The Rebel Princess – Episode 11 – Recap

Previously on: our heroine was rescued after having been kidnapped by a group wanting vengeance against her husband (who had destroyed their land and villages.) These guys were kind of losers, but they were also being backed up by unknown sources from the capital, which made rescuing her difficult until a “freak training accident” involving grenades to the face manages to get rid of the imperial representative. Also, it turns out that the heroine’s loyal maidservant Jin’er is actually in love with Prince #3 (A’Wu’s childhood romance) and has just been manipulated into putting on A’Wu’s clothes and perfumes and going over to pay the drunken Prince a comforting visit. Yeahhhhhhh….

So anyhow, Jin’er is dressed up like A’Wu and perfumed up (with A’Wu’s perfumes) and sent in to see Prince #3. Who has been drinking and staring at his pictures of A’Wu. Fade to black.

Back at the court, the Emperor is not paying much attention things, the Grand Vizier is standing around smirking a lot, and the Crown Prince is starting to be the one saying “approve” to courtly proposals when news rushes in that A’Wu is found and okay, and that XQ has survived well. Prince #2 and Lord Huan exchange alarmed glances. The Crown Prince is overjoyed, bless his little heart. But the Emperor, who has been just sitting slumped over, laughs and then breaks down in tears. News also comes to Aunty Empress. She’s honestly relieved about this also, as are Mom and Brother.

A’Wu, meanwhile, is learning about the travails of frontier life, such as only bathing once a month or having to hike ten miles to bathe in the rivers. Worse, this applies to her husband, too. Worse still, no one at the fort has any sense of style AT ALL. A’Wu, however, is missing Jin’er and hopes she’s okay.

(She is, but Prince #3 is having a bit of a brood anyway). Aaaaand that’s when news of A’Wu being found arrives.

A’Wu has also started asking questions about her husband. Apparently, he has no hobbies other than being busy, reading books, and practicing swordsmanship. (Boring). A’Wu also gets into a spat with one of the head maidservants, Xing’er, who makes the mistake of being too much of a stuck-up smartass and also annoying.

Jin’er, meanwhile, hears the other maids gossiping about her.

A’Wu, meanwhile, is about to have to deal with Xing’er’s older, fatter, bossier counterpart, Mrs. Lu. A’Wu orders that they go and kneel in the courtyard, regardless of their rank. I have a feeling that the court versus country discipline/manners thing is going to cause problems pretty soon.

Not to be suppressed, Mrs Lu heads over to XQ to complain about things….not that it actually does any good. XQ backs up his wife immediately and goes back to discussing politics. He and his men are monitoring the royal family’s activity.

Oh, the current crisis is: the Emperor’s brother, under pretext of a friendly visit, has shown up with 150,000 soldiers. Hah. All the ministers are milling around and flapping their sleeves a bunch, as they tend to do. Prince #2 is hanging around in the background, not at all suspiciously. The Crown Prince has sent for the Grand Vizier, but he and his smirk haven’t shown up yet at all. This guy, King J, was the runner-up for the throne back in the day and now is probably coming back for his revenge and just dues. Whats worse, he’s a skilled soldier and has veteran troops and then have none. None at all.

(Prince #2 sends a looooong, considering look at Lord Huan).

Possibly because their main general is kind of busy trying to get his wife to look him in the face. But the boy does got game, though, and has soon convinced her to go for a walk with him. (All the troops cheer, when they see her, lol, and XQ tells her just to roll with it.)

So. XQ hasn’t been around much because he’s been over at the border…sending Liupan Guy (okay, fine, Helan Zhen) back home. Miraculously, he survived one arm being cut off and falling into a bottomless chasm, although I’m going to guess not by turning himself into a mechanical spider-legged hybrid sustained by the Dark Side of the Force and hatred. HZ is the only remaining son (albeit illegitemate) of the king of Hulan and the heir. However, he also has a cousin-rival for that position, who was the one who actually destroyed Liupan in an attempt to displace HZ from the throne and lay the blame on XQ.

XQ let HZ go back to fight his cousin so they can squabble amongst themselves–which works out for his benefit and the safety of the realm. A’Wu is impressed by his planning skills. But then she points out that XQ is using her as a pawn in his plans as well, and that she doesn’t like it.

He tries to change the subject, but she calls him a coward for it. He replies that she does not want to hear the truth, but if she’s strong enough and willing, he will.

XQ says: There was a border emergency. On our wedding night. It was absolutely no coincidence. I did not want to marry you and I was also forced into it. Your father set this all up because he wants my army. I have absolutely no desire to be involved in capitol plots and didn’t want to get between you and your true love. The so-called border emergency was just me getting the hell out of Dodge because I’m scared of your psycho grand vizier father.

A’Wu is mostly impressed that he’s not actually in cahoots with her father. Unfortunately, this means she realizes that her father is behind most of what’s been happening. She breaks down and asks for some privacy, but then calls him back.

Hey, a hug! That’s definitely progress on both their parts!

Xiao Qi tells her that she is his princess now and his woman. She’s not allowed to be weak. The camera then wanders discreetly off, so I’m going to assume that this is our official fade-to-sex.

Back at the capital, Grand Vizier Lord Wang Dad is taking some night air when he sees his son coming in through the back gate….and orders him to go back home and pretend to be a happy couple with Huan Mi since her father’s at home. Also, if your concubine has a boy, he’s going out to a farm and by farm, I mean we’re going to expose him on a rock. We need the Huan Family’s support, OK? So I need a legitimate male grandchild.

Brother Su points out that: the Xie Family is no more, the Crown Prince is in a stable position, and the Empress is in power. Shouldn’t that be enough? (No.)

Prince #2, meanwhile, is cuddling up with his concubine….wait. Wait. Wait. Is his girlfriend also Brother Su’s wife, Huan Mi? HOOOOoooo BOY.

Back at the fort, the two snooty girls A’Wu press-ganged into being her junior handmaids, are begging for help from Mrs. Lu (the fort’s steward and also their aunty). A’Wu susses out that they actually hope to catch XQ’s eye and become concubines. A’Wu says: I don’t mean to punish them. Just throw them out of the house. NOW.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 11 – Recap

PREVIOUSLY ON:  A’Wu was kidnapped by flying ninjas who bear a grudge against her husband. He, meanwhile, is prevented from galloping directly to the rescue by rather suspiciously-timed orders which require his presence at a military parade. Instead of, y’know, guarding the border. He’s got a plan to get around that, but then again so do the ninjas, and theirs involves suicide bomb vests and decoys wearing A’Wu’s clothes.

Anyhow: back at camp, news comes that the imperial envoy is on his way. And thus, with much slow-mo and dramatic flapping of banners, beating of drums, and slinking about in black cloaks, it begins.

Xu Shou and his escort ride into the camp to watch the military parade, which, to this show’s budget’s credit, is pretty impressive for the first five original shots, but gets less so when they start repeating.

So naturally we cut away to something far less interesting: Prince #3 kneeling at the palace door, while the Emperor refuses to see him. Eh? Ah, it’s to keep suspicions from the Empress low. But she is merely nervous in general, given that the ostensibly-insane Emperor is now a lot less predictable. And she feels that there is some sort of third party involved in all this…

Meanwhile the parade progresses. XQ and Xu Shou ride down to observe it closer. Liupan Guy, A’Wu, and their cohort, observe from behind a rock. XQ’s guys suddenly accelerate, leaving XS and his bodyguards trapped inside a ring of shields. And then the grenades roll in. Well that was excessive. What happened to just stabbing people?

Liupan Guy and his men now sound the attack. This involves ninjas jumping out of water barrels, because of course it does. But at least XQ gets to actually draw his sword and do something.

But! Decoy XY and others are up on a tower and A’Wu is elsewhere.

XQ orders that his men clear the way.

The decoy guy with XY says: face me in single combat! (btw, XY do you like me y/n/maybe?)

And then a couple of archers try to shoot XQ when he rides forward but that doesn’t work. And then Swordsgirl arrives and kills Decoy Guy and Xiaoye falls off the tower and XQ grabs her…only for everyone to realize at that moment that she’s fake. He then throws her far enough away that the suicide vest going off doesn’t get him, or apparently anybody else.

Poor XQ is just standing there kind of in shock, but fortunately this is when Liupan Guy and A’Wu do make their appearance.

Liupan Guy says: face me in single combat!

XQ says: OK, sure.

And, when his men protest, he says: Trust me.

So he gallops off after them but hasn’t caught up by the time they reach the rickety looking rope bridge over the bottomless cavern that is the boundary between the barbarian steppes and China.

Liupan Guy says, hey, don’t worry, I’ll marry you!

A’Wu says: Even if he doesn’t kill you, I will.

And then the arrows start flying. Liupan Guy rushes A’Wu towards the bridge, but then….

Hah, XQ is on the other side of it. And it’s a three-on-one fight (at least before the other soldiers start showing up, so, seems like his sidekicks are sensible enough to ignore orders when they need to). XQ takes care of that side of the bridge, but Liupan Guy still has A’Wu–and A’Wu still has the suicide belt. She screams for him not to come over (and LG threatens to throw her over the edge).

XQ says: We can all die together then.

Liupan Guy says: FINE.

So he throws himself and A’Wu off the bridge, but XQ cuts his hand off and catches her. Very romantic. Finally.

Back in the capital, Wan’ru has heard that #3 is back. And….she’s upset that he hasn’t taken revenge for his mother and is still obsessed with the enemy’s daughter. Who used to be her best friend, let us not forget. Jin’er is also there.

Grand Vizier Dad comes over to let Aunty Empress know that no, there has been no news of A’Wu and that it would take several days for any to get there, anyway.

Wan’ru is putting on the crocodile tears for Jin’er, but it’s just an opening gambit. She wants to know what Jin’er’s feelings are towards the Grand Vizier Dad. Jin’er answers that her interest is Prince #3, actually, and she’s been helping A’Wu all these years just so, if they get together, she can be close to them both. Wan’ru looks honestly affected at this, but she also sees an opportunity.

A’Wu, meanwhile, is busy having nightmares but wakes up to hear XQ asking the doctors when she’s going to wake up (it’s been two days). His sidekicks try to reassure him, but he’s not really happy with himself for letting this all happen in the first place.

Knowing that A’Wu is listening, however, he goes into apologize to her and assure her that he can send her back home if she wants to go and not stay.

A’Wu doesn’t really want to accept his help or his presence, but she’s too weak to drink her medicine herself. So XQ, very romantically, spoon-feeds her and then tucks her back in when she falls asleep again.

Wan’ru, meanwhile, is still being showered with presence by the Crown Prince. It’s not enough to assuage her anger, and her plans for Jin’er don’t bode well for A’Wu.

Back at the barracks, XQ is sidling up to change A’Wu’s bandages. Vvvvvvery romantic. She’s not having any part of it, though. He promises to send her home whenever she wants….as long as she’s fine. But even this is coming on kind of strong, because she’s looking kind of terrified. Poor guy only wants his wife to like the things he does and the places he does. His wife, meanwhile, is wondering exactly what is going on here with her pounding heart, strange new feelings, etc.

So we cut back to Wan’ru dressing Jin’er up in nice clothes. And the next episode is “Zi Tan (#3) mistakenly identified Su Jin’er as Wang Xuan”), so….

One more episode. Just one. Just one, I promise!

The Rebel Princses – Episode 10 – Recap

Previously on: our heroine was kidnapped by flying ninjas who have a grudge against her husband, and is in eventual danger when their plot comes into fruition but a lot more immediate danger from the crazily jealous ninja girl. Her husband has been prevented, by nefarious plots, from going directly to the rescue. Her faithful maidservant (who is actually in love with the guy who our heroine is in love with) went to go fetch said guy so he could go help look, despite the fact that he’s supposed to be under house arrest. Remarkably, everyone else is even less useful.

So Prince #3 and Jin’er have been searching, somehow accompanied by soldiers. They aren’t finding anything but keep at it. News of this reaches the Lord Xie in his exile. He wants to see the boy….to chew him out for being concerned for a woman who is a) the daughter of their enemy, the Wangs, b) married to someone else. Lord Xie is unimpressed with the idea that #3 is trying to redeem himself for abandoning A’Wu before: it’s not possible to make a comeback for something like that, and anyway, we have a blood feud going. #3 says, sure, you’re right, but I do want her to be safe. Lord Xie fumes a bit.

A’Wu and her captors have stopped for the night.

Meanwhile elsewhere, Grand Vizier Dad has arrived somewhere and finds some guy (? the governor of the city?) begging for mercy for allowing the princess to have been kidnapped on his watch.

Dad says: listen up. I don’t have anything against you, but I’ll have your entire family buried alive if she is harmed. The guy then begs his way in to see the Eldest Princess (I think he means A’Wu’s mother, but who he gets is A’Wu’s sister in law, her useless brother’s ignored wife). She sends for A’Wu’s mother….who everyone has been carefully keeping the news away from. (We’re going to learn later why Wifey doesn’t like this family and it’s a doozy. I mean, other than the obvious reasons why.)

Mom is, of course, shattered to hear that something has happened to A’Wu.

At the inn, Xiaoye and A’Wu are at it again. Xiaoye makes A’Wu eat bread that has fallen on the floor, but A’Wu does get her hands untied in the bargain….until one of the guys brings in some nice stew the Young Master ordered for A’Wu specially. HAH, lol, A’Wu locks XY outside when she goes out to throw the soup away. Then she….sets the door on fire?

Liupan Guy says: don’t panic, just make sure the horses are all tied down.

Back at home, Grand Vizier Dad arrives. Mom is still passed out. He is able to tell the brother that he’s sent word to Xiao Qi and this should allow him to take action himself. Brother doubts that XQ (who ran off on the wedding night) actually cares, but Dad points out that he is allied with the Wang Family now, not to mention a danger to the Emperor. If he doesn’t toe the line, he’ll get his one way or the other.

Brother then finds the time to complain about his wife. (Really, can’t blame her too much: her husband has been ignoring her in favor of knocking up concubines, and yet she takes the blame for not producing grandchildren.)

Elsewhere, Prince #2 is assuring his faceless and nameless girlfriend that she’ll be there with him when he becomes king. Trust him. (I wouldn’t, but…)

Prince #3 and Jin’er are heading back to the capital now. They’re not giving up on A’Wu, but there is still the Lord Xie, looking suspicious.

Back at the caravan, A’Wu gets caught, again. But! XQ’s Swordsgirl Sidekick is there! It’s a rescue! Not a very good one, because we spend about three minutes just in one section of the corridor-set, dodging behind walls and they’re all the same wall! A’Wu takes command. They obviously can’t escape together, or right now. She knows that there is some sort of thing happening, using her as bait, in three days, and that XQ is the target. She’s safe enough–for the next three days–and so decoys off the pursuit, sending them with the message: Tell XQ three days–I’ll be waiting.

Swordsgirl stays to defend the princess secretly and the other guy goes out to carry word.

Meanwhile, the poor governor guy has arrived home and now that he upset Mama Wang, he’s really worried about his continued existence, lol. He and his wife and family are going to make a run for it.

Back at the caravan, Xiaoye is about to get raked over the coals, and not just the ones that are still smoldering because she let the prisoner burn down the inn. So, this girl has kind of an interesting character, or would if she was given a bit more time. She’s in love with Liupan Guy and totally jealous; but she’s also at least nominally focused on their revenge plot and doesn’t want that endangered, either. Also, I think at least one of those guys is in love with her.

OH MY GOSH HE ORDERS THAT ONE OF HER ARMS GET CUT OFF. This prompts A’Wu to speak up in her defense and Liupan Guy to decree that she’s goign to stay in his rooms for the night. For safety.

Back at the governor’s house, a woman comes to the door. She says: if you want to live, follow me. So he goes off for a meeting with Lord Huan.

OKAY. So I think I’m getting the hang of this. Grand Vizier Wang’s son (Su) is married to a Huan daughter. I think that Prince #2 is also a Huan, or at least is in league with the Lord Huan. So, here we go.

Speaking of which, #2 shows up.

Liupan Guy is at the “if we met in a different lifetime, do you think we’d still be enemies” stage of their relationship. It seems that he is the child of a Liupan princess who was raped by a Hulan prince, but was later accepted into the Hulan royal family since they were getting underpopulated….Ahhhhh, was this one of the guys that XQ killed back in episode 1? Heh. Liupan Guy tried to go back and get his mother and sister out of the warzone, but it was too late. He now has a few loyal followers from the Liupan survivors, but that’s it.

He’s dead set on revenge. Except that the thought of killing A’Wu makes him a little unhappy. Oh this strange thing called sex love….

Back at the palace, the Emperor is getting a secret message from Lord Xie about the plan to kill Xiao Qi. Someone named Xu Shou is going to take over the army when he dies. Prince #3 is on his way home.

Meanwhile, Xiaoye, much subdued, shows up with clean clothes and washwater for A’Wu. She pays her debts, and she owes her existence to Liupan Guy and also is in love with him. It’s okay. She can deal with it. If he needs her to die, she will die for him and for their revenge!

A’Wu says: even though we’re not friends….woman to woman, it’s not a good idea to be infatuated with someone to this degree. Okay? Think it over, kiddo.

Cut to, uh oh. Xiaoye is dressed in A’Wu’s clothes. The other guys salute her for her courage, and the one guy who’d always been hitting on her before shows up, too, and promises to stay with her.

A’Wu then spots the imperial envoy’s emblem on Liupan Guy’s robes and blanches a little. But worse is to come. Oh shit, they’re going to put a suicide vest on her….

….LIKE THE ONE POOR XIAOYE HAS ON.

Liupan Guy advises her to pray that they kill Xiao Qi easily, since that means she’ll be in less danger…and then he can take her back to the steppes with him.

Meanwhile, back at the army camp, Xiao Qi and his men are standing around in their armor, fretting over whether Swordsgirl is going to be able to do the bodyguarding all by herself. And, it does look like the decoy trick is going to work on her….

END EPISODE. So, given that this is episode 10, I’m starting to be a little impatient with the device used for Xiao Qi’s characterization, which is to have him standing quietly in the background while his sidekicks bicker amongst themselves. It’s a good setup, it’s a good trick, but he has got to do something every so often and do it well. Considering that episode 11 is apparently titled “Xiao Qi heroically rescues Wang Xuan,” we’ll see….

The Rebel Princess – Episode 9 – Recap

[Previously: our heroine was kidnapped by flying ninjas, motives unknown–but her husband suspects that it’s aimed at him.]

XQ continues: if I’m the target, then she’s heading this way. He divides his forces and sends them out. And as for the guy (Xu Shou) who ordered them to do a parade?–the guy who knew she’d been taken and commands us to not go after her?

XQ says (and man, his quiet, soft voice is positively chilling here in the best possible way): entertain him well. Take very good care of him.

The sidekicks salute, beaming.

Meanwhile, A’Wu’s maidservant has gone to get Prince #3. This involves, unfortunately for him, leaving his house arrest. Oh, oh gosh. Looks like maidservant (Jin’er) has a crush on him, if her reaction to his giving her a cloak means anything. Hoooo boy.

So A’Wu’s kidnappers are sitting around discussing things. Their boss has ordered that she not be harmed. On the other hand, her being so pretty means that Xiaoye is going to torture her. Cue Xiaoye, who may or may not be a swordsgirl but definitely is someone to be careful around.

Back at home, Brother and Dad are carefully keeping the news from Mom. Brother puts on his very best face, but it’s hard on the poor boy.

And, at the kidnapping lair, the titular young master is….in bed in his underwear, being fed medicine by someone. Not an auspicious beginning. (Especially with Xiaoye, his intensely jealous female minion, still in the room.) He promptly throws XY out. A’Wu points out that a) he’s sick, b) he’s not going to kill ber, c) if he wants her to be useful, he’d better not harm her.

So this guy is from the Liupan Clan, and his grudge is against XQ because XQ wrongfully killed his family, it seems.

Back at the palace, the Emperor is awake and playing chess against himself. He’s not really in his right mind, though, it seems, and the Empress can’t get any useful help or information out of him. (He might be pretending.) She leaves, frustrated. (he is pretending, but the eunuch who is the spy for the Wangs hasn’t figured it out yet.)

A’Wu says: I heard that the Liupan had it coming when they broke their treaty oaths.

Liupan Guy promptly attempts to strangle her.

(outside, lol, one of the guys attempts to sidle up to XiaoYe, only to find a dagger in the way. She, however, is focused on her jealousy of A’Wu.)

Liupan Guy then collapses, with blood from the mouth. A’Wu grabs his knife, frees her hands, and climbs out a window. She gets to the horses, but at this point XY whacks her on the head with a stick and is about to do worse before the others catch up with them.

Empress Auntie does seem to be genuinely worried about A’Wu, because she’s asking Grand Vizier Dad for any news. He’s pieced together the information about the fake funeral/corpse, and that they are heading for the border (XQ’s territory).

Prince #2, meanwhile, has his finger in the pie to at least some degree. They think, or at least say: that Liupan Guy is working with the exiled Duke Xie and they’ll take out XQ. #2 is slightly worried at the fact that XQ dead means Xu Shou in control of the army, while he, Prince #2, still has no military support.

Meanwhile elsewhere, the Crown Prince is also upset about A’Wu being missing. He wants to issue a royal decree and mobilize massive forces, but all those old guys aren’t actually letting him. Wan’ru uses her feminine wiles to soothe and flatter him. Poor guy. He means well!

A’Wu is calm but defiant in the face of XY–which gets her a ladlefull of water to the face–but she merely goes ahead and continues to wash up anyway.

Back at the fort, some guy burns a message before XQ shows up to talk to him. XQ notices but says nothing. I’m guessing this is Xu Shou. He’s a peach.

Back at A’Wu, she’s meeting with Liupan Guy again. He thanks her for not killing him and then hits on her some more, just so she’s nice and sorry about the whole not-killing him thing. Outside, meanwhile, Liupan’s sidekicks finally hear enough that they get worried AKA jealous enough to try bursting in again. A’Wu is worried enough at this point that she’s thinking about trying the stabbing thing again. (She can’t go through with it).

XQ orders Sidekick to watch Xu Shou closely and not prevent him from doing anything. They are pretty strongly sure he’s involved.

A’Wu is still trying to keep Liupan Guy off of her, with little success. She finally tries the what would your mother think of this card, only to get slapped. But then she does stab him with her hairpin, so there’s that…..and then she threatens to kill herself and disrupt their plans that way.

The Emperor, meanwhile, confesses that despite his love for A’Wu, he’s willing to sacrifice her to save his son. And so he has…

Liupan Guy wants to change the plan, meanwhile: he wants A’Wu.

Meanwhile! The world’s most inept cavalry buy themselves a seat on a random peasant cart, rattling along to an eventual rescue.

A’Wu and Liupan Guy, meanwhile, have a bit of a chat in the carriage as they’re moving out. He’s doing this for his mother, you see…she’s dead.

AND HERE IS WHERE I STOP FOR THE NIGHT. MODERATION IN ALL THINGS, INCLUDING BINGE-WATCHING CHINESE DRAMAS, AMIRITE?

WandaVision S01E07 – Breaking the Fourth Wall

Well, here we go. It’s 7:30 a.m., I’ve got a big mug of heated chocolate flavored beverage, and I kind of wander how salty I’m going to get. Is this episode 7 of 8 or 7 of 9?

The Previously On recaps the previous episode, and then we open up to Wanda in bed (alone), intercut with a reality-show confessional style talking-straight-to-the-camera segments, and straight-up flashbacks. Tommy and Billy helpfully dart in to provide extra drama, uh, we mean exposition. Their game controllers keep changing types, and then vanished completely.

WandaVille reality is glitching in a serious way at this point, and no amount of hiding under the blankets is going to help that. Additionally, the red twin reports that it’s really noisy inside his head. Wanda ignores this in favor of a “quarantine-style staycation” day. Heh. But then her almond milk keeps glitching into different types and bottles. Wanda ignores this, too.

Back outside in the S.W.O.R.D. “temporary retreat,” (eight miles further out) we get our daily dose of jackbooted types doing important jackbooted things, like setting up tents and bustling around in black minivans. Director Hayward and his slightly-brown female minion make it known to the audience that they’re going to “launch today.” Oh noes! Anyway.

Vision, meanwhile, has woken up over by the ex-S.W.O.R.D. base now turned circus…and is promptly told a) good job for being in makeup alread, b) he’s late for practice with the escape artist….Darcy. Pwah.

Back at home, questions are being asked. Such as: where’s Dad?…why did Uncle P say he’d been dead? (Where is Uncle P?) Also, if he’s not our uncle, who is he, Mom? Wanda has a miniature breakdown at this point, admitting that she has no answers and is beginning to leave that everything is meaningless. It’s Agnes and Mephisto, isn’t it.

AND THEN AGNES COMES BREEZING IN. Riiiiiiiiiight. She drags the twins off to allow Wanda some alone time, despite their reluctance. Red twin, who seems to be the only one allowed a personality, wants to stay and take care of his mother, but he gets hustled out the door. The house glitches some more, but Wanda un-glitches it and then keeps repeating to her invisible psychologist-slash-the-audience that she’s fine. Fine. Fine.

Back with our most diverse and least likeable leads, it turns out that, SURPRISE SUPRISE WAIT FOR IT OH NO HOW COULD HE WHAT A SHOCK, Hayward was trying to reanimate Vision from the get-go. (In contravention to Vision’s own legal living will, BTW.) Of course, it wasn’t working until Wanda actually made her deal with the devil or whatever else she was doing.

The actual tragedy of this situation is that my hot chocolate has all gone away.

People. “Weapons” aren’t this really terrible, mystical thing that needs a high-level government lab and white-coated scientists to manufacture. A weapon is a rock. A weapon is a sharpened screwdriver. A weapon is half a ton of fertilizer and some other stuff. A weapon is person with a book and a vision and the ability to force other people to see themselves as expendable. Fuck you. Stop pretending that weapons R&D is a catch-all bogeyman and get a fucking grip.

Oh gods. So.

Monica and Agent Woo meet up with Monica’s engineer friend who just so happened to be able to provide her with a twenty-ton neutron, photon, peon, and moron-shielded mobile shelter to re-enter the barrier, in secret, without Hayward knowing about it.

It’s some army Colonel, in uniform. What the everliving hell. Explain to me how you were exactly able to commandeer this really expensive and important piece of MILITARY EQUIPMENT without Hayward’s approval? Without Hayward’s knowledge? How…wha…???? People, when your cartoon reality show has better internal logic than your “real world” events, that is BAD WRITING.

The Colonel is a woman of color, but that’s really just a cherry on the top.

OH WOW HA NO IT ISN’T. SHE CAME AS A FAVOR TO MONICA BECAUSE SHE KNEW MONICA’S MOTHER. Golly. I’m imagining S.W.O.R.D 2.0, under Monica, being run as a gal-pals network. And I’m imagining how, while this is going to be written as The Best Thing Ever, having all these Stronk Women in charge!, what I’m thinking is what is going to happen when these completely unprofessional and incompetent widgets get mad at each other for refusing to share makeup tips or one department buys out all the Warm Beige concealer.

Do I hate women characters? Fuck no. I just hate having to watch unlikeable, incompetent, condescending, personality-less womannequins who are IN CHARGE because everyone else is sooooooo much worse. Explain to me why I should like watching a show where everyone is merely a different shade of unlikable and incompetent?

Back at the circus, Vision is trying to break through to Darcy and finally does. Explain to me why he didn’t start with the de-brainwashing zap? They get interrupted by a guy in striped tights, who attempts to grab Darcy but soon finds what REALLY happens when you try to chain down a strong woman. But what makes this scene really, really, really terrible is watching Darcy waddle-run away afterwards. What the fuck. That’s not even a girly-girl run, it’s an old-lady-in-long-skirts-who-just-stole-the-last-piece-of-pie run. What. Why was that shot even left in the show? It makes no sen…whatever, nothing matters. Never mind.

Back over at Wanda, the house glitches some more. She admits she doesn’t know what’s going on and how to fix it. Aand now we hear a voice answering her! “Do you think this is maybe what you deserve?” Wanda freaks out, because the…audience? isn’t supposed to answer back. It might be worth pointing out that the voice asking that question is  male.

And then there’s another one of those ads. It’s for Nexus, the medication which can solve your existential ennui by anchoring you to reality. Or A reality. (So….like inferior dried frog pills, then?) Side effects might include demonic possession.

Meanwhile, Agnes and the boys are on her couch. Red Twin (why is only one of them allowed to speak?) says he likes it there with Senor Scratchy…because it’s quiet in her house. And so is Agnes. Agnes starts paying a lot more attention to Green Twin at this point, because she’s not going to be the one who tells the ten-year-olds with magical powers that their mother is insane.

Monica, meanwhile, is getting suited up. I’d mock the show’s efforts to paint her as a trailblazing astronaut-equivalent, but at this point what I really want is for this damn episode to go back to Wanda. And Vision. The main characters. The ones who have personality, motivations, desires, and conflicts. The people I actually care what happens to. Oh, and Agnes, because Agnes is interestingly wacky even when she’s going to turn out to be the villain.

OH MY GOD, WOO SAYS “GODSPEED, CAPTAIN.” Goddamnit, she is not trailblazing in unknown frontiers, she is not that special, and she is not freaking interesting! If you wanted to make her any of those things, you should have started by letting her be any of those things. Incidentally, whatever did happen to the guy S.W.O.R.D. sent in through the sewers in the first episode?

So Monica takes off in the rover (at quite a clip, one might add), only to crash right into the barrier and stick. Agent Woo recognizes that the rover is being re-written, and radios Monica to get out. She jumps clear (somehow losing her helmet?), as the rover gets ejected….as a jacked-up pickup.

Monica then (sans helmet) walks through the barrier on her own instead. Because, as the voiceover helpfully informs us, she’s is the most powerful person they know. Also, her eyes have turned blue and she’s seeing energy fields. She ditches her suit (AFTER ALL THE TIME THEY SPENT CLICK-CLACKING YOU INTO IT, THAT WAS KIND OF FAST) and takes off running. I’d also like to point out two things at this point: a) her under-suit is bicolored, kinda like a superhero costume (hmmmmmmmmm), b) it’s not really a flattering costume.

We cut back to Vision and Darcy. Darcy is providing unhelpful and unusuable exposition regarding Vision’s death. They keep running into random red lights, road crews, etc. Vision tells the audience he feels Wanda is trying to keep him away from home….and he’s not amused. You keep that spine, boy. It’s all that you’ve got going for you.

Vision wants to know what he is now, after his physical body was killed. Darcy, being a scientist with a STEM degree and lots of important, plot-relevant science skills, provides a very unhelpful affirmation of their love storyline. And Vision finally, also, breaks with the TV-style plot and decides to head out on his own, to go do what needs to be done.

Monica crashes into the WandaVision residence and immediately gets ejected….except that Monica manages to get through to Wanda that it is HAYWARD’s fault, HAYWARD has done this, HAYWARD has manipulated her into becoming THE VILLAIN, HAYWARD is going to burn down the town, ARE YOU READING ME WANDA, THIS IS HAYWARD’S FAULT OVER.

I can’t do this anymore. That’s it. I’m done with this show.

Anyhow, yeah, Agatha Harkness. Whatever.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 8 – Recap

So A’Wu is getting her hair done for the wedding, to the accompaniment of sad flute music. She goes off for the departing-from-home ceremony, and it appears that her mother did survive the previous episode, so that’s good. Well, after all, I guess even a Grand Vizier isn’t going to straight-up murder his wife just for helping his daughter attempt to elope.

Grand Vizier Dad is embarking on some last patriarchal admonitions when A’Wu (rather rudely, but very satisfyingly) ignores him to bow farewell to her mother instead and then walks out. Dad is nonplussed but that’s what you get when you marry your daughter off against her will.

The wedding procession proceeds….XQ is wearing armor under his clothes. I hope this means there are going to be ninjas.

In the ceremonial hall, however, A’Wu is being slightly less than cooperative and doesn’t take her cues properly and also refuses to make eye contact with her new husband. (Minister Wen is in the audience and for some reason seems satisfied with this?)

XQ is recieving the post-nuptial congratulations (AKA: drinks) when an urgent message rushes in! They’re needed at the front!

Lol, cut to A’Wu’s faithful maidservant suggesting that she take her fancy wedding hat off and take a nap, it’s been a while. But this isn’t allowed, only the husband is allowed to do it. Fortunately, the news comes in at this point. A’Wu is about to storm out of the bridal chamber before the women stop her.

XQ, still in his fancy wedding clothes, takes off.

Sidekick goes to report to her that, sorry, ma’am, it was an emergency. But the boss told me to say goodbye for him.
HAH, A’Wu says: I did not think your hero general was a coward who runs away at critical moments.
Sidekick says: Ma’am, there is, uh, context.
A’Wu says: DON’T FUCKING TALK TO ME ABOUT CONTEXT OKAY, MY LIFE HAS BEEN CONTEXT.

Well, she’s dropping truth bombs on the wrong guy. Sidekick’s a nice person and he also didn’t have anything to do with what’s been happening to you. Poor guy doesn’t deserve to be made to grovel to his boss’s wife.

A’Wu orders Sidekick to go take her hairpin to XQ and tell him that she is NOT TO BE PUT ASIDE LIKE THIS.

Not that XQ is particularly happy about it, but he is a dutiful and loyal general who gallops off gamely (the actor is clinging to his saddlefront, but still.)

A’Wu dramatically rips off her fancy wedding hat.

Cut to: three months later. XQ is still at the front. He has been sending letters and gifts, to no avail. He says: keep sending them.

Prince #3, meanwhile, is hanging out somewhere waiting for…letters from the front?

A’Wu is taking it easy, meanwhile, and by taking it easy we mean getting drunk a lot. Her maidservant is trying to convince her to at least look at the letters XQ is sending, but no dice. However, she’s at least also ignoring the letters that #3 is sending, so…

But she does agree to go in to town for the lantern festival. They were invited by some lady, and the whole atmosphere is rather PTA-ish and twee, something which is slightly modified by the fact that Some Bearded Guy turns around and gives the camera a fishy look. He’s got accomplices! They’re moving in!

OH MY WORD LOL SHE JUST GOT KIDNAPPED BY A FLYING NINJA WHAT THE HELL HAAAAA

Not for this stylish mode to be outdone, they then smuggle her out of town in a coffin that they claim is infected with smallpox, a necessary step given that the city is sealed and people are busy searching for the missing, kidnapped princess. The soldiers are smart enough to try to open the coffin at least, but there is at least one dead body in there on the top layer. So the escape is made.

Back at the imperial palace, Wan’Ru has reached the point of (attempting) to prevent the Empress from doing things. The Empress has some sharp words to say about this, naturally.

The Emperor is technically awake, it seems, and Wan’ru has been taking care of him, an office which the Empress attempts to do. He rejects her, though, and she sweeps out. None of this has passed the notice of the eunuch on guard at the door.

Speaking of people we haven’t seen in a while, the Crown Prince shows up to comfort Wan’ru. She says that she was just trying to help and do her best! Prince #1 thanks her for it, and, uh oh I do not like her smirk. OH FUCK SHE REALLY IS PLOTTING VENGEANCE, she just offered to bear him a son. Poor guy. He kinda-sorta escapes his mother’s clutches and ends up in her hands.

News of the kidnapping has reached various ears at this point.

A’Wu’s brother wants to go and rescue her, but his father forbids it: it’s going to kill their mother if he leaves, too. Dad has already sent his own people to go get her. She’ll be fine. Go take care of your mother. (doorslam)

A’Wu’s maidservant is, meanwhile, hastening….somewhere. Ah, she’s gone to get #3.

Meanwhile, XQ’s assorted sidekicks are incensed over the fact that they (XQ) have been ordered (imperially so, so: no getting out of it) to attend a military parade and NOT go rescue his wife. What’s worse, the orders came after the day A’Wu must have been kidnapped. One of the slightly smarter sidekicks suggests that he order them to go rescue her.

XQ, however, has been quietly thinking it over. This obviously wasn’t the work of the barbarians, who have just had a defeat and need to regroup. It’s someone who is holding the princess hostage for leverage–either over the Grand Vizier….or me.

WandaVision S01E06 – All-New Halloween Spooktacular

So. In the first couple of episodes, our heroes on the outside (you know, the non-white male, the non-male white, and the non-white, non-male leads) had asked Wanda who had mercilessly trapped her in an idyllic suburban home, married to her true love, surrounded by generous neighbors, faced with low-stakes conflicts, and amply provided for. Later episodes revealed that Wanda was doing it to herself and is in fact terrorizing and mind-controlling said neighborhood with a glowy red fist.

I, however, am going back to my original prediction: someone else is behind it (probably Agnes). Here’s why I think it. During the incompetently-written staff meeting in the previous episode, one line stood out prominently. It was supposed to: it was clear, direct, and to the point. Director Hayward (a white male) referred to Wanda as “the principle victimizer,” “not the victim.” And by this line, the show writers have tipped their hand. Someone whom the show has coded as “bad, untrustworthy,”–a middle-aged white male who is not particularly physically attractive and occupies a position of authority–has identified someone whom we are primed to sympathize with as “not a victim.”

You see, in modern media, being a victim is a good thing.

Wanda cannot be a victimizer, because that is (usually, unless you’re targeting a conservative woman) a bad thing. Wanda must be a victim in this scenario because this is the only way she can remain a hero. A protagonist. A good guy. Someone with whom the audience can sympathize. Why can’t a protagonist–a hero, even–fail, fall, and, in the course of a story, do terrible things? Because failure to live up to a moral or ethical standard is not allowed. What are standards, anyway? Regret for past deeds is not allowed, because active protagonists aren’t allowed. Redemption is not allowed.

After all, that would just be blaming the victim–wouldn’t it?

Plus, as our Previously On points out, the Mind-Controlled-Guy never used the named “Wanda,” when telling Vision about being mind controlled. He just said “she”, “her.” So, yeah, at this point my money’s on Agnes, or even! Agnes’ never-actually-seen husband Ralph, upon whom strong suspicion is falling that he’s Mephisto or some such.

ANYHOW, so that’s my thoughts as of the end of the Previously On.

So the opening credits are filmed home-video style by one of the twins. I’m going to guess this is the 90s-sitcom homage (90s TV is a blank spot to me, because I didn’t watch it as a kid, but then so are the oughts and teens). My main question is, what is Agnes doing in their house going through their fridge?

After credits, the twins helpfully let us know that it’s Halloween, and Halloween means candy. One of them is dressed up as I’m guessing Dr. Strange, while the other one is dressed as “the cool twin.” Hah. Uncle Pietro, meanwhile, is snoring on the couch (“It’s four in the afternoon and I’m afraid he’s a vampire.” Hehhhhh) until he isn’t and between the three of them the boys make enough noise to bring Mama downstairs in her costume.

“Woah Mom, are you Old Red Riding Hood?” Pffft. Pietro also mocks the costume. The twins are also directly addressing the camera periodically.

Vision makes a very fast exit to guard the neighborhood trees against toilet-paper (that sounds SO wrong)–completely shutting Wanda down when she starts to protest that this is not how it’s suppos…ed…to…go…

Uncle Pietro and the non-lame twin dress up as…Wolverine? They have plans to use up the rest of the hair gel, that’s all I know. See, the sitcom parts of this show are funny! Especially when they’re interwoven with more serious, plot-relevant bits, such as Wanda’s mom-exasperation slash slow realization that she’s not in complete control of the plot anymore.

Unfortunately, we now switch back to the Real World (TM), where our white male authority figure is being berated for his decision-making inability by our non-white female and mocked by the white female. Hah. It’s unprofessional of him, but he does get one zinger in when he asks them which one is the sassy best friend.

Anyhow, he’s in Team Take Out The Threat, and while his thinking is one-dimensional, it is also largely correct given the data they have. Monica points out, however, that his thinking is one-dimensional. And, and, okay. What the hell kind of leader is this? No, what the hell? Seriously, THE LEADERSHIP WAS BETTER THAN THIS AT THE TIGER SANCTUARY WHERE IT WAS COMPRISED WASHED OUT EX-MILITARY AND MENTALLY ILL CAT LADIES….because at least they would explain to you why they were or weren’t doing something. That explaination was generally either, “we have orders not to,” “we don’t have orders to,” or, “we don’t have money.” And, occasionally, “because the tigers don’t like it.”

And thus, Monica concludes that her group of righteous (nonwhite+male) heroes have been sidelined for a reason. Fortunately, they do have at least one male on the team, because having Monica take out all their guards by herself would have been awkward. After stuffing their S.W.O.R.D. coworkers into a shipping container, they head off.

Back at the trick or treat, (“UNLEASH HELL, DEMONSPAWN!”….yeah, okay, I’m going to say Caroline Furlong called it) Wanda has reached the point of wondering why her brother looks different now? And has no accent?

But then it turns out (as Herb-slash-Frankenstein’s-Monster explains), there’s been a sudden rash of candy theft, jack-o-lantern smashing, and malicious and wanton silly-stringing that the neighborhood watch needs to investigate. Only….Vision isn’t on duty right then. Herb asks if Wanda wants him to do something, or change something, or…no? Okay, great. 

In fact, Vision wandering down a different street, watching some woman who is trying and failing to hang up her Halloween decorations, while silently crying.

We then have a commercial about how you should not trust sharks who deliver magic yogurt cups to you when you’re starving on a desert island and have no food.

Pietro explains why he’s there: to cause trouble and give her grief–it’s what she wanted. Isn’t it?. Why-why? He doesn’t know that….all he knows is he heard her calling and knew she needed him. On the one hand, aw.

So on the outside, our (non…look, you get the idea. If you haven’t, I’ll repeat it slowly. The people who are not middle-aged, Caucasian males holding positions of authority in government agencies, people who are sympathetic to our protagonists, and people who, and this is important, know that watching television is a very, very vital step to solving the world’s problems), sneak into one of the command tents so they can watch the WandaVision broadcast on TV.

Miss Doctor Lewis (wasn’t she an astrophysicist? I distinctly remember we had a whole scene where she was snooty to some other people who were just engineers or something) is also an expert hacker suddenly. Turns out Hayward has been able to look through the barrier for a while. He’s tracking Vision and his immediate surroundings. Turns out, people further from the center of town aren’t moving very much/don’t get very much processing power applied to them.

Vision, faced with this same realization, resumes his own form and takes off for an overhead view. He spots Agnes, dressed as a witch, in a car at the border. She claims to have gotten lost and Vision decides to free her. She immediately recognizes him as Vision, one of the Avengers….is he here to help? He confirms that he is Vision, but doesn’t remember the Avengers, and then she starts shouting that it’s because he’s dead. Dead. DEAD. Yeah, helpful.

Vision tells her that he’s trying to get outside and get in touch with forces who can help them but Agnes tells him that’s impossible. Wanda won’t let it happen, won’t even let them think about the outside. Okay, that is a blow to my theory but not an impossible one, because then Agnes starts cackling in a rather witchy fashion. Vision un-frees her and then strides off towards the outskirts of town.

Meanwhile. Monica (you know the drill), is about to get her ride back into the hex.–if you recall, the twenty-ton movable fallout shelter someone she just happened to know just happens to be able to deliver. Miss Doctor Lewis, however, tells her that the Hex has rewritten her at the molecular level and is continuing to do so. (THAT IS SOOOOOooooooOOOOOOO lame compared to getting your powers during a gunfight with space drug smugglers! Damn.)

Monica heroically declares that she’s Going To Help Wanda! Darcy decides to stay in the warm and safe place and continue hacking. Hayward still has something big hidden, because of course he does. It’s probably the hidden master file of the Trump Tapes.

Back in the straw maze, Pietro a) references hell again, b) asks Wanda where all the kids running around have been for the past few episodes, c) complements her on handling the ethics of her fantasy scenario just about as well as is possible. People get jobs! Couples stay together! New haircuts! But then he asks her: how did you do this?…you can tell me, I’m not your husband.

Wanda doesn’t know or can’t remember….and has a quick flash to Pietro as a corpse. She doesn’t want to think about this….or someone else doesn’t want her to.

Back at the base, our astrophycisist continues hacking into the director’s eyes-only files. He, meanwhile, has just told his people to move out, so….

Vision is at the barrier and forces his way painfully through. And collapses. Part of him flies back into the field, but the rest of him seems to be straight-up dissolving.

Inside, the twin dressed as Dr. Strange is sensing something’s off. They run to Mom.

Outside, somehow, Darcy is the only person who thinks that they should be helping the guy who just crawled out of hell-on-Earth (the SUBURBS, amiright?), and gets handcuffed to a Jeep for her pains. And if you’re thinking that being handcuffed to something large and immobile sounds like an overkill when there are plenty of soldiers around who can do the “arr, this one’s a feisty one” upper-arm grab just fine, well, just remember everything happens for a reason.

Inside, Pietro runs his mouth a little bit too much and Wanda punches him through the town square. Wanda freezes the simulation for more processing power and then, hm, looks like she expands the borders to bring Vision back in. (And Darcy, who as we recall, was handcuffed to a car, and most of the military camp, which gets transformed into a circus. Pwah.) Director Hayward, being the arrant coward that he is, runs for it and escapes. A woman in the back seat does glare at him, however.

The Rebel Princess – Episode 7 – Recap

Wan’Ru has come to visit A’Wu and ask if she’s seriously going to be marrying Xiao Qi. Then, OWWWWCH, she had a hairpin to give to A’Wu at her wedding with #3….and A’Wu says to keep it for the girl he does marry. Wan’ru presses it into her hand and exits quietly. A’Wu is hoping that #3 will hear from Wan’ru that she is happy to marry a war hero who rescued her from ninjas and will forget her, because that’s the sort of thing heroines do.

#3 and Lord Xie have been exiled. Guys, this is exactly opposite of what you should have done. You should have killed the men and left the women, like Concubine Xie, alive. But these guys are going to want vengeance and you’re just letting them loose. A few of the Xie retainers remain and come to see him off.

A’Wu’s family, meanwhile, is worried that she’s acting so normal.

Wan’ru, meanwhile, turns out, is doing exactly what A’Wu wanted her to do, and she’s doing it good and hard. Wan’ru blames A’Wu for sharing in the fortunes of the Wang Family (and misfortunes of the Xie Family), and so passes on the word of the XQ-A’Wu marriage to #3 with extreme prejudice. Wan’ru, also, wants revenge. Can’t exactly blame her, but being duplicitous towards a dumbass like the Crown Prince seems really unfair.

XQ, meanwhile, is trying to get his house (army camp lite, remember) set up so that the Shangyang Princess will not be put to discomfort or disgrace while she’s there. Sidekick grins slyly.

A’Wu’s mother arrives to pay her respects to Concubine Xie’s funeral tablet and #3. She wants to know what #3’s thoughts are re: A’Wu’s new marriage….and has just told him what the terms are.

So. Elsewhere, Prince #2 arrives…somewhere…? to beg Minister Chen to help him save the country! (??)

A’Wu’s mother is trying to convince #3 to leave the capital, it seems. She’s arranged everything: he can get out and be safe. Tomorrow. At midnight. Be there or be tortured horribly to death, probably.

Meanwhile, the Empress has arrived to pay a visit to A’Wu. But no amount of talking up XQ is going to assuage a broken heart. Empress promises anything in return if A’Wu is just going to be a good girl this once….but no, not to the extent of sparing her. Not that.

XQ is stalking around his decorated manor house to the accompaniment of brooding, ominous music, as one does when one is a brooding hero against whom marriage and assassination plots have been sprung. The music is ominous, because Minister Wen has shown up….with a dagger.

Which is not a smart thing to bring to a fight with not one, but two master swordsmen.
Minister Wen says: if you are going to marry A’Wu, then just go ahead and kill me and give my head to Lord Wang.
XQ says: and if I don’t marry her?
Minister Wen has to think this over a bit. What he has to say is of the utmost importance to the realm and is XQ man enough to hear it and act on it?

A few minutes later, XQ and Sidekick discuss: well, the Wang Family’s sudden rise prominence and assorted people’s falls does seem rather….coincidental, and now we’re going to be dragged into it via this marriage, but what can we do? Get out of town?
Sidekick says: Sure, that’d be smart, but do you actually want to leave the girl behind?
XQ says: Got it in one, kid.

So it appears that our hero is, well, kinda smitten.

Someone has just shown up at A’Wu’s room-slash-prison with drugged tea and is hustling her out to join #3 out in the boat. Her mother then shows up to put her seal of approval on the plan and hug her daughter farewell….and give her a box of unmarked gold. A’Wu kowtows until the lady-in-waiting drags her off, lol.

So the women are hurring down the road in the rain and, GUESS WHAT HAPPENS. GO ON. GUESS.

No, not that.

No, not that either.

A’WU TRIPS AND FALLS. (why? It’s not actually as if this scene even INVOLVES heights or handsome men.)

#3 isn’t at the boat….he’s still in the freaking temple. And remembering how his mother once told him to stay away from A’Wu, since politics were involved and the situation might get dicey if he did. A’Wu stands out in the rain, with only the lady-in-waiting’s tiny little umbrella, waiting. For hours.

Lord Grand Vizier Dad Wang, meanwhile, is at his own devotions, when his wife walks in. She demands to know, in front of his ancestors, whether it was him who poisoned her brother the Emperor. Or at least if he’s man enough to admit it. And when he does, she pulls out a knife and with trembling hand…

LOL. He just leans back and closes his eyes and waits with a serenely sarcastic expression….and finally his eyes just pop open again and he just tells her to put the knife down. Dude has got balls, gotta give him that. But he also stops her from killing herself, which she also, naturally, resents. And at this point news arrives that A’Wu has vanished.

Hah, XQ and his Sidekick are packing up to get the hell out of Dodge. They’re going to leave via the river…

A’Wu is still waiting, in the rain, by the river.

(The order has gone out to lock the city gates, and at this point this is when the absolute dumbass #3 realizes that A’Wu was going to elope with him). At least, down at the river, it has finally stopped raining. On the other hand, Dad has arrived. With ninjas.

He yells at her a bit, points out that #3 is a dumbass who didn’t show up, and is too stupid and cowardly to make a real run for it. And then gives her a half-hug, because even Grand Viziers have feelings.

A’Wu throws her hairpin (that #3 gave her) away and it breaks and falls by the rocks.

Presumably SO WHEN #3 DOES FINALLY SHOW UP, IN BROAD DAYLIGHT AND WELL AFTER THE BOATMAN HAS BEEN NINJA’D TO DEATH, HE CAN FIND IT AND REALIZE WHAT A FUCKING DUMBASS HE HAS BEEN. Ye gods this boy isn’t just a useless second lead, he’s a fucking moron. WW

WandaVision S01E05 – On a Very Special Episode – Recap

So after a brief recap, we zoom into the 70s and our odd couple parents attempting to get their respective favorite twins to stop crying and go to sleep. (“Oddly enough, Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man only made him cry harder.” Heh.) Wanda is at the point of attempting to magic the twins into submission, uh, we mean sleep, but it doesn’t work.
(“Why wouldn’t you do what I want?”)
Wanda thinks that they maybe just need more time to figure things out, but Vision’s opinion is that maybe means they need some help.
Cue Agnes rocking in in a, whoops, this must be the 80s outfit (I PREFER THE FAUX-70s STYLES AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT) on her way to Jazzercise and she has baby-soothing tips GALORE, gal-pal…except Vision freaks out and doesn’t want her to touch the twins.
Okay, see this is where the whole “the actors are playing it with several levels of staginess and it’s creepy” thing starts to register to my malconditioned nerd brain. Agnes freezes. And then asks if they should just start over from the top again. (the baby crying noises cut out while they stare at each other.)
Wanda, theatrically, tells Vision that AGNES IS HERE TO HELP WITH THE BABIES. And everything is fine again, except that Vision wants to know WHAT THE HELL IS UP. Wanda soothes him, (Agnes dodges out of the room in search of the hard liquor) and then suddenly the problem is solved with the sudden appearance of the three (??) -year old Tommy and Billy instead.
(Agnes is drinking directly from the bottle.)
After the credits, Monica is getting examined and possibly debriefed? Although it’s by a nurse, so I’m going to guess not. She has a recollection of: grief…and violation…and terror. Agent Wu and Miss Doctor Lewis arrive with pants, though, and Monica refuses to let the nurse run more tests and/or blood draws after it turns out that the scans they just took are blank. (Now me, I’d be really worried IF MY BRAIN SCANS TURNED OUT BLANK but hey, strong women are going to strong women, even if there’s only strong women around to strong woman at.)
We cut to the briefing, where Director Untrustworthy And Slightly Unattractive Middle-Aged White Guy (I forgot his name) starts out by crediting Captain Rambeau with their first-hand intel. They now know that Wanda is the principal victimizer, and not a victim.
OKAY, So. Almost immediately we run into a problem. Director UNSUMWG is trying to apply real-world logic to the situation, such as including the full history of Wanda’s association with the Avengers, Hydra, and America, while Agent Wu and other characters are operating on comic book logic, which is that if you help the good guys and they trust you, then you are a Good Guy. I would not have a problem with this setup (we are in a comic book universe), except that Agent Wu is completely snotty about correcting Director UNSUMWGUNSUMWG that WANDA IS ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS whereas you are white, middle-aged, male, not particularly attractive, and in a position of power that might otherwise be occupied by the attractive young black woman. Dick.
Is Director UNSUMWG Who Is Probably Going To Die In A Humiliating Way jumping to conclusions? Yes. That’s what UNSUMWGs do. Is everybody else, including Monica Rambeau, being snotty and insubordinate? Yes. And that, unfortunately, is what “heroes” do these days, too. Monica argues with the Director about Wanda being actively malicious, despite the fact that she herself reported feeling terrified and violated while under mind control.

Okay, one bad writing demerit to the authors. While Monica has a point that Wanda has no political agenda for, y’know, holding thousands of people hostage, this is something that the Director himself should also know, given, YEEEEEEEEK, the very next thing he brings up is that a) nine days ago, b) Wanda stormed the S.W.O.R.D. lab Vision’s body was in, c) resurrected it, d) AGAINST VISION’S PRE-WRITTEN WILL. (Also, that’s creeeeeepy, eeeeeek!)

And that’s it, that’s the briefing. What? Okay, you’re supposed to end a briefing with a plan, questions, or orders–that’s what gives the scene it’s hook. And while this scene does have a hook, it’s: “boy, I wonder what will happen in the next episode (of the thing I have no control over.)”
Back in the house, Tommy and Billy are plotting something involving a puppy in the sink.
(“What is this canine doing in my kitchen sink?”
“A doggy paddle…?”)
Vision enters, in his humanoid disguise form. He’s had, you see, a feeling that someone will be popping over.
(“HI GUYS!”)
…with a dog house.
Wanda magics up a collar for the newly-christened Sparky without making an effort to hide it from Agnes (who is looking the other way! NBD!) Vision freaks a little, but Wanda’s tired of hiding and after all, Agnes didn’t notice anything wrong when the kids went from babies to five year olds. Or, thirty seconds later, when they become ten year olds.
Back at the S.W.O.R.D. encampment, Monica and Miss Doctor Lewis have determined that they need a 10-ton fallout shelter to get back inside the barrier. Monica knows a handy eurospace….what the hell, I’m leaving that typo…engineer, but Darcy points out that there’s a hex (BECAUSE HEXAGONS, eheheh…eh…eh…no, no, no, I love the science, really I do I don’t believe in magic no of course not) that might just mind-wipe her anyway.
Monica wants to go back in despite what Wanda has done to her. We elide over the exactly why this is to have a brief discussion of how this whole setup (being able to potentially create the sets, costumes, etc, means that Wanda is FREAKILY, SCARILY, DANGEROUSLY powerful) except that naw, Captain Marvel is probably cooler. [I mean, she would be if you followed my suggestions, but naw, not really.]
Monica then does something that I don’t even know if the writers realize is 1) really insulting, 2) really stupid, 3) no, even dumber than that.
1) she pulls Agent Wu’s gun out of his holster without his permission. Do I have to go into how this is an improper thing to do? Do I have to point out how this is unlikely to happen with either a professional military officer or a trained FBI agent? Do I need to detail how denigrating this is to both characters?
2) What the fuck?
3) She fires the gun at clothes that are hanging on a clothes rack, in a tent. Do I need to go into more detail?

So, I don’t like this. I do not like or agree with the unwritten rules of this universe. I don’t like the fact that it’s dumb and so incredibly okay with being so. I don’t like the fashion in which it breaks the rules of reality, or that it expects me to follow said breaks without complaint or notice.  

The ACTUAL point of this scene, anyhow, is that Monica figures out that, since Wanda is changing whatever gets sent in, maybe they should send something in that doesn’t require change.
Anyhow, back in Wandaville: computers have arrived. And so, at Vision’s workplace, has an email from S.W.O.R.D., with enough information that it pushes Vision to release whats-his-face, the Indian coworker guy, from the hex. Diverse Coworker Guy begs Vision to stop “her”, it’s all “her,” “she’s in our heads”, “it hurts,” “please” “stop her,” but apparently this isn’t enough information for Vision to, you know, process.
Back at the house, the twins are starting to ask questions. Such as, how is Daddy at work when today is Saturday? Or at least, when, this morning was Saturday? And, did you have a brother, Mom?
The rest of our people are flying an 80s-era drone into town. And while Monica is on the speakerphone going “I just want to talk,” Director UNSUMWG-Who-Is-Obviously-A-Villain starts going “Take the shot.” And frankly, the man has a point because Wanda’s eyes are glowing red THROUGH A BLACK AND WHITE SCREEN.
At which point alarms start blaring in the S.W.O.R.D. compound, which means that everybody rushes outside with little bitty machine guns. In fact, there are so many machine guns (and helpful green laser sights, drawing even more attention to them), it’s kind of obvious that the guns are or are going to be a plot point. 
They’ve succeeded in provoking Wanda, because she comes marching out (in Scarlet Witch garb) dragging their drone. Director UNSUMWG says: you have hostages. Wanda says: You’ve got the guns. [Audience: do you notice any kind of subtle foreshadowing here?]
Monica says: Hey, hey, hey, I am an ALLY! (NO LITERALLY SHE SAYS I AM AN ALLY. GOOD GOD.)
Wanda says: I have what I want, and you all are not going to take it from me. AAaaaaand then psychs out the men to point all their guns at Director UNSUMWG, and goes marching back.
Back in Wandaville the next day: Sparky’s dead. And Wanda is forced to tell the twins (and Agnes, who has the body), that she can’t bring back the dead. (Cue Vision wandering up: “Bring who back?”)
That evening, Wanda is packing up Sparky’s toys when Vision says: “I spoke to Norm. He was in pain, Wanda.”
Wanda rolls credits, but Vision just keeps talking. He demands to know what has happened (and the credits stop rolling). Why is she doing this (hopefully subconsciously)? Why can’t he recall his life before Wandaville? Why are there no other children in Wandaville?
Wanda denies that she is doing anything at all, let alone controlling everything and everybody in Wandaville at all times.
(the doorbell rings)
“I didn’t do that.”
“Wanda, I want to believe you but at this point I’m ignoring statistics entirely.”
(I kinda like Vision now that he’s grown a spine.)
Wanda opens the door and blanches, while, back at S.W.O.R.D., we have delayed gratification with a scene of everyone, in the face of this emergency, alarms blaring, lights flashing, RUSHING DESPERATELY TO THE TV. God, I hate the semiotics of this show.
…..I don’t actually know who this person is. But, apparently, it’s her brother Pietro….recast.

What?

The Rebel Princess – Episode 6 – Recap

So the Crown Prince is confirmed as heir while the Emperor is….indisposed. The Grand Vizier is regent, however, and he’s smirking fit to bust.

Wan’ru, naturally, is intensely distraught that her aunt and cousin are accused of high treason and her family is in trouble. The Crown Prince, showing that he’s not quite as complete a moron as we thought, admits that a) he has a hard time beliving Concubine Xie is guilty (poor guy), and that b) it doesn’t really matter, since at this point his mother and Uncle Grand Vizier have got the reins and aren’t likely to let go. He counsels Wan’ru to keep her head down and promises to keep her safe. But he knows perfectly well that only his father the Emperor can stop the Wang Family now they’ve got started.

Cut to: lol, A’Wu’s other uncle surreptitiously trying out the throne for size. The Grand Vizier explains that they’re going to go slow right at this moment, since the presence of Xiao Qi and his soldiers might make a too-hasty move fatal.

Crown Prince is watching over his father, and poor guy is starting to have questions. Like, why did Concubine Xie do this exactly? She and her already had the Emperor’s favor. But his mother assuages his guilt and he promises to do his best in his role. THIS GUY, SERIOUSLY! He means well! He’s just really too sheltered and stupid to be effective. This is genuine character development, though. He’s trying. He’s admitting his guilt and culpability when he realizes it. At this point and if it continues, especially if he has to learn things the painfully hard way, I wouldn’t actually mind if he ended up with A’Wu.

Grand Vizier is pushing the Empress into moving actively for the throne. She agrees but is reluctant, and she has drawn a hard line at getting her poor, idiot son involved again. If her brother does that, she promises to fight back against him. But meanwhile, what the Grand Vizier wants is for an imperial decree for the immediate marriage of A’Wu and Xiao Qi.

Grand Vizier Regent reports to the council that the frame, uh, I mean evidence, is complete and the Xie Family is guilty and to be imprisoned and executed. One of the ministers protests. The Empress slaps him down, while the Crown Prince squirms and XQ–and Prince #2–observe proceedings quietly but with great interest.

The Empress goes down into the dungeons with, uh oh, a bottle of wine and two glasses. Minister Xie is there and takes the opportunity to warn her that if he does happen to get out, he’s going to be after revenge. But her target is Concubine Xie. She’s there to offer her a way out for Prince #3: confess, die, and I’ll let him live. Concubine Xie agrees and makes her promise. Yeah, I don’t trust that look.

And, argh, they leave her a noose. Damn, that’s cold.

The Grand Vizier presents this “evidence” to the council. His brother urges that the entire family be therefore executed. All of it.

Meanwhile, Prince #2 is assessing the situation. His advisor points out that an alliance with Xiao Qi (and Xiao Qi’s 200,000-man strong army) is going to be necessary for the Wang Family at this point: to shore up power internally and externally. The current plan is that someone named Wang Xuan (whoops, that’s A’Wu) marry him, but #2 is prepared to stop that as well.

Back at our heroine, she’s waiting for her father to come back to ask him whyyyyy? And at this point, her brother arrives with the word from the Empress that the way to save #3 is marrying XQ. A’Wu gallops off to check things out for herself.

But the Emperor wakes not for her tears, and the Empress is there instead. She is actually quite kind to A’Wu (you know, as she explains why and how her arranged marriage is going to be arranged and therefore there is no fighting it if you want the actual person you love to survive.)

And A’Wu agrees. Her voiceover reflects that this is her actual coming-of-age ceremony: accepting the fact that, as a noblewoman, her actual life’s course is in the hands of others and expected to serve her family.

A’Wu’s parents are arguing about it, but, of course, Grand Vizier Dad is a Grand Vizier and the head of the Wang Family and it was his idea in the first place. Also, it’s not for power, it’s for power and security. Also he’s seen his sisters have to make loveless marriages for the sake of power and security, so it’s not like his wife (who married for power and security) has a leg to stand on.

Heh, his wife falls back on, BUT A COMMONER, EW! Grand Vizier Dad slaps that one down hard, causing A’Wu’s brother to offer to join the army to consolidate a military alliance instead.

Grand Vizier Dad: OH YEAH? PROVIDE ME A GRANDSON AND THEN YOU’RE OFF TO THE BORDER AND THEN IT’S WITH YOUR SHIELD OR ON IT TIME. (Haaaaahahaha. That’s harsh.)

But A’Wu steps in and quietly says she’s willing to do it.

Meanwhile, XQ is brooding silently, as one does when one is a silently brooding hero whose marital arts might or might not surpass his martial ones. His sidekick points out that he’s been brooding silently for a really long time. Sidekick is trying to figure out all the angles and is kind of stumped. XQ asks what he thinks they should do.
Sidekick says: Well, I do what I’m ordered to, but I’m also going to keep my distance from that Lord Wang.
XQ says: Got it in one, kid.

A’Wu’s mother goes to pay a visit to the Empress and quietly states that A’Wu is not going to marry XQ.

Prince #2 and his advisor are also discussing matters. The marriage-alliance is extremely dangerous to their faction, as it gives too much power to the Wang Family, so, (mutter mutter mutter), that’s brilliant, Lord Huan! I’ll keep my distance and you can go do the dirty work. (Huh??)

Back at the moms. A’Wu’s mother asks her sister in law: how well do you know your brother? Do you really think he’s got your son’s best interests in heart? Or his own? He’s willing to sacrifice his own daughter for his ambition…exactly what do you think he’ll do to a nephew he doesn’t even like? The Empress doesn’t want to hear this, but the message is received nonetheless.

I remain highly impressed by the way the plot has progressed so quickly and yet the lingering, drawn-out misery porn hasn’t.