The Strain gets ready to close shop and Masters of Sex does it poorly.
The Strain: Season 2: Episode 12: Fallen Light: GRADE: C+
A show like The Strain needs to use its PENULTIMATE(!) episode of a season to really amp up the tension, lead our characters on the road to where they need to go before the finale, bring tension to a full 11. Fallen Light fails at doing all of that.
The one bit of tension that is fairly prominent and will pay off for next week is the Occido Lumen which will be contested over a bidding war between Setrakian and Eichhorst and each side with its own set of drama. Turns out Palmer and Coco’s gift of eternal, which admittedly I didn’t expect so props to this episode for genuinely surprising me there and Quinlan isn’t trusting of Setrakian to uphold their deal so he wants Gus to convince him and if that doesn’t work, straight up kill him and hand him the book. Now that right there should have been all over the episode a lot more. This sets up tension and has expectations of amazing conflict for the finale next week.
The only other bit of that here was Mayor Lyle being offed and Justine being risen up through the ranks in Palmer’s plan to run security in New York city. That’s intriguing.
Not so intriguing is a full focus the current love lives of the show. First to Eph and Nora whose meeting is explained in flashbacks from ten years ago with a brief return of Sean Astin, who I admit I was pleased to see on here again. Fleshing out their story and including the build up towards Eph’s divorce was just so boring. Their romance hasn’t been a fixture on the show for sometime and to see it come right back up is jarring on the episode plot to say the least. It just doesn’t really seem to work here as I never feel invested. Same goes for Dutch walking out on Fet and then Nikki walking out on Dutch. It was emotional framework that should be building up for next week, but it just doesn’t have the legs to hold itself up to be an important factor on the story here. I wanted to care, but I just don’t.
Another problem is Quinlan himself. Quinlan is by far the most engaging thing of season three and he and another great idea in the Silver Angel have been given a disservice by being saddled with Gus for the season. The Silver Angel should be amazing, not a story accessory, it can expand the show. Gus and Angel’s breakout of the prisoners isn’t at all as cool as I had hoped. Sure they have to fend off some vampires, but its just okay. The whole sequence is. I feel like The Strain really squanders the moments where it needs to be big and it just holds back. Don’t hold back, go all in!
The Strain limps its way towards the end of the season and that is not at all how it should be setting its endgame for the year up. This finale is gonna need to really be something.
Masters of Sex: Season 3: Episode 12: Full Ten Count: GRADE C
Masters of Sex this season has been playing with its history a lot and my thing is as long as you can still tell a compelling narrative with how you’re playing with facts, its all fine by me, its good. That said, this finale was just all kinds of wrong in so many ways. It barely skates by with its grade thanks to excellent performances, but I think this was a completely poor way to leave things.
As expected Bill is brought in on the wild stretch of charges of molesting Dennis, but prostitution and pandering charges with the surrogacy program. Nora as it turns out is involved with recurring Bible thumper Ronald Sturgis and tricks a police officer to listening in to Bill handing her money for the rent as paying her for her services. As much as I thought the Bible group being annoying because its yet again fear mongering and spreading Christians, fitting for repressed 60s, but still, I put up with that a lot within my own personal life and hometown. It just felt like such a reach around to make for conflict in the finale to make sure we can make this a finale that means something except it doesn’t in that regard. The only thing good it led to was Virginia rightfully calling her out on her bullshit. That’s all. This was all a big stretch to help create conflict where there could have been internal conflict within the office with Bill and Virginia dealing with their bullshit while putting on a face for the press conference about their new book.
Nora was a pure plot device to make this happen and doesn’t help Emily Kinney’s case as an actress at all. In fact the Bible group were just plot devices and not that interesting of plot devices which makes their role in the finale here even worse to me.
Speaking of acting, that’s the one saving grace of this finale. In particular the scene between Bill and Libby in the police station when he confesses about his affair to Libby. Her reaction is laughter, knowing all along of what was between the two of them and seems to finally come around to sever ties with Bill. It’s a very powerful scene between Michael Sheen and Caitlin Fitzgerald where they finally have it out about what a sham of a marriage they have had for the past few years. It’s also great for Bill realizing how bad he is, going head first without ever thinking of the consequences. Both come to realize their true selves and what that’s done to one another. They are broken. Bill losing grip on trying to control everything and Libby losing grip on her family.
Bill and Virginia’s conflicts are the other highlight as they have great confrontations across the episode about all that’s gone on this past season. It’s really great stuff that made up for much I didn’t care about her finally choosing Dan Logan. I’ve felt over that by now, even with last week’s excellent episode. This only makes for heightened drama to add to the ending scene where Bill goes to get Virginia to bring her back before the charges against Bill are made public. Bill finally takes the advice of his dad via dreams to stay down for the count and stop getting hit. End of season. Yeah that’s where we leave the series for the year. I’m left hollow by the ending of the season. Not feeling a sense of waiting or anticipation for what is next, but really nothing. I have no real reason to be excited now.
Also Barton and Jonathan are a thing that’s really just an after thought in this episode.
Where the finale really fails in how it brings up the conflict they choose to go with for the finale. It feels like much of the season itself, unsure of where it really wanted to go for where it needed to go. Something so much better could have been done and really I expected better of the show. I hope season four can pick up fast.