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Seriously. I don't hear a whisper of anything before the spoilers go dark for the holidays, and then BAM! To make matters worse, I got spoiled on both shows before I saw the episodes. Although for CM, that's really the only reason I watched the episode in the first place, so I guess I can't complain.

NCIS 2-parter, Shabbat Shalom and Shiva

Woo girls, assemble!

No more stupid Eli David, WOOOOOOOOOOO! I'm a lot sadder about Mrs. Vance, who is the only Vance not on my Enemy Of The State list (even their children annoy me. also I could have sworn they were both girls, which shows you how much attention I pay). Empathetic low-toned woooooo, please.

Part 1 dragged along, due to the copious amounts of Still Alive Eli, and although I loved Ziva's scream upon seeing him at the end (usually people don't pull off horrified screaming in a realistic way without being over the top), I thought the rocking his body was a bit much.

But part 2! Part 2 had some spunk to it. The teaser was lovely - both the flashback and a rare look at her struggling with faith that's always been important to her - and Greg Germann as Deputy Director was fantastic, can't we please have him as our Director proper full time forever? I finally got caught up in the case, and enjoyed Ziva's turmoil of mostly-bottled-up emotions in the aftermath. Always a pleasure to have Oded Fehr around too, even if he's gone all Dark Side/Doomed To Die When We Catch Up.

Also, because I am a horrible person, I howled with laughter as soon as Ziva started whimpering in her sleep, flailing around for my Cliche Hurt/Comfort Tropes Bingo card to check off "comfort someone having a post-trauma nightmare." (bonus points if you are not actually sharing a bed/dating them but just happen to be in a position where you can overhear these night terrors and do something about them.) I literally thought this only happened in fanfic.

And then I gave myself a scolding for mocking the poor invested 'shippers and tried to at least appreciate him holding her hands, because that was still pretty nice, even if Ziva is not the sort of woman who responds to traditional hurt/comfort cliches. I did like the long, clingy hug of gratitude at the end of the episode. The friend-hug! Totally a friend-hug. In conclusion, totally platonic friends. :P

The ending montage was one of the prettiest things I've ever seen this show do (particularly the Ziva-focused part). For Future Me, the song was "Not Alone" by Patty Griffin, and while I don't think it's the kind of song that will bury itself in my heart without a concentrated effort, it sounded absolutely perfect here and did squeezy things to my heart.

In conclusion: I'm sorry I got spoiled, but at the same time, not entirely sorry I waited so long to catch up? Parting ways with this show for a month made it so that when I came home after a long and tiring walk, all I wanted to do was curl up and watch this specific low-impact series, rather than having it feel like a chore.

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Craaaaap, I just realized I haven't written about NCIS in a long time, because I meant to bundle the last two of 2012 but then the holiday episode was so boring (Tony's dad was involved, the end) I didn't bother and forgot I had one waiting.

NCIS, 10x09, "Devil's Trifecta"

Mostly I'm just really happy this show proved to me that it's possible to fall asleep spooning on a couch. I always wondered if there was actually room for two people. It seemed like there might be, but it was hard to theorize. (I did once spend a productive half hour on YouTube searching for cuddling tutorials, though, in the absence of a lackey to test my hypotheses. They were delightful. And existent.)

I also feel like I should study this episode more to figure out how to manipulate/guilt a dude into doing this. Diane had it down pat. In this case, though, it just made for great comic relief, even before Gibbs' and Fornell's respective long stare/WHAT THE HELL AM I LOOKING AT reactions. Followed by McGee (accidentally??) throwing her on the floor in his haste to sit up. You can currently see it here. I've watched it roughly a million times.

Diane seems to have worked her way into being one of my favorite characters (all of the women on this show are so great)? I liked watching her work shoulder to shoulder with everyone, as well as the heart to heart with Gibbs at the end, even though it was desperately sad as she brought up why they didn't work out. I distracted myself by trying to get a good look at his sweatshirt, which appeared to have a Kelly-sized child's handprint in paint on the front.

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Criminal Minds, 8x12, Zugzwang
The last episode I saw of this show was the one where -- [edit: hang on, WHAT THE HEY, I could have sworn I wrote about that one. The one with the human marionettes, right? The one that TRAUMATIZED ME? Was I so psychologically distressed that the post never made it out of my brain? Oh no, I think I was! OH MY GOD, THERE IS NO RECORD OF IT ANYWHERE. NOOOOOOOOOOOO! That's it, time out, we are talking about that one first. *curses and bangs head into desk*]

8x10, The Lesson

Once upon a December, the promo for this episode aired and I immediately declared that this looked like the most awesomely twisted episode ever and couldn't wait until our next Survivor viewing. Of course, as luck would have it I slept through TV that night, so I had to catch up on my own later. At the super smart time of roughly midnight. And what I thought was going to be "delightfully twisted" with the human-marionette angle, mostly because I thought said marionettes were made of dead bodies, turned out instead to be THE MOST HORRIFYING THING IN ACTUAL EXISTENCE, a/k/a living, conscious people being quasi-crucified and having all their joints dislocated. SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS NOW KTHNXBAI.

I am genuinely shocked I didn't have nightmares after that, because my entire body broke out in goosebumps and I may have been rocking back and forth at one point in the grip of this horror, I don't know, it was bad. But gripping in a way where I couldn't stop, wondering what awful lengths were going to be gotten to next. (and as much as I hate to say it, the Steph "dance" was...really pretty, as a lyrical ballet, if you didn't stop to think about what you were looking at. linking you for trauma! For Future Me's reference, the song is a lullaby cover of "Where Is My Mind." Oh, this is charming - like, from a baby CD. I don't know if this is soothing or unnerving but I can't stop playing it.)

I love how they took me completely by surprise at the end. I did not see his assistant being a figment of his imagination; for several seconds I didn't even see the audience being fake (the only reason I got it was realizing there was no way the BAU team wouldn't be all over that theater once they knew they were looking for a puppeteer, if the show was being advertised). That was a really awesome reveal, just like the whole backstory - I almost felt sorry for all the snapped threads in the killer's brain, as I imagine it would screw up some crucial development processes to have your father shot in front of you at that age while your lifelong friends just smiled blankly and stood by.

(but let's be honest, even the original marionettes were kind of creepy looking)

Blergh, I'm rambling, it's just that I am really in awe of how well crafted this story was and how beautifully shot everything was, in all its disturbing glory.

AND THAT'S ONLY HALF THE STORY. The only reason I didn't end up in the fetal position was because we regularly broke away from the horrors of hell house to discuss the Reid subplot going on. I was not super aware of the whole secret-girlfriend thing, but this episode instantly caught me up. I got very fond of the encouragement and reassurance from what's-her-face (Blake, do we call her?), and Morgan's Bro Support, but mostly...his whole "what if she doesn't like what she sees?" routine gave me a sudden appreciation for wounded-puppy-dog eyes I was not previously aware he had.

Whatever is going on with your hair this season, sir, please keep it up, because that's the only explanation I have for why you're suddenly cute instead of vaguely alien in appearance. Unless it was that totally honest "It doesn't matter what she looks like. She's already the most beautiful girl in the world to me." It might have been that.

In conclusion, that is probably my favorite episode of season 8, even though it will be a while before I can watch it again. In other news, I can't believe how long this show has been on. And yet its quality remains the same or better, from the perspective of an outsider who shows up maybe 6 times a season.

OK, I know I skipped #11, so NOW we can move on.

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8x12, Zugzwang

GOD DAMN IT, GEORGINA, THIS IS THE WORST THING YOU HAVE EVER DONE.

*cough*

Anyway. One day you're in an old fashioned epistolary relationship of intellectual soulmates, and the next day the universe finds out you work in law enforcement and goes, "Awww, hell no, time to bring the pain." And apparently it's been a while since anyone's significant others got sacrificed to the great Gods of TV Drama (oh wait), because today they weren't satisfied with just roughing her up. Son of a bitch.

(Here is where I should stop and confess that I played right into the writers' hands. As much as I liked Maeve, and I really really did, I'm not gutted over her death. She was a useful vehicle for Character Trauma, and I understand people are upset, but quite honestly, I can chew on the image of Ried's face in response to seeing her die for a very long time, never mind whatever fallout we have waiting. It's enough, for me, to know that he cared and so did she. (I might even get liberal with the l-word, who knows!)

It's the first time I've been made to care about him as a person, which is significant on a show where I have never had much character investment. The other benefit is that, unlike Glee, I do not feel this show strongly enough to feel like it's real - which means canon isn't the be-all end-all and I am perfectly happy dancing off to AU land and believing in an alternate universe where some crack shot nails Crazypants in the head before she can pull her own trigger, so I get to chew on post-traumatic recovery instead.

Because I will miss her. She was sweet and unassuming and with every conversation they had, little pink heart bubbles fizzed up and floated out of my chest because they were so perfectly well matched. They met all my demands for an innocent Puppy Love Ship of the highest order.)

Now, would I have liked to skip the awkward makeout with Crazypants? YES. But otherwise, I loved every second of every scene as far as this storyline went, complete with the "let me just kill your ex-lover here" trope. I love that her stalker was a woman, because those obsessive types are the craziest of all and their motives are always so complex and convoluted. And I'm glad that her drive basically boiled down to "I AM SO SMRT. PRAISE ME," rather than a psychosexual fixation.

Overall: rudely done, but smartly played. (I'm sorry, Real Fandom. Please do not throw garbage at me.)

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The Office, "Suit Warehouse"

I was going to say, "Now here's a show where nobody died!", but then I remembered the poor electrocuted fish. :( You're awful, Darryl. YOU are the WORST. Literally, in a list of all the people to drag up there from Scranton, the only people you're better than are Kevin and Clark, and possibly Andy depending on what his personality is like in a given year.

Overall, bottom tier episode, as both Darryl's interview and the Dwight/Clark sales call got so excruciatingly unpleasant/embarrassing that I had to start skipping large chunks of them. I am worse than Darryl at interviews; I can't watch this and confront being that bad. The espresso subplot was cute until everyone started turning manic and displaying withdrawal symptoms, and then it got gross too. For most of it I just focused on how pretty Catherine Tate's hair was, voluminous and sort of "floaty"-looking, and how she is basically my hero in the "how to look awesome after age 40 without being a stick figure" departments.

In fact, literally the only thing to take away from this episode is Pam's stunned reaction to "can't wait 'til you move here," which I am willing to believe hasn't actually crossed her mind before - this whole thing has always been too uncertain and fledgling to look beyond tomorrow. (I bet Jim's considered it, though. And it's yet another thing he's decided not to bring up until he has to.)

I may have then internalized the situation, curled up in a ball and wept for a while, because it isn't fair; I shouldn't have to choose between Jim being happy, Jim barely being home, and keeping the safe, comfortable life in Scranton where they've been forever. Somebody is going to lose (that person is me) and I'm going to be upset.

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Also, I watched about five non-consecutive minutes of The Carrie Diaries during commercials on Monday, and the conclusion I came to is that it seems like a cute little show (or will be until people's clothes come off; I KNOW HOW YOU OPERATE), but not one in which I personally need to invest any further time. That's a relief.

Lastly, Community and Smash both come back in 2 weeks and NOPE, NOPE, I DON'T HAVE ANY MORE HEAD SPACE FOR COOL SHOWS; I am at my actual-facts limit between the Monday comedies, Glee, The Office, and possibly The Middle and NCIS if I get to them in time. I'm especially not prepared for Smash to change and grow; I'm too worried about what might become of it. This should have been the 1-season run while Off The Map lived it up. (I'LL NEVER LET GO, CLARK.)

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