Week after week, it gets tougher to drum up something to say about New Girl. It's not because the episodes have been overwhelmingly bad; they are simply far less interesting than they used to be. At the show's onset, New Girl was a subtle (relatively) play on gender politics. Somewhere in the second half of the first season, we became surprisingly adhered to the characters and got deeper, heavier episodes about the likes of Nick and Schmidt (we've yet to see Winston's transformative episode, and I don't think we ever will). But themes have waned, stories have tempered, and Season 3 on the whole has been a good deal less insightful than its preceding years. But the biggest crime is that the jokes just aren't working anymore.
You can see where New Girl is trying to pack its funny: there's a quick scene in this week's episode, "Exes," that shows a lonely Schmidt shouting playfully into his cavernous refrigerator at a bowl of elusive grapes, breaking down in tears moments later as he eats them. The joke is not very dissimilar from a Season 2 beauty that saw Nick giving life to a dish of nuts before he too erupted into hysterics. Maybe it's because we saw a near identical gag enacted by the superior comedian Jake Johnson, but something about the Schmidt/grapes routine (which should, for all intents and purposes, be the episode's best laugh) just feels forced.
The plot of the episode isn't much better: Nick's ex-girlfriend Caroline (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, from days of New Girl past) has gone bananas over the idea that Nick and Jess are now dating, accusing their relationship of spawning from an act of infidelity on Nick's part and losing all sense of logical control. If we remember correctly, Caroline was never... psychotic. The show did hint that she might have been on the selfish side, but we didn't understand her to be the sort of character who'd stalk and attack her ex-boyfriend years after the conclusion of their relationship over the presumption that he might have cheated. What gives, New Girl?
So, to resolve the issue, Jess phones her own ex Berkley (Adam Brody), with whom she has maintained a close friendship... a friendship that Nick insists is fueled by Berkley's lasting desire to sleep with Jess. Of course he is proven right in the sort of cartoonish twist that sitcoms like this love to pull with ostensibly earnest characters like Berkley. But without many a laugh throughout the story (Brody does deliver a couple of good jokes, his send-off line being my favorite) it is all quite predictable, and all to very little end.
That little end of which I speak involves Nick's revelation that he has been in love with Jess since the day he met her. He admits this to Jess and Caroline in order to clear the air and woo the viewing audience. Sure, it's sweet, but doesn't pack the same oomph that New Girl always used to. Maybe it's because Nick, as we've known him, has been a character defined by his failure. His driving force was his desperation, and we watched him so vigorously to see if he might grab at a scrap of happiness or self-worth one of these days. Now that things are working out peachy for him, we don't really know what to do. We're glad for Nick and all, but the show suffers.
Across the hall, the gags are multiplied, in the Three's Companiest way possible. Schmidt, Coach, and Winston all aim to use Schmidt's loft to seduce strange women (in two cases that "strange" means "unfamiliar to them," in Winston's it just means "weird" — Bertie's back!), going by false names, mixing up their bedrooms, and enacting as many other screwball playboy highjinks as you can imagine. It has its moments, though a New Girl in its prime could have done wonders with this idiotic plot. Still, it is a good showcase of the occasionally overshadowed talents of Damon Wayans Jr. (who is so funny that he earns a hearty chuckle with the throwaway line, "Don't drink the water by the bed, it's got my contacts in it") and Lamorne Morris ("I am Frank Skabopolis! ... Is this helping?").
While New Girl hasn't entirely lost its charms, we aren't seeing the old magic that made it occasionally uproarious and occasionally quite sensitive. Falling in the realm of "passable" in both sections, we get an episode like "Exes." Not bad, but not the best New Girl can do... we hope.
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If you enjoy the robot-on-robot action the Transformers films have brought to theaters, you're anticipating what new characters will make an appearance in this summer's Age of Extinction.
He's the most frightening Transformer of all. Unicron is a robotic planet that eats other planets. The monster transcends Autobot and Decepticon as he is a threat to everything in existence.
Unicron made his debut in The Transformers: The Movie, the 1986 animated adaptation. Voiced by the legendary Orson Welles, Unicron was and is the ultimate bad guy in the Transformers universe. There is a strong possibility he is the antagonist in Michael Bay's newest sequel.
The new leader of the Decepticons is actually the old leader. A defeated and near-dead Megatron was transformed to Galvatron, a shinier, newer and more destructive robot. His creator? Unicron.
Does this sound familiar? Wasn't Megatron decapitated at the end of Dark of the Moon? If Unicron is in Age of Extinction, there is a good chance we could see Galvatron as well.
True, we have already technically seen two Devastators in Bay's films. The first one was a random tank in film one and the second was a massive combination of construction vehicles in Revenge of the Fallen that couldn’t move.
We need a Devastator more faithful to the original. A fearsome, overpowering robot that makes Autobots nervous at the mere mention of it being around.
He's the least accepted Autobot simply because he took over the leadership void left by Optimus Prime after he died in the 1986 movie. Hot Rod actually did a good job. But he's not leadership material.
Hot Rod answered the call when necessary. In Bay's films, Hot Rod could be a valuable asset to Autobots in need since so many major ones have died throughout the years.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
Public perception of Tom Cruise is usually negative, at least in the United States. As a performer, Cruise still gets it done on the big screen, but American audiences haven't been as forgiving for his couch jumping and religious beliefs. But the truth is that his movies are at the very least good. The rest of the world eats up his movies, inflating his box office numbers and his ego. And Cruise still runs very fast.
Last year's Oblivion looked like a failure if you examine the U.S. numbers. It had a budget of $120 million (very modest by blockbuster standards), yet raked in a little more than $89 million on American soil. A failure, right? In the USA, yes. Worldwide, a big hell no. The rest of the world loves Cruise. Oblivion cashed in 68.9 percent of its total in foreign markets to the tune of more than $197 million.
So how much longer can Cruise sustain his movie star career? Obviously, he's not completely fading away. With so much foreign success, studios would be foolish to completely dismiss him. The Mission Impossible and Jack Reacher franchises have sequels planned. And what about Top Gun 2? Audiences should flock to that based on principle alone. As long as Cruise maintains his physique, loves acting and continues to cash paychecks, quality movies will continue. Who didn't like Collateral? The Last Samurai? Even Knight and Day wasn't bad. Really, it wasn't. Cruise's star power has plenty of life, although as he ages, he probably won't want to do as much running.
I guess my TV is going to be my date for Valentine's Day this year. Well, my TV and the surprisingly playful, smoldering, sociopathic, sexual stare of Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey). Netflix announced via the first teaser trailer for the second season of House of Cards that the binge-worthy show we'll be coming back on Feb. 14, 2014 in its 13-episode entirety.
The 30-second trailer is a black-and-white shot of Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) calmly smoking a cigarette. Any show that can pull off 30-seconds of a character doing basically nothing and still get its audience excited for the upcoming season, is a show worth watching (and the nine Emmy nominations it received can back that statement up).
According to TVLine, during Season 2 we will see "Francis and Claire Underwood continue their ruthless rise to power as threats mount on all fronts. Zoe Barnes, an up-and-coming reporter and Francis’s former paramour, is inching closer to the truth about his crimes. President Walker’s billionaire confidante Raymond Tusk demands that Francis reciprocate political favors or face retribution. And Claire must confront the increasing glare of the spotlight as it eats away at her and Francis’s once private existence. The Underwoods must overcome these dangers — past and present — to avoid losing everything, regardless of collateral damage they leave in their wake." Nothing like some good old mind games, ruthless power plays, and oddly comforting southern talking-head shots on the most romantic day of the year.
But you know what? Now that I've talked it all out, this might be the best Valentine's Day I could have asked for. Cheers, Francis. It's going to be one helluva night.
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Guy Fieri showcases the diverse eats of the Big Apple in the Best of New York episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Do yourself a favor: don't count calories.
John's of 12th Street Italian Restaurant
A patron mentions that this place looks like it would be in a Martin Scorsese movie. The Italian food is authentic and just watching it should cause you to salivate just a little. Featured dishes include veal meatballs (loaded with flavor: bread crumbs, milk, eggs, scallions, pecorino cheese, caramelized onions, Worcestershire sauce, basil, dried oregano, minced garlic) and making their own pasta from scratch. None of this out-of-the-box stuff.
Defonte's Sandwich Shop
A plethora of meats and cheeses are housed in this deli that cranks out New York heroes — about 200 or 300 of them a day. Give these guys credit, they make their own mozzarella. That cheese complements their massive sandwiches. Guy tries the steak pizzaiola sandwich and burns his mouth biting into the melted mozzarella. Totally worth it though.
The Smoke Joint
With that name you know it must be serving up barbeque. The main dish is an eye opener: killer short ribs that look like they're straight out of Jurassic Park. A nine-ingredient sauce spruces up the dinosauric ribs. There is nothing short about these short ribs; you won’t be left hungry. The Smoke Joint also serves buffalo wings, spicy pork links, pulled pork sandwiches and other delicious food that will have you reaching for wet napkins constantly. Standard napkins need not apply.
It specializes in Southern comfort food (not the alcohol Southern Comfort, although why would you want food drenched in that swill?). The featured menu item here is pretzels. Obviously, they are not the junky pretzels you buy in a bag or on the street corner. Great detail is put into forming these delicious pretzels. A mean beer cheese sauce is the pretzel's tag team partner. Initially, Guy doesn’t think the ramekin of sauce would be enough. He is proven wrong as its thickness and flavor provide plenty of cheesy and beer-y sustenance.
Pies 'n' Thighs
A mega-sized doughnut shines at this place. A pecan butter crunch doughnut is on the menu. Toffee and pecan are crunched up to coat the fried dessert. Guy claims it weighs three pounds. Although it’s never actually weighed, the doughnut looks plenty dense and packed with calories. It does look like it'll increase your waistline, but come on, it's a doughnut. There’s no such thing as a healthy doughnut. And if there is, don't eat it! Eat one at Pies 'n' Thighs, you'll enjoy yourself.
This 1940s Jewish deli specializes in kreplach, dumplings stuffed with brisket. Guy tries the fried kreplach and boiled version in soup. Naturally, he enjoys it. How awkward would it be for Guy to go to a location and make sour faces as he eats? Corned beef, beef tongue and stuffed cabbage also feature prominently at Ben's Best. The stuffed cabbage is a real mouthful. You get two meat-filled stuffed cabbages. Enjoy.
Rockers Kings Of Leon are set to indulge their love of a good meal by hosting a food festival in their hometown of Nashville, Tennessee next month (Sep13). Bandmembers Caleb and Nathan Followill have teamed up with chef Jonathan Waxman to co-host the Music City Eats festival, which will showcase some of the city's top chefs while bands perform live music.
The weekend event will also feature the Petty Fest Nashville, an all-star celebration of the music of Tom Petty, hosted by Kings Of Leon at Nashville's War Memorial Auditorium. They will perform alongside Emmylou Harris and Norah Jones.
Waxman says, "A few years ago, Caleb Followill quietly slipped into my restaurant Barbuto in New York, and we bonded over food and music, and throughout our many conversations, he kept asking why there wasn't a food and wine festival in his hometown of Nashville. We are inviting some truly amazing chefs from around the country, and most importantly, the best chefs and restaurants in Nashville. I am extremely excited by our shindig, and the Kings and I can't wait until September rolls around."
Music City Eats will take place from 21 to 22 September.
So after Disney invested nearly $250 million — and a whole lot of franchise hopes — into it, The Lone Ranger is likely going to be just that: a one-off, underperforming misfire instead of the springboard for an enduring movie series. There are a lot of reasons why the Johnny Depp-Armie Hammer actioner fizzled. Did the much-coveted teen male demographic have any built-in interest in a property that's best known as a TV series that debuted in 1949? Probably not. But oddly enough, if director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer had followed the template set by that TV series, starring Clayton Moore as the masked avenger and Jay Silverheels as his Native American companion Tonto, they might have made a more successful movie. Here are six reasons why the 64-year-old TV series is better than the new film.
1. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Really Are Equals
People think that Silverheels' Tonto is just a sidekick in the original series. But from the very beginning he was the Lone Ranger's true partner. They were equally competent and enhanced each other's strengths, offering up an ideal of Anglo-Native American cooperation and harmony that obviously never happened but is a utopian vision worth striving for — especially considering the tendency of many other Westerns of the time to glorify the genocide of the Native Americans. But for that vision to ring true, the Lone Ranger can't be a bland doofus, the way he is in Verbinski's film. He can't be dragged through horse manure. The mere fact that Depp is credited above the title, before Hammer, shows that the Lone Ranger isn't even as important as Tonto in this take on the characters.
2. The Pilot Gets Right Into the Drama
Verbinski's film offers up a framing device in which the story of the Lone Ranger is being retold by an ancient Tonto in 1933. But the pilot episode of the original series, "Enter the Lone Ranger," gets right into the drama. Six Texas Rangers are led into a canyon where they're massacred by Butch Cavendish's gang — within the first five minutes of the plot.
3. It Doesn't Linger Over Personal Revenge
One man, John Reid, survives and crawls away to safety before being rescued by Tonto, just as Reid had saved Tonto many years ago. We learn later that his brother was one of the Rangers gunned down alongside him, but the "This Time...It's Personal" dynamic of Reid's journey toward becoming the Lone Ranger in the movie, doesn't exist in the show. Cavendish is evil, but not the kind of guy who actually eats the heart of Reid's brother. The idea of fighting for justice, to bring order out of chaos, was satisfying enough.
4. ...But It Doesn't Skimp on the Brutality
When the posse of Texas Rangers are gunned down in the pilot episode, Cavendish's men inspect each one, kicking over their cold corpses with their boots then leaving them out in the sun without any proper burial. Cavendish even shoots Collins, the man who helped lead the Rangers into the trap, in the back, to get rid of him as a witness. This is the archetypal template for much of today's superheroes: a tragedy-scarred survivor haunted by his past fights for a world in which such chaos isn't possible. But in the movie, the brutality against the Rangers isn't as ruthlessly mechanical, it's cartoonishly over the top (again, the eating of the heart). And when the cavalry are massacring the Comanches, senseless slaughter is glossed over by the Lone Ranger and Tonto's gallivanting around. The violence is more extreme, yet somehow less consequential.
5. There Isn't a Supernatural Element
In the movie, Reid is actually brought back from the dead by a "spirit walker," according to Tonto, meaning that he can't be killed in battle. But in the TV show, he's really just nursed back to health. He didn't need to have supernatural ability or blessing to be formidable, only his convictions.
6. The Lone Ranger Was Vulnerable
Fran Striker, who created the Lone Ranger for radio in 1933, decreed that his adventures always had to be realistic. The Ranger couldn't win against impossible odds or flee a hail of bullets by riding toward the horizon. That mantra applied to the TV show as well, meaning that the Ranger never found himself in the kind of over-the-top set pieces that are in the movie. It was attainable heroism. He could bleed, he could nearly be killed, but you believed you could be him. That's not a fantasy Verbinski's film offers its audience.
For a taste of what this great Western mythos was originally like, check out the pilot episode of The Lone Ranger TV series from Sept. 15, 1949 below.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt | Follow Hollywood.com on Twitter @Hollywood_com
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You know that there are those words or phrases in life that you just can't stand to listen to people say for whatever reason? Mine are things like "gift certificate," "cool beans," and "Yummie Tummie." There is a new one we need to add to the litany: "Wine by Wives." God, I hate it. It just sounds like some sort of spirit made by women in pastel dresses with high bangs and long braids crushing grapes in moldy bins somewhere in the Utah desert. It sounds like something having to do with the Duggars. I think the other problem is that we just heard it over and over and over last night from Tamra. God, if those three words were peroxide, she'd never have to touch up her roots ever again.
Everyone piled into some limos for a wine-tasting trip up on Malibu, a region that is as well known for their wines (and their wives!) as Mississippi is for its racial tolerance. Yes, Malibu wines are famous. They're like Rita Ora: you've heard of them, probably, but you have no idea what they are and then when you find out, you wish you didn't know in the first place. Then, when they get to the "vineyard" there is just two card tables with plywood covering them set up in a dusty parking lot. "Where are the grapes?" Vicki asks? "Oh, they're not in season right now," the owner of the Grifter Vineyard says to the collection of people standing on the other side of some boards he picked up that morning from next to a Dumpster on a construction site. "Yeah, we just harvested all the grapes and, um, it makes the ground really fertile if you just remove the entire plant and start over again next year. That's how we get our best wine."
Later, after sitting around at brunch and drinking stuff that is not wine, they went to a shack on the side of the road with some benches out in front. It looked like the General Store in Urinetown or maybe an abandoned Cracker Barrel that this fake vineyard rented out so the Housewives would have some place to guzzle booze and pretend like it was for work.
And it was work, at least for Tamra and Vicki, who were supposedly shopping for their Wines by Wives (ugh) which is sort of like QVC for the Franzia enthusiast. I don't even know what Wines By Wives is. It's stupid. It's some dumb wine club so that these two can try to build their own Skinny Girl empire from nothing at all. Tamra says that Vicki isn't doing enough work on WBW because she's too busy building Vicki's Vodka, a bathtub swill that eats through the paper of a Dixie Cup if you try to make Jell-O shots out of it. Yes, Vicki is working on that and not WBW, which has its own office in a ratty office park now. Tamra has a desk there. It is a real place. And these Real Housewives do not monkey around with the adjective "real." Oh no. Vicki left early to go to some dinner party with "Pookie an' 'em" and Tamra was like, "You don't do anything," and Vicki was like "Yeah huh!" and Tamra was like "Nuh uh," and Vicki was like "Whatever," and Tamra was like "Bitch," and Vicki was like "Excuse me?" and I was like "ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz." This is a stupid fight.
What has Gretchen done this season? Well, nothing. What did Gretchen do this episode? Well, nothing. Oh, I take that back. She did do something. She dressed wildly inappropriately for every occasion. First she showed up at wine tasting weekend wearing a black and white stripped top and these big billowy pants. It was basically the same exact thing that every backup dancer in every R&B video from the '90s wore. I'm shocked that BuzzFeed has yet to write a post of The 74 Black and White Striped Spandex Tops from '90s Music Videos. Yes, Gretchen looked like she was about to Shoop, shoop e doop, shoop e doop, shoop a doop a doop a doop all over that "vineyard."
Then, the next day, at the farm stand that was doubling as a wine emporium and fleece jacket seller (because nothing goes with wine like a shitty fleece jacket) Gretchen shows up in this long, magenta evening gown. She rolls up to the bar and everyone else is sitting around on rickety stools dressed in their finest sweats and muu-muus like they're going to a tailgate party for a minor league baseball team. Then there's Gretchen, dressed like Malibu Barbie. Well, they are in Malibu, but it's not like they're at some fancy beach mansion. She looks like a Malibu Barbie that got left out in the mud. Oh Gretchen, get a story why don't you.
Speaking of needing to get a story, so do Heather and Terry. I'm sorry if they're having real trouble in their marriage, but their whole fight over something stupid seems, well, stupid. It seems like they're both acting and they made up this whole dispute so that there's a reason to put them on camera. I will say though, if Terry is acting, he's doing a really good job, because he was annoying the living beJim Bellino out of me when they were having a fight in their bathroom/clothing mausoleum. (PS – Why on earth does Heather Dubrow have large glass containers of purple M&Ms and sticks of rock candy in her bathroom? Isn't that the worst place to have candy, next to the place where you shit and where Terry annoying clips his toenails while half listening to you?)
Terry was just being a jerk then and not paying attention to her while she was trying to seriously discuss an issue and then he nitpicked her little speech about all she does for the kids and says, "Did you say tutor twice?" which seemed like a line that they scripted beforehand, but if it was real, I would have given him a pistol whipping with my scrotum (because I am a man, unlike Heather) and then packed all his spread collar shirts in a bag, taken a huge dump in them, lit the bag on fire, and then thrown it out of the second story window onto his car below. I mean, seriously, Terry.
Later at boozy wine brunch Terry brings up that they have been fighting and says that he "said some things" that he regrets and tries to leave it at that. Oh, silly Terry, tact is for kids! These are Real Housewives, they are going to ask for every damn dirty detail and then tell you what they think about that. It is in their contract. That is what they do. Finally he tells them that he said "the d word." At first I thought he meant "dong," because, where I come from, that is the only d word. Apparently he meant "divorce," but whatever. That's dumb. See! Another d word.
Actually Vicki did have some nice things to say about fighting with Donn and both of his Ns and how they would say the "divorce" word how each time the did it was like a brick and that built a wall between them that ruined their marriage. It was actually very sweet, real, honest advice from Vicki. For one minute I could excuse everything she does and just think about a brick wall being built in front of her, piece by piece until she couldn't breath anymore. I thought of the "Cask of Amontillado" and, well, that brought me great joy.
Lydia didn't really do anything this episode either except wear ridiculous things on her head. I don't know how she keeps all these giant hats on with her tiny little chicken carcass neck, but she does. Oh, does she ever. The only other thing that Lydia did was seem pretty awesome. She showed up at the Malibu Wine Fiesta with a get well card her son made for Slade's son after he heard about his illness and surgery. Sure, this might have been prompted by mommy, but was a really sweet gesture. Later, when Vicki was whining by wives about how she was the only single gal on the couple's trip, Lydia and her husband, Hunky Doug the 13th Apostle, offered to let Vicki stay with them. Aw, it was really sweet. Right now I'm inclined to think that Lydia is a smart, giving Christian woman and she really means these things. I will continue to think that, but I have a feeling I am going to be proven wrong soon.
That just leaves us with Alexis. She did not go on the trip because Tamra would rather chew piece of gum she pulled off the toe of a shoe that she's been wearing in the dirt than spend two minutes with Alexis. Ms. Bellino, who is nasty, instead had to open the SkyZone Trampoline Amusement Park and Christian Science Reading Room, with her husband, our lord and savior Jim Bellino. Oh, he was so excited for his new business. "This is going to be one of the top SkyZones," he said in the car. Yes, that is the great thing about Jim Bellino's business. It's just a franchise. It's a kids' birthday party trampoline park franchise. He didn't even think up the idea or design it or anything. He just got the money together. That's sort of like opening a KFC and telling everyone you're Col. Sanders.
But Alexis stood there at the front of the SkyZone. She was like Mrs. Sanders, with her giant cardboard scissors putting on her smiling face and pretending to be happy for her husband. She thought about those women all those miles away surely getting in a fight, thinking about how mean and awful she is and, well, she kind of missed it. While it was torture, it was also independence. It was her thing. It was everything she brought to the table. She stood there for a moment and thought that she could run out into the parking lot and hop into a limo and be up in Malibu to get in a squabble by sundown. But she didn't. Jim came over and asked if she was OK and smoothed his hand down her back. "Yeah, I'm fine," she said, her blank look turning into a fake smile. "I'm just so happy to be here."
Follow Brian Moylan on Facebook and Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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Kate Upton, you just became my new favorite person. Not only are you gorgeous in a friendly way (it makes sense, just think about it), you are a down-to-earth, refreshing specimen of a human. Bravo, lady.
Upton, who skyrocketed from unknown Florida bikini model to Sports Illustrated superstar, proved she isn't the average weight-obsessed model in an interview in June's issue of Vogue. "It was hard at first ... You sit there and you’re like 'Is something wrong with me?'" says Upton, regarding the rampant Internet conversations surrounding the question "Is Kate Upton fat?"
The gorgeous blonde is blessed with an ample bosom, something that apparently makes her detractors think she's "large," rather than seeing her as the glowing, shapely, extremely womanly lady she is. And it's the conclusion that this bombshell came to after the completely expected bout of self-doubt that sets Upton apart as a star who simply gets it.
"The things that they’re rejecting are things that I can’t change. I can’t change my bra size. They're natural! I can work out and I can stay healthy and motivated, but I can't change some things. I really just live my life. I love my body. It's what God gave me! I feel confident with myself, and if that inspires other women to feel confident with their bodies, great," she says.
The cover girl does, of course, mention in the interview that because of her profession as a model, she's got to eat healthy. She steers towards chicken and fish, and when asked about whether or not she eats those messy Carl's Jr. burgers she so sexily advertized, Upton was upfront: "No, I can't do that." But the difference is that, unlike other girls (we're looking at you, Blake Lively) who claim they still eat greasy food and baked goods on the regular, Upton is candid about the nature of her job. Her job requires a certain appearance, and she works to maintain that. In a way, admitting that she doesn't eat cheeseburgers, is almost refreshing.
And that's because it helps highlight that Upton isn't on some tirade. She's not out to become the leader for the curvaceous women of the world. She's not even out to become a role model. And in that way, she inadvertently becomes an even better role model for other women and girls who question their God-given shapes. Upton is just living her life and accepting her (wonderful) body the way it is, even if some minds in the modeling world can't seem to wrap themselves around her alluring curves. She's not promoting this to become everyone's celebrity best friend; she's just doing her thing and being proud of her body. And that is exactly what every woman should be able to do.
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What happens when you're a hyper-intelligent murderperson looking for an easily malleable friend/potential fellow murderperson and he just so happens to be under the thumb of someone else? Break them up, of course! And it seems like that's exactly what Dr. Hannibal Lecter is trying to do with our dear Will Graham, being pushed and pulled dangerously close to the edge by Agent Jack Crawford. On Thursday night's episode of Hannibal, attempting to awaken the beast within, Hannibal tried to become the cancer that eats away at Will's control.
Cancer and its machinations played heavily into the stories of all our characters tonight. Diagnosis sends them all into tailspins: Is it a dream? Can it be cured? And if we pretend it doesn't exist, will it just go away? Or is cancer (metaphorical or otherwise) just the ultimate end to us all, and we just simply choose when to accept it?
The episode that was originally intended to air today was pulled due to its content, but you can find anything pertinent you need to know about it here — and its character development between Abigail, Will, and Hannibal are to prove vital to the series later on. But for now, we have "Coquilles": another word with French origins (meaning "shell") that is also a dish typically made with scallops, served in its shell. And shells, as we all know, protect the scallop within (the meat of the animal). Will has a shell around him and Hannibal is hell-bent on cracking it open and ripping it off. In time.
Following the events of "Ceuf" (which... I think they meant oeuf; French for "egg") Will begins sleepwalking. Hannibal believes this is a sign of PTSD wielded by the relentless iron first of Jack Crawford. Throughout Hannibal and Will's interactions, Jack is constantly positioned as the aggressor and impetus for Will's own mental unraveling. But while Will clearly knows all this murder business is no good for him, he's also not an idiot and recognizes that Hannibal is trying to alienate him from Jack.
Jack, meanwhile, has a mess of things going on in his life: there's a new killer on the loose (we'll get to him later), he's aware of Will's apprehension about continuing this line of work, and his wife Phyllis (whom he calls Bella) is acting strange. But Jack's story almost builds him up to be the hero starring in a Greek tragedy — his fatal flaw (cue Tina Fey in Mean Girls: "I'm a pusher, Cady. I push people!") is what is causing all the stress in his life. Pressure to keep solving all these crimes weighs largely on him (even though we don't see it on screen) and Will is the key to his success, delicate mental state de damned! It's what has gotten him this far in his career, but also what pushes people away.
Bella has cancer. And she's known for twelve weeks. But she won't tell Jack as she is currently in the resentment stage of their relationship. Because Jack has too much to worry about to worry about her. Or so she tells Hannibal. After one of the creepier dinner scenes on the show wherein Dr. Lecter actually SMELLS HER CANCER ON HER, Bella becomes a patient of his in order to work through her own feelings about having stage four lung cancer. Which seem to be pretty morbid, but dance so well against Hannibal's own thoughts about human life.
"I have indignity to look forward to, don’t I?" Bella asks Hannibal, which, ha, right? Something tells me that if Bella didn't have cancer, she would've ended up on Hannibal's table in his next iteration of the "foie gras" dish he served the Crawfords at dinner that she wouldn't eat. Too cruel a meal, she says (oh and if she only KNEW), even with the "ethical butcher" Hannibal employs. He doesn't believe in animal cruelty, but no one said anything about cruelty towards humanity, right?
The word "cruel" is brought up again in Bella and Hannibal's therapy session, where Hannibal notes her anger towards her husband. "You seem more betrayed by Jack than your own body," he states. That's because humans have the capacity for cruelty, whereas "cancer isn’t cruel." No, cancer is just "a tiny cell wanders off … it's just trying to do its job," but that job only makes things worse. In a lot of ways, this is exactly what Jack is doing — a liver cell (interesting that it's a liver cell, eh?!), just trying to do his job without realizing he's slowly killing other people in the process.
Cancer continues its thread through the episode in the madness of this week's serial killer, Elliot. Poor Elliot. I mean, sure, he's a total murderperson, but he also has a brain tumor, which is both slowly killing him and also driving him insane. In a move pulled straight out of Dexter, though, he murders only those that he sees are bad — a serial rapist here, a criminal security guard there — through his firehead visions. He sees their madness, and in his madness we see Will. Oh empathy, you really are a form of madness, aren't you?
Seriously, though. Throughout the episode Will's mental stability is called into question. Hannibal wonders if Will's sleepwalking means he's lost control. He wonders aloud if Will is having a hard time dealing with aggressive feelings. Will wonders if he's even awake, if his brain is a trustworthy companion. I wager that Will is starting to have some weird feelings about who Hannibal really is (why else would he be so bold and turn Hannibal's question around on him to ask about his own mother in "Ceuf"?), but he can't tell if the madness is within him or all around him. Probably because Dr. Lecter's personality seems wildly duplicitous — I mean he really does have two sides to him. Madness shared by two! It all comes together, folks.
But madness has many forms, and according to the FBI on the scene, "madness slept here last night." The continued parallels between Will and the killers he captures is a fascinating one. It would be easy to grow tired of it, but so far, showrunner Bryan Fuller has towed the line well. And in Elliot, we see more of Will than ever before: he has a serious case of the flop sweats, indigestion (of the righteous variety, natch), can't sleep. Which is why he makes these bad people into angels! To watch over him while he sleeps: they're his guardians. They pray over him when he sleeps, but his actions also prey on him while he sleeps — yet another parallel to Will and how his own thoughts and feelings about those thoughts prey on his mind when he sleeps. Fuller wants to you see ALL of the parallels guys — are you gettin' 'em?
But Elliot's madness seems to be a byproduct of the brain tumor that's killing him. It's an anomaly in his head, changing the way he thinks (gee golly gosh could that apply to a few people here on this show?). The rest of the FBI crew think Elliot is playing God, but Will knows that's not the case. "This is not who you are," Will states during his empathetic trip into Elliot's mind at the scene of the crime. "This is my gift to you. I allow you to become angels. And now, I lay me down to sleep." He's turning these bad people into something "good," angels, and in turn absolving them of their own madness in order to help the madness of others.
Elliot's ex-wife comes in for questioning and reveals that our troubled murderperson had a near-death experience as a child that he, by all accounts, shouldn't have survived. A fireman on the scene said he must've had a guardian angel on his side. But now, near death, Elliot is frantically searching for his guardian angel to save him from his own brain. He needs an angel to pray for him because he’s afraid of what he sees.
So it seems like maybe there is a God Complex at play here, eh? Despite Elliot's wife's assertions that he wasn't religious (and really, do you have to be to think you're God?). But in her words, two things are realized: 1.) The farm where Elliot grew up is where they will find him strung up like an angel himself, and 2.) Jack realizes his wife has cancer. Either way — rough stuff all around.
Will and Jack head up to the farm and see Elliot's final act: to become an angel himself and have control over his own death rather than a tiny anomaly in his brain controlling him. And it is interesting that at this moment Will finally attempts to assert control over his own life, as well.
"It’s getting harder and harder to look … and you know what looking at this does," Will nervously asserts. But Jack keeps pushing him (he really is a pusher, that one), and not even flat-out declaring "this is bad for me" seems to change Jack's mind. He leaves Will alone in the crime scene.
Which, of course, immediately leads to Will's overactive imagination to go into overdrive. The Angelized Elliot appears by Will's side and says, "I see what you are … inside. I can bring it out of you ... I can give you the majesty of your becoming." "Not all the way out," Will says. It might be there, brewing just below the surface, but that doesn't mean Will is ready to act on it. It's hard enough for will to be strong now, I can only imagine how much more these feelings will bubble, bubble, toil and trouble away while we watch our poor hero struggle through the season. It's a potent potion he's got on the stove there, eh?
Hannibal can tell something is brewing within Will, too — only this creepy motherf**ker can smell it on him. (Seriously, Mads, you're killing me with creepy on this show. I hate slash love it.) But that quick whiff sets off alarm bells for Will once he realizes its happening. He calls him out, but Hannibal asks about headaches, and insinuates they might have a simple remedy: "change the aftershave," Hannibal suggests. His musk...his mask...his own SHELL, perhaps? And it all comes full circle.
OK, I think we're sufficiently awake now. You?
Other Things to Note... - That moment when Will touches the stag statue in Hannibal's office was a wonderful way to show how Will's sleeping mind is actually trying to talk to him about what he sees when he's awake: "my brain is playing tricks on me." So awesome. He's slowly starting to wake up from the trance that Hannibal seems to have him under, though I think we still have a bit of time before that big unveiling.- Anyone else wonder about what's going on in Will's brain after Hannibal used his creepily accurate sense of smell on Will and asking if his headaches have gotten worse? - Beverly quotes The Doors' Jim Morrison and tries to relate him to Elliot by saying "even a drunk with a flare for the dramatic can believe himself to be God." Which: red wine + God complex + (Human) = Hannibal.- Also speaking of Beverly, homegirl either has a crush or is worried for Will. She recognizes he's "a little different" and that "it's a good strategy," but it doesn't work on her. Do we think he'll actually ever open up to her?- Sleeping in a sleeping back to stop sleepwalking is a real thing! Just ask Mike Birbiglia; he's made a career off the fact that he has to do just that because of his severe sleepwalking disorder.- We got a mention of next week's killer, The Chesapeake Ripper. I, for one am SO amped for Eddie Izzard to be on this show. And let me tell you: Fuller and Izzard need to work together way more often.
What did you think of this week's episode of Hannibal? take a stab at it in the comments.
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