The Wife:

And so another season of Criminal Minds draws to a close with a bomb . . . only this time, it was a C-bomb! What what! C. Thomas Howell up in your faces, bitches! But I’ll get to Tommy later when I discuss the two-part season finale. But first, I must discuss three other episodes:

4.22 “The Big Wheel”

Criminal Minds often does some of its best character work when it allows us to identify first with the episode’s villain, even sometimes to sympathize and root for him. Certainly, I-don’t-know-why-he-isn’t-a-fucking-star-yet Anton Yelchin got a great character episode in season three’s “Sex, Birth and Death” (see also the Official Documentary of Matthew Gray Gubler on The Gube’s website, in which Yelchin does a great job of sucking up to The Gube and pretending like he’s an acting god; it’s good stuff), and here CBS favorite and Moonlight star Alex O’Loughlin got a great role in an otherwise totally obvious and uninteresting episode. O’Loughlin played a loner cameraman/photographer/videographer with OCD who, after witnessing his father murder his mother and watching a tape of the act repeatedly, murders women resembling his mother each year on the anniversary of his death. Only one year, he murdered a woman who had a blind son and, besieged by guilt for robbing a boy like himself of a mother, he later befriended the boy and planned to atone for what he had done. O’Loughlin’s Vincent found his victim’s son after he was placed in a foster home through a kind of Big Brothers-Big Sisters program and promised the boy he would one day take him on a Ferris wheel, alluded to throughout the episode by the repetition of two concentric circles (either drawn on the boy’s palm or circled around the date of the boy’s birthday). I don’t really know what a blind kid gets out of a Ferris wheel (wind? the feeling of being high up?), but Vincent managed to spirit him out of his home to fulfill his promise of taking the boy to the Ferris wheel, only to poison himself at the top of the ride and slip away into death while the boy simpered at his side and held his lifeless hand.

Even when I think about Feed, he's still cute.

Even when I think about Feed, he's still cute.

I’ll admit that I’m one of many, many humans on this planet powerless to the unstoppable sexiness of Alex O’Loughlin, and he is definitely hot in thick black glasses (with or without a camera mounted to them). And even hotter in long johns!

4.23 “Roadkill”

I didn’t like Deathproof and I didn’t like this episode.

Although, fundamentally, the motivations for murder with one’s vehicle were proven different in this episode (misdirected guilt vs. vehicular rape), I still find something about vehicular manslaughter to be unsettling. Could it be the fact that it would have been really, really easy for any of the victims in this episode to simply run off the road? Or, in the case of the parking garage, not to run up the parking structure, but, perhaps, back into the building from whence you came, weaving between barriers of vehicles the whole way? I guess in the very least I can say that I’m pleased Reid validated my dislike of Tarantino’s Deathproof by actually talking about vehicular rape.

In a semi-related note, I’d like to mention that my husband has been watching All-American Girl a.k.a. the sitcom starring Margaret Cho that is so totally not based on her stand-up at all, and he showed me the “Pulp Sitcom” episode last night, featuring her then-boyfriend Quentin Tarantino as a videotape bootlegger. I am glad he gave up acting. Because he really sucks at it. The only thing he’s good at is showing up for a brief cameo in Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror to have his junk blown off, which is kind of an apology for positing that a rape-act should be retribution for a rape-act, if we read the vehicular rape theory into Deathproof. And kind of not.

4.24 “Amplification”

Rarely does CM do something I find frightening, but anthrax is pretty scary, yo. Especially whacked-out mutant strains of anthrax unleashed onto unsuspecting groups of people! Especially when my darling Spencer Reid accidentally exposes himself to some of that super-mutant anthrax and nearly fucking dies! Not okay! (I mean, as a viewer, I was pretty sure Reid would live as he is so crucial to the show and all, but, still – how heartless would I be if I didn’t tear up when he called Garcia to record a message to his schizophrenic mother to tell her, as he sputtered and coughed from the anthrax in his lungs, that he was proud to be her son?) In addition to the horror of this episode’s threat, I have to say that it was one of CM‘s better thematic episodes, as well. With Reid’s sacrifice, we’re asked to ponder a central conceit bandied about during this episode, “Is it better to sacrifice the few to save the lives of many?”

J.J. and Emily struggle with their own interpretations of the question. When Hotch forbids the team from calling their families to warn them about potential outbreaks, J.J. wonders what harm it could do to call home and tell her nanny not to take her infant son for his daily park stroll. Hotch tells her it would be unfair of them to use privileged information to save their families when they couldn’t give the same information to the public they serve. Similarly, when Prentiss and Rossi investigate the home of the unsub, a curious neighbor comes up to them and inquires if she should get her children indoors, after seeing some commotion at the house. Prentiss seems like she’s about to tell the woman about the anthrax, but instead informs her that the house is infested with toxic mold. They shouldn’t come near the house, but her children should be safe to play outdoors. It would be wonderful for both J.J. and Emily to share their information and save a life, but both would be at the greater cost of potentially letting that information spread uncontrolled, causing panic and endangering more than it would save.

Hotch comes up against his own interpretation of the phrase when he goes against an army general for control of the anthrax investigation. They debate principles of information dissemination, with the general taking the opposite line of the BAU (and also totally not getting profiling, like, at all), asserting that its not appropriate to sacrifice the lives of the few to save the lives of many . . . thus completely destroying the hopes of anyone who practices utilitarianism of working in government . . . even though that’s basically the point of government . . . but . . . whatever. Eventually, General Witworth comes around to working with the FBI, especially when Garcia is able to track down Nicols’ assistant, a grad student doing a case study on anthrax with whom Nicols, a former government researcher, was more than happy to share his work. It’s this man, Chad Brown, rejected for working at government labs numerous times, who planned to initiate a large-scale anthrax attack that would cripple military presence in D.C. With help from Garcia, Reid discovered most of this while trapped inside Nichols’ home laboratory, nearly dying from anthrax, but not before discovering the cure for the mutant strain lodged in a safe, unsuspecting place: Nichols’ inhaler. So when Hotch and Morgan intercept Brown as he’s about to attack the D.C. subway system, Witworth steps in and pretends he wants Brown to recreate the strain of anthrax for government use, giving him the recognition he desired and getting him to hand over his bag full of lightbulb anthrax bombs while Morgan handcuffs him.

And thanks to Reid finding the cure, he and three other victims of the park attack survive. And thanks to the rest of the BAU, D.C. goes on, unaware of the threat to the lives of its citizens. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Good stuff, Criminal Minds. Good stuff.

4.25 “To Hell and Back”

As its own fucked-up, two-hour horror movie, this would be pretty great. I totally love the idea of a quadriplegic Garret Dillahunt forcibly controlling his mentally challenged younger, pig-farming brother with guilt and convincing him to kill transients and extract their spinal fluid in the twisted hope that, one day, mentally-challenged pig-farmer brother will be able to follow research and restore Dillahunt’s motor functions. I totally love that. I totally loved that there were never any bodies after Lucas and Mason’s experiments because, just like when Dillahunt was on Deadwood (both times, in fact), they were fed to the pigs. I loved that Lucas collected the shoes of his victims, and I loved that his most recent abductee, a crack whore named Kelly, was so good at convincing him to follow her lead instead of his brother’s that I really think she could have a career as a suicide counselor or a hostage negotiator once she gets out of rehab and into community college.

And I have to admit, the unnecessary shootout at the end, in which the SWAT team rains bullets on Lucas because he wants to make sure his new friend is okay, while the man who brought this case to the BAU, Sgt. Hightower, enters into the farmhouse to straight-up assassinate the defenseless Garret Dillahunt? That was pretty brutal. The BAU never wants to end a mission in bloodshed, and sometimes, there are not neat quotes to sum up a day’s events – especially when that day’s events truly end with George Foyett sneaking up on Hotch in his apartment, and the episode ends with the sound of a gunshot and blackness.

I kind of don’t care about Hotch, and I do deeply love how fucked up George Foyett is – especially because it’s clear to me that C. Thomas Howell will be around for a mutli-episode arc at the beginning of next season. By attacking Hotch, Foyett has gone outside of his normal methodology, which means something here is seriously wrong, and I can’t wait to find out what it is. The threat of a C-bomb is way better than the threat of an actual bomb, and that coda, complete with Hotch’s excellently creepy voiceover about the summation of events through quotations tells me we’re in for a wonderful season opener next year, in which I think we might actually lose someone important to the show . . . unlike this season’s opener, in which the person who died was someone no one cared about.

The Wife:

Oh, 90210! You are ridiculous! This finale was all the fuck over the place, but it was so fucking nutzo that I think it was actually pretty good. Here’s “9 Final Things About This Week’s 90210:”

1. Adriana. Probably the show’s most realistic and moving scene to date: Adriana, post emergency C-section, can’t even look at her newborn daughter because she knows that if she does, she won’t be able to give her up. She eventually does come around to holding her, and then, when somewhat overeager adoptive parents Greg and Leslie arrive, it’s absurdly hard for her to let go. You got me a little bit there, 90210. Great performance by Jessica Lowndes in this episode. I’m so glad they promoted her to a series regular.

2. “Have you met my dragon?” Before Adriana could come to the realization that she needed to say goodbye to her child before giving it up for adoption, though, we had to witness a super-trippy dream sequence in which she imagines that Brenda has returned from playing Cleopatra in China to hang out with her, rather than saying goodbye to her dying father. You see, Adriana and Brenda are a lot alike . . . however . . . I still don’t really understand why Brenda or Kelly are actually Adriana’s friends. I can kind of get that Kelly, a bleeding heart guidance counselor, thinks her duties extend to the delivery room, but Brenda? Other than tossing Aid into rehab, I’m not really sure why they’re, you know, friends. Anyway, what I learned from this is that apparently, the school production of Anthony and Cleopatra did happen, we just never got to see it. Also, “Have you met my dragon?” is the greatest segue into unveiling a completely unnecessary Chinese dragon ever.

FUCK YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

FUCK YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

3. Post-Prom-a-Palooza. I don’t know what was most impressive about Principal Wilson’s school-sponsored post-prom party. Was it the a capella group singing Stephen Foster tunes? (Hell, yeah, “Beautiful Dreamer”! Sing “Swanee River” next! Sing it!) Was it the fact that there were so many people in attendance? Was it the fact that nearly half the people in attendance were wearing my favorite tee shirt in the whole wide world right now, “One party can ruin your whole summer?” No, no. It was clearly the fact that someone laced the brownies with weed, totally rendering Moms and Pops Wilson stoned out of their minds when they head to the hospital to visit Adriana and her baby. I kind of loved Rob Estes crazy-eyes. Like, loved them enough to think he’d make a good guest star serial killer on Criminal Minds, following in the footsteps of one totally awesome C. Thomas Howell. I also kind of loved the fact that they were so afraid to drive (let alone incapable of getting their shit together) that they couldn’t go look for their lying children . . . so they just stayed in the hospital waiting room all night and never went home. Lord knows I’d have made fast friends with those lush waiting room couches myself if I’d come across some edibles at Post-Prom-a-Palooza. Mmmm . . . couches.

One pot brownie can ruin your whole summer.

One pot brownie can ruin your whole summer.

4. Post Prom at Villa Clark. Because Pheobe’s party gets shut down by Pops Wilson, Naomi offers to host the party at her new digs, only to abandon it altogether to be by Aid’s side and put Annie in charge. I would have probably, oh, I dunno, just cancelled the party. But that’s just me. Thinking practically!

5. Love triangle #1. While Dixon starts to doubt his relationship with Silver, Ethan assures him that the very things that he doesn’t like about her on prom night are the things that make her Silver the other 364 days of the year. Later, Silver comes to question Ethan about his thoughts on her relationship with Dixon, and he assures her that they’re good together. But after switching jackets with Dixon (where Ethan has stowed a lovely prom portrait of Silver) and getting caught watching Silver jump in the pool in her prom gown, Dixon realizes Ethan’s got a thing for his girl, and, rather than getting into a fight that might involve a way to kill off Dustin Milligan, they just kind of stare each other down. Silver totally has no idea what’s going on, but Ethan solves that by later sucking her face off when she tries to stop him from leaving. Is Dustin Milligan not leaving the show? Because this is the kind of plotline you set up when someone isn’t leaving, not when you plan on killing them off during their summer in Montana. I never read any correction to that bit of casting news, so perhaps I’ve been watching this entire season incorrectly looking for ways to kill off Dustin Milligan. Dunno. Anyway, is a major break up a really good thing to do to Silver right now, guys? I mean, she is bipolar. She can’t be in high-energy situations. Or she’ll go crazy! At least, that’s what her sister seems to think.

6. Love triangle #2. Although Liam opened up to Naomi about his past (chiefly, it seems, how his mother used to be a maid and married up . . . because that’s oh-so-shameful), she is so excited about this breakthrough that she tells her sister all about it. Jen uses this information to sleep with Liam by pretending to be Naomi’s neighbor and saying that Naomi just blurts all this stuff to anyone. When Naomi comes home, she finds Liam putting his clothes back on and immediately wants to know who he’s been with. He won’t tell her, because he’s a tool, and she goes on a hell rampage when she finds Annie’s gaudy faux-fur wrap on the floor that Jen stole. Then Jen enters and tells Liam she’s Naomi’s sister, he calls her a bitch, and she’s like, “Well, duh.” Later, a none-the-wiser Naomi cries on her bitch sister’s lap as Liam is taken from his bed in the middle of the night and shipped off to military school. This is a much better love triangle than love triangle #1.

7. Best transition ever? Lori Loughlin enjoying a brownie with a vigorous “Mmmm!” to Adriana experiencing contractions with a hardcore moan. Genius.

8. Everyone at WestBev is a douche. As soon as the post-prom party at Pheobe’s house is cancelled, everyone starts calling Annie a rat, which is way less clever than whomever came up with Benedict Annie. But Annie takes pity on Phoebe when she finds her vomiting in Naomi’s bathroom and offers to drive her home. However, when she gives this alibi to Naomi when questioned about why her wrap was on the floor if she didn’t sleep with Liam, Naomi doesn’t believe her because Pheobe, like everyone else, hates Benedict Annie. Seeing how angry Naomi is, everyone quickly turns on Annie, who up until this point had been cleaning up after their drunk asses and getting them drink refills, calling her names of the rat variety and even tossing drinks in her face because she went to prom with someone she had no intention of dating thereafter. AnnaLynne McCord uses her absolute best bitch-face here and screams at Annie to get the fuck out of her house, leading to the most amazingly awful (but bold!) acting choice Shenae Grimes has ever made. Benedict Annie steps outside the doors, grits her teeth, makes a bunch of guttural noises whilst shaking her fists in the air before fumbling around with her cell phone and becoming the person those WestBev douches wanted her to be: the rat who calls the cops on their party.

9. Final scene. Wait, did Annie hit someone while driving drunk? I’m totally confused because I saw no hitting. Alls I know for sure is that the other car that didn’t look like it got hit at all had a WestBev sticker on it. As I don’t plan on watching this show next year, I guess I’ll never know.

Nonetheless, crazy shit happened, so, um, good finale, 90210! I wish you the best of luck in your future, because Lord knows the CW needs you to survive.

The Husband:

Sorry honey, you’re going to be watching the next season with me come this fall, because that was a damn good finale, and you know you cannot resist. Especially now that the vastly superior Privileged has bit the dust, how else are you going to get your non-GG high school bitch fix?

As for the final scene, Annie did definitely hit something, although we never saw it. It was supremely awkward how it was set up and then not paid off, but my guess is that if Dustin Milligan is off the show next year, then she hit him. It’ll create some major friggin’ drama next season, that Annie killed her ex-boyfriend whom she stole from Naomi, all while having a gigantic bottle of booze in the car after being laughed out of a party. That’s some crazy shit right there.

Good finale? No. Great finale. Everything that has worked about this season found its way into this episode, and none of the bad stuff decided to stick around. Jen’s betrayal was cruel enough to turn her into a great villain, Liam’s violent kidnapping was brutal enough to actually inspire pity in me, Annie’s downfall was juicy enough to last a long time, and Lori Loughlin and Rob Estes were funny enough to get me through all the pregnancy scenes, ones I had been dreading after having already gone through that drama on SLOTAT.

(You want to see Lori Loughlin be as hilarious in something else? Pick up the recently DVD-released Keanu Reeves comedy The Night Before. She plays bitch like nobody’s business. Then follow it up with the sweeter C. Thomas Howell starrer Secret Admirer. That’s right – two C-Bombs in one article!)

Whatever. I’m there next season. This show has become a can’t-miss in its recent weeks, and I’m not going to let that go. It’s a good thing I’ll be working from home this fall instead of chained to my office computer 40 hours a week.

The Wife:

I present you with “9 Things About This Week’s 90210, Some of Which Are Clearly Stolen from Other Shows and Others of Which Were Clearly Not Thought About Beforehand.”

1. 90210 and Rebecca Rand Kirshner Sinclair, I am calling you on your bullshit. Please stop stealing plot threads from Brenda Hampton shows. This week’s episode opened with a fantasy sequence in which Navid and Adriana discuss the possible future life for her baby, with Navid as a surrogate dad. They imagine names and places they’ll live and how they’ll negotiate being about to finish high school and raise the baby, which of course hinges on the help of Navid’s parents. Navid has got to calm it the fuck down with the baby fever because on this show, he doesn’t seem sweet, he seems fucking crazy. I have to compare their relationship to Ben and Amy on Secret Life of the American Teenager because a.) that show predates this one and b.) however silly SLOTAT may sometimes be, I have always, always found the relationship between Amy and Ben to be grounded and relatable. Ben’s desire to love Amy and help her raise her baby is founded in his own need to connect and love since the loss of his mother and he is utterly sincere in his pursuits, even though they may be naïve. But Navid doesn’t seem to recognize how naïve his suggestions are, and how insane his enthusiasm sounds. It’s making it easier and easier for me to conflate the terrorist Michael Steger played in the beginning of this season of Criminal Minds with Navid himself, and that’s really weird. (And yes, I thought of Shemar Moore chasing him to his death in a subway tunnel when he airplaned food into Baby Habib’s mouth. Because I’m a horrible person.) I buy Ben’s enthusiasm for Amy’s child, also, because his suggestions to help her care for it never seem like he’s forcing her to make decisions that he likes, but because Adriana just seems to go along with everything Navid says (why, I don’t know), there’s something significantly less grounded about their relationship because of her inability/refusal to think for herself and weigh her options. She totally just goes along with his whole “Let’s tell my parents your pregnant and we’ll get them to help care of the baby because we’re Persian and that’s what we do!” scenario without ever questioning it, and I can’t believe that’s a plausible reaction for a 16 year old pregnant girl to have.

2. And in regards to the aforementioned scene with Navid’s parents, it was actually pretty amusing to watch it play out exactly as he said it would (first shock and horror, then complete acceptance when he suggests they get a nanny because “family takes care of family”) . . . until, of course, he mentions that the baby isn’t his. At which point, his parents refuse to let him marry Adriana and raise that child in their home, which is a perfectly reasonable reaction when your son has gone crazy. Their explanation as to why Aid can’t become his wife sounds perfectly reasonable to me, and a very SLOTAT-ish warning. It doesn’t mean he can’t date Adriana and help her take care of her child, it just means that, at 16, it’s probably not a wise idea to legally tie yourself to a woman who is months away from birthing a child that isn’t yours. Being legally entrenched in that kind of situation is really difficult should any baby daddy drama arise. And Navid’s mom is also right about this: her son’s heart is in the right place. Because although I think he’s kind of nuts now, he is being very gallant. Good scene, 90210!

3. But, of course, Navid is actually crazy, and decides to propose to Aid anyway, turning his back on his family. Heeding Naomi’s advice, though, Adriana hesitates to accept the proposal with his pawn shop ring because she hasn’t told him who her child’s father actually is . . . which is a seriously good thing to know, considering potential baby daddy drama mentioned in my second point! And when she tells him it’s Ty Collins, well, he flips out. He leaves, and returns to yell at her, then leaves again, and returns again and so on to the point where his opening and closing the door was no longer dramatic but funny. If you want me to take them seriously, 90210, you need to treat it seriously. The door thing would have worked once or twice. But four or five times was too many. I’m also not sure his reaction was entirely appropriate for the situation, given that he isn’t being cuckolded in any way, and yet was acting as though he was. True, she shouldn’t have kept the father’s identity from him, and he should be upset about that, but not so upset as to abuse that poor door! In the end, though, he still puts that ring on her finger and demands that she never, ever take it off. Which is sweet. See? His heart’s in the right place!

4. Naomi. She’s also insane and completely in denial about the fact that Liam is a douchebag. I’m glad Annie called him on his shit on that double date she was forced into, and I really don’t care if he asked her out because he genuinely liked her or to prove to Naomi he’s a douchebag, because he’s a douchebag and no one should date him. But power to Annie for her actions. And for rocking that Ella Moss dress Naomi gifted her.

5. Naomi is a terrible, ungrateful houseguest so it’s a good thing for the Wilsons that she has a sister we’ve never fucking heard of that clearly was something the writers had never before thought of to bail her out of their father’s “Dionysian Debacle.” Also, her sister is a bitch and I see where she gets it from.

WestBev: so gauche.

Why didn't we ever know, with all of Naomi's family problems, that she had a sister?

6. Silver at St. Claire’s. Why is she so shocked that people pray aloud in Catholic school? That’s kind of what going to a religiously affiliated private school is like. Did she simply not think of that at all?

7. Paige Howard. By the way, I attended Catholic school for 13 years of my academic life, and I never, ever met anyone like Paige Howard’s character. I certainly had friends who were more pious than others (including myself), but none so horrible as to sweetly demand that someone come clean about their past in order to get right with God or whatever. Certainly, most of the people I know who went to Catholic school are so much more intensely strange and wholly un-pious than what Paige Howard is supposed to represent. Basically, all the kids I know from Catholic school are really fucked up. And that’s why I love them and we’re all still friends today. (And yes, Paige Howard is Ron Howard’s daughter.)

8. Catholic School is no different than Public School. I mean, really. Rumors are going to swirl and people will call you a slut if you make an Internet sex tape with your boyfriend, regardless of what school you go to. Hell, rumors are going to swirl even if you don’t make an Internet sex tape with your boyfriend. That’s just what high school is like, and I don’t know why Silver expected changing schools would make it any different. Hasn’t she watched Buffy? High school is hell. Literally and metaphorically.

9. Naomi’s sister we’ve never heard apparently slept with Ethan. Is Naomi going to kill him when she finds out? I would love a death at the prom, so I really hope that happens.
Oh, and a special shout out to Jessica Lowndes hair, which looked amazing throughout this entire episode.

The Husband:

We hit a hiatus, y’all, with this here Shonda Rhimes Land, a world of moral quandaries, career-threatening neuroses and, basically, patients behaving right on the edge between extreme human behavior and outright lunacy. Would we want it any other way?

I don’t know if it was the break, or the fact that I watched Grey’s Anatomy on a Friday night after a very long and confusing week at work, but I had an extremely tough time re-entering any of the various stories tossed my way. Every once in a while, something happens with a show like this or, say, Numb3rs or Criminal Minds or Castle, where things get so repetitive, in dialogue and/or stories, that I will catch myself near the end of a scene literally being unable to understand words that are coming out of the actors’ mouths, as if they aren’t saying words but are actually droning “manananananananabloobloobloo” on and on. At least with Criminal Minds, the show is so fast that if I come across one of these scenes, I only need to wait a few more seconds and the BAU team will be in a completely different location staring at some other unsub. But with this week’s GA, there were at least five scenes of brain gibberish, and I draw the line at three. The silly feud between Derek and Mark, especially, devolved into gibberish, as I stopped listening once they were bickering over an open body during surgery. Good one, guys.

And it’s not like the director was making sure I gave a shit, either, because he took a scene that could have been harrowing (a suicidal patient running amok in the hospital, and then running through a window and smashing the car below him) and made it the funniest scene of the week via godawful special effects, rendering what should have been a great stunt into a digital mess that clearly involved no actual human beings. Even the glass breaking was fake. Really? You can’t afford some goddamn candy glass? I can give you an actual address if you need some.

Haaaaaave . . . you met my lesbian lover?

Haaaaaave . . . you met my lesbian lover?

The only story that seemed to really be worth a damn this week was the reappearance of Hector Elizondo as Callie’s father. There to give George a piece of his mind for cheating on his daughter and thus ensuring their divorce, he is surprised to learn that while, yes, Callie has found a new partner, she is now a raging lesbian, going to town on Jessica Capshaw’s Arizona. This devolves into a Spanish language shouting match, as Hector gives his daughter an ultimatum – come home to Miami and do your practice there, or your gigantic trust fund is completely gone. Callie’s decision is tougher than one would expect, as her father has 100% paid for her entire education and has ensured that she would focus entirely on her career and never have to scrounge for cash. He even tries to bribe the Chief with a generous donation in order to remove Callie from Seattle Grace. But Callie’s a grown woman now, and no old-fashioned, archaic bigotry is going to let her give up somebody she truly loves.

At least on Private Practice, I was thrown some shameless ethical dilemmas. How big of a deal is it that a female high school teacher starts banging a 17-year-old student only a month away from becoming an adult? Hell, at least the dude wasn’t 14. What was the problem with this arrangement was that she was giving her lover some of the medication Sam prescribed for her, and said medication had a terrible effect on the boy/man, as he was allergic to sulfa. And as my wife is allergic to sulfa, I now have a general understanding of what external symptoms would arise if she was accidentally given it. Technically, she doesn’t have whatever disorder the dude had, but that was still a narsty enough rash all over his neck and chest that I will make sure to be very clear with any doctor in the future should my wife ever need to go to the emergency room, jeebus forbid.

(Wife’s note: Yes, I have had that nasty rash more than once as a child. It’s totally unfun. And, if I recall, the anti-rash medicine tastes like cat hair. Thanks for teaching my husband to inform the ER of drug allergies, Private Practice!)

But the major, central ethical dilemma arose when a woman, 20 weeks pregnant, came into St. Ambrose with a weak heart. Flanked on both sides by her diabetic husband and his brother (who is also the woman’s nurse), she refuses to listen to Addison’s suggestion to terminate the pregnancy, even though that would be the best solution. (Basically, at this point it’s either lose the baby and live to try again, or keep the baby and tempt fate with potentially dying later on if a new heart cannot come in on time.) But a day later, her husband turns up brain dead after overdosing on insulin, and just happens to have a heart and the proper blood type to save his wife. Now, let’s ignore the fact that, after Charlotte comes in with some CSI people and halts the transplant at least an hour to make sure that the husband did not commit suicide or that the nurse (who allegedly is in love with the woman) murdered him, it comes to light that the overdose was accidental. Because that’s too coincidental, and Addison knows it.

My issue is this: whether it was a suicide or a murder, having her dead husband’s heart inside of her body in order to save a fetus is just going to fuck with the woman’s brain even more, and will definitely affect the child as it grows into a mentally damaged teenager with abandonment issues. When I told my wife of this storyline, she had very strong words to say about the woman’s original choice to keep the child, so if she wants to write a follow-up after this post, that’ll take care of discussing this particular focus on the episode. But from a strictly psychological point, it pretty much seems like bad decisions all around.

(Wife’s note: All I’m going to say is to rehash something my husband said a few weeks ago in one of these Shonda Rhimes post. You can make another baby, but you can’t make another Jennifer Westfeldt.)

Yay!

Yay!

In other Oceanside Wellness news, Naomi is being tempted to leave the practice she started to work at a better funded practice with research teams and scientists by none other than actor James Morrison, having just blown up on 24 merely a couple months ago only to reconfigurate, T-1000 style, as somebody with the same goddamn first name (Bill), and Pete realizes that he has to break up with hot single mother Idina Menzel because Violet is soon to give birth, and no matter who the father turns out to be, Pete is going to have to be there both for Violet and the child. And so, unfortunately, Ms. Menzel’s stint on Private Practice comes to a close, but at least we Rentheads got to experience a little in-joke when Idina walks through Oceanside Wellness, and Taye Diggs turns and watches her, proclaiming, “I like her.”

The Wife:

Our DVR was getting close to capacity, so this weekend was very procedurally focused for me. But before I start talking about Criminal Minds, I’d like to suggest that you all visit Matthew Gray Gubler’s personal website. I discovered it a few months ago, and even though I already harbor a fairly well-known crush on the good Dr. Reid, I am now head-over-heels in love with the actor behind him. Gubler has worked with Wes Anderson, used to be a fashion model and is also an artist, drawing some truly strange and macabre little watercolors and sketches. You’ll either love him more for this website, or become slightly afraid of him. Either way, you should check it out. He’s amazing.

4.17 “Demonology”

An episode about exorcism that I no longer really remember, sufficient to say that it took place in Georgetown, which is funny because that’s where The Exorcist was filmed and also funny because I happen to know that a linguistic consultant for the show sometimes guest lectures at the school.

I do remember, though, that this was a good character episode for Prentiss, who is rocked by the death of her friend, a friend who stood by her when she had an abortion in Rome at 15 and helped her walk into church with her head held high, despite what everyone in the room thought of her. Some very good work by the multi-talented Paget Brewster in this episode, but nothing else stand-out.

(Husband Note: I do, however, remember the presence of Walton Goggins as one of Prentiss’ old friends, and that I could not take him seriously because of how pathetic he as a character became during the final season of The Shield. I hate to typecast actors, but he was so good as the show’s truly tragic, wretched second lead that I can’t see him as anybody else. Sort of like how Dylan Baker will always be a pedophile.)

4.18 “Omnivore”

Besides Matthew Gray Gubler, you know who else is amazing? C. Thomas Howell.

First of all, dude works like a motherfucker. He may have never been a star, but when I see someone with 127 credits to their name since the age of 11, I’d say they’re living the dream that only a lucky few get to experience: being a working actor. Tommy is perhaps best known for his work in The Hitcher and the movie that should have made him an 80s teen star, Soul Man (but kind of didn’t because he was kind of in blackface . . . just watch it . . . it’s not as horrifying as it sounds, but why anyone thought Tommy would make a convincing black man, I’ll never know). But I know Tommy best for somehow beating Hal Sparks on VH1’s Celebracadabra, a short-run series where “celebrities” learn magic. Look, I love Tommy, but Hal Sparks had that shit in the bag. In any case, Tommy is a totally likeable human being . . . which just goes to show you how good of an actor he is in this episode of CM.

(Husband Correction: He is definitely known the best for Red Dawn and The Outsiders, but yes, we are in agreement that C. Thomas Hwell is the muthafuckin’ man.)

I am hurt and confused that The Wife does not remember my brilliant performance in Red Dawn. Wolverines? No?

I am hurt and confused that The Wife does not remember my brilliant performance in Red Dawn. Wolverines? No?

Given that he had top billing of guest stars in the episode, it was not at all a surprise to me that his character, George Foyett, was actually The Boston Reaper, a serial killer that had made a pact with the police 10 years ago to stop killing as long as he was no longer pursued, a pact that would soon expire. Foyett was the Reaper’s sole survivor, and that’s because Foyett, a hebophile (someone who is sexually aroused by teenage girls), had murdered a girl he was allegedly going to propose to and then inflicted 67 stab wounds into himself to throw the police off his trail, all the while being able to assume another identity (his own, non-killing identity) and profess the “real” story about the Reaper to the media, thus gaining the kind of fame serial killers like to have.

Once the team figures out that Foyett is the killer, they arrest him, only to find out that he has engineered his own escape from jail – the arrest and escape were something he had been plotting in the ten years he lay dormant, all to feed into his own legend and narcissism. Frankly, I think that was a great twist and it opens us up to another episode with C. Thomas Howell in the future. And that’s only a good thing, because I now cannot get the image of Tommy with blood running down his chin out of my head. And that’s disturbing, because it was kind of sexy.

4.19 “House on Fire”

And that truly brilliant Boston Reaper episode was followed by something of a non-starter involving a serial arsonist in a small town, all because the town drove away a due whose “love map” went all wonky when his parents died in a fire, thus giving him an unnatural attachment to his sister. Lost’s Sam Anderson guest starred as the town doctor, basically playing another version of Bernard, and Michael Rooker had very thick facial hair as the town Sheriff, which really threw me off because I’m used to a clean shaven Rooker.

The best part of this episode, though, was Garcia having to play profiler by digging deep into the victim’s pasts to find any connecting threads at all. She’s excellent at digging, and there were some good character moments for her here when she realizes that she likes to pour through information, not the minds of people.

4.20 “Conflicted”

I never really did “Spring Break” the way MTV wants you to do Spring Break, so I have a hard time picturing people voluntarily going to warm locales just to drink a lot and have random hookups. I can, however, picture a scenario like the one in this episode where Alpha male Spring Breakers are being raped and murdered, presumably by a male-female partnership.

And they’re right – except that the male/female partnership are the same person, hotel housekeeper Adam Jackson and his alter personality, Amanda, who surfaces to protect Adam. And when Amanda is arrested, she becomes the dominate personality, locking Adam away inside her.

I should note that in addition to guest star Roma Maffia (Hey there, Liz Cruz!), this episode also featured Jackson Rathbone as Adam/Amanda. I thought that Rathbone was incredible in this role, because that Amanda was definitely one fucking crazy bitch, and I am now even more impressed because I should have known him from Twilight. He plays Jasper, and he seems to be one of the most hated things about the movie as it always looks like Jasper is getting an enema. Rathbone is a good actor, I’m just pretty sure that working with material from Stephenie Meyer is nowhere near as good for stretching one’s acting abilities than twisted shit in a guest spot on a procedural. Or maybe Jason Alexander is better at directing actors than Catherine Hardwicke? Either way, I’m now looking forward to the later movies in the series where Jasper actually has things to do.

Sorry, I just got a flash of that one time I created an army of vampires during the Civil War.

Sorry, I just got a flash of that one time I created an army of vampires during the Civil War.

(Husband Note: I just had a fun time calling the episode out on its bullshit, as the “Texan island” where the episode took place was just Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles, right the fuck next to the airport. Had the camera moved slightly to the right in some shots, I would have seen my clearly SoCal alma mater. I don’t know a whole lot about the islands off of Texas in the Gulf, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t look like an episode of The O.C.)

4.21 “A Shade of Gray”

A sociopathic child incapable of feeling remorse kills his little brother and his parents hire their cop friend to make it look like it’s part of an ongoing serial kidnapping case to get the BAU involved. All I could think of is that this is all probably guest star Gretchen Egoff’s fault, because she should have made that little sociopath a pizza sandwich.

Oh, man, I miss Journeyman.

The Wife:

After several MOTW episodes, it took Akiva Goldsman to steer Fringe back toward its mytharc. And even though it was Akiva Goldsman both as scribe and helmsman, I think this episode admirably got us back on track. The only thing I like about Akiva Goldsman, Oscar-winning scribe of A Beautiful Mind, is that he wrote Paul Bettany’s imaginary English major, who speaks one of my favorite lines in all of cinema:  “I was at a cocktail party for the English department. The cock was mine. The tail belonged to a lovely little piece of work with a penchant for D.H. Lawrence.” (I also like I, Robot and I Am Legend, but those are adaptations of prior works that were already great to begin with, so I can’t really give Goldsman full credit for making those awesome.)

(Husband Note: Besides, since I, Robot has three credited screenwriters, rumor is that Akiva was only brought on board to Will Smith-icize the screenplay [making it “hipper” and “funnier” and “sassier,”] which ultimately ended up being the major problematic element of an otherwise awesome sci-fi film.)

In any case, I was impressed with Goldsman’s work on this episode. He wrote Olivia back into that tough-as-nails corner she was in for the first half of the season, which worked fine for the episode, but simply proves to me that he has no idea how to write women. (If you want proof, note the absense of female roles from the films he writes. And note the sparse text Jennifer Connelly was given in A Beautiful Mind that she somehow managed to win an Oscar off of.) But that’s really my only qualm with it, because he was able to create such a good, spooky atmosphere filled with a number of haunting images as well as tie in the show’s mytharc. Sci-fi is definitely Goldsman’s wheelhouse, and he should keep working in that genre.

As far as plot is concerned, Olivia starts killing people in her dreams, and then finds that the people in her dreams are turning up dead in real life. And what’s more, they’re people she’s never met. After two murders, Olivia finds that one man has been at both crime scenes, and he, Nick Lane, used to be a resident of St. Jude’s mental hospital, where he had admitted himself voluntarily to protect himself and others from his paranoid delusions about being experemented on as a child and trained to be a soldier in an army to fight against the denizens of a parallel dimension, when the time came. Clearly, that stirkes a chord with the team, who realize that Nick has been quoting directly from ZFT for several years.

Like Olivia, Nick is from Jacksonville, FL and Walter believes that the two of them may share a kind of psychic connection because when he and Bell were doing their wacky experiments with Cortexefam on children, they often paired two children together, to help them cope with the experience. Nick and Olivia may have been such a pair. Nick, it seems, is hyperemotive; the opposite of an empath. His feelings are so extreme that he can infect others with them, which could be the reason the first woman jumped to her death in front of a 7 train and the second woman stabbed her husband in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Olivia undergoes hypnosis so that she can tap into Nick and track him while she’s pseudo-dreaming, during which we get to see her-as-Nick makeout with a stripper and then slit her throat after fucking her. After which, Nick returns home, so Olivia knows where he lives and she and the gang head off to investigate his home. There they find a giant conspiracy board covered in newspaper clippings about experimentation on children and track him to a building downtown, where he planned to kill himself and, due to the strength of his emotions, coerced others to do so along with him. Olivia, as Nick’s psychic other half, is immune to his emotional strength and heads up to the roof to stop him. He begs her to kill him, but she refuses, so he screams and sends one of his potential jumpers to her death. Olivia still refuses to kill him, instead shooting him in the kneecaps to incapacitate him, which causes the other potential jumpers to fall back onto the roof along with him.

Well, guys, looks like me and my special brain are going to have to go up there.

Well, guys, looks like me and my special brain are going to have to go up there.

Nick spends the rest of his days in a drug-induced coma deep inside the Boston Federal Building, and Olivia and Walter both go looking for secrets of their past. Agent Francis brings Olivia Nick’s file, filled with clippings from his conspiracy board, and Walter digs through his tapes until he finds one of young Olivia, post-experiment-where-something-went-wrong, where he calls the scared young girl Olive, the same name her psychic other Nick called her on the rooftop.

I know that by the end of this season we will meet William Bell, played by Leonard Nimoy (!), and so I’m happy to return to the scientific conspiracy mytharc, and happy to do it in a visually disturbing way. Was this a great episode? No, but it was necessary to get us to where we need to be in the story, and it was filled with enough memorable images to keep it interesting.

1. Balloons have never been creepier, and the extended sequence of the first dream-death certainly filled me with a sense of dread. I kept waiting for something to happen, and appreciated the nice misdirection with the woman nervously singing the circus song as the man in the train station approached her. I also kept following the balloons, the one bright bit of color in an otherwise completely neutral scene. And when that red balloon drifted upward and she fell in front of the train? That was pretty stunning. This sequence was creepy and evocative and I will never look at balloons the same way again.

I just wanted to sit here and drink my coffee and not sleep, but now I've got to get up and facilitate a murder. Again.

I just wanted to sit here and drink my coffee and not sleep, but now I've got to get up and facilitate a murder. Again.

2. The second death, where Olivia watches happy couples in the restaurant, was also really interesting to watch, as that couple’s fight escalated from absolutely nowhere. Also some great misdirection here when Olivia leaps up from the table, shattering her coffee cup (which we thought from the previous scene in which she buys No-Sleep caffeine pills that she was staying up to avoid murdering in her dreams) and heading over to the couple, I was sure she was trying to stop what might happen, but instead was taken aback to see her hand guiding the woman’s knife.

3. Nothing is more disturbing than seeing a group of people posed on a rooftop like zombie gargoyles, waiting at the precipice to dive to their deaths. Although, a similar scene occurred in The Happening, and it was very much not creepy then. Way creepier use of a recycled idea on Goldsman’s part here.

4. Watching someone slash their own throat with a razor blade is also unsettling, and just as haunting as any of these other deaths.

I liked those images better than the plot itself, which is why this one isn’t one of my favorite Fringe episodes ever, but it was surprisingly good, and certainly one of the better Fringe episodes as far as visual storytelling is concerned. But even then, still some levity, most of which comes from Walter:

  • “I thought you might have teleported to New York in your sleep and killed her. Wouldn’t that have been wonderous?” – Walter
  • “You don’t take your kid to the circus and then give them a front row seat to watch you kill yourself.” – Olivia, being much more dark than usual, which came off as oddly funny
  • “What if you weren’t dreaming about yourself, you were dreaming about him, Mr. Unsub?” –Walter, which made me really want Garcia on Criminal Minds to start calling people Mr. Unsub
  • “Where’s the fire? I always thought that expression was curious . . . since my lab assistant was killed in a fire.” – Walter

The Husband:

If you want to see an underappreciated 90s horror shlock film based off of the same general concept, I suggest that you pick up the goofy but oddly effective 1994 film Brainscan starring Eddie Furlong and T. Ryder Smith. In it, a young teenager plays a mysterious video game where he murders people, only to find out the next day that they were murdered in real life. But by then…it’s too late!

I would normally have recommended Hideaway as well, but I believe I’ve already mentioned that on this blog…

[checks previous entries]

Holy fuck. I’ve already recommended you all watch both Brainscan and Hideaway already on this blog. I basically just restated the exact goddamn thing. What the fuck is wrong with me?

Shit, I have to write something about the actual episode.

[brainscan brainscan brainscan]

Okay. I really liked how Anna Torv played Nick when he was at the stripclub. It was oddly convincing, masculine without being too broad, and just the right amount of creepy in portraying somebody who’s just a little too into the illusion of strippers.

The Wife:

Of all of Dollhouse‘s good episodes, I think this one is arguably the best of the series, especially because it contained two really great twists that I did not in any way see coming. Well, three if you count that chip . . . the thing upon which this plot is founded.

With Adele DeWitt out on leave, Lawrence Dominic is put in charge of the Dollhouse and on his watch, Topher finds a chip in the chair, a chip that could alter the imprint he put on any Active, like Echo, for instance. If he programs a cheerleader, that chip could make her a cheerleader assassin. So Dominic puts the whole Dollhouse on lockdown and imprints Sierra as a spy-catcher to find out who amongst them has betrayed him. The only people allowed out are Victor, send on a routine Miss Lonelyhearts engagement, the tenth of his missions as the paramour of the octogenarian, and November, imprinted again as Mellie and sent back into Paul Ballard’s life.

Ballard has started to go totally nuts in her absence, obsessing over Echo’s last message to him and using his time without a badge to become a conspiracy theorist. In the middle of a romantic embrace, Mellie snaps into November mode, delivering a message to Ballard the same way Echo once did. She reveals that she is an Active and that the Dollhouse has found out that someone is sending him information. She urges him to stop discussing the case with Mellie, as she is a spy, but to continue his investigation into the Dollhouse’s purpose.


“You can make people different. You can make me help.” – Echo


Even in her Doll state, Echo realizes that Topher changes people. She offers to help find out who the spy is by asking him to imprint her. He does so, imprinting her as an interrogation and body language expert, and she begins questioning the interior of the Dollhouse while Sierra is sent out to infiltrate the NSA and steal covert documents that would reveal who is leaking Dollhouse information. Sierra’s adventure is pretty cool; she dresses up like a cute Asian NSA agent and knocks her out on a train, makes herself some contact lenses with her phone so she can fool the retinal scan (uh, I totally want that technology – is that standard with an iPhone these days?) and takes out a security guard who catches her stealing, all in 4″ heels with amazingly gorgeous zippers up the back. From Sierra’s report, she pegs Ivy, Topher’s lab assistant, as the mole, but Echo thinks its Mr. Dominic. He is none-too-pleased with this accusation and gets into a crazy broken-glass fight with Echo before she bests him and forces him to admit this by dangling him out a window.

Dude, I am so not afraid to cut you.

Dude, I am so not afraid to cut you.

As for Victor, it turns out that Miss Lonelyhearts isn’t the 80-year-old woman his handler has been lead to believe he’s seeing, as he delivers roses to some random octogenarian, but speeds off in an Aston Martin to meet up with Miss DeWitt. They share a romantic weekend together, fencing and making love, until DeWitt enters the bedroom, clothed and crying. We later learn that she has been betrayed, as Echo delivers Lawrence Dominic to her for her judgment. He tells her that his mission was to keep her from bringing the Dollhouse down herself, and that by baiting Paul Ballard, he has driven Ballard further from the truth. Nonetheless, having worked by her now-betrayed side-by-side for three years, she condemns him to the Attic, which, by the way, is a complete mind-suck where the Dollhouse basically downloads your entire brain and turns you into a vegetable. Death without dying, and pretty frightening to watch, especially because Dominic manages to fire a shot into DeWitt’s stomach before his mind is completely blanked.

As DeWitt applauds Topher for using Echo to find the spy, he informs her that Echo came up with the idea herself, meaning that she’s still evolving and that the wish-fulfillment exercise suggested by Claire didn’t entirely work. Still, DeWitt thinks this might be useful, as without Dominic in the way, there’s no one to complain about Echo’s “brokenness,” suggesting, as Echo herself does, that her brokenness is actually an asset. She does, however, ask Topher to delete the Roger persona for the Lonelyhearts engagements, as Miss Lonelyhearts has realized how indiscreet her passions are, and Boyd gets bumped up to Head of Security, leaving Echo in the lurch as she bonds with a new handler at episode’s end.

I liked the way this episode was told, too, in addition to its content. I liked the framing with the BDSM engagement in the cold open, as it set us up to think about trust and trustworthiness, which is exactly what this episode was about. It was brilliant to show us how Echo realizes what’s going on, as well as to then follow each of the four imprints to see how they added up to what Echo was seeing. It kept me guessing, as I totally wouldn’t have seen that Lonelyhearts reveal coming, nor would I have necessarily suspected Dominic. My previous inkling was that Dr. Saunders was a spy, but now I return to my original thought that she, too, is an Active – just one that never disinhabits her very useful imprint. She mentioned in her interview with Echo that she never leaves the Dollhouse, so I have to wonder if, at the end of a day, she also cozies up in a pod.

I wonder, though, where the final episodes of this season will take us now that no one will be sending messages to Paul Ballard anymore. Perhaps Alpha will find him before the Dollhouse finds Alpha?

The Husband:

Can we agree on a couple things?

1.) Ballard is a terrible detective.

2.) I’m getting pretty fucking sick of every problem this show encounters comes from within their own headquarters, either through technological fuck-up or evil mole shenanigans.

Yes, it’s a pain in the ass how nothing ever seems to go right at the Dollhouse, and for such a secretive, mythological company, they have terrible security problems. That’s why I liked the episode “Man on the Street” so much, because it was more about the outside issues everyone was encountering, so much so that the Actives had to take on several different personalities in the same ep.

I am just doing my best not to look suspicious! And to cover up for Dan Vassar  . . .

I am just doing my best not to look suspicious! And to cover up for Dan Vassar . . .

But this was, despite its problems, a damn good episode. I always like the Rashomon approach to storytelling, as it’s not necessarily what’s coming up next that’s important to a story so much as what has already happened. It also takes one moment and allows it to evolve several times over until its life is no longer unexamined, and is therefore worth watching.

I did find it a little strange that Sierra was able to so convincingly pull off her disguise despite being a completely different kind of Asian woman than her target. (The actress is Nepalese, in case you were wondering.) Her story, however, paid off in wonderful amounts of tension, as her fate in re: the rescue helicopter wasn’t even seen, and only brought up again several minutes later as Reed Diamond does his best to hold onto his final bits of Dominic before, as the actor would know, he was to be completely wiped clean of mind and sent to the Attic. (Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun…) As a fan of the actor, I hope to god they keep him on as an Active, especially so I can make more random references to such shows as Homicide: Life on the Streets and Journeyman (as I did when he appeared on that two-parter on Criminal Minds this year).

Oh, and using Echo as a spy hunter was a great and proper use of this show’s central conceit, much better than being a fucking midwife.

And as my wife and I have finally finished watching all five seasons of Angel, all I can say about this show is the following:

More Amy Acker, please.

(Seriously.)