Silver Linings Playbook takes a more serious approach to the typical romantic comedy. Rather than just dealing with his feelings for his ex-wife and new female friend, the protagonist has to deal with his mood swings and newly diagnosed bipolar disorder. This creates a much more intriguing story than the archetype of the genre. But what really stood out were the stellar performances of the entire cast, not limited to the two leads.
Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), released from an eight-month stint in a mental hospital, is eager to win his wife Nikki back. He is in complete denial that Nikki left him for good after he beat up her lover (the reason he ended up in the clinic in the first place). Soon after his return home, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), his best friend’s sister-in-law. Following the death of her husband, Tiffany broke down and now suffers from many mental traumas. After some hesitation and a dinner that Pat insists isn’t a date, he agrees to compete with Tiffany in a dance competition in the hopes that it will help him win Nikki back.
As I’m sure writer/director David O. Russell intended, from their first scene together it is obvious that Pat and Tiffany are made for each other. Neither can refrain from interrogating the other about their problems and they quickly bond over the previous use of many of the same medications. Though their relationship might seem unhealthy from the outside (such as Tiffany’s stalking Pat on his runs), it’s easy to believe that this is the healthiest, most genuine connection they have had. Neither really knows how to deal with their issues, but together they learn to overcome them. Somewhat, at least.
Because of Pat and Tiffany’s refusal to take medication to ease their disorders (and lives), the characters interact completely lucidly. This makes their interactions honest and unaffected, a necessity in a movie so reliant on well-developed characters. However, Pat makes significant improvements without the use of medication, which downplays the reality of mental disorders. He improves solely by thinking positively and basing his life around the idea of becoming the superior version of himself, what he calls ‘excelsior.’ Though positive thinking can play a part in getting over a mental disorder, it isn’t enough to deal with such a major issue.
On the other hand, the film is realistic in how it handles other aspects of mental illness, such as the effect it has on the family. Pat’s father (Robert De Niro) is also battling some mental health issues; he is loaded with obsessive-compulsive tendencies and superstitions about the Philadelphia Eagles. De Niro, experienced with portraying a tough parent (in movies such as Meet the Parents), easily captures this side of Pat Sr., but his talent really shows when he struggles to deal with Pat’s illness by trying to push him back into old routines to avoid the real issue.
Since this is a very character-driven story, the actors have to carry a lot of the weight of the film. The large number of close-ups on the characters’ faces pushes the actors to be very expressive. Bradley Cooper might be known for his raunchy comedy The Hangover, but he proves that he can do much more. He covers both ends of the spectrum when he snaps between his happy-go-lucky personality and a fit of anger within seconds. Pat’s eccentricities could have easily been taken too far, but Cooper succeeds in portraying him as delusional without appearing to be beyond saving.
This is undoubtedly one of Cooper’s best performances, but Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany is the true star. Though at 22 she may appear too young for the part, this is easily swept away by the maturity she brings to the role. She battles Pat and her inner demons with force and conviction that feels incredibly natural.
Silver Linings Playbook might be a romance, but the dark subject matter of mental illness keeps the story moving. Sharp jokes dot the movie to break up the intense scenes and lighten the grave conversations. Pat and Tiffany resort to humor to try to ease the harsh realities they face, and it gives the characters real substance.
Though a few clichés are sprinkled throughout Silver Linings Playbook, they are inevitable due to the nature of a budding romance. The dialogue is sharp and witty and the characters, including the supporting cast, are fully fleshed out. The movie is held together by the stellar performances of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Though it has its dark moments, by the end of the movie you are sure to be just as cheerful as Pat and intent on looking for your own silver linings in times of turmoil.
Merle is eager to see his brother, appease the Governor, and get revenge for being left handcuffed to a roof. So when Glenn won’t reveal the location of his group and blatantly lies about who is with him (He names Andrea, who Merle knows for a fact is no longer with them), Merle is happy to coerce the information out of him. Glenn battles through a nasty beating and nearly being eaten alive by a zombie Merle sicced on him without spilling anything. Since Glenn won’t talk, the Governor tries his hand at making Maggie spill. His method of good cop doesn’t work, so he forces Maggie to strip down and threatens (rather convincingly, I might add) to rape her. Even this won’t break Maggie, though. Their last attempt proved fruitful, threatening Glenn in Maggie’s presence made her sing like a bird, she gave up their location and their numbers. The Governor doesn’t show it, but he feels threatened by them, a group of only 10 managed to clear out the entire prison, and they’re probably coming to fight for their people. And the biggest worry: is Merle going to side with him or with his long-lost brother?
With each episode the Governor seems to become more of a monster, but this time he showed that he knows no bounds. Rape is the one thing that everyone in the show has steered clear of, it’s the most vile act and they have to be true savages to resort to it. And he clearly isn’t lacking in that department, since he and Andrea have gotten close; it was strictly a power play. Luckily for Maggie (and Glenn), he only doesn’t make do on his threats. As for Merle, he’s excited to hear that his brother is alive and well, especially knowing that he came back to try to save him. When faced with choosing between Daryl and the Governor, I think he might struggle at first, but side with his brother. Daryl, on the other hand, will pick his friends. I don’t think that Daryl feels much for big bro anymore, he hasn’t mentioned him since the hallucinations last season. He has also formed a close bond with the group and even taken up the role as one of the leaders. Since they won’t accept Merle, Daryl will have to deny his brother’s entry.
While Rick stares dumbfoundedly at Michonne at the gate, Carl takes action and shoots the zombies near her. Right after promising not to hurt her, Rick grabs her bullet wound to force her to talk. She admits that she saw Glenn and Maggie’s kidnapping and reveals enough information about Woodbury to get the group headed in that direction. Michonne must have realized that these are Andrea’s people, but she doesn’t mention that she knows her or where she is. She’s saving this bit of information to leverage the best deal for herself. Rick apologizes to Carl for having to take care of his mother. Carl suggests naming the baby after his third grade teacher Judith, because Ass-Kicker just won’t do, and I think Rick would have agreed to just about anything. And the group is thrilled at Daryl’s discovery that Carol is alive and fairly well, it takes a bit of the sting off of their losses.
As soon as Hershel sows up Michonne’s wound (which she genuinely thanks him for, shocking!), she, Rick, Daryl, and Oscar set out for Woodbury. They duck into a cabin when they get ambushed by a hoard of walkers and find a paranoid hermit living there with no knowledge of the zombie apocalypse. When he is about to open the door and let the walkers in, Michonne stabs him and they toss him out as zombie bait. Michonne doesn’t let on whether this was a mercy killing or out of cold-blood. They all make it out in one piece and approach Woodbury unseen. The showdown is being saved for the mid-season finale next week.
The Governor enlists Andrea’s help in Milton’s experiments. He wants to prove that biters have a recollection of their past lives by training Mr. Coleman, a man about to die from prostate cancer, to respond to questions about his life. And when he reanimates he asks these same questions. When the response is inconclusive, he unshackles Mr. Coleman, who goes directly for the kill. Andrea kills the zombie and saves Milton’s life. From his reaction, it doesn’t appear that Milton has ever been near enough to an active zombie to feel the fear and threat that they bring about. When she goes to the Governor for comfort he promises her that “it’s over now.” But it’s never over Andrea.
(My review of the last episode of Once Upon A Time, Tallahassee)
While on the run from the Queen’s men, Red’s hood rips. Since tonight is the night of the full moon, or wolfstime, Red panics, she has to get away from Snow White to protect her. When she awakes, a stranger named Quinn steals her cloak and threatens to burn it. He knows that she is “a child of the moon,” because he is one himself, and he knows how to tame the wolf. He brings her to a creepy underground castle hall that is filled with other werewolves. And the leader of the pack, Anita, was expecting Red, waiting for her daughter. Granny had taken her away from her parents when she was young to protect her from the horrid wolves, but she couldn’t be protected forever. Red is quick to learn the ways of the wolf, she just has to give in to the wolf and realize that she and the wolf are one. As this is explained there is a beautiful scene of the wolf pack running with Red staring at her reflection in a pool of water.
Snow followed the paw prints and made it into the wolf den. The wolves know better than to trust any humans, so Quinn attacks her on site, but Red calls him off. Red promised to run away with Snow, but she found her family, she’s part of a pack now. Snow is thrilled for her friend and is ready to leave her with her new family, but not everyone feels the same. The Queen’s men followed Snow into the den, before the wolves took out all of the men, Quinn was fatally injured. Anita blames Snow for bringing the men there and intends to kill and feast upon her as the wolves. When Red protects Snow she accidentally kills her mother, but insists that she didn’t choose Snow over her family, “I chose me! I’m not a killer!” But Red didn’t kill her family, she protected them. Snow is her only family, she is the only person who accepts her as both a human and as a wolf.
In the present, the dwarves strike riches: they uncover diamonds which can be refined into fairy dust. But before they have a chance to celebrate, Ruby builds a cage to keep the wolf locked up that night. She might have learned how to tame the wolf, but it’s been 28 years since she last turned and doesn’t know if she can contain herself. In the morning she had broken free from her cage and awoke in the forest. She assumes the worst and her suspicions seem to be confirmed when they find two halves of Billy (one of Cinderella’s mice from the tales). David decides that he has to believe in Ruby because he failed to believe in Mary Margaret when she was framed (those are two completely different scenarios though, David isn’t the brightest). David locks her up in the prison cell to appease her, though.
King George, known as Spencer in Storybrooke, rallies the citizens to kill the monster who roams the streets. If David won’t take action, then he will! But Ruby had already been moved to the library for her protection. If David has faith that Ruby is a good woman, then Belle does too. Which I find a bit strange since she knows Ruby better than she knows David at this point… Anyway, Belle insists that they can prove that she is innocent in the matter. Ruby is sure that she killed Billy and that she deserves to be executed for it, so she breaks out. When Ruby is about to surrender herself, David and Granny come to the rescue! David has evidence that Spencer set her up, and he can prove that Ruby is a tame wolf. He gets her to back down and reverts her back to her human self with the hood. When Ruby thanks him for saving her, he responds “No. You saved yourself. I just reminded you of what you already knew.”
Spencer doesn’t care that he managed to keep the wolf alive, because he knows David’s one true weakness, his family. Spencer tosses Jefferson’s hat into a fire, meaning that David can never get his family back. And he reminds him for the third time that David should have killed him when he had the chance. David pulls his gun on him, but Red eases him down. And in a reversal of roles, Ruby comforts David, she promises that they will find a way to get his family back. And until then, he isn’t alone.
Henry has been suffering terrible nightmares for awhile, but when he awoke this time, his hand was burnt. Gold lets him and Regina know that these aren’t just dreams, these are the side affects of the sleeping curse Regina accidentally put on him. He gives him a medallion to help him control these journeys. The next time he falls asleep, he has the same dream: a burning room and a mysterious woman. But this time he quells the flames and introduces himself to the woman, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty). The same Aurora that is in the other land with Emma and Snow.
Mason thinks he figured everything out, so he pays Emily a visit. But he made one little mistake, he believed that Amanda and Emily were lovers when they were in Allenwood Penitentiary. When he can’t get any information out of Emily about their time in prison, he gives Amanda a call. Amanda’s trust for Emily is diminishing by the episode, she doesn’t Emily her to be calling all of the shots and leaving her in the dark, but agrees not to meet with Mason. But when he brings Jack into the equation, she spills, Emily was in love with her since their time in prison and she masterminded the entire revenge plot. When Mason invites her to his place to show her the board of evidence, Amanda tries to kill him to protect her secret. Luckily for Mason, Emily barges in, stops her, and tells him the whole truth. When her dad was arrested, she only trusted him and he left her out in the cold. And now he needs to make amends to her and David Clarke.
Mason meets with Kara to tell her to get as far away from the Hamptons and the Graysons as she possibly can. But then he goes off script and tells her that David was innocent, he thinks it’s penance. Kara has been off her meds, and this bit of information was all she needed to push her over the edge. While Mason is busy, Nolan sneaks into his house to set him up for the murder of Gordon. The chain goes like this: Nolan and Emily framed Mason Treadwell to look like he framed Conrad Grayson who framed Gordon Murphy. After his arrest, “Benedict Clarke” visits Mason to coerce him into taking the blame for everything. When she deems it time, she will give a full confession, exonerating him. Because he does this he will have the opportunity to write the world’s best book and he won’t rot in prison for life (just for a few years).
Kara ambushes Conrad and Victoria with her new information and a gun in hand. They try to weasel their way out of the situation by blaming the Initiative, someone higher up caused the plane crash and they framed David in self-preservation. When Victoria shows Kara proof that Gordon killed her first husband, she takes out her anger on them. While Conrad tries to defend Victoria, Kara forces them to their knees (where they hold hands) and is about to pull the trigger. Luckily for the two, Aiden shows up in time and chloroforms Kara. When she wakes up, Emily is there to warn her that there are some people gunning for her, and Agent Mathis (Aiden) saved her life. She needs to get back on her meds and get out of town. Kara’s last message to Amanda was that she wished she could have been a better mother.
Emily finally appreciates Aiden’s reliable aid and shoulder to cry on. When she hears about Jack and Amanda’s pending nuptials, she realizes that she lost her chance with the boy she loved in her childhood. And who better to bounce back with than an old flame who has been beside her in her schemes and has been seeking her constant approval. When he comes to check on her after Kara left town, she embraced him with a passionate kiss.
Aiden helps Daniel acquire the evidence he needs of Grayson Global’s involvement in NolCorp to secure his takeover. Nolan has the only piece of evidence linking them, and he agrees to hand it over to Aiden because he swore to protect Emily. When Emily finds out, she tries to get NolCorp back for him, but Nolan insists that he cares more about keeping his family safe. Which leads him to threaten Aiden to never hurt her again. When Victoria reminds Daniel that she is his biggest advocate and he shouldn’t make any rash decisions, he has a hard time believing her. He lost any semblance of respect he had for his mother and won’t sway from his plans. While Conrad is giving a big speech, Daniel gathered the power players involved in Grayson Global to announce his discovery of their share in NolCorp. Though Victoria is furious, Ashley stands by him; now that she finally gains something from Daniel (a multibillion dollar corporation), she is loyal.
Before the blackout Aaron was a happily married man and rich beyond belief, but once the apocalypse hit, his money was worth nothing. During the second month, Priscilla grew ill, but was saved by a stranger named Sean who recognized dysentery. Six months after, when Aaron, Priscilla, and Sean’s group is attacked, they narrowly make it out alive. Aaron realizes how useless he is, he has no survival skills and he’s just dragging the group down. Priscilla wakes up soon after and notices that her husband is gone. Aaron left his ring behind. He knew that he would harm her chances at living and didn’t want to risk her death, so he left her in the stronger arms of Sean and watched as she walked away.
Miles brings the group to an acquaintance of his in the hopes that he can patch Nora up. As soon as they arrive, Drexel pulls guns on the crew, he clearly isn’t a real friend of Miles’. He fires a blank at Miles to scare him nearly to death, laughs, and announces out his motto, “It’s all fun and games!” None of the group feel comfortable near him, but they relinquish their weapons so his medic will check on Nora. When Nora is patched up, Miles is ready to hit the road, but Drexel demands a favor first. He is a big-time heroine dealer and wants to make sure that he stays that way, so he sends Charlie to kill the head of the O’Halloran clan, who torched his poppies.
Though Miles and Aaron try to convince her that this is cold-blooded murder and she shouldn’t resort to it, Charlie doesn’t care. She just gave up on the notion of fairness and respect in this new world, she tore up her most prized possessions, the postcards that she kept from a happier time. And with these postcards, she shredded all of her memories of her childhood and her mother. Once Charlie arrives, she discovers that Bill O’Halloran was a cop and a good man. Though she hesitates with the idea of killing him, she realizes that the only way for her friends to get out alive is if Bill doesn’t. She knocks him out with a pan and is about to stab him when Miles arrives to stop her.
With Aaron’s blessing, Miles fought his way out of Drexel’s mansion to save Charlie from making the biggest mistake of her life. As soon as Drexel notices his missing “friend,” he brings out Aaron and Nora and demands that they kill each other, the last man standing gets out alive. Though Aaron begs Nora to shoot him (Miles and Charlie can use her, but he’s just extra weight), she refuses. He resorts to shooting himself in the chest, exactly where he keeps his flask. He lifts his head and shoots the unsuspecting Drexel. His men, surprised and confused, let them go free. Miles has a hard time grasping the fact that Aaron the wimp actually killed somebody, but Aaron is quick to believe that Charlie wasn’t going to kill O’Halloran, because he wants to believe it.
General Monroe welcomes Danny with open arms, he promises him anything he wants, food, women, and a bed. Though he scolds Captain Neville in front of their newest prisoner, Monroe promotes Neville to Major in charge of information and interrogations, a position that will allow him to stay at home with his wife. Jason is eager to please Monroe, when shown the image of the pendant, he admits that Aaron has one. And he regrets sharing this information as soon as the name Strausser is mentioned, he is a frightening man who rarely leaves survivors. Which means that Charlie might not make it out alive.
Monroe didn’t lie to Rachel when he promised she would get to see her son. When Danny is brought to her he watches her for a minute before realizing who she is, but they embrace lovingly. Will he question why she left them or will he be naive enough to assume that she did it solely for their benefit?
When a zombie killing spree didn’t solve Rick’s problems, he invented a phone conversation with his wife. The woman on the phone insisted that she and her group were in a safe place that she couldn’t name. When Rick begs for refuge, she disconnects and allows him to talk to another member of her group later. He gets bounced around to different members of the group until he speaks with a very familiar voice, that of Lori’s. When he realizes that this is his last chance to talk to his wife, he begs for her forgiveness for letting her die, he thought that this would be a safe haven for them, Carl, and the baby. She reminds him that she may be gone, but the children aren’t, and someone needs to look out for them. All Rick needed to return him to his sanity and his leadership was a reminder that he is the only one who can look out for his kids. Rick approaches his (or Shane’s) daughter for the first time since she was born and finally accepts her as his own.
Daryl, Carl, and Axel run through the prison cell a couple times to ensure that they cleared out all of the walkers, not willing to take any chances again. Daryl tries to comfort Carl by sharing the story of his mother’s death, she burnt the house down while smoking in bed. Because he didn’t have to see it or her, it didn’t feel so real to him. But Carl shot his mother in the head, it was very real for him. Carl didn’t even hesitate to mention it, he seems to be building up a wall around himself. If he acts like nothing can hurt him, maybe nothing will. They happen across a zombie with a knife sticking from its neck, and Daryl is quick to realize that the knife belonged to Carol. After some pacing, he throws open a closet that had been shaking, and inside is a badly injured Carol. We don’t know what wounds she has, she might have been bitten. Daryl doesn’t care though, he picks her up and brings her to safety.
While Merle and three of the Governor’s men are searching for Michonne they find a “bitergram” that she left for them, zombie parts positioned to say “go back.” When Merle decides to press on, Michonne leaps out of hiding and slays two of his men, but gets winged by a bullet in the process. She didn’t hesitate to kill these live people, though she has no idea who they are or if they are as corrupt as the Gov. Merle doesn’t want to go toe-to-toe with Michonne, he knows that she can take him out, so he decides to head back to Woodbury with the news that he already killed her. When he gets resistance from the last man standing from his group, Merle takes out this threat. Michonne manages to slip out of a horde of zombies by pouring the guts of one onto her. She had no idea that this would mask her human scent (as Rick and Glenn figured out when they were trapped in the department store in the Guts, episode 2 of season 1), but it was a welcome surprise.
Maggie and Glenn discover a storage facility where they find their fill of baby formula and extra food. Merle, also happens upon the location and pulls his gun on the two. But when Merle realizes that this is his old pal Glenn, he drops his gun and asks about his brother. When Glenn refuses to bring Merle back to their camp to see Daryl, Merle grabs his gun and Maggie. If they won’t take him to their camp, he’ll take them back to Woodbury where they can get the information out of them. Michonne watched this entire scene play out from her hiding place, either she was too injured to take out Merle or too weary of these strangers to intervene. But because she didn’t, Merle got away with Glenn and Maggie and she made it off safely. As Rick watches a hoard of zombies near the prison walls, he notices that one of them is alive and is holding a basket of goods. Michonne made it to safety among the walkers and with a gift for (what will probably be) her new group.
While the rest of the group struggle with their humanity or staying alive, Andrea and the Governor (Or should I say Phillip?) get some time to themselves. After quite a bit of flirting and losing Michonne, their major distraction, Andrea and the Governor hit the sheets. His interaction with her changes naught after discovering that his three men and Michonne were killed. But Merle will pay the price when Michonne returns to seek revenge and retrieve her friend, clearly alive and well.
Dexter and Hannah trade some killing jokes while they prepare breakfast together (with the largest knives they can find). Hannah recalls her dream of going to Argentina with Wayne, it was a fantasy that she will always cling to. When Dexter mentions that his sister is the lieutenant, Hannah gets a little nervous about their relationship; is it possible for them to keep their romance a secret? Dexter doesn’t hesitate to elaborate on the hit that the Koshka Brotherhood’s boss has on him, signifying the first honest relationship he’s ever had. When she drops by the beach to visit Dexter, she sees Harrison, Astor, and Cody (who came to see Dexter for the week), but this doesn’t scare her away. She’s always wanted her own family, but being that serial killer’s girlfriend made it hard, and her relationship with Jake fell apart in the worst possible way. If Hannah can accept Dexter’s murderous side and his children, it really seems like it was meant to be. Dexter clearly doesn’t understand relationships, because he says that “[he’s] not gonna stop seeing Hannah just because she’s a murderer and my sister wants to kill her.” If those aren’t good reasons to back out, I’m not sure what would be.
Dexter refuses to kill Hannah, but insists that it’s for Debra’s own good. She can barely accept who he is and to some extent regrets helping him cover up Travis’ murder, she couldn’t live with herself knowing that she sentenced a woman to her death. Deb won’t drop it, though, she decides to harass Hannah at her place of work, but Hannah won’t crack. Deb will, though. When she sees Hannah’s keys on Dexter’s keyring, she realizes why he wouldn’t kill her. It wasn’t for her own good, it was for his own selfish, disgusting desires. This is the absolute worst thing he could do to her, killing people is something he can’t control, but he can control who he is dating, and this woman killed her sort-of boyfriend Sal Price. She blurts out that she was going to the church the night of Travis’ death to confess that she was in love with Dexter. Dexter is dumbfounded and has no way to respond, he had thought about Deb finding out, but he never planned for this conversation. Before Deb kicks him out she mutters that “You’re a serial killer and I’m more fucked up than you are.” And it’s kind of true.
Harrison, Astor, and Cody return to Miami to stay with Dexter for the week while their grandpa is having surgery. Because Isaak is out to kill Dexter, Deb agrees to take them in for the week. Though she was hesitant at first, she loved having her family over. Dexter, Deb, and Jamie take the kids to Angel’s brand new family restaurant, but lunch is ruined by Astor and Cody’s constant bickering. Cody announces that she smokes pot weekly and clearly wins their battle. Though Astor insists that she only uses it when she’s stressed, Dexter explains to her that these vices can cause more harm than good. Of course this isn’t going to mean anything to a teenage girl. Astor’s grandparents are afraid that she’s going to turn into her dad, but Dexter reminds her that she can grow into whoever she wants to be. He follows his dad’s path for him, and wishes that he had explored life for himself. He promises to keep her little marijuana problem to himself, but she needs to try to wean off the herb. Deb makes it worse by snaking Astor’s joint for herself after discovering Dexter and Hannah’s secret romance.
Isaak lost his police tail for long enough to shoot at Dexter while he was in the local donut shop. When this fails, George contacts the leaders of the Koshka Brotherhood in Kiev about a “realignment” of their management. Dexter’s plan to kill Isaak was foiled when he found a Koshka-hired assassin who was also sent to take out Isaak. When Dexter follows him to a gay bar, he discovers that Isaak took Viktor’s death so hard because the two were lovers. Isaak was afraid that the Koshka’s would remove him if they discovered that he was gay, and in a way they sort of did. When Isaak secures revenge for Viktor’s death, he wants to disappear off the radar to somewhere like Micronesia (his Argentina). If he and Dexter met under different circumstances, they could have been great friends and an even better team.
Now that George is in power, he wants to ensure that it stays that way by having an ally in the police department. He shows Quinn a video of him admitting to stealing the DNA evidence that incriminated Isaak. Quinn is stuck under the Koshka’s thumb for good, but if they toss him to the cops, he can nail them to the wall; mutually assured destruction.
Dexter’s problems get bigger as LaGuerta figures out that he might be the Bay Harbor Butcher. She connects him to the marina near the location that BHB’s victims were found. And when she discovers that he moved his boat immediately after the bodies were found, she gets even more suspicious. As she examines Dexter’s boat, A Slice of Life, she might be nearing the correct conclusion.
Every day between the hours of 2:45 and 3:05, Sheldon seems to disappear. He has nothing scheduled on his calendar and he just vanishes. The Hardy Boys, Howard and Raj, are on the case! When Sheldon tries to keep it a secret, Howard and Raj follow him to a sketchy storage room. After hours, the boys return to the lab to investigate the room. After an argument about whether they are ninjas or cat burglars, Howard picks the lock to the room. When they enter, they find a very basic room with the number 43 scrawled on the chalkboard. The two spend a great deal of time trying to understand the mysterious number, and their best guess (and what my guess was, as well) was that it had to do with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s number 42: the answer to life the universe and everything.
When they can’t come up with a reasonable explanation, Howard hooks up a camera (the spare for the Mars rover) to spy on him. They are aghast when they see Sheldon’s experiment. He was creating wormholes (which look exactly like the portals from Valve’s Portal games) and trying to find intelligent life in other universes. The number 43 indicated which test number he was on. Just as a monster leaps at Sheldon’s face and tries to eat him alive, Sheldon appears behind Howard and Raj and scares them nearly to death. He saw the camera and wanted to get revenge for their attempts to breach his privacy. He says that he spends some time there trying to unwind, he doesn’t understand what most people do (like sarcasm) and he needs some time to himself. But he won’t tell them exactly what he does because they don’t need or deserve to know. It turns out that Sheldon spends twenty minutes every day practicing with a hacky sack, and his record is 43 kicks.
Leonard is worried about his relationship with Penny once again when he finds out that she is working with a British guy from her class on an oral report. He is sure that he will hit on her and try to steal her, but what he doesn’t realize is that Penny doesn’t want to be stolen from him. When Leonard tries to go to Sheldon about his problem, he obviously makes it worse, tells him how statistically probably it is that Penny will find a better guy than him and dump him. And if that isn’t bad enough, he suggests that Cole might be a hypnotist and is making her sleep with him, and she would have no recollection. Next, Leonard gets some comfort from Sheldon’s assistant Alex. She promises him that no girl would leave a guy like him, and that he’s actually much more loveable than he thinks he is. She believes that more women flirt with him than he could possibly know. Alex, quite infatuated with him, is rejected by his laughter. Poor, clueless Leonard.
When Leonard hears Cole leaving Penny’s apartment, he follows him down to have a little chat. He suggests that he keep away from the cute blonde on the fourth floor because her boyfriend is a real scary guy. When Cole knows that Penny’s boyfriend is a scientist, Leonard insists that The Scientists is the name of his gang. He will try just about anything to try to protect his place with Penny. But Penny followed them down and overheard everything. Penny told Cole all about Leonard, she didn’t even hesitate. Leonard defends his actions by showing his vulnerability, guys will always flirt with Penny, even when he’s around, and it makes him feel terribly uncomfortable. But she doesn’t want to be with any of those other guys. She has Leonard and she’s really happy with him. And for the first time ever, she tells him that she loves him. She didn’t even realize that she said it, it just slipped out. Both of them are near tears, so Penny runs off to work. Penny didn’t realize her true feelings for Leonard until she thought that she might lose him. His insecurities were what made her weary of actually being in love with him, but they’re what brought out her love, as well.
We all knew that it was bound to happen sooner or later: Haley was arrested for drinking. Mitch is called upon as her lawyer and Cam offers his services as a babysitter for Luke and Alex while Phil and Claire drive up to bail her out. Claire is upset that Phil is completely, in her opinion his under-reaction is actually an overreaction to the situation, he should be freaking out like her. But it turns out that Haley wasn’t just arrested for drinking while underage, she was charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. There is video evidence that completely incriminates her, and there is no way of getting her out of it. She was climbing down the fire escape when the cop yelled to put her hands up, so she did. And she fell off and onto him.
Haley needs to plead her case in front of a disciplinary board, but she seems completely unfazed. She is wearing skimpy clothes and has nothing prepared. And this is when Phil cracks, she messed up numerous times and she didn’t care. She is going to have to suffer the consequences of whatever she got herself into. And the worst part is that she didn’t even bother to apologize. Phil storms out and finally got Claire’s respect in the way he handled the situation. She realizes that if her dad took this seriously, then maybe she should, too. So during the disciplinary hearing she came clean about everything: she was drinking, she has cut numerous classes, and she hasn’t been putting in much effort. Though she finally took responsibility for her actions, she got carried overboard and was expelled. She promises that she will work harder this year to get back into college next year and will be a more responsible woman. And Alex is genuinely sorry Haley and (surprisingly) believes that she can succeed.
Cam, worried that Claire thinks that he is a terrible father, plans on proving her wrong. He needed to prove his worth, so when the kids woke up he had an elaborate breakfast prepared. He wasn’t going to tell the kids about Haley so they wouldn’t be worried, but Lily spoils that little secret. When Luke loves his bacon, Cam announces that it is actually Facon (Fake bacon) that is much healthier and made of soy. But Luke is allergic to soy. Cam hides this little bit of information from Claire until he knows that Luke will be completely okay. But while Luke is healing, Alex decides to accompany the doctors on rounds. But it turns out that she’s much more squeamish than she thought and passed out while watching a c-section being performed. Poor Alex realizes that she can’t follow her dream to be a doctor and she can’t have a baby, either. This entire event occurred just to prove that Claire was wrong about him being a terrible parent, but it turns out that she never really thought so in the first place.
Jay’s ex-wife DeDe wants to stop by to pick up a photo album, but she has a bit of a complicated past with Gloria (read: she tried to choke her a couple of times). Jay tries to get DeDe out of the house before Gloria arrives home, showing off a pregnant belly. But when Gloria arrives, DeDe is thrilled at the pregnancy; now Gloria is less of a trophy wife and more of a real wife and human being. The women bond over sharing pregnancy stories and DeDe begins to turn Gloria against Jay by explaining how little he helped out with their kids. Jay promises that there is nothing he wants more than to be a part of the baby’s life. He couldn’t help much the first time around because he was working all day, but now that he’s retired he is there for her 100 percent.
Nothing could ruin Leslie’s happiness about her engagement, but Ben would beg to differ. An engagement party signals the gathering of their families, meaning his divorced parents will have to be in a room together. Leslie’s secret strategy of removing people from feuds is to create a quilt, so she creates a Wyatt-Knope Family Quilt. The second Ben’s dad walks in with his young girlfriend Ulani, Ben is ready to call it quits. It would be bad enough with his parents in the room, but adding in Ulani will shatter them. And when Leslie unveils her magical quilt, it tears the Wyatt family even farther apart. Leslie didn’t make an Ulani square because she isn’t technically a member of the family, which causes her and Steve to throw a fit.
Leslie, still thinking that she can save the Wyatt family and her party, creates an Ulani square by adding a face to a waffle square and etching her name in. But Julia (Ben’s mom) quickly cut out the new square. Her refusal to accept Ulani as a part of her family is going to be a bit difficult now, though. As Leslie tries to propose a toast, Ulani blurts out that she’s pregnant. And if Ben’s going to have a baby brother/sister, Julia will have to deal with Ulani for the rest of her life. Leslie finally decides that it’s completely hopeless and tries to bail on the party. But Ben picks up the slack and gets his family in a row. He demands that everyone attend the wedding and pretend to have fun. Looks like Ben picked something up from Leslie!
Due to his therapy, Chris has been incredibly on edge. He jumps between either end of the emotion spectrum within seconds. When April and Andy work together, they actually turn into a fully functioning human being, and figure out how to manage his feelings. Andy lists off happy things while April reminds him of everything terrible and it begins to balance him.
Tom finally grows into himself when he puts some serious effort into his new company Rent A Swag. He wants to have a real proposal for Ron so he will invest in the company. When Jean-Ralphio refuses to get any work done and tries to get him out clubbing, Tom realizes that JR isn’t as serious about the business as he is. When Ron hears how hard Tom worked for this and how he kicked his best friend out of the company for his lack of responsibility, he invests on the spot. All he wanted was to work with someone serious, and he now has that in Tom. I was so thrilled to watch Jean-Ralphio getting the boot. He was an amusing character at first, but at this point I just can’t stand him. I hope that this is the end of the character, but I have a feeling we will see more of him.
Parks and Recreation has been taking a dramatic turn. The past seasons have been mainly about the humor with some drama and character development sprinkled in, but it seems to have flipped recently. The show is now powered by the relationships between the characters and only has jokes scattered through the episodes. And I think that this is a shame, they have such a hilarious cast and they are being underutilized.