Westworld Recap: 1×08 “Trace Decay”

Previously on Westworld: The man in the black hat was looking for a maze, with Teddy, who was looking for Dolores, who was looking for a place from her dreams, with William, the artist formerly known as Gallant. Theresa and Charlotte faked a problem with Clementine, which led to Bernard being fired; Maeve tried to force Lutz and Sylvester to help her escape; Bernard turned out to be a secret robot, and Ford had Bernard kill Theresa. Also—not that anyone cares about this—Elsie disappeared.

Ford brings Bernard online, down in the secret lab. Bernard is being quite emotive for Bernard, breathing heavily and crying softly. “What have I done?” he wails. Ford, rather cold-heartedly, says only that he thinks Bernard’s fake emotions are very impressive, since he was the author of many of them. The human engineers couldn’t create complicated emotions, so Ford built Bernard to do it. Bernard pleads that he loved Theresa, and Ford says that one man’s life or death was a small price to pay for the “knowledge that I sought, the dominion I should acquire.” Not that Theresa’s was a man’s life, but Ford is obviously not very interested in feminism. Bernard yells that he’s not going to help Ford, and he’s going to raze this place to the ground. It’s quite a change from his usual diminished affect. Ford, of course, freezes him just as he overturns his chair. “I don’t need a simulacrum of an emotionally ruined man,” he comments. He just wants Bernard to cover his own tracks. Bernard puts his glasses on and asks Ford calmly how he’d like him to proceed.

Continue reading →

The Best Gilmore Girls Episodes of All Time (Until the Revival [Maybe])

Cinnamon’s Wake (Season 1, Episode 5)

Nerdy Spice: This episode is a close second in my heart after “Love, Daisies and Troubadours.” The episode revolves around the death of a beloved neighborhood pet, Babette’s cat Cinnamon, so Stars Hollow quirk is on full display as everyone from Luke to Sookie helps out with the wake. But the real magic is in Rory and Dean’s budding romance. Rory couldn’t be cuter when she panics and yells to the bus driver that Dean needs to get off, because the bus is going to Hartford. “You’re forgetting something. Buses have stops,” he teases her as he leaves her in complete, rolling-eyes-at-self confusion. Then, when her shyness starts to seem like disinterest, it takes him promising to leave her alone before she finally works up the courage to announce that she is interested… and then panic and run away. Dean clearly thinks it’s adorable, and I agree. Continue reading →

Rory holds a cup of coffee.

Rory’s Boyfriends: The Patented Rory Gilmore Pro-Con List

By Nerdy Spice and Janes

It’s time, guys. We need to settle this question once and for all before the revival comes out tomorrow, so that we know who to root for: Dean? Jess? Logan? Only a Rory Gilmore-style pro-con list — weighted according to their importance so that this process remains extremely mathematical and objective — can tell us.

Continue reading →

Westworld Recap: 1×07 “Trompe L’Oeil”

Previously on Westworld: A tarot reader told Dolores to follow the maze, and she shot some people to rescue Gallant; she and Gallant hopped a train with El Lazo; Bernard found out that Ford was maintaining a creepy house full of hosts that were replicas of his childhood family; the board sent a representative to the park; Ford threatened Theresa; Elsie found out that Theresa was smuggling data out of the park, and found out that the hosts might be able to hurt humans; Maeve threatened Lutz and his obnoxious red-headed pal; and Elsie got abducted in a creepy old maintenance station in the park, after agreeing to meet Bernard in his office.

No one on the show seems to give a shit about the Elsie thing, by the way. I think that’s the funniest part of this episode, like, this woman has been kidnapped in the park after making plans to meet up with Bernard, and everyone basically forgets that she exists. This poor woman has probably had her life essence sucked out for one of Arnold’s crazy experiments, and literally no one cares! They’re probably relieved honestly… she’s sort of a pain in the neck.

Continue reading →

Westworld Recap: 1×06 “The Adversary”

In the wake of the US elections, I almost didn’t bother writing this recap. TV, art, and criticism seem too frivolous and ephemeral to be interesting when you’re living in a country that is in the throes of a spectacular crisis. But Westworld is a perfect example of why art still exerts a claim on our attention, even in the midst of catastrophe. It’s a show about people indulging their darkest impulses towards women, knowing there will be no consequences for doing so. What could be more relevant to confronting the reality of the new American president-elect?

With that—to the races.

Continue reading →

Rereading Watership Down In the Age of Terrorism and Trump

Someone once asked me, if I could force everyone on earth to read one book in order to make the world a better place, what book it would be. The answer was easy, and it’s only gotten easier with time: Watership Down, Richard Adams’ epic novel about bunny rabbits (seriously), the extravagantly tattered paperback I’ve read over and over since I was nine, following a group of rabbits as they travel to a new home and found a new society. It’s purportedly for children, though Adams makes no perceptible effort to simplify his prose for younger readers; and anyway, lately it seems like Americans could use a grade-school-level lesson in civic values. Suddenly so many of us seem willing to trade away long-standing principles of democracy in exchange for a false sense of security from terrorism, or from the imaginary Mexican rapists supposedly pouring over the border. Those principles are so interwoven in the fabric of our daily life that it’s easy to take them for granted; rereading Watership Down always reminds me what a struggle it is to shape a healthy society out of chaos.

Continue reading →

Westworld Recap: 1×05 “Contrapasso”

Previously on Westworld: Sex. Violence. Droids.

OK, fine, here’s what actually happened: Dolores was trying to find her place; there was a maze inside a dude’s scalp; there was a dude named Arnold who died in the park and believed the hosts could be conscious; a host smashed his own skull in in front of Elsie; a small-time crook promised Goofus and Gallant that they could get lots of money if they brought him back to his boss, El Lazo; Ed (the Man in Black) cut Teddy down from a tree instead of shooting him on sight, for once; and Maeve realized that she could get wounded and her body would magically repair itself, so she decided to make out with Hector, because, well, look at him. (Although she said it was because “none of this matters.”)

Continue reading →

A Running List of Clichés in Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Here I Am”

Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest, Here I Am, has received decidedly mixed reviews, and with good reason. While there are flashes of insight here and there, the struggles of the central family are fairly trite, and considering that Foer is regarded as one of the foremost literary novelists writing today, the prose is riddled with clichés. Here is the first installment of my running list documenting the most cringeworthy lines, from pretentious pontificating about the fact that “aloneness isn’t loneliness” (duh) to awkwardly sexist characterizations of teenage girls. Continue reading →

Links We Loved This Week — 11/4/16

Watch Pixar’s adorable short about a baby sandpiper learning to find food: Piper.

The Beauty and the Beast pictures out on EW this week are ridiculously exciting for us.

At LA Review of Books‘ blog Avidly, there is a great piece on why Madame Merle is appealing to contemporary feminism. (To be clear, we are still Team Archer, all the way.)

The cast of Girls performed Emily Doe’s powerful essay about sexual assault in honor of her Woman of the Year award: