THE AMERICANS Recap: “Martial Eagle”

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All season long, The Americans has addressed issues of loyalty and consequence.  What has made this season so powerful is the emotional connection Philip and Elizabeth have had to their work, and how deeply it has affected them.  Starting the season off with the gruesome deaths of their fellow spies set the stage and tone for what would follow, and the season’s tight focus on just a few stories (which are now connecting) have made for an incredible arc of episodes.  No hour has been so dedicated to consequence as “Martial Eagle” though, a dark and difficult walk with Philip as he goes through crisis.  Hit the jump for why “I know this is war.  It’s just easier for you.”

FARGO Recap: “The Rooster Prince”

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The chaos and violence that defined the first hour of Fargo are starting to have some ramifications.  In its second hour, “The Rooster Prince” began to illustrate what a mad and connected world of violence Bemidji is, something that Molly is starting to piece together (thankfully, because the Molly of the premiere would have never gotten there).  But Bemidji is a small town, and personal alliances are standing in the way of justice.  Hit the jump for why you should never open and sniff a jar filled with pee.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Meltdown”

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Though every episode of Bates Motel features a certain amount of damp and gloom, “Meltdown” was a particularly dark hour.  White Pine Bay seems to be in the midst of a very rainy week, and that darkness (the interior of Dylan’s office, the Bates’ home, characters only seeming to move around at night) was an integral part of of “Meltdown’s” tone, and a reflection of the inner lives of those on screen.  Things are at a low point, and to steal a line from Game of Thrones: “the night is dark and full of terrors.”  Hit the jump for why “everything has changed.”

MAD MEN Recap: “A Day’s Work”

by     Posted 3 days ago


After a subdued premiere, “A Day’s Work” was possibly one of the most positive and gratifying Mad Men episodes in a long while.  One of the major, ongoing frustrations with the show for many viewers is a lack of redemption, particularly regarding Don.  “A Day’s Work” starts out with things looking grim — Don looks at a bottle, after spending an afternoon eating Ritz crackers and watching TV, as a roach scurries across the floor.  He’s dressed up with nowhere to go, as Dawn drops off some files and some tidbits from the office.  But things are not as they seem.  Hit the jump for why I don’t want you going to funerals.

SILICON VALLEY Recap: “Articles of Incorporation”

by     Posted 3 days ago


In its third episode, “Articles of Incorporation,” Silicon Valley continued to explore every step of the startup process.  As the series has shown, almost all aspects are ripe for satire.  “Articles of Incorporation” also deftly continued the process not only of Richard learning and developing as the head of his business, but deepening the relationships among the central characters, giving them both believable and comically absurd facets.  Hit the jump for why “small is the new big!”

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “Breaker of Chains”

by     Posted 3 days ago


Any Game of Thrones episode with a name like “Breaker of Chains” is undoubtedly going to star Dany, Mother of Dragons and Freer of Slaves.  But “Breaker of Chains” also did a lot more, orienting characters and viewers in the aftermath of last week’s big moment.  A Storm of Swords is an excellent book, and the episode sticking so close to the source material made it an episode filled with necessary world-building, history and purpose.  How many Starks are they going to behead before you hit the jump?

SALEM Review: WGN’s Witchy Tale Rewrites History

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Witches being the new vampires, WGN (now rebranded as WGN America, the station you once knew for Chicago Cubs games and Law & Order reruns), has jumped on the witch wagon for its first original scripted series, Salem.  It is one of two shows the network ordered straight-to-series (a risky move, meaning there’s no pilot).  The other is Manhattan, a period piece about the creation of the atom bomb.  Additionally, the network has a high-profile miniseries The 10 Commandments planned, which is set to include many well-known actors and filmmakers, such as Michael CeraWes CravenLee Daniels and Gus Van Sant.  Of these projects, Salem may be the weakest to put out front first, but its bizarre mix of violence, sex and the supernatural could find an audience more easily than first appears.  Hit the jump for more.

HANNIBAL Recap: “Su-zakana”

by     Posted 5 days ago


“Su-zakana” revealed many interesting things about Hannibal, regarding where the show is headed.  It shares one major facet with FX’s The Americans, in that it has gotten a lot tighter, narratively speaking, in its second season.  In both cases, the shows’ first seasons featured a lot of one-off Cases of the Week that often operated completely apart from drama and emotions that were being faced in the season-long arc.  For Hannibal, only the bee keeper episode has been disconnected from the major story this season (that being the stand-off between Will and Hannibal).  It’s been to the show’s benefit.  Hit the jump for why “there’s a good chance everyone in this room has absorbed their twin.”

ORPHAN BLACK Season 2 Preview: BBC America’s Breakout Hit Returns Without Missing a Beat

by     Posted 5 days ago


Orphan Black debuted last year on BBC America to little recognition or fanfare, but picked up a cult following during its run that led to near-riots (in certain, mostly critical circles) that its star, Tatiana Maslany, wasn’t nominated for all of the acting awards available.  This year, the audience should be bigger, and so is the pressure for the show to keep up its energy and intrigue.

The series is in some ways a drama disguised as sci-fi, although what makes it great is that it’s also wholly both.  And in the upcoming season, Maslany’s portrayal of her many on-screen versions continues to be diverse, distinctive, and divine.  Hit the jump for more on where things kick off in Season Two, and a video recap of Season One (and if you aren’t caught up, get so tout de suite!)

THE AMERICANS Recap: “New Car”

by     Posted One week ago


The Americans continued to dissect its major theme of loyalty in “New Car.”  An early conversation between Martha and Philip/Clark set it all up: when she objects to continuing to spy on her co-workers, even though those were the circumstances under which they met, he replies, “don’t put me in a position of having to choose between the security of the country and you.”  But both Philip and Elizabeth have been dealing with these issues of loyalty and choice all season, not only in regards to their own family versus their job, but also within their job as well.  In “New Car,” they were confronted with difficult decisions that went against earlier choices, but all of which added to the complexity of the situation, and their emotional responses to it.  Hit the jump for why “it’s nicer, it’s easier; it’s not better.”

FARGO Recap: Series Premiere “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”

by     Posted 8 days ago


Neither part of the term “original adaptation” fully applies to FX’s new limited series Fargo, even if it’s branded as such.It evokes a sense of the original Ethan and Joel Coen film without using the same characters, yet it’s full of callbacks.  There are currently many series on air that tie in with movies: NBC’s Hannibal (a prequel of sorts to Silence of the Lambs), A&E’s Bates Motel (a prequel to Psycho), and even NBC’s comedy About a Boy (like Fargo, it is “inspired” by the world of the movie).  What they have in common is that each series is at its best when its the farthest away from its source material.  Once it becomes its own interpretation of the world it’s using as a base, it gets stronger.  With Fargo, it may take a few episodes for that to develop, but once it does, there’s great potential.  Hit the jump for more.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Presumed Innocent”

by     Posted 8 days ago


Bates Motel has reached a point this season where it’s teetering on the precipice.  There are three episodes left now until the end of the season, but “Presumed Innocent” was too early to start the descent into what is sure to be the madness leading up to that finale.  So instead, it had a touch of strange world building, and then spent a lot of time loitering around the jail while Norman and Cody were being questioned.  Ultimately, even its final reveal didn’t reveal much.  For a season that has basically been on fire since its start, “Presumed Innocent” felt like like little more than stalling.  Hit the jump for what we did learn, and what it could mean.

MAD MEN Season 7 Premiere Recap: “Time Zones”

by     Posted 10 days ago


Mad Men‘s final journey has begun.  Split into two seasons, the show will have fourteen episodes to say farewell, in detail, to its 1960s drama.  “Time Zones” spent most of its hour on Don and Peggy, the crux of the show, setting up where they are in terms of where they’ve been.  It’s not clear yet where they’re going, only that the struggle is not yet over.  There was a sense, with them and elsewhere (particularly with Joan and Pete) that change is in the air, and, dare we say, hope?  “Time Zones” was mired in a lot of bleakness, but all of the airplane imagery might be suggesting the only way forward is up.  Hit the jump for more.

SILICON VALLEY Recap: “The Cap Table”

by     Posted 10 days ago


The most important element of Silicon Valley‘s “The Cap Table” was that it was an episode devoted to what most series would have made a montage.  The nitty gritty of Richard starting his own company, building it up from scratch, and getting his team in place (and using Wikipedia to find out about business plans) was something many would skip over.  But Silicon Valley is exactly interested in this minutia, following Richard’s journey from a start-up to either a global empire, or another tech gravestone in Palo Alto.  Hit the jump for why “that’s why he’s a billionaire.  He knows where and when to be an asshole.”

GAME OF THRONES Recap: “The Lion and the Rose”

by     Posted 10 days ago


Game of Thrones’ most lasting impression may be its changeability.  No show has perhaps ever been so difficult to predict, even for those who have read the books.  The stories go in ways that are unexpected.  It’s what George R. R. Martin does so well: subverting fantasy tropes.  Last week, the theme was transformation, and it looks like it’s going to be a season-long motif.  “The Lion and The Rose” was also about a world in flux, and Game of Thrones continued to prove that it has the ability to change things up like no one else.  Hit the jump for more on “the dwarf, the cripple, and the mother of madness.”

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