Thursday, August 11, 2022

What I’m Watching: Resident Alien

Resident Alien: Season 2, Episode 9 “Autopsy” (B+)

It’s great to have this show back, and I was thrilled to see that, during its hiatus, it got renewed for a third season. I also had the pleasure of speaking with Alan Tudyk and a few other members of the cast, and so it’s fun to see them in this context after hearing just how much of a blast it is to make this show. This episode was slightly more serious than others given that it was fixated on Asta having shot a man to death, and even Harry was starting to experience the human effects of having witnessed the fatal incident. Ensuring that he was the one to do the autopsy proved to be more difficult than expected given Ben’s desire to have Patience be painted as a wonderful town and neighboring Jessup to be seen in a negative light, and the arrival of Detective Lina Torres should make for more secrecy and deception. But ultimately, the biggest development is that Asta couldn’t live with what she had done and Harry chose to help her forget the pain, something that also caused her to forget to go meet Jaye for her birthday, something that is going to negatively impact that relationship in an irreparable way. I did enjoy Judy Cooper’s audio book enthusiasm and her overacting in the “dead human soup” and Mike’s misuse of the term “flesh light,” thinking that it helped show someone’s skin for an Instagram video. I’m also thrilled to see that General McCallister and David are now going to have their own storyline, one where they’re fighting against this evil alien race and maybe even eventually teaming up with their original targets to save the planet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

What I’m Watching: What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows: Season 4, Episode 6 “The Wedding” (B+)

Guillermo really was trying to do his best to make everything perfect for Nandor’s wedding, and it was entertaining to see Nadja be nice to him so that she could ensure that her vampire nightclub accountant was still functioning, an unnatural act that she found quite repulsive. It’s not too surprising that Nandor used up all of his wishes on things he could have easily done himself or had Guillermo do for him, like closing the lid to his coffin, and Nadja managed to get him down to zero wishes left by having him ensure that certain things, like the Baron being given back his body to officiate the wedding, happened. It was sweet that the Djinn gave him a wedding present of another bottle with only three wishes, though he obviously hasn’t learned much since his first question was whether he could just wish for infinite wishes. Everyone objecting to the wedding was an entertaining hourlong exercise, and, even if it might have had more to do with his wish than her own will, Marwa saying that she likes anything Nandor likes means that they may indeed be able to be happy. It was fun to see Doug Jones in less makeup and prosthetics than usual as the Baron, who apparently showed Nadja such a good time that Laszlo couldn’t wait to go for a quickie himself. Running into Derek working at the gas station showed Guillermo that his lifelong dream of being made into a vampire may not be all that it’s cracked up to be given how lonely he is and that he still needs to find a way to pay the bills.

What I’m Watching: Only Murders in the Building

Only Murders in the Building: Season 2, Episode 8 “Hello Darkness” (B+)

I like how this episode got us to the murderer - or at least, the glitter man - at the very end but didn’t offer clues up until that point, and I’m now so intrigued to see how things play out over the last two episodes of the season. Detective Kreps has always expressed irritation with all of the podcasters, but we don’t know much about his personal situation and whether he has a particular motive for wanting to take out residents of the Arconia. Fortunately, Lucy was able to hide and Oliver didn’t get them caught even though he decided to join in on the communal singing started by the two neighbors who might actually just be perfect for each other. That was a very sweet interaction, and I love that Howard was ready to throw out his sweaters so that they could go on a date. “Shut up!” / “That’s our slogan!” was my favorite part of that exchange. It was also nice to see Nina soften after demanding that Lester bring her a package up fourteen flights of stairs because she could have him replaced with a computer, and offering him a new title that would make his position still exist was sweet. The discussion about knee replacements that Charles and Oliver had on the stairs drove Mabel crazy but was funny, as was the “hips before dips” line that Mabel used when Oliver had to leave behind the full bag he had received from the diner when they didn’t want them to go bad. It was fun to have Marv narrate and explain the very broad patterns of the Sixth Avenue Slasher, and I have to imagine there are some real-life podcast devotees just like him.

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul (Penultimate Episode)

Better Call Saul: Season 6, Episode 12 “Waterworks” (B+)

It’s hard to believe that we’re already here, almost at the end of this show. I am glad that we got to see Kim again since it felt very sudden for her to just leave and then be totally out of the picture, and unlike Gus or Mike, we don’t have another more definitive and fatal end for her already from the original series that spawned this one. Seeing her with different hair in an absolutely normal and definitely boring existence showed that maybe this is what she wanted all along, just to be able to do her job and go about her life without hurting other people and taking advantage of them through elaborate pranks. Jimmy’s phone call - and the way he dismissed her when he signed the divorce papers - indicated a total lack of understanding that she knew who he was and what motivated him, and that he could be himself with her if he just let his guard down and let her in. I was certainly surprised that the phone call motivated her to fly back to Albuquerque and deliver a printed confession to Cheryl, who was understandably furious that Kim hadn’t told the truth earlier. What that means for her is a mystery, and it’s not as if she can move forward with a clear conscience with Cheryl hating her forever, even if that’s a step up from the agony of not knowing Howard’s fate. Her scene with Jesse was also a nice touch since it’s fun to think that he had heard of Kim. Ending the episode with Marion asking Jeeves to look up an Albuquerque con man before calling the police was an intense reminder that Jimmy is always going to be on the run, and that his actions will always follow him.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

What I’m Watching: Industry

Industry: Season 2, Episode 2 “The Giant Squid” (B+)

Harper and Yasmin are both taking very big swings to advance their careers, and it looks like that paid off for Harper in a major way at the end of the episode. I won’t pretend to understand a word of what she was saying regarding what was being purchased and why it was whatever price it was, but there was a thrill factor to Jesse calling Harper with literal moments to spare so that he could negotiate something at the very last minute. Harper even had to loudly call in an immediate favor from Yasmin, who complied despite their earlier skirmish that nearly turned into a physical confrontation. Eric doesn’t seem too pleased since she did this all independently and tanked a relationship with another client in the process, and he’s not going to be happy if she rides the success without him. Yasmin’s new career prospects are interesting since she absolutely misread the situation, but her new mentor didn’t seem at all bothered and was all for explaining the way that world works to her. As with everything on this show, some intense sex is key to decompressing, and Robert managed to get some of that to go along with his very first booked trade. Being drawn into another submissive relationship doesn’t seem like the best business decision, but if it helps get him somewhere and fills a sexual need, maybe it won’t work out terribly. Yasmin is certainly crossing personal-professional lines by trying to bring her father’s money into Pierpoint, something that she certainly shouldn’t be managing but might get credit for if he does end up moving it over.

What I’m Watching: Westworld

Westworld: Season 4, Episode 7 “Metanoia” (B+)

This episode featured an unusually high body count, and with the hosts in charge killed, it's hard to know whether there's a way for them to be brought back or if this is truly it. I don't think I would have expected William to be the one to take everyone out, though technically we're not dealing with the original versions of anyone anymore except for Frankie, who represents the fight to save a future that may or not exist. Charlotte was nearly ready to transcend before Maeve walked in and then ended up in a pretty unfair fight where she was outnumbered and then once again shot in the back (of the head) by someone who wasn't even in the fight at the start. We've seen her come back so many times before, but I'm not sure that will be possible this time. While Bernard told Stubbs that he wasn't going to survive, it seems like it might be the other way around. We have just one episode left in this season and reports that there will be a fifth and final round, and while I'll definitely be watching no matter what, I am curious to see what the framing is going to be and who's still left to fight the battle against whatever enemy is still standing. Dolores taking back her power and having all of the writers destroy their stories was a formidable move, though it unfortunately came at the same time as William instituting senseless combat among everyone in the city. She may still have a part to play, and having her come face-to-face with William will be an interesting way to revisit earlier relationships.

Pilot Review: The Sandman

Check out my one-minute take on every new pilot, which is embedded below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Monday, August 8, 2022

What I’m Watching: Loot

Loot: Season 1, Episode 9 “Cahoga Lake” (B+)

Nicholas does go to absurd lengths to prepare the perfect experience for Molly every day which she definitely doesn’t know has been so carefully calibrated and curated. Nicholas yelling at famous chef David Chang to do better was a particularly entertaining moment of that. The successful approval of the zoning project was cause for celebration on Sofia’s part, but Molly had to face the harsh reality that it was still four years away from being put into effect and that there were many constituents who were not at all happy with her. After they hurled a number of cruel insults at her, Arthur stepped in to protect Molly from being pied in the face, but then Jean-Pierre just showed up and whisked her away by helicopter. He’s trying to pull her back into the world that she’s starting to escape, and opting only to send the fancy champagne she had promised she would share with Nicholas since she was jetting off with Jean-Pierre was an unfortunate decision that’s going to have reverberations in their relationship. It was great to see Howard step in to be there for Nicholas as he worked through his inability to emote and the challenge of having to cry on stage. Finally answering Tonya’s calls and breaking up with her was a satisfying moment, though it’s possible we’ll see more of her again. Nicholas and Howard hugging and declaring each other best friends was very sweet, and it’s nice to see how that relationship has evolved since its start.

What I’m Watching: Physical (Season Finale)

Physical: Season 2, Episode 10 “Don’t You Say It’s Over” (B+)

It was interesting to see how Danny and Sheila were actually doing pretty well after separating, with him respecting her need for space and giving that to her. Running into Breem at the tap dancing class at the gym made for an unexpected but wholly worthwhile confrontation, one that found Breem calm and eager to move on while Danny just wanted to be angry and to get revenge on the man who slept with his wife. But it wasn’t that encounter that turned Danny back into a bad guy, but rather Ernie, who, in a move that very much angered Greta, enlightened Danny about how he had rights to a piece of Sheila’s business under community property law. She was doing so well, checking in with her former nemesis Harriet and crafting the perfect block, and then she got the twin punch of seeing that a local celebrity had done the same thing and that Danny was going to reenter her work life in a way that he never deserved to despite his onetime participation in a brainstorming session. The voice came right back but she knew what to do this time, and enlisting Breem’s help because he’s an asshole sets up an intriguing season three that I hope will soon be commissioned. I also liked that we got to see Tyler and Bunny again, and that they tried to get rid of the Mormons at their door before they found out that Breem had sent them specifically to get funding for their new church, an unfortunate development in their blackmail scheme. This season has been great, bring on season three!

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Rose Byrne

What I’m Watching: Trying

Trying: Season 3, Episode 4 “Little Steps” (B+)

I love when Nikki and Jason have to try to prove that they know something very well or are particularly good at a skill that they don’t have. They always overcompensate, and it was fun to watch Jason indicate that Nkki that she was being overenthusiastic and citing statistics that weren’t relevant to the conversation. Asking their case worker Noah if his grandmother was okay after he had just said that she died wasn’t a great start, but Jason’s inappropriate ringtone going off for what felt like forever was much worse. Penny getting a promotion is good for her but not as much for Nikki and Jason since Noah isn’t nearly as warm or encouraging, but they at least do appear to be doing okay aside from the whole invested-money thing that Nikki doesn’t know about and Jason doesn’t know how bad it’s actually done. Nikki was understandably a bit thrown off by Karen’s news - as she herself was - and it wasn’t a surprise that Scott didn’t even bother to let her share it before noting that his blog might be picked up and therefore he was ready to quit a job he had just started. She did a great job of rallying the kids and saving the day at the party that Nikki and Jason hadn’t quite fully thought out, and it was fun to see her go take out some aggression on Scott that turned into a very sweet miming reveal of her pregnancy that it took him a minute to get. It looks like he’s already driving her crazy, but at least she’ll have his enthusiastic support. I also liked the episode-ending shout-out happy birthday message on the radio.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Resort

The Resort: Season 1, Episode 4 “A History of Forgetting” (B)

This episode dove fully into Balthazar’s backstory and what happened at the resort just before the hurricane, and the end also introduced an undeniable supernatural element that suggested that Emma and Noah have been part of all of this much longer than they realized. Alex was definitely eccentric, and I knew I recognized the actor from somewhere, likely Ben Sinclair’s similarly offbeat, if otherwise quite different, turn in the upcoming comedy “Spin Me Round,” which debuted at SXSW. The apocalyptic visions he was having and his claims of “memory leakage” were cause for concern, though Balthazar didn’t seem quite as upset about it as Luna did. It does explain the post-its and the mural, though the big shock at the end of the episode was that Emma and Noah were both part of it even though they hadn’t entered that room until just before then. The timing of the hurricane felt very dramatic and intense, as he noted that there was a shelter prepared to a worried guest and he went to speak with Sam’s parents and Hannah about Sam being missing and that penis photo on the phone. That Alex was the Santa in the penthouse doesn’t bode well for anyone, and Alex wasn’t willing to remember anything about it when Balthazar did confront him. Seeing Murray sit with Balthazar and Luna in the lobby because they all had nowhere to be right before the waters burst in was an ominous way to transition back to the present, with plenty of unanswered questions still sitting right there waiting to be addressed.

Emmy Catch-Up: Station Eleven (Series Finale)

Station Eleven: Season 1, Episode 10 “Unbroken Circle” (B+)

I think I expect that reunions should be dramatic and full of conversation about what’s happened in the many years since the people involved have seen each other, but that’s just not always the case. I think it was fitting that Jeevan and Kirsten just recognized each other and hugged, and that they only asked each other a few questions before they parted ways, hoping to reunite in a year when Jeevan brought his family to the performance when the Traveling Symphony returned to its new Wheel stop of the Severn City Airport. Jeevan did exactly what he needed to do in his role as doctor, suggesting a treatment for Clark and being there to tell Sarah that it was okay to let go. Tyler playing a role in the play with Elizabeth and Clark also acting was deeply therapeutic for everyone involved, and it was nice to see Elizabeth agree immediately to leave with Tyler when he asked, giving them both a happy ending even if it’s not as comfortable as the airport existence that Elizabeth had previously been living. I wasn’t sure if we’d find out that Miranda was also still alive, but instead, we got to see how she made an important phone call to ensure that Clark, Tyler, and everyone else didn’t die by convincing the pilot not to let his passengers off the plane. That action and her book were deeply influential for the next twenty years, making for a very creative and highly involving series. This finale earned Emmy nominations for writing, editing, and music, all of which I’d say it deserved. This has been a unique and interesting ride.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Mackenzie Davis as Kirsten

Emmy Catch-Up: Station Eleven (Penultimate Episode)

Station Eleven: Season 1, Episode 9 “Dr. Chaudhary” (B+)

This episode makes the strongest case yet for Emmy nominee Himesh Patel as a lead on this show, since he’s been surprisingly absent since the first episode, in which he was definitely the most-featured actor. But it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that, in a world without technology and the ability to communicate as we can in our present, people can have entire existences without others knowing they’re still alive and well. The brief appearance of Tyler in this hour was an example of that, since people don’t know who others are supposed to be unless they properly introduce themselves and explain their backgrounds and connections. Jeevan calling himself a doctor and saying that he was alone got him into trouble since he got brought in following his wolf encounter, and it was interesting to see him in a world defined by synchronized birth and simple survival. That Kirsten reading Station Eleven was what led to him getting attacked the first time and then going out to try to find her book after their fight feels like it should have been so preventable, but it’s easy to develop complicated interpersonal dynamics when you only encounter a single-digit total of people in the post-pandemic world. There were some sweet scenes showing how he grew into his role, and I do wonder now that we know he’s still alive in the present if he’ll be able to somehow be reunited with Kirsten before this show comes to a close.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Emmy Catch-Up: Station Eleven

Station Eleven: Season 1, Episode 8 “Who’s There?” (B+)

This is the kind of straightforward narrative storytelling I’ve been looking for since the beginning, bringing all of the characters together and offering some potent flashbacks to explain how we got to this point. The episode six cliffhanger wasn’t really addressed, with the answer just being that Kirsten managed to take all of her assailants out, but luckily there wasn’t much time wasted in them being found by someone else from the museum who was ready to take them there. The older Clark is definitely paranoid, but for good reason. Even though no one is physically sick anymore, there are still those who have diseased thoughts, like Tyler, who Kirsten helped to infiltrate the airport by staging a scene from Station Eleven with him. I had thought that either Clark or Elizabeth might have recognized the story, but there’s no reason they would have ever read the book. Fortunately, this show isn’t one that thrives on death or destruction or even a terrifying, miserable ending, and instead Tyler did manage to burn the memorial and blow up the tower, which will destroy Clark, but theoretically no one was hurt and now he’s been taken into custody by Brian. Kirsten calling Tyler by his real name made for a strong scene, and him being recognized and addressed by Elizabeth and Clark was also poignant. The flashbacks to Arthur and Clark’s relationship were informative and engaging, and I’m curious to see what’s left to follow in the final two episodes: maybe Miranda also?

Emmy Catch-Up: Station Eleven

Station Eleven: Season 1, Episode 7 “Goodbye My Damaged Home” (B)

I’m not sure why I expected an intense cliffhanger like the one that closed the sixth episode to result in a clear-cut continuation of the story, but I didn’t think that it would be a purely memory-oriented hour that found the adult Kirsten transported back to formative memories of Jeevan and Frank. I don’t know if we’re supposed to assume that she hid the antidote on her but repressed that memory, and it’s also not clear how she was able to wake up on the ground still alive with the many people who were around her also unconscious in the snow. Seeing a bit of Frank’s backstory showed that he dumped all of his drugs when he heard that Jeevan and Kirsten were at his door, and that he managed to do pretty well considering the withdrawal he should have been undergoing, especially with two unexpected guests in his home. As they watched those news reports about a flu that doesn’t incubate and the terrible state of the world, it was intoxicating to watch Frank get up and lip-sync. While he was set on finishing a ghostwritten autobiography and Kirsten just wanted to finish her play, Jeevan was thinking about the movie “Alive” where a rugby team has to eat their deceased teammates after a plane crash, which I was recently reading about being inspired to a similar real-life story as “Yellowjackets,” which is purely fictional. The themes of saying goodbye in Kirsten’s play hit a bit too close to home, especially considering an intruder then showed up to declare that this was his home now. Frank wasn’t in any mood to be evicted, and it was understandable that Kirsten blamed what happened next on her desire to put on the play. Ending with an adult Kirsten back in the present talking to a skeleton on a bed of flowers was peculiar, and I wonder whether we’ll get back to the main narrative or if it really was an existential confrontation rather than a literal one.