 2 years? The fights, the weird occurrences. How many times have you washed blood out of my clothing and you still haven't figured it out?" Joyce: "Well it stops now." Buffy: "No, it doesn't stop. It never stops. Do you think I chose to be like this? Do you have any idea how lonely it is, how dangerous? I would love to be upstairs watching TV or gossiping about boys or God, even studying, but I have to save the world. Again." Joyce tries to stop Buffy from leaving and so Buffy shoves her away. Joyce: "If you walk out of this house, don't even think about coming back." Buffy just stares at her before walking out, leaving the door wide open. When this episode first aired, a lot of people hated Joyce in this scene and to tell your daughter that she can't come back home is hard to justify even in the heat of the moment. However, in all fairness, she doesn't know what's happening and she's freaked out. If my daughter just told me she was a superhero and about to go into a dangerous situation alone, I would be resistant to the idea too. Buffy needed to give her a short synopsis of events before going off to save the world instead of lashing out at her mom in her anger. Does Buffy have the right to be angry over her fate? Yes, absolutely. But that doesn't mean she can expect Joyce to be on board with things mere minutes after realizing she's been lied to for years.

Things are only slightly less tense at the hospital when Willow decides to try the curse again after they were rudely interrupted last time. Xander points out that she'd being dealing with powerful magic when she isn't well. Cordelia points out Willow's flat hair. Ha! Oh, Cordy. Oz is just confused. Oz: "Okay, I pretty much missed out some stuff, didn't I? Because this is all making the kind of sense that's not." I love Oz, but did no one fill him in on why Willow is in the hospital? Hmm. Willow is resolved because if they can convert Angelus back to Angel, no one will have to save the world again. Angel will destroy Acathla instead of awaken him. That makes sense to me even if Xander still doesn't like it. She sends Oz and Cordy to get her stuff and Xander to Buffy in hopes of stalling Angel, who keeps torturing Giles. Maybe. Still doesn't look like it. Angelus: "Just tell me what I need to know." Giles: "In order to be worthy you must perform the ritual in a tutu, pillock." I laugh; Angelus does not. He wants to use chainsaws but Spike reminds him that a dead watcher tells no tales. Angelus: "Since when did you become so levelheaded?" Spike: "Right about the time you became so pigheaded. You have your way with him, you'll never get to destroy the world and I don't fancy spending the next month trying to get librarian out of the carpet." Ha! Angelus asks what he plans and Spike brings out the big guns. "Drusilla sweetheart, do you want to play a game?" Uh oh. That is never good. Meanwhile Buffy heads back to the school to get the sword to kill Angelus when Snyder shows up too. Snyder: "You do know this is a crime scene, don't you? But then you're a criminal so that pretty much works out." Buffy reminds him that she's innocent and the police will figure it out. Snyder counters, "In case you haven't noticed, the police at Sunnydale are deeply stupid." Sadly, he's right. Besides he's come to gloat. "These are the moments you want to savor. You wish time would stop so that you can live them over and over again. You're expelled." Buffy pulls out the sword. "You never ever got a single date in high school, did you?" She walks out while Snyder calls the Mayor about her.

While Principal Snyder subtly introduces us to next season's Big Bad, Drusilla tries the honey approach to get answers from Giles. She sympathizes and uses her psychic power to not only read his mind but put him in a trance of sorts. Then she makes him see Jenny. So good to have her back, even if she's a hallucination. She presses about the ritual and he spills everything. Angel's blood is the key to opening Acathla. Fake Jenny kisses Giles, while Angelus has a "duh" moment. He wants to kill Giles but Spike convinces him that it would be better to see if the spell works first. Angelus: "You know, I kind of like having you watch my back." Neither of them like watching Dru mack on Giles. I find it repulsive too. Giles though is in complete shock when he realizes what he did. He knows better than this. Buffy, on the other hand, needs knowledge about the sword and heads back to find Whistler, who's making himself at home in Giles' place. Whistler: "You know raiding an Englishman's fridge is like dating a nun. You're never gonna get the good stuff." Buffy has no time for nonsense so Whistler exposits that Angel's blood opens Acathla and it is the only thing that can close him again. If Acathla's mouth opens she'll have to send both Angel and Acathla to hell or the whole world goes there instead. Whistler suggests stopping Angelus before he can even open Acathla. Duh. Whistler: "The faster you kill Angel, the easier it's going to be on you." Buffy: "Don't worry about me." She says she doesn't have anything left to lose and walks out. Whistler whispers, "Wrong kid. You've got one more thing." Talk about foreshadowing. I hereby spend the rest of the episode worrying that one of the Scooby Gang will die, especially Giles, who I cannot lose anymore than Buffy can.

As day breaks over Sunnydale, Buffy arrives at Angelus' hideout only to meet up with Xander there. Xander: "Calvary's here. Calvary's a frightened guy with a rock but it's here." Aww. Buffy hands him a stake instead and tells him to get Giles out. He's not to take on Angelus or the vamps. Buffy unsheathes the sword as they walk down the middle of the road in broad daylight with cops still after her. Maybe not the best plan. Sigh. Buffy calls the sword a present for Angel and Xander is about to tell her about Willow's spell idea but then changes his mind. It might be out of jealousy, hatred, revenge, or even because he doesn't want to give Buffy false hope or distract her. Either way, it's a decision that will come back to haunt them all and affects his future relationship with Buffy. While they talk, Angel begins the ritual and Willow starts the spell. Oz: "Did I mention I didn't take Latin?" Willow: "You don't have to understand it. You just have to say it….I hope." Nice to know they have a good understanding of this potent spell before trying it. Just saying. Right as Angelus cuts his hand, Buffy beheads one of his vamps and the fight for the world begins. Buffy: "Hello lover." Angelus: "I don't have time for you." Buffy: "You don't have a lot of time left." It's cheesetastic in here. Angelus says that the odds are not in her favor, which is Spike's cue to bash Angelus until Dru attacks him. Spike: "I don't want to hurt you baby. Doesn't mean I won't." Spike knocks Dru down while Buffy takes on a random vamp.

Meanwhile Xander grabs Giles. Giles thinks Xander is another Drusilla trick. "They get inside my head. Make me see things I want." Xander: "Then why would they make you see me?" Giles: "Oh right. Let's go." Bwah! I love how Buffy intersperses levity and snark even in the highest action points. Xander gets Giles out, Buffy stakes random vamp, and Spike and Dru continue trading punches. Right until Angelus touches Acathla's sword and everything's bathed in white light. Acathla's awake. Too late, Willow struggles with the spell in the hospital as Spike chokeholds Drusilla unconscious and Buffy and Angelus grab their swords. Angelus: "My boy Acathla's about to wake up. You're going to hell." Buffy: "Save me a seat." Then one of my favorite action sequences in Buffy begins - the Buffy/Angelus sword fight. I love me a great sword fight. Angelus draws first blood but neither gives an inch. Willow continues to struggle with the spell when a spirit takes over her body, speaking the words fluently. Oz: "Is this a good thing?" Let's assume not. The sword battle begins with Angelus definitely winning. In one of my favorite moments of the whole show, Spike carries Dru right by them. "God, he's going to kill her." Then he gives a little head shrug and keeps going. BWAAHHH!!! I never adored Spike more than in that moment. He made such a great, practical villain. Angelus however uses the time to taunt Buffy. "So that's everything, huh? No weapons, no friends, no hope. Take all that away and what's left?" Buffy closes her eyes and catches the sword. "Me." Woo hoo! Feel the girl power explode. She takes back the fight, stronger than ever until Angelus is on his knees.

At that moment, Spike and Dru leave as Willow finishes the spell and the Orb of Thesulah glows. So do Angel's eyes. He's back. And confused as Buffy and Angel's theme plays mournfully in the background (one of the best TV themes ever created). He looks up at her and asks what's going on. At first Buffy is skeptical, but it's really Angel. She slowly puts the sword down as he worries about the cut on her arm that he put there. They hug as months of previous terror are washed away in their tears. Angel: "I feel like I haven't seen you in months." He says all that Buffy needed to hear and for one moment everything is perfect again, but as she opens her eyes Acathla opens his mouth. She realizes what she has to do. She kisses Angel and tells him not to worry as the vortex gets bigger behind him. Buffy: "I love you." Angel: "I love you." Buffy: "Close your eyes." She kisses him again as he does and then stabs him in the chest with the sword while the music swells. He holds his hand out to her and calls her name as he's sucked into hell with Acathla. She just stands there in shock and grief. So do I. And then Buffy and Angel's theme changes to Sarah McLachlan's Full of Grace and I am done. It gets me every time. When I first saw this scene, I actually bawled. I cry very rarely and even less at TV, but this scene totally did me in. In some ways, it still does.

Buffy's face crumbles as she realizes that she did have one more thing to lose and now she's just drained. She's lost everything including her hope and will to keep going. She heads home to pick up some clothes and leaves a note for Joyce, who also breaks down reading it. Sadly we don't get to see what the note says, but Joyce's face tells us the gist. She's lost her daughter and my heart breaks again. Back at school, Giles worries about Willow's health since she's in a wheelchair but she's equally worried about him. Aww. The Scooby Gang recaps and wonders where Buffy is. Oz: "But we know the world didn't end, because…check it out." Giles and Xander confirm. They went back to Angelus' lair and Acathla was still stone. Willow is hopeful that Buffy and Angel are reunited since the spell worked, but Xander knows that didn't happen. "Maybe she had to kill him before the cure could work." Cordelia and Willow say Buffy will show up to clarify, but little do they know that Buffy was expelled and she's watching them from across the street. They turn to go back into Sunnydale High without Buffy, who stays awhile longer before turning. The wind blows as she walks down the street to catch a bus. As Sarah McLachlan sings, "It's better this way," the camera pans on the Now Leaving Sunnydale sign and we fade to black, completely, emotionally wrecked. Thanks Joss Whedon. In fact the theme music during the ending credits are a brutal shock. Even the closing card realizes how exquisitely painful this episode is. Instead of saying, "I made this" like usual, it says, "Oh, I need a hug." Why yes, we do.

Season two of Buffy is one of my favorite TV seasons of all time. There are 1 or 2 duds, but overall the whole season was fantastic and having Angelus as the Big Bad was inspired. It made things personal and rocked Buffy to her core. Then to end it like this. I have never felt such loss for a TV character in my life and it is this powerful acting scene that makes Becoming II my favorite episode of TV. The sheer desolation is a physical force that still moves me even though I know how it ends. I will never forget how visceral this episode was when I first watched. It's the first time TV ever truly moved me, although it wasn't the last, and as such it is seared into my memory. Yes, some things don't stand the test of time and quite frankly I don't think it would be as powerful to anyone who didn't see it in the 90's. Nowadays every supernatural show has sympathetic "monsters" and there is far too much supernatural romance tragedy on for this to make much of a punch. But back then, it was a new thought first made popular by Anne Rice and perfected in the Buffy and Angel saga.

Still the episode goes well beyond a supernatural romance. By systematically stripping Buffy down throughout these episodes, by taking away her school and mom and even her hope, they leave her with nothing but herself to cling to and when she tells Angelus that she still has herself left, it is an enormous stand for girl power. One that I still applaud today. There may be tons of teenage female heroes now but Buffy really began that on TV, leaving a legacy for some of my favorite characters to come. I saw her in Veronica Mars. I see her in Clarke on The 100. I see her in Katniss of The Hunger Games. I even see her in Harry Potter. In fact, I see shades of Buffy everywhere and for that I am grateful. Buffy changed the TV landscape more than I realized at the time and gave us a girl we could believe in that helped us believe in ourselves. She didn't just kick butt. She could be powerful and vulnerable. She could, when necessary, take down evil on her own, but she also needed her friends to help ground her and make that fight worthwhile. She sacrificed nobly but that sacrifice took its toll on her and in the end, her sorrow became ours. That's what makes this episode so powerful.

Grade: A+

Best Reason to Watch - everything seems to vague an answer so I will say everything with Buffy
Best Emotional Scene (maybe of all time) - Buffy kills Angel
Second Best Scene - Joyce and Buffy fight over being the slayer
Best Non-Buffy Emotional Scene - Xander pleads for Willow to wake up
Best Moment - Spike sees Angel about to kill Buffy and just shrugs it off
Best Plan - Spike uses Drusilla to get the truth out of Giles
Best Snark - Spike
The "About Time" Award - Joyce finally knows that Buffy is a vampire slayer
Biggest Twist - the Spike and Buffy alliance
Best Action - Buffy and Angel swordfight
The "You Know It's Serious When…" Award - Xander isn't making a funny comment
Best Return - Jenny Calendar, even if she was only a hallucination
Most Awkward - Joyce and Spike talk about the tie she hit him with an axe in School Hard
Worst Liars - Buffy and Spike with their rock band spiel
Best Foreshadowing - Snyder calls the Mayor
Worst Foreshadowing - Whistler says Buffy still has one thing left to lose
Most Likely to Come Back to Haunt You - Xander doesn't tell Buffy that Willow is trying to spell again / Joyce tells Buffy if she leaves she can't come back
Most Tame Torture - Giles barely has a scratch on him except a couple broke fingers. I wonder exactly how the Big Bad Angelus tortured him.
Most Adorably Clueless - Oz
Biggest Truth - Snyder's right, the police in Sunnydale are seriously incompetent
Worst Fashion Statement - Buffy's baggy pants when she leaves are about 3 sizes too big

Screencaps by IMVU, Fanpop, Buffy Wikia, Fan Forum, Jet WolfPinterest, Slay Alive, Carlos Nightman, 7 Inches of Your Time, Pinterest, Das Sporking, Eternal Delena Lovers, Fanpop, Unwelcome Commentary, Den of Geek, Critically Touched, Collider, and me.

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts the Sleepy Hollow "Headless" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
Recent Reviews by Dahne (All Reviews)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sleepy Hollow - 2.10 - Magnus Opus - Best Scene Poll

Sorry this is a bit late but it was pre-empted where I live and I couldn't watch the episode until tonight. Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating it tomorrow.

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts the Sleepy Hollow "Headless" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
Recent Reviews by Dahne (All Reviews)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Last Week in TV - Nov. 16-22 - Reviews and Episode Awards

Hello and welcome back to Last Week in TV. We are about to head into the midseason hiatus so if you have any shows you think I'd like or ones I can't miss please nominate them in the box below. I already have Alias and Vikings on the top of the to-watch list and I am looking for a few more good shows to round them out. Next week we're reaching back a few years with the cancelled too soon show Missing starring Ashley Judd. Well, that is if I can get Hulu to cooperate. Other than that, it's been a pretty typical TV week. I did finally drop Jane the Virgin and I 'm still behind on The Missing (2014 version), but otherwise I am caught up. How did your TV week go? Until next time, don't forget to comment about your week so far and happy viewing!

PS - No need to nominate any shows that are in the weekly section. Unless I drop them, I will always review those. Also if I have already reviewed a show this season (currently Drop Dead Diva, Chicago Fire, Vikings, The Good Wife, Arrow, Bones, and Outlander), then I will not review them again until the 2015-2016 season. Feel free to nominate cancelled shows too as long as they can be found on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu.

Shameless Plug - I am writing this week's Throwback Thursday review on 2 of my favorite episodes of all time. So after you stuff yourself with turkey (if you're an American celebrating Thanksgiving), check it out. Unless you've been following my time here at SpoilerTV, you might be surprised by which 2 episodes they are.

Nominated Show:

Bones - 10.01 - The Conspiracy in the Corpse

I dropped Bones somewhere in season 6 when it became apparent the "will they-won't they" relationship was the focus instead of the actual crimes or characters. Plus, I still wasn't over what they did to Zack. Just terrible. Apparently since then, Booth and Bones got married, had a kid, and Booth was imprisoned for killing 3 Feds. It's conspiracy time and it's not just Hodgins saying it. Luckily the conspiracy theory was interesting and complex without being too overdone for a fallen away viewer to follow. Sadly that time gap also negated the episode's most powerful moment for me. Sweets' death didn't affect me like Bones fans because I never much liked him anyway. I'm sure he grew on people throughout the show, but when I left Daisy and he were more annoying than anything. Instead the most traumatic part for me was figuring out this new Booth. I know it wasn't just me because the characters were remarking on it too. Still I'm curious about how much of his new personality is my faulty memory of him, the years I missed, or a truly sudden change that would have thrown devoted fans as much as it did me. Everyone else was pretty much as I remembered them. Bones perhaps was a little looser and definitely more affectionate, but mostly she seemed the same too. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. I did like the addition of Aubrey but since it's 50-50 on whether he's working for the bad guys, Booth is right not to trust him. Overall I thought the conspiracy mytharc was good and the character interaction mostly interesting, but there's not much that separates this show from all the other crime procedurals I also dropped. Like all crime procedurals, it depends on how invested you are in the characters and I stopped caring about the time Hannah exited stage left to become the excellent Lagertha on Vikings. I would recommend Bones to anyone looking for another crime procedural though because the scientific parts are always interesting, the cases usually unique, and the characters behave like family.

Grade: B-
Ranking - 2
Audience - anyone who likes criminal procedures where the partners are together, like Castle

Best Reason to Watch - the conspiracy theory is vast and yet still interesting
Biggest Twist - Sweets died
Best Played - Hodgins exchanged the crucial bones with someone else's fearing correctly that the people involved in the conspiracy would want them too
Biggest Aww Moment - Booth and his daughter asleep on the couch
Belated Congratulations - Dr. Edison, glad you graduated from squintern to head of your own department
Biggest WTH Moment - no way they would let people that close to the victim autopsy the body
Best Negotiator - Bones, who blackmails Booth out of prison
The "Say What?" Award - The FBI assigned Booth a new partner? Why not assign him a desk in a basement somewhere?
Most Disgusting - besides the autopsies, which I forgot were nasty, the idea of someone peeing on a corpse is beyond gross
The "Welcome Back" Award - Sam Anderson from Growing Pains, The Stand, Angel, and 100 other shows
The "Wait a Minute" Award - Exactly how many years have passed here? Booth and Bones' kid seems pretty old and they didn't have her 4 seasons ago.
Most Sketchy - Dear Booth, if you want me to believe you are FBI then maybe shave and try not to look like you've been drinking and fighting all night. Just saying.
Biggest Surprise - Lance and Daisy are having a baby and Booth is the godfather
Best Quotes -
1. Hodgins: "And it is nice talking conspiracy without being called a loon."
2. Bones: "I'm new to blackmailing but I think I've covered it all."

New Show:

State of Affairs - 1.01 - Pilot

State of Affairs has all the requisite secrets, scandals, and backstabbing expected of a political drama. There's also the requisite number of douches, as in almost everyone. This show focuses on Charlie, a CIA analyst charged with deciding what to brief the President of the United States on each day. It's a high pressured job made even more so by the fact that PotUS was supposed to become her mother-in-law before her fiancé was killed in a terrorist attack. In the pilot, word comes that there may be a lead on the Fatah, the terrorist accused of the attack, but if they pursue the lead an American doctor taken by terrorists in Kenya will surely die. Charlie chooses to brief the President on the doctor and not Fatah, jeopardizing her career and freedom. While there were definitely moments of suspense and anticipation, it is very much your typical political drama complete with blackmail and career-threatening secrets. In other words, not my cup of tea. Basically this feels like Madam Secretary if you want the lead more risqué and the drama more scandalous.

Grade: C
Ranking - 2
Audience - anyone who likes political dramas with troubled mavericks leading the way

Best Reason to Watch - choosing between rescuing a doctor or killing a terrorist leader is compelling
Best Twist - Fatah was a CIA asset / Aaron might have been more involved with the attack than suspected
Best Escape - Charlie hitches a ride
Least Surprising - Charlie is being blackmailed
Worst Decision - Charlie chooses not to tell the president about a possible Fatah sighting
Best Banter - 2 AM briefer meeting before the terrorists attack a clinic
Best Secondary Character - Sid because while I have no idea who he is or what his connection is with Charlie, he fascinates me
Biggest Douche - Skinner although his protégé Lucas has a shot of taking over the title
Most Clairvoyant - Charlie knew before the ill-fated trip killed Aaron that it wasn't a good idea
Best Quotes -
1. Lucas: "Isn't it great when you can hate someone for no real reason right off the bat?"
2. Kurt: "How's the day going in general?" Maureen: "Well I'm officially divorced and I might be unemployed now, so great."

Weekly Shows:

Sleepy Hollow - 2.09 - Mama

To say that this was an improvement over the last episode would be to master the understatement. Granted that wouldn't be hard to do. What sells this episode is we finally get an Abbie-centric story and at last Jenny is back for the majority of an episode. (I can't stress enough how important that one is. Jenny needs to become the main character. She's far more interesting than all other characters combined.) I especially loved how the Mills sisters worked together here to defeat the demon. We need more instances of women kicking supernatural butt together on TV and Sleepy Hollow is the perfect place to start since they have 3 strong females. Now if they could only keep Katrina working with the group. I still need a Katrina and Jenny scene. That was really the only major demerit I have this episode. Hawley drugging a sick Ichabod was excellent. I get frustrated with childproof caps and homeopathic medicine when I'm sick too. Mostly though it was getting glimpses of the Mills sisters' past and their touching family reunion that makes this episode. May we continue to learn more about their history, especially if it involves Corbin. This show needs more Corbin too.

Podcast Link 

Grade: B (A- if they hadn't sidelined Katrina again)

Best Reason to Watch - Mills sisters reunited and kicking butt together
Biggest Aww Moment - Mama says goodbye to her girls
Best Reaction - Henry is visibly moved by Katrina holding the baby
Best Humor - Ichabod inhaling the matzo ball soup but still being cranky to Hawley
Best Moment - the Mills sisters join hands while watching the videotape of their mama's session
The "Welcome Back" Award - Cynthia Stevenson of Agent Cody Banks and Hope & Gloria fame
The "Say What?" Award - What kind of mental hospital lets patients keep any kind of glass in their rooms? That's just nutty.
The "Get Over It. NOW!!" Award - I am so tired of Ichabod and Abbie fighting over Katrina. I'm actually completely over how this show treats Katrina.
Best Reference - Hawley calls Ichabod Mr. Woodhouse, the hypochondriac in Jane Austen's Emma / Henry quotes Hamlet
The "I Don't Think So" Award - No way after selling his soul to Henry inadvertently does Irving just take random pills
Best Effects - Demon Nurse disintegrating
Worst Plan - I've seen enough supernatural shows to know that summoning ghosts is a terrible idea.
Worst Quote - Hawley: "Check the back for an index or something." Really?
Best Quotes -
1. Abbie: "It's Quiet Time now." Ichabod: "When I am rested, there shall be hell to pay."
2. Irving: "My soul belongs to the Horseman of War, but for now I am still in control of my actions. Even chose my own color Jell-O this morning." Jenny: "That's a good sign."
3. Abbie: "After mom was committed, all I thought about was how I would end up crazy like her in a place like this. Then you were sent here. I knew I was next. It's tainted everything I've done since."

Scorpion - 1.09 - Rogue Element

Scorpion continues to be a great mix of action, heart, and just plain fun. The characters are getting more fleshed out and this week was finally Cabe's turn. When his ex-wife finds herself inadvertently in trouble, he comes to the rescue with team in tow. It is clear that he still loves her but the pain of losing their daughter was too much for their relationship. By bringing her back into his life, we explore what Cabe was like before the show and he gets to be fairly kick butt throughout. Woo hoo! It also continues to highlight the father-son relationship between Walter and him. I liked how the ex was able to reassure Walter of how much Cabe cares for him. In turn, Walter was able to be there for Cabe. Whatever emotional and social issues Walter has, he does communicate better with Cabe than anyone else and that is very evident here. My only real issue with this episode is that it was light on the other characters. However to finally get a Cabe-centered episode took some of the sting away.

Grade: B+

Best Reason to Watch - back story on Gallo
Best Scene - Walter reassures Gallo about his ex / Walter tells Gallo that he was like a father to him
Best Moment - Gallo's ex tells Walter that the reason he yells is because he's worried about losing Walter
The "Oh Walter" Award - only he would think of jumping into a car through the sun roof
The "Yeah, I'd be Nervous Too" Award - If my ex suddenly wanted to chat with my new boss, I'd give them both major side eye.
The "You Deserve to be Shot" Award - Seriously Walter, can you never ever follow directions?
The "Made Me Jump" Award - I knew that boat was going to explode and I still jumped when it did
The "Welcome Back" Award - Jessica Tuck from Grimm, who was recently outstanding on Stalker too
The "Second Verse Same as the First" Award - not sure why Walter needs to explain how the file was wiped off the computer twice in less than 10 minutes
The "I Just Don't Get It" Award - why did they not call Homeland when Cabe's ex was kidnapped and at least got some help in the chase
Best Quotes -
1. Paige: "You're a Cabe whisperer. I do the same for them."
2. Toby: "Oh '97. A fine vintage for Dinty Moore."

Supernatural - 1.06 - Ask Jeeves

I think the meta episode was supposed to be fun. It really wasn't. This, this was fun. In fact, it's my favorite episode so far this season and probably better than everything in season 9. It goes without saying that it was a vast improvement over all of season 8. Nothing like an old-fashioned game of Clue with a shapeshifter in the mix, especially with all the little nods to the game. I also like that it gave us some back story on Bobby, the character I most miss. Mostly though it is the restored relationship between the brothers that makes me happy. Sure the other foot called Mark of Cain is going to drop but for once they have an easygoing relationship and that's all I need to make SPN watchable. No angels and a fun case-of-the week are the icing on top.

Grade: A-

Best Reason to Watch - it's a true caper, complete with secret doors
Least Surprising - the silverware isn't real silver
Funniest Moment - Sam checking out if 2 cougars are shapeshifters while they are pawing him
Best Telenovela Twist - the maid is Bunny's daughter
The "Talk about Overkill" Award - Exactly why did Dean empty his whole clip into Olivia? I'm with Sam here.
Best Return - Phillip , the butler, was formerly Roy LeGrange, the miracle healer in Faith / shapeshifters, who I typically enjoy
Best Previouslies Ever - I'm writing this before watching the episode and while I have no idea how any of it pertains to the episode, it included some of the weirdest monsters in SPN history. I wish had Suicidal Teddy though. He was truly unique.
Least Surprised - Butler sees the dead woman and doesn't look surprised at all. What's up with that?
The "How'd I Get So Lucky" Award - after a veritable Dean and Baby famine, this is 2 episodes in a row that he's tinkering with her. Score!
Best Reaction - Dean and Sam to the doorbell playing Fur Elise
Weirdest Drink - glazed donut coffee? Huh?
The "Say What?" Award - Why is Dean watching Tori Spelling reality TV? He mocked Bobby for watching it in You Can't Handle the Truth.
Worst Nickname - Clown College Collette
Best Exposition Dump - Heddy, who tells us all the character stereotypes in a few biting comments
Best Side Eye - Dean inspects the knight armor in the hall
Best Clue Reference - the secret room has a lead pipe and rope, Dean picks up a wrench before going into Philip's apartment, Sam picks up a knife while trailing blood splatter, Dean grabs a candlestick when closet doors start rattling, and the revolver is hanging out of the dead detective's coat
Memorial - the episode is dedicated to the director's father, James A. MacCarthy
Best Quotes -
1. Dash: "Well Sam, I'll let you in on a little family secret. We don't really like each other. Then again, what family does?" Sam: "Mine does. For the most part. It's just my brother and me so.." Dash: "Then you're lucky."
2. Sam: "A husband and wife tag team killer ghosts?" Dean: "You've got to keep the marriage alive somehow."

SHIELD - 2.08 - The Things We Bury

Skye's crazy dad is growing on me (does he have a name?) and I love how Ward is now in the midst of Whitehall's plans. Everything feels like one betrayal after another is coming, which should keep things interesting. On Team Good Guys, I am glad Tripp is still breathing but I was disappointed by the lack of May. I thought I would like her as second-in-command, but it is taking her out of the field and butt kicking too often now. Time to get her back on the ground. Simmons too felt a little shafted but we did get more time for Fitz, something we needed. I like how he is progressing and has even seemed to recover some of his sense of humor as well. Bobbi and Hunter remain fun so they can be together or not as long as they don't get in the way of the action scenes.

Grade: B+

Best Reason to Watch - they found the city and the race is on
Best Twist - Ward makes it look like Christian killed their parents and then himself
Most Necessary - Ward partners up with Whitehall, presumably to take him down
Funniest Directions Ever - Coulson gives the Hawaii team instructions that just sound nutty. Maka- what, indeed.
The "Welcome Back" Award - Dichen Lachman. Not one week after she dies in The 100 she's back on my screen. I like that. I like that a lot. And dying again. That not so much.
Best Geek Moment - Simmons is hugely excited about Agent Carter, the founder of…, SHIELD, maybe?
The "Who are You Trying to Kid?" Award - Senator, nothing you say makes the least sense. You were not trying to help Ward so stuff it.
Biggest Waste of Time - watching time pass by in Whitehall's cell
Biggest Heart Attack - Tripp almost died. He's my second favorite character. He has to live.
Best Quotes -
1. Hunter: "Sorting paperwork, the life none of us chose."
2. Bobbi: "You think I would do that? I can't argue a man to suicide." Hunter: "Clearly you've never been in an argument with yourself then."
3. Simmons: "I would have agreed with you before alien became a word we used daily."

Forever - 1.09 - 6 AM

Henry being an old time grump about any music after the classical age made me laugh, but it was the scene at the end where Abe teaches Henry jazz that held all the heart. They remain the foundation of the show no matter what the case of the week is. However this week, the case was a plus as well. I learned a lot about forensics I never knew before (well if it's true) and the characters involved were compelling. The flashbacks also were a highlight. While I will be sad when this show ends, I am glad that we got a few more episode to soften the blow.

Grade: B+

Best Scene - Abe teaches Henry jazz
Dumbest Move - telling a criminal you found a smoking gun on him before an arrest
Least Surprising Twist - Pepper plans on killing the man who killed his son
Best Move - I like how they keep adding back story to the lieutenant
The "Mr. Crankypants" Award - Henry fusses over Abe's music and can't tell differentiate between rap and jazz
The "Yeah, I Didn't Need That" Award - Nope, no need to watch Henry snap rib bones and lift the rib cage up. Let's not, ever again.
The "Say What?" Award - Film, like the stuff we used to watch on film projectors, is an accelerant? How?
Most Punny - Henry performs an autotopsy on the victim's car
Best Turnabout - Lucas and Abe are the experts instead of Henry
Best Quotes -
1. Hanson: "Alright Betty Crockett, play it."
2. Jo: "Henry, please tell me you did not take evidence home and cook it."

The Flash - 1.06 - The Flash is Born

For me, the best thing about this episode was the interaction between Eddie and Barry. I like how Eddie gives Barry fighting advice, which works better than fighting Cisco's Rock 'Em Sock 'Em toy robot. It felt like they were bonding over a shared past, which paves the way for a true friendship. That worked a whole lot better than Iris and Barry's, although Iris has become slightly less flat of a character in the last few episodes. The flashbacks worked for her as well as Joe and Barry. I also love how she fought for herself by pulling the fire alarm, very smart, and punching Tony out. Speaking of, Tony was a great addition as well. Not because he was the most clichéd villain yet, but because I miss Star-Crossed. It really was a better show than it ever had a right to be. I'm not sorry Tony is locked up and won't appear again until the inevitable jailbreak in season 2. I just like having Greg Finley back. Maybe he can join The 100.

Grade: B

Best Character Interaction - I really liked Eddie and Barry here. That's a bromance I could see happening.
Best Twist - Iris punches Tony out
Best Aww Scene - the flashback where Joe teaches Barry how to box
The "Welcome Back" Award - Greg Finley, who played my favorite character on Star-Crossed, Drake. Here's hoping he shows up in all my CW shows.
Best Advice - Eddie counsels Barry not to give up on friends
Least Convincing Liar - Barry, who couldn't fool a child much less a detective
The "Well at least It's Not Time Travel" Award - having a second particle accelerator seems less plausible than metahuman injections or human experimentation but it's a lot less headache inducing than time travel
The "Oh Please Let's Not" Award - It feels like Wells was directly involved with the death of Barry's mom. Please tell me she wasn't a scientific researcher who worked with him.
Most Clichéd - The old school bully takes the fight back to his elementary school. Serious issues, this one.
Stupidest Move - Barry shows his real face to Tony, who when he breaks out will cause problems. No forward thinking here.
Biggest Moment I Don't Care About - Barry is now officially called The Flash
Dumbest Move - Old Flash threatens Joe right after he tells Wells he won't give up. Coincidence? I think not.
Best Quotes -
1. Joe: "That particle accelerator is the gift that keeps on giving."
2. Wells: "What exactly are we debating?" Cisco: "The average number of bugs Barry swallows in a day of running." Wells: "I look forward to seeing you accept your Nobel."

Benched - 1.04 - Sell It

Grade: B

Best Scene - Nina is certain she's going to die by her client's hands but he gets her a chair and sympathizes with her
The "I Don't Buy It" Award - I just don't get that a smart woman like Nina is this blind to basic social skills. Why would anyone try to follow all that conflicting advice?
Most Childish - surprisingly it isn't the way Nina talks to the jury but the testosterone overload between Phil and Trent
Most Awkward - Nina talking to anyone
The "I Feel Dumb" Award - I have no idea what Nina is saying any more than the jury and I promise I have an advanced degree
Best Plan - Nina uses trickery to make her client look more sympathetic
Best Twist - Teensy is really sweet and polite
Best Quotes -
1. Nina: "That's not the info you needed." Phil: "That's not info anyone needed."
2. Nina: "So the jury's prepubescent dum-dums." Phil: "No, they're not dum-dums. They're like smart dums. It's a very subtle difference. It's like jazz. If you have to explain it than you'll never understand."

The 100 - 2.05 - Human Trials

I am torn with this episode. I loved most of it but what I didn't like, I really hated. The reunions were the best part, both with Abby/Clarke and Kane/Jaha. I love the emotional component of Abby finally seeing her child again and the actors nailed the scene. I also think it is natural, if short sighted, that Abby wants to keep Clarke close and safe from all harm. It will never work and the sooner the adults realize that the children they sent down are not the same people they see now the better off everyone will be. Their experiences have changed them. In fact, they probably weren't ever the innocent children they want to pretend they were. They were living with a death sentence even on the Ark. That changes you. I'm also a fan of Jaha and Kane together. Not sure about the Gladiator component, but I hope they work together to find a way out. Alas I'm not a fan of the lingering Mount Weather scenes, mostly because I don't care one jot about Jasper and haven't since halfway through season 1. If he wants to be completely brain dead for love, let him. Just rescue Monty, who is now the best of them all since they have majorly screwed over Finn. Herein lies my biggest rant. It looks like they are sacrificing a great perspective on the shipping altar and it feels manipulative, cheap, and completely out of character. Am I supposed to believe Finn suddenly snapped because Clarke is kidnapped? That makes no sense to me. More sense is that the writers and PTB got so much hate for Finn's character on social media that they decided to appease them. I loved Finn last year and I hate fan pandering so I am thoroughly ticked off and quite frankly resentful of social media's sway yet again on a good show. It has to stop. I'm also not a fan of forcing someone to become a drug addict so they do your bidding as a storyline. It is rarely written well and usually comes off as soap opera-ish to me. I'll give them some leeway now to prove me wrong but this is likely to become my least favorite non-shipping related subplot of the season.

Grade: C+

Best Reason to Watch - forward plot movement as things get more and more intense
Best Scene - Abby and Clarke reunite and Clarke breaks down in her mother's arms
The "Hell has Frozen Over" Award - I finally agree with Murphy. Finn is a thousand times better as a peacemaker. To lose that perspective amongst the 100 will be a huge detriment.
Most Gullible - Jasper for believing Dante's lies again. There's a guy thinking with his hormones.
Biggest Mistake - well they certainly did a good job of tarnishing the character of Finn so that should make the shippers happy if no one else
Best Tactical - CrazyFinn may be ruthless but setting fire to the food makes for an excellent distraction
Best Reveal - PsychoScientist is also Dante's son and head of security
Least Likely to Learn from Past Mistakes - Abby and the Ark adults, who keep selling these kids short
Most Likely to Learn from Past Mistakes - Bellamy, who no longer sells Octavia short but trusts her in a fight
Best Return - Nyko, Lincoln's healer friend
Best Reunion - Abby and Clarke
Best Entrance - Jaha
Best Friend - Monty, who remains skeptical and smart when Jasper is not thinking well
Best Reaction - Raven's look when she knows she can't join her friends to find Finn
Best Continuity - Kane plants a tree for his mom
Worst Sign - when Murphy is the one making sense and talking people down, you know you're in trouble
Best Quotes -
1. Abby: "She thinks that because of what she's been through, she's changed. She's still just a kid." Raven: "You're wrong, Abby. She stopped being a kid the day you sent her down here to die."
2. Murphy to Finn: "You know I think I liked you better as a peacemaker."

The Goldbergs - 2.07 - A Goldberg Thanksgiving

And The Goldbergs is back. After a miss last episode, we double down on the heart and laughs just in time for the holidays and I, for one, am thankful. I love Pops making Erica a better person. I love Murray putting his videogame prejudices aside to play a game with Adam. I'm not sure I would do that. I think they're a waste too. I also thought this episode was funnier than last week. Barry trying to cook Thanksgiving dinner is probably only slightly more over the top than it would be if I tried. Thanksgiving is complicated. Beverly and Erica's challenges made me laugh as well. Overall, this is The Goldbergs that I look forward to appointment watching and live tweeting each week.

Grade: B+

Best Reason to Watch - everyone's traditions seem more crazy than your own
Best Scene - Erica decides to help Beverly with Thanksgiving after Pops tells her about Nana
Biggest Awww Moment - Murray tells Marv he's jealous of Adam's relationship with him / Murray plays Duck Hunt with Adam
Best Speech - Pops gives a toast to his dead wife
Most Embarrassing - Beverly's workout outfit. Jane Fonda screwed us all.
Worst Plan Ever - dropping out of school to play videogames full-time
The "How'd I Miss That" Award - I have never seen The Wizard and don't have a clue what Intellivision is. Never heard of it. That must have been around the time my family finally got cable and MTV.
Worst Tradition - Anything that requires you to be up in the wee hours of morning to cook all day for a meal that last 1 hour tops is not for me. This Thanksgiving as always, I am grateful that my sister-in-law doesn't see it that way too. Thanks sis!
The "Say What?" Award - How is it possible Erica didn't know her grandma died when Beverly was 17? I'd think Beverly would remind them of that every few months or at least on Memorial Day.
Most Passionate - Barry's plea for Thanksgiving
Best Nostalgia - Atari Pong / Miami Vice
Best Music - Man in Motion (theme from St. Elmo's Fire) by John Parr
Best Quotes -
1. Beverly: "Who's ready for some Jazzercise?" Erica: "People with no shame."
2. Erica: "Pops please, I don't want to hear one of your adorable, wise lectures that makes me a better person."
3. Murray: "I shouldn't even have to say this out loud. No one here is pursuing a career in videogames."

Red Band Society - 1.08 - Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car

I have to admit Dr. Naday was not anything I expected. I thought he'd be some fancy speaking pretentious jerk. This guy is a lot more fun and know that we know he actually has a plan, I agree with Jackson. He can stay. Still not sure about broody Hunter though. For the most part if it didn't involve him but it was at the hospital, I really enjoyed this episode. I wasn't crazy about the buying trip either, mostly because nothing happened. The only exception was Emma, who finally got a meaty part about her illness and not just which guy she wanted to mack. It was a refreshing change.

Grade: B-

Best Scene - Jackson calls out Dr. Naday and he explains his procedure to her
Best Awww Scene - McAndrew comforts Erin when she doubts herself
Biggest Surprise - Dr. Naday
The "Are You Kidding Me?" Award - since when does Kara change herself to please a guy
Biggest Idiot - Kara
Smartest - the pre-med bouncer at the strip club
Most Obtuse - Leo, who keeps pushing Emma to eat. Back off even though you're being nice about it.
Best Change - Leo actually seems to care about how Jordi's feeling so maybe the love triangle is over
The "Welcome Back" Award - Adrian Lester, last seen playing Mickey Stone in Hustle
Best Reference - Lizzie McGuire
Best Acting - Ciara Bravo, who did a great job showing the conflicts in Emma
Worst Subplot - getting gifts for Charlie
Best Back Story - Hunter
Best Quotes -
1. Hunter: "You're the best terrible person I've met in a long time. I mean you really throw yourself into it."
2. Dash: "No disrespect man, but I just don't see how a pet store can run out of dogs. That's like a gas station running out of gas."

Stalker - 1.08 - Skin

What do you do when a former skinhead is stalked by a current one? This episode explored several points-of-view and was the richer for it. Jack siding on the reformed side because he is trying to prove he is reformed himself. Beth remained calm and collected, using her own personal experience with being stalked. Ben, whose brother was a victim of a hate crime, had a hard time seeing beyond the victim's past and was to be the audience's voice I suspect. Mostly though it was the neighbors' reactions that were the most intriguing to me. To be honest, I'm not sure what I would think or feel if I knew a former skinhead lived next door. And that's what made this episode work. It was more of a thinking episode than usual.

Grade: B+

Best Reason to Watch - the philosophical debate about whether people can really change and what happens when it's your job to protect someone repellant to you
Biggest Twist - Trent tells Amanda that Ethan has a right to get to know Jack
Most Difficult - How exactly do you explain that you used to be a Neo-Nazi to your neighbors?
The "Welcome Back" Award - Marc Blucas, who slowly overcame the horror that was Riley Finn on Buffy to be more associated with Necessary Roughness for me
Best Administrative Butt Kicking - Beth, who tells Trent to back off because they are keeping the skinhead from killing anyone no matter what it does to his case
Biggest Mind Game - Perry sends Beth a teddy bear like the one he found in her closet
Best Way to Find Peace with your Ex - save her new guy from getting sliced by a psycho
Most in Need of Ending - these terrible, creepy versions of previously good songs
Best Quotes -
1. Janice: "You might say skinheads are professional stalkers. They know how to bend the law without breaking it."
2. Jack: "You can't expect people to be okay with your past, Mark. Honestly, I'm not but that doesn't mean I won't do everything I can to help you and your family."

White Collar - 6.03 - Uncontrolled Variables

The final season continues to move at a brisk pace as Keller and Neal are forced to work together to steal data from a tech company. The best part was watching Keller as a foil for Neal. If Neal were slightly less charming and a lot more rough around the edges, if he hadn't picked up traits from Adler or had a good heart in the end, he would be Keller. To see them work together emphasizes that point. Where Neal can schmooze a kindhearted woman, Keller goes for terrible pickup lines and bullying. Where Neal wants to avoid collateral damage, Keller wants the most efficient play no matter who gets hurt. While Keller is a realist about their situation, Neal is dreaming of happily ever after. A similar dichotomy comes with Peter and LeSuit (great name by the way). I am sure LeSuit has a personal reason for wanting the Panthers busted, but his methods are just as ruthless as Keller's. He's not so much into bending the rules sometimes like Peter as he is into smashing them to get what he wants. No wonder this guy didn't hesitate to use a sociopath like Keller. He may be one too. All in all, I liked almost everything about this episode. I have no idea what the purpose of the gift or Diana's visit to El was and I don't know where El's new anxiety comes from, but otherwise it was a compelling episode. Only 3 more episodes left. I hope that the foreshadowing of Neal playing dead isn't where this is heading but either way, I'm enjoying the ride.

Grade: B

Best Reason to Watch - Keller vs. Neal
Best Nickname - Mozzie calls the Interpol handler, Le Suit
Best Plan - the tech company keeps their data on ancient floppies so it can't be hacked
Biggest Foreshadowing - Keller reminds Neal that taking down the Panthers means everyone he loves will be in danger
Best Return - June is always a plus - always
Most Uncomfortable Meeting - Peter and Le Suit joined by Neal and Keller
Creepiest Gift Ever - Moz gives El a sarubobo
Most Admirable - Amy, who doesn't blackmail herself to the top
Biggest Product Placement - BMW's Go Pro features
Most Lucky - Keller because if I were Peter, I’d have pistol whipped him for that Elizabeth comment
Most Gentlemanly - Neal fights to keep Amy out of it and tells her how to keep her job
Biggest Ouch - Keller rats Neal out to Amy
Best Quotes -
1. Moz: "You do realize that mutually assured destruction still contains the word destruction, right?"
2. Mozzie: "Two suits acting like suits is two suits too many."

Elementary - 3.04 - Bella

At first glance, the open-ended way the episode concluded where neither the real murder is caught nor the threat proven or disproven bugged me. My least favorite short story remains The Lady or the Tiger, after all. However, it takes courage to pose a question on TV and then let your audience make up their own mind. Now I'm not excusing lazy writing or shows that pile on unending questions because they don't know the answers themselves. Those still drive me nuts, but for one episode it can be cool. Otherwise the majority of the episode was a mess. It's the most far-fetched motive for killing someone I have ever heard in a crime procedural. Add incessant death metal and repeated questions and this episode tried my patience something fierce. I did like how Kitty and Watson worked together and am relieved that Watson and Sherlock appear to have repaired their main differences. Here's hoping both stick.

Grade: C+

Best Reason to Watch - Watson and Kitty working together / the open-ended ending
Best Scene - Sherlock convinces Watson that he had nothing to do with Andrew's new business. Let's hope that's the end of it.
Worst Plan - Sherlock is self-medicating with leeches
Smartest Plan - Kitty stays out of Watson and Sherlock's fight
Most Interesting Group - a think tank to see how many ways humans can become extinct - how fun
Creepiest - Bella, the talking doll
The "Are You Kidding Me?" Award - this student takes falling on your sword to a whole new level
The "No Watson, It Doesn't Make Sense" Award - no matter how many times I rewatch this, nothing about a genius taking down an engineer to make people fear AI makes sense. At all.
Least Interesting Subplot - whether or not Sherlock maneuvered Watson's boyfriend to move
Most Frustrating - Bella keeps repeating, "I don't understand the question. Could you tell me more?"
The "Let's Not Go There Please" Award - the lady suggests that the computer killed the programmer
Biggest Reference - Terminator
The "Oh Please Stop" Award - that's way too much death metal
Best Quotes -
1. Sherlock: "Given your perspective, this machine is either a murder weapon or a murderer. Either way it can't be allowed to sit here unattended all night, can it? Imagine the schemes it might hatch."
2. Sherlock: "Mason unless the machines rise tonight, we have a murder to solve."
3. Watson: "I kind of feel like hugging you right now." Sherlock: "Yet as my friend, you know that would be a rash decision."

How to Get Away with Murder - 1.08 / 1.09 - He has a Wife / Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me

This show has the best twists on TV right now. At first I was a little disappointed with the 9th episode because much of it we had already seen in flashbacks previously. However that end reveal where Keating heard Wes apologize to Sam's corpse and obviously helped him script what to do with the body was a powerful punch. What a way to end for the midseason finale. This show is a strange case of me hating all the characters and frequently rolling my eyes at their choices, and yet it has a plot that sucks me right in. It's beyond compelling. Perhaps because the pacing is pitch perfect and the acting top notch. Annalise Keating may be the most complex woman on TV today. Here's looking forward to a great second half after the break.

Grades: A- / B

Best Reason to Watch - Lila and Rebecca back story / the big reveal of how Sam died
Best Twist - Keating knows that Wes killed her husband
Biggest Idiots - these college students who don't just call the police
Most Obnoxious - Asher always
Most Awkward - your boss making you witness her grilling her husband about his affair
Biggest Douche - Keating for yelling at Bonnie in front of the students
The "Get Out While You Can" Award - Oliver, trust me. Connor is not worth this.
Best Acted - Keating in everything
Best Liar - Wes, who really has a knack for it right now
Most Deserving of Death - Sam
Best New Character - Mary Walker, who is a formidable opponent
The "She Must Love Keating" Award - Is Bonnie in love with Annalise because I'm not sure why she's bowing at her feet if she isn't? This scene is strange.
The "For the Love of Your Freedom, Keep It in Your Pants" Award - for everyone in this mess screwing people ends up coming back to haunt the
The "Are You Kidding Me?" Award - instead of chatting to each other, why don't they call the police
Best Revenge - Keating requests DNA samples from all the men in Lila's life, including her teachers so that Sam is tested too
Best Phone Message - "It's Rebecca. Don't leave me a message."
Least Romantic - Bonnie and Ashton's sexcapade
Best Quotes -
1. Connor: "You take notes. I have Adderall. We make a great team."
2. Rebecca: "I'm hanging out with a sorority girl. I don't want to tell anyone about this more than you."
3. Connor: "Enough about the ring, Frodo."
4. Michaela: "See what happens when you use your brain instead of your penis."

TBBT - 8.09 / 8.10 - The Septum Deviation / The Champagne Reflection

The Big Bang Theory does best when it combines heart with laughs. As such, these two episode show the vast difference in quality that is TBBT in its latter seasons. The 9th episode had Sheldon worried about Leonard and valuing his friendship. The 10th had him dressing in silly costumes and being brain dead. Guess which one resonates? The simple truth is that by the time a show reaches its 8th season, it's going to have some clunkers and some stinkers. Generally more frequently the older it gets. I guess then it's a matter of seeing it as 1 in 700,000 or 699,999. It's a surprise that we get an episode with as much heart and soul as episode 9 or here's one of the most unfunny episodes TBBT has ever done in the 10th. Your pick.

Grades: B+ / D+

Best Reason to Watch - Sheldon's concern for Leonard / Leonard, Raj, and Howard searching for meaning
Best Physical Humor - Sheldon runs into the wall
Best Visual Humor - Leonard and Sheldon both have taped up broken noses
The "Aww, Sheldon is Human" Award - I like that Sheldon is unreasonably worried about Leonard's minor surgery. He does care and he calls Leonard his best friend too. Aww.
Most Punny - Bernadette with her muffin humor
Smartest Plan - Howard sees that telling each other what they don't like about each other is a trap and tries to avoid it. Sadly it doesn't work.
Least Funny - Sheldon and Fun with Flags. Weird costumes do not a joke make.
Most Practical - Raj, who instead of running computations says they should ask the guy's old officemate
Best Guest - LeVar Burton
Most Anticlimactic - the mystery numbers turn out to be a food diary
Best Quotes -
1. Sheldon: "Take me to Leonard." Amy: "Just go to work. He'll be fine." Sheldon: "Amy, he's my best friend and if you don't take me, I'm going there anyway." Amy: "Fine. It's sweet that you care about him so much." Leonard: "I do and I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if something happened to him and I wasn't at his bedside to say I told you so."
2. Sheldon: "I've learned that 1 in 700,000 people die from general anesthesia." Leonard: "Buddy, do you realize that that also means that 699,999 people don't die?" Sheldon: "I suppose that's true. You're such a glass half full kind of guy. I'm going to miss that."
3. Raj: "That look right there is why people eat before they come to your parties."
4. LeVar: "Wil Wheaton said get a gate. I don't know why I didn't get a gate."

Grimm - 4.05 - Cry Luison

It's hard to choose the worst part of this episode because there are so many worthy candidates. Adalind's never-ending scream fest of stupidity was tiresome before it even started. She definitely has to go. The case of the week ended when the bad guys didn't put up any kind of a fight at all. They just gave up. Wu is still in the dark. Nick and Juliette are about to go so far into fan fiction, I'm not sure the show can recover from it. Heaven help us if this spell too has consequences like EVERY SINGLE OTHER ONE! Does no one ever learn? Then add 2 scenes with a character I barely remember from that one episode he was in last year, whose only purpose seemed to be to tell Nick that being associated with Grimms sucks. I'm pretty sure we all know that by now. This episode was a complete mess. The only highpoints were HexenMom, who threatened to leave us, and Trubel working with Bud to threaten a Wesen trying to take advantage of Nick's un-Grimmness. This episode screams meh.

Grade: D

Best Reason to Watch - Trubel kicks Wesen butt
Best Reason to Fast Forward - everything Adalind
Best Return - Bud
Most Likely to be Pulled Straight from Fan Fiction - Juliette has to turn into Adalind and have sex with Nick
Worst Foreshadowing - HexenMom says she won't be there much longer. Say it isn't so. She's this season's Trubel, the one character that can reinvigorate the series.
Biggest Hypocrite - Bud, who goes off on his friend for not being able to keep a secret when the only reason he knew was because Bud couldn't keep a secret
Best Twist - there is a whole litter of bad guys
The "Channeling My Best Inner Robin Williams' Genie" Award - Tell him the Truuuuuuuutttthhhhh! And get this stupid subplot of hiding things from Wu over with once and for all.
The "Hey It's That Guy" Award - Josh Porter, who I barely remember from The Inheritance episode, is back. Why exactly was he only briefly seen in the previouslies? It sounds like he is actually going to be part of the mytharc so it would have been nice to have a refresher.
Best Quotes -
1. Rosalee: "Maybe think of it like wearing a costume." Nick: "A costume of a woman who tried to kill me."
2. Trubel: "I've been thinking. I can understand why you don't want to be like me anymore, but I'm not sure I should stay here if I'm the only Grimm." Nick: "Listen, Trubel…" Trubel: "If I stick around, I'll only be putting you in danger. You and Juliette are safer without me. You can't have a normal life if I'm here."

About the Author - Dahne
One part teacher librarian - one part avid TV fan, Dahne is a contributing writer for SpoilerTV, where she recaps, reviews, and creates polls for Sleepy Hollow, White Collar, Grimm, Teen Wolf, and others. She's addicted to Twitter, live tweets a multitude of shows each week, and co-hosts the Sleepy Hollow "Headless" and Teen Wolf "Welcome to Beacon Hills" podcasts for Southgate Media Group. Currently she writes a Last Week in TV column for her blog and SpoilerTV. ~ "I speak TV."
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