Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dexter - The Getaway, or Seriously, When Does Next Season Start?

We start right where we left off last episode, with Arthur and Dexter having an epic showdown in the homicide department. He leaves, after threatening Dexter's family if he doesn't leave him alone, and Dex follows in hot pursuit. He corners Arthur in a parking garage and injects his magic sleeping potion. Unfortunately, he can't complete the kill, because the law has caught up to Dexter for careening into a car and snapping off one of its side mirrors. Dexter hides the massive piles of cash that Arthur has on him, as well as his keys and wallet. Dexter does not keep his cool with the sheriff's department, and is jailed for fleeing the scene of a crime.

Rita picks him up and is strangely okay with the whole thing. They decide to reconnect and have the honeymoon they never got to have. This works out well for Dexter, since he knows that Arthur is tracking him. The safest place for his family to be is not at their house.

Arthur then off to find Dexter's home address, but is foiled by bad record keeping in the post office when he goes to Deborah's apartment, which is still under Dexter's name. He then goes home and takes all his family's valuables hoping to flee while he still has a chance.

At the police department, they've figured out the ruse of the truck driver, and are able to nail down that the real killer is Arthur based on the testimony of the little boy who survived his abduction. A full commando swat team descends on Arthur's house while Dexter is questioning the family as to Arthur's whereabouts. The police cart the family away.

Deb also has some news for Dexter. She's been snooping around their dad's past and found out that Ms. Laura Moser was one of Harry's paramours. She also found out that, at the time of her death, Laura was survived by her two sons, Dexter and Brian. Deb knows that Brian was the ice truck killer, and figures out Dexter's true origins. She breaks the news to Dexter, and he does a convincing job of pretending not to know.

Dexter then descends into a pit of self-pity and worry for his family's safety, being that he's a serial killer and all. He doesn't want them to end up like the Mitchells, terrorized by their father and appalled when they find out the truth. But it's different! His family loves him, and he's not a jerk!

So, Arthur has definitely skipped town in his vintage Mustang, which he recently had repainted black. He rides off into the sunset with the police left scratching their heads. Will he get away with it all? NO! It's Dexter the Vigilante to the rescue. He'd somehow secreted himself into the backseat/trunk (it's unclear) of the tiny convertible and engineering a breakdown from said hiding spot. Dexter is magic, apparently.

And now, finally, FINALLY, Dexter can get to the business of taking care of Trinity once and for all. They have a heartfelt chat about the life of a serial killer, with Arthur repeating over and over "It's already done." Yeah, it's done...FOR YOU! Dexter kills him with the same hammer he used to kill that dude in the office building, just for old time's sake. He dumps the body, and is filled with a heretofore unknown sense of serenity, content that his family is safe and sound in the Florida Keys, and looking forward to joining them.

When he gets back to the house, he gets a message from Rita that she forgot her ID and had to catch a later flight. Oh well. He gives her a ring, but her cell phone and purse and sitting on the kitchen counter. Then, he hears Harrison cry. He follows the sound into the bathroom to find Harrison sitting on the floor, yowling and covered in blood. Rita has been killed in the bathtub, in the ritual way of all the young women Trinity kills.

So, wait, what? What's the chronology on this? Trinity leaves his house, goes to get his convertible, makes a pit stop at Dex's house (how did he find out it was his house if he was still listed at his apartment??), then rides off into the sunset (but not really)? Or was it SOMEONE ELSE?! Well, those questions, as important as they are, are now moot points. Dexter is now the sole custodian of three children, something that will certainly preclude his "working late" and "spending the night at the office". These kids need him, not some of the time, not when he's not dealing with the dark passenger, but always. At the end of the episode, before the Rita reveal, Dexter hoped and wished that his dark passenger would soon leave him free to a normal family life. Will he be able to repress it for his children's sake? Will he want to? So many questions! I want to know what happens! When is the next season?! So much excitement, but so much waiting.

Dexter - Hello, Dexter Morgan, or Multiple Choice

First off, I want to let everyone know that I am filled with sadness today. My long-awaited, yearly two-week trip home has been brutally shortened by the DC phenomenon known as Thundersnow or DC Snowpacolypse. I was supposed to make my triumphant return to the home land today, but weather said NO. So, I have until Tuesday to sit around, play some Wii, and, of course, cover the latest TV escapades. Speaking of which - Dexter!

Things are getting crazy for our man Dex after he found Arthur trying to pull a Han Solo on that poor little kid. Arthur tries to track him down, or track Kyle Butler down, and give him the old what for. The old what for in this case is, of course, murder.

The detectives, meanwhile, interrogate old Christine about her relationship to Trinity, and she stonewalls. She is really devoted to her awful father, apparently. Dexter sees how close they are to finding Arthur, so decides to throw them off the trail by framing a trucker with a history of killing prostitutes. He finds him, murders him, and plants Arthur's DNA (handily stolen from the Mitchell household) all over the trucker's house.

Arthur has also been calling Dex, trying to figure out who he really is, and Dexter turns it around, saying he'll go to the police with the fact that Arthur is a pedophile (not actually true) if Arthur doesn't give him $50,000. Of course, Dexter doesn't really want the money - he wants Arthur's blood.

Christine is released from the station, since they don't charge her, and she frantically calls Arthur, looking for help and guidance. Arthur tells her to never call again (Father of the Year!) and Christine is distraught. She calls Deb over, confesses to killing Lundy and injuring her, then shoots herself. Yikes.

Dexter is trying to catch Arthur in an amusement park (no doubt trying to abduct another little boy), but when Deb calls him away, Arthur sees him and follows him back to the police station! After some detective work of his own, Arthur figures out that Dex is in the homicide division, and wanders up there with a stolen visitors' pass. He meanders into the Trinity room, where all his victims' pictures are laid before him. Arthur laughs maniacally.

Let's pause for a second. Imagine you are a police officer in Miami. You see a strange man who fits the exact profile of the Trinity killer (based on the DNA evidence gathered) laughing maniacally while surveying all the evidence. Do you:

A) alert the head of homicide while subtly blocking all exits

B) walk into the room and inquire what exactly this dude is doing

C) stroll casually by and not take any action

Apparently, Miami Metro protocol is C, because no one did ANYTHING. Eventually, Dexter catches sight of Arthur, and they have a confrontation in the middle of the homicide room. Again, there are several things Dexter could have done in this situation, but his motivations for not doing them are clear. If Arthur is accused within the frames of the law, Dexter cannot exact his justice, and there's a chance Arthur will get away with his crimes. So, paradoxically, it's better for Dexter to protect Arthur from the long arm of the law. Anyhow, they meet in the middle of the homicide area, Arthur reads Dex's badge, and the last line of the episode is, of course, "Hello, Dexter Morgan." The end!

And now we're all set for the finale - all the pieces are set in motion, everyone's secrets have been revealed. Oh, and Angel and LaGuerda are married now, as if you cared. Next up: finally killing Trinity? Let's hope so - because somebody is going down in this battle, and if it's Dex, this show will become a whole lot less watchable.

Monday, December 14, 2009

30 Rock - Secret Santa, or Why Is YouFace Not a Real Thing?

It's Christmas at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and the hi-jinks have a bittersweet aftertaste this week. Kenneth, full of Christmas cheer, tries to organize an insanely complicated Secret Santa Fun Swap, much to the dismay of Frank, Toofer, and Lutz. To get out of it, they make up an equally complicated religion that precludes their inclusion in Secret Santa.

Meanwhile, Jack is reconnecting with friends on the cool new social networking site YouFace, and his first crush fingertaps him to say she's in town for the weekend. With a relationship status of "weirdsies", Jack figures he has a shot at his long-lost love, who turns out to be Julianne Moore sporting a wicked awesome Boston accent. Sounding like she just left the caahhh ovehh at Hahhvahhd yahhd, she and Jack reconnect over their shared past.

Liz has decided that she wants to exchange gifts with Jack this year, and finds out from Jonathan that Jack is a notoriously amazing gift-giver, probing deep into your soul to grant you your greatest wish. Someone, the portrayal of Jack as a modern day Santa doesn't jibe with his character, but I'll let it slide. Liz becomes increasingly anxious about what she'll find for Jack, so they agree on exchanging gifts without monetary value.

Kenneth, of course, has fallen completely for Frank, Lutz, and Toofer's fake religion, catering to their every religious need, especially free sausage pizza. Tracey breaks it to Kenneth that it was all fake, which shakes Kenneth's belief in all organized religion.

Jack and Nancy (Julianne Moore) have a wonderful evening together, and, after some tutoring in the ways of social networking from Suri, he decides to take her out for dinner. They have a wonderful time, but she has to return home with her boys and her husband. They share a chaste goodbye, and Jack bemoans what may have been.

At the taping of the TGS Christmas special, Jack presents Liz with a framed ticket of a high school, gender-neutral production of The Crucible, in which she played John Proctor. Liz doesn't have anything for Jack...or does she? It turns out that Nancy's train was cancelled, and after being stuck in New York, gives Jack the goodbye he deserves. And why was it cancelled? Because someone called in a bomb threat. It's a Christmas miracle!

Liz's illegal actions make another's Christmas more merry, since Frank, Toofer, and Lutz are arrested in her place (Liz dialed from their phone). Because they've been punished for their lies, Kenneth once again believes there is a vengeful God out there waiting to judge us for our sins. Christmas is saved!

The most important part of this episode is, by far, YouFace. I really enjoyed the elaborate and ridiculous vocabulary assigned to the social network, and as part of the first generation of Facebook, I feel similarly out of touch with the young kids and their new-fangled contraptions, while still in enough to get the references. Here's a tip, 30 Rock: if you put out a YouFace beta right now, you'll be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Here's hopin'!

The Office - Secret Santa, or How Michael Stole Christmas

It's Christmas time at Dunder Mifflin, and, despite looming bankruptcy, the gang decides to take an afternoon off and have a Christmas party! Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Phyllis steps into the role of Santa Claus, showing that anything a man can do, Phyllis can do better. Michael, however, decides to spoil Phyllis's feminist joy by insisting that he's the real Santa Claus. Jim eventually persuades him to put the choice to a vote, and the office overwhelmingly goes for Progressive Santa Phyllis.

In retaliation, Michael dresses up as Sulky Jesus, who ruins all the Secret Santa gifts, including revealing Andy as Erin's mysterious gift-giver. That would be fine, except Andy went characteristically over the top and gave Erin all the items described in the 12 Days of Christmas. Needless to say, having 30 birds in your house is not as nice as the song, and Erin was really upset. After being banished by Jim, Michael calls David Wallace to whine. Instead of the comforting news that he could be Santa again - "She uslurped my position!" he cries - Michael finds out that Dunder Mifflin has a buyer, and that they're going to clean house after the takeover. The entire board will be out on the streets, and no one knows what's in store for the other employees.

Michael spills the beans, of course, and everyone is aghast. They manage to get David back on the phone, who reveals that it's only executives getting the can, and the new company bought Dunder Mifflin only for the distribution. Everyone at Scranton is safe! It's a Christmas miracle! Hooray! The enjoy the rest of the party, and Andy redeems himself with a private drum line serenade for Erin (12 drummers drumming, get it?).

Michael was obnoxious, but it was a nice Christmas episode. It managed to be uplifting and advance the plot, which is a nice combo. But who's the new company? Will this be another merger situation, where Michael systematically runs out new employees? Most importantly, what will the new office name be? Let's hope The Office kicks off the new year with more hilarity, less Michael ruining things, and of course, the Halpert baby!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Office - Scott's Tots, or Michael Scott: Life Ruiner

I knew almost immediately that I would detest this episode. For reasons previously mentioned, the sight of Michael Scott systematically ruining lives does very little for my funny bone. Watching those sweet kids get all worked up about their free college tuition broke my heart. But, thank goodness, Michael got his comeuppance and couldn't avoid telling the kids the truth. They, of course, were outraged and appalled, and Michael felt serious guilt. Good! After trying to buy their sympathies with laptop batteries, Michael finally gives in and agrees to pay one of the kid's book fees for the four years of college. Well, it's something.

On the way back, Erin tries to console him with the high graduation rate of the class, and that these kids now have a better shot than they would have without Michael's false promise. Even Michael realizes how little this makes up for his huge transgression, and shuts her down. But, they share a strange moment of closeness where Michael vaguely agrees to give her a raise because he has a "feeling" about her. And who else has he had a "feeling" about? None other than Kevin Malone, ladies and gentlemen. And we all know how well that worked out.

Meanwhile, Dwight has a multi-step plan engineered to get Jim fired that revolves around an Employee of the Month award. To Dwight's credit, he really makes things tough for Jim, rigging it so that Jim unknowingly picks himself as the winner, collecting money for a cash prize, and doing eerily precise imitations of his co-workers on the phone to David Wallace. Unfortunately for Dwight, the whole plan backfires to due David and Jim's newly close relationship. At the end of the episode, when all looks lost, Ryan outs himself as a fellow Jim hater, and Ryan joins Dwight's diabolical plan to get rid of Jim. Duh, duh, duuuh!

So, not only did Michael (self-admittedly, even!) ruin lives, Jim looked back. It was a tough episode for those of us who dislike both situations on The Office, but gratifying to see Michael get his just desserts. And, of course, to see Jim finagle his way out of another managerial disaster. At some point, however, we're all going to have to face up to the fact that Jim just isn't great as co-manager, and that will truly be a sad day for all. Until then, like the hijinks ensue!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

30 Rock - Dealbreakers Talk Show No. 001, or Liz the Hag

Well, there's nothing like pressure to make a good thing go bad. It's finally time to start taping Dealbreakers when Jack gets a threatening call from one Devin Banks. If NBC loses any money on Dealbreakers, the show will be over for Jack. So, in a frenzy to prepare, he criticizes everything about Liz: her glasses, her clothes, her smiles. Pretty much everything except her hair, which is fine. How can they trust her to perform? "She's a writer with zero performance experience!" Jack exclaims. Of course, this whole episode is a riff on the real Liz Lemon's foray into acting on Saturday Night Live. Unfortunately, it looks like Tina Fey's alter-ego will have a more difficult time.

While Liz is gone, she arranges for Frank to assume control of TGS. Frank unhinges, starts nagging, wearing cardigans and glasses, and turns into Liz. But, the Liz he's becoming is no longer the Liz we know.

After getting a terrible haircut and faulty lasik surgery, we see a painful scene of Liz shooting the opening credits for her show. She's unimaginably stiff and unlikeable, and Pete has to constantly coach her into acting normal. "Now wave!" he shouts from behind the camera. "Like a human!" he has to clarify. The worst comes when Liz steps in front of the high definition camera, which makes her look...let's say, not great. (A quick and delightful sight gag if you missed it - when Jack stepped in front of the camera, it showed him during his Hunt for Red October days - the camera is sure good to him!) Even though both Jack and Pete console Liz and tell her she's doing a wonderful job, she collapses and locks herself into her dressing room. Suddenly, Liz has become another neurotic actress like Jenna.

Jack succeeds in taking the door off its hinges and getting to Liz, who's in the middle of a psychotic breakdown. She's developed a whole other personality, Performer Liz, who threatens to take control and usurp the kind, warm Liz we all know and love. Writer Liz wins the day, but Dealbreakers is over. Luckily, it wasn't a complete loss, as Jack was able to sell the opening credit footage to Sheinhart Wig to use as TV footage in the background of all their soap operas. So, anytime anyone on those program is watching TV, Liz will be there. Plus, it has the added benefit of keeping Devin on Jack's back for another day.

The B-line this week was Tracy trying to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony, after seeing a piece of bling with the word EGOT. His crack team of researchers (Kenneth, Dot Com, and Griz) find out that most EGOT winners are composers, so Tracy sets out to write the perfect song. It fails, of course, but Tracy gets some life lessons from EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg on how to succeed. Her advice is that it has to come from your heart. Aaaahh, heartwearming.

Overall, it was a cute gimmick having Liz move into the performance world just as Tina did, and it was definitely foreshadowed with all the impending noise about the talk show. Of course, it would be far less hilarious if Liz succeeded as brilliantly as Tina has, so some missteps were definitely in order. It's still upsetting, though, to see Liz constantly portrayed as an ugly hag (see: high definition camera gag), even though she's absolutely gorgeous. I suppose I can suspend my disbelief, but please, Tina/Liz, let's have an episode where everyone realizes that you're a smokin' hot babe. Thanks.

V – It’s Only the Beginning, or Welcome Back, Wacky Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories!

Continuing its experimentation with different cinematic styles, this week’s V starts with a cliffhanger, which could have been really cool, had it not been a total letdown. *Sigh* We see Ryan ominously pointing a gun at Erica, who looks completely baffled while cradling Georgie’s bloody body. End scene. A black screen then directs back to 14 hours earlier, where we will hopefully figure out how we got to this craziness.

Through another Scott Wolf-Anna interview (does he do anything else these days? Is there anything else on TV anymore?), we find out that Anna has some very special news! No, we’re not all getting new cars, but we are getting cures cancer and aging! The crowd goes wild!
But, of course, it’s too good to be true, and Ryan the Traitor V knows that that wily Anna is up to something. So, he calls an emergency meeting of the V Team to discuss. Apparently, a few years back, the V’s were putting together some sort of shot to give humans as part of a larger annihilation plan. Well, what’s the plan, Ryan? Of course, he declines to share. They decide to try and track down the V scientists known to be working on the project and politely ask them to explain what’s happening, since Ryan has clammed up. Georgie would rather capture a V, skin the human-suit off it, and show it to the world. So, when they find and tail one of the scientists, instead of calmly observing the license plate, Georgie runs up, gun blazing, and threatens the scientist-man. Of course, Mr. Scientist also has a gun, and promptly shoots Georgie. Erica runs up, cradles him, and Ryan slow-walks toward the scene, gun drawn. It’s like from the beginning, you guys!

With the help of a different camera angle, we realize that Ryan is really pointing his gun at the V standing right behind Erica, and shoots him. That was it, V? Really? You just pulled the “It looks like he’s shooting one person, but he’s really shooting someone behind them” trick? So disappointing. I was really hoping that the V’s had secretly made a V-skin of Erica, and she was an informant. Not the case.

Meanwhile, Anna has been spying on Tyler, Erica’s son, via the super creepy jacket cams, and decides that he really is “the one” and invites him up to the mothership. They have adventures, and we still have no idea what “one” Tyler is.

We see some scenes of Scott Wolf checking out the healing centers, and all the miraculous, free health care they provide. It’s universal health care, everyone! And America has not been destroyed! But, there are definitely long waits and rationing, so it’s not quite utopia.
The V Team somehow finds the warehouse where all the “vitamin supplements” are being kept, and break in. They find desiccated human remains and stockpiles of the vitamins. But – shocker – it’s not the vitamins that have the secret, evil ingredient. It’s FLU VACCINES housed at the same facility! Oh, snap! So, now, in addition to buying into crazy birther theories about how charisma destroys everything, they’re now reinforcing the ridiculous idea that flu vaccines were manufactured to kill great swaths of people. Awesome job, V. Anyway, the V’s are putting something in the flu vaccine, and we still don’t know what it is.

Dr. Sweet Coat also made his triumphant return this week. After Anna finds out about Dale’s death, she becomes obsessed with finding his killer. Dr. Sweet Coat and Dr. Assistant Guy have an obvious conversation about their activity in the 5th Column. They’re so loud that you can hear their conversation echoing in the long, circular halls. But, apparently, the other V’s are so stupid that they don’t hear it. Anyway, Dr. Assistant takes the fall for the murder, and as punishment, has his human-suit ripped off. Yowch.

The other important part of this episode was the revelation that Ryan’s fiancĂ© went to one of the healing centers for a possible cure to her heart condition. Turns out they can cure it! Hooray! But that pales in comparison to the fact that she’s...preggers! Alien-human baby! I totally called it! But, that disproves my Tyler-Lisa mating theory.

So, what is Tyler “the one” for? If it’s not an impregnation scheme, I’m all out of ideas. Thoughts? Predictions? What you wish would happen but know can’t because of indecency laws? Share them all in the comments!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Glee - Mattress, or Unanticipated Gravity

I don't remember yearbook pictures fraught with such anxiety, but maybe it was a Montana thing. The central conflict this week centers around the impending yearbook photos, and all the glee club members' concern that they will be defaced for their participation in such an uncool club. Principal Figgins declares that there will be no glee club picture, partially to spare their delicate feelings, and partially because there's no room in the budget (typical). Will has a hissy fit, and spends upwards of $300 paying for an ad in the back of the yearbook. The catch? Only two people can fit in the mini-ad , so the glee club must elect co-chairs to represent them. Rachel jockeys hard for the position, mostly to cement her role as most involved person at school.

Will insists that Rachel must have a co-captain, so after a string of rejections, she appeals to Finn's sense of leadership, who agrees. After a pre-emptive football hazing as the new co-face of glee club, Finn backs out, leaving Rachel to pose all by her lonesome. Sadness.

But, during her photo shoot, Rachel finds out the yearbook photographer is casting for a mattress store commercial in town. She signs up all the glee clubbers, who are strangely enthusiastic about this opportunity at local stardom. Mind you, I would have been much more embarrassed to appear in a hokey local ad than in my high school yearbook, but I don't know the rules of McKinley High.

So, the kids perform an awesome cover of "Jump" and bounce around on mattresses for the local warehouse. As a thank you, they're given a pile of mattresses that sit in the choir room.

Will, having no idea that the commercial shooting took place, stumbles upon Terri's fake pregnancy belly and puts two and two together. He confronts her, then storms out. Luckily, there's a pile of mattresses right by his office! Hooray! He breaks one open and sleeps on it.

Sue, while performing her segment on local TV news, sees the mattress commercial and realizes that it disqualifies the New Directions from performing in sectionals. She really knows that rule manual, as any activity resulting in payment immediately disqualifies any school from the amateur competitions. Unfortunately, since Will opened one of the mattresses given to the club, they can't return or donate their "payment", effectively ending glee club (since the original deal was that they had to place at sectionals in order to continue - remember?).

BUT, miraculously, it's Quinn to the rescue! She's desperate to get back on Cheerios and into the cheerleading yearbook photo, so she blackmails Sue into letting the glee club compete at sectionals and have a full page spread in the yearbook. It seems that the girls in Cheerios are showered with complimentary swag, which they sell on eBay for a profit, and if Principal Figgins knew, they'd be banned from competing as well. Sue compliments Quinn's ruthlessness, and sends her away.

Will figures out that if he recuses himself from glee club competition, the team will be intact and able to go to sectionals. He is sad, of course, but the show will go on for New Directions. At the end of the episode, we learn that all the efforts of the club has been in vain, as the football losers still deface their photo in the yearbook. Womp, womp.

So, Will's out of glee club - again. He's also out of his marriage, potentially, which will create an interesting decision for Emma (who's back - hooray!), about to impend on her own disappointing union. Will she decide to hold out for the newly-single (maybe?) Will? The most devastating scene of the episode was by far when Will discovered Terri's treachery, a moment of unanticipated gravity in the usually light hearted series. He was both heartbroken and infuriated, which isn't an easy combo. More evidence that Will is more than a pretty face. Does this mean the end of Terri? No more ruthlessly screwing up Will's life? Maybe. But wouldn't it be perfect if Terri got for-reals pregnant right now, and Will didn't believe her? I smell impending irony!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Office - Shareholder's Meeting, or RECYCLOPS

Can we please talk about how wonderful that opening segment was? I want Recyclops to come to my work every Earth Day. And the montage of how Recyclops evolved over the years, complete with different receptionists to match the year? Priceless. Just. Priceless. Also, it served the important purpose of setting the episode on April 22nd, just in case you like to know these things. It doesn't make sense for them to do themed episodes this year (like Thanksgiving) because they have to keep a constant timeline, what with the Halpert baby on the way.

The main event this episode revolves around a shareholder meeting in New York, to which Michael is invited, as the manager of the highest yielding branch. But, when he arrives, with Oscar, Dwight, and Andy in tow, the mood is far less celebratory than Michael anticipated. The mood only worsens after Michael reveals that he was driven up in a limo and treated to free food before the meeting. Needless to say, this did not go over well with all the workers faced with the prospect of losing their jobs. After being hounded by boos, hisses, and shouts of dismay throughout the first half of the meeting, the board motions to take a 15 minute break. Unable to take it anymore, Michael bursts forth with a string of empty promises, including a 45-day plan to turning the company around. Of course, there is no such plan, and Dunder Mifflin is headed for bankruptcy.

Back in the board room, Michael calls Oscar in to come up with a plan, since he had vocally expressed his dismay with the foolishness of the company, and how he could run things more efficiently. Faced with an opportunity to shape the future of the company, Oscar balks, mumbles something about "being in the best of hands" and leaves. Poor Oscar, normally the pinnacle of honor and forthrightness, reduced to a servile grunt in the face of the Dunder Mifflin board. If anyone was going to show them what's what, I knew it would be Oscar, and the fact that even he was powerless shows just how poorly Dunder Mifflin is faring.

After calling the president of Dunder Mifflin an idiot, Michael is run out of the board room, and he, Andy, Dwight, and Oscar made a mad dash to their limo and ride back to Scranton.

While they're away, Jim is forced to deal with his sub-par managerial skills and his reputation as an ineffectual office clown. Ryan refuses to do data entry work, Phyllis takes a two hour lunch, and no one listens when Jim reprimands them. Jim, in a show of power, decides to set up an office for Ryan in a storage closet as punishment, until he does the work that Jim has prescribed. Not the most mature of approaches, but at least he now garners a modicum of respect.

Well, things still seem to be headed down for old Dunder Mifflin, which I did not expect. The ominous last shot of DMI's stock plunging downward suggests that no miracle cure is in the future. But I still don't know how they can pull off the continuation of the show without Dunder Mifflin. Perhaps the writers are planning a finale at the end of this season, which would be fitting. We're grown a lot with these guys over the years, and with Jim and Pam together, what office angst is there left to plumb? Although, I should know better. There's almost more workplace drama, and if it's anywhere to be found, it's at Dunder Mifflin, Scranton.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Glee - Hairography, or Sad Clown Hooker

This week marked the return of two of my favorite love-to-hate-them characters, Sue and Terri. Sue is back to her diabolical scheming against the glee club, and Terri is growing more and more desperate for a baby. But let's start with Sue.

Turns out our gal Sue has been spying on the Glee club, using poor, sweet Brittany as her spy - a truly unfortunate choice. Trying to clear things up with the rival team, Will makes a visit to Jane Adams Academy, a correctional high school for girls. The singer Eve, who is looking quite lovely, makes a guest appearance as the glee club coordinator, who complains that they don't even have a gymnasium in which to practice! Will generously extends William McKinley's auditorium as a rehearsal space and the sight of a quick scrimmage between the two glee clubs.

The girls turn out in revealing outfits and belt out "Bootylicious", that Destiny's Child favorite, complete with serious hairography. What's hairography, you ask? Well, luckily Rachel is here with the answer: it's a distracting ploy wielded by sub-par groups to distract from their mediocre vocals and singing. Will, unnerved by the impressive Jane Adams Academy ladies, decides to steal the strategy and have the kids sing a mashup of "Crazy in Love" (Beyonce theme, today, apparently) and the theme song from Hair. Sue is dead set against this plan, saying that Will is distracting from the kids' talent, and it's an embarrassment. Will doesn't care. They invite (or, rather, are forced to invite) their other competitors at sectionals, the local deaf high school. Crazy in Love/Hair is mediocre, and the hairography is unimpressive, and the representatives from the deaf high school know it.

When it's their turn, the kids sign a heart-warming rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine", and Mercedes decides to start singing along with them. Eventually, all the New Directions folks are up there singing with their new friends, and the result is a lovely song. Also, all the New Directions members conveniently know/pick up sign language, so are able to sign along with the other choir. Personally, if I were performing at a rival high school, I'd be a little miffed if the competition stole my thunder and butted in on my performance...but, it seemed to work.

After seeing the glorious simplicity of no hairography, Will realizes he's been a fool to mask the kids' talent with theatrics, and concedes that Sue was right. In her usual fashion, Sue still decides to give the setlist over to the two rival schools, and what do they do with them? We'll have to see.

Meanwhile, let's talk about Terri. But to talk about Terri, you first have to talk about Quinn, who's vacillating between keeping the baby and giving it to Terri. She's also having second thoughts about disowning Puck, so gives him a second chance while babysitting Terri's sister's awful demon children. They connect, sing a soulful "Papa Don't Preach" (something I didn't think was possible) and Quinn goes home convinced that Puck will be a great father. Unfortunately for Quinn, it turns out that Puck spent the entire night sexting (if you don't know, you don't want to) with Santana, that other perky cheerleader in the glee club. She reneges, and decides that she'll still give the baby to Terri.

Terri is growing ever more nervous about her fake belly and about Will finding out, so she buys him an old sports car to repair as a distraction. But, in a fit of responsibility, Will realizes that a sports car is no good for a growing family, so he sells it and buys a minivan instead. Oh Will, when will you stop being so adorable?!

But wait, you may be asking yourself, if Quinn was hanging out with Puck, where was Finn? I'm glad you asked! Corralled by Quinn, Kurt performs a makeover on Rachel to make her more alluring to Finn, thereby distracting him from Quinn's growing feelings for Puck. Rachel dolls up and does her best Olivia Newton John impression for a duet of "You're the One That I Want", only to be rejected by Finn for looking...too dolled up. Best line of the night: "You look like a sad clown hooker."

Turns out that Kurt, growing more Machiavellian by the episode, set Rachel up to be too over the top, telling her that that's what Finn liked in a girl. She's pissed, as you may guess, and figures out that Kurt has equally strong feelings for our leading man. After Quinn and Finn reconcile at the end of the episode (they'd been fighting, apparently?), Kurt and Rachel share a knowing look, realizing that neither of them will get the prize. Sigh.

Well. I was glad for the return of the two delightfully nasty ladies in Will's life, but I'm always annoyed when they focus too much on Quinn. Her breathy, girlish voice does nothing for me, and her entitled whining grates much more than Rachel, the supposedly grating one. I know, I know, she's newly homeless and abandoned, but they chose not to discuss that plot point this week. The most exciting part of the episode was by far when Sue revealed that "Don't Stop Believing" was part of the sectionals set list. I'm really, really hoping for a recap performance.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dexter - Road Kill, Hungry Man, and Lost Boys or Twistier and Turnier

So, I've managed to fall three weeks behind Dexter's antics in the span of a week, and while I don't quite understand the physics of that, allow me to quickly recap the goings-on.

Dexter, overwhelmed with remorse for killing the innocent, though obnoxious, fashion photographer, redoubles his efforts to nab Trinity. Conveniently, Arthur is about to embark on another cycle of killings in Tampa, so Dexter decides to tag along. He literally tags along in Arthur's van, in a fit of strangeness, and the bromance ensues. Dex admits that he's broken up about accidentally killing someone (in a hunting accident, he claims) and Trinity opens up about his own past. Turns out he's tangentially responsible for the death of his sister and mother, and completely responsible for his father's murder. After telling all this to Dexter, Dexter is ready to slice him up big time. But, before Dexter can wield his scalpel, Trinity went to the charity home building site (the cover for the trip) and tried to commit suicide by jumping off the unfinished roof. Dexter decides to save him, and is about to let him drop at the last second, when other workers arrive to help. Dexter learns an important lesson about remorse and how it makes us human, killing Trinity will have to wait for another day.

Also, Deb was removed from the growing Trinity case because she's technically a victim, but when the bullet trajectory of her wounds doesn't match up to Trinity's DNA, she's back on the case! Hooray! Also, LaGuerda and Angel are back together, kind of.

So, I've managed to fall three weeks behind Dexter's antics in the span of a week, and while I don't quite understand the physics of that, allow me to quickly recap the goings-on.

Dexter, overwhelmed with remorse for killing the innocent, though obnoxious, fashion photographer, redoubles his efforts to nab Trinity. Conveniently, Arthur is about to embark on another cycle of killings in Tampa, so Dexter decides to tag along. He literally tags along in Arthur's van, in a fit of strangeness, and the bromance ensues. Dex admits that he's broken up about accidentally killing someone (in a hunting accident, he claims) and Trinity opens up about his own past. Turns out he's tangentially responsible for the death of his sister and mother, and completely responsible for his father's murder. After telling all this to Dexter, Dexter is ready to slice him up big time. But, before Dexter can wield his scalpel, Trinity went to the charity home building site (the cover for the trip) and tried to commit suicide by jumping off the unfinished roof. Dexter decides to save him, and is about to let him drop at the last second, when other workers arrive to help. Dexter learns an important lesson about remorse and how it makes us human, killing Trinity will have to wait for another day.

Also, Deb was removed from the growing Trinity case because she's technically a victim, but when the bullet trajectory of her wounds doesn't match up to Trinity's DNA, she's back on the case! Hooray! Also, LaGuerda and Angel are back together, kind of.

Onto Hungry Man! Taking place on Thanksgiving, this episode was a long character study on Trinity and Dexter. After Arthur's son confesses that Trinity abuses him, and begging Dexter to come to Thanksgiving dinner so that he won't hurt him for some perceived slight, Dexter agrees. When he arrives, he finds out that Trinity is a true monster, terrorizing and destroying his family. Unfortunately, Trinity was supposed to be the alternative to such inhuman behavior, and with that bubble punctured, Dexter once again worries that he can't balance his dark passenger with his growing family life and obligations. Also, we find out that Cristine, Quinn's new girl toy is, along with a relentless reporter and Deb's possible shooter, Trinity's daughter! Shock! And LaGuerda and Angel are in love now.

Finally: Lost Boys. Just when we thought Trinity could get no worse, it turns out that his kill cycle is actually 4, not only 3, which makes him...Quadrupley? Anyway, he ritually abducts a 10 year old boy, makes him dress up in cowboy pajamas, calls him Arthur, plays with trains, then poisons him and encases his body in concrete at the charity house building sites. Sneaky. Dexter, tailing him with the intention of finally killing him, stumbles upon the abduction and stalks him to try and save the boy. He enlists the help of Arthur's son, Noah, who knows that something's not right with Daddy.

Speaking of Daddy issues, Cristine's relationship with Trinity is fleshed out, and we find out that she witnessed one of his kills as a child. She realized that it was more than just a bad dream when the same murder took place in the same house 25 years later, and took measures to cover up his crime by shooting Lundy and injuring Deb. Because she's such a good detective, Deb catches on to Cristine's nervousness and that she knows far too much about the crime. After swiping her toothbrush from Quinn's pad, they realize that she's related to Trinity and connect the dots from there.

Dexter succeeds in finding Trinity and his abductee just in time to save him from a concrete grave, but does not manage to secure Trinity. But now that Trinity knows that Dexter "Kyle" knows all about him, it won't be long before the stalker becomes the stalkee.

And on the police front, with Cristine in custody, will she give her father up? She swore that she'd do anything for him, but does that also include taking the fall?

I worried that we'd run out of material after Trinity finished his last kill, but I was sorely mistaken. The evolution of Arthur into the monstrosity he's become is as fascinating as a high-speed car crash and almost as gruesome. It continues to get twistier and turnier, and the season-long theme of family keeps taking darker and darker turns as we learn more about Trinity and his facade of a family.

As we near the end of the season, Dexter's inevitable execution of Trinity runs of the risk of being anticlimactic, since it's what we've been lurching toward for roughly four episodes now. But, I've certainly been wrong before.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

Dear Readers,

I just wanted to let you know that I am about to embark on an epic trip to Vegas for Thanksgiving, and thus will be behind on my (already tardy) postings. I apologize, but promise to get back up to speed as quickly as possible upon my return. Until then, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

V - A Bright New Day, or Alien Babies Are Coming!

This week on V, the Visitors have secured their visas, allowing them to wander free amongst us lowly humans. But little do the vast majority of people know, they've been walking amongst us for years! Drama!

Along with their new diplomatic status, the V's have attracted new haters, and there's been a death threat. Erica, the FBI mom, has been stationed to the New York mothership to keep watch for shifty characters looking to assassinate our new friends.

Erica's also been busy checking out her ill-gotten FBI files on anyone who's called in an alien complaint lately. Father Jack wanders into her house, and does some surveying after Erica leaves to protect the V's. He stumbles upon Georgie, the leader of the warehouse gang, and decides to call Erica on a cell phone to tell her the good news. A cell phone, Jack? Really? After the V's hacked into a pay phone, you're going to pass that sensitive information along via cell phone? Well, some people just aren't made for high-stakes alien espionage.

So, Jack decides to pay Georgie a visit, and as he gets out of the car, we see the time flash in the lower right hand side of the screen, for no apparent reason. I don't really care that it's noon, V, just show me some lizards eating humans! Anyway, Jack finds out that Georgie's family was eaten/taken by V's, which is the source of his malice toward them. Understandable, really.

Meanwhile, Traitor V Ryan is looking to reassemble something called the 5th Column, which I can only assume is a legion of V's that are trying to stop the main V's from eating people. He tries to recruit an old friend, only to be double-crossed AGAIN and held at gunpoint. Turns out his old buddy is a double-agent for the mothership, who have promised to "reconnect" him if he brings back other former rebels. Ryan makes some vague remarks about "bliss" and the dude being a junkie, and Anna controlling everyone. So, apparently, the V's are so orderly because they're all super-high on some drug that Anna concocted. Good to know.

But back to the mothership, possibly under attack by some shooter. We now see that it's 2:40 or something, which I still don't care about. Erica surmises that the shooter took a guard V's jacket, so he could be anyone! But, most likely, it's the dude they're showing in sinister slow-motion. Erica's killer instincts kick in, and she takes him down. But when it comes time to book 'em, Danno, the V's sequester him in a special holding pen where humans are not allowed. Suspicious! Luckily, Erica took this valuable opportunity to spy on the V's and figure out their one passcode to all the secret doors (duh, guys, multiple passcodes when trying to an invade a foreign planet) and sneak into one of the rooms. It's a circular space, filled with screens, and is apparently a torture chamber where V's are subjected to our worst forms of reality TV as punishment. Not really, but it turns out V's monitor everyone through tiny cameras in their V jackets.

While we're here on the mothership, let's check in with Dale, the V sleeper cell, formerly Erica's partner. He's back alive now (Ta-Da!) but has a bad case of the forgetfuls. He can't remember anything about his previous life, including who knocked his fake face off. A handsome doctor with a sweet, flowing coat comes along, promising to help him rediscover his old life. Thanks, Dr. Sweet Coat! By going back into Dale's memory cells (don't ask) he remembers that Erica saw him, and now must die. Duh-duh-duh!

Back on Earth, Tyler, Erica's son, is still all sad about not being able to be a peace ambassador. Luckily, he runs into Lisa, his alien crush, at a pizza parlor, who tells him he's back in the club. Hooray! He then takes her back to his house, and has some sweet makeouts. Unfortunately, Erica comes home in the middle, and Tyler has to hide his newly-recovered V jacket. After being incredibly obvious that he has a girl in his room, Erica bursts in and sees Lisa in her underpants. Hey-o! In some quick alien thinking, Lisa deduced that it would be better for Erica to see her unclothed, than donned in V apparel. What a clever lizard-person she is!

So, this whole time, Anna has been obsessed with a protester who lost her husband in the initial V landing, and is a force for the V-protest movement. Anna decides to meet with her and offer condolences, but we know that these sentiments are false, since we see Anna rehearsing her speech, complete with fake tears, just before meeting the protestor, Mary. Anna accosts her, and asks for her forgiveness and a few moments of her time. A few moments later, Mary is giving a press conference about how we should forgive the V's and that they're our friends, and for peace, always, yadda, yadda, yadda.

It's been theoried that they just killed Mary and used a V with brand-new Mary skin to show the turnaround, but then why would Anna waste her time with the fake condolence and let's be friends talk? Maybe Anna hooked Mary up to the fabled bliss, and got her hooked on the good stuff. We'll see.

Now that Dale knows Erica is about to blow his cover, he's raring to get back to Earth and do some killing. Nuh-uh-uh, Dale, turns out that Dr. Sweet Coat was also a member of the famed 5th Column, and injects Dale with a death syringe, along with the delicious line, "The 5th Column says hello." Oh, yes, it does.

Georgie ends up tracking Jack down to his church and greets him in the typically paranoid fashion of sticking a gun up to the back of his head. Georgie is pretty pessimistic about forming a new resistance like Jack wants to, considering his past with the friendly Visitors. But, Jack convinces him to give it the old college try. Jack, Georgie, Erica, and Ryan all assemble at the church to discuss their new resistance plans.

Back at the mothership, we find out that the would-be V assassin was really just another V! Shock! The whole thing was orchestrated from the beginning! Also, Lisa, fresh from her makeout, comes to Anna with these cryptic lines:

Lisa: Tyler's the one. We should use him.

Anna: You did an excellent job.

Lisa: Thank you, Mother.

WHAT. Okay, so Lisa is actually really her daughter, OR Anna is some sort of queen bee that's really all the other V's mom (and very well preserved, somehow) OR it's a term of endearment among V's to their leader. And what do they want to use Tyler for? I'm thinking it's a human-alien impregnation, to show that the V's really want to be our friends. See? We'll even deign to have sex with you filthy creatures! We're all cool! But then, really, it'll be terrible, and the V's will eat all the humans.

Overall, a lot more happened this week, which is always good. I have the sense that we're building to a few different confrontations, rather than treading water like last week. The Obama parallels have almost all dropped off, but the tense message of the power of charisma is still present. All in all, jolly good, V, jolly good.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Glee - Ballad, or So Many Crushes

I was really concerned that they weren't going to pull this, but it was inevitable, really. Of course someone was going to develop a massive crush on Shuster. He's irresistible, and if I were 17, hell, if I knew him today, there would be no stopping that attraction.

Anyway, Rachel finally got the memo that Shuster is hot, talented, and HOT while assigned to sing a ballad with him. Mike (who? yeah, I don't know either) is out because of a "spider in the ear" related incident, so Shuster and Rachel have to perform a ballad together to get ready for sectionals in a few weeks. Other pairings for the ballad-off include Mercedes and Puck, Quinn and Kurt, and the two other cheerleaders.

Meanwhile, Quinn is still pregnant, and can no longer fit into her chastity ball dress! The horror! We finally meet Quinn's clueless parents, who are aptly characterized as boozy conservatives, due to some subtle glass clinking sound effects, and the exhortation from Quinn's mom, "Glenn's on!" Pretty clever, there, Glee. To make matters worse, Russ Fabray has decided to invite Finn over for Sunday dinner, where I'm sure everything will be fine and nothing terrible will happen.

So, Rachel is in full on stalker mode, and gives Shuster a blue tie with gold stars on it. "Gold stars are kind of my signature thing," she explains. Oh, Rachel, we all know what your thing is.

But, this isn't the first time this has happened to our boy Shu. Apparently, a few years back, there was the Suzie Pepper incident, where she stalked him, and after being told to back off, ate one of the world's hottest peppers, which burned holes in her esophagus and left her in an induced coma for three days. Not exactly a success story. Thankfully, Emma's back to offer advice! She suggests that Will sing his non-feelings for Rachel, letting her down easy.

Cut to Kurt and Finn, trying to rehearse. Finn is weirded about about singing to a dude, so Kurt suggests he sing out his feeling of frustration about the impending adoption to the crowd, imagining his daughter is out there. We are then treated to a beautiful rendition of "I'll Stand by You" with interspersed shots of Finn singing to a video of a sonogram.

During the big finish, Finn's mom walks in, carrying a basket of laundry. She asks what we're all asking inside: "Are you singing to a sonogram?" The answer is yes. Because she is obviously an more observant parent than Quinn's folks, Finn's mom immediately realizes that Quinn is pregnant. Finn breaks down sobbing in Mommy's arms.

Finn tells Quinn that he spilled the beans, and she freaks out, worried that his mom will tell her parents.

We find out that Kurt has had a long-standing crush on Finn, even though he realizes how foolish it is. Though Kurt realizes that foolishness of his feelings - "I don't know why I find his stupidity so charming. I mean, he's cheating off a girl who thinks the square root of 4 is rainbows" - he can't get over him. He's so delusional that he believes he can turn Finn gay with the right combination of camaraderie and girl bashing. Oh, Kurt, you poor sweet thing. Although, to be fair, a relationship with Quinn would be enough to scare a lot of men away from the ladies forever.

Speaking of poor sweet things, we get a peek into Rachel and Will's ballad rehearsal. Will has composed a mashup of "Young Girl" and "Don't Stand So Close to Me" in the hopes that she'll understand that he's not interested. Poor Rachel doesn't get it, and both Rachel and Emma are sent into paroxysms of joy and lust. Rachel rushes home to compose her own mashup of lovey songs to sing right back at Will.

But, she can't wait until the next day to get her lovin' on, so Rachel shows up at Will's house, cooks him dinner, and cleans the bathroom. Terri puts up with these shenanigans, even encourages them, so that she doesn't have to do housework. Terri! Anyway, Will takes Rachel home, and it's super awkward.

Next, we see Mercedes and Puck attempting to rehearse their ballad. Mercedes reveals that everyone has decided to sing a song to Quinn and Finn to show support during Babygate. Puck freaks out and reveals that he's really the father. To Mercedes! Luckily, he picked the right person to reveal to, as Mercedes brings the tough love advice. She says that impregnating Quinn does not make him the father, and that role will be filled by Finn, because Quinn chose him. So, back off and leave her alone. We'll see if Puck gets the message through his mohawk, which seems pretty likely, judging by the look of sheepish surliness on his face.

Suddenly, it's Sunday dinner time, and the Fabray's are in full on crazy mode. Finn decides to break the tension by singing "You're Having My Baby" to Quinn right in front of her folks. We find out that it was Kurt's idea to serenade her, in the hopes that she would break up with him. Oh, Kurt, you conniving little fashionista! Further hammering home the fact that the Fabray's are the stoutest bottles on the shelf, it takes them at least two verses of the song before they realize that Quinn is knocked up.

Then all hell breaks loose. Because she's such a disappointment to them, the Fabray's disown Quinn and kick her out of the house. What? This really happens to people? Aren't we pretty clear as a society that kicking your children out at their most vulnerable tends not to work in their favor? Well, I guess old Glenn Beck didn't have that message on any of his programs, so the Fabray's didn't get the memo. She's given a half hour to pack, then moves in with Finn and his much more reasonable mom.

Suzie Pepper, Will's old stalker, corners Rachel in a bathroom to tell her to back off Shuster. However, this isn't some old rivalry emerging, but rather, more sound advice from someone who's gone through hell. She says that her and Rachel are not so different, and they both hitched their stars to Will because they know he'll never reciprocate their feelings. They are attracted to unattainable boys, further reinforcing their fear that they'll never be good enough to love. Suzie's advice is to find someone else, and save herself a lot of heartbreak. Not that I ever had an inappropriate crush in high school...but I wish someone had given me this advice at 17. The only beef I have with Suzie's pep talk is that she refers to Rachel as mildly attractive. What?! Rachel is smokin' hot, and I refuse to conform to the narrative of unattractiveness that Glee is perpetuating against Rachel!

Anyhow, Rachel gets the message, and apologizes to Shu for her inappropriateness. Will sits her down, reiterates that they will never have anything more than a student/teacher relationship, but says that there's a boy out there who will love every part of her, including the parts of herself that she wishes she could change. Again, where were these beautiful, uplifting speeches when I was in high school?

We wrap things up this week with a lively rendition of "Lean on Me" from the glee clubbers to Quinn and Finn. So, the message is that, even though Quinn is effectively a homeless orphan, it'll be okay, because her high school buddies still like her. Hooray!

I shouldn't be so callous, but really, what is Quinn going to do? She's about to have astronomical medical bills, a terrible emotional upheaval (if she does give the baby up for adoption) and no income. Glee is about to take a dark turn if things continue in this direction. I'm hoping that Mrs. Fabray (the less crazy one) grows a brain and takes Quinn back in. With any luck, she'll also divorce that neanderthal, Russ Fabray. But until then, we'll always have the music.

The Office - Murder, or The Diversion

Diversion is the name of the game this week, and with the King of Diversion himself, Michael Scott, at the helm, it's going to be a bumpy ride (yeah, I just mixed my metaphors, get over yourself, nerd).

So, there's a nasty rumor going around the Wall Street Journal that Dunder Mifflin is about to go bankrupt. After a not at all reassuring email from David Wallace, people are freaking out. Instead of allaying their fears and telling them all to get back to the grindstone, Michael pulls out his Murder Mystery game, and they all don costumes and terrible Southern accents to figure out who killed the wealthy Southern gentleman.

At first, everyone is dismayed. They want to stay clued to their computer screens, refreshing incessantly for any update. Of course, Dwight gets right into it, but the others take some more coercing. Oscar, sweet rational Oscar, interrupts their fun when he reveals that he's been directed to suspend all payments to their clients. It's a bad sign. There's more freaking out.

Jim, predictably, has been pretty miffed about Michael's reaction to the crisis, and wants to get back to work. Michael, however, will only respond to his character's name and really, really wants to know who the killer is.

Faced with the prospect that they could all be fired never see each other again, Andy screws up the courage to ask Erin out on a date. However, he foolishly does so as his game character, and she responds in kind. The problem is that Erin is portraying Naughty Nelly, the town trollop, who will go out with any and every one. Andy worries that he asked Nelly out, and not Erin. When he confronts her about it, she demurs, giving a non answer. He takes this as a rejection, and says it was only part of the game. Of course, they both wanted to go out, but now they won't, because they're both foolish.

Finally, Jim confronts Michael in his office, and Michael explodes that they all need to have fun, get their mind off the impending disaster, and keep morale up. It's a surprisingly valid argument, though Jim remains unconvinced.

David Wallace makes a personal call to the office, and because Michael (as Caleb, his character) refuses to take the call, Jim takes it. Things are looking bleak for Dunder Mifflin, David confides. Jim returns to the conference room, the scene of the game, looking grim. When asked what happened, he pauses, then slowly raises his head to declare, in his best Savannah accent, "There's been another murder." So, now everyone's in on the game, and they all have a a great rest of the day that concludes in a four way fake gun battle among Michael, Dwight, Andy, and Pam. They resolve their differences by having an epic shootout, complete with sound effects and the miming of spewing blood.

So, the question we're all left with is, what's going to happen? They can't really bankrupt Dunder Mifflin and expect the show to continue, so I doubt that's the play. But are they about to undergo a new corporate restructuring, complete with new staff assignments and consolidations? Could it mean the return of Holly, Michael's lost love? We'll see, and this week's episode was a great teaser into what comes next. The Murder Mystery plot was okay, but mainly a vehicle for other character development. Michael actually seemed to be helping, rather than unintentionally destroying, lives, so I suppose I can get behind it.

For the record though, if a real murder goes down, I definitely want Dwight on the side of the law. Man, can he recreate a crime scene!

30 Rock - The Problem Solvers, or A Little Help From the Audience

I wish there was an awesome word for a deep bond between a man and a woman that is in no way sexual. Because that's what this episode is all about.

We start out with the introduction of Jack Baker, the new cast member. After deciding that, not unlike the Highlander, there can only be one Jack, the original Jack renames him. So, his new name is Danny Baker. Turns out Danny is incredibly nice (and Canadian!) and has some acting experience. His one problem is that he refuses to let Kenneth help him with anything. This freaks Kenneth out to no end, causing him to talk backwards. Apparently, Jack/Danny used to be a personal assistant, and hated the way they were harassed and harangued about the actor's every whim. He assumes that Kenneth feels the same. Oh, Jack/Danny, you have so much to learn.

Jack and Liz have an intimate dinner, and Jack reveals that he wants to produce a talk show with Liz after Dealbreakers has risen to prominence. Liz tells Jenna and Tracy the good news, and they advise her to check out her options with other agents and production companies, rather than commit to Jack just because they have a personal relationship. Surprisingly, this is legitimate advice, so Jenna and Tracy decide to take their problem solving on the road, under the guise of...the Problem Solvers!

They find out that Kenneth is upset that Jack/Danny won't let him do any of his errands, so they agree to talk to Jack/Danny for him. Jack/Danny tells them his story about being a personal assistant and they immediately flash back to all the times they mistreated underlings. So now NO ONE will take any help from Kenneth, and he is distraught!

Meanwhile, Liz breaks the news to Jack that she wants to shop around for a TV deal. He's upset, and the two begin a standoff of epic proportions. She threatens to go with a different production company, and he threatens to steal the rights of the show (since it originally aired on NBC, thus making it property of Sheinhart Wig Company). They do nasty things to each other, a 12 year old (not really, but kinda) agent is introduced, and Padma Lakshmi makes a cameo. At the end, they realize that they want to do business together, not with anyone else. There's an iconic shot of them running across Rockefeller Square toward each other, and the camera spins as they profess their undying mutual respect.

To wrap things up, Kenneth confronts Jack/Danny about being too nice, and tricks him into blowing up at Kenneth, revealing his true actorly persuasions and also conveniently getting rid of his Canadian accent. Kenneth implores Jenna and Tracy to do the same, and everything is officially back to normal.

All in all, a good episode. I am super excited about the new cast member, Jack/Danny, and hope he continues to be endearing and a little goofy. I can't wait for the development of the Dealbreakers talk show, and was glad that Liz and Jack got some time to develop their relationship and generally have great chemistry. But I still have a problem: what catchy phrase can we use to describe their relationship? I am at a loss, so I leave it up to you, my readers. Please post your ideas for a deeply platonic male/female friendship. Who knows - the next bromance may be born right here on this blog. Post away!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

House - Known Unknown, or Liar, Liar

This week, the lucky patient that gets to be treated by House is introduced via every teenage girl's dream. She's standing in line for a sweet party that will be attended by her favorite band, when the band in question comes walking by. The lead singer chooses her and a friend to get past the velvet rope, and they have a magical night of playing Rock Band, fence jumping, skinny dipping, and being serenaded. While retelling all this magic to her uber-jealous friends the next morning, however, the lucky girl becomes not quite so fortunate, as all her joints swell to elephantine size and she collapses.

House is convinced the diagnosis is something called Rabdo, which also sounds like an awesome new Swedish band. Anyway, he wants to close the case quickly and jump town, since he has two tickets to the National Pillow Fighting Championship - a valid desire. But, after some tests, it's revealed that the girl couldn't have done all the things she described (jumping a fence, playing rock band, swimming) because she's experiencing temporary muscle paralysis due to potassium depletion. So, now we have a double mystery: why is she sick, and what did she really do that night?? Oh, the excitement!

Turns out that the girl didn't really care about the emo band after all, but found out that the creator of a super sweet comic and sci fi series (fake Joss Whedon, let's be clear) would be at the party. She couldn't tell her friends this because they wouldn't understand her passion. So, she followed fake-Joss around all night, and ate at the same restaurant he did, having the exact same meal. They postulate that, since no one else that ate the food got sick, she might have bulimia.

Meanwhile, House has jumped town, though not to the Pillowfight Championships (darn). He accompanied Wilson to a medical conference after he found out that Cuddy was also going. Apparently, he has full-fledged plans to woo her now, rather than just sexually harass her constantly.

Cameron and Foreman do the test to determine if the secret sci-fi nerd has bulimia (you can do that, apparently?) and find out that she, does not, in fact, suffer from an eating disorder. Cameron bothers Foreman about if Chase is having an affair, because he's been so distant, yada, yada, yada. Whatever. I am so tired of the "I killed a genocidal maniac and now I am sad" storyline. Man up, Chase.

So, they still don't know what's wrong with the Whedonite, and during their next round of interviews, to determine what exactly happened, she starts making shit up and bleeding from her ears. Not a great sign.

For some reasons, the writers then decided to take a break from this exciting scene and cut to an 80's party at the medical conference. House and Cuddy do the classic thing where they go out to the dance floor in the middle of a fast song, but it immediately changes to a slow dance when they reach the middle of the floor. Uh-oh! So, they slow dance and we find out that Cuddy and House actually had a one-night stand in med school (!) and House never called. We expect his ladykilling ways to be the culprit, but it turns out he really was going to call, but received a call of a very different nature that very morning, informing him that he'd been expelled and should pack up his bags. Downer.

Cameron and Chase are still on the sleuthing trail trying to figure out what super fan did to get so sick, and finally figure out that she came up to fake-Whedon's room on the pretense of returning his journal after sntaching it. First, they think that he drugged her with rufies and slept with her, and he is understandably upset at the allegation. Foreman is able to rule out rufies. They do some sort of lie detecting test, and ask her again what the hell happened. She lies, again, saying that fake-Whedon drugged and raped her. But it's okay, because it's a lie! But seriously, WHAT HAPPENED.

Back in conference land, in addition to House mooning over Cuddy, we find out that the paper Wilson is about to present basically advocates for physician-assisted suicide in cases of advanced cancer. House freaks out, in an uncharacteristically selfless way, because he knows it will ruin Wilson's career. After Wilson doesn't take his advice to not give the presentation, House slips Wilson rufies. He then goes to Cuddy's room, offering to babysit her child (who seems to have aged about two years in the space of three months) but there's another man there! Who's apparently named Lucas! And I gathered there's some sort of history there, but having not watched the show since its inception, I can't really say.

House's next step is to give Wilson's paper in his absence, pretending that he wrote it, so that the blame will fall to him. Actually, at the end, it's a hit, and everyone praised the courage of Dr. Perlmutter (House's assumed name for the conference). While Wilson is arguing with House about the audacity of stealing his paper, House magically solves the case of the Whedonite. It was hemochromatosis, in case you were wondering. She'll be fine, and will stop her pathological lying.

With all that business taken care of, we get a few personal vignettes with our favorite doctors. Turns out that Cuddy's been dating Lucas (who's a detective, I guess?) for awhile, and kept it secret from House. He was sad. Chase finally admitted to killing the dictator, and fade to black.

Okay, House, let's talk. You're a procedural medical drama that rises above because your characters are interesting and support the mysteries. BUT, when the interpersonal drama and stoylines start to take away from the sweet medical junk you do, you give it to the soapiness of other treacle like Grey's Anatomy. I want an interesting case, a few false diagnoses, sarcasm, tension, and finally, sweet resolution. Anything more, and you start to lose me. Please get back to your roots and entertain/scary me with rare diseases. Thank you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

V - There is No Normal Anymore, or There is No Plot Anymore

Things ground to a resounding halt this week on V, which it's difficult to get away with on a mini-series. I want to see some human eating, people!

We started up right where we left off last time, in the aftermath of the warehouse massacre. FBI mom (Erica, as she's apparently called) makes a frantic 911 phone cal to get some backup, but it's mysteriously intercepted by the V's, who sent another one of their terrible, explosion balls to take care of the lingering witnesses. Erica outsmarts it, though, by bashing it with a piece of wood. Hooray!

Erica and Jack (the young priest) then decide to trust no one and secretly go about their resistance movement. All that goes down the tubes when another FBI agent comes to Jack's church interviewing him about the man who passed on his V intel before biting the dust. He hedges, not giving any info, then feels bad and goes to the police station to spill the beans. There, he meets Erica, and they have a cute little scene of, "You're a priest?!" Dang, Erica was definitely looking for a love interest, but that's not happening, honey.

They furtively whisper at each other about the various merits of telling what he knows, versus not, with Erica's point of view being, "But anyone could be a V! ANYONE." And Jack was all like, "But we have to help!" Meh.

Meanwhile, we catch up with Ryan, the traitor V, and his scene of continuing domestic bliss. Her fiance, a therapist, makes a particularly crude comment about the invasion being good for business, but Ryan still wants to marry her ass. He has to explain the gaping wound on his forearm, and goes with "scraped it on a filing cabinet". She buys it, which furthers my theory that she may not be the brightest bulb on this series. Anyway, Ryan goes to a mechanic buddy by the name of Angelo who is also a V traitor, and, conveniently, a V doctor. We see some cool CGI of Ryan's arm magically healing itself before our eyes, but then, it appears that Angelo has injected Ryan with no only medicine, but black out drugs! Oh, no! So, we then think that Angelo is a double-agent, secretly loyal to the V's, but it turns out he just can't trust anyone, including Ryan. He's a triple Maverick!

Erica has been called into the office to investigate the disappearance of Dale, her partner, and Erica plays it cool, being all like, "I don't know where he is. Certainly not dead on the floor of a warehouse with a gaping head wound of my own infliction." The investigators, however, are suspicious, and think that Erica isn't being honest with them. We recap pretty much everything that happened in the past episode, before Erica makes the quick cover that Dale was actually working with the terrorists, so she couldn't trust him, and that's why their case files aren't lining up. Sure, Erica. She convinces them that Dale won't be showing up for a long time, and they seem to buy this particular load. Too bad, though, because at the end of the episode, we see that Dale has been resurrected on the mothership, surely bent on revenge.

Erica's son, Tyler, has been living the peace ambassador high life with Lisa, the hot alien. That abruptly comes to a stop when Tyler punches a protester (who totally started it!), then getting banned from the ambassadors. Tyler definitely wasn't "for peace, always" when he straight up cold-cocked that sucker. So, now he's sad.

The framing of the episode (maybe I should have gotten to this earlier? or they should have made it more interesting?) is that the V's are in the process of gaining diplomatic relationships with all major countries in the world. They've already successfully conned Japan and Mexico, but are really hoping for Russia, China, and the US. The State Department is deliberating, and Anna is pissed at Fountain of Youth Scott Wolf for not doing more to plug the V's to the viewers. Well, Scott Wolf makes some claims about how he can't control the government, but he can control public opinion, which he's happy to do if the V's play nice. It's unclear. Anyway, the State Department grant the V's diplomatic access to the US.

So, we get to the end of the episode, and nothing has really happened. We don't know what the V's plans on, there's no resistance forming, and we don't know who else is secretly a V. Although I do have my theories: mostly, the older priest (he's way too pro-V) and the FBI agent investigating the murder at Jack's church (mostly because she played a double agent on BSG). The one thing we did learn this episode is that the producers definitely signed a product placement agreement with iPhone. Those frickin' things were everywhere, and served little purpose. For example: do we need a closeup and a showcase of the iPhone's easy-to-use camera feature just to get a shot of hot alien Lisa? Plus, the picture that they show of her in no way resembles the face she was making when the camera went click. Is that an iPhone app? Take magical pictures with different expressions than the person you're photographing has? That would actually be kind of cool.

But other than that, very little. True, they did tamp down the Obama metaphors, but I'll take those coupled with sweet alien action, rather than a politically neutral bore fest. My descriptions of the pilot enticed someone to watch the second episode (I'm that good) but this episode made me look like a fool for my initial recommendation! Can't be doing that, V! Step your game up! My recommendation: Ryan's idiot fiance finds out he's a V, we see a serious rebellion, and above all, aliens eating humans! Use that immense budget on something cooler than holographic pictures of Anna changing clothes, for God's sakes!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Glee - Wheels, or Skirting the Line

So, full disclosure - I was so excited about the return of Glee this week that I pumped myself up by listening to recordings on YouTube during work (don't judge me). However, I accidentally stumbled upon this week's "Dancing with Myself" and "Defying Gravity" covers. Now, the question is: with the thrill of the musical numbers already experienced (only auditorially, not visually) will the show still stand up to its former glory?

This week, Quinn's still off the team, and starting to fret about medical bills for her impending bundle of joy. Instead of, oh, I don't know, telling her parents so she can jump on the family insurance bandwagon, she harps at Finn to get a job so he can pay for all her new maternity clothes. I'm starting to get a whiff of Terri in Quinn's demeanor, and the shrillness does not look good on her.

Meanwhile, Will wants the kids to travel to a tournament in another town, but there's no money for a special bus equipped for the mobility impaired (i.e. Artie). Not wanting to split up the team, he'll have to find his own way to finance the trip, without the school's help. I don't mean to be nit-picky, but I feel like there's a law somewhere that says public schools have to be equally accessible to all people with disabilities. Oh, that's right, it's the Americans with Disabilities Act. Oh, well. Carry on.

So, Will pitches the idea of a bake sale to raise money, and the glee clubbers balk. They say that Artie won't mind riding alone with his Dad. Artie agrees, then sings a sad rendition of "Dancing with Myself". Okay, so the test arrives! The version, while smooth and jazzy, isn't all that exciting on its own - unlike other Glee classics like "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Somebody to Love". But what really made it work was the wonderful montage of loneliness and sweet wheelchair dancing that accompanied it. Glee, you have passed your first test.

Turns out that Artie is miffed about being left out, and Will goes to bat for him, saying that not only will they do a bake sale to raise money, each member of the club will spend three hours a day in a wheelchair, and the number they perform will be wheelchair based. I feel like the punishment does not fit the crime here, Shuster, but I'll roll with it (see what I did there?)

Puck gives Quinn $18, after overhearing that she needs money. For some reason, they start a weird baking food fight (since Quinn was baking cupcakes for the bake sale) and almost kiss. Then, Finn walks in and, for once, has a glimmer of suspicion that maybe, just maybe, the bun in that particular oven is not of his own stirring.

Kurt has a heart to heart with his Dad about how much he wants to sing "Defying Gravity" for sectionals, but Will won't even let him try out, because it's a female part. Kurt's Dad goes to the principal, complains about discrimination (take a hint, Artie's parents!) and convinces Will to hold fair tryouts for the part, with all the rest of the glee club voting on the best performance. Rachel raises hell because she thinks it's just going to be a popularity contest, not a fair judge of talent. Kurt makes everyone promise to vote sincerely for the best performance, and it's on!

The principal, so inspired by Will's dedication to accessibility in the school with the wheelchair stunt, has decided that Sue must hold open auditions to fill Quinn's spot in the Cheerios. She relents, and we see a melange of uncoordinated students try their luck. The last auditioner, Becky Jackson, has Down's Syndrome, and is also quite uncoordinated. However, Sue decides that she's on the team.

What? We know she's up to something, because the "I'm up to something!" a capella plays in the background, but I'm really concerned about where this is going. There's a point where it's okay to make fun of things, and Glee, you were really skirting the line with the mobility impaired and gender discrimination. Throwing in intellectual disabilities, I fear it's too much. I find myself cringing at the next scene, and unless you deliver a big-hearted, we're all okay message at the end of this, it will just be too bitter to swallow.

ANYWAY, Rachel is nervous about the diva-off, Kurt's Dad has second thoughts about being "Super Supportive Dad" after he gets an anonymous phone call calling his son the f-word, and Quinn threatens to break up with Finn if he doesn't get a job. Dude, seems like an easy call to me - you don't have to get a job, and you get Quinn off your back. But, he doesn't see it that way. With Rachel's help, he concocts a nefarious plan to bring in the bucks.

Speaking of nefarious plans, Puck has his own way of bringing in the dollars. He fills the glee club cupcakes with marijuana, so people are buying them by the fistful. Also way up on the nefarious scale, we check in with Sue, who is running poor Becky into the ground with drills and exclamations that she's terrible. Will runs in, horrified, but Sue protests that she only wants to treat Becky like everyone else, not easier, just because she has a disability. Will isn't convinced that her motives are that pure, and neither am I.

Puck tries to give Quinn his ill-gotten funds from the marijuana bake sale, but she protests. Puck goes on and on about how they could be a family, and he has ambition, and everything will be great, but Quinn says the argument pretty much breaks down when you see that Puck stole from a friend in a wheelchair. Sorry, Puck.

The results of Rachel's treacherous plan come through, and Quinn got a job! He pretended to be in a wheelchair, and Rachel threatened to sue the restaurant for discrimination if they didn't hire him. So, now he has checks to dutifully hand over to Quinn, and has to keep up the charade of being bound to a wheelchair as long as he works there. Well, this is a win-win for everybody? Maybe?

Now, with the money to rent the special bus for Artie in hand, everything seems right with the world. But, Artie selflessly gives up the money, agreeing to ride with his dad to sectionals, so they can install a wheelchair ramp in the auditorium. BUT, wonder of wonders, it turns out that Sue Sylvester just wrote a check for three, count 'em, three, wheelchair ramps for the school! So, they get to have ramps and all ride together to sectionals! The only person not totally excited about this prospect is Will, who's still convinced that Sue is about to unleash something terrible.

But then, as I hoped, we have a beautiful, touching moment, when we learn that Sue's older sister, whom she visits religiously at her assisted living facility, has Down's syndrome. Sue read her sister Little Red Riding Hood, and I teared up. Oh, Glee!

As if things couldn't get better, we cut to an adorable scene between Tina and Artie on their first date. It turns out that Artie has been pining for Tina for awhile now, and after recovering from the epic fail line of "...but I still have full use of my penis," Artie convinced Tina to go out with her. They kiss, and it's awesome.

Then, Tina drops the bomb. She doesn't really have a stutter! WHAT. She drops some bullshit about not wanting to give a speech in 6th grade, so she faked it, and just kept it up until now, but New Directions made her want to experience life to the fullest, blah, blah, blah, whatever. TINA! You were so cool, with your blue highlights, and now you're just a poser! Artie has the same reaction, and is all like, "Peace!" Relationship over.

But back to the diva-off. Rachel sang like an angel, of course, and Kurt was okay. Mostly, he just has a brassy sound that I can't get over, and the whole thing sounded so force I felt pity for his vocal chords. When it came to the high F, the centerpiece of the song, Kurt totally blew it, and they gave the part to Rachel. Womp, womp. But then we find out that Kurt intentionally threw the try-out so that his father wouldn't have to put up with more harassing phone calls about his son's sexual orientation. Heart-warming, but also sad for poor Kurt. When is his moment to shine?

The big finale is a rendition of "Rollin' on the River", performed entirely in wheelchairs. Subtle? No. Great choreography? Yes.

So, overall, Glee played a pretty tricky game, and tackled a ton of discriminatory topics. Were they successful? Well, Artie got some ramps, and people understand him better, but poor Becky is still getting her ass kicked on the Cheerios. We find out Tina really doesn't have a stutter, though that isn't really in the discrimination category, but a revelation. Finn narrowly escaped a Quinn breakup by exploiting laws designed to help people with actual disadvantages. A lot of mixed messages here, and the episode felt a little like it was treading water. None of the plots really advanced, but it was a pleasurable interlude, and it was good to give Artie some serious face time. He sure can sing, and man, can he wheel that chair.

I'm hoping that next week we'll get back to the interpersonal drama, and have some real consequences. Until then, I'll keep replaying the Glee standards in anticipation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dexter - Slack Tide, or Ruh-Roh!

This week, Dexter and Trinity become super best friends, with the hope that Dexter will learn important serial killer/life skills. Then, of course, he will kill him, but not until he's mined Trinity for all the information he can!

It's Deb's first official day back at work, and they're investigating the murder of a young Nicaraguan woman. The twist is that they were tipped off to the homicide after discovering her arm in the belly of an alligator. Turns out the main suspect is a twisted fashion photographer who might have a violent past. After sexually harassing Deb, he jumps to the top of the list of Dexter's next victims.

Dexter and Trinity have some man time, going out into the woods at 6:30 AM. When Trinity offers Dex his choice of weapons - chainsaw, ax, saw, or pickax, Dexter is convinced that only one of them will make it out of the encounter alive. But surprise! They're just going to cut down a tree together. Whew. After Dexter successfully starts the chainsaw when Trinity tries and tries but can't do it, Trinity gets unnecessarily snippy and weird.

On the way back into the city, Trinity accidentally hits a deer on the road. Dexter insists that Trinity put it out of its misery, but he refuses, getting sick and nervous at the thought of killing the deer. So, Dexter takes the ax, and kills the deer. I believe what we're supposed to gather from this scene that, unlike Dexter, Trinity's killing stem from an altered psychological state, not a constant way of hardness and insensitivity, like Dexter. Does this make him better or worse? Will it help or harm Dexter's efforts to both learn from the most successfully serial killer in recent history, or harm them? We'll see!

Dex investigates the creepy fashion photographer, and of course, it turns out he's killed a bunch of beautiful South and Central American girls who were in the US illegally. Bring on the killing!

Dexter tries to go over the photographer by ambushing him outside a swanky club, but freaking Quinn is there too! Turns out Quinn has a bug up his butt about Dexter ever since he found that Dexter knows Quinn stole money from a crime scene. Quinn is also pressuring Deb to sit for an interview with his reporter girlfriend, something that Dex is adamantly opposed to. Quinn seems to think that Dexter has secrets, so is trying to figure them out to have something to match Dexter's knowledge about him. Oh Quinn, this is not a road you don't want to go down. Don't you remember Sergeant Doakes? You don't want to end up fried in a cabin, and that's where you're headed if you don't back it down.

So, Dexter has to delay the killing and instead, take Cody on an overnight boating trip with the Young Sailor's Club (adorable!). They tell scary stories around the fire, and despite protestations that he doesn't know any scary stories (yeah, right), Dexter starts telling the story of the Trinity killer, before he's interrupted by a fellow chaperone and all the kids go to bed. BUT, after everyone is tucked in night and snug, Dexter sneaks to the photographer's in a second attempt to kill him. This time: success! Although the photographer makes the requisite pleas of innocence, Dexter knows better, and takes care of him.

PLOT TWIST - after getting to the station, we see that the photographer's assistant has been taken in for the murder of the girls. It turns out they have DNA evidence, security camera footage, the works. Ruh-roh. Looks like Dex just killed an innocent man! This is certainly a new situation for our hero - what will he do? How will he handle such a blow to his method?

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mad Men - Shut the Door. Have a Seat. or Really?

Big things are afoot at Sterling Cooper PPL! Connie (making a triumphant return) tells Don that his company is being sold to McCann, which will mean that Connie will have to take his business elsewhere, as McCann represents another hotel chain. Don pitches a fit and blames Connie for stringing him along. Connie replies, "You know, I got everything I have on my own. It's made me immune to those who complain and cry because they can't." I'm not sure if that line was intended to be hilarious, but oh Connie, if you only knew how your legacy would end up.

Anyhow, Don has an inspiring flashback about how his father selfishly refused to help out his cooperative when the wheat price was too low, and this made him decide to storm into Cooper's office with the wacky scheme that they buy back Sterling Coop from PPL. Now, maybe it's just because I've been doing LSAT prep, but that logic seems pretty far-stretched. So, Old Man Whitman was a jackass and screwed his buddies, so you're going to save the company from corporate death? I'm...just going to hope this is explained later.

At first, Bert balks at the idea of taking back what is rightfully theirs, but then comes around with a pretty sound business plan of securing their major accounts. The obstacle: Roger Sterling. American Tobacco, their biggest client, is all in the hands of Roger, so they have to convince him to join their rebel club.

Predictably, Roger doesn't care where he works, and doesn't want to sacrifice his easily-earned fortune buying back the company. He forces Don to apologize, say how much they need Roger, yadda, yadda. After some coercing, Roger agrees.

They sit our friend Lane down, "Shut the door. Have a seat." And announce their plans to buy back Sterling Coop. The problem is that the price has risen too sharply, and their offer isn't high enough. McCann offered a better deal, so they're out of luck.

Speaking of out of luck, Betty announces that she's going to see a divorce lawyer, and suggests Don do the same. Don makes some vague pleas about not breaking up the family, to which Betty replies, "I'm not the one who broke up this family!" Oooh, sick burn.

In the lawyer's office, we see once again how arduous the divorce process is in New York. The lawyer suggests that Betty go to Reno, establish residency in six weeks (six weeks!) and do the divorce there. Don doesn't even have to go, he just has to consent. The lawyer then asks about a settlement, and Henry immediately jumps in. "I don't want you to owe him anything," he says, and promises to provide for both Betty and the kids.

Let's reiterate: a man who has spent a total of 45 minutes with Betty, tops, doesn't want her to get a settlement from her husband, promises to take care of children he has never met, and says he wants to get this done "as quickly as possible"? Really? I mean, really?

We then get to see another glimpse into Dick Whitman's past. In the aftermath of his decision to stockpile the wheat and wait for prices to raise, Mrs. Whitman puts the smackdown on that idea, and tells him he has to sell so they won't lose their house. Old Man Whitman goes out to the stable, drunk as a skunk, with Dick in tow. A thunderclap rings through the sky, the horse bucks, and Old Man Whitman finds himself flat on the ground, gushing blood.

So, the lesson is: if you first try to screw your friends, then renege because your wife tells you to, you'll die? Help me out here, Mad Men, I'm trying to work with you.

In the wake of this potent recollection, Don hatches up a new scheme. He'll get Lane to fire Cooper, Sterling, and himself, since he has complete authority over hiring and firing, in order to release them from their contracts. In return, they'll make him a partner, and even consider putting his name on the door. Apparently Cooper isn't the only vain one, as Lane agrees. They need to assemble as many accounts as possible and a skeleton crew to ensure continuity of services. Oh, and they have to steal a bunch of office equipment.

Don immediately starts to prioritize his staff, first asking for the whereabouts of Pete Campbell (he's out sick) then yelling for Peggy to join him in his office. First off - really? Pete Campbell? The dude who tried to blackmail you and is an asslicking, ineffective ninny? Really, Don?

Anyway, his second choice, Peggy, also ends up disappointing. After assuming that she'll follow him, Peggy stands up for herself, saying that won't follow Don around like a nervous poodle, and doesn't want to make a career out of standing in his shadow, being blamed for his mistakes and getting none of the credit for her work. Good for you, Peggy! Make Don give you a much better offer, or take advantage of Duck's generous offer (not that one, you guys. Sheesh. Bunch of dirty minds around here.)

So, it turns out that Pete isn't really sick, but having interviews at rival firms, after deciding to leave Sterling Coop when he didn't get the promotion. Don and Roger make a house call, and ask Pete to join the new company. In the course of the conversation, it becomes clear that Don and Roger are using Pete for his accounts, since they need way more money to make this thing work. They give him some bullshit about him being forward looking. Pete agrees. Whew. For a second there, I thought Don actually like Pete. Carry on.

Over drinks at the bar, Don drops the bomb that he's getting a divorce. "So it's true?" Roger replies. Don has no idea what he's talking about. Oooh, Roger, really? Yikes. Apparently, Roger heard about Betty and Henry from Margaret, who heard it from Henry's daughter. It's serious, Roger says.

So, in a great decision, Don decides to go home and rough Betty up a bit, call her a whore, you know, the usual, mature things you do when you realize you're not the only cheater in the relationship. Dammit, Don, don't be like that. Sure, Betty's a brat, just like you said, but your past as a hick who changed his name has nothing to do with this. You cheated and you lied for years, and don't make this about Betty. Harrumph.

Back to Sterling Coop, they hold a secret meeting to steal all the files, and ask Harry Crane to be the new head of media. He doesn't really answer, which I assume means yes. Now, down to the nitty gritty - where are the time sheets? Where are the account books? No one has any idea. No one knows how the office works. But you know who does? Yeah, that's right, Joan Holloway Harris!

But there's one important member of this gang missing from the festivities: Don. Turns out he's at home having the worst "We're getting a divorce" conservation with his kids in history. Betty says he's moving out, Don says it's temporary, Betty says no it's not, the kids are understandably confused. But you'll get to have two Christmases, guys! They only want one Christmas. Sally is convinced that it's all Betty's fault (typical) and Bobby is confused (also typical). Everyone is sad. Guys, you really should have had a better game plan going into this, and not contradicted each other in front of the little 'uns. Man, you two suck at divorce.

Don runs straight from that shit show over to Peggy's digs, and begs her to join the new company. He doesn't think he can do it without her, he sees her as an extension of himself, you know, all the nice things he should be saying to his wife right about now if he wants to save their marriage. But, it works on Peggy, and she joins the team.

Everyone assembles at Sterling Coop: Bert, Roger, Harry, Pete, Lane, Don, Peggy, and Joan. Can you say dream team? After they find out the art department is closed, Don literally kicks it down, and the move out begins.

They relocate to the Pierre Hotel, under the new mast head Sterling Cooper Draper Price. It's quite a mouth full, but the bustling, excited energy in the room bristles with possibility.

Don makes a call to Betty, reneging on his earlier, ghastly behavior, and says he won't fight her. They have a poignant goodbye, and Betty takes off for Reno.

The final shot of the season is Don moving into his new, furnished apartment in the city.

Excitement! The fourth season is set for more intra-office drama, rather than the familiar and personal storylines that dominated the second and third seasons. And while those were great, the core of Mad Men is certainly the office shenanigans. I predict that Kinsey and Ken will try to join the new agency, and Joan and Roger will reignite their romance. I'm concerned, though, that the goodbye Don gave to Betty will also be the last we see of her. Are Betty and Henry preparing to fly off in the sunset, only to be seen in tense encounters of visitation rights? I'm not afraid to say I'll miss her, and I'm very curious to know what happens between her and Henry.

Until next summer, when we see what our good friends at SCDP are up to!