Here we are again. Not just in the fact another week has passed, bringing with it plenty of television to scour through and discuss, but also the approaching season’s end. It’s quite difficult to comprehend that we’re almost at that time of year again, and that September was seven months ago. Quite frankly, although the Summer hiatus brings with it a huge void in my life, I will have Netflix to keep my television-obsessed brain segment happy, so it could be worse.
Anyway, as well as continuing writing this posts every week, I’ll also be trawling through the week’s offerings and producing an ‘Actor of the week’ post. Some performances I have seen recently have astounded me to the degree that I felt compelled to start something like this, so you can expect these at the end of each week for the foreseeable future.
The Good Wife – Rape: A Modern Perspective
No, the title of this week’s episode was not ripped directly from a Law and Order: Special Victims Unit episode. Instead, it was The Good Wife’s chance to take several stories from the headlines and weave them into a case of the week story, and because this show knows how to do that well, it succeeded.
The Good Wife has always seemed interested in technology and how it can shape events and people. The fact it has opened many an episode with a close-up shot of a computer screen is pretty evident of that. This week, that fascination seemed to become ever more present as Anonymous–the clandestine hacking group–take an interest in a trial Alicia and co are trying (and losing), and push it into the spotlight, derailing the entire thing. It’s an interesting theme that highlights how technology can assist or collapse a legal proceeding, and the episode handles it well.
Elsewhere, Diane’s offer of a position on the Supreme Court is still on the tables but is being threatened by her relationships with both Kurt McVeigh–her future husband–and Will, her partner at the firm. I can’t see where this particular plot is heading, though if the season ends with her severing both connections, I won’t be happy, even if it ultimately means she will have achieved one of her dreams. I mean c’mon, Will without Diane? Diane without Will? It’s like having cereal without milk.
Also, I’m finding myself intrigued as to where the plot with Cary and co plotting to leave the firm to create their own will go. On the one hand, I’d be disappointed were he to sever ties, but on the other hand, I’d be somewhat pleased because it could mean increased screen-time for Matt Czuchry, and that can only ever be a good thing considering his absence is usually always something I want less of.
With just two episodes remaining of the season (sobbing), there are several subplots hanging around whose outcomes continue to prove elusive, and could potentially send the fifth season in a completely different direction, one of which would be the continuous scenes where it’s clear that Alicia and Will still have feelings for each other. Whatever the case, the next two episodes should prove eventful.
Oh, and some appreciation for Cary telling Alicia and that they are the ‘new Will and Diane’ please. A lot of appreciation if you will (no pun intended) for one of my favourite lines of dialogue in the whole week.
Game of Thrones – Walk of Punishment
The first two episodes of Game of Thrones‘ third season mostly served to re-establish where our characters are, what they are doing and what could happen to them next. However, ‘Walk of Punishment’ was the episode that propelled a lot of the chess pieces forward a square, and the strongest episode of the three so far was produced as a result.
As usual, some characters experienced no scenes this week. Sansa, for example, and also Bran and his travelling cohorts. Instead, we saw particular focus on Brienne and Jaime, and Tyrion, who continues to be every bit as wonderful, as he and Bronn arrange for Podrick Payne, Tyrion’s squire, to enjoy the pleasure of a few scantily clad women (a highly amusing set of scenes, I’m sure you’ll agree).
Despite many memorable scenes belonging to numerous characters, it’s the stories of both Brienne, Jaime and Dany that continue to impress. The strongest reason for those is simply because so far, their stories have flowed in a manner almost entirely consistent with the book. Granted, Dany discovering Barristan Selmy came way earlier than in the book (this was only revealed in part two, ‘Blood and Gold’), but for obvious reasons.
However, that final sequence of scenes ultimately resulting in one less hand for Jaime was pretty much identical to the image I had of it from the book. It was tense, played out superbly and the fact it was directly followed by a fantastic rendition of ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ over the credits only served to make it even better (seriously, more indie recordings of the songs, please).
All that being said, I’m still finding both Catelyn and Jon’s stories proving uneventful so far. Of course, I’m aware of just how far these stories will eventually go (episode nine *wink wink*) but so far, we’ve seen very little movement in Jon’s story beyond standing around talking some more, and Catelyn’s purpose so far seems to be simply to give poignant speeches and look miserable. It’s fortunate that I know where they’ll be heading, so I can forgive the current stagnation, but to a non-book viewer, it would appear as though they’re literally doing nothing, and with so much material to cover, that’s troublesome.
Nevertheless, the further we progress into Game of Thrones‘ third season, the more the many, many stories all running concurrently begin to grow from their foundations. Some slower than others, but progress is progress. I know where things are heading, and I wish I could share them with anybody frustrated by some slower story movements, but you can be assured that things will explode, and soon.
Southland – Reckoning
After a season that’s proven to the show’s strongest, and most consistent, Southland bowed out this week with a fantastic episode that could, should the unfortunate need arise, function as a series finale as well as a season conclusion. But with that mahoosive cliffhanger, I sincerely hope there’s more Southland around the corner.
Southland’s fifth season has well and truly belonged to Michael Cudlitz. All season he has provided terrific performances, and his work last week continued in the season finale, as the aftermath of his kidnapping, and Lucero’s brutal murder, haunt him, eventually leading to Cooper being shot multiple times in an altercation that ends the episode with him hovering between life and death.
Cooper’s journey throughout season five has been one of legacy. Who will he leave behind when he’s gone? What will his defining moment be that people will remember him for? And all season he has struggled with discovering what that was. He came close to having his own child, but his ex-wife rebuked his offers in the finale, leaving him sorely without options once again–and with his lingering guilt still with him over his partner’s murder (evident when his old FTO asks him why they relinquished their weapons), his journey of discovery came to an abrupt end.
Whether Cooper lives or dies mostly depends on whether Southland lives or dies, but regardless of that outcome, Michael Cudlitz has been phenomenal. He won’t receive the Emmy recognition he so rightly deserves, but he can take pride in the fact that the majority of this season has been ‘Michael Cudlitz, starring Southland’, and the show would not have been nearly as riveting or excellent without his presence.
‘Reckoning’, even without Cudlitz, was a terrific episode to bring an equally terrific season to a conclusion. It brought a lot of the show’s main stories to a pivotal turning point, such as Sammy finally discovering what a treacherous toad Ben is, as well as Lydia seemingly moving on to a new romantic conquest, namely old partner Russell, without necessarily changing the whole direction of the show itself. Southland has often progressed its narrative in different directions, some of them significant, but the core foundations of the show remain the same; these are cops, doing cop things before going home at night, hopefully still breathing. For five years it’s been done excellently, and hopefully there will be a sixth year to continue it. But if it doesn’t, it can bow out knowing it ended on a high, and that the show was one of the finest police dramas to hit television in many, many years.
Doctor Who – Hide
So here we are at the halfway point of Doctor Who’s current run of episodes. We’ve had wifi eating people, a mummy that looked like a tree on an alien planet, Davos Seaworth on a nuclear submarine, and now a traditional ghost story, told in a spooky mansion. Well, that’s what it seemed like anyway. ‘Hide’ was not a bad episode; I dare say it’s my favourite of the current batch so far. However, this was not a ghost story, and the ending nearly collapsed the atmosphere built in the preceding forty minutes.
Firstly, ‘Hide’ was creepy. Not necessarily ‘put the book in the freezer’ creepy, but gently unnerving, using the fear of the unknown to instill tension. Small things, such as captured images of the ‘ghost’ having extended jaw-lines, and a shadow moving in the background, contributed to ‘Hide’ not being totally devoid of anything resembling scary for the duration, which for an episode of this nature, would’ve been irreparably damaging.
While the episode was generally good at creating an aura of creepiness, the fact it quickly became known that there was no ghost made things feel less atmospheric. Instead, we were told the ‘ghost’ was instead a time traveller, trapped in a pocket universe needing help from the resident empathic psychic. What started out as an interesting ghost hunt became ‘spacey wacey’, and while it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, I can’t help but be somewhat irritated that it wasn’t just a simple ghost hunt anymore.
Also, ‘Hide’ did a good job of introducing a genuinely horrifying monster into the mix, lurking in the shadows and tailing the Doctor and Clara wherever they went. We never knew what they were or what they wanted, and we didn’t really need to because they were serving their purpose. And then, in the final minute, it’s revealed that the ‘monsters’ we’ve seen (there are two) are not evil, or even villainous, they are in fact lovers separated by an entire dimension. We started the episode with ‘Hide’ as a ghost story, then it became ‘spacey wacey’, and finished as a love story (the Doctor even says this at one point).
In turning the monsters into a love story, the whole episode’s build-up of fear and tension surrounding these unknown entities collapsed. New Who often seems intent on making sure the villains of each episode have a motive and a reason for doing what they do. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This instance was definitely of the latter, and the episode would’ve functioned perfectly fine without the entire sequence added on to the end, which actually felt like an afterthought rather than a piece of the plot that needed to be explained.
Even with its faults, I enjoyed ‘Hide’. It wasn’t the best episode of the show, nor was it what I was expecting before heading into it, but it was aided by stellar character development on Clara’s part, and great guest stars. Doctor Who continuously receives criticism week after week, noticeably more so than most other shows I watch, but I continue to be happy with its direction, even on its weaker weeks. Fortunately I don’t consider the previous two to be weaker weeks, so my days of worrying for the show’s future are still yet to make an appearance.