Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“Angel”)

Season 1, Episode 7
Date of airing: April 14, 1997 (WB)
Nielsen ratings information: 3.4 million viewers, 2.3/4 in Households

In a way, this was a fascinating episode. For once it was not just an hour about a random supernatural villain Buffy needed to defeat, and instead it became an hour that focused on her emotions only. Going personal with the character seven episodes into the show is almost a miracle, but when that same show managed to incapacitate the titular hero in its third hour, then this episode cannot be described as a miracle any longer. After all, BUFFY THE VAMPIE SLAYER is already breaking some established television rules here, and even if the first season happened to be extremely aged and sometimes really silly and theatric, there are moments that still shine through and make these twelve episodes memorable.

That Angel would turn out to be a vampire brings a nice little twist into the premise. Like her friends and Giles told her, she is the vampire slayer, and slayers kill vampires. Her relationship with Angel is now defined by her fate, and by the uniqueness that is Angel’s back story, which has nicely turned into a metaphor on alcoholism. No one will know how the two love birds will react towards each other’s jobs and duties, and everyone is going to expect that Angel will turn bad at some point, giving Buffy one hell of a physical and emotional fight when it comes to that (and be sure that it will come to that, as it is a premise the writers just gifted to themselves). And bringing all that into the show midway through the already shortened season, it would have given the writers an opportunity to do something else with the show than just going into randomized supernatural entities who needed a fresh and hard beating by a sixteen-year-old blond high school wannabe cheerleader. Also, with Angel having been given the back story of a curse (which is like finding God and Jesus right before you decide to never touch a drop of alcohol again and live a sober life, follow the Twelve Steps, and so on), he becomes the only character arc in the show having been given additional and meaningful, useful character depth that could make the rest of the season less bad and silly, since Buffy and Angel will have to deal with each other’s emotions and affection now, all while fearing each other at the same time.

Angel’s thirst for real blood is ruining his relationships with other people.

The reveal of Angel’s back story and status was generally fantastic and intriguing. The Three were hunting the two, and Buffy, almost subconsciously, screams at Angel to get into her house, overriding the supernatural rule that vampires cannot enter unless invited in. One might not even think about Angel being anything less than the sexy hot hunk Buffy craves straight into her bed, but after Angel’s true face showed itself, thinking back to the beginning of the episode, and Angel being invited into the house, I would almost have to show all kinds of respect to the writers for pulling off that surprise stunt. Even more, who knows if there was garlic in the plateless dinner Buffy brought Angel, but because it was in a zip-locked bag, the garlic did not affect Angel at all. This is how you write television, y’all.

Darla was also an interesting villain here, and her relationship with Angel brought nice fire into the story, even if I would have expected a lot more than just Darla trying to groom Angel to come back again and work behind the curtains with the Master. If Darla and Angel really had this affection for each other in the past, I would have expected more emotion and drama coming from the two — okay, maybe more from Angel because he has the soul, and less from Darla because she is just the villain, but I got the feeling that the writers did not know back then whether to give Angel and Darla that back story and overcomplicate his relationship with Buffy with Darla in existence, or to just leave it at that and have Darla get killed off. I am almost sure it was too easy for the writers to not care about Darla, since she was slated to be slayed during the climax of this episode anyway.

Darla is Lara Croft-ing it in the Bronze.

Meanwhile, this episode also showed that the first season of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER feels rather aged. Yes, the morph effect of Angel’s face was typical for cheap 1990s television (especially for a show with an extremely low budget), but that thing with Darla and her Lara Croft-esque shooting style in the Bronze was too funny to be considered serious and tense, especially since she had two guns aimed at Buffy, who was directly in front of her, but she could not hit her. Darla was not just a 90s TV villain here, but also a Stormtrooper with guns that did not need reloading. Well, at least it was unintentionally funny, giving the show the unintended charm it developed two decades after the fact. But missing Darla I will not after the funny exit she got. After all, she never came over as a serious villain in all the screentime she got before she was dusted by Angel.

Sunnydale Mortality Rate: No human has died in this episode. I am a little shocked myself. The total remains at 15, and the rate goes down a little, and is now at 2.14.
Hellmouth Mortality Rate: Five vampires said goodnight before and during this episode, with one of them killed by Buffy, three by Darla, and one by Angel. The lone Buffy kill happened before this episode began, since it started with the Master’s words “Zachary didn’t return from the hunt last night.” Darla killed the three warrior vampires, and Angel got rid of Darla. And because Buffy killed her vampire before the events of this episode, this must be one of the rare BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER episodes without an on-screen kill by Buffy when they were in fact kills during the episode. This is also the second episode since “Witch,” in which Buffy did not kill a monster on-screen (one would assume she also did not kill anyone in “The Pack,” but she was quite guilty of the zookeeper getting eaten by hyenas, even if I would not count it towards her kill count). 18 monsters and vampires have been slayed so far, the rate is at 2.57.

Wizards of Waverly Place (“You Can’t Always Get What You Carpet”)

Season 1, Episode 6
Date of airing: November 10, 2007 (Disney Channel)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.306 million viewers with Kids 2-11, 1.884 million viewers with Kids 6-11, 1.879 million viewers with Tweens 9-14, 1.110 million viewers with Teens 12-17

You do not always see behind-the-scenes footage during the end credits scene of a sitcom, but apparently the Disney Channel was telling the producers to do so, because the executives might have been scared that some nine-year-olds watching WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE would try to fly a carpet and fall out of a window to die instead. Okay, it is a lesson that needs to be taught in a country in which the intellect does not seem to rise with age (hence today’s Trumpism), but I was a bit amused about the message between the lines when the greenscreen scene was shown during the credits, telling the audience that the carpet-flying scenes were all fake and if you really want to fly a flying carpet, you need a greenscreen and some machine that makes the carpet move. Still, behind-the-scenes footage during end credits scenes could actually be a nice gimmick for whichever sitcom brings it first, or second, since LIZZIE MCGUIRE brought something similar first, even if it was not really behind-the-scenes stuff and instead just one or two bloopers. Granted, you most likely kill another minute of storytelling and viewers might change the channel already, but I always wanted to see more of how shows are produced, whether it is just a simple CG scene, or maybe even a fight sequence, or just the good old blooper reel.

Alex, do not play with your life support!

The episode was okay. I did not care a lot about what was actually going on in this episode, although I have to say that the father/daughter relationship between Jerry and Alex was interesting to look at. Her puppy face was pretty cute and the fact that he fell for it was amusing, but the writers could have done a little ore with the premise of a father being scared that his daughter is growing up to be an adult, soon moving out of the nest and leaving the parents home alone. That part of the premise was not even in the episode (because it really was just about Jerry being scared to teach Alex a grown-up thing, realizing that his little girl won’t be so little forever), but it would have made this half hour much better and more emotional. But hey, WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE just had its first real parent/child moment after six episodes (granted, this episode was produced as the pilot), and I was impressed, albeit only slightly. I am getting the feeling the show is getting a tiny bit better with each episode, but only during one scene, and only when some of the premise is being utilized.

Meanwhile, the writers also realized that they could play on the siblings relationship a little bit. Seeing Alex ask for Justin’s help was new to me, even for a show that’s only six episodes old, but it was an equally nice moment of seriousness and realness in the episode, and those are moments I want to see more of. It is also nice to see that WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE is another sitcom, in which the siblings actually love and appreciate each other, even if they pulling pranks. By the way, why was the premise of Alex and Max pranking their older brother not the main comedy pull of the episode? Come on, prank storylines are always funny as hell, no matter how idiotic the pranks are. There better be an entire episode about this in the near future, especially after the writers have established now that they do in fact pull pranks on each other.

Is it a weapon or just a toy for Max?

The funniest moment of the episode was the punch Justin received in his balls. Sometimes, white men just need to be punched for no good reason, to be reminded that they cannot just walk around life expecting to get anything they want. In this case: waking up Alex in the middle of the night without getting crap for it. Please, more of that. And I mean ball-punching in general. When I read one more time that men dip their balls in hot sauce to find out if they can taste it, all while the same men also write laws that governs women’s bodies, I will riot.

Star Trek: Picard (“Remembrance”)

Season 1, Episode 1
Date of release: January 23, 2020 (CBS All Access)

I am not a Star Trek nerd, I am more of a Marvel fanboy, but here I am, having been constantly made aware of Jean-Luc Picard’s return into the fold of a television show centered on him, which brought me to watch the premiere episode on the day of its arrival, instead of waiting half a decade because I still need to watch the entire franchise history first before I throw my hands into a television show that demands the knowledge of a lot of Trek history. But to my surprise it turns out I did not need that much back story knowledge, since I have watched enough of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION to know about the importance of the friendship between Picard and Data, and I have watched J.J. Abrams’ 2009 version of STAR TREK enough times to recognize that the Romulan supernova this episode was talking about was taken from the movie, which means the original timeline of Star Trek never stopped after the star exploded and Nero and Spock flew into the past to set up the Kelvin timeline. There is an idea behind STAR TREK: PICARD, and that idea may be the advancement of the premise that there is a time after the Romulan supernova, and that two different Star Trek timelines can co-exist, maybe even clash at one time or merge together in a multi-universe event. J.J. Abrams re-invented Star Trek for a new generation and he dropped all the heavy back story to make it easier for that new generation to discover the franchise. Does STAR TREK: PICARD now begin and lead the hard work to undo said dropping of the back story and unite the two timelines?

At this point the exclusive interview was still going good.

This is what I was thinking about after watching the first 43 minutes. And even if the writers decide not to have two different timelines clash together in what could be an exciting season (or two) of streaming television, this episode certainly did a lot of work to deliver a premise that does not need to rely on the Kelvin timeline in the distance. Between the finale of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, the film STAR TREK: NEMESIS, which I barely remember, and the events around the Romulan supernova, the writers created not only a timeline that established a continued presence of Starfleet’s flagship Enterprise and its adventures, and Picard had an action-packed life after the film series ended in 2002. Those events alone are worth a film or two and I certainly would not mind to see said events around Picard’s rescue attempts and the Synthetics’ attacks on Mars in flashback scenes (or even entire episodes), simply because those events sound too heavy and important to just be stamped and filed away under B for “back story.” “Show, don’t tell” is a phrase used often by writers and teachers when it comes to screenwriting, and while the interview with Picard during the first act certainly showed glimpsing images about the Mars attacks, having it play out in a narrative, in which characters serving on the Enterprise can be depicted on-screen and the cast of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION can shine for a few minutes (of course only with de-aging visual effects, which Paramount must have had the money to spring for, because why the hell not?) will excite fans of the old television show and the franchise and may bring the additional wow factor into the narrative. Sometimes, cool images can help you past the fact that the story is a convoluting mess — STAR TREK: PICARD does not have such a story yet (confusing your audience is hard to do after only one episode), but judging the initial premise, the writers could easily run into a corner.

Because what really is the show about? Apparently it goes through the aftermath of the Romulan supernova, which apparently had an effect on the Mars attacks, which led to Starfleet turning slightly evil, which brought Picard to realize whom he really was working for, which in turn led to his “downfall” within Starfleet, all while he was still perceived to be the “Great Man” in public. In the meantime, Data was in a lot of back story in-between shows and movies and his code was used to create a perfect Synthetic. It turns out to be a young girl with Jason Bourne-like action moves who does the Black Widow leg scissoring, and who also had the image of Picard imprinted in her memory. On the other side of the galaxy, Romulans are cleaning up the mess of the supernova (apparently) and as the camera pans out we see a space station that looks eerily similar to a Borg cube, and we all know that the Borg were the most famous enemies of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, as well as a big influence on Picard’s life after he was assimilated in one of the hottest episode and season cliffhangers of twentieth-century television. Hell, it even led to a feature film, so it would only be obvious that the writers of the Picard-centric television drama would use the Borg back story to define Picard’s new adventure. So let’s put it all together: a Romulan supernova, Romulan assassins, Mars attacks, Synthetics are out and forbidden, a perfect Synthetic does still exist though, the Borg, Starfleet that does not give a damn about universal life, and the Kelvin timeline hovering in the far far back for a potential merger. That is quite a lot to handle, and one can only hope the writers knew what to focus on and where to bring the premise.

Outrun the laser guns!

Visually speaking, the show looks fine. Patrick Stewart makes for a good senior action hero, and his band of merry friends, as far as they will be part of his mission to save the universe (and according to the preview he has not even met some of his crew), could turn out to be solid supporting characters, if they ever get back story for me to care about them and their survival throughout the show’s run. The special effects looked proper for a streaming television show of the second decade of the twenty-first century and I appreciated that the entire episode was not just a way for Paramount and CBS to show its audience that they do not think they only need to care about quantity over quality. The few action set pieces that enriched the premiere were also of note, as they continue current directors’ approach to a more spectacular way of hand-to-hand combat, in which not necessarily the fists are important to win a fight with, but also the ability to wrap your legs around your enemy and throw them down a flight of stairs. Paul Greengrass and the Bourne film series really paved the way here, as the action of the sequels continue to inform future Hollywood productions. Will STAR TREK: PICARD inform the future of its franchise in return?

Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (Episode 6295)

Season 2020, Episode 9
Date of airing: January 13, 2020 (RTL)

The sixth episode of my revival of GUTE ZEITEN, SCHLECHTE ZEITEN have passed by and I might have stumbled upon a great story that I wished I would have watched from the beginning. I know that the assault on John and Shirin happened in the December episodes, which I already had access to, but for some reason I decided not to watch them full and instead just decided to skip through some of them, with the assault being one of the scenes I stuck with, due to the tense nature of it. But now that I know this was all part of a right-wing extremism story in which John is about to say goodbye to his sweet life (probably not though, because I do not think a central character for two decades’ worth of stories is going to get a bullet in the head right when I started watching the show again — that would be too coincidental), I would have loved to see that story develop from the beginning and see it through to the end. Even if John dies now, that does not mean this will be the end of the story, as the murder of a central character could lead to multiple weeks of dealing with the aftermath, both emotional and legal. But because I expect for John to get out of Lars’s apartment as a living German, that also does not mean this will be the end of the right-wing extremism story. After all, John came to look for evidence and the police, through Toni who has been identified as a cop so that I know for sure know what her job is, still has to investigate the assault and arrest all the suspects. This should be a story that continues for a few more weeks, and as it happened, this episode brought it to a nice high. John with his drawn weapon in the bath tub, Lars taking a piss (the Nazi did not wash his hands afterwards, which I guess is a thing Nazis do), and John’s phone in the living room ringing… Yes, there was tension in the plot, and yes, it does the show some good when it depicts a story with a clear villain and a protagonist with some emotional issues (post-traumatic stress and all). Having such a story to go through while reasserting myself with the show after not having watched it for two decades is helpful to convince me to keep watching. The same was the case with GENERAL HOSPITAL, which threw me into a serial killer storyline during the first weeks of 2019.

The daddy is eyeing his daughter and his best friend, also known as her lover.

Meanwhile, there was an issue with an old-timely car Robert was looking for to drive to his wedding with, but for whatever reason he could not get one. Probably because he figured he does not need to pre-order a car months in advance (although I have no idea when he made Nina his fiancee and how long the wedding has been planned), probably because there is no car dealership in Berlin and surrounding Brandenburg who could deliver Robert a car, which by itself is very suspect and convenient for the narrative. I did not care much about the car troubles, but they did look like they were just a front to get to Robert’s difficulties with Felix, the boyfriend of his daughter who also happened to be his friend and (former) best man. That was a good way to introduce me to Felix and Brenda and the relationship between them and her father (it is fitting that the first time I hear of and see about these characters, the writers immediately explained their relationships with another to me), but it was also something of a weird story. I guess Robert should have expected for his very attractive daughter to acquaint herself with one of his very attractive friends if both happened to be single, because this kind of attraction is what brings people together in the first place. What I saw after only one episode is that Robert’s pride is damaged, although I have no idea why. Brenda did speak herself straight into my heart though with this episode: The moment she told her father that she has sex with Felix because she wants to made me like this person immediately.

Standoff in a Nazi apartment!

Then there was Leon who is still dealing with Nina being in his life and in his apartment. Accidentally dropping into the women trying on the wedding dress was slightly funny, but Leon making a potential mess out of the wedding dress with the zipper was super idiotic. Not only was this a super convenient way to keep Leon in his emotional mess with Nina, now that he is about to ruin her dress, but the way the writers have been hammering the story of Leon destroying Nina’s wedding with Robert with his existence and constant advances makes my head hurt. As if the writers have not figured out whether or not to go through with the wedding, trying to find a way to blow up the festivities before they even begin. First Leon and Nina’s kiss, then Robert’s unsuccessful search for a good car, and now the wedding dress in a zipper. This wedding is doomed.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (“The Pack”)

Season 1, Episode 6
Date of airing: April 7, 1997 (WB)
Nielsen ratings information: 3.6 million viewers, 2.4/4 in Households

This was somewhat of an entertaining episode, but also somewhat of a weird episode. I do not quite know what to think of it, because it the good and the weird moments were on the scale, trying to find out which one is more worth in weight. I found it to be a good episode due to its focus on Xander and his relationship with his female friends, but I found it a weird episode due to the hyena group dynamic between Xander and his bully friends and how it went a little farther than just being the supernatural adaptation of real-life groups in high school who like to torment classmates than being good students and aspiring college graduates. It was a good episode, because the writers decided to make one of the good guys turn bad (it is an essential premise for any genre show) and because it tackled rape culture, albeit through the hyena premise only. It was a weird episode, because I could not buy the in-show magic surrounding the hyenas. It seemed too convenient that the hyena with the cheap yellow cat eyes possessed the kids, and it seemed too easy for the zookeeper to get that power for himself, just by screaming out a sentence while standing on a sign and holding a knife at Willow’s throat. The mixture of bully and rape culture with the hyena magic seemed to go off the rails every once in a while and it made for a questionable viewing experience.

Do not fear, the hyenas are here!

But Xander had to carry almost the entire episode, which was fun to watch. From being the open-mouthed, yet stupid high school teenager with a crush on Buffy and every other attractive teenager in an adult body (1980s to 90s high school dramas…) to the guy who could get any women in the world, if the hyena curse would not have gotten in the way — that was quite the transformation, and if this show would not have been so episodic during its first stages, maybe Xander would have learned something from this experience, maybe even knew how to get a girlfriend simply by pulling off a “bad behavior” for a few seconds. I loved how Xander was still true to himself, even while possessed by a hyena, and went after the person of his affection. Which makes me ask: Was Xander really possessed, or did he just have a little too much hyena in him while his true self was still inside him, acting out his purest desires? Because what I understand from “possession,” Xander should have been pretty much gone by the time the possession has progressed to an extreme level, and his crush towards Buffy would not have been an issue for the hyena that was possessing Xander. It is an interesting question to ask, and the answer could take away some of the magical realism of the show and turn back to being a grounded high school teen drama with supernatural elements (which I prefer).

The metaphors of the episode were good. First of all, it is important to show that bullying is always a topic in high school, even when the show the topic is portrayed in has a supernatural angle. I would have liked to see more of that pressure coming from the pack, directed towards group of high schoolers outside of Buffy’s circle though, because I believe that the writers left out an important angle in their metaphoric storytelling, because the episode went quite quickly into the rape culture angle (when Flutie got eaten, the cutbacks to Xander and Buffy were more important than Flutie’s more brutal and horrific demise), which begs the question what the writers really wanted from the episode and its premise. Because if you question it a little further, why did Xander’s attack on Buffy even needed to be in this episode when the bully metaphors were already carrying the story? Besides, if Flutie’s demise would have been elaborated on, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER could have turned into a real monster horror show for a minute or two. By the way, Flutie is the third character in the show getting killed on school grounds (Darla’s victim in the pilot being the first, Dr. Gregory being the second), that the parents have not started to pull their kids out of there is weird as hell.

#MeToo for the 1997 television era, but in supernatural form.

The character development was also good. I loved all the background between Xander and Willow, and how the writers were slowly getting into the other members of Buffy’s new circle of friends, as well as their connection to each other. Okay, Giles could not have any past connections with any of the characters, since he became part of the group’s life in the pilot, but what I like is that Xander and Willow have a good chemistry and an elaborated past together which the writers could either pick up or just use to form the characters’ dialogue references. It showed that the writers wanted to make something special with BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, and deliver a serial that was more than meets the eye. They put efforts into the characters while also making the story count, and that is something not every 1990s television show inside a reality-bending genre was doing.

Sunnydale Mortality Rate: I am including the zookeeper here, because even though he was the villain, he was still human and therefore his evil masterplan of power had nothing to do with being close to the Hellmouth. So, besides the zookeeper getting eaten by hyenas, Principal Flutie got eaten by hyena people. Fifteen people died in total, the rate goes down a tenth of a point to 2.5.
No supernatural being died in this episode, which makes this episode the second in which that is the case. It is also the second episode in which Buffy faced no vampire at all — two of six episodes did not follow the show’s title at all.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (“The Rockstar”)

Season 1, Episode 30
Date of airing: November 4, 1993 (FOX Kids)

Never hire bad child actors to portray boring characters on a kids television show, because if you rewatch that show when you are a full-blown adult, having watched seasons of prestige television, you might find yourself laughing and wincing about the amateurish acting of some of the cast members of this very kids show. It is probably a good thing that the actor who portrayed Jason’s cousin Jeremy in this episode was not credited (begging the question how guest actors were paid for appearing on MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS, and we all know that the leads were very much underpaid and ripped off), because in hindsight not even that guy wants to be reminded about how artificial and fake his performance was. Although who knows, maybe he had the time of his life guest-starring in the hottest television show of the summer of 1993. Getting martial arts lesson from a professional on the beach is already a pretty solid thing to go through, but when you also get the opportunity to fight a couple of putties, you might think that life was never going to get better after this.

Bulk trains for an eating contest.

This episode really tried to have the American cast act and react opposite he Japanese Super Sentai scenes, which was very evident when Jason was dealing with Scorpina and the Rockstar (which is a hilarious name for a rock-based monster villain). I do not think MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS has ever played like that with some fo the Super Sentai scenes, and with both the American and the Japanese scenes intercutting each other in the very same scene. That reminds me once more why it is such a shame that some of the Japanese cast members could not be hired for the American “remake” of their show, because I would have loved seeing Jason and Scorpina eye-to-eye, especially since it would have been perfect to do so in this episode, with Jeremy already having run away to protect the map, and Jason facing one of his greatest villains. It is one of the disadvantages MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS has when compared to the Super Sentai show: In the American version, the cast could never fight against villains with a face and always had to go against the costumed putties. And all I really want right now is for one of the teens with attitude (who have clearly lost their attitude ever since the opening minutes of the series premiere) to face one of Rita’s minions before jumping into the superhero suit and helmet.

Mirror, mirror in Jeremy’s hand, who is the laziest villain in Power Rangers land?

The story of the mirror of destruction was obviously lame. Jeremy happens to fish the treasure map out of the beach, and the mirror happens to be gently buried under half an inch of sand somewhere in the park mere minutes away from the beach, which is why Rita and her goons could not find it (they probably thought it was half a world away, like I did). Convenient storytelling is convenient, and also killed the notion of the search for the mirror being a treasure hunt and a race against time. Also, it was convenient that the Megazord was not immediately destroyed when it looked into the mirror and that holding the arm before your eyes prevented you from going into the afterlife. Besides that, Rita and Scorpina deserved to have lost this battle like they deserve to lose every battle. Scorpina had the mirror in her freaking hands, and all she waited for was for Rita to throw her magic spear. She could have opened the mirror right in front of the Power Rangers and they would have been history. But no, Scorpina had to grow into a supersized monster again, and once more she did not make her queen happy. The villains in this show are still crap and Rita should maybe think about putting an advertisement into the papers. I am pretty sure some American gangsters and criminals were interested in eliminating the Power Rangers for Rita. Why not outsourcing that job while she focuses on world domination?

Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (Episode 6924)

Season 2020, Episode 8
Date of airing: January 10, 2020 (RTL)

Watch as John Bachmann steps into the world of right-wing violence, with a loaded gun and hungry for revenge, but because this is still a daily soap opera airing right before primetime, there is not a great chance that a shootout will follow and John has to fear for his life. I would assume that the story is only going to be used to put more difficulties in his relationship with Shirin, and put some distance between the two, since she is clearly trying a different way to get over the attack and heal than John. The two have contrasting ways to deal with their fear of being on the list of right-wing extremists, which means John and Shirin will find ways to argue about how to approach what they are going through. In the meantime, the writers had contrasting ways to get into the story for the long run. For one, John going straight into the hideout of the Nazis brings short-lived tension, a story that focuses on the moment. Unfortunately it forgets to focus on the emotional world of John Bachmann, even if his approach to a violent act of revenge is certainly a way for a man to deal with the trauma of assault. Number two, Shirin seems to be starting to become emotionally and psychologically affected by the assault — she said she cannot sleep and she is already asking for medication. I get that the writers probably wanted for the assault to result in two different outcomes that could not be more different from each other, but what it does is create two separate storylines, with John not involved in Shirin’s potentially psychological troubles, and Shirin not involved in, or not knowing about John’s wishes to exact revenge. A couple gets separated like this, and I have no idea if it was an intended move by the writers or an accidental outcome of chosen narrative steps.

Preparations for the launch party are accompanied by WTF faces.

The story did introduce me a little more to Toni, who talked to John and Shirin like she is a cop. When it is not about simple blue-collar jobs, soap operas generally hesitate to portray characters in their more demanding jobs — lawyers do not argue in court every five episodes, doctors usually do not save lives in the emergency room once a week, and cops probably do not patrol the neighborhood in their cars and jump out of them when something criminal happens. I have no idea if Toni really is a cop, because the fifth episode of GUTE ZEITEN, SCHLECHTE ZEITEN I have watched did not have her in uniform, let alone at work. But I certainly hope there will be a story in the near future that can showcase Toni at her best. Right-wing extremists are not the only domestic terrorists in Berlin, and domestic violence is everywhere.

John is ready to make one of his biggest mistakes of his life.

The rest of the episode seemed okay enough. Katrin looks like she was a little depressed when noticing that Johanna wants no more of her, and Emily and Sunny had something of a solid launch day of their new vegan leather bag collection after their terrible moment of puppet assembly, which looked crude and idiotic and made me think the two women did not know how to assemble their own wearable fashion store on the day of the launch party. Katrin’s walk towards her car had me thinking that she was interested in driving up the facade of a building, while Emily and Sunny were very much unprofessional in their behavior before the launch party, and could not even get past the indifferences one of them had with the ex of the other. Katrin looked at Nihat like she was ready for another quickie with what sounded like was a random lover for her (according to the argument she had with Johanna, who — shocker — was also having a crush on Nihat?), while Emily needed to find a way to not hate Nihat for ruining the launch day, even though he did not even do anything to ruin it. And now that I mention it, Nihat is connected to both stories, making him the central character of two thirds of the drama of this episode. Coincidence? I think not.