Tuesday, May 31, 2022

What I’m Watching: Conversations with Friends

Conversations with Friends: Season 1, Episode 5 (B+)

Everyone seems to have complicated opinions about the reasons people have affairs, with Nick describing that he used to be happy and therefore wasn’t tempted and Bobbi suggesting that she wouldn’t be upset if someone was in love with someone else if they were in love with her too. Melissa asked Frances quite directly if there was anything she should know about Nick and she passed up the opportunity to share, and Frances did express later to Nick that she wasn’t sure what she was doing in the middle of a situation where both of them had told her that they loved the other within the span of a day. It was interesting to hear Frances’ response to being referred to as there to defuse tension, and that’s definitely not what they were doing when both Bobbi and Frances reacted separately to the thoughtless and crude comments Valerie made. Melissa was more comfortable stopping Bobbi from pursuing her line of questioning about ethnic cleansing than with Frances, who she had to explain the importance of her relationship to in order to make her point. Nick’s visit to Frances’ room felt like it would have turned into a breakup, but instead they fell asleep and Bobbi did come in without knocking. Nick seemed thrown by it because he figured she would tell Melissa, but I imagine it’s going to have a greater impact on Frances and Bobbi’s friendship since she had multiple opportunities to tell her about it and chose instead to keep lying.

What I’m Watching: Conversations with Friends

Conversations with Friends: Season 1, Episode 4 (B+)

Watching so many different shows, it’s sometimes hard to remember what each one is supposed to deliver. I keep expecting that Nick and Frances are going to get caught somewhere, especially since they’re falling asleep naked in bed in a shared space where Melissa or Bobbi could easily find them. But instead we got a serious conversation about how maybe love does have to be conditional and Nick showing up to her room after they texted so they could spend the night together. As Bobbi continues to make light of Frances’ crush and tease her, she’s not reacting well to Frances trying to pull away, suggesting that she wants to stay back and then telling Bobbi later that she should have just come with her. I was intrigued to see a brief exchange between Frances and Melissa, and I think it will be interesting to see if they’re able to find common ground and some way to connect that Bobbi won’t bother to try to investigate with Nick, who she still finds boring and not worthy of her time. Pushing a game where you have to kiss the person next to you didn’t land well with either Frances or Nick, and I’d love to see the other side of this from the perspective of both Bobbi and Melissa, and to see if part of the reason that they’re not noticing that something is going on in because they’re already engaged in their own romance that goes beyond just that kiss that Bobbi mentioned.

Take Three: Conversations with Friends

Conversations with Friends: Season 1, Episode 3 (B+)

It’s helpful when characters are direct with each other, though we’re only seeing brief in-person encounters and more texting between Frances and Nick. Frances was upfront that she didn’t want to be a homewrecker, and Nick assuaged her concerns by responding that his marriage had survived affairs but that he had never been a part of them. Their time spent together was very intimate, and Frances shared freely that Nick was the first man she had been with and that her whole romantic history was Bobbi. This romance is putting a strain on Frances’ friendship with Bobbi, mainly because Bobbi continues to insult Nick and thinks that any feelings she might have for him amount to nothing more than a crush that could be easily dismissed. Frances is of course partially to blame since she refuses to be honest with Bobbi about what she’s doing and feeling when Bobbi can’t stop talking about Melissa. Bobbi responded harshly to Frances not speaking to her, calling her homophobic and accusing her of devaluing their friendship. While they did make up, Frances was less certain about the future of her other relationship, asking Nick directly whether they were still having an affair or if it was over. Nick admitted his nervousness and also seemed to feel more comfortable talking on the phone than texting, and we’ll see how things go when the foursome is together again in close quarters in Croatia, where their affair might seem perfectly acceptable if Bobbi and Melissa act on their feelings for each other.

Round Two: Conversations with Friends

Conversations with Friends: Season 1, Episode 2 (B+)

It’s interesting to compare this show with “Normal People” since there are four distinct protagonists here whereas there were only two there, and there’s far more opportunity for romantic crossover among them, even if I have a feeling that Nick and Bobbi won’t end up together at any point. There was a real simplicity to how Frances and Nick shared their first kiss, starting with the potentially platonic placement of a cold beer on her red face that moved down very quickly after that. Seeing her return home to see both of her parents provided some insight into her history, but she wasn’t very open with them, irritating her mom by using her phone but not interested in sharing anything real. She did mention that she kissed someone to Philip but declined to offer any more information. Bobbi, on the other hand, was far more forthcoming with her, asking her if something was wrong before telling her that she kissed Melissa. We’ve already seen how Bobbi dominates the space that she and Frances are in, and her obsession with Melissa has blinded her from the fact that Frances and Nick could be in to each other. This would actually work out nicely if the married spouses were honest with each other, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon. The way that Bobbi and Frances interact continues to be fascinating, with the standout moment of this episode being when Bobbi told Frances that her face did look shiny, but in a good way that made her seem less complicated.

Pilot Review: Conversations with Friends

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.

Pilot Review: The Time Traveler's Wife

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

Monday, May 30, 2022

Pilot Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

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 2, Episode 3 “PTSD” (B+)

Watching this show is definitely not a relaxing experience. It’s interesting to see Marjan tackle her Faraz problem in a very direct and dangerous manner, going in to serve as Nahid’s therapist while she was well aware that he was going to break into her office. She spun that situation very well, and now she’s managed to earn his trust, which is a difficult thing that’s going to give her a tremendous advantage in trying to undermine him and help Tamar accomplish her mission. That’s going to be even more challenging considering Milad’s behavior, which is getting increasingly reckless and likely to get him noticed. Part of the reason for that is that Tamar isn’t fully letting him in on what she’s doing, which makes sense given the way he’s reacting. There’s something fascinating about the idea of operating in plain sight, not trying to be stealthy or under the radar but instead just to behave in a way that doesn’t seem suspicious because it’s not trying to hide anything. We’re less than halfway through the season though, so it’s unlikely that Ali, who always seems to be just one step from figuring out what’s going on, will be fully onto them, but it’s definitely not a good sign. Babak’s body being discovered is going to bring much more attention to them, and the question just remains whether Vahid is going to be distracted by Tamar’s presence enough not to pay attention to the concerning series of events happening around him.

Pilot Review: The Essex Serpent

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: Candy (Series Finale)

Candy: Season 1, Episode 5 “The Fight” (B)

I’ve been feeling this way a lot lately with limited series based on true stories, that the first few episodes are riveting and involving, and then the final installment just sort of peters out without the same intensity and intrigue. I also hadn’t done any research about this case in real life and had assumed that Candy had been convicted for the murder and would still be serving time in jail, but this is yet another unsolved mystery where there are many theories about what really happened with just one living person actually aware of the truth. It’s also a fascinating aspect of the legal system, that even Candy’s lawyers admitted that she did it, but because they were arguing self-defense, that constituted innocence. Betty standing up in the courtroom and exclaiming “That’s it?” was a fitting depiction of the general response to the case, one that was highly sensational and involved an extraordinary degree of violence, whether or not that was sparked by Betty as the aggressor. Candy’s nonchalance after she had admitted to killing Betty was the most unsettling part, serving snacks to her lawyer and friends as if things were normal. The idea that Candy has now relocated, changed her name, and is working as a mental health counselor is not comforting, since you’d think that anyone who bludgeons another person to death may not be in the best position to advise others on how to work through their own complex emotions and sentiments. But, understanding now the true story and what remains a question mark, I think this series did a solid job of bringing it to life and dwelling in the perplexing ambiguity.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Jessica Biel as Candy

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 2, Episode 17 “Family Matters” (C)

It’s always startling to me when, on TV or in movies, someone shoots another person while standing right next to them and then somehow manages to miss. Now this is a show where someone got shot in the head and managed to survive enough to have apparently been faking a brain injury, so the notion that Richard would shoot Jag and he would make a full and rather immediate recovery is hardly a surprise at this point. What makes much less sense is Veer’s decision to go that route, to selfishly save himself and get his son out of the way at the same time when Richard was ready to execute him, particularly because Ren is the child he should be more worried about since she’s ready to take him down. That Ren has known Travis was a cop all this time speaks to her recklessness and her willingness to do whatever it takes to stay in power, something that Jenny isn’t likely to allow. This show has never been good at staying focused on one storyline, and so now we have Scarlet back in the mix, suddenly so spooked about the syndicate being on her tail that she was ready to call Cassie to simultaneously ask her for help and taunt her. The news of a new acting sheriff being brought in coincides with the announcement of the casting of that role, and I do wonder whether the syndicate will come back into focus in season three or if the Bhullar will survive the finale and endure in Montana.

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 3, Episode 9 “Rich Wigga, Poor Wigga” (B)

I want to be able to form my own interpretations of these episodes without having to look up and read up on anything that I may have missed, but I do feel that there’s added meaning for those with understanding of something I may not know. This felt to me a lot like the reparations episode from earlier this season, portraying the fears of white people that anything resembling justice for Black people automatically means that they will suffer as a result. Having a wealthy Black man named Robert S. Lee address the graduating class of Stonewall Jackson High School and announce that he was changing its name to his own, who was also a Confederate general, was deeply ironic, but the more potent part of it was the way that he offered to pay every senior’s college tuition, adding after that “only if they’re Black.” The tribunal interrogating the candidates and calling Aaron Clarence Thomas felt extremely dramatic and, again, like a visualization of what white fragility conjures up when it imagines some form of true equality. Having two teenagers, one Black and one white, show up to torch the school led to two very different results, and apparently getting shot was the Blackest thing he could have done, resulting in a reversal of the tribunal’s ruling. Aaron getting out of jail and embracing his Blackness was played for comedy at the end, presenting an unsettling and off-putting commentary on the nature of identity and when we choose to embrace it.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

What I’m Watching: United States of Al (Penultimate Episode)

United States of Al: Season 2, Episode 21 “Desire / Khwast” (B+)

It’s sad to know that this show has just one episode left, but at least others were well aware of that just a day before this episode aired, not that it means we’ll get any kind of closure since that wasn’t know when these installments were being filmed. I like that, after finding out that Al was falling behind on his schoolwork because he was distracted by Cindy, Art’s move was to threaten to call his mom so that she could shame him into getting back in shape. It was funny that Lois didn’t see right away that it was Al who had sent her the message that resulted in her coming over to keep Art distracted, and I also liked that Riley left to start driving without knowing where Cindy lived. Holly was about as giving as she could be under the circumstances when she spit on the piece of paper with Cindy’s address in it. I enjoyed Cindy’s belief that Riley had brought two undercover cops with him, and that she was the one who cut Al off when she realized that he was devoting all his time to her. Stopping by Brett’s office to encourage him to get grading right away was a humorous ending, and I wonder if we’ll see more of the different couples in the show’s now-final episode. As Vanessa refused to take Riley’s desire to stop sneaking around seriously, she dropped an unfortunate bombshell on him, one that underlines her lack of commitment to a reconciliation that now seems just as unlikely as ever.

What I’m Watching: Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven: Season 1, Episode 4 “Church and State” (B+)

It’s always jarring to see fundamentalists or extremists of any nature run for political office, since they have to inherently abide by certain rules and laws during their campaigns that they then plan to overturn if they are in fact elected. Dan saw how those who didn’t want him to be in power reacted when he was pulled over by the sheriff and almost physically pulled out of the car, and he went on about the tyrants when he was finally cornered after a lengthy chase. Both Ammon and Ron disapproved of what Dan was doing, and while Ammon was cruel in the way he spoke down to his son, it was Ron who, through physical force and subtler intimidation, was able to get through to his brother. The role of polygamy in Mormonism had a central showcase here, as Emma Smith expressed extraordinary displeasure at the idea of her husband coming up with a new tenet that would make her less significant, and his response that he as praying for heavenly father to destroy her if she didn’t obey his commandment made the situation even worse. This is a draining case for Pyre, who understands full well the implications of his refusing to rule out fundamentalist Mormonism during the press conference and saw the reach of the church when he was asked to release murder suspects into a priest’s custody, a move that would be very unlikely to lead to any form of justice or accountability for the Lafferty family.

Round Two: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: Season 1, Episode 2 “Children of the Comet” (B+)

I was thirteen years old when “Star Trek: Enterprise” first premiered, and I remember watching that show as a bridge between the future of the existing Trek universe and modern society, where the notion of seatbelts on starships was brought up because technology was still at a certain point that made more sense to what we know in the real world. While this show does feel sleeker in its depiction of its characters and their exploits, it’s a similar idea, where Pike is still a casual, relatable commander who appreciates the fact that Uhura was tricked into showing up in dress uniform and is all for very down-to-earth (in space, of course) conversations. I appreciated Spock’s contribution to the conversation, that he had never understood the human inclination to laugh at other people’s misfortune. Uhura, who may not be sure that she wants to be on the Enterprise long-term, is quite impressive, fluent in thirty-seven languages because they had twenty-two in Kenya. Moving the comet was a remarkable undertaking, and the notion that there were shepherds who venerated the comet, whose course they believed was preordained, was an interesting take that I feel like Star Trek shows often offer. Alien races that don’t have the same form of language are intriguing, and, as usual, Pike found a creative way to not provoke a war with them while still saving the people who would have died on the planet, only to discover that the comet’s course may have been preordained after all.

What I’m Watching: The Staircase

The Staircase: Season 1, Episode 4 “Common Sense” (B+)

It’s interesting to see how this show is structured, with the film crew very much a part of the story, and Juliette Binoche now introduced as someone with her own perspective who apparently believes strongly that Michael is innocent. His desire for people not to remember twenty-five years ago is hardly the best defense, and his desire to testify made sense given how much he wants to yell at everyone that he didn’t do this, but it surely wouldn’t play well with a jury that would see him how this has portrayed him, which is someone whose arrogance makes sympathy more difficult. We saw yet another depiction of what might have happened, with Kathleen confronting Michael about the gay porn on his computer and telling him that she wished it could have been something they shared together, and ending the way we knew it would with Michael very much at fault. His sentencing of life without parole befits that crime if it indeed did play out like that, and what was most jarring to me is how he was left alone in the hallway, seemingly free to run and not treated like the convicted criminal that he now is. His having been injured but not in the war brings up more questions, and it’s starting to divide his family even more. Clayton’s relationship with Kathleen was obviously very complicated, but he’s the one who seems most interested in defending her now that she’s no longer there, finding the blow poke and bringing its existence to his siblings.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Offer

The Offer: Season 1, Episode 5 “Kiss the Ring” (B+)

As if there wasn’t already enough going against this production, now things are finally getting underway and there are a considerable number of new obstacles popping up. We got to meet, among others, Eric Balfour’s production designer Dean Tavoularis, who had to deal with the suddenly missing permits and other outrageous hurdles and demands. Ruddy was particularly displeased with the idea of having a working kitchen that cost $75,000, and Francis agreed very quickly to Bludhorn’s financing offer that leaves them very much on the hook if the film doesn’t make back its money. More problematically, Joe found a way to make peace with Biaggi and to make it abundantly clear that Italian-Americans support the making of this film, with an unexpected footnote about the proceeds from the film’s premiere that is going to squeeze Ruddy into an even tighter inescapable spot. Getting into business with the FBI wouldn’t be a smart move for him, and it’s a good thing that Bettye discovered the multiple people on the payroll with the same social security number so that she can get ahead of it. For all the trouble that came up, we did get to see a preview of how the product is going to be spectacular. Francis could barely contain his excitement during the Corleone family dinner, and now Pacino is fully on board, which took plenty of convincing but is obviously going to work out well for his career. Bob’s enthusiasm and role keeps changing, and he’s also dealing with his own issues at home with his inability to focus on and appropriately support Ali.

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 2, Episode 6 “Alice? Are You Listening?” (B+)

It’s difficult to know what to make of the previous episode’s ending, especially since we did meet a woman who looks quite a bit like Hazel, Alice, played by Oona Chaplin. That the sight of a phone made her freak out was confirmation enough that she would be paranoid about technology, likely because of her experience with Byron and his surveillance of her, with or without an implanted chip. The idiots at the FBI did manage to discover some skulls and get promoted, so it’s possible that Aaron does harbor ill will towards his brother and his unexplained knowledge of the FBI tracker Hazel had was just a convenient method for him to be able to take him down. But it’s not as if it’s the Hazel and Byron we know who are even in charge of their bodies at the moment, which makes things much more complicated. Watching “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” with Herbert was perhaps a bit too on the nose, and he believes that he’s managed to get his daughter back when the person that he’s talking to is actually just a clone who may or may not resemble the real Hazel all that much. Hazel and Herbert’s conversations with Hazel’s late mother on the phone was a trippy experience, especially because it was so rooted in customer service that she had them rate the call at the end, which made it feel both inauthentic and very authentic at the same time. Bennett’s reaction to the new couple was entertaining since he just didn’t know what to do with them, and maybe their newfound gratitude and mutual love will be productive. We’re still seeing snippets of Herringbone and Fiffany with that truly odd story about her twin sister Bessica, and Judiff’s hapless accomplices are actually getting her somewhere even if they’re not doing a great job of staying under the radar.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 2, Episode 5 “You’re Not the First” (B+)

It felt too easy that Byron would just give in to Hazel’s desire to spend some time in the real world and see where he grew up in Montana. Aaron was predictably combative, explaining how Byron turned into the person he was, but unfortunately what Hazel didn’t see coming was that Aaron, who pretended to be concerned about her by letting her know that she wasn’t the first, was actually working to protect his brother’s best interests. Now the FBI isn’t going to have any idea where to look for the Hub, though Hazel may continue to step up her game in trying to exact control over him like she did in his childhood bedroom. Hazel’s bigger obstacle is going to be Other Hazel, who managed to get through to Herbert and convince him that Byron had replaced the her he knew so that she was able to download into Dr. Hau’s body. That process was entertaining to watch but ultimately it’s a very worrisome development, and Judiff’s intense search for Herbert may help Other Hazel break out of the Hub and get into the real real world. It’s also interesting to watch what’s going on with Fiffany and Herringbone as they continue to go deeper into their memories, while Jasper is starting to dream about Zelda in an unusual manner. I enjoyed Paula Abdul’s AI hologram Anydoors trying to help him deal with his awoken state, a small but humorous element of the invented digital world of this show.

What I’m Watching: Hacks

Hacks: Season 2, Episode 2 “Quid Pro Quo” (B+)

It was always going to be a dramatic and unfortunate scene when Deborah found out about Ava’s email, and the fact that Ava confessed to her before she heard about it in another way didn’t help with that in any way. Her initial reaction was quite violent and typically unforgiving, telling her that she wouldn’t be hitting her if she could run faster. Forcing her to read the entire e-mail at the diner was a fitting punishment, one that showed Ava just how terrible and unkind what she had written was, and I think we all knew that wasn’t going to be it. Showing up the next morning to pick her up with coffee that wasn’t poisoned made it seem like it was all done, but instead Deborah is going to forgive her but teach her an important lesson by suing her for violating her NDA. That should only make Jimmy’s job harder since theoretically they might still be working together while they’re in litigation. I did enjoy seeing Ming-Na Wen from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “The Book of Boba Fett” as Janet, who was happy to help Jimmy until he accidentally revealed that he was a prospective buyer who killed their sale due to the black mold. That he had to have Kayla back on his desk in order to make it go away was unfortunate, especially since Ava told Deborah anyway and now he still has to attend a fifty-two-week anger management course. Barbara's story about (not) dressing up at the Halloween party was hilarious, and I’m so glad that Martha Kelly is part of this show now.

What I’m Watching: Hacks (Season Premiere)

Hacks: Season 2, Episode 1 “There Will Be Blood” (B+)

I’m so happy that one of last year’s best new comedies is back again so soon, and this opener indicates that we’re in for a very entertaining ride. Ava did somehow manage to make things worse when she called Kirby Howell-Baptiste’s writer and she kindly offered to hang up the phone so she would stop sharing information that was just as damaging as everything she had put in her email that she so idiotically closed by signing away her permission to use it. Jimmy’s suggestion that she throw her phone in the ocean wasn’t a bad one, though he’s also having to get creative giving the fact that the HR administrator played by a hilariously deadpan Martha Kelly isn’t able to punish Kayla for the truly shocking things she continues saying that most definitely continue sexual harassment in the workplace. I like that the relationship between Deborah and DJ is evolving, and that Deborah even warmed to the idea of liking her son-in-law. Walking over to pump him up right before he was about to lose was a cool moment turned into a frightening one when she ended up covered in blood and cheering for his upset victory. Ava is right to be worried about what she might do, even if shooting a paintball gun at her replacement’s giant hotel-side ad isn’t the most terrifying thing. It’s too bad that Marcus and Wilson are no more, and hopefully Marcus won’t wallow too much in his sadness before finding someone else.

Monday, May 16, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Flight Attendant

The Flight Attendant: Season 2, Episode 6 “Brothers and Sisters” (B+)

This was a powerhouse episode for Kaley Cuoco, though it’s sometimes difficult – and confusing – to remember that this show competes as a comedy series at awards shows. She did excellent dramatic work in this hour, confessing to Annie that she drank numerous times throughout the year, confronting her other selves in her increasingly terrifying imagined bar, and dealing with the disappointment and resentment coming from her mother. Sharon Stone had her own intense scene in which she very directly told Cassie she loved her but didn’t like her at all and then slapped her before leaving to go cry in her car, which Cassie barely had time to process since they were on the run within minutes after that. At least she and Davey got to bond, and now they’ll likely be closer even if he’s finally ready to go back home to deal with his own stuff. Cassie has a lot to wade through, namely that ominous phone call from Dot and the idea that maybe she can’t trust Benjamin, who showed up and had to deal with Annie at the door. Annie’s focus on her attempt to prove that she could cook meant that she didn’t notice Gabrielle breaking in to plant more evidence and leaving a knife on the counter, and Max should realize that all his time spent gathering data on the computer has resulted in him missing the important things that are going on around him in the real world. Megan’s reunion with her family wasn’t easy, and though she has people much more dangerous than the government hunting her, none of her options look good right now.

What I’m Watching: Candy (Penultimate Episode)

Candy: Season 1, Episode 4 “Cover Girl” (B)

It's crazy to think how obvious it seems that Candy is the one who killed Betty. The police, played by unexpectedly familiar faces Justin Timberlake and Jason Ritter, immediately thought that she was worthwhile enough as a suspect to have her come in for questioning and then ask her about doing a polygraph after bluntly posing the question. The idea that she's somehow trying to claim self-defense will surely be difficult if not impossible to argue, but her lawyers seemed excited about the prospect if only because it’s so unusual. Pat discovering Candy’s affair by looking at the cards was followed up by a totally different story during his testimony where he said he got her flowers and understood that she needed a friend in Alan. While he’s always ducking out to go for a fun and seems like a great father and husband, he’s not in control of this relationship and seems to be quite subservient. He was understandably not happy with the sight of Candy comforting Allan in the wake of Betty’s death, but he still didn’t step in to say anything about it. Wielding that axe over and over again to understand what it would feel like to do it was an intense experiment, one that, given his testimony, will convince him that his wife is guilty and likely encourage him to act to protect her. Allan confessing to his affair after the fact because he thought it would make him look guilty did not achieve the effect he wanted because, even if we know he didn’t do it, he now just looks much guiltier.

What I’m Watching: Home Economics

Home Economics: Season 2, Episode 21 “Book Deal, Terms Negotiable” (B+)

I’m never unhappy seeing Rhys Darby in a role of any sort, especially after I had the chance to interview him a few weeks ago for “Our Flag Means Death.” Tom getting multiple offers on his book did indeed merit a drum roll, though he wasn’t ultimately happy with Monroe’s non-negotiable stipulations that came with an extremely generous sum. While reshaping it to be called “The Lesbian’s Brother” and essentially writing him out of his own story might have seemed like the most egregious offenses, it was the fact that he wouldn’t get a physical copy that upset him most, and which Marina ultimately convinced him was a good enough reason to turn down the deal. I enjoyed seeing the predictable resentment that Denise, Sarah, and Connor felt at being thinly defined by a particular characteristic they did possess but didn’t want to freely admit was an element of their personality. Tom faking an earthquake to try to escape the awkwardness wasn’t terribly effective, but I like that Lupe offered to do it again later provided he was the one to clean it up. It looks like this is the last we’ll see of June Diane Raphael’s Lauren in this context after Connor suggested watching a limited series on the couch and she bolted, but I’d be happy to see her again, even if it’s in an adversarial context at school. Most importantly, this show has scored a season three renewal, which is excellent news, so we’ll get plenty more Hayworth comedy and drama!

What I’m Watching: The Flash

The Flash: Season 8, Episode 14 “Funeral for a Friend” (B)

It’s hard to get too emotionally attached to the departure of a character played by an actress who also portrays another character, and that’s even truer when Caitlin is intent on bringing Frost back to life. It did end up being a decent opportunity for the rest of Team Flash to look inwards and figure out what they needed in order to be okay saying goodbye. Barry went all-out building a snowman on top of Mount Everest and winning a hot dog eating contest, while the rest of the team chose more easily achievable goals that still honored her memory. Chester and Allegra fighting about whether hummus was a condiment (I’m not a fan in general, so I can’t offer a great opinion) was entertaining, and while a romance doesn’t appear to be in the cards in this timeline, they’re cementing the strength of their friendship, which is good. While everyone seemed to be in an okay place by the time the funeral actually happened, Caitlin obviously has not moved on, and even Mark seemed shocked by the idea that she wanted to bring her back. We haven’t seen anything about Taylor, Allegra’s nemesis, recently, but her attempt to undermine her colleague to Iris paled in comparison to the jarring disappearance of Iris, whose ability to stay rooted in the present seems to be fading quickly. She doesn’t seem intent on taking Iris down, but it’s worrisome enough that she’s gone, especially at this crucial moment where Team Flash is otherwise back on track.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Take Three: Candy

Candy: Season 1, Episode 3 “Overkill” (B+)

While I would never even for a moment contemplate having an affair, the idea that you’re not allowed to develop feelings seems counterintuitive. That said, Candy and Allan weren’t really pretending that they were doing this for the sake of their own marriages, and in fact, Allan, who previously seemed like a good guy, was apparently so dishonest that he heard Betty confess her own affair and then didn’t share what he had been doing. Candy was very evidently jealous and quite condescending to Betty after she threw her a baby shower, putting down the idea of Marriage Encounter. It makes sense that she would see Betty as an obstacle to her happiness, even if she was the one who walked away from Allan rather than the other way around. The way that they figured out the logistics was amusingly matter-of-fact, and it speaks to considerable planning around the whole thing that only makes it more devious and hurtful. For as much as she didn’t do well socially, Betty did seem to have a good idea of what was happening even if she didn’t know why, like the fact that Allan had to be fulfilling his sexual needs somehow and that Candy didn’t like her for some unknown reason. Pat, on the other hand, is positively clueless, obsessed with going for a run and not even paying enough attention to reject his wife’s advances. We’re more than halfway through this series now and have only gotten a few clues as to how it all plays out, but there can’t be that much more time left before we get to that part.

What I’m Watching: This Is Us

This Is Us: Season 6, Episode 16 “Family Meeting” (B+)

This show has always done a remarkable job of showing us the connective tissue between formative moments in a person’s life and the way that they end up reflecting and shaping interactions and dynamics later in life. We’ve been anticipating Rebecca’s decline and death for a while now, and showing her in her best and worst moments of parenthood while that was happening was very powerful. Telling Randall that the tooth fairy wasn’t real and assuring Kate that she wasn’t always going to be behind on everything showed how she knew how to relate to her kids, and that they wanted to do the same when they were in a position to be able to help her. After the uncomfortable conversation that included Randall speaking unkindly to Kate and then immediately owning up to it, it was Kate who showed her brothers that they needed to actually look at Rebecca. The solution that Kevin and Sophie would move to take care of Rebecca and that Madison and Elijah would also relocate was unexpected but sweet, and, in this show’s typical fashion, we skipped right to the final moments where Rebecca was about to die. What may have been the most endearing part of this episode didn’t actually have much to do with Rebecca but instead with Toby, who asked permission to overstep as a former husband and coparent before calling her a baller and reminding her that it was ultimately up to her. It’s wonderful to see how their relationship has evolved, though I’ll admit it was still tough to see the new trio of spouses with both Miguel and Toby absent, even if Sophie and Phillip make for very suitable replacements.

What I’m Watching: Mr. Mayor (Penultimate Episode)

Mr. Mayor: Season 2, Episode 9 “The Recall” (B)

When I watched this episode, it was just another episode of what could have been a long run. By the time I got around to writing this review, however, it was the second-to-last installment we’ve ever see thanks to NBC’s decision to cancel it. It’s somewhat surprising that it lasted as long as it did given its true oddities, and that it didn’t have the same appeal as “30 Rock” and, unlike “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” wasn’t on Netflix, which has radically different measures of what success means that it doesn’t even share. It’s true that this show is strange and not always terrific, but I have enjoyed the opportunity to see these performers own these roles. Holly Hunter might actually be the best one in the cast since she’s so embedded in being a rabble-rouser who should have lost steam by this point in her life and governmental career, but everyone else, including Ted Danson, has also been great. I’m not sure I would point to this half-hour as a tremendous display of why the show should be kept around, though I would have loved to see Neil and Arpi face off in a recall election. Neil deciding to let it go forward because he believes he can still prove his competence likely won’t go well for him, but it’s hard to know what kind of ending we’ll see given that the writers probably didn’t know that this would be it. I wouldn’t expect anything too satisfying, but that’s never been the word I would use to describe this show anyway.

Round Two: Candy

Candy: Season 1, Episode 2 “Happy Wife, Happy Life” (B+)

I did wonder about Melanie Lynskey’s star billing given that her character met a very certain end by the closing scene of the series premiere, but it makes more sense now given that these episodes are entirely flashback-driven, with just a small tease of the post-death investigation in which Candy revealed that she “grabbed the axe.” The spotlight on Betty’s home life is fascinating, showing how she has a very particular perspective on the world, one that includes giving her entire class detention to root out the real perpetrator, and the alienation she felt by having to do so much around the house, even with a supportive husband like Allan. David’s presence put a stress on her patience, and I’m sure that having to move on from that fostering experience is only going to make her retreat more within herself. To complicate all of this, the departure of the pastor got Candy thinking intensely about the idea of having an affair, and she went ahead and acted on it by expressing her desire to do so to by telling Allan exactly what she wanted before kissing him. That makes the fact that Allan called Candy multiple times to share how concerned he was about Betty and her continued offers to go over there to check on her more suspicious, and even though this appears to be a crime of passion, Allan will likely be a suspect given the nature of his relationship with the woman who actually killed his wife.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

What I’m Watching: Breeders

Breeders: Season 3, Episode 2 “No Worries” (B+)

Well, this was sweet, and so logical too. Paul not pushing to be back at home and giving Luke the space he needed made their outing together all that much more pleasant, and then Luke was the one to invite Paul to come back and stay at the house. His reasoning made complete sense: he had another panic attack, and Paul wasn’t the reason. This is sure not to be the last of their problems, but it’s at least good to see that there’s hope for the two of them and some growth on Luke’s part as Paul demonstrated the restraint that has escaped him for much of his adult life. Showing up with a fake excuse about Nana June having hours to live – and clarifying that she wasn’t an actual relative since those kinds of stories have a tendency to be proven wrong – to get him out of having to do a terrible American accent was funny, and I like that Jacob offered his very sincere condolences for Paul’s imminent loss. Ally didn’t have quite as good a time when Darren showed up to wreck her whole livelihood, and he was doing much worse with it than she was. Trying to blame her because she left Berlin did not go well, and she didn’t need the added stress of finding out that her prescription apparently wasn’t going to be available for at least ten months. With Paul out of the house and her not wanting to stress her mom out anymore, Ava chose a different adult to confide in about what she’s going through as the child who isn’t the center of her parents’ attention and is now taking steps to keep it that way.

What I’m Watching: Breeders (Season Premiere)

Breeders: Season 3, Episode 1 “No Direction Home” (B+)

This really is a lovely and underrated show, and it’s nice that it’s been one of the most dependable series since the start of the pandemic, debuting a week or two before things officially got bad in the United States and returning each year around the same time for more. I had forgotten how things ended with Luke saying that he and Paul couldn’t be in the house at the same time, and this episode provided some informative flashbacks about the history of their relationship. Paul, to his credit, was trying hard, clearly annoyed and angry about being banned from his own house but aware that his temper was the problem that had caused it in the first place. I don’t love the idea of him making friends with his female neighbor and not clarifying that he was very much still married and just going through issues with his child, not his wife. Coming over to have dinner was nice and pleasant enough, but Luke threatening to leave just emphasized the fact that he wasn’t going to give in and that nothing had changed. Referencing how impactful his father yelling at his sister when they finally found her was made sense given what we saw, but Paul, as a parent, knows that it’s not the full picture, and that the reason he wasn’t so focused on her that day was because Luke needed all of his attention. Ava talking to Paul on the security camera to let him know how she felt when Luke got to decide everything at her expense was both sweet and sad, and this can’t go on for long since she’s going to grow to resent Luke, and Ally as a result, even more.

Take Three: We Own This City

We Own This City: Season 1, Episode 3 “Part Three” (B+)

It’s interesting to see the many layers this show has, following the investigators who are trying to determine what crimes were committed as they’re involved in active surveillance of their targets while flashing back to the misconduct that put them on their radar in the first place. I was extremely impressed by Dagmara Dominczyk when I saw her in “The Lost Daughter,” and only later realized that she’s been a consistent part of the “Succession” ensemble as well. She’s terrific in another HBO effort here alongside Don Harvey, and seeing how the two of them seize on the opportunity to observe a problematic instance as it’s happening was very worthwhile. They understand the tremendous uphill battle they’re facing, and how the blue code of silence will surely stop them from getting as far as they’d like. Domenick Lombardozzi’s union president was a great example of someone who acts as like he’s happy to cooperate but actually has his own agenda which isn’t going to let him give as much as anyone he’s speaking to wants. It’s a disturbing concept, one that we see played out on the streets when Hersl and Jenkins aren’t the only ones jumping quickly to excessive force, since it’s become so ingrained in the culture that for anyone not to do that feels like they’re not part of the team. She may be hitting up against many hurdles, but Nicole’s determination to expose what’s become all too normal and start changing things seems like it could actually have an impact.

Pilot Review: Candy

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, May 13, 2022

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 6, Episode 5 “Black and Blue” (B+)

There’s always been a somewhat foreboding nature to this show, and we got to see that play out with Kim barricading the door in the middle of the night with a chair and being unable to go back to sleep. We didn’t actually see much of Kim in this episode aside from her recommendation that Jimmy use his bruised face to help his catchphrase about how he’ll fight for his clients. Instead, we got to see Gus as the paranoid one, stepping in to help out at the counter at the restaurant and then going out nervously in the parking lot. It’s no surprise that Jimmy is having trouble finding people who want to work with him, and the toilet just hanging out in the middle of his new office space doesn’t exactly help. But he’s always ready to be crafty and figure out a way around the obstacles in his way, like offering to double a salary and then mentioning a signing bonus. What he doesn’t get is that all of his toying with Howard has done him in, and now, after confronting him in a truly unexpected manner that Howard thought would give him an opportunity to get his childishness and pettiness out of his system, he’s going to be monitoring Jimmy very closely, which won’t be good given his activities. I wasn’t initially sure what was going on with Lalo’s pursuit of Margarethe, which dredges up an old storyline that’s another dark instance of someone good falling victim to an impossible and inescapable situation.

What I’m Watching: Barry

Barry: Season 3, Episode 3 “ben mendelsohn” (B+)

I wasn’t sure what to make of this episode’s title, but I did enjoy the notion that Ben Mendelsohn should play the next Spider-Man, as offered up by Sally when she didn’t know what to do with that question during her junket. I also think that he bears a resemblance to Thomas Haden Church, who appeared in a few films as the villain Sandman, so it’s funny to think of them together in a movie. Sally did seem thrown by the lackluster nature of the junket, mistaking Cake Boss for a member of the Avengers, and she’s missing a sense of purpose that she needs from her craft. Barry, on the other hand, was lapping up his newfound stardom, and he was being a bit too honest with Cousineau when he told him that he was the reason his beloved girlfriend had to die in response to the question about her having suffered. That slap was pointed and poignant, and Cousineau isn’t the only person who’s been severely offended by Barry. His unwillingness to apologize to Fuches after he did so first is only going to be his undoing, since now Fuches is going to put together a group of those he’s wronged to get back at him. Noho Hank will not be among them, but he’s sorting out his own issues where Barry happens to be uniquely able to help. I do like Hank quite a bit, and so I hope he’s able to find a way out of this that doesn’t end in heartbreak for him.

Round Two: Ridley Road

Ridley Road: Season 1, Episode 2 (B+)

Since this show is only four episodes long, things have to move fast, and so we got to see Vivien already meeting with Colin Jordan, not needing to do much to look for him and gaining relatively easy access. While he initially seemed wary of her, he grew close very quickly, and was ready to commit adultery with his children in the next room. She’s doing a phenomenal job of acting and making sure to keep her cover, and, though Jack was concerned to see her at first, he too seems impressed by her ability to convince Jordan that, like him, she’s a true believer, and that she should absolutely be trusted. It’s unfortunate, therefore, that Vivien has two people who know more about her than they should, with Stevie seeing her with Jordan and wondering what her true allegiances are and her bigoted landlord finding her prayer book that she tried to keep hidden. Given the meetings she goes to and how she’s being radicalized, she’s likely to try to turn her in, which could put her in the crosshairs of the same people who tried to interrupt the funeral and ended up getting sent to a different location where they still managed to desecrate a grave but did no bodily harm to anyone, despite the terrified man hiding behind another nearby grave. Back home, Vivien’s absence is having miserable consequences for her parents, who were expressly told that they would have to pay crippling rates if Vivien’s husband-to-be didn’t officially join the family.

What I’m Watching: The First Lady

The First Lady: Season 1, Episode 4 “Cracked Pot” (B+)

While the previous episode ended with joyous weddings, this hour examined the consequences of marriage and how things aren’t always as rosy as they initially seem. While he was relatively apologetic about the whole thing, Franklin’s affair with Lucy Mercer, played by Maria Dizzia, hit Eleanor hard, and it would have surely ended their marriage had Sara not gotten in the way. Her threat to cut them both off was severe and one that convinced Franklin, but Eleanor was determined not to share a bed with the man who had broken her trust, one of the only truly impactful actions she could take in that era. I’m interested to see more about her relationship with Lily Rabe’s Hick. Betty’s story in this hour was similarly devastating, but for different reasons, showing how she first became dependent on medication and alcohol and how her bond with Clara got her through some of the much tougher times. Michelle was intent on advocating for change when she saw how her education level was the only thing that got her daughter the urgent medical attention she needed, and that’s how she met Kate Mulgrew’s Susan and started her work. I have to mention the strong performance from actress Jayme Lawson as the younger Michelle, and would advise anyone who hasn’t to watch her in the film “Farewell Amor.” This entire ensemble is terrific, with Eliza Scanlen and Kristine Froseth particularly strong choices to play the younger Eleanor and Betty, respectively, with Charlie Plummer as the younger Franklin.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Round Two: I Love That For You

I Love That For You: Season 1, Episode 2 “Faux Florals” (B+)

It’s no surprise that Joanna is being told to continually mention her cancer on-air, and I think she’s aware of how it sounds for her to casually say it in the middle of a sales pitch which, on its own, would likely be very effective. It’s interesting to hear how her parents feel about her having lied since they know that she doesn’t have cancer anymore, with her mom supportive and her dad not into it. But as Darcy and Beth Ann continue to feign kindness and practice anything but, she’s seeing how she can be equally petty and get what she wants, like getting Beth Ann’s dressing room taken away from her when she went to her number one fan Patricia to ask for it. Jordan went way overboard with stocking her room, and though he seems sincere in his affection, I do hope it doesn’t result in Joanna getting embarrassed or hurt. She’s found a great ally in Jackie but the terror on her face was palpable when Jackie repeated to her just how much she hated liars when they went out together in wigs. While I can’t imagine this show’s depiction of the home shopping television industry is meant to be entirely accurate, I did appreciate that Patricia insisted that “Jack-adversary” was intentionally mispronounced so that people would use the wrong code at checkout. That was a less explicitly deliberate tactic than the one she used to get Marty to call in and pretend they were still a happy couple, something that got Jackie furious and ready to take a stand.

Take Three: Gaslit

Gaslit: Season 1, Episode 3 “King George” (B+)

My favorite scene from this episode was the one where Howard Hunt, played fantastically by J.C. MacKenzie, who appeared very recently as the judge in “The Girl from Plainville,” struggled to remember the combination to the safe that he had been given in the White House office that someone had stupidly assigned him considering he had been hired to do criminal work on behalf of the president. I enjoyed recognizing Carlos Valdes from “The Flash” as Paul Magallanes and Chris Messina as Agent Lano, and though the two got off to a rocky start, they’ve turned into a productive duo, one who, as Paul theorized, is going up against a bunch of idiots. Liddy explaining to Dean how he had discreetly entered the White House to come see him was yet another instance of him being highly and hilariously theatrical, and, like in so many cases, being the one to tell someone information they should very much already know. Being so close to Nixon might be a good thing for Dean if Nixon was going to survive this, but we know he doesn’t, and bringing the files to John Carroll Lynch’s acting FBI director to destroy probably was not a smart move. Martha proved her resilience by burning herself so that she could get a copy of a newspaper and then making a phone call for help when she got the chance to Winnie, and John firing Peter and leaving the White House (or getting fired, as Dean was told) doesn’t feel like quite significant enough to undo that damage. John may be ready for retirement, but he’s done a lot and Martha definitely isn’t ready to leave any of it behind to embrace a life of relaxation far from politics.

What I’m Watching: Tehran

Tehran: Season 2, Episode 2 “Change of Plan” (B+)

I’m not sure we would have a show if Tamar and Milad left Tehran, and so therefore it’s equally good and nerve-wracking that they’ve decided they have to stay behind to execute their mission, which is quickly heating up. Unfortunately, Milad needing to get Vahid to work with him meant outing Babak as a cheat, which then meant that Babak was angry enough to show up at his door ready to bang it down. This was an important and miserable moment for Milad, one in which he was forced to take deadly action and make his first kill, one that will not endear him to the mission that he’s now part of to get to Mohammadi. Faraz was pleased to be reinstated but it’s going to be quite an adjustment for him to have to report to someone else, even if Ali is eternally loyal to him, and his wife seems particularly upset with the idea that he would abandon her when she ended up being collateral damage because of his over-involvement in all this in the first place. The puppet master, Marjan, seems ready to confront both problems facing the mission which are difficult but also different, since Milad won’t want to be told that he needs to stay or to stay away, and getting Faraz off the scent will be challenging in its own right. Working directly with Yulia is a good thing because she’s protecting Tamar above all else, but it’s a dangerous job that’s going to involve cutting someone out of the equation.

What I’m Watching: Tehran (Season Premiere)

Tehran: Season 2, Episode 1 “13000” (B+)

It’s not easy to top this show’s adrenaline-fueled pilot, but this premiere came pretty close with its introduction of a new mission, one that appears to have succeeded but now finds both the rescued pilot and Tamar still stranded in Iran. Even without being in an office and still on the mend from getting shot, Faraz was able to see what no one else could, sending Ali in to the hospital because he was convinced, and rightfully so, that the Israelis were planning an operation to spring the pilot. I don’t quite understand how the timing could have been so perfect that they would know when he got to 13,000, but it was nonetheless thrilling to watch. Tamar has a new commanding officer who was more than willing to leave her behind when she had to step in to trip Ali and the police with him, but there was also a contingency plan involving a new character played by Glenn Close. I imagined that she wouldn’t be playing an American since that would be too obviously suspicion in Iran, but she does have a past history of joining shows late and doing well – see “The Shield” season four, which earned her an Emmy nomination. Both negative outcomes of the mission are concerning, with Faraz now tailing Milad even though he didn’t make contact and Arezoo publicly executed by Mohammadi in his new role, determined to send a strong message that he will exact brutal revenge on anyone who tries to go against his regime, especially if they collaborate with Israelis.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

What I’m Watching: Big Sky

Big Sky: Season 2, Episode 16 “Keys to the Kingdom” (C)

It's hard to know who the villain is supposed to be on this show since right now the person causing the most bodily harm is Richard, who's merely doing what law enforcement isn't and knocking down doors to get the answers he needs to make the people who got his son killed pay. That did involve some collateral damage in the form of Tubb, who, like his deputy, appears to be perfectly fine despite sustaining a relatively serious wound. It's not a good moment for the good guys with Bryce revealed to be Cassie's informant and then killed by Tonya in an apparent show of loyalty to the Bhullar family, cementing her status as someone willing to do anything for those in power. That could help Travis since his cover remains intact and he's now been promoted, but Alicia's interference isn't likely to deter Jenny, putting her back in the crosshairs of the cartel. I'm glad that Alicia has more to her than just a selfie-taking trophy wife, and that she's ready to prove her relevance to her partner's children who severely underestimated her. Amid all this chaos, somehow there's still room for not just a romance but a love triangle, one that didn't end well for Jerrie and isn't reflecting all that well on Mark either. It’s easy to forget that, while Cassie’s father is just the latest casualty this cast of characters has experienced, it hasn’t been all that long since Cody got killed, a relatively traumatic event that no one seems to remember.

What I’m Watching: Atlanta

Atlanta: Season 3, Episode 8 “New Jazz” (B+)

I’m not sure this show needs drugs to make its storylines weird given what we’ve been seeing this season, and this episode felt like a relatively subdued if extraordinary stroll through Amsterdam. I like seeing the curious side of Alfred rather than the disgruntled one, and after Darius tried to pay without enough money and then left him, he was able to wander the streets on his own and have an entirely unique experience. Trying to talk to the art didn’t go very well, and then he found someone ready to critique him. I’m not familiar with actress Ava Grey but was very impressed with her work her, tearing Alfred apart starting with his hat before diving deeper into the essence of who he was as a person. She even managed to spirit him out of the club before he got introduced as New Jazz and might have had to perform or do something that wouldn’t have felt as focused or serene as the experience that he was having. Whether or not what he actually went through happened, Alfred woke up the next day ready to question his life choices, starting with finding out who owned his master recordings. Earn was able to reassure him that he did without much effort, and he’ll likely be haunted more by his chance run-in with Liam Neeson, who was happy to address his real-life instance of racism but then double-down and say what many apologists likely believe, boiled down to the fact that being white allows you to never have to learn anything if you don’t want to. I don’t think I would ever have expected to see an actor like Neeson on this show, but I certainly won’t forget that anytime soon.

What I’m Watching: Call Me Kat (Season Finale)

Call Me Kat: Season 2, Episode 18 “Call Me Shellfish” (B+)

I have a feeling this may be the last episode of this show that we’ll see, in part because I was surprised enough that there was a season two in the first place. What I like is that the ending could segue well into another round of episodes but also serves as a satisfying enough closer that could serve as a series finale if necessary, with Kat ready to explore a world of infinite possibilities in Paris. Showing the masked crew was a nice touch too since this show has always been light but relatively entertaining, and it feels good to see the many people involved in this process and not just the smiling and waving actors. Kat going to therapy was enough to open her mind to the fact that maybe she should try something new, and after doing the auction where Randi wanted to sell pictures of their feet and a newly-unemployed Phil expressed that math riddles were dumb, the panic attack following its success cemented that she needed a break. Phil was in desperate need of a return to work after he showed up with stuff he had baked because he couldn’t stand the thought of them serving anything subpar, and it will be good for Randi to stay busy now that she’s told an understandably jealous Carter that she loves him. Max landed a big breakthrough and got to assess how he and Kat were swapping positions for once, and that image of him in the bathrobe with Kat in Paris at the end was likely just a fantasy. I have enjoyed this show and would be happy to see more of it, and if not, I look forward to seeing these actors’ next projects.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Cheyenne Jackson as Max

Take Three: Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven: Season 1, Episode 3 “Surrender” (B+)

There’s a certain gravity to this show that made it seem like Bill might be dead, but instead the standoff in the woods ended up not being anything too dramatic and instead just showed the resolve of the Lafferty family to resist being policed by law enforcement. Just as he has so far, Jeb was able to relate to a particular perspective the family might have about how they might see it as a siege like the one Joseph Smith had to endure. It’s jarring to learn that the people being questioned have no idea that Brenda is dead and are therefore more than willing to say terrible things about her, like that she is an “ugly shade of gray” within a mold of black-and-white laws. Flashing back to her becoming a queen and priestess to her husband certainly showed a ritual that from the outside feels outdated and problematic but does have a great power for true believers. Ammon giving Dan lashings in public was disconcerting, and seeing how Brenda pointed out the absurdity of Dan running for sheriff so that he could repeal all the amendments to the Constitution helped explain they might have felt that she posed a threat to them. This is spilling into Jeb’s own life as he’s thinking about postponing his daughters’ baptisms so his heart can fully be in it, and Rebecca had her hands full frantically searching for her mother-in-law. He seems to be getting closer to full confessions, but that’s only going to intensify the way the remaining family members still out there feel.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Pilot Review: The Pentaverate

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: The Offer

The Offer: Season 1, Episode 4 “The Right Shade of Yellow” (B+)

Knowing what I do about this era in terms of the films that made it big, “Love Story” is an important release and one that predated “The Godfather” by two years, which means there’s still plenty of time for this project to get off the ground as Ali has to deal with Bob ignoring her to take phone calls from Jack Nicholson. Ruddy continues to get Bob upset by going around him to have Bluhdorn greenlight casting decisions he doesn’t agree with, and Marlon Brando, played entertainingly by an unrecognizable Justin Chambers from “Grey’s Anatomy,” is absolutely going to be difficult even if he’ll be key to the success of the movie. Ultimately, Bob does support Ruddy, and even managed to stave off Jack from becoming a supervising producer who might not have let him do much of what he wanted to in pursuit of Francis’ true vision. It’s probably for the best that Ruddy and Fran├žoise had an important conversation about the boundaries in their work, even if that didn’t go particularly well and is sure to lead to more drama down the road should she return from Paris at some point soon. Crazy Joe does seem ready to cause problems for Joe, which in turn will be a problem for the movie, bringing the mafia into this moviemaking process in a way that will most definitely feel too real and likely make those who were already skittish about waking up to dead fish more worried about whether this whole thing is worth it.

What I’m Watching: Made for Love

Made for Love: Season 2, Episode 4 “Another Byron, Another Hazel” (B+)

What’s most notable about seeing Hazel back out in the world is how overstimulated she is, shocked by the number of people and the quickness of their movements. It’s disconcerting to watch her lie so easily on the stand, denying the very thing that bothers her most about her husband to the people most empowered to do something about it, even going so far as to defend him and his motives. Her run-in with Agent Walsh was far from comforting, partially because he didn’t make it clear at first who he was and then made it very weird by asking if she would have slept with Jasper. She also made a surprising move to kiss Byron and nearly go into his room, which may just be her messing with him or trying to trick him but could also be a sign that she’s beginning to believe that he’s actually changed. Byron’s dealings with General Ramirez, played by Lidia Porto from “Home Economics,” are troubling, while social media manager Dawn Fairbanks, played by Edi Patterson from “The Righteous Gemstones,” seems less villainous and more ignorant of what’s actually going on at the company. It’s disconcerting to watch Other Hazel working with Other Byron to escape their artificial reality, and eliciting Herbert’s help somehow to become real should be an interesting and likely problematic process. The continued flashes to Fiffany and Herringbone are intriguing, and I wonder if anyone’s ever going to figure out that they’re out there – maybe the FBI once they finally get linked up with Jasper and his new best friend Zelda?