We’re working out the best day to bring Boob(s On Your) Tube to you, my friends. It looks like that day is going to be Saturday for the time being (except today which is Sunday because I had to do about 20 hours of adulting — real estate office, bank, calling people for quotes, bank again — yesterday and it wore me out!). I watched Once Upon a Time and the gay thing isn’t worth writing about yet; it’s just three seconds of Alice hinting she’s got girl feelings for another girl. I was going to write about Facebook Watch’s Strangers, which I mainlined on Friday because it’s gaaaaaay, but I think it deserves a standalone review, so look for that this week. And also I’m going to take over Jane the Virgin here in Boobs because Yvonne is overloaded doing brilliant longform original reporting and that beloved show comes on Friday nights now. Until then, allow me to remind you that picture of Sara Ramirez was real, Valerie recapped Supergirl, and Riese reviewed the first season of Harlots.
Here’s what else!
American Horror Story: Cult 708 “Winter of Our Discontent”
Written by Riese
This week on American Horror Story a number of things occurred that drove the story forward toward no real end, including additional murders, some gruesome flashbacks, and a moment of strained quasi-sexual physical contact between Winter and Ivy, who I think we’re supposed to believe are actively engaged in a carnal relationship. Furthermore, we acquired additional Kai Origin Stories, which thus far have come together to paint an uneven and inconsistent portrait of a man and/or movement. Kai is getting merciless and sloppy, and the women are getting angry and resistant, quoting Valerie Solanas and calling men “turds,” but ultimately not managing to amass any real power. Bodies are dropping like the boxelder bugs I slaughtered last week on my porch!
“Your bang-ability would go way up if you just smiled,” an inane Aryan man in double-denim tells Ivy at the Butchery, where she’s been asked to force the troops to eat healthier. Winter steps in and grabs Ivy’s arm before she can stab him with a fork.
See, Kai’s cult has transformed into a band of inane Aryan men in double-denim who want women to stay in the kitchen and feed them, a practice which the ladies note is some serious “Handmaid Shit.” But the wining and dining situation is hardly the most egregious Handmaid Shit we’ll be treated to this particular week, my friends!
Winter insists to Ivy and Beverly that her brother has simply lost his way, that once upon a time he was good and clear. We flashback to a new hackneyed history, to a time when Winter and Kai trolled social justice warriors online for sport, a practice which led them to accept an invitation to the local Judgement House, overseen by Pastor Charles, a religious lunatic who’s turned a run-down house into a horrorshow with live horrors.
Luckily, I visited the very disturbing Museum of Death this past weekend so I was oddly nonplussed.
Exhibits include a bloody-thighed woman chained into stirrups for an eternal abortion, a man strapped to a table and hooked up to myriad IVs pushing opiates and heroin through his veins, slowly killing him physically while his mind goes on endless journeys and a gay man who’s about to get stabbed through the chest when he’s rescued by Winter and Kai. Kai saves the prisoners and kills the preacher, and Winter refers to this incident as “Kai saving her life” but also — what?
Winter says this is when Kai lost his way and got addicted to amphetamines and the Dark Web. But when Winter attempts to have a heart-to-heart with Kai about how women are treated, she ends up cornered conversationally into, somehow, creating cult babies!
Kai: “You will be the mother of our messiah baby.”
Winter: “Kai, we can’t have a baby. That’s incest.”
Kai: “No no no. I’m not suggesting that at all. Samuels.”
Kai: “He’s beautiful, don’t you think? He will be the instrument of our union.”
Winter: “Our union?”
Kai: “Yes. As he enters you, I will enter him. That way, I will be the father, but you will remain pure and unsoiled. You cool with that?”
Thus we find Winter and Samuels, dressed in living history nightgowns, awaiting The Ceremony. Samuels, a certified dumbshit, notes “This is important work we’re doing. maybe the most important thing we’ll ever do,” and Winter is like, “I guess, I can’t believe I was a the Women’s March three months ago.” Me too girl, me too.
For sure a highlight of this week’s episode, dare I say the only highlight, was that Kai picked All-4-One’s “I Swear” as the messiah baby soundtrack for now and forevermore. “This is a holy space now, and this is a holy song now,” Kai says, playing All-4-One’s “I Swear.” I had All-4-One’s “I Swear” on cassette single, we’d listen to it at sleepovers while crying, which was a thing we did for fun in middle school. We cried. It was a weird time. What a song! I Swear! By All-4-One!
But Samuels can’t get it up. Winter hates the whole scenario and says it feels like rape. Kai yells, “It has to be done like this! It’s the only way!” and Winter is like “You literally made it up this afternoon, bye.”
It turns out that Samuels and Kai became bros 4 life when Samuels caught Kai selling prescriptions (by stealing his brother’s RX pads) and rather than arrest him, asked for a cut of the profits. Before long Kai was visiting Samuels’ extensive Nazi antique collection and engaging in sweet, sweet buttsex. Basically — Samuels can’t get hard for women except sometimes he can if he can also strangle them. Maybe he needs to find someone who shares his kink, listen I don’t know, but Kai tells Samuels his impotence problem is due to Samuels not leaning into his masculinity, which is “like electricity” because “with a man, there’s no energy drain, you’re building on one another exponentially.” Samuels insists he’s not gay, and Kai insists that there’s no such thing as gay or straight, and then they’re off to the races!
Winter’s picking up trash in an orange jumpsuit and a dunce hat when Samuels pulls up to serve gruel and then try to rape her, and I was like NOT TODAY SATAN I will NOT be watching a Ryan Murphy Show Rape Scene today I will not. Luckily Winter saves herself and all of us by murdering Samuels with a gun.
Over in Allyworld, Dr. Vincent visits Ally to say he’s scared about Kai, believes her about the cult, plans to get his brother institutionalized and will get her reunited with Oz if it’s the last thing he does. So Vincent hasn’t been in on it — Kai’s been stealing his files, and his prescription pad — and now Ally knows that Winter is Kai’s sister, too.
So Ally responds to Vincent’s promise to help by inviting Kai & Clones over for some Sloppy Joes and Secrets: she tells Kai that Vince wants him institutionalized in exchange for Kai’s word that he’ll reunite Ally with Oz. I mean sidenote though; where the fuck is Oz? Maybe he’s with Angelica.
Ally’s strong and mean now. “After months of you terrorizing me, forcing me to face my phobias,” she tells Kai, “You did the one thing my wife or your brother or all the meds in the world couldn’t do. You cured me. I’m not afraid of anything anymore.”
Which brings me to our final scene, in which Beverly and Vincent are brought before a jury of their peers wearing creepy masks and tied to chairs. Winter’s horrified by Kai’s intent to murder Vincent, but not so horrified that she won’t pitch in a little. Besides, she sold Beverly out, too — told Kai it was Beverly who offed Samuels, not her. Kai sends Beverly to the “isolation chamber,” a situation I absolutely CAN wait to see. He brutally kills his brother. And then Kai introduces the newest member of their little cult.
Written by Carmen
We’re now five episodes into Grey’s Anatomy. We have roughly 17 more hours to spend with each other, so it’s important that you know this about me right now, before we go any further: I do not like Owen Hunt. I have not liked Owen Hunt since he bellowed to Cristina Yang, “You Killed Our Baby” in a house full of their closest friends following her abortion in season eight and nothing in the following seven years has changed that. When I saw the commercials promoting Thursday’s episode as a hour-long Owen centric flashback to his time serving in Iraq, I groaned every single time. I was not looking forward to this. At all.
Yes, this episode had faaaaaar too much Owen Hunt (or Nathan Riggs for that matter) than anyone really needs in their life. It barely had enough Teddy Altman, Megan Hunt, or sweet little Farouk and his adorable doe-like eyelashes to make up for Owen’s perpetual sulk. Still, I found myself surprisingly endeared by the final credits roll. Thursday night’s Grey’s Anatomy was an elegant “fix-it”. It not only found a way for Owen and Amelia to maturely end their mess of a marriage on their own terms, but also for Nathan Riggs to leave us, and for Megan Hunt to get the happy ending that I desperately wanted for her, despite only knowing her for such a short time.
We begin with ceiling fans twirling. Ceiling fans have traditionally been significant to Owen. They remind him of helicopters and Iraq, which we first learned as he began his battle against PTSD in season five. Now we know the final missing piece of that puzzle, helicopters trigger him in part because he put his sister on one in 2007 and she ended up kidnapped.
Megan is leaving for her new life in LA with Farouk and Nathan. She promises Owen that they will visit each other up and down the coast, but he’s doubtful. He impromptu jumps in the car with her for a sibling road trip and that opens the way for our flashback.
This episode struggles under the weight of all its exposition as it tries to fill in the remaining holes of Megan Hunt’s mystery. To keep it simple, let’s go with this:
Megan Hunt was up for a promotion the day she ultimately goes missing, but Owen purposefully tanked her recommendations because he thought the job was too dangerous (absolutely none of his business, by the way). She goes to Riggs’ barracks and finds a necklace underneath some furniture. The necklace belongs to another woman. Riggs panics and uses it to propose marriage instead. Megan gleefully accepts the proposal. Later, Riggs comes clean to Megan about his one night stand, but it turns out that she cheated on him first. Still, she’s upset with the revelation and mad at Owen. So, she decides to take the medical helicopter back to base with an Iraqi woman she’s been treating, rather than travel with the rest of her team. The Iraqi woman turned out to be a terrorist fighter and that is how Megan gets kidnapped. The end.
Oh, and Lt. Teddy Altman looks hot in Army camo.
With that out of the way, I want to talk a bit more about Megan Hunt’s dreams for herself. When Megan and Owen were children, a family vacation went astray and ended with the Hunts tired, frustrated and seeking emotional refuge on a quiet stretch of beach in California. They splashed in the water, squealing and cheering until the sun went down. It’s her happiest, purest memory. It’s the memory that got her through the worst days of her kidnapping. She would pretend the the dessert sand was beach, that the bombs and yelling were the joyful noise of her family. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t fake the water. And so she promised herself, if she ever made it out, she was going to move to California and live on the Pacific Ocean.
Every single day for the rest of her life would begin with Megan sinking her toes into the cold water. It’s a promise that she is going to keep. No one is going to stop her.
Megan Hunt is tough as nails, with a smile that lights up any room. She’s funny as all get out, good at her job, and she doesn’t take shit from Owen ever- not for his love of Kenny Loggins, and not for his need to control her life. She tells her brother that her California plan makes her so happy that she can feel it in the tips of her fingers. The way she talks about it, tears spring to my eyes. She wants that kind of happiness for him, but first he is going to have to finally get out of his own way.
Owen returns to Seattle and Amelia. She knows what’s about to happen almost immediately after he walks in the door. He says that he’s sorry, but she understands. They don’t know each other (I’ve been screaming that at my TV since before they got married!). They both want something more. They take off their rings, together. They hug through tears and smile and breathe relief. It’s over.
For the first time in years, I find myself maybe feeling charitable towards Owen. I hope that he runs with this new beginning. I hope he finds his own happiness as opposed to continuing as a pit of toxicity for every woman that he encounters. I wish for his growth; I believe everybody deserves that much.
This Army-centric episode was the solo debut of Shondaland writer Jalysa Conway, a black female Air Force veteran. Congratulations Jalysa, and thank you for your service.
+ Nearly 40,00 veterans across the United States are homeless. Please visit here or call (877)-4-AID-VET to find out ways you can help.
Written by Carmen
There’s an interesting trend brewing for the Bordelon women. Up to this point we have dealt with the lasting influence of Ernest Bordelon on their lives; now we’re pivoting to explore the relationship between them and their mothers.
Charley and Darla have both had their moms recently visit St. Josephine’s. The reemergence of Charley’s mother, Lorna, forces Nova to face the looming specter of her own mother, Trudy. Trudy passed away when she was teenager. Nova still hasn’t forgiven Lorna for her role in the dissolution Trudy and Ernest’s marriage before she was born.
Confronted by an adult Nova, Lorna finally has the opportunity to tell her truth. She did not “steal” Ernest from his family; Trudy sent him away. She wanted to live her life freely, on her own terms and outside the traditional confines of marriage. Even after Nova was born and Ernest tried to come back, Trudy refused him again. Lorna was in awe, she knew that she didn’t have that same courage or self-determination. She stayed with Ernest, knowing he loved someone else.
Charley and Nova listen silently, twin tears streaming down their faces. Nova realizes that she can’t remember her mother ever badmouthing Lorna directly. Her resentment stems from someone else’s telling; Aunt Vi has kindled this particular flame.
We know that eventually Trudy and Ernest reunite, having Ralph Angel and completing their family. Nova looks back on these stories of her mother and takes the wrong lessons away from them. She thinks that Trudy regretted turning Ernest away. Nova decides to make a serious effort in her relationship with Dr. DuBois, a man that she can’t help but notice reminds her of her father.
It’s a decision that doesn’t last long. DuBois finally shows his true intentions while giving a national television interview with Nova. Disappointed that the first half of their segment together is not creating buzz online, he changes tactics and verbally attacks Nova on air. She’s betrayed. Later, in his attempted apology, DuBois reveals that he views Nova as an opportunity. He imagines them together as “the face of a movement”. DuBois is more interested in the potential of their fame than the unthankful work of community activism. He believes that Nova only remains in the Ninth Ward out of guilt. The minute he said it, I knew this man’s credit had run out. He fundamentally doesn’t understand Nova, and now she knows it too.
Nova lives in the Ninth because she sees its beauty and its strength. She revels in its blackness, its history. She isn’t held back there- she is free. In a quiet corner of her sister’s sugar mill, Nova ends her relationship with DuBois once and for all.
Then, Calvin returns to her life. Calvin was Nova’s other major love interest during Queen Sugar’s first season, a white married police officer. Calvin asks that Nova give him another chance. He tells her that she is his freedom. She’s the one part of his life, otherwise dictated by family and societal obligations, that is just for him. For what it’s worth, I genuinely believe that he is sincere.
This seems to be the moment when Nova finally get it. She finally understands the lesson she was was meant to take from her mother’s life, a woman whose legacy she carries on not only through their shared physical resemblance, but through their shared spirit. Nova may represent “freedom” to Calvin, but he will never be freedom for her. She can never be her full self around him. If they continue, he will become her prison. Trudy and Ernest came back together because Trudy realized that she felt freer with him than she did without him. She didn’t resign herself to live smaller; she didn’t compromise.
Nova lets Calvin go. In three episodes, she has released herself from two of her central love interests.
Perhaps I’m reading too much into what I’m going to say next. In fact given Nova’s second season arc so far, I am almost certainly reading too much into it. Still, I can’t help but wonder, when was the last time Nova felt free on her own terms? There is only one person on the show so far that Nova has said she felt free around:
And that person is Chantal Williams. The morning after the first time they had sex. I’m just saying, let’s keep a pin in this, yes? Let’s mark it here for future reference.
Chantal aside, Nova is slowly finding her way out of the woods. She’s grappling with the fact that she’s truly her mother’s child. She’s at a crossroads and I’m rooting for her.
We also must talk about Darla. Her parents have come to visit, after six years of silence. Michael Michelle and Roger Guenveur Smith give quiet, but devastating performances as parents of a recovering addict and a family dealing with the emotional scars her addiction has left behind. In particular the scenes between Bianca Lawson and Michelle are honest and heartbreaking. The real heartbreak, however, comes at the end of the episode.
With the encouragement of her parents, Darla realizes that she has not completed her amends to Ralph Angel. She has one secret left, and her continued sobriety depends on her coming forth with it. She takes him outside, so they can be alone among the family’s sugar cane fields, and tells him the hardest truth I have seen on the show so far: He may not be Blue’s father.
Yep. That happened. I have no idea where we go from here. We’ll check back in three weeks after Queen Sugar wraps its second season. Also, I’d like to shout out black queer director Cheryl Dunye for her work on episode 2.11 “Fruit of the Flower”.
How to Get Away With Murder
Written by Natalie
Bonnie arrives at Isaac’s office, desperate, drenched and enraged. She’s just come from a run-in with “Mae,” who we know right away is Annalise because few people could provoke this kind of response from Bonnie. She admits that she didn’t come to therapy to get better, she came to Isaac to hurt Annalise.
Bonnie wonders if she imagined the connection she had with Annalise or if their shared experiences both drew them together and doomed them from the start. She admits to trying to be what Annalise wanted — but that ultimately, their relationship was all about Annalise’s guilt.
The show’s hinted how Annalise and Bonnie’s mentorship/relationship began, but this week, we get to see its beginning, with a flashback to 2002. Annalise is an ambitious attorney, whose job hangs in the balance, as she defends the city councilman accused of raping a 14-year old Bonnie Winterbottom.
In an gut-wrenching performance from Liza Weil, Bonnie stoically recounts how her father, a janitor at City Hall, would take her with him to work and leave her in his basement office to be raped by the Councilman. The sexual assault only stopped because Bonnie got pregnant, though she can’t say for sure who the baby’s father was because she was being raped by several men, including her father, at the time.
Annalise doesn’t hide her discomfort well during Bonnie’s testimony and later, as she pours over the discovery, she tears up at the idea of cross-examining her. Annalise is reticent, but she can’t say no, for fear of looking weak. Her husband, Tom, wonders about the emotional cost doing the cross-examination and an emotional Annalise answers, “You know, not everything is about what he did to me.”
Everything may not be, but the emotions consuming Annalise, certainly are.
Still, Annalise does it — more forcefully after her job is threatened — and it is, without a doubt, the most chilling thing that HTGAWM has ever showcased.
I get why the show wanted us to see this. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), out of every 1000 rapes committed in this country, 994 perpetrators will walk free. Only 310 of them are ever reported to the police, just 57 of those reports lead to arrest and only 11 will be referred to a prosecutor. And, at every stage of the process, survivors see what HTGAWM showcased this week: unrelenting victim-blaming and the continued re-traumatizing of survivors.
I get that the show wanted to show us the way that victims are treated by the judicial system. They wanted us to be disgusted by it. Mission accomplished!
That said, I don’t understand is why they made Annalise do it. Why force a rape survivor to victim blame another survivor? It, like the repeated mentions that Bonnie was raped by several men, felt unnecessarily gratuitous and cruel.
Annalise wins the case and, despite being promised a promotion to named partner, she quits. Her own cowardice has broken her — the warmth between her and Tom is gone and she sips on vodka, despite undergoing expensive hormone treatment. Still, though, Annalise reaches out to Bonnie and offers her help — she thinks Bonnie would be a great lawyer — and so begins their toxic relationship.
Back in the present, Annalise is busy trying to scrape together 40 plaintiffs for her class action suit against the state. Nate warns her that Bonnie’s on her tail — combing through the same set of case files and tracking every one of Virginia Cross’ past clients as the system updates their attorney status — but Annalise is being discreet, offering bribes to the guards and not signing the regular visitors’ logs.
She finally gets to 40+ plaintiffs and Annalise allows herself a moment of celebration. There’s pure joy on Annalise’s face as she does a little victory dance..and then, it all comes crashing down. Bonnie’s managed to track Annalise’s moves using the security cameras, and, one by one, picks off Annalise’s would-be plaintiffs, destroying her class-action lawsuit.
When Bonnie returns to her car, after a day of deal making, Annalise waits for her. The conversation quickly turns to their origin story. The belief that Annalise only helped her out of guilt consumes Bonnie and she accuses her former mentor of throwing her out when she failed to live up to her expectations. Annalise tries to persuade Bonnie that her actions weren’t motivated by guilt and that she never viewed Bonnie as trash.
It’s a deeply uncomfortable scene that ends with no real insight into who’s right and who’s wrong, but Bonnie is deeply affected and the confrontation sends her straight to Isaac’s couch.
Bonnie wants Issac’s affirmation — that she’s right to hate Annalise, that she’s right to hurt her by destroying her class-action suit — but he refuses to give it. Instead, he counsels her that the first step in moving on from Mae is for Julie to admit that she loves her, despite her flaws. Again, this feels cruel to me — particularly since Bonnie described Annalise as an abuser — but Bonnie does as she’s told, repeating “I love her” over and over again until it hurts.
Her face wet with tears, her emotions raw, Bonnie slips up…she mentions wanting to work on the class-action suit and Isaac starts to put together the pieces. Mae is Annalise, June is Bonnie and Isaac looks petrified.
Meanwhile, Michaela is kicking ass and taking names at her internship at Caplan & Gold, even managing to finagle a job in the firm’s IT department for Oliver. To celebrate her success, her new mentor, Tegan, rewards her with a new pair of Louboutins. As Michaela slips on the studded blue heels, I notice the red soles and Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” starts playing in my head, “These expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes..” Those shoes feel like a really bad omen.
Apparently, giving someone a thousand dollar pair of shoes, doesn’t buy you much loyalty because after Tegan leaves for dinner, Michaela and Oliver use her log-in to access the Antares files. They barely get a peak at a cease-and-desist letter about Trent Stockton before the firm’s second layer of security kicks in and they’re forced to log-off. Still, though, Laurel, Oliver and Micheala are able to figure out that the C&D letter was sent a week before Stockton was killed.
While his boyfriend’s plotting with Michaela and Laurel, Connor’s trying to suppress his own vices, resisting the urge to hook-up with some guy off Humpr. But instead of going to hook-up, he runs to the last place you’d expect: Annalise’s hotel room. He still blames Annalise for everything that’s wrong in his life — because she picked him to be part of the Keating 5 — and wishes that he could trade places with Wes so he wouldn’t have to live with the guilt of what they’ve done. Annalise assures him that he’s stronger than he thinks and invites him to work with her on her class-action suit. It’s the most interesting Connor’s been to me all season long.
And then there’s Asher, sulking around, waiting for Frank to finish the LSAT or Michaela to get off work. He overhears a late-night phone conversation between Laurel and Michaela and gets suspicious. Whatever suspicions he has lead him way down the wrong road, as the show fast-forwards two weeks, and Asher is sitting alone in a jail, sobbing, the prime suspect in this season’s mystery.
Take that John Bennett…that’s what you get for leaving Daya.