A Look at “Gotham” Season 1, Episode 20: “Under the Knife”

Continuing along from “Beasts of Prey,” Gordon and Bullock keep searching for the mysterious Ogre, who happens to find a new potential interest.  Please note, I said interest, not victim.  At least, not for the moment.

Under the Knife- Bruce and Selina argue about Reggie's death

The episode begins with Bruce and Selina arguing about Selina pushing Reggie out the window.  They need to keep moving, though, as cops are at the scene.  Bruce is angry that Selina took it that far when Reggie told them what they needed to know.  True as that is, Selina reminds Bruce that Reggie would have told his boss and he did try to kill them.  That and he stabbed Alfred.  As far as Selina is concerned, she saved Bruce’s life because he didn’t have the guts to kill Reggie himself.

Selina then tells Bruce that it’s his job to find out what Bunderslaw’s next plan is, not hers.  But then Bruce reminds Selina that Bunderslaw could come after either of them.  The man has a safe in his office, as does every senior executive that works at Wayne Enterprises.  If Bunderslaw has any secrets, he’ll keep them in a convenient safe.  Oh, and it opens with a key.  I assume no one at Wayne Enterprises could be bothered to remember a combination.  If Bruce can find a way to get Selina close, she should be able to retrieve it.

Under the Knife- Nygma stabs watermelons

Nygma stabs watermelons.  Why?  Because Nygma wills it, I guess, but he’s actually doing some testing and finds that the punctures on the test subjects are consistent with those on the victim, indicating that the killer is right handed.  Gordon enters to know Thompkins’ whereabouts, but she already went home.

Under the Knife- Leslie finds a cat

We then cut to Thompkins’ bath interrupted by an unexpected guest.  She grabs a knife, readying herself for a surprise attack, but only finds a cat under her bed.

Under the Knife- Leslie talks with Gordon about the killings

Oh, and she accidentally clocks Gordon.  At least he decided to check in on her.  He briefs her about the case, The Ogre’s targets, and how Loeb intentionally gave him this investigation.  Bullock knows a cop, for example, who came home and found his wife’s throat had been cut.  Gordon can either give up and potentially let a killer go free or he can keep going and someone he loves could be hurt.  He won’t leave and Thompkins won’t leave Gotham, either.

Luckily, Jason may have found a new playmate in Barbara…

Under the Knife- Jason at Barbara's place

When the two head to Barbara’s place, she offers Jason a drink.  He’s surprised to learn that Barbara not only doesn’t have a boyfriend, but also that she’s not the cheating type.  Barbara is insulted by these accusations.  Quite frankly, is a bus hit her tomorrow, she doesn’t think that anyone would care.  Once Jason saw the real her, he would run screaming, just like everyone else.  This intrigues Jason.

Under the Knife- Penguin speaks with a hitman named Connor, played by Clark Carmichael

At the night club, Penguin speaks with a hitman named Connor, played by Clark Carmichael, whose crew is the best at gunning and knifing in the city, as illustrated with their hit on Councilman Klein.  Penguin is in need of some help with killing Don Maroni and his lieutenants.  Connor balks at the proposition since that’s playing with fire.  Plus, Penguin hasn’t gotten Falcone on board with this, despite claiming that he will soon.

Connor rejects the offer, so Penguin tempts him.  Does he like always being number two?  Falcone always enlists Victor Zsasz on every new contract, but if Connor presents him with the body of Falcone’s enemy, then that could all change.  Connor considers the offer.  The two will talk details tomorrow.

Under the Knife- Bullock introduces Gordon to Detective Ben Mueller, played by Laurence Mason

Bullock introduces Gordon to Detective Ben Mueller, played by Laurence Mason.  Eight years ago, Mueller investigated the murder of a woman named Julie Kemble: The Ogre’s first victim.  Mueller dropped the investigation and, since then, there have been 11 more murders.  The two figure that The Ogre’s pattern of killing the loved ones of cops that investigate him had to have started with Mueller, and it did.  Mueller still has a daughter, but each one of the victims was someone else’s daughter.  Valid point, I will give them that.

Something on Mueller’s old investigation notes had been scratched out.  He had been doing background on the dead girl when someone told him that she was a nurse for a private medical clinic uptown on Grant and 80th.

Under the Knife- Nygma finds Kringle and Officer Dougherty in the middle of something

Nygma enters the records annex and finds Kringle and Officer Dougherty in the middle of something.  Dougherty soon leaves and Nygma requests some forensic evidence from old murders, on Gordon’s request.  However, Nygma’s attention goes to the bruises on Kringle’s body.  He asks if Dougherty did it, but she tells him to keep out of it.

Under the Knife- Bruce tells Alfred that he plans to attend the Wayne Enterprises Charity Ball

Meanwhile, at Wayne Manor, Bruce tells Alfred that he plans to attend the Wayne Enterprises Charity Ball.  All the senior management will be there, so it would be good for people to see that a Wayne is still at the head of the company.  Bruce then asks Alfred if he ever had to kill people while in the army and whether it was necessary.  Alfred responds that, sometimes, it was.

Alfred intends to attend the ball as well, but Bruce tells him to stay home so he can continue his recovery.  After all, there will be hundreds of people there and Alfred won’t let Bruce walk into the vipers’ nest alone.  Luckily, Bruce won’t be alone, as he’s invited Selina Kyle.  Huh.  Alfred figures that Bruce is a young man and Selina is a very pretty young girl.  Bruce makes it clear that it’s not like that, but doubles back when he realizes that the alternative would mean admitting why he’s inviting Selina in the first place.  Alfred will at least wait in the car if Bruce needs anything.

Under the Knife- Gordon and Bullock meet with Dr. Darren Cushman, played by Michael McCormick

At the aforementioned medical clinic, Gordon and Bullock meet with Dr. Darren Cushman, played by Michael McCormick.  Dr. Cushman is familiar with Julie Kemble, but she had only just started working there before her murder.  She’d been recommended by a patient, and Cushman won’t give up the name due to confidentiality.  Looks like the detectives are gonna need a warrant.

Under the Knife- Car rushes toward Gordon and Bullock

As the two head out, though, Gordon spots a car in an alley- the same car that was in front of the precinct.  The driver turns on the car and rushes toward two, but they manage to evade it.

Under the Knife- Gordon and Bullock tell Captain Essen what happened

Back at GCPD, they inform Essen about what happened.  She wants them to be completely sure that this is the guy they want.  Though Gordon didn’t see his face, he’s sure that it’s the same man.  An officer informs Gordon that he has an urgent call, which turns out to be Jason.  No point in tracing this call, though, as Jason won’t be long.  Gordon gives Jason one chance to turn himself in, but Jason mocks the positive press that Gordon has been receiving as the “rising star of the GCPD.”  If Gordon stays the course, Jason will kill someone that he loves.  This is Gordon’s only warning.

Gordon isn’t deterred.  Since Jason is used to intimidating cops, the officers have to show that they’re not afraid of him.  And how?

Under the Knife- Gordon holds a press conference about The Ogre killings

With a very public press conference with Jim calling out The Ogre’s killings.  GCPD will be providing the names and photos of all of the victims.  If anyone has information, Gordon asks them to please call.

Under the Knife- Selina receives gifts from Bruce

So Selina and Barbara learn that they’ll both be attending the Wayne charity ball.  As they both realize this, Selina receives a delivery of many dresses and items she can use to transform herself for this occasion.  I honestly don’t know why Bruce is sending Selina so much when he knows that she isn’t that kind of girl.

Good news for Bullock and Gordon: they receive their warrant from Judge Harkness.  The recommendation for Kemble came from a Miss Constance van Groot.  Van Groot, as it turns out, is one of Gotham’s oldest families.

Under the Knife- Penguin finds Maroni sweet talking his mother

Over at the night club, Penguin has good news that Connor and his crew are on board, but Butch has some bad news: Maroni and his crew are at the club right now and Maroni himself is sweet-talking with Penguin’s mom.  Though Penguin tries to break this up, Maroni has Oswald take a seat instead.

Bruce goes to Barbara’s and picks up Selina, who looks like an actual doll.  Surprisingly, her hair remained unchanged.

Under the Knife- Gordon and Bullock cut down Jacob Skolimski, played by Daniel Davis

Gordon and Bullock check out the van Groot mansion and find a man trying to hang himself.  The detectives cut him down before he expires.  Gordon remains with him and Bullock checks upstairs, but he makes a grim discovery and calls out to Jim.

Under the Knife- Miss Constance van Groot's decomposed body

He arrives and finds the decomposed body of Miss Constance van Groot.

under the Knife- Bullock and Gordon talk to Jacob

The man’s name is Jacob Skolimski, played by Daniel Davis.  Though he isn’t talking, Gordon and Bullock figure that he was Constance van Groot’s butler.  If he tried to kill himself, that must mean he knew the detectives were close, so he must be in touch with his son.  According to Alvarez, though, there’s nothing in the system on the son.  The two have to make Jacob talk.

But he won’t.  He claims to not know anything about his son committing these murders.  His son made one mistake, but nothing after that.

Under the Knife- Bruce and Selina talk about Reggie's death again

At the charity ball, Bruce and Selina dance.  Bruce wants to talk about what happened last night with Reggie and how it can never happen again.  Even if Selina says that he doesn’t have the guts, and even if Bruce wanted to kill Reggie, he admits that there is a line that he won’t cross.  Selina, however, would, if given a second chance, and she wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.  The two eventually spot Bunderslaw.

Under the Knife- Nygma confronts Officer Dougherty with a riddle about love

Nygma confronts Officer Dougherty with a riddle: I can start a war or end one.  I can give you the strength of heroes or leave you powerless.  I might be snared with a glance, but no force can compel me to stay.  What am I?

The answer is love.  And Miss Kringle has given her love to him, but Dougherty hurts her in return.  However, Dougherty reminds Nygma that some women need a firm hand, maybe double for someone like Kringle.  Nygma hasn’t been with a woman, so not like he can relate, either.  Though Nygma says that he won’t let Dougherty hurt Kringle, he’s not in a position to do anything yet.

Under the Knife- Jacob talks about his son

Jacob starts talking to the detectives.  Miss van Groot kept herself sealed off from the world, but she doted on Jacob’s son and treated him as her own.  With the mother out of the picture, he started thinking that he was van Groot’s secret son.  Jacob tried to tell his son that this wasn’t true, but he’d already conjured up this fantasy and Miss van Groot kept leading him.  Ten years ago, the son confronts her, demands she acknowledge him, and that he be included in her will.  She laughed it off as a big joke, which led the son to kill her.

He called his father to let him know that the police would be coming, but Jacob still hasn’t seen his son since the day he killed Miss van Groot.  When the detectives tell Jacob that his son has been seducing and killing women for almost a decade, he laughs.  You ever hear of a face only a mother could love?  Jacob shows the detectives two pictures.  This could mean that the detectives have been chasing the wrong person the entire time.

Under the Knife- Jim goes back to Dr. Cushman

Jim goes back to Dr. Cushman, who is shown a photo of the man.  Though he doesn’t have to talk, Gordon just asks him to nod if he ever operated on this man.  He did.

Under the Knife- Jason's original face

Oh, and that’s the face.  Sheesh.  Maybe this guy should have been Harvey Dent, but then he’d technically already be Two-Face.

Under the Knife- Maroni talks to Gertrude about Oswald's darker side

Over at the nightclub, just as things are starting to wrap up, Maroni has a question for Gertrude: is she pretending that her son is only a nightclub owner or is she really that stupid?  Maroni tells Gertrude all about her cold-blooded psychopath of a son who has killed before and is now playing his own mother for a fool.  Penguin tries to downplay this, but Maroni’s tactics work and Gertrude passes out.  His job accomplished, Maroni leaves.

Under the Knife- Barbara and Jason dance

At the ball, Barbara and Jason dance.  He’s not on the list, but he did make a generous $10,000 donation.  If Barbara didn’t show up, though, he’d have just made a generous donation…and be short $10,000.  But he feels a connection to Barbara, as someone once told him that one would ever love him.  He knows what it’s like to be one person on the inside and have the world see another.  Jason lived like that and it almost destroyed him.  Who he is now is a product of his own creation.  He can bring that same life out in Barbara, who is tired of hiding.

Under the Knife- Bruce introduces himself Sid Bunderslaw, played by Michael Potts

Bruce introduces himself Sid Bunderslaw, played by Michael Potts, who is the Director of Physical Operations at Wayne Enterprises, which is a dull position, in his words.  Bruce keeps Sid talking while giving Selina enough time to swipe Sid’s keys, check his box, and return them just as Sid leaves.  Side-note, hey, another alumni from The Wire.

Under the Knife- Nygma stabs Dougherty

Outside Miss Kringle’s home, Nygma confronts Dougherty.  He tells the officer to leave Kringle alone and that he needs to leave Gotham tonight.  When that doesn’t work, Nygma stabs Dougherty over and over and over again.  The light flashes are a bit much.

Under the Knife- Gertrude wants to know the truth about Oswald

All right, then.  Oswald makes some tea.  He tries to blow off Maroni’s talk as nonsense, but it’s too deep in his mother’s head to just go away now.  Gertrude is no country bumpkin with hay in her brains.  That’s a funny sentence.  She wants to know if her son has done things he shouldn’t.  Is he really a murderer?  Oswald is simply a nightclub owner.  As Gertrude goes to rest, Oswald answers the door.  A man delivers flowers, courtesy of Maroni, but Oswald gives the delivery man a message to give Maroni: he’s a dead man.

Under the Knife- Penguin kills the messenger

But no.  Oswald would rather deliver the message himself.

Under the Knife- Essen, Gordon, and Bullock learn the name of the killer is Jason Skolimski

The detectives learn the name of their killer is Jason Skolimski, but there’s neither a Jason Skolimski nor a Jason von Groot in the system.  After being rejected, Jason went and got himself a new face.  Essen and Bullock press Gordon to see if Jason said anything key on the phone that they may have missed.

It hits Gordon: Jason talked about the press’ discussion of the GCPD’s rising star.  The article included a photo of him at a charity gala, but Gordon wasn’t alone in that picture.

Under the Knife- Gordon shows Selina the crappy sketch

So he heads to Barbara’s and finds Selina there.  Though she’s not a fan of the crappy sketch Gordon presents, she confirms that this is the man that she last saw with Barbara.  And where is Barbara?

Under the Knife- Barbara in Jason's play room

At Jason’s place with his many toys.

So we’re at the second installment of The Ogre storyline and we do get some plot progression, at the very least.  Gordon, being the upstanding officer that he is, won’t buckle in the face of Jason’s threat or show any hesitation since Commissioner Loeb shoved this case on him.  Credit where it’s due, that is consistent with his character, as he wants to stay true to his promise of cleaning up Gotham City.

And even if that means putting his loved ones in harm’s way, Gordon won’t turn a blind eye to a serial killer because he’d be no different than the other officers who ignored The Ogre’s murders.

Under the Knife- Barbara considers Jason's approach to life

Let’s talk The Ogre for a second, though.  Well, more like The Ogre and Barbara.  It’s no secret that a number of fans dislike Barbara and I understand why, but if I can give the show any credit, this may be the most interesting she’s been in awhile, if at all.  Jason originally planned to kill her because he thought that she had a connection to Jim Gordon.  When she said they were broken up and that she wasn’t the cheating type- I guess she’s blocking out Montoya for now- Jason got a look at Barbara’s pity and self-doubt.

Under the Knife- Barbara talks about how no one would miss her if she was hit by a bus

She talks of how no one would miss her if she died the next day- which I think doubles as a statement on viewer’s criticism of her character- and how the true her would scare away others.  Rather than wanting to kill Barbara, Jason sees a lot of himself in her.  There’s some mutual interest because they know what it’s like to face rejection.  In that, Jason hopes he can bring out a new side of Barbara, the same way he’s done for himself.  At the very least, there’s someone out there who is similar to Barbara and I can sort of accept this a lot more than I can accept the idea that Jim and Barbara were once a couple.

I’m not sure I accept the idea that Barbara would let Selina stay at her place to the point that she calls her a roommate, though.  Also, where the hell was Ivy?  I mean, she wasn’t even mentioned, but we know that Selina and Ivy both made their way into Barbara’s home.  The fact that neither of them brought her up confused me.

Under the Knife- Bruce talks about Selina crossing a line with murder

And while I can believe that Selina is more willing to kill than Bruce, I’m not fully sold on this idea of Selina being a cold hearted killer with no remorse at such a young age.  Also, I think it’s way too early for Bruce to start talking about his no-killing code.  The kid hasn’t even fallen into a cave and seen a bat yet.  We’ve already seen him develop an interest in vigilantes, which I still think is too soon, but give it some time before he starts getting into the philosophy he’ll stick to in his later years.  It’s also a random point to bring it up.  He saw his parents murdered before him, so why not make his no-killing vow right there?

Batman Returns- Bruce and Selina dance

Dark Knight Rises- Bruce and Selina dance

Under the Knife- Bruce and Selina dance again

Also, I think this is the third time I’ve seen Bruce and Selina dance at a ball.  At least they weren’t wearing masks.

Under the Knife- Maroni sweet talking Gertrude

Given how this is a pre-Batman universe, it’s safe to assume that neither Maroni nor Penguin will die.  However, it’s very clever of Maroni to get under Penguin’s skin by getting at his mother.  Gertrude may be Oswald’s number, but Maroni knows more about Penguin’s intimate and violent activities, so this is a good way to potentially drive a wedge between the two of them.

Under the Knife- Nygma laughs after stabbing Dougherty

As for Nygma, we’re watching his slow unraveling.  It doesn’t appear he’s gone off the deep end yet, but we’ve known since the beginning that this man has a dark side to him.  I do hope he’s smart about what to do with the body and evidence, though.  After all, he does work in forensics.

So here’s to “Under the Knife” making Barbara a tad bit interesting.  No Fish Mooney this week, which was a plus, and the villain stuff with Nygma, as well as Penguin and Maroni, wasn’t too bad.  Nothing extraordinary, but a step above last week’s episode.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4, Episode 2: “East Wing”

Who knew a painting could cause so much controversy?

East Wing- Mike addresses the press

The episode begins with Mike delivering a press briefing.  Selina will soon be hosting her first state visit to the Prime Minister of Israel and preparation is underway.  As the Vice President’s staff watches, they can’t help but notice that Mike has dyed his moustache.  Teddy calls it vanity.  Mike calls it Tangerine Dream.  I’m personally not a fan of either.

At the conference, one journalist notes that President Meyer is serving her 33rd day in office, officially meaning she has outlived William Henry Harrison.  You know, the war hero who gave his oath of office in the cold and without much protection.  He died of pneumonia soon after that.

East Wing- Team Selina observes The Man Who Shits Triangles painting

In the Roosevelt Room, Team Selina plans to allow Selina to have time to speak on her Families First bill.  However, there’s a concern regarding some of the White House artwork, particularly a piece of art that Ben refers to as The Man Who Shits Triangles.  Now that’s a funny name.  Oh, and you know who happens to be absent from this campaign strategy session?

East Wing- Amy and Richard stuck in traffic

The campaign manager, Amy, who is stuck in traffic with Richard.  She does keep in touch with the team by texting Dan and letting him know that she’s a latté.  Easy mistake to make.  She tries virtually calling into the meeting, but the connection is shit.  Commendable effort on Amy’s part, but not the smartest of ideas.

East Wing- Amy's frozen face

However, we do get a freeze frame of her surprised face when she manages to hear that Selina is bringing in Bill Ericsson because she needs a steady hand….it’s a funny face.

East Wing- Kent shows Selina what the nation thinks of Catherine

Kent, after asking Catherine to leave the room, brings up a matter of national security: Everybody Hates Catherine.  I mean, not everybody, but Kent ran a poll and the results show that the First Daughter has a low likability index.  Selina is initially upset that Kent would run a poll on her daughter’s popularity…but then she sees the numbers.  They stink.  No one wants to break the news to Catherine, but Kent has a knack for this, so he decides to take the task.  I’d say that’s taking one for the team, but this can’t really be that difficult of a task.

East Wing- Gary sends back the cake

Then Gary enters and tells everyone that it’s a special day- Ben’s birthday.  There’s no cake, though.  I mean, there is, but Gary has the chefs move it away just when they’re close to the room.

East Wing- Teddy taps Jonah

Elsewhere, Teddy managed to do Jonah a solid.  On his advice, the Vice President will ask Jonah to be in the Families First talks with Dan.  So though Jonah is elated that Teddy made his day and possibly ruined Jonah’s, his day may have possibly been ruined when Teddy gives him another scrotum tap.  Sorry, several taps.

East Wing- Gary speaks with White House social secretary Patty, played Michaela Watkins

Gary takes it upon himself to plan for the upcoming dinner, and the cost matters not to him.  While preparing, he gets a surprise visit from his favorite White House social secretary, Patty, played by Michaela Watkins.  All these orders, though, are coming from his group, not necessarily Selina, and that includes swapping out the painting.

East Wing- Bill gives Amy a friendly hello in an unfriendly way

Amy finally arrives and is unable to have an audience with Selina at the moment, but she does have a run-in with Bill Ericsson.  He now has a very specific title, but a wide brief: eliminate weaknesses.  He’s the new Director of Communications.  Oh, and he bids Amy a friendly hello, but in an unfriendly way.  Hello.

East Wing- Selina is briefed on the crazy triangles painting

So Selina has a very brief Press Spray with the Prime Minister of Israel, Mike and Jim let Selina know about that removed crazy triangles looking piece of artwork: turns out it was the only work of an art by a Native American artist in the building.  Now what are the odds of that?  Native Americans are taking it as a slight.  Selina tells them to have Ericsson deliver a statement that the painting was removed to be cleaned.

East Wing- Random staffer, who is that

Per the random staffer who no one knows, Selina also receives some points of departure for the possible agreements on the scale-down of blockades.  This staffer technically does have a name, but she just hasn’t been identified yet.  As of now, everyone still doesn’t know who the hell she is.

East Wing- Kent breaks the news to Catherine that America doesn’t like her

Kent breaks the news to Catherine that America doesn’t like her.  Well, there’s a perception that she’s unlikable, anyway.  Kent suggests changing the narrative so Catherine’s frown can turn into the inverse of a frown.  You know, like a smile.  Customary shortcuts to public affirmation are military service or childbirth, but Catherine won’t go with either of those.

East Wing- Dan and Jonah speak with Congressman Owen Pierce, played by Paul Fitzgerald

Dan isn’t a fan of Jonah coming with him in these meetings.  The two first sit down with Congressman Owen Pierce, played by Paul Fitzgerald, to discuss the Families First bill, specifically the pre-K program for low-income families.  Pierce’s constituents just want the money to be spent wisely.  Dan agrees, which is why they’re investing in education.  Hell, don’t even think of them as kids, but little start-ups.  There’s something inherently awful about that.

Anyway, Pierce knows all about economics.  He keeps a box of coupons so he remembers to be economical, even though some of the coupons are expired.  Pierce’s time has been taken up by his sessions on the Rules’ Committee.  Jonah correctly figures that Pierce would support the bill in principle, but is worried that an escalation of cost wouldn’t go well with his House colleagues.  Dan tries to take control by inviting Pierce to bowl at the White House bowling alley tomorrow night.

East Wing- Jim says no

Mike tries to console Jim by asking him to tell the press that Bill Ericsson is taking his job.  It would sound more amicable that way.  Jim considers it for a moment, places his hand on Mike’s shoulder, and responds with a very warm no.

East Wing- Selina negotiates peace while Ben receives notes about the painting crisis

Selina, meanwhile, tries to get some actual presidential stuff done and is on the verge of brokering a peace deal, but everyone can’t help but notice that Ben is receiving note after note about the painting.  She goes to Ben and tells him to let tell Sacheen Littlefeather to get off the rag and get over it.  And she never said that.  You know how Selina has such a way with words.

East Wing- Mike briefs the press on the status of the painting

So at a press briefing, Mike explains to the journalists that the painting wasn’t removed, but taken out to be cleaned.  It was just a preemptive cleaning, much like a juice cleanse.  Holy hell, I’m just glad that Mike didn’t say something along the lines of juice cleansing.  That line went over my head the first time I heard it, but I didn’t give it some thought until the second viewing and saw Ericsson’s reaction to it.  Anyway, other paintings will be cleansed.  No, wiped.  No…cleaned.

East Wing- Gary tells Sue and Amy that he spent a lot of money on the State Dinner

A frightened Gary comes to Sue and admits to her and Amy that he’s responsible for moving the painting.  It’s worse than that.  He wanted this dinner to be nice, so he spent a lot of money.  It’s not as easy as just telling her, but Amy tells him that his inner child needs to grow an outer man.

Neither he nor anyone else is able to get a word through to an overwhelmed Selina, not even mystery staffer girl with the GDP figures.  Those go to Kent, who now wants the GDP figures.  No, Selina’s priority is that the office needs a lot more butt-ugly Native American paintings because the first butt-ugly one was removed by some jerkoff with a hair ball for a brain.

East Wing- Dan and Jonah speak with speak with Congresswoman Angstrom, played by Amy Wilson

Back to the continuing adventures of Dan and Jonah, who speak with Congresswoman Angstrom, played by Amy Wilson.  Jonah’s proposal is a minimum and a safety check on all providers.  Wilson, though, is concerned by the fact that, within the bill, Title 2, Section 3 and Title 8, Section 5, contradict each other.  And do you really think that either Dan or Jonah actually read the bill?  That’d be like asking whether all of Congress reads the bills they force through for the sake of passage.

So instead, Jonah asks if Wilson likes Martin Scorsese because there will be a private screening of his new film at the White House.  And he’ll be there, too.  Of course, Jonah just assumes that because this is Martin Scorsese, he’ll have a new film coming out this year.  It’s understandable.  It’d be like wondering whether Meryl Streep will appear in a new film this year, and I believe she is, but don’t quote me on that.

When Wilson is called away by one of her staffers, Dan tells Jonah that he can’t lie about stuff like that.  Jonah stands his ground.  After all, he has to go to about this all on his own, while Dan at least has a staff.  He wants a staff.  The confrontation almost gets physical when Jonah threatens to reveal that Dan was the one who planted the Danny Chung torture rumors.

Wilson returns.  There are a lot of Navajo in her district and this painting news is escalating.  She’ll have to postpone.

East Wing- Selina wants to see Catherine's smile

As the First Lady and her daughter get their hair done, Selina asks to see Catherine’s new smile.  It looks happy, but the trick is she just needs to pretend she is.  I feel that can apply beyond politics.

East Wing- Dan gives Richard to Jonah to help out Amy

Back at the White House, final preparations are being made for the dinner.  Dan figures out a way to get eager Richard off of Amy’s back, so he gives him to Jonah.  Richard is ecstatic about being able to work at the White House.  Amy owes Dan one.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t have done it.

East Wing- Reviewing Gary's expenses

One hour to the State Dinner, some of the team reviews the expenses on the event.  It’s as if Gary wanted to max out America, if such a thing is possible, given our national debt.  Selina doesn’t know now and she may not need to since she already has a full plate.  Nonetheless, someone has to tell her, and given that Selina actually likes Bill, he has no intention of talking.

East Wing- State Dinner

It’s finally time for the dinner in the White House State Dining Room.  Selina slowly learns from word of mouth about how much Gary spent on the dinner.  Imagine Elton John on a day he feels fat.  I assume that’s a good comparison.  The press kept sniffing after the stink about the painting, which was also Gary’s doing.  Even though Selina has achieved something as big as a peace deal with Israel, she is now sharing headline news with a painting because of Gary.

When Selina addresses the crowd, she speaks about the power of hope and how it can outlast the power of hatred.  Hope can build, but for it to grow, you first need trust.

East Wing- Selina finds Gary hiding

So Selina pursues Gary and corners him in an office.  His hiding space could have been better.  He tries to explain himself, but she goes on the offensive and calls him unimportant.  He has suckered onto her like a car window Garfield.

East Wing- Gary stands his ground, tells Selina that she's wrong

But Gary does not back down.  In fact, he tells Selina that she’s wrong.  He is her calendar, Google and Wilson the volleyball.  He’s broken his body and allowed himself to be laughed at and humiliated, but he’s happy to do it.  Most of the time, Selina doesn’t even know that he exists, but he is fucking everything to her.  She’ll never be able to find someone who did what he did.

Oh, did he mean Labor Day, which he promised to never mention?  After that heated moment, the two apologize for their choice of words, but it’s good to clear the air.  They then bond over light sponge cake.

The episode comes to a close with Selina meeting with some Native Americans and looking at their art, while Catherine tries her hand at being likable to some scouts.  Also, South Korea wants to know if Selina would like a baby elephant.  No words to that, really.

In a rare show of competence, “East Wing” actually has Selina Meyer, the President, manage to achieve something, which is virtually unheard of, especially on this show.  One of the strength of Veep’s humor, I feel, is watching these characters trying their damndest to get something done without any screw-ups or hiccups.  More often than not, that doesn’t happen, but when they do manage to accomplish something, it’s noteworthy.  Consider, brokering peace in the Middle East isn’t small potatoes.  It is, to quote our gaffe worthy Vice President, Joe Biden, it’s a big, fucking deal.

East Wing- Negotiating while notes are passed about the painting

But it’s not the biggest deal this week.  Dealing with the painting turns into a politically correct mess as Selina and her team scramble to explain and justify the removal of the painting that none of them even liked.  It’s incredible that so much focus and attention goes to this painting in the first place and that everyone, from the politicians to the press, would devote their time to that instead of peace agreements.  Such is the screwy, political world that is Veep.

East Wing- Mike misuses the word cleanse

So Team Selina has to tiptoe its way out of a mess, but they can’t help but let one or two offensive lines slip by, such as Mike trying to describe the process of cleaning the paintings without using terms like cleansed or wiped.  Much like in the real world of politics, it’s impossible to make everyone happy.

You can’t please one side without pissing off another, and Selina confronted this head-on with last season’s “The Choice.”  No one in her inner circle is fond of the painting, but it’s an uphill battle to explain why they had it removed when they learn it was done by the only Native American artist in the building.  I’m willing to bet they didn’t even know they had one up until this point.

For the sake of referencing TV Tropes, you know how people get sidetracked by analogies?  Well, here, we have people sidetracked by the painting.  The painting is not the most important thing in the world right now and chances are that the peace arrangements will be more significant in the long run, but the painting is priority because you don’t want to piss off the Native Americans when you’re technically still occupying their land.  It leads to that awkward and uncomfortably true humor that Veep excels at so well.

But this is just one part of a larger, excellent episode.  Veep has always delivered great dialogue, but this episode stood out to me because the lines were so good, but you don’t have time to process them all before another comes your way.  It’s the little things like Ben needing a shirt because this isn’t Die Hard, Kent needing to ask Selina for something before being handed GDP figures he didn’t ask for, Amy telling Gary to grow a pair, Catherine learning about how unpopular she is, each scene had a funny or memorable line to me.

East Wing- Kent discusses Catherine's low popularity

That extends to the social commentary Veep throws in whenever it can.  Kent’s polling of Catherine and her being so unlikable mirror the amount of attention and scrutiny that pundits and even everyday folks give to the First Family’s children.  Do they even need to have so much attention and be brought out like props?  Not necessarily, though politicians do like to show off their family to prove to voters that they’re just like them.  That doesn’t always work and bringing out the family can feel more like a stunt than genuine love, but I appreciate that Veep touched upon this.  And Catherine being such a blank slate made her the perfect target for such undeserved hatred and scorn.  Hopefully she has another moment to assert herself.

East Wing- Jonah after Teddy taps him

And hopefully Jonah has a moment to just assert himself at all.  His moment with Teddy this week was possibly even more uncomfortable than their first encounter, but Timothy Simons played it completely straight when Teddy gave Jonah’s sack several love taps.  I mean, this is sexual harassment, right?  But then, this is also Jonah, who is the butt of almost every joke on Veep.  These scenes are as awkward as they are fun to watch and I hope there are more of them.  Not just for the awkward stuff.  At the very least, he has an aide now with an eager to please Richard.

East Wing- Bill Ericsson's unfriendly hello

So Amy doesn’t have Richard on her back, but she will probably still have to put up with Ericsson.  The unfriendly hello was a highlight for me, made better by Diedrich Bader’s delivery.

East Wing- Selina and Gary make up over cake

And now let’s get to what is easily the episode’s most memorable scene to me.  Gary and Selina have one of the more interesting relationships of Team Selina.  He’s literally at her beck and call for any and every reason and Selina is glad to accept his aid.  He’s done more good than bad and has put himself on the front line for Selina, time and time again, without asking for much in return.  I get the feeling that their relationship had been building to this point.

East Wing- Gary is Selina's calendar, Google and Wilson the volleyball

Even if he called out his boss, Gary has a point: he’s been humiliated and marginalized by so many people, and even Selina herself, but he comes in every day to help in any way that he can.  Despite Selina becoming the President and his role being minimized, Gary remained fiercely loyal.  He wants to stay relevant in Selina’s life, even when she has 99 other problems on her hands.  He is her calendar, Google, and Wilson the volleyball, even if Selina doesn’t want to admit it.

East Wing- Selina's stunned silence

And when Gary throws out the line about Selina finding someone else to do what he did, and she doesn’t have an immediate response, she realizes that he’s right.  Gary won’t abandon Selina because he’s done so much for her already.  We don’t know what this whole Labor Day incident is, but chances are it involved another instance of Gary proving his fierce devotion to Selina.  He’s a central part of Selina’s political and personal life and may even know more intimate details about Selina than she herself does.  Hell, he knew Catherine’s birthday when Selina did not.

I’m glad that Gary didn’t hold anything back or let himself be bullied around by Selina.  This is something he’s been holding onto for a long time.  It’s a visceral scene that made me feel uncomfortable for how harsh Gary and Selina spoke to one another.

East Wing- Gary asks Selina if she can find someone else who did what he did

It’s a testament to the incredible performances and chemistry between Tony Hale and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.  It’s too soon to tell and this could be very presumptuous, but if either Hale or Dreyfus ends up being nominated again for Veep, my best guess is that their Emmy nomination clip will be from this scene.  It was a fantastic moment to wrap up another fantastic episode of Veep.

A Look at “Orphan Black” Season 3 Premiere: “The Weight of This Combination”

I’ll be frank: Orphan Black is a series I only got into a few months ago thanks to a recommendation by a good friend.  As such, I’ve been playing catch-up since last fall.  Now that I’m caught up, I thought I’d give it a crack.  Granted, I’m not as well versed on this series- or any series, really- as fans and followers of the show are, so my analyses and critiques may have some faults, but that’s the case with everything I write, if I’m honest.  Anyway, let’s jump into the Season Three premiere: “The Weight of This Combination.”

The Weight of This Combination- Helena's dream sequence

The season begins with, appropriately, a box…or, rather, a very pregnant Helena opening a box while at her baby shower.  It’s a very joyous occasion and nothing could possibly ruin this moment.  Felix is cooking some ox liver- why?- Alison whipped up some desserts and Cosima is even better thanks to the miracle of science.

The Weight of This Combination- Scorpion crawls out of Helena's clothes

Yeah, enough of this gooey shit.  The light hearted mood suddenly gets dark and unpleasant, like an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical.  A scorpion suddenly makes its way toward her…

The Weight of This Combination- Helena wakes up in a box and finds a scorpion at her side

…and we cut back to reality where Helena finds herself trapped in a box.  She has no way of knowing exactly where she is, but at least the scorpion is still there to keep her company.  Helena remembers the scorpion, right?  Though Helena has been taken away from her sestras, no one ever said this journey would be easy.

The Weight of This Combination- Doctors extract pencil from Rachel's eye

After we see some doctors extract the pencil from Rachel’s eye…

The Weight of This Combination- Felix, Kira, and Sarah at Shite Beach when Delphine arrives

Meanwhile, Sarah, Felix, and Kira revisit Shite Beach- Felix’s name, not mine.  Though Felix is concerned about the new male clones, Sarah is convinced that Marion is handling this, even though Marion is already covering for them in Europe.

The Weight of This Combination- Delphine in need of Sarah

Then Delphine arrives and is in need of Sarah.  Until three weeks ago, she and others didn’t even know that Project Castor existed.  They were a myth, but now they’re a bomb and shockwaves are coming.  Sarah doesn’t consider any of this her problem, but Delphine thinks otherwise.  There are outside and inside threats to Leda.

Delphine shows how DYAD managed to track down this particular clone.  She shows Sarah some surveillance footage of one clone meeting a Krystal Goderitch on an elevator.  Oh, it gets better.  Another of the male clones showed up at the building.  Luckily, the security team managed to intercept the clones as they were forcing Krystal into the trunk of a car.  She survived.

The clones are still a threat, though, as one managed to kill two members of the security team, while the other clone escaped.  There’s still no indication as to what they want and the captured clone hasn’t given as much as his name.  He does agree to speak to Sarah and Sarah only, though.  Not that Sarah has anything else to do right now.

The Weight of This Combination- Sarah speaks with one of the male clones

So Sarah meets the clone, who is convinced that Sarah is made of ‘the good stuff,’ not like Krystal.  The clone can’t say out loud what he wants, though, because the walls have ears.  He warns Sarah against trusting DYAD, but Sarah responds that she only trusts her sisters.  Ah, right, it’s a family affair.  The clone doesn’t get under Sarah’s skin until he starts talking about Felix, Mrs. S and Kira, prompting her to lunge forward and threaten him with death.

Then we get the first of many conference calls with Sarah checking in on the others.  Felix is playing host to Kira and Cosima, who is feeling much better than the last time we saw her, Alison is busy at a soccer game, and Helena is nowhere to be seen.  Sarah tells Felix to meet her at Mrs. S’s place so they can talk.  Sarah wants to find Helena, but Delphine hasn’t got time for that because of a more urgent matter: Topside is sending an investigator to DYAD to assess the security risks Sarah and the rest of Clone Club.

Sarah doosn’t see this as her problem- everyone’s got their own problems this week- but Delphine counters that it is.  The investigator coming is a cleaner.  He cannot find out what happened to Rachel, so that means Sarah is gonna have to play Rachel.  That should be fun.

The Weight of This Combination- Alison speaks with Marci Coates, played by Amanda Brugel

Alison, meanwhile, loads the soccer players onto the bus, where she gets a run-in with Marci Coates, played by Amanda Brugel.  So what’s Marci want?  Well, it’s election season and she wants to be able to count on Alison to support her for the position of school trustee, even though she’s the incumbent and probably won’t have any competition.

Alison cuts Marci’s sweet talk short when she brings up the fact that Marci plans to tinker with electoral boundaries, which would take Bailey Downs out of the Glendale School District.  That would mean Alison’s kids would have to change schools, and chances are no parent would like a sudden change like that.  Hence, Alison plans to run against Marci.  How fun.

The Weight of This Combination- Donnie tells Alison that he finally told Susan Teller what’s what and called her a bitch

So if this is good news, we need some bad news to even out the equation.  Donnie arrives with a box of stuff.  He finally told Susan Teller what’s what and called her a bitch.  And work took the keys to his Taurus.  Whoops.

The Weight of This Combination- Mrs. S fights with one of the clones

Mrs. S. arrives at home.  Sensing something is amiss, she grabs a knife.  She’s proven right when she’s attacked by one of the male clones.

The clone tries to jog S’s memory and she soon recognizes him as a Castor.  The clone knows that Professor Ethan Duncan was here recently.  S isn’t happy.  Major Dierden agreed that Project Castor would leave S and her family out of this, but the clone isn’t here under Dierden’s orders.  The clone is too late for Duncan, though.  He went into DYAD and cared for it for so little that he died.  So what about his research?  Well, it must still be at DYAD.

The Weight of This Combination- Delphine asks Dr. Nealon about Rachel

Delphine checks in on Rachel, who is still recovering.  Dr. Nealon tells Delphine that Rachel’s eye was lost and she sustained some trauma to the frontal lobe.  It’s too soon to talk about impairment.  Then Delphine tells the doctor that Topside is sending Ferdinand, who lands in three hours.  Nealon isn’t too surprised since Topside took action on Project Lead before.  There was an incident in 2006- Helsinki.  Well, that’s why Delphine is here: to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

The doctor warns Delphine that Sarah mustn’t know about Helsinki.  Not even Rachel knows.  Delphine just hopes that she can count on Nealon to put Leda about its individuals.  Neither of them can avoid to play favorites right now, anyway.

The Weight of This Combination- Sarah and Felix help Mrs. S after her attack, Mrs. S. tells what happened to Helena

Felix and Sarah find Mrs. S.  They are just not having a good day with now two male clones out there.  S then drops the major bombshell that she was responsible for trading Helena to Paul in exchange for Marion acquiring Castor information.  Needless to say that Sarah is pissed.  She storms off in a huff.  Felix, once again caught in the middle of a nasty situation, gives pursuit, but he also makes sure to get S to a hospital, so he decides to call Benjamin.

The Weight of This Combination- Kira and Cosima talk

Kira drops a doll on its face.  That doll did nothing to her.  Cosima asks if Kira remembers when she woke her up to read her that story.  Cosima had a dream where she was way above and she could see below.  Then she came back to Kira.  She doesn’t have words for what she’s trying to say, but Kira spells it out pretty bluntly Cosima came back so Delphine could make her better with Kira’s stem cells.

The Weight of This Combination- Delphine visits Cosima

Delphine shows up at the door with only a minute to talk.  She needs Sarah, but she’s not there.  The Rachel problem is very critical, so she needs her help.  Delphine is taking over some of Rachel’s duties, so she won’t be able to work with Cosima and Scott for awhile.  Delphine is keeping her promise to love all of Clone Club’s sisters equally, but for that to happen, she and Cosima can be no more.  Everyone has their part to play, but Cosima’s is to cure.  True as that is, the two part on sad terms.

The Weight of This Combination- Alison and Donnie go over their financial situation

You know who else is sad?  Alison and Donnie as they work through their financial situation.  They have one mortgage payment, but Donnie doesn’t want to go through their retirement fund.  It’s not all bad.  Donnie has a bit of cash left over from his time as a monitor, but he has a suggestion: Alison can work with her mother again part time at Bubbles.  Ha.  Alison will dig ditches, but she won’t go back to that.  Besides, she has to think about the upcoming school trustee race.  But before that, she gets a phone call from Delphine.

The Weight of This Combination- Sarah still pissed about Mrs. S selling out Helena

Sarah is still livid about S’s betrayal.  Felix reminds her that she can’t take everyone under her wing, but the alternative would be to abandon S, like everyone else has done her entire life.  Then Delphine calls Sarah.  Though Sarah could just say no, she realizes that Delphine may be able to help her with Helena.

The Weight of this Combination- Felix helps Sarah with Rachel's wardrobe

So it’s time for Sarah to do a complete image makeover into Rachel.  Ferdinand knows Rachel, but this is Delphine’s meeting, so hopefully Sarah won’t have to do much.  Delphine agrees to help with Helena, but they need to get through this inquisition first.  Ferdinand can’t sense that anything is amiss or the plan could go south.

The Weight of This Combination- Cosima shows Scott the book on Dr. Moreau from Duncan

Scott checks in on Cosima.  Between the soldier clones and lesbian drama- a deadly combination, mind you- he doesn’t know that he wants to work on super secret shit anymore.  Fair enough.  But then Cosima shows Scott the book on Dr. Moreau from Duncan.  When Scott finds the code that could be the key on unlocking the rest of synthetic sequences, he can’t really jump off the project just yet.  Until the two can decipher this, though, no one else, not even the rest of Clone Club or Delphine, need to know.

The Weight of This Combination- Sarah and Delphine meet with Ferdinand, played by James Frain

When the transformation is complete, Sarah and Delphine meet with Ferdinand, played by James Frain.  Oh hey, it’s Franklin from True BloodRachel claims that she’s between flights and tries to leave, but Ferdinand is in need of them both.  Well, shit.  In light of the Castor revelation, Topside has engaged Ferdinand to conduct a DYAD security review.  Marion has held a living, breathing Castor subject in her basement for three weeks without reporting it, even if she needed it for genetic confirmation.  The only ones aware of this are Delphine, Dr. Nealon, and Rachel.

Paul Dierden appears to have been the Castor mole.  He may have gotten close to Rachel, but Dr. Leekie put him there in the first place.  Rachel did consent to him, though.  There’s more, as Rachel brings up that Castor has kidnapped Helena, Sarah Manning’s maternal twin.  Ferdinand is aware that Sarah is being held captive and would like to speak with her himself.  Delphine reluctantly agrees to take Ferdinand to Rachel.

The Weight of This Combination- Ferdinand speaks with Sarah, played by Alison

Now Alison gets into the role-playing as she steps into Sarah’s role for a moment.  Ferdinand seems convinced, but he needs to do some extra examination.  He insists that this is important.  In all her unmonitored wanderings through their murky history, has Sarah ever met a male clone?  She insists that she hasn’t met any male clones- just her sisters.  Ferdinand makes use of a pair of gloves when he fondles Sarah and notes that she was supposed to be recovering from surgery.

When Sarah begins to protest, Rachel strikes her.  This may be my favorite moment of the episode so far.

Delphine needs a word with Ferdinand.  She explains that they had to postpone the oophorectomy.  Ferdinand reminds the two that their objective is to isolate Sarah’s fecundity ASAP.  Why wait?  Delphine’s response is that they can’t remove the ovaries of a woman who is ovulating.  It’s inconvenient, but at least she’s contained.  No risk to topside.  Ferdinand orders Sarah be returned to her cell, but he needs a word with Rachel: he knows that she’s lying about flying anywhere tonight.

Ferdinand can’t believe that Sarah Manning, Rachel’s nemesis, is still drawing breath, and he worries that Rachel could have cold feet.  After all, things are already in motion, but Rachel knows that Sarah’s biology is too unique to waste.  As is Helena’s.  They need to locate her, though Ferdinand would much rather discuss Helsinki.  He’ll come to her place tonight.

The Weight of This Combination- Guards watch male clone work out

The security guards watch one of the male clones do workout in the nude.  Why is this important?  Well, it isn’t right now, but it will be in a while.

Now it’s time for conference call number two.  The clones realize that they can’t rely on anybody but each other since Helena isn’t a priority for Delphine.  Then Ferdinand arrives at the door.

The Weight of This Combination- Delphine messes with Rachel

Delphine gets to have a bit of fun when Rachel awakens.  She isn’t completely there and struggles to get out a complete sentence or thought.  She gets a bit of extra motivation when Delphine presses on her injured eye socket.  Ouch.  Delphine promises to completely erase her unless she tells what she’s planning with Ferdinand.  Oh, and Rachel knows about Helsinki after all.

The Weight of This Combination- Rachel and Ferdinand talk

Since this version of Rachel doesn’t know Ferdinand’s drink of choice, she whips up something new instead.  Fair enough.  He demands to know why Rachel hasn’t been returning his calls, but it’s to keep up appearances.  Once again, Sarah tries to turn the conversation to Helena, but Ferdinand notices that Rachel isn’t herself.  While it’s entirely possible that Rachel slept with her monitor, Ferdinand thinks that he was her bitch instead.  Rachel responds by sticking her foot on Ferdinand’s crotch.  Huh.

Okay, enough foreplay.  Rachel wants Ferdinand to consider a prisoner swap with Castor.  Ferdinand gets up in a huff and insists that this has nothing to do with Castor, but Helsinki instead.  After all, Rachel wanted this!  She also said that Marion is too soft and that if they don’t act, her sisters could expose Topside.  There are other options, but Ferdinand thinks that it’s too late.  He advises Rachel to be strong.  The Helsinki girls were eradicated in 24 hours- six clones and 32 collateral.  As soon as she has Sarah’s ovaries, Rachel needs to put her down for good.

If Cosima is inducted tomorrow, she’ll deteriorate rapidly.  As for Alison Hendrix, that’s already underway.  The family is to be chloroformed, followed by a house fire.

The Weight of This Combination- Alison works out while the phone rings

Sarah takes a moment to make an emergency call to Alison, but in true television fashion, Alison is too distracted by something making too much noise to drown out the phone.

Ferdinand interrupts when he enters the bathroom and smells something amiss.  If she’s not careful, Helsinki will swallow her, too, and then she won’t get what she wants.  Rachel just wants her sisters spared.  No, Ferdinand says, what Rachel wants is a child.  Just remember Kira.

The Weight of This Combination- Rachel chokes Ferdinand

This leads to the two getting some hot and heavy action on with Rachel strangling Ferdinand with his own belt, but not remembering the safe word.  It helps to write down that kind of thing.

The Weight of This Combination- Delphine has leverage with Ferdinand

Delphine enters not to join in, but to remind Ferdinand that he’s not there to screw the product, but to conduct a security review.  Apparently, you can’t have both.  He is to report that DYAD is secure and that clones are self-aware now.  He knows how leverage works.

So yeah, Rachel was going to eliminate the clones.  Sarah’s still only in this to find Helena, and Delphine is counting on that.  She still agrees to help, but until she finds out what Castor really is, she wants Sarah to stand down.  Don’t try anything else.

The Weight of This Combination- Helena is freed from box number one

Meanwhile, Helena is finally freed from box number one.

The Weight of This Combination- Clone kills security guard

Also, the incarcerated clone is freed by another when the security guard mesmerized with him is killed by another clone.  Perhaps these guys should have found something else other than watch a clone that can’t escape his imprisonment.

If I can think of a key word for this episode, it would be trust.  Or lack thereof, I should say.  As the details of Helsinki and Rachel’s plan unravel, Sarah and the rest of the clones realize that they can’t fully trust everyone around them.  They’ve been fooled before and they’ve been hurt by the people they trusted, as we see with both Cosima and Delphine’s break-up, or Sarah’s stinging reaction when Mrs. S reveals that she sold out Helena.

The Weight of This Combination- Cosima says that the clone can't depend on anyone but themselves

But going beyond that, we see that the clones may not even be able to fully trust each other, either, at least not with everything.  Like Delphine said, they each have different roles to play, but that doesn’t mean they need to be a part of everyone else’s story.  Cosima and Scott have the chance at unlocking the rest of the genetic code, but their plans could be sidetracked if others are let into the fray.  Cosima says on the conference that the clones can’t rely on anybody but themselves, which is proving true here.

The Weight of This Combination- Cosima learns that Delphine is breaking up with her

That said, the scene where Cosima and Delphine end their relationship was sad to see, if only because the two did make each other happy.  Here’s hoping that Cosima finds happiness in cracking this code.

The Weight of This Combination- Delphine in control

But let’s stay with Delphine, who had quite a bit of fun this week.  She managed to get Ferdinand off of her back after she conveniently caught him with Sarah, but she also got to become Rachel and screw around with the real Rachel, who still isn’t all in there yet.  I wouldn’t say this makes Delphine unlikable or villainous since this is Rachel that we’re talking about, but the scene where Delphine pressed on Rachel’s face was just damn brutal to watch.  I’m curious how quickly it will take Rachel to make a recovery.

The Weight of This Combination- Sarah reacts to Mrs. S's betrayal

Meanwhile, if anyone is having a shitty week, it’s Sarah, not just with having to twist Delphine’s arm to get help with Helena, but learning about Mrs. S’s betrayal.  True, it wasn’t S’s decision to make, but like Felix said, Sarah shouldn’t have to feel like she has to take everyone under her wing.  She can’t solve all of the clones’ individual problems and she shouldn’t have to try.  Yes, they are her family and we’ve seen time and time again that she’ll do anything to protect them, but she can’t tackle every obstacle herself.  I mean, that’s why you have clones in the first place.  Multitasking, you know.

The Weight of This Combination- Sarah as Rachel

At the very least, she did a convincing job as Rachel.  I know that Maslany gets a lot of credit for the great job she does with each performance and she deserves every bit of it, but it’s all about the little details and nuances.  When Sarah becomes Rachel, Maslany’s performance is similar, but not exactly the same as how she portrays Rachel by herself.  If Ferdinand were more meticulous, he may have caught on, but that’s just how good of a job Sarah was at playing Rachel without fully becoming Rachel.

The Weight of This Combination- Sarah strikes Alison

Plus, even in the name of protection, she hit Alison, and I don’t like Alison.

The Weight of This Combination- Helena in pure bliss

Poor Helena, though.  She has the most tragic of circumstances, I think, even though we don’t see her that much in this episode.  We get a glimpse of the life and motherhood she’d like to have and, indeed, wouldn’t it be nice to be that happy and carefree?  But no, she’s locked away in a box with a scorpion as her only friend.  Well, at least it didn’t sting her, as far as I know.

There’s a lot of setup in this episode that is sure to play out for the rest of the season: what’s the end game for the male clones?  Is this the last time that Ferdinand will discuss Helsinki?  Given that he’s being leveraged, I doubt it.  Will Alison win the race for school trustee?  Who will ultimately rescue Helena?

“The Weight of This Combination” was an effective continuation of the series.  The stakes are becoming increasingly higher and while I wish I had more of a reason to care about the male clones right now- as their plot isn’t particularly interesting to me right now- everything else more than made up for that.  But if this episode taught me anything, it’s to always remember the safe word when your significant other is choking you.  That’s important.

A Look at “The Walking Dead” #140: “Life and Death”

The Walking Dead #140- Cover

The Walking Dead #140: “Life and Death,” continues to open up the world that Kirkman expanded upon in the previous issue.  However, with the ongoing situation at The Hilltop, Carl traveling with Lydia and the rest of The Whisperers, and a surprise change of events in Alexandria, we’re building up to will probably be some hairy situations.  Ever since Negan’s defeat at the end of All Out War, society has slowly rebuilt itself.  As far as we know, there haven’t been any serious conflicts comparable to All Out War, but we could be building towards one.

The Walking Dead #140- Gregory questioned on how he tried to poison Maggie

Continuing with Maggie’s troubles at The Hilltop, she finds herself in a somewhat tricky predicament on how to deal with Gregory.  He tried to poison her, but Maggie isn’t completely sure how to make an example out of him- at least, not at first.  Gregory is quite the slimy and tricky individual when it comes to fanning flames.  He’s never really been a fan of Maggie’s leadership and has been the one to try and incite everyone against her.  Rather than own up to his attempted coup, he cowers behind lies.  Again, I have to wonder how someone like Gregory was once in charge or how some of these folks wanted him to be the next leader.

This puts Maggie in a difficult place because she hasn’t had to make the same number or level of difficult decisions that Rick has.  She wants to follow the example he set by keeping Negan alive- even though that may end up biting everyone in the ass down the line- and wants to stick to this no killing code.  However, as Jesus correctly points out, Gregory is a different sort of creature than Negan.

The Walking Dead #123- Negan prepares for an assault on the Hilltop

With Negan, what you see is just what you get.  He will always put himself on the frontline and make his presence known.  If he needs or wants something done, he could do it himself.  Sure, he had The Saviors at his beck and call, but Negan was a leader who took the charge when necessary.

The Walking Dead #140- Jesus and Maggie talk about Gregory

Gregory, on the other hand, may have the potential to be a great leader, but he cowers behind others.  If he was so hell bent on getting rid of Maggie, he could just do it himself.  Instead, he takes a more manipulative approach by trying to turn some of the Hilltop residents against her.  All Gregory needed was the right and ripe opportunity, which he got when Carl retaliated against the local boys who attacked him and Sophia.  When that happened, all the citizens needed was a little push.  My hope is just that, should Maggie go through with this, Gregory doesn’t become a martyr since some of the folks on The Hilltop do respect him.

The Walking Dead #140- Maggie tells Jesus that Gregory has to die

I like how much of an advisory role Jesus now has.  We know he’s a bona-fide ass kicker, but he’s also sort of the anti Dale.  Instead of suggesting the most peaceful or diplomatic situation, he recognizes the severity of a situation for what it is and will advocate force when necessary.  He’s proven to be vital when Maggie may start to second guess herself.  She needs to put her full focus and attention on the current situation.

ThE Walking Dead #140- Carl with The Whisperers

Unfortunately, this means abandoning the search for Carl, who we don’t get to see a lot of, but we do get a glimpse of The Whisperers’ territory.  It’s simplistic, but the numbers are vast from what we see and they appear very civilized.  Though the numbers don’t seem to be as great as we’d previously heard, there are plenty of members who probably could have overtaken The Hilltop if they wanted.

The Walking Dead #140- Rick and Michonne talk

Briefly on Rick and Michonne, as their conversation kicks off the issue and picks up directly from the end of the previous one.  Michonne still talks about the life she deserves to have, which isn’t one of happiness.  She’s not wallowing in pity, but she isn’t embracing the current lot that life has given her- a second chance.

The Distance- Michonne believes Aaron

It’s the flip of what Michonne is going through right now on the television series, as she was the one pushing the group to take Aaron’s advice and head toward the Alexandria Safe Zone.  She believed that the group needed this, which they did.  Here, it’s the opposite.  Oh, and I did like the banter between Rick and Michonne.  It’s nice to have the two interacting again.

The Walking Dead #140- Negan is ordered back into his cell

Now, as for this ending- Robert Kirkman once again throws in another curveball.  So Negan gets cleaned up a bit.  Okay, that’s fine, but then the lock on the cell is off and the man is free.  I don’t know how that happens without someone noticing, given how on guard Andrea and the others were when cleaning down Negan.  Though I’m sure Rick would be aghast that Negan was even let out at all.  Now, however, he’s apparently free.

The Walking Dad #140- Negan is free

I’m sure this will be explained in future issues, but for the moment, it’s an interesting twist since Negan is still probably just as much of a threat now as he was before.  No, he doesn’t have The Saviors with him, but his presence alone is intimidating and everyone in the Safe Zone is fully aware of what he can do.  What will Negan do?  Was it internal sabotage that got him out?  We’ll see.

A Look at “Gotham” Season 1, Episode 19: “Beasts of Prey”

Welcome back, Gotham.  Not so much of a welcoming return, though. Let’s pick up where we left off and jump into “Beasts of Prey.”

Beasts of Prey- The Catcher, played by Phillip James Griffith, confronts Fish

The episode begins with Fish strolling throughout Dulmacher’s mansion until she eventually makes her way out.  She tries to head toward the nearby helicopter, but is stopped by a group of henchmen who order her back inside.  Leading the henchmen is The Catcher, played by Phillip James Griffith.  Even though she’s Dulmacher’s new assistant, that position doesn’t give her any special privilege.  And these henchmen don’t do all of the dirty work, by the way.  That’s what the water is for.

Beasts of Prey- Gordon asks Bruce for information about Alfred's attacker

Over at Wayne Manor, Bruce congratulates Gordon on his win as president of the Policeman’s Union.  Gordon is glad to hear it, but he knows that Bruce and Alfred lied about who Alfred’s attacker.  When Gordon presses for information, Bruce doesn’t give him any, so he instead warns him to stay out of Alfred’s business since this isn’t his fight.

Beasts of Prey- Officer Len Moore, played by Brendan Griffin, asks Gordon to help with the Grace Fairchild case

Later on, an officer we’ve never seen before named Len Moore, played by Brendan Griffin, informs Gordon about a case dropped four months ago that involves a woman named Grace Fairchild.  The officers investigating her case eventually moved on, so Moore would like Gordon to look into it because the family deserves justice.  Gordon senses an angle, but Moore says that there isn’t one.  The younger guys like him look up to Gordon and want to be a part of the change he’s bringing to the GCPD.

Beasts of Prey- Gordon informs Leslie about the Fairchild case

So even though this puts a damper on dinner, Leslie is more than thrilled to help Gordon pursue this unsolved case.  Miss Fairchild was in the South Village- an area with which Leslie is familiar.  She tells Gordon to look into some speakeasies in the area for leads.

Beasts of Prey- Fish tells Kelly that they need to get off the island

Meanwhile, deep in the bowels of Dulmacher’s mansion, Fish tells a still wounded Kelly that she needs his help to get off the island.  That or they’ll die trying.

Beasts of Prey- Alfred is still injured

Alfred is back at Wayne Manor and is ready to go, but won’t take Bruce with him.  Alfred doesn’t get very far anyway since he’s still bleeding, indicating that his wound hasn’t fully healed yet.

Beasts of Prey- Penguin and Gabe speak with Lidia Bicchieri, played by Barbara Rosenblat

Penguin and Gabe speak with a local bar owner named Lidia Bicchieri, played by Barbara Rosenblat.  See, Penguin is interested in this establishment and even promises to be a silent partner, but Lidia remains adamant and tells Penguin that her place is not for sale.  Okay, fair enough.  If Lidia isn’t interested in money, what does she want?  Her granddaughter, Antonia, has been seduced by a silver tongued player.  If Penguin brings her home, then Lidia may consider terms.  Penguin promises to have her home by Sunday mass.  How very specific.

Beasts of Prey- Gordon and Bullock discuss the Fairchild investigation when Nygma approaches

Gordon tries to rope Bullock into helping him investigate the Fairchild case, but Bullock wants nothing to do with it.  He figures that Gordon isn’t in this for justice- there’s something else driving him.  Hell, Bullock even has a riddle for Nygma: would you rather work more or less?

Nygma, however, is here to deliver the list of establishments in the South Village to Gordon- four locations were missed by the previous detectives.  Gordon also needs Nygma to find a missing piece of evidence titled 3A.  Gordon tries again to get Bullock to join him, and even after Bullock talking about Gordon potentially getting burned after flying too close to the sun, he eventually does decide to help Jim.

Beasts of Prey- Fish enlists some muscle to help her escape

Fish enlists some muscle to help her get escape from Dulmacher.  Why them and not any of her closer friends?  She needs killers because Dulmacher won’t just let her walk away from him.  There’s a boat by the shore that will fit six people.  Sure, there’s the chopper, but Fish points out that none of the others know how to fly a helicopter.  That is important.  Fish now just needs the keys for the boat.

Beasts of Prey- Bullock and Gordon ask a bartender about Grace Fairchild

Gordon and Bullock haven’t made much progress into the leads so far until now.  They show a photo to a bartender who recognizes Grace Fairchild.  As it turns out, Fairchild visited this very bar with a hot date.  A good looking, but classy guy.

Beasts of Prey- Grace Fairchild, played by Willa Fitzgerald, on a date with Jason Lennon, played by Milo Ventimiglia

We then flash back to said date where Grace Fairchild, played by Willa Fitzgerald, enjoys a moment with a Jason Lennon, played by Milo Ventimiglia.  Fairchild is curious, though: how is it that a young, funny, and successful guy like Jason could still be single?  His past relationships didn’t work out.  What he wants would frighten people.  It sounds cheesy, but he’s looking for real, intense, and unconditional love.

Beasts of Prey- Jason Lennon's torture devices

The two then head to Lennon’s place.  It’s been awhile since he’s had company.  Lucky for him, Fairchild decides to stay.  Oh, and Lennon has torture devices kept hidden.  How romantic.

Beasts of Prey- Gabe and Penguin with the boyfriend

As Bruce heads to the Polk Gun Range to do some investigation, Penguin and Gabe have a chat with the silver tongued player who is dating Antonia.  He refuses to stop seeing her since he believes they’re destined to be together.  Penguin doesn’t want the guy killed, even though Gabe just wants to shoot him.  Instead, Penguin prefers to take off the guy’s fingers.

Beasts of Prey- Leslie's autopsy on Grace Fairchild

Leslie finds something strange in her autopsy on Fairchild’s body.  Despite being missing for four months, other than stab wounds to the throat and heart, Fairchild’s body is still in pristine condition.  Bullock has a theory: it’s possible that Fairchild ran off on her own, but her being missing could have nothing to do with her murder.  The findings would support that, but Gordon disagrees.  Fairchild had a good job, good mortgage, and even called her mother the day she went missing.  He figures that Fairchild was taken, locked away against her will, and then killed.

Beasts of Prey- Flashback, Grace and Jason the next morning

We flash back to the next morning at Lennon’s place.  Fairchild enjoyed herself and has a full day ahead of her, so she can’t see an exhibit or spend any time with Lennon, who really wants her to stay.  Maybe, though, they can arrange for something this evening.

Beasts of Prey- Dulmacher catches Fish snooping in his office

Fish sneaks into Dulmacher’s office in hopes of finding a key, but she’s soon caught by Dulmacher.  Her explanation for being there is that they’re running low on supplies for the inmates, but Dulmacher reminds her that she just needs to look in the storage room.  Dulmacher pulls out a gun and tells Fish that he is not a fan of dishonesty at all.

Truth is she’s had nightmares about the horrible stitch job done to the office manager.  I’m just having nightmares about that terrible CGI.  Anyway, Fish would have preferred to take her own life than end up like that sort of creation.  Well, if Fish pulls anything like that, her nightmare will come true.

Beasts of Prey- Bruce enlists Selina's help in finding Reggie Payne

Bruce enlists Selina’s help in finding Reggie Payne.  A shooting range isn’t the same as the gun range, didn’t you know?

Beasts of Prey- Nygma shows Gordon and Bullock a photocopy of a broken heart

Nygma delivers Bullock and Gordon a long forgotten photocopy of a painted broken heart, which GCPD found at the Fairchild crime scene.  Bullock is now livid about this discovery and reminds Jim about the dangers of getting too deep.  The person behind Fairchild’s death?  This isn’t his first murder.  He’s a serial killer.

Beasts of Prey- Flashback, Grace and Jason have dinner

We then flash back to dinner between Lennon and Fairchild, who may have overcooked the lamb.  Well, Lennon gets to enjoy it since Fairchild is cuffed in place.  Lennon isn’t too pleased with dinner.  He really thought Fairchild would be the one, but he’ll have to wait for the next one.

Beasts of Prey- Penguin tells Gabe about his plan to kill Don Maroni

Having kept his promise, Penguin is now able to talk terms with Lidia.  Gabe isn’t a fan of the location, but Penguin tells him that this isn’t about the money.  There are other motivators, such as lust or ambition.  His decision for this place is simple: it’s where he’s going to kill Don Maroni.

Beasts of Prey- Fish puts her escape plan into motion

Okay, it’s time to escape Dulmacher.  Fish assembles her muscle and warns them about the alarm that will sound when they try to leave.  As far as the gate, Fish tells them that it was unlocked last night.  Right now, though, she needs to get Kelly.  Sentimental as it sounds, she won’t leave him behind.

Beasts of Prey- Dulmacher after inmates attack

So when Fish heads back down, Dulmacher intercepts her.  Luckily, the inmates pounce on him and then they all flee.

Beasts of Prey- The Catcher executes the muscle

The muscle men arrive at the gate and find it locked.  They realize all too late that they’ve been played.  They’re soon killed by The Catcher and his henchmen.  He’s unable to prevent Fish and the others from boarding the helicopter, but he does get in one good shot that nails Fish in her stomach.  That’s some damn good aim.  I wonder if this Catcher could give Deadshot a run for his money.

Beasts of Prey- Bullock tells Gordon about The Ogre

Bullock fills Gordon in on this killer: he abducts and kills young women.  He’s killed at least a dozen.  The broken heart is his calling card.  Some call him the Don Juan Killer, others refer to him as The Ogre.  This isn’t some well-known fact, though.  Only a few in the GCPD know of this tightly guarded secret, but haven’t leaked it to the press because The Ogre is known to retaliate against people who investigate him, particularly their loved ones.  Therein lies the question of how Gordon came across the Fairchild investigation in the first place.  What officer would talk to him?

Beasts of Prey- Bruce confronts Reggie

Okay, so Bruce and Selina find Reggie.  Selina takes his bag of meds and threatens to drop them out of the window unless he starts talking about who sent him.  Reggie had only meant to take some documents, but then Alfred entered.  He received his orders from a woman named Mathis and a guy named Sid Bunderslaw, both of whom wanted to know how far along Bruce had come in his investigation.

Selina does drop the bag anyway, but only onto a ledge.  Reggie, the moron that he is, leans out the window to try and retrieve his meds, not really remembering that either of the two kids could easily push him out the window.  Bruce hesitates, but can’t bring himself to do the deed.

Beasts of Prey- Selina pushes Reggie out of a window

So Selina does it herself.

Beasts of Prey- Bullock and Gordon confront Moore

Bullock and Gordon confront Moore, who spills that he had been ordered by Loeb to hand the case over to Jim.  He had no choice, as everyone is aware of what Loeb can do.  Gordon wouldn’t have been able to turn down such a case.  Bullock warns Gordon against further pursuing this matter because it could put Leslie in danger.  This isn’t the time to be a hero.

Beasts of Prey- Gordon tells Loeb that he'll be coming after him soon

After leaving a message on Leslie’s answering machine, Gordon confronts Loeb and gives zero cares about what the surrounding officers think.  No more games or deals.  Once Jim is done with this Ogre situation, he’s coming for Loeb.

So, where were we?  Gotham has returned after a bit of a hiatus and, based on the promos, it looked like the series wanted to take a darker, more serious turn.  Well, not really.  What we got with “Beasts of Prey” wasn’t much better than the episodes before it, but there’s some good setup with the GCPD.

Beasts of Prey- Fish and Kelly

We know that Jada Pinkett Smith apparently won’t be on Gotham for its next season, so my best guess is that Fish Mooney may be on her way out soon.  Maybe it would be through that gunshot wound or some other way, but whatever it is, I do hope it holds my interest.  We’ve seen so much of Fish since she left Gotham that one would think her arc is all that integral to the series.  Sure, she’s trying to make her way back to the city, but if you had removed Fish’s storyline from the show after she left Gotham, I don’t think we’d have lost anything.

Beasts of Prey- Dulmacher points a gun at Selina

Sure, it’s because of this that we got our official introduction to The Dollmaker, but this side story isn’t as interesting to me as I found her plan to overtake Falcone.  That at least led to a major shakeup with Liza’s death and Fish discovering that Penguin had been playing her the entire time.

Beasts of Prey- Bruce needs Selina's help

I still find it strange that Bruce would trust Selina, given how she admitted to lying about seeing the man who killed Bruce’s parents.  But hey, she knows the streets better than Bruce, so I suppose that’s something.  I liked the fact that Bruce was tempted to cross that line and possibly kill Reggie.  He had every reason to, but it looks like he didn’t want to start himself down that dark path.  Selina taking the kill isn’t out of character for this show since we’ve seen how brutal she can be, but it was a very telegraphed kill.

At the very least, Bruce now knows that he’ll have to be on his guard even more, especially since Alfred still isn’t in the best of conditions.

But I did like some of the stuff with looking into the Fairchild case.

Beasts of Prey- Fifty Shades of Gotham

Not the Fifty Shades of Grey nonsense.  Let’s not pay that any mind.

That the entire situation was a setup for Gordon was a pretty smart move on Loeb’s part.  Everyone in the GCPD knows that Gordon is a boy scout who can’t turn down a case if it means someone gets justice.  And given how we’ve never seen or heard of this Len Moore guy before, it was clear to me early on that he wasn’t being completely honest.

Beasts of Prey- Gordon confronts Loeb

This revelation gives Gordon the push he’ll need not just to pursue this killer, but also rid himself of Loeb by any means.  Gordon had leverage before, but now he needs something more.  There was a good amount of buildup to the confrontation at the end and we know that Gordon still takes issues with how the GCPD operates, so it was nice to see him lash out against the Commissioner and put other officers in their place when they tried to stop him.

“Beasts of Prey” was nothing spectacular or special for Gotham’s return.  I thought that the hiatus would maybe lead to a revamped quality in writing because I want the show to do well with the potential that it has.  However, what did work in this episode was weighed down by everything that didn’t.  The Fish Mooney subplot is still uninteresting, but Fish’s fate is now up in the air with her injury.  What’s keeping everything going is Gordon’s war against the establishment.  More focus should go to this, I feel, as there’s great potential here.

But no more Fifty Shades of Gotham.  We do not need that.

A Look at “Veep” Season 4 Premiere: “Joint Session”

Last season ended on somewhat of a high note for Selina Meyer and company.  POTUS decided to step down, meaning that Meyer herself would become the next President of the United States.  It’s a new day in Washington.  She gets to call the shots and no more fuck-ups for her and her crew.  Of course, by the time we closed out the season, there were just as many goofs and errors for Team Selina, not to mention losing the New Hampshire primary.  So hopefully Team Selina has had a chance to regain its stride, right?  Wait, this is Veep?  What am I even talking about?  Let’s dive right into “Joint Session.”

Joint Session- President Selina greets audience

The season begins with President Selina Meyer addressing a joint session of Congress.  It’s finally here- Selina’s big moment to show the nation and world what she’s capable of.  After shaking hands and greeting many people, President Meyer heads to the podium and begins to deliver the speech that will define her presidency.

Joint Session- Teleprompter fail

But then, in Veep fashion, the teleprompter displaying her speech suddenly shows an emoticon instead.  Ha!

Joint Session- Going over Selina's speech

So what led to this moment?  We go back 24 hours earlier as Team Selina works on the President’s upcoming speech.  The problem is that the speech itself is too vague, which Selina apparently wanted.  Luckily, in addition to her team, she has the assistance of a new communications director, who has worked for as many as one president prior to Selina, and even that didn’t work out too well.

Joint Session- Sue briefs Selina on her upcoming activities and meetings

Selina, meanwhile, is leading a very busy life as the Commander in Chief.  She still receives daily updates from Sue and will need to prepare a statement to address two recent fatalities.  She doesn’t even have time to talk to Jim, Dan, and Mike yet.  She wants to, though.

Joint Session- Selina visits her team to discuss her speech

So Selina takes time to do just that- the others even stand when she enters- and tells them to take the cuts section of her speech and put it with spending.  Oh, and some random new girl lets everyone know that three hikers haven’t been found yet.  Who is this new employee?  Who actually knows?  Anyway, Selina plans to say a few words about former President Hughes and then give her vision for the country.

Joint Session- Gary can't join Selina in the intelligence briefing, but the bag can

And Selina is so busy with constant meetings that Gary doesn’t even get to tag along at her side anymore.  So he’s left to his own devices while Selina goes into an intelligence meeting.  The bag is welcome, though, but not Gary.  Selina decides against inviting the Vice President to the meeting, as she wouldn’t want them to endure what she did.

Joint Session- Jonah meets Chief of Staff Teddy Sykes, played by Patton Oswalt

Jonah, meanwhile, is now working for the new Vice President and has a fun moment with the VP’s new Chief of Staff, Teddy Sykes, played by Patton Oswalt.  I already like this casting.  Teddy is welcoming, but he’s thrown off a bit since Jonah didn’t let him know that he was coming.  Anyway, Jonah is brought on to spy on the President, since that’s what he’s apparently good at.

Joint Session- Teddy grabs Jonah's balls

As Jonah heads for the elevator, Teddy has a few words for him.  This sort of game takes guts.  To work in this industry, you gotta have balls.  Teddy grabs Jonah’s goody bag just to make sure that Jonah has some.  He does.  Oh, and next time that Jonah wants to swing by the VP’s office, just give some advance notice.  That shouldn’t be too hard.

Joint Session- Team Selina proposes military cuts

Back to prepping for Selina’s speech.  She isn’t a fan of Hughes’ plan, but she knows that she can’t advocate her Families First bill and have huge cuts at the same time.  Therein is a potential solution: propose cuts to the military.  That should lead to some negotiating if the military doesn’t like that.  Oh, and the Prime Minister of India sent Selina a golden duck.  Selina doesn’t want it.

Even though Selina still wants to find some middle ground, Ben informs her that such a task isn’t easy.  This sort of job never is easy.  What remains to be seen is what the Joint Chiefs of Staff will offer when they hear of Selina’s proposed cuts.

Joint Session- Amy and Richard at Selina's campaign headquarters

Amy, meanwhile, is stationed at Selina’s campaign office, along with Richard, who I’m glad is still around, if I’m honest.  When Amy learns of Selina’s proposal, she wants to know which will actually go through: cuts or spending.  Mike, however, isn’t sure of that yet.  There’s also a rumor that Joe Thornhill may drop out of the race.

Joint Session- Bill Ericsson talks with Amy about potentially leaving Thornhill's campaign

To clarify this, Amy and Bill Ericsson meet up while Richard awkwardly tries to remember what it is that they want.  Anyway, the rumor about Thornhill isn’t completely true.  It’s not Thornhill who may be quitting- it’s Ericsson who could be planning to abandon his position as Thornhill’s campaign manager.  As much as he enjoyed Thornhill as a challenge, he now finds Thornhill boring.  Amy’s position, however, is very challenging.  Hell, if Bill wanted, he could probably have Amy’s job!

Joint Session- Jonah asks Gary about Teddy

As Gary watches Selina from afar, Sue asks him about the location of a certain black binder.  He then gets a surprise from Jonah, who wants information on Teddy Sykes.  Luckily, Gary is already familiar with him.  He’s a great guy and very hands on.  Oh, I think Jonah knows that part already.

Joint Session- Selina meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Selina meets up with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who all have their own proposal for Selina: cutting $50 billion.  Holy shit snacks, that’s one hell of a cut!  As soon as the staff leaves, Selina and the team are instantly elated.  That is how you do business.  Sadly, by the time the Vice President arrives, though, the meeting is already over.

Joint Session- Congressman Furlong and Military Industrial Complex confront Selina

Well, we can’t let this happy moment last for long.  In enters the Military Industrial Complex, or Congressman Furlong, who is livid because the cuts will mean a lot of people in his district will be out of jobs.  He lets Selina know that many of the lawmakers will vote against this Families First bill if the spending isn’t there.  So what happens now?  Time to cut the cuts!

Joint Session- Gary takes Selina's glasses

Oh, and just before speech time, Gary takes Selina’s glasses from her since the outline of them make it look as if she has a penis.  That’s always something you need to watch.

Joint Session- Team edits Selina's speech, Gary realizes he has Selina's glasses

But as Selina delivers the speech, the team realizes that the speech displayed is actually the one with Hughes’ plans, which Selina doesn’t want.  As such, Selina asks for a moment of silence to remember President Hughes and his wife.  No, I take that back.  She asks for a long moment of silence so her team of idiots can get the damned speech back up.  It’s worth noting that both Hughes and his wife are still alive.

And even though Selina may have a hard copy of the speech, she can’t read it without her glasses.  Nice going, Gary.  You have officially blinded the President.

Joint Session- Selina asks for a moment of silence

So when the speech does come back up, Selina begins to deliver it, until she ends up on “FUTURE WHATEVER” and starts to adlib the shit out of her speech.  She wants to tell the American people who she is and meet them at that train station!  The crowd loves it!  But then the team realizes that Selina mentioned the investment on submarines.  Whoops.  Also, she didn’t announce a dead guy’s plan since Hughes isn’t dead!

Joint Session- Selina rips into her team

Later on, a now livid President Meyer chews out her incompetent team for including spending in the speech instead of cuts.  This was supposed to be the speech that defined her presidency, but now that’s ruined.  She was going to help kids in poverty, but now she’s funding obsolete, giant metal dildos.  Hooray!  Even as Selina sends her team away, they slowly, one-by-one, slip back in with various updates, such as an upcoming campaign meeting, Gary enters and instantly leaves with new glasses, the wrong guy’s truck in Yemen was droned, and the two hikers are dead.  Wait, what hikers?

Veep, never change.  “Joint Session” showed the continuing transition for Team Selina as they move from Vice Presidential duties to Presidential duties.  While it would have been nice to spend more time with everyone and see how they’re adjusting, this episode showed just how fast paced the political world is, even if these people have next to no idea how to competently do their jobs.

Joint Session- Selina briefed on two fatalities due to a boat accident

There’s no time to breathe in this episode.  Everything and everyone is constantly moving from one arrangement or meeting to the next because there’s relaxation or grace period.  We got all that in the Season Three finale when Selina and her team headed to Washington, but you have to keep in mind that it’s still time to get down to business.  When Selina was the Vice President, she could have those moments of downtime where she and the team could shoot the shit or go over their next move.  Here, every move is their next move, but because these people aren’t good at their jobs, most of their moves end up being the wrong moves.

And that wrong move could end up costing Selina the job.  We don’t get a sense of how much time has passed since “New Hampshire,” but keep in mind that Selina didn’t win the Presidency so much as just ascend into the position since Hughes resigned.  She still needs to actually win the Primary and be a competent President at the same time.  That’s hard to do when she’s getting stonewalled from all directions, whether from other politicians, her staff, or her own incompetency.

Joint Session- Selina's glasses are crooked

At the very least, we know that Selina has good intentions.  She still wants to push her Families First bill forward, but also has to please the military industrial complex that is at danger of losing many jobs if Selina decides to go with cuts instead of spending.  She wants to do the best job and knows that she and her staff need to step it up because this isn’t the Vice Presidency anymore.  Even still, some things never change.

Joint Session- Gary realizes that he has Selina's glasses

Whether it’s the team flubbing the speech, Mike not staying in the media loop despite working in communications, or Gary’s meltdown after blinding Selina, we see that, despite Selina being the President, there are just as many, if not more problems than when she was the Vice President.  Gary has now had two major flubs between this and Selina’s duck sounding shoes from the Season Three finale.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Selina decided to give him as even more limited access.

And at least some of the team members do try.  Sue is just as much of a busybody as she always has been and, luckily, doesn’t really muck up compared to the rest of the team.

Joint Session- Ben advises Selina on cuts and spending

Ben is also a good fit as Chief of Staff, even if it’s a job he didn’t want.  He’s seen what Washington politics can do to people and it’s definitely had an impact on him.  At the same time, both he and Kent bring a certain level of experience and narcissism to the team.

Joint Session- Richard holds notes for Amy

Speaking of the team, I do like the fact that Richard has remained on from last season.  He’s just as bumbling as he was last season and almost makes Team Selina look competent by comparison, but we know that’s not saying much.  At the very least, this provides some continuity between the seasons.  Same with Ericsson’s looming presence and the possibility that he would try and take Amy’s job since he figures himself as a better campaign manager.

Joint Session- Teddy walks off

Also, Patton Oswalt is a welcome addition to Veep and Teddy is someone who could come off as a real and credible obstacle to Jonah.  That entire scene in front of the elevator, coupled with the ball grabbing, showed that Teddy is someone who could eat Jonah alive, if he wanted.  I already want more scenes between the two of them.

Joint Session- Selina addresses Congress

And Julia Louis-Dreyfus was excellent during Selina’s speech.  There seemed to be such passion in her improvised speech, even if it was bullshit and she made a major flub in the process.  I actually had my head in my hands as the speech went on because watching Team Selina try to operate is like watching a slow fire build.

Like “Some New Beginnings” before it, “Joint Session” is a great beginning for the season and continuation of Veep.  There’s still a big sense of optimism for the team as they stumble through the presidency and try to avoid the screw-ups during Selina’s term as Vice President.  They don’t want to make those same errors, but even though the stakes are bigger, the flubs and errors are as prevalent as ever.  Selina hoped to define her presidential legacy in this episode, but she put money toward metal dildos.  Such is a day in the life of President Selina Meyer.

Seriously, though, what hikers?

A Look at “The Walking Dead” #139: “From the Edge of the World”

The Walking Dead #139- Cover

The Walking Dead #139: “From the Edge of the World” is a good way for Robert Kirkman to slowly expand the universe he’s created as society slowly begins to rebuild itself and to show how the world has changed since the time-skip.  It’s not complete normalcy and we do get some roamer killing in this issue, but I felt this was a good way to catch us up to speed on what’s going on in the rest of The Walking Dead world since we’ve spent a considerable amount of time at The Hilltop.  Plus, the introduction of The Whisperers kept our focus on The Hilltop.

The Walking Dead #139- Maggie's reaction to Carl's disappearance

Actually, let’s start with The Hilltop, as this isn’t the main story this time.  Maggie seems to be doing just fine for the moment, but maybe it’s the adrenaline of her concern and anger over Carl’s disappearance.  Given how cordial the exchange was between Maggie and Alpha, she wouldn’t want Carl to ruin any chances of the groups coexisting.  Again, though, that’s a gray area since there don’t appear to be any established territory zones for The Whisperers.

The Walking Dead #139- Dante talks about Carl getting a piece of ass

Oh, and for a series that’s as grim as The Walking Dead, I did like Dante’s brief line about Carl chasing a piece of ass like Lydia, not just because the humor is inappropriate, but because he immediately realizes that he’s killing his chances with Maggie, not that he ever had any.  Plus, there’s no way that anyone would know at this point that Carl and Lydia had sex.  I don’t think either one of them would go around boasting.  But the look Maggie gave Dante after his less than well-timed line was priceless.

The Walking Dead #139- The Whisperers find Carl

As for Carl, though, the boy had better consider himself lucky that The Whisperers are being so cordial with him.  Even if he came of his own accord, Carl is still outnumbered, outgunned, and probably doesn’t know the terrain as well as The Whisperers do.  Again, I feel he’s motivated more to get Lydia back and less than getting to the bottom of who The Whisperers are.  At the very least, he seems to be in safe company, but this already isn’t going over well with Maggie, not to mention how it would go over with Rick since he placed Carl under her responsibility.

The Walking Dead #139- Ezekiel mows down roamers with Michonne's sword

So onto the main plot of this issue, starting with the reintroduction of Ezekiel, Heath, and another character we’ll get to in a second- it’s great to see these characters doing well and just nice to see them at all.  We’ve had slight references to the folks outside of the Alexandria Safe Zone and The Hilltop, but this is, I believe, the first time we’ve seen them or spent a significant amount of time with them since the time skip.

It’s also nice to just see how much these characters have progressed.  For example, we learn from Rick that they’re stockpiling ammunition.  This is a very big deal.  For the longest time, ammunition on The Walking Dead was to be conserved.  You find ways to take care of roamers so you can preserve as many bullets as possible and save guns for worst case scenarios.

It’s something that both the comic and the show have kept true to, but if we’re at the point where the characters have more ammunition than necessary, they’re pretty much able to neutralize any roamer threats they come across for the moment.  It’s a useful advantage that is sure to be a benefit for anything or anyone the characters come across now that they’re able to manufacture bullets at this rate.

The Walking Dead #139- Much more fish in the sea

The same applies to the fact that there’s so much fish in the river since there are less humans to explore the water and the roamers, presumably, keep away from it.  It’s morbid to say, but the lack of humanity means much more fish to catch.

The Walking Dead #139- Rick tells Ezekiel that they're stockpiling ammunition

In addition, it’s nice that the three communities have found a way to cooperate and trade resources in a much more civil way than Negan tried with his system, if you can even call it that.  I say three communities because, in addition to seeing characters like Ezekiel and Heath again, we get a reference to Dwight, who is apparently able to provide the neighboring communities with lumber.  So it appears that Dwight has managed to reform The Saviors and turned them into a much more productive under his leadership than under Negan.  I’m glad Dwight turned into an ally, as it would have been easy to keep The Saviors as antagonists even if they weren’t being led by Negan.  Now they’re of use to the other communities.

The Walking Dead #139- Michonne returns

Of course, the big moment of this issue was the return of Michonne.  It’s been a long time coming: twelve issues since the time-skip began and all we’ve had so far has been a brief reference to the character.  Now we see her, she looks great, and has had plenty of time to think while sailing the seas.  I’m looking forward to The Walking Dead spin-off series where Michonne decides to become a pirate.

But the free time on the sea has allowed her to do a lot of thinking and working.  Since her introduction, we’ve known Michonne as the loner, but she’s slowly integrated herself into the group.  However, that doesn’t mean she’s lost her sense of self.  We learn that she just up and disappeared, which concerned Rick, but it still bothered Michonne just as much.  Her relationship with Ezekiel became strained, so she just needed to get away.

The Walking Dead #139- Michonne talks to Rick about her family

As we dig into Michonne’s backstory, we learn that she’s been holding onto a lot of guilt- survivor’s guilt, to be specific.  She grew distant from her family and when the outbreak happened, she wasn’t there.  Sure, everyone has lost someone or something because of the roamer outbreak, but what separates Michonne from someone like Rick is that he saw their loved ones die before their eyes: it’s no speculation- Rick watched Lori and Judith get shot and killed during the Governor’s assault.  There’s no doubt that his loved ones are gone.

But not with Michonne.  Because she wasn’t there, she’s left with the nagging question of whether her family survived, though she’s positive that they’re dead.  There’s no way of knowing it, but this has eaten away at her for so long.  This is a very interesting development for Michonne and I like that Kirkman has given her this added dimension, as we know she’s had a lot on her mind since we last saw her.

The Walking Dead #139- Michonne talks about getting a do-over and being happy

This is something that has plagued the characters even before arriving at the Alexandria Safe Zone: is it right to have a do-over at life?  If so, does that mean you’re trampling all over your past life?  Michonne doesn’t want to allow herself to be happy because that would mean she’s disregarding her former life and allowing this new one to take place.  It’s as if she’s died, but would prefer to stay dead instead of having another chance to live.

Michonne could have the opportunity to start fresh, but what good is that life if she’s burying her past life?  I imagine this is something that many of the characters have grappled with as they try to maintain any sort of connection with their past lives.  Think about Rick talking with Lori on the phone.  Sure, he knew that she wasn’t there and it was all in his head, but he had some sort of connection to her.

“From the Edge of the World” was a very good issue that balanced multiple plots very well.  It continues The Hilltop storyline and put Carl in a potentially dangerous place as he travels with The Whisperers and put Maggie in a difficult position.  The world is slowly rebuilding itself and the three communities are working together to keep that revitalization going.  Michonne’s return is a welcome one and I’m glad she’s been able to do some thinking while out to sea.  Hopefully we learn what else she and the others have been up to.

But seriously, when are we gonna get that Michonne pirate spin-off series?