The Mind Robbers Ep. 38 – The Perks of 30 Rock’s Swan Song

mindrobbersrssThis week, Matt has read a book while Scott watched a superhero short film, and we both discuss three new mid-season pilots. In our main topic, we take a look back at 30 Rock with its series finale. We review Matt’s movie pick Beasts of the Southern Wild, our comic picks Batman: Gates of Gotham and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Vol. 1, and our music pick of Tegan and Sara’s album Heartthrob. Plus, we wrap up our ongoing chat about Supernatural (episodes 21-22 of season five).

SHOWNOTES

0:03:40 – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
0:16:50 – The League (mild Spoilers)
0:25:00 – The Carrie Diaries – Pilot
0:31:35 – The Following – Pilot (SPOILERS)
0:38:04 – The Americans – Pilot (SPOILERS)

MAIN TOPIC
0:44:20 – 30 Rock – Season 7 (SPOILERS)

MOVIE REVIEW
0:56:30 – Beasts of Southern Wild (mild Spoilers)

COMICS
1:04:32 – Batman: Gates of Gotham (mild Spoilers)
1:09:40 – Ultimate Comics: Spider-man #1 (SPOILERS)

1:20:55 – Supernatural (SPOILERS)

MUSIC
1:45:40 – Tegan & Sara – Heartthrob

1:52:00 – A Dramatic Reading..

NEXT: Unbreakable and more!

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4 thoughts on “The Mind Robbers Ep. 38 – The Perks of 30 Rock’s Swan Song

  1. I know you all talked about Justified a few weeks ago, but now that I’m on season 3 I wanted to chime in with a couple of things. First, I do really love the show and binge watched the first couple of seasons in a week or so.

    With that being said I think the show does have a few flaws. First, Winona needs to die a violent death. If there is a more vacuous character on TV I’m not sure who it is. But it gives Raylan a love interest that isn’t Ava (which never made much sense), so I can live with it (I guess).

    Arlo is a deeply flawed character to me. Every time they put him with Boyd’s gang he feels out of place. I don’t buy Arlo as a real criminal. A scam artist, a schemer, yes. But a killer, a drug gang goon? No, don’t buy it at all. So I’m just not sure what to think about his character, and I find myself constantly distracted by his scenes because I can’t figure out what his MO is.

    • While I personally disagree with your assessment of Winona, my girlfriend definitely shared your hatred so perhaps there’s something there? I’m not sure. I don’t see it. However, you’ll be happy to know that the actress who plays Winona is currently working full time on The Following. Take that for what you will as to her role in the future of Justified *hint* *hint*

      I love Arlo. And I think everything you said to describe him is exactly spot on. But I would argue that Boyd’s gang is made up of a bunch of misfit toys who do not belong in that group. Not even Boyd really knows what’s he’s doing being a criminal mastermind. We’re seeing the birth of what I can only imagine will be a criminal empire (by series end) from the ground up. Season 3 is the beginning of that and Boyd has surrounded himself with people he believes he can trust for one reason or another. It doesn’t matter if they’re the best person for the job or not. It only matters that they won’t screw him over. And I think Boyd sees Arlo as someone he can trust. Maybe not personally, but definitely professionally. The point is, I think Arlo is supposed to feel out of place. The reason he sticks out more than the others is just because we’ve gotten to know him for two previous season, whereas the other members of Boyd’s gang are sort of new to us. Or at least less familiar. But I also think we still have a lot to learn about Arlo, and I have a feeling season 4 is going to be Arlo heavy (probably in the back half) if one scene in particular is any indication. Arlo is not the loveable crook we think he is. There’s a larger reason why Raylan is constantly at odds with his father. I think we might start seeing those reasons finally come into play this season. Maybe.

      Just my two cents.

      • I think the reason I have such a hard time buying Arlo in Boyd’s gang is that it just doesn’t seem part of his character to be a member of anything. He’s such a selfish character (even going as far as to set his own son up to be murdered) that I can’t see him doing something so… risky. Being in Boyd Crowder’s gang is dangerous. Arlo comes across as a survivor (at least in his 70s, out of prison, etc.). He comes across as a scavenger. I can see him conning the elderly of their retirement saving. I can see him partnering with Boyd and then screwing him over. I just can’t see him participating in crime in such a… visible way.. with that being said I really like the character and look forward to his antics in the future.

        As far as Winona, you couldn’t possibly have liked the stolen money storyline, right? Maybe it’s because that sidetracked the much more interesting Bennett storyline, but it sealed her fate with me. I just don’t find anything compelling about the character. Her sole reason for existing seems to be to pull Rayland away from doing his job. She hasn’t shown any drive or aspirations of her own (as far as I’ve seen anyways).

        • See, I’ve never read Arlo that way at all. The only reason Arlo is a scavenger is because he’s far, far past his prime. Arlo was a real criminal back when Raylan was a kid, but what we’re seeing now is a man who has grown too old and is having trouble adapting to the way the world works. Harlan County has the same tenants of power, but it’s also much more advanced now than it was back in his day.

          While we’re talking Arlo, I hardly think Boyd Crowder is a bad horse to hitch your wagon too. The guy is a crazy man who speaks with a calm lilt and always looks composed. He’s a crime lord, and has been. You’ll see in season four. He uses all the the things he’s learned over the previous three seasons to make his moves. Compare how he is in season three to the recklessness he shows in the pilot. He fires a rocket launcher at a church and thought he could get away with it.

          No, Boyd’s a safe bet for Harlan County. He’s dug in deep and he’s the heir to both his father AND the Bennett fortune. I mean, it was he who allowed Mags to seal up the Black Pike deal like she did. And now look at him. What has he done to screw anything up? He has the Sheriff in his back pocket, the lovely Ava Crowder working with/for him, and a rise in control of the drug trade in Harlan County. He’s doing pretty well.

          As to bridging these two together, Arlo’s actions at the end of season three are particularly enlightening. I won’t spoil it here, but it is significant in terms of explaining their relationship. So hitching his wagon to Boyd? It makes perfect sense to me.

          As for Winona. Okay. How do I say this? Winona is merely the latest in a long string of female characters who happen to be significant others to the flawed, often dark male characters that lead most dramas nowadays. You know, up there with Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos), Betty Draper (Mad Men), Skylar White (Breaking Bad), Jessica Brody (Homeland), Lori Grimes (The Walking Dead), and more. And these women all exist because they all can provide a commentary on the transgressions of these men. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Skylar White is the most insufferable bitch” or something along those lines, and it drives me up the wall because I think she’s so horribly misunderstood. Because we love watching these shows about transgressive males, we root for them inherently and it’s easy to forget that what these men are doing is not… laudable. It’s not… healthy. And the women they claim to care for, claim to love are more morally correct. Do you watch Breaking Bad? I’m curious as to your feelings on Skylar and if you find her as insufferable as Winona. Same with Jessica Brody in Homeland, although there are times when I agree that they do push her a little too far into that moral high ground territory when her husband hasn’t acted quite crazy enough to elicit the responses that she invokes.

          But back to Winona.

          Yes, I agree that the storyline with the money was dumb, but I hardly think that it detracted from the Bennett storyline. I just finished rewatching season two with my roommate and I found it quite good. Is it perfect? No. Is it contrived? Absolutely. But it gets them to an interesting place. It implicates Raylan into a fantastic moral gray area and almost completely ruins his relationship with Art (hell, it does ruin their relationship for basically the rest of the season and even into season three). And as I always say on the podcast, I am all for minor contrivances as long as it gets the characters/story into an interesting place. And the stealing-the-money story was hardly any more contrived than the “Dana Brody and the Vice President’s son just totally hit-and-ran that pedestrian” storyline from this past season of Homeland. Not only that, but wouldn’t you have maybe stolen the money, especially if you didn’t think you’d get caught? I know I’d certainly at least be seriously tempted.

          Other than that, though, what has she done that was so awful? Yes, she’s carrying Raylan’s child, but she also walked the hell away from his life because she doesn’t want him to not come home. Raylan lives an impossibly dangerous life and watching Winona leave in season three is mad compelling AND makes sense from a character standpoint. Being the husband/wife/partner of a law enforcement official cannot be easy, and watching Winona slowly realize that Raylan was never going to go to Glenco, that he was never going to take up that position as a firearms trainer, that he was never going to fully untangle himself from Harlan County was really well played out and interesting and believable. As to why Raylan and her are together, I mean… They were married. Who’s to say? We’re not seeing the courtship or them splitting apart. We’re seeing two former lovers come back together. And Natalie Zea and Timothy Olyphant have enough chemistry that I’ve never questioned it.

          Those are just my two cents. I’m sorry Winona doesn’t work for you and it’s hard to get a bead on Arlo, but I also reject the notion that these characters are poorly written or poorly executed. I’ve never seen anything about them that’s made me say “That’s not Arlo” or “Winona would never do that.” Justified has one of the best ensembles on television in terms of character, and to see them drop the ball on such tentpoles doesn’t compute with me. There’s not a character on the show that I don’t love, and that’s where I stand. I’m sorry your mileage varies as it does.

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