Tube Talk: Masters of Sex: Mirror, Mirror

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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the sexiest reviewer of them all? Me? Oh you’re too kind. Wait, this new reviewer has a new review of Masters of Sex! Read, why don’t you?

SPOILERS!

Masters of Sex: Season 2: Episode 8: Mirror, Mirror,: GRADE: B-

We all have demons. That’s what this week is about, the demons we all have and how they can affect using many ways such as everyday things, thinking, human interactions, even cause sexual dysfunction which is heavily featured in the episode. Also mirror versions of ourselves. Hence the episode title.

Virginia wants to study sexual dysfunction in patients they’ve dealt with before in hopes of furthering the study, as Bill is still dealing with his own secret impotence, which over the course of the dysfunction might be in his head like Leter’s problem in coming up withe a eulogy for his father’s funeral. He even seeks help while a couple in the dysfunction study by trying out his eulogy in what’s a pretty poor attempt at humor via juxtaposition. Lester’s dealing with his own dysfunction in that he can’t seem to bring himself to have sex anymore when thinking of Jane and what happened between them. Now she’s off with a Hollywood hot shot that Lester wishes was him. I can’t help but feel for as much Lester loves helping Bill and Virginia out, he truly resents being back at the study when he truly believes he should be out in Hollywood making the latest cinema classic

Bill has his own demons himself with his whole family, but this week, more so in younger brother Frank (Christian Borle) who is trying to figure out why he and his wife are having trouble getting pregnant. Frank is shown as someone who really looked up to his brother. He went to the same medical school after all and turns out they share the same bout of impotence at the moment. Bill personally doesn’t want to handle it himself which one could simply say is conflict of interest but I think its more so because Frank is reminding Bill of a time he’s still trying to forget completely. I’ve heard it could be because Frank was the preferred and much more loved child, which might explain why we haven’t seen him until now. Though Frank can’t accept that really. He even gives a tale about what made him go into plastic surgery but that also led to his demon, alcoholism which he’s nearly a year sober of.

Yet we can sometime be successful in burying our demons but they can be triggered back. That’s where we enter Barbara thanks to the amazing acting of Betsy Brandt this week that was honestly much better than nearly anything she did back on Breaking Bad. Virginia insists she’s perfect for the study, more so now since sexual dysfunction is the order of the day thanks to her vaginismus which had to deal with relations with her brother. All Virginia wanted to do was to help, but this week she went too far. A great monologue Barbara has to Virginia when she does discover the causing of this, which also has some mental factors to it, which is the best thing I’ve ever seen Brandt do. Virginia’s heart is always in the right place, as also evident with her posing as Barbara with the psychiatrist she recommended she see. Its convoluted to do this, but she thinks its the right way to pass along the information Barbara needs.

The stuff dealing with demons, that’s fascinating. Its great to see so many sides of our main and side characters that works together so well that it fits with the mirrors them too such as Bill seeing himself in Frank, Lester and Barbara being unintentional mirrors for each other, and Bill’s women acting as mirrors. Libby is his light side while Virginia is his darker, secret side. Its great to see that the show keep up something so good like this after the standout episode of last week. Its so good, everything else this week feels like such a damn letdown given how good last week’s episode was.

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Austen gets sucked into the Cal-O-Metrics story as the new spokesmen. Why? We need something for him to do. But also the money. Bill has his mom’s money, yet they still have issue while trying to get tax except status. Nothing much is made of that. Oh and Libby is going to testify for Robert. These plot points feel out of place, more so Libby and Austen’s and give the epsode a disjointed feel where it just still rings in my mind how pointless those were for this episode.

I admit its partly for how good last week was that the half of this week that didn’t work is enough the bring the episode down a but despite the great stuff that worked. Again they give the episode a disjointed feeling that makes this the season’s weakest offering yet.

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Masters of Sex is still among TV’s best offerings but this week doesn’t show that off quite well and I think it has its own demons to work on.

I’d just like to say right now, this is an unsolicited promotion but we do all have our personal demons and that are troublesome. They can be harmful to us and those around us and give us unhappy thoughts and impulses we want to act on I have that feeling as well. If you feel as if your demons are winning, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Let them help you win over your demons.

Tube Talk: The Strain: Creatures of the Night

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The Strain brings its big guns out this week for a stellar episode.

SPOILERS!

The Strain: Season 1: Episode 8: Creatures of the Night: GRADE: A

What makes the latest episode of The Strain really work so well is the fact that it works so well on such a great centered and condensed level of storytelling, this could work as a horror movie. Horror movies have had centralized one location stories and that’s what tonight’s episode is with the CDC crew and Setrakian meeting up with Vasiliy and being trapped in a gas station from an oncoming herd being controlled through the eyes by of Eichhorst and Palmer. The shot through Eichhorst’s leg literally seems as if its the first shot in the growing war now.

This episode work as wonderful plot advancement and a greater developing of characters in such a bad situation. Again this worked so well it could be reworked into being its own tense, 90 minute feature length horror film.

Speaking of horror, it also shows off the show’s talent in tension and providing great scares within the allotted time for the show. They really pace it very well and know what to use. Eph and everyone are able to get some UV lights in their light against the vampires while coming across Vasiliy. Soon when getting supplies in a nearby gas station, shit goes wrong when a hoard of the vamps show up. We have cannon fodder too, one of them being VFX master Rick Baker in a fun little cameo and bread stacker and gas station worker. The hacker Palmer hired just happens to be there too and suddenly regret her big fat paycheck. That made for an interesting dynamic having her in the fold as she acts like such a different character from being cool, calm, and collected from terrified bystander.

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Ruta Gedmintas does do a good job with it, but this also feels like Sean Astin’s episode as Jim does bite the dust having gotten nicked when thwarting off some the vamps outside at first and Astin’s acting here is really goddamn good. His regret and want of redemption really plays through and is the best of Astin’s work here. I like Astin’s acting for the most part and this is some the best work he’s done in a while and his last scene with Eph before being put out his misery by Vasiliy is particularly great because of what has happened before in the episode as well as the direction of it and how tightly shot is it. The whole episode is nicely directed and just adds to its greatness in the quality upswing the show has taken since the pilot.

The performances as a whole come through great with more nice work from Corey Stoll but also giving more for Kevin Durand. Vasiliy is quickly becoming a favorite character of mine and I think he could be a breakout favorite for most viewers. Another reason the show works so well this week, no Gus. HOORAY!

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The Strain makes itself perfect for this week with a knockout punch of an episode that tightens up its pacing overall and has even more genuine great scares, character development, and storytelling. Its just fantastic and I think the show can only get better from here.

Batman Eternal #21

Things kick into high gear for the weekly series so let’s give it is first legal drink!

SPOILERS!

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Batman Eternal #21
Written by James Tynion IV; Drawn by Jason Fabok

CALLED IT! IN YOUR FACE! YOUR FACE! AND ESPECIALLY IN YOUR FACE MRS. FORD FOR SAYING I CAN NEVER PICK UP CLUES WELL! IN YOU THIRD GRADE TEACHING FACE!

So yeah Hush is the mastermind behind the events of Eternal. IN YO-

This issue is a hot shot of whiskey the book needed as two of its biggest masterminds come back to help jumpstart the book again. Our reveal comes from Hush breaking into Wayne Manor and eject Alfred, being badass, with the Fear Toxin and that it pushing Julie closer to discovering Alfred and Bruce’s secret and holy shit I was blown by how one plot thread moves along another. The look of Hush is well Hush and Jason Fabok is again one the better artists out there today and especially works with Batman. I’d love to see more of him here and the book seems like it will deliver on that.

The book is moving fast along now with Bard becoming Commissioner and oh yeah, he’s in on the job. After Carmine fesses he doesn’t know anything of who’s behind it, Batman takes the evidence that’ll get Gordon off, hush you dirty minded pervert, after he was just given his life sentence, he destroys it himself.

Tynion makes this twist really work and I find it shocking and really believable, though I called it, he gives it a kick and that kick helps makes this one the series best issues yet. He and Fabok are a wonderful team together and I think the more central focus here did the book good.

The wheels are turning faster than thought and I’m still loving this book!

RATING: 5/5

Tube Talk: Tyrant: Gone Fishing

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We take possibly one final look at Tyrant as its finale rings in the end of its season.

SPOILERS!

Tyrant: Season 1: Episode 10: Gone Fishing: GRADE: B

Tyrant ends as it began, with Barry’s life hanging in the balance in Abbudin.

There is still no word at the time of this writing if Tyrant will return for a second season next summer, and if it does, Tube Talk will be there to review it, but let’s talk about season 1.

Honestly the drama that was naturally made here was spot on with Tucker and crew realizing, their coup was just as successful taking down Tariq, so hey let’s just let everything go, but Barry can’t let well enough alone and that’s what leads to his imprisonment by the end of the episode. He has to bring down Jamal, he must run Abbudin for its betterment. Sadly he forgot, how kinda spineless Hakim is after a couple cups of wine and confessing to Jamal.

Barry’s role as this show’s Michael Corleone proved troublesome at first thanks to one the most dead-eyed blank expressions I seen in a while and was honestly more like one the street workers but he evolved into Michael, even though he’s not the tyrant now, Jamal still reigns proudly over the country. Ashraf Barhoum’s performance is spot on here, mostly when the scene comes for Barry to be arrested, he shows genuine emotion over the heartbreak of the person he trust most betraying him hurts deeply. Jamal was already a broken person but this just further shatters his already shattered pieces.

The last few minutes where the aftermath plays out at the palace is great with the wonderful cinematography framing of the shots, most notably the shooting squad execution and the very last shot of the show with Barry sitting and willowing in his jail cell as a hopeful ray of light shines through. That ending was meh to me at first but coming around on a second viewing of the finale, I think it can work either way, but if the show does come back for a second season, I’m not sure how Barry could get out since treason is a serious goddamn crime and Leila is still pulling Jamal’s strings towards death, Tariq as well, though Leila seems to have the motivation of jilted lover still and man I really hope should a season two happen, they get her over that, QUICK!

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I said that was natural made drama because it was, here is some artificially made bullshit! Another suggestion for season two, get rid of Jenna quick. There was honestly no reason to the character at all and she only served one purpose here which was to be a plot point and not and a fleshed out character. She and Emma go on one last shopping spree before they are to depart, but they get mugged and cause a hold up on the plane which gets them stuck at the American Embassy after Jamal puts a stop to Barry’s coup.

For as much as I rail on the children being bland, nothings of characters, Jenna is worse. There was no point to her being here until the finale, and even then its unnecessary. There are like a few different ways their plane could have been delayed, like maybe since Jamal already knew, have them stopped and way he got wind a terrorist attack was happening on the way to the airport and has to get them to safety, or just anything else since I wanna continue with the review itself.

Tyrant from the start seemed like it would seep itself more into family politics rather than give an examination on how politics itself might work and where the second was more favorable at the start, Tyrant slowly put itself together to make interesting with its family drama and work with that and actually develop its characters further. Again I make it no secret, Tyrant was a complete mess when it started by trying to have something to say about things in the Middle East rather than try to tell its own compelling story and flesh out its character, but once it got out its rough patch, I liked it a lot more and it suddenly became a show I can’t miss watching, even though it still had its own misgivings. The balance was one-sided and well it ways it kinda still is, but it on a much better side than it was at first.

Jamal, while still a horrible person has evolved somehow into an interesting compelling madman and Adam Rayner, well shit, I enjoy his acting now. Like once things started to really get bad for his character, that wants to do right, but often will the a horrible thing to do what is right. Often as is the case with a villain, but hey, Tyrant turned that around. The family drama on both sides of Jamal and Barry only really relied within the wives as Molly was trying so hard to adjust while still loving as Leila is just manipulative but played a larger role than Molly. The kids suck, I got nothing more. They are uninteresting, underwritten, and add nothing.

The direction got a lot more confident. The show was gonna look good off the get-go with its location, how can you poorly film expansive Middle Eastern landscapes?

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Change was good for this show and while this honestly could work as its own one season thing, I am curious as to a second season what storylines could happen, but after two, I think the show has a bit of a shelflife after it. This can’t go on for much long, but now, I’m willing to stick with it.

FINALE GRADE: B

SEASON/SERIES GRADE: B-

Tube Talk: Masters of Sex: Asterion

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Let’s jump a step forward as long as Masters of Sex is doing it on this week’s episode.

SPOILERS!

Masters of Sex: Season 2: Episode 7: Asterion: GRADE: A

Expectation and reality is our theme here this week. Betty wanted Gene and Helen, but gets divorced. Bill wants Virginia and to remain the “happily married man” that he is and Libby to have more of a family, but she moves to a new man and thus reminds Bill what they did can’t be undone as he and Libby start drifting apart, and Austin wants his family back, but will never have it again. You know these events where to play in real life, this is how I’d see them going. Expectations can vary from how big or small they are depending on the situation, and sometimes they get met, but more often than not, reality will set in. Circumstance can dictate how happy we are with the result but in the case of our characters, reality is a harsh slap across the face.

Though the theme is there, it feels secondary to the fact this is a time forward episode and you can tell something was going to be very different this week when the excellent main title sequence doesn’t show up. The episode takes place over the course of three years.

Five months since last week with Bill and Virginia opening their own clinic for their work, with Betty on to help with paperwork but struggling to keep balanced as the bank takes all of Bill’s assets as collateral for a loan and Libby wanting to expand the family. Then to Austin celebrating his new girlfriend’s upgrade to burlesque from hand modeling and going to remarry, the various businesses joining the first floor, and Libby and Shelley going separate ways, but our transitions come from the return of Lester (Kevin Christy) documenting the rise of the clinic. Even Barbara makes a return coming to them about a problem she has. That problem being her lack of a vaginal opening, a study that could give the clinic just the noticeable boost it needs.

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That promised confrontation about Virginia seeing Shelley (Barry Watson), but turns out it was the fact that Virginia is a mother and just ends things there. He can’t be another face passing through their mother’s bedroom and there is shows how much more he cares about her and doesn’t want this to be a fling, but a true love. Yes we know of their marriage in reality, but the show is taking a nice slow burn to it, but some might be put off, as I know some are by the progression of the season, but this episode kicks it up into high gear thanks to the flash-forwards.

Also, he begins to become impotent after cutting the sexual relationship with Virginia off well if that wasn’t enough of a blow to him, Essie, Ann Dowd being good again, shows up and wants a second chance after she’s been seeing Libby and her grandchild for a year and offer money for the clinic and again Bill feels just dragged down, that he has a hole in him, a Virginia sized hole and out of this comes the one time lately Libby makes a good point that Bill isn’t the only one suffering, that many out there are, while I say brining up one’s suffering compared to one’s own doesn’t make things automatically better, its warranted here given how self-destructive Bill is that he can’t truly be with Virginia. Caitlin Fitzgerald plays the scene well and holds her own in the shouting match against Michael Sheen. But its just not Virginia but still trying to get away from his own family when he really can’t.

Things seem to come full circle as Bill and Virginia do resume their sexual relationship it helps proves something Austin’s ex-wife mentions, a bell can’t be un-rung once you ring it. They simply can’t stop. As for Austin, well he does want his old life back, thinking his instant reconnection with her can heal old wounds. Also after he sees his soon-to-be new wife is doing smut. That scene stand out for its truth and honesty in such an difficult situation as wanting to go back from where you once came. You can’t always go back.

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Of this golden age of TV we’re had many broken characters, but they seemed more like anti-heroes, but here with Bill he’s broken cause his family, his father truly, and he’s so self-destructive in wanting what can heal him, but yet can’t go that far to get it. When Bill does accept his mom’s money, its a start for a new way for him to heal himself cause one other thing that keeps him going is his study, something he is just as passionate about as he is for Virginia.

We end up in 1960, so we’re still 50s-ish right now but the time lapse has helped things get moving along swimmingly. I’m curious as to what will come of it next, and if we get more Helen cause I’d like more Sarah Silverman, but things can only get better from here.

Tube Talk: The Leftovers: The Garveys at Their Best

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For better or worse, its family time before season finale for The Leftovers. More in the review below.

SPOILERS!

The Leftovers: Season 1: Episode 9: The Garveys at Their Best: GRADE: B

It feels like an odd choice to have a full flashback episode serve as the PENULTIMATE(!) hour of the first season. This does one thing much like Lost did right in having flashbacks serve a purpose in helping to develop characters give the whole story where it is now of where it came from. This week we also get a character focus where out main focus is the Garvey family and admittedly, more of the town’s main players in the day leading up to The Sudden Departure and where they each where when it had happened.

But we also see really, Kevin wasn’t enjoying life so much before the Departure. He’s not happy, he’s unfulfilled that he hasn’t found his place and that’s because his purpose of saving something or another just isn’t there so much as when he saved Laurie from being a single mom and Tommy from a confrontation with his biological father. He has classic old hero complex and wants to be the person people can look up to in order to feel happy cause he clearly isn’t with Laurie anymore when he opens to her towards the end of the episode and the look on her face shows it too. He starts to feel something when a deer that’s been messing things up all over town is hit but a random attractive woman by taking her back to her hotel and have sex with her, only for her to vanish in the Departure.

He knows deep down he’s not a good guy, even his father knows, yes before crazy town banana pants, that something isn’t sitting right with Kevin when Sr. receives the Mapleton Man of the Year Award. Kevin feels like he has it all, the family, job, respect, all that, but wants more but Sr. tells him to cut the shit. Kevin has no real greater purpose.

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Laurie is unhappy herself, wanting to add more to the family against Kevin’s resistance, which is probably why she holds off the dog talk for so long and doesn’t even reveal to him she’s pregnant at all. Seeing her as a psychiatrist before the Departure is intriguing to finally get some backstory into that character, even more so when her patient Patti can sense an impending event coming soon. She’s wanting more too, but feels more content than Kevin certainly does and as for a good portion of her depression that we see now, well we see what most likely finally pushed her over the edge, I mean besides the fading marriage, her fetus disappears in the Departure. Laurie looks on the ultrasound all happy then poof! Baby gone!

The kids get glimpses too, more so Tommy wanting to get back at his biological dad, but nothing’s much made of that or Jill who is just there this week. We already know Jill’s whole thing so yeah.

The focus isn’t primarily on the family, though the majority of the episode is, we get glimpses in what was going on with Nora before the event trying to get a job on the Mayor’s staff and adjusting to that new thing called motherhood. We see a bit of Matt right before it happens, that was nice and all, but it doesn’t add as much as the stuff following the Garvey’s does.

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For as much as I feel like this could have served the show well into the beginning of it, having it right now does help give us a sense of life before it all happened and show how we got to where we are now, but I feel like it was such a detour given the big thing that had happened last week at the end and the momentum feels halted. This kinda does in ways feel like a filler episode, that they needed to find someway to justify its 10 episode order, but yet it still feels like a strong example of why the show is good from deeper understanding of characters and themes, wonderful cinematography, and great direction and performances. I’m certainly mixed with several stories going on, only Kevin and Laurie getting the best parts, but when the show works this week it does work. Here’s hoping for a good finale.

Tube Talk: The Strain: For Services Rendered

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Flashbacks help give The Strain much of its good this week as well as a sudden new element into the story. More below.

SPOILERS!

The Strain: Season 1: Episode 7: For Services Rendered: GRADE: A-

The Strain benefits this week thanks to the past and the present, but the past will be the one getting the most credit as its more flashbacks of Setrakian and Eichhorst back in the concentration camp where when Eichhorst finds a mysterious Jewish artifact, crafted by Setrakian and hires him for a special project which is of course, building the box/coffin. So Setrakian has had a much deeper connection to our main plot than figured from before and obviously has a state of regret to his part in the proceedings of what’s going on now and his character is on a journey of redemption as well as trying to save the world from Eicchorst and the rest of the vampires.

The scenes with Setrakian and Eichhorst in the past are the highlights for how Eicchorst was truly bad even before he was a vampire and has had a connection to Setrakian from the start and is done wonderfully by the deliciously evil performance of Richard Sammel, who is having a ball with this role. Also the performance Jim Watson as young Setrakian is very good, showing shades of David Bradley’s performance and mannerisms of now for then. Both are quite good in the role.

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Last week brought upon the game changing element of the eclipse which got vampires out in the open for some to see and two of the witness’ are unfortunately locked up for rightful self-defense in an attack of Gus and Felix, which surprises me how Felix is holding on to dear life since I thought those worms would get him fast. That’s all of that from them, but it shows that they are gaining the upperhand on things, as stated further when Eph wants to put video out but Palmer has all phone and internet down at the moment.

Direct confrontation is their best approach with Jim contacting Eichhorst, who is too clever for them and anticipates their deception from the start. The confrontation of that leads to Eichhorst of course getting away to fight another day but it creates more tension on top of the tension that’s already here.

Another thing the show does is make Jill matter for once as she goes full vampire this week in the other spotlight of the week attacking her family, husband and all, when her housekeeper brings them back and her poor daughter gets struck and offed by the mysterious militarized unit of what appears to be vampires themselves and are a strange but welcomed surprise.

They come in very close to the episode so we aren’t given much context or clues as to who they are but this whole sequence of events give The Strain more credit to its horror set piece aspect, the atmosphere keeps going so well and makes the show’s quality keep going in strong doses, despite some the weaker moments such as when Jim’s wife does leave him after he’s revealed his role in things and there wasn’t much of anything behind it. she just gets upset and leaves, never to most likely to be seen again, and Gus and Felix in hold up to show how shitty the cops are. Granted I agree, most cops can suck, but that’s fault is trying to get us on Gus’ side, which I’m still not. BORING!

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But there’s not much advancement with Palmer and his group. Its been quite a few episodes since they took down internet and phones and all, but their next move should be. I get slowburn and build, but since the cards are in their favor, you expect them to start playing their hands right now.

The Strain gets things going and still has consistency going in its favor, though the show could used room for improvement.