A Look at “The Walking Dead” #141: “Opportunity”

The Walking Dead #141- Cover

Okay, so Negan’s supposed freedom at the end of the previous issue was an effective cliffhanger.  Now, with issue #141: “Opportunity,” we get to see just what he did.  Or rather, what he could have done.

One of the main themes I picked up on this issue was the message of choice: they aren’t easy to make, as many of us know.  And even then, it’s sometimes hard to gauge whether we made a good or bad choice until long after we’ve made it.  The Walking Dead is very big on morality and the consequences that come with killing both the living and dead, but, as this issue showed, the series also deals with the consequences of not killing because, as Rick believes, there is a better way.

The Walking Dead #141- Rick talks with Dwight

But before jumping into the confrontation, we get to catch up with Dwight and what he’s been up to with The Saviors.  First off, despite the obvious friction between The Saviors and everyone else, Dwight has a level of respect for Rick, as he refers to him as Mister Grimes instead of just Rick.  However, we see that Dwight doesn’t believe he’s cut out for the leadership role.  It’s interesting since Dwight was the one who wanted The Saviors to follow him after Negan’s fall, but now that he’s had a chance to lead, he’s having a change of heart.

It’s understandable.  I’m sure that many of us would like to be leaders, but we don’t fully understand the amount of work, responsibility, and tough decisions that come with the duty.  This is what has made Rick so qualified to lead because he can make those tough decisions.  But Dwight is at the point where he even wants Rick to pick the new leader.  Rick, of course, won’t do that and I can’t blame him.  Dwight had to know what he was getting into when he took over Negan’s role.  Maybe it was a spur of the moment decision, but being a leader isn’t easy.

I actually would like to have seen more of The Saviors’ community after the time-skip.  We don’t know much about them compared to the folks at either the Hilltop or the Alexandria Safe Zone, so it would have been a good opportunity not just for character development, but maybe also see what led Dwight to his decision.  Hopefully we get to see the election, or at least the results.

The Walking Dead #141- Rosita announces that she and Eugene are having a baby

We also briefly get some advancement with Eugene and Rosita’s subplot with Rosita announcing to everyone that she’s pregnant.  It’s not much, and we learn that something is still nagging at Eugene, but it’s something.

The Walking Dead #141- Rick discovers that Negan's cell is open

Now onto the confrontation itself.  Let’s be frank: Negan is still one foul-mouthed motherfucker, but damn it if I don’t get attached to every line of dialogue that he’s given and it makes me wonder how the show will handle him.  But anyway, despite being imprisoned, Negan still wields a great amount of power not because of what he did in the past, but what he can do, but doesn’t.  He’s more willing to bide his time compared to The Governor and isn’t above trying to bring others down to his level.

The Walking Dead #141- Negan tries to get Rick to trust him

I really enjoyed the confrontation between Rick and Negan.  The two are so different, yet Negan believes that Rick can be as murderous and bloodthirsty as he is.  As we see here, though, both have occasions where they won’t act on violent decisions.  This, I think, makes Negan’s freedom even more terrifying because there’s so much that he could have done but, against every natural instinct, he chose not to.

It’s a good way to get inside Rick’s head and Kirkman’s move here goes against our expectations because we’d expect Negan to seek some sort of revenge against the people that imprisoned him.  And yet Negan did nothing, all in the name of gaining Rick’s trust.  It’s insane for Negan to think that just because he behaved himself when he could have gone on a rampage that Rick would suddenly trust him.  The fact that Negan chose to do nothing and gave out a laundry list of what he could have done, to me, shows that he may be biding his time.  Olivia’s mistake gave him an opening, but he decided to wait.  For now.

The Walking Dead #141- Negan taunts Rick

And it is a bit funny that Negan is genuinely upset when Rick doesn’t agree to trust him at all.  Rick has every reason to still hold Negan there for as long as possible.  Yet Negan is able to get under Rick’s skin by implying that Rick only kept him alive because of some sense of self-righteousness.  Is Rick really deluding himself into thinking that there is a better way or could he be as mad as Negan or The Governor?  Negan taunts Rick as the savior who can fix everything and spared the life of a man who has caused him so much harm.  As much as Rick might want to kill Negan, once he does, he’d go against his principles and contradict the society he’s trying to help rebuild.

The Walking Dead #141- Rick talks with Andrea about Negan

Sure, this may just be an excuse for Rick to avoid being a murderer and just getting an execution out of the way, and Andrea knows this, but Rick is looking at the bigger picture.  He told Maggie that he doesn’t like being worshipped as a hero with a reputation, but the fact is that people do look up to him as a leader.  It wasn’t his decision to make, but he’s in this role because he’s proven he has what it takes to be a competent leader: he won’t just do what’s expected of him, but go beyond that.  He wants to show that a society that abides by a moral code can work.

Even though walkers may not be as big a threat as they were before, people still have the potential to be violent and just kill without reason or when it’s convenient.  Rick won’t allow himself to be that kind of man because without any type of order, society will collapse.

The Walking Dead #141- Maggie wants Gregory's body cut down

And I’ll be damned if Robert Kirkman didn’t give us one hell of a transition to The Hilltop.  We knew this was coming, but I personally didn’t think it would be so sudden.  If there was ever anything that highlighted the leadership differences between Rick and Maggie, here it is.  Maggie is that leader willing to execute someone she sees as a threat.  The circumstances are a bit different: Gregory not only tried to turn the Hilltop population against her, he tried to poison her and almost succeeded.

The Walking Dead #141- Gregory's hanging

It’s such a massive tone shift from Rick’s optimism to Gregory’s dying face and bulging eyes, made all the more creepy thanks to Stefano Gaudiano and Charlie Adlard’s art.  We don’t get to see what led up to this and whether anyone in the area objected- notice some folks aren’t even looking at Gregory’s lifeless body- but I think this works as a positive because it makes the reveal of Gregory’s hanging much more sudden.  This is sure to cause a shakeup throughout all communities once or if word spreads.  This, coupled with Carl still traveling with The Whisperers, will bring Rick all sorts of headaches.

And with the arc ending soon, I’m going to enjoy this.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 6: “Storms and Pancakes”

What happens you get a running mate who may be more likable than you?  Then, you get Hugh Laurie.  Let’s jump into “Storms and Pancakes.”

Storms and Pancakes- Selina and Tom greet voters in Pennsylvania

The episode begins with the Meyer campaign making its way through Pennsylvania.  The mood is festive and full of energy as Tom and Selina greet voters, though the people are more in love with Tom than anyone else.  The press is falling for him as well: the New York Times did a great profile piece on James and there are positive headlines like “Best POTUS We Never Had.”  You probably don’t want Selina to see that one.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina tells Gary that she and Tom almost fucked

On the campaign bus, Selina tells an oblivious Gary that there’s obvious sexual tension between her and Tom, just going by the way he crosses his legs.  You see, the thing is, about 12 years ago, Selina and Tom almost fucked.

The campaign receives a call from Bill and Ben, who let them know that there’s a hurricane braced to take North Carolina from behind.  You can’t get that kind of line anywhere else, I’m sure.  Selina and company plan to keep up to date on it, but in the meantime, Selina tells Mike that she wants more op-ed pieces and headlines about how her choosing Tom was an act of real vision and leadership.  It’s fine that people like Tom, but Selina wants credit- never mind that it was Amy’s suggestion, but whatever.

Storms and Pancakes- Ben tries to talk with Sue

Back in Washington, Ben is bored.  He tries to make small talk with Sue, who prefers the quiet, so their small talk goes nowhere fast.  Get used to this.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah, Richard, and Doyle watch Tom James

Though Teddy is gone, Jonah still has to deal with ridicule from other staffers.  He and Richard enter Doyle’s office with notes from a tariff meeting, but Doyle is watching coverage of Tom James at a rally.  Though Doyle isn’t a fan of James, Richard suggests that the outgoing Vice President write a memoir about his interesting life.  He was vice president, the campaign polled other candidates, and he was fucked in his slack old ass.  It’s a start, at the very least.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina talks to the press about Tom

We then cut back to the campaign at a Bike for Health Rally in Maine.  Tom’s a bit rusty with his biking.  He did the Tour of Italy in 2008, but his mountain times were apparently embarrassing.  I doubt anyone will judge him for that.  As he and Selina prepare for their ride, Selina takes an answer from a journalist about whether Tom James is a star.  He isn’t- he’s a super star and Selina made a good pick.

Storms and Pancakes- Mike receives another hate text from Amy

Not all is well with the campaign on the road, though.  Amy is still pissed at Mike since he sent out a press release saying she resigned because she’s unstable.  I mean, Amy is unstable, but it’s best not to put that out there.  Kent doesn’t get vendettas since they’re so time-consuming.  I can’t agree more.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan introduces Amy to Sidney Purcell

So what’s Amy up to now?  She’s at PKM Offices with Dan, but is still upset about the falling out.  Hell, the campaign is going to a pancake breakfast- something she suggested, but got shot down.  Dan tells her to clamp down on the complaints and then introduces her to Sidney Purcell, who has a GMJ client he needs tied up.  Some West Wing access would help.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina asks Tom about that one night

Selina talks with Tom about their shared moment from long ago after the Sharpley debate when they shared a cab, but Tom has no idea about this scandalous adventure.  In fact, he’s more focused on the green shoes that Selina wore.

When Selina informs Gary about Tom’s cluelessness on that night, she rejects Gary’s offer to talk to Tom himself.  She needs him to stop doing things for her, which is a reminder for the pancake breakfast tomorrow: she’s going commando, as in she wants no prompting.  I don’t recall that being what going commando means, but fine.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan throws a party for himself

Dan throws a welcome back celebratory party for himself because he’s just that vain.  Amy, though, is still bitching and keeps on doing so when the two enter a parking garage.  Dan reminds Amy that she loves D.C. and just needs a way to release it.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy's scream attracts police officers

She does so by screaming at the top of her lungs.  This, by itself, isn’t the best idea, but it’s made much worse when two officers exit a nearby police cruiser.  Initially, they think Dan is the problem, but Amy assures them that she’s fine.  Dan suggests that Amy find a different way to unwind.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah joins other women who Teddy has touched

Later, Jonah and Richard meet with a group of women at Senator Wilkie’s office.  Senator Wilkie, though, is not present.  So what are these women doing here?  They’re all victims of Teddy Sykes’ inappropriate touching and are filing a class action suit.  Oh, and they’d like Jonah to testify.  Jonah is apparently the only male that Teddy touched so far.  There are several jokes in here somewhere.

Storms and Pancakes- Preparing for the pancake breakfast

On the campaign trail, Kent goes over the setup for the pancake breakfast.  However, after enough work, Selina needs to take a break from the preparation.  She might vomit on…Mike.  What made her single out Mike specifically, I don’t know.

Storms and Pancakes- Greeting people at the Pancake Brunch

We then cut to the Pancake Brunch at the Connecticut Country Club.  Selina and Tom greet various attendees, including Congressman Edgar Housman, played by Chris Kies, who has never met Selina before.  Again, Tom has that persona touch that Selina lacks, but at least she’s trying.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy tries and fails to relax at a spa

So Amy goes to a spa and tires that whole relaxation thing, but this is Amy, so she can’t help but check her phone and glance at Politico.  After relaxing for about seven minutes, Amy has had enough and leaves.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy wins a client

Back at PKM, Amy, through means I can’t really understand, manages to land business with a client, Paul, played by Brad Morris.  In fact, Amy has somehow done so well that Sidney decides to give her some of Dan’s biggest clients.  Oh, and she also gets his parking space and desk.  Ha!

Selina still isn’t winning the crowd like Tom is, but some good news heads her way when Ben lets her know that the storm is near.  This is a potential tragedy that could be great for her.  It’s also great for Ben, because when it’s just him and Sue, he feels like it’s just him.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom suggests heading to North Carolina now instead of later

On Air Force One, the plan is to wait in D.C. for the storm to pass, and then head to North Carolina.  Tom suggests going there now before the storm hits.  As soon as the hurricane passes, Selina will be there for the citizens in their hour of need.  That’s a Tom James of an idea!  That’s also how you master a disaster.  Despite Gary’s warning about wind, Selina decides to have the plane turn around and head for North Carolina.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina speaks with North Carolina Governor Cecile, played by Carolyn Mignini

The campaign has a conference call with North Carolina Governor Cecile, played by Carolyn Mignini.  A state of emergency in her state would shut down travel and cost millions.  Upon recognizing Tom James, however, Governor Cecile softens.  Selina tries to talk with the team without Cecile hearing or reading their lips, so they all turn their chairs around.  How very Seinfeld.

Tom thinks it would be unfair on Senator O’Brien and his running mate if there were a travel lockdown because they would be stranded in Florida. They would not be able to visit the disaster site like Selina’s team campaign.  Just throwing that into the barbecue sauce.  Selina decides to ground flights.  Tom sweetens the deal with a light dusting of federal funds.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina learns that the hurricane went south and is headed for North Carolina

In North Carolina, though, there’s no hurricane.  There’s no wind, no rain, no sign of any real storm at all.  Turns out that the storm moved south and is headed to Florida, meaning O’Brien and Montez will get the storm photos and headlines.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah meets with Louise Benjamin from Cabinet Affairs

Jonah meets with Louise Benjamin from Cabinet Affairs, as she’s collecting agency responses.

The episode comes to a close with the Meyer campaign surveying the minimal damage of an egg plant.  And I do mean minimal damage.

“Storms and Pancakes” is a transition episode.  The Meyer campaign is still moving right along, but now the mood has changed for the better since Tom James’ arrival.  This is both a good and bad thing.  Again, a running mate can make the presidential candidate look better in areas where they’re weak.  We don’t know yet what areas in policy Tom may outclass Selina, but we do know from this episode that he’s a more relatable kind of guy.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom and Selina serve pancakes

Without doing any sort of scientific research and just going off the flurry of political ads that we get in the States, politicians really want voters to like them.  Whether it’s holding town halls, kissing babies, volunteering at shelters, and tons of shaking hands, our politicians want to come off as relatable.  If they try too hard, we’ll know it’s not genuine and that they’re just doing it for the votes.  This is what Selina’s doing.  Not to say that Selina isn’t a relatable person, but within the context of this episode, she’s pushing for good press.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom serves pancakes

Tom, however, doesn’t need to do that.  Part of it has to do with the charm of Hugh Laurie’s performance, but Tom James just comes off as a nice guy.  He’s personable with people and never comes off like he’s trying to force an association.  Sure, it helps that he already has a lot of established connections with people, but he never acts like he knows someone that he clearly doesn’t, as Selina does.  Some would call this sort of kindness annoying, but I think it helps set James apart from the rest of the campaign team.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina wants credit for picking Tom

Remember that on “Convention,” Ben said that everyone likes Tom, and that’s very clear here from how he’s able to click with people.  There’s nothing fake about him right now- he just appears to be a nice guy.  This is the kind of person that Selina needs and he’s not trying to one-up her.  The press just happens to like him more, but Selina wants credit and does not want to be taken out of the spotlight.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom charms the voters

For example, before the campaign leaves Pennsylvania, Tom charms the crowd with some funny one-liners.  Not to be outdone, Selina steps off the campaign bus with a funny remark of her own…not because she has to, but because she might not want Tom to have the last word and the crowd to have a lasting impression of him instead of her.

We don’t know yet whether he’s feigning ignorance about this night he shared with Selina or just doesn’t know, but he seems to have his mind on other things.  Tom is a bit quirky to me, but in a good way.  I love his random fun facts that he shares and how he’s able to sweet talk the Governor of North Carolina while Selina is trying hard to negotiate.  He’s fun, but good at what he does, which I can’t say for most of Selina’s team.  With the exception of Sue, Bill, and maybe Ben and Kent, the people who work for Selina are walking punch lines.  Tom is a change of pace.

Aside from Tom interacting with various characters, this episode was a lot of fun.  It was nice seeing the team back on the campaign trail after spending so much time with legislative business.  Even then, they’re still the same people, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea that Selina and her team would take advantage of a national disaster for the sake of good press and photos.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility for real life politicians and I certainly wouldn’t put it past Selina to exploit this, but then we get the reveal that she missed the storm.

Storms and Pancakes- Kent goes over the pancake breakfast setup

And sticking with the campaign crew for a second, Kent appears to be doing a good job as campaign manager.  Since he’s not one to hold grudges or have vendettas, he may be better equipped for this position than either Dan or Amy.  Granted, we haven’t seen Kent do much and even Amy seemed better than Dan during her first few days, but Kent seems more competent at his job.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy screams

Amy and Dan, though, are working together again, but Amy just cannot get the White House off of her mind.  It shows how connected she was to that job, but also how hard wired she is to work in general, as she can’t bring herself to relax for even a moment without glancing at her phone.  Chlumsky is still great at letting Amy’s inner rage fly and I loved that scream in the parking garage.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan celebrates himself

Yet Dan is back in competition with her and she’s somehow managed to one-up him in no time at all.  I don’t get how she did that when they both presumably have the same contacts and access to the White House, but Amy looks to be ahead of Dan for now.  This just makes me wonder why Dan would go through the trouble of helping Amy get a job in the first place when there’s the possibility of her surpassing him, which she’s now done.  These two could work well together if they put their differences aside and acted like good people, but this being Veep, that’s probably not going to happen.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah realizes that all the other women look like him

Jonah is the only man whose been inappropriately touched by Teddy and all of the other victims are not only female, but they all look like him.  The jokes literally write themselves and Richard is just so straight laced and open about everything that he helps to balance out the more hard-wired Jonah.  And I loved Richard’s line about how “a number of tall women were molested and Mr. Ryan was one of them.”  Good writing and a great delivery by Sam Richardson.

Storms and Pancakes- Sue hides from Ben

And Ben trying to have a conversation with Sue of all people was as funny as it was awkward.  If the office was completely empty, I’m certain that Ben would lose his mind while Sue would just go on with business as usual.  Though I honestly don’t know what she does all day.

“Storms and Pancakes” was another great installment of Veep.  Each storyline was executed effectively and had great humor throughout.  Amy is back on her feet, sort of, Jonah now realizes his potential future as a middle aged woman, and Tom James is taking off with the voters.  Onward to next week.

A Look at “Orphan Black” Season 3, Episode 5: “Scarred by Many Past Frustrations”

Cosima gets lucky, as does Gracie, while Sarah and Helena have to try and work together.  That should be easy, right?  Let’s jump into “Scarred by Many Past Frustrations.”

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- The scorpion talks to Helena

The episode begins with Helena’s favorite scorpion chiding her for killing Parsons.  Soon, she’ll be suffering the same way Parsons did.  Helena finds a tack in the sand and the scorpion crawls to another cell.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- The scorpion finds Sarah

And it’s the very cell where Sarah is being kept right now.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Miller, Dr. Coady, and Dr. Silva look at the body of the baby in the coffin

Miller, Dr. Coady, and a doctor we’ll identify in a second, look at the body of the baby in the coffin.  Its DNA sequence doesn’t have the synthetic sequences that made the Castor clones viable.  Viable, but defective.  But by comparing the genomes, they can potentially isolate the defect and maybe even develop a gene therapy.  The problem?  The major is returning and he won’t be happy about the new guest.  So Dr. Coady tells Miller that he’ll be leaving.  Coady will debrief Mark.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Sarah talks with Helena

Sarah awakens and realizes that her cell is opposite Helena’s.  Sarah needs her help, but Sarah is still feeling burned about being put there.  She blames Sarah for her confinement and making a deal with Coady, though neither of them has all of the details.  Helena, though, vows to keep her mouth shut for now.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Gracie visits Art

Elsewhere, Art checks in on Sarah, but gets no response.  He receives a surprise visit from Gracie, as Sarah told her that she could come to him if she had any trouble.  That conversation was two days ago.  Gracie tells Art about the fight she had and her exile due to losing the baby, but doesn’t want to go into details about Mark.  Luckily, Art may know someone who can help.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Cosima meets Shay, played by Ksenia Solo

And while Felix and Mrs. S are also concerned on Sarah’s whereabouts, Felix has to pass on some words of encouragement to Cosima, who is nervous as hell for her Sapphire date.  Soon enough, she meets the woman in question: Shay, played by Ksenia Solo.  When Cosima keeps babbling, Shay takes over and talks about her past relationship: the woman wore spider-web make-up and insisted on high-fives every time she thought the two had a connection.  Who does that?

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Sarah tries to explain why Helena was betrayed

Sarah tries to explain to Helena that Mrs. S did what she did to help get Sarah and Kira out of DYAD.  More than that, Sarah reveals that she had to send Kira away again, but she had to find Helena because she couldn’t take on the Castor company alone.  When Sarah gets no response, she wishes that Helena had just been left there to rot.  Luckily, Helena spent four months in a broom closet.  She doesn’t rot.

Miller and some guards enter Sarah’s cell.  They cuff and take her away, but not before Sarah can yell to Helena that the Castor clones are brothers.  Helena heads to her cell door and notices that one of the bars on the window is a bit loose…

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Sarah is brought before Dr. Coady

Sarah is brought before the mother herself.  Dr. Coady isn’t worried about Helena’s condition, as she’s convinced that a secure environment gives her comfort.  Sarah is then introduced to Dr. Silva, played by Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, who will be extracting some blood from Sarah.  Why?  Even though they have the genome, they can’t ignore Sarah’s biology, so they’re going to take some stem cells by filtering her blood by means of apheresis.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Art brings Gracie to Felix and Mrs. S

Art takes Gracie to Felix and Mrs. S.  Felix isn’t on board with watching her since there’s no real reason why Gracie can’t just stay with Art.  It’s a valid point, but after everything she’s been through, Art feels that Gracie needs a friend now instead of a cop.  S is still worried about Sarah’s disappearance, but Art assures her that he’s going to find Sarah’s trail.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Sarah is brought back to her cell

Speaking of, Sarah is returned to her cell.  Helena doesn’t believe Sarah’s words about the Castor clones being related, though Sarah doesn’t care since she thinks that Helena is institutionalized.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Cosima and Shay talk some more

Back to the Sapphire date.  So what does Shay do for a living?  She focuses on nutrition, body work, and spiritual counseling.  You’re either in balance, and if you’re not, then she’ll help you get there.  Plus, and check this out, she can see inside your soul.  Cosima decides that the two should take this elsewhere.  Oh, and someone’s taking photos of them.  Who?  We don’t know yet.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Dr. Coady speaks with Mark

Mark awakens to see Dr. Coady tending to him.  He explains that he burned off his tattoo to prove his loyalty to the pastor as a part of his cover.  He did what he had to so he could complete the mission.  As for the pastor’s daughter, Gracie, Mark also did consummate the marriage, but Dr. Coady reminds him that it wasn’t real.  She hands him his first logbook.  Any intimate details go in there.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Felix brings Gracie a box of Sarah's clothes

Felix shows Gracie a box of Sarah’s old clothes.  Gracie is wise to this arrangement, though, and knows that Felix doesn’t want her there.  Gracie just wants to be free now.  She’s not embracing the Prolethean lifestyle anymore and, despite being 18 years old, has never smoked, had a drink, been to a rock concert, or been skinny dipping- all presumably rites of passage to embark upon when you turn 18.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Paul speaks with Sarah

Meanwhile, back in the cells, Sarah gets a surprise visit from Paul, who reminds Sarah that all she had to do was stay away.  He’s a major now and knows that Sarah is short on friends.  Paul intended to keep Sarah out of this, but he doesn’t back Helena learns that he played a part in her capture.  What he’s doing for the Castor clones is just what Sarah would do for her sisters.  Plus, Helena is a killer, so she’s not really all that innocent.  Plus, her mercy killing of Parsons has destroyed months of data that could have helped the clones.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Gracie looks through some old photos

Gracie looks through some photos of a happy Sarah.  She’d always been taught that the clones were abominations- less than human.  The only reason that Helena had brought in is because she was fertile, as if she’d been blessed by God.  Whether fertile or infertile, Mrs. S. says that they’re all just people, though the Castor clones aren’t any friends of theirs.

Naturally, Gracie wants to know why Mrs. S. is being so nice to her.  S had been married young.  Eloped, rather, much to her mother’s disappointment.  Her husband, John, was killed.  After that, S had been adrift and angry.  Her Aunt Joan took her in to keep her from self-destructing.  Gracie is a guest, not penance.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Paul speaks with Dr. Coady

Paul confronts Dr. Coady, as he didn’t expect to find Sarah at the compound.  Though they have the original Castor DNA, the doctors still need to extract a viable sample from the bones.  The time Paul bought will help save lives.  Coady promises that no harm will come to Sarah.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Shay works on Cosima's back

Shay gets to work on Cosima’s tight back.  After some dancing around the subject, she spills all about Delphine before also admitting that Shay is much more than she expected.  They eventually kiss, which is quite fast for a first encounter.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Sarah talks to Helena about Kira

Back at base, Sarah presses Helena for a plan, but Helena has no such plan.  However, Helena does offer Sarah the chance to be Helena’s sandwich.  In Siberia, when planning an escape, you took the weak person with you.  They’re called sandwiches because you eat them.  How sweet.  That’s a new one.

Sarah begins to tell Helena about why she left Kira with Mrs. S: she was too young and felt tied down, so she would leave her daughter with S for days on end.  Soon enough, S stopped allowing Sarah to see Kira because she was high or recovering from a hangover.  That kind of shit.  Sarah then left town with Vic to prove S had made a mistake, but that meant Sarah missed out on a year of being with Kira and being a proper mother.  Helena eventually decides to help, but Sarah has to help her as well.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Felix talks with Mrs. S when Gracie comes downstairs

Speaking of Mrs. S, we cut back to her as Felix reveals that he never knew how John Sadler died.  John had a habit of rubbing people the wrong way.  One day, that led to a drunken fight that ended with John getting a pair of garden shears stuck in his throat.  S doesn’t share this story because it took her awhile to let go and she wasn’t in a rush to relive that pain.

Gracie then comes downstairs in some skimpy clothes.  She’s tired of being cooped up and wants to go out to a club.  Felix and Mrs. S, though, have another idea.

Guards arrive to collect the meal trays.  When Sarah refuses to hand hers over, the guards enter.  Though Sarah puts up a decent fight, she’s outnumbered and outmatched.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Gracie drinks for the first time

The following scene cuts back and forth from the compound, so I’ll just detail it all at once: Gracie is given a mix of gin and juice and it puts her in a giddy mood.  She, Mrs. S and Felix start dancing and though I expected Gracie to get sick, the next worse thing happens: she falls to the ground and collapses in pain.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Gracie is examined by the paramedics

When medics arrive, Gracie is still writhing in agony, but her eyes are also bloodshot red.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Patty, played by Natalie Krill, reveals her bloodshot eyes to Art

At the same time, Art is riding along with Patty, played by Natalie Krill- the same woman who had been with Rudy- and her eyes are also bloodshot red.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Sarah passes tweezers to Helena

When Sarah is brought back to her cell, she reveals to Helena that she managed to snag a pair of tweezers from the medical wing.  She passes it to Helena through the bars and Helena puts her plan into motion: she literally butters herself up with, well, butter, and begins bashing against the weak bars with a piece of the wall.  She manages to destroy one of the bars and slip out under the surveillance camera’s detection.  That and the guard watching the footage wasn’t paying attention at the time.

Said guard comes to the area when he sees that the camera on that particular room is on the fritz.  He’s quickly killed by Helena, who tells Sarah that they’re even before heading off on her own.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Helena makes her escape

She watches out for others as she makes her way through the compound.  She scales the walls and is free to leave, but is also torn about leaving Sarah behind.  The episode comes to a close as Miller alerts everyone present on Helena’s escape.

“Scarred by Many Past Frustrations” dealt a lot with trust and the importance of bonds.  It focused on how vital it is to stick together in desperate times when we have no one else to turn to.  We want to believe that people have good intentions when they reach out to us for help, but it’s not always easy to trust others after you’ve been burned by them.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Helena's scarred back

That’s why Helena wasn’t sold on helping Sarah, even if she didn’t have all of the details.  Whether during her life as a killer or her present situation, Helena has, as the title says, been scarred by past frustrations.  We see physical evidence of that with her self-harming and how she’s scarred her back.  Self-harm is sometimes used as a way just to feel something and for Helena to not few friends on her side outside of the scorpion, self-harm is her one outlet that allows her to feel.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Helena butters herself up for an escape

That said, like the previous episode, this week showed off just how methodical Helena can be when she puts her mind to something.  For example, I had no idea she’d even been storing butter or, once revealed, why she would hold onto it, but between that, noticing the weak bars, and using the butter to make herself slippery enough to slip through shows that Helena had put serious thought into making her escape.  This makes a bit more sense than her bone key.

The scenes between Helena and Sarah were among my favorites of the episode.  Sarah needs Helena’s help and wants to learn more about their situation, but can’t deny that Helena feels burned by Mrs. S’s betrayal.  I’m glad that Helena didn’t just instantly forgive Sarah, because that would have been too easy and Helena isn’t one to just get over a grudge.  Plus, the time spent together allowed Sarah to open up about her own past.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Sarah talks about not being able to watch Kira grow up

We know Sarah isn’t the best of mothers, but rarely does she open up about how much time she spends on these adventures and how that takes away from her being a better mother.  There’s real regret in Sarah’s voice when she talks about how she left the area with Vic just to prove Mrs. S wrong, but she ended up losing more and more time with Kira.  And Maslany does a great job balancing the tender Sarah and more violent Helena all in one scene.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Mrs. S talks with Gracie

Speaking of Mrs. S, I appreciate that we got to dig into her past as well.  We’ve already seen her express guilt over selling out Helena, so I’m glad we got to learn more about her former lover.  It was a tender moment when she shared this with both Gracie and Felix.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Cosima and Shay kiss

As serious and brutal as this episode was at times, it had its lighter moments to balance out the darker parts.  Well, sort of.  Cosima looks like she may have a second chance at happiness, though I have to wonder how realistic it is to go on your first online date, instantly have a connection, and then take the conversation home.  Now I’ve never dabbed into the online dating scene because it just seems a sad way to avoid human interaction to start, but that’s a bit too fast for my liking.

These moments between Cosima and Shay don’t add anything to the episode’s plot- with the possible exception of someone photographing them- but I think we could have just left with the two of them still talking at the bar and rejoin them in a later episode.  To go from awkward first conversations to couch talk seems a bit rushed, in my opinion.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Gracie loves alcohol

Gracie got a chance to lighten up, and I’m glad she did.  She’s been wound up and repressed for so long that she deserves a bit of happiness.  This happening as fast as it did is something I can understand because this is someone who has lived a very sheltered life and has a chance to be free for once.  And at least she was smart enough to realize that Felix wasn’t up for keeping her around.  But the reveal that she and Patty are carrying a disease is an interesting twist that I’m sure we’ll learn more about in upcoming episodes.

Scarred by Many Past Frustrations- Paul looks at a body

Paul finds himself in a tricky situation.  He, again, wants to keep Sarah safe, but her capture puts Paul at odds with Coady, who is looking at the bigger picture.  Between that and going through the logbook, he’s looks like he’s having serious doubts about his involvement.

If I had any issue with this episode, it’s that I wish the final moments didn’t cut back and forth as fast as they did.  I’d much prefer they be kept separate and the moments just play out individually.

“Scarred by Many Past Frustrations” was great character building for Sarah and Helena, who found themselves together again, but on opposite sides throughout the entire episode.  It showed how useful the two can be when they work together, and yet now Sarah remains captured while Helena has a chance to escape.  This, in addition to the reveal of the infection plaguing Gracie and Patty, made for some good suspense towards the end of the episode.  What will Helena do now?  We’ll see.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 5: “Convention”

Is the Vice President really all that important?  Not like they’re of any real value- they’re just there to make the President look good and give speeches while the Commander-in-Chief does all the hard stuff.  So why is it so bloody hard to pick a potential running mate?  I don’t know, but let’s see what the folks on Veep think.  This is “Convention.”

Convention- Catherine goes over her speech

The episode begins with Team Selina watching Roger Furlong deliver his speech at the convention.  Catherine is practicing her speech and includes a mention of her boyfriend, Jason, but Selina wants her to say it like she means it.  It doesn’t sound like she’s in love, more like she’s been kidnapped by the Taliban.  Karen agrees.  Well, she just goes along with Selina.

Convention- Amy really doesn't like Karen

Amy, though, is not a fan of Karen, as she’s yet to speak a declarative sentence.

Convention- Dan speaks about zucchinis

At Purcell’s office, Purcell brings Dan in to lobby for one of the world’s zucchini exporters.  He wants to take zucchini to the next level.  Luckily, Dan is fresh from the White House and probably has tons of contacts in Washington.  However, it’s tricky for Dan to get a meeting with anyone because everyone is out of town for the convention.  Dan throws out Jonah’s name and says that he can get a meeting with him today.

Still practicing her speech, Catherine brings on Jason for a kiss.  Selina and Karen feel a need to focus on this human emotion segment, though Amy would prefer to focus on Selina’s speech.

Convention- Sue speaks about a death row inmate in Louisiana who was given a botched and new drug cocktail

Then we get the sort of subplot here when Sue mentions that there’s a death row inmate in Louisiana who was given a botched and new drug cocktail.  Since it failed, the inmate isn’t dead.  He’s half-dead, and remember that there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.  Selina decides to deliver a statement that can be repurposed, depending on whether the inmate lives or died.

Sue also reveals that she has a friend in the other camp who has a small brain and big mouth.  That’s not the important part.  The important thing is that Senator O’Brien’s running mate is New Mexico Senator Laura Montez.  Team Selina is enraged at this decision.  Montez is brilliant, charming, a woman, and not to mention ethnic to boot.  There’s nothing on the internet about her aside from the usual Photoshopped nudity.  Selina, meanwhile, is stuck with Steve Martin’s older brother, who she really wants off of the ticket.

Convention- Doyle tells Teddy that he plans to leave the Presidential ticket

Speaking of, Doyle learns about the data breach.  Between that and the polling, he decides that he’s leaving the ticket.  Teddy, though, thinks Doyle shouldn’t do that.  After all, Selina doesn’t have time to replace him.

Convention- Doyle tells Ben and Selina that he wants out

Doyle heads to Selina’s room and informs her that he’s leaving the ticket.  He’ll stay on as Vice President through the inauguration, but he’s gone after that.  It’s a matter of principle, but Ben tells Doyle that there’s no way on God’s green cock- how and why does Ben know the exact color?- that he can get out on matter of principle.  It has to be a health issue, like prostate problems.

That and Team Selina don’t want the data breach to go public.  So they bring up the sexual abuse allegations surrounding Jonah…as in Jonah’s been the victim.  How can he be a man of principle if he’s condoning sexual abuse?  I personally don’t see how it matters either way since Doyle is stepping down anyway.

Whatever.  Anyway, Selina shares the news that Doyle is stepping down and she could not be happier.  The team needs a backup, though, and they settle on Danny Chung.  Exactly what Karen was thinking.  Funny how that worked out.  Also, the folks in Louisiana found a pulse on the death row guy.

Convention- Dan has to get Richard and Jonah coffee

Back at PKM, Dan introduces Jonah and Richard to Purcell, but then he’s forced to get coffee for them.  You’re really making your way up in the world, Dan.  Though Dan tries to talk up Jonah as the man to find levers to make pesticides happen, but the meeting is sidetracked when everyone learns at the same time that Doyle has left the ticket.  Dan and Jonah decide to call Amy.

Convention- Amy still really doesn't like Karen

As if on cue, we then cut to Amy, who still isn’t a fan of Karen and wonders what she did to deserve it.  Maybe she gave the go-ahead for Pearl Harbor, but the point is that Karen is Selina’s best friend.  Best female friend, as Gary clarifies.  Hard to top that.

Convention- Selina offers Danny Chung the Vice Presidential slot

So Selina and Danny meet, though he focuses on the first time he spoke at the convention and how everyone called it Chung-mania.  Lovely.  Selina gets right to the chase and asks Danny if he’d serve alongside her as Vice President.  Chung is honored, but he’ll need to consult his wife and his Bible- he has two Bibles- first.

Convention- Doyle fires Teddy for fondling Jonah

While Mike speaks with a journalist about Doyle’s decision, Doyle himself confronts Teddy about twirling Jonah’s balls like they’re some kind of exotic stress reducer.  Furlong, also present, finds it all humorous and wishes that someone would assault his staff, meaning his penis.  At least he clarified.  Doyle fires Teddy, but Teddy maintains that everything he did has been to serve Doyle, and that goes double for fondling Jonah.

Convention- Danny Chung declines the Vice Presidential slot

Chung ends up declining Selina’s offer due to family issues, but more the way that Selina operates.  He has no problem with it, but it’s not the way he likes to operate.  Chung can’t stick around to see Selina’s full reaction- he has to address the convention.  But Selina reminds him that the Vice President is just one heartbeat away from the Presidency.

Now the team needs another choice to announce for the Vice President.  Amy throws out Tom James.  It makes sense.  People like him, he was wounded while serving his country, and he has a disabled son.  Everyone is on board with the choice except for Selina and, by extension, Karen.  Instead, Selina asks Mike to find George Maddox.  Oh, and the death row guy has died.

Convention- Selina offers Maddox the Vice President slot

Now it’s Maddox’s turn.  He sees himself as an ambitious person who knows how to get things done.  People say that Selina, however, does not.  Well, that didn’t work.

Convention- Team Selina go over potential running mates

So the team goes through more potential candidates.  Kent suggests an all-female ticket, but Selina thinks that voters won’t go for two women on the ticket.  Amy continues to mention Tom James, but Selina still doesn’t give it any consideration.  Instead, she settles for Owen Pierce.  He’s inept, but you can make inept work.  When Selina asks for Karen’s opinion, Karen responds that there are pros and cons to every candidate, so they just need to weigh the pros and cons.

Convention- Amy rages at Karen

And this is what sends Amy over the edge.  She first asks if Karen has been sent from the future to destroy her, because it’s working.  Bullshitting takes talent, Amy says, and Karen has none.

But Amy turns her rage on Selina, who has made it impossible to do her job.  In Amy’s mind, Selina has two settings: no decision and bad decision.  That’s Veep as a whole, really.  Amy wouldn’t let Selina run a bath without having the Coast Guard and the fire department standing by, but yet she’s running America.

Convention- Amy tells Selina that there will be no more female presidents because Selina did a terrible job

Amy is done…for a second.  As she shows herself out, she comes back and says that Selina has achieved nothing.  The fact that she is a woman means there will be no more female presidents because America tried one and she fucking sucked.

After a moment, Selina decides to speak with Tom James.  She asks for Karen’s opinion on that, and Karen just says that there’s a lot to think.

Convention- Learning that Amy has left Selina's team

At PKM, Dan and Jonah learn that Amy has left the team, which is why she’s not returning their call.  Everyone else has already learned that she walked.

Convention- Enter Tom James, played by Hugh Laurie

Back at the convention, help has arrived.  Enter Tom James, played by Dr. House himself, Hugh Laurie!  James greets Selina- who happens to be the one skeleton in his closet- and the two head to a room where they can talk on their own.

Convention- Tom James accepts the Vice Presidential slot

When Selina drops the offer, Tom, with deep regret…accepts!  Selina brings in the rest of the team and they are overjoyed that James has accepted.  In fact, Selina was so fooled by Tom appearing to reject the offer that she has him repeat the line over and over again.  Tom wants to sit down with Amy to find out where he fits in with the campaign, but Selina explains that she had to let Amy go.  As for new campaign manager?  Oh, it’s Kent.

Convention- Karen learns that she's being let go from the team

Oh, and Ben pulls Karen aside to let her know that she’s fired.  She doesn’t know how to feel, and that’s exactly the point.  Well done, Veep.

Is this what it’s like for presidential candidates when they go about selecting and vetting potential vice-president running mates?  “Convention” works because it takes a complex issue like picking the vice-president and Team Selina making it even more complex because they don’t have any good options.  And the options they do have either don’t want the position or want nothing to do with Selina and her team.

Convention- Tom retells his joke

Veep always hits home with the political satire, and this was no exception.  What does a presidential candidate need to do in order to ensure they’ll win the election?  Does the vice-presidential pick matter?  Well, if the country isn’t a fan of the presidential candidate, you want someone to counterbalance that.  Consider: Kennedy chose Lyndon Johnson in order to help him garner the Southern vote since the South wasn’t exactly Kennedy friendly.

McCain introduces Sarah Palin

Obama chose Joe Biden to help counter claims that he had little to no foreign policy experience.  McCain chose Sarah Palin because…well, I honestly don’t know, other than trying to garner the female vote or throw a wild card into the equation.  Similarly here, Selina wants either Chung or Maddox not because of their abilities, but because they could help her with the minority vote.

Convention- Chung turns down the vice presidential offer

We’ve known for quite awhile that Selina Meyer and her many sidekicks are, for the most part, pretty incompetent, but they at least somehow manage to get their jobs done.  They aren’t very good at what they do, but they accomplish something.  In the eyes of everyone else, though, they don’t know how to operate.  Both Chung and Maddox turn down the option of being Selina’s running mate because they don’t trust her judgment.  Given Selina’s history, I can’t blame them.

Convention- Selina listens to Amy rant

The problem is that Selina herself is smart, but she’s surrounded by inept idiots that, for the most part, don’t know how to function at what they do.  Selina has steadily been making moves that garnered her good press, but for every positive move, there’s been a negative.  That comes through in her reluctant decision to let Owen Pierce be her running mate.  She knows that Pierce is a bad choice, but she just wants to make a decision and get it done.

Convention- Amy rants

And that’s what sets off Amy.  As for the rant, I think Anna Chlumsky was excellent at channeling Amy’s inner rage that she’s been holding in this entire time.  I mean, watch the scene- Amy’s eyes are fierce and she’s shaking like she’s reached her breaking point, which she pretty much has.

Convention- Tom, Selina, and Karen pose for a photo

She’s slowly been phased out of the loop through Bill being brought onto the team and she’s dealt with the stress of being campaign manager and not receiving all of the details from the others.  And now Karen, who literally came out of nowhere, is a member of Selina’s inner circle only because of their past friendship.

Convention- Karen, Selina, and Gary discuss Catherine's speech

Karen’s inability to be decisive and just parroting what everyone else says may be what Selina liked to hear, but she didn’t have an original thought to produce.  This makes me wonder why Selina brought her on in the first place, but maybe she just wanted a close friend by her side.

Convention- Amy stares down Karen

But back to Amy.  It’s interesting that Amy has been holding onto so much anger towards her boss for this long, but we learn that she had good intentions.  Amy truly believes that Selina probably could be a great President, but she’s watched Selina make blunder after blunder.  She calls Selina the worst thing to happen to the country since food in buckets and possibly slavery, which is a great line, by the way.  This is more than her holding Selina accountable for all of her errors.

She doesn’t cut Selina any slack, proving that when she says that Selina hasn’t achieved anything and points out that America won’t elect any more female presidents because Selina did such a terrible job.  I hope I’m not the only person thinking of Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects right now.  In many ways, Amy says what we’ve know about Selina all along: she doesn’t know how to govern.  Any good thing she does is negated when she screws up something else.

Convention- Selina asks for Karen's opinion on Tom James

I do appreciate that Selina seemed to take what Amy said to heart.  Like Dan’s rant during Season 3’s “The Choice” about Selina’s inability to pick a stance on abortion, Amy cuts Selina to the core with her words, but she does so in order to force Selina to make a concrete decision that she feels confident about, not just pick something for the sake of deciding.  And this is made clear when she decides to cut Karen from the team, despite their friendship.

Convention- Karen calls Amy irritating

While I wish that Lennon Parham had been around longer, since she’d only been introduced at the end of the previous episode, at least Selina cut out a weaker and temporary element of the team.

I’m assuming that Amy will end up in a similar situation like Dan, as he’s struggling to stay afloat at PKM right now.  Like Amy, he ends up being one of the last to learn about something coming out of Selina’s inner circle, and his attempt to impress suffers because of that.

Convention- Jonah helps Dan

Also, I’m not sure why Jonah would agree to help Dan when he relished in Dan getting fired, but hey, he doesn’t have to deal with Teddy tapping his balls anymore…for now.  I hope this isn’t the end of that storyline because Patton Oswalt has great comedic timing and I’d like to see more of him.

Convention- Mike after Selina talks about eating pussy

For all the dramatic stuff, this episode still had plenty of funny moments, whether it’s Catherine’s speech, Sue’s elated face, and the ongoing tale of the death row inmate.  Plus, like many episodes, one thing that makes Veep so funny is the quick facial expressions we see from characters reacting, such as Mike’s face after Selina shoots down the idea of an all female ticket and everyone just eating pussy all day long.  It’s brief, but hilarious.  Speaking of Mike, by the way, I’m assuming Air Force One picked him and Gary up after they ended up stuck in Iran last week.

Convention- Sue's elated face

Oh, and Sue’s elated face?  You’re killing me, Veep.

Convention- Hugh Laurie as Tom James

Before Season Four’s premiere, we’d been told awhile ago that Hugh Laurie would be on Veep, and I’m glad he finally made his appearance.  He seems like a good fit, but now I’m interested in learning more about the history behind why Selina is the skeleton in James’ closet.  We’ll find out next time.

A Look at “Orphan Black” Season 3, Episode 4: “Newer Elements of Our Defense”

So much blood, so much loss, so much loss of freedom, and so much…Justin Chatwin?  Let’s jump into “Newer Elements of Our Defense.”

The episode begins with Bonnie leaving the corn field and heading toward Finch’s farm.  She opens the door and finds it empty.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Sarah finds a bleeding Mark in the field

Sarah manages to slip out, pick up a gun, and heads into the field.  She finds Mark, badly wounded, but still alive.  The two make their escape just as two other men arrive to check the field.  Why is Sarah helping Mark?  Well, she’s all that he’s got at the moment.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Jonah Appleyard, played by David Fox, welcomes Gracie

Following this, Bonnie brings Gracie home and introduces her to Jonah Appleyard, played by David Fox, who took in the Proletheans after the fire.  Jonah is no stranger to Gracie, as he was there the day she was born.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena restrained after going berserk in her cell

Okay, Helena has one of the more interesting storylines this week.  Her tale begins with…well, her still stewing in her cell, but she’s got a plan.  She starts with tying a rope around her arm and then causes such a ruckus that she has to be subdued by some guards.  Dr. Coady soon joins the guards injects Helena.  Well, I’m sure that will work.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Donnie tells Alison that someone followed him

Meanwhile, Alison and Cosima talk.  Alison doesn’t feel that Sarah should be messing with these Castor people, but as Cosima points out, they still have Helena.  Plus, if their original genetic material really does exist, that’s the closest thing they’ll ever get to their own genome.  Then Donnie rushes in and looks rather worried.

He was out making deliveries and noticed a car following him.  He’s thinking that it could be police related, not this election business.  Alison isn’t too worried, but just in case, the two will just move any incriminating evidence out of the house.

Sarah and Mark arrive at a home that appears to be empty.  Mark refuses any medical attention.  The bullet that hit his stomach went through and hit muscle tissue, but nothing vital.  The bullet in his leg, however, is still there.  He’d do it himself, but that could kill him.  Sarah will have to do it, but in exchange, she’ll want some answers.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena searches the compound, sees doctors operating on Castor clone

Helena’s arm is like a dead fish.  The scorpion tells her to get moving before the drugs start to settle in, so she starts exploring.  After all, to escape the first box, she has to know what the second box holds.  Helena makes her way through the facility and eventually sees people heading in and out of what looks like a medical room.  Upon closer examination, though, she sees that the doctors are experimenting on a Castor clone…

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Miller finds Helena passed out on the floor

Back at the cell, Miller finds Helena’s bed empty, but then sees that she’s just asleep on the floor.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Sarah fishes the bullet out of Mark's leg

Sarah isn’t keen on digging into Mark’s leg to find the bullet, but she still wants to know about Helena’s location.  Mark explains that he was on a mission for over a year.  HQ is mobile.  If his people have Helena, she could be anywhere.  In addition, his people had intel that Johanssen stole samples back before the project was shut down, but Mark didn’t find anything.  Sarah manages to feel the bullet, meaning that it’s not embedded in the bone.  With a pair of pliers, she manages to fish out the bullet.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Alison and Donnie find Lionel, played by Gavin Fox, at their home

Back with our favorite drug dealers, Alison and Donnie have some unexpected company.  This is Lionel, played by Gavin Fox.  He doesn’t work for Marci- he’s a messenger.  While, yes, Alison paid for the drugs, they weren’t Ramon’s to sell, and Ramon himself was working on consignment when he suddenly dropped off the radar.  Whatever the case, Lionel’s boss wants a meeting, so Alison and Donnie will need to find a babysitter tonight.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Felix finds Cosima pining

Felix interrupts Cosima’s conversation with Scott on synthetic sequence to discuss an important matter at hand: how Cosima is coping since her break-up with Delphine.  It can’t be going well since she’s wearing a sweater that makes her look like she’s been mounted by a llama, has on expensive perfume, has pretentious French cigarettes, and even Eskimo pie.  These are apparently signs of pining.  Huh.  Who knew?  Though Cosima is expecting a call from Sarah, Felix wants her to come with him to Bobby’s for a drink.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Gracie sees red

Gracie is getting ready when she suddenly finds blood leaking from between her legs.  Bonnie knocks on the door and lets Gracie know that she wants her to meet the others.  When Gracie doesn’t immediately come out, Bonnie tries the door and finds it locked.  Luckily, Bonnie is the key master.  I’m not sure why she has the keys since, as far as I know, this isn’t her place.

Now that he doesn’t have any more bullets in him, Mark is able to have a coherent conversation with Sarah about his upbringing.  The clones were raised together and not permitted any outside attachments, but then Mark met Gracie.  He didn’t run off with her because the clones are trained for hunting people.  Doesn’t matter now.  Whatever Johanssen stole is gone.  When Sarah asks what Mark found, she gets no response and notices that Mark has passed out.  She calls an ambulance.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Rudy prepares to head to the hotel

At the same time, Paul receives information about the hotel and makes his way there.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Alison reunites with her old high school boyfriend, Jason Kellerman, played by Justin Chatwin

Later that night, Alison and Donnie wait for Lionel to arrive.  When he does, he lets the two know that the boss wants to talk to Alison alone.  She heads to the truck and comes face to face with her old high school boyfriend, Jason Kellerman, played by Son Goku himself, Justin Chatwin.  Alison dumped this guy, but then he heard from Lionel about a couple named Alison and Donnie Hendrix that muscled in on Ramon.  Anyway, Alison promises that if Jason returns the pills, she’ll have his money back within the week and can even double Ramon’s weight.

Over at the hotel, Sarah, who managed to find the box, finds Cosima and lets her know that Mark was undercover for the military and Johanssen was Professor Duncan’s lab assistant at Project Leda.  She sends a picture of the box’s contents to Cosima, who zeroes in on the February 18th date: “S.C.N.T. Successful.”  S.C.N.T. stands for Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, which is how you clone.  This would mean that Johanssen used the samples to try and make more clones.

If he succeeded, then that child would have the exact same DNA as the Castor original.  But then, Sarah isn’t looking for tissue samples- she needs Johanssen’s son.  Plus, he would need embryos, someone to carry the child.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Gracie loses her baby

So the Proletheans mourn the loss of Gracie’s child, but Bonnie has everyone leave so she can chew Gracie out on her own.  Gracie has betrayed the family.  God wanted to punish her, so He cursed her and took the child.  The only reason she was welcome was because of the child.  As such, she won’t be welcomed back there again.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Mark finds Sarah at the hotel

Sarah gets an unexpected surprise from Mark.  She tells him that they can’t find the Castor samples because Johanssen used them to make a clone.  All they need is a little bit of DNA from the son.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Mark and Sarah at the grave site

They arrive at the house where Henrik and Bonnie lived, but have to go around back.  Johanssen said that he and Bonnie had had a child before Gracie, but it didn’t survive.  Sarah’s gonna have to dig that baby up.  Mark doesn’t get why Sarah is so dead set on saving someone who tried to kill her, but Sarah knows that Helena was only trained to be a killer- she’s not a monster.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena makes a key out of a bone

Helena, meanwhile, manages to fashion a key out of a bone.  How she managed to do this is beyond me, but hey, she is an assassin.  Maybe she learned it at the academy.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena finds a captive Castor clone

Anyway, she lurks through the compound and heads back to the medical ward, where she makes a gruesome discovery: Castor has been operating on another Castor clone, this one named Parsons.  What’s worse is that his brain is completely exposed.  Parson’s eyes widen and he grips Helena’s arm, begging her to kill him.  Helena, in a bit of mercy, plunges a scalpel into Parson’s brain and ends his suffering just as officials arrive in the room to subdue Helena.  This is a very strong moment that I’ll get to later.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Rudy confronts Sarah

Sarah finds the box, but then Rudy finds her.  He wants the box and begins to go through it, giving Sarah the perfect opportunity to whack him with the shovel.  She rushes into the barn and hides, but Rudy eventually finds her.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Mark and Rudy talk

When Mark enters, Rudy knocks Sarah out.  With Mark wounded, Rudy notes that he could end them both, but he doesn’t.  The two come to a truce, but Sarah’s still there and they need to tie up loose ends…

“Newer Elements of Our Defense” was a very good episode.  It solved an issue I’d had up until this point, which was how uninterested I was in the Castor clones.  We’ve heard of similarities to the Leda clones, but we now get to hear it through Mark’s words how they were kept in isolation and raised to be machines.  It’s a life of solitude that clones like Helena can relate to, which is what binds the two groups together.  They aren’t, at their cores, bad people; they’ve just missed out on the more normal upbringing we’re accustomed to.

We get to learn a bit more about Mark, as he’s in a vulnerable state and has no choice but to rely on Sarah to dislodge the bullet in his leg.  For a moment, even though the two don’t get along and he doesn’t want to accept the idea of them being siblings, Mark sees Sarah as a necessary ally.  They’re both in the dark about their ongoing quests- Mark doesn’t have all the information needed for his mission, while Sarah is looking for any clue she can find on finding Helena.  What draws them together is that they’re both missing something vital.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Bonnie admonishes Gracie

This episode also heavily dealt with the pain of loss, whether the loss of personal freedom, as seen with characters like Helena and Parsons, the loss of a child, as is the case with Gracie, or the loss of a relationship, as we see with Cosima.  They each have different ways of coping with their situations, but don’t always land on their feet.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Gracie learns she is not welcome anymore

Gracie unfortunately ends up losing her child, which is upsetting, but it’s not her fault.  She found herself thrust in a situation she didn’t fully understand with Mark, and Bonnie believes that this is God’s way of punishing her for disobedience.  Gracie’s loss is as much spiritual as it is physical.  She was the family’s last hope, but she faltered in her responsibility and must suffer the consequence of being exiled.  However, I think this is a major blessing for her.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Felix and Cosima at the bar

I don’t have much to say about Cosima’s pining, but I do find it strange that she is pining at this particular point.  Since the break-up with Delphine, she’s been fully committed to her work.  As such, if she wanted to pine, I figure she would have done so earlier or off-screen.  But here we see her in a funk- a perfect situation for Felix to help.  If anything, I do like him encouraging her to put herself out there.  He tells her that she’s really looking for who stays in her heart forever.  Given the losses the clones have faced, it’s a real motivation booster for her.  These moments are brief, but don’t have any real impact on the episode’s plot.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Alison speaks with Jason

Neither does Alison’s, but it’s still enjoyable to watch.  It’s interesting that Ramon’s connection would be a character we’ve never heard of before, but one who has a past connection with Alison.  Justin Chatwin is fine in his first appearance and I’m interested to see what the show will do with his character.  Oh, and how many references to Breaking Bad are we going to have with this storyline?

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena about to kill the captive clone

Helena has always been my favorite clone because she seems to be the most complex.  However odd or strange she may be, she’s still very tactical in her approach.  She ties a rope around her arm to cut off circulation and even manages to fashion a bone into a key.  As aloof as Helena can be, she’s still very smart.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Helena kills the Castor clone

And though she’s ruthless, she still has a heart.  Helena has been trained as an assassin to act without hesitation, but we see her put in a challenging situation when she finds Parsons, who is in a constant state of pain, but is unable to do anything to help himself.  Helena’s goal was to escape, but rather than ignore Parsons, she sees some of herself in him because they’ve both been left to suffer.  Rather than ignore him, she commits a mercy killing to relieve Parsons of his suffering.

Tatiana Maslany is great in this scene as, with few words, she makes Helena completely understand Parsons’ situation and how she could easily wind up in this same state.  This isn’t a kill committed out of anger or frustration, but out of care.  She’s so empathetic to Parsons that she would rather put him out of his misery than let him live one more second in pain.

Newer Elements of Our Defense- Sarah gets the bullet

Sarah’s still getting to the bottom of this mystery, but she proved herself effective in warding off Rudy for as long as she could, finding the information on the clone DNA, and retrieving the bullet from Mark’s leg.  Even though Alison doesn’t want her spending time around these folks, at least Sarah has proven time and time again that she’s capable of defending herself.

“Newer Elements of Our Defense” gave some depth to the Castor clones and gave some growth and character development to Helena after keeping her confined for so long.  While Cosima’s scenes didn’t add much, both those and Alison’s separate storylines were still enjoyable to watch and I’m looking forward to seeing where we go next.

A Look at “Gotham” Season 1 Finale: “All Happy Families Are Alike”

And we’ve arrived at the end of the first season of Gotham.  Not the best outing, either, as it comes off as a jumbled mess to me, but let’s jump right into it.  Fish Mooney is set to return, Falcone and Maroni’s camps are at war, Leslie sets out to learn what’s up with Barbara, and Bruce  tries to learn the mystery surrounding his father.  Sounds compelling, but it all isn’t.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Selina sees something in the distance approaching

The episode begins on a dark night.  Selina Kyle and some other kids huddle around a fire when Selina spots something in the distance.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Fish Mooney bids Selina a good morning

Fish Mooney has returned.  She bids Selina good morning, even though it’s night.  Gotham is weird like that.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Bruce searches for his father's secrets

At Wayne Manor, Bruce smashes a photo of his father and begins to look through the reading room for clues to his father’s secrets.  Alfred doesn’t see a point.  After all, if Thomas Wayne had a secret life, Alfred would have known.  He does remember that Thomas Wayne would work all night.  Bruce tried to sneak in at times, but the door was locked.  Why?  He figures that the secret is somewhere in this room.  Given how much time we’ve spent in this particular room compared to anywhere else in Wayne Manor, this seems probable.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Falcone's car blown up

Down by the docks, Falcone checks on his birds.  That’s cut short when some men speed up on a motorcycle.  They pull out a rocket launcher and fire, destroying Falcone’s car in the process.

All Happy Families Are Alike- GCPD putting criminals into holding cells

Well, at the very least, the cops are busy.  GCPD ends up filling their holding cells with various henchmen and thugs.  Gordon watches this play out and turns down a salute from Officer Katz, played by John Clarence Stewart, since he knows that he’s on the chopping block.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Jim finds Leslie examining Barbara

He then heads to the medical examiner’s office, where he finds Leslie examining Barbara.  Barbara is doing surprisingly better, despite her ordeal, but doesn’t want to take Leslie’s advice on getting trauma counseling.  Leslie insists that no one would just be fine after that sort of ordeal.  Barbara, though, is just glad to be alive and thanks Jim for saving her.  She eventually agrees to be counseled, but in her home.  Leslie isn’t fond of this plan, but also agrees.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Bullock informs Gordon about the hit on Falcone

Bullock informs Gordon about the hit on Falcone, who is now being held at a hospital.  Gordon also learns that, according to Essen, a lot of big wigs in the city have decided to switch their support to Maroni.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Penguin and Butch visit Falcone

At a hospital, a restrained Falcone gets a surprise visit from Butch and Penguin, who come bearing flowers and a gun.  Penguin admits to Falcone that he instigated this recent mob war and has been planning this since day one.  He grabs a scalpel and prepares for the kill.  It’s not personal, he says.  After all, Falcone was a good mentor and friend, but business comes first.  Penguin will soon rule Gotham, though Falcone vows that will never happen.  Penguin at least admits that he does worry about that, but Falcone will go first.  At least Penguin considers his future.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Jim frees Falcone and arrests Butch and Penguin

But no, Gordon enters the room out of nowhere and places Butch and Penguin under arrest for attempted murder.  He also frees Falcone.  Penguin’s defense is that Falcone is out by official decree, but Jim won’t get on any winning side.  Falcone knows the game.  If Maroni tries to rule, thousands of rivals will challenge him, thus leading to civil war.  Jim agrees.  So, he asks, if Falcone were back in charge, could he turn things around?  Falcone says that he can, but he will need two days at his safe house to make moves.

Jim takes a moment to answer a phone call from Bullock, who warns him to get out before others come to finish off Falcone.  So Jim will have to get him out of the hospital.  He agrees that Falcone is a bad man, but he’s the best bad man that they have.  Maroni is too wild to run Gotham, and that would lead to anarchy.  Falcone may have lost control, but he can get it back.

When the call ends, Jim readies to take Falcone out of the hospital, but Penguin reminds Jim that he placed Penguin and Butch under arrest.  Hence, they’re under Jim’s custody.  In addition, Penguin finally decides to call in one of Jim’s favors.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Jim confronts Loeb in the hospital

However, Jim hears Commissioner Loeb’s voice from down the hospital corridor and confronts him.  He won’t leave so the men can kill Falcone, though Loeb claims to have no knowledge of that.  Jim even goes as far as calling Loeb a disgrace and hopes that he either ends up behind bars or dead.  Hope, Loeb says, is for losers.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Jim escapes from the hospital

Then we get a shootout that has nothing on Jim’s shootout with Zsasz.  Eventually, Bullock comes to save the day.  There are ambulances in the basement, so Jim is prepared to take Falcone, but he also needs to bring Penguin and Butch since they’re in his custody.  They manage to get away in one of the ambulances and escape the gunfire from Maroni’s men.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Arriving at Falcone's safe house

Soon, they arrive at Falcone’s safe house and are in the clear since no one knows about this place.  Anyone who did know is dead.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Fish's new hairdo

Wait, never mind.  Fish does, and so does her new hairdo.  Fish frees Butch, but chains up Gordon, Bullock, Falcone, and Penguin.  While Fish goes off to call Maroni, Falcone reveals that Fish’s henchmen didn’t get his knife, which is just in his sock.  That should be easy to get.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Selina refuses to free Gordon

And Selina?  She’s having too much fun with this gig and doesn’t want to blow it, even though she and Gordon sort of know each other.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Fish promises to kill Falcone and Penguin

When Fish returns, she reveals that she’s made a sweet deal with Maroni: she can have all of her territories back in exchange for delivering Falcone’s head to Maroni.  She turns on Penguin, livid about whatever he may have done to Butch.  Fish also promises slow, painful deaths for Penguin and Falcone.  She’ll keep it simple with Gordon, but she’s cool with Bullock.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Barbara talks to Leslie about her dreams

Onto Barbara and Leslie.  Barbara feels like this is all a dream and she’ll wake up soon.  More than that, Jason will be alive and coming for her.  Jason saw right through her, like she was naked.  It was scary, but thrilling.  And aren’t all the best guys just a little bit scary?  Barbara admits that she was more scared of Jim on their very first date.  He was so butch and stern.  Those types often have a bad temper, but Jim was sweet.

Then Barbara asks Leslie the completely appropriate question of whether Jim hit her…out of passion.  She then apologizes.  She didn’t mean to pry- she only heard that Leslie and Jim were dating.  Leslie does admit that the two have been on a few dates.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Maroni calls Fish an underboss

Maroni arrives at Falcone’s safe house and relishes seeing Falcone in such a vulnerable position.  Penguin has his own proposition for Fish: kill him if he must, but spare Falcone’s life.  Once Falcone is dead, Maroni will no longer have use for Fish.  Why would he need another rival in town?

But Maroni corrects Penguin: Fish isn’t a rival because she’s not a boss.  She’s an underboss.  Fish isn’t fond of that because an underboss takes orders.  Maroni tells her to relax, all while calling her babes.  Fish doesn’t like being called babes.  From this, Maroni can see that Fish isn’t relaxed at being given a term of endearment.  Fish says that they’re partners, and Maroni is fine, but he’s partner number one.  Fish is number two.  Simple math, babes.

As Maroni vows to build a new Gotham and whip the town like a rented mule, he continues to call Fish ‘babes.’  But don’t call her that, or toots.  It’s a women’s lib thing.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Fish shoots Maroni dead

So Fish shoots Maroni in the head.  Well, that was a bit unexpected.  The shootout begins.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Falcone is out of the game

Jim, Harvey, and Falcone manage to escape.  If they can make it to 7th Avenue without being spotted by Fish’s fishes, they’ll be home free.  Jim considers Maroni’s death a lucky break since Falcone is the least worst option.  However, this day has given Falcone a long time to look at the world that he’s created.  He’s done with the business and plans to go down south.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Selina finds Gordon, Bullock, and Falcone

When the three hear some of Fish’s fishes, they hide in the back of a truck, where they’re soon spotted by Selina, who just had to say ‘Cat got your tongue.’

They’re brought to Fish, who now fancies herself as the possibly new Queen of Gotham.  Luckily, Falcone’s backing out, so not like she’ll have major competition.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Penguin with a machine gun

Oh, hey, Penguin.

Leslie and Barbara have been skirting around the subject, but Leslie asks about what happened to Barbara during her captivity.  But then Barbara wants to know if Jim ever said that he loved Leslie.  Fair is fair since she’s telling all of her secrets.  Leslie says that no, Jim hasn’t said that- even though we know that’s not true.  Barbara feels that Jim will since Leslie is gorgeous and smart.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Barbara tells Leslie about what happened between her and Jason

When Barbara begins to talk, we don’t hear any of it.  We just join her as she finishes.  She has no idea how long she slept.  When she and Jason went on a trip, she realized halfway there that they were headed to her parent’s house.  They were tied up and Barbara talked about her childhood issues.  So she said whatever came into her head: stupid stuff like her mom calling her piggy when she was little.  More than that, her parents never nurtured her self-esteem.  They just grinded away at her soul.

Even when Barbara was killing them, they just gaped at her like fools.  What?  Leslie corrects Barbara, saying that Jason Lennon killed her parents, but no.  Barbara admits that she stabbed them several times and then slit their throats.  Well…

All Happy Families Are Alike- Then Barbara pulls out her knife

Then Barbara pulls out her knife!

Leslie runs into the bathroom- instead of just leaving- and smashes the mirror so she can have some a mirror shard.  The two fight and it ends with Leslie bashing Barbara’s head against the floor, over and over again.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Hey, Jim

Then Jim enters.  Hey, Jim.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Butch points his gun at Penguin and Fish

Back with the mob war, Fish ambushes an incoming Penguin.  The two make their way to the edge and stop when Butch points a gun at them both.  He’s unsure which of them to shoot, so he ends up shooting them both.  That works.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Penguin declares himself the King of Gotham

So then Penguin knocks out Butch, and then pushes Fish over the edge and into the water below.  He climbs on top of the edge and declares himself the King of Gotham!

All Happy Families Are Alike- Miss Kringle asks Nygma about Dougherty's note

Kringle confronts Nygma about Dougherty’s note and how the first letter of every line spells out Nygma.  What an amazing coincidence, but Nygma still says that he knows nothing about this.  He has a Jekyll/Hyde moment that, I suppose, is supposed to make Nygma appear menacing.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Falcone talks about Gordon's father and knives

Falcone and Gordon talk.  Falcone knows that Gotham needs a strong lawman, not a criminal.  Someone needs to grab the city by its neck and shake it hard, and that someone should be Jim.  Gordon disagrees, knowing that there are powerful men who would disagree with Falcone.

But then Falcone gives Gordon a knife that once belonged to Gordon’s father.  It was a spur-of-the-moment birthday gift.  Falcone didn’t think that he needed it since he had armed men around him, but Gordon’s father insisted.  A knife is a good friend when you have no other.  I guess that should sound profound.  But the point is that Jim’s father was the most honest man that Falcone ever met, but he still carried a knife.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Bruce and Alfred in the library

Alfred and Bruce have done everything but tear down the wallpaper, but still found nothing.  Alfred, for one, is tired of looking.  Thomas Wayne may have been a flawed man, but that doesn’t mean he had a secret life.  Bruce is still certain because his intuition is nearly always correct.  Bruce, I’m not sure you can use nearly and always right after each other in the same sentence when you’re not sure of something, but whatever.

Anyway, Alfred argues that even Arkham is full of men whose intuitions are always correct.  There are none so blind.

Wait…none so blind.  That’s it!  Bruce looks for a book on Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor.  More than that, he was a stoic, and Lucius Fox called his father a stoic.  But then, lots of people are stoic.  The point, Alfred, is that it’s a way of life!

All Happy Families Are Alike- Bruce and Alfred find a hidden staircase

And then Bruce finds a switch hidden in a book.  He presses it and the fireplace reveals a hidden staircase as the first season of Gotham comes to a close.

Well, that was a season.

“All Happy Families Are Alike” isn’t what I’d call a great way to end the first season of Gotham.  Heck, I wouldn’t even call this a good or decent episode.  It existed to give us a payoff to the ongoing mob war between Falcone and Maroni, Fish trying to regain her ground, and Penguin being the mastermind behind it all.  Amidst this, we’ve got Barbara going off the deep end, Nygma sort of going off the deep end, and Bruce trying to get to the bottom of his father’s secrets.

You can balance all of these storylines and have them make sense if they’re written well, but the writing on Gotham is such a mess that barely any of these stories come off as all that interesting in the finale.  The tone of this finale was haphazard and nowhere near as focused as it was in “Spirit of the Goat” or “Penguin’s Umbrella,” and I keep using those as comparisons because I find those to be among the better episodes of this show.  We’ve got violent shootouts, but Fish feels that she needs a complete makeover before resurfacing.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Fish's stupid hairdo

You know, let’s talk about Fish Mooney while we’re at it.  Not the best way to make her reappearance and try to assert her dominance.  She’s been gone from Gotham City for so long that it’d be foolish of her to believe she could try and be the Queen of Gotham with ease.  She couldn’t really think that either Falcone or Maroni would be willing to let her dictate her own terms.  Like it or not, they wielded more influence and power in the city than her.  Even if she attained more power, she’d always be seen as a subordinate.

Executing Maroni was, I’ll admit, a bold move considering that I did not expect him to die in a pre-Batman universe.  But when I’m wrong, I’m wrong.  It’s a game changer because Maroni was a major player, but killing him throws off the power scale.  Oh, and it shows why you should never call Fish ‘babes.’

And let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Fish’s supposed rapid recovery.  Fish took a pretty bad shot to the stomach when she left the island.  I mean, that didn’t look like a minor wound.  Not only is she alive and kicking, but we get no explanation as to when or how she managed to recover.  She doesn’t even feel any different.  I would think getting shot would impede her or cause some discomfort, but it’s as if nothing happened.

This makes her getting shot completely pointless.  Not that there was ever any tension since we knew she would return, but why have her get shot and leave her fate up in the air if you’re going to make it inconsequential in a later episode?  And when did she even get the time to patch herself up and get a new hairstyle?

All Happy Families Are Alike- Selina sides with Fish Mooney for some reason

And so long as we’re talking about Fish and her crew, let’s now discuss Selina Kyle and her decision to join Mooney’s group.  First, to my knowledge, Selina and Fish have never even interacted.  Okay, she’s a kid and wants to jump onto something that seems cool to her, but what does she have to gain here?  She doesn’t know Fish and is always suspicious of new people.  Given the time she’s spent on the streets, I wonder why Selina isn’t smarter than this.  She’s a loner, so I’d expect her to just think nothing of Fish.

Side-note, Selina is also apparently back to living on the streets, even though nothing stopped her from staying at Barbara’s.  Her and Ivy, who we also don’t see.  Maybe she’s a deep sleeper.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Selina with Fish

Also, is there a reason that Selina also needed to get a new hairdo?  She wouldn’t get it done differently for that charity ball, so why would she change it here?

All Happy Families Are Alike- Nygma unhinged

Nygma really set himself up for Kringle to learn about that riddle, if you can even call it a riddle.  Part of what makes The Riddler so interesting is that he can’t help himself but leave clues to his crimes.  Again, though, Nygma is an intellectual, not some jealous murderer.  There’s a reason he’s one of Batman’s most intelligent adversaries, but then, this is very early in his journey.

It was still foolish of him to bring Dougherty’s body into the GCPD and even leave that sort of clue because it’s a pretty easy one.  But then, none of Nygma’s questions or riddles have been difficult.  I just wish Nygma was a bit more crafty and cunning instead of obvious.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Falcone gives Jim his father's knife

What isn’t obvious- because I suck at transitions- is why Falcone has chosen this moment to leave Gotham.  He’d already been betrayed by Fish one time, but that reinvigorated his drive to stay in Gotham and solidify his reign.  He’s not as bad as Maroni in that he actually wants to turn the city around, but I don’t see how this particular encounter made him rethink his decision.  Was it Fish’s hairdo?  It probably was.  Could he have remained in power and been on somewhat good terms with Gordon?  Possibly, especially after revealing that he knew Gordon’s father, but with him leaving, this partnership looks to be up in the air for now.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Barbara unhinged

Barbara, Barbara, Barbara.  What in the hell?  Good on the show for actually following up on her seeing her parents killed, but then we get the reveal that she committed the murders all along.  She has, to be frank, gone off the deep end.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Barbara and Leslie talk

Barbara has been a very indecisive character, and I imagine a lot of that has to do with the writers not knowing how to handle her, but making her go down this route is strange, but not an unwelcome one.  She was seduced by Jason’s…well, it wasn’t charm, but something.  She looked to be in her own little world and wanted Jason to return to her, despite what he did to her.  And her reason for killing her parents was that they didn’t treat her well and hacked away at her self-esteem?  Grow up, woman.  Not everyone had a perfect childhood.  I wonder what happens to her next, if she doesn’t end up in Arkham Asylum.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Leslie with Barbara

By the way, I’m curious as to why Leslie didn’t tell Barbara that Jim said he loved her.  Maybe she wanted to keep an already unhinged Barbara from going further off the edge, but that was inevitable.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Penguin shoots a henchman

Penguin was at least a bit more careful this week with him calling on one of Jim’s favors and creating a division between Fish and Maroni.  I still think Robin Lord Taylor has the most memorable performance on the show, but I’m hoping that, in the second season, we see seeds planted of the future intellectual mob boss.  If he’s able to work behind the scenes and create splits within sides, that’s fine.  So long as he’s not reduced to just being a bumbling club owner.

All Happy Families Are Alike- Alfred and Bruce uncover a secret

Bruce and Alfred found a secret cave.  What’s it lead to?  No idea.  People have already guessed that it could be Thomas Wayne’s Bat cave, which I think is a stretch, but hey, the show killed off Maroni, so anything is possible in this universe.  Though, really, this is all the two do this episode and it could have just been one long scene instead of several separate ones.

It has to be said, this was a disappointing season finale to Gotham.  It wasn’t a strong way to wrap up the ongoing storylines.  The Dollmaker’s introduction and side-story amounted to nothing, Fish’s return and death were short lived, Barbara’s craziness produced more eye-rolling from me than actual enjoyment, and Falcone, for some reason, now chooses this moment to leave Gotham when he had plenty of opportunities to do so before.

I said at the show’s halfway point that the show needs to find its identity, and it still hasn’t done so.  I’ll give the show credit for actually managing to get through an entire season, but the story suffers from some questionable writing and characterization.  There’s good to be found in Gotham, but there’s a lot of mediocre stuff in between you have to navigate through in order to find it.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 4: “Tehran”

This is why foreign policy is such a pain in the ass for Presidents.  “Tehran” actually has a bit of continuity with “Data,” but it also has Selina continuing on her upswing of success in the Middle East.  And now she has a chance to be a hero by freeing a detained American hostage…sort of.

Tehran- Dan watches news of Selina's Middle East travels

The episode begins with an unemployed Dan watching the news.  President Meyer has had successful trips in Jordan and Egypt and her Middle East trip will soon take her to Israel.  Selina even decides to extend her time in Israel by one day, but the trip will end with a surprise visit to Iran.  It’s also believed that Selina will secure the release of detained American journalist Leon West, who has been held for two weeks.

Tehran- Selina and the team talk about Leon West's detention

On Air Force One, Ben loads up on Ambien while Mike and Gary discuss Leon’s detention- as he’s been held captive for two weeks.  It’s just a good thing that the team had nothing to do with him being detained.  Before Gary can receive some clarity, out comes a refreshed and energized Selina, who is so ecstatic with today that she decides to give Mike a two day weekend.  The team soon learns that Leon is being detained for one more hour.  Bad as that is, it’s imperative that Selina secure a photo with West.  Oh, and Mike has to deliver the delay news to the press.  That’ll be fun.

Tehran- Bill Ericsson addresses the press

Back in the States, Bill Ericsson briefs the press about Selina’s trip.  In her absence, Vice President Doyle will be picking up part of the President’s schedule, starting with the Rainbow Jersey event that supports all sexualities in sports and will feature NBA star Freddy Wallace.  Sue and Kent, watching this play out, aren’t a fan of Ericsson finishing everyone’s sentences and his apparent lack of people skills.

Tehran- Mike addresses the press about the delay

Mike, meanwhile, tells the folks on the press plane about the delay.  He’s soon pelted with objects.

Tehran- Teddy and Jonah come up with explanations for the acronym LGBT

As Richard and Jonah head to Doyle’s office, Sue intercepts them and asks if they can get an autograph from Freddy Wallace for Sue’s son, who is also named Sue Wilson.  Interesting.  In the Vice President’s office, Doyle goes over Selina’s speech while the others go over the acronym LGBT.  Jonah and Teddy have an interesting way of looking at it: L is for ladies who play tennis, G is for guys who do other guys, B is for bisexual- he couldn’t think of one to go for that – and T – is for tucking it in or tacking it on.  Richard ruins the joke by pointing out that it’s transgender.

Back on Air Force One, Selina is even more ecstatic at the positive polling that Kent has done.  She couldn’t be more likable if she’d given her kidneys to some sick kid.

Tehran- Freddy Wallace, played by LaMonica Garrett, speaks with Vice President Doyle at his side

It’s time for the Rainbow Jersey event.  Star Freddy Wallace, played by LaMonica Garrett, is proud to have the Vice President at his side.  Who wouldn’t?  Doyle gives the speech, though he has to alter it on the spot to avoid mentioning something that references Selina.

Tehran- Abbas, played by Navid Negahban, talks with Mike and Leon

At the hotel where West is being kept and soon released, Mike speaks with Abbas, played by Navid Negahban, mentions to both Mike and Leon that both countries had to deny the visit, but can now confirm.

Tehran- Amy learns that Kent polled the Vice President

As Kent and Amy watch the address, Kent mentions- Jonah within earshot of this- the polling that revealed Doyle is perceived as being very wooden.  Kent only did the polling against other potential running mates, but Selina apparently promised Doyle that he would be on the ticket and her team wouldn’t poll other possible running mates.  Well, no one told Kent that.  In another miscommunication snafu, Amy sums it up well: “Yet again, the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing and the freakish middle hand is punching me repeatedly in the tits.”

Tehran- Sidney Purcell, played by Peter Grosz, shows Dan around PKM offices

At PKM, Dan catches a break as he’s shown around an office building by Sidney Purcell, played by Peter Grosz.  Purcell has a proposition for Dan that involves him taking on clients who are best served by him shitting on the Meyer agenda.

Tehran- Selina has a photo-op moment with Leon

Mike brings Leon aboard Air Force One and he has a photo-op moment with Selina.  Of course, she’s there to welcome him back from captivity, right?

Tehran- Teddy grabs Jonah's balls again

Teddy confronts those lovely legs of Jonah’s.  He’s blames the Rainbow Jersey mishaps on Jonah who, in turn, spills that Kent polled other candidates for Vice President.  So the plan from the VP’s office is to leak that Doyle is dissatisfied and considering walking.  Jonah plans to get right on it through his media contacts- starting with Liz Kerrigan.

Tehran- Leon speaks with Selina about his detention

Selina is still on her presidential high for the good she’s done.  People are even comparing her to Nixon.  Not so much for Nixon’s looks, but Selina will take the compliment anyway.  However, she needs to hear what happened with Leon, so she has Gary get some of the press clippings.  Then Selina tells Leon that the talks in Israel went so well that she was delayed by a day in getting to Iran.  Coincidentally, Leon’s release was delayed by a day.

Word gets to Mike and Ben that Liz Kerrigan ran a story about Doyle being unhappy.  More than that, Selina is worried about Leon thinking that the only reason his release was delayed because Selina’s arrival was delayed by a day.  Thus, he could figure out that they didn’t okay his release until now, meaning he could write something negative about all of this.  It’d look pretty bad if people thought that American government detained an American journalist just to secure a photo-op.  Just as Leon threatens to inform the journalists on the press plane, Selina decides to detain him on Air Force One.  Oh, Mike and Gary aren’t onboard, so this could be a problem.

Tehran- Dan meets Erica

Back at PKM, Purcell enlists Dan to get some new clothes with the help of Erica.  Tonight, Dan will be on television as a political commentator.  However, the company has started lobbying for glacé cherries, so he needs to incorporate that into his discussion.

Tehran- Gary and Mike watch Air Force One take off without them

Mike and Gary watch Air Force One take off from a distance and they’re unable to do anything about it.  Now they have to find the backup plane.

Tehran- Leon figures out why he was detained

Leon starts to piece the events together: the US Government plans a secret trip and the Iranians ask them to confirm this, but they deny a secret trip because then it wouldn’t be a secret.  The Iranians detained Leon because of this, but then he was delayed an extra day as well because the President wanted to grab headlines for freeing an America she deliberately did not de-detain.

Tehran- Jonah talks about Teddy groping him

Jonah and Richard, meanwhile, are en-route to the base with Leon’s mother, played by Mary Joy.  Bill and Kent contact Jonah to find out what’s happening in the VP’s office, and all Jonah can mention is the number of times that Teddy has patted, groped, grabbed, and overall just had his hands all over Jonah’s nuts.  Oh, Sue and Catherine are present for this call, though Catherine is just there to announce that she’s gotten engaged.  Sue’s just there to take notes.  Well, they didn’t get much out of this except a funny story.

Tehran- Mike and Gary on the backup Air Force One

Mike and Gary arrive at the backup plane, but it’s broken.  There’s actually a backup Air Force One.  They need to get on the press plane, even though the press despises Mike.  So the two decide to stock up on alcohol.  That works for bribing, right?

Tehran- Eric and Kent tell Selina about the polling

Kent and Ben call Selina to let her know that they’re worried since Doyle knows about the polling.  Only now does Selina learn what Kent had been doing, but he thought it’d be useful to see how Doyle had been performing as Vice President.  It produced some interesting results…results that he will report at a less angry moment.

Never fear, the two have a plan of action: tell Doyle about the stolen data used to target bereaved parents.  This will bind him to them, plus elements of his office were CC’d on emails mentioning the breach.  Given the sensitivity of this conversation, Selina would prefer speaking in code, like cupcake instead of data and use happy instead of bereaved.

Tehran- Amy and Dan on CNN, Dan mentions glacé cherries

By the way, Dan manages to work in glacé cherries to his political discussion, as the visit to Iran is the glacé cherry on the cake of Selina Meyer’s tour.  Afterwards, he and Amy celebrate a job well done later on at a bar, though Dan would also like some access to the White House.  Not what Amy wanted to hear.  Neither did she expect a call from Sue, who informs her that Ericsson told Doyle that the campaign used dead kids’ data to target recently bereaved parents.

Tehran- Selina talks to Ben about not being in control

That evening, still on Air Force One, Ben and Selina talk: between Leon, Kent’s polling, and dead kids baked in the cupcakes, she doesn’t feel like she’s in control anymore.  All of this confirmed that she made the right decision when she decided to bring in someone else- Karen Collins, a friend from Selina’s lawyering days.  She’s smart, capable, and organized, so she’d be a drastic change of pace from the rest of Team Selina, I’m sure.  Ben’s already asleep.

Tehran- Karen Collins, played by Lennon Parham, meets Team Selina

Everyone is set to greet Selina, Leon, and the rest when they arrive at Joint Base Andrews.  Selina isn’t on board with Catherine’s engagement, Catherine herself has no idea what Jonah is talking about when he mentions molestation, and Karen Collins, played by Lennon Parham, makes herself known to the rest of the team.  Her specialty?  Common sense.

Tehran- Mike and Gary stuck

Mike and Gary, though, are still stuck.

She almost had it.  “Tehran” continues the positive effects of Selina Meyer’s administration that we saw during the previous episode, “Data.”  She’s managed a peace agreement in the Middle East and wants to capitalize on that success by going abroad on a surprise trip that hasn’t been done since 1977.  It makes sense.  Think about how hard we hammer potential presidential candidates in real life for their lack of foreign policy experience.  Selina is already being seen as a short term President, so she’s trying to neutralize that negativity by furthering her efforts to push for peace in the Middle East.

Tehran- CNN reports on Selina's trip

Unfortunately, like everything else on Veep, it’s the actions of Selina and her team that end up leading to their undoing.  On first glance, spending an extra day in Israel doesn’t sound that bad.  If people like what she’s doing, why not stick around?  But as we learn that this extra day is what led to Leon West being detained for an extra day and that the Americans didn’t okay his release until this very moment, it stops becoming such a joyous occasion.  Not to mention that it was imperative that Selina have a photo-op with Leon.

Tehran- Selina freaks about Leon learning why his release was delayed

If you took away the humor and satire of Veep, what Selina is doing is pretty despicable since her team could have freed West sooner.  However, they wanted to grab some more positive press at the expense of withholding West’s freedom.  The team already had some good news for a change, but they wanted more.  And then trying to scramble to make sure West didn’t talk and deal with the Doyle situation in the States did show they know how to do damage control, but also how they’re still as incompetent as ever.  I swear, watching Veep is sometimes like watching a house of cards.

House of Cards

Not the actual House of Cards drama with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.  An actual house of cards-oh, never mind.

However, despite the underhanded tactics of the Meyer administration to score some more good press, there was a lot to like about this episode.  First off, I liked the immediate connection to “Data” since everyone is still reeling from the stolen government data and wondering how to deal with this.  Unlike a lot of other scandals that Team Selina has dealt with in the past, this one didn’t just go away.

Tehran- Bill and Kent talk with Jonah

But they’ve found a way to use this to their advantage by roping in Vice President Doyle, which they’re only doing because of Kent polling Doyle without anyone else’s knowledge.  It’s a huge gamble to admit everything, but Bill and Kent have a good point: telling Doyle everything there is to know could make him look guilty by association and, as a result, less likely to jump ship.

Tehran- Jonah admits that Teddy gropes him

And sticking with the Vice President and his staff for a moment, Jonah’s admission about Teddy groping him only managed to give Team Selina a funny story to remember.  It’s good that he finally got it off of his chest, but I don’t see this being the end…I also don’t want it to be.  Teddy has managed to grope Jonah at least once every episode this season so far.  It’s a running joke that I accept because I’m always wondering when or how Teddy will try to do it or if Jonah will try and defend himself.  He needs a way to get on an upswing.

Tehran- Dan and Amy talk at a bar about White House access

Speaking of, Dan managed to rebound pretty quickly, but now it looks like he’ll be using Amy as a way to get inside information about his former team.  I did like the brief conversations between the two at the bar as they dropped their defenses and actually acted normal for once.  That’s pretty hard for these people to do because they’re so consumed with their jobs and themselves, but Dan and Amy actually talked like friends.  Of course, they can’t allow that to go on for long, but I appreciate them having a regular talk.  Amy got to vent about the changing landscape at work, while Dan slowly had to crawl back into the working world.

Tehran- Amy expected Dan to say something else

I also liked how Amy expected Dan to ask something completely different than wanting White House access.  Too high of an expectation, there, Amy.

Everything that took place in the Middle East was great, whether it was Ben looking tired as hell and nodding off or Mike being overjoyed at the idea of a two day weekend.  And him and Gary getting stuck in Iran and freaking out about it was a great way to end the episode.  Now to see how in the world they get back.  Next time.