Thoughts on The Good Doctor, Season 1

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April is Autism Awareness Month. As such, I wanted to follow up on my thoughts on The Good Doctor. I also want to give a shout out to Steve from the Youtube channel Tostemac. He is currently doing a series of reviews for each of the episodes on The Good Doctor and I highly recommend them as Steve is someone who also has autism and gives some great perspectives.

Some spoilers ahead!

The second half of The Good Doctor introduced a lot of new characters. Sadly, Lea left after Islands, Part 2. It totally sucks because I wanted to see Shaun explore his new relationship on top of his work. Instead, she goes off to Hershey, Pennsylvania to work with her brother in repairing cars. Soon after Lea leaves, Shaun has a new neighbor named Kenny. I was willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt because he was nice to Shaun, but unfortunately, his criminal past and the way he acted in the finale have taken away my good faith in him.

Speaking of characters I hate, the show also introduces a couple new residents. Doctor Morgan Reznick, whom I not-so-affectionately call “Doctor Barbie” has become the new Hate Sink/Scrappy for the way she fakes nice to patients, but acts mean, manipulative, and cutthroat to basically everyone else, especially Claire. She also dismisses Doctor Kalu as she doesn’t think he’ll get a permanent job at the hospital and sometimes gives bad advice to both him and Shaun.

I call Morgan “Doctor Barbie” because she’s blonde and fake. There’s a way to write Jerkass Doctor characters and still make them likeable. Doctor Cox and his ex-wife Jordan from Scrubs are great examples of this. (I’m not counting Dr. Kelso because he’s basically a Designated Villain.) Dr. Cox is a total jerk to everyone, but it shows that he really does care about people underneath it all. He loves his kids and he even loves JD, but he will never willingly say it out loud to JD’s face. Jordan is self-centered, but her advice is always honest and she’s even affectionate at times. Doctor Morgan has yet to show any depth or any instances where she has to face responsibility for her mistakes. IF she comes back for Season 2, I want to see her undergoing a trial with major stakes because right now, she’s all privilege and no sympathy.

Doctor Alex Park also joins the residents as an ex-cop. I definitely like him, but he almost feels like he should be on another medical drama, like  Chicago Med.  He’s cynical, especially when it comes to anyone with a criminal background. I get that as a cop he’s probably seen the worst of humanity on a daily basis, but doctors aren’t supposed to be judgmental and, you know, most people prefer to use the whole “innocent until proven guilty” mindset. Then again, I consider myself to be an idealist, so it might just be my personal bias.

Doctor Kalu is one character who’s changed the most out of all the residents. After attacking a lecherous doctor in the locker room for harassing Claire,  he gets fired, but gets re-hired by threatening to sue the hospital. His relationship with Claire goes down the drain by “Heartfelt,” but he starts dating someone new towards the end of the season. It’s also shown that he’s looking for other places to work, as it’s very unlikely that he’ll have a permanent job in San Jose. I’m also glad that he’s trusting Shaun and stands up for him when the situation calls for it.

Poor Doctor Claire had a lot to deal with this season. Not only was she harassed by a doctor, but she has to deal with the cutthroat Doctor Morgan and her mother, who is clearly a moocher. In spite of all this, though, she’s still a wonderful character and a great friend for Shaun. I’m still not on the Claire/Shaun ship, though, because there are more moments that tease an interest in Doctor Melendez, who has broken up with his fiancee.

I think Doctor Melendez has really grown on me. He begins to trust Shaun a lot more and he’s shown to be a very fair-minded doctor. He doesn’t get much personal development in the second half beyond the fact that his relationship with Jessica has ended. It’s also implied that Jessica and Glassman were friends in the past, but it’s never given any detail as to how. Based on the finale, I think Jessica knew Glassman’s deceased daughter, but I wish that their friendship was explained more.

The jury is still out on Doctor Andrews. Although he was helpful to Shaun, helping him socialize with others during the fundraiser in “Heartfelt,” he’s still gunning for Glassman’s job in the finale. It’s also shown that he and his wife are trying to have kids, but he has low motility. He’s also mad at Kalu for playing the race card in his attempt at suing the hospital, but I still side with Kalu.

As far as the plots for individual episodes go, I liked some episodes more than others. “Seven Reasons” and “She” are a bit too political for my taste as I don’t believe for a second that Shaun would presume a Muslim patient to be a terrorist just because she was handling chemicals. I get that the patient was lying, but Shaun is way too smart to presume something so extreme. The situation with “She” is also too dicey a subject for me to talk about here.

I liked the episodes “Heartfelt,” “Pain,” and “Smile” more because Shaun gets to interact with patients who either inspire him to change or just connect with him in a sweet way. For example: the patient in “Heartfelt” inspires Shaun to be courageous enough to socialize at the hospital fundraiser. The patient of the week in “Smile” is my favorite, though, because Shaun is reasonable and honest with her and he ends up making her laugh.

I kinda wish some things relating to autism were explored more. The patient of the week in “Pain,” a man who is wheelchair-bound from a spinal cord injury, asked Shaun about if he would hypothetically try out something that would cure autism. That question never gets answered or discussed again. The guy has good intentions, but the problem with that line of thinking is that unlike a spinal cord injury, autism isn’t something that needs to be treated or cured.

I’ve compared autism to having a brain that’s programmed differently, similar to how Macs and Linuxes have different programming than a PC. People with autism need to learn how to better interact with neurotypicals, but there’s nothing short of a frickin lobotomy that will make an autistic person “normal.” You can’t bleach it out of them.

So overall, the first season of The Good Doctor was a great start. And I look forward to Season 2. I hope that the supporting cast gets more development and that the episodes get a little less political. Still, I recommend this show to people on the autism spectrum and for those who want to understand autism. It’s definitely a series that can open up some much-needed discussions.

The Complexity of Forgiveness in “The Crown”

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Season 2 of the hit Netflix original series The Crown centers on the many changes that Elizabeth experiences as she continues her reign. There’s a new Prime Minister, a new love interest for Princess Margaret, and the promise of more children for Elizabeth and Philip.

Amidst all the change, though, one episode caught my interest. “Vergangenheit” centers on the Duke of Windsor as he hopes to gain some kind of diplomatic/liaison position as he has grown tired of endless parties. However, information in regards to the former King Edward’s Nazi sympathies has also surfaced.

One interesting subplot from this particular episode is Elizabeth’s curious fascination with televangelist Billy Graham and actually seeks his advice in regards to forgiveness. Elizabeth examines her conscience as both head of state and head of the Church of England. She needed spiritual direction to figure out how to handle the situation with her uncle. It was utterly absurd to see the Queen of England seek spiritual advice from an American televangelist, but she stated that since she’s the head of the Church in England, there is nobody above her other than God Himself.

In the end, Queen Elizabeth decided that her uncle was still exiled as part of the agreement in his abdication. What was once rumors and hearsay became cold hard facts when she learned about how close England was to becoming a Nazi state. The Duke of Windsor claimed that he just wanted peace. The photographs that were shown at the end of the episode, however, showed that he was really being a coward. As much as he claimed to hold onto his individualism, he wanted to do so at the cost of millions of lives, casting all familial loyalty and love for his people aside. Although the Duke of Windsor initially denied his Nazi sympathies, claiming that he had no idea what kind of person Hitler would become. However, photographs from history show otherwise. If Hitler won the war, Edward and Wallis would’ve been instated as puppets for the Nazi regime.

The reason this particular episode fascinated me is because of how complicated the nature of forgiveness was for Elizabeth. She did the right thing by not allowing her uncle to have any of the positions he aspired to. He couldn’t be trusted with any sort of job that represents England given how he was willing to just lie down and let Hitler walk all over him. However, Elizabeth couldn’t forgive him on a personal level, either and it’s that inability to forgive that weighs down upon her at the end of the episode. Her husband, of course, assures her that she did the right thing and they share a moment of happily married bliss. And all is well for the British monarchy.

I don’t blame Elizabeth for not being able to forgive her uncle on a personal level. As the queen, she has a love for her subjects and was deeply affected by the war on a personal level. However, while she did the right thing in denying her uncle any liaison or diplomatic positions, she should have learned something about forgiveness: It doesn’t mean forgetting what has been done. It means letting go of her anger and wishing the best good for him. I don’t think she would’ve been able to let go after finding out the information, but forgiveness is a process, especially since the Duke of Windsor himself refused to apologize.

There are many actions people deem as unforgivable. “Being a Nazi” tops most people’s lists. Do you think that you can let go of the anger towards people who are fascist and racist? I’ll just leave this video from Bishop Robert Barron where he explains that the reason we forgive is because mercy challenges us to become saints. And I think forgiveness is part of that.

What St. Margaret of Cortona Can Teach to Women

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In recent months, I discovered a saint that I never met before: St. Margaret of Cortona. I first learned her name while I was browsing my parish’s Lighthouse Catholic Media kiosk. There was a CD about her paired with Saint Augustine as a saint for sinners. Given how familiar I was with Augustine’s story, I had to wonder how this other woman could’ve compared in terms of flagrant sinning and heartfelt penance.

It’s a brand new year and in the story of my life, I begin a new chapter as I turn 27 years old. When people reach their birthday, they often reflect on the previous year. In many ways 2016 to me was a year of friendship. I came to value my friends in Heaven, in the city that I call home, in my old hometown, and online. St. Margaret of Cortona became one of these new friends. At the same time, my friendship with two other ladies fell apart. These friendships were with Rory Gilmore and Taylor Swift.

I know what you’re thinking. Rory Gilmore is a fictional character and Taylor Swift is a celebrity. I’m not actually friends with either of them. That is true, but for the longest time, I felt like these two females were like best friends to me. Rory Gilmore was the friend I had in middle school, back when Gilmore Girls was on TV. I related to Rory because she liked to read, she went to a school where everyone wore uniforms like I did, and she wanted to go to college and be a journalist, which were my dreams at the time. Taylor Swift felt like my best friend when I started living in Texas. Her songs of the boys who broke her heart resonated with 16-year-old me and she stayed with me as I transitioned from high school to college and from college into young adulthood.

2016 changed all that. I started binge watching Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the new mini-series revival coming to Netflix in November. (Incidentally: Spoilers ensue for Year In The Life.)

Initially, I felt nostalgic, seeing Stars Hollow and watching Rory survive Chilton and make her way to Yale. When she got started at Yale, though, I started feeling disappointed in her. She was still in love with Dean to the point that she slept with him, even though he was married. She hooks up with Logan in Season 5 and decides to drop out of Yale when she steals a boat as a reaction to Logan’s father telling her she’s not cut out to be a journalist. I skipped Season 7 and jumped straight into Year In The Life in the hopes that things would get better, but the mini-series turned out to be a mixed bag. Rory’s character regressed from bad to worse.

She was perfectly happy being Logan’s mistress until she realizes that he was going to honor his “arranged marriage.” And mind you, I actually liked Logan for a while. I also didn’t like her “struggles” in making a living as a freelance writer. She didn’t put much effort into chasing stories that would land her a byline. The only story she did pursue bored her to death and she slept with a guy dressed as a Wookie in the process. There was a website that wanted her to write for them, but she showed up to the interview completely unprepared and later lashed out at the website’s owner when she gave the job to someone else. Then, of course, was the end of the mini-series. I don’t want to spoil for those who didn’t watch. All I can say is I rolled my eyes and went “Here we go again.”

As far as Taylor Swift went, she started 2016 off well, but the pedestal I had for her shook when she broke up with Calvin and started having a feud with him. Bad news in regards to Taylor Swift kept coming. I hated that she dated Tom Hiddleston and felt happy when they broke up. I was hoping she’d start making a new album, as she did every two years, but instead, towards the end of 2016, she released a song she did from former One Direction band member Zayn for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack.

It felt like a stab in the back. I looked the other way when she became friends with Lena Dunham and tried to make peace with her removing her songs from Spotify. But for someone who claimed to be a feminist, contributing a song to a movie that continue to glamorize an abusive relationships was the last thing I wanted her to do. What’s worse is that the lyrics are sad, and not in the sad, beautiful, tragic way some of her other songs were. “I Don’t Want To Live Forever’s” lyrics capture a state of despair and co-dependent tendencies. I wanted Taylor to be happy and thought that she was after releasing 1989 and being in a relationship with Calvin. The Taylor I knew doesn’t exist anymore.

So back to Margaret of Cortona. What does she have with these two ladies? Well, like Taylor Swift, her life was sort of like the beginning of a fairy tale. She had a tumultuous relationship with her father and a stepmother who could give Lady Tremaine or Regina Mills a run for their money. Margaret, however, had an independent spirit, which gave her the strength to stand up to her wicked stepmother. Unfortunately, she was also “by nature one of those women who thirst for affection, in whom to be loved is the imperative need of their lives,” according to Fr. Albert Goodier. She became willful and reckless and eventually left her family.

Starved for love and being a woman who was quite beautiful, Margaret eventually became the mistress of a wealthy nobleman and ends up having his child. It’s not unlike how Rory Gilmore spent almost a decade being Logan’s mistress and feeling complacent in that relationship until he honors his marriage to someone else. But unlike Rory Gilmore, whose story arc in Year in the Life can be summed up as being the Poor Little Rich Girl, Margaret actually tried to make something of her life even after she leaves her love her and her family disowns her.

St. Margaret of Cortona went to live with an order of Franciscan monks who helped her take care of her kid. She dedicated the rest of her life to atoning for her former sinful life. Like Saint Francis, she worked for her meals and took whatever her employers paid her. Eventually, she would give her wages to those who needed it more. She founded a hospital, created a confraternity so that the hospital would always have employees, and eventually helped to restore a church.

So why am I writing about St. Margaret of Cortona now? According to Fr. Goodier, St. Margaret had her change of heart around the age of 27. As of right now, I am the same age as Taylor Swift and five years younger than Rory Gilmore. If there’s one New Year’s Resolution that I want to keep this year, it’s that I pick some better role models. I think St. Margaret of Cortona would be a good one for me, as well as for single moms and any other woman with relationship issues.

St. Margaret of Cortona, pray for us.

Welcome to Earth: A Supergirl Recap

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This episode feels very “ripped from the headlines,” as it addresses the current refugee crisis using aliens as a metaphor. Lynda Carter guest stars as the President of the United States. Kara interviews the anti-alien Lena Luthor as well as the mysterious Kryptonian who escaped from the DEO who turns out to be a Daxamite, a sister planet to Krypton.

Kara weighs over her pro-alien views with her prejudice against Mon-El, the Daxamite. Most of the time, Supergirl would act on the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. However, she assumes that Mon-El attempted to kill the President. She learns, from working on her interview with Lena and getting feedback from Snapper Carr, that she has to be neutral when reporting, regardless of how she feels about the issue. She also learns that she was wrong to assume the worst about Mon-El because the real villain was a red-headed firestarter alien who saw the Alien Amnesty Act as a backdoor for alien registration.

Since Lynda Carter is guest starring in this episode, there were a couple shout-outs to Wonder Woman. Supergirl does the iconic spinning that Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman was famous for. There’s also a reference to Wonder Woman’s invisible jet towards the end.

However, the biggest surprise in this episode was at the stinger, when one of the bartenders at the pro-alien bar is revealed to be a young female Martian. “Hello, Megan!” or so my brother and I would say. (#onlyYoungJusticefanswillgetthis)

One interesting thing to note in this episode is that it introduces Maggie Sawyer, a local cop who embraced a pro-alien lifestyle. She’s also a lesbian and it’s heavily hinted that Alex is very interested in her. I won’t even bother to give my opinion because Tumblr’s already shipping them.

There are two major drawbacks to this episode. One was that the actual villain of the show wasn’t even given a name on-screen. Given that the redheaded lady was a firestarter, I initially thought she was Volcana, a well-known Superman femme fatale. However, the guide on TV Tropes lists her as Scorcher, a DC villain with no ties to the Superman universe whatsoever.

It’s also clear that Mon-El is intended to be Supergirl’s love interest. Coming from two different planets that used to be sworn enemies? The two of them having prejudices about each other that they have to overcome? Dealing with the loss of their respective home planets? You’re basically asking me to ship them.

Except I don’t. Not yet anyway. If the show intends for Mon-El and Kara to be a couple, I need to see Mon-El as a person first and not just as a representative of an alien species that Kara and the other Kryptonians looked down upon.

I’m really glad that this episode is making fans aware of the issues, but I hope the rest of the season has less ripped-from-the-headlines episodes. Next episode proves to be promising as it’s not only a cool Halloween special, with characters in masks, but Dichen Lachman is guest starring as the villain! As a Dollhouse fan, I’m already hyped!

The Last Children of Krypton: Supergirl Recap

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Superman has arrived on the scene in National City and Kara is enjoying working together with her cousin. To my surprise, the people who aren’t enjoying this are Hank and Alex.  Hank isn’t enjoying it due to the fallout he had with Superman and they don’t agree with what to do with the mysterious Kryptonian who causes periodical outages throughout the building.

Thanks to Cadmus, John Corben has been recreated into Metallo. He shows up again on the bridge, luring the SuperCousins into a trap. After getting defeated by Metallo, the two head back to the DEO and find out about a shipment of kryptonite that went missing. Cadmus reveals themselves to the world in a hijacked message. Winn gets to work on creating anti-kyptonite armor.

Meanwhile, Kara is excited about her new job as a reporter. Unfortunately, her new boss is not exactly as perky as she is. Snapper Carr is not as young or as happy-go-lucky as his comic book counterpart, but he does make angry snap judgments. He wants Kara to prove herself as a reporter, telling her to earn her job. Cat Grant, of course, won’t take any of Kara’s whining, either, telling her that she’s taking a leave of absence. Kara admits that she doesn’t do well with change, which is something I can totally relate to. The two of them share a heartfelt hug and I realize that it’s for the best that Cat leaves because, as I stated before, Kara needs to learn how to stand on her own as Kara Danvers as well as when she’s Supergirl.

Kara goes home with her sister and contemplates moving to Metropolis to be Clark’s sidekick. Alex calls Kara out on the idea of running away from her problems. Alex points out that she made a lot of sacrifices to protect Kara, including giving up medical school. Kara gets a call from Clark who identified the metal skeleton as being made of Prometheum. The SuperCousins finds Metallo under a bridge, but it turns out to be a trap, as there is another Metallo in Metropolis, attacking Krypton Park.

Alex complains to Winn about her anger towards Kara, but Winn, as a former foster child, reminds Alex that she shouldn’t act so entitled towards Kara. The two of them then realize that Kryptonite leaves a radioactive residue and quickly figure out who gave the Kryptonite to Cadmus. Supergirl returns, only to find out that Alex set the mole up…only to get ambushed by Cadmus. Alex stands up to Cadmus, pointing out that she managed to kill a Kryptonian, but isn’t blinded by their extreme prejudice against aliens. Supergirl rescues her sister and the two apologize to each other. The two of them then get the idea to team up. And thankfully, Winn’s armor is ready to go.

Alex and Kara team up to take down John in National city while Martian Manhunter and Superman take down the other Metallo in Metropolis. I also love that Alex is wearing the armor she originally used to fight Supergirl from last season. The fight scenes are awesomesauce with both Metallos keeping the Supercousins on the ropes. Thankfully, Martian Manhunter and Alex are able to take the Metallos down. Supergirl sends a message to Cadmus that she is ready for them while the lead scientist is all “Bring it on.”

Supergirl goes to CatCo to wish Cat all the best for her leave of absence. She tells Cat to visit sometimes and then changes back to Kara to return to her job. James Olsen takes over Cat’s old job as CEO of CatCo and Kara submits a report about the Metallo attacks to Snapper, putting on her best tough face. It’s left to be seen if Snapper has a heart of gold underneath his jerk exterior, but I like him so far.

Hank hands over the kryptonite to Superman. Winn gets to hug his idol and Supergirl hopes that they can team up again soon. Clark lands safely in Metropolis and gets a call from Perry White. Meanwhile, Kara sits at the side of the mysterious Kryptonian who wakes up and grabs her by the throat, ending the episode.

This episode pushes things forward. I’m glad that Kara doesn’t have to worry about standing in Superman’s shadow. And thankfully, Superman doesn’t outshine our leading lady at all. It’s sad to see Cat go due to Calista’s refusal to work outside of LA, but Snapper Carr will be a good character to get to know, especially since he’s different from his comic book counterpart. I just hope that the mysterious Kryptonian won’t be some stupid love interest for Kara because SuperFlash ship aside, it feels very, very contrived and way too convenient.

The Adventures of Supergirl: A Recap

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The beginning of the second season picks up where the first season left off, with Supergirl and Martian Manhunter discovering a mysterious pod from Krypton. Supergirl looks inside and discovers a Kryptonian man inside. After discovering this mysterious Kryptonian, J’onn takes Supergirl to a new DEO facility, with some jokes at the old base from the first season. This is the first indicator of the network jump. Since the show films in Vancouver as opposed to Los Angeles, it makes sense that some locations would change as well. It also explains why Lucy Lane, who joined up with the DEO last season, is nowhere to be seen in this episode.

Kara returns to work the following morning and discusses her new promotion with her boss, Cat Grant. At first, Kara thinks her ideal career would be marketing because she got that result from an online quiz. Cat, of course, ain’t buying it.

Kara is given some time off (48 hours to be exact) to figure out what career she wants, but she spends some of that time on her first date with James Olsen. However, the date gets interrupted by breaking news of a spacecraft called the Venture crashing into Earth. Supergirl goes to save it, but this time, she’s not alone. Her cousin, Superman (played by Tyler Hoechlin), also arrives to help. Once they land the Venture on the ground, the two of them revel in the moment of working together for the first time. Supergirl then proceeds to tease her cousin in front of a few civilians who were biking along the way.

When the SuperCousins arrive at the DEO, everyone reacts as if, to quote my brother, “the President just came in.” Winn goes into total fanboy mode. The only one who greeted Superman in a less than friendly demeanor is J’onn and Alex takes notice. The SuperCousins examine the mysterious Kryptonian, but not much information is given aside from the fact that he’s around their age. Then they decide, along with Martian Manhunter, to investigate why the Venture almost crash-landed, starting with Clark doing some work at CatCo.

It is hilarious to see the usually unflappable Cat Grant falling all over herself for Clark. What’s even more hilarious is how Clark is totally aware of said crush. Thankfully, he’s perfectly happy with Lois Lane. Kara gets a call and tells Clark that one of the passengers who was supposed to be on the Venture was Lena Luthor, Lex Luthor’s sister.

We cut to a mysterious underground lair where a man named Corben tests out a drone weapon. He kills the man selling him the drone and gets a call from someone who works for the Luthors. Meanwhile, the SuperCousins investigate Lena Luthor (played by Katie McGrath aka Morgana LeFay from Merlin). She tells them that she’s planning on renaming the company to try and restore the company’s reputation and get it out of Luthor’s menacing shadow. She gives them information on the part of the Venture that exploded since it was created by a subsidiary of LutherCorp.

After investigating LutherCorp, Clark and Kara take a walk out on the street. Kara asks him for advice because her life feels out of balance while Clark seems to have it all. He tells her that she’ll figure things out eventually.

Back at the DEO, Alex finds out that J’onn and Superman had a falling out after they found a meteor made entirely out of Kryptonite. J’onn made the decision to keep it. Superman did not agree with it. Winn gets information that indicates Lena was targeted in the Venture crash. The show cuts to Lena on a helicopter, surrounded by attack drones.

Corben, speaking through the drones, gives the SuperCousins an ultimatum of either letting him kill Lena or have his attack drones let loose on the city. Thankfully, the two of them are able to work together. Supergirl saves Lena from the helicopter while Superman took care of the drones that were let loose onto the city.

Kara returns to work and has another talk with Cat, who tells her that starting a new chapter in life means becoming a new version of yourself. She tells Kara to keep taking risks, to take the plunge, so to speak.

At the DEO, Winn examines the drone and forensics links the drone to Corben. Martian Manhunter and Superman have a talk after Alex’s prompting. They discuss J’onn keeping the Kryptonite.

Kara walks with Lena to the press conference announcing the LuthorCorp rebranding. Alex and James are in the crowd, keeping an eye on things. Suddenly, the whole plaza is riddled with explosions, including one at the LutherCorp building. The SuperCousins keep the building from falling while Alex fights off Corben, who is dressed as a police officer. Supergirl goes to fix the building, with some information that J’onn and Winn provide her.

The action in this scene is top notch, with Alex fighting off Corben and Supergirl using her laser vision to weld some I-beams onto a broken column. Once that’s done, she comes to her sister’s rescue, only for Lena to shoot Corben.

Things settle down at the newly made L-Corp with Lena congratulating Clark on his article and complimenting Kara on her investigative skills. This prompts Kara to return to CatCorp with her decision as to what she wants to do: she decides to be a field reporter. Cat congratulates Kara on her decision and then shows Kara the resume she submitted. Cat had a feeling that Kara would eventually become a reporter because of the kind of person Kara is.

There’s also some foreshadowing in this scene that implies that Cat might retire or change her job somehow. This is because Calista Flockhart is now a recurring cast member as opposed to a member of the main cast due to her refusal to move away from Los Angeles. I’m glad that she still wants to be a part of this show in spite of the distance between LA and Vancouver, and I hope I can still see as much of Cat as possible in this season.

Meanwhile, Winn joins up with the DEO since he can do more than just IT work there. Kara and Clark have another rapport where Clark decides on staying in National City for a little longer to help Kara out and reconnect with the stuff he misses about Krypton. Then they go on to save the day, up, up, and away.

The episode ends with Corben in some kind of dark laboratory in Cadmus with a woman injecting him with something that turns him into Metallo. It’s clear that Cadmus Labs, or whatever they’re called here, will be the Big Bad for this season.

This episode centers on Kara trying to figure out what she wants to do with her civilian life, given that she has finally hit her stride as Supergirl. Cat advises her that she needs to figure out her career beyond an internet search. I know that Cat’s speeches can be a bit overbearing at times, but I related to what she told Kara in this instance. Like Kara, I feel stuck in life and there are times in life when I don’t really know what I want. Trying new things, such as going to cons, and meeting new people helped me with understanding my vocation.

Clark Kent’s establishing scene was pitch-perfect, showing Clark as the mild-mannered reporter who answers to a very demanding Perry White. They cast a wonderful actor for the role because he’s able to carry that mild-mannered demeanor while having a totally different air when he becomes Superman. It’s so weird for me to say this, but I like Tyler when he’s Clark rather than as Superman. He’s way cuter being the clumsy adorkable reporter. I just hope that he doesn’t stay for the whole season. I want the season to focus on Kara standing on her own as Supergirl and it’ll be hard to do that when she finds herself under Superman’s shadow.

Another subplot in this episode focused Kara’s relationship with James Olsen. I know that I was really rooting for them last season, but I only wanted James to be with Kara because my first priority was that Kara would be happy. (Translation: I shipped them, but they were not my OTP.) I was essentially happy with any guy she wanted to be with, which was why I never shipped her with Winn. I still think that while Kara and James could’ve taken things slow while Kara got used to her new job, I’m glad they broke things off amicably. Mostly because the guy I really ship her with exists in another show. You might know him. He’s the fastest man alive, totally adorkable, and perfect for Kara given how they teamed up before.

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Yeah, I ship Superflash. Save the hate for tumblr. I don’t care!

This episode gets a 9/10. Season 2 is off to a great start!

Why Seeing Red Is The Worst Episode of Buffy: Defending Spike Part 1

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This is the first of a series of essays anonymously defending the character of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer written by my friend Scholastica and edited by me. To this day, the fandom is divided about whether Spike was better as a villain or as an anti-hero, whether Buffy and Spike really loved each other or not, and especially about what is called “the bathroom incident” or “the attempted rape scene” in the Season 6 episode Seeing Red. There are mentions of abusive relationships, sexual violence, and other uncomfortable “trigger warning phrases” throughout this series of essays. However, Scholastica and I feel that these things need to be said because we both love Buffy, the titular character, and the character of Spike. So please read these essays with an open mind. Civil discussions are welcome, but keep in mind I moderate comments here.  You have been warned.

 


One of the most controversial plot lines of Season Six of
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the torrid and abusive affair that springs up between the newly-resurrected titular hero of the series and the soulless but chipped vampire Spike.  The half-season story arc involves violent and secretive sex between the two characters, angry verbal spats, and one brutal scene in an empty alley.  All of this ugliness culminates in the horrific bathroom scene of Seeing Red, in which Spike attempts to assault Buffy.  In the aftermath of this painful scene, Spike journeys to Africa, and audiences are led to believe he is trying to remove his chip so that he can return to being the Big Bad.  Instead, the vampire undergoes strenuous trials and ends the season by regaining his soul.

Internet commentary reveals that Seeing Red is one of the most divisive episodes of the show.  Former fans of the character often find themselves unable to forgive Spike’s actions.  For the vampire’s detractors, the attempted rape is proof that his love for Buffy was never real.  “Spuffy” shippers who continue to love Spike after Seeing Red are sometimes accused of justifying or dismissing rape.  Now, I have no intention of excusing Spike’s actions in Seeing Red.  He attempts to rape Buffy and needs to undergo penance.  I believe he does. However, the episode does not change how I feel about him or his relationship with Buffy.  This essay, the first in a series that defends Spike as a character, explains why.

Before beginning, however, I would like to put forward a disclaimer:  I view Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a practicing Catholic.  I do not mention this fact because I am trying to convert anyone or dreg up controversial Church teachings, so I would politely ask that no one troll this essay or the next ones about subjects they do not address.  I realize that Joss Whedon is an atheist and that, like most shows on television in the twenty-first century, the bulk of the romantic relationships depicted on Buffy are illicit by Catholic standards.  I happen to believe that Christians should still engage with art that disagrees with their worldview, and the wonderful thing about the Slayerverse is that it brings up all sorts of fascinating moral and philosophical issues that viewers from diverse backgrounds will likely interpret differently.  I bring up my own religious background mainly because it would be impossible for me to address such topics as the nature of love and morality, free will, ensoulment, and redemption without drawing openly upon the Thomistic philosophical tradition that undergirds so much of my Catholic faith.

Ironically, these issues are much easier to explore in rockier relationships than in easy-going ones, making Spike and Buffy’s romantic entanglement a perfect avenue.  The “Spuffy” relationship exemplifies in many ways the increasingly complex moral universe of the show itself. Throughout seasons Two through Four of Buffy, all soulless vampires were claimed to be incapable of moral good.  By Season Five, this assumption no longer seems set in stone.  Moreover, as the series progresses, it portrays more and more human villains.  By the end of Season Six, even the heroes are shown making serious moral mistakes.

Set against the backdrop of this increasing moral complexity, the attempted rape in Seeing Red seems like an awkward late-series attempt to restore the paradigms set up in the early seasons of Buffy.  For the past two seasons, the writers themselves have appeared unsure how to treat the “monster” who wants to be a man for his beloved.  The bathroom scene is apparently their answer to the question of whether or not Spike can be good without the oft-mentioned soul.  Unfortunately, it does not really accomplish this task because the scene itself feels forced and unnatural.  Like many viewers, I consider the attempted rape to be borderline character assassination of Spike.  Not only do I object to the way it is presented on the show, I also believe that it does not fit with what has been slowly established about Spike’s background and personality through the past seasons.  Thus, for the rest of this essay, I will explore my manifold objections to the scene.

 

Objection #1: The Scene is Unnecessary to Advance the Narrative

This objection is actually the least bothersome for me because I do understand the sort of hero’s journey the writers were trying to tell:  A beloved character hits rock bottom and commits the most heinous sin the show’s feminist universe can imagine.  It should be unforgivable, but the possibility of forgiveness is raised nonetheless.  Confronted with his own interior ugliness, the character goes on a quest to redeem himself.  Most of the psychological force of this narrative is blunted because the writers were also trying to trick viewers into thinking Spike was on his way to Africa to remove the chip.  Nevertheless, it would make for a good story if it were not for the other objections on my list.  The point of this objection is not that the story they were trying to tell is lacking in cathartic satisfaction.  Rather, it is that it was not the only way to spur Spike towards redemption.  The beauty of fiction is that writers have an infinite number of ways to get characters from point A to point B, and while not all stories are equally compelling, there were plenty of other options for Spike that could have served just as well.

For instance, there were a number of Spike lovers who would have preferred a soulless redemption for the vampire.  I actually have a lot of sympathy for this position.  This may surprise some readers, given that Catholics are generally pretty big on souls, but I think it makes a lot of narrative sense.  Because I plan on delving into the issue of vampire souls in more depth in my next two essays, I would prefer not to spend too much time discussing it here.  Suffice to say that I believe the soul canon in Slayerverse is sufficiently murky that a soulless redemption could have been believable.  Moreover, a good portion of Spike’s appeal is due to his ability to defy the apparent norms of vampire metaphysics, and a soulless redemption would have seemed like a natural extension of this aspect of his character.  I am not saying this is my preferred solution, but it would have been a plausible option.

The general impression I have gotten from fans who prefer soulless redemption is that a lot of their objections to Spike’s ensoulment have to do with the heavy effect it has on his character.  Whatever else the acquisition of a vampire’s soul may bring, it does seem pretty intertwined with feelings of intense guilt. While I do consider contrition a necessary component of redemption, I can also understand why advocates of soulless redemption dislike the guilt-fest.  In Season Seven, the newly-souled Spike is put through a tremendous among of physical and mental suffering, retreating in the first half of the season to a dank basement where his insanity is given full play.  He comes dangerously close to being transformed from a fun-loving punk rocker to a brooder like Angel, Buffy’s first vampire lover.  I’ll admit that I loved seeing Spike get his taste for a good fight (and his awesome coat) back in Get it Done.  With or without his soul, I prefer to see the sort of penitence that fits his personality, not Angel’s.

For me, the real advantage of a soulless redemption arc, however, is less about avoiding all the Angel-style broodiness and more about how the other characters react to the change.  For so much of Season Six, Buffy and the Scoobies justify their mistreatment of Spike by citing his presumed soullessness.  One of the unfortunate side effects of him getting his soul back is that it allows Buffy to change her opinion of him without having to confront the past cruelty she inflicted upon him.  While she does admit in one scene of Never Leave Me that his changes began before his ensoulment, she does not really dwell on his pre-soul moral growth.  Instead, whenever she addresses his detractors in Season Seven, her defense of him always begins with “It’s different now.  He has a soul.”  The soul comes across less as a requirement for morality than something all the cool kids have to have in order to please their peers.

Despite these considerations, I do have a slight preference for souled redemption because the quest to regain his soul works very nicely with the chivalric tropes I believe underline Spike’s character.  However, I still dislike using attempted rape as the catalyst for this soul quest, when there were a number of other ways to push Spike to embark upon it.  For instance, our boy could have continued to backslide into lesser crimes, much like the ones he committed in Season Five.  Such a narrative would make his decision to seek a soul the result of the realization that his good intentions were not enough without a moral compass.  Instead of reversing all the moral progress that has been made, his soul quest would be the natural culmination of the previous season’s character arc.  Alternatively, he could have sought the soul after the brutal beating Buffy gives him in Dead Things, either as an effort to understand her pain or to prove her harsh assessment of him wrong.  He could also have sought it after her rejection of him in As You Were, in order to be considered worthy of a continued relationship with the Chosen One.  He could even have sought it after the painful post-Anya scene in Entropy, when he seems so depressed that he almost welcomes death at Xander’s hands.  Any of these options would have seemed more in character with Spike in Season Six.  Regardless of what alternative one prefers, the point is that there were many ways of getting him to that cave in Africa without the bathroom scene.

Objection #2: It is only partially true that Buffy is responsible for stopping Spike

This is another relatively minor point, but one I cannot help making.  Technically, yes, the whole horrible scene ends because Buffy gives Spike a good kick that brings him up short.  Personally, I would have liked to see Spike stop himself (barring, of course, completely eliminating the scene altogether).  However, I suspect that the writers ended it the way they did in order to show a woman successfully fighting off a potential rapist, and I think that is a worthy enough message to send to female viewers that ultimately I accept the need for Buffy’s kick on those grounds.  A woman should never assume that words alone will end an assault and victims should fight back.  However, I will point out that Buffy’s kick might only have halted the attack temporarily.  She does not kill him or incapacitate him in any way.  Nor does she immediately try to escape.  If he had truly wanted to rape Buffy, the kick might only have given him a moment’s hesitation before he tried again.  In fact, I suspect that many real-life rapists might actually become more enraged by the kick.  Spike is clearly horrified.  So while her actions do (rightfully) halt the attack, I think it should be taken into consideration that the vampire is not evil enough to try again.  This does NOT remove his responsibility for the original attempt and I am not trying to argue that he should be given credit for not continuing his attack.  What I am saying is that perhaps it should give us pause that plenty of souled human males would have gone back for a second round of struggling.  I think this reveals something about his understanding of the situation and his intentions, which I will explore in a later objection.

Objection #3: The scene feels out of character for Spike at this point.

I actually think that it is out of character for him at every point in his personal evolution, but especially so by Season Six.  I am not saying that their relationship is a particularly healthy one or that Spike’s evil inclinations are fully in the rearview mirror.  What I am saying is that raping the woman he loves no longer seems like something he would try to do, if it ever had been part of him to begin with.  I found his attempted rape out of character for at least three reasons: 1) the scene does not fit with how sex has been connected to violence in their relationship up to this point 2) the scene provides no plausible motive for the attempted rape that fits either Spike’s personality or his relationship to Buffy and 3) the scene ignores the character development that has happened through the past two seasons.

Top 5 Supergirl Episodes (Season 1)

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I. Love. Supergirl. So. Frickin. Much. No, the show isn’t perfect. The pacing can be a bit too quick at times, some emotional scenes are heavy-handed and the more cynical critics out there will probably argue that there aren’t really any original plotlines. “It’s just Supergirl given Superman’s stories,” they say.

The thing about an adaptation, though, is that the best ones can stand on their own without the need of knowing all that there is to know about the source material. What makes Supergirl work is the emotional drive that’s within every episode and all the dynamic, endearing characters. I’ve waxed poetic on how I felt about the characters in a previous post, so since the first season has ended, I’m gonna list off my Top 5 favorite episodes of Supergirl.

WARNING: SPOILERS ENSUE

5. Strange Visitor From Another Planet

When I think back to when I knew this show was starting to get off the ground, I think about this episode. It centers on J’onn J’onzz as he not only has to deal with anti-alien Senator Miranda Crane and the possibility of General Lane taking over the DEO, but he also has to confront the White Martian, an extraterrestrial species from Mars that killed all the Green Martians except for J’onn. What’s scary about the White Martian is that it can take the form of any person.  In this case, it takes the form on Senator Crane, on a mission to destroy the last Son of Mars once and for all.

My friend Cordelia lovingly refers to Martian Manhunter as a “telepathic marshmallow” in the sense that underneath the rough exterior, J’onn is a real softie. While we don’t get to see much of J’onn’s soft side, a crucial part of his backstory gets revealed in this episode. The reason why he’s so willing to protect Alex and Kara is because he had two daughters of his own on Mars.

But the best parts of the episode center on Supergirl. Not only was she able to rescue the real Senator Crane, but she was able to stop Martian Manhunter from killing the White Martian. And both of them were done without her using her powers. Instead, she appeals to the better nature of both Crane and J’onzz. Supergirl’s resolve to do the right thing without resorting to violence softens Senator Crane’s heart and gets the DEO another prisoner. The best thing about the episode, though, is that the bond between J’onn, Alex, and Kara became stronger than ever.

4. Falling

There’s always going to be at least one episode in a series where the protagonist goes evil for a day. Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Season 2 opener “When She Was Bad” showed Buffy acting like a b-i-t-c-h because of her unresolved issues that lingered from defeating the Master in Season 1. In Smallville, Clark would fall under the influence of Red Kryptonite, which would cause him to act in the most selfish manner possible. Unfortunately, the same would come for Supergirl in this episode

While saving a team of firefighters, Kara gets infected from Red Kryptonite that was stuck on the roof of the burning building. Like in Smallville, Kara’s most selfish instincts come to the surface. She acts like a petulant teenager and dresses up for work like she’s gonna walk onto a runway instead of the very preppy, sweet looks that Kara is normally associated with. I have to give the wardrobe department points for not dressing Kara up like a Playboy Bunny. Just because you act like a skank doesn’t mean you dress like one!

One good thing that came from Kara’s bad girl attitude is that the equally bratty Siobhan Smythe gets fired for trying to sell a story undermining Supergirl to the Daily Planet. But other than that, Kara’s bad girl attitude completely destroys everyone’s faith in Supergirl, especially towards the end when Supergirl essentially turns into her Aunt Astra. I hated seeing her act out against Cat, cause chaos in National City, and forcing J’onn to expose himself as Martian Manhunter. It hurt me more that National City stopped lauding Supergirl as their hero (from the girl throwing away her homemade costume to the firemen taking down their sign).

But what makes this episode different from the other two shows is that Kara’s actions aren’t easily forgiven. She is held accountable by Cat and the people of National City. In Buffy and Smallville, the heroics of the main characters are always done in secret. Buffy’s bad actions are easily forgiven by her friends and Clark’s actions under the influence of Red K are swept under the rug. The characters, as heroic as they are, aren’t forced to deal with the fallout caused by their mistakes. Kara, on the other hand, spends a few episode picking up the pieces and I like that for a while, she has to atone and make things right again. It feels a lot more realistic.

3. World’s Finest

Somebody in Heaven must have connections with the show’s creators because as soon as I heard that there would be a Supergirl/Flash crossover, I was immediately hyped up. Watching the crossover after Superman vs Batman felt like a big sigh of relief because Supergirl and the Flash got along as soon as they met and they worked well together as a team, even if they had a bit of a rough start in battling Livewire and Silver Banshee. (And yes, I totally ship Kara/Barry and want some kind of infinite crisis to happen so that these two adorable baby dorks can be together again. Shut up!)

The pacing in this episode is a bit too fast and there wasn’t enough scenes of Kara as Supergirl and Barry as the Flash actually doing well in a fight together. If anything, this should’ve been a two-parter. But for what it’s worth, it’s still an emotionally compelling crossover.

One reason why I loved it is because the more experienced Barry is the only one who understands Supergirl’s issues. Supergirl is desperate to redeem herself after the Red K incident, but Barry knows that finding forgiveness takes time. So it’s majorly heartwarming when, after Supergirl gets zapped unconscious while saving a helicopter from Livewire, that the people of National City rally to protect Supergirl. Then, as an added bonus, the firemen that Supergirl saved earlier hose Livewire down. If I had it my way, it would’ve been a cool Han Solo kind of moment so that Flash and Supergirl can make the finishing move, but again, this episode had major pacing issues.

In spite of the episode’s flaws, “World’s Finest” is just a lot of fun to watch. It’s awesome that CBS and the CW were willing to work with each other to allow this to happen. The chemistry that Barry has with everyone is just perfect and I hope that there will be more opportunities for the Girl of Steel to meet the Scarlet Speedster again.

(Seriously, you two. JUST KISS ALREADY!)

2. Better Angels

The finale of this show was SO CLOSE to perfect. The reason why I put this episode at number 2 is that I really had to suspend my disbelief for a few things. While it’s understandable that Superman can’t overshadow his cousin, it would’ve made sense to have at least seen his face once, especially since Kara needed all the help she could get in destroying Fort Rozz. Also, how was Alex able to fly Kara’s pod?

But that’s neither here nor there. Overall, this episode is the perfect example of what I look for in a TV show. As I’ve said before, the reason I love Supergirl so much is because it promotes hope. I am tired of post-apocalyptic dystopias like The 100 Divergent Bone Maze Games. I am tired of heroes who isolate themselves in the name of keeping everyone safe. Supergirl shows that having friends does not make you weak or put those you love in certain peril. As Kara said “Love bonds us all.”

I knew that this show had stolen my heart the minute Supergirl said this speech to National City:

People of National City. This is Supergirl and I hope you can hear me. We have been attacked. Mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors, children, everyone, suddenly stopped by a force of evil as great as this world has ever known. Your attacker has sought to take your free will, your individuality, your spirit. Everything that makes you who you are. When facing an attack like this, it’s easy to feel hopeless. We retreat, we lose our strength, lose our self. I know. I lost everything when I was young. When I first landed on this planet, I was sad and alone. But I found out that there is so much love in this world out there for the taking, and you, the people of National City, you helped me. You let me be who I’m meant to be. You gave me back to myself. You made me stronger than I ever thought possible, and I love you for that. Now, in each and every one of you, there is a light, a spirit, that cannot be snuffed out. That won’t give up. I need your help again. I need you to hope.

Hope. That you can remember that you can all be heroes. Hope. That when faced with an enemy determined to destroy your spirit, you will fight back and thrive. Hope. That those who once may have shunned you will, in a moment of crisis, come to your aid. Hope. That you will see the faces of those you love and perhaps those you lost. 

The rest of the episode was suspenseful. I felt like I was watching Buffy’s “Prophecy Girl” again because both episodes center on a blonde protagonist going on a suicide mission to take down the ultimate Big Bad only to not end up dead. But as I said before, Supergirl never really has to fight alone.

Other awesome things to note are the epic fight, Kara lifting Fort Rozz into space all by herself, Alex saving her adoptive sister, Kara’s promotion, and the adorableness that is J’onn J’onzz in an apron.

But since the renewal for Season 2 is still up in the air, the finale had to go and sequel hook. For crying out loud, can you not writers?!

 

1.For the Girl Who Has Everything

This is my favorite episode of the season for a lot of reasons. One, it’s a standalone episode with a clean ending and no cliffhangers. Secondly, it’s one of the few adaptations of one of the most famous Superman comic storylines “For the Man Who Has Everything” by Alan Moore. But the reason I love this episode the most is because of the emotional stakes. Kara is literally given everything she ever wanted, deluded by the Black Mercy into thinking she’s still on Krypton and that her family (including Aunt Astra and a young Kal-El) are all with her.

It’s up to Alex to save her sister from the Black Mercy. And the way that it all goes down is heartbreaking and yet resonates as so true. Life is painful and yet, when we work past the pain, we can find happiness that goes beyond just getting whatever we want on a silver platter.

The biggest thing, though, was that this episode inspired me to write. Any episode where I want to write something as good as what I saw (as opposed to “I can write better than that”) is definitely doing its job.

 

So. CBS. Renew Supergirl already. If not, CW, get Supergirl on and get her back with Flash ASAP!

I have no idea how I’m gonna handle this summer without this show. *sigh* Back to Netflix!

My Vampiric Spirit, Confession, and Conversion

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Author note: This is a guest post written by my friend Kristin from Austin and edited by me. Kristin will be received into the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday.  Please pray for her and all others who will be coming Home.

At the time I encountered Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I was fresh out of college, having laid aside my checkered Protestant past for a relativistic agnosticism layered in a pleasant self-deception.  I figured, if any action helped me out within the simple constraint of “not committing murder”, it was certainly without reproach, and I could still consider myself a “good person”.  Then, a pivotal episode in Buffy Season 7’s “Beneath You” tilted my worldview enough to make me uncomfortable—uncomfortable enough to eventually become a Catholic.

In the closing scene of the episode, Spike and Buffy are in an empty, lovely, moonlit church together, and Buffy is concerned that Spike has lost his sanity. Up until this point, the rakish ne’er-do-well vampire was forced by an implanted chip in his brain to do no harm to Buffy Summers, leading him to try and do good out of his love for the Slayer. Unfortunately, his attempts at being good were also mixed in with his complicated, tumultuous affair with Buffy throughout the latter half of Season 6, culminating in him attempting to rape Buffy in “Seeing Red.” His shock at what he was about to do led to him going on a quest to receive his soul so that he can be the man he thinks Buffy deserves. Now ensouled, Spike is uncomfortably, completely conscious and guilt-ridden over his innumerable sins. I realized that there was something true there being spoken about sin and the need for redemption.

It would take me several more years to make my way to the Catholic Church and the lesson I gained from watching “Beneath You” was a crucial reason to why I was becoming Catholic. However, I didn’t fully understand the importance of this scene until I went to my first Confession to prepare for receiving the rest of the Sacraments at Easter. For some inexplicable reason, I found myself terrified of this sacrament.

We are born vampires due to original sin.  Like vampires, we are driven into the black night of our sins and transgressions, subconsciously terrified of being burned alive by the pure light of Christ. Like vampires, we’re driven away from pain and toward hedonistic pleasure, largely propelled by the forces of fear, anger, hate, lust, and greed. We live entirely for ourselves and see others only as a source of food for us—emotional affirmation, physical pleasure, and social recognition—and we’d best eat them before we’re consumed ourselves. We drive our greedy jaws into others without a thought, a care, or a twinge of remorse, and suck them dry, all in a desire to quench our endless thirst, our neverending desire to fill the emptiness within ourselves with something.

In the midst of all this, the deep terribleness of the human heart, Christ the Slayer wants to kill our vampiric selves and ensoul us, which He does so well through the Sacraments. He calls us out of the darkness, and He watches us as we pathetically stagger out from the shadows, crouching, cringing away from the Light.

I spent my first Confession, sitting in very comfortable chair in a cheery, bright, well-lit office, feeling with every fiber of my being that I was about to go up in smoke as I rattled off my list of sins before the priest. And go up in smoke, my ego did. Like the newly ensouled Spike, I stumbled around, slowly realizing for the first time the depths of what I’ve done to Christ and Christ in others. My scarred heart, rife with manipulation, greed, carelessness, and selfishness, was laid bare before me in the harsh Light, no longer fancied up by the clever illumination of the night.

The priest gave me my penance, a single Our Father, and instructed me to meditate on the mercy of God. Not only did I meditate, I was sucker-punched by this overwhelming Divine Mercy toward me.  The emptiness inside of me was filled with the infinite waters that gushed from His Sacred Heart. It’ll be a lifelong process of torching my ego, repairing my heart, and fighting for my soul. I know that even after I am received into the Church, I’ll be in Confession again and again.  But like Spike at the end of “Beneath You,” I embrace the Cross which burns away my sins, and ask “Can we rest?”

Though the episode doesn’t answer the question, Saint Augustine does: “For You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”

We can rest, brothers and sisters, in the arms of our Lord. As we celebrate Good Friday, let us hide ourselves in His wounds and fill ourselves with the endless fountain of His love and mercy.

Author’s note: If you want to know more about how the theme of forgiveness is seen in the Buffyverse, check out my post from last year.

How Can We Be Heroes?

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Question from a reader in regards to my previous superhero post:

We all have the potential to live by their example and be heroes in our own ways, but what problems do we face in life that make superheroes important to us? How does their presence on TV, on film, and in comic books help us?


One of GK Chesterton’s most famous quotes goeth thusly: “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

The same can be applied for comic books and all of the adaptations thereof. In Geekpriest, Fr. Roderick Vonhogen (whom you may know for his Star Wars reaction video that went viral last year) has a chapter that integrates his love for comic book heroes with his own coming of age story. I highly recommend you read his memoir because it shows how faith and culture can work together, even in the world of geekdom.

 

Warning: Spoilers for Supergirl, The Flash, and other shows will ensue.

While it’s true that none of us have superpowers or face nefarious villains on a daily basis, we are all given talents, gifts, and special skills that we can use to help make the world a better place. One reason I love Flash and Supergirl is that while the heroes have awesome powers, their real special ability is something that we can all have: the power to believe in the best in people, the ability to empathize and be compassionate towards others.

In a recent episode of The Flash, Barry Allen helps Earth-2 Harrison Wells find another option when faced with the ultimatum of “Drain Flash’s speed or your daughter will be tortured and killed.” In spite of Harry betraying everyone, Barry is willing to help the scientist by offering to save Harry’s daughter, even if that means going to Earth-2 to do so. Keep in mind, Barry basically did all of that without using any super speed. Barry is a selfless person at heart, which means that he’s willing to go the extra mile, with or without his powers.

Another example of ordinary traits being used in an extraordinary way can be seen in the DC Animated Universe direct-to-video movie Superman vs. The Elite. Eric Rodriguez, AKA Channel Awesome’s “Blockbuster Buster,” says that this short movie exemplifies Superman’s greatest power: his strength of will. He does what is right, no matter what.

While we may not face situations where we have to sentence some form of justice on a criminal, we all have the power to try and be compassionate and fair, even towards those who’ve hurt us. In a similar way, we encounter situations where we are called to have conviction and do the right thing, even if it means facing insurmountable odds or a situation where vengeance could be an easier option.

Another reader pointed out that both Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock are not particularly role model material, due to Jessica Jones being an alcoholic with severe PTSD issues and Matt Murdock having Catholic guilt over not being able to save everyone. While Jessica Jones’s cynicism leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I and many other fans of Jessica Jones found her willingness to fight and prevent Kilgrave from hurting anyone else inspiring. And while Catholics are often mocked for having a major guilt complex, some people have used those doubts to find a sense of self-worth. Faith and doubt actually go hand in hand because doubt opens up questions that help further understand ourselves and our beliefs.

I also have a personal belief that nobody is beyond saving or redemption. While it’s true that the characters in Suicide Squad are only doing black-ops missions for the hopes of getting shorter prison sentences, these same villains could’ve been heroes in another universe. There’s a movie in the DC Animated Universe called Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths in which the Justice League find themselves in a Mirror Universe in which the Justice League encountered evil versions of themselves and heroic versions of the villains.

The same can be said for the character of Captain Cold and his complex character development in The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Although Captain Cold started out as a major villain, he developed a more complex personality when it was revealed that he was very protective of his sister and would not resort to killing in order to get the job done. In Legends of Tomorrow, it’s implied that he resorted to becoming a criminal as a way to survive. He felt as if he had no other choice, given that he lived with an abusive father, and never thought that he could ever be a hero. However, DC Comics showed his heroic potential in an event called Flashpoint in which The Flash creates an alternate universe due to actions he did when he traveled back in time. In this series, Captain Cold becomes a hero called Citizen Cold.

But why bring up the villains at all, you ask? As I said: Everyone is capable of being a hero. We can look at the villains and see ourselves in them. We could’ve taken on a dark path if our circumstances were different and if we made different choices in life. However, even if you or someone you know is on that dark path, these same villains show that there could be a way out of the dark.