[For Fargo “Rhinocerous” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Rhinocerous Lou and Hank try to prevent an altercation and the Gerhardt clan attempts to get back one of their own.

The episode’s title likely refers to the absurdist play “Rhinocerous” by Eugène Ionesco, from 1959. It’s the story of small town where every inhabitant turns into a rhino except the man they all consider a drunken, paranoid fool. This directly parallels the events of this episode as usually capable characters get thrown out of whack while the drunken, paranoid fool (perfectly portrayed by Nick Offerman) saves the day. In fact, the whole episode revolves around the theme of underestimating the apparent fool.

The curtain opens as Ed finally faces the music, a single silent tear sliding down his cheek in the back of the squad car on the way to the station. Meanwhile Charlie sits, head bandaged in a cell until it’s time for his one phone call. Bear and Dodd battle it out on the Gerhardt front lawn as usual until Floyd intervenes and sends them to Minnesota – Bear to pick up his son from jail and Dodd to “take care of this butcher fella.”

Meanwhile Mike Milligan and Simone have a split screen convo and she tells him where they went with instructions to kill her dad, Dodd. After this Mike whimsically recites the famous nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll as he collects guns and men to hit the road. But he’s not headed where Simone said, so Mike either doesn’t believe her or he doesn’t care about killing Dodd and Bear but would rather take out whomever was left behind at home base. Either scenario could be true. Then just as Floyd begins an inspiring lecture to Simone on feminine leadership, they’re rudely interrupted as Mike and his Kansas City crew bros attack the house with a torrent of gunfire through the Gerhardt kitchen window. War has hit the homestead. The theme of underestimating fits here because no matter the reason Milligan chose to hit the homestead rather then do as Simone said, he underestimated her. Clearly that was a mistake because this move has little impact on the war. If he’d gone to Minnesota as she’d suggested though, Mike would have caught the crucial Gerhardt family members in a vulnerable state and potentially won the war in one Milligan swoop.

Back at the Blomquists Peggy avoids answering Hank’s questions until he says, “You’re a little touched aren’t ya?” but she can’t really see what he means even after Hank reminds her they tried to kill her husband and torched his shop. “Life’s a journey, ya know…” she responds. Peggy’s so wrapped up in new age sillyspeak, she’s as nonsensical as Lewis Carroll’s blathering Jabberwocky. Right when Hank’s given up on Peggy, Dodd drives up to the house and Hank tells her to hide inside. Dodd asks for Ed and Hank says he’s at the police station. The Gerhardt gang approach the porch where Hank stands alone. Then Hanzee knocks Hank out with a whack and leaves to look for Ed at the police station while Dodd searches the house with two minions. Dodd’s so tense he shoots one of his own men in a panicked reflex all the while threatening Peggy as he searches, “When I find you, darling, I’m gonna make you bleed,“ but Peggy’s an unexpectedly formidable opponent in her own basement. She bashes the other minion with a sink basin and shocks Dodd silly with his own favorite weapon, the electric zapping stick. He’d foolishly set it aside while taunting her. Never underestimate your enemy in battle, Mr Gerhardt, even if it happens to be seemingly silly, nonsensical Peggy Blomquist.

Lou interrogates Ed at the station, bringing up the cleaver in Virgil’s head at his butcher shop and the fake car accident. But Ed isn’t listening and says he just keeps thinking of Sisyphus and his boulder, a reminder that it doesn’t matter what happens because he’s just going to “take care of what’s mine.” Ed’s right about the “it doesn’t matter” part but he’s not just misinterpreting the significance and lesson of Sisyphus. He’s also missing the crucial element in his own situation, which Lou keeps trying to remind him. The Gerhardts are coming to kill him. Having seen detective and courtroom shows on TV, Ed then asks for a lawyer, like ya do.

Turns out the only lawyer in Luverne, Minnesota is Karl Weathers, played by Nick Offerman. So, though he may be three sheets to the wind intoxicated at amy point, Karl’s also always ready to do some serious lawyering. Once at the station, Karl’s not just drunk but ranting paranoid declarations with unparalleled passion. He can’t be silenced or even hushed until Karl faces a gang of Gerhardt guns cocked and pointed at him in the parking lot. Then he goes back inside and reports that, “The jackboots are upon us,” so Lou calls for reinforcements. Unfortunately, it’ll be an hour before they show up. Lou faces Bear and the others out front, seemingly unafraid. He says they’ve got his son Charlie in a jail cell on attempted murder. Bear asks about the butcher and Lou says he’s under armed protection and they can’t get to him either because they’ve “got enough men and guns to hold them off until morning,” but even Bear knows he’s bluffing. Bear says Lou’s gotta send his Charlie out. Lou goes inside and enlists the quickly sobering up Karl to help “talk some sense” into Bear then heads back to the interrogation room where he left Ed and says there’s a lynch mob outside. “So am I released?” Ed asks and Lou says for simplicity’s sake let’s say so. But really, Lou stays tightly beside Ed as they slip out the back of the station and into the woods. Hanzee’s already on their tails from the moment they exit.

Meanwhile Hank awakens on the Blomquist porch and goes out to his car where he gets a call with an update from the station on the CB radio. He says, “Tell Lou to sit tight. Can’t have him getting killed without me. I’ll never hear the end of it at dinner.” But Lou’s not sitting tight. He’s roaming the woods behind the station with Ed. Even so, a bit later Hank drives up and finds him so they commiserate a bit about their evening. While they chat Ed makes a run for it even though they’re standing beside a squad car that can easily catch him. So, Hank and Lou get in the car to collect silly, nonsensical Ed while behind them in the shadows Hanzee lurks, the expert tracker and always right on the tail of his man. But, just like Ed, Hanzee walks on foot as he follows the squad car. As usual Lou finds himself surrounded by those who underestimate him, one runs ahead of him while the other walks behind.

Back at the station Karl goes outside and introduces himself to Bear as Charlie’s lawyer. He says the police will meet his demands and send the boy out but as his lawyer he’d recommend a different course of action. It would be better for Charlie to face the charges, which will be minimal as things stand. If the police have to send the kid out under duress, though, much harsher consequences will fall upon Charlie. Bear responds that they’ll just take the butcher then. Karl says again this will come down on Charlie with more serious charges. If they don’t beat it and retreat the kid will have to face the music for their deeds as well as his own. Then, luckily for all involved, the Gerhardts take Karl’s advice and drive away to leave Charlie in jail.

Thus “Rhinocerous” concludes with yet another underestimated character overcoming adversity. This episode’s an underdog story in triplicate, which in true Fargo style points to the absurdity of blind confidence. Dodd literally put his weapon down while searching for Peggy, thus availing to her the very cudgel of his undoing. Similarly, if Mike had just listened to Simone he could have taken out the Gerhardt’s primary heads of state, Dodd and Bear, but of course Mike didn’t listen to her. In fact, by attacking the very spot where she stands, he could be destroying his one insider into the Gerhardt clan. Simone, it seems, may be Mike’s achilles heel without him even realizing it. And then there’s Karl Weathers, the most parallel character to the episode’s namesake theatrical production, Rhinocerous. He appears a mere drunk and disorderly fool yet Karl’s the only one who can reason with the Gerhardts. A smooth talker in a Jabberwocky disguise, he’s the hero of this one.

–Katherine Recap

Jazz 114, Cavs 118

The Top 8 – Week Three

Posted by Michael Flores | Sports

“The Top 8” is an ongoing weekly column focused on the NBA… And more importantly my favorite NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers! For any and all installments, click here.

When we left the Cavs last week they were 5-1 and the best team in the East.

Week Three featured four games, and an ultimately imperfect record… But they’re still the best team in the East both by record (8-2) and differential (+7.2). At the time of this writing there are two teams with better differentials in the game, the still-unbeaten 11-0 Golden State Warriors and their monstrous +16.3 and the seemingly ageless San Antonio Spurs at +10.6; the Spurs, though, hold a slightly inferior 7-2 record.

Spoilers! The Cavs went 3-1 during Week Three, which isn’t too shabby… But I’m again a little concerned about the quality of competition. They faced the Pacers (6-4), Jazz (5-5), Knicks (5-6), and Bucks (5-5)… So no really distinguished teams yet.

Game Seven: Pacers at Cavs 11/08/15

ESPN Headline: James scores 29 despite bruised quad as Cavs beat Pacers

I guess James did in fact score 29 points… But it was on 23 shots; he was not even the leading scorer of the game. That honor went to Paul George with 32 (here’s to hoping George ends up awesome once again). Kevin Love was actually the monster of this game, scoring 21 points while pulling down 19 rebounds. Jeez! Besides those boards, KLove also had a game-high three blocks.

Outcome: Cavs by 4

The Top 8

Pacers 97, Cavs 101

Game Eight: Jazz at Cavs 11/10/15

ESPN Headline: James scores 31, sparks comeback as Cavaliers beat Jazz

LBJ did in fact score a game-high 31 points.


My God Mo Williams had an offensive game. 8-9 from the field and 9-10 from the charity stripe? That is some peak Dwayne Wade performance right there. The scary thing is that when Kyrie comes back he will — as would be logical for a max contract number one draft pick — re-ascend to his position in the starting lineup… Mo will probably be able to absolutely feast on opposing second teams!

I’m a little overall wary of the Cavs lineup though. Right now two of the five best Cavs are point guards (Mo and Delly). You have to figure one or both are going to sacrifice minutes to Kyrie (which is fine if Kyrie can return at All-Star level)… But! It’s not like minutes and positions are fungible. The best players on the team are (unsurprisingly) Tristan at PF and LBJ at SF… Rounded out by the resplendent KLove also at PF.

My all-time favorite Cav Anderson Varejao is not playing like anything to write home about this season, and Mozgov has been slightly below replacement level so far. If you want to play Best Six basketball (you know, like in the playoffs [unless you are GSW or SAS]) I don’t know if you want three of those six to be your three shortest players.

It’s possible this is one of those situations where my good friend Patrick Chapin says people grouse about the $100 bill you hand them because they don’t like how it’s folded.

Outcome: Cavs by 4

The Top 8

Jazz 114, Cavs 118

Jeez Mo Williams. All-Star Game #2?

Game Nine: Cavs at Knicks 11/13/15

ESPN Headline: Cavaliers limit Knicks in fourth quarter to pull out 8th straight win

An utterly accurate headline; the Knickerbockers thumped the Cavs 30-17 in the second frame, and were consequently up by six going into the fourth. The Cavs held New York’s Finest to twelve — 12 — points in the fourth quarter; and that was all she wrote.

Outcome: Cavs by 6

The Top 8

Cavs at Knicks

Ew. What a gross game.

Timofey — the best player in Cavs-at-Knicks — would not have been the fifth best player in the preceding Jazz game. Everyone played awful. Love scored seven points on ten shot attempts; not even his eleven rebounds could salvage such poor shooting. LeBron only needed 21 shots to produce 31 points, but he was uncharacteristically low on rebounds (while heavy on fouls). Tristan only made four points on — again ew — four shot attempts.

If there is a shining light — for Knickerbockers fans at least — it’s that Zinger looks like he is going to be a real NBA player.

Game Ten: Cavs at Bucks 11/14/15

ESPN Headline: Bucks outlast Cavs in 2OT as LeBron James held in check late

This is the kind of game that makes you hate sports narratives. Hate HATE HATE. The Cavs got the rebound with about eight seconds left and the game tied at the end of the first of two overtimes. The ref called an inadvertent whistle from the Cavaliers bench. David Blatt did not call timeout!

LeBron had the ball with almost eight seconds on the clock. Is there anyone in all these planes of Dominia who thinks he wouldn’t have at least picked up a foul with Hero Ball on the stack? Yeah, me neither. Bucks get a stop on the not-fast-breaking Cavs, win by three in the second OT 🙁

Outcome: Bucks by 3

The Top 8

Cavs 105, Bucks 108

Like I said… I can’t stand sports narrative sometimes. Love and James played great (along with Greg Monroe of the Bucks). What the “Top 8” doesn’t tell you is that those PGs I was bragging about earlier? Mo put up all of four points on eight shots; Delly zero on three; they did have three and four turnovers, respectively. So basically most of the boys had relatively weak games. Even Mr. Consistent Tristan Thompson only had four rebounds (but three personal fouls). To look at the box score you could reasonably stomach a loss here… But knowing about the bad whistle kind of ruins it all.


The Top 8 is produced via Simple Models of Player Performance + Box Score data from ESPN.com

Into The Badlands: Episode 1, The Fort

Posted by Brian David-Marshall | Hollywood, TV

Excited but nervous was how I would describe my reaction to seeing the trailer for AMC’s newest show that debuted last night in the ultra cushy time slot right after WALKING DEAD. Excited, because the trailer was visually stunning and the action scenes conjured up memories of Shaw Brothers martial arts flicks that would air weekend afternoons on Channel 5 growing up. Nervous because…well…let’s just say they focused squarely on the art direction and the fight choreography in those commercials.

The show opens on a motorcycle ripping through a field of bright red poppies while exposition washes over you about how nobody can remember the time before the chaos that led to a feudal state with seven barons ruling the world in (and I am just guessing here ) an uneasy alliance. Guns have been outlawed and order is enforced by armies of men known as Clippers. As we meet Sunny, our Clipper (and again, I am assuming here) with a heart of gold, he is pulling up to the corpse of another Clipper with a hatchet stuck in his forehead. There is an overturned truck and a row of dead prisoners, their throats sliced.

One prisoner is missing and Sunny immediately spots a fire nearby and drives to investigate. And by investigate I mean “kick the living shit out a dozen nomads” camped around a fire. They end up giving their lives to protect the contents of a trunk. Sunny takes the men out one by one without even seeming like he is in any danger of getting a scratch. He runs up the trunk of a tree and flips over assailants, he disembowels multiple people with their own weapons, and never even needs to reach for his sword which he confidently left leaning against his bike when he approached the group.

And this is all before the opening title sequence which left me scrambling to IMDB to find out more about Daniel Wu who plays Sunny. (I learned that he was born in the US, was in a Hong Kong boy bond, once dated Maggie Q, and has made a LOT of a martial arts films in his career.) When he opens the trunk a young, scared boy — M.K. — pops out and tries to run away but Sunny quickly subdues him. The boy wakes up as Sunny is burying the bodies that the nomads had left behind when the kidnapped him. The boy reveals that someone known as The Widow paid them to find him. The boy asks to be let go but Sunny says he is going to be taken back to The Fort to work in his Baron’s poppy fields.

The Fort is surrounded by serfs working in the beautiful — seriously they look amazing — poppy fields. Inside the fort we see an army of clippers, that would make the Gramercy Riffs think twice, doing their exercises. Sunny tells M.K. that he will be fighting among the Colts — Clippers in training — and brings him to hear Quinn, the Baron of the The Fort, address the young Clipper-wannabes. Quinn is played by Marton Csokas, who was the breakout villain in THE EQUALIZER, and he plays the part one part antebellum slave owner and one part SOHO hipster, telling these young men that “there is no God in the Badlands”. Quinn is the only person who can offer them a path out of debt and misery. They can fight their way to become a Clipper and if they become a Clipper they become like family. He shows the boys Sunny’s back which is tattoo adorned with a tick mark for every life he has taken in the service of the Baron. Sunny was once a pathetic wretch like them but Quinn took him in and forged him into the man standing before them today. He promises that such a fate could await them as well.

M.K. has attracted special attention from the Baron because of his mention of The Widow. The boy has no knowledge of why anyone would be interested in him. Quinn cautions him against lying and sends him to fight in the pits to take his measure. Meanwhile, Quinn’s son, Ryder approaches his father and urges him to take action against The Widow. Sunny is opposed and clearly has more influence over the Quinn than his own flesh and blood. Ryder’s does a lot of glowering in Sunny’s direction.

M.K. hesitantly walks toward the pits but before he can do anything he is ambushed by Ajax, who we saw during Quinn’s motivational speech was eager to become a Clipper. Ajax tears a medallion from around M.K.’s neck and challenges him to take it back. The two begin fighting but it is broken up by Sunny who sees the bronze medallion, which depicts an urban skyline that looks suspiciously like New York City, and has a jolt of recognition. He sends Ajax away and keeps the medallion for himself. Ryder watches this all from atop the wall surrounding The Pits while M.K. finds an ally in Bale who warns him about Ajax’s violent ambitions.

Quinn returns to the poppy plantation to be chided by his wife Lydia. Multiple barons have declined the invitation to his eight wedding. He dismisses her concerns as jealousy but she assures him he can have as many wives as he sees fits. Quinn is racked by a headache so severe it has accompanying music and Lydia urges him to hand off some of his responsibilities to Ryder. Quinn scoffs at the notion that Ryder is up to the task and Lydia reminds him of “everything that boy sacrificed for you”.

Sunny goes back to his bunk and takes out a compass that has similar markings to the medallion he took from M.K. He flashes back to a memory of him as a small child taking the compass from the hand of a man whose throat had been slit — in a similar fashion to the prisoners from the beginning of the episode — but his reverie is interrupted by Ryder. He demands to know what Sunny took from the boy. Sunny slips the compass into his pocket and flips the medallion to Ryder, who wants to know if Sunny has ever seen anything like this before. “No,” lies Sunny.

Sunny travels into the Badlands where his visits Veil, his lover who has taught him how to read. She reveals that she is pregnant and Sunny tells her she cannot keep it. He makes it clear that to keep the baby would carry punishment by death (although it is not clear for whom). She tells him she has heard stories of lands that exist beyond the Badlands that they could run to. “I know buried under all this ink there is a good man,” she implores.

“You’re wrong,” he assures her.

Ajax jumps M.K again, this time in the catacombs where they bunk, and draws blood when he knocks him to the ground. Upon seeing the blood M.K.’s eyes go black and he kicks Ajax into a mirror which sends shards of glass shrapnel into the air. M.K. seamlessly snatches one of the shards and flings it into Ajax’s eye before collapsing in front of a stunned Sunny. When he regains consciousness in Sunny’s quarters M.K. explains that something takes control of him when he bleeds. He and his mother left their home when he was little to find a healer who could cure him. They were beset by nomads and separated. He has been searching for her ever since. Sunny shows him the compass and M.K. explains to Sunny that he found something that depicts his home of Azra, which lies beyond the Badlands.

Sunny goes back to see Veil, perhaps with some hope of starting a family in Azra, but cannot bring himself to go through the door to her shop. He is confronted by sword wielding — and bowler-wearing — assailants in a stunning battle in the pouring rain that looked like it could have been cut straight of out of Tsai Hark movie. While the fight someone watches on from a car. As Sunny slices the last assailants throat The Widow emerges from the car and flaunts that Sunny cannot harm him. She demands that Sunny bring her the boy from The Fort and shows him a piece of paper with the same symbol of Azra.

Meanwhile, M.K. — despite Sunny’s warnings — attempts to retrieve his medallion from Ryder’s room but is captured. Lydia hears the commotion and comes in and is obviously startled by the sight of the medallion. Ryder declares that M.K. will be killed at dawn as an example to the other Colts. While awaiting execution M.K. is visited by Sunny and the boy tries to make him promise to find his mother. Sunny frees the boy and tells him to find her himself. He brings him to a tunnel that will take him out of the fort and warns him that if he is caught he will be killed. He is giving M.K. the choice he never had. Lydia observes them as Sunny facilitates the escape.

stag night

Sunny is summoned to Quinn’s mancave which seems like it was furnished during a raid on a Hammacher Schlemmer ̶w̶̶̶h̶̶̶o̶̶̶r̶̶̶e̶̶̶h̶̶̶o̶̶̶u̶̶̶s̶̶̶e̶̶̶ warehouse. Actually everything about the Baron and The Fort is intensely male. He has George Bellows’ painting Stag Night at Starkey’s hanging over his mantle, he is about to take his eighth wife, and all of his servants, Colts, and Clippers are all male. He clearly has a paternal regard for Sunny and wants him to be closer to the main house even though it will upset Ryder (who unbeknownst to Quinn is sleeping with the woman who is about to be the eighth person he calls Mommy).

All in all it was, as I expected, gorgeous, action-packed, and more than a little trope-laden on story. I am definitely going to keep watching for the action scenes alone, if nothing else. It is safe to say it is the most successful Western implementation of martial arts fight choreography that I can recall in a Western film, much less on a television show. Also Stephen Lang joins the cast for four of the six episodes and I would watch a show with far worse fight choreography to see him in anything.

[For “A Most Powerful Adversary”or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
A Most Powerful Adversary Nora gives Kevin and Jill some news; Laurie makes a rash decision; Kevin explores his options.

“A Most Powerful Adversary” wins the award for the most misleading TV summary ever. None of those three tiny phrases give us any indication of the shitstorm to come. But it’s a comin’… in spades. This episode is all about Kevin and the delusions that reign within his brain. It opens as he awakens in his usual handcuffed-to-the-bed state to find that Nora is gone. She packed a suitcase, took the baby and Mary, then vamoosed. He shouldn’t have told Nora about the voices, Patti reminds him. Isn’t it just like an imaginary friend to say “I told you so,”? Then Jill enters and asks where everybody is and what’s going on. Kevin asks her to get the bolt cutters so he can unhandcuff himself. Jill leaves and then brings back an envelope from Nora. She asks what he did. Kevin won’t say so she reads the letter. All it says is, “Mary and the baby are with me. Don’t call.” Pissed off Jill then leaves abruptly to the hollow tones of Kevin’s, “I’m gonna fix this,” the screen door slams and Patti tells him it’s gonna be a hard day.

Jill goes to the church and tells Michael everything about her dad and grandfather, their voices and sleepwalking, etc. Michael says he talks to someone who’s not there too… Then she asks if God is the one telling him they can fool around but not fuck. He says it’s just that he doesn’t want to because he doesn’t know if he loves her. Then Pissed off Jill is on the move again, storming out of the church.

Kevin goes to the hardware store to see if they can help him cut the leftover wristbit of the handcuffs but then he screws it up by yelling at Patti to “shut the fuck up!” She doesn’t stop her incessant yammering, though, no matter what he says. Michael comes up beside the truck where Kevin’s “talking to Patti” and gets in the front seat. Michael tells Kevin he knows about Patti and says his grandfather, Virgil can help Kevin get rid of her. Michael then directs him to the same spot in the woods where Erika went in the last episode, Virgil’s trailer with the bird-breeding cage nearby.

Virgil comes out to the truck and says for Kevin to come inside, but just him; Patti and Michael aren’t invited. Once inside Kevin finds out he was in this trailer with Virgil the night of the earthquake when the girls went missing during is blackout. Virgil tells Kevin he has to die to face Patti on her turf and defeat her. Kevin says he doesn’t understand and Virgil says, “You understood last time,” thus explaining why Kevin jumped off the cliff that night. Patti’s turf is the land of the dead. Virgil tells him what they have in common is “a most powerful adversary,” and says he vanquished his when John shot him. Virgil’s adversary had “made him do terrible things” (to little boys?) so he’d fought him in death and won, after which Virgil was reborn.

He says he can temporarily kill Kevin. Then Pissed-off-Kevin storms out. Virgil shouts after him, “Come back when you’re ready,” but at that point Kevin’s already screaming his way through the woods for Patti. He confronts her and says she lied to him. She didn’t mention how he’d gone to Virgil’s trailer that night when he blacked out. Patti says so what and then slaps him when he says Virgil knows how to get rid of her. She’s not scared to battle him, Patti says, “Let’s go,” she pronounces, like a drunk at a bar egging on for a beatdown.

Kevin keeps calling Nora but when his phone finally rings it’s not Nora calling but Laurie who’s waiting for him at Miracle’s entrance gate. Kevin talks to her through a chain link fence. It’s been so long since he’s seen her that he’s surprised to see she’s even talking. Laurie says she needs to talk to Tommy. Kevin says Tommy isn’t there and why would she think he was there? She says because Tommy’s in touch with Jill. Kevin asks if Tommy’s OK and she says he’s fine. But Laurie senses that Kevin’s not OK and leaves, ignoring his screams for her not to go. She pisses him off even more than he already was – a possibility that was impossible only moments before.

Kevin then goes to the fire house and asks John for help cutting off the leftover handcuff bit on his wrist. While there he gives his handprint. The fire fighters are taking them as part of the investigation into the missing girls. There was a mysterious handprint on the car – Kevin’s. It turns out the firehouse bolt cutters are missing and they can’t help him with his handcuff but he’s already given his handprint at that point, thus royally fucking himself. Back in his truck Patti points out that he went in there to get free and instead got caught. The only time she ever felt free was when she killed herself, she continues. That’s what free is – dead.

In the next scene Kevin goes home to find Jill waiting. She tells him to get it together and fix this. It’s the second time he’s screwing up his family… her family too. Kevin then goes to Laurie’s hotel and tells her all about Patti. They smoke together. His secret smoking was a source of contention in their marriage so – comedic irony. Then Laurie, who’s a shrink, tells Kevin that Patti wants to stay away from her because she can prove Patti doesn’t exist by testing her with things only Laurie and Patti would know. She tells Kevin what he’s seeing isn’t real, using her shrink chops big time. He’s having a psychotic break, just like his father.

Laurie gives him the story of what she and Tommy did. She explains that after trauma people’s delusions relieve them of emotional pain by making the world seem understandable again when their reality is unbearable because it hurts so much. Laurie tells Kevin he needs medication. He asks if she changed her last name and she says no. Her last name is still Garvey and he could bring her into Miracle, passing as his wife. Kevin wants her to come home with him, “You said I need help. So, help,” he says. So, Laurie goes home with him. He gives her the guest bed where Mary was sleeping.

Then Nora calls but won’t tell him where she is. He tells her there’s a way he can get better but he needs to know she’ll believe him when he says Patti’s gone. Nora says she’ll believe him. He asks if she’ll come back and Nora says she’d like that. Then Jill walks in and sees Laurie so, yet again it’s time for Pissed-off-Jill. She screams for her dad to tell her what’s going on but Kevin just peeled out of the driveway in his pickup. He goes straight to the trailer in the woods where Michael is “just leaving,” and says God be with you to Kevin on the way out. Once inside Virgil gives him poison to stop his heart and explains that he’ll shoot his heart with epinephrine after a few minutes to revive him. Kevin asks if he’s done this before and he gives the example of the guy up on the pillar in the town square as a “success story,” Uh Oh.

Kevin is about to drink the poison when he stops and asks Patti if she wants him to do this or not. She says she does. Kevin then tells her how Laurie said he’s psychotic like his dad. His father told him he vanquished his own voices by finally doing what they told him. Thus, Kevin drinks the poison right as Patti screams, “Kevin stop!” then he’s dead on the floor with scary white death drooling out the corner of his mouth. Virgil fills the needle with epinephrine but drops it on the floor. Instead of picking it up to inject the needle into Kevin, Virgil picks up a gun and eats it, shooting himself without hesitation. Michael enters right then and shakes his head at his dead grandfather’s body then pulls Kevin across the linoleum. It’s unclear where Michael’s taking him but it’s definitely farther away from the epinephrine, not closer. Virgil’s suicide is unexpected for a number of reasons, timing for one, but also because it was he who told Kevin, “Life is precious,” earlier in the episode when Kevin told him he didn’t really want to die.

It’s fascinating how The Leftovers probes into the power of belief especially as a salve within the agony of trauma. Kevin will do anything at all, even die, in order to avoid the possibility that he could have a mental weakness. He’d also rather believe his father’s delusions than face the fact that his father was actually sick. It’s a veritable shitstorm of magical thinking that kills Kevin in this episode. He simply can’t hear Laurie, even though he goes to her for help and seemingly wants more when he brings her home. During his phonecall with Nora we don’t know if he’s going to get rid of Patti via medication, as Laurie suggests, or via Virgil’s death route. We only know he thinks he’ll succeed at extricating Patti. This keeps us clutching to the hope that Kevin will take the sane route. Thus, we’re engaged in our own brand of magical thinking throughout the episode too. Kevin’s dead as of the end of “A Most Powerful Adversary” but still we cling to the hope that somehow he’s going to be OK. The Leftovers does that to us. It wraps us in beautiful, hopeful delusions… before ripping them out from underneath.

–Katherine Recap

[For American Horror Story – Hotel “Room 33” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Room 33 Ramona and Donovan enact their plan for revenge; Liz Taylor finds true love.

The title of episode “Room 33” raises the hairs at the back of one’s neck because in the first episode we heard Iris say she was “going to feed that thing in Room 33,” with a dreadful tone – an indelible detail. But the real fun of “Room 33” comes from the ways the episode follows through on this theme of three with titillating threesomes.

The episode begins with The Countess in 1926, when she was a mere Mrs. Johnson. Married and pregnant with a gargantuan belly, she visits a doctor to help her with this problem. She claims her husband somehow has no idea she’s pregnant and that she’s only three weeks along. So, her doctor/patient relationship is off to an honest start at least. He takes her to a dirty basement where a nurse shows concern about Mrs. Johnson’s temperature being only seventy five degrees. So, she must already be a vampire at this point, a pregnant vampire. The doctor then extracts the baby and the nurse whispers, “It’s alive,” in horror before the baby seemingly lunges at her. Then the creepy doc swaddles and places it on the pre-countess, Mrs. Johnson’s chest saying, “Congratulations, it’s a boy.” A bit later she visits the baby in a dark attic nursery and tells him, “Mommy’s going to Paris but then she’ll have lots and lots of money and will never have to leave you again,” thus providing this mysterious being with a lifetime’s worth of mommy issues in a mere one minute scene. We won’t see his face until the very last shot of the episode but soon find out his name is Bartholomew.

In the next scene John Lowe wakes up to find Holden in his bed and chases the vampire boy down the hall to his casket room in the empty swimming pool. There John sees the vampire kids in their clear coffins as well as his wife, Alex, who wakes just enough to see him seeing her. And yes, he sees her seeing him seeing her. It’s a trifecta of terror that perfectly encapsulates their marriage. They see each other perfectly well but inevitably deny they see anything, as will later happen when Alex pretends this incident never occurred between them.

Then Liz Taylor and Tristan are having great sex in Ms. Taylor’s bedroom. Liz gives him some Bronte and Oscar Wilde to help develop Tristan’s tiny starved model brain cells a bit. The better to fall in love with, Liz hopes. In fact, they talk about love and Tristan seems genuinely smitten with her. Part of it seems to be that he can still tell himself he’s not gay because Liz Taylor identifies as a hetero female though she still has a penis. She may even feel the same way about Tristan, Liz admits but she’s concerned The Countess wouldn’t approve of their relationship. So, there’s already a third wheel in their relationship at the very beginning. Speaking of The Countess, it’s now time for another, less industrious sex scene. What this sex scene needs is a third participant! The Countess tries to entice Will Drake but can’t get him off or even a bit hard because Will’s hardcore into dick. So, she texts Tristan asking him to come to her suite and fluff Drake a bit for her. Tristan insists he’s not gay but gets busy with Drake for her sake anyway. He’s such a trooper, that Tristan.

Alex then approaches Liz Taylor at the front desk for help because John saw her in her coffin so now he knows. Then she and Ms. Taylor “get rid of those coffins,” before Alex goes to John’s room. Lowe immediately confronts her saying he saw her in a coffin but she’s got a story about him calling her to say he was having visions. She tells John it makes sense because that’s the same story Scarlett told them. He’s just empathizing with his little girl by having the same visions she had. John then runs out on her and back to the coffin room to prove what he saw was real but, of course, she and Liz had removed everything by now… so, he’s back to his appearance vs reality conundrum. Time to hit the bottle.

Ramona and Donovan then visit the Hotel Cortez together. While they ride up in the elevator she’s pulls a shiny hunting knife out of her handbag, ready to slice up some vampire kiddies. Ramona’s excited and eager but Donovan’s a bit hesitant (still hung up on The Countess) so she says she’ll take care of the killing part herself. In the empty swimming pool she gets pissed that the kid coffins are missing now. Iris joins her and says she agrees the kids have to go first if they want to take out The Countess. Along with Bartholomew, they are The Countess’s only reason to continue living. Ramona then searches further for the vampire babies, especially Bartholomew. She finds the black-eyed-baby-monster-we-still-can’t-quite-see in a creepy bedroom. Ramona sing songs for him to come out and see “Auntie Ramona” while she holds her shiny hunting knife high and ready for stabby time. But then in the next scene she’s nursing a scratched cheek at the bar with Liz and asks if “they found it” about Bartholomew so the little monster somehow escaped her dagger and Alex has thus now been enlisted for the job of finding the baby monster. Ms. Taylor tells Ramona she has to get out of the Hotel Cortez right away because the sight of her will upset The Countess. Liz explains that things need to be calm right now because she’s in love with The Countess’s hottie, Tristan. She wouldn’t be able to negotiate with a fired up and feisty Countess.

Meanwhile Donovan is all up in The Countess suite, sniffing panties and such, until interrupted by the dead swedish model duo who are realizing that they’re dead. He tells them they have to find their purpose or they’ll be like hamsters on a wheel. That’s the hotel’s power over dead guests. Donovan tells them the story of a guest named Cara who killed herself in a Hotel Cortez tub. She remained aimless for months until she found her purpose – terrorizing guests of the hotel for kicks. That’s her reprieve from the hamster wheel. Her fun. So, they have to find their own kicks. In the Swedish duo’s first attempt they sex up a guest before killing him – threesome time! But it’s ultimately unsatisfying and they clearly haven’t found their purpose yet… Then they encounter Alex and she tells them killing isn’t where the fun’s at. They’ve got to mess with men’s minds. Alex proposes the perfect scenario. She knows this guy who’s always wanted two girls. Um, yeah Alex, pretty much every guy on the planet meets that criteria. But, of course, we know she’s talking about John and wants to mess with his mind so he forgets she’s now a vampire.

John’s already messing with his own mind, drinking out of a bottle in the hallway. Liz Taylor approaches him and tries to help but Lowe screams that he’d rather just have his breakdown, THANKS. After Liz leaves the two Swedish model types sidle up to him and before he knows it they’re headed to boner town – threesome time again! It’s all quite delightful until the Swedish duo start slicing each other up and bleeding everywhere, spilling blood all over his body while they still gyrate on his every skin cell. When the blood finally overcomes his lust, John runs naked and covered in blood to the lobby where Liz says it looks like his breakdown is progressing well. Then they return together to his room where the Swedish dead duo are so happy now. They say they’ve found their purpose, messing with the heads of horndogs. Goodie for them. James March even makes an appearance to John just to say it looks like he’s finally making himself properly at home in the Hotel Cortez. This propels him to leave. John packs his bags and goes home to Scarlet.

Sad Scarlet tells him Alex hasn’t been home for two days. He promises to make things right again for her. But then it seems like something is pulsating in his suitcase and suddenly he’s chasing whatever it is, eventually finding and shooting it in the kitchen. But then it still gets away, three bullets later, leaving a blood trail. After the shootout Alex and the cops come to the house to help and John’s boss ends up driving Scarlet away in his patrol car while Alex attempts to comfort John who’s upset that Scarlet’s afraid of him now. He says he knows Alex is going back to the Cortez for the night but she won’t outwardly admit it. Then he goes inside and Alex pokes around their yard, still looking for monster baby Bartholomew.

The Countess returns from a blissful getaway with the Drake when she encounters Liz Taylor who finally tells her she’s in love with Tristan. Ms. Taylor calmly explains that The Countess is just playing with Tristan but there’s a real love developing between them. So, let’s all three talk The Countess suggests. The trio talk in Liz Taylor’s humble bedroom. Tristan says The Countess only orgasm come from the heartbreak she causes. She gets a thrill from the moving on part, he says. Then Ms. Taylor pleads with The Countess, “Please just let me have this one, “ and The Countess asks Tristan if this is what he wants as well. When Tristan nods she says fine that Ms. Taylor can have Tristan. But then she slits his throat and tells Liz, “He’s yours. Bury him,” and leaves. It’s unclear what will happen now with Tristan. Does burying him kill him? Or will he come back different? Time will tell. After this she goes to Bartholomew’s room where Alex is caring for her monster baby. The Countess seems grateful that she “saved my son,” and Alex points out that The Countess saved hers as well, although kidnapping and turning a child into a vampire is a fairly progressive definition of lifesaving in some circles. Then we see that Bartholomew lives in Room 33 before the camera finally reveals his face. Let’s just say it’s one that only a mother could love.

–Katherine Recap

[For Scream Queens‘ “Mommie Dearest” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FOX Summary:
Mommie Dearest Grace learns more about Chanel; Dean Munsch becomes a target; a figure from the past returns.

Episode eight, “Mommie Dearest” begins with Grace in Dean Munsch’s office waiting to hear what happened with the sorority baby in the bathtub twenty years ago. But Munsch backpedals on her promise from the end of episode seven and claims not to know anything. Then Grace gets all threatening and weird saying Munsch will fess up the truth when it stabs her in the heart… whatever that means. Next we’ve got Munsch in the shower scene from psycho with the Red Devil ready to stab her before she takes him down with a swift blow. She’d seen the movie Psycho like fifty plus times, the Dean explains. Then just as she’s calling 911, the two Devils enter along with an intimidating somebody in a Justice Scalia mask. But it turns out Munsch had some serious martial arts training with a previous lover and she fights them all into submission until they run away. The Dean reigns victorious once again.

In the next scene the Chanels meet to discuss all the reasons they believe Zayday is the killer but none make any sense. So, Chanel says they’ve got to do what her father always says when you can’t get something done right you pay someone a lot of money to do it. So, she’ll hire someone to find better reasons Zayday and/or Grace are the killers. Next we see Denise in the Kappa kitchen frying up mozzarella sticks. She’s living at Kappa now on 24 hour security duty for Dean Munsch. Chanel No. 3 then offers Denise three million dollars to prove Zayday and/or Grace are the killer.

Then Grace is back in Munsch’s office and the Dean gives her a hypothetically heavy case for why she can’t tell her anything about what happened. Still, she tells Grace the name of the girl who died in the bathtub, Sophia Doyle, and claims that’s all the info she has. Grace is disappointed because she’s pretty sure that’s not her mother’s name – at least not according to her father. Then the Dean points out that maybe Grace isn’t the do-gooder she claims to be and really just a girl looking for her mother. This gets Grace all feisty and defensive. She’s out to find the killer, dammit! Yeah, right.

Back at Kappa Denise is asking around looking for reasons Zayday’s the killer. Candle girl, Jennifer tells Denise about a story Zayday confided in her one night. It’s a classic bullying story and at the end Zayday says she’s out for revenge against the bullies. But then it turns out Zayday’s eavesdropping on Denise and candle vlogger’s convo. Z tells Jennifer she’ll be sorry she ever told that story. So, right on schedule, that night while recording her candle blog, Jennifer gives a candle five stars and then gets whacked with a throat slashing – but the Red Devil doesn’t miss or get his ass kicked this time. Meanwhile in another room at Kappa Denise tells the Chanels she needs an advance of ten percent on the three million to help finance her investigation. Chanel says Denise can just call her family’s money managers for the money. Denise’s “Can I get that in cash?” is still floating through the air when they all then discover Jennifer’s dead body, covered in candle wax.

Grace tells Puppy Pete she needs to find out all about her mother and the answers to what happened to the bathtub baby. They quickly determine that the answer key to everything lies with The Hag of Shady Lane. Because she’s a hag, and evidently quite shady they figure she must have been in a mental institution and leave right away to go there and ask her questions. At the institution they talk to the lady who paints all the patients and she then reveals to them, with a painting, that Gigi is The Hag of Shady Lane and apparently also the bathtub lady but (shocker) she had two babies – a boy and a girl. These scenes are prime examples of how ridiculous the investigations are on Scream Queens. Hey, I’ve got a theory and then five seconds later that theory just happens to be the truth… or so it seems for the moment.

Grace then goes to Gigi’s to confront her and doesn’t scare The Hag of Shady Lane even the the tiniest bit. In fact Gigi drops the bomb that she’s now engaged to Wes, Grace’s Dad. So, the disillusioned Grace leaves and now Wes is the next step on Grace’s confrontational tour. He immediately tells Grace how Gigi was the one who bought the engagement ring and that he’s just going along with it for the great sex that comes along with letting Gigi wear the ring. Then when he mentions that it’s been 16 years since her Mom died Grace realizes that her father must have known Gigi back when she was born. Wes gets all weird and mirror happy while Grace backs away and out the door – now thinking he’s a killer in cahoots with Gigi AKA The Hag of Shady Lane.

The Dean then speaks to the campus, tells them about Candle Jennifer’s death and subsequently shuts down Kappa, as usual. In Chanel’s inevitable hissy fit that follows she hires Scotland Yard to prove that Grace and Zayday are the killers because she simply can’t abide Kappa closing and the subsequent relinquishment of her popularity. Sure they don’t have any jurisdiction in the US, forget about on a college campus, but they can investigate like a Mutha and she’s got plenty of benjamins to bring them on board. Scotland Yard quickly comes up with lots of info for her including the fact that Chanel No. 5 is intent on murdering her. But she quickly dismisses this info because it’s not at all surprising and not to mention that it’s not even slightly related to why she hired them. They’re supposed to prove Grace and Zayday are the killers! Scotland Yard tells her Grace and/or Zayday don’t seem like probable suspects BUT Grace’s mother does have a criminal record. Chanel takes one look at the file and declares that this is all the evidence they need to prove Grace is the killer.

When Grace returns to Kappa Chanel tells her all about her mother and it turns out that she wasn’t the bathtub lady at all, but just a Kappa girl that got drunk and pregnant then fell down the slippery slope of bad girl decisions after that with shoplifting, drunk driving, meth, etc. Denise then tries to play house mother to the Kappa girls. She borrows clothes from Chanel No. 5’s closet and tries to get the girls to do some community service. Chanel interrupts saying Denise can’t be the house mother because she’s the house president. But then they have a private pow wow just the two of them and Denise says Chanel has to apologize to Grace for berating her mother or else Denise will sleep with Chad again and take him away from Chanel. This taps into Chanel’s greatest fear of losing her popularity (the only reason she’s with Chad) and thus Denise finally has her attention. So, Chanel then does what Denise demanded and apologizes to Grace, saying we all have mommy issues anyway. “Kappa is like the mom we never had,” she explains.

When Grace later asks Wes questions regarding what Chanel said about her mother and he says it’s mostly true. They were just really young and foolish, etc. When asked why he hid it from her all these years Wes says he was just trying to protect her. But then Grace gets all strange and says she’s her mother’s daughter and he should stay far away from her if he wants to protect himself. She storms out all huffy puff like. Then Gigi comes in as Grace leaves and tells Wes Grace is doing badly in school and falling apart. He should commit her (or something) otherwise he’s really failing her as a father. That is what good fathers do, after all, commit their child to an institution for getting bad grades their first semester in college. No wonder our country’s mental institutions are simply bursting at the seams with lazy college freshmen….

Then in the final scene we encounter an incognito Boone Clemens, played by Nick Jonas and back from the dead. He attempts to workout at the gym in a giant lumberjack fake beard and stache while on his cell talking about how he’s tired of playing the Red Devil and killing people for Gigi. The plan is to take her down. We knew he was still alive and now we know he’s out for the The Hag of Shady Lane. Well, bring it on, Bro. We’re all waiting to see this one go down.

“Mommie Dearest” makes many attempts to imply that Grace could be our killer but we’re not falling for it here at Fetchland.com. We’re still convinced it’s Chanel No. 1. Hey, she actually kills people for reals! And she’s funny and rich and looks damn good doing it too… What better combo exists for a killer on the glamorous comedy romp Scream Queens than this?

Katherine Recap

Cynllwyn Bernadette

[For The Bastard Executioner‘s “The Bernadette Maneuver/Cynllwyn Bernadette” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
The Bernadette Maneuver/Cynllwyn Bernadette Ventrishire encounters an old French foe as Wilkin gains new insight into his holy destiny.

Season One of The Bastard Executioner is almost over!

I. Ash makes an ass out of himself.

In the opening scene of “The Bernadette Maneuver/Cynllwyn Bernadette” the remaining twin (remember, Corbett had her sister tortured and killed in “Broken Thing/Toredig Pethau” to learn the location of the hated half-brother Gaveston) tells Ash that she is bound too tightly. Can he loosen her hands and feet?

Only if you promise not to run away.

Unsurprisingly, she runs away.

Oh, Ash.

Let’s not forget that it was Ash who got the entire tragic plot of this show moving, as he was the one who was seen by Castle Ventris-men, precipitating the attack on the village way back in the Pilot.

Oh, Ash.

II. Love and Jessamy

Jessamy awakes in strange quarters; turns out she is in Isabel’s room, a captive of Lady Love.

The conclusion of the previous episode saw a jealous Jessamy catching Love and Wilkin lip-locked, to no great amusement of the craziest cast member. Jessamy attacked Love… Which got her drugged (placated, mostly) by Father Ruskin and squirreled away for her own safety.

Love lays it out straight: You attacked a noblewoman. That’s bad news. Give up the fool notion that Wilkin is actually your [dead] husband Gawain Maddox and I will provide for your family forever. Persist in this… And I’ll ruin you (no one is going to believe a crazy woman anyway).

Love is uncharacteristically ruthless in this scene. Not ruthless for The Bastard Executioner, but ruthless for Love, certainly.

III. The Bernadette Maneuver

The Reeve takes the blame for the missing twin (he was the one who tied her up), and Ash reappears with the questing band bearing a doe he just trapped, Bernadette.

“She’s not much of a talker,” says Ash introducing Bernadette to the Ventrishire Knights et al… “I must admit I rather like.”

Milus Corbett / Vampire Bill notes that “a beautiful, silent, doe” is the “desire of every man.”

The implication here is that Ash likes shagging animals. A kind of sub-theme to this episode is about where any given character is sticking it, especially in secret, not just Ash.

Ash brings Bernadette to the gates of the Earl of Pembroke (who is assumed to be harboring the hated Gaveston). The goal is to get a feel for how many men Pembroke has by assessing the soldiers’ need for how much meat: The Bernadette Maneuver that gives this episode its name.

The Ventrishire Knights, led by Wilkin (of course) kill [almost] everybody thanks to the Bernadette Maneuver, knocking the first line of guards down to one last guy. Corbett threatens to stuff the last Knight’s mouth with the penises of all the other dead Knights and guardsmen if he doesn’t talk, which is horrifying and would make him the stuff of legend when he is eventually discovered. The questers immediately learn of Gaveston’s hiding spot.

IV. Militant padres share a moment.

The Archdeacon asks the same open mind Father Ruskin gave to Annora, to hear the Rosula’s side of the equation.

Basically, the Seraphim are heretics / zealots.

Um, no they’re not; I read their texts.

They will create chaos with their texts.

Again, I’ve read their texts. They will create chaos only in the Pope’s chambers.

The people are ignorant, driven by fear and fantasy. What they need are simple beliefs and sound moral structure… Which costs money.

Father Ruskin seems unmoved by the Archdeacon’s arguments various, but agrees to tell him where Annora is in return for letting Luca go.

V. The soft-spot Executioner

Corbett &co. Kill everyone but Gaveston, the Earl of Pembroke (harboring him) and the Earl’s mistress. The Earl of Pembroke was actually charged by King Edward to deliver Gaveston out of England, and claims loyalty to the King over any conspiring Barons. He will not sway from this.

That’s fine; Corbett will have his mistress tortured to death in front of the Earl unless he signs a writ giving Gaveston to the Barons.

Wilkin has to draw the line somewhere (apparently?) … He will not torture an innocent woman to death. Corbett points out that she is guilty of the crime of adultery, violating the Earl’s marriage bed, and can be legally punished as a whore. When that isn’t good enough, Corbett agrees to let Toran and Wilkin kill any remaining Knights they want to from the initial village attack, completing their vengeance.


As he prepares Pembroke’s mistress for torture, Wilkin whispers to her that he is not in fact going to kill her via a series of vaginally-themed devices, but she should just scream a bunch when he pretends to.

Predictably, the Earl of Pembroke breaks after a scream or three; Corbett notes that for all that pain there wasn’t a drop of blood (but he got what he wanted, so whatever).

VII. Milus and Gaveston sitting in a tree…

In a reversal and redux of their interaction in “Piss Profit/Proffidwyr Troeth”, Vampire Bill strongly suggests that Gaveston blow him in order to receive clemency.

Gaveston does so, or at least tries to, before Corbett cuffs him one. It is strongly implied that blowing the King was Gaveston’s main feature at court (before his expulsion).

I was actually under the impression initially that going after Gaveston was a King-sanctioned hunt, but it seems like the Barons are a little apprehensive about actually pulling the trigger on the kill.

Gaveston is convicted of “malicious counsel” to Edward, and ignoring a decree of “continental exile” … He taunts Corbett to great anger but Wilkin stops Corbett from killing Gaveston. There is a strong implication that the King will kill whoever kills Gaveston (when he finds out) and Wilkin believes Corbett is too useful to Love to endanger himself. So he’s back in Executioner mode. Toran actually strikes the first blow, making it easier for Wilkin to decapitate Gaveston… Who had it coming if anyone on this show did.

“I do not regret loving someone above my status.”

Famous last words, man.

VIII. Three reveals

Father Ruskin was an assassin before he was a priest, not just a soldier. He uses a bone fragment to undo his shackles, kills all the Rosula guarding himself and Luca, and gets the hell out of dodge… Before being surrounded and re-captured. But hey, he was pretty badass before that.

As they ride back to Ventrishire, the company passes what appears to be the naked corpse of the escaped twin from the beginning of the episode. She is beheaded and positioned weirdly, like the bodies from the first few episodes (the nominal reason Wilkin’s crew were captured back in “A Hunger/Newyn”). Ash has a weird, giddy, smile on his face as they pass, which I think is mad foreshadowing. These bodies — though we haven’t seen them in a month and a half — are an as-yet unresolved plot point. Could Ash be a serial killer?

When he finally gets home, having learned Luca and Ruskin are missing (but having a chance to smooch Love), Wilkin encounters Annora. He blames her for everything he’s had to do, calling his own actions “unforgivable” and declaring her the devil.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Annora declares him her son.

Annora’s mic drop brings the theme of sticking it — sometimes in secret — full circle. We have Ash in his animals; Wilkin [not yet] in Love (but a huge point of contention between Love and Jessamy, and the solution to Love’s pregnancy problem); the Knight and his threatened mouthful of dead compatriots’; Milus and Gaveston; Gaveston and Edward; and now Annora (and presumably the Dark Mute).

One more to go.


[For Fargo “The Gift of the Magi” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
The Gift of the Magi Floyd takes action and Charlie tries to prove himself; Peggy and Ed disagree about what to do next.

Fargo goes hardcore mainstream with this episode’s title, referencing one of the most well-known short stories ever told. We’ve all read or at least heard about The Gift of the Magi, the story of a poor couple who each sell their most treasured possession to buy a Christmas gift for the other. Then there’s the fun part, the wicked twist at the end – she got a watch chain for the watch he just sold and he bought a fancy clip/comb for the long hair she sold. In the poignant and oft misappropriated words of Alanis Morrisette, “Isn’t it Ironic?” As far as this episode, the answer is an indubitable yes, every storyline thick with this particular twist.

The story starts with the deeply resonant voice of the American Dream – Ronald Reagan gives a speech in Minnesota while on his presidential campaign trail. It’s a message thick with hope for a better tomorrow. Throughout the Reagan pep talk voiceover we see fourteen men on the Kansas City crew out for a hunt. Just as they’re about to shoot their first animal the unsuspecting crew take on sudden gunfire from behind and end up losing a a dozen men, everyone but Joe and one of the Kitchen Brothers. Reagan finishes his speech to a crowd with tears streaming down their inspired all american cheeks as they rise to their feet with applause.

Next we see Hanzee bring Rye’s belt buckle to Floyd and say it was a butcher that did it. Dodd misinterprets this to mean it was a contract killer posing as a butcher and thus that’s why they call him the “Butcher of Luverne.” Dodd is pulling this out of his butthole, of course, simply because it fits his vision for escalating the war.

In the next scene Dodd comes home from the hunting shootout to tell Floyd they took out all of the Kansas City crew except Milligan – who wasn’t there. Floyd says she wants the butcher dead and to show him no mercy. This mention of Ed shifts the scene to him waking from a guilt-laden dream about the bloody Rye. He gets up and goes down into the basement where Peggy awaits. She’s surrounded by her Hoarders level collection of magazines and books piled to the ceiling. Peggy finally tells Ed how her boss, Constance, saw the car and knew about the accident before they hit the tree to establish their fake alibi. She knows something! Panicked Peggy says they have to leave town. Those Gephardt ghouls are coming for us. We can’t stay here. Ed adamantly insists they dig in their heels, have kids, buy the butcher shop, stay together, make it work, figure it out. That’s what people do. He reminds her that she said all they had to do was clean up the mess and then could go back to normal. The visual representation of Peggy’s inability to let go of reading material coupled with her yearning to leave it all behind sets an ironic stage here.

In the next scene, Dodd allows Bear’s eager kid, Charlie to go along for the Butcher of Luverne murder with his minion, Virgil. Meanwhile Simone drives off to a hotel rendezvous with Mike and we see that one of the Kitchen Brothers also survived and stands by Milligan in his hotel room. So, the Kansas City crew is down to two. Simone tells Mike she didn’t know Hanzee was going to attack them. You believe me don’t you? She drops to her knees before him. Then he says, What are we Romeo and Juliet? and shows her Joe Bulo’s head in a hat box. Mike tells her he wants to know what her family’s going to do before they do it every time… otherwise she can die with the rest of them. So, Simone hits the bricks and it’s unclear if she’ll be back in Romeo’s arms anytime soon. One thing’s for certain, she’s stuck in an ironic situation. If Simone wants to be with Mike she’s gotta cozy up with her despicable father, the very person who’s driven her into Mike’s arms. Simone goes home to a threatening Dodd who offers her a “fist or a knife” ya know, like Dads do. It’s only because Floyd steps in to stop Dodd from messing with his daughter and tells Simone to go upstairs that he doesn’t start beating her right then and there.

At the butcher shop Ed’s making family calls trying to get a loan and failing. It’s a recession – remember? The cashier, Noreen asks him why he bothers. He’s just gonna die anyway. What’s the point? She’s resolute in her pig-tailed, absurdist philosophy. Bear’s son, Charlie shows up at the butcher shop then, gun in hand and hesitant about proving himself a real Gerhardt. Before he goes in the family minion reminds him not to leave any witnesses. Charlie enters the shop and Noreen asks him what meat he wants. He says he just wants to see Blumquist so she tells Charlie Ed’s the back. They flirt a little and talk Camus until Ed comes out with a plate of fresh cuts. Charlie chickens out. He buys meat and leaves.

Lou gets a call from the Fargo PD that there are twelve dead bodies in the woods and it’s obviously a Gerhardt job. Can Lou come and be a tough guy at the Gerhardt’s like last time? Lou says he’ll come first thing tomorrow after he’s done escorting Reagan’s bus to the next town. Then, in the best scene of the episode, Lou and Reagan are side by side chatting at a roadside urinal. Reagan thanks Lou for his service and tells his own war story. The irony lies in Reagan’s story because it’s about one of his war movies and he can’t even remember the ending. Reagan talks too long after Lou’s already zipped up and then Lou says he wonders if The United States can really get out of the mess we’re in. The sickness of the world seems to have gotten inside everyone, even his wife – killing her with cancer. How are we going to et out of this mess we’re in? Reagan responds, “Son, there’s not a challenge on God’s earth that can’t be overcome by an American,” Lou says, “But how?” and Reagan leaves the bathroom without answering.

In the next scene Betsy takes her trial drug and looks at her daughter’s drawing. At first it looks like a typical child’s doodle of a family with a house and sun above. But then we see it’s not the a sun at all, but a UFO. Hank comes in and Betsy tells him she’s nauseated but that’s good because it means she’s probably on a real drug and not just a sugar pill. The irony – reading a symptom of sickness as the best possible outcome.

Meanwhile back at the butcher shop Charlie’s in the phone booth calling home and says he’s ready to go back to school. It’s Bear’s dream come true for his son, if he makes it out of this debacle alive. Virgil then pressures Charlie back into the butcher shop. Once inside he flips the door sign to “Closed,” pulls out his gun and sneaks into the back room where Ed’s cutting a pig into pieces. Noreen comes out of the bathroom and alerts Ed with a shriek as Charlie takes a shot, so he ducks out of the way of the bullet, which misses Ed but starts a massive fire. Virgil then storms in from the back and the real fight ensues, a blazing fire spreading throughout the ruckus. It’s a close one with Virgil nearly strangling Ed before he frees himself and machetes Virgil. He and Noreen save Charlie, knocked out on the floor, and drag him out of the fire. The three of them are out of the street when the fire completely overtakes the butcher shop. The place is toast. Ed watches his American Dream go up in flames and advises Noreen to tell the cops those perpetrators shot first and it was self defense and he saved the kid. Then Ed, still in his bloody butcher apron, runs away as Noreen calls after him – confused why he couldn’t just tell the cops himself. Lou shows up at the shell of the now burnt up butcher shop and sees Charlie Gephardt sliding into the ambulance on a stretcher.

At the Blumquist’s Peggy packs a bright orange and a blue suitcase then picks up her freshly fixed car at the shop and pays with a bad check. She starts to drive away but then comes back and asks the dufus mechanic, Sonny if he wants to buy her car. He gives her seven hundred for it, about half what it’s worth… but she was eager to strike a deal today. She even says, “Better 700 today than 1400 tomorrow,” as if this is a well-known tome for ages. In her next scene it’s classic Gift of the Magi time on Fargo. Ed gets home and says they need to pack and it’s time to go. Time to run like Peggy said. Then she says no he was right. She sold the car and now they can buy the shop. Ed tells her the shop burned down and he killed another fella – maybe two. She’s gotta pack and they gotta go. Then police sirens are blazing outside their door and there’s no time to even consider packing. Irony prevails. They were both wrong and Lou was right.

But the biggest irony of this episode is the whole “American Dream” concept as best exemplified by Reagan’s presidential campaign. Have hope for the future! Believe in yourself! This coupled with the comedic insight of Noreen, the butcher shop cashier who quotes Camus and responds to every silver lining with, ‘You’re going to die anyway,” provides us with the most resonant ironic twist of the time. They’re both right. We are all going to die anyway and sure, why not go down in a blaze of apple pie and baseball glory – confident, happy, and armed to the gills with pride in the American Way. It’s at least as good a condition as any other for dying. Of course, to Lou’s point, these points of view and ways of life are hardly answers to the real challenges we faced as a country in 1979. The recession had exhausted our options until all americans felt we had left to hope for was a sunny outlook and the glorious, moving speeches of a movie star. Lou’s resonating question to Reagan remains, like an echo in the chambers of our country’s heart. How are all these pep talks really an answer to our problems? Lou remains the voice of reason for Fargo and he illuminates us as an audience with his insight. Meanwhile every character on the show ignores Lou’s reasonable conjecture and instead listens to the guy who sounds better and says precisely what they want to hear – Ronald Reagan.

–Katherine Recap

[For The Leftovers‘ “Lens” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Lens Nora is irritated by unexpected visitors; Kevin’s predicament becomes impossible to ignore.

It’s interesting that the HBO summary doesn’t even mention Erika (Regina King’s character) for the episode “Lens” because her character’s light shines brightest in this one. Nora also plays a brilliant role here and they’re each a lens through which we see the incidents and emotions playing out in this particular storyline. But it’s really Erika we get to know as her heart beats through us here. Part of this comes from the fact that she answers a bunch of our questions clearly and quickly in “Lens” and the other part is that we experience her heartbreak, delusions and pain firsthand. Even when it’s about Nora, somehow it’s still all about Erika too. “Lens” is an episode about focusing our sights on the source, like a magnifying glass with sunlight streaming through.

There’s a set of scientists who have a theory that certain people among us are lenses. This means their mere presence in your life could cause you to depart. Because Nora lost her entire family and then three teens seem to have departed the very day she moved in next door to one of them, these scientists think Nora’s a lens. In the first scene of “Lens” one of these scientists, Dr. Joaquin Cuatro knocks on Nora’s door and alienates her with his probing questions and lack of tact. So, she’s not really in the mood later when Cuatro’s colleague calls to apologize for his abrupt manner

A guy from the DSD (Department of Sudden Departures) comes to Nora’s yard and she tells him she’s on leave from the DSD herself. As they talk neighbor Erika quickly leaves to get in her car and ignores the DSD guy’s cries to get her attention. Erika wears a hearing aid, so it’s unclear if she’s ignoring him on purpose. Then she drives to the forest and digs up a shoebox just like the one she dug up in a previous episode with the bird that flew away when she opened the box. This time there’s a dead bird inside. Erika removes the dead bird and places it near a pile of other dead birds nearby. Afterward in town the moms of the other two missing teen girls approach her and say she’s got to cooperate with the DSD. Erika says no she doesn’t.

Later Nora joins the DSD guy at Smittys and finds out info about the current departure investigations – the three teenage girls. He tells her the DSD thinks maybe the teen trio did actually depart. She finds out they’ve even changed the questionnaire now to focus it better. Then Nora asks if the DSD thinks one person can be responsible for another’s departure. He says yes and tells her about “lensing.” The DSD guy describes it as being like when a kid holds a magnifying glass to an ant and burns it with sunlight. There was an article about it in Scientific America last month, he tells her. She goes straight home and reads the article.

Then Erika treats a clinic patient beaten up for selling water. She realizes it was her husband, John that pounded the guy and says he should let it go. “Let him slide, just this once.” He asks why and Erika says so she won’t see him back there again that night, fixing him up because he got beat up again. When she gets home Erika sees Baby Lily in her carseat on the hood of the Garvey truck outside. She brings Lily to Nora who says Kevin was supposed to be watching Lily. They tell stories about each losing their children for brief periods and Erika finds out Nora lost two children before.

Back at the Murphy’s John asks Erika if she blames him for people throwing rocks through their window. She says he needs to hit people because he needs to hit people, like the man he beat up this morning. John claims it’s because the guy was “selling lies” …but maybe he’s just angry. Erika seems to think so. But she hugs him when he says he’s trying. There’s a lot of forgiving wife syndrome going around this morning in Miracle – Nora was also uber quick to forgive Kevin for his negligence with Baby Lily.

Then Dr Cuatro’s colleague calls Nora again and this time she asks if they think she’s a lens. The doctor says yes. Nora asks why and she says the research is divisive but they think it has to do with the demon Azrael choosing her to do his dirty work. Nora hangs up before the woman finishes explaining – either laughing or crying, it’s unclear which. Next she takes Mary to visit Matt at the campground and says she’ll pick him up on their way to Mary’s OB appointment the following week. He asks why Nora looks dressed up and she explains that they’re going to a fundraiser for the missing teens straight from there.

Erika changes her hearing aid batteries but hasn’t put them back in her ears yet when she sees a boy dropping off a pie at her front door. She races after him, fast and focused, arms pumping and heart pounding across streets and around corners. Erika narrowly avoids an oncoming car right before finally catches him. She asks him why he ran but can’t hear because the hearing aids are back home so Erika tells the boy to repeat and speak slow. Then she brings the pie out to the old man Michael visits for prayers. He’s in a field with raising sparrows. Turns out he’s related to Erika and left the pies on their porch. Now she knows Michael visits him to pray. Erika’s mad and doesn’t want his damn pie or for him anywhere near her family. He asks if she wants to take a bird with her when she goes and she denies any interest.

Then Jill goes to the fundraiser with Michael Murphy and Nora meets Kevin there. Nora donates $500 to the cause and then gazes longingly at the DSD guy’s briefcase – tucked next to his chair in front of her. The two women who approached Erika in town run a slideshow with pictures of their girls growing up together. As the slides flow Nora peeks inside the DSD guy’s briefcase and takes out the questionnaire file, slips it into her handbag and leaves. The guy who slaughters goats enters and lays down his plastic. Erika tries to stop him and then we have a round of Erika Explains It All for a bunch of Miracle mysteries. She pronounces that because he killed a goat on the October 14th Departure date many townsfolk think maybe he saved them. So, now he gets a pass to kill goats whenever he wants. Then Erika focuses on the wedding dress lady and says she’d tried on the dress on Departure day and thus now she wears it every day just in case that detail was what saved them all. Miracle’s a town with subscriptions to numerous superstitions in the hope of staying safe and sound. Yet here they are with three missing girls and no wedding dress or goat can change that.

That night Nora goes to Erika’s front door and hands her the questionnaire from the DSD guy’s briefcase and explains it will help her be prepared to answer them. Nora says Erika’s scared that if she answers the questions she and Miracle will find out that maybe Evie didn’t depart. Erika says so come in and ask me the questions, then. So, Nora sits with her and goes through them. One of the questions is the last words Evie said to her. Erika doesn’t remember the answer to this but answers all the rest of the questions completely. One of the other questions is about withdrawing a large sum of money from the bank and why. Erika admits she withdrew a large sum recently because she planned on leaving John. Then she talks about her grandma who told her Miracle was so special you can bury a bird in the woods for three days and it will fly away when you open the box on the third day. Her grandma told her if the bird’s alive you can make a wish and it will come true. Erika says she knew it was all pretend as a kid but because of the Departure happening she no longer knew what was pretend anymore. She told Nora she buried a sick sparrow for three days and wished her kids would be OK if she left John. Erika knew Michael would be fine because of his faith but that Evie would be heartbroken. So, she’d really been wishing Evie would be OK without her. The bird flew out, a medical impossibility. Thus Erika got her wish. Then the next night her daughter was missing. So, Erika believes she is the LENS that lost her Evie.

Nora feels the weight of Erika’s heartbreak about this because she also felt responsible for losing her children and thought it was her fault but, she explains to Erika, she’s evolved past the guilt now. “Terrible things happen in the world and the only comfort we get is that we didn’t cause them,” she says. “I’m sorry but this had nothing to do with you.” Then Erika asks if her children departed or died and Nora says they departed. Erika asks what their last words were to Nora but she doesn’t answer and just leaves in tears.

When she gets home Kevin says they need to talk. She asks if it can wait until tomorrow and he says no. He asks if she notices that he’s been losing his mind. Then he tells her about how he’s seeing the Ghost of Patti. Just as he finishes explaining it a rock crashes through their front window. Nora turns to look and Erika stands there long enough to catch Nora’s eye and stare right back, completely unabashed about being seen.

Mysterious and shocking sidebars:

After she’s dressed up nice for the fundraiser, Erika confronts Michael about visiting the old man and tells him not to anymore. She says do you know what your father would do if he found out? And Michael says, “Shoot him again?” Oh snap. It appears that maybe John went to prison for shooting Erika’s father – or something like that.

In a tiny scene Laurie, Kevin’s ex wife (Amy Brenneman) calls Nora on her cell and asks if Tom is there with them in Texas. Nora says no, she’s never even met Tom. Laurie replies that if Tom ever does come there to tell him she’s worried about him and she’s sorry. Nora promises to do so… Uh oh. Sweet Tom who was the self-proclaimed healer and redeemer last time we saw him is missing now.

Regina King, who plays Erika, was the guest on Thursday night’s Late Night Show to talk about The Leftovers and during the interview she described the show as a sort of “Misery Porn” for people. This is particularly true of the last two episodes in season two. What began as a glorious feast of hope and only a side salad of dread has now officially spiraled into a sadness festival of a season. Thing is now even the most sad-averse of us are hooked on it completely. With its two mothers, the indomitable Erika and vulnerable Nora as our lensesof insight and heart wrenching emotion we can’t let go of The Leftovers anymore than they can let go of their departed children.

–Katherine Recap

The Top 8 – Week Two

Posted by Michael Flores | Sports

“The Top 8” is an ongoing weekly column focused on the NBA… And more importantly my favorite NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers! There has only been one other installment (last week’s) so far, but if you want to check out the archives I made a tag for them and this is it.

When we left the Cavs last week they were 2-1 with a very tight loss to the Bulls on opening night (-2), followed by a couple of commanding victories over the Grizz (+30) and Heat (+10), respectively. Week Two was another three-game affair, but this week was more of a mixed bag. Though the Cavs won all three games, the margin for victory in each was weaker than we had seen previously. But perhaps more importantly they were against the Sixers, Knickerbockers, and Sixers again; or, arguably the worst team in the league, the worst run team in the league, and [again arguably] the worst team in the league again.

… And not one of those wins was all that convincing :/

Game Four: Cavaliers at Sixers 11/02/15

ESPN Headline: James scores 25,000th career point in Cavs’ win over 76ers

You don’t hit your 25,000th point very often in your career (once, if that); so giving LBJ a headline opportunity to take the bow was nice / fine / appropriate here. Luckily… He was also the best player of the game!

Outcome: Cavs by 7

The Top 8


You may notice that there are actually nine players in this “Top 8” … That is because Cavs big man Kevin Love and Philly big man Nerlens Noel did about as well as each other (identically, based on the Simple Models), so we couldn’t cut to just eight.

The biggest takeaways to this game (for me at least) were 1) a regression to sub-god (if still notable) performance from Kevin Love relative to Week One, and that the Cavs only won by seven.

But man… Can you imagine the world where we took Nerlens Noel first instead of Anthony Bennett? Noel started off slow last year but looks like he will develop into a star-level talent. I’d say the Cavs are allergic to taking great big men (we also drafted Dion Waiters over Andre Drummond) but you can only complain so much with Tristan Thompson performing at superstar level night-in and night-out. TT was tied for third-best this game, and it was by far his weakest outing of the week.

Game Five: Knicks at Cavaliers 11/04/15

ESPN Headline: LeBron scores 23, lifts Cavaliers to 96-86 win over Knicks

Despite its inherent LBJ-ness I can’t really get behind this headline. LeBron didn’t even crack the Top 8 producing players this game! He had twenty-three-on-twenty-three (blah) and missed half his free throws. His was not a bad game by any means, but in this outing he was definitely out-dueled by Carmelo, who despite only seventeen-on-eighteen (worse than LBJ’s offense), pulled down twelve rebounds and generally took care of the ball.

Some other headline ideas:

Knicks fail to hold monster first quarter lead


LeBron James actually starts killing it after killing sleeves

Outcome: Cavs by 10

The Top 8


The best player by far, though, was once again Tristan Thompson! Double-double in only twenty-six minutes; thirteen boards with crazy four-for-six shooting. Mikey likey.

Game Six: Sixers at Cavaliers 11/06/15

ESPN Headline: James scores 31 as Cavaliers beat Sixers 108-102

This James headline is fine. He in fact had the best game, which included three three-pointers and an absolutely filthy thirteen rebounds.

Outcome: Cavs by 6

The Top 8


James was resplendent in this game, but surprisingly, only a hair better than Noel. Noel went 9-18 for eighteen points (blah) but pulled down twelve rebounds and got five (!!!!!) steals. Steals in general have been called the hardest part of the box score to fill; steals out of your big man are great things indeed.

Kevin Love had a weak shooting night but cracked our Top 8 on the strength of fourteen rebounds.

It’s tough to argue with 3-0 on the week, and 5-1 overall.

We know, because it has already happened, that the Cavs opened up Week Three with yet another win (this time against the Indiana Pacers); which is great. The only thing I’m concerned about right now is that the Cavs’ opposition has been quite soft. The Knicks are bad; the Sixers are bad and we played them twice; the Pacers missed the playoffs last year, as did the Heat. A 6-1 start with the second-best differential in the league is an outstanding way to begin the season… I just wish it had been against stronger opposition so I could buy in more.

I am quite positively inclined to the Cavs’ guard situation; Mo Williams looks more consistent, and Delly is showing flashes of superstar, especially in the passing department. Nothing would make me happier in a basketball sense than if the Cavs developed a Spurs-like approach to minutes allocation, with the bench players — in particular Delly and TT — essentially acting as backup All-Stars. The question mark is how Kyrie will fit in when he returns; both Mo and Delly are PGs.


The Top 8 is produced via Simple Models of Player Performance + Box Score data from ESPN.com