THE KNICK Recap: “They Capture the Heat”

by     Posted 19 days ago


After watching so many Fall pilots in which everything is spelled out and set up in sometimes excruciating “telling but not showing” detail, The Knick is a breath of fresh air from the other side of the spectrum.  But for The Knick, it’s also not about style over substance (like, say, Boardwalk Empire‘s latest premiere) or telling vignettes that don’t seem to propel the story forward in any way (like much of Masters of Sex this season).  Instead, it swims along, connecting everything back to the premise of early 20th century medicine in a number of different ways, while keeping them all interesting.  Hit the jump for why “it’s a crying shame all those pretty silver stitches are going to seal up that fat man.”

SONS OF ANARCHY Season Seven Premiere Recap: “Black Widower”

by     Posted 22 days ago


Sons of Anarchy has always made bold choices, but nothing could have been more controversial or far-reaching within the world of SAMCRO than its sixth season finale.  It was the culmination of struggles that existed on several different planes on the show: Gemma and Tara, Jax and Clay, and between a motorcycle club in theory versus and an outlaw gang in practice.  The back-and-forth that has taken place over the last six seasons, though, now has a clear resolution.  As the show’s final season begins, it’s also clear that the focus is going to be on endings — and most of them personal.  Hit the jump for why “I am the only thread holding this family together.”

MASTERS OF SEX Recap: “Story of My Life”

by     Posted 23 days ago

masters of sex recap

In “Story of My Life,” Bill and Ginny both used surrogates to gain unexpected, deeper understandings of themselves.  This season of Masters of Sex has not been as even as most of us had hoped, having both some great episodes (“Fight”) and some clunkers (last week’s “Mirror, Mirror” to name but one).  Many of Masters‘ best stories come from characters who aren’t Masters or Johnson, but what made “Story of My Life” one of the better episodes this season was that it took that idea and applied it to Masters and Johnson, making them better in the process.  Hit the jump if you like French New Wave.

THE LEFTOVERS Season One Finale Recap: “The Prodigal Son Returns”

by     Posted 23 days ago


For those who were ambivalent about The Leftovers, but decided to at least finish out the season, the finale was the make or break moment.  In a season with great highs and very, very deep lows, there was a hope that things might settle down into something decent at least.  Though creators Damon Lindelof and Tom Perotta said they didn’t agree on whether the show was supernaturally-oriented or not, it seemed possible that the finale would help clear that up as it steered its story towards the future, and a second season.  But what we got was “The Prodigal Son Returns.”  Hit the jump; I’ll be dead in a minute.

THE STRAIN Recap: “The Disappeared”

by     Posted 24 days ago


After last week’s excellent Walking Dead-esque “Creatures of the Night,” things went back to normal in The Strain‘s “The Disappeared.”  The gang continues to assemble, the virus spreads, more backstory about Abraham and Eichhorst and the Master is revealed, and we learned that even in times of apocalypse, there’s plenty of time for lovemakin’ (but only if you make it clear to the person immediately afterwards that it meant nothing to you).  Also, that kids are really into fighting vampires, and are not afraid to burn some bodies along the way.  Hit the jump for why “there’s power in naming things.”

BOARDWALK EMPIRE Recap: Season 5 Premiere, “Golden Days for Boys and Girls”

by     Posted 24 days ago


The first episode of Boardwalk Empire‘s final season was a dreamy meditation, punctuated by violence.  That’s also a pretty good way to describe the series at its best.  “Golden Days for Boys and Girls” also set the stage for what Boardwalk‘s final season is going to look like as a whole: acknowledging the pull of the past, but focused on moving forward.  Moving forward also means a time jump from Season 4′s 1924 setting all the way to 1931.  Hit the jump if you are an honest and true boy (or girl).

RAY DONOVAN Recap: “Snowflake”

by     Posted 24 days ago

ray donovan recap snowflake

Though Ray Donovan‘s “Snowflake” was largely focused on the fallout from “Sunny’s” brutal murders, it was also still about the show’s central theme of how Ray, and what he does, affects his family.  As Detective Halloran tells him (after Ray threatens him to stay away from his kids): “you’re the one who turned your daughter into a liar.”  By the end of “Snowflake,” Ray’s cracks about decisions like those were starting to show.  Is he really ready to confront things?  Hit the jump for Shorty’s 9/11 Truther theories.

THE KNICK: “Where’s The Dignity?”

by     Posted 26 days ago


At some point I’m going to stop pointing out that what makes The Knick such an engrossing watch is Steven Soderbergh‘s direction, but we’re not at that point yet.  Consider everything that Soderbergh’s unique filmic sensibilities do to make The Knick different from other period or medical dramas, and you’ll see that without that visual distinction, The Knick would still be good, but it might not be special.  The cast and the narrative are all great, but what brings it all together — what makes it shine, and really stand apart — is the direction.  Hit the jump for why “If he dies because of your horseshit, I will stab you in the throat with my father’s Union Army sword.”

THE STRAIN Recap: “Creatures of the Night”

by     Posted 31 days ago


Something is going on with current TV shows where (this week in particular) a capsule, single-focus episode sneaks in around mid-season.  It’s a good thing.  It’s also a great way for character development, instead of having the plot jump all over town, whipping from story to story.  The device also makes the show feel more novelistic, and acts as a great stand-alone (one of those episodes, too, that you can point to to get new viewers interested).  “Creatures of the Night” was all of that, and it continued The Strain‘s track record of improving every single week.  Hit the jump to put it to a vote: “who wants to stay and die?”

MASTERS OF SEX Recap: “Mirror, Mirror”

by     Posted 31 days ago


The hope for Masters of Sex was that it would have a second season renaissance that would collate the best parts of its first season, and leave the rest in the dust.  Masters had a good first season, but none of it came together as beautifully as it did in just its second season premiere.  Since then, only “Fight” has really been exceptional, and instead of taking flight, Masters‘ second season has gotten stalled out in some tedium (like the fact that an episode that spanned three years only covered, essentially, one conversation, then ended up back where things started).  “Mirror, Mirror” had some great moments (mostly thanks to Flo), but still felt like more of the same.  Hit the jump if you’ve been a very naughty orthopedist.

RAY DONOVAN Recap: “Sunny”

by     Posted 31 days ago


The best laid plans of Ray and kin often go astray.  The overarching irony of Ray Donovan is that for a fixer, Ray isn’t very good when it comes to his own family.  The truth about him laundering money through the gym to help support Terry (as well as clean Ray’s money) ends up alienating Terry completely.  The house in Trusdale meant nothing to Abby without Ray’s emotional support behind it, and she finally challenges his years of cheating on her.  Ray was willing to allow Cookie Brown to take hold of Marvin’s life, so long as he moved him to South Beach to keep him away from Bridget.  But that, too, turned sour quickly.  Hit the jump for Ray’s other misdeeds, and how it all might get put back together again.

THE LEFTOVERS Recap: “The Garveys At Their Best”

by     Posted 37 days ago


In the penultimate episode of its inaugural season, The Leftovers finally gave viewers a reason to care about the Garveys.  It took nine hours to get here — was it worth it?  Like so much about The Leftovers, the placement of “The Garveys At Their Best” is a question of pacing.  It would have been a harrowing season opener, or another early episode.  Was Damon Lindelof afraid that a flashback episode would feel too much like Lost?  (That the present only matters because of the revelations of the past?)  Or was there a feeling that waiting this long would make the character reveals more interesting?  In any case, it arrived — hit the jump for why “I smoked.  And I don’t want a dog.”

TRUE BLOOD Series Finale Recap: “Thank You”

by     Posted 38 days ago


True Blood‘s final season was a long goodbye, and its finale was an opportunity to craft its legacy regarding what, exactly, we were ultimately saying goodbye to.  To judge True Blood on “Thank You” is, like I mentioned last week, to parallel the fan experience with the relationship between Sookie and Bill.  True Blood had to end for us to live with ourselves.  As Sookie said, “You’re choosing to die because I have no self respect?”  And we couldn’t be more grateful.  Hit the jump for the end.

THE STRAIN Recap: “For Services Rendered”

by     Posted 38 days ago


In “For Services Rendered,” The Strain slowed down the monster onslaught (somewhat) in order to reveal some backstories and world-building.  What it really proved, though, was that all of this is about Abraham versus Eichorst, and younguns need to be seated and learn a thing or two.  (Abraham learned about these vampires, and how to kill them, from his Bubbie, heard?  An Armenian-Romanian Bubbie, no less).  The episode also introduced us to a brand new friend (or possibly foe …).  Hit the jump, if your sword-cane is ready.

MASTERS OF SEX Recap: “Asterion”

by     Posted 38 days ago


In my recap of “Blackbird,” I mentioned that despite an emotionally compelling episode (in part), Masters of Sex seemed to really just be treading water.  That fact was also a disappointment primarily because of the Buell Green storyline, which flatlined before it had an opportunity to really be anything interesting.  “Asterion” had two major time jumps, but ultimately, they showed that the more things change, the more things stay the same.  Hit the jump for why “some things cannot be undone.”

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