A Look at You’re the Worst- Season 1, Episode 3: “Keys Open Doors”

Keys Open Doors- Edgar brings a blanket to a naked Gretchen and Jimmy

By the time we get to the third episode, “Keys Open Doors,” Jimmy and Gretchen’s thing has developed to the point that they’re sleeping outside in the nude.  I won’t even begin to question how that happened, but this episode pushes their thing forward all through one simple question.

Keys Open Doors- Gretchen clarifies why she needs a key

First off, it’s worth noting that Gretchen and Jimmy are now comfortable enough around each other to be in the bathroom at the same time.  Even though Jimmy is in the shower, the two talk about their days back and forth like an actual couple.  For them both, that involves having tedious interactions with awful people, which they both are.  We also learn that Jimmy sits whenever he heads to the bathroom for any purpose.  Sitting is in his top five favorite activities.  Other ones include eating, shutting stupid people down verbally, bubble baths, and masturbating.  There’s also sex, sex with Gretchen, and sleeping.

But if you’ve ever been in a relationship to the point where you spent a considerable amount of time at the other person’s house, chances are that you’ll eventually want a key so you can come as you please.  It’s only natural, right?  Well, that’s just what Gretchen wants- a key to Jimmy’s place in the event that she needs to stop by and pick up her clothes.

Keys Open Doors- Jimmy doesn't want to give Gretchen a key

Jimmy, however, is completely shell-shocked by this proposal and only after Gretchen asks does she realize what she’s just done.  She’s quick to clarify that a key does not mean that their thing is progressing or becoming even more of a relationship-type thing.  She only wants it for her stuff.

Despite the clarification, Gretchen and Jimmy still have an awkward moment, but it makes sense for Gretchen to have a key.  The two have spent the past five or six nights together, but that’s only because, as Jimmy points out, Gretchen falls asleep after sex.  What should be a simple yes or no answer turns into a sort of argument as the two debate the merits of having a key.  Gretchen figures it’s not that special, though Jimmy says that a key is a sign of freedom.  Something suddenly hits Gretchen and she realizes that she has a lapse of sanity, so she leaves.

Keys Open Doors- Jimmy tells Edgar about how a key leads to predictability

If Jimmy didn’t have any feelings for Gretchen, he should have been able to let this go altogether and go about his business, but because he does care- but dare not admit it- he ends up spending the episode with this on his mind, starting with Edgar.  Edgar sees no issue with it.  Keys open doors.  Subtle.  Jimmy, though, sees keys as a symbol of unceasing, inexorable march of everything towards predictability, blandness, mediocrity.  Once Gretchen gets a key, the two of them will become bland, boring, and need things like emotional support.  Edgar figures that such things are worth enduring if you like the person, but there’s Jimmy’s problem: he doesn’t know how to like people.

Again, it’s a very small thing, but giving Gretchen a key would be a big step forward because she would always have a way in.  It shows that there’s a new level of trust between two people.  It would be a joyous occasion except Jimmy and Gretchen are about as anti-relationship as you can get, so they try to downplay the symbolism.  Problem is that the thought is stuck in their heads all day.  Edgar has a more practical reason as to why Gretchen may have been emotional: it’s her birthday.

And here’s the second thing that gets at Jimmy all day: sure, he and Gretchen acknowledge that their thing won’t work and that they are not in a relationship, but the fact that he wasn’t told about her birthday irks him.  He even sounds offended when he realizes that Gretchen didn’t tell him about her birthday.  But because Jimmy needs something to do this week, Gretchen left her phone at his place.  He offers to return it, while also doing snooping, though Edgar has a foolproof solution that I still find odd: he puts Gretchen’s phone in a brown bag and staples it.

Keys Open Doors- Lindsay's new diet

Gretchen, meanwhile, gets to catch up with Lindsay, who is desperately trying to lose weight since the other women at Paul’s job are thin.  Gretchen’s solution is simple- don’t try.  Lindsay is trying too hard to be someone that she’s not, even though she has a husband who loves her and no reason to change her appearance.  Despite this, Lindsay sees her life as boring.  Gretchen, though not grounded, is having more fun with someone like Jimmy.

The difference between the two is that Lindsay is constantly trying to better herself and move forward.  Gretchen, by comparison, is fine the way she is.  That’s not to say she’s against developing, but the fun she has with Jimmy is enough without any strings attached.  She wants things to stay the way they are and even wants Lindsay to regress.  Gretchen is afraid of growing up, we learn, as she tells Lindsay to divorce Paul, move back to the east side and start being interesting again.  Lindsay may not be as fun as she once was, but she’s at least growing up.  And yet, she still wishes for a more exciting life like Gretchen has.

Keys Open Doors- Lindsay talks about Gretchen's life

Like Jimmy, Gretchen speaks of Jimmy as if they’ve known each other for years, but when Lindsay asks about the director, Gretchen simply says that “It’s complicated.”  No, what Jimmy and Gretchen have is complicated, but Gretchen is completely devoid of emotion when talking about the director.

Keys Open Doors- Gretchen talks to Sam about his interview

The show reminds us that Gretchen does still have a job when she’s called into her office because of a problem: Sam was interviewed by the president of a local LGBT student union and called him a faggot.  Sam doesn’t see this as a problem, though.  He knew the guy was gay, said he was ‘hella fruity,’ but his generation sees no need to have fake personalities.  They accept everyone.  Well, almost.  Shit Stain doesn’t like Koreans for two reasons: their manipulative currency devaluation…and their eyes.  Ha.

Keys Open Doors- Jimmy reads a text message to Gretchen

Although Jimmy tries to tune out Gretchen’s continually buzzing phone, curiosity gets the better of him and he tries to unlock.  Again, if Gretchen were just a one-time thing, I doubt he’d even be trying to do this.  But it turns out that Edgar’s stapled bag proved more durable than Jimmy expected, as he’s unable to rip through it as quickly as he had hoped.  His reaction to a text from Ty- the director’s full name is Ty Wyland- is one of immediate surprise and a hint of jealousy.

Keys Open Doors- Edgar follows Jimmy

But ever faithful Edgar knew his friend would crack.  The look he gives Jimmy after seeing that he snooped on Gretchen’s phone still makes me laugh.

Keys Open Doors- Sam and Jimmy talk about Gretchen

After an awkward encounter where Jimmy tries not to ask about Gretchen’s plans, he and Sam talk outside.  He says to Sam that he and Gretchen were never a real thing, but doesn’t have a reason for it.  The practical reason would be fear, but Jimmy wouldn’t admit that.  What he does realize, however, is that he and Sam have something in common when it comes to Gretchen: they would not let any other woman talk to them the way that she does.  For as rude and arrogant as Gretchen can be- and believe me, Jimmy is just as much of an asshole- Jimmy and Sam have a special bond with her that isn’t shared with any other woman.

Keys Open Doors- Gretchen meets with Darren Kaplan

Gretchen ends up meeting with the man that Sam offended: Darren Kaplan, played by Trey Gerrald.  Not a whole lot happens with this scene, aside from Gretchen getting off one great line about Sam’s use of the word faggot.  She says “I love my client like the Black son I aborted in high school, but maybe you’re right.  Banning words is always the misguided byproduct of good social movements.”  She’d attempt hitting on Kaplan if he wasn’t gay.

Keys Open Doors- Jimmy confronts Gretchen about not being invited to her birthday gathering

In the first of many instances, Jimmy stalks Gretchen to a bar where she celebrates her birthday with friends.  Once again, if he doesn’t like her, don’t pay this any mind.  He even admits this to himself out loud when he says that she can do whatever she wants, but then he says what he wants to hear and heads in so he can ruin her date.  However, it turns out that it’s not a date, but just a gathering that didn’t include Jimmy.  He’s still upset that he wasn’t invited, but Gretchen has a reason for it.

Keys Open Doors- Ty presents Gretchen with a bottle of wine

That comes in the form of the director, Ty, and his girlfriend, Element, played by Kalia Prescott.  Element, like Hydrogen or Oxygen, or as Jimmy suggests, Arsenic or Radon.  Ty doesn’t find that very funny, yet Gretchen does.  And though Jimmy admits that he wouldn’t have come if he had been invited, the two manage to make up.  Gretchen even casually announces to everyone at the party, including Becca, that Jimmy is the guy she’s sleeping with, much to everyone’s surprise.

Keys Open Doors- Becca tells Jimmy that he and Gretchen are poison for each other

Becca tells Jimmy that this will never work because he and Gretchen are poison for each other, but Jimmy actually agrees with that.  In fact, he sounds overjoyed at the idea.

Keys Open Doors- Jimmy and Gretchen walk back to Jimmy's place

If I had any negatives about the episode, it would be that the ending is sort of a repeat of “Insouciance,” where the two make up their differences and realize that they don’t know what they’re doing in this thing they have.  The slight difference, and this may have to do with Gretchen being a tad bit drunk, is that she admits Jimmy is growing on her.  After all, Jimmy did decide to give her a key.  But then, he also gave Sam a key to give to Gretchen…

Keys Open Doors- Finding Sam and Darren

Yeah, this happens.  No, Sam’s not gay, but he does admit that Darren sucks pretty good dick.

Keys Open Doors- Jimmy and Gretchen back at Jimmy's place

So Jimmy and Gretchen’s friendship took a step forward, even if they didn’t want to admit it.  They said before that it couldn’t work out, yet they always seem to talk about one another when they aren’t around.  Gretchen found herself embarrassed at asking for a key when she had no reason not to.  She even tried to mask it when she left that morning, saying that it’s only a walk of shame if you’re capable of feeling shame.

Keys Open Doors- Jimmy sits whenever he can

The fact is these two can’t deny there are genuine feelings between them, but they won’t admit it because it proves their entire idea of love wrong.  It’d be great to stay young and carefree forever, but right now, Jimmy and Gretchen still have a lot of growing up to do.

Keys Open Doors- Lindsay eats

Whereas someone like Lindsay, who longs for that carefree life, does have a good life right now, but doesn’t appreciate it or her husband.  I should note that Lindsay and Edgar don’t have that many scenes early on and the show does make a point of addressing this soon, but I do like what material they’re given right now.

Keys Open Doors- Jimmy and Gretchen together

One of the issues I’ve heard when it comes to You’re the Worst is how little actually happens.  To be fair, that’s true.  The episode boils down to Gretchen wanting a key and having to do damage control at her job, while Jimmy just obsesses over the idea of a key and whoever Gretchen might be seeing.  Like Seinfeld, not a lot happens or gets accomplished, but it’s mostly setup to developing Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship.  Let’s move on.

A Look at You’re the Worst- Season 1, Episode 2: “Insouciance”

“Insouciance” keeps Jimmy and Gretchen’s ‘relationship,’ as Jimmy puts it in heavy quotation marks, very casual.  They talk and joke like they’ve been friends for life, but keep things straightforward.  Both still acknowledge how horrible they are.  After learning that Gretchen lied to the Spice Girls, Jimmy says “Dishonesty to spare someone’s feelings belittles everyone involved.  Dishonesty to get free stuff is just smart economics.”

Insouciance- Jimmy gets ready to masturbare

This episode also introduces two running jokes of the season: Jimmy’s chronic masturbation is one of them.  He loves to entertain himself- don’t we all?- and whenever we’re in his room, there’s almost always the same bottle of lotion on the table next to his bed.

Insouciance- Gretchen and Lindsay try free samples

The other joke is that Gretchen and Lindsay love to try free samples at the local frozen yogurt shop, but they never actually buy anything, much to the annoyance of the clerk behind the counter.  Think of the shop as the water cooler at work where employees talk about their day.

Insouciance- Gretchen gets honest with Jimmy

At this point, there’s still no sign of emotional attachment between the two.  As far as Gretchen is concerned, this thing they have is just for fun.  Jimmy doesn’t see a need to ask Gretchen what she’s looking for in this ‘relationship’ because they’ve acknowledged that it can end any time.  To them, this is just a game, with one trying to top the other.  We see this play out in the episode’s opening when Jimmy tries to masturbate with Gretchen in the room, but he can’t do it with her glaring daggers at him.

Edgar still plays the voice of reason.  He knows that Jimmy and Gretchen should and probably will end up together, but he goes a step further when he tries to set up a date between the two.  He is, in effect, the sidekick, which goes hand in hand with a conversation he and Jimmy have about identifying the villain, hero, sidekick, foil, and fool of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, with Jimmy convinced that Cameron is the villain.  This feels like a conversation you’d get on an episode of Seinfeld.

Insouciance- Edgar sets up a date between Jimmy and Gretchen

Problem is that Edgar can’t think up a good reason why Jimmy wouldn’t just ask Gretchen himself, but it’s been established that these two are trying to keep emotions out of this thing they have.  Gretchen’s reaction to the date is one of confusion, as if she can’t believe that Jimmy would even want to ask her out.

Insouciance- Jimmy and Gretchen's awkward date

But the date isn’t romantic or magical.  Rather than ask each other questions, they mock the idea of having to make a reservation and question why people would take photos of their dinner, a concept that I myself still don’t understand.  There are long, awkward pauses where the two don’t say anything because they aren’t conventional people.  Gretchen doesn’t want the exotic drink that Jimmy gets her, she wants something regular.  Gretchen even shudders when Jimmy awkwardly tries to put his arm around her.  Some would find that move charming, but to them, it’s unnecessary.

Insouciance- Communal dining

Also unnecessary for them is the idea of communal sitting.  This is supposed to be an intimate setting where, if you want to, you bond with the others at your table, but not these two.  There’s even some ripping on new-age dishes with Jimmy outraged at the price of pasta he thought was made of bald eagle’s foreskin, which he only assumed because he couldn’t think of anything soft and expensive.  One key difference between the two here is that Jimmy is quicker to retort with a sarcastic barb or remark, such as asking the waiter if the menu is electronic, in response to the waiter explaining how the menu works.

Here’s what makes the dinner scene work: Jimmy and Gretchen clearly don’t want to be here, but they’re sticking it out because to back out would make them quitters.  But while they try to do that, we also see them bicker like an actual couple when Gretchen brings up her period and how Jimmy figured he would see her in five days, when he assumed her period ended.  She held onto that because the comment, small as it may be, stuck with her.  Why hold onto that when, as you point out, there’s no attachment and it’s just for fun.  The two should just say whatever they like, right?  No.

Insouciance- Jimmy and Gretchen sort of make up

At the end, Jimmy and Gretchen are still indecisive about whatever they are, as Gretchen isn’t ready to explain to everyone what it is she has with Jimmy.  Jimmy feels that he had to take Gretchen out after how she reacted due to the period remark, but Gretchen didn’t want Jimmy to automatically dismiss her as a person the second she wasn’t available for sex.  The two think this ‘thing’ much further than they should for two people who are convinced that it won’t work out.  We learn that Gretchen actually does like the communal setting, but not with Jimmy.  Not yet.

Insouciance- Eating in a movie theater

So how do the two end this night?  They get take-out and bring it into a movie theater in one of the rudest, yet funniest endings of the show.  And then they have the audacity to take an attitude with people telling them to be quiet since, you know, others want to try and watch the film.  They crack open beers and rifle through their bags like they’re the only ones in the theater.  Jimmy and Gretchen are not two people you’d ever want to associate with, yet at the same time, I love them for the pathos and chaos they bring with them because they feel they’ve done nothing wrong.

Insouciance- Gretchen swipes the bookstore owner's cat

And to cap it off, they steal the local bookstore owner’s cat.  This will become more important later.  Not now, but later.

So “Insouciance” shows Jimmy and Gretchen just being friends, but also being careful not to cross that line from just being friends to something much more.  When I first watched this show, I wondered if it would fall into a ‘Will they, won’t they’ pattern every week, but the writers found a way to keep it fresh because Jimmy and Gretchen’s plans usually end up hitting a snag or not working out altogether.

A Look at You’re the Worst- Series Premiere: “Pilot”

I have not experienced the hubbub and fuss that is a relationship or true love.  For society’s sake, that’s probably for the best.  I’ve observed them on the sidelines and heard more good than bad, so I wonder how we can let the human mind can come up with something as insipid as love.  Let that be one of the few times I refer to The Matrix Revolutions.

But what is love?  Something that happens a long time?  An emotional mine field? Do you find the person attractive? What about moving in together?  Do you eventually want kids?  Do you prefer constant communication, the occasional text or, heaven forbid, a phone call?  You remember, back when we used our phones as phones.  My point is that, without having any personal experience, I’m guessing that there is a lot to relationships.

So why do I mention all of this?

In the summer of 2014, FX debuted two, well-written comedic gems that took the romantic comedy genre, turned it on its side, and then held it up to a cracked mirror.  The first of which is Married, which focused on a hapless, married couple, but I intend to focus on the other title- a title about two cynics that abhor traditional love, down to the point where they blanch at terms like boyfriend, girlfriend, and relationship.

However, their casual sexual relationship ends up becoming something more.  Simple premise, made better by pointing out the flaws of conventional relationships through having two unlikable people with toxic personalities somehow manage to get together.  More than that, we see why falling in love is so damn hard.

Comedy is in the eye of the beholder, but I will say this now: this was the funniest comedy that I watched in 2014.  Better than Californication, better than Veep, Silicon Valley, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Archer, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia…dare I say just as good, if not better, than Parks and Recreation. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you FX’s You’re the Worst.

Pilot- Happy Marriage of Vernon, played by Todd Robert Anderson, and Becca, played by Janet Varney

The series begins, appropriately, with the marriage of Vernon, played by Todd Robert Anderson, and Becca, played by Janet Varney.  Everyone is happy to come together and witness this joyous occasion of matrimony.  There’s a lot of talk of love in the room and the atmosphere is very celebratory.

Pilot- Introduction of Jimmy, played by Chris Geere

But these aren’t our main characters.  In the middle of this happiness is Jimmy, played by Chris Geere.  Jimmy is making his mark by taking pictures of his cock with all of the disposable cameras.  Classic move.  Jimmy is actually Becca’s ex.  He’s glad to be at the wedding…for the moment.

His less than pleasant words about comparing Becca’s marriage to a burning home creates a scene, but it’s what he follows that up with that gets him thrown out of the ceremony.  What does he say?  That will become more important later.  Not now, but later.

Pilot- Jimmy smokes with Gretchen, played by Aya Cash

Here, we’re introduced to our other protagonist: Gretchen, played by Aya Cash.  Gretchen knows Becca through her sister, Lindsay.  The two acknowledge that this marriage is a sham.  Though not intentional or for any romantic reason, the two connect through their cynicism and distaste for relationships.

Pilot- Jimmy and Gretchen talk after having sex

This leads to the two having sex and even swapping secrets, but there’s no emotional attachment at all.  They both realize that this won’t mean anything the next morning, yet instead of going to bed and forgetting all about it, they have sex more than once.  There’s something very raw about their sex.

There aren’t any over the top groans and it doesn’t feel like the show is trying to show you every little detail.  This is just two people having sex.  In fact, though things get steamy, they come to a screeching halt when Jimmy spits on Gretchen’s vagina while going down her.  She doesn’t like that, but Jimmy points out that saliva will get down there anyway.  She consents.

Pilot- Jimmy's roommate, Edgar, played by Desmin Borges, prepares breakfast

The next morning, we’re introduced to Jimmy’s roommate, Edgar, played by Desmin Borges, who whips up a mean breakfast, occasionally wants to do heroin, and is a war veteran that has nightmares, PTSD, and mild psychosis.  These two met when Jimmy was in college and bought drugs from Edgar.

We also learn that Jimmy is an author, but sales on his book didn’t go as expected, and he spent a ton of money on the house that he and Edgar live in.  Edgar, though he doesn’t say it, is thrilled at the idea of Jimmy bringing a woman over and she actually stayed the night.

Pilot- Lindsay, played by Kether Donohue, drives Gretchen to work. Lindsay tells Gretchen how many guys she blew

As Gretchen doesn’t have a ride to work, she gets a lift from Lindsay, played by Kether Donohue.  She can’t believe that Gretchen slept with Becca’s ex on the night of her wedding, though Gretchen doesn’t think much of it.  She does already know that she doesn’t plan to see him again, though.  The two had wild and crazy adventures until Lindsay ruined it by getting married.  How dare she!

Pilot- Gretchen apologizes on behalf of Sam Dresden, played by Brandon Smith, Shit Stain, played by Darrell Brit Gibson, and Honey Nutz, played by Allen Maldonado

Anyway, we then learn what it is that Gretchen does: she’s a publicist for an Odd Future-esque group: Sam Dresden, played by Brandon Smith, Shit Stain, played by Darrell Brit Gibson, and Honey Nutz, played by Allen Maldonado.  They trashed a stadium and Gretchen wasn’t there.  Though the three come off as Black stereotypes, not only do they seem to be in on the joke, they know more than one would give them credit for.

Pilot- Gretchen tells Jimmy that she would have gone home with anyone

Gretchen returns to Jimmy’s place just to pick up her purse.  Jimmy uses this as an opportunity to call their encounter amateur hour and wonder aloud why Gretchen would even stay.  There’s no kiss and make up here.  Gretchen cuts her prepared speech, but then lays into Jimmy for attacking a bride at her wedding night and even saying that she would have gone home with anyone, so no need for either of them to make something of their one night stand.

Pilot- Edgar tells Jimmy that Gretchen staying must mean something

Oh, but Jimmy’s not off the hook yet.  That evening, he plays video games with the neighbor boy, Killian, played by Shane Francis Smith.  Edgar, instead of just using his words to tell Jimmy to pursue Gretchen, forces him into a headlock and reminds him that Gretchen staying means something.

Jimmy doesn’t think much of Edgar’s advice, given his state of mind.  Edgar, however, states that he was defending his country.  And this leads to one of the best exchanges of the premiere.

“You weren’t defending anything except for the business interests of evil men.”

“Jimmy, our country is the business interests of evil men!”

“…that may be the most intelligent thing you’ve ever said.”

Nonetheless, Jimmy can’t go and drink the night away because Gretchen’s made off with his car.  She took his keys when she came for her purse.

Pilot- Gretchen visits the director

Gretchen’s day isn’t much better.  She visits an old director pal, Ty, played by Stephen Schneider, and they have sex, but the difference is that even though there was no emotional connection between her and Jimmy, she at least had a good time and could have a fun conversation with him.

Pilot- Gretchen does cocaine

Here, however, there’s no interest whatsoever.  The director says things like “You’re a marvel,” “That’s delicious,” and “That’s terrific,” but when Gretchen spits on his cock, he’s so turned off by it that Gretchen takes a break so she can go snort cocaine.  It’s amazing what we’re able to get away with on television these days.

Pilot- Gretchen admits that she's scared

The premiere comes to a close with Jimmy calling Gretchen.  He knows that she stole her car, but he doesn’t tell her to apologize for calling him the worst or for her speech, even if it was a tad bit mean.  His favorite kind.  She tells him about setting her school on fire, and while the director was aghast at it, Jimmy finds it quite funny.

Though Jimmy admits that he lied to Gretchen: he does have a foot fetish.  He denied it before.  He can’t find the right porn to masturbate to, so Gretchen tries her luck. Gretchen then gets honest: she’s scared of what could happen between the two of them.  She doesn’t like it.  But hey, if they both know that it can’t work, then there’s no harm.

This is just how the show begins.  I think it’s a strong way to introduce the tone of the program and sets up how these people really are, in fact, the worst.  These people are big kids.  They don’t know yet what they want in life, but want some certainty when they see their friends leading successful lives. But is that success real or just a front?  Jimmy tells Gretchen early on that getting married doesn’t remove you from the burden of being a human being.

Jimmy and Gretchen see themselves as more authentic than everyone around them because they have nothing to hide.  People may not like them, but as long as they’re staying true to themselves, they’re still happy. Jimmy and Gretchen would be the flies in the ointment: they’re cynical, crass, don’t pull any punches with their words, and aren’t all that attentive to their respective best friends.

Gretchen is jealous of Lindsay for growing up and getting responsibilities.  She even threatens to stab Lindsay in the tits if she happens to get her real estate license.  A great friend.  Growing up is scary and we don’t want to be alone forever, but we don’t want to just get with someone for the sake of having a companion.  That’s the kind of life that Jimmy and Gretchen want to avoid.

Pilot- Gretchen stares off while having sex with Jimmy

I like to think of Jimmy and Gretchen as the anti-couple.  They share a few things in common with your average couple, but with an added dash of cynicism.  The first time they have sex, Gretchen says aloud that she doesn’t even find Jimmy attractive.

Pilot- Jimmy doesn't care that Gretchen doesn't find him attractive

Jimmy’s response is “What does that have to do with anything?”  Hell, she’s not even looking at him- she’s staring off to the side while munching gum.  She stays the night not because she wants to or has grown close to Jimmy: she’s just lazy and prefers to leave in the morning.

Pilot- Jimmy and Gretchen don't do relationships

And yet, from the way they stare into each other’s eyes or find comfort in talking to one another do you realize that these two are made for one another, even if that goes against their natural instincts.  They’re afraid of commitment, but they’d be hard pressed to find anyone else that’s compatible.

Gretchen grows bored with the director because he’s a dullard, but Jimmy, crass and sarcastic as he might be, is a breath of fresh air.  It also helps that the two bounce off of each other well.  For every sarcastic, smartass remark that one has, the other is ready with a counterattack.  Jimmy himself revels in being able to see people for what they really are- a perfect match for someone like Gretchen.

Pilot- Jimmy goes down on Gretchen

A lot of the conventional tropes we’ve come to expect from romantic comedies are turned on their side here.  There’s also no instant spark between Jimmy and Gretchen, who both admit that they don’t do relationships.  The sex just sort of happens.  When Jimmy calls Gretchen pretty, rather than her falling for him in one swoop or paying him back a compliment, she responds “Thanks?” as if she’s unsure how to react.

Though Jimmy didn’t seem to call her pretty with the expectation of getting something in return- he just made an observation.  Instead of Edgar giving an impassioned speech about how Jimmy needs to go get the girl, he strangles him to make him understand that Gretchen staying the night meant something.

Pilot- Jimmy and Gretchen talk about doomed marriages

And we don’t end on an “I love you,” “I love you too” moment, but instead, Gretchen plays up Jimmy’s foot fetish to help him get to sleep.  I haven’t spoken a lot about the performances yet, but Chris Geere and Aya Cash are excellent in their portrayals of a pair of hapless cynics.

Very little seems to satisfy Gretchen and Jimmy aside from just talking to one another, but they’re looking to avoid commitment.  The fact that the two believe nothing can come of their ‘thing’ already clues you into to how this season will end.  But let’s take our time and move on.

A Look at Veep- Season 4, Episode 7: “Mommy Meyer”

Ah, the dreaded gun control question.  Always a fun topic, but if you’re Tom James, you can talk your way out of anything because you’re just that good.  If you’re Mike, though, the press secretary who is supposed to be good at talking, your life is just one massive headache.

Mommy Meyer- Mike talks to Wendy about the Families First bill

The episode begins with Mike and Kathy having breakfast.  It may be the only good moment that Mike has this entire episode, as he’s not looking forward to work.  He’s been getting hammered by the press on the Families First Bill.  Well, that was the original name.  Selina wanted it to be called the Meyer Bill, but the press likes calling it the Mommy Meyer Bill instead.  Kathy tries to encourage Mike, telling him that Selina won her first debate thanks to him.

Only two more debates to go, but the next one is on foreign policy- basically a pop quiz on the entire world.  Mike heads off and promises to get something for Kathy’s birthday, which is today, and which he forgot.

Mommy Meyer- Team watches Selina's debate performance

At the White House, while Team Selina watches the President’s first debate performance, Sue informs Selina that her dinner guests are confirmed for tonight.  Selina’s getting back together with some friends from Selina’s old law firm.  Also, there’s been a shooting in Pittsburgh.  Four dead, including the gunman, who was an ex-Marine.  Selina tells Sue to get Mike on drafting a statement.  Apparently, he has a thoughts and prayer template.  I can’t tell if that’s a good way to save time or just incredibly awful.

Mommy Meyer- Amy and Dan at the American Concrete Federation Convention

Elsewhere, at the American Concrete Foundation Convention, Dan and Amy find themselves lobbying for…well, concrete.  To assist, they need the help of sale bait.  As in independent, well-educated, young women that also happen to be very hot to lure congressmen into the room in a way that is deeply feminist.  I suppose that’s a better way to look at it than hot girls with tits and ass that use their assets to draw in men, but that’s just me.

Mommy Meyer- Mike speaks to the press about the 'Mommy Meyer' bill

Mike holds a press briefing and answers questions about the potentially doomed Mommy Meyer Bill.

Mommy Meyer- Team Selina discusses the Families First bill

Elsewhere, the rest of the team discusses the bill, which is getting crucified on the Hill, just like that Jesus guy.  O’Brien isn’t a fan of it and even issued a statement: “If Families First is passed, the whole concept of family will come to an end.”  Selina doesn’t care, though.  She feels that the people love it, but Tom disagrees.  People want to pay for their families, not other families.

All of a sudden, security swarm the room.  There’s an intruder and all precautions must be taken.  Much to Bill’s surprise, there is no secret bunker or elevator that leads to a secret bunker.  Soon enough, the culprit is caught, but apparently he came “to kill Tom James and that bitch.”  Never mind that someone set out to kill Selina- he didn’t even know her name.  Anyway, Kent heads off to help set up for Tom James’ town hall event.

Mommy Meyer- Richard and Jonah at the set-up for Tom James' town hall

At said setup, Richard and Jonah work with the lights and audio for the town hall.  Jonah is glad to be out and about on the campaign trail.  It really helps you forget about being molested.

Mommy Meyer- Mike sees the press laughing at a video of him ducking

Back at the White House, Mike notices members of the press watching what I think is either a gif or Vine video of him ducking when he heard about the shooter at the press conference.  Assuming this all takes place in real time, someone was able to create this in very little time, but hey, that’s technology for you.

Mommy Meyer- Catherine and Selina have lunch

Catherine finds it hard to believe that someone like the President can get an award from a country one day, and then almost be killed on another.  Selina isn’t too worried, though.  She’s more focused on tonight’s dinner- she only wants pizza.

Mommy Meyer- Amy and Dan meet with clients and congressmen

Back at the concrete convention, Sidney introduces Dan and Amy to Aiden Grant, played by Graham Winton, who won the previous Mexican border fence contract.  He would like to win the new one as well, which means he needs to speak with Congressman Martin, but not his obvious erection.  Obviously.

Mommy Meyer- Tom James' town hall, question on gun control

We then cut back to the town hall, where Tom James speaks about the connection between the lack of education and poverty, as well as poverty and crime.  Families First will break that link.  But then someone asks James, in light of the shooting in Pittsburgh, if it’s time for stricter gun control.  James’ response?  Reaction is easy, but understanding is hard.  Isn’t it possible that the shooter was also a victim?  After all, we’re talking about an ex-Marine whose mine was maimed in the service of his country.

Kent relays this to Ben, who tells him to make Tom stop talking, but it’s no good.

Mommy Meyer- Selina takes questions from the press

And no one at the White House is able to warn Selina about Tom’s comments in time before she directly addresses the press.  Luckily, she ducks out and lets Mike do his thing just when one reporter asks whether the President shares Tom James’ views on the shooter in Pittsburgh.

Mommy Meyer- Sidney, Amy, and Dan discuss Tom James' comments

Over at the concrete conference- this subplot isn’t really that interesting, if I’m honest- Sidney learns that Tom James may have just made himself an enemy of every stupid person with a gun, of which there are many.  If nothing happens now, the gun and security clients will wonder why they pay Sidney Purcell so much money, which is bad because he needs them to pay him and not try to shoot him in his sleep.

Amy suggests putting Congressman Reece in front of a camera so he can criticize Tom James for sympathizing with murderers.  In turn, Sidney Purcell is spared from any unhealthy gun debate.  Dan gets right on it.  Purcell notes that he enjoys this sibling rivalry between Dan and Amy, which would make him Daddy.

Mommy Meyer- Mike has had a shitty day, talks about the Families First bill with the team

At the White House, Selina is worried about Tom James being a loose cannon and if the press will know that she chose him at the last minute.  But then she and everyone tears into Mike for not being able to handle the situation, as well as the naming of the Mommy Meyer Bill.  Mike tries to stand his ground in an admirable show I can’t help but enjoy, but he’s outnumbered and overwhelmed.  It’s been a long, damn day.

Mommy Meyer- Tom apologizes for his comments

Back at the town hall, Tom James has a prepared statement, but he prefers to speak from the heart instead.  Nothing he says will help the victims, but he can say that he’s very sorry if he added to their grief.  It’s actually that simple.

Mommy Meyer- Tom speaks with Richard and Jonah, learns about another data breach

Jonah and Richard are so enthralled with Tom James’ apology that they think he should apologize for all of their screw-ups, like the data breach.  Tom initially thinks that they’re just talking about Jennifer Graham, but the two let on more than they know, prompting Tom to believe that there’s another data breach he didn’t know about.  He offers the two a ride back to DC.

Mommy Meyer- Sidney tells Dan and Amy that Tom James apologized

Sidney then learns that Tom James has apologized, but he doesn’t want to get rid of the gun guys since gun folks apparently don’t like it when you take things from them.  Go figure.  However, now Sidney wants to jump on mental health issues.  He introduces Amy to Alex Barry, played by Armand Schultz, from Gemmill Pharmaceuticals.  What’s a pharmaceuticals guy doing at a concrete convention?  Well, construction brings builders, builds bring sex workers, and sex workers bring STDs.  A very virtuous circle.

Mommy Meyer- Selina reunites with her friends

Selina finally gets to reunite with her friends: Anna, played by Suzy Nakamura, Deborah, played by Mo Gaffney, and a third woman played by Patricia Kalember.  The four bond, but things have changed between them.  For example, Deborah, now working pro bono, has been sober for five years and Anna’s husband died, so Anna ended up remarrying.  Her husband wasn’t gay- just an asshole.

Mommy Meyer- Friday Night drinks with the guys

Tom brings Richard and Jonah with him to Friday night drinks, which the crew has done for the past five years.  Well, presumably not that long for Bill.  Everyone is overjoyed for Tom managing to save the day, but they then wonder if there’s anything else about him that they should know.  There is: he thinks drugs should be legalized.  Having seen what his son went through, he thinks that it’s the only way.  That doesn’t sit well with the rest of Team Selina.

Soon enough, Tom wants to know about this other data breach.  Mike, though he’s a spokesman and apparently isn’t supposed to say anything, spills that the Meyer campaign used the health records of dead children to target and appeal to voters who were recently bereaved parents.  Tom could flip out and ask how the fuck this happened, but he just wants to move forward.  The men toast to even more shit.

Mommy Meyer- Dinner with friends, Anna, played by Suzy Nakamura, Deborah, played by Mo Gaffney, and Patricia Kalembar

Dinner with Selina and friends isn’t going that much better.  Her friends aren’t huge fans of the Families First Bill because of the added amendments- at least they read the bill- and think that Selina hasn’t thought through the tax margins.  However, based on Tom James’ appearance on “Meet the Press,” they would be in favor of the bill if he sold it.  But don’t worry, Selina.  They believe in you as well.

Mommy Meyer- Second gunman

And what other way to end the episode than with another lockdown?

“Mommy Meyer” was a good episode.  It illustrated how difficult running a presidential campaign can be when the president’s ideals and beliefs don’t match up with their running mate.  That’s not a rarity, but you’d expect their views to at least line up more often than not.  Consider how President Obama’s views on gay marriage didn’t really evolve- or flip flop, you decide- until Vice President Joe Biden brought it up.  You want the public to love you, but you also want them to know and believe that you and your partner agree on many things.

Mommy Meyer- Tom James gives his opinion on the Families First bill

That’s not really possible for Selina and Tom James, who isn’t trying to be a thorn in Selina’s side at all, but just sees some things a bit differently than her, based on his personal experience.  He calls the gunman a victim because of his history with war and he wants drugs legalized because of the time he’s spent with his son.  He isn’t just throwing out random positions and stances for political convenience, as we’ve seen Selina do before, but standing by what he believes.

Mommy Meyer- Tom tells the guys that he's in favor of legalizing drugs

Such stances are what put him at odds with the rest of the team, but not the general public.  Selina’s friends speak with adoration about Tom James, and his off-the-cuff apology for his remarks were so easily accepted by the public that it’s a surprise that they ever had any issue with what he said.

Mommy Meyer- Tom is sorry for his remarks

So though James is a bit more personable than Selina, we do see that he can stumble, which also makes him more relatable because we see that he isn’t perfect.  Not that James ever gave off that vibe, but he does appear a bit more careful than Selina.  In the end, Tom still had a good day.

Mommy Meyer- Mike is fed up

But the person who didn’t have a good day was Mike.  If I could think of an alternate title to this episode, it would be “Everybody Hates Mike.”  He’s come a long way since the inauguration.  At first, the press loved Mike, but the honeymoon is over.  That applies to everyone, but Mike, unlike Dan and Amy, has managed to keep it together, despite the difficulty of his job.  He’s the voice of the administration.  If something goes wrong, he gets shafted.  If something goes right, Selina is credited.

Mommy Meyer- Wendy cheers up Mike

It’s unfortunate because we see that he still wants to devote time with his wife, who is so patient and loving, despite how stressed out he is.  I did like the breakfast scene between Mike and Wendy.  We see Catherine and Selina together a lot, but we don’t get to see the personal lives of the rest of the team.  Mike, though, wants to have a healthy relationship with Wendy, but the job is taking its toll on him.  I’m glad he stood up to Selina, despite quickly backing down, because we see that even he isn’t willing to just be a shit kicker.  Given how Bill is now the Director of Communications, I would be surprised if he didn’t take Mike’s spot, should Mike decide to jump ship.

Mommy Meyer- Dinner with Catherine, Selina, and Selina's friends

As for Selina, we get a glimpse of how her life before politics took over, and she came off as more carefree and open with her friends.  At first.  As the night went on, their lives became too different.  Friends drift apart.  We don’t like it, but people change and move on to other endeavors.  In Selina’s case, not only did her friends change, but they’re also critical of her work as President, as seen when they say they’d buy the Families First bill if Tom sold it.  The more I think about it, people take their issue more with Selina than with her policies.

Mommy Meyer- Ben tells Selina what the shooter said

After all, the first shooter said he came to kill “Tom James and that bitch.”  He didn’t even refer to Selina by her name.

Mommy Meyer- Sidney thinks of himself as Dan and Amy's Daddy

The subplot with Dan and Amy wasn’t all that interesting to me.  I mean, I liked them giving a pep talk to the sales bait and Sidney thinking of himself as Dan and Amy’s father, but most of this subplot involved them reacting to things happening with Team Selina.  If the concrete lobbying is setup, then fine, but I just wish it was more engaging than it was this week.

With three episodes left this season, I’m curious how Veep will wrap up with Selina.  She’s trying to do well, but the odds seem to be against her and more in favor of her running mate, I think, but I could be wrong.  You can never underestimate the power that is Hugh Laurie.

A Look at Orphan Black- Season 3, Episode 6: “Certain Agony of the Battlefield”

So it was sexually transmitted after all.  Well, now you know to keep away from those Castor boys.

The episode begins in Sarah’s cell.  She walks out of her holding room and enters the courtyard, only to find it empty.  Upon hearing laughter, Sarah explores and ends up finding, of all people, Kira.  Sarah follows her daughter until it suddenly gets dark, but they’re able to take cover in a tent.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Sarah's vision, finds her body connected to Rudy's

And that’s where Sarah enters an examining room and sees both her body on a bed, Rudy next to her on another.  Connected by a vial, the two rest as blood works its way from Rudy to Sarah’s neck.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Sarah realizes she still has a mark on her neck

Sarah awakens, but finds that she still has the same bandaged point on her neck.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul meets with Tom Barnett

Paul meets with a man, played by Tom Barnett, and gives him the black book containing research Castor soldiers took on their companions.  Such research on civilians is unsanctioned and has nothing to do with Castor psychology.  The man is willing to pass this to the director, but Paul will need more proof about what Dr. Coady is doing.  Until then, they can’t act.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Mrs. S and Felix talk with Kira

Mrs. S and Felix have a Skype call with Kira, who is doing well, but wonders if her mother is mad at her.  When the call ends, Felix lets his real feelings loose: he’s very much worried about Sarah.  It’s been five days and even if S’s people have located Castor headquarters, they still don’t have any new information on Sarah.  As for Gracie, who is just looking for something to do, S assures Felix that Cosima is working on how to counter this disease.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Shay goes over to Cosima

Cosima should probably work on remembering to answer her phone, as Shay points out that she slept through other calls.  Cosima also apparently said the name Sarah while dreaming.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Alison and Donnie make it rain

Meanwhile, in one of the most entertaining moments of this episode, Alison and Donnie make it rain in celebration, they wall twerk- they do it all!  Gemma enters and the two remember that they have parental responsibilities.  Well, Donnie does, as he has to drive the kids to karate, while Alison is set to meet with Jason.  Donnie wants to be there.  Yes, he’s a tad savage jealous, but paying this debt is serious business and he wants to play his part.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Delphine returns

So Cosima finally shows up late, much to Scott’s annoyance, and learns, much to her surprise, that Delphine has returned.  She got back as soon as she found out that Sarah was missing.  Delphine is now protecting Leda, but Castor remains impenetrable- exactly why Delphine warned Sarah against trying to go after them.  Delphine also reveals that she knows about the retrieval of a Castor brain.  How?  They ran the tissue through this lab, and Dr. Nealon is no fool.

Delphine shows Scott and Cosima something interesting: the same misfolded protein in both the dead Castor boy and Gracie Johanssen.  The two were studied in isolation, though, so there was no reason to compare.  However, Delphine feels that this warrants a follow-up.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul checks on Sarah, speaks with Dr. Coady

Back at the base, Mark checks in on Sarah, who is shaking, burning up, and wants out, even if that just involves a gun and car.  She also calls Paul the worst, as she doesn’t even know where he stands.  Dr. Coady enters and tells Paul that Sarah will be fine- she’s just suffering from the effects of an anti-inflammatory.  Sarah protests that something else was done to her and that Rudy was present, but Coady leaves with Paul to fill him in on the current situation.  If the desert doesn’t get Helena, then Rudy will.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Helena eats the scorpion

Speaking of, Helena runs through the desert and collapses from exhaustion.  The scorpion taunts Helena until she decides that she’s hungry.  Bye-bye, scorpion.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul talks to Dr. Silva about Sarah's condition

Paul asks Dr. Silva about Sarah’s condition, but Silva says that he wasn’t there.  Sure, Coady usually shares what’s going on, but things have changed since Paul left.  When he did, everyone was trying to cure sick soldiers.  One day, Rudy came back from leave and had a sick girl with him- bloodshot eyes and everything.  Dr. Coady cured her.  Silva didn’t think much of it, but then science took a turn.

Things got more secretive.  The boys were told to record intimate contacts, meaning take hair samples, and Silva would test them for genetic purposes.  Though Coady says that it’s for security purposes, Silva thinks that it’s really to get baseline numbers.  Either way, Coady keeps her materials in her quarters.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Delphine and Cosima talk when Gracie and Felix arrive

Delphine tries to make small talk with Cosima about her missing work and whether anything is wrong, but Cosima assures Delphine that there’s nothing she needs to know.  Felix and Gracie arrive, though Felix needs some help from Scott, and by that, I mean that Felix wants to be taken to Rachel for some Castor information.  Though Scott isn’t supposed to know where Rachel is, Felix is desperate at this point.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul needs Mark's help

On base, Paul talks with Mark, who reveals that he fell in love with Gracie Johanssen.  Paul needs Mark’s help with some unofficial business.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Alison talks with Jason when Donnie arrives in a sweet ride

Alison meets up with Jason to pay him in full, meaning that her part is done, but she wants to take this business to the next level.  But then Donnie rolls up in a fine-ass car that only cost him $10,000, which he paid in cash.  Donnie doesn’t know the meaning of the word conspicuous, apparently.  Plus, that could attract the attention of the authorities.  Donnie doesn’t think cars are conspicuous since they’re everywhere.  He makes a persuasive argument.  Jason tells the two that they need a front since selling garage made soap won’t cut it.  Luckily, Alison has a business plan she’s been mulling over for awhile.

Back at the base, Mark gives Paul a key.  The two have five minutes.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Delphine and Cosima examine Gracie

Over at DYAD, Gracie learns that the protein is in her bloodstream and is similar to something in one of Mark’s brothers.  It’s possible that this is how the Castor clones transfer it to other systems.  The protein can have different effects on different people.

As this happens, Paul enters Coady’s quarters and, after going over some files, learns that the disease is contagious and sexually transmitted.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul confronts Dr. Coady about the Castor pathogen

Paul confronts Coady to place her under arrest for sterilizing women.  Coady isn’t worried and even admits to giving Sarah the Castor pathogen.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Sarah's vision, talks with Beth

In her dreams, Sarah follows a girl- I think the same girl from the end of Season Two- and ends up in Mrs. S’s place, where she meets Beth, who has been thinking about the day Paul moved in.  He had two suitcases to his name, which should have been a red flag, but she was gaga for him.  Though Sarah barely got to know Beth, Beth tells Sarah that she doesn’t get to miss her.  Sure, Sarah keeps stumbling and took over Beth’s life, but we do terrible things for the people we love.  It’s time for Sarah to stop asking who and start asking who.

Paul calls the man from the bench about the evidence and medical records that go back two years.  He also informs the man that Coady is confined to quarters and the camp is on lockdown.  Good.  Paul will now need a formal Removal of Command order and an extraction team.  The man will now tell the director, hopefully, but he can have a team there in six hours.  Rudy’s patrol is still out and searching for Helena, though.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Felix screws around with Rachel

Rachel’s painting time is interrupted by the arrival of Felix, who wants to know about Castor and Sarah’s whereabouts.  But Rachel’s condition and inability to speak properly means Felix isn’t getting the information he needs fast enough.  He paints on Rachel’s eye patch and yells that he wants to know where his sister is, though Rachel tells Felix that she wants to be taken out of here.  As Felix and Scott leave, Scott notices some diagrams on Rachel’s paintings.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Alison shows her mother's store, Bubbles, to Jason

Alison shows Donnie and Jason her potential store front: her mother’s store, Bubbles.  It’s a reputable local business and is centrally located for distribution.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Rudy learns that he's needed at base

Out in the desert, Rudy receives a call.  There’s a situation at the base.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Delphine watches Shay and Cosima

Once Gracie and Cosima have left, Delphine watches footage of Shay and Cosima- as well as having tons of photos of the two- and sees that Cosima originally wanted to slow things down with Shay, but now just wants to make out for several hours.  However, that’s sidetracked by a call from Scott, who brings up the weird symbols in Duncan’s book: Rachel may have the code.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul fills Sarah in about the human sterilization trials

Paul fills Sarah in about the human sterilization trials, but Sarah hasn’t shown any of the same symptoms as the other women.  Sarah asks Paul if he loved Beth, and he just responds that what happened with Beth is something that he’ll carry forever.  They were looking for a cure and thought that DYAD had answers.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul and Sarah speak with Dr. Coady

Paul and Sarah speak with Dr. Coady, who is surprised that Sarah isn’t hemorrhaging.  Coady knew that Sarah would beat it because Castor and Leda have the same disorder.  It attacks the men’s brains, but the women’s epithelial tissue.  Due to Sarah’s fertility, she can fight off the disease.  Coady is infecting innocent women to understand.  She didn’t put it in the boys- she just found it, meaning that it was engineered.

Paul realizes that this is a field weapon that could be isolated to develop in other forms.  Exactly.  Coady is willing to do this because it could apparently end wars in a single generation without spilling a drop of blood.  But who wants it?

A truck returns to base.  The lone soldier says that Rudy is returning on foot, but Rudy is actually underneath and slips off on another direction.  He kills one soldier and frees Miller.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Sarah and Paul meet with Mark

Sarah and Paul meet with Mark.  Paul calls the man, who he knows isn’t being completely upfront with him.  Paul lies and says that Rudy’s patrol is still out in the desert.  No problem.  They’ll be waiting.  Paul then tells Mark to return to his quarters.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul and Miller fight

So Paul and Sarah make their way through the base, but run into Miller.  A fight breaks out and Paul is able to snap Miller’s neck, but not before Miller manages to stab Paul a few times in his stomach with Paul’s own knife.

The two keep on moving until they reach a shaft.  Sarah crawls in, but Paul does not.  Instead, he tells her that the tunnel comes out in a garage.  Take a jeep and go northwest.  Before leaving, Paul tells Sarah that it was never Beth that he loved.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Dr. Coady shoots Paul

A bit later, Coady and Rudy find a bleeding, dying Paul, who wants the women cured.  Coady is insulted and shoots Paul for suggesting that she turn her back on science that rewrite the nature of humankind.  However, Paul has a consolation prize in the form of a grenade that he drops.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Helena finds Sarah

As Sarah continues her escape, the environment around her shakes due to the explosion.  Though she’s slowed down, she’ll get some help in the form of Helena.  That was a tad convenient.

Well, we got quite a lot in this episode and spent time with pretty much most of our main players.  Credit where it’s due, I never thought that this episode felt overstuffed in an attempt to devote time to all of the clones and their companions.  The portions with Alison were brief, but mostly felt like set-up for confrontations and scenarios that will come in later episodes, while the bulk of the conflict went to Sarah and Paul or Cosima’s situation.

Plus, we got a sort-of revelation regarding the transmitted disease.  Given how Gracie showed signs of it only some time after she and Mark consummated, it could only have been sexually transmitted unless the Castor clones can just infect you through breathing or sheer will alone.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Dr. Coady talks about the benefits of the weaponized disease

But the plot involving the Castor clones only thickens, as Dr. Coady is just one pawn in a much larger puzzle.  Why does someone else need this disease weaponized?  And what are the odds that it can do everything that Coady predicts it can do?  There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding this mystery, but I wonder how much evidence and research is left, given Paul’s finishing move.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Paul leaves Sarah

Let’s go right to Paul, then.  The deeper the man got, the more dangerous it was for him.  Until the very end, he still remained loyal to Sarah, despite his tactics.  And I like how his true desire was to find cures for the Castor clones, but people higher than him had other ideas.  I wouldn’t say it’s as big of a redemption as some have made it out to be because he was still involved in Helena being brought to Castor in the first place, but at least he did sacrifice himself to hopefully destroy Coady’s work and give Sarah time to escape.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Felix wants to know where Sarah is

Sticking with explosive scenes, Felix raging out at Rachel was, to me, a bit unnerving since Rachel isn’t in any position to defend herself at all.  However, this rage came off as more of Felix’s growing desperation for any information on Sarah.  She’s worlds away, has no way of being in touch, and Felix is powerless to do anything to help.  It shows his devotion, but also his willingness to get his hands dirty by toying with Rachel.  Yet, Rachel potentially knowing the code may be a way to bring her back in the game, despite her current state.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Delphine drinks while watching Shay and Cosima

It really is convenient for Delphine to return just after we’re introduced to Cosima’s potential new love interest.  I do hope that there’s a good reason behind her spying on Cosima and Shay, because I don’t really have any interest in a short-sighted jealousy storyline.  Delphine is very calm and collected that she seems like the type to be above jealousy, especially since she’s the one who broke off the relationship.  Who knows?  Maybe there’s a reason for her spying.  If it’s jealousy, though, I don’t find it compelling.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Alison and Donnie make it rain some more

Alison and Donnie got to have some more fun with their separate storyline.  The two making it rain was over the top, but it didn’t seem too out of character for an already odd couple, wall-twerking aside, though that did give Maslany a chance to be versatile.  Donnie suggested in an earlier episode that Alison could go back to working at Bubbles, and it looks like we’re getting some payoff to that, even if it just a front.

Helena only shows up in two scenes, one to rid herself of the scorpion and another when she appears to Sarah.  Given how she ended the previous episode, I would like to have seen her do some more grappling with her decision to leave Sarah behind.  As is, it only seems like the two are reunited for the sake of having them together again.  Because of the big choice she made, I just don’t think she’s had a lot of time since then to think about it.

Certain Agony of the Battlefield- Beth in Sarah's vision

Sarah’s dreams seem to be a side-effect of the pathogen, which I don’t fully understand, but at least she got to have another moment with Beth, who helped with a pep talk on asking the right questions when Sarah seemed to have given up.  She still has tons of questions, but now she has the quest of finding out who originally created the disease and why someone wants to weaponize it.  Plus, she won’t be alone.

“Certain Agony of the Battlefield” was a pretty good send-off for Paul as he made one last ditch effort to derail Dr. Coady’s work.  The revelation that Rachel may know the code is sure to bring her back into the main picture as the other clones continue to try and make sense of what the hell is happening.  Should be fun.

A Look at The Walking Dead #141: “Opportunity”

The Walking Dead #141- Cover

Okay, so Negan’s supposed freedom at the end of the previous issue was an effective cliffhanger.  Now, with issue #141: “Opportunity,” we get to see just what he did.  Or rather, what he could have done.

One of the main themes I picked up on this issue was the message of choice: they aren’t easy to make, as many of us know.  And even then, it’s sometimes hard to gauge whether we made a good or bad choice until long after we’ve made it.  The Walking Dead is very big on morality and the consequences that come with killing both the living and dead, but, as this issue showed, the series also deals with the consequences of not killing because, as Rick believes, there is a better way.

The Walking Dead #141- Rick talks with Dwight

But before jumping into the confrontation, we get to catch up with Dwight and what he’s been up to with The Saviors.  First off, despite the obvious friction between The Saviors and everyone else, Dwight has a level of respect for Rick, as he refers to him as Mister Grimes instead of just Rick.  However, we see that Dwight doesn’t believe he’s cut out for the leadership role.  It’s interesting since Dwight was the one who wanted The Saviors to follow him after Negan’s fall, but now that he’s had a chance to lead, he’s having a change of heart.

It’s understandable.  I’m sure that many of us would like to be leaders, but we don’t fully understand the amount of work, responsibility, and tough decisions that come with the duty.  This is what has made Rick so qualified to lead because he can make those tough decisions.  But Dwight is at the point where he even wants Rick to pick the new leader.  Rick, of course, won’t do that and I can’t blame him.  Dwight had to know what he was getting into when he took over Negan’s role.  Maybe it was a spur of the moment decision, but being a leader isn’t easy.

I actually would like to have seen more of The Saviors’ community after the time-skip.  We don’t know much about them compared to the folks at either the Hilltop or the Alexandria Safe Zone, so it would have been a good opportunity not just for character development, but maybe also see what led Dwight to his decision.  Hopefully we get to see the election, or at least the results.

The Walking Dead #141- Rosita announces that she and Eugene are having a baby

We also briefly get some advancement with Eugene and Rosita’s subplot with Rosita announcing to everyone that she’s pregnant.  It’s not much, and we learn that something is still nagging at Eugene, but it’s something.

The Walking Dead #141- Rick discovers that Negan's cell is open

Now onto the confrontation itself.  Let’s be frank: Negan is still one foul-mouthed motherfucker, but damn it if I don’t get attached to every line of dialogue that he’s given and it makes me wonder how the show will handle him.  But anyway, despite being imprisoned, Negan still wields a great amount of power not because of what he did in the past, but what he can do, but doesn’t.  He’s more willing to bide his time compared to The Governor and isn’t above trying to bring others down to his level.

The Walking Dead #141- Negan tries to get Rick to trust him

I really enjoyed the confrontation between Rick and Negan.  The two are so different, yet Negan believes that Rick can be as murderous and bloodthirsty as he is.  As we see here, though, both have occasions where they won’t act on violent decisions.  This, I think, makes Negan’s freedom even more terrifying because there’s so much that he could have done but, against every natural instinct, he chose not to.

It’s a good way to get inside Rick’s head and Kirkman’s move here goes against our expectations because we’d expect Negan to seek some sort of revenge against the people that imprisoned him.  And yet Negan did nothing, all in the name of gaining Rick’s trust.  It’s insane for Negan to think that just because he behaved himself when he could have gone on a rampage that Rick would suddenly trust him.  The fact that Negan chose to do nothing and gave out a laundry list of what he could have done, to me, shows that he may be biding his time.  Olivia’s mistake gave him an opening, but he decided to wait.  For now.

The Walking Dead #141- Negan taunts Rick

And it is a bit funny that Negan is genuinely upset when Rick doesn’t agree to trust him at all.  Rick has every reason to still hold Negan there for as long as possible.  Yet Negan is able to get under Rick’s skin by implying that Rick only kept him alive because of some sense of self-righteousness.  Is Rick really deluding himself into thinking that there is a better way or could he be as mad as Negan or The Governor?  Negan taunts Rick as the savior who can fix everything and spared the life of a man who has caused him so much harm.  As much as Rick might want to kill Negan, once he does, he’d go against his principles and contradict the society he’s trying to help rebuild.

The Walking Dead #141- Rick talks with Andrea about Negan

Sure, this may just be an excuse for Rick to avoid being a murderer and just getting an execution out of the way, and Andrea knows this, but Rick is looking at the bigger picture.  He told Maggie that he doesn’t like being worshipped as a hero with a reputation, but the fact is that people do look up to him as a leader.  It wasn’t his decision to make, but he’s in this role because he’s proven he has what it takes to be a competent leader: he won’t just do what’s expected of him, but go beyond that.  He wants to show that a society that abides by a moral code can work.

Even though walkers may not be as big a threat as they were before, people still have the potential to be violent and just kill without reason or when it’s convenient.  Rick won’t allow himself to be that kind of man because without any type of order, society will collapse.

The Walking Dead #141- Maggie wants Gregory's body cut down

And I’ll be damned if Robert Kirkman didn’t give us one hell of a transition to The Hilltop.  We knew this was coming, but I personally didn’t think it would be so sudden.  If there was ever anything that highlighted the leadership differences between Rick and Maggie, here it is.  Maggie is that leader willing to execute someone she sees as a threat.  The circumstances are a bit different: Gregory not only tried to turn the Hilltop population against her, he tried to poison her and almost succeeded.

The Walking Dead #141- Gregory's hanging

It’s such a massive tone shift from Rick’s optimism to Gregory’s dying face and bulging eyes, made all the more creepy thanks to Stefano Gaudiano and Charlie Adlard’s art.  We don’t get to see what led up to this and whether anyone in the area objected- notice some folks aren’t even looking at Gregory’s lifeless body- but I think this works as a positive because it makes the reveal of Gregory’s hanging much more sudden.  This is sure to cause a shakeup throughout all communities once or if word spreads.  This, coupled with Carl still traveling with The Whisperers, will bring Rick all sorts of headaches.

And with the arc ending soon, I’m going to enjoy this.

A Look at Veep- Season 4, Episode 6: “Storms and Pancakes”

What happens you get a running mate who may be more likable than you?  Then, you get Hugh Laurie.  Let’s jump into “Storms and Pancakes.”

Storms and Pancakes- Selina and Tom greet voters in Pennsylvania

The episode begins with the Meyer campaign making its way through Pennsylvania.  The mood is festive and full of energy as Tom and Selina greet voters, though the people are more in love with Tom than anyone else.  The press is falling for him as well: the New York Times did a great profile piece on James and there are positive headlines like “Best POTUS We Never Had.”  You probably don’t want Selina to see that one.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina tells Gary that she and Tom almost fucked

On the campaign bus, Selina tells an oblivious Gary that there’s obvious sexual tension between her and Tom, just going by the way he crosses his legs.  You see, the thing is, about 12 years ago, Selina and Tom almost fucked.

The campaign receives a call from Bill and Ben, who let them know that there’s a hurricane braced to take North Carolina from behind.  You can’t get that kind of line anywhere else, I’m sure.  Selina and company plan to keep up to date on it, but in the meantime, Selina tells Mike that she wants more op-ed pieces and headlines about how her choosing Tom was an act of real vision and leadership.  It’s fine that people like Tom, but Selina wants credit- never mind that it was Amy’s suggestion, but whatever.

Storms and Pancakes- Ben tries to talk with Sue

Back in Washington, Ben is bored.  He tries to make small talk with Sue, who prefers the quiet, so their small talk goes nowhere fast.  Get used to this.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah, Richard, and Doyle watch Tom James

Though Teddy is gone, Jonah still has to deal with ridicule from other staffers.  He and Richard enter Doyle’s office with notes from a tariff meeting, but Doyle is watching coverage of Tom James at a rally.  Though Doyle isn’t a fan of James, Richard suggests that the outgoing Vice President write a memoir about his interesting life.  He was vice president, the campaign polled other candidates, and he was fucked in his slack old ass.  It’s a start, at the very least.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina talks to the press about Tom

We then cut back to the campaign at a Bike for Health Rally in Maine.  Tom’s a bit rusty with his biking.  He did the Tour of Italy in 2008, but his mountain times were apparently embarrassing.  I doubt anyone will judge him for that.  As he and Selina prepare for their ride, Selina takes an answer from a journalist about whether Tom James is a star.  He isn’t- he’s a super star and Selina made a good pick.

Storms and Pancakes- Mike receives another hate text from Amy

Not all is well with the campaign on the road, though.  Amy is still pissed at Mike since he sent out a press release saying she resigned because she’s unstable.  I mean, Amy is unstable, but it’s best not to put that out there.  Kent doesn’t get vendettas since they’re so time-consuming.  I can’t agree more.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan introduces Amy to Sidney Purcell

So what’s Amy up to now?  She’s at PKM Offices with Dan, but is still upset about the falling out.  Hell, the campaign is going to a pancake breakfast- something she suggested, but got shot down.  Dan tells her to clamp down on the complaints and then introduces her to Sidney Purcell, who has a GMJ client he needs tied up.  Some West Wing access would help.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina asks Tom about that one night

Selina talks with Tom about their shared moment from long ago after the Sharpley debate when they shared a cab, but Tom has no idea about this scandalous adventure.  In fact, he’s more focused on the green shoes that Selina wore.

When Selina informs Gary about Tom’s cluelessness on that night, she rejects Gary’s offer to talk to Tom himself.  She needs him to stop doing things for her, which is a reminder for the pancake breakfast tomorrow: she’s going commando, as in she wants no prompting.  I don’t recall that being what going commando means, but fine.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan throws a party for himself

Dan throws a welcome back celebratory party for himself because he’s just that vain.  Amy, though, is still bitching and keeps on doing so when the two enter a parking garage.  Dan reminds Amy that she loves D.C. and just needs a way to release it.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy's scream attracts police officers

She does so by screaming at the top of her lungs.  This, by itself, isn’t the best idea, but it’s made much worse when two officers exit a nearby police cruiser.  Initially, they think Dan is the problem, but Amy assures them that she’s fine.  Dan suggests that Amy find a different way to unwind.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah joins other women who Teddy has touched

Later, Jonah and Richard meet with a group of women at Senator Wilkie’s office.  Senator Wilkie, though, is not present.  So what are these women doing here?  They’re all victims of Teddy Sykes’ inappropriate touching and are filing a class action suit.  Oh, and they’d like Jonah to testify.  Jonah is apparently the only male that Teddy touched so far.  There are several jokes in here somewhere.

Storms and Pancakes- Preparing for the pancake breakfast

On the campaign trail, Kent goes over the setup for the pancake breakfast.  However, after enough work, Selina needs to take a break from the preparation.  She might vomit on…Mike.  What made her single out Mike specifically, I don’t know.

Storms and Pancakes- Greeting people at the Pancake Brunch

We then cut to the Pancake Brunch at the Connecticut Country Club.  Selina and Tom greet various attendees, including Congressman Edgar Housman, played by Chris Kies, who has never met Selina before.  Again, Tom has that persona touch that Selina lacks, but at least she’s trying.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy tries and fails to relax at a spa

So Amy goes to a spa and tires that whole relaxation thing, but this is Amy, so she can’t help but check her phone and glance at Politico.  After relaxing for about seven minutes, Amy has had enough and leaves.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy wins a client

Back at PKM, Amy, through means I can’t really understand, manages to land business with a client, Paul, played by Brad Morris.  In fact, Amy has somehow done so well that Sidney decides to give her some of Dan’s biggest clients.  Oh, and she also gets his parking space and desk.  Ha!

Selina still isn’t winning the crowd like Tom is, but some good news heads her way when Ben lets her know that the storm is near.  This is a potential tragedy that could be great for her.  It’s also great for Ben, because when it’s just him and Sue, he feels like it’s just him.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom suggests heading to North Carolina now instead of later

On Air Force One, the plan is to wait in D.C. for the storm to pass, and then head to North Carolina.  Tom suggests going there now before the storm hits.  As soon as the hurricane passes, Selina will be there for the citizens in their hour of need.  That’s a Tom James of an idea!  That’s also how you master a disaster.  Despite Gary’s warning about wind, Selina decides to have the plane turn around and head for North Carolina.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina speaks with North Carolina Governor Cecile, played by Carolyn Mignini

The campaign has a conference call with North Carolina Governor Cecile, played by Carolyn Mignini.  A state of emergency in her state would shut down travel and cost millions.  Upon recognizing Tom James, however, Governor Cecile softens.  Selina tries to talk with the team without Cecile hearing or reading their lips, so they all turn their chairs around.  How very Seinfeld.

Tom thinks it would be unfair on Senator O’Brien and his running mate if there were a travel lockdown because they would be stranded in Florida. They would not be able to visit the disaster site like Selina’s team campaign.  Just throwing that into the barbecue sauce.  Selina decides to ground flights.  Tom sweetens the deal with a light dusting of federal funds.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina learns that the hurricane went south and is headed for North Carolina

In North Carolina, though, there’s no hurricane.  There’s no wind, no rain, no sign of any real storm at all.  Turns out that the storm moved south and is headed to Florida, meaning O’Brien and Montez will get the storm photos and headlines.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah meets with Louise Benjamin from Cabinet Affairs

Jonah meets with Louise Benjamin from Cabinet Affairs, as she’s collecting agency responses.

The episode comes to a close with the Meyer campaign surveying the minimal damage of an egg plant.  And I do mean minimal damage.

“Storms and Pancakes” is a transition episode.  The Meyer campaign is still moving right along, but now the mood has changed for the better since Tom James’ arrival.  This is both a good and bad thing.  Again, a running mate can make the presidential candidate look better in areas where they’re weak.  We don’t know yet what areas in policy Tom may outclass Selina, but we do know from this episode that he’s a more relatable kind of guy.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom and Selina serve pancakes

Without doing any sort of scientific research and just going off the flurry of political ads that we get in the States, politicians really want voters to like them.  Whether it’s holding town halls, kissing babies, volunteering at shelters, and tons of shaking hands, our politicians want to come off as relatable.  If they try too hard, we’ll know it’s not genuine and that they’re just doing it for the votes.  This is what Selina’s doing.  Not to say that Selina isn’t a relatable person, but within the context of this episode, she’s pushing for good press.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom serves pancakes

Tom, however, doesn’t need to do that.  Part of it has to do with the charm of Hugh Laurie’s performance, but Tom James just comes off as a nice guy.  He’s personable with people and never comes off like he’s trying to force an association.  Sure, it helps that he already has a lot of established connections with people, but he never acts like he knows someone that he clearly doesn’t, as Selina does.  Some would call this sort of kindness annoying, but I think it helps set James apart from the rest of the campaign team.

Storms and Pancakes- Selina wants credit for picking Tom

Remember that on “Convention,” Ben said that everyone likes Tom, and that’s very clear here from how he’s able to click with people.  There’s nothing fake about him right now- he just appears to be a nice guy.  This is the kind of person that Selina needs and he’s not trying to one-up her.  The press just happens to like him more, but Selina wants credit and does not want to be taken out of the spotlight.

Storms and Pancakes- Tom charms the voters

For example, before the campaign leaves Pennsylvania, Tom charms the crowd with some funny one-liners.  Not to be outdone, Selina steps off the campaign bus with a funny remark of her own…not because she has to, but because she might not want Tom to have the last word and the crowd to have a lasting impression of him instead of her.

We don’t know yet whether he’s feigning ignorance about this night he shared with Selina or just doesn’t know, but he seems to have his mind on other things.  Tom is a bit quirky to me, but in a good way.  I love his random fun facts that he shares and how he’s able to sweet talk the Governor of North Carolina while Selina is trying hard to negotiate.  He’s fun, but good at what he does, which I can’t say for most of Selina’s team.  With the exception of Sue, Bill, and maybe Ben and Kent, the people who work for Selina are walking punch lines.  Tom is a change of pace.

Aside from Tom interacting with various characters, this episode was a lot of fun.  It was nice seeing the team back on the campaign trail after spending so much time with legislative business.  Even then, they’re still the same people, and I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea that Selina and her team would take advantage of a national disaster for the sake of good press and photos.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility for real life politicians and I certainly wouldn’t put it past Selina to exploit this, but then we get the reveal that she missed the storm.

Storms and Pancakes- Kent goes over the pancake breakfast setup

And sticking with the campaign crew for a second, Kent appears to be doing a good job as campaign manager.  Since he’s not one to hold grudges or have vendettas, he may be better equipped for this position than either Dan or Amy.  Granted, we haven’t seen Kent do much and even Amy seemed better than Dan during her first few days, but Kent seems more competent at his job.

Storms and Pancakes- Amy screams

Amy and Dan, though, are working together again, but Amy just cannot get the White House off of her mind.  It shows how connected she was to that job, but also how hard wired she is to work in general, as she can’t bring herself to relax for even a moment without glancing at her phone.  Chlumsky is still great at letting Amy’s inner rage fly and I loved that scream in the parking garage.

Storms and Pancakes- Dan celebrates himself

Yet Dan is back in competition with her and she’s somehow managed to one-up him in no time at all.  I don’t get how she did that when they both presumably have the same contacts and access to the White House, but Amy looks to be ahead of Dan for now.  This just makes me wonder why Dan would go through the trouble of helping Amy get a job in the first place when there’s the possibility of her surpassing him, which she’s now done.  These two could work well together if they put their differences aside and acted like good people, but this being Veep, that’s probably not going to happen.

Storms and Pancakes- Jonah realizes that all the other women look like him

Jonah is the only man whose been inappropriately touched by Teddy and all of the other victims are not only female, but they all look like him.  The jokes literally write themselves and Richard is just so straight laced and open about everything that he helps to balance out the more hard-wired Jonah.  And I loved Richard’s line about how “a number of tall women were molested and Mr. Ryan was one of them.”  Good writing and a great delivery by Sam Richardson.

Storms and Pancakes- Sue hides from Ben

And Ben trying to have a conversation with Sue of all people was as funny as it was awkward.  If the office was completely empty, I’m certain that Ben would lose his mind while Sue would just go on with business as usual.  Though I honestly don’t know what she does all day.

“Storms and Pancakes” was another great installment of Veep.  Each storyline was executed effectively and had great humor throughout.  Amy is back on her feet, sort of, Jonah now realizes his potential future as a middle aged woman, and Tom James is taking off with the voters.  Onward to next week.