Oh, “How I Met Your Mother,” you tease. Although the outcome of the Lily-and-Marshall (Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel) story line was pretty obvious and I felt confident that Ted (Josh Radnor) would not get back together with Zoey (Jennifer Morrison), the show really did keep me guessing about Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). The two of them spent most of the episode trying to stop Ted’s and Zoey’s reconciliation, but their journey also led them to reexamine their own relationship. On the cab ride to Brooklyn, they mused over how horrible a couple Ted and Zoey were. “Almost as bad as us,” Barney said. “We were a mess,” Robin replied. She could see why Ted might want to go back to Zoey. “No matter how bad things go”  — a loaded pause — “Ted really did love Zoey there for a minute there, didn’t he?” Ted was clearly a substitute for Barney and Zoey was Robin, but it was still really wonderful to see such a vulnerable moment from Robin. Barney smiled before replying, “Yeah, he did. And she loved him too, didn’t she?” You bet she did.

That might have been one of my favorite Barney-and-Robin scenes. It was a nice acknowledgment of their relationship -– almost a validation -– and featured unusually soft and emotional interplay for the pair. It’s not often we get to see them discussing their feelings so openly (even if they didn’t use their own names) and simply. Remember how complicated it was when they dated? This was simple and lovely. I wish we’d seen more of this and less of the “mess.”

Alas, the foreshadowing didn’t bode well for Robin and Barney, whose new motto is, “New is always better.” When they finally tackled Ted to the ground, Robin tried to persuade him not to go into the coffee shop to meet Zoey. “The future is scary, but you can’t run back to the past because it’s familiar,” she said, but she was looking at Barney, who added, “It’s a mistake.” No, sometimes, it really isn’t, you guys! Get it together, please! But then Barney ran into Nora, who is also part of his past. So does that mean old is better? Or are they doomed if they get back together?

Read the rest of my recap at the L.A. Times Show Tracker blog.

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Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney / The CW

After last week’s “The Vampire Diaries,” which very much felt like a season ender, I thought this week’s episode might feel more like a coda. In some ways it did. Like Rose’s death in “The Descent,” the consequences of Damon’s (Ian Somerhalder) werewolf bite played out in drawn-out, cerebral fashion. It was more about emotion than action. Also contributing to the coda feeling: The absence of Matt (Zach Roerig) and Tyler (Michael Trevino, which was disappointing after last week’s events. Both have real stakes in the mythology now and in their relationships with Caroline (Candice Accola). Not to mention, Matt was very involved in the Sheriff’s scheme at one point. (What was she planning? Just to kill them all off? We never really got answers.)

But “As I Lay Dying” still packed plenty of surprises and a shocking twist of an ending, planting the seeds for a very interesting season 3. Let’s take a look at some of the storylines that set up big things for next year:

Stefan goes dark side. In order to save his brother, Stefan (Paul Wesley) went to Klaus (Joseph Morgan) for a cure. Because life’s just cruel, the cure is Klaus’ blood. But Klaus wasn’t willing to give it up for free. He wanted something in return – Stefan, but not the useless version of himself he currently is. Klaus remembers when Stefan was “a true Ripper,” who massacred an entire village during one of his off-the-wagon periods. That’s the Stefan he wants to leave Mystic Falls by his side. If he drinks blood, Klaus will give him his own. Stefan did it and even drank from a scared girl to get his brother the cure. Although Stefan and Damon sometimes mirror Elijah (Daniel Gillies) and Klaus – both Stefan and Elijah are cleaning up their brothers’ messes in this episode – there is a deep love between Stefan and Damon. “He just sacrificed everything to save his brother, including you,” Katherine (Nina Dobrev) tells Elena (Dobrev). That says a lot about the depth of Stefan and Damon’s bond. Klaus, however, tells Elijah he’ll take him to their family’s bodies and then stakes him. Not cool. Elijah better come out of that coffin next season!

Read the rest of my recap at the L.A. Times Show Tracker blog.

Photo Credit: Ron P. Jaffe / Fox

“We’re done here.” I think the word that was missing there as Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) and Ted (Josh Radnor) broke up on this week’s “How I Met Your Mother” was, “finally!” Like Robin (Cobie Smulders), we knew the relationship was doomed, but getting there has been a long, often frustrating journey. Zoey and Ted’s differences shadowed them like a black cloud to the point where you could see very few rays of hope. At this point, I can’t even remember what, besides a love of architecture and the Arcadian — which they can’t even agree on — they have in common. Is Zoey even a “Star Wars” fan? I’m pretty sure that’s a prerequisite for Ted’s future wife.

Ted didn’t share any of my qualms about the possible would-be Mrs. Mosby. When Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) accused him of switching sides for a girl and her “magic lady bits,” Ted only argued with him a little before admitting that he was doing it for the girl he’s in love with. “There’s a very good chance Zoey might be the mother of my children,” he said. Negative, Ted, but he didn’t know any better. Ted started to show concern for Barney when he found out Arthur would fire him and Barney if he stood up for the Arcadian. Working at GNB, doing stuff — “What does Barney do at GNB?” Lily (Alyson Hannigan) asked — is Barney’s dream job, so Ted paused. I had to wonder if this was all really worth ruining his friendship with Barney. Yes, he’s in love with Zoey, but she’s come between him and his first loves, his friends, in a pretty big away. Is losing them worth keeping her?

Read the rest of my recap at the L.A. Times Show Tracker blog.

Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney / The CW

“The Vampire Diaries” is not kidding around. For most of this season, we’ve been hearing about a sacrifice and that Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elena (Nina Dobrev) would die. So what happened Thursday night? Klaus went through with the sacrifice and Elena died. So did a lot of other people. But unlike them, Elena came back because, well, there’s no show without her. With four deaths, if we’re not counting Elena, the curse broken and several juicy reveals, this was quite an action-packed episode, and it’s not even the finale. Obviously, next week will deal with Damon’s (Ian Somerhalder’s) werewolf bite, but the real action was Thursday night. I have a feeling next week’s episode will play like a coda. But before we start worrying about Damon’s life, let’s take some time to mourn those who died.

Jules (Michaela McManus) — I can’t say I’m going to miss her. Jules came off as a harsh character, who turned Tyler (Michael Trevino) against Caroline (Candice Accola), so that’s a big no-no. Still, she was forced into survival mode by her very nature and perhaps her instincts were well-intentioned. “I was just trying to help Tyler. I didn’t want him to be alone,” were her last words before Klaus killed her. I feel bad that she never found out the curse she wanted to break wouldn’t even help her.

Greta (Lisa Tucker) –- Greta, Greta, Greta. Who were you? Why were you so loyal to Klaus? Why did you not think to put a protection spell on yourself? Oh well, that made it easier for Damon to snap your neck when he and Bonnie flew in for the kill. In a way, the entire Martin family died without leaving much of a mark on the show or on me. They came, they were devious, they served some purpose, and then they died. But we never really got to know or care about them.

Read the rest of my recap at the L.A. Times Show Tracker blog.

Photo Credit: Eric McCandless / Fox

There’s a random B-plot from the first season of “How I Met Your Mother” that makes me laugh like no other: The half cockroach, half mouse creature known as the cockamouse. A while back, CBS tweeted that a beloved character from Season 1 was returning. I’m pretty sure they were referring to the cockamouse’s appearance in this week’s episode. It all started with Zoey (Jennifer Morrison) hiring Marshall (Jason Segel) to save the Arcadian, thereby turning Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Marshall against each other, which is a surefire way to make an already difficult character even harder to like. You don’t mess with the group dynamic, Zoey.

After being harassed by Barney, Marshall declared war and began to sabotage his hookups. One example: Marshall posed as a doctor and alerted Barney to the fact that his crabs have super herpes in front of a girl! You know things have gone from playful to serious, though, when Marshall and Barney get into a physical fight, getting the entire group banned from their beloved McLarens. Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) hatch a plan to ply them with specific types of alcohol to elicit certain reactions. Gin gets them fighting instead of giving each other the silent treatment. Whiskey makes the subtext into text. Marshall explains how his dad’s death has made him interested in preservation. Barney points out his abandonment issues, which Marshall isn’t helping by leaving him for Zoey’s side. Then come the daiquiris, which makes them in love with how pretty they are, followed by tequila shots at McLarens, which makes them…I’m not exactly sure what. How about drunk out of their minds? But they patch it up over beer. Lily’s celebratory champagne the night before was one drink too many. They blacked out and forgot about their reconciliation.

Read the rest of my recap at the L.A. Times Show Tracker blog.

Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney / The CW

During this week’s “The Vampire Diaries,” my main thought was, “Thank goodness for Elena.” It’s not very often that you get a heroine like Elena (Nina Dobrev) in the vampire genre. (“Buffy” is a very special exception since she also killed the creatures she sometimes loved.) From the beginning of the show, Elena has been more than the girl you want to be because she’s in the enviable position of being caught between so many good-looking guys. She commands respect. She fights back to the best of her abilities. She demands to be heard. She cares strongly for her girlfriends and doesn’t let herself be defined by boys. She makes up her own mind.

It’s because of those things that what Damon (Ian Somerhalder) did in “The Last Day” is truly horrible. Fearing that Elijah’s (Daniel Gillies) elixir would not work and that he’d lose Elena, he fed her his blood so she’d come back as a vampire. And he did it against her will. Rightfully, Elena was horrified and upset. He took away her ability to choose. Making things even more disturbing, the imagery of Damon forcing his blood down her throat was dangerously close to the idea of someone forcing themselves upon another person. It was a violation and a breach of one’s personal space and ability to feel safe and secure in their own skin. I’m sure the show will eventually find a way to overcome what Damon did, but right now, it’s looking pretty unforgivable.

To get her mind off things, Stefan (Paul Wesley) took Elena on a hike to the top of a mountain. Along the way, he laid out the good and the bad things about being a vampire. Good: You feel like you can do anything, you love more passionately. Bad: Blood, obviously, the bad emotions are amplified, forcing some vamps to turn them off so they don’t crumble. It was very matter-of-fact and honest. Stefan also admitted to Elena that he’s thought about her as a vampire and would love to spend forever with her, but could never ask something like that of her. It has to be her choice. Bless you, Stefan.

Read the rest of my recap at the L.A. Times Show Tracker blog.

Photo Credit: Bob Mahoney / The CW


Klaus (Joseph Morgan) is a name that we’ve heard a lot on this season of the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries.” He’s strong, powerful, bad, and when he finally made his entrance in last week’s episode, we learned he’s also more than just a vampire. But it was Daniel Gillies’ performance as Elijah that made the vampire-werewolf hybrid Klaus immortal. Executive producer Julie Plec was so won over by his work that they decided to make the Originals unkillable, something she’s talked about before with Show Tracker.

Once Gillies made his mark on the show, the brotherly connection between Elijah and Klaus was born. “Elijah was not a character we began the season knowing would be part of the story,” Plec said during a recent press event. “Once we knew Elijah was sticking around, that was the link we made.” (The Curse of the Sun and the Moon, meanwhile, was always intended to be a ruse.) As brothers, Elijah and Klaus provide a mirror to Damon (Ian Somerhalder) and Stefan’s (Paul Wesley) relationship and reinforce the theme of family throughout the show, but they’re not an exact reflection of the Salvatore brothers.

“In the beginning, both Joseph [Morgan] and I were trying to figure out which one we were,” Gillies said. “Am I more like Damon or am I [like Stefan]? We couldn’t figure out which one. Actually, we’re sort of a combination of both things.” Morgan echoed the statement, adding, “Both of our characters carry aspects of both of [them], for sure.” The complicated relationship between the two brothers will be further explored in the present day, where things are a little different. “In the 1400s, there’s a different hierarchy going on between us than when we meet again in modern day,” Morgan said. “There’ll be a very different dynamic between the two of us.”

Read the rest of my article at the L.A. Times Show Tracker blog.

There’s a lot more going on the CW’s Nikita than romance. Michael and Nikita may finally be together (check out Shane West’s thoughts on the Michael/Nikita hookup and what’s ahead for the couple here), but it’s the surprises and intrigue in the spy world that have made the show so much fun in the past few weeks. (Dear CW: Please renew this show. Thanks!) Below, Shane West previews what’s ahead for the characters as the show heads for a “pretty dynamic cliffhanger.”

Michael and Nikita: In this Thursday’s episode, Michael and Nikita will go to Pennsylvania for “a big mission where another Guardian is introduced,” but this one won’t be the stereotypical hunky guy. Working on opposite sides, but together, Michael has now found himself in the awkward position of being the mole after searching for the mole all season. But “let’s be honest,” said West during a roundtable interview. “We only have a few episodes left, and it’s not going to last long.” Is someone going to get suspicious? “Michael’s in trouble,” he finished with a smile.

One thing we won’t be seeing this season: Michael’s digs. “That kind of gives something away by me saying that,” he said. “Things change by the end of the year that I don’t know if we would have seen his stable home, which is kind of a bummer now for me because that would have been fun, just one scene.”

Alex: “We’re immediately going into the fact that Michael and Nikita are now a partnership, and it also has to include Alex,” said West. Michael has “always been very protective” of Alex because “he does see something in her that reminds him of Nikita and that passion and that fight and that will.” While Nikita is worried about Alex for her own reasons, Michael is “genuinely in the dark about all that and he just wants to make sure she’s OK,” he said. “I think it’s that thing that he’s always had for his recruits is that it’s up to him. If they fail, it’s his fault. If they succeed, it’s his fault. … He’s always going to care in a sense about Alex and what’s happening with her and what kind of agent she’s growing in to be.”

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Some shows like to drag out the will they or won’t they aspect of their main couple for years, teasing and torturing viewers. Shane West is familiar with that dynamic after three seasons on ABC’s Once and Again – Eli and Grace: Just step-siblings or something more? – and then five years on ER, where he flirted with fellow doctor/friend Neela (Parminder Nagra).

“They were more what I like to call, I guess, reality-based with relationships,” West said of the shows during a recent chat with the press. “It would takes years for something to happen or years for something to develop.” On ER, “it took me three years to have one kiss,” he added.

It didn’t take nearly as long on West’s current show, The CW’s Nikita, which recently threw out the book and threw its formerly at odds main characters together. The passionate get-together between Michael and Nikita (Maggie Q), which came only halfway through the show’s first season, took West by surprise. “Everything that I thought that would have been dragged on for four or five years because that’s what I’m used to” was suddenly happening, he explained.

“I’m glad that the characters are together because that’s what we always wanted,” he said. “But I was shocked that it happened so quickly. I think Maggie was too. … It’s just trying to get used to how different genres work.”

But just because Michael and Nikita are now an item – “They will absolutely be together,” he reiterated – doesn’t mean that things are going to be happily ever after for them.

“They are different people,” West said. “They come from similar backgrounds and troubled people are attracted to each other, but they do handle situations differently. So now it’s having those, some would say, dreaded relationship talks of, ‘How do we do this now?’”

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Supernatural goes to the wild, wild West tonight (The CW, 9 p.m.). In a lot of ways, this episode feels like it was a long in the making. Dean’s a pop culture junkie and a hunter, so it makes sense that he’d be into old Westerns. The West also plays a crucial role in the show’s mythology. That was when Samuel Colt created the infamous gun and the devil’s gate that featured heavily into the season 2 finale. And as showrunner Sera Gamble says in the preview below, making a western episode is no easy feat. It takes skill, money and trust to make such an episode. Now, after six years, it’s finally here, and there’s quite a few things to enjoy about it. Here are just my six favorite things about tonight’s episode, “Frontierland” (mild spoilers):

1. Dean’s reaction when a saloon girl tries to come on to him. Priceless.

2. Cas’ new angel lieutenant, Rachel. This is more a case of liking what a character brings to the table than liking the character. Rachel is harsh, abrasive and not so nice to our boys, but her presence sheds some much-needed light on Castiel and what’s going on upstairs. In their interactions together, we get to see a new side of Cas that has a bit more of an edge to it. It’s a new dimension that gives Misha Collins something interesting and different to play.

3. Sam’s thingamajig. Get your mind out of the gutter! It’s a very useful tool. (Your mind is still in the gutter, isn’t it?)

4. Bobby and Cas play time. Also not what it sounds like. It’s just great two see the two have some screentime together, working on their own.

5. Samuel Colt. He’s both exactly what you imagined and not what you imagined. Sam Hennings gives Colt a quality of jaded weariness mixed with wry amusement. He’s also a fan of the drink. In short, he fits in well, and it’s a shame that we can’t see more of him.

6. The pure look of glee on Jensen Ackles’ face. He clearly wasn’t lying when he said he’s been ready for this episode since he was six-years-old. There’s a sense of enthusiasm embedded throughout the whole episode, actually. From Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin’s script to Guy Bee’s direction to the actors’ performances, it’s clear that everyone was gung-ho about this episode and having fun with it.