THE AMERICANS Recap: “A Little Night Music”

by     Posted 31 days ago

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“A Little Night Music” (which sounds like it should be the title of a Bob Seger song) brought another narratively and emotionally twisty hour of The Americans.  There are several things that are haunting Philip and Elizabeth, and potentially affecting their work — something Claudia notes.  But Claudia is also a little off, and like everything on the show, suspicion abounds.  Emmett and Leanne’s deaths set off a chain reaction that resonates from the Jennings to Claudia to the Center, Arkady, Stan and everyone.  No one is above the potential for treachery, but the emotions behind each case are bubbling to the surface in a way we haven’t seen before.  Hit the jump … unless you need a higher security clearance.

JUSTIFIED Recap: “Weight”

by     Posted 32 days ago

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Season five of Justified is now in its home stretch.  With only three episodes left, there are still some elements to interlace if we’re to look back on this as a cohesive season.  “Weight” contained some big moments, including the loss of two great supporting characters and a visit to one of Harlan’s sleaziest rogues who we haven’t seen since season 3.  More on this episode of Justfied after the jump.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Caleb”

by     Posted 32 days ago

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After cleaning house to start the season, Bates Motel began building up some new tensions and difficulties for Norma and Norman, as well as expanding the scope of White Pine Bay.  What makes Bates Motel more than just a sequel to Psycho is how it has cribbed enough Twin Peaks-like atmosphere to create its own shadowy story, suggesting that the boundaries of the motel are only one part of this much larger tale.  But as Norma and Norman venture out into the town and begin meeting more new characters, the show has stayed true to its twisted heart, never leaving things with the Bates quiet for long.  Hit the jump for more.

GIRLS Recap: “I Saw You”

by     Posted 34 days ago

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Girls has had a resurgent season.  What started off tepid at best (and horrifyingly grating at worst) gained momentum, and the back half of this third season had been more subdued. The girls were beginning to — possibly — mature and realize things about themselves.  Hannah got a job, and almost became empathetic in her relationship struggles.  Last week, each character seemed on a precipice of self-knowledge, and the question was, would it play out in “I Saw You”?  The answer is … no.  But, hit the jump for what did happen.

JUSTIFIED Recap: “Wrong Roads”

by     Posted 39 days ago

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Season 5 of Justified has so far been the least cohesive.  It’s still been good, even great at times, but the show always works best when the individual story lines click together, something this season hasn’t been too keen on.  Until now.  “Wrong Roads” brought the show’s current lineup of riff raff together for 53 minutes of standoffs and revelations.  While Raylan still seems peripheral to the major story, he did get one ugly look in the hypothetical mirror.  More on “Wrong Roads” after the jump.

HANNIBAL Recap: “Sakizuki”

by     Posted 43 days ago

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Hannibal has truly taken on a new dimension this year, expanding its stories and building off of last year’s setup beautifully.  It’s not taking a lot of time to integrate new viewers to the series if they didn’t catch up on the first season, but kudos to it for knowing its purpose in a way that just presses forward regardless.  You’re either on this train, or you’re not (and you should want to be).

The writing and the staging in “Sakizuki” were beautiful (and occasionally horrible), and Hannibal continues to find new ways to approach and keep fresh its central conflict between Will and Hannibal.  For what is the show about if not therapy and friendship?  Oh, gruesome murder.  Right.  Hit the jump for why “I am the unreliable narrator of my own story.”

THE AMERICANS Recap: “Cardinal”

by     Posted 45 days ago

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The Americans slowed down a little bit this week to take stock of the Big Event that occurred in the premiere.  In that spirit of reflection, I started thinking about what is making the show so much stronger this year.  The Americans took some time to get off the ground, though that criticism has also been lobbied at shows that, of course, turned into some of TV’s best (like Mad Men andThe Wire, both of which began as slow-burns).  This second season of The Americans is proving that the setup and the time it took for it to find its footing last year is now paying off through a narrative cohesion the show lacked, to a certain degree, in its first season.  Hit the jump for why “I’m gonna get a gun!”

JUSTIFIED Recap: “Whistle Past the Graveyard”

by     Posted 46 days ago

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Justified has two of the strongest leads on television today in Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins.  The show is always better when these two are together, but they’re each solid enough to carry separate stories.  Which is great, because their paths still haven’t converged in season 5.  Instead, Boyd is still trying to get outta Mexico with his drugs and Raylan got a standalone story that revealed some interesting truths about Wendy and Kendal Crowe.  More thoughts on “Whistle Past the Graveyard” after the jump.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Gone But Not Forgotten”

by     Posted 47 days ago

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Last year, Bates Motel proved itself a surprisingly strange and hypnotic entry to the TV landscape.  Not only did the series find a way to be much more than just a prequel to the Hitchcock film, but the performances (particularly by Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates) were unlike anything else.  Bates Motel also created a unique setting — modern, yet a throwback — and expanded the world of White Pine Bay beyond the motel and its infamous inhabitants.  “Gone But Not Forgotten” picked up right where the show left off last year with its mysterious and potentially damning finale, but in its typical way, ultimately wriggled away from what seemed to be the obvious truth.  Hit the jump for why “this is the road that’s going to ruin our lives.”

HANNIBAL Recap: “Kaiseki”

by     Posted 50 days ago

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A very strong start for the much-anticipated return of NBC’s Hannibal, which surprised just about everyone last year with the depth and breadth of its artistic palette and emotionally involved, nightmarish plots.  Its second season premiere included all of those elements and then some, catching viewers up on the current state of things through a series of prison visitations, and one very freaky ear.  Hit the jump for why it’s a real shame when “my bloodhound went mad.”

THE AMERICANS Recap: “Comrades”

by     Posted 52 days ago

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Sometimes a good drama takes a turn that makes it a great drama.  With its explosive premiere, The Americans seems poised to make that leap.  After a good inaugural season, the show still had some problems, mostly related to its quasi-procedural aspects.  But its strongest point was always the interpersonal relationships, particularly between Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) Jennings.  This new season of the show has already capitalized on that in a huge way, and while there are some things about it that are still deeply tied to the spy genre, the show has now opened itself up in ways that look to change it forever.  Hit the jump for more.

THE FOLLOWING Recap: “Fly Away”

by     Posted 54 days ago

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Before this season of The Following began, those involved with its inner workings assured audiences that the show was going to be different.  Not so randomly gory, for one (so, fail), and that there would be more twists (also fail).  The real twist is that The Following has essentially abandoned its entire season one premise, but replaced it with nothing.  The followers are all dead, not a single person has mentioned Edgar Allan Poe, and now Joe Carroll casually drops that he isn’t a writer, or at least, a very good one.  What?  Hit the jump for more.

THE FOLLOWING Recap: “Reflection”

by     Posted 61 days ago

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The Following toyed with something interesting in “Reflection,” and then abandoned it.  But for a minute there, the idea that Ryan and Joe might be on opposing trajectories — at least for now — was a good one.  Joe rejects Lily’s offer of a torture chamber, complete with sacrificial lamb, while Ryan essentially goes on a killing spree.  But in the end, Joe was Joe, and Ryan is, well, a mess.  Hit the jump for why “Joe seems cool?”

THE FOLLOWING Recap: “Family Affair”

by     Posted 68 days ago

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The Following is best viewed in a communal setting, because its real value is providing viewers with plenty of snide remarks on the ineptitude of the FBI, and suggestions about if and how characters will be killed off.  It’s nearly a game, to guess if someone will be bludgeoned, gutted or garroted to meet their end, and discerning whether new characters are friends or foes.  The show plays its foreshadowing both ways: sometimes obvious situations remain obvious, or they are their exact opposite.  Hit the jump for more.

THE FOLLOWING Recap: “Trust Me”

by     Posted 75 days ago

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Unlike last week’s meager offering, this week, The Following actually twisted things up and proved capable of a few surprises.  The Following is often ridiculous, so what saves it has to be its twists and its frights.  “Trust Me” also continued to build up a new following — one that is about the cult of Joe, not about the cult of Poe.  So while the main relationship between Joe and Ryan remains the same, the show is at least setting up something new with these new followers, led by one tough mother.  Hit the jump for more.

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