The Coming Storm

Below Deck | Bravo | S8 E1: There’s No Place Like Home

OG Below Deck is back! Chief Stewardess Kate Chastain – and her razor sharp wit – will certainly be missed after 6 seasons, but season 8 brings back bosun Eddie Lucas, last seen in season 3 (aka “The Rocky Season”). Season 8 also marks a return to the Caribbean, and as Captain Lee Rosbach opines, “it’s like going home again.”

Motor yacht My Seanna has a new Chief Stew named Francesca, a new chef named Rachel, deckhands James, Shane and Avery, and stewardesses Elizabeth and Izzy. From the trailer, COVID is not the only thing that goes wrong this charter season…

We start with Eddie arriving on the boat, and he says he hasn’t been in yachting for the 5 seasons he’s been away; he looks for Captain Lee, and can’t find him… Eddie call the cap, and we learn that Lee fell in the shower and “busted some ribs” – so he’s not on board for the first day! We’re already off to an unusual start!

As Eddie familiarizes himself with the vessel, Francesca arrives and starts poking around the boat as well. They meet, and in an interview we get some insight into how she thinks: everything needs to be perfect. This should be fun…

The rest of the crew arrives, and James is taken with Francesca. Later, he says in an interview he’s there to have fun and do as little work as possible (but he’ll still “work hard.” Sure…). Avery is the seasoned yachtie, and Shane is the greenest of the green deckhands. So green, in fact, that when Francesca sits and meets with her stews, Shane sits with them, unaware they’re in the middle of a team meeting. Eddie doesn’t seem to know what to do with Shane, so basically just tells him to follow the others and absorb what they’re doing.

The stews start cleaning the interior, and Francesca gets them organized; they seem to be on top of things, cleaning-wise, and she’s happy with their work. Elizabeth is a hippie-type who says she “feels vibes,” and she says Francesca has “pure intentions.”

Chef Rachel arrives and tells Francesca of her harrowing 72-hours of having her purse stolen; she seems frazzled as she gets on the boat, but quickly goes to work organizing her galley. She says she’s a perfectionist (like all chefs?), but says she has to hit the ground running; she’s been in the industry for 14 years, so she seems to know how to roll with the punches (unlike Kiko and Tom from Below Deck Med #TooSoon?).

Captain Lee returns to the boat, and says his ribs are killing him – but only when he moves and breathes! He says he’s going to suck it up, and get to work, as a crusty sea captain would do. He has a meeting with the crew, and apologizes for not being on the boat; he then lays down the law: don’t embarrass the boat or themselves. In an interview, he says he’s not going to have a repeat of last season (the less said about Ashton, Brian, Tanner, etc the better). He stresses the importance of radios, says the guests will arrive the next day, and the crew gets back to work.

Lee, Eddie, Rachel and Francesca have their first preference sheet meeting, and charter 1’s guest is Charley, who has been on Below Deck twice before. We see a montage of him complaining; Lee says in an interview he’s a handful, and makes a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow metaphor. Oh how I’ve missed Captain Lee and his idioms and colorful phrases.

The next day, Charley and his guests arrive, and the crew gets to work. Izzy seems to have trouble making drinks and keeping things running smoothly, much to Charley’s annoyance; he actually gets behind the bar and tells her he’s going to “help” her since they seem super busy. Izzy leaves and gets Francesca, who’s not too happy with this; Charley tells Francesca day 1 will be considered a “learning curve” but they better get their act together. Jeez, dude! Guests like this who are so entitled really annoy me; we’re all human beings and make mistakes. No matter how much money you’re spending, you don’t get to complain about being on a super yacht, waited on hand and foot #SorryNotSorry. One could also argue the stews weren’t even making mistakes – they just weren’t moving fast enough for the guests’ liking. In any case, this reeked of “I’m going to make a spectacle of myself for television,” so there’s also that.

Chef Rachel seems to do a great job with her food, as does Avery; Eddie says he’s “like a machine” and they’re just rolling along smoothly. #Foreshadowing… Later, Avery gets a text from his mom saying that his grandmother is “getting worse,” and he makes the decision to leave the boat to go back home to his family. He goes to talk to Captain Lee and tell him his decision; later, Lee tells Eddie what’s going on, and Eddie wishes Avery well, but now needs a new superstar deckhand…

One episode in and there’s already a crew change, an injury, and a super-entitled guest! The season started off with a bang, and it looks like things will only get crazier from here on out (before a certain virus wreaks havoc at the end of the charter season), and I’m here for the (choppy) ride! M

Domo Arigato

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W6: Japanese Week

As a manga-style Noel points out, it’s Japanese Week in the tent! What does that mean, exactly? Since this is the first time the show has done this particular theme, it’s anyone’s guess – and the bakers are just as excited and worried as they probably should be. Let’s find out what Japanese treats the bakers will have to tackle.

Signature Challenge

First up, the bakers must make a batch of 8 steamed buns; these are usually filled with pork or curry, but the bakers can choose whatever they like – sweet or savory. Prue points out this is a bun challenge, so that should be the task at hand.

Mark and Lottie are doing hamburger-filled buns, and Paul asks them both to make one without pickles for him, since he’s not a fan. Who knew?! This starts off a friendly rivalry between the two burger bakers. The bakers have a myriad flavors in their buns, borrowing from Chinese, Japanese, and Indian flavors. Filling their buns proves difficult for Marc, who can’t quite seal his shut – and Peter, who overfills his first 7 buns and doesn’t have enough filling for the last one. Here’s how the buns turned out!

The judges have mostly nice things to say about all the buns, but some turn out a little dry, but with good flavors all around.

Technical Challenge

Prue’s matcha masterpiece

Prue’s advice to the bakers is “do not panic” – a foreboding start to the challenge! The bakers must make a matcha crepe cake; 12 matcha filled crepes layered on top of one another.

Some bakers aren’t familiar with or don’t like matcha; I’m not a fan, either, so I feel their pain. It’s very good for you, but much like most things that are good for you it doesn’t taste all that great…

Peter has issues making the crepes, and he’s not the only one. Noel tries to get the bakers to flip their crepes in their pans, and Dave is the only one who obliges – he successfully flips one crepe in the pan, and Noel jokingly declares him the winner.

The bakers have mixed results in getting their cakes assembled and decorated, though ultimately they all look pretty good!

I’m always impressed that the bakers’ creations come out remotely how they should, considering they don’t have full recipes. I suspect they’re able to see what the finished product should look like, or some facsimile thereof, because there’s no way that 7 bakers could all make cakes that look so similar with absolutely no guidance. Anyway, Laura comes in last, Dave in third, Lottie in second, and Peter comes in first!

Showstopper Challenge

For the showstopper, the bakers are tasked with creating a “spectacular kawaii cake” in 4 hours. Kawaii = cute, so these creations should be the epitome of cuteness while incorporating Japanese culture and flavors – and of course, they must taste good, as Paul reminds us. Soybeans, pineapples, cherry blossoms, and yuzu will be inside and outside of the bakers’ spectacular cakes.

How did they turn out? For the most part, cute!

Lottie gets compliments from the judges for her design and flavors, but Hermine’s cake isn’t “cute” according to Prue. Prue also says Mark’s avocados are “witty and charming,” but Paul says the cake is very dry – almost “inedible”!

The judges deliberate, and agree that Marc, Dave and Lottie have done well this week, while Mark, Hermine and Laura are in trouble. When all is said and done, Noel lets the bakers know the star baker this week is Lottie! Matt announces who will be eliminated from the competition this week, and unfortunately, it’s Mark. So the rivalry between Lottie and Mark begins and ends in this episode, with Lottie coming out on top.

Noel’s manga final form

Prue says Laura saved herself with her showstopper, and called Mark’s showstopper a “disaster,” so that’s why he was eliminated this week. With only 6 bakers left, the competition won’t get any easier, and if all the bakers do well, the judges will have to nitpick their bakes to whittle down the contestants. At this point, Dave, Lottie and Peter seem to be the front runners, but as Prue points out, one bad week can send anyone home – so they all have to bring their A-game every week! M

A Sweeping Success?

Supermarket Sweep | ABC | S1 E1: Give Me the Roses, Richard

The Sweep is back! Supermarket Sweep (finally) premiered on ABC tonight, and it brought with it nostalgia, a bit of comedy and of course, folks running around a supermarket.

The structure of the game remains mostly unchanged, but there have been a bunch of modern updates. Teams (which now have names, like “Team Biscuits,” get 2:00 for their big sweep by default instead of 1:30, but each correct answer still adds 10 seconds to their sweep time. The contestants’ podiums are now LED screens shaped like shopping carts, and they look pretty cool!

Replacing David Ruprecht as host is SNL alumna Leslie Jones. While the teams of two still answer supermarket brand related questions, the format of the questions has been updated to include categories like: picture puzzles to identify a brand, selecting the fake product from a list of three, and identifying a brand’s mascot by their online profile (and now one member from each team runs the mini sweep in the beginning of the show). There’s inexplicably still a round robin portion, where the contestants switch off answering questions – always my least favorite aspect of the 90’s/2000’s version.

One member from each team still runs the big sweep, with Jones commentating on the action. In addition to cameramen, there are now cameras fixed to the carts to get a carts-eye view of the madness. There’s a security guard (?) and other “employees” in the store, like a flower salesman (the Richard mentioned in the episode title), and barista who inexplicably slowed down the contestants. There are also cashiers to, presumably, check out the groceries.

The dollar amounts of this sweep are drastically higher; on the 90’s/2000’s version of the show, the totals of the big sweeps would usually be no higher than $2,000; in this version there were $3,000+ totals #logical.

The final sweep format has also been tweaked – it is now the Super Sweep. As per usual, the winning team is given a clue and they have to run through the store reading clues and finding products, but now they initially win $25,000 and have the option to cash out or keep shopping. If they keep shopping they can go for $50,000, and if they’re successful they can cash out or and keep shopping and go for $100,000!

I enjoyed the episode and the updates they made to the show’s formula, though changing to an hour-long show with 2 sets of contestants seems a little odd; why not just keep it at 30 minutes and air 2 episodes? It’s clear Leslie Jones is having a blast (and her energy isn’t as manic as it seemed from the previews… yet), but how could anyone not get excited about the good clean fun of Supermarket Sweep?! M

Chocolate Challenges

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W4: Chocolate Week

This week the bakers are tasked with handling all things chocolate. If this season is like seasons past, they’ll quickly learn how difficult working with chocolate can be while making sure they have exceptional flavors to impress Paul and Prue.

Signature Challenge

First up this week is a favorite chocolate treat: brownies. The bakers must make a batch of 18 brownies for the judges, and Prue warns that the bakers may not want to ice their brownies, or they’ll be sickly sweet. I agree – brownies and icing rarely mix well.

Most bakers use various nuts, but Peter puts figs at the bottom of his pan and pours his batter over them so that the figs will top his brownies – an interesting approach! Lottie gives herself a whole lot of work with her double-baked chocolate and pecan brownie topped with raspberry cheesecake. Sounds amazing, but also extremely stressful. There are even a few s’mores (which is “quite an American term, but it basically means melted marshmallow, I think” according to Laura) -inspired brownies. Incorrect s’mores assessment aside, s’mores brownies sound incredible.

The bakers stress over their brownies, and some are in fact raw in the middle; but here’s how they turned out!

Peter’s fig brownies are “ok” according to Paul; Laura’s are far too sweet according to Paul and under baked according to Prue. Sura doesn’t fare much better as Paul doesn’t like her flavors, and Prue again says the bake is wrong. Overall, only Mark got mostly positive comments. Matt in a voice over mentions before the Technical Challenge that the bakers could practice their brownies, so this was even more disappointing that no one did a decent job.

Technical Challenge

A batter babka than one she had in New York, according to Prue #sus

Paul’s challenge for the bakers is to make a chocolate babka, a traditional Jewish loaf cake, in 2 1/2 hours. It seems like none of the bakers have made or tasted a babka before so this should be interesting.

The bakers follow the instructions, which say to “Cut through the middle of the dough into two long pieces. Then lift the right half over the left half, followed by the left half over the right half, repeating the process to make a two-stranded plait.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Tangent time: I put this part in because I’m mildly obsessed with with the word “plait,” as this is what we Americans refer to as a “braid.” Checking the Google, the British use the word plait, which comes from the Old French “pleit”, which means “a fold.” We Americans use the Old English word “bre─ídan/braiden,” which means “to weave.” The more you know!

The bakers seem to fare better in this challenge than the brownie challenge; here’s how some turned out:

More than I could do! But Paul and Prue are tough judges.

Paul and Prue rank the bakers, and have varied comments. Overall the bakers seemed to do pretty well.

In last place is Lottie, who struggled in the challenge more than most. Mark comes in third, Laura in second, and Linda comes in first place! Paul asks her if she’s ever made a babka before, and she says she hasn’t – impressive!

Showstopper Challenge

It’s a white chocolate celebration cake for the Showstopper this week, and it must be made for a specific occasion. It must have a minimum of two layers and be baked in 4 hours.

White chocolate isn’t technically chocolate – it has no cocoa solids in it, a generally accepted requirement for calling something chocolate – and Prue says working with it can be a nightmare. She tells Lottie to remember she “only has to be not the worst,” which Paul jokes is a great mantra.

As usual the designs are impressive, but the bakers have some difficulties. Check ’em out!

The judges say Sura’s cake is inedible because it’s raw in the middle; they also criticize Linda’s piping work on her English Rose Cake. Peter’s cake is successful and gets complimented by the judges, as does Laura’s.

The judges deliberate, and Noel has the nice job of announcing this week’s Star Baker: it is Marc! Matt has the not so nice job of announcing the baker who’s leaving the competition: it is Sura, who Matt says just had a bad week.

This week’s challenges seemed really difficult for the bakers, and some rose to the challenge but others struggled. I think it was the right call to eliminate Sura, since she didn’t do well in either the Signature or the Technical (though neither did Lottie, but Lottie’s showstopper may saved her from elimination). With only 8 bakers in the tent, I can’t wait to see what confectionery concoctions they task the bakers with creating next week! M

Still Amazing

I absolutely love The Amazing Race, and tonight it came back for season 32 – 11 new teams are running around the world in an epic race for a million dollars. Besides the drama between the teams (themselves, and other teams), I love seeing the cultures and customs of the exotic – and sometimes not so exotic – places the race takes the contestants.

After last season’s reality-star-a-palooza (I’m still salty that Janelle and Britney were eliminated before Rachel and Elissa in the battle of the Big Brother players…) it’s nice to have 11 teams of people we haven’t seen on some form of reality TV. Former NFL players, friends, siblings, fathers and sons, and couples make up the roster of teams this year.

I’m so happy the show is back, but so very unhappy that CBS decided to put it on one of the 3 nights per week that Big Brother airs, because that’s a lot of reality TV in 2 hours. I love Big Brother but it’s a chore to watch (especially this “All Stars” season), as is writing about it.

I’m going to watch The Amazing Race and start recapping it once Big Brother is over, because THERE ARE OTHER NIGHTS IN THE WEEK, CBS. #NotBitter, just tired ­čśť M

Wheeling, Dealing and Zip-Lining

Big Brother: All Stars | CBS | Week 10 POV

It’s time for another veto comp – BB Comics! – in the BB house, and there’s a distinct possibility that one of the nominees will come down, forcing HoH Nicole to nominate her alliance-mates Enzo or Cody.

Nicole tells Christmas again that Christmas is not her target; she just needs to use Christmas to get “who she wants out, out.” Not sure why she didn’t just say “Memphis” because at this point it should be pretty obvious he’s her target, but I digress…

Enzo and Cody are happy about the fact they’re the only 2 player to never be on the block… #foreshadowing?

Memphis chats with Christmas and tells him Nicole is scared they’ll be mad at her. In the DR, Memphis again relies on his multiple Wise Guys alliances, and thinks the rest of the house will keep him over Christmas. I kinda love that Memphis is utterly clueless that Cody sees right through him.

Enzo tells Nicole that he’s more scared of Memphis than Christmas; Memphis is most definitely her target, so he doesn’t have to convince her!

Memphis tells Cody that Christmas has no idea what’s going on, and Memphis feels safe because of all the Wise Guys. In the DR, Cody reaffirms he’ll quickly vote out Memphis if Nicole wants him to.

In an odd segment in the kitchen, Enzo explains he’s never used a teapot to make tea – he uses a regular pot instead. In the BB house he decides to use a teapot for the first time, and is amazed that it whistles when it’s ready. #OldTechnology! In the DR, Cody calls him a man child, and I can’t disagree. What would the Meow Meow think of electric kettles?!!

Christmas talks to Enzo to try to find a way to keep her Wise Guys alliance safe; she asks him if he’ll use the veto if he wins. As Christmas explains, if Enzo wins the POV, Nicole would have to nominate Cody and they could vote him out. Unbeknownst to Christmas, there are several problems with this: (1) Enzo is scarily terrible at comps. (2) Enzo is in a tight alliance with Cody, so there’s no way he would use the veto if he won, no matter how unlikely that would be.

Later, Enzo says he’s rethinking things, and Christmas is now the bigger threat because she’s wheeling and dealing. He tells Nicole about her plot to back door Cody, and Nicole laughs about it. In the DR, she says she doesn’t care – she still wants Memphis gone.

Cody talks to Enzo and Christmas and tells them his girlfriend was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but underwent treatment, and he’s missing her terribly. Christmas says her mom battles breast cancer and also beat it; in the DR she cries and says she misses her family. I get the conceit of this game is to be cut off from the rest of the world and that it’s a social experiment, but seeing all these players over the years miss their loved ones so much is still tough to watch. Let them text, at least!

Christmas talks to Nicole (again) to see if there’s a way the girls can team up. Nicole says the slate’s clean between them, because they both made game moves against each other. In the DR, Nicole says she’s thinking about making another final 2 deal with Christmas to supplement her deal with Cody. Christmas says she doesn’t want to repeat history, when Josh chose Paul over her for the final 2 in BB 19. Josh’s decision won him the game, so that worked out well for him! Nicole thinks over Christmas’ proposal, out loud…

Enzo has a heart to heart with stuffed cow Moo-Lan… and then the veto comp begins.

As per usual the players have to zip line past a room full of BB comic book covers, and make their board match the room’s. Whoever does this the fastest wins the golden power of veto.

All the BB Comics

And as per usual, there are multiple versions of each cover with minor differences between them – and some differences are very hard to spot. My personal favorite covers were Cody’s CALI-FURY, Tyler’s ABRA CURL DABRA, and of course Janelle’s THE BOMBSHELL. The players are extra salty about the evicted houseguests in the DR, I might add… Speaking of the DR, I was on board when they turned Cody into his comic book character, but that little gimmick got very old very fast.

Christmas seems to finish the competition relatively easily, and Memphis does too… Nicole complains she has to be a “cereal killer” on her comic, while Janelle gets to be a goddess. Pretty much!

The results are revealed, and it comes down to Nicole and Cody; with a time of (a very speedy!) 11:21, Nicole wins the veto! In the DR, she asks if this confirms her all-star status. Meh?

Christmas is upset about losing the competition, and talks to Memphis, who in the DR is convinced Christmas is going home. Enzo is getting a little paranoid about voting out Memphis, and tells Cody they should send Christmas home.

Christmas again talks to Nicole and Nicole assures her she’s safe. Christmas correctly predicts Enzo and Cody will potentially flip the vote. Christmas really wants to get Cody out and tries to convince Nicole to back door him.

At the veto meeting, Nicole predictably chooses not to the use to veto, so either Christmas or Memphis will soon be seeing the jury house… At this point, Enzo and Cody are controlling the game, and it’s quite literally a 50/50 chance for each nominee to go home. Enzo and Cody have reasons to evict either person, but I think Christmas’ time in the house is over [insert obligatory Christmas-pun here]. M

Sailing into the Sunset

Below Deck Mediterranean | Bravo | Season 5 Episode 20: A Mighty Wind

It’s season finale time for a truly tumultuous season of Below Deck Mediterranean The Saga of Rob and Jess!

Rob tells first mate David he’s in for the crossing. Later, he says it would be a great opportunity for him in order to see if he wants to continue in yachting (and to be away from Jess).

Sandy lets Malia drive the yacht for the final trip back to port, and Tom stops by the wheelhouse to see Malia in action.

Bugsy takes the guests’ breakfast orders while Jess does laundry. In an interview, Bugsy says she’s proud of the interior, and she thinks they’ve come a long way. She thinks there’s an expiration date on working in yachting, but she’s not settling down any time soon. On the flip side, Aesha says she thinks she’s done with yachting; she’s spent so much time serving other people and now it’s time to focus on her.

Alex says the deck team has had its ups and downs but Malia has been a great bosun. I think that’s true – there’s been relatively little issues or drama with the deck team, aside from Rob’s distraction. The editors make it seem like the last docking could go horribly wrong, but it doesn’t; Malia and crew guide the ship into port one last time.

The guests disembark, thank the crew, and leave. The crew has its final tip meeting, and Sandy says the interior killed it; the last tip is $20,000! Sandy also hands out “awards” in which she thanks each member of the team and rates them on The Beaufort Scale (from 1 – 12): that relates┬áwind speed┬áto observed conditions at sea or on land (via Wikipedia). She explains why they got their respective ratings, and it was a nice way to end the charter season. Afterwards, Jess talks to Sandy and thanks her for encouraging her.

Everyone gets to work cleaning; Malia asks Rob if he’s leaving with a girlfriend, but he says he doesn’t know. The crew gets ready for their final night out; Jess asks Rob if they’re “good” and he says they are, but Jess says they can be single for that night. #Communication? In the cab ride over, Rob and Jess go in separate cars, but everyone discusses them on the way to dinner. At the dinner table things get awkward quickly when Jess doesn’t want to sit opposite Rob.

Sandy talks to Tom, who kinda apologizes for being a jerk. Sandy basically says she knows how yacht chefs are. Everyone seems to be having fun except Jess, and the crew even gets to dance with some dancers at the restaurant. In an interview, Sandy says she loved the crew, despite the Kiko and Hannah situations; Sandy leaves the yachties after dinner.

The gang heads out to a club, where Jess tells Rob he’s completely “cold-shouldered” her. He says everything is always his fault… they sit down and continue discussing things. He says she was the one who said they could be single that night; she says nothing she ever does will make him happy. As the rest of the crew celebrates, Rob tells Jess she can go to Bali without him; she gets upset and walks off.

As a (really ripped) fire dancer performs for the crew, Bugsy goes after Jess, who’s in the bathroom – which is behind a false bookcase. Very cool, but very odd in this setting. Inside the club, the yachties run into the charter guests that just left the yacht! Rob chats up Hannah, who tells him he has a beautiful soul while Jess gets angry and vents to Malia. Jess says Rob’s ignoring her while going after Hannah, while Alex and Bugsy make out, and Tom and Malia are their usual PDA-tastic selves. The former charter guests leave, and the yachties leave shortly after.

The girls go in one cab, and the boys in the other; Jess cries and says she loves Rob and doesn’t want to cry over him. The boys discuss things and Alex tells Rob not to let Jess tell him what to do. And they’re all very drunk at this point, so no one will remember any of it, I’m sure. In any case, Malia tells Rob she thinks Jess really loves him, but they’re on different wavelengths at the moment.

Jess says she doesn’t know what Rob wants from her, so he can be single. And they’re still sharing a 2 foot cabin, somehow. The next morning Rob and Jess speak, and he tells her he’s doing the crossing; she says he’s “damaging” to her. She cries and asks him for a hug; she asks him not to do the crossing and not to “run from this.” He says he has a ticket to Bali and he has 2 days to decide what he’s doing… Rob says they should pack and just get off the boat; he kisses Jess as they go about packing things up.

Alex is the first to leave the boat, and he says he had a great experience. Bugsy sweetly kisses him goodbye and he takes off. Rob says his goodbyes, and Jess leaves with him; they hold hands and kiss once they’re off the boat. We learn that Rob did in fact go to Bali with Jess instead of doing the crossing. But in real time we know they’re not together (spoiler alert, to no one at all).

Aesha is next to leave, and happy to go home. Bugsy is next to go, and Sandy says it was a pleasure having her back. Malia and Tom are the last ones on the boat, and Tom says it was a pleasure working with Sandy (um, when?!). Anyway, Malia thanks Sandy for the opportunity to be her bosun, and Tom and Malia head out.

Sandy says this was the hardest season she’s had, but she’s so grateful to have the opportunity to work with everyone this season.

And that’s a wrap (almost) on Below Deck Mediterranean! There will be a 2-part reunion over the next few weeks, but I for one am happy the season is over. It really was the Rob and Jess show for most of the season, but there was so much drama and the most turnover I can remember on any season of any reality show! It was a crazy season, and there were some interesting guests and lots of drama – a lot of which was fake (thanks editors!). But what would a Below Deck show be without a little delusion? M

Winning When it Counts?

Big Brother: All Stars | CBS | Week 10 Nominations

The season of Big Brother: All Stars is starting to wind down, as we’re left with five players in the game. Who kept the most pumpkins in his/her basket to claim one of the final HoH titles of the season?

In the DR, Christmas says she’ll nominate Nicole and Cody if she wins, with Cody being her ultimate target. Cody says if Memphis wins, he’s going on the block; so things aren’t looking great for the Jersey boy. Memphis says he wants Nicole out because he’s not aligned with her (in any of his alliances).

Everyone initially has trouble with the HoH competition, in which they have to get “pumpkins” (dodge balls) to stay in their “baskets” while going over balance beams. The issue is that the “baskets” are extremely flat, so any movement on the balance beam sends the “pumpkins” flying all over; if any of the “pumpkins” hit the ground they have to start all over again.

Oh, Brother.

Christmas seems to get a rhythm going, and Memphis figures out a system as well. Nicole is doing ok, and Enzo is a complete disaster.

Christmas gets down to 2 “pumpkins” left, when one of the smaller balls falls out of her “basket”, and she has to start over again.

Memphis gets down to 2 “pumpkins” left, when one of his smaller balls falls out of his “basket”, and he has to start over again.

Nicole is now in the lead, and only needs 1 more “pumpkin” to win the competition. She says she can “taste Victor’s letter” if she wins, and she places the last “pumpkin” in her “basket”. She slowly lowers her balance beam and hits the button to win the competition and become HoH – her first competition win of the season.

Christmas gets upset and starts crying; she tells Nicole she’s sad because she was so close to winning and couldn’t. Nicole walks away, but laughs and says “they’re sad because I won,” which I found a little strange…

In the DR, Enzo says Nicole is going to do some of his dirty work because he’s aligned with everyone else in the house; Cody has similar thoughts later.

Memphis thinks he’s good with Cody, Enzo and Christmas, but Cody says he’ll turn on Memphis but “yes” him to death. In the DR, Nicole says she’ll come after Memphis, who nominated her, and Christmas, who tried to flip the vote on her. In the DR, Cody says Nicole taking a shot at Memphis is great for his (and Enzo’s) game.

Christmas accidentally walks in on Enzo in the bathroom, which marks the second time we’ve seen that happen this season – the first time it was Nicole. I never noticed before (and it’s hard to see in the picture) but the bathroom seems to have a lock with a green indicator on the front. Are they not allowed to lock that door?

The players go see Nicole’s HoH room, and she reads her letter from fiance and former Big Brother player and Amazing Race partner Victor; she reads it and gets very happy – she does not, in fact, taste it.

Christmas talks with Nicole, and Nicole basically tells her she’s going to nominate her. She doesn’t want Christmas to go home; however, Cody and Enzo have never done anything to her, so she has no reason to nominate them. Christmas tells her Cody is the biggest target because he’s good at comps and the jury loves him. Right on cue, Cody comes to talk to Nicole and Christmas leaves. Nicole and Cody discuss everything Christmas just said, and Cody turns his attention to getting Christmas out over Memphis. Nicole says Cody’s BB life is in her hands, and asks if he’ll vote how she wants him to vote.

Memphis, Enzo, Cody and Christmas discuss Enzo’s “foot stalker,” and I do not want to repeat the details of this conversation. Moving on…

Memphis goes to talk to Nicole to try to make a deal; in the DR Memphis says she’d be crazy not to accept his deal to vote with her and not use the veto. In the DR, Nicole says his deal is terrible.

One more time, Christmas walks in on Enzo in the bathroom.

At the nomination ceremony, surprising no one, Nicole nominates Memphis and Christmas for eviction. So unless either nominee wins the veto, Cody and Enzo are sitting pretty this week. Christmas and Memphis are good at competitions though, so it’s entirely possible that one of them could win, forcing Nicole to turn on her alliance (well, Enzo, really). Either way it would be good to get Memphis out of the house. We also learn that the veto comp will be the much loved BB Comics competition, finally! Again, not sure who to root for here, so I guess I’ll stick with Cody or the Meow Meow, for now. M

Only the Good Die Young

The Boys | Amazon Prime Video | S2 E8: What I Know

We’ve arrived at the season 2 finale of The Boys. It’s been gross and violent, boring and thrilling, and very head-splattering. How could this season possibly end? [Major spoilers for The Boys follow].

We open with a Vought sponsored PSA: Homelander and a sheriff talk about school safety and what do if a Super Villain attacks; it includes an armed teacher and kids using their school supplies as weapons as they wait for dispatched Super Hero. It’s very matter of fact, as if it was for fire or drug safety.

The Boys (1)

Mallory and Victoria Neuman are talking to Defense Secretary Robert Singer (Jim Beaver), who tells them the president is declaring a state of emergency and authorizing the use of Compound V by law enforcement and first responders after the events at the courthouse.

Outside the underground lair, Starlight says goodbye to Donna and makes sure she follows a plan to stay safe. Donna gives her a gold cross and says she doesn’t care if she wears it – she just wants her to have it; they hug and Donna heads off.

Underground, Frenchie is demonstrating an EMP weapon aimed at taking out Stormfront when Starlight and Hughie join them. Starlight offers to testify about Vought, but MM says escaped convicts’ testimonies don’t mean much. She comes up with a plan and asks for a day before The Boys go nuts on Vought, and grabs Hughie to go with her.

The Boys watching Billy & Becca

It seems Mrs. Butcher has taken to fleeing from her idyllic yet fake suburban home, as we see Becca hiding in a wooded area while people search for her. She shows up at the storefront of the underground lair and tells Butcher that Homelander took Ryan.

The Boys get some food and a drink for Becca and say they’ve heard a lot about her. Butcher tells her to stay while he does a little digging; he promises to find Ryan for her.

Starlight and Hughie

Starlight and Hughie are driving and she asks him what the deal is with his love of Billy Joel. Starlight says Butcher is right; they’ve tried taking down Vought the legal way but it’s never worked. She asks Hughie why he helped her at Vought, and why he didn’t give up on her; he says he would never give up on her.

They go to Maeve’s apartment; Starlight asks Maeve to testify against Vought, Homelander, and everything else but Maeve’s not interested. Maeve says she’s done enough for Starlight by saving her life; nothing ever changes, and she’s tired. She yells at Starlight to take Hughie and leave, and they go.

On the drive back, Starlight shows Hughie her cross, and complains about her mother; she apologizes to Hughie, who tells her his mother isn’t dead (!). She left them when Hughie was six years old; she and Hughie had dance parties and that’s where his love of Billy Joel came from. As they’re talking A-Train shows up in the back seat of their car; Hughie pulls over and they all get out. A-Train gives Starlight a file folder and says they’re even; he says he wants back into The Seven and he needs Stormfront gone.

Elsewhere

Butcher phone, now with Siri.

Alastair Adana and Stan Edgar share a meal and discuss The Deep and A-Train coming back to The Seven. Stan says Stormfront has issues with A-Train and he has to indulge her for the time being, so he cannot come back; he is open to The Deep returning, though.

As he leaves the meeting with Alastair, Edgar gets a phone call from Butcher. Later, Butcher meets Edgar at an otherwise empty restaurant. Butcher says that Ryan is a contingency plan, and that plan doesn’t work if Homelander is playing dad to Ryan but Butcher can fix that for Edgar.

Edgar tells Butcher the situation is just business, and he’ll do whatever’s best for Vought, no matter what Stormfront does, or who she hates. Butcher says he can get Ryan away from Homelander, and when he does Edgar can come get him – and do a better job of hiding him; however, Becca isn’t part of the deal. Butcher says to find Ryan a new mother, because he’s taking his wife back; he tells Edgar to tell Becca keeping them apart is the only way to keep Ryan safe from Homelander. Stan agrees and the men shake on it.

The Supes

Homelander watches a news report in the Vought conference room, and Stormfront joins him. He asks about Black Noir, and she says he’s unresponsive; he may have brain damage but it’s “hard to tell.”

They join Ryan, who’s hanging out with Ashley. Ryan wants to call Becca, but Stormfront asks if he wants to go on a field trip – to Planet Vought (a Planet Hollywood type restaurant). Homelander and Stormfront are besieged by fans, and Ryan gets freaked out at the crowd. He tells Homelander he wants his mom, and Homelander takes Ryan and flies off.

Father of the year #not

At his cabin, Homelander waits outside while Ryan is inside; Stormfront flies to the cabin and tells Homelander to just talk to his son. They go inside and Ryan apologizes; Homelander says he felt the same way when he first encountered a crowd, and he flew away and cried his eyes out. He tells Ryan he’ll help him figure things out because he loves him. It’s a bonding moment.

Later, Homelander is teaching Ryan how to use his heat vision (to melt a Deep action figure!), but he can’t seem to use his powers. Homelander tells Ryan to imagine someone he hates, but Ryan says he doesn’t really hate anyone. Stormfront tells Ryan bad guys want to hurt them because of the color of their skin, and they need people like Ryan to fight on their side. Heavy for a little kid!

The Boys (2)

Butcher goes back to the underground lair, and tells Becca he knows where Ryan is – in a cabin upstate. Hughie is back and tells Butcher how great Becca is; then he shows Butcher what he and Starlight brought back with them. Butcher says the folder from A-Train is a jackpot and it will do nicely. Butcher tells The Boys that getting back Ryan is his job, but they’re not having it; they all prepare to go to war.

Butcher makes a promise

They grab weapons as Hughie takes pictures of some things in A-Train’s folder and shoots off an e-mail with the subject “Stormfront is a Nazi.” Becca grabs a gun and tells Butcher she’s coming with them; she says she likes his friend, especially Hughie, because he’s “good for” Butcher. She asks him to promise he’ll get Ryan back to her because he can’t grow up like Homelander did. He swears to her, on Lenny’s soul, that he will.

Kimiko asks Frenchie what happens if she freezes again when she sees Stormfront; he says she can take care of herself and when the time comes, she’ll know what to do.

Speaking of… Stormfront gets an alert on her phone, gets upset and flies off. She goes to Vought Tower, where newscasts are reporting her Nazi past, including her marriage to Frederick Vought. The Boys see her leave and spring into action.

Endgame (1)

As Homelander and Ryan are watching the news, they hear a deafening sound and Homelander goes out to investigate. He flies off, leaving Ryan, and Butcher and Becca drive to the cabin. They go in and Becca puts headphones on Ryan and the three leave. Meanwhile, Homelander finds the source of the sound – dozens of Vought speakers – and destroys it.

Butcher brings Becca and Ryan back to where The Boys are waiting. He tells MM to get Becca and Ryan to Mallory so she can get them somewhere safe. Becca asks what’s going on and Butcher tells her he cut a deal with Edgar to take Ryan but he couldn’t go through with it.

Vought soldiers come into the cabin looking for Butcher and Ryan as Homelander returns and asks where Ryan is. He kills a soldier and yells his question again…

Are you laughing at me?

Butcher tells Becca to raise Ryan right; they have a tearful goodbye as she gets back in the car with MM and Ryan. As they’re driving away, though, Stormfront arrives and attacks the car, sending it flying and flipping over. Butcher runs to the car as Stormfront marches towards Starlight and The Boys.

MM and Becca get out of the car as Butcher runs up and they get Ryan out; MM tells them to run and they’ll hold off Stormfront.

As Stormfront and Starlight argue, Kimiko has a moment of clarity and starts to laugh. She motions to Frenchie and explains exactly what she plans to do to Stormfront, as Starlight, Stormfront and Kimiko start fighting. Stormfront destroys the EMP device with an electrical explosion, and Kimiko attacks her; the two wrestle the ground but Stormfront gets the upper hand and snaps Kimiko’s neck.

Watching the ladies work

Hughie, MM and Frenchie all shoot Stormfront but the bullets don’t phase her; she sends bolts of electricity towards them, knocking them back. Starlight attacks, but Stormfront knocks her down. Maeve then joins the fight as Kimiko un-snaps (?) her neck and gets back up. Maeve, Kimiko and Starlight then all attack Stormfront as Frenchie, Hughie and MM look on. Stormfront is beaten up but flies off.

Homelander comes out of the cabin, covered in blood, as Stormfront flies to the woods to intercept Butcher, Becca and Ryan. Stormfront shoots Butcher back, but Becca stabs Stormfront in the eye. Stormfront attacks Becca; Butcher tries shooting the Supe then hitting her with a crowbar. Ryan gets upset and his eyes start glowing red and the screen goes white…

We then see Butcher on the ground and when he gets up, he sees a bloody Stormfront on the ground speaking German; her legs and arms are burned off and half her face is also burned. Ryan is crying and apologizes to his mom as we see Becca lying on the ground against a tree, bleeding from her neck. Butcher runs over as Ryan apologizes; Butcher yells for help as Becca tells him “it’s not his fault,” “he’s good,” and to promise he’ll keep him safe. Becca dies in front of him as he cries and kisses her head; Ryan is sobbing and apologizing as Butcher looks over. He grabs the crowbar as Homelander flies down to where they are. Stormfront continues to speak German as Homelander asks Ryan if he “did this.” Ryan says he didn’t mean to, and Homelander calls him over to him, but Ryan stands behind Butcher.

Finally taking control

Homelander laughs and says Ryan is his; he asks Butcher if he’s going to save the one who killed his wife. Butcher says he “promised”, and as Homelander starts walking towards them, Maeve arrives and tells Homelander to stop. She tells Homelander he’s going to let them go, stop hunting Starlight, and leave her and Elena alone or she will release the cell phone footage from the plane.

He says if she does that, he’ll destroy everything and everyone; Maeve says that’s fine as long as no one ever loves him again. He hears crowds chanting his name as Butcher picks up Ryan and walks away.

Endgame (2)

At a press conference, Stan Edgar blames the Washington head-explodey attack solely on Stormfront , as we see Starlight (in her old uniform) with Homelander and Maeve on stage next to him. Edgar says the release of Compound V has been put on hold.

Homelander takes the mic and says Maeve and Starlight neutralized Stormfront, who is being held in an undisclosed location. He apologizes to Starlight for being wrongfully accused, welcomes her back to the team, and assures the public that Stormfront will be punished.

The Deep and A-Train are watching the press conference and Alastair joins them. He tells them someone stole private data regarding Stormfront; Alastair knows it was A-Train. He says Vought needs to take a firm anti-Nazi stance right now, so Alastair spoke to Stan Edgar and A-Train is back in The Seven. Since there was only one slot, though, there’s no room for The Deep. The Deep gets angry for signing over his bank account and everything he had over to the church in exchange for getting back in The Seven; he curses Fresca and leaves.

Hughie meets Starlight in the park and notices she’s wearing the gold cross; she says if Billy Butcher can do the right thing “then there’s got to be some kind of higher power.” He asks her if it’s safe to go back to Vought, but she says she doesn’t know; she just needs to be there. They kiss, and Hughie says he’s going to try to be less clingy – but not with her. They kiss again, and she asks what he was referring to when he said he’d be less clingy…

So that’s a ‘yes’, then?

Butcher and Ryan are sitting by a body of water, and Ryan tells him he’s scared. Butcher takes a St. Christopher medal necklace from his neck and gives it to Ryan; he said it belonged to Becca, who will help keep him safe. Mallory arrives with some black SUVs, and Ryan gets into one and they drive away.

Butcher tells Mallory that Vought will want him back, but she says to let her handle them. She tells him all the charges against him and The Boys have been dropped (even the crimes they did commit – handy!), so he’s a free man. She says the White House is opening an Office of Supe affairs, headed by Victoria Neuman. Victoria is giving Mallory some off the books funding for a secret team to keep tabs on the Supes, if he’s interested…

Postgame

MM goes back home and gets a warm welcome from his daughter; Frenchie and Kimiko leave the underground lair for some dancing.

More than meets the eye

Homelander says he can do “whatever he wants” as he stands on a building, with no pants on, erm, masturbating.

Alastair calls Victoria and congratulates her on the Office of Supe Affairs; she says she knows it was his intel that took down Stormfront. He says he has enough dirt to ruin a dozen Supes and Stan Egdar if she’s willing to expedite his church’s tax exempt status. She says it’s a small price to pay as they hang up.

As he opens a can of Fresca, Alastair’s head explodes; we then see Victoria standing outside his office, using her powers (!).

Victoria goes to her office, where Hughie is waiting. She says she doesn’t know how to repay him; he says she can repay him with a job. He wants to fight Vought – the right way – and since he never fit in with The Boys, it’s time for him to stand on his own two feet. She asks him when he can start and closes her door.

The Wrap Up

So that’s a wrap on season 2! What a roller coaster of a season; deaths, lots of heads exploding, violence and gore, and lots of C words. Overall, if I had to give the season a letter grade, I’d give it a solid B- to B. For me, it was a good season but there were too many storylines that didn’t go anywhere, or were just unnecessary. I think I’ll do another post on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of season 2 since so very much happened in this finale (and this is becoming a novel length recap). What this episode did do well is perfectly set up the already-greenlit-by-Amazon season 3, and I’m anxious to see where The Boys and The Supes go from here with all the new info revealed in the finale. What does a (kinda) government sanctioned Boys team look like, potentially without Hughie? Will Homelander actually go along with Maeve’s blackmail and back off? And what, oh what, is Victoria’s end goal? This show has single handedly taken the super hero genre and flipped it on its head, then blew up its head, leaving a bloody stump. Who could ask for anything more? M

Dough Nuts

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W3: Bread Week

It’s bread week in the tent, and this relatively new challenge in the The Great British Baking Show usually makes for some interesting creations. Baking a cake or cookies is an intricate process, but proving* dough for bread is a whole different challenge entirely.

*In cooking, proofing (also called proving) is a step in the preparation of yeast bread and other baked goods where the dough is allowed to rest and rise a final time before baking. During this rest period, yeast ferments the dough and produces gases, thereby leavening the dough (via Wikipedia)

Before the baking, a writer’s note: This show is called The Great British Bake Off in the UK, but because Pillsbury owns the trademark for the term “Bake Off” in the United States, they changed the title to “Baking Show.”

For the first time since watching this series on Netflix, I noticed how they do the introduction for the US audience: if you watch closely, this week it’s exceptionally clear that Noel and Matt both say “Welcome to The Great British Bake Off,” but the audio is dubbed over at the end to say “Baking Show.” I foolishly thought they just filmed the intro twice, and never noticed this bit of great British trickery! End of note.

Most bakers are nervous about these challenges, as they are not experienced in making bread. Let’s see how things turn out!

Marc has a buttermilk mishap

Signature Challenge

The bakers must make two loaves of soda bread – one sweet and one savory – and a butter to go with them. Prue says she’s expecting lots of cheese, herbs and nuts, and it would be nice to see someone using something different.

Careful what you wish for, Prue… Rowan’s breads have Italian sausage, olives, capers – and polenta?! Peter uses black pudding (no comment) and ginger beer, and Hermine uses smoked salmon and Gruyere cheese.

When they’re done baking, the bakers tap the bottoms of the loaves to make sure they’re hollow inside – pro tip!

Here’s how some turned out:

Salmon + bread = handshake!

Most bakers do well with this challenge, though some breads come out more cake-like, according to Paul; however, Rowan’s Italian-inspired breads didn’t hit the mark.

Hermine’s soda breads earn her this season’s second Hollywood Handshake TM – he says he thinks her breads are very special. #TheFeels.

Technical Challenge

Paul’s advice for his challenge? “You need to get your timings right.” Helpful. This could apply to any situation, in any scenario, really. I wonder how often the bakers even listen to the “advice” because it’s never particularly useful… anyway…

The goal of the Technical Challenge

The challenge is to bake six rainbow colored bagels, and very few of the bakers have made bagels before, let alone with five different colored doughs.

The bakers all have different techniques on twisting, rolling and preparing their rainbow dough, but they all actually seem to be very successful in creating bagel-looking forms of dough. When they prove and then boil, things start to fall apart.

The bakers put their boiled dough in the oven to bake, with a wide array of varying results. Some are very thin, others very flat, and some are over-proved (according to Paul). Overall the bakers got the colors and flavors, but the consistency and shapes are all over the place. Rowan comes in last place; in the top three are Mark in third, Marc in second, and Linda in first.

Over the rainbow

Showstopper Challenge

For the final bread week challenge, Paul and Prue ask the bakers to create – in 3 hours and 30 minutes – a bread plaque, representing a celebration of the thing for which they are most grateful.

The plans are very ambitious; Hermine attempts to make brioche and focaccia to depict her road trips to France. Lottie plans to make her house, in bread, while Peter uses stencils to make the Edinbugh skyline. It’s a good thing they get to practice this type of bake (though seeing them try to do this with no practice at all might be hilarious television), though even with practice many of the bakers have trouble with steps along the way.

The bakers finish their bread plaques, and some are sights to behold! Here are a few of the finished products:

Hermine and Sura get positive comments from the judges; Laura and Peter are less successful. Marc’s Dharma Wheel was impressive all around; when you consider that every one of these constructions was made of bread, it’s impressive to me when any detail comes through – in bread!

Matt announces the week’s star baker is Marc! His Dharma Wheel looked incredible, and according to the judges tasted great as well. Noel announces that the person leaving the tent will be Rowan – who has had a rough go of it for the past few challenges.

So bread week, as usual, was tough for the bakers – though some managed to make some great creations. I think they should just chuck this gimmick; it was a novel idea when it started, but to me it still seems out of place in this competition. I know bread is baked and it’s a Baking Show, and it can’t always be about cake and cookies, but does anyone – the judges, the bakers, the audience, Noel – really enjoy bread week? Let’s leave the savory and the bread out of the baking competition; we could all use more sweet things on TV, right? M