A three day weekend gives both shows a boost.
As you noticed this went up a day later. All is fine, I just felt like indulging in the three day weekend granted by Labor Day. Well charged and rested, lets talk about some TV!
The Strain: Season 2: Episode 9: The Battle for Red Hook: GRADE: B+
Without the addition of Gus, Angel, and Quinlan, The Strain this weeks feels more centered and focused on the story they tell here with said aforementioned battle. Well okay slightly focused, but we’ll get to that.
I gotta say that the trip to Washington, while not as exciting when it happened, has done wonders in terms of after effects, such as Nora’s attitude towards Eph now in light of what he revealed and his talk with Setrakian on their way to talk to Councilwoman Feraldo. Its really been a great turning point of development and even more interest in the character and seeing where and how far the path he’s on will take him. Also more great work from Corey Stoll that just goes to show how he’s one of the best working actors today
Speaking of effects, it seems last week’s invasion has done Zach some good in development. Again my problem is with the writing of the character and now that he’s see how dear old momma has held up since getting bitten, it seems he might be redeemable.
On to the majority of the episode which is Eichhorst and crew shutting off the power to the UV lights around the borders of Red Hook which leads to said battle that while brief and maybe slightly misleading from the episode title, is nicely done. Once shit starts to go down the show really does kick into full gear. Its well staged and has a great sense of tension that really helps to give some more meat to Councilwoman Feraldo’s character as she is faced with the reality of what she’s doing. I’m more than glad for that and able to continue seeing more sides of her character.
The police and citizens of Red Hook handle a good majority of the vampire attack with some help from Dutch as our merry band of vampire hunters are set off into two separate stories. First being Fet, Nora, and Zach going to get the power back on and yet again being ambushed by Kelly, but only after they are able to get the UV lights back on, just in time to help out on the battle. Zach again seems to be coming to grips very well of the fact that Kelly seems fully gone and its such a great relief that we can have a cohesive unit now. Well as cohesive as you can have, there is still so much tension among the group itself. Though I like how Eichhorst is further subplanting the idea in Kelly’s head how Nora has become Zach’s mom now, thus making her a more dangerous threat to exert that its her child, said much more dangerous Kelly coming out in the cat and mouse game she and Fet played before she got chased off. This I feel like will have great play down the road for the remainder of the episodes.
To me the episode is best with Setrakian and Eichhorst, finally ready to settle it once and for all. Eichhorst makes his way to the hideout waiting to truly end it all. Its so good, their standoff with their banter is greatly done and I really just love how David Bradley and Richard Sammel play off each other. They have a wonderful dynamic together. This doesn’t go too long, Eph’s intervention at trying to snipe Eichhorst sends him on his own trail and plays in his own cat and mouse game with Eph that is kinda better paced and has some great slow burn tension, even getting deeply personal with how Eph thought about not really wanting to be a father at first, even when Kelly was pregnant. Now that is some cold shit to use that as an advantage. Eichhorst would do well in politics. It culminates on the roof where all seems lost of Eph before Eichhorst is outflanked by Setrakian and lives to fight another day. That whole mini section of the show at the end was a delight to me, it just did so many things right and got me even more engaged in these characters specifically.
That said, I’m not a fan of Nikki being back. I knew she’d have to appear again but this whole love triangle with her and Dutch and Fet is doing nothing for me and really the scenes between Dutch and Nikki bog down the episode for me and take away lots of the interest that was built up. Even Nikki’s saving of Dutch from getting turned amongst the battle, didn’t care one bit. I think this is what held me back from outright giving it an A or A- since its so prominent within the narrative of the episode.
This episode was a step in the right direction for The Strain. It gave some much needed urgency to the proceedings and feels like it can put its foot back into the right direction that it needs to go in. Finally implicating the vampires as more of a threat not to our focused individuals, but really everyone in the city. Character development as well makes this a very strong addition to the season so here’s hoping it can keep things going like this.
Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 9: High Anxiety: GRADE: A-
I believe the recurring theme for all the characters on this week’s excellent episode of Masters of Sex is that shit’s sad. Sadness really just follows everyone involved around tonight and it leads them to freaking out, kinda just going over the edge.
That’s played off right from the start as Virginia and Bill are having some strives together, professionally and personally. Bill shows up in Virginia’s house just a mess and points out how much he depends and needs Virginia as he falls apart when estranged. He’s so desperate he’ll take Virginia’s fake orgasm when they’re together as a comforting solace, even though he’s most likely aware of that.
They are both not happy with diverging paths, Bill starting the surrogate program and her continuation of the study with Dan Logan. He’s sorry, but he ain’t shutting down shit because well Bill is still one stubborn bastard. He feels like he’s still losing Virginia and really relies on Betty to spy on her for him, which she of course writes off because she legitimately has much better things to do and worry about herself.
This plays into Bill’s story all over as he does go head first into the study and focuses all his efforts towards Nora, the star pupil of the program. He is pleased to all hell with her and the attitude that she gives off about being involved. Well he did until she went too far with a new client, when she touches what the clients says is “the only erection he’ll ever get”. This leads to Bill yelling, feeling as if yet something else in his life didn’t go his way, that its all falling apart, until Emily Kinney honestly pulls out the best acting I’ve really seen her do. That really shined through when admitting to Bill that him yelling at her reminded him of her father, even admits her past boyfriends show similar behavior. Bill seems to be more sympathetic here in this moment given his own abusive father. It sets up a deeper connection for them, allowing for more interest to be shared, possibly more than professional between them.
This part of Bill’s story for the episode worked for better than what goes on at home for the most part. His talk with Libby over booze is actually really good and has walls being broken down between the two that desperately needed, even if it involved getting drunk with her already drunk husband. The Johnny stuff, yikes was that not at all good. Yes the bullied is becoming the bully, but I think it can be done better. Johnny yelling at Dennis to get out after seeking help from Bill and even embarrassing him in front of a couple of girls at school. Damn dude, like what the hell? It just didn’t grab me so much.
Now for Virginia who is sad about the loss she might be feel in Dan Logan going back to New York and how much its fucking with her psychologically. She has a man that seems truly interested in her, yet feels unable to really emote that, a character flaw that still haunts her. She even brings up his marriage as they lay in the tub and apparently they have an understanding. Is really no marriage ever successful on this show? Goddamn. She thinks of the brilliant plan to try a different stage of the experiment of a placebo effect with the scene and yet it doesn’t make as much a dent for them as their previous work has and Dan becomes aware that. Lizzy Caplan plays Virginia here as strong in her defiance against Bill but honestly feels a bit more honest in her inability of truly opening up with Dan and admitting she wants him here, that she is honestly better off with him. Really she can’t seem to keep both relationships with Bill and Dan personal, they are purely professional. Even when Bill and Virginia are often together its professional, especially in their sex scene from earlier to keep Bill stable. Dan saying, “What if I keep coming here, because we love each other?” Virginia might have a personal relationship yet again, well outside of Tessa I guess, but still.
Meanwhile Austin really is losing his shit. He’s lost full custody of his children and shows up at Betty and Helen’s as a drunken, hilarious mess. Really I think Teddy Sears is a highlight here as he stretches his acting muscles so well. His drunken self is hilarious and his explaining the seemingly suicide note that Helen found was him doodling as a depressed person, but also he acknowledges his fuck ups and that he’s lost without his children. He honestly was my favorite part of the episodes. He’s nobody’s father, son, husband, he’s nothing, until Helen reveals that last week’s deflowering got her pregnant! Things are looking up Austin and I’m so glad there was more of Betty and Helen because this is really brightening things up around here.
Libby however once again, saddled with kinda just meh story. Joy has officially kicked the bucket and as Paul puts flowers at her grave Libby is conveniently at Robert’s grave and that was actually the nicest part of her subplot. She wants Paul to be happy as well, doing so in setting him up with the mother of one of his peewee football players and wants back in after seeing them laughing together. Really that’s just about it, I’m not truly feeling too compelled by this subplot. Though it is noticeable how much the loss of Robert still affects Libby given that you can see how much she didn’t have passion for her tryst with Paul.
Masters of Sex has a very fine chapter this week while balancing a couple stories that don’t quite get up to snuff. Its fascinating to see the characters at their worst and helps give them so many great layers.