[For Transparent “New World Coming” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
New World ComingJosh and Raquel welcome Colton to their home; Maura takes Ali to UCLA; Sarah has a run-in with Len and Barb.

The episode “New World Coming” isn’t just about what happens when a transgender character changes their clothes and hairstyle while the world watches. It’s about the world inside too. Maura sheds her old “Morty” self and still has to deal with being recognized as Morty and dealing with the consequences of living with Morty’s past as she creates a new future for herself. So, on one level it’s an episode about new beginnings but with every fresh start there’s also an accompaniment ending. That brings us to Sarah, of course as she starts over solo once again and struggles with her own brand of backlash.

The episode opens as Maura literally wakes up in a new world after her night out at the club. She slept over at her friend, Davina’s house. Their gorgeous friend Shea joins them in the kitchen talking about her pussy got ravaged she got the night before – it’s a “wounded soldier,” she says. Maura perks up that Shea, who also used to be a man has a “real pussy” so she asks about it. Shea tells her about how she’s fully transitioned and has a “pussy pussy” now that cost her 15K, an intriguing thought to Maura.

Next we see Sarah-in-sunglasses drop off the kids at school where she wonders about gossip mongers including Barb, (Tig Notaro) one of Tammy’s other ex wives, who’s also a school parent. Sarah attempts to bond with her but Barb gives her the brutal brush off with the added dagger, “I’m sorry if my boundary is your trigger,” so she’s not the least bit empathetic. In the next scene Josh takes Colton to his former high school and they bond like bros. They banter about sexy-in-school hijinx, knowing girls biblically, and all that other totally normal father/son school registration day stuff. While they register Colton in the school office Josh reminisces about some real characters from the former administration, including a rigid disciplinarian, Mr. Irons who marched the halls like the Iron Giant, slamming a paddle into his palm. Turns out all they need is Colton’s legal guardian signatures on his paperwork and he’s good to go.

At a parallel school scenario, Maura takes Ali to UCLA where she taught political science when she was Morty. Here they encounter Leslie Mackinaw, a feminist poet and critic who’s now head of the UCLA Gender Studies Department. Leslie remembers Maura as Morty from when they were both students at Berkeley – but about as fondly as Josh remembers Mr. irons. At Berkeley Morty was part of an editorial board for the school’s political paper. The board blocked all women from becoming board members, Leslie included. She and her “sisters” applied ten years in a row and faced rejection every year until they began burning effigies of the bastard board members. In all those years the only woman the board ever admitted had to endure constantly ogled ginormous breasts. All this information about when she was Morty now in hand, Maura apologizes to Leslie but it’s clearly moot at this point. Meanwhile, across the table, Ali grows smitten with Leslie, who’s one of those charismatic older peeps; magnetic to younger folk – Bill Clinton with a vagina.

Then Sarah trespasses on her former home with Len even though it’s not her day. She lets herself into the house claiming she just needs to get her yoga mat. Barb happens to be in the backyard with Len watching their kids play together. This, along with some snarky tone action, alienates Sarah so she heads into the house “to grab her yoga mat” but in the process spies Melanie’s bag of stuff in Len’s bedroom. Melanie is Len’s new girlfriend and apparently a big fan of eyeshadow. Sarah finds a ginormous palette of shadows in every imaginable color among Melanie’s stuff. After gazing at it she slams the palette shut a bit too abruptly. This mistake that creates a giant mess on the floor and also ruins the palette. To cover her tracks Sarah covers the huge smudge stain on the rug with Melanie’s bag and puts the palette in her own bag before skedaddling out of the house.

Meanwhile Maura visits her transgender support group. One of the other trans women talks about how many times when men are disrespectful or thoughtless to trans women it’s because they’re in the closet, transphobic, or homophobic. Maura reinforces this idea sharing about when she was Morty and hurt Leslie as well as all the other female applicants to the editorial board of the paper. It’s a revelation for her that hiding the Maura part of herself contributed to her unknowingly hurting those who represented that hidden part – women like Leslie. This is a running theme in Transparent and, really, life itself. When a person is hurtful it’s usually because they’re hurting and often also completely oblivious to both sides of the whole painful scenario.

After Maura’s poignant scene we see Josh and Rabbi Raquel in their kitchen where she makes it clear she wants to get engaged soon with their baby on the way and a temple full of people who see her blossoming belly and no ring on the finger. Right after this Josh discusses how to propose with the band and producers at the studio where his band Fussy Puss sings a song called New World Coming. At the end of their convo Josh lights up with just how he’s gonna do it, obviously excited, but doesn’t share the idea – it’s that good. Speaking of good, Ali is out with Syd again for a night of fun and bowling. She reads some of Leslie Mackinaw’s poetry only to find out she’s damn good. The bowling lesbians already know Leslie’s work and Ali reads some particularly titillating passages as surrounding women nibble, lick, and fondle each other at every turn of the alley. But then it’s Sarah who gets off in the next scene. She’s picturing Mr. Irons from high school that we learned about earlier. In Sarah’s imagination he’s smacking her naughty bum and she’s excited to the point of ecstatic bliss. After she orgasms Sarah looks glum, slumped down in a hard-back chair alone in her drab and dark apartment. It seems that fantasy came and went just as quickly as she did.

Josh comes home from work that night to find a nervous Raquel in a pretty dress on her knees proposing marriage. He gets mad. She doesn’t trust him. He had this. Right away Raquel realizes her mistake. Josh’s greatest fear is that he’ll be considered unreliable yet here she is proving she thinks just that of him. She tries to apologize but the breech is a canyon between them. Something just broke. It’s unclear if they’ll come back together. On the other hand, in the final scene Ali and Syd are headed down the opposite road; naked and whispering in bed all smoochy and wrapped around each other in the pale lamplight.

“New World Coming” breaks into refreshing territory with each Pfefferman changing direction into a new place that feels surprising and yet also inevitable. Maura starts to see her struggles aren’t just with a judgmental outside world but also within herself. They say it’s an inside job for a reason, after all. Speaking of which, Sarah’s unconscious seems to be telling her she needs to reign it in a bit and perhaps consider a more disciplined approach to life now that she’s solo. Meanwhile there’s trouble in partnership paradise as we see a fissure develop between Josh and his beloved Raquel. Of course she doesn’t trust him, look what he did in just the very last episode, breaking their pact to wait before telling anyone about the baby. Yet when Josh says, “You don’t trust me,” our hearts break along with his. He was so full of hope and who doesn’t adore amazing Raquel? But without trust they’re doomed. Heartbreaking for sweet always-the-little-boy Joshy. And then there’s Ai. We saw this coming with the hairdo, of course. Not too many straight women sport the Foghorn Leghorn look by choice, after all. But with her just-reunited best friend, Syd? It’s either a lifelong love in the making or tragedy right around the bend for this particular New World Coming – no middle ground here.

–Katherine Recap

Magic Without Borders by Stjepan Sučić

Posted by Brian David-Marshall | Games, Magic

I had the opportunity to meet Stjepan Sučić through international Magic competition where he has had multiple opportunities to represent the Croatian Magic community on the World stage. It is very common for players to from neighboring nations to pool their resources for those tournaments. Not only testing together but also sharing a roof so it did not seem at all odd to me that Stjepan and his teammates were sharing a house with the Serbian team. Stjepan explained that what seemed commonplace to me was alarming to his friends and family back home. He agreed to write a little piece for us about how playing Magic has changed his view of the world.

Once again, Christmas is upon us, that time of the year when you celebrate and enjoy yourself in the company of your loved ones. One of the things we associate Christmas with most often is obviously the Christmas tree. Really, there is no Christmas without that specific scent in the house. As much as we love to have them around, their lifespan is quite short once they are cut down and we have to throw them away after a couple of weeks. There is a tradition in the Christian world to throw away the trees on the 7th of January, a day after Epiphany, which is not very odd, since that day is the day that more or less sums up the whole Christmas story — Three Wise Men did their thing and that’s it, the hype is over.

However, in my country, Croatia, things are a bit different. We throw away our trees on the 6th of January. Why? Well, if you don’t throw them away on the 6th, your neighbors might think you are Serbian. You see, Serbians are, unlike us, mostly Orthodox Catholics, so they celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January, which means that keeping your tree to that day might be a sign that you have some Serbian ancestry, or even worse, that you sympathize with those evil creatures that live just behind our eastern border.

This example is but a single one, there are hundreds of similar oddities that are the legacy of the Yugoslav Wars. It has been twenty years since Croatian War of Independence ended, but it seems that the animosity between Serbians and Croatians will not die out with the generation that fought in the war. That is exactly what troubles me the most — the willingness of the youth to pick up hate and prejudice from the old, without trying to rationalize the situation and think with their own heads. This affinity for blind hate towards minorities, especially Serbs is completely unfounded and unreasonable, but the young are gullible and easily influenced.

However, relations between Serbia and Croatia certainly tend to improve over the years since the war ended, but there is always something to stir up the embers whenever it seems we are getting friendly again. A recent situation that made a lot of mess in these parts was the Syrian refugees trying to pass through our countries. Our governments weren’t really prepared for that, and since the Hungarians closed their borders, we had a lot of people coming and going through both Serbia and Croatia. At one point, Croatia couldn’t take all the refugees that were coming, and our government decided to close the borders with Serbia. Then, our new president decided to send our army to the Serbian border to ‘control’ the flow of the refugees. Both of those ideas were terrible and deteriorated the relationship between our countries a lot.

On the other hand, Serbian government had some of their own moments of brilliance, like a joint military drill with Russian forces just off the Croatian border, among others. Certainly, such governmental muscle-flexing is unnerving to most of the citizens of both Countries, while some of the more radical ones are already calling for a new war between our nations.

I am certainly no expert on politics or even on Serbo-Croatian relations, even though I lived in Croatia my whole life. However, I do feel I am an expert on one subject — Magic: the Gathering. If you haven’t heard of this card game, look it up, it is a twenty-two year old game that gets hotter and hotter as time passes by. At this moment there are over twenty million players playing the game in the world, so there has to be something to it. I have been playing the game for over thirteen years, with some moderate success and decent finishes on a professional level. I have met and befriended people from all over the world playing this game, and it enriched my life in many ways.

How does this relate to the hate between Serbia and Croatia? Well, it is a long story that begins in 2008. In Memphis Tennessee.

In 2008, I won the Croatian National Championship of Magic: the Gathering. I was 20 years old at that time and not well-versed in the whole ‘world’ thing. That was the first big tournament I ever won and it qualified me for the World Championship taking place in Memphis, Tennessee. I had never travelled out of my country before, and had met very few foreigners in general, so this trip I decided to take was a really big thing for me. I had to look for sponsors to finance my trip there, since the plane ticket was far too expensive for me and what my family could afford. Thankfully, there were some good people who decided that it is worth paying some of my expenses if I promoted my country there. I did just that, proudly brandishing our colors and waving the Croatian flag with pride and joy at the event. That drew some attention; a few Americans who had Croatian ancestry approached me to wish me good luck and to talk a bit about Croatia.

Team Croatia 2008

Team Croatia 2008

That was very fun, and I enjoyed meeting all these American people, but, at one point I was approached by four obviously European guys. They didn’t look like much, but as soon as they addressed me, my alarms went off. They spoke Serbian! It was a simple greeting and a question, but with no experience dealing with Serbs before that, I had no idea what could I expect. I replied very carefully, trying to be politically correct not to offend them in any way. I was too cautious with how I phrased my sentences and what I spoke about. They seemed to be very amused by my reserved attitude and decided to make a lot of lighthearted fun of myself, themselves and both of our nations until I relaxed enough to join in on the fun.

In years after, we ran into each other in various places and events accompanied with other guys from our countries and became great friends. With so many people in both of our Magic: The Gathering communities being and becoming friends, we started organizing events closer to our borders so we can have fun and play together. Novi Sad in Serbia and Osijek in Croatia hosted numerous Serbian-Croatian Magic events in the last seven years; some of them are even annual events, like a Halloween tournament in Osijek.

With tournaments in both Serbia and Croatia attracting players from both countries and with both of our communities consisting of almost exclusively nice, friendly people we more or less became a single community over the years. Trading, deckbuilding and metagaming goes over the border very often, but we also enjoy some non-magic related activities together, like sports, vacations or even relationships — which is still quite a taboo here. It is very common for parents to vigorously oppose relationships ‘over the border’, so it is often needed to keep such things secret. It is similar with just having friends from other country, but the opposition is less intense. Telling younger people that I have a lot of Serbian friends is very often met with disbelief, teasing and/or suspicion. But that is pretty mild compared to how older people react. Curses and hate are the usual response whenever Serbia or Serbs are mentioned, and those who broke the chains of prejudice are few and far in between. My own parents, both high school professors with very liberal standpoints were against me going to tournaments in Serbia at first, but when I persisted, they got used to me frequenting our eastern neighbors, but never completely relaxed. It is very hard to explain to people that the past should stay in the past and that we are a new generation who should build our mutual future off a clean slate without prejudice and hate.

This leads me to the latest conjoined effort Serbian and Croatian Magic community took part in: The World Magic Cup. The World Magic Cup is the pretty much like football/soccer World Cup where each country is represented with their respective four-player team battling to become the World Champions. Since both Croatians and Serbians are very proud people, we take great pleasure in cheering for our national teams in every and any sport. It is even greater pride and privilege to represent our nations in a big event like the World Magic Cup. This year’s World Magic Cup was held in Barcelona and I had the honor of being the team Captain. I took my role seriously and decided to prepare well for the tournament. The first thing I did when I found out who my teammates were was to call the captain of the Serbian national team and proposed to him that we work together. He accepted wholeheartedly, and when we presented our plan to both of our teams, they were positively thrilled. We rented an apartment for all eight of us near Camp Nou and started preparing online together as much as time permitted. When I told my father about our plan and arrangements his response was expected: “Are you sure about this? How well do you know those Serbian guys?” I explained that most of them are my long time friends, that I actually know them better than I know my own team, and even though he was somewhat relieved, I knew he is still far from convinced.

Obviously, that week in Barcelona was amazing, our mutual preparations placed the Serbian team in the Top 16, and while we weren’t lucky enough to post a decent finish, our Serbian friends took us out for a dinner to lift our spirits.

On our last day in Barcelona someone started a conversation about our political relations and how there is a lot of bad blood even now. Someone then said: “Imagine if our whole nations were like our Magic the Gathering communities. We wouldn’t even need the border!” Everyone laughed, but inside, I actually felt sad. Why weren’t we all like that? I feel like people never gave each other a chance. We are all bombarded by war stories about horrible atrocities that come with every war and it is hard not to create some stereotypes and misconceptions about Serbian people, but if we just gave our neighbors a chance, we would see we are all the same, no matter the nationality or religion. We all laugh at the same jokes, have similar problems and enjoy the same things. Together, we would be able to get both of our countries back on their feet. In past couple of years, our Magic communities certainly showed that when we work together, amazing things can be achieved!

[For Transparent “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump Josh holds a pool party for his new band Fussy Puss; the Pfefferman siblings are caught off guard when Maura and Shelly arrive at the party together; Ali reconnects with her old friend Syd; Sarah’s past catches up with her.

This episode circles around the power of couples along with the backlash when pairs break off into two solo singletons. Sometimes duos reunite, even if just temporarily, and create a new stronger pair. Sometimes not. It’s clear from the exchanges in “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump” that these relative magnetized and wet mop relations among the Pfeffermans and their loves are either about mutuality or lack thereof. Whether a couple are in loving or fighting mode the phrase, it takes two to tango isn’t just a cliché, it’s also some serious truth, baby.

The most interesting duos in the episode are more parallel than couple, though. For instance, Shelly and Sarah. Suddenly single, the two are mirror images in some ways, even if just in the terrified recesses of Sarah’s deepest fearful brain folds. It’s an age old story, a middle-aged woman afraid of becoming her mother. But because it’s part of such a fresh narrative, it somehow resonates like all new territory here. Another interesting parallel lies between Ali and Maura. Both seek their greatest expression of self and struggle with how far the landscape reaches before them. The possibilities seem endless and nether is sure where they belong but both seem determined to unravel some sort of authentic self – if there really is such a thing.

The episode opens on a depressed Sarah, her eyes eclipsed into shadow, unkempt middle-age lady hair, and the pouting posture of adolescence. She listens to Len’s recriminations and new rules from the divorce mediation advisor for splitting custody of the kids. Though she’s checked out and he’s still pissed, they agree to the terms and afterward Sarah looks for a new apartment to keep her side of the deal.

Next we see a trio of scenes that capture key moments in the other Pfefferman family members’ lives right then. Ali gazes at a planetarium galaxy of stars and learns that they are a map of the past and our multitudinous origins. It’s a beautiful, simple and true insight. Perfect. Raquel and Josh see the heartbeat of their baby on sonogram and snuggle in excitement. Meanwhile at Shelly’s pond-side condo, Maura digs through her storage truck parked outside to pick what she can wear to Josh’s imminent pool party. Shelly helps her with warmth and love. Outward appearances point to a happy couple. Bug what we’re really seeing is a happy Shelly and a grateful Maura, who simply feels indebted to Shelly.

Next Ali visits her buddy Syd (Carrie Brownstein), the one she pushed aside in season one when Syd declared amorous feeling for an uninterested Ali. It was platonic or nothing in Ali/Syd town back then but things have changed. Ali has an amusing new hairstyle and wants to be friends again. Syd’s happy to oblige as long as she’s allowed to mock the hairdo first. Then Josh picks up his son Colton from Rita and finds out his long lost son’s considering staying in LA for his upcoming senior year in high school. As a refresher on Colton – He visited for the summer after finding out Rita was his birth mother and Josh his birth father, a fact exposed at the end of season one when Josh found out for the first time too. Rita, who’d been his babysitter, never told Josh she’d had his baby and then gave it up for adoption. So, Colton is all new to the Pfefferman clan. He’s a sweet kid, Middle America to the bone, and clearly raised in a good home where Jesus is king and dinner was meatloaf and mashed potatoes most nights.

Then we see Maura and Shelly in the bathroom and it turns out “Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump” is code for a specific sexual encounter between them which Shelly asks for and Maura obliges. Shelly’s in bathtub bliss and Maura, though seemingly happy to bring Shelly to her glittercloud of passionate yelps, has zero desire for Shelly to return the favor. The next scene brings us to Josh’s pool party where the trio of siblings discuss their sense of Maura and Shelly maybe becoming a couple again. It’s just a feeling but one about which they can only think, “ew.” Sarah still looks like depressed wreckage – now clad in an enormous beach coverup. They decide to put out cake leftover from Sammy and Tammy’s wedding even though Josh protests because he’s a fancy producer and catered this bitch. Maura and Shelly then arrive at the party to immediately face their kids asking if they are now “a lesbian couple.” This irritates Maura, who presumes that Shelly told them about their Flicky Flicky encounter. Shelly didn’t but the line is already drawn in Maura’s mind.

The party is a smash thus far. Sexy peeps in bikinis abound. Booze flows free. Sarah and Shelly get their solo-single-now-and-proud drunk on. Ali’s a bit glum but still channeling 1933 Berlin – delivering us powerful historical Pfefferman family past imagery while she swims deep underwater in the pool. Then Josh’s newest discovery, the band Fussy Puss plays and they’re mind-blowing “money money baby baby” good. Their song stays with you long after the episode ends even though we don’t hear the whole thing. That’s because Tammy crashes the party and interrupts the wonder of Fussy Puss. She’s raging in classic heartbroken ex style – drunk in a tank top and crazed with rantings of being a warrior and that Sarah will be sorry, etc. She throws the cake from their wedding into the pool and puts a mad damper on what had been a rockin’ good time. Afterward Raquel and Josh talk about how much they wanted to protect Colton during the party; how he’s part of their lives now and they already love him. This draws them closer to each other.

In the wake of the Tammy tidal wave sad sack Sarah drives home her intoxicated mother. Parked outside the condo she watches Shelly traverse the pond’s stone steps with drunken trepidation, poised on the precipice of a belly flop at any minute. We see in Sarah’s face that this is her greatest fear for her own future – to be balanced on a precarious edge with nobody to catch her. Meanwhile Maura goes off to party with her trans friends at a club of gorgeous dancers and music that makes her heart swell and whole body sway. She’s home. Ali also heads out for fun with friends, showing up at Syd’s apartment to booze it up and hang with the homegirls. The two of them are each happy, at last. Ali has moved a little closer to her particular pairing (with Syd) like a magnet while Maura moving farther away from hers – to leave Shelly in wet mop territory.

The pairings and parallels in this episode on the surface appear to be about broken romances. But, as usual, Transparent breaks through that surface so we see deeper. This is all about parent-child parallels deep down. Josh and Colton are the most obvious example but also Sarah/Shelly and Ali/Maura tell this story of pairing and unpairing. The episode asks where we go when we break off from romantic love. Then it answers that we look to our parents and either flee in revulsion from what we find – Sarah, or embrace the parts that feel like a good fit and move forward as Ali does. Truth is the path back to love probably lies somewhere in the middle. It does seem like Josh’s warm welcome to Colton with an open heart along with his and Raquel’s shared willingness to include Colton in their family increases the connection between them. We could all learn a bit about love from this generous act and attitude. It’s a little reminder that love isn’t always just about Flicky-Flicky Thump-Thump.

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Kina Hora” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Kina Hora Transparent returns with Sarah and Tammy’s big white wedding; Maura and Ali are visited by ghosts from the past; Josh and Rabbi Raquel can’t hide their big news.

If you are unfamiliar with season one of Transparent you must stop reading this right now, log onto amazon.com and watch it. Do not pass Go and do not collect $200. It’s truly great TV and not just for breaking new ground on gender identity and related issues. Transparent is one of those rarities that feels like art; an amalgam of inventive writing, vivid characterizations, and it’s also bust-a-gut funny. The world established in season one unwraps an incredibly specific family package with unique challenges but also feels like every family that ever existed because it’s such an exquisite gift – their conversations and experiences are really happening somewhere out there right now. It’s every day in Los Angeles on this show, with no angels or devils here – just real people we already know and love.

Quick refresher on who’s who:

Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman (born Morton Pfefferman), who in season one finally opens up to her family about always identifying as a woman.
Amy Landecker as Sarah Pfefferman, the oldest child of Maura, married with two children. In season one she leaves her husband for Tammy (Melora Hardin), a woman she fell in love with in college.
Jay Duplass as Joshua “Josh” Pfefferman, Maura’s middle child. A successful music producer who has troubled relationships with women throughout season one until meeting true love, Rabbi Raquel.
Gaby Hoffmann as Alexandra “Ali” Pfefferman, the youngest of Maura’s kids and perpetually unemployed. She spends season one relishing her immaturity and living a life of full-blown hedonism.
Judith Light as Shelly Pfefferman, Maura’s ex-wife and the mother of Sarah, Josh, and Ali. She’s been aware of Maura’s feelings as a woman inside a man’s body for years.

Season two opens with “Kina Hora” AKA the evil eye at a Pfefferman family photo session for Sarah and Tammy’s wedding. Their clueless photographer drops an anti semitic comment and then refers to Maura as “sir”. It’s a concise scene but still reveals the whole world of season two with a mere snowglobe shake of a moment in the family… and it even looks like a snowglobe with all those white-wearing family members fluttering about in various stages of wedding angst. Dramatic and amusing dynamics cross the screen in a magically choreographed dance. Each interaction plays out a microcosm of the season’s macro themes: Jewish identity, family history and evolution, gender identity, and unity. It’s a fun tableau and classic brilliant Soloway*, delving into deep issues even as we laugh our asses off at how real it feels.

Right after the awkward Pfefferman family photo Josh is clearly over the moon because his lady love, Rabbi Raquel, just found out she’s pregnant. Of course, being Josh, he blows the joy into bits when he makes the critical error of telling Ali. It’s not a mistake because Ali’s so terrible or anything. In fact she’s changed quite a bit since season one when she was a veritable wreck. Now Ali’s the fount of Pfefferman communication and a well of empathic comfort to all. This plays out to the hilt at the wedding and reception. In fact, she even connects us, the audience, with their family’s past, channeling all the way back to 1933 Berlin Pfefferman family history. Ali doesn’t understand or even see this growth in herself. We know this when she tells Josh she’s, “just a guest at the wedding” even though it’s evident she’s much more; telling everyone where to sit, greeting guests, and keeping the kids at bay. Of course, Ali also passes along the news of Rabbi Raquel’s pregnancy too. She tells Sarah, the saddest bride in the West, who’s got so much black eye makeup it appears she’s gone goth. But this works thematically because of Sarah’s swirling sack of misery inside. Another mistake Ali made in all of her connective and empathic ways was inviting Maura’s estranged sister, Bri to the wedding. She’s “a filing cabinet with a hairdo” who’s on record as anti-gay, though currently attending a lesbian wedding, with a judgy, puckered face and nothing nice to say.

Maura wears Ray Bans framed in delicate lavender and stands strong under Bri’s watchful gaze. There’s a perfect moment when she poses for Bri to “get a good look at her” and Maura holds herself with unbridled dignity. It’s a proud moment and we’re happy for Maura, even if Bri can’t be. Unfortunately, this wedding isn’t about happy, though. Although gorgeous on the surface and teaming with celebrity cameos, few attendees are happy. The bride Sarah least of all. Her point of view on the ceremony feels like those moments when you first realize you’re getting sick. Woozy, Unreal. Nothing makes sense. The world is spinning. Then a hilarious moment when Sarah sees a banner plane fly above, “We buy ugly houses.com,” and it turns into a horror show in her mind, screaming, flailing, death, etc. But that was all in her head and then it’s reception time. At that point a dazed Sarah passes along the news of Rabbi Raquel’s pregnancy to Shelly who runs with it and makes an announcement during the biggest part of the celebration – the chair lifting dance of joy. This, of course, arouses the curious ire of Raquel who thought they were keeping the baby a secret until the pregnancy had a bit more time behind it, common practice for the newly pregnant. She and Josh had agreed on this.

Then poor sad bride Sarah wakes out of her daze and weeps in the bathroom out back. She didn’t want to marry Tammy. She hates Tammy. Etcetera. Ali comforts her and the always-flustered Josh brings Rabbi Raquel in to help. Turns out Raquel provides true answers and assistance. When Sarah bemoans that she doesn’t want to be married Raquel tells her she hasn’t turned in the marriage license paperwork yet so they’re not yet officially stamped married. The wedding itself, Raquel explains, is just a ritual, a pageant, expensive theater and nothing more. Sarah is saved. Still sad… but saved. Tammy embraces her on the dance floor and it’s clear on Sarah’s face that she’s just not that into this whole deal.

Before Bri leaves the reception Maura tells her sister she wants to go visit their Mom and receives a tirade of venom from Bri about sparing their mother the trouble of facing her son, now daughter. Maura finds comfort in Shelly’s arms about it later as Josh tries to apologize to Rabbi Raquel, Sarah breaks the news to Tammy, and Ali channels the ghost of her transgender ancestor from Berlin 1933. They’re all in hotel rooms right next to each other but at the same time also seem to exist in worlds separated by a million miles. All the characters are in white and the rooms are white washed too. The sole source of color in the entire final panning shot of “Kina Hora” is at the very end when we see the transgender Pfefferman ancestor in a deck chair behind Ali, decked out in a gorgeous red dress.

Thus season two is off to the races with the Pfeffermans thrown back into conflict. They struggle with the world around them and each other but more than any other entity these characters battle internally. When it all comes down to it there aren’t truly injurious external enemies in Pfefferman lives. Sure, at times it seems they’re surrounded by ignorant a-holes but such small minds are easily ignored. The real dangers lie deep inside the Pfefferman psyche because these deeply embedded demons must be faced. But we can be certain this family will sure as hell try to avoid them at every narrative turn, making them all the more a glorious blend of fun and poignance to watch.

–Katherine Recap

* Jill Soloway, the brilliant creator, writer, exec producer, and director of Transparent.

In the latest episode of Kitchen Table Gaming we made four recipes to celebrate the release of my new deckbuilding game Emergents: Genesis. Each of the recipes reflected a different class of superpower in that universe. We are presenting those recipes here each day for easy reference. If you want to learn more about the game you can do so here. You can order the game online or urge your local game store to place an order with ACD Distribution.

In the world of Emergents: Genesis the acolytes are the most mysterious class of all the powered beings. Theirs is a mastery of the mental and martial arts. Mentored by The Abyss, Bookworm is one of his most promising young students. There is no knowledge that he cannot absorb from the written word and can often be found in the catacombs beneath The Phaeton Project poring over arcane texts.

Should the Bookworm want to learn anything about baking, I could recommend no better text to him than any cookbook by Christina Tosi of Momofuku and Milk Bar fame. Her corn cookies are one of the most luscious treats I have ever tasted. I took the basics of her recipe, which includes finding dehydrated corn powder that I actually just buy at Milk Bar, and added a burst of orange zest and the pop of tart cherries. It makes them into something new and exciting while remaining comfortable and familiar.


2 sticks unsweetened butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn flour
2/3 cup dehydrated corn powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 large orange zested
1 cup dried tart cherries

Time to make the cookies:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment whip together softened butter and sugar for 2 to 3
minutes. Add in the egg and let the mixer go for 7 or 8 minutes, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula as you go. Add in all the dry ingredients and zest and mix until combined. Add in cherries and mix briefly to distribute throughout batter.

Using a 1/3 cup ice cream scoop portion out 12 cookies onto cookie sheets lined with parchment or Silpat baking mat. The cookies will spread out considerably while baking so you can only fit 6 per sheet. Freeze the cookie dough for 15 minutes before baking. Bake for 16 to 17 minutes until cookies start to turn golden brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.


I am making a batch of these when I get back from Barcelona that uses lemon zest and dried blueberries, instead of orange and cherry, for Mike James with whom I had a World Series wager, to honor his KC Royals. I have also made them with an assortment of citrus zests and a mix of berries for a true sunburst flavor.

In the latest episode of Kitchen Table Gaming we made four recipes to celebrate the release of my new deckbuilding game Emergents: Genesis. Each of the recipes reflected a different class of superpower in that universe. We are presenting those recipes here each day for easy reference. If you want to learn more about the game you can do so here. You can order the game online or urge your local game store to place an order with ACD Distribution.

Professor Helios is the most famous Firesculptor in the Emergents universe but the class of powers he possesses can extend to manipulation of almost anything. There are emergents who can sculpt steel, ice, or — in my case — pasta.


This is a recipe that I have recreated from idealized childhood memories of my grandmother’s macaroni pie. It was a dish she would make with leftover pasta, hamhocks from the butcher, and whatever vegetables she had laying around. It remains my favorite food of all time and I have spent a lot of time and energy trying to recreate it over the years. Perhaps the biggest obstacle was never having any leftover pasta.


1/3 pound pancetta sliced
1 sweet onion sliced thin
1 pound mushrooms sliced thin
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 1/2 pound of linguine cooked just short of al dente
32 oz container of ricotta cheese
6 whole eggs
2 lemons zested
1 3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Time to Sculpt the Pasta:

Cook the pasta, drain, and set aside.

Crisp the pancetta in a pan and set aside. In same pan cook the onions with some salt and pepper until they are soft and set aside with pancetta. Finally, cook the mushrooms in some olive oil in the same pan. Toss all three ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

Mix the ricotta cheese with six beaten eggs, 1 1/2 cups of Parmesan cheese, black pepper to taste, lemon zest and thyme. Mix in the onion, pancetta, and mushroom mixture and pasta.

Pour the whole mix into a oiled springform pan with tube insert. Mix remaining Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, 2 tbs olive oil, thyme, and black pepper and sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake covered with foil in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes until the breadcrumb topping turns brown and crispy.


Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from springform pan. Cut into wedges and serve with Non-Stop Tomato Sauce. Can be served warm or cold.

In the latest episode of Kitchen Table Gaming we made four recipes to celebrate the release of my new deckbuilding game Emergents: Genesis. Each of the recipes reflected a different class of superpower in that universe. We are presenting those recipes here each day for easy reference. If you want to learn more about the game you can do so here. You can order the game online or urge your local game store to place an order with ACD Distribution.

Look…I know I use Grade B maple syrup and lemon zest somewhat compulsively when I cook but trust me when I tell you they are essential to making this quick tomato sauce recipe that is almost too good to be true. I grew up with my grandmother’s sauce that would cook all day long, burbling away on a back burner in a vessel that was half silo/half cookware. I loved it but I also love being able to whip up a quick sauce for pasta and this can be made in under 30 minutes — depending on how fast you are with a knife.

When I was trying to settle on the recipes for this latest episode of Kitchen Table Gaming I knew I wanted something that reflected the speed and time manipulation of the Non-Stops. In the world of Emergents: Genesis they are led by Billy Stopless, an irrepressible speedster who would certainly appreciate the double takes that saying you put maple syrup in your tomato sauce earns you.



1 large onion finely chopped
Several cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of red pepper flake
Salt and black pepper
Olive oil
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon Grade B maple syrup
Fresh basil leaves, torn

Time to make the sauce:

Finely chop one whole onion. I generally prefer a sweet Vidalia onion but you can use red onion (pictured above) or a Spanish onion — I have even made it with the white part of scallions in a pinch. Finally chop the peeled cloves and grate the zest of one lemon with a micro planer, careful to avoid zesting too deep and hitting the white pith. Pile that all in the center of a pan and add generous pinch of Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, and the crushed red pepper. Drizzle two tablespoons of good olive oil over the mound and turn on the heat to medium high.

Let the onions and garlic soften and turn translucent — maybe even a little caramelized — before hitting the pan with the fresh squeezed lemon juice. Let that cook down a little and then put the can of tomatoes in. You can cut the tomatoes beforehand — I sometimes just take kitchen scissors and go to work on them inside the can — or you can just mash them up with your spoon or a potato masher. Add a the grade B maple syrup to counterbalance the acid of tomatoes and lemon juice. Let that cook for about 15 minutes. Tear in fresh basil at the end.

In the last episode I made a tomato confit with heirloom tomatoes. I have made this sauce using an equivalent amount of peeled and chopped heirlooms and it is one of my all-time favorite things but it does not possess the pantry-readiness of this version. I always have onions and garlic on hand and I try to have several cans of San Marzanos in the queue at all times.

This is the perfect accompaniment to my grandmother’s macaroni pie but I love it on linguine (or any pasta really).

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

FX Summary:
She Gets Revenge Alex enlists John’s help in containing an outbreak; Donovan learns The Countess’ true intentions.

This has been a particularly fun and thrilling season for American Horror Story and “She Gets Revenge” is a glorious example of why. Funny and smart, thrilling and fresh, this is as good as it gets for the franchise. Wait… do you see a shark jumping over the Hotel Cortez? Well, we certainly hope not because we’re having far too much fun on this ride. Even if you didn’t love Gaga before she became The Countess (But, c’mon we know you did – Her pain is real, Bro) this turn of her career for certain has you loving her now. She’s pure perfection in this role, a master of self parody and deadpan delivery. It’s possible she’s dead for real at the end of this episode but we hope not. We love her villainy so.

We begin the episode with Elizabeth Taylor pining away over the beautiful love that led a couple to double suicide in the Cortez. Liz weeps for how they loved each other to their mutual end. In fact, Ms. Taylor misses Tristan so much she wants to end it all herself. Then Iris reminds Liz that if you die in the Cortez you’re stuck there forever. Besides, doesn’t Liz have unfinished business? Liz says yes, her son whom she hasn’t seen in thirty one years. Iris says speaking of sons, hers (Donovan) doesn’t love her and that’s all she ever really cared about. Sigh. So, the droopy doomed duo make a plan to take care of their respective unfinished business and then off each other just like that suicidal couple. This all makes for a tidy show opener, except for the bloody mess from the couple blowing out their brains.

Next Liz bribes Ms. Evers to call her son, Douglas, and arrange for his visit the Cortez. Liz pays off the whiter-whites-obsessed Evers with the modern technology of Oxyclean detergent and the latest washer/dryer. The subsequent thrill Ms. Evers get from these gifts is more believable than any of the orgasms we’ve seen thus far in American Horror Story – Hotel. She’s free at last from wringing out sheets by hand day and night.

Then Liz Taylor finally sees her son when Douglas comes to the Cortez and sits down at her bar. Doug’s a khaki-clad, ordinary, and super nice guy. They chat amiably and he even compliments Liz on her glitzy dress. Douglas dreams of a day when he can leave his traveling salesman life, move to Boulder, and create a kayak company. Liz encourages him to follow this dream and when they see each other again later that day, his son says Liz inspired him and he’s going for it. But more importantly, Doug kindly declares that he recognizes Liz as his father. Douglas wants to build a connection with his father, Elizabeth Taylor. Liz is impressed and Doug explains that he’s cool with it because he really learned something when Pedro died on The Real World. It shows, Bro.

Meanwhile John Lowe visits with Alex to confront her about all the Holden-related lies. Alex says she did what she had to do to be with her child. John reminds her they have another child too. Alex says she hasn’t forgotten about Scarlet but they both admit to being the world’s worst parents and anyway maybe Scarlet’s better off without them. Then Alex confides how The Countess is going to kill her and Holden if she doesn’t fix the child vampire mob she created when she saved Max from the deadly measles. They’re on a rampage and drawing media attention to The Countess virus. So, John and Alex go to the child vampire home base where they’re quickly surrounded by voracious child vampires. But one of them, Kimmy, dies from the measles amalgam Max passed along when he gave them the virus. Alex can’t save Kimmy. She dies.

This loss helps Alex and John convince the kids to come with them back to the Cortez where the couple immediately lock them away with Will Drake’s body and hungry Ramona. Nighty night, kiddos. John and Alex get turned on by this small victory and go to bed where they discuss their imminent divorce in between banging. Alex admits she’s interested in “this new John” before leaving to go take care of Holden. Sally calls out to John in the shadows of his hotel room after Alex leaves. She’s all envious reprimands about how he treats her like a whore and lied when he said he loved her. Sally tells him Alex isn’t the answer because she’s not gonna like that he’s a serial killer. They pseudo bang and argue back and forth until he finally leaves and Sally comes after him with a knife. He gets away so that he and Alex can collect Holden, which makes John happypants McGee. Alex and John leave with Holden, two vampires and a serial killer headed home to join innocent little Scarlet. Sally’s not pleased to see the trio walk out hand-in-hand and shrieks that she’ll kill John Lowe. We’re looking forward to that showdown because her maggot looking drill-bit-dick friend hasn’t really been around lately and we’d like to get a good look at that action. Given Lowe’s killing talents, Sally’s going to need that extra help to murder him.

Meanwhile Iris has made a tribute video of herself holding a cat framed in pumping pink hearts with a country music soundtrack. Proud Iris explains to Liz that she needed to leave behind “a beacon of hope for her three followers on Instagram,” but then Liz says she can’t go through with the suicide pact after all. Ms. Taylor’s son wants her in his life. So, she’s bailing on their death deal. But then Liz Taylor gets on a pep talk roll and says instead of dying they’re gonna live and inherit the earth. “We women of a certain age are entitled to a second chance,” Liz inspires Iris to join her in a glorious blazing final act between friends. They should take over the hotel and make it wonderful, together… Iris lights up at the thought.

Donovan killed Valentino early in the episode, pointing out that he has better cheekbones anyway, “cheekbones for days,” actually. There are many witty lines in this scene and it’s clear the American Horror Story – Hotel writers mock how The Countess picks the same man over and over just to drain them of love, kill them, and move on to the next carbon copy. When Donovan tells the Countess the devastating news of how he brutalized her beloved she runs out to Valentino’s motel to weep over her allegedly one true love’s final demise. Meanwhile, in her suite at the Hotel Cortez, Donovan dances hilariously to Drake singing Hotline Bling and smokes while waiting for her to return. When she’s back The Countess is surprised to see he didn’t run and pissy that he killed her maker, her lover, her everything. Donovan just doesn’t measure up as far as The Countess is concerned. But he does know exactly how to deal with a narcissistic psychopath. Donovan says go ahead and kill me because “dying is the only way you’ll let me love you. I don’t know how else to do it.” After all, one thing narcissists love is when you make them God then sacrifice yourself upon their alter. The Countess is in bliss. She thinks Donovan’s super duper romantic and gets all touched in the tiny hole where her heart used to be. But right when she’s kvelling her way to kissing him Thank you, Liz Taylor and Iris blast in, packing iron and blazing bullets at them. After all, what have Liz and Iris got to lose? They were committing suicide only a few minutes ago.

This season of American Horror Story just keeps getting better with just the right mix of campy glamour and fresh irony to deliver an enthralling story week after week. It’s got layers, baby! We’re loving it and as the other shows all wind down their Fall seasons it’s a real treat to have this one continue cooking along to keep us wanting more.

–Katherine Recap

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

FX Summary:
PalindromePeggy and Ed make a run for it.

The finale of Fargo, entitled “Palindrome,” refers to a word or phrase that reads the same way backward as forward, suggesting perhaps that the season could be viewed as such. We open on the still living Betsy, home in her own bed now as Noreen, the girl from the the butcher shop who reads Camus, watches over her. Noreen tells Betsy how Camus says knowing we’re going to die makes life absurd. But Betsy quickly dismisses this whole notion of life’s absurdity. She says that each of us are in this life with a job to do and life is simply about doing that job within the time frame we’re given. There’s a parallel here to the first episode because Betsy also notes that Camus likely didn’t have a six year old to consider. Whereas when we’re introduced to her character she dismisses that same responsibility saying her six year old “isn’t Pol Pot” when Lou asks if she’ll be OK putting Molly to bed by herself. Of course, both things are true. A child is the ultimate responsibility and, at the same time, when we take childcare one event at a time (putting Molly to bed) it is rather simple in itself. This is truly the lesson we’re granted through Betsy’s character. A mother on her deathbed learns to treasure each moment with her child as it could be the last one they share.

Then we see Peggy and Ed as they flee the Motor Motel while Hanzee shoots at them and Lou follows right behind all three. Hanzee shoots Ed. An event directly parallel to when Rye attacks Ed in Fargo: Episode One. Just like when Rye lunges at him and he’s forced to kill a Gerhardt to protect himself, this attack changes everything for Ed. His whole life turns on it. Because Ed was shot, he’s hobbled and leans on Peggy as they flee. So, when they soon find a gas station grocer, they lock themselves inside its meat locker to rest a bit, not realizing they can’t get out. Once inside and sitting down Ed tells Peggy he doesn’t think they would’ve lasted as a couple even if they escaped this mess. All he ever wanted was get back to their simple life with the butcher shop and make a family but Peggy always wanted another life. He tells her this and then dies before they’re rescued. This parallels the beginning of the season when Ed and Peggy face off over the money he wants to invest in the butcher shop while she wants to “actualize” herself and expand her horizons. They begin and end with the same opposite goals. Not exactly a match made in heaven, though it does seem that Ed is headed there now. While Peggy’s on her way to prison, certainly an adequate Fargo placeholder for hell.

Next Lou saves Peggy from the meat locker and puts her in the back of his squad car headed back to Minnesota. As he’s leaving the lame Fargo detective confesses to him that he doesn’t even know how to write this thing up for his police report and Lou tells him to just, “Start at the start and work your way to the end,” solid storytelling advice from a solid man of the law. This parallels Lou’s encounter in the first episode with the trucker who discovered the Waffle Hut crime scene. That guy didn’t know what to do either. But in the end it didn’t really matter because Lou’s on the case.

Next Mike and his Kitchen Brother bro drive up to the Gerhardt estate where they find it unlocked, empty, and feeling like home. They encounter the Gerhardt housekeeper, Wilma, preparing dinner in the kitchen, unaware, it seems, that all the Gerhardts are dead. Mike tells her no more schnitzel or strudel. It’s all American food on the menu now. Then the Gerhardts out-of-town friend drives up and starts helping himself to their good silver, muttering, “Everyone’s dead,” until Mike enters. He tells the thief about sovereignty and declares himself king, as of today. Mike says a new sovereign performs one act of kindness and one cruelty. Unfortunately for him, Mike already gave Wilma a new car and a pile of money. Thus, all he has left for today is cruelty. This reference to royalty parallels the first scene of Fargo: Episode One when Dodd talks to Rye about the Gerhardts as the royal family and how he needs to do his duty to the family. But Rye considers this an insult. Why can’t he be more that the role his Gerhardt family has given him? Meanwhile in this scene Hanzee looks on, a much more dutiful and capable family minion – but treated with disdain simply because he’s not family. Hanzee ends up feeling the same way about the Gerhardt family in the end as Rye did in the first episode. Even a life of crime can illustrate the circle of life.

Mike then goes to the home center to meet with head boss of the Kansas City organization, Saul. This is a perfect parallel to the beginning of the season when he gets the position as enforcer for the Gerhardt project. It was Saul who handed that job to him then. Turns out Mike’s moving into an office job now, though. “Buy a nice suit,” Saul tells him. Cut your hair and let the 70s go. Your work’s no longer about busting heads, it’s all about the mighty dollar now, Mike. You’re a bean counter accountant, Milligan – tiny office, blue typewriter, and all. This same blue typewriter appears in the first episode as well, when Rye gets the job of “talking to the judge” he stands right over it. If we draw direct conclusions from these parallels it appears that Mike may not long for this world, seeing as how Rye ended up dead soon after his blue typewriter encounter and given what we know about Hanzee’s vengeance capabilities.

Speaking of Hanzee, the next time we see him he’s on the road to a new identity – the proud owner of a freshly printed social security card. Thanks to his new name Hanzee’s now Lebanese and about to get plastic surgery for a new face as well. Hanzee says he’ll get revenge on Kansas City and kill them all “head-in-a-bag” dead. One thing’s for certain, he got away with all of his Hanzee crimes unscathed by law enforcement. Mike Milligan may not be prepared for what’s coming next down his bean-counter-office-job pipeline.

Lastly we see Lou and Hank home safe at last with Betsy looking lots better beside Lou on the couch. Hank asks if Lou’s going to put the UFO in his police report and they agree it’s probably best to leave it out. The UFO made parallel appearances at the beginning and end of Fargo: Season Two, the first time its mesmerizing light helped take out Rye Gerhardt and the second time that same light aided in the death of Bear Gerhardt. So, one could conclude that perhaps aliens aren’t big Gerhardt fans. Speaking of aliens, Betsy tells Hank how she saw his office (filled with alien-seeming symbols) when she fed his cats. Hank explains. He tells her how his war and work experiences with senseless violence taught him that conflict is really about miscommunication. What we need to fix all this horrible fighting among people is a common language, Hank says. So, all those etchings were his attempt to create a universal language of simple symbols – like we can all agree that a heart means love, for example. This brings to mind our introduction to Hank in Fargo: Episode One when he knows the intimate details of all the Waffle Hut local victims. This is a man who cares about people.

Then Betsy and Lou go to bed and wish each other good night, their love for each other illuminated by the moon shining through their bedroom window. This scene is perfectly parallel to their last scene in the first episode. Lou adds at the end of their good night tidings, “and all the ships at sea,” because the other characters on the show seem afloat on the wild waters of the unknown while Lou and Betsy are tucked in safe at port – home sweet home. But Lou wishes those others well in their sea adventures. He certainly fights to try and get them justice in every move he makes.

Thus we conclude the finale of season two with the same feeling we had at the end of the first season, longing. So, we must forge ahead and keep trucking along with our lives until graced with Fargo: Season Three. Greenlit last month, it’s certain to grip us wholly for yet another glorious trek into the extraordinary world of Fargo thanks to the vision and mastery of its creator Noah Hawley. Thank you for an exciting ride this season, Mr. Hawley and for the tidbit of info you dropped in a recent interview saying that season three will take place in the present day or more specifically, “It’s more contemporary … set a couple years after Season 1.” We’ll take any information we can get and chew on it until there’s nothing left, especially now that we all know Jon Snow’s alive. What else is there to think about?

–Katherine Recap

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

FX Summary:
She Wants Revenge The Countess is reunited with her one true love; Donovan and Ramona take another stab at revenge.

American Horror Story shifts back to the Hotel Cortez and The Countess. She begins the episode poised at the entrance to the wing where Valentino was trapped all those years and says it’s time to construct something new and durable – steel and iron. The Countess starts this process by marrying Will Drake so she can finance the project with his money. Drake wants a flamboyant wedding while she wants simple and intimate – so small wedding it is. But her formerly loyal minion, Elizabeth Taylor, won’t help at all – still bitter that The Countess killed the love of her life. She says, “Buy your own damn flowers!” Then The countess drives to a motel for a rendezvous with Valentino. But before anything happens between them the scene shifts back to her at the Hotel Cortez with Donovan again now, screwing in only strategically placed sequin stars. She promises to love only Donovan… but mentions she’s getting married Wednesday. He gets a cranky look until she adds that she’ll be a rich widow on Thursday. Then they talk about making a fresh start and cleaning house, agreeing to make a list of all the people to “remove” ie; kill.

Then Iris stabs guests when Donovan walks in and flatters her that she’s certainly “come into her own” lately. Iris says she fears The Countess will figure out they’re in cahoots with Ramona to take her down and he says don’t worry. Donovan’s got The Countess right where he wants her, he claims. To this Iris knowingly asks if he’s hung up on The Countess again and Dononvan insists he’s in control.

Next it’s Wednesday and wedding time. Will Drake talks to his son about how The Countess is the one for him. But then Ms. Evers interrupts his delusions to warn Will that he shouldn’t marry her – it whall be his destruction. Turns out Ms. Evers feels like The Countess stole James March from her and never got over it. Meanwhile The Countess is pissed at March for what he did to her beloved Valentino – locking him away all those years. Now she’s turning the wing where he was kept into a vault-like chamber for her to hide within and watch the all hotel happenings with strategically placed video cameras. This is where she will live with her beloved Valentino by her side – that’s living the dream for The Countess.

Donovan brings a young stud to Ramona as a peace offering. He tells her they have to get rid of The Countess tonight. He’s already drugged her and she’s marrying Drake tomorrow so she’s certain to be distracted. They drain the young stud’s blood and talk about heartbreak and loneliness, despair… So, living in Los Angeles, basically. Ramona tells him how her last twenty years in LA passed like nothing happened. She was caring for her parents and not handling their deterioration particularly well. Turns out vampirism didn’t cure her father’s dementia. But Ramona is over all that now and and focused on how The Countess killed her lover. After telling him the story she and Donovan drink the young stud’s blood and toast to vengeance on the Countess.

Then we see Alex parked outside a house with a pizza delivery car out front. Inside she finds a pile of bloody corpses and that kid Max she “saved” with the virus along with all his vampire buddies. Alex tells them if they keep up their careless murderous ways they’re going to get caught. She suggests they all go to the Hotel Cortez where there are people like them who can help. But the kids are like hell no, that’s the last thing we need is for adults to tell us what to do. They have a point. It would really make the whole killing-their-parents thing moot.

Next Ramona and Donovan sneak up on The Countess while she’s sleeping. Ramona holds a big knife over her, all ready to get stabby, but it’s a setup. The Countess hisses at her, Donovan tazes Ramona’s neck and once again – she’s betrayed. Iris was right about Donovan, of course. A mother always knows. He’s too much of sucker for the love of the Countess. They lock Ramona into one of the iron cages.

The Countess and Valentino have breakfast and turns out Natascha has been out shopping all this time, thanks to The Countess’s black card. She wants Valentino all to herself and for them to turn the Hotel into a fortress against the modern world. It’s all part of her plan to recreate the love they had all those years ago when she was allegedly happy and in love. But then Natascha returns laden with shopping bags and The Countess changes her tune. She says Natascha has to come over tonight for girls fashion night and Valentino isn’t invited. Natascha’s imminent demise seems just around the corner at the Hotel Cortez – but at least she’ll be wearing the latest couture.

At the Will Drake and Countess wedding Elizabeth Taylor objects but can’t conjure a better reason than just because the bride’s a bitch, basically. The Countess says please ignore Liz, she drinks but the law requires a witness. Now that they’re married March visits Drake at the bar before taking him upstairs to “show him something.” There he introduces Will to The Countess’s monster child. Of course Will Drake, who cares deeply about aesthetics and little else insults the heinous creature. Then The (outraged) Countess knocks him upside the head. He wakes up in the cage room with Ramona still in the pink iron cage. The blue one stands open, awaiting Drake’s hot bod. Not knowing any better, Will frees her from the iron bars and then Ramona thanks him by feeding on his gorgeous face and neck. Ms. Evers stands over the bloody spectacle with arms folded and an I-told-you-so look on her face. All the while The Countess watches on remote video in her newly constructed vault-like chamber.

She’s been the most powerful force at the Hotel Cortez all along and seemingly remains unstoppable. So, what would a happy ending look like for American Horror Story – Hotel? Is it for The Countess to get her heart’s desire and spend the rest of her days with Valentino in a vault while the hotel continues on below, killing, torturing, and enveloping hostage after hostage? Or will John Lowe kill everyone, including The Countess? Then maybe Alex will become the new Countess and John the replacement James March as the Hotel sashays forth into a new era of deadly debauchery. Either way, it’s sure to be a glamorous, blood- soaked ride.

–Katherine Recap