What I Watched – May 23

23 May
© FOX

© FOX

In this week’s edition of the weekly wrap-up: SEASON FINALE-PALOOZA!

 

Episode of the Week

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Johnny and Dora”
What am I going to do without the Nine-Nine in my life for the next several months, you guys? This finale was about as perfect an episode of this show as they’ve ever done, and it’s just going to make the upcoming hiatus seem EVEN LONGER.

The main story this week revolved around the long-simmering romance between Jake and Amy. I have been a huge fan of how the show has handled the pairing – never letting it take over focus on the show, but still having a bit of fun with the will they/won’t they of it all. I was thrilled to see them finally take a step forward in the finale, though, particularly because it was just so much fun.

Amy and Jake found themselves out on assignment trying to track our bad guy for the week, and had to pose as a newlywed couple. This is not fresh territory, by any means (we saw Castle pull a similar move with Kate and Rick before they finally got together), but it worked SO well here. Jake was already so uncomfortable after admitting to Amy that he liked her again that being thrown into what was basically a date made him extra-twitchy. And any time Amy is nervous, she is hilarious – I particularly loved her exclamation of “SUCH A NORMAL TIME!” after she and Jake got back in the van with Rosa and Boyle after kissing to keep up their cover.

After two “totally professional” kisses (and some awfully sincere declarations of feelings at dinner, also to maintain their cover), the actual kiss at the end of the episode seemed all but inevitable, but still made me squeal in excitement. I loved that they got interrupted and didn’t really get to talk about it – it’s the perfect sort of thing to leave unresolved in a season finale, and I can’t wait to see where they’re at when we come back to the show in the fall.

Even beyond Jake and Amy, there was a ton of great stuff happening in this episode. Rosa and Boyle had a terrific storyline involving Rosa’s birthday (which she hates, because of course she does). Throughout the entire episode, Rosa was annoyed with Boyle, under the assumption he was bringing her to a surprise party at the end of the night. Meanwhile, Boyle kept proving just how well he knew Rosa – like her love of Gilmore Girls (Stephanie Beatriz’ frustrated delivery of “I just want Lorelai to be happy!” may be my favorite thing that Rosa’s ever done), among other things. So when the two of them showed up to her “surprise party” – an empty bar Marcus had rented out for just the two of them for the night, at Boyle’s suggestion. It was a very sweet moment and a great bit of development for that relationship as it moves even further away from Boyle’s crush on Rosa earlier in the show’s run.

Back at the precinct during all of this, Holt (with the help of Gina and Terry), was trying to prevent being reassigned to a job at 1PP by his nemesis Madeline Wuntch. If there’s anything to take away from this story, it’s that Terry and Gina should ALWAYS work together. Terry snuck an entire file cabinet past a clueless desk clerk while Gina distracted the guy with questions about bird-watching. It doesn’t get much more entertaining than that.

Of course, their efforts ultimately failed, and Holt was forced to fall on his sword for the good of the Nine-Nine. Wuntch threatened to send every cop in the unit to scattered places around New York City unless Holt accepted the promotion, so of course he did. With very little fanfare, he took his leave of the precinct. We got to see him get as close to emotional as he’s been in two seasons on the show (and it made everyone uncomfortable: “GO BACK TO BEING ROBOT CAPTAIN!”), and it was a perfect moment to lead into Jake and Amy’s first kiss.

Who will the new captain be? How will Holt and Gina find their way back to the Nine-Nine (you know it’s going to happen? What’s going to happen with Jake and Amy? Lots to find out in season 3, and I can’t wait!

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What I Watched – May 16

16 May
© ABC

© ABC

Two weeks in a row of weekly posts! Lots of season finales (or penultimate episodes) to talk about this week!

 

Episode of the Week

Agents of SHIELD – “SOS”
I have not been a fan of much of the second half of this season of Agents of SHIELD. Not that it’s been bad, necessarily, I just haven’t enjoyed a lot of the Inhuman stuff (which feels very much like it’s a breadcrumb trail for later movies and very little like it was considered the best plot idea for this show), and at times the sheer number of characters and different stories to follow has meant nothing got serviced quite the way it should.

But that finale was awesome.

The Bobbi kidnapping stuff was probably the strongest material in the episode (no surprise, as Adrianne Palicki is far and away the best thing about this show right now). Watching her break herself out of Ward’s lockup and nearly take out both him and Agent 33 was VERY satisfying (any time someone punches Ward, I am a happy fan).  But the best of the plotline came when Bobbi was tied up, with a machine gun rig pointed at the door, ready to fire at the first person who arrived to save her – and May and Hunter came looking for her. The tension throughout that sequence was unbelievably effective. The relationship between Bobbi and Hunter has been extremely enjoyable all season (there’s a reason ABC was contemplating a spinoff, folks), and I’m curious to see what happens next year after Bobbi’s near-fatal sacrifice to save Hunter’s life.

In the midst of all that, May tricked Ward into killing Agent 33 (who was using May’s face at the time) – which was an excellent dose of comeuppance for the show’s biggest asshole. Of course, it appears to have turned him back into an active bad guy, and not just a psycho-in-hiding, so in the long run, there could be big trouble for the SHIELD team. Ward is extremely focused on closure and revenge so I’m sure May will be his target in season 3.

While May, Bobbi, and Hunter were off dealing with Ward, everyone else was going to war with the Inhumans after Jiaying killed Gonzalez, claiming he attacked her, in the last episode. Skye initially sides with her mother, angry that SHIELD would attack her new family – and not realizing that Jiaying is basically out to destroy SHIELD and use the terrigen crystals on everyone she encounters in trying to find more Inhumans. Watching Skye take down May with her powers was a really terrific sequence – it was well choreographed and a powerful reminder that Skye is not the same person she was when the team took her in.

Ultimately, Coulson and Cal wound up playing a huge part in stopping Jiaying. She had sent Cal back to SHIELD as something of a Trojan horse, and her plan worked initially – we finally got to see him in full-on monster state, wrecking everything and everyone he comes in contact with. But Coulson, ever the smooth talker and quick-thinker, pinned him with a car and talked him off the ledge into realizing what a terrible thing Jiaying is trying to do, and that if Cal’s main concern really is Skye/Daisy, they were on the same team. In the end, Cal ended up killing Jiaying – sparing Skye the heartache of having to kill her own mother (and saving her life in the process). The two also had a very sweet final exchange before Cal had his mind wiped (thanks TAHITI program!) and was returned to the world with no knowledge of anything that had happened.

You may have noticed I have yet to mention FitzSimmons. THAT’S BECAUSE IT HURTS TOO MUCH. I am an unabashed fan of those two crazy kids, and it’s been painful to watch them not be friends all season. The last few weeks have brought glimmers of hope that they were finally getting back to normal (THE SANDWICH!). Just before Fitz went out in the field to help take down Gordon and retrieve the crystals this week, Simmons decided to broach the subject of Fitz’s underwater confession of his feelings for her last season. At that point, I was 100% convinced Fitz’s was going to die, because I’ve watched Whedon production before, so I was pleasantly surprised when he survived and the end tag was the two of them science-ing it up together. And then Fitz asked her on a date! And it was adorable!

AND THEN SHE GOT EATEN BY A GOD DAMN ALIEN ROCK.

Not okay, show. NOT OKAY.

*deep breath*

In any case, this was a terrific finale – it genuinely felt like a small scale Marvel movie, which is all I can really ask from this show when it comes to its bigger episodes. I think it’s left us in a great place for season three and I am anxiously awaiting the show’s return in the fall.

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What I Watched – May 9

9 May

It has been ENTIRELY too long since I’ve posted, and for that I apologize. I’ve been dealing with some health issues, my job has been crazy, and I had a powerful need to not lose my mind so this had to take a backseat for a bit. Things may still be a little inconsistent over the next couple of weeks, but once we hit June it should be smooth sailing.

I’m going to do this post a little bit differently today, in that I’m not picking out any particular episodes to write about. There are two reasons for this: one, nothing this week stuck out to me in an immediate “I need to write about this” sort of way; and two, as I’m writing this, I’m far too hung over to have the brain power to write about something that didn’t pop for me. REAL TALK.

Let’s get to it!

Moment(s) of the Week

Mad Men – “Lost Horizon”
This episode was terrific in general, but there are two moments in particular that I really loved, both involving the one and only Peggy Olsen.

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Vlog Season 2 #11 – Daredevil

17 Apr

My latest video is live!

This week is all about Netflix and Marvel’s Daredevil, which I LOVED. Some additional thoughts after the video!

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What I Watched – April 11

11 Apr
© AMC

© AMC

Lots of things happening this week! The April TV-pocalypse is underway!

Episode of the Week

Better Call Saul – “Marco”
It’s getting a little silly at this point how frequently Better Call Saul has landed in this weekly post – but what can I say? It was once again my favorite thing on TV this week.

“I know what stopped me. And you know what, it’s never stopping me again.”

And with that, Jimmy McGill drove off into the sunset, leaving season one exponentially closer to being Saul Goodman than when it started. After everything he’s been through over the past ten episodes, Jimmy finally realized that maybe all the work he’s putting into being a good guy just isn’t worth it, and being some version of “Slippin’ Jimmy” may just be the answer. Do I expect season 2 to open with him at his Saul Goodman-iest? Absolutely not. I think he’s still got a ways to go before he reaches that level of comfort with being a criminal. But his epiphany outside the law firm was an enormous step toward the Saul Goodman we’re familiar with from Breaking Bad.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. The ending made me grin like an idiot (I may or may not have actually said “oh man, that is EXCELLENT” out loud to my empty apartment as the episode faded out), but the build up of the finale was also terrific.

It was shocking to me how quickly the show was able to pivot my attitude towards Chuck (and, to an extent, Howard Hamlin). For the bulk of the season, he was the sad, lonely, potentially crazy brother. After last week’s gut punch of a fight with Jimmy, turns out Chuck has always been a jerk letting Howard do his dirty work. In light of that, Jimmy’s encounters with Hamlin in this episode take on an entirely different feel – and I’d be curious to see how earlier episodes play with the knowledge I have now. Similarly, watching Chuck deal with Ernesto the assistant was cringeworthy – I could hardly believe I’d ever felt bad for the man.

Jimmy’s entire life has been spent trying to impress his jerk of a brother, so the events of last week’s episode left him reeling. He tried to go back to his elder law work, helping with bingo games and the like, but snapped pretty quickly and headed back to Chicago – where he returned to his old “Slippin’ Jimmy” ways. The show put together a wonderful montage letting us see bits and pieces of the various cons Jimmy and his old friend Marco ran at their favorite bar (and the money they were pulling in). It was great to finally have a concrete look at this part of Jimmy’s life, and see just how good he was at these sorts of scams. (As an aside, I didn’t catch this when I watched, but there’s a terrific Breaking Bad easter egg buried in Jimmy’s Kevin Costner bit).

Of course, as seems to be the case for most things in Jimmy’s life, something had to go wrong. Marco convinced him to run the back alley Rolex con we saw as a cold open early in the season one more time – and then collapsed and died of a heart attack mid-scam. This is, among other things, the origin of the big ring Jimmy/Saul always wears on his pinky – but also clearly a big factor in the decision Jimmy makes later on not to take the big law firm job.

It would have been easy for Jimmy to step into that big-time law firm partnership gig. It would have been a huge “screw you” to Chuck after the awful things he said in the last episode. It would have been a chance to make money doing something other than flirting with old ladies. It was, conceivably, everything Jimmy has been hoping for since he got his law degree. But something stops him. The fun of being “Slippin’ Jimmy” again, the anger at Chuck, the realization he could have had everything this job offers him without the drama and the work it would take if he was just willing to cheat a little bit.

So he drove away.

I can’t wait to see what this show does next season – what Jimmy is up to when we see him again, whether he and Mike end up working together now that they’re both a bit dirty, and what surprises Vince Gilligan has in store. The first season was so much better than I could have hoped for, and I am excited to sit back and continue to enjoy the ride.

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Vlog Season 2 #10 – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

3 Apr

I’m finally back with another new video! It’s been ages!

This week, I talked all about my love for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which should surprise none of you if you follow me on Twitter. I’m a bit obsessed. The show is terrific.

What are your thoughts on the show?

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What I Watched – March 28

28 Mar
© AMC

© AMC

It’s been a while! If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been having some health issues that have kept me from updating and vlog-making. I still haven’t gotten any answers, but I have started feeling better, so I should be back to something vaguely resembling a regular schedule (as regular as it ever is, since I am the worst) going forward!

 

Episode of the Week

Better Call Saul – “RICO”
Another week, another amazing episode of Better Call Saul. Vince Gilligan and friends are just killing it right now, you guys.

One of the things the show is doing really well that I think is a terrific storytelling device is the little pre-credits flashbacks every week. They are telling so much story in so little time, and this week’s was no different. Before he was a lawyer, Jimmy worked in the mailroom at Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill – and he went to school at night, without anybody (besides Kim) knowing about it to get his law degree. Once he passed the bar, he went to Chuck to ask if he could join the practice. Chuck deferred to Howard, who turned Jimmy down in a terrifically filmed, dialogue free sequence where the only sound was a copy machine. This small bit of information added so many layers to our ongoing story – it certainly explained even further why Jimmy hates Howard so much, and gives us a sense of how hard Jimmy has worked to get, up to this point, basically nowhere in the law field.

That made it all the more satisfying to see Jimmy hit on an actual case this week. We’ve seen him succeeding with elder law the past few weeks – wandering from nursing home to nursing home to help people with wills and the like. This week, he realized one of his clients was getting way overcharged, did some digging (literally, in a dumpster, which was one of the more entertaining sequences of the episode), and landed on a pretty big fraud case.

To make things even better, Jimmy brought Chuck in on things and we got to see the two brothers working together on the case. For most of the show so far, Chuck has been relegated to the outskirts, hiding at home while Jimmy pops in and out to bring him supplies and what not. We’ve been told he used to be a terrific lawyer, but have never really seen him in action. Once he realized what Jimmy had stumbled into this week, it was like the old Chuck finally woke up. He was digging through paperwork, spitting out case names to investigate, and bantering with Jimmy – it was really fun to watch.

And then, to end the episode, Chuck wandered outside without even thinking about it to get supplies from Jimmy’s car. No space blanket, no shakes and pain – just walked right out the front door, grabbed the keys out of the mailbox, and started shuffling through Jimmy’s trunk. It wasn’t until Jimmy walked outside to see what was going on that Chuck realized, looked shocked, and dropped everything. It will be fascinating to see what his response is next week. Did working the case with Jimmy snap him out of whatever mental issue he’d been having long enough to shake the worst of his electromagnetism fears? Or will that brief lapse cause everything to get worse all over again?

While all of this was going on, there was also a fairly significant, if brief, development in the life of Mike Ehrmantraut. After babysitting for Kaylee and finding out about his daughter-in-law’s money issues, we see him visit the vet from a few weeks back (the one that patched the gun shot wound in his shoulder) – and offer his services. This is an enormous step towards the Mike we know from Breaking Bad.

Only two more episodes to go this season – can’t wait to see where the show is headed before the finale!

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What I Watched – March 14

14 Mar
© AMC

© AMC

Fun week of TV this week!

Episode of the Week

Better Call Saul – “Five-O”
Let’s all just take a moment to appreciate the amazingness that is Jonathan Banks in the role of Mike Erhmantraut. This episode was a tour de force for him and should immediately put him into contention for an Emmy in the fall. It was also arguably the best hour of Better Call Saul yet.

A little more than halfway through its first season, we still hadn’t spent much time with Mike. He’d interacted with Jimmy a bit to argue about parking stickers, but until the end of last week, that had been mostly it. Now, we’ve finally seen what brought him to Albuquerque in the first place – and, in the process, probably his first steps toward being the guy we all know from Breaking Bad. And it was heartbreaking.

As it turns out, Mike had a son named Matt who was also a cop in Philadelphia who was killed (so everyone thought) on the job. Mike, however, knew better – his son’s partners had killed him to cover up for the fact that they were dirty. Mike hung around cop bars in Philly, drinking and listening and making everyone think he was just a sad old drunk (I think there was an element of truth to that, to be honest) until he could get the two guys alone – where he shot them both.

The episode did a beautiful job of presenting this story to us – rather than one long flashback, we picked up details from Mike’s encounters with his daughter-in-law Stacey, his exchanges (and tension around) the cops from Philly investigating the deaths of the two cops, his interactions with Jimmy, and a few brief (and out of chronological order) flashbacks. The show left it up to us to piece everything together – Mike’s bullet wound from the beginning, whether or not he was truly an alcoholic or playing it up for the sake of catching the bastards that killed his son, etc.

But the real highlight of the episode was the last sequence, when he sits down and tells Stacey everything that happened. She thought Matt might be a dirty cop as well, because of some extra cash she found lying around and a late-night phone call to Mike the night before he was shot and killed. As Mike would explain, Matt called him to ask whether he should turn his partners in. Mike – who had been a dirty cop himself – told him to protect himself and not turn them in. It broke his son’s heart to find out that his father had been a dirty cop and would suggest taking the money and not doing the right thing – and it got him killed anyway. The pain in Mike’s eyes as he explained all of this was apparent – more unbelievable work by Jonathan Banks. After he finished telling Stacey everything, she quietly asked what happened to Matt’s partner’s if it wasn’t some sort of related crime to Matt’s shooting. 

His answer? “You know what happened. The question is, can you live with it?” Heavy, powerful stuff. You can easily see how Mike, in his grief, guilt, and anger, could turn into the man who works with Gus Fring.

This was a terrific hour of television and makes me really excited for the last handful of episodes Better Call Saul has to offer this season.

Moment of the Week

Agents of SHIELD – “Who You Really Are”
This is really silly, but I’ve always gotten a huge kick out of stone-faced Melinda May’s crush on Thor, which came up in a funny moment with Lady Sif this week.

Guest Star(s) of the Week

Alia Shawkat and Kelly Ripa, Broad City
How have I never realized how much Ilana Glazer and Alia Shawkat look alike before now?! Casting Shawkat as a girl Ilana falls for mainly because she looks JUST LIKE HER was a stroke of genius. The two of them were fantastic together and had great chemistry. It was hilarious to see the entire relationship fall apart just because Adele didn’t smoke weed.

And then there was Kelly Ripa, who completely blew me away with how funny she was. Abbi’s quest to find her coat after their chance encounter at the coat check was funny enough, but watching them bond over Bed, Bath & Beyond (what else?) – and Ripa get crazier and crazier as they drank more – was wonderful. I get such a kick out of watching people play completely exaggerated, ridiculous versions of themselves, so this was right up my alley.

Binge-Watch of the Week

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tina Fey has done it again, you guys. I’ve already watched this entire series twice, and I am COMPLETELY in love with it. From it’s catchy-as-hell theme music to the utter delight of Ellie Kemper, this show is a blast. I cannot fathom how it ever would have worked on NBC and I am forever grateful to Netflix for rescuing it and letting it exist in the world.

There’s so much to love about this show. It’s got the same weirdness to it that 30 Rock did – if anything, it’s weirder – but there’s also a much darker tone to a lot of the comedy. Kimmy has been through some shit – being kidnapped and living in a bunker for 15 years is no joke. But the show does a terrific job of balancing that darkness with really powerful messages of surviving and not letting life or being a victim destroy you, and I really love that. I don’t think it would work with anyone but Kemper in the lead – she has an amazing energy and joy to her that does a great job of making some of the darker humor not feel all that dark.

The supporting cast is also amazing. We all know what Jane Krakowski can do from her turn as the one and only Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock – and there’s a lot of Jenna in Jacqueline Vorhees – but I think Jacqueline has a lot more layers to her. She feels real human emotions, for one thing – I’m not convinced Jenna ever did. Tituss Burgess is absolutely hilarious as Kimmy’s roommate and guide to 2015 existence Titus Andromedon – his put-uponness at having to do basically anything for her (or anyone), while simultaneously sincerely caring about her, was wonderful to watch.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it. Just listen to the theme song, how can you resist?!

 

 

What was your favorite thing on TV this week?

 

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Vlog Season 2 #9 – Agent Carter

6 Mar

I’m back with a real video this week, as promised, talking about the first season of Agent Carter.

I talk about the portrayal of sexism on the show, its greater Marvel universe implications (or lack thereof), and the general amazingness of Peggy as a character.

What did you guys think of the show?

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What I Watched – February 28

28 Feb
© NBC

© NBC

This was a BIG WEEK, with the end of Parks and Rec, plus the season finales of Agent Carter and Sleepy Hollow. Lots to talk about!

Episode of the Week

Parks and Recreation – “One Last Ride”
Could it possibly be anything else? The series finale was total perfection.

I completely loved the show’s approach to its final hour. Nothing big and fancy, just one last ride for the Parks team, helping to fix a swing for a citizen of Pawnee. And even that was mostly a framing device for the meat and potatoes of the episode – glimpses of everyone’s futures. It was not lost on me that Leslie’s touch is what triggered all the flash-forwards. She has always been the engine for this show (and an enormous influence in these characters’ lives) – it seemed very fitting.

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