Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Farewell to Enlisted, and My One Year Blog-A-Versary!

About a year ago today, I started this blog the way I have started lots of things in my life; with excitement, a little anxiety, and of course, the nagging thought: "Will anyone even care what I think?"

It's safe to say we've all driven down the road of negativity when starting something risky and creative. For me, that street was full of potholes such as: Who's actually going to read this? Will I quit before I really begin? Other people have been doing it better, for longer, so what's the point?

Well, friend, I'm here to tell you to turn that car around, and start driving in the other direction ASAP! Don't let the capital F Fear: "What will other people think?" stop you from doing something you love. If writing this blog for a year has taught me anything, it's the fact that you need no one's permission but your own to make your passion a reality.  Don't wait for someone to tell you it's OK to start. Just start, and when you reach that milestone, the one you never thought you would reach, celebrate how far you've come, and get pumped for how much further you get to go. Writing this blog for all of you has been challenging, freeing, and most of all, just so incredibly fun. So thank you, reader, for coming along on this journey with me. We've got a lot more TV to cover, so hang on tight - it's going to be an awesome year!

Now, I know I said I would be discussing Graceland in this post, but I'm going to have to hold off on that until the end of the season (it's been fantastic so far though - don't forget to tune in!). I changed up my plans because last week was the series finale of the critically adored, yet ridiculously under-watched Fox comedy, Enlisted, and I wanted to make sure the show got the send-off it rightfully deserved.

So, that finale….wow. It hit me in ways I never would have expected (yes, waterworks over here cried her eyes out, no surprises there), and moved me more than any sitcom in recent memory. But let's start from the beginning. When the show first premiered, I noted that the characters came to us almost fully formed, and the world of the show was a place I immediately wanted to spend more time in. This is incredibly rare for a brand new sitcom (think, Brooklyn Nine-Nine for another example of perfect world and character building right off the bat), but it also sets the bar very high for the series to come. Well Enlisted met and surpassed that bar over its short, 13-episode run by addressing PTSD, army life, women in the military, and complex family relationships in a realistic and subtle way. Also, uh, it was HILARIOUS! Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, and Parker Young nailed their respective roles as Pete, Derrick, and Randy; three brothers who react wildly differently to the army experience. With impeccable comic timing and a deep sense of who their characters were, these three impressed me every week and left me constantly wanting more. And as the rest of the Rear-D platoon became as developed as the Hill brothers, we got some of the funniest ensemble scenes on TV, and one-liners that had me spitting out my drink on a regular basis (Michelle Buteau, please find something else immediately, as Private Robinson will be greatly missed).

In the series finale, "Alive Day", Enlisted took on Pete's unspoken, but obvious, struggle with PTSD from his time in Afghanistan. Alive day represents Pete's close call with death during active combat, and his brothers' support along with continued therapy helps him to get through the anniversary of losing his fellow soldiers. But at the army ball, Pete breaks down after having seen a tribute from his brothers and sisters still overseas, and flees the rest of the ceremony in favor of some alone time at the beach. In the touching final scene, the squad finds Pete sitting on the sand, in a dark place after re-living one of the most traumatic moments of his life. I couldn't help but think of my Dad, my Uncles, and my Grandfathers, all veterans whose individual experiences in the military brought them different levels of loss and pain; different opportunities to either reach out to others or turn inward; different ways of viewing the world upon their return to civilian life.

After Pete expresses his guilt over being alive instead of his friends, the line that got me - I even teared up trying to explain it to my family over dinner the other night - was spoken by Sergeant Major Cody (played by the excellent Keith David): "It's ok to feel guilt, son. It's ok to feel joy too." UGH. Someone get the tissues again! Then the soldiers get to have a beautiful moment in the waves together. Things aren't fixed forever. Pete still has a lot of issues to deal with, but he's not a stereotype. He's not going to fly off the handle like we might expect. Instead, as the sun sets, he gets to swim in the ocean with the people who love him, and are there for him. He can, and will, still feel guilt, but in this moment, he can also feel joy.

With a unique sense of humor, and a point of view pretty much lacking from TV at the moment, Enlisted goes down with the likes of Better Off Ted and Freaks and Geeks, as a short-lived, brilliant piece of television that I will be sure to revisit again and again. If the large amount of fan art, critical love, and support from the military is any indication, Enlisted does have a shot at getting picked up by another network for Season two. But until that day (please please please!) or your DVD or Netflix release, Enlisted, I salute you.

Orphan Black SEASON FINALE Recap: Season 2, Episode 10: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried **Warning! A slew of spoilers lies ahead, although if you're reading this, you've probably already seen it**

"My name is Sarah Manning, and this is my unconditional surrender." So starts a season finale full of twists, surprises, and finally some answers to our burning questions (plus…more burning questions for next year, of course). Where to begin? Sarah surrenders herself to the Dyad, in a humiliating scene full of blatant human rights violations and disgustingly invasive questions (which I'm sure made all my fellow lady viewers cringe), and another amazing performance by Tatiana Maslany - although, when didn't she crush it this year? Sarah subjects herself to this, of course, for the sake of Kira, who is currently being held as bait by Rachel, in some strange, screwed up mother-child role play that gave me a sufficient dose of the heebie-jeebies. Turns out, they want one of Sarah's ovaries to dissect and study immediately, and she's scheduled for surgery by Rachel and the creepizoid Dr. Nealon. Not to worry, the ever-brilliant Cosima gets Kira and Scott (oh, Scott. Bless your beautiful Canadian heart) to help her create a way for Sarah to get out of it, but not before Rachel SMASHES KIRA'S BONE MARROW DONATION ON THE FLOOR, rendering her latest sacrifice for her aunt pointless. What goes around comes around though, and Rachel ends up with a projectile pencil to the eye, curtesy of a Cosima physics lesson and a cleverly drawn clue from Kira. Sarah escapes, only to find Marion, the head of everyone's favorite new big-bad "Top Side", releasing Kira to her in exchange for a meeting the next day. Turns out, Project LEDA has a male, military clone contingent, Project Castor, and guess what? Ex-prolethian Mark is one of them. Oh, and NBD, but there's a new eight-year-old female clone who is growing up self-aware in Marion's care. Oooh boy. This whole thing just blew wide open, folks. Also: Mrs. S. gave up a pregnant Helena to Paul and the military (dammit Paul! You were military all along you wooden-faced master of deception!) in exchange for Sarah's safety - what are they going to do with her, and what does this mean for the rest of the clones? There are so many questions to answer for next year, but for now, we can all fully enjoy the fabulous clone-dance-party-sleepover scene that, for me, brought this finale to the next level, both technically (the special effects are so incredible for the sheer fact that we don't think about them at all while watching) and character-wise. For a season so full of tension, it was such a pure joyful release to watch this "family" finally reunited and having a blast.

Thus ends another exciting season of Orphan Black. While there was no hope of matching the level of perfection from Season 1, this year was consistently thrilling, funny, surprising, and original, leaving this fan-girl on the edge of her seat for Season 3. See you in 2015, Clone Club. If we've learned anything from the past 10 episodes, it'll be worth the agonizing wait.

Catch you next week for more TV fun, and thanks again for reading!

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