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Friday, September 30, 2016

Jem Reviewed: Episode 28 - The Talent Search, Part Two

Previously on Jem Reviewed, Shana left the Holograms to work for a super diva named Liz Stratton, prompting Jem and the Holograms to find a new drummer.  The contest prompted the Misfits to recruit a new member themselves in the form of British sax player, Jetta.  Meanwhile, two semi-finalists have emerged to join Jem and the Holograms; the shy but sweet Raya, and Craig, who seems to have a crush on Aja.  But when Raya finds out that Jem is really Jerrica Benton, she's faced with a moral dilemma...especially when Eric Raymond is promising her anything she wants if she'll reveal who Jem really is.

Fortunately, as we begin Episode 28 - The Talent Search, Part 2 - Raya decides that she can't betray Jem's confidence and walks out on Eric.  Of course, she didn't really tell Eric to go flock himself.  Rather, she says that she'll think about it.  Seems like there's a fighter inside of Raya waiting to get out, but for now that fighter remains dormant.

At Starlight Music the following day, Jerrica, Kimber, and Aja are talking about the big contest which will feature Raya and Craig in a drum duel to determine which one will win the chance to join the Holograms.  The three of them wonder what Shana would think of this and they decide to invite her to the drum duel.  Whoa...way to rub salt in the wounds, ladies!  No wonder Shana has to be the sensitive one!

Okay, okay...I get that they are doing it to make Shana feel that she is still a part of their family, which is sweet.  But when Jerrica tries to talk to Shana on the phone, Shana is so busy with trying to satisfy Ms. Stratton's eight hundred demands that Shana unintentionally blows her off.  Jerrica shrugs her shoulders and tells Kimber and Aja that she's vurry busy, not realizing just how much hell Shana is in.

And before you can say "The Devil Wears Prada", Liz Stratton is in Shana's face about how her co-stars have better outfits than her, and she rips Shana's designs in half right in front of Shana's shocked face.  Liz then tells Shana to make her look better than everyone because she's Liz Stratton and she's much better than the peons she works with.  Okay, she doesn't exactly say this, but you know that's what she's thinking.  And Shana's thinking that she made the biggest mistake of her life.

It's another reused song.  This time, it's "Show Me The Way", originally seen in Episode 7.  I said before that there is nothing wrong with the song, but that it lacked a little oomph.  I still feel that way about the song, but Shana's confusion over taking the dream job that turned into a nightmare, and trying to find a way to come back to the Holograms definitely illustrates the meaning of the song very well.  So far the repeat songs seem to have better videos for Season 2 as they did with Season 1.

Let's peek into Misfits Music now, where the Misfits are giving Eric grief over being unable to convince Raya to spill her guts about Jem.  But Eric hasn't given up.  His next target is Craig Phillips, and Eric is determined to make Craig talk.

Conveniently, Craig happens to walk into the offices of Misfits Music with Stormer.  And if the blue hair on both of them isn't any clue to the real relationship between Craig and Stormer, I don't know what else I can do.  Turns out that Craig Phillips is Stormer's older brother.  And Craig volunteers that Stormer's real name is Mary!  Yeah, Mary Phillips sounds like either a folk singer or a member of a Motown group.  No wonder she adopted the stage name of Stormer!

Naturally, Eric makes the same offer to Craig that he did with Raya the night before, but Craig instantly tells him to flock off.  And besides, it's not as if Craig even knows Jem's identity anyway.

But here's where things start to get a little bit mean.  And it's new recruit Jetta that seems to get the ball rolling when she manages to convince Pizzazz and Roxy to tell Stormer that if she doesn't convince big brother Craig to help them, they will kick her out of the Misfits.  That is really cold.  Honestly, Stormer should probably tell them to flock off too.  But Stormer's self-worth is almost at rock bottom levels, so Stormer pathetically begs Craig to help Eric.  Because Craig loves his sister, he reluctantly agrees.  Okay, I'm gonna say it.  I hate Jetta.  I love the actress who plays her, but I hate Jetta.

Craig's plan to get Jem's identity involves him going on a date with Aja jogging through a park, and it seems as though a love connection has been made between them.  Craig admits his feelings for Aja, and Aja tells Craig that she hopes that he wins (which kind of sucks for Raya), and they share a moment.

Aw...isn't that sweet.  Well, at least it's sweet until Craig starts hitting Aja up about who Jem really is.  Aja, who is fiercely loyal to her band, naturally refuses to tell Craig anything, and Craig nearly tells Aja to flock off - but Aja surprises Craig by being understanding about it, and gently tells Craig that she made a promise to Jem that she would never tell and she has to honour it.  Craig's temper fades, and his heart melts into much over Aja's integrity, and the two of them play tonsil hockey as swans swim underneath the bridge they're on.  It's melodramatic, but how often does Aja even get screentime let alone a love interest?

Aja's integrity and compassion makes Craig so happy that he runs back to Eric's office and tells him to flock off, informing him that he will NEVER help him discover Jem's identity.  This angers Eric who is back to square one, and he makes the decision to try and work with Raya once more.  But he knows that Raya is difficult to read and that one false move will scare her off forever.

But wait.  Leave it to nasty Jetta to come up with an evil plan.  We don't exactly know what that plan is yet, but it involves a lot of dosh (slang term for money in the UK).  And Pizzazz and Roxy get a kick out of the fact that Jetta gets the dosh by pickpocketing Eric!  Yep, Jetta's a Misfit, all right.

While Jetta's evil wheels of scheming are turning in her head, Jem and the Holograms are gathered around a crowd of eager voters to watch the drum duel between Craig and Raya.  But of course, we can't have a drum duel without a song to play along with.  And I'll tell you...this season, the songs are definitely better.

It's hard to determine whether Craig or Raya did the better job, but one thing I can say is that "Beat This" is one hell of a song!  I think the thing that is awesome about this song is that it could also be sang by the Misfits with its lyrical content, but yet Jem and the Holograms make this song all their own.  That's a credit to Britta Phillips who definitely shows her talent here.  So far, the music is a major improvement over Season 1.  I hope this trend continues.

The way the contest works is that everyone is given a ballot.  They vote on which person they want to see win.  To prevent cheating, Jerrica has arranged to have an independent ballot counting service come in to count every vote, and the person with the most votes wins.  It's impossible to know which person did the best...but given that one of the two finalists was made into a doll and the other one wasn't - well, that should be a BIG clue.

While the drum duel is going on, Jetta is meeting with some unsavoury characters on a deserted Los Angeles city street.  Armed with Eric's cash, she bribes a local gang to do a task for her.  She gives half the money to the gang now, and will give them the other half when they provide proof that they did the job.  Uh-oh...this doesn't sound good.

The group breaks into Alonso Nurseries and armed with baseball bats and other assorted weapons, the group completely trash the place.  Windows are smashed, flowers are uprooted, topiaries are kicked (hmm, maybe they're related to Rio), and saplings are squashed.  Ah, so that's Jetta's horrible plan.  Destroy Raya's father's business and scare Raya into taking Eric's offer and revealing Jem's secret so that she can repair the damages.  It's cold, calculating, cruel...essentially, it's all Jetta.  I get the feeling that not even Pizzazz and Roxy would be that heartless.  And Stormer would outright stop this madness before it began.  Jetta's pure sociopath.  No wonder Roxy was right to be concerned!

Oh, and for proof of their destruction?  One of the creeps picks up a rare black orchid and tells the others that she'll love it.  I'm sure we'll NEVER SEE THAT ORCHID EVER AGAIN.

Daylight falls and the damage to Alonso Nurseries is severe.  Everything is completely destroyed and Papa Alonso is heartbroken over the loss of his plants.  It's so heartbreaking to see Papa Alonso so hurt, and it only intensifies my hate of Jetta even more.  Raya is upset and remarks that it will take a lot of money to fix all the damage, and she remembers Eric's offer.  Despite her brother trying to get Raya to stick around, Raya makes the decision to take Eric's offer in hopes that he will pay her enough to fix the damage that Jetta was ultimately responsible for.

And I am only guessing that Stormer has no clue what Jetta did because her main concern is getting Craig to find out who Jem is.  I'm assuming that the pair are at Stormer's house, which is on a nice quiet street and looks nice and cozy!  Craig is confused as to why Stormer is not only determined to find out Jem's identity, but why Stormer would allow herself to be taken advantage of by the Misfits in the first place.  Finally!  Craig asks the question that we've been wondering the last 27 episodes!  Why would Stormer continue to stay with a band that treats her like garbage?  Craig doesn't understand why Stormer insists that she would be nothing without the Misfits - but then when Stormer tells Craig that the Misfits will throw her out of the group if Craig doesn't discover Jem's secret, his big brother instincts kick in, and he storms out of Stormer's house in an anger filled beeline towards Misfits Music! 

Craig arrives at Misfits Music just as Raya is inside Eric's office about to accept Eric's deal.  And Craig happens to overhear everything about how Raya's father's business was vandalized and how she needs the money to fix it, and he hears Eric tell Raya that he will help her if she tells him who Jem is.  Craig also happens to notice that Jetta is in the room wearing a gigantic flower in her hair.  A flower that happens to look like a black orchid.  I wonder if Raya has noticed...

You remember how I said that Raya had a fighter inside of her just waiting to come out?  At the sight of the black orchid in Jetta's hair, Raya instantly grabs the orchid and tries to yank Jetta's hair right out of her head!  Raya is absolutely pissed, and by all rights she has every right to be!  Jetta is screaming in pain, but Raya refuses to let go until Jetta confesses that she was the one responsible for destroying her family business.  Jetta relents and Raya shoves her into Pizzazz and Roxy!  Okay, whereas I completely hate Jetta, I absolutely LOVE Raya!  This girl can stay!  To add insult to injury, Roxy snaps at Jetta that her plan was a failure!

Raya spews even more anger at Eric, telling him that she almost betrayed Jem, but after seeing what kind of a slimeball he is, she will NEVER help him and that he can flock himself!  She storms out of the office and past Craig, who by this point is ready to tear Eric apart himself!

Instead, he grabs a desk lamp and physically wraps it around Eric's neck!!!  Wow, Season 2 of Jem is more intense than the last season!  Don't worry though, Craig doesn't kill Eric.  But Eric is so frightened by Craig's temper that he is willing to give Craig anything he wants.  What Craig wants is lots of money.  Money that he plans to use towards the repairs for Alonso Nurseries.

Craig then sets his fury towards Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta, and angrily lets them know that he thinks that they are garbage and that Stormer can do much better than them, but also knows how much being a Misfit means to her, so he won't do anything yet.  But he angrily tears a Misfit poster to shreds and warns them that if they hurt her in any way, they'll have to answer to him.  Now, I don't think Craig would wrap a lamp around their necks as he actually does seem to respect women, but he has made it perfectly clear that he won't tolerate their abuse.  And with that, Craig leaves the building, making it clear that the Misfits can flock themselves.

But not before running into Stormer, and reassuring her that everything is okay and that he has made sure that nothing bad will happen.  Amusingly, Eric, Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta are hiding behind a doorway when Craig and Stormer are having their final conversation.  Who's big and bad now, Misfits?

So, with that, Craig makes a decision.  Knowing that he will end up going against his own sister's band if he wins the contest, he announces that he is taking his name out of the running, which devastates Aja.  Aja wants to know where Craig is going.  Amusingly, Craig announces that he is going back to Europe where he can avoid conflict.  And, how many wars began in Europe over the last two thousand years?  Aja is about to cry, but she understands Craig's decision, and gives him her scarf to remember her by.  But Raya is less than happy, as it means that she will only win the contest by default.  But Craig's final words in this episode are directed to Raya, and he tells her that she has so much talent and heart to share with the world and that Jem and the Holograms can help her a lot better than they can help him.

Okay, can we keep Craig and kill off Rio?  Please?

So, with Craig officially out of the contest, it's time to find out who would have won.  And well...let's just say that Craig's decision to quit wouldn't have changed the outcome.  Raya is the true winner of the contest and she officially becomes the newest member of Jem and the Holograms!  And while everyone in the crowd cheers the new line-up for Jem and the Holograms, Papa Alonso cheers the loudest!  Aw...I love Papa Alonso!

So, Raya is now a Hologram.  And right about this time, Shana is really regretting walking away.  After Liz Stratton once more spews her venom at Shana, Shana finally remembers that she has a backbone and promptly tells Liz Stratton to flock off, to choke on her opinions, and to strangle herself with orange scarves!  And the newly unemployed Shana discusses her future with Anthony Julien and how uncertain it is.  Anthony reminds Shana that she can always go back to the band, but Shana figures that they've already picked their new drummer and that they have no use for her any more. 

Well, she's right about the band choosing the new drummer, and as the press is interviewing Kimber and Aja about the contest, a representative for the ballot counting company approaches Jem looking for Jerrica to pay them.  Jem ducks behind a curtain to do her "Show's Over, Synergy" spiel, but when Raya sees a couple of journalists approaching the curtain, she rushes towards Jem and warns her not to change!  Raya redirects the journalists to another area of the room and Jem gives Raya a "what the flock are you talking about" look.

In a secluded area, Raya reveals to Jem, Kimber, and Aja that she has known that Jem is really Jerrica Benton for several days now, and that she almost sold her secret to Eric Raymond after Jetta arranged for her family's greenhouse to be destroyed.  Aja stares in silence - still likely upset about Craig not being chosen - but she seems supportive of Raya.  And Kimber isn't shocked that Eric would go to such lengths.  But Jem is very proud of Raya for not sharing the secret and reassures Raya that they made the right choice in adding her to the band.  Kimber even expresses delight over introducing Raya to Synergy!  Raya's just thrilled to be accepted by the band, and I'm thrilled that a character with as much heart as Raya is here to stay. 

But when the Holograms return to Starlight Mansion and see Anthony's car parked outside, they are very confused.  Jem, Kimber, and Aja ask Anthony what's up and Anthony basically tells them that Shana told Liz Stratton to flock herself.  The girls are thrilled by the news because apparently schadenfreude isn't a part of their vocabulary.  But also they're thrilled because Shana can now come back to the group.  Anthony reminds them that they said that they didn't need her, but they tell Anthony that they only said this so that Shana wouldn't give up on an opportunity and that they really miss her, which causes Shana to come out of hiding and have a happy reunion with the rest of the band.

Sadly, Raya doesn't see this happy reunion as being all that good news for her, and she comes to the conclusion that being a member of Jem and the Holograms for an hour is the best she can hope for.  She quietly leaves Starlight Mansion and goes back home where she is happy to hear that Papa Alonso received an anonymous donation from a friend to fix the damage to the nurseries.  I'll bet that friend was a man with blue hair named Craig.  

Raya is sad though because with Shana rejoining the band, she feels that they don't need her any longer.  So, imagine Raya's surprise when Jem, Kimber, Aja, Shana, and Rio arrive with their musical instruments telling Raya that if their drummer didn't want to go to Starlight Mansion that they would come to her instead.  Jem is insistent that Raya stay on as their drummer because they like her and she's talented and she can rip flowers out of Jetta's head...oh, wait.  They didn't see that part.

Raya is still unconvinced, but it's Shana who really brings her into the fold, saying that now that Raya is their drummer, Shana can play the instrument that she wanted to play in the first place, so all is right with the world.

And what a fitting note that the last song of the episode is a song called "All's Right With The World".  Again, the song is fantastic, and I really have to say that it's a nice video.  It welcomes Raya to the band, and I particularly love the scene in which Shana is the one to pull Raya onto the train, as if she's giving her seal of approval to the fifth Hologram.

Okay, seriously, if this is how Season 2 begins, I'm kind of looking forward to the rest of it.  Raya is a fantastic addition to the Holograms, and I think she could bring some fire to the band that can sometimes seem bland.  Jetta is an evil witch of a character, but fits in with the Misfits very well.  And it's nice to see some characters get more of a background story, and the Stormer/Craig story arc was very well done.  The music has definitely improved from last season, and all things considered, this two-part episode has very little wrong with it.

Oh, and your Jem Trivia for today?  Raya is voiced by Linda Dangcil, whose biggest role prior to Jem was on "The Flying Nun".  Sadly, Dangcil passed away in 2009 at the age of 67 from throat cancer.

Next week, one of the Holograms in embroiled in a scandal!  But, which one?

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