Reacher Understands The Assignment

Reacher / Prime Video

Everything you need to know about Jack Reacher appears before the character says his first word six and a half minutes into the pilot. He’s a physical specimen – 6’5″, 250 pounds – that could have been better a defensive end than Lawrence Taylor. Reacher is highly-intelligent as he meticulously listens to every detail that comes from the mouth of Oscar Finley (Malcolm Goodwin), Chief Detective of the Margrave Police Department. The war medal in his pocket shows the audience that Reacher probably spent some time in the military, and the lack of luggage means he’s a no-nonsense type of man.

This silent assassin headlines Prime Video’s Reacher, based on the first book in the series from Lee Child, Killing Floor. In the opening scene, Reacher, played by Alan Ritchson (Blue Mountain State, Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), steps off a bus in the small town of Margrave, Georgia, and quickly becomes entangled in a series of murders that take over the entire community. After he learns about his brother’s involvement, Reacher teams up with Finley and Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald) to get to the center of the criminal conspiracy that spans beyond the borders of Margrave.

With the summary out of the way, let’s get down to the brass tacks. Reacher is a certified killer, and his body count throughout the first season rivals that of John Wick. Reacher is constantly the smartest man in every room, and he lets you know it. His first words in the series are “I don’t need a lawyer” after being questioned about the first murder in Margrave. The former major in US Army’s military police then explains why Finley should be looking for three shooters, not one, due to the complexity of the crime.

As someone who hasn’t read the novels, my pre-existing relationship with the character is nonexistent. All I had to go off of were the two Jack Reacher films starring Tom Cruise. The Top Gun star may be a giant movie star, but he’s not big in stature, standing 5’7″, which is nowhere close to the gigantic frame of the character. The series goes out of its way to emphasize Reacher’s size, most notably when he corrects someone who guessed his height as 6’4″ instead of 6’5″. From the reviews of the show, the Prime Video series is more faithful to the character than Cruise’s iteration.

Prime Video perfectly cast Ritchson for the role. He’s a big, strong, good-looking actor that doesn’t have to say much to carry a scene. It helps that Ritchson is 6’4″ and has experience playing “big guy” roles as Thad Castle in Blue Mountain State, Aquaman in Smallville, and Hawk in Titans. Even for his imposing stature, Ritchson still had to gain 30 pounds of muscle to play this iconic character.

Part of the show’s strength is its simplicity. Each episode follows the same script, which makes it extremely easy to watch. Reacher gets a lead on the case, kicks some ass, makes a witty joke about his kills, and finds the next clue that leads into the new episode. There’s no need to run to Reddit after every episode to search for Easter eggs. Critically thinking about the politics of the series or figuring out the overall message of the show isn’t necessary. Reacher knows it’s an entertaining whodunit with a badass leading man, and every episode leans into that premise. Creator Nick Santora understood the assignment. It’s the perfectly enjoyable version of “big dad energy.”

The commitment to stay true to the novels has paid off as Amazon renewed Reacher for Season 2. Amazon already came out and said it’s one of the service’s five most-watched series of all time. The service should lock Ritchson up for more action roles because he will be in high demand as the show’s popularity increases.

Reacher knows what its fans want, and delivers like a warm slice of peach pie.

Did you enjoy Reacher? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol 5: Improving The Telecast

Oscars

Let’s travel to the future together. It’s March 28, 2022. The ratings for the Oscars come out, and the show managed to increase from 2021’s career-low 10 million viewers. However, the number of viewers was less than 2020’s ceremony, which accumulated 23.6 million. There will be multiple “how-to” posts all over Twitter, providing solutions on various ways to fix the telecast.

I’m beating those writers to the punch. I can’t fix the Academy, nor is it my place to do so. I’m interested in the telecast itself. For the second time, I came up with a few ideas to implement into future ceremonies.

Improving The Telecast

The Oscars need to remember that it’s a television show first and foremost. Rewarding incredible achievements and spotlighting the Hollywood elite, though important, is secondary to running an informative and entertaining broadcast. The days of 30 million viewers are behind us. Cinephiles like myself who love movies will always watch. The key is to figure out how to bring back the casual fan.

Move The Nominations To Primetime

Announcing the Oscar nominees on a Tuesday at 8:15 am ET/515 am PT is malpractice. Why haven’t entertainment journalists rallied together and protested against the morning announcements? Being nominated for an Oscar is life-changing, but it’s hard to generate excitement before most people drink a cup of coffee.

The nominations should be a one-hour primetime special on ABC. One or two hosts can announce the nominations throughout the hour. Create a panel of movie experts and entertainment journalists to live-react to the surprises and snubs. Conduct virtual interviews with nominees to generate excitement for one of the highest honors of their lives. Stream the special on Twitter so those without cable can take part in the action. Selfishly, it will be easier for writers (like myself) to blog about the nominations at a normal hour instead of the wee hours of the morning.

Cut The Check For A Host

Hosting the Oscars used to be one of the most prestigious gigs in Hollywood. Icons like Bob Hope, David Letterman, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, and Chris Rock all hosted the Oscars. After the Kevin Hart controversy in 2019, there has been no host, and the show has suffered from three straight shows with an average of 20 million viewers, the lowest three years in 35 years.

Besides the Internet dragging a host through the mud for every little mistake in their past, the financial compensation to host is extremely low. Jimmy Kimmel said he was paid $15,000 to host. For a high-risk, high reward project that requires a lot of time and attention to detail, the Academy should compensate the host financially at a fair number. Maybe it’s not enough money to captivate an A+ list star, but it could attract an A-/B+ host to take on the challenge.

I would just like to put it on the record that I want to host the Oscars. If any member of the Academy reads this article and wants my services, please hit me up.

Best Picture Eliminator

Best Picture is the biggest award of the night that’s usually the last award announced*. Presenters will spotlight each Best Picture nominee throughout the ceremony with a short speech and clips. The clips can stay. However, I want to drum up even more anticipation for the greatest award. What if a few nominees were eliminated from the race at the end of each hour?

*Do NOT even get me started on last year’s decision to put Best Picture second-to-last and end the show with a picture of Anthony Hopkins because he wasn’t there to accept his award for Best Actor.

I call it “The Eliminator.” At the end of the first hour, a presenter announces the elimination of three to four films from the Best Picture race. At the end of the second hour, three more films are eliminated from contention. The plan is to have the final three going into the last hour. Halfway through the last hour, eliminate one more film so it gets down to two. Then, announce the winner from the remaining two films at the end of the night.

Don’t tell me this wouldn’t garner attention from those watching at home and those following along on Twitter. Tense eliminations work! Just ask American Idol, Survivor, The Challenge, The Bachelor, etc. Some might argue that eliminating films throughout the night will diminish their value. Who wants to come in tenth place in any competition? To avoid this, don’t announce the number of votes placed for spots four through ten. Don’t publicly rank the films from ninth place, eighth place, seventh place, and so on and so forth. Randomly determine which ones to eliminate for those first two hours. Only the order of the final three should matter. The crowd’s reactions to these eliminations will generate loud, viral reactions. Think of the memes!

Award Stunt Ensembles

Looking back, the most popular award was ahead of its time. #FilmTwitter begs and complains about the Oscars 24/7. I mean I’m literally writing an article about changing the telecast! You know what would bring in high ratings? Tom Holland and Zendaya accepting an award for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The show needs popular movies featured in the telecast. If we can’t agree on the popular Oscar, then the next best thing is an award for stunt ensembles, similar to the award given at the SAGs. Rewarding stunt ensembles is long overdue. These daredevils deserve to be rewarded on the same stage where the actors they portray collect Oscars. Plus, it’s a good way to incorporate more action blockbusters into the ceremony.

Fan Voting For Non-Awards

The Oscars should be a celebration of the year in film for the fans. Without these fans, movies would never be made. It’s time to make their voices heard throughout the broadcast. The Academy will never let fans vote on the awards, which is fine by me. However, there needs to be a fan element to the broadcast. Fans should be able to vote on who they think will win each category. A ticker can run at the bottom of the screen to reveal the fan vote before the announcement for each category is made.

I’d also consider adding fun categories for fans to vote on like best dressed, best speech, the best performance of the year, the best film of the year, etc. Hold a prediction contest to see who can predict the most winners of the night and announce their name on the broadcast. There needs to be more social interaction between the host and the viewers. Make the audience at home feel like their opinion matters.

Start It Earlier

The Super Bowl is the most-watched event in the country and it starts at 6:30 PM EST. The Oscars are not the Super Bowl, but the ceremony should not air from 8 PM – 11 PM. Casual viewers are not staying up that late to watch. Either do it from 6:30 PM – 10 PM or 7 PM – 10 PM. Then, run a post-game interview show from 10 PM – 11 PM.

I’m writing this article as someone who adores this ceremony. I only want this show to thrive, not struggle, in the future. Here’s to an open mind.

Previous Discussions:

What are your suggestions for the Oscars? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me at, @danny_giro.

2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol. 4: BAFTA Nominations Reaction

King Richard / Warner Bros.

The BAFTA Awards announced their nominations this past Thursday morning. There were a lot of surprises, both good and bad, which will directly impact how predictions for the 2022 Oscars. Shall we travel across the pond?

BAFTA Nominations

If you love Dune, then you were jumping for joy as Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic led the field with 11 nominations as the film will be the frontrunner to pick up hardware in many technical categories. Oscar favorites The Power of the Dog and Belfast followed behind with eight and six nominations, respectfully. Click here to see all of the categories. Right now, I want to focus on the major categories especially the acting nominations.

Big Wins

  • Don’t Look Up in Best Film and Leonardo DiCaprio in Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Everyone in the Best Directing category besides Paul Thomas Anderson and Jane Campion
  • Will Smith for King Richard in Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Alana Haim for Licorice Pizza and Renate Reinsve for The Worst Person in the World in Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Mike Faist for West Side Story in Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Jessie Buckley for The Lost Daughter and Ann Dowd for Mass in Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Big Losses

  • No West Side Story in Best Film
  • No Steven Spielberg for West Side Story, Denis Villeneuve for Dune, or Kenneth Branagh for Belfast in Best Director
  • No Denzel Washington (!!!) once again or Andrew Garfield for tick, tick… Boom! in Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • No Oliva Colman for The Lost Daughter, Nicole Kidman for Being the Riccardos, or Kristen Stewart for Best Actress in a Leading Role

Keep in mind that Oscar voting ended on Feb. 1 so voters turned in their ballots before these nominations were revealed. However, the BAFTA results can have a direct impact on Oscar winners. Just ask Olivia Colman in 2019 or Anthony Hopkins last year, who both benefited from BAFTA victories in Best Actor and Actress on their way to upset wins at the Oscars in the same categories.

The Top 2 In Acting Categories

If you were on #FilmTwitter today, then the phrase “top 2” was being thrown around left and right. This is in regards to voting for two lead acting and two supporting acting categories. These are the rules straight from the BAFTA website.

The BAFTAs released longlists of 15 actors and actresses in each category back in January. From the pool of 15, the top 2 are nominated. Then, the jury will determine the final four nominations from spots 3-15 with a vote.

In simpler terms, think of this voting process like it’s American Idol during the deliberations. The top vote-getters automatically move on to the live shows. For the remaining spots, the judges would choose the wild cards from the rest of the pool, and they too would also advance to the Finals.

Why is this important? Although the BAFTAs won’t reveal the top 2, correctly guessing these two positions will help predict the Oscars as the top 2 selections will typically receive a nomination in their respective category. By some process of elimination, we can narrow down the answer as to who made the top 2 and make educated guesses.

As Matt Neglia and many other critics pointed out on Twitter, there are a select group of individuals who received nominations by four major guilds: Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and the BAFTAs.

Let’s start with the easy decisions. Troy Kotsur, Kodi Smith-Mcphee, Caitríona Balfe, and Ariana DeBose have racked up nominations all over so it’s safe to say those four made the top 2 in the supporting categories.

In Best Actor, Benedict Cumberbatch is in all likelihood in the top 2 because of the eight nominations for The Power of the Dog including Best Film. It gets trickier with Will Smith. Smith might be the frontrunner for the Oscar, but he was probably saved by the jury while Leonardo DiCaprio made the top 2. DiCaprio’s biggest nomination to date occurred at the Golden Globes. That’s his only real nomination throughout awards season. If that’s the case, why would the jury save him? It makes more sense for DiCaprio to be in the top 2. Regardless, the voters loved his outburst on The Daily Rip, as did I.

Then there’s Lady Gaga, who definitely made the top 2 thanks to her nomination dominance these past few months. Who also made the top 2? Time for the process of elimination. Emilia Jones has received a lot of best new actress or rising star nominations, but rarely cracked the lead actress category so cross her off. Renate Reinsve is the lead in one of the best films of the year, but the film just opened in the U.S. so without big nominations in North America, cross her off. Joanna Scanlan is in a British film and the BAFTAs typically like to reward performances like hers despite little awards recognition so cross her off. Tessa Thompson is a nice surprise in this category, but her co-star, Ruth Negga, has gotten the bulk of the nominations in supporting so cross Tessa off.

This leads us to my best guess for the other member of the top 2, Alana Haim. First of all, fuck yes! I love HAIM, the band, so I almost fainted when I read she would be the lead in a PTA film. Haim is phenomenal in her debut film performance, and the voting body agreed as well. This gives me hope that Haim will sneak her way into Best Actress at the Oscars. You’ll never hear me shut up about it if Haim makes it to the final five.

All of these debates will end when the Oscar nominations are announced on February 8, 2022. Until then, predict away!

Previous Discussions:

Tweet me, @danny_giro, with your best Oscar predictions!

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 5 Recap: Piano Woman

This Is Us / NBC

If any piano players are reading this, then tell me how to properly play “Heart and Soul.” I can do one hand at a time, but I can never play both hands at once. Tom Hanks, could you help me out? While I practice, continuing reading the recap for last night’s This Is Us.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 5 Recap: “Heart and Soul”

U Up?

Kevin is not only coming to terms with his life as a co-parent but as a spectator in Madison’s relationship with Elijah. You could say Kevin is in his feelings, which is why he calls Cassidy to meet him up at the cabin for the weekend with Uncle Nicky. When Cassidy asks if it’s a sex thing, Kevin laughs it off but also wonders if she’s serious.

At the cabin, Nicky introduces his girlfriend, Edie, to both Kevin and Cassidy. It turns out Nicky is a real ladies’ man. Who would’ve thought? Not me! When Nicky and Edie cuddle on the couch, Kevin elects for ice cream with Cassidy. When he grabs her hand, Cassidy shuts him down, saying they will never be in a relationship. As Cassidy puts it, Kevin is “chasing the wrong blonde in the wrong city.” Does this mean Sophie or Madison? Cassidy respectfully asks Kevin to keep her out of his love life. Afterward, Kevin sends a “u up” text to Elijah and gives him advice on how to handle Madison when it comes to food and her battle with an eating disorder.

Going To Boston

Randall and Beth are surprised to learn that Malik and Deja want to cook dinner for the family and most likely apologize for their weekend getaway in Boston. Randall and Beth bring back the Worst Case Scenario Game and determine that Deja is either pregnant or eloped. Those are not great options, but that’s why it’s called the worst-case scenario and not a happy ending!

At dinner, Deja opens door number three and informs her adopted parents about plans to graduate high school a year early and move to Boston to live with Malik. What is it with This Is Us and awkward dinners? Randall disagrees from the start, but in a surprise move, he tells Malik to break up with Deja so she can figure out the next two years of her life. In true Malik fashion, he remains calm, tells Randall about his love for Deja, and states he will not mention this to his girlfriend for fear of ruining their father-daughter relationship. Malik is a true gentleman.

When Randall sits down with Beth to discuss the bombshell, he insists that they need to put their foot down and say no. Beth warns Randall about the consequences of this decision as they could lose Deja’s trust for good.

Piano (Wo)Man

In the past, Rebecca and Miguel try their hand at speed dating, but not before getting a lecture from teenage Kate about needing a social life. Speed dating turns out to be a disaster until Rebecca matches with Matt, the man who asked her out a short time after Jack died. The two hit it off, and Rebecca agrees to go out with him for coffee. The date is a success, and Rebecca finally feels good about herself until teenage Kate goes full you know what on her. Kate yells at Rebecca for dating, calling her mother a slut (yikes), to which Rebecca slaps her across the face. Both women instantly regret the decision, and Miguel attempts to calm Rebecca down over the phone. Once again, thank you, Miguel.

In the present, Kate spends the entire day with Rebecca while Toby spends time on a yacht. That does not seem like a fair trade-off. Anyway, Rebecca brings Jack and Hailey to Kate’s school, and Rebecca tickles some keys on the piano as she leads the class in a song.

As it turns out, Kate has an ulterior motive for the meet-up with Rebecca. Due to Rebecca’s latest PET scan, Kate informs Rebecca that she can no longer watch the children by herself. As expected, this crushes Rebecca, and she leaves the house in tears. However, Kate later apologizes and asks Rebecca to teach the piano to Jack as a way to spend more time with her grandkids. The episode ends with Rebecca embracing Kate over multiple timelines while playing “Heart and Soul.:”

Chopsticks?

This Is Us will return on Feb. 22 due to the Winter Olympics. See you then.

What are your thoughts on last night’s episode of This Is Us? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 4: Call Your Mom

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 4

If you didn’t call your mother after finishing this episode of This Is Us, what are you doing?

Also, I apologize for not having a recap of last week’s episode. I was not able to watch the episode until Wednesday night and at that point, it would have been too late for the recap. I will be better.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 4: “Don’t Let Me Keep You”

Jack, the Son

Unfortunately, Jack’s mother, Marilyn, has died of an aneurysm so he leaves Rebecca, much to her disagreement, and the Big Three behind for Ohio, where his mother was living. Upon arrival, he’s greeted by her cousin, Debbie, who takes a dig at our favorite father by saying it only took him “13 years to visit.”

We soon learn that Jack drove his mother to Ohio to get her out of the abusive relationship with his father. Debbie has so much emotional trauma from the relationship that it prevents her from traveling back to Pittsburgh frequently. When she did visit the Big Three as newborns, Marilyn was on edge that her husband might come to visit. In turn, Jack never took the kids to see their grandmother in Ohio. Jack and Marilyn’s only form of communication was Sunday evening telephone calls.

Funny enough, I always call my mom on Sunday night. Is this in the Mother-Son Playbook? When you move out of your mother’s house, you’re required to speak with her every Sunday night despite being hungover with a stomach full of taco bell.

Much to his surprise, Jack meets his mother’s boyfriend, Mike, who reminded me of a hybrid between Sam Elliot and David Crosby. Mike tells Jack about how the two met, and how Marilyn built a new life for herself in Ohio. After sharing a few 7 and 7’s, a drunk Jack calls his father to let him know about Marilyn’s death. When Mr. Pearson suggests coming to pay his respects, Jack quickly shuts his father down and orders him to stay home. Jack starts to feel guilty about the years he lost with his mother.

At the funeral, Jack starts to hesitate during his eulogy until Rebecca and the kids walk in. “Saved by the Wife,” coming to NBC this fall. Upon seeing his family, Jack realizes that both he and his mother created new lives for each other. Although it strained their relationship to an extent, they finally lived in safe and loving homes, which was always their goal. It was at this moment where I thought The Cinematic Orchestra would come in with “To Build A Home.”

After the Big Three finally skate with the equipment Marilyn made, Jack and Rebecca head back to their home in Pittsburgh. Moved by thoughts of his mother, Jack cooks hot dogs and tomato soup for dinner, which is the same meal Marilyn made for him after a day in the snow. All of these memories finally hit Jack at once, which brings him to the realization that his mother is gone. Jack quickly sheds his tears, puts on his Superman cape, and heads back to the kitchen with the Big Three.

Shoutout to all the moms in the world. You the real MVP.

See you next week when Miguel and Rebecca explore the life of speed dating!

Did you enjoy tonight’s episode? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol. 3: SAG Nominations Aftermath

Don't Look Up / Netflix

Here is your daily reminder that the 94th Academy Awards will air on March 27, 2022. For those that struggle with the math, that means the Oscars are more than two months away. That’s inexcusable in my humble opinion, but I’m trying to be nice since I will be the host one day. But first, SAG Awards.

How SAG Nominations Affect The Oscars

On January 12, 2022, the Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced. With the Golden Globes taking a step back this year (more on this later), the SAG Awards will arguably be the second most important awards show this season behind the Oscars. It’s not the “be all, end all” for Oscar nominations and wins, but it’s a good barometer for what to expect when at the Oscars.

Below are the nominations for this year’s SAG Awards, which will air on February 27, 2022.

For those not familiar with these awards, it’s all about acting and not about the technical categories (besides stunt). If you watch the ceremony, the opening monologue is split between a handful of well-known stars who make a joke or comment about the industry before ending it with “I am ____, and I’m an actor.”

A SAG nomination does not guarantee an Oscar nomination, but many actors and films can use this nomination to strengthen their campaigns. Instead of comparing the results of last year’s unprecedented ceremonies, let’s go back two years to the 26th SAG Awards in 2020.

Every SAG winner went on to win the Oscar in their respective category including Parasite, which built off the momentum gained at this ceremony to win Best Picture at the Oscars. At 2018’s ceremony, all four actors who won the SAG went on to win at the Oscars. The precedent is there. A SAG win will only strengthen the campaign for an Oscar win.

Looking at this year’s nominees, the big winners are Don’t Look Up and House of Gucci. Belfast and King Richard are locks for Best Picture nominations. The “little engine that could” aka CODA should sneak into the Best Picture category as well. Before these SAG nominations, Don’t Look Up and House of Gucci were on the outside looking in. Now, at least one of them will make the Best Picture category, and my money is on Don’t Look Up.

In the acting categories, the big winners are The Power of Dog and Being the Ricardos, who scored both three and two nominations, respectfully. Bradley Cooper, Ben Affleck, and Jared Leto were also winners with supporting acting nominations. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Troy Kotsur are favorites for the Oscar, but it’s not out of the question for someone like Cooper, an 8-time nominee, to make the race interesting.

The biggest omission has to be Kristen Stewart, who was an Oscar favorite for her portrayal of Princess Diana in Spencer. No actor has won Best Actress without being nominated for the SAG. Other notable omissions are Rachel Zegler and Alana Haim. I would still count on Zegler to receive a Best Actress nomination, but this virtually ends Haim’s Oscar campaign. I’m upset. #JusticeForAlanaHaim

Quick Hits

  • Oscar nominations will be announced on February 8, 2022.
  • Frame this tweet from the Golden Globes.

Previous Discussions:

Tweet me, @danny_giro, with your best Oscar predictions!

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 2 Recap: Awkward Dinners

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 2

To the writers on This Is Us, you did it again. I call it “the swerve.” You set us up thinking Nicky will end up with one woman, only to hit us with the swerve and introduce us to a new character. I’m tipping my hat right now.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 2 Recap: “One Giant Leap”

Deja Heads To Harvard

On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again. Sing it!

Deja is off to visit a friend, but it’s not the friend she discussed with Randall and Beth. Instead, Deja heads to Cambridge to visit Malik at Harvard. As someone who once visited his significant other at college via bus, it’s a commitment. You’re lucky if the Wifi works. Good luck going to the bathroom because it smells bad. The things we do when we’re young…

After arriving at the bus station, Deja unexpectedly meets Jennifer, Malik’s ex and mother of his child. After the awkward encounter, Deja quickly learns that Malik is tired and stressed from balancing his studies along with fatherhood. In a typical Pearson move, Deja lets Malik finish his paper on Russian literature before heading out to a party.

Their time at the party doesn’t last long because Deja tells Malik she’s ready to have sex. The young lovers eventually go back to Malik’s apartment to have sex. Although nervous at first, Deja and Malik lovingly embrace and do the deed. Afterward, a glowing Deja tells Malik that she wants to feel this way forever with him.

Will this love story have a happy ending? More importantly, will Malik be the father of Deja’s child in the future?

The Awkward Dinner

After last week’s demand from Rebecca, she, Nicky, and Miguel go on a road trip to visit Sally, Nicky’s love from the 60s. After stopping at a vintage shop to purchase an old camera for Sally, Nicky starts to get cold feet, and in the process, reveals he never connected with his long-lost love and has no idea if this is “his” Sally. Showing up unannounced at the doorstep of a woman you haven’t seen in over 50 years is bold!

Nicky arrives at Sally’s house, and it turns out that it’s really her! Although she barely remembers the 60s, the camera triggers Sally’s memory, and she embraces Nicky. However, the happy reunion comes to an abrupt end when Sally’s husband, Eric, enters the living room. Nicky panics and asks to leave, but Miguel and Rebecca agree to stay for dinner.

If you thought Malik’s encounter with Jennifer was awkward, then this dinner scene puts that meeting to shame. Where to even begin? Nicky’s clearly upset about Sally’s marriage and he tries to insult Eric by saying Sally deflowered (LOL) him. When Sally forgets a detail from a story, she makes a remark about early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Yikes.

To make things even more awkward, Rebecca tells Sally and Eric about her Alzheimer’s, stating that memory loss makes you care more about the small stuff. Everyone goes around the table with trivial confessions about things they care too much about. Nicky tells Sally about how he’s thought about her for decades, and Sally responds by discussing her marital problems.

Big Yikes!

Things blow over (eventually), and Sally and Rebecca have a sweet moment about how they shouldn’t care about what people think. These insecurities made Sally give up posing for pictures while Rebecca stopped salsa dancing with Miguel. As the night comes to a close, Nicky finds a picture of himself on Sally’s wall, which reassures him that the trip was a success. The love of his life still cared about him despite her memory lapses.

Finally, Rebecca, Miguel, and Nicky leave (thank god!), but not before Nicky kisses Sally on the cheek and Rebecca agrees to salsa dance again with her husband. The happy ending we were all looking for!

Flash-Forward

For the first time in Season 6, we got a flash-forward! In the clip, Randall and Deja greet the person in the white car at the cabin. A woman named Edie steps out and consoles both Randall and Deja. Edie then walks up to Nicky and kisses him, but not before flashing a wedding ring on her finger.

Back to the present day, Nicky is on a flight and playfully chats up the flight attendant. The flight attendant is, you guessed it, Frank Stallone!

Or Edie.

Edie, not Sally, is Nicky’s future wife. The swerve got us again!

Tune in next week for an episode about fatherhood. Hopefully, it’s not as awkward as the dinner table!

Did you enjoy this week’s episode of This Is Us? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 1 Recap: Can’t Save Everyone

This Is Us Season 6

This Is Us is going to build us up, break us down, and then try to build us up back again. Between Rebecca’s devasting diagnosis to the downfall of Kate and Toby’s marriage, there are going to be a lot of heartbreaking moments this season. Here’s to the good times!

This Is Us Season 6 Episode 1 Recap: “The Challenger”

Rebecca’s Devastating News

Rebecca’s health is the overarching storyline of Season 6. Kevin, Kate, and Randall’s decisions from here on out will all consider their mother’s health.

In the past, Jack and Rebecca confront the Big Three about the Challenger explosion after the children watch it on television. Kate tries to find the silver lining, saying the astronauts are now closer to heaven. Randall takes the sympathetic route, wondering who will feed the children of the teacher on board. Kevin chooses to hide his pain and pretend it wasn’t real.

Later that night, Rebecca and Jack rationalize their children’s decisions. Jack believes Kevin is protecting himself from getting hurt while Rebecca compares Randall to Holden Caulfield and how he’ll eventually realize that he can’t save everyone.

Did they nail those comparisons or what?

In the present day, Rebecca, Nicky, and Miguel take Kevin’s kids to the park and ride a kiddie train. Rebecca starts to reminisce about how she loved going on trains with her father, but she struggles to remember her favorite cart. At Kate and Kevin’s party, Rebecca reveals her PET scan revealed plaque building in her brain. In other words, early-onset Alzheimer’s. At the end of the episode, Rebecca tearfully remembers the word, “caboose.”

The Downfall Of Marriage

That headline may be harsh, but it’s true. Kate and Toby are heading towards a divorce whether you like it or not. Kate is going to marry Phillip at age 45, but her marriage to Toby has to crumble first and foremost.

Damn. Have a soul, Dan.

Toby video chats with Kate to wish her a happy birthday, but ends the call abruptly to get back to work, much to Kate’s dismay. After a birthday massage, Phillip texts Kate to come to the school due to an emergency. Before entering the office, Kate eavesdrops on Phillip’s brutal breakup with his partner. I’m not a romantic expert like Mystery, but calling someone “boring” is grounds for a nice slap across the face. After the awkward breakup, Phillip surprises Kate with a performance of “Time After Time” from her students.

Later that night, Kate views pictures of the day when she stops to text Toby, who ends up surprising her in person for her birthday.

Calling my shot: One of the pictures will be of Phillip admiring Kate.

The Manny Reboot?

If I were left at the altar, I would move out the next day. Kevin, on the other hand, decides his best course of action is to move into the garage to be closer to the babies. Good idea? Hold that thought.

It’s easy to forget that Kevin is an actor considering how many projects he’s left. Kevin heads to the studio to meet with Casey, the former producer of The Manny, who offers him a role as the father in the reboot of the same show he walked off of in Season 1. Due to Kevin’s outbursts and sporadic behavior, Hollywood isn’t exactly clamoring to cast Kevin as the lead in a movie. Although Kevin would rather die than go back to The Manny, he decides to take the job so he can stay in Los Angeles to be closer to his kids and mother.

Also, Madison connects with Elijah, a friend from the book club. Jealousy gets the best of Kevin and leads to him leaving the garage in favor of Kate’s couch.

Randall Can’t Save Everyone

Spider-Man learned that he can’t save everyone, which is a lesson Randall tackles head-on. Randall receives news that the burglar who broke into his house has been caught and arraigned that day. Instead of spending the birthday with the beautiful, awesome, and charismatic wife, Beth, Randall opts for a day in court.

When Randall confronts the burglar, he soon notices the burglar’s mental health problems along with drug addiction. Randall decides to bail the burglar out and offer him a bed at a local homeless shelter. When the burglar never shows up, Randall reveals to Beth that he must help out more people in the city.

Randall can’t save everyone, but he’s going to try.

That’s it for now. Tune in next week when we get to see Nicky stalk Sally in real life!

What are your thoughts on the last night’s This Is Us? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet me, @danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 6 Preview And Predictions: The End Is Near

This Is Us / NBC

To quote Phoebe Bridgers, “The end is near” for the Pearson family. Tonight marks the beginning of the sixth and final season of NBC’s This Is Us.

It’s hard to believe that this show has been in our lives since 2016. My dad deserves all the credit for my fandom as it was him who suggested that I would like the show after a few episodes into Season 1. The old man knows what I like so golf clap to him.

Speaking of family, we last saw the Pearsons sitting down in Adirondack chairs after Madison called off her wedding with Kevin. For one of the worst moments in someone’s life, Kevin handled it quite well and even smiled which leads me to believe it was for the best.

With Season 6 upon us, the journey to Kevin’s house begins tonight. Like the previous four seasons, I will be recapping every episode on Wednesdays. Before that, here’s a quick season preview with some predictions of what lies ahead on This Is Us.

*Optional: Listen to “I Know the End” while reading the preview and predictions. Be prepared to scream at the top of your lungs by the end of the article. Playing the air-sax is also optional.

Season 6 Preview

“Sometimes you’ve got to go back, to move forward.” – Matthew McConaughey

Let’s follow Matthew’s advice and briefly recap the Season 5 finale.

  • Madison and Kevin agree to call off the wedding.
  • Rebecca asks Kevin to build her the house she always wanted.
  • Kate agrees to try a long-distance relationship after Toby receives a job offer in San Francisco.
  • Rebecca aplogizes to Randall for witholding knowldge about William for upwards of 30 years.

Flash-forward from Season 5 finale:

  • Kevin is at a wedding in the future. He’s practicing a speech in the mirror, but it’s not for him.
  • Big Three Construction is a real thing.
  • Kevin has a girlfriend (women’s clothes in his room), but who?
  • Randall has a “Rising Star” profile in a magazine.
  • Uncle Nicky is alive and married.
  • Beth and Madison are still alive.
  • Kevin is 45 so this flash-forward is about five years into the future.
  • Madison and Kevin seem to be on good terms. I did not spot wedding rings on their fingers, but both seem to be cordial and happy.
  • The location is Kate’s second wedding.
  • Kate is marrying… PHILLIP FROM MUSIC SCHOOL.
  • Kate and Toby are divorced.

The stage is set for Season 6. We’ve seen five years into the future when the Big Three are 45. We’ve seen 10 (?) or so years into the future at Kevin’s house. Now, it’s time for Season 6 to fill in all the details of how the characters reach those two checkpoints.

I encourage every fan to read Dan Fogelman’s interview with Entertainment Weekly about how Season 6 will be the show’s “most ambitious” season to date. Fogelman mentioned family, time, and memory as the show’s core themes. Using those themes, there are four major storylines to address before the series ends.

  1. Rebecca’s battle with Alzheimer’s 
  2. The dissolution of Kate and Toby’s marriage as well as the journey to Kate’s remarriage to Phillip
  3. Kevin’s career and love life
  4. Randall’s political rise and how it affects his family

If there’s a fifth bullet point, it would revolve around Miguel and his relationship with Rebecca especially in the early days of their courtship.

Safe to say there’s a lot of ground to cover for Fogelman and the writers. It’s very ambitious to resolve all of these storylines that will leave fans satisfied so I’m expecting some discourse, especially around Kate and Phillip. I highly doubt infidelity will lead to the dissolution of their marriage. Imagine Kate stayed after class one day and Phillip went in for a kiss after they sang a Fleetwood Mac song. I’ll save that for the soap opera spinoff.

Hopefully, you’ve reached the third verse of “I Know the End” so it’s time to make predictions as the song speeds up. I’d like to think I have a good track record of predictions on This Is Us. I correctly predicted the brotherly feud would end around the birth of Kevin’s twins, and I’m very confident that Rebecca will die in the series finale. However, it might be time to take the L on my “Kate will die” theory.

Season 6 Predictions

Miguel Dies: Chrissy Metz teased that this season will mark the end for “two very important characters.” One of these characters has to be Rebecca. I’m predicting that the other character will be Miguel. It would be fitting for Miguel to finally get his episode in the spotlight, only for it to be revealed in a flash-forward that he died.

Kevin Meets His Eventual Wife During The Construction Of Rebecca’s House: Kevin is going to be the leading force behind “Big Three Construction.” He’s also going to find love. Rekindling with Sophie or Madison are the easy choices so I’m predicting that we haven’t met his wife just yet. Perhaps Kevin meets her while building the house and asks her to eventually move in.

Predictions I previously made that could come true:

Nicky Pretends To Be Married To Rebecca: This is my outrageous prediction. In the flash-forward, Nicky is wearing a wedding ring while sitting next to a dying Rebecca. There’s no chance in hell that Nicky marries Rebecca. However, since Rebecca’s memory is shot, Nicky pretends to be Jack on the surface since most of her memories are gone and she only remembers Jack. Nicky wears the wedding ring and acts like Jack even though he’s serving as Rebecca’s caretaker. It’s an odd prediction, but a spicy take.

Rebecca Will Die In The Series Finale: Rebecca will die in the bed surrounded by her loved ones in the series finale. Rebecca’s death will complete the circle of life.

Here’s to one last season with the Pearson family. To quote Bridgers for the last time, “Yeah, I guess the end is here.”

What are your predictions for the final season of This Is Us? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Spoiler-Packed Discussion

Spider-Man: No Way Home

If you’re reading this, then it’s too late. There’s no turning back now. The biggest movie of the year is Spider-Man: No Way Home, and I’m ready to talk about it. Spoilers are on the way. You have been warned.

Seriously, turn around if you haven’t seen the film yet.

I’m running out of videos so this is your final warning.

Spider-Man: No Way Home Thoughts And Reactions

– Wow.

– Where do I even begin? Let’s start with the most obvious talking point. We got the meme.

I knew this moment was coming and it still surprised me. When Ned opened a portal and Spider-Man ran closer to it, you knew it was Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire. Once Garfield removed his mask, my theater exploded like it was a buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. People were screaming with joy, jumping out of their seats with huge smiles on their faces. As Ned tried to open the second portal, the same murmur began as the entire theater waited for Tobey Maguire to enter. Tobey enters the screen, and the theater once again broke the sound barrier. These reactions are exactly why Sony and Marvel choose not to reveal these former heroes in the trailer.

– One of the first swerves of the film occurred when Doctor Strange agreed to cast the spell for Peter, which would make the entire world forget about his identity. However, Strange decided to stop the spell when Peter asked for multiple exceptions as to who would remember him.

Here’s my issue. Doctor Strange is supposed to be one of the smartest and most powerful sorcerers in the world. This is the same guy who went forward in time to view alternate futures to see all the possible outcomes of the battle with Thanos. I’m supposed to believe that Peter’s requests would distract Doctor Strange from completing the spell? Peter asked for MJ, Ned, Aunt May, and Happy to remember his identity as well as anyone else who previously knew his identity. It’s not like he named his entire high school by name. There’s no way Doctor Strange messes this spell up. I refuse to believe it.

– The best part of this trilogy is the relationship between Peter, MJ, and Ned. No Way Home went out of their way to emphasize this three-way friendship. From the college decisions to their final goodbye, you could argue that Ned is just as important to Peter as MJ. These three young stars have such good chemistry that I would love to explore these characters in another film. Perhaps they go to MIT and Peter tries to be Spider-Man in Boston.

– The villains. For me, superhero films are only as strong as their villains. The Dark Knight went from great to iconic because of Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. In No Way Home. The film had five supervillains from previous iterations of Spider-Man including Electro, Lizard, and Sandman. But, the two that deserve the most praise are Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus. In my opinion, these two performances are on the Mount Rushmore of Supervillains in the 21st century. When highly-trained actors like Dafoe and Molina get to play in the comic book sandbox, great things will happen.

Dafoe’s over-the-top and downright evil performance as Green Goblin is so effective that it works as the main antagonist of the film. Another swerve I enjoyed involved Molina’s Doctor Octopus. The trailer sets up Doc Ock as a true villain, but once Peter cures the harness, he becomes an ally of the Spider-Men. (Can we call them the “Spider-Men?”)

– Everything about the Spider-Men team-up worked. The inside jokes, the speeches about grief, the interactions during the fight, etc. It was all executed to perfection. Jokes about Tobey’s back and Peter 1’s inclusion in the Avengers were crowdpleasers. I couldn’t stop smiling when the three Peters’ were onscreen.

– Garfield’s dive to save MJ as a callback to when Gwen died absolutely wrecked me.

– Speaking of Garfield, he probably channels the essence of Peter Parker the best out of the three actors. Peter is supposed to be this witty and charming persona and Garfield’s the best when it comes to these characteristics. Tobey had the tough job of going first while Holland played teenage Parker admirably, but Garfield is the best actor to play the role. He stole the show out of the three Spideys. I just wish he had better superhero movies to showcase his talents. As it turns out, he may get the chance!

– Tom Holland is a really good Spider-Man. I’m excited to see where he goes from here since he’s now an A-list actor.

– I liked the ending of this film. I’m a fan of conclusions, and this felt like the ending of a successful trilogy. However, it does leave the door open to see how Peter has moved on in a world post-spell. Did he make new friendships? Did he make new enemies? Can he win back MJ and Ned? I’d be interested in a fourth film.

Overall, No Way Home lived up to the hype. It’s a theater experience that I will never forget.

My official rankings:

What are your thoughts on No Way Home? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.