Friday, May 24, 2019

What I’m Watching: Killing Eve

Killing Eve: Season 2, Episode 7 “Wide Awake” (B+)

It’s pretty mesmerizing to see Villanelle in action being courted by Aaron and letting him do things like order food for her and demand that she sit still. I thought that forcing her to spit out the chocolate she was enjoying would be the last straw, but she managed to keep her cool and has more access to him than anyone else has seemingly ever had. It also appeared that he caught on to her recording their conversations when he was watching her on the screen, but he hasn’t. Villanelle’s performance under pressure may have been commendable, but the sight of Niko waking up to see a suffocated Gemma sitting all wrapped up across from him demonstrates that she’s taking out her urges to kill in a far more destructive and horrific manner. Hugo thanking Eve for the threesome was so on-point, and though Eve didn’t seem to expect the question about whether she and Villanelle have sex, there’s definitely an attraction shared between them. I’m not sure what Villanelle’s aim was in killing Gemma other than to punish Niko for mistreating Eve, but I’d think that she would want to get rid of the competition rather than encourage Niko to run back and warn Eve about the psychopath far too involved in her life. Carolyn and Konstantin are working so closely together that they have to understand what might be happening between their best and most unpredictable assets. I’m curious to see where things go after the upcoming season finale.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl (Season Finale)

Supergirl: Season 4, Episode 22 “The Quest for Peace” (B)

This was a pretty decent, action-packed finale, though I’m not terribly excited by what’s coming next based on the ending of this hour. Lex had a blast singing along and playing the hero after we saw that the president is truly a puppet he finds irritating, and he enjoyed summoning his sister and mother to the White House even though it took mere moments for his mother to try to poison him. The notion of harnessing alien power and selling it is indeed an interesting if immoral business plan, and it seems that some of Lex’s allies are okay with that but don’t want to have to deal with his obsessive attitude towards Kryptonians and need for world domination. Lockwood was particularly upset with being manipulated by Lex, though that didn’t take away his fury towards Supergirl for representing the aliens he continues to hate. Red Daughter surviving and saving Supergirl was a fitting way to send out that character, and I like that they were able to defeat Lex in part thanks to the power of journalism, which in this world managed to work even if such things aren’t always as successful in real life these days. Dreamer and Hank did a formidable job of saving everyone, and it’s good to have the old Brainy back. Lex saved his best trick for last, revealing to Lena that she couldn’t trust her best friends since they had lied to her all along about Kara being Supergirl. The fact that she didn’t confront Kara when she came over for game night means her hatred is going to stew and build, making her a true enemy for the team. The appearance of the Monitor at the end of the episode and the introduction of Hank’s vengeful brother hardly seems like the best focus for the next season, though hopefully that will all play out in a magnificent way in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover that may well serve as the opener in the fall. This has been a good season if not a fantastic one, and I’m still on board for more in the future.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Sam Witwer as Ben Lockwood

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Pilot Review: Catch-22

I'm trying something new with my pilot reviews, so from now on, check out video takes on each new series, which I'll embed below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.

Take Three: Dead to Me

Dead to Me: Season 1, Episode 3 “It’s All My Fault” (B+)

It’s helpful to get the clarification that Steve wasn’t aware that Jen’s husband was the man they hit, since it seemed extremely manipulative for him to be considering Judy crazy when he was acting pretty terribly by working with her to sell his house. This reveals instead that he’s just not that bright, evidenced also by his excuse to his parents that his “tummy” hurt when she called him to be bailed out, eliciting a fantastic response from Judy that he should be able to come up with something better given that he’s forty-four years old. I don’t think that the two of them lapsing back into a romance is the best idea given that Judy seems to be doing well with Jen and her family, though the guilt she’s feeling is eating away at her. I was worried, as I’m sure everyone watching was, that Judy’s very enlightening balloon message would come floating back down, and instead we got a surprise of different order in the form of a woman on Jen’s husband’s game who appears to have been sleeping with him. I don’t think she’ll express the same rage when she tracks her down as she does when she’s hunting dented cars, but I am eager to learn more. Jen has a very harsh relationship with her mother-in-law, who is incredibly condescending and terrifies the hilarious Christopher, who got a great showcase in this episode. I also enjoyed Abe’s less-than-friendly greeting when Steve showed up to see Judy.

What I’m Watching: Ramy

Ramy: Season 1, Episode 5 “Do the Ramadan” (B+)

This was a really great episode, and it’s so interesting to see the parallels between Islam and Judaism, the latter of whichis far more familiar to me. Sarah named one, which is that she doesn’t even fast for Yom Kippur and he avoids food and other voices all day for an entire month. Watching Orthodox Jews and his uncle eating while he was at work demonstrated the way that the world doesn’t conform to or stop based on his observance, and the run-in with his construction worker classmate whose mom was sick exemplified both how religion is often tied into everyday life in a simple, casual way like praying out on the street and how people often want spontaneous prayer when that’s not a concept natural to either Islam or Judaism. “Don’t break my balls, do the Ramadan” was a memorable line, and, after everything, he found out at the end of the episode that his mother did die, a sad note on which to conclude as accompanied by the woman’s son asking him if he was a bad guy. Being interviewed by a woman seeking marriage made for the most entertaining scene of the episode, with a few backhanded compliments praising his own assessment of his flaws and suggesting the atonement that he could be doing if he actually wanted to do it. I liked his idea about taking Arabic with his kids so that he could demonstrate a commitment to continued learning, a notion she shot down brutally with a scientific conclusion that the brain stops developing at twenty-five.

What I’m Watching: Doom Patrol

Doom Patrol: Season 1, Episode 14 “Penultimate Patrol” (B+)

We’re getting towards the end here, and while I’ve seen some reports that this show was renewed for a second season before the first premiered, I’m not entirely sure that’s the case. This focused hour involved the welcome return of Danny the Street, a friend of Flex’s and a helpful ally who gave them useful information despite still not wanting to cross Mr. Nobody. While their victory wasn’t nearly as decisive as they seemed to think, it’s true that this Doom Patrol isn’t the same team they were the first time Mr. Nobody tried – and succeeded – to get in their heads. Recognizing the situation that was around them was a huge first step, and kudos to Rita for realizing that she too could narrate and take away some of Mr. Nobody’s power. Stripping his ego down was a far more effective manner of combat than Cyborg just showing up to blast him away, though apparently that didn’t actually happen. Shifting to the Chief experiencing a wonderful morning filled with breakfast and followed by the certain destruction of the team over and over was a formidable way of demonstrating that the threat he poses is far from gone, and if he really is so invincible and unstoppable, I don’t know how things can end next episode. Unlike Mr. Nobody, I don’t feel that this show has really gone off-course in the time since its pilot, but it’s still good to return to where it all started. I’m excited for the finale, and I really hope there’s much more of this show after it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

What I’m Watching: Better Things

Better Things: Season 3, Episode 11 “Get Lit” (B+)

This show aired its season finale this past week, and so I just have one more installment left after this and I’ll be fully caught up. I was surprised to see this show listed as one of Entertainment Weekly’s official early predictions to make a first-time appearance in the Best Comedy Series race when Emmy nominations are announced this year, and I’m curious whether installments like this one – and the others like it this season – will play with voters. It’s definitely hypnotic, but there’s a non-narrative aesthetic that’s both captivating and also hard to grasp onto since the plot rarely proceeds in a straightforward way. Opening the episode with a psychic in the house talking about a male presence was entertaining for the vicious treatment he got from Phil, who was ready to call out each of his parlor tricks as being easily contrived and guessed. Sam going ballistic on Max’s friends for smoking in the house was a solid scene, and she even managed to make Paisley cry, something that doesn’t seem all that hard, similar to Max’s own master manipulation of her mother. Frankie’s poetry contest performance was indeed impressive, though Sam should have realized that she wouldn’t be thrilled to be shown physical affection given the nature of her writing’s content. Sam’s response to the woman talking about her grandchild in the bathroom was pretty hilarious, commenting on the intensity of her experience and eliciting a simple disapproving “no” from her. It’s moments like those that really enhance this show.

What I’m Watching: iZombie

iZombie: Season 5, Episode 3 “Five, Six, Seven, Ate!” (B+)

This is the first time in a while that we’ve seen such an immersive episode based on the brain(s) that Liv was eating. I like that she was able to choose between two brains so that they could deduce as much as possible about the dancers, and that Ravi was bullied immensely by the first brain she ate and then supported entirely by the second. Ravi was so nervous about his performance, yet he somehow managed to keep up the act and actually do pretty decently when forced to dance, even with Liv out of the picture after a sudden flash of memory was triggered during their set. The best part of this episode was Clive, who got to express sentiments not usually seen in two different major plotlines. His enthusiasm for dancing was a lot of fun, and I liked seeing him and Liv dance as they were trying to show Ravi that he would be able to learn. Attending birthing classes with Dale was fun to watch too, with his attentiveness to notetaking and his planning for the worst, quickly shifted to tremendous awkwardness when Michelle showed up in the class expecting a baby that he thought might be his. Dale choosing to be nice to her was refreshing. Major and Peyton making nice after their tiff was good to see, and the knowledge that humans have died helping zombies is an important step forward in positive societal relations. This episode didn’t provide a neat ending to its mystery, and I’m curious to learn more about who has been poisoning all these dancers.

What I’m Watching: The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Episode 8 “Point of Origin” (B)

This episode was decidedly dark, taking its protagonist from her high perch in society to a place where she couldn’t even help herself, unable to identify what’s real about her own history or to deny what other people tell her is true. I appreciated the casting of Ginnifer Goodwin as Eve since I remember being disappointed by the lackluster nature of her real-world character in “Once Upon a Time,” and it’s good to see her display so much energy here, transforming Eve from disconnected socialite to powerless prisoner. James Frain from “True Blood” was a natural choice to play the interrogator, who has a sinister presence in everything he does, even if he’s supposed to be good guy. His demeanor here didn’t indicate any sympathy for the woman he was questioning, and he was all too happy to apologize only to her husband and sons for treating them wrongly when he still didn’t release her. Tricking her into believing that she was released and confiding in her husband was enough to get her to confirm what he had suspected all along, though that wasn’t nearly as horrific as the real reaction her husband had when she was able to catch a ride home with the ice cream man. I suppose the moral of this episode was that we really can’t change where we come from even if we accomplish so much, an important parable with easily recognizable parallels to immigration in the United States as expressed early on by the relationship between Eve and Anna.

What I’m Watching: Brockmire

Brockmire: Season 3, Episode 7 “Disabled List” (B+)

I’ve been very pleased with how this season has played out, remaining consistently engaging and making fantastic use of its characters. I’ve been waiting for Christine Woods to be showcased as Maggie, and we got that in a big way here. Brockmire experiencing a lack of sex drive could have been an irritating, throwaway plotline, but something about this new sober version of him has made him considerably more appealing and sympathetic. As a result, it was fun to see him so frustrated by his situation, in one case taking out his anger on a wheelchair-bound member of his addiction support group. Shirley gives it to him straight, and it’s entertaining to see her explain to him why he doesn’t have it nearly as bad as he thinks. Maggie was also appropriately encouraging in a different way, and it seems like the two of them may just last if they managed to surmount this obstacle in a lighthearted way. And they even got it to work in the car at the end of the episode, something that Maggie celebrated with surprise as it lasted a whole lot longer than she expected once it finally started. Brockmire may have been overly optimistic about Matt’s chances for recovery, but it turns out that he was able to be there in exactly the right way for him at the end. I don’t think that this show has terrific Emmy prospects, but I’d love to see some love in the guest categories for both J.K. Simmons and Woods, not to mention a few of the other guest stars we’ve seen this season.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 5, Episode 8 “Chapter Eighty-Nine” (B+)

It’s nice to be right in the middle of the narrative here as most of the other shows I’m watching are finishing out their seasons. This was a difficult episode to watch since Jane got so excited by the idea that Rafael wanted to initiate plans with her and that them rocking it as educational co-parents was a sign that their relationship was going to work out. As usual, a grand romantic gesture works better in practice – or on paper – than in real life, especially when, as has tended to be the case, she ends up putting Rafael in a truly uncomfortable position at work. I like that Rogelio and Jane’s relationship was also the focus of this episode, and they were both able to teach each other plenty about what’s important. The Ro-morse basket was a nice touch, and I enjoyed Rogelio cautioning Jane about her texting when every instinct of his was telling him to do the opposite. It was wonderful to see Jorge finally realize after they rocked the immigration interview that he does love Alba, and now they can be together when they’re not actually required to anymore. Petra discovering that it was her daughters who were staging threats so that they could rid of JR was devastating, and good for JR for matching the determination that Petra showed a little bit ago and declaring that she wasn’t going to give up on them just yet. Seeing that Rose’s henchman, who is also posing as Luisa’s best friend, is tailing Rafael is a bad note on which to end the episode, a sign of much more drama to come soon.

What I’m Watching: You, Me, Her

You, Me, Her: Season 4, Episode 6 “Eat Your Strangers and Don't Talk to Vegetables!” (B)

I liked this episode better than the previous one now that the guru isn’t being prominently featured hacking away at the stability of this thruple. The seeds of doubt, however, are there, and the literal gifting of a door from Jack and Emma wasn’t going to make up for that. Izzy and Nathan are still trying to figure out ways to push each other beyond their respective comfort zones, something that isn’t going all too well at the moment. Izzy isn’t nearly as realistic about boundaries and what’s actually possible as the other two partners in her relationship, and now this show is shifting its focus slightly to the younger generations at school. I guess it makes some sense that the sexual orientations and identities of those exploring themselves in high school would be worthy of spotlighting, which in itself presents some complications as people try to be more interesting and diverse than they are in order to appear more attractive. I still don’t find that nearly as enticing as following the main characters, and there’s no way this show could continue without its three protagonists still fully at its center. Lala has made herself new friends and allies in Emma’s next-door neighbors, and the Trakarskys seem to be their primary targets, not that she has nearly as much power as she likes to believe and try to wield. I like that we nearly saw Carmen and Dave together again, though she pulled the typical trick pretending that the signal was cutting out on them.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

What I’m Watching: The Flash (Season Finale)

The Flash: Season 5, Episode 22 “Legacy” (B+)

Overall, I’d say this was a pretty good finale, even if it has felt for the past few episodes like things have dragged a bit, especially when it came to Cicada. I’m usually all for the time travel that occurs on this show, but I don’t know why it was that Eobard’s execution in the future was so synced-up with the moment in the present when the dagger was destroyed. It was cool to see Barry and Nora show up there to reverse the time that he had used to take out the guards around him, but now he’s gotten away and declared that he’ll Barry at the next crisis, which apparently is coming sooner than expected as a result. Nora disappearing from existence has been a long time coming because of the extensive time she spent with Team Flash before her birth, and now it’s going to be up to Barry and Iris to actually have a child and raise her in a different way than she experienced during her childhood. Cicada’s disappearance took a bit longer, but at least the younger Grace is going to have a better life with a much kinder outlook on the universe. Cisco taking the metahuman cure makes more sense after learning that Carlos Valdes is leaving the show, and while he’s been an integral part of it since season one, there are more than enough people around now to fill the void created by his absence. I like that Singh acknowledged that he’s known for a while that Barry was the Flash, and Joe’s promotion to captain is a deserved one that honors his many years of service to the force. Overall, this hasn’t been a fantastic season, but I’m still eager to see what comes next for this show and its characters.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Grant Gustin as Barry

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 4, Episode 15 “Terms of Service” (B-)

It was interesting starting this episode with young Zari in 2019 watching Neray (a great name) broadcasting warnings of dangerous monsters among the human population. I did notice that they left the backpack with the dragon egg in it, resulting in an ending that reminded me of young Ray meeting an untimely end back when he and the rest of the legends were going to be wiped from the timeline. This show is trying to balance its demonic content with the Fairy Godmother, who expressed no qualms with fellow witch Nora only to trick her into agreeing to take on her role, both freeing her and indebting her to Gary, which ultimately might not have turned out to be so bad had he not instantly banished her to hell without realizing who she was now. Punitively turning the legends into a big baby, a high school nerd, and nonstop dancers was rather petty, but it was a good point that Gary made when he noted that he didn’t want to send them to hell but instead just to hang out with them. Now that he’s officially a part of the team, they may be able to defeat Neray, though Constantine isn’t doing too well in hell since he has precious few friends there, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’m not sure what will be resolved in the finale, but I’m hopeful that the focus will shift from Constantine and these magical creatures and instead to some new threat for which the legends are hopelessly unprepared but nonetheless eager to combat.

Pilot Review: LA's Finest

I'm trying something new with my pilot reviews, so from now on, check out video takes on each new series, which I'll embed below and you can also watch by subscribing to movieswithabe on YouTube.