Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hell on Wheels 3.5: The Glove

Well, my favorite scene in tonight's altogether excellent Hell on Wheels 3.5 is when Elam feeds his baby girl - just recovered from the kidnappers - with a glove full of doe's milk, slain by Cullen for that purpose.  The scene almost had a biblical splendor, even though it was life in the wild, being civilized, a big ocean away in America.

The episode was full of powerful scenes.   Eva in the water, being consoled by Ruth, who had a story of her own ... Psalms trying to beat the truth out of the New York Irish copper who's in Hell on Wheels to get the baby that he's sure is his slain brother's daughter, but Psalms does not kill him in the end ... Elam, again, telling Cullen - just this once - that he knows the baby is white, not (genetically) his flesh and blood, but he's going to be her father anyway ...  Scenes like these are really lifting this season of Hell on Wheels into a major contender for one of the best series now on television.

And Durant is shaping up as an even better villain than in the first two seasons.  He was behind the kidnapping - that was pretty easy to guess, because he'd do anything to slow Cullen's progress with the railroad.  And Durant's indecent bet on Cullen's decency paid off.  Cullen was not about to let Elam ride off on his own into Indian territory in search of his daughter.

Meanwhile, the Swede who is actually Norwegian is slowly building up some sort of sicko theme.  At this point, I'm thinking that the Swede will actually be doing some good, even loved by adopted family, when Cullen runs into him, which bound to happen by the end of this season.  And then Cullen will be faced with his ultimate trial by fire - kill the Swede, in cold bold, for what the Swede did to Lily last season?  This will indeed put Cullen's goodness to the test.

But, first, Cullen is due to be put on some kind of trial for one of the killings his already did, as Durant continues his campaign to get Cullen off of his railroad.

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

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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Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Bridge 1.8: Some Dark Poetic Justice

Well, I've been saying for a while that I thought the killer in The Bridge might be Hank, though an extremely outside long shot.   In episode 1.8, we learn that the killer was not Hank but is indeed law enforcement - a Federal agent by the name of David Tate.

But that's just a part of it, in the unfolding of a plot that now makes The Bridge the most tightly wound plot on television, with interconnections like synapses in an evil genius's brain.  I said last week that I thought Alma's new love interest Kenneth Hastings was a bit of a schmuck - by which I meant, something was not right about him.  Turns out there's a lot not right about him.   Kenneth Hastings is David Tate, in one of best twists of this television season (we'll see what Broadchurch serves up).

Not only that, but Marcos is even more involved than just his estranged, pregnant wife now driving away with a stone-cold savage killer, the very killer Marcos has been investigating with Sonya and the gang, though that could have been quite enough.  It turns out that Marcos, whose marriage to Alma was jeopardized by a romp in the hay with Charlotte "I'm not tired" Millwright, had a previous go with Tate's wife - who is killed by a driver who got drunk with the weirdo reporter Daniel Frye, someone whose ultimate relevance in this series is still not clear.

But Marcos's relevance is now super clear.  He's not only one of the lead investigators in the case that started this off, but his character is involved in a classic almost Shakespearean case of dark poetic justice. He slept with Tate's wife, which got her killed since the drunk driver hit her (after his drinking with Frye) on her way home from Marcos.   And now Tate has Marcos's wife just where he wants her - in a car and willingly under his control.

Oh what a tangled, enthralling web this series called The Bridge weaves ...

See also The Bridge Opens Brooding and Valent ... The Bridge 1.2: A Tale of Two Beds ... The Bridge 1.6: Revelations ... The Bridge 1.7: A Killer and a Reluctant Professor


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Broadchuch 1.4: The Unusual Suspects

With a fine series like Broadchurch, you can usually tell who the killer is not by discounting who the killer most likely appears to be in the early episodes.  Here's where we stand as of episode 1.4 as far as likely killers who likely not to be revealed as the killer at the end:

  • The old guy who may have some history as a pedophile:  His denial seems sincere, and he's in any case too obvious a suspect at this point.
  • The unpleasant woman who had some of Danny's stuff in her closet, and most recently threatened the editor of the local paper: She's a despicable piece of work, to be sure, and she may turn out in the end to have helped the killer, or know who the killer is, but she's just as likely to be killed by the killer because of her nasty attitude.
  • The priest is just too obvious: The show is spending a good deal of time on him, but the priest as killer is just too trite for a story like this.
So where does that leave us?   Someone in Danny's family is still a possibility, including the father who now seems exonerated.   Danny's sister seems an outside shot.  I'd say Danny's mother and grandmother are beyond the pale as possible suspects.

How about Ellie's family?  Her son obviously knows stuff he's not talking about, but he's not the killer.   There's something about Ellie's husband that makes me wonder about him - he's, I don't know, maybe too nice?   We have no reason at all to suspect him as the killer, which puts him higher on the list than those we have ample reason to suspect.

But if I had to pick someone now, I would say it was Danny's father's partner.   Another nice guy who seems to want to do nothing more than be of help, but there's an edge to him.  So I'd put my money on him at this juncture.

More after the next showing.

See also Broadchurch: Powerful Viewing ... Broadchurch 1.2: Brooding Excellence ... Broadchurch 1.3: The Spy


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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Newsroom 2.7: Autopsy of a Bad Decision

About as brilliant a piece of television as you can get on The Newsroom 2.7 last night, which completed its careful dissection of the worst decision a news network can possibly make.

That decision, which we've seen both the build-up to and (thanks to flashforwards) some of the consequences of all season, was ACN's going live with a stunning report: the US used sarin gas in Pakistan.   This would have been a provocative story for The Newsroom to probe even were it not for the awful synchrony of nerve gas being used by Syria just last week in our reality.   In the case of The Newsroom, it represented a departure from the series' forte, which is detailing the reporting of real stories.

I still favor the basic reporting on real stories which is the lifeblood of the series, but the sarin gas story was done so well as to be a tour-de-force in itself.   The ease with which a video recording can be altered in this digital age with barely a trace, the way in which the alteration was discovered, the reaction of all the principals to the unfolding recognition that this prime news operation had been taken for a ride, was a tableau writ large of just what can go wrong in our age of 24/7 news and why.

The discussion over whether to air the report in the first place was itself extraordinary.  The varying reasons for going with story, the counter arguments, presented a textbook of how right and wrong opinions in all their variations can all seem to be so right.   For me, Jim Harper's distrust of the producer who was leading the charge - who indeed covertly edited an interview to give it a declarative statement it never had - would have been the most persuasive, even if we hadn't seen the producer do the dirty edit. In life, you sometimes have to go with your gut.  At very least, you enter dangerous precincts when you put your gut aside.

It was also gratifying to see Jane Fonda's character Leona, the ultimate owner of the network, stand behind her people even when, consumed with guilt, they were serious about resigning.  When Charlie tells her, voice high with emotion, that they have to resign because "we don't have the trust of the public anymore," Leona screams back, "get it back!"

Would that there were more people in positions of power in the media like Leona!

On to the coverage of real stories in two weeks - 2012 Election night!

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

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


Low Winter Sun 1.3: Katia and the Bridge

Katia is shaping up as a pivotal character in Low Winter Sun, even though as of episode 1.3 she hasn't had much screen time.

She's Frank Agnew's love interest - a prostitute - and even though Frank's belief, fueled by Joe Geddes, that McCann killed her led to Frank's killing of McCann, we now learn through a series of flashbacks that actually Geddes couldn't bring himself to follow McCann's order that he kill Katia.  Instead, Geddes took Katia over the bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, and set her loose there in Canada.

That US-Canadian bridge is clearly an important structure in this story, and made think that Low Winter Sun is in some ways The Bridge north.   Both are excellent, dark, cop shows, each with its own flavor, and I welcome both of them.

The end of episode 1.3 has Frank driving over that bridge in search of Katia.   Where he'll find the time for this search is not clear, since IA and his Lt. are both in different ways on his case to solve the McCann killing.  It's a sweet situation for intense drama.  As a commercial for the show puts it, Frank is put in charge of a case for which he's the killer.

An eye-witness is therefore the last thing that Frank and Joe need, and they do a great job of weakening the public-minded witness who does come forward.   He saw a black man and a white man and a body in a car - uh oh - but fortunately didn't get too clear a look at anyone.   Also fortunately for Frank and Joe, there are plenty of multi-racial partners in police work - we've come a long way on television since Robert Culp and Bill Cosby in I Spy - so this witness is not as devastating a problem as he might have been 50 years ago.   Still, his testimony is a little too close for comfort, so he needs to be handled with Frank and Joe's customary kid gloves, which is to say a mix of compassion and badger.

The biggest threat to Frank and Joe is Dani.  She has a head on her shoulders, an eye for the unusual, and is not likely to be talked of what she sees and comes to understand.  And the biggest threat to Frank of course is Joe.  That's on top of IA and the Lt., and what makes this such a good, taut drama.

See also Low Winter Sun 1.1-2: High Hopes

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Under the Dome 1.10: The 4th Hand

In the mashup of intersecting stories that is Under the Dome, the one that moves the science fiction forward in episode 1.10 is the fourth hand.  We find it belongs to Junior - who has suffered seizures like the other three hand-holders - and all four hands unleash something from the egg within the little dome which now also has a caterpillar on the way to metamorphosing into a monarch butterfly.

But what does it all mean?  Little to no clue as yet - just a chrysalis and pink stars -  so the science fiction part of Under the Dome has moved forward just a smidgen, or less than the thickness of a butterfly's wing.

But the personal stories were cooking on all flames to tonight.

Big Jim gets another murder under his belt - though, I don't know, is it murder when he lets a dangerous woman (Maxine's mother) drown after she falls off a boat?  Probably, since he was the one who tied her up which means - likely - that she'll drown.  But on the other hand, she did level a rifle at him.

More impressively, Barbie and Julia are finally on the same page regarding what Barbie did to Peter's husband.   Since Barbie's killing Peter was all part of Peter's plan for suicide by opponent with a gun  - so Julia can get Peter's life insurance - she can't be that mad at Barbie for pulling the trigger.  Of course, no one in Chester's Mill is collecting big money with the dome overhead, so Julia won't be getting rich any time soon.

But Barbie, for his part, does say no to Maxine's advances, which puts him in at least a half-decent moral position to come to Julia.   They've been my favorite couple on the series all along, so I can only hope that Julia survives the gunshot we see her receive in the coming attractions of the final three episodes of this season.

Four hands, three episodes left, and a lot yet to be revealed in this strange summer series.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Breaking Bad Final Episodes #3: The Ultimate Lie

First of all, we can get another demonstration of Walt's extraordinary genius for deception in tonight's Breaking Bad final episode #3, in the "confession" he videotapes and sends to Hank.  This alternate version of what we've seen in past seasons, with the major events all going down as they did, with the one big alteration of Walt working for Hank the drug-dealing DEA-man, is perfect, and capped off with the fact that drug money indeed paid for Hank's rehab.   As Hank realizes at the end of this sequence, Walt has checkmated him in his attempt to bring Walt to justice.

Walt won't have it as easy with Jesse.   After Walt talks Jesse - just barely - into taking on a new identity in an obverse version of the witness protection program (which, as Jesse realizes, is as much for Walt's benefit as Jesse's), Jesse realizes that Walt after all did have something to do with Brock's near-death poisoning several seasons ago.   The visceral feeling of reaching for a missing cigarette gets Jesse in touch, not with what literally happened back then, but with the larger truth that Walt had something to do with it.

This will be the last straw between Walt and Jesse.  They'll be no rapprochement between them now. Jesse was just able to forgive Walt for killing Mike.  Actually, not even really forgive Walt, but allow Walt to hug him, and one last time manipulate Jesse for Walt's benefit.   It won't happen again.  Almost killing Brock is far worse than killing Mike - who, after all, lived by the sword, so dying by it was something Mike brought on himself.

So Walt has beaten Hank but not Jesse.   And the masterful lies on that alternate reality video make me wonder again: is Walt lying to everyone now about the severity of his recurring cancer?  It would be a just twist, in one sense, if that's what fells Walt in the end - something he didn't lie about.   But I'm hoping he's lying about that, too.

See also: Breaking Bad Final Episodes #1: Walt vs. Hank ... Breaking Bad Final Episodes #2: Skylar and Jesse

And see also Breaking Bad Season 5 Premiere: Riveting Entropy ... Breaking Bad 5.3: Deal with the Devil ... Breaking Bad 5.7: Exit Mike ... Breaking Bad Final Half-Season Finale

And see also My Prediction about Breaking Bad ... Breaking Bad Season 4 Debuts ... Breaking Bad 4.2: Gun and Question ... Breaking Bad 4.11: Tightening Vice ... Breaking Bad 4.12: King vs. King ... Breaking Bad Season 4 Finale: Deceptive Flowers


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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dexter 8.9: The Psycho Son

Well, I've been saying all season that the prime villain in Dexter this year is Vogel.   In episode 8.9, it turns out that I wasn't too far off.

The brain surgeon turns out not another of Vogel's patients, not Vogel herself, but her son.   And though at this point there's no evidence that she's been working with him all along, she's certainly working with him now, in an alliance that promises nothing but trouble for Dexter.

And that's not all.   Kenny Johnson from The Shield is on hand as a US Marshall Cooper hunting Hannah.  In a great scene, the marshall asks Harrison to identify the three figures in his little boy drawing.  Harrison says Daddy, me, and ... the blonde woman is Mommy.   Either Harrison is even more clever than we think, or he has Mommy on his mind because Dexter earlier asked him if he missed Hannah and Harrison said he wanted her to be his Mommy.  So Dex and Hannah caught a break because Harrison had indeed put Hannah in the picture, but identified her to the marshall as Mommy not Hannah.

But judging from the coming attractions - and in fact I thought so during this episode - Marshall Cooper won't be dissuaded that easily.  So, with just three episodes to the whole series left, here's what Dexter has arrayed against him.   A psycho and her shrink mother who knows just about everything there is to know about Dexter.   The only advantage that Dexter has over Vogel is her constant under-estimation of his emotional depth.  But Dexter also has to fend off Marshall Cooper.  And whom can he count on for help with that?   Incredibly but increasingly plausibly, Deb - who's beginning to accept life with a "convention of serial killers," as she puts it.

Dexter wants to go off to Argentina with Hannah and Harrison.  Watch out Buenos Aires!  Yeah, I know the odds are long, but I'm hoping against all odds for a happy ending here.

In other words, I'm hoping to hear a song from Evita before the season is over, in addition to the song from Lost.

See also Dexter Season 8 Premiere: Mercury in Retrograde, Dexter Incandescent ... Dexter 8.2: The Gift ... Dexter 8.3: The Question and the Confession ... Dexter 8.4: The "Lab Rat" and Harry's Daughter ... Dexter 8.5: Just Like Family ... Dexter 8.6: The Protege ... Dexter 8.7: Two Different Codes? ... Dexter 8.8: "A Great Future"

And see also Dexter Season 6 Sneak Preview Review ... Dexter 6.4: Two Numbers and Two Killers Equals? ... Dexter 6.5 and 6.6: Decisive Sam ... Dexter 6.7: The State of Nebraska ... Dexter 6.8: Is Gellar Really Real? .... Dexter 6.9: And Gellar Is ... ... Dexter's Take on Videogames in 6.10 ...Dexter and Debra:  Dexter 6.11 ... Dexter Season 6 Finale: Through the Eyes of a Different Love

And see also
 Dexter Season 4: Sneak Preview Review ... The Family Man on Dexter 4.5 ...Dexter on the Couch in 4.6 ... Dexter 4.7: 'He Can't Kill Bambi' ... Dexter 4.8: Great Mistakes ...4.9: Trinity's Surprising Daughter ... 4.10: More than Trinity ... 4.11: The "Soulless, Anti-Family Schmuck" ... 4.12: Revenges and Recapitulations

And see also reviews of Season 3Season's Happy Endings? ... Double Surprise ... Psychotic Law vs. Sociopath Science ... The Bright, Elusive Butterfly of Dexter ... The True Nature of Miguel ...Si Se Puede on Dexter ... and Dexter 3: Sneak Preview Review



Hell on Wheels 3.4: Extreme Lacrosse

Well, we learned something very interesting Hell on Wheels 3.4 last night - the Kiowa played a mean game of lacrosse, in which losers were beaten to death.

This in turn provides an occasion for an important moral moment for Cullen and Elam.   Cullen knocks down one of his Kiowa opponents, but can't bring himself to kill him as the Kiowa rules and expectations require.  The chief understandably takes umbrage, and gets ready to burn Cullen and Elam.   Tied to the stakes, Elam can't believe that Cullen, who has killed so many, would sacrifice his and Elam's lives for the principle of not killing an innocent Kiowa.

This scene is all the more powerful because it contrasts with Cullen's allowing a Mormon boy to hang several weeks ago - ordering it, in fact - even though he knows the boy is innocent.  Presumably that terrible event has brought Cullen closer to his conscience.  He even apologizes to Elam for following his conscience and leading to his and Elam's deaths.

Of course, since this is television, we know that neither Cullen nor Elam will not die in this Kiowa fire - after all, it's just the 4th episode of the 3rd season, and - one hopes - nowhere near the final episode of the series.

Back in Hell on Wheels, Louise right at that moment is getting an earful from Durant about Cullen's murderous past.  Durant of course neglects to tell her that Cullen's murders were a not unjust act of retribution for the slaughter of his family at the end of the Civil War.  The result is that Louise now has doubts about the goodness she saw in Cullen - ironically at the very time that Cullen is demonstrating his decency in the Kiowa camp to the point of sacrificing his and Elam's lives.

It was an extreme game of lacrosse indeed, in the end of most because of the profound moral conflicts of life in the Wild West it threw into such high relief.

See also Hell on Wheels 3.1-2: Bohannan in Command ... Hell on Wheels 3.3: Talking and Walking

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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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Bridge 1.7: A Killer and a Reluctant Professor

Well, our team nailed a killer in the pounding Bridge 1.7, but is he the killer they and we have been seeking?  He blew a deputy's head off, no doubt.  But Sonya suspects that he's not the main killer - and certainly not the brains of the evil operation - and she knows what she's talking about.

Clearly Hank didn't shoot the deputy - wasn't that line in the Eric Clapton song? - but he could still technically could be the evil uber-killer.  I don't really think so ... but I'm just saying for the record.

But here's something I do think:  Is it only me, or is Marco's wife Alma being much too hard on him? Okay, he cheated on her, one night, and she's acting as if he she learned he had been carrying on a longterm affair for years, or had been sleeping with every woman in town.

Alma clearly likes the reluctant professor - who seems a bit of a schmuck himself - but I have a feeling there's something more going on with her.  We'll see - and also whether that has any connection to the case.

Indeed, at this point, there are still lots of promising loose ends out there for grabs as solutions to the case.   The tunnel doyen certainly enjoys her work, and is ruthless to the core.   Cesar is capable of any level of violence, even though he says he doesn't enjoy it.  Daniel's out of his mind - I wouldn't put anything past him - but I guess he's pretty much on the victim side of this.  But Charlotte's husband's still a cypher, and who knows what he might have set into motion.

Lots of good story ahead on the road, in English and Spanish, and I'm looking forward.

See also The Bridge Opens Brooding and Valent ... The Bridge 1.2: A Tale of Two Beds ... The Bridge 1.6: Revelations


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Broadchurch 1.3: The Spy

Broadchurch 1.3 continues with its almost everyone a suspect in Danny's murder - even after someone is apparently cleared after lying.

Danny's father is the prime suspect in 1.3, which starts with his lame alibi for the night Danny was murdered, Danny's blood on his boat, and Ellie's son telling Alec that Danny told him his father Mark had a temper and hit Danny a few times.  Mark is held but released, when the woman he was sleeping that night - not his wife - comes forward.  This was my feeling all along - that Mark was lying to police to cover up not the murder of his son but his cheating on his wife.

But where does this leave us?  Not 100% sure of Mark's innocence, because, even though he has a good explanation for how Danny's blood got  on the boat, we see someone - presumably Mark - burning it at the end of the episode.  Is this where Mark slept with the blonde, not his wife, on the fateful evening, and that's why he burned the boat?  That would make sense, since Mark feels guilty about what he was doing on the night of the murder.   But we don't know for sure at this point that Mark burned the boat, or even if the burning boat was Mark's.

And what's going on with Ellie's son?  Was he telling the truth about Mark hitting Danny, and, if not, why not?  Here's a wild little theory:  Ellie's husband killed Danny, and Ellie's son is lying to protect him.  Or maybe not - it's just a wild theory I have with no evidence at this point.

The show continues to have great scenes and lines.  Like when Ellie tells Alec to back off,  and says she'll "piss in a cup and throw it at you" if you don't.  Those courteous Brits know how to hurl an insult when they're mad - just as you see to such good effect on another brilliant show, Luther, which is coming back week after next.

But in some ways my favorite scene is when Danny's mother Beth warns daughter Chloe not to talk in front of the mild-mannered cop who is staying with Danny's family ostensibly just to be of help.  He's a "spy," Beth tells Chloe, and Beth is right.   One of the few things we can sure of - one of the few pieces of incontestable truth - we get on this taut and excellent show.

See also Broadchurch: Powerful Viewing ... Broadchurch 1.2: Brooding Excellence


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