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.

Favorite TV And Movie Performances Of 2021

We did it, everyone. We made it to the end of 2021. Movie theaters aren’t dead, television continues to thrive, and the Knicks made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. It wasn’t such a bad year, all things considered.

Optimism, baby!

For movies and television, 2021 was far superior to 2020. A lot of the 2020 movie releases that were pushed to 2021 because of the pandemic finally hit theaters (yes, theaters). Prestige television is still rocking thanks to hits like Succession and Mare of Easttown.

Below is a list of my favorite performances of 2021. It’s a mix of Oscar buzz with underrated performances. Enjoy!

Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

As one of the most prolific filmmakers of his generation, Paul Thomas Anderson can work with anyone he wants. In 2021, PTA chose two first-time actors, Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, to headline his movie, Licorice Pizza. Haim, known for her work in the band, HAIM, and Hoffman, the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, were stunning revelations. Whenever the two interacted, I couldn’t look away. Their chemistry was magnetic, and these were two movie-star performances.

Kieran Culkin, Succession

Jeremy Strong gives the best performance on Succession. However, the MVP of Season 3 was Kieran Culkin. I’m sure most of his one-liners are in the script, but Culkin’s comedic delivery and improvisation are superb. Throughout the season, Roman went from an immature suckup to one of Logan’s most trustworthy allies. It’s why Roman’s revelation that Logan will do anything to win even if it means fucking over his children was so heartbreaking to watch. Also, his face after sending the dick pic to Logan is a first-ballot meme hall of fame.

Frank Grillo, Boss Level

I want to give a shoutout to my favorite “B” action movie of the year, Boss Level. The film is a fun, thrilling addition to the time-loop genre. I found it on Hulu on a random Sunday night in the Spring and loved it. I didn’t know Frank Grillo could be this witty and charming. I hope to see him in more of these half-asshole/half-good guy roles aka the Ryan Reynolds.

Rachel Zegler, Mike Faist, And Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

West Side Story / 20th Century Studios

We, as a society, look silly for every doubting Steven Spielberg. The legendary director loves musicals, and yet most people had doubts about his reimagined West Side Story. The egg is on our face because Spielberg crafted one of the five best movies of 2021. For a story set in the 1950s, Spielberg made it feel modern and injected a new energy and fresh reinterpretation of a classic. The three standout performances come from Rachel Zegler as Maria, Mike Faist as Riff, and Ariana DeBose as Anita. These three actors jump off the screen thanks to their charisma and confidence. I can’t wait to watch this again.

CT, The Challenge

CT is pulling a Tom Brady, winning challenges in the latter part of his career. Bananas is still the GOAT with 7 season wins, but things are starting to get very interesting has won 3 of the last 5 challenges, bringing his total to 5 season wins. Does Bananas come out of retirement to put an end to CT’s dominance? MTV, pay CT and Bananas whatever they want because the fans need to see this epic showdown.

Jason Momoa, Dune

Jason Momoa in Dune / Warner Bros.

To quote the kids, Jason Momoa “knew the assignment.” Momoa is having so much fun in Dune. While most of the characters are doom and gloom, Momoa’s Duncan Idaho will put a smile on your face.

Rapid Fire

  • Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in Loki
  • Florence Pugh in Black Widow and Hawkeye
  • Ana de Armas in No Time to Die
  • Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera in In The Heights
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog
  • Leonardo DiCaprio in Don’t Look Up
  • Evan Peters in Mare of Easttown
  • William Zabka in Cobra Kai
  • Tom Thibodeau on the sidelines at Knicks games

What were your favorite performances this year? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet me, @Danny_giro.

Succession Finale: Thoughts From Someone Who Watched S3 In Two Days

Succession / HBO

Hand up, I was late to Succession.

Super late, actually.

I watched the first four episodes of Season 1 almost two years ago and walked away thinking it was just OK. The story of the show intrigued me, but I didn’t get a “must-watch” feeling like I immediately felt with Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones.

This past Fall, I decided to give the show another chance. I found that it drastically improved in the back half of Season 1, finding its stride in the final two episodes of the season. I completed Season 2 one week ago, and it blew me out of the water. A tremendous season headlined by an all-time performance from Jeremy Strong as Kendall. He brought so much nuance to a smug character that should be so unlikeable, but Strong had me rooting for Ken by the end of the season.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon when I finished the first episode of Season 3. I had an important life-or-death decision to make. Do I complete seven more episodes to watch the finale on time or go at my own pace and risk spoilers?

A weaker man might have gone at their own pace, but I’m a (mentally) tough specimen. I binged the rest of the season over the next two days and made it in time for the finale.

Who better to give immediate thoughts about the finale than someone with every detail of Season 3 still fresh in his mind?

SPOILER ALERT. STOP READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FINALE.

– It was only a matter of time before the Roy siblings teamed up to face their father. Up until now, Kendall was the only child who went against his father and failed. Shiv made small moves against Logan when he refused to publicly name her CEO (suggesting Logan steps down in “Argestes”) while Roman never went against his father. But once Roman and Shiv showed compassion towards Kendall, the wheels for a team-up were in motion.

– Speaking of Kendall, that entire scene on the dirt road where Kendall confessed to the murder was an acting clinic from Jeremy Strong. The actor has been in the news all week because of the profile in the New Yorker. Frankly, I walked away from the piece thinking that Strong was a genius, not difficult to work with. Episodes like tonight prove that there’s a method to the madness.

– In that same piece, Strong stated how he treats the life and death stakes of Kendall as seriously as he takes his own life. Kendall’s confession to Roman and Shiv perfectly illustrates the debate over Succession‘s genre. Is it a tragedy or is it a comedy? Kendall is pouring his heart out, looking for forgiveness and sympathy for anyone who will listen. He’s hit rock bottom, and desperately needs a life preserver (or pool float) to save him from drowning. And yet all Roman can do is brush it off with humor, saying things like “we’ve all killed a kid, no big deal!” Shiv even supports Roman’s dark humor, saying that they’ve all killed before, too. At this moment, Shiv and Roman are incapable of human decency and compassion because they’ve never felt what it’s like to feel powerless like Kendall. The Roy family name is a suit of armor so there are no life and death stakes like Kendall has faced time and time again.

– Brian fucking Cox!

– The final scene. Holy shit was that terrific to watch. This was the Shakespearean tragedy playing out in real-time. Kendall, Shiv, and Roman were left out of the GoJo negotiations so they decide to finally join forces to take down Logan. They spend the car ride getting their affairs in order, confirming the legality of the clause they prepare to invoke on their father. Logan and Caroline’s divorce agreement granted the children a vote over any change in company control so if Logan sold Waystar RoyCo and gave control to Lukas Matsson, Logan would need a supermajority vote to make it official. The children can invoke the clause to form an opposing majority to stop the deal.

Once again, Logan was three steps ahead of his children. Logan tried to explain why selling the company to GoJo would be good for the children because they can go out and earn their own worth, but they insist on invoking the clause. It turns out he renegotiated the divorce settlement with Caroline to remove the clause, making the Roy children powerless.

Everything about this scene was perfect. Logan always wins (which I’ll talk about later as well) and he will stop at nothing to make sure he comes out victorious even if it means going against his kids. The entire season was one long explanation as to why the Roy children are not ready to become the new face of WayStar. As Logan repeatedly says, he needs a killer. Shiv embarrassed her father time and time again with her words, highlighted by the deal with Sandy and Stewie where she compromised much more than Logan would ever consider. Roman made some key introductions especially with GoJo, but sending the dick pic to Gerri proved he was too immature to be CEO. Kendall is the only one to ever get a semi-nod of approval from Logan thanks to his powerplay at the end of Season 2, but his addictions and mental health make him an unreliable successor to the throne. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to the children that Logan made his own deal. He only trusts himself so the kids were naive to think he would ever consider their opinion.

Roman and Shiv finally experienced what it’s like to get the shitty end of the stick. Roman confessed his love to his Dad and Logan returned the favor by calling him a moron. A moron! A desperate Roman tried to plead to Gerri, but she knows that Logan holds the keys to her future and therefore can’t help her friend. The puppy dog eyes broke me if we’re being honest.

For Kendall, he already knows what it feels like to have nothing so, therefore, why beg for anything? He can’t beat his dad alone and now, he learned it’s tough to beat him with numbers on your side. All Kendall could do was console his siblings since Roman and Shiv can finally empathize with their older brother after the shared experiences of being fucked over by their father.

– Then there’s Shiv, who was a villain lurking in the shadows but stepped into the evil spotlight last week with her threat to Gerri. Shiv thought she could have it all. CEO of Waystar, an obedient husband, power, money, etc. It turns out she’s just as naive and inexperienced as her brothers. Her own husband knew this, too, so it’s time to talk about the man, the myth, the midwest legend himself, Tom Wambsgans.

THE HEEL TURN FROM TOM!

Jesse Armstrong you sneaky bastard! Tom FINALLY took a stand and did something for himself. Shiv deserves all the hate in the world for how she treats Tom. From requesting an open marriage on their wedding night to the meanest dirty talk ever recorded, it’s clear that Shiv married Tom so she could feel like the man of the family, the one who holds all of the power. Shiv doesn’t care about Tom. She proved that many times this season. Tom was most likely going to prison and she couldn’t give two shits.

Tom may look like a doofus, but he understands the one thing the Roy children refuse to accept; Logan always wins. If you side with Logan, he’ll be your best ally. If you go against Logan, he’ll gut you like a pig. Tom literally told this to Kendall at the diner. It’s why Tom offered himself up as the one to fall on the sword for the company. Tom understands that Logan appreciates loyalty so when the company learned no one would go to prison, Logan went out of his way to tell Tom that he’d always remember his sacrifice.

Tom was done riding Shiv’s coattails. It was time to get in the game and cash in his ticket. He alerted Logan of the coup, and Logan will return the favor in the form of power and positing within the company. Neuro and Sporus. Chef’s kiss on the payoff.

I could talk forever about this finale so I’ll try to wrap it up. Tom, Greg, Gerri, and Logan all realize that actions have consequences. They’ve all come from small beginnings. Nothing was handed to them. They can’t afford to take a loss because if they lose, it’s over. It’s why they naturally will side with the winning side aka Logan, and they’ll do whatever it takes to stay in the game.

Kendall, Roman, and Shiv never had to take huge risks because they could always fall back on their inheritance and family name. Kendall learned the hard way about what it’s like to go against the family and now Roman and Shiv got their slices of humble pie. Do you know what happens when Logan leaves you behind? You become Connor Roy, and the blowout from Connor at the beginning of the episode was another example of beautiful foreshadowing. Connor knows to stay on his Dad’s good side because once you cross him, it’s over. Connor knows what it feels like to be passed over for new blood, and if Logan’s maca root and almond butter smoothies work, the remaining Roy siblings will be passed over, too.

Remember, betrayals are always sealed with a kiss.

I can’t wait for Season 4. Jesse Armstrong has now crafted three perfect season finales. He pushed all his chips into the center in each finale, and the payouts were huge. Here’s to King Greg!

What are your thoughts on the Succession finale? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

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.