NextCard Visa

Episode Notes and Observations by Gale Dumont

Viva Las Vegas!

This week: The gang cuts loose as a Max/Michael bonding road trip turns into a field trip for eight to Sin City itself, Las Vegas. Except that this is The WB, so it's not so much Sin City as it is Amusingly-Suggestive-At-Times City, but that doesn't scan as well. Maria gets the starring role in Gratuitous Exposition Theater and doesn't even have to take off her clothes, Kyle kicks blackjack ass, and Alex pops up long enough to yell, "Hi! Still here!" Oh, and I still hate Michael. But you knew that already.

I really need to reprogram my VCR clock. It's too fast, and I think it's two of nine and I flip on the TV, and end up catching the last couple minutes of 7th Heaven. If I wanted to do that, I'd watch the damn show.

Come on! Start already! I'm aging over here!

If you haven't already downloaded the Behind the Scenes clip for VLV, you need to put this down and watch it, like, right now, if only for Jason's demon-y face. That so needs to be my new wallpaper.

You know what I hate? If you listen to the narrator and watch the way the promo's edited, the episode seems tense and a little dangerous. But if you go with the clips from the ep, it looks mostly funny. Please make up your damn minds. You're confusing the newbies.

Wow. No previouslys. And Maria gets to narrate, and has good hair. Go Majandra!

"I hate that picture." So do we, Majandra. Man. I don't miss first five eps hair at all.

Okay, I got a hold of an advance copy of the trailer and part of the first act, and they completely threw that Maria Explains It All scene in. Why, I don't know. I mean, yeah, funny, but it's also more than a little insulting to those of us who sit through the flipping show every week. I mean, WE KNOW. Max. Michael. Isabel. Tess. Aliens. Duh. You end the trailers with the four of them standing on that goddamn cliff-face every week; it's not like we're dealing with calculator math, here.

Michael's version of Max is kind of a kamikaze punk-ass. And we wonder why I don't like Michael? Oh, wait, we totally don't.

Oh, stop blubbering, Gravy Boy. It's just a nightmare about being murdered by what looks like government assassins. God. Big baby.

And now Max sleeps in *pants*? Dammit! Do you people not *hear* me? Boxers! Boxers and a wifebeater! Or no shirt! Or naked! "Pants" is nowhere in that equation.

"We need a plan." "Screw the plan! Let's just go!" The Difference Between Max and Michael In Ten Short Words, For Those Of You Just Joining Us.

Vegas isn't a city of dreams, Mikey. It's kind of scary. All those Elvises and lack of windows. And no coffee. Bastards.

Anne! Miranda! Look! It's the Nylon Shirt! Okay, probably not nylon, but the pecs are, like, right there.

And now Isabel has ARCC hair again. Y'all need to hire a continuity editor post-haste.

Kyle flipping paper at Michael's head: hee. Actually, Kyle as a whole is just a walking, talking, denim-wearing hee. It's kind of like Jason and cookies.

"Sorry. Aliens only. You understand." Oh my God. Oh my GOD. Don't *even* get me started, Guerin. We're not even past act one yet.

You know what? f**k it. Tess and Kyle are the second cutest things I've ever seen on this flipping show.

Majandra, you need to talk to whoever's in charge of your hair and wardrobe.

I'll give Maria this: nobody can spend money the way she can. Except for me in a decent-sized mall with a Sam Goody's and a Borders.

Hey! Liz and science lab!

Don't all of you have parents? Parents? The people who had sex to have you? Ringing any bells?

Majandra needs to quit it with the creepy head-whip thing when she's talking. If I wanted that, I'd pop a Farscape tape in and watch Gigi Edgley.

Pigs? These kids are juniors in high school. I dissected pigs when I was a sophomore. Hell, maybe they're still sophomores. This show. So confusing, some weeks.

"He did technically save the world from the crystals and everything." Well, so did Liz and Alex, and I don't see *them* getting an official alien invite.

Emilie should not have straight hair. Doesn't work on her. Kind of like a certain purple leopard-print tank top I could mention here. And look, I just did.

Shiri...oh my God, dear, you sing like me. In other words, badly.

Max's Principal Forrester impression. Okay, snicker. And for Mr. Straight Man, he does a pretty damn good job of coming up with an alibi for them. It's always the quiet ones, isn't it? (Sidebar: my friends and I were actually pretty damn boring in high school, and whenever we *did* get a wacky idea to do something not-entirely on the up-and-up, I always ended up coming up with the cover stories to tell parents and various authority figures. So on this, I know whereof I speak.)

Oh. My. God. That's ZZ Top's "Viva Las Vegas" playing. Miranda, Anne, shout-out! We were listening to that in this cute little irish pub in Titusville, and Miranda got to chair-dance.

Um, why isn't the bellboy wondering why they're all minors in a hotel in *Vegas* by *themselves*?

"Let's see about some in-house porno." Ah, Kyle. A man after my own heart, he is.

Michael has rules? Since then?

"Rob Roy and Dr. Love run alone." You just *know* Max is thinking, "Why the f**k am I stuck with *you*, Guerin? I could be getting drunk with Shirley and finding out if what they say about good girls cutting loose is true. Asshole."

"Didn't you hear the Doctor's orders?" Yeah, and here are *my* orders, Doctor Love: Suck it.

Liz, you panic like me. Okay, no, strike that. I don't panic around people in charge. I panic by myself, in a bathroom or something.

Isabel, how have you lived to be 18 and not known how to play blackjack? I knew how when I was in junior high.

And they say that AP classes never come into play in the real world. You go, Whitman.

"You took that one in the shorts."

"Oh, God, my heart hurts." Join the club, Alex. Now if only I could get this damn thing of Mudslides open...

Man. Michael *did* learn something from all those years with Hank, it seems.

Maria, ssh. The menfolk are gambling. And at least one of them is really, really cute doing it. Pssst. It's not Brendan.

"Some dumb Canadian slams into me with his merlot." Okay, not so much with the merlot, but the dumb Canadian? Watch your back, Fehr.

Okay, Traci, if you can hear this: crab and eggs don't really mix all that well. Especially not in Vegas, land of the buffet.

Maria, you have a great voice, but you're using your body *waaay* too much. Your voice is the instrument, not your hips.

I really like Alex's new hair. I forgot to mention that last week, but I do. It hides his already-receding hairline.

"You treat her like a lady!" Seconded!

"B.Y.O. G-string." Bwa ha! Okay, still don't like G&A, but we're getting there. It's kind of pissy that Maria and Michael are getting all the good lines, but at least we can figure out which writers are blatant Candygirls, now.

"Thanks for the sermon, Dad." Oh, Michael. Every time you talk you endear yourself to me less and less. Max, hit him!

Michael, they keep switching dice because they think you're rigging them. Dumb-ass. You don't annoy the Mafia. Don't you watch The Sopranos? Jeez.

"If we weren't so damn short" -- okay, I want that whole speech on a shirt. God knows I complain about it enough. And Anne basically said that same thing about Miranda getting carded at the liquor store Sunday afternoon, so shout-out again. One more, and I think we're entitled to a royalty check.

"Stuck in the party capital of the world with Liz Parker." No one's making you hang out with her! Doctor Love gave no instructions to that effect. Cause your *own* trouble, you sand-backed slut. (Oh, shut up. I've been reading spoilers. My Lamp Trimmer heart is getting all pissy. My Dreamer heart, for the record, is getting smashed and has no plans to sober up before the fifth of ever.)

"I don't enjoy being stuck here with you, either." Go Lizzie! Rock *on*!

"That's Dave." And Alex is right there. Man, you're just twisting the knife, aren't you?

Kyle, that wasn't Buddha. That was Kenny Rogers. You know, before he started roasting chickens. And there'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's done, thank you.

"My winnings, my money. Go away." Oh, I am loving me some Kyle.

AAAGH! And they're playing Dido *again* -- "Thank You". Well, no, not really, but I appreciate the sentiment.

Isabel, Michael's not a prince. Don't inflate his ego more than the writers already have this season. Pretty soon, he won't be able to walk out of rooms.

Honey, he thinks you're a stripper. Apparently, a stripper with really, good hair. But you're *acting* like a skank, so if the thong fits...

"Are we having fun yet?" Okay, G&A owe me money for that line. My dad and I use it roughly once a week.

Max, just hit him. Hit him. Hit. Him. And yet there's no hitting. Why is there no hitting?

Whoever shouted "shut up" at Michael should get a medal. I'll make it myself, even. God knows I do it every week. (Say "shut up", I mean. I'm not that great at metalwork.)

"Whatever." Hee. Say it, Evans.

"...Max is no fun." Yeah, but which one of you is gonna have a record before he's 21? (Okay, both of them. But Michael's been hauled in for actual questioning before, whereas Max was just slammed into a trailer.)

"In case you missed it, I got shot!" "I know! I healed you!" Um, guys? You're in *jail*. With *other people*. Who *aren't aliens*. Dial it down a little, huh? Dang.

Michael, for the love of upright walking god, stop talking. We are going to have words in a few pages, young man. Oh, are we ever.

Since when does Roswell have its own airport? It's not that big a town. No, really, it's not. They'd have to fly into a nearby town, then drive back to Roswell.

We're in act four, and Max and Michael have yet to beat each other bloody. I am all annoyed now.

"I just wanted to let you know I'm leaving." Yes. He's leaving Las Vegas. Can we quit it with the Sheryl Crow refs? Please? I will be a little puddle if anyone starts playing "We Do What We Can". Where's "The Na-Na Song" when you need it?

Liz, don't take the Elvis Chapel thing seriously. It was your idea, after all, along with that whole Romeo-and-Juliet awkward-comparison thing. (A famous play. About people eloping and committing suicide. Okay, so Parker's not an English major. Not that we ever confused her for one, but *man*.)

Dear Writers: That Max/Liz wedding thing had better be not-terribly-clever foreshadowing, or your firstborns get it. Love, Gale.

Ooh. Alex looks yummy. Maria looks good, too. Ooh, and Liz. She's got this case of dress-up bed-head going on, and it looks good on her. Unlike the Seventeen cover for this month. I swear, I think they try to choose promo shots that make Shiri look odd/weird/scary.

And then Michael goes and does something genuinely thoughtful and nice, and it screws up my internal Hate-O-Meter. f**k, Guerin. Don't make me like you. It's not going to work. No. No. That's a trick.

Man. Majandra looks *really* pretty. I think it's the make-up/lighting combo. And she can really, really sing, though I understand that torch songs aren't really her thing.

Kyle and Tess are dancing. They should be together and have cute, sassy sex and all sorts of double entendres. That way, Max and Liz can just hole up in his bedroom with a mini-fridge full of strawberries and chocolate and condoms and have themselves the best weekend *ever*.

So Max comes back to dance with Liz. Hear that sound? My heart snapping like a twig. f**kers. Manipulative, lousy f**kers. Oh, and he's in a suit! He's in a suit, and he's really pretty, and he looks good in dark colors, and who do I need to let f**k me to see them have sex and get together and stay together? Because I'll do it. So not kidding here, folks.

Oh, and Candy kissage. And this is different from the reason of the season *how*, exactly?

I am going to hug Jim for, like, six hours. See, it's moments like this that make me remember that oh, wait! he's a sheriff! And sometimes, you know, he does sheriff-y things. That don't, you know, involve falsifying records or committing misdemeanors on their behalf.

Maria, don't laugh at the man who (please, please, please) will one day be your stepfather. It's rude, and he'll bring it up every time you fight.

Man. Now Jim has eight kids. That has to suck ass for him. Me, I'm just giggling. Mainly because I'm not the one getting yelled at by Bill Sadler.

"Tess! Don't make me come back in there!" f**kers, man. G&A are f**kers for pulling this one out *now*.

Mmn. Starbucks *and* Jason with a rumpled seven-a.m. dress shirt. God, he's hot. This is ridiculous. We need to clone him, and we need to clone him now. I call firsties, though.

Okay, Max? Don't apologize to Michael. Never utter the words "it's my fault" when he's in earshot, because that will make him think that he hasn't done anything wrong, and he so completely, totally has. Every week.

Oh my God! I just got it! Michael is G&A's MarySue! Dude! They're *total* tools! This just proves it!

And then I sit back and watch Jason and Brendan walk companionably down the street with coffee and talking about Braveheart, and I realize that I'm smiling a little. f**kers. Manipulative f**kers. Damn, I'm saying that a lot this week, aren't I?


Well, I didn't go into this one expecting a great big honking amount of Dreamer happies, because A) it's second season, and B) it's Gretchen and Aaron, who seem to adore Michael Guerin more than should be medically allowed. So, you know, no big shock. The real surprise, though, was that this one didn't entirely suck -- no thanks to Michael.

Ah, Michael. People accuse me of being too hard on young Mr. Guerin, sometimes, and I don't think that I am. I yell at him as much as I do because he's usually being an asshole, and this week is no exception. First he up and drags Max to Vegas, leaving Senor Presidente to come up with an alibi (hey, Michael -- going missing? Not a good way to *avoid* attention), then he starts rigging dice (in *Vegas*. Didn't he ever see "Casino"?), and ends up in jail, and somehow, it's all Max's fault. Ohhhh. Of *course* it is, Mikey G. Because *he's* the one who refused to go quietly when he was asked, and *he* was the one who shoved a security guard, and *he* was the one who got your asses thrown in jail. Suuuure. Dude. You have serious control issues and your temper sucks eggs, and you're hearing this from someone whose own temper is about the size of your average pencil eraser. Cut the shit, Guerin. Grow up, 'cause there's a *lot* worse than this coming.

(Did that not seem as bitter to everyone else? I mean, it's kind of like talking to a deaf person who's facing away from you: pointless. Suffice it to say, if they were trying to make Michael more likeable with this ep, it bounced off my radar completely. He's still an asshole nine times out of ten, and that tenth time...well, that's a G&A issue. I'll get to that.)

And yeah, Michael, Max *is* like your dad -- because you *need* someone to stand back and rescue you from yourself. Max has had to be Michael's dad (and, to some extent, Isabel's) for the past eleven years; he's not just going to stop because you suggest a road trip. If that were true, "285 South" would have been an entirely different ep. What was said in that jail cell needed to be said; actually, I think more needed to be said, but there were time constraints. Plus, most of it would have to involve yelling at Michael, and it's not like G&A will let *that* happen.

The really pissy part, though? The really, *really* pissy part? Max apologizing to Michael. As soon as they started that up at the Starbucks, I rolled my eyes so hard I thought they were going to fall out of my skull. Max, listen to me: When you apologize to Michael, you make him think he hasn't done anything wrong, and he has. He's done quite a few things wrong, and it's entirely possible that you don't even know about some of them. The appropriate thing would have been to apologize for being so harsh in the jail cell, but *also* to gently call him on his shit. And you can do it; I know you can. But to just blanket apologize like that only makes Michael's head get bigger, which he completely does not need.

The Max/Liz stuff (all, oh, three scenes of it) was cute, but then, it's generally cute. I was depressed during the wedding flash -- Jason in a tux. Where do I send the check? -- but seeing Max show up and dance with Liz was making me sniffle. Which falls under the G&A mass complaint I'm working on, but I'm not complaining that much. Damn, that man looks really good in dark colors, doesn't he? Suit jacket thrown over the shoulder, top two buttons undone. Yummy. Now everyone else get out so he and Liz can get liquored up and mutually ruin their reputations.

Isabel was cute with the wedding dress and helping Tammy or whoever the hell the bride was, but there's something really, really wrong about going to Vegas to sleep with someone because the man in his mid-thirties whom you were kind of dating was killed by the queen of a colony of a genetically engineered alien bee crystals. I just can't put my finger on that. Oh, right: EVERYTHING. I wasn't digging SkankIzzy, and I don't need to see it again, thanks.

I'm very, very surprised that Kyle and Alex got into the casinos with their I.D.'s, but Liz and Tess didn't. Dude, you'll let in Harvey Wallbanger, but not Shirley Temple? And while you're at it, Michael, you couldn't have made up *actual* names for them instead of just drink orders? Suckass. And while we're at it, could someone tell me what, precisely, a Doctor Love is?

And speaking of Kyle and Alex, I am digging them so, so much right now. Kyle is just this little vice maching -- drinking from his own flask, winning sixteen hundred in the casino. You go, Buddha Boy. I giggle every time Nick's on-screen; I think it's a reflex now. If I can't jump Jason, I'd like to put my order in for Nick now. Colin was killing me, too, but in an entirely different way. Wish he'd been on-camera more, but at least he got to go on the trip, right? (And lose three grand in as many minutes. Dude. Sucks.) Majandra was very, very cool -- didn't do a hell of a lot, besides sing twice and be spunky, but singing aside, that's pretty much all she does any week, so what the hell. If nothing else, this will have taught her to read flyers and want ads a little closer. She's got a very nice voice; odds are good that I'll be at Best Buy when her CD comes out.

Tess and Liz don't get to do a hell of a lot this week, either. A couple of cute scenes with other people (not with each other; I'm not sure the two of them are ever going to get along), and I was giggling over the whole "we got carded because we're short" thing, but no real substance. This might be a good thing, what with the great big uglies we've got coming up in the next few eps. I am seriously tempted to get stinking drunk before I view *those*. Damn you, WB, for my impending alcoholism!

Ahem. Anyway. Not much for Emilie and Shiri, though I did find myself muttering "No one said you *had* to hang out with her, bitch" at Tess. This does not bode well for the future. I mean, for her.

And Bill. Oh, Bill. You're the freakin' man. Word. He's pissed off, and rightly so -- they did skip town, after all, and cross state lines, and Max and Michael got *arrested*, and Kyle missed detention, and there weren't even any genetically engineered alien bee crystals or men in black involved. They just wanted a day off -- which is all well and good, everyone needs a skip day, but we generally *stayed in the state* and didn't do a lot of underage gambling. Drinking, yes; gambling, no. All of a sudden, he's got eight kids, and he doesn't like that at *all*. I was snerking my way through his monologue. See, sometimes he's a good sheriff.

And now, Gretchen & Aaron. Oh, where to start.

If nothing else, it's now very easy to tell which writers love Brendan so much they might as well get shirts made. So47, which G&A also wrote, might as well have been subtitled "The NotMichael and NotMaria Show" -- *after* Kevin Kelly Brown told a bunch of people at the party last August that So47 was supposed to be a Dreamer ep. Uh-huh. Yeah. Pull the other one, Kev. It's the same problem a lot of viewers tend to have with Michael as a whole; they came in late, either halfway through last season or just with this year, and see Michael as the real hero of the piece. These are the same people who were going "Hey, she's right!" when Courtney advocated making Michael King; these are the people who keep calling Max a wuss or an asshole. And you know what, kids? You're getting the characters confused. *Max* is the good one. *Michael* is the asshole. Get. It. Straight.

(Aside to Candygirls: Look. I'm not trying to cause trouble. I'm not. For most of last season -- okay, half of last season -- I liked Michael. I did. I think part of it was the hair, but it was also because he seemed to genuinely give a damn about stuff sometimes. He cared about what Maria thought of him, and while he might not have always gotten along with Liz, he tried not to be too rude to her because she's important to Max and Maria. He was vulnerable, though generally only around Maria (and Max and Isabel, but nowhere near as often), and, on the whole, you could see that his whole don't-touch-me-I'm-a-stonewall thing was just that -- an act. Somewhere along the line, though, it started to break down. This season, with a few notable exceptions (around Maria, as of late, and when he was offering to help Isabel with her killing-Whittaker trauma in "Surprise"), he's just generally been an asshole. He keeps saying that Max should move on away from Liz -- the unspoken end of that sentence being "toward Tess" -- but has made no move to give up Maria for *his* "betrothed", Isabel. He's universally rude to Liz, who's having a shitty year, and seems bound and determined to argue with Max simply for the sake of having an argument, which is detrimental to the group as a whole. If he felt bad about treating Maria like shit and macking with Courtney, he hasn't shown it to *anyone*. He ignores Kyle and Alex unless he absolutely has to acknowledge them, and while it's a bit OT, he needs a f**king haircut. That brushed-flat Monkees shit makes my eye twitch.

So. While I want to like Michael -- and I genuinely do -- I just *can't*. Not this season. Hence the vitriol. If that offends you, I'm sorry, but I'm not sorry for saying it. Someone needs to. End aside.)

And then, just as I'm settled into my hatred, Michael goes and does something genuinely nice and gets Maria to sing. It's a nice, sweet, touching moment, and I was so pissed off by it I almost couldn't speak. That's cheating. That's pulling one out of your ass with two seconds to spare, and it pisses me off, and it pisses me off even more that it worked and I awwwed at what he'd done. It's called manipulating the audience, and I've already had to sit through it this season with the de-skanking of Tess (and not to spoil y'all, but that de-skanked Tess? Don't get used to her), and I'm *still* pissed off that I'm buying her and Kyle. But I am. I *am* buying Kyle and Tess as a couple, which means I don't hate her as much, and I went "awww" when Michael arranged for Maria to sing, and I hated myself for both reactions, because it means that some part of me is still susceptible to what TPTSuck are pulling. I was getting pissed off at the "Tess! Don't make me come back in there!" and the Jason/Brendan walking-away-from-the-camera scene, because I was smiling during those, too, but not as much as at the Michael/Maria thing. God*damn* me. And goddamn you, too, G&A, for not letting me make this a clean break. Darth, if you loved me, you'd hire Jan Oxenberg to restore some balance.

Total: 4 stars out of 5. A nice shift in tone from THC, and no one said "granilith" once, which I appreciate, and I got to see Max and Liz in wedding clothes *and* dress-up clothes, followed by RumpledJason getting coffee at 7 a.m. Plus, I think I might have tacked on a fraction of a point for the Behind the Scenes clip. (Seriously. If you haven't already, go view it with Quicktime, like, *now*, if only for Jason's demon-y face. Worth the wait.) Oh, hell. Call it 4.3 out of 5.

Next week: Nothing. Well, no, "Harvest", but it might as well be nothing with the Michael-worshipping and the Skins and the sniffly middle-of-the-street scene. See you back here at the end of March for "Off the Menu". Good month off, y'all. Go out and do something fun.