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Really liked what I saw this week. My gosh, Taraji P. Henson's eyes convey so much. I think I could watch Cookie's expressions the entire hour with the sound off & still know what the episode was about. The way she looked at Lucius' house from the taxi said so much in 5 seconds. The depth of the characters is fantastic. Hakeem is such a little putz. But, he's made tolerable by his relationship with his brother, one of the best parts of the whole series. The way Lucius can hide his murderous nature is really chilling. The tears, the fake promise to his family to get justice for Bunkie - how cold & calculating. Probably wasn't the first time he did that either. In that light, I think his treatment of Cookie is pretty mild compared to what he's capable of. Frankly, I think part of him still loves her. It's evident that her opinion of him still matters. And, he knows no one else loves him like Cookie did. She believed in him when he was nobody & sacrificed herself for him & their sons. Would Anika ever do the same? HA! Fat chance! And, he knows it. As far as the music goes, it's OK. The best song this week IMO was Jamal's. But, the reason I keep coming back is the drama; not the music. I don't like the way the young men treat the women in this series. But, it is important to show that - to show what the lack of parents can do to a person no matter what their tax bracket.

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Thanks, Stacy!

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Last week, I made a comment on another board that AGENT CARTER is a nice contrast to AoS precisely because the era was characterized by an extreme reliance on secrets; especially in Great Britain. The U.S. did indeed have their fair share (Operation Paperclip). But, my impression is that the UK was much more strict & closed-off with their information than the U.S.; probably because of their proximity to the USSR & its looming threat. I'm glad it's part of the atmosphere of CARTER that we're seeing the creators of SHIELD literally dealing in secrets. On AoS, Coulson & Company are trying to uncover decades of them while staying barely one step ahead of Hydra. One part I didn't understand was what Peggy did to get her boss to verbally thrash her. That went completely over my head. How did she save Jarvis from being grilled?

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Like the show. Liked the episode. But, I wish the reviewer would use a different phrase when she writes about Stevie's POV. Stevie *feels* her mother lied to her out of choice. Elizabeth doesn't just "lie" because she's wanted to. Elizabeth is not allowed to tell anyone what she does as a CIA analyst. It's against the law. If she did, she could be charged with violating numerous national security laws, or even treason. I know someone who is also employed as a gov't analyst. They don't want to always be lying to their family. So they simply say, "I'm going to be working." Period. No explanation is given, and none is expected. The way Stevie is written is to play up the drama of an idealistic, immature young woman being slapped with a reality check. But, I did like how she admitted she had some growing up to do. 95% of kids in Stevie's position have parents who are gone repeatedly for business with little explanation. They know the score, and are more realistic & mature at age 13 than Stevie is being portrayed. With two parents as intelligent as the ones on screen, you'd think Stevie would be more thoughtful & circumspect than just jump to the judgmental position right away.

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Solid mid-season finale. I especially liked how an overconfident Rumple had his *ss handed to him by Belle, and Regina's willingness to do the right thing was rewarded with friendship & love. My goodness, Henry is growing up! He looks more mature with each passing episode. I have no idea who they have in mind for an author/sorcerer who is more powerful than Rumple. But, hopefully they can fulfill heightened expectations the longer this mystery continues. The one element that is disappointing is Will Scarlett's role. Why was he even brought on if he's just going to be wallpaper?

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Well, I'm a female. I don't like "shipping" characters without a good reason. And, I don't want Skye & Ward together because he's a murderous creep. He can go right ahead & sacrifice everything for her. She deserves it after what HYDRA did to her family. And after what Ward helped HYDRA do to SHIELD, he can grovel at Coulson & Company's feet for all I care. He. Will. Never. Redeem. Himself. That doesn't, however, mean he isn't good to look at while playing an obsessive SHIELD wannabee. In fact, that's really the ultimate punishment for him - to never again be a trusted "good guy" like he was for that brief, shining moment. To be on the outside looking in, never trusted, always doubted & scorned - it's the perfect purgatory for someone who had it all & threw it away for HYDRA, an organization he really didn't care about. What a waste!

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Liked the episode. But, was confused over Ingrid's sudden, "Oh, my sister DID love me!" conversion. When she touched the letter & remembered their childhood, it was like the audience was being told she had forgotten all of that when the trolls cast their amnesia spell on kingdom. But, since she clearly remembered that she had sisters, I didn't think the spell affected her memory. Did the troll spell really affect her that way? It's the only way I will accept her change of heart, which was just too quick & complete IMO for her self-sacrifice. After pursuing Emma & Elsa with dogged determination for decades & for most of the episode, it such a whiplash change that troll magic would explain a lot of the pain she caused.

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We should remember what the Doctor did in Season 1 though that made him the season's Big Bad. Mike Peterson's life was completely ruined, in the same way Hydra ruined the Doctor's life. The Doctor tore him from his son & literally turned him into a monster. Skye won't forgive that so easy. Who knows what else he's done to people in the past 20+ years w/Hydra? He became like just Whitehall in order to get back at Whitehall. Skye's mother would probably find that objectionable.

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One point that isn't clear to me is whether the Doctor knows, or even cares, that it was Hydra who raided the village; not SHIELD. He seems to hold both responsible even though viewers realize it was Hydra that had the Diviner in its sites back in WWII. SHIELD/Coulson still has no idea that Skye's mother was the purpose of the raid & the reason that Hydra tore her family apart. And, the Doctor isn't telling. As for Ward...ultimately, his alliances lie with himself. He's going to do his best to help Skye find answers & get retribution. But, he isn't going to ally himself permanently with any group that could end him. He'll be that rogue character on the fringe that everyone hates, but sometimes needs in a pinch.

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Last thought, not random. KYLE MACHLACHLAN knocks it out of the part as the Doctor. How great is his dialogue in the scene with Coulson? I loved the self-referential nature of it..."It's exciting, isn't it? Two parties, racing to a temple to see what's inside....life and death, passion, EMOTIONS! And, my little girl is going to be at the center of it all." He's a fantastic actor. I'm watching him on THE GOOD WIFE in a recurring role, and he's a completely different personality. They might even age him with makeup on AoS because on TGW, the guy is still as handsome as he was on TWIN PEAKS, almost 2 decades ago.