Sunday, November 27, 2022

Survivor S43E10: Get That Money, Baby


Survivor shows us an unlikely victory and an inevitable fall.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The latest episode of Survivor is called “Get That Money, Baby” after Jesse’s quote from the letter from his kid -- he repeats it twice at the tribal council to explain his vote, which ought to have been a warning sign. The final voting total had Noelle voting for Sami while Sami and Owen voted for Karla -- the rest (Cassidy, Gabler, Karla, Jesse, Cody) targeted Noelle, leaving both Sami and Owen in the dark.

This is a first for Sami, who has always been on the right side of the votes until now -- and sadly a typical situation for Owen. Both were mentioned as potential targets this episode too -- obviously Noelle voted for Sami but it was noted by Gabler too that Sami is a flipper. Cassidy brings up Owen as a potential target, and Gabler notes that by voting against Noelle he’d be burning those two. It’s not particularly looking great for either of those now, but Sami has certainly proved himself capable before.

Noelle showed herself as an absolutely inspirational challenge warrior with her astounding come-from-behind reward challenge win -- and it’s not even the first time she’s been impressive this season. But as Jesse notes, she’s also been pretty good socially, able to survive many dire situations so far. With her idea last episode to trick James, she’s pretty good strategically too -- but she got voted out mainly because someone really wanted her out and was smart enough to pull it off.

The episode got pretty cute by following along with Jesse’s blindside checklist, which was a fairly well thought three point plan of (1) Have a Cover Story, (2) Throw the Fall Guy Under the Bus -- Sami, (3) Have a Backup Plan -- Gabler. Sami being the fall guy made him a target from Noelle and she identified Owen as too close an ally to him to bother with her blindside plan against Sami.

It’s interesting how Jesse was able to identify how he was emotionally biased by Noelle giving him the letters from home, he’s certainly a capable player -- but did he accidentally misread things with Gabler? Gabler very savvily realizes that Jesse is highly strategic, and with a classic ironic juxtaposition after Cody and Jesse cheer their steering the ship, tells Karla that something needs to be done about that dangerous duo.


It was a good potential misdirect that maybe they’d suddenly blindside Jesse or Cody, but instead I suppose they’re waiting for later. You could see on Karla’s face that perhaps she was deciding in the last minute whether or not to play her idol -- she correctly saves it for later, but the episode did a good enough job at the misdirects that it wasn’t 100% clear on what exactly what was going to happen in the final moments.

I’m a little bummed to see Noelle voted out, but then again, there’s a lot of great players left I’d feel bad about too -- this episode was actually pretty fun and had some interesting editing choices. The show has been playing with the text on screen stuff a bit more, which I approve of -- you need to keep things interesting or the show gets stale.

It’s a lot of big personalities left and still some game left to play -- we’ve got that emotional part done so everyone is more likely than ever to start betraying each other.

Next time on Survivor, Gabler is hiding in plain sight, there’s mail, and a race to win.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Titans S04E04: Super Super Mart

© HBO Max

Mother Mayhem's origin is revealed.
by Chuck Duncan

Let's Talk About 'Super Super Mart':

  • We meet May in 1996 and see that she already has powers.
  • A man from The Organization invites May to join them.
  • The Titans aren't quite sure what to do with Sebastian or Jinx.
  • In 1997, May and her friend at The Organization, Gina, are invited to meet 'Him', aka Trigon.
  • The Titans return to the site of The Asylum and are surprised to find another building in its place.
  • Rachel and Sebastian are shocked to learn they are more connected than anyone thought.
  • An old foe makes a surprise appearance.
  • Conner is surprised to find out he can bleed.

It was a very busy, action-packed episode of Titans this week that gave us a lot of Mother Mayhem's backstory and has us wondering if the 'Big Bad' vanquished so anticlimactically at the start of Season 2 will be making another appearance (and if so, hopefully they've been able to smooth out the janky movements of that original CGI character).

What this episode serves to do is give us the backstory for Mother Mayhem, or May as she's known back in 1996 when her story starts, working an office job, using her powers to revive a dead plant and fix a copy machine. But she's a woman so she's expected to do someone else's work while he gets all the credit. The guy is a total coked up asshole (he tells her it's just dry skin on his nose and to mind her own business) and when he starts talking shit about her to the boss, she makes sure none of that happens again. From the sound of things, she used her powers to make the guy throw himself out of a window. We don't see it but the sounds and the sight of her concentrating intensely are all we need to picture the 'mayhem' taking place behind that closed door.

Apparently May is fired -- she has an impressive string of firings behind her -- and as she enjoys a drink at a local bar a man approaches her, and he seems to know a lot more about her than he should. He never introduces himself, just hands her a card with The Organization on the front of it. He's got some pitch for her, telling her she's special and they could use someone like her and if she's interested all she has to do is say the three words on the back of the card: Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos. She does but nothing seems to happen, but the mystery man seems pleased.

Her story jumps ahead to 1997 where she has joined The Organization, which seems more like a cult with everyone in a 'uniform' of beige overalls and white turtlenecks. The unnamed man, by the way, is Dr. Adamson (Reed Birney), who we last saw in Season 1's seventh episode 'Asylum' (which, looking back, I didn't even write about because I was so bored by it, and ironically most of the plot of this week's episode directly references the events of that episode!). You might need a refresher of that episode after watching this one. The man makes no bones about who May, Gina and the others are serving -- it's Trigon (he even refers to the flavor of the strawberries they're growing in the greenhouse as 'Trigonic'). For some reason 'He' has taken an interest in May and Gina and wants to meet them face-to-face with the promise of showing them their capabilities. May pipes up that she's in and tells Gina to come with her and she will take care of her.

A month later a group of women at The Asylum are blindfolded, holding hands standing in a circle with their backs to a large hole in the ground. Adamson is trying to get one or more of them to basically do a 'trust fall' into the hole as a sign of their conviction for the honor of 'His' impossible love. Let him catch them. May and Gina take the plunge but from the look of it, they just hit the bottom and then have to climb out of the hole on a rickety ladder. Gina is first but she begins to freak out. May calms her, but Gina was playing, kicking May off the ladder. Gina then finds herself prepared to wed her master but a pretty badly beaten May shows up, impressing Adamson to the point that he says they can both be 'His' brides ... but May had heart, and he presents her with a goblet from 'Him'. She takes a drink, is overcome and drops it, spilling what looks like blood across the floor, then looks up and smiles saying, 'He's here.'

Jumping ahead again to 1998, May is pregnant but when she gives birth there is one little problem -- she has a boy and 'He' expected a girl as it was prophesied. The doctor orders her muzzled, and 18 years later May is in a large cell, chained to the floor, holding something as if it were a baby. A man comes in and has the muzzle removed. She tells the man she has nothing but love in her heart so he doesn't have to worry about her doing anything crazy. She says it's love for her son, he's her strength, but the man tells her that her love wasn't enough to make the prophet. She spits at him that her son is the prophet, but he needs time to grow (so ... she's holding her long dead baby?). The man says this is blasphemy but she can go back and live with the others. May says her son will ascend under the Blood Moon to join his father, his power will have no equal, together they will take the world. She lays on the floor and the man releases a large, black snake (like the one that exited Lex Luthor's mouth) that slithers toward her. She holds out her hands and says 'Sebastian'. Cut to 2019 and the Asylum is in flames, but Gina comes to rescue May, and as they leave May gives her gas mask to the man who unleashed the snake on her.

© HBO Max

Meanwhile, in the present, there is a Blood Moon in the sky and Kory and Dick are unsure of what to do with Sebastian, but Rachel is doing what she can to get information from him. He asks Rachel why they did what they did at the police station, and she says he needed help but he wonders if he truly did. She assures him he did. One thing they find they have in common at the moment is that the Blood Moon is making them unable to sleep. It's giving Rachel bad dreams when she does sleep. Rachel asks Sebastian about the woman at the police station and he tells her how she said she's known him since before he was born and that she'd help him if he'd let her. She asked him to say three words that made him feel something strange. Rachel asks him to tell her just one of the words and he says 'Azarath'. She seems almost compelled to respond 'Metrion' but before he can say the last word she stops him. Rachel tells Dick and Kory what had happened and is sure this has something to do with The Organization, but Kory says there's no one left because the Asylum had burned to the ground (as seen back in that Season 1 episode). Dick also adds that they dealt with Trigon and he's gone (as seen in the Season 2 premiere). Rachel wants them to consider the possiblity that The Organization is back in operation, and while Kory insists that everyone died, Dick now isn't so sure.

So they take the RV, give Sebastian and Tim a Cliffs Notes version of Trigon's story, and head to the site of the Asylum and find ... a Super Super Mart, which oddly does not show up on Dick's GPS. All he can see is a 'black hole'. Gar just thinks it's a superstore, but Rachel points out something is there as they see a large flock of ravens in the air. They walk about the building and find a weird little door hidden between two dumpsters, what Gar assumes is a portal to Hell. Of course they need to go in, but are unaware that May(hem) and Gina are watching. Gina thinks Mayhem is playing with fire, but she says they are all part of the story, except the Tamaranian might not like her part so much. It's already been written, they can't change their fate. Gina reminds her that they did. Mayhem says it was because they were stronger. She says they have old friends who have been waiting for this day and when she says they words they will rise up and fight for them, obviously referring to those who died when the Asylum burned down (which the Titans may have had a hand in). She calls out the Hounds of Hell and says it's time, and the people inside the Super Super Mart start grabbing tools and various other instruments that could be turned into weapons and they make their way to the little door.

Inside the Titans have found the large cell area where May had been chained up, amazed that somehow this place remained intact after the fire. Sebastian says this was the room of the woman at the police station. Kory wonders how he knew that and he shows them a picture he found on the floor on May and Gina, pointing to the young May but he says he doesn't know her. However he does know the other woman and tells her she is Gina, his neighbor from across the hall which makes it clear that The Organization has been monitoring him. But what do they want? Dick says it could be a blood type or genetic marker. Kory finds something else, a book that she calls a 'creepy fairy tale' and they notice that all of the characters in it appear to be them, including one image in which they all appear to be dead. Dick says the fire probably knocked out the security system and Kory believes they were the ones who unwittingly released her.

Tim found a control room of sorts elsewhere in the facility and it was filled with cassette tapes. Playing one, the actually hear the recording of that moment when the snake approached May and she said 'Sebastian'. Which, naturally, freaks him out a bit but Rachel asks him if he has 'the mark' and she shows him the symbol on her shoulder. He, in fact, does have the same mark on his shoulder. Kory says he's the one in the book who makes the hole in the sky. It's part of the prophecy. Sebastian continues to get agitated and says he doesn't know anything about this prophecy, he's nobody. Rachel tells him they want him to be. What, he asks, a killer? Rachel tries to assure him he doesn't have to be. Sebastian says they have to stop this, they saw the book, Kory dies, they all die. Jinx says he's right, they've got to stop it. Unfortunately, her solution is to kill Sebastian ... which no one is on board with, but Gar has some good news -- the Blood Moon is going to expire in about 8 hours, so all they have to do is keep Sebastian safe until then and the prophecy is over.

© HBO Max

But they may not have 8 hours as Mayhem's zombie horde descends into the Asylum's prison, their sights set on the Titans. Nothing seems to stop them as they engage in battle, but Jinx uses her head when she tells the Titans the invaders have to lose theirs. At least one of them is up on her zombie lore. Rachel takes a chainsaw to one which seems to give Jinx great joy, but she can see they are badly outnumbers so she does a little bit of magic to freeze the horde in place. She can only hold them for a few more seconds so time to make tracks. They exit and lock the door behind them but they have another foe blocking their way out -- Deathstroke, or rather a zombie version of Deathstroke. Everyone takes cover when he starts firing and Dick asks Jinx to do something but she says she needs to recharge. 'What are you, a fucking iPhone 7', he asks. Sebastian is feeling some type of way, saying this is all his fault so he's going to take one for the team but the second he steps in front of Deathstroke, he stops firing. Whoever is controlling him does not want to kill Sebastian. Conner grabs him and gets him back to safety as Deathstroke starts firing again, the bullets bouncing off of Coner's back. He tells Dick he's got this and Dick finally allows him to let loose. Conner rushes to Deathstroke and knocks his block off like a 'Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robot'. Unlike the others, this does not stop Deathstroke as his body strolls over, picks up and reattaches his head. Everyone takes cover with Conner as their last defense, but Deathstroke surprises him with a stab to the gut -- and the blade pieces his flesh. It's not Kryptonite, it's Mayhem's magic doing the damage. Everyone, including Conner, is surprised to see him bleeding.

Dick manages to give the team cover with some tiny smoke bomb balls, allowing them all to leave while Dick goes head-to-head with Deathstroke. Sebastian is also still in the room, perhaps as insurance, but Deathstroke manages to take down Dick ... or does he? As Deathstroke leaves with Sebastian, Dick watches as if he knows there is more going on here than meets the eye. And there was. As Deathstroke is in his van preparing to leave with Sebastian, the voice that comes out of Sebastian's mouth is decidedly not his own. In fact, it's not Sebastian at all, it's Jinx who has used her magic to look like Sebastian. She uses her magic again to freeze him in place and then sabs him in his good eye, which causes Mayhem to feel a dull pain. She's not happy they defeated her ... this time. They all return to STAR Labs and Conner excuses himself as he's not feeling well. He enters a rest room and vomits blood. When he looks in the toilet, there is also a large snake swimming around. It's not clear if he flushed but hopefully he did, or at least fried the snake like he did that other one. Fitzmartin takes the team to a large room they've prepared to keep Sebastian safe. It's stocked with everything he needs, but as the Titans leave Rachel asks if there is room for one more. She stays with Sebastian, and Gar asks Conner if he's okay. He says he is but ... is he?

New episodes of Titans premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.

What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments section below!

Get it on Apple TV

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Survivor S43E09: What About the Big Girls


Survivor doubles down with a double boot that reveals the new big players..
by Jeremy Fogelman

Apparently Survivor has been noticing the slower pace of recent episodes so it included that well-known post-merge twist of the temporary team split. We’ve seen this particular twist before, which is a good way to shake things up and potentially weed out some of the less interesting players by having a double vote out in one episode.

The immunity challenge was a fast one, with the first team getting Karla her first immunity win and the second team getting Cody his first win. At this point the immunities have been pretty well distributed, kinda unusually -- but it makes things more precarious going forward. In the challenge Ryan demonstrated a lot of capability, as to be expected, which is likely one of the main reasons behind his being voted out.


Why did Ryan get voted out? As Jesse noted, he’s a physical threat but perhaps not so much a strategic one, especially compared to Cassidy. But it’s also about his loyalty or lack of it -- Jesse and Cody are already a supremely tight duo, but is it one that will take them to the end or detonate because of it? They easily bring in Gabler, who has also seemingly fallen under Sami’s leadership -- but who will the “loyalty first” dude really stay loyal to if they’re at odds?

Although Cody and Jesse discuss contingency plans about who gets voted out from the other tribe, they don’t actually seem to change their plans at all. So we get a straightforward, if boring, blindside on Ryan, who isn’t really connected or aware enough to see it coming. Sadly it was easy to see coming -- although he was very unlikely to win at the final tribal council, he could easily block someone else from staying safe which is a danger all itself.

The far more interesting tribal council is the other team, which is set aflame at first by Owen and James yelling at each other. We’ve heard James oddly mention Owen as untrustworthy already, but here he clarifies further that it’s because Owen already put his name down twice. However he’s misremembering things, because Owen only did that once at the Elie blindside vote because he was completely out of the loop. It felt like James simply didn’t want to work with Owen in the first place.


In contrast, Sami is setting himself up as a player making risky but effective moves -- he both wants to retain an alliance with Owen while solidifying one with Karla. When Noelle comes up with the brilliant move to fake Steal-a-Vote from Owen but still vote with him, Sami decides to bring Karla on board instead of leaving her in the dark. It’s potentially very dangerous for him and their blindside, because she could tell James to use his Knowledge is Power or even spare an idol if needed.

Instead though Sami convinces Karla with apparently decent logic that Owen isn’t a real threat but this is the perfect opportunity to get out the more connected and advantage-having James -- hard to say he’s wrong. So Karla has to decide between wrecking the plan because James is allied with her or remove a potential threat before it’s too late. Of course she could also be wrong about the threat and it’s making her seem more dangerous, but we can’t know about that yet.

Either way, I was glad to see some interesting gameplay between Sami and Noelle here, with a tribal that felt like it could’ve actually gone either way, unlike the Ryan blindside. So it’s half of an interesting episode, and thankfully we still have quite a few of my faves left in the game.

Next time on Survivor, the game is relentless and the targets keep changing.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Survivor S43E08: Proposterous


Survivor delivers a straightforward vote-out in a season that’s becoming less interesting.

by Jeremy Fogelman

Normally I really get into the entire strategic nonsense of Survivor and the possible reasons why people get voted out. Unfortunately we’ve reached a weird sort of stasis point in this season where the big moves are too dangerous and the most savvy players seem to be still playing it safe. Which means that the easy votes are the normal votes after the merge -- Elie, Dwight, and now Jeanine, all the people with the fewest allies.

Jeanine really only had one theoretical ally in Noelle and even more theoretical in Owen as the potential other low on the totem pole players, but both voted against Jeanine in a 9-2 landslide vote out. The only other one that voted with her to vote against Ryan was Cassidy, and I suppose she did that maybe because like she said to Karla, she was sick of all the women being voted out?

I’m not sure, but at this point the numbers are pretty skewed with only three women left and seven guys in the game. But not all positions are equal, and some perspectives I still don’t entirely understand because the show isn’t really showing us everything that would be helpful. James is oddly against Owen this episode for the reason that he doesn’t trust him -- but is that really the only reason?


If there’s something specific that happened, we don’t know about it, and if there isn’t, it feels like James is being unreasonable. I didn’t really hear anyone else specifically target Owen, but he did say later when approached by Sami that he was thankful he was still in the game. So perhaps there’s more that we haven’t seen, which is another ding against the editing of the season.

Ryan was the potential other target mentioned, as he was a strong dude who wasn’t really involved much in strategizing -- more of the classic old school immunity threat that has been more deprioritized over time in favor of strategic threats. Thus why most winners of late have been of the “middle” threat variety, either intentionally or unintentionally not appearing that dangerous. It’s a very difficult line to balance on, but a lot of the current players are basically trying to do just that.

Like the immunity challenge “give up immunity for rice” play -- Cassidy, Sami, James, Karla, and Jesse all volunteer to sit out, which either means they feel comfortable or want everyone else to think they feel comfortable. It’s another balancing act thing, because being too arrogant runs the risk of becoming a visible target, but being noticed as a hard player is also dangerous.


That sort of post-modern high level strategy is an interesting part of modern Survivor, but the problem is that the season hasn’t really been showing us the thought processes behind all potential vote outs. The last episode with Dwight’s vote out felt more logical, and it did lead to a fun moment this time where Jesse revealed he actually had it. One of the few memorable moments of an otherwise fairly forgettable episode.

I still think many people in the cast are interesting to watch, but there’s a lot of uninteresting stuff we’ve been shown so it’s made it difficult to really care about each vote off other than feeling bad about poor Jeanine and her inevitable fall. Skip these boring “final seven” bits and bring on the “turn on each other already” part of the season.

Next time on Survivor, James isn’t the godfather and there are two immunity necklaces.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Titans S04E03: Jinx

© HBO Max

It's witchcraft, wicked witchcraft...
by Chuck Duncan

Let's Talk About 'Jinx':

  • Rachel lives but she isn't quite herself.
  • Mother Mayhem extends her powers with her victims' blood and some stolen magic, specifically Rachel's.
  • The videogame company seems to have a change of heart about Sebastian's game.
  • Dick and Kory visit Bludhaven prison to seek assistance from Jinx, a witch and former associate of Dick's.
  • Gar hears voices from Najavo spirits calling him Skinwalker.
  • Tim and Conner are sent back to STAR Labs so Tim can finally begin his Robin training.
  • Jinx draws Dick and Kory into a very rocky situation.
  • The victims of the bloodletting are all found to possess a genetic mutation linking them all to an ancient Assyrian tribe.
  • Kory encounters someone from her past who tells Kory her destiny has arrived.
  • Dick finds out he really can't trust a trickster like Jinx.
  • Sebastian is confronted by his own destiny.

Rachel is alive. She can’t feel anyone. She says she feels empty, like something is missing. Her soul is gone. Dick says they’re all alive so that’s what matters, but whatever Kory did during their battle with who they now believe is a witch shows the woman is not invincible so they will be ready for her the next time the see her. Dick wants Gar to look after Rachel, and he's sending Tim back to STAR Labs with Conner … to start his Robin training. That made Tim's day. Kory and Dick has an errand to run, to meet someone who can help them should they encounter the witch again. Conner wants to stay with the Titans saying he knows there’s a way he can beat the woman, he just needs a chance. Dick insists that he accompany Tim back to Metropolis.

Meanwhile, at a supposedly secure facility belonging to the MPD, some workers are moving heavy barrels. One of them notices something leaking from his, and a puddle of what looks like blood comes alive and turns into some little creature that scurries up his body and enters his ear, apparently killing him. The co-worker checks on him, she feels something on her neck, sees blood on her hand and starts convulsing, blood coming from her mouth and she collapses. A woman in a long black jacket enters and takes their keys. The woman quickly returns to the Temple of Azarath with Mother Mayhem. Mayhem talks about the blood and having the power, and she transfers Raven’s power from her staff into another vessel and says that nothing else matters now.

Dick and Kory's errand was visiting Bludhaven State Penitentiary to meet with a prisoner named Jinx, who is also a witch. She's also a thief and grifter Dick knows from Gotham. As the guards bring her out to the yard, Kory says she looks harmless. Dick notices Jinx is taking her shoe off and he warns the guards to not let her foot touch the ground, but before he can stop her she does and creates a dust devil and she’s gone. Dick tells Kory Jinx once tried to steal a valuable artifact and there is an auction in Geneva where she is most likely to appear if there’s money to be made. Kory says she’s returning to the scene of the crime so off to Geneva they go.

© HBO Max

Gar is cooking pancakes for Rachel. She says she now feels light instead of empty. Smelling the maple syrup without everyone’s pain flowing through her is amazing. She likes this feeling, saying this is like living a normal life, but she feels like she’s not handling her responsibility of being a Titan now. Gar asks if it was her responsibility to begin with if it wasn’t her choice. Good question. Gar then hears sounds from outside which Rachel can't. He goes to investigate, and Rachel follows. Gar tells her he just needed a break. She feels she upset him making him think about his responsibility of being a Titan. He says he’s been having weird flashes ever since they were in Metropolis, hearing voices before the attack the day before that called him 'Skinwalker'. They kept saying, 'Join us', but he doesn’t know who is calling to him. He explains to Rachel that in Navajo culture, skinwalkers are those who can change into animals, and he thinks they’re trying to tell him something about 'her'. Rachel asks if he means the witch who attacked them, and he says if he can get them to talk to him again, maybe they can help take her down. That's all well and good but Rachel doesn’t like being 'normal' in the middle of the woods. Gar says something is coming. He tells her to look at the sky, but she can’t see anything unusual. He taker her hand and they can both see the sky has turned orange. She wants to go back to the RV. Gar says he’ll take her back but then he’s coming back out alone. She says they will do this together. Gar and Rachel approach the tree he saw in his vision. Bones hang from the limbs, trophies collected by a dark force, he says. The voices are telling him when the blood moon is full, the world will fall.

At STAR Labs, Tim and Conner are training with the bow staff. Tim is whacking Conner with the staff, the Bernard Fitzmartin tells Conner to let Tim tire himself out and then they can really get started. Conner isn’t thrilled about being a punching bag but he stands there and let's him do his thing. After the first round, Tim is given some attachments to allow him to feel the hits in their VR training. A bulletin comes through about a break-in at the MPD evidence warehouse, two people are dead, 40 gallons of blood was stolen. Tim continues his VR training, getting beaten badly by the simulation. After hearing about the stolen blood Conner is doing some online research and notices a symbol on the milk canisters of blood from the slaughterhouse that he believes is an occult symbol but he can’t find any matches in the database. He asks Bernard to check the blood samples because all of the people they had found at the slaughterhouse were obviously not chosen randomly. After some digging, Bernard finds the blood analysis shows that each victim has a genetic mutation that traces its origins back to an ancient Assyrian tribe. Conner found a matching symbol for the one at the slaughterhouse, a screengrab from a videogame by Sebastian Sanger. Conner finds a file on Sebastian, currently employed at Wolfmen’s Taxidermy. Bernard says they need to find Sebastian fast because he has the same genetic mutation as the other victims. Could he be the next victim?

They may be too late, however. We find Sebastian who seems to be scattering his mother’s ashes. He gets a call from the man at the videogame company who says they want to buy his game. But it’s actually Mother Mayhem. Sebastian goes at the videogame company, but the guy who he thinks called him has no idea why he’s there. They already told him they are not interested in his game. He says he never called Sebastian, but Sebastian says he can show him the call in his history. The man starts hearing chanting, which Sebastian cannot, and he suddenly plunges scissors into his eyes before Sebastian can stop him. Sebastian calls for help and the police are already there, aiming their guns at him. Conner gets in touch with Dick to tell him about the common marker in all the victims, that Sebastian has just been arrested for murder and the cops showed up almost right as the murder was happening. Odd. Dick says it has to be a set-up, the witch is orchestrating the whole thing. Sebastian is being held at Metropolis PD so Conner believes that’s where she’ll be next and he can stop her there. Dick says this is not the time for Conner to be rushing blindly into a situation, they need to know more about her. Their mission at the moment is just to get Sebastian.

And that will have to wait until Dick gets back because he and Kory are currently trailing after Jinx, who is now at a vault, using her powers to move the laser beam security out of the way. She opens the vault door with her magic and approaches a box but before she can take it, it flies off the podium into Dick’s hand. He and Kory are right behind Jinx. He says they need her help and the box is her payment if she accepts. She tells him it’s very valuable ... and very dangerous. Kory says the sooner she helps them the sooner she can have whatever is in the box. Kory opens the box and sees a beating heart ... and then she turns to stone. Oops. Dick tells Jinx to undo the spell now but she says there’s nothing she can do, it’s not her spell, but Kory will be fine. Maybe. She claims she doesn’t know how to fix this, telling Dick the box belongs to Lironne, a dark elf. The heart was stolen from her and there is a hefty reward for its return. When Jinx takes it back to her, maybe she’ll unlock Kory. Dick doesn’t trust Jinx to go alone and she agrees to take him but she collects the finder’s fee. Dick doesn’t want to leave Kory there but Jinx says she’s not going anywhere.

Jinx and Dick reminisce about old times in Gotham, seems they had bit of a romantic past along with their thievery, but Dick reminds her that it was just business between them and she played him. She wants to know that if he doesn’t trust her why did he come to her now? He tells her about the woman who attacked them with the red waves, tall, dark hair, a staff. Jinx asks if it was a magical staff. She doesn’t know her but she tells Dick to not fuck with her, he’s way out of his league. He knowns, and if he wasn’t he wouldn’t have come for her. They’ve arrived to meet the elf. Dick thinks it’s like Santa’s elves but Jinx said they’re like Lord of the Rings elves, and she needs $200 to get into the club where they are to meet.

Back at the vault, one of Kory’s eyes lights up. In her mind, she is back at the diner. She meets an old friend and asks if she’s dead. The woman says she’s not dead. She also say that only Kory can save them (from the witch, apparently). Kory says she already did the queen thing, she did the 'go to Earth to save Tamarind' thing. But Kory has all the answers, all she has to do is listen. So Kory plays a song on the jukebox, her destiny has arrived, time to be the warrior. Yeah but she can’t because she’s been turned into an over-sized paperweight by a witch. The woman says her friend will help her out of that. Dick is part of her destiny. She’ll understand more when the time comes. Kory wants to know now, but she’s told to have patience, it’s all how it was meant to be.

© HBO Max

At the club Jinx orders drinks. The bartender said there was a rumor she busted out, and now she’s working with humans again? Dick says they need to speak to Lironne, but the bartender says he doesn’t know who that is. Dick puts the box on the bar and the bartender tells them to stay there. Jinx wants to handle this because Dick is an outsider, but he says he can take care of himself. Dick is summoned to meet with Lironne.  In elvish she says, 'It stinks, what does It want?' The bartender responds that It has something that belongs to her. She asks Dick, in English, what he has and he says he’s always happy to recover stolen goods. But first he needs a favor, he wants the spell to release his friend. She says he's the one who could have stolen the box and now he wants favors? He says he’d ask someone else but was told only she could do it. She called him impudent and naive, and tells the bartender to take It outside and kill It. That doesn't go as she planned as Dick takes down one henchman after another, so she says she’ll kill him herself. She’s almost as skilled as he in hand-to-hand combat but she uses a little magic to turn one dagger into four and flings them at Dick. He dodges them, grabs one and throws it back at her, she catches it and tries to go for him but he sweeps her feet out from under her.

Jinx is in another part of the club opening a box, but Dick enters and announces that Jinx could have removed the spell herself, she just used him as a distraction to get to whatever is in that box she's planning to steal. Dick says she must have a death mark, and she wouldn’t try to get anyone else killed unless her life was on the line. She says he’s earned his gold star for figuring that out. She's in debt to the tune of $5 million. Dick puts the money in escrow (Bruce's money?), to transfer in seven days, and if she frees Kory and helps the Titans the money is hers. She says she can help with her magic powers and it’s a deal. They get back to the vault and Jinx thinks Kory would look good on Bruce’s terrace. She tells Dick to undo the spell he has to kiss her. He's not sure if she's pulling his leg, but she just wanted to see if she could make him kiss a rock. She performs the spell and releases Kory. She’s a bit freaked out after what she just experienced, nor is she thrilled that Jinx is going to help them, and warns that if she does anything like that again Kory will fuck her up. Jinx says she can see why Dick likes her.

Sebastian is in an interview room at the police station. Mother Mayhem appears in the room out of nowhere. He asks who she is but she says it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that she’s here now and she’s going to take care of him. Is she his lawyer, he asks. No, she says she knows him, she’s known him since before he was born, she knows what’s in his heart, and she knows he didn’t do the things they said he did. She knows about his game, all the years, the dedication and passion he spent on it, he is going to change the world and she’s there to help him do it. She can make all this go away if he lets her. Will he says yes to the offer? Yes. Shall they do it now? Yes, he says. She tells him to say the words 'Azarath Metrion Zinthos'. He says the first two but before he can say the third Conner breaks through the wall and snatches Sebastian away, taking him to Dick’s car. He asks who Conner is and he says, 'We’re the Titans, buckle up.' Mayhem walks out and watches them drive away, smirking.

New episodes of Titans premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.

What did you think of this episode? Tell us in the comments section below!

Get it on Apple TV

Monday, November 7, 2022

ABC Announces 2023 Mid-season Schedule

ABC announced the 2022-2023 midseason premiere dates today for two new drama series, a new comedy series and a new unscripted series as well as dates for fan-favorite returning series.

A new Tuesday night block begins TUESDAY, JAN. 3, with a crossover event when The Rookie returns on its new day at 8 p.m. EST, followed by The Rookie: Feds at 9 p.m. EST. On their first crossover episodes of the season, The Rookie hit a new season high among Adults 18-49 (0.7/5), while The Rookie: Feds drew its biggest audience (4.1 million viewers) since its series debut. Joining the night will be new crime drama Will Trent, starring Ramón Rodríguez in the title role and based on Karin Slaughter’s wildly popular bestselling book series.

Multiple Emmy® Award-winning comedy Abbott Elementary, starring and executive produced by Quinta Brunson, resumes class WEDNESDAY, JAN. 4. After just seven days of multiplatform viewing, the second season premiere of Abbott Elementary skyrocketed to a 2.43 rating among Adults 18-49, soaring more than four times over its initial Live+Same Day rating. Joining the series that night will be the winter premieres of Home Economics and Big Sky: Deadly Trails.

As previously announced, brand-new unscripted series The Parent Test will launch with a special series premiere following the highly anticipated debut of Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration on THURSDAY, DEC. 15. The series will have its regular time period debut on THURSDAY, JAN. 5, after the return of Celebrity Jeopardy! hosted by Mayim Bialik; and the night will be capped off with high-octane quiz show The Chase. The following night, the Sharks plunge back into the Tank to make more great deals when Shark Tank returns FRIDAY, JAN. 6. Everyone’s favorite TV family comedies, The Conners and The Goldbergs, return with all-new episodes WEDNESDAY, JAN. 11.

With the most recent season of The Bachelor ranking as the No. 1 entertainment series in its two-hour time slot among Adults 18-49, the search for love continues on an all-new season of The Bachelor, where Zach Shallcross will begin his journey on MONDAY, JAN. 23, joined by the winter premiere of The Good Doctor.

Freshman comedy Not Dead Yet, starring and executive produced by Gina Rodriguez and adapted from the work of bestselling author Alexandra Potter, will kick off its two-episode premiere event on WEDNESDAY, FEB. 8, at 8:30 p.m. EST, then treat viewers to an all-new episode in its regular time period the same night at 9:30 p.m. EST. The series will be joined by the heartfelt premiere of A Million Little Things, which will begin its celebratory farewell season.

Thrilling heist drama The Company You Keep, starring and executive produced by Milo Ventimiglia, debuts SUNDAY, FEB. 19, joining the return of America’s Funniest Home Videos and iconic music competition series American Idol.

Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy return with a winter premiere event on THURSDAY, FEB. 23, alongside the winter premiere of Alaska Daily, starring Hilary Swank as investigative reporter Eileen Fitzgerald.

Below are premiere dates for new and returning shows (all times listed are Eastern/Pacific).


  • 8:00-10:00 p.m. - Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration (previously announced)
  • 10:00-11:00 p.m. - The Parent Test (special series premiere – previously announced)


  • 8:00-9:00 p.m. - The Rookie (new night and time)
  • 9:00-10:00 p.m. - The Rookie: Feds (new time)
  • 10:00-11:00 p.m. - Will Trent (series premiere)


  • 9:00-9:31 p.m. - Abbott Elementary
  • 9:31-10:00 p.m. - Home Economics
  • 10:00-11:00 p.m. - Big Sky: Deadly Trails


  • 8:00-9:00 p.m. - Celebrity Jeopardy! (new night)
  • 9:00-10:00 p.m. - The Parent Test (regular time period premiere)
  • 10:00-11:00 p.m. - The Chase (new night and time)


  • 8:00-9:01 p.m. - Shark Tank


  • 8:00-8:30 p.m. - The Conners
  • 8:30-9:00 p.m. - The Goldbergs


  • 8:00-10:01 p.m. - The Bachelor (season premiere – previously announced)
  • 10:01-11:00 p.m. - The Good Doctor


  • 8:30-9:00 p.m. - Not Dead Yet (early series premiere)
  • 9:31-10:00 p.m. - Not Dead Yet (regular time period premiere – new episode)
  • 10:00-11:00 p.m. - A Million Little Things (farewell season premiere)


  • 7:00-8:00 p.m. - America’s Funniest Home Videos
  • 8:00-10:00 p.m. - American Idol (season premiere)
  • 10:00-11:00 p.m. - The Company You Keep (series premiere)


  • 8:00-9:00 p.m. - Station 19
  • 9:00-10:01 p.m. - Grey’s Anatomy
  • 10:01-11:00 p.m. - Alaska Daily

New series descriptions are below.

WILL TRENT (Series Premiere) – TUESDAY, JAN. 3 (10:00-11:00 p.m.)

Based on Karin Slaughter’s New York Times bestselling Will Trent series, Special Agent Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) was abandoned at birth and endured a harsh coming-of-age in Atlanta’s overwhelmed foster care system. But now, determined to use his unique point of view to make sure no one is abandoned like he was, Will Trent has the highest clearance rate in the GBI.

Will Trent stars Ramón Rodríguez as Will Trent, Erika Christensen as Angie Polaski, Iantha Richardson as Faith Mitchell, Jake McLaughlin as Michael Ormewood and Sonja Sohn as Amanda Wagner.


(Special Premiere) – THURSDAY, DEC. 15 (10:00-11:00 p.m.), and THURSDAY, JAN. 5 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Based on a hit Australian television format, The Parent Test will explore the many distinctively different parenting styles. From helicopter to child-led parents, 12 families are put under the microscope in the ultimate parenting stress test and will share learnings about emotional hot-button topics that compare the multiple styles of parenting. The families are put through various situations to foster conversations about how each unit operates. Host Ali Wentworth and parenting expert Dr. Adolph Brown moderate these impassioned conversations amongst parents who may have conflicting opinions on how to raise their families, but they all share the common goal of raising happy, healthy children.


(Series Premiere) – WEDNESDAY, FEB. 8 (8:30-9:00 p.m. – early debut) and (9:30-10:00 p.m.)

From creators David Windsor and Casey Johnson and starring Gina Rodriguez, Not Dead Yet follows Nell Serrano (Rodriguez), a broke and newly single self-described disaster, working to restart the life and career she left behind five years ago. When she lands the only job she can find – writing obituaries – Nell starts getting life advice from an unlikely source. The series is adapted from the book Confessions of a 40-something F**k Up by Alexandra Potter.

Not Dead Yet stars Gina Rodriguez as Nell Serrano, Hannah Simone as Sam, Lauren Ash as Lexi, Rick Glassman as Edward, Joshua Banday as Dennis and Angela Gibbs as Cricket.

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP (Series Premiere) – SUNDAY, FEB. 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m.)

A night of passion leads to love between con man Charlie and undercover CIA officer Emma, who are unknowingly on a collision course professionally. While Charlie ramps up the family business so he can get out for good, Emma’s closing in on the vengeful criminal who holds Charlie’s family debts in hand – forcing them to reckon with the lies they’ve told so they can save themselves and their families from disastrous consequences. The series is based on the Korean Broadcasting System series entitled My Fellow Citizens.

The Company You Keep stars Milo Ventimiglia as Charlie, Catherine Haena Kim as Emma, William Fichtner as Leo, Tim Chiou as David, Freda Foh Shen as Grace, James Saito as Joseph, Sarah Wayne Callies as Birdie, Felisha Terrell as Daphne and Polly Draper as Fran.

NBC Announces 2023 Mid-season Schedule

Following another Premiere Week win and a top-rated fall, NBC heads into 2023 with the launch of an all-new Night Court, the debuts of dramas Found and Magnum P.I. and an extension of the world’s most successful reality format with America’s Got Talent: All-Stars.

NBC heads into midseason as the #1 network in both total viewers and 18-49 demo in overall programming as well as being #1 in the demo in entertainment-only programming.  

Saturday Night Live continues its reign as the #1 entertainment program in the demo (live + 3). In live +7 viewing in the demo, NBC has the top three shows – Chicago P.D., Saturday Night Live and Chicago Fire. Quantum Leap, which was recently given a full-series order, ranks #3 in new shows this season in the demo L+7.

In total viewers, the current season of The Voice – with coaches Blake Shelton, Gwen Stefani, John Legend and Camila Cabello – ranks #1 for unscripted programming.

"Following another winning fall, we’re looking forward to a great January and beyond with a strong schedule that delivers on the return of many favorites coupled with fantastic new premieres", said Frances Berwick, Chairman, Entertainment Networks, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. "We continue to program with an eye toward a year-round schedule, constantly providing our audiences with new reasons to tune in and engage either live on NBC or stream next day on Peacock."

"We can’t wait to share these terrific new series with our audience", said Susan Rovner, Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. "Found, from Greg Berlanti and Nkechi Okoro Carroll, is a stellar addition to our drama lineup while Magnum, P.I. comes to us with a passionate fanbase already in place that we intend to nourish. On the comedy side, having John Larroquette and Melissa Rauch co-star in an updated Night Court is a dream come true, and our critically acclaimed comedy American Auto is back with its hilarious and ironic look at corporate America. Add AGT: All-Stars to that mix and it’s a great start to the new year."

Launching right out of the holiday season, America’s Got Talent: All-Stars premieres Monday, Jan. 2. This new series serves as an extension of the powerhouse hit franchise, featuring winners, fan favorites and viral sensations from previous seasons of America’s Got Talent and Got Talent franchises around the world.

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, court is back in session when Night Court debuts. Melissa Rauch plays the late Harry Stone’s daughter and takes the gavel, sparring with new public defender and Night Court legend John Larroquette. A week after Night Court airs back-to-back episodes, the critically acclaimed Ana Gasteyer-starrer American Auto returns to create an hourlong Tuesday comedy block beginning Jan. 24.

Sunday, Feb. 19 will mark the premiere date for the broadcast return of Magnum, P.I. and series premiere of Found, starring Shanola Hampton and from executive producer Greg Berlanti. Magnum P.I., starring Jay Hernandez as the suave title character, will be beginning its fifth season. A week later on Feb. 26 will be the Season 10 premiere of The Blacklist, the ultra-compelling drama starring Emmy Award winner James Spader as Red Reddington.

The Voice returns March 6 with new coaches Chance the Rapper and Niall Horan alongside Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton. A day later, first-year hit That’s My Jam, with host Jimmy Fallon, returns for more games, performances and musical impressions, expanding to 10 episodes in season two.

In addition to their curated linear timeslots, all shows will be available to stream on Peacock.  

Previously announced shows that have been ordered to series but not yet dated include Grand Crew, The Wheel and L.A. Fire and Rescue.


(New programs in UPPER CASE; all times ET/PT)  


  • 8 p.m. — AMERICA’S GOT TALENT: ALL-STARS (Series premiere)
  • 10 p.m. – Quantum Leap (Return from hiatus)


  • 8 p.m. – America’s Got Talent: All-Stars (Encore)
  • 10 p.m. – New Amsterdam (Return from hiatus)


  • 8 p.m. — Chicago Med (Return from hiatus)
  • 9 p.m. — Chicago Fire (Return from hiatus)
  • 10 p.m. — Chicago P.D. (Return from hiatus)


  • 8 p.m.  — Law & Order (Return from hiatus)
  • 9 p.m.  — Law & Order: SVU (Return from hiatus)
  • 10 p.m. — Law & Order: Organized Crime (Return from hiatus)


  • 8 p.m. — Lopez vs. Lopez (Return from hiatus)
  • 8:30 p.m. – Young Rock (Return from hiatus)
  • 9 p.m. – Dateline NBC (Return from hiatus)


  • 8 and 8:30 p.m. – NIGHT COURT (Series premiere; back-to-back episodes one night only)
  • 9 p.m. – New Amsterdam (Two-hour series finale)


  • 8:30 p.m. – American Auto (Season premiere)


  • 9 and 10 p.m. – La Brea (Return from hiatus; back-to-back episodes one night only)


  • 9 p.m. – MAGNUM P.I. (Season premiere)
  • 10 p.m. – FOUND (Series premiere)


  • 8 p.m. – The Blacklist (Season premiere)


  • 8 p.m. – The Voice (Season premiere)


  • 9 p.m. – The Voice
  • 10 p.m. – That’s My Jam (Season premiere)




Unapologetic optimist judge Abby Stone, the daughter of the late Harry Stone, follows in her father’s footsteps as she presides over the night shift of a Manhattan arraignment court and tries to bring order to its crew of oddballs and cynics, most notably former night court prosecutor Dan Fielding.

The cast includes Melissa Rauch, John Larroquette, India de Beaufort, Kapil Talwalkar and Lacretta.




Magnum P.I. is a modern take on the classic series centering on Thomas Magnum, a decorated former Navy SEAL who, upon returning home from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator. A charming rogue, an American hero and a die-hard Detroit Tigers fan, Magnum lives in a guest cottage on Robin’s Nest, the luxurious estate where he works as a security consultant to supplement his P.I. business. The majordomo of the property is Juliet Higgins, a beautiful and commanding disavowed MI:6 agent whose second job is to keep Magnum in line, with the help of her two Dobermans. When Magnum needs back up on a job, he turns to his trusted buddies and fellow POW survivors Theodore ‘TC’ Calvin, a former Marine chopper pilot who runs Island Hoppers, a helicopter tour business, and Orville Rick Wright, a former Marine door-gunner-turned-impresario of Oahu’s coolest nightclub and the most connected man on the island. With keys to a vintage Ferrari in one hand, aviator sunglasses in the other, and an Old Düsseldorf longneck chilling in the fridge, Thomas Magnum is back on the case!

The cast includes Jay Hernandez, Perdita Weeks, Zachary Knighton, Stephen Hill, Amy Hill, and Tim Kang.



In any given year, more than 600,000 people are reported missing in the U.S. More than half that number are people of color that the country seems to forget about. Public relations specialist Gabi Mosely (series star and producer Shanola Hampton) — who was once herself one of those forgotten ones — and her crisis management team now make sure there is always someone looking out for the forgotten missing people. But unbeknownst to anyone, this everyday hero is hiding a chilling secret of her own.

The cast includes Shanola Hampton, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Kelli Williams, Brett Dalton, Gabrielle Walsh, Arlen Escarpeta and Karan Oberoi.




America’s Got Talent: All-Stars, a new extension of the powerhouse hit series featuring winners, finalists, fan favorites and viral sensations from previous seasons of America’s Got Talent and Got Talent franchises around the world. The contestants will take the stage once again, but this time to compete for the ultimate All-Star title.

Got Talent creator and executive producer Simon Cowell will judge alongside global fashion icon Heidi Klum and renowned comedian Howie Mandel. America’s Got Talent host Terry Crews will serve as host.

With more than 70 local versions of Got Talent produced across Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas, AGT: All-Stars brings together the most beloved and memorable contestants from across the globe for one of the toughest competitions yet. The best of the best will return to the stage to showcase their talent in hopes of being crowned the first-ever winner of AGT: All-Stars.

The Got Talent format has had more than a billion global viewers since it began airing in 2006 in America and has aired in 194 territories worldwide. Got Talent holds the Guinness World Records title as the Most Successful Reality Television Format.

Survivor S43E07: Bull in a China Shop


Survivor switches up the game as the immunity challenge finally gives us something new.
by Jeremy Fogelman

The latest episode of Survivor ends with a fairly unusual ending, with a few back and forth moments to make us question the situation, but the outcome was fairly well set up. We see that Jesse initially wants to vote out Noelle because she’s simply too capable and inspiring, which I’m sure would be cold comfort if she got voted out. But he “gives agency” (quite smartly) to Cody to raise his alternate vote out idea of Dwight instead, which would still weaken Noelle’s position in the game.

Cody tells us that the idea is a decent one but he worries it’d be too early to make such a “big” move instead of the safer one against James and his Knowledge is Power advantage situation. James still hasn’t broken the Knowledge is Power curse, but at least he hasn’t misplayed it... yet. I was certainly concerned when he told several people about his advantage, including Cody who visibly looked alarmed at the idea.

I still don’t think it was a great idea for James to tell anyone that wasn’t his closest ally, and even then it’s a huge risk. I think he really just got lucky this time around because Dwight was in the crosshairs and it was easy to bring together a coalition since he had very few allies. One of the issues that the season has had so far is a failure to really give us insight into some of these players -- Dwight was sadly one of them. We never really got any significant idea of his game or even really his personality.


So this vote out (although shown why it happened in this episode) also feels anti-climactic. Last season at this point I felt like there was perhaps just one person I didn’t know, but now there are several -- Dwight, James, Ryan, Cassidy -- that’s four out of twelve. At least I do have a sense for everyone else.

The advantage switcheroo situation was fun enough and it made things more complicated in a slightly confusing way -- I didn’t quite remember what idol or advantage he had when he got voted out, only that it was one of them. Sadly it was poor Jeanine, who was effectively blindsided herself and lost her vote and her ally. A dangerous situation for her, but she’s a fun player to watch certainly.

The new immunity challenge was a fun little change up too, with a set of random pairs leading into a single player final segment so there was immediacy to their alliance situations. We got both the somewhat maudlin but nice moment where everyone helps Noelle, but then the melodramatic and weirdly humorous segment where Gabler goes on and on yet also talks about supporting veterans with PTSD. I suppose it’s one of the odd things about Gabler as a player, he’s a hard competitor with a lot of old school loyalty but not really adept at the strategic dynamics.


I was lucky enough to be at a live show watching this episode, and it’s certainly a trip to watch with a big crowd clapping or gasping at different moments. Certainly enhances a lot of the scenes, making things more entertaining when people applaud for players that are actually in the room (even if maybe they would never be applauding for them otherwise). But sadly their season is still going on so we couldn’t ask for secrets we haven’t seen  -- or at least I didn’t ask.

It was still entertaining even considering my enhanced viewing of the episode, with a new interesting immunity twist and some chaotic strategic gameplay -- that’s always fun, even when it targets players you like. At this point Jesse and Karla are the clear strategic narrators, but they may be a hint at what’s to come or a chance to foreshadow a twist that won’t come at all. Either way there are enough interesting players left to keep me invested.

Next time on Survivor, a new storm is coming.

Survivor S43E06: Mergatory


Survivor makes it obvious despite a very chaotic rush in the merge episode.
by Jeremy Fogelman

Ah, the Survivor merge -- or the half safe/half “Mergatory”, as Cassidy cleverly coins, is always a time of great chaos. It’s always the perfect time to shake things up in a tribe that’s on the brink of collapse or the best time for a strong alliance to become even stronger. In this case we had a take on the pre-merge challenge which was a new idea in Seasons 41 and 42 and a pretty interesting new idea.

One temporary team of seven has immunity while the other team does not but they all vote -- it’s a good idea, one that was muddied within the last two seasons with that Hourglass twist. Although I liked Erika winning her season, it always felt a bit tainted because of her clear gains from the Hourglass twist when she was certainly a target.

Sadly this time around we say farewell to Elie, which the episode gives us the doom foreshadowing by Elie saying that she’s “way better at this game” than she thought after noticing Cody has the bead immunity too. She’s perceptive in some ways, certainly, but where she’s always had a blind spot in this game is her perception of her own social standing and how people perceive her.


We already knew Elie thought that Sami and Owen were close allies with her, but only Owen really was an ally -- having decided to try and trust them and be trusted in turn (perhaps a bad move since he did vote with them this time). But Sami has been playing against Elie for a while, so it’s no real surprise he used the opportunity of Gabler playing poorly to target the more capable Elie.

Gabler threw out Elie’s name entirely as a revenge thing, but then he also discussed Jeanine’s idol in front of Ryan! No wonder Sami thought that perhaps they could manage Gabler and his issues instead of the potential strategic capability from Elie. Elie never picked up on Sami’s turn on her and she also didn’t really handle the post-Gabler bus throw part that well either -- really basically yelling at him.

Although it felt inevitable she’d be voted out, it’s also kind of annoying -- you have essentially unknown games from some of the other people, so they feel like pointless people in the game. At this point it’s a bit skewed in terms of the men/women divide, with eight men and four women -- that’s twice as many of the fellas. It’s a weird post-modern game where the obvious physical targets are no longer the threats and neither are the obvious goats (like Gabler).


Instead the threats are still the “playing too hard” players, which sadly Elie was a member of. There have been a few others like that, but sometimes an easy vote is an easy vote. All that said, we did get some interesting stuff -- like Karla wisely noting that the merge treemail doesn’t mean anything yet but also hurting her hand. The back and forth scrambling was entertaining for what it was, even if it ultimately ended in a straightforward manner.

The most fun part of the episode was actually when Owen comments on the chyron itself wishing it told him the secrets of the game -- and then it amusingly follows along with a list of everything he knows for sure and one possible guess. Although he doesn’t know about the bead immunity idol that multiple people have. Otherwise I’m more invested in seeing what chaos might come next.

Next time on Survivor, is Noelle a target, and Gabler is still at it.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Titans Season 4 Premiere: Lex Luthor / Mother Mayhem

© HBO Max

The Titans return and finally function as a team, but dark magic may tear them apart.
by Chuck Duncan


Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Mame-Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Joshua Orpin, Jay Lycurgo, Franka Potente, Joseph Morgan, Titus Welliver, James Scully, Kyana Teresa, Tim Post, Emma Ho


Let's Talk About 'Lex Luthor':

  • The Titans are finally united as a team ... a bowling team. Baby steps.
  • Lex Luthor is introduced and he hopes to find more power at the Temple of Azarath.
  • A young taxidemist named Sebastian believes he has the power to change the world.
  • The Titans are called to Metropolis so Conner can meet his dad, one of them, Superman at STAR Labs, and the rest of the team gets some gifts as well.
  • Lex Luthor uses the old high pitched dog whistle trick to summon Conner and friends back to Metropolis yet again.
  • Kory shows up on Lex's doorstep instead, hoping to get some intel the group can use but Conner ultimately agrees to stay with Lex.
  • People are randomly coughing up blood, and Conner and Lex get a huge surprise.

 Here we are at Season 4 of Titans and I can't believe I'm about to write this but ... the Titans are finally acting like a real team. The ordeal they went through at the end of Season 3 has changed them for the better. Past seasons have just felt so oppressive with all the bickering amongst the group but Season 4 feels fresh and new, and best of all they're digging into the comics, bringing a major name into the premiere and introducing more magic into the show. The episode kicked off with everyone glad to be out of Gotham City and heading home to San Francisco. Enjoying a little bowling to bond more -- even though Gar tries to cheat by transforming -- all is good. Until they get a call to make a stop in Metropolis because Superman himself wants to meet Conner. A boy can't say no to meeting his super-dad so Dick makes a U-ie and they head to STAR Labs ... but Supes isn't there because he had to fly off to a distant galaxy to save a civilization from destruction. Because of course he did. But the team also gets some nifty gadgets from the lab.

Gar is given a device that will allow him to transform without having to strip down first but something goes wrong when he gives it a spin, transporting his mind to some kind of dream realm out of Black Panther including a big tree with things hanging from it, while in the real world he's transforming from a gorilla to a velociraptor to an armadillo, destroying the lab in the process. Back to the drawing board. Kory is taken to another area where she uses her power to shatter a rock of the hardest known element on the planet ... because it was cheaper for her to do it than for the lab to pay for it! And in the process she learns she only used 8.1% of her kinetic power. Dick had the lab build Tim something new -- and it wasn't a Robin suit as he'd hoped (Tim, you've been with the Titans for like three minutes, don't be so thirsty), it was a ... retractable bow staff that Dick will teach him to use. But the biggest surprise was a brand new RV for the Titans complete with a compartment that holds a fancy sports car. Not too shabby, but it's time to hit the road again and off they go. Except ...

© HBO Max

Remember in Superman - the Movie when Lex Luthor summoned Superman using a high pitched audio signal only he could hear? Yep, he did the same thing with Conner, asking to meet with him at Lexcorp Tower. Fearing it is a trap, no one wants to go but since Conner didn't get to meet one of his dads he may as well take the opportunity to meet the other one, and back to Metropolis they go. What they don't know is that Lex has been messing around with some dark stuff, hiring a team to locate the Temple of Azarath and then, as Lex Luthor does, screwing over the people who helped him, namely a woman named Miss Bennett. And that may come back to bite him in the ass. Literally. But instead of Conner, Kory bursts into Lex's penthouse apartment and he doesn't seem surprised. In fact he knows quite a lot about her, her sister and everything they went through in Season 3. So he's a fan. Conner, Gar and Rachel are at the Daily Planet going through the archives trying to figure out what Lex wants with Conner, and Dick and Tim are staked out at a building across the street. Kory has her own gadget, a flying USB flash drive, that she releases to hack into Lex's laptop while they make small talk about Conner. But Lex knows Dick is watching and has sent a team of ninjas to the other building to take care of the former and future Boys Wonder. Dick in his Nightwing gear has no time for ninjas and takes them all out. Lex is disappointed because he liked those ninjas, but he wants Dick to let Conner decide if he wants to stay in Metropolis or leave with them.

With access to his files, Dick is able to tell Conner the real reason Lex wants to meet him -- he's dying. Lex had asked for Conner to stay with him for six months to learn how to run Lexcorp, and that is the amount of time he has left on this planet. Going through photos, they notice one man in almost all of them -- Dr. Arthur Holmwood, a leading expert on Kryptonite poisoning, and Lex was diagnosed two years ago. Conner assumes Lex maybe wants a blood transfusion, and while Dick warms him not to get involved, he wants to know from the horses mouth why he was created. Dick tries to play the 'this will hurt our family' card, but Conner chooses to stay. When Conner faces his father, his creator, he tells him that he's only there for himself. He wants to know if Lex is dying and if he wants to use Conner as a cure. Lex says that's a great idea ... but he has an ample supply of Conner's genetic material and it didn't work. Lex tells Conner he's sorry he created him in his own image because people might like him now, but one mistake and they will look at him differently (prophetic words). So then why did Lex create Conner? The answer will determine if Conner stays or leaves. Lex admits that he created Conner to see if his dream of becoming Superman could come true. His dream was for a child to become both man and Superman. He sees, like the world, what Superman has given him, but what Lex has given him is more subtle. Lex doesn't want Conner to become him, but to choose what and who he will be. And Lex has a project that may no longer see death as a final answer, but he fears his partners may have darker ideas than even his own and he may need Conner's help.

Lex may be more correct than he knows. When he screwed over Miss Bennett, she warned that the power Lex seeks comes with a price, someone will have to pay, someone always does. And somehow, Rachel is beginning to have odd feelings, and seeing blood pouring out of different objects. There's also a young man, a taxidermist named Sebastian who believes that he is going to be able to change the world. There are also apparently random killings, first a young couple watching Riverdale and enjoying some Chinese food. Except the food is suddenly full of blood, and there is a large figure in their apartment in a hooded robe, wearing a bird mask. The figure kills the woman. At the same time, Sebastian sees blood pouring out of a stuffed fox's eyes and mouth, while Rachel sees a milkshake turn to blood, but everything quickly snaps back to reality. Now as Connor and Lex are 'bonding', Sebastian begins to cough up blood. He sees his reflection smiling back at him from the mirror. Lex also begins coughing up blood, and Rachel also begins to choke and scream. Dick stops the RV as they try to calm her, but Conner doesn't know what to do for Lex especially as a huge snake starts exiting his mouth. Conner grabs it and fries it with his heat vision, Sebastian's reflection is covered in blood, and Rachel is hysterical but ... she's calm again like nothing happened. Sebastian backs away from the mirror, Conner rushes to Lex but ... Lex Luthor is dead. Security rushes in, guns drawn, Cut back to 'Miss Bennett' who again says out loud to Mr. Luthor that someone always pays.

Something tells me this Miss Bennett isn't the archaeologist Lex thought she was, but how is she connected to Sebastian and Rachel?

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Let's Talk About 'Mother Mayhem':

  • A young girls hears a voice say 'Metrion' and suddenly the bird mask man appears and kills her mother, then he comes after her.
  • Conner is arrested for the murder of Lex Luthor.
  • Kory learns that Lex had been observing her, but why?
  • Gar is attempting to train Tim to hone his tracking skills, but suffers another unfortunate incident while attempting a transformation.
  • Dick and Rachel try to find out what happened to Lex, and she confirms magic was at play.
  • Sebastian tells his mum he's got a meeting about his interactive experience that will change the world, but it ultimately does not go well.
  • The Titans assemble as Rachel has tracked the source of the magic -- the house where the mother was killed earlier, and they find a lot more than they bargained for.
  • The mysterious Miss Bennett finally reveals herself to the Titans.

The second episode of the premiere moves firmly into the realm of magic. We've already been introduced to the Temple of Azarath and now in the opening scene a young girl hears an ominous voice say 'Metrion' as the power in her house fluctuates and she sees blood dripping down the outside of her windows. Her parents downstairs notice the light in the room turning red as they also see the blood. The girl runs downstairs as the Bird Mask man appears and kills her mother, and she heads back upstairs hoping to keep the creature out of her room. But he's already there as she sees in the mirror.

Meanwhile Tim is out in the woods practicing with his bow staff but he's not quite there when it comes to locating sounds out in nature, as Gar points out when he sneaks up on the trainee. Gar tells him he has to keep his senses open when he's tracking, and then Gar hears a voice from an indeterminate direction ... but Tim hears nothing. Gar's senses become overwhelmed by the sounds and he begins to transform and then collapses.

Conner is still in custody, held in place with Kryptonite and chains, and Kory assures him that the authorities just want to know what happened and he's not in any trouble. Conner fears that people will see him as the weapon Lex intended him to be, but Kory tries to shut down those thoughts by telling him that he doesn't owe anyone on the outside a fucking thing. But for Kory, the question is why was Lex observing her? She makes her way to a Lexcorp facility, easily melting a lock, and finds a man inside trying to access a computer. She tells the man she wants to know what Lex knows about her, and he introduces himself as Nelson Blake. She tosses him to the floor and said that's not what she asked for, and he explains that the whole Lexcorp inner circle died the previous night, choking on their own blood. Perhaps Lex thought that Kory could help them, especially after he became a changed man with his illness. No one ever had contact with him and they believed he was caught up in the occult, no longer fighting the disease but fighting death itself. The man suddenly hears chanting, 'Azarath Metrion Zinthos', but Kory can't hear it and doesn't know what to do when blood starts pouring from the man's mouth, which is accompanied by a giant snake. Kory has no choice but to use her powers and incinerate the both of them.

Dick and Rachel are in Lex's penthouse and have discovered the crime scene has been completely cleaned up, but Rachel says they can't hide things from her, and she in fact confirms that magic was used because it leaves a trace as things in the physical world pass beyond the veil, they leave echoes behind. She can see where Lex died, and touching the floor she goes into some kind of realm but Dick quickly pulls her back to reality. She has seen where the people who killed Lex have been, so Dick calls the Titans together for a meeting and they set a plan of action. First Rachel takes them to the house from the opening scene. Dick sees a bloody apple on the floor, Rachel finds the dead mother, Tim is freaked out so Gar takes him to watch the front door. They hear a sound upstairs and find the girl, possibly having a seizure but Rachel says she's stuck in a dream. She uses her powers to enter the dream and finds herself in what looks like a basement. She finds the girl and learns her name is Aria and Rachel says she is Raven. They hear a sound and see the Bird Mask man pouring blood out of what look like milk canisters (are they in a barn?), then he sharpens a machete and vanishes ... and appears behind Raven. He grabs her and Aria shrieks while Raven attempts to remove the mask. He draws a dagger but Raven uses her powers to get herself and Aria out of the dream state, and Rachel knows the man is not far from where they are. Tim says he's never heard a sound like the one the girl made, but Gar says he has -- it was the sound of dying animals, which suggests that the location of the Bird Mask man is a slaughterhouse.

Meanwhile, Sebastian is seen with his mum in a nursing home, and he tells her he is having a meeting about his interactive experience, and she tells him that he will succeed in everything he does. But the meeting does not go well as the game company execs don't understand his vision, of how the world is full of people smashed up against one another but we're all so alone. All they see is a game with shapes just moving around, it's not competitive. He tries to explain it's meant to build community, and while they appreciate his passion it's not a good fit for them. As his emotions begin to boil, he sees all of the board members with blood pouring down their faces, but in reality they are just sitting there waiting for him to leave. When he returns back to the nursing home, Sebastian learns that his mother has died. But the nurse who gave him the news is not a nurse at all, it's the mysterious 'Miss Bennett', which raises all kinds of questions. She leaves Sebastian in the room while he has an emotional meltdown.

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The Titans are indeed at a slaughterhouse now looking for Bird Mask man, and it is the place Raven saw in Aria's dream. As four go up, Raven goes down. The four members find a horrific sight -- people strung up as their blood is being drained into the milk canisters. And they are still alive, including Aria's father. In the basement, Raven knows the man she's looking for is there but he is able to sneak up on her from behind, knock her down and attempts to stab her again. She uses her power to lift him up in the air and Dick hears the commotion. Raven is trying desperately to remove the Bird Mask but just as she does the man bursts into flames. She assures Dick that she did not make that happen, he did it to himself. She hears more voices chanting, thinking others are there, but the voices stop and she knows they are alone.

They get Aria and her father, and the others, to the hospital. No one will tell Aria what happened to her mother, but she says she knows because she saw it happen. Dick tells her about losing his parents when he was a child and how cold the world felt at that time, but a strong man wrapped his jacket around him and took care of him. Time will make things better, he tells Aria, and he wraps the jacket around her that Bruce Wayne wrapped around him. Aria also knows that Rachel has magic like the 'nightmare man' but Dick assures her it's nothing like his. There is good magic and bad magic, and the good magic always wins (although he may find out that's not sure sooner rather than later).

With Conner exonerated, Dick is certain now that Arthur Holmwood killed Lex. He had promised Lex more than just a cure for his illness but he trusted a madman, and whatever power Lex was buying, Dr. Holmwood wanted to keep it for himself. Conner didn't want to believe what people had always said about Lex, that he could commit such atrocities, and Dick reiterates that Conner is not Lex, no matter how much Lex wanted him to be. Conner says he never wants to come back to Metropolis, so into the RV they go back to San Francisco. Again. As they drive and Dick promises no more stops until they get home, Rachel says they are not alone. And there is 'Miss Bennett', now recognizable as Mother Mayhem, standing in the middle of the highway, red lightning bolts shooting out of her staff, holding up traffic. Kory wants to go home so they need to finish this. The Titans suit up ... except for Tim who still has no suit. Conner is the first to recklessly charge in, taking flight toward the woman, heat vision blazing. Mother Mayhem deflects the rays with her staff, sending Conner crashing into a car windshield. Raven uses her powers but the staff absorbs it, knocking Raven unconscious. Mayhem also takes down Nightwing and prevents Beast Boy from transforming. Tim is pretty much useless at this point, so Kory is the last Titan standing, pitting her powers against whatever Mayhem has in her staff. Kory is almost no match for her but the combined powers causes an explosion and Mayhem is gone. Everyone rushes to Raven and as they try to tend to her the jewel on her forehead vanishes and her hair turns white as snow.

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Mother Mayhem has returned to the temple, her acolytes chanting 'Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos' over and over. She plants the staff in the ground and the jeweled eyes of the twin statues in front of them begin to glow. Has Mother Mayhem collected Rachel's magic in her staff? Elsewhere, Sebastian can hear the chanting in his head as he watches blood bubble up out of his coffee cup.

And that's it for the two-episode Season 4 premiere. I have to say I think things are on a good track for the season. Everyone in the Titans has finally put aside their differences and can now work together, so it will be interesting to see where things go with Mother Mayhem, Sebastian (who will become Brother Blood) and the cult of Azarath. Most of all it will be good to see the Titans back in San Francisco at their home base, and maybe they'll get to battle some other villains throughout the season. 

New episodes of Titans stream Thursdays on HBO Max.

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