Episode Notes and Observations by Gale Dumont

Control

Written by Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts
Directed by Bill Norton

This week: While Max is in sunny California investigating Joey Pants (Joey Pants!) and getting his Royal Asshole on, Isabel is reassuring the home viewing audience that it is, in fact, All About Her. And through it all is one constant, like a beacon in the distance guiding me home: a deep and abiding hatred for Gretchen & Aaron. Join me, won't you?

Ok, so for those of you who don't know, Orlando's UPN station sucks ASS to the point of being unable to sit comfortably in a chair. No, really. I didn't get a chance to see Buffy (the Musical!) or this week's Roswell until *Saturday night*. Saturday, people. You're not making me love you any more, Orlando.

All of which is a very roundabout way of saying that this is going to be a note-free week, heading straight for the observations. So let's get going, shall we?

OBSERVATIONS:

See, you can tell it's a Gretchen & Aaron ep because Max was annoying me more than usual. They just don't like him, do they?

(Sidebar: Jason's stunt double is really having to work for his paycheck this year, isn't he? Getting thrown around a Hollywood mansion every time Joey Pants looks at him funny. Man. I'd ask for a raise.)

In this space, I would normally comment on Jim & Kyle's actions and/or behaviors, had they actually been in the episode. As they weren't, feel free to use this time to do something else, like ponder the mysteries of life. Or maybe just get something to eat.

In *this* space, I would normally comment -- ok, not comment so much as violently rant -- on Michael and Maria's actions for this week, but they...they didn't annoy me that much. I in no way attribute this to the characters wising up and realizing they've been acting like assholes and reforming their behavior; rather, I blame it on Gretchen & Aaron, who clearly are rampant FAAAANGIRLS. Which is nice and all, but not if you're being professional. I'm rather bitter that Michael wasn't entirely annoying this week -- I actually said that while watching. Twice. And while I'm glad Maria's left the pissy-best-friend bandwagon she seems to have leapt on this season, I still can't say it's because she realized she was being a bitch to Liz. It's allll G&A, people, and they're getting their *own* complaint section in a bit, don't worry.

That said, not to get all spoilery on y'all, but...well, let's just say that I am rubbing my hands together and cackling in anticipatory glee over what happens in a few weeks' time. Nope, not spoilery at all.

Isabel. Jesse. Say it with me, people: I still don't care. Jesse's in all of one scene. Man, he *must* be important. Seriously. I think Adam Rodriguez has moved into the spot previously filled by Colin Hanks: Guy Who Loves Isabel But Doesn't Get Much Air Time. And Colin did it better, too. And as for Isabel...Jesus, someone needs to hit her with a stick and tell her that it's *not*, in fact, All About Her. Honey, you get a special day, not a special *season*. I know you're upset that your mom isn't taking it better than she is, but you're 18 and you're marrying a 26-year-old lawyer who you've been seeing for four months (and in secret, no less). You don't seem too concerned about whether or not you'll continue your college education after you get married, and you don't seem to care about the people in your life enough to tell them about Jesse before the two of you got engaged. You manage to insult Liz and Maria while asking them to be bridesmaids ("since the two of you are the closest thing I have to girlfriends" -- ohhh, be very, very glad you didn't say that to me, Isabitch), and have *Maria* tell Michael that you're getting married. Max wouldn't even *know* if Diane hadn't called and told him, and he's your *brother*; not that you care about him, of course, what with the calling and telling him you and Michael "disapprove" of his trip to California. (Notice how we never hear from Michael on that topic? Yeah, me too.) If you really wanted to be normal, you wouldn't basically bully a guy eight years older than you into proposing, nor would you be marrying him less than a *month* after he "asks" you. And, y'know, not to agree with Michael here or anything, but you can't be normal. YOU'RE AN ALIEN. It's not like you're saying you'll forsake your powers once you become Isabel Ramirez; you dreamwalked him not two weeks ago, for chrissakes, and from all indications, like Michael said (I'm agreeing with him again. Help me), he's gonna figure out that something's a bit wonky on the wedding night. Gah. In lieu of flowers, I'll be sending cow pies. I hate her. HATE HER.

But I still don't care.

Joey. Pants. RULES. I will hear no arguments on this subject. Not one. He's everything you could ever want in a protector of the Antarian royal family: snarky, sarcastic, and not terribly fond of the people he was sent to protect. Kodak Gold!

Ok. Um. Seriously, he rules. Kal is perfectly happy to be doing what he's doing, and good for him; he's not curing cancer or purifying the air, but he *is* entertaining people, and it's not out of the realm of possibility, judging from some of his comments, that he would never have even had the opportunity to do something like that back on Antar. He's only smelled chlorine and lemons *once*, people. He envies us for what we *can* feel -- and that internal organs line? Ew. Ewwww. Remind me to be glad Nasedo never lived long enough to leave a corpse behind.

Also, the command thing pretty much blows giant, ship-sinking holes in Tess's story about Nasedo making a deal 40 years ago. It would stand to reason that *all* of the Royal Four have the ability to command their protectors, so if Tess really didn't want to go through with the deal Nasedo made, all she would have had to do would be to tell him to back out of it. Which...if Darth set it up this way on purpose (and don't think for a minute that I actually believe he did; it's just a possibility, that's all), could be very, very cool. Feel free to shove *that* in the faces of any and all Tess-lovers you know. I know I will.

Liz finally manages to stand up to Max and tell him off...and promptly crumples like a hothouse flower. In her defense, Max is crying against her chest. I talk tough, and I'd still be pissed at him, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't comfort him as best I could. I wouldn't mind if I got a few weeks of MildlySnippy!Liz, but I won't be surprised if I don't see it, either. Also, whoever decided to start dressing Liz like Nelly Furtado (heavy blush, big-ass J-Lo hoop earrings) should be slapped. I mean, yeah, makeup is nice, but it doesn't need to be applied with a trowel. There needs to be a happy medium between this year (clearly, Liz is preparing herself for sex with Max by dressing more provocatively [and that's a quote from one of the wardrobe people, not me]) and first season (look! look at Liz in her too-big sweaters!). Something that allows for the occasional belly shirt *and* sweaters -- because, hi, it's New Mexico, it gets cold at night.

Dear Max: honey, we know it's not entirely your fault. It's mostly Gretchen & Aaron's, because they wrote this ep, and they hate you for some reason I can't quite fathom. People are going to be blaming you, though, and we should probably address *why* they'll be blaming you. First, you were kind of an asshole to Kal. He obviously didn't want to help you, and you forced him to do it against his will -- kind of like rape, actually. (Which, ironic, considering how G&A were basically raping *you* this week.) Second, you didn't seem to have any problem blowing off everyone (read: Liz) to go home and rescue your son, even though you were there when Rath explained to Tess that space is, in fact, very very big, and it's not like you can go from Antar to Earth (or vice versa) the same way you can pop over to Safeway and get some manicotti for dinner tomorrow night. Third, you seem hellbent on rescuing this kid, which means you haven't taken into account that by the time you actually *get* to Antar (since it won't be this week), he might not *want* to be rescued. God knows what Khivar and Tess are telling him about you, but odds are, they're not going into glowing detail about what a great guy his dad is. You need to sit down and figure that when you *do* finally see him, it's gonna be a worst-case scenario. You need to prepare for that, Max, and if you don't you're gonna meet him on the fields of Camlann, and he's gonna be backed by an assload of Picts and ready to destroy Camelot, and all because you've never read Sir Thomas Malory. Which is very, very sad, but before you manage to throw Excalibur back to the Lady of the Lake, don't tell me you weren't warned, because you were.

That said, it's *not* entirely your fault that the Antichrist is gone. Part of the blame is yours, yeah, for laying down with the skank and knocking her up, but let's face it: *some* kind of mind whammy had to be involved, because you were acting really fucking weird that whole week after Alex was killed, and I don't give a shit *what* Kevin Kelly Brown and Aaron have to say on the subject. Part of the blame is Liz's, for keeping up that you-need-to-be-with-Tess charade, and Future Max's, for coming up with such a dumb-ass plan in the original timeline. Most of the blame, however, rests with Tess, who played all of y'all like country fiddles; she gets major Evil Bitch points for that, but it also cranks up my desire to see someone (read: Liz) impale her through the torso with a metal beam and end her life once and for all. Saying it's entirely your fault kind of lets everyone else (coughTESScough) off the hook, and that's not right. Accept responsibility for your part in the fiasco -- namely, letting Tess leave the planet alive -- and do something to correct it that *doesn't* involve forcing people to do things against their will or treating your girlfriend like a chess pawn. "I'll never leave you" is a nice start; go from there. And listen to what Kal had to say about losing yourself the more you use your alien side. I think he knows this stuff a bit better than you do. 'Kay? We done here? Good. Now go get something to eat. And bring back the scruffy hair, Feria highlights and all. It was greatly missed this week.

(Sidebar: how utterly not-at-all-surprised were you to hear that Antar-Zan was kind of an asshole? I'd been assuming that from some of the things that had been implied, but it's always nice to find out that I'm right.)

And Now, A Friendly Note For Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts:

Look. I know you like Michael and Maria. I know that. I figured it out fairly early last season, as did everyone else. You like them. Bully for you. They're not my cup of tea, but YMMV. But you, as professional writers, have apparently not figured out what I, as a non-professional writer, got into my head years ago: stick with the basics. You like Michael and Maria? Great. Bully for you. I, myself, am not overly fond of them, and I know damn well that if I wrote Michael, he'd pretty much always be an asshole. I have, however, found a way around this dilemma: I DON'T WRITE MICHAEL. I also don't write Maria all that often, though she does pop up as Liz's best friend, which, y'know, canon says she is.

Apparently, you don't like Max. You also, apparently, don't like Liz. That's fine. Diversity makes the world turn, after all. However, as a *professional* writer, you have an obligation to the audience to treat every character fairly. You don't like Max? Great. DON'T WRITE MAX. Seriously. There are, by my count, at least six other writers on the show. Russell & Garrett, as evidenced by last week, seem to do a pretty good job; and while I bitch and moan about Darth (God, do I ever), he wrote one of the best episodes of this show *ever*, "End of the World". You don't have to volunteer to do a job that you know you'll hate and wind up taking it out on the characters; if it's offered to you, turn it down. And if you *do* have to write it, try to take it seriously and not cackle as you make Max an asshole because, hi, you're ADULTS. This is your JOB. It's not playtime. Making Max act like an asshole does nothing for your ratings, and since you work in TV, they're sort of important. From what I saw during the ep, there were a few moments were Max seemed downright gleeful at the prospect of making Kal do whatever he wanted, to the point of villainy. He seemed to have no problem blowing Liz off to (possibly) leave the planet. He didn't even really seem like himself until Kal told him off at the end (and yeah, that's a motif with the two of you: Other Characters Taking Max Evans To School About What An Asshole He Is. It's juvenile and stupid and sloppy. Cut it out), and until he broke down in Liz's arms. And don't think I didn't catch Maria being all supportive and the best friend *ever*, and holding up her relationship with Michael as an example of what Liz should be doing, which is sort of funny, because the nightmares of Michael and Maria's Dysfunctional Adventure have been documented elsewhere and actually serve as a better example of what NOT to do in a relationship. Stick to what you're good at, or if I ever get the chance to meet you both in person, I won't just take you aside for a few friendly words of advice; I'll punch you in the face, and won't be a bit sorry.

Sincerely, Someone Who Hates You At This Very Moment

P.S. If you could kindly tell Darth to cut out the Romeo & Juliet references, I'd appreciate it. Seriously, didn't these kids read the damn play? Pretty much every high school *everywhere* makes you read it freshman year. Or maybe they just don't remember that Romeo & Juliet *don't survive the play*. Also, Juliet was 14, and Romeo was kind of fickle. Find another historical couple to use as a reference point. Jeez.

Final "my son" (MS) count: seven. Eight, if you count the one in the previouslys, and I'd prefer not to as it just drives up the total.

Characterization rape aside, a solid episode, if not as good as the one before it. Which makes sense, because very rarely is the follow-through as good as the set-up. Definitely worth rewatching, if only for Joey Pants (Joey Pants!) and watching Max promise Liz he's not going anywhere. Niiiiice.

Next week: You are cordially invited to the wedding of Isabel "Utter Self-Absorbed Bitch" Evans to Jesse "Unibrow" Ramirez. RSVP is not required, but a handkerchief to discreetly yawn into is. Special guest star: Whoever They Hired To Play Khivar. Oops. Was that a spoiler? Find out, in "To Have and To Hold".

Gale