BATES MOTEL Recap: “Presumed Innocent”

by     Posted Yesterday


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 3 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 3 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 3 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.”

HANNIBAL Recap: “Yakimono”

by     Posted 4 days ago


While everyone else on Hannibal spins around in confusion and disbelief (or delusion), Will Graham has become the stoic.  “You changed me,” he tells Hannibal later, and the transformation is clear.  No longer a trembling and confused pawn himself, Will has emerged through the looking glass completely sure of himself, the facts, and his mission.  Though those around him continue to doubt, he betrays a confidence in his singularity of will that is so rewarding to watch.  Now that he’s free, he’s able to more effectively move against his foe.  But Hannibal has many other things in store, none of which phase Will, but they do complicate his efforts.  Hit the jump for why “he works in the shadows.  Deny him of that.”

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Plunge”

by     Posted 8 days ago


In “Plunge,” Bates Motel starts the complicated unraveling of Norman.  There have been hints that have burst through the placid surface of how Norman would develop into the man known from Psycho, but the series has shown great restraint in keeping his weirdness present, without making it the only thing.  The expansion into the town of White Pine Bay continued this hour, with Dylan learning more about the business he’s a part of, and Norma making a play for the city council.  But the most shocking thing about Norman’s contribution to his own story this week was how it wasn’t shocking at all.  In a town like White Pine Bay, his actions (and reactions) should barely register.  Still, it makes his desire for anonymity that much harder.  Hit the jump for why, judging by the company you keep, I know all I need to know.

SILICON VALLEY Series Premiere Recap: “Minimum Viable Product”

by     Posted 10 days ago


Mike Judge‘s (Office Space) new series Silicon Valley is finely-honed satire.  It’s technically a comedy, but with so much to lampoon about the tech industry, the series shows restraint by taking its time and building in both visual and conversational jokes.  Comedy pilots can be a series’ weakest point, but “Minimum Viable Product” was (probably thanks to Judge’s experience and success) a strong start for a show that knows its purpose and the story it wants to tell.  Hit the jump for why you don’t even know the half of it (and neither does Congress).

GAME OF THRONES Season 4 Premiere Recap: “Two Swords”

by     Posted 10 days ago


There’s a reason why HBO had a twenty-five-minute recap of Game of Thrones third season in preparation for the fourth: the tales have become more varied and twisted than the swords that make up the Iron Throne.  Picking up halfway through A Storm of Swords‘ story (the massive third book of the Song of Ice and Fire series), Game of Thrones‘ new season had a lot to catch up on, and a lot to explain moving forward.  The most powerful and meaningful sequence though was its first: the Lannisters are not just conquering their enemies, they’re gobbling them up and repurposing them.  Hit the jump for more.

HANNIBAL Recap: “Futamono”

by     Posted 12 days ago


And then there was “Futamono.”  Hannibal‘s sixth episode this season served up everything the show has to offer.  Even Will’s dog pack made an appearance.  In many ways (mostly narrative), it was too scattered of an episode.  But per usual, its visuals saved it, and connected it even when there was no connection to be made.  Hannibal has been without surprises for a long time; as I mentioned last week, the show will always lack some degree of suspense because its eventualities are known.  But “Futamono’s” best quality was that of surprise.  There were a number of twists that made it as fascinating gnarled as a tree growing through a man.  Hit the jump for why you’re wearing your concentration like a brimming cup.

BATES MOTEL Recap: “The Escape Artist”

by     Posted 15 days ago


There were a few things that needed to happen for Bates Motel, even with such a limited number of episodes per season, for it to be able to continue.  Since there’s an obvious endpoint down the line, the question becomes how to expand upon the story in a believable way (for this crazy landscape, anyway).  But, also in a narratively satisfying way, one that pays homage to that eventual end, and that has its own, separate stories beforehand.  “The Escape Artist” was an episode that beefed up on everything that wasn’t about Norma and Norman’s relationship, which was a welcomed departure story-wise, but emotionally, made the episode less haunting than usual.  Hit the jump for more.

HANNIBAL Recap: “Mukozuke”

by     Posted 18 days ago


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 22 days ago


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 24 days ago


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 25 days ago


“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 28 days ago

the americans season 2 keri russell matthew rhys slice

“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.

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