Weekly TV Recap
3rd April 2016
A brief warning, two of these recaps deal with season finales, so I will be talking about the episodes in relation to the entire series and spoilers are unfortunately unavoidable. I will try my best not to go into specifics, but if you have not yet watched the last episode of The Night Manager or the Gravity Falls season one finale, proceed with caution (and if you haven’t watched any of either show at all, you may want to catch up before you read on).
The Night Manager
I finally get to talk about a single episode of this thing and it’s the last one. Typical as that may be, I at least have a lot to say, both about this episode and the series as a whole in hindsight. I mentioned last week that this episode was going to make or break the show and I’m thankful to say that it’s good news. This isn’t just a great finale, it’s one of The Night Manager’s strongest episodes overall.
The tension is high after the previous episode and it keeps getting higher. You know that Roper will discover Pine’s true intentions eventually, but it’s a question of how and who else is going to be endangered along the way. The highlight of the episode, however, is when Burr puts herself right in the line of fire to steal some evidence from Roper’s safe. “You’re a pregnant woman!” snaps David Harewood. “Yes, and that’s the perfect cover,” replies Burr. I’m not entirely sure why that makes her the perfect cover, but okay. “Please don’t make her go into labour in the middle of the heist;” thinks I. “That’d be one cliché too far.” They don’t. Thankfully. It’s a great little sequence, it plays out a little like a heist movie in miniature, and I love me some heist movies.
I was concerned, at first, that things were wrapping up a little too quickly, that Roper’s ultimate defeat was a little unsatisfying, but the show pulled a final twist on us (and him) that made it work. I would, however, would have been happy with a slightly more extended epilogue. Leaving one character’s future ambiguous is one thing, but all of them? I would have particularly liked to have seen one more scene of Burr, as we never do see what happens to her husband in the aftermath of episode five (though its inferred he’s fine) and no character deserves happiness more than her. Also I’m still not clear on what happened in Devon in episode 2. Or why that entire flashback-within-a-flashback Devon sequence really existed because in the end it wasn’t entirely necessary to the story, we could have just been told that Burr helped Pine set up a secret identity. That’s my big nitpick. If I missed something and anyone has an explanation, I’d be grateful to know. Maybe it’s clearer in the book.
This is a show that I would completely recommend, but I would advise watching in chunks, as leaving a week between each episode means information is bound to leak. I’m pretty sure Pine’s allegiance (or that of any of the shady politicians whose names I’m still not clear on) would become a lot clearer when seen as one whole performance, and you really do need to be paying attention to deal with how much political, business and intelligence jargon gets thrown around. I am planning on reading the book soon (and I’m intrigued as to how much more I’ll get from the deeper perspective prose can give to a character, and if Devon will be explained, and how much the shift in time period changes things). Who knows, maybe it’ll give me a whole different perspective on the show. Maybe I’ll watch it again with new eyes. I’ll be sure to make a post about it when I’m done.
Once Upon a Time
(Season 5, Episode 15: The Brothers Jones)
I could give or take this episode. It’s inevitable in a show like this. Therefore I really don’t have much to say here. This episode sees the (brief) return of Hook’s brother Liam (who I swear is played by a different actor? Please correct me if I’m wrong) and once again feels a lack of Mr Gold (where is he when he keeps sitting out these episodes? Hanging out with Peter Pan? Playing pool with Hades?), especially after what the previous episode set up in regards to him.
One interesting thing that happens is that Henry has reacquired the author’s pen from the sorcerer’s house (and does this mean we’ll be seeing Merlin again? I hope so, I really feel like all the Arthurian characters and lacking closure), which means we may be heading in an interesting direction concerning the temptation of what power it offers against a foe like Hades.
Otherwise, it’s serviceable but kind of unmemorable. Sorry. Oh, except for the very end, where the writers once again find a way to write Zelena, my least favourite, back into the show and oh how contrived it is. As much as I don’t want Hades to end up as the Big Bad of the season, I absolutely do not want Zelena taking his place or pulling his strings in any fashion. With any luck, Gold will send them both for a dip in the river of lost souls. I am anticipating that I won’t like next week’s episode very much and I am really beginning to miss Storybrooke. Please, OUAT, let’s not let the Underworld drag on much longer.
(Season 2, Episodes 2)
So, I have been informed that the motorbike gang seen in these first few episodes of Daredevil season 2 was also featured in Agents of SHIELD (of which I’ve only seen the first half of the first season because I am a bad Marvel fan). So, yeah, continuity. That’s nice. There’s also a speech early on in episode 2 from Officer Mahoney that sounds very much like a lead-in to Civil War (and I’m kind of hoping that the Punisher is at least mentioned in that movie).
Episode 2 juggles two separate plotlines – one following Matt and the second with Foggy and Karen – in the best way anything can juggle plotlines, by letting them both lead to the same place, that being a trap for, turned fist-fight with, The Punisher. The stand out moments, however, are a haunting scene of Matt (as a result of episode one’s confrontation with the Punisher) starts losing his hearing and a scene of the Punisher himself at a pawn shop where a deal turns sour (there were shudders. It’s hard to root for the murderer but when it’s a beat-down well deserved…)
One thing of note here is that, compared to episode one, is the decision to cut away from violence rather than show it. That’s not to say that the fight scenes aren’t still brutal, and there is still blood, but I actually think this was a wise choice. After the shocker of an opening shoot-out by a faceless Punisher, it’s very chilling to finally get a good look at the man’s face, but not see the damage he deals. We had a taste of it, and now its left up to our imaginations.
Of less concern are Karen and the current Nelson and Murdock client, Grotto. Karen has never been my favourite character, but luckily when she’s around, so, generally, is Foggy. I feel like Karen might become more interesting if she ever gets to know that Matt is Daredevil. As the audience, we of course have hindsight and see the full picture, but she does sometimes come across as way too oblivious to what’s going on (though Foggy isn’t exactly subtle about it either).
Anyway, just like the previous episode, this one ends on a cliffhanger with Daredevil’s life in the balance, at the Punisher’s mercy. This really is a show designed for marathoning in one go. They want you to go to the next episode so badly, but right now I feel the need for a breather.
(Season 1, Episodes 18 – 20)
The self-control it took not to leap straight into season 2 was immense. Considering that episode 18 was an enjoyable but fairly predictable “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” romp with a heavy handed message about accepting other’s faults, I think this speaks to just how good the final two episodes (a sort of half-way two-parter, in that they lead into one another but tell separate stories, each with a set-up and conclusion of their own). In fact, I think this finale is the best thing Gravity Falls has had to offer yet.
I’ll keep it short to avoid spoilers. Really my only review of this show so far is to yell “why isn’t everyone watching this genius?” (though admittedly one wouldn’t have to watch every episode to get what’s going on here, just episode one and the Gideon eps, really). But yes, this provides a neat little wrap up to that ongoing subplot (though in such a fashion that I feel there should, perhaps, have been just one more episode with Gideon as the main threat to make the set-up more complete), as well as introducing everyone’s favourite evil dorito, Bill Cipher, who is a riot and I really don’t want to spoil him for anyone else.
In true finale fashion, everything here is blown up to huge proportions (as in giant mecha huge. Yeah) and I’m glad to say that whilst the twins deal with the main plotline, Stan’s subplot actually ends up factoring into Gideon’s defeat as well, which made the whole thing doubly satisfying. And it ends on quite the cliffhanger, finally paying off the end of episode one with the biggest reveal of the show so far. Whatever’s going on in Gravity Falls, its clear its leading up to something big and I cannot wait to find out what.
Sadly next week’s review is only going to be on three shows. Goodbye, The Night Manager. I look forward to its replacement with Game of Thrones in a few weeks’ time.