Monday, April 28, 2014

In Which I Review Mad Men (7x3)

Yesterday, all my trouble seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay. 

Sometimes, the Beetles are better than philosophers. In this weeks episode of Mad Men, "Field Trip," it's judgement day for Don Draper as it is decided once and for all if he'll be returning to SC&P. Of course, such a decision is only brought about because Meghan gave Don the heave-ho and called him on his mountain of crap. Failed field trips wove themselves in and out of the episode this week--something that is seemingly so innocent and enjoyable turned ugly because people never change. Oh and Betty is back, in shinning form as the true ice queen, with her cigarette and petulant atittude. It's interesting how Betty and Don still manage to parallel each other, despite not being married or even having regular contact with one another. Like the teasing accusation Betty's friend hurls at her and like Don's cocktail of choice, both are just too old fashioned in this new age. 

Let's start with Betty.  I want to hit pause on the plot of this moment and focus on the costume. They are as different as night and day (it's a theme given that inside SC&P the creative writers are trying to come up with a pitch for a client with a new "night" product to offset their former "day" product). Betty is pure 1960s well-to-do housewife in her ice blue (it's her color), set hair, gossiping about her husband's job and ambitions (because she, as a proper housewife, is supposed to have none). Now, look at her friend: bright attention getting red, PANTS, suit jacket, casual but stylish hair that was probably just pulled back for the day, walking around with business cards and a job in an office. Ladies and gents, this is the feminist revolution! Or at least the real start of it. Woman like Peggy and Joan are a bit of oddity in 1969; both are career driven, one isn't even married, but both started at the bottom and more or less worked (read: slept, for Joan) their way up. Betty's friend, whom we originally met in season 1 as the frumpy good housewife who's husband was cheating on her and helped clue Betty in to Don's shenanigans, is the new breed. Her kids are growing up, she's got a bit of an empty nest, and she's ready for the next adventure or challenge. Her children aren't enough anymore; undoubtedly she loves them still, but they don't need her now. And when you're not needed, you can be left behind. And then there is Betty who wants to be needed because she is basically five years old and needs to feel wanted. I'm harsh on Betty because she is pretty horrible overall, but it's not an uncommon, or indeed, unreasonable thing to feel. We all want to be needed. But Betty's almost pathological need to keep her perfect life the way she envisions it should be, always leads to problems. Sally was her little doll that she could play with and now Sally is at school; Betty's friend is trying to explain to Betty how it really is--the kids simply grow up--and Betty is having none of it because once they grow up, she is done for.

This is why, when presented with the information that (never aging!) Bobby Draper is going on a field trip for school, Betty jumps at the chance to go with him. Why? If you've watched any season of Mad Men then you know that Betty more or less can't stand her own children. I'm sure she loves them but she doesn't much like them. They are the things she had because it was expected of her. She has neglected them (I kid you not, there is an episode early on in the series where she and Don do nothing but drink all day and pretty much forget to feed their children); she has emotionally and mentally and even at times physically abused them (who can forget Betty slapping Sally when Sally cut her own hair?). But how much hate does Betty deserve? She bugs us, but she bugs us because often time she hits a little too close to home in the real representation of the wife and mothers of this time. Betty did what woman of her generation did: she got a degree from college to prove she was educated, she met a nice man (so she thought), they got married, and she had kids. She didn't have a choice, which is why I often feel guilty over my disdain for the former Mrs. Draper. She's an ice bitch, but to some degree she had to be--it's how she was taught to present herself to the world. Betty, had she not just had this eye opening lunch with her friend, would not be caught dead on a real farm. The last farm we ever saw Betty on was a horse stable for well-off elite club members. There were no cows nor pigs nor drinking milk from a pail. Betty is going on this trip to the farm in order to cling to her vision that her children need her. The nanny isn't going to go with them--Betty is. And the ironic thing is I think Betty actually had a good time, until it all went wrong.

Poor Bobby Draper suffers from middle child syndrome--if he wasn't there, you'd forget about him. Sally is the most important child as her relationship is the real love story in Don's life; Gene is the unfortunate baby who was named after Betty's father, who couldn't stand Don, and was born into a broken family. It was nice to see Betty spend time with her second child, then, and even more enjoyable to see her actually like spending time with him. They joke about movies, have an actual conversation, and Betty has managed to wipe that smug smirk off her face long enough to really get into the field trip. She even drink milk from a pail. Wonder of wonders! So far this field trip is a success; Betty is proving to herself that her children still need her because clearly Bobby is having just as good a time. Then, disaster. In a moment of childlike thoughtlessness, Bobby trades away Betty's lunch. Now, to be fair to Bobby, this is a learned skill. Betty has never paid much attention to him, so when the time comes, Bobby didn't really give Betty a second thought either. He just assumes Betty wouldn't eat and would be okay with not having food. And while Betty might be justifiably angry that she is now being asked to not eat, her ranker toward her child demonstrates just how child-like she is herself. When Bobby offers to go get the sandwich back, Betty dismisses him and instead forces him to eat his newly acquired candy. Seeing that he's miserable and her task is now accomplished, her glasses go back on, the cigarette comes out, and Bobby melds into the background with the other screaming children that Betty isn't particularly interested in either.

Back home and now so disinterested in Bobby that she doesn't even care that he's so consumed with guilt that he's not eating, Betty puts on her best "oh-woe-is-me" performance for Henry. I watch Mad Men with my mother and I kid you not, when Betty asked Henry "am I a good mother," both of us, at the same time, said "no" to the television set. She's really not. Betty's cold and too childlike herself to ever really be a good mother. And now, she's literally clinging to her last baby trying to figure out why she isn't enough for them. What does the future hold for Betty? Well, like most of our characters on Mad Men, I doubt she's capable of change. She'll continue to put on a good face and sell her husband's life for the sake of his career; she'll never stop desiring to be wanted and forever be disappointed that her children simply don't want her as much as she would like them to. Betty is destined to become an old Republican biddy who is never without makeup or set hair, but who always feels like something is just missing from her life. To some degree, I pity her. And I then I remember, "would you love you?" when she confronted Don about being Dick Whitman and how unbelievably cold she was.

So that's failed field trip number one. Failed field trip number two takes us to Don Draper who is finally caught with his pants down (metaphorically). I think Don has been somewhat complaisant. He's keeping tabs on the agency but he has made no effort to try and get back in to work. He goes to movies, he puts on his nightly show for Dawn, he flies out to see Meghan. So when Don gets a phone call from Meghan's agent that she misbehaved, Don figures that he's the one to fix it. Except Don Draper can't fix Meghan because Don can't even fix himself anymore. He can fly in like a knight in shinning armor, woo and bed her, but he's incapable of actually fixing what's wrong with Meghan because Don is just too broken himself (the broken vessel motif from earlier this season). Don used to be able to say all the right things and now he says all the wrong ones and finally the truth comes out: he's been out of work since November. I have to give some major props to Meghan here; she's not Betty. She loves Don but she's not going to take his lies. It took Betty three seasons to finally kick Don out and ask for a divorce. Meghan kicks him out after one fight and then keeps him away when he wants to come back. She's much stronger than Betty, but she's also the new generation of girl. Don tries to explain that he's still getting paid (because money matters more to Don than it should) but Meghan doesn't care. Don tries to tell her that "I don't know if they want me or don't want me" (THEME!) and that he's not even drinking that much anymore. All of which is supposed to placate Meghan but doesn't. Instead it just singles that he doesn't want her, so therefore, she doesn't want him either. And now everything is about this failed field trip to Don. In Don's mind, Meghan doesn't want him because he can't fix the problems anymore. Enter Don Draper, fixer.

After a pretty funny meeting with Roger in his room, Don is invited back to work. But it's just by Roger, maybe one of the few people who miss Don. When Don shows up to SC&P on Monday morning, no one is expecting him and no one is overly happy to see him. In fact, everywhere Don goes, he is met with an almost open hostility. Lou is dismissive, Joan judges him, and Peggy is clearly still bitter over their last time together where Don broke Ted down in front of a client. Instead of being welcomed back with open arms, Don is forced to wait for hours while the various partners try to decide Don's fate. Should he be brought back? Or should he be let go altogether? There are pros and cons for both options, as evidenced by the partners. Roger wants Don back because he's a genius and the agency's creative department is literally invisible right now and Don is better than any ad man in Manhattan. Also, Don's a partner; they'd have to buy him out which would be more expensive than bringing him back. Jim doesn't want Don back at all but that's not surprising for a few reasons. Jim has no interest in the creative side of advertising; he thinks business is good PR and good relationships. Plus, Jim is also bitter over the Ted incident. Bert cares about how his agency is perceived outside of the actual office and knows that Don is the best ad men they have, but also doesn't want to take a risk that Don will have another meltdown. And then there is Joan, who literally whored herself out to land Jaguar only to have Don go and try to undo it and make her sacrifice look worthless. And Joan makes a good point, "this is working." The way the agency is going is working fine; it's not great, but it's working. How does Don fit in now? Can he fit in?

 Not part of the partner meeting, but who's opinion matters almost more than anyone, is Peggy. Peggy is having a rough go of it this week. Her work, work she considers her best, wasn't even submitted for an award. Peggy is forever measuring her success by what she has and what she does not. Peggy has an office, a fancy title, but she doesn't have that little statue. She's invisible in the office nowadays. So when Peggy sees the opportunity to literally be seen, she takes it. Don has always seen Peggy: he was the first one who saw that she might have a real shot in the business, but he's never been that great about seeing Peggy as anything more than just her underling. And then Don was directly responsible for Ted leaving Peggy and breaking her heart. So now Peggy can hurt Don. "I can't say we miss you," she tells him. Which, is a lie. Peggy misses him. She misses how he listened to her ideas, how Don might have been a monster, but he was damn good at his job. He knew how to pitch and sell. And Lou, in his cardigan and lack of vision, is simply "adequate." So, yes, Peggy is being mean here, but she's also lying and I think is secretly pleased to see him.

 And so judgement time. Don is told that, yes, he can come back, but there are stipulations. He must refrain from drinking in the office, he must answer to Lou, he must not be alone with the client. And in a stipulation that really made me perk up, he is being put in Lane's old office. You remember Lane, the guy who killed himself? Hm. Interesting, yes? I expected Don to give a rousing speech in which he shut down the partners, reminded them why they need him so badly. But instead he simply looks at them, deflated, and says "okay." Don knows he is in deep trouble with them; he messed up big and now he must pay the piper. He has two options: agree and come back, don't agree and never work again. And Don must work. The work is what matters. But Don's troubles aren't going anywhere, they are here to stay. Sorry, Bobby. No matter how much you wish it, it can't be yesterday.

Miscellaneous Notes on Field Trip

--Odd to hear characters in the 1960s talk about computers.

--Michael Ginsberg is insane. I actually think he might have some sort of disorder.

--Will Meghan take Don back? Probably. But I think she'll hold out for awhile.

--Go Dawn! She's running that agency. Love her.

--I really need Peggy and Don to have more interaction than this next week.

--I hope that was our Betty quota for the season.

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (3x19)

Hearts are curious little things on Once Upon A Time. The concept of taking a heart was introduced in season one, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," where it was established that not only could you physically take a heart but that in doing so, the heart became enchanted and the taker could control the person. It was a very interesting idea that has since morphed with bendy rules whenever the writers want it to. So first hearts can be removed (very cool idea); then hearts can be crushed and the person killed (still a very cool idea); then hearts get darker if the person commits crimes (logical); unless the heart is outside of their body at the time and thus the crimes don't reach the heart itself (that doesn't make sense but okay); then hearts can be transferred back into bodies (makes some sense); but if you didn't give the person their own heart, then they turn into a zombie (what?); and now you can split a heart without breaking it and two people can share it (oh come on, you're just making this up now!). In this weeks episode, "A Curious Thing," the Dark Curse is cast from an unlikely source. And rules are broken left and right for the sake of plot. 

Actually, Honey, I Wanted The Left Ventricle

In the Enchanted Forest of the past year, Snow and Charming are ready to announce their pregnancy to their people, thinking the peasants (those poor peasants) need some hope and good news. Do the peasants care about Snowing? It's an honest question because think about it: every bad thing that has ever happened to them is because of Snow and Regina's feud. They've been moved across worlds, they've had their memories erased, they've been moved again (and then again). At this point, if I were a peasant, I think I'd distance myself from the royals as much as possible. At the castle with Snowing and Regina, Aurora and Philip make an appearance just so they can tell Snow what we, the audience, already know: Zelena wants your baby. Shock. Did we really need Aurora and Philip to make an appearance for this? Yes, turns out that Zelena threatened their baby and that's why they lied to Snow and company when they landed in the Enchanted Forest. Why doesn't Zelena want the Philora baby? Shouldn't that baby be the product of true love too? And why isn't Aurora more pregnant in this scene? I understand that Ginny Goodwin (Snow) is pregnant in real life, but she looks *huge* next to Aurora who isn't showing at all. Aurora should be about 6 months pregnant here, while Snow should only be about 3 months. While I know that I have to suspend for some stuff, glaring errors like this really take me out of the scene. Zelena must have really good hearing because she knows just when to show up at the castle. Aurora makes one little mention of the witch and in she flies on her broomstick! Zelena freezes everyone but Belle, who earlier came into the scene to announce that Rumple was alive and Neal was dead. Zelena then does some freaky touchy-touchy with Snow's pregnant belly. Oh she also turned Aurora and Philip into monkeys. Is the baby now a monkey? EVERYBODY IS MONKEY (keep this in mind when we start killing people). Zelena tells Snow that "what's yours will be mine," before cackling and flying away.

The heroes wait 8 months before deciding to do something. Because when my child is threatened and my close friends are turned into flying monkeys, I take my sweet time too. Snow and Charming have had poor Grumpy (more Grumpy for everything. He is like a breath of fresh air) going from fairy to fairy looking for a way to defeat Zelena but to no avail. I am officially frustrated on the fairy front. So the Black Fairy is the most powerful fairy in existence but Blue banished her and now the Blue Fairy, who is the original power and supposedly more powerful than the Dark One, can't help defeat one wicked witch. What is the POINT of these fairies? So when you can't depend on the good fairies, turn to the Dark One. Robin Hood, thankfully, is there to assist our heroes break into the Dark One's Castle, which is conveniently empty of the green skinned witch. One note here but Robin and Regina don't even really like each other in the Enchanted Forest. And now they are doing nothing but making out in hallways? This is my biggest problem with this relationship: it's way too fast. Unless the show does a 180 and shows Robin and Regina falling in love in the past, then them being so cozy and happy now makes very little sense.

With little difficulty, the gang breaks into Rumple's home to asks him how to stop Zelena. Bear in mind, this is post "Quiet Minds," so Rumple is utterly insane because he has Neal living inside of him (the sentences I write because of this show). And Crazy Rumple speaks in riddles! I'm sure there is a lot to Rumple's mumblings about time and finish lines and such but then again, it could be a massive misdirection. Look at the crazy man! Listen to the crazy man! Except don't because it doesn't matter. Rumple summons enough coherence to tell the gang that they need "light magic" to defeat Zelena. Well DUH! Come on! That's obvious. When has darkness ever defeated darkness? Rumple then tells the heroes to go find Glinda, the good witch of the south. Because it's the season of Oz so time to trot out all your old favorites even if it's for a total of five seconds and they do absolutely nothing to help. Glinda is at the edge of the Dark Forest (where is that in relation to the Infinite Forest, Sherwood Forest, and the Enchanted Forest? Why does this realm keep getting bigger and bigger with every passing episode?)
But only the pure of heart can cross over the threshold to see Glinda, so naturally Regina tries to go along. Come on. Really? Regina thinks she has a pure enough heart to go through the magical door and see the good witch? I mean, Regina's great and all but there is no way she would ever be granted access. Also, can we talk about these little filler moments? Charming picking flowers for Snow? And I appreciate Regina's snark about the flowers (because Lana Parilla delivers them so well) but just get on with it! Snow, being Snow, rushes head first through the door to see Glinda, Charming trails after her.

Why is Glinda not in pink? She should be in pink. I guess it doesn't matter; she's in the episode for a grand total of about five seconds. Snow with her pure heart and her baby's pure heart manage to get through the door just fine. Which makes no sense given that last weeks episode was all about Snow being a murderer! How is it that she now has a totally pure heart? Every week, the writers take a different route with their characters. Snow is a murderer last week and now she is the most pure hearted one on the show, which I've always believed, but the show can't have it both ways! Anyway, Glinda gives a little overview of her history with Zelena--and when I say little I mean she mentioned two things that are probably super important in passing. One, Zelena and Glinda used to be good friends--probably school chums and Glinda wanted Zelena to be popular (Wicked reference). And second, Glinda gave Zelena her giant necklace to help channel Zelena's power (Oz the Great and Powerful reference). However, despite how powerful Glinda is supposed to be, she can't help Snow and Charming. Her magic is no good against Zelena. Oh. My. God. WHY?? Why is this GOOD witch useless against the EVIL Wicked Witch? If all you need is light magic to defeat Zelena then Glinda should be more than adequate, right? Turns out, no. But luckily, Snow and Charming do know that their daughter Emma Swan is the Savior and born of True Love! Emma can save them all. Oh, small problem: Emma's in New York City without her memories and there is no way to reach her. Except that every time someone says that it's impossible to jump realms, they find a way to do it. Beans, hats, shoes, tornadoes, ect. The show keeps coming up with alternatives to what Snow will ultimately suggest: "we must enact the Dark Curse."

Yes, the Dark Curse. The Curse that started this whole show three years ago. Snow White, pure of heart, decides to cast it. But in order to cast the dark curse you need something: the heart of the thing you love most. Snow's only child is in New York City but luckily she has the consummate White Knight as a husband. Charming, who is sometimes a little too noble, steps forward and tells Snow to take his heart and use it to get their child and save their unborn baby. Now, on some level, this is kind of poetic and beautiful. Regina finally manages to take Charming's heart but it's to help everyone, not to hurt. And I will admit that the goodbye scene between Snow and Charming was well acted and very heartbreaking. It helps that Ginny and Josh Dallas are married in real life. But here are some issues, crushing a heart is murder and enacting a dark curse is dark magic, so Snow should now have a giant hole in heart, just like Regina did after she cast the Dark Curse in Season 1. For those who are now confused, a brief sum: Charming just died but is alive in Storybrooke somehow (we'll get there); The curse has been cast by the most pure hearted person in the Enchanted Forest. Snow outright killing Charming seems so out of character; I half expected her to be unable to do it and for Regina to step in. As the Curse begins to move out over the land, Zelena swoops in on her broom and tosses something into the pot. How did she know?! Was it because of Aurora and Philip monkey? The potion she added to the curse causes everyone to loose their memories of the past year, so Snow won't remember killing Charming or why he isn't in Storybrooke, no one will remember why they cast the Dark Curse or, indeed, that they even cast it, and no one can go get Emma to have her defeat Zelena. In other words, everything is moot.

Snow, though, has an idea. Snow has so much faith and hope in her and Charming's love that she asks Regina to take her heart and then split it in two so that she and Charming can share the heart. This makes no sense. None. You can't break a heart in two! It should just crumble into nothingness. But of course it works because you can't just kill off Prince Charming now can you? Snow's price to enact the curse is now nullified meaning the Curse shouldn't take at all, but it does. So what is the price of magic? The sacrifice was supposed to be Charming’s life, but Snow found a way to circumvent that. And they got to be reunited with Emma and Henry, so they’ve actually got a reward out of this so far, as opposed to paying a price. So Snow hasn’t paid a price for casting that Curse yet. Which by rights should mean that there’s a price coming. Also, this action does make Snow and David look like the world’s biggest hypocrites for telling off Neal when he wanted to find a way back to Emma and Henry. I guess Snow and David now have more in common with Rumple and Regina than they’d ever have believed possible. They all had a hand in casting a dark curse. Snow took a walk in Regina’s and Rumple’s shoes. The villains are the heroes and the heroes are villains. It all comes full circle. They are okay with going after Emma when it benefits THEM, but when Neal wants to get to his family pronto, "there is no way! Give up Neal!!" Speaking of...

I hate the writers. Zelena needs a way to remember the past year once the Curse is cast, so she drinks a nice plot device potion but because she is such a nice Witch, she gives one to Rumple so that he might remember the past year as well. Rumple, thinking only of vengeance, is seconds away from drinking it when who should force his way out of his father's body? Nealfire. Because NEAL IS A FREAKING HERO. With his last dying breaths, he breaks free from his father, takes the memory potion and a dove, writes a message to Hook, and tells the bird to find the Jolly Roger. So you mean to tell me, the only reason Emma got her memories back, the only reason why Emma is back in Storybrooke, the only reason that Henry remembers anything and has a family again, the only reason Snow and Charming's plan worked, the only reason why their baby now has a fighting chance, the only reason EVERYONE has a fighting chance is because of Nealfire?! AND THEN YOU WENT AND KILLED HIM ANYWAY DESPITE THE FACT THAT APPARENTLY YOU CAN SPLIT A HEART AND TWO PEOPLE CAN SHARE ONE HEART????? Do you see my issue here? Neal is clearly the REAL hero of this story and they went and KILLED him. That was his reward for everything: death. What kind of moral message is this? Neal fighting his way out was just rubbing his death in my face and now I'm just angry. Let's go to the present.

Full Circle

In Storybrooke, the troops have gathered because they are in total agreement: we must stop Zelena. Well, good that we're all on the same page. Here I was thinking that maybe someone would be totally fine with Zelena and her "change the past!" plans. The gang discuss Emma breaking the curse, but the problem is that until Henry believes in magic and fairy tales, Emma's TLK won't work on him. So finally after several episodes walking around it, the gang remembers the storybook. The storybook was what set Henry out on his journey to being with and it's what Emma used to believe in magic and the Curse in S1, so it's only natural that it's Henry's talisman. The last time the book showed up randomly in Snow's closet right when Henry needed it most, so it's time to hunt it down again.

Meanwhile, Rumple has captured Hook and stuffed him into a car trunk and brings him to Zelena. Hook is living in the center of town and no one saw Rumple or Rumple’s car or Hook getting captured and thought, “maybe we should follow it….?” Or what, “Here Dark One, whom I have been keeping in a basement in order that no one might rescue you…drive into the busy town and fetch me the pirate who is never alone, but always with those pesky heroes and my sister! Do it sneakily! Don’t want anyone to follow you! Meanwhile, I shall stand by a tree and think deep thoughts with my monkey” Anyway, Zelena is very angry that Hook hasn't gotten with the kissy kissy of Emma Swan. She needs Emma to be powerless because Emma is the only one that can stop her evil time travel plans. Zelena tells Hook to either get with the kissing or she'll kill Henry. So basically, "forcibly kiss a woman or I'll a child." The morals of this show are outstanding.

Before heading off to Snow's apartment to look for the book, Emma and Henry have a fight because Henry is officially fed up with Emma's lies. Emma tells him that she is the mom and what she says goes, end of story. And Henry is totally his mother and father's child. Henry's solution? Run away! Henry tries to break into the Yellow Bug and drive to a bus station. It was a nice little call back to both Neal and Emma trying to steal the car. But who should appear and stop him? Hook, of course. Hook has a much better plan, you see. We'll get to that. In Snow's apartment, the book is found much to Emma's chagrin. You see, unlike what she has been saying in the past two episodes, Emma still wants to return to New York with Henry and have a normal life. Because Emma Swan is officially unable to make up her mind about anything. Magic! New York! Past is the Past! Past matters! Girlfriend is all over the place, but I love that Snow is trying to set Emma right: you were only happy because you didn't remember any of us. It seems to strike a chord in Emma that maybe she needs to focus on having her family instead of remembering a false life.

Meanwhile, Hook takes Henry to the docks where Mr. Smee is waiting with a boat. You see, Hook's brilliant plan is to put Henry on the boat and send him back to New York City. Let me get this straight, Hook thinks it's perfectly okay to take another person's child, stick them on a boat with a total stranger, and then leave him in the largest city in America. I get that he thinks he is protecting Henry, but he is not allowed to make these kinds of decisions! He's not Henry's father nor mother nor even creepy uncle! He has no rights over Henry's life! And of course actions have consequences because the monkeys suddenly descend (I wish I was joking) to stop this idiotic plan. Hook tells Henry to run while he begins firing on the monkeys. WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!!! Look at all these people we are killing! There goes Little John, there go the dwarves, there go Philip and Aurora! Hope their baby is being looked after! Now I can't hate Hook too much for this because the heroes show up and start going the exact same thing--Charming kills one, Regina kills a few. All these murdered people! I don't care if they are really just random Ozians or peasants or even if they are the characters we know--they were still people, right?

And Henry finally has his eyes opened. I mean, flying monkeys will do that to a kid. Emma tells Henry that he must trust her, he must believe, and she pulls out the book. I did like the call back to the opening season where Henry says that it's more than a book and now Emma is saying it here. Tentativly, Henry reaches out and touches the book, and BOOM--memories restored. They had some nice flashes of Henry's life, including one of my favorite Henry and Neal scenes (play sword fighting). Henry remembers everything and he and Regina have a nice reunion before it is time to get with the kissing from Emma. But oh no! Too slow, Ms Swan! Zelena POOFs Henry to her side and begins to strangle him (is this still a Sunday show?)

"You can call me Auntie Zelena." Poor family tree--so very messed up. Zelena tells Emma that this is all Hook's fault for not listening to her (to which Hook gives a wonderfully delivered "damn you, Zelena" *sarcasm*). As the life is slowly chocked out of Henry, Emma summons all her savior strength and proceeds to do...something? I honestly have no idea what Emma did because I couldn't get over how silly she looked squatting and pushing. Let's try that scene again. Some sort of white light surrounds Zelena, causing her skin to burn? And it's enough that she lets Henry go, who runs back to his mothers.

Zelena having been "dealt" with POOFs away and Regina is super relived to see Henry unharmed and gives him a nice forehead smoochie. And BOOM. Curse broken.
First off, let me say I’m happy it was Regina. It was a nice parallel (in reverse) to S1 Emma breaking the curse, so I’m not complaining about that. I’m questioning this from a “what we’ve been told/shown before” perspective.
In Season 1 we learned that Emma is the Savior because Rumple took a strand of her parents hair and created true love potion, then put a drop on the Scroll of the Dark Curse. Thus, Emma was the Savior as well as being True Love Incarnate. So what about Regina? She’s not born of True Love between Cora and Henry Sr. And our gang of heroes were trying to perform the curse away from the eyes of Zelena meaning Zelena didn’t intend for there to be a savior and we never saw Snowing and Regina do anything to make sure it was Regina who could break the curse. And the last time we saw the Dark Curse scroll, Regina tore it up in order to cast the counter curse to Pan’s spell. So there was no way to put “Regina as Savior” on to the scroll because it had already been destroyed.  So how did they ensure that it would be Regina who would break the curse with TLK with Henry? I'm also glad it didn't take until the end of the season for Henry to get his memories back and for the curse to break, that would have been a bit much. One more important conversation: Emma asks Hook what is going on with him and Zelena and Hook confesses everything, including that he was about to send Emma's child away. And Emma is FINALLY fed up. She tells Hook she can't trust him and that he had no right to decide something like that. I may have clapped. Henry meets Regina's new squeeze Robin Hood and then pays his respects to his dead father--who is never coming back. Neal is gone, isn't he? It doesn't matter that he was the real hero and made sure everyone would be saved. It doens't matter that everyone gets to come back except him.

Oh and then Snow goes into labor. Here come the baby.

Miscellaneous Notes on A Curious Thing

 --The title for this episode comes from one of the main songs in the movie "Back to the Future": The power of love is a curious thing
Make a one man weep, make another man sing
Change a hawk to a little white dove
More than a feeling thats the power of love; 

-- "Why do women keep their shoe boxes?" "Because after true love, there is no more powerful magic than footwear – It has to be protected." Oh Snow, don't try to joke. It doesn't work.

--"Where you come from people bathe in the river and use pine cones for money.” – Regina to Robin

--I never wanted to see Neal again because it hurts too much. I have anger over this. They have abused his character and now he is the real hero and he never gets a second chance with his family. And oh, yeah: massive parallel between Snow killing Charming with Charming's permission and Emma killing Neal with Neal's permission. But only one gets to come back.

--How the heck did Hook leave? Did he a make a portal out of the Jolly roger *gag*

--Was this a bad episode? I don't know. I really don't. Parts of it were good but the glaring inconsistencies are just annoying and frustrating now. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

In Which I Review Mad Men (7x2)

They say communication is the key to a good relationship; therefore, it should come as no surprise that, when examining the various personal and interoffice relationships of the characters on Mad Men, there is a serious lack of communication. And that's part of the delicious irony of Mad Men--these people's jobs center on being able to communicate the wants and desires of the public at large to the public themselves. But ask them to communicate with each other or their significant others and, quite literally, the land line breaks down and it's nothing but static. It's Valentine's Day 1969, and instead of being a love fest (as the more cliche depictions of the late 1960s would have it), it's a disaster-- until the very end. This weeks' episode, "A Day's Work," was less dreary than last weeks premiere and replete not only with development in the personal lives our favorite ad men (and women) but also with some hard hitting social issues like latent racism.

Don Draper's life is a mess. While his alarm clock may be set to get him up at the appropriate work hour, he ends up sleeping until past noon. This siesta is followed by a rigorous day of eating in front of the TV in his bathrobe. Unwanted, unloved, diseased Dick Whitman sits alone in his apartment, that is looking a little worse for wear, oblivious to the world around him. It is only as night gets into full swing does he magically transform into the slick and smooth Don Draper we know and somewhat love. With a suit and tie, as if he has been in it all day, Don meets Dawn at the door and his plucky young secretary proceeds to give him a run down of office politics. (Side note: but start keeping track of how many doorway conversations they have on Mad Men. It's becoming more and more frequent each passing season.) Don is indebted to Dawn for her help and even offers to pay her, something Dawn is uncomfortable with, as it feels wrong. But all women are whores to Dick Whitman and she's done all this work so surely she gets a little something-something. This is how Don has managed to stay in touch with his business over the past few months. He was "let go" in November, right before Thanksgiving, and now it's Valentines Day. Is he missed? I think some of the partners do miss him--Roger for one and Peggy was definitely channeling her inner Donald Draper this week (we'll get to her.)

But let's go back to Dawn. Dawn has been a woefully under developed character since her appearance in season five. When she first appeared as Don's new secretary, I figured she would be our examination of the working black woman in the 1960s. For the first few seasons of Mad Men, our stock black character were the occasional working man who literally blended into the background (an intentional writing choice) and the Draper children's nanny, Carla. Carla was often a shadow figure in the background; Betty was a WASP housewife who passed off her children to another so that she might partake in more appropriate WASP activities, like horseback riding and meeting other women for luncheons. Carla was rarely given a voice of her own, but rather her experiences were shown through the causal racism of her employers. In season three, for example, Betty hosts a party where she and her fellow WASP Republican friends discuss the situation "down South" and how appalling it is that African-American's rights are being trampled upon; all the while, Carla stands in the background, taking coats of guests and being treated as an object rather than an actual person. Racism, in the mind of Betty Draper and her friends, happens in other parts of America. Not in the more modern and accepting North. Which is an utter crock and the point Weiner is trying to drive with his almost erasure of an entire race in his TV show. The Civil Rights movement happens on the edges of the main characters lives and instead of the big grand moments about which your average student is educated on in the school room, the gulf between white and black is given in smaller moments: Carla being dismissed without even being allowed to say goodbye to the Draper children; Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech happening in the background of one of Don Draper's assignations with a early-form hippie school teacher.
All of this was supposed to change when Dawn came on the scene; she was the new type of African-American woman who, like the white women of Peggy and Joan, managed to step outside of the house and into the workforce. But instead, she was relegated to a more minor role, placed in the background as a woman who kept her head down, had little to say in her own defense and was expected to simply be a credit to her race instead of embracing what was happening outside of the office in the every day lives of African-Americans. Why am I going on about this? Because this episode, an episode full of miscommunications, finally managed to discover black people. I don't mean that in the sense that they haven't dealt with the black situation of the 1960s--as I already pointed out, the show has. But the writers haven't done an acceptable job (says the privileged 1980s born heterosexual white girl, so yes, I do recognize the irony of me trying to give voice to a person of color on an internet blog) of letting Dawn and others like her speak. The episode in which Martin Luther King Jr died somehow focused more on the white response to African-Americans than the actual Africa-American response. We're still trapped in a white man's world. So finally, with the help of totally-awesome-short-skirt-wearing Shirley, Dawn got to speak. First, she stands up to Don and tires to reject his money and secondly, she'll stand up to Lou Avery and his treatment of her when he is caught in an unexpected situation.

I am getting slightly ahead of myself but I wanted to sketch the basic racial overview of Mad Men since a third of this episode is dedicated to that. So, pray, forgive me while I jump around the plot of this episode and stay with Dawn a bit longer. Back in the office, the next day, Dawn and Shirley (Peggy's secretary) are having office chit chat in the break room. I think this is a first on Mad Men--two non white people having an honest conversation about the white people around them. Shirley is the late 1960s African-American woman we've been expecting to see. Her clothes are shorter, she's sporting an afro, and her she's got some bite. A slightly comical (turned not so comical later) incident with roses and her boss Peggy and Shirley is feisty about her treatment. I love their opening comments, calling each other by the others name--to all the white people in the office, they are the same: just the black girls doing the typing. Dawn tells Shirley she can't get upset over Peggy's faux pas involving the roses that are rightfully Shirley's. "Just keep pretending. It's your job." Peggy may have misunderstood the roses on Shirley's desk but it's a sign of the kind of latent racism that Peggy has demonstrated before that occasionally comes out at unexpected times. Peggy automatically assumed that those roses were for her on Valentine's Day--because why would the black secretary be getting them, right? Shirley has a ring on her finger; she is obviously involved with someone but, to Peggy, it is inconceivable that the black secretary could possibly get roses on Valentine's Day. African-American's were expected to just take this sort of casual racism in the workplace if they wanted to keep their job and keep their position, as Dawn is about to find out.

Dawn's advice to just keep pretending fails her when Sally Draper shows up looking for Don and meets Lou instead. When Dawn is out shopping (for Lou's wife!), Sally learns her father's big secret: Don is no longer working (we'll get back to this). Lou, suddenly finding himself in an uncomfortable situation, lashes out at Dawn for not being around at that critical moment. When Lou brings in Joan, he says, "I know you can't fire her..." meaning "she's black and so we can't dismiss her in order to save face," and Dawn decides to stop pretending because "I can obviously say whatever I want." She tells Lou that this isn't her fault and she shouldn't be punished, but she will be. It's still the white man's world. And what about Shirley? Her awkward situation with Peggy also comes to a head when Peggy tries to throw out the roses that do belong to Shirley. When Shirley tries to explain that they are her roses, Peggy (who is drunk and smoking because she is Don's mirror and this is exactly what Don would do--has done--when he is reminded of a bad relationship) goes off and accuses Shirley of embarrassing her on purpose, which of course isn't the case. Miscommunication. But Peggy has the power in the relationship and manages to get Shirley moved to Lou's desk and off of hers. Like disposable objects, Shirley and Dawn are moved at the whim of the white men and women. But in a twist of deliciousness that only Mad Men would do (and really, only Joan Holloway would do), when Joan gets bumped upstairs (yay girl!), she puts Dawn in charge of personnel. So, Dawn may have been shoved down the ranks because of Lou, but she gets elevated because of Joan. Yes, it's a problem that it happened because of others, but I really hope they stick with Dawn as the new head of personnel and we see just how capable she is. Quick side note but GET A GRIP, PEGGY.

Okay. I spent a lot of time on Dawn. Let's move on to...well, Don. Coming home from something that was supposed to resemble a business meeting but was really a desperate attempt at a human connection ("I'm just looking for love" was a pithy joke except that it's essentially the entire thesis of Don Draper's life), Don finds his only daughter sitting in his apartment. I have to wonder how many times Don and Sally have seen each other since Sally caught Don in fligrante dilecto. My guess is minimal. And even though Don has told Sally the truth about himself, she has once again caught him in a lie--when she questions where Don was, he lies and says he was at work, something Sally knows to be a lie. The look on Sally's face was utter disgust. Here is this man, standing before her, lying over and over and over.

Don offers to take Sally back to school and they have a blow up in the car. Don asks why Sally let him lie to her and Sally just flat out speaks her mind (you go girl) : "it's more embarrassing to catch you in a lie than for you to be lying." It's hard for Sally to come to Don's apartment--what if she ran into Sylvia? How horrible would that be for poor Sally? Don lets the full weight of Sally's words hit and the confirmation that he is unlovable rests on him. Don and Sally's relationship has always been the real love story of Don's life. Betty didn't love him once she found out the truth, and this was years after a quick whirlwind romance and a marriage of neglect; Meghan realized that Don wouldn't change and fled to California where they are now having super awkward trysts; the partners of his company (that he helped found!) learned of his past and dismissed him. For Don, nobody can love him because there is something fundamentally wrong with him. He sees himself as diseased and sick on the inside. And in the car, the only love in Don's life that really matters, rejects him. Trying to find a way to mourn the end of this relationship, Don tries once more to reach human contact through food.

At another diner scene (a mirror image of the lunch Don was having but with a more palatable outcome), Don forces Sally to sit with him while he eats. When Sally gets antsy about getting back to school, Don finally tells all--he didn't want anyone to know he was dismissed because he was ashamed and he was dismissed for not behaving himself. Don Draper of season one would rather die on the spot than admit he was ever ashamed. So, wow!  This seems to soften Sally a little bit; she is, after all, her father's daughter. She understands that Don is many people because in her own words "I'm so many people." Betty tries to force Sally to be her mini-me (but she is too much like Don for that); her friends try to force her to be like them, cool and hip and unaffected by death (but Sally has had too much pain in her life for that); Sally tries to be a grown up but she is constantly finding herself back in childhood (notice how they still haven't aged Sally's wardrobe? Knee socks and everything). The rest of the conversation puts them back on equal footing. They are partners in crime but Sally will now call
Don on his crap--Don says that he wants Meghan to move back to NYC to work on the marriage and Sally just says "how?" Basically, "come on, Dad. That's bull and you know it."
Finally Don and Sally reach the school and Sally, jumping out of the car, turns back to Don and says, "Happy Valentine's Day. I love you." I almost cried. Don's face (Jon Hamm is a gift to the acting world) was perfect. It hit him like a ton of bricks. Someone out there loves him. And not just someone, but SALLY loves him.
The person who would have more justification than anyone to hate him and reject him because of the sickness in his soul, loves him. Don has a hard time with honest euphoria, but he was so happy. Do you have time to change your life? That's the running theme of the season--over the next (now) 11 episodes, can Donald Draper/Dick Whitman pull himself up by his bootstraps and get over his emotional mountain of crap and save his life? I have said it before and I'll say it again: Don won't make it to 1970. But maybe, just maybe, he'll be able to die with the knowledge that at least one person loves him. And maybe that's enough.

Miscellaneous Notes on A Day's Work

--There was so much jam packed into this episode. And I couldn't possibly do it all justice and not make this blog a small tome. Like I predicted, Pete isn't as happy as he pretended to be last episode. He's still spiteful and ambitious; still a New Yorker. And he hasn't found his Betty Draper like he thought he had with Bonnie Whiteside--she's a shark, ruthless and thrives on it. I like her. But I bet Pete is having second thoughts. A note on Bonnie's outfit in her final scene--yellow (which is Peggy's power color); floral (which is Joan's thing); short and sassy (like Trudy); blonde bob (like Betty) Pick a woman, Pete.

--Roger and Jim showdown. Two old white men with their own ideas of how to run a company. Let the women handle it; they clearly know what they're doing.

--When will Don go back to work? They can't keep him out of the office forever.

--Where on earth is Betty Francis?

--Don is the collective ex-wife who still receives alimony. Nice.

--"Just keep cashing the checks. You're going to die someday."

In Which I Review Once Upon a Time (3x18)

Sometimes I wish I could sit in the writers room and tell them why their ideas need to be reworked. Honestly, I'm starting to wonder if the creators and writers watch their own show; after this weeks episode, "Bleeding Through," it's painfully obvious that they need to Netflix binge watch the first season of their own show. Twisted family drama, lightening fast character development/ship development, and quasi-incest shenanigans highlighted an episode that may have answered questions but was shocking for the value of shock over actual coherent narrative. Thus, I present my own conversation with the writers had I been in the writers room. 
Adam and Eddy: We want to make the Wicked Witch of the West Regina's sistrer
Me: Oh. Okay? I mean, you pretty firmly established that she was an only child and that's why Cora did everything she did--Regina was her only chance at a happy ending. 
Adam and Eddy: Cora was cunning. 
Me: ....sure. Let's go with that. But who is the father? 
Adam and Eddy: A random guy. 
Me: That's actually not bad. I'm okay with that. If it means no Rumple nor Leo, then great! 
Adam and Eddy: And of course Cora and Leo almost got married. 
Me: Wait. What? 
Adam and Eddy: Yeah! Cora and Leo. They totally had a thing. 
Me: Leo? Snow's...father? 
Adam and Eddy: Yep!
Me: Leo? Regina's....husband?
Adam and Eddy: Yes, that guy. 
Me: But...
Adam and Eddy: It totally works. And it's shocking! And imagine all the family drama!
Me: But...

This episode wasn't even horrible in the grand scheme of horrible episodes. It answered questions, had some honest character development, and some pretty good special affects. But the story of ONCE is slowly becoming more and more twisted and convoluted. At some point last night, my mom turned to me and said, "I have no idea what's going on or who these people are." That's a problem, ONCE. Did it have to be Leo and Eva with whom Cora got tangled? Why not just some other random prince? You know, in order to reduce the incest icky feelings I get after tonight? But I suppose that's too much to ask from this show that seems to consider constant family angst an art form. 

Well This Is All Sorts Of Icky

Hello, Cora. Remember Cora? Of course you do. Of all the background family characters on the show, she's the one that matters because the writers actually develop her in a meaningful way. Our favorite Miller's Daughter turned Queen of Hearts is back once more, this time as a tavern barmaid who lives by the motto "I try to be a little better than I am." Well, that's Cora to a T. This is the girl who stole a dress, a mask, and walked boldly into a ball in order to seduce the Prince and ended up claiming she could spin straw into gold. But in this episode, Cora is still the Miller's Daughter; Rumple and Henry Sr are in the future and Cora only cares about what other people can give her. Enter a handsome stranger with bedroom eyes, a silky voice, and promises of a better life. Jonathan is a pig, isn't he? Sadly, he's a very realistic depiction of some men in the world. Bed 'em and leave 'em, that's his motto. Posing as a prince, Jonathan promises Cora the world--a crown, wealth, power, money, a good life. And Cora eats it up, which is surprising. I get that Cora is supposed to be younger and more naive here, but Cora has never been stupid and she is being portrayed as such. Clearly Cora knows who the monarchy is; she recognizes Prince Leo right away. But for this man in a seedy bar with a small embroidered kerchief, she is a simpleton. When Jonathan says he's a prince, she believes it. When Jonathan says he'll marry her in two weeks with a real ring, she believes it. And when Jonathan says he must leave early in the morning, Cora offers to give him a proper send off. How kind of her.

Do I feel sorry for Cora? Both yes and no. No one should have their heart broken, but she did jump into bed with a man she barely knew who claimed to be royalty. Why not just wait two weeks to sleep with him? You could have waited, Cora. And then none of this would have happened. Anyway, giant shocker, Jonathan isn't who he says he is. He's the gardener to the royal family. Get it? Green thumb. It's supposed to be cute. It would have been more appropriate if he had been a stable boy in order to really drive home the parallels and poetry that the writers are striving for. Cora's life is ruined by a stable boy she thought she loved and then tries to marry Leo; Cora later kills a stable boy who is in love with the daughter she kept and then forces Regina to marry Leo. But, instead, Jonathan is a gardener and not royalty. And Cora? Yeah, she's pregnant. And Jonathan is totally uninterested in Cora and the babe. Luckily, Cora runs into someone who can help her out!

Hello Snow's papa. Remember Leo? No, of course you don't. He appeared a grand total of two times back in season one and was depicted as a kind man, a good father, a devoted husband, and overall good egg. And now he's kind of sleazy and lecherous. Leo and Cora walk through the woods and Leo laments about how he is going to marry a woman he has never met before, his betrothed Eva. All the while Cora stokes a fire. It's a metaphor! (I'm cringing on the inside). Eva is not his choice; it's a political marriage as most are in royalty but Cora encourages him to make his own choice. I'm sure there is nothing in it for her, right? Not like Cora is openly seducing Leo, trying to get him to choose her or anything. Here's the thing. Leo is the Prince. His father is still in charge. Know what Princes are not allowed to do? Decide who to marry. They do as the King commands. And the King is not going to let his son randomly throw away political alliances for the sake of a peasant who can't offer anything as far as land, money, soldiers, ect. Maybe that's harsh, but that's how political matchmaking works.

And poof! Engagement. Let me parse this out. Leo is now engaged to Cora. Leo will later marry Regina, Cora's second born. Am I the only one bothered by this? According to show runner Adam Horowitz last night on Twitter, Leo *knew* he was marrying his former flame's daughter. This is icky. Just. Icky. At any rate, Cora likes the new life she is being given, but there are a few problems. Jonathan is still around and being a plague. He wants money and jewels to keep quiet about Cora's bun in the oven; if Cora's doesn't acquiesce to his request, he'll let everyone know that Cora is pregnant with his child, which would ruin her chances with Leo. And the second problem? Eva. Eva overhears this whole conversation. Eva has been brought to the castle to meet Leo, whom she is supposed to marry, and overhears that the new woman (with a ring on her finger already!) is pregnant by the gardener and planning on passing it off as Leo's. Is telling the truth bad? Is that the message ONCE is now sending? Because in present day, when our heroes learn the sordid details, they seem to think that Eva is in the wrong here. Because lying and deception is better than truth telling??

 And so the truth comes to light. Leo confronts Cora about the baby she is carrying and promises that he'll take care of her and raise the baby as his own after he marries Cora. But he has to know that he can trust Cora; if there is no trust, then he cannot marry her. Seriously. Where is the King in all this? The KING decides who Leo marries, not Leo. The King is the one who arranged Leo and Eva's marriage in the first place, meaning he has political ambitions. He's not going to let the heir of his kingdom marry a peasant girl that his son has known for two days. Eva appears during this confrontation and tells Leo that Cora is lying and check her pockets where Leo finds a stash of jewels to pay off Jonathan. Cora is escorted from the palace and Eva promises that Leo will have a heir. A pure heir. An heir as pure as snow. And with that cringe worthy line....

Baby Zelena is born in a little hovel to a ragged Cora. And Cora wants nothing to do with her. She wraps the newborn in a blanket, complete with green bow, and leaves her in the woods. Hoping someone would find the baby? Or that wolves would eat the child? What exactly did Cora expect to happen? The one highlight of this scene, though, was the nice twist on the famous ONCE line. Since the beginning, every time a baby is sent a way (Emma or Henry) it's to give the baby their best chance at a good life. However, Cora is a selfish brat. This isn't about baby Zelena's best chance, but Cora's herself. "I have to give me my best chance." Wow. Well, that's totally in character for Cora, if a really horrible sentiment. But here's the rub: a magical baby who can summon a green tornado seconds after abandonment is your meal ticket, Cora! How did she not notice that the baby was apparently Super Baby? Is Cora blind or just a really fast runner? Cora is the Roadrunner. That's season 4.

Ouija Board Not Required

And now we move into the present day portion of the never ending circus of bizarre where our characters somehow need to learn everything we're learning through flashbacks. If only they had the ability to talk to the dead! Oh, hello never before mentioned magical spell that is really super convenient. But I'm getting ahead of myself. While the flashbacks felt rushed and unbelievable (not to mention the ick factor), parts of the present day were enjoyable to watch, even if there was also an equal amount of lightening fast character development.

 Regina has never been my favorite character, but I do love the Evil Queen. Lana Parilla was born to play that role. She is perfect in her evil, sarcastic, snarky, sassy way. Watching her have a sass off with her half-sister the Wicked Witch of the West was a definite highlight of the episode. The bitter envy both ladies feel toward each other was fun to watch: a real Wicked vs Evil showdown. Zelena accuses Regina of never taking risks and that the original Curse was just a fancy way of running away. Interesting way to look at it, I suppose. Though, isn't that what Zelena is doing, in a way? Running away from her own reality, trying to create a new one? One that fits her tastes instead of living with what actually happened. The sisters are more alike than they want to admit. The whole sass off was really a distraction, though, because Zelena still needs Regina's heart. And luckily she has her trusty Dark One to get it for her, even if he does have to threaten a four year old to do it. Poor Robin and Roland. So now Zelena has Regina's heart, Charming's courage, and can pluck Rumple's brains. Time to celebrate!

I gotta give some props to my girl, Belle. When Regina comes tearing into the pawn shop looking for something with which to stop Zelena, Belle refuses to help Regina. Belle has a little something called self-respect and after being locked in a tower, imprisoned in a basement, and then cursed with a different set of memories, why the hell would she help Regina? Because Rumple, of course. Regina does offer up a mea culpa and about time too. While I did like that she's apologizing, it doesn't erase the past. It doesn't change what Regina did to Belle and while I liked this scene as a whole, it does come across as "fan check list." The writers know how passionate their fanbase is about Belle and Rumbelle. They've been demanding an apology from both Hook and Regina for a long time and now they got both (though, the Hook one is almost more offensive than his deeds--Regina's apology was at least mostly heartfelt, if motivated by the need for a favor). It's like the writers are reading what the audience wants and slowly giving it to them in piecemeal. Want Emma and Regina to practice magic together (for the SwanQueen fans)? Done. Want Neal to become a villain and die (for die hard anti-Neal fans)? Done. Want Snow and her family to be more at fault than Regina's (for the Evil Regals)? Done.

Regina's plan is to talk to her mother, to summon her ghost. In order to summon a ghost, you need the murder weapon (the magic candle from the previous season) and the murderer, who is apparently Snow White. I have so many issues wit this. Snow played a part, to be sure. But so did Rumple. So did Regina. And most importantly, so did Cora herself. Cora was out to murder Snow's entire family, but somehow Snow is getting all the blame here. Rumple manipulated Snow, who tricked Regina, and Cora died while trying to commit murder anyway! But sure. Snow's the one we're going to blame. The spell to summon the dead opens a giant portal but nothing appears to come through and the magic ends when Hook bumps the table (well that's not suspicious and shady at all). Having failed, Emma and Hook and Charming leave the house--Emma and Hook to go make flirty time with each other (skipping) and Charming to Snow stays behind with her stepmother to help clean up.

Omgosh, talking. They are talking. What show is this? These people don't talk. There is no sitting down and discussing feelings. There is only magic and myth and action. While I like (no, love) the talking, the conversation, in part, is still off kilter because Snow is not solely responsible for Cora's death! And let's not forget: Cora killed Eva, and Regina killed Leopold and cursed an entire land for 28 years! Why is Snow being made out as the worst out of all these people? Because Regina is loved more. It's as simple as that. It's not complicated. Regina and Rumple (and Hook) ARE this show. And so everyone else is now being made to look like they are the bad guys (or boring simpletons) while the actual bad guys are given pity parties. If we're applying real world logic to this show, like people insist I do with Neal's death, then Snow wouldn't go within five feet of Regina, a woman who continuously tried to MURDER her. So I applaud character development, but not so much how it's making the actual good guys look. But we're saved from analyzing too much by a loud bang.

Ghosts comes with their own ghosts spindle. I'll let you think about that for a second and the amount of sense it makes (hint: no). Young Ghost Cora came through the portal without anyone seeing her and is not happy. In fact, she sees Snow and goes on a tirade! Must kill Snow! Must make her pay! But Regina steps in to protect. Now, while I liked the talking of the previous scene, it was nice to see Regina act on that development and save Snow instead of letting her ghosty mother hurt her step daughter. Regina's, "if she wants to kill you, she has to go through me" line was quite touching. But then it got bizarre when Cora actually managed to get past Regina and infect Snow White, causing "memory" flashbacks to what happened with Cora, Leo and Eva. Convenient that a ghost only imparts the memories of that one particular moment in her life. So now Snow knows that her mother told a secret and that's why Zelena is doing all this. It all comes back to Eva, which, again, I find really bothersome. Eva told the truth, that's it. She did the right thing, whereas Cora was trying to lie and manipulate her way into Eva's rightful place. But somehow, Eva is getting the lion's share of the blame from Snow and Zelena.

Thankfully Belle, who has been hard at work researching, managed to figure out what is going on. Time travel. With courage, a resilient heart, and brains, it's a recipe to go back in time and change the past. And what exactly does Zelena want to change? She wants to kill Eva so that she can never reveal that Cora is pregnant and stealing from Leopold. If Eva is killed, Snow is never born; Emma is never born; Henry is never born; Regina is never born. And Rumple tutors Zelena to cast his curse; Zelena gets everything she wants. But there is one more thing Zelena wants: the baby of Snow and Charming. Why? No idea. But the baby is needed just as much as the other three things. Maybe the baby is a new savior? Maybe Zelena wants a little brother/sister? Maybe this plan is really contrived and silly?

One more scene to discuss and I don't really want to. Having stolen Regina's heart, Zelena is quite pleased and decides to celebrate with Rumple. Her little doll is dressed up in a new suit and forced to endure a meat pie supper. But during dinner, she gives Rumple a little carrot: help me cast this time travel spell and you can have Baelfire back (well, "your boy" because they refuse to name drop Neal. They won't say his name because that would remind you that he's dead and we can't have that now can we). He's alive in the past and waiting for you. Rumple goes along with it, going so far as to apologize to Zelena and then proceed to kiss her and I'd rather not go into details because it was quite horrible. Rumple was trying to get the dagger away from Zelena, but honestly...this was his plan?? He couldn't think of something else. Zelena is having none of it though and manages to stop Rumple from getting his dagger and then informs him that he has lost his chance with Baelfire. And Rumple says that it's okay because Neal gave his life to make sure Zelena could be stopped so he will honor that.

And I rage for days. I have nothing to say about this, but the very tiny spark of hope I had also died.

Miscellaneous Notes on Bleeding Through 

--I don't understand the title of this episode. Was it that the worlds were bleeding through? The past was bleeding through?

--Yes, Robin and Regina kissed. After knowing each other for 2 days in Cursed Storybrooke. Regina is taking advantage of her knowledge that Robin is her soulmate. Robin went along with it, though. However, it did not break the curse.

--Where is Henry? Is he being watched at all?

--Emma thinks it's amusing to make things vanish. Because that will help against the witch.

--Snow says they spent their last night focusing on the past. Well that's great, but you do realize that Regina hasn't apologized for her sins right? What about the mass murder of an entire village? What about murdering your father? What about poisoning you? What about making you spend 28 years in a cursed town? Without your true love? And without your child? Stop erasing the past!

--"I thought our family were the good guys." They are Emma. But the writers don't want you to remember that.