Now, on with the shows…
Boardwalk Empire: “Blue Bell Boy”; Season Three, Episode Four
This episode could very well have been called “My Melancholy Baby”. Even as the initial set-ups seem to suggest that things might be going well for characters – Margaret gets her clinic, Nucky is set to find his poacher, Tabor Heights will just be avoided – but of course things don’t stay calm in Atlantic City (and its outliers) for long. And even if it’s ostensibly calm, the ache runs deep. Winter and Van Patten are still creating a fine drama in a post-Darmody but a great scene this episode encapsulates my overarching worry. Nucky, Owen and a teen hide in a cellar to escape the police. They are that close to danger and the scene works, but there’s a potent lack of bated breath thrills because ultimately we don’t have that emotional connection to Nucky or Owen (at least not yet). Margaret is the closest thing to a beating heart the show has, but she’s not involved in the gangster machinations where the most emotional thrills are essential. It’s why what the episode accomplishes with Al Capone as the episode draws to a close becomes so phenomenal.
Episode Grade: B+
Dexter: “Sunshine and Frosty Swirl”; Season Seven, Episode Two
Episode Grade: B+
The Good Wife: “…And the Law Won”; Season Four, Episode Two
First things first, this Kalinda issue has me worried. Not because I am actually worried but the disconnect I feel with random utterances I’ve heard from fans who all but loathe it (seemingly) worries and confuses me especially since two episodes in we don’t know what the writers are moving to (as it should be) and since Kalinda has always been notoriously difficult to we have no idea – two episodes in – what she’s up to, if anything. The scene where Will grills her for being lax intrigues me more than annoys because it’ss not a case where Nick is destroying her cool as much as it’s one where he’s distracting her. It harkens back to her solitude – it’s what make her good at her job and just having to deal with a “husband” is distraction enough. Where it leads is something I’m invested in.
Episode Grade: B+
My thoughts a brilliant episode from Homeland and crazy fun wildness of Revenge below the jump...
Homeland: “Beirut is Back”; Season Two, Episode Two
Here’s how invested I was in this episode. Carrie is dashing through a home in Beirut looking for clues, something, anything while Saul and company wait agitatedly for her in the car. The crowd outside gets hostile and a brick smashes into their windowpane. I’m so caught up in the moment I flinch as much as the characters do. But, it’s not just the direction. The episode is plotted and written with necessary depth but tightly constructed. Chip Johansson wrote my favourite season 1 episodes (“The Vest”, “Achilles Heel”, “Clean Skin”) and I love his work here. Carrie’s scenes with Saul before her breakdown then the one with him after are just deftly written and give Claire and Mandy so many things to do while evoking so much profundity in their characters. What transcends the good norm of character study is that with Johansson’s script and Cuesta’s direction the character study doesn’t happen when the thrills are done but they happen AS the thrills come. “Did we get him?” Carrie frantically asks, disappointed in the turn of events while Saul calm regards the fallout as a success.
Episode Grade: A/A-
Revenge: “Resurrection”; Season Two, Episode Two
Revenge can go for the emotional juggernaut and really floor you with their poignancy sometimes. Still, in a way, they’re most interesting when they go for the full out frothy, madcap silliness that only they can do as well – as far as primetime TV goes. The twist upon twist of Conrad realising Victoria’s survival then to the staged kidnapping and a further way to manipulate their children together is so gloriously, ridiculously amazing I can’t even deal. Poor Daniel Grayson is being played on so many front right (father, mother, sister, “girlfriend”, former-girlfriend) no wonder he’s turned to weird hair-does (intervention needed). The Grayson wildness is so good it’s able to prevent the insipidity of the Porter boys from dulling the episode. Fauxmanda deserves a better arc than being in love with Jack and the less said about Declan the better. Significantly, though, it’s important that Batmanda lies to FauxManda which is either a salient strategic move or a very emotional one borne from jealously. As much as I want Batmanda to succeed we must recall that FauxManda is a “problem” she created, and further FauxManda has done nothing but pledge allegiance to her for the most apart.
Episode Grade: B+
Other points to note
- A fine example of how much the show can move me sometimes. When I saw that clipping of the female aviatrix’s death I felt as devastated as Margaret.
- I swear I’d watch the show within a show where Quinn goes around getting duped by strippers. I like Desmond Harrington.
- Fine, two episodes in only but where are my good Diane or Cary scenes?
- Will young love make Dana more bearable? Time will tell.
- Okay, I'm sorry, Declan's rich partner-in-crime was hitting on him right? RIGHT?
Standout Sunday Performances
Claire Danes in Homeland A/A-
Michael C. Hall in Dexter B+/A-
Mandy Patinkin in Homeland B+/A-
Madeleine Stowe in Revenge B+
Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire B+
Julianne Margulies in The Good Wife B+
Stephen Graham in Boardwalk Empire B+
What did you watch this Sunday?