‘The Duff’ review

The Duff is the high school drama we have all waited for since Mean Girls. But it’s not about being mean or fitting in. The Duff captures the hearts of its viewers with Bianca Piper, an “average girl” (at least for a movie.) Bianca is the protagonist we can all relate to: she loves pizza and has a crush on one of the popular guys at school. After being friends with two of the hottest girls at school, Bianca is thrust out of her oblivious duff-induced reality by football star, Wesley Rush, who is also the hottest guy at school. And typically, he’s dating the meanest girl. Now, “DUFF” (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) may not be what you expected it to be. You don’t have to actually be fat or ugly, which is something that may have turned away many potential viewers. Throughout the movie, we are told that a DUFF is the approachable friend; the one people talk to when they have a crush on the hot one. So you don’t have to actually be fat or ugly.

A charming, sweet and somewhat sexual comedy and while some scenes in this movies were a bit over the top and unrealistic, (I’ll leave out the one in mind because of spoilers, but if you’ve seen it, you know which one it is), Robbie Amell and Mae Whitman (Wes and Bianca) manage to pull you into their frisky comedy about being the Duff, with great performances by the supporting cast (mainly Bella Thorne).

If you had been questioning whether to see this movie, you should go. It’s the complete opposite of what the internet had to say about it. This movie is not threatening and does not trigger harmful body image issues. It’s a sweet comedy about a girl who comes to realize that being a Duff doesn’t define who she is; everybody is someone’s Duff. The movie leaves behind the thought that being who you are should be enough and ends on a positive note, encouraging the ideas of having a healthy, positive body image in your mind. You will not regret the trip to see this movie, and I guarantee you will laugh.

Plus, Robbie Amell is shirtless quite a bit, so that’s just another reason to watch it all by itself.


Arrow 3×15: “Nanda Parbat”

After last week’s flashback episode, it was hard to see where Arrow was going to go to continue its third season, but obviously it was going to involve the League of Assassins and Malcolm Merlyn. To start the episode, Oliver and Thea were continuing their training to fight Ra’s al Ghul, and being bested by Malcolm repeatedly. Oliver, still struggling (mentally) after his previous fight with Ra’s, has been very short with the rest of the team, and it comes to light.

After three seasons, it’s nice to see Thea Queen get the recognition (and screen time) that she deserves, and none more so than in this episode. Overcome with guilt after learning that she murdered Sara, Thea confesses to Laurel about what she, and Malcolm, did. Laurel, surprisingly, is not angry with Thea, but her anger is focused on Malcolm, which leads to her confronting him as the Black Canary. Still not quite enough, Laurel’s decision was reckless and had it not been for the interruption of Nyssa and the League, who knows what Malcolm would have done to her. Malcolm is captured by Nyssa and is transported to Nanda Parbat, after a brief pause when Oliver Queen tried to stop them, however, Oliver manages to capture Nyssa. Thea, the one who turned Malcolm in to the League, later confesses to Nyssa about Sara’s murder, and offers her a blade to get her vengeance. How that will turn out, we have to wait until next time.

Felicity, meanwhile, is focused on Ray Palmer this episode as he continues his quest to complete the Atom suit. After being missing for week, Felicity finds Ray in his apartment, sleep-deprived and armed with a tool that could cause the whole building to explode. Once Oliver leaves for Nanda Parbat to rescue Malcolm, Felicity returns to Ray’s and makes him shower before they end up in bed. Flash forward to the end of the episode, and we see a lightbulb above Ray’s head turn on like in a cartoon, and he begins to write some formula down before leaving Felicity in bed to (finally) finish the suit. The episode ends with him flying around the city in his fancy new threads.

Oliver and Diggle have several scenes together, something that has recently been missing from the show, and their brotherly relationship shines through again. After Malcolm is captured, Oliver decides to go to Nanda Parbat to rescue him, and is accompanied by Diggle on this suicide mission; a decision that truly makes no sense from Diggle’s side considering he has a newborn child at home, but whatever. Ra’s sets a trap for them once they’re inside the building and they’re captured. While chained to the floor, Diggle asks Oliver to be his best man (his wedding is in a future episode, set pictures have been leaked) and after a touching scene where Diggle mentions that after he lost his brother, Andy, he never expected to get another [Oliver]. When Ra’s finally decides to bring Oliver to face him, Oliver (and me) are shocked to learn that Ra’s has no intention of killing him, but instead wants him to take his place..

I’ll admit, this League storyline seems to be a bit dragged on, but with this new shift in the adventures of Oliver Queen and Ra’s al Ghul, it’ll be interesting to see how Oliver handles this new proposal. I’m sure he won’t accept, but where will that leave him with the League? Where will this leave him with Team Arrow? Arrow is back in a few weeks, taking a quite hiatus before finishing the season. Stay tuned!

Switched at Birth 4×08: “Art Like Love Is Dedication”

This episode of Switched at Birth was somewhat lackluster after the recent episodes involving Bay and Tank. But there wasn’t much else to do with that story, so the writers moved on, but this episode just seemed somewhat juvenile in comparison.

During the episode, Bay is trying to find her place within the world again, after an early release from community service and probation because she saved an officer from choking during her shift. She is thrilled when her probation officer informs her of her release, and it’s very nice to see her happy again after the previous episodes. Bay also helps her community service friend with her financial situation, when she is fired from her crappy job and is therefore unable to provide for her son, who suffers from a condition where he could stop breathing at any moment. Bay’s character growth, especially just in this season, has progressed to the point where she is completely unrecognizable to the Bay Kennish we were introduced to in season one.

Daphne is infatuated with a new boy at school, the one from the party where Bay was assaulted, and they hook up after Bay gives her some dating advice, and fashion. The sisterly scenes between Daphne and Bay this season are what I have been waiting 3 seasons for. And in what is one of the funniest moments on the show, he loses the condom after they’re finished and the come to the realization that it is in Daphne. A quick trip to the health center, and they’re on their way, only for him to blow her off the next day in front of his friends, and then be invited over for another night. Daphne seems to be misunderstanding the concept of college, where guys (and girls) aren’t interested in relationships and are only after sex (even though her classmate from Chemistry TOLD HER, but it’s Daphne, I’m not surprised).

John and Kathryn spent the episode helping Travis with his assignments to keep his grades up. After a speech about English being the second language of the deaf, Kathryn starts to tutor Travis, but in the end he resorts to having someone else write his paper (but it was his coach’s idea). John forces the coach to confess to the dean, and consequently, the coach is fired and John takes his place.

Regardless of this lackluster episode, it was truly a reminder of how far these characters have come. After all they have been through, each character has blossomed and is more concerned with others. Especially Bay. Hopefully the next episode will pick the pace of the show back up, especially with the upcoming gang story involving Regina’s new boyfriend, Eric. Until next week…

Switched at Birth 4×07: “Fog and Storm and Rain”

Tonight’s episode of Switched at Birth focused on internal strife built up over the past few episodes, while stuck in the middle of a storm and a flash flood warning. Emmett and Bay, not the main focus of the episode, were reunited after Bay’s recent assault by her ex-boyfriend, Tank. After Daphne flew out to LA to tell him what happened with Bay and Tank, he decided to come visit her at the end of the episode. The episode starts off with Emmett and Bay passive aggressively fighting, Emmett not wanting to talk about the assault, and Bay needing to tell him everything that happened. Throughout the episode, Bay constantly trying to tell Emmett about what happened, and struggling with whether she should bother or not. After another sweet scene with Bay and John, where he encourages her to tell Emmett (believing he could handle it), Bay decides to. Emmett begins to say that he was going to transfer universities to be in Kansas City with Bay, she tells him everything, because she believes that if Emmett is going to ruin change his future for her, he should know everything. When she finally decides to, they skip the whole story and flash forward to afterward, where Emmett is freaking out, relating it to cheating. From the short scene after, Bay and Emmett most like broke up again.

Before the storm hit, Kathryn’s mother, Bonnie, came for a visit with her friend, Lucille (who was later revealed to be her friend). Kathryn has always been such an open, accepting person and it really showed this episode. After John revealed to Kathryn that her mother was more than likely in a relationship with Lucille, she had a brief moment where she said, “She was married for 42 years and she’s my mother!” but within seconds, she realizes that maybe it’s true and she is instantly supportive. Such a nice change from normal television stories, where they spend more than half of the episode denying the facts, but with Kathryn, it took her literal seconds. Once the power went out from the storm, Kathryn sat her mother down to enforce her support in her relationship, but Bonnie shocked her by telling her she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. (I’ll admit, even I was shocked, however I saw the friend thing coming within the first five seconds.) Bonnie revealed her plans to move to Paris with Lucille to open a B&B, to which Kathryn was horrified that she would even suggest moving away. Finally, the inevitable denial. A screaming match (from Kathryn only) proceeds, before Kathryn accepts her mother’s plans, and encourages her to do so.

Meanwhile, Regina and Daphne were such at Regina and her boyfriend’s coffee shop when the storm hit. Daphne, still struggling to accept what Bay did for her, is struck further down when “Nacho” shows up to set up the wifi for the shop and they’re all trapped when a tree falls down in front of the doors. Daphne overcome with guilt that Nacho had to leave town and his daughter because of the arrest warrant, informs him of Bay’s decision and that she confessed to doing it alone. Nacho is free. But in typical Nacho way, he decides to use the information to blackmail Daphne and Regina for $10,000. One thing leads to another, and Regina somewhat tells Eric about the dilemma. Eric scares Nacho into letting it go by informing him (and us) of his gang affiliations. Eric sweeps his gang past under the rug again when Regina asks, but when his son comes home after the storm, his son makes a comment about not wanting to move again, which brings the question of what will happen when they’re found..

Potentially one of the strongest episodes of Switched at Birth, each cast member delivers top performances, and it was nice, again, to see a break from the Daphne side of the show. I understand she’s a main character, but during the past three seasons, everything has been so focused on Daphne and it’s nice to see Bay being utilized more and more. I hope now that her relationship with Emmett is over, for now, she’ll get a story that doesn’t revolve around others. Looking forward to the next episode.

(Sorry for the late recap/review again, swamped with school and work!)

Arrow 3×14: “Left Behind”

When we last saw Oliver and Thea Queen, Malcolm Merlyn had sent them off to Lian Yu to prepare and train for battle with Ra’s al Ghul. Little did they know, Merlyn actually planned to help Slade Wilson escape from ARGUS prison to come after Oliver, in hopes that either Oliver or Thea would kill him. So Merlyn did exactly that: he let Slade come after Thea and Oliver, but he did not get his wish. Given the chance to kill him, Thea was stopped by Oliver, and they returned Slade to his prison cell, which hopefully he’ll remain in this time.

This episode was the flashback episode of the season, so flashback to Year 3 of Oliver’s 5 year absence from Starling City. Working with ARGUS, Oliver and Maseo are tasked with returning to Starling to regain control over the Omega, part of a two piece destruction device, that is in the hands of China White and up for auction. Oliver, distraught and distracted by being so close to the people he loves, sees Thea while on a stakeout and decides to follow her around. He sees her and her drug dealer, mostly, and at Tommy’s big blowout birthday party (that Thea snuck into, as it’s 21 and over) Oliver snaps the neck of her drug dealer. Don’t you just love big brothers? Always there to snap a neck or two. Oliver threatens to leave ARGUS and abandon the mission, but right when Maseo is about to be killed by China White, Oliver comes to the rescue and they retrieve the Omega. Later, Oliver demands that he be allowed to stay in Starling City, now that they’ve completed the mission, but a military sergeant that sees to be in charge of ARGUS tells him that if he returns to Hong Kong to debrief, he’ll be allowed to leave. (But we all know that’s not really the case, or Oliver would’ve returned to Starling a year and a half earlier.)

As we see in the present, we also see in the flashbacks scenes between Laurel and Quentin Lance, where he is blaming her and getting angry at her over Sara’s death. Flashback Quentin is a drunk, verbally attacking Laurel repeatedly for taking a job that in the end, she doesn’t take because her father reminds her that she became a lawyer to help people, but also making snide comments about Sara in order to hurt Laurel, and Laurel’s budding friendship/relationship with Tommy Merlyn (finally! I’ve missed him so much.) Present day Quentin isn’t drinking, but he’s still being just as terrible to Laurel, but it is understandable. Laurel didn’t tell him, which she should have, but I think he is also ignoring her reasoning. Laurel takes the unopened bottle of alcohol from Quentin at Sara’s grave and opens it, I thought she was going to drink it, but thankfully she poured it out (but on your sister’s grave? Really?)

I love that Thea is becoming part of the show much more this season. It seemed like she was just there in season two, and she was the troublemaker in season one. I’m excited to see how much of a part she plays in the inevitable showdown with the league and let’s hope that she makes it out alive. Next episode, we see Ray Palmer in his fancy, new Atom suit, and Malcolm Merlyn captured on Nanda Parbat. (And more Black Canary!)

Reign 2×14: “The End of Mourning”

After a few lackluster episodes, Reign finally picked up yet again with the revelation that King Henry had been poisoned before his untimely death, which lead to him being driven mad. If Catherine hadn’t been poisoned as well by their family Bible, we would have always thought that Henry was just a crazy bastard.

The episode began with a really nice scene with Mary and her ladies, well Kenna and Lola, seeing as Greer was stripped of her title, sledding and drinking hot chocolate. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Mary even remotely happy and she was smiling and everything. It didn’t have anything to do with the episode, I just think it was a great way to show that Mary is slowly making progress.

Starting off, Catherine and Narcisse are still working together (God knows why, I’m positive that they’d never work with a former Lord that tried to destroy their family, but okay Reign writers…) and are hot on the trail of Henry’s poisoner. First, Lord Conde is implicated, as he has ties to the man that they believed was responsible for actually poisoning the Bible. This lead to Mary and Francis having a Royal dinner, where they planned to question Conde about his involvement. However, in order for Conde to be present at the Royal dinner, he would have to postpone his trip with Lola, the courtship that Mary and Francis arranged, and he was less than pleased when Mary told him he must wait a day. Not because he’s remotely interested in Lola, but because he’s tired of Mary’s push and pull. He obliges, and at the mess of the Royal dinner, Conde learns about the interest in him as a suspect in the poisoning and before long, Narcisse interrupts, but the damage is done. Mary and Francis continue on the path that he should see other people, so he decides to spend more time with Lola and his child. Mary and Conde later confess their love for one another, but Mary vows to not let him ruin her status as she is Francis’ wife and she will always be. She leaves their conversation with saying, “You will be my death, and I of you.”

All of this was complicated by the Duke of Guise’s return, where he appeared in Mary’s chambers questioning her and Francis’ involvement with Conde and his brother, Antoine, whose family has always been after the throne. Mary turns him away, because he vanished as soon as the plague was mentioned, so he makes his way over to seduce Catherine, but she is less than inclined as well. Later, she makes plans to meet him in the greenhouse on the far side of the castle, but is interrupted by Narcisse’s revelation that (shockingly) the Duke of Guise was the one who orchestrated the poisoning of King Henry, clearing the names of Conde and anyone else possibly suspected. The Duke is murdered for his treason, shot by several arrows, and left for dead in what is (seemingly) the middle of nowhere. At the end of the episode, Narcisse and King Antoine rendezvous and discuss the framing of the Duke of Guise and Antoine confesses to being responsible, which Narcisse knew and used to his advantage.

I was disappointed with the lack of substance for Mary during this episode. If you hadn’t seen the previous episodes, you would have never know what Mary had gone through, besides her quick mention of it in her chat with Conde. I’m (painfully) interested in how Francis and Mary’s relationship is right now, and my shipper heart hopes they will reunite, but it’s nice to see them each as their own person, something that we’ve truly missed. Narcisse has said that Mary and Francis will never see him coming, and I’m excited to see what he’s planning on doing.

(Sorry for the late recap, I’ve been really busy lately!)

Arrow 3×13: “Canaries”

In one of the most intense openings of an episode of Arrow, we see Laurel dressed as the Black Canary getting mauled by someone else… and that someone else is none other than her sister, Sara. Laurel is definitely losing the fight, and then the time tables turn on us and it’s 48 hours earlier. Black Canary takes down the man that Oliver and Roy are chasing, and then Oliver reprimands her for being out on the street. Laurel, being the badass that she’s become, stands up to him and maintains the stance that she’ll remain on the streets.

A scene that has been long awaited, Oliver finally confesses to Thea about being the Arrow, and in one of the sweetest moments they’ve shared, she thanks him for being the Arrow and lying to her to save countless people. Thea then realizes that Malcolm has known and finally acknowledges that he has driven a wedge between so her and so many others, including her brother.

Zytle, the villain that the Arrow writers seem to use every time they need a filler, returns and drugs a federal agent outside the courthouse, on his way to trial. The agent proceeds to pull out his gun and (fatally) shoot a few of the reporters, leaving Laurel no choice but to knock him out. Felicity is being so supportive of Laurel being the Black Canary, and her line, “This is my favorite part,” when showing the Team the video of Laurel punching the agent is one of my favorites. Which leads to Laurel showing up and delivering one of her best lines throughout the series, “Was my form off?” I’m really appreciating the amount of Laurel/Oliver scenes we are getting in this episode, even though they are quite negative, I’ve wanted to see this team up since the series began. Ollie tells Laurel to stay off the streets again, so Laurel goes after Zytle by herself and ends up being given vertigo, which leads to her showdown with Sara. Vertigo-Sara calls her a fraud, a fake, and an addict, things that Laurel has obviously struggled with throughout the series. Back in the foundry, Laurel sees Vertigo-Sara once more before Oliver gives her something to counteract the vertigo. When Laurel wakes up, her and Felicity share one of the most important scenes of the episode, where Felicity says, “You have a light inside of you that Sara never had.” And then she encourages Laurel to continue in her Canary ventures, but as herself, not Sara.

Thea sleeps with the DJ at her club, and then discovers that he’s working for Ra’s al Ghul after he tries to give her red wine laced with cyanide (a trick she learned from daddy dearest) and long-haired DJ attacks her, Roy and Malcolm and then finally kills himself. Thea’s well-deserved screen time seems to finally be rearing its head this season, and should throughout the rest of season 3, as Oliver, Malcolm and Thea, plus Team Arrow are going to be working together to get ready for the inevitable showdown with Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins.

Roy is unreachable after being taken out of commission by long-haired DJ, so Oliver and Laurel track down Zytle once more. Oliver is stuck saving the hostages and Laurel goes after Zytle, being injected once more. After another fight with Vertigo-Sara and now Vertigo-Quentin (he repeatedly yells at her about lying to him about Sara’s death,) Laurel becomes herself, the Black Canary and takes down Zytle and looks up to see Sara smiling at her. If that’s not the best ending to Laurel’s Canary versus Black Canary trilogy, I honestly don’t know what is. Flash forward to the police station and Laurel spills the truth to her father, bringing forth one of the most emotional scenes in recent episodes, as the camera zooms out and we see Laurel comforting her father.

Merlyn decides that Oliver and Thea need to go to the only place on the planet where they can conquer their fears, in order to face off against Ra’s al Ghul, so Oliver leaves Starling in the hands of Team Arrow and departs for Lian Yu.

Tonight’s episode was such a culminating ending/beginning for Laurel’s Canary/Black Canary journey, and so important to building the relationship between Laurel and Oliver, and Laurel and Felicity. She’s becoming and integral part of Team Arrow, and it’s interesting to see how Oliver is coping with the changes to Team Arrow. I really appreciated the scene between Roy and Oliver, where Roy finally stood up to him, and Oliver was just so shocked and outraged that Roy would even consider it. And then Felicity’s comment about how things changed while they thought Oliver was dead, she’s such a strong woman and I’m so excited to see more of the dynamic between the Team, though probably not next episode seeing as Oliver is back in purgatory.

Switched at Birth 4×06: “Black and Gray”

Previously on Switched at Birth, Bay admitted to a felony crime that she did not do, but her switched sister Daphne did in a misguided rage. Bay, just getting off of probation, went to Daphne’s college for a party and ended up sleeping with her ex-boyfriend, Tank. In the last episode, Bay struggled to remember whether she had given consent and cheated on her boyfriend, Emmett, after blacking out at the party from drinking so much.
Tank had repeatedly said she had, but Bay remembered enough to honestly say that she hadn’t.

This episode is probably one of the most important in Switched at Birth history, in ABC Family history, and in television history. No program has ever really covered the issue of consent, and Lizzy Weiss (the show’s creator) and the other writers truly handle this in a classy, informative way. We start the episode knowing that Bay had not given consent, but she also wanted the whole issue to be dropped. Unfortunately, Toby overheard her conversation with Tank and told his girlfriend, Lily, who happens to be an administrator at the college that Tank and Daphne attend. Bay is called in to meet with Melody, where she realizes that the issue won’t and can’t be dropped. Melody informs her that the University has to do an investigation, and Bay is horrified to realize that everyone would now be in the know about her assault, which ended with Tank being expelled.

One of the greatest parts of this show is the co-parenting, especially between Regina and Kathryn. After Daphne comes to Regina, and spews a story similar to Bay’s about a “friend” who is going through all of these, Regina puts it all together and goes to Kathryn. Together, they go to Bay and talk to her, which is always lovely. This show has spent so much time writing a relationship between Daphne and all of their parents, but Bay has always been left out. We’ve seen the most bonding between Bay and John, which in tonight’s episode they shared a very tender, heartbreaking moment, where John gives Bay the reassurance that she doesn’t have to tell him what happened after she is too ashamed to even look into his eyes. And Bay’s interaction with Kathryn when Kathryn tells her that she was assaulted to, even though there wasn’t intercourse, was so admirable for the writers to include, and gives us so much more insight into the depth and history of these characters, that we haven’t seen before.

I’m really appreciating the direction that Daphne is going down this season. The past few seasons, she’s spent a lot of it complaining about all that she doesn’t have, granted in some instances she had every right to, but this season, she’s spending it all trying to get in her family’s good graces. Her relationship with Bay is becoming even more sisterly after Bay took the blame for her. After Emmett wouldn’t listen to Bay about what occurred with Tank, Daphne decided to fly out to LA and brought him back with her.

Bay’s character growth, even just within this season, is so advanced and beyond words. Her character has become so much more than the spoiled, rich girl she was in the pilot episode and it shows in Bay’s interview with the university’s investigator. The fact that Bay would suggest that Tank shouldn’t be punished for what happened goes to show how strong she is. Even though he was (rightly) expelled because he did assault her, just the thought that she would want him to not be punished is quite heartwarming, not because he deserves it, but because it gives us an honest view into Bay’s character and how she has grown beyond expectations.

Reign 2×13 recap: “Sins of the Past”

If you’ve been watching Reign from the pilot, you’ve seen Mary, Queen of Scots, suffer in many ways, but none more heartbreaking than recently. In the midseason finale, Mary was raped by intruders of the castle that were after Francis, a storyline that I was/am completely against, but at least the writers have been writing realistic scenarios of the aftermath.

To begin the episode, Lord Conde’s brother, King Antoine, visits the French Court. This man being focused on slithering Conde through the lives of Francis and Mary, recognizes Bash as his brother’s murderer. Conde has become a big obstacle in recent episodes, as he’s fallen for Mary, but she is (obviously) not interested, as she’s married to Francis and dealing with her trauma. More interesting than Narcisse, however, who spends his time as a former Lord (titles stripped) “entertaining” Princess Claude, and trying to make a name for himself once more.

Bash makes a trip to a local town, where a man was “raised from the dead” to avoid his fighting with Kenna. This man, a demon as the townsfolk would refer to him, repeatedly tells Bash that he was dead and brought back, though Bash thinks it was a coma (or a long sleep, that is sometime mistaken as death.) This man, a Greek, claimed that a woman in white stood over him and pulled him out of the grave. However, Bash isn’t convinced, and the town’s men find them and shoot an arrow into the man’s chest.

Queen Catherine is diagnosed with syphilis, after having a prophetic vision of Francis dying (part of the episode’s throwback to Nostradamus) and the doctor discovering she had sores in her mouth and on her hands. Claude, still evil and resentful after Catherine poisoned her, helps her mother through the cures of syphilis, which apparently includes having birds peck at your feet for hours (what?!) and sitting in a steam box. Later in the episode, Narcisse comes to Catherine’s aid after she screams for water and being the dirty man he is, he is familiar with syphilis and suggests that maybe Catherine was being poisoned. This leads back to King Henry and how he lost his mind, and we find out that his Bible was laced with poison… (someone wanted King Henry dead??? No way. I’m so shocked….)

What has really been great writing is Mary’s struggle. Just to be clear, I was and am completely against them even including this storyline, I wish they would have gone about furthering Mary’s character like this a different way, but I think Mary’s character growth recently is astounding. She lets Francis sleep in the same bed as her, trying to make progress, but ultimately is reminded of her trauma by the sound of him breathing next to her. It’s incredibly heartbreaking to see Mary so vulnerable and fragile, but also so strong at the same time. She is strong enough to say that she isn’t comfortable, and strong enough to be a woman that she has to be at this time, and it speaks to Francis’ character as well that he is perfectly okay with giving her time and space. Her character is going through so much besides her recovery as well, with King Antoine informing them that Queen Elizabeth is planning to attack them, threatened by Mary’s Catholic status and her claim to the English throne. But we return to Francis and Mary and the episode ends with Mary giving Francis her permission to wed another, as she doesn’t think she’ll ever be ready to be the wife he “deserves”.

I hope that the Reign writers continue to write Mary’s struggle this well, but don’t rush as they do with most every other story. Mary’s recovery should take time, perhaps even over a whole season as time seems to move fast between each episode, and should they decide to “end” the story, I hope they should find the way to do it that is believable.

Arrow 3×12 recap: “Uprising”

Arrow could really have fallen apart without Oliver Queen in these past few episodes, but I think it truly speaks to the abilities of the writers and of the supporting cast members that these episodes have been so successful. This episode focuses on Malcolm Merlyn’s transformation (in the past) from rich businessman to killer. Whether or not we were supposed to start feeling sympathy for Malcolm, it certainly showed us a different version of him, from when he was trying to avenge his wife’s murder (which, we find out that Brick actually killed his wife, not the man he murdered 21 years ago.)

Oliver Queen (returned!) this episode, and was much more a part of it, working with Tatsu to find his way home. After repeatedly inviting her, and her declining to join him, Oliver Queen was sent on his way home, but with advice that is going to change the whole direction of the show. Tatsu’s advice to Oliver was to become Ra’s al Ghul, to learn everything he knows, and only then can Oliver defeat him. “Only the student has hope of defeating the master.”

Back in Starling, Team Arrow is still struggling to make progress after Brick took over the Glades. After a squashed attempt, where Arsenal was held at gunpoint and then saved by the Black Canary, they return to the foundry. Felicity (using her mad tech skills) finds out that Brick murdered Merlyn’s wife, while he was watching them (somehow Felicity still hasn’t realized that Malcolm put malware on her computer) and he tempts them with an offer. Malcolm will help them take down Brick, but the price is that Malcolm will kill Brick. Tensions flare up between Team Arrow, with Laurel and Roy wanting to work with Merlyn and Felicity and Diggle against the idea. In the end, Laurel decides it’s not worth it, and it’s 3 against 1.

I think it’s important to mention how different Team Arrow is without Oliver. Same team, but they are doing things that are vastly different than anything Oliver would do, and it seems to be working. Laurel and Roy come up with the idea to get the people of the Glades to fight with them, which is brilliant, and it actually works. Unfortunately, it does come with a cost as Ted (Wildcat, Laurel’s boxing teacher) is severely wounded by Brick.

Throughout the episode, Team Arrow had to struggle with whether or not to work with Malcolm, and ultimately decided against it, and Felicity swore that Oliver would never do it. But, the episode ends with Oliver deciding to be trained by Malcolm to take down Ra’s, which causes strife between Oliver and Felicity. (May I add that Emily Bett Rickards slayed Felicity’s monologue to Oliver, which ended the episode.)

Now that Oliver is back, it’ll be interesting to see how the dynamics of Team Arrow have shifted, especially with Laurel on Team Arrow. Old Oliver would have been stubborn, but after his recent (almost!) death, it’ll be interesting how the team has changed, but also, how he has changed.