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Modern Family — Bringing Up Baby (S4E01 Premiere)

To celebrate his 65th birthday, Jay just wants a quiet, relaxing day. Luckily for us, Phil doesn’t feel the same. Phil and his buddies tie him up and throw a hood over his face for their surprise. The surprise is a fishing trip, something that Jay would actually really appreciate. But before they get on the boat, Jay decides he is done with the kidnapping idea and walks off–the dock. While he’s struggling to keep afloat with his hands tied, Phil dives in to save his life. Due to Phil’s genius, he thinks that punching him in the face will help calm him down. It doesn’t. Once they are in the boat and Jay finally dries off, he actually admits to having fun with the guys. They decide that it’s time to actually throw out their rods, so Phil the boat in gear and drives off. Jay was sitting on the back of the boat and went flying back into the drink. Throughout the other three seasons, Phil has been played as such a goofy guy that this actually works. I know many other shows that would try this joke, but wouldn’t be able to pull it off as masterfully as Modern Family did.

Cam and Mitch are left in the wake of losing the son that they were supposed to have. They do everything they can to avoid the topic, which gets incredibly awkward for them and kind of awkward for the viewers to watch. As soon as the topic is brought up, they quickly swat it away by saying that they’re better off not getting the kid. Neither feel this way, but it is just so painful to think about. As they discuss this, Lily walks into the room asking about her baby brother. They may have forgotten to mention it to her… She decides that because she can’t have a baby brother, she should have a kitten named Larry. And very quickly Cam decides that, he too, wants to get a kitten. But apparently it’s a very complicated process to get a cat. To lighten the mood, we see the giant gorilla and elephant that the pair received as baby gifts (the gay community was a bit confused about the proper gift) humping on the top of Mitch’s car. As they mourn over the fact that they can’t even get a cat, they discuss what could have been, what they were planning for the baby. It actually makes them feel a bit better talking about it, but it is terrible to watch them hurting.

The morning after prom, Hayley walks into the kitchen completely hungover. Dylan stayed the night (he was on the couch in the morning, though), because he doesn’t have anywhere else to go. When Hayley asks if he can stay for a few weeks, Claire answers beyond sarcastically that they can even take the master bedroom. When Hayley got excited, Alex explained that Claire was just being “facetious”. In response to the blank stare she receives, she changes her word choice to “sarcastic.” And when Hayley is still clueless, Alex rolls her eyes and responds, “Dylan no stay.” And this is why I absolutely cherish any screen time that Alex receives. Claire hands Hayley a smoothie of some of the grossest ingredients, telling her that it’s a hangover cure. When Hayley runs off to the bathroom, she admits to Alex that it wasn’t. I’m not sure if this is revenge for having Dylan stay over or for what her parents did to her when she came home from prom hungover.

Gloria is terrified of telling Jay about her pregnancy, because at the start of the episode he was explaining that Cam and Mitch weren’t getting any younger and it was probably better that they didn’t have the kid. He was probably trying to make himself feel better about the loss that he wouldn’t grandfather another child. So Gloria tells Manny first about her pregnancy, he isn’t thrilled. He knows that he will be the one who ends up taking care of the kid, and this isn’t the ideal time for him. The first words out of Claire’s mouth after Gloria tells her the news are, “You’re gonna get fat!” She’s pleased that Phil might stop looking at her. She expects that Jay will not be pleased, so she tries to warn him and ask him to be nice.

Luke convinces Manny that Jay will stop taking care of him when his new child is born. Manny is at first unfazed, but after some convincing gets genuinely worried. Luke grins at the camera and says, “Sometimes I like to toss a grenade and then run away.” This line was perfect! This has been his main motivation throughout the entire three seasons, and I’m glad to see that this isn’t going to change.

When Gloria actually tells Jay that she’s pregnant, he’s thrilled! He thinks it’s perfect. It’s a way for him to stay young and he would love to raise another kid. Nobody was expecting this response. The more expected response was that of Mitch and Cam’s, they can’t even get a cat, but Jay gets another kid?

And then, in a very unusual turn of events for a sitcom, they flash forward 8-9 months to the baby shower. Gloria is very pregnant (yet still incredibly gorgeous), Phil has hilarious facial hair, Dylan has been living with the Dunphys the entire time, Cam and Mitch got their cat, and Manny is back from poetry camp. I was really happy to see how great Cam and Mitch were being about this whole situation. They got slapped in the face twice in a row, but they bounced back and got a cat!

This was a fantastic season premiere. The majority of the characters had arcs surrounding them, and if they didn’t, they had great one-liners instead. They set up a plot for the rest of the season, raising the baby. They managed to get a lot of serious and emotional scenes, but it didn’t lose it’s comedic spirit. If the rest of the season of Modern Family looks like this, it’s going to be perfect!

(My review of the next episode of Modern Family, Schooled)

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Castle — After the Storm (S5E01 Premiere)

The episode opens with Castle waking up alone. You can see the dejection on his face when he thinks that his perfect night with Detective Kate Beckett was a dream. But she then walks in, wearing his shirt and holding a mug of coffee. She sits beside him in bed and they look absolutely perfect in the golden glow of the sunrise. If I weren’t so happy to be seeing this scene, I would have probably rolled my eyes at the hackneyed scene. The moment is ruined when Castle hears the front door opening, his mother has arrived from her vacation early. He sends Beckett to hide in the closet while he deals with his intrusive mother and deeply hungover daughter. Castle deals with Alexis as Kate sneaks out the front door. Castle stops by her place to apologize, he isn’t used to the idea of having a real relationship, especially not one with her. But she treats him exactly the same when Ryan shows up unexpectedly. So they agree, unsurprisingly to keep their relationship a secret. How they plan on doing this is beyond me. All of their mutual friends are detectives, and very good ones at that.

Ryan is the only member of the team who still has his job, so he is left to investigate by himself. He, of course, is still going to share any information he unconverd with Castle and Beckett. He may have (As Esposito believes) ratted on them to Gates, but he did it to protect them, not to screw them over. He still cares immensely for them and he knows how important this case is to Kate. Ryan managed to get a hold of a copy of the missing photo from Montgomery’s wedding album (this is news from last season), this is who they believe Maddox is after. And Kate is thrown for a loop when Castle announces that this is who he was secretly meeting with throughout the last year.

Esposito isn’t working with the other three on the case, I’m assuming it is due to his anger at Ryan “betrayal.” Instead, he goes to a friend of his from the army and asks him to hack into the DOD database to get information on Maddox. When he tells Ryan that this isn’t doable, he could lose his job (and be arrested), Espo reminds him that he took a bullet for him. I know that Javi wants to get Maddox desperately, but the fact that he would stoop so low really annoyed me. He has never been by-the-book, not even close to it, but to threaten a friend was far worse than I expected of him.

After hours of searching, Castle and Beckett discover that the man that Castle worked with is named Michael Smith. What an uncommon name… Maddox figured this out before them. Smith was tortured, but he was still alive. As the paramedics wheeled him away, he whispered “86 mmm” to Castle. Castle starts digging through every file he can get his hands on to decipher this code. Beckett tells him that it’s worthless, he’s just grasping at straws. His touching response to this was that as long as there were straws to grasp at, he would grasp at them to save her. And just as they were about to give up, Castle spots a file with an address that begins 86 M. Beckett thanks him, she knows that she never would have gotten this far without him. This kind of blew me away, Beckett has never spoken like this to Castle. Either sleeping with him made it easier for her to express herself, or this was a poorly written line. You pick. And the fact that he found this file was complete blind luck, it was so farfetched that it genuinely detracted from the story.

Maddox followed them to the building, held a gun to their heads, and tied them up. Castle tells Kate “At least we had last night. We should have done that 4 years ago.” And all of the Caskett shippers (me included) felt the desire to throw something at the screen. Yes, they really should have (I’m aware that the show would have sucked if that happened, but just let me have this one, will ya?). Esposito finds the building too (Seriously? By himself?) and unties the two. They catch Maddox before he takes the file out of the safe. Even with two guns pointed at him, he decides to grab the file and make a run for it. He, didn’t know that the safe was rigged to blow. Both Maddox and the file are now forever lost.

When Ryan arrives at Beckett’s house, the three are prepared to attack. When they realize that it’s just him they calm down (besides Esposito, who calls him Judas). He brought the shards of the file that they managed to get. After a couple hours of piecing it together, they realize that Senator William H. Bracken was involved with the dirty cops and the shooting of Kate’s mom.

Since they don’t have any proof and Smith (who lived through the surgery) refuses to testify, Kate decides to take matters into her own hands. During the night, she slips out and we are led to believe that she is going to kill Bracken. This belief is furthered when dramatic music is pounding and there are alternating shots between Kate’s flashbacks and Ryan, Esposito, and Castle running. Rather than killing him, she drops a phone in Bracken’s pocket and convinces him to meet her in the kitchen. She wants the truth, which Bracken insists isn’t something that you often get from a politician. He begins to spew his campaign story, which just angers Kate more. He reminds her that she’s a disgraced cop and he’s a beloved senator, a good guy, people will believe him. And he adds that “It’s not who has the gun, it’s who has the power.”

Kate agrees with that statement, so she lies, telling Bracken that she has the file and she will take it to the public if anything happens to her or her friends. She wants the same deal that he had with Smith (what deal that was is a little unclear). With an evil in her eye that I’ve never seen before, Beckett says “You have no idea what I’m capable of or how far I’ll go.” She hits him with the butt of her gun and walks off to meet Castle.

Gatss, in the first time we hear her say anything kind, says that she admires Kate’s loyalty to Montgomery and that she hopes that maybe one day Kate will feel the same way about her. That seems unlikely. She and Esposito have to serve out the rest of their suspension, but they will be placed back on duty as soon as that ends.

I think that there was far too much going on for a single episode. I’m sure that the writers wanted to capture the audience’s attention in the premiere, but I think that it was just too much. A lot of what Caskett, Ryan, and Espo figured out seemed implausible, but might have been clearer and more realistic if it took longer. This is a frequent issue with procedurals, and I guess Castle shouldn’t be excluded.

I have to say that I’ll miss seeing Tahmoh Penikett (Maddox) playing an incredibly evil character, but it will easily be made up for by Jack Coleman’s portrayal of Senator Bracken. He is an astounding actor, and if you didn’t see that in this week’s episode, you will definitely agree with me within the next few weeks!

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