26 September, 2013

Review - SOUTH PARK 17.01: 'Let Go, Let Gov'

Trey Parker kind-of pushes his quasi-right-wing agenda in the season 17 premiere of SOUTH PARK.

Cartman bitches about the NSA spying on him as he continuously transmits his every thought to the entire Internet. He then infiltrates the NSA to get all their info and share it with the world. Meanwhile the NSA spies on everyone and everything. Also, Alec Baldwin's a douche.

This is Parker's somewhat commentary on Edward Snowden and people who may be overreacting to the information he leaked, since people are already sharing all of their activity with the world. I say somewhat because the story never pulls the trigger on its message, seemingly fearful of saying what it really feels.

What Parker doesn't seem to understand, due to major Big Mac blockage in his brain, is that the people have always shared their lives with those around them. The Internet just makes that sharing wide-scale. The problem is the government's collection of that data and subsequent use of that data against anyone they consider a person of interest, violates basic Constitutional rights. We the people can say whatever we want, wherever we want. The government needs a court order to record it. And those court orders must be available for public scrutiny. At present, that's not how the NSA, and other agencies like it, are operating.

At least right-wingers will have an episode to rub their crotches all over.

If I had to rate this episode, and the NSA agent spying on my every move says I don't, I'd give it:

42 out of 100

Not a good start, but I do love the show and will never quit it! Bring on the hate.


This episode only exists because Edward Snowden exposed the government for its Constitution-raping practices. He has made Comedy Central millions.


19 September, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.10: 'Levitate Me'

Editor's Note: This marks The Plopper's final review on this blog... ever! I'm just kidding, she's been awesome. But seriously, if she ever sends me two completely different versions of the same 20 page article, I'm going to hunt her down and smother her in cake.

Well, here I am, letting out a long, frustrated, conflicted sigh.  Episode 4.10 of Covert Affairs, “Levitate Me,” was – in THEORY – a badass episode.  In theory.

It had all the individual ingredients for a badass episode, after all: Annie stealing cell phones from small children, Annie faking her own death, acknowledgement that Danielle actually still exists rather than having been sucked into a black hole once she got to San Francisco early last season, some A&A sweet talk, a Radiohead song, a surprise Eyal scene, etc.  Even the title of the ep sounds super cool.  Oh, and fiiinnally the focus of the ep was back on our main character, with some good Auggie & Joan scenes as well.  Every single one of these ingredients, taken on its own, is awesome.  If I had seen the Danielle postcard scene or the Eyal scene on their own, out of context, I would be completely engaged by them.  But when all these ingredients were added together to make episode 4.10, the final product still somehow managed to come out of the oven just ... a bit half-baked for me.

Why??  What’s wrong with me??  I mean seriously, is it me??  Am I just expecting too much out of this show?  I should go back and watch these first 10 eps of season 4 in order again during the month hiatus.  Because as I see it now ... everything was humming along quite nicely through 4.06.  I had my quibbles with those eps, as I always do, but overall, the storylines made sense.  The character motivations made sense.  I was WITH these guys.  I was with their plight.  I felt their struggles and their happiness and pain and everything along with them.  I was on the same wavelength with both heart and mind.  And then, ep 4.07 happened.  And 4.08.  And 4.09.  And we started to go down a weird path.  Strange things started happening, and they didn’t stop.

A random guest character who we’d spent almost zero time with previously (Helen), convinced Annie to make major life decisions after only a couple fairly robotic conversations.  Annie and Auggie broke up for no good reason.  A&A decided their breakup was a mistake, but with no explanation.  Teo took over an entire episode (two eps, sorta) and we kind of forgot who the star(s) of the show was (were).  Teo died right after we got to know him, but OFF camera and with almost zero time devoted to it.  Henry continued to be the puppetmaster behind ALL of this, but without ever giving a great explanation as to WHY he blames our characters for his son’s death.  Annie & Auggie acted like star-crossed lovers with insurmountable barriers between them, but I wasn’t quite sure why those barriers were so insurmountable.  Annie risked her entire *life and career* to avenge the death of a guy she was friendly acquaintances with, at best (Teo), and to help out her (ex)boss Arthur.  (A boss who, let’s not forget, was ready to sell her down the river in two seconds when she was in that coma accused of treason last season).  And finally in the end, Annie literally went through with giving up her *entire* life and identity because of the mess she had now gotten herself into with all this crap.

I don’t know what’s happening here.  I don’t feel like I’ve been with these characters in much of what they’ve been doing since ep 4.07.  I feel like I’ve been watching them do a bunch of shit, but none of it makes much sense.  It’s like I’m observing from outside but I don’t entirely speak their language.  It makes it all seem haphazard, and it results in me not being totally invested in it.  It lessens the impact of all of it for me by a huge amount.

Can we step back and take a moment to compare eps 4.07-10 with LAST season’s equivalent eps, 3.07-10?  Why did those eps in S3 have SUCH an impact on me mentally and emotionally, while these ones from S4 did not?  They actually had some major similarities.  Last season, Simon was in the Teo role.  I’ve been complaining that this season, the “Teo Braga Saga” ep(s) leading into Teo’s death felt like an obvious manipulation to me.  But if you think about it, ep 3.07 last year was EXACTLY the same thing, but for Simon instead.  Cuba, a.k.a. “the ep where we really get to know Simon Fischer right before they kill him,” was an extremely similar story structure.  So then why did THAT story work so well for me while these S4 episodes did not??

Here is my diagnosis: Annie’s struggle in those S3 episodes was PERSONAL.  The eps where we got to know Simon were not actually about Simon so much as they were about ANNIE, and her journey into this new weird space where she was trying to work a long con on a target for the first time ever, but she was also kinda falling in love with him.  It was about HER journey in both her career and personal life, with Simon as an integral part.  When Simon was killed, ANNIE was affected by that in every way possible, both mentally because she had fallen in love with him and also physically when she was nearly killed too, not to mention being betrayed/framed by her own boss to boot.  So then by ep 3.10, when Annie was out to get Lena in Russia, we were SO WITH her.  We were with her in every step she took because we got the full impact of all of this on her character, and by proxy we felt it *with* her.  And we felt Auggie and Joan’s struggles as well, as people who care about her.  And then that final showdown scene between Annie and Lena in that cabin in the woods in Russia was AMAZING.  It was completely badass because everything had built to that moment in a very clear and meaningful way.

Now let’s look at S4.  Who has this season actually been *about*??  For the first 6 eps, it seemed like it was about Annie and Auggie and their struggles with everything going on around them, including Henry.  It felt like it was told from their perspective.  They were doing well in their personal lives, but their work life was clearly becoming a huge issue.  Ep 4.07 should have been focused on them as well, but it ended up being more focused on Helen, and the way the story was told there just didn’t accomplish its goal of convincing us that A&A would break up over the events in that ep.  And then suddenly eps 4.08 and 9 just seemed to to focus away from Annie & Auggie entirely.  Suddenly Teo and Arthur were the stars of the show, and A&A and Joan were just supporting characters.  Annie was like an impartial third party, a therapist and go-between for Teo and Arthur in their struggle with Henry.  She was just on the sidelines looking vaguely concerned and trying to help.  The last scene of 4.09 is what really cemented this for me: It ended with Arthur watching Henry kind of speak to him through the television.  It was like the “Henry vs. Arthur” element of the season kind of came out and took center stage and said, “Yes that’s right, I am the star of season 4!!”

How did Annie relate to any of this other than having gotten herself pulled into it by letting Henry manipulate her with that damn folder in scene 1 of the season??  It’s been established that this woman is WAYY too dedicated to her job, so I GET that, don’t get me wrong.  But these last couple eps leading into 4.10 have just been so focused AWAY from her and her motivations that all of this stuff started to feel impersonal to me and I felt myself disconnecting from it.  I know Annie’s relationship with Teo was supposed to have been established as something that would have sent her over the point of no return when Henry framed Teo and then when Teo died, but as usual the writers were trying to shove so many plot points into these episodes that we just didn’t get enough time devoted to that relationship and story, or Annie’s personal investment in it, for it to be convincing.  It was like somehow Arthur and Teo’s family therapist (i.e. Annie) began fighting all their battles FOR them, but I wasn’t ever fully convinced as to why she cared so much about her “patients” that she’d risk her entire LIFE AND CAREER to become their own personal warrior against Henry.

At some point in ep 4.10, Annie makes a statement to Auggie that Henry is also responsible for breaking them up, so that was another way the writers were trying to establish her personal stake in all of this.  But was their break-up *really* Henry’s fault?  Assuming we’re to buy the reason A&A broke up to begin with, wouldn’t Helen have been someone who could have shown up at any point and broken them up in this exact same way on her own??  Henry may have been the catalyst to speed this up, but he was NOT the actual cause of the root problem to begin with.  Their jobs are going to be stressful and challenging to their relationship no matter what after all; if it’s not Henry it’ll just be someone or something else.  I just didn’t buy that as being a valid personal motivator for Annie to *quite* this extreme extent.

So then, all of this somehow culminates in Annie pushing herself into such a corner in eps 4.09 and 4.10 that her career is about to be obliterated unless she can find some sort of permanent way out of the whole mess.  Calder somehow goes from “I’m bringing you in for possible treason” to “O.k. I’ll help you fake your death so you can keep working to bring down Henry” in a SPLIT SECOND with exactly ZERO screentime devoted to how he gets there.  Yes, we had Auggie making progress on convincing Calder of Henry’s evilness leading into it, but at that moment in time in his convo with Annie, he clearly still needed more convincing.  And yet, what Annie says to him in this scene somehow does the trick, magically, but we don’t know exactly how, because apparently the writers (or editors) didn’t have enough time in this ep to devote to that part of the story.

And then, we wind up with a final sequence starting with Annie’s letter to Danielle and ending with that great Eyal scene that SHOULD have been fucking amazing.  It should have been just as amazing and ass-kicking as that final showdown with Lena in 3.10.  That Annie/Eyal scene *was* amazing out of context.  Out of context, I LOVED it.  But IN context, it just didn’t feel properly earned.  I didn’t fully see how we got there.  I didn’t feel like I was with Annie’s struggle, or feeling her feels in every damn thing that led INTO it.  I was left outside of Annie’s head this time, unlike last season.

My cousin put it quite well in a text to me about that scene: “It made me sad and nostalgic for the character connections of yesteryear.”  EXACTLY.  This scene actually depressed me.  I just watched the ep for the 2nd time and it actually seriously got me choked up.  It bums me out like hell because it gives me a flash of how brilliant, and emotionally and mentally impactful this all COULD have been, if anything building UP to it had made sense and resonated with me.  Because like I said, in *theory*, Annie being forced into a position where she has to fake her own death and go dark/rogue IS FUCKING AWESOME.  This sets us up for something that COULD be amazing and ass-kicking in the back 6 episodes.  But my confusion on how the hell we got to this point makes me feel like both my heart and brain have been pushed out of the whole thing.  It’s like I’m looking at a list of ingredients that could blow my mind if they were combined together in a way that made sense and gelled, by some master chef who could turn them into a masterpiece.  But they just ... weren’t this time.  Not this season.  Not in these first 10 eps, at least.  I was teased for the first 6 eps into thinking we were on our way there, but then somehow the train went off the tracks and it never quite got back on.  And I’m fucking BUMMED about it.

Just a few random thoughts before my grade:
  • Annie spelling out “LMFAO” in the IMing scene had me LMFAO.
  • Another issue I’ve had with CA S4 is that I’ve been able to see nearly every “twist” coming from miles away lately.  It seems like the last major turn we were shocked by was when Annie killed Seth, and that was way back in ep 4.02.  And in that vein, I dunno how effective it was to put in that second flash-forward to the elevator scene in 4.05.  It had us guessing that Annie would fake her death, but I would MUCH rather the writers have spent the eps leading into 4.10 focusing on properly building up to HOW Annie would come to that massively monumental decision about her life to begin with.  Bring us into her head, guys!!  She is the MAIN character, right??  Why does this seem so impossible lately??
  • BOTH Katie and Shelby point this out to me and it’s a great point: What the hell was the deal with the scene where Annie steals the clothes in the store to change her outfit??  The new outfit looked almost exactly the same as the old one!!  And she had already miraculously gotten the blood stains out of the original one!!  Did she just want slightly cuter clothes for the rest of her mission??
  • Auggie putting Henry in a headlock.  BWAHAHA.
  • The CIA putting THAT much trust in Henry at this point, after previously being imprisoned for treason??  Come ON man.

GRADE: O.k. hold up.  Now that I’ve seen all 10 eps of the summer season, these are the grades I’d give each ep:

401: 87
402: 94
403: 89
404: 88
405: 90
406: 91
407: 60
408: 68
409: 71
410: 75

I know I changed some of them, but now that I see where it was all headed, I’m realizing that maybe I was too optimistic on a few of these before seeing the rest of the season.  4.10 as a standalone episode would get a higher grade because it was a very entertaining ep, but taken in context of the whole season leading into it, it’s a lot less effective.

I have a feeling a lot you might disagree with me on this.  A lot of you probably thought 4.10 was super kick-ass and you’re gonna wonder why I have to be such a freakin’ downer.  Well, I dunno why.  But season 3 (the first 11 or 12 eps) set my expectations of this show REALLY high.  Maybe I should have kept them lower??  Sigh.  Tell me in the comments.

The Plopper


18 September, 2013

Review - SUITS 3.10: 'Stay'

Considering even I'm sick of using these reviews to complain, I'm sure you are too. Who cares if the summer finale wasn't just the way I wanted it or that there were some nitpicks here and there.

I had fun watching it. And that's all that matters. It's an entertaining show with some great characters and sharp dialogue. Not much to really complain about when I really think about it.

To no one's surprise Rachel is staying and not going to Stanford. Disappointing story-telling wise in that it was obvious from the get-go that's how it would turn out. But what choice did the show really have? I'm not too invested in those two as a couple, but I'm going to have to live with it because it's a huge part of the show.

I am glad that Harvey has a love interest again. Because when you really think about the show's past, he really hasn't had too many. He's hooked up with a few women from time to time, but for the most part he hasn't cared too much about them. It's nice to see Harvey vulnerable and it's a nice distraction from the constant Mike and Rachel drama. And it doesn't hurt that I love Scottie.

The second that Sheila told Louis not to touch the files, we all knew that he would look for Mike Ross' file. But I'm glad he did, because it adds a potentially great dynamic when the show returns. With everything staying the same, we needed a shake-up and now we got it. Cool.

Last thoughts: Donna is awesome, I miss Katrina and I still feel like Jessica isn't utilized enough on this show.

What did you all think of the summer finale?


--MIKE: "And second of all, people actually have girlfriends after high school, which you wouldn't know because emotionally you never graduated."
--HARVEY: "Well I guess you're the expert, because the only thing you graduated from is high school."

--LOUIS: "I've just been wam-bam candidate man. I mean, any woman who has been repeatedly Litt up would demand exclusive dominion over my body."

--SCOTTIE: "After meeting you, I'd say there's an 80% chance there's a roofie in there."

--HARVEY: "Because he's a lying son of a bitch, you're a piece of shit and this is the end of this deposition."

--LOUIS: "Give me a deed, I'll do it. Give me a mountain, I'll climb it, Give me a Katy Perry song, I'll sing it."


--Scottie (Abigail Spencer) is impossibly gorgeous.

--Apparently there are only four REAL lawyers in New York: Harvey, Gary Cole, Eric Close and Abigail Spencer. They just keep receycling these people. I half-expected to see Daniel Hardman in this one.

--The "call your mom for a box of tissues" line wasn't Harvey's finest work.

--Assuming payphones still exist, I don't think a quarter is enough to make a call anyway.

--I found it implausible that Stephen Huntley was stupid enough to admit to Donna that he was lying. Oh well.

--Where can I buy that glossy photo of Louis?

--Is Louis right? Is Fed-Ex AM delivery a scam?


2013 Summer Movies in Review


11 September, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.09: 'Hang Wire'

Last week I mentioned that I’d be out of the country for Covert Affairs eps 4.09-10, but that I’d do everything I could to watch them while away.  I managed to do that tonight for 4.09, late of course, so I figured I’d post a short version of my usual review.

Instead what it seems to be though, rather than short, is fairly long, but just shitty instead, with less cohesiveness in my thoughts.  Err ... maybe “shitty” is not the right word.  What I meant to say is “amazing.”  You should definitely read it.  Here are my quick and shitty/life-changing thoughts:

Remember early on in season 4, when Henry met Arthur for lunch and literally spelled out for him, “I am going to kill your son because you killed my son” ?  I’m paraphrasing of course, but that is essentially what he said.  In my review of that episode, my question to his declaration was, “WHY??”  Given the person that Henry has been for this entire series since the beginning of season 1, it makes complete sense that he’d eventually wind up as a “big bad” for our characters.  But have we ever once had it explained to us in any of these episodes, just exactly WHY Henry blames Arthur for Jai’s death??  Other than Arthur being in charge at the time Jai died??  At that time the answer was no, but I heard some good theories on it from fellow fans.  Fast forward to ep 4.09, and I just realized, we STILL don’t know the answer to this question!!  Do we??  Did I miss something?  We shouldn’t have to still be guessing and theorizing on the motives of the bad guy at the root of the *primary* ongoing story arc this season.

And what about Henry’s rundown of his ENTIRE evil plot to get his revenge on Arthur - from beginning to end - to Annie right before he had the helicopter blown up?  Reminded me a bit of the Scooby Doo-esque ending of nearly every ep of ‘Castle’, where the criminal explains every detail of their crime and their motivations for committing it, to Castle and Beckett.  “And I would’ve gotten away with it too if not for you meddling kids!!”  Only with Henry, I'm still confused on his motivations.  And then he purposely lets Annie go to see how she handles it.  I mean of COURSE she was gonna get Teo out of it, she’s the plucky protagonist who can get herself and her buddies out of any pickle!!  (Until they get shot in the leg).

And speaking of Baby Teo – my first reaction to his death was, I have to give points to the writers for bucking the norm on #5 from HGF’s article, “TOP 10 Stupid Things TV and Film Makers Do”:  “Arm and leg bullet wounds are shrugged off even though they can be extremely painful, result in broken bones, and cause severe blood-loss that can kill just as easily as any other wound.”  Good job, Covert Writers.  I think??  That is assuming that Teo doesn’t show up alive again later in a “shocking twist.”  Because if that happens, the points the writers earned here plus every point they’ve ever earned for anything else ever will be taken away.  Because not only is this one of the most cliché things in all of spy TV shows and soap operas, it has now been done on THIS show in THIS season once, and most likely twice as of next week’s ep when Annie fakes her own death.  Probably.  AND it would completely invalidate the impact that Teo’s death was supposed to have on Arthur and the rest of our characters.  Kind of like that time Annie and Auggie broke up for no reason and then made everyone cry, and then 5 seconds later changed their minds and everything was fine again.

Back to Teo.  My other thought on this is, assuming he IS really dead, it makes me even more annoyed with LAST week’s episode, 4.08, a.k.a. The Teo Braga Saga.  Because at the time, my cousin pointed out that she felt like the writers were manipulating us into caring as much as possible about Teo so that killing him off later would be more impactful.  And hey look!  It only took them one week to prove her right.  It seems.  Though it happened in an oddly rushed, off-screen manner.  Which is what makes me a bit suspicious.  And just WHAT was the deal with all of Annie and Teo’s conversations in this ep??  Her comments about not wanting to “lose him” on the rooftop struck me as the typical tactic Annie takes when trying to turn a target/asset.  So I didn’t think much of it.  But then later in the car ... I don’t know.  Was that just more bonding to make us more sad when Teo died?

O.k. last thing I want to touch on here: I’m starting to realize that nearly the ENTIRETY of the almost absent character focus or insight we’ve gotten on Annie this season has come from Henry Wilcox’s observations on how she reacts to his “challenges”.  And every single time, Annie has responded by shrugging it off.  Even in this episode, when she finally starts to concede that *maybe* she’s made some mistakes along the way in letting her heart lead over her head, she ends that statement with a sarcastic quip that she should’ve let Teo kill Henry instead of stopping him.  While it did make me laugh, it also somewhat invalidated the ONE time she actually seemed to take two seconds to consider what he was telling her.  Though she did make the same statement to Teo himself later in the ep, in a serious manner.  Maybe it sunk in a little after all?  OH and I genuinely liked Teo’s comments to her about wishing he could go back to the days when he could be carefree, but then per usual, Annie responded with her typical: dead silence and/or change the subject.  Like hey, what does Annie think about this?  Who the hell knows!!  We rarely know the answer to that question these days.

And then this made me think: I have a bad feeling that we may end up getting zero insight at ALL into what leads to Annie’s decision to fake her death next week (4.10), other than the standard plot points: “Must get out of Germany.  I’m a wanted criminal.  Must escape Henry.  Must fake death.  Must dye hair brown.” (robot voice).  A + B = C.  Zzzz.  And that will be … INFUUUURRRRIATING to me.  We’ll see; I can’t judge it before I see it.

Here are a few of my other random thoughts:

  • Do you love that the episode where we finally find out Calder is a “good guy” also involves TWO major “Calder drives his Jag in a douchey manner” scenes?
  • For her first couple scenes, I felt like the lawyer character was someone who must have been on a previous episode of CA.  Turns out it was Homeland.  I guess the spy shows are running together for me now.
  • Who is it that gets to decide in each episode whether Annie gets to wear sensible shoes vs. heels? I can never quite figure out the logic.  Sometimes it depends on her cover, but not always.
  • Is it possible in ANY circumstance to survive a jump from a building that high??  That was a little insane.
  • "Care to explain where you’ve been for the past FIFTEEN HOURS!?"  Joan’s Calder-smackdown was pretty amazing.
  • My cousin Katie’s comments on the method in which Teo was framed for the missile/helicopter bombing: “What was the plan on leaving the missile launcher with him??  The cops were going to find him passed out with it and go, ‘Well, looks like it’s definitely this guy who launched the rocket and then took a nap!’”  Mystery solved.  This made me laugh really, really hard.  I guess the assumption would be that he got knocked out from the blast itself??
  • Auggie’s gratuitous shirt scene.  Seriously.  I don’t even know.  Your guess is as good as mine.
  • Auggie’s phone convo with Annie about taking time off in the Galapagos islands, where no one can find them – Was that little reminiscent of Simon, Annie and the Maldives in “Glass Spider”?  I know Auggie’s plan was more of a vacation ... I think ... but still.  Was that on purpose?

Anyway I know I mainly just listed complaints here, but overall I thought this ep was better than last week and the week before.  I’m going to write a more cohesive review of 4.10 when I get back from my trip on Weds 9/18 that will probably somewhat cover both of these eps.  This was such a set-up episode that I’m kind of lost on what grade to even assign to it. 

GRADE: 80.  I think. 

Let’s be honest, I should’ve given 4.07 a 60.  And I should’ve given 4.08 a 70 (I know, still a bit better than HGF’s grade).  Right now I’m at about an 80 for 4.09, but at this point I’m mainly just concerned about what 4.10 is gonna bring to the table after all this.  I’ve already got thoughts on what I’ll write in my review for that one, if it goes the way I think it’ll go.  Maybe it won’t.  Maybe they’ll surprise me.  Maybe.

Tell me how shitty my review was in the comments section.

The Plopper

2013 Summer Movies in Review


10 September, 2013

GeekFurious the Podcast - Episode 200: 2013 Summer Movies in Review

Vlad and Magnus discuss the summer movies of 2013 that we saw (and some we didn't) and name the winners and losers. Discussions are timestamped below for your convenience.

WARNING: while we tried to stay away from spoilers, you may want to avoid some discussions anyway (Star Trek definitely has spoiler talk).

00:00 - INTRO
14:00 - 2013 Summer Movie Discussion begins
14:27 - GI Joe Retaliation
17:16 - Fast & Furious 6
18:33 - Iron Man 3
22:37 - Quick mention of This is The End's potential effect on The World's End box office
22:58 - Man of Steel
24:22 - We talk about the problem of building up characters in movies vs. television
26:57 - Wolverine
28:58 - Star Trek Into Darkness
37:27 - Pacific Rim
43:24 - Before Midnight
54:17 - World War Z (and a bit on Shaun of the Dead) aka "Magnus hates zombies"
1:10:51 We skip through a bunch of movies & some We're the Millers talk
1:12:36 The World's End and an overall discussion of the trilogy (this is long)
1:40:37 Top 3 Summer Movies from Vlad and Magnus and the outro




04 September, 2013

The Plopper Reviews - COVERT AFFAIRS 4.08: 'I've Been Waiting for You'

I mean ... look ... Covert Affairs ... here’s the thing.  This episode was better than last week.  By a comfortable margin.  But, was it everything I look for in a great ep of this show?  Eh, we’re not quite back to that place yet.  I’ve still got a few bones to pick.

First off, I love baby Teo.  Anyone who has read any review I’ve written of any episode involving our Sweet Puma Cub knows of my undying love for him.  So when I saw from the previews that this week’s ep seemed to be Teo-heavy, I was happy.  Especially because watching Helen take over last week’s ep was like watching a cat screech its nails across a chalkboard for a full hour, culminating in the equivalent of that Sarah McLachlan SPCA commercial with those horribly sad mistreated animals, i.e. the “A&A break up for no reason” scene.  “I’ve Been Waiting For You” was supposed to be like a palate cleanser for that, if you will.  It was supposed to soothe my aching CA-fan soul.  And it did, somewhat.  But oddly enough ... the Teo-heavy nature of this episode ended up kind of *annoying* me as well.  Partly.  I felt o.k. with it until about halfway through the ep, at which point I realized that this was going to be the entire episode.  This was IT.  I mean, for the most part.

Let me explain.  We spent all of last week’s ep dumping HUGE HORRIBLE stuff on our main characters.  Helen was really alive, Auggie was freaking out, Annie had to go on a whole mission with Helen, Helen convinced Annie her whole life was going the wrong direction, Auggie inexplicably decided the same thing on his own, A&A broke up, everything was suddenly horrible and dark and gloomy.  And then, this week, we spent almost ZERO time actually dealing with ANY fallout from that.  We got a slightly angsty and awkward mission set-up scene from A&A at the beginning, and then boom, at the end ... well ok.  Hold up.  I’ll address the end in a few mins.  Let’s talk about the rest of the episode first. 

It’s not that I don’t care about Teo’s plight - about his mission to avenge his mother’s murder, his mission to stop the ALC, and his relationship with Arthur.  I DO care.  I just don’t care about that AS much as I care about our MAIN freaking characters.  All I ask for is an episode that is a little more balanced to cover BOTH of these bases.  We got some plot movement on the “Henry Wilcox is funding the ALC” plotline, the little prisoner field trip fake-out scheme was fun, and Manolo Cardona even got me a little choked up in his scene with Arthur in the forest.  That was all entertaining enough.  I just wish that Teo and Annie could have talked about SOMETHING else at some point in this ep (the damn hotel room maybe??) other than Teo’s daddy issues.  Yes, we touched a tad on Auggie and Arthur lying to Annie, but barely anything at all.  Once again, we got an episode where all the character focus went to someone OTHER than our main character(s - including Auggie this time).  As happens pretty often on this show, Annie seems to exist for no reason other than to enable OTHER characters to get real deep and confront THEIR own issues with themselves and their cohorts.  Annie just watches from the sideline and gives sympathetic looks and wears cute shoes and runs around crashing trucks and dodging bombs and shit.  Annie, honey, I want more for you.  I’ve seen glimpses in the past that we can get more, but I can’t help but constantly feel like those were just teases for something that’s never going to happen.  Like the elusive backstory on Joan’s pill addiction that we’ll likely never get.

Anyway.  Let’s get to that ending now, shall we?  The truck blows up, the mysterious bad guy disappears, Teo’s buddy dies, Teo feels sad/pissed, Teo runs.  Annie comes home, finds her apartment totally ransacked, and runs over to Auggie’s to warn him.  Calder shows up before Auggie can even start to do a proper sweep of his place, but before Annie runs to hide from Calder, we get Auggie’s “Wait Annie!!  I decided everything Helen said was wrong!!”  OK GREAT Auggie well I’m glad you finally pulled your head out of your ass on that one, but WHY!!?  HOW did you come to this decision??  WHAT was it that led you to realize that everything Helen said was wrong??  Oh, sorry!!  We didn’t get to see any of that because we spent the ENTIRE EPISODE on Teo.  We had to spend the whole thing focusing on a character that for all we know, could very well end up dead a few eps from now.  Remember, no matter how dreamy he is and no matter how much we love him, he’s not a series regular.  He’s only a guest star.  We can’t get too attached (remember Simon and that hail of bullets?).  That convo between Joan & Teo about him joining the CIA after all this felt a bit foreboding to me for some reason.

I don’t think I would be nearly as annoyed right now if this was, say, ep 4.03 or something.  Early in the season, we’ve got more time for episodes like this.  But this was 4.08 – there are only TWO episodes left of the summer season.  We only have approximately one, maybe 1.5 more episodes until Annie somehow finds herself faking her own death (err, most likely, based on all the obvious clues we’ve been given so far).  I feel much less like we can afford to spend an entire ep focusing solely on a guest star this late in the season.  This ep reminded me a lot of eps 313-15 last year, when 95% of the episode time was spent focusing on friggin' Megan and Khalid instead of giving proper focus to our main characters.  Maybe I should just be happy that at least I LIKE Teo, unlike Megan and Khalid (blech).

Do any of you watch ‘Castle’?  Anyone who watches 'Castle' will understand what it’s like to spend 97% of every single episode suffering through the case-of-the-week, in the desperate hope that they’ll give us like TWO MINUTES of general character development time or Castle/Beckett time before the ep is over.  And that’s if we’re lucky.  CA, thank GOD, is NOT normally like that at all, because the mission-of-the-week is rarely boring and the ongoing plotlines are a *bazillion* times more engaging.  But I swear to god, this week, I felt that exact “COME OOONNN!!” feeling I get from‘Castle’ nearly EVERY week.  Again, I totally get that we can’t get character time in every episode of a given series, but the closer we get to the end of the season with so many unresolved issues, the more frustrated I get.

Here are my general ramblings:

  • Teo’s story to Annie about doing deep cover work w/the ALC … I’m not sure if that is yet another clue about Annie faking her own death in 4.10.  It’s not like Annie can pretend to be someone else with Henry after she’s “dead.”  We’ll see.
  • Again we have protective Joan in this ep, which I continue to enjoy.
  • Annie punching Teo in the hotel room was pretty hilarious.
  • Again Manolo Cardona did a really good job with the scene in the woods w/Arthur.  I got a little verklempt.
  • Uggh effing Calder in the helicopter.  And smashing apartments.  And everywhere.  I had hoped we’d find out in this ep that maybe he’s actually a good guy, but no dice.  I’m still convinced he’ll eventually wind up on Annie’s side though.  Otherwise that flashforward scene from the elevator just doesn’t work, unless he’s *actually* shooting her.  But there’s no way in hell they’d shoot her nearly dead AGAIN.
  • So Henry essentially killed Teo’s mom, eh?  Sucks but I mean ... Henry is responsible for EVERYTHING bad this season, so, duh.  It’s like my friend Shelby said the other day ... I’m paraphrasing but it was something like, “They can’t just make Henry responsible for SOME of the bad things, he has to be responsible for ALL of the effing bad things.”  I’m totally fine with having a “big bad” this season, but I feel like it worked a bit better with Lena last year, because we didn’t KNOW she was bad until 3.08.  But I guess in the end, she was kinda responsible for all the bad things too.
  • The prisoner truck-crashing scene was kind of ... awkwardly filmed.  I laughed when it crashed because of the way poor Piper was having to throw herself around in that thing during the “crashing” hahaha.  And the guy shooting at the truck, conveniently a HORRIBLE shot until the second Teo finally got out of harm’s way.
  • So the flash drive has been found!!  Uh oh.  This honestly seems like a much bigger bit of plot movement than ANYTHING that happened regarding Teo and Henry.  And it happened in the last damn minute of the episode.  Grrrr.
  • Where the hell do A&A go from here?  Well, at the very least, they’re back in a place where they are fully out in the open with each other that they still WANT to be together.  But I have a feeling they will need to stay “broken up” for now in order to take down Henry the way they are planning to.
Bottom line: This episode was better than last week.  But there was still a good deal left to be desired, for me.  If I were Randy Jackson I’d say, “It was just aiight for me, dog.”  It’s like HGF said in a comment last week – This show has shown me that it’s capable of pretty great things.  I just want it to live up to what I know it’s capable of, that’s all.

GRADE: 80/100

[Editor's note: The Plopper's being too generous. We, the executive group at this blog, give the episode a 60 out of 100. Last week's was crap too. We now return you to your scheduled program.]

I know this is only 3 points higher than last week, but if I had last week’s grade to assign all over again, it would be lower.  I probably would have given it like a 73, tops.  Maybe my opinion of 4.08 will change depending on what happens 4.09 & 4.10, but I won’t know till we get there.  What do you guys think, am I just being a dick??  Are my expectations too high??

NOTE: I will NOT BE IN THE U.S. for eps 4.09 and 4.10.  Clearly I should have checked with the PTB at USA channel on CA’s summer schedule before planning my vacay.  I’m going to do *everything* in my power to watch those eps from Europe.  Pray to the sweet puma gods for me; I hope I’m successful.  IF I can make that happen, I *might* do a super quickie short review of 4.09 (tho it’ll be late bc of timezones).  Then, I will be back home the day AFTER 4.10 airs.  Not until the afternoon though.  My plan is to have a FULL review of 4.10 (or maybe both eps together) up by late Wednesday, 9/18.  Wish me luck, I’ll need it.

The Plopper