Wednesday, November 22, 2017

'Gotham' Recap: "Let Them Eat Pie" (4x09)

It's Wednesday, and you know what that means.

No. Well, yes, but no. It is Hump Day, but more importantly, it's time for another Gotham recap. This week's episode, "Let Them Eat Pie," follows two plotlines. The first revolves around the latest scheme of Professor Pyg and its effect on Gordon, Sofia, and Penguin. The second revolves around Bruce Wayne being a supreme billionaire brat. Let's begin with the first plot.

Warning for spoilers, violence, implied underage drinking, and some very disturbing subject matter.

Plot A: Pyg's Modest Proposal

The episode begins with Pyg, disguised as some kind of religious official, taking the poor into his van with the promise of feeding them a good meal. And I've just got to say, if you lived in a town like Gotham, why would you accept food from a total stranger? Yes, you're starving. Yes, he looks like a priest/rabbi. Still, that's just a disaster waiting to happen.

But I digress. Pyg takes some homeless people to a dinner of his own preparation and photographs each of them, labeling the photos with their names. He tells the people there are two categories of Gotham's citizens: the haves and the have-nots. As he tells them this, each person collapses on their plate, dead from poison. Pyg continues to monologue and promises that the "haves" of Gotham will taste what it is to be a "have-not."

(If you saw the Red Band trailer on YouTube, you know where this is going.)

Over at the GCPD, Harvey moves the last of his things out of Gordon's new office before preparing to go on leave. Gordon says he didn't want his promotion to happen like this. Harvey bitterly says that it is what it is. He also points out that a lot of what's going on in Gotham's underworld is indirectly Jim's fault for sparing Penguin.

Harvey insists that Gordon still doesn't understand how the city works. "Gotham doesn't need heroes," Harvey says. "It needs people who will do what's necessary." Gordon argues that the people of Gotham will learn to follow his example. He tells Harvey that there'll be a desk waiting for him when he returns from leave, but Harvey isn't so sure there'll be anything for him to do in the GCPD.

Over at the Falcone Orphanage, Sofia prepares for a fundraiser dinner that will feature the wealthiest citizens of Gotham. She asks Penguin to attend, but he's upset over Gordon's promotion. She points out that someone must have paid off the mayor, but that doesn't explain why Penguin can't come to her dinner. Penguin explains that the mayor is missing and he needs to find out who bribed him. Sofia says that it would mean a lot to Martin (the silent boy from the previous episode) if Penguin could attend, as he and some other orphans will be performing a song. Penguin agrees to consider coming. 

After Sofia exits, Mr. Penn asks why, if Penguin suspects Sofia, he doesn't just have Zsasz interrogate her. Penguin replies that Sofia is his only friend and he needs proof of her betrayal before he acts. The solution? Have Martin spy on Sofia. 

In the next room, Sofia (who seems to have overheard Penguin's conversation) calls Gordon's cell phone to tell him that Penguin suspects their partnership. He thanks her for the warning, but tells her not to call him again. After he hangs up, Harper tells Gordon there's a call for him on line one.

Who is it? Professor Pyg. He tells Gordon that he was right about Gotham's rot going from high to low and that the second phase of his plan is to hurt Gotham's elite. As Harper tracks the call, she realizes that Pyg is outside the precinct. She and Gordon rush outside, only to find a tent set up by Pyg. Citizens swarm it, disgusted at what's inside: two dead people dressed as French aristocrats, with pigs beginning to eat them. A card reads: "Vive la revolution." 

Thankfully, everyone's fave is here to help: Lucius Fox.

Lucius is able to ascertain that the victims were homeless. He also tells Gordon that Pyg removed organs from his victims. Gordon wonders why Pyg would go after the homeless. Lucius suggests that it was an act of madness, but Gordon insists that Pyg always has a plan. He decides to search the Narrow for Pyg.

As Gordon widens the radius of cops searching in the Narrows, Harper tells him that chemicals found on the victims are commonly used in paper manufacturing. The two of them decide to search a nearby paper factory. There, they find more dead homeless people, along with a smoker—causing Gordon to realize that Pyg's been cooking his victims. Gordon and Harper encounter Pyg outside the factory, but Pyg manages to stab Harper and take her hostage. He tells Gordon that the plan has to be seen through and that no one can eat until the table has been set. Gordon offers to be his hostage instead, but Pyg refuses, saying that both Gordon and Gotham have to see his final act.

Meanwhile, Penguin tells Martin that he suspects Sofia. He explains that she may only be pretending to be Penguin's friend. Penguin also suggests that she's using Martin. He continues, saying that there are two options: either Sofia chose Martin to get close to Penguin and prepared him for the role, or she simply picked a group of children and hoped one would get close enough to Penguin to make him vulnerable. Penguin tells Martin that in the second version, the boy would be innocent, which is what he wants to believe. In order to prove their friendship is real, Martin must spy on Sofia. Martin, though scared and upset, agrees.

Back in the narrows, the press asks Gordon for answers. He says that the GCPD is hopeful for Harper's safe return and will catch the Pyg. The press, in turn, asks if Gordon will be pushed aside like Harvey if he fails. He refuses to comment on that. They also ask him if it's true that Pyg is cooking his victims. Gordon, confused as to how they could've gotten that information, doesn't confirm or deny it. 

Gordon later confides to Lucius that he's worried there's a mole in the department, but Lucius points out that Pyg could've leaked that information himself. As the two of them search the Narrows, they find a painted excerpt from Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal." Lucius explains to Gordon that the work suggested that the rich of England, who had already profited off the poor, should actually eat the poor. Gordon notes that the passage specifically mentions orphans, leading him to realize that Pyg will strike at Sofia's dinner. 

Gordon tells Lucius that he's going in alone so that none of the other cops will get lead into a trap. (As heroic as that sounds, however, I think being captain means that Gordon will have to eventually drop this lone-wolf attitude.)

At the orphanage, Sofia speaks with the chef (Pyg in disguise), who has added one item to the menu: Gotham meat pies, which are "to die for."

Sofia then greets Penguin, noting that Martin is happy to see him as well. She asks if he was able to find the mayor, and he replies that he was not. She then says she needs to check on the chef again since he seemed a little odd. Martin follows Sofia in an attempt to spy on her, but she asks what he's writing down.

Meanwhile, Gordon sneaks into the party but gets knocked out by Pyg's henchman and wakes up next to Harper, who's tied up and gagged with duct tape.

Back at the dinner, Sofia thanks Penguin for showing up in support of her orphanage and tells him that the children are about to sing. She tells him that things happen for a reason and hints that the person who got Gordon appointed as captain may have saved Penguin from the error of licensing crime. Penguin, however, says the person was trying to destroy him and tells Sofia that if she's going to confess, she should do it now and face the consequences. But before she can respond, Pyg walks in on them with a cleaver in his hand and announces that it's time to be seated.

The scene then cuts to Harper and Gordon, who manage to get loose, thanks to the former having a hidden blade strapped to her leg. 

(Seriously, I'm glad that Harper is shown as a competent cop and also that she survived this episode. When Pyg stabbed her, I was pretty worried.)

Back at the dinner party, Penguin asks Sofia if having Pyg show up is another one of her plans. Sofia is quick to tell him it's not. Pyg then announces a change in the evening's entertainment: he'll be performing the "Meat Pie Tango." The song is a parody of Chicago: The Musical's "Cell Block Tango" in which he sings about how the rich deserve punishment for neglecting the poor. Martin, a hostage of Pyg, plays a triangle during the song when told to.

Sofia asks where the other children are and is about to threaten Pyg, but he stabs her in the hand with a knife and tells Penguin that if he pulls it out, the next one goes in her eye. Pyg then explains that the children are safely locked up with the rest of Sofia's staff. 

He then explains that it is time for the rich to literally feed on the poor and tells the guests to open the envelopes next to their plates. Each one has a picture of the person that he used to make each pie. Penguin initially refuses to eat his. (I find that odd, since he was completely fine with cooking his step-siblings into a pot roast in season 2. Then again, we didn't see him eat the roast; he only implied that he had. Or maybe he doesn't want to eat innocent people). 

Pyg says that the guests must eat the pies, or else he'll kill Martin. One guest says he's not going to eat human flesh just to save one orphan. Penguin responds by ripping the knife out of Sofia's hand and stabbing that man in the head with it. Pyg, barely shaken, tells Penguin it's no coincidence that he came to the banquet. The people of Gotham prey on the poor, he says, and "You are the biggest glutton of them all."

Penguin, worried for Martin, dives into eating his pie.

Despite his sarcastic enthusiasm, Penguin is visibly disgusted by the taste of the pies. Still, he yells at the other guests that if they don't eat, he'll hunt them down and kill them. They reluctantly begin to join in, but Sofia can't feed herself because of her injured hand, so Penguin has to cut up the pie and feed it to her.

Gordon rushes in and shoots Pyg's men. Penguin yells at him to stop for Martin's sake, but Gordon presses onward as all the guests flee, along with Martin. After a somewhat lengthy fight involving knife-and-cleaver throwing, Gordon manages to get the upper hand on Pyg and bring him into custody.

Later, Penguin asks about Sofia's hand. She says it's all right, and he tells her that Martin is also unharmed. He then gets her to confess to making Gordon captain and says that, whether or not she truly had his (Penguin's) best interest in mind, she went behind his back. However, given her willingness to eat the pie to save Martin, Penguin decides to give her a second chance, provided she doesn't betray him again. He also agrees to get rid of the licenses but says he still needs to appoint a different captain. Sofia says that Gordon means "less than nothing" to her, but it's unclear if she's telling the truth.

Speaking of Gordon, he announces to the press that Pyg is under arrest and Harper is recovering in the hospital. The reporters actually thank Gordon for catching the criminal. As he leaves the press, he notices Sofia staring at him out of a window.

He later joins her inside. She says Gordon was the hero, and it proves he deserves to be captain. He replies that he does deserve the job, but he's going to make sure the city gets justice.  Sofia insists that she wants the same thing and that they're not enemies. She then kisses Gordon, who looks very unsure of what to do.

However, Martin sees the kiss and reports it back to Penguin, who thanks him but swears that Sofia will pay for betraying him. Sofia, I have one thing to say:

Still, it seems like Sofia's usually on top of things. Is this a part of her master plan? Only time will tell.

Plot B: Step aside Zuko, there's a new king of angst.

A hungover Bruce trudges into the kitchen and demands breakfast, but Alfred replies that he already ate it himself and tells Bruce it's nearly lunchtime. Bruce blearily asks for a coffee, causing Alfred to conclude that he's been out with Tommy and co. again. Alfred tells Bruce that he's lost and compares the boy to soldiers who can't return to normal life after the war. He says that Bruce has been fueled by vengeance for so long that he doesn't know what to do without it. Bruce mutters that he doesn't care and tries to call Tommy.

Alfred, however, grabs his phone and reminds Bruce that it's the day of their annual camping trip, which brings back some season 1 nostalgia.

(During episode 1x15, "The Scarecrow," Bruce tried to complete his and his father's annual camping trip alone, only to have Alfred follow him because he knew he couldn't do it on his own. Part of the tradition is that Bruce and Thomas would place stones with their initials in a pile for each year they made the journey.)

Alfred shows Bruce the stones and says that he needs to go on the trip because he needs to remember who he is.

Later, as they sit next to a fire eating stew, Alfred tells a petulant Bruce about how he first met Thomas Wayne. It was shortly after Alfred left the army. He had taken to drinking, getting in fights, and anything that resulted in general mayhem. One morning, Alfred woke up bloody in an alleyway with no memory of the night before. He decided to turn himself in, but they told him to wait. 

As Alfred waited, he met a preppy-looking American man who asked what happened. Before he knew it, Alfred told the man everything he'd been keeping inside, all of his misery and shame. Afterwards, the man (Thomas Wayne) covered for him by saying that Alfred had saved him from being attacked.

Alfred tells Bruce that his friendship with Thomas is what saved his life. He says he knows what it's like to want the world to punish you and insists that he wants to help Bruce. Bruce says that he just doesn't want to talk and walks over to the packs. He says the stones aren't there and must've fallen out in the car. Bruce takes the keys—only to drive off without Alfred.

Later that night, Alfred returns to Wayne Manor only to see Bruce throwing a wild party. Bruce cheerily asks him how his walk was. Alfred replies that his friends need to leave, but Bruce says they're staying because it's his house. Tommy says Alfred is out of line and needs to be kept in check, but Alfred tells him to back off. Tommy decides to leave and take his friends to a club.

After they exit, Alfred says Bruce has shown a different side of himself. Bruce replies that Alfred doesn't understand what he's going through (which is utter B.S.). He says that they're nothing alike and that Alfred can't help him. By killing Ra's al Ghul, he avenged his parents, but it didn't change anything. Bruce wonders why he did it if it didn't change anything and asks how Alfred could possibly help that. Alfred insists that Bruce needs to talk to him and face who he is. But Bruce gives a heartbreaking reply:

Bruce then leaves to join Tommy and the rest of the gang at the club.

The Verdict:

Plot A: Gruesome, but nothing spectacular. As interesting as this plot was, it mainly only worked because of the shock factor of cannibalism. Other than that, I'd have to agree with the AV Club that this episode was a little lackluster. Still, it wasn't a bad plot. I'd give it about a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1-10.

Plot B: Looks like they're not pulling any punches with this storyline. Bruce is lashing out at the person who cares about him most, and it's heartbreaking to see. Still, I like that the second the guests leave, he turns from a carefree partier back into his angrier self—which shows that the party-boy side of him is still just a mask. However, while he'll use it in the future to keep people from suspecting his vigilante activities, he's using it here as a way to escape the horror of what he's done.

As painful as this was to watch, I'd still say it's necessary, both as a means to developing Bruce's playboy persona and showing his inner turmoil after Ra's death. And as I said earlier, I'm confident that his jerk phase won't last too much longer—I agree with YouTuber BobaTalks that Bruce will probably sober up and suit up during the mid-season finale to fight a familiar foe. It's a confrontation I'm looking forward to seeing.

Overall, the episode was all right. I think it was more of a transitional story, as it appears to have set up confrontations that will come to a head next week. I hope you enjoyed this week's recap! If you have any questions, theories, or opinions about the episode, don't hesitate to comment on this post.

Also, just a note: there will not be a new episode airing tomorrow, most likely due to it being Thanksgiving. So my next recap won't be for another two weeks. Until then, have a happy Thanksgiving and don't eat any pies!

Monday, November 20, 2017

5 Fictional Items That Could Improve Our Quality of Life

Fictional stories, especially fantasy and sci-fi, are overflowing with new inventions and devices to help move the story forward and make life easier for its characters. While there's often a focus on how we want fictional characters or worlds to be real, I think the special devices of fiction often get overlooked. I don't know about you, but I find myself often wishing I had some of these amazing creations in real life to make every day a little more palatable. Here are a few fictional items that I think could make our life even better if they were real.

Lembas bread
The Lord of the Rings
When preparing for any road trip, one must make sure you have enough snacks packed to sustain your journey. If lembas bread existed in the real world, the process of packing for any journey, long or short, would become ten times more simple. Lembas is an elven bread gifted to the Fellowship before they departed Lothlorien, and it sustained them over the course of their entire journey. It doesn't spoil, which is a major plus, and it's very filling—according to Legolas, "one small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man." Whether going on a trip to Mordor or just to the grocery store, lembas is a meal useful for any purpose.

Pro: More sustenance for far less space.
Con: As Frodo and Sam discovered, you may get tired of the taste after a while. If you supplement lembas with other things, however, you should be fine.
Conclusion: The benefit of this tasty treat far outweighs the bad.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Who hasn't wished they had more time in the day? Whether you're crunching a deadline or just want more time to do the things you enjoy, sometimes it can feel like the days are all too short. Hermione encountered this same problem in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and she used a handy device called a time-turner to allow her to add more courses to her workload. Each time you turn, the time-turner gives you one extra hour, and you can stay in the past a maximum of five hours. (Though as of 2020 and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, two more time-turners have been invented with varying amounts of time, including forever if you wish.) The allure of adding more hours to the day is all too appealing. You can literally turn back the clock and even redo things if you wish. Whether used for studying, more leisure time, or changing the fate of the world, a time-turner could definitely come in handy in the Muggle realm.

Pros: More time, being able to rewrite history.
Cons: ...More time, being able to rewrite history. As Hermione proved, having more time can tend to be extremely overwhelming. And all you have to do is watch an episode of Doctor Who to know that messing with time is not always a good idea.
Conclusion: The time-turner could be a useful invention, but as with all magic and devices, it must be used wisely. Perhaps this sentiment would be a better way to live: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." Wait, wrong fandom, wrong wizard...

J.A.R.V.I.S. & Tony Stark's Computer
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Computers have been one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century; however, like all things, they aren't exactly perfect. All computers crash, break, and freeze up. Except for one... Tony Stark's. I don't think I've turned on a Marvel movie without being incredibly jealous of Tony Stark's computer system. I mean, not only does it never freeze up or seem to have any problems whatsoever, but the way it functions is incredibly cool. Tony can control his computer with his body—how cool is that? He flings 3D computer projections around like it's nothing and controls it with just his voice. And speaking of voices—there's an aspect of his computer system who's a character in his own right: J.A.R.V.I.S., which stands for Just A Rather Very Intelligent System. J.A.R.V.I.S. listens to Tony, talks to him, sets reminders, and basically helps him keep his life on track. He's not just a computer, he's a friend. Who wouldn't want a computer just like that?

Pro: An amazing computer, a built-in organizational assistant, a constant companion.
Con: As we saw in Age of Ultron and countless movies before it, artificial intelligence isn't totally foolproof. Artificial intelligence can easily be controlled and manipulated and even turn evil on its own.
Conclusion: While they certainly have some downsides, computers and technology aren't going anywhere. I'd definitely like to have the best one out there. (Now, if this hypothetically became real, I would just need the hypothetical money to afford it...)

Star Trek
One of the biggest problems we all face in life is transportation—how do we get from here to there? Whether you're just trying to get to work each day or you want to travel all the way across the country, transportation is a challenge faced by everyone. We've managed to come up with our best solutions for the issue, but they're still not perfect. What if there was a better way? Gene Roddenberry certainly thought there was, and he integrated it into his show Star Trek with the transporter. Used as a plot device since the beginning of the show, the transporter has been integral to every Star Trek series. (It's also the origin of the popular yet non-verbatim phrase, "Beam me up, Scotty!") The transporter allows humans and objects to be "beamed over" long distances (about 16,000 miles) by temporarily converting matter into energy. Throughout Star Trek history it's been used in just about any scenario, and I think it could be applied just as easily in real life to get us to work, school, and anywhere in between. (Just make sure you don't have any transporter accidents along the way!)

Pro: You can get anywhere easily, as long as it's within 16,000 miles.
Con: The transporter isn't foolproof. There have been many transporter accidents, from combining two individuals to turning four characters into their child selves. These accidents are usually easily reversible, though, and the accidents are rare compared to the amount of successful transporter incidents.
Conclusion: The transporter's pros are far greater than its cons. Gene Roddenberry had the right idea—it's an extremely helpful way to get from point A to point B.

The Holodeck
Star Trek

From the beginning of time, humans have sought an escape from the drudgery of reality by retreating into fictional worlds and scenarios. Most of the time we do this by retreating into fiction, but what if that fiction could become real? This is the question that the Holodeck on Star Trek brings to life. (A few notes: The holodeck is one of the more indulgent items on this list, but what is life without a little fun? It's also an item that seems increasingly close to fact rather than fiction, but we'll get to that in a bit.)

Formally known as a Holographic Environment Simulator, a holodeck is a room with the capability to simulate any scenario or situation that a person so desires. It's been used as a plot device since Star Trek: The Next Generation to bring to life various situations, fictional characters, and even historical characters. While it's often used to practice combat skills, it's also used for entertainment purposes, which is the main reason I'm including it in this article. If a holodeck existed, I think every single one of us would be recreating each of our favorite stories and fandoms. It would be an amazing way to bring our fandoms to life and make fiction almost real.

Pro: Making our favorite fictional characters and worlds real!
Cons: As Star Trek illustrated, there are some downsides. There have been instances of people getting way too involved in the holodeck and never wanting to leave, as well as certain holodeck characters gaining sentience.
Conclusion: As with all technology, the holodeck can go wrong. It seems we're on the fast track to holodeck-like platforms with virtual reality devices such as the Oculus Rift. As things like the holodeck become real, be sure to use them wisely and remember to poke your head out into reality once in a while.

What fictional item do you want to become real? Sound off in the comments!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Social Constructs and the Individual: An Analysis of Identity and Representation as Shown in 'Bananya'

Modern technology has brought with it the democratization of the arts. Once the domain of kings and religious institutions, the internet allows art to be created and discussed by all. This domain is a platform for a new age of patrons to forge hitherto neglected ideas into reality.

Though Bananya is only 13 three-minute episodes long (a side effect of its crowd-funded origins),  the show will linger long in the hearts and minds of its viewers. In what can only be described as the I, Claudius of the cartoon cat genre, the show encapsulates the struggle for personal identity in an increasingly superficial world.

For those unfamiliar with Bananya, but who want to participate in this dialogue, it can be viewed for free at the link here. (Note: all images used in this post are taken from this link.)

One could be forgiven for believing that Bananya merely tells the tales of a carefree group of cats who adorably live out their lives hopping around in bananas, but behind this premise lies a deeper meaning. The story uses our titular protagonist as an everyman with whom we are meant to connect. Bananya is a a fun-loving cat who enjoys sweets and is driven to achieve his dreams, much like the youth of today. That his dream is to become a chocolate-covered Bananya further serves to develop his uniqueness and authenticity.

May our own dreams be as noble.
His tale is told to us by the narrator who, through research, has discovered this strange variety of tiny cats, each with its own (admittedly limited) personality. This framing device allows us to serve as outsiders and critique the world we find ourselves viewing.

Initially, this world appears to be idyllic, with happy cats enjoying their lives as they bounce about with reckless abandon all while encased in fruit. Quickly, though, the cracks begin to show. It is revealed in an early episode that the lone female Bananya is self-conscious and uses heavy amounts of makeup to maintain her appearance. It is clear that these adorable cats have fears and anxieties similar to ours as humans. Through this, the world we are viewing begins to seem closer to our own.

Only the white parts, so not much.
With this revealed, we then must wonder, what is the driving force behind this anxiety? The answer may lie in the sordid consumerism of the human world that pollutes all who partake in it, even the Bananyas.

Our protagonist's dream appears to be derived from this culture. In the third episode, Bananya is shown to quite literally worship the chocolate-covered bananas on the television, suggesting that advertising is the origin of his motivations. The cheap but ubiquitous tactic of purveying sex appeal for the sake of profit is also on display as stereotypical trappings of societal gender constructs are used to draw the unsuspecting cat in and deprive him of his self-determination.

Pictured: A cat trying to motorboat a television
As if to add insult to injury, it is revealed at the end of the episode that Baby Bananya is responsible for the rapid changing of the channels, only amplifying the arbitrariness of this dream. Are we so different in our own lives? Would thousands of little girls dream of being princesses if there was no Disney around to peddle such stories?

This cultural pressure is further alluded to in Bananya's friendship with a mouse in episode four. So long as Bananya is on his own, the friendship remains, but as soon as another cat is brought into the situation, Bananya falls victim to peer pressure, much to the chagrin of the mouse.

Chagrin = Terror
This vignette clearly highlights the struggles between the internal and external self. Separated from the external world, Bananya's inner morality holds fast. But these cats do not exist in a vacuum (that would suck) and face pressures from their own cultural groups to act in certain ways. The limits of this clan mentality can only develop in isolation from the real world for so long. Eventually, Bananya ventures out in to the real world to a grocery store where his naïveté is on full display.

"I've seen enough hentai to know where this is going."
Here he meets Namaste Bananya and the regal Elizabeth Bananya. These characters are shallow and presented as caricatures of their respective nationalities (Indian and British). Our protagonist is surely not a well-traveled Bananya and quickly falls back on crude stereotypes to make sense of his experiences.

In a world with innumerable individuals, all with their own story to be told, how can we hope to understand others in a finite lifetime? Simplification allows an easier-to-understand narrative, but something is always lost in the process. The greater risk is that through this process, the whole will be lost and we will be left with tenuous fragments of experience akin to Baby Bananya rapidly changing the channel. 

This is further exemplified by the problematic interaction with Black Bananya. Walking through the house late at night, the various Bananyas become terrified, believing that danger lurks in the darkness. When it is at last revealed that the shadowy figure was only Black Bananya, the narrator makes a crude joke for humorous affect.

The insensitivity displayed by this offhand remark is contrasted when, at the end of the episode, it is revealed that he is a cultured cat who hails from France and loves fine wine and food.

While the narrator is quick to defend his joke through this portrayal, these details do little more than create additional questions around issues such as Western hegemony and colonial imperialism. Furthermore, Black Bananya does not protest this treatment, suggesting that these experiences are so commonplace that he lacks an internal locus of control in a society that has institutionalized his mistreatment.

Clearly, the internal worlds we create are fraught with error due to the limitation of time. This then begs the question: can these internal models be reconciled with the external world, or will we forever be adrift from others like ships passing in the night?

Bananya as a show clearly takes the latter viewpoint. In episode eight, Bananya encounters a regular-sized cat who does not live in a banana. In this scene, the stray cat urges Bananya to open the window and let him in; Bananya comes close to doing so, but eventually falls asleep, closing the curtain (literally) on this scene. The house represents our internal world with the window acting as the lens with which we view our surroundings. These worlds cannot be reconciled, but so long as we give this no thought, peace can be achieved, as it is with Bananya when he falls asleep at the end of the episode.

With this development in mind, the purpose of the bananas the cats live in becomes clear. The peel serves as a metaphor for outward societal presentation, with the inner fruit (er, cat) representing our authentic self. The tough outer peel bears little relation to the sweet inner fruit, but is needed to protect what lies within. We, like the Bananyas choose when and how we show ourselves and hide behind our "peels" when exhausted. In an anxiety-fraught world where we are bombarded by a constant stream of messages, we return to the peel more and more, severing our understanding of others further.

Can true happiness be achieved in a world like this? According to Bananya, only ephemerally. The show ends with Bananya fulfilling his dream of becoming a chocolate-covered Bananya, but a closer examination reveals that the chocolate is all on the peel, implying that in the end, his success and happiness is only superficial.

It is clear that, according to Bananya, the external world cannot give us meaning, for at its core, it is a world that isolates us and prevents us from achieving the true human (cat?) connection we all crave. Can we leap this chasm, or are we forever left hiding in our peel? Left to ponder the implications of this, what more can be said except woe, woe unto Bananya. For in this world, all is vanity and chasing after the wind.

What is your favorite show involving cats? Sound off in the comments section below.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The 2017 Fangirl Awards: Announcing the Winners!

Three years ago today, The Fangirl Initiative was born!

To celebrate, we're announcing the winners of the third annual Fangirl Awards!

So without further ado, let's get this party started!

1. So Not Over It Award: Worst Fictional Character Death

The winner is...
Stranger Things 2
Highlight to read: Bob Newby

2. Til the End of the Line Award: Favorite Best Friends

The winners are....


Steve and Dustin
Stranger Things 2

3. I Ship It: Favorite OTP/ship

The winners are...


Steve and Diana
Wonder Woman

4. Romanova Award: Most Badass Female

The winner is...



5. Winchester Award: Most Badass Male

The winner is...

Jim Hopper
Stranger Things 2

6. Happily Ever After Award: Best Ending

The winner is...



7. You Didn't See That Coming Award: Most Shocking Plot Twist

The winner is...

Highlight to read: Prometheus' identity

8. Tony Stark Award: Best Character Development

The winner is...

Steve Harrington
Stranger Things 2

9. The Brave and the Bold Award: Best Fight Scene

The winner is...


Steve vs. the Demodogs
Stranger Things 2

10. Out of the Wardrobe Award: Best Outfit

The winner is...

Queenie Goldstein
Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them

11. The Strength of Their Hearts Award: Most Feelsy/Angsty Character

The winner is...


Jughead Jones

12. Burdened With Most Glorious Purpose Award: Most Fabulous Character

The winner is...


13. Cinnamon Roll Award: Character Too Precious for the World

The winner is...

Newt Scamander
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Honorary Gandalf Award: Best Babysitter

Steve Harrington
Stranger Things 2

Behold! Your 2017 Fangirl Award winners!
It's been an amazing three years, fangirls and fanboys!

And this is all thanks to you. Thank you for being here with us through all the fangirling and feels. You are fantastic!

Thanks for joining us for the Fangirl Awards! Come back every week for even more fangirl fun. Until next year... be brave, be bold, be initiative.

Flower crowns: Source, source, source