Tube Talk: Tyrant: The Awful Grace of God

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Well things don’t go quite as planned.

SPOILERS!

Tyrant: Season 2: Episode 7: The Awful Grace of God: GRADE B

So killing your best friend’s daughter I think ranks high up there as one of the most awkward conversations one can have. While not quite a bottle episode, Tyrant’s main story for the episode functions as that and I think the show could make something like that work, but I doubt we’ll get back to that since I really can only see about another season or two at best for a show like this.

Bassam’s attempted rescue of Daliyah wasn’t going to go well so I was looking forward to how it might go south and it was better than expected. I thought Jane and maybe we’d get more character insight to her but I got that and more with Samira. Mor Polanuer has been a fine fixture in the show by the side of Ihab Rashid and conflicting with the peaceful ways of her father, but this week we really got to know why. Really with nothing to do they all sit peacefully, well as peacefully as you can get with a radical fanatic holding a gun at you. Samira’s motivations have been murky before but by letting her open up, it giver her much more depth than before. He always had a different view from her father about changing things, but she was about peace until the gas attacks really set something off inside her. She disapproves of the Caliphate’s actions, but she doesn’t see that as any worse than the other options. She makes the statement about being either inside or outside a cage as it refers to places in the world and she clearly is on the outside to make sure the Al-Fayeeds join the rest of the people out of the cage.

Bassam’s attempts in further trying to reconnect are all for naught until as mentioned, said killing. In just straight leaving Bassam is shot in the leg and stabs Samira in retaliation.  Adam Rayner beautifully plays up the sudden realization and grief of such a situation and gives this already heavy plot more weight once he realizes what he’s going to do when word gets to Fauzi. Its things like this that have turned Tyrant around into something immensely watchable this season. The tension and implications of this storyline are perfect for expertly done drama.

Though Bassam might wanna hold off on thinking of Fauzi as they are attacked via air strike from Rami and the fact his identity is now known to Daliyah. Oh the implications.

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Meanwhile Jamal is one step closer to losing it after Nusrat has a miscarriage and a hysterectomy on top of that. Jamal starts believing this bad luck is from his haunted visions of Bassam, blaming himself for the loss of his grandson. Leila does her best to comfort him but we know that there isn’t much she can do aside from fanning the fire before it completely spreads out.

Speaking of Jamal, he got played by Sammy. Sammy opens the episode to get his money and in a brief moment of good writing for the character, plays to Jamal’s sense of family. Its something that really allows this character to work and open up, do more than what he’s usually doing. He’ll get the money overtime in small installments and shack up with Abdul. Well until its revealed the Caliphate have killed all its gay prisoners. Well I was briefly happy, maybe an end to Sammy’s story. I was too hopeful. Seeing Sammy deal with his death gave the character some growth until he got approached by a member of the Red Hand and coax them into helping them finance their own rebellion on the Caliphate themselves. So much like a kid would in this situation, he doesn’t think of its consequences and agrees. Goddamn it, Sammy, you had one moment to turn yourself around!

Meanwhile Molly and Jimmy finally fuck and I got nothing. There really hasn’t been much to this whole story this entire season and I really wasn’t that invested so I got nothing to say other than, well that finally happened.

TYRANT -- "The Awful Grace of God" -- Episode 207 (Airs Tuesday, July 28, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Adam Rayner as Barry. CR: Adrienn SzaboÕ/FX

Tyrant has great tension on one side to hold up its weaker side. With so few weeks left everything is coming to a front.

Tube Talk: The Strain: S2/E3; Masters of Sex: S3E3

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Unexpected returns and children are on the docket this week.

SPOILERS!


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The Strain: Season 2: episode 3: Fort Defiance: GRADE: C

Man The Strain this week had a weak ass bite to it. After two episodes of great story building and character work, we sort of get that. We get no flashbacks this week or mythology building but just purely set in the current day and man focus was all over the place so where to begin.

Zach is still a little shit. While he wasn’t the most particularly interesting thing in season one, I had hopes they could bring him something in season two and all we get is such a hackneyed cliché story about how he can’t understand mom is a vampire and still wants her around and I guess he still sees the vampires as people that’s not quite fully explained. Even after being shown one up-close as Eph shows him what they are doing he feels the need to wreck up Eph’s shit in the lab after a small moment where Eph recalled his own dad, which was a nice brief moment of character building before Zach ruined everything. Eph shows Zach their subject close up, telling how that cage is only holding him back and that his mother won’t care since she’s one of them. Upside, Eph and Nora’s cure is perfected and soon infection will spread. Hooray and fuck Zach.

Zach isn’t alone in characters getting bad writing, although the difference here is that I like Dutch. Missing posters for Nikki are being put up and its stirring up some things for Dutch given the last time we saw her to the point she can’t keep her head clear when she and Fet go over their plan blowing up the subway to make sure no more vampires can’t get into the city. That’s a great idea so how about so melodrama between Dutch and Nikki’s mom? This was poorly written, just terribly written and Dutch doesn’t exactly get the closure she wants for her time.

Dutch gets berated for ruining Nikki’s life when brought her into a disgusting lifestyle and Nikki’s mom then swears it not the gay stuff. Apparently Dutch was a vampire and rather than rather than leaving after sucking the happiness out of her life she stayed around. Not sure if you were able to tell, but my eyes rolled so goddamn hard over, it was painful. Dutch then finds solace in banging Fet in the van. This is an awful way to help further their romance, which is a highlight of the show now and something I want to see get extremely better as it goes along, but this is not how you should do it.

Even Setrakian gets nothing, kinda. He has more setup for something that will obviously be a bigger plot down the road in how he boils down vampire worms and drops the liquid in his eyes to maintain health. He drops this on Nora after she finds him passed out and to an actual doctor tries to play it off as that his eyes just bleed sometimes.

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Oh yeah and Councilwoman Feraldo shows up again when its reveal Staten Island is virus free and erects a fence of decapitated vampires along there to get her message across and Fet thinks that’s cool.

This episode thankfully has one highlight and that’s the vampire army commandos. I will seriously never stop loving those words together as long as I live goddamn it. Now we do have Gus who isn’t so much a focus here, thankfully, since he’s their ace in the hole of their place of kidnapping Palmer. I will admit that the training sequence for Gus earlier in the episode was rather good and pretty cool seeing him pulling the vampire tongue out. The attempted kidnapping itself is a rather cool sequence that is excellently staged and exciting to watch. Palmer is of course notified and scurries off to a secure room where he turns on a system of UV lights, which moves them to the center of the room where they are then promptly dropped into a UV light pit. It’s so goddamn cool in how inventive it is. Its ridiculous, but it works so well for the show. Also it seems with this and Bolivar being put on Palmer watching duty, it seems that Ms. Marchand might be aware of this whole vampire thing and what she’s getting into. Let us hope.

The Strain takes a heavy backseat to some season one melodrama with a healthy does of some amazing silliness with Palmer’s office. The episode was all over the place this week with some focus being put too much on the least interesting characters of the show. Now that we seem to have our infection virus of the vampires in play, things can pick up next week.


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Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 3: The Excitement of Release: GRADE: A-

Man was there a lot to talk about with this week’s episode. Where to start? Well how about Tessa since I’m a firm believer in ripping the damn band-aid off right away.

I know that dear Tessa here isn’t an actual person, one of the fictional children created for this show and while I’m not against the idea as long as there something well that can be done with the character, give it some good writing and story development behind it and it can work. Tess is good example of this so far this season. Where The Strain falters in its handling of Zach, Masters of Sex excels with a great idea for Tessa being a major part of the season by seeing what the success of her mother’s book does to her in school. Teasing, whispers, rumors and whatnot. She’s clear with her mother about what it does for her. Teenagers always look for different identities to look for and Tess is putting on the well-experienced girl to impress a young lad she takes a fancy to and shares a drink with at the homecoming dance.

This goes wrong when he forcibly makes her perform oral sex on him. A comment made by Tessa’s nun earlier about children learning from experience seems to be the center of this with Tessa being like her mother at this age in finding herself way over her head and what’s horrible is how she’s not turning to her mother given that teenagers are some stubborn fuckers. Tessa is very much a petulant teenager and the writing on that is too well good and performed perfectly by Isabelle Fuhrman. Little creepy too how her rapist kisses her on the cheek the next day, but hey its 1960s high school so he could have spread rumors around about her, much like today. Tessa’s arc seems to be moving swiftly now and here’s hoping things are handled well with this subject being brought in.

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Well this week Bill and Virginia are dealing with shit together and alone, which comes back around to the book.

Bill spends the majority of the episode trying to ship around to various universities, but he is set on Washington University where the study started, despite all the shit that had happened. He even enlists help of old friend Barton Scully, which means we have Beau Bridges back! He’s the first of unexpected returns this week, but more on that later. Scully is here and divorced, yet seeing a new woman. Bill’s defense of Barton kinda blows up in his face when he does let his emotions and costs him any chance at Washington. His pleas to Barton in joining them at the study is welcomed, but desperate for Bill who seems to possibly not be too comfortable with his own skin. Barton is lying to himself and the woman he seems to care for, but he feels more comfortable and in place than Bill is. Barton is a great reason as to why the book’s existence is necessary in understanding different forms of sexuality.

Speaking of the importance of the book for someone Lester seems to represent what the book can do for domestic couples and thus our second return Jane. Yes, Heléne York is back and married to Lester which man upsets me greatly because of how much I loved seeing him with Betsy Brandt last season. UGH! Well she seems bored and a talk over hate mail for the good doctors got their engines going. This wasn’t too interesting.

Back to Virginia, she and Betty, more than one scene, seem to want to take the investment route and go through several people, including Hugh Hefner, a hand massager, and Josh Charles. Bill being Bill, no way Playboy, the most logical choice, is going to get it so they go with “fragrances and flavorings” magnate Josh Charles who is an actor I love more than not and am glad to see him on TV since his exit on The Good Wife. He’s interested in how to use sex as a perfume, and it seems the sweets for Virginia.

Virginia deals with all that and her and Bill’s intimacy getting back on track since she had the baby from last week which bookends the show and feels nicely explored for the brief moments they bring it up on screen. Her balance of family and work is clearly going to be her arc for this season.

Now we go to Libby who’s only interesting facet this week is finally coming to terms with her marriage to Bill and possibly even contemplating divorce. For the rest of the episode she seems to be heavily involved in her friend Joy’s (Sarah May Pratt) marriage which she seems too interested in trying to get her to try and stay with Paul. Even trying to get Bill to try and talk to Paul which Bill recognizes as not his goddamn problem, but she tricks them into watching a game together which leads to Bill nerding out over his football card collection, still feeling uncomfortable in his own skin still. Joy ends up in the hospital at episode’s end with a brain aneurysm. What timing, there wasn’t much to go with off of that for the episode.

Masters of Sex this week takes a slow down, but keeps several things exciting for most of its characters and keeps being Showtime’s shining example of its own programming block and where the effects of the book release take us this season can only reach the sky as its giving the show some great life right now.

Tube Talk: Hannibal: The Great Red Dragon

HANNIBAL -- "The Great Red Dragon" Episode 308 -- Pictured: Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Three years later and here we are again.

SPOILERS!

Hannibal: Season 3: Episode 8: The Great Red Dragon: GRADE: B+

It seems the show itself understood that last week’s episode could function as its own series finale as this feels like a new sequel series itself rather than the latest episode of the show itself, yet it is.

We begin with Hannibal’s surrender as he goes to a happy place from his time in Florence at a young boy singing a lovely piece of music. Its his last happy memory before as we see Francis Dolarhyde discover the Great Red Dragon which awakens the voice in his head.

Then we go ahead three years later. Yes, the show time jumps to three years later and its intriguing. Now we do get the debut of Francis, but not necessarily, the Red Dragon. Richard Armitage isn’t in the episode much and doesn’t even have dialogue outside of the screaming his does in the episode and fuck he is already creepy. The opening montage of his routine and silently seeing the birth of the Red Dragon is a beautifully filmed, nicely scored, and incredibly shot sequence. His presence is very much felt and I feel like might come into full force next week. Although thanks to a reluctant Will Graham we see his might as a killer.

HANNIBAL -- "The Great Red Dragon" Episode 308 -- Pictured: Hugh Dancy as Will Graham -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Speaking of Will, he’s of course walked away in the three years since last week and is settled down with a child and married to Molly (Nina Arianda), but Jack needs his help when the Tooth Fairy is popping up, he feels compelled by Jack to help seeing as how he can get into the mindset and that is exactly what we get. That and the photos of the happy families that the Tooth Fairy has killed. Will Graham’s pendulum is swinging again in an expert sequence that really showed off what a talent in directing Neil Marshall is. The nicest touch being how he uses his flashlight and how he sees the victims as Francis saw them when the light was shined on them. I love things like that, even as he realizes so many of the familiar things, like discovering how he took his gloves off to touch the victim’s eyes before placing them with glass. It was excellent.

Hugh Dancy really shines here. He’s been amazing from the start, but this might be his finest performance as Will Graham yet. Perfectly playing his hesitancy about returning since he has the perfect life right now, or really as perfect as he can get given his life. Dancy taps into this and makes it work.

Also this means that Scott Thompson and Aaron Abrams’ Jimmy Price and Brian Zeller who, while not having any logical place in the first seven episodes, are back and are most certainly welcomed.

HANNIBAL -- "The Great Red Dragon" Episode 308 -- Pictured: Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Now on to Hannibal is seems to have his loveliest cell yet from anything we’ve seen as he’s in Chilton’s hospital, where Alana has taken a job. Thankfully Alana has a great exchange with Hannibal, and looking fly as fuck, abaout evading the death penalty before an even better exchange between Hannibal and Chilton over a lovely desert treat. Chilton is in control now and he relishes in that greatly by getting under Hannibal’s skin with the fact that the Tooth Fairy has seemed to overshadow Hannibal in the public eye. Even saying in a weird meta like sense of the show, “You’ll always have niche appeal.” Yet even admit how the Tooth Fairy might push Hannibal to be Hannibal again.

HANNIBAL -- "The Great Red Dragon" Episode 308 -- Pictured: Caroline Dhavernas as Alana Bloom -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Of course with Bryan Fuller now getting his hands on the story of the Read Dragon comes to enviable comparison to the adaptations of Manhunter, Red Dragon, and the novel itself. I’m only familiar with the films, but this show has inspired me to check out the books, mainly Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. Its already hit some memorable beats, even a reference to this shows Freddie Lounds, who I hope we see again, although one does wonder how they gonna do the flaming wheelchair again, but I believe Fuller can take this make it his own monster as Michael Mann and Brett Ratner with their versions. Though the Hannibal from the cell scenes might have their own thing to live up to. Mads Mikkelsen I believe will be more than capable of owning up to Anthony Hopkins more than he already has. Also I gotta admire, the “Hello, Dr. Lecter” / “Hello, Will” exchange made me a little giddy for what’s coming.

A much slower pace season premiere like episode helps set the stage for the last meal of Hannibal’s. Here’s hoping the chef prepared his best for last.

Tube Talk: Tyrant: The Other Brother

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Things start to get heated up.

SPOILERS!

Tyrant: Season 2: Episode 6: The Other Brother: GRADE: A-

Tyrant reaches the midway point of its second year and man what a hell of an episode to make that occasion.

As the title of the episode suggests we see the return of Rami Said and I feel like last time I didn’t highlight how much I liked the performance by actor Keon Alexander who came into the role and had some good, believable chemistry with Ashraf Barhom. His feeling of being brought into the world he’s seen from the outside felt genuinely believable and his hesitance to join it, I mean he was already doing much better things like being a UN Peacekeeper when Jamal found out about him.

So why is Rami back? Well Jamal killed Tariq and needed a new general. Yes the inevitable finally happen and it seems the maturity and collected sanity of Jamal is slipping when he finally snaps at Tariq after the deal with the Chinese seems to be on it last legs once the gas attacks are brought up. Honestly he seemed to crack before the murder when China mentions the gas attacks and Jamal without hesitation responded, “You dare play the human rights card with me, you puppet? Look to your own country for that.” Jamal finally breaks when Tariq brings up how Bassam’s words still hang around him and think of what his father would do before beating him with the golden oil derrick given to him which is symbolic on so many levels that its kinda not worth mentioning here as its so evident in the visuals itself.

Tariq’s death came as a surprise in how sudden it happened, but really its where the character was going to go since Jamal was betting himself, putting things behind him as a leaders and had seemed to hold things together, until Tariq’s interference with the gas attack. After that it was only a matter of time before the character had to go, but his clash of views with the newly reformed Jamal made for some pretty good tension between the two, but it couldn’t last and with this episode it reached its logical conclusion.

Rami is a great replacement as he quickly recruited a number of African “military advisors” to help Jamal deal with the threat of the Caliphate, but he wasn’t so keen on working for Jamal. Leila and Amira try to convince him and he feels no loyalty for Abbudin, which don’t blame him, but feels convinced to help bring a more peaceful solution to things with his U.N. background, plus maybe a chance to fulfill the coup that Bassam failed at. Of course it comes out to Ahmed and company that Rami is Jamal’s son and so we should see next week how that goes over.

The Caliphate are starting to deeply get under Jamal’s skin and its gonna be interesting to see how he’s gonna try to keep it together.

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Speaking of the Caliphate, man what development we get here. Abu Omar is season one Jamal, maybe a bit sicker. He is clearly a ruthless leader with an iron fist as we first see him at the torturing of someone for information. Abu has come in like a wrecking ball and left his mark with so many people, Ihab Rashid included, wrapped around his finger with his violent resistance of the rule of Abbudin. Most notable is his first wife Jane (Caitlin Joseph). What we learn is that she was a Western woman who came over and somehow got involved with Omar and got so twisted. She conflicts with Daliyah (Melia Kreiling) over Omar but their world views as well which makes for a fantastic confrontation between the two.

I feel like I haven’t done too much to mention that Melia Kreiling has been a great addition to the cast as Daliyah as someone who helped to keep Bassam clam and centered amongst all the crazy he was just going through. She’s been a solidly consistent character and it seems being taken by Omar will open up some great character stuff for her. Speaking of the two, the scene between them at the end could have take the episode in a whole different way of a cheap way to just show how much more evil Omar is, but thankfully is broken up by a great conflict.

Bassam, Ahmos (Nasser Memariza), and many others in the resistance of the Caliphate destroy a weapons depot and with the help of Ahmos’ son Munir (Nathan Clarke), man on the inside of the Caliphate, break out their prisoners in a very exciting and rousing action sequence. Really the most remarkable thing of the episode is the direction by Kari Skogland who frames so many shots perfectly from Jamal’s reaction to the news of the Caliphate at the beginning, the bloody washcloth on Daliyah’s hand in her confrontation with Jane, and this sequence. She made the episode look and feel great with the great performances across the board, for the most part.

The prison outbreak is a series highlight in terms of great pacing, tension, and furthering of the story at hand now that Bassam is done being a sad sack and sees that right no the Caliphate are the ones needing to be brought down, which now puts him in between the opposing sides of Jamal and the Caliphate. Sadly though we do lose Ahmos among the chaos and Bassam might put himself in the spotlight since he was recognized by Halima (Olivia Popica), who we last saw spill blood on Leila. Bassam is now the resistance leader and how that plays will be interesting to see.

As a side we get a new character in Ru’a played by Danusia Samal, who appears to replace Samira who is MIA right now and she’s instantly memorable in her charge and fight for the Caliphate resistance since her rebellious motives seems far more clearer after seeing so many of her loved ones taken from someone else’s fight. I hope there is so much of her very soon.

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This is very nearly a perfect episode and still remains one of the absolute best episodes, but we come back to Sammy. Sammy goes to court to contest his inheritance which includes disavowing his father in court, something he has no problem doing and making clear as he leaves, but tries to go and find Abdul since one night on the beach meant the world to them both.

This storyline has connection as the Caliphate are very extreme that they see homosexuality as an abomination and have many gay men held captive, including Abdul and is actually willing to pay a huge sum for his freedom. Sammy is gonna help fun the Caliphate and thus I still don’t care for his character because there seems to be nothing but pisspoor writing around him since he’s not thinking about the long term with this plan. Seems the realities of being back in Abbudin still can’t sink into him as he’s just Sammy.

With one road bump, The Other Brother is a smooth transition for the second season story of Tyrant as characters get deeper development, stories get a little tighter, and tensions rise. This was really one of the best episodes of TV I’ve seen so far this year.

Tube Talk: The Strain: S2/E2; Masters of Sex: S3/E2

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Time to keep going on.

SPOILERS!


THE STRAIN -- "By Any Means" -- Episode 202 (Airs July 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) David Bradley as Abraham Setrakian, Kevin Durand as Vasiliy Fet. CR: Michael Gibson/FX

The Strain: Season 2: Episode 2: By Any Means: GRADE: B+

This week on The Strain we further see development as to where our main characters have gone with Eph and Nora in the lab, Setrakian in search of the Occido Lumen, and Fet and Dutch taking back the city and clearing nests one building at a time. I see not better way to look at the episode than in that particular way.

Eph and Nora carry on what they set out to do last week and find a way to infect the vampires and now with two test subjects. The testing and searching I thing honestly is the highlight of the episode to show how the strain (couldn’t think of a better word I swear, of the situation is putting on people, a theme that extends throughout the episode with our protagonists, but right now its science time. Nora’s overwhelming stress and Eph’s sliding back into drinking is possibly gonna cause a meltdown of huge proportions down the road and it almost looked like it might, but luckily we swerved into realization time!

For the majority of the episode Eph appears cold and a bit single minded in his ways and honestly I liked that for Corey Stoll to play as he’s now got the best chance he’s had in a while to get rid of the vampires. Keeping the couple in cold was a smart move since in almost any situation its a good idea. People are unpredictable and you can’t imagine how one might react to such news as, “Hey, you’re gonna slowly turn into one of those creatures that’s slowly destroying the world.” Eph gets through with mentioning it could save their son and save the world, a bit much to lay on them, but hey the guilt tripping got to them. This section made for incredible tension and emotion throughout the episode. The couple themselves for whenever they appear on screen makes it gut-wrenching, particularly when Eph straps the husband down and we zoom out as distance is made clear between us and them, the extremes that must be met to insure the safety of humankind. Eph is going to go down any road possible to get shit done. It adds further weight to the story.

Thankfully they come across some pure DNA strains in the lab and working something out with amino acids, I’ll admit I got a bit lost there, synthesize a formula that appears to work. Also Zach is still a little shit and throwing hissy fits such as messing with the board at the end of the episode. Whatever.

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Fet and Dutch actually seems to connect on a really human level. They go about afternoon nest clearings and this time we settle upon a gym where an expertly done and filmed sequence goes down that includes sun grenades and decapitations. When the grenades go off they execute such a cool visual that shows the contrasts of light and dark as they kick some ass, and even some nicely creepy shots from the POV of the vampires themselves. This plot is honestly a great way of getting them to kick ass together and plus the chemistry of both performers add for some levity among the show, even when their lines aren’t exactly the best. Their scene in the pool where Dutch shows Fet how to swim felt nicely genuine for the two to further connect. Now this is a romance I’d love to follow.

Setrakian gets a mixed reaction from me. The stuff in the present far more excels than the flashbacks, but we get a connection. I expect flashbacks to be heavier used on this season given we’re now about finding what further makes The Master tick and the workings of the vampire. Still after answers about The Master, Setrakian looks over the texts he retrieved and we see he was first introduced to Palmer long ago when as a professor. Palmer put him in search of the cane and finds the cane off of someone from his concentration camp, but Palmer is the one who put Setrakian on the search for the Occido Lumen long ago that seems to have put him on his downward spiral, but I will say the flashbacks do make for a very tense confrontation between Setrakian and Palmer at the end of the episode. But really the problem with the flashbacks is how bogged down it got by the exposition of it all and while it can help to provide backstory information, it can also kinda hinder the proceedings. Seeing each of their backstories interconnect, even more hints as to them both given in said episode ending confrontation, is ripe for excellent storytelling in of itself, should it really connect to the current day proceedings at all.

Palmer’s Freedom Center opens, there’s a councilwoman showing up who may or may not interconnect with Fet and Dutch given their shared views, and Stoneheart is really back in charge of the city. Those further build the world and mythology, but also kinda slow the show down this week. Though next weeks seems to be promising as Kelly has now put her feelers to hunt for Zach. This should be engaging.


Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson and Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters in Masters of Sex (season 3, episode 2) - Photo: Warren Feldman/SHOWTIME Photo ID: MastersofSex_302_0028

Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 2: Three’s a Crowd: GRADE: B

Well we get an answer right away into the episode, George is who got Virginia pregnant. They shared a moment after talking about Henry at the lake and thus, baby. But that is the keyword, pregnant. Virginia says that she’s pregnant, not that she’s having a baby with George.

And thus we come to the prospect of abortion in this episode and before we continue, if there is going to be any discussion on this very sensitive topic in the comments, try to keep it civil, and no I will not be making my own thoughts on the situation known. I’m here to review the piece of television I have just viewed.

Now this week was a clear focus on Virginia herself as her pregnancy is going to make a pure impact of the proceedings, most notably the Masters as they each seem to have different reactions as to how it will affect them in terms of the book’s release. Bill with them seeing how they will be perceived, more over her and Libby with what people might think of her with how close her husband works with the good doctor. Both come after Virginia decides to keep the baby in an effort to make up for what happened with her own two children before. What I will praise the show for is how it lets Virginia come to her decision, but also I kinda don’t like how it came at the moment she was on the table and was asked if she felt anything after being given anesthesia. That to me smacked of hackneyed writing and terrible circumstances. Comparisons have been made to the time this happened with Joan on Mad Men. Both shows didn’t dance around the issue at hand and hand reasons for each character to not go through, though both also had them take place so conveniently at the time it was to do so. I just don’t like that sort of writing since it can send off the wrong sort of thing to particular viewers as to what the writer of the episode says about abortion. However it retroactively comes back to being respectable since it didn’t pull any bullshit to have the baby miscarriage the day of the appointment. That would have automatically given this episode to a D+ at best. Though the one other thing that bothered me was how Tessa called Virginia the worst mother before it happened. Sure just an argument over a car dispute, but that didn’t stop my eyes from rolling deep into the back of my head from that being said. UGH!

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Now for the rest of the episode, its kinda weak sauce. First Bill seems to want George to fake remarry Virginia in an attempt to make things better and while he’s willing, Virginia still hates him, but the weak sauce is served up when Bill’s client this week is the Shah of Iran who can’t seem to conceive and she’s upset since he will go after a new wife and can’t bear to see the person she loves be with another since she can’t provide life. It feels a bit too on the nose and clear its resembling the situation Bill is having with Virginia and George despite he thought of the idea in order to have any negative press on the book die down. They all seem really comfortable to go with the lie for the sake of the book. The book is the other thing central in this episode. Its central to the show, but really comes to the forefront this week.

The writing this weeks seemed to be weak outside of Virginia’s story in all honestly. Even to George asking what happened to the Virginia he used to know and she replies that she grew up. Yeah it was another eye rolling moment. Even the metaphor of the book that Bill uses to help calm Virginia as she goes into labor. It was true to Bill’s character, but it felt odd and really seemed more fitting for Bill to sing Danny Boy to distract her in a moment of genuine laughter. The scene between Bill and Virginia in her hospital room is nicely done as its one the few highlights that show something the show can do well and that’s their chemistry. Sheen and Caplan confront their character’s true problems, how it shaped them to be completely opposites but great equals to each other as well. Its scenes like this that really show what I love about the show. Their plans to further educate the world clear as crystal, they plan to march forward with their fucked up lives staying out of the public eye.

Not much is even done around the office aside from the Shah. Betty is only there for one scene and Maggie Grace shows up to make things different as Virginia’s replacement whom I can’t seem to recall at the time of this writing.

What the episode was about was lies and the lies built to help insure the success of Masters and Johnson in their book release and the lies they tell themselves. No telling what could happen once they crack. The ending shot saying so much.


Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson and Isabelle Fuhrman as Tessa in Masters of Sex (season 3, episode 2) - Photo: Michael Desmond/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: MastersofSex_302_0343

The Strain and Masters of Sex progress things further this week and while each had a couple of missteps in their progression, its good to see them moving ahead on the firm ground to deepening the stories they’re telling.

Tube Talk: Hannibal: Digestivo

HANNIBAL -- "Digestivo" Episode 307 -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

One story ends so another can begin.

SPOILERS!

Hannibal: season 3: Episode 7: Digestivo: GRADE: A+

Lets get this out of the way, NBC is a bag of dicks. The reason this review appears now on this Sunday aside from the usual Friday is because in addition to NBC canceling the show, they decided to move it off to Saturday nights for the rest of the season to burn it off. FUCK! So he NBC, just fuck you. You seriously over the past few years have shown how to mismanage what a good thing you have because this latest Hannibal episode is a wonderful highlight as to the ending of one storyline and what could in of itself be a great ending to the series itself.

Digestivo really is an ending to the ongoing story we’ve been following for a while, much to the point that this episode itself could function as a series finale in some odd way if it were to end now, but starting next week we will now have six episodes featuring Francis Dolarhyde AKA the Red Dragon, but really we should focus on the here and now and the end of one Mason Verger.

This week was all about the conclusion of the narrative this season had set up in the second season from the moment Hannibal fed Mason his own face, and to Will’s dogs as well (a moment that is one of the few they deeply disturbs me among the show). The opening of the show, shot expertly well by episode director Adam Kane, shows us just how Jack and Will got out of eating Will’s own brains before being brought back to Maryland at Muskrat Farm and it only gets crazier from there and one thing becomes evident, Mason Verger really knows how to go out with a bang. He plans to eat Hannibal and keeps him tied up like a pig, gonna take Will Graham’s face for his own, and even puts Margot’s eggs into a large pig. Man I’m kinda gonna miss him, but he’s served his narrative purpose here. As stated Joe Anderson has stood in incredibly for Michael Pitt this season and taken over Mason with such force that he quickly out did him.

Mason’s hubris and obsessions did him in, particularly his obsession with reproduction. More than alluded to a few times, reproduction and lineage has been a bit of a recurring theme on the show, but not one of the major ones until touched upon with say Abigail or the Vergers. The reveal as to where Margot’s eggs are was certainly a shock and in another one of the few things to unsettle me from viewing Hannibal, they show them removing it only to discover it is stillborn. The glee in Mason’s face when Margot tells him she found the surrogate is delightfully sick and twisted, but the joke is on him as with the help of a freed Hannibal, stimulated Mason’s prostate via a cattle prod. So congrats to Margot and most likely surrogate Alana! Mason’s very phallic symboled pet eel helps do him in as he’s drowned. Like Alana said, Mason played with his food and gave it an opprotunity to bite back.

HANNIBAL -- "Digestivo" Episode 307 -- Pictured: Joe Anderson as Mason Verger -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Speaking of Alana she has her confrontation with Hannibal before the events of doing in Mason and helps to further show what amazing character development she has had this season. There he is tied in a cage, pocket knife in hand, and only Margot as the witness. Yet her humanity is somehow intact. She wanted to do in Hannibal to save Will, a fact she brings up to Will herself when they have a little chat at the dinner table. She’s forced herself to getting on Hannibal’s level so that she can finally be in control over him and hold his fate in her hand, but knows that Mason is the worser evil here. The moment in which she lets him go is so beautifully stated in that Alana could never have understood Hannibal.

Hannibal and Will are free from Mason and have one last therapy session. These last few minutes to me could honestly be a satisfying series finale. Will is finally able to let himself out of the cage that he’s built for himself and lock Hannibal away in it. He no longer wants contact or thoughts about the good doctor. For three seasons now we have seen these two on the opposite side of a coin and now they are no longer that. Hannibal knows time is able and willingly surrenders himself to Jack when he comes by Will’s home to arrest him. Its a pretty lovely moment actually that shows the growth and progression of the character, especially from this season alone. Hannibal has always been one step ahead of so many people, letting them believe they were in charge, but now they are. Hannibal is the pawn. The scene that Will and Hannibal have is exceptionally well written and perfectly shot and directed beautifully. It gets across so much in so little that it still pains me to see how less of a shit NBC could give to its finest program right now. Its maybe my favorite scene in the entirety of the show.

Even Chiyoh is now free, admitting there are some beasts that can’t be caged to Hannibal after admitting he ate his sister, but didn’t kill her. But deep down there has to be some part of her pleased that Hannibal will now be locked in the same sort of cage he made her look after.

HANNIBAL -- "Digestivo" Episode 307 -- Pictured: Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Hannibal breaks its narrative in half now for the season for the next six weeks the great Red Dragon is coming. Where the show goes in that direction remains to be unseen but hopefully with these final six episodes we get something truly memorable.

Tube Talk: Tyrant: A Viper in the Palace

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Tyrant spins its wheels.

SPOILERS!

Tyrant: Season 2: Episode 5: A Viper in the Palace: GRADE: C

Tyrant this week started out with a tightly shot and edited opening that picked up on events of last week’s ending with Abu Omar, Ihab, and the rest of the Army of the Caliphate coming to Tal Jiza and show that they will bring the fight to Jamal. The Caliphate really is this week’s shot in the arm of an otherwise kinda standard Tyrant episode that kinda lost my interest throughout most of it. They are the more fully realized analogue to terror groups than the show as done before. When it was Ihab as the leader of his own group, its was intriguing from the more personal side as it was about avenger his father while also wanting change within his own settings. With Abu Omar this is the more radical approach and has awaken something deep in Ihab himself. This works everything you’d expect from something of the likes terror groups around the world from filmed executions, recruiting Western Muslims, conscripting men who they just “liberated”, and taking others women for themselves, all of which happens during their time.

The Caliphate also serve to even more so than when Ihab was leading the resistance in Abuddin show the black and white side of what their doing compared to the ongoings in Abuddin. Really they seem more crazed about this than Jamal from last season might have been. The fanatics of the Caliphate will now provide the season with a clear focus on its main story.

The appearance of the Caliphate gives Barry the push he needs to get out of the village and gets a tag along with a wife of one of Abu Omar’s officers. Their journey is both a plus and a positve this week in the development of Bassam’s characer. Its brought up how really he’s best at running away. Running away from his family to help others, running away from his family to protect them, running away from there, he’s great at going in the other direction and while I’m glad his time in the village was seemingly cut short it wasn’t doing much for him as much as I had hoped when the time came for that to happen, yet it also made him realize he needs to stop running. After helping the runaway get to the Lebanon border instead of him Bassam seems like he’s going to finish what he started, which promises to be great since he’s unaware of the change of heart that Jamal has had since leaving Bassam in the dessert.

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As said that’s really all the excitement there was for the week. We seen that Molly and company have arrived in Abuddin, with no Emma, which begs the question, is there even really anything for her to do on this show anymore?

Jamal is even more disappointing this week as he just scowls and Tariq for what he did in making things a lot worse with his meddling. Jamal realizes how much more he needs the illusion of being a good leader as the oil fields begin to open up. Really his story doesn’t amount to too much this week and while slow down is nice, with Jamal he’s a character that feels like he needs always needs a fire to put out each week and we barely got a lit match in this episode. How Jamal will deal with the Caliphate remains unseen, but I believe it’ll lead him to once again embrace his inner demons and become crazed again. Stop at nothing to hold on to his power. It’d be something.

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Tyrant suffered its first real blow in a while with this lackluster episode. While it gives the main story a kick in the ass, it couldn’t hold up the other weaker stories of the episode, one of which just got thrown in at the last damn minute. Tyrant stayed in one place this week and hopefully can get moving again next week.