Everything and everyone is breaking down.
The Strain: Season 2: Episode 10: The Assassin: GRADE: A-
The Assassin was exactly the episode The Strain needed at this time and point as it nears the end of its second season. Tight focusing on the important parts of the story, high tension, and raised stakes. This episode brings us to the culmination of Eph’s assassination attempt against Palmer and Setrakian’s hunt for the Occido Lumen. There finally feels like there are some stakes within the narrative where the stories conclude this week
But first on to said assassination which as we all know is gonna go tits up and does show in the best way that even seems to screw over Palmer. Eph and Dutch are the ones going to carry this out and I actually liked the pairing if not for the sparkling chemistry that seems to shine among these two. They are the vampire killing duo I never knew I wanted. But yeah they seriously work really well together and provide some good levity to the grim proceedings that leads to the shooting of Coco Marchand. Now I haven’t exactly been the biggest fan of love this season, even Eph seems to confront Dutch on it and I guess she said something you could say is meaningful but was kinda eh. Palmer and Coco have been on the same level of interest as the love triangle and whatever Gus’ thing is for the season, but now its taken a turn for the better. With Eph’s misfire Palmer is desperate and begs to Eichhorst to let The Master allow Coco to become a vampire. I mean eternity might be pointless after all if you don’t have someone to spend it with. Master complies, but I think to only dig Palmer in deeper to his hand. Palmer has show a tiny bit of resistance against his overlords ever since getting a spring in his step and this seems to be just the thing for him to be put back into place and further honor their settled upon agreement and maybe Coco as a vampire will make her worth caring about and interesting since I really could have done without the character before this latest development.
The one problem I did have was after the botched attempt how they were caught by that detective Eph bumped into. I mean how did he know unless Palmer tipped him off? He was then later paid off by Palmer to empty the precinct so he and Eph and have a conversation but unless we knew that then what? It just took me out of things for moment before I got pulled back in by said conversation with Eph and Palmer and that is exceptionally well done with a sense of honest urgency, something that seemed to have been missing from most of the season, mainly in the first half. Their desperateness comes out in their words to one another and the performances by Corey Stoll and Jonathan Hyde are exceptional in this moment, showcasing them beautifully. Eph and Palmer are men of purpose, Eph to take down the man who has ruined his life and Palmer to save the love of his life, which again while I haven’t been a fan of said storyline, its given Palmer something else to do than be a lackey. This is possibly the best scene to enough the character in the whole series.
As for our other main plot Setrakian and the rest finally make a big push for further finding the Occido Lumen which made me happy to see that come right back into the forefront once again. For something so important to the narrative of the show for our heroes, the Lumen sure gets placed on the backburner a lot doesn’t it? While not as intriguing, its still good. Of course there is more than one Rudyard Fonescu in New York City and of course the last apartment is the one its in but the sense of urgency and way it builds to its conclusion is also wonderfully done to give some nice back and forth with the crew and even more Fet one-liners which I’m sure we can all agree there aren’t enough of. Setrakian finds it but is then knocked out by a mysterious figure, possibly Rudyard Fonescu? We’ll find out soon, but it also adds more mystery to the storyline that has also been missing whenever its not featured prominently and give the show some weigh in these last bit of episodes.
Is Setrakian and using worms to stay alive ever gonna come back into play?
The episode even ends on a great scene that builds suspense in a disturbing image as Dutch is slowly being pulled by the chain into Eichhorst’s death trap with delight coming across his face. It makes me excited for next week.
The Strain finally picks itself back up over the course of these last two weeks after slogging through a bit and feels ready to be the show it wants to be. Nothing can be predicted this time around unlike last season and so the story possibilities for the remaining weeks feels exciting with tension, meaning, and intrigue all around.
Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 10: Through a Glass, Darkly: GRADE: B
Bill is in full breakdown mode now and it like this episode might have just set the tone for the last part of the season.
Both Bill and Virginia seem to spiral out of control but its Bill’s that the more compelling unnerving since Virginia’s makes no honest sense. Bill’s mounting stress from everything and the continued absence from Virginia is causing him hallucinate his father. Oh what joy. Pressuring him in how to get Virginia back, which is Bill’s main objective for this episode, mainly by admitting to Virginia that the study itself might be a failure. He ensists that they themselves find a way to make the program work, how they usually discover the best methods by doing it themselves. This both for the study and his selfish needs and it works. They may have stumbled upon a way to make it work and possibly be intimate again, well until they have another huge disagreement over the already in place protocol when question Lester, who really adds nothing here but more squabbling at home with Jane.
Bill continues spiraling until he sees Virginia leave with Dan Logan then drinks himself stupid and goes to have sex with Nora. Finally, a natural conclusion to this until Nora ruins it by telling him to tell her he loves her. Erection killer game on point, Nora. Bill seems to have a moment of clarity in saying, “The only thing I’ve done right is loving someone so completely with as much of my broken soul as I can muster. And I can’t give up on that or I’ll have nothing.” Nora then mentions she had no idea he loved Libby that much. Oh Nora. Sheen keeps giving spectacular performances here in what I’ll admit is kinda not as strong a season as the previous one. Bill’s mindset is going to get more and more fragile now and its fascinating.
Now for Lizzy Caplan and Virginia’s breakdown which just makes no sense to me at all. She is told by Dan Logan that he knows about her and Bill because of Tessa which leads her to acknowledge that Tess knows about her and Bill. Honestly this just wasn’t as compelling as what happens with Bill’s mindset and that the lies she’s been telling her daughter aren’t so much lies anymore. This affair has been going on for a good long while now and she’s kept it secret herself. I get she’d be upset that she knows this dirty secret, but I really just didn’t feel much of anything for this development in the episode. Lizzy Caplan doesn’t really plays this as well as it should and maybe its because really that it doesn’t feel compelling from the writing of the situation itself. Though she does discover this after find out Tess has been seeing a boy, said boy from the oral incident, for five months now. That happened and I kinda wasn’t that invest in the Tessa part aside from Dan Logan’s talking to Matt himself about sex and how he should just use her and maybe even consider her own feelings aside from his own.
Now Libby gets to really shine here and thank you writers! Caitlin Fitzgerald gets to have good material and Libby gets to have happiness. Its her 40th birthday and its all over the place. First after a afternoon with Paul she thinks she’s put into a wife role and running errands oh but its a ruse to plan a surprise show performance with her kids, Johnny looking far happier than usual, but then Bill gives her a trip to Chicago, alone. Bill seems to think this is the norm of things. I mean he’s got work to worry about. This seems very much in character for both how they feel in that moment and also well a honesty. Its maybe that moment that Libby feels like all is lost. But then Paul proposes! Yes he purposes on her birthday, willing to wait for all the necessary steps to happen in order for it all to happen. This moment really felt honest and rewarding for all that Libby has had to swallow this year and for her to truly move on from what she felt with Robert.
Elsewhere, Nora seems to have strayed from the righteous path as she knows the Bible thumper that’s harassing Bill and Virginia’s lobby. I really couldn’t care about that. Barton though I do care as a night out with the ultrasound technician turns sour at a bar with him hightailing before shit goes down as he still feels some resentment on being a gay man in that time, but then it takes a turn for the better with Betty who asks him to be her and Helen’s OBGYN and opens to Barton in order to reach out to him not as a doctor, but as a friend. Its an honestly touching moment when she opens up that it then brings this episode to good close.
Masters of Sex gets ready to close shop for the year and its got its foot in the right direction, give or take a couple speedbumps.