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So much to love!

In which we're going to pretend I'm writing this on Thursday night instead of Sunday morning.

'Survivor Gabon: The Good Things In Life Aren't Easy
Seriously, people.  This was such an incredible episode, I had to go buy a copy of it on Amazon.  The last time I felt enough love for a Survivor scene to keep an episode kicking around (*sorely misses tapes*) was Ian & Katie's tearful fight/hug-filled apology in Palau.  Spring 2005.  Yeah, that tells you something.  And this episode just might have beaten it for the sheer volume of SQUEE.  *huggles it close* 

In case I have not previously made it clear, I LOVE BOB.  I love everything about him to bits.  He reaffirmed this love right off the bat, where he got legitimately upset at everyone for laughing at Randy.  Randy.  A few people on the boards got grouchy at Bob for being hypocritical, but no - he was OK with blindsiding Randy - especially to save himself - but he was not okay with people being so mean-spirited, openly mocking and gloating, no matter who it was.  He is a far better person than I could ever hope to be.

Meanwhile, for as easily annoyed as I get with many people, I don't think I could be as bad as Corinne if I tried.  "I'm nice to people that I LIKE"?  Well then!  As long as you're not ridiculously judgmental towards everyone else and/or call them "mutants," I can hardly fault you for - oh wait.  I don't understand how one person can be so consistently horrible.  "If I told everyone what I said behind their back to their face, I wouldn't be playing a very good game, would I?"  As opposed to an option she doesn't mention, NOT TALKING **** ABOUT PEOPLE AT ALL. 

I personally love that Sugar stands her ground and proceeds to make her look stupid: Corinne yelps that she's here to play the game, not make friends, and Sugar beams and proudly informs her that playing the game is exactly what they just did.  "Ya hit the nail on the head ,Corinne," she says at one point, and the contempt dripping from her voice is delicious.  I feel like I mixed a lot of metaphors there.

Up next, we have the reward challenge, where I immediately fly into a hissy fit about the fact that Jeff says (actually, he implies, but that went over my head) that they didn't fly the family members out.  "WHAT THE %()#*&%#(*% %(&%)#(%#?!  The (%)#*&%# is wrong with you? That's the most freaking irritating thing ever; %%$# you and your %(#*&%# Sprint phone product placement!  I don't care how Super Shiny your video capabilities are!"  I can't remember if I generally like the family challenges or not - I think I do, right? - but at this point I would have killed to see Matty's girlfriend, about whom I have heard so much praise and have thus begun to fall in love with on principle.

Instead we see brief video clips - and I want to hug everybody as they fall into tears (aww, Kenny, and he's all embarrassed!), and you can't help love how proud Susie is to show off "her men," but I haven't even finished grinning like a fool over Bob's adorable and supportive wife, or his pride when someone says she's pretty or how he gets a little choked up saying he's the luckiest man in the world, when suddenly it's Matty's turn, and I'm all "HELLO!!"  The fabled Jamie is not only drop-dead-gorgeous, she's holding a Pug to say hello as well!  They have a dog!  THIS IS SO EXCELLENT.

Also, because today is all about love, nobody's going to Exile!  One person will, however, be publicly ostracized and prevented from having a chance at winning.  Nothing says love like pinpointing and then punishing the most unpopular player!

The challenge itself is sort of boring (spiced up by Sugar's brief moment of toplessness), people tied with ropes and slogging through mud to pick up cog pieces, and I mostly occupy my mind with thinking about all the potential for injury with the sharp ends of those things.  It gets a little better when they have to fit those cog pieces together to make a simple machine, and Bob - despite his team being behind - puts it together so fast he might as well have been reading directions.  Directions he wrote. 

The long and short of it is that they win, and while I'm crushed that Matty won't get a longer message from his girlfriend ("*sigh* At least she's not really there, right?"), this now gives Bob free rein to kick just as much ass at the final leg of the challenge, putting together a slide puzzle (kill it!  kill it with fire!) with what appear to be zero wrong moves and WINNING THE REWARD, HO YEAH!  BOOM!  *pumps fist*  GO BOB.  (shut up, Kenny, you little weasly rat.  Don't even talk about voting Bob out before Corinne.) 

Now we're at reward, and I am fantasizing about how 24 hours from now, I am going to celebrate being done with my paper by recreating this feast of black-olive-pizza, brownies some dessert that hasn't been ruined by The Office, beer pop, and a long video message from home of whatever TV show strikes my fancy.  Well, OK, it will be more like a similar take on the reward.

Anyway, this is what becomes the greatest thing I have ever seen (so far): Bob kicking back and relaxing (on a couch, no less!) as he plays the video message, swiping at his eyes the napkin.  After a brief introduction she says "Hang on a second, there's something I want to show you," and goes offscreen.  Bob and I are equally intent about what she's gone to get - he even taps the screen, prompting "Show me what?" - and then THIS SHOW TOTALLY GOT ME as Peggy herself - live and in the flesh! - comes creeping out from around a tree behind him.

I am not above admitting I screamed with shock and delight.

The only thing greater is that he is just SO intensely focused on the message from home that it takes him like a million years to realize someone is standing next to him - but then it takes him about a fifteenth of a second for his brain to catch up with what's caught his attention at the corner of his eye, and the explosion of joy is MARVELOUS, MARVELOUS I TELL YOU.  If I may borrow a statement from an ihasahotdog macro?


Seriously, cutest couple ever?  I'm going to have to take it into consideration.  There is just so much love, I cannot stop squealing.  I question her declaration that he "smelt so good" (like a campfire, apparently, but...really?), but I love that she's just all grinny about how she knows he's happy, and the full beard (YES.  Keep that plz), and I love his excited babbling, and their quick little kiss, and the toast and "we're in Africa!" and...

Wait, it gets better?  The devil you say!  No, seriously, my cheeks already hurt from smiling when he got to bring his wife back to camp to meet everyone (Me: "Oh man, poor Matty.  Way to rub it in"), and then Sugar squeals "Bob and Peggy!" and can't dash out of the hut fast enough.  Suzie hopefully asks Peggy "Did you see my husband?" (aww), but there's no time to answer that question because about ten seconds later...

Bob: This is really cool, watch this: *whistles*
Everyone, Including Me: NO WAY.  (WINCAKES FOR MATTY!)

YES WAY!  They're here!  LKJASLDKFJALKS;DJFLKASJDFASDF!!!  Is my basic reaction to this development.  Seriously, I am in physical pain from stretching my cheeks so wide with this enormous grin.  I love how he plays it up, all proud of being the bearer of good news and sharing something wonderful with everyone, and how he's sort of like a sheepdog bringing in the herd.  (except for being way ahead of them.  Same difference.)

My actual running commentary: EVERYONE!  OH MY GOD!  MATTY'S ON THE VERGE OF CRYING!  EVERYONE ELSE ALREADY IS!  THIS IS EFFING BRILLIANT.  SHOW!  I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. 

What a far cry from the days where you couldn't even touch your loved on if you lost, eh?  Now this a day all about the love.  Man.  Best twist this show has ever, ever, ever pulled out.  Watching everyone run to their family was like cheesiest Hallmark movie moment ever, AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.  I got teary-eyed myself, both the first and second times I watched.  Even Corinne and her brother - someone who "knows how mean I am and loves me for it"?  Way to not even try to pretend what a jerk you are - made me go "aww."  Crystal and Susie with their respective husbands, Kenny and his sister trying to out-sob each other, Sugar's sister somehow looking even sweeter than her...all of them eclipsed by Matty and Jamie.  From the moment she jumped into his arms, I was blinded by squee. 

Firstly, she is so pretty I cannot get over it.  Look at her hair!  Gorgeous, almost waist-length waves.  Gah.  I am either totally envious or utterly smitten, possibly both.  That is hair perfection right there.  Add to that her perfect body, and the fact that from what little we see of her, she seems genuine and pretty nice...look, I had concocted an idealistic fantasy of Jamie in my head, and somehow this vision matched up perfectly with reality.  You know how often that happens?  Like, never.  They are effing brilliant together and everything I ever wanted them to be. 

Secondly, I can no longer remember a time where I called Matty's face a hot circle of garbage and/or was thoroughly disgusted by him as a person, because as of this moment I am officially in a state of swoon and possibly ready to throw out some adjectives like "dreamy."   Thirdly, we should probably just not even count how many times I've watched their reunion, because I am dangerously flaily about how he has his face buried in her neck, and pulls back to just gaze at her, only to decide he can't let go of her for more than three seconds and goes back to hugging her. 

I was a little weirded out by Sugar sprinkling "some" of her dad's ashes in Africa - I feel a little weird about cremation in general,  but scattering ashes has always seemed weirdest, and scattering them in different places seems flat-out wrong - but since it got her to cry and then seemed to give her cathartic release/closure, I'm OK with it.  I'm punch-drunk with love!

Hey, speaking of love!  LET'S PILE IT ON SOME MORE.  Matty and Jamie time!  I cannot lie, I am more excited about a scene with the two of them right now than I am about one with Jim and Pam later tonight.  Furthermore, in the interest of disclosure, ever since that episode where he first went on and on about her, it has been my crazy half-cocked wish to see him propose.  I was thinking one of those reunion show proposals, but hey, on the show? Even better.
Me: Oh my God - really?   Are you really??  YOU ARE.  OH MY GOD! 
I literally jumped out of my chair and started jumping up and down during this scene.  The floor was like a trampoline, I was springing so high.

Sure, it's rambling and blubbery, and he keeps hugging and kissing her instead of waiting for answer, and he asks it like eight different times and ways even after she accepts, but it is SO RIDONKULOUSLY CUTE.  The first time I was terrified that she was going to be kind of disturbed by it - I might have been! - but apparently they really are as serious as Matty's been making them out to be, and while she does her best to keep him from totally falling apart, she's also really, really happy. 

I think the best part is in Phase II of the 3-phase proposal, after he finishes the long list of things he wants to share with her (including the past, which made me crack up, although the rest of the sentiment was beautiful) and shows her the handmade necklace and asks her to be his wife.  Her mouth kind of falls open and her eyes pop, like it's really sinking in.  Phase III is just sort of lolsome, when he's like "Should I get down on one knee?" but the effect is ruined by the fact that he doesn't so much strike a proposal pose as kneel and then grab her around the waist and hug her some more.  But that's OK, because she just keeps laughing "Yes, yes, yes!" and I JUST WANT TO SQUISH THEM.  Can they be, like, married by the time the reunion show happens?  When did this get filmed?  How long does it take to plan weddings?  

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Now, all this was in the first half of the episode.  At this point, I started worrying that after the squee high, things would zoom downhill and Bob was going to get voted out.  But no!  In another classic example of Things Working In Bob's Favor, he comes up with this masterful plan to trick people with a second Very Good Fake Idol.  He tells the story to Corinne so flawlessly, without hesitation, that even I almost believed him.
Corinne: (seemingly in awe) And that's a legit idol??
Bob: *grins* No.  But it sounded pretty good, didn't it?

Of course, this plan also hinges on one of them winning immunity. 

Immunity challenge is up next.  It starts with trivia, which both Sugar and I rock at, to earn chances at pitching balls in an upside-down version of Skee ball.  You get to stand way up high and lob the balls down a hill, hoping they land in one of the rings nearest to the center.  This looks like SO MUCH FUN.  And then, just to make it more fun?  After an intense and nail-biting series of tosses, in which I am on the edge of my seat in fearful hope/dread, Bob KNOCKS IT OUTTA THE PARK and wins it outright.  Yes!  Two challenges in a row; my man is safe!  

At which point I suddenly fall into a nervous fit that he's going to pull an Erik and screw things up for himself.  Bob wouldn't be dumb enough to give away the immunity necklace itself, would he?

Not today!  Incredibly, they start whispering lines into Kenny's ears, and it works.  I cannot believe I'm rooting for Corinne to succeed at this point (*shudders*), but I love me some Bob.  And hey, worst case scenario is that Corinne gets kicked out.  Sad to see Bob's alliance splinter, but worth it to see her GONE.  The other worst case scenario, which sprang into being this week, is that Matty gets the boot.  But I figured that was OK too, since he'd be going out on a high note of engagement.  

Question: ...how the hell is Corinne later shown talking about how stupid the other people are for believing this story, which shows "the level of incompetence we're dealing with"?  SHE FELL FOR THE STORY TOO.

Nevertheless, at tribal I was all "...but I don't want Matty to gooooo!  Nooooo!"

And then?  Just to make sure this episode was perfect in every way?  HE DIDN'T.  No.  Boo-yah!   The overworked hamster in Ken's brain spun around one too many times and screwed him over, with the result that instead of playing her non-existent idol to save herself, Corinne's prissy, spoiled, judgmental ass got bounced out of there. Short of winning immunity I think Bob's luck and skill has probably run out by this point, but whatever, I don't even care.  I got this one perfect, untouchable episode of wonder, which totally made my week.  I have the strength to face finals now!

...no, I totally don't.  But we'll save that rant for another time
,

The Office: 5x09, "The Surplus"
Being on a Survivor high may have caused me to view this episode through a weird perception filter.  You've been warned.

'The Good
* JIM/PAM.  I bet you don't think they did enough tonight to warrant their own subsection, but you are wrong.  They will always get one.

* The chairs vs. copier war!!  I'm pretty sure I'd go with the copier, if only because I don't think individual chairs are that expensive, and if it was really that unbearable, you could just buy one yourself.  Then again, I'd have to be on Oscar's side to do that, and Jim or no Jim, all the lemonade-stand anaologies in the world aren't enough to make me forgive his "so holier than thou" quip from last time.  Does it undermine my credibility as a college student if I admit that the analogies increased my understanding of the situation 200%?

Ignoring the irritating selfish part in the middle, I also like the part where he unintentionally made the rather mature & sound decision to make them fight it out amongst themselves, and come to a concesus or risk getting nothing.

* Normally I chastise this show going for gross humor, but I have to admit that I still burst out laughing at the second time Andy steps in manure.  It never stops being funny, because "Why is this is in the KTICHEN?!"

* MOSE(!) NAILS ANDY IN THE HEAD WITH A BASKETBALL.  (Vicarious living: I has it!)  And my life is complete.

* Best line in the entire episode: Stanley's death glare.

The Bad
-I don't ever need to hear Pam say "there's that ass!" again.  Or even just the latter word.  (Shut up and let me have my illusion of her innocence.)  In fact, I'm going to need to wash the whole creepy plot point of people treating Michael like a king right out of my head.  Because ew.

-Actually, I'm not sure I can ever watch this episode again, because I'm on my second run-through now, and even when I know she's being deliberately over the top in her Michael fawning, my Pratt-era feelings of wanting to smack Pam across the face don't know the difference.  God, she's irritating in this. 

- Pam + bright red lipstick = oh, hell no

-You know what else was unnecessary in this episode?  Hank.

-Continuing its quest to ruin all my favorite foods for me, The Office has now made it impossible for me to eat tuna fish sandwiches because every time I think about taking a bite of one, I get scarring flashbacks to THAT THING WHICH TOTALLY NEVER HAPPENED and inexplicably find myself gagging.  I am not sure why, as I cannot remember the mind-scarring event itself. 

-Just FYI, I'm the one who threw the paint on Michael's coat.  It took two of my basic beliefs - that fur is wrong, and that things should frequently be thrown at Michael Scott - and rolled them into one great cause. How could I not?

Dwandyla
As I write that, it occurs to me that there should totally be a fansite devoted to said triangle called "Dwandyland."  Or at least an LJ comm.  There have to be people who like both pairings, right?  Or even the triangle intact.  Incidentally, if you can write Angela in a threesome while a) making it plausible and b) not feeling like you're going to hell, you would earn my undying respect.  You wouldn't earn my readership, but you would earn my respect.

Um, anyway.

I was actually feeling fairly ambivalent about the triangle this week - or at least, I wasn't at any point consumed by a violent urge to poke Andy's eyes out with the nearest (pitch)fork, which surprised me.  I was busy writing down the quote about 'do you have to slaughter on our wedding day,' silently noting the presence of a pair of mules that I would surely squee over later, when suddenly my commentary switched to "HORSESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!  HORSES HORSES HORSES MARRY DWIGHT NOW."  Buckskin with a blaze!  Buckskin with a freckled blaze.  *dies and is dead*  That coloring is so gorgeous, it's enough to make you miss the fact that the poor thing has a roached mane.  -.-

That's OK, though.  I mean, obviously I knew Dwight lived on a farm - it's kind of hard to miss that - but there's a world of difference between "beet farm" with a few barn cats and "all kinds of actual farm animals."  Well that is just it, my brain exploded with eight million ideas for past fic involving Dwight, Angela, and horse-related activities, at least half a million of which I expect to pop up within the week, or this fandom has no soul.  

Yes, there will be an appendix featuring some of these ideas.  Hold your...horses.

I knew the marriage ceremony was going to be real, and that made me vaguely uncomfortable because the last time Dwight tried to do something nice for Angela without telling her, it resulted in clawed bags of frozen French fries.  But somehow, watching Angela's eyes shine as he slid the ring on her finger erased that feeling.  MAN.  SO WORTH IT.  Because while I'm still shocked Angela didn't demand a church wedding from Andy, this is exactly how a legitimate marriage to Dwight would go.  And it was magical.  The only thing more magical than that?  Watching Andy's eyes shine in total obliviousness.

HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  *wheezes with helpless laughter* Omigod, this is great.  This is so great.  I know no greater joy than watching Andy unknowingly participate in his own downfall.  Shut up, I don't care how it ultimately ended up; that moment in the barn was sheer wonder and joy.  I laughed harder than I have laughed at this show all season.  It was pure mean-spirited delight, and I REVELED IN IT.  IDIOT!  Stupid, clueless moron!  Singing buffoon!  You suck at life!

I also get to treasure the beautiful sound bites of "I made a mistake picking Andy" (awwwww!  Also, how are you only just now realizing this) and "Mrs. Schrute."  *treasures* For purposes of my contentment, I choose to ignore the part where she rips off her twine ring and throws it him, shouting "We're not married!" before stomping off.  It only took her 15 months to get over him killing her cat!  And surely that was worse than tricking her into marriage!  Right?

Jim/Pam
Dang, from the previews, I thought for sure Jim had the upper hand in the barely-there kiss.  It looked like he was the one refusing her, being teasing about it (perhaps withholding affection until she joined his team), and her whacking him on the shoulder looked like playful mock outrage.  I was also sure that his shudder was in response to seeing the THING WHICH  TOTALLY NEVER HAPPENED, because it seemed like a highly disturbed gesture. 

Having seen this ep, I like both my theories better.  I mean, I do love their spat - I love it in ways I can't even articulate, everything from Jim vehemently declaring "That copier SUCKS!" and then relaxing and assuring us that he and Pam don't have to agree on everything, to  Pam giving him an incredulous glare when he doesn't present a united front with her - and I get a lot of amusement out of Pam's attempt to threaten him her feminine wiles, but...I like it better when Jim's winning.  For example, when she experiences Copy-Making Fail, and he just leans back and smirk

(The Pam glare, I would like to add, brings back uncomfortable memories of a deleted scene from 'The Deposition,' where she interrupted his actual work to make him practice Ping Pong.  It was really off-putting for her character and I tried hard to tell myself it was just an isolated incident of bad writing)

Hence my intense amusement with the laughter-filled return from lunch.  Bwah!  I thought for sure that clip from the previews was a blooper, because it sure looked like the actors breaking.  It reminded me that for all his smirky smiling, Jim doesn't really laugh that much.  This was a nice change of pace.  I will not listen to accusatiosn that it was largely an act put on for Michael.  

Ways in which Pam and I differ: I would have conceded defeat immediately and unconditionally for a piece of tiramisu.  I've done a lot worse for a lot less. 

But back to the war...I love that Jim technically wins, in the end.  That was AWESOME.  I'm gonna have to document it for my own personal amusement, and also because nothing I say can improve upon it.
Jim: Truce?
Pam: Yeah, I guess.  Since I won.
Jim: You
did win.  *smiles*  You did win.  *displays papers* So.  I'm gonna need 3 copies of each of these, stapled and collated.  *walks away*
Pam: *stares*
Jim: (turning around with a smile) I'm totally kidding.
Pam: *chuckles in understanding*
Jim: (leaning over the counter, whispers) I'm gonna need 4...


And this?  Is why Jim is never going to be in danger of losing his first-place position on my favorites list to Pam.

Halpert Scruff Watch: Still there.  -.-  But there's still the holiday episode coming up...

Appendix A: Crazy Fic Ideas (Dwight/Angela + horses version)
* Well, there are endless ways to go with horseback riding, really.  You have to factor in Dwight and Angela's respective oddities to give it the proper twisty feeling, but for starters there are always the standards of scenic trail rides & trail ride picnics.  Perhaps Dwight has taught one tricks like kneeling to be mounted, or to shake.  Not that he'd see any inherent value in such pointless training, of course, but in the name of impressing Angela...I'm sure she would appreciate the animal's politeness.  Oh, and of course, he would need to provide a sidesaddle for the lady, because straddling an animal's back is perfectly vulgar.  And absolutely no faster than a walk, because you know what that looks like.

* Carriage rides!  I forgot to mention horse-drawn carriages. You know he's got at least one of them parked somewhere.

* Cats and horses go together like *that.*  So I can certainly imagine one of the previously mentioned nights in the barn, with her curled up next to him just like one of the barn cats is curled up on the horse's back.  Good for a small scene, anyway.

* You could take the tack that Angela hates horses - which is entirely possible; they're much  bigger than cats and even less predictable - and invent various ways for Dwight to convince her they're not so bad. 

* At its very basest, perhaps you could lead into a PWP by having her get all hot and bothered by how he looks riding up to meet her on a horse.  Take that one now, because I'm busy scrubbing it out of my brain.
-----
ER - 15x09, "Let It Snow"
Well hello there, unexpectedly incredible episode!!  And, well, not completely unexpected, but still impressively good.  As they always are when they revolve around a Gates family storyline.  (shut up.  Tony and Sarah counted for at least half of it, whatever the Alex and Sam histrionics might lead you to believe)

Let's break it down by scene.

I. Opening Scene
For example, starting with a snowy night in the apartment!  In which the kids are doing their homework and fulfilling gender roles, as Alex studies biology and Sarah dutifully works on a flawless-sounding English paper.  Here, let me stroke the writers for coming up with an impressive-sounding thesis: In spite of terminal illness, Johnny Gunther lives with passion, emphasizing the author's theme of living like there's no tomorrow.

I am ashamed to say that I did not actually recognize the name "Johnny Gunther," and I drew a total blank.  It  ticked me off, so I didn't try very hard before I gave up and asked the internet.  Well, I should have guessed that...it's Death Be Not Proud.  Stupid modern non-classics.  *Wikipedias things* All right, fine, the book was published in 1949.  I still don't feel like it counts as classic, but then I also don't know very much about it beyond the title and general content.  I suppose it's appropriate enough for an 8th grader. 

I think what I was really being hilariously optimistic about was the idea that an 8th grader is writing a proper analysis-type paper.  I know for a fact we did not write such things at her age, because our advanced comm 8 class was warned that in advanced comm 9, we would have to write something mysterious called a "thesis paper."  As in a paper with a thesis statement.  Literally, this was a brand-new thing for us.  

As a side note?  That laptop she's using is not a nasty old Mac, but a Dell.  SUPPORT THE MICROSOFT WORLD, YES!  *high-fives in solidarity*  So much cooler than Jim and Pam.  

I also like how they're not done with their homework at a time no earlier than 5 (owing to how it's already dark out), yet they think they can finish that (Sarah's writing a PAPER!) and go to a party and still be home by 10.  What kind of partying experience is that?  That being said, in light of that promise along with their other promise to walk to said party, which is only 5 blocks away, I probably would have let them go too, despite my inherent desire to slap Sarah upside the head and remind her about the time she almost got raped after the party in Wisconsin.  Tony's really not too much at fault here.

II. First Hospital Interaction
Oh, Sarah.  You disappoint me SO MUCH. 
Sam: Were you drinking?!
Sarah: No. (receives death glare).  All right, a little, but he wasn't!

Which, no, when did we take the tumble into opposite land?  Two years ago he was the kid stealing credit cards and setting apartments on fire; she was watching her mother die by her own hand and then doing all the cooking, cleaning, and checkbook-balancing in an attempt to make herself useful so Tony wouldn't have any reason to send her away.  Now all of a sudden he's Mr. Maturity and she's fallen prey to a pack of she-wolves with cell phones and becoming a Stupid Teenage Statistic?  FAIL.

I rather like the fact that Sarah comes in all hunched over, meek and apologetic and worried, until Sam gets aggressive and hostile, blaming her and culminating in "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?", to which her old temper flies back into action and she snarls the question right back, hackles raised to the ceiling.  Man, it was like watching her spar with Neela all over again.  *is nostalgic*  Made greater only by the fact that it's Neela who gently takes her by the arm and escorts her out, receiving little to no resistance.  Oh, how the tables have turned!

III. Sam/Gates: comfort --> fight
*is trying hard to use AU high school sweethearts perception filter*  God, it's difficult, but literally the only way I can get through this nonsense is by pretending that they're both the parents of both kids.  In which case my mind has to stick in a brief patch of more tender reaction between Tony and Alex when he first enters the trauma room, but otherwise I can take it as-is to believe a husband comforting his wife of 15 years. 

(The way it works in my head is that the parents have favorites - not in so many words, but that Alex is a mama's boy and Sarah is daddy's girl.  That's how my brain reconciles Sam being the more upset one if I use my 'they're both his parents' filter.  And anyway, because Sam can't stop herself falling apart, he's got to be the strong one.  And also the one who forces himself to take an objective stance when her mother's mind goes straight to BLAME BLAME BLAME.)   

Got all that firmly in place, Brain?  Yes?  All righty then, in that case, I like the fact that he stands there, carefully waiting for her to talk it out, until she reaches for him and then he offers his standard comforting embrace.  It's all very sweet and tender until he admits he let them go out.  I can't really blame her reaction, but on the other hand... *pets sad Tony* Could he BE any more hangdog?  (yes, probably.  He's morose and regretful, but he also knows that it's not the worst thing he's ever done, and that it's tragic but they were victims of bad luck - it was perfectly likely that they would have been fine.  As he shows in their next scene, he had very good reasons for letting them go.)

"I don't know what to do! I'm trying to be his friend, I'm trying to be a good father..." And I agree that he's done a pretty good job of both, when I'm not VIOLENTLY REJECTING everything about this unholy family tree, especially as I just finished the divorce/stepfamilies unit in sociology and I recognize all kinds of patterns,  but I must strike that remark from the record because it messes with my perception filter. 

IV. TONY-SARAH!!!
Ohhhh, I missed this.  I missed this so much, her just being a vulnerable kid and him pulling her into a hug without a word.  Tucked under his chin!  Hair stroking!  Forehead kissing!  God damn it, he even wipes away her tears.  I really cannot fathom how you expect me to accept the relationship with the blended family when it costs me adorable moments like this.  I need more of just them together. 

And then Sarah goes and ruins it by seeing one of her friends (boy on whom she has a crush, and/or vice versa?) - which is fine and possibly a whole new level of fun - until you find out it's because of a drug overdose.  "I told him not to take that crap."  "What crap?!"  Yeah, let me side with Tony here, and pull out the inflection in his voice that means WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU DOING AT A PARTY WITH DRUGS?!  Pharm parties are not less harmless than harder stuff!  You nincompoop, I demand to know what business you have befriending a boy who pops pills for fun.  Idiot! What family member do we need to kill next to scare you back into your Little Grownup role?  Because as bad a place as you were in emotionally then, it did wonders for your maturity.  And intelligence.

Clearly, someone needs to sit down and have a Serious Talk with Sarah.  I always thought those "talk to your kids about drugs" commercials were pretty stupid, because I figured either your kids already knew the dangers thanks to excessive health classes, or they were idiotic little twits who didn't care.  Apparently there is a subset of otherwise intelligent children who need everything spelled out to them in great detail! And Sarah is badly in need of some concrete guidelines - given the guilty looks she keeps shooting him, I think she knows that she's screwed up; the lesson will probably stick better if he specifically tells her he's disappointed.  He does at least throw her a glare as he leads her out much less gently than he brought her in.

V. Sam/Gates, Round 2
Man, I love that Tony is the only one able to keep a clear head and make rational decisions while Sam flies off the handle at everything and works herself into hysterics (and kudos to Linda's acting.  I think she's doing a fantastic job with all this).  That being said...
"You'd rather be his friend than an adult!"
"I know how to be a parent."
"O RLY?  Why would I believe that?  You don't know anything about their friends, you let them do whatever they want; you've made mistake after mistake with YOUR kid, and now you want to do the same with mine; yeah RIGHT!!"

WHOA HEY LET'S JUST BACK UP THERE A SECOND.  *flings Married Parenthood AU out the window*
"Mistake after mistake" with Sarah?  The hell went wrong with that?  Was it the taking her and her mother in time and time again when the latter couldn't keep it together?  The comforting her and getting her through her mom's suicide?  The part where he fought tooth and nail to keep custody of her even when the paternity test didn't match?  The part where was adult about her running away from her grandparents and made her go back until she could stay there legally?  OH, MAYBE, it was the part where he came running in the middle of the night (late evening, whatever), from Chicago to Wisconsin, when she called him for help, sobbing and terrified?  

Oh wait, she wasn't around for any of that.  OK, fine, yes, as previously mentioned Sarah's been getting a little Stupid Teenage Statistic-y for my tastes.  But as has also been previously mentioned, Sam's kid did those things with the fire-starting and credit-card-stealing.  Sam's had a series of men in her life, which is highly disruptive for boys more than girls, and exacerbates poor behavior in already troubled youths (ding ding ding!).  She's not exactly been the model of fantastic parenthood.  POT, KETTLE, BLACK, ETC.  

Man, and I almost forgot the rest of it - "Go ahead and keep screwing up Sarah, but I am sure as HELL not gonna let you near Alex again."

Reasons why Tony is awesome/a better person than me: he takes offense to none of this, just sets his jaw and takes the abuse, and still tries to touch her in comfort.  For his trouble, he gets slapped at and bodily slammed against the door of the drug cage.  That looked sort of painful.  And he still reacts with Quaker-like patience and reaches out until she lets herself be folded into a hug.  God.  I can has a Tony?

Married Parenthood AU can come back, by the way, when she pulls out of it a second later and insists that needs to be with Alex.  Excellent worried Mommy mode.  Furthermore, I'll be needing it for the next scene.

VI. TONY-SARAH!!!!!!!!!!!  Encore Performance
Let's see.  Reference to her mother's death?  Check.  (quiet refusal to see Alex, with a shake of her head and deep meaningful look on just a few spare words: "I hate that room.")  Adorableness culminating in him literally tucking her into bed?  Check.  Old Sarah (who is really Younger Sarah) making a comeback by being concerned about Tony?  ("I heard Sam yelling.")  Check.  Ability to spin this scene in my Married Parenthood AU?  Check MATE.  (for example, "I heard Mom yelling."  Guilt complex!  Worries about divorce!  Him reassuring her that it's going to be okay!)    

VII. Tony/Sam, round 3
MAN, THAT WAS REALLY INTENSE.  "Shut up and look.  No P-waves. ... He's not bleeding, he's got an arrythmia from a bruised heart."  Action!Tony being calm and saving the day.  Win.  And Alex woke up, and I was full of warm AU fuzzies, and then abruptly the kid crashed and then he didn't wake up.  And the episode ended.  I  got really freaked out and was all "FLAIL NEED SPOILERS NOW."  I don't even know why I'm worried, as this would solve several of my problems at once, and yet!

PROBABLY YOU SHOULD STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED


So then I jumped over to Spoiler Fix, and reassured myself that he'd be alive and well come January, so that took a bit of the urgency out.  And I felt unexpectedly grumpy about it. 


YOU CAN START READING AGAIN NOW


Detraction Points: 
-The Morris and Banfield airport storyline was completely unnecessary, and a waste of time.  Finding out about her miscarriage?  Meh. I had enough tragedy from her already; I stopped caring after that.  Also, MOST UNNECESSARY AND OBNOXIOUS PREGNANT WAITRESS EVER.
(OK, on second rewatch, the "I Love Rock & Roll" karoake was kinda fantastic.  But that's all!  Also the hotel scene was funny)

-The little brother of the dead girl was every bad fanfic cliche of a small child, complete with a lisp.  That bugged.

-I didn't have enough Caring in me left over to spare for Neela's lawsuit battle.  I love her to death, but I feel like we've seen this so many times before.  I also feel like we're gradually disconnecting from Neela, that she's becoming more frigid and less accessible, less human, and it makes me sad.

-Poor Neela being rejected by all the interns who are too cool for her, is what I'm getting at here.  Dammit, show, fix this.  Pack her off to Ray if you have to.  I really won't object.================
P.S. Man, that takes some luck - earlier, I was random channel-flipping and I landed smack in the middle of "Rampage" on A&E. [CSI: Miami marathon, woo!] Too late to see the shooting, but I managed to land exactly two minutes before the Hospital Scene of Love and Tragedy.  God, Alana de la Garza is gorgeous.  And, and...waaaaaaaaaaaaaah!  I haven't seen season 4 since season 6 began, and I sort of feared that with my new Eyes of Cynicism I would start to view it the way a lot of other people did...but no!  *eyes glaze over in love* Dammit!  THERE IS A REASON THEY ARE MY DEFAULT ICON AND POSSIBLY ALWAYS WILL BE.  I miss this show.

In related notes...R.I.P., Jessup.  I also miss Cooper before he was an idiot and Natalia before she was an idiot with a badge and a gun.  And Valera's old hair.  And hey, Monica Bitch West!  Oh, she was a merry old character, wasn't she?  So much better than Evil Julia.

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