Tag Archives: romance

Binge or No?: Netflix’s Original Series: Easy

(The following post will eventually be cross-posted at Agony Booth.com.  Please check out all the cool movie reviews and TV recaps they have there!)

Easy

Given the company’s recent decision to shift their business model away from previously-released films, and toward more original programming, I suspect we will be seeing a lot more “television series” like Easy on Netflix, in the near future. The show itself — an eight-episode compilation of VERY loosely related stories, each involving some aspect of sex and romantic relationships in the 21st century — struck me more as a slyly disguised abbreviated pilot season for the entertainment platform, than an actual comprehensive Season 1 of an ongoing television series.

easy-again

Each episode features an attractive, more or less likeable, cast of B minus / C+ list Hollywood actors going about the sexy business of their respective upper middle-class lives. Orlando Bloom, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, and Dave Franco are probably the most recognizable faces you will see in Easy, which should give you an idea of the level of “star power” you will find here. Though there are definitely other faces and voices you will recognize. In fact, I think most of the fun of Easy is trying to pinpoint the failed television series or supporting role in a romantic comedy that has caused you to remember the visage of a particular Easy cast mate.

easy-series-2

That being said, you’ve got to imagine that the good folks at Netflix created Easy under the assumption that one or more of the episodes would receive a more favorable review by critics than the others, and that cast and storyline can get its own show. (One cast of characters finds themselves at the forefront of two episodes in the series, while the rest of the work-a-day schlubs only get one a-piece). And hey, if none of the episodes end up being well-reviewed, well there is always the option for an Easy: Season 2, with an entirely different cast and story lines.

easy-series-3

As for the individual episodes themselves, I found most of them, if not particularly memorable, at least pleasant and inoffensive enough (except for one episode, in particular, which featured, WAY too much female body hair for my liking. But I think that’s just a matter of personal preference. Maybe y’all really like looking at body hair, while sitting on your couch eating your Saturday morning cereal breakfast!) I certainly didn’t despise any of the characters featured in Easy. And there definitely wasn’t an episode of the series I watched, where I found myself saying, “Wow, this is so awful. I have to turn this off.”

If anything, part of me wishes some of the episodes were MORE controversial. I didn’t particularly feel like Easy had anything new and groundbreaking to say about sex and romance in the 21st century. In fact, in a post- Sex and the City age, I feel like most sex-related topics, including many of the topics covered in this series, have become part of the television mainstream.

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So what sex topics are covered in Easy? You may be wondering. Well, in one episode, a forty-something husband and father struggles with the fact that his wife has recently become the breadwinner in the family, and that makes him feel sexually emasculated. In another, a lesbian couple tries to navigate a budding sexual relationship, despite the fact that the two lovers have vastly different recreational interests. In a third episode, a happily married couple attempts to spice up their relationship, by using a Tinder-type dating app to find themselves a companion for experimentation with menage a trois. In a fourth tale, a middle-aged graphic novelist famed for detailing his sexual escapades in his works is nonplussed, when his most recent, millennial, lover documents her rendezvous with him in a slightly more modern, and definitely more invasive, form of media. In still a fifth story, one half of a Spanish couple –who speak mainly in subtitles throughout the episode– (GASP!) has an extramarital affair with an old flame.

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These are all topics that, had they been featured in a television series, say ten, or maybe even five years ago, may have seemed taboo, or at least titillating, but now, come across as commonplace, at best, and a bit ho-hum, at worst.

Ironically, probably the best story of the bunch, which also happens to be the one featured twice in the series, is also the most chaste, sexually speaking. It’s the one about two brothers, one straight-laced, the other a stoner, who decide to open a bootleg bar and brewery together, much to the dismay of the more conservative brother’s very pregnant wife.

Easy

Easy

In sum, while I wouldn’t recommend you drop everything this instant, and binge-watch Easy in its entirety (I’m sure you have much more exciting things to do with your Saturday nights, like laundry or toilet bowl cleaning, for example.), it may be worth a try, if for no other reason than to brush up on your character actor recognition skills, and to try and predict which of the eight of the episodes is destined to become Netflix’s next original series . . .

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“We find them, and we kill them. We kill them ALL!” – A First Look at Teen Wolf Season 2

Wake up, Stiles!  It’s time for a new season . . . 

Last summer, MTV, home to “masterpieces” like Teen Mom and Real World: Season 265, surprised everyone, by taking a cheeseball 80’s movie starring Michael J. Fox, as the hairiest high school basketball star ever . . .

  . . . and turning it into a genuinely entertaining, smart, well-acted, and, at times, even downright scary, television drama series . . .

I mean, sure, at the beginning, most of us were just watching Teen Wolf for the pretty naked men.  Because, let’s face it, there was A LOT of that . . .

Source 

 

“Doctor, why am I wearing pants?  Don’t you know I appeal more to the 18-34 demographic without them?”

 . . . but somewhere along the way we actually started giving two craps about these characters . . . wondering what was going to happen to them, and guessing who the mysterious Alpha Wolf would end up being . . .

Source 

Hint:  It wasn’t This Guy . . .

Now, that the series is entering its sophomore season, the stakes are even higher for both its writers and actors.  No longer will Teen Wolf be blanketed under the protection of diminished expectations

No longer will the mere promise of gratuitous images of Tyler Hoechlin’s abs, be enough to keep us coming back for more . . .

OK, that’s a lie . . . I’d totally watch a show, just to see this . . . 

Coming into Season 2,  fans are going to expect even more blood, guts, and gore . . .

 . . . massive plot twists . . .

 . . . sex scenes that give the TV Ratings system the middle finger . . .

 . . . romance . . .

 . . . adventures in homoeroticism . . .

. . . and, yes, even some character development . . .

Source 

So, the REAL question is, can the series continue to deliver?

Without further adieu I proudly present to you, both the first official Teen Wolf Season 2 trailer, and the first ten minutes of the show’s sophomore season premiere . . .

 

(Special thanks to my blogging pal Andre for the awesome screencaps you see below.)

My first impression of the new season is that the writers and producers have cleverly taken the aspects of the series that worked in Season 1, and amplified them in Season 2.  For example, Season 1’s pilot featured a whole lotta half-naked Scott . . .

 The first ten minutes of Season 2 features a whole lotta half-naked EVERYBODY . . .

Season 1 revolved largely around Scott adjusting to his new werewolf persona . . .

Season 2 will feature Jackson, Lydia, and at least two new characters adjusting to their new lives as supernatural creatures . . .

 Season 1 explored the various differences between Beta werewolves and the supposedly all-powerful Alpha . . .

Source

Season 2 will introduce new species into the mix.  Among these species will be the much-discussed Omega wolf (The first episode of the season will be entitled “Omega.”), the shapeshifting “abomination” that’s brutally eviscerating townspeople throughout the season, and whatever the f*&k Lydia is now (a wolf?  a banshee?).  Of course, there’s always the possibility that all three of these entities are actually one in the same . . .

*snickers*  Season 2’s Big Bad kinda looks like Batman. 

“Beef jerky . . . yum.”

Which brings me to my next comparison . . . the Main Murder Mystery.  In Season 1, fans knew that it was the Alpha who had been committing brutal murders throughout the town.  However, they weren’t quite sure of the Alpha’s identity.  Many fans initially expected Jackson, due to his increasingly bizarre behavior, and the wackadoo hallucinations he suffered, throughout the series . . .

This season, I suspect one of the main suspects for the brutal murders around town will be Lydia, who was brutalized by the Alpha last season, but never actually turned into a werewolf.  Like with Jackson, the first ten minutes of Season 2 show Lydia experiencing bizarre hallucinations.  She also seems, based on the trailer, to regularly blackout, and awaken nude (SURPRISE!) in close proximity to where the murders are taking place.

My current theory?  Lydia is NOT the Season’s Big Bad at all . . . but actually a banshee, inevitably drawn to death, and forced to harken its arrival, through ear-piercing cries of agony.  (It would certainly explain all her screaming . . . though I’m not sure why being bitten by an Alpha wolf would cause someone to morph into this.)

Season 1 introduced us to the Argents, a crazy werewolf-slaying family, who, despite their supposed adherence to some sort of Code of Conduct, possessed a strong tendency to kill first, and ask questions later . . .

In Season 2, they are still the Argents.  And they are still crazy.  Now, there just seem to be more of them . . . and they have KNIVES . . . lots and lots of knives . . .

SCOTT: “Uhh . . . Derek, is that a knife in my ass, or are you just really excited for Season 2?”

For me, two of the weakest aspects of the first Season of Teen Wolf were the snooze-worthy supposed-Romeo and Juliet relationship between Scott and Allison . . .

And some of the more laughable CGI graphics on the show . . .

With respect to the former, I suspect that the Romeo and Juliet-ness of Scott and Allison’s story will only increase, now that Allison knows she’s a huntress, and her family knows that Scott is a werewolf . . .

“You were supposed to be MY boyfriend, dammit!”

However, whether these heightened circumstances actually serve to make this relationship more interesting to watch remains to be seen.  I, for one, am still skeptical . . .

As for the CGI graphics on the show . . . well . . . that little Leap Frog Number Scott was doing on the way to Allison’s house definitely made me giggle .  . . though, I suspect that wasn’t its intention.

Is he supposed to be running or taking a sh*t?

On a much more positive note, I absolutely predict that Season 2 will feature much more STILES!  And that, my friends, is a very good thing . . .

But hey, writers. . . let’s get the guy a little romance this summer, OK?  He’s earned it . . .

So, my fellow wolfbangers, it’s your turn to sound off on the first sneak peeks of Season 2.  What are your thoughts on the new characters?  The new creatures?  Scott’s new haircut?  Jackson’s new abs?  Who do you think is this season’s Big Bad?  Why wasn’t Derek naked in ANY of these shots?

And, perhaps most importantly, who was Stiles dreaming about in the first five minutes of the episode?  Lydia . . . the night nurse . . . Derek . . .  or Danny?

That’s all I’ve got.  See you on June 3rd, my fellow werebangers!

[www.juliekushner.com][Fangirls Forever]

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Step Inside The Secret Circle – A Look at one of the CW’s Most Promising New Fall Series

“Hi!  We are a group of extremely attractive, well-dressed, early twenty-somethings, pretending to be teens.  One of our favorite hobbies is to stare at the camera, in a vaguely angry (but, not too threatening) way.”

I’ll start off by saying that I don’t have the best luck writing these types of posts.  The last new “fall premiere program,” I previewed on my blog, before the pilot aired, was a show called My Generation.  Don’t remember it?  Maybe, that’s because it got CANCELLED AFTER TWO EPISODES!

And yet, given that THIS new program is (1)  is based on popular book series, written by the same author who penned The Vampire Diaries; (2) is being produced by Kevin Williamson, the Big Kahuna behind The Vampire Diaries; (3)  will air on the CW, Thursday nights, directly AFTER The Vampire Diaries, I feel fairly confident that this show will last AT LEAST half a season, if not longer . . .

I am so insanely beautiful and talented, that merely by standing in close proximity to me, YOU will also appear to be more beautiful and talented.”

So, now that I’ve (hopefully) proven that reading this blog post will not be a TOTAL waste of your time maybe just a partial waste? let’s delve into The Secret Circle, shall we?

The Source

As I mentioned earlier, this upcoming CW series (like the successful Vampire Diaries franchise before it) will be based on a collection of L.J. Smith novels bearing the same name.  The Secret Circle book series was a trilogy comprised of the following novels: (1) The Initiation, (2) The Captive, and (3) The Power.  Both the television and the book series revolve around a girl named Cassie,  who learns that she is a powerful teenage witch, who just so happens to belong to an elite “circle” of OTHER powerful teenage witches.  And yet, if The Secret Circle television series is anything like The Vampire Diaries television series, that’s about where the similarities between the books and the TV show will end . . .

One main difference between the books and television series that already has fans buzzing is the size of the titular Circle, itself.  The book calls for a coven of twelve teens to complete the circle, whereas the show only seems to require six.  Granted, in terms of consistent character development, a twelve-member regular cast can seem a bit overwhelming to some writers . . .

On the other hand, a number of fans question the showrunner’s decision to excise so many potential HOT MALE WARLOCk roles, on a show geared predominately toward young FEMALES.  In terms of teenage male leads, The Secret Circle only has two, for now.  Will a choice between just two dudes be enough to please fangirls, in the long term?  That remains to be seen . . .

The Cast of Characters

Leading lady, Cassie Blake, who undoubtedly will eventually become romantically involved with BOTH male leads (Sound familiar?) . . .

 . . . will be played by Brittany Robertson.   Some of you might remember Brittany as Lux from the recently canceled CW series, Life Unexpected. You also might recognize her as one of the many dead girls in Scream 4.  (Sorry to spoil the movie for you guys!).

Thomas Dekker plays the brooding and soulful, Adam Conant, boyfriend of “Good Witch” Diana Meade, and main love interest of Cassie Blake.  You might remember Thomas as John Connor from the recently canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or as, one of the many dead guys in The Nightmare on Elm Street remake.  (Am I the only one who is starting to notice a pattern, here?)

Phoebe Tonkin plays the bitchy, power-hungry, Mean Girl / potential “Bad Witch,” Faye Chamberlain.  Aussies might recognize Phoebe as Cleo from the the television series H20: Just Add Water.  She also played Fiona in the film Tomorrow, When the War Began.

Speaking of Aussies, Louis Hunter, who plays the flirtatious and slightly arrogant (but still sexy) Nick Armstrong, is, perhaps, best known for his role as Kyle in the Australian series, Out of the Blue.

Kind-hearted head witch, Diana Meade will be played by Shelley Hennig, who soap opera fans might remember as Stephanie Johnson on Days of Our Lives.

Rounding out the titular Secret Circle as Faye’s Mean Girl Sidekick witch, Melissa Glaser, is Jessica Parker Kennedy, who fans of the CW’s Smallville might remember as comic book villain, Plastique.

Arguably the shows most recognizable cast member, Gale Horold, plays the murderous Thomas Meade.  Television credits for Gale Harold include Hellcats, Queer as Folk, and Desperate Housewives.

And finally . . .

While perhaps best known as a freaky man-killing alien from the movie, Species, Natasha Henstridge, who plays the not quite trustworthy Principal Chamberlain, also had starring roles in television programs, including, Eli Stone and She Spies.

Analyzing the Extended Promo

Now, that you’ve met the cast, it’s time to take a look at the Extended Promo, which I plan to discuss in more detail below.  So, watch and learn, Witches and Warlocks! 

(Note: Due to some SUPER ANNOYING copyright restrictions, it looks like they’ve removed the extended promo for this show from EVERYWHERE it was posted, except for the CW Website, itself.  Nevertheless, if you still want to “watch with ME,” feel free to click on this link, either before, or while, you are viewing the analysis below.)

:00 – “My sweet Cassie, I did not want you to have this life.  But Destiny is not easy to run from.”

“Grrrrrrrr!  ROAD RAGE!”

Poor Cassie!  Apparently, “Destiny” is not easy to drive from, either.  We aren’t 30 seconds into the trailer, and already, Cassie has been driven off the road by some Asshat Driver, got a flat tire, and is about to lose cell phone reception, while stranded in Middle of Nowhere U.S.A..  Of course, judging by what happens to her next, this is probably the BEST part of her night . . .

:30 – “I know how to change a TIRE, MOM!”

Here’s a hint:  Don’t get too attached to Mommy, kids.  Because THIS ONE isn’t going to make it out of the promo alive.  I actually think this might be the first time I’ve ever seen a cast member DIE in the PREVIEW for a pilot episode.  Talk about a SPOILER ALERT!  I mean, that’s gotta be a first, right?  And we all know how much Kevin Williamson likes his BIG BODY COUNTS! 

I’m just wondering why (since Cassie’s mom is supposed to be this Big Powerful Witch) couldn’t she, I don’t know,  cast a spell to prevent her from . . . BEING BURNED ALIVE IN HER OWN HOME?  Weird . . .

:45 – [Insert sound of burning flesh here.]

We are just under the one-minute mark, when we get our first look at the EEEVIIL Thomas Meade, as he bakes Cassie’s mom for dinner.  I found the whole scene pretty shocking, the first time I saw it.  On a Non-Dead Mom note, notice how the Four Elements come into play in this scene.  Witch shows always tend to be big on the whole Four Elements thing, “earth, air, fire, water” and all that.  Notice how, the Evil One drops a bottle of water on the floor to trigger the burst pipe in Cassie’s kitchen, and lights the matches to trigger the fatal gas leak. 

Also, Dude’s got some SERIOUSLY FREAKY EYES!  Are we sure he’s not a vampire?

*sniffs*  “Do you smell something burning?”

1:04 – “Cassie.”

“I think I may have left the oven light on.”

Cassie’s mom .  . . DEAD .  . . in under two minutes.  Impressive.  You know what else I found impressive?  The fact that this good-hearted Mommy’s final thoughts were of her daughter’s soon-to-be orphan status.  (No word on “Daddy” yet.   I’m thinking there’s some sort of Big Backstory there.)  That sure was nice of Mommy to think so selflessly of her kid, while her body was getting barbecued. 

Because you know what MY final thought would have been, if I was in her position?  I suspect it would be something like, “Hmmm . . .  I wonder how painful it is to be burned alive in your own home.  I’m going to guess excruciatingly painful.  Time to test out this theory.” 

Then again, perhaps, it would be something a bit less eloquent, like, for example, “F*&K, I’M GOING TO DIE! AHHHHHHHHHH!”

1:15 – “Welcome to Chance Harbor.”

I noticed that, in the books, the town where the story takes place is called New Salem.  I’m kind of glad they changed it.   Because that would be a bit TOO MUCH Cheesy Witch Symbolism, don’t you think?  And yet, I can’t help but notice all the OBVIOUS parallels between THIS sleepy town, and TVD’s Mystic Falls. 

I mean, think about it, you’ve got the whole Small Town Hiding a Big Supernatural Secret thing . . . the Founding Families thing . .  . even the whole Old Diaries and Letters from the Past Inform the Present thing.  Plus, I’m willing to bet there’s only One Bar / Social Establishment HERE too!

“Been there, drunk that.”

1:25 – “Cassie!  I’m really glad you’re here.”  But I’m not glad that my kid died of some Weird Witchcraft Accident . . . because that would be, you know, inappropriate.”

 “This is the part where my eyes glow bright red, and I snap your neck.  Oh . . . wait . . . wrong show.  Sorry!”

Hmmm . . . Grandma looks pretty young to have a grandchild in her late teens, doesn’t she?  Come to think of it, most of the “parents” on this show, appear to be a bit young looking.  Maybe being a witch comes with anti-aging powers, or something?

I have to say, I’m already worried about Grandma’s fate on this show.  After all, we all know full well that the statistics regarding Grandmas surviving supernatural dramas are not exactly in her favor.  Just ask Sookie’s Granny on True Blood . . .

 . . . or Bonnie’s grandma on The Vampire Diaries .

Oh wait, you can’t ask them . . . because they are both DEAD!

1:35 – “And she will soon discover that her arrival will bring the Town’s Dark Secret to light.”

“If I see anything I haven’t seen before, I’ll throw a dollar at it.”

I love how when the voiceover teased that the Town had “Dark Secrets,” they chose to show us an image of Open-Shirted Nick, of all things . . .

Hot?  Yes.  Damon Salvatore-caliber hot?  No.

So, is that supposed to be the town’s Big Dark Secret, that hot guys hang out in windows with their shirts open?  Still, the fact that this six-minute preview featured BOTH a death, and a half-naked hot man, I find VERY promising . . .

1:37 –

And . . . here we are at Chance Harbor High.  So, do you think Cassie will actually GO TO SCHOOL on this show, or will she be a TOTAL derelict, like Elena Gilbert?

“Hey!  I resent that remark.  I am a VERY good student.  I attend EVERY school dance!”

1:40 – “We are happy to have you here, Cassie.  I’m Principal Chamberlain.  Your mother was  . . . very special to me.  And by “special” I mean I wanted to use my magical powers to turn her into a slug.

I once saw the woman pictured above in a movie, where she enticed a man to have sex with her, seconds before MORPHING INTO A SERIOUSLY UGLY ALIEN LIFEFORM, AND IMPALING HIS HEAD WITH HER SNAKE-LIKE TONGUE!  So, yeah, I don’t care how pretty Principal Chamberlain is, or how nice of a smile she has . . . I don’t trust her!

1:46 – “Have you seen her yet?”

“Did I SEE her?  I did a little striptease for her in front of my bedroom window.  She is now pregnant with my children.  Magical Powers ROCK!”

Well, HELLO LOVE TRIANGLE!  The romantic aspects of this tale COULD prove to be particularly interesting, considering that both of Cassie’s suitors are, at this time, technically “taken” by other members of the Secret Circle.  I’m eager to see how this plays out in the show’s first season.  However, beyond that, I already feel like, if this show wants to last, it’s going to need MORE hot male blood infused in it, and FAST!

1:53 – “She’s meeting a new Circle of Friends.”

Was it just me?  Or did this scene IMMEDIATELY make you think of the movie Mean Girls?  Phoebe Tonkin was ABSOLUTELY channeling Regina George, when she pulled that little locker trick.  Is it any wonder that her sidekick, Melissa, played Plastique in Smallville?  Get it . . . Plastique?  As in . . . The Plastics?

2:02 – “I saw you in school today.  How was your first day?”

*brood, smoulder, smirk, brood, smoulder, smirk*

Adam, i.e. Love Interest Number 1, is clearly angling for the “Dark yet Sensitive Type.”  How original!  It could work though.  So, far, I’m kind of seeing him as a cross between Stefan Salvatore and Jeremy Gilbert.  Anybody else getting those vibes from him?

2:20 – “With her here, we have REAL POWER now!”

 

And so the power to control the Circle begins between the “Good Witch” and the “Bad Witch.”  For the sake of the show, I’m hoping things are a bit more complicated than that.  Otherwise, the dichotomy will get real old, real fast.  I’m definitely liking Faye, as the edgy, yet vulnerable, villainess on the show, however.  She shows real promise . . .

2:33 – “How did the fire go out?”

Only YOU can prevent witchcraft-induced car fires . . .

It’s interesting that Faye, in trying to make Cassie recognize her supernatural abilities, chose, of all things, a Car Fire, especially considering that a Witchy Fire just so happened to be what killed the poor girl’s MOTHER.  And just like I wondered why Cassie’s mom, who KNEW she was a witch, didn’t use her powers to put out the fire, Faye seems to be wondering the same thing about Cassie.

As for the whole Rescue Thing . . .

. . .  did the writers REALLY expect us not to think about Twilight, here.  I know, I know, the book series on which this show is based came out LONG before Twilight did.  But those books also came out before a lot of the future fans of this show were BORN!

For better or worse, Twilight is what we remember NOW.  So, how could the creators of this show not see the quiet brooding supernatural creature, putting out the fire with his “powers,” and rescuing the damsel in distress from the flames, and not immediately think of Edward and Bella?  Just sayin’.

Oh, and Cassie TOTALLY screams like a girl! 🙂

3:09 – “Cassie, wait!  I think I can help.”

Umm . . . yeah, because THAT place isn’t creepy, AT ALL!  It kind of looks like the house at the end of the Blair Witch Project.  *shudders*

We are now half-way through the trailer.  And FINALLY, Cassie gets introduced to the titular “Secret Circle.”  It’s about damn time!

3:32 – “Oh, for god sakes, SPIT IT OUT!  You’re a witch.  You are a full-blooded, 100% witch.  We ALL ARE.”

Haha!  Well, thank you, FAYE!  I always hate when books and television shows take about 35 minutes to come clean about something you already figured out from reading the book jacket or watching the trailer.  At least ONE of the characters on this show has enough sense to call the REST of the characters out on their B.S.  3.5 minutes in, and Faye is already, by far, my favorite character on this show.

3:45 – “Each family has a book.  A book that lays out each family line.”

Ahh, yes the Obligatory Ancient Book wherein you can find the Convenient Cure Alls for all your Plot Problems!  You can’t have a  supernatural series without one!  Speaking of TVD-parallels, as I mentioned earlier, I also found the “six families” concept, to be very “Founding Families-esque. 

Oh, and for those of you who have ever seen the film The Craft, Melissa’s speech, about the Circle only being able to do “lame” spells, until Cassie came along, ABSOLUTELY reminds me of a similar comment made in that film.

 

4:03 – “We can’t let it happen AGAIN.”

Oh, Silly Naive Granny!  Don’t ask the Evil Alien Lady questions like that!  Have I mentioned yet how worried I already am about the fate of this character?

4:17 – “It was covered up.  Something went wrong.  People got hurt.   So, they abolished witchcraft.”

The way they ordered the images in this particular 10-second sequence definitely made it seem as though Thomas Meade killed Cassie’s mom, so that she would be forced to return to Chance Harbor, and complete the “Circle.”  The question is “Why?”  What sort of spell does he want them to cast?

4:28 – “With Cassie here, our powers are magnified ten times over.”

Uh oh!  SOMEONE made it rain, but didn’t remember to bring her umbrella.  Not too swift.

The next sequence features a few images of Faye being “bad ass” with her “rain-making” powers.   I don’t know why they always do crap with the weather in these witch shows.  If I had witchy powers, I’d make myself a millionaire, who looked like a model, and force all hot male celebrities to fall instantly in love with me.  It’s called “creativity” witches.  It’s time you got some .  .  . And I mean that in more ways than one . . . 

We also see that Cassie’s Return has spurred an already restless Faye to more vigorously challenge Diana’s position of power within the Circle.  The problem is, with only six members, being the “leader” of the Circle doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal.  This is definitely a situation where having more “coven” members would have bolstered the plot.

4:45 – “My dear, sweet Cassie.  You finding this means I am gone, and for that I am so sorry.”

Speaking of cliches in supernatural stories . . . here comes the Mandatory, Mildly Touching, Plot Explanation Letter from an Important Dead Person in the Protagonist’s Life  . . . YAY!

4:57 – “It’s incredible.”

Oh, Hell to the NO!  Not another, Romantic Use of Magic Moment!  Where have I seen THIS before?

Oh, that’s right . . . EVERYWHERE!  And, then we have the Almost Kiss . . .

Now, THAT is what I call an appropriate use of your powers, Adam . . . the power to get into your not-girlfriend’s panties.  Well played, Stud . . . at least, until she LEFT YOUR ASS in the forest!

5:15 – “Bad things happen, when you mess with fate.”

And even WORSE things happen, when you mess with Evil-Eyed Thomas Meade, Random Guy!

5:29 – “I was a good friend of your mother’s (and by ‘good friend’ I mean ‘murderer’).”

I LOVE the twist that Evil Thomas Meade is actually GOOD WITCH Diana Meade’s DAD!  I genuinely didn’t see that one coming.  Except, I REALLY don’t think this guy is old enough to have an 17 or 18 year old daughter, do you?  Like I said . . . Witch Fountain of Youth. 

5:37 – “You did the right thing bringing her here.  She has the gift.”

A-HA!  I knew the Alien Principal and Evil-Eyed Meade were in CAHOOTS!  (Just so you know, “cahoots” is my new favorite word.  Except to see it a lot on this blog in the future . . . )

5:40 –

Awww, Nick is writing Cassie grammatically incorrect love letters from his window!  Next thing you know, he will be connecting two soup cans together, with pipe cleaners, and trying to use it as a cell phone.  Speaking of cell phones, doesn’t NICK have one?  I mean, he can’t CALL Cassie, and ASK her if she’s OK?  Talk about LAZY!

5:47 – “I don’t have to do a thing.  The Circle will take care of that without even knowing it.”

[Insert Evil Laugh Here]

OK.  So, how manyof you were actually fooled into thinking that Principal Chamberlain was a “nice lady?”  Yeah, I didn’t think so . . .

5:56 –  “Believe in the power of the Circle . . . You have incredible Power.  People will come for it.  They will come for YOU.”

“Make it stop.”  (My sentiments exactly, Cassie.  This trailer needs to STOP, before you spoil the entire first season . . . or, at least, the first episode.)

And so, we come to the point in our script, where Cassie finally embraces who she is, and uses her powers to stop that Freak Rainstorm that Faye made, earlier in the trailer.  Should we be happy, that Cassie is doing what Fate has seemingly intended for her to do?  Or do we fear that she is playing right into the hands of the Evil Adults? 

I guess you will have to WATCH this Fall to find out . . .

And there you have it, an extended preview of this falls new “hot” supernatural drama, The Secret Circle . . .

So, what did you think?  Will you stay tuned to the CW after TVD, and try this one out, for a “spell?”  Or do you plan to vanquish this series from your memory, forever?

[www.juliekushner.com][Fangirls Forever]

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Filed under The Secret Circle

Puck-er Up! It’s Valentine’s Day! – A Recap of Glee’s “Silly Love Songs”

Ahhhhh, February 14th!  It’s that time of year when hearts go a-flutter, and boys’ bank accounts go a-bust.   On this day, all convenient stores, as a rule, must look like they’ve been vomited on by Love Bunnies; and every television channel suddenly resembles Lifetime, Hallmark, or Oxygen.  It’s the day when I always eat too many of those, let’s face it, REALLY NASTY, Conversation Hearts, and am rewarded for doing so, with Massive Tummy Trouble.  It’s a time of hope, a time of anticipation, a time of  . . . intense nausea. 

Of course, I’m talking about Valentine’s Day . . . or, as I like to call it, Singles Awareness Day . . .

But don’t let the cynicism of the above paragraph fool you.  Because, beneath my snarky bluster, and rough exterior, lies a Deep Dark Secret.  And here it is:  I have a real soft spot in my heart for the lovey-dovey, ooey-gooey, mushy-gushy, sappy sweetness, of Valentine’s Day-themed television episodes.   And, for this reason, I ADORED Glee’s most recent  installment, “Silly Love Songs” (also . . . Puck was in it A LOT, which is always a good thing, in my book).

Be my Valentine, you Crazy Mohawk Man, YOU!

So, what are we waiting for Gleeks, let’s get SAPPY!

Puck Spells Woman “Z-I-Z-E-S” (and I spell CRAZY, “P-U-C-K”)

“I know I’m supposed to be staring at Lauren Zizes.  But, deep down, I can’t stop thinking about a certain TV Recapper . . .”

OK, Confession Time!  So, earlier this week, in response to a comment someone left me on my recap of the Glee Superbowl Extravaganza Episode, I MAY have noted that I love Puck as a character SO MUCH that I’d be willing to see him couple with any castmember, provided that doing so allotted him the increased screentime he so richly deserves.  ANYONE . . . I said . . . EXCEPT LAUREN ZIZES . . .

Do you ever get the feeling that your favorite television shows are MOCKING you?

When the episode begins, our resident Bad Boy, Puck, is all piney over a certain Full-Figured Woman, with whom he spent LESS than Seven Minutes in Heaven, swapping spit in a closet somewhere, pre-hiatus . . .

No Fat Jokes, No Fat Jokes, No Fat Jokes.

Having decided that Lauren is precisely the dessert he wants to enjoy, after his Valentine’s Day Dinner No Fat Jokes, No Fat Jokes, No Fat Jokes he decides to court his lady love, by giving her a Box of Chocolates No Fat Jokes, No Fat Jokes, No Fat Jokes, and proposing to her with a RING POP You’re KILLING ME HERE, Puck!

“This is a Promise Ring Pop.  It represents the Duration of Our Love.  I’m yours, until the last lick.  Because Diamonds may be Forever, but Artificial Flavoring tastes better . . .”

To Puck’s advances, Lauren typically responds by spouting out REALLY ANNOYING lines from rap and R&B songs of the late 90’s and early 00’s.  Some of these “gems” include, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly,” and “you better check yourself, before you wreck yourself,” and “you best, stand corrected.”  Honestly, the whole time I was watching, I kept waiting for her to whip out a line from Sir Mix A-lot’s CLASSIC Rump Shaker, “I Like Big Butts.”  Unfortunately, she never did . . .

Excellent Opportunity for Hilarity = Wasted

But Lauren’s increasingly rude rejections of the Puckster only served to fuel the Righteous Flames of Love burning in his pants (Then again, maybe that was just his STD talking.).  So, when Mr. Schuester invited the Glee kids to perform songs that embodied their feelings about love, Puck surprised EVERYONE by rocking out to Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls

“Left alone with Big Fat Fatty.  She was such a Naughty Natty.  That Big Woman made a Bad Boy out me,” Puck crooned, so VERY inappropriately, as he did this move with his crotch that I can only liken to the movement one makes when riding one of those quarter-operated Electric Horses you find outside your local Super Market . . .

You GO Puck!  RIDE THAT PONY!  (And no, I intend that as a Fat Joke . . .)

You can check out ALL of Puck’s X-rated moves, by clicking on the internal link below . . .

“I’ve never been serenaded before . . . and it made me feel like crap,” Lauren pouts.

You know who else was feeling like crap after Puck’s song?  ME!  Santana!  After all, she’d paid many a quarter to ride Puck.  And yet, she seems to be the ONLY Glee girl that he’s never serenaded.  Hey, remember when Puck decided he “loved” Rachel and sang “Sweet Caroline” to her, because Neil Diamond is Jewish, and so is she?

How about when Puck sang “Beth” to Quinn, because that’s what he thought she should name her daughter, to whom he was the Baby Daddy?

Or when he sang that Sammy Davis Jr. song to Mercedes because .  . . Do I really have to go there?

Well, apparently, Santana remembered ALL OF THESE MOMENTS, and the fact that she wasn’t involved in any of them, made her feel mighty unloved . . .

So, she buys herself some jewelry from Jared, and tries to slap Puck with the receipt. 

(Nice product placement there.  But wouldn’t it have been better if we  . . . I don’t know . . . actually saw the jewelry?)

But Puck’s not biting, because there is only room in his heart for one BIG woman.  So, he rejects Santana’s pint-sized patootie, in favor of something a bit more.  . . meaty.  Unfortunately, for Santana, her day is about to get about TEN TIMES worse.  As luck would have it, Lauren arrives on the scene, just as Santana is calling her a White Whale.  And, let’s just say, Fat Bottomed Girl is NOT PLEASED!

Santana talks a good game about being from the “mean streets” of Lima Heights Adjacent.  But those of us who watched the Britney / Brittany episode know she’s really a doctor’s daughter, who is able to afford boob implants, and $1000 hair extensions.  So, of course, Wrestler Lauren knocks the silicone right out of her.  Watching this makes Puck practically orgasm with excitement.  So, he BEGS Lauren to go with him to Olive Garden Breadsticks, which is apparently the ONLY RESTAURANT IN TOWN, the night before Valentine’s Day.

But Lauren actually has the gall to STAND HIM UP!

B*TCH IS CRAZY!

So, Puck makes out with a Random Chick, which makes me kind of happy, because I too, am a Random Chick . . .

Just when it seems as though all hope is lost for this Head Scratching Mind Boggling Completely Bizarre Adorable Couple (YIPPEE!  Make it stop!  Make it stop!), the next day, Lauren FINALLY agrees to go out with Puck to . . . you guessed it Breadsticks again, provided he agrees to take their relationship slow.  (A part of me just died, typing that sentence.)

And in that moment, all of my hopes to become a random extra on Glee, and get to make out with Mark Salling/Puck in the Olive Garden “Breadsticks” parking lot were irreparably shattered . . .

But, hey, at least there’s still a shot at me kissing Finn (Why not?  He kisses EVERYBODY ELSE!) . . . once the Mono goes away, that is!

Quinn and Sam = Finn-ished?

“Oh, come on!  Don’t dump me NOW!  Aren’t you the least bit curious, what would happen if Barbie and Ken procreated?  Our babies would be heralded by science, as the blondest, most blandly perfect looking infants on the planet!”

If you watched the Glee Super Bowl Extravaganza Episode, you know that Finn and Quinn played tonsil hockey, with one another, during its final moments.  Well, this week’s episode finds Finn wanting a rematch . . .

Operation Get into Quinn Febray’s Panties is A GO!

So, Finn comes up with the incredibly douchey very generous idea of running a Kissing Booth, where people pay a dollar to suck his face for five seconds.  (Ladies, buy gum, instead . . . it’s cheaper, and longer lasting.)  Proceeds from the lip locks will go toward the Glee Club budget.  Way to take one for the TEAM, Finn!

Our favorite (and by “favorite” I mean “only”) New Directions star / McKinley High Quarterback figures that do-gooder Quinn won’t be able to resist kissing him for a Good Cause.  And then, once she’s tasted those Dorito-covered lips of his, she’ll no longer be able to resist his social awkward bumbling personality intense charms.

But Quinn REFUSES to kiss Finn.  And she tells him as much, when she visits him at the kissing booth.  And yet, the hardcore eye f*&king she gives him, while she’s saying this tells a different story entirely . . .

Needless to say, Quinn’s Macauley Culkin Doppelganger Boyfriend, does not take this well . . .

Sam really showcases his “massive intelligence,” by convincing his girlfriend to KISS Finn, in order to prove that she isn’t attracted to him. 

“I’m CRAP with the ladies, and even I know that’s a TERRIBLE idea!”

“I’m pretty, but I ain’t dumb,” Sam insists, by way of explanation.  (I hate to break this to you Sam, but “dumb” is precisely what you are.)

Don’t feel bad, Sam.  Stupid people get the best lines on this show!”

So, while Sam watches intently (because THAT’s not creepy at all), Finn and Quinn lock lips a second time . . .

Only, THIS TIME, this happens . . .

Thrilled by the prospect of Another Opportunity to Cheat on a Boyfriend Harlot Barbie makes plans to meet Finn in the auditorium the following evening. 

But things take a dark turn for these two naughty humans, when Santana notices that something is going on between them . . .

“Finn only gets that Gassy Infant Look, when he’s feeling guilty about something,” Santana notes astutely . . .

Source

Noticing that Quinn is also looking particularly gassy today, Santana eventually puts two and two together, and decides that the Happy Pair are having an affair.  So, what’s an Evil Temptress, who’s just been rejected by Puck, and called a Raging B*tch by her entire class, to do?  This sounds like a job for . . .

The Slutty Pedophile Candy Striper from Outer Space!

 So, Santana, who’s supernaturally whorish charms have apparently earned her some bizarro immunity to mononucleosis, “I’ve had Mono so many times, I’ve turned it into stereo,” heads to the local Elementary School in search of Man Meat.  She then quickly (and conveniently) finds a prepubescent Mono sufferer, aggressively ambushes him, and shoves her tongue down his throat . . .

I’m pretty sure this is illegal in about 15 states.  Little Stewie Woodcock doesn’t seem to mind too much, however.

Did you ever see the movie Species, where Natasha Hendstridge plays this sexpot alien who lures men into her bed, starts screwing them, and then, at the last moment, totally ALIENS OUT, and rips their bodies to shreds?  Well, that’s kind of the feeling I got watching Santana “work her magic” during this episode.  Evil Ho Bag then attacks Finn with her germy tongue at the kissing booth, and her work here is done.

Now, all she has to do is wait for Finn and Quinn to have their little rendezvous . . .

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

The very next day, since Santana’s alien Mono-Spreading Powers apparently also speed up the victim’s display of symptoms, both Finn and Quinn are wearing A LOT of pasty white face makeup looking and feeling extremely ill . . .

Santana helpfully explains that both of their symptoms seem suspiciously similar to Mono, something you get from TONGUE KISSING . . .

Sorry Sam!

(By the way, those of you who ended off this episode, feeling sorry for Sam, can take heart.  Something tells me he won’t be alone for long .  . .

Source

. . . me thinks our main man, Macauley, has some serious Mono / Stereo in his future.  Way to go, Samtana!)

While lying in the nurse’s office together, Quinn wisely notes to Finn that the last time she cheated on her boyfriend (which was FINN, by the way) she got knocked up, and this time, she got Mono.  Perhaps, the Universe is trying to tell her something ( . . . like that Harlot Barbie will be discontinued by Mattel, if she doesn’t straighten up, and fly right).  But Finn doesn’t care how slutty and tempermental Quinn is,  he wants to bang her ANYWAY!

“Pssst . . . the nurse won’t be back for another twenty minutes.  What do you say, we push these two cots together, and try to get you pregnant?  You can tell Sam it’s his . . . wait . . . why does this so sound so familiar to me?”

Quinn, however, refuses to make monkey with Finn, until she figures out her true feelings Macauley Culkin (She loved Home Alone, but hated Home Alone 2.  Quite the conundrum!), and HE figures out his feelings for Rachel.

Speaking of Rachel . . .

Rachel Sings a Love Song . . . to Herself (Then again, isn’t that what ALL her solos are?)

“Will YOU be my Valentine, hairbrush?”

Poor Rachel!  She’s been hung up on Finn since he dumped her ass on Christmas for hooking up with Puck.  This would be fine, if she ACTUALLY got to hook up with Puck.  However, Puck had to go and grow a conscience on her.  Leaving our poor heroine, both alone, and UNLAID. 

“What’s a girl to do?”

Nothing if not creative (She says, sarcastically), Rachel’s big plan for winning back Finn’s heart is . . . wait for it . . . to KISS HIM AT THE KISSING BOOTH.  You know, like EVERY OTHER GIRL IN SCHOOL.  Unfortunately, when Rachel does finally make it to the booth, dollar in hand, Finn greets her with . . . a peck on the cheek . . .

“W . . . T .  . .F!”

When Rachel confronts Finn about his cheeky ways, he offers her the Gold S tarnecklace he planned to give her during Christmas, conveniently advising her that she should stay single until he gets bored with Quinn and decides he wants her again, because she is such a STAR, that being saddled to a lame-o high school boy (like him) might weigh her down.  

“You need to shine.  Just because I can’t be with you because I’m boning Quinn, doesn’t mean I don’t believe in you,” Finn said sweetly.

It was a good line, one that I might have found touching, if it wasn’t coming out of the mouth of such a Hypocritical Douchebag . . .

Douchey-ness aside, Rachel is at Sick Finn’s bedside, while the Poor Boy suffers from Santana’s Supernatural Mono strain . . .

Rachel blathers on a bit about how much prettier Quinn is than her.  (Umm, honey, you’re both on TV, so stop pretending your not hot, K?)  She then asks Finn what kissing Quinn was like.  He tells her it made him see Fireworks.  (Asshat!  Why the f*&k did he have to tell her that?)

“Did you see fireworks, when you kissed me?”  Inquires the Glutton for Punishment.

LIE FINN!  LIE!  SHE CLEARLY WANTS YOU TO LIE!

Finn almost imperceptibly shakes his head.

YOU SLIMY BASTARD!

Rachel responds to Finn’s announcement, by thanking him for not giving HER Mono too.  You see now that she has no other options, Rachel realizes that being single is the best way for her to focus on her path toward Super Stardom.  To emphasize this New Discovery, Rachel chooses Katy Perry’s “Firework” as her lovesong . . . to herself.

You can watch Rachel sing about how badly she wants to tongue kiss herself, by clicking the internal link below . . .

Meanwhile, over at Dalton Academy . . .

Jeremiah Was a Bull Frog.  (i.e. The Best GAP ad EVER!)

Kurt and Blaine are stepping out together for a little coffee break.  Blaine tells Kurt he’s a card-carrying member of the I Heart Valentine’s Day Club.  As it turns out, Kurt’s not a big fan of V-day.  But he’s a HUGE of Blaine, particularly when Kurt realizes that Blaine knows how he takes his coffee and what his favorite sexual positions are.  When Blaine makes mention of wanting to show his newest Man Crush his true feelings, Kurt immediately becomes certain that Blaine is referring to HIM.  (Those of us, who saw the advance release clips from this episode, however, knew the Poor Guy was DEAD WRONG!)

Back at school, Blaine tries to convince his fellow Hogwarts Wizards to (gasp) leave the school grounds on a Romantic Pilgrimage to the Gap.  The Warblers are understandably horrified by his request . . .

“We are not safe in the outer world!  What if Lord Voldemort finds us?”

Fortunately for Blaine, Kurt ultimately convinces the Warblers to “step outside their comfort zone,” using one of his “When I was a New Directions Gleek” stories that I am SURE his fellow acafellas are forced to listen to EVERY SINGLE DAY.

“This one time . . . at Glee Club . . . I stuck a flute up my . . .”

And yet, when Kurt realizes that Blaine was NOT in fact, planning to sing to him, but, rather to some GAP manager named Jeremiah, he can’t help but wish he wasn’t so gosh darn persuasive.  Nevertheless, thanks to a Sweet Slumber Party, some hair braiding, and a whole lot of  SERIOUS Girl Talk with Gal Pals Mercedes and Rachel, Kurt ultimately decides to “be a man” and, be there to support Blaine, during his Mall Serenade . . .

Here comes my FAVORITE musical number of the evening!  Now, those of you who read my Superbowl Recap may recall that I was a bit harsh on Blaine and the Warblers, due to their awkwardly robotic dancing, and inability to let anyone sing solo, aside from “Junior Member” Blaine.  All those problems still existed, during Blaine’s rendition of Robin Thicke’s “When I Get You Alone.”  And yet, for whatever reason, all these negatives combined to make what I felt was a TRULY entertaining, foot-tapping, finger snapping music number!

Poor Jeremiah!  If the Warblers are Hogwarts wizards, he’s most definitely the Draco Malfoy of this situation.

A Brief Note to the GAP:  This musical number would be the BEST COMMERCIAL YOU’VE EVER HAD!  Heck the Warblers even modeled your merchandise for you, during the song!

Now, why the heck aren’t they selling those awesome pink sunglasses at MY GAP?

You can check out all the performance, in all its fabulousness, here:

Now, as much as I love “When I Get You Alone,” (The song actually remains one of my all-time favorites), in hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best choice for a Declaration of Love Anthem.  For one thing, there’s a definite predatory, and almost frighteningly ANGRY, stalkerish aspect to the lyrics.  (“Because you walk pretty, because you talk pretty, because you MAKE ME SICK, and I’m NOT LEAVING, ’til YOUR LEAVING!”)  And don’t even get me started on the song’s Horror Movie-esque opening notes.  (“Bum-bum, bum, BUMMMM!  Bum-bum, bum, BUMMM!”)

“You do know that if you don’t have sex with Blaine, we are going to beat you to a pulp, tie you up, and shove you in the bathroom of our tourbus, don’t you?”

Talk about a SERIOUS LETDOWN, after his award winning musical performance, Blaine is shocked to learn that the Object of his Affections (1) got fired because of him; (2) isn’t “out” to his coworkers (Telltale Gay Hair, notwithstanding); and (3) doesn’t like him in that way, especially because he’s underage.

“You know, there’s another GAP a few miles from here.  Think anyone gay works THERE?”

Finally, toward the end of the episode, Kurt confronts Blaine about the sort of mixed signals he’s been sending out, resulting in Kurt thinking that HE was the object of Blaine’s desires, NOT Jeremiah the Bullfrog.  Blaine apologizes, and the pair commiserate over how inexperienced and bad at romance they both are.  They decide to take things slow, and stay friends for now, in order to preserve the strong bonds of friendship the pair has forged, during the short time they’ve known one another. 

“We can be like When Harry Met Sally . . . only I get to be Meg Ryan,” Kurt notes cheerily.

“I can see a resemblance.  Don’t you?”

Didn’t those two end up together in the end?” Blaine inquires cautiously.

Oh, Kurt . . . you Sly Dog, you!

Artie and Mike Chang are Friends (with Benefits?)

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE ME some Michael Jackson.  And P.Y.T., though a tad lecherous, in terms of it’s theme, was a fun little ditty for Artie to croon.  It was also an excellent showcase for Harry Shum Jr. (who plays Mike’s) very M.J. esque dance movies.  And yet, did anyone else, at least at the beginning of the musical number get the impression that these two dudes were singing the love song to EACHOTHER, as opposed to their Lady Loves?

Ummmmm . . .

TINA:  “I think our boyfriends are about to make out with eachother.”

BRITTANY:  “That’s SO HOT!”

(Yeah, I couldn’t find a clip of this one.  So, you’ll just have to take my word for it.)

Tears of a Clown

Have you ever loved someone so much, the mere thought of being with them evoked tears of joy?  No?  Me neither, which was why Tina’s cringeworthy blubbery rendition of “My Funny Valentine” was probably the most uncomfortable three minutes I’ve ever spent in front of my television screen . . .

Please, lord, make it stop!

But as awkward as I felt during this scene, it doesn’t even compare to how MIKE CHANG must have felt!

Just keep smiling . . . just keep smiling . . . Don’t let her know she’s crazy or she will KILL YOU.

The episode concludes with Kurt gathering the whole Glee crew together at . . . wait for it . . . Breadsticks (where ELSE?) for a meeting of the Lonely Hearts Club.

After a brief speech about love and singledom, Kurt introduces the Warblers (Woah, TWO off campus outings in ONE EPISODE?  Way to live dangerously boys?).  The group, led by Blaine (SURPRISE!) serenade the crowd with their rendition of the titular song “Silly Loves Songs.”

And that was more or less the episode, in a nutshell.  Did you like it?  Would you accept it as YOUR Valentine?  Or would you prefer to throw it back in the sender’s face, like Lauren Zizes did with Puck’s sucky chocolates?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Filed under Glee

Vampire Katherine just aged another year . . . – Happy Birthday, Nina Dobrev!

In honor of Nina Dobrev’s 22nd birthday, Ian Somerhalder baked her a cake . . .

Unfortunately, for Nina, Vampire Katherine (who shares the same birthday) got to it first . . .

“Mmmmm . . . red velvet blood  . . . my favorite flavor!”

22-years ago today, one of the most promising young actors of our generation was born.  (Nina Dobrev was born January 9, 1989 in Sofia, Bulgaria, but moved to Canada at age 2.)  Roughly 20-years later, Nina won the hearts of two-GORGEOUS vampires, and of millions of fans wide, through her portrayal of both the headstrong and plucky Elena Gilbert . . .

 . . . and the devious diabolical (and tons of fun!) Vampire Katherine Pierce . . .

You know, I spend a lot of time on this blog extoling the virtues of the dreamy and delectable Damon Salvatore . . .

 . . . and his sensitive, yet sultry, brother Stefan . . .

But where would either of them be without the two women who hold their hearts and their humanity in either hand?

I mean seriously, without Elena and Katherine, who would these boys MAKE OUT WITH?

They’d probably have to resort to lots of Air Kissing . . .

And no one wants that . . .

So, that’s why today, in honor of Nina Dobrev’s birthday, I’ve decided to take a short break from celebrating the oh-so-sexy TVD men, in order to pay homage to the one woman who is literally the Gal Friday to EVERY GUY IN MYSTIC FALLS . . . 

 

Sorry BOYS!  It looks like you are just going to have to share . . .

Since most of us already know Nina from The Vampire Diaries, I thought it might be nice, for a change, to take a look back at some of her most noteworthy pre-Elena roles . . .

(Special thanks to YouTube maven sciolist2b, who has BY FAR the most comprehensive and highest quality collection of Nina Dobrev clips on the entire Internet!  sciolist, I don’t know you, but I definitely couldn’t have written this post without you!)

Mia Jones – Degrassi

Nina Dobrev’s Season 6 debut on Degrassi: The Next Generation was MY first introduction to the actress.  On Degrassi, Nina played Mia Jones, an unwed teen mother, forced to transfer to a rival high school, after her’s burned down.  Forget 16 and Pregnant, Mia Jones had her baby, Isabella at age THIRTEEN! 

Mamma MIA!

Though no where near as complex and multi-layered as the two characters she plays on The Vampire Diaries, Nina definitely got the opportunity to flex her acting chops here, as a young mother, trying to balance the responsibilities of parenting, with her desire to do typical “teen stuff” like cheerleading, parties, and dating.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a real juicy Mia Jones clip on YouTube for you to enjoy. 

However, I did find this on-set footage taken from her first day on the job.  And it’s pretty darn adorable.  All I have to say is . . . hell hath no fury like a TV baby who WON’T STOP CRYING!

 

Ally – American Mall

Around the same time that she was starring in Degrassi, Nina also picked up the lead role in the very High School Musical-esque American Mall, an MTV original film about mall employees who sing their feelings . . .

American Mall certainly wasn’t going to win any awards in its time (and I may very well have been the only one who actually watched it when it first aired).  However, as cheesy teen musicals go, this one was surprisingly enjoyable.  And Nina was extremely likeable as Ally, the girl who worked at her mother’s music store, but would much rather make out with the hot singing janitor her OWN music . . .

Rosabella – Mookie’s Law

Sometimes I wish I was Canadian.  Because Canadian Teen Television is just AWESOME!  I don’t think there is any country in the world (including the United States) that almost exclusively caters its media products toward the young adult demographic, like Canada does!  It seems that every time I flip the channels, I am finding another obscure (but oddly awesome) Canadian teen show, on some obscure U.S. cable channel, and wishing I had access to it when it first aired, back in Toronto, or wherever. 

Did I mention that the same 8 young actors (including Nina, of course) seem to be in EVERY SINGLE MOVIE!  It’s like one big happy family up there, ay?

Nina Dobrev starred as the lead character’s love interest in Mookie’s Law, a short Canadian film that was written, directed by and starred Al Mukadam, who — if you are a Canadian TV junkie like me — you may remember as Ray from Radio Free Roscoe.  Oh, and you can bet that Degrassi star turned Big Time Rapper, Drake, is in this one too . . .  (See what I mean?)

Justine – My Daughter’s Secret

You know, people joke all the time about Lifetime movies, and how cliched and lame they tend to be.  But a lot of really talented actresses got their start in Lifetime movies, and Nina Dobrev is one of them.  In My Daughter’s Secret she plays Justine, a teen who got herself roped into a romance with a VERY BAD BOYFRIEND.  (And in Lifetime movies, aren’t they ALL very bad?)

Jessica Carpenter – Too Young to Marry

As far as Lifetime movies go, this one looks kind of fun!  (For starters, neither of Nina’s two leading men in it are abusive, or “bad news.”  YAY!)  In Too Young to Marry, Nina stars as Jessica Carpenter, a girl who married her high school sweetheart, Max, at age 17.  However, she begins to doubt the decision she has made, upon experiencing the joys of drunk college makeout sessions.  (And who can blame her, when, at least based on the clips, it seems like her “husband” spends half of the movie in bed . . . just sleeping?) 

It sucks to be the “Nice Boy” in a Lifetime Movie . . . you get no lines . . . and you never get laid, until the very end.

Interestingly enough, Dillon Casey, who plays Nina’s husband in the movie, also played Vampire Noah, the first bloodsucker who tried to attack Elena on The Vampire Diaries.

But Canadians will remember him better as the often-naked Trevor Lemonde on the hockey-themed soap opera MVP.  (He lasted a bit longer on that show, than on TVD . . . in more ways than one ;))

Loren – Never Cry Werewolf

I actually learned about this film when I was writing a recap for TVD’s Bad Moon Rising episode.  I came upon the movie poster, almost entirely by accident, during my search for a solid werewolf-themed picture to kick off the recap. 

In Never Cry Werewolf, Nina plays Loren, an innocent teen who learns that her next door neighbor is actually a bloodthirsty werewolf, in search of a hot young prepubescent mate, to howl at the moon with . . .  Interestingly enough, I read on Wikipedia that the film itself is actually a shot-by-shot remake of a VAMPIRE film from the 1980’s called Fright Night.  Only here, the vampire Big Bad Villain was inexplicably substituted for a werewolf one. 

Knowing this, as I watching the following scene, where Kevin Sorbo’s werewolf character ties up a scantily clad “Loren” and threatens to turn her into a “monster,” I couldn’t help but imagine how much BETTER the film would be if Damon Salvatore was in it . . .

Sorry, Sorbo!  I’m going to have to agree with Damon on this one . . .

 

Rachel – Hearts of War a.k.a. The Poet

Far from starring only in teen dramas, Nina also gained recognition in feature films as well.  In Hearts of War she plays Rachel, a rabbi’s daughter who falls in love with a Nazi soldier during World War II.

Bella – Fugitive Pieces

Going along with a World War II theme, Nina alsoplayed the enigmatic Bella in Fugitive Pieces.  Bella was the main character Jakob’s sister in the film.  Bella was taken away (and eventually killed), along with the rest of his family, by Nazis during the Second World War.  Only Jakob survived the raid.  As a result of this tragedy, Bella’s youthful and emphemeral image haunts Jakob throughout his life . . .

Anna – Chloe

Nina Dobrev provided some much needed levity (and pants-lessness) to this dark and twisted thriller about the complex psycho-sexual relationship formed between a married gynecologist (Julianne Moore), and the looney tunes call-girl (Amanda Seyfried) said gynecologist hires to seduce her husband (Liam Neeson).  Nina plays Anna, the girlfriend of the main characters’ son in the film. 

While she’s certainly nice to look at, “Anna” doesn’t exactly seem like the sharpest tool in the shed.  Check out Anna’s reaction when Julianne Moore’s character learns the young woman has spent the night in her son’s bed . . .

Goth Girl – Away from Her

Of all the Nina clips I’ve shown you today, this one, from the Academy Award nominated film Away from Her is probably my favorite.  It features Nina in a way we’ve never quite seen her before.  Goth Girl is a person who most of Nina’s other characters probably wouldn’t have anything to do with . . . well, except for maybe Vampire Katherine . . .

Something tells me these two would have A LOT of fun together . . .

Speaking of Vampire Katherine, I thought I’d end this tribute post with a fun little scene from The Vampire Diaries, in which Elena and Katherine come face to face with one another for the first time.  The scene is from an episode entitled “Memory Lane” from Season 2.  Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Nina Dobrev!  Here’s hoping your 22nd year provides you with as much fun and entertainment as your first 21 have given us!

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Filed under Nina Dobrev, The Vampire Diaries

“I’ll see you again, on this side or the other.” – A Review of the film “The Town” (contains some spoilers)

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret.  I used to have a massive crush on Ben Affleck.  I mean MASSIVE!  Just to give you an idea of the intense LOVE I had for this man . . . up until very recently, I had a rather large poster over my bed that may or may not have looked something like this . . .

 . . . and a smaller one in my living room, that may or may not have looked something like this . . .

Then something happened.  A little movie came out.  For argument’s sake, lets just call that movie . . . Gigli.

All of the sudden, it was considered less than “cool” to have a “massive crush” on Ben Affleck.  Friends who used to be fairly supportive of my little obsession, started teasing me mercilessly about it.  And whenever I had boys over (not that THEY ever really liked those posters anyway), my fandom was a subject of constant ridicule.

And yet, I stuck with my guns, and hung on to those posters . . . for a little while longer, at least.  Then, shortly after I moved back to New Jersey, I sold them to a lovely gay couple at my Aunt’s Summer Yard Sale.  I like to believe they are in a better place now . . . one free of judgment and Gigli-related abuse.

Now, I have yet to see Ben Affleck’s directorial debut film, Gone Baby Gone . . .

. . . but I’ve read enough reviews and watched enough award shows to know that (1) it was pretty spectacular; and (2) much of its spectacular-ness can be attributed to what I would like to call “Ben’s Mad Directorial Skills.”

So, when the trailers for The Town started showing up in theaters, and I saw that it was, not only directed by, but also starred my former love,Ben Affleck.  And when I saw that the cast included the Dapper Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm . . .

. . . the enigmatic, Jeremy Renner . . .

 . . . and Gossip Girl‘s Blake Lively, playing a strung out, much dirtier, ho bag than Serena van der Woodsen could EVER be . . .

. . . I just knew that I HAD to see this film!  And, let me tell you, I am THRILLED I did!

Based on a novel by Chuck Hogan, entitled Prince of Thieves . . .

(which the publishers have since cleverly renamed The Town, and slapped Ben Affleck’s pretty, but gritty, mug on the cover)

. . . The Town follows career criminal, Doug McRay (played by Affleck), as he tries repeatedly to “go straight.”  But when you live in a town like Charlestown, Massachusetts — which churns out bank robbers and crooks, like Yale University churns out lawyers and politicians — and when your best friends are THESE GUYS . . .

 . . . “going straight” is easier said than done. 

The film begins, as most films of this genre tend to begin, with a “routine” bank robbery.  And it only takes a few minutes, for us viewers to realize just what good criminals, McCray and his crew are.  From the creepy face-obscuring masks they wear on their mugs, to the inside men who disable the security cameras immediately upon their arrival, to the way they torch the place upon leaving, to destroy all the evidence, it’s clear that these are NO amateurs. 

That is one UGLY nun!

Yet, despite all of their painstaking preparation and skill, McCray’s crew runs into a little snag during the heist, and is forced to take a hostage.  They decide on Assistant Bank Manager, Claire Keesey (played by Rebecca Hall).

 They blindfold Claire, and pack her into the getaway car, but, ultimately, let her go.  Afterward, some of the crew express concern about Claire, and her ability to identify them to the FBI.  These concerns are intensified when a look at Claire’s driver’s license (which they stole) reveals that she lives in the neighboring town, just a few blocks away from the crew’s headquarters.  McCray’s best friend, the hotheaded, but loyal-to-a-fault, Jem Coughlin (played by Jeremy Renner), whose idea it was to take Claire as a hostage in the first place, offers to “take care of her.”  McCray, however, doesn’t want to see Claire get hurt (if such a thing could be avoided) and offers to take care of the situation, himself.

So, McCray stalks Claire a bit, and figures out that she leads a fairly solitary life (no quirky “Best Gal Pal” in this movie).  Eventually, he follows her into a laundromat (where all the cutest movie couples meet), charms her a bit, and asks her out for a drink.

Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens next. Of course, they fall in love!  (Duh!)  But what’s interesting about the way this plotline is acted and directed, is that, while certainly cliche, the relationship between Doug and Claire doesn’t seem all that contrived.  Affleck and Hall have a real natural chemistry.  Right away, you can see what appeals to these two characters about eachother. 

Claire is quietly unassuming, and incredibly straitlaced, without seeming judgmental or self-righteous.   She gardens during her spare time, and volunteers at the local Boys and Girls Club.  Doug, for all his tough beginnings, and dark past, is surprisingly shy and sweet.  He listens to Claire when she speaks, and genuinely expresses a desire to take care of her. 

And I’ll be darned if this odd couple didn’t end up having a remarkably normal courtship!  They go out to dinner together.  They take walks in the park.  They go out for coffee.  He buys her a pretty diamond necklace (probably with dirty money).  They have nice gentle sex in Claire’s Pottery Barn-decorated bedroom.  Bank robberies and hostages-takings aside, Doug and Claire are probably a lot like you and your significant other.

Suddenly, Doug’s desire to get out of the “racket,” becomes more than just an empty platitude.  Now, he really means it.  Because, now, he really has something, or, rather, SOMEONE to lose if he fails.  Now, if he could just get through this “One Last Job”  (well . . . maybe two).

It may sound odd, but, believe me when I say this: The Town is the perfect date movie.  It’s got enough action, chase scenes, explosions, and crook versus cop shoot-em-ups to please even the manliest of men.  At the same time, it boasts an intelligent script, complex likeable characters, some VERY pretty faces, and a surprisingly adorable romance, all of which are sure to satisfy even the girliest of females.

In addition to great plotting, exciting action, and a heartwarming romance between its two leads, The Town also offers a very strong supporting cast.  Jon Hamm is wonderful, as the tough-as-nails, gruff, and very-un Don Draper-like FBI Agent, Adam Frawley.  A lesser actor could have made this a very forgetable role.  But Hamm’s charm, intelligence, wit and natural grace, help make the Frawley character more likeable than a cop in a film about a criminal-with-a-heart-of-gold has any right to be.

Speaking of characters that you like more than you should, Jeremy Renner does a remarkable job of making Jem Coughlin a three-dimensional and tragic figure.  In many ways, Renner’s character is very similar to the one Affleck himself inhabited back when he played opposite Matt Damon in the spectacular Good Will Hunting (except Renner’s character is armed and dangerous).  Unlike McRay, Coughlin has resigned himself to a life of crime, running from the cops, and being relatively poor.  And yet, despite his knowledge that his best friend is smarter than he is, and perhaps destined for a better future, Coughlin still remains loyal to McRay.  He would literally do anything for him, even if that meant going to jail or losing his life.  Though you might not agree with his lifestyle choices, you’ve gotta respect a guy like that.

And then there’s Blake Lively, who absolutely impressed me with her portrayal of strung out ho-bag / baby mama, Krista Coughlin.

I’m SERIOUS!  This was NOT an easy role to play.  In the wrong hands, this role could have been at the very least, annoying, and at the worst, positively laughable.  But Blake brings Krista to life.  Her Boston accent is authentic.  Her breathy intonations, and pathetic attempts at seduction, speak to a life spent on one’s backside, screwing crooks, popping pills, and inhaling toxic fumes.  Blake more than held her own, during her scenes with Affleck, Hamm, and Renner. 

And you know what else?  Blake was FUNNY!  A few of her lines had me laughing out loud.  I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

Of course, no crime caper would be complete without Pete Postlewaite, of The Usual Suspects fame.

There’s just something about this guy’s face and demeanor — a hidden menace, perhaps.  Whatever, it is, the dude always manages to scare the stuffing out of me, even when he is doing nothing more exciting than cutting the thorns off a rose.

In short, The Town is highly entertaining and intriguing film.  The acting is nearly flawless, the plotting is tight, the action is high octane, and the directing is commendable.  Its enough to make me almost wish that I never sold those Ben Affleck posters .  . . almost.

The Town is in theaters now.  Will YOU see it?

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Filed under Ben Affleck, Movie Review, The Town

Explosions! Car Crashes! Deaths! Kisses! And the Twist to End all Twists! – A Recap of The Vampire Diaries’ Season Finale “Founder’s Day”

Prior to the airing of The Vampire Diaries first season finale, the show’s creator, Kevin Williamson, admittedly, set the bar pretty high for himself.  By all accounts, The Vampire Diaries had a freshman season most television shows only DREAM about . . . a cast that was both beautiful AND talented;

 a show concept that, in the age of Twilight  and True Blood, was pretty much guaranteed to be a ratings dynamo with the core 18-49 TV viewing demographic;

sharp and snappy writing, and brilliant plotting that was genuinely unpredictable, without a single “jump the shark moment.” 

Stay cool, Arthur Fonzarelli!  Your services will not be needed here this season!

After its midseason hiatus, The Vampire Diaries truly came into its own!  No more lame diary writing scenes and voiceovers, no more “Damon as crow” CGI-laced images. 

We all have to “eat a little crow” sometimes . . .

The show had become a lean-mean plotting machine, with each subsequent episode besting the one before it, both in terms of shock value and sheer greatness.

See?  Greatness!

As if there wasn’t enough pressure on Williamson to produce television gold this week, the show creator himself decided to up the stakes.  In a number of interviews he gave before the finale, Williamson promised a season-ending episode that would literally stop hearts!  E! Online and Entertainment Weekly both teased that the show’s finale, entitled “Founder’s Day,” would offer fans no less than EIGHT cliffhangers, a car accident, two major deaths, and a shocking first kiss . . .  

We can dream, can’t we?

To be honest, going into this finale, I was a bit worried for my good pal Kevin.   After all, he and I go WAY back to the early 00’s, during his Dawson’s Creek days.

Pacey and Joey, forever!

Oh, hush up, Dawson!

So I really, really didn’t want my old friend to fail.  And yet I feared that he would.  I mean, who could live up to ALL THAT HYPE?

Answer . . . this guy!

I am happy to report that, this finale did, in fact, deliver! (Did it EVER?)   It was truly everything all those spoiler blogs promised, and so much more! 

I did have one complaint though . . . There were no Shirtless Salvatores!   

Nor were there any open-shirted Salvatores!

Not even was there a Salvatore in wife-beater tank top!

 Not a single bit of skin to whet our appetites until next season.  Kevin, honey, I love you, but that’s just plain cruel!

Clearly, Dawson agrees!

Excess clothing aside, surprisingly, the finale still left me an extremely happy girl.  (And that’s saying a lot, especially considering how much I love my shirtless men!)  So, without further adieu, on with the recap!

“I’m Here to Eat Cotton Candy and Steal Your Girl”

Tonight’s finale started innocently enough.  It was the day of the Founder’s Day Parade, an event that probably looked a lot like your high school homecoming parade.  That is, if you were lucky enough to go to high school with super hot vampires, and if your school had a substantial wardrobe budget for historically accurate dresswear from the late 19th century.  (Come to think of it, it probably didn’t look like your school’s homecoming parade at all . . .) 

Our heroine Elena, with ringleted hair and a gown that made her look suspiciously similar to her (heretofore seen only in flashbacks) vampire doppelganger, Katherine, rode the high school’s premiere float, along with her escort, the no longer blood-crazed, Stefan, 

as well as the recently plotline-light couple, Matt and Caroline.

The CW is still paying us . . . We might as well make ourselves useful.

And then Damon magically appeared . . .

Sigh!

And boy was our newly out of the “Elena-closet” lover boy an emotional rollercoaster, this evening!   When we first see him, he is very much the cocksure badass we know from early Season 1.  When Stefan questions him about why he’s at this event, he remarks, in classic Damon fashion, “I’m here to eat cotton candy and steal your girl . . .”  (By the way, do vampires eat in Vampire Diaries’ world?  Because I’ve never actually seen it happen . . .)

Dear Damon,

BITE ME!

Signed,

Julie Cotton Candy

Unlike many television characters who find themselves on the outskirts of a love triangle, Damon is NOT a silent piner!  From the moment Isobel called Damon out on his love for Elena last week, he has made sure the world knows his feelings!  Starting with Stefan.  After having been surprisingly civil to one another these last few episodes, Damon and Stefan really went at it this week.  Snarky comments flew through their air like boomerangs in the Australian outback. 

 And yet, not a single punch was thrown!  In fact, Damon’s and Stefan’s encounters looked a bit more like “girly catfights” than, “macho man brawls.”  This made the interactions between them all the more adorable.

Catfight!  Ladies in your corners!

In other news, Damon confronts, Witchy (and Bitchy) Bonnie (who, thank goodness, is no longer sporting those awful bangs we’ve seen on her in past weeks) to “thank” her for curing Ancestor Gilbert’s “invention” of its Vampire Torture properties.  The scene is particularly interesting,  since we learned last week, that Bonnie only pretended to do this . . .

I bought you something, Bonnie . . .

“I can turn you, Jeremy.”

Poor Jeremy Gilbert.  It seems like this guy is an Angst Magnet.  Having recently re-learned about the tragic and bloody death of his erst-while girlfriend, Vicki Donovan . . .

Jeremy now has another dead body on his hands, his new vampire girlfriend Anna’s mother, Pearl. 

Having initially balked at the idea of turning Jeremy, Anna, now truly alone in the world, offers to turn Jeremy for real, going as far as to offer him a vial of her blood for safe keeping.  (Speaking of blood vials . . . remember when Angelina Jolie used to wear one of those around her neck?  And make out with her brother?  Good times!)

To a sincerely angry and depressed Jeremy, Anna extols the virtues of vampirism in a way that we heard echoed by nearly all of the vampires on this show.  “You can turn your feelings off, whenever you want.  It won’t hurt so much,” she explains.

And, I’m sorry, but I call BS right here.  Because, really, is there anyone on this show more emotional than the vampires?  First you have broody Stefan, who, though usually even-keel, gets  a single drop of human blood in his system, and quickly becomes a raving lunatic. 

Then there’s Damon, who alternates between making snarky comments, to breaking characters’ necks for no reason, to mooning over his sweetheart. 

 

(He looks hot doing all of the above, by the way.)

 And now, we have Anna, who has gone back and forth throughout the season between needing Jeremy and wanting to be left alone, wanting to turn him, and wanting to protect him from vampire kind. 

If THIS is vampires turning their feelings OFF, I’d hate to see them with them turned on . . .

Ummm . . . did I just say that?   Because I totally take it back!

“The Eye Thing”

Later, Elena stops by the Only Bar / Social Establishment in Mystic Falls and runs into Damon.  In a fabulous scene you may have seen posted on YouTube or, perhaps, on this blog, before this episode even aired, Elena confronts Damon about “Stefan’s concerns” regarding Damon’s “feelings” for her.  Initially, Damon plays it coy, as if to say, “I have no idea what on earth you are talking about.” 

However, Elena has his number, and calls him out on his “flirty comments” and  signature “eye thing,” (which I could watch on continuous loop for hours, by the way).

In fact, I think I WILL!

And yet, things start to get truly interesting, when Elena says these words to Damon, “Don’t make me regret being your friend.”

At this point Damon’s face falls noticeably.  Some might say, it’s merely because he has been explicitly tossed in the “friend zone.”  However, I think it is something more.  As callous as Damon might appear to the outside world, he truly loves Elena, and would much rather be her friend than nothing at all.  He nods imperceptibly, and probably for the only time this entire season, we watch Damon pine, just a little bit, as Elena walks away to talk to her brother. 

Elena tries to smooth things over with Jeremy, but he basically tells her to go to hell.  Damon hears this and promptly goes into full protective boyfriend mode, threatening Jeremy that he better be kind to his sister, “Or else.”

At which point, Stefan magically appears .  .  .

 .  . . and surprises us all, by openly admitting to Jeremy that, although Damon may have been the one to erase his memory, it was Stefan, and not Damon, who ultimately killed Vicki.

From a Whisper to a Scream . . .

It is not until the night of the Founders Day fireworks that the poo really hits the fan!  Here, we learn that the hidey hole vampires are back with a vengeance!  (And we thought they were gone!)  After all, thanks to the “Founders” these guys have been stuck underground since 1864, with nothing to do but be pissed off!  So, understandably, a lot of them have anger issues. 

To further complicate matters, Creepy Uncle John (who I guess we now have to refer to as “Father John,” since he seems to be Elena’s Daddy) . . .

I SO HATE THIS GUY!  (How the heck did Elena come out so NORMAL with Wackjob Bio Parents from Hell, John and Isobel?)

 . . . has decided to reenact that lovely old 1864 flashback, where the townspeople rounded up all the vampires and burned them to a crisp inside an abandoned building.  Except now, he has the “invention” to help him out.  He also, at first glance, has a traitorous vampire on the inside to help things along, Vampire Anna . . .

But all is not as it seems, because Vampire Anna is playing both sides.  She warns Damon of the respective plans of both the hidey hole vamps and Uncle John.  But before, Damon can rescue Stefan and “his girl,” Uncle John breaks out the crazy invention, and we finally get to see what it can do.  It’s a bit disappointing that the “invention” turns out to be nothing more than a dog whistle for vamps. 

 Turn it on and vampires crumble to the ground incapacitated, by what looks like nothing more than a super intense migraine.

As the invention “plays,” we watch as Anna, Damon, Stefan and the Hidey Hole vamps immediately fall to the ground.  This is not surprising.  What IS surprising is that the Mayor of the town is affected too, as is his son, Tyler . . .

 . . . who, while driving with Caroline and Matt, swerves upon hearing the sound, and gets into a massive car crash, leaving Caroline extremely wounded.  “But they aren’t vampires,” claims the Mayor’s wife / Tyler’s mother.

So what are they? If you’ve been reading online interviews about the show, it should be no secret that Tyler comes from a family of werewolves, a fact that will undoubtedly be explored in greater detail during Season 2 of this show. 

Who knew Ancestor Gilbert’s crazy invention extended to ALL supernatural creatures?  (How very True Blood of the show’s creators!)

All Hell Breaks Loose

In a scene eerily reminscent of those Civil War-era flashbacks from the Blood Brothers episode, Uncle John decks the town Sheriff, and proceeds to round up all the writhing headache-suffering supernatural creatures of Mystic Falls, tossing them into an abandoned building, which he promptly douses with gasoline.  Vampires Anna and Damon are inside, as is the Mayor of the Town.  Stefan, however, somehow manages to avoid the frey.  

If you recall, up until this point, Damon used to be on the Mystic Falls Vampire Killer Council.  Me thinks he won’t be invited back next year . . .

Elena sees Uncle / Father John entering the burning building, and tries to reason with him, explaining that she knows he is her father.

Don’t worry Elena, Father’s Day sucked for Luke Skywalker too . . .

Elena hopes that her admission will soften John’s heart . . . not so much.  The Evil Creepo Dude enters the building and STAKES ANNA . .

 . . . giving us our first major (and very sad) death of the episode.

The second death belongs to the Mayor, also killed on the scene, at the hands of Damon himself (having woken from his headache).  He does this, presumably in hopes that when this is all over, his true identity will not be exposed to the town.  (Did NOBODY else in Mystic Falls see the Extremely Hot Man writhing on the ground?  Unlikely . . . Sorry Damon!)

Outside the now-burning building, Elena, who has come to realize that her friend Bonnie is a total poopyhead, who lied about curing the vampire torture invention, confronts her fairweather friend.  The two duke it out a bit over the merits of dating and befriending vampires.   Then Bonnie starts mumbling some witchy hoo hah.  We worry she’s merely doing this to speed up the death process for the Grandma-killing blood suckers she hates so much.  However, she surprises everyone by stopping the burning, and allowing Damon to get free . . .

The Aftermath and the MAJOR OMFG Twist . . .

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Caroline remains in critical condition, and one of the eight cliffhangers of the episode is thereby revealed. 

Looks like you got a storyline, after all, Candice Acola . .  . but probably NOT the one you wanted, huh?

Another one follows shortly after.   A newly free Damon comes to see Jeremy, and admits to him that Anna is dead.  The two share a sweet and gut-wrenching moment, brilliantly acted by them both, in which they discuss, love, vampirism, and, of course . . . you guessed it . . . turning off one’s feelings.

  Surprisingly, Damon even goes as far as to apologize for how he treated (and ultimately turned Vicki).  Damon then offers to remove Jeremy’s memories again, but Little Gilbert declines.  The last time we see Jeremy, is staring forlornly at the mirror, drinking Anna’s blood and swallowing a mouthful of pills.  Will he die?  Will he turn into a vampire?  Or none of the above . . . It looks like we will have to wait until next season to find out . . .

With all of their friends rescued, Stefan finally has time to confront Elena about Damon’s purported feelings for her.   She assures him repeatedly how much she loves him.  And yet, me thinks thou doth protest to much . . .

Be afraid Stefan, be very afraid! – Love, Elena Cotton Candy (See what I did, there?)

Back at the Gilbert house, Damon is waiting outside Elena’s doorstep when “she” arrives home. 

In yet another heartfelt conversation  (And this episode had a TON!), a wistful Damon discusses the nature of his desire for redemption.  He feels fortunate that Stefan and Elena saw something in him, worth saving.  The two lean close to one another and . .  . wait for it . . . SHARE A HOT KISS!  At first it is small and chaste, on the cheek.  And then not so chaste, complete with hands around necks and fingers in hair.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good screencap of these two hotties . . . so look at this picture and imagine Isobel as Elena!  (Or YOU as Isobel . . . because that’s fun too!) 🙂

And at that moment the entire TVD watching population shares a big fat O, if you know what I mean . . .

In classic style, of course, that “O” is interrupted by none other than Useless Aunt Jenna, who forces “Elena” to come inside (and I don’t mean in a fun way, either) . 

Aunt Killjoy

(But note the “invitation,” because it’s going to become important, in just a few brief moments.)

As the two leave, Damon strokes his mouth, and you just know the memory of that kiss will take an eternity to erase.    And I would have been content for the episode to end right there .  . . but BOY was there more!  “Elena” heads to the kitchen and meets up with Evil Uncle / Father John, who tries in vain to explain his actions to his vampire loving daughter.  By way of a truce, he offers to cook a meal with her.  She complies . . . by grabbing the knife, and cutting off his hand containing the ring of immortality!  She then STABS HIM IN THE CHEST! 

And her then face gets all veiny and puffy eye baggy!  We know that look!  That’s not Elena at all!  It’s her doppelganger, Vampire Katherine! 

“I’m back bitches!  Thanks for inviting me in, Useless Aunt Jenna!”

Dun Dun Dun!

At the end of the episode a non-veiny and non-eye baggy Elena arrives home, calmly leaving a message for Stefan on her cell phone (I love you, blah, blah, blah).  She is completely unaware, of course, of the carnage into which she is about to walk. 

“Hey, Kev W!  What gives?  Why are you always picking on me?  Haven’t I been through enough?”

A potentially dead biological father?  A potentially dead or vampiric little brother?  An angry Aunt Jenna who thinks she’s a cheater?  A lovestruck Damon who thinks so too .  . .  but likes it?

Throughout this series, I’ve always totally envied Elena Gilbert’s life.  During this episode’s concluding moments, for the first time this season, I didn’t envy her  . . . AT ALL!

So, there you have it folks.  A brilliant end, to a brilliant first Season.  It’s truly been a wild and amazing ride recapping this fabulous show.  And I sincerely thank all of you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing it with me.  (Especially, Amy over at Imaginary Men, who shared my obsessive fangirl love through many a comment and email, and was still willing to speak to me, after our failed liveblog event.)

 And to show you all my thanks, I’d like to leave you with these lovely gifs, that may help ease the pain of a Salvatore Brother-less summer . . .

(The people over at Gif Soup are officially my NEW BEST FRIENDS!)

Until next season . . . (or until they start airing the reruns).  Bite ya later!  🙂

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Filed under Spoilers and Sneak Peaks, The Vampire Diaries