Archive for the ‘episode recaps’ Category

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

With only a handful of episodes left to go this season, “The Vampire Diaries” has a lot of answers to dole out and a lot of mythology to get through. In this week’s episode, simply titled “Klaus” — what else needs to be said, really? — the show managed to do a big info dump in highly entertaining and enlightening fashion. As usual, the surprises were aplenty, and I didn’t see them coming. The biggest ones came from Elijah’s (Daniel Gillies) twisty backstory of Klaus (Joseph Morgan). After pulling out the dagger, Elena (Nina Dobrev) gave Elijah her word that she’d tell him everything. He returned the favor, spilling the following reveals:

1. Elijah and Klaus are brothers. This is one that as soon as he said it, I kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner. “The Vampire Diaries” is very much about history repeating itself. At the center are two brothers who’ve twice been in love with the same girl. Of course Elijah and Klaus would be brothers also involved with the same girl, the very one who looks like the present-day version. But while Elijah seems like the Stefan (Paul Wesley) in this triangle, Klaus does not seem to care for Katherine (Dobrev) the way Damon (Ian Somerhalder) does for Elena.

2. The Sun and the Moon Curse is fake. The thing they’ve been fighting nearly all season? Not real, psych! Bold move, show. Klaus drew up the Aztec scrolls himself because nothing gets supernatural species looking for a doppelganger and a moonstone quicker than some ancient mumbo jumbo. Just as Elijah reveals this, Stefan calls Elena about Jenna (Sara Canning). She runs off to find her, but all I’m thinking is, “Screw Jenna! What do you mean it’s not real?! And why does he still want the doppelganger and the moonstone?”

3. Klaus is half vampire/half werewolf! Elijah told Elena that he and Klaus are the oldest vampires on earth and all other vampires come from them. How this is possible with human parents, Elijah dismisses as a long story. Then Elijah dropped the bombshell that Klaus is from a different bloodline, a blood of werewolves! Their mother had an affair. So that makes Klaus what exactly? A “deadly hybrid,” Elijah tells her. So deadly that the witches sought to restore balance to nature by making his werewolf side dormant, which is the real curse. And he wants to lift the curse because…

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

Photo Credit: Carin Baer / Fox

Despite the title of this week’s “How I Met Your Mother” – “Hopeless” – it seems things are not hopeless for Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), who has a real epiphany about his life. Barney decides to bust Jerry (John Lithgow) out of the suburbs and take him on a wild night out on the town. For the purposes of the evening, he’s constructed new, cooler identities for his friends. Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) now have an open marriage while Marshall is a womanizing playwright. Robin (Cobie Smulders) is a professional Scotch taster who’s dating Ted (Josh Radnor). “Oh man! Why?!” Robin whines. She, like viewers, must be getting tired of the show pulling out the Ted/Robin card every year just to mess with us. Barney explains that he can’t have any single female friends because then his dad will be like, “Why don’t you marry Robin? You guys were cut together. Deep down you know you were never happier than when you were with her.” Robin looks a little surprised, but the scene quickly moves on. Still, this little moment seems very loaded with possibility. Is that Barney’s subconscious speaking about his true feelings for Robin, the things he can’t even admit to himself? Is it foreshadowing that Robin and Barney are the ones getting married in the premiere wedding?

After a lengthy argument about where to go, filled with club names like Was, Lame, Open that really reminded me of the episode “Okay Awesome,” everyone ends up at Hopeless. Barney exclaims that he wants to hang out with Crazy Jerry, who told him to “never stop partying” when he was 6, not lame suburban Jerry. So Jerry downs a few shots and lets loose, but being a bit older, he does so in an incredibly embarrassing way that includes wearing his tie around his head and calling the club a disco. “This is awesome!” says Barney. “I finally know what it’s like to be embarrassed by my dad.” The two take the party to the streets, where Jerry rips a parking meter out of the ground, gets into an argument, and throws up on a police car. As Jerry and Barney sit on the curb in handcuffs, Jerry reveals that he’s not really drunk. It was all a sleight-of-hand aided by the fact that “a magician’s best friend is a drunk audience.” Jerry thought if he could show Barney what it’s like when you try to make the party go on forever, he’d realize he can’t do this forever.

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

Photo Credit: Annette Brown / The CW

“I think I convinced myself he’s not real, but he is.” That’s how Elena (Nina Dobrev) described Klaus (currently a very clearly gleeful Matt Davis) on the latest episode of “The Vampire Diaries.” And boy, did the threat of Klaus become real in “The Last Dance” as Klaus took over Alaric’s body and began to terrorize Elena, her friends and even her enemies. Klaus did a number on Katherine (Dobrev), who practically jumped out of her skin when he got close. It was a startling sight to see Katherine so unnerved. Remember at the beginning of the season when everyone thought Katherine was their biggest problem? How far we’ve come… Katherine had good reason to be scared. Klaus is a pretty sadistic bastard, who compelled her to stab herself over and over. He also compelled her to get the 411 on Elena and Alaric’s background, including his currently M.I.A girlfriend Jenna (Sara Canning). I was disappointed we didn’t get a Klaus-as-Alaric (Klausric?) and Jenna confrontation. But I was even more disappointed that Jenna seems to have disappeared from the show. Just when she finally learned something true and had story potential, she went away to stew at the library. This is the time when Jenna should start to dig and demand, not disappear.

Klaus used his new human disguise to infiltrate Elena’s circle, even stepping in to teach Alaric’s history class. In Alaric’s body, Klaus doesn’t need permission to enter Elena’s new home, the Salvatore mansion. Pretty ingenious, and clearly he had designs on Alaric’s body for a reason. He strolls right in and powwows with the group about how to kill Klaus. Bonnie (Katerina Graham) basically says, “Bring it!” She’s powerful enough to take him. Klaus’ human body is not as powerful, but his minion helpfully suggests a protection spell and a game of chicken. He just has to keep provoking Bonnie until she over-exerts herself and dies. Witch problem solved.

At the 60s dance, Klaus continues his taunting spree before compelling some students to attack Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) while he goes after Bonnie and Elena.

“You’re not on my hit list tonight,” he says to Elena before looking at Bonnie. “But you are.”

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

As “How I Met Your Mother” nears the end of its season — there are just four episodes left!— the issues that have been lying dormant in Ted (Josh Radnor) and Zoey’s (Jennifer Morrison) relationship are starting to surface. Since becoming friends and then something more, the two have been getting along pretty well even though they were on opposite sides at the beginning of the season. Although future Ted confirmed their inevitable breakup, things had been going pretty smoothly for the couple. But executive producer Craig Thomas teased to me that their issues regarding the Arcadian would complicate their relationship. It was nice to finally see that brought up onscreen with this week’s episode.

But the Arcadian is not the only thing Ted and Zoey argue about. Lily (Alyson Hannigan) brings up their constant screaming matches, which Ted calls “growing matches.” They dispute everything: Sex moves, who should hang up first, even “Tommy Boy.” Not everybody can be “one hermaphroditic blob” like Lily and Marshall (Jason Segel). Lily’s response: “Marshall and I have been together for 15 years, and the only debate we’ve had about ‘Tommy Boy’ is whether it’s awesome or super awesome. That’s love, bitch.”

When Marshall finally quits his job and takes a nonpaid position saving the environment, Lily is completely supportive. Ted thinks her giant anime eyes give away the truth: She’s not OK with Marshall’s choice. Lily counters that his feminine mouth gives away his true feelings. It’s saying, “Zoey, why can’t I be on top just this once?” Lily mimics in a little-girl voice, which actually kind of sounds like an anime character. But they’re still friends, so she admits that even though Ted and Zoey’s relationship is different, that doesn’t mean it’s not right.

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