“The Red Woman” – Recap and Review

Dany in Chains

Like half the world’s population, I couldn’t wait for April 24th to get here…because “Game of Thrones” would be back on the air.  I didn’t understand all the hoopla for the show until last summer.  I’ve always been in love with Jason Momoa, and when I learned that he played the sexy Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo in the first season of the show, it piqued my interest.  The second I started watching the first few episodes on HBO Go, I was hooked.  I watched seasons 1-5 in the span of three weeks, and I’ve been impatiently waiting for the season six premiere ever since…and now it’s here.  For my readers that haven’t watched “Game of Thrones,” I can’t give a backstory.  There’s too many stories and characters that are intricately weaved together and explaining what’s been happening for the last five seasons would take way too much time.  I highly suggest going back and watching the past seasons like I did.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  As for everyone else, let’s get to the recap!  By the way, this post contains SPOILERS!!

The Wall

Since “Game of Thrones” has so many characters in so many different places, I’ll recap region by region.  Basically, the new season picks up right where the old one left off.  We start with Jon Snow’s dead body lying on the ground.  Ghost is heard howling in the background, knowing his master is dead.  Apparently, Thorne, Olly and the others just left him there to rot.  Bitches.  Ser Davos hears Ghost howling and sees Jon outside.  He and Jon’s closest confidantes grab the body and take it inside, ready to wage war.  Thorne admits to the murder the next day, and even names his accomplices.  He proudly states that although he had no love for Jon, he always obeyed him when he was the Lord Commander, and he killed him because he put everyone at risk when he allowed the Wildlings to enter the Wall’s gates.  When those White Walkers come, you’ll realize you have more to be scared of than the Wildlings, idiot.  Olly stood nearby, looking proud of himself.  I couldn’t help but notice that he grew a little since the last season.  I hope puberty is truly awful for him.  Meanwhile, Ser Davos and Jon’s people stay holed up in that some room with Ghost as backup, getting ready for the fight that’ll soon be coming.  Davos mentions they can get further help “from others that owe their lives to Jon Snow.”  I can’t wait for these “others” to show up.  It’ll be on and poppin’!  More happens at the Wall, but I’ll speak more on that later.

The North – Winterfell

Ramsay is standing over Myranda’s dead body, waxing poetic about how he first met her and she wasn’t afraid of him…blah, blah, blah.  Last I checked, psychos weren’t scared of other psychos.  After he finishes his little eulogy, his maester asks if he wants to have a burial or a funeral pyre made for her.  His answer is, “This is good meat.  Feed it to the dogs.”  WTF?  Really?  That’s love right there.  He then meets up with his crazy ass dad, Roose Bolton, who tells him that if he doesn’t get Sansa back, they’ll lose rule of the North, and Ramsey will be disowned.  Ramsey deduces that his vicious hounds will catch up to Sansa and Theon in no time flat.

The story then cuts to Sansa and Theon running from Ramsey’s men.  They cross the river safely, but sure enough, the hounds sniff them out, just as Ramsey figured they would.  Theon tries to sacrifice himself by going out in the open to surrender, but the hounds soon find Sansa’s hiding place.  One of Ramsey’s men gloats and tells Theon, “I can’t wait to see what Ramsey cuts off you this time.”  Ramsey already cut off Theon’s dick.  What more can he take from him?  Just when I thought all was lost, Brienne and Podrick ride up and take Ramsey’s men out!  I know some of y’all out there talk crap about deus ex machina,  but I’m sure there’s not one fan out there that didn’t cheer when Brienne and Podrick came on the scene.  After killing the Insane Clown Posse, Brienne pledges to be Sansa’s protector once more, and this time (with a brief second of hesitation, I noticed), Sansa agrees.  Yay!

King’s Landing

Cersei and her new haircut are sitting in her bedroom when she hears that a boat from Dorne has arrived.  She jumps up to greet Myrcella, but her joy is short lived when she sees that Jaime is bringing a coffin home.  As much as I hate Cersei, I really felt bad for her in this scene.  She’s lost not one, but two children, and she’s realizing that the witch’s prophecy about her outliving all her kids is coming true.  What I really loved about this scene is how Cersei talks about how good Myrcella was, and how surprised she was that she could actually create something good and sweet.  Cersei knows she’s an awful person, but deep down, she may want to be good, and was actually happy that she had a child that was kindhearted.  Jaime comforts her and promises that their enemies will pay for all the hurt that they’ve caused.  My thing is this, why didn’t Jaime just turn the boat the around and go back to Dorne when he realized that Myrcella was poisoned?  The boat wasn’t far from shore, and Bronn (who was absent from this episode) knew what the poison was.  He could’ve killed Ellaria and her no good daughters right there and have been done with it.

Margery (who’ll always be Anne to me, thanks to her role in “The Tudors”; I loved that show!) is still in prison and still being harassed on a daily basis by that psychotic nun.  She demands to know how her brother is doing, but the nun refuses to tell her.  All she wants to hear is a confession.  Margery then tries to “demand” speaking with Loras because she’s the queen.  You think she’d learn by now that that doesn’t work.  Right before the nun is about to beat her ass with the bible, the High Sparrow walks in, apologizing for the nun’s awful behavior.  Margery asks him how Loras is, but he doesn’t tell her.  He asks her to confess too, just in a nicer way, so to speak.  Margery says she has nothing to confess, but the High Sparrow doesn’t believe her.

Meereen and Beyond

Tyrion and Varys walk around Meereen, surveying what’s going on with the city since Dany disappeared.  It’s pretty much gone to shit.  The streets are empty, save for the occasional starving mother or beggar.  Graffiti dissing Dany is sprayed all over the walls, there’s some folks that are following the “Lord of Light” religion in light of Dany leaving, and the Sons of the Harpy are still lurking around the city, awaiting their next move.  Some idiots set all the ships in the bay on fire, preventing anyone else from leaving the city.  Tyrion really has his work cut out for him, especially given the fact that he doesn’t speak the language that well.  There was a funny scene where he tries to give a woman money for her baby to eat, but he accidentally says that he wants to eat the baby.  Poor Tyrion.

In the meantime, Dany is still held captive by the Dothraki, and Daario Naharis and Jorah are still trying to rescue her.  They found the spot where she was taken, along with the ring she purposely left behind.  Once Jorah saw all the hoof tracks in the ground, he immediately knew it was a Dothraki hoard that captured her.  Drogon, on the other hand, is still MIA.  At the Dothraki camp, the fellas are talking about how they plan on raping her and this and that, not realizing that Dany speaks Dothraki fluently.  They take her to their Khal, who pretty much tells her the same nonsense.  He even goes so far as to say that he’ll impregnate Dany that very night.  What’s with these dudes and the rape culture?  Dany surprises them all when she tells them in Dothraki that they’re not doing a damn thing.  She goes on to let them know that she’s a former Khaleesi and was the wife of Khal Drogo.  That changes their tune, and the Khal lets her know that she’s no longer a captive and no one will touch her.  Dany tells them if they escort her back to Meereen, she’ll give them about a 1,000 horses.  The Khal’s nasty wives tell her that all widowed Khaleesi have to go to Vaes Dothrak to spend their lives.  Dany may not be a prisoner anymore, but she’s still not going anywhere any time soon.

Dorne

The second news of Myrcella’s murder comes to Dorne, nasty behind Ellaria Sand and her equally nasty daughters kill Prince Doran and his son because “weak men will no longer run Dorne.”  That’s it.  The deaths were brutal, naturally (especially Prince Doran’s son.  His death was just rude and wrong).  I can’t stand Ellaria or her daughters, and I can’t wait for them to get theirs.  They have the right name.  Sand Snakes.

Braavos

Poor Arya is now a blind beggar living on the streets.  That blonde heffa from the House of Black and White approaches her, and challenges her to a fight.  Arya refuses at first, saying that she can’t fight because she can’t see, but the blonde chick isn’t trying to hear that, and starts pounding away at Arya with a stick.  Arya picks up the other stick and tries to fight back, but seeing as how Arya isn’t used to using her other four senses to survive, she gets her ass handed to her.  The blonde chick walks away, saying that she’ll see Arya tomorrow.  I can’t help but wonder if this is the actual blonde chick, or if it’s actually Jaqen H’ghar in disguise.  These faceless assassins never are who they appear to be, and the real blonde chick didn’t seem to give a damn about Arya, no less be interested in teaching her how to fight while blind.

Back to the Wall!

Davos and the others are still holed up in that room with Ghost, and Jon’s still dead.  I was really hoping that Melisandre would bring him back to life by now.  Thorne and his flunkies knock on the door and let them know that if they surrender now, no harm will come to any of them.  But, if they don’t, a civil war will officially be declared and they’ll all die.  Davos tells Thorne he’ll give him an answer later.  Knowing they can’t trust Thorne, Davos suggests asking Melisandre for help.  The other men question the idea, but Davos lets them know that he’s seen what Melisandre can do.  For God’s sake, he watched this woman give birth to a demon baby!  Now here’s where it gets…weird…even by this show’s standards.  On second thought, I take that back.  The weirdest thing had to be the demon baby.  Anyway, Melisandre is kooked up in her room, moping.  Despite her prophecies and multiple human sacrifices (and giving birth to the spawn of Hell), Jon is dead, Stannis is possibly dead, and the Baratheon army has been decimated.  Instead of her making herself useful for a change and bringing Jon back to life like we all hoped, she strips in front of a mirror, looks at herself for a while and then removes the necklace she always wears.  She places the necklace on the nearby table and the reflection shown in the mirror is that of an old, naked woman.  And when I say this woman was old, I mean old.  Naked 90 year old Melisandre continues to mope, walks over to the bed and lies down.  Let’s hope she doesn’t die of old age before she can resurrect Jon.

Although there wasn’t as much action taking place in this episode, I still enjoyed it, and I have so many questions awaiting next week’s episode.  Can Tyrion rise to the challenge of governing Meereen?  Will Dany get away from the Dothraki Hoarde?  Will Daario and Jorah find her and help her escape?  Will Arya’s skills with her other senses improve each day?  When the hell will Ramsey and Ellaria die?  How old is Melisandre exactly?  Her boobs were down to her knees!  I will say that I was a bit disappointed at some aspects.  I was expecting to see a few episodes of Dany being reduced to a slave for the Dothraki and how she would handle being in that situation.  I wanted to see more of Sansa’s predicament (I really hope she’s not pregnant).  And speaking of Sansa, I still can’t believe she hesitated for a few seconds when Brienne pledged herself.  The woman just saved you!  What do you have to think about?  Then again, Littlefinger saved her life, then he turned right back around and sold her to Ramsay Bolton.  Now, that I think about it, after all the shit Sansa Stark has been through, she probably distrusts everyone at this point.  Back on subject, my biggest disappointment about this episode was basically…I wanted Jon not to be dead!  I get that those assholes stabbed him about fifteen times, but I really wanted Melisandre to bring him back.  Girl, get off your ancient droopy behind and get to work!

All in all, this episode was interesting, and I know that the best is yet to come.  I for one, can’t wait to see it.  I really hope that Jon comes back to life (and not as a White Walker)!

—Written by Nadiya

So, what did y’all think of “The Red Woman” episode?  Was the big reveal at the end a shocker?  I know I was surprised!  Give me your thoughts!

 

“Useful Occupations and Deceptions” – Recap and Review

Jamie and Murtagh

*Sigh*  Let’s just jump right into this.

So…the Frasers are still in Paris, but the couple isn’t having too much fun in the City of Light.  Jamie spends his days and nights rubbing elbows with Monsieur Duvernay and the crazy ass “Bonny” Prince Charles trying to bring down the Rebellion, whereas Claire spends her days and nights not doing a damn thing but sitting around the house and joining in the occasional card game with Louise de la Tour and timid Mary Hawkins.  Although Jamie’s life is busy, he hates what he’s doing, and Claire can’t stand being reduced to a socialite.  The only one having a blast is Murtagh, and that’s because he’s started participating in extracurricular activities with the maid.  Murtagh cracks me up this season!

To make matters worse for the Frasers, Jamie soon learns that the prince actually has an unknown financial backer to fund his war, and although Jamie previously convinced Monsieur Duvernay to talk the Prince out of the Rebellion, crazy ass Charles gave him an even sweeter deal:  an alliance between Britain and France in exchange for King Louis’ financial assistance.  If that’s not bad enough, Claire finally pieces together why Mary Hawkins’ name is so familiar to her…she’s Frank’s great-great grandmother, soon to be married to none other than Black Jack Randall (who’s still alive, by the way.  Evil never dies).  Claire realizes that Black Jack can’t be killed, because if he is, Frank will cease to exist.  If you wanna get even deeper than that, if Frank vanishes from existence, Claire will also vanish from the 1700’s, since she’ll never have a reason to go to Scotland on her second honeymoon and visit the stones of Craigh Na Dun.  I know, I just gave y’all a serious nerd moment.

Claire lets Murtagh know that Black Jack is still alive (naturally, she leaves out the second part about killing him and destroying the space-time continuum as they know it), and Murtagh advises that she not tell Jamie, as it will take his mind off what they’re doing and have him only focused on revenge.  In the meantime, Claire decides to do more while she’s in France.  Thanks to her apothecary buddy (whose name I still can’t remember!), she learns that the charity hospital in town is always looking for volunteers, and the services of a healer would be much appreciated.  Claire jumps on the opportunity and quickly finds herself in her element.  She diagnoses patients, tends to wounds, she even tasted some urine to deduce what was ailing a sick woman (yes, you read that right.  She tasted pee).  Jamie wasn’t too happy to hear about Claire becoming Florence Nightingale.  Not only was she not home when he needed her to be, but he believes being around all those sick people (and tasting their pee) will hurt the baby.  They get into a big argument—even Murtagh gets in trouble for taking her down there (Murtagh’s reaction had me rollin’!)—and Jamie storms out the house.  Booooooo.

While Jamie’s drowning his sorrows in a nearby tavern, he encounters a young pickpocket ripping all the patrons off (he even managed to steal Jamie’s beloved snake sculpture a few nights earlier.  You have to watch the first season to learn the significance of that wooden figurine).  Jamie chases him down and puts the kid in his employ, having him steal letters from crazy ass Charles so he and Murtagh can decipher the coded messages.  He pretty much adopts the kid.  Jamie moves him into their house and renames him “Fergus” because his real name “wasn’t manly enough.”  Claire isn’t too keen on the new living situation, but she praises Jamie for his idea.  That’s about all she’s willing to say to him though, considering they’re not exactly on speaking terms.

For the next few days, Fergus steals letters for Jamie, who in turn attempts to crack the codes with Murtagh.  Claire continues her work at the charity hospital.  One day, Fergus retrieves a letter that is actually a musical composition.  Jamie correctly deduces that it’s actually a coded message, so he begrudgingly visits Claire at the hospital to have her boss, Mother Hildegarde, decipher the meaning.  The sheet music is a German composition, and since Mother Hildegarde is indeed German, Jamie figures she’s the best lady for the job.  She notes (no pun intended) that the piece is taken from one of Bach’s works (and she knows Bach personally!) but the key is constantly changing.  Later that night, Jamie and Claire figure out that the key changes are what’s needed to decode the actual letter.  They soon learn it’s a message from the Duke of Sandringham himself, stating that he’s gathered all the funds they need.  Jamie is happier than he’s been in weeks, and he breaks out the good alcohol to celebrate.  Little does he realize, the second he meets up with the Duke, he’ll learn that Black Jack is actually alive (remember Black Jack’s baby bro works for the Duke).  Murtagh begs Claire to tell Jamie, but she remains tight lipped, not wanting to spoil Jamie’s moment in the sun.  DUN-DUN-DUUUUUNNNNNN!

I have to say, this episode was dull as dishwater.  I’m ready for the Frasers to return to their beloved Scotland, because France isn’t delivering the goods like I thought it would.  Nothing exciting is happening.  I can see why Claire and Jamie are dissatisfied with their new lives; their new lives are beginning to dissatisfy us!  All they have are conversations over games of chess, conversations in brothels, conversations at parties…long, boring drawn out conversations.  “Madame Secretary” brings more fire than this season of “Outlander,” and that’s an actual political drama.  I want the heat, drama and romance as well as the political aspects to come back.  Claire working in the hospital gave a small taste of what we’ve come to love about the show, but it’s still a pale version of what the series once was.  Then, when there’s an opportunity for something interesting to happen, it’s over all too soon!  TFF made an appearance this week (to learn what that means, see my last week’s “Outlander” review), but it lasted all of five seconds, and hardly any words were exchanged between him and Claire.  I will say that the apothecary seemed a bit chummy with TFF, although he let it be known last week that he considers the Comte an enemy as well.  Claire called him on it, and I hope we get more insight into their relationship as well as the Comte’s conflict with the Frasers.  Next week, Claire and Jamie host a huge dinner with Monsieur Duvernay and the Duke of Sandringham in attendance, which I’m sure will bring about more boring political mumbo jumbo, but Jamie apparently gets pissed off and starts whuppin’ someone’s ass halfway through the episode.  My mom was psyched to see a fight actually break out, and to honest, so am I.  I’m ready to kill to see some real action and excitement happen this season.  Step it up, y’all.  Bring back the “Outlander” that made us all fans in the first place.

—Written by Nadiya

So what did y’all think about “Useful Occupations and Deceptions”?  Did it have you biting your fingernails or was it so boring you could hear your hair grow?  Give me your thoughts, please!

 

Prince: 1958 – 2016

Prince 4

Anyone that’s ever known me personally for the last 20+ years, knows how much I loved Prince during my early teenage years.  I pretty much grew up on Prince, and he was always a constant in my life, but when I was 12 years old, my mother bought The Hits 1 and The Hits 2.  My mother had loved Prince ever since she was in college (they’re only a year apart in age, actually), so she listened to The Hits 1 constantly for the next few weeks whenever she came to pick me up from school (she bought The Hits 1 as a cassette, and The Hits 2 as a CD…and the car only had a cassette tape player.  We could only listen to CD’s in the house.  #90sIssues).  One day, while playing The Hits 2 on my mom’s stereo, I listened to “Raspberry Beret.”  Although I didn’t quite get the lyrics—I think I was in high school when I finally realized it was about a young man losing his virginity—I fell in love with the song, and with the man singing it.  Later that week, I sat up one evening and listened to the entire Hits 2 CD and heard classics like “Sexy MF,” “Do Me, Baby” and “If I Was Your Girlfriend” for the first time.  My life changed that night.

Prince became my world.  All I could talk about, or even listen to was him, much to the annoyance of my friends and family.  I watched Purple Rain every chance I got.  Unfortunately, I had to compete with my grandmother’s obsession with the OJ Simpson trial (only one VCR in the house back then and it was in the living room…#90sIssues), but I still managed to get my daily fix of the movie.  To this day, I can still quote most of the lines.  I even managed to get on my mother’s nerves with my infatuation.  By the time summer rolled around, she made it a rule to listen to R. Kelly’s 12 Play album in the car instead of The Hits 1 (which I’m also grateful for in hindsight, but that’s another discussion).  That was okay, though…because I started bringing my walkman with me on trips, and Prince’s music was always in rotation.  When I graduated from junior high to high school, and from walkmans to discmans, I made sure that my Prince CD’s went everywhere I went, whether it was a band competition or a trip to the closest mall.  As a matter of fact, the first album I ever purchased in life was Prince’s Come CD.  It may not have been his best work, but I loved it.

Prince opened my mind up to things that I never really thought about.  A lot of his songs had deep messages concerning politics, religion and even incest, like “Annie Christian,” “Controversy” and “Sister.”  Then there was Prince’s favorite subject for the majority of his songs:  sex.  My mother didn’t really need to have the whole birds and bees conversation with me, because Prince basically taught me just about everything about sex.  Thanks to tracks like “Jack U Off,” “Orgasm” and “Head” (learning the meaning of “Head” was a particularly memorable experience), I was damn near an expert on what goes on in the bedroom…although I wasn’t actually doing any of it.

As time went on and I became older, my infatuation for Prince lessened, as it sometimes tended to do with my early fantasy men (I wanted to marry Prince at one point in time.  I couldn’t stand Mayte for a while).  However, I never stopped loving Prince or his music, and he always kept a place in my heart.  After the clock struck 12:00 AM on New Year’s 1999, the first thing I did was run to my bedroom and play the eponymous track.  Back in 2004, I made it my business to buy the Musicology album, and between spring and summer, I listened to it every day going to work and coming back home.  When I finally upgraded from a CD player to my beloved IPod, I dedicated an entire playlist to Prince.  To date, I have about 65 of his songs on my IPod, which makes him the second most featured artist on the MP3 player.  The first, of course, is David Bowie.  When Prince played at the Essence Music Festival in 2014, I wanted to go so badly, but financial restraints kept me from making the trip.  I wish I had gone.  I wish I could’ve seen or met Prince at least once.

I still can’t believe he’s gone.  I can’t even imagine a world without him.  He was such a beautiful man, and I don’t mean just in terms of looks…although he was a pretty damn good looking man, too.  He was 57 years old and barely looked a day over 30!  But seriously, I mean that Prince was beautiful with his immense talent.  The man could sing, dance, write his own songs and played up to 16 instruments.  He was beautiful with his creativity and his work ethic.  Prince has so many unreleased albums, it’s ridiculous.  For any of my readers that live near Columbia, SC or Charlotte, NC, I highly suggest you visit the local Manifest Discs & Tapes aka the best record store chain on Earth.  The selection of Prince imports will astound you.  I used to be in hog heaven just staring at the unreleased CD’s all day.  One of the greatest things about Prince was that he was fearless.  He did what he wanted to do, the way he wanted to do it, no matter what anyone else said or thought.  My mom always loves to say that she loved Prince back when it was unpopular to do so.  Hell, circa 1994, being a Prince fan didn’t win me a ton of popularity amongst my junior high classmates due to the fact that a lot of people didn’t get him.  I believe Prince liked it that way.  He wanted to remain enigmatic to keep people guessing, and he succeeded.  Throughout his career, he didn’t really put himself out there to the media until very recently, and even then, you’d only see or hear from him on rare occasions.

So whether you loved him for his music, his movies, his dance moves, his fashion or his flamboyancy; whether you knew him as little Prince Rogers Nelson that grew up down the street, Jamie Starr, Alexander Nevermind, Camille, the Purple One, His Royal Badness, or that damn unpronounceable symbol that I never liked (sorry, y’all), honor him.  Love him or hate him, you have to admit that he was a genius; a mastermind that brought joy and beauty to people for nearly 40 years.  Thank you, Prince.  Thank you for your life and your talent.  Thank you giving us the gift of your music.  Thank you for making our lives just a little bit brighter with your presence.  Thank you for providing a girl from South Carolina so many wonderful memories.  Thank you for being you.  I love you.

Prince Rogers Nelson:  June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016

—Written by Nadiya

“Not In Scotland Anymore” – Recap and Review

Claire and Jamie

What’s up, y’all?  For those of you that don’t know, I’m a HUGE fan of the “Outlander” TV series.  My mom became addicted to the show first, and I decided to give it a chance when I logged onto to my VUDU account one faithful night and saw that they were giving away the first episode of the first season for free.  I’ve been hooked ever since.  Very briefly, for the folks that have never heard of the show, it tells the adventures of a woman named Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?), who travels back in time to the 1740’s and ends up meeting Jamie Fraser, a super hot Scotsman.  Claire eventually marries and falls helplessly in love with Jamie (in that order).  The only thing is, back in the 1940’s (her original time period), she’s already married to a sweet, yet slightly dull British professor named Frank Randall.  Intrigued?  That’s just the tip of the iceberg!  I highly suggest y’all go back and watch the first season.  Good stuff.

For my readers that are fans of the show, let’s get into this recap!  By the way, I’m sorry I never posted anything about the season premiere.  Life got in the way, as it sometimes does, and before I knew it, it was time for the next episode to air.  I promise to be more diligent with my recaps and reviews for the rest of the season.  Scout’s honor.  Anyway, this past episode starts off a few weeks after Claire and Jamie arrived in France and began making new enemies.  We learned that they were in Paris to stop the Jacobite Rebellion, which would in turn would prevent the Battle of Culloden…but they failed.  Now that we know what happened, we have to find out why and how it happened.  We finally get some clues in this episode.

At the beginning of the show, something happens that nearly everyone’s been beggin’ to see…sex!  Well, sort of.  Jamie has a dream that he and Claire are making love, and Claire is soon replaced by none other than Black Jack Randall.  For those that don’t know, Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall is Frank’s ancestor and the two of them look exactly alike, which causes a dilemma for Claire at times.  Black Jack is also Jamie’s captor/torturer/rapist.  Once again, you have to see season one.  It’s intense.  Anyway, Jamie naturally goes straight HAM and starts stabbing Black Jack with his dagger, only to see Jack’s evil behind survive the attack.  Poor Jamie wakes up in a cold sweat and refuses to go back to sleep.  Claire tries to reassure Jamie that Randall’s dead, but it doesn’t do much to ease his mind.

In the days that follow, Claire and Jamie try to acclimate themselves in a new country.  Claire makes some new friends:  the hilarious Louise de la Tour, who reveals that waxing was around in the 1700’s (including bikini waxing…ouch!), the timid Mary Hawkins, a guest at Louise’s house who will be a very important part of the series, and a charming apothecary, whose name I can’t remember.  I’m glad to see she’s not pissing off everyone she comes in contact with.  Last week, she got on the bad side of a nefarious man known as Le Comte de Saint Germain, or as I like to call him, That French Fucker.  Murtagh, on the other hand, can’t wait to leave France, and had some interesting observations about Paris and the people there.  When he said the city smelled like a toilet, I lost my shit (no pun intended).

Jamie’s cousin soon hooks him up with an invitation to meet Prince Charles Stuart aka The Bonny Prince, who is the leader of the Jacobite Rebellion.  Jamie and Murtagh take the opportunity to try to talk the prince out of rebelling, but the prince is, for lack of a better word, dumb.  He claims to listen to no one but God—never mind the fact that God pretty much sent two messengers to talk some sense into his dumb ass—and wants to go ahead with the rebellion.  However, he needs funds to do it, and wants the French Minister of Finance to do help him.  He asks Jamie to be the liaison between the two men.  By the way, “bonny” means “pretty” in Scottish, right?  The prince is pretty strange looking, in my opinion.  Also, I learned something else in this scene…dildos were around in the 1700’s, too.  Mind blown.

Since Jamie is tasked with asking the Minister of Finance for funds, he and Claire decide to meet him at the French Court in Versailles to actually talk him out of it.  Thanks to Louise, they had the necessary invitation to go up there.  This leads up to the scene we’ve all been waiting for…Claire in the red dress (I’ll save my commentary on the dress for later).  The final scene at the French Court was hands down the best one of the episode.  So much went down in those final 15-20 minutes.  Jamie bumped into his ex-girlfriend, and he got to witness King Louis XV attempting to take a crap.  Jamie even gave him some tips to ease his constipation (I swear I’m not making this up.  Murtagh had some hilarious commentary on that as well.  Murtagh is my boy!  I liked him in season one, but I’m lovin’ him this season!).  Monsieur Duvernay, the Minister of Finance, eventually met up with Claire, but not before he tried to hit on her and Jamie promptly pushed him into a nearby lake.  Thankfully for them, Monsieur Duvernay admitted his behavior was out of line and he apologized, opting to meet Jamie later for a game of chess.  Then, the king (still constipated and walking funny to boot) made an appearance at the gala with his mistress…who was wearing a dress with her breasts completely exposed, save some swans glued near the nipples (once again, I’m not making this up).  Murtagh’s reaction to the king’s mistress was priceless.  He actually liked seeing that.

Last, but definitely not least, the Frasers learned that the Duke of Sandringham was in town, still causing trouble.  Last season, the Duke promised to help Jamie clear his name by denouncing Black Jack’s false accusations and bringing his deplorable treatment of the Scottish people to light.  Instead, the Duke betrayed Jamie by runnin’ his mouth to Black Jack about the document he was supposed to send to the British officials and even going so far as to give him the damn paper.  Jack destroyed it, of course.  Claire and Murtagh made it clear they had no use for the Duke—hell, Murtagh wanted to kill him right there in the palace—but Jamie was willing to let bygones be bygones.  I’m guessing that Jamie sees that the Duke is too powerful of a man to have as an enemy.  Despite the fact that he and Jamie seemed to be on decent terms, the fool took great pleasure in introducing Claire to Alexander Randall, his new cleric.  What’s so special about that, you ask?  Alexander Randall is no other than Black Jack Randall’s baby bro.  Not only that, baby bro revealed that Black Jack is actually alive and well.  DUN-DUN-DUUNNNNNN!  Then to add insult to injury, the Duke had the nerve to smirk in Claire’s face after that revelation.  Punk ass.  Now Claire is debating whether or not she should even tell Jamie the news (he wasn’t in the room when this little tidbit of information came out).  DUN-DUN-DUUNNNNNN!

In my opinion, this episode was better than last week’s, but there still wasn’t enough excitement to keep me on the edge of my seat.  Political matters in the Scottish highlands had me glued to the TV last season.  Political matters in France  aren’t really tickling my fancy this go around.  As a matter of fact, they’re a bit ho-hum.  I was hoping That French Fucker (or TFF, for short) would make an appearance again, seeing as he was the saving grace in last week’s episode, but alas, he was a no-show.  The Duke coming back was a welcome sight, though.  I’m beggin’ for either Claire or Jamie to give him a much deserved ass whuppin’.  I’m ready for this season to pick up.  After the brilliance of the first season, season two has some big shoes to fill.  However, we’re only two episodes in, so I’m still holding out hope.  I will say this though, folks really need to be more patient about the sex scenes.  In nearly every article I’ve read, all I’ve seen is, “Where’s the sex?” or “There were no love scenes in the episode!”  Yes, the love scenes were one of the many things that had us all hooked on the show, but you have to remember that Jamie is still recovering from being brutally raped and tortured.  It’s gonna take a while for him to recover, and one of the things I liked about this episode is that it showed that Jamie has a long way to go in the healing process.  Hell, I’m surprised he’s doing as well as he is.  By the way, it was cute to see Jamie’s reaction to Claire getting her bikini line waxed, “Yer honeypot…it’s bare!”

Finally…my thoughts on Claire’s dress.  I liked it, but there were two things that bothered me about it.  One, the bottom front was too high.  I read that some French women wore their skirts high so their ankles could be revealed.  It was considered “scandalous” back in the 1700’s.  Be that as it may, on an elegant 18th century dress, it just looks wrong.  Also, I’ve noticed that the French couture styles all have extra padding in the hips, and Claire’s dress was no exception.  Yeah…that didn’t look right.  Other than those two things, the dress was fire.  The plunging neckline, the color, the shoes (I REALLY loved the shoes!)…hot to death.  If the skirt was lower and the hips weren’t padded wide enough to rival a school bus, that dress would’ve been flawless.

Can’t wait for next week’s episode!

—Written by Nadiya

So what did y’all think about “Not In Scotland Anymore”?  Is the season picking up or is it dull as dishwater?  Once again, I wanna hear your thoughts!

UPDATE: Freda Comes Closer to Finding Her Father’s Killer

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Okay…that title is misleading.  Very misleading.  I just thought it sounded cool.  In truth, Freda hasn’t come closer to figuring out who killed her father.  As a matter of fact, that child is completely clueless.  However…(SPOILER ALERT!!!) Cookie recently learned who Freda’s dad was, and it’s now becoming an actual conflict on the show.  Gone are the days when Freda and Lucious would be in the studio together lost in their pseudo father-daughter type bond and the very mention—or even hint—of Frank Gathers or the fact that Lucious had him murdered would fail to come up.  Now, Cookie no longer wants Freda around her sons, judging that once she puts two and two together about her father and Lucious, her wrath may be incurred on them in retaliation.  That presents a problem within itself, seeing as Hakeem and Jamal are now working on a song with Freda.

In my previous post, I mentioned that “Empire” has been guilty of missed opportunities as of late, and I hoped that Freda eventually learning that Lucious killed her father wouldn’t be one of them.  After last night’s episode aired, I see that this is one opportunity that the writers may take advantage of, and I’m all for it!  Let’s hope that this tension is stretched out for a while to make the characters, as well as the audience, feel the pressure.  Lucious made a bad situation worse by going after his murdered enemy’s daughter for a paycheck, now let’s see how he handles things when he meal ticket turns on him in the worst way possible.

Man, I can’t wait for that!  Don’t disappoint me.

—-Written by Nadiya

“Empire” Ain’t What It Used to Be

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From the time the very first episode aired, I have been hooked on “Empire.”  The first season was so mesmerizing.  A crooked music mogul, an ex-wife looking for her fair share of the dynasty she helped create, all kinds of family and business drama going on within the home as well as the company—what was not to love?  One of the things I really enjoyed about “Empire” is that it was so reminiscent of The Lion in Winter.

In The Lion in Winter, King Henry II has an empire to protect, and is tasked with passing it on to one of his three sons once he leaves this mortal coil, just like Lucious Lyon.  His youngest son, John, was the favorite, but he was extremely spoiled and undisciplined, and was in no way fit to run the kingdom.  We all know that description fits Hakeem.  His oldest son, Richard the Lionheart, was clearly the best man for the job.  However, Henry disliked him because Richard was not only close to his mother Eleanor (more on her later), but he was also a homosexual.  The only difference between Richard and Jamal is that Jamal is not the oldest child in the TV series.  Then, there was the middle son, Geoffrey.  Geoffrey was smart as a whip and cunning…and his dad barely noticed him.  That of course, is Andre.  Last but not least, is Eleanor, Henry’s estranged wife.  Eleanor spent the last few years locked away in a dungeon and has come back to raise hell and let her presence be known…and to say she does it effectively would be an understatement.  Eleanor plots against Henry constantly, but it’s clear she’s still in love with him, just as he is with her.  She hates his new mistress, and although she’s not crazy about how her sons have turned out, she lets it be known that she loves them and wants the best for them as well.  If I have tell you who represents Eleanor on the show, you’re clearly not a fan.

It was so cool to see a medieval story converted to a contemporary drama.  More so than that, as an African-American woman, it was even better to see a series with black people that was so compelling and smartly written.  To top it all off, the music was slammin’!  I have so many songs from the series on my IPod, it’s not even funny.  Then, something happened.  “Empire” seemed to lose its way.

It started around last year’s season finale, and ever since then, “Empire” hasn’t quite found its groove again.  Lately, I find myself getting more psyched to see “Underground” on Wednesdays than “Empire” (if y’all haven’t seen “Underground” yet, I highly recommend you watch it.  Wednesday nights at 10:00 PM EST on WGN, baby).  Why, you ask?  Well, let me break it down a bit for you.

The Villains Aren’t Real Threats

When the second season first started, the first villain we were introduced to was Chris Rock’s character, Frank Gathers.  Frank was supposed to be the Voldemort of street crime, so I really intrigued to see how Chris would play this out.  Sadly, the brother barely lasted two episodes before Lucious took him out.  Next, Ludacris came on the scene as a dirty correctional officer taking orders from the equally dirty DA, Roxanne Ford (played by Tyra Ferrell, aka Ricky and Doughboy’s mama.  I love Boyz ‘N the Hood!).  When Lucious learned he was a threat, Luda didn’t last one episode.  Once again, I wanted to see what would unfold between these two, and I was cheated (although interestingly enough, this is the third time Ludacris has gone toe-to-toe with Terrance Howard and lost; see Crash and Hustle and Flow).  It’s been happening with all the antagonists this season.  Before we really have a chance to see these villains shine, they’re taken off the show.  On the last episode (SPOILER ALERT!!), Camilla (Naomi Campbell) killed her lovely wife Mimi (Marisa Tomei), and Lucious miraculously managed to record the murder.  After letting her know that he would bring his evidence to the police, he gave Camilla the option to kill herself…and she took it.  Camilla just took over Empire, and once again, we didn’t have the chance to see her play the game of cat and mouse with the Lyon family as we hoped.

Missed Opportunities

Earlier this season, Hakeem was kidnapped, and the previews led me to believe that the following episode would show Lucious and Cookie release their rage on everyone in the city to find him.  Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for the next week to come!  Instead, Hakeem was locked away for the first 5-7 minutes of the show, released, had unprotected sex with Anika (big mistake), and went through an extremely brief period of PTSD because when he was taken, “he didn’t do anything.”  Yeah.  That could’ve been handled better.  Another example is the show’s treatment of the Roxanne Ford situation.  When she found Vernon’s rotten corpse in her car, that was end of her campaign to bring Lucious down (which goes back to my first point).  I don’t know why it wasn’t further explored that Vernon was killed by a blow to the back of the head.  She could’ve easily had Lucious brought up on murder charges (although Rhonda is the guilty one).  That would’ve been really interesting to watch.  Another great plot point would be Freda Gatz finally learning that her mentor (Lucious) was the one that killed her father (Frank Gathers).  I’m hoping that opportunity doesn’t slip by.

Some Storylines Are Just…Unbelievable

Hakeem is a stud and not one, not two, but three women are in love with him!?  Then, two out of the three aren’t even his age!  Don’t get me wrong, Hakeem is cute and all, and I can suspend my disbelief with the best of them, but I seriously doubt a 19 year old would have a 40-something and a 30-something’s nose that wide open, especially a 19 year old that’s as immature as Hakeem.  True, he’s improved since the first season, but he still has a long way to go.  And I’m sorry, I’ll probably be bashed for this, but I didn’t buy Jamal’s hookup with Skye (Alicia Keys).  Yes, they made a cute couple and I get the whole “sexuality is fluid” argument, but Jamal had no interest in women before!  His forced marriage to Raven Symoné’s character ended in complete disaster.  Yeah, he was intimate with her once, but I’m sure that was to placate Lucious, who we all know is the poster child of homophobia.  Now, out of the blue, he’s drawn to Skye and sleeps with her?  Nah.  Lastly, there’s Rhonda’s attack.  I know that the writers are trying to keep us all in suspense as to who actually pushed her down the stairs (my money’s still on Anika), but no matter who the actual culprit is, who the hell would commit assault wearing Louboutins?  Wouldn’t sneakers be a bit more appropriate?  It’s hard to run in dress shoes, and that includes flats (I don’t know about y’all, but flats kill my feet)!

Rapid Fire Drama

Lucious is in jail, then he’s not.  Jamal is CEO, then he steps down.  Lucious takes over, but he loses the company to Hakeem.  Now Lyon Dynasty (originally Cookie and Hakeem’s company) has merged with Empire.  Then, if that’s not enough, the gays feel betrayed by Jamal, Andre is relapsing into another mental break, Anika’s pregnant (and scheming), Hakeem is betraying Camilla while bedding Laura (and planning on bedding some other hootchie mamas later, apparently), and now a war’s starting to erupt between Lucious and Jamal thanks to Big Daddy runnin’ his mouth about what happened with Skye.  Great day, that’s a lot.  Y’all, the concept of having too much of a good thing actually does exist.  When too much happens too quickly and it’s not really fluid and just thrown at you, it just feels like excess.  Think of it like this:  if you sit down to have one bowl of ice cream, that’s a great treat.  But if you eat the entire quart or gallon of ice cream in one sitting, you’re going to have some messy results.

Despite all these points I’ve made, “Empire” still remains among one of my favorite shows.  It’s still entertaining, but now that the initial storyline has been all but forgotten, it’s not the edge-of-your-seat show it once was.  I’m not the only person that’s noticed.  According to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, the series hit a ratings low in November of last year.  So is “Empire” a one trick pony?  My answer is no.  It was brilliant once, and I’m certain it can be brilliant again.  Hey, even the late great David Bowie had to put his nose back to the grind and re-calibrate his focus once or twice.

—-Written by Nadiya

So what do y’all think about “Empire”?  Do you think it’s lost something or do you believe it’s still the same great show it always was?  Did you agree with anything in my long winded post (sorry, y’all.  I’m wordy)?  Please discuss and let me know!  I welcome all comments!  Thanks!