“I’m Not Crazy, I’m Confident”: Survivor Season Premiere

survivor
“Survivor” , CBS

Well, I hope you all have a bag of popcorn, your favorite candy, and a nice glass of water so you can have a few momentous spit takes while watching Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor.

Survivor has been on for a shocking 35 seasons, but for those who are unaware of the premise, here’s a quick summary: A group of strangers are dropped on an island with no food, no water, and quite frankly no hope for almost 40 days as they compete in reward challenges, immunity challenges, and vote each other out in the beloved Tribal Council. Along the way, there are potential opportunities to find Hidden Immunity Idols which can be used to negate votes at a Tribal Council.

This season’s focus is Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, with some familiar faces on the Heroes Tribe, including 1988 Olympian Katrina Radke and football cornerback Alan Ball (more on him later).

Episode 1 focuses on days one to three, and typically game play is slow moving at this stage. As made clear on tonight’s episode, this group of 18 players does not follow the unspoken Survivor rules. To be blunt, this cast is nuts. I don’t know where the production team found these people, but they sure did search high and low for some potentially psychotic contestants. Case in point: previously mentioned Alan made his tribe mate and alliance member JP LITERALLY TAKE OFF HIS UNDERWEAR in the middle of the night to prove that the man was not hiding a damn hidden immunity idol?!?!?! Alan, are you aware that the game has just started? In a typical episode of Survivor, someone pulling crazy stunts like that would be the number one target to evict off the island. But as I said, 20 minutes into this episode and any Survivor fan can tell this is not a typical season. So with that in mind, of course no one on Alan’s tribe thinks he’s crazy and no one has the intention to get rid of him?? Because they all want to work with a man with crazy eyes who has severe trust issues. He might be on the wrong show.

Things only get better. At the immunity challenge, the Heroes are sucking ass and come in dead last. So at this point the Hustlers and Healers tribes don’t really exist since no drama is happening with them. And after the Heroes lose, tribe member Chrissy vomits in front of everyone and then lays down next to it??? Is no one on this show going to address that??

As I mentioned, this episode is primarily focused on days one-three. Yet go-getter Ryan from the Hustlers tribe, who has found a special hidden immunity idol, has the brilliant idea to give someone on the Heroes tribe an idol to “shake things up”??? Usually, in order to shake things up, things have to actually be happening. Less than two days ago you were sipping margaritas on the damn beach, Ryan. There is nothing to “shake up” at this point. In his defense, this idol is different than the others. Usually idols must be played after the votes have been written, but before they are read. This idol is specifically intended for the first Tribal Council ONLY, can be used AFTER the votes have been read, and since Ryan’s Hustler tribe won immunity, he must give it to a member of the losing Heroes tribe.

Remember Chrissy, the woman who vomited at the immunity challenge? Yeah, for some reason Ryan secretly gave this idol to her.

Jump forward to the first Tribal Council: the Heroes tribe is already a wreck and no one seems to know how the vote will go. Chrissy and Katrina are seen as outsiders for not being in the “core four” alliance of Alan, JP, JP’s potential romantic interest Ashley (do these people not realize this isn’t The Bachelor??), and Ben. Alan mentions how he is scared JP and Ashley are becoming a power couple on day three of this game because clearly he doesn’t know how to play Survivor.

Long story short, Katrina is the first one voted out in a 5-1 vote. Come on, Chrissy! You got a once in a lifetime special hidden immunity idol and you don’t even use it, even though she was in your two-person alliance and it could’ve saved your ass down the line?? Disappointing.

So on that note, make sure you have some popcorn for episode two, because at the rate this is going, this season of Survivor is going to be a wild one.

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“O Cult Leader! My Cult Leader!”: American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 4 Recap

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“American Horror Story: Cult” , FX

Let us first give thanks to our dear lord-and-showrunner/gay uncle, Ryan Murphy, for granting us a short break from the seemingly eternal crying montage that is Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson). Amen.

Tuesday night’s continuation of FX’s American Horror Story: Cult supplied us with an enjoyable change of pace and narrative, focusing now on the assembly of Kai Anderson’s (Evan Peters) cult rather than Ally’s internal (but mostly external. Loudly external) conflict. Beginning on election night and moving back and forth from there to highlight each of Kai’s recruitments, this episode is the first in which the “cult” theme really begins to shine (did I mention that Ally is only in, like, one scene? And that she’s not even crying in that one scene?). For that reason and many others, this is my favorite episode of the season so far.

The episode opens at a polling station where the whole town has come to cast their vote in the presidential election. Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) is there reporting, (because she’s a news anchor; one that obviously hates her job. It comes up later.) when Emma Roberts enters the frame as the same character she’s been playing since Coven (but this time with brunette hair!). Emma’s character (who would probably be named something like “Michaela” or “Payton” in real life, but is actually named Serena Belinda) is Beverly’s co-anchor, there to fold her ballot. You already know who she voted for.

My favorite part of this scene is when the camera trucks its way down the line to focus on each of the characters waiting to enter the polls. Ally and Ivy are gushing over their sureness that a woman will be elected while Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) is gathered with younger Hillary supporters, all of which are dead set on letting the world know that their vaginas do indeed have extendable limbs that will be used to combat sexual harassment in America. The best piece of exposition, though, is shown from the end of the line as Meadow Wilton (Leslie Grossman) discusses her unfitness to vote with Harrison (Billy Eichner). She later proves her point by using Oprah (copyright Harpo Productions™) as her write-in.

After a quick cutting montage of each character filling out their ballot (and Ally choosing Jill Stein, but we knew this), Kai enters the polls dragging a bleeding Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono), the local Trumptastic cashier featured in episode one, behind him. With a missing limb, Gary proceeds to vote for Donald. Kai does the same.

The next day begins Kai’s search for cult members. First at the gym with Harrison, eventually getting him to murder his douchebag boss (who was named Vinny by the writers of the episode specifically so you’d know he was a “not nice” guy) and recruiting Meadow, too, after she walks in on the two of them dismembering Vinny. He also ends up converting Beverly after finding out that she had an on-air breakdown (which was made all the much better with the reference to internet culture. The news bloopers. The remixes. I appreciate you, Ryan). Although initially reluctant to accept his offer, she agrees to join him after he sends the clowns to murder her co-workers (Emma Roberts lasted on episode. One).

I find these scene interesting for more reasons than one. Obviously, I have to give it up to Evan Peters for his portrayal of an excellent villain, but Kai’s interactions with his new cult members has solidified a theory that I’ve had about him since the beginning: this isn’t about Trump for him. Trump’s election was simply a vehicle for his plan. From his communist (yes, it was totally communist) rant with Harrison at the gym to his promise of “equal power” with Beverly; for me, it’s clear that he is someone who is striving to find any way possible to break the current world order down so that he can build it back up his way.

Another important addition to this episode was the revelation that Ivy met Winter before she was hired as Oz’s nanny (puthimtobed-er is a more appropriate title). In fact, Ivy met Winter before the election even took place, at a political rally where she was sexually assaulted by Gary. What’s even better (yes, Ally was also missing from this scene, but that’s not it)? They’re both the reason for Gary’s missing hand. After befriending each other, the two decide to get revenge on Gary by locking him in a rusty basement to keep him from voting in the election. Kai comes to the rescue after his sister tells him of the deed and assists Gary by giving him the tools he needs to cut his hand free! Hence, why he came to the polls bleeding.

This episode was so full of well-done exposition that I’m not even sure of how many questions we have left to be answered (not to be mistaken, I still have plenty of personal questions to ask myself and the universe, such as “I wonder what God is doing when he isn’t helping Oprah pitch new shows for the OWN Network or teaching Ted Cruz how to keep his Earth-skin on?”). One thing I am sure of, though? It’s about to get really cult-y up in here. And clowns. I’m sure of clowns.

Young Sheldon Falls Prey to Cliché: Series Premiere Recap

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“Young Sheldon” , CBS

After ten years, some viewers may think they’ve seen all sides of The Big Bang Theory’s (BBT) Sheldon Cooper. Clearly, they haven’t heard of Young Sheldon, which premiered Monday night following BBT’s 11th season premiere.

Viewers are taken back to 1989 (and no I’m not talking about Taylor Swift’s 2014 album)  into the life of nine year old Cooper as he begins high school. BBT age Sheldon is still here though, as Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on BBT, is the narrator. We are introduced to the younger versions of Sheldon’s mom, Mary (Zoe Perry, who is the real life daughter of Laurie Metcalf who plays Mary in BBT) and twin sister, Missy, who were seen in the prequel series. For the first time, we are shown Sheldon’s father, George Sr., the local football coach, and Sheldon’s brother George Jr., or Georgie. As you might have been able to guess, since Sheldon is the brains of the family, he doesn’t get along well with Missy and Georgie, who are jealous of the attention he receives due to his intelligence.

Sheldon’s first day of high school doesn’t go so smoothly. In classic Sheldon fashion, he is quick to embarrass Georgie and call out students who are not adhering by the dress code, which leads to his parents being called to the principal’s office to discuss Sheldon’s behavior.

That night before dinner, George Sr. talks with Sheldon about how crucial it is to not be so concerned with everyone else’s life. In a touching moment, George shares an anecdote about how he was fired from his last job for tattling on fellow coaches. This storyline matches up to Sheldon’s current situation a little too well to be convincing, but is a sweet father-son moment nonetheless. At dinner, Sheldon even holds his father’s hand in a sense of consideration.

And there you have it, folks. The eventful, roller coaster ride that is the pilot episode of Young Sheldon. A little corny, perhaps. But a good watch? You decide.

They’re Still Doing the Clown Thing: American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 2 Recap

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“American Horror Story: Cult” , FX

I’m willing to bet every penny of my student loan debt on the chance that Ivy (Alison Pill) is involved with this clown cult somehow. If I’m wrong, I promise to convert this website into one of those new-age Facebook-journalism trap hubs that runs like a PowerPoint presentation.

Tuesday night’s episode of American Horror Story: Cult picked up right where last week’s season opener left off, with Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) screaming about another clown encounter, this time from her bedroom.

It’s only a matter of seconds before she comes bustling into the kitchen to ask her wife, who is now well beyond fed up with her shit, for help (her wife, being Ivy Mayfair-Richards, or as I like to call her, the Lifetime Network’s one and only choice for a low budget Ellen DeGeneres biopic). After searching the room with a fine piece of kitchen cutlery, Ivy’s choice murder weapon, the couple concludes that there, indeed, must be something wrong with Ally. This (naturally, of course) leads to the start of a sex scene we didn’t ask for, but not before we cut to a shot of their son Oz in bed (where he practically lives in this series) joined by Twisty the Clown (whose relevance this season has yet to be unearthed) and the alt-rightish, purgey clown that Ally saw in bed with her earlier. His screams interrupt the intimacy and call the two mothers to his room, where Oz reacts in a way that hints at some possible resentment growing towards Ally (he tells them that he wants “his mom” and then proceeds to lean away from Ally and into Ivy’s embrace. The camera’s close-up on Ally let’s us know that she is not happy about this).

The next morning, Kai’s staged, racially fueled assault video has gone viral and is being played on network news stations. I honestly wasn’t sure what was more notable; the fact that Kai (Evan Peters) announced his campaign for city council chair following the murder of councilman Tom Chang or the fact that Billy Eichner was portraying an eyewitness and speaking in a regular tone of voice. The latter is still somewhat relevant when Billy’s character is re-introduced as one of the new neighbors who moved into the Chang house immediately after their brutal murders. When Ally runs across the street to save Oz from impending death by clown (after his strange as hell babysitter Winter leaves him there), she and Ivy are welcomed by Harrison and Meadow Wilton (Billy Eichner and Leslie Grossman), beekeepers and spouses (although Harrison is gay and Meadow just goes along with it because she’s too sick with Cancer to have sex anyway). We could talk about how strange their living arrangement is all day (along with the fact that they just moved into a murder house the day after it became a murder house), but her humble offering of Crystal Light lemonade, made worse only by her alluding of it to Beyoncé, was enough for me to pull an Ally and call the cops.

Later that night, right before Oz is shoved back into his place (the bed), Ivy receives a call that the alarm system at their Butchery restaurant has gone off. Almost immediately, without much debate, she makes the intelligent decision to let Ally, her hysterically triggered wife, go by herself to disarm the system. Oh, yes. At this point, I was clasping my hands together, thanking God for delivering such a thing to my television (bootleg streaming laptop) screen. The best part was when Ally finished disarming the system and then directly afterward decided to follow a spooky noise into the meat fridge. A-freaking-men, sister. Follow that sound, girl. Running out of the Butchery immediately following a murderous noise is something that someone who didn’t vote for Jill Stein would do and we all know you did.

So anyway, Ally finds a dead body in the meat fridge. Well, an almost dead body. The person is one of the head butchers at the restaurant who also happened to have something against South American immigrants (as we were clued in during an earlier standoff between him and a kitchen staff member named Pedro). After his body is reported by Ally, Pedro is made a lead suspect in the murder.

Early that same day, Ally recounts her purchase of a gun from the new neighbors to her therapist. The Mayfair-Richards household is now also decked out with new locks and bars, all courtesy of Ally’s growing fear of the world. In other words, she’s slowly becoming a libertarian and there’s nothing you or Ivy DeGeneres-Mayfair-Richards can do about it.

The episode’s last quarter is comprised of:

-A seductive bath featuring creepy Winter Anderson.

-A power outage (terror attack?) across the country.

-Pedro’s death, thanks to Ally’s crazy gun flinging.

I still think Ivy has something to do with all the clown stuff. Perhaps it’s because, like her character, I find the clown theme this season to be stale and more than slightly annoying. However, it might also be because Ryan Murphy is making it waaay too easy. Either way, I’ll be watching and I know you will be, too.

 

 

Cookie Breathing for Jill Stein: American Horror Story Season 7 Episode 1 Recap

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‘American Horror Story: Cult’ , FX

American Horror Story is back for its 7th season and this time, they’re taking the show’s title as literally as possible. ‘AHS: Cult’ premiered last night with an opener that introduced the 2016 presidential election results as the epicenter of the storyline. This, of course, created so many opportunities for satirical gold; opportunities that were taken and hopefully will continue to be taken for the remainder of the season. Come for the killer clowns (I know, I’m kind of over that too) and stay for the Evan Peters (because who wouldn’t).

Like any semi-digestible horror story, this one starts with origins: the night of November 8th, when Donald Trump became President-Elect. I personally love the concept for this season because it means that I must now tactically tip-toe around every controversial political issue being alluded to during these episodes in order to please my diverse readership (the three of you and your cat). The easy way out is to talk about Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) simulating sex with his television screen after Trump’s victory. I hope you’re happy (I know you’re happy).

The first 5 minutes of the episode are spent in a back-and-forth montage of Kai and Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson)’s reactions to the election results from their respective households; Ally—and her wife Ivy (Alison Pill)—being of the far left persuasion and Kai being…blue haired and terrifyingly insane. Kai, who has an intense love of fear, is ecstatic about the win, while Ally is caught up doing something called “Cookie Breathing” and losing her head.

Cookie Breathing. Cookie Breathing.

Right off the bat, it’s obvious that the showrunners are trying their best to play off of the current ideological stereotypes in American politics; the sensitive liberal white feminist lesbian whose wife has a short boyish haircut (“this is television, [insert reader name here]! Lesbians don’t have long hair on television! Or at all!) and the manic, sociopathic alt-right person who wants to watch the world burn. And as I sit here, reaching for the last crumb in my box of discount-brand cheese crackers, I tell you the truth: I’m living for this. Let the satirical death match begin.

The fact that Kai, in celebration of Donald Trump’s triumph, smeared his face with crushed cheese puffs (FREAKING CHEESE PUFFS) as tribute to the Commander in Cheeto himself was enough to put me to bed (the same way that Ally and Ivy’s son is always being put to bed in every scene he’s in. Every single one). With his face draped in processed cheez snack, Kai confronts his sister Winter (Billie Lourd) who appears to be upset about the results, although willing to make a deal to terrorize the public with her brother by stirring up the already present post-election fear.

The episode continues with Ally’s many different run ins with clowns that nobody can see but her (aw shit! Here we go y’all! Another annoying horror trope! Let’s go son!), all of which are always having some sort of sex when she encounters them. Why? I have no idea. It appears the kinky clowns are all only a mental glitch of Ally’s until the end of the episode when her son spots a group of clowns murdering the next door neighbors (one of which didn’t get to the polls in time to vote). It’s also worth mentioning that this happens after Winter is hired as his new babysitter and attempts to numb his mind using the dark web.

Other things you might have missed but should still be thinking about are:

-Ally’s many triggers that have just now developed after the election.

-Ally voted for Jill Stein.

-Kai threatened one of the neighbors before his (the neighbor) death when he was at the town council meeting.

-Ally ran out of that grocery store almost as fast as I run away from a friend after they ask me to go to the gym with them.

-Kai is instigating racial tension and using it to his advantage. This sounds all too familiar and could get interesting.

Will this season live up to the best of AHS (meaning not last season or the season before that or before that or…)? That’s yet to be determined. Will I continue to watch and berate it for online attention? You bet your sweet ass.