For every toxic, unstable, will-they-won't-they sitcom relationship, there is a simpler, sweeter, invariably less interesting counterpart. Ross/Rachel had the comfortably tepid Monica/Chandler. The Office balanced the chaos of Dwight/Angela, Michael/Holly, and Andy/Erin with the post-Season 4 doldrums of Jim/Pam. And through all the difficulty of fixing together Leslie and Ben, Ann and Chris, and Tom and anyone, we've had the unlikely rock-solid staple of April and Andy. On How I Met Your Mother, this pinnacle of psycho-romantic health is the Marshall/Lily combination — having endured only one trifle early on in the series run prior to this new arc's revelation that Marshall accepted a judgeship in New York that directly conflicted with Lily's plans to movie to Italy. And on the other side of the fence on the long-running CBS sitcom, we've seen Barney and Robin flounder through various mental problems to hold fast to the love that blooms (and often rots) between them. Those two are loons, not capable of a mature, healthy, giving relationship. But, like many people who fit that bill, they're getting married now.
Many viewers have surmised that the Stinson-Scherbatsky union might never come to be, and that How I Met Your Mother will conclude with the revelation that Barney and Robin realize that they aren't quite right for one another (or maybe for marriage at all) and opt to part ways amicably. If this were real life, we might root for this twist of fate. As much as we might enjoy their harebrained antics, we see evidence far too often that Barney and Robin are not part of what one might call a "good" relationship.
Sometimes, the pair champions this, using it to bolster their definition of passionate, non-traditional love. This week's episode, "The Rehearsal Dinner," is a primarily fun and sweet example of this kind of antic — Barney tricks Robin into believing one of his many long, elaborate, diagnostically insane lies in order to lead her to a surprise rehearsal dinner themed after her native home of Canada. It doesn't quite make up for the fact that she, despite her professed wishes, does not actually get to be married in Canada... but Robin Thicke shows up, so everybody wins.
But although "The Rehearsal Dinner" is a particularly enjoyable episode, there is one element of it that rubs me the wrong way: the Robin of it all. Throughout, she strains to contain Barney as he lies, manipulates, ignores, and mocks her, all in the name of giving her a great surprise. The relationship doesn't seem to be about two emotionally frayed people finding a common ground, but about one reasonably stable woman dealing relentlessly with her emotionally frayed fiancé.
We can argue, in favor of the pair, that Robin too is a nut. And she is, historically. But her time with Barney seems to have made her out to be the sane one. Lord knows that "Rehearsal Dinner" exhibits more angst on Robin's part than voluntary lunacy. She commits to the ideas of rehearsal dinners and regimens, worrying about things we've never seen the abjectly offbeat Robin worry about... all in contrast to her maniacal beau. Being around Barney's crazy has actually made Robin seem less crazy (and more boring, we might add), and we're not too fond of this shift.
What makes the Michael/Hollys and April/Andys of the TV world ultimately work? Their compatibility. Barney and Robin advertise this, and occasionally show us a good time and some heartwarming (and funny) moments. But are they compatible? "The Rehearsal Dinner" makes us skeptical.
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We're hesitant to believe that Chris Brown, the man who has gone on record with such a brazen dearth of remorse for having savagely beaten his ex-girlfriend Rihanna, has truly reformed, or shows any signs of doing so. This past weekend, Brown was arrested for assaulting two men who attempted to take a photo with the music artist, tossing homophobic slurs at the pair all the while. After being released from jail on Tuesday following a reduced charge from felony-grade to misdemeanor-grade assault, Brown has opted to announce his entry into anger management rehab, as reported by People.
The reports include a statement from Brown's rep, which says, "Chris Brown has elected to enter a rehab facility. His goal is to gain focus and insight into his past and recent behavior, enabling him to continue the pursuit of his life and his career from a healthier vantage point." Some might identify this as a direct contrast to Brown's past claims that he has moved on from his days of violence, or his attorney's affirmation that the singer committed "no crime" in this most recent incident.
But if Brown is truly looking to change, accepting after some unforeseen epiphany that he does have psychological maladies that require rehabilitation, then we must encourage that. As reluctant as we may be to forgive him, we should at least be eager to see this sort of behavior barred from happening again. But we're inclined, at least in part, to think the worst of this movie: maybe he's just trying to avoid jail time, a la Lindsay Lohan. Maybe he's trying to bolster his image. Maybe he's trying to build up an arsenal against future attacks on his proclivity for violence.
Hey, as long as it keeps him away from the rest of the world for a while.
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To title an episode "Helter Skelter" is to pack a heck of a lot of significance and general creepery into an episode without doing much. There's a lot of loaded meaning in the phrase—hello, Charles Manson!—but perhaps only the stage was set for such a coup. Will serial killers take over? Are secrets really that? What's scarier—love or fear? All these questions (and more!) are presented in tonight's new episode of Dexter.
Fear and love make you do crazy things, Dexter muses, and it's true. So many of our characters' actions tonight were influenced by both fear and love—sometimes even because of a fear OF love. Dexter is afraid he might love Hannah. Deb is afraid of her love for Dexter. Joey Quinn is afraid of what the Koshkas will make him do since they own the woman he loves. And Isaak Sirko? He's fearful of his imminent death, but not so afraid of love (it's arguably the one thing about him that makes sense). But does using the nonsensical nature of love excuse some of the nonsense we saw tonight? Only time will tell, but let's discuss in the meantime.
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Isaak is in hiding from the Koshka Brotherhood, who now want him dead—they're fearful of him and his uncontrollable blood lust for the life of Dexter Morgan. Vengeance is a dirty business when intertwined with human emotions. Oh, how the times have turned! Isaak sets up a plan with a contract killer—but for what? We never find out during this episode, but something tells us that even though Isaak doesn't end up killing Dexter Morgan, he hasn't given up his quest for vengeance all that easy. Isaak needs to stay alive for now, though, so he comes to Dexter's apartment to convince Dex to kill the men out to get him. Isaak is fearful; he will keep Dexter alive in return for killing the two men the Koshkas sent to snuff him out. But when Isaak cannot convince Dexter based on the welfare of his own life to comply, he brings Hannah into the fold: game, on.
When it comes to sibling relations, the Morgans are more f**ked up than the kids from Flowers in the Attic. Deb's clearly been avoiding Dexter; though we're not totally sure for how long. Apparently, Dexter thought Deb might have felt that way for awhile? (Say what?) And he thinks it's OK and makes sense (that she might be in love with him)? It's logical? Dexter. C'mon now. He compares Deb's love of him to his love of M&Ms. (Oh Dexy: you're so overly-logical, it's offensive.) But now, thanks to Hannah McKay and Isaak Sirko, he almost has a slight understanding of human emotions—at least a little bit. "You and I...we endure," he explains to Deb, attempting to quell her apprehensions over her confession. "Maybe that's what love is: endurance. Of course you think you're in love with me. ... It's logical. ... You're not crazy." Yeah, coming from a serial killer, though? Those words hold slightly less weight.
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Now that the tables have turned and Isaak Sirko is working with Dexter rather than against him, we finally get to see a few dead bodies. It feels like we haven't seen one of those in awhile (even though that's not true)! But it seems like what Isaak really wants is to understand, is the realDexter Morgan—which, is no small feat considering the man barely has a grasp on that himself.
While Hannah is doing her best impression of Black Snake Moan, Dexter is getting the nth degree from Isaak: "Why are you a killer?" Dexter cooly responds to Isaak's inquiries regarding why he kills (it's not a badge of honor with him) with a very logical statement: "my needs are different." Want more than that? Don't worry, Isaak, because if anything happens to Hannah McKay, you'll be the first to find out. Otherwise, you can just forget it. The man is an emotional iron curtain.
So now that Dexter is working with Isaak Sirko, the two hitmen out to get him are obviously toast. Never cross a serial killer's path, my dudes: this is your already-probably-pretty-obvious fair warning. Taking out the first hitman (Mickic) at the shooting range, and luring Caffrey to a Koshka boat for his death sentence, the kills in this episode were decidedly very un-Dexter—as these things have recently become over the past few episodes. Gone are the days of plastic wrap and body dismemberment. Dexter's killing this go-around is all about leaving evidence—evidence that will keep him (or rather, the Bay Harbor Butcher?) from being attached to the crime scenes. It's a pretty scary game you're playing, Dexter.
...Which is a great way to segue to LaGuerta's investigation into the Bay Harbor Butcher, and her theories that he's still alive. She meets up with former police Captain Tom Matthews to prove what she already (at least subconciously) knows: her list of suspects should be a heck of a lot shorter. At first, Matthews is all "ha ha, that's cute. I'm not helping you with anything!" but seeing an opportunity to bolster his campaign to get his 40-years-in-the-making pension back, he later agrees to help LaGuerta out. "That little list of yours? You'd be surprised about what i know about some of the names on it," Matthews explains. Oh snap, does he know that Dexter is a killer? Or is everyone at Miami Metro just a generally horrible person hiding all sorts of sordid secrets? Is that the big secret twist of this show? We'll have to wait and see! But seriously, LaGuerta knows that Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher. It's just a matter of time before this all explodes. It just sucks that we have to wait so long!
But one thing we we don't have to wait for? An emotional explosion: Quinn took care of that bit for us, the little hothead. You'd think the dirty cops would be able to keep it together a bit more! Trying to escape the clutches of the Koshka Brotherhood is hard, though, y'all! Especially when they can f**k your girlfriend. That's right, Quinn—don't forget that your girlfriend is still owned by these people. George reminded Quinn of this by sleeping with Nadia as a means to get back at Quinn for ignoring him. And, Quinn, being the level-headed dude that he is, promptly throws George through a glass wall and beats him up. Oh good! This will end well.
Ultimately, the episode wraps itself up quite neatly—tooneatly, if you ask me, but who is?—because Hannah ends up escaping Jurg's clutches: thanks to Deb's snooping at the behest of Dexter. Quinn lives to outrun the Koshkas another day. Deb has kept Dexter's love and his secret alive and well. And LaGuerta has signed herself up for help from Matthews.
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The biggest shocker of them all though? The death of Isaak Sirko. Yep, that's right! After all that—all the hitmen, all the treachery, all the work: for naught. George, shortly after Caffrey is killed, shows up on the boat and kills Isaak himself. (Never send an amateur to do a real man's job!) And instead of asking Dexter for medical help, he asks for the one thing that Dexter can give him that no one else can: a chance to rest in peace alongside his lover, Viktor. Dexter obliges in what was probably the nicest thing he's ever done. Wow, maybe these human emotions arehaving an effect on Dex.
The relationship between Isaak and Dexter has arguably been one of the most enriching and expounding ones we've seen in the series. Finally, we see Dexter being pushed in a more human direction—Isaak was always insistent on asking the questions that other people wouldn't. "Death has always calmed me. ... It's predictable," Dexter explains when asked why he kills. "I feel like I don't have any control, and I don't know if I want to move on," Isaak explains when Dexter questions him right back. "Was it worth it? those feelings for him that cost you everything?" Dex inquires. Of course, Isaak explains: "I never had to hide. I was finally..." "...alive." Isaak, in a glimmering moment of possibility for our serial killer, says what others have long only dreamed of: "There's hope for you yet." If anyone's taught him anything, it's not Hannah McKay or Deb, it's Isaak Sirko. The two really were peas in a pod. It'll be interesting to see what Dexter does with his lifetime's worth of realizations now that Isaak is gone.
"Maybe you can be fine with being the cause of someone else's death but I can't," Deb declares. "That's not who I am." She is, of course, talking to Hannah McKay in a moment that was probably supposed to show a shift in Deb (her whole "I'm going to do things for myself rather than Dexter" schpeal was just not at all believable). The biggest emotional revelation? Dexter's acceptance of the chaos over logic when it comes to human emotions. While visiting a recovering Hannah, he snuggles in close (yes, Dexter actually SNUGGLED another human being) and says "...maybe that's how it's supposed to be. Out of my control" he says. "All I know is that when I'm with you I feel...safe." Only a serial killer could find solace and safety in another serial killer!
What did you think of this week's episode? Let us know in the comments!
[Photo Credit: Showtime]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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Do you remember the first time that you heard Rihanna's hit "Umbrella?" I do. I was in a tiny little bar in Munich, Germany in the summer of 2007 when the Barbadian singer's voice started blasting out from the loudspeakers. That night, I headed back to my hostel with a happy buzz and a hot, new tune stuck in my head. And guess what? It remained that way for the rest of the summer.
While "Umbrella" wasn't Rihanna's first big hit — it was released on her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad and "SOS," her first big-league single, dropped the year before on the album A Girl Like Me — it did turn me into a Rihanna fan. Now, five years later, I am anxiously awaiting the release of Rihanna's seventh studio album (which is rumored to be called 7 Wonders). And while it's not set to drop until November, my Rihanna thirst has been quenched with the release of her new single, "Diamonds."
If you were a fan of Rihanna's "We Found Love," then you are probably going to take to this new single instantly. "Diamonds" starts out with a melody that can easily be compared to that of "We Found Love" — and the melody carries on throughout the song. The beats for "Diamonds," though, do go a bit slower than "We Found Love." But, Rihanna's undeniable epic rhythm can still be found in this single.
Vocally, Rihanna is as strong as ever in this new love ballad — and the lyrics only add to bolster the singer's musical talents. You can clearly hear the passion that Rihanna pours into this song. It's as if her heart is crying out for her loved one (hopefully not Chris Brown) when she sings lines like, "When you hold me, I'm alive," or "At first site I felt the energy of sun rays / I saw the life inside your-eyes."
And whether or not Rihanna is serenading about Brown in this latest single, the fact is that she definitely has another hit on her hands. They are already blasting the song on the radio — I even heard it on my breakfast break playing over the speakers in the cafe where I order my ritual ice tea. Now, all I need to do is put this song on Spotify replay for the rest of the day.
You can listen to "Diamonds" below and read the lyrics on the singer's new website Rihanna7.com, that launched Tuesday.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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As the Tom Cruise vehicle Knight and Day failed to live up the lofty box-office standards that controversial actor is known for, insiders raised the question of whether Paramount Pictures would be forced to pursue some kind of Shia LaBeouf-type to revitalize their upcoming Mission: Impossible 4 and to bolster the franchise against Cruise's newfound box office anathema. Now, after some two months of speculation, it will be announced that Jeremy Renner, the Oscar-nominated star of The Hurt Locker, has been picked to inject some new blood into the 14-year-old franchise.
Paramount chose Renner to co-star with Tom Cruise after a prolonged search that included planned screen-tests for a number of young actors, including Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Kevin Zegers, Christopher Egan, and Anthony Mackie. However, Deadline is now reporting that the studio has officially canceled its remaining screen-tests and has set the somewhat older Hurt Locker star for the series' fourth installment.
M:I4 will mark the second major role Renner has landed after his critically hailed turn as reckless adrenaline-junkie Sergeant William James in 2008. The 39-year-old actor is currently set to play Hawkeye in Marvel Studio's upcoming superhero ensemble flick The Avengers, with director Joss Whedon. He also has a supporting role in Ben Affleck's The Town, which debuts next month.
According to Deadline, Renner will be groomed to take over the franchise should Cruise cease to be the films' central protagonist. Though Cruise is still expected to return for a fifth Mission: Impossible, studio execs wanted a new co-star to act as an insurance policy for the billion dollar franchise. Production chief Adam Goodman said that Renner had "a Daniel Craig quality" that the studio felt would be bankable in the long run.
Ratatouille and The Incredibles director Brad Bird will direct from a script by Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, with M:I:3 director JJ Abrams returning to produce alongside Cruise. Mission: Impossible 4 is set to begin production this fall on location in the U.S., Vancouver, Prague and Dubai.