Sunday, July 31, 2022

Pilot Review: Keep Breathing

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.

Take Three: The Resort

The Resort: Season 1, Episode 3 “Tempus Exhaurire” (B)

I’m trying to be into this show since I do like the actors involved and I think that there is some value to the story, but the pace at which it’s proceeding, especially in the present, just isn’t all that inviting. Noah was right that he and Emma should probably go to couples’ counseling when she insisted on climbing down an elevator shaft in an abandoned resort, not thinking until much later about how they might get out of this particularly trepidatious situation. There is something intriguing about how they ended up in exactly the same situation as Sam and Violet did years earlier, hiding in the closet after thinking that they were alone, and there are so many question marks raised by the infinite number of post-its and that very detailed mural that had Balthazar, Luna, Sam, and Violet in it. Now that Balthazar showed up, grabbed the phone, and tried to run, he’s unconscious and possibly dead, and the phone, which started vibrating because a call was coming in, has fallen down, likely never to be found again. We did get to see Sam’s parents and Hannah again, which was fun, and it’s always a treat to have Nick Offerman around, especially in a more dramatic one like this when he was drinking alone by himself on the anniversary of his wife’s death. These first three episodes were presented all together, and so I suppose it’s worth seeing what a second week with a single installment has to offer.

Round Two: The Resort

The Resort: Season 1, Episode 2 A Noxious Toothworm (B)

It’s interesting to see the two different time periods play out here, but there’s no denying that this show has a seriously strange vibe to it. Emma and Noah were horrified to read what they thought were texts recounting a graphic, sticky situation related to sex, and only later realized that Violet was actually literally applying glue to Sam’s head in the wake of his unfortunate collision with a tree. They formed a warm relationship but then the episode ended with Violet texting him and then looking up to see him sitting very cozily with his girlfriend Hannah, and then there’s the presence of her happy-go-lucky father Murray, who seems entirely oblivious to the fact that she’s met someone else on their trip. In the present, Emma and Noah got into a lot of trouble when they tried asking the wrong people questions and were almost on the hook for a very expensive dress, and Emma is all about solving this case, even if local law enforcement is warning her that it’s a very bad idea to keep pressing. It was a weirdly optimistic and haunting ending with them going swimming before going to find the room the next day, and Emma pulling a clue out of her own mouth. There’s also the matter of this Balthazar, who is now very much aware of the fact that they have Sam’s phone but doesn’t seem quite as threatening as his reputation would make him seem, not that it won’t still make him intimidating to Emma and Noah.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Pilot Review: The Resort

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.

Emmy Catch-Up: Squid Game (Season Finale)

Squid Game: Season 1, Episode 9 “One Lucky Day” (B)

I was expecting some late-breaking twist that would add an entirely new dimension to all of this and frame it in a new context, and while we did get something like that, it wasn’t what I had hoped. That’s partially because Player 1 seemed like the sole element of true goodness on this show, and it turns out that he was actually the most guilty one, forcing others to suffer and only joining in since he thought it would be much more fun to play the game than to only be a spectator. I should have known that not seeing his death onscreen and only hearing the gunshot wasn’t just a way of sparing viewers from watching a tough death but instead an outlier, since all the other players, as far as I can remember, died onscreen. The final game was actually quite lackluster, and Player 456 trying to quit the game and forfeit the prize made it all seem so worthless, which I suppose is the point. Giving a portion of the money to Player 218’s mother and having her take in Player 67’s brother was a nice way of paying his debts to the people he was closest to, and all seemed good as he was headed with a new haircut to America for a new chance. But then he saw that same man slapping and betting someone else, which reengaged all that trauma. I know that a second season wasn’t initially in the cards but this ending definitely did leave the door open for what’s coming next. I still fail to see the real point of it, but the production values and performances were indeed strong.

Season grade: B
Season MVP: Oh Yeong-so as Player 1

Emmy Catch-Up: Squid Game

Squid Game: Season 1, Episode 8 “Front Man” (B)

It’s always strange to see in the age of streaming where episodes can be however long an installment that’s considerably shorter than the rest. Maybe it’s a sign of good storytelling, that a particular piece of the plot wouldn’t take the normal length and so it’s not overstuffed, but it was still jarring to have this episode clock in at just thirty-two minutes when the rest have been much closer to an hour. There were still plenty of big developments, namely the death of two main characters, leaving just two players left. After tricking Player 1 into losing the game of marbles and then getting a sentimental thank you for playing with him, Player 456 took a very different approach with Player 67, who had apparently been wounded by the glass from the previous game and didn’t display much of an appetite for that steak with a side of steak knife to go. Pounding on the door for a doctor when he saw that she was bleeding was a sign of compassion, whereas Player 218 seized that moment to slit her throat and ensure that Player 456 was his only competition. Their argument at the beginning of the episode guarantees that things won’t end peacefully, but Player 218 is the more skilled and intelligent, so it will be an uphill battle for the main character of this show to win the whole thing. The Front Man revealing himself to be Hwang’s brother was a twist that didn’t entirely make sense given that they’ve been in close proximity and Hwang has heard his voice, but it does beg the question of whether the Front Man is actually in charge of anything or if he’s trapped in this depraved game too.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Emmy Catch-Up: Squid Game

Squid Game: Season 1, Episode 7 “VIPs” (B)

It’s very jarring to hear English spoken on this show, even though we did hear the Front Man answer the phone in English before this. The idea that there are wealthy men who come in masks to witness the misery of the players in person makes it even more horrific than it’s been so far, and the fact that they bet on particular players to win is also despicable even though it feels in line with what we’ve come to expect from this game so far. The suicide of the man whose parternship with his wife ended up resulting in her death was sad but unsurprising, and apparently Player 212 suffered no consequences from not getting a partner since the uneven numbers were not her fault. This episode was high on body count due to the very precarious nature of the latest game, and the two characters whose demise was most felt went out in style. Player 212 was there to taunt Player 101 at the very end when she saw him express fear and selfishness, not prepared to follow the rules because that would put him at risk, and she kept true to her promise to kill him as they both hurtled to the ground together. The Front Man turning the lights off when the man who had worked with glass before didn’t seem very fair even though no one’s supposed to have an advantage, and now we’re down to the three core players: 456, 67, and 218. Hwang has very damaging information and appears to have escaped, but the fact that the Front Man has so many soldiers at his disposal knows exactly who Hwang is makes his chances for survival seem very unlikely.

Emmy Catch-Up: Squid Game

Squid Game: Season 1, Episode 6 “Gganbu” (B)

I’ve been careful not to do too much research into these characters for fear that I might get plenty spoiled for myself watching this show so many months after it first aired. I’m glad I didn’t since we lost two of the main cast members in this episode, including Emmy nominee Oh Yeong-su, who was the very endearing Player 1. I had a feeling that people were going to have to turn on their partners, something that Player 218 knew and why he chose Player 199 as his partner. He was particularly devious in how he stole his marbles when he convinced him that there was going to be a way for them both to survive, while Player 456 felt much worse about it. Player 1 indicated that he knew that Player 456 was taking advantage of him, and thanking him for playing right before he got executed was a sad way to see him depart. This was also a great showcase for Lee Yoo-mi, who earned an Emmy nomination in the guest actress category for her performance as Player 240, who initially seemed quite prickly but then ended up being an unexpectedly endearing and all-too-brief part of the show, forgetting multiple times as she was talking to Player 67 that they couldn’t both go on to accomplish what they wanted. Sacrificing herself so that Player 67 could be with those who mattered to her was entirely selfless and a rare bit of sentimentality on this show. Player 212’s fate is a mystery, since it theoretically wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t find a partner due to the newly odd number of players, and I have a feeling that, since we didn’t see her get killed, she’s still alive.

Emmy Catch-Up: Squid Game

Squid Game: Season 1, Episode 5 “A Fair World” (B)

It’s strange to see some ethics come into play when people are being brutally murdered for arbirtrary reasons on a regular basis on this show. The Front Man’s assertion that whether someone was eating or selling organs didn’t matter, but he had messed with the number one rule of the game, which wasn’t keeping your mask on but rather ensuring equality, something that these people had endured in their regular lives but didn’t need to here. I wouldn’t really agree with that given that there are still disadvantages like physical strength and age, and even those who managed to be exceedingly clever, like Player 1, are still subject to the limits of their own health, as his high fever indicated before his accident when the guards came in. I would imagine that there will now be even stricter protocols to ensure the players stay in line even though it was the guards who were abusing the rules in the first place, and Player 101 surely won’t be happy that he’s lost the asset who can preview what’s coming next. The man currently posing as Guard 29 has had his cover blown but not his true identity, and getting out is going to be next to impossible. Learning more about the past lives of the players, like Player 456 and Player 199, is interesting, and they obviously all have something to contribute based on what they’ve experienced and the reason that they ended up in this place aside from the whole lack of money thing.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Emmy Catch-Up: Squid Game

Squid Game: Season 1, Episode 4 “Stick to the Team” (B)

This episode got off to a violent start, one that was all about the players beating each other up rather than being terrorized by the guards. It wasn’t too surprising to learn that they had manipulated things to incite unrest by purposely giving them less food, and Player 101 wasn’t about to clarify that he hadn’t taken seconds before bludgeoning the person who dared to question him to death. It was interesting to see Player 1 get up and tell them all to stop or they would die, and he was the absolute MVP of the team when he calmly explained how they could win tug-of-war without being physically superior to the other team. It feels like each of the games is getting deadlier, with machine gun fire taking out anyone who was moving in the first, gunshots to the head felling them in the second, and now everyone falling to their brutal deaths when the rope got cut and they got pulled all the way forward. Though we didn’t see exactly how this one ended, I have a feeling that the team featuring most of the regular players isn’t going to end up losing. Player 101 may have a doctor with inside information on his team, but he managed to alienate Player 212 quite egregiously, to the point that she’s promised to kill him following his betrayal. I’m curious to see if this group of ten will remain together or if they’re going to part their ways when the next challenge forces them to be more cutthroat.

Emmy Catch-Up: Squid Game

Squid Game: Season 1, Episode 3 “The Man with the Umbrella” (B)

This episode took us back into the brutality and senselessness of the games, something that makes me feel more secure about my initial decision not to continue watching this show because of its disturbing nature. There’s somehow something worse about each player who failed the second game being shot in the head than them being gunned down by machine gun fire since the former is much more deliberate and intentional while the latter is more random. I also had a feeling that the guard who was forced at gunpoint to take off his mask was going to be killed too, and the fact that the Front Man had to come onto the playground to do it himself suggested the seriousness of that incident. It’s not all that reassuring that Hwang is on the ship since he’s likely to be found out soon, and dumping a guard’s body with his ID on it won’t help anyone find him, if that’s even what his intention was by doing so in the moment. Player 212 is playing with fire - both figuratively and literally - as she’s making a scene and not being intimidated by the guards, helping Player 67 to go undiscovered when she went into the vent and then throwing a lighter to Player 101 to help him finish the game successfully. Player 456 wasn’t subtle once he realized that he needed to lick the cookie to melt it, and it will be interesting to see how that perhaps unintentional act of community will be perceived by the game’s overlords.

Emmy Catch-Up: Squid Game

Squid Game: Season 1, Episode 2 “Hell” (B+)

I’ll admit that this is a show I probably should have caught up on a while ago, but after watching the first episode, I wasn’t terribly intrigued despite the insane popularity it had. Now that it’s gone and won many awards and is now a major Emmy player, I felt the time was right to finally dive in. What I didn’t expect about this second installment is that it would take place entirely outside of the games, with a third rule in the contract cited so that everyone could take a vote to determine if the games would indeed continue. Showing the prize money in the giant piggy bank in very dramatic fashion surely swayed many of the people, particularly because they were all targeted for specific reasons, but it was Oh’s vote that ultimately made the difference. Kang once again demonstrated her cleverness and resilience when she had Seong untie her first and she tried to leave him there, choosing briefly to trust that he would keep the vow he had just made not to demand his money back. No one seems to be doing particularly well on the outside, and even though Oh has the best attitude, even he admitted that there’s much more to live for in the life-or-death environment of the games. The police didn’t respond well to what they thought was a prank from Seong, but Hwang has his own reasons for finding the truth which should lead to interesting places and highly precarious situations.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

What I’m Watching: What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows: Season 4, Episode 4 “The Night Market” (B+)

It’s a wonder that Guillermo has been able to survive this long, with Nandor irresponsibly talking loudly about how his familiar could beat any of the others in the death fights at the night market and then eagerly volunteering him up for some fatal combat. Guillermo did accomplish quite a bit by just standing there and refusing to fight, and the announcer and onlookers were not rooting for any humans to make it out alive. Nandor was annoyed that Guillermo was embarrassing him but fortunately they were able to figure out a way to stage his death so that they could both escape untouched. Though Baby Colin does have talent on stage, his boring personality is threatening to overwhelm that and cause him to forget the words, and Laszlo is making it his number one priority to ensure that he’s at least somewhat better off than the dead corpse that birthed him. Telling him the real versions of stories and how adults make up lies for truths that are either too scary or too boring isn’t likely to ultimately help, since it’s just going to make him less optimistic about the state of the world and eager to drain others’ enthusiasm as well. Nadja may go about things in a roundabout way, but she does know how to keep the people she needs on her side there through just the right amount of attention and bribery. The vampire nightclub may not be a long-running success, but she’s going to try her hardest to keep it going.

What I’m Watching: Only Murders in the Building

Only Murders in the Building: Season 2, Episode 6 “Performance Review” (B+)

I do like when an episode starts with a new narrator and introduces us to a character we haven’t really met before, and who could be more interesting than the dependable assistant Poppy, who has to endure constant abuse from the world’s worst boss, Cinda Canning? Poppy obviously sees herself as similar to Cinda in terms of her podcasting ability, and her efforts to get a performance review so that she might get a promotion were met with what seemed like validation from Cinda around a colleague before she revealed a much crueler determination to never let her rise above her current station. That was a productive impetus for her to call Mabel to undercut Cinda, but it was the worst time given that Mabel saw the guy who had taken the bag and then apparently stabbed him as captured on a number of cell phone videos before she fled the train. Coming after Jimmy’s contributions to the podcast and everything else, that’s not going to look good, and she was also not in a good place after she saw what Alice had been setting up all along with her as an unknowing art subject. After Oliver and Mabel reacted equally poorly to the news that Charles had started up a relationship with Jan again, I love that he decided to send Sazz to break up with her, which resulted in an unexpectedly passionate interaction. The three podcasters talking and not paying attention to when their glitter bait exploded was the epitome of their incompetence, all about the wild ideas and not so great with the follow-through.

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 6, Episode 10 “Nippy” (B)

This episode felt like a classic version of this show, an hour that proceeded along at a very slow, deliberate pace where not all that much really happened. It’s jarring to go from Kim’s departure to Jimmy becoming Saul Goodman to him being someone else altogether. The intro was ominous and purposeful, and it was great to see Carol Burnett, who turned 89 this April, in a role that befits her talents. She was just a part of Jimmy’s overall plan to recruit Jeff into his latest scheme. I couldn’t figure out where I knew him from, and I now see that he was played by Pat Healy, the memorable star of “Take Me” opposite Taylor Schilling. This was a very different role for him, one that reminded me of Damon Herriman’s character Dewey Crowe on “Justified.” It was also good to see Jim O’Heir from “Parks and Recreation” in a moderately more serious part, eating that Cinnabon ritualistically each night as Jimmy carefully calibrated every piece of his complex burglary plot. Setting up a maze to simulate what it would be like running through the mall and devising a mnemonic so that Jeff could remember what to take shows that he loves this game more than anything, and being excited about getting away with cleverness is what will likely ultimately bring him down, presuming that Gene’s fate is intricately tied to both Jimmy’s and Saul’s, and that his past will more surely catch up with him before this show ends.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

What I’m Watching: Westworld

Westworld: Season 4, Episode 5 “Zhuangzi” (B+)

It’s intriguing to see the dynamic that exists between Charlotte and William, who have taken on different roles than the humans whose identities they’ve assumed used to have. Charlotte is even more confident but also extremely bored, not content with the role of gods to just sit back and observe the people unknowingly serving them. I feel like this was a more enthusiastic hour for William than we’ve seen in a while, indicating the depth of Ed Harris’ performance that has him tapping into an energy William has that he rarely uses unless he truly feels like it serves him. The concept of outliers is being set up in an interesting way, suggesting that in any utopia or dystopia, there’s always a chance of it crumbling due to the dissatisfaction of the powerless with not being able to control everything. That made it fascinating, therefore, for Christina to discover, with Teddy’s help, that she is in fact a god and can narrate events to ensure the outcome she wants, or to produce the information she’s seeking. Charlotte is keeping close tabs on her, but refusing to share Teddy’s name was a smart way of staying under-the-radar, even if she didn’t know that’s why she was doing it. I want to know more both about a process that feels a lot like a more serious version of what happens in “Upload” and also the “human virus” that William spoke to his human counterpart about that makes hosts kill themselves. That “you did” ending was definitely emphatic, continuing in a trend of strong finishes for episodes this season.

What I’m Watching: We Hunt Together (Season Finale)

We Hunt Together: Season 2, Episode 6 (B+)

I have to give credit to Jackson for besting most other TV and movie characters, deciding to text Lola very directly that Robert was the bird man after she repeatedly ignored his calls rather than waiting to, let’s say, show up and tell her when it was already too late. He did get into what appeared to be a very serious car accident when Robert fled just as he was showing up, but fortunately he ended up being fine. Robert was insistent on being portrayed in exactly the right light, and Freddy saying goodbye to Henry when Robert played the victim was too much for him. As she said, she’s not the bee or the spider but the snake, and she managed to get out of a very precarious situation with her life. Liam, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky, and Freddy endeared herself to Lola by staying to try to save him even though those efforts didn’t work. Her ending up in jail doesn’t feel like the most fitting ending, but there does seem to be the possibility for a third season based on that package they got from Robert demanding her release from prison. Jackson seems to be in an okay place when it comes to his wife having a baby without him there, and I’d love to have a chance to see these characters again in the future. This show is vividly interesting and its performers are terrific, and I hope season three is going to be announced soon.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Hermione Corfield as Freddy

What I’m Watching: Loot

Loot: Season 1, Episode 7 “French Connection” (B+)

It wasn’t the fact that Jean-Pierre’s first language is French that made Molly’s is-it-a-date with him such a frustrating experience, but rather that he just couldn’t make it clear if he wanted to be with her romantically or if he just really, really wanted to work with her. It was fun to discover that Sofia is apparently an excellent Internet stalker, one of the many elements of her out-of-work personality that deserve more of a focus down the road. But it still took time for her to figure out that Jacqueline wasn’t in fact his girlfriend, and then he had to go ahead and ride on a horse to show her that he was actually interested in her romantically but hadn’t been sure about whether or not to make a move. Sofia did seem to pick up on Arthur coming in to ask about Molly, so hopefully there still might be a chance for the two of them down the road. Nicholas and Howard’s friendship took an unexpected turn when Nicholas realized that Tanya was not in it for the long haul and tried to warn Howard, only to find out that Tanya was on the phone with him testing whether Nicholas was a dangerous element to have around because he might try to share the truth with Howard. I liked Howard’s line “Here’s a movie I haven’t seen, Get Out!” but it does spell trouble for his romantic future and is definitely going to make things uncomfortable at the office.

Monday, July 25, 2022

What I’m Watching: Physical

Physical: Season 2, Episode 8 “Don’t You Run and Hide” (B+)

This episode felt a bit like a dream, not the same one where Vinnie came over in his sappy commercial to talk to Sheila about her bulimia, but the truth did come out in the most direct way it has throughout the entire course of this show. Vinnie was right to question Sheila on whether she was there to work for him or to become him, and he provided some quick mentorship to her as he went about his day. Sheila confessed both about her eating disorder and the voice in her head, and Vinnie did a remarkable job of forcing her to share everything and confront it. Unfortunately, all it took was a bit of stage fright to send him right back to Marika, showing Sheila that he wasn’t able to overcome his demons and let them take hold of him again despite putting up a façade. I still think this was a strong role for Anna Gunn, a far cry from her Emmy-winning time on “Breaking Bad” but I guess something different and interesting. I enjoyed greatly that, after Wanda told Danny he was being forced out of his own organization for not having the right leadership skills, he ended up being saved in the ocean by Tyler. Bunny was entirely suspicious the entire time that they were eating the failure of a mole (he meant guacamole) that he had offered, and things seemed to be going very well until Tyler blurted out a piece of information that Danny didn’t know, which has now sent him searching for Sheila at precisely the wrong time.

What I’m Watching: Trying

Trying: Season 3, Episode 2 “The Circle” (B+)

There is nothing Jason won’t do in service of his family, whether that means dressing up with Freddy to pretend to be government scientists to protect Tyler from embarrassment or figuring out a way to afford being able to stay in the flat that has only recently become a home for their two new children. Unfortunately, he’s chosen to go about it in a dishonest way, meeting Scott for some help with a risky investment that he didn’t want to tell Nikki about it, saying that it was his father who was lending him the money instead. I’m anticipating the discomfort of that moment when she does thank Vic and then she expresses legitimate, sweet confusion about why Jason would have told her something that isn’t true, whether or not it ends up paying off the way it needs to for them to not have to move. Trying to get his dad to put asbestos into the flat to lower the cost was a creative plan that was ultimately not going to be particularly effective. Nikki is dealing with her own tricky situation at the moment, enlisting her work best friend Jen in a secretive operation to help boost productivity at work only to realize that her being distracted with a special assignment solved all the problems since she’s the one who’s the weak link. Jen has always been an entertaining presence on the show, so I hope that, even if we don’t have to witness the awkward firing, we do get to see her again in some capacity.

What I’m Watching: Trying (Season Premiere)

Trying: Season 3, Episode 1 “Home” (B+)

I really love this show, and I’m so happy that it’s back for its third season in just about three years, a rare feat for series these days and especially during the pandemic. Things started on such a high with the two kids present and ready for the perfect day, something both Jason and Nikki put a lot of pressure on given that they thought this was going to be it. Jason putting on a vest to feed the penguins made for one of the funniest scenes when he tried to answer questions from onlookers with the most basic and incorrect of facts, assisted by some light heckling from Nikki. The advice that both parents gave to their kids was both sweet and humorous, and I love that Tyler ended up repeating some of it back to the social worker who came to take him away. Wrapping up everything in the kitchen to make sure it was childproof and safe was an entertaining exercise that definitely felt excessive, and I like that Nikki’s parents were already outside when she called them to ask them to make food since she didn’t have any in the house. Vic rallying the entire family to come show their support was a wondrous and unexpected gesture, and I like that they just marched from house to house to do it. I also enjoyed that Vic reported having found Scott’s fedora in the bushes, something she was not happy to have revealed since she was evidently trying to get rid of it without him finding out.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

What I’m Watching: The Old Man (Season Finale)

The Old Man: Season 1, Episode 7 “VII” (B+)

This finale contained a big surprise that I definitely didn’t see coming, one that makes Dan and Harold much more like each other than Harold knew. It also weakens Dan’s cruel reminder to Harold that Emily wasn’t his actual daughter, since, apparently, Dan isn’t either. Though we saw his face for only a moment, I immediately recognized Navid Negahban, who has appeared in series like “Homeland,” “Legion,” and “Tehran,” as the older Faraz, who looked wearied but elated to see his daughter finally return home to him after being taken decades earlier. That explains why Faraz hated Dan so much, since Abbey was involved in the decision to leave with Dan but Emily couldn’t have been. What she knows, however, is more of a mystery, and theoretically she’ll be safe in her real father’s care, even if the two men who love her like a daughter will stop at nothing to get her back. Dan didn’t waste much time in disposing of their escorts once they were told that they had to turn back since the deal was off, and he and Harold do make a good team even if they don’t get along particularly well due to all they’ve endured over the years. Zoe appears to be out of the picture now but I’d be surprised if that remained the case, especially considering how Harold referred to her as a loose end that might need cleaning up. I don’t know what to expect in season two but I am intrigued to see these characters return and to see what the terrific Negahban does with his character.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: John Lithgow as Harold

Pilot Review: Rap Sh!t

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.

Emmy Catch-Up: Stranger Things (Season Finale)

Stranger Things: Season 4, Episode 7 “Chapter Seven: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab” (A-)

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like I really understood what was happening on this show, and that may still be the case, but I was pretty floored by the way everything came together in a spectacular way at the end of this episode. It’s been difficult to discern when everything was taking place over the course of this season, especially as Eleven has been going through her memories. But it was very intense and effective to learn that the orderly who had been coaching Eleven was actually One, who killed everyone else at Hawkins Lab and then was sent into the upside-down by Eleven, where he became Vecna. Tying that in to Creel’s story where he was actually the one who was causing everything was chilling, especially as Nancy got to see it all happening. There were little moments of humor infused into this otherwise very dark episode, like Erica threatening to tell Dustin what she found under Lucas’ back unless he told her everything after trying to out them as liars to their parents and the cops and Nancy apparently having guns in her room. Figuring out that they were in an older version of her house was almost as cool as them figuring out how to communicate and get between the upside-down and the real world. Hopefully Nancy will be okay now after facing Vecna and hearing Barb screaming, though I’m sure they’ll be an epic battle in the final two supersized episodes that I somehow haven’t gotten spoiled for myself yet. Murray’s big act for the guards paid off, and now Hopper’s back with Joyce and ready to come back to a Hawkins that could use some help from the adults.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Sadie Sink as Max

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Emmy Catch-Up: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 4, Episode 6 “Chapter Six: The Dive” (B+)

Jason didn’t have too hard a time radicalizing the entire town when the police didn’t do much to comfort them, and the fact that there is a demonic entity threatening all of Hawkins means that they’re likely to get close enough to see what’s going on but still assign blame to the wrong people. Though I’ve been in favor of the group staying together, we got to see the big kids go off on the boat claiming a size limit and then leave behind the younger kids, which worked out well since Max was able to think quickly to distract from what was happening on the water while Steve put his swim training to good use. It’s about time all their parents realized they weren’t where they were supposed to be, and I enjoyed Erica’s reaction to the idea of calling the movie theater to find out if they were actually there. Eleven’s time-looped memories were quite disturbing, and even if Dr. Brenner has good intentions now, he did a lot of damage to her and the other kids in the past. Fortunately, there was comic relief in the form of Suzie’s know-how, the chaotic situation at her house that involved some strong acting and an unexpected romance for Argyle, and Murray and Joyce made the best of their situation to turn the tables on Yuri and go with a version of his plan that would work to their advantage. I’m sure that the super-sized finale will have plenty of intense moments and a cliffhanger that I’ll be fortunate to be able to speed through given how late I’m watching it.

Emmy Catch-Up: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 4, Episode 5 “Chapter Five: The Nina Project” (B+)

Cell phones and the internet really have made things easier, and a frantic search for a way to contact Owens and a road trip to Salt Lake City to find Suzie would not have been necessary. But fortunately all these people are clever and finally working together, doing their very best to protect Max and to help train Eleven so she can be the asset she needs to be. So far, things are going okay with Max and listening to her music, though she’s right to think that maybe she’ll get sick of it eventually and it won’t always be a comfort. I like that she and Lucas are back on good terms, though it’s possible that he should have stayed with his football friends to prevent them from terrifying Eddie as he was fleeing by boat. But Patrick kept hearing that chime and seeing the clock, which is never a good thing, and now he appears to be Vecna’s latest target. Eleven is having a tough time readjusting to being back in an all-too-familiar place, and Dr. Brenner’s methods for restarting her training were far from comforting. Now it appears he’s gotten her back to a place of submission, one where she might be able to continue harnessing the return of her powers. As Enzo and Hopper suffer together in a cell, Joyce was the one thinking ahead and figuring out a way to get free so that Murray could channel his childhood black belt experience into taking down Yuri, which he did a little too well, sending them crashing to the snowy ground.

Emmy Catch-Up: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 4, Episode 4 “Chapter Four: Dear Billy” (B+)

This seems to be one of the standout episodes of the season, submitted along with the seventh installment for Emmy consideration in the directing category, and I can see why. It was quite a grand (extended) hour, with Max nearly getting overtaken in the same way that we’ve seen so many times from others but managing to resist, in part because of the conclusion Robin came to after their undercover academic operation and Lucas helping Dustin find the right music to play for her. This show knows how to go from a tender emotional moment to a terrifying one, showing the dark clouds coming in and how Max appeared possessed while she was interacting directly with Vecna. Writing letters to everyone in her life in case she did die was an intense choice, one that no one wanted to acknowledge but which suggests she’s much more prepared for what’s to come than any of Vecna’s other unsuspecting victims. Creel’s story was unpleasant and full of horrifying moments, and I appreciated the twin casting of Robert Englund, of Freddy Krueger fame, as his older self and Kevin L. Johnson from “Ozark” as his younger self. Things are getting very real on every front, with a clueless Argyle driving past the Byers home at exactly the right moment when they were trying to escape certain death. Yuri did feel like he could be friends with Murray, but opting to turn in Enzo, Hopper, and both of his new American friends for a bigger payout suggests that future is unlikely to come to pass.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Emmy Catch-Up: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 4, Episode 3 “Chapter Three: The Monster and the Superhero” (B+)

Paul Reiser really is everywhere on TV these days, making an appearance in a few episodes of “The Boys” and earning an Emmy nomination last season for “The Kominsky Method.” Fortunately, Sam seems most interested in Eleven’s wellbeing, and, more importantly, in positioning her as their best chance at defeating Vecna to save Hawkins. It wasn’t a great time for Joyce to leave with Murray to fly to Alaska, and it wasn’t a surprise that Angela pressed charges against Eleven. Going back to fighting monsters might actually be less stressful than the teenage bullying she’s had to endure, and the chance to get her powers back would be very worthwhile. Steve needing to stay with his car because no one else could drive it was a good opportunity for Robin and Nancy to team up, but Nancy is far too distracted and closed-off to realize that Robin has a lot to offer. Being comfortable coming out would make things much easier for both Robin and Steve, but I doubt we’ll get to that on this show anytime soon. Max was all for going into the therapist’s office to try to get the information she needed, but what she found is much more troublesome. Hopefully, having knowledge of everything that has happened so far will make her able to resilient Vecna, but having her name said was absolutely an ominous way to end this episode. Lucas isn’t making great choices, not that he has any good options, and those brainless teammates of his are the last obstacle that everyone needs to deal with right now.

Emmy Catch-Up: Stranger Things

Stranger Things: Season 4, Episode 2 “Chapter Two: Vecna’s Curse” (B+)

There are so many different threads on this show, and I’m glad to see at least a few of them are combining so that more characters are working together. Max was quick to reunite with Dustin, who didn’t waste any time in destroying the meticulously-organized tape collection at Steve and Robin’s store to set up a base of operations. Robin was very clever to think to go through the list of rentals in the database to find the right person, and Eddie shared his wild recollections of what happened with the right group of people since they completely believed him. Nancy’s on the case and speaking to his father, but unfortunately Fred is the latest one swayed by that evil force. Chrissy’s boyfriend and his clueless friends all think that it was a game of D & D that went too far, and Lucas is going to have a tough time convincing them otherwise since they seem set on that theory. Without her powers, Eleven resorted to physical violence to show Angela that she had to stop messing with her, but I don’t think a rollerskate to the face is going to go over very well. It certainly doesn’t help that Mike and Will aren’t getting along. Murray continues to temper Joyce’s enthusiasm about the possibility of Hopper still being alive, but they did manage to piece together enough clues to realize that he’s in a Russian prison, and Alaska may be their next stop to figure out how to get him back.

What I'm Watching: The Last Movie Stars

I had the chance to review the documentary series “The Last Movie Stars,” about the relationship between Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, for - head over there to read my take.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

What I’m Watching: What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows: Season 4, Episode 3 “The Grand Opening” (B+)

The notion of a vampire rapper named Richie Suck is definitely funny, though he apparently isn’t the attraction he once was, allowing himself to become subservient to his familiar and eager to practice “observational comedy” instead of the songs everyone came out to see. It’s always entertaining to see Fred Armisen, and he was a great choice to play Dr. Tom, who also happened to be a budding musician who ended up getting fed to the crowd when Nadja talked Richie into taking power back for himself. I liked that Guillermo cheered for familiars when no one else did, and he was pretty instrumental in ensuring that Nandor didn’t get tricked into making a wish that he didn’t actually want, only to be undone at the very last moment when he agreed to only a specific part of what they had been talking about the whole time. Djinn’s commentary that what they were doing was correct but very annoying was amusing, and he ended up getting the upper hand when Nandor is now going to think about Guillermo every time he uses his new giant penis. Laszlo’s efforts to ensure that Baby Colin didn’t turn out to be boring failed when his constant series of “guess what?” questions led to a botched art heist and many living rats, but his enthusiasm for and encyclopedic knowledge of musical theater came in very handy when he got up to save the night at the nightclub and soothe the crowd with his performance.

What I’m Watching: Only Murders in the Building

Only Murders in the Building: Season 2, Episode 5 “The Tell” (B+)

This episode was very clever in how it hid its shocking end reveal, couched in Will being the narrator and Oliver thinking he was always going to be able to identify the true killer. His distinction between hearing something and remembering hearing something didn’t seem all that significant, but he instantly flashed back to that moment where he knew Teddy was hiding something and knew that it must be that he was really Will’s father. That surprise feels entirely tangential to the case the podcasters are currently working on, but it’s sure to throw Oliver for a loop and have him acting in an unusual way, likely hiding the shame from Charles and Mabel until he eventually unloads on them. It was also very interesting to see how Alice reacted to being interrogated by Oliver, and she was able to win back Mabel’s trust by pledging to be honest with her going forward. Seeing her card that revealed that she was in fact Son of Sam suggests that there’s still mystery to her, and I’m eager to see what else she’s hiding. Charles not having a tell but just being as uncomfortable as he looks was an entertaining observation, and I think his colleagues should be very concerned about his decision to re-engage in what seems to be a pretty typical romantic relationship with Jan while she’s in jail. I did enjoy her noting that she’s behind on this season, once again reminding of how this show is so much about itself in the most enjoyable and inventive of ways.

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 6, Episode 9 “Fun and Games” (B+)

I don’t think this is what I expected for Kim, to decide that she just couldn’t be with Jimmy anymore because, together, they were poison. The ease with which she was able to come up with a complete lie in front of Howard’s wife to support the story of drug addiction showed that perhaps she does belong in this universe, but that’s a fate she’s not comfortable with, since having to lie like that only came about because of what she and Jimmy did. They are responsible for what happened to Howard, and she probably blames herself even more because she knew that Lalo was alive and didn’t tell Jimmy because of how she expected him to react. While it would be a shame not to see Kim again after this, things jumped very quickly to the era of Saul Goodman that we know where he seemed to have moved on quite a bit. Gus managed to stand his ground with Don Eladio, who seemed more irritated by the thought of Hector ringing his bell ceaselessly than he did with the concept of considering Gus’ duplicity. The scene with Gus and Reed Diamond’s David was very compelling, an unusual instance of him letting his guard down that he clearly decided to end because it might make him vulnerable. Mike going to talk to Manuel about Nacho’s fate didn’t go exactly as he had planned, and I’m sure the accusation that he was just as bad as the rest hit Mike very hard, especially considering how he felt about Nacho.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

What I’m Watching: Westworld

Westworld: Season 4, Episode 4 “Generation Loss” (B)

Well, this was quite depressing. I think this counts as a rug-pulling development, one that shows us just how little we actually know of what’s going on, though it did also feel somewhat dense and repetitive. I suppose, however, that that’s the point exactly, since Caleb was so in the moment doing what he was trying to do, only to discover that this was the 278th version of him and that it’s been twenty-three years since he died there. It was cool to find out that the woman who was with Bernard is actually the adult Frankie, expecting to find her father’s body in the place that they instead found Maeve. This episode featured a strong performance from Tessa Thompson, who got to seem all too unconcerned with her fate and then start taunting Caleb as he kept passing out, very aware that she had the upper hand since the war had been lost long ago. The locating of Maeve’s body sets up an exciting battle where she and Bernard will face off against the hosts who have completely taken over, and I’m curious to see where that leaves other players like Christina and Teddy, who seems to know a lot about how he and the woman who shares a face with Dolores share a long and complicated history. I’m still not sure whether to trust Maya or not, and whether what she’s recounting as a dream that felt all too real is her starting to remember, the human revolution that might accompany the host-led one.

What I’m Watching: We Hunt Together

We Hunt Together: Season 2, Episode 5 (B+)

I think that seeing Freddy eat the finger is one of the grosser things that’s been shown on television in a while, though she did seem to be feeling much better when she was able to throw it up at the police station. Trying to tell Henry the truth about what she did to the real Freddy was predictably felled by his having headphones in, and though he did have to remind her when she accused him of being the birdman that he was only kidding, he met his demise at her hands anyway. Running out with a knife was not a choice that would have protected his safety, and it’s hard to know how the Birdman, now seemingly revealed as Robert, will react to that and if he’ll perceive it as the last threat to his dominance of Freddy dismissed. Lester’s murder-suicide note felt all too convenient, and both Lola and a suspended Jackson saw through that right away. Jackson didn’t make light of the situation at all, asking Susan why he would have said he was a police officer when he was arrested and then comforting his son, who was upset at his mother for leaving. Lola didn’t take no for an answer and was eager to give Jackson assignments he didn’t want, though he couldn’t resist doing a bit of digging since things definitely did not feel right. Liam’s attempt to defend himself as having helped didn’t land well with Lola, and telling her she knew nothing of addiction was particularly out-of-touch considering what she’s actually endured.

What I’m Watching: Loot

Loot: Season 1, Episode 6 “The Philanthropic Humanitarian Awards” (B+)

It’s good to see that not all impulsive decisions end up being the wrong ones, as the surprise donations turned out to be an extremely well-received effort that drummed up some much-needed good press for Molly and everyone else. Getting invited to the gala was a true opportunity for Molly to be recognized for her achievements separate from John, but then he had to go and show up there. Revealing to her that he was the one who had set it all up to give her a win was not what she needed, but she did a good job of resisting his cruel taunts, including that it was way easier to give money away than earn it. She also managed to get very much under his skin by going over to take a picture with both him and Hailey in front of everyone, and it was sweet to see how the whole team was there to depart with her when they realized that’s what would be best. Being asked to collaborate by the vodka magnate was a confidence-boosting moment, one that will surely make John jealous but can also just be about her and what’s good for her at the moment. Arthur being so intimidated by his programming hero was an opportunity for Howard to really process how older people saw him and how he doesn’t want his life predetermined. The term “six-billion dollar prison” feels extremely privileged and not terribly in touch with the way most people live, which was surely purposeful since Molly has already started to evolve beyond that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

What I’m Watching: Physical

Physical: Season 2, Episode 7 “Don’t Try This at Home” (B+)

It all makes sense now, what Sheila was doing by mailing incriminating information about herself to someone else so that she could get out of her contract and take her show on the road. Watching her conjure up sad memories so that she could let a tear out showed how in control she was, an example of how she’s able to bottle it up and take charge when in other moments she completely lets go and gives in. This was a rollercoaster episode for Sheila, who first approached Greta, who thought she was meeting her in a public place to break up with her. What most surprised me was how, after he tried to suggest her going to a treatment center for her eating disorder, Danny took the time to give aerobics a shot, matching her moves and realizing what it was that he hadn’t been able to see. His seeming support of her career got Greta the most upset, and it’s going to be hard to come back from the things they said to each other. Breem’s sudden desire to confess because he thought he caused his wife and baby to be in the hospital was both peculiar and entertaining, and Sheila seemed very put-off by the way they both confronted her in the motel to cleanse her soul. Where she’s going after opting not to go to the treatment center is a mystery, just as much as where she’ll go when she eventually decides to turn back and return home.

What I’m Watching: The Old Man

The Old Man: Season 1, Episode 6 “VI” (B+)

There was lots of talk about names from both duos in this episode, stressing the importance of remembering who you are while considering that maybe the name a person goes by isn’t all that relevant or defining. The concept of pinning everything on Angela made some degree of sense since she’s always been ready to sacrifice herself for the sake of protecting her father. Her calling to get Harold taken home so she could take the fall showed that she was more than ready to do it and was taking proactive steps to ensure it happened that way, though now she appears to have been taken by a different old man than I thought this show’s title was referring to when it first started. I like that Harold and Dan are now teaming up to go get Emily back, and how much Faraz figures into that equation remains uncertain. It was interesting to see Dan opt to save his traitorous former ally rather than punish him for his attempted betrayal, and he also has plenty to think about when it comes to the woman he loved most in this world, who may have been using both him and Faraz as assets without their knowledge. Zoe reacted calmly to being recognized abroad while she was supposed to be someone else, and Dan got there right in time to spirit her out of that situation. Knowing that a second season is already on the way means that there can only be so much resolution in the finale, and that we’ll likely see these characters again in some capacity in the future - and maybe also the past.

What I’m Watching: Ms. Marvel (Series Finale)

Ms. Marvel: Season 1, Episode 6 “No Normal” (B+)

This finale did a good job of tying up its specific storylines while preparing Kamala for a much bigger adventure in the upcoming film “The Marvels.” I had a feeling, as I’m sure most viewers did, that Brie Larson would show up as Captain Marvel, but she seems to have done so right after Kamala got sucked away to some other place by the bangle, and she was understandably startled to be surrounded by so much fandom about herself. This was a celebratory occasion for the superhero who has yet to fully declare her identity as Ms. Marvel, ensuring that no one got hurt when they had to defend the school from being attacked by Damage Control and Kamran not being able, or not wanting, to control his powers. Having her family and friends, plus the new addition of a more enlightened Zoe, help figure out clever ways to stall was fun, and it was cool to see the gathered crowd run forward to protect her when a desperate Agent Deever tried to take her out one last time. Kamran managed to get what appears to have a happy ending, reluctantly teaming up with Kareem to figure out what’s next for the two of them. Muneeba getting her daughter a costume was the ultimate show of support, and now she’ll be ready to suit up for whatever is in store in the upcoming MCU movie. I’ve enjoyed this show and would be happy to see more of it, and it will definitely be fun to see Kamala back in that film and hopefully more after that.

Season grade: B+
Season MVP: Iman Vellani as Kamala

Monday, July 18, 2022

What I’m Watching: What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows: Season 4, Episode 2 “The Lamp” (B+)

There’s a glaring simplicity to some of the things on this show that these centuries-old vampires can’t hope to grasp, but Guillermo is able to understand because he can think ever so slightly outside the box. That doesn’t mean that he’s able to properly advocate for himself, like, for instance, with being volunteered to have sex with the Guide to get her to come around to Nadja’s perspective after voicing her unexpected attraction to him. Apparently, he has quite a nice, non-threatening male energy, enough to make Nandor’s many wives think that he was a unic. But it was suggesting that Nandor rub the lamp the other way that helped to produce the genie who was able to fulfill Nandor’s many specific wishes, starting with bringing his 37 wives back to life and then dismissing them one by one with a gold coin when he realized that each of them was not the correct one he remembered loving. He seems to have found one even though not everything about her is exactly right, and we’ll see how long that lasts and what eventually happens to her. Nadja was able to get into the Guide’s head by telling her that the council wanted to have a CVS take over, and Laszlo was typically full of himself and not nearly as tuned-in as he thought he was when he had the Guide on his couch so that he could use what he had learned from being with Freud when he supposedly made his noteworthy discoveries.

What I’m Watching: What We Do in the Shadows (Season Premiere)

What We Do in the Shadows: Season 4, Episode 1 “Reunited” (B)

This is only my second time watching this show as it airs, but I didn’t realize quite how little time has passed since season three ended in late October of last year. It’s remarkable that this show has managed to put out four seasons in four years given all the pandemic delays that have impacted other series, and this one is also back the same day as it managed a second Best Comedy Series Emmy nomination. It’s still growing on me a bit and I’ll admit that I expected the “previously on” segment to end with them staking vampires at the council meeting but then I was reminded that we already covered that storyline. I’m eager for Baby Colin, who Laszlo seems to think won’t turn into Colin Robinson if he refuses to say his name, to grow back into the character we knew before, or at least the same actor, and for now it just seems like everyone is constantly mistaking raccoons for him. It’s no surprise that Laszlo did a terrible job of taking care of the house while everyone else was away, and though he’d like to think that he’s going to move on, Guillermo isn’t going anywhere and will surely get things as under control as possible soon. I’m not sure which is less likely: Nadja successfully opening a vampire nightclub or Nandor finding a bride within the next few weeks. Either way, both efforts should be entertaining to watch flail, combined with some other truly terrible business ideas.

What I’m Watching: Only Murders in the Building

Only Murders in the Building: Season 2, Episode 4 “Here’s Looking at You” (B+)

I didn’t expect Lucy to come back in such a casual way, and I’m not sure what I thought she was going to be like. She ended up being quite casual and made even Mabel seem older and out of touch. That video she recorded while she was in the secret passageway with the killer going right by her was intense, but she didn’t get anything that could be too useful, and it seems like she’s leaving for now. It was productive timing for Charles to be distracted since he couldn’t deal with being told at the last minute that Uncle Brazzos was now in a wheelchair and suffering from dementia, an apparent way to be able to easily write him out in case he went to prison. I enjoyed having everyone notice the bloody knife while Charles was making omelets and then hoping that it wouldn’t drop and fall on Howard’s head while he was standing right under it. Getting Nina to confess wasn’t too productive, and all they got was Charles patting himself on the back for his delivery of “Do I deliver, or do I deliver?” when she went into labor while they were interrogating her. Teddy is enduring his own heartbreak thanks to the fractured relationship with his son, and it looks like he’s going to take out his misery on Oliver. I’m excited to see the return of a familiar face from season one, whose reason for reappearing is still a mystery at this moment: Jan!

Sunday, July 17, 2022

What I’m Watching: Breeders (Season Finale)

Breeders: Season 3, Episode 10 “No More Part Two” (B+)

There’s no better way to resolve - or at least postpone - a major, potentially life-changing conversation than an emergency or tragedy interrupting it. Ava opting to go see Grace before she went to check on her grandfather could have had devastating consequences, and she did blame herself briefly before it turned out that he was going to be fine. Jackie realizing that she needed to take care of Jim was likely influenced by the fact that it wasn’t just confusion that caused him to take all of those pills at once. Ava came to a great conclusion after talking to Grace and Susie, and it’s very true that she may be able to do much more going to a school whose reputation isn’t as stellar as the one she could have gone to since she’ll be able to stand out more. I love that, after giving Luke an ultimatum, Jacob confessed that he knew he was being unreasonable, and offered a typically mature snack of chocolate liqueurs. If he does end up with Ruby, it’s going to be awkward, but being friends with her at least sounds like a good start. Darren being forced to sit through Ally and Paul’s fight was unfortunate for him, especially since he’s considering dating Gabby, which isn’t necessarily the best idea. But what Paul said about there not being a point to them being together isn’t going away, and ending with them unsure of what to do next was a powerful way to close out the season. I truly hope there will be more of this show coming soon - this season was superb.

Season grade: A-
Season MVP: Martin Freeman and Daisy Haggard

What I’m Watching: Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul: Season 6, Episode 8 “Point and Shoot” (B+)

There’s a real simplicity to this show and its storylines sometimes that just manages to completely captivate. That was absolutely the case with Lalo’s follow-up to his murder of Howard, insisting that Jimmy go to kill Gus while he waited there with Kim. Jimmy’s quick thinking once again came into play as he begged Lalo to send Kim instead, knowing full well that it would be him and not her who ended up dead if something didn’t work out. Kim was understandably panicked when the door was opened not by Gus but by Mike and his men, who set out to figure out a plan right away. It’s not clear if Lalo thought that Gus would in fact be unguarded or if he just wanted to draw Gus out like he managed to do, though Gus had the upper hand the entire time. This was a superb showcase for Giancarlo Esposito, who hasn’t had all that much to do in the first half of the season, and it’s especially great to see after I had a wonderful conversation with Esposito a few weeks ago. Seeing Lalo and Howard’s bodies being buried together as Mike did damage control was haunting, since they inhabited such different worlds, linked only by their association with Jimmy. With only a handful of episodes left, Kim’s fate remains uncertain since she now knows way too much. At least Rhea Seehorn is finally an Emmy nominee after being passed over far too many times in the past.

What I’m Watching: Westworld

Westworld: Season 4, Episode 3 “Années Folles” (B+)

This show has so many threads going that it’s often hard to remember which characters are even still alive, if that’s a word that has any relevance in its world(s). Bernard certainly did look like he had been in storage, emerging from that lengthy slumber after his stasis interaction with Akecheta, a reminder that Zahn McClarnon is always great and should be in more shows (like “Dark Winds”). Stubbs seemed more intrigued than anything else to see him finally wake up, though he got tired quickly of Bernard predicting what he was going to say over and over again. The idea that he’s going to save the world is interesting since it’s never quite so clear whether he’s on the same side as anyone else, though I would imagine that he’s much more closely aligned with Maeve and Caleb than the new versions of Charlotte and William. The casting of Manny Montana from “Good Girls” as Carver was reason enough to suspect that he wasn’t trustworthy, and Frankie was aware as soon as she saw him cut out part of her doll that he wasn’t actually on their side. They did manage to outwit him, but Caleb didn’t know anything about that when he was drawn to a host version of his daughter who definitely infected him with those same flies. The notion that there is a new level of the Westworld mythology that includes the massacre as part of the game where the players get to live through all of it is immensely disturbing but indicative of the unfortunate human impulse to enjoy others’ suffering.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

What I’m Watching: We Hunt Together

We Hunt Together: Season 2, Episode 4 (B+)

It’s a good thing that Dom isn’t dead, which I thought was the case, but that also means that she felt she needed to do right by Jackson and tell him what she had found out shortly before she nearly died. For a show that often makes light of Jackson as a sweet, funny guy who, for instance, insisted earlier in the episode that Lola say goodbye at the end of conversations before hanging up, it was jarring to see the look on his face change as he was staring at his wife while on the phone. Calling Lola to tell her that the baby wasn’t his and then showing up at Thomas’ house late at night to make a scene felt very out of character for him, suggesting that his judgment is extremely compromised and he’ll be very vulnerable at a problematic and dangerous time. Lola was also taking risks, tailing Liam and then sneaking into his van, only to discover that his secrets aren’t actually relevant to the case. Liam doing a side job to get dirt on Freddy so that he can make much-needed money is definitely an issue, but he doesn’t pose a threat to them. Freddy sending Jackson flowers was an interesting development, and she also managed to defy a conjured-up Baba who tried to get her not to kill Sheila. She’s being reckless in how she’s dealing with Henry, and I still think she’s likely to end up being the target of the man who to this point has ostensibly been killing for her.