It’s time to talk about teevee! Carmen wrote beautifully this week about losing M-Chuck on Survivor’s Remorse. I reviewed Facebook’s (no for real) new queer show, Strangers. Valerie worked through some sad but hopeful feelings in her recap of Supergirl. Riese told you why you should love Gaby Dunn’s new dark comedy. And our team weighed in on the show’s we’re watching to distract us from this nightmare world. Here’s what else:
American Horror Story 709: “Drink the Kool-Aid”
Written by Riese
This week on American Horror Story, the Michigan Lesbian came back WITH A VENGEANCE and yes, we buried a gay, but listen, sometimes a gay deserves burial. Lana Winters is here to carry us home. But also everybody in this show is terrible. American Horror Story! Wheee!
We continued our journeys into the annals of cult history, this time opening with Evan Peters, at times vaguely resembling late-in-life Elvis, playing the roles of Jim Jones (“the Kanye of cult leaders”) and David Koresh, regaling his Double-Denim Boy Army with sweet recollections of cults that killed all their members in order to “leave the vehicles of their bodies and ascend to the next level.” Kai’s delighted by the prospect of followers so dedicated they’d die for you, and demands that same pledge from his band of merry men. They’ve gotta be willing to die for him and also to be castrated, which is coincidentally a key element of the Autostraddle Employee Pledge.
But the few remaining women are on the fringes, keeping their distance from the storm of testosterone and musty basement sweat and fear-tears. Winter’s torn between Kai’s control and her own moral compass. And Kai’s just fucking with people now, like when he pulls Beverly out of solitary and harangues the Ally/Winter/Ivy love triangle onto his couch to demand group consumption of poisoned Kool-Aid. One guy opts out and gets shot and killed right there. The rest drink, hysterically, but of course it’s just normal Kool-Aid, which isn’t poisoned by poison, just by artificial colors and flavorings. “Why would I kill us?” Kai asks. “I’m running for Senate and dead people can’t vote!”
Ally and Ivy, together again!, face off. Ivy’s cowering, and Ally’s a tree. Ally wants answers, like how Ivy could do this, and put their son at risk. Ivy explains how stressful the restaurant was, and how she felt like “there was no control, like there was no boundary or structure to contain me or my feelings and I wanted someone to come in and say ‘do this, go there, believe in this, care about that.'”
“A daddy,” Ally responds, cool as a cucumber.
“I guess, yeah,” Ivy says, before digging in to how she hated Ally, and also how she loved taking her hands off the wheel. She doesn’t know how she could’ve been so stupid and weak but oh, it’s so great that Ally came back for her!
“I came back for Oz,” Ally snaps.
Winter, Ally and Ivy plot an escape that is quickly thwarted, and then Ivy and Ally plan another escape that is also thwarted. Winter apologizes to Ally, who’s like “For what? For fucking my wife, trying to drive me crazy, or trying to kill me?” Ah, to be alone in a room with your girlfriend and the girl you cheated on your girlfriend with who also tried to finger-bang you with very sharp nails. What a lesbian delight this is. Winter says “The election made me lose my mind” and girl, same, but we have not severed anybody’s limbs with a chainsaw, you know?
Oh right and Kai’s convinced it was his sperm bank deposit that created Oz, and demands Oz spend the night with him and the Double-Denims, who wear long winter underwear pajamas to bed, continuing to exude a vague Mormon vibe — Ally and Ivy reluctantly consent ’cause as long as Kai feels Oz is his messiah baby, he probs won’t kill him. But although initially delighted by this male energy, Oz eventually has no patience for Kai’s ridiculousness, biting back to Kai’s embellished Jim Jones fables (which involve everybody coming back to life on a new spiritual plane) with true facts from Wikipeida until he’s carried upstairs for bed by Daddy in another horrifying scene not because it is violent but because it involves a child and is wrong. Still, for a few hours Kai succeeds in convincing Oz he needs a Mom and a Dad, not two Mommies, and it’s a low blow and a cheap shot and it hurts.
Meanwhile, Ally’s made dinner for her wife, and a bottle of wine like they had on their honeymoon. “Tonight we start over,” Ally smiles. Ivy’s impressed by it all, as if Ally owes her something. AHEM the only person Ally owes something to is Hilary Clinton. Ally tells Ivy how painful it was, being in the psych ward alone, with no visits, no calls. Ivy says she was trying to protect her son from a lunatic, that Ally’s fears overwhelmed her, which is choice from a woman who spent that time period literally murdering people with knives. I guess we all have different thresholds for being overwhelmed. Ally recalls pulling herself together, finding something to fill the hole the fears had filled — a desire for revenge.
“This is the woman I’ve always wanted, strong and assertive,” Ivy says like a woman who has also done nothing to be the woman Ally wanted, either. “But it’s a passing phase, you’re all bluster and no follow-through. You’ll revert back to what you really are, a coward. So you can dream of revenge, but I’m not afraid of you, you’ll never do anything to me.”
“I already have,” Ally smiles to herself. Ivy’s eyes widen, as she begins to choke. The food was poisoned. Ally was just being nice long enough for Ivy to start eating and drinking.
“I want only two things in this life,” Ally says as Ivy collapses and begins bleeding from the mouth. “I want Oz all to myself, and I want to watch you die.”
And she does. And then Ally goes to the sperm bank, confirms that Kai is not Oz’s father, obtains paperwork that claims Kai is Oz’s father, invites Kai over, and tells him she’s ready to be a family.
“Where’s your wife?” He asks.
“She’s in the trunk, I killed her.”
“I had you all wrong, didn’t I?” Kai says a little bit later, chowing his Manwich. Kai’s impressed with himself. He’s a stupid man now, drunk on ego and power and amphetamines and alleged procreation. Ally flatters him, what an obvious choice he was for Oz’s father. “I’m fucking awesome!” Kai exclaims. “This is cosmic! I literally spoke this into existence!”
My notes from this part read: “The lesbian is smarter than Kai.”
Sarah Paulson told The Hollywood Reporter this week, “I don’t know if ever in life Ally has felt this powerful or capable. There comes a point when you realize that your life has forsaken you — you’ve got nothing in the world to live for except your son, and there’s no one you can count on — that basically, all bets are off. You’ve already been to the brink. There is no going back and when you’re pushed to that point, people can summon things in themselves they didn’t know were possible.”
Just two more episodes left of this bizarre television experience! Wow!
How to Get Away With Murder 406: “Stay Strong, Mama”
Written by Natalie
I’ve always doubted Oscar’s ability to really help Annalise escape her demons. But this week, Oscar manages to make progress and all it took for him to break through is potentially destroying himself (and his career).
Much to his own therapist’s chagrin, he hasn’t told Annalise about his sessions with Bonnie. When she discovers that Annalise is triggering Isaac’s own loss, the therapist urges him to get Annalise a new counselor, but Isaac refuses. He’s finally making progress with her and he believes that he’s the right one — perhaps the only one — who can help her.
Isaac leverages what he’s learned from his conversations with Bonnie — namely, that Annalise once lost a child — to push Annalise towards confronting her grief once and for all. He starts down that path by pushing her to confront her feelings about Sam. He challenges her to write a letter to him and suffice it to say, it does not go well. Instead of finishing her letter, she brings a picture: the picture of Sam, Annalise and their stillborn son. While it moves the conversation in the direction that Isaac wanted to go, the moment feels completely unearned. That said, it’s hard to feel anything but awe at the Viola Davis performance that follows.
“The whole world always makes me feel I’m not right the way I am. Sam wantin’ me to be the mother, my clients wantin’ me to be a hero,” Annalise cries. “I can’t be all those things! I can’t be strong all the time!”
Listen, there’s a lot about this show that I can critique, but that — that explanation of the burden of womanhood, and black womanhood, in particular — makes enduring all the other craziness worth it. There isn’t another show that articulates our experience and our pain as plainly as HTGAWM.
It’s worth noting that while we get confirmation here that the loss of a child and suicide are triggers for Isaac, there’s something else at play. Isaac first referred to Annalise as a trigger before he knew about their shared losses. There’s something else, something that I hope merits spending this much time on his backstory. Even if he is played by Jimmy Smits, I’m not here for him.
As Isaac grows increasingly unwound, his therapist’s concerns grow. Eventually, she ends up at Annalise’s door, introducing herself as Jacqueline Roa, Isaac’s ex-wife, and asking for help.
On the professional front, Annalise and Connor are fighting to save a family’s house. Annalise’s former cellmate, Claudia, sold drugs out of her mother’s house and now, in an effort to get Claudia to withdraw from the class action suit, the DA is threatening to take the home.
As Annalise points out, legally, the DA’s well within his right to do so. While it’s always great when HTGAWM shines a light on real-life issues, I cannot fathom a politician making civil forfeiture part of their campaign kick-off. Civil forfeiture is universally loathed — not just among poor people, as the show strangely implies, but by everyone — and there’s no way that an aspiring attorney general would wade into those waters.
So while the outcome of the case never seemed in doubt — ultimately, Annalise gets an injunction — the story wasn’t without some highlights: first, I adored the motherly relationship between Claudia and her son. We have a really warped image of incarcerated women and their families, thanks in large part to really warped depictions within pop culture, so I appreciated the small pushback on that narrative.
Second, we got to see this new supportive relationship between Annalise and Connor grow. Part of me wants to rail against their newfound closeness. After he’s carried so much hatred towards her for so long, it doesn’t make sense that things would thaw so quickly. But that impulse is overridden by how much I want to see Annalise have friendships/relationships/mentorships that aren’t toxic.
Meanwhile, Asher’s driving himself crazy over Michaela’s lies. He keeps imagining that Michaela and Laurel are having a lesbian affair — I wish, Asher, I wish — and goes to Frank to get advice. Frank encourages him to just talk to Michaela, which he does by interrupting her day at C&G. Michaela’s too busy to worry about Asher’s neediness, though: Laurel’s daddy’s in town for a meeting at Caplan & Gold which sends Michaela, Oliver and Laurel into a tailspin. They assume he’s there because of their attempted break-in and they’re freaking out.
Michaela does her part to ply information about Antares from Tegan by toasting with Tegan’s favorite gin. As they sip, things between the partner and her intern get a little personal. Tegan confesses that she’s given up having a personal life for her job.
“Who was she?” Michaela asks boldly.
Tegan chuckles at her her audacity, before admitting, “I loved Cora, not just for the sex. But I love my job more.”
I cheer this admission — another gorgeous queer character in Shondaland — and then start plotting. Tegan is queer, Annalise is queer. Tegan is hot, Annalise is hot (and Tegan concurs on this point). Tegan hasn’t had any for awhile and Annalise hasn’t gotten laid in six months. This has to happen right? Michaela’s two surrogate mommies have to hook up. Don’t let me down, Pete Nowalk!
Also, are there really all these beautiful, sex-starved, queer lawyers in Philly? I may have to move.
But I digress…Michaela coaxes Tegan into admitting that Antares is going public. Tegan warns that any bad press before the announcement could tank the deal so Laurel sets her sights on doing just that. Michaela and Oliver are just relieved that their attempted hack wasn’t detected.
“You are both missing the point. Antares going public is the reason my father killed Wes,” Laurel explains. “Denver had files on all of us, right? Which means he knew who I was…and my father. So Denver called him when Wes was about to turn against Annalise. We would’ve all been implicated in Sam’s murder, Rebecca, right when Antares was about to go public. All the shares would’ve tanked, and my father would’ve lost everything. So he decided to send Dominick and kill Wes.”
It’s a compelling argument — one that easily gets Oliver and Michaela on-side — but these kids are always wrong so I’m guessing that’s not what actually happened. Oliver manages to get the scoop on the IT changes at C&G and realizes that the only way to get into the server is via Tegan’s security badge. Michaela refuses to destroy the one good person in her life and tells the Laurel she has to find another way. Laurel begs her to stay the course.
Later, Michaela arrives home to find Asher packing his stuff. He shows her the video he secretly recorded (via teddy bear!) of her meeting with Laurel and Oliver. Initially, he seems more bothered that Michaela’s platitudes about Tegan than anything else, but ultimately he leaves Michaela because she lied to him.
Back in the DA’s office, Bonnie’s not having the best day. Isaac stops by her office, hoping that she’ll continue getting therapy with some other counselors he’s recommended. She’s bothered by Isaac’s visit but, since she threatened to hurt Annalise, a visit to her job is the least invasive thing he could do. Then, after getting a public pat on the back from her boss for avoiding the publicity nightmare of having all of Virginia Cross’ cases reopened, she’s reassigned for being overly emotional…and told to go home for the day.
Bonnie’s nursing a drink when Asher arrives at her door looking for Frank. When he shows her the tiniest bit of kindness and she collapses against his chest, crying, lamenting that she’s messed everything up.
The Shannara Chronicles 204: “Dweller”
Written by Valerie Anne
I feel a little guilty because when Eretria and Lyria got into a fight then were separated by their respective tasks and adventures, I thought they would be apart for the rest of the season. I thought we had a few episodes of them being girlfriends and then nothing else forever. But praise the Ambertree, I was wrong! This week, while Lyria and Ander, who her mother wants her to marry, were talking about this marriage idea, and Lyria wants to make it clear right now that she loves Eretria and that the queen and her politics would never change that.
Just in time, the rover herself comes in, happy to hear it. Eretria can believe her now, because Lyria had no idea she was listening, and she still stood up for Eretria and their relationship, so she hides out in the barn to see her princess in private again before she heads out. Lyria is so happy to see her, and they smile adorably and go in for a kiss.
While I do, sadly, fear that Lyria is just a rest stop on the road to Shannara (aka Wil), I’m glad they’re treating it so lovingly in the meantime.
Grey’s Anatomy 1406: “Come On Down To My Boat, Baby”
Written by Carmen
Bravery. It shows up in a lot of different ways.
Jo and Meredith are working together on a rare ALPPS procedure for a judge. He’s nervous and asks for their advice, Jo breaks ethics code and tells him: “I would take the risk. Life is short. I wouldn’t want to spend it wondering: What would’ve happened if I had just been a little more brave”.
He agrees, despite Meredith’s concerns over Jo’s response and ethics violations, and the surgery is a success. Afterwards, Jo seeks his legal counsel regarding her abusive ex-husband. His advice is not optimistic; the system is rigged against domestic violence survivors. There is no way for her to officially file for divorce without her abusive ex knowing where she lives. Jo feels helpless, but when the judge later dies due to a blood clot, her own words echo back in her ears: “I don’t want to spend my life wondering, What would’ve happened if I had just been more brave”. She decides to file for divorce. No more running. No more hiding. She’s going to take the risk and fight.
Amelia is afraid that she’s no longer brave without her tumor as an armor. She pages Webber to his own office, figuring that two sober drunks talking together makes an AA meeting, and whew boy does she need a meeting.
She asks him, does he remember that feeling when you first quit your addiction? How the addiction made you feel like you could conquer anything, and without everything feels hard and you feel vulnerable? In her first day back at work without her tumor, she feels that way again. He reminds her that no matter how it feels now, her drug habit did not embolden her. It numbed her, put her in danger. She can handle life post-tumor the same way she handles her sobriety; she can just take it one surgery at a time.
Arizona and April treat an 18-year-old girl who is rushed into the ER. She’s writhing in pain on the gurney, and they can’t figure out what’s wrong. Then a gun goes off in the ER! Where’s the gun, you ask? Inside the patient. She had shoved it up her vagina.
Yes, you read that right: Gun. In. Her. Vagina.
Goodness, I love this show.
The patient was attempting to smuggle the gun into a prison at the request of her boyfriend. After she’s been treated, Arizona gives her a classically great mom speech, “Young Lady… if you were brave enough to do this for your boyfriend, you can be brave enough to say NO to him”. She tearily nods in agreement back at the great lesbian mama bear known as Arizona Robbins.
See, bravery? It shows up in ways you cannot see coming.
Unfortunately for Arizona, her love life isn’t going as well. She broke up with Carina, by accident. Arizona mentioned that she was going to need more space with Sofia coming home. She meant physical space, Intern DeLuca is moving out, but Carina misunderstood her to mean emotional space. So Arizona is spending her off time casually Tindering with April. For the record, Arizona hates having to swipe. She much preferred having hot orgasms with her Italian girlfriend.
Maggie joins them, and in typical Maggie style, is anxiously overthinking the whole Tinder thing. Lucky for her, Bailey is ready to help! She grabs Maggie’s phone right from her hands and swipes on her behalf, muttering boredly as she goes “too young, way too young, helllloooo Idris Elba”. Chandra Wilson’s comedic timing this season continues to be truly top notch!
Less funny? Arizona and Intern DeLuca finding Owen and Carina making out in the hallway at the end of the episode. The minute Owen introduced himself to Carina, my heart fell to the pit of my stomach. I suppose they are forming some sort of broken hearts club, but my only concern is why Owen Hung orbits around all the badass women of Grey Sloan Memorial and sucks the energy out of them!! Owen Hunt, last week I tried to give you a new chance! And this is what you do with it! Dammit!
I went back through all my notes, but I don’t think Carina’s bisexuality was mentioned before now. There must have been a better way for us to find out this information than Arizona watching her tongue dive with Owen! There just had to be.
To be clear, I take no issues with Carina’s bisexuality. I take ALL THE ISSUES with who she was making out with and the manner in which the show decided to introduce her bisexuality to the audience.
We’re running out of time together, so real quick: Meredith is nominated for a Harper Avery Award. Yes, previously it was stated that no one from Grey Sloan Memorial could ever win the award. It was the catalyst of Cristina leaving the show. I’m choosing to believe that after Cristina’s exit the issue somehow got worked out legally off camera. I suggest you accept this fiction with me.
While the women were off being brave, are you wondering where the men of Grey’s Anatomy were? Of course not. But here’s the info anyway. Jackson bought a yacht at Karev’s suggestion in 5 minutes flat. Obviously, all the men took a sick day so that they could drink beer in the sun. Just go with it.
+ April Kepner thought you could get pregnant from a toilet seat until at least the 10th grade!! We really need better sex ed in this country.
+ List of things that Carina DeLuca has pulled out of vaginas over the course of her career: $10K cash from a woman who wanted to hide it from her ex-husband, a jar of ashes, and a shower head. Attention vagina having humans, please do not put items inside of you that are not made from body safe materials! Thank you.
+ Carina also gave us this joyous phrase: “Gun-gina”.
+Ben copped to a few confessions while drinking on Jackson’s yacht. Most relevant to our interests? He admitted that he misgendered his trans sister for most of their lives together. I miss Rosalind! I’m glad to hear that the Warrens are on better terms from where we left them in season 11. I’d love to see her return to the show. Also? Ben still hasn’t told Bailey that he’s giving up surgery to work in the Seattle Fire Dept. That’ll be a lot of fun for us in the near future.
+Salmon apparently have double chambered hearts? And that’s unique? I’m no marine biologist, ok?
+ Next week is the highly anticipated 300th episode!
The Walking Dead 802: “The Damned”
Written by Stef
Tara is alive on The Walking Dead. Somehow however many years after the zombie apocalypse she found these sunglasses and some Twizzlers. Honestly like I like that they haven’t killed her yet for political reasons but there is no reason for this character to be anywhere.
I watched “The Damned” with my eyes half closed while almost asleep and it was pretty much the worst episode of this show I’ve ever seen. It was just people shooting each other the whole time, a lot of characters I didn’t recognize so I didn’t know which side they were even on. At one point I thought Rick was literally fighting himself. Tara is still alive! But she’s definitely going to get killed soon; she had a really intense scene where she wanted to kill a guy who was unarmed with his hands up and Jesus (a real character on this show) was like “No, he’s surrendering, we don’t do that.” And she was like BUT WE HAVE TO and Jesus was like “I know they killed your girlfriend but this is not the way.” And i’m glad they remembered that Tara ever even had a girlfriend. Anyway she’s losing her shit and will probably be dead next week or the week after
It was a real journey. this show loves to play with that theme, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN GOOD PEOPLE LOSE THEIR HUMANITY???
I wasn’t sure if i was just out of it so I looked at the AV Club review and they said, “It ends up just being a bunch of scenes of sweaty people glaring at each other and firing automatic weapons, sometimes in front of a building, sometimes in the corridors of a building, and sometimes in the woods.” I feel vindicated.
Scandal 705: “Adventures in Babysitting”
Written by Carmen
This week Shonda Rhimes featured queer women characters in each of her Thursday offerings. As it relates to Scandal, this came in the form of President Rashad’s college-aged niece Yasmeen, and her girlfriend Jillian.
The episode follows the second Grant Administration (does anyone else still tear up when seeing Mellie Grant, thinking what life could have been like with a female President? Just me?) as they handle the aftermath of a military coup in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Bashran. While the White House helps ousted President Rashad, Quinn Perkins & Associates is charged with protecting his niece. Bashran is a conservative nation with few women’s rights. President Rashad has been publicly upholding those values, but quietly sending his own niece to Dartmouth to receive a liberal arts education. She majors in English and with a minor in Gender Studies. Now that Bashran has been taken over by radical fundamentalists, she’s in danger.
Quinn and Charlie remove Yasmeen from Dartmouth immediately. They take away all of her technology and internet access — which Charley hilariously calls, “Movie theatre rules; if it lights up or makes noise it goes in the box”. Little did they know, hell hath no fury like a teenage lesbian scorned. As soon as Charley turns his back Yasmeen makes a run for it and returns to Dartmouth for her girlfriend Jillian, a super adorable Asian American co-ed in an olive green peacoat. Yasmeen’s terrified of what it would mean to return to Bashran as a queer feminist. She also doesn’t want to leave the love of her young life behind.
Quinn reasons with a tearful, but incredibly courageous, Yasmeen. As long as she remains hiding in the United States, she risks being found by the rebel insurgents of her home country and killed. If she returns with her uncle, she can help make real change in Bashran as a part of his newly pledged progressive platform. The choice is awful. But, at least it’s hers to make. Jillian agrees; she wants nothing more than for Yasmeen to become the next Gloria Steinem. Ultimately, Yasmeen decides to board the plane with her uncle, fists gripping tightly to her backpack and thanking Quinn for her help. It’s all for naught. The plane gets blown up, with both Yasmeen and President Rashad onboard, before it even leaves the tarmac.
Who blew up the plane? I don’t know. I do know that I’m sad to lose Yasmeen, who was so great in her brief time on screen. I mourn her leaving us so quickly.