Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hell on Wheels Season 4 Finale: The Buffalo

The best scene in the generally excellent season 4 finale of Hell on Wheels tonight was probably Cullen and the buffalo early on in the story.   The poor buffalo has come upon the railroad track, bisecting its grazing land, and the buffalo is frozen, unable to make sense out of, and unable to cross and break through, that railroad track to the lush pasture on the other side.

And that's Cullen's predicament, isn't it?   He leaves Durant and the Union Pacific, determined to find his wife and son and have a life with them.  But, as the episode concludes, events have conspired to put Cullen back on the railroad, working now for Durant's competitor, from the other side, as a great version of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" - with the Band - plays significantly to roll out the season.





As for what happened in between this superb beginning and ending of the season finale, we'll that's a mixed bag.  It was good to see Mickey and Eva in partnership and leaving the town, and Louise standing up to Campbell and freedom of the press was welcome, too.

But ... Campbell and Durant thrashing in the mud was ridiculous and went on far too long.  And why the Swede has been given a lease into  the next and final season is beyond me.   That season would be far better off with Elam or Ruth alive, and the psycho Swede ("I'm Norwegian") gone for good.

Still, the set up of Cullen working on the railroad, but working for Durant's competition is a good one, and promises lots of tense and deadly scenes next year.   You know what?  I'm also unhappy that the next season will be the last one for this series.   Hell on Wheels has single-handedly brought back to the Western as a powerful television genre in the second decade of the 21st century, and I'd like to see a lot more.

See also Hell on Wheels 4.1-2: Rolling Again ... Hell on Wheels 4.5: New Blood ... Hell on Wheels 4.6: Bear and Sanity ... Hell on Wheels 4.7: Why? ... Hell on Wheels 4.8: Aftermath and Rebound ... Hell on Wheels 4.9: High Noon ... Hell on Wheels 4.10: A Tale of Two Sicko Killers ... Hell on Wheels 4.11: The Redemption of Ruth ... Hell on Wheels 4.12: Infuriating and Worthwhile

And see also Hell on Wheels 3.1-2: Bohannan in Command ... Hell on Wheels 3.3: Talking and Walking ... Hell on Wheels 3.4: Extreme Lacrosse ... Hell on Wheels 3.5: The Glove ... Hell on Wheels 3.6: The Man in Charge ...Hell on Wheels 3.7: Water, Water ... Hell on Wheels 3.8: Canterbury Tales ...Hell on Wheels 3.9: Shoot-Out and Truths ... Hell on Wheels Season 3 finale: Train Calling in the Distance

And see also  Hell on Wheels: Blood, Sweat, and Tears on the Track, and the Telegraph ... Hell on Wheels 1.6: Horse vs. Rail ... Hell on Wheels 1.8: Multiple Tracks ... Hell on Wheels 1.9: Historical Inevitable and Unknown ... Hell on Wheels Season One Finale: Greek Tragedy, Western Style

 
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Friday, November 21, 2014

Bones 10.8: Daisy's Doula, a Shmo, and a Farshtunkeneh Chochem

A tender Bones 10.8 tonight, with the non-murder part of the episode centered on Lance and Daisy's baby, Daisy's doula, and a conflict between spiritualism and science which often animates the background of the show.

But the real treat in this episode was the conversation with Booth and Bones, joined by Aubrey, about the nature of the players in the killing.  Booth's mention of a "shmo" on the street triggers one of the most memorable - and hilarious - disquisitions of Yiddish ever seen on television, not to mention a television drama, all delivered in this case from Bones, in her inimitable fashion.

Before the brief scene is over, we get Bones not only saying shmo, but chochem (a smart person, or someone who thinks he or she is smart), capped off with "farshtunkeneh chochem" (literally, a stinking wiseacre, but, more figuratively, a smart aleck who is also a no-good-nic).   Bones gets all of this out, moreover, with pretty passable Yiddish pronunciation, missing maybe just one "n" in farshtunkeneh.

Yiddish words have been popping up on television for years, but usually just a word or two, most frequently shmuck or meshugeneh (a crazy person).   Kudos to Bones for once again pushing the Yiddisheh envelope, in a way that Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm would kvell over (be proud of).

Meanwhile, Daisy, already in contractions, in encouraged by Bones to focus on the case. Fortunately, the doula was out of the birthing room - Daisy sent her packing - and Daisy's analysis moves the investigation forward.   Daisy has the baby - a bouncing boichick - and the episode ends on a sad, sweet, beautiful note.   More important than science, spiritualism, and their differences is the family of friends that Bones epitomizes so very well.


And see also Bones 9.1: The Sweet Misery of Love ... Bones 9.2: Bobcat, Identity Theft, and Sweets ... Bones 9.3 and NCIS 11.2: Sweets and Ziva ... Bones 9.4: Metaphysics of Death in a Television Series ... Bones 9.5: Val and Deep Blue ... Bones 9.6: The Wedding ... Bones 9.7: Watch Out, Buenos Aires ...Bones 9.8: The Bug in the Neck ... Bones 9.9: Friday Night Bones in the Courtroom ... Bones 9.10: Horse Pucky ... Bones 9.11: Angels in Equations ... Bones 9.12: Fingernails ... Bones 9.13: Meets Nashville, and Wendell ... Bones 9.14: "You Cannot Drink Your Glass Away" ... Bones 9.15: Hodgins' Brother and the Ripped Off Toe ... Bones 9.16: Lampreys, Professors, and Insurance Companies ... Bones 9.17: Spartacus in the Kitchen ... Bones 9.18: Meets Day of the Triffids ... Bones 9.19: The Cornucopic Urn ... Bones 9.20: Above the Law ... Bones 9.21: Freezing and Thawing ... Bones 9.22: Promotion ... Bones 9.23: The New Intern ... Bones Season 9 Finale: Upping the Ante

And see also Bones 8.1: Walk Like an Egyptian ... Bones 8.2 of Contention ... Bones 8.3: Not Rotting Behind a Desk  ... Bones 8.4: Slashing Tiger and Donald Trump ... Bones 8.5: Applesauce on Election Eve ... Bones 8.6: Election Day ... Bones 8.7: Dollops in the Sky with Diamonds ...Bones 8.8: The Talking Remains ... Bones 8.9: I Am A Camera ... Bones 8.10-11: Double Bones ...Bones 8.12: Face of Enigmatic Evil ... Bones 8.13: Two for the Price of One ... Bones 8.14: Real Life ... Bones 8.15: The Magic Bullet and the Be-Spontaneous Paradox ... Bones 8.16: Bitter-Sweet Sweets and Honest Finn ... Bones 8.17: "Not Time Share, Time Travel" ... Bones 8.18: Couples ... Bones 8.19: The Head in the Toilet ... Bones 8.20: On Camera ... Bones 8.21: Christine, Hot Sauce, and the Judge ... Bones 8.22: Musical-Chair Parents ... Bones 8.23: The Bluff ... Bones Season 8 Finale: Can't Buy the Last Few Minutes

And see also Bones 7.1: Almost Home Sweet Home ... Bones 7.2: The New Kid and the Fluke ...Bones 7.3: Lance Bond and Prince Charmington ... Bones 7.4: The Tush on the Xerox ... Bones 7.5: Sexy Vehicle ... Bones 7.6: The Reassembler ... Bones 7.7: Baby! ... Bones 7.8: Parents ...Bones 7.9: Tabitha's Salon ... Bones 7.10: Mobile ... Bones 7.11: Truffles and Max ... Bones 7.12: The Corpse is Hanson ... Bones Season 7 Finale: Suspect Bones

And see also Bones 6.1: The Linchpin ... Bones 6.2: Hannah and her Prospects ... Bones 6.3 at the Jersey Shore, Yo, and Plymouth Rock ... Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah ... Bones 6.5: Shot and Pretty ... Bones 6.6: Accidental Relations ... Bones 6.7:  Newman and "Death by Chocolate" ...Bones 6.8: Melted Bones ... Bones 6.9: Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... Bones 6.10: Reflections ... Bones 6.11: The End and the Beginning of a Mystery ... Bones 6.12 Meets Big Love ... Bones 6.13: The Marrying Kind ... Bones 6.14: Bones' Acting Ability ... Bones 6.15: "Lunch for the Palin Family" ...Bones 6.16: Stuck in an Elevator, Stuck in Times ... Bones 6.17: The 8th Pair of Feet ... Bones 6.18: The Wile E. Chupacabra ... Bones 6.19 Test Runs The Finder ... Bones 6.20: This Very Statement is a Lie ... Bones 6.21: Sensitive Bones ... Bones 6.22: Phoenix Love ... Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

And see also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ...Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars ...Bones Under Water in 5.18 ... Bones 5.19: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.20: Ergo Together ... Bones 5.21: The Rarity of Happy Endings ... Bones Season 5 Finale: Eye and Evolution

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A different kind of police fiction

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Affair 1.6: Drugs and Vision

A real change of pace - to the dark side - on The Affair 1.6 tonight, as Noah and Alison split apart because of Alison's dealing in cocaine.

Interesting, first of all, that in this criminal episode, there's no scene at all, for either Noah or Alison, with the detective.  That's because the outlaw part of the story takes place just fine without him.

In a nutshell, in both Noah's and Alison's story, Noah is shaken by his discovery that Cole's family is dealing drugs, and Alison's a part of it - so shaken that in his episode he makes passionate love to Helen his wife, and in Alison's episode he point blank says to Alison that he wants to end it, after Alison says she wants to start a new life with him, and give up the coke and Cole for good.

Once again, Alison has the most tender scene, even in this tough episode.   Her saying she wants to start a new life with Noah was moving indeed.   And she was also at her sexiest best in Noah's episode, when she puts her arms around him in the bathroom.

The drugs put Cole's family in a whole new light.   Cole himself, who seemed just a decent, hardworking guy, with a warm heart, now looks a little different.  He still seems decent, and he's warm, but now he's a decent drug dealer.  His reasons for doing this make sense, but his putting Alison at risk has to be taken into our account of Cole.

And the drugs cast Noah in a not very favorable light, as well.   Rather than being supportive to Alison when she comes to him, Noah literally rushes back into his wife's arms.

The attraction that Noah and Alison have is far too strong for their affair to end like this.  It will be interesting to see what exactly brings them back together, and how they proceed from there.

But now we have a missing piece of the puzzle.   The murder, likely of Scott, likely has nothing to do with the affair, and more to do with drugs.   Or, so it seems.  Because one thing that's clear in this shimmering watercolor of a series, is that nothing is as clear as it seems to be.




Homeland 4.8: Saving Someone's Life

Homeland 4.8 tonight was about as good as an hour of espionage on cable TV gets these days, which is good indeed - as good or better than what we've come to expect in the best espionage movies.

There were two central stories tonight, somewhat separate but always intertwining as is the case with Homeland.

One is Saul.  He escapes his capture in a great series of sequences, only to find himself on the verge of recapture at the rendezvous point.  He tells Carrie he wants to die rather being recaptured and used as a pawn.   And Carrie lies to him, tells him she's guiding him to safety, when she's really guiding him to recapture, because there's no hope of his escaping, and she'd rather have him alive and captive than dead.

Now, television being what it is, it seemed highly unlikely that Saul would die and Mandy Patinkin leave another series.   But the story was done so well that I was close to thinking maybe we would see Saul's death, anyway.  And, for all we know, we may see it yet.   That's a measure of how good the episode was tonight.

But was Carrie right to save Saul's life?  She feels guilty about it, but Quinn and I have no doubt that she was right.   Had she forsaken Saul in the bombing of Haqqani, at least Haqqani would have been dead, too.  But letting Saul die tonight served no greater purpose, other than robbing the terrorists of their negotiating card, which could lead to the release of other terrorists.   But Saul is also a great asset on our side, and Carrie and Quinn might yet figure out a way to get Saul back without giving Haqqani everything that he wants.   So, yeah, Carrie was right to do what she did tonight.

The other big story also concerns Carrie - and Khan.  Turns out he's not a bad guy at all.  Not only did he have nothing to do with Carrie's drugging, but he helped her, and at the end of the episode gives our side the best break it's gotten in a good while: identification of the American ambassador's treacherous husband.   It was good to see Carrie, back in good form after her drugging, use Khan's attraction to her to make the political alliance with him.

This is a game changer, and it will be fun to see how it plays out in the remaining episodes.   If I had to bet, I'd say at least Saul (and of course Carrie) will survive.




And see also  Homeland on Showtime ... Homeland 1.8: Surprises ... Homeland Concludes First Season: Exceptional

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  different kind of espionage

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Newsroom 3.2: Ethics in High Relief

A superb, taut, powerful Newsroom 3.2 tonight, with at least three stories revolving around: ethics.

(Cue Rod Serling voice)  Submitted for your approval:

3. Hallie gets in trouble for a late-night tweet saying Republicans are happy because the Boston bombings did not involve guns.   She's forced to resign, to make Republicans happy.   No discussion of whether her tweet, though it might have been in bad taste, had any truth to it.   Realistic enough, but a sad day for ethics in the newsroom.

2.  Maggie, on a the train back from Boston (after covering the bombings), hears an EPA official saying Obama's not doing enough for the environment.   Maggie, with the help of a guy who later identifies himself as a Professor who teaches ethics at Fordham Law School (yes!), records the EPA official as he's talking. Later, she not only decides not to use the recording - which she has every legal right to use - but, at first, doesn't want to accept the EPA official's offer to give her another story, in return for her promise not to use the recording.  As Maggie says, she may have a legal right to use the recording, but not an ethical right, and she doesn't want to take the bribe of the second story to keep quiet on the first.   Ethical?  Hell, yes.   And it's good to see that Maggie does eventually take the second story - as well as give her card to the Fordham prof who wants to see her again - once it's clear that the second story isn't a bribe, because she's not going to use the first in any case.   Good to see ethical behavior rewarded.

1.  But Neil's story is by far the most serious.  He can be sent to Fed prison for his work in getting the info from the government leaker - said by FBI to be a "bad guy".   In one of Will's best moves in the series, he contrives to get Neil out of the building and away from the FBI, and, Will inserts himself in the game by telling the FBI that he knows the name of Neil's source.    This last season of The Newsroom is now set for one of its best stories in all three seasons:  Will becoming Edward Snowden - well, not quite, because Will doesn't work for the government - but close enough.

In an age in which ethics in journalism is tested and on the line all the time, it's a real pleasure and an education to see it center-stage in The Newsroom.


analysis of the first two seasons

See also The Newsroom 3.1: Media on Media

And see also The Newsroom Season 2 Debuts on Occupy Wall Street and More ... and (about Trayvon Martin) If Only There Was a Video Recording ... The Newsroom 2.2: The Power of Video ... The Newsroom 2.7: Autopsy of a Bad Decision ... The Newsroom 2.8: The Course of True Love ... The Newsroom Season 2 Finale: Love, Triumph, and Wikipedia

And see also The Newsroom and McLuhan ... The Newsroom and The Hour ...The Newsroom Season 1 Finale: The Lost Voice Mail



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Hell on Wheels 4.12: Infuriating and Worthwhile

An in many ways supremely infuriating, but manifestly worthwhile, Hell on Wheels 4.12 tonight.

Infuriating, because, as I said last week, and was patently obvious to every character in the show, Ruth didn't have to die.   She shot a psycho who burned down the church and killed her son.   Moreover, her shooting of Sydney saved Cullen's life.  And, if that's not enough, Sydney actually died by his own hand after Cullen had heroically saved him.

So why the Governor proceeded with the trial, and refused to pardon Ruth because she didn't want it, makes no sense.  Neither did Cullen not tying Ruth up, against her will, and shipping her off to New York or wherever as he intended.   He didn't do that out of, what, respect for Ruth?  Respect for her right to give up her own life?  That's not moral, given that clearly Ruth was not completely in her right mind.

But the episode was still worthwhile, because it unpacked Ruth and Cullen's relationship.  The scene with them in the prison was priceless, especially when Ruth says her mistake in life was not going to Cullen and taking him home to be with her and Ezra, and be a family.  That conversation was one of the best we've seen in the entire series.

It led, in the aftermath of Ruth's death - a suicide more than anything else, filmed brilliantly from the inside out, from her perspective - to Cullen quitting the railroad (again) after clearing the rocks in the trail at the end, to go back to his wife and son - if they'll have him, as he told Ruth.    But there will be hole in the series from now on, one about as big as the death of Elam.   One thing you can say about Hell on Wheels is that it always marches to its own drum, with the result that you never know what will happen.

Next week's the finale of this next-to-last season.   I'll be sure to watch it.

See also Hell on Wheels 4.1-2: Rolling Again ... Hell on Wheels 4.5: New Blood ... Hell on Wheels 4.6: Bear and Sanity ... Hell on Wheels 4.7: Why? ... Hell on Wheels 4.8: Aftermath and Rebound ... Hell on Wheels 4.9: High Noon ... Hell on Wheels 4.10: A Tale of Two Sicko Killers ... Hell on Wheels 4.11: The Redemption of Ruth

And see also Hell on Wheels 3.1-2: Bohannan in Command ... Hell on Wheels 3.3: Talking and Walking ... Hell on Wheels 3.4: Extreme Lacrosse ... Hell on Wheels 3.5: The Glove ... Hell on Wheels 3.6: The Man in Charge ...Hell on Wheels 3.7: Water, Water ... Hell on Wheels 3.8: Canterbury Tales ...Hell on Wheels 3.9: Shoot-Out and Truths ... Hell on Wheels Season 3 finale: Train Calling in the Distance

And see also  Hell on Wheels: Blood, Sweat, and Tears on the Track, and the Telegraph ... Hell on Wheels 1.6: Horse vs. Rail ... Hell on Wheels 1.8: Multiple Tracks ... Hell on Wheels 1.9: Historical Inevitable and Unknown ... Hell on Wheels Season One Finale: Greek Tragedy, Western Style

 
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