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A “Thanksgiving orphan” party, plenty of concerts, and the return of ZooLights. By Jason Koebler
ZooLights returns this weekend. Photograph by Flickr user Cliff.

Wednesday, November 26

COMEDY: If you’re still around or staying in town this weekend, Wonderland Circus is a cool thing to check out tonight. The show will feature comedians, musicians, and burlesque dancers and has a whole old-timey circus vibe. $5. 8:30 PM.

Thursday, November 27

TURKEY: Medium Rare will fry your turkey for free so you don’t explode your face trying to do it on your own, which sounds like a good deal to me. It’s BYOT, which is an acronym I am pretty excited to get to use. 11 AM to 2 PM.

TOUR: Once you’re done eating (if you can still move), head to Mount Vernon to take a candlelight tour and meet Aladdin the resident camel.

Friday, November 28

VHS TAPES: Play Back the Tape is pretty much what you’d expect: a series of throwback events in which various home-recorded VHS tapes get played. Head to Atlas Brew Works for a grab bag of Thanksgiving-themed tapes and other oddities. Free. 7 PM.

COMEDY: Don’t Block the Box is a comedy night you can always count on, so if you’ve got friends in town, this might be a good thing to bring them to. Matty Litwack headlines—he’s been on Fox’s Laughs and performed at venues all over the country. Three other local and New York comedians will also perform, it’s super cheap, and Wonderland is always a good time. $3. 7:30 PM.

MUSIC: Dismemberment Plan is back in a very real way, and it feels like a DC tradition at this point to see them around the holidays. The band plays at 9:30 Club, and things will probably get wild-ish. Tickets ($25) are available online. 8 PM.

DANCE: During Speakeasy Electro Swing, a deejay will play swing-style music and inject some electronic music-type stuff into it, which sounds nuts. Check it out at Little Miss Whiskey’s. Tickets ($12) are available online. 10 PM.

Saturday, November 29

DRINK: United Social Sports apparently thinks no one can actually be from DC, but that doesn’t mean its Thanksgiving Orphans bash won’t be fun. Head to Chinese Disco and get three free drinks, which is quite nice. $5. 9 PM.

SHOP: It’s now officially officially Christmas season, so we should stop begrudging any sort of holiday markets and instead just embrace them. Let’s start with the classics—the Downtown Holiday Market in Gallery Place is a good place to take visiting relatives, grab hot cider when you forgot your gloves, or hide from someone who is chasing you because there are lots of people and random crafts to blend in with. Free. Noon to 8 PM.

LIGHTS: ZooLights is also back—it’s always pretty, always free, and always a good time. A half-million lights will be shaped like animals and set to music, and it’s all very festive. Free. 5 to 9 PM.

Sunday, November 30

MUSIC: The remaining members of the Wailers are touring on the 30th anniversary of their album Legend and will perform it at the Hamilton for a reasonable price. Also nice: The seats will be moved out to make way for a dance floor. Tickets ($25) are available online. 7 PM.

MUSIC: Speaking of anniversary tours, Relient K has gotten on the early-2000s-emo-revival bandwagon. They’ll perform MMHMM in its entirety at the Fillmore, which is probably very exciting if you were in high school a decade ago. Tickets ($30) are available online. 8 PM.

DANCE: MSTRKRFT is the electronic music project of the dude from Death from Above 1979 and Al-P. The duo is great, and you should see them at U Street Music Hall if you want to dance and/or like free things. 10 PM.

Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at jasontpkoebler@gmail.com, or find him on Twitter at @jason_koebler.

Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 11/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A world-premiere holiday musical based on the comic strip “Mutts”—for little kids only. By William O'Sullivan
Photograph by Scott Suchman.

There’s one comic strip I read these days (well, until “Doonesbury” comes back from hiatus): Patrick McDonnell’s sweet, simple, funny, humane, and often silly “Mutts,” a brilliantly drawn leap into the inner life of dogs and cats, equal in artistry to the two greatest strips of the last 50 years, “Peanuts” and “Calvin and Hobbes.”

When I heard the Kennedy Center had commissioned a family musical of McDonnell’s wonderful “Mutts” book The Gift of Nothing—in which Mooch the cat tries to find the perfect present for his pal Earl the dog—I couldn’t resist, even though I haven’t been a kid since Snoopy was in his newsprint prime, and I don’t have kids of my own.

Adapted by McDonnell, local playwright/director Aaron Posner, and Posner’s wife, actress Erin Weaver, with songs by Andy Mitton, The Gift of Nothing is a pleasant way for a family with small children—very small children—to pass an hour during the holidays. The Kennedy Center bills it as a show for ages four and up, but I’d bet a good portion of the audience couldn’t see their fourth birthday over the horizon yet, and anyone older than about six would likely be impatient with the board-book-style dialogue and songs.

Unlike the comic strip, which has intergenerational appeal, this is a musical for preschoolers. As such, it it’s bright, bouncy, and easy to follow, with a warm message against holiday commercialism and in favor of companionship and love as the most meaningful gifts.

Nickolas Vaughan shines as the impulsive feline Mooch, his black-clad body slinky, agile, and unguardedly goofy as he gets excited about his gift idea or wraps himself around his “person,” Millie, played by an endearing Rachel Zampelli, a few decades younger and at least 50 pounds lighter than her comic-strip counterpart. Joseph Patrick O’Malley is winningly nerdy as Ozzie, Earl’s human dad and the cartoonist’s alter-ego (whose inspiration for the strip was his own dog Earl).

A weak link for longtime “Mutts” fans (i.e., grownups) is that Earl is played by an actress, Maggie Donnelly. She’s fine in the part, but why have a boy dog named Earl portrayed by a woman? No doubt it’s to widen the play’s appeal to both genders—as if young girls can’t relate to a dog and cat that are both male?

To someone (i.e., that grownup again) for whom the gold standard of the comic-strip-turned-musical is the melodic sophistication and verbal wit of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, the songs in The Gift of Nothing are unmemorable, even clunky at times. But the little ones in the audience seemed to be having fun—helped by generous audience participation, a nice touch. Besides, when you’re three or four, memorable isn’t so important—it’s what’s in the moment that counts. And that’s actually an idea Earl, Mooch, and their friends can get behind.

“The Gift of Nothing” is at the Kennedy Center through December 28. Running time is one hour, with no intermission. Tickets ($20) are available online.

Posted at 11:40 AM/ET, 11/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Bundle up and hit these slopes when the snow starts to accumulate. By John Scarpinato
Where to head with your sled when the snow starts to pile up. Image via Shutterstock.

It’s time to pull the snow gear out of storage! Washington has seen its first snow of the season, and what better way to celebrate than to put together a sledding bucket list? Here, we scout out some of the more popular toboggan spots.

Capitol Hill
With a not-too-steep hill and beautiful views, this spot is great for all members of the family. Plus what’s more American than sledding on the lawn of the Capitol Building?

Book Hill Park
Located right behind the Georgetown Library, this spot offers some good sledding hills. Just make sure you have enough control to stop yourself at the bottom, as the hills lead into the street.

Rock Creek Park
Specifically between 23rd and P streets, Northwest, this spot is secluded and has a steep hill for those looking for more of a thrill.

Fort Reno Park
As the highest natural point in DC, this area has multiple hills for winter fun.

Battery Kemble Park
This is one of the most popular sledding areas in the District. Its hill offers an enjoyable experience for all sledders—the more daring can begin at the top, while others can start in the flatter middle section. Come early, as sledders flock to this spot at the earliest snowfall.

George Washington Masonic Memorial
Located in Alexandria, it offers thrilling multi-layered hills and great views of busy Kings Street.

Jefferson Manor Park
Sledders heading to this location should ride from the park’s shelter toward Telegraph Road for the best experience.

Lake Fairfax Park
Known for its western themed water park, this location isn’t only enjoyable in the summer months. The hills here are great for sledding, specifically behind the picnic area’s restrooms.

Mason District Park
Located in Annandale, this is another popular spot for sledders. The hill at the end of Meadow Trail is the place to be. Rangers will enforce the park’s closing after dark, so it’s best to visit earlier in the day.

Pine Crest Elementary School
A popular spot for those in the Woodmore area, this offers a nice sledding area in the field next to the tennis courts. Make sure to watch out for snowballs—snowball fights often break out at the bottom.

Hearst Recreation Center
Here the sledding hill is short but steep and conveniently flows into the soccer field.

Takoma Park Middle School
At the Lee Jordan athletic field is a large hill that is perfect for sledding—part of which is double-tiered. The cement stairs also make the trek back up the hill a bit easier.

Posted at 11:20 AM/ET, 11/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It's not the first time Theater J has been in trouble for staging works critical of Israel. By Benjamin Freed
Photograph by Flickr user Adam Fagen.

Theater J artistic director Ari Roth says the leaders of the DC Jewish Community Center, which houses his theater company, yanked his "Voices From a Changing Middle East" festival, a slate of plays from the region that are often critical of Israel.

The move, which was first reported by the Jewish Daily Forward, is the latest in a string of creative spats between Theater J and its parent organization stemming from productions that take skeptical approaches toward the Jewish state. The Forward framed the festival's cancellation as an action on Theater J's part, but in an interview Wednesday with Washingtonian, Roth says the decision was made unilaterally by DCJCC's board of directors.

Roth told his theater's executive committee in a September memo that friction with the DCJCC was rising, the Forward reported. “We find the culture of open discourse and dissent within our Jewish Community Center to be evaporating," Roth wrote in the memo.

"Theater J did not cancel anything," Roth tells Washingtonian today. "The DCJCC, which is the parent organization, has told the theater that it is canceling future 'Voices' festivals. We would like them to reconsider that. We would never cancel our critically acclaimed and very profitable 'Voices' festival."

But if the DCJCC does not reverse course, Roth says he will shop the series around to other venues.

"I'm committed, whether at Theater J or anywhere else, to keep the 'Voices' festival going," he says.

"Voices" is not an annual event, but when it runs, it has a history of sparking controversy in the wider Jewish community. The most visible reaction came in 2011, when Theater J parterned with Tel Aviv's Cameri Theatre to mount a production of Return to Haifa, a play based on a Palestinian novel about a couple exiled by the 1948 founding of Israel that finds a family of Holocaust survivors living in their former home. The show, which was complicated by an argument with a Chicago theater director, was praised, but stirred up controversy later when the DCJCC caught flak for presenting a show critical of Israel.

"That was a hugely successful production," Roth says. "Three months later a little group started to protest Theater J."

Roth says the "Voices" series is well within Theater J's ambit to present challenging takes on Israeli politics and society.

"It engages with Israel, but shows the complexity of all manner of political, social, and environmental issues that are impacting Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Syrians," he says. "The entire region is of concern to us."

The DCJCC exercised its policy against artists who side against Israel earlier this year when it canceled a June show by the Shondes, a Brooklyn rock group whose members support economic sanctions of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. The show was relocated to the Black Cat.

Carole Zawatsky, the DCJCC's chief executive officer, says nothing in Theater J's current season has been removed from the schedule, and that the matter has nothing to do with donor or fundraiser concerns.

"It's truly about the DCJCC as a community center that has a mission and vision that is dedicated to exploring a breadth of ideas in all areas from our preschool to our Washington Jewish Film Festival," she tells Washingtonian. "We certainly do, and will continue to, explore issues around Israel."

Zawatsky won't comment on the content of Roth's September letter, though she says she has a strong working relationship with Roth.

"I have tremendous respect for Ari Roth," she says. "I think he's one of the most talented artistic directors in the city."

But from Roth's side, the partnership between the DCJCC and its resident theater company sounds awfully frayed right now. Roth says he and his executive committee will spend the Thanksgiving holiday drafting a "respectful, but disagreeing" response to the DCJCC's leaders. But he's also keeping his options open.

"There's a period for the JCC to reconsider a position. We hope it does, and there's time for me to find other opportunities, venues, and context to keep presenting all the work and visions we have artistically."

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Posted at 09:52 AM/ET, 11/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Under the sea. By Tanya Pai
This week, Charlie takes on the Case of the Russian Submarine. Image via NBC.

Guys, I have a confession: I realized after my recap of last week’s pilot that the screener I watched had a different ending from the one that aired on TV. Matthew Del Negro was nowhere to be found in the broadcast version, replaced by Chris McKenna as Nick and the bombshell that Abdul Fattah used to be Charlie’s CIA asset. I guess Del Negro is too busy being Cyrus’s new house husband on Scandal for a recurring role in this show. Hopefully none of you read the post and decided I am not-so-secretly insane.

This week’s plot centers on a Russian submarine that’s been stealing super-sensitive US intelligence information by tapping a fiber optics cable on the floor of the Baltic Sea. On board the submarine is a CIA asset who, when the sub runs into trouble thanks to a huge storm, barricades himself in the comm room and calls Charlie to help get him out. Oh, and also he used to know her dad. There’s minimal new information about the Aaron/Omar Fattah situation, though the anonymous texter has a photo of Charlie and Nick with Fattah. Let’s break down the positives and the not-so-much.

THE GOOD

Constance. The show doesn’t shy away from having her make decisions that hurt one person for the good of the country. She makes no bones about telling Charlie the submarine needs to sink, and bristles when Charlie hints at questioning her authority. I also liked the small detail of her touching up her makeup before the ceremony announcing the new CIA director, though I’d assume she has a makeup artist on staff.

Raymond Navarro. Acting Director Skinner was apparently fired after last week’s massive screw-up, and the former governor of Wyoming (played by Lost’s Nestor Carbonell) is taking his place. In his short time on screen, he managed to come across as a far more interesting character and possible nemesis for Charlie, especially in his sly dig, “You won’t be working with me—you’ll be working for me.” And am I imagining things, or did he make a penis reference?

The team dynamic. My favorite scene in the whole episode was when Lucas waltzes in late, complaining about a flat tire, and everyone just stares at him blankly. While plenty in the show still needs to solidify, the actors have already nailed the wordless communication that’s only possible from spending long, intense hours with people—which can also be seen toward the end of the episode, when Charlie lies to Anatoly that she can get a message to his daughter.

THE BAD

The drinking. There’s no way Charlie shows up at the office drenched in Eau de Vodka—even if she came straight from that melancholy birthday celebration for her dead fiancé, a pro boozer like her would definitely have mouthwash stashed in her desk. Also I highly doubt a sitting President these days is ripping shots at the dinner table, dead son or no dead son.

Charlie’s spy skills. First she leaves a highly suspicious, highly trackable voicemail for Nick from her cell phone when she gets a photo from her mysterious texter. Then she hilariously shows up for a covert meeting in a park wearing a trench coat and the biggest pair of sunglasses since Paris Hilton’s heyday. I half expected her to follow it up by pulling off her shoe and phoning someone. Also she’s still named Charleston Tucker, which continues to be unfortunate.

Lucas. He was hired as Navarro’s briefer before the staffing switch was even announced, so he apparently he knows a few things the briefing team doesn’t—but he came across as more than a little condescending this time around. He needs something to do other than wink at Charlie and contemplate how good his hair looks.

THE CONFUSING

Mo’s love life. In the screener version of the pilot I watched, Mo had just finished moving the rest of her stuff out of her recent ex-husband’s house, and the rumor in the office was that she was dating someone else at the agency, which she denied. This episode, her coworker Kurt starts flirting with her, and by the end of the episode they’re kissing? Did I black out during a key scene or something?

Charlie’s dad. Have we heard anything about Charlie’s family before, other than her in-law situation, of course? I don’t think Sid is supposed to be her blood relation, so I hope Oliver Tucker wasn’t just an unseen character trotted out for plot convenience.

What’s the deal with Nick? Mo hates him, razors hate him, the Secretary of Defense calls him a “scary son of a bitch.” What’s his connection to Charlie, Fattah, and Aaron? And what does he know that he won’t tell Charlie?

What did you like or dislike about last night's State of Affairs? Sound off in the comments.

Posted at 01:25 PM/ET, 11/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
In which everyone’s past comes back to haunt them. By Tanya Pai
This, unfortunately, might be the last you see of that face. Image via CBS.

Well, Madam Secretary finally used the “I” word—as in ISIS, which features prominently in this week’s government-driven story. We also get a State Department lockdown and some Bess-and-Stevie drama, and finally meet Daisy’s marijuana-lobbyist fiancé Win. Let’s recap.

As ISIS is doing some serious damage in Iraq, an Iraqi delegation is visiting Washington for what amounts to a very complicated photo op with Bess. The already shaky peace between the Iraqi leaders is further strained when the State Department is forced to go into lockdown due to a potential shooter who also might have grenades. Bess is communicating with the help of a very young-looking translator, who asks her whether she’s ever been to Iraq. She says no, which cue a flashback to her CIA days: Bess has been, specifically to track down terrorist Safeer al-Jamil, who’s been organizing a devastating string of suicide bombings. Turns out al-Jamil was the cousin of the translator who’s currently standing in her office, and he recognizes Bess after she tries to placate her visitors in fluent Arabic.

Also stuck in the office is Stevie, who gets chastised by the manager at the restaurant where she works for looking “too casual” and shows up to mooch a fancier shirt from her mom. She hangs out with Blake, and for some reason tells him she thought about selling her eggs to make money after dropping out of college. Um, is working as a hostess really that bad?

Nadine is in a bad mood because when she offers to help Bess investigate Secretary Marsh, Bess spills the beans about his plan to run for President against Dalton, which Nadine apparently wasn’t privy to. She takes her ire out on a Foreign Service agent who’s been reassigned from her promised post in Portugal to Sierra Leone. After harshly denying the agent a change in position, Nadine tries to leave her office—but can’t because of the lockdown. Awkward! At least it gives the agent a chance to make her case: that it’s not her skills that get her assigned away from plum positions, but the fact that she’s an unmarried woman in her fifties—a practice that Nadine realizes would have affected her own career had Marsh lived long enough to take his shot at the presidency.

This, shockingly, is not even the most uncomfortable pairing of the episode: That award goes to Matt, who gets stuck in his office with Daisy’s fiancé (played by Tim Daly's son, Sam Daly) and proves yet again what a horrendous liar he is. When Win asks him to talk about how much he loves Daisy for a video he’s making for Daisy’s birthday, Matt gets so squirrelly that Win offers him weed-laced gum (without telling him about the weed part). This, naturally, leads to Matt telling Win that he used to sleep with Daisy up until a couple of months before Win put a giant rock on her finger. (That timeline seems a bit suspect to me, but maybe Matt was trying to save whatever tiny amount of face he could?)

The new Iraqi prime minister has arrested the previous one and wants to try him for corruption, which Bess tells him will cause the collapse of their government and the slaughter of their people. She orders the PM’s release, but the translator, who spots Stevie in the office, threatens to expose Bess’s past to the public and to Stevie. This seems like a spectacularly dumb idea, and Bess tells him as much: “I’m not your hostage,” she says, then marches straight over to Stevie to break the news herself. Stevie reacts in a way that I guess fits the entitled-teen persona the writers have created: She storms out of the office as soon as the lockdown is lifted, insulting her mom to Blake on the way, then packs a bag and moves in with some friends because she can’t stand that her mom had the nerve to let a mass murderer get waterboarded and then came home and coached her soccer team. Bess keeps her cool for a lot longer than I would have in that situation.

As for Big-Mouth Matt? It takes Win approximately three seconds after hearing the news about his lady’s cheatin’ heart to be like “Okay, time to move on,” and Matt is so incensed that Win won’t fight for Daisy that he punches him in the ear. On their way out of the office, they run into Daisy, and Matt tells her, “You deserve someone who will fight for you. It doesn’t have to be me, but it can’t be him.” Later, he comes back to retrieve his keys, which gives him the chance to tell Daisy he’s crazy about her. She doesn’t respond, but she does kiss him, so looks like Matt has some hope after all.

A few thoughts:

This week in What Are the McCord Kids Up To?: No Jason or Allie, or even Henry this time around. Is it wrong to hope Stevie stays at her friends’ house for a long time?

Worst line of the night: "You have winner eggs." Blake, please go back to maintaining your professional remove at all times.

Bess goes to visit the would-be shooter—whose brother was killed in the Iraq War—in the hospital after he’s wounded by police. Wouldn't that kind of be a PR nightmare?

Nadine gets Bess’s support to make unmarried agents and agents with families more qual when determining positions. It didn't seem to totally eradicate her bad mood, though.

The Matt/Win stuff really bothered me, both because it’s too rushed to have any real emotional impact, and because it denies Daisy—who is obviously extremely smart and capable—any agency in her own relationship. Then again, I did enjoy Matt telling Win, “You even make weed look waspy.”

More Washington show crossover: Ramsey Faragallah, who played General Khan on last week’s State of Affairs premiere, pops up here as the Iraqi Prime Minister.

Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 11/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The museum defends—sort of—its decision not to alter its current exhibit of Cosby's private-collection works. By Tanya Pai
Photograph by Randy Miramontez/Shutterstock.com

Things have gone from bad to worse for Bill Cosby in the past few weeks: No fewer than 17 women have now accused the 77-year-old comedian of various acts of sexual abuse, spread over nearly five decades from 1965 to 2004. While Cosby remains stubbornly silent about the allegations, his stock continues to plummet: Netflix has postponed the release of his latest standup special, NBC has scrapped plans for his new sitcom, and TV Land pulled Cosby Show reruns from its lineup.

This portrait of Bill and Camille Cosby by Simmie Knox is one of the works on display in the "Conversations" exhibit. Photograph by David Stansbury.

One organization that has not rushed to distance itself from the disgraced comedian: The Smithsonian. The National Museum of African Art earlier this month debuted the new exhibit “Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue,” which features 62 pieces from the private collection of Cosby and his wife, Camille (whom he met in DC). The decision drew criticism even before the latest accusations surfaced, but the institution has stood firm on the matter and has not altered or pulled the exhibit, scheduled to be on display until 2016. On Monday the museum released a statement addressing the issue, which somewhat snippily denies the idea that Cosby's alleged misconduct should have any impact on how the exhibit is perceived. "Exhibiting this important collection does not imply any position on the serious allegations," it reads. "The exhibition is centrally about the artworks and the artists who created them."

That's a tough leg to stand on, as art critic Tyler Green pointed out to the Atlantic: “When you choose to launch a show about a collector, rather than a show about art, you’re putting the collector on the pedestal, rather than artists and art and its history." The Cosbys' involvement is still front and center in the marketing of the exhibit, which could not only dissuade people from visiting the exhibit on principle, but also sets up the Smithsonian to be very much on the wrong side of history. In 2010, a barrage of phone calls to the National Portrait Gallery claiming a video piece by David Wojnarowicz was "anti-Christmas" (it depicted ants crawling over a crucifix) led to then-Secretary Wayne Clough pulling the work from the exhibit. It's unclear why the specter of serial sexual abuse—or, on a more self-serving note, the stench of scandal—fails to warrant the same consideration.

Read the museum's full statement below.

The National Museum of African Art’s mission is to inspire conversations about the beauty, power and diversity of African arts and cultures. We began planning for the “Conversations” exhibition two years ago to help showcase the history of American art created by persons of African descent. It brings the public’s attention to artists whose works have long been omitted from the study of American art history. We are aware of the controversy surrounding Bill Cosby, who, along with his wife Camille, owns many of the works in the “Conversations” exhibition. Exhibiting this important collection does not imply any position on the serious allegations that have been made against Mr. Cosby. The exhibition is centrally about the artworks and the artists who created them.

Posted at 02:15 PM/ET, 11/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
This season may be coming to an end, but things are just getting started for the CIA crew in Islamabad. By Alison Kitchens
These two. Photograph by David Bloomer for Showtime.

Apart from Carrie and Saul's touching conversation upon his release, it was was a pretty uneventful episode. That is, until the last three minutes when Carrie and Saul's convoy was bombed, and Haissam Haqqani and his men began to make their way into an unprotected US Embassy. I wasn't expecting that, even though the episode title should have tipped me off. I'm pretty confident that Carrie and Saul survived the bombing, but they probably won't be much help defending the embassy from its intruders.


Saul Berenson

Best moment: Saul talking the boy down from his nightmare was very kind.

Worst moment: He threw a temper tantrum on the ground because the child terrorist wouldn't blow him up. While I get where he's coming from, that may have been a bit unnecessary.

Number of times his wife was mentioned: Two. Right when she was about to hear her husband was okay . . . exploding SUVs.

Still alive? Maybe.


Peter Quinn

Best moment: Quinn was kind of boring this episode, other than the fact that he got to personally sign off for the terrorist prisoners like they were library books.

Worst moment: Quinn was missing in action when Carrie and Saul's convoy was blown up. Did he take a bathroom break or something?

Still alive? Yes.


Carrie Mathison

Best moment: Keeping Quinn and Director Lockhart away from Saul's switch site was clearly a good choice, for their benefit, if anything.

Worst moment: Carrie knew something was up, but she let her guard down after she got Saul back. There's one thing we've learned in the series so far: When Carrie has a feeling something bad is going to happen, something bad is going to happen.

Number of times she thought about baby Frannie: Zero. Carrie didn't actually mention Frannie, but she told Saul she wants to go home, "no more dying." That's definitely a step in the right direction.

Still alive? Maybe.


Other important plot lines to note:

  • Dennis Boyd is the worst character on this show. Only after he realized that the embassy was going to be attacked (and that he was in danger), did he decide to spill the beans about Tasneem Qureshi and the tunnel.
  • I love the ambassador for being completely on board with putting an end to her husband's scheming.
  • Khan clearly knows that Tasneem is the one who's going behind his back. Hopefully he steps up to help Carrie amidst the chaos.
  • Best quote from Director Lockhart: "What the f*ck? What the f*cking f*ck?"

What did you think of last night's episode? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 11/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Comedy at Bier Baron and Friendsgiving at Republic. By Jason Koebler
Warm up with hot cocktails—and a karaoke competition—at Republic on Wednesday. Image via Shutterstock.

Monday, November 24

STORYTELLING: Story League's all-stars are back for their tenth tournament. Previous winners of smaller events will take the stage at U Street Music Hall and tell you their most obnoxious story (that's this month's theme). In this case, I'd expect more cringey and funny stories than anything that's going to pull at your heartstrings. Tickets ($15) are available online. 7 PM.

Tuesday, November 25

COMEDY: Bier Baron hosts the Last Resort comedy show, featuring some of the area's best standups. You can score $3 PBRs and Natty Boh tallboys during the event; if you're not into those two beers, well, then, the bar serves something like 600 additional brews, so I think you'll be okay. Free. 8:30 PM.

Wednesday, November 26

DRINK: It's statistically the biggest drinking day of the year, so stay safe out there at whichever bar you choose to head to and catch up with your old friends. If you need ideas, Republic in Takoma Park is hosting a Friendsgiving, which features board games, $10 fancy warm cocktails, and a karaoke competition. Free. 8 PM.

Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at jasontpkoebler@gmail.com, or find him on Twitter at @jason_koebler.

Posted at 10:20 AM/ET, 11/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone. By Tanya Pai
Olivia knows how to fire a gun, but Jake is going to help her anyway. Image via ABC.

Finally, in its winter finale, Scandal gave us the thing we all (or at least I) have been waiting for: Olivia chose herself. She said, out loud, to Jake’s face, that she wanted the impossible dream he offered her, and Fitz’s alternative—but that instead of choosing between them, she was just going to ... not. Then again, this declaration was immediately followed by her wanting to do Jake on top of a piano, so I guess she’s in a threeway relationship now? Let’s check in with everyone.

ROWAN

Well, this was a bit anticlimactic. Our Intrepid Trio spent the beginning of the episode freaking out about finding Papa Pope, even letting Maya out of the torture hole to deny she knew anything and reject Olivia’s cry-face—but it turns out all Olivia had to do to find her dad was go home. He was waiting with some wine, her favorite childhood record, and a gun that unfortunately for Il Papa turned out to be not loaded. Joe Morton plays unhinged-by-disappointment so, so well, but after letting Olivia know, again, just how angry he is that she always chooses two white dudes over him, he just disappears without doing much of anything. Given that the show seems to be setting up another Big Bad for the second half of the season, it feels sort of like Rowan is going out with a whimper.

HUCK/QUINN

After last week’s devastatingly poor parenting decisions, Huck is panicked about his son, which doesn’t help his wife think he’s anything less than insane. Meanwhile, he and Quinn are still working on their case of the week, and they find out VP Andrew, Liz, and Kubiak were all at Caitlin’s dad’s law firm the night she died. Quinn uses Kubiak’s severed finger—sans gloves—to get into the law firm, where they find out the meeting was coded Waco. Sadly, this does not signal the return of our favorite Southern-fried businessman Hollis Doyle—it stands for West Angola Commercial Organization, and Caitlin’s dad managed the country’s US assets. Quinn also figures out that Andrew knew his car was going to get blown up; the only piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fit is why Olivia was being spied on.

Also happening: Rowan is trying to “clean house,” dispatching people to kill all the remaining B613 agents by giving them playing cards with their mark’s face on it. Quinn tries to warn Charlie, which of course leads to them sleeping together, which of course leads to Quinn finding her kill card in Charlie’s pocket and them beating each other to a bloody pulp. By way of apology (I guess), Charlie offers to deliver some B613 files he saved to Huck’s wife to “un-ruin” his life. Looks like she’s finally going to find out the truth about her husband.

CYRUS

Mr. Beene is now a “gay cliché,” thanks to Liz leaking the photos of him with Michael the prostitute. Olivia concocts a plan wherein he and Michael will get married because everyone loves a love story, but Cyrus says he can’t defile his memory of James with a sham wedding. He instead hands in his resignation and prepares to flee to Europe—but Olivia gives him a pep talk that mostly involves them yelling the phrase “little bitch baby” in each other’s faces, and he decides to marry Michael so he can keep his job and “serve the republic.”

ABBY/DAVID/MELLIE

Cyrus’s indiscretions lead David to subpoena Abby to question her about whether she helped Cyrus cover up evidence about his affair. He’s jovial until he asks her about her alibi for a specific night, forcing her to admit she spent the night at Leo’s house. Even though they have been broken up for, like, ever, David is still mighty upset.

Also upset, though more awesomely so, is Mellie, who finds out (via Olivia, which must sting) that Andrew has been two-timing her with Liz. When Liz comes to visit to put a bug in her ear about El Prez refusing to engage in war in West Angola, Mellie lets on exactly what she knows. Then she tells her she better choose carefully which candidate to back in the next presidential election, “because when I screw you, it’s gonna hurt.” FLOTUS for President!

OLIVIA/JAKE/FITZ

In between efforts to track down Rowan, Jake is trying not to get shot in alleyways and El Prez is getting pressured to send troops to West Angola, which Cyrus advises him against. Olivia, after going head-to-head with first her father (whom she tries to shoot) and then her mother, who tells her she’s just like Rowan, decides to give up: She invites Jake over for Gettysburger and wine and tells him they’re not going to talk about her father anymore. Then she puts on that record her dad gave her and starts dancing like she’s Ian Somerhalder circa season one of The Vampire Diaries. Jake declares his love, she says she chooses herself, and they’re about to have sexy time until Jake goes to get a blanket and comes back to discover she’s gone. Where did she go? Just ask Andrew—who is apparently using her to blackmail Fitz into declaring war on West Angola.

A FEW THOUGHTS

“That doesn’t make us friends; it just makes us at risk for the same STDs.” So glad Mellie got to be angry powerful betrayed woman instead of tearful betrayed woman. I really hope we get to see her run for President.

Charlie killed his grandmother, which Quinn finds totally normal and kind of sweet—and somehow these two have one of the more functional relationships on the show. I do feel bad for Quinn’s dentist, though.

What is the point of forcing Fitz to go to war? I assume it has a lot to do with money and also with getting Andrew elected as President.

So Olivia knows how to shoot a gun. With parents like hers, that skill is probably just imprinted in her DNA. But why does she own a piano?

WINNER: Looks like something good might finally happen for Huck, so I'll give it to him.

LOSER: Judging by how well Fitz and Jake have worked together in the past, Olivia is in some very deep trouble.

That’s it for Scandal in 2014! What do you think of the season so far? Sound off in the comments.

Posted at 11:20 AM/ET, 11/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()