Friday, October 23, 2020

What I’m Watching: Tehran

Tehran: Season 1, Episode 7 “Tamar’s Father” (B+)

I’m glad to see that this show continues to portray the Iranians who are actively working to stop the Israelis as intelligent, capable of making their own mistakes but also more perceptive than they appear to be. Ali went right to the substation once he realized that it was connected to the military systems and pegged immediately that Parham was acting suspiciously, and though it’s bad news for Tamar and the mission, it made sense that he would be listening in to his call and setting a trap for the agents. Unfortunately, his fate seems sealed just like Razieh’s was when she too tried to do the right thing and ended up getting punished for it. Kadosh’s arrival in Iran meant that Tamar, who was definitely compromised by the picture she received from Faraz of her father as a hostage, didn’t need to be on in the same way, and now it seems like what they were going to do has been called off altogether, which is good given that Ali would have surely caught them. Milad was very resentful of Tamar, and he seems to be right about what’s going to happen to him even if he cooperates. Gorev did a good job getting through to Naahid, and though he got very angry with his hostage, Faraz was smart to let Mordechai go, since he would have lost any leverage he had when he killed him and ensured that his wife would not be safely returned. I’m not sure what to expect from the finale, but things are certainly tense and worrisome right now.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Take Three: Soulmates

Soulmates: Season 1, Episode 3 “Little Adventures” (B+)

I appreciate the fact that this show is making each of its episodes feel very different, not just in the characters portrayed but also in the tone and major takeaways. I was happy to see Laia Costa, a very memorable actress from the movie “Duck Better” who also stars in the CW’s recently-premiered “Devils,” as the main player in this episode who managed to drive not one but two romantic partners crazy. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought that Libby and Adam had already taken the test and that’s why they had their extramarital arrangement in place, since they were so sure that it was going to work out and they should do what they needed to be happy. Signs were obvious at the start that Adam wasn’t as into the setup as Libby was, and Miranda’s arrival only made things worse since Libby was clearly going to cross the boundary he set of not sleeping with her. I am impressed that, after a predictable turn of events, things ended in a different way than I had expected. I enjoyed the very purposeful choreography of having Adam answer the door and first Libby and then Miranda popping up to show that all three of them were part of a deal that the poor woman who just wanted coffee might eventually agree to, given how well it seemed to work for all of them. I’m curious to see what episode four will offer since I have no idea what to expect.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

What I’m Watching: We Are Who We Are

We Are Who We Are: Season 1, Episode 6 “Right here, right now #6” (B)

There is no question that the adults on this show have complicated relationships with their children and don’t always make the most obviously sound choices when it comes with how to interact with them. Sarah certainly has boundary issues with Fraser, and she was extremely supportive of him going on what felt a lot like a date with a thirty-year-old man. Jonathan isn’t as clueless as he’s making himself out to be, inviting a woman who appears to be his girlfriend on their “date,” a term he didn’t correct when Fraser used it. Since Fraser is supposed to be only fourteen on this show (actor Jack Dylan Grazer just turned seventeen), it’s worth flagging that dynamic as inappropriate, something Maggie raised as a concern right away. Nothing overly objectionable happened, and Fraser came home feeling like it was the best day. Caitlin had a more restrictive experience with her father on their hunting trip, and he didn’t mince words when he asked her about dating someone who he was very sure was gay. I appreciated the blunt honesty that Sarah employed toward the end of the episode in recognizing that Caitlin wanted to grow up to be a male soldier, prepared with paperwork and all. I’m sure that’s an idea her dad isn’t open to hearing at all, and he’ll likely blame the boss he already doesn’t like much for making his daughter think about it. Ending with Trump’s victory was depressing, and the incoming administration may not feel quite as warmly about someone like Sarah commanding a military base.

What I’m Watching: Manhunt: Deadly Games

Manhunt: Deadly Games: Season 2, Episode 4 “Run Rudolph Run” (B+)

It’s interesting to see how the FBI just got a major lead in their investigation into the perpetrator of several apparently linked bombings and, at the same time, Richard is working to prove his innocence. Only Earl seems interested in even trying to link the two, something that Jack wasn’t even willing to consider because he wanted to continue to claim that the FBI had done a great job. They certainly have an uphill (literally) battle ahead of them, thanks in part to the somewhat logical decision not to have Sheriff Thompson go in on his own to arrest Rudolph and the absolutely preposterous call not to have at least one agent waiting outside in case Rudolph decided, as he did, to make a run for it before they could arrest him. Murphy, North Carolina also seems to be the least inviting place for a federal government organization to show up and try to get community participation in, or at least acceptance of, a manhunt. I recognized Nick Searcy from “Justified” right away as the sheriff, and I’m not sure I would have had as easy a time realizing that it was Jack Huston from “Boardwalk Empire” and the concurrently-airing fourth season of “Fargo,” as Rudolph, who we really haven’t seen speak yet. Kathy being told that she was only suited for greatness within the confines of Atlanta was a real blow, and maybe she’ll be able to see the different possibilities surrounding Richard’s guilt that should be clearly evident by his attempt to recreate the police timeline that can’t possibly be right.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

What I’m Watching: The Third Day (Series Finale)

The Third Day: Season 1, Episode 6 “Last Day – The Dark” (B)

Well, I guess it’s something that the final episode of this show was better than most of what came before it, ending on an interestingly ambiguous note that really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for a series that always kept viewers in the dark – conveniently this episode’s title – since the start. Helen not believing that it was actually Nathan because he hadn’t aged was cemented by Mrs. Martin’s confirmation that they had let him believe that the boy was his son and not just a relative who didn’t actually look much like him. That led me to the conclusion that this island and its religion isn’t supernatural or magical, but just that people believe what they want to and, in the case of Jess and her supporters, are determined to extinguish any perceived threats for fear that they will one day try to stake a leadership claim that may rightfully be theirs. But then Helen seemed completely haunted by what Nathan said to her, which could easily have been something Sam apologized to him for multiple times since they’d been together on the island, but was likely a private moment between the two of them that no one else could have known aside from the real Nathan. I’m glad that Ellie had a change of heart in the end and didn’t willingly stay, though it’s not clear how far they got and if Helen is indeed still alive. This show did have a bit too much senseless violence and disturbing content for my liking, but the performances were certainly strong. I don’t expect it to be much of an awards season player, but it’s always possible. Even though this finale was a decent end, I want to make sure that it is just that – I don’t need to revisit this nightmarish island and universe anytime soon.

Series grade: B
Series MVP: Jude Law as Sam and Naomie Harris as Helen

What I’m Watching: Fargo

Fargo: Season 4, Episode 5 “The Birthplace of Civilization” (B+)

With so many characters featured this season, it tracks that some of them would have to die eventually. I’m sad that the first (well, not quite the first) to go was Doctor Senator, played so emphatically by Glynn Turman. I don’t know what kind of Emmy love this season is going to get, but the past winner for “In Treatment” definitely deserves another shot at a trophy for this performance, particularly his final line that may just have been the last straw that got him killed. I’m glad that he got the signature movie music to play him out. Tensions are very high, and Loy is dealing with many issues on his front, starting with Thurman, whose attempt to pay Loy back with his own stolen money did not sit well with him. Dibrell tried to make the situation better, but Loy wasn’t having any of it. Ethelrida proved to be creative when she realized what Oraetta had done and thought of a way that she might be able to hold her accountable for it, but she got outsmarted by Deafy, who appears to just want to get back home to his family in Salt Lake. Unfortunately, Loy was one step ahead of him in tracking down Roulette and Capps, enlisting them in working for him rather than just killing them. He also managed to get inside Odis’ head by telling the story about his mine duties, something that might come back to haunt him but likely won’t because he seems to have much more power and influence in this town than Odis does.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Take Three: The Walking Dead: World Beyond

The Walking Dead: World Beyond: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Tyger and the Lamb” (B)

It didn’t take long for Felix and Huck to catch up to our four main protagonists, and there’s something reassuring about having the entire cast together even if they haven’t yet figured out the best group dynamic. I expected it to be a much more drawn-out process, but instead it happened right away, and even Hope, who ran off to be heroic for the sake of the rest of the team, was reunited with them by the end of the episode. It’s not going to be entirely smooth going forward since they evidently have different priorities, and going back to the campus is an idea that’s going to lead nowhere other than a greatly increased amount of fear due to the severity of a threat that they don’t even really know exists. Silas’ backstory offered some details but not all that many, and what we did learn that’s important going forward is that this group is always going to accept him exactly as he is. He and Elton have a particularly strong bond, and it’s good to see just how encouraging he is of the less emotive Silas. Hope sharing the fact that she killed Elton’s mom with Iris is a positive development since that’s a secret she didn’t want to come out at the wrong time because she was holding it in. Elizabeth’s brief appearance at the end of the episode was intense and memorable, as she went to great lengths to illustrate her point to one soldier who wasn’t at all happy to go along with her morally questionable orders. I’d like to see more of what’s going on there in the future.

What I’m Watching: Lovecraft Country (Season Finale)

Lovecraft Country: Season 1, Episode 10 “Full Circle” (B+)

I’m still not sure I understand all that much of what happened over the course of this entire season, but this episode seemed to offer up a few relatively uncomplicated conclusions to particular arcs. Atticus and Leti were able to go back to the house and get more concrete answers than the first time they were there, while Hippolyta and Montrose were frantically trying to revive them in the present. I did like the music that was playing as they bravely got set to pull it off, and it actually seemed sort of easy, aside from Titus’ brief escape to appear right in front of Christina’s crashed car. He proved himself right away to be a horrible person and a racist, things we knew already and which led to his very quick death via brutal heart extraction. Christina’s assertion that there was no generational hate, just a consequential death related to her spell, didn’t feel all that genuine, especially when Leti realized that she had killed Ruby and taken her form for their road trip. After Leti got thrown out the window and Atticus was having his blood drunk (always fun to watch), it seems like there was little hope, but then we got Leti up and running again, which typically signifies something awesome about to happen. It turned out that Ji-Ah was meant to be there, even if it did also mean that Atticus died. Leti casting a binding spell so that white people couldn’t have magic was a formidable win, though I’d say the ending scene with Diana violently killing Christina was the more shocking and emphatic moment of the episode. Season two has still not been announced, and even though this isn’t exactly my type of show, I’ve been impressed with the way that it’s been done and I think I’d tune in.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Jurnee Smollett as Leti and Jonathan Majors as Tic

Saturday, October 17, 2020

What I’m Watching: Five Bedrooms

Five Bedrooms: Season 1, Episode 7 “Four Meats” (B)

This episode was a bit predictable but still entertaining, though I’m not sure it concerned the most realistic bathroom emergency scenes I’ve ever seen. Ben does seem to be a bit too put-together for the messy version of himself he describes, and therefore it wasn’t a huge surprise that his paella turned out to be rather poisonous – for everyone except for him and Heather. His daughter wasn’t too happy about the idea of staying with him, and getting him to tell her why he went to jail, however noble it may have been, didn’t end up winning him any points with her mother. Heather was predictably furious when Lachlan, who really does seem so sleazy every time he shows up, arrived at the door to take care of Ainsley and then dared to propose that he move in to take her spot. This all felt too good to be true, and the notion of breaking up the house isn’t necessarily a show ender since these characters all have arcs that could be followed even if they ended up separating. Harry has a handful with his mother, who isn’t open to the idea of accepting him for who he is, and Liz may just have blackmailed her way into a job she desperately needs, even just for her own sanity. I’m eager to see how things resolve in the season finale, and my hopes of following this show’s threads in the future are bolstered by news of production on season two having begun in June.

Pilot Review: Grand Army

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

Friday, October 16, 2020

Pilot Review: Helstrom

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

What I’m Watching: Tehran

Tehran: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Engineer” (B+)

Things got derailed very quickly, and suddenly this operation feels like it could go south and end up with a lot of people dead. Tamar had Milad just where she wanted him, and he didn’t even seem to notice quite how aggressive she was being with Farham in trying to get him to commit. But then Karim showed up to throw a wrench in all of it, and Mohammed shot him dead right in front of a terrified Milad. It does seem like Mossad has a number of loyal agents who will do absolutely anything for them, making Tamar’s place there seem less necessary, but I guess it’s because she also possesses the hacking skills. Milad is likely to be uncooperative now if they even try to use him for anything, and Tamar is getting sentimental thinking about her father at exactly the wrong time. In the wake of Masoud’s death and his firing, Faraz got very creative in forcing Arezoo to call her brother-in-law and pull an extreme version of the “buy debit cards and drop them off to pay your parking tickets before the marshal arrests you” to get Tamar’s father to come to Istanbul. It does make sense that Mossad wouldn’t necessarily be monitoring Mordechai because they didn’t think there was a chance that he would leave the country and put himself at risk for his sister-in-law. It’s a daring ploy given that he’s not actively employed anymore, but I’m sure that Ali will be happy to work with him if he tries for something more than just trading him for his wife. It certainly intensifies things, with just two episodes left before the season ends.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pilot Review: Social Distance

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

What I’m Watching: Ratched

Ratched: Season 1, Episode 4 “Angel of Mercy: Part Two” (B+)

I was wondering how quickly things were going to progress with Mildred being very aware of who Charles was hunting and the hired hitman being close to his target. It didn’t seem clear whose side Mildred was really on, as she told Charles exactly where Dr. Hanover was but also made it so that he would be ready to defend himself. Her moral code is complex and confusing, since she was upset enough about the hot-cold water torture to have Huck spirit two patients out of the hospital but had no problem turning the temperature way up to burn Charles’ skin off in an effort to kill him. The fact that it didn’t work and he instead had to walk through the hall as his skin was melting off was even more brutal, meeting what may have counted as a merciful end from the security guard’s gun. Gwendolyn coming to check in to the motel made things interesting, and she wasted no time in listening in to Charles’ conversation and showing up to the hospital at the worst possible time. Though Mildred resisted her advances when they were very close to each other in the doorframe, she’s obviously warming to the idea of a romance. She’s now complicit in a sort of way and might soon understand more of Mildred’s mindset and goals. Mildred was also surprisingly supportive of Dolly’s sexual relationship with her brother, and we learned that, while she likes to classify certain behavior as untoward and unacceptable, she’s done things she’s not proud of in the past too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Round Two: Soulmates

Soulmates: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Lovers” (B+)

I’m always a bit disappointed to watch anthology series since, if I’m impressed with one installment, it’s sad not to see those actors and characters again in a subsequent one. Fortunately, sometimes two hours are so completely different, and it’s interesting to see how the same premise is used to create both. This episode had echoes of the upcoming movie “Promising Young Woman” (which is excellent) and a season two episode of “The Twilight Zone.” I’ve been a fan of David Costabile since his early work in small parts on shows like “Breaking Bad,” “Flight of the Conchords,” and “Damages,” and more recently, I’ve watched him ham it up on “Billions.” This was a more controlled performance, and what was most brilliant about it was how he played the wrongly-accused victim up until a certain moment where he snapped and became the clear aggressor, set on attacking Alison/Jodie even if he hadn’t been guilty of what she claimed. But, as he said by describing himself as the monster she thought he was, he really was admitting his capability for violence and cruelty. I recognized actress Sonya Cassidy from her role as Hester on “Humans,” and it was a pretty formidable performance to go along with Costabile’s. I have no idea now what to expect from episodes three and beyond, but it does seem obvious that this soul gene isn’t nearly the miracle discovery everyone thinks it is but instead something capable of ruining relationships and manipulating people into doing things very much counter to their common sense instincts.

What I’m Watching: Manhunt: Deadly Games

Manhunt: Deadly Games: Season 2, Episode 3 “Bombingham” (B+)

There’s still a bit of a focus on Richard Jewell, but much more is happening that makes it very clear – as if it wasn’t already – that he’s not the bomber and the continued investigation into him is just allowing the real bomber to continue hurting people. Opening with the scene we saw at the end of the previous episode that included a second explosion right after the first showed just how unprepared everyone was for this strike, and that happened again later in the episode, when even a warning that a second blast might be coming wasn’t enough to prevent any casualties. Earl remains set on the idea that they have to listen to the bomb, and he’s paying careful attention to the places that are being targeted and what’s actually happening. The abortion clinic being hit on a day that the doctor wasn’t scheduled to work indicated that there might be a secondary target, or, as he later asserted, that the aim was to get law enforcement there so that they might become the victims. The pro-life protester running over to cry out in agony over the nurse and the security guard after they were killed was an intense dramatization, one that seemed to indicate that he really was pro-life, just as concerned about the lives of those he disagreed with as with the lives of the unborn. Richard’s fate continues to be miserable, and he couldn’t even have the satisfaction of a peaceful takeout dinner when the pizza deliveryman cruelly slid his pizza onto the floor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

What I’m Watching: We Are Who We Are

We Are Who We Are: Season 1, Episode 5 “Right here, right now #5” (B)

This episode was considerably faster-paced than the previous one, though that’s not saying all that much. It’s interesting to see which of the romantic relationships we saw brewing are actually turning into something, and also worth remembering the considerable age differences between some of the characters, namely Fraser and Jonathan. Dancing intimately with his crush wasn’t enough to convince Fraser not to talk to his mother, but taking Caitlin shooting was apparently the proper motivation for him to give her the silent treatment. Shaving her head so that she could look more like a boy is going to have profound effects on how her father, family, and friends see her, and it turns out that Giulia knew all along that she was a girl, something she was not happy to discover. What evidently started that wasn’t so clear early on is the affair between Maggie and Jenny, two women who feel out of place and utterly ignored by their partners. They’re not being particularly discreet about it, and Danny is already away that something might be up after he saw them spending time together in public. Richard was furious when Sarah forced him to apologize on behalf of his men, and if he finds out that their wives are sleeping with each other, he’s going to be considerably angrier than anyone else. Knowing that information could boil over at any point makes watching this show a tense experience, though we may also not see any of those characters for a while given the ever-shifting focus and range of players.

What I’m Watching: The Third Day (Penultimate Episode)

The Third Day: Season 1, Episode 5 “Tuesday – The Daughter” (B-)

Apparently we’re going to see most of the same cast and characters in this second half, with a few new additions who aren’t yet aware of what they’re in for with this island. The residents really aren’t great at keeping a secret, and Helen and her daughters couldn’t have ignored the loud panic that was occurring as Jess was about to give birth. Helen did spring into action to help turn the baby the right away thanks to her experience as a veterinarian, and she got the appropriate gratitude from most of the people there. She did offer some clarifying information about Nathan and how he wasn’t an angel but an angry, difficult, and violent child, which is all the more meaningful since we know that he isn’t actually dead. She caught on very quick when Jess happened to mention that the baby’s father is named Sam and that they had a one-night stand, and it took Jess much longer to realize who Helen was. Helen appears to have found her husband, who’s looking considerably shaggier with long hair, while Tallulah managed to get away from a quickly psychotic Jess who didn’t want to risk her interfering with any of her baby’s birthright. Ellie had her own creepy interaction with her new friend with plenty of disturbing ideas and cave images to go along with them. I hope that the finale provides some satisfaction because I’m feeling far from engaged or impressed at the moment. I’d like to feel like there was some point to this whole journey.

Monday, October 12, 2020

What I’m Watching: Fargo

Fargo: Season 4, Episode 4 “The Pretend War” (B)

It’s still difficult to follow exactly what’s going on and who’s sincerely allied with what group, but this show remains interesting and full of rich characters. Though his screen time is limited, I enjoyed seeing Timothy Olyphant as Deafy, eagerly putting his feet on Odis’ desk and then nonchalantly pulling out a snack from his jacket pocket instead of his badge while two angry Italians were ready to shoot him due to his nosiness. Odis appears to have severe OCD, reminiscent of Edward Norton’s protagonist in “Motherless Brooklyn,” and no one, not even Deafy, is nice to him about it, which is a shame. The relationship between Oraetta and Josto continues to be fantastic, as she enjoyed choking himself during sex and then slapped him for the vulgar comment he made after the fact. Ethelrida convinced Oraetta to pay her to clean her house, though the murderous nurse should be aware that she has a few too many secrets that might be discovered if she leaves someone in her home alone for too long. Her father went to Loy to try to make things right, something her mother wasn’t happy about at all. Rabbi Milligan tried to make clear his role in everything, both to Loy and Josto, and though he still has his life, his story isn’t playing too well with the bosses who feels like they have no control over everything. Things can only get worse and deadlier from here, with many casualties likely in the remaining episodes of this season.

What I’m Watching: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country: Season 1, Episode 9 “Rewind 1921” (B)

I have to imagine that most of the people watching this episode also made a recent television trip to the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 with the pilot of “Watchmen.” This presentation wasn’t as visually stark but was equally horrifying, particularly with Montrose able to recall what happened and to watch it all over again, helpless to do anything about it. While the events in Tulsa were organized to a degree and resulted in mass casualties and destroyed livelihood, it’s similar to what we’ve seen repeatedly on this show decades later, with police and other white people exerting their dominance over the Black population with no recourse of any kind for their actions. Atticus fulfilling an important memory of Montrose’s by being the mystery man who saved him was a cool moment, especially since these characters were starting to touch on how their presence there might affect the timeline, when in fact they had apparently always been there, at least in the universe they are currently experiencing. It’s a relief to see all of the characters together, even freely discussing their concerns and their responsibilities with Christina, who is going to help for her own benefit and is also dealing with other issues. Hippolyta now has blue hair, making her seem even more like a superhero, and hopefully she’ll still have some energy left for what awaits them in the finale. I thought that this show had already been renewed for a second season but it hasn’t yet, though I imagine we’ll hear that news sometime very soon.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Round Two: The Walking Dead: World Beyond

The Walking Dead: World Beyond: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Blaze of Glory” (B-)

This episode didn’t feature any of what most intrigued me in the first episode, which was the shadowy organization that had this reputation for secrecy and somehow managed to operate sleekly in this post-apocalyptic world. Instead, we got to see the two parties out together trying to press on to get past the horde of zombies in their way on what’s sure to be a very long trek. It’s clear that these kids don’t want to inflict harm on even those they know to be undead, and that glowing red-orange face only made their latest uninvited guest, who was able to survive a bowling ball to the head, seemed much more nefarious and threatening. There’s no way they’ll be able to go on like that given the number of walkers that they’re going to encounter on their journey, but it is somewhat worthwhile to see how the four of them respond differently to the dangers they’re facing. Iris is definitely better suited to structured life, determined to prove her street smarts and battle skills when that’s really not her forte, while Hope is doing fine since she always knew she had to fend for herself given her antiestablishment attitude. Elton just wants to take pictures, while Silas is timid and still growing into his social self. We’re seeing plenty of flashbacks related to Felix’s life before the sky fell, though he’s certainly masking any sentimental side with a gruff exterior matched by Huck’s endlessly sarcastic nature. I’m trying to warm to these characters, but I really want to see a focus on how society operates on a larger scale.

Round Two: Utopia

Utopia: Season 1, Episode 2 “Just a Fanboy” (B)

This was a show that, for some reason, my wife and my in-laws thought they might enjoy and even decided to watch after an unexpectedly violent first hour. They were out midway through this episode right after Wilson had his eye scooped out while he was being tortured, and I was left to finish by myself. While I’m probably more attuned to seeing that type of thing since it’s been featured in other shows that I watch (I remember “Sons of Anarchy” most vividly), I’m still not sure I see the point of including such excessive violence. Wilson also seemed to act rather calm and like he wasn’t in that much pain after having his eye ripped out, but I suppose that’s not the most unrealistic thing about this show. At least Rod got killed, meaning that Arby will now be forced to take care of every possible loose end on his own, which should reduce the body count slightly. What I wasn’t so thrilled about was the fact that, after she convinced Ian to take her seriously, Jessica decided to kill Samantha so that she could exert her dominance as leader of the group. I think I’m disappointed most because she was one of the best characters, and it feels weird to continue without her. We did get two new interesting characters in the form of John Cusack’s Dr. Christie, who believes meat doesn’t carry viruses, and Rainn Wilson’s Michael Stearns, who has another theory that could be helpful for everyone. I’m intrigued but not necessarily rushing to continue with this show, but I feel like another episode could help me decide if this feels too much like “The Boys” or “Future Man,” shows I didn’t keep up with, or something that I might enjoy more.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Pilot Review: The Right Stuff

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

What I’m Watching: Five Bedrooms

Five Bedrooms: Season 1, Episode 6 “Fifty Years” (B+)

Well, things really came to an explosive head here. I kept thinking about how, on “Parks and Recreation,” Leslie kept trying to trick Ron into believing she was planning the ultimate surprise party for him that she would love but he would hate when in fact she was organizing a solitary celebration for him to be alone, something that Ainsley could have picked up on but really didn’t. It was so obvious that Heather just wanted to be left alone, and Pete was far from the most awkward guest in attendance. It makes sense that Colin would move on since Heather definitely did and wasn’t honest about it, and choosing her friend Rhonda at least means both of them can be happy together, though Colin did get in some trouble with his new girlfriend when he seemed so upset about Heather cheating on him. It was great to see Liz get closer with Heather, humorously reacting to her comparison of them as opposites like good and evil and then coming to comfort her with a glass of wine and no conversation when she needed it most. Heather’s choice of words was regrettable when she walked within earshot of the house, and Ben just made it worse by accidentally outing Harry in front of his mother. Her response was heart-wrenching, and the fact that he has to take care of her in a house that isn’t safe for her makes the situation even more impossible. Ainsley chose to do the most self-destructive thing she knew Heather wouldn’t recommend by calling and kissing Lachlan, and this is all going to be a big mess that these housemates won’t soon be able to resolve.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Take Three: Ratched

Ratched: Season 1, Episode 3 “Angel of Mercy” (B+)

This show is undeniably and unapologetically dark, and I can understand its classification as horror since the events it depicts are indeed horrific. I was intrigued at the start of this hour when Corey Stoll’s Charles went to go see Sharon Stone’s Lenore Osgood, who wants the man we know as Dr. Hanover dead because of what he did to her son. She describes him as a barbarian, and when he eventually came clean to Mildred about what had actually transpired, it was even more unsettling since Henry had deliberately drugged the doctor and then killed someone else so that he could amputate his own limbs. Mildred seems intent on protecting Dr. Hanover at any cost because she does appear to believe in the work that he’s doing just as strongly as she wants to save her brother. Charles tried to be into her role play but was pretty blunt about how he felt about the experience, and she couldn’t stop thinking about Gwendolyn during their entire tryst, feelings we know have also been plaguing the press secretary. I like that there are so many facets to the relationships here, which also involve Nurse Backet and her desire for approval that allowed her to enthusiastically carry out the horrific water treatment, and Nurse Dolly’s willingness to do more than just flirt with Edmund. I’m sure the more we learn about Mildred and what’s really going on here, the more disturbing it will all be, but this story is presented in such a riveting and watchable manner.

What I’m Watching: Tehran

Tehran: Season 1, Episode 5 “The Other Iran” (B+)

Part of this episode felt a bit like filler, but I think that’s because, on a mission as intense and deep as this one, it’s possible that agents will be required to take extraordinary measures that they know could compromise them so that they can gain the trust of important allies. Milad really doesn’t seem to get the danger that Tamar is in, but she did also say that she was going to stay to take out the power grid, making her rush to get a passport and get out of the country feel considerably less urgent. Like Tamar, I learned something new about what a thumbs up means in Iran, reminiscent of the “drei glaser” scene from “Inglourious Basterds” that gave a British agent away as anything but a German. Dealing drugs isn’t the worst thing since, if she gets spotted by a real cop, she’s in enough trouble anyway, and she’s working Milad sufficiently to convince him that taking down the grid will be some sort of romantic gesture. Faraz was expectedly furious about his wife being taken, and it was a bold choice for him to forbid Masoud from leaving the country and try to turn him into an asset instead. That didn’t last long, as Mossad appears to have acted decisively right after confirming that he wouldn’t be taking his flight to Turkey. What that means for Faraz’s wife, I’m not sure, but Faraz has just demonstrated that he’s as willing to sacrifice for his cause as the now-deceased Masoud was.

Pilot Review: Connecting

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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Pilot Review: Code 404

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Pilot Review: Devils

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Pilot Review: Next

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Pilot Review: Soulmates

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What I’m Watching: We Are Who We Are

We Are Who We Are: Season 1, Episode 4 “Right here, right now #4” (B-)

This episode was definitely intoxicating – matching the state of most of its characters – but it also felt like a slow and unnecessarily delirious hour. I kept wondering when the Russian owners of the home that was being used so freely by all of these teenagers would return home and be startled, not to mention furious, to find so many intruders inside, freely drinking and vomiting all over their fancy furniture. But, like other times when characters recklessly cross streets and don’t get hit by cars or buses, that’s not what this show is about. These characters will face other consequences – or won’t – will be felt later, most likely in Danny’s regret about drinking so much and completely losing control. Craig, whose proposal was the catalyst for all of this chaos, knew exactly what he was doing, and calmly got up the morning after the wild adventure to report for duty and leave this life behind. It seemed inevitable that Britney and Sam would hook up, though he didn’t appear to be in a great mental state when he walked out of that bathroom where Fraser had just gone to visit him. I like that Fraser immediately told Caitlin when someone else kissed him, and that she told him never to do it again, something he agreed to without any hesitation even though they’re never going to have a sexual relationship. I’m intrigued by all of these characters and want to see more of them but a quicker pace with slightly more dialogue would be appreciated in subsequent episodes.

What I’m Watching: The Third Day

The Third Day: Season 1, Episode 4 “Monday – The Mother” (B-)

I didn’t leave the first three installments of this show feeling too good about it, and I was still somewhat intrigued by the live “theatrical event” that serves as the bridge between the first half and second half. I don’t know that I was fully aware that it was a twelve-hour experience on Facebook, and I had little to no desire to check it out after I realized that. I’m not entirely sure why I’m still watching because of how off-putting I ultimately found this show’s first part, but I figured that I’m close enough to the end that I may as well continue with it. Like Jude Law, Naomie Harris is a strong performer, one who earned an Oscar nomination for “Moonlight” and even did her best to save one of the worst movies I saw last year, “Black and Blue.” Compared with the first episode, this one was particularly slow-moving and less engaging. It was disconcerting to see Larry chatting up Ellie, friendly until Helen got out of the car and shouted at him not to chat up young girls, an insinuation he did not receive positively. It should have been eerie enough that no one wanted them to stay there and that their car just disappeared, and then we saw Mrs. Martin take pity on them and let them stay even though Mr. Martin wasn’t keen on the idea. Though this was billed as a separate story, that last scene showed that Sam was indeed husband and father to this family, which should make their eventual reunion an impactful and complicating affair.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

What I’m Watching: Fargo

Fargo: Season 4, Episode 3 “Raddoppiarlo” (B+)

While I don’t think there’s a need to continue adding characters, I’m never going to object to seeing Timothy Olyphant. I found him particularly endearing and fantastic on “Santa Clarita Diet” and in guest appearances on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Good Place,” but what could be better than seeing him play yet another U.S. marshal after his Emmy-nominated turn on “Justified”? He definitely nails the style of dialogue prominently featured on this show and is absolutely unforgettable in just a portion of this episode. I hope that we’ll see him again. We learned a bit more about Rabbi Milligan, who is not Jewish and not a rabbi, but who was traded twice and now feels out of place, though he’s smart enough not to shoot someone without the proper authorization, even if that now means that he might be on the run. I’m not sure why there’s quite so much farting featured on this show since that already happened right before an accidental hit in episode one and then now during the hold-up. I much preferred the completely flummoxed reaction from Josto as Oraetta emerged from the hospital after conning her way into yet another hospital job and wrongly concluded that he was there spying on her. That’s an interesting and dangerous romance that will surely have violent conclusions. Though Loy may face more adversity than the other people in charge, he’s not necessarily any kinder, as evidenced by his flashing of the money that he so cruelly snatched away just as quickly as he produced it.

What I’m Watching: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country: Season 1, Episode 8 “Jig-a-Bobo” (B)

This show keeps getting even more disturbing, and as someone who’s averse to horror (yet for some reason is still watching this show), I really didn’t like watching Diana get chased by two extremely creepy girls who were dancing and twisting in unnatural ways. Everyone now seems to know that magic exists and that it can be used for both positive and negative purposes. They all got to cast spells to various degrees of effectiveness, and none of it was particularly pleasant to watch. Opening with Emmett Till’s memorial helps to ground this show in a history that’s very much real even if the supernatural content that dominates this show’s episodes make it easy to think of purely as fiction. It was bizarre and off-putting to watch Ruby shed her skin in a very bloody way during sex with William, and there’s plenty of meaning behind the fact that they chose to do that when neither body is a natural skin for either of them. Christina being beaten and killed by the cops was brutal and difficult to watch, especially since she just emerged having to frantically catch her breath but clearly not dead. Ji-Ah showing up to tell Atticus about his impending death didn’t sit well with him, and Leti was very concerned that trusting Christina might well be the way that he dies. I liked Atticus’s response, that they were surrounded by monsters and he didn’t have a choice, and this show really knows how to make Ruby running from her front door – the one that wouldn’t let the cops in just before that – an intense and memorable event. The creature emerging from the pavement to defend them was a formidable moment, and, after a good deal of fear, both Atticus and Leti were very relieved to discover that their spell had indeed worked. The biggest news I noted was that Atticus did go to the future, a fact he knows because the book he brought back was written by his son. I’m fonder of time travel than magic, so I’d be happy for a spotlight on that storyline in the remaining two episodes.

Pilot Review: Cobra

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Monday, October 5, 2020

Pilot Review: Flesh and Blood

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Pilot Review: The Good Lord Bird

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What I’m Watching: Pure

Pure: Season 1, Episode 5 (B+)

A friend from home coming to visit should have been a positive experience for Marnie, but rationalizing that a lifelong relationship meant that she could be fully honest ended up being completely destructive and a terrible idea. Helen did seem a bit too cool, and she was never going to let Marnie be the star of her own life during the visit. I hadn’t expected to see all of our characters together for a dinner party, and it was intriguing to see how they responded to each other. Shereen was typically awkward and not well-received, and even Marnie managed to make telling her to stand up for herself a demeaning act that negated that very advice. Charlie did pretty well, and I’m liking Amber and Joe more and more each time I see them. Helen, on the other hand, was cruel and eager to be the center of attention, and calling Marnie out for her disorder after insinuating that she wanted to get her hands on her breasts was cruel. To their credit, everyone else reacted decently, with Charlie giving her a nod of support and Joe later researching what it meant. I’m glad that Marnie has decided to write Helen off for the moment even if they did get back to a good place when she just abandoned her luggage at the bus station since she’ll be better off blazing a new trail on her own. Both Charlie and Amber are not making good romance decisions, though Charlie’s is likely to be much more impactful on his professional life. Amber almost managed to seem detached and uninterested, but that only lasted for less than a minute.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Pilot Review: The Walking Dead: World Beyond

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AFT Awards: Best Comedy Series

This is the twenty-eighth category of the 14th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2019-2020 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Comedy Series
Last year’s nominees: Brockmire, Fleabag, The Good Place, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Ramy

Emmy nominees: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dead to Me, The Good Place, Insecure, The Kominsky Method, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Schitt’s Creek, What We Do in the Shadows

Finalists: Shameless, Upload, Kidding, Breeders, Dead to Me

The nominees:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Good Place
Ramy
Insecure 

The winner:

The Great delicately balanced its outright comedy with the horrific events it portrayed, achieving a marvelous and immensely watchable result.

Next up: That’s a wrap! Stick around for TV reviews and head over to www.MoviesWithAbe.com for more on the film world and the upcoming Oscar race!

AFT Awards: Best Drama Series

This is the twenty-seventh category of the 14th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2019-2020 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Drama Series
Last year’s nominees: Better Call Saul, Bodyguard, Counterpart, Doom Patrol, Narcos: Mexico

Emmy nominees: Better Call Saul, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Killing Eve, The Mandalorian, Ozark, Stranger Things, Succession

Finalists: Better Call Saul, This Is Us, Orange is the New Black, The Morning Show, Perpetual Grace, LTD, Big Little Lies, Liar

The nominees:

Pose
Stranger Things
Undone
Westworld

The winner:

The Crown brought on an entirely new cast and demonstrated the same maturity in its third season, crafting installments that felt educational, intimate, and deeply thought-provoking.

Next up: Best Comedy Series

AFT Awards: Best Limited Series

This is the twenty-sixth category of the 14th Annual AFT Television Awards, my personal choices for the best in television during the 2019-2020 season. This year, I’m including a shorter list, with just nominees and a few finalists, if applicable. Nominees are pictured in the order I’ve ranked them.

Best Limited Series
Last year’s nominees: I’m excited to introduce this category for the first time this year after watching more limited series than ever in my life.

Emmy nominees: Little Fires Everywhere, Mrs. America, Unbelievable, Unorthodox, Watchmen

Finalists: The Loudest Voice, Mrs. America, Little Fires Everywhere, Mrs. Fletcher

The nominees:

Unorthodox
Normal People
Watchmen
Unbelievable

The winner:

Our Boys turned a horrific series of real-life events into important, resonant television thanks to a sensitive, respectful depiction of the many perspectives and influences that led to them.

Next up: Best Drama Series

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Round Two: Ratched

Ratched: Season 1, Episode 2 “Ice Pick” (B+)

This show is certainly fascinating, even if it’s more than a little disturbing. Mildred did confirm to Father Andrews that Edmund is her brother, and she seems to have this passion for helping others achieve what she believes to be serenity, the elimination of suffering even if what it results in is absolutely not what people would want. Dr. Hanover was excited to share his lobotomy procedure with the press, but even his nurses couldn’t handle the sight of drilling into someone’s head. His next option – driving an ice pick into his patient’s eye – was almost worse, but it didn’t rattle Mildred at all. She’s more than comfortable with the procedure, using it on Father Andrews after she convinced him that he should say all he knew allegedly under the guise of keeping Edmund from hurting anyone else. Dr. Hanover is very impressed with her, and he’ll likely be blinded to her true intentions, especially as he loses confidence in the rest of his staff. Nurse Bucket is not being particularly welcoming, and I think Sarah Paulson may just have won another Emmy with her delivery of “Oh look, my peach” when Nurse Bucket vomited in the operating theater. Gwendolyn was rather forward in bringing Mildred to a lesbian bar, something that she probably shouldn’t have done given that lesbianism was one of the ailments that Dr. Hanover was trying to cure, and she did not respond well at all. I’m intrigued to see how her endgame will play into what she does at the hospital and how loyal she truly is to her brother.

Round Two: Away

Away: Season 1, Episode 2 “Negative Return” (B)

I haven’t been too quick to continue watching this show, which premiered on September 4th, but I also find it very difficult to stay up to date on streaming series that release all of their episodes at the same time if I haven’t had a chance to start early and watch them before that. This show’s premise does intrigue me, but what I’m trying to figure out is whether there’s anything truly original here that merits watching it instead of any other space travel science fiction that’s out there. I will always, for instance, reference “Virtuality,” a FOX series that only ever got a two-hour pilot order, as an enormously compelling space travel series, and I’d gladly trade all of this show for a chance to see more of that produced (it’s been over a decade, so I’m not holding my breath). What doesn’t strike me as vital is the manufacturing of a life-or-death situation involving the main character, who we all know isn’t going to die. One of the things I appreciated most about the new “Lost in Space” (a show whose second season I still need to watch) is that it felt like its characters were in mortal danger each episode even though they were evidently not going to die. Here, Emma doing something crazy to try to save everyone was obviously going to work, and as a result the suspense factor is minimal. Getting more insight into who Misha is was helpful, and the same is true for the other astronauts whose backstories are slowly being filled in. I’m open to the idea of continuing with this show, but unless I find that I have plenty of time to spend on it, I may opt to prioritize other series that I consider to be more vital viewing.

Pilot Review: Emily in Paris

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What I’m Watching: Tehran

Tehran: Season 1, Episode 4 “Shakira and Sickboy” (B+)

Tamar’s late-night run-in in the park turned out to be much more worse than I had expected it would be, once again putting her in a very precarious position because of something someone else did after Tamar happened to be in an unfortunate place at precisely the wrong time. It’s alarming just how much information Faraz now has on Tamar and how quickly he was able to get first to Arezoo and her husband and then to the taxi driver hired by Masoud who wasn’t quite as able to hold up under torture as the strong-willed Masoud. I suppose Arezoo gave up her niece’s real name because she realized that it would look very bad for her if she lied and then they found out anyway, and I’m sure that Razieh will be racked by guilt for putting her parents in mortal danger by reporting that Tamar stayed with them, as Tamar will be given their likely fates. Milad is a great ally for Tamar to have, though she made the explicit decision to pretend to be Zhila when he saw who she was rather than tell him the truth and stress just how important it was for her to get out of the country right away. Hearing the speech on the radio and seeing the posters of nuclear arms on the way to the airport were enough to convince her to stay, and now she’s about to add more heat to herself as she tries to shut down the network once again. I hope that she’ll at least use a secure server to send a message back to the Mossad so that they know she’s alive, and it’s good to know that they’re one step ahead of her and are already taking steps Faraz will not like at all.

Friday, October 2, 2020

What I’m Watching: Ted Lasso (Season Finale)

Ted Lasso: Season 1, Episode 10 “The Hope That Kills You” (B+)

I was sad to watch this episode because that means saying goodbye to this show for the time being, but it’s good to know that, as Rebecca informed Ted in the final scene, this show is going to be back just like the team for another season. This was a great finale, setting up a moderately predictable turn of events that still managed to be enjoyable thanks to the signature flair of all of these characters. One of my favorite moments was Jamie stopping by Keeley’s with no knowledge that Roy was going to be the one answering the door, and we got to see how Roy worked through his rage at his “grandson” to tackle him in a key moment that, by all indications, may be his last time on the field. I liked Ted’s enthusiasm for surprise plays, and it was truly fantastic to see that the “Lasso Special” was just the boys pretending to play football so that they could confuse the hell out of Manchester City. They were so busy celebrating their tie that they didn’t see Jamie’s final-moment goal coming, but at least they had a great energy and managed to invigorate their fans. Nate getting promoted was a nice touch, especially since he didn’t know it was happening and was ready to lace into Rebecca for firing him. It’s going to be an uphill battle to return from relegation, earn a promotion, and do whatever happens next in season two, but I can’t wait. This show has been a delight, and I hope Jason Sudeikis and the series earn some awards love.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Jason Sudeikis as Ted and Juno Temple as Keeley

Pilot Review: Gangs of London

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Pilot Review: The Salisbury Poisonings

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What I’m Watching: Raised by Wolves (Season Finale)

Raised by Wolves: Season 1, Episode 10 “The Beginning” (B-)

This episode was a bit of a mess, and the ending was visually jarring and a bit hard to decipher in a way that does not make me more curious about what’s going to happen in the future. What I did find most compelling was that Father realized he was feeling jealous, and he wanted to have his memories wiped because he thought that would be the only way to be okay being around Mother. He’s also been well aware of what his role is in the family unit, and with Mother reproducing and him not being involved, his skill at joke-telling and solving problems doesn’t really hold up. Mother made some surprising discoveries of her own, and I imagine that anyone who’s not too fond of snakes probably wasn’t too happy with what occurred over the course of this episode. I think that Mother and Father were always fated to raise these children, and we saw that, even after Hunter had a chance of heart, it was Paul who proved to be the true believer and turned his weapon on his own mother after he realized – apparently as a result of Saul talking to him – that Sue was not actually who she claimed to be. There’s something very unsettling about the “Saul, guide my hand” cry that the Mithraic like to invoke since it indicates a disconnect between what a person is doing and any responsibility that they bear for its consequences. I’m really not too sure what season two will look like but I feel like I’ve invested a good amount of time in this show, so perhaps I’ll return to see what adventures come next when this show comes back.

Season grade: B-
Season MVP: Abubakar Salim as Father

Thursday, October 1, 2020

What I’m Watching: Manhunt: Deadly Games

Manhunt: Deadly Games: Season 2, Episode 2 “Unabubba” (B+)

So much of what happened in this episode played out in “Richard Jewell,” and so it’s hard to consider it in its own right given that I’ve seen it dramatized before. That said, it is affirming to have some sort of confirmation that those events did happen since the two portrayals were so similar. What was different was that the FBI agent understood that the grenade didn’t actually pose a threat and actively argued against leaking that detail to the press, something which the director told him he had to do. The casting of Jay O. Sanders from “Sneaky Pete” and “Person of Interest” as Richard’s lawyer is an interesting choice, mainly because he’s a lot quieter and less colorful than Sam Rockwell. Carla Gugino is a strong pick to play reporter Kathy Scruggs, and from what I’ve heard, that part, played by Olivia Wilde in the film, will be considerably kinder to her legacy and not imply the trading of any sexual favors for information. The agents interviewing Richard as if they were having him star in a training video and then trying to record him saying he had a bomb were disturbing techniques, and it’s a good thing that he was so well-versed in the way law enforcement works that he realized something was wrong. Skipping forward a bit in time resulted in an explosive end to the episode, certain to affirm for at least one person that, as he knew all along, Richard was not the one who did this.

Take Three: We Are Who We Are

We Are Who We Are: Season 1, Episode 3 “Right here, right now #3” (B+)

This show is certainly not fast-paced, but that’s also because it manages to pack so much and so many relationships into just one hour. We moved straight from Fraser giving Caitlin clothes to them being inseparable best friends, spending all their time together and not judging each other for anything. They’re all for exploring gender identity, preparing to shave Caitlin’s non-existent mustache and commenting on whose rear ends they’re looking at when they caught each other staring. Fraser seems determined not to engage in any sort of sexual relationship even if everyone already thinks that’s what’s happening, and Caitlin doesn’t seem to care either way. We did see an interesting bond start to form between Jenny and Maggie, two characters who are often on the sidelines with their spouses and children taking up more space than them. I thought that there might be a romance brewing there, though it’s hard to tell with any of these dynamics whether there’s sexual tension or if there’s just a platonic closeness that indicates being truly seen in a way they haven’t been in a while. It was definitely unfortunate that, after wandering for the night with Caitlin and getting punched by her brother, Fraser found his mother dancing with Jonathan, his crush, in a way that seemed much more than friendly. Their relationship, like Caitlin’s with her father, is deeply complicated, but this is going to make things much worse in a way she likely doesn’t even realize. Caitlin’s nonchalant reaction to being dumped is pushing both Sam and Britney away.

Take Three: The Third Day

The Third Day: Season 1, Episode 3 “Sunday – The Ghost” (C+)

I did not like the way this episode started at all, morphing from Sam tripping out of his mind to realizing that he was trapped in a real-life horror movie where he was the target of a vicious killer. Part of the reason it was so disturbing was due to the effectiveness of John Dagleish’s performance as Larry, but it was also just unappealing. Jess was right to ask him whether he could be sure it wasn’t all part of some psychotic episode, which he proved wasn’t the case by showing the rope still attached to his hand, but I was still sure that she was in on all this the whole time, seeming less fervent but just as much of a believer in the cause. Hearing that Mr. Martin came up with the idea of taking his son was devastating, though the news that he was still alive was even more incredible. Everything about the way that these people brought him to the island and then were either forcing him to stay or ready to murder him if he didn’t was unsettling, but seeing the image of himself in the church indicated that maybe this is where he belongs after all, especially if his son is there. The ending of the episode was certainly memorable and well-done, even if I wasn’t too on board with what was happening. I’m not sure I feel inclined to continue watching, but there’s something to the fact that it’s going to be a new narrative, which could capture the more appealing and intriguing aspects of this show thus far while avoiding the negative elements.

What I’m Watching: The Comey Rule (Series Finale)

The Comey Rule: Season 1, Episode 2 “Night Two” (B+)

Barely showing Trump in the first half of this series was an effective strategy, and it’s so interesting to see how Brendan Gleeson plays him. I’m a big fan of his, and I fondly remember when I got to interview him and Don Cheadle for the very underrated film “The Guard.” His portrayal of Trump is almost subdued, careful to emphasize what he says and how he says it but not prone to anger or excessive drama. I also think it’s interesting that Trump and his team would likely not debate much of what he’s alleged to have said here, in part because, as he has said over and over, he values loyalty and has no problem asking for that even if it means that he’s implying that a transparent investigation shouldn’t happen if it’s going to end up targeting him. His continued denials of everything he’s been accused of as a way of answering unrelated questions were maddening, but it was mesmerizing to watch. It’s hard to know exactly what this series wants to say about Comey, since it paints him as a hero trying his hardest but also sees that he didn’t do anything about the information he had on Trump early enough, and therefore got himself into the very uncomfortable situation of being personally beckoned and called by Trump for wholly inappropriate conversations that, regardless of what he wrote down right after, he can’t possibly prove really happened. What was most chilling was when we got to see that each of the FBI team members are all real people, and, for some reason or another, they all no longer work for the FBI. I did immediately recognize Peter Strzok’s name and remembered that he was fired over text messages he sent about his personal feelings related to Trump to Lisa Page, a complicating factor that shouldn’t negate the fact that his behavior, by all appearances was, like Andrew McCabe’s, unaffected by his private political leanings. Having Rod serve as a narrator of sorts was a bit of an odd framing device choice, but overall I think this two-night event worked pretty well. I might have liked to see it play out over a longer period of time since there’s plenty to cover, but this feels like a timely and certainly disturbing dramatization of a few investigations that really did not go the right way.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Brendan Gleeson as Trump