By Arturo R. García
I want to keep rooting for Wayne Brady. But while (rightly) defending himself against Bill Maher’s lazy accusations on Monday on HuffPost Live on Monday, Brady chose to travel an equally low road.
By Kendra James
I watched the season premiere of Girls last week deciding that–after a good hour or so of snark directed in Dunham’s direction on Twitter– I’d pretend I didn’t know any of the drama swirling around the show. Why? Well, I only made it four episodes into Season One of Girls, less because of my offended sensibilities and more because I was just bored. The show bored me–and before you say anything, my addiction to Showtime and FX hour-longs proves that I’m capable of enjoying TV without vampires, werewolves, and witches, okay?
Anyway, I was bored with last season but I was willing to make a concession: given how I felt about the show’s…well, everything…was I really going to judge it fairly? Probably not. So Season 2 was going to get the benefit of the doubt.
And the first two episodes have!
But, Joe, I’m still bored.
By Joseph Lamour
Did you have a good weekend? I hope you did. Mine was pretty great: friends, karaoke, laughter, moderately priced alcohol, and other 20-something stereotypes…Instagramming, there was definitely a lot Instagramming. So… Is it as foggy in New York as it is in Washington, DC right now? Because I’m feeling a little like I’m trapped in that Lana Del Rey video. Anyway…
I just wanted to break the ice before our season-long foray into talking at length about Lena Dunham’s Girls. I know, Kendra: the idea of Lena and Lena’s television program and requiring you to watch Lena and Lena’s television program for the site is a less than thrilling idea for a lot of people…and even less than less for entertainment writers like us who are attuned to TV stereotypes and diversity shortages. None of us were thrilled about the whole debacle last year. There was quite an article about it on the site, as you know—you wrote it, after all.
So, Kendra, I’ve watched the first episode of Season 2 already. I’ll let you know what I’m thinking, and I’ll wait for a reply with your own thoughts. We’ll be kind of like pen pals who are super-focused on talking about something neither is particularly fond of. Kidding, of course… sort of.
To the topic at hand!
Plot spoilers below the cut. You’ve been warned…
By Joseph Lamour and Kendra James
The New Normal has no shame left, is what I was thinking during the whole episode. In this week’s episode, Shania (played by the ever-so-cute Bebe Wood) had to come up with an influential woman to cover for a presentation recital–do these actually happen? I’m actually curious–and perform the speech in front of the parents at school. And, boy, did she perform…because she chose Cher. Walking up to stage in a hot pink war bonnet–I don’t want to even start with that again right now because, when she starts to sing, it gets worse…
King Russell, We Hardly Knew Ye
Alea: Well…the end of Russell Edgington was rather anti-climactic. Though I’m tickled that Eric got to have the kill, Russell was one of the few interesting characters/storylines/anything going on this season.
Joe: They have a weird habit of resolving plots for the sake of a cliffhanger. It stinks of gimmick. Not a fan. Where is the epic battle climaxed by a surprising victory? Sam goring the maenad (something that still makes me cringe to this day) comes to mind. How I wish Russell went out like that.
Tami: Russell deserved better than that. It makes me wonder why they bothered to bring Denis O’Hare and the character back only to play second fiddle to Lilith and then to be staked unceremoniously in the middle of a Bond Villianesque monologue.
Kendra: It was a season of questionable casting choices, really, given the same thing happened with Christopher Meloni. There were plenty of other members of The Authority I would have rather seen killed off first, other than those two. Russell’s character also just changed so much from his arc in S3. I guess some of that could be chalked up to him having been dead, but he went from a genuinely scary villain that I could take seriously to something of a joke. Especially with his faerie obsession send-off.
(Hi, y’all. I’m caught up, finally– turns out this season goes down a little better when you just watch everything in one giant chunk.)
Tami: Also an improvement: watching the show through HBO Go with interactives turned on. I’ll be doing more of that next season.
Alea: “Are you really this undisciplined?” The Eric/Nora chemistry in this scene is great–evocative of what their older brother/little sister dynamic must have been through the ages and how it’s changed now that Eric has essentially pulled an Angel and grown himself a soul. Also, this petulant, impatient, slightly bratty, but ultimately reasonable Nora is entirely endearing and maybe the first bit of her I’ve enjoyed all season. Sad that Lucy Griffiths wasn’t really allowed to show some range until the finale.
Seal Team Six They Ain’t
Tami: Is there anything on Earth more ineffectual than The Authority’s security team? They routinely fail to…y’know…secure anything. They are comically easy to kill. And dude drew his weapon as defense against Fly Sam.
Kendra: Note, the older red-headed member of The Authority knew they were in lockdown looking for any flies or strange-looking bugs, yet, when trying to corral Luna-as-Steve into the interview room, she wasn’t concerned at all. Good job, that’s how you get exploded from the inside out.
Joe: For how scary the Authority was presented, they were all killed as quickly as that oldest faerie was. How do these main characters survive in a world of exploding vampires and disintegrating faeries?
Alea: Bill chasing Sam-in-fly-form is totally how I feel chasing centipedes around my apartment, with a bit more squealing.
Hot Emo Viking Vampires!
Alea: Oh shit. Eric’s little cave of domestic and foreign currency is mountainous! And, really, Nora’s going to throw shade over Pam being a “former prostitute?” The look on her face when Tara talks back to Eric is priceless, but does anyone else think it’s strange that being vampire family automatically makes Eric’s past wrongs vis-a-vis Tara seemingly forgotten?
Tami: Alea, apparently. Though I’m glad to hear somebody finally say “Be nice to Tara.”
Alea: Why is Sookie dressed like she’s going to a Sunday School prom, again? Aaaand Jason sees his parents full-time now?
Kendra: Everyone has to have a power.
Tami: These Stackhouse phantoms are going to become tiresome.
Alea: Dear gods, Eric seems super-emotional–for Eric–about the possibility of Bill “losing himself.” I wonder where their bromance is going to go from here.
Tami: I want the Eric who gave no fucks about anyone (save maybe Pam) back. I’m no fan of Emo Eric, especially if he’s going to waste his new-found emotions on Bill Compton.
Kendra: Between his Godric visions and the reappearance of Nora, I doubt we’ve seen the last of Emo Eric.
Alea: Tara is super Pam-centric so far this episode. I think romance is in the air! Why is Jason holding a honeybear? “If I wanna be a fool, then I will be a fool. That is my god-given right as an American”–thanks for clearing up what this whole damn season’s been about [though “American” can be replaced with “faerie,” “werewolf,” “vampire,” and any other number of nouns].
Alea: Bill is much more believable as the smooth and cunning master of political intrigue than he is as a general rallying the troops.
Tami: “…our human livestock…”
Alea: Yes, Pam, all roads must lead to fucking Sookie.
This Is How Skynet Disposes Of Old Models
Alea: While this convo between Alcide and T-1000 doesn’t quite do it for me, it does tie up all of the various storylines about the difficulties of contemporary parenthood that have popped up this season–Holly and her boys, the deceased Stackhouses and Jason and Sookie, Luna and Emma, Godric and his progeny, Pam and Tara, Bill and Jess, Andy’s unintentional fatherhood.
Tami: Can Robert Patrick get some sort of career award for portraying shifters?
Raise your hand if you think Papa Herveaux–with a shower and shave–is actually hotter than his pup.
Alea: Rikki = the Faces of Death?
Alea: “That train has already sailed.” Indeed, Jason. He’s kinda making sense, but he also seems crazy as eff.
Alea: I love that Steve had Emma for, like,two seconds before sitting for a family photo with her and Russell. He was so, so hungry for love and companionship.
Tami: I am as unimpressed by FlyVision as I am by 3D. They both make me kinda woozy.
Haven’t we already done Jason as anti-vampire bigot?
Kendra: That’s really the only other option for humans on this show, it seems. You’re either 100% behind Sookie and her drama or you’ve got some sort of anti-vamp and/or racism thing going on.
Cajun Margaritas? Is There Filé Powder In That?
Alea: I actually do want to know what hell is in a “Cajun margarita,” and why does it taste like candy? Cajun flavors typically include black and cayenne peppers, bell pepper, [green] onion, parsley, bay leaf, and celery. You can’t just call shit “Cajun” because it’s made in Louisiana.
Kendra: Ask and ye shall receive: 2 tbs. coarse salt, 1 lime wedge, 3 oz. white tequila, 1 oz. triple sec, 2 oz. fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp. green Tabasco sauce, 1 cup crushed ice.
Uh, not that this would be anywhere near as pink as whatever Lafayette brewed up, but enjoy!
Alea: The color is indeed off and I still don’t understand why it’s anything like “candy.”
Tami: Dear Nelsan Ellis (aka Lafayette), you are doing too much. I love you, baby. But all the dipping, dialect, and general sassiness has taken a dangerous turn into Mammy territory. I know the writers gave you shit to work with this season, but seriously…stop it.
Alea: So. Much. Cosign. The outfit, the lashes, the turban, the swag–all fierce, but can we have Laffy doing something besides making shit for white folks when Merlotte’s is closed?
Tami: Also, Arlene: “What is this music?” Come one, now. No way this woman is so culturally illiterate that classic R&B is some foreign exoticness.
Alea: Seriously, Miss Bodehouse. Andy Bellefleur did get super hot this season. Looooove Maurella’s style.
Dr. Stackhouse Is In
Alea: New spinoff: Jason Stackhouse, Relationship Counselor. He’ll be like a cross between Dr. Phil and Dan Savage with a dash of nihilism.
Alea: I am just realizing where I’ve seen the actress who plays Rosalyn Harris–General Hospital!
Tami: I would totally be down with having kids if you can guarantee me an experience like this.
Alea: So, wait. The “Cajun margaritas” that were allegedly delicious are sitting on the bar mostly full and Ar-Laffy have moved on to shots?
Alea: I thought Alcide’s former/now-current pack was larger than this? Where is everyone else?
Tami: Count JD as another character dispatched a little too easily. For all the angst this season, you would think we would at least see an actual fight.
Kendra: I’d like to think that the writers realised what I spent most of the season thinking: the plot drags whenever we suddenly switch over to the werewolf story, which has nothing at all to do with what’s going on in Bon Temps. So why spend any time there at all? I get that this is probably leading to some Alcide-as-a-V-addict-and-pack-leader storyline for next season, but not having it tie back in the end to Bon Temps in some way kind of leaves it just…hanging. Especially with Russell dead now.
Alea: Sam shifting inside of Rosalyn, FTW. Luna threatened to out all of the other supes earlier in the season. The implications for her shifting on live television are going to be crazy.
Alea: Nora is some kind of stake-throwing Robin Hood.
Kendra: Well, the actress did play Maid Marian, hah.
Alea: Ah! Very cool.
Move Over Brangelina And Make Room For Tam
Alea: I think Pam’s underwear evaporated when Tara said she came to bust her out. Kristin Bauer can sure do a lot with her eyes. They’re so gonna do it.
Alea: “Do you honestly think you understand the system I helped design better than I do?”–so timely and straight out of Rebecca Solnit’s “Men Explain Things to Me.”
Alea: I knew it!! I effing knew it!! Yes, I know that having Tara fall for her kinda racist mom and/or having Pam hide her growing love for Tara behind mindless racist comments is incredibly problematic, but I’ve been waiting for a Tam make-out session all season! They’re the fiercest, most aesthetically pleasing ladies on this ridiculous show, and, being the simple lass that I am, I really just want them to have lots of hot sex.
Tami: Cue the racist commentary of Tara-hating Truebies. From Vulture’s recap:
Pam and Tara
Nooooooooooooo. Look, I am ALL FOR HOT LESBIANS but these two have no chemistry. Honestly, like watching an unusually pretty Craigslist dominatrix tongue kiss one of the Williams sisters.
Yeah, someone wrote that shit. Sucks teeth.
Alea: Ugh! Ugh times infinity plus 1.’
(Like This Season Of True Blood, No?)
Alea: Silver in the blood. That’s cold, Bill.
Alea: Holy Grail, Rapture, Salome going out a tad Christ-like because of a betrayal. This storyline has gotten so heavy-handed. “Vicissitudes” is the name of a book of the Vampire Bible? Le sigh. Nobody’s buying what Sookie’s selling this episode. Not Jason and certainly not Bill.
Alea: That is some Terminator-like regeneration Bill has going on there.
Kendra: Can Lafayette, Holly, and Arlene play Tipsy Greek Chorus for every episode? That vastly improved my viewing experience.
Alea: I wasn’t really feeling it [well, except for Miss Bodehouse]. It felt more than a little hackneyed and forced considering that all of those characters have been in more nuanced and interesting scenes that challenge the actors playing them.
Post-Season Finale Breakdown:
Joe: I think I speak for everyone when I say: What in sweet fancy Moses was that?
Tami: I will love True Blood again if they promise that Bill will die next season. Nice turn making our former hero next season’s big bad–even though it took way too long and too many crooked pathways to get here. But if Bill is gonna be big and bad, then he needs to meet the same fate as Russell and Maryann and Salome and other villains. No redemption. By episode 12 of next season, someone needs to be playing “Dixie” over the goopy remains of Bill “Vampire Mopey Reb” Compton.
Alea: I agree, though I wonder if Bill will even last that long. Given the preview that came after the credits, I think Warlow might be next season’s big bad, not that there has to be just one [Warlow’s presence as the “greater” Evil might be used to bring Bill back to little-e evil or even good-ish]. If she and Jason survive the coming battle, Nora’s about to drop some inside knowledge on the Scoobs, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jason took a bullet from whatever the threat at the top of the stairs is. It looked like he was two seconds away from attempting to kill Tara, Pam, Jess, and Nora in the elevator, and I think that there will have to be something to bring him back into the fold and, perhaps, closer to Jess. His parents haven’t appeared to him at all since he stopped driving the truck, but I’m not sure if that means that they won’t be back and driving him toward the semi-reasonable extremism he’s tending toward [though, extremism might be slightly off — radicalism?]. All that said, this season was, on the whole, almost a total drag, and I’m not actually excited about next season. Morbidly curious about how the writers are going to climb out of this clusterfuck, but not edge-of-my-seat, keeping-up-with-leaks-during-filming, effing rabidly psyched. The brand has lost its lustre.
Kendra: I’m looking forward to hate-watching a new season of Glee more than I’m looking forward to season 6 of True Blood.
More interaction between Nora and Eric, more Lafayette in general, and Pam and Tara’s relationship are the only three things that left me even wanting another season of the show to begin with.
I want this writers’ room to learn how to streamline. I’m not sure next season works if there are two vampire Big Bads, so I’d agree. Let’s put Bill out of his misery. Let’s also not bring Hoyt back (I was shocked to see the show actually get rid of a character). Let’s let Terry and Arlene lead a normal life. Let’s not introduce any more characters. Oh, and also, let’s not have those four babies of Andy’s suddenly show up as teenagers (which, for some reason, I’m suspecting is going to happen. Fae biology and all). Seasons 1-3 of this show were entertaining, if problematic, and it could go back to that if it just stopped trying to do so much.
Alea: Those fae quadruplets are so going to get SORASed. Good catch, Kendra.
Finally! Some action. Two more episodes and the plot is starting to rise from the grave. Joe, Tami, Alea, and Carly join in our latest episode of “Decipher That Plot Point!”
Alea: This scene is seriously like a nightmare come true. Imagine if every creepy jerk in town suddenly gained the power to eat you. [Shudder.]
Tami: Also, regarding the cold open, wouldn’t it have been easier for Sookie to just rescind Coroner Mike’s invitation rather than impaling him on a chopstick? I can barely pick up a spicy tuna roll with chopsticks and Sookie is strong and dexterous enough to pierce flesh and bone with hers. I guess it’s the fae blood.
Joe: I’m assuming wood goes in a vampire like a hot knife through butter. Just grossed myself out.
Carly: Also all the chopsticks I get would’ve broken in my own freakin’ hand before making its way through clothing and flesh. That’s some high-quality product! Continue reading
By Arturo R. García
In case you were wondering, nope, it doesn’t seem like Lena Dunham’s listened to the critiques from earlier this year.