Orphan Black – “Transitory Sacrifices Of Crisis”

April 27, 2015

Season Three, Episode Two

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Grade: B+

After the season three premiere picked up where we left off and explored the story of Project Castor, we slowed down the pace in “Transition Sacrifices of Crisis.” This is when Orphan Black is at its strongest; When the show is able to focus in on specific characters and singular story-lines, without letting the twisty mythology weigh down every scene. That being said, it’s crazy to think how much the show has changed since its first season. The number of characters has sky-rocketed, so we know we can’t see every character each week. This week we’re without Rachel and Delphine but we do get to see Cal and Paul.

But let’s start with Rudy and Seth, two brothers from Project Castor who deeply care for one another. Unlike Project Leda, these Castor brothers have been brought up together with military values, which is why they all have that soldier-look and feel to them. If anything they’re a little bit too close, as the poor girl would admit from the beginning scene. As we’ve spent two seasons with the Project Leda clones, we’re not given a lot of time to learn about the Project Castor clones before they’re driven right in the middle of the plot. That being said, I’m still not exactly sure what they’re after and how Paul plays into the whole thing.

What’s interesting is how everyone is looking for the same thing, which is the original genome sequence that the Duncans apparently had. Cosima and Scott talk to a Dyad doctor who tells them this, more than anyone has told them before. We also learn that Rudy and Seth are looking for the original genome sequence too because Seth is “glitching” and they’re desperate for some answers. So desperate in fact, that Rudy breaks into Felix’ loft and points a gun at Kira to force any information out of Sarah. The problem here is that she doesn’t know anything. They should be barking up Cosima instead, but I’m sure they’ll figure that out eventually. Seth glitches uncontrollably in the middle of  a fight with Cal and Rudy puts him out of his misery with two bullets in the chest.

This brings up a few thoughts about all of this. The Castor clones know that Sarah is valuable, but still are under orders from Paul. So they can’t hurt Sarah, but why did Rudy let Cal off the hook? It seemed like a real convenient way for Michiel Huisman to be killed so he can continue to do the nasty with Daenerys on Game of Thrones, but immediately after they roll out a story-line where Cal and Kira are going away from all the madness to protect the little girl. It was a nice, emotional moment for Tatiana Maslany to play and it definitely paid off. But with Kira gone, now it’s finally time to get down to business!

Meanwhile, Cosima is feeling better though no one really knows why. It’s nice how her and Scott are getting closer with Delphine out of the way, but I still don’t know if I trust that he knows about the book. As for Alison, her and Donnie always provide a good amount of comic relief for the episode. This time around, Alison needs money and decides to go into the pill-dealing business that her dealer is leaving behind for college. Yes, it feels like Weeds, but hey, I’ll watch the Hendrix deal pills all day long over Nancy Botwin.

There is still a lot for me to understand with Orphan Black, but for now it’s certainly a thrilling ride to be on. While the show will always be at least somewhat about who you can and cannot trust, this season we’re diving into what much the sisters of Project Leda and the brothers of Project Castor mean to each other. After all, they’re clones and those clones got to stick together, right? Are we headed to a clones vs. humans war?! Probably not, but then again I have no clue what’s going to happen next.

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Game of Thrones – “The House of Black and White”

April 20, 2015

Season Five, Episode Two

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Grade: B+

Power. It’s what everyone wants in Game of Thrones, but only one person can rule at a time. At this very moment, it seems like Daenerys is the most powerful in Mereen with the Unsullied (though without her dragons she loses a lot of points). Her power is why we’ve been spending so much time with her in the early going of the fifth season. It’s also the reason why Varys and Tyrion feel it’s important to travel to her. Does she really have what it takes to rule? We get a glimpse of that in this episode.

As ruler, one must always make difficult decisions that can be crucial to keeping order. There is no doubt that Daenerys is good at heart and wants the best for the world and the people who live in it, but when she has to be tough she can often let her emotions get in the way of her judgement. By all means, her decision to execute Mossador makes sense to continue the law and justice she’s trying to enforce, but he murdered the man who killed an Unsullied. Mossador has always been one of Daenerys biggest supporters, but she’s trying her best to unify the former slaves and the masters. I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible, but that’s not going to stop her from trying.

Meanwhile, Stannis rules with the way of fear. He’s tough. He knows that he’s tough and everyone else around him knows it too. It’s his fearlessness that forces people to follow him and have his way. Once you appear weak, the people will no longer respect and follow you. It’s a similar approach to how Tywin ran things, but we all saw where that got him. At the Wall, Stannis wants to promote Jon Snow away from Castle Black and as his adviser of the North as Jon Stark. He never intends to accept the offer, but is surprised when the Night’s Watch nominates him as the new Lord Commander. It was a great scene that turned Snow’s misfortunes into fortune very quickly.

As for Cersei, she’s doing her best to act the role of ruler at King’s Landing, but without much success. We all know her son isn’t fit to rule anything anytime soon, but she’ll also never have the respect of the council nor the people despite her royal name. That doesn’t leave her with much options, but for now she is most definitely the acting ruler. As for Jaime, he’s off with Bronn to Dorne to try and bring Myrcella back. Personally, I cannot wait to see more of their adventure together.

Finally, Arya gets invited into The House of Black and White with Jaqen H’gar, which should be the start to a very exciting future. What’s in store for her in Braavos? I honestly have no idea, but it’s good to know she still remembers the people she wants to kill. Oh, and that she got her coin back.

Last but not least:

– Poor Brienne. No one wants her on their side. Sexist pigs! But no, it’s the Starks who don’t trust her, which is that much more frustrating. At least she saved Podrick so we can follow them following Sansa.

– I’m still surprise how Petyr Baelish is still around and relevant. But what’s his endgame with Sansa?

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Mad Men – “Severance”

April 7, 2015

Season Seven, Episode Eight

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Grade: B+

And we’re back for the last seven episodes of Mad Men, and like AMC is saying this is truly the end of an era. So what’s new with our SC&P characters? It’s 1970 and SC&P has been bought out by McCann, which means the partners are filthy rich. We see that in an early scene at the diner when Roger leaves a $100 bill for a check that was only $11. According to the Internet, $100 in 1970 is about $600 today. Not like these guys needed more money, but now they’re practically swimming in it.

That diner scene is an interesting one, because it’s clear that Don and Roger have returned to their old ways of living with their snarky attitudes, women hanging on every arm, and plenty of cash to throw around. But Don keeps his eyes on the waitress, Diane, and asks if they ever met before. He’s intrigued by a memory that involves her, but he can’t place it. Meanwhile, Don seems like he’s enjoying being single again as he spends the night with a beautiful woman at his apartment. He doesn’t even allow red wine spilled on the carpet, or one of Megan’s old earrings under the bed to derail his mood. In a way, Don Draper is back.

Back in the office, Peggy and Joan meet with Topaz Pantyhose to explain that their line of tights are being squashed by the cheap, easily accessible product by Hanes. When Don is asked, he suggests they simply rebrand and sell the product in Macy’s stores. Is it really that easy to do? This is coming from the man who changed his identity, so for him maybe it is. Draper has a dream of another woman at casting, but this time it’s Rachel Menken, one of his earliest love interests in Mad Men. The dream obviously affects him and when he attempts to get in contact with her, he learns that she recently passed away from leukemia.

This somehow makes Don revisit the diner to get in touch with the waitress, who has some qualities that resemble Rachel. Don doesn’t know exactly what he’s searching for, but it ends up with them hooking up in the back alley of the diner. Diana considers this as the repayment for the $100 left before, but Don is more confused than ever. He eventually drops by Rachel’s shiva to pay his respect, but her sister Barbara is clear that he’s not wanted and that Rachel didn’t need him in her life. Once again, Don leaves confused.

“Severance” takes us along Don’s concern that he might not have lived the life he wanted to. He’s been married twice and divorced twice, a fact that pains him to admit as he hides behind his parade of beautiful women. Maybe somewhere between his marriages there was a woman whom he truly loved, but let get away. When you cut ties with people or things, there will be plenty of room for regret when you’re not happy. As for Don Draper, he looks like he’s living the dream, but looks can be deceptive. Take a look deep into his eyes, past the cigarette smoke and the alcohol buzz, and also past the fake smile and the expensive suit. What do you really see when you look at Don Draper?

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The episode also takes a look at Peggy and how she temporarily sees her life beyond her work. She’s a fun, free-willed woman who doesn’t have a problem with flying to Paris with a man she just met (aside from how she can’t find her passport). But all of that fades away when she returns back to the real world where she works too hard for too long to watch her colleagues (who she probably has more talent than) flaunt their riches in front of her. But she’s a fighter and she’ll always be, except for when she really discovers what she’s fighting for.

As for Ken, his severance is quite obvious. His father-in-law has just retired and then Ken gets fired because of a past spat with McCann. After his small tantrum, he realizes this is an opportunity, not a failure, and is rewarded by taking over the advertising department of his father-in-law’s company. Just as Pete put it, they’re screwed.

What does this all mean for the final episodes of Mad Men? Is it going to take the approach of showing how everyone’s story will be branching away from SC&P? Will it dive into Don’s life and the life he will be living towards? Or will it just be another month in the life of these men and women who all are missing something in their lives, and cannot figure out how to obtain it?

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Will James Corden Last?

April 2, 2015

If you’ve been following my blog at all for the past couple of years, you’ll know that I loved The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. In my opinion, he was the most natural when it came down to hosting late night television. I’m not saying he was the most comfortable, because all of the veterans are comfortable at doing what they do. I’m saying that he had a flow about him where everything that was going on felt like a conversation you were eavesdropping on. It was great and something I thoroughly enjoyed watching every single night.

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When CBS announced that James Corden would be replacing Ferguson, my first thought was, “Who?” But then I watched Into the Woods and Mr. Corden was great in it. I then watched a few interviews he did and I immediately thought, “Boy, he is likeable!” Corden has this boyish charm that is infectious, which is a great thing to have in late night television. So I was set up in my bedroom, eagerly awaiting for James Corden’s first show as the new Late Late Show host. Just like everyone’s first time, Corden was nervous and the show was slightly bumpy, but overall it was very satisfying.

There are several things that Corden is doing to try and be unique in the late night world. Here are a few:

1. His Opening Monologue.

So far, it seems as though Corden isn’t exactly embracing the typical joke-after-joke-after-joke routine that every late night host partakes in. Even Ferguson, who disguised his jokes very well in a fluid and zany way, told a dozen or so jokes every night. Instead, Corden has been concentrating on one issue, and going on a rant about it. He talked about how there were reports that California will be out of water in a year, and he also explained why the idea of selling draft beer at gas stations is a terrible thing. This isn’t a bad idea, but he hasn’t really been able to fully keep me engaged in his monologue yet. Maybe I’ve developed late night ADD, because while Corden delivers some funny jokes, the way he elaborates on the topic becomes dull fairly quickly.

2. His Interview.

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Corden seems very personable, so what’s better than having him interview celebrities without that bulky desk between him and his desk? I love this and just having him sitting right next to his guests on the same level allows him to engage in a more conversation-like interview somewhat like Ferguson (though Corden still reads off questions on his cards instead of ripping them up). In addition, Corden has all of the guests come down at the same time, which has been good and bad thus far. It’s good when the celebrities can get along with each other and still allow Corden to do his hosting duties. Having Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis sitting next to each other for the first show was great. They all laughed and everyone was into the conversation.

Unfortunately, it has backfired more times than it has worked. As he interviewed Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart at the same time, there were moments when the two guests were just cracking jokes and talking on their own, almost forgetting that Corden was there with them. In addition, Corden has been rolling out three guests at a time, something that (in my opinion) has not worked. With three guests, it’s not likely they’re all going to get along and too often does Corden have to talk to each one separately, leaving the other guests to show off a fake smile and twiddle their thumbs until its their turn. The idea is fine, but it’s going to need some tweaking to work.

3. The Band.

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The Late Late Show has a band! This is something Ferguson always mocked since he never had a band. In addition to the live band, Reggie Watts is the leader and plays as Corden’s sidekick… think of Watts as the Paul Shaffer to Letterman. While it’s great there is a live band to add more energy into the show, the comedy of Watts is much different than the comedy of Corden. Their dynamic has not panned out quite yet and I’m afraid it’s not going to work until one of them switches their style up. Watts provides a very strange, odd-ball type of dry humor while Corden is more mainstream, friendly humor. Because of the difference, you rarely see the two of them interact during the show, aside from Reggie Watts’ question to the guest. This was a risk that might not pay off.

4. Games

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We all know about all the games Jimmy Fallon plays on his show with his guests. Corden is attempting to follow suit with his own games with the guests, but seriously what can Corden do to top Catchphrase, flip cup, and the lip sync battle? So far, his games have fallen flat. Recently, he had his three guests (Tom Lennon, Matthew Perry, and Aubrey Plaza) guess the correct Google search results from a number of made up results. It was mildly funny but overall it didn’t work. His best game so far was with Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. Both actors couldn’t hear each other and were reading off scripted answers-question cards, seeing if they would read a match. Some of the results were pretty funny, but I think what made it funnier than it should’ve was the actors, not the game.

In conclusion, James Corden should have a pretty loose leash on his run as Late Late Show host. He’s young, he’s energetic, and it’s really hard not to like him. He’ll still need to work out a bunch of things that aren’t working on his show, but it’s all a work in progress. For now, I’m excited to see how he grows as a host and I look forward to watching the Late Late Show for years to come.


Better Call Saul – “Pimento”

March 31, 2015

Season One, Episode Nine

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Grade: A-

Boy, if things haven’t been bad enough for poor Jimmy McGill, things just got a lot rougher for him. Already one of the strongest characters who we feel bad for every episode, the penultimate episode in season one dropped a bomb on everything that Jimmy has believed in since he was younger. His own brother, Chuck McGill, the prestigious lawyer and idol to Jimmy, doesn’t even respect his younger brother. Jimmy has been knocked around a number of times before, but this is the biggest blow in his life.

Let’s back things up a bit and concentrate on the events leading up to all of this. The McGill brothers are taking on Sandpiper for a multimillion dollar lawsuit that spans across several states, and for everything that they’ve already dug into, things look very promising for the McGill brothers. Then the lawyer-ing comes in and the Sandpiper lawyers begin to slow the process down by throwing boxes upon boxes of paperwork their way, something that Jimmy and Chuck must go through. Sure, they could do everything by themselves but like Chuck put it, two people can’t build a bridge. Jimmy realizes the uphill battle they have and agree with Chuck to bring the case to HHM.

Up until this point, it was Howard Hamlin who has been standing in Jimmy’s way of working with his brother in the law firm, but at the end of the episode we find out that it’s been Chuck’s doing all along that has been keeping Jimmy from landing a job. It’s certainly a trick that has paid off from excellent writing since the beginning of the season. Patrick Fabian has been playing Howard as a weasel, someone who seems to have a stick up his ass and who hates Jimmy for some reason. But as Chuck erupts at Jimmy, he explains to him that he’s not a real lawyer and he’ll always be a crook, and a crook cannot change. After working hard and devoting a large part of his life to achieving everything he has, Chuck couldn’t bear to see Jimmy with an office in the same firm after taking shortcuts. Does he have a point? I guess he does, but he shouldn’t have been dragging him along all this time. There was still honor left for Chuck if he would’ve told Jimmy how he felt long ago, but after everything Jimmy has done for the older brother he looked up to, this is inexcusable.

Meanwhile, Mike’s B-story shows us what kind of work he’s doing for the veterinarian. Everything that we see from Mike this episode reminds us of why he loved him so much on Breaking Bad. He provides a dog for Kaylee. His quiet demeanor pisses off one of the “bodyguards” until he shows everyone why he’s the real tough guy on the show. His job this episode was to be the muscle for a nervous guy who’s about to sell Nacho a lot of pills. Everything runs smoothly, which Mike anticipated and he gets a nice $1,500 payday for his work. While Mike’s story is a lot of fun to watch, his conversation with the man is what makes it important. Mike explains to him that though he’s now a criminal, it’s up to him whether he’s a good or a bad guy. This is something that Jimmy has been going through with his life. After the stunts he pulled as Slippin’ Jimmy, he’s been trying to atone for his actions by remaining a good and loyal person. He could’ve taken the money from the Kettlemans, but he gave it all back. He could’ve allowed Tuco to kill the skateboarding idiots, but he talked him out of it. Unfortunately to Chuck, it doesn’t matter how many good things he does, he’ll always be Slippin’ Jimmy.

So how’s Jimmy going to respond to this? It sure doesn’t look like he’s going to be talking to Chuck anytime soon, and if anything he has another enemy to fuel his fire. The only person on his side is Kim. It’s a lonely road ahead for Jimmy, but if he takes the deal then he’ll at least have a bunch of money to spend figuring out if he still wants to pursue this whole lawyer thing. Wouldn’t it be funny if he somehow joins the Sandpiper team just to spit in Chuck’s face?

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The Walking Dead – “Conquer”

March 30, 2015

Season Five, Episode Sixteen

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Grade: B

The Walking Dead still has a problem. I’m fascinated by how many people watch and love this show, because to me it’s really not much more than just a guilty pleasure. There are zombies, there are people doing everything they can to stay alive, and that’s pretty much it. The acting is mediocre at best, the writing is often questionable, but the real meat of why people keep coming back to The Walking Dead is because of its thrilling scenes. I’ll admit, TWD knows how to really pump up the suspense and they cranked that all the way up for the finale.

What Worked:

We all knew that Glenn and Nicholas were going to have their showdown, but wasn’t it stupid that Glenn followed Nicholas into the woods after seeing him hop the fence? First, they hate each other, so knowing that Nicholas is a pathetic, dumbass, wouldn’t Glenn just pretend he didn’t see him hop the fence assuming he’s going to die? Second, what was Glenn’s plan when he caught up to Nicholas? “Hey dude! You shouldn’t be climbing that fence and running into the woods by yourself! Now let’s go back!” Whatever the reason, it was dumb because that’s what got Glenn shot (good thing Nicholas can’t aim for shit), and almost bit by a handful of walkers. Speaking of, how did Glenn escape that heart-pounding scene where he was wounded on the ground with a walker on top of him and at least two more within a few feet away?

Aside from Glenn reaffirming his status as a badass with a heart, the Daryl and Aaron story-line was great. The two have really bonded over the idea of recruiting new members into the community and both have each others’ respect as they track any nearby people. Just when they let their guards down, they fall into one of the Wolves’ traps and are surrounded by a hundred walkers. Things looked real bleak for these two characters, and for a moment I really believed that at least one of them wouldn’t make it out alive. Since they’ve been in Alexandria, Daryl’s importance has took a major hit, to the point where he hasn’t had much contact with Rick going crazy and Carol’s plan to overthrow the town. He’s been fixing bikes and following tracks with Aaron, so I questioned if this was the end of the road for the former Walking Dead MVP. Thank goodness that it wasn’t, because they were saved by…

Morgan! The opening scene with Morgan made me giddy like a teenie-bopper in line at a One Direction concert. TWD has been dropping teasers for the past year that Morgan would meet up with Rick for a reunion to remember, but his scenes of him tracking Rick on a map were too vague and far in-between. Still, he remained an anticipated commodity that we finally see in action during the finale. Last we saw Morgan in “Clear” he was a mess, still mourning his family and unable to come to terms with the world. Now, he’s at peace with it all but not without being able to kick some serious ass when he has to. On top of dismantling a couple of Wolves, he saves Daryl and Aaron from the herd of walkers. Morgan to the rescue!

What Didn’t Work:

Gabriel wants to commit suicide. It was strange to me how such an important scene where Gabriel is warning Deanna about Rick and company went practically undetected. Maggie heard the whole thing but didn’t bother to mention it to anyone? Anyway, Gabriel already threw his collar into the fire but since joining Alexandria he’s been back to the faith. Well not anymore, because Gabriel is “ready” to sacrifice himself to leave the cruel world that it has become. Isn’t this all a bit too much out of nowhere to insert into a season finale? We literally didn’t see Gabriel for two whole episodes once they reached Alexandria (seriously, not even in the background anywhere!) and we’re expected to be engaged in a subplot where he’s damaged and suffering from his faith? This only dragged the episode down.

What else didn’t work? The meeting. It seems pretty clear that Deanna and the residents of Alexandria want to throw Rick out of their community. Even though Deanna says they’re just meeting to talk, everyone from Maggie to Rick himself knows this fact. But is that really the big moment of the finale? A bunch of people sit around and talk about their feelings, especially Rick’s company who defend him to the very end? This would’ve been a great story-line to the penultimate episode, but not the 90-minute season finale. Sure, Rick made his point and saved the town from a few rogue walkers, which led to Pete’s death after killing Deanna’s husband. So Rick is in charge now? Is there any viewer who didn’t already believe this would happen?

Listen, there were plenty of great scenes in the finale, but as to moving the plot forward almost nothing happens. There wasn’t a big showdown between Rick’s people and Alexandria. Instead, we get a fight in the woods, a well-planned zombie trap, and in the final seconds we have our reunion of Rick and Morgan. Their dynamic is going to be counted on to carry the emotional dilemmas during the next episode. Morgan is at peace and doesn’t seem to be into killing, while Rick is literally killing his way to wherever he has to be. That should be a very interesting clash of beliefs.

And then there are the Wolves, a very dangerous group of people (not counting the two who let Morgan slip away) who are as demented as they come in this post-apocalyptic world. They’re going to present a very dangerous obstacle for our survivors in Alexandria. Can Rick teach them enough in time to defend the walls? Also, how many more times is Glenn not going to kill Nicholas? Overall, it was a good episode, but not a great finale.

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Seriously! How did Glenn walk away from this after he’s been shot in the shoulder and beat up?


The Americans – “Do Mail Robots Dream Of Electric Sheep?”

March 26, 2015

Season Three, Episode Nine

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Grade: A-

This season we’ve witnessed a bunch of gruesome and hard to watch scenes, such as Philip shoving a human body into a suitcase, having a tooth extracted from Elizabeth’s mouth, and lighting a man on fire. We’re used to these sort of things on The Americans, but what the show hasn’t really done much of thus far is providing true, emotional punches that hits straight to our hearts. In “Mail Robots” we get that scene and it’s heartbreaking.

Poor Betty, another person simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is something that Philip and Elizabeth both know because it comes with the territory at achieving the goal, which is what Elizabeth describes as “making the world a better place.” If they have to kill innocent people here and there for the greater cause, they don’t even second-guess themselves. Should they? Philip does a little bit, but he can be as tough as nails when he needs to. This time around it’s Elizabeth who knows that she can’t let Betty live, but what makes it so intense is how close Elizabeth gets to breaking.

Betty was a sweet, old woman who loved her family and enjoyed the quiet of late night to do her paperwork. Her and Elizabeth talk about their families, their relationships, and Betty’s sweet personality is certainly infectious. But my heart dropped that moment when Betty realized that she’s not going to live to see another sunrise. The great part about this scene is how you can tell Elizabeth is feeling something for this woman. Sure, there are ways that things need to be done when you’re a secret agent like she is, but in her own, ruthless way she was gentle with Betty. She allowed her to go out by swallowing pills, instead of shooting or choking her. My favorite part was the final seconds of Betty’s life when she left her sweetness behind and called Elizabeth evil. Can you blame her? Even when Elizabeth explains what she’s doing, Betty responds by saying that’s what evil people say. And if you distance yourself from a viewer who’s been watching Philip and Elizabeth the past few years, it’s easy to agree with Betty.

Phew, that was some powerful stuff. Plenty of other things happened in the episode, too. For one, Martha was quite giddy when she saw Clark next. Is she playing him for a fool? Like we need another double-agent huh? I personally don’t think Martha is savvy enough to trick Clark, but you never know. At least she postponed adopting a kid. There is also no new developments with Paige aside from her telling Henry to go to sleep. Just let him finish the video game, or else he’ll start breaking into houses again! Thank goodness there was no Kimmy in this episode.

And then there’s the Stan/Oleg collaboration. This is one story-line that I’m already tired of seeing and can certainly do without. They’re teaming up to try and get Nina out, but is that really necessary? One of them is bound to either get caught, or to trap the other. You have to assume Oleg would be the first to go because Stan is way too important in the show. I’m still waiting for the day when he discovers who Elizabeth and Philip really are, but I think that’s a final season story-arc.

Then we have the ending. The ending is extremely powerful and if you haven’t been on Team Philip yet, you will now. During another game of Scrabble, Philip drops two bombs on Gabriel. He tells him that he simply doesn’t trust him anymore (this is after Gabriel insisted that he and Elizabeth trust the organization) and that he’s going to do things his way to protect his family. Matthew Rhys acts the hell out of this scene and there’s no doubt in Gabriel’s mind that he means business. And about the other bomb? Well, Philip played a 59-point word. Boom!


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