“The Other Two” S2E03 & E04 – Chase Guest-Edits Vogue & Pat Hosts Just Another Regular Show

“I like sex too, obviously! I mean, not during the week, but on weekends. Like Sundays, before HBO.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’m slightly disappointed that Pat doesn’t get as much of a hefty storyline in this week’s episodes as I’d like, mostly because I think Molly Shannon has been killing it in the titular role of the enthusiastic, optimistic daytime talk show host, but Brooke’s arc more than makes up for that disappointment.

There’s a moment near the end of the third episode where Brooke and Chase are walking back from the Vogue party (that Brooke had to miss) and she sees a version of herself getting wasted and falling down at a bar. For a split second, Brooke admires that person and even goes as far as saying that she misses being that person, only to realize that “[she’s] good”. She has done that life, and now she is a manager who misses big-name parties and spends most of her time on the phone in dull meetings. The best part? Brooke actually loves it.

Drew Tarver (left) and Gideon Glick (right)

That kind of growth from the character she was in season one who was jobless, pessimistic and living in celebrities’ apartments is instantly gratifying for us viewers. Her pride in the big empty apartment she scores is beautiful and satisfying, even if the show implies that all this wealth and fame is not a solution to her loneliness. The difference is that she was already lonely even when she had the toxic Lance in her life and a lackluster housing situation; at least now she is the kind of lonely that makes a living and is able to reach out to Cary for help when needed.

Speaking of Cary, I was very disappointed with his entire storyline. Not only was he dragging Jess along for no good reason, I hate the implication that “gays have to have a crazy slut-phase in their 20s before they can settle down”. In many ways, I think it’s a very important story to tell; however, the show missed an opportunity to subvert these stereotypes and have Cary actually treat Jess with a little more respect and dignity. Regardless, I’m glad this arc is over now and I’m looking forward for some character growth for Cary as we head deeper into season two.

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“What If…?” S1E04 – Doctor Strange

Come, this way, Sorcerer Armani.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

That hit me right in the feels in a way I absolutely did not expect.

What If…? has been quite an interesting show so far. Unlike Loki, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and WandaVision (which remains my all-time favorite show of the year), the MCU’s first entry into animated television hasn’t had high enough stakes so far, emotional or otherwise. What if…T’Challa Became Star-Lord and now Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands are both exceptions. Where the T’Challa episode shone for obvious reasons (getting to hear Chadwick Boseman reprise his titular role one more time was the greatest gift 2021 ever gave us), Doctor Strange hits all the right marks that makes time travel stories so fascinating.

Stephen Strange (voiced once again by Benedict Cumberbatch) finds himself compelled to travel back in time and save Christine (the fantastic Rachel McAdams) to the dismay of Wong (Benedict Wong!) and the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton!). In spectacular time-travel fashion, every attempt fails. As the Ancient One explains to him, Christine’s death is an Absolute Point in time and therefore no matter how many times Strange tries to go back and reverse it, it will still happen.

Not that this particular explanation stops him from trying. What comes next is one of the most tragic sequences the show has produced yet, in which Stephen refuses to accept this, trying over and over (and over) again to save the love of his life. The episode also hilariously references the iconic “Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain” sequence, but it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that the self-obsessed Strange doesn’t take no for an answer.

Along with tragic storylines and gut-punch-worthy moments, What If…Doctor Strange also delivers one of the most entertaining fight scenes yet. We get Strange vs Strange (and Cape vs Cape! Unless they were…dancing?) and tentacles and fire effects and a goosebumps-inducing score (and the Watcher almost interfering?), all of which lead to a truly devastating ending as we zoom out on a lonely Stephen in a universe that basically dies out of existence. It’s the kind of bleak, somber ending that I absolutely would have never expected from a lighthearted, 30-minute show like What If…? but it works, and I am still at a loss of words.

“Only Murders in the Building” – Episodes 1, 2 & 3

“You Goddamn true crime f*ckin’ numb-nuts.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Within the first 10 minutes, Only Murders in the Building makes it abundantly clear that this show is a love letter to true crime fans, podcast lovers, and Broadway enthusiasts. It also has something for comedy as well as mystery fanatics. So yes, this show is basically for everyone.

Starring Steve Martin, Selena Gomez and Martin Short, the show follows three neighbors who find themselves investigating a crime that took place in their apartment building on the Upper West Side. The trio have little to nothing in common, besides a shared interest in Serial-esque podcasts and keeping secrets.

(left to right): Selena Gomez, Martin Short, and Steve Martin

One of the strongest things about Only Murders, at least in the first three episodes (all of which Hulu decided to release at once), is its incredibly fast-paced nature and quick zingers. The premiere in particular wastes no time in setting up the premise of the show–besides a cringeworthy in medais res that we’re all going to pretend didn’t happen–and introducing us to the colorful characters of Arconia, the apartment building in which they all live. Director Jamie Babbit also does some incredible shots of the trio in every elevator shot that we see in the first three episodes (and we see a lot of elevator shots), so credit where credit is due.

Surprising no one, Martin, Short and Gomez are wonderful performances that bring so much nuance to their respective characters. Whether Mabel (Gomez), the archetype Millennial, is correcting Charles (Martin) on how he doesn’t need to sign every text or how she looked up “all of the websites on the Internet”, or whether Oliver (Short) lives every moment as if he is shooting a Broadway play, there’s plenty of meta-commentary on the cultural exchange that occurs, and it’s safe to say this would have easily fumbled with lesser performers. Gomez, who I have not seen in an acting gig since Wizards of Waverly Place, doesn’t quite the kind of hefty material her male counterparts do in the first episode. Luckily, that is slightly rectified by the time the credits rolled over the third episode (no spoilers).

Just when I thought the pilot was going in a very expected trajectory, the episode ends on a brilliant cliffhanger. It’s the kind of ending that is reminiscent of a network TV show closing out their pilot with a bang, forcing people to tune in the following week for more. While the consequent two episodes aren’t quite as meticulously plotted, I’d be damned if I didn’t say I am already hooked and can’t wait for more.