Okay first of all, please just go ahead and bookmark Drew’s expansive interview with Fioxfire director Annette Haywood-Carter. You do not want to miss it, and it’s one of those things you’re only ever going to find on Autostraddle!
This week, Nic and Valerie Anne recapped that beautiful, heartbreaking episode of The Last of Us. Drew recapped Drag Race. Sai interviewed Harlem’s Jerrie Johnson. Stef wrote about Physical: 100 on Netflix. Riese published our March streaming guide. Kayla took you behind the scenes of Yellowjackets’ second season. If you’re an A+ member, you’re gonna love this roundtable where we chose characters for each other. If you’re not an A+ member, you’re gonna love it when you join!
Notes from the TV Team:
+ There is a new show that I am pretty obsessed with, Extraordinary. Jen, our main babe, lives in a world where after you turn 18 you develop a superpower! Well, everybody but her. Anyway, she has a little sister Andy who is a lesbian! Patricia Allison (Sex Education) also makes a guest appearance, and Siobhán McSweeney (Derry Girls) plays her mum! — Shelli Nicole
+ Ok so technically nothing was gay during last night’s Grey’s Anatomy, however it was one of the only times (perhaps, quite literally the only) time I’ve seen an entire abortion procedure walked through step-by-step on television. Demystifying abortion is so important.The medical team at Grey’s tweeted that the precise selection of storyline, about a Latina mother who did not want a third child, was on purpose, “The average person who gets an abortion is a woman of color who is already a mother and who lives at or below the federal poverty level.” I could keep going, but I’ll wrap it up! In GAY NEWS, next week the interns are throwing a party and Helm will be there, which means my Helm/Yasuda is <ThisClose> to sailing! — Carmen
+ So if you’ve never watched Food Network’s Tournament of Champions, here’s how it goes: there are 32 two chefs competing in a single elimination tournament. And while you’ve got a few relative unknowns among the competitors, Guy Fieri also recruits some of the best in the business: Top Chefs, Iron Chefs, James Beard winners and Michelin star chefs. But they’re not just battling each other, they’re battling this contraption called the randomizer which tells the competitors what protein and produce they’ll cook with, what piece of equipment to use and what style they have to deliver. It delivers some crazy hurdles for the chefs and, this week, it was the great equalizer between the TOC alums and the newcomers.
This week, we lost two of our five chefbians! Crista Luedtke was given a blank slate with chicken breast and button mushrooms, but she failed to deliver enough bold flavors to advance to the second round. But then we had chefbian vs. chefbian: Britt Rescigno vs. the defending TOC champion Tiffani Faison. The randomizer did its absolute worst — eggs, lima beans, spiralizer and smothered — and helped Rescigno pull out one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s history. — Natalie
+ Nic’s got a full Batwoman write-up coming at you on Monday morning! — Heather
NCIS: Hawai’i 215: “Good Samaritan”
Written by Natalie
She’s back! After seven episodes several months away while serving as the Special Agent Afloat aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Lucy Tara has returned to solid ground back in Hawaii. The only thing? She arrives a day early, surprising her girlfriend, Kate, who nearly bludgeons her with a frying pan. They have an absolutely adorable reunion which Lucy interrupts by speculating how the team will react to her early return. Rather than being annoyed, like I am, that Lucy’s bringing up the team after being away for months, Kate assures her that the team will be fine. But as soon as Lucy turns her back, a look of worry flashes on Kate’s face and you know the team will absolutely not be fine.
Lucy’s reunion with the team is awkward. The warm greeting that Lucy was clearly expecting never comes — except from Ernie, natch — and, instead, she gets the cold shoulder as the team pivots to focusing on a desertion case. But truthfully, the team had been planning a surprise party for Lucy and is scrambling now that she’s returned a day early. Unable to move the party up earlier, Tennant decides that they’ll just stick to their original plan and try to keep it a secret even as Lucy lingers around. The awkwardness — the silences when she enters a room, the differing responses she gets from Kai and Jesse, the changes in her absence — leaves Lucy a little unsettled. Even as Alan (her temporary replacement) assures her that the team’s done nothing but look forward to her return all week, Lucy remains skeptical. She invites Kai and Jesse to join her for a night out but they make up excuses — these guys are really bad liars — for why they can’t join Lucy on the outing.
At home, Lucy remains perplexed by the way the team is acting. Frankly, at this point, it’s so obvious that the fact that Lucy can’t see it has me doubting her detective skills. Lucy insists that she doesn’t need a big welcome home but she expected some sort of acknowledgement. Unable to stand Lucy being sad for even a second longer, Kate blurts out the truth: the team’s throwing her a surprise party and everyone’s been scrambling to make it work without Lucy finding out. Lucy is elated by the news but is particularly chuffed that Kate, of all people, couldn’t keep the secret.
“You used to protect secrets for a living and you let one slip because you couldn’t stand to see me upset,” Lucy mocks, as she slides into her girlfriend’s lap and thanks her with a kiss. Kate makes Lucy promise that she’ll act surprised at the party but given how bad everyone else has been at hiding the surprise, I’m skeptical. And sure enough, when Lucy arrives at the party, the team sees through her feigned surprise right away.
“I’m sorry that we couldn’t surprise you on the day you arrived but, you have to know, that there isn’t a day that has gone by that we haven’t thought about you,” Jane toasts.
So says Tennant, so say we all…welcome back #Kacy.
Station 19 609: “Come as You Are”
Written by Carmen
When Tracie Thoms shows up on Station 19, you can expect that there will be firefighter tears. And when this week episode opens with Maya frenetically cleaning her apartment (she’s been released back home from her medical hold) only for Dr. Tracie Thoms to show up at her door, I knew we were in for it.
Yes, Maya is back home — of course, as we know, Carina’s moved out — but she is not cleared to go back to work until her psych evaluation is complete. The detail casually mentioned by Carina last week, that Maya won her Gold on a sprained ankle, comes back around as Dr. Tracie Thoms tells her to sit on the floor and draw a timeline that lead to her Olympic race, starting with when she first wanted to win.
Maya scoffs at first, but she’s never met a challenge she didn’t want to beat (this is how we got here), so she gets to work on using the paper on the floor. She first wanted to win when she was three years old watching her cousin lose a race. Her father hated her cousin for losing, and Maya vowed — that would never be her, no matter the cost.
Her ankle starts to hurt. Dr. Tracie Thoms tells her to lean into the pain, she can handle a little pain. And of course, the pain? That’s tied to Maya’s psychic trauma. Inside she’s still that three year old girl, she’s still trying to win every race. Maya’s taken a lot of L’s lately — being demoted, spraining her ankle (of course this triggered and uprooted all kinds of trauma from her Olympics, see how we’re going full circle?), constantly pushing Carina away and fighting. It all goes back to this. It all goes back to her three year old self.
Maya asks if she can call Carina, now that she’s had this breakthrough. She loves her so much. And Dr. Tracie Thoms tells her that of course she can do anything she wants to do. But maybe what’s best is to love herself for a little while first.
And so Maya gathers that three year old inside of her in her arms and promises to try to do just that.
grown-ish 515-516: “The A Team” and “Mr. Morale”
Written by Natalie
For most of her Cal U friend group, a midday trip on ‘shrooms is about celebrating the end of midterms but for Zaara, the stakes feel higher: she’s gotten her first C ever and her Ivy League medical school ambitions are, seemingly, slipping away. But the mushrooms offer no escape: she imagines herself as the surgeon and the patient, losing herself because she’s focused on the wrong things.
After coming down from her high, Zaara’s convinced that a change is necessary. She invites Yazmine over and insists that things between them aren’t working. Yaz tries to convince Zaara that things are good but she won’t be deterred. She needs to focus on the dream she came to Cal U to fulfill and their relationship has become a distraction. Zaara breaks up with Yazmine and retreats back to her dorm room to cry and rest her head on Junior’s shoulder.
Despite it having been her decision to break up — a decision she made when, surely, there were other options — Zaara’s heartbroken. Everything reminds her of Yaz, including the chopsticks that are missing from the comfort food Junior brings her. When Zaara finally climbs out of bed, she’s despondent and Lauryn, Kiela, and Annika decide to try and pull her out of her funk.
“How do you expect to magically get over Yazmine if you’re watching ‘Blue Is the Warmest Color’ on repeat? I mean, I know it’s sad and horny, I get it,” Kiela offers. It’s an oddly specific reference for a straight person to make and suddenly, I’m a bit more interested in Kiela’s personal history. The girls push Zaara to join them for a night out and, eventually, she agrees. The girls take advantage of Lauryn’s about-to-expire Groupon and take Zaara to a wine tasting. They raise their glasses to sisterhood and Zaara begrudgingly joins them in their celebration. But just when it looks like Zaara might have a breakthrough, she spots Yaz and her friends on the other side of the bar.
Back at the dorm, the girls express regret from having forced Zaara to go out but, surprisingly, Zaara’s convinced it was a good idea. She admits that she’s sadder about Yazmine than she expected to be but she knows she’ll get better in time. She’s grateful to her friends for having her back and her friends assure her they always will.
A Million Little Things 504: “A Bird In The Hand”
Written by Natalie
Last week when I lamented A Million Little Things‘ dogged focus on Katherine and her gayness, I hoped the show would give Katherine something to do outside of her relationship with Greta. But in a case of be careful what you wish for, this week’s episode does just that…by tying up Katherine so much with work that she doesn’t even appear in the episode. Instead, we get an episode that (partially) focuses on Greta stepping into her role as Theo’s other guardian. Admittedly, not what I asked for but, I’ll allow it.
With Katherine busy at work, Greta’s left alone to handle Theo’s care for the first time and she’s adorably nervous about the whole thing. She prepares some smiley-face pancakes and is already prepared for Theo’s daily ritual of feeding the neighborhood’s stray cat, Scott. While he’s putting out Scott’s tuna, Theo notices the bird whose breed he and Greta are, seemingly, in a long debate over. But before Greta can get another look at the bird for herself, Scott strikes, much to Theo and Greta’s horror.
By the time Eddie arrives to pick Theo up for laser tag, Greta and Theo have cradled the injured bird in a cushioned box. Greta gets the bird an appointment at her vet’s office and Theo insists that he has to come along. Eddie’s skeptical about the need for all the fuss, leading me to wonder if he’s ever actually met Theo, but even Greta insists on the extreme measures.
“Oh, I have to get this right. It’s my…it’s my first morning just alone with Theo and that bird is not going to die on my watch,” Greta asserts.
Once they’re waiting on word from the veterinarian, Theo starts to reflect on everything that’s happened and blames himself. His dad tries to assure him that the situation isn’t his fault but Theo seems unconvinced. He wonders if the bird is going to be okay and, before Eddie can answer, Greta chimes in and tells Theo that she knows the bird will be okay. She reiterates that the vet staff is doing all they can and encourages Theo to think positively. Unfortunately, the vet reports that the bird’s injuries are too severe.
Greta laments that, on her first morning as Theo’s stand-in parent, she’s forced to break his heart. But Eddie gently reminds her that being a parent isn’t always about being able to fix everything, it’s about being there for your kid when you can’t. They decide to tell Theo together but Greta freezes — she can’t break Theo’s heart — and Eddie’s forced to tell his son about the bird’s condition. Theo does not take the news well; he insists that they not give up on him.
But Theo’s reaction isn’t about the bird, not really, it all traces back to the death of his “Uncle John.” In the wake of that suicide, Theo internalized his father’s immediate reaction — that John had given up — and he’s carried that with him all this time. Eddie explains how he was wrong back then, both for what he said and for his failure to explain what happened to Theo in an honest way. Juxtaposing John’s “temporary pain” against the bird’s catastrophic injuries helps Theo realize that he needs to let go of the bird. Greta invites him to go inside and say his goodbyes.
Once Theo’s out of earshot, Eddie admits that he’s stunned by how much Theo has been carrying. He concedes that, over the last few years, Theo’s been forced to take care of the people who are supposed to be taking care of him. Greta hopes that this situation helps resolve some of Theo’s anxiety but Eddie points to the thing that’s really going to steady Theo: her.
All season, I’ve been dreading the prospect of a break up — that it all just becomes too much for Greta and she leaves — but this episode was encouraging. The writers’ had an easy out here and didn’t take it…it’s almost enough to make me hopeful about what’s to come. Almost.
Truth Be Told 307: “The Luxury in Self-Reproach”
Written by Natalie
This week’s episode of Truth Be Told opens with Eva behind the mic. She recounts her experience…not just how she survived being trafficked but how she lured other girls into the life. She explains how she rationalized her behavior back then and how she was a different person with a different name. Her eyes are downcast — a reflection of the shame she’s been carrying — as she recalls what happened. I’m grateful the show doesn’t make us sit with the worst of it, only offering the audience a glimpse…I’m grateful that Gabrielle Union, as a survivor of sexual assault, doesn’t have to perform it all either.
Still, Eva is undone by the confession. The hurt, the shame, the blame…it’s returned to the forefront. Vince, her present-day colleague who ultimately pulled her out of the life, has forgiven her for her past transgressions — when she was Andrew Finney’s instrument — and he encourages her to do the same.
Later, as her conversations with Poppy continue, we learn that Eva also feels at fault for her mother’s deportation and subsequent death. One of her girls overdosed and she called 911 for help. By the time the police arrived, Finney had escaped but she and the other girls were rounded up like criminals. Because Eva was a minor and in a house where drugs were present, the authorities held her mom accountable. Her mother was arrest and deported back to Haiti where she’d die within a year. Losing everything forced Eva to confront the truth and, with Vince’s help, she escaped the life soon thereafter. She moved to another county, changed her name and her look, and never looked back…until now.
Poppy asks about the girls that Eva left behind and wonders if she ever looked for them. Eva insists she couldn’t, for fear that Finney would leverage that contact to pull her back into the life. Poppy criticizes Eva — how could she get these girls into the life and not help them get out of it — but quickly realizes her misstep and tries to erase that part of the conversation. Eva encourages her to leave it in, as it feeds into the cycle of blame that she’s already feeling.
“I’m a coward,” Eva confesses, “and it would be a relief to stop pretending otherwise.”
As she’s piecing the podcast together later, Poppy opts against using the details of Eva’s role in recruiting the other girls in the episode. She knows that once the audience hears that, Eva will be eviscerated and the reality of what she survived will be overshadowed. Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to go over well with Eva.
How I Met Your Father Episode 206: “Universal Therapy”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week, Ellen is a popular girl, because after Ellen repeats some advice her therapist gave her, Sophie makes an off-hand remark that becomes more of a demand, and asks Ellen to ask for advice for Sophie. This makes Ellen have to pretend Rachel wears her mother’s ashes around her neck in a huge diamond, which doesn’t mesh with other things Ellen’s therapist knows about her girlfriend; especially since they have talked about how they met when Rachel’s grandmother died, not her mother. When they realize this passed on advice is working for Sophie, Ellen’s other friends try to get in on the fun, and since they hadn’t yet conquered Ellen’s tendency for people-pleasing, Ellen spends her therapy sessions asking questions to help her friends instead of herself. What’s funny is, the temptation is real; sometimes I get jealous that my friends have good therapists and I want to ask them for advice, too. But of course, as is the way of this group, Ellen’s friends take it too far and her therapist eventually diagnoses her with “Uninsured Friend Syndrome” and drops her. Luckily, her friends and brother come through and convince her therapist to take her back, promising to let Ellen deal with her own problems from now on.
The Watchful Eye Episode 106: “Save New York”
Written by Valerie Anne
This week, Elena sees the fancy envelopes going around to the Greybourne gala, and wants to hobnob with the elite. While everyone in the building, attends this gala, Roman the Doorman will sneak through the secret door and search Mrs. Ivy’s apartment for the ruby, or clues as to where it is.
Her way into the gala soon falls into her lap by way of Ginny. Ginny’s clients are sick and won’t be attending, so they can use their invites. Ginny is dubious. “Tiny little masks on a stick are not a good disguise,” says Ginny and also me every time this happens on TV. But Elena points out that they can enlist Alex’s help, since they’ve worked in a costume shop, and eventually sweet talks Ginny into this scheme.
Unfortunately, Kim can’t come but Alex shows up in a tux and top hat, and has provided Elena with a wig to help her stay incognito. They turn in their phones and Kim and Alex take off right for the dance floor while Elena slinks away to do some snooping. She briefly gets caught by Matthew, who assumes she’s here to see how the other half lives, and supports mischief at the expense of the obscenely rich.
Elena snoops her way into finding Tory’s husband being roughed up by some Greybourne suits and is almost caught, but her boyfriend appears and saves her. They fight, and she ends up dumping him, though agrees to finish the job of finding this alleged ruby. On her way out, Elena finds out someone else checked out her phone, and when she gets back to the Greybourne, she finds out Roman almost got caught snooping by Bennett. Elena lies to Bennett and says Roman and her have been hooking up, and after Bennett storms off, Roman says he wants nothing to do with Elena anymore.
Ginny shows up next, yelling at Elena for a) abandoning her and Alex, b) only paying attention to her when she needs something, c) probably getting her fired, because Tory recognized her at the gala, d) continuing to be shady as hell. Ginny gets a text then from Elena, that Elena clearly didn’t send while they were fighting, proving both that Elena wasn’t lying about her phone being gone but also that Elena is, indeed, hiding something.