Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 7 “The Darkest Place” (B+)

As new superpowered beings are showing up in National City, it’s important to understand who is an ally and who is an enemy. Though he doesn’t actually have any special abilities, James is doing a bang-up job as the Guardian, and it’s only natural that someone far more set on vengeance would follow him around and give him a bad name. That threat was neutralized pretty quickly, and the only relevant development is that Alex knows that James is Guardian and that Winn is his right-hand man. Megan was initially a friend and now she’s revealed herself to be a compassionate White Martian, who has already done enough damage to Hank by giving him her blood. And then we have the real Hank, who is not a nice guy and who really, really hates aliens, who got enough of Kara’s blood to go impersonate her and gain entry into a place where he can do plenty of damage. I’m curious as to whether Jeremiah was actually free to roam around and help Kara and Mon-El escape, or if he’s instead a part of Lillian’s nefarious plot. It didn’t take long for Mon-El to realize that Kara may well be the mate of his dreams, and I suspect she won’t be too resistant to the idea. Though she shut it down when Alex came out and kissed her, I think that Maggie is coming around to the idea of a romance with Alex that is likely to blossom in the near future.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What I’m Watching: Insecure

Insecure: Season 1, Episode 7 “Real as F**k” (B+)

Issa has gotten to a point where it’s no longer a real question about how successful she’ll be in her job, as evidenced by her terrific event and Joanne asking her where she’d be in a year and assuring her that this is the person she’s wanted to see all along. Though she made a quick comment about it, she didn’t even have to be worried about the kids stealing anything in the fancy house that most of her work colleagues couldn’t believe actually belonged to a black person. Instead, it was her personal life that imploded like crazy just at that one event. Lawrence did a spectacular job in his interview, netting a job offer on the spot, and it’s great to see him bounce back from the monotony of Best Buy to do something that actually excites him. But Issa wasn’t even up for entertaining the idea of him trying to make a go at his app, and then, after he met Daniel at the event, exploded at Issa when she didn’t deny sleeping with him. He wasn’t violent with her, but his reaction certainly was violent. And Issa is going to be hurting bad because she also offended Molly by pointing out that she always looks for something to be wrong with the men she dates, leading to imperfections ruining great possibilities. Getting turned away by Jered was a harsh end to her day, and I do hope that in the season finale they’ll at least be able to make peace since the prospects for both of them at the moment are looking quite grim.

What I’m Watching: Divorce

Divorce: Season 1, Episode 7 “Weekend Plans” (B+)

We’re at an interesting point with the dynamic between these two characters as their lawyers take over and it doesn’t go exactly as planned. First, we know that Robert is beyond broke as we learn that he has an astonishing nine properties to his name, all of which are located in some area that one day, decades from now, may be up-and-coming and worth something. Frances is responsible for that debt, which means that all the money she’s earned that Robert could try to take in the divorce won’t mean much since has absolutely nothing to offer and in fact something to take. Max’s mini-stroke seems like sincere cause for concern, and assuring Frances that he put on a show during their initial meeting wasn’t too comforting when he immediately opened the door to a break room instead of the exit to the elevator bank. If nothing else, Max’s behavior did tame Tony, who saved his vicious, chauvinistic language for private meetings with a totally clueless Robert. I enjoyed the casting of Mary McCormack as Kathy, the woman Robert almost slept with on September 11th who was not at all amused by his efforts to renew their would-be affair now that he’s single. Robert lashed out at the barista who had always flirted him once he found out that she had a boyfriend, quite the double standard given the fact that he was married the whole time. Best of all, when Robert heard someone else use his “weekend plans” line, he knew he would score, and it seems like he’s a tiny bit more invested in this one-night middle-of-the-afternoon stand he had with Gillian Vigman’s Janice.

What I’m Watching: The Affair

The Affair: Season 3, Episode 1 (B+)

I’ve always found this show to be really good, and I’m glad to see that it’s continuing well past its original premise. It’s strange to see just one perspective for this whole hour and only a brief scene or two featuring another of the main four characters, but it’s not as if Noah’s version of events suggests that he’s in a particularly good place. He looks very different with his beard, and he seemed so far from invested in his father’s funeral. Someone asking him if he was married to Jennifer Esposito’s Nina, who is his sister, showed just how much he’s been relying on her, and her husband expressed some unfiltered anger about Noah getting his father’s house. Helen is way back being vindictive and just wants Noah to be in their children’s lives, but he’s too distracted by his own loneliness. I recognized Sarah Ramos from her role as Haddie on “Parenthood” when her eager student was eviscerated by a distant Noah in class, and she got an excellent opportunity to air her grievances and accuse his book of apologizing for rape at a dinner party. As soon as we met Irene Jacob’s Juliette, it was obvious that Noah was going to sleep with her, but apparently Alison is so out of the picture that she told him not to call her anymore. It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not with Noah’s paranoia about being followed and to figure out how to interpret that final scene. What’s clear is that his time in prison really messed with his head, and we’ll see how that plays out in subsequent episodes. I’m interested to see where the other half of this show’s main players are.

What I’m Watching: Westworld

Westworld: Season 1, Episode 8 “Trace Decay” (B+)

This show continues to be immensely fascinating in its portrayal of artificial intelligence and its evolution way beyond what its creators ever intended or thought possible. Bernard being brought back online by Dr. Ford and being told that he was responsible for a lot of his own emotions was extremely eye-opening, and his processing of how he exists is incredibly interesting. Dr. Ford erased all memory of the closeness of his relationship with Theresa, but that doesn’t mean other people have forgotten, which is sure to make him question the nature of his reality and his memories. Maeve has made tremendous strides in owning her experience and commanding others, testing out what she can do just to be able to create chaos and know that she can. Killing one of the techs was a formidable display of power, and it seems that she’s been capable of much more consciousness since the very beginning, when the Man in Black wanted to see what he was capable of in the wake of his wife’s suicide. It turns out that she’s not the only one, since Teddy, after being stabbed, opened his eyes wide open. I hadn’t expected that the Man in Black would be in such a vulnerable position after Teddy, just like Dolores, experienced flashbacks that showed the kind of man that his mysterious colleague was. I still can’t get around the fact that so much takes place in this vast world that its creators don’t even know is going on.

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 7, Episode 8 “You Sold Me the Laundromat, Remember?” (B+)

Starting this episode with panning shots of everyone sleeping in different places was effective as a summary of what has happened so far and where everyone is now. Fiona, free of her responsibilities to her family, got much more than she bargained for with her purchase of the laundromat and Etta’s dementia-fueled excessive credit card spending. That’s why it was so great to see Kev, frustrated with feeling like Svetlana had manipulated him and stolen Veronica away from him, come to Fiona for advice, offering physical labor in return. Giving away free drinks to those lowlifes at the bar who came to help fix up the laundromat was the best idea he could have had, and they were actually very helpful. Leave it to Frank to pretend to be an old woman’s dead husband just to be able to sleep in a warm bed, bouncing back from his latest con with the washing machine to mildly honest work helping out in the laundromat. Debs taking Franny to meet Derek’s family to get them to put in a favorable call to DCFS wasn’t the worst idea, but she’s now all but lost her daughter thanks to the aggressive threats she was making caught on video, bringing this show back to its dramatic roots. Lip’s hearing went very well, though the verdict being what it was suggested that he never should have gone in the first place now that it’s totally ruined an amazing relationship with Sierra. He’s going to be in bad shape going forward, which is really a shame considering how well he seemed to be doing.

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season 7, Episode 5 “Go Getters” (B-)

So this show is capable of multitasking, though we don’t get to see quite everyone in this hour, with just a brief glimpse of Rick and no sign or mention of Ezekiel’s kingdom. I just wish I found this part of the plotline more engaging. I’m a big fan of Xander Berkeley and have been puzzled to see his name in the credits each episode when he hasn’t appeared prior to this episode, but now he’s back as Gregory who, recovered from what he calls a stabbing misunderstanding, isn’t eager to do anything else to make the Saviors angry. It’s good to see Jesus, who initially showed up as a troublemaker, turn into the best friend that our group could have asked for and a loyal ally in their efforts to resist and eventually kill Negan. It was good to see Maggie and Sasha take charge of the situation and team up with Jesus to stand up to Gregory, who was ready to give them up right before the Saviors made him kneel just to humiliate him. Maggie saying grace at the end of the episode was a nostalgic callback to Hershel’s preacher past, and a rare moment of calm coupled with Carl’s rollerskating outing. Seeing Jesus hop into the back of the Saviors’ truck at the end of the episode was at least some sign that excitement and action is soon coming, hopefully in the form of freedom for our friends, and it’s a good thing that he’s there since Carl was ready to get himself in big trouble by going after Negan alone.

Monday, November 28, 2016

What I’m Watching: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 1, Episode 5 “Very Erectus” (B+)

What defines this show as weird and awesome is the way that its events play out around its two most magnetic characters, Dirk and Bart, intent on fulfilling fate even when it seems unlikely or even impossible. That Dirk would say something general about the next hole they dug was obviously going to lead to that being where the treasure was, and it was an extremely therapeutic episode for Dirk and Todd. Dirk yelling at Todd to stop calling himself an asshole since he’s actually a good friend was nice, and Todd opening up to him about faking his disease represents a true bond for them. And then there’s stuff like the cat turning into a blue shark hologram and taking out the two assailants who were ready to take them down to keep this show strange. Bart pointing out that Ken was still there after everything that had happened when she was experiencing the hotel room in her own unique way caused him to sigh and seriously consider his situation, and it was only later when she got tired of just being normal and went outside to kill someone in broad daylight. Of course, she didn’t actually have to do anything, just taunt a random man enough to compel him to walk into the street and get hit by a car. I love Amanda’s newfound relationship with the Rowdy 3, and we had our closest call with Colonel Riggins, who has now gotten himself kicked off his own assignment, putting all of our subjects at great risk. Zimmerfield taking an arrow to the chest was an unfortunate development, and I’m very intrigued to see what happens now with just three episodes left in the season.

What I’m Watching: Goliath

Goliath: Season 1, Episode 6 “Line of Fire” (B+)

Billy is certainly unconventional in the way that he does things, but he’s also facing totally unsurmountable challenges in ensuring the safety of things related to his case and his own person. Nearly getting run over when he tried to confront the man who was tailing him was almost the best thing to happen to Billy during the whole hour, and opening his trunk after almost getting plowed by the tanker to find a dead body inside was not a great development. I was surprised that Donald was so eager to meet Billy in person, especially given his aversion to light and public appearances. You’d think that Billy would be the less mature and more vindictive one in the relationship, but Donald took that honor handily, taunting Billy just to be mean. Donald is losing patience for those he does call friends and colleagues, making a big show with Wendell to intimidate Lenny into submission and shouting down Michelle for daring to question his stewardship. Callie took an aggressive step by forcibly revealing her affair with Michelle to Denise, and that had to be partially motivated by Donald’s favoring and manipulation of Lucy in the case. Billy stopping by the judge’s home to fill him in on new evidence was bold but not unlike him, and hopefully that was enough to ensure that he won’t be totally screwed given everything else that happened in this episode. I appreciated the casting of Sarah Baker from “Louie” as Lilly, Ned’s ex, whereas Jason Ritter playing Agent Farley was a bit of a stranger choice.

What I’m Watching: Luke Cage

Luke Cage: Season 1, Episode 8 “Blowin’ Up the Spot” (B+)

I’m still reeling from the shock of Cottonmouth’s death, and his absence in this hour is definitely felt. Shades and Mariah make a formidable pair, both equally ambitious and eager to take over for the void that has been left now that Harlem’s biggest player is dead. Their relationship is also complicated, and Mariah wasn’t impressed by the way that he talked down to her because she was in shock. They’re going to make an interesting pair, and Shades is wasting no time in letting people know that they work for him now, whether or not they’re going to comply with his authority. Misty knew there was something up with the story provided that framed Luke as Cottonmouth’s killer, but she’s still trying to arrest him even though Claire provided an alibi for him and then didn’t crack even when Misty tried to choke her out. Luke had a hell of a time dealing with his newest adversary who, in truly dramatic fashion, revealed himself to be the mysterious, shady, all-powerful Diamondback. Saying that it wasn’t fair that he sent Luke to hell and then he came back with superpowers made the entire mythology of this show seem infinitely smaller and more contained than it usually feels, and it’s hard for Luke to get a break when someone no one really knows exists or understands is coming after him while he’s being set up for another murder he didn’t even know happened. Diamondback was relentless, and Luke can only take destructive bullets so many times before he’s truly down for the count.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

What I’m Watching: Longmire

Longmire: Season 5, Episode 9 “Continual Soiree” (B+)

I didn’t realize that I was just one episode from the end of the season, but it makes a lot of sense given the way that this episode ended. I’m surprised that it took Walt this long to figure out that Henry was Hector, but once Cady mentioned the only visit Henry had paid her, it took him very little time to put it all together. Usually, I’m not a fan of fleeting flashbacks to assist viewers in understanding characters’ realizations, but in this case they worked very well. I expected Walt to end the episode by outright asking Henry if he was Hector, but instead he downed a whole beer and then pummeled him in his bar, a much more emphatic and destructive way of dealing with the situation. This show, which is a procedural, has done a marvelous job of cultivating continuing narratives and recurring players, and bringing back Peter Stormare’s Chance Gilbert was enormously effective in this hour. To think that he can represent himself in court and diminish the proven fact that he kidnapped and tortured Vic is horrifying, and the way that he and news outlets are publicizing Vic kissing Walt is getting out of hand. Walt has a lot of enemies, and people who have never met like Chance, Jacob, and Tucker are doing a great job of trying to mar his reputation and take him down. He doesn’t even have to think about the Irish mob because he has far too many people willing to see him fall in town.

What I’m Watching: Transparent

Transparent: Season 3, Episode 9 “Off the Grid” (B+)

After a few uneven episodes, this penultimate installment brought things back towards a more coherent close. Ali flying to Kansas City as soon as Josh called her did seem like a bit of an extreme move – almost as much as him deciding to put down roots there – and though I’m going to be happy when Leslie is gone from her life and this show, she’s totally right that Ali seems to be using any excuse she can to get the hell away from her. The most poignant and emphatic moment in this episode came from Colton of all people, who, as the most polite and honest person ever to appear on this show, finally broke the news to Josh that he wasn’t headed on the right path and shouldn’t be moving his whole life so quickly. That’s just the wake-up call that Josh needs to get back home, and hopefully he can find happiness now that this chapter of his life has been appropriately bookended. Sarah is in rough shape with both Raquel and Pony suddenly gone from her life, and Len was sweet to try to help stand in to fulfill her fetish, but clearly that mixed with kindness doesn’t work for her. Buzz making up a story about a fake wife was the last straw Shelly needed to be rid of him, and it’s very sad to see that development considering how supportive he seemed and how happy she was. And then there’s Maura, who doesn’t want to be told that she can’t be the woman she wants to be, who went out partying at the end of the episode and appeared to be having a truly fulfilling and transformative sexual experience, one that might be real and might just be in her head.

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 2, Episode 5 “Why is Josh's Ex-Girlfriend Eating Carbs?” (B)

It was strange to see this episode starting off with Rebecca imagining a version of caveman times where she and Valencia were fighting over Josh, mainly because her fantasies are usually contained in songs and dance numbers. It was a fitting introduction to the content of the episode, however, since Rebecca did kidnap Valencia and bring her to a place that they could both explore their feelings about Josh and about being independent women, aided by the accidental ingestion of some trippy drugs. I’m glad that the trips didn’t last too long and that they just resulted in the two women expressing distinct feelings, followed by the immediate unexpected arrival of one Josh Chan. Peeing on his equipment was an interesting form of revenge, and, taken aback as he was by their mean and gross behavior, his thoughts seem to have already taken him to a new romantic interest who looks a whole lot like Brittany Snow. Who would have ever guessed that Rebecca would end up being friends with Heather and Valencia? That final scene was full of emotion, especially since Paula has just replaced one kind of shenanigans with another as she befriended Sunil on the first day of class and broke into someone’s house right away. Darryl meeting White Josh’s endless exes seemed like it might doom their relationship to failure, but Darryl introducing his loving boyfriend to his daughter was a really sweet way to end the episode and signal that at least one couple on this show is doing well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 2, Episode 4 “Cheap Promotion Flying Birthday” (B)

It’s rare that both members of a couple feel the same way about money, and that they agree all the time about how returns, refunds, and service in general should work. Matt was visibly uncomfortable with the idea of returning something he purchased three years ago to a store, and apparently Colleen was far more into it, which proved to be very entertaining and got way out of control when his efforts to please her desire for frugal finds led to the purchase of both pregnancy tests and condoms at a dollar store. Heather working in Tim’s office should have just been a punchline, but instead it was dragged out into a few segments where the usually relatively self-aware Heather couldn’t understand why Tim wouldn’t want every part of his personal life brought into the workplace. I’m just glad that’s all over. Sophia’s nervous flight with her grandfather was sweet and affirming, and it’s hard to tell just what John planned and what he didn’t when every other sentence out of his mouth is, “Oh, did I say that?” It feels like Lark should be much older than just one at this point, but there’s still plenty of time for differences over the legitimacy of putting whiskey on her gums, a decision that I think is frequently the subject of debate between parents and those who believe they know better. Clementine and Tyler’s performance was truly terrible, and I’m glad to see that they’re not giving up despite their sincere lack of talent.

What I’m Watching: The Great Indoors

The Great Indoors: Season 1, Episode 4 “You Don’t Know Jack” (B)

This show continues to be entertaining even if it’s hardly the most sophisticated series on the air at the moment. This episode in particular was a skewering parody of the 90s and the way that cultural norms and technology have evolved. Finding an atlas and exclaiming that “they used to print out Google Maps” was the epitome of the inability of our three millennial employees to comprehend what once was, and they didn’t even know where to start with the cassette that was in Jack’s answering machine. I love that Emma was the one who got invested in the search for information about Jack’s ex since she usually isn’t as invested as her male colleagues, and she masterfully hid four empty Red Bull cans to go along with the eight on her desk, leading to an inevitable crash shortly thereafter. If Jack was a hacker’s greatest challenge because he never posts anything, Jessie was much easier to track and locate. I couldn’t figure out where I knew her from, and it turns out that she was played by Dorian Brown, best known for her role as Ryan’s sister Kristen on “Wilfred.” Finding out that she cheated on him was definitely a blow, but it helped him to move on to be his own person. I’m still excited to learn more about his romance with Brooke, who shocked her underlings in this installment by dressing up in a way that showed her to be far less square than they all thought.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2, Episode 6 “Outlaw Country” (B)

There are so many characters on this show that I find it’s often hard to keep track. The only reason I recognized Jonah Hex was because of the scar on his face, though I still can’t recall exactly how he fits into all of this. Nearly getting hung in the 1870s was a great reason for the crew to come back to save him, and the notable guest of the hour was Jeff Fahey from “Lost” as Turnbull. I think the best part of the episode was, after Mick burned money in front of Turnbull to start a fight with him, they ended up drinking together and liking each other. Amaya’s comment that they might end up getting matching tattoos was very entertaining. The conversations Mick and Amaya had about unleashing their inner animals and controlling them were interesting, and I think she’s a great addition to the show for a number of reasons. Nate had a superb episode of growth as he drew a superhero costume and then earned it in real life by stopping a train with his steel skeleton after getting shot. The new memories that Stein is experiencing are cause for concern, and I’m not sure how the team will be able to rectify that. This impending return to 2016 should be fortuitous to fill in what has changed, though I suspect there may not be time for too much of that given what’s sure to be an epic four-series crossover which I can’t wait to experience.

What I’m Watching: You’re the Worst (Season Finale)

You’re the Worst: Season 3, Episode 12 and 13 “You Knew It Was a Snake” and “No Longer Just Us” (B+)

As this show wraps its third season, what could be better than two back-to-back episodes to close out the year? It was helpful to have both of these installments so that the first one could feature all three couples having blowout fights and the second could survey the damage and the aftermath. I’m sad to see Dorothy go, but I think there are a number of reasons that she and Edgar weren’t fated to last. Their conversation about minorities having an advantage in the industry wasn’t headed anywhere good, giving Edgar the rare moral upper hand, but it was actually an act of kindness and thoughtfulness on his part – almost not taking another job – that really sealed the deal, demonstrating to Dorothy that it just wasn’t going to work. Lindsay telling Paul that he knew it was a snake was initially therapeutic and then produced a worrisome response – “Lawyer up, bitch!” He tried his best to be cruel in their proceedings, offering her $2000 a month and laughing that she had no concept of how much things cost, and that taking a picture of a check didn’t actually constitute depositing it. Being dismissed when he tried to greet Becca and Vernon’s baby showed that there would be lasting consequences to his decision, and it’s a good thing that Lindsay isn’t going to go back and stay with her sister again. I think that Edgar and Lindsay are a great match, not necessarily romantically but as good friends, so it will be good to see them living together again. Jimmy writing 35 pages just to spite Gretchen helped resolve one issue, and even though he didn’t take back his kids remark, he did find inspiration in his muse. That he would exert the energy to create a fake “Murder She Tweeted” Twitter account and stage a crime scene to make her happy was surprisingly wonderful, and his proposal was marvelously sweet. That would have been a happy ending, but of course on this show we see him get so scared by the word family and abandon her with the fireworks going off behind her. What an ending, and I can’t wait to see what season four has in store for this show, which just had what might be its best year yet.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Aya Cash as Gretchen

What I’m Watching: Rectify

Rectify: Season 4, Episode 4 “Go Ask Roger” (B+)

Often, when shows are nearing their end, there’s a sense that the characters’ stories are wrapping up. I’ve noted the slow pacing on this show, so there’s definitely no rush in tying up all the loose ends, but it’s clear that, at least back at home, things are changing. The sight of Teddy in a suit was jarring, and he was all business during the meeting with the man who wanted to buy out the store. Finding out that the shop might get bought for $650,000 and that they could sell the inventory separately makes this all very real, and the bigger question is what would unite the family if they weren’t engaged in this business together. I enjoyed Janet verbalizing her hatred of the expression “ran the numbers,” and she, unlike Teddy, did a great job keeping her cool during the initial meeting. Ted Sr. offering to come with Janet to visit Daniel is a kind move, and hopefully that visit will be therapeutic. Chloe’s influence on Daniel is hypnotic, and her telling him to “completely surrender to the gelato experience” was exactly the kind of positive experience he needs in his life. That made it all the more discouraging and disturbing to see Daniel regress to the existence he had in prison when he returned home to the sounds of his roommate masturbating in the bed next to him. Amantha’s hunting trip was full of intriguing and enlightening moments as always. Jon isn’t ready to let things go, and, this because the show that it is, that means that he’s going to continue witnessing and commenting on how those left behind are living as compared to what Daniel could be experiencing.

What I’m Watching: Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Traitor” (C+)

I’ve written a lot recently about what kind of show this series wants to be, and I think I’m getting my answer. I liked the excitement that Tom felt when he was able to successfully execute Emily’s plan to turn a very bad situation with an American CIA informant under arrest in Russia into a three-way trade that would benefit all countries involved. That he turned out to be a converted Russian double agent was a disappointment, especially since that information was so easily and immediately accessible after he didn’t disembark the plane. More problematic and disappointing, however, was the bombshell development at the end of the episode where it was confirmed that Jason’s son wasn’t just lost but was in fact being held hostage by nefarious criminals who have already declared their intention to have Jason give a message to the president when he meets privately with him. Tom has enough to worry about without having to contend with people actually spying on him and manipulating his moves through the deputy director of the FBI and the leverage they have against him. We already know that Tom doesn’t like Jason, so let’s hope that he’s able to sense that something is wrong when they meet. MacLeish being so ominous will probably pan out as a red herring, but for now it’s a disconcerting distraction. This Myers business doesn’t seem to be going away, and Alex now knows what it is that he wants, something that Tom definitely shouldn’t grant him unless he wants to lose all credibility.

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 8, Episode 7 “Thanksgiving Jamboree” (B-)

This episode wasn’t all that funny, but it was relatively entertaining, and I think that’s about the most that can be expected from this show at this point. It’s true that only Cam should have been excited about the Thanksgiving jamboree, and so Claire was right to suspect that Mitchell was trying to make up for something bad that he did when he was enthusiastic and in costume. Giving away the Fizbo costume definitely ranked as something that Cam would normally have found unforgivable, yet he breezed it off right away because, predictably, he blew their Hawaii vacation money on planning an extravagant and realistic jamboree. I’m glad that Nathan Fillion’s Rainer is back, though his inability to speak in anything other than weather metaphors is sure to become tiring quickly. Haley thinking that Phil was trying to guilt her into staying by telling her to have a good time was fun, and the best part of that scene was Phil recalling his frequent electrocutions, reminding me of when he crushed a valuable trading card from mint condition to completely worthless in mere moments many seasons ago. Running into the divorce lawyer who represented their ex-wives resulted in an amusing interaction with Jerry and Jay, and it’s a good thing that they didn’t let him die, though it appears to have just been gas anyway. Speaking of beating death, Joe’s lesson about the goat dying was an important one, and now he managed to convince Jay to stop smoking so that he wouldn’t die. I enjoyed the flirtation between Dwight and Alex, a couple I never would have predicted but wouldn’t mind seeing blossom for a little while.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pilot Review: Shooter

Shooter (USA)
Premiered November 15 at 10pm

There are two things I knew about this show going into it. The first is that it was supposed to start a while ago, but due to actual shootings that happened, it was postponed twice, finally settling on this mid-November launch. The second is that it’s based on the 2007 film which I guess I saw right before I launched Movies with Abe nine and a half years ago, giving it a B with just this short line as a review: “Quite simply, it is a thrilling action film with an exciting storyline, directed very well and entertaining throughout.” I didn’t have particularly high hopes for this show, partly because Ryan Phillippe is no Mark Wahlberg, and I think the latter’s participation in the film was part of the reason that it worked so well. I also didn’t remember exactly what the premise of the show was beyond an ex-marine working to find other snipers and stop their kills ahead of time. It became pretty clear towards the end of this episode after we were treated to a few annotated montages about how the assassin could take out the president that Phillippe’s Bob Lee Swagger (what a name – apparently it’s the same as in Stephen Hunter’s books) was going to be framed as the one who took the shot. There’s no denying that the episode’s final scene almost demands a return viewing, but I’m not convinced that this concept is meant to play out as a weekly television series. I see a handful of familiar faces in the supporting cast, including Omar Epps, Eddie McClintock from “Warehouse 13,” Shantel VanSanten from “The Flash,” and David Marciano from “The Shield.” That’s not enough to entice me, and even though I’m mildly interested, this pilot didn’t offer up enough excitement to compel me to stick around.

How will it work as a series? The way this episode ended – totally in the middle of the action – suggests that the pacing will be fast and energizing, but the rest of the episode didn’t match that at all with its exposition. It could be solid, but it also might be predictable and unmemorable.
How long will it last? Reviews have been mixed but mostly decent, but, more importantly, the ratings are much more promising. This show compares strongly to USA’s successful recent series launches and has bested recent premieres that haven’t been much to write home about. My bet is that this one can snag a renewal soon.

Pilot grade: B-

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 1, Episode 7 “The Best Washing Machine in the Whole World” (B-)

We’ve known for a few episodes now that Kevin and Randall have a fractured relationship. The assumption is that, over the course of this show’s likely long run, we’ll see more and more events happen that explain how they’ve reached the point that they have by their thirty-sixth birthdays. Being put on opposing football teams and having to play each other didn’t help at all, and somehow, decades later, they were still fighting on the ground the same way. What I felt was missing was how they got to a point where Kevin could fly across the country and feel like it was okay for him to show up and just stay indefinitely with the man he has never officially called his brother. Randall accidentally revealing that he had never seen “The Manny” elicited an angry reaction from Kevin, but Randall responded in kind by challenging Kevin to name his job. Far better was the pot brownie-assisted bonding session between Beth and William, and the unfortunate slip about William’s past with Rebecca is going to shake things up in a troubling way (sort of like that malfunctioning washing machine). Toby making his goal weight when Kate only lost a pound and a half was an unoptimistic start, and Toby’s casual binging isn’t helping Kate at all with her own secret eating. At least the two of them are staying together and managing to create a relationship only defined and driven about ninety-nine percent by overwhelming concerns about food and weight.

Pilot Review: Good Behavior

Good Behavior (TNT)
Premiered November 15 at 9pm

British actress Michelle Dockery spent six years starring as cunning self-starter Mary on “Downton Abbey,” and now that the series is over, I think everyone is interested to see what she’s going to do next. Getting out of the early part of the twentieth century and England seem like the first two steps, and we’re introduced to Letty, a small-time thief and con woman fresh out of prison trying to make ends meet so that she can get back to the child that she’s no longer able to see because of her drug use. Early into this two-part premiere, we got to see Letty at her comic best, responding to a cab driver asking if she needed change from a twenty for a nine-dollar fare, “What does your heart tell you?” It’s hard to tell what kind of person Letty she is, since she’s happy to rip just about anyone off but she also has clear boundaries about not killing people. She did a magnificent job of playing Javier to get inside his hotel room and find out the information she needed to save his mark, only to find out that, despite her interference, the hit happened anyway. Her deep immersion in the next job and her inability to prevent it have broken her to a degree, but she still has her own way of doing things and her commitment to get out of her situation despite being completely trapped in it. Dockery is definitely the right person for this role, offering a complex take on her character supported by the suave suspicious calmness of Juan Diego Botto’s Javier. Terry Kinney contributes positively as her unconventional parole officer, someone I suspect won’t quickly stop looking for her. I’m not sure this show is going to prove to be must-see TV, but I’m intrigued enough to give it another shot to see where it goes.

How will it work as a series? That’s the unknown – right now, Letty is at Javier’s mercy, but she’s also very good at being a con woman, and therefore the two of them could make a tremendous team if he gave up his murderous ways and just focused on regular thievery. Something tells me she won’t go along that easily, though, so it’s a question of how that plays out for both of them.
How long will it last? It looks like reviews have been pretty solid, and Dockery’s first role post her long-running part should definitely attract viewers. Unfortunately, the ratings weren’t as solid, and so this show is going to have to develop a solid critical following to convince its network that it’s worth keeping on the air. Given all the advertising that I’ve been seeing for months for this show, I suspect TNT will still invest in it.

Pilot grade: B+

What I’m Watching: New Girl

New Girl: Season 6, Episode 6 “Ready” (C+)

This show has been off the air for almost a month, and this installment didn’t make me too excited about its return. Jess’ single club has never been as entertaining as it’s meant to be, and this romance with Robby has taken a while to play itself out. Trying to pretend that their relationship is just platonic wasn’t leading anywhere good, and naturally it had to progress to Jess trying to kiss Robby while he was lifting weights, resulting in a whole lot of pain and recovery for a totally out-of-it Robby. That the kiss didn’t do anything for her only prolonged the situation, and I think Robby was much better when he was just another suitor for Cece. Speaking of the model turned bar manager, it’s good to see Cece spring into action and impress those around her with her business savvy and ability to negotiate whatever she wants. It’s not going to help Schmidt’s ego, but managing male models is a great career choice for her, and something that she can do well while she’s working at the bar. I don’t understand why all these women were attracted to Winston, and I’d like to request Aly’s immediate return since Winston is infinitely funnier and more likeable when she’s around. I actually think they’re the best couple on this show, neck-in-neck with Schmidt and Cece when they were first fooling around and Nick and Jess at the height of their “quick hardening caulk” stage. Jess accidentally cited Ferguson as Winston’s significant other, and I think that’s a misconception that needs to be rectified right away.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 3, Episode 6 “Shade” (B)

This was an interesting episode, though I don’t quite understand why those gifted by Alchemy with the powers that they had in an alternate timeline need to be destined to be bad. That’s particularly true of Caitlin, but in this episode it applied just as much to Wally, who at first was in pain and then was ready to take Iris out for getting in his way. Fortunately, though Iris doesn’t have powers, she was able to knock Wally out cold with one punch, buying enough time for him to come around to the idea of helping the team catch Alchemy and take him out. It doesn’t seem like Alchemy an enemy that can be quashed so easily, and whatever has been unleashed because of Wally’s disobedience and Barry’s intervention is sure to have reverberations (pun intended) that this show will feel for the foreseeable future. After Caitlin opened up to Cisco, he betrayed her trust and revealed her transformation to the team, something that will probably only further compel her powers to manifest in a villainous way, if we’re going with that assumption of how things work. What Cisco vibed in the future was very unsettling, and I hope we won’t be saying goodbye to Caitlin so fast. HR has only gotten more annoying, and his possession of technology he doesn’t understand that allows him to put on a new face to avoid detection just means that he’s going to be spending more time with the team, which is likely to get him punched in the face at the very least, probably by Joe or Cisco.

Take Three: People of Earth

People of Earth: Season 1, Episode 4 “Past, Present, and Future” (B+)

This show is an absurdist comedy in many ways, but it also has a solid dramatic backbone that’s conveyed rather tragically. Take the origin story of Gina in this episode, who up until now had seemed like the most put-together person on this show. The Gina that we saw in flashbacks was totally different than the one we know now, not concerned with comforting or listening to those talking about their difficulties and instead set on pushing them to do whatever she thinks is easiest and best. Convincing one patient that he needed to show his commitment to his relationship by skydiving resulted in a quick flash to his funeral after he pushed himself too far towards deadly danger. That event changed Gina’s outlook and perspective to the point that, when she was abducted, she didn’t even want to believe that she was special. It’s nice to see the hope reinjected back into her life by Gerry’s kindness, and now she’s able to help people again in a less official way. Jonathan’s arrival to Beacon was quiet showy, and buying the employees of the newspaper flashy new tablets after they had decades-old desktops that barely worked before that is going to shake up one small town in a big way. Ozzie definitely isn’t acquiescing, and even though Jonathan seems sympathetic to him, another trip to the donut shop isn’t something either of them wants to happen. I like Michael Cassidy and think that he’s perfect for this role, so I’m glad that he continues to be a part of the show.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What I’m Watching: Timeless

Timeless: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Watergate Tape” (B)

I didn’t love this episode as much because it didn’t send the team far enough back in time to really represent a different era. What it did do, on the other hand, is enable them to be in a year where Rittenhouse did exist and where Rufus was calling in to report and speaking to a man on the phone who ended up being none other than the mysterious agent sent to intimidate him at the end of last week’s episode. The idea that the lost Nixon tape had him expressing how deep he was in with Rittenhouse is awfully high-minded, but this show is able to be as creative as it wants when it comes to unexplained historical phenomena. Aside from saving what turned out not to be a document but rather a person, the bigger developments of this episode were the dissolution of trust among the members of the team. Flynn mentioning Lucy’s journal and revealing the chats that they had previously had in other time periods didn’t go over well, and Rufus is now going to be a double agent as the only kind of penance he can perform for deceiving Lucy and Wyatt up until this point. It’s strange that Wyatt is the only one of them who hasn’t lied, fully upfront about his intentions and his drive to complete the mission. I’m glad that he and Flynn had the opportunity to talk openly and honestly about why Flynn is doing what he is doing, and I hope that Wyatt will take the right course of action and investigate his allegations rather than just trying to take him out since it seems that Rittenhouse may really be the enemy, possibly even connected to Lucy’s real father.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 3, Episode 5 “Chapter Forty-Nine” (B+)

I remember how entertaining it was when Rogelio first became interested in – and obsessed with – befriending Michael, and it was inevitable that he would develop the same enthusiasm about being close to Rafael, especially when he realized just how attractive he was. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen Rafael’s chest so muscular, but we’ll chalk that up to Michael being intimidated and Rogelio being amazed and maybe both of them augmenting its awesomeness just a little bit in their minds and for us viewers. Taking Rafael out for lunch and picking Michael up on the side of the road was a fun detour, and rushing to Rogelio’s audition and fixing a flat tire turned out to be positive steps on the way to rectifying Rafael and Michael’s relationship, and searching for Mateo together was another bonding moment. Maybe they can even talk about soccer! Jane unsurprisingly got carried away getting to know the huge family she never knew she had, and she got much more than she bargained for with a new cousin waiting on her doorstop, a development that it sure to upset Alba greatly. It was a shock to see the real Petra wake up while Rafael was in the room and identify herself as Anezka, and all of this time that she was being kept paralyzed by Anezka, we forgot how cunning and destructive Petra can be when she wants to. She was smart to get rid of Scott in a way that wouldn’t come back to hurt her, and the way that she spoke to Rafael when she revealed that she had heard everything he had said about her suggests that she’s going to execute her full revenge not against the woman who kept her immobilized but against one of our far more sympathetic protagonists.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 6 “Changing” (B+)

When this episode started with William Mapother in a faraway station somewhere encountering an alien presence, I got great flashbacks to one of my favorite quickly cancelled sci-fi series, “Threshold.” This episode actually felt a lot more like a classic hour of “The X-Files,” the season one installment “Ice,” starring as Xander Berkeley and Felicity Huffman as scientists driven insane by parasites at a remote Alaskan outpost. This premise was somewhat similar, though it fit into a more standard alien-starring series, with the new duo organism fighting to stop climate change by sucking the life out of other extraterrestrial beings. That paved the way for the perfect debut for James’ Guardian, a superhero with no powers but a handful of cool gadgets designed and operated by Winn in the van, including a lead suit so that Supergirl couldn’t see through his costume and figure out who he was. Mon-El also leant his help for a bit, which was productive after he stopped trying to act as an enforcer for a bookie, but it did manage to put him on Cadmus’ radar and get him snatched up by them at the end of the episode. Hank was saved by the other remaining Martian’s blood transfusion, but we still have no explanation about who she really is and if she’s not in fact a Martian. Alex coming out to Kara was very awkward, mainly because I never would have expected a conversation like that to take place on a show like this (though it’s great that it is!), and how unfortunate that Maggie shut her down completely when she worked up the courage to kiss her. I think that relationship is still going to happen, though this wasn’t a smooth start.

What I’m Watching: Insecure

Insecure: Season 1, Episode 6 “Guilty as F**k” (B+)

After Issa’s big screwup at the end of last week’s episode, it was obvious that the guilt was going to haunt her and that she probably would grapple with what to do about it rather than just being honest from the start. I imagine that things wouldn’t have gone down as she pictured with Lawrence hitting her, especially considering how nice he was to her. Getting the video taken down was a kind gesture, and then he was all about doing thoughtful things for her and buying her jewelry. Flashing back to her night with Daniel was certainly problematic, and I think Lawrence found out in the worst way possible that something was up when he saw the text messages from Daniel on Issa’s phone. Hopefully she’ll respond in a good and productive way that doesn’t push him away. After a drunken night, Molly had a great morning, and it looked like there could be a great relationship with Jered blossoming. Sharing embarrassing stories from their pasts was a harmless enough activity that should have been nothing more than entertaining. Unfortunately, Jered’s casual note that he messed around with a guy once before got in her head, and she wasn’t able to do anything to get it out of there. The conversation with her friends about the stigma around such things when women sharing the same experience wouldn’t be seen as taboo was interesting, though that kind of progressive thinking isn’t going to be much help for Molly to move ahead in this particular relationship.

What I’m Watching: Divorce

Divorce: Season 1, Episode 6 “Christmas” (B+)

After Frances got that awful call from Robert’s new lawyer, I had expected a tempestuous and angry episode with the couple at each other’s throats. Instead, we got this relatively time but still highly entertaining installment centered on Robert’s insistence that everyone should be together on Christmas. Robert has an interesting outlook on life, one that venerates family traditions even when he’s doing what he can to pull apart his family. Frances is actually the one who deserves more criticism for her actions in this episode, putting off telling her parents and then announcing their impending divorce in front of all the party guests when Robert wasn’t even going to say anything. Letting Robert take the fall for her with her parents wasn’t exactly noble, but it does seem that they love him and are pretty much willing to forgive anything. Frances’ mom asking her if she’s going to forgive Robert before asking if she’s going to be okay says something, and Robert Forster’s father certainly expressed support for his son-in-law. Robert’s decision to spare her parents didn’t work out so well since he saved some of his more blunt language for their son who had his headphones on but hadn’t plugged them in to anything. One of my favorite parts of the episode was the brief snapshot we got of a very definitely not French Julian eating Christmas dinner with his parents, only to be interrupted by someone sent by another man’s husband to punch him in the gut for sleeping with his wife.

What I’m Watching: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex: Season 4, Episode 10 “The Eyes of God” (B)

I’d like to start this review off by stating that this season was the best that the show has produced since its first year, which is really commendable given that it doesn’t usually work that way. Introducing Art and Nancy was a boon for the show, and an exploration of how others go about this same work was interesting. Additionally, season one’s best character, Libby, once again became the same magnetic draw, as she explored her own self-worth and embarked on a new relationship with a charismatic lawyer. What this show still doesn’t always get right is the way that it progresses through time. In episode nine, we saw Libby start off towards Woodstock and Bill and Virginia realize that they’re meant for each other. The leap to Libby driving across the country with her kids in a hippie van and Bill and Virginia getting married didn’t quite track. Additionally, we now see Bill completely in love with Virginia, but then he’s pushed by others to think that maybe she’s not right for her, and when she announces to the eager paparazzi that they’re still Masters and Johnson, he had that look on his face which always expresses that he’s in over his head and he’s ready to bail. Dody living nearby and professing her love for Bill gives him an easy out of sorts, and that’s especially disconcerting. Virginia not reporting what Art called to tell her about Bob and his non-conversion suggests that she’s all about getting ahead and not letting Bill look for a way out, so hopefully they can move forward together. Poor Art is now left all alone, while Nancy doesn’t have much to look forward to either in her solo pursuit of success. We didn’t see any more of Betty, and this show has yet to be renewed for a fifth season, which I don’t think is a slam dunk. This would be a decent finish but I think there’s more to cover here.

Season grade: B+
Season MVPs: Caitlin FitzGerald as Libby, Betty Gilpin as Nancy, and Jeremy Strong as Art

What I’m Watching: Westworld

Westworld: Season 1, Episode 7 “Trompe L’Oeil” (B+)

I watch a lot of TV, and therefore I experience a lot of plot twists. Some are good, some are predictable, and some are both. I can’t remember a time recently that I was as fantastically floored by a revelation as the one that came in this episode when, after Bernard showed Theresa that her formidable sacrifice show with Clementine and the tech was flawed and pointed out that it was Dr. Ford who might be manipulating things, the architect showed up and, with just a few words, demonstrated his omniscience by commanding Bernard to freeze and then ordering him to kill Theresa. The notion that he programmed hosts to become techs is simply incredible, and it makes you wonder whether there’s any way to really tell what’s real. It’s also unclear where Elsie is and whether Bernard will continue looking for her or if Dr. Ford really is aware of his every thought. Charlotte represents an interesting new power player in the game, but it’s hard to believe that she’ll be able to outsmart the evidently evil Dr. Ford. Maeve is certainly operating quite freely, cognizant of what lines she’s been programmed to say and fully aware that she can barter her way out of this place by terrifying the techs into submission with a threat of murder. The happenings within Westworld in this hour weren’t driven by sadism but rather by an intense recreation of history, with warring enemies chasing after Hector, William, and Dolores and then stopping to start killing each other. It does seem more and more like Dr. Ford wants to recreate reality, and he’s determined to do it no matter who gets in his way.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

What I’m Watching: Shameless

Shameless: Season 7, Episode 7 “You’ll Never Ever Get a Chicken in Your Whole Entire Life” (B+)

There was reason to be positive in this episode as nearly every character experienced some optimistic development, especially as compared with the recent state of things. Despite Lip’s thoughtless remarks, Trevor and Ian are in a very good place, and the fact that they’re trying this new experience together means that they’re good for each other. Lip, to his credit, may not be trying to get the appeal his professor arranged for him granted, but he is being extremely loyal to the new woman in his life and stepping up in all the right ways. Debs had some trouble fitting everything in to the day that she had to prepare for her DCFS visit, but how impressive is it that she took and passed the GED with absolutely no preparation? Fiona was in for a lot of heartbreak with the staggering costs of repairing just a few things going wrong on the first day of her laundromat ownership, and I was sure that she was going to take that check meant for Etta and just use it for the expenses. After getting advice that she shouldn’t try and then leaving Etta to deal with everything, she seems to have rebounded with a much more positive attitude. Svetlana’s handling of her Russian husband situation was uninformative at best, and it seems that Kev really can’t a certain image of treachery out of his head. And then there’s Frank, who is now the saving grace for Liam, who went to school only to find it closed. His protests and subsequent bonding with a kindred spirit netted Liam, who so rarely speaks, the opportunity to have a first-class education, something that’s sure to throw the Gallagher family for a loop.

What I’m Watching: The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: Season 7, Episode 4 “Service” (B+)

This was inarguably a strong and magnetic episode – one that ran eighty-five minutes, for some reason – but I can’t help wondering what the upside of watching this show. It’s truly miserable and disturbing, and there’s pretty much no sign of hope except the eternal optimism expressed by Father Gabriel. From the moment that his shadow appeared with the bat in his hand knocking at the gate, Negan made very clear that he can do and take whatever he wants because he’ll eagerly kill someone just to make a point if his demands are not followed. He used much more vulgar language in his parting words to Rick than we tend to hear on this show, and he made the best point of this episode, which was that no one died, an incredible feat given his penchant for violence. But he did have all of his people take beds, guns, and medicine, leaving them with pretty much nothing but food. There’s clearly discord among the residents of Alexandria, and Rick’s acceptance of the situation and his admission that there is no way out is depressing to say the least. The one hope for resistance lies with Rosita, who kept a gun and had the smart idea to ask Eugene to make her bullets. I do hope that she propels the group to some sort of organized and efficient resistance soon, since it’s hard to keep watching this show with no glimmer of hope. When Rick has to reference Shane to demonstrate his nostalgia for better times, you know things are bad.

What I’m Watching: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 1, Episode 4 “Watkin” (B+)

In a sense, not much really happened in this episode, and I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see Bart or Ken at all since I’m a huge fan of their adventures. But we did get to see a great four-way dynamic between Dirk, Todd, Farah, and Amanda. I like that Amanda referred to Todd’s new friends as a “magic detective” and a “hot chick,” and she even complimented Farah later by telling her that she was sort of weird. After Dirk got distracted by trying to scale a fence, he and Todd spent the entire episode in a very bizarre underground contraption powered by lightbulbs and electrical ghost rhinos, leading to some spectacular discoveries and finds by all members of the team. I enjoyed Farah relaying what Todd and Amanda were saying to each other when they first got trapped, and she did a superb job showing up to save the day and let a certain inhabited FBI agent know that she was onto him. He hit back with a surprisingly focused attack on her abilities and the numerous rejections over the course of her career that led her to become a bodyguard rather than a federal agent. Having Fred inhabit an FBI agent is definitely cause for concern, though he almost immediately outed himself as an impostor to our two clueless cop friends. Gordon seemed to be haplessly courting the woman that he used to love when he was Lux, but the final scene revealed that it was all about him taking back control, no longer blubbering and fully in charge of whatever nefarious purposes he and his cronies are currently pursuing.

Take Three: Good Girls Revolt

Good Girls Revolt: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Futures” (B)

I don’t think that this show is ever going to be what it wants to be, which is a version of “Mad Men” set in a different industry, but it does tell an interesting story that I can only imagine is going to get more engaging as it progresses. This episode painted the problem in a different light when the very female owner of the magazine came to visit and, in her time there, helped to perpetuate and defend the sexist practices of the company. Honoring the poor woman who has been down in the pit for forty years and has always wanted a blue box gift wasn’t meant as an insult, though it does speak to the opportunities for growth that exist for a woman and the fact that nothing has changed in decades. Laughing off Patti’s request to attend the writers’ lunch as overly challenging since they’d have more fun gossiping was a particular slap in the face, and there’s a lot to overcome in the current culture. I think that Finn is actually the most open-minded, always seeking the newest trends in innovation to make the magazine fresh and successful and not blinking an eye when he found an employee’s daughter under her desk. Doug’s Black Panther interview went surprisingly well thanks to the subject’s insistence on being heard and Doug’s interest in listening, and he even earned a complimentary escort down 110th Street. Kudos to Cindy for writing an article, but it was sad to see her realize that she would never get the credit. Jane is practicing her own sort of feminism by advocating for herself in her relationship, and I wonder how long it will take until she joins the cause at work.

What I’m Watching: Goliath

Goliath: Season 1, Episode 5 “Cover Your Ass” (B+)

This show has some decent dramatic storylines, but I think the best part of this episode was the extremely entertaining deposition scene. Lucy has turned into a bit of a tyrant now that she has been chosen by Donald as his new muse. Michelle wasn’t having any of her freaking out before the deposition, and Callie wants to kill her. Billy objecting to the first thing that Lucy said and not even letting her get started was hilarious, but she hit back with her own disability claim to shut him down. When Lenny shut off the feed to get rid of Donald, Callie swooped in to completely derail things and discredit Ned by throwing him off his game in a big way with the revenge porn video. The discovery of a second and not quite identical suicide note with an extra line in it was extremely interesting, and the subsequent digging up of the time capsule added a whole new layer of intrigue. At the very least, they managed to convince Gina that her husband didn’t kill himself, which should count for something. Brittany continues to be a tremendous asset to the case with her befriending of the cop who stopped Billy, and her parole officer should really believe that she has a viable job that she also happens to be good at. Lucy’s new relationship with Donald is definitely peculiar, and it seems that she’s now in potential danger with people who want to hear from Donald following her to deliver messages. Donald is an enigma even to Wendell, a man who can call him out on the weirdness of his clicking and communicating, and I think it will be a while before we can truly understand him.

What I’m Watching: Luke Cage

Luke Cage: Season 1, Episode 7 “Manifest” (B+)

When I watch these streaming shows that are meant to be binged, I sometimes lose track of where I am during the season and forget that I’m far enough in that major developments, like main characters dying, are totally plausible. At the end of the previous episode, Cottonmouth got arrested and immediately managed to get himself freed and safe from any potential imprisonment. Calling Luke for a parlay seemed like it wasn’t going to end totally peacefully, but I didn’t expect that this would be the last we saw of Cottonmouth, especially considering the flashbacks to his past as an up-and-coming musician that were prevalent throughout this episode. It was interesting to see how Cottonmouth became the man he is due to the furious maternal influence in his life, and how Mariah went in a different and less criminal direction. Yet the tables were turned in this episode when Mariah went ballistic following her political downfall and some egging on from Shades, and now we have a situation where Luke is less in danger of being found out for his prison past but likely to be headed back there now that he’s been framed for murder by a conniving Shades, who’s helping a hysterical Mariah. Claire managed to convince Luke not to run, but that may have been the best option for him considering what he’s now going to have to face. What he has to do is come clean with Misty and figure out a way to show that he’s the good guy in all of this and that he can help her clean up Harlem.

What I’m Watching: Longmire

Longmire: Season 5, Episode 8 “Stand Your Ground” (B+)

It’s always important to remember what type of show you’re watching, and even though last week’s episode ended with a furiously intense and dangerous situation that turned violent very fast, there was never really a danger of Cady being killed in the shootout. Instead, she has to deal with the guilt of having a white lawyer rush in to get her off without any charges and then have her office packed with potential new clients because they now trust her after she shot a white man. After Kevin asked if Asha would defend her, her raging in screaming about how Cady killed her husband didn’t offer too much hope and is sure to haunt Cady, who is facing enough disapproval from her father for going into business with Jacob Nighthorse. That man is extremely difficult to read, coming to Walt for protection and protesting his innocence, and then later carrying Malachi out for what seemed like an execution and turned instead to be a branding of sorts and banishment. Walt seems to get shot at a lot these days, and his new friend from Boston is staying out of his county in only the most literal and geographical way. Shane’s explicit threat was definitely cause for concern, and the fact that Walt threatened him first, which is totally true, doesn’t make things any better. It was good to see Eamonn again, though he didn’t have a great time getting shot. Vic tried her hardest to blame it on the lox, but it does seem that she may be pregnant and she has absolutely no idea what she’s going to do about it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

What I’m Watching: Transparent

Transparent: Season 3, Episode 8 “If I Were a Bell” (B-)

There are times when I’m watching shows and I feel that nothing would be more effective than a flashback to fill in some information we don’t know. This show has done this repeatedly and several times taken up the entire episode with it, and I don’t find it to be nearly as useful or warranted as it should be. The one thing that was productive about this episode is that it linked the 1930s Germany scenes that we’ve seen of the trans community there directly with Mort and his progression towards becoming Maura. Starting out with Mort meeting Shelly at the diner was a strange way to introduce things since last week’s episode was much more about Maura’s relationship with Bryna than with Shelly. Focusing on her too was obviously interesting, and we learned some devastating and important things about her childhood and what influenced her to become the person that she became. I do have to give credit to whoever cast Molly Bernard as Shelly since she was such a perfect younger version of Judith Light. I was surprised to see a young Mort so fully engaged in wearing dresses and other expressions of femininity, and the general lack of condemnation of that behavior by the female influences in his life was sharply contrasted by his grandfather’s wrath and his invocation of those who were killed in Germany for the same type of behavior. This is educational stuff, to be sure, but let’s get back to the drama of the present with just two episodes left this season.

What I’m Watching: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Season 2, Episode 4 “When Will Josh and His Friend Leave Me Alone?” (B)

It was interesting to see an episode focused on Rebecca moving past both Greg and Josh, with each of them appearing for just one short scene in reality and then a handful of hallucinations in Rebecca’s head as catchphrase-coining ghosts of relationships past. Greg’s song about the nature of their relationship was a fitting goodbye, and while I assume he’ll be back eventually, it’s for the best that he’s following his dreams. Josh not even recognizing Rebecca was an important moment, and for all the harsh things he said to her when he ended things last week, he was actually quite nice in the wishes he expressed for her happiness. The tap-dancing that Greg and Josh both did in their song about another kind of tapping was the highlight of the episode, and I prefer that to Rebecca’s solo cheerleading song ending in a stroke since it features more of the cast showing off their musical talents. I’m happy to see that the CW is keeping it in the family with Yael Grobglas from “Jane the Virgin” guest-starring as the head honcho at Miss Douche, though it wasn’t a terribly comic role. Rebecca’s ill-fated attempt to reinvent herself ended in self-recognized disaster, and instead we got Heather motivated to do something for the first time in her life. I’m excited to see what living together will be like for the two of them, and I enjoyed the Mr. and Mrs. Heather appearances. Paula seems to have made it past a tough spot, and her husband trying to be supportive is helping things. I do wonder whether everything will go right with this pregnancy and I’m a bit worried about how Rebecca is going to react when she finds out that Paula has been keeping some big news from her for a long time.

What I’m Watching: Better Things (Season Finale)

Better Things: Season 1, Episode 10 “Only Women Bleed” (B+)

This was a fitting sendoff for this show as it wraps its first season, showing Sam, as usual, dealing with a million different things assaulting her from different directions and just trying to make the best of it as she moves on. Her plan to take her mom away fell apart because she just couldn’t do it, and this time it was Max who didn’t give her a particularly hard time while both Duke and Frankie did. Duke’s bad dream seemed like the clear reason for her suddenly being sick, and her sisters weren’t too supportive of her scheme and Sam’s parenting decisions. Frankie never makes things easy, and her refusal to use the girl’s bathroom at school signaled a few possibilities. Her insistence that she didn’t think she was a boy was balked at by Max, but she did weave a compelling – and disturbing – narrative of what happened that made her not want to go in there anymore. Sam does a good job throwing her arms up in despair and venting verbally for a second before coming back to a place of support and ultimately acceptance. She almost got caught taking a picture of her bra just like she did a while ago when she was watching porn, and the safe space of her car provided the opportunity for some pretty uninvolved one-way phone sex. This show sometimes knocks it out of the park, and though this episode was less exciting, it was an effective stopping point to close thing down for now before the show returns next year for season two.

What I’m Watching: Life in Pieces

Life in Pieces: Season 2, Episode 3 “Eyebrow Anonymous Trapped Gem” (B+)

This episode’s four threads were much more connected than usual, and they served as a fitting tribute to actress Ann Guilbert, best known for her roles on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Nanny,” who played Gigi and who passed away back in June. The shock of hearing about Gigi’s passing made Tim slip while he was trimming the little hair he has left on his head, and his subsequent efforts to rectify the mishap made it even worse. Colleen is lovely, but her penciled-in eyebrows were at least a few inches too high. The hilarity of it all was captured in Tim’s horror when he saw that the photographer had photoshopped in hair on his head, not on his eyebrows. I loved Tyler’s reaction to Clementine’s mentioning of multiple bad news boyfriends from her past. Matt responded perfectly to Greg’s casual mention that he had anonymously donated a bench, alleging that he was the one who donated it and maybe Greg seem like a crazy person for trying to take credit. John had quite the time at the nursing home when he was cleaning out Gigi’s things, and you’d think that the workers at this facility would be a little more cognizant of who the residents are and not just assume that any senior citizen must be a mindless wanderer of the halls who needs to be taken back to a room that definitely doesn’t exist. The diamonds plotline was weird, but Wallace Shawn’s delivery of the line about Jen condensing down to a beautiful sapphire was excellent. Matt giving Colleen the ring as an engagement ring was a wonderful solution to turn the haunting gem into something positive.

Take Three: The Great Indoors

The Great Indoors: Season 1, Episode 3 “Step One: Shelter” (B)

Okay, so this show is a little silly, but I’m enjoying it and I think I’m going to stick with it, at least for the time being. The levels of excess at the magazine really are crazy, but the notion of a massage chair and a frozen yogurt machine don’t seem so absurd when you hear that Jack is charging a luxury hotel room to his corporate card and hasn’t paid for a place to live in decades. Clark’s apartment was truly comical in its tiny proportions, and the explosive air mattress was a sight to behold. I think that’s going a bit far in terms of what it represents about these millennials who have no concept of what it’s like to really have your own space, but Jack threw in enough barbs about sleeping next to Kylo Ren that it was all relatively worth it. I’m not sure which was more off-putting: the shower that also serves as a sink and dishwasher or the toilet that pops out of the wall and can only be flushed once a day. Especially since her father made her tell her mother that they were getting a divorce years earlier, it was about time that Brooke refused to be the bad cop. Unfortunately, Roland is pretty terrible at it, either apologizing and offering even more expensive crowd-pleasing alternatives or chewing out people for the simplest things just to see them sweat. I’m never a fan of spoilers, but at least I watch “Game of Thrones,” so the three bombshells that Jack dropped to get the Korean family out of Eddie’s home didn’t devastate me.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 2, Episode 5 “Compromised” (B+)

I enjoyed season one of this show, and I think that it’s really growing into itself in this second season. Free of the Time Masters, and Rip as a guide, our legends now have to decide for themselves what’s important and what’s worth fixing and saving in the timeline. Visiting 1987 was fun because it’s close enough to the present day that no one had to try too hard to fit in, and Darhk occupied a very public political place that managed to catch the attention of one eager Marty Stein. I didn’t see Darhk stabbing him coming, but fortunately Gideon was able to heal him with no problem, enabling the older Martin to be refreshed right away and enjoying a lovely night with his future wife. Grounding Darhk as this eternal villain is interesting, and it looks like he’s headed to the future now thanks to the speed prowess of his good friend the Reverse Flash, which should cause plenty of problems for our friends. Ray trying to turn into Captain Cold is a predictably rocky process, and it’s at least good to see him and Mick working together productively for the most part. The casting of Lance Henricksen as the older Todd was cool, and it certainly seems like Amaya is a regular part of the team now. Nate has mastered his steel transition at this point, and he’s definitely having a blast watching the poor saps who fight him try to hit him only to discover that they’re in for a very painful experience.

What I’m Watching: Easy (Season Finale)

Easy: Season 1, Episode 8 “Hop Dreams” (B)

I read this title too quickly at first and must admit that I’m quite impressed with its cleverness. Unfortunately, I wasn’t nearly as wowed by the episode that ends this eight-episode arc. If you had asked me which of the plotlines and characters were worth revisiting for the season ender, I would not have pointed you to the Brewery Brothers, whose segment I found to be relatively week and which didn’t even offer great showcases for Aya Cash and Zazie Beetz, who are both doing excellent work on other TV comedies at the moment. Yet, for some reason, that was the choice here, and we also got comedian Hannibal Buress in a totally unfunny role as a reporter who wanted to look into this garage brewery situation for a big article. I guess this was about the brotherly friendship between the businessmen and the sudden seriousness of being pregnant and starting a family, but this episode just didn’t do much for me. It’s also disappointing as a unifying thread-closer since it really didn’t do that, and actually ended on a very unsatisfying note. If this show gets renewed by Netflix, which I don’t anticipate that it well, mainly for creative reasons and because I assume it was meant as a one-season offering, I would urge that focus be placed on the real relationship episodes, namely the second installment with the vegan lesbians and the sixth one with the casual threesome. Some of these parts were far greater than the sum, and as a result, I don’t feel compelled to recommend this show highly for those looking for the next great Netflix binge.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: N/A, but maybe Jane Adams?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What I’m Watching: You’re the Worst

You’re the Worst: Season 3, Episode 11 “The Inherent, Unsullied Qualitative Value of Anything” (B+)

This episode started out with a humorous display of extreme immersion on Jimmy’s part into weighing the value of things in his life and determining what he can get rid of and what’s worth keeping. Gretchen was hiding under the sheet so that Jimmy couldn’t evaluate her, and I’m sure that she now hopes that she had stayed hidden rather than end in the horribly unsettling fashion that this episode did. She hung on for a while, fighting back by making her own list, and it was only when they each shared a hurtful inclusion that things got truly ugly. It feels like so long ago, but it was impossible to mistake the scene’s purposeful similarity to the moment that Jimmy and Gretchen first met in the pilot. Now they’re leaving driving separate cars and unsure of whether they’re going to be able to move forward. Every relationship crashed and burned in this hour, starting with Edgar’s when he refused to acknowledge Dorothy and her talent, and she finally spoke up about how he’s made her feel. Lindsay, in trying to get a real job, didn’t soften the blow at all when she told Paul that she got rid of the baby and that they’re getting a divorce. It would have helped if she had understood which way a prenup went, but she also is trying to just look out for herself. With all this disunity and just a two-part season finale coming up, it’s a good thing that this show has already been renewed for a fourth season.

What I’m Watching: Rectify

Rectify: Season 4, Episode 3 “Bob and Carol and Ted Jr. and Alice” (B+)

Typically, people respond to certain information in an expected way. When Daniel is told something, however, he really takes a moment to process what he has heard and to evaluate its meaning. Hearing from concerned parties that he is doing well but that he should still go see a psychologist to treat his PTSD and other issues seemed to faze him a little, if only because he’s managed up until this point by finding and isolating people in his life, like Tawney, who aren’t judgmental, and talking to them about what’s going on. His response to Janet’s phone call was also simple but contemplative, and I’m sure that the meal that they have together is going to mean the world to Janet, who has just been inundated by the burden of this sale offer. While his living arrangements are laced with tension, Daniel has found a fantastic calm in his developing platonic relationship with Caitlin FitzGerald’s Chloe, who Googled him but didn’t allow that to color her perception of him. Tawney’s therapy session was very therapeutic, and Teddy seems to have come a long way in terms of his attitude towards others. Amantha’s date was an interesting experience that had her think back to her past, and in the end this new romance might even turn out to be a good thing for her. Jon’s conversation with Carl was laced with aggression and defensiveness on both sides, and it seems clear that, in their own separate ways, they both just want to put all of this behind them.

What I’m Watching: Designated Survivor

Designated Survivor: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Interrogation” (B-)

I was talking to someone about this show and she referred to it as “the new 24.” I’ve always felt that it was this show’s biggest Achilles’ heel, since trying too hard to be an action thriller detracts from it being its own unique political drama. This episode united both genres with the arrival of Nasar on American soil, and I wasn’t too impressed by either direction. The interrogation that Jason and Hannah were conducting felt rather run-of-the-mill, and it didn’t take long for them to come out with some leverage that made this internationally-known, low-grade terrorist give up all the information he had. Hannah’s shock at there not being any hits in the database sounded especially whiny, and it seems that Jason and Hannah’s lives aren’t in jeopardy but Nasar wasn’t long for this world. The gunfire during the gala was a huge disruption to Tom’s call for unification, but there’s still plenty of discord and lack of support for Tom’s presidency. Alex’s involvement in this Syrian refugee plane issue complicated things considerably, and Tom managed to win over the governors with a decision that made Alex lose some respect for him. If Canada can just accept the refugees, isn’t the problem partially solved? This show doesn’t seem to have any true stakes, and Mike getting shot but then being fine demonstrates that this show isn’t so willing to really include major twists that have an impact. I think this show could do well without too many twists in general, but I think that it’s still figuring out exactly what kind of series it wants to be, a journey that’s going okay.

What I’m Watching: Modern Family

Modern Family: Season 8, Episode 6 “Grab It” (B)

This was actually a pretty decent and funny episode, with most of its plotlines working better than usual. Luke’s new job at the country club was the catalyst for a handful of threads, starting with Haley paying with his tips and the whole family thinking that she’s a stripper. Phil stopping by to see his son naturally led to him being interested in joining the club, and Jay couldn’t power his golf cart away fast enough. Though Phil can be a buffoon, he is charismatic, and he did a great job winning over all of Jay’s buds. After his slapstick sauna incident, he gave up the opportunity to join the club in exchange for dragging Jay along to some things that he knew he would hate, like trampolining and interactive theater. Mitchell really did find the perfect way to get back at Cam for tricking him into going to the staged high school reunion, and when he got called up on stage, he delivered the performance of a lifetime, stealing Cam’s limelight. Claire was understandably frustrated that Alex was idolizing a SheEO not too different from her, but that all worked out nicely when the experience of speaking to someone so self-involved inspired her to get an honest job at a coffee shop. Everything involving Gloria was less enticing, with Manny getting embarrassed at a party and Joe ingesting a cup of coffee just to make sure that he was driving his mother as crazy as possible and preventing her from having a night to herself.

Round Two: People of Earth

People of Earth: Season 1, Episode 3 “Acceptance” (B+)

In its second week, this show demonstrated that its premise actually does work and that it’s able to relatively layered in both its comedy and its more sincere developments. When Richard first had something to share, everyone in the group groaned because he didn’t have a real update, but it turns out that he had in fact been served with divorce papers. I love that Amy Landecker from “Transparent” was the one who played Debbie, who, as soon as Richard asked her whether she was being coerced by the reptilians, lashed out at Richard for perpetuating this myth and then tracked him down at the meeting when he signed the forms in an unhelpful way. The best part of the whole thing was that, in acknowledging that she and Richard did have problems in their marriage, things were already bad by the time they were abducted. As viewers, we’re well aware that aliens do exist, and it’s nice to see that, even in this kind of situation, someone as level-headed, comparatively-speaking, as Debbie, still doesn’t try to deny the existence of aliens, deciding that being happy is more important than learning the truth. Gina definitely didn’t hit a raccoon, and her mention of that event has piqued the interest of several of her fellow group members. Though they’re not great at being emotive, the aliens are capable of looking through Kurt’s memory bank and identifying the license plate of the car that hit him, which is bad news for one of our human friends.

What I’m Watching: Jane the Virgin

Jane the Virgin: Season 3, Episode 4 “Chapter Forty-Eight” (B+)

There’s a lot about this show, unrelated to it being a telenovela, that often seems far-fetched and hard to believe. That’s what makes episodes like this, which provide a reality check, particularly poignant. Disregarding the fact that Petra was heavily subsidizing the rent, making their place absurdly affordable, Jane and Michael are both spending plenty of money and need to reign in their expenses in a big way. Their humorous discussion about the frivolous indulgences each of them has led to a far more serious fight about Jane padding the budget just to be safe, ultimately resulting in an expected and sweet reconciliation that we always seem to find from this happy couple. It’s about time someone picked up on the fact that Anezka is posing as Petra, and kudos to Jane for finally putting it together just as Rafael’s livelihood and ownership in his company was once again threatened when Anezka got intimidated by a henchwoman, played by Dot-Marie Jones from “Glee,” sent by her mother. That’s sure to change things in a big way, and I’m curious to see what will happen with the newly restarted hunt for Rose. I loved seeing Luisa bond with Rogelio since watching clips of his shows was actually therapeutic for her, until of course it started serving as a trigger for her to drink again. Seeing Xiomara work at a bank was fun, though of course her extreme attempts to hide the fact that she quit from her mother were more far entertaining, also leading to a typically sappy reconciliation.

What I’m Watching: Supergirl

Supergirl: Season 2, Episode 5 “Crossfire” (B+)

Adjusting to life on Earth is not an easy task, and in this case, it was particularly entertaining. I enjoyed a number of Mon-El moments in this hour, starting with the alien eating a pile of pancakes like a sandwich. Talking about bribery coffee and reciting his social security number when introducing himself were innocent enough mistakes, but giving all his work to Eve and then using her “plastic rectangle” to buy a suit were far less forgivable offenses. His relationship with Kara is fun, and I enjoyed watching him come over to her while she was stuffing her face with appetizers. Operation Doubtfire was a great codename for Kara being in two places at once. All this silliness aside (protection? Like a sword?), there were some dramatic developments as alien weapons were used around National City, and some clarification about who is bad and who is good. Lena, who wants to be best friends with both Kara and Supergirl, is not only seemingly good but even wants to fight evil in an intellectual way, one that has enabled her to bond with Winn. Speaking of the newest DEO employee, he’s now going to be keeping secrets again to help James as he becomes a bona fide hero even though he doesn’t have powers. Alex navigating her relationship with Maggie is interesting, and it looks like romance is in her near future. We saw our big bad guy take down all of the henchmen who managed to get themselves caught with a remote-controlled aneurism of sorts, and then we got the big reveal of who she is: Lena’s mom. That’s not a huge shock, but it does help give her character some needed context.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What I’m Watching: Insecure

Insecure: Season 1, Episode 5 “Shady as F**k” (B+)

It’s not a surprise that Issa’s middle school students discovering her rap video isn’t going away so fast. There’s no way to go back in time and prevent it from being discovered in the first place, but the closest thing that Issa can do is to find the person who posted the video online and make them take it down. Unfortunately, that pursuit meant contacting two men who are no longer the dominant males in Issa and Molly’s lives. Issa had a good conversation with Lawrence at the start of the episode about it, and they seemed like they were doing pretty well. Lawrence had a perfect opportunity to cheat when Tasha came to flirt with him at Best Buy under the guise of needing batteries that she must have missed at the front of the store, but he passed it up and did the right thing by reminding her that he had a girlfriend and that he wasn’t going to cheat on her. Issa, on the other hand, got swayed by the allure of being in the recording studio and being involved in something simpler and made what she has already acknowledged to the camera to have been a mistake. I imagine she’s not going to come clean right away, and it’s going to cause her to feel extremely guilty and start acting very weird around Lawrence. Molly scored herself a great date to the party, but Chris playing the part of her boyfriend to make her look good went over very poorly. Who knows what will happen now that she showed up drunk at his door and is going to wake up there the next morning, likely with a new perspective.

What I’m Watching: Divorce

Divorce: Season 1, Episode 5 “Gustav” (B+)

Robert managed to lose the element of surprise right away when his lawyer called the house and didn’t even introduce himself before Frances caught on to who he must be. Frances always wanted to play nice, and at first Robert was ready to be extremely spiteful. After a brief tempered period, he’s back to wanting to take everything, and he’s gone ahead and hired a lawyer who’s far more vicious than he is. Who better than Dean Winters, famous for trying hard to be a subway hero by pushing people onto the tracks and then rescuing them, to portray Tony Silvercreek, a cutthroat divorce lawyer who wasn’t recommended for Frances because he hates women. His 11pm call to Frances to intimidate her definitely worked, and having personal service at a big firm doesn’t sound so reassuring anymore. Robert might be shooting himself in the foot by trying so hard to get people interested in his “fun space” that feels hopelessly overambitious, with talk of tour buses for his field trip destination seeming very premature. Nick is more open to spending time with his bud, but he’s still not excited about investing in his pet project. Frances also spent some time with her friends, which gave her access to new connections that could have been great for her. I recognized Frank Whaley, who I’m also currently watching on “Luke Cage,” as Carson Hodges, the artist who initially had a great rapport with Frances before he let his ego get the best of him and started fighting like a child.

What I’m Watching: Masters of Sex

Masters of Sex: Season 4, Episode 9 “Night and Day” (B)

At the start of this episode, Nancy and Art were concerned about having to sign a nondisclosure agreement because they were going out on their own and opening a practice in New York City that would very much emulate the tactics they’d learned working with Bill and Virginia. The news that Nancy was pregnant got Art excited, no matter who the father was, and Nancy’s quickness to suggest an abortion didn’t leave much room for discussion. Those tapes really don’t do anyone any good, and Art having to listen to Nancy tell Barton that she knew the baby was Art’s and that it was precisely the reason that she was getting rid of it was heartbreaking. I can’t see how they’ll go forward together after this, and I wonder if Art will stay behind while Nancy ventures off to her bright independent future. Virginia’s father asking her to broach the subject of coming in for sexual counseling with her mother was beyond weird, and his unwillingness to acknowledge his extended affair suggested that a much deeper problem with his marriage. Bill and Virginia have come to a pretty incredible place of closeness, and it’s interesting to watch Bill take an active role in AA, tracking down Louise and helping her to get back on the wagon. Libby really has become a free spirit, and how fortuitously-timed her drive to upstate New York ended up being to truly allow her to let loose and embrace the wonder of the world in a way that is far from normative.