Monday, November 24, 2014

The Affair 1.7: True Confessions

A very different episode of The Affair tonight - 1.7 - with barely a scene in either story of Noah and Alison together.   But the episode was one of the best in the series so far, and broke all kinds of new ground.

In a nutshell, Noah and Alison each confess their affair, to Helen and Cole, for very different reasons. Noah is being blackmailed by Oscar about the affair, and Alison tells Cole the whole truth - after a partial truth - because Cole wants to know if the guy Alison was sleeping with stole Cole's drugs.

It was great night for both Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson, who each put in their best performances in the series so far.   Jackson as Cole was especially remarkable, after seeming like he cared about more the loss of his drugs than he did about Alison, but pivoting into the warmest and deepest we've seen him so far this season.

Noah, as he does often, comes out the worst in the two accounts, including his.  At very least, he's insensitive to Cole about the loss of Cole's son, and his closing the curtains in his Brooklyn brownstone to Alison, standing outside, was a low moment.    Alone and vulnerable, however, Alison is now more open to a re-uniting with Cole.

The series - or this season of the series - could well be heading to aftermath territory, in which the affair in over, and Alison and Noah repair their marriages, with the greatest threat coming from the detective, whose most interesting appearance is at the beginning of Noah's episode, reading Noah's book.   But the marriages are not quite equal.   Noah and Helen have four children, which gives them more reason to stay together.   But Cole seems to have gotten over what Alison did far more than Helen with Noah.   And I have a feeling we've not seen the last of Alison and Noah together by any means - if not this season, then likely next.

The series story has moved into the end of the summer, or the beginning of the Fall, and in our world it's taking off a week for Thanksgiving.  I'll be back here in two weeks with another late night review.

Homeland 4.9: Hitchcock Would've Loved It

Alfred Hitchcock said he preferred suspense to surprise in his stories - surprise being a bomb explodes out of nowhere on a bus, suspense being we see the bomb ticking with the passengers talking unaware on the bus.   Homeland 4.9 had both bases covered, in one of its all-time best episodes - something I've been saying about a lot of Homeland's episodes of late.

The suspense came with the prisoner exchange for Saul, and the events leading up to that.  Carrie suspected there was something more going on.  We thought it was the boy with the suicide vest, but Carrie, in one of her best scenes, was able to overcome both that and Saul's desire to end his own life.

But there had to be something even more.  And, as emotionally wrung out as everyone on both sides of the screen were after Saul's release, the last thing we expected, which made perfect sense in retrospect, was the attack on Saul's convoy of cars.   And, the kicker, was that this, too, was just prelude, to Haqqani attacking our embassy, as Marines left it to go see what happened to Saul and Carrie.

Both are highly likely to have survived the blast - not because the blast was not strong enough to kill them, but because Homeland is not likely to end Carrie or Saul's life, at this point.   Well, maybe Saul's - and that would be a kick in the stomach indeed, if he died after all of this - but, as I've saying in previous reviews, Mandy Patinkin is unlikely to leave yet another hit show.

Still, he could well be out of commission for the rest of this season.   Carrie, on the other hand, is not likely, somehow, to even be badly hurt.  But that other guy in the CIA, who was in the car, and was the first agent to question the ambassador's husband, well, he could end up dead.   I actually hope not, because he is/was a pretty solid character.

But the reinvention of Homeland after the death of Brody continues apace and has proceeded so well that I'm not likely to even mention Brody again.  Homeland is a better show, a much better show in many ways, than it was the first three seasons.   The potent mix of suspense and surprise has never been better - and, indeed, has been achieved on this level only in the best seasons of 24.   In my book, that's high praise indeed.

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

#SFWApro  #SHO_Homeland

  different kind of espionage

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Newsroom 3.3: Journalism at the Barricades

Well, journalism is always at the barricades in The Newsroom, but it was especially and eloquently there in episode 3.3 tonight.

Neil's prosecution by the Feds, with Will stepping in to take the fire - because, as he says, the government would not have the gall to go after so an important news anchor - continues on center stage, with at least two memorable scenes.  One, at the beginning of the episode, features Charlie feigning to break into live coverage of the FBI ransacking ACN's computers, which gets the FBI to back down.   Later, Will gives the DOJ guy a good talking to, including that the DOJ bungled this operation, when the DOJ tries to threaten the wrong people - in this case, Will and company.

But, before the episode ends, Will gets served with a subpoena, making him wonder, in classic Newsroom ironic iconic style, if he maybe he's not that important after all.

Meanwhile, on a commercial rather than governmental plane, we get a great conversation between Jim and Hallie, over Jim's concern about Hallie taking a job with an online site that pays her incentives - aka "bonuses," as Hallie insists - for number of page views her stories generate.   Hallie fires back that every major news person from Edward R. Murrow to Will McAvoy got or get salaries based on the number of people who see their stories - aka viewers and ratings in television speak - so what's really the difference between her and them.?  And you know what?  Score one for Hallie and commercialism.   She's completely right that money makes the world go round, including the world of journalism (and, I might add, the academic world, too - professors are well paid).

Speaking of professors, we get a nice scene with Maggie and her Fordham law professor with a speciality in ethics.    But the EPA guy spouts insane overkill about the environment in Will's interview, and it wasn't clear to me what purpose he or this whole thread is serving.

Great episode, great series, let's hear it indeed for the First Amendment, Mr. DOJ guy.

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

deeper history


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


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

#SFWApro  #SHO_Homeland

  different kind of espionage