Tag Archives: TV Recap

Game of Thrones Reaction: Dangerous Liaisons

Robb is sad, and you should be sad too.

Obligatory Spoiler Alert for GOT S3 Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere” 

I have never had so much anxiety when watching something.

No soundtrack to a horror movie or buildup on a television show has ever caused such a physical reaction. As the seconds ticked past and the action crawled across the screen, I could barely watch because I knew, I KNEW what was about to happen. My heart was beating so fast I might have been spending the hour at the gym, not sitting at my computer screen so close I’m bound to have a headache later. 

I don’t usually recap Game of Thrones because I’ve read the books and so I feel like I come at them from a very different angle than an average viewer. Even though I try to take the episodes for what they are, an adaptation and a different entity from A Song of Ice and Fire, I often find my mind wondering to the divergences, loving them or hating them. My recaps would be tainted with my knowledge of the differences, and of things to come.

So tonight I offer a reaction, because even though I knew the Red Wedding was coming this episode, even though I knew it had been coming all season, and indeed, since pilot aired, I found myself swept up in the thing, not quite shocked, but definitely equally or more horrified than I was when I read the words on the page. Maybe it was the visualization of the blood and violence, or that Richard Madden’s Robb was more likable than the distant figure in the books or maybe it was the fantastic way the episode was written and directed.

Knowing what was going to happen made the episode really hard to watch. Everything Robb or Catelyn did during the wedding only made me think, “you’re going to be dead in a few minutes.” The happy parts of the wedding seemed to drag, and the reader was left wondering when the pin would drop. Edmure and Rosalyn seemed to take a long, long walk to their bedding ceremony. Catelyn’s interaction with Roose Bolton seemed to happen in slow motion.  The big doors shut with an ominous crash and the arrows began to fly.

The Hound’s psychoanalysis of Arya ended up being a premonition: the closer Arya gets to her family, the farther she ends up from them. We have now seen the two most shocking events through her eyes, the Red Wedding and Ned Stark’s death. She’s a good audience surrogate. She’s a child but not naive. She is as deeply connected to the beloved characters as we are. You can argue about how much she knew when she was hiding in the castle grounds, but when Grey Wind is showered with arrows, it was clear the smartest Stark understood the symbolism.

The episode was always going to be about the Red Wedding, and the other scenes only seemed to serve as a distraction, a way to keep Robb and Catelyn’s deaths until the very last minute of the hour. But it was still great television. Dany’s storyline seemed a bit robotic in execution; her sudden favor for Daario is a bit too obvious and the stakes for taking the city did not seem high enough. Although I have to say, Grey Worm was really badass with his spear. They did a good job meeting Jon and his wildlings with Team Bran, without making the moment seem too contrived. Both Jon’s split from Ygritte and Bran’s from Osha were much more emotional than they were on the page. And Sam and Gilly’s scene was the only time I smiled for the whole hour. Absent were the Lannisters, which we learn with Roose’s literal stab (not in the back but the heart, same idea) were definitely involved in the Red Wedding. But when other people were doing their dirty work, why should they be around? We’ll see them later when they pay the debt.

Something that has become abundantly clear about the show is the slow build to episode 9 in each season, followed by a season finale that is all about reactions. First reactions to Ned’s death, then to the Blackwater Battle and Stannis’s crushing defeat, and next week we’ll see how Westeros deals with the idea that nowhere, not even a wedding, is safe anymore.

But I think the biggest result of “The Rains of Castamere was when readers and non-readers alike stared at the silent credits after Catelyn fell to the ground to join her son and daughter-in-law, and said “Damn.”


Mad Men Recap: To Lose and to Want

Mad Men Season 6 Episode 3: “To Have and to Hold”

Source: https://i0.wp.com/www.seat42f.com/wp-content/gallery/madmens6e4/mad-men-season-6-episode-4-to-have-and-to-hold-1.jpgFirst, apologies for the lack of recap last week. Monday was a rough day for everyone, and I couldn’t get a recap up in time. But it’s not a big loss. Suffice to say I was not a fan of the episode. But this week the show returned to form and it did it beautifully. Cue sigh of relief. And now on to the recap.

It took four hours but we finally got a real Joan storyline and the biggest single fallout from season 6: Joan’s big secret and her big promotion. In an office like SCDP there was no way that Joan’s prostitution was going to be kept quiet. It’s unfortunate for everyone (the characters, the audience, humanity) that Harry Crane is the first one to say it out loud. There are few things on this show (and indeed, life) worse than a Harry Crane temper tantrum. And  his brand new glasses and sideburns only make him easier to hate. There was some truth in what he was saying about being under-appreciated, but the people who ask for appreciation never get it. He’s never fit in, neither at Sterling Cooper nor at SCDP. He’s talented and they need him, but nobody likes him. He has a great facade and no substance. I predict he won’t be at SCDP much longer. It’s interesting to think that of the founding members of SCDP, (Don, Bert, Roger, Pete, Peggy, Joan, Harry and Lane), five are partners, one quit, one died, and one is Harry.

Joan is feeling the fallout of her situation on a personal level too. Her friend Kate is in town, another career woman, in this instance, from Mary Kay, and is pressuring Joan to act like the woman she was in season 1 or 2, when she still lived with a roommate and had one night stands just because she felt like it. The scene at the soda shop with phones at the tables (was this really a thing? why? I will investigate) looked and felt wrong. Joan didn’t belong there. She belonged even less in the cab and at the club. She really just seemed so old. So mature. An executive, like Kate said. The way she convinced herself to kiss the man was a little hard to watch. Christina Hendricks did some of her best work in this episode. The firing the secretary storyline is one we’ve encountered with Joan a few times before, and I was pleased that this time it led to forward motion for Harry and for Dawn.

Speaking of Dawn, she exists! At last Mad Men has an African American character with her own storylines completely devoid of other regulars. I’m so intrigued to know more about Dawn. The scenes she was in tonight were all strategic and revealing. Letting herself be taken advantage of at work and the fallout alongside the two scenes in the diner showed us that she’s a pushover and that she’s honest. And that she, like Peggy, is getting something different out of that office than the search for a man.

Poor Megan Calvet Draper found her man and her dream career but can’t have both. I’d think she’d have a lot to say in this whole “can women have it all” debate. As her soap opera role gets bigger and bigger (without any evidence as to why she got it, we have to assume it’s because Don gave her that commercial) they’re giving her a sex scene. Her biggest worry is about Don, who she still believes to be monogamous and in love with her. As the season unravels it seems that neither is true anymore.

Megan’s costar suggests a dinner with her husband, the writer, and Megan and Don, to make the news go down better. The result was one of the funniest scenes ever on Mad Men. At first I thought he was coming on to just Don and then I realized the, ah, implication of the dinner. Did you ever think Don would seem like a prude? Of course he’s not, but he wants his wife to be. I almost felt that the licentious couple only existed so that Don could tell Megan to go home with them after he freaks out that she kissed another man. Does he think Sylvia Rosen is a bad person for cheating on her husband? Maybe, maybe not. But he definitely thinks Megan is.

And of course, there’s the Heinz debacle. This one is Don’s fault. After proclaiming his loyalty last week to baked beans when Ken had the opportunity for ketchup, he goes ahead and meets them anyway, with Pete (Ken is so much better at his job, Don!) and then blows the presentation. Hey, maybe smoking marijuana while you work isn’t the best idea? I thought it was pretty funny that Don’s ad focused on food, like he and Stan had the munchies while working on it. But it was an example that Don’s losing his touch. His go-to pitch (nostalgia, mystery) isn’t what’s going to cut it for some of these bigger brands. Peggy’s on the other hand, was clear cut, bold, and what the client wanted. She and Ted won the bake off while Don and Stan just got baked.

There’s all sorts of symbolism surrounding Don’s turning around of Sylvia’s cross necklace at the end, tied into this week’s episode title “To Have and To Hold.” Marriage isn’t very sacred on Mad Men, although everyone pretends it is. I tend to think the title was less about matrimony (although it was all over the ep, from the open marriage to Dawn’s friend’s pending nuptials) and more about what everyone is losing. Don lost Heinz. Megan lost Don. Joan lost her old self. We’ll see what they gain instead.

The Nanny Diaries

How I Met Your Mother Season 8 Episode 3 “Nannies” Recap and Review
Oh Nanny! Last night’s episode, in true HIMYM spirit was all about transitioning without really changing at all. Lily and Marshall are dealing with the new baby and their old lifestyle, Barney’s dealing with being single again after having decided to settle down, and Ted and Robin are dealing with relationships for the sake of being in a relationship. Ready, break!

Let’s start with Barney. Poor Barney. Seven years later, even though he has gotten over his incredible fear of commitment and took the plunge and proposed to Quinn (read, now that he and Quinn have broken up every single character has been in an engagement that fell apart), he doesn’t know how to deal with his emotions. He couldn’t do it when Robin and he split, he couldn’t do it when he met his father, and he can’t do it now. Enter “Bangtoberfest” and a t-shirt gun (yeah I want one of those), and Barney’s quest to pick up women in bigger and better ways, not being satisfied with the old reliables like dressing up as a policeman and telling girls he can “get them off.”

Meanwhile, Lily’s dad has shown up again, after he blew up the house (it’s unclear if the house is his own house or Marshall and Lily’s house on Long Island or if it’s another one). Marshall and Lily are in a desperate search for a Nanny, since Lily’s maternity leave is almost up, and Grandpa is desperate for the job, but Lily is not a fan. They find the perfect nanny, a regular old Mary Poppins, who they cannot remotely afford. As the search continues, there aren’t a lot of qualified candidates in their price range, until they find a young lady from St. Cloud! Marshall is already in love. Until she turns them down after she fell in love with a single dad/billionaire she met later that day, who turns out to be, you guessed it, Barney!

His latest gag to get girls? Interviewing Nannies and then sleeping with them. Very exciting. And very much screwing Marshall and Lily after their Minnesotan nanny leaves in a huff. Barney apologizes by hiring the perfect nanny for them (and giving Marshall some hotwheels), but it turns out, Lily isn’t ready to let go, figuratively and quite literally. She storms off to Marvin’s room and promptly falls asleep. When she wakes up Marshall’s home and Lily is holding a monkey instead of Marvin! But it’s okay, LIly’s dad is actually Mr. Mom! When he was being a deadbeat when Lily was younger, he was also a stay-at-home dad. If only he had never gone to the track races that first time. Lily hires him, and from the photos that flash afterwards, it looks like Chris Elliot is going to be around for awhile.

While all this is happening, Ted and Robin have a fight over who is in a better relationship, despite the fact that Nick is too emotional for Robin and Victoria is quite the slob. When they see how crazy Barney gets after the nannies find out about his scam and beat the crap out of him, they cling to their not-perfect relationships even tighter, although older Ted has told us that both relationships aren’t going to last that much longer.

What makes this show so great is its ability to roll with the times. Much of the episode was baby-centric, but it didn’t lose anything. It still had its snarky humor, it’s over-the-top twists and turns, and a lot of yuppies in a bar. Baby Marvin isn’t going to kill this show, which is a relief. Babies have in the past (I’m looking at you, Emma). Oh and also a hilarious bit at the end where Barney sleeps with the super-nanny. This show is still on fire.

Because One Identity is Too Mainstream…

Once Upon a Time Season 2 Episode 2 “We Are Both” Review and Recap

Well, that was a little disappointing. The season premiere was so strong, with twists around each corner and genuine intrigue as the show stepped out of its straight flashback structure, but the second episode, “We Are Both,” regressed back to the flashback/current structure. Validly, it was all for the good of the plot, as much exposition and dealing with the intricacies of the post-curse world were taken care of, but all in all, the show felt lacking this evening.

Our flashbacks took us back to good Regina, post-Daniel’s death but pre-magic. Looking to revenge her mother for killing Daniel, she calls on everybody’s most reliable resource, good ol’ Rumpy, to exact vengeance. Of course, all magic comes with a price. After giving in and pushing her mother through a mirror to a “handy little world” as described by Rumple (which we assume is our loverly Earth), Regina realizes how much she likes doing magic and her descent to the evil queen we know and love (admit it, evil Regina can be pretty BA). All of this info is sort of the cherry on top of the sundae from last season’s Regina flashback that showed us Daniel and young Snow, finally answering the question of how Snow “ruined” Regina’s life. This was more specific, showing that it was Regina’s mother (and this show is alllll about mothers) is really what did her wrong. But, really, I feel it was a two steps forward one step back kind of plotline.

It relates to the fact that Regina in Storybrooke is trying to regain her powers but must eventually turn back to the same book that originally gave her magic. She uses that magic to get Henry back, but eventually lets him go, choosing his happiness over her own. She almost burns the book but stores it in cupboard instead. We’ll see where this takes us. Is Regina possibly turning good? It’s all very interesting in light of tonight’s big reveal (more on that in a bit).

Meanwhile, in Storybrooke central, chaos reigns. Charming is desperately trying to find a way to get Snow and Emma back, everyone is trying to cope with their dual identities, and generally, yelling, a lot. It is here that we realize that it’s basically an anarchist little town now, with no central authority and no one doing anything normal. We find out with the return of the sneezing drug store owner that people who try to leave Storybrooke become re-cursed, forgetting their fairytale selves. Charming says he’ll fix it, but he has no idea how. He eventually turns back to Henry’s storybook, discovering it’s the Mad Hatter who controls the hat. On his way to confront Jefferson, Red convinces him to save everyone in the town first, leave Snow and Emma for later. He drives to the edge of town, gives an impassioned, if lacking in oratory eloquence, speech basically telling everyone to embrace their multiple personalities, to be sorta schizo. To learn from their Storybrooke personalities and embrace their fairytale personalities too. It’s interesting because it is this duality that drove the Jefferson version of the hatter insane. But we’ll see where this takes our friends.

And at the end of the episode several key things are revealed. Pinnochio/August is not in his hotel room; my bet is he’s gone to join his friend in Manhattan. Also Snow and Emma are around! It was interesting to see the show keep its two main actors under wraps for nearly an entire episode. They’re held captive by Sleeping Beauty and Mulan, brought back to the sanctuary they built in the Enchanted Forest. Locked up in a cell they encounter another prisoner…Regina’s mother Cora! Well now isn’t that interesting? I’m wondering where she’s been, if she was in the forest the whole time or if she was sent back from our world when the curse hit. Who knows? Who knows how good or bad Regina will be now that the biggest baddie of them all (I mean, as far as we know) is back in the mix?

The flashbacks to Regina made sense only when her mother was revealed at the very end of the episode, but they still didn’t really sustain themselves. The show needs to keep moving forward, keep changing up its basic procedural model if it wants to work through its post-curse existence. Because so far there’s just been a lot of yelling and rehashing of old information. But I’m hopeful. The trailer for next week looks like it will be focusing on the present in the Enchanted Forest. So we’ll see what happens.

HIMYM Season 8 Premiere Recap

Holy Mother of Batman! Or, I should say, Holy Mother of Ted’s Future Children! Tonight’s HIMYM offered the biggest peak we’ve ever had at the future Mrs. Mosby, including knees and an outfit! But that’s not even the half of it. We also got our furthest peak ever into Barney and Robin’s wedding day, a day full of second thoughts and escape attempts. Almost as many as Victoria’s wedding, back in the here and now. So let’s dive in.

We open with Ted, sitting on a train stop in Farhampton, wearing the tuxedo for Robin and Barney’s wedding. When a woman asks him about the wedding he was just at, he begins to tell her the tale, falling into one of HIMYM’s favorite tropes: the story within a story within a story. Once inside the second story, Ted and Robin reminisce about how Ted climbed through the window of the church on the day of Victoria’s wedding. And now we’re in the third story. And Ted is running around trying to get Victoria to leave a note for her fiance. Antics happens and eventually we learn that Klaus was planning on leaving Victoria at the altar as well. Ted absolves Victoria of blame, but really it’s more like he’s absolving himself. As he and Victoria drive off he runs into Klaus again and asks him why? Klaus says she wasn’t the one, and Ted isn’t sure if Victoria is. Flash to Ted sitting feet away from the mother, who’s dress does not match her yellow umbrella. Woof. I’m almost as tired as Marshall and Lily just thinking about it.

Speaking of Marshall and Lily, although they weren’t given much to do this episode, the series is already starting to weave their newparenting lifestyle in with the old hang out lifestyle. They’re trying so hard but inevitably, they’re a little too tired to deal with Robin’s love life or Barney’s problems with Quinn. Any new parents, heck, anyone who’s ever pulled a couple all nighters can relate to the feeling that there’s literally a scuba diver swimming in front of your vision.

As far as Barney and Quinn are concerned things are going great until Marshall and Lily drop the bomb that Barney and Robin dated. Quinn asks for a one minute explanation. Barney sums up all seven seasons of HIMYM in 52 seconds. NPH deserves the Emmy next year just for that. When Quinn still isn’t sure she can trust Barney and Robin, it takes a meeting with Robin’s new hunky boyfriend Nick (her secret crush from the season 6 episode “Hopeless”) to convince Quinn that Robin isn’t in to Barney anymore. And while Quinn is off admiring Nick’s abs, Barney literally gives Robin the key to their relationship, a storage locker with all of the photos and mementos from their time together. He hasn’t quite let go of her yet.

So Barney and Robin are back down the path towards matrimony, Ted is taking a sojourn on the Victoria highway, and Marshall and Lily need some sleep. I’d say mission accomplished, HIMYM writers, season 8 is taking us down the path towards the end of the show, something I want but don’t want at all.

The B*tch is Back

Political Animals Episode 3 Review and Recap

Holy political tactics, Batman! The characters on Political Animals are sure upping the stakes and what they are willing to do to get things done. In the third episode of the miniseries, aptly title “The Woman Problem,” the show tackles a problem head on that they’ve only subtly dealt with up until this point. Why would people vote for a woman? Why don’t people vote for a woman? Did Elaine lose two years ago because she is a woman? What does it mean to be a woman in really any profession? I don’t know if they really answered these questions fully, but they certainly took a big whack at them.

The episode centered on last episode’s big reveal, that Elaine would challenge the sitting president in the primary. But where last time the show focused on the familial ramifications of that decision, this time we get to look at the political side of Political Animals. Somehow, the rumor that Elaine is going to make this primary bid has reached President Garcetti, and his response is to attempt to get liberal Supreme Court Justice Diane Nash (Vanessa Redgrave, a delight as usual) to step down so he can appoint Elaine. Shrewd move Garcetti! But the most interesting aspect of this was Redgrave’s character, supposedly a openly gay US Supreme Court Justice. I love the optimism of this show. Elaine is loved for her independence and her divorce, and a gay woman is on the Supreme Court. I want to live in that world. It’s also a great move of the writers, who give their characters plenty of time to hash out the woman problem, but give us the woman solution I talked about in my review of episode 1 with the facts of life in their fictional world. It’s an impressive strategy.

However, this episode is really all about Doug. As Camp Barrish gets the wheels in motion for a run, he’s still not thrilled about the whole idea, and says so. But he still agrees to go away with his father and TJ on a Potemkin fishing trip to visit a pollster and find out Elaine’s odds. In the episode we get two campaign flashbacks that help explain the dynamic between Bud and Doug and between Doug and Elaine. We also learn that Doug isn’t quite as straight edge as one might have surmised. There are also two pointless Anne cameos. She is the flattest of flat characters and we’ve had no word on her bulimia since episode one. I wonder if she’s there only to create family events that Bud and Elaine have to attend at the same time. Doug’s development in this episode had nothing to do with her. It was really about him forgiving his father, and realizing that he’s not entirely a villain. Their reconciliation at the end of the episode was great, and made me for the first time not hate old hammy Hammond.

In other news the TJ-can’t-stay-sober-but-he-wants-to-run-a-nightclub drama continues. I’m getting a little tired of this storyline if only because nothing ever changes (but I did just notice over the weekend that Sebastian Stan played Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger, talk about mind-blown).

Over in the land of journalists, everything is changing. Susan is hot on the trail of the story that Doug gave her last episode. She’s even lying to her cheating ex-boyfriend/editor about it, to keep it a true exclusive. When the Garcetti Supreme Court plan gets leaked to the paper, Susan turns tactical, telling Elaine about Garcetti’s plan so she can outmaneuver him and Susan’s story can be saved. When you think about the actual ramifications of this, Susan is potentially changing the outcome of a presidential election so she can get a good story. That’s kind of a big deal. But she didn’t bat an eye. In a side-story, homewrecker Georgia is sad because her new boyfriend shot down her serious news story. When Susan finds her crying in her office, she delivers my favorite line of the episode: “Don’t shit where you eat and then cry about it.” She’s back in form, over the hurt we saw last episode. We learn this in full when Doug meets her again to beg her not to publish the story about his mother, because he’s changed his mind. She agrees, and he breathes a sigh of relief…until she reveals that when she publishes after the announcement she’s going to use everything she already has, and everything she’s going to blackmail Doug into giving her.

Conniving? Maybe. But it is a total microcosm of what the pollster said was Elaine’s problem in the debates of her first run: when she held back she seemed meek and womanly, but when she attacked, she seemed like a vicious bitch. The Woman Problem, in a nutshell. If Susan had taken a dive on a career-making story so that Doug could feel better, she would have seemed like an emotion-driven woman. Her tactics may seem harsh and yes, “bitchy,” but they were the right thing to do from Susan’s perspective. Glad to see that things are finally heating up.