[For Mozart in the Jungle “Stern Papa” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Stern Papa. Rodrigo has doubts despite his success; Hailey seeks her replacement so she can focus on her substitute oboe position; Cynthia meets the orchestra’s new lawyer.

Here’s a brief Mozart in the Jungle refresher for those hazy on season one:

The show was created by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Alex Timbers after they got the idea from an oboist’s memoir of the same title with the titillating subtitle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music. The show doesn’t disappoint on any of these three counts. It’s a wonderland of artistry as well, which puts Mozart in the Jungle in a class all its own these days. It’s the story of an orchestra and their magnetic and eccentric conductor, Rodrigo, told through the perspective of a newbie oboist who gets her feet wet as Rodrigo’s assistant. With the fireworks of talent shooting out of every casting decision, this is a tough show to pass over once you’ve seen who’s in it.

Gael Garcia Bernal plays Rodrigo De Souza, a charismatic conductor and whirlwind of musical genius who invigorates the jaded orchestra he joins in New York City. Rodrigo’s a true iconoclast who sucks the marrow out of every living minute.

Lola Kirke plays Hailey, a talented young oboist who spends season one getting her bearings. After Rodrigo hears her play he declares she must be part of the orchestra because she “plays with the blood!” and thus she becomes his assistant. Though she has a boyfriend, Hailey’s heart belongs to Rodrigo… and they did kiss at the end of season one.

Bernadette Peters is a glorious vision in curls playing Gloria, the head of the orchestral board of directors in season one. We didn’t see enough of her last season but Gloria shines bright in season two.

Malcolm Macdowell‘s Thomas Pembridge, the former maestro of the orchestra before Rodrigo came along, is one of those characters that always says and does the most ridiculous things yet remains eminently believable.

Saffron Burrows plays the cellist Cynthia. Blindingly beautiful and talented, Cynthia gets caught up in forbidden sexual dalliances because it would be a crime to keep that stunning body clothed throughout even one season.

Episode one of season two, “Stern Papa” dances around the parenting theme in multiple arrangements. One of the least obvious examples is the first scene where we find Rodrigo in Los Angeles where he’s guest conducting the Philharmonic. He’s talking to his usual muse, the ghost of Mozart, and we soon see the conversation devolve into Rodrigo battling against that nasty doubting (often of parental origin) voice in every artist’s head that sometimes says maybe we’re just a fraud, or perhaps we’re just terrible, etc. So, of course spicy chili pepper Rodrigo will have none of this and shouts a storm at Mozart, scaring him away only to then immediately want Wolfgang back. And thus begins an episode packed with child/parent dynamics.

When he returns to New York and his home orchestra, Rodrigo finds his musicians playing softball, a game their previous maestro forbade them to play for fear it may impact their playing from injuries or even just the time suck. So, they’re a bit nervous when they see him coming on their playfield. But then he’s just their buddy their pal, mr cool kid Rodrigo so instead of forbidding their game he joins as pitcher and they play together. Hey guys, it’s fun daddy! Everybody loves fun daddy – right? In fact, they love him so much that at their first rehearsal they open with Take Me Out to the Ballgame. He’d instructed them to play Shubert but what’s a little joke among buddies who love each other – right? But the real love for Rodrigo emanates from Hailey, who can’t seem to stop her adoring Rodrigo gaze even as she admonishes him for bad behavior.

Speaking of which, Hailey chides Rodrigo when he quickly dismisses the replacement Gloria chose to become Rodrigo’s new assistant, Sarabelle Westmore. Rodrigo spends only seconds with her before finding her habit of stating everything in question form intolerable. In his defense, Sarabelle’s totally annoying and she arrives when he’s already at his limit. Gloria works his every nerve to get him to convince the orchestra to take the board’s new contract offering. Rodrigo doesn’t deal with red tape. He just wants to talk music and make the orchestra better – that’s all he cares about. Meanwhile Hailey just wants to find a replacement assistant so she can focus on the oboe… and possibly get into Rodrigo’s pants.

Which Cynthia reprimands Hailey for, setting up yet another “tsk tsk” parent/child dynamic, when she tells her that, “Triangle Tina saw Rodrigo kissing you at last season’s finale performance,” then warns her to focus on the oboe. She promises to tell Triangle Tina to shut her yap as long as Hailey keeps focusing on her own instrument rather than Rodridgo’s. Then in the very next scene we’re introduced to Cynthia’s season two love interest: The orchestra’s new lawyer, Nina, played by Gretchen Mol. Nina clearly has the hots for Cynthia from the get go. The symphony hired Nina because they think they’re getting a rotten deal and heard she’s a real shark. And when she zips into the story on her motorcycle with a fitted suit and instant Cynthia flirtation, we believe the “shark” comment. Nina quickly warms to all the players including Betty, the orchestra’s longest running member, consistently clad in Eileen Fisher and matching smug expression. She’s also the first chair oboe – which directly affects Hailey’s potential for advancement in the orchestra.

Rodrigo maintains a resonant concern throughout the first episode of season two. He ruminates about their imminent trip to Mexico when the orchestra will play for his mentor, Maestro Rivera. Because the symphony “stinks” Rodrigo fears embarrassment in front of his primary father figure. Meanwhile the douche board member, Biben, has it out for Rodrigo and wants to reinstate Pembridge as conductor. But Pembridge considers himself a composer now and won’t even consider the possibility. However, when Rodrigo asks Pembridge what he thought of the symphony’s welcome back performance he’s bursting with advice. This is where the episode gets its title “Stern Papa” as Pembridge suggests the orchestra lacks cohesion due to Rodrigo not being parental enough. He needs to be “Stern Papa,” like all the great conductors before, such as Pembridge himself. Then he asks for Rodrigo to take a look at the symphony he’s composing and says, “not to toot my own horn but I think it’s absolutely fucking brilliant,” and who can say no to that?

After leaving Pembridge’s pad, Rodrigo bikes to Hailey’s place at three in the morning and asks her what the orchestra thinks of him. She says they think he’s crazy but believe in him… and sometimes they think they love him. Then Hailey asks if he sometimes thinks he loves the orchestra and he says “not sometimes, all the time”. But he’s the conductor, he explains, and thus has to maintain some distance. It’s the classic parental push and pull between love and setting limits. Of course, they’re not just talking about the symphony but also each other. Then Rodrigo tells her he has to get to work and get this terrible orchestra on track while she has to find a replacement for herself so she can focus on practicing oboe. “The falconeer and the falcon must both take wing!” Rodrigo declares as he bikes away. Leaving Hailey on her stoop to wonder aloud if she’s the falcon – not yet realizing that if they both take flight it really doesn’t matter which is which. They soar together.

–Katherine Recap

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

FX Summary:
Be Our Guest Iris and Liz oversee a new era; John and Alex struggle to adapt to life outside the hotel.

If you’re into American Horror Story Hotel for the sex you may find this season finale, “Be Our Guest” disappointing – because there isn’t any – and there’s only a tidbit of violence, comparatively. But when it comes to thematic resonance, symbolism, and tying up loose ends, this baby delivers with only one glaring exception. Also, don’t get too attached to the FX summary because we learn virtually nothing about John and Alex’s adaptation to life outside the hotel other than that it was a colossal failure and they returned soon after leaving. Gaga and Angela Basset make brief appearances in the finale but these vignettes are penetrating shots of glamour and poignance that make a lasting impact in this season’s final bit of glorious hotel madness.

We open on Liz and Iris, the new hotel management duo, as they attempt to mold a glamorous luxury destination out of this ghost-ridden fleabag. A year has passed since the last episode and they’ve liquidated The Countess’s art collection to pay for redecorating and even installed fancy Japanese toilets. Unfortunately, there’s an intrinsic glitch in their plan – they’ll never get rid of the murderous ghosts. So, though they welcome two hotel website reviewers for a grand Hotel Cortez reopening – they can’t ever get those coveted four gold stars. Sally and Will Drake make sure of it when they get all stab-happy and ruin the whole shebang, killing the reviewers before they even have a chance to sit down on the new furniture. Liz and Iris shake their heads in disgust at the cleanup that awaits and their hopeless situation. The Cortez will never get any stars at this rate! The duo call a meeting of the Cortez ghosts and Liz ding-ding-dings the side of a martini glass, calling it to order.

They ask the ghosts to stop killing the guests so they can make the hotel a luxury “destination” but Sally and Will say no. Hell no, in fact, murder is just too much fun. Then James March enters to give an inspiring soliloquy about how this is their HOME they’ve got to stop killing so it can become a historical landmark. But really, it’s probably just that he’s stopped killing and handed over the murder king crown to John Lowe. So, why should these minor league ghosts get to have all the fun? Iris and Liz say they have to become a destination because they can’t survive without the money that would make them. Drake’s is drying up now that he’s dead and not designing anymore. Sally gets pissy, saying the hell that awaits if they burn down the Cortez would be all the same as living there is now. She leaves the meeting to pout in her room but Iris follows and tells Sally she knows of a more permanent fix than going to hell – something with a real future. Iris advises her to become a literal ghost in the machine. She hands Sally a smartphone loaded up with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – the whole shebang and explains that she can create a whole new world for herself. Suddenly Sally’s inspired – she’s an artist after all. Soon Sally has a rabid online audience seeking her every tweet, photo, and video. Finally, the artist that’s been dying to be acknowledged inside Sally has a rapt audience. She becomes so popular and validated as SallyThatGurl online Sally throws away her needles and smack. Her online identity made Sally into somebody she can face in the mirror sober. After all who needs rehab when you’ve got fanboys and followers feeding your ego 24/7?

Meanwhile Will Drake lives the complete opposite lifestyle just down the hall. He hides from his adoring public and gets drunk all the time. Liz sent his son to a fancy boarding school and keeps tabs on the business; which, though not thriving, gets by on its fragrance and accessory lines. Ironically, his fans think he’s in rehab so Will could easily continue to create fashion from the Cortez and nobody would be the wiser. His biz could thrive again rather than just survive if only he’d participate in it again. Liz offers to help him do this and Drake seems truly intrigued, inspired even at the prospect. It makes sense, Liz was a salesman in her former life and bleeds Dior in this one. Who’s better equipped for a revitalization of a fashion brand? So, in the next scene Liz attends a Will Drake corporate board meeting and takes over the business helm while Will designs a whole new season of amazing Drake magic from his lair of mystery and thus they became eminently successful as a fashion team. Even still… loads of success on this fabulous fashion venture doesn’t make Liz happy. Then she realizes nothing really can or ever will because she still misses her beloved Tristan.

So, Iris hires a famous TV psychic, played by Sarah Paulson, named Billie Dean to find Tristan’s spirit. The trio do a calling out to him in Liz’s room where Tristan died at the razor-tipped fingers of The Countess. Billie Dean reaches what seems to be Tristan but he has no message and then Liz says it’s because she’s the reason Tristan’s dead – weeping. The psychic tells Liz to be strong and then suddenly starts to get messages from the manly spirit in the room. He smells pancakes, she says and watches Saturday morning cartoons. Um, that’s not Tristan, bitch. It’s Donovan and he’s there to tell Iris he loves her. Billie tells Iris not to worry and that Donovan is speaking to her from a beautiful place far from the Hotel Cortez. So, Liz never does get to speak to Tristan through Billie but in a following scene we see her become a grandmother as she attends the birth of her son’s new daughter, which makes her happy. Liz gets to leave behind her own legacy now.

In the next scene Ms. Taylor tells Ramona and all the ghosts she’s just gotten some horrible news. She’s the only woman in the world with prostate cancer and will die soon. So, she insists that they need to kill her and take her out of this misery. But the ghosts love Liz and don’t want to kill her …until Sally explains that because it’s the Cortez she’ll be reborn and can be with them forever. They’re just about to do the deed when The Countess (heretofore hiding) interrupts and says Liz was always her fondest creation and she wants to help. Then The Countess does her signature razor fingernail throat slash just for Liz this time. The good news is that as soon as Liz dies she’s reunited with Tristan. He explains that he couldn’t get in the way of her continuing to live her life to the fullest so that was why he stayed silent with Billie but, of course, he loves Liz, like always.

Next we’re transported forth to 2022 and the psychic Billie Dean now frequently uses the Cortez to film her TV show and discover all sorts of spirits and ghost stories. Billie’s main objective revolves around John Lowe, the Ten Commandments Killer. She sees him as the ultimate ghost interview. Speaking of John, he shows up (a ghost now) just as Ramona and Iris discuss shutting down Billie Dean because they don’t want all the creepy guests her show attracts to the Cortez now that Drake’s designer legacy keeps then in business money-wise. When Lowe shows up they appeal to him for help with Billie and he’s happy to oblige. He offers her an on camera interview. Billie says she wants to set the record straight and asks if his family knew he was a serial killer. He doesn’t really answer and just says he let them down. The Billie asks if he killed his family. Although it appears that he didn’t, John says to stop talking about his family. Which is a powerful parallel to all the past convos he’s had with Sally, also played by Sarah Paulson. Then we see a brief flashback to Lowe’s family showing back up at the Cortez after sending Scarlet off to the same boarding school where Will Drake’s son went. While the three of them lived at the Cortez, John kept killing at night on the streets of LA to collect blood for his wife and son. Then late one night after one such murder and blood collection, John gets shot by police near the outside of the Cortez. He wants to crawl inside but doesn’t make it. In fact, the only reason he can be there talking to her that night is because it’s October 30th.

So, then Billie asks him about the significance of the date and he tells her it’s Devil’s Night and if she’s willing to go with him without the cameras he’ll show her what that means. John takes her hand. Thus the cameraman’s perspective shows it floating in the air as Billie leaves the room with the ghost of John Lowe. They walk down the screaming hallowed halls just the two of them and then he brings her to the notorious serial killer party where she’s greeted by John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer, then Aileen Wournos, and Richard Ramirez. John asks her if she’s scared and she says no because she just surrounds herself with the white light of spirit to protect her, to which John sarcastically says, “Sure thing, sweetheart,” but Billie’s serious. Then she recognizes James March and half passes out. John drugs her and the killers collectively tie her to a chair then threaten to kill her if she keeps doing TV specials, tweets and interviews about the hotel. She’s gotta shut her dang trap. Billie says even if she promised they can’t hold her to her word because they can’t leave the hotel. They’re trapped. Ha! But then Ramona shows up, not dead, and says she’ll wqtch over Billie’s skinny ass to keep her in line. Billie flees the hotel then in a terrified state, presumably never to return.

After this scene John goes back to his hotel room and Scarlet’s there for a visit, much older now and looking about college age. Lowe says he’s afraid to go asleep because once he closes his eyes she’ll be gone for another year. But Scarlet tells John it’s OK, he should rest and he does. Then we see The Countess courting a young hottie that reminds her of Valentino in the hotel bar. She looks better than ever in a royal blue dress slit down to kingdom come and sparkling silver gloves with razor nails on each fierce fingertip. She uses one to trace his perfect bone structure and purrs,”You’ve got a jawline for days,” speaking a truth that resonates not only in that moment but seems to echo eternal through the halls of the Hotel Cortez. We’re right back where we started. It’s the circle of life… and death.

Thus we say goodbye to the fabulous limited series American Horror Story – Hotel. This one was a fun and glamorous romp with an extra dose of bloody lust, nudity, and drugs. One might refer to it as rock n’ roll horror but really it should always be known as the Gaga season because she made all the difference. Her Golden Globe was well-earned and we loved every minute of her onscreen. In fact, there wasn’t much we would change about this season. Although, we never really found out much about that maggoty drill bit dick guy, which is pretty ironic because who would think a guy that violently screws people with his drill bit loins would turn out to be nothing but a big ol’ narrative tease?

–Katherine Recap

[For Transparent “Grey Green Brown & Copper” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Amazon.com Summary:
Grey Green Brown & Copper Maura has a love connection and reconciles her past; Ali discusses her future with Leslie, Josh seeks a father’s love in Buzz; Sarah ties up loose ends.

The season two finale episode of Transparent brings us to the other side of the Pfefferman life transitions with each the characters looking at life in a new way now. Josh deals with his buried feelings and finally finds a comfortable place to fall apart and get the empathy he needs. Ali brings together the past and present Pfeffermans and gets ready to move forward with a greater understanding of both. Sarah finds solace in a new weekly practice and begins to make peace with her past. Maura, meanwhile, finally visits her mother and introduces her true self only to find she’s accepted and had nothing to fear.

“Grey Green Brown & Copper” draws its title from a phase of the Pfefferman pool back when the three siblings were kids and going through that transitional period of tweens and adolescence on their way adulthood. Their family’s changes back parallel it’s current transition. What we mainly learn in season two is that it’s one thing to become an adult and quite another to actually grow up. For the Pfeffermans, as for most people, the latter transition serves as more challenging but at least the trio of siblings had each other. We especially feel their bond as they play tea party underwater in the pool. Water also reconciles the bond between Maura and her mother when in the last scene they watch the ocean tide together.

The episode opens on Vicki in a hotel room with Maura. She’s discussing her breast cancer and double mastectomy but her secure attitude reveals she’s over it at this point. Maura then asks if she’s comfortable sharing a room and Vicki says yes and that she’s NATO, not attached to outcome. Then they spoon on one of the double beds and fall asleep cuddling. When they awaken in the morning they smooch tenderly and then Vicki straddles Maura. The two have mind-blowing sex before Vicki collapses into Maura’s arms and they’re happy together. The couple then go to breakfast at a diner and Maura talks about visiting her mother. She feels terrible that it’s been three years since seeing her and decides it’s time to visit Rose.

In the next scene we see a flashback to melancholy Rose and her mother traveling by ship to America. Her mother hands her a large block of chocolate which Rose breaks open to find the pearl ring Gittel gave her inside. We know from the events of season two that this ring will always represent Gittel to Rose and is thus much more meaningful than just a pretty Pfefferman family heirloom.

Next we see Sarah and Ali swimming in the pool at Maura’s house, where Josh still lives, though alone now that Raquel moved out. It’s early morning and he wakes up, makes breakfast and, when he hears them splashing, joins his sisters. They swim and talk about how everything changed for their family one particular summer when they were kids and they suddenly stopped swimming in the pool. Apparently the pool guy quit that summer and then the pool filled with leaves for two years because nobody would scoop it. The bottom got all “Grey, Green, Brown and Copper” so much so that they could have gone sliding across it like a backyard slip n’ slide. But instead they avoided the pool and stopped hanging out together in the way they are right now. Then Sarah says she’s thinking about exploring her spiritual mojo but Josh tells her she can’t go to Raquel for that. After their swim and showering the three of them snuggle up next to each other in Josh’s bed to watch dumb TV. They talk about how it’s the first time in adulthood they’re all single at the same time. It brings them together in a way they haven’t been since the onset of Transparent. There’s real love in that bed. Then Ali sees the pearl ring on Josh’s nightstand and asks if she can have it. He’s happy to give it to her and she immediately puts it on a necklace around her neck. After this deep triad sibling connection scene the three Pfefferman kids each make a symbolic visit to someone significant in their personal story.

Ali goes to UCLA looking hot in a polka dot halter dress, the pearl ring around her neck, and glowing with newfound confidence. She visits Leslie who offers her a choice. Ali can either spend the next year as her student and teaching assistant or she can be her girlfriend but can’t be both. It’s up to her. Next we see Ali on a train with Maura apologizing for what happened at Idylwild. Then she says she’s thinking about studying with Leslie in the Fall and so we see where her choice regarding Leslie seems to be leaning. They go together to visit Rose and Maura’s nervous that her mother will be seeing her as a woman for the first time. When they finally get to Rose, Maura holds her hand and says, “It’s Morty but they call me Maura now,” and (just Maura’s luck) right then her sister Bri enters the room. But she doesn’t say anything and a silent moment passes between all of them as Rose notices the pearl ring hanging from Ali’s neck and takes it into her hand. She clearly recognizes it, a big deal because she’s had dementia for a long while. This brings them together in unified love for Rose because all are so happy just to see her experience a real connected moment with them.

Sarah visits Pony, whom she met at Idylwild and gets a paddle spanking that makes her smile and wriggle with delight. Then she pays using a credit card Pony swipes on her iPhone and they agree to meet again next week. Afterward Sarah visits Len, her ex husband and tries to make amends by giving him a brand new $485 eyeshadow palette just like the one she ruined and lifted from his girlfriend, Melanie. But Len asks if she’s got a gift receipt because Melanie left him. Sarah comforts Len and tells him she’s sorry and that Melanie’s wrong about Len “being boring”. It’s clear Sarah really means it. But then Sarah goes against Josh’s wishes and visits Raquel to ask if she has a minute to talk.

Speaking of Josh, he visits Buzz and they have a long talk over beers. Then Josh hears a sick duck and goes to it’s side. Buzz shows Josh how to help the duck by wrapping it in Josh’s jacket. and having Josh carry it on his shoulder like a baby into the condo where they fill a bathtub so it can swim and heal. They looking at the duck together and Josh confides that nothing’s adding up in his life. Buzz says he’s grieving the loss of his father. “Josh, your father died,” he explains and that it’s time mourn the loss. Buzz offers his shoulder for Josh and he weeps. It helps him. Josh has finally found his soft place to fall and maybe even a father figure to boot.

Then we revisit Rose and her mother in Los Angeles 1934. They track down the father who abandoned them in Berlin and their worst fears are realized. He’s remarried and has a new child. It’s evident that he had no intention of sending for them. In fact, he nastily accuses Rose’s mother, his “real” wife of being a failure because she couldn’t get Gershon to come with them. Then he tries to bribe Rose with offers of a book from a nearby shop, “You like to read, don’t you?”. The whole debacle sickens the two of them, along with us. They spit in his doorway on the way out. It might seem petty if he didn’t deserve worse.

In the last scene Maura, Ali, and Bri take Rose to the beach to look at the ocean and we see a flashback of when Maura was born. Rose’s mother worries in the waiting room and Rose’s husband keeps telling her to stop fretting. He’s got it all figured out. She says Rose didn’t even pick a name yet and he says that’s no problem because he already picked a name, Faye Pfefferman. Sounds like a movie star. She says what if it’s not a girl? And he says he knows it is because a father knows these things. Then Maura gets born and the doctor holds her up and says, “Congratulations, it’s a boy”. The last shot is of Maura’s happy face as she stands beside her mother and looks out at the ocean expanse before them. Her future is as limitless as the beautiful blue sea. We’re all pulling for you, Maura, and hoping you always feel beautiful while less and less blue.

–Katherine Recap

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

Amazon.com Summary:
Man on the Land Maura has a rude awakening; Sarah experiences liberation; Ali finds herself on a journey to the past.

The next-to-last Transparent episode “Man on the Land” revolves around the notions of danger and rescue. It’s not always the case that “we’re in danger because we knowingly pursued it” is the basic idea, but we can be rescued either way. The main example of danger at the Idylwild Festival for Womyn turns out to be Maura, who represents a reluctant rebel, though Ali and Sarah have their own individual experiences with danger as well. The Pfefferman three also have a sort of rescue and liberation event that changes each of them in a meaningful way.

In the first scene Maura, Ali, and Sarah enter the Idylwild Womyns Music Festival where Ali and Sarah feel immediately at home among the naked ladies, hippies, and womynkind of all sorts. They dance to the Indigo Girls singing Hammer and Nail and then settle down to some less-than-appetizing nutloaf for lunch. Next Ali and Sarah pursue each of their respective goals; Ali to hear Leslie read her poetry and Sarah to explore her intentions in a tent with “Chief Crying Bear”. Maura then investigates the Idylwild market and meets Vicki (the intriguing Anjelica Huston) while shopping for owl feather earrings. Vicki’s a cheese monger from Larchmont who assumes Maura’s a rebel because she’s at the festival where the policy is “women born women only”. Little does Vicki know that Maura’s pretty much the opposite of a rebel and the minute she finds this out her heart starts a-thumping and terror zips through Maura’s mouse-in-a-cathouse veins.

Meanwhile Ali meets up with Leslie and they each announce they’re now single before Leslie finds out Ali took Maura to the festival and notifies her of the festival policy about “women born women only”. Ali registers immediately that she should track down Maura and Leslie asks if she can come along to help. Cue the sensual intrigue background grooves, baby. They put a note on a festival billboard telling Maura to meet them at the Sojourner Camp because Leslie says “There are lots of contraband hotdogs over there”. On the other side of the festival Sarah enters Crying Bear’s tent for the funniest part of this episode – Chief Crying Bear explains what the intentions tent is all about with a thick long island accent. “Some of you are here to mourn your murdered femininity. Some of you I know from my Drumming Away Racism group. We’re gonna go on a journey now where you’ll experience deep emotions; laughter and uncontrollable weeping is not uncommon…” Sarah excuses herself at that point muttering that she has the wrong tent. Then she sees a woman leading another on a leash and spanking her with a paddle. This mesmerizes Sarah and she follows them as if on a rein made of her deepest desires.

Waiting in line at the port-o-potty Maura gets a firsthand glimpse of the “women born women only” policy when the cleanup crew comes to take away the sewage from the potties and women around her start chanting, “Man on the Land,” in a strident manner that unnerves Maura. She asks someone about it and they explain that “it’s a penis alert so nobody gets triggered,” which sends Maura away from the potties in a panic. She finds Ali’s billboard note about Camp Sojourner and starts asking peeps where it is but nobody seems to know. Then the scene shifts to intercuts between an increasingly panicked searching Maura and an intrigued, glowing Sarah in pursuit of the woman with the paddle. Sarah eventually meets this mystery woman, Pony, and asks her about the whole leash dynamic. Pony explains that it’s a “play scene of consensual power exchange” and that was her “naughty doggy,” to which Sarah replies, “Woof”. Then she gets down and dirty with the spankings …nowhere near Camp Sojourner.

The sun goes down on Idylwild and Maura finally finds Ali at Camp Sojourner where she’s sits with Leslie and a group of the extremists who hold the “women born women only” policy particularly dear to their hearts. Some of them are even founders of the festival who chopped the trees and plowed the fields to clear the space for Idylwild. Maura says she wants to go but Leslie and Ali have her sit with them at the campfire to chill a bit first. Unfortunately this peaceful beginning quickly turns to discord when they discuss the policy and how penises are triggering because “we’ve all been raped” and they’re angry about Maura’s privilege. Yes, she suffered when a man but her pain and privilege are separate entities, they explain. So, Maura gets upset and leaves in a huff.

Ali picks up a lantern and heads out to find her Moppa while Maura investigates tents looking for the one Ali and Sarah took to sleep in while at Idylwild. But she gets more and more irritated by the entire affair as she fails tent after tent. Finally Maura gets loopy with the frustration at all of it and starts dancing around, tearing down tents, and singing the words “Man on the Land” until finally Vicki, whom she met at the owl earring booth, drives over to her and picks up Maura to take her away from Idylwild. She’s rescued. But really, it seems like Maura is saved from herself more than any real danger. Meanwhile Ali has a stoned experience that shifts her into the past. As she searches for her Moppa in the woods her feet are suddenly in the “Jew shoes” she talked about in her grad school application. During wartime female Jews were made to wear these ugly red and white shoes with bells on them so they could be heard coming from far away. Then Ali sees Rose and Gittel’s mother walking near her in the forest. Next we’re transported back to the 1933 Sex Institute where Nazis break down the doors, burn the research books, and hurt many of the members. Ali also sees this and stands by the bonfire of the Institute’s books where she holds Rose’s hand and together they watch as Nazis drag Gittel away. They cry. Afterward Ali seeks solace smooching with Leslie in the tent.

The danger represented in this episode isn’t real in the present day, though it certainly is for Gittel in 1933, something that, though it happened long ago, still touches this family today. Perhaps it’s this touchstone that puts the terror into Maura and brings her so much anxiety about not being welcome at Idylwild. Though it does seem likely that as a former member of the privileged group (men) this new feeling of being in the unwelcome category could have triggered her anxiety gene from the Epigenetics we learned about in the Cherry Blossom episode. No matter, though, Vicki rescues Maura in the end and she’s freed from danger, real or imagined. We know Sarah’s not in any real danger and that for her the danger titillates rather than terrifies. Her rescue comes when Sarah finally finds a way to explore this particular thrill in a consensual way where she feels understand. Ali learns about the danger her family endured during the war when she sees Gittel taken away by the Nazis and holds hands with the terrified Rose, her own grandmother. This experience coupled with alienating and upsetting her Moppa represent an emotional danger zone for Ali who then finds rescue in Leslie’s arms. So, all three Pfefferman women experience an individual form of danger, largely in their heads, but then find a tangible and real life rescue in a connection with another person. Could it be a coincidence that each rescuer/hero in “Man on the Land” is a woman”? We think not.

–Katherine Recap

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Bundled in the scrum of red and colorless cards from Oath of the Gatewatch — for the four hundred twenty-third and most recent episode of Top 8 Magic begins that venerable podcast’s world famous set review sequence with the aforementioned red and coloress cards — is the heretofore unheralded Reality Smasher.

To begin with, Reality Smasher is a 5/5 creature for five mana (5<>). There was a time when the stats alone would give a player pause. And Reality Smasher has not one, not two, but three abilities (one unique).

Compare to Baneslayer Angel:

Baneslayer Angel

Baneslayer Angel had four abilities, with flying and lifelink insanely relevant; and first strike and protection from demons and dragons somewhat less so. We’re not saying that Reality Smasher is necessarily as good as Baneslayer Angel, but Baneslayer Angel was declared the best large creature “of all time” by Pro Tour Hall of Famer (and two-time PT Champion) Brian Kibler as he used it to win an Extended Pro Tour. Baneslayer Angel was not only also the apex of Andre Coimbra’s Naya Lightsaber pyramid, but the pivot point around which large format creature fights revolved for several large events.

So for context’s sake Reality Smasher is similar size (5/5) for an [essentially] easier cost (4<> v. 3WW). It has only three abilities to Baneslayer Angel’s four abilities, but two of those abilities are haste and trample!

To begin with, haste is maybe the strongest of the default keyword abilities (competing, probably, with flying). And while Reality Smasher doesn’t have flying, trample does a nice proxy job (especially when combined with haste here). Of course it is the third, unique, ability that makes Reality Smasher interesting to talk about:

Whenever Reality Smasher becomes the target of a spell an opponent controls, counter that spell unless its controller discards a card.

Here is something that Reality Smasher has, that Baneslayer Angel always took criticism for lacking: Some amount of resilience. No, this isn’t hexproof; the opponent can, in fact, target Reality Smasher with the veritable Doom Blade and force you to put your five drop into the graveyard. On balance, it can be costly for the opponent to do so because it is not one Doom Blade but two total cards that will be required… Meaning that disruption — specifically hand destruction — can be an effective setup strategy for this big creature. Think about how Reality Smasher might work well with Duress, Demonic Pact, or Thought-Knot Seer.

… The opponent might just not have the materiel to fight it!

In the end, michaelj and bdm considered Reality Smasher more of a “possible” than a sure hit, but were quite engaged in the discussion; dubbing the new Eldrazi “Gaea’s Revenge-ish”.

Of course they did all the red and colorless cards, of which Reality Smasher was just one 🙂

Listen to “Top 8 Magic #423 – Oath of the Gatewatch Complete Review: Red & Colorless” now:

Direct Download

Visit “Top 8 Magic #423 – Oath of the Gatewatch Complete Review: Red & Colorless” on ManaDeprived

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


Amazon.com Summary: Rose and Gittel face an ultimatum; Maura keeps learning; Josh is reckless; and Ali and Sarah get ready for Idylwild.

In this recapper’s opinion “Oscillate” wins the award for best Transparent episode because it’s so hilarious, poignant, and powerful. The Pfefferman story shines through to reach us on a level beyond what’s come before. Part of this arises out of the oscillation theme. In physics to oscillate is to “vary in magnitude or position in a regular manner around a central point,” and that’s what happens in this episode. It begins with a trio of female Pfeffermans, one of them trans, in Berlin 1933 as they prepare for a journey that will forever change them. The episode then concludes with a trio of female Pfeffermans, one of them trans, in modern day LA as they head out on a similarly significant trip. The hilarity of this episode doesn’t take anything away from its emotional weight and impact, an incredible feat for a half hour comedy and done with masterful beauty and grace. Also, we learn a new word with this episode, the sublime concept “Limerence” which envelopes the infatuation stage of puppy love. It’s the feeling you’ll likely have for the Pfeffermans by the end of “Oscillate,” even if you already adored them.

The episode opens on 1933 Berlin when Gittel and Rose bring money to their mother for visas to bring them all to the United States and find the father that abandoned their family. Their mother personifies embittered as she hunches grumpily over her lonely bowl of stew. She can’t quite understand what’s going on with Gittel, so her now-daughter former-son explains that she’s a transvestite and what that means. At one point later in the convo, Gittel tells her she should give Berlin a chance, she might learn to like it. To this their mother replies, “I think it’s a fantastic city …if it wasn’t for all the Germans living in it,” and then she talks about how she’s afraid of the turnstiles at the train. She heard, “they’re breaking women’s pelvises. Did they hear about Sheila? She had to give birth through her face,” and then at a party later Gittel gives Rose the huge pearl ring which will eventually be passed down to the LA Pfeffermans.

Then the story shifts to modern day LA where Josh is pump-pump-pumpin’ it up at crossfit. He gets a baller van for his band Fussy Puss with the intention of driving them “as far away from LA as possible,” but trouble is he can’t handle the driving once he gets out on the highway. Josh has to pull over for a mini breakdown and drenches the lead singer’s baby doll dress with his road rage tears. His character is symbolic herein because back in 1933 Berlin yet another Pfefferman won’t get on the road. Gittel is unwilling to join her mother and Rose for the trip to America because she can’t leave the institute for sexual research. It all just means too much to her. She cares so deeply the institute and is caught up in living out her dream identity as Gittel, the woman, rather than Gershon – the name on her US Visa. Josh cant move on to the next step in his life either but in his case it’s because he’s caught up in grieving the past and can’t even imagine who he’ll be moving forward.

Meanwhile Ali is still BSing our beloved sweetpea, Carrie Brownstein about “it not being about other people,” but not wanting to be tied down. Yeah, OK, Ali. Now it’s over between you, dumbass. You don’t know how great you had it with adorable Syd. We think you’re a moron. She’s funny and kind and cuter than a baby bunny! Then Ali visits Leslie to drop off her graduate school application and finds out Leslie only likes twenty one year olds, at least according to a neighbor who seems to sort of live at Leslie’s.

Next we see Maura at the LA LGBT center signing up for volunteer work on the trauma helpline talking with suicidal teens. Then she tries to make peace with Davina who’s there doing yoga. Afterward she practices a hotline call with Shea at Sal’s kitchen table and seems like she has a lot to learn about comforting the suicidal. But then Shea shares how she often gets those feelings and has since high school. At this revelation Maura rises to the challenge and offers true comfort with warm, encouraging words that really help Shea and make her feel loved. So, Maura grows and connects with her trans sisters more and more as she starts to come into herself as a woman. Maura evolves in beautiful and moving ways when she connects with others. Shea tells Maura, “You’re such a good Mom,” and puts her head on Maura’s shoulder.

Then we see Ali and Sarah visit Shelly at her condo to find that it’s been completely transformed from a bitter ol’ hag’s den into a Malibu pleasure palace. Thanks to Buzz’s influence the condo now has a fancy Japanese toilet, plants, and a streamlined ease because Shelly tossed away everything that “didn’t bring her joy”. But it’s not just the condo that’s changed. Ali and Sarah don’t even recognize this sexually invigorated, enthusiastic, and plant-watering Shelly. She even cleaned the bathroom! This is when Sarah explains that Shelly is “in Limerence,” the first bloom of puppy love. It makes you clean grout, empty out your garage, and make margaritas all while beaming like a glorious blossom basking in the summer sun. The whole experience brings Ali and Sarah closer, much like how the meeting with their mother in the first scene bonds Gittel and Rose. Sarah and Ali decide to go to the Idylwild womyns music festival together now that Syd isn’t gonna go with Ali. So, they’re off to buy camping equipment and prep for their road trip into the forest. But first Maura comes for a visit and shows them how she got her re-gendered baby photos and the trio all sit together for a peek into childhood Maura. Maura says how she wishes she’d grown up a woman because then she’d be with her daughters at Idylwild… so they decide to bring her along.

The last scene captures Ali, Sarah, and Maura in the car on their way to the womyn’s festival. We hear the Indigo Girls on the car stereo singing “Closer to Fine” while Ali and Sarah belt out the lyrics banging their heads and having an amazing time. In the backseat Maura does her best to sing along and though she may not know all the words she’s certainly along for the ride and her interjections of lyrics are as truly hilarious as her giant bare feet propped in between Ali and Sarah. So, the female family trios of the past and today “Oscillate” around each life-altering journey as they attempt to understand each other while bringing us laughter and each other so much love that it can be felt through Pfefferman generations.

–Katherine Recap

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

Amazon.com Summary:
The Book of Life Yom Kippur brings atonement to the Pfeffermans as Sarah attempts an amends to Tammy, Maura struggles to communicate with Davina, and Josh tries to make peace with Raquel. This all culminates at Syd and Ali’s while they’re deep in a spiritual crisis of their own.

The wonder of “The Book of Life” is real, baby. This episode charges forth like fun electricity in a wire for many reasons. Numero uno is the remarkable and joyful addition of a new character the “Jewish Santa” Buzz, who Shelly falls for upon sight. Everyone who meets Buzz gets a similar love surge because he’s delightful, all heart, and just what the Pfeffermans need on this day of atonement. It’s Yom Kippur and that means they fast until sundown and make amends for wrongdoings as well. Then at the end of the day there’s a blessing and a big feast as all is forgiven. This forgiveness is signified by getting your name put into God’s “Book of Life” a sort of ginormous “Yellow Pages for those who atoned”. Your name in the book grants you another year alive so it’s a pretty major deal.

The Pfefferman Yom Kippur kicks off with Sarah at Tammy’s work attempting an apology. But it seems Tammy has entered the critical second stage of relationship grieving, Brutal Sarcasm, and Sarah’s sincerity falls on walking-away ears. The whole scenario puts Sarah in such a foul mood that she spends the rest of her fasting day toking it up with Doctor Pot and screwing him on the love seat in his office. Yes, he’s really a doctor with an office and everything. Then Sarah gets “too high” and a little flaky while he’s going down on her. She rants about how she wants all these things he’s not doing sexually, no offense. And Doctor Pot (probably because he’s Doctor Pothead) reacts with such a calm and chill affect that it’s clear he’s really not offended at all. He gets it that this is all about Sarah and her issues. Time for Dr. Pot to give up on the whole Sarah shebangs shebangs and time for Sarah to hit the Yom Kippur feast party Ali and Syd are throwing for the Pfeffermans.

Meanwhile Ali and Syd are at odds because Ali responds to Syd’s questions about her night with Leslie with queer theory textbook lingo instead of being real and talking like a partner. Syd says, “Listen to yourself. You’ve been queer for like thirty seconds,” but Ali isn’t listening because she’s on some weird “open brave” high brought on by her recent trek into lesbianism. Or maybe, more realistically, Ali’s just hot for teacher and can’t admit that she’s not really cut out to be a good girlfriend right now. Luckily, though, Ali easily hosts her family and Syd’s for a fantastic Yom Kippur feast, even giving a heartfelt blessing in Raquel’s absence.

Speaking of Raquel, Josh attends synagogue with Shelly and awkwardly approaches Raquel in her back office just to say his mom bought tickets in July and to warn her he’d be in the audience. Raquel’s deadpan with, “Duly noted,” so Josh’s nerves crank up a notch and he says he’s also just wondering where they stand and what to tell his family. Raquel replies, “We’re over,” and the great ship that was all of Josh’s love and hope floating and chugging along on a steamboat sea voyage sinks like a lead boulder. He’s done for the day. The irony here pounds like big bass drum because Josh is usually the happy sprite in the family while Shelly plays the bitter Betty role. But it’s Shelly’s turn to giggle all day because she meets the glorious Buzz at the synagogue door and becomes instantly smitten. He’s flirty and sweet, talking right to Shelly’s heart in exactly her language. It’s a dream come true for a battered old shrew.

Meanwhile Maura gets a taste of what it’s like to be a woman around Sal. He comes into her room early in the morning when she’s just waking up and makes plastic surgery recommendations for her transition. Sal says he’ll be happy to help with whatever she needs and then as he leaves adds, “Maura you still got some good years left,” in that patronizing tone every woman on earth has heard a zillion times. But it’s all new to Maura who’s indignant that Sal was “talking about her body”. Sal is pretty gross the way he talks to her but Maura doesn’t handle it gracefully either. She brings it up to Davina right away. Instead of focusing on herself and how she can learn to manage and maybe eschew this sort of nasty macho man talk about one’s private spaces, Maura goes on the offense and says Davina could do much better than Sal. Davina’s reaction wins the award for the best part of Maura’s episode storyline because Davina doesn’t play, baby. She knows who she is and takes no shit. If Maura doesn’t like Sal maybe she should find a new place to stay, Davina says. It really brings out the beauty in Davina to see her stand strong and tell it like it is. You gotta love her. Maura learns that her life may not match many of the transwomen she encounters but she still needs their support and friendship. So, it’s a whole new world for her, this transition, not just a whole new identity.

In the final phase of “The Book of Life” the Pfeffermans come together at Syd and Ali’s for the feast after fasting all day. Shelly and Buzz ride the elevator up to the apartment with Maura and it’s clear Shelly’s already quite taken with Buzz. She introduces him with a list of his accomplishments and says he used to be an astronaut. Then Buzz explains that, actually, he was merely an attorney for NASA on a single patent case… but he does own a rock from the moon. They all have a chuckle over that and then Buzz asks,”So, how do you gals know each other?” At the feast table Ali gives a spontaneous blessing preamble about “The Book of Life” which warms the cockles of all except, of course, the giggling stoned Sarah. When it’s then noted that Raquel isn’t there to do the blessing Buzz steps in and does it perfectly, further impressing the already adoring Shelly. At the third mention of Raquel’s absence, when people murmur that maybe Josh isn’t eating because he’s waiting for her, he makes an announcement. They broke up. The baby wasn’t viable. It’s over. His news hits the table like a deadbolt’s thick thud after a door slam. And then the wailing begins from the end of the table. Shelly weeps that it’s her fault for mentioning the baby and the evil eye at Sarah’s wedding. She killed the baby. She is bereft. This understandably pisses off Josh who’s like, “This isn’t about you,” but then Buzz activates his lovable Buzz powers to save the day. He puts his arm warmly around Shelly and says exactly what she needs to hear. “My mother was just like you with the kina horas and the evil eyes and the spit spit spit and you know what? It’s all just bullshit. Good stuff happens. Bad stuff happens,” he’s what this family needs in this moment. He really is the Jewish Santa Claus. Then Buzz tells her he’ll drive her home after dinner and that’s it for Shelly, she’s head over heels. A man her age who can drive at night? She’ll never let him go.

In the final scene Josh goes to a supermarket solo and starts crazy binging on the deli slices and bread in an out-of-control frenzy of self loathing reminiscent of Meredith Baxter Birney’s Lifetime Original bulimia movie. He shoves that food in faster than he can possibly chew. There’s no love in gluten, Josh – haven’t you heard?

–Katherine Recap

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

FX Summary:
Battle Royale Ramona draws vitality from an unlikely source and Sally uses her past to negotiate her future.

Put on your seatbelt because twists, turns and big changes are booking a night at the Hotel Cortez in this highly anticipated return after a two week long winter’s nap. It’s all gonna be different after this episode which isn’t entitled “Battle Royale” for nothing, baby. We open in the moments just before the last episode ended – so in a prequel moment of sorts. Liz Taylor loads a series of guns laid out on her bed and gets the report from Iris that The Countess is distracted. It’s time to attack, guns blazing, and never look back. They pack on the ammo, raise their guns in the air, and head for the suite where the two old broads shoot and shoot and shoot some more … but Donovan stands in the way to take most of the bullets for The Countess. Once they finally stop shooting Donovan begs Iris to take him out of the Cortez so he doesn’t get trapped there with The Countess’s other lovers. So, she and Liz Taylor carry him outside and leave beautiful, perfect cheek-boned Donovan on the street to die. Right before death he thanks Iris and calls her “Mom” so it’s a happy moment for her even though she’s watching her son die and knows it’s forever this time.

Meanwhile up in her filthy attic apartment, Sally pulls bullets out of the agonizing Countess while the Countess screams and writhes in agonizing pain. Heartless Sally just laughs. She sews and bandages the wounds then makes The Countess promise not to leave her because, “they always leave me”. The Countess says she’s not going anywhere – how could she? It’s true, the woman is wrecked, but still gorgeous being Gaga and all. Then Sally tells The (helpless) Countess her sad Hotel Cortez origin story. Two singers used Sally for her drugs and songs, though she thought this was love and that they considered her an “artist”. The three of them checked into the Hotel Cortez and shot drugs while screwing. Then in the sweaty meditative calm of the aftersex glow Sally sews the pair to her. She attaches the three of them by their nipples one singer on either side of Sally. But then the singers overdosed and left her like everyone else does. Sally explains that after they died she laid next to them for five days while their bodies rotted, still attached to her by their nipples. Then James March came and tortured her until she could take it no longer. She extricated herself – nipple rip and all. So this filthy cave became her spot in the Cortez – her version of hell; the grungy attic apartment where she sews up The Countess. So, now Sally wants someone to be with her that won’t ever leave, John Lowe. She wants the Countess to get Lowe, bring him to the Cortez, and kill him so she can have him with her forever. The Countess needs to get better if she’s going to do this deed and since she has to drink blood like her own Sally drains two of the kids from the video game/candy room even though it’ll kill them and The Countess protests. This makes The Countess sad but you gotta figure she’ll get over it now that she’s “healthy” again.

Speaking of John Lowe, he’s home with Alex and Scarlet explaining that they’re going to be a family now that they have Holden back. Scarlet knows what’s up and asks how they’ll explain Holden being a small child forever. “He’s supposed to be my older brother,” she points out. John acts as if this is easily remedied by simply not telling people. Sure, John. Nobody’s gonna wonder about your dead-looking albino kid that never ages. Then Lowe goes out to the trunk of his car where he’s got a guy bound with a duct-taped mouth. He makes the guy promise that he hasn’t taken any drugs in thirty days. Then goes back inside the house calling for Alex with a bag from the trunk in his hand. John doesn’t find Alex and Scarlet in the house but does find a key from the Hotel Cortez hanging from a light fixture. So, then he goes straight to Sally at the hotel. When he confronts her about Alex and Scarlet’s whereabouts Sally says he has to do his last commandment for March Thou shalt not commit murder. So, John says he just has to find a murderer to kill and Sally smiles saying that shouldn’t be too difficult. Take a hint, John! She also implies that March took his family but we don’t know if that part’s true.

Liz and Iris then seek Ramona’s help. But she’s been sucking on the measles children in the hidden vault-like suite and thus not exactly in a helpful mood when they approach her. They beg her forgiveness and Ramona says she needs to take a life to bring her back to life. THis makes for an amusing but where they ride the Cortez elevator together with ghoulish grins, a bat in one’s hand a revolver in the other’s. They’re about to head out to find dinner for Ramona but they don’t even have to leave because in walks Queenie (the amazing Gabourey Sidibe from the AHS- Coven season) to the hotel lobby. She’s in town for the Price is Right and explains that she knows she’s going to be “coming on down to be the next contestant” because her ticket is enchanted. She’s a witch from an ancient bloodline, after all. Then Queenie gets a dark feeling in her room and wants to change. Iris and Liz tell her that’s not possible but then it doesn’t matter because remember she’s the human voodoo doll, meaning anything Ramona does to her she does right back without even trying. Only there’s a technicality that makes Queenie vulnerable after all. James March kills her for Ramona. He can because he’s dead so her witch powers don’t work on him. Ramona gets to drink all that witch blood to makes her extra uber strong. March explains that he needs Ramona to kill The Countess and make sure she’s bound to the Hotel Cortez forever because she’s his one true love. Yeah, we know. This is the second repetitive theme of the episode thus far. First with Sally’s constant neediness and now with March and his Gaga obsession. You don’t have to bash us over the head with this stuff again, guys – we got it.

Next we finally see some new action when The Countess lietrally smells gorgeous Ramona at her door. Her blood has the scent of walnuts, apparently. They talk and walk gorgeous stunningly perfect glamorous lady circles around each other, their lust obvious. The Countess attempts to apologize and says she’ll give Ramona the Hotel Cortez as a peace offering. Then they start kissing, of course. So, Ramona’s head gets all warped with her love for The Countess again. Gaga smooches do that. The Countess says she has to either leave the hotel or die but Ramona must screw her first no matter which one she decides. Sounds like a pretty good plan to Ramona. So, she does and then lets her get dressed and packed to leave the Hotel Cortez forever. But just as the Countess gets to the elevator in her perfect floor length white coat who’s coming out the door to kill her …but John Lowe on a mission to fulfill his commandments for James March. He succeeds. The Countess is dead (boo hoo). James March is thrilled, of course becuse not only does this fulfill his Ten Commandments objective but it kills two birds because now he gets to keep The Countess at the hotel too. He puts her head into his morbid Ten Commandments exhibit. As March commends John for his success Sally tries to kill him, stabbing at Lowe from behind. But March prevents it. Then John says, “Take me to my family,” and thus Sally’s torment continues. Can’t a junkie bitch catch a break already?

In the final scene March and Ms. Evers discuss how unnerving it is when you furst find out you’re a ghost and that they must be kind to The Countess while she acclimates. Then in walks The Countess ghost, impeccable and pouting. She says there’s no pain, no passion… sigh. March says now he can finally forgive her for turning him into the police. The Countess retorts that she certainly didn’t turn him in. At first he doesn’t believe her but The Countess points out that she would have just killed him if she wanted him dead. It’s a solid point. She’s good at that murdering stuff. Then Ms. Evers admits that it was indeed she who turned him in. She did it out of love for him, she explains, so they could be together forever. Theme overload, dudes. March then says she’s banished from his presence. Evers replies that she then feels strangely free to not be waiting on him anymore. She leaves. Then March and The Countess sit across from each other at the table and he’s happy to have her finally. Forever. She, on the other hand, is bereft. So lovely in all her sadness. At least we still get to have The Countess around, even if she’s truly dead now rather than our preferred state of undead. Hopefully she’ll get over being Sad Sack Countess soon and get down to all that gorgeous villainy we love so much.

The lesson of this episode is rather uplifting, considering the franchise. Donovan, the one who loved without reservation – the guy seriously must have taken a course from Marianne Williamson – gets to rest in peace. Meanwhile the selfish bitches, Ms. Evers and The Countess, rot in the Cortez without their respective beloveds. For Ms. Evers hell is to exist without James March by her side and for The Countess the same holds true for Valentino. So, they’re both basically in the Cortez equivalent to hell. But it looks like Donovan’s unconditionally loving soul is finally free – heaven sent. While the other true lover, Ramona, now gets to take over the Hotel Cortez – no small reward for choosing sex over murderous revenge and you just know it was the good stuff, too. What’s hotter than rage mixed with makeup sex? That’s right, only Donovan knows the answer to that one.

–Katherine Recap

Oath of Jace

“Literally no one has ever discarded an artifact to Thirst for Knowledge.”

The four hundred and twenty-second episode of Top 8 Magic, “New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 2” covers the currently (or at least “then-“) spoiled Oath of the Gatewatch blue and black spells; plus artifacts and lands.

Of especial attention is the discussion of Oath of Jace (which neither member of the Top 8 Magic team likes as much as Oath of Nissa). Despite some initial apprehension, Top 8 Magic lands in an interesting place RE: Oath of Jace.

Mike does a complete about face on Oath of Jace. He starts by saying it “stinks” but you can almost hear the gears turning in his head as he works around how the card might be awesome (or at least good enough to play) over the course of a few minutes of “New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 2”.

  1. Imagine you never have a Planeswalker – You can can use this to set up a one mana Treasure Cruise or Murderous Cut, say on turn four.
  2. This card is great in decks with a lot of “dead weight” in them, or specialized cards. You can use Oath of Jace to “fix your hand”.
  3. Demonic Pact! Not only does this card help you get to your Pact, it gives you insurance against Dromoka’s Command! A B/U Pact deck will benefit from playing with Treasure Cruise, Murderous Cut, and Dig Through Time, etc. anyway.

Mike thinks that he will try to resolve Oath of Jace in 2016, but isn’t sure that it will ever make the final seventy-five; he does think that “people should play more B/U Pact decks” though 🙂

Listen to “New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 2” here:

“New Year’s Resolutions: Oath of the Gatewatch 2” on ManaDeprived

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

Amazon.com Summary:
Bulnerable Ali seeks graduate application advice from Leslie; Josh unravels with more terrible news; Sarah explores sexual fantasies; and Maura helps Davina prepare for Sal’s return from prison.

After the requisite weepiness of the previous episode, “Mee Maw”, “Bulnerable” starts off with an emotional bang as Josh angrily confronts Shelly for knowing about Colton all these past seventeen years. But Shelly stays in poor-me-mode and neglects responsibility with, “I forgot,” and “I was all alone!” along with a number of other creative diversions from involvement in her own child and grandchild’s life. Sarah sits by watching and horrorstruck until she can stand it no longer and leaves to shower off the familiar residue of Pfefferman parental neglect.

Meanwhile Ali frets over her grad school admissions essay and decides to ask Leslie for advice. When she visits, Leslie’s home is like a trip into vaginaland. There are nude women covering every inch of her home in photos, paintings, sculptures, and even on the computer screen Leslie’s watching. Ali’s arrival interrupts her watching vintage lesbian porn as Leslie selects a background visual for her next poetry reading at the Idlewild Festival. When Leslie finally leaves the porn behind and focuses on Ali they drink wine, smoke pot, and flirt in a hot tub. You know, like you do at all your grad school interviews… But then there’s a startling shift when Ali says she’s thirty three and just came out as gay a few months ago. Leslie then slams the clam shut and asks if Ali has met her cats. She’s suddenly exhausted and ready to go to bed, alone. Ali’s only consolation is that she’s got cats all over her on the couch to keep her warm through the night. But before you get all sad for Ali keep in mind that Syd’s waiting at home for her; all wrapped up like cutest Carrie Browstein burrito you can imagine and as clueless as a girlfriend can be about what Ali’s doing right now.

Josh and Raquel contend with real challenges when they visit the doctor because Raquel has hives and finds out she’s lost the baby. Afterward she wants to try again right away and Josh is hesitant, saying he wants to just take a breath and wait a bit. Given that this is literally the day after Colton just left, his reaction isn’t exactly a stunner. But it does, understandably, crush Raquel who wants a baby with her fiancé, not such an unusual request from someone who seemed pregnant only hours before anyway. But Josh is certain he wants to wait. In fact, that night he goes out to a party and gets trashed celebrating the new Fussy Puss album and a plan with his production partner to create their very own label. High and happy Josh stumbles home late that night to find that Raquel has left and seems unlikely to return. She left his family heirloom ring in the middle of their bed and took all her shit. Sigh. Oh, Joshy, baby. It’s back to the drawing board of love for you.

Sarah does her best to lift herself out of lonely loveless doldrums with a visit to Doctor Pot at his apartment. She yelps them some delivery and they promptly get down to sexytime mood solutions. Oh yeah. Sarah tells him about her Mr. Irons fantasy and he agrees to play the role of disciplinarian. Dr. Pot starts off awkward, though, with an unfortunate use of Julia Child’s voice. And if that scene doesn’t send you off the couch in fits of laughter… perhaps nothing ever will. You’re dead inside, dude. Dr. Pot’s hilarious inflection then shifts Sarah’s attention to notice her phone ringing and she makes the classic mistake of answering her mother’s call. Turns out Shelly, who’s babysitting Sarah’s kids, is losing her shit on the job. Sarah has to get home and mother her mother, who never was much of one anyway. Once there Sarah asks Shelly why she offers to babysit when she hates it so much (not to mention how terrible she is at it) to which Shelly snarks, “Because all my friends do it for their grandkids,” then she blubbers and breaks down. Shelly tells Sarah that Maura left her and this she’s now alone again. It’s pity party time as Shelly rests her head first on Sarah’s cold shoulder and then her lap. All Sarah can do is sip her white wine and wish she were somewhere else, preferably with a guy that has a huge bong, or dong, or both.

Maura experiences her own brand of loneliness in “Bulnerable” as she helps Davina prepare for Sal’s release from prison. They all live in Sal’s house, after all so the trio want him to feel welcomed home and make him a lasagne with Shea’s help. They layer noodles, cheese, sauce, and basil while they talk about T blockers (“T” for testosterone) and the residual effects Maura may experience. Through this conversation we find out that Davina prefers not to use T blockers because she still likes to get regular erections – especially now that Sal’s going to be back in the saddle. So, the three of them represent three different stages of transgender. Shea transitioned completely and has a fully functional vagina, Davina has breasts and many feminine features but retains a functioning penis, and Maura is working toward something between these two states.

When Davina returns with Sal they’ve already eaten chicken in a bucket and just want to go upstairs for some quality nookie time so the thank yous and your welcomes with Shea and Maura are brief. “That was abrupt,” says Shea. Then in the last scene of “Bulnerable” Maura joins Sal and Davina for a bit of TV in the living room and they talk about love and sexual preferences. Sal declares himself “trans amorous,” a term Shea introduced a few episodes ago and Maura says she “loves women and always has,” which we sort of already knew but it’s nice to have it completely clear and out on the table like this. An interesting aspect of all this dialogue between them is that we start to see signs that although Maura wants to be a woman and dearly loves them, she doesn’t particularly like being treated like one. She’s not accustomed to it, for one. It seems like maybe Maura thought the recent treatment she’s endured was entirely because she’s trans. But she’s now realizing that women are indeed treated differently from men, trans or not. In the last shot of the episode Maura turns off the light all alone as the soft tones of Davina and Sal’s sweet lovey dovey whispers in the next room echo through her.

“Bulnerable” feels like the longing of unrequited love the whole way through. It’s an episode about wanting what we can’t have and some of the ways that plays out. Sarah’s got it up the wazoo with mother issues and a lustful desire for discipline. While Ali just seems to want she can’t have (Leslie) mainly because it’s unattainable. Having Leslie would also put her in the “youthful” category and we know from season one that Ali doesn’t want to grow up. Josh and Raquel were both longing for a unified family only one episode ago. But Raquel just turned away Colton and so now it’s Josh who turns away from a new baby and they are thus back to back in the present – walking away from each other and pointed in opposite directions of longing. And then there’s Maura, longing to be a woman while floating between worlds. This is why it’s her process is called transitioning. She’s in transition and learns about all the different ways she could go through the choices and preferences of her new friends. It’s a whirlwind and right there at the center of the beautiful storm is the love her friend Davina has with Sal. It’s not exactly the kind of love Maura wants but love is love and Maura longs for it. We’re all the same, after all, no matter what state we’re in. All of us are just looking for love. In other words, “Bulnerable”.

–Katherine Recap