Thursday, June 30, 2022

Round Two: Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel: Season 1, Episode 2 “Crushed” (B+)

This second episode preserved the excitement of the first while showing that having powers isn’t always easy or reliable. Testing out the limits of what could be possible was fun, and she definitely had some awesome moments when she stepped in to save the boy who fell from certain death. But she has yet to master her abilities and to figure out exactly where they came from, hence that surprising encounter that caused her to lose her concentration and resulted in him getting slightly hurt when he fell on the car. There’s obviously a lot of family history that plays into all of this, and we got to see some of that with what Muneeba didn’t want to share about her own upbringing and relationships. I enjoyed her asking Kamala if she didn’t eat anything or if she had eaten too much. Kamran seemed too perfect to be true, and I’ll admit that I didn’t expect him to actually be a nice guy but one with a much closer connection to what Kamala has become than she could have realized. Cleary and Deaver remain very intent on finding Kamala and don’t seem happy with the fact that she was able to escape. I do like that there are subplots here like Bruno not wanting to go to California for a prestigious program and Nakia playing politics to be able to get elected to the mosque board, ensuring that this isn’t just about Kamala’s powers but also about her entire life.

Pilot Review: God's Favorite Idiot

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: Breeders

Breeders: Season 3, Episode 7 “No Pressure” (B+)

The way that this show incorporates its casual flashbacks makes it mesmerizing to watch, particularly when it comes to the state of Paul and Ally’s marriage, which seemed to be in a lot of trouble at the end of the previous episode. Things were much better when they were chatting in the waiting room of the dentist’s office, and they almost went into the bathroom together when Ally remembered an earlier instance when they had done that. Ally kept repeating that it was just so nice for the two of them to be together talking, and it was definitely sweet to see that. Talking about walking on landmines rather than eggshells did exemplify the way that Paul goes from zero to sixty at almost every opportunity, and that was absolutely a good way to describe his reaction to Ava purposely failing her exam. For all the issues she’s had recently with responding to Ava and what she needed from her, Ally said exactly the right thing, first when she was upset that Grace had failed the practice exam and then when she acknowledged to Ally that her theory had been right all along and that she had failed on purpose. Ending the episode with Paul raging and Ava very upset was not promising. At least Luke managed to get back on good terms with Jacob, whose every word of dialogue is hilariously so much older than he is, talking like a person with infinitely more life experience and not finding the way others respond to him strange.

What I’m Watching: Barry (Season Finale)

Barry: Season 3, Episode 8 “starting now” (A-)

What a finale this was! I didn’t think it was possible to top “710N,” but this was an incredible ending that makes the prospect of season four a true question mark, especially since it was announced a month ago. I was right that Sally would come to Barry for help getting revenge on Barry, but that ended in a different way than I thought when she ended up barely surviving an attack that first felled Barry and then led to her going to town on her assailant with a baseball bat. Leaving town when she told Barry she would come meet him seemed to be more about exploring her own past in Joplin than running away from him, though both are probably smart moves for her. Albert finding Barry while he was burying that body turned out to be a therapeutic moment, one that showed his understanding for who Barry was and his desire for him to change his behavior. Unfortunately, Jim did a masterful job of interrogating Cousineau and then set up the perfect sting operation, one that I honestly didn’t see coming even though it might have been obvious after the fact given what he did with Fuches, who owned up quickly to being the Raven once he was in jail. Hank had the miserable experience of hearing all his men fall victim to that terrifying animal, but he made quite the escape and managed to be reunited with Cristobal. The tortue that his wife was employing to cure him of his attraction to men was very specific, and I like that the two of them may have a happy ending. But again, I have no idea what happens next and I’m absolutely ready for it.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Bill Hader as Barry

What I’m Watching: The First Lady

The First Lady: Season 1, Episode 9 “Rift” (B+)

The structure of this episode did make some sense even if it was less strictly connected than previous installments. Each of the first ladies were in radically different stages of their time in office, with only Eleanor still married to a sitting president who wasn’t going anywhere for a while. Franklin turning to his wife to be the first one to address the nation after Pearl Harbor was a firm endorsement of her role in his life, a dramatic shift from his refusal to intervene on the behalf of the ship of Jews from Europe when she was pushing him to act. The happiness she got from being so widely praised and celebrated put her in a great mood, but unfortunately it resulted in Hick feeling abandoned and forgotten. No longer in the White House, Betty was not pleased with Susan for expressing concern with her behavior, and she reacted very angrily to the intervention that was staged to show her how worried everyone was. Her reluctant agreement to go to rehab started off shakily when she found out that she didn’t have her own room, but things seemed much better by the time she was introducing herself to the group with her new sponsor by her side. This show’s title does remain appropriate even after these women are no longer in the official position of first lady since they still retain that public persona. I have a feeling that the second season of this anthology series won’t be about Melania Trump given the admittedly relatable feeling of doom that was present as the Obama family watched the election returns in 2016. It’s unfortunately all too relevant and miserable given what has happened as a result of Trump’s Supreme Court appointees in just the last week alone, and it’s crazy to think how things could have been different if people had been more receptive to Hillary Clinton, who was not portrayed at all favorably here, as a candidate.

Pilot Review: Becoming Elizabeth

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.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

What I’m Watching: I Love That For You

I Love That For You: Season 1, Episode 7 “Point of No Returns” (B+)

I was worried that Joanna was going to blurt out the truth on-air during the telethon, and while this wasn’t quite as bad, it was still not the way it all should have happened. Beth Ann, who was having trouble remaining tethered to reality when it came to her love life and the so-so sex she had with Perry, nailed it perfectly when she confronted Joanna and realized that she wanted her to tell Patricia so that she didn’t have to be the one to do it. Jeremy telling her he loved her would have been an appropriate moment to be honest, but it’s too late for that now. I have a feeling that Jackie might also reconsider her retirement given that everything she thought was true has now shown itself not to be, and I’m curious to see how Patricia is going to react since I think she’ll be able to see past the lie and look to what Joanna did by spinning it, proving herself to be resilient even if it wasn’t for a genuine reason. Having Ryan Phillippe be the one to call out her betrayal was admittedly pretty funny, and a great way to end this episode. I liked that Perry stepped in to so casually help Darcy out of his impossible situation and did it with ease, speaking French fluently and threatening to weaponize his social media followers against them, and that he seemed much more into the idea of sleeping with Darcy than he had with Beth Ann, a less major secret that is going to soon come out after the shock of Joanna’s big admission dies down.

What I’m Watching: Gaslit (Series Finale)

Gaslit: Season 1, Episode 8 “Final Days” (B+)

There have been so many limited series recently that have started out so well and then ended with a bit of a whimper and I’m pleased to report that, even though I wasn’t entirely fond of the episode before this one, this was a very strong finish. Opening with Martha Kelly’s Rose Mary Woods showing scientifically how she must have pushed the wrong button while she was stretching to erase the tapes highlighted the absurdity of all this in an episode that wasn’t quite as over-the-top as the rest. Paul and Angelo were thrilled to be able to come arrest John and parade him out in front of the press, though somehow he managed to escape severe punishment despite his explicit role in all of this. Seeing Dean and the other top dogs, including Halderman, Colson, and Magruder out working in the prison yard discussing whether they were guilty or whether, as Dean put it, they were “all Nixon,” was an interesting reflection on their degrees of complicity. Liddy being in the same room at the courthouse with Dean and telling him how he had learned how to kill a man using just a pencil was a perfect coda for those two characters and the way in which they’ve both played a part in all this. It’s sad to see Martha’s fate, but at least Winnie tried to pay tribute to someone she judged initially but then really got to know when she gave her a chance. This has been quite a ride, with such a terrific cast and a great way to learn about a relatively exaggerated but still worthwhile chronicle of history.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Shea Whigham as Gordon Liddy

Pilot Review: Dark Winds

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: First Kill

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: Physical

Physical: Season 2, Episode 2 “Don’t You Ever Stop” (B+)

Sheila has replaced one immensely distracting addiction with another, unable to stay focused on her classes while she kept flashing back to the motel and her reunions with Breem. Greta was intrigued and then a little concerned about the handprint she noticed on Sheila, and of course leaving Danny alone to take care of the children for once would lead to him involving everyone in a protest and then getting arrested. He’s always very big on admirers, and Wanda fit that bill, applauding him for being an active dad when this is literally the only thing he’s really done. I am a big fan of Tawny Newsome, so it’s great to see her in this role, whether or not that will continue past this episode. Having Breem be the one to drive Maya home after Danny got arrested was an interesting twist, one that didn’t sit well with Sheila because the fantasy started to invade a different space than she was used to or comfortable with at first. Breem is also not doing a great job of listening to his wife and was too distracted by the sight of Sheila to chastise his son for his new girlfriend who had apparently already had him over with her family. Even as she’s dealing with a potential pregnancy and with the unexpected loss of her father, it’s Bunny who seems to be Sheila’s biggest current threat since she’s furious at the idea that Sheila might now want to employ her after stealing what she first created.

What I’m Watching: The Boys

The Boys: Season 3, Episode 4 “Glorious Five Year Plan” (B+)

A defining element of this season is how much these people are all operating within the same universe and how getting the upper hand seems next to impossible given how their plans are so easily discovered. I knew that Supersonic telling A-Train about the plan to take Homelander out was going to be a bad thing, but I didn’t expect the horrifying sight of the “beautiful view” that Homelander wanted to show Starlight. The immediacy with which semi-major characters can be killed off on this show continues to be startling, though there are just as many who are left alive but are retreating from the public eye. Victoria choosing to betray Stan so that she could get what she needed for her daughter is only going to leave Homelander with more unchecked power. I was worried that Stan was going to feel Homelander’s wrath when he showed up to talk down to him, but Homelander still does have an inferiority complex that only some, like Stan, are able to get to by calling him “bad product.” Hughie’s first experience with Compound V had him so excited that he was able to teleport and punch through someone that he didn’t seem to be able to focus on anything else, like Kimiko not healing, an unfortunate development, especially after she took out that entire brothel on her own. I’m enjoying the spotlight on Ashley, who claimed to A-Train that Black Lives Matter was her favorite hashtag and then spent about as much energy exercising her sexual fantasies as she did trying to stay on top of her PR job.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Offer (Penultimate Episode)

The Offer: Season 1, Episode 9 “It's Who We Are” (B+)

Things took a dramatic turn from the start of this episode, when Ruddy got nervous about dealing with a very different mafia with a far more vicious and all-encompassing influence, to the thunderously-received screening where the success of the movie was cemented. It didn’t seem like Evans was going to come back, and Barry wasn’t interested in hearing what the creative forces behind the movie had to say. Thanks to Ruddy’s intervention, Bob showed up at exactly the right time to make his case and impress Bludhorn, and more importantly the dubious Barry, that Ruddy and Francis knew best and should be respected. It was entertaining to see some of the proposed cover art that definitely did not have the same effect as the one that was ultimately used. It’s difficult to imagine what comes next for Ruddy since this has been such a huge investment with the potential for disaster, and Bettye thinking of her career beyond that makes sense because success just isn’t assured, even if those watching know it is. Hearing Caesar say that it was the best movie he ever saw was a surefire sign of approval, and hearing the signature theme from the movie was an important moment. I don’t know how much is left to be resolved in the finale and if there will be consequences for this screening, but there shouldn’t be too much more to be surmounted ahead of the release of this film that came to define an entire generation and inspire so much more cinema after that.

What I’m Watching: The Staircase (Series Finale)

The Staircase: Season 1, Episode 8 “America's Sweetheart or: Time Over Time” (B+)

It’s definitely been easy to get lost over the course of this series regarding the specific moment in time being portrayed, and that was absolutely still true in this final episode. But what this hour did exceptionally well was to show how the passage of time really wears on someone, with Candace reading that same letter and a much more wearied, older Michael hearing it as he was finally about to have any penalties related to his alleged role in Kathleen’s death removed. It’s jarring to think of just how long this all went on, and to see the way that his family all reacted when he was released pending a retrial in 2011. But Clayton got that first reminder that it didn’t mean he was cleared, and his favorite restaurant was very ready to stand on ceremony that it wouldn’t seat convicted killers. But Michael also revealed his crueler, colder side when Margaret couldn’t decide what dessert she wanted, a reminder that, even if he is innocent, his demeanor doesn’t do him any favors. That was most on display when he was supposed to leave for Paris and lashed out at Sophie for being ready for something they had planned for so long. Ending on the note of him recalling the fact that he had to hide he was gay only served to emphasize that it’s hard to know who he really was since he always hid so much of it from the rest of the world. There remain many unanswered questions after this show, but it’s been very interesting and enlightening, with some terrific performances in the ensemble.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Colin Firth

Pilot Review: Queer as Folk

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 Flash

The Flash: Season 8, Episode 17 “Keep It Dark” (B)

Are we still looking for someone who’s starting fires? I thought that was earlier this season, but instead we got what appeared to be an ally in the form of Dr. Meena Dhawan, who I’m honestly not sure if we’re supposed to remember or if she’s a completely new character. But that unusually post-ending-swoosh sequence was almost entirely positive, even if we’ve learned before not to trust those who seem entirely kind and helpful. I’m not disappointed to still see Harrison Wells on this show but I am perplexed since I remember hearing so many times that actor Tom Cavanagh was leaving. With Iris entirely absent and that apparently forgotten for the course of this hour, the focus was on Allegra, a character who hasn’t always had the best spotlight but here got one that allowed her to show how much she’s able to contribute and, most satisfying of all, enabled her to impress her archnemesis who was set on taking her down. It’s always interesting to me to see when villains just give up because the heroes suddenly have the upper hand, and Allegra managed to do that by keeping Sunshine and Dr. Light distracted long enough for Lydia to go on-air and identify them. This is a positive development for Allegra that affirms her confidence in being part of Team Flash, and now she’s turned Taylor into an ally. Caitlin has apparently come to terms with Barry’s actions and may be taking it quite well, though I’m sure things will be more complicated than that when we see her again.

Pilot Review: Ms. Marvel

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: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Season 1, Episode 4 “Part IV” (B)

It’s hard to be overly invested in what’s going on here since we know how it’s going to turn out, generally speaking, that both Obi-Wan and Leia are going to survive without anyone knowing who or where they are, and this episode only heightened that since the stakes were intense but escape was all but guaranteed anyway. What happened with Tala wasn’t as certain, and she managed to use her clearance to gain access so that she could get Obi-Wan in and even improvised to deal with another officer who wanted to see her credentials. It’s funny to think that communicators are just like cell phones and you should really put them on silent when you’re trying to hide from nearby stormtroopers. This episode also reminded me a lot of “The Phantom Menace” in its multiple brushes with water, with Obi-Wan managing to contain the crack in the wall long enough to unleash the water on the Empire forces chasing them. Reva was not having any of Leia’s stonewalling and seemed ready to punish her harshly, and fortunately the reinforcements arrived at exactly the right moment so that she didn’t end up killing everyone. Darth Vader was predictably furious that she came so close to getting them and then let them get away, but she’s one step ahead at all times, putting that tracker on the droid that Leia values so much. It’s hard to know what comes next that tracks with how events are set to play out ahead of the original trilogy, but I guess there will be some more drama to be found in the final two episodes.

Monday, June 27, 2022

What I’m Watching: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 2, Episode 13 “All Is Lost” (B+)

I do love a good flashback, and it’s interesting to learn more about Lucy and the resentment she felt towards her family that drew her close to Ally in the first place. Perhaps it’s because of the framing of the character and the way in which she was introduced, but Ally always felt and talked like a cult leader, even before she had followers, and now she’s crossing the line from great organizer into totalitarian monarch. She tried to appeal initially to Lucy to believe her and not trust the sister and father who had shown up to physically force her to reconsider her position, but then moved quickly into threatening the people she cared about to make sure that she complied. Getting Superman to come led to a quick takedown, one that will lead to him living - a good thing - but apparently without any powers, something that’s going to be quite an adjustment, especially in light of his recent wondrously successful training session with Jordan. That was exactly what Jordan needed to get past the misery of not being able to talk to Sarah anymore. Lana may not have expressed anger at Clark or Lois in this episode, but she did respond sternly to Jordan when he came to talk to her and tell her that he felt he needed to tell Sarah, something she wasn’t going to allow. We’re going to see plenty of the other Lana soon, which should be interesting, and it’s a good thing that John and Natalie both have suits that will make them somewhat capable of standing up to the interdimensional threat that’s about to come at them in the final two episodes of the season.

What I’m Watching: Breeders

Breeders: Season 3, Episode 6 “No Show” (B+)

It was interesting to see how Paul dealt with his work situation in this episode, forced to break the news to those he had previously been able to fund that the money wasn’t going to be available in the future but ready to stand up in a polite way for what he felt was important. Brandon was surprisingly receptive and said yes right away to a yearlong extension of funding, though I worry that will just lead to Paul being told that he’s already been accommodated the next time he brings something up. I like that he left to go home and screamed into Luke’s pillow, which he offered again as an option, and that he was relieved that the crisis Luke was having was Ruby asking him if she should break up with Jacob. That didn’t seem to go well, but given that Jacob was already ignoring him, maybe it will ultimately be good, especially if he and Ruby give dating a try. Ally getting the concert tickets for Ava was a huge win, but it being the wrong night completely undid it, and Ava said some very hurtful things that she did really feel. Paul feeling good about himself came at the wrong time, and Ally expressing her resentment towards him for Ava hating her is likely to have resounding implications, certainly on how she views things. Jim slowly coming around to the need to say goodbye to Chrissy was sweet, though the intimacy he was indicating when Jackie saw him kiss her hand seemed to suggest a closeness that wasn’t a good thing.

Pilot Review: Irma Vep

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: Barry

Barry: Season 3, Episode 7 “candy asses” (B+)

Obviously, Barry wasn’t going to die since his name is literally the title of this show, but it still was a rough patch for him, nearly suffocating then miraculously being strong enough to get up, which tracks since Sharon isn’t a professional poisoner. It was particularly interesting to see the ethical choices that people who picked up hitmen made in this episode, with George deciding to drop him at the hospital and then end his own life rather than Barry’s, and Jim driving Fuches straight to the police station while he was telling him all these things that he somehow knew about his daughter’s murder. The conclusion that Fuches was the Raven was obviously the right one, but Albert was more concerned with exacting his own form of justice, and he may now have what he needs to confront Barry, the first person with a real chance of being able to take him out since he both knows who he is and how to get to him. Cousineau has taken his new lease on life seriously and chose not to implicate Barry in something he knows he did, a smart move that should protect him given Barry’s inevitable survival. Sally going ballistic on Natalie in the elevator when she found out that she got her own show was unexpected, and her terrible attempt at an apology suggests that perhaps she and Barry are more well-suited to each other than she thought, and I’d love to see them get back together since that’s what she wants in her life, provided he doesn’t direct that rage at her. Noho Hank continues to be one of the best parts of this show, and I love that he knew he was going to get knocked out but wasn’t going to say anything because he was trying to be polite.

What I’m Watching: The First Lady

The First Lady: Season 1, Episode 8 “Punch Perfect” (B+)

This show certainly knows how to choose the powerful moments from these first ladies’ time in office where their husbands chose to take a particular position that wasn’t actually using their power to its utmost potential but instead making a calculation about what political risk was worthwhile in order to continue influencing policy. Eleanor’s may have been the most striking, since both she and Franklin were given the facts about what had happened previously when a ship carrying Jews from Europe was turned away and that it would almost certainly result in the same horrible fate. Having photos put on the plates at dinner was a bold move, one that didn’t sit well with him and which encountered expected pushback from the guests in attendance. It was definitely a shock to see that her most vocal supporter was her mother-in-law, something that hadn’t happened before, but that was still isolating and unproductive during an important era of history in which tragically little action was taken. Michelle being told by her college counselor that she wasn’t Princeton material was blunt and awful, and, years later, she used the platform she had to speak out against violence that was disproportionately affecting Black people. The quick end to her husband’s presidency didn’t diminish Betty’s cultural impact, but it’s understandable that she would feel lost within that, and we saw the beginnings of her struggles with addiction and trying to feel relevant and good without the same sense of purpose and clear influence on an entire generation.

What I’m Watching: I Love That For You

I Love That For You: Season 1, Episode 6 “Crystal Buddiez” (B+)

There were a number of reasons that Joanna being forced by Patricia to go on-air wasn’t a good thing, and she saw one of them realized right away when Jackie called in to comment on her betrayal. They were able to get past it so that Joanna could come over to her house and see just how much stuff she’s been collecting for years, but the bigger issue is that she ended up bumping Beth Ann, who already has it out for her. Joanna bragging about having sex with Jordan got her upset and made her unleash the dirt she thought she had about her doctor, and even though she’s way off, Joanna is in rabidly protective mode, ready with a comeback that was intense enough to force Beth Ann to spill the salad she was obsessively shaking. All of this is affecting Beth Ann quite a bit, and now she’s resorted to ferocious sex at work with Perry, who initially seemed uninterested but then decided to go for it. Perry had a passionate reaction to the arrival of his luxur bag, and Patricia getting it for him as a gift is going to mess with his head and force him to confess even if she’s not playing mind games on him because she already knows. I’m enjoying the rapport Joanna and Jordan have now that they’ve had sex, and it was entertaining to hear Beena respond to Darcy and Jordan offering suggestions she had obviously already tried for how to find the missing Jackie.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

What I’m Watching: Gaslit (Penultimate Episode)

Gaslit: Season 1, Episode 7 “Year of the Rat” (B)

In keeping with many other second-to-last installments, this hour started with a flashback to much better times, when Mitchell first met Martha and was much more enamored that he now finds himself. Previously, we had seen him express restraint and disappointment in her for meddling in affairs that he didn’t think were her business, and now he’s absolutely terrible, choking her and celebrating that, for once, he couldn’t hear her. It’s the ultimate sign of how he’s exactly like what he pretended not to be, putting on a publicly supportive face but being even more judgmental and controlling than anyone else. Ensuring that she wouldn’t have an audience at her testimony was particularly cruel, and leaving with their daughter was the worst blow he could have dealt. This episode did take a turn for the maniacal when it showed Martha’s despair and then checked in with Liddy in jail, who was going a bit stir-crazy and trying to outsmart the animals around him via his toilet and other weapons at his disposal. Dean and Mo posing for Playboy and talking about everything as if they had won got a devastating reality check when he found out that he was still likely going to have to serve five years behind bars, another instance of how bad behavior isn’t rewarded simply because someone else was even badder. I’m eager and curious to see how this all ends since I haven’t done any digging into the history of how things panned out for everyone involved.

Friday, June 24, 2022

More TV coverage coming soon!

As a result of a combination of travel, the Tribeca Film Festival, and Emmy interviews, I haven't been able to keep up with some of the most recent TV. But fear not, I'm already in the process of catching up, and episodic reviews from June TV and beyond will be up soon.

In the meantime, click the embedded video above to watch more than 200 conversations with Emmy contenders and more. For Tribeca coverage, visit this link. And to see all articles I've published on other outlets, visit my portfolio here.

Thanks as always for reading, and see you again soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2022

What I’m Watching: Tehran

Tehran: Season 2, Episode 6 “Faraz’s Choice” (B+)

Even though we knew it was going to happen and that Marjan had called Faraz to make him aware of what he needed to do, it was still an intense moment when Tamar walked out to find Faraz right there waiting for her. What I hadn’t calculated was the immediacy with which Faraz being forced to cooperate with Marjan would be revealed to those who could use it against him. He didn’t even get that far without first insisting on doing his own investigation, which resulted in him touching the racket made for Mohammadi poisoning him. Pulling a gun on Marjan didn’t do much for him, as she pointed out, and though he tried not to let Nahid in on what was happening, she was paying enough attention to realize that something was severely wrong. She was understandably furious to learn the truth, and the bigger issue was that Ali put it all together too, respectful enough of his boss to allow him the opportunity to turn himself in first. Killing himself probably wouldn’t have helped since Nahid may have paid the price for his treason, but now he’s lost his closest ally and is going to have to find a way to explain the situation, likely to pin everything on Ali, provided that doesn’t upset Marjan enough to threaten Nahid’s life. Tamar did a great job of getting close to Peyman, and now she and Milad are ready to hack his racecar, a daring plan that feels like it could easily go off the rails.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

What I’m Watching: Physical (Season Premiere)

Physical: Season 2, Episode 1 “Don’t You Want Me” (B+)

It’s a rare case these days of a show returning for another season in under a year, and it’s nice to have this one back. I’ll admit I didn’t remember much of what happened last time, but this new introduction was helpful in catching me up to what’s going on. It’s interesting to see how Sheila is now operating, determined to control her instincts but also just as set on not letting her husband or anyone else control her. Danny is still as clueless as ever, thinking that he’s doing the right thing for Sheila but then hopeless to understand what she really needs, as evidenced by him saying he “needed to better” for her only to have her give him pleasure. It was good to see her lash out, even if he thinks that means she’s overreacting, and I like that Greta is encouraging her to leave him, something that she insists she’ll do even though she can’t do it yet. Going to the motel for one last time had a different ending than in season one, and Breem is already getting his wife angry enough by flirting in another language in their own home, so let’s hope she doesn’t find out what’s going on anytime soon. Bunny is likelier to come for her more directly, and having Tyler film her new vide only to have her very unsanitary houseguests tape over it is only getting her angrier about what could have been. I’m eager to see what she does next.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Boys

The Boys: Season 3, Episode 3 “Barbary Coast” (B+)

Homelander’s supremacist outburst went over much worse than expected in that, like Trump, his hateful rhetoric was embraced by his base. It was even more terrifying to hear how he responded to Starlight’s threat to release the tape, daring her to do so in order for him to have an excuse to literally go scorched earth and obliterate so many cities just for the fun of it. Announcing on air that he and Starlight were an item was particularly bold and horrible, but she went for it, leaning into the deception so that she can continue working with Hughie, Butcher, and everyone else to find that weapon that might be capable of killing him. The worst offense Homelander committed was forcing Deep to eat Timothy alive, something that his wife pushed him to do so that he could fit in, and Supersonic joining the Seven is not going to be a good thing for him. Given how awful Homelander is to people whose ethnicities and religions he doesn’t hate is bad enough, so I can only imagine how he would have treated either of the female candidates. The flashbacks to the Payback project with a younger Grace and younger Stan felt like a different era but with the same cocky heroes, not quite aware of how much destruction they could cause but just as unwilling to listen to anyone who would tell them what they couldn’t do. Butcher has his own issues now with his fire eyes, and pushing Ryan away isn’t going to be sufficient to keep his newfound powers under control.

Monday, June 13, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Boys

The Boys: Season 3, Episode 2 “The Only Man in the Sky” (B+)

I’m glad to see that Hughie took what he saw and fully understood it, and now he’s doing research into Victoria’s background while trying to play it cool around her, something that is not going particularly well. We did get some more insight into her history, and to the relationship she has with Stan, who she had to call do cleanup. It was interesting to see the different facets of the investigation into Soldier Boy, with Kimiko and Frenchie going after Crimson Countess, who I hadn’t realized was played by Laurie Holden from “The Walking Dead,” and Butcher working and then ultimately bludgeoning Gunpowder. While the Deep appears to be doing well in his career rehabilitation with his own movie spectacular, apparently titled “Not Without My Dolphin,” A-Train is having considerably more trouble getting his off the ground, with his idea to make a video game about slavery not received well at all. Homelander’s birthday celebration was a recipe for disaster, and trying to force Starlight to sing to him to make her seem subservient and Marilyn Monroe-like was cruel and tasteless. She did fine spinning it, but after he had his rooftop encounter with the woman who ultimately decided she didn’t want to end her life, he was ready to explode. The news about Stormfront pushed him over the edge, and it’s going to be hard for him to live down his public takedown of the entire audience, which will make them fear him but definitely not see him as the hero.

Sunday, June 12, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Boys (Season Premiere)

The Boys: Season 3, Episode 1 “Payback” (B+)

This is my first time watching this show along with most of the world, though getting through three episodes dropped all at once is taking me a little longer than everyone else since I’m also currently focused on Tribeca coverage. It’s interesting to see things in a much more docile state, with Hughie literally bumping into Homelander on the red carpet for the premiere of the new Seven movie, which recast the role of Stormfront while everyone else played their own parts. It was jarring, though I suppose it shouldn’t have been, to learn that Stormfront is still alive, and that Homelander only rejects the idea of a master race because he believes he’s superior to all. Stan putting forth the idea that Starlight could become the co-captain of the Seven is only going to escalate tension, and the fact that Homelander is trying to negotiate, in a way, with Butcher means that the world is truly upside down. That opening scene with Termite was quite intense and I wasn’t sure what was happening, but it just feeds into the notion that these superheroes are out of control and always seek to cover up their tracks rather than do the right thing in a bad situation. Seeing how close Hughie and Victoria have become made it seem like she might be taking a break from exploding people’s heads, but that final scene forced her to do so, which means Hughie may now be in a more dangerous circumstance than ever before. This should be one wild season.

What I’m Watching: Under the Banner of Heaven (Series Finale)

Under the Banner of Heaven: Season 1, Episode 7 “Blood Atonement” (B+)

I’m not sure what I expected to see in this finale, but it was unnerving how simple everything was and how easily it happened. Brenda saw Dan coming in and tried to stop him, and then she was helpless to do anything else when he overpowered her. The fact that no one even tried to step in when Dianna was crying out for help as Samuel tried to take Matilda aware to face her own divine punishment was very disturbing, and that explains how the brothers were able to get away with all this, since no one bothered to do anything and they just marched on with their alleged religious orders. Dianna demanding that he bear his testimony was an important indicator of how she, like Pyre, still believes after all this in the tenets of their religion. Bill rejected efforts to make his people’s history one of cooperation since that wasn’t the story he had heard, and didn’t appreciate the lies they had been told and the way it had been spun to make it seem like they weren’t manipulated victims. After some prodding from Bill, Pyre was able to realize that Ron’s next move would be to kill Dan, or the other way around, and it was telling that, when they were finally arrested, Ron remained stoically silent and Dan once again cried out to those around him to ask what laws of heaven he had broken. Ending on Pyre coming back to his family was a strong choice, emphasizing the heart of this harrowing but very well-told series.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Andrew Garfield as Pyre and Daisy Edgar-Jones as Brenda

Pilot Review: This Is Going to Hurt

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 8 “Crossing That Line” (B+)

Well, one problem that was going to be crippling for Ruddy presented itself and then was resolved by the end of the episode, thanks to Caesar taking out Gallo before he was able to squeeze out of Mr. Producer what he thought he had been set to pay Joe, who may be alive after all. Gallo showing up with his men when Ruddy just wanted to get some rest had the opposite effect, and even though things are mostly going well, he still doesn’t need any more stress. Right now, the biggest thorn in his side is Evans, who, as he correctly noted, hasn’t been doing well since he went to go visit Ali in Texas and is still just as over-the-top as ever. I did like that he was pitching another film that we all know will become successful, “Chinatown,” describing it as a movie about water, which doesn’t make it sound great, and came out several years before Polanski fled the country while facing rape charges. While Barry tried to get Evans disciplined for firing Jack without his approval, Bludhorn didn’t seem to care much about it. I enjoyed hearing Marlon speak his thoughts, but the most compelling on-set incident was how Ruddy and Francis chose to deal with Gianni hitting his costar. The fact that Gianni was thrilled that James Caan beat him up showed that he hadn’t learned his lesson, but hopefully Bettye was able to impress upon him the seriousness of the warning he had been given.

What I’m Watching: The Staircase (Penultimate Episode)

The Staircase: Season 1, Episode 7 “Seek and Ye Shall” (B+)

It’s definitely disconcerting to see someone else killed in a shockingly similar manner to Kathleen and to learn that the men responsible – both the victim and the apparent perpetrator – had been involved with Michael. That he didn’t remember one of them suggests that he was either so rampant in his hookups that he couldn’t keep track or that he shouldn’t be relied upon since he only tells the convenient parts of the truth. His desire to have a retrial, something which he says he needs rather than wants, is just going to make much more work for everyone, and the amount of time that has passed isn’t likely to be favorable to him. Sophie has been so set on proving his innocence but now she too is seeing problematic indicators that he might be responsible. The investigation into the corruption that exists within the DA’s office may tip things in Michael’s favor, even if it has nothing to do with his guilt or his innocence. Martha learning what Margaret already knew is yet another sign that Michael’s decisions are entirely self-serving, no matter how they affect other people. The brief appearance we saw with Kathleen was full of intensity, with her being told she wouldn’t get a year-end bonus and realizing just how dismal her prospects were. Michael responded in the worst way possible, telling her she used to be a good time, and she had an equally cruel comeback for him that he did deserve. Kathleen’s attic ascension was also formidable, and it all contributes to motive for why Michael would have wanted to kill her.

What I’m Watching: Hacks (Season Finale)

Hacks: Season 2, Episode 8 “The One, The Only” (B+)

There wasn’t too much drama in this finale and it didn’t end on a big cliffhanger, but it still felt very worthwhile and sets the stage for a season three I’d come back to right away. Eight episodes doesn’t feel long enough for a show this good, but at least this round was just as good as the first one. It’s crazy that Deborah would need to spend so much money at an auction in order to get Marty’s attention and then to trade him for the privilege of using the venue she so desperately needed. Ming-Na Wen’s Janet reappeared as a threat intent on taking all of Jimmy’s clients, including Deborah and not including Ava, who would still want her to know who she was even if she wasn’t going to switch representation, but Deborah didn’t seem like she was ever considering going with something different even if she received her politely. The soda-drinking man next to Jimmy dying during the show was also a road bump that he wisely chose to spin as a survival story that no one would ask questions about in the moment, leading to a taping so successful that it was apparently the subject of a bidding war from all the networks. Ava coming back in the middle of her side gig was all the confirmation Deborah needed to let her go so that she could do well, and her dropping the lawsuit just raises the question of what reason they’ll have to interact going forward. I like that Marcus got some closure related to his breakup with Wilson, and even though Kayla is still out of control, she’s actually doing decent things for Jimmy. I really like this show, and can’t wait for a renewal announcement!

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder

Saturday, June 11, 2022

What I’m Watching: Hacks

Hacks: Season 2, Episode 7 “On the Market” (B+)

Of course Deborah owns a side mansion, something that she hasn’t been able to sell because, like with most aspects of her life, she refuses to compromise. She’s also acutely not aware of how bad things are with her career, namely that Michael wanted to have 98-year-old Mort take her on as a client since he thought Jimmy was wasting his time. His quitting scene wasn’t quite as dramatic as Ari Gold’s big exit on “Entourage,” but it was still pretty formidable, and I like that Kayla said she was coming with him even though he really didn’t want her to, and his pick to join his team, Silas, refused to do so because he had gotten a promotion that Jimmy admitted he deserved. Susie Essman’s Elaine probably also isn’t the best choice to work with Deborah on her special since she seems to be even more set in her ways, which include eating pancakes with a spoon because it apparently yields a better syrup-to-pancake ratio. I thoroughly enjoyed the cringe-worthiness of Ava going back to her condo and sleeping with her subletter, who enjoyed the flirting at first but wasn’t so into it in the morning when Ava once again got told she looked tired while she was sleeping and had slept in until the afternoon. Ava’s legal prospects don’t sound great, especially since her lawyer only agreed to meet with her if she would simultaneously give her son comedy advice. Elaine not bothering to tell Ava about her ideas is also not going to make for a good working relationship.

Take Three: Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Season 1, Episode 3 “Part III” (B)

This hour was perfectly fine, but I’m not sure why everyone seems to think it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever seen. To me, it’s just filler content, since we know how things turn out with Obi-Wan and Darth Vader coming face-to-face in the first film, and so having them interact in this manner was free of some of the suspense it should have had because we knew how it would end. The competition between Reva and the Fifth Brother is something new, but they’re also not part of the mythology and wouldn’t likely survive past the events of this show to return for any of the many other Star Wars series currently on the air or in the development. Reva managed to be crafty and figure out a way to get close to Leia so that she could play her hand again to get Obi-Wan back in her grasp, but presumably that will only make Darth Vader madder since he wants to be the one to kill him, or I guess to trap him in a ring of fire and then have his hapless stormtroopers capture him? The scene in the transport was more worthwhile since it was just a matter of how they were going to get caught and how long it would take, though Obi-Wan didn’t out himself as a Jedi by instead using his shooting skills. I was pleased to recognize Indira Varma, a familiar face from “Human Target” and “Game of Thrones,” as Tala, the Imperial officer who works to smuggle out Jedis.

Pilot Review: Tom Swift

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: Superman and Lois

Superman and Lois: Season 2, Episode 12 “Lies That Bind” (B+)

Lana definitely did not take the news of Clark being Superman very well, but she did choose to take her frustrations out on Lois for seeking her out as a friend when that meant having to lie to her, not something that she said Clark couldn’t control when he found out he had powers as a kid. That news made Lois upset too, but, as usual, parenting and human drama can only take up so much space since there is an interdimensional crisis happening that threatens the stability of the entire universe. I like that we’re getting to see Tal have a chance to redeem himself, especially as his doppelganger met a rather grisly end which looked painful and only served to fortify Ally. For all that, John seemed relatively relaxed and had time to cook dinner for his daughter and the Kent boys, who are at least making decent use of their time while they’re skipping school and trying to stay away from those who might trigger them in some way. I have a feeling that Jordan is going to end up using his powers in front of Sarah and it’s not going to be well-received since he wasn’t the one to tell her, but for now she’s busy bonding with her father, which is a healthy thing, even though the way that he got her a platform to play her music was far too tied in to the affair he had that led to the breakup of his marriage.

Pilot Review: Pistol

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: Breeders

Breeders: Season 3, Episode 5 “No Can Do” (B+)

It’s so interesting to see how Ally and Paul have different approaches to their work, with Ally dead-set on doing everything she can to save her business while Paul got so set on the promotion even though he admitted that he’s not an ambitious guy and is happy where he is. Ally was ready to channel her anger to allow herself to achieve even more before it all hit her following Leah and Alex’s offer to help fund her company, and ditching Ava’s birthday party to drive an hour to get her medication felt like a release she really needed, even if Ava is going to resent her for a while because of it. Grace being picked up because her cousin died and then returning in the middle of everyone singing happy birthday to Ava was uncomfortable, but, unlike Jacob, who isn’t realizing what his best friend needs, Grace acknowledged the unfortunate timing and Ava hadn’t wanted a fuss anyway. Paul’s conversations with Luke continue to be the best part of this show right now, and I like that Paul talked to Luke rather than Ally because he figured that he would be able to relate. Acknowledging that he had never lost his temper at work was an important step, as was his unexpected decision to go ahead and apologize and be forced to gleefully agree to changes that Brandon wanted to make after just having arrived from Chicago. The best line of the episode was Jackie’s summary of checking your privilege: “the same as counting your blessings, but you’re supposed to feel guiltier.”

Friday, June 10, 2022

What I’m Watching: We Own This City (Series Finale)

We Own This City: Season 1, Episode 6 “Part Six” (B+)

This was hardly a satisfying finale since the system has clearly not been fixed, and even those who seemed moderately willing to do something about it knew their time was limited, like Kevin, who was indeed fired shortly after his press conference. Seeing how his replacement did exactly the opposite of what he had promised and that the mayor by his side was also indicted for corruption was disheartening, especially since this investigation did take down some of the more problematic elements. Erika and John seemed legitimately shocked by Jenkins cockily asserting his innocence, something that wasn’t even on the table given the evidence they had. Watching his former colleagues slowly stop talking only to start again when it benefited them was fascinating, and it does seem like the only thing more appealing than skimming off the top is making sure the blame falls squarely on someone else. Hersl’s defense was particularly weak, arguing that he did commit some of the crimes suggested but not to the severity alleged. Ending on that seizure and then the big speech by Jenkins about all the things they shouldn’t do that they very much did was harrowing and haunting, and the idea that he still thought he shouldn’t have been held accountable is astonishing. I wasn’t sure throughout if these people all existed, and, thanks to a bit of research now, it seems they did, which makes this show all the more powerful and important. I also appreciated that I had my captions on while watching that identified Justin Fenton, the author of the book this show is based on, as playing himself and asking a question during the press conference. This has been an unsettling but very worthwhile series with some very strong performances.

Series grade: B+
Series MVP: Jon Bernthal as Jenkins

What I’m Watching: Barry

Barry: Season 3, Episode 6 “710N” (A-)

I’m still feeling pretty floored by that Los Angeles freeway sequence with the dirt bikes, which felt truly immersive and was stunning to watch. All the indiscriminate shooting and civilian casualties don’t feel good in light of recent events and the all-too-easy access to guns that those who shouldn’t possess them have, but that also feels tied to the message of this show. Barry is not equipped to be going through life in the way that he does, taking so many lives just because he was told to – and paid – by someone else, to the point that there could be multiple parties pursuing for revenge and only the last would be able to get to him. Speaking that text to Sally in the clothing store was a prime example of how he’s not able to take social cues, and that ending was masterful, with what seemed like it was going to be an uncomfortable experience for different reasons turning into an apparent poisoning attempt by a rightfully vindictive Sharon. We know that he can’t die, but that doesn’t make it any less intense. I enjoyed the through-thread of Mitch the barista giving everyone in line advice, and Hank’s reaction to it was probably my favorite part. As Sally scrambles to get her career back on track, Cousineau is finally doing well, but pushing to work with Annie and give her the chance he took away from her might not turn out as well as he expects. I’m intrigued to meet Janice’s father, played by Robert Wisdom, whose introduction was done in a very purposeful way.

What I’m Watching: The First Lady

The First Lady: Season 1, Episode 7 “Nadir” (B+)

It’s really hard to watch this episode and see the devastation that Barack felt when he found out about the elementary school shooting in Sandy Hook and know that, ten years later, nothing has changed and this happened again. I suppose that’s one of the effective things about this show, that it will continuously be relevant. Even if segregation no longer exists and did endure long after FDR’s time in office, there is still rampant racism in our society. There are still men who call women hysterical and do nothing to try to help when there is actually a problem, instead moving to manage it and contain it so that someone more capable can step in to take the lead. Don and Dick coming over on Christmas Eve to get Betty on message was intrusive, but Dick telling Betty at James’ funeral that he had put together resumes for Nancy’s replacement was outright cruel, only confirming to her that she was thought of as expendable and insignificant. While Franklin said to his disapproving daughter that he wouldn’t be able to do anything to end segregation because then he would lose support to do anything more, Eleanor received affirmation of her decision to publicly resign from an unexpected source, her mother-in-law. I like that Tommy and Eleanor both concluded that there must have been something seriously wrong with Sara for her to deliver a compliment, an important moment of humor in an otherwise very appropriately serious episode. Ford laughing at Chevy Chase’s impression of him was also fun.

What I’m Watching: I Love That For You

I Love That For You: Season 1, Episode 5 “Daddy’s Lil’ Cookies” (B+)

It’s not going to be easy for Joanna to keep this story going now that Patricia is letting her in to her life in a small way. Having her father come in to pose as her doctor wasn’t a terrible idea since he was able was speak from personal experience of having a daughter who had cancer and then got better, but he wasn’t happy with Joanna that she made him do that, because he had to relive all of the fear that he had then which he had kept hidden from her. Beth Ann snapping photos of the two of them won’t be a good thing since she’ll likely be able to dig into her past and realize that Joanna’s story doesn’t add up. When Patricia tried to reduce her to her cancer and said that’s all she would ever be, Joanna took that advice in a big way and went over to get things going with Jordan, which was certainly awkward and will surely change how things are at work. I was thrilled to see the always terrific Martha Kelly on yet another show following her appearances on “Hacks” and “Euphoria,” and I like that she knew the number, and then letter, that Joanna was thinking of to prove that she wasn’t actually a psychic. Jackie’s $25,000 tab is definitely a red flag of addictive behavior, and Darcy being so cruelly talked down to by Patricia when she took another thing away from him isn’t going to help his mental state.

What I’m Watching: Gaslit

Gaslit: Season 1, Episode 6 “Tuffy” (B+)

It was interesting to see Frank show back up in the limelight when he really doesn’t want to be associated with all of this Watergate press, and it feels like he’s living a completely different existence. Getting let go from his job because he was too much of a distraction was an unfortunate fate, but he also didn’t seem to want to fight against the machine he managed to sort of stop through simply doing his job in the first place. John’s attempt to convince Martha not to testify by saying that he supported whatever she decided to do didn’t seem to be working at first and then looked like it might, but one of the great enemies of compromise is the introduction of an uncooperative element that just shows how much better victory would be. I’m always thrilled to see Amy Landecker in any role, and she was perfectly cast as Lurleen, one of the few people who was happy to see Martha in Arkansas but who revealed a deeper shame that, coupled with the cruel way she was treated, pushed her to go through with what she had intended all along. Magruder’s testimony was a disaster worthy of mockery by puppets, and Dean going in without a lawyer didn’t seem like the best plan. While he did decently and felt quite good about it, the bombshell news that there were bugs in the office is going to ruin all that. Even while suffering through a miscarriage, Mo has done a great job of bolstering him, which may not continue if certain conviction looms.

What I’m Watching: Stranger Things (Season Premiere)

Stranger Things: Season 4, Episode 1 “Chapter One: The Hellfire Club” (B+)

It took me a while to get through season three of this show after I (somewhat) hastily caught up on seasons one and two when the second one was released, and I had planned to try to watch these episodes in quick succession. But a combination of being very behind on other shows, preparing to cover a film festival, and the insane runtime of these episodes means that I’m going to spread this one out again over the course of a number of weeks, which will definitely take me through the release of the final two episodes of the season that are apparently even longer than any of these. I see that as a positive since this show is really so immersive and feels like such a trip each extended hour. The opening scene was indeed tough to watch given the recent elementary school shooting, and it didn’t feel germane to the rest of the episode, though I’m sure it will all connect soon. Eleven’s adjustment to life in LA sounded solid at the start, but she’s now falling victim to general teenage cruelty, and trying to use her powers only to have them not work isn’t helping her popularity at all. Jonathan and Nancy are both struggling to keep up their relationship, while Steve seems to be very encouraging of Robin going for a romance that she’s not sure will work. Max is angry and not into spending time with anyone, while Mike and Dustin have new problems that aren’t quite otherworldly but are taking up a lot of their time and energy. Eddie and Chrissy are interesting new characters, though after what Chrissy endured in this episode, I’m not sure we’re going to be seeing much more of her. I’m not so into the possession aspect of this series, but I know it will still manage to be an immersive and intense season.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Round Two: Obi-Wan Kenobi

I had the chance to review the first two episodes of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” for - head over there to read my take.

Pilot Review: Obi-Wan Kenobi

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 5 “Double Fault” (B+)

Faraz may be one of the villains on this show, but it’s also fair that he might see how people are out to get him. He previously saw his wife in danger when he was getting too close to the truth, and now Marjan has taken the risky step of calling to outright tell him that he needs to back off while he’s looking straight at Tamar. It’s a wonder that Milad’s still alive at this point given the Mossad plan to have him taken care of by Amir, who was able to pose as a janitor and get close enough to take him out only to have to move aside so that he could be released. Tamar’s decision to enter a police station was a questionable one, especially since she was on a wanted poster. But Vahid was perfectly happy to play the hero and show up to get Milad released, and I’m not sure exactly what his plan was since Tamar found out very quickly that he was the one who got Milad arrested in the first place. For all of the obstacles they’ve had to endure, Tamar did manage to get close to Peyman and to get him to trust her, and as long as Faraz listens to Marjan’s warning and chooses to leave rather than stick around and come face-to-face with Tamar, they may well be able to move ahead to the next phase of the plan, with ever-increasing numbers of people who know what’s going on.

What I’m Watching: Under the Banner of Heaven (Penultimate Episode)

Under the Banner of Heaven: Season 1, Episode 6 “Revelation” (B+)

One of the most fascinating aspects of this show is how Pyre grapples with the fact that these people share some of the same tenets of faith, even though they’ve clearly interpreted things very differently. It makes sense that Allen might be the one he could most relate to, someone who always looked to the apparent piety of his older brothers and ultimately rejected them because he saw what it did to them. Allen slapping Brenda when she confronted him for not being around was an important turning point, and it was difficult to watch him reject the authority of the church council only to have them then send Brenda right back to him so that she wouldn’t abandon the relationship. Betty was rightfully devastated about how she sent Brenda to the church rather than giving her the help she might have needed, and Pyre affirmed to her that she had done what she thought was right. That moment where Josie wandered in to the kitchen while Pyre was talking to Betty and her father helped to really soften the mood, if that was at all possible. It’s going to be difficult for Pyre to muster spiritual strength, something that Rebecca has asked of him so that he can show resilience for his daughters. Bill finding a seemingly cooperative Prophet Onias doesn’t say much about where Ron might be now, but finding a different form of salvation through polygamy doesn’t appear to have given him a helpful perspective, certainly not for his return home in the middle of this episode.

What I’m Watching: The Offer

The Offer: Season 1, Episode 7 “Mr. Producer” (B+)

Among the many obstacles to “The Godfather” being made in the first place, it’s crazy to think that Al Pacino’s questionable star power was one of them. I like that Francis knew exactly what to do with that and how to get him to up his game when Bludhorn was there watching, and he got the seal of approval from the man who apparently doesn’t like anybody, which is a very big deal. Working with the mob has his advantages and disadvantages, with Caesar freaking Bettye out when he brutally beat up her mugger and then figuring out an easy solution to the problem of the restaurant owner who wanted them out before they shot by locking him in a closet. Unfortunately, it also means that certain allies, like Joe getting shot during a rally by Gallo, who was able to reach an agreement with Carlo Gambino and then fired the gun while Ruddy looked on. In her visit to the set, Rosie couldn’t quite piece together what Ruddy really did, and I enjoyed her brief conversation with Bettye. Despite the apparent loss of Joe, Ruddy is in much better shape now, with Bludhorn’s seal of approval and toxic elements like Aram and Jack definitely dismissed from the set. Lenny also turned out to be just the right person to come in and take over a role, even if, like Brando, wasn’t going to be memorizing his lines. While the production is doing well, Evans is seeing his personal life implode, something that’s very much his fault.