REVIEW — Murder One, “Chapter One” (Pilot Episode)

 

I feel like I should start this review with an apology to the sponsor, Yair Rosenberg, because he was one of the very first to donate to my GoFundMe page and request a review, and yet I pushed it off until literally the next year. (Full disclosure: Yair is my brother so I can get away with stuff like that. Also, you should follow him on Twitter; I hear he’s funny sometimes. And he has a slight jewfro, which is always a plus.)

 

So, Murder One. Yair discovered this on Hulu (where it still currently resides, lurking) when I was in high school, and recommended it to me then. I in fact did watch several episodes and enjoyed them, but then somehow never followed through on the rest, and eventually I remembered almost nothing about it except my impression that there was an impressive lack of eye candy, which to me meant that it was clearly a really serious show with serious capital-A Acting, because the only people who can get away with not being eye candy on TV or in movies are capital-A Actors, like, I dunno, the guys in this show. (And comedians.)

 

Legit, that’s all I remembered. That and Stanley Tucci being in it. And Dylan Baker, better known to my brain as “that guy from other stuff.”

 

And upon rewatching, it turns out my recollection was kind of wrong? About the lack of eye candy, I mean. True, most of it is female — Kate Harper from The West Wing! Patricia Clarkson and her glorious hair! The older sister model! Other female defense attorney whose name I can’t remember! — but there is also that cute male defense attorney in the opening shot (clearly placed there strategically to keep shallow viewers like me from changing the channel in anticipation that he’ll be onscreen more) and now that I am older and wiser, I better appreciate Stanley Tucci as the attractive male specimen that he is, even with the balding hairstyle they let him have here.

 

Dat face.

 

I am also older and wiser in that I now have a much greater appreciation of why this is such a fantastic show, or at least a fantastic start to one. Because while I remember liking it the first time I watched it, I almost definitely did not evaluate it in the same terms that I did when I watched it earlier this week, and didn’t necessarily grasp what makes it so remarkable to present-day me.

 

And that boils down to: This is a pilot episode without a villain.

 

I have a weakness for fiction like that. A lot of my fiction doesn’t have villains, just people coming at life from different angles and making choices that are reasonable to them and clashing with each other because that is just the human condition. I just find it so much more compelling than your typical good vs. evil smackdown fights.

 

I’m sure this show will eventually have a villain (someone has to be the murderer, right?) but as of this episode, every character is likeable and sympathetic in some way (with one possible exception, which I’ll get to). The major ones that we’ve seen clearly have flaws, but they seem to have good sides too, and you understand them and you want to trust them, which is of course a great thing to have in a whodunit, which is, I presume, what this show will unfold into.

 

For instance, we have:

 

The main lawyer, Teddy — (Eye candy rating: 4ish out of 10) He has the unenviable, sometimes unscrupulous job of defending people who are varying degrees of guilty. And he does it really well, getting his clients off the hook even if they really did commit the crime they’re accused of *cough* Neil Avedon *cough* and probably don’t deserve to get off so easy. But he does have principles! The opening couple of acts reveal them to us — he has a line, a breaking point at which he will drop a client, and it’s pretty satisfying to see. He also has a wife and a daughter, and we see how gentle and caring he is with them. And of course, there’s this marvelous monologue he gives to a heckler in the bar, which is clearly the moral core of the show:

 

Do you think anyone in this bar believes you’ve got a full head of hair? We all know that’s a comb-over. But till you get so obnoxious you forfeit your right to civil treatment, no one here points it out. Think of the trial system like that. We know accused people aren’t always innocent. Maybe not even usually innocent. And even though we know that, we treat people like they’re innocent till they’ve had their shot in court. It makes us better people, it civilizes us to treat them that way. Civility is important. That’s why no one in here called you a self-deceiving fool till you opened your drunken mouth.”

 

 

The main detective, Polson — (Eye candy rating: 6/10, mostly for those baby blue eyes) This is a role that probably could have been done a lot more villainously had Dylan Baker chosen to play it that way. He could easily have decided to play Polson much more antagonistically with his tone and body language, and I’m glad he didn’t. He’s just a guy doing his job; he’s not trying to be hugely judgmental or frame an innocent person, but he has leads that he needs to follow up on and uncomfortable questions he needs to ask, and clearly has some hunches that he’s following. He makes a couple of smug remarks to Teddy about how he’s sure the suspect is involved “up to his hips” (which later proves to be true), but aside from that, he doesn’t seem to relish the unpleasantness of this case and what it’s doing to the people involved, so I like the guy.

 

The prime suspect, Stanley Tucci — (Eye candy rating: 8/10) You want to believe this guy didn’t do it. You really, really want to. Tucci just does such a great job seeming so sincere and upset, that even though you know he’s committed serial infidelity, and that he’s constantly withholding information from Teddy throughout the episode, you really really want to believe that he would never have killed anybody, much less a 15-year-old girl who viewed him a surrogate father figure. You want to believe he has his reasons for withholding whatever he’s withholding. You want to trust him. I REALLY HOPE HE DIDN’T DO IT, OKAY.

 

The victim’s sister — (Eye candy rating: 9/10) This is another instance of a character who we know has done things that are objectively objectionable — she’s having an affair with Tucci’s character, a married man — but since we see how much she cared about her sister when she breaks down at the photo identification, and given that we know she essentially had to raise her sister (perhaps resorting to prostitution at one point) because their parents are not in the picture, her character remains very sympathetic.

 

The suspect’s wife — (Eye candy rating: 7/10 because I love short hair) She only gets one brief scene in this episode and I don’t know if we’ll see her much later, but she had one very telling choice to make: whether or not to appear beside Teddy at the press briefing he’s holding in defense of her husband, Stanley Tucci. He’s not asking her to speak, just to be present and visible to imply support for her husband. She’s clearly very upset, because she knows her husband was having an affair with the victim’s older sister and that this will likely be public knowledge soon, and she appears to be on the fence about whether to show up at the briefing or not. Teddy pleads his case, and we see that she understands that not showing her support at this juncture will make Stanley Tucci look guilty, not just of infidelity, but of the girl’s murder, and as upset as she is, she doesn’t think he’s a murderer, and has the heart not to sabotage his case, even though it’s difficult for her to play the dutiful wife. I thought that was a very interesting character note, and I hope we see more of her.

 

 

The aforementioned one possible exception to this panoply of sympathetic characters is

 

Neil Avedon — (Eye candy rating: 8/10 for looks, 1/10 for personality) He is clearly a douchepants. And obviously not very trustworthy, judging from that scene where we see him pull out the puppy-dog face when we know he is anything but remorseful for the stunt he pulled (killing a swan, I think?). But the show thus far is painting him as douchey, not as evil. Mostly harmless, in the words of Ford Prefect. But is that a misdirect? Could that swan murder be foreshadowing a human murder? Could be! I HOPE IT’S HIM, GUYS.

 

There are also a bunch of minor characters like the other attorneys on Teddy’s team, and the subplot involving them vying to be second chair on the case does a good job establishing their personalities. And again, none of them do anything underhanded or vicious or anything like that. They behave passionately but professionally. These are likeable people, and I like that.

 

All in all, I think this was a great pilot. It’s very rare for a show to be able to introduce a complicated storyline AND a full cast of characters and get them all established this clearly, this quickly. I’m really looking forward to seeing the rest of this.

 

 

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REVIEW — Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

I’ve been working my way through all seven seasons of Deep Space Nine on Netflix on-and-off for the past 10 or so months. Because a girl’s gotta have goals, right? And guess what? I finished it this past weekend!

DS9 was my dad’s least-favorite Star Trek series. In practical terms, this means that we never had any old VHS tapes of recorded episodes (complete with commercials) lying around the house when I was growing up, whereas with every other Star Trek series, we had quite a few of those (although not necessarily of very good visual or story quality — I recall watching an incredibly grainy version of “The Lights of Zetar” once upon a time), plus a bunch of actual purchased VHSs and DVDs, not to mention the tie-in novels and other such goodies. But DS9, nope. I’d never seen an entire episode of it until I started watching it on Netflix lo those many months ago.

So I have to say, given how low my expectations were set, DS9 was a million times better than I thought it would be, though it did have some notable weaknesses. It also had some really wonderful strengths, mostly due to it being more serialized than other Trek series.

Strength #1: Character continuity and development.

This wasn’t necessarily taken as far as it could have been — there are certainly plenty of standalone episodes that are never referenced again and never have major consequences for the characters — but often I was very pleasantly surprised to see elements that I thought were one-off concepts return and be developed in interesting and relevant ways. I’m not going to give specifics because *spoilers* but there are quite a few, especially surrounding Dr. Julian Bashir.

And then there’s the fact that the characters themselves are given arcs and journeys that genuinely change them, bringing them to entirely new psychological territory between the beginning of the series and the end of it. The standouts to me in this area are the aforementioned Dr. Bashir, and Nog, the young Ferengi. Bashir starts out as a cocky, motor-mouthed, frankly annoying manchild, and evolves into a serious, idealistic, genuinely charming dude. (I’ll admit, by the end, I was quite fond of Julian Bashir.) Nog’s transformation is even more extreme — he starts as a stereotypical Ferengi: scheming, manipulative, irritating, an overall no-goodnik. He ends as the first Ferengi in Starfleet, a conscientious officer, even a war hero, and it all happens in a slow and natural progression that is convincing to watch.

Strength #2: Two words: Kira Nerys.

I have such a mad crush on this woman that I intend to write an entire post about her alone. Stay tuned.

Strength #3: Interesting, multidimensional villains.

This area could be especially spoilertastic, so I’m not going to go into much detail. Suffice it to say, very few villains do not switch sides in some way at least once, and sometimes the good guys can go bad, or at least go rogue. And not in the typical sci-fi, possessed-by-aliens way. Real, voluntary choices made under conflicting pressures. Good stuff.

There are of course many more strengths — if you’re a fan of serialized plotting with a huge big-picture arc that spans an entire series, you’ve definitely got a lot to sink your teeth into in DS9 — but those are my faves.

Now, the bad.

Weakness #1: Avery Brooks as Captain Sisko.

I hate to say it, but it was almost always painful to watch Brooks onscreen. Throughout the series, he is wooden, has very little range of expression with his face, he makes strangely deliberate-seeming choices with his movements and facial expressions that rarely feel organic, but worst of all is the way he has the character speak. He pauses in odd places, huffs out some of his words, emphasizes others unnecessarily, and just overall sounds like a bad, scripted actor who doesn’t know how to make the lines sound like something a real person would spontaneously say. It’s unbelievably distracting. The show is infinitely stronger when it focuses on characters other than Sisko, or on plots so strong that even his involvement can’t trip them up too much (“In the Pale Moonlight” is an ep that comes to mind in that department).

Weakness #2: Mysticism.

This section is pretty spoilery, so skip it if you don’t want any of that.

The show basically invents its own religion, practiced by the inhabitants of the planet Bajor, surrounding aliens that live in the wormhole right next to Bajor and the Deep Space Nine space station. The aliens are referred to by the Bajorans as “the Prophets” and the more we interact with them during the series, the more it seems that they are built on the God-concept of “powerful but limited beings with unfathomable motives and little concern or understanding of the average person’s day-to-day life, but with influence over the big picture.” I understand that this is certainly a God-concept in plenty of religions, but I find it hard to believe that the vast majority of Bajorans would be totally cool with this, and that the population is so united religiously. Then again, in Babylon 5, every alien race is portrayed as having one major religion, so maybe it’s just a sci-fi trope.

The bigger problem with this God-concept, though, is that the rules and limits regarding The Prophets are so vague that the writers can pretty much do whatever they want with them. Over and over and over again. It often feels like a cheat, and makes me wonder if a better story could have been told without the religious/mystical angle, because having it at their disposal means the writers can essentially use magic to solve their problems when they feel like it, instead of coming up with complex and satisfying solutions.

Weakness #3: Ferengi.

…Yeah, Ferengi can be really annoying, and there’s a lot of Ferengi stuff on DS9. Surprisingly it’s not bad all the time. DS9 actually made a few Ferengi-centric episodes that I found enjoyable. Quark is multi-layered character, thanks largely to Armin Shimerman’s nuanced performance, and the writers did give some character development to characters who initially seemed like they’d just be walking punchlines, like Rom and Nog. But yeah, sometimes Ferengi are just REALLY ANNOYING.

Those are my main pet peeves about the show. They can interfere with the enjoyment of quite a few episodes, unfortunately, and often the show seems to be great despite them, not because of them. But the show at its best is great, and at its worst is still pretty darn okay.

Rating: 4/5

A Much Too Personal Movie Review of the First Ten Minutes of “Fill the Void”

 

“Are – are you going to be all right?”

“You mean, like, ever?”

My date chuckles halfheartedly. “Well, at the very least, ever. But I meant more like, by the time you go to sleep tonight?”

I inhale shakily. Everything under my skin is still vibrating — not in the sexy-clichéd-romance-novel kind of way; in the stitched-together-ripping-apart kind of way. My stomach gives an ominous residual lurch. “I honestly don’t know.”

We’re sitting on a bench outside the Lincoln Center movie theater at dusk on a Sunday evening. The paths and other benches around the fountains and mini waterfalls are relatively deserted. It’s quiet, or maybe just quiet for New York City. My quiet barometers are probably not working terribly well, though.

 

*

 

I’m hesitant to call my reaction to the first ten or fifteen minutes of the indie drama “Fill the Void” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2219514/) a panic attack, not because I’m concerned about the stigma that might come with a loaded phrase like that, but because I don’t think the symptoms fit and I don’t want to belittle the severity of people’s actual panic attacks when my experience was probably a lot milder by comparison. No heart palpitations, no inability to breathe, no paralysis of thought, no actual panic or fear.

Just wave after wave of nausea sliming my insides, coating my throat, making it spasm. Shakes. Dizziness. Surges of heat under my skin that vanish, leaving me shivery.

It wasn’t pleasant, I’ll say that.

But if it had been a full-fledged panic attack, I don’t know that after rushing out of the movie, locking myself in a bathroom stall, crashing down on the toilet, trying not to hunch over lest I make the nausea worse, I would have been able to scoop up my phone and send a coherent, properly-spelled text to my very worried date:

“I think it’s a combination of physical and mental. That movie has a lot of emotional triggers for me, I didn’t realize – marriage, religion, claustrophobic/repressive culture . . . all hit me really hard.”

 

*

 

I should point out that we didn’t even get to the major plot development listed in the film’s summary: “A devout 18-year-old Israeli is pressured to marry the husband of her late sister” — my reaction was triggered solely from the film’s highly effective handful of setup scenes before the major crisis is even introduced.

I want to clarify that (a) every one of these scenes is brilliantly conceived and executed, and (b) they constitute my own personal horror show. I’m aware that the rest of the movie was probably a very good negation of the awfulness of these opening scenes, but we didn’t get that far. I should also clarify that I am not Hasidic, although my paternal grandfather was and some of my cousins are, and some of them are Yeshivish, which is also a very insular community with some fairly extreme marriage practices.

 

Sample scene: Young Hasidic girl in the supermarket with her mother. They’re both pretending to shop but really trying to get a look at the guy the girl has been betrothed to but never met. They can’t seem to find him, so they call someone, and are immediately told, “He’s in aisle 5.” (Or, “he’s in the produce section” – I don’t remember exactly.) They find him soon after and gawk from a distance. He looks singularly unimpressive: not particularly well-groomed or dressed, uninspired posture. Basically more or less like every other Hasidic male in the movie thus far. The girl does not seem bothered.

Two triggers in this scene: (1) The idea of marrying a total stranger, and (2) the fact that it’s not just one person presenting this as the norm but rather an entire network of people in this girl’s life (as evidenced by the phone call). I find these two things deeply, deeply horrific — tethering your entire life to someone you don’t know, and being told on all sides that this is the only option, and this is simply how it’s done, and having been kept naïve and sheltered enough not to question it.

I would love to say that this is foreign to me and I can’t imagine it ever happening to me or anyone else, but that would be a lie, for reasons brought out further in the next scene I’ll discuss, and because I know that dating before getting engaged in the circles I live in goes at a brisk pace. My Yeshivish cousins date for 2 or 3 weeks, generally, before the engagement. In my own, non-Yeshivish circles, 3 to 6 months is often fairly standard. Ten months to a year is an eternity, and very rare, unless the relationship began as high school sweethearts, in which case waiting longer was legally mandatory. Is 3 months enough time to get to know someone? Maybe. Maybe not. Everyone’s in such a rush to pair up for life that even I can’t help but feel the marriage pressure from the second I start dating someone new. I feel it much less when I’m not seeing anyone, and that’s an enormous incentive for me to never date. I’d much rather be single forever than get too involved with the wrong person just because of outside pressure. But obviously playing it safe because of pressure is just another way of letting yourself be pressured.

 

Sample scene: It’s the holiday of Purim, and at the Purim feast, the Rabbi is doling out charity money to those who ask. One man asks for money because, “My wife is mentally ill. I didn’t know that when I married her.” The rabbi gives him money, and when he protests that it’s not enough, he’s told whom to go to for more.

Triggers: (1) example of results of marrying a total stranger, (2) I have a Hasidic cousin who married a girl, had a child with her, and only then found out she was mentally ill because she stopped taking her medication. Her family had kept her condition under wraps, knowing full well that they were duping her husband. As far as I know, the custody battle is still going on, but nobody talks about it because it’s all so very scandalous and shameful and would force people to confront realities in their community that they don’t want to confront. (3) It’s all well and good that the man in the movie is receiving charity from the community to help him with this awful situation, but that’s a band-aid, and nothing is ever going to be said about the underlying cause: DON’T MARRY STRANGERS.

 

Sample scene: The girl’s pregnant sister talks briefly with her husband. Purim is the holiday of getting publicly wasted, and the sister immediately knows that her husband is drunk because he starts saying affectionate things to her. If he were sober, he’d never say a thing like, “I love you.” She says with a smile, “You’re drunk,” somehow manages convey an eye-roll without actually rolling her eyes, and walks away.

Trigger: THAT WHOLE THING. I have recently developed a personal, visceral fear of settling for a relationship where my partner is incapable of paying me a compliment. There are some people who, well, getting a compliment from them is like wrenching it out with pliers. I may have dated someone like that. I have also dated someone who is the exact opposite and I can’t imagine going back from that. But I have this way of listening to those voices in my head that say, “Come on, you can’t expect everyone to be so open about their thoughts and so willing to say nice things. People just aren’t conditioned that way. Especially men, sad as that is.” Just because they don’t say it doesn’t mean they don’t think it — if I got them drunk, maybe all that nice stuff would come pouring out. But maybe not. And I would hate to have a relationship like that.

 

*

 

I understand that when you’re a small minority group, you need to have an emphasis on marriage and children or else you’ll die off. But there has to be a better way.

I could easily have been born into that community. A little to the right on my family tree, and poof!

I wouldn’t have lasted. While I was watching, I felt like I was seeing a life that could have been mine, and I don’t think I would have survived it. I was the kind of kid who pitched a fit when my mom wanted all us kids to wear cute matching outfits. I can’t stand sameness. I can’t stand restrictions on my individuality. It makes me want to tear my skin off. I feel very sure that if I were indeed a part of that type of community, I would not have lived to be as old as I am now. I feel very sure that I’d have done something drastic to get out of it.

Ten minutes of that movie. Jeez.

 

 

 

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REVIEW: The Newsroom — Season 1 Episode 9 — “The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate”

At last, the eagerly anticipated conclusion to last week’s episode! (And by “eagerly anticipated,” I mean not. At all.) Let’s see if our intrepid crew will continue to be forced to report the news in ways they don’t like, and if I will magically start to care…

 

—   Quick recap: A) Will’s hired Mac’s ex to write a story about the show. B) the network is pressuring the show to report more tragedy porn, and they’re going along with it because they want to be able to do a mock debate later and they need to be in good standing with the network or they might not get the chance. C) Charlie has a Secret Contact at the NSA who says the world is ending because the government has too much power. D) Anthony Wiener scandal is in full swing (no pun intended). E) Before they had a chance to tape a tragedy porn show, the power went out, hence “blackout.”

—   Power is still out.

—   Mac is being sappy and speechy about how this was GOD’S PLAN because he doesn’t want them to report on Casey Anthony and Anthony Wiener, and getting all crazed and excited about making the show with a desk and a couple of microphones and BEING A TEAM AGAIN, and then the power goes back on. Boo hoo.

—   Jim says to the crew during taping, “hey, you don’t have to watch this,” but obviously everybody WANTS to watch it. It’s like what they say about gossip: it’s something nobody claims to like, but everybody enjoys.

—   Sloan is still upset about the tabloid stories taking time away from her reporting on the biggest economic crisis of her lifetime, even though I still don’t have a handle on what that is, and since it already happened and the world seems to still be functioning, I don’t really care.

—   Neal still wants to do that story on internet trolls, because that’s somehow more newsworthy than tragedy porn, and asks Sloan’s permission to slander her online in order to build his troll credibility. She says yes, because she thinks it’s a good story too, wonder of wonders.

—    Convo between Mac and Brian-the-reporter-ex about Will being lonely. Don’t care. If he is, he deserves it because he did it to himself.

—   Will has flowers in his office, Mac pays them entirely too much attention. Yawn.

—   Mock debate practice. I’m failing to see why anyone other than SNL would think this is a good idea.

—   Jim’s ex-girlfriend and Maggie’s roommate Lisa, a fictional character, was magically Casey Anthony’s classmate in high school. I’m sure her insights would be super informative, seeing as she’s FICTIONAL. This is totes realistic. Ugh, I wish the show would just make up everything instead of shoe-horning fictional people into real world situations. That’s why The West Wing worked better.

—   Maggie and Jim are harassing Lisa at her workplace. Classy. Jim pulls the “we have no choice this is super important” card and Lisa finally gives in.

—   Jim awkwardly tries to ask Lisa out again. Stop it, Jim. She’s way too good for you.

—   Don dates around when he and Maggie break up, but doesn’t tell any of the women about the existence of the other. Don, I hate guys like you. Go away.

—   Cut to Will in his therapist’s office. Yay David Krumholtz! I don’t care about Will or his issues with betrayal but YAY DAVID KRUMHOLTZ.

—   Yes, Will, you are right, blaming the cheat-ee instead of the cheater is not the right way to go. But the show is making it sound like it is. Stupid show.

—   Will can’t understand why he can’t seem to forgive Mac for cheating on him. Therapist Krumholtz says it was because it was betrayal, and Will is super sensitive to betrayal.

—   Neal tells Sloan all the various ways he slandered her while trolling economics threads, and she’s glad someone is working on new stories. THIS IS NOT NEWS, SLOAN. Maybe it is to Sorkin because he’s kind of new at the internet thing, but this is tiny and unimportant and silly.

—   Jim’s research on Secret Contact Dude turns up sordid stuff about the guy, hurting his credibility.

—   Maggie and Mac agree that it doesn’t matter what Lisa says on the air as long as she actually shows up, so they’re gonna ask really lame questions.

—   SO PROUD of Lisa for continuing to reject Jim. Guy did not want you, he doesn’t deserve you, keep him in his place. You rock, girl.

—   Uh oh, Lisa’s on the air speaking out for the reasonableness of abortion in cases when the mother doesn’t want the child and can’t raise it. Apparently people are super sensitive about this and everyone is covering their faces in horror.

—   Someone threw a brick through her shop window. Would that really happen in New York? Down south, sure. But we’re pretty liberal here, right? I’m not gonna question it. Could totally happen in some neighborhoods, I suppose.

—   Showcase of the Mock Debate format. Seems all right, although I’d think a real debate with the actual candidates would be more accurate.

—   The boss guy doesn’t seem happy with it, though…

—   He thinks the format is just embarrassing to the candidates and refuses to allow it. All that tragedy porn coverage for nothing.

—   Oooh, now he says he wants the old Will MacAvoy, not the guy Mac turned him into. That’s gonna push some buttons.

—   Will apologizes to everyone for losing the debate.

—   Mac defends Will to Brian-the-reporter-ex by saying he’s better than Brian because he’s never sure about anything, he STRUGGLES with things, and then slapstick humor Will-can’t-put-on-pants joke comes to back her up. But no, Mac, Will is just as obnoxiously self-assured and self-righteous as Brian is. Maybe he has a few things he doubts, but I would never say he’s not sure about ANYTHING.

—   Mac is turning into a hysteric. Again. Ugh.

—   They’re finally doing the show how they want — ignoring the big attention-grabbing stories and leading with Sloan and the Debt Ceiling. Wonder if we’ll actually get to see her explain it.

—   Neal hasn’t gotten troll credibility. Sloan jokingly says, “too bad you’re not the guy who left the death threat for Will,” and now we know what Neal’s next move is gonna be.

—   Mac looks out at everyone and sees they’re all happy and getting along. This is making her sad for some reason?

—   And now she’s giving Jim horrible advice about refusing to move on and instead going after people who’ve rejected him.

—   Jim shows up at Lisa and Maggie’s apartment. I think we’re supposed to think he’s going to ask Lisa again, but I bet he asks Maggie, right there in front of Don.

—   And Lisa answers the door and Jim clearly wants to talk to Maggie, but Lisa — NO NO STOP IT LISA YOU WERE RIGHT ALL ALONG DON’T GIVE IN NOW — thinks he’s there for her and has decided to say yes, and kisses him and leads him out even though GAH he obviously doesn’t want that anymore.

—   Don is the only one with half a brain in this scene who realizes Jim wanted Maggie. And now he’s going to come clean about the other women and hopefully they’ll break up for good.

—   Neal is pretending to be the hacker who posted Will’s death threat, and one of the other trolls says it wasn’t Neal because it was HIM. Saw that coming a mile away.

—   And Will is on relationship advice websites reading about trust while melancholy music plays.

 

 

Final Thoughts:

 

I have very little to say about this episode that isn’t in the above live-blog. The episode just doesn’t come together as a unit. Sure, there’s a linear storyline involving the compromising of values in order to get the debate, and ultimately not getting the debate, and going back to reporting the news the way they want to. And there are little B plots and C plots about trolls and the Secret Contact.

But then there’s all the non-plot stuff, the relationship drama, which could really be happening in any episode, regardless of the plot, because there is nothing particularly plot-related about the development of these love triangles. And there is no unifying theme between any of the disparate events of the story. It just feels like a bunch of random stuff that happens to be happening to these same people. Say what you may about cheesy Grey’s Anatomy voiceovers — at least they manage to pull everything together and make you feel like you watched a well-constructed whole instead of just a mess.

And of course, having another Mackenzie freakout does nothing to help the cause. And nope, we didn’t get to see Sloan explain about the debt ceiling. Why am I not surprised.

 

Rating: 2.5/5