TV Week in Review: 1/19/14 - 1/25/14
Shameless (US) 402. "My Oldest Daughter" - This episode immediately fell into my 'I love it!' because the immensely beautiful Alison Haislip guest starred in the opening bit with the Gallagher family visiting the doctor. She brought her fantastic sass, and it was great to see her. Another great moment in Fiona getting into a vehicle altercation on the road, and the revelation that Frank has another daughter (although this really shouldn't be news). The rest of the episode was rather meager. Lip's fish-out-of-water feeling at college, where his smooth words and charismatic charm isn't going to win him anything, and Veronica and Kevin hear some surprising news that could either be dramatically fun, ridiculously cartoonish, or a omen for bad stories to come. It's great to have Shameless back, and best of all, showing how these characters change, their situations change, and thus, the stories change.
Girls 303. "She Says OK" - After two episodes of Girls that really made me re-evaluate my rather negative opinion about the series thanks to a sense of charm and comedy that was rare in its first two years, "She Says OK" was one of those episodes that just left me puzzled about why it exists, or more specifically, what was the point of all this? Adam's sister, this absolutely deranged, messy-haired chick, Caroline, arrives on the eve of Hannah's 25th birthday party, and she's just bizarre. It simply solidifies that Adam isn't the only frakked up person in the family. Hannah's party itself wasn't all too well interesting, either, save a brutally honest and relatable conversation between Ray and Shoshanna, but outside of that, definitely an episode I could do without, and gravitates more towards Girls' bad impulses.
The Blacklist 112."The Alchemist (No. 101)" - Episodes nine through eleven were extraordinarily excellent for The Blacklist, and ultimately, this episode goes back to basics. There's nothing particularly interesting in the episode itself, although the notion of the Alchemist is enormously frightening and rife with dramatic possibilities that aren't really explored here. The dynamic of Red and Agent Keen seems more at home in the first handful of episodes instead of this half season mark, where much has changed between them. Ultimately, an episode that was too Case of the Week for my taste, especially after a phenomenal set of episodes that pushed Agent Keen to her dramatic/action limits thus far, and gave James Spader the meatiest, most chilling performances yet.
Being Human 402. "That Time of Month" - In three seasons, the U.S. adaptation of Being Human has accomplished so much, that it boggles the mind it can still surprise with such a narrow concept. The big creative idea of season four has been what happened to Josh, who is now roaming around as a wolf for most of the month, and a human for only a couple hours. The slow ripping away of Josh's humanity, and the strain that it's putting on Aiden and Nora is definitely a cool idea, and now that a prematurely executed spell has brought Josh back into human form, but with some potential hiccups, it's exciting to see werewolves enter a new type of story that isn't a retread of what's come before. Sally's newfound abilities will inevitably come with a cost, and I'm not sure if I'm all that interested to see what that cost is. To the shows credit, they've been able to do amazingly cool things with a ghost character that few other shows have the ingenuity to accomplish. But then there's Aiden and his past wife. One of the things of a series coming into old age is that one starts reaching for storylines. This feels like one of them. Of course I'll give the series the benefit of the doubt, but this does feel like a tacked on idea, and unless there's something deep to this development - and the return of Aiden's prodigy next week - Aiden's doesn't seem like he'll be enjoying that great of a fourth season.
Supernatural 911. "First Born" - At this point, Supernatural's ninth season feels like it's walking in circles, and this episode, where Sam and Dean are on the outs and doing their own things, isn't all too different, but it does have something quite interesting about it that makes it stand out above the rest - the introduction of Cain, from Cain and Abel. To play Cain, the show hired Timothy Omundson, and my geek radar went into giddy gear as I was particularly affected by his performance as Eli in Xena: Warrior Princess over a decade ago, so to have him in such a powerful role demanding gravitas and stern eyes, man was it satisfying. And tying Cain's story with that of Lucifer was a genius move, and, in a fantasy world, would be a foreshadowing to Lucifer's return. Honestly, I just want Lucifer back into the show, although I know the storytelling logic behind his return would exceed credulity. Overall, a fun episode, with Dean showing off his fighting skills in deadly fashion and the reassembling of the Cain story to suit Supernatural mythology (which this series does extremely well). Sadly, Sam and Castiel's story held little weight, which is even more unfortunate when I've become more invested in Sam's story than Dean's. Oh well. Now that we've reached the halfway point of season 9, and a lot of this Angel mumbo jumbo has found a level of resolution, I'm intrigued where the show will go from here, and how long it'll stretch out story arcs that need to be closed - I'm looking at you, Crowley.
Justified 503. "Good Intentions" - It's normal for Justified to start off with what appears to be loosely connected narratives, but mostly just fun Case of the Week type eps to allow Timothy Olyphant to be his badass, wise-crackin' Raylan Givens self. "Good Intentions" is one of those cases where Raylan's story more or less isn't all that important - outside of a severe case of bad timing - but it's ridiculously fun, from beginning to end, culminating in Wynn Duffy's trailer in trademark Justified dialogue exchanges of witticism. The Boyd plot has yet to fully titillate my interest, as has been the case for years, and with Boyd and Ava not seeing eye to eye, there's just not much to fully engage me. Boyd has, in my opinion, always been a character not particularly written well. Who he is as a person isn't clear, and for season five, Boyd has been reduced to a gangster who needs to keep his business runnin', so he makes some unsavory deals. The Dewey Clan also doesn't show lots of promise, but the Raylan stuff is strong enough to make this another solid episode of television. Just, coming off such a strong fourth year, it'll be interesting to see how this one evolves. Additionally, with Art slowly becoming privy to Raylan's less lawful actions, where will Justified take Raylan Givens in its sixth and final season? Will this be another Shield-esque type situation? Oh, the possibilities.
Arrow 211. "Blind Spot" - Since its return, Arrow's storytelling has slowed down considerably, the writers allowing more time for the Sebastian Blood/Laurel drug addiction/Roy superpowers plots to develop. This isn't, in theory, a horrible thing, but after nine episodes where each one ended with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger or dramatic change, this shift in pace and tone is a bit jarring. What we got here though is Laurel and the Arrow working together, and that's lovely to see after the so-so antagonistic relationship from earlier this season. It is unfortunate, however, that Diggle remains sidelined, coming in to argue with Oliver or divulge wisdom.
Community 505. "Geothermal Escapism" - Community has been on fire this season, and now Greendale is literally on fire in this sensational Goodbye Troy episode. It's laugh-out-loud funny, doing what Community does well: throwing in some absolutely absurdest front to tell a poignant story, this time of moving on and becoming an adult. Of course Troy was going to leave Greendale in spectacular fashion, and this new iteration of a Greendale-wide war game is inspired and brilliant, giving us the magnificent Jeff vs. Britta stick/knock-knock fight/joke, Troy and Abed saying "Troy and Abed in a bubble!", and the best final Troy lines in the credits gag with LeVar Burton ["Why don't you call it PLANET TREK? You never go to a star. Not one episode."]. Hilarious. Community's fifth season is five for five thus far. With Pierce's surprisingly integral death and now Troy's departure, it'll be interesting to see how the show reformats itself. But with Dan Harmon at the helm, it's sure to be bloody magnificent. Goodbye, Donald Glover. Your comedy timing was impeccable, and you were always an episode highlight.