The only thing I want to talk about right now is that Rutina Wesley apparently got engaged to another woman who also is a chef. No wait. I also want to talk about how butch Sara Ramirez’s first butch appearance on Madam Secretary is butching our teevees tonight. Hey Riese reviewed the series finale of American Horror Story: Cult for you. And Valerie poured her heart into a super emotional episode of Supergirl. Tomorrow Carmen’s going to give you some Sara Ramirez thoughts and Valerie will be recapping the full week of CW crossover episodes because of some gayness that may or may not get us all killed by shippers. Get excited!
Queen Sugar 214-216
Written by Carmen Phillips
We start the final trio of Queen Sugar episodes in the moments following Darla’s stunning confession that Blue may not be Ralph Angel’s biological son. She’s sorry, she didn’t want to hurt Ralph Angel. But, she also knows that her sobriety- and their future as a family- is dependent on her telling her truth. Ralph Angel begs her not to do this, and I have to give serious credit to actor Kofi Siriboe here because I don’t remember the last time I saw a heartbreak this complete on television.
Blue has been Ralph Angel’s entire world from the very first scene of the pilot episode, when Ra leaves him alone with Kenya in a park while he robs a liquor store so that they enough money to eat. Ralph Angel is far perfect, particularly throughout the second season where his toxic masculinity in the treatment of his sisters and Darla have been unbearable, but his love for Blue is unwavering. Over the last three episodes, Siriboe turns Ralph Angel’s trademark stoicism into something much more painful. It feels as if he has hollowed Ralph Angel from inside out, turning the character into a mere shadow of his former self as he tries to navigate this new revelation.
Bianca Lawson’s Darla continues to raise the bar. One of my problems with the revelation of Blue’s contentious paternity is that it allows for Queen Sugar to not have to deal with Ralph Angel’s mistreatment of Darla. Ralph Angel is cold, if not cruel, towards Darla whenever their love becomes inconvenient of him or requires emotional growth. He lashes out his frustration and turns his words into knives. The show frames Darla as a villain for withholding the truth of Blue’s paternity, but the Bordelons certainly treat her that way.
It’s heartbreaking to watch Nova, Charley, and Hollywood turn their backs on her in turn. With each new challenge, Lawson shrinks Darla into herself further. We watch as she tries to make herself smaller, more invisible, unsure of how to fight back even when she knows that telling the truth was the absolute right thing to do. It’s remarkable that Lawson is able to sell that internal moral conflict, even as Darla simultaneously tries to keep her head above water on her own sobriety.
In the season finale, it’s revealed no one can find Darla. Her NA sponsor says that she hasn’t been at meetings and left that morning to “be alone”. Ralph Angel, and the audience, jumps to the worst possible conclusion he moves from from one of Darla’s old haunts into another, each increasingly grim. Where does he eventually find her? Swimming. We learned earlier this season that Darla broke a few state records on her high school swim team. I love that the show tricks us into fearing the worst about Darla and for Darla, but actually she’s taking care of herself. She’s finding solace where she can, under the cool chlorine water.
She understands that Ralph Angel may forgive her for keeping this secret for so long, but she pleads with him to never stop loving Blue. How could he?, Ra wonders through tears streaming down his face. He arrives to the conclusion I’ve been waiting from him, “Blue is the blood in my veins. Even if it ain’t mine in his”.
Darla tells Ra that she needs to leave Saint Josephine’s for a while, so that she can fully put herself back together. She’s going home to her parents (we found out earlier that her mother is also a recovering addict who kept that information from Darla, so they have their own healing and mending to do). She asks that he keep Blue safe, tell him his mom is sick, but she’s getting better everyday. Bianca Lawson is putting her soul into this role.
Nova is in the process of re-discovering herself after disentangling from her past unhealthy relationships. She’s getting back to her community roots. She asks one of the young men to whom she used to sell marijuana to pawn the jewelry given to her by Dr. DuBois and Calvin. She’s ready to move on.
A community leader, Mother Brown, approaches Nova about a block grant that is being given to the Ninth Ward. She asks that Nova consider joining the Taskforce that will decide how the money is spent, but Nova demurs. Later on, at a house party, Nova gets into a small spat with a fellow activist who’s still taking issue with the turn her journalism took during her relationship with DuBois. It feels pretty safe to say that she’s a narrative foil so that Nova can understand why it’s important to work with Mother Brown, something I am looking forward to seeing in season three.
Nova ends her season writing an op-ed for the New Orleans Daily News, entitled “The Wounds That Heal: Land and Trump’s America”. She submits the column to her editor apprehensively. It’s the most personal piece she’s ever written. The editor loves it so much that the paper decides to run the essay in the Sunday edition, above the fold.
I love the full arc of this moment. The back half of the season opened with Nova writing a front page article with the help of Dr. DuBois. It traded in on her humanity and betrayed who we knew her to be. The season closes with Nova writing her first truly personal essay. It’s from her heart, about her father and her family’s blackness and their land. That essay lands her back on the front page. This time as her own woman and on her own terms.
The other Bordelons are keeping very busy! Aunt Vi told Hollywood and Nova the truth about her Lupus diagnosis. Hollywood asks her to marry him (their wedding is going to be my favorite thing next year! And it hasn’t even happened yet!). Charley and Remy finally break up; I can only hope that it’s for good this time. She’s not done playing chess to win back her mill’s financial independence from the Landry’s economic clutches. And Micah is turning into quite the young activist, winning a fight to have his high school take down their confederate memorabilia.
Queen Sugar’s second season was a ride full of ups and downs. I’ll be honest, it ultimately left me feeling more frustrated than I wanted, particularly from a show whose first season soared to such heights. They persevered through a sophomore slump. They probably would have benefitted from a more steadying hand from series creator Ava DuVernay. The filmmaker penned the finale, but was away directing A Wrinkle in Time for Disney during most of the second season’s production. I also can’t help but wonder if they’ve suffered a bit from the constant show runner turn over.
That said, even a bit dinged up Queen Sugar remains nothing less than a marvel of storytelling. It’s unyielding. It loves. It never stops loving. And that’s why I can’t help but continue loving it back.
Grey’s Anatomy 1408: “Out of Nowhere”
Written by Carmen Phillips
Do You know what’s awkward? Running into your ex on the elevator while she’s standing next to her new hook up. Your best friend is standing behind them and you haven’t even had your morning coffee yet. THAT’S awkward.
Pour one out for Arizona y’all. No one should have to go through this.
Everyone’s day only gets worse from there. The entire hospital has been plunged into a panic thanks to a cyber attack from, as Bailey oh-so delicately puts it, “some Cheeto- stained pirate nerd” hacking into Grey Sloan Memorial. The hackers are using the hospital’s newly networked technology to take hostage all of the patient records, the CT machines, the blood bank, you name it. They want 4,932 bitcoin or they will happily let a hospital full of people die. How much is 4,932 bitcoin you ask? Oh just 20 MILLION DOLLARS.
You see, Bailey recently announced that Grey Sloan will be hosting a big deal surgery competition thanks to Jackson’s anonymous donation. So, the hackers know that they are good for money. Bailey and Jackson agree to cut the check, but the FBI will not let them. Something about future national security risks? Instead everyone is forced to play wait-and-see with patients lives, which makes absolutely no sense to me.
A fun side effect of this man-made disaster is watching the various doctors pull some Macgyver shit all around the hospital.
The OB-GYNs are short staffed. Bailey gives Carina “temporary privileges to stop watching ladies masturbate and to help pull babies out of people”. Her patients are a lesbian couple who gave up on their home water birth about halfway through and came to the hospital instead. The birthing mom says that she wants “all your drugs, and machines, and robots”, so I think she came on the wrong day.
Carina pages Arizona for help. The patient wants an epidural, but they do not have access to meds during the hack. She’s too far gone to be moved to another hospital, despite her request to “not have [her] baby by flashlight!” Carina suggested that the patient’s partner stimulate an orgasm to help with pain management, because of course she did, and now the patient is doubting all of her medical advice.
Carina knows that Arizona is kind and good with patients. She thinks she might be able to help calm the birthing mom down. Carina and Arizona work together to coach the lesbian couple through having their baby in the freaking hospital hallway!
Speaking of McGyver medicine, Meredith is in the middle of removing a patient’s spleen when the power goes out in her surgery. She has to switch from a laparoscopic procedure to open her up fully. Intern Glasses tells her that the blood bank is locked down after it’s too late. Meredith briefly panics; she’s operating without access to blood. Then she has the genius idea to hook Glasses up to the patient (they are the same blood type) as a live donor! See, some Macgyver shit!
Meanwhile, Dr. Webber is busy teaching all of the doctors and residents how to complete medical tests and charting by hand. At one point he tells DeLuca to turn a patient upside down and dip him in ice to stimulate the vagus nerve! At another, he shows Kepner that by attempting to read a newspaper from behind a blood bag, you can see if the patient has a clinically significant amount of blood in their belly. The Grey’s writers’ room dubbed this “Richard Webber’s Ye Old Times Medicine Show”. It’s hilarious.
Finally, we have Alex and Jo and adorable little Frankie. Frankie has a blood disease that causes him to throw clots and stroke out easily. He’s typically on anticoagulants, but they were supposed to reverse them so that he doesn’t bleed out during his scheduled surgery. The problem is that Frankie’s medical charts are locked out along with everything else, so no one’s clear about how far along Frankie currently is in that process. Jo is running all over the hospital trying to get an answer.
She finds out what Frankie needs at the last possible minute! She tries calling Alex. She tries texting Alex. Nothing is working. She’s running, face down in her phone, when a voice makes her blood turn into ice.
It’s sickly sweet, the kind of warmth that you feel right over a blade’s edge, “Hey Brooke…”
She looks up and we know exactly who she sees before the camera even pans past his plastic smile. It’s her abusive ex husband. He’s played by Matthew Morrison, which is such incredibly perfect casting. If Glee’s Mr. Schuester wasn’t born to play an abusive creep, then I don’t know who ever was.
He finishes his sentence, “… Oh, it’s Jo now. Right?” He pauses. His smile fades into something shaper, eyes still sparkling but filled with menace, as he waits for her to process what is happening.
Jo’s eyes glaze over, the color draws out of her face. She loses her breath and turns woozy. And that’s when the screen goes black.
We haven’t talked about this together yet, but I’m glad that that Grey’s Anatomy didn’t cast Jo’s abuser as some big hulking slab of muscle who only slithers in the dark. He’s someone who on first appearance feels warm and charismatic. Another doctor. He’s slight of build, even. He’s someone that an average person would say, “oh there’s no way he could be a monster”.
This is something that women have already long known, and in the last few weeks the entire country has finally been forced to reckon with, but there is no one way to be a monster. They come in every shape, in every size, and often in the sheep’s clothing that you least expect.
+ I couldn’t stop laughing at all the little quips in tonight’s episode. More than once, I wished that my review this week was just me quoting the show back at all of you!
+ Be on the lookout! Arizona and Carina are just getting started! Grey’s show runner Krista Vernoff told TVLine, “People have commitment issues in the world and Arizona happens to be one of those people. And Carina also happens to be one of those people. And there’s a lot of fun to be had looking at that down the line. But don’t think for a minute that love story is over.”
+ Carina thought her last patient had the saddest climax she’s ever seen, but it turns out that the screen was just frozen thanks to the cyber hack.
+ “I do not go into ladies’ vaginas because I do not like to mix business with pleasure.” Arizona Robbins. Never change.
How to Get Away With Murder 408: “Live, Live, Live”
Written by Natalie
Connor shows up at Laurel’s place to confront her about dragging Oliver into her plot to avenge Wes’ death but he’s thwarted; everyone’s there to beg him not to tell Annalise and, if he’s not going to help, at least not stop them from carrying out their plan. Connor directs most of his ire toward Frank.
“This is why Annalise hates you. You never grow up, you never learn,” Connor taunts. “All you are is this little boy that’ll do anything to make Mommy happy. The only difference now is Mommy’s Laurel instead of Annalise!”
Frank lunges for Connor’s neck, pining him against the door and choking him, until everyone else pulls him away. As he’s pulled back, Frank elbows Laurel in her belly, but she ignores the discomfort and works to convince Connor to stay quiet. Connor promised Laurel that he’d repay her for all the lies he told after Wes’ death and now, she says, is his chance. He begrudgingly agrees and pledges to attend the party with Oliver to make sure nothing goes wrong.
The Scooby Doo Gang’s plan to bring down Antares is dumb. It is a dumb plan, predicated on all these people having this deep and abiding love for their fallen comrade that never actually existed. It is a dumb plan, filled with more holes than a block of swiss cheese, and yet, for a while, it looks like it might work.
Michaela is finally able to coax Tegan’s purse (and keycard) from her. She and Asher synchronize their watches and he delivers the card to Oliver who then works to lift the Antares files off the Caplan & Gold servers. All that’s left to do is return the keycard and escape with the flash drive of Antares files. But because these people have learned absolutely nothing from the handful of murders and they’ve committed and/or covered up, they each divert from the plan in meaningful ways…and those changes ultimately doom them.
Laurel decides to come to the C&G party, even though the plan was for her to stay home. Despite being encouraged not to call each other, thus creating a record for the police to inevitably find, Connor calls Annalise to tell her what’s happening at C&G and then calls Oliver to tell him what he did. Oliver can’t keep his mouth shut either — telling the gang about Simon’s crush and that Connor blabbed to Annalise. Asher wants to do something more decisive to implicate Simon: plant Tegan’s keycard in his coat pocket.
“You don’t change a plan in the middle!” Michaela yells, ignoring the irony that by coming downstairs to check on their progress, she’s changing the plan too.
They almost had it — they were almost home free — but because they couldn’t stick to the plan, Asher, Michaela and Laurel are downstairs discussing the plan to frame Simon when their patsy overhears. Simon demands answers, threatening to go to Tegan about what he’s heard. Laurel offers him a bribe to say quiet but Simon wants to know what’s going on, starting with what’s in the bag that Laurel’s clinging to like a life preserver.
When Laurel won’t hand it over, Simon lunges for it, jostling Laurel and snatching it from her shoulder. He digs inside and because Simon was never as smart as he thinks he is, he pulls out Laurel’s gun instead of the hard drive. Simon’s stunned that she’d bring a gun into a workplace — frankly, I’m stunned that he’s stunned — and waves it around capriciously as Michaela, Asher and Laurel try to disarm him. Simon steps back to avoid them, trips over an office chair and inadvertently shoots himself in the head.
Asher panics and rushes the grab the gun, fearing that it’ll be traced back to Laurel. “Thankfully,” it’s an unregistered firearm and the girls urge Asher to put the gun back where it was. Oliver interrupts and, because he’s clearly a rookie at this whole “getting away with murder” thing, he’s aghast and rushes to help.
There was a flash-forward from earlier this season where Isaac mistakes Michaela for Annalise and it turns out, that was pretty predicative. After she gets over the initial shock of what’s happened, Michaela shifts her attention toward getting them out of out this mess, just as Annalise would do. Michaela hands Laurel her bag and tells her to go back to her apartment before she’s seen. In the past, Michaela’s always sought the approval and love from a mommy — first, Annalise, then Tegan — but, when she wipes the blood off Laurel’s face with a Kleenex, she becomes a mommi herself.
Michaela takes the keycard from Oliver’s pocket, wipes it of their fingerprints and plants it on Simon. Then she takes the gun from Asher, wipes it down and returns it to where it landed. With the scene set and Oliver performing chest compressions, Michaela instructs her boyfriend to call 911.
She heads back to the party, still covered in Simon’s blood and turns on the hysterics. She pauses long enough to tell Connor to what’s happened and to get over to Laurel’s place before the cops show up. Tegan rushes over to her intern and Michaela resumes her act.
As instructed, Laurel hops in a cab and heads home. She listens to the voicemail that Annalise left — an offer of help and a promise of trust — and redirects the cab to Annalise’s hotel. She climbs into the elevator and blood starts to drip down her leg — a result of Frank’s inadvertent elbow. Those handprints we’ve been seeing on the wall of Annalise’s elevator in the show’s flash-forwards? They’re Laurel’s — she gets stuck in the elevator and slides down to the floor, as the worst of the labor pains kick in.
The elevator’s call button doesn’t work, nor does Laurel’s phone, so she’s left to cry out for help until she passes out in a pool of her own blood. Thankfully, Annalise hears her cries and after she calls for help, she pries the elevator doors open. Annalise can’t open the elevator gate, though, and tries to wake Laurel up by jostling her ankle. A shift in Laurel’s positioning reveals that she’s given birth and an already frantic Annalise grows even more desperate.
Annalise grabs Laurel’s coat through the grate and pulls her body closer to the gate so she can reach the baby. Eventually, she’s successful and, per the instructions of the 911 operator, she cuts the umbilical cord and ties it off with her phone charger. Annalise slips the boy’s lifeless body through the gate and begins performing CPR.
“Live, live, live,” Annalise begs as she does compressions on the baby’s tiny chest, and as the show’s midseason finale, fades to black, we hear the baby’s first cries. He lives, for now.
Meanwhile, back at C&G, the party’s cleared out and Michaela, Asher and Oliver are being kept separate, waiting to be questioned by detectives. Connor calls to report that Laurel hasn’t made it home and Michaela’s aghast as she watches Asher get arrested. And, of course, at that moment, in the hallway outside Laurel’s door, Connor has to say “I told you so” and spills their entire plan, just as Dominic (AKA Laurel’s dad’s henchman AKA the guy that killed Wes) is hovering nearby.
Final Thoughts/Unanswered Questions:
– Aja Naomi King and Karla Souza (Michaela and Laurel) were amazing in this episode. Their best performances on HTGAWM to date.
– The scene between Bonnie and Annalise — as compelling as it was and as compelling as delving into their history has been — seemed awkwardly injected into this episode.
– Also? I still have no idea what Isaac’s real motivation is here and I vacillate between not caring and just being creeped out by his presence. Why is he at the hospital when Laurel wakes up? Does he know her or does Annalise tell him?
– Who’s baby is that? It looked a bit like Wes but I wondered if we were seeing the actual baby or if Annalise was hallucinating that resemblance and we were seeing him through her eyes. Whoever’s baby it is, he’s totally getting kidnapped by Dominic, right?