“Open House” happens to be the title of one of my all time favourite Breaking Bad episodes, and it couldn’t be more different from the episode of The Americans by the same name. Breaking Bad‘s fourth season started slowly as it focused on all the damage Walt had done to the people around him, as Hank’s injury and subsequent assholery led to the resurfacing of Marie’s kleptomania. On the other hand, Phillip and particularly Elizabeth are in danger of being caught by the CIA and FBI as they have the opportunity to bug one of the CIA officers that’s part of the Afghan Group.
Alicia Florrick is adrift. Once again she walks into a press conference as the result of a political scandal, except she’s the one stepping away from public office instead of her husband. Nearly six years ago, when Peter resigned, she had nothing; they had to sell the house to pay his legal fees, but she moved into an apartment with her children, and she was able to use her connections to get a job at one of the best law firms in Chicago. From there it’s only gotten better, as she separated from Peter (more than once), had an affair with Will, and started her own law firm. Now Will is dead, she ran for public office in order to get rid of Castro. She won, but her win was due to rigged voting machines that the Democratic Party had installed in order to keep the supermajority in the Illinois Senate. This week she nearly irreparably damages her professional and personal relationship with Diane before Lockhart, Agos and Lee’s new client RD tells them he’s going to leave the firm if they bring Alicia back as name partner. Oh, and Kalinda skips town before Lemond Bishop’s man, aka Body from The Wire, can kill her.
I know that it’s impossible now that Parks and Recreation is over, but I really wanted them to have a crossover episode with Community. Just think how great it would have been to let Britta Perry and Ron Swanson try and bring down the government. That’s pretty much my dream sitcom combination there. But now, thanks to “Intro to Recycled Cinema”, that dream is dead – all because Jeff Winger doesn’t understand why the world loves Chris Pratt more than they love him. Actually, that’s not his main issue, but we’ll get to that later. In a rare move for Community, there was only storyline this week, and it was all because of Chang’s newfound fame.
One of the biggest compliments I can give Jane the Virgin is that I’m invested in the romantic storylines. It’s hard for me to admit that I’m a shipper, but I am. My problem isn’t usually in the existence of romantic storylines, but in the love triangles that are so manufactured that you can see the work has been put into them. Jennie Snyder Urman and her writers room have done such great work with the Jane/Rafael/Michael love triangle that not only have I gotten invested in it, but I’ve been on both Team Rafael and Team Michael. So often, particularly in young adult fiction, the author of a story (Twilight and The Hunger Games immediately come to mind) is so on the side of one team (Edward and Peeta), that you know who the female protagonist is going to end up with before you read the final book in the series. In the first half of the season, I was on Team Rafael, but uneasy with how quickly Rafael and Jane entered their relationship. By the time Rafael proposed to Jane, I changed my mind. For these sorts of stories to work, there has to be sufficient character development, and Jane the Virgin has put in the effort to make both Michael and Rafael potential matches for Jane.
A warning to people who haven’t read any of the books in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, this post contains book spoilers from the fifth book in the series, and possibly from the fourth, and I’m going to speculate on how the series is going to adapt these events in regards to Tyrion’s storyline. I’ve only read the series once, so I’m by no means an expert. The events in the fourth and fifth instalments of Martin’s series, A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons take place simultaneously. The world of Westeros and Essos had grown so large that Martin saw fit to place half of the point-of-view characters in the fourth book, and the other half in the fifth. Tyrion is not seen at all in A Feast for Crows, so readers don’t catch up with his story until A Dance With Dragons. Tyrion’s storyline in the television series Game of Thrones is similar, but also markedly different from the books.
Immediately after I watched this week’s episode of Orphan Black, I slept for two and a half hours. I only woke up about 20 minutes ago, so this could be an interesting review. After some nice interaction between the sestras in the season premiere, today our favourite clones were scattered to the winds. It’s as if Manson and Fawcett decided to give the fans some of what they wanted last week and had to get on with the job this week. And instead of scenes with more than one Maslany, we got scenes with more than one Millen. I understand the importance of plot, but who are these guys? What is their mission? Why are they ‘glitching’? Is it like when the Leda clones get cancer? I have these questions, but I’m not particularly invested in the answers because I’m not invested in the characters the way I am our female clones. And if they don’t fix that soon, it’s going to get frustrating.
It’s 10:30 pm on ANZAC Day and I haven’t bothered to start a review of anything (it’s been quite a busy day – because the shops don’t open until 1pm, I went to the supermarket with mum at 1:30 and I’ve never seen it so busy in my life), so I’m going to write a quick update of what I’ve been watching other than my regularly reviewed shows this week.
Mad Men: I have no idea where this season of Mad Men is going. I don’t really have much more to say than that. Mad Men always seems to start slowly, I remember not being too enamoured with it at the same time in season 7A. Then I watched “The Strategy” which I think is my favourite episode of the show to date. Between the dancing scene and Don, Peggy and Pete eating at Burger Chef, there was so much depth and history to all of those characters and their relationships with each other that I ignored whatever else was going on. I’d be fascinated to see whether or not Weiner can top that.
Game of Thrones: In the hypothetical piece I’m writing about finales, I might also write about premieres, because the internet has been complaining that this season has started slowly. I watch Game of Thrones for the scenes where there are two people talking in a room, like that scene in the first season with Robert and Cersei as they reminisced on their marriage, not for the big events like The Red Wedding, which was admittedly devastating. Joffrey died in the second episode of season four, and Daenerys burned Astapor to the ground in the fourth episode of season three, but I can’t remember anything like that happening in the first half of the first two seasons. And now they’re going off-book I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m excited anyway.
Marvel’s Daredevil: I started watching this a few days ago after I heard the latest instalment of The Station Agents, where Joanna Robinson and Dustin Rowles said that it had ruined all other comic book shows for them. I don’t watch any other comic book shows at all, but I was looking for something to watch so I didn’t burn through the fourth season of Lost too quickly, and it’s great. I love that there’s character work, and also the twin issues of crime and gentrification in Hell’s Kitchen, which is an interesting angle for the show to explore. I haven’t read any of the comic books, so I have no idea whether this is a storyline they’ve used. Either way, I think that comic books are better suited to television than film, because if you’re telling an origin story you can get it out of the way quickly, or deploy it sporadically in flashbacks as Daredevil does, rather than devoting an entire feature length film to it. The performances are wonderful; for me the highlight is Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page (there should also be more Rosario Dawson), and I’m so happy it’s been renewed for a second season.
Suits: I love watching Harvey and Mike do their thing. I’ve written about Suits before, and I’ve nearly finished the third season and it sort of got interesting when Louis caught onto Mike’s lie. I say ‘sort of’ because I don’t particularly care that Mike does not have a law degree, it was fine for the first two seasons, but can’t it just be a fun legal drama now? Donna is still the best character, and I’m torn about whether I want Harvey to be with him or Scotty. Is Harvey even good enough for Donna? The correct answer is no, because no one is good enough for Donna.
The PowerPuff Girls: There was one stage when I was embarrassed about liking this show (mainly because an ex shamed me for it), but that was a stupid thing to be embarrassed about, because this show is great. The fourth season is available for streaming on Stan, and watching it over ten years after I loved it has opened up a different side of the show for me. Once they started making longer episodes, they were able to explore their ideas more, and the fourth season episode “Members Only” explores issues of gender in a much more complex way than many “adult” shows that are airing right now.
Now that I have Netflix, I’ve found that it’s much easier to find time to watch things. I no longer need to put in a DVD to watch Lost legally, and since my 30 day free trial is up today, I also haven’t had to pay anything just yet. I watched the first half of Lost’s third season very quickly when I had a day off work, and from what I can understand, that was much better than having to go through the ordeal of those first six episodes weekly, then a long break before the good stuff even started. It also meant that the Nikki and Paolo episode felt out of place, but it was just the episode that was on after the stunning “The Man From Tallahassee”. Like the “Jack’s tattoo” episode (which stands out as the least essential episodes of all of Jack’s flashbacks) coming just after “Flashes Before Your Eyes”, “Expose” came after another great episode of the show. Maybe they should have switched those around, I don’t know.
How do you hold onto your humanity when you’re breaking the arms and legs of a dead asset so that you can dispose of her in a suitcase? How do you ensure that your children have a better life than you do? The Americans is a great show because it engages with these questions using Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings. As they stuff Annalise into a suitcase, they’re always thinking about their children, especially Paige. They don’t want this life for her. Phillip voices his fears when he says that he doesn’t want his daughter to be stuffing people into suitcases, or to be in Annalise’s position, which is understandable. These people are also killers, but like any good television characters, they’re not just one thing. The Centre made them pretend to be a married couple with children, and the fact of the matter is that these children are the Jennings’ weakness. They’re just like any other parents.
“Advanced Safety Features” might be the best episode of Community‘s sixth season so far. It’s not breaking ground or anything, but it’s a solid, funny episode of Community with good character development, and that’s all I ask of this show. There were no love triangles, there was a game about ears, and the A-story featured both Britta and the Dean. The writers have also figured out how to use Frankie and Elroy to their best capacity. Not to mention that some of Community’s best recurring characters in Deb, George and Rick/Subway/Honda came back.