Weekly TV Recap
26th March 2016
We’re a day early this week, because I’m going to London for Easter tomorrow.
The Night Manager
(Episodes 4 and 5)
Is it still a cliché if it’s based on a book that’s the same age I am? Because when Pine, in episode 4, decides it would be a good idea to start an affair with Roper’s girlfriend it’s a moment worthy of yelling “you are an idiot” at the screen. Was this in the book or an addition for the show? I don’t know, but it was one of the very few bring-down moments in a pair of episodes much stronger than the slightly muddled episode 3.
I don’t have much to add, analysis wise, from last week: Laurie is still the standout performance (though Olivia Coleman is creeping up on him, more on that in a moment). I also want to touch on the use of colour in this show. I love the way they make the exotic locations, like Madrid, really bright, full of colourful plants and the bright sea and sky, then cut back to the drabbest, greyest portrayal of London I think I’ve ever seen. The contrast is just fantastic.
Episode 4 did still suffer from slowness (I still think the running time of each episode needed trimming), but was a marked improvement on Episode 3 thanks to more screen-time for Olivia Coleman. Now that we were following a character I was invested in whenever we switched away from Pine and back to London, I finally began to understand what was going on in that half of the story. Jargon (of any kind, in any media) is so much easier to understand when you care about the person speaking the words. Then there’s the monologue given by Coleman towards the end of episode, about why Angela Burr does what she does, which might as well be her next Bafta nomination reel.
Episode 5, however, hit the ground running and brought the show back up to the quality of episodes 1 and 2, and for once I didn’t feel the pacing problems. Without spoilers, I was finally able to get a handle on Pine’s allegiance, and seeing Burr’s home and husband was a stroke of genius. I felt a chill the moment he was introduced, as I knew that at this point of the story things were only going to get worse. The whole episode built up to a single moment, and despite the fact that it consisted of most of the cast looking at various screens, I was right there with them, heart racing, wondering what the outcome would be.
Then there are the closing scenes, for both Burr and Pine, one with horrifying implications, the second chilling, as we wrap back around to where we began. I’ve been mixed-to-positive about The Night Manager, and I have a feeling that Episode 6 is either going to pull the rug right out from under me with a brilliant conclusion that casts the whole story in a different light… Or leave me cold like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ultimately did.
I hope it’s the former.
Once Upon a Time
(Season 5, Episode 14: Devil’s Due)
Rumpelstiltskin episodes of OUAT are generally quite strong. Rumple (or Mr Gold as he’s known in Storybrooke) has always been one of the show’s more interesting characters (unlike, say, Regina, who started out weak but grew on me). In Devil’s Due, we have an overall good episode, but one that leaves me with trepidation for the plot to come.
It’s going to be hard to write about this episode without any spoilers, so I’m going to keep it brief, but I hope it means we’re going to see more of Gold as The Dark One, which is implied in the climactic scene between Gold and this episode’s guest star: his ex-wife (and Hook’s ex-lover) Milah. Speaking of Milah, a brilliant and awkwardly funny point is made about Emma having been in a relationship with Milah’s son and her ex. I never thought of that before and it’s an intentionally cringe-worthy moment.
The Storybrooke backstory doesn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know. Unlike the previous two episodes it doesn’t really fill in a gap or answer a question from a previous season. Instead it’s there to set up Gold’s conflict for the rest of the season, which is fair, but I don’t really like what it means for him, in that it looks like he’s going to be playing second fiddle to Hades, who just isn’t as compelling. I’m waiting for the moment where either Gold or Hades lets loose, and I hope its Gold. I’m sure Robert Carlisle doesn’t miss the make-up, but I miss the Crocodile.
(Season 2, Episode 1: Bang)
Daredevil season 2 opens with a, pardon the pun, “Bang” (and that must have been intentional) and lot of blood. Between a brutal shootout and a collection of poor sods hung up on meat-hooks, there’s a pretty clear reminder that the Netflix area of the MCU is adult-only.
It feels a little strange to return to Daredevil’s Hell’s Kitchen after seeing Jessica Jones’ far different (though no less grim) side of the city. The season begins with Hell’s Kitchen in turmoil. In the aftermath of Wilson Fisk’s defeat new gangs are rising to power. It’s not clear how long has passed between seasons, however. I’ve been told it’s meant to be real time, so just under a year, but I don’t see why it would take that long to start filling the power vacuum. Nor could you tell from this episode alone where the events of either Jessica Jones or Age of Ultron fit into the timeline, or where Civil War will. True to season 1’s passing references to “The Incident”, there’s absolutely no mention of the brief robot uprising. In season 1 of Daredevil and in Jessica Jones, the refusal to acknowledge the wider world beyond passing mention was funny to be. At this point, it’s beginning to stretch credibility, especially now Daredevil’s wearing a full on superhero costume. Maybe it’ll be mentioned later on, but the MCU is expanding fast, and the Netflix shows can only go so long before acknowledging that despite their go for broke realism, they still share the same universe as super soldiers, Norse gods and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Just a shot of Avengers tower on the news would be enough, I’m just saying.
This episode is all about building the tension. Someone is encroaching on Daredevil’s turf, dealing with criminals in a form that is far more brutal and deadly, and when at the end of the episode we see The Punisher in action, it’s an earned moment. The guy is scary. Luckily, amongst the grim and the gore, there’s levity in the form of some sweet scenes between Matt, Foggy and Karen, and I hope those don’t diminish as the series progresses. All in all, a good start.
And by the way, I think the new costume looks fine.
(Season 1, Episodes 11 – 17)
I’ve been busy this week, but if I wasn’t busy I would have finished season 1 by now and probably be well into season 2. It is so hard to pace myself with this show, and that should tell you all you need to know. Gravity Falls continues to be excellent.
In this run of episodes, the stand out is episode 11, ‘Little Dipper’ for bringing back Lil’ Gideon as a reoccurring villain (and it’s kind of hilarious to me that this show’s most threatening antagonist so far is a tiny pre-teen with a ridiculous quiff), and for focusing on a point that is very relatable to me: height envy. Dipper is still my favourite character, by the way, and episodes like this are why (two episodes in quick succession focussing on Mabel’s boy troubles don’t help – the episodes about Dipper’s attraction to Wendy are a bit more spaced out, but that’s my least favourite aspect of Dipper too – but it’s nice that Mabel’s been getting a few more episodes where the main plot focuses on her).
I would prefer that they stopped bringing in Gideon in minor roles in other episodes, dealing out more petty vengeances against Grunkle Stan (such as throwing tomatoes at him when he’s stuck in the stocks in ‘Irrational Treasure’, or stealing the best deckchair at the pool in ‘The Deep End’). It doesn’t really gel with his outright attempts to murder the Pine’s family and steal the Mystery Shack.
I’m going to absolutely try my best to just watch the last three episodes of season 1 this week (and watch more Daredevil instead), but if there’s an absolutely gripping cliff-hanger I won’t be able to promise anything.
This week I’m going to see Zootropolis (so look out for that review) and possibly Batman vs. Superman. Possibly. TV reviews will be back next week on the usual Sunday! Happy Easter, y’all, and have a great week.