MTV’s The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies Preview

The best athletes in the world typically compete at the Olympics. However, you could make the argument that the top global athletes actually compete on MTV’s The Challenge, which returns tonight for its 37th season, Spies, Lies & Allies.

All kidding aside, I’m so glad to have The Challenge back in my life. After years of dedicating my life to this show, I took a short hiatus after Invasion of the Champions. I still checked in here and there, but my official return was Total Madness, the first season during COVID. Without professional sports, The Challenge provided the perfect mix of athletic achievements, gameshow politics, and drama.

One of the producers watched another James Bond movie for the second straight season and created an entire season around espionage. I don’t hate it. According to the preview, it’s going to be 34 players – 17 veterans and 17 rookies. In a clip from the first episode, the rookies will have to “save” a veteran from snakes, and the pair will become partners. I prefer seasons with partners as opposed to individual matchups so this incarnation will be right up my alley.

Below are the synopsis and trailer from MTV.

The Challenge: Spies, Lies and Allies will feature 34 players spanning the globe — representing the most countries ever on the competition franchise. Assembled in the picturesque Mediterranean coast of Croatia, elite U.S. Agents will join forces with an assortment of International Operatives, all armed with killer competitive instincts. With the assignment constantly evolving, these agents will be tested both mentally and physically to win their share of $1 million in an epic new chapter of The Challenge spy games. Look out, James Bond.”

The success of The Challenge comes down to the cast. If this cast loves to compete, party, and stir up drama, we’re in for a treat. My biggest complaint is the lack of partying and the drama that ensues when contestants get drunk. Because of COVID, the contestants are not going out into the town so that takes away some of the steam from their drunk hijinks.

Spies, Lies & Allies Cast

Some quick hitters in regards to the cast of The Challenge:

  • The champ is here as CT returns for his 19th season. CT is pulling his best Brady imitation in old age with two wins in the past three seasons. His partner from last season, Amber B, is not featured on this list, but she will show up eventually as evidenced in the trailer.
  • I don’t watch Survivor (a fatal flaw) so I can’t give any insight into those players. Frankly, I don’t know the majority of the new international players.
  • I’m glad Nam is back. He survived Lolo’s scoldings and cried after an injury ended his game last season. He’s a real one.
  • I ride with Devin.
  • Josh crying at some point this season, -3500.
  • What is The 12 Dates of Christmas?
  • Did you know Cory… wait for it… has… KIDS?!

One of the best changes the show made was the addition of the skulls. To run “TJ’s Final,” contestants need to win an elimination. The days of coasting to a final without entering the *insert name for the elimination battleground* are over. It appears that the skulls will be returning, and I couldn’t be happier.

Prediction Time: How do you not pick CT to repeat for the guys? However, unless your name is Johnny Bananas, the odds of repeating as a champion are slim. I don’t believe in Fessy until he proves it to me. After what he did to Kaycee last year, how could you root for Fessy? A male rookie to win it all could be the play. Size doesn’t (always) matter, but Kelz Dyke looks like an absolute specimen.

On the female side, the clear favorite is Kaycee. She’s two for two in terms of making the final. I also like Tori to do well. Her mouth can get her into trouble, but she’s a beast on the battlefield.

My Winners: Kelz Dyke and Kaycee Clark

Who do you think will win this season? Leave your predictions in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Outer Banks Season 2 Preview And Predictions: Back In The Gold Game

Outer Banks Netflix

As John B and Sarah Cameron relax on a beach in the teaser trailer, the Pogue leader looks at his girlfriend and says, “Back in the G-game, baby.” I’m ready to go hunting for some gold in Outer Banks Season 2.

I’ve spoken about my obsession with Outer Banks ad nauseam. For a “too long, didn’t read” version, I started watching Outer Banks on a Friday night in April 2020, right in the middle of the lockdown. I started on a Friday night and completed the 10-episode first season by Saturday night. The world wasn’t doing too well in April 2020, so the show provided the perfect escape from reality.

The young adult drama was an instant hit as it quickly climbed to the number 1 spot on Netflix’s Top 10. One year later, the show is back for Season 2, which premieres on July 30.

In Season 1, John B and his fellow Pogues, JJ, Kiara, and Pope, join forces with Sarah Cameron to investigate the disappearance of John B’s father. During their investigation, they learn about the treasure of the Royal Merchant, which is rumored to be worth $400 million in gold, and how it tied to John B’s missing father. The Pogues eventually find the gold, but it’s later stolen by Ward Cameron.

In the season finale, John B and Sarah attempt to flee from the authorities during a storm via boat after John B was wrongly accused of killing Sheriff Peterkin. The boat capsizes in the storm, and the two young lovers are believed to be dead. However, John B and Sarah survive and are saved by a cargo ship. The ship is headed towards the Bahamas, where Ward Cameron stashed the stolen gold.

From the trailer above, Season 2 ups the ante with more drama, romance, and explosions. John B and Sarah make it to the Bahamas, but they’re considered fugitives with a $50,000 reward to anyone who turns them in. While the duo tries to find the gold in the Bahamas, JJ, Pope, and Kiara are trying to move on with their lives in the OBX. However, they soon learn that their best friends survived the storm. A Pogue reunion was rumored to happen at some point, but it’s now been confirmed.

Now, the Pogues will look to take back the gold that they found. However, Ward is not the only one trying to claim the gold. A new villain named Limbrey (Elizabeth Mitchell) is interested in the treasure, and it seems that she has a bone to pick with Ward, who may have doublecrossed her in the process.

In true Outer Banks fashion, things will get complicated, people will get hurt, and someone will die. I wouldn’t want it any other way! Below are a few of my predictions for Season 2.

Predictions

  • There’s either a second treasure or more gold from the Royal Merchant. Right now, Ward has under half a billion worth in gold. In the trailer, the Pogues are exploring the island and find a key that leads to another room. Perhaps this room holds another treasure or even more gold.
  • Topper joins the Pogues. One of the Kooks has to help the Pogues at some point. It’s not going to be Rafe so Topper is the likely choice because of his previous relationship with Sarah.
  • John B’s mother arrives at the end of Season 2. With the show’s popularity, Season 3 is inevitable so setting up storylines at the end of Season 2 makes sense logistically. We know about John B’s father, but his mother is still a mystery. Nothing would shake things up more than her arrival.

Grab your favorite bandana, tie it around your neck, and play some “Left Hand Free.” See you later, Pogues.

What are your predictions for Outer Banks Season 2? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter, @unafraidshow.

Ted Lasso Continues To Be The Hero We Need

Ted Lasso / Apple TV+

In the fifth episode of Ted Lasso, Ted and his wife, Michelle, are trying to save their marriage, but they both realize it’s not going to work. Ted tearfully tells Michelle that she doesn’t have to try anymore even though he promised to never quit anything in his life. Moved by Ted’s words, Michelle says, “But you’re not quitting, Ted. You’re just letting me go.”

I’m watching a show where Jason Sudeikis looks like an extra for Bill Swerski’s Super Fans, and yet I’m emotional and heartbroken over Ted’s failing marriage. What is going on?

To say Ted Lasso caught the world by surprise would be an understatement. When Sudeikis originally did the character in 2013, it was an entertaining skit; nothing more, nothing less. Never in a million years did I believe it could succeed as a television show.

A record 20 Emmy nominations later, and the egg is on my face. I could not have been more wrong about Ted Lasso. It’s a comedy at heart, but it provides so much compassion that my cynicism takes a backseat for 30-minutes at a time.

2020 was a rough year for America. The pandemic kicked our asses, plain and simple. Yet a coach in a mustache and sweater injected more hope into the world than any news program on television. Ted Lasso is a load of fun. However, the fact that it was one of the only positive programs in 2020 aided in its meteoric rise.

When we first meet the new coach, every member of Richmond thinks Ted’s schtick will never work. The team’s fans scream and yell “wanker” at Ted whenever they see him. The team’s captain, Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein, one of the show’s creators), tells Ted to “fuck off” more times than not.

And yet, Ted’s positivity attaches to the team (and the audience at home) like a parasite. Bad attitudes turn into positive thoughts. Ted’s charm wins you over as the series progresses. Even the team’s owner, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), who hired Ted so the team could fail, appreciates Ted’s humility and emphasizes with him by the Season 1 finale.

Television has been dominated by antiheroes in the 21st century. Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper, and 85% of the characters in The Wire have no idea what it means to be a morally good person. Ted Lasso and his heart fill a much-needed void in television. If done correctly, something as simple as being a good guy can shine, and no one shines brighter than Ted.

In her column for Variety, Caroline Framke said, “Above all odds, Ted Lasso chipped away at my skepticism until there was none left — just like the character himself does to everyone he meets.”

As Ted Lasso begins Season 2, my skepticism has disappeared. It’s time to root for our hero, the good guy.

Do you like Ted Lasso? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Loki: Give Michael Waldron The Keys To The MCU

Loki / Disney+

After the exciting finale to a superb season of Loki, the first thought in my head did not revolve around Season 2, which was confirmed in a post-credits scene. (Light spoilers from here on out.) All I could think about was Michael Waldron and how he needs to be the driving force behind the MCU for the next decade.

Waldron is the creator and showrunner of Loki, the best Marvel television show up to this point. In the series, an alternate version of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is brought before the Time Variance Authority (TVA), an organization that monitors the universe’s timeline, making sure there are no anomalies or disruptors. When Loki picked up the Tesseract in Endgame, he became a “variant,” or someone that disrupts the timeline. Loki is given the decision to work for the TVA to erase other variants and fix the timeline or be pruned (banished) from existence.

If you’re not a Marvel fan, that might sound confusing. I’ve seen 95% of the films and television shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the TVA still left me with more questions than answers.

Out of the three Marvel shows on Disney+, Loki had the hardest task because of all the legwork needed to explain the concept of time and how a character that died in Infinity War ended up surviving. Loki needed to expound on the TVA, explain the logistics of time travel and timelines, and introduce the idea of a multiverse all within six episodes.

If this was a test, Loki passed with flying colors. The series perfectly balanced the creation of a self-contained television show that can stand on its own with furthering the overall plot in the MCU. Most of the Marvel films and shows serve as stepping stones for a bigger storyline like the Infinity Saga. Properties like Loki and Black Panther can almost stand on their own, which is a compliment to the world their creators built.

It sounds so simple, but Waldron perfectly understands that Loki is a television show, not an “X-hour movie.” Movies were not meant to be six hours. Television shows that treat their story as a movie usually have inferior episodes that are heavy on explanations and rely on explosive cliffhangers to move the plot. Waldron and Loki follow the rules of television with a beginning, middle, and end with a scene in the final moments to advance the plot and provide the next episode a starting point to work off of. In an age that’s bogged down with shows acting like 10-hour movies, it’s refreshing to see Waldron follow a TV formula that’s worked since the beginning of television.

In six episodes, Waldron and director Kate Herron created multiple shows in one. The first two episodes played like a buddy-cop dramedy thanks to the amazing chemistry between Hiddleston and Owen Wilson’s Mobius. Then, the next two episodes weaved in a romantic dramedy with Sophia Di Martino’s Sylvie. Episode 5 felt like a backdoor pilot thanks to the multiple iterations of the titular character in the Void. Finally, Episode 6 introduced a new villain into the MCU but also treated the finale like a show that was coming back for a second season. Ending on a cliffhanger and leaving the audience with more questions than answers is an efficient way to transition into Season 2.

Kevin Feige’s strength is long-term planning. Feige always sees the endgame (couldn’t help myself), and understands how to move from point A to point B over a long period of time. Feige needs help with putting the pieces of the puzzle together with character development, and that’s where Waldron succeeds. Who would’ve thought that one of the most emotional moments in Loki would be a hug between Hiddleston and Wilson in episode 5? Because of the groundwork and attention to detail from Waldron in establishing this relationship in the early episodes, a hug celebrating the friendship between two characters was a tremendous payout that the audience earned.

This ability to develop interesting and noteworthy characters is why Waldron is set to become one of the most important voices of Dinsey going forward. His innate talent is why Feige chose Waldron to write Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and his top-secret Star Wars film. In a Vanity Fair piece, Waldron described the Doctor Strange sequel as his version of “Indiana Jones.” Sign me up right now.

Waldron has a clear vision of how to develop characters in the MCU. Because of Loki‘s success, it’s time to give him the keys to the future of the MCU. Instead of Steve Rogers, Waldron should now be the one to say, “Avengers, assemble.”

Did you enjoy Loki? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

How Dave Became One Of The Best Comedies On Television

Dave FXX

Finding the right balance between jokes and seriousness is the key to a good comedy. Much to my surprise, Dave conquered this balancing act in 2020.

On one hand, Dave, which returns for a second season tonight on FXX, is a comedy series full of immaturity, juvenile hijinks, and penis jokes. What else would you expect from the series creator and star of the show, Dave Burd aka Lil Dicky? Burd stars as a fictionalized version of himself as he attempts to become a successful rapper. His name has the word “dick” in it so yes, Burd talks about his penis… a lot.

The bathroom humor doesn’t stop there. In the ninth episode, “Ally’s Toast,” Lil Dicky battles an urge to poop while hiking with his girlfriend, Ally. Burd is left with no choice but to unleash hell in the pond. I’m not above toilet humor, and this was a hilarious scene.

However, Dave can be a thoughtful show full of emotional nuance and maturity. “Hype Man,” the show’s fifth episode, revolves around Lil Dicky’s hype man, GaTa, and his struggles with bipolar disorder. The respect and sensitivity in “Hype Man” for its portrayal of mental illness is something you wouldn’t expect from a show that showed us a milking table. (There are no cows involved with this table.)

The ability to balance wild humor with sensitive issues is why Dave became one of the best shows of 2020. The series continued to improve after “Hype Man,” and ended the season on a high note with the show’s last two episodes, “Ally’s Toast,” and, “Jail.”

Lil Dicky is in on the joke and the criticism of his persona, which is one of the main reasons why the show works so well. Burd acknowledges that he’s privileged. He’s self-aware but presents and expresses his healthy arrogance in an entertaining way.

Dave doesn’t put Lil Dicky on this pedestal where the audience worships his talent (and he is very talented). In the show, Lil Dicky’s too smart for his own good, which is why he seemingly runs into trouble at every turn. His neurosis and arrogance help elevate the likability of supporting characters GaTa, his manager Mike, ex-girlfriend Ally, his DJ Elz, and friend Emma. These characters bring Lil Dicky back to reality, and these interactions provide some of the show’s best moments.

Season 2 will pick up a few months after the Season 1 finale, where Lil Dicky finally gained notoriety as a rapper and secured a record deal. On the surface, Lil Dicky’s life has improved as evidenced by a beautiful house in the hills and celebrity interactions with Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, Benny Blanco, Doja Cat, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, he’s struggling to make an album while trying to get over his breakup with Ally.

Dave might make dick jokes, but it’s capable of so much more if you give it the chance.

Do you watch Dave? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Outer Banks Season 2 Teaser Promises Action And Gold

Outer Banks Season 2 / Netflix

To my Pogue family, our long, national nightmare is over. Outer Banks Season 2 hits Netflix on July 30.

It was only a matter of time before Netflix dropped the date for the new season. Production on Season 2 wrapped in April, and exclusive photos released in mid-May. You had fans like myself writing prediction articles as to when Season 2 might air. My best guess was August 6, which means I was exactly one week off. Unfortunately, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Although my incorrect predictions are important, it’s nothing in comparison to the footage that Netflix released from the upcoming season. According to my spirit animal, John B, they are “back in the G-game baby.”

I couldn’t be more amped for the show’s return. Last April, the world was not in a good place. New York City, in particular, was a ghost town. You could walk through Times Square without Elmo, Iron Man, or Cookie Monster asking for a picture and a cash tip. Believe me, that’s very rare for the City.

Anyways, I stumbled upon Outer Banks thanks to the Netflix Top 10 list. 24 hours later, I finished all 10 episodes and bought a pack of bandanas. You could say I was obsessed. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a teen drama.

As we get closer to the show, I’ll provide a breakdown of the official trailer with Season 2 predictions. For now, here are my takeaways from the 39-second clip.

– The Pogues still believe John B and Sarah are dead. It’s a matter of time before the Pogues find out that John B and Sarah are alive in the Bahamas. Also, JJ might be the van Gough of tree memorials.

Netflix

– John B and Sarah have settled down in the Bahamas as evidenced by their “Middle-Aged Man at a resort” clothing. They’re on the hunt for the gold that Ward Cameron stole from the Pogues before shipping it to the Bahamas. Later in the teaser, the Pogue couple speeds down a road in the Bahamas as they’re most likely on the run from one of Ward’s associates.

Netflix

– Is this John B and Sarah leaving the cargo ship for the island? Perhaps. It also could be JJ, Pope, and Kie since there is a third person in the motorboat.

Netflix

– The romance between Kie and Pope is alive! Kie is also seen running away from an enemy. Life in the OBX will be just as crazy as it is in the Bahamas.

Netflix

– Some beers for the boys?

Netflix

– Rafe is a train wreck, and I can’t look away. Every person knows a Rafe in their life. He’s a spoiled, pretentious, drug-fueled guy that will be sweating profusely at the bar as he orders shots for everyone in sight. The show needs more Rafe.

Fast forward to July 30 when I don’t leave my apartment until finishing Season 2. See you soon, Pogues.

Are you excited for Outer Banks Season 2? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

Mare Of Easttown Finale Predictions: Who Killed Erin McMenamin?

Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown / HBO

Who killed Erin McMenamin? That’s the million-dollar question heading into Sunday’s series finale of HBO’s Mare of Easttown. For those who have not watched, Mare of Easttown stars Kate Winslet as Mare, a local detective tasked with solving the murder of a teenage mother in a Pennsylvania suburb outside Philadelphia.

Before we go further, this is your spoiler warning. I will be discussing spoilers so if you haven’t caught up yet or plan on watching the show at some point, stop reading. Mare of Easttown is a small-town murder mystery with an excellent leading performance from Winslet. I was hooked from the first episode. Ok, let’s move on.

*******Spoilers from here on out*********

In the penultimate episode, Billy Ross confessed to the murder of his cousin, Erin. Billy’s brother John, the adulterer (cheap shot by me?), decided to take Billy up to their father’s cabin for one last fishing trip instead of turning himself in. Is Billy aka Fredo going out in the boat?

Mare tracked down the origins of Erin’s necklace and confirmed that a Ross family member bought it. Mare raced up to the cabin to confront Billy, who she believes killed Erin. Mare has good reason to believe Billy killed Erin. Plus, Billy concealed the weapon in the tackle box of his fishing gear that potentially murdered Erin. There’s also the possibility that Billy fathered Erin’s child.

While Mare raced up to the cabin, Jess visited the precinct and turned in the photo she pulled out of Erin’s diary. Chief Carter looked distressed after viewing the photo and urged his colleague to call Mare.

HBO

So who killed Erin? Here are the suspects.

Billy

HBO

He did confess to the murder, right? Billy clearly loved and cared for Erin. There may have been some inappropriate and extracurricular activities that took place between cousins. For a show that’s had twists at the end of every episode, Billy as the murderer seems way too obvious. Do I believe he loved Erin? Yes. Is he hiding something? Yes. But did he kill Erin? No.

Lori

Mare’s best friend being the killer is a twist that would elicit a huge reaction on Twitter. On the night of Erin’s murder, Lori was at the bar with Mare celebrating the anniversary of Mare’s big shot, but her whereabouts are unknown later that night. Di Lori kill Erin? Perhaps John cheated on Lori with Erin, which led Lori to take matters into her own hands and kill Erin to save her marriage. I don’t feel Lori is the killer, but she’s hiding a major secret from Mare.

There’s a Reddit post that selected Lori as the murderer because of her Dave Matthews Band t-shirt. I want Lori to be the one who did it now.

Dylan

HBO

The word I associate to describe Dylan is scummy. This dude reeks of cigarettes, alcohol, and bad decisions. I’d like to believe he was once a good kid, but good kids don’t threaten teenage girls with a gun to their head. Like most characters in Mare of Easttown, Dylan is hiding a major secret. I don’t believe Dylan killed Erin, but I’m inclined to think he knew the real identity of DJ’s father. Perhaps the Ross family paid Dylan off to keep quiet when he found out the baby was a product of incest. All I know is Dylan probably smells like shit and needs to shower more than twice a week.

Richard

HBO

Why is Guy Pearce in this show if he’s not the killer? Many believe Richard was involved with Erin’s murder because of Pearce’s involvement. Pearce is almost too big of a star to be an emotional support character with not much to do in the show. Why are we all cynics? Can’t Richard just like Mare and not have ulterior motives? If you told me Richard killed in his past life to become a better writer like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, you could be onto something. Richard didn’t kill Erin because he slept with Mare that night. Pearce very well might be a huge red herring.

John

Now we’re cooking with gas. John is my leader in the clubhouse for the one who killed Erin. For starters, he cheated on Lori so he’s willing to commit immoral acts. John was at the family reunion that Erin attended and could have purchased the necklace for his younger cousin. Why would John let Billy confess to a murder and respond with a fishing trip to the cabin? John tells more lies than a game of telephone. The way Chief looked at the photo was so shocking that it represents a “Mare has the wrong guy” moment. It has to be John… right?

Frank

HBO

Frank might have seemed like he was the “normal” one in his relationship with Mare, but he’s just as problematic and twisted as his ex-wife. Who buys a house DIRECTLY BEHIND his ex-wife’s property? Frank once helped Erin out by donating baby supplies for DJ. Maybe he spent a little too much time with Erin if you know what I mean. If we couldn’t trust Roy from The Office, why should we trust Frank?

Deacon Mark

HBO

Deacon Mark is a weird cat. He received complaints from his old parish about his involvement with kids before he was transferred to his current role. Deacon Mark saw Erin the night of her death. Those are his words, not mine. He also chucked Erin’s bike into the river. Just like Dylan, Deacon Mark is too obvious of a choice, but that doesn’t change his creepiness.

Siobhan

Siobhan did not kill Erin strictly because of her musical taste. I refuse to believe a fan of Boygenius and Phoebe Bridgers would kill another human.

So Who Killed Erin?

Someone had to kill Erin in Mare of Easttown. Here’s my theory:

Both John and Billy loved Erin more than a cousin. John began his affair with Erin at the family reunion. Erin then confided in Billy about her relationship with John, which upset Billy. Erin knew it would never work with John because of his marriage to Lori. Then, Lori later found out about this incestual affair but remained quiet because of the shame it would bring upon her family.

John continued his affair with Erin until she was pregnant with his child. John could not support the baby because it was a product of incest and if this secret ever went public, it would ruin his life. This is where Dylan comes in. A pregnant Erin had sex with Dylan to make it appear that Dylan was the father.

Fast forward to the events leading up to her death. After Dylan refused to pay for DJ’s ear surgery, Erin went to John to ask for money. John refused, which led to Erin’s stint as an online prostitute. After being humiliated in the woods, Erin panics and calls Deacon Mark, Billy, and John. After speaking with Deacon Mark, Erin meets up with John in the park and they have sex. Midway through, they stop and Erin begs John to pay for DJ’s surgery. John once again refuses. Erin threatens to go public with their incestuous secret. The two have an altercation which ends with John killing Erin.

Where do Dylan and Jess come in? This is the only part of my theory that lacks conviction. My gut tells me Dylan and Jess had a secret relationship. Erin eventually found out the night of the woods party. Why would they burn Erin’s journals? Once again, I’m not entirely sure, but maybe Dylan and Jess believed Erin knew about their affair for a while so they burn her journals just in case Erin wrote about it.

After John flees, Billy arrives at the scene and witnesses Erin’s dead body on the ground. Billy breaks down and hugs her, which explains the blood on his clothing later that night. Billy then panics, knowing he will be blamed for Erin’s death if someone spots him. So Billy drives Erin to the creek and leaves her there, hoping someone else will be blamed for Erin’s death.

Billy seems like a person who can be easily manipulated. After John hears about Billy and the bloody clothing, John decides to coerce Billy into confessing to the murder of Erin. Since Billy can’t take the guilt anymore, he confesses to the murder right in front of John. Mission accomplished.

However, John thinks Billy will tell the truth about his brother’s relationship with Erin and admit to not killing her when it comes time to discuss the matters with Mare and the police. John can’t take that risk so he takes Billy up to the cabin to kill him.

End Scene.

Hopefully, we all receive the answers we need on Sunday night.

What are your predictions for the Mare of Easttown finale? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 5 Finale Recap: The Wedding

Chrissy Metz and Chris Sullivan in NBC's This Is Us

Well, that’s one way to end the season. When we think it’s going right, This Is Us goes left. The Season 5 finale included a wedding, but it wasn’t the one I or the rest of America saw coming.

This Is Us Season 5 Episode 16 Recap: “The Adirondacks”

The Wedding

It’s a nice day to (contemplate your relationship and potentially) start again! While Kevin works on his speech (wink), Madison revisits some of the worst moments of her life. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Madison’s mother walked out on her, but left a pair of earrings to wear on Madison’s wedding day. As a teenager, Madison’s father gave her money for a prom dress and said it’s ok to settle in her relationships. As an adult, Madison’s boyfriend broke up with her. To say these are the three worst moments a bride could think about on her wedding day would be an understatement!

Things start to go wrong at the venue, and Kevin experiences a minor panic attack. By trying to make everything perfect, he loses sight of what this day is truly about. Maybe it’s just cold feet, but it might be more than that.

Guess what? It was more than that. Madison walks into Kevin’s dressing room and asks him the million-dollar question. Madison asks, “Are you in love with me?” Kevin says he loves his kids and the life they’re building together, but he never tells Madison he loves her. Ouch! Kevin begs Madison to make it work, but Madison refuses, saying she can’t marry Kevin if he doesn’t love her. The wedding is off.

After the wedding’s called off, Kevin, Kate, Randall, and Rebecca sit in the Adirondack chairs that Uncle Nicky purchased as a wedding gift. They reminisce about Jack and how he’d know exactly what to do in this situation*. Due to her fading health, Rebecca asks Kevin to build the house that Jack was going to build her up at the cabin. Kevin agrees, and the Big Four embrace. Maybe I’m a cynic, but a wedding was just called off, and everyone is happy again?

*There was a flashback where Rebecca and Jack argued in front of the Big Three and it frightened the young children. Long story short, they professed their love for each other in a mock wedding in front of the kids. I’m not trying to minimize this scene, but it was not the most important thing from last night. It was touching though. I’m not a monster. I do have a soul.

Let’s Make It Work

Well this tweet aged poorly.^

Kate and Toby’s relationship was on a collision course towards a major argument due to Toby’s impending employment in San Francisco. Before the wedding, Toby shares what he thinks is good news, which is a new job. However, the job is in San Francisco and he will eventually need to be there three days a week. Kate is stunned, and questions if Toby understands the gravity of the situation. Toby stupidly commits the mortal sin of saying he loves his children and follows it up with a “but.” He desperately wants to go back to work. (Side note: How long has he been out of work? A few months? You would think it’s been five years with the way he complains! Double side note: Being unemployed sucks.)

At the venue, Kate recalls her wedding vows and remembers what true love is all about, putting your partner before yourself. Because of this, Kate calls her coworker, Phillip, and announces her resignation as a teacher’s aide. Surprisingly, Phillip puts his foot down, compliments Kate’s teaching ability, and refuses her resignation.

Later on, Kate and Toby talk it out and decide that Toby should take the job while Kate will keep her job. They’re going to try long-distance like high school sweethearts who separate for college. I don’t have the numbers on me, but I bet two-thirds of long-distance college relationships fail.

Randall And Rebecca

A mother and her favorite son finally made some ground in their fractured relationship. Since his return from New Orleans, Randall hasn’t talked to Rebecca about his trip and birth mother.

When they first sit down, Randall shows a picture of Laurel, and Rebecca immediately cries. Both of them can’t handle the grief so Randall immediately changes the subject.

Later on, Rebecca confronts Randall and explains why she cried earlier. Rebecca tearfully apologizes to Randall for withholding information about William. She realizes what she did and messed with Randall’s emotions throughout his life. Rebecca will always feel guilty for what she did. But, a tearful Randall accepts her apology and they sit down to chat about Laurel. This was one of the few happy endings tonight on This Is Us.

The Flashforward

Finally, let’s talk about the flash-forward aka the only thing people will want to talk about. My mind went in all different directions while watching so it’s hard to form complete thoughts. I’m just going to rattle off everything I saw. Ready, break.

  • 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 fourish 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.

End Scene.

Now that is how you finish a season. I encourage you to read Dan Fogelman’s interview on how the time jump frames the sixth and final season. It appears there are two major events in the future: Kate’s wedding and the family gathering at the house Kevin built. What is the time gap between these? If I had to guess, it’s either five or ten years. Five would make the Big Three 50-years-old at the new house so let’s go with that.

Unfortunately, we have to wait until 2022 for the final season. Until then, maybe I have to give up on my “Kate is dead” theory? See you next year.

Did you enjoy the This Is Us Season 5 finale? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 5 Episode 15 Recap: Worst Bachelor Party Ever

Sterling K. Brown and Justin Hartley in This Is Us _ NBC

As a man in his late 20s, I’ve just started to dip my toe into the world of bachelor parties. I’ve had a lot of fun so far due to the fact that most of the attendees are around my age. On This Is Us, perhaps I got a glimpse into the future as to what a bachelor party would like if all of the attendees were 40 and older. Let me tell you, it did not look fun!

This Is Us Season 5 Episode 15 Recap: “Jerry 2.0”

Bachelorette Party

Before we talk about the men in the mountains, let’s discuss the girls and their paintings. Madison’s bachelorette party included the bride-to-be, Kate, Beth, and Rebecca. Things kicked off on an awkward note when Kate hires a nude model who previously dated Madison. Hot start!

After painting the model’s six-pack, the women gathered in the living room for a virtual edition of The Newlywed Game. After Kevin nails the question about Madison’s perfect day, he briefly hesitates when asked about his future as an empty nester with Madison. This triggers Kate to later question Madison if she’s truly happy with Kevin. Even though the pregnancy and relationship were both unplanned, Madison reassures Kate that she’s happy with Kevin because he’s stepped up as a partner and a father. However, Kate still has her reservations.

Later that night, Madison revisits the empty nest question and notices Kevin’s pause, which leads to a distressed look on Madison’s face. Is there a future with Kevin? Should this wedding be called off?

The Bachelor Party

At least the guys got to travel outside of the house for Kevin’s bachelor party. Kevin, Randall, Toby, Miguel, and Uncle Nicky met up at the cabin for Kevin’s bachelor party for some fishing and puzzles. Before heading to the cabin, Kevin receives a call from Sophie, who congratulates him on fatherhood and his engagement. It’s a little awkward at first, but the former lovers still have a soft spot for each other. Kevin said he would call Sophie back and catch up.

At the cabin, the guys do what most guys do at bachelor parties, which is throw on Jerry Maguire and fall in love with Tom Cruise. (I love Jerry Maguire. It’s on my Tom Cruise Mt. Rushmore.) Is Kevin a modern-day Jerry Maguire? Nicky believes so and calls out Kevin for the similarities he shares with the lead character. Kevin, just like Jerry, falls in love with the kid first and ends up marrying a woman just because it’s the right thing to do. Kevin takes offense to Nicky’s comment, but there’s definitely some truth behind Nicky’s harsh comment.

Jerry Maguire returns Kevin back to the late 90s when he went to the cabin with his family and wife, Sophie. When Kevin explains his reasoning for returning to LA in the future, this bothers Sophie, who does not want a long-distance relationship. Just like Jerry Maguire, Kevin writes his mission statement to Sophie, explaining how they will become an annoying old couple who loves each other so much. This is a lot different than his answer about his future with Madison. Late that night, Kevin asks Randall about how someone knows that their significant other is “the one.” In other words, Kevin wants to re-marry Sophie and needs someone to tell him it’s ok to call it off with Madison.

To the campfire, we go! There were more confessions at this campfire than an Usher album. Everyone went around the fire and confessed their truth. Nicky apologized for his earlier comment, saying he can’t relate to the movie because of his nonexistent love life. There’s only been one girl, Sally Brooks, and Nicky messed that up. Toby expressed his frustration over the ending of Jerry Maguire, but this was just a way to express his irritation over his unemployment. Toby might have a job offer in San Francisco, but he knows moving is a nonstarter with Kate.

However, Miguel came to the rescue with a speech about true love and how it’s not always “written in the stars.” Just like his relationship with Rebecca, it’s not a “love at first sight” situation, but it’s still perfect in its own way. Just like JP, I’m really gonna miss Miguel.

I'm gonna miss him. I really liked Miguel!

In the end, all of the campfire confessions led to some startling revelations. Nicky googled Sally in hopes of finding her someday. Toby called a job recruiter in San Francisco and expressed his interest in the job. Miguel called Rebecca and shared their love for each other. Then, they tragically discussed how they’re in limbo when it comes to Rebecca’s deteriorating memory. Kevin did not return Sophie’s call and deleted her number instead. Does this seem like a guy who’s ready to marry another woman?

Quick Hits

  • I need more Beth and Rebecca interactions. Both of these women are the two most genuine characters on the show. In a way, Rebecca is the supportive mother that Beth always wanted. Rebecca encourages Beth to take a job at a traditional dance studio so she can positively change the old, stale habits of current studios.
  • Please stop teasing Sophie if she’s not going to be prominently featured in future scenes on the show. I can’t take it anymore!

Next week marks the season finale of This Is Us. The episode is centered around Madison and Kevin’s wedding. Do they go through with it? I say no, but they will eventually get married at a later date in Season 6. It will mirror the storyline on Full House where Jesse and Rebecca call off their first wedding in Vegas but marry in a later season. See you next week.

Did you enjoy last night’s This Is Us? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @danny_giro.

This Is Us Season 5 Episode 14 Recap: Dance With Me

Justin Hartley in The Music and the Mirror / This Is Us, NBC

Season 5 is winding down on This Is Us. After last night’s chapter, there are only two episodes left in this unprecedented season. Did last night’s episode feel out of place? The stakes were fairly low for the third to last episode of the season. I’m not saying it was a bad episode, but it felt like something that would air in the middle of a season, not towards the end.

This Is Us Season 5 Episode 14 Recap: “The Music and the Mirror”

Lose Yourself To Dance

Like many small business owners during the pandemic, it’s been a struggle to keep the doors open. Beth’s business fell victim to the pandemic as well, closing her dance studio indefinitely. We’ve seen so many businesses close over the past year so this storyline was all too real.

With the studio closed, Beth decides to rejoin corporate America. Randall notices something off with Beth because a person in the right mental state does not inhale Lucky Charms without any milk. When it comes time for Beth’s virtual meeting, the woman set to interview Beth is forced to reschedule. Oddly, Beth takes this as a sign to not join Corporate America. Instead, she heads to the studio for one final clean-up.

In the past, Beth gave up dancing as a teen, in part because of self-doubt. When Randall surprises Beth with a trip to the ballet on their six-month anniversary, she immediately asks to go home. Beth then explains to Randall how she’s been told her dance talent is not good enough to “make it.” In true Randall fashion, he asks Beth to slow dance. The song? An all-time BANGER.

In the present, Randall went to the studio and asked Beth to slow dance. We’ve seen in a flash-forward that Beth will teach again at her own studio so be patient, fans. Beth will bounce back eventually.

Kate And Toby Are Headed For Trouble

Kate and Toby represent Newton’s Third Law, which states that there is an equal and opposite reaction for every action. Science was my worst school subject, but my teachers would be proud of me for dropping some #knowledge right now.

Kate is thriving as a music teacher while Toby can’t stand unemployment. I don’t blame Toby for feeling this way, but he can’t take it out on Kate. At the Damon household, a leaky pipe caused a schism between Toby and Kate. Toby is determined to fix it without professional health while Kate insists on calling a plumber who might be out of their price range. Kate leaves for the day while Toby attempts to fix the pipe.

Kate accompanies Madison to assist in wedding dress shopping. They are joined by Rebecca. When an upset Madison reveals her father won’t be at her wedding, Rebecca shares heartfelt words of wisdom to cheer her up. Then, Kate and Rebecca reflect on their rocky relationship from the past. Kate admits she was hard on her mother, and apologizes for her actions.

At the school, Kate leads her class in singing “Big Yellow Taxi” by one of Rebecca’s favorite artists, Joni Mitchell. It’s a breakthrough moment for this mother-daughter relationship as Kate finally found her true calling as a music teacher.

Back at home, Toby calls in reinforcements in the form of his father, who I will refer to by his real name, Dan Lauria aka Mr. Arnold from The Wonder Years. After Toby’s father helps repair the pipe, he tells Toby about the time he was unemployed during Toby’s childhood. He then expressed his admiration for the Pearsons and how they are so in touch with their emotions and that Toby should share his feelings with Kate.

Unfortunately, Toby did not listen to his father’s advice and remained quiet about his feelings with Kate. Trouble in paradise on This Is Us?

Cold Feet

It was only a matter of time before Kevin’s on-set actions caught up with him. There are only so many movie sets and plays you can walk out on before the industry bites back. Kevin went to a screening of his new movie, and as he said it, “It’s a piece of a crap.”

Kevin panics and heads right to his agency to figure out his next project. Unfortunately, Kevin has developed a negative reputation because of his abrupt exits from projects, so directors aren’t lining up to work with him anymore.

As Kevin leaves the office, he spots Zoe on a virtual conference call and sits down to catch up with his former girlfriend. It’s all friendly until Zoe makes a comment about Kevin’s willingness to give into suggestion. He always rolls with the punches and turns every situation in his favor, which clearly rubs Kevin the wrong way.

Later that night, Kevin suggests watching Bridgerton but gives into Madison’s request for watching The Great British Baking Show, proving Zoe’s point. Kevin, this isn’t a bad flaw! Don’t overthink it. However, Kevin tends to overanalyze everything so it will lead to a future problem.

Next week, Kevin calls Sophie at his bachelor party. Oh boy.

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