HANNIBAL Recap: “Mukozuke”

by     Posted 25 days ago

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This past week, critic Matthew Zoller Seitz asked fellow critics to “please write about filmmaking.“  That is, to comment on the specific visual elements that gives a piece its tone, its emotion, its power (or lack thereof).  He extended the call to TV criticism, and it’s often an element that’s ignored on the small screen, because it’s not presented as insistently as, say, the serialized plot points.  There are some series though that embody and push the boundary of visual art, like the recently departed True DetectiveHannibal, too must be included in the list.  What makes it such an exceptional show is the atmosphere and artistic composition that elevates it from more than just a story of murder.  Hit the jump for more.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Check-Out”

by     Posted 29 days ago

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Bates Motel‘s “Check-Out” was an episode about consequence.  The series has done a great job of weaving everything together, so that every action has a repercussion somewhere in the causal web of White Pine Bay.  It makes for tight narratives, but it could also lead to the problem of an over-reliance on coincidence and convenience.  Instead, Bates Motel embraces that and turns it into a motif, where every “coincidence” seems manifested from the sinister atmosphere of the location.  And instead of being a convenience, it’s a horror.  Hit the jump for why you can check-out, but you can never leave …

GIRLS Season 3 Finale Recap: “Two Plane Rides”

by     Posted 31 days ago

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A far less divisive episode than Girls‘ Season Two finale, “Two Plane Rides” caused Season Three to quit while it was ahead.  Again, going in the opposite trajectory of last season, this year (with a few hiccups) improved almost every week, particularly when the show went back to relying on vignettes and an artful portrayal of its character’s lives, instead of becoming too mired in their individual (and particularly Hannah’s) neuroses.  At the same time, what is considered a good episode of Girls is still one riddled with head-scratching moments.  Hit the jump for a reminder that “Iowa is not a coast.”

HANNIBAL Recap: “Takiawase”

by     Posted 32 days ago

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“Takiawase” finally finds Will readying for battle in his war against Hannibal.  It was also an episode full of swirling aesthetics and deeply emotional moments — it’s unsurprising maybe that Scott Nimerfro co-wrote the episode, he being of the late Pushing Daisies.  “Takiawase” was full of Daisy-esque turns, from the bees (reminiscent of the Season Two opener “Bzzzzzz!”) as well as the animation peppered throughout.  Will, too, seems to have woken up from his catatonia, and was incredibly punchy with Chilton and Beverly.  As he continues to mount his campaign against Hannibal though, his biggest ally may not have properly heeded his warnings.  Hit the jump for why it’s ok to look into the sun if you don’t have any eyes (or a brain).

THE AMERICANS Recap: “A Little Night Music”

by     Posted 35 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 36 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 36 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 38 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 43 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 47 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 49 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 50 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 51 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 54 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 56 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.

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