Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review - Alphas Season 1 Episode 8 A Short Time in Paradise

Boy was there something off with last night's episode. I've enjoyed watching every episode of Alphas, but "A Short Time in Paradise" was a chore. The main problem is that the alpha this week, a cult leader named Jonas, is a stock character from all perspectives. His powers allow him to give people something that makes them feel good, he has messianic ideas, and people are dying. That's it. Nothing about him or the situation changes from the first time we see him to the last, and it's not even that scary or creepy. But the writers continue to show us Jonas's powers again and again as if the audience will realize something new after the 10th time.

The subplots have significantly more substance, as Rosen shoots a gun for the first time and kills Jonas, and Rachel's father comes to terms with his daughter's condition.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 3 Episode 8 The 40th Floor

The Warehouse's history is territory that still can be explored thoroughly, so the Regents returning was a definite bonus, coinciding with the mysterious wheelchaired villain. As the building crumbles, Artie and Myka lead the Regents around and we get to learn a bit about who they are. We get to see their personalities and see that they are not faceless bureaucrats.

Thematically and tonally, I'm not sure about this whole deal with the Regents. We're supposed to have some doubts about them and how virtuous they are. Clearly, torture is questionable and bronzing (leaving the person's mind intact but body motionless) is as well. Seeing how the enemy acts, torturing and whatnot, in comparison to the Regent's similar attitude should give us pause. But the show's tone is so upbeat that it overrides any doubts expressed by the characters. They are still having fun and cracking jokes, making this seem like a less serious issue.

After the H.G. mess at the end of last season, one would think the writers would have more tact with recurring characters in the future, but apparently that's not the case. Sally was actually a pretty formidable enemy and was a big part in several episodes, but she's unceremoniously ditched after failing the mission. Steve was a huge part of the season and is fired after being really stupid while Mrs. Frederick was getting information. Quickly, two major characters are gone without so much of a send off. Yes, they could return (and there are hints that Steve could join the wheelchair guy), but my initial disappointment will remains.

The final revelation that Jane is Pete's mother was great with the extra layer of Pete being married to Seven of Nine while being the son of Captain Janeway.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - The Closer Season 7 Episode 8 Death Warrant

I'm really liking this season of The Closer, with the ongoing investigation into Terrell Baylor's murder intruding into all aspects of Brenda's life. The investigation plays a large role in "Death Warrant," and in the last act, we see the Brenda who dropped Terrell of in unfriendly territory, the unforgiving Brenda who simply wants to punish the criminal. She's a scary person and Kyra Sedgwick does not disappoint.

Until now, Raydor has largely been the antagonist who hung around and caused trouble for the team. The team didn't really like her and I'm guessing the audience didn't like her either. This week, however, we see the other side of her, the kick ass officer who can shoot a criminal in the head with a beanbag. It's a nice departure from her usual role, and hopefully we'll see more of that in the ramp up to her taking over Brenda's job (assuming the spin-off is still a go).

As far as Gavin's investigation for the mole, we don't learn anything new, but Gavin is quite confident in himself. After interviewing everyone, he tells the entire room that he will win, making it clear to both the mole and Goldman what he thinks. This fresh act of confidence is somewhat reassuring, but things seem far from over.

Score: 9.1/10

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review - Leverage Season 4 Episode 10 The Queen's Gambit Job

Leverage's summer finale brings back Mark Shepard as Sterling, a fan favorite who always spices things up, in what is a pretty normal episode. There are some notable differences--the lack of a real bad guy (the step-dad wasn't overtly evil in the mold of other villains), Sterling helping the team throughout most of the episode instead of chasing the them--but everything else is the usual. Nate plays at the chess tournament, Sophie helps him win, Parker steals the weight, Hardison does tech support, and Elliot hangs out with Sterling. In the end, the episode is bolstered by Sterling getting his daughter back, an expected but potent twist.

One thing that would have been cool is if the episode had actually been shot in Dubai. Covert Affairs had an episode earlier this year shot in Istanbul and it looked great. I don't think Leverage has that kind of budget, but we can hope.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - True Blood Season 4 Episode 10 Burning Down the House

Towards the end of each season, True Blood should be focused on the main plot, witches vs. vampires in this season. All the threads should draw towards a climax as a culmination of a season's worth of building. Instead, "Burning Down the House" is just like most episodes this season--some decent material and the rest crap.

Once again, a fight between the vampires and witches is stopped after a few minutes with Antonia fleeing the scene. Everyone is back where they started, with the vampires deciding what to do and the witches holed up.  There are a few positives outcomes, however. Bill's insistence on blowing up Moon Goddess Emporium and all the occupants clashes with Sookie's desire to save Tara, and highlights the obstacles that lay between them due to Bill's position, even if Sookie still loves him. Eric gets his memories back and there is instant trouble, as Sookie doesn't know what to do with this Eric.

It seems like main plot has hit a dead end. What more is there to tell? Marnie is crazy, Antonia likely crazy, and they're trying to kill vampires. Meanwhile, the vampires are trying to kill the witches. Surely they'll stop their mini-clashes eventually and get it over with.

Even though Tommy dying was horribly cheesy and insincere, I'm glad he's gone. That means one less character with bad plots. Victory! Terry and Andy spend a lot of time out at this fort where Andy finally realizes what he's become. It's not bad, actually, but the overall plot, beginning with Andy taking V, was so stale that I still don't care. Jessica continues to be awesome and she had a great line about just wanting to kill people, but her stuff with Jason and Hoyt is one of the most boring plots.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Breaking Bad Season 4 Episode 7 Problem Dog

As all the forces swirl around in "Problem Dog," there is one thing that becomes clear: Wal is fucked. Every which direction is another obstacle, created largely by himself. Walt is the Challenger, skidding around in the parking lot, leaving huge circles which lead to the exploded mess. There's no question which car performed the act, and now the question is whether Walt will receive the same fiery end.

His closest ally, Jesse, appears to have switched sides, or has decided to stay neutral, which doesn't bode well. Initially, Jesse goes along with Walt's plan to poison Gus with ricin (despite the failure way back when Tuco had them hostage), and he has several chances to kill Gus, either through poison or by shooting him. However, Mike again tugs on Jesse's pride, handing him a gun in case something happens at the summit. If Jesse felt good when he got away from the fake goons a few episodes back, then he surely felt good after seeing how important and dangerous the meeting was and having a role.

But Jesse seems reluctant to take a firm stance, as he battles his own demons first. His visit to the support group ends badly, in an admission that he joined to sell meth, but he first talks about killing Gale--in a story about putting down a dog. He can really come up with no reason why the dog should have been put down other than that it was a problem dog, and he snaps after the dog woman keeps chastising him. Jesse has come back from the edge since his drug phase, but he's still struggling and looking for more, whatever that may be.  Aaron Paul delivers for the n-th in a stunning scene.

Even the money laundering, a scheme in the plans since the third season, is not going well. Once Skyler learns how much money Walt earns, she tells him it's too much to report. Walt's response? Deal with it. Again, Walt misses the big picture, that the money has to be dealt with properly, in exchange from some short term reprisal. With everything else going on, Walt chooses to ostracize his wife and possibly draw suspicion to the money.

The one stable factor in the past few seasons has been Gus's empire and even that seems to be under imminent threat. The big meeting--with a full vegetable platter, chairs laid out, and a handful of gunmen--ends unceremoniously. There are no key cartel figures, only a messenger. And his message--yes or no? They don't care what Gus is offering. I believe what they want is Walt, the master cooker who fuels Gus's operation. If I remember correctly, the Cousins were originally coming to New Mexico to bring Walt and Jesse to Mexico, but took a detour to deal with Tuco's killer. For now, Gus is willing to put his men on the line for Walt, but if it proves too costly, there is no doubt what Gus will do. Again, bad news for Walt.

Dean Norris was awesome in the final scene, rattling out the connections from Gale to a manufacturer to Los Pollos Hermanos and finally to Gus. And then he busts out the last, damning piece of evidence, fingerprints. I've never been a fan of Hank (and I'd go as far as saying I dislike him when he talks himself up), but it felt good to see him back on track. Go Hank!

In the previous seasons, it always seemed like Walt could get out of a situation. In comparison, he didn't have too much to deal with back then. There was the family and there was the drugs, also a less complicated operation back then. Now, as the family and the drugs come together, the two worlds colliding, Walt's world becomes infinitely harder to manage. How can he even get out?

Score: 9.4/10

  • It looks like Jesse was playing Rage HD for iOS (which is a rail shooter unlike the PC and console versions), though the motion control could be an indication that it was indeed the full version. Good bit of advertisement juxtaposed with Gale's shooting.
  • If Walt's plan to kill Gus had panned out, the cartel probably would have swooped in immediately. Walt dodged the bullet on this one.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review - Suits Season 1 Episode 10 The Shelf Life

How long can Mike keep up the charade? This is one of the questions every viewer asks. The answer to this question, based on evidence of other shows, is that the charade will be kept on indefinitely, as it is the central premise of the show, the driving force that allows Mike and Harvey to work on different cases each week. "The Shelf Life" directly tackles the central premise of the show--Mike's fake degree--with a similar case at an accounting firm. Mike empathizes with the guy and even helps him a bit, but in the end, he's tossed out, without a degree and likely with a tarnished reputation. To Mike this is obviously troubling, but Harvey thinks it's fine. Is it?

The love triangle of Mike, Jenny, and Rachel quickly ramped up after Rachel kissed Mike and Louis implied to Jenny that something was going on between them. While I don't really want to blame anyone, Rachel looks like the bad guy in the situation, having originally turned Mike down and kissed him after he had a girlfriend. This doesn't seem like it'll affect Harvey or the firm, but it's another big thing for Mike to handle.

Score: 8.6/10

Review -Wilfred Season 1 Episode 11 Doubt

"Doubt" gets too caught up in the Bruce stuff that the eventual conclusion, Bruce seemingly disappearing into thin air, didn't live up to expectations. The episode has  funny moments--Wilfred's gangsta swagger--but they are put off to the side once as Bruce shows up and confirms to Ryan that Wilfred is a bad influence. It all seemed like it would build to something big, when we'd learn all about Wilfred and Ryan would have to make a choice. But Bruce is gone and Ryan left back where he started, smoking with Wilfred. In the end, nothing really happened.

I don't think plot is too important on Wilfred, but when the writers dangle out bait, I want to get something out of it. Instead, they remind us that Wilfred and Ryan have this weird relationship--not positive but not entirely negative either--and we learn nothing else.

Score: 8.5/10

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review - Burn Notice Season 5 Episode 10 Army of One

With the summer finale of Burn Notice right around the corner, my tolerance for the show is dipping quite a bit. After another round of explosions and a lead to begin the episode, I sat there and thought of how stupid the show's format is. Since the first episode, Michael has been hunting for clues to his burn notice and he gets further in each episode. But it just happens over and over and over and over and over again, without fail.

So this week, Michael gets a name after Fiona and Sam kidnap a poor guy and get him to recover data from a computer. Big deal? Not really. We're in for another round of shooting/explosion/escape/bigger bad guy. This wouldn't be too bad if the main plot was remotely interesting. It's the thing with Michael leading around a bunch of dummies, a formula that's been cracked too many times around. The added twist is that there are hostages, but even that scenario isn't fruitful.

Score: 7.9/10

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review - Alphas Season 1 Episode 7 Catch and Release

The premise of Alphas--a team of genetically different people stuck between the government and genetically different radicals--is nothing new, and "Catch and Release" feels like the natural course of the plot, but it is a premise that is compelling from every angle.

It's impossible not to see the predicament the characters are in. Skylar is an innocent inventor who creates stuff and sells them. From the inventions we see, they are non-lethal. However, the government, with its power and authority, deems that she is unsafe based on some coded messages and pursues her. When Rosen and the team finds out who Skylar's been communicating with, her genius daughter, they realize what the government will do.

There is something diabolical about the way the government goes about its business in the episode, bypassing Rosen and alway using force first, along with the machine that can find anyone in the world. Nina instantly sides with Skylar, as a friend and also as a fellow alpha. They are in the same boat, and if Skylar, a non-violent alpha, can be locked up, then so can the rest of them. In the end, Rosen defies the government and lets Skylar go, cooking up an excuse. This flies for now, but it's unlikely Rosen can continue to do this.

The greatest concern for the show is whether the writers wish to maintain the status quo. If the writers decide to forever keep in the team working for the government against Red Flag, then there's probably not much to get excited about. But there is a distinct possibility that certain characters could split off and become one of the hunted, and perhaps the writers will go in that direction.

I like how the episode episode built on Gary and Bill even though they weren't that integral to the plot (other than Gary finding NIna and Skylar). We're reminded that each character has lots to deal with on their own outside of work, and it makes their mission even more precarious.

Score: 9.0/10

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 3 Episode 7 Insatiable

Warehouse 13 has such an expansive premise--mystical artifacts around the world packed into a warehouse--that the show has many different modes it can go to. There are sometimes awesome episodes like last week's with a fluid format and great usage of the endless possibilities, and then there are episodes like "Insatiable," basically procedurals with an artifact thrown in.

On a thematic note, I'm not sure I like that the writers revisited the past and inserted an artifact into a case which Myka already revisited in the first season. This is the sort of thing that happened to Mulder and Scully on The X-Files--the paranormal somehow finding them all the time. But the dark, constricting nature of that fits tonally with The X-Files, differing greatly with Warehouse 13 which is a much cheerier show.

Now, we have the idea that artifacts are all around these characters like malevolent shadows which cause harm. It just doesn't fit with the tone of the show. The haunting notes that do come out in Warehouse, such as the mentions that Warehouse agents usually die, aren't nearly enough to tip the scales of the show into a direction where things are particularly dark.

The B-plot was again brief, but it advanced the overall plot for the season. Claudia and Steve are ambushed after retrieving and artifact, leading to a couple funny scenes where an artifact is used to get the license plate numbers from a dog. Surprise, surprise--it looks like Agent Sally Stukowski did it again and this time the characters know. There wasn't much to the plot, but there were only a few scenes, so it didn't really intrude on the rest on the episode. And we got to see the funny sights of Artie and the dog, and Claudia drooling.

Score: 8.2/10

Review - Breaking Bad Season 4 Episode 6 Cornered

I liked plenty of "Cornered," but overall I just wasn't feeling it. The episode focused on the pathology of Walter White with regard to Skyler and Jesse--how he deals with them and their problems and how he continues to isolate himself. This is all fine stuff and the episode has plenty of great scenes, but it's a transition episode which lacks the urgency the stronger episodes have.

Fundamentally, Walt does not fully understand humans, yet he believes he has the answers to everything. He believes he can talk to Skyler, explain the situation, and everything will be fine. But he doesn't who Skyler is or what she wants. First and foremost, she wants safety for her family and when Walt basically tells her that he's high up in the operation, she realizes Walt is not the guy she thought he was. This leads her to run to the Four Corners where she flips a coin. Both times it lands in Colorado, but she moves the coin back to New Mexico. It's a beautiful scene, and when she returns home, she is once again trapped by circumstances--by Walt.

With Jesse, Walt fairs even worse. The first thing he does when he sees Jesse is to berate and belittle him. Even when he figures out that Mike and Gus are running a game on Jesse, his words are utterly insensitive, making Jesse know it's all about him. His words may hold truth, but clearly he now has no means by which to convey them in a manner conducive to another human being. Mike and Gus, meanwhile, know exactly how to handle Jesse. Mike allows Jesse to go on another job, and Jesse actually does some good work.

And Gus later tells Jesse, "I like to think I see things in people." See, Walt, that's how to do it. Gus can refer to himself in the sentence while heaping praise on Jesse. The Walt that once propped up Jesse by calling him a blowfish is now gone, replaced by the self-centered narcissist Heisenberg.

Score: 8.8/10
  • I was so sure that Walt Jr. would die at the end of the episode (partially because I remember Walt Jr. driving with two feet on the pedals back in season two) that my heart actually started beating faster. Needless to say, my heart was very disappointed.
  • The camera on the shovel was really cool. Maybe there could be an episode next season called "The Shovel," which is spent following Walt and Jesse vis-a-vis a shovel.
  • Walt was really terrible to the three laundry women, confirming what Bogdan said about him being a boss. Of course, Walt is so myopic that he thinks he can control the situation. Tyrus promptly sends them back to Honduras, or maybe to their deaths.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review - True Blood Season 4 Episode 9 Let's Get Out of Here

Aside from another cool cliffhanger, this time with Antonia mindcontrolling several vampires to wreak havoc at the hotel, "Let's Get Out of Here" was a pretty bad episode, filled with lots of random scenes outside of the main plot. I don't want to get caught up on the negatives, so this review will be short.

First off, the Mavis plot wrapping up was stupid and random. The writers have been hyping Jesus and Lafayette's powers since the third season and after Lafayette learns he's a medium, he starts seeing a ghost. Meanwhile, Arlene continually freaks out about her baby and instead it looks like something is wrong with him.  But all these problems came from Mavis, who lost her baby long ago. A few episode later and poof, she's disappears into the heavens after they dig up the remains of her baby. Um... okay. Sure there was lots of agonizing towards the end, but the build-up was nowhere near the eventual resolution.

The rest of the plots are almost stagnant and the episode doesn't included any new dynamics. Alcide gets in trouble with the pack, Tommy pretends to be Sam, Sookie cooks up a hairbrained scheme, Andy's weekly V craze, Jason and Jessica, and so on. The witches and vampires are largely put on the sidelines for this episode and it makes for a boring time.

Score: 7.7/10

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Review - The X-Files Season 4 Episode 17 Tempus Fugit / 18 Max

Since these two episodes are basically a single story, I'll reviewing them as a single episode.

Nestled in the cancer arc are "Tempus Fugit" and "Max," two mythology episodes which work well, even at this time in The X-Files's lifespan, when the mystery elements of the mythology are all twisted. While they are mythology episodes dealing with aliens and the government conspiracy, there are no loose ends at the end of the episode, nor continuations of loose ends from previous episodes. This isolation helps greatly when previous mythology have involved a mix of aliens, black oil, an government types with little discernible motives. By the end of "Max," we almost have a perfect idea of all the sides and what they want. It's pretty spectacular how easy to understand both episodes are.

For the first time, I can clearly lay out some facts. Max and Sharon steal alien technology from a military contractor; the military contractor wants it back; UFOs abduct Max, Sharon, and Mulder when they had a piece of the technology; the military aircraft shot down the UFO, also causing Max's plane to crash. No black oil, no bounty hunters, nothing that can't be explain. Given the show's ability to pile on, this it's a big sigh of relief.

These episodes still maintain the core values of The X-Files in the midst of it all. There is the dangerous, secretive military-industrial-alien complex at work again, sacrificing innocent lives in pursuit of goals, whatever they are. At the center of the innocent is Max, the guy who just wanted the truth. He's a fairly memorable character from the first season and we see him in the videos, inquiring about why the government continues to cover things up. Except, no one cares. Surely the aliens don't care about him, not the Syndicate, not the military, not the contractors.

"Tempus Fugit" and "Max" take quite a few detours along the way, with a bunch of random characters coming closer, or even accepting, the truth. With all the weird stuff happening at the beginning of the episode, Mulder immediately starts spouting off his ideas, as Scully makes excuses for him. By "Max," enough people realize something is wrong that Mulder doesn't seem so crazy. Even still, there is the same futility that remains. More people can learn the truth, but without evidence, without hard, tangible proof, there is nothing but ideas in the minds of a few.

Score: 9.0/10

Friday, August 19, 2011

Review - Flashpoint Season 4 Episode 7 Shockwave

Looking at television schedules available on the web, "Shockwave" is the last Flashpoint episode CBS will air during this summer, and, given Nina Tassler's recent comments, potentially the final episode of the show the network will air. I don't believe this signals the end of the show since it was renewed for a fifth season and is still popular in Canada, but nothing is certain.

In any case, "Shockwave" is a strong episode to end on. It's a tense episode, filled with the emotional moments we've come to expect. The format is a bit different than usual, with the team mostly stationary throughout the episode. Spike, Sam, and Raff are stuck in a building with a massive bomb which will detonate. This cuts out some of the less potent scenes like driving around places, allowing for more focus on the characters right at the center of the action.

There's a lot going on--Spike's father having a clout and possibly dying, Sam having a concussion, a woman trapped under rubble, and mostly importantly, the bomber hiding with them in plain sight--and it's all heavy stuff. But everyone pulls out in the end and after a whirlwind ride, the audience can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Suits Season 1 Episode 9 Undefeated

My praise for Suits stems from its shaded characterizations, an unwillingness to go with the flow and declare everything to be fine. Through much of this inaugural season, the characters have struggled with who they are and what kind of person they want to be and there is rarely an easy answer. This is what sets Suits apart from not only USA shows, but also almost every procedural out there.

"Undefeated," however, provides easy solutions to potential problems. Just when it looks like Harvey will commit perjury, a common trope comes out--Harvey was tricking the opposing attorney! In fact, he doesn't have to break his moral code or laws and he can get the settlement he wants. Look how everything turns out right--and how boring it is.

Mike's plot was detached from the rest of the episode and could have been excised without anyone noticing (aside from lost minutes). Rachel is accused of leaking the list of witnesses, but she didn't, and Mike helps her in the end. Not much comes out of it other than fake-Louis's comment about student loans hitting Mike and Rachel having a chip on her shoulder and overreacting.

Some of the dialogue in the episode felt too on the nose, a problem I never had with previous episode. To list a few, the Michael Jordan bit, the Terminator bit, and the woman stating that Mike and Rachel will get together eventually all were too much.

Score: 7.8/10

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review - Wilfred Season 1 Episode 9 Compassion

Trying to read too deeply into Wilfred is riddled with problems (mainly because it could be a show like Children's Hospital where random, funny shit just happens), but "Compassion" comes out and tells us that Ryan's problems are genetic. Ryan's mother is crazy herself and at the end of the episode, we see her cat who is a person in a cat outfit. My interpretation: the writers are telling us that Ryan won't solve his psychological problems through the course of the show. And if this is the case, I won't mind. Ryan's mother, played by Mary Steenburgen, and Wilfred were both very funny and I'll keep coming as long I think it's funny.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - Burn Notice Season 5 Episode 9 Eye For an Eye

Without the stellar performances from Patrick Bauchau and James Frain, "Eye For An Eye" would probably end up on the pile of Burn Notice episodes which all look vaguely familiar. There's nothing about the plot that is any different than the show's typical bag of tricks, but their characters, Lucien and James, respectively, are pretty compelling characters.

On the one hand, you have Lucien, the old Romanian war criminal bomb maker, who spins tale after tale in a rather agreeable manner. He's actually likable, despite his profession, and as we see his reaction to what may happen to his daughter, we kind of feel sorry for him, especially when his buddy kills him instead of saving him.

On the other, there is James Forte, the rich guy who oozes sleaziness. We learn that he left his business partner to rot in prison and stole his wife, sealing the deal. For all the hatred the audience is supposed to have towards him, he really doesn't have the cunning of a top-class criminal and Jesse, Michael, and Fi take him down with few hitches.

Burn Notice works best when there are colorful personalities, whether it's the villains or one of Michael's personas. "Eye For an Eye" has two good villains and a psycho character from Michael, combining to make an entertaining episode.

Score: 8.9/10

Review - The X-Files Season 4 Episode 15 Kaddish / 16 Unrequited


"Kaddish" is one of The X-Files's better attempts at an ethnic episode. Sure there are the staples--the requisite Holocaust speech from the Jew, the irrational Nazis, and yet another ethnic myth turning out to be true--but the episode doesn't have an overpowering message that threatens to become a cliche at every turn of the episode.

It also helps that the golem is actually pretty interesting. It was formed out of Ariel's dream that her fiance could come back, but the golem ultimately was not human despite its looks. Behind the procedural elements and ethnic touches is a deep love story which went terribly wrong but is righted in the end. It's an unsettling love story, though, as the golem is scary right up until the end of the episode.

Mark Snow proves himself to be awesome once again, incorporating Bach's "Little G minor Fugue" with the usual X-Files instruments during the first synagogue scene.

Score: 8.7/10


Neither "Kaddish" nor "Unrequited" are good episodes (especially following the potent duo of "Never Again" and "Memento Mori"), but the message of "Unrequited" jives so well with the theme of the show and is so striking at times that the episode could have been a great one. Unfortunately, the paranormal aspect of the episode and the plot sink it to a pretty low level.

The idea behind this episode is that there is a former Vietnam POW, presumed to be dead, killing generals who are covering up the fact that there are still POWs in Vietnam or Laos. That the government would stop looking for the POWs and even cover up the story is surely a heinous crime and it resonates with every viewer. This especially means a lot to Skinner who, as we recall, was in the war himself and had some memorable experiences. Mulder learns from Marita that the government is actually setting up Skinner to fail, because they want Teager to carry out the mission and kill those generals so they can't reveal the information.

This is truly some terrible shit that's going on and it's hard not to feel horrified if the stories were actually true. (In all honesty, the POW/MIA stories sound far more credible than alien stories.) It fits nicely with the alien conspiracy--the masked men who stop at nothing to hide their faces and carry out orders from behind the veil, and the parting shot of the flag sums it up well. Teager disappearing is a cool way to show symbolically what happened to him in the eyes of the government and, in turn, the public). He's there, but not really.

Now, the conspiracy and thematic aspect are great, but there's supposed to be more to an episode. The rest is a train wreck, convoluted and disorganized. The whole disappearing ability is hardly explained, but I think it has something to do with Teager affecting people's field of vision so he can hide in their blind spot to kill them. Even then, it's not explained how he does this. And how did he learn to do this? Mulder speculates that the North Vietnamese taught him the technique, which doesn't make much sense. It also doesn't help that the episode moves blindingly slow and, aside from several random detours into militia territory, is very straightforward.

Score: 8.3/10

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review - Alphas Season 1 Episode 6 Bill And Gary's Excellent Adventure

Until this episode, Alphas only had Alpha-related cases. "Bill And Gary's Excellent Adventure" has no hint of an alpha doing something bad and instead is about a fairly run-of-the-mill kidnapping and ransom. It makes sense that there would be an episode that resolves Bill's ties to the non-alpha law enforcement establishment. Bill, with Gary in tow, solves the case and gets an offer to be reinstated into the FBI, something he's pushed for and brought up many times, but he declines the offer and stays with the team. The team is clicking and Bill has people around him with similar problems. This is what Dr. Rosen wanted all along and Bill has legitimate reasons to stay.

The other plot development was Nina and Hicks almost hooking up. They don't follow through because Nina interrupts, but it was clear where they were going. One of the big things we learn is that Nina killed her ex-boyfriend by pushing him to kill himself. While the writers make it perfectly clear that the boyfriend was no good person (though I thought the bit at the end about the financial scam was a bit much), Nina is scared of what her powers can do coupled with her emotions. It's a deadly combination and she doesn't want to repeat mistakes of the past.

I know some people may hate him, but Gary is my favorite character. Although his behavior may be annoying at times, the writers give him so many funny throwaway lines that I think he's great, and Bill plays off of him nicely.

Next week, Summer Glau! Cue the collective nerdgasm.

Score: 8.9/10

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 3 Episode 6 Don't Hate the Player

Video games is just one of those things that television writers can't seem to get a hold of. They seem to be stuck in the video game paradigm from 20-30 years ago when earning points, high scores, funky sound effects, and dreams of virtual reality were the norm. Little do they know that games, especially RPGs, have progressed far beyond that point in terms of plot, characters, dialogue, and game play. I guess this is just one of those things that writers are behind on, like when they throw in references to Twitter years after it's become popular. OK, gripe finished.

"Don't Hate the Player" is definitely one of the coolest episodes of the entire series, with an entire virtual world for the characters to explore. The attention to detail is simply stunning, and the writers made full use of the video game setting. We see Artie, Leena, and Claudia virtualized into their own unique characters, as well as the characters who enter into the game. The plot and artifact weren't important, but it didn't matter since most viewers were probably thinking how fucking awesome everything looked and how the episode was.

The B plot, consisting of Artie and Steve meeting Agent Sikowski, was mostly filler and was very straightforward. There's a painting that causes people to die, so Artie and Steve try to replace it which they do. The plot did have a greater implication for future episodes, however, as Sikowski again managed to fool everyone. She embeds bugs into the painting which go loose throughout the Warehouse. I'm beginning to wonder whether Steve may be helping her. He seems innocent enough, but his amazing truth-telling abilities fail only when it comes to Sikowski. Either she's supremely good at lying, has an artifact that helps her lie, or Jinx is in on the scheme.

Score: 9.3/10

Loved the usage of the music from the classic Star Trek fight scene from "Amok Time."

Review - Leverage Season 3 Episode 7 The Grave Danger Job / 8 The Boiler Room Job

The two episodes of Leverage last night weren't connected, but they each had good plots. The first episode focused on Hardison and Parker, a likable duo whose relationship continues to move slowly. It has its share of twists, as Hardison is sealed in a coffin and the team gets mixed up with a drug cartel before they fix the problem. The second episode has focus on another duo as well, Sophie and Nate, who remain in their friends with benefits state. The writers aren't doing a great job with any of these relationships, but it doesn't matter when the team is pulling off a cool con on top of everything else.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Breaking Bad Season 4 Episode 5 Shotgun

Walt, Walt, Walt, Walt, Walt, Walt, Walt. Walt... No, I'm not Michael from Lost, but I am infuriated by Walt. Look at the situation he's in. Skyler wants him to move back in, Jesse is back on track, and most importantly, Hank thinks Gale is Heisenberg. What better situation could there be for Walt? Everything was as close to normal as it could be for a meth cooker. But Walt, partially influenced by alcohol, has to talk. No, he tells Hank, Gale is no genius--he is like a student, copying only without reasoning. Perhaps Heisenberg is still out there.

This is stunning stuff, because Walt took the crosshairs away from a dead body and put it closer towards himself, but this really isn't that unexpected. Walt is defined by his hubris and resulting self-destruction. It boils within him, and when Hank suggests it is Gale who is the genius, he just has to say something. It's happened before and it'll happen again. That's Walt, the guy who believes he deserves something from everyone. Well, Walt gets what he deserves--Hank back on the hunt and led to Los Pollos Hermanos.

It's fitting that Leverage aired alongside Breaking Bad tonight, because Gus's scheme to prop up Jesse's self-esteem seemed like a con Nathan Ford and his crew would do. We learn fairly quickly that Mike is not killing Jesse or even taking him out to the desert to teach him a lessen. Instead, is a cleverly orchestrated plot by Gus to get Jesse on the right side of the fence. They go around picking up cash until a guy with a shotgun walks up behind the car. Jesse saves the day and the rest is history. Little does he know that Gus was behind all of this. It seems like Gus wants to complete transform Jesse and possibly use him against Walt. In the case that this does happen, it'll suck for Walt, because we see that he really does care what happens to Jesse, so much so that he was willing to pull a gun on Gus.

After all the recent news that AMC was having trouble negotiating with Sony, Breaking Bad was renewed for a final 16 episode order. That leaves 24 episode left total, which seems like an adequate number to finish things off. The noose continues to tighten around Walt (perhaps self-induced), and the end will have to come some day.

Score: 9.2/10

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review - True Blood Season 4 Episode 8 Spellbound

In comparison to the previous season, season four is shaping up quite nicely. There is a clear main conflict between vampires and witches, and the rest of the plots are related in some way, or have some interesting supernatural thing at work (as in the case of Lafayette). With four episodes left in the season, there seems to be a lot left to be resolved.

The coolest part of the episode, of course, was the battle at the end of the episode. True Blood doesn't have the budget for blockbuster special effects, but the final scene had a frenzy that was exciting nonetheless. Let's recap what happened. Bill offers Antonia a deal, but she refuses and then the shit storm starts. Bill saves Tara from Pam, Sookie gets shot but Alcide saves her, Debbie sees what Alcide did despite him explicitly saying he wouldn't get involved with the vampires and witches, and finally Antonia puts a spell on Eric. Damn, that's a lot of plots colliding. Lafayette, possessed by the ghost, could have strolled in, baby in hand, and fit in perfectly.

Also impressive was the way the writers handled Jessica's plot. There's no waffling this time, as Hoyt throws her out of the house and then Jason does the same. It's a mighty turnaround for Jessica who had both Hoyt and Jason but know can't even enter their houses, and we can see how detrimental all this is to her.

I don't really want to comment on the next thing, but the dialogue for Sookie and Eric was so melodramatic and sappy that I want to believe that the writers had a contest to see who could come up with the cheesiest line. Yeah, I don't have much more to say about it.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The X-Files Season 4 Episode 13 Never Again / Memento Mori

"Never Again"

The course of The X-Files through the first four seasons is fairly consistent. There are the MOTW episodes, the mythology episodes, which all have a familiar feeling. Mulder and Scully--together--discover the supernatural on their quest to find the truth. There is the occasional episode from Darin Morgan, criticizing certain parts of the show, but always in a fun way. Even an episode like "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" doesn't seem too out there, considering is it Frohike narrating a story. "Home," while utterly shocking and the most controversial episode, is nothing more than a MOTW with more grotesqueness than usual.

But then "Never Again" pops up. Although it has the trappings of a standard MOTW episode, the episode, written by Glen Morgan and James Wong before leaving to helm Millenniun, has complex and off-beat themes never tackled before. It's different, very different, and always leaves me uneasy at the end. It challenges the fundamental core of the show and the salient points made by Morgan and Wong in the episode are almost unassailable, even after all nine seasons have aired.

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around all the points I want to make, so I'll make this easier for myself and readers by putting them in list format.

1. Mulder and Scully--especially Scully--have had a distinct asexuality so that the sexual theme of the episode was extra-shocking.

Mulder has had hookups here and there, but Scully hasn't been getting any, at least not what we've seen. Scully going out, finding Ed Jerse, getting a tattoo, and potentially sleeping with Jerse (as good as the episode is, Chris Carter really undercut it by taking out sex scene, not to mention that both Scully and Jerse are clothed the morning after) is all very foreign. This is not a side of Scully we've seen before and I can understand why people would be miffed by this episode.

2. While Mulder may be a dick at times, Morgan and Wong magnification of his faults goes a tad too far.

Take the final lines of the episode. Scully says, "Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life," to which Mulder replies, "Yes, but it's--" and Scully gives him the look. From what I can hear, it sounds like the next word started with an 'm,' which would open up the line, "Yes, but it's mine too," as if Mulder thinks Scully's life is his. Would he really say something like that? Really? The ending silence is a fine way to end the episode, but Mulder's dickish behavior throughout the episode didn't seem very natural.

3. That being said, Morgan and Wong certainly have something worth talking about: Mulder and Scully may not be the wonderful duo people want them to be.

It's disturbing to see what's going on in his episode. Mulder is once again droning on about the alien conspiracy, with some random yahoo no less, while Scully obviously doesn't care. Yet, Mulder continues to push her, calling her a every moment, to make sure she's doing her job properly. When Scully returns to the office, Mulder doesn't seem to care about her. All this stuff is vaguely familiar, as Mulder often abandons her at key moments to do his own thing. We can easily see why Scully would be angry enough to lash out and go do her own thing. Alas, this episode was more of a one-shot, and the team is back to being the same in the next episodes.

4. The episode was aired out of order so "Leonard Betts" would be after the Super Bowl, and Scully's motivation for her actions may have been obscured.

This is very problematic for those who don't do extra research on episodes. At face value, after watching "Never Again" after "Leonard Betts," one would think it is an external cause--cancer--for Scully's behavior, versus the internal cause--something rebellious lurking under a pristine surface.

5. Props to Jodie Foster and Rob Bowman.

In light of the plot of the episode, Foster's voiceover of Betty and Bowman's direction sometimes gets overlooked, but I have a feeling that they would be the talk of the episode had Scully not been the center of the episode.

Score: 9.2/10

"Memento Mori"

Compared to the episode before it, "Memento Mori" is an episode everyone can get behind. It basically has everything you could ask for--small answers to mythology questions, lots of emotional content, action thrills, awesome acting by Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, the Lone Gunmen, Mark Snow at his best--packed into a neat episode. The one thing people don't seem to like are the voiceovers throughout the episode, though I like how they set the tone for the episode. (Yes, I know the voiceover dialogue is far too poetic for the characters to be saying, but Chris Carter needs an outlet for his poetry!)

One of the major problems of the latest mythology episodes is the inability to answer questions while bringing up 50 more. "Memento Mori" reverses this trend by answering some questions, namely over the clones. They are alien-human hybrids and are trying to stop the project that led to their birth by saving their birth mothers. Mulder learns that all the women who were abducted, included Scully, are infertile because their ova were taken out. While these answers barely scratch the surface, we have a better idea of what's going on without too many more questions.

Scully's struggle with cancer makes up the bulk of the episode, which Gillian Anderson deservedly won her Emmy for. She comes to grips with her condition, acknowledging that she will likely die soon, but gets treatment along with Penny Northern. It's all moving stuff, and the conclusion even more so. After treatment by a doctor who was likely a villain, after Penny Northern dies, Scully returns to her work, the thing that has carried her all these years. It coincides with Mulder's journey, infiltrating the government facility with the Lone Gunmen to find the answers.

This intersection by the end of the episode--Scully deciding to go back to work and Mulder returning to the hospital with more answers than before--puts all the doubts of "Never Again" behind. They mean a lot to each other and will always work to find the truth and whatever is out there. While the turmoil of the episode reaches deep into both of them, there is always another to lean on. The cancer is still there, but the partnership is as solid as ever and that's what matters.

Score: 9.8/10

Friday, August 12, 2011

Review - Flashpoint Season 4 Episode 6 A Day in the Life

Um... that was a random episode. I get the point the episode was trying to convey, that life for the SRU is busy, especially on Valentine's Day, but the episode was way too packed for its own good. The pacing of the episode is immediately different, as there are two smaller cases--resolved quickly by major reveals about Raf and Jules--before the main case, which ends with two people dead. There just isn't enough time to really absorb any of the plots and get the emotional resonance the writers so desire.

Score: 7.8/10

Review - Suits Season 1 Episode 8 Identity Crisis

Of all the characters on Suits, Louis the one that doesn't belong. He's not suave like Harvey, strong like Jessica, or even funny like Donna. Mostly, he's just abrasive. What we see in "Identity Crisis" is that this quality is hardly helpful. He bumbles along throughout the case, doing the opposite of what Harvey would do, and rightfully gets his ass handed to him. While he eventually steps in to get the critical information, Harvey's parting words to him strike deep. Louis believes Harvey would go behind his back to Jessica and take all the credit, because it's something he himself would do. It's not all sunny for these characters, a theme that continuous to come up on the show.

Mike's plot felt very incomplete this week. The setup is rather complex, with client needing Harvey to deal with his daughter, Lola, who has another identity. As it turns out, she's taking money from her father's company, has amazing hacking skills, and finds out that Mike didn't go to Harvard. This potentially dangerous situation suddenly dissipates without much happening. She helps Harvey with the embezzled money, gets Mike a Harvard diploma, and gets him into the database. With that all the major problems are resolved. For Suits, this seems far too easy.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Wilfred Season 1 Episode 8 Anger

Kristen is easily the most problematic character on the show and boy we she in full force. First off, why does she continue to ask Ryan for help? He's always a flake and screws up in one way or another, garnering scorn and angry comments each time. At the end of the episode, it is suggested that she goes to Ryan because she likes to yell at him and show how much better she is because her parents and Sneakers liked Ryan more. So basically she's a complete bitch who's been carrying problems from childhood? But these problems could be remedied if she were funny, as both Ryan and Wilfred have their unlikable traits balanced out by their funniness. Unfortunately, Kristen is hardly funny, always screeching and the like, so she's wholly unpleasant and unlikable.

Even if Kristen was annoying, the possession of Wilfred by Sneakers, Ryan's long-dead dog, pretty much made up for that. It's a little freaky, but stays true to the humor show. Things can go very bad during an episode, but everything is fine at the end of the episode--kind of.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Burn Notice Season 5 Episode 8 Hard Out

When Burn Notice tries to make the characters seem deeper than they really are, it's kind of silly to see what actually comes out. "Hard Out" tries to expand Fiona's character, but it only contradicts 4+ seasons of evidence that Fiona loves to shoot and blow things up--ostensibly hurting people. What the Miami plot tries to accomplish is to first have Michael's search for the bomber lead to lead her, somewhat unwillingly, to an ex who knows about bomb makers. He's a bad guy, you see, because he'll help her only if she helps him, and his deals often lead in people dying. The job seems innocuous enough, with only theft instead of killing, but he reveals that the theft actually resulted in a death. Fiona is disturbed, leading to the final scene in which things just aren't right.

While Fiona seemed rather emotional there are the end after learning that her actions led to someone's death, I gotta point out an obvious fact: Fiona loves guns, explosives, and using them whenever possible. Why does she suddenly care if someone, probably a shady figure himself, got killed because of what she did? The idea behind the plot--that Michael's quest pushes her to become someone she doesn't want to be--is a decent idea, but it's bizarre that she's shying away from violence now when we see her blowing things up and shooting on a weekly basis.

The A plot was different than the normal shootout, as Michael mind-gamed a large group of mercenaries into following his lead. It's not too exciting, but fun while it lasted.

Score: 8.4/10

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review - Damages Season 3 Episode 5 We'll Just Have to Find Another Way to Cut the Balls Off of This Thing

Halfway through the season, this season of Damages just doesn't interest me as much as the previous seasons did. The case against High Star seems cut and dry, and the antics to protect the company aren't that exciting either. High Star is conducting raids for the CIA and one of these missions left Chris Sanchez's team dead. Now, Erickson and Boorman are trying to cover their tails--Erickson getting the DoD to black out most information and Boorman by having Marwat jailed. Erickson and Boorman each have their backstories, but there's nothing polarizing about them, in comparison to the always-electric Frobisher.

More interesting is Patty turning towards religion in light that Katherine has a 1 in 36 chance of having leukemia. There's no one to sue, no one to berate on national television, no one to threaten. It's leukemia, and Patty isn't quite sure how to approach it.

Score: 8.5/10

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review - Royal Pains Season 3 Episode 7 Ta Da For

I haven't been reviewing Royal Pains lately (mostly due to laziness), but it's time to drop in. In spirit of the easy-to-watch summer show, this season has been what one would expect of the show. There are several plot threads, each moving without too much urgency but are worked on each week. The contrivances, expectedly, are in full-force, with Raj and his parents seeming more sociopathic than ever and Hank and Evan coming into conflict in every episode, but none them are gamebreakers.

The plot of "Ta Da For" has the usual medical stuff, which has become a purely rote exercise at this point, and a magician so the audience can be entertained by magic tricks. Compared to the bubbling joy of Libby last week, the magician fell a little short.

What I really want to comment on is the final conversation between Hank and Evan. Evan doesn't like that Hank doesn't take him seriously, that Hank rolls his eyes whenever Evan starts talking about his big plans. Yet, Evan seems to get things done on the business side. This is bothersome to me because Evan's success is only because the writers make him successful. In my eyes, Evan is a clown. His behavior, his attitude, his disposition all seem juvenile. Take, for example, his fixation on Matt Lauer. Not only does he go to the pool and the store to find Matt, he treats it all very lightly, as if what he's doing is neither a serious business venture nor a somewhat creepy action.

But the writers make it so that Evan is awesome and succeeds a lot--when the more obvious answer would be that Evan succeeds only because of repeated attempts, not any personal trait other than perseverance. Basically, Evan's business plan is to hand everyone a card or DVD, talk to everyone possible, and have a thin skin when he's rejected. That's what I see when Evan at work, not a savvy businessman who makes efficient use of his time.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - The X-Files Season 4 Episode 11 El Mundo Gira / 12 Leonard Betts

"El Mundo Gira"

Oh boy, another "ethnic" X-Files episode. I actually think "El Mundo Gira" has plenty of potential, but it's largely a mess with conflicting themes and tones. The title of the episode, translated into English, is "The World Turns," implying that the episode is an X-File set in a Mexican soap opera. These parts generally work, as the crying, yelling, and feuding brothers seem like what you'd find on a soap opera. Even Mulder and Scully seem to recognize what they've stepped into.

This self-recognition would indicate that the episode isn't supposed to be too serious, but the episode, inexplicably, attempts to have some social commentary which is a serious issue. There's an INS agent who seems to be the bad guy and there is a connection made between illegal aliens and actual aliens. Unfortunately, it's all heavy-handed and not thoughtful at all. The episode ends with the general idea that no one cares what happened to the brothers, but it's just a statement with little reasoning why no one would care. Surely two brothers causing people to have these terrible fungal growths should be found.

Score: 7.4/10

"Leonard Betts"
Taken alone, "Leonard Betts" would be a top-notch MOTW episode, filled with the scares, images, and scenery reminiscent of episodes like the "The Host," which features the infamous Flukeman. But this episode is also crucial to the forthcoming arc of the series--my personal favorite--and its final minutes are unforgettable.

Leonard Betts is one of the freakiest monster on the show, and he probably had a huge impact on the millions who watched the episode after the Super Bowl. His powers--the ability to regenerate his entire body--are both grotesque and almost unimaginable. He's literally made of cancer, which allows him to form new body parts and a new body when he wants. The scenes of him shedding is body, or rising out of the bath are great spectacles. The downside of his ability is that he needs to chow down on cancer cells, cut out of cancer patients from what we see. Altogether, he's one freaky dude.

Unlike Flukeman, who was largely a creature which had no sentience, Leonard Betts seems quite human--perhaps even more evolved than humans, Mulder suggests. He acts regretful when he attacks people, knowing it is is biological need which drives his actions. It is this consciousness about his actions that makes him someone to sympathize. Despite his inhuman ability and the frightening scenes, he seems all too human for us to be comfortable with.

Then the final revelation hits: Leonard needs something from Scully. Just like that, we learn Scully has cancer, and Scully's actions in the episode's dying minutes all but confirm this. While Scully doesn't do anything about her cancer immediately, even opting not to tell Mulder, Gillian Anderson shows us how good she is in those quiet moments, reflecting on herself and her condition. This is a precursor to the next arc in which Gillian Anderson delivers a monumental performance, in my opinion the finest of the series.

Score: 9.2/10

Review - Covert Affairs Season 2 Episode 10 World Leader Pretend

"World Leader Pretend" is the summer finale, and if there is one thing that's clear, it's that the writers are struggling to juggle the characters outside of Annie and Auggie. The main plot could easily stand on its own and it's quite good, considering the general staleness of the plots this season. While Annie attempts to open up to her sister about her real profession, she gets a Chinese scientist into US custody, only to find out that his friend betrayed him. It doesn't exactly parallel Annie's situation, but it highlights the precariousness of the profession and the danger of trusting people.

Then there's everything else in the episode. Annie's generic, boring boyfriend we know little about. Well, he's gone. Jai's upset about his role yet again and Joan ships him off. Arthur puts a random State Department tool in his place. All these things barely factor into the plot for starters, and they aren't interesting either. But the scenes keep coming and detract from what actually matters, and they leave me scratching my head every time. Hopefully the writers can get it together when the show returns.

Score: 8.4/10

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review - White Collar Season 3 Episode 10 Countdown

After stealing all the art from the U-Boat, Neal, on several occasions, has had to break in, steal, and deceive right in front of the FBI. With Mozzie's help, he pulled off the jobs without a hitch and it's gotten him pretty far. "Countdown" is possibly the hardest test yet, as Neal must deceive Melissa and replace the stolen forgery with a fake, all with Peter right in front of him. It's expected that Neal would succeed on all counts, but the way he pulls it off has the flare that makes the show so fun.

Despite my disappointment with Keller surviving last week's episode, his decision to kidnap Elizabeth is a great twist that puts even more stress on Neal and Peter's relationship. Keller knows of Neal's treasure, which Neal has desperately tried to keep hidden, and wants Peter's help. Now, if Neal wants to maintain his relationship with Peter, he'll either have to tell the truth or come up with another elaborate lie. In any case, the deception that began at the end of the second season is still as compelling as ever.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - The Closer Season 7 Episode 5 Forgive Us Our Trespasses

The last season of The Closer is moving ahead with great vigor, as the legal system crashes down on top of Brenda and leaves her in tears at the end of the episode. The case--a son killing his hypocritical transvestite father--has direct relevance on Brenda's mindset. She empathizes with her son, seeing that he may have had a fine reason for killing his father. But the law must be upheld and she has him arrested. And so too must the law be upheld in Brenda's case, and her belief that she did no wrong is crumbling, especially with the visit to the location last week with Raydor.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Alphas Season 1 Episode 5 Never Let Me Go

Compared to the previous episodes of Alphas, "Never Let Me Go" had nothing that stuck out to me. Rachel could be an interesting character, but she's just not enough in an episode which had a sub-par plot. It's an open and shut case of an alpha gone bad, and the team has to clean it up.

Like Gary in the previous episode, Rachel makes a connection to the alpha, but unlike Gary, it's hard to see how her powers play into the episode other than making her more susceptible. In the climax of the episode, she is taken out of commission and it is up to her teammates to save her. And the best she gets is Dr. Rosen telling her that he's a father to her. Boy, we didn't know that!

This is the second time there is an alpha who affects people's internal chemistries, and it's not that exciting to be honest. Besides the initial shock of zombie-like people die, the whole bit about falling in love we people and then pushing them away was both tame and boring. At least the first time an alpha did something similar, it sent people into a frenzy.

Score: 8.3/10

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 3 Episode 5 3...2...1

Pete's reaction to H.G. through most of "3...2...1" reflected my view of her and how the writers ultimately decided to portray her in the season finale. For most of the second season, H.G. was perfectly fine and a likable character, but the writers decided to make her batshit crazy and out to destroy the world. This was utterly baffling and was, quite frankly, a stupid way to create drama, manufacturing drama and action from a situation which showed little signs of anything wrong.

I'm not sure if "3...2...1" truly redeems H.G., considering just how illogical and devious she was, but it at least made me feel sorry for her. We see her in her heyday, when she an inventor, expert Warehouse agent, and master storyteller--all contrasting with the bronzed H.G. we see at the end of the episode. She truly has fallen from grace and her words in the episode indicate remorse. Taking that on face value, it seems like H.G. isn't totally crazy. But then again, the writers could also make it so that she's fooling everyone again.

The episode cleverly ties together three timelines with all the agents tracking down Joshua's horn. We get to see Jack and Rebecca again and see them agree to have a full-blown relationship. H.G.'s plot,  set in late 19th century London, was the highlight of the episode, giving us her background and showing us how awesome she was. Syfy announced a spin-off some months ago revolving around H.G. and if this episode is indeed a precursor to that, or even a backdoor pilot, then I'm definitely in--as long as the writers avoid the part about her being crazed and wanting to use the trident.

Score: 9.0/10

Review - The X-Files Season 4 Episode 9 Terma / 10 Paper Hearts


I've watched "Terma" about five times in total and still have little clue what the hell is going on. Watching the episode is an uncomfortable experience, as the episode jumps from scene to scene, from plot to plot, without any coherence. I kept wondering whether I had missed a scene or two, or had forgotten something from a previous episode, so I went back and started rewatching scenes. But it was all there, and rewatching the scenes, attempting to glean more information from the dialogue, only confirmed hat I already knew: The mythology of The X-Files is a mess and the writing behind it is also a mess. It's all very frustrating, because there are good ideas buried deep in the episode, but Chris Carter just didn't focus on anything.

The generalities of the episode are very clear, but the details, which people seem to be discussing throughout the episode, are vague at best. More unsettling is the lack of continuity from the previous set of mytharc episodes. Where are the aliens, exactly? Why are there all this new plots?

I'll try to break the plot down to the best of my ability, though I'm sure I'll fall sort. The Russians are developing their own cure for black oil--what they call black cancer--and send an agent to kill a doctor in the United States, affiliated with the Syndicate, who is also working on a cure and apparently experimenting at a nursing home. There's stuff about the Cold War still going on, arms getting chopped off, and Mulder magically appearing in front of Congress, which makes for a crowded episode with more questions and no answers. The rock is burned at the oil refinery, once again leaving behind no physical evidence for Mulder's beliefs. Behind the scenes, CSM and Well-Manicured Man seem to be at odds, but the dialogue explains their feelings, not what's going on.

As an individual episode, "Terma" isn't that bad. The dark, uneasy atmosphere is the same as in the other conspiracy actions, and the action scenes are nice. In the larger picture, however, the episode only serves to muddle an already muddle story. It leaves behind far more questions than answers, and forces us to plod forward into the unknown, hoping there may be answers one day.

Score: 8.0/10

"Paper Hearts"

An apt counterpart to "Paper Hearts" is the earlier episode "The Field Where I Died," in my opinion, a failed episode. Both have similar goals in that they are Mulder-centric and pack an emotional punch. The difference, though, is that it is abundantly clear in "Paper Hearts" why the issue is so important to Mulder, whereas   "The Field Where I Died" floats the nebulous idea of past lives in order to make it seem relevant.

If we remember all the way back to the pilot, Mulder's motivation for the X-Files is his sister. He has believed all these years that his sister was abducted by aliens. It is this belief that fueled him through all those mythology episodes, what dragged Scully into his big mess. When Mulder realizes that it may have been Roche who abducted his sister, this is a highly significant moment, bolstered by Mulder's volatile reaction. This is serious business, fundamental to the core of The X-Files.

Central to the episode is David Duchovny who displays the single-minded conviction we know Mulder has. The reveal that Roche probably wasn't involved is one of the most powerful scenes of the entire series, Mulder confronting Roche over the fact that they are in the wrong house. After all the pressure Roche put on Mulder, it is release as Mulder unloads on him, affirming his central belief that Roche is a liar.

Even if Roche is liar, episode places a nugget of doubt in the audience and Mulder's minds. I mean, Roche could have forgotten the location of the house, instead remembering the details of the girls he fixated on. With the emotional gravity, "Paper Hearts" works as well as any standalone episode of the show, even if there is no progress by the end of the episode.

Score: 9.3/10

Review - Falling Skies Season 1 Episode 9 Mutiny / 10 Eight Hours

The first season of Falling Skies is now over, and I don't want to say much about it. Whenever there is an "intense" scene, a silly line of dialogue will come out and I'm left giggling while the characters are somber. And then there's the sappy Spielberg dialogue which is excruciating to listen to. Maybe the dialogue wouldn't sound so cheesy if the actors, particularly the kids, were better, but it's doubtful.

The problem with the show's plot can be seen all over "Mutiny," essentially a filler episode which, for whatever reason, was aired as the first part of a two-parter. Everyone thinks Weaver has gone haywire, hallucinating due to pill popping. They confront him and talk him down with about 10 lines of hilariously bad dialogue, capped off by Jimmy's puppy dog eyes. Don't let Jimmy down, Weaver!! And, oh yeah, Weaver stopped popping pills.

Score: 7.5/10

Review - Breaking Bad Season 4 Episode 4 Bullet Points

"Bullet Points" is an odd episode, split almost perfectly in half between Walt's family and Walt's work, with a perfectly logically reason for the transition. There is great turmoil in both parts, and at the center of it is Walt, who realizes he may be in too deep a hole to dig out of.

The episode begins with a lengthy conversation between Skyler and Walt, discussing how to explain Walt's gambling habit which provided the money for the car wash. It's mostly used for humor, as Skyler's script and Walt's reactions are rife with the funny charms Breaking Bad has. We've seen Walt plan before, but definitely not like that.

There is a kernel of impending doom, however, with Walt agreeing follow the script after Skyler's long-winded explanations. He realizes that he has to look like the Walter White everyone has always known, the meek, docile Walt who should be apologetic and ashamed. He can't take pride in what he does, not in front of Marie and Hank, nor with Skyler, who Walt needs to keep calm. Walt is back where he's always been, hiding the truth from everyone, except this time there are different lies for different people. Interestingly, the only person he can talk to is Saul, who functions both as a problem-solver and someone to get things off the chest.

For Skyler, it isn't easy either, though the humor of the way she went about planning the lie did take the edge off. She makes some good points when Walt tries to counter her, and we can sympathize with her predicament. She notes that unlike Walt she isn't as practiced at lying, defending her over-preparation and cutting at Walt a little. When Walt says that he doesn't want Walt Jr. to think any less of him, Skyler reminds him that her reputation has already suffered greatly, and Anna Gunn really brings out the hurt in Skyler.

Up until this point, the nothing much has happened in the episode yet, about a third of the way through. But Walt talks to Hank and wheels start moving. Hank shows them a DVD--a silly music video featuring Gale that leaves Walt Jr. and Hank laughing but Walt mortified. Later, Walt weasels his way into the investigation, offering to listen to Hank, and ends up reading Gale's notebook, which is filled with the whimsy that makes his death feel worse. Walt deftly knocks away the WW reference, and manages to gain lots of useful information, despite the precariousness of the situation. With Hank investigating and Walt leeching information, Walt is walking on a tightrope and one slip-up could mean the end.

The central plot point of the second half of the episode is whether anything will happen to Jesse. Walt and Saul both know who is first to go, if someone has to be killed, the surveillance camera is constantly following him, and Mike shows up to warn him and kick everyone out of the house. The thing is, Jesse doesn't give a fuck and lets everyone know. People come and go, someone even steals his cash, but nothing, not even Walt, can snap him out of it. Now, Mike is driving Jesse somewhere, possibly to be killed, and he still doesn't care. Breaking Bad has not killed a main character yet, after three seasons and countless close encounters. Is this the time it happens? All the pieces sure seem in place.

Another ongoing plot is the cartel moving in on Gus. The cold open is a scintillating scene in which cartel goons shoot up a Los Pollos Hermanos truck with Mike inside. Mike doesn't die and he sends a clear message to the cartel, killing the two with ease. He isn't unscathed, however, as we see his ear later in the episode. Things are messy now and it only gets downhill from here.

Score: 9.3/10

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review - True Blood Season 4 Episode 7 Cold Grey Light of Dawn

"Cold Grey Light of Dawn" marks the beginning of the second half of the season, and it's a pretty eventful episode. Setting aside the mountain of plot holes, Antonia coming back to kill vampires is exciting, and she actually casts the spell by the end of the episode. Of course, Jessica won't actually die, but the final scene, with Jessica clawing her way out as Bill yells at her, was spectacular.

Crucial to the episode is how Antonia's spell is used as the instigator for deeper looks at the characters--and pleasure for Ginger atop Pam's coffin. Bill decides to order all vampires out of the state and those who remain to chain themselves in silver. It's a painful experience for everyone, but the alternative would be getting dragged into the sun and burnt to a crisp. In the pain, there are some key character moments--between Bill and Jessica, and Eric and Sookie. The Eric and Sookie stuff is the sappy love dialogue we've seen, ending with Eric saying that he doesn't want his memories. After a fun start to Eric losing his memories, I'm getting tired of the constant melodrama.

Bill and Jessica's conversation, on the other hand, is the sort of thing that I wished there was more of. Their relationship is platonic (one of the few on the show), but there is a warmth to it that isn't seen in almost all relationships on the show. On the eve of potential death, Jessica expresses her thoughts to Bill about her condition and of Bill himself, assuring him that he did good by making her.

What was problematic about the episode was the morality behind the coven's actions. At the beginning, True Blood had this message that vampires weren't monsters and should be treated equally. As we've seen through the seasons, however, they can be vicious, dangerous, and vengeful--perhaps more than humans in comparison. Clearly, Tara and Antonia both have legitimate points to make about vampires and the vampire culture which ignored or even encouraged abuses.

But if we are to follow the "big bad" pattern of the show, Antonia would indeed be the big bad, the person everyone gangs up against in the final episode. To me, she seems on par with the vampires. She's angry and wants revenge, not unlike Pam earlier in the episode. The troubling aspect is that she's going after all vampires in the state, and everyone else there seems fine with it, knowing there are innocent vampires they will kill.

The episode didn't spend too much time on the other plots, which was a plus, but, as expected, they were disposable. Sam figures out what Tommy did and throws him out. Please, please, please, please, please make this the end of Tommy. Please? More Alcide and Debbie drama. Lafayette sees the woman that the baby saw last week. And... ?

Score: 8.7/10

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review - Flashpoint Season 4 Episode 5 The Better Man

Outside of Ed, the characters on Flashpoint have not been developed to the point where the audience really cares about them as individuals. We simply haven't seen enough of them outside of work to get a deeper connection with them. (Before anyone comments, yes I remember all about Wordy's wife, Greg's son, etc.) So, when Wordy departed, I didn't mind that much insofar as the character Wordy is involved. What makes the last  scene work is what has always made the show work--the team.

While Wordy may never have gotten a prominent role other than a few choice episodes, he's always been there, rock-solid, to support the team and do his job. The team relied on him and he always delivered. But now, he admits that he has Parkinson's and can no longer trust himself to perform his duties. Wordy is not only leaving a team, but also a family, and it's clear that the characters care about him more than as a colleague. This emphasis on the team as a whole and not on Wordy emphasizes the strengths of the show, and minimizes potential pitfalls to the episode, such as trying to fill in tons of Wordy backstory before the end.

The case this week features a bone-headed detective who botches a massive drug operation by informing his girlfriend--also the girlfriend of the boss--of the raid and she's caught trying to escape. Although I spent the episode annoyed at how irrational he was acting, there wasn't entirely a happy ending as the girlfriend is shot. The writers have to do this once in a while just to keep things honest. If no one ever dies, then they're cheating the audience by continually dangling out dangerous situations when there actually is no danger. Well, an (relatively) innocent person got killed this week and we're reminded that people do get hurt on this show.

Score: 8.7/10

Review - Suits Season 1 Episode 7 Play the Man

At some point, my surprise at the depth of Suits will end, but for now I remain thoroughly surprised at how much the writers reach for more, beyond the usual tales of the court. "Play the Man" ends with an unexpected sentiment, that Mike may, in fact, be very different than Harvey. There is a dark side to the law, an almost dehumanizing factor, which Mike is reluctant to embrace. He likes people and he wants others to like him, even if it means losing a mock trial. And at the end of the episode, he has Jenny and Rachel is back on his side. On the other hand, Harvey may win cases, he may make great deals, but who does he have? Not Scotty, who returns home to get married.

Score: 8.8/10

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Review - Wilfred Season 1 Episode 7 Pride

After the episode at the doggy daycare where Wilfred had to endure horrible things, the heavily sexual nature of "Pride" wasn't all too shocking and there are funny lines at every turn of the episode. What felt lacking about the episode, however, was the plot, which isn't a big deal since Wilfred isn't the kind of show that relies on plot. In contrast to previous episodes which had a sense of give and take between Ryan and Wilfred, this episode felt somewhat empty, as both embarked on their sexual quests and Wilfred just prodded Ryan forward the entire time.

Score: 8.5/10

Review - Burn Notice Season 5 Episode 7 Besieged

I can usually sympathize with all sorts of television characters--bad guys, shooters, etc--when the writers go down that route, but the father in "Besieged" was just too stupid. He takes away his son against the custody agreement, bringing him to a militia compound full of armed men. The guy is charge is played by W. Earl Brown, a perfectly good actor, who doesn't get a chance to really show the audience what makes the militia and the compound so great. Is it his generic anti-government message and messiah complex? His beer belly? Not being in the military? By ignoring these factors, which are in fact used to paint him as a bad guy, his followers, including the father, look like complete morons. The final scene when Michael talks him down is nice, but I couldn't help think how he was such a dimwit who could have prevented a lot of grief by making a very, very, very reasonable choice by not going to the compound.

The positive thing that came out of this is that militias have guns, and more importantly, automatic weapons. That means lots of bullets and shooting! There aren't any car chases in the episode, but the shooting in the episode ranked near the top of the season, if not the top. It was disappointing, though, when there wasn't a final shootout with Zechariah returning to the compound and Michael battling his way out.

As for the ongoing investigation in Max's death, it was a real snoozer. The writers do what they've always done, ending an episode on a cliffhanger which turns out to be nothing. Michael's impersonator turns out to be a guy who needs work and randomly takes jobs. So, all the progress made by the end of the episode is that his employer wants him dead. Great...

Score: 8.1/10

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review - Franklin & Bash Season 1 Episode 10 Go Tell It on the Mountain

I haven't been reviewing lately, but I've watched all the episodes and my thoughts are generally the same. The writers have a blatant disregard for decor and the legal system, which works well with the near-perfect pairing of Breckin Meyer and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. There is an aura of fantasy surrounding the show--as Franklin and Bash somehow win case after case with their courtroom antics, and Infield Daniels does his guru act--that makes the show a sight to see.

"Go Tell It on the Mountain" is the season finale (and the show was renewed for a second season) and as such, the writers attempt to raise the stakes as Infield is charged with murder. However, the case takes a more serious tone than usual, though there are still plenty of funny touches. Most importantly, the case lacks a sufficient twist, the essential ingredient that galvanized previous cases into a courtroom frenzy. Every time something new is brought up, Infield had a fairly reasonable explanation and everything is worked out at the end of the episode.

One thing was bothering me the entire episode. Everyone kept repeating that Infield had to kill his friend. But there seems to be have been many other alternatives: knock him up, pin him down, or call the rest of the group to help.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - Covert Affairs Season 2 Episode 9 Sad Professor

Danielle is one part of Covert Affairs which never fit. Her character is primarily used to be extra stress on Annie every once in a while, but nothing she's ever done is crucial. I reckon the show, and people's reaction to it, would largely be the same if Annie were living by herself and Danielle was never around. But Danielle is used effectively, as the theme of the episode was how CIA operatives deal with lying to their loved ones. Across all levels--with Annie, with the widow, and with Auggie--we get a good sense just how hard is for everyone involved.

On the other hands, Jai remains a useless character who definitely could have been excised from the show long ago. The stuff with Liza Hearn and his father was a start, but it went back to the norm this week, with Jai hooking up with a girl to copy her cell phone data. After one and a half seasons, the writers are still putting Jai into episodes and then giving him nothing or little to do. At least Danielle isn't in every episode. Still, the episode was very solid despite the hiccups, the episode ends with Annie debating whether to tell her sister truth!

Score: 8.7/10

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review - White Collar Season 3 Episode 9 On the Fence

There's something about recurring characters on the USA network that makes them not memorable.  Last week's Burn Notice episode had a slew of recurring, of which I only remembered one well, two vaguely, and had no clue about the last guy (apparently he was briefly in a first season episode, which then brings up the question why he was brought back). This week's White Collar episode brings back Matthew Keller, who's caused trouble in the past. While I somewhat remember the generalities of those episodes, there's not endearing imprint left on my brain about him. To me, he was just one of the many suited villains that gets busted week in and week out. When everyone started talking up him at the beginning of the episode, I just rolled with it, assuming he was actually a major badass worthy of fear.

This speaks to the format of White Collar--the necessity for all the villains to be in New York, be rich, and wear a suit. No matter how menacing one can be, there will be another and another and another, waiting to be busted by Peter and Neal. And no matter how villainous one can be, even one who can kidnap Peter, there is little residual effect, as it was business as usual the next week. Sure, Elizabeth is very worried and upset at the end of the episode, but that was only after we'd seen once again what Keller is capable of. There is little urgency before the episode to deal with Keller, cheapening his reappearance in the episode a great deal when the dialogue indicates he's a huge threat.

Aside from that, "On the Fence" is a damn good episode, taking the deceit that has been building since the season premiere and focusing it with only one episode left this summer. This recurring theme throughout the season strikes much harder than Keller's return for the simple reason because the viewers see it each week and the impact is amplified as the plot progresses.

Mozzie has always been the lovable character with a mistrust for the government. He was in illegal activity, but so was Neal, and he seemed like a good person. But we in these episodes, when everything is on the line, that Mozzie has no boundaries. He puts a $6 million hit on Keller to keep him quiet, crossing a line which makes he seem awfully different. And we know that the hit isn't entirely to keep Neal and Sara safe. Mozzie is definitely in it for the money and ready to part company with all the art.

Now that Mozzie has sold the Degas and Neal revealed that he has in fact stolen the list, this is perhaps the most precarious situation Neal has been in. With literally everything hanging in the balance--his relationship with Peter, his deal with the FBI, Sara, Mozzie--Neal no longer has the luxury of waiting. He must act and handle all his problems straight on.

Score: 8.8/10

Review - Alphas Season 1 Episode 4 Rosetta

Of all the characters on Alphas, the one who gets the most complaints is Gary (from what I've read online). They don't like his mannerisms, his occasional disregard for instructional, and think he's annoying. While these people are hardly a large part of the audience, it seemed very relevant since "Rosetta" has lots of Gary.

I would agree that Gary is unlike the other characters. He's more difficult than the other characters and can be annoying at times, but that is an essential part of the character--his behaviorisms that come with his condition. What his autism also brings is a sense of innocence and charm when he does his job. In "Rosetta," realizing that Anna is in charge of the Red Flag cell, Gary is broken from this. Both he and Rosen realize that Anna's message may have some credence, but that her methods are wrong. Indeed, Gary asserts himself at the end of the episode and we realize that Gary was helped, in part, by Anna, a potential killer.

Score: 8.7/10

Monday, August 1, 2011

Review - Warehouse 13 Season 3 Episode 4 Queen for a Day

I initially thought this new format of Warehouse 13 was positive, and I had a small explanation in my review of the second episode of this season. To summarize, the biggest problem I had with the show was that it would often turn into a procedural with an artifact at the center of it. By running two concurrent plots, one larger than the other, the show would avoid any of these problems since space wouldn't have to be filled and the plots wouldn't have to be needlessly complex.

I'm having second thoughts, however. What it seems to be now is that the writers are essentially splitting each episode into parts, where one of the plots can be lifted in its entirety and placed in another episode. There is such a strict divide between the two groups--Myka and Pete, and Claudia and Steve--that the writers seem to be taking it easy. Claudia and Steve go to the Civil War reenactment and find the artifact, without interacting with any other characters, while Pete and Myka go to Pete's ex-wife's wedding and find that artifact. The writers don't even try to have the characters interact with someone else in another group, and the isolation makes for a disconnected episode.

Despite this, "Queen for a Day" hits some nice notes, as we learn about Pete's past, connecting to his alcoholism, and and his ex-wife Amanda (played by Jeri Ryan, better known as Seven of Nine). The action in the episode was a cut above the rest and had the rambunctious fun that makes the show so enjoyable. As disconnected as the Civil War plot was, Allison Scagliotti has some hilarious scenes and we learn about Steve's deceased sister and how Claudia reminds him of her.

Score: 8.4/10

Review - Falling Skies Season 1 Episode 8 What Hides Beneath

The positive: We see the actual alien overlords! They're tall, humanoid, and are putting harnesses on skitters as well. That's interesting, isn't it?

The negative: I'm getting more bored of the show each week. The more the writers try to draw our attention towards the characters, the slower everything gets and the post-apocalyptic world seems just a bit less grave. We learn what happened to Weaver, see Karen again, and Pope figures out how to kill mechs. That's all small stuff that would probably work well if the episode had more substance, but again, nothing really happened. The good thing is that Weaver is itching for a fight.

Score: 8.0/10

Review - True Blood Season 4 Episode 6 I Wish I Was the Moon

As cliched as the love triangle between Sookie, Eric and Bill is, it's one of the only parts of True Blood that has even a hint of complexity. At the end of the episode, Bill lets Eric go free and Eric seals the deal with Sookie, while an out of place song plays over the scene. So we have Bill going easy on Eric, but also letting Eric have Sookie, all because Sookie asked him. At least this plot went somewhere, unlike the other plots in the episode.

After a week of the Sam and Tommy plot not being antagonistic, it reverted back to the the thing it's always been. Tommy turns into Sam, confirming Luna's story, and proceeds to be a dick. Great... Arlene's baby sees a black woman who quickly disappears and we're left wondering what's going on. Debbie wants to join the pack and reluctantly drags Alcide in. Jesus and Lafayette enter mystical world and Lafayette even gets possessed. Marnie gets possessed by Antonia and will probably escape and wreak havoc soon.  Jason freaks out in the woods, but Jessica finds him and comforts him. Tara and her girlfriend..... Yeah, there was lots of filler this week, setting up the rest of the season.

Score: 8.1/10

Review - Breaking Bad Season 4 Episode 3 Open House

Three episodes into the season, and aside from Gus killing in the premiere, there has been almost no violence or even any threats of violence, as opposed to the previous three seasons which had plenty of violence or potential violence in the opening episodes. What this indicates to me is that Vince Gilligan is once again trying something new.

While the plots of the previous seasons were largely moved by external elements--introduction to the drug world, Tuco, Cousins, Gus--this season is about how the characters deal with what has been built up over time. How do these characters internalize what has happened them and move forward? Since the beginning of the show, there have been many dramatic changes and little breathing room for the characters. Now, in a time of relative inaction, how do the characters respond? These are the questions the episodes ask, rather than questions about whether someone will be killed, how to better distribute drugs, or who the cartel is going after next. Some people may not like this direction--and I certainly like those tense, pressure cooker episodes--but I think it's going well so far.

Following this general line of thought, "Open House," surprisingly, is an episode centered around Marie, a character one usually wouldn't strongly associate with the show. The writers take parts of the show we've already seen--her kleptomania and Hank's rudeness--to give us a fairly compelling look at how she is dealing with everything. There's nothing new to the episode except how Marie works with what she already has, nothing new added. After Hank throws another fit (over Marie buying Fritos instead of Cheetos...), we see her going to open houses, conjuring well thought out stories of her fantasy lives--and stealing a token from each house. It's awful to see what she has to go through and the lengths that she must go to in order to deal with Hank. She enters her fantasy worlds where everything fine, and once she is discovered, it all crumbles.

Jesse's downward spiral continues and he still isn't showing signs of climbing out. His feeble attempt to get Walt to go go-karting fails (the image of Walt on a go-kart brings back unpleasant memories of that House episode last season) , and he's left riding by himself, unleashing a scream of fury. Meanwhile, the eternal party at Jesse's house takes a big turn, as it has gotten completely out of control. The tone, the atmosphere, the people are distinctly different than the party last week, and still, Jesse does nothing. As he throws his money away, the message becomes clearer: Jesse doesn't give a fuck.

The plot moved along a bit for both Skyler and Hank's plots. Skyler closes the deal with Bogdan to buy the car wash, using underhanded tactics of getting a fake inspector, while making a few stipulations about not hurting innocent people and not using violence. Of course, Walt also began the show believing he could stay clean, and we know how that turned out. Skyler is falling deeper and deeper in the the criminal world and there's really nothing to stop her or slow her down. Her ambition is driving her, and Walt continues to lie about the dangers. And Hank is given Gale's notebook, which piques his interests, putting Walt in the distant crosshairs.

"Open House" is not an exciting episode, but it has plenty of emotional depth with Marie, who is often in the background, and allows us to see more of how the characters are dealing with what they've been through. It's been a tough time for everyone and it'll only get harder as time passes.

Score: 8.9/10

  • I'm pretty sure some were miffed by the return of Marie's kleptomania, which was quite random in the first season, and I admit I was a little bothered at first, but the writers did a nice job integrating that into the plot as coping mechanism.
  • Skyler worries about Walt buying a $300 bottle of champagne, but what about the $800K for the car wash? Did the writers explain how they would buy the car wash without cash? It makes a big difference in the way we view Skyler. Either she's being bitchy to Walt, or she's has rational concerns.
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