Month: May 2015

May by Day

Since June is barely even days away, it’s time to share my May instagrams!

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[1] I can’t believe how different the weather was in the beginning of the month!  At least I got to debut my Banana Republic dachshund sweater. [2] My youngest cousin made her First Communion!  Here’s my family all dressed up. [3] I bought my first ever pair of Jacks!  They’re Nicole, platinum & gold. [4] I did a 5k walk for my cousin’s company through Forest Hills Cemetery, which was spellbindingly beautiful! [5] Selfies were taken in my signature camo jacket. [6] My ModCloth jewelry arrived!  Did you guess right? [7] Memorial Day weekend brought my triumphant return to the Ocean State!  Here are some Rhode Island things. [8] The beach house got all dressed up for a new season. [9] And I even got started on my tan!

Hope you’re all having a great weekend!

What summer fun do you have planned for June?!

MasterChef: Easy as Apple Pie

Ahh, I can’t even  explain how happy I am to have MasterChef back in my life.  Two words, friends: food pictures.  Get ready for ’em.

Now, if you’re new to MasterChef the show has an alternating format.  (Find out what that means over here.)  This week’s episode started with a Mystery Box Challenge.  This mystery box had a bit of a twist, though!  Instead of all using the same ingredients, each home cook got a different mystery box.  Yup, 22 boxes of different ingredients.  Everyone seemed super happy because these ingredients were the things they left in their fridges when they left for MasterChef!  Veronica is the only one not excited, because she cooks a lot of different things at home and her ingredients didn’t quite go together.  Anyway, the home cooks get to work.  Gordon, Graham, and Christina taste as they cook and choose their top three for a final taste.  They select:

Katrina, Dan, and Hetal

Katrina, Dan, and Hetal

Out of those three, they pick a winner: Dan!  He gets a major advantage in the Elimination Test.  In the pantry, Christina has prepared an elaborate and drool-worthy display of desserts, but explains that she will be asking each home cook to bake an apple pie for its technical merits.  Dan doesn’t have to cook, but gets another advantage.  He comes out with a bag of apples and hands them out to some of the home cook– these people also don’t have to cook and are safe!  Only nine home cooks remain to bake apple pie.

Results are fairly good, especially for a baking challenge!  Here’s how the 9 do:

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(L to R, top to bottom)

  • There were initial doubts about Veronica’s pie with it’s graham cracked crushed into the crust.  She calls it a simply apple pie, eliciting a laugh for Gordon.  It turns out to be delicious!
  • Christopher used 5 tbsp on corn starch to make his bourbon thick.  He talks himself in circles, gets defensive, borderline insults Chef Ramsay until Ramsay finally tells him he’s funny and he was trying to get him to lighten up!  His pie is absolutely delicious.
  • The same can not be said for Olivia’s pie.  The goat cheese was a bad choice.  Christina suggests it could’ve worked with ricotta or mascarpone.
  • Derek’s pie is delicious, but there aren’t enough apples.
  • Steven’s pie has a delicious apple filling, but the crust tastes raw.
  • Charlie too has a good filling and a lovely crust, but lacks technique.
  • Mateo’s pie crumbles as Gordon cuts into it.  The slice falls apart on the fork.  The apples are too thick and crust too thin, and the flavor isn’t about the apples.
  • Graham calls Sarah’s pie a slice of autumn!  Other words he uses are “textbook,” and “delicious!”
  • Brianna’s pie is very, very watery.  Christina likens it to apple soup.

The winner of the apple pie challenge is Christopher!  Remember this for next week, kids.  Then of course, there’s bad news too.  Olivia, Mateo, and Brianna are called out for the bottom three.  Mateo and Brianna are eliminated.

With 20 home cooks still in the kitchen, it’s anyone’s game!  We really haven’t even met everyone yet.  I can’t wait for more!  Who’s with me?

HK14: Taste It, Make It

The six chefs in Hell’s Kitchen are all looking great in black!  They come downstairs to an elaborate chemistry set up.  Chef Ramsay holds six test tube with the essence of flavors in each.  He hands them out to the chefs to see if they can identify them.  Michelle can’t quite get enchilada from hers, but it’s obvious once Ramsay tells her.  Josh guesses correctly that his is pumpkin pie.  Meghan comes close calling her cheeseburger as steak and cheese.  Nick says roast beef at first, but quickly realizes his is spaghetti and meatballs and corrects himself.  Finally, Milly is able to easily identify lasagna.  Of course, that wasn’t the challenge.

It’s Taste It, Make It!  The chefs pair up for this challenge and they choose their partners.  Nick & Michelle identify the components of Ramsay’s dish as sea bass, a splash of soy sauce in the broth, and lobster in the dumplings.  Milly and T identify the components of the dish as sea bass, sake in the broth, and shrimp in the dumplings.  Finally, Josh and Meghan go with halibut, sake, and lobster.

All the dishes turn out great, but Ramsay says that you must get the protein right to win.  This knocks out Josh and Meghan.  The broth will then decide the winner of the competition.  The soy sauce wins!  Meghan and Josh take a tour of Long Beach, CA in a car that drives right into the water and becomes a boat!  They then enjoy themselves on the Queen Mary where they take in a meal and a sunset.

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The losers get a bit of a reward in their punishment.  They prepare 150 lbs of mashed potatoes for Midnight Mission.  Milly breaks down, remembering times where he had to turn to sure a charity.  All the chefs are happy to donate their time to the cause.  However, they also have to deal with HK’s recycling.  Through both parts of the punishment, Josh is characteristically terrible.  “We’ve already got to deal with trash, now we’ve got to deal with a dumb ass too?” vents Milly.

Josh’s dumb ass-ery does not end in punishment.  He’s fighting with the team right up through service prep.  Luckily for him, service has other distractions.  Michelle starts off with a stupid mistake, plating salads on plates instead on in bowls.  Nick sends a cold lobster tail causing Meghan to refire a risotto.  Tatum O’Neal joins the chef’s table and is honestly pretty awful.

Josh gets frazzled, though.  He makes all these weird noises and talks to himself to the point where Ramsay asks, “What’s wrong with that guy?”  He sets a huge fire.  He undercooks lamb and chicken, but fixes them and honestly his meat is pretty on par… save for the Wellington Tatum sends back.  She’s awful, though; that wasn’t his fault.

In spite of Josh’s craziness, service goes really well and Chef Ramsay is really pleased.  He doesn’t feel like sending anyone home, but of course, he must.  He tasks the chefs with nominating two among them.  Because there were so few mistakes, Josh and Michelle were really the only people to nominate for the evening.  Thankfully, Chef Ramsay finally eliminates Josh!  He’s been slipping lately, according to Ramsay, and his absence will definitely make the new black team stronger!

Are you as glad as I am that he’s gone?!

Any favorites for the win?

Mid-Week Mad Men: Last Links

I guess I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  We may be over a week away from the finale, but I’m still seeing links pop up on my twitter.  It is, after all, the end of an era!  So, as my last official Mad Men post, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite links.

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[1] Image above via The Hollywood Reporter… technically a pre-finale publication, but totally worth reading after all is said and done.

[2] From Boston.com, we hear from our favorite minor character: Meredith! I was so surprised at how much I loved her and I’ll really miss her! This article brings a little more closure for me.

[3] Here’s a reading list for those of us who miss Mad Men! This is especially useful for summer.

[4] Syracuse provides us with this excellent infographic taking us season through season.

[5] This one was out before the finale too, but it’s important! It’s all about the most memorable fashion from the series. Read: Joan’s fabulous red dress that makes her look like a present.

[6] If you do have any lingering questions about the finale, perhaps Matthew Weiner himself can clear some things up.

[7] And finally, BBC has a few thoughts on the finale for you as well!

I’m clearly not over Mad Men’s finale.  If you have any lingering thoughts, share them now!

Gold iPad Mini Giveaway!

original photo:  Chelsea Marrs / @chowdownusa

original photo: Chelsea Marrs / @chowdownusa

Hey guys!  I hope you all had an amazing holiday weekend.  It was so nice to start off the summer.  To say thank you to all of you readers and followers, I’ve teamed up with a bunch of amazing bloggers to offer a chance to win a gold iPad Mini!

The winner will be selected today at 3 PM EST, so hurry up and enter!  Here’s what you need to do: visit me on instagram (@nikkisee) and locate the original giveaway photo.  All of the instructions are listed there!

Good luck to all!  I’ve had so much fun with this one, I definitely plan on doing more giveaways in the future, so stay tuned!

Back to our regularly scheduled TV posts tomorrow. ❤ n☾

Clone Club Catch-Up: New Business

Okay guys, “Certain Agony of the Battlefield” may have brought certain death to soldier Paul, but the episode brought pure delight to me!  This was the best episode of the season so far.  Though each of the clones have pretty separate storylines, I was equally interested in them this time around.  Let’s talk about our girls!

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Sarah spends a lot of this episode having cryptic dreams.  At first, she seemingly awakens to an empty compound.  She follows the giggling of Kira, who ribbon dances and leads her around to the fort where she was once captured by Rudy.  Inside, Sarah sees herself hooked up to Rudy, receiving his blood.  She wakes up for real and throws up.  Kira, by the way, is still safe with her father.  She video chats with S and Fe and wonders where her mother is.  Sarah runs a horrible fever, having actually received Rudy’s blood.

Paul is trying to help her.  We see Paul hand over a book of notes and locks of hair on women a Castor Clone has been with.  This is not what he signed up for.  We’ll get back to these two at the end.

Alison‘s storyline is introduced hilariously, with rap music and Donnie and Alison dancing dirty and twerking, literally makin’ it rain money and glitter on their bed.  Their daughter walks in horrified.  These two are PRICELESS this season!  They’ve paid back JJ in full, but Alison wants to expand their drug empire.  She is prepared to take over her mother’s store, Bubbles, and continue laundering money via soap.  I hate that she’s not been involved with her sisters, but I love her and Donnie this season!

Cosima and Shay are getting along well.  It seems like a real relationship is forming!  Delphine is back and I have so much animosity for her.  I am glad when Cosima snubs her.  hineI feel bad for her for like a milisecond, but then it’s revealed that Delphine is the one creeping on Cosima and Shay.  For shame!  Anyway, Delp reveals that Cosima and Scott missed that both Gracie and the Castor clone have an identical abnormal protein.  They bring Gracie in for additional testing.

Fe looking fabulous, as usual.

Fe looking fabulous, as usual.

Fe is feeling desperate to locate Sarah.  He figures if anyone knows anything about Castor, it’s Rachel.  He makes Scott bring him to her.  She’s doing some art therapy.  Felix is not kind to Rachel.  She kind of breaks my heart, crying while she paints and stares at a picture of her younger self with her father.  It’s Scott that notices that Rachel is painting the symbols from her father’s book.

And to wrap up the plot, it’s Paul and Sarah.  Sarah’s next dream involves baby clone Charlotte and the woman that brought her into all of this, Beth.  It was so good to see both of them!  I’m really interested in Charlotte in general, and I love that this actress also plays young Rachel!  Seeing Beth finally come to life was so interesting as well.  Anyway, it’s Paul that breaks into Coady’s office and realizes that they are sterilizing women.  He takes over the facility and holds Coady.  Mark actually helps Paul and Sarah.  Rudy’s the renegade, though.  Paul is injured and helps Sarah escape without him.  Coady may pump him full of bullets, but it’s Paul’s grenade that puts a stop to what’s going on here.

Sarah, escaping in tunnels below, is met by Helena who has returned for her.

SO GOOD.  What did you all think?!

MasterChef: 40 Home Cooks & 1 New Judge

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MasterChef premiered this week with 2 hours and a crop of 40 new home cooks to kick us off!  We’re all eager to meet them and see them cook, but if you’re anything like me, you may have been anxious about a new judge replacing dear Joe Bastianich.  I’ll really miss him!  We meet Christina Tosi, and I must admit I’m delighted to have a female judge with Gordon and Graham.  Hopefully she can bring something to the table, but this Italian girl will always love Joe!

In true Gordon Ramsay fashion, he tricked one group of 20 home cooks into thinking they’re the top 20, only to bring in another 20 home cooks to compete with them.  Here’s the really mean part: they’re going head to head to compete for the 20 jackets.  I hate this, because it doesn’t necessarily mean the best 20 home cooks make it through.  You have to be better than the other person you’re against.  That’s it, really.

Each home cook is paired to compete against a similar signature dish.  Some of the battles are featured:

  • Claudia, a signal mom with Mexican roots, and Andrew, a southerner and political fundraiser, do battle with shrimp.  Though the judges are split, the apron goes to Claudia.
  • Next up, we meet Steve, an urban gardener.  He battles Tommy, a flashy fashion designer and the most fabulous man I’ve ever seen.  Pork is their weapon of choice and there is no shortage of personality with these two!  Steve’s near raw veggies seal the victory and apron for Tommy.
  • To keep things interesting, and like, slightly more fair, the lamb battle is between four people for two aprons.  Monzia, Derek the drummer, Amanda, and Nate are all vying for those two aprons.  Derek’s is so good and everyone knows it.  Graham basically just tells him to take the first apron.  Monzia serves raw lamb, so she’s getting that second one.  It’s Amanda who wins that one.
  • After the first of two montages, it’s time for battle salmon!  Two Milwaukee natives face off: Katrina, an admin, and Taylor, a former college football player.  This one kind of broke my heart because Taylor is so warm and engaging.  Katrina lacks a lot of confidence.  The judges were torn, but Gordon thought he could mold Katrina more so she gets the apron.
  • Then it’s the battle of fruit desserts.  Hetal, an Indian baker with a biochemistry degree, faces off against hot-pink-haired Jill, a stay-at-home mom to four boys.  Hetal makes an apple tart, more or less, with cardamom whipped cream.  Though I definitely want to eat that, I agree with Gordon that it seemed a bit safe.  Jill made Danish aebleskivers which are, roughly, spherical apple pancakes.  So cool!  I’ve never seen them before and now I want one.  Hetal wins the judges’ favor, though, and an apron.
  • The second montage happens, and suddenly it’s the last battle: chicken.  Christopher wins the apron over Shelly, a Jamaican immigrant with a Bachelor’s degree but making $10/hr.  Honestly, her American dream story was gripping.  Gordon fought for her, though he was the only judge who did.  He announces that they’ve made a mistake.

Surprise!  Two more aprons are up for grabs.  Each judge picks two people to compete again: 6 home cooks, 2 aprons.  This makes things slightly more fair, again.  Graham picks Taylor and Steven, Christina picks Andrew and Demetria (who had gotten lost in the montage), and Gordon picks Jill and Shelly.

The challenge is in honor of our new judge: Christina’s essentials.  They basically cook with things she picked for them.  The results are mostly good, with the exception of Demetria’s risk that didn’t pay off.  It’s hard to lose people so early when you’ve already started to connect with them (Taylor!) but we say goodbye to apparently my first favorite, Jill, Andrew, and quite obviously Demetria for making something with chicken, chocolate, and cheese.  No.  Steve, even more animated this time, and Gordon’s girl Shelly join the group of now 22 chefs competing for the title of Master Chef.

HK14: Keys, Steak, and Black Jackets

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Anyone who’s watched Hell’s Kitchen before knows that “7 Chefs Compete” is when the black jackets come out.  It’s the list time the chefs compete as Red v. Blue.  Now, we’ve gotten to see a lot of individual work this season, which I love, but we’re about to see a lot more.  Let’s talk about the last team challenge and steak night.

Unlocking Flavor

Chef Ramsay gives us some loose metaphor about the key to flavor or something like that for steaks to set up the challenge.  It’s a fun one, though!  There are a bunch of lockers, only some of which have cuts of meat inside.  Chef Ramsay throws a bunch of keys up in the air and the chefs scramble to find ANY cut, let alone a good cut.  They have 35 minutes total to find and cook their steak.

It’s king of the hill style judging, as Ramsay has the best dish’s chef perched atop a throne; last man sitting wins!

  • T’s rib cap is deserving of the throne first
  • Milly’s New York strip is teetering on the edge of raw; he does not take the throne
  • Josh’s porterhouse is overcooked; he doesn’t take the throne either
  • Meghan’s porterhouse, however, is good enough to win her the throne!
  • Alison’s rib eye is overcooked; she doesn’t take the throne
  • Nick’s New York strip doesn’t win him the spot either
  • Michelle’s flank steak wins her the throne and wins the challenge for the Red team!

As a reward, Red heads to Catalina island, goes on a submarine ride, has a four course meal, and wins a Vitamix apiece!  Blue’s punishment is to break down an entire side of beef.

Steak Night

The next night is the final team service and steak night in Hell’s Kitchen.  During prep, Michelle and Josh argue endlessly about jalapeños.  Things don’t go much better for Red once service begins.  There is a lot of extra stress on the meat station because, uh, it’s steak night!  Michelle on grill and Alison on fish have the most problems.  Meghan on Blue has a refire, but recovers.  Red doesn’t seem to.  They serve half a table, which we all know Ramsay hates to do.  Josh on garnish is a disaster too.

Blue does so well that Chef Ramsay actually delivers black jackets to Meghan, Milly, and Nick in the kitchen!

Red almost gets kicked out mid-service.  Ramsay pulls Alison from fish and installs T.  He then sends in the black jacket chefs to help them finish service.  It’s painfully obvious who lost.

All the chefs together nominate Josh and Alison.  Ramsay wants to hear from someone else: Michelle.  She steps forward and receives a black jacket!  T too gets hers as the strongest chef on Red tonight.  Alison is eliminated, giving Josh the final black jacket.

While Alison did have an atrocious  dinner service, I can’t help but feel that Josh is less deserving of the jacket.  He’s had problems with nearly every member of the newly formed black brigade, and I don’t think he’s much longer for HK.

What do you all think?!

Mid-Week Mad Men: Person to Person

I watched the Mad Men series finale as it aired on Sunday night, and I’ve been thinking about this post since then. I just have so much to say. I’ve read so many other recaps and thought pieces on this episode because I’m just not ready for this all to be done. Once we got to the moments leading up to the end, I was really nervous about Don’s storyline and even at the reveal, I had a moment of panic at the ambiguity. Then, relief. I’m choosing to believe what the ending has implied, and all and all, I’m really happy with this one. Let’s jump into it.

First, Joan! You’ll know Joan is my favorite character is you’ve read any of my posts. A friend convinced me that Joan’s storyline was done and her sad exit from McCann was the last we’d see of her. I knew that couldn’t be true. We got a lot of Joan this time around and finally got the answer to this crappy relationship situation!

We open on Joan with Richard, happily vacationing. Things seem to be going really well for the two of them– they talk of possibly getting married, buying homes. All along, things have been portrayed as going well but I can’t figure out why Joan likes him. I can’t figure out why she had that panic moment and said she’d give up her son for him. We know she didn’t mean it, but what is so great about this guy? Anyway, when they return Joan meets with Ken Cosgrove, who has a business proposition for her. This spurs her meeting with Peggy, making some money, and then the idea to start her own production company. She meets with Peggy to discuss a partnership, as two names sound more legit (Harris-Olson). Peggy is flattered, but has other plans… more on that later. Richard, it seems, hasn’t changed his stripes in wanting Joan all to himself. He walks out on her when she chooses to start her business. I literally flip him off as he walks off screen– good riddance! We knew he was no good, guys! In Joan’s last moment, we see her manning Harris-Holloway (she already has two last names!) from her home. Joan’s got it made, guys. What a freaking boss.

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Let’s touch on Roger while we’re here. I wasn’t sure if he was going to get a wrap-up. He’s convinced himself he’s in the last chapter of his life and he’s chosen to marry Marie. The last we see him, he’s ordering champagne “for him mother” in French. Never change, Roger. We get the closure with him and Joan that I desperately wanting– his estate is to be split between his grandchild and Kevin.

Okay, now Peggy. Peggy’s decided to stay with McCann after a night of heavy drinking and considering Joan’s offer. She gets a little belligerent with Stan, and calls him apologetically the next day. This moment was pure magic. Stan’s feelings start pouring out, met with Peggy’s shock and constant “What?! What did you say?” Elisabeth Moss, you are wonderful. Stan tells Peggy he loves her and Peggy puzzles out that she loves him too, but the line is silent. Stan appears at her door and they kiss. Peggy finally finds love!

Pete’s an easy one. We don’t see much of him, save for saying goodbye to Peggy. His final moment is pretty glorious as he, a fabulous Trudy, and adorable Tammi step out of a car and into a jet. I’m assuming Trudy will have no regrets moving forward.

Betty’s the saddest story, and it’s woven into Sally’s and Don’s. Sally and Don speak via phone again, and Sally tells him about Betty’s terminal cancer. Don calls Betty– both are tearful, obstinate. Don wants to come home. Betty says no. I can’t understand why Don doesn’t go home. Sally does, though, finding Bobby and burnt grilled cheeses in the kitchen. Bobby, who we’ve not heard from in years, isn’t a baby anymore either. He knows what’s going on. Sally steps into a mothering role for her two little brothers; they need her now. The last we see of Betty and Sally is Sally washing the dishes and Betty smoking a cigarette at the kitchen table.

The news of Betty has affected Don. He doesn’t go home, but to California where he visits Stephanie. Stephanie seems like a random person for him to spend the last episode with, but I see it as him desperately trying to cling to someone, to connect with someone. Stephanie ends up taking him and leaving him at a yoga/spiritual healing retreat… thing. She takes his car. Don is stuck. Don is alone. He places a call to Peggy. She has relieved to hear from him, but worried. He laments that his life is a lie, he’s never made anything of himself and he’s ruined everything. Peggy tells him to come home. “Don’t you want to work on Coke?” she says.

Apparently Don can’t find a way to leave this retreat early. He ends up in another seminar, where he hugs a stranger with a heart-breaking feeling of loneliness. We see Don last in lotus position, chanting ohm. I’m about to lose it, as I can’t see Don finding enlightenment here or with yoga. The scene shifts, and we see it’s not enlightenment that Don has found– it’s inspiration!

Don't think I didn't notice this detail right away!

Don’t think I didn’t notice this detail right away!

So Don does work on Coca Cola. This whole weird trip has led him here, to this idea for a sensational ad.

And that’s how I chose to remember it. You know, there are two ways to end a show: either the set of circumstances you’ve watched for x-amount of years will never occur again, or everything goes on as it always has. For Don, it seems that things go on. Yes, things changed and people do new things. Sterling Cooper is no more. Don, though, finally achieves the advertising fame he was looking for. Twitter thinks Peggy wrote this jingle, and maybe she did. Maybe this is Don & Peggy’s work together. Now that’s an ending.

It wasn’t perfect, but I’m happy.  What did you think?!

Sailor Moon Crystal Act 22

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Tuxedo Mask, Endymion and Venus research Wiseman/Death Phantom.

So Chibiusa is seduced by evil, and Pluto knows right away that something is wrong.  A storm whips up and knocks her down; King Endymion and Tuxedo Mask run to her.  Tuxedo Mask follows the storm to find Chibiusa.

Usagi, meanwhile is wandering through the Dark Moon Castle.  She is weak, but determined.  I particularly enjoy that lightening strikes Prince Demande when he tries to lay a hand on her.  She is in search of her friends, and good lord has it been a long time since she’s seen Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury.  Venus was left alone in the super cool library.

I live for moments like these!  They remind me of the original anime in all its glory!

I live for moments like these! They remind me of the original anime in all its glory!

Usagi finds herself if front on Saphir and a reactor.  He launches into a typical villainous speech detailing how he and his brother, Demande, got hooked up with the Wiseman and the malefic black crystal and how the plan really got out of hand.  He even apologizes to her for his brother’s obsession.  Then the conversation takes a turn; he is furious at Usagi for Demande’s obsession with her and blames her.  He calls her a dreadful woman and the words wake something in Usagi– something pure in her that never wishes to do harm.  That’s our girl.  She is finally able to transform!  She then calls to her friends and helps them transform too.

Neo Queen Serenity even speaks through Sailor Moon to tell the Dark Moon Kingdom they’re doing it wrong.  They have a new ally; a dark pink, giggling shadow.  The senshi attack; poor Venus is still in the library.  The power of the legendary silver crystal reacts with the malefic black crystal and the castle starts to break down.  Rubeus made a run for it and the pink shadow over Wiseman/Death Phantom kills him.  The senshi finally reunite when Usagi channelling Neo Queen Serenity calls to Pluto for help.  Back at the door of Space Time and together again, they realize Tuxedo Mask and Chibiusa are still missing.

Solid episode, though!  We finally got to see the show of power from Sailor Moon we’ve been waiting for!  We also got some comedy and some interesting plot developments.  What did you guys think?