The Wife:

Before I get into the meat of this episode, let me just say that I’m super glad Fringe films in NYC and tosses in Tony Award winners and Broadway vets whenever it gets the chance. There’s something of a de-emphasis on theatrically trained actors appearing on film and television these days, and I find that, because of that, I have an extreme preference toward actors who cut their teeth treading the boards. I can really tell the difference between actors with stage training and actors without, because those with stage training seem to have so much more depth to their performances, like there’s always a rich inner life stirring behind them. A lot of actors who lack that kind of training end up being a little bit dead in the eyes at times, and that totally kills a performance. I’ve already talked about how happy I am to have Michael Cerveris as the Observer (who was perhaps his most observable tonight as he got an extended walk-on in a club scene at the beginning of the episode), who currently works in Sondheim shows. And I cannot fully explain my delight in seeing Jefferson Mays as a featured player in this episode. Mays won a Tony in 2004 for Doug Wright’s I Am My Own Wife, a one-man show about a German transvestite and the historical relevance of her antiques (which I regrettably didn’t see when it was here at the Curran in 2004). (Husband Note: I saw it, and he was fantastic, while the show is more of a B/B+.) So my delight in his appearance on my television screen last night essentially came down to my husband and I gleefully trying to insert the phrase “I am my own wife” into any scenario in which it would fit during the course of the show. Considering the nature of the episode, in which Mays’ character tried to stop his diseased wife from killing young men and drinking their spinal fluid all over Boston, we managed to work that in a lot. (Why isn’t she in the Chinese restaurant basement? Because she doesn’t exist, as Mays clearly is his own wife.)

So Nicholas Boone’s wife Valerie is running amok, seducing young men at clubs so she can drink their spinal fluid, which is what she needs to live, considering she’s been dosed with a ZFT-created drug (with a syphilis base) that has turned her into a monster. She can unhinge her jaws like a snake, exposing razor-sharp fangs which allow her to snap a victim’s head clean off, allowing her to suck all the spinal fluid right out of his body. That drug, whatever it actually is, causes her to lose spinal fluid faster than her body can produce it, hence the need to get it in any way she can. It also makes her eyes freakishly blue. No one knows why ZFT would do such a thing, other than creating monstrous women who eat spinal fluid seems like it aligns with their goals of global destruction through the advancement of technology.

I’ve got to say that I truly, truly loved the freak meet in which a sleazy guy with a terrible Australian accent (couldn’t Anna Torv have coached him?) picks up Valerie at a club, citing, “You’re my kind of girl,” and takes her home, where, in the heat of a kiss, she snaps his neck with force befitting a Slayer. From then on, each of her kills is punctuated with a callback to that line, “You’re my kind of man.” Dude, I’ll tell you what. My kind of girl can definitely, definitely snap a dude’s neck with her bare hands.

Walter finds an extinct strain of syphilis on the first victim’s neck, which they trace to a drug company called Lubov Pharmaceuticals, based out of Nicholas Boone’s home. They arrest the wheelchair-bound Boone and he agrees to tell them everything he knows about ZFT (which he used to work for) if they help him save Valerie. He says she’s been kidnapped and held in the basement of a Chinese restaurant (that, naturally, is actually a laboratory), but when she can’t be found, he tells Olivia that he needs to retrieve some vials of a contagion, XT43, which he believes will cure the person who’s out killing – his dear wife Valerie, whom he says was intentionally infected by ZFT to punish him for leaving the fold.

No, no syphillitic demon women yet. I'll let you know.

No, no syphillitic demon women yet. I'll let you know.

Amongst the things in his home laboratory, Peter finds a video camera with a recording as recently as three weeks ago in which Valerie is perfectly healthy, happy and normal and Boone himself is able-bodied. One of my favorite parts of Mays performance was the rhyme he creates for his wife on the videotape: “Valerie Boone, you turn March into June.” Not only am I sure that their happy videotape was entirely improvised, but that tape and that rhyme in particular served to ground and humanize the Boones and make their story exceptionally tragic. Olivia asks him why he’s in a wheelchair now if he was fine just a few weeks ago, and he reveals that he had been carefully measuring out portions of his spinal fluid to feed to Valerie in order to keep her alive while he tried to find a cure, but he could only give so much without killing himself and partial paralysis was as far as he could go to personally save her. And so she ran off, desperately fighting to survive. I love this kind of monstrosity (see my previous affections for Joseph Meegar), and that little rhyme really worked to make me completely sympathetic to Boone, Valerie and their plight.

Olivia and Peter try to track down where Valerie might be headed by following Boone’s stolen car (where they turn up more victims), while Boone stays in the lab with Walter to work on a cure for his wife. When Olivia and Peter call to say that they know where Valerie will strike next, Boone tells them that he can’t make the cure in time and begs them to bring his wife in alive so he can still try and save her. He asks Walter to remove another 25 ml of spinal fluid, assuring him that he has carefully measured each previous withdrawal so he won’t die if he loses just a little bit more. Astrid warns against it, but Walter proceeds anyway, trusting his new scientist friend. But by the time Peter, Olivia and Charlie bring Valerie in, it’s almost too late for Boone, who has had a stroke due to the loss of spinal fluid. And as Valerie is administered the antidote and returns to the Valerie Boone who turns March into June, Nicholas slips away into death.

He does, however, uphold his bargain with Olivia and records a message for her on the very video camera that holds the final images of him and Valerie together before the contagion in which he tells her some names involved with ZFT, the only one we are privileged to hear is, perhaps, the one we all knew was coming: William Bell, alias Gordon DeBoone, is ZFT’s biggest funder.

For me, this one was a really ideal episode – sympathetic monsters that actually contribute to the mytharc and move the story forward, and a lot of that is anchored in Jefferson Mays’ performance. Good times, Fringe. They’re really come around to some good stuff recently, and I’m pleased with where they’re headed. Now if they could only get Raul Esparza to guest star . . .

And some funny bits:

  • “You know what this reminds me of, Peter? Shrimp cocktail.” –Walter
  • “It tells me you’re hot. And you’re definitely hot. But I’m looking for someone with syphillis.” –Peter, when being hit on by a girl at a club and reading her with his thermal heat sensor.

The Husband:

Ding dong, Edie is finally fucking dead. Thank whatever lord you have, because her constant story repetitions that serve no purpose other than to act as a cheap plot device for other, better plots have finally come to a close. No longer do we have to put her in all the promos as if she were one of the “housewives” despite contributing nothing to the series other than a plastic shell. Hell, she didn’t even feel like a housewife when she was, in all actuality, a wife this season to Creepy Dave.

Clearly, no one is all that moved by Edies death.

Clearly, no one is all that moved by Edie's death.

But the show isn’t done with her yet, at least not in this week’s episode, because for the first (and hopefully last) time, she takes over the Mary Alice role and became the narrator. As long as her mannish voice is gone next week, then I accept that this, an episode based solely on the housewives (plus Mrs. McClusky) reminiscing about Edie Britt. But if she sticks around in the ether, then I’ll be fucking pissed.

As the rest of the stories have been put completely on hold for the long van ride to Edie’s son’s boarding school, there isn’t really a whole lot to talk about. (Nope, no mention of Creepy Dave’s story, which directly caused Edie’s death.) Basically, Gaby and Edie had a very special night on the town that turned into a tender moment fueled by jealousy that Gaby got more free drinks at a bar than Edie did, Susan called out the new-to-the-neighborhood Edie for sleeping with a married man until Edie turned around and informed Susan of the terrible truth of Susan’s husband’s infidelity with another woman, Lynnette learned to battle cancer when Edie takes her to a biker bar (huh?), and Mrs. McClusky had a drink-fueled heart-to-heart with Edie about what it means to lose a child as opposed to giving one up.

The only memory I really and truly appreciated was Bree’s, which dealt with the years between last season and this season as it pertained to Orson’s incarceration. After being basically forced out of Wisteria Lane, Edie had taken to visiting Orson every so often in prison, not for sex but just because the prison was nearby and she needed a friend, and Bree was certainly not coming as often as she should…being Orson’s wife and all. The story filled in a couple emotional holes that seemed to positively gape when this flash-forward season started, so I’m glad that the writers took the time to at least address some Van De Kamp/Hodge drama.

There only five episodes left, so they’d better be nice and juicy.

…I can’t believe I just wrote “nice and juicy.” This is not good.

Over on Brothers & Sisters, everybody has sex on the brain (look at the episode’s title if you need help with that one), save for most of the children (thankfully offscreen) and the on-the-lam Tommy. (Although, technically, he is stranded in Mexico, so who’s to say Balthazar Getty is not getting some south-of-the-border va-hi-na or participating in a Double Indemnity-inspired murder plot concocted by Patricia Arquette twins.)

Let’s split this up into two sections.

Getting Laid

  • The newly reappointed-to-Ojai-Foods Sarah, who shares a quick office tryst with Cal the accountant/volunteer firefighter (Christián de la Fuente from Dancing with the Stars and…other stuff I don’t watch), only to find out the next day that he was a temp and she bought and wore that too-tight red dress for nothing.
  • …actually, she was the only one getting laid.

Not Getting Laid But Certainly Thinking About It

  • Kevin and Scotty, who are propositioned by Kevin’s closeted former lover Chad (Jason Lewis) to have a threesome with him, only to reject his very forward suggestion but still be hot-and-bothered enough to have a shirtless make-out session, only to be interrupted by the just-banged-by-a-temp Sarah. (Jason Lewis, after playing a model/actor on Sex and the City and a soap opera actor on House, stretches his performance abilities to play…an actor.)
  • Ryan The Missing Walker continuing to lust after Rebecca, despite making it so obvious in mixed company that Rebecca’s estranged father warns her of this creepy boy’s total creep factor.
  • Nora, who is suddenly revisited by architect Roger Grant, who has informed her that his open relationship with his London-based wife (a set-up that turned Nora off) has turned into no marriage at all, so now he only has eyes for her.
  • Kitty, who is watching her marriage completely fall apart (despite Robert’s affidavit, signed by his doctor, that his heart is finally okay enough to survive a bout of passionate lurrrrrvin’), is starting to really feel fondness for Alec the single father, who brings her treats at the playground their children use every day. Watch out, Kitty – his brother is a lawyer who can see the future via musical numbers (or however one is to describe Eli Stone’s “powers”).
  • Justin, who is trying to either find a way to restart his relationship with Rebecca or at least find closure, neither or which really happens.

Other than the knowledge that Tommy, despite having all charges dropped against him, still doesn’t want to come back to his family and relatives in the United States, not a whole lot of story progress was made this week, but it was definitely an entertaining way to come back to the Walker clan after several weeks off the air.

The Wife:

Hey, people who watch Desperate Housewives and stuff! Question! Is “Look Into Their Eyes and You’ll See What They Know” the first DH episode that draws it’s title from Sondheim lyrics rather than song titles? Because that song is “Ladies Who Lunch” from Company. Here! Watch the brilliant Anna Kendrick perform it in Camp!

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.13 “Orphan Earl”

In what is without question the best episode of Earl this season, it’s Christmastime in Camden, and inspired by the town mocking a traveling do-gooder hippie for building houses and raising money for much needed baby formula…

“What an idiot. The baby formula is man plus woman. Everyone knows that!” – Randy

…Earl takes it upon himself to tackle list item #201: Conned an old man out of 100 bucks.” Flashback to three years earlier, when Earl and Joy, while watching one of those Sally Struthers-type infomercials, get it into their heads that they can pull a major con on people by pretending to be representatives of a charity for starving African children. They only get one bite, an old man named Mr. Hill (Hal Landon Jr., Ted Preston’s father in one of my favorite films of all time, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), and get an easy $100 out of him.

You, too, can help this child finish spelling on his tee shirt.

You, too, can help this child finish spelling on his tee shirt.

Back in the present, Earl visits the man and discovers that the con didn’t end at the $100 – Joy has been scamming him this whole time, getting money for various new (and fake) charities such as Katrina relief and other such items to benefit the people who live in her trailer park. (My favorite touch is the picture of a “starving African child,” which is just her black son without a shirt on.) Earl knows that it’s his duty to retrieve all of the man’s money, but that takes a turn for the worse when Mr. Hill up and dies before he can change his will that declared that $280,000 of his assets were to go to the fake charities.

So what follows is a twisty, incredibly well-plotted back-and-forth where it turns out Earl fakes Mr. Hill’s death (giving him a free vacation), and then sneaks into the house to steal the will, gives a fake will to Randy for Joy to “steal” from him, tricks one of Joy’s friends into banging the will-writing lawyer (actually the hippie in disguise) for fake checks, and then finally getting all the money back to Mr. Hill.

When Earl and Mr. Hill visit the trailer park, though, they find that everyone there is living in terrible disarray, made worse by all the repo men coming and taking away the items Joy and her friends got through the con in the first place. Distraught that his charity money never actually went to any charity, Mr. Hill feels the Christmas spirit and gives his money back to the trailer park, for they are far needier than him. This inspires others to give in their own way (e.g. a buck or two with the Salvation Army Santa), and everything turns out a little bit better.

What worked in this episode was that no gimmicks were relied upon, characters acted in surprising ways, and it had a good moral without getting too treacley. I appreciated its complete lack of unnecessary guest stars, because even though I’ve seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure more than any other movie in my life (probably around 50 times), I still had to look up the guest actor’s name. The plot twists were also very well planned, and I never anticipated any of them. (Unlike the otherwise funny episode of 30 Rock this week, where I could have told you every twist of Liz Lemon’s plot from the moment they said “Letters From Santa.”)

The funniest part of the episode, though? The fact that Randy can’t enjoy the funnies in the newspapers, because his eyes follow the comic and then onto the next page, which is the obituary page, rendering every comic depressing.

The review of The Office will come some time this weekend. Such great material needs some ponderin’ time, dontcha know?

The Wife:

Kath & Kim 1.8: “Friends”

Kim, busy changing her MySpace status to single just to torture Craig, tells her mother and Phil that they are lame because they don’t have any friends and would rather spend time with each other and their brand new juicer than be social. Craig, seeing Kim’s status change, gets so upset that he actually cries for eight seconds, until his buddy Darryl convinces him that Kim’s just playing games with him. Like the good bro he is, Darryl takes Craig out drinking, which incites Craig to visit Kim’s house in the middle of the night. He drunkenly calls out to sleep-dead Kim, throwing rocks at her window to try and wake her so he can talk to her. Phil thinks that Craig is a robber and makes a fool of himself in an attempt to “scare” said robber away. Craig eventually leaves, just as Darryl is pulling out of the driveway, due to meddling from a nosy neighbor. Darryl almost hits Craig, which prompts Kim, gleefully, to drive her husband to sue his friend.

This is the most complicated, integrative plot I’ve seen so far on Kath & Kim so I have to give it props because it set up a pretty good episode. Not very funny (save for the ending), but for once, interesting to watch. From the robbery scare, Phil feels slightly emasculated and asks his mall cop friend for some self-defense lessons so he can protect his bride-to-be and his step-daughter should an actual robbery ever occur. Kath gets introduced to the cop’s wife, and the two ladies hit it off. Kath invites their new friends to a holiday party, per Kim’s suggestion that they get a life. With only their new couple friends, their nosy neighbor and Tina’s giant head of hair as guests, Kim and Craig think the party is super lame and want to leave. Tina tells them about the Circuit Surplus party, and Craig admits that, because he’s suing Darryl, his coworkers have uninvited him from their party. When a party bus of mall workers shows up to crash Kath and Phil’s party, Tina, Craig and Kim sneak out to try their chances at the Circuit Surplus party.

Oooh, yay! Now we get to wear festive holiday bows!

Oooh, yay! Now we get to wear festive holiday bows!

Once there, Tina hits on Darryl, who won’t let Kim and Craig attend the party. As Kim pulls out of the parking lot, Darryl takes his revenge by sticking his foot under her tire and threatening to sue. He agrees that he won’t sue if Craig doesn’t, and both parties drop the charges. Instead, they all head to the Circuit Surplus party to watch Tina make out with dudes dressed as Santa Claus. Left with only their new couple friends, Kath and Phil enjoy the holidays in a slightly quieter fashion. The couples enjoy their horrible Christmas sweaters and tell corny jokes to one another. Finally, the mall cop admits that he and his wife like Kath and Phil so much that they should all have sex together, Tom and Trina Decker style. This freaks out Phil and Kath so much that they immediately break their friendship with the couple and return to their juicer.

I am jealous at the high quality of tacky holiday sweaters featured in this episode. They put my black one with bejeweled Christmas trees to shame. Having the couple that’s just like Kath and Phil turn out to be swingers was a nice surprise – the actors actually made this pretty funny by pawing and clawing at John Michael Higgins and Molly Shannon like zombies hungry for brains. As for the rest of the episode, I am impressed with the structure and complexity of these integrated plots. Next time, let’s take this formula and make it funny, shall we?

30 Rock 3.6: “Christmas Special”

Filled with the holiday spirit, Liz Lemon signs up her writers to fulfill wishlists for poor kids who write to Santa through the US Postal Service’s Letters to Santa program. Because she is childless and doesn’t have her own family at age 38, her parents disinvite her from their holiday festivities, fueling Liz’s drive to make some poor kids happy. Jack, on the other hand, plans to spend Christmas in Rio. (Dear Gods of Television, Stage and Screen: Why do all wealthy business people like to spend so much time in Rio?) To facilitate this, he heads down to Florida early to spend some time with his mother, Colleen (Elaine Stritch). Everything goes swimmingly for Jack, until he accidentally hits his mom with his car, breaking the “Cartier” watch her bought her for Christmas and her hip.

“She’s fine. She’s better than fine. They’re giving her a titanium hip. Like the Terminator. Soon she’ll be more powerful than ever.” – Jack

Due to her need for constant care, Colleen is forced to stay with Jack, which drives him insane. Especially because he has to live with the guilt that he actually waited a full eight minutes before calling 911 for his mother. Liz defends Jack’s hesitance to call as shock and sets out to personally deliver the holiday gifts she bought for her poor kids. Upon hearing the neighborhood, Tracy tells Liz that she can’t go alone and that he, Grizz and DotCom will escort her there. When they arrive, two men open the door and pull the presents inside with nary a word of thanks or even a hello. Flabbergasted at this nonresponse, Tracy tells Liz that he believes she’s been scammed. More accurately:

“What’s the past tense of scam? Scrump? Liz Lemon, I think you just got scrumpt!” – Tracy Jordan

Scammed, Tracy. I think the word is scammed.

Scammed, Tracy. I think the word is scammed.

In an attempt to get away from his overbearing mother, who needs even more care that Jack has accidentally broken her other hip trying to draw a blanket out from under her like a magician pulling a tablecloth off without moving any objects, he forces the cast and crew of TGS to put on a live Christmas special, even if he has to pay them quadruple overtime. (Note to Jack: Judging from the blanket trick, Celebracadabra is not for you. Hal Sparks and C. Thomas Howell will totally own your ass.) Upset about the scam, Liz goes to the Post Office to try and sort things out to no avail. She asks Jack if he by chance he knows the Post Master General, to which he responds that they were once close, but had a falling out over a Jerry Garcia stamp.

“If I wanted to lick a hippie, I would have returned Joan Baez’s phone calls.” – Jack

With everyone working so hard on the Christmas Special, Jack thinks he has escaped Colleen’s clutches, until she shows up in her wheelchair, dressed like a tiny, old female FDR, and accuses her son of waiting 8 minutes to call 911. She presents him with the evidence: his call log from his cell phone, the watch he broke (on which he reset the time) and a flashcard demonstrating that “16-8=8.”

“Numbers, unlike children, don’t lie.” – Colleen Donaghey

Elaine Stritch, congratulations for making me jealous of this outfit. Now that Bettie Page and Nina Foch have left us, you are the hottest old lady in my book.

Elaine Stritch, congratulations for making me jealous of this outfit. Now that Bettie Page and Nina Foch have left us, you are the hottest old lady in my book.

Kenneth simply cannot believe that Liz got scammed, and so he heads uptown with her and Tracy to prove her wrong. (Grizz and DotCom had a prior commitment to go skating together at Rockefeller Rink and wouldn’t attend because their therapist told them to set boundaries.) This time when the apartment door opens, Liz is greeted by two children. Overjoyed, she asks them if they got their presents and liked them. She then tells them that she made it happen, which causes the boys to cry out to their guardians that the white lady at the door told them there’s no Santa Claus. The guardians tell Liz that she’s insane for telling children there’s no Santa. In short, Liz Lemon ruins Christmas.

“I’m trying to make a Christmas special that makes It’s a Wonderful Life look like Pulp Fiction.” – Jack

Back at 30Rock, Jack is losing himself in the Christmas special, trying to make everything perfect. He becomes extremely irate when someone tells him that they can’t run the Mrs. Claus sketch where Jenna (as Mrs. Claus), sings sultry piano ballads for the menfolk while taking off her stockings and hanging them by the fire. This is a part of Christmas that everyone knows, Jack insists, because his mother did this every year for whichever boyfriend she had at the time. Liz tells him that this actually isn’t a Christmas tradition at all and that Colleen was a Christmas whore in order to buy Jack and his siblings presents, knowing the meager circumstances whence Jack was raised. Every year, Jack admits, he had more than enough presents, especially the year that his mom dated F.A.O. Schwartz. In the end, Tracy invites his family to Liz Lemon’s for Christmas so she won’t be lonely and Jack apologizes to his mother and tells him he loves her. As Jenna sings “The Christmas Song” onstage, Jack and his mother are suddenly transported to a piano, where they continue Jenna’s tune.

For me, the best part of this episode was definitely that ending, seeing Broadway veterans Jane Krakowski and Elaine Stritch sing delightful Christmas tunes. Elaine Stritch is not that much of a singer, but she is famous for her role in Sondheim’s Company, where her character gets to belt out “Ladies Who Lunch,” a song that can certainly be performed by what Sondheim calls a disseuse (a talk-singer). “The Christmas Song” definitely works well for that kind of style, where the sentiment is sold in the performance rather than the high notes (just like “Ladies Who Lunch”). And man, Jack and Colleen putting aside their differences to relive a little bit of the Christmas whoring from Jack’s youth, that definitely hit me in a soft spot. When I’m that old, I want to look just as good in a lady-FDR outfit and a Mrs. Claus get-up.

The Husband:

So Desperate Housewives is good again. All is not forgiven for the problematic season so far, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of a doubt for quite some time. This was the last episode before the winter break, and while it didn’t have a big Lost-like cliffhanger to tide us over, it definitely gave us a great ending point for a lot of the characters as well as one very big answer re: Creepy Dave. We were also given a Solis storyline that wasn’t completely obnoxious, shallow and nonsensical, which at this point is a godsend.

Susan: Susan and Mike’s young son M.J. is having problems with Mike’s new relationship with Katherine Mayfair, so he begins acting out by throwing sundaes at Katherine’s head and dropping bowling balls on her feet. We begin to see bits and pieces of Susan and Mike’s mutual love come back into focus, because despite how much I like Katherine as a character (even with her being completely neutered emotionally this season), Susan and Mike are meant for each other. It’s too bad that Jackson couldn’t be around to make the relationship that much more complicated, but actor Gale Harold was still in the hospital recovering from his motorcycle accident at the time this episode was filmed.

Bree: Having discovered that Orson’s plastic surgeon was dating their gay son Andrew, Bree tries to make advances in accepting her son’s lifestyle choices by having them both over for dinner, also invited their friendly neighborhood gay couple (two characters I like who still have absolutely nothing to do on this show but be catty, sort of like young Mrs. McCluskys). Through them, Bree finds out that Andrew’s new partner starred in a gay adult film called Rear Deployment, but also that Andrew already knew about it (I mean, he was a homeless gigolo for a time, so who is he to judge?) and that the two of them are fine. For once, Bree and Andrew become close, even if it’s over gay porn.

Ive seen you! In a gay porn I watched in prison!

I've seen you! In a gay porn I watched in prison! (And yes, we know this picture is an anachronism, as it is pre-flashforward . . . but ABC failed this week at giving us new pics.)

Gaby: Now that Carlos is finally (but slowly) regaining his sight, Gaby has to come clean with the fact that she has sold some of Carlos’ most valuable items from under his nose (and blind eyes), including his very cherished baseball signed by none other than Lou Gherig. She has the option to retrieve the ball from the Italian collector she sold it to, but only if she…dances for him. Refusing to comply, she comes home empty-handed to find Carlos, with full sight, embraces his children. Carlos is fine with missing many of the items they previously owned (including a painting they bought in Greece), but when he finds out that the baseball (a three-generation Solis family treasure), he proclaims that it’s the one thing he needs. As Gaby gets the ball back, Carlos looks in her closet and realizes how much of her clothes and jewelry she had to sell in order to pay for their life, their children and their house (as my wife points out, how about not living in such an expensive house?), so he buys her a fabulous new dress (which is actually very ugly, but whatever) and says that they will be able to make their lives work again. (What, so you mean Gaby can finally start looking for an actual job? As my wife also pointed out, Susan would probably be very willing to look after the children while Gaby sits behind a desk as an administrative assistant or a temp, which she could absolutely do despite her lack of on-the-job skills.)

Lynette: Oh, Lynette, how can such a nice person and great mother have so much tragedy in her life? As per Creepy Dave’s false report to the police, Porter is arrested for setting fire to the nightclub even though he didn’t do it, so he fesses up to Lynette about the gun he was stealing at the time (his so-so alibi) so she can take the gun and slyly put it back in Edie’s house before anyone notices. They somehow make bail for Porter (I don’t remember them showing us how, because minutes earlier we found that the Scavo’s emergency fund was what Lynette drained in order to get Porter’s lover out of town and no mention was made of putting up the house or restaurant as collateral to a bail bondsman), only to be tricked when Porter leaves town and identical twin Preston takes his place at the arraignment. I understand that Porter and Preston are virtually inseparable and they have nothing but love for each other, but it’s hard to believe that he would risk jail to protect his twin.

Creepy Dave: Answers! As Creepy Dave is haunted by visions of a mother and her young daughter, we finally see him at their gravesite vowing revenge on those that took them away from him – Mike Delfino! So, it’s been obvious from the start and we’ve just been the victim of several red herrings. Now we have the entire second half of the season to see Creepy Dave really get down and dirty with his vengeance.

On a fun note, I found out through a story on TV Squad that a good deal of people still didn’t realize that DH episode titles were named after Sondheim songs, so I thought I’d go through the titles so far this season and see if I can name the musical from which they come without checking. They’ve become more obscure over the seasons, so this may be tough. I’ll note it when I fail.

  • “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow” (Sondheim revue)
  • “We’re So Happy You’re So Happy” (Into The Woods)
  • “Kids Ain’t Like Everybody Else” (cut song from West Side Story. FAIL. Honestly, how would I know that one?)
  • “Back In Business” (Dick Tracy. Yeah, caught that one, foo. Shazam!)
  • “Mirror, Mirror” (Follies. FAIL. I am woefully unfamiliar with Follies.)
  • “There’s Always A Woman” (Anyone Can Whistle. FAIL. Ouch.)
  • “What More Do I Need?” (Saturday Night. FAIL. Wow, haven’t even heard of that one. This is brutal.)
  • “City On Fire” (Sweeney Todd. Easy.)
  • “Me And My Town” (Anyone Can Whistle. FAIL. I only know one song from the show and neither of the ones here are it, because it was already used before.)
  • “A Vision’s Just A Vision” (Putting It Together. I FAILED but my wife caught it pretty quickly using her unfortunate knowledge of Streisand recordings.)

Yeah, the titles are getting way tougher. Damn. Give me something easy like “Something’s Coming,” “Bang” “Free,” “Hello, Little Girl” or “You’ll Never Get Away From Me.”

Over on Brothers & Sisters, it seems somebody really made a boo-boo in scheduling the show, as we finally get a two-weeks-late Thanksgiving episode. (The rule is that it has to be before Thanksgiving Thursday. That’s just how it is.) It’s a shame, too, because last night was a really great episode that honestly could have been shifted earlier in the show’s schedule, Filming and editing aside – they still probably could have had it ready – this was a very unserialized episode of B&S, and aside from one mention of Kitty’s recent adoption going through and Tommy finally apologizing to Kevin for firing him, it could have easily been aired two weeks ago. To be fair, I don’t know what’s coming next when the show returns, but some clever editing could have done the trick.

Whatever. It’s still a great episode. Everything at the Walker household seems to be going crazy because this was the year that every single one of the Walker kids chose to have their Thanksgivings elsewhere, much to Nora’s dismay.

(For anyone who wanted to see a sequence that defines this show as a joy to watch, every single moment of the cold opening was a well-acted, well-written and well-staged treat. The Onion’s online AV Club made up a term for the Fringe cold openings – Freak Meets – so perhaps B&S deserves one, too. Perhaps Walker Clusterfucks. I don’t know. I’ll work on it.)

Unfortunately, Tommy’s two-year-old daughter Elizabeth begins vomiting blood due to a kidney problem (which killed Elizabeth’s twin early in its premature life), so now the family must converge on the hospital to figure everything out. I skipped out on watching the second half of season 1 of this show right after Justin’s court battle with the Army (a decision I now regret), because I was completely unaware that Tommy could not get Julia pregnant, and so both Kevin and Justin donated their sperm to Julia. It was never revealed which donor’s sperm took, so they were both potential fathers, but now that Elizabeth needs a small bit of a Type-O kidney to be transplanted into her, they must to genetic testing to find out who the true father is.

A hospital Thanksgiving for the Walker family.

A hospital Thanksgiving for the Walker family.

After much soul searching and revisiting of old wounds, we find out that Kevin is the father (see? Gay men can have children, you assholes) and he must go under the knife for a potentially dangerous surgery. Everything turns out fine, though, and Nora decides to bring the Thanksgiving dinner she slaved over (despite only being able to originally have the dinner with Sarah) to the hospital, complete with a bottle of sparkling cider that’s actually hiding alcohol.

I am so glad that the underused Tommy finally got his own story, one that really opened up his hard, cold exterior that have had so many fans complaining about his continued existence on the show. Balthazar Getty is a good actor, though (especially in the freaky-deaky Lost Highway), so it’s nice to see a non-mean side of him here finally resurface. Let’s give him more to do, shall we, writers?

The Wife:

Ordinarily, I don’t read anyone else’s posts about a television show before writing my own thoughts. But given that I ran a day behind on Fringe this week due to the unfettered glory that is the So You Think You Can Dance Tour (complete with menacing giant dancing Snuggle bear!) that took place in Oakland on Tuesday night, and that I was pretty tired by the time I did get around to Fringe yesterday, I broke my rule a little bit. I thought perhaps I had missed something in this episode, as it didn’t really seem like anything was solved or answered like the previous three episodes had lead me to believe would happen. I thought maybe I faded into sleep for a second and missed something crucial, but so far, all sources agree: really weird shit happened on Fringe this week that totally broke the formula and also totally fucked our minds. Good to know it’s not just me.

But that’s probably what I should have expected when my husband told me that the Great Glorious Mindfucker J.J. Abrams wrote this episode. That’s his official title, by the way.

“The Arrival” opened with a spooky bald man enjoying a meal of “raw roast beef” with 11 jalapenos on the side at a Brooklyn diner as he surveys a nearby construction site. As he wolfs down his jalapeno and raw meatwich (which he covers in pepper, to boot) without chewing, he takes detailed notes in some unidentifiable language that we can only be certain isn’t Korean and keeps peeping at the construction site through the sexiest binoculars I’ve ever seen. As the crane at the construction site collapses, the mystery baldie calmly drinks a glass of water before walking over to the site to survey the damage, whereupon looking at the crater caused by the collapsed crane he declares, “It has arrived.”

Observe my love on condiments!

Observe my love of condiments!

The actor inhabiting the role of the aptly named “The Observer” is Broadway veteran and Sondheim mainstay Michael Cerveris, who revived the role of Sweeney Todd in 2006 and won a Tony Award in 2004 for his role as John Wilkes Booth in Sondheim’s Assassins. Back in 1998, he played the dual role of Hedwig/Tommy Gnosis in John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch off-Broadway. This, for those of you who aren’t as theatrically well-versed, makes him totally and completely awesome. I am glad to have him on Fringe in what I hope will be an oft-recurring role. (But maybe not too often. He’s currently working on the next John Doyle directed Sondheim project in the Fall: Road Show.)

Back in Boston, Walter keeps mumbling the formulas for root beer and other favorite beverages, driving his son to question, yet again, what his purpose is in all of this. Peter feels he is unnecessary, only a babysitter for his father, and despite her best attempts, Olivia cannot quell his feelings of uselessness. I think we have to remember that part of Peter’s drive to detach himself from the Dunham-Bishop Fringe Investigation Society is that he needs to get a head start on the various debt collectors who are after him. Being stuck in one place for too long is potentially very bad for Peter’s physical being.

The object that arrived at the construction site caused a gas leak to fully rupture and therefore destroy whatever was sitting a top it. This object appears to be some kind of burrowing egg phallus, another of which showed up in 1987 – as did The Observer. The burrowing egg phallus emits vibrations at 2MHz, and then 4MHz, transmitting some kind of unbreakable code signal. In 1987 when it appeared, it exploded after two days. Downward. As in, into the Earth.

“I sure hope that a gigantic metallic suppository is not the pinnacle of human existence.” –Peter Bishop

Some thug shows up with the most incredible blaster ray in the world, knocking people flat on their asses with a blast of light. Seriously, this thing is better than photon torpedoes. Presumably, he is after the mysterious object, but needs to kill a lot of people in the process of finding it.

Olivia, meanwhile, receives a late night call from Agent Scott, although the call cannot officially be traced. But that when you’re a reanimated evil FBI agent, you can do things like that. Make calls that can’t be traced from beyond the normal realm of the living.

As usual, Walter Bishop has apparently done prior work with this mystery object, The Beacon, back in the day when he was working on subterranean missiles. When the location of The Beacon is compromised, Walter must move it to a secure location, so secure that not even Astrid can know about it, which is why he loads her up with sedatives.

Then someone gets tortured, and The Observer watches Walter drink a root beer float. (Can you tell that this is the point where I started getting really tired and wondered if I was missing things?)

Peter tries to escape Boston, but is apprehended by the thug with the awesome gun who likes to shove wires up people’s noses to read their brainwaves. Or something. Through his process, he immediately discovers the origins of The Beacon – something Peter could not have possibly known because Walter told no one where he had hidden it. (By the way, it’s buried under the gravestone of Robert Bishop, whom I presume is a distant relative of our Bishop Boys. That’s not the smartest place, Walter. A good detective would have figured that one out soon enough.) In the graveyard, Dunham fights the thug with the awesome gun, and The Observer can apparently recite Peter’s thoughts word for word, which is a very handy skill that he undoubtedly picked up after years of working on Broadway. All the fighting is for naught, though, because the beacon burrows deep into the Earth and disappears, thus “departing on schedule.”

After this spooky mind reading encounter, Peter is reborn as a believer in The Pattern and decides to stay. He is rewarded with credentials, making him an official part of the team. Walter’s only explanation as to why Peter knew the location of The Beacon is simply this: “You know it, son, because I know it.” The elder Bishop then reveals that the two survived a car crash, but that Walter did not save Peter. Both Bishops were technically dead, until they were saved by the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, er, The Observer. Somehow, Walter knew he needed to save The Beacon so that it would stay on course with The Observer, a likely vestige of the psychic connection the Bishops and The Observer formed when he saved them from death. This, I think, may answer a question or two about Peter’s spotty medical record, considering he was dead and all. I still can’t be sure that he isn’t a magical man baby or a clone of his father, though.

In other news, Olivia likes to eat Scotch and cereal for dinner, at least until interrupted by former lovers that she thought were dead.

Thank you, Great Glorious Mindfucker J.J. Abrams for that delicious mindfuck. My brain hurts a little bit.

Also: Frog, Butterfly, Leaf, Hand, Apple