‘Sweet Dreams’ at least passed the most fundamental test it was set by last week’s episode: would the shooting be mentioned at all? It was. (I had visions of a sort of Desperate Housewives-esque approach, never referring to it again.) Apart from some suspicious behaviour by Becky, its most obvious manifestation was Sam hiding in an Australian alter-ego every now and again, a joke which outstayed its welcome very, very quickly.
That aside, this was a bitty and unsatisfying episode at best, and actively annoying at worst. With only three episodes to go after this one, and with Regionals still to take place, I’m guessing that the point was to lay groundwork for the rest of the season, in which case it might well be that Rachel’s final audition for ‘Funny Face’ on Broadway, rather than a New Directions triumph, might be the big story in the season finale. Nothing else really took off: Finn and Puck as the oldest students at college was charmless, and the return of Roz Washington as the coach of the Cheerios really only served to remind us just how good Jane Lynch is.
The music was partly driven by the conceit that Marley wants the New Directions to try out the songs she’s been writing. Of those ‘You Have More Friends Than You Know’, originally written for the commendable It Gets Better project IRL, was at least passable if trite; ‘Outcasts’ was rubbish. (I haven’t carried out exhaustive research, but I haven’t yet been able to find out who actually wrote this one, which raises the disturbing possibility that it might actually have been written by someone on the Glee cast.) ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ was a pointless rehash of Glee history, with Rachel, mid-audition, being inspired by memories of the first episode; ‘Fight For Your Right To Party’ was OK, but missing its air of teenage rebellion. Which left – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – an Emeli Sandé song as the best of the week, with Lea Michele and Idina Menzel contributing a decent version of ‘Next To Me’.
Directed by Joe Dante, this episode was clearly intended to be one of the serious ones: Steve and Catherine are at the border of North and South Korea to pick up the remains of Freddie Hart, one of Steve’s SEAL buds, killed during an undercover operation in North Korea a few years ago. The body handed over, though, isn’t Freddie’s, so Steve (not for the first time) and Catherine head into North Korea to find the real thing. This is intercut with, in flashback, the story of Steve and Freddie’s mission.
As North Korea is, at the moment, perhaps the only country which can be portrayed as unequivocally villainous, this meant plenty of shooting, the overwhelming of almost impossible odds by heroic Americans, and lots of dead North Koreans in both timelines. With almost nothing for most of the regular cast to do, it was as lean and action-packed as anything we’ve seen from the Five-0 in a while. I was, however, left with an uncomfortable feeling that the episode was a showcase for the bravery and nobility of the American soldier: I’m not saying that they’re not brave and noble, but… y’know. Hooyah.
Entertaining as this episode was, I felt as if ‘When You’re Tired Of Breaking Other Hearts’ was a little below the standard of recent episodes of Nashville. Perhaps, in part, that was because a couple of character arcs seemed a bit rushed: as if the writers had decided where they wanted to be by the end of the episode and did what they had to do to get there. Thus Gunnar – until now, nice if a bit wet – was all, it’s a one-time thing, after his night with Scarlett, then ignored their showcase and went out looking for revenge against whoever it was killed his bro. Fortunately Deacon – once more offering sage advice – was there to talk him down, and by the end it wasn’t a one-time thing after all with Scarlett, although the offer of a solo deal to Scarlett might seem like disproportionate punishment for his half-hour aberration. And Juliette did the same: nearly turning an intimate fan club-only gig into a disaster by publicising it on Twitter, then petulantly blaming everyone else. This time it was Rayna with the sage advice – verging on the maternal, ‘cos she can’t control her own daughter just now – and by the end Juliette’s being nice to everyone again.
Avery, on the either hand, has taken weeks to get to where he is now. He doesn’t like the country dubstep direction that producer Wyclef Jean is taking him in, but he’s reminded that Wyclef owns his ass: Avery might not be dancing the go-go, but he’s undoubtedly a ho. So he burns the masters – isn’t everything digital these days? Obv not – and ends up, on his own, picking out a sweet piano ballad, in front of an audience which doesn’t know who he is. I’m guessing the next steps will be apologies to his bandmates and to Scarlett. A better week for Deacon, though, who can’t go five yards without bumping into hot women who want to sleep with him. This week he takes his dog to the vet; of course, she turns out to be a hot vet, even if she’s just going to be there to occupy his mind while he tries to stop thinking about Rayna. Like Deacon’s love for Rayna, though, my love for this show remains undimmed, even if it’s been better.
Alicia and Will attended an inquest, representing the wife of a dead judge. Cary’s dad played games with Cary’s head and job. And Eli finally got rid of Jordan, the world’s wettest spin doctor. (Yay!)
All in all, it was a very Good Wife-y episode of The Good Wife: I got a distinct sense of deja vu from the wacky inquest shenanigans, in particular, what with the set-up of quasi-judicial hearing, sneaky opponent and new problem upon new problem piling up. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t good and I didn’t enjoy it, because it was and I did – just that it reminded me of a number of other episodes which were much better.
However, this one also had Will and Alicia acknowledging that they’ve been avoiding each other and wanting to stop it. Did they read my post last week? Are they – deep breath – reading now? If so, hey, Will and Alicia! Come on and give me something to squee about!
Y’know, I really don’t like going to weddings but after this week’s Game of Thrones I’m struggling to justify why: I mean, I’ve never been to nuptials as butt-clenchingly awkward, mortifying and treacherous as the forced marriage of poor Tyrion and Sansa.
With the psychotic Joffrey gleefully tormenting them both and the dangerously sulky Cersei glowering at all and threatening sundry, while Tywin commanded the groom to impregnate the bride immediately …. God. To think I get annoyed when well-meaning old ladies at the Reception smile kindly at me and say “It’ll be you next.” I need to get over myself.
Anyway, the horrible but brilliant wedding – at which Tyrion was kind, gentle and awesome to Sansa, thank goodness – took up most of this week’s episode, “Second Sons”, which was just as well, seeing as almost everything else paled into insignificance beside it. Except Sam and Gilly’s encounter with the White Walker and all those ravens, of course, which was completely terrifying. And everything involving Melisandre. Because that woman is creepy as hell.
In other news, no Wall or Wildlings this week (hurrah!) but no Jamie or Brienne either (boo!). Daenerys inexplicably captivating some super-smirky warrior who then brought her yet another army made me roll my eyes like everything Daenerys does but Davos practising his reading was unexpectedly lovely and I was also overjoyed to find out that The Hound’s plan is to take Arya to Robb at The Twins. It’s about TIME somebody finally got to their destination after all this wandering. I just hope the King in the North is still alive when she gets there but, given this is GOT and “if you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention”, I probably shouldn’t hold my breath, should I? Sigh.
Ok, I’ve given it another go but I just don’t like this show.
This was another difficult episode lingering on horrors, but more than that, despite the superlative efforts of a talented cast, it was clumsy and unsubtle, instead of the deep and profound it was aiming for.
The unconvincing Uhura-like pathologist who really just parroted back Stella’s observations at the crime scene, and the sister of the victim being allowed to watch screaming as the body was carried out didn’t ring true at all, but it was the almost-obsessive use of mirroring that really got on my nerves.
Juxtaposing Stella’s control of James during their sex scene with the killer’s posing and manipulating of the body at the same time was only the most bizarre example, but we also had the killer washing the victim’s hair and later his daughter’s, Sarah’s father and the baby’s mother both asking “Can I touch her?” and repeating “My Baby, my baby”… and so on and so forth. It was so ubiquitous and yet so strangely pointless it was all I could focus on after a while. And it really annoyed me.
Which is a shame; there are a couple of interesting sub-plots developing and I really wanted to like The Fall, but the 2 hours I’ve already spent trying to is enough. If you’re made of hardier stuff than me and decide to stick with it, let me know how it all works out.
Having married in haste, SCDP and CDC now have the opportunity to – well, not exactly repent at leisure, but there are certainly tensions as the merger begins in ‘Man With A Plan’; there are too many people, not enough offices, and Pete arrives late at the partners’ meeting to discover that there’s nowhere to sit. Although everyone’s making the best of it, it doesn’t look particularly comfortable: Joan and Peggy exchange brittle good wishes in a way which looks like they’re trying to convince themselves, and everyone else, that they’re friends, but the smiles don’t reach the eyes. It’s not all bad, though; Roger, to his delight, gets to sack Burt Peterson, again, and hangs out with Jim Cutler (Harry Hamlin) in a way which suggest that they see the world the same way – they’re both smoothies of a certain age, throwbacks to a time when life was simpler and better for men like them.
For Don, it’s a possible threat to his dominance of the office, and Ted Chaough needs to be put in his place. This means arriving at Ted’s office with a bottle of whisky and getting him hog-whimperingly drunk, which prompts a telling rebuke from Peggy (“Move forward”). Ted then gets his own back, though, flying the two of them in a rickety plane through a storm to a meeting with Mohawk. Interestingly, Ted – who when we first saw him seemed to be something of a clown – now appears to be both a nice guy and someone more in tune with the times – and the office – than Don, who as the weeks go by becomes less and less tolerable. Ted doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would necessarily want to start a war, but he’s nonetheless playing to win.
And as Don feels his grasp on the workplace slip, he’s obliged to assert his control elsewhere: this week he installs his mistress Sylvia in a hotel room, and plays a series of increasingly disturbing sexual power games with her; Sylvia, who has just had an argument with her husband, is on board at first, but by the end she’s kind of had enough, leaving Don to return to Megan, with whom he’s now very clearly fed up. Another unhappy ending for Don, probably, and the episode itself finishes with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy (neatly, if heartlessly, presented to Pete as one of his mother’s delusions).
But perhaps one of the most significant long-term developments in the episode might be the continuation of Bob Benson’s gradual progression from background irritant to front-and-centre character; this week he helps Joan out and, in so doing, manages to avoid being laid off. Was this his calculation, or is he just a good guy? We haven’t seen anything like enough of him to be able to form a conclusion, but the suspicion that he’s playing a long game of some sort has now been articulated and, to a certain extent, substantiated.
We haven’t yet had an outstanding episode this season, but Mad Men has now hit its typical mid-season run of excellent episodes, and this was another.