We’ve been fundraising like a bunch of bananas this week, but TV still marched on! Heather had some serious questions about the new Westworld trailer. Natalie snagged you an exclusive sneak peak of OWN’s Ambitions. Generation Q cast some more people and then some more people. Nel recapped this week’s Pose and Natalie recapped this week’s very fun Good Trouble. And our whole TV Team weighed in on the legacy of Orange Is the New Black.
Reminders from the TV Team:
+ Harlots is dead to me. I imagine Riese will be writing about this eventually which is why I’m just up here in the reminders and not doing a full write-up but I just wanted you to know I’m MAD and SAD. kthanksbye. — Valerie Anne
+ I know I haven’t written about Critical Role in a long time but it’s because I’m two or three eps behind because of my Vampire Diaries/Originals binge but I just wanted to let you know that Beau continues to be a disaster lesbian, Yasha is also canon queer, and I’m still head-over-heels in love with both of them. — Valerie Anne
Here’s what else!
Burden of Truth 208: “The Right Road”
Written by Natalie
After weeks of struggling in prison, Luna’s forced to put on a brave face when her trial begins.
Owen is among the prosecution’s first witnesses and he explains how the crime scene was handled, trying not to implicate Luna directly. Chief Mercer isn’t nearly as kind: Luna had means, motive and opportunity to murder David Hanley and he’s certain that the Millwood PD found their killer. Armed with information from Owen, Joanna destroys Mercer on cross examination. While Mercer has a history of kindness towards the town’s white residents, he reserves cruelty for Millwood’s Indigenous community. Joanna accuses Mercer of taking Neil Bellegarde on a “starlight tour,” abandoning him outside of town, in -30° weather, in a t-shirt with no shoes. Bellegarde died of hypothermia and the revelation discredits Mercer.
With the prosecutor’s case on the ropes, he calls Taylor Matheson to testify and, rather than say anything to implicate Luna, Taylor claims to have forgotten the details of what happened. She blames her brain injury for her forgetfulness and Luna flashes her a knowing smile. With Taylor’s testimony thrown out, the prosecutor reaches for the last bit of evidence to prove pre-meditation: the incriminating voicemail that Luna left for Joanna which Joanna subsequently deleted. Called as a witness against her sister, Joanna lies and blames the deletion on her phone being hacked.
Joanna calls Mara Tran, a technology and hacking expert with whom she’d worked previously, to the stand to corroborate her lie. Mara does but, as she goes to step down, Joanna blindsides her (and everyone else) with questions tying her to hack on Hanley’s laptop. Turns out, the laptop had a security feature that took the photo of whomever tried to access the files and, on the night David Hanley was murdered, it snapped a picture of Mara. She admits that she killed him, accidentally, and the prosecutor is left with no choice but to drop the charges. Outside, Luna is greeted by a band of supporters and the fullness of the Canadian sky.
Ambitions 106: “What About Your Friends”
Written by Natalie
Earlier this week, I posed a question about Ambitions, the soapy new melodrama on OWN: “can love between two children of warring families bring peace?” This week’s episode of Ambitions seemed to answer that question with a resounding “hell no.”
This week, Carly joins her mother, Stephanie, at a Women’s Empowerment Summit. After the day’s workshops and panels have concluded, Atlanta’s most influential women gather for a gala and Carly has to grin and bear it as her mother moves from one hostile conversation to the next. When the pair crosses paths with the Purifoys — Lori and her mother, Juniper — the mothers are too busy trading barbs with each other to notice their daughters’ wordless flirting.
Carly and Lori get a moment to themselves as they order drinks at the bar but their game of “who would you rather” is interrupted by Lori’s mother who applauds them for their civility. But once Carly steps away, Lori’s actual game is exposed: she’s been charged with getting close to “Stephanie Lancaster’s brat” and delivering intel to her family. But, from the pensive look on Lori’s face as her mother walks away, everything hasn’t gone according to plan. Has the Pulfroy heir caught real feelings for “Stephanie Lancaster’s brat?”
Later, Carly’s trying to achieve a baby gay rite of passage — having sex in a bathroom stall — but Lori pulls away. They stumble out of the stall together only to find Stephanie, attempting to clean a wine stain off her dress, at the sink. Stunned, Stephanie asks Lori to leave so she can talk to her daughter. Carly’s understandably freaked out — this wasn’t how she imagined coming out to her mother — but, surprisingly, Stephanie’s fine with it.
“Darling, I don’t care if you like girls, you just can’t like that girl,” Stephanie says, forcefully, her voice dripping with fear that she’ll lose another Carlilse woman to the Purifoys.
Though she encourages Carly to keep up appearances, when Stephanie spots Lori in the ballroom, she can’t resist a confrontation. Stephanie warns Lori to stay away from her daughter but Lori won’t back down. She responds, Stephanie’s just mad that she’s “given Carly more orgasms in a few weeks than Mayor Lancaster has given her during their entire marriage.” The insult earns her a slap and Lori feigns hurt for Carly’s benefit. Lori’s mother threatens to report Stephanie’s assault but Lori calms the waters by accepting her apology and sharing a drink.
At home, Stephanie again urges her daughter to stay away from the Purifoys. When Carly refuses, her mother puts her foot down: as long as Carly lives in her house, she must obey her rules…a problem Carly remedies by deciding that she’ll no longer live in her parents’ house. Unbeknownst to Carly, though, as soon as she walks out, her mother collapses on the floor, poisoned by a drink from the gala.
Claws 307: “Chicken Pussy”
Written by Natalie
Eliot Laurence, the creator, executive producer and head writer of Claws, has a new show coming to Freeform this year called Motherland: Fort Salem. It’s a show about these young witches who, in exchange for freedom from persecution, defend the country from all threats, foreign and domestic. We don’t know much about the characters yet but, based on the series’ trailer, we do know at least two of the witches are queer. A female-driven show about witches featuring queer characters? That’s like Autostraddle catnip. But, after I watched Claws this week and watched the show do such an incredible disservice to its lesbian characters and its queer audience, I wondered how I could feel good about recommending an Eliot Laurence penned queer character.
The episode starts with the newly engaged Arlene and Quiet Ann at the OB/GYN getting their first ultrasound. When they can’t hear the baby’s heartbeat right away, Ann starts to assume the worst but Arlene tries to calm her down. Soon enough, the baby’s heartbeat echos through the exam room and the couple beams at the sight of their baby. Later, Ann and Arlene share the news with Ann’s brother, Henry, who’s running for governor. He’s excited to become an uncle but is distracted by the likelihood that the sitting governor will out him at an upcoming townhall. Ann lets it slip that she knows about where Gov. Patel gets his money which piques Henry’s interest. He pressures her into telling him what she knows and later, when the governor tries to out him at the televised townhall, Henry spills all the tea about Patel’s bribes and money laundering scheme.
The revelation immediately puts Ann’s life in danger so Desna rushes to find her. She finds Ann hiding out at the salon, heartbroken over having betrayed Desna. Determined to keep Ann safe, Desna drives her out to a rundown motel to hide. Arlene shows up later and once she realizes the stakes, decides to make an agreement with Mac and Melba to keep them safe. M&M seem amenable to Arlene’s terms and, just when it looks like everything’s settled, the leader of the Chinese mob sneaks up behind Arlene and slashes her throat.
So, in case you’re keeping count, over the span of four episodes, Claws has managed to hit not one, not two but three lesbian tropes. THREE! A trifecta of awful, overused and uninspired tropes. What a disappointment from a creator/producer/writer that should definitely know better (Laurence was also a writer on “The Big Gay Sketch Show”).
Grand Hotel 106: “Love Thy Neighbor”
Written by Carmen
Things you should remember about Grand Hotel: 1. Yoli, the gay hotel heiress who lives in the shadow of her supposedly more “beautiful” sister, isn’t out yet to her mother. 2. She’s dating Marisa, a masseuse in the hotel’s spa. 3. Yoli’s previous girlfriend? Yeah, she’s the dead girl that this entire TV show is about. Good, now you’re all caught up!
This week the hotel is hosting a very fancy schmancy fundraiser and the entire family has to attend. Yoli’s less than excited about being paraded around in public, but she makes a good show out of trying on dresses for Marisa anyway. Marisa obviously can’t come as Yoli’s date (thanks a lot, closet!) but she tries to boost her girlfriends confidence during the ‘lil fashion show. That is until Carolina, Yoli’s sister, shows up at her door. Yoli forces Marisa to hide under the bed – YIKES! Not a good luck! – and within minutes of Carolina entering the room, she’s shattered any little bit of confidence Yoli has left.
While under the bed Marisa just so happens to discover Yoli’s secret box filled with all her love letters and photos of Sky. Now everyone knows that Sky mysteriously “disappeared” last year, so it’s not long before Marisa puts two and two together. She confides to one of her work colleagues that her secret girlfriend has a secret ex and some bad shit went down. That colleague (Jason), who’s been secretly working on solving Sky’s murder, puts it all together too. Yoli’s secret is spreading – FAST.
The night of the fundraiser gala, Jason and Danny (another hotel worker/Sky’s brother) pull Yoli aside. They know that she was dating Sky before she died and they want answers. She gives them the same sad sob story that she told her step-sister Alicia last week: That she can’t come out because she doesn’t believe her mother, who already prefers Carolina, will continue to love her if she does. To be honest with you, I’m starting to think that Yoli is making the whole thing up to cover her tracks.
BUT! Then Yoli invites Marisa, work uniform and all, to dance with her on the gala floor. It’s her big coming out moment, staged for the entire family to see. Carolina surprisingly is overjoyed at the news. But their mother? She watches along and then walks out of the hotel lobby without saying a word. Yoli’s face shatters.
Maybe she was right all along.
Queen Sugar 406: “By The Spit”
Written by Carmen
UGH. I feel like sometimes Queen Sugar giveth, and then sometimes Queen Sugar taketh away. Last time we spoke, I was so delighted by Nova’s reunion with her old undergraduate professor and ex-lover Professor
Octavia Laurent Freddie Brooks. They were wrong for each other, but despite myself – I had to admit, they were hot. It was obvious their tornado was heading for disaster. I was just hoping we would get a few more deliciously fun and tension filled episodes before it did! Instead Queen Sugar ran through their entire plot and sent Freddie Brooks packing just as soon as she got here.
Octavia and Nova are enjoying their own secret little lovers world, secluded away in Nova’s book tour hotel room, when Nova receives word that her book has been nominated for a national award. Octavia hugs her and says congratulations, but her face says jealousy as soon as Nova’s back is turned. Later at at VIP academic reception that Octavia scammed an invite to on Nova’s behalf, Nova overhears her former professor throw her under the bus so that she can score a book deal instead. (It doesn’t work by the way, the publisher tells Octavia that they are looking for “new” voices. Which sucks for ageism, but Octavia is evil, soooo – eh.)
Nova’s figured out Octavia’s game by now – she’s going to ride her former protégé’s coattails to stage a comeback for her own career. Nova skips the next “Octavia arranged lunch” and the two have it out later in their hotel room.
It’s ugly and painful. Octavia knows exactly what to say to hurt Nova most. She’s also desperate and facing an unfair clock of age; it’s bringing out the worst of her in the fight. And still, through it all, it’s clear that Nova still loves her. A single tear falls across Rutina Wesley’s cheek, “You were my first in so many significant ways. I’ll always remember that.”
Then Nova closes her eyes to blink back whatever hurt is left as Octavia gathers her bags and walks out the door.
Ah Professor Freddie Brooks, we barely knew thee.
Killjoys 501: Run, Yala, Run
Written by Valerie Anne
KILLJOYS IS BACK, BITCHES!!! The first episode of the final season had us back in topsy turvy world, with smarty-pants Zeph and sharp-as-a-tack Dutch starting to figure out what’s what. Still in the clear from the memory zap is our girl Kendry, who can’t resist giving Dutch a big ol’ kiss because Aneela didn’t make it back from the Green, but Dutch looks enough like her girlfriend for Delle Seyah to pretend, just for a moment, that her love has returned.
It almost feels like this episode was one where the writers were like, “Fine you always wanted Dutch to kiss Johnny and Delle Seyah, but that never made sense, so here’s an upside down world where it’ll make sense for a minute, enjoy.” Which is the kind of fan service I enjoy.
Also of note, Zeph knows that their memories have been tampered with, but doesn’t remember her real self at all (unike Dutch, who is starting to remember), so she asks Dutch if they dated because she has a vibe and is hyperaware of how attractive Dutch is. I always appreciate friendly and casual reminders of a character’s queerness and it was a super cute and very Zeph way for them to do it.
Overall this season is set up to be extremely stressful and action-heavy and I, for one, am very excited about it. While final seasons are always bittersweet, the fact that they knew well in advance makes me excited to see how this story wraps up.
PS. The titles of this season’s episodes are AMAZING. They always are but I felt extra love for them, maybe because they’re the last.