TV Corner: Peaky Blinders, Fridging, and Men Who Can’t Write Women

Peaky Blinders - Saison 3 (4-6)


Before starting Peaky Blinders, I had heard many great things about it, mostly through cultural osmosis.  I didn’t know too much about what it was actually about – in fact the only aspect of it that drew me was that Cillian Murphy stars in it.  I was hesitant about watching a show about a crime gang, because I suspected it would revolve entirely around men and convoluted illegal activities that would surely bore me to death.  But I do adore Cillian Murphy, so on a whim I decided to start Peaky Blinders, and I immediately loved it.

First of all, Cillian Murphy is fantastic as Tommy Shelby, kind of like a grown-up AU Kaz Brekker without the cane and aversion to touch.  The first season also assuaged my fears of not being able to follow along; the plot was fairly straightforward and engaging.  I hadn’t expected to see women in leading roles, but we had two (or three, depending on how you look at it) who were all pretty cool. I had some criticisms, of course (I always do), but overall, I was really enjoying the show.  Then seasons two and three happened and everything went downhill.

I do have some general issues with plot and characterization.  The plot became too convoluted and expansive, moving from small-town crime gang stuff to being blackmailed by Winston Churchill, which made me lose interest.  One of the antagonists literally turned into a mustache twirling villain of ridiculous proportions and then was killed.  But I’m going to focus this post on my main problem with this show, mainly, the treatment of the three main female characters: Polly Shelby, Ada Shelby, and Grace Burgess.

Before I get into their character arcs separately, I want to start by saying that every one of these female characters have been sexually assaulted on the show.  Every. One.  Polly was forced into sex with the aforementioned mustache-twirling douche in exchange for freeing her son from prison, Ada was nearly gang-raped, and Grace was nearly raped.  There’s also Lizzie, a minor character, prostitute-turned-secretary, who was assaulted and raped.  Just putting that out there.




Things start out promisingly with Polly, played by the fabulous Helen McCrory.  She’s the boys’ aunt, the Peaky Blinders’ treasurer, and Tommy, trusts her more than anyone else. She’s shown to be competent, blunt, and no-nonsense.  Soon enough she shows vulnerability when she reveals to Ada that she had an abortion in her youth, for practical reasons.  Fine, fine – then came season two.

Suddenly, Polly, smart, competent, wise Polly, is going to charlatan fortune-tellers to try to find out what happened to her children, who were taken from her by the police when they were toddlers.  She’s emotional and erratic all the time.  Her entire plotline revolves around finding her children.  Finally, Tommy discovers that her daughter had died of an illness, but her son Michael is still alive.  Michael joins the Peaky Blinders and the show seems to be grooming him to be the next Tommy.

Like, how boring, to be honest.  First of all, Polly’s character is sacrificed to build up Michael, who’s your standard run-of-the-mill angsty teen.  Second, what a missed opportunity for an interesting female character! Imagine if it had been Polly’s daughter who had survived, and she had wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps within the Peaky Blinders? Trying to assert her authority as a woman in a male-dominated field?

When Michael is arrested, Polly is humiliated and forced into sex in order to free him. When he is released and realizes what she did, he shows zero gratitude and acts like an entitled ass.  Polly then tries to get him to leave town for his safety.  Then she shoots the dude who raped her.  Like, okay, first off, I’m really damn sick of this idea that it’s totally fine to have your female character be sexually assaulted in the worst way as long as she gets revenge after.  Like. No. Stop.  Rape isn’t the only trauma a woman can suffer and it is not the only way to make her interesting or show that she’s strong.



Ada Shelby is Tommy’s younger sister. In the first season, her story mostly revolves around her love interest, Freddie, a communist who used to be Tommy’s best friend. Tommy is against their relationship but when Ada is pregnant, Freddie marries her.

Ada is actually a pretty cool gal, which you would expect from someone who has grown up with a street gang.  She’s tough and and stubborn and takes no shit. One of her most defining moments comes in the season one finale, when the Peaky Blinders are about to face off against another gang in a shoot-out.  Ada walks right in the middle of this impending disaster with her baby in his stroller and basically shouts the men into standing down, thereby preventing a total bloodbath.  It’s incredible.

In the second season, for some inexplicable reason, Freddie has died of some illness. I’m not sure why their relationship was such a huge part of season one only to kill Freddie off-screen, but okay.  In this season, Ada is mostly used as leverage against Tommy by rival gangs. In one harrowing episode, as Tommy is beaten nearly to death, Ada is kidnapped by a group of men and nearly gang-raped, only to be rescued at the last minute by Peaky Blinders.  She’s tough about it and it doesn’t seem to affect her much, but like, why? Why was this necessary? We had just witnessed this gang literally carve Tommy’s tooth out of his mouth, did we really need this to show how ~vicious~ they are?

Though Ada does not feature as much as I would like her to, she is shown to be a budding communist with ties to the Soviets and some pretty interesting views on civil society. Honestly, I’d watch a spin-off with her as the main character. She is ten times more interesting than Arthur and John (her brothers, who feature ten times as much), and I’m frustrated that the show doesn’t know how to use her.


Peaky Blinders

Oh, Grace. Rarely have I seen a female character done such a disservice.

Things started off well – they started off fantastic, in fact! In the first season, Grace is first introduced as a young Irish immigrant seeking employment as a barmaid.  Soon enough, though, she is revealed to be a spy, working to infiltrate the Peaky Blinders and seeking revenge for her father’s murder. She’s kind of like the female Tommy; their similar personalities are uncanny and probably why they are immediately drawn to each other. They are both stoic, reserved, and tightly-wound, on the verge of exploding, which we see them both do.  She is unfortunately nearly raped by a gross gang boss because of a situation Tommy places her in, but he ends up rescuing her from the very mess he created.

Predictably, Grace ends up switching sides after falling in love with Tommy, though she does fulfill her mission.  She exits the season in a pretty  badass way, though, boarding a train to London after shooting the mustache-twirling villain as he tried to shoot her (for turning down his marriage proposal and sleeping with Tommy).

In the second season, Grace shows up in one or two episodes  She’s married to a banker from Poughkeepsie and they are having infertility problems. She has sex with Tommy and lo and behold, she’s pregnant.  Aside from how insulting it is that this is her only plotline this season, this is awful, rushed writing. Next, Grace has a weird territorial conversation with another woman Tommy is sleeping with that is frankly demeaning to both women’s intelligence. That’s it for Grace in season two.

And then the coup de grace: in the season three premiere, Grace and Tommy get married. Grace suddenly transforms from competent spy to worried, nagging, clingy, insecure wife. Then, in the second episode, she’s shot with a bullet meant for Tommy and dies.

I didn’t believe it at first.  When she was shot I rolled by eyes and thought, “Here we go, she’s gonna spend the next couple of episodes in a bed while Tommy sits next to her and weeps tears of manpain.” But then the next episode opened with the aftermath of her funeral and I had to pause the episode and simply sit there utterly flabbergasted.

First of all, what a complete waste of a brilliant character! Grace is smart and ruthless; she would have been incredible as Tommy’s wife and business partner. Second, I cannot believe that in this day and age a showrunner would bring back a female character only to fridge her for a male character’s manpain. Like, there was no reason for her to die except to create drama for Tommy. They didn’t even have the decency to have someone important kill her; she’s murdered by some two-bit rival gang that gets taken care of in the next episode.

What the hell happened? I’m angry and frustrated, but I’m mostly just tired.  I’m exhausted by how often I get my hopes up only to be let down by writers who clearly have no idea how to write women.  The writers of Peaky Blinders are basically telling us that they cannot fathom a woman whose life doesn’t revolve around either a man or her children and they have no interest in learning, seeing as there aren’t any female writers on the team.  I’m tired.  This is boring and amateur and I’m so exhausted by shows that do the bare minimum with female characters getting massive praise heaped on them.

I’ve put Peaky Blinders on pause for now.  I’m only on the third episode of the third season, but I highly doubt I’m going to pick it up again.

Has anyone watched Peaky Blinders? What are your thoughts?


TV Corner: No Tomorrow


The CW’s No Tomorrow didn’t really draw me in at first.  I wasn’t drawn by the fact that it starred two generic white people, and I wasn’t sold on the premise either.  However, I love Joshua Sasse (Generic White Person #1) and I’ll pretty much watch anything The CW puts out, so once this was on Netflix I was all over it, not expecting to like it very much.  Instead, I absolutely loved it, which sucks for me, since it was cancelled after one season.

No Tomorrow stars Joshua Sasse as Xavier Holliday, an eccentric physicist who believes that the world will end in eight months when an asteroid collides with the Earth and destroys it (in other words, an apocalypse truther).  When he meets Evie Covington, a woman who has always played it safe, he convinces her to broaden her horizons and take more risks.

Strike one against this show was casting a generic white actress as Evie, when this could have been so much more interesting with a woman of color in the role.  Strike two is tangential to strike one, which is that this show involves one of my least favorite tropes: fun-loving and reckless man draws shy and responsible woman out of her shell.  I hate it, but it would have been given layers of depth if Evie were a woman of color who then had to play it safe by virtue of her background.  But, you know, this is The CW, so I don’t expect too much.

Anyway, I went in with low expectations, but I was totally charmed! This is a charming show.  It’s cute and utterly hilarious, never forgetting how completely ridiculous its own premise is.  Joshua Sasse, coming off his stint in Galavant, is brilliant as fun-loving Xavier, bringing depth and complexity to what could have been an incredibly grating role.  Tori Anderson is adorable as Evie, if a little boring.  The two are surrounded by a much more diverse cast of wacky characters that by the end of the series have become a tight-knit group of friends.

The show is essentially a classic rom-com with an apocalypse twist thrown in for kicks.  But somehow, it works, leading to absurd hijinks and a whole lot of fun.  By the end of the show, all the characters have changed and matured for the better.  The CW even released a short little epilogue letting you know where all the characters ended up and whether or not the asteroid did indeed hit the earth.   The closure wraps up the show quite nicely!

At only thirteen episodes, No Tomorrow is a highly bingable weekend treat that is sure to cheer you up!


5 TV Shows I Felt Betrayed By

In the spirit of Goodreads’ Top 5 Wednesday Books You Felt Betrayed By, I figured I should also talk about the television shows that betrayed me.

Beware, this post will be full of spoilers! I always try to keep things vague and spoiler-free, but there is no way I can talk about these shows’ disappointing conclusions without spoiling said conclusions, so proceed at your own risk.

Without further preamble, here are the shows that betrayed and disappointed me.


I started watching Lost a year after it aired, delivered weekly to me by MBC, a subscription cable channel available in Egypt. I distinctly remember watching the second half of the pilot with my mother (I missed the first half), since we both love disaster shows, and being utterly and completely hooked. The first season continued to intrigue as the mystery of the sinister island intensified.

I’m not sure if this is an unpopular opinion, but personally I think the show started to unravel as early as season two. Frankly, I really don’t think the writers expected the first season to be such a smashing success. They had written themselves into a corner and had no idea how to escape. It was clear they had no idea what the island was – or rather, what they wanted it to be.

As the show continued, this indecisiveness ran clear throughout every narrative. The writers continued to introduce various mysteries and bizarre storylines, many of which were never properly concluded. The final season went off the rails completely, escalating what I originally interpreted to be a psychological thriller into a grand old conflict between the very essence of good and evil – I think. I was never terribly clear on that.

To be sure, the finale was an emotional roller-coaster: I admit I couldn’t help but shed a few tears when Jack died in the same place he had woken up when he first crashed. The scenes of the afterlife were similarly emotional. The writers surely wanted to establish a kind of full-circle narrative with these poignant moments, but the attempt ultimately fell short as various details were retconned or pushed aside. Rewatching the show for the character arcs only serves to highlight the what a mess so much of it really was.

Lost was always the kind of show that should have been plotted from beginning to end before it even began. At the very least, the writers should have had some sense of what they wanted the island to be, and who the main antagonist was. So, ultimately, while Lost will always be one of my favorite shows (and introduced me to one of my all time favorite characters, Juliet Burke), one that I watch over and over again, it will also forever remain a source of frustration due to its missed potential.


Speaking of missed potential. Have you ever seen a show literally center its entire finale on missed potential? It’s like the writers knew they had screwed up and thought that by somehow lampshading the problem it would go away. No such luck.

For those of you who may not know, Merlin was a very popular BBC show that first aired way back in 2008. It was a fresh, clever re-imagining of the wizard Merlin, along with Arthur, Morgan Le Fay, Guinevere, and the Knights of the Round Table. In this version, though Arthur is still royalty, Gwen and Merlin are both servants, and Morgana is Uther’s ward. In this world, magic has been outlawed, and the timeline of the show is fresh of a Purge of the kingdom’s sorcerers.

Merlin started off fantastically, promising to be a show that balanced comedic elements with traditional medieval storytelling, walking a fine line between several thoroughly unconnected genres. Morgana, the main antagonist in the legends, is seen as a righteous defender of justice, and is good friends with the main heroes. Beginning in season three, however, things take a turn, and it begins with Morgana.

The thing about Morgana is that clearly, the writers always intended for her story line to take a dark turn to reflect the reality of the legends. Unfortunately, their execution of this was abysmal. I know not everyone feels this way about Morgana “going evil”, but I feel that it was essentially a personality transplant, and worse, one that happened largely off-screen! It was lazy writing, period. The new Morgana retains only hints of her original character, and her arc continued to stumble along clumsily until it ended in her ultimately anti-climactic death.

The writers missed so many opportunities with Morgana. Her discovery of her magic was messy at best, and Merlin’s insistence on keeping Morgana in the dark made no sense. Morgana’s close friendship with her handmaiden Gwen devolved into nothing, when it should have in fact been the one thing keeping Morgana on the edge of sanity (imagine if Morgana had confided in Gwen!). In the hands of a better writing team, she could have come out of this a brilliant character for the ages. Instead she became a caricature.

But even this failure is nothing compared to the abysmal failure of the series finale. The entire point of Merlin, the one thing they had been harping on about constantly, from the very first episode, was that this was a show about the legacy of Arthur. He would be a king who would transform the world with Merlin by his side. He would bring justice to sorcerers and do great things, and be remembered in history for thousands of years.

Instead he died. Without accomplishing any of that.

Essentially, you have a show that has built up this great, big thing, promising this magnificent, satisfying payoff and then…there’s no payoff. Arthur dies in Merlin’s arms after having finally, after six goddamn seasons of ludicrous secrecy, finding out Merlin has magic. To add insult to injury, the final scene of the show is actually a shot in modern times, showing an elderly, bearded Merlin narrowly avoiding being run over by a truck. This unnecessary, tacky addition took away from any sort of “epicness” the show had hoped to maintain. At the very least, if they were going to kill Arthur, they should have ended on that magnificent shot of his now wife Gwen on the throne, with the court shouting, “Long Live the Queen!”

How I Met Your Mother

Since we’re already on the topic of narratives that swerve in another direction at the very last minute, I’m going to segue into How I Met Your Mother. A long-running comedy show about five white people living in New York City, HIMYM was rife with problems: from the rampant misogyny displayed by its main characters, to its stunning whiteness, to the various inconsistencies in its characters. However, it was a funny enough show, and, as the title conveys, is all about the main character, Ted, telling his kids the story of how he met their mother.

So, in the final season, we finally meet The Mother, a charming woman named Tracy. She and Ted fall in love, have kids, all the hints from the previous seasons make so much sense, it’s a great, fulfilling ending.

If only the writers had left it at that.

Instead, what they decided to do was kill off Tracy, so that Ted can get back together with his ex-girlfriend Robin. Now, the main reason Ted and Robin had broken up in the first place was because they wanted different things. Robin wanted independence and a great career, and Ted wanted children. So, to me, it was incredibly gross for the writers to bring on Tracy, have her pop out Ted’s kids, and then kill her off and leave Ted free to run off the Robin once he’d gotten what he wanted from Tracy.

I know most people absolutely hated this finale, so I won’t talk too much more about it, but suffice it to say I have never before seen a show completely demolish its own narrative so spectacularly.

True Blood

I know I just said HIMYM takes the cake when it comes to demolishing its own narratives, but True Blood is a close second when it comes to completely destroying its characters.

As a vampire fanatic since age eleven who was also fascinated by the rural Deep South, I absolutely loved True Blood. It started off promising, and though there was a noticeable dip in quality as the seasons went on, it was still generally a good show. Things made sense. Characters were true to themselves. The narrative was understandable. That is, until the second half of the season six finale, which features a six-month time jump. That was bad enough, but then season seven came along, and it was literally like I was watching an entirely different show.

There is an explanation for this – True Blood’s final season had a different writing team than the previous six. This isn’t totally unusual for long-running television shows, as far as I know, but what was unusual in this case was that the new team had no understanding of the characters whatsoever. They charged in and made up their own narrative and characters, plastering them onto the faces of the people we already knew. Bizarre new plotlines were introduced, random minor characters highlighted, and our heroine, Sookie Stackhouse, is subjected to a strange plotline that has her wallowing in self-hatred.

It was, in short, a complete and total clusterfuck, and a terrible legacy to leave behind for a show that will surely go on to become a cult classic.

Battlestar Galactica

My main gripe about the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica is that it turned out to be a creation story. I thought I was watching a space opera, and all the signs pointed to that, but then suddenly it turned into a weirdly spiritual show with hints of God and angels and whatnot being thrown around. I’m going to quote George R.R. Martin here:

“Battlestar Galactica ends with ‘God Did It.’ Looks like somebody skipped Writing 101, when you learn that a deus ex machina is a crappy way to end a story… Yeah, yeah, sometimes the journey is its own reward. I certainly enjoyed much of the journey with BSG… But damn it, doesn’t anybody know how to write an ending any more? Writing 101, kids. Adam and Eve, God Did It, It Was All a Dream? I’ve seen Clarion students left stunned and bleeding for turning in stories with those endings.”

I mean, yeah, pretty much! Battlestar Galactica ends with a lieral deus ex machina! This smacks of writers who had no idea how to explain their shit, so they just wrapped it all up neatly in the easiest way possible, thinking that this also satisfied Kara’s storyline. It did not – you can’t just pull this kind of weird, proto-religious, pseudo-spiritual crap on a show that for three seasons has been grounded in sci-fi realism. It was completely jarring and a total disappointment to an otherwise fantastic show.

American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson


In 1994, when the “Trial of the Century” was taking place, I was about two years old.  Growing up, I knew of O.J. Simpson.  I knew his trial had something to do with murder and race.  I knew there was something about a glove and a Bronco and a car chase.  That’s pretty much all I knew, having absorbed it all through cultural osmosis.  American Crime Story delivered the juicy, fascinating details that made this case as infamous as it was.

It seems that everything about this case was fraught with tension and problems from the very beginning.  First, there’s Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor on the case, who struggled to deal with horrific misogyny in the face of constant media coverage.  This culminates in the episode “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” as it comes to light that Marcia’s first husband sold nude photos of her to the National Enquirer.  Towards the end of the episode, Marcia breaks down in tears right in the middle of the courtroom, an expected reaction from someone who has been for weeks dealing with mockery and ridicule from the press.

I can’t talk about Marcia Clark without talking about Sarah Paulson, whose brilliant performance was utterly captivating.  One of the benefits of having been so young during this case was that I know nothing about the real people these actors are portraying, and therefore have nothing to compare their performances to.  Therefore, I can simply enjoy the actors doing their thing without having to wonder how true-to-life they are.  And Sarah Paulson is a joy to watch, whether she’s righteously furious or sobbing or being the best mother she can be to her two young boys.

While I’m talking about Marcia and Sarah, I have to talk about Chris Darden, played by Sterling K. Brown.  I know shipping is the last thing on this show’s mind, but holy hell, from the first scene they were in together, I knew I shipped Marcia and Chris.  I also felt very weird about this, because I had to keep reminding myself that they are real people, and shipping real people is creepy as hell.  I guess it’s less creepy to say that I truly enjoyed their relationship, their deep respect and fondness for one another, their teamwork and camaraderie, as well as their disagreements and full-blown fights.  They played off each other excellently, had incredible chemistry, and left me incredibly curious about the real-life relationship between Marcia and Chris.  Oh, and I totally have a crush on Sterling K. Brown now.

But back to the case, and most importantly, the jury.  The jury sequestered for nearly a year! I had no idea you could even do that! By the eight month mark they were nearly falling apart, locked away from the outside world, no family, no television, nothing.  In “A Jury in Jail” several jurors are excused for lying or having bizarre connections to O.J. Simpson, in an absolutely hilarious sequence that has the defense and prosecution vying to maintain their hold on sympathetic jurors.

Then we have Mark Fuhrman, the unabashedly racist LAPD officer who ultimately tanked the case for the prosecution.  First off: wow.  That is a lot of racism coming from one single person.  Apparently Fuhrman not only espoused despicable views of black people, he was also an avid collector of “World War II memorabilia,” a euphemism for shit like swastikas from Nazi Germany, so, basically, he’s the type of guy we’d call a member of the “alt-right” today.  (And of course, like any good ol’ red-blooded American racist, the reveal of his views led to best-selling book deals and little to no punishment.)  But that’s not all, because what’s a trial fraught with scandal if the judge isn’t involved? The tapes that outed Fuhrman’s racism also have him spouting misogyny towards one Peggy York, his former superior officer and presiding Judge Lance Ito’s wife.

For a moment, it seemed like a mistrial was in the stars, but things eventually settle down, and the trial trudges on.  O.J. has tries on the gloves, which don’t fit.  The prosecution presents DNA evidence, which the jury doubts.  Johnnie Cochran (who dealt with his own scandal of domestic abuse allegations) puts forth a theory of racial discrimination, a theory that becomes more plausible when Fuhrman takes the stand again and takes the fifth about planting evidence.  Finally, after merely four hours, the jury comes back with a Not Guilty verdict.  O.J. Simpson returns home, but realizes his life will never be the same again, starting with the loss of his best friend, Robert Kardashian.

Let’s talk about that for a minute.  A surprising stand-out performance came from David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, who I had no idea had been O.J.’s best friend! Apparently, though, the Kardashians were incredibly close with the Simpsons, and O.J. was the Kardashian children’s godfather! I finally understand the source of the Kardashian fame empire.  It wasn’t just Kim’s sex tape or whatever other escapades were in the spotlight; this family has been under media scrutiny since the 90s.  Schwimmer plays Kardashian with the steady, earnest disposition of a man just trying to do the right thing. It’s…surprising to say the least that Kardashian comes out of this looking like one of the good guys, from his staunch support of his best friend to his emerging doubts once he realizes that O.J. abused Nicole.

O.J. Simpson abused Nicole Brown.  That is not a disputed fact.  He may have called it “tousling” or whatever (a word that shocks his friend Robert Kardashian), but he abused her, and she feared for her life.  Knowing what I know about how easily domestic violence escalates to murder, I find it extremely plausible that O.J. Simpson murdered his wife.  It’s a believable narrative: he abused her for years, and, upon finding her with another man, murdered them both in a rage.  It happens all the time. Given that, the enormous amount of DNA evidence, the fact that O.J. Simpson was beloved by the LAPD, and that there were no other suspects, it’s honestly astounding to me that O.J. was deemed Not Guilty.

American Crime Story is a whirlwind of a show, reflecting a tumultuous year-long trial that held the nation in the grip of a media circus.  According to critics, the show is extremely accurate in its details and portrayals and takes few dramatic liberties, which I appreciate. As someone who knew little to nothing about one of the most famous trials in American history, I’m delighted to have so enjoyed learning so much about it.

Episode Review: Supernatural 11×22 & 11×23

My beautiful, terrible, trash show. When will I be free of you?

These episodes continued to emphasize the dynamic of Lucifer and God as just a regular ol’ Pop and disgruntled teen. Ridiculous though it may have been, I can’t deny it was amusing to watch Sam and Dean try to work things out between the pair of them. Lucifer holing himself up in “his room” and blasting rock music was a hilarious scene.

Sadly, this episode introduced a super cool and interesting black witch, Clia, only to kill her off. Her conversation with Rowena (the first time this show has passed the Bechdel test in a long, long time) was one of the most engaging and well-written parts of the episode. It’s my own fault that I keep getting my hopes up for this show to actually step outside the box and engage with some diversity. That’s my bad. I need to lower my expectations.

Anyway, the introduction of Clia also confused me, with regards to just how this whole religions/Gods thing actually works. So, Clia is a Pagan, and we’ve seen Pagan Gods on this show before. Are all the Pagan Gods children of Chuck? Do they rule together? Do they share creation? How does any of this work?

In any case, these episodes weren’t terrible; they wrapped up the problem nicely, without requiring either of the Winchester boys to die yet again. There were some anti-climactic moments (God’s death that wasn’t a death, Dean making requests for his funeral and then not dying) but they worked well; generally, I’m not opposed to anti-climactic scenes as long as they fit within the narrative. I think this fit. It was never clear what Amara was going for in the first place, but I think this makes sense. Now that she’s found peace, hopefully we can put this whole thing behind us.

Now, however, I think the show’s canon has clearly established the Winchester boys as Beyond Human. I think now the show can feel free to portray them as demi-Gods, even – they’re on first name basis with God himself, as well as his sister. Dean got the family back together. He could probably ask anything of them and they would give it to him. Case in point: Amara bringing Dean’s mother back from the dead.

I don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, it could be very, very cool, since Mary Winchester was a badass Hunter herself. On the other hand, I wouldn’t put it past this show to bring her back for a few episodes only to kill her off again for more Man Angst. Also, having Mary Winchester in the picture changes the dynamic of the show in a big way – it’s not the same kind of vibe when you’re road tripping with your mom. I just don’t know that the show needed to pull this huge stunt. With the introduction of the London chapter of the Men of Letters, they had enough meat to the plot without this.

As for Toni Bevell, well, I’ll keep my opinion to myself until I see how this develops. I doubt they’re setting her and her people up to be the Big Bad of Season 12; I’m sure they’ll only occupy a short episode arc, which will be fine. I’m not really all that enthusiastic about this, but like I said, I will refrain from passing judgement until I see how it plays out in full.

Finally, despite my complaints, this show’s comedy is still gold, and Crowley (oh how the mighty have fallen!) and Rowena are always brilliant together:

Rowena: “Oh God…”
Crowley: “Oh God.


Episode Review: Once Upon a Time 5×22 & 5×23

Okay.  I don’t want to be hyperbolic and say that this is the worst pair of episodes this show has ever seen but…this is the worst pair of episodes this show has ever seen!

Clearly, I delayed watching these episodes. Partly, that was because I was on vacation overseas with limited time and internet, but it was also because I’d seen hints of what was to come on Tumblr and did not like it.

Let’s start with the one single thing I liked:

Every time Regina and Emma interact, it is perfection. Seriously, these two play off each other so well, and both actresses are brilliant. Emma’s deadpan Straight Man attitude is such a great foil to Regina’s snark. And I will never get tired of them being called Henry’s parents. Oh, if only Hook had stayed dead, think what could have become of Regina and Emma! I mean, look at Regina – hardened, reserved Regina is so vulnerable with Emma. For a crappy pair of episodes, that speech Regina gave about the two sides warring within her was beautiful. I just wish it hadn’t been foreshadowing for what came next.

Okay, now for the bad:

First of all, this whole Author thing is ridiculous. So Henry literally has the power to alter reality? He’s basically a God? That’s a ludicrous thing to have on your show, because what’s the point of any action if there exists the possibility of just writing it down to make it happen? I mean, why didn’t Henry just write magic out of the world? Or why not write himself a solution to ending magic? What’s the point of anything if he has these powers? This is Writing Rule #1, foks: you don’t put God in your story.

Speaking of Henry, there was way too much of him in this episode. I don’t know if it’s the character or the actor, but he is just so grating. I don’t mind him so much when he’s just hovering in the background, but he was basically the lynch pin of these two episodes, which meant he was in the spotlight all the time. The dude just makes me cringe; he’s so embarrassing. One minute he wants to end magic, the next he’s giving a speech on how magic can be good. Talk about being a moody teenager.

Also, not to get all pedantic librarian on you, but what the hell was up with that scene in the NYPL? I’m assuming Henry and Violet were going to the Brooke Astor Russell Reading Room, but that’s not a room full of rare books – it’s just a reading room where you can read material requested from the Rare Books Division. And even if it was the collection of rare books, no librarian is just going to let a couple of teenagers (with their coats and bags!) into the archives and just leave them there to do whatever they want. And no one’s been to the Rare Books Division in years because they’re too busy reading YA? That is not only a pointless dig at the YA genre, but also a sanctimonious commentary on those who read YA and an unbelievable statement. No one in New York City has used the Rare Books Division in years? I’m sorry, what alternate dimension of New York City have we fallen through?

Then we have the whole Jekyll/Hyde situation. I’m still not clear on how the gang fell through the portal, but I suppose the plot needs them to be there, though what an awful plot it is. This is the best the writers could come up with? The Evil Queen is back? Not only is that basically rehashing the earlier seasons, it is a complete slap in the face to Regina’s character growth.

Throughout this episode, I was uncomfortable with the way Regina kept referring to “the Evil Queen” in the third person, like she was a literal alter ego, but I didn’t think much of it because I assumed that was just Regina’s coping mechanism. This was her way of dealing with the horrible crimes she’s committed in her past, by trying to separate her current self from them. I never thought the writers would literally separate her past self from her present self. Because that’s the thing: when I talk about past and present Regina, I’m still talking about the same person. The Evil Queen is the same woman we see today, not some separate entity who exists to exonerate Regina of all the wrong she’s done.

Regina tells Emma she feels heavy guilt all the time, but that’s not an indication that there’s something wrong – Regina should feel guilty. I enjoy Regina as a character very much, but she is a mass murderer. She’s committed horrible, horrible acts – including massacring an entire village. That she feels guilty means that she’s becoming a better person, because she’s truly regretful. That she will continue to struggle for the rest of her life is just something she has to live with, and considering what she’s done, it should be a small price to pay. It also makes for a fascinating narrative – a woman struggling to come to terms with what she’s done and trying her best to hold back the darkness.

Instead, all that is trashed. What is the point of Regina’s entire redemption arc if now the new canon is that the Evil Queen is not really Regina but totally and completely separate from her? Not to mention, none of this makes any sense. I know I should know better than to expect too much logic from this show, but it’s always made sense in terms of its own rules, at least! I don’t understand what this is or where we’re going with this? What does this even mean for Regina, now that she is free of the Evil Queen? Is she the same person? Does she no longer feel guilt over her acts because she’s convinced herself she wasn’t the one who committed them? And what is the Evil Queen, anyway? A manifestation of Regina’s past self or all of her dark impulses (which we all have)? Does this mean she will no longer struggle with making a choice between what is right and what is easy?

This makes absolutely no sense.

Worse than all of this is that the episode was boring. It was boring and utterly predictable.

Episode Review: Supernatural 11×21

This episode tried to dig deep into a huge theological question.

Upon meeting God, Sam, ever the fanboy, rambles on and wonders whether his prayers “got lost in the spam.” Meanwhile, Dean broods in the corner, then confronts God about where the hell he’s been for the thousands of years humans have been suffering horribly. It’s the question all of us would want to ask of God, and the show chose to go with “over-parenting is enabling,” the answer that the Abrahamic religions have been touting for years.

It’s not a good look for God, and it’s certainly not a sympathetic answer for Chuck. Given the way he was presented throughout the rest of the episode, it makes me wonder what the writers are going for with regards to his characterization. He is normalized to the point of mockery, any cosmic greatness stripped from him as he sits in tube socks and boxers munching on unhealthy snacks. At that point, is he still the God of legend? When does God stop being “God”? Isn’t God’s greatness in his inscrutability? Shouldn’t he be untouchable? A being so great (not kind or good or beautiful, but great, awesome in his power) that humans can’t handle his presence?

Is that why the writers chose to go the Chuck route? If they were going to put God in the story (which I still think is a terrible idea, writing-wise, but I digress), did they realize there was no good way to incorporate him and maintain his greatness? Did they realize that humanizing him was the only way this plot wouldn’t completely implode?

And now “God” is just a regular person, with a weary walk and a dry wit and family problems (notice how touchy he was about Lucifer; his emotions are clouding his judgement), just like anyone else. I don’t know how to feel about this creative decision.

Anyway, moving on from the theological implications here, one of the things that distracted me in this episode was that, aside from Amara, there were no women. Literally not a single woman. The introduction of a new prophet was a great chance to include, say, a woman of color, but instead we got an old white dude. This is Supernatural’s problem again and again, and not just with casting, but with plot as well. They keep recycling tropes, plot lines, and characters. We’ve had the flustered old white man who provides silly comedic relief. How about a female black chemistry graduate student who reacts with dry disbelief? How about a queer Arab Muslim woman who is furious at God’s cavalier attitude and rashly gets in his face with no regard for her own well-being?

I know, I know, it’s futile to expect this kind of diversity from Supernatural, of all shows. But as a show that’s been on the air for eleven years, and that was just renewed for two seasons at once (an rare occurrence), it can afford to take those kinds of risks. It can step outside of the box, shake things up. Then again, why should I expect any of that from the white men who are running the show?

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

→ I will forever find it hilarious that Sam and Dean have the cell phone numbers of various supernatural beings. Like, just picture Dean exchanging phone numbers with Metatron for a second. How would that conversation even go? But I suppose it’s a necessary part of being a modern, present-day show about supernatural beings.

→ Speaking Metatron, like Dean, I wouldn’t have expected him to sacrifice himself. I don’t think he really believed that warding spell would actually work, as he didn’t seem too surprised when Amara stayed put.

→ Kevin! It was great to see him, but if we were going to go down that route, where the hell was Charlie?

Episode Review: Once Upon a Time 5×21

Well, this felt very much like a finale. It’s hard to believe that there’s still two whole episodes left; are we going to need that much story time to set up next season’s conflict? I wouldn’t complain if it meant witnessing some domestic bliss in Storybrooke, but I know our heroes are barely going to get a single night’s rest before having to deal with the next big thing.

So, this episode put the lid on the Hades storyline once and for all (I hope, anyway), but Hades took Robin along with him, for reasons I truly can’t fathom. Is this supposed to set up Regina to backslide next season? Because otherwise I really don’t see why Robin had to die so horribly (to be wiped out of existence!). If they had wanted to prove Hades’ treachery to Zelena, they could have just had her listen in and then witness Hades shoot the bolt at Regina, who Robin could have saved by ducking them both out of the way. Especially since it wasn’t exactly like Hades took them unawares.

But anyway, Robin died, and Hades died, and while we got a nice moment of sisterly solidarity out of it, I can’t see this going over smoothly into next season, especially now that Hook’s come back. I can’t imagine Regina taking that very well. They went to the Underworld because of Hook and Emma. Hook came back, but Robin died. That’s gotta hurt. (Also, excuse me, Hook’s back? Just like that? Because Zeus brought him back? Talk about deus ex machina.)

Speaking of solidarity, this episode built up a very abrupt bromance between Hook and Arthur. It’s not that I disliked it, but it just seemed very out of place. I’m not sure why Hades killed Arthur in the first place. Because he was just in the way? Because the writers needed any random ol’ person to help Hook? Arthur is basically the reason they managed to kill Hades, so Hades engineered his own death sentence due to his own callousness. Classic. Anyway, I continued to be suspicious towards Arthur even when he was about to risk his soul to help Killian – when did Arthur become so altruistic, anyway? Plus the actor always plays him in such a shady way, you can’t help but think the dude’s up to something.

One thing I did like about Arthur descending to the Underworld is that it seems he’s destined to save it now. I always liked how this show played around with mythology to make everything fit with their own mythos, and this is just another example of that. True, it’s a little too clean, a little too convenient, but as always, I’ll let it slide.

Miscellaneous Observations:

→ Does nobody care that Belle is still under a sleeping curse? When they were all holed up in the library looking through those books, I thought someone would at least mention that if only they had Belle the research would go a lot easier. But nope, nothing! I get that they had bigger things to worry about and Belle is technically safe, but c’mon!

→ Also, Belle’s father is a terrible human being. He’s always been terrible, but this just takes the cake. I seriously want to punch him in his smug face. I didn’t expect him to go along with Rumple easily, but I didn’t expect he’d stonewall completely. Why Belle still trusts her father to fulfill any of her wishes is beyond me. I mean, essentially, his view is, “Better my daughter be as good as dead for eternity rather than conscious and making choices that I disapprove of!” Are we not supposed to find this guy gross? Because I don’t know how the writers could pull this and not expect us to think he’s really, really, really gross.

→ Zelena’s reaction to Regina telling her the truth about Hades was utterly predictable. But, I was surprised to see Zelena not only switch sides at the end, but take out Hades herself! That was intense, considering Hades and Zelena were sold as true love. I can’t imagine anyone else on this show killing their One True Love. I mean, hell, Emma literally went to the Underworld to save Hook. I don’t know if that shows Zelena’s fortitude or ruthlessness. Probably the latter, which is an interesting character trait.

→ I like snarky!Killian a hell of a lot more than loveydovey!Killian. I mean: “Can we get to the acceptance already?” Gold.

→ Emma soliciting murder advice from Rumple felt like someone low-key asking for drugs. It was actually kind of hilarious. But um, did I miss something? Did that conversation ever go anywhere? Did Rumple give her any advice?

→ Emma and David are so adorable. I love all their scenes together. Their relationship is fascinating, because it could be so easily read as a friendship, or a brother-sister relationship, when it is in fact neither of those things. But because of the age difference, the ambiguity lets your imagination run wild. The non-traditional boundaries of this relationship makes it so much more appealing. And unlike Emma and Mary Margaret, David and Emma were never close before the curse broke. And how much do I love Emma? This whole episode she was basically suck in the “anger” stage of grief, and her belligerent “How do other people deal with death?” was just a perfect embodiment of that. Jennifer Morrison kills it as usual.

Episode Review: Supernatural 11×20

You know how the cardinal rule of writing is “Don’t put God in the story”? You know, literal deus ex machina and all that jazz? Because once you put God in the story, everything kind of becomes redundant. If God could just fix everything, why doesn’t he? What is the point of anything if there is a God?

I’m going to need some more material before I come to a conclusion about how I feel about Supernatural literally putting a face to God. My preliminary feeling is that they’ve done it as well as they could have, if they absolutely had to do it. I mean, if you’re going to put God in your story, you may as well make him a deist.

Because that’s what this is, right? An affirmation of deism? Not to get too theological here, but it looks like Chuck (I’m gonna call him Chuck) created the world, then took a step back and let things progress on their own, from nature to nacho cheese. It’s a stark contradiction of what religions like Christianity and Islam preach, which is that God created everything and is behind everything.

So. To get to the heart of the matter. Chuck is God. Well. Haven’t fans been predicting that since, what, season five? I never believed it; I always thought it was too easy. Then again, I never actually thought the writers would have God show up. I assumed he would continue to be MIA, a reflection of reality in a show that otherwise channels the supernatural on every level. But I suppose with the inclusion of Amara, God’s sister (!), there was no way to keep that up.

In any case, the reveal was kind of (a lot) anti-climactic. Dramatic irony was not the writers’ friend here. That said, the conversation between Chuck and Metatron then played out beautifully, in a give-and-take that makes God seem like a pretty ordinary guy – a reflection of his creations.

The best scene of the episode was, of course, the final one. Metatron extols the virtues of humanity, including that they never give up, just as we cut to Dean doing just that – not giving up on his brother. As the scene plays out to Chuck’s lovely rendition of “Fare Thee Well,” the fog fades, the dead are back to life, all is well, and Chuck appears to Sam and Dean – God appears to be finally showing his hand.

Miscellaneous Observations:

→ Even if spoilers hadn’t already let the cat out of the bag about Chuck being God, the gigantic “World’s Greatest Dad” mug sitting beside Chuck would have probably let me in on the secret before they revealed it. Nice one.

→ So, judging by Chuck’s song and everything he said about being sick of witnessing Amara destroy his creation, I would tentatively wager that he plans to sacrifice himself to get rid of Amara, leaving the universe truly God-less. It would make the most sense – if he’s the light to her dark and they’re two halves of a whole and all that, I doubt one can exist without the other. The other option is to seal Amara back up again, this time with the help of Sam, Dean, and Cas, but I just can’t see Supernatural continuing normally with God just existing in the background. Frankly, I’m not sure how it’s going to continue anyway, now that Sam and Dean have met freaking God. Man, I miss the days when this show was just monsters on the road.

→ It’s interesting that, though this series is generally very big on Judeo-Christian mythology, the creation story they’re going for here contradicts that. Correct me if I’m wrong (and I was raised Muslim, so I could be wrong), but there is no “darkness” in Christianity or Judaism nor does God have a sister.

→ It’s a testament to how much I dislike and distrust Metatron that my first thought upon seeing him with a dog was, “Don’t kill the dog! Please don’t kill the dog!”

→ That scene with Sam getting that baby girl out of the car was super adorable! I know Dean is the one who got to play father and who is usually shown good with kids, but I think we should fix that. More scenes with Sam being fatherly, please.

Episode Review: Once Upon a Time 5×20

This is the first episode I’ve truly enjoyed since this godforsaken Underworld arc began.

Here’s the thing: I really, really don’t ship Captain Swan. I don’t even know why. I certainly wish I did; it would be way more fun that way. Before the Frozen arc (one of my favorites!), I actively despised the pairing. For some reason, having Elsa in the mix warmed me up to Captain Swan a whole lot. Now, I no longer despise the pairing, but I don’t love it either. Best that could be said is that I’m ambivalent. So having a whole arc essentially devoted to Emma and Hook’s love wasn’t appealing to me in the least. Not to mention the grimy, red sepia filter of an Underworld wasn’t doing anyone any favors (though it provided the appropriate ambiance, I suppose).

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, no, I didn’t love this episode because Emma left Hook behind. I loved it from the minute it began. So let’s get started:

What I Loved:

→ Emma’s backstory! The moment I saw Emma in glasses, I leaped up in joy! Emma is my favorite character on the series, and I eat up any scene she’s in. Then she runs into bail bonds person Cleo Fox, who delivers to Emma a speech parallel to the one Emma gave in the pilot episode. That’s when I started laughing maniacally (my brother thought I had gone mad), as I realized we had just found out how and why Emma became a bail bonds person. And when Emma took off towards her yellow bug, with Cleo sauntering calmly after her in a mirror image to Emma in the pilot, I knew exactly what was about to happen. This entire plotline was utterly delightful. Watching Emma easily pick her way out of the handcuffs (classic Emma), followed by Cleo freaking out only to find Emma casually lingering at her computer, was priceless.

The rest of this plot then became way too convenient, but I loved it anyway. Cleo is inadvertently killed while she and Emma are running away from the police, and Emma takes up her mantle as a bail bonds person. Not only that, she tracks down Cleo’s daughter Tasha, who Cleo gave up for adoption. Then, in a symbolic moment, Emma picks out her red leather jacket from Tasha’s store, giving this storyline some very neat closure. Overall, I honestly think it’s one of the best flashback plots this series has ever done.

Despite how utterly ridiculous Once Upon A Time can be sometimes, one of the things I love most about it is that it’s all about women’s stories. It passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. It prioritizes women’s stories over anyone else’s. This is not to say that its treatment of women’s storylines is always flawless (far from it), but its lead female characters are hardly ever given the short end of the stick. Especially Emma. This episode was a great example of that.

Sidenote: That owner of that lobster house in Maine may not think the food is worth sticking around for, but that view certainly is! Wow! I mean, would you look at this:


Other Sidenote: As someone who wears glasses, I always love seeing Emma (or anyone, really, but especially Emma) in glasses. But I can never stop wondering what happened to them. Did Emma get LASIK? Does she wear contacts (sometimes, when I peer into Emma’s eyes, I think I can see the outline of contacts)? If so, does she, like, carry her contacts/contact case/contact solution with her to the Underworld? What did she do in season 2 when she was, without warning, sucked into the Enchanted Forest? What about in Neverland?

→ Regina being a protective sister to Zelena. Sure, she’s only been “a devoted sister for all of three hours,” to quote Hades, but I’m already loving the dynamic! Regina’s morals may be questionable, but what’s not in question is how fiercely she protects those she loves, once she decides they are worthy of her protection. Zelena’s always been given a bad hand, anyway. If Regina, Mass Murderer Extraordinaire, can be given a pass, then Zelena can too. That quiet moment between them, when they exchanged smiles and Regina handed Zelena her daughter back? Precious.

→ Zelena hesitating before stepping into the portal with Hades, insisting that she couldn’t leave her sister behind. I mean! What a transformation! I totally buy it, though. Memories come with intense feelings, and since Regina and Zelena now remember loving each other, it’s believable to me that they so easily love each other once more. I mean, I have a feeling this sisterly bond won’t last too long, since next episode will involve Regina and the others trying to convince Zelena of Hades’ treachery, but who knows? Maybe this show will finally give Zelena a break.

→ Emma’s snark. Always and forever. I mean, her creeped-out “Okay…” when Cleo called her pretty had me doubled over. Also: “Let’s have that be the last time we do this today, okay?”

→ Henry being relevant. I think the show managed to find a pretty clever way to keep Henry important, and also to tie him to the Story Book.

What I Didn’t Like:

→ Cleo dying. I mean, was that really necessary? I get that her death makes Emma’s transformation into Good Citizen more meaningful, but I still think it could have happened with Cleo alive.  I also don’t understand why they had to run.  Aren’t bail bonds people law enforcement adjacent or something? They carry a license, right? Couldn’t Cleo have just told them she was chasing Emma? She seemed awfully scared they’d get shot, but I have a really difficult time believing that the cops in Nowhere, Maine are gonna shoot two petite white women on sight.  Speaking of white women, way to miss an opportunity to cast a woman of color.

→ Belle being sucked into a box. Look, I get it, Rumple has to get her out of the Underworld somehow, and it’s not like he’s about to carry her. Still, the sight of a Sleeping Belle (ha!) being sucked into a box and tucked into someone’s pocket left me with a bad taste in my mouth. This was exacerbated by the show previously giving us a decent taste of how awesome Belle can be when she’s fully in the know and functions as Rumple’s reluctant partner rather than his ignorant wife (I mean, remember her snarky “This isn’t murder, we’re opening a locker”?). I know she chose to put herself under a sleeping curse, but narratively speaking, is there any better way to place her into the position of non-acting agent? Also, what kind of logic was that on her part? She was, what, three months pregnant? Hades wouldn’t have been able to take her kid for at least another four months. She couldn’t have waited a bit? (This is why I blame the narrative, because Belle ain’t stupid.)

Overall, great episode, one I can see myself watching again. I look forward to our return to Storybrooke!