TV Time: Survivor, Season 44

Another season of Survivor has come and gone — and color me surprised, but this was a good one! While I felt fairly unenthused during the early episodes, by the back half of the season, I was all in.

Mainly, I think this is due to particularly good casting this time around. While the players eliminated in the first half have already completely been erased from my memory, the players who made the merge and beyond were, for the most part, interesting, entertaining, and full of surprises.

For the most part… there were still a few in there who made zero impression, but overall — great job, casting team!

Cast from SURVIVOR Season 44. — Photo: Robert Voets/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Survivor has been around a LONG time by now, and while the show continues to add new twists, some basics remain. There are challenges, there are alliances, there are players making overly orgasmic sounds when Jeff mentions food…

Fortunately, some of the most annoying gimmicks from past seasons were not included this time around — fire tokens, redemption island, the prisoner’s dilemma option. One fun new element this season was the appearance of locked bird cages with advantages inside — seeing the players frantically try to find keys, figure out their options, and either conceal or reveal their advantages was goofy and silly entertainment.

By the end, there was a core trio who worked their way from underdog status, outnumbered by members of other tribes, to running the game, and I loved them. Carolyn, Carson, and Yam Yam were delightful — solid alliance, really interesting and quirky people, and great game play.

Unfortunately, Carson lost the fire challenge, making him the final jury member rather than earning a seat in the final three. I would have loved to see these three (#TikaStrong #ThreeStooges) battling it out at final tribal, but sadly that was not to be. Instead, a player who I never particularly noticed, Heidi, ended up at the final, and the win went to Yam Yam.

I was mostly okay with the end results. I was a Carolyn fan all the way, and can’t believe she didn’t get a single vote. I liked Yam Yam, and had he not been up against Carolyn, I would have been excited for his win. I can’t quite figure out what the the jury was thinking, except maybe they didn’t see the amount of strategy Carolyn was applying day by day. The TV edit made it clear that behind her outbursts and kookiness, Carolyn was super smart and was on top of every element of the game, but who knows? Maybe the jury just didn’t get that from the tribal council sessions.

My main complaint about the current Survivor format remains the fire challenge — once it’s down to four players, the person who wins the final immunity challenge picks one person to make it to the final three, and the remaining two have to compete to see who makes fire faster. And that’s just a dumb way to have people get to the end.

In this season, Heidi won the last immunity challenge, and made the decision to give up immunity and build fire against Carson, giving Carolyn and Yam Yam seats in the final three. Heidi did this, apparently, to build her Survivor “resume” and show the jury what a great competitor she was. A couple of problems with this: She played a really lackluster game throughout — I never particularly paid attention to her, or noticed anything special about her strategy. She also chose Carson to go up against in fire building, and it was clear that all four of the remaining players knew he was weakest at fire.

So yes, you could call it a risk to give up immunity and do the fire challenge, except I’m sure she realized that Carson wouldn’t have much of a chance. If you want to really go big, battle Carolyn or Yam Yam!

As expected, Heidi won the fire challenge, and then was declared to have set a record for making the fastest fire in Survivor history. But… who cares? She kept bragging about it at the final tribal, but how does that matter? It’s one fire. What about the rest of the season?

Fortunately, the jury ultimately wasn’t impressed enough to vote for her (except for Danny, who was her closest ally all along), and the win went to Yam Yam. He’s terrific, and like I said, I’d be happy for him in any other season.

The winner of Survivor 44

Funny, all of my real life friends who watch Survivor were Team Carolyn all the way to the end, and we all were shocked at the outcome. I hope they bring her and Carson back for future seasons. Justice for Carolyn!

See the bottom of this post for more Carolyn love and some great news!

Re Carson, I loved his enthusiasm, his nerdy dedication to the game, and how much he blossomed playing the show. This is the engineering student who 3D-printed past Survivor puzzles at home prior to playing, so he killed it every single time he had a puzzle to do. Good for Carson — he was smart to give himself every possible advantage — but I hope Survivor now retires all past puzzles and starts fresh!

My #1 plea to Survivor production: Get rid of the fire challenge! It’s been done to death at this point, and is such an unsatisfactory way to determine who gets to the final. I’ve talked about this before, so I’ll just copy and paste my earlier thoughts on this here:

There’s got to be a way that’s better than a fire-making challenge for determining the final three. Maybe when it’s down to four, you have one person win immunity, then let the remaining three battle it out for the next two spots? Otherwise, the one who wins that particular immunity challenge gets an outsized amount of power.

I hate seeing weak players at final tribal, with great players voted out (or eliminated by fire) in the 4th or 5th position. I get it — you want to win, so you try to make sure you’re sitting next to someone you can beat. But wouldn’t it be cool to have three amazing players at the end, each with a really strong argument to pitch to the jury?

The fire challenge has to go. The tribes make fire at camp every single day. So making one fire on one day, faster than your competitor, doesn’t make you more deserving of the Survivor prize. It just means you got lucky that particular day.

If I wanted to dwell on a #2 complaint (which has nothing to do with gameplay), I’d say ditch the immediate reading of votes and the afterparty. Granted, it must suck to be a player and have to wait a year for the reunion show and reading of the votes, as they used to handle this pre-pandemic. Still, how can the finalists — especially the two who didn’t end up winning — get into the mood of the party when they literally JUST found out they lost, and they’re still sitting there unwashed and tired after 26 days? Let them at least take showers and put on clean clothes first!


All in all, a fun season to watch. Jeff Probst’s hosting remains terrific — I love his play-by-play narration of the challenges and the way he handles tribal council. The emergencies early on added some drama, and overall strong casting made this group really entertaining to watch week after week.

I still intend (at some point) to go back and watch one or two earlier seasons that I missed. Meanwhile, I’ll look forward to whatever fresh twists show up in season 45 this fall!

And now, back to the person I truly thought deserved to win this season…

Here’s a quick scene that shows just a little of Carolyn’s personality and quirkiness:

On the #JusticeforCarolyn front, it was welcome news to hear she’d received the Sia Award! (Sia is a huge Survivor fan, and awards money to her favorite player each season). This time around, Sia gave three awards — the biggie went to Carolyn ($100,000), with two smaller awards to Carson and Lauren ($15,000 each). Great choices, no question. Here’s Carolyn’s reaction to the news, being (as always) very Carolyn about the whole thing:

And here’s an entire piece on the glory of Carolyn:

Wrapping it all up:

Despite some unevenness early on, this ended up being one of the best Survivor seasons in recent years. As I mentioned, many of the folks voted off in early episodes are completely gone from my memory, but the second half of the season more than made up for an earlier duds.

The next season airs in September. As always, I feel pretty skeptical when I watch the trailer for the upcoming season — these always feel kind of samey. But, after the fun of season 44, I’m willing to remain open-minded and hope the casting pays off once again.

TV Time: Daisy Jones & The Six (Prime Video)

Whew. I made it! The final two episodes of the 10-episode mini-series Daisy Jones & The Six dropped this week, and I blasted through them. And overall, despite some misgivings, I have to say that this is a series well worth watching.

I read the book by Taylor Jenkins Reid years ago when it was released, and absolutely loved it. (See for yourself, here). So I was both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous to hear that it would be adapted as a TV series. Excited, because I loved the story. And obviously, nervous — what if they ruined it???

Now that Daisy Jones & The Six — the series — is a reality, I can safely say that it works… mostly. The show captures the rise and fall of this (fictional) legendary 1970s rock band — a band that called it quits right at the pinnacle of their success.

Talking just about the show for a moment, the series has documentary-style interviews framing the main action. Right from the start, we learn that Daisy Jones & The Six (the band) played a stunning concert in Chicago in 1977, then never performed together again. What happened, and why, is the driving question of the series.

Various band members and associates are interviewed in the late 90s, looking back on their memories, but these brief clips are used to bookend the main action, where we actually see the events unfold in the 60s and 70s.

As the series opens, Billy and Graham Dunne are high school students living in the Pittsburgh area, playing rock and roll in their garage with a few friends, and ultimately deciding to try to make it as the Dunne Brothers band. After playing weddings and local gigs, they hit the road in pursuit of the music world’s promised land, LA, along with older brother Billy’s new girlfriend, Camilla.

Success is slow to arrive, but Billy, as lead singer, displays rock star charisma early on, and they play more and more gigs, although still not quite breaking through to the stratosphere of rock success. Once they land a record deal, they change their name to The Six, and launch their first tour — with success, but with a devastating effect on Billy and Camilla’s personal lives.

Meanwhile, we also meet Daisy, the ignored daughter of a wealthy, narcissistic LA couple. Left to her own devices, Daisy finds solace in music, and by her early teens, is hanging out by the stage doors of clubs and bars, making her way into the sex, drugs, and rock and roll scene at much too young an age.

Eventually, Daisy and The Six are brought together by their mutual producer, and magic happens, although not without resentment and complications. From there, it’s inevitable that Daisy and The Six will join forces, and it becomes clear that Billy and Daisy have a chemistry between them that goes way beyond the music they create.

Okay, enough synopsis…

The series really captures the vibe of the 70s music scene. Supposedly inspired by the music as well as the behind-the-scenes drama of Fleetwood Mac, Daisy Jones & The Six rocket to stardom, but with huge emotional cost. There’s all the pills, speed, and coke you’d expect, and the drama between the band members stays at a high pitch throughout.

I was skeptical at first about the musical aspect of the show. It’s a show about rockstars, but those rockstars are played by actors, not musicians. And yet, what they achieve is really impressive. There’s no air guitar or lip syncing here — every bit of music is performed by the cast, and they do it convincingly. Not every number is a huge hit, and the comparison to Fleetwood Mac means they have a very high bar to meet — and the show doesn’t always succeed in showing why these songs, this album, this band became so huge.

As a whole, the show gets better and better from episode to episode. Maybe I just became more invested, but it also felt like the cast start to really inhabit their characters more and more as the story progressed.

As for the cast, the age factor is problematic in the early episodes. We meet Billy and his friends as teens, played by a younger set of actors, but the main cast takes over when the characters should still be in their early 20s, and that was hard to swallow. Billy is played by Sam Claflin, who’s definitely talented and brings Billy’s inner demons and outer showman to life so well — but the actor is in his mid-30s, and just looks out of place as a younger Billy. I tried to ignore it, but it was uncomfortable — it works much better in later episodes, when the band has more years of hard living under their belts.

Riley Keough is terrific as Daisy, although again, much better in the later episodes. With the Daisy character, she doesn’t come across as quite as much of a hot mess as she’s supposed to be in the first third or so of the series. It’s only later, as she becomes more and more of a disaster, that she becomes truly fascinating.



In terms of comparisons to the book, I don’t think the series stands up quite as well in a direct comparison. I can’t judge how well it works for people who haven’t read the book. For me, I decided to do a re-read before the show aired, which was quite probably a mistake. With the story so fresh in my mind, I couldn’t help comparing each major beat of the series to how it was presented in the book, and that got in the way of my being able to just watch and enjoy it for what it is.

The most glaring change is the presentation of the Billy/Daisy/Camilla dynamic, which in the series, is a pretty clear love triangle. Billy loves his wife and the stability she represents, but Daisy is his creative soulmate, and possibly more. Billy and Daisy connect through music and have a chemistry that they both deny in different ways. In the book, nothing actually happens between Billy and Daisy, and ultimately, Camilla steps in to send Daisy away, basically doing her a kindness by telling her not to keep hurting herself through loving Billy, when Billy would never, ever leave his family for her. In the series, however, Camilla is hurt and angry, the confrontations are between Camilla and Billy, and Billy comes much closer to destroying his marriage and giving in to both his addictions and his need for Daisy. (It’s a good story, but was hard for me to watch because I kept thinking about how the book depicted the crisis).

(Camilla’s behavior in general is very different in the series from how I perceived it in the book. And we might argue that she’s too good to be true in the book, but I was disturbed by some of her actions and choices in the show, which from my perspective seem out of character.)

There are plenty of other differences, but mostly in smaller pieces of the puzzle. At the start, I was disappointed that the lyrics to the songs had changed — the book includes lyrics to all the songs written by Billy and Daisy. Still, in terms of the series, I had to admire the creativity. Obviously, the book provided lyrics without music, so the series producers brought in teams of singers and songwriters to create the music, and gave these creators the freedom to write new versions of the songs that worked for them, while keeping the underlying themes and messages.


The music is actually quite a lot of fun, once I eased up on the comparisons and let myself enjoy it. I think it’s somewhat hilarious that the album Aurora by Daisy Jones & The Six is a real thing that exists… and no, I haven’t purchased it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not tempted!

A little clip for your viewing/listening pleasure:

Now that I’ve reached the end, I can’t quite get the story or the songs out of my mind. I’m very tempted to start all over again from the beginning — with a second viewing, I think I’ll be able to focus much more on what’s on the screen in front of me without the mental distractions of comparisons to the book.

So, bottom line — do I recommend the TV version of Daisy Jones & The Six? Yes, most definitely. It’s a bit uneven, not necessarily successful in every single episode, but overall, it delivers that rock story and emotional messiness that the trailer promises, and the talented cast really sells it all.

Have you watched Daisy Jones & The Six? If so, what did you think?

Titanic! A few thoughts (and books) in honor of the movie’s 25th anniversary

25 years! Has it really been 25 year since we (I) sat spellbound for 3+ hours watching the epic love story of Jack and Rose and the terrible tragedy of the Titanic’s sinking? (And for some of us, 25 years since we watched this movie MULTIPLE TIMES??)

It’s true. This month, in honor of the 25th anniversary, a remastered 3D version of the movie was released in theaters… and naturally, I had to go see it. Yes, I’ve seen the movie more than once already (three times, I think, which is still fewer viewings than some of my more fanatical friends can claim), but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience it once again on the big screen.

I’m so glad I did! I went this past Monday… and loved every moment. Sure, some of the panned-out views of the ship are more glaringly CGI than they seemed 25 years ago, but still — the visuals are gorgeous, and the overall impact is still there, powerful as ever.

It was sweet seeing how young Kate and Leo were back then, and while the romance still has its fair share of super cheesy lines, I still found it lovely, and I truly enjoyed the experience.

Here’s the trailer for the anniversary re-release:

Sigh. I’m not over it. Clearly.

Meanwhile, creator James Cameron hosts Titanic: 25 Years Later on the NatGeo channel (also streaming on Disney+), a one-hour retrospective that goes back and revisits some of the new developments and discoveries about the Titanic that have come about in the last 25 years… and most crucially, settles the door debate once and for all!

Could Jack have lived if he’d gotten onto the floating door with Rose? Was there enough room for two? The show recreates the moment in a controlled environment, having two stunt people try out different options for sharing the space and seeing if Jack’s body temperature could have remained high enough for him to survive until a rescue boat arrived. I gotta admit, it was pretty fascinating! Spoiler for those who don’t plan to watch — it’s a maybe! After trying several difference options, one scenario did seem to suggest that Jack and Rose could have both survived, but only if they’d known to situate themselves in just the right way, which seems doubtful. So… I’ll stick with the idea that there really wasn’t a viable choice, and mourn for poor Jack, who sacrificed his own life to give Rose the change to live.

Here’s a little snippet:

The whole show is fascinating — definitely worth checking out!

Meanwhile, back in the world of books…

Having watched Titanic this week, I’m in the mood to read about it too! I’ve read several novels set on the Titanic, and have a few others on my to-read list:

I’ve read:

Every Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge (published 1996)

I read this book over ten years ago, and while I don’t remember many of the fictional elements, I do remember being impressed by how well this book conveys the human tragedy and the awful timeline of the events.

The Midnight Watch by David Dyer (published 2016)

Heartbreaking story about the SS Californian, a ship that was near enough to see Titanic’s distress flares yet waited to offer assistance. Woven into the narrative is the story of a family traveling in steerage on Titanic. Combined, these two plotlines make for powerful reading. (review)

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Oh dear. This one really did not work for me. It’s a ghost story/horror story set onboard Titanic, and I found it pretty muddled and unnecessary. In some ways, the ghost story might have been much better if it were set on a random ship, but combining it with the Titanic story was not great. (review)

But wait, there’s more! Here are a handful of Titanic-themed novels that I either own copies of or have on my TBR list, but have yet to read. (I’m sure there are many, many more to choose from, but these are the ones that have caught my eye so far):

The Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee (published 2021)

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise, though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese people aren’t allowed into America...

Note: I’m starting this book today!

A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connolly (published 2022)

Shortly after midnight on April 15, 1912, the captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, wakes to a distress signal from the Titanic, which has struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Though information is scarce, Rostron leaps into action, determined to answer the call for help. But the Carpathia is more than four hours away, and there are more questions than answers: Will his ship hold together if pushed to never-before-tested speeds? What if he also strikes an iceberg? And with the freezing temperatures, will there be any survivors by the time the Carpathia arrives?

A Night to Remember by Walter Lord (published 1955)

OK, this one is non-fiction, but it’s supposed to be an amazing read:

First published in 1955, A Night to Remember remains a completely riveting account of the Titanic’s fatal collision and the behavior of the passengers and crew, both noble and ignominious. Some sacrificed their lives, while others fought like animals for their own survival. Wives beseeched husbands to join them in lifeboats; gentlemen went taut-lipped to their deaths in full evening dress; and hundreds of steerage passengers, trapped below decks, sought help in vain.

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor (published 2012)

A voyage across the ocean becomes the odyssey of a lifetime for a young Irish woman. . . .

Ireland, 1912 . . .

Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the few passengers in steerage to survive. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that fateful night again...

The Second Mrs. Astor by Shana Abé (published 2021)

This riveting novel takes you inside the scandalous courtship and catastrophic honeymoon aboard the Titanic of the most famous couple of their time—John Jacob Astor and Madeleine Force. Told in rich detail, this novel of sweeping historical fiction will stay with readers long after turning the last page...

Have you read any great fiction about the Titanic? Or do you have a favorite non-fiction account to recommend?

I’m sure my Titanic obsession will ease up a bit as time goes by… but seeing the movie again definitely brought up all those feelings!

Books & TV: Fungus among us

Having just spent an intensely creepy 80-something minutes watching the series premier of The Last of Us (HBO), I’m now forced to sit here and contemplate just how terrifying fungi can be. If you’re not scared, then you definitely haven’t watched this show… or read any of the books I’m about to talk about!

Photo by Pixabay on

Let’s start with The Last of Us. This show has been getting tons of hype — well deserved! For those who aren’t familiar with the history, The Last of Us started as a videogame (released in 2013) that was absolutely huge — and which is generally considered a giant step forward in gaming in terms of both graphics and storytelling. (For more on the game and its significance, read here — but note that there are spoilers for the overall storyline). I’m not a gamer, so that aspect doesn’t mean a whole lot to me, but I do love a good post-apocalypse story… and this one is a doozy.

Here’s the official trailer from HBO:

Are you scared yet?

After watching the first episode, I naturally starting thinking about the scary-as-hell books I’ve read over the past several years featuring horrific fungi — and thought I’d share the case of the creeps with everyone else!

If you’re into fungal horror (or want to know what books to avoid at all costs), then check out this list. I’ve provided links to my reviews, in case you’re interested.

The Girl with All the Gifts (and the sequel, The Boy on the Bridge) by M. R. Carey:

The Girl With All the Gifts was my first exposure to zombie apocalypse via fungus, and man, was it horrifying! It’s a great story — and at the time when it was released, the marketing cleverly didn’t disclose what it was actually about. I expected a story about kids with some sort of paranormal abilities, perhaps, and instead… FUNGAL HORROR. So good…

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

This was a 2022 release, and it’s just amazing (and creep-tastic). A retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher, but with fungi! You’ll never look at a rabbit in quite the same way again.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Garcia-Moreno

I almost hesitated about including this one, since the very fact that I’m putting it here is entering into spoiler territory… but it’s a prime example of great fungus-based horror!

The Unfamiliar Garden (The Comet Cycle, #2) by Benjamin Percy

This is the 2nd book in the Comet Cycle trilogy (and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of #3!). In these books, a comet that passes close by Earth has a devastating effect on the world as we know it. The first book, The Ninth Metal, relates one aspect of the story, and here in book #2, we see an entirely different set of effects on the natural landscape, including… you guessed it… horrifying fungi! I tend to describe these books more as sci-fi than horror, although there’s plenty of ickiness too.

Those are the examples from my own bookshelves… but there’s more! If you just can’t get enough of deadly fungi, check Fangoria’s list of movies, TV episodes, and books with fungal horror plotlines.

And if you want to start on a less terrifying note, then there’s always this goodie (available via Amazon and elsewhere):

Wow, this is a cheerful post! So now that I’ve shared my selection of frightful fungal horror, I’ll ask you:

Have you read any other horror books with deadly/disgusting/horrifying fungi taking over the world (or at least a corner of it)?

Please share any recommendations… not that I need any further fuel for my nightmares.

Streaming time: Fire Island (Hulu)

Fire Island is a light, joyful summer movie, released on Hulu in early June, about a group of friends enjoying parties, dancing, hook-ups, and flirting during one wild week on Fire Island.

It’s also a Pride and Prejudice retelling. Seriously. And it absolutely works!

Fire Island is a sweet, funny rom-com about a group of five friends, a found family of gay men who lovingly refer to one another as “sisters”, looking for… well, not necessarily love, but certainly flings during their week of partying and escape from their real lives. Here on Fire Island, they can be loud, proud, outrageous, and despite the social and racial divides that insert some uglier moments (racist snobs are still racist snobs, even on Fire Island), it’s a haven as well as a vacation.

Noah (played by screenwriter Joel Kim Booster), the main character, and his best friend Howie (played by SNL’s amazing Bowen Yang) are the stand-ins for Lizzie and Jane Bennet. Howie is too sweet for this setting — he’s never been in a relationship, and he’s looking for love. When he encounters the puppy-dog cute Charlie, the awkward cuteness of their attraction is just adorable. But Charlie is accompanied by his friend Will, a dour, unpleasant sort of guy who thinks our group of five is uncouth and not their kind of people — and once Noah overhears Will’s nasty comments, Noah’s opinion of Will is sealed.

The two flightiest of the group are perfect in the Lydia and Kitty roles, and the Mary Bennet character is hilarious. Comedian Margaret Cho plays the wealthy friend whose house they crash at each summer — she’s not a ridiculous character like Mrs. Bennet, but she is very funny in her attempts to constantly mother her group of boys.

I loved all the Pride and Prejudice moments — the story follows the bones of P&P quite well, but not so much that it feels forced or shoehorned in. Certain beats get dropped altogether (Charlotte Lucas, Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine), and that’s fine. There’s enough there to add a twinkle to the storyline, and for an Austen fan, it’s really fun.

That said, I think the story would work perfectly well as a rom-com in its own right for those who aren’t there for the Austen of it all. It’s funny, but also has great scenes of friendship and emotional connection and sadness… although the mood never stays down or serious for long.

Fire Island is rated R and there’s plenty of raunchy sex talk, implied sex acts, and super skimpy clothing. As with all movies, consider your comfort level with R-rated movies. (I’d take this type of R over a violent movie any day…)

I’m so glad I finally watched Fire Island! It’s a fun summer movie that lifted my spirits on a chilly autumn day… and delighted my inner Austen nerd immensely.

TV Time: Virgin River season 4. So pretty. So slooooow.

Virgin River Credit: Netflix

As I said when I wrote up my post about season 3 of Virgin River

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Back we go to the fictional town of Virgin River, California, a gorgeous place somewhere in Humboldt County, with beautiful rivers, mountains, and forests, quirky townspeople, amazing baked goods, and a teensy little problem with drug runners.

But romance! Especially romance!

Four seasons in, I can’t deny that I’m invested and care about these characters’ lives… and at the same time, absolutely nothing happens on this show!! Or so it seems most of the time.

Season four has 12 episodes, each about 45 minutes, so that’s plenty of opportunity to move the plot forward in a meaningful way, right?

Well, let’s take a look at the timespan of the show, shall we? Season 1 (which initially aired in 2019) included the announcement of an unplanned pregnancy at the end of the season. So here in season 4, the babies should be in preschool, right?

Nope. The pregnant character from season 1 is STILL pregnant, and according to a comment in the final episode of season 4, she’s 5 months pregnant at this point. FIVE MONTHS.

In terms of season 4 itself, as far as I could tell, it all takes place within no more than 4 weeks. So, those babies from season 1 will be born… I don’t know, season 7 or 8, maybe?

The bummer about this timespan weirdness is that all of season 4 takes place over no more than a month (possibly two), and guess what? It’s apparently not sweater season! (For context, one of my absolutely ridiculous obsessions with earlier seasons is drooling over main character Mel’s amazingly big and cozy sweaters… but this time around, they were sadly missing.)

Onward to talking about season 4. SPOILER ALERT!! I’m going to be discussing plot points from the season, so if you haven’t watched, you may want to look away!!

Season 4 continues shortly after the end of season 3, in terms of story chronology. Season 3 ended with Jack trying to propose to Mel, who interrupts so she can inform him that she’s pregnant, and he might not be the father. This would have been much more shocking if we viewers didn’t already know that she’d gone to a fertility clinic in LA while she and Jack were on a brief break and had her and her late husband’s embryos transferred. (Don’t get me started — the process is so ridiculous and unrealistic, but that’s a season 3 issue).

Jack, of course, is supportive, loves Mel no matter what, and insists that this baby will be their baby, no matter who the biological father actually is. But, he doesn’t want to do a paternity test — he’s afraid that a definitive answer might affect how he feels about the baby, so he’d rather not know.

In case you’re keeping score, that makes Jack the expectant father of three babies!

Meanwhile, he continues to struggle with PTSD from his Marine days, and seems be in denial about a drinking problem too. Also lingering is the question of who shot him (at the end of season 2) — his former Marine buddy is in prison for attempted murder, but Brady has been shown to have a heart of gold (thanks to his relationship with Jack’s sister), so we know it wasn’t him!!

What else? Other plot points this season include:

  • A kidnapped child
  • Ongoing drug business
  • Recovery from a traumatic brain injury
  • A surprise grandchild showing up in town
  • A new doctor at the clinic
  • Mel’s sister getting married to a guy she’s known for one month
  • A local teen leaving his girlfriend behind to join the Marines
  • Aikido lessons for Preacher (and a new love interest)
  • There’s a Renaissance Faire!!

And on and on. There are dramatic reveals set up as cliffhangers at the end of various episodes (OMG, the pilot of the small plane is having a heart attack mid-flight!) which get resolved neatly and easily as soon as the next episode starts (the pilot is fine, Jack landed the plane, everybody is good!).

There are weird developments –a young couple eating at Jack’s bar mention how excited they are about a glamping getaway in an Airstream, and within minutes, Jack has decided that his new side business will be… buying Airstreams to set up a glamping business! Way to jump in with zero research, Jack.

There’s a hugely over-the-top baby shower (for Charmaine, mother of Jack’s unborn twins — due sometime in 2026, perhaps?) that looks like the most painful and boring event of all times. Maybe it’s supposed to look like how rich people would throw a baby shower, but to me, it looked like a super awkward business event that’s trying to be fun. Give me baby Pictionary and silly games with balls of yarn in someone’s living room any day!

Shows with small town settings like this seem to be required to include (a) nosy residents who love to gossip (b) a sewing or knitting circle and (c) a festival or fair of some kind. Check, check, and check! The Renaissance Faire is very fun to watch while also being totally goofy. Of course, everyone has amazing costumes! They even get the new town doc to dance around the maypole, and naturally, Jack gets to play a knight in a mock sword fight. It’s awesome.

To be fair, a few plot points do get somewhat straightened out by the end of the season. Again, SPOILER ALERT, because this gives away some big reveals:

  • The kidnapped child is saved!
  • The kidnapper is also Jack’s shooter, and it looks like he’s finally been caught!
  • And….
  • … the biggest reveal…
  • Jack is NOT actually the father of Charmaine’s babies! Dun dun dun….

My biggest complaint about the show overall is that I absolutely hate the drug smuggling plotline, but it doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. And now there’s a new crime boss in town with a surprising connection to one of the local families. You know this can’t be good. I really, really, really can’t stand any aspect of this storyline, which seems completely unnecessary to an otherwise nice show about people in a small town — but I understand that this plot is from the books, so I guess we’re stuck with the awful drug running stuff for a while longer.

Why do I keep watching this show, when clearly I have issues with it?

Because it still has enough good stuff, like…

  • You guessed it, the amazing scenery! I want to LIVE in this town, wander through the woods, and sit and gaze at the rivers.
  • We get to watch Tim Matheson! He remains a delight as Doc Mullins, and I love every moment he’s on screen.
  • Mel… well, I’m on the fence. I’ve loved her up to now, and I do love seeing her in action as a highly skilled, highly compassionate medical professional. Unfortunately, she spends a lot of this season moping and being sad — often with good reason, but it’s just not very much fun.
  • Bree, introduced last season, gets more screen time, and I enjoy her a lot too. Yay for another strong woman in town!

So, for now, I’m sticking with it! But if those babies don’t start getting born in season 5, I may finally reach my breaking point.

What about you? Who’s still watching Virgin River? What do you think of season 4?

And still the lingering question — should I give the books a try?

TV Time: Bridgerton – season 2

All hail the arrival of the glorious 2nd season of Bridgerton! It feels like we’ve waited a long, long time for this… and not necessarily patiently.

The season dropped on Friday, and by Monday, I was done — which is actually taking it slowly for such a bingeable show.

First, the trailer, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet:

Season two of Bridgerton more or less follows the plot of the 2nd book in Julia Quinn’s romance novel series, The Viscount Who Loved Me. My review of the book is here.

Each of the Bridgerton books follows the romantic escapades of one of the Bridgerton family’s eight siblings. Will the Netflix version follow this formula? Who knows! But here’s hoping…

Book #2 and season #2 both shift the story’s focus to Anthony Bridgerton, the eldest son and current Viscount, who bears an unhealthy weight of responsiblity on his shoulders. Inheriting the viscount title at a young age after the sudden death of their father, Anthony views himself as responsible for the well-being of his mother, his brothers and sisters, their future prospects, the family fortune, and the family reputation. It’s a lot.

As season 2 opens, Anthony has decided it’s time to put aside his more decadent existence (after a torrid affair with an opera singer in season 1, among other examples of rakish behavior) and find himself a wife. He does not want a love match, though. Instead, he wants a wife who’ll be a perfect partner in society, preserving the family honor, and bearing the next generation of little Bridgerton babies.

Who better to be Anthony’s wife than the season’s diamond — the debutante named by the queen as the most exquisite and incomparable?

This season’s diamond is Miss Edwina Sharma, a perfectly poised young woman with great beauty and all the manners and skills deemed most desirable in a society girl. There’s just one hiccup — Edwina’s older sister Kate is determined to see Edwina married well, and she’s taken an instant disliking to our dear Anthony.

But what is dislike but insanely hot chemistry in disguise?

Season 2 of Bridgerton has far fewer sex scenes that season 1, but instead, features much more of a slow burn. That Anthony and Kate are end game is obvious… but it’s delicious to see the build-up of their sexual tension and their enemies-to-lovers dynamic.

There’s a lot to love about season 2… but also a few things I could have done without. In no particular order, my highs and lows:

SPOILERS AHOY! I’m going to get into more specific plot points, so look away if you haven’t watched yet!!



Okay, here we go:

  • The key downer for me this season is turning Kate-Anthony-Edwina into a love triangle. In the book, Anthony is courting Edwina, who recognizes that Anthony would make a fine catch… but she doesn’t actually have feelings for him. So when their match comes to an end, Edwina isn’t hurt, isn’t betrayed, and finds a guy who’s actually a much better fit for her interests and personality.
  • Here in the show, Edwina does fall for Anthony, and things progress all the way to their wedding before she realizes that Anthony and Kate have feelings for each other.
  • WHY? Why did we need a love triangle? Why turn this into betrayal between sisters? Kate should have been honest with Edwina sooner, and yes, there are reasons for how things played out… but no. This wasn’t necessary. Two very nice young women who love each other ended up making each other miserable and nearly ruin their beautiful connection. Of course, there’s a happy ending, but it sucks having to get there.
  • Back to the book, Anthony and Kate are caught in a compromising position and are therefore forced to marry in order to save everyone’s reputation, and I guess it makes sense that they changed this (for fear of it being too similar to the Simon/Daphne plot from season 1), but I thought it would have been fun to see it play out.
  • But oh, the scene where I thought that would happen! There’s a bee involved, and if you never thought a bee sting scene could be sexy, well, you clearly haven’t watched Bridgerton! The sparks are jumping off the screen!
  • I just didn’t love Eloise this season, as much as I wanted to. Her storyline is all over the place, she doesn’t seem to know what she wants, and she’s not a very good friend. Her awkward shtick is getting old, and she’s all talk, no action when it comes to being a rebel.
  • GILES ALERT! If you’re a Buffy fan, there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-him moment that will make you happy.
  • I love, love, love how matter of fact this show is about the fact that Bridgerton takes place in a world where diversity is just normal and how things are. It’s glorious.
  • And I love that the Sharma family is from India, and their heritage gets woven into the story in little ways, like words and scents and beauty routines and the pre-wedding haldi ceremony.

(Regarding the haldi, see this article. And this one too on Indian representation.)

  • Classical versions of pop music are back! This season’s music included string arrangements of You Oughta Know and Wrecking Ball (listen on Spotify), plus more fabulous choices.
  • The youngest Bridgertons, Hyacinth and Gregory, get a little more airtime and are quite adorable, although once again sister Francesca is mostly MIA. (Apparently, the actress had a scheduling conflict while filming another Netflix series.) And while it’s nice to see Daphne again, she just pops in from time to time to give Anthony advice about love and marriage and show off her new baby. That’s fine… although it does reinforce the tired old idea that a romance plot ends with a wedding, and everything after that is mere epilogue.
  • Polly Walker is spectacular as the awful Mrs. Featherington, who behaves as badly as you’d expect but then earns a mite of redemption by the end.
  • Penelope is fabulous, and I’m mad at anyone who hurts her feelings. Looking at you, Colin and Eloise!
  • The plotline with the Queen… well, it’s not in the books at all, but mostly works in the show, although her obsession with the Bridgerton wedding doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I’m willing to just chalk it up to plot necessities and move on.
  • Loved the backstory and flashbacks related to the death of Daddy Bridgerton and how it affected both Anthony and Violet. Really heartwrenching scenes and terrific acting on both their parts.
  • And did I mention the chemistry between Anthony and Kate? Yes??? Well, I’ll mention it again. They are VERY good together.

There’s more, but I’ll stop before I start raving about pall-mall and Anthony falling in the lake and the cute corgi.

You know you wanted to see a lake picture!

All in all, this was a really fun, enjoyable season… and I’m sure I’ll be back for a second look! And while we know there are more seasons to come, it’s not clear yet whether the show will follow the book progression… but if it does, Benedict and Colin will be getting a lot more screen time!

Lead love interests for season 3 (L) and 4 (R), perhaps?

Also, three cheers for the queen, who’ll be getting a spin-off/prequel series of her own!

Of course, there are a ton of lingering questions at the end of Bridgerton’s 2nd season. Will Eloise break from societal expectations altogether and pursue a life of political thought and independence? Will the show broaden its romantic horizons and embrace a love story that at least considers the possibility of a more fluid sexuality?

And very importantly — where can I get a darling little top hat like Kate’s? (And where might one wear such an amazing hat in the 21st century?)

Have you watched season 2 yet? Did it live up to your expectations?

Movie Time: West Side Story

I ventured out to an actual movie theater to see West Side Story last night, and despite some discomfort about how many people were there, I’m so happy I went.

This is probably needless to say, but — spoilers ahead! I’m going to assume most people are familiar with the story (not to mention Romeo and Juliet) but if you’re not, don’t read on!

I grew up listening to the soundtrack of West Side Story, and the play and the movie have been around for so long that even if you’ve seen neither, the music should be pretty much instantly recognizable. So how does a new movie present something that everyone knows in a way that feels relevant?

The 2021 remake of West Side Story accomplishes this, and then some. First, it’s visually beautiful. The setting, the cinematography, and the costuming are all wonderfully done. The costumes, especially, are vibrant and deliver a message about the people and the emotions and the time, all on their own.

Second, there are some key differences between the original movie and this version, including adding more context and backstory that help bring the conflicts to life. In this version of WSS, the West Side is going through tremendous upheaval. From the opening shots, we see that the neighborhood is being demolished, part of the city’s project to clear the slums to make way for the new Lincoln Center, to be built on the same site. The Jets and the Sharks are fighting over rubble, basically. They each may want to claim the territory, but in the end, they’re all being pushed out to make way for something shinier and prettier.

The movie gives us a look into the motivations behind each group’s behaviors as well. The Jets are white and see themselves as “real” Americans, but they’re all descended from immigrants too — and in their case, the reason they’re running the streets as a trouble-making gang itching for a fight has to do with all their pent-up anger and frustration over their go-nowhere lives. They’re orphans or abandoned, the children of people who never made it. They literally have nothing to lose but their pride and their control over their own little corner of the world, where they can perhaps feel bigger than they are.

The Sharks appear to be more upwardly mobile in many respects. The Sharks have jobs and plans. They’re all recent immigrants, and they’re pursuing the American dream of a better life, but they’re having to fight for it along the way. Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, is working toward a career as a boxer. Chino is kept out of the dirtier aspects of the Sharks — he’s studying to be an accountant, and is seen as the one with the best chance of actually getting away from street life.

Tony here is given a backstory as well, and it’s an interesting choice. Tony, along with best friend Riff, founded the Jets. In the original, he’s no longer involved, but we don’t exactly know why, other than that he’s trying to find a better life. In this new version, Tony is on parole after serving a year in prison for almost killing someone in a fight. He’s determined to do better and to be better, whatever that may mean for him, although we have to question his odds right from the start, since he’s still living in the same neighborhood where he came from, where the Jets are calling for his return day and night.

One of the things I found interesting in this movie is how clearly the timeline is spelled out. From Tony and Maria’s meeting at the dance in the gym, it’s only one day until the rumble. Yet in that day, Tony and Maria declare their love and pledge themselves to one another for ever and always. Maybe my reaction has to do with my own age, but watching the original West Side Story as a child, Tony and Maria seemed so grown-up to me. Watching the 2021 version, it’s clear that Tony and Maria are young adults — she’s 18, his age isn’t stated, but he can’t be more than a few years older. (Ansel Elgort may be even be a bit too old for the role — I think I would have liked seeing a Tony closer in age to Maria.)

Their ages are relevant – they’re instantly smitten and make vows of eternal love, but are we meant to see them as destined lovers, or as two teens who confuse infatuation with true love? If they’d had more time, would their relationship have worked? They’re full of wild emotion and passion, but in reality, they had a day together — that’s it. It works here, as yet another way of showing us the tragedy of their lives. We don’t know what might have been, but there was potential, at least, that’s cut short.

I actually find Anita and Bernardo’s love story much more deep and compelling. They’ve been together five years, they live as if married, are passionately in love with one another, but they see and understand the realities of their lives and the obstacles they face. And Anita, despite her commitment to Bernardo, doesn’t even get the dignity of being allowed to mourn him. She’s treated disrespectfully by the police investigating his death, and who can blame her for her part in dooming Tony after the treatment she receives from the Jets?

Also, I have to say that Anita has a powerful point to make in the song “A Boy Like That”. Tony shows up in Maria’s window fresh from the fight where he killed her brother. And yes, it was unintentional and he’s devastated, but still — he killed her brother. Who but a love-smitten teen-aged girl would still allow him into her bed and into her heart in that moment? It’s another way that the movie shows us their youth and impetuousness, and how at that age, emotion is everything.

Rita Moreno is in the movie as a new character, Valentina, the widow of the drugstore owner Doc who features in the original movie. She’s powerful and a moral center amidst the chaos, and I loved that she’s the one who gets to sing “Somewhere”, making it a mournful song about how unlikely it is for people from different sides to actually have hope and make a life together.

The cast of West Side Story is phenomenal — Rachel Zegler as Maria, Mike Faist as Riff, and Ariana DeBose as Anita are all stand-outs. The choreography (by Justin Peck) is fantastic, modernized and updated, but with callbacks to the feel of the original choreography by Jerome Robbins.

This is a beautifully made movie. And despite having been familiar with the story for basically my entire life, I still found myself moved to tears by the end, hoping for an outcome different than the one I knew was coming.

I’ll definitely want to watch this again once it’s available to stream. Highly recommended.

TV Time: Yellowstone

I know I’m late to the party, but my newest TV obsession is Yellowstone. The show is currently airing its 4th season, and over the last couple of weeks, I’ve binged it all from the beginning. Now I’m completely caught up, and ready for new episodes — four left this season!

(Note: Some spoilers ahead, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum and not reveal any of the big shockers.)

In brief, Yellowstone is the story of the Dutton family and their ranch. Founded over a hundred years earlier, the Yellowstone Dutton ranch is the largest ranch in Montana, and patriarch John Dutton (Kevin Costner) is the largest private land owner in the state. As such, there’s a constant state of low- to high-level war going on, as greedy corporate interlopers as well as the neighboring Native American reservation are constantly seeking ways to take land from the Duttons.

The Dutton family includes John’s adult children, all of whom have been groomed to take on key roles in protecting and preserving the land. John’s father’s dying instructions to his son consisted of one specific order: Never give up the land. Not one inch.

John Dutton is a hard man who wields tremendous power in the state, although that power may be waning as outside interests work against him. John has a hand in state and local government, intimidates anyone who opposed him, hand-picks his choice for roles like state Attorney General, and dictates his wishes to the local sheriff’s office.

In season 1, John’s opponents were chiefly two: Dan Jenkins, a California transplant with dreams of creating a vacation paradise adjacent to the ranch, and Chief Rainwater, the new chief of the reservation, whose mission is to take back the land stolen from his people a century earlier.

As the series progresses, the battles and the opponents shift constantly, as uneasy alliances are formed when new threats pop up.

The really and truly engrossing thing about this show is the family itself. The adult Dutton children are all, to one extent or another, a mess. Their mother died about 20 years earlier, leaving a huge hole in their lives as well as a whole host of psychological damage. John, for one, never got over losing the love of his life, and has been emotionally unavailable to his children for most of their lives, while maintaining huge expectations for them in terms of family loyalty and expectations.

Son Jamie is the family lawyer, dressed in suits while the rest of the family wears jeans, cowboy hats, and boots. Rather than working the ranch, he represents the family business and political interests, and will destroy anyone in the courtroom who opposed the Duttons. Jamie is also an emotional mess, desperately needing his father’s love and approval but never quite getting it.

The youngest of the family is Kayce, a former Navy SEAL who fled the ranch to make his own way, but is brought back (reluctantly) into the family after events in the pilot episode. Kayce is a trained killer with a strong moral compass. When we first meet him, he’s living in a trailer on the reservation with his Native American wife Monica and their son Tate, happily scraping by training horses, but he and his family are soon drawn back into the Dutton world, where he starts to take up the mantle of Dutton heir.

My favorite is Beth, the only daughter of the family. Age-wise, she’s between Jamie and Kayce. When first introduced, I had a major attack of eye-rolling. Look, here’s another caricature of a tough business woman, hard-edged and hard-drinking with a foul mouth, someone who chews up and spits out business men for breakfast. In early episodes, we see Beth bathe naked in a horse trough on the ranch and run at a pack of wolves, howling. Ummm, why?

Well, my skepticism about Beth has turned to absolute love. As the show progresses, we learn more about the events from her youth that made her who she is, and finally (in season 3) get an explanation for her seemingly out-of-proportion hatred for her brother Jamie. Beth also is key to the most moving and touching love story of the show, and my love for this couple knows no bounds.

Meanwhile, Kevin Costner as John Dutton is absolutely magnetic. He’s taciturn and hard, but loves his family and still mourns his late wife. He’s also a tough, unyielding rancher, loves being out on his horses, can get down and dirty whenever needed, and is a man who is mostly universally feared. I especially love his relationships with Beth and with his grandson, where we see a more vulnerable and kinder side, but truly, any time he’s on screen is special.

Now, there are some elements to this show that confuse me by being contradictory or not well explained. We hear all along that John’s wife’s death changed him and practically destroyed the family — but we never actually see much to back that up. There are a few flashbacks, but none really demonstrate that the family was warm and loving beforehand — in fact, a key moment with Beth shows Evelyn as cruel and demanding in her interaction with her daughter.

The first episode thrusts viewers straight into the action, with the interloping developer and the reservation both battling the Duttons on different fronts. I could have used a bit more context and backstory — there are elements I didn’t piece together until several more episodes went by. The biggest head-scratcher early on is that (major spoiler) eldest son Lee (whom I didn’t mention earlier, and here’s why) is killed by the end of the episode. Lee was the presumptive heir to the ranch, and his death leaves the ranch succession in turmoil… except kind of not? After his death and funeral, almost no one even mentions Lee again. We barely got to know him, and for most episodes, it’s easy to forget that he even existed.

The show can’t seem to decide if John is a criminal mastermind (like a western Godfather) or an anti-hero, or just a straight up hero trying to preserve a purer way of life in the face of corporate greed and ruthlessness. We know John is ruthless and dangerous, but he’s often just so damned lovable in so many scenes, and as I said, Kevin Costner turns this character into someone iconic, even when his actions are morally questionable.

Beyond the Duttons, we also spend time in the bunkhouse with the wranglers, the rowdy cowboys who work the ranch. They’ve a mixed bunch — some veterans, some new to the ranch, and one who’s so green that he’s never even been on a horse before. The group is entertaining, but also provide yet another road to understanding ranch life in general, and more specifically, what it takes to be a true member of the Dutton world. (Hint: it’s not pretty.)

I’ve described this show to a friend as a western Sons of Anarchy, which is a little off-the-mark, but not by much. It’s less murdery than Sons, and the business of the Dutton ranch isn’t a criminal enterprise — but there’s still plenty of murder, and lots of crime as a side-effect of what it takes to keep the ranch and the family in power. The show, via the Duttons, embraces old-school Western justice, which isn’t kosher from a law enforcement perpsective, but as the show continually points out, Montana isn’t like any place else.

Side note: In terms of a Sons of Anarchy connection (besides substituting horses for motorcycles), creator and writer Taylor Sheridan was an actor on SOA, playing Sheriff David Hale for several seasons. Here in Yellowstone, he occasionally shows up as superstar horse trainer Travis, always entertaining.

Where the show sits now, past the halfway point of season 4, the Duttons face continuing threats from outside forces, as well as the continuation of their internal battles and struggles. I continue to adore certain characters and despise others, and no matter how crazy the events of any given episode, I can’t bring myself to look away.

And the absolutely gorgeous scenery doesn’t hurt in the slightest!

So, anyone else watching Yellowstone? If so, who’s your favorite character, and what are your predictions for the rest of season 4?

There’s a ton of Yellowstone-related material over on YouTube, but here’s a final clip for this post — on turning the show’s actors into cowboys…

TV Time: Hit & Run (Netflix)

My new TV obsession this week is Hit & Run, the American-Israeli production now streaming on Netflix. (One season so far, dropped earlier in August – 9 episodes total)

Set in Tel Aviv and New York, Hit & Run‘s main character is Segev Azulai (played by the intense Lior Raz). Segev seems to be a straightforward family man. He lives on a moshav (collective farm) with his second wife Danielle and his pre-teen daughter Ella. Segev is devoted to them, and spends his days as a jovial tour guide for visiting Americans.

Danielle is a dancer with the renowned Batsheva Dance Company, but as the story opens, she’s about to fly to New York for an audition with another company. She and her driver stop for coffee on the way to the airport, and as she’s crossing the street, she’s the victim of a hit and run. She dies soon after, leaving Segev bereft and deeply in mourning.

Segev’s mourning takes a turn when his home is broken into and he’s assaulted by the intruder (whom he kills in the struggle), but by the time the police arrive at his home, the body of the intruder is gone. This kicks off Segev’s suspicion that there’s more to the story. Why is he suddenly a target? How can he keep his daughter safe?

Assisted by his cousin Tali, a detective who happens to be six-months pregnant, Segev starts to look for answers. Secrets of his own past emerge — he has a shady history from years back, when he worked as a mercenary in Mexico and was responsible for a former friend being sentenced to prison. Could Danielle’s death have been planned as revenge on Segev?

I will not give any spoilers, but let’s just say that this is only the beginning of the twists and turns and absolutely shocking revelations that come up in every episode of Hit & Run. Just when we think we know what’s going on, some bonkers new secret completely blows all previous theories out of the water.

The action moves between Tel Aviv and New York, and is focused on the grittier sides of both. As you can see from the trailer (below), there are plenty of scenes of violence — hand-to-hand, gun violence, car chases, etc — which is usually so not my thing, but the suspense here was just so fantastic that I couldn’t look away.

The acting is terrific. Lior Raz is all quiet menace and grief and aching emotional wounds. Moran Rosenblatt as Tali is tough and lovely — you haven’t lived until you see a pregnant bad-ass woman chasing down bad guys. Sanaa Lathan is also great as Naomi Hicks, an American journalist whose past friendship with Segev leads her beyond mere investigation and into personal involvement and risk.

Each of the nine episodes is packed with great acting, hefty action sequences, and twisty plot developments that always contain surprises that pivot the story in yet further new directions.

For anyone who has spent time in Israel, and especially for anyone who speaks Hebrew, the series is very fun to watch. I was on the edge of my seat during one particular car chase early on, when suddenly the cars were speeding down the Tel Aviv road my family uses to get to the beach during every visit! As for the language, the dialogue throughout shifts between Hebrew and English depending on where the scene takes place and which characters are involved. The subtitles are fine, and it’s easy to keep up — but if you speak Hebrew, hearing the slang and the conversational interchanges is especially entertaining.

One interesting thing about the subtitles, as explained by a producer:

It was U.S. Netflix, but we shot half of it in New York and half of it in Israel. All of the scripts were written in English and then the parts that were in Hebrew were translated at a certain point. We got Netflix approval, or their promise, early on that when it came time for subtitles we would go back to the original English scripts, even if it was translated differently in Hebrew, so that we could keep the integrity of the story. It took them a little while to get used to the idea of showrunners. But eventually, they came to respect that.

The full article this came from is really interesting, but it’s full of spoilers, so proceed with caution.

As of now, season 2 has not been officially announced by Netflix, but given that season 1 ends with a cliffhanger, I think it’s safe to assume that the show producers are counting on getting a second season. And given how much buzz this show is generating, as well as its trending status on Netflix, I’m feeling really hopeful!

I mean, they can’t just leave me hanging like that forever, can they?

Hit & Run won’t be everyone’s cup of tea — it definitely doesn’t fall into my usual go-to categories of being upbeat or light or sweet. I’m glad I ventured outside of my comfort zone for this one. If you can tolerate blood and violence, the ups and downs and twists of the story, not to mention the fascinating characters, make this a show that’s well worth checking out.