BATES MOTEL Recap: “Meltdown”

by     Posted 16 hours ago

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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

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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

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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

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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?

HANNIBAL Recap: “Su-zakana”

by     Posted 5 days ago

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“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.”

BATES MOTEL Recap: “Presumed Innocent”

by     Posted 8 days ago

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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

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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

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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

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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 11 days ago

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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 15 days ago

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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 17 days ago

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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 17 days ago

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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 19 days ago

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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 22 days ago

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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.

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