Wednesday, June 30, 2021

What I'm Watching: Kevin Can F**k Himself

Kevin Can F**k Himself: Season 1, Episode 4 “Live Free or Die” (B+)

It was great to see Allison and Patty bond on their road trip to Vermont, even if Patty was resistant the entire way to liking the neighbor that she had never thought much of in all their years living next door to each other. I liked that it was Allison’s joke about killing her mom that first softened Patty up, and that it became a recurring joke over the course of the episode. I’m glad that all the portrayals of drug deals weren’t too over-the-top, and instead indicated the typical dynamic of sketchy people taking advantage of would-be buyers who were in a bad position since they had absolutely no leverage and were in desperate need of supply that only these people could give them. Ending up with a gun rather than the pills wasn’t a great result since shooting Kevin would be too obvious, and I’m so intrigued and excited that Allison felt like she could open up to Patty, who might not support her plan but isn’t likely to reveal it to Kevin either. The fact that Kevin called the police to report the car stolen shows how much more he cares about his things than about his wife, and while his antics with the Escape Groom were absolutely absurd, I do think that’s supposed to show the level of effort he’s able to put into something that he thinks will benefit him but can’t even be bothered to listen to his wife for a second or think of loaning her his car unless he gets something out of it.

What I’m Watching: Solos

Solos: Season 1, Episode 6 “Nera” (C)

My patience for this show is wearing thin, and I can’t imagine the idea of binging it all at once since each successive episode makes me want to continue even less. I do like actress Nicole Beharie and was very impressed with her performance as another mother in “Miss Juneteenth,” but this was like something out of a horror movie that didn’t feel like it had any purpose at all. Even though the first episode featured a little bit too much Anne Hathaway, it was a showcase for introspection by speaking to another version of yourself, and that was felt even more in episode two with the dual Anthony Mackies. Since then, this show has veered more and more off-course, and by definition, it’s no longer a solo operation. It’s possible to interpret all of this as a fever dream that would explain all of the impossibilities and the rapid aging that Jacob was experiencing after he was birthed so suddenly, but I think it’s meant to be taken literally, which doesn’t appeal at all. The idea of using a fertility treatment that’s untested and might have unanticipated or unpredictable side effects is relatable, but this went too far, turning into a nightmare rather than an exploration of her reality. I was waiting for some sort of emphatic point at the end but it never came, and instead this entire episode, which was only twenty minutes, felt like an unbearable and directionless eternity. With just one installment left, I hope that I’ll leave this show on a better note.

What I’m Watching: Intelligence

Intelligence: Season 2, Episode 2 (B+)

It did seem like Jerry’s latest harebrained idea spiraled very quickly and disconcertingly into Mary being waterboarded, but she didn’t seem to mind too much and apparently Christine knew all along that she was a mole. I think this team is not at all clear on what the layers of duplicity represent, as Mary is indeed a triple agent working for GCHQ while making the Russians believe that she’s working for them and deceiving GCHQ, her actual job. Jerry doesn’t really know much, of course, though he’s much more with it than Joseph, who, even while receiving a warning about his employment status from Christine that she deemed final, didn’t seem to grasp any sense of its seriousness or potential implications. Knowing that Nick Mohammed is the creator of this show assures that Joseph isn’t going anywhere, but I do wish he was a bit nicer to his own onscreen persona. I was thrilled to find out that Evelyn is actually Christine’s daughter, which helps to explain why her boss keeps her around and why she continues to be so absolutely incompetent and uninterested in a job that she evidently never wanted and is being made to work. What I enjoyed most about this episode was seeing Colin again and just how interested he was in the office dramatics with the handwriting analysis and the mysterious identity of the Valentine’s Day card sender. I understood that he wanted to have dinner with Joseph, but that seemed lost on everyone. I was also pretty sure that Jerry got the flowers for himself, but apparently his mother is the one person who loves him more than he does.

What I’m Watching: Physical

Physical: Season 1, Episode 4 “Let’s Get This Party Started” (B+)

It was only a matter of time before Sheila was able to both overtake the voice in her head and finally speak up for herself, and it was great to see that happen multiple times over the course of this episode. Danny hiring his friend Jerry, played by Geoffrey Arend, was a questionable move, and she rightly took him to task for it. He was more interested in defending Jerry, who wanted the money upfront and had no interest whatsoever in hearing any of Sheila’s ideas. Going to the country club event all by herself wasn’t so bad since he’s not particularly useful anyway, and she did do a marvelous job of promoting him and fundraising, even earning a sizeable contribution from Ernie. Returning home to find Danny incredibly high and in the middle of a wild party at her house didn’t hit her well at all, and Danny did seem sincerely remorseful when she confronted him. That could have reset everything, but instead Danny managed to dig his own grave by cutting Sheila off mid-sentence to demand the coffee she hadn’t yet given them. She almost relapsed into her naked burger routine but instead did something productive with the burgers and refocused the cinematographic energy Tyler is just itching to use to something that would benefit her exclusively. I’m excited to see what she does next, and also curious about the flirtation she’s keeping up with John Breem, which included a bizarre moment where she noticed how frantically he stepped away from the water when it almost made its way onto his shoes outside the party.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Pilot Review: Sex/Life

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: Trying

Trying: Season 2, Episode 7 “Lift Me Up” (B+)

I wouldn’t have imagined a happy ending for pretty much everyone when this episode started, and it turns out there may be even more exciting things on the horizon. Nikki getting the call about the promotion at the same time as Jason got the call about the kids threatened to make the outlook of this episode dismal, but Jason was very sweet to point to their kids in the distance and pretend that Nikki was too short to see over the horizon. Working on their manager points was also fun, and they had the bachelor and bachelorette parties to focus on and keep their minds occupied. Erica finding Scott’s mostly blank mad libs and him finding Deven’s cup in the trash weren’t positive catalysts for a great time, and they both seemed incredibly distracted by the activities that weren’t altogether suited to their interests, aside from the go-karting that Karen seemed to love. Having both Karen and Erica convey earth-shattering secrets to her as they were about to drive off made Nikki understandably agitated, and it’s good to see that both of those got sorted. It was nicest that Scott overheard Jason telling Freddy that love was peace, which inspired him to go home and do something selfless before acknowledging his unbelievable – and often incomprehensible – pretentiousness. Harper was so unfazed by Freddy breaking up with her that she found a younger man in literally the same room, and though his issues with Erica haven’t been fixed, getting to focus on being better for her should be good for him. Vic even got to try something new! As if this episode couldn’t get any more satisfying, Nikki forcing Jason to pay her back was followed up by the very sweet shot of Jason staring at the ring that he’s going to use to propose. How wonderful!

What I’m Watching: United States of Al (Season Finale)

United States of Al: Season 1, Episode 13 “Help/Komak” (B)

This was a mostly dramatic ending half-hour, one that highlighted the work that still needs to be done for Riley to acclimate back to being home after his time in war and that Al is not the only one who’s having trouble coping with his surroundings. Going from that to Lizzie throwing up in the backseat of Al’s new car to keep the comedy going didn’t feel all that smooth, and that’s probably because, in the end, this is a sitcom and one that’s going to go for comedy, heartwarming if possible, over its more serious subtext. Aside from Al acknowledging his own tendency to be belligerent especially when people tell him not to see something through, this episode found him in a less giving and reassuring context, instead the one who, thanks in part to his abstention from alcohol and also because he was concerned about how this was all affecting Hazel, kept first Riley and then Lizzie on track when they went to the bar and didn’t have any plans of coming back to keep the camping experience going. Art did his part to be there with Hazel and then to admonish Riley for his behavior when he did finally return. Riley going to Vanessa to tell her he was finally giving the VA a shot was a good step, and I’m sure that Al will be thrilled to hear the other part of that conversation, which is that he’s also planning to get her back, which sets up a nice subplot for season two. I’m happy this show will be continuing – it’s fun and light, and I’m enjoying these characters.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Adhir Kalyan as Al

What I’m Watching: Why Women Kill

Why Women Kill: Season 2, Episode 5 “They Made Me a Killer” (B+)

I like that things on this show are moving relatively quickly, without too much lag time in between for a subplot to fester. Rita acted immediately to embarrass Alma in the most brutal way possible as revenge for her being related to Dee, and it was truly dreadful to watch. I like that Dee quickly figured out who it was that got her fired from her job as well, and that she recognized the photo of Rita so she was able to explain why it was that Rita had it out for her. Alma’s power play to blackmail Rita didn’t go as planned, and the unnecessary desecration of her garden was the last straw, which makes me eager to see how Alma, who does happen to be married to a serial killer, is going to take down Rita. Bertram’s trip out of town to go see his old pastor, played by Dakin Matthews, who also recurred on “Desperate Housewives,” was quite entertaining, mainly because he so eagerly and freely spouted off the many murders he had committed that made him quiver every time he heard them. It’s good that he didn’t choose to confide in someone else and instead just repeated the same confession over and over to the same unwilling listener. I thought at first that Scooter was hatching a plan to get back at Rita with Catherine, but it seems like that ploy, which is working well, is all about winning her back instead. I like that Carlo is fighting back with the only method of communication he has, and he almost managed to get Rita caught, but he’ll have to keep trying to successfully outwit her.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Interview with Abe: Hacks

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For HBO Max’s “Hacks,” here’s stars Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, and Kaitlin Olson and creators Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello, and Jen Statsky. Watch above and click through to check out the conversations we had for Awards Radar.

Interviews with Abe: Ted Lasso

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Apple TV Plus’ “Ted Lasso,” here’s creator and star Brendan Hunt, star Phil Dunster, and casting director Theo Park. Click through to read the conversations we had for Awards Radar.

Interviews with Abe: The Handmaid's Tale

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” here’s star Joseph Fiennes, star Sam Jaeger, and executive producer Warren Littlefield. Watch the conversations we had for Awards Radar above.

Interviews with Abe: Ratched

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Netflix’s “Ratched,” here’s production designer Judy Becker, casting directors Courtney Bright and Nicole Daniels, and cinematographer Simon Dennis. Click through to read the conversations we had for Awards Radar.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Interviews with Abe: Dickinson

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Apple TV Plus’ “Dickinson,” here’s star Hailee Steinfeld, star Anna Baryshnikov, star Ella Hunt, and composers Drum and Lace and Ian Hultquist. Click through to read the conversations we had for Awards Radar.

Interviews with Abe: The Queen's Gambit

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Netflix’s “The Queen's Gambit,” here’s star Thomas Brodie-Sangster, star Harry Melling, and casting director Ellen Lewis. Click through to read the conversations we had for AwardsWatch and Awards Radar.

Interviews with Abe: Shrill

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Hulu’s “Shrill,” here’s star John Cameron Mitchell and writer Lindy West. Click through to read the conversations we had for Awards Radar.

Interviews with Abe: The Underground Railroad

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Amazon Prime Video’s “The Underground Railroad,” here’s stars Joel Edgerton and William Jackson Harper. Click through to read the conversations we had for Awards Radar.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Interview with Abe: Generation

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For HBO Max’s “Generation,” here’s creators Zelda and Daniel Barnz. Click through to read the conversation we had for Awards Radar.

Interviews with Abe: Industry

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For HBO’s “Industry,” here’s stars Myha'la Herrold and Ken Leung. Click through to read the conversation we had for Awards Radar.

Interviews with Abe: Halston

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Netflix’s “Halston,” here’s star Krysta Rodriguez and casting director Maribeth Fox. Watch above and click through to check out the conversations we had for AwardsWatch and Awards Radar.

Interviews with Abe: Your Honor

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Showtime’s “Your Honor,” here’s star Hope Davis and composer Volker Bertelmann. Click through to read the conversations we had for Awards Radar.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Interview with Abe: Call Me Kat

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Fox’s “Call Me Kat,” here’s star Leslie Jordan. Watch the conversation we had for AwardsWatch above.

Interview with Abe: Lisey's Story

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Apple TV Plus’ “Lisey's Story,” here’s star Ron Cephas Jones. Watch the conversation we had for Awards Radar above.

Interview with Abe: The Politician

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Netflix’s “The Politician,” here’s costume designer Claire Parkinson. Click through to read the conversation we had for Awards Radar.

Interview with Abe: Master of None

As Emmy voting is underway, I’m delighted to share some of the interviews I’ve been able to conduct with contenders across all categories. 

For Netflix’s “Master of None,” here’s production designer Amy Williams. Click through to read the conversation we had for Awards Radar.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 13 “There’s Something about Hamburger Mary’s” (B+)

This episode felt different because it spent more time than we’ve seen recently with Megan, who got called up for karaoke after she took Nathan up on spending their mother-son date night in a way that he would enjoy a whole lot more than her. I like that the rarely seen Mark pushed her to go with him, spinning it that he invited her to go while she interpreted it as a dare, and that the constant metaphor of the boat made her uneasy and irritated. Her episode-ending rendition was indeed awkward, but it was a show of enthusiasm for her son’s life choices. We didn’t even get any commentary about the thruple her daughter is involved in that Arianna’s parents pointed out was very exclusionary of the third best friend of the two girls participating in it. The adult who got to shine the most in this half-hour was Ana, who gave a great speech and got to really be herself in front of anyone. Lucia was right to realize that Riley was into her, whether or not it was not being into girls or just not being ready for a romance, and it’s a shame that Greta finally working up the nerve to tell Riley how she felt came at the same time as her getting picked up by someone else to go home. The look on Chester’s face when he had to sit in between Nathan and Bo and pretend to be fine with things said so much, and while it wasn’t necessarily right for Nathan to ask him to do that when he was on a date with someone else, Bo was correct in observing that Chester probably wasn’t doing the right thing either by leading someone on who he knows is in love with him.

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 12 “The High Priestess” (B+)

I feel like we haven’t seen much of Arianna lately, and this episode certainly cemented how she feels like there’s no one in the world who’s paying attention to her or who truly understands her. Lashing out at her dads after they bought her light tampons and complaining about being suffocated by male energy indicated her true frustration, and I think that some of that was alleviated by the opportunity to have the coven together with Delilah and Naomi. Deciding that they were going to go to the dance together was a great way to feel connected, and that quickly burst when Naomi had the idea for her and Delilah to become a thruple with Cooper, not realizing at all that they were completely ostracizing Arianna and even forcing her to photograph their new exclusive club. She took out her rage on the guy who dared to ask her to the dance, deeming all men parasites, and I’m really not sure what could transpire now which would make her feel any differently. I did enjoy the awkwardness of Megan trying to elicit sympathy from Joe and Patrick about what she was going through with Nathan, and how Joe pointed out that what she was trying to stop him from being was exactly what they were: gay. There hasn’t been all that much exploration of Delilah’s feelings post-giving birth, and finding out about the Panda Express rumors brought all that back in a way that’s sure to come up again soon.

Take Three: Loki

Loki: Season 1, Episode 3 “Lamentis” (B+)

This was a pretty fascinating episode, one that was captivating despite not featuring most of the players we’ve come to know other than Loki himself. The momentary shot of Sylvie that we saw at the end of the previous episode gave way to a very entertaining two-person dynamic as Loki tried to get to know this other version of himself that was just as snarky but considerably more capable of self-control. I had neglected to mention the presence of actress Sasha Lane, who I remember very fondly from her role in “American Honey” and who also starred in the short-lived Amazon series “Utopia,” as Hunter-C20, and we got the chance to see her in the opening scene of this episode as Sylvie manipulated her into believing that she was having drinks with an old friend when instead she was probing her mind for crucial information. Mention of that moment made Loki realize later that the TVA agents are actually variants who don’t know that that’s what they are, and as soon as he’s reunited with Mobius, I’m sure they’ll have an eye-opening conversation about that. The banter that Loki and Sylvie had was both captivating and funny, and I like that her boundaries gradually came down as he their time together went on. Her waking up to him singing on the train was oddly hypnotic, but then came to a swift end when their acrobatics didn’t pay off and got them ejected from the train. That final scene was haunting but apparently inconsequential, and I’m fully drawn in even though I don’t really know what’s supposed to be happening as they remain untethered to time and seemingly headed for certain death.

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 1, Episode 11 “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events” (B)

I was wondering for a while whether I had accidentally started watching the pilot instead of the eleventh episode of this season since this was a sentimental review of Clark coming to Metropolis, meeting Lois, and then bringing her back to Smallville once he was ready to tell her the truth about who he really was. But the bliss started to fracture when he was haunted by visions of Jor-El and remembering things that didn’t happen that way, realizing that Edge was manipulating his memories and trying to drain him of any will to do good. Enlisting him to be his ally in his plan of planetary domination isn’t likely to work, but the aggressive protocols Zeta-Rho put into motion at Edge’s fortress seemed to be pretty effective at turning Superman into a weapon who couldn’t control what he was doing. To her credit, Lois understood right away what was going on and called a man who, in another world, was her husband to tell him that what he had known would happen all along since, as far as she could tell, Superman had turned because of his desire to save his family. Before this problematic turn of events, Lois got quite the apology from Kyle, who was right to acknowledge how horrible he was to her as he seeks to make sense of what happened to him. Jordan got an unexpected bit of forgiveness of his own from Sarah, and as long as the world doesn’t end anytime soon, they may actually be headed for an enduring relationship in the near future.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 14 “Rayo de Luz” (B)

I wasn’t sure whether there’s some kind of deal in Grant Gustin and Candice Patton’s contracts this season that means they’re not supposed to be on set as often, because I understand the desire to start trying to procreate, but that doesn’t mean that they need to sneak off all the time to have sex privately or go away on vacation. This was, I suppose, a strong endorsement of how this show could look without its recently departed series regulars, continuing to push Allegra and Chester closer together as Allegra was able to make a startling discovery about herself and complete a transformation thanks to the subversive efforts of her cousin Esperanza. It’s still not clear whether she’ll be able to control her powers in the future, but she’s going to be a superb asset to the team going forward now that she has some concept of what she can do. It was great to see Sue again, and I would definitely like to have her around all the time, especially if Ralph doesn’t have to come with her and she can just continue to show off her theatrics and make snarky comments while always saving the day with style. As expected, Kramer wasn’t just a villain and has a relatable backstory, and Joe was exactly the right person to help process what she went through. I’m not sure where things go from here, but I would appreciate the opportunity to see the entire Team Flash come together to take on whatever enemies remain for the rest of the season.

What I’m Watching: In Treatment

In Treatment: Season 4, Episode 20 “Brooke – Week 5” (C)

This was the first episode of this season that I really didn’t like, and that’s mainly because the device here just didn’t work for me at all. The whole point of this show is that it’s an opportunity for people to process feelings with someone else, and in previous seasons, we’ve actually seen groups come to therapy together. That’s only happened briefly in this season when both Colin and Laila were introduced by someone else in their initial sessions. But especially when Adam was making a big deal about how Brooke was getting ready to look nice for her long-delayed session with Paul, it felt like a true disappointment for her to imagine a session with a version of herself. I’ve always found this show to be rooted in reality, which isn’t always comfortable, and it just wasn’t necessary to take the viewing experience completely out of that. It also felt like some of what Brooke was working through came from out of left field, which makes sense given that she might suddenly realize it with the right amount of introspection, but it didn’t feel germane to much of the existing narrative. If we’re not going to see Paul, that’s fine, but there’s no reason to reference him constantly only for Brooke to just face herself. I’d much rather have Rita there to hold her to account, and this further underlines my feelings that these week-ending episodes should have featured a consistent character there to work with Brooke on everything she’s going through during the week.

What I’m Watching: In Treatment

In Treatment: Season 4, Episode 19 “Laila – Week 5” (B+)

Unlike her other sessions this week, Brooke wasn’t, as far as we know, caught off guard by the unexpected arrival of her patient, and this conversation started right in the middle as she was telling Brooke all about the sad story her Uber driver told her. Laila was definitely on edge, lashing out as soon as she mentioned Peru for the first time because of how much she had brought it up previously, and her response of “Is there an echo in here?” wasn’t particularly kind. Casually mentioning that she donated her car to a woman’s shelter indicated how she’s continuing to try to rid herself of personal possessions, especially those she doesn’t need that could be of considerably more value to others. Grand gestures like that didn’t equate, however, to her knowing what kind of cheese she liked and how she felt about scrambled eggs, and Brooke did a decent job of trying to ground her and bring her back to a place of positivity. Having her walk around the room and telling her that it wasn’t too late to change the failure she felt her life was almost worked, but then Brooke’s mention of her legitimate concern about suicide undid it all. Storming out was emphatic, but doing so after affirming that her grandmother was right to think that there was no worth in therapy was even harsher. I imagine she’ll be back for her last session, but they’re not going to be starting off on a good note. In the interim more intrigued about the phone call that Brooke just received and whether she’s actually going to meet her son.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

What I’m Watching: Black Monday

Black Monday: Season 3, Episode 5 “Six!” (C+)

This probably isn’t something new, but it felt much more pronounced this episode. It feels like this show is slipping a bit off the rails, not really tethered to reality in many ways, and its excessive parody of real-life is seeming more and more forced. I just don’t know what to make of Mo’s endgame with Nomi since we all know that he’s actually in love with Dawn, and the two of them are so set on one-upping each other that they’re only ever going to impede either’s accomplishments. Nomi taking off all her clothes as she walked into the recording studio full of musicians that Mo had arranged was an unfortunate start, but he also possesses a truly irritating inability to actually hear anything she says, namely that she’s not a fan of jazz and would much rather have done something different. Dawn saw that and tried to communicate it, usually without pushing the button so they could hear her, and Nomi proposing to Mo that Dawn manage her music career was quite the twist which turns her fake job into a real job. Keith’s latest idea for Pfaff Fashions was certainly creative and non-traditional, and Tiff seemed to be fully on board with it. Corky, however, didn’t seem anywhere near as amused, and that could spell trouble. Blair’s paranoia is getting the best of him, and hallucinating himself as an intruder is not a harbinger of good things to come. I’m sure there’s more lunacy in the near future, and I hope that it’s slightly more grounded.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 6, Episode 7 “Back to the Finale Part II” (B+)

This could have become a bit tedious if clones kept just killing clones, and I’m glad that, by all indications, that plotline has now been resolved and Sara made it back to the team. Bishop killing Sara as a response to her getting too agitated was a frustrating concept, and the idea that he could just regenerate any time he needed made him far too powerful, especially when he uploaded his consciousness to a digital platform that luckily they managed to fell and explode. The Ava clones proved to be quite useful, and even Gary did his part to help in the escape. Mick really has fallen hard for Kayla, and I hope that, even though I don’t need Bishop to stage an unexpected return, she’s out there somewhere and might find him again soon in her human form. Sara being part-alien is definitely an issue that will come up soon, but fortunately she is back home and that’s good enough for now. I like that the team tried to come up with a plan to save Sara from being abducted in the first place, one that got derailed quickly when an eyepatch-wearing Nate in Constantine’s coat came back from the future to tell them how horribly they had screwed up. Ava from that night realizing that they weren’t her legends and that they were up to no good was also very funny. It’s obviously an attitude that Sara also espouses, suggesting on that night that, if there had been an actual timeline problem, she’d just go back and fix it with her timeship later.

What I’m Watching: In Treatment

In Treatment: Season 4, Episode 18 “Colin – Week 5” (B+)

I’m glad that we still got to witness an impromptu session with Colin even if he didn’t have one scheduled, though the mere fact that each patient gets six weeks’ worth of episodes was a bit of a revealing spoiler. What was most interesting was how Brooke saw the invasion of privacy and his unwelcome visit as an opportunity to be completely blunt and honest with him, affirming her right to say whatever she wanted and to swear as frequently as possible. That was quite a pivot from the usual tactic she takes with him, but it also seemed to be very effective, enabling him to open up and relate to her on a different level. Their conversation meandered and included a few typical grandstanding, racist remarks from Colin, but their dynamic really improved and their final session is sure to be more productive than anything else they’ve done so far as a result. His drop-by didn’t have a positive effect on Brooke’s relationship with Adam, however, as his surprise led to him making a regrettable and judgmental statement that she explicitly warned him not to make. Fortunately or unfortunately, she was able to move on from that pretty quickly, and they seemed to be in a good place just moments later. Recovering speedily from an argument isn’t a problem, but the fact that it could escalate like that is a worrisome sign, something Rita would surely not be happy to hear about if Brooke deigns to tell her about it.

What I’m Watching: In Treatment

In Treatment: Season 4, Episode 17 “Eladio – Week 5” (B+)

It turns out that I completely misread and misunderstood what happened at the end of Eladio’s last session, though he did take some pretty gigantic and irreversible steps. It’s hard to believe that he just showed up in person at Brooke’s house because, unless they started or were supposed to start therapy before the pandemic, there’s no way that he should have known where she lived and that kind of surprise might have jolting and unwelcome for someone who operates an office out of her house. He evidently hadn’t been there before since he started walking around right away and commenting on how she was “sitting pretty” and he shouldn’t have been talking about class structures and all that. Brooke didn’t like being blamed for him quitting his job, and her continued clarifications that she wasn’t a life coach didn’t do anything to allay his frustration. Comparing the way a mother loves her son and the way a son loves his mother seemed to be getting somewhere even if they have different experiences, including the ones Eladio doesn’t know about related to Brooke’s complicated relationship with motherhood. I think this is actually the angriest that we’ve seen her get, snapping, screaming, and swearing at Eladio and, unlike, some of the questionable things we’ve seen her done, she seemed to realize right away that she had taken it too far and could no longer treat him. His willingness to come back for one more session paid for with his own money indicates that he needs some closure, something I’m not sure he – or we – will be able to get.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Round Two: Blindspotting

Blindspotting: Season 1, Episode 2 “Smashley Rose” (B+)

I like that this episode felt completely different from the first installment, and even though that might make for a difficult tonal adjustment and establishment of a coherent narrative, I’m all for it since it really is captivating. Presuming that Miles was only going to serve a month in jail was very poor preparation for the five years that he got, and both Ashley and Rainey seemed equally shell-shocked and devastated by that news. I wasn’t sure what Rafael Casal’s involvement in the show was going to be, and so I was glad to see him pop up a few times as a figment of Ashley’s imagination, commenting on what she goes through during the day at work and validating the notion that people don’t get to just talk to her like they apparently do. Having a man suggest that she come up to his room so that she could partake in a threesome was presumptuous and invasive but not nearly as much as the way his wife behaved when Ashley called her on assuming that she would know a drug dealer just because she was Black. Telling her to “know your place” was the last straw, and Ashley got to take out her anger in a way that would directly affect that woman, likely ending up with her paying high fees for all the damage that they allegedly caused. It’s good at least that her manager fully had her back, and that, back home, Rainey also took steps to make sure she was doing as much for her as possible in a tough situation.

Take Three: Kevin Can F**k Himself

Kevin Can F**k Himself: Season 1, Episode 3 “We’re Selling Washing Machines” (B)

I like the fact that Patty is now with Allison in the moody scenes of melancholy, even if her situation isn’t quite as miserable but still just as boring and unfulfilling. Her husband-to-be does notice her and want her to be happy, but he just doesn’t get that she’s not always into the same things and might be happier, for instance, not sneaking cheeseburgers in her car and having some input into what they do together. Allison calling the police on Marcus seemed like an impulsive and uncharacteristic move, and naturally it came back to haunt her because it meant that Patty’s supply got cut off, which has now necessitated a trip to Vermont that could actually be pretty therapeutic for her. I’m not sure what Sam was thinking inviting her to a meeting where his wife might show up, and Patty was right to point out that, not only is Sam married, she’s also married! It was interesting, however, to see how those scenes didn’t look so grim, and how Allison might be able to find happiness on her own if given enough space from her useless and selfish husband. His chili sounds terrible, and I’m actually starting to feel plenty of sympathy towards Neil because he generally means well even if he’s an incredible dolt and he’s constantly being taken advantage of by Kevin almost as much as he does with Allison. He’s not worthy of saving, of course, but he doesn’t deserve the same fate that may eventually befall Kevin.

What I’m Watching: Master of None (Season Finale)

Master of None: Season 3, Episode 5 “Moments in Love, Chapter 5” (B)

It’s hard to know whether this is going to be the series finale or if this show will return in some other form years from now, but for now, this is the last we’re going to see of it. I’m not sure why I expected some sort of satisfying finish that brought everything together and included more than a few sparse exchanges of dialogue, but the episodes leading up to this one were pretty informative in terms of content and structure. I do have a greater appreciation for the physical surroundings of the characters after speaking with production designer Amy Williams, so a return to a poorly-renovated cottage wasn’t a bad thing. But there wasn’t too much context about what’s going on in Denise and Alicia’s lives other than the little they said to each other, with them instead spending more time just being intimate and in each other’s company. Denise’s speech about feeling like a sheep while they were looking at the literal sheep on the farm was more about her than about the two of them, and the acknowledgment that they were in their old house trading stories about kids they have with other people started to bring things back to reality. The suggestion that they should just keep going until they got caught confirmed that they both knew that this couldn’t last, and that this “moment in love” didn’t necessarily apply to how their real lives look. It’s an interesting concept but not one that was as riveting as this show’s style and pacing tried to make it. The comedy-drama fusion present in the first two seasons often felt more poignant than this season’s hands-off approach, which wasn’t bad but at times felt a bit dry and lacking, especially compared to what came before it and despite a very strong performance from Naomi Ackie as Alicia.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Naomi Ackie as Alicia

What I'm Watching: Solos

Solos: Season 1, Episode 5 “Jenny” (C+)

Looking back at the first four episodes of this show, there was always someone else there, even if this was technically a solo performance. In the first two installments, it was other versions of the same character in the same body so that they could talk with themselves, and in the next, it was a sentient computer that could process what the human organism was doing. Here, it was just one person talking to the camera the entire time, and in the closing moments, when we did finally see other people, she was unconscious and unable to hear them or respond. It’s not a device that I thought worked all that well, though it did certainly progress in emotion over the course of her monologue. I never watched “Fresh Off the Boat” but I did see both “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Hustlers” and found Constance Wu to be strong in those roles. Here, I’m not sure she was set up all that well for success since she’s essentially just addressing the camera for twenty minutes straight, which again is not a model that even this show has employed before this. I understand the title, but having her talk nonstop without anyone to question or correct her didn’t feel terribly effective. There’s also something about knowing that she won’t be back again in any capacity that makes having her process this all on her own less emphatic. We as audience members don’t feel like a proper sounding board, and hopefully the final two episodes of this show’s first season will take a different approach.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

What I’m Watching: Trying

Trying: Season 2, Episode 6 “A Long Way Down” (B+)

There was something so hopeful about the construction project making it possible for Nikki and Jason to take both kids, and all those dreams were shattered when they realized that the residents of the impossibly fancy home they visited were the rival applicants who were likely going to adopt them instead. That did lead to some entertaining antics that were reminiscent of Nikki secretly paying someone to take Jason’s bike so that he wouldn’t be able to risk hurting himself anymore. I think my favorite part was the husband running out with a hammer and the two of them reacting, only to learn that he was just a contractor and it was perfectly logical that he would be shopping with the wife. Jason proved that he was just as bad as Nikki at playing it cool when he got discovered while on FaceTime with Nikki at the hardware store, and that was another entertaining moment. The fact that they ended up having to call Scott to help them out of the treehouse because they couldn’t reach anyone else couldn’t have happened at a worse time, but you have to wonder what Scott is thinking when he said that his writing and Karen are equally important to him and that she was getting “her wedding.” What he could possibly feel that she’s done to betray him when the only interest he expresses in her is to give her condescending book recommendations is a mystery. Freddy being told by his new girlfriend to eat more yogurt was a humorous catalyst for him to end up hooking up with Erica again, something that hardly seems like it will make everything that happened okay but is sure to have rocky and complicated consequences.

Take Three: Physical

Physical: Season 1, Episode 3 "Let's Get Down to Business" (B+)

It’s good to see Sheila try to take charge of her life and figure out how she can sustain the high that comes from the workout by teaching herself. It’s not too surprising to learn that the main reason she doesn’t have a lot of friends is that even those she thought she was close to felt taken advantage of by her in their relationship, like her old ballet teacher. Getting Greta to come to the class was something she didn’t seem happy about, and it’s probably a good thing that she’s going to invest the time and energy in coaching her personally, even if she’s not thrilled about it. Successfully overcoming the voice in her head while she was teaching was a great development, though finding out that her cut was much lower than she thought put a bit of a damper on it. Though he seemed at first like a supportive, encouraging husband, Danny is increasingly revealing himself to be the ultimate passive chauvinist, laughing off the idea that he as the candidate would be hitting the pavement when he fully expected her to and transforming his reachable signature goal into an astronomically higher one that he knew she’d put in the effort to help him achieve. Using their savings to hire a campaign manager felt like the last straw, though I don’t think Sheila is ready to take decisive action to make herself heard and seen just yet. That parting shot of Danny having to take care of their crying daughter spoke volumes, and he’s not going to respond well when Sheila does show up. I was glad to see more of Paul Sparks’ John Breem, and I’m curious to see what his involvement is going to be in all this.

Round Two: Physical

Physical: Season 1, Episode 2 “Let’s Get Political” (B+)

This show really does have a similar vibe to “On Becoming a God in Central Florida,” though I found this one interesting enough to continue past the first episode. Part of that is due to Rose Byrne’s performance, which is so grounded in misery and tethered to her self-loathing. Hearing the cruel voice inside her head can be jarring, but it explains who she is and why she’s so sure that she can’t be happy. Bunny seemed nice to her at first before accusing her of being a spy, and seizing the opportunity to blackmail them into paying her money to keep quiet got her angry enough to ban her from the class going forward. Fortunately, after a series of lackluster interactions, she realized how she could use everything to her advantage, most notably Tyler’s eagerness to have a real film job, one that could in turn get her back into the class that made her feel like she had a handle on things. I’m really not sure how I feel about Danny just yet, because he’s got some great ideas that he likes to share with his wife when he walks around naked, but he also completely doesn’t see her value. And she’s the one who managed to befriend Greta and plant the seeds of an endorsement there, even if Greta understood why it was that she was finally volunteering and alleged that she didn’t have any influence on her husband. I enjoyed the brief appearance by Lea DeLaria as Professor Mendelsohn, and my favorite line of the episode was Tyler’s insistence that he meant what he said.

Pilot Review: Physical

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.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

What I’m Watching: United States of Al

United States of Al: Season 1, Episode 11 “Dog/Spai” (B+)

I enjoyed the way in which Al indicated fear of the small dog that Riley brought in and then continued to stress that he had no interest in getting to know it. I’m not a dog person either, though I think I’m a bit more aware of the fact that other people are and that I’m the outlier in pretty much any situation. We got to see more of the mature Hazel still being a child as she came up with a name and then later found out that another kid was solely missing his dog. I loved the chance to see more of Vanessa and her very dim-witted but extremely endearing and very well-meaning boyfriend Freddy, who definitely does not understand what #metoo is all about and many other things. Al and Vanessa seeing eye-to-eye on their frustration with Riley was a fun form of bonding that evolves the relationship they started building early on in this show, and their banter was very funny, though not as much as Vanessa’s exchange with Riley: “You’re talking to a hero” / “I’m talking to an idiot.” Lizzie pointing out to Riley that Vanessa didn’t have an easy time with him away was a humorous and true-to-life spotlight of parenthood. After Art failed to teach Hazel about not adding anything to job after a contract starts, he did have a great time with Lois getting into hijinks, which was nice to see. I’m sure there’s sentiment related to Riley and Lizzie’s mother, but Lois seems like a great fit for him.

What I’m Watching: Intelligence (Season Premiere)

Intelligence: Season 2, Episode 1 (B+)

This was one of the low-key delights of last summer for me, an initial offering from Peacock that, while not always so excellent, was quite entertaining. I didn’t even realize that the second season had been filmed already, and that it’s premiering on Peacock very soon after it first airs on Sky One in the UK. I can appreciate that the setup here was a bit infantile, but I was laughing consistently and having a great time. I always have to remember that Nick Mohammed is the creator of the show, and so anytime Nate is made out to be so impossibly stupid, he’s not being taken advantage of but instead given great material. His comment about moles was among the highlights of the half-hour, but there were so many terrific one-liners that made Christine’s blood want to boil that it’s hard to decide which was actually the best. She got to have her fun at the end of the episode by deactivating everyone’s access cards and watching – with a snack handy – as they all got impossibly frustrated, including the very temperamental Jerry. The fact that he couldn’t remember the password and needed so many clues to be able to get there was absurd, but this whole team is never particularly full of good ideas. With this as an opener and expectations appropriately set, I’m eager to make my way through the second season and experience the idiocy that’s sure to follow as this hapless group somehow manages to defend its country against attacks from far more intelligent people.

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 11 “Absolute Zero” (B+)

It’s interesting to see how the two relationships that Greta is sort of trying to get going are imploding before they even begin, mostly because of her reluctance to do anything or to define them despite clear interest from both prospective partners. Inviting Lucia to come over for dinner after she pulled away when Lucia touched her hair seemed like a clear signal that she wanted to pursue that one, and it couldn’t have been worse timing for Riley to show up announced and end up being invited for dinner by the clueless Ana. It was certainly awkward that Riley showed up with flowers not for Greta but for Ana, and Lucia telling Riley that she didn’t know she was invited was a rather biting way of indicating her displeasure with her being there. The fact that the two of them have this shared secret is likely to ruin both relationships once Greta inevitably finds out, though again, Greta really is moving slowly, and Riley is allowing herself to become way too invested in this rival romance. Ending with the science experiment was a great way to convey Riley’s frustration, something that only built this episode after her would-be stepmom tried to encourage a friendship she has no interest in ever forming. Chester and Bo seemed to be headed in a good direction, even if the way the two of them interact with the world still doesn’t seem to be all that similar or compatible, but they’re still giving a shot for the moment.

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 10 “Built for Pleasure” (B+)

Watching this show makes me want to reach through the screen sometimes and shake these characters to make them see the clear opportunities for happiness that they’re missing. Riley was annoyed at Chester for trying to force her back together with Greta, and she was about to hold her hand in the backseat, which would have been a great example of taking things slow, but then she decided not to do it and that was it. I did enjoy the way that Greta responded to Lucia asking her if she could kiss her and that she followed that relatively friendly and well-received rejection with a request for a ride home. Her mom’s sudden return is likely to throw everything into chaos, and Riley is probably going to find out about her budding romance with the worst possible person right as she’s going through that. I was excited to recognize Isaiah Standard, who plays Ben on “Good Girls,” as the trans brother of Delilah’s new crush, and it’s good to see this show doing representative casting. Nathan seems to be fine with the reality of how Chester sees him, and he was more upset that Chester was angry at him for encouraging him to text Bo. I’m still not sure that I see them as a couple since I think I’m much more in favor of Chester and Nathan getting together, but who I am to tell these characters that all the romantic choices they’re making are wrong? It’s much more fun and frustrating to watch them realize it on their own.

Friday, June 18, 2021

What I’m Watching: Generation

Generation: Season 1, Episode 9 “Deepfake” (B+)

I’m so glad that this show returned so quickly for the back half of its first season since I was worried that, in this new age of tremendously delayed production delays and reversed renewals, we wouldn’t actually get to see more new episodes. I like that the same characters are still in focus but what they’re going through is a bit different, starting with Chester. He was so excited about and overinvested in hiss date with Bo, who was interested in completely different things and then went ahead and vomited while Chester was talking to him and after Chester made a big scene falling into vomit on the rink. When he finally got to the party and Nathan apologized for the voicemail, I thought he was going to say that he had never heard it, but instead he acknowledged right away that he did but that he didn’t feel that way about him. Why he thought it would be a good idea not only to accept Nathan’s request to pretend to be his boyfriend but to go as far as making out with him in front of his mom is a mystery, since there’s no way Nathan will be able to leave all that as just him being a friend. We did get to see a bit more of Riley’s mom, played by Alicia Coppola from “Jericho,” and how fractured their relationship is, explained in part by her father’s much younger girlfriend. Riley and Greta almost had a moment to talk but that’s obviously going to be far off, and Riley is doing her best to make waves with her schoolwork and ensure that she spends plenty of time with Sam now that Chester is no longer seeing him.

What I’m Watching: Why Women Kill

Why Women Kill: Season 2, Episode 4 “Scene of the Crime” (B+)

I guess I just hadn’t noticed before this that Jack Davenport, who previously played Carl, is the new narrator, and I think that’s great. I do enjoy the adages this show incorporates like “good news never comes before nine” and the entire choreography of this episode, which found Alma and Bertram frantically running back and forth between their home and Mrs. Yost’s, first to steal all of her nice things and then to distract the police who came looking for thanks to the set of additional footprints they found at the scene of her abandoned car. The surprise inspection went pretty well aside from Rita taking pleasure in humiliating Alma following her Paris slip-up, and, by the end of it all, they might have been good partners for each other, if not for Rita noticing the woman walking into the house who just happened to be the same one who had been sleeping with Scooter. It’s a bad time for revenge given how happy Dee and Vern seem to be and that he managed to survive a knife attack from a vindictive target that revealed the injury that had ended a previous relationship of his and didn’t bother Dee at all. Scooter also has his own plan to get even after Rita took all of his belongings and his towel, leaving him literally naked in the street, and whatever he’s cooking up with Catherine likely won’t end up benefiting Rita in the end at all, making this interwoven mess all the more intriguing and enticing.

Round Two: Loki

Loki: Season 1, Episode 2 “The Variant” (B+)

This was a great follow-up to the first episode, launching right into the action and continuing to build the Loki-Mobius dynamic, which is a lot of fun. It’s obviously both satisfying and frustrating to get little teases of the relationships that already exist between characters, like Ravonna’s irritation at Mobius having made all of the glass rings on her table but still considering him to be a close friend. Loki’s efforts to research the history of the TVA didn’t get him too far, but his subversive attempts actually led him to the right information, which he enthusiastically demonstrated to Mobius when they went back to Pompeii and he made a big fuss just to prove that he was putting out zero variant energy. I’m not sure I follow all of the logic here, but I’m not too concerned since everyone seems to be paying attention to it and making as much sense of it as they can. Finding the variant’s hiding place took them to a dark future, one where Loki ended up alone with what he thought was his other self, only to learn that it was actually a woman with a crown who’s likely Asgardian but whose origins I don’t want to research for fear of learning too much about the mythology that could spoil what’s going to happen over the next few episodes. That’s the downside of watching all this Marvel fare – it’s too hard to fully know what’s going on without risking an overload of info that won’t make what’s to come as fun or surprising to watch.

What I’m Watching: The Handmaid’s Tale (Season Finale)

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4, Episode 10 “The Wilderness” (B+)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this finale, but I will say that it didn’t go where I expected. I had this idea, and sort of still hope, that June would lead an organized resistance and go behind enemy lines to blow up Gilead targets and rescue children from their captivity. That might still happen, but at the moment June is more about biblical revenge, responding to what was done to her in kind. She could have gone to Geneva and tried to appeal to the ICC in person, but instead she took a more subversive approach, meeting the eternally sardonic Joseph in an abandoned diner and getting him to propose a trade to Mark of twenty-two women for Fred. That would have been punishment enough, sending him back into the lion’s den where he wouldn’t receive a hero’s welcome, but, thanks to the apparently open lines of communication, June had Nick there to do her a favor, bringing Fred into the woods so that she could properly terrify him before beating him to death with the help of a number of other women and former handmaids led by Emily. That was a brutal moment but one that was also sort of cathartic, not that Fred represents the extent of the evil that exists in Gilead but that he must pay for what he did. We didn’t get to see how Serena reacts to the news that he isn’t coming back and what becomes of her, but I’m very intrigued to see where season five goes after this. I think it will be a fresh start of sorts, and I’m all for a new approach that involves June coordinating whatever it is she’s going to be planning from Canada while Gilead struggles to remain afloat. Overall, I found this season to be poignant and powerful, and I’m glad that it will be back for another iteration.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Elisabeth Moss

Thursday, June 17, 2021

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 1, Episode 10 “O Mother, Where Art Thou?” (B+)

Well, apparently the term brother wasn’t meant to just reference a general closeness but instead to mean that Edge is actually Kal-El’s half-brother, son of the same mother that we got to meet via Lana in this episode. It’s understandable that he doesn’t feel the same warmth towards humanity given the angry reception he got when he landed on Earth, but he seems far too intelligent to have not gathered through all of his time building his master plan that some aren’t worth saving. That tends to be the nature of supervillains, however, and he’s certainly among the more cunning masterminds who’s really thought through what it is that he wants to achieve. Fortunately, the good guys had a plan, and Lana was ready to offer herself up as a willing host for Superman’s mother, who was able to reverse the process and then set Edge back to square one, even if he seems a bit too confident that he can still do what he planned even without his army of possessed hosts. Jonathan and Jordan read Sarah into what was going on in a way that Sam didn’t like, and felt guilty enough about misjudging her dad for what she thought was his latest lapse that she was happy to see him when he returned as himself. I’m still eager for the time that I hope will come when Lana will finally find out that her best friend Clark is Superman, something that will surely shock her and I imagine will, as tends to be the case, come to light in exactly the wrong way.

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 7, Episode 13 “Masquerade” (B-)

You’d think that Team Flash would be a bit more careful than to just leave powerful weapons like the Thinker’s chair lying around in the basement, but apparently it’s also a place where married lovebirds go during the workday when they’re looking for a little privacy. I guess they also don’t usually have intruders in their midst, but that has been happening with alarming frequency lately with potential allies turning out to be enemies and then vice versa. I had forgotten to mention in my review of the previous episode that Cecile was apparently trapped in a prison inside her own mind reminiscent of the Mirrorverse, and I’m glad that the entire plotline was quickly resolved over the course of just this hour. It was good to see Sue again, and I like that she was able to return without Ralph, a role that probably doesn’t need to be recast since he could just be indefinitely away, likely a better choice. Inviting everyone back to her hotel suggests that she might stick around for longer, and I’m all for that since this revolving door of team members could use a skilled thief who takes delight in all of their missions. There hasn’t been much about Kramer recently, but it’s looking like she may be the next big bad, which is actually somewhat enticing given that, at least as far we know, she’s not a meta and doesn’t have powers, and she’ll likely come at them with an entirely different approach.

Pilot Review: The Republic of Sarah

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: In Treatment

In Treatment: Season 4, Episode 16 “Brooke – Week 4” (B-)

While the first three installments focused on Brooke were indeed compelling, I’ve been wondering why it is that there’s an episode each week reserved for her when she doesn’t actually have an appointment. It would help provide some structure for the episodes and for her to be able to talk about her feelings in an organized way like she provides for her patients, though Rita is essentially serving that function, even if she’s going a bit above and beyond what a typical therapist might do in terms of taking physical action. Brooke didn’t seem at all cooperative when she showed up in the middle of the night and forced her to get back, but again Rita reminded me that this was something that she had specifically asked for, presumably knowing that Rita would be the only one able to convince her to get up and just do it. Their conversation took a predictable turn as they discussed the idea of Brooke having a baby and Adam’s reaction to it, and I’m not sure that they’re really making any progress on being on the same page about that, both Brooke and Adam as a couple and Brooke and Rita as friends trying to be supportive of each other’s life choices. That the scene always transitions to Brooke drinking freely with Adam is an indicator that she firmly believes she has her drinking problem under control and isn’t about to be told by anyone that she needs to take a serious look at her problematic tendencies.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

What I’m Watching: In Treatment

In Treatment: Season 4, Episode 15 “Laila – Week 4” (B+)

We got another brief tease of Paul at the start of this episode with Brooke hearing him about to be interviewed on TV and then finally returning his call, and I do continue to be curious about whether one of Brooke’s final three sessions will involve either a face-to-face or a video call with him. Regarding her own patients, Brooke seems to be getting more confrontational, calling them out on when, as they keep doing, they try to tell her what she’s thinking or prompting them to say. She did point out that Laila stopped to pick apart her words when she asked her something that she didn’t want to talk apart, and Laila also tried to deflect by guessing what kind of car Brooke drives, yet another attempt to make it about what she does in her life. She did have broad answers to her specific questions, like how it wasn’t about physical bodies but about souls, going so far as to try to sell Brooke her handbag because she was ridding herself of her earthly possessions. The most telling response she gave was when she Brooke thanked her for telling her that she was really starting to piss her off, clueing her in to how Laila has been scolded and punished for talking back to adults in the past. Ending with Brooke calmly replying once again “thank you for telling me that” to Laila saying she would rather die was emphatic, and I can’t imagine that the next two sessions will be any less intense.

What I’m Watching: Black Monday

Black Monday: Season 3, Episode 4 “Seven!” (B)

It’s hard to keep track of what people are actually doing or trying to do, and whether they’re running scams or closer to accomplishing their true aims than we know. Mo and Dawn, for instance, were having a blast trying to one-up each other when Mo was in the wheelchair but made it seem that he was youthful and it was Dawn who was both old and unable to walk, but when it all got exposed, Dawn went to bat for Mo and defended his every action, arguing that it proved his loyalty to her. I’m honestly not sure if that’s the case at all, but we’ve known both Dawn and especially Mo to play the long game in the past, and I can’t imagine all that much has changed. The character who really has to explore what path is right for him is Blair, and he didn’t have much reason to appeal to Corky other than to feel a connection with the late lover that they’d both shared, something that this RNC babysitter Werner probably wouldn’t want to dwell too much on unless he was using it to force Blair’s hand. As usual, the slippery Keith lost out in all this, creating a massive TV event with plenty of sponsorship to keep the company afloat only to have equipment fall right on someone as he was taking the stage and presumably crush him to death. For an admittedly dark comedy series, this show has an awfully high body count, even if the series regulars manage to keep surviving despite frighteningly frequent proximity to death.

What I’m Watching: Legends of Tomorrow

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 6, Episode 6 “Bishop's Gambit” (B-)

It’s reassuring to know that this show has already been renewed for a seventh season since I’m not terribly enticed by the notion of spending the final year of any given show with the lead character missing (see: “Supergirl”). At least they’re making some progress back on Earth as they found Amelia Earhart and discovered that she’s not quite human anymore, but it was Sara who, in her latest attempt to kill Bishop and not play the long game of tricking him into thinking that she was no longer out to get him, made the most disturbing discovery about who she really is. I suspect that he might be messing with her mind, but if she’s a clone, it’s not actually that crazy given that Ava is too. I think it’s likeliest that Sara will be able to engineer her escape with the help of the Ava clones that she and Gary can compel to join forces with them, and they might also have some assistance of a gruffer form from Mick and Kayla if they can get serious. I would like to see everyone pick up the pace just a bit more and stop worrying about all these temporary distractions, especially considering they’re all in the same place. It was startling to see Constantine in an outfit other than his signature shirt and undone tie, but I guess that’s a sign that he’s growing weary of having so much company for so long. Let’s get the Wave Rider back and get this shop back on the road!

What I’m Watching: In Treatment

In Treatment: Season 4, Episode 14 “Colin – Week 4” (B+)

It was weird not to have any mention of Eladio in this episode since either nothing drastic actually happened or Brooke just hasn’t heard about it yet, but I was too distracted by the ferocity of this encounter to even remember that until the episode ended. John Benjamin Hickey’s performance really is spectacular, and he makes Colin seem so forthright and honest when that couldn’t be further from the case. Standing outside waiting anxiously to see if Hannah would show up did feel sincere, but that important detail that he left out about having gotten a vasectomy before they spent so long trying to get pregnant reframed everything drastically. Brooke was annoyed again that he insinuated what she thought about a given topic, but he also hit harder by suggesting that she had made up back pain to engineer them switching seats so that he could feel like he had more power in the conversation. Like Brooke, we’ve spent four weeks with him now and it’s as if we don’t actually know him at all, other than that he’s willing to do or say anything in order to achieve his desired outcome. Brooke wasn’t anything but appropriately harsh when she cut him off and said their time was done, and her “goodbye” was particularly blunt, and it wasn’t a surprise that he didn’t like that. There are two more episodes with Colin’s name on it, and so I’m very curious to see what those will look like given that his sessions are done and Brooke is even more done with him.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

What I’m Watching: In Treatment

In Treatment: Season 4, Episode 13 “Eladio – Week 4” (B+)

The Brooke we saw at the start of this episode was considerably different than the one who was acting very defensive against Rita during the previous installment, dressed nicely and ready with her coffee to sit down and talk to Eladio. She handled his pointing out that she was missing an earring gracefully, but their session took a nosedive as soon as she told him that she made an assessment and wanted to refer him to a psychiatrist who was going to have to start from scratch. Having him hang up was truly jarring, but it did mimic the notion of cutting off the conversation and retreating from a difficult concept. It was even most startling that Adam just wandered out of the bedroom because he had forgotten her appointment, something that suggests she doesn’t have the right boundaries in place between her personal and work life since she could very easily have been either on a video session with someone or with a client there in person. They got to their own awkward point when Adam suggested having a baby and then pointed out that her son was more an idea than he was real, and her decision to answer Eladio’s call did not sit well with him. Eladio was ready to talk and confront parts of his identity that he was now being told weren’t necessarily accurate, but taking off all his clothes and jumping into the pool doesn’t indicate a positive ending for him, something that, even if he survives, is sure to absolutely devastate Brooke.

Round Two: Kevin Can F**k Himself

Kevin Can F**k Himself: Season 1, Episode 2 “New Tricks” (B)

This was a similarly moody follow-up to the first episode, one that repeatedly made me want to reach through the screen and tell Allison how she deserved so much better than having to endure such demeaning harassment and soul-crushing judgment from everyone in her life. There were multiple moments where it seemed like she might have an ally, but her husband’s presence seemed to follow her everywhere, like in the doctor’s office that felt like it was straight out of the 1950s with the doctor offering to call her husband and at work when she wanted to confess that she had stolen the hoodie only to be called out for not trying hard enough for her husband. Kevin is so unbearably selfish that it’s hard to take him seriously, but I don’t doubt that there are less comic versions of this dynamic in many households. Even Patty wasn’t sympathetic to what Allison actually wanted, though I’m excited and intrigued by the fact that she’s leading a secret life that could explain why she’s able to make it through each day, and I’m hopeful that Allison discovering that will enable her a bit more happiness. Fantasizing about ways to kill her husband isn’t doing the trick, and she’s really great at accidentally hurting people and making enemies who could just as easily have been her friends before she gave them a bloody nose. This show leaves a strange taste, and while I’m still curious, it’s definitely not an easy or comforting watch.