The Good Fight s1 ep 8

The Rindell storyline takes a surprisingly compelling turn – for the first time I was genuinely interested in what happened to Henry – which is all to the good, but the big news (and the big fight) in this week’s episode is Reddick v Boseman, as Louis Gosset Jr. pops in to try and take back the firm he started – the vote is surprisingly close, considering how completely awesome Adrian is – and brings a particularly tricky case of the week with him for good measure. Fisher Stevens is a somewhat unscrupulous opponent, and the client’s initially on the ropes, but Marissa’s on hand to work it all out, which is becoming something of a habit and would be harking back to Super-Kalinda Solves It All territory, were it not for the fact that it’s impossible to dislike Marissa (she is ace) and Lucca currently has dibs on any character traits Kalinda might have left lying around.

Colin’s parents and their friends’ behaviour was hilarious in a completely mortifying way, but I’ve had more than enough of Lucca’s incomprehensible and frankly stupid skittishness. Girlfriend, if you want Colin (and why wouldn’t you? He’s great), you can very clearly have Colin, so what the hell is your problem? And if you don’t… well, never mind that, you obviously do. So get over yourself.

Public Service Announcement 16 of 2017: Twin Peaks

When Twin Peaks first appeared on our screens, I was a teenager and UK tv only had four channels. Tucked away on BBC 2 on a Tuesday night, I have a feeling I missed it at first – I could be wrong, but I think I started watching a couple of episodes in and was probably even more bewildered than everyone else as a result. As soon as I did see it though, I was fascinated.

Beautiful, strange and terrifying, I had never seen anything like it. As the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer unfolded, the show got weirder and crazier and even scarier – by the end it was completely demented – but flawed though it was, its place in tv history and in my consciousness was assured. I wouldn’t call myself a superfan or anything even close; OK, I do have “Falling” as my phone’s ringtone because modern technology means you can do that kind of thing, but I found The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer deeply unpleasant and I never even tried to watch Fire Walk With Me. Which makes me a complete lightweight in terms of Twin Peaks fandom – I’ll not be dressing up as the Log Lady any time soon. But something about the show still got under my skin and stayed there, the effects both immediate and long-term – for months after it ended, I was genuinely frightened of looking in the bathroom mirror; and now, decades have passed but sometimes, if it’s very late and very dark and I’m at the sink, I still have to tamp down a shiver and force myself to look up.

All of which means I’m both excited and more than a little scared that, almost twenty-six years after the second season of Twin Peaks ended, we’re getting a third one. Correctly deducing that any delay would be a bad idea, Sky Atlantic is showing episodes 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks: The Return in a simulcast with Showtime tonight/early Monday morning at 2AM and, as a special bonus for UK viewers, making episodes 3 and 4 available on demand immediately afterwards. For old times’ sake, it’ll also have a prime-time slot on Tuesday at 9pm, which is either a cute nod to the original UK timeslot or a very creepy coincidence. Either way, I’ll be watching. And hopefully reviewing an ep or two at least, but we’ll see how we go.

Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s3 ep 5

*SPOILERS*

It looks like the worst may be behind us as, with just one ep to go, Spin seems to have moved from truly awful to merely comme ci comme ça.

Focussing on les femmes, first – Appolline has a busy time of it this week, being rescued by French commandos, returning to the enthusiastic (the face-stroking is back!) embrace of Simon and his Petite Princesse, and filling French intelligence – no stopping them now Palissy’s “had to resign for medical reasons” – in on Jennifer/Ayesha’s activities. Jennifer/Ayesha herself is running around Paris up to no good, and not best pleased to hear that her charge is at large. Clemence Parodi is apparently so overwhelmed with love for Le Prés (come on) that she has to return to Paris to check out his soft furnishings (not a euphemism), argue with his wife and kiss him in front of windows some more, because nobody in this show ever learns ANYTHING. And despite Ludo’s misgivings – “it’s not the classiest” approach, he points out, and you know you have un problème when Ludo thinks something’s not classy – Anne-Marie goes full Alexis Carrington and outs Deleuvre by text message at some kind of right-wing Primary candidates’ assembly, which is horrible, sad and, given how nonchalant she is while doing it, slightly bizarre. In terms of both nonchalance and bizarreness, however, that scene has nothing on the subsequent one where Deleuvre walks up to La Carrere in the street, and slaps her across the visage, while Ludo just stands there looking non-plussed. I didn’t expect him to break out the judo moves, but not even an “Annie, are you ok?” Ludo? Vraiment?

Apart from Ludo, though, whom I expect just wants this to be over as much as I do, it’s all systems go for the rest of les hommes. Le Prés has a bone-achingly tiresome confrontation with his dreadful wife, having her dragged in by the Secret Service so he can ask her for a divorce then yelling at her because she agrees to it. (FFS, man, if you wanted the divorce to be in a couple of months, you should have waited a couple of months to ask her for it. Idiote.) Ban-Kapita Moon intervenes to secure peace in the Élysée once again, and possibly peace across the world with Marianne Joly the quid pro quo for the brief extension to the Marjorie marriage. Because somebody remembered this show is supposed to be about politics rather than the world’s least compelling marital woes, Marjorie and Simon then decide to distract from his love triangle problem, his third Prime Minister in three weeks problem *and* his trailing-in-the-polls-might-not-make-it-through-the-Primaries-problem by launching a referendum on massive constitutional change because that type of gamble always goes swimmingly for folk, n’est-ce pas? And, having been told not to pass go and certainly not to collect €200 on his way out of both his jobs, Palissy tries to shore up his alliance with Beaugendre who’s about as interested in that idea as I am. *Shrugs* You know I’m just here out of contrariness now. One to go!

Designated Survivor s1 ep 20

*SPOILERS*

“Despite recent disruption to the world order, this is not the time to retreat into isolation or populism. This is the time to show that global co-operation can and will lead us to a safer future.”

Sigh. President Jack Bauer, ladies and gentlemen, as usual talking a lot more sense than the real-life shower of lunatics and fascists about to drag us into the apocalypse, and momentarily depressing me as a result, but no time for Weltschmerz this week, we’ve got a recap to get through, and things are moving FAST. Except on the nuclear disarmament front, that is, where things are grinding to an ignominious halt, thanks to the ridiculous Abe Leonard finally publishing his “It wasn’t Al Sakar! Dun dun dun!” story.

While the First Mole Lady seizes the opportunity to try and get the classified goss again, Moss is apoplectic that PJB didn’t tell him first, Seth is confused but loyal, funny and frankly lovely about it (Seth is the BEST) and the French President is just rude, announcing to NATO that she’s taking PJB’s Kum-ba-ya plan (despite it being HER IDEA) off the table because she thinks he’s too gauche to deal with. (Not that he helps himself by drawling “Madame” at her in cringe-worthy fashion every chance he gets.) After a few weeks when PJB has seemed much more authoritative, it’s disappointing to see him slip back into brow-beaten, sad-sack mode; I half-expected the cardigan and glasses to come back out, and the five minute flirt with “Madame” didn’t really turn that around for me – I thought he was going to kiss her hand at one point, ew – but it seemed to work for her so maybe we will eventually get our nuclear disarmament in season 2 after all.

There’s still a lot of other season 1 business to get through between this and the finale, though. While PJB’s away, Emily and Aaron will… sadly, not play, but will see each other across a crowded restaurant, have a very nice hug, and tease me with talk of wanting to work together again and anything could happen and the like. (You guys, I WANT THEM TO GET TOGETHER SO BAD.) Since Aaron is quite obviously delighted to see her, and Emily is quite obviously ready to take a stiletto to his lunch partner’s face till she realises it’s his cousin rather than some Julie-come-lately muscling in on her man turf, is it too much to hope we might get a snog next week? Or do I have to wait till season 2 for that as well? Hurrumph.

From a metaphorical ship to a literal one, meantime: Agent Q is running about the USS Conspiracy Corp, whacking folk with the wrong end of an axe, presumably since any federal agent chopping folk’s heads off would have to deal with a tsunami of paperwork. Mid-thump and before Catalan cataches her again, she manages to get a distress call out to a very nice lady at the US Coast Guard who doesn’t quite understand the significance of it at first. La Guard gets there, though, bless her, and gets hold of Reed Diamond, who is now FRANTIC with worry for the missing Q and yelling at everyone about everything, bless him. Now, obviously, Unpopcult keeps a keen eye on the latest developments in employment law and does not endorse vociferation as an ideal management technique in real life. But on this show, at least, it does seem to get things done – and by “things,” I mean a huge, practically immediate FBI raid on the USS Conspiracy Corp, and a lot of authoritative shouting and shooting and deck-clearing which is very impressive and exciting indeed, even if it almost ends me when I think it’s about to accidentally end poor Agent Q. It’s a great fake-out, leading to an absolutely fantastic cliffhanger – how will Q get out of this fresh fix? Will Reed Diamond admit his feelings for her? Are Reed Diamond’s feelings all in my head? And does Mole Guy really have better hacker skillz than Chuck? I don’t know, but bring on the next ep, I’m excited to find out!

Blindspot s2 ep 20

*SPOILERS*

Oh, FFS. Everybody was clearly having too much fun without him last week and Miseryguts McPersonalitybypass – or, as some people like to call him, “Roman” – couldn’t be having that. So back he is to demand that Jane, now that she and Weller are smiling at each other again, stop THAT immediately and ruin things with the man once more. Which Jane duly does, either because this ship is a magnet for storms and icebergs, or because the writers hate me.

Either way, at her appalling brother’s insistence, Jane tells Kurt about Emma Shaw, and Jeller grinds to a halt yet again. Sigh. I suppose at least the temporary resumption of hostilities means Weller gets to attack Roman with a dumbbell (TEAM WELLER) as opposed to making him Thai chicken, so there’s a silver lining of sorts, even if our hothead hero calms down to some degree by the end of the ep. Unlike Mr Totally-Not-a-Murdering-Psychopath-Anymore-No, who… Well, that would be telling but, once Kurt finds out, I’d say Roman’s chances of making it to the newly-announced season 3 a live man let alone a free one are looking considerably more slim.

But you don’t hire Ronda Rousey for a guest spot and waste your entire episode on a guy with a frown for a face. The main plot of the week, then, has Zapata in jail with Ronda to get close to her Sandstorm boyfriend, soon followed by Zapata out of jail with Ronda and getting close to her Sandstorm boyfriend’s fists and bomb collection. As you’d expect, most of the story’s built around women fighting each other – a lot of it – and since Blindspot has a decent track record in that area anyway, nobody appears to, er, pull any punches. The action is solid, well-choreographed and exciting, for the most part, although I’m finding Zapata’s sudden overwhelming need to go even more maverick than usual a bit odd. Of all the people on Team Tat with cause to take Sandstorm personally, Tasha seems waaaay down the list. Unlike Patterson, for instance, who is struggling so much with what Borden did that even Dr Sun – a character usually so cold that she could turn a hot dog into an ice lolly – is sympathetic. Too late to help poor Stuart, but sympathetic nonetheless. And probably right about Roman, but we’ll see about that next week.

The Good Fight s1 ep 7

What a completely magnificent hour of tv this was.

The cases of the week were basically Kresteva vs Boseman et al, and vice versa, as TGF’s biggest, baddest villain so far tried to bring down the firm in the Grand Jury room, and Elsbeth, Lucca and co fought back in civil court, which sounds boring, but was anything but. The wildly, joyously funny script hit almost every mark with panache and wit, managing, in particular, the incredibly difficult trick of weaving race into the story in a way that was both laugh-out-loud hilarious and insanely clever. Adrian, especially, was punch-the-air amazing, and Marissa’s sly swipe at the racial politics/make-up of TGW as smart, self-aware and, crucially, funny as it was meta. Elsbeth was an unmitigated, exuberant delight. Jay was quietly, unobtrusively great. Colin gets better and better by the week. Even the finance guys were fun. And watching Kresteva hoist by his own petard will never not be awesome. If I have one complaint, it’s my usual one – Maia is still too dull and passive to hold her own with such a fantastic bunch of characters, but, as usual, everybody else more than made up for it. This was just amazing.

Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre) s3 ep 4

*SPOILERS*

Perhaps my expectations were lowered by the first three episodes. Or maybe my faculties have been bludgeoned into submission by Elisabeth Marjorie: International Rescue and Palissy de Justice. Either way, having put it off for the best part of a week, I was pleasantly surprised when I caught up with this week’s Spin. Which is not to say it was bon, exactly, more that it was basically all right. Which makes it a definite step up for this season.

Given that Clemence kicks things off by having her ultrasound right in front of a massive, curtain-free window (people having secret affairs in front of windows and not drawing the curtains is, as Jed pointed out a couple of weeks ago, daft enough, but people having secret ultrasounds in front of windows and not drawing the curtains seems almost criminally stupid) and her doctor makes a point of promising her total discretion, it’s pretty obvious how things are going to go. Et oui, news of the pregnancy gets to La Flashmag Femme quicker than you can say “Tiens!” but, oddly, instead of rushing to confirm, protect then publish her scoop on line, LFF summons Ludo – who, till the euro drops, is adorably confused as to why he’s being asked to look at a baby scan – who tells various folk, then Simon who also tells various folk so, by the time LFF finally gets round to publishing her “exclusive”, half of France already knows. Including Le Prés himself who, having learned absolutely nothing from anything that’s happened thus far, maintains everything’s going to be bien and snogs Clemence out in the street; and Elisabeth, who goes full red-wine mist and announces it at a state dinner with the British PM. Charmant.

Contrary to Le Prés’s promises, of course, everything is most certainly not going to be bien, unless you’re Anne-Marie Carrere, who is not just bien but positively orgasmic – in more than one way – about the whole business. Her screaming “I want them all to respect me!” and other such worthy sentiments in the middle of a sex scene with her campaign manager is both ridiculous and hilarious, and makes me wonder what Spin would have been like if it hadn’t taken itself so seriously and embraced its inner “Dynasty” instead.

But let’s not dwell on what could have been. We can leave that to Simon, who’s never more nostalgic about his marriage to Appolline than when she’s abroad somewhere in dire straits. Luckily for all of us – *rolls eyes* – though, his other favourite femme, La Petite Princesse Juliette, dashes back from New York, works out Palissy’s behind it all and generally achieves more in about cinq minutes than she has in the past deux seasons, so she gets a pass for once. Until she and her Papa get all hypocritical and holier-than-thou about gossip mags in general: “They’ve polluted the media and putrefied politics”, says the daughter of the spin doctor. Righto. But unlike Le Président or you, Simon, Flashmag hasn’t compromised their position by having an affair with a subordinate and lying about it, so maybe dial down the self-righteousness un peu, eh?

Thankfully, however, it’s not just Juliette’s attitude that’s contagious, but also her sudden bout of efficiency. Since there are only deux episodes to go till the series finale, Palissy quietly shuts down the school investigation, and Simon quietly shuts down Palissy, telling Le Prés what Appolline (and Juliette) found out. Because a man is now saying it’s ok (FFS), Le Pres finally lets the nameless intelligence agency woman (who’s been desperate to get involved for weeks but has been stymied at every turn by Marjorie’s reliance on Palissy) step up and do her job. Since it’s too late for negotiations, though, we’re going back to an old-style (ok, season 2) commando raid on the compound where Appolline’s being held, and, I would imagine, a race against time to save Paris from “Jennifer” just to liven things up before we say adieu to Spin forever. Watch this space, mes amis. We’re nearly there.