Recap: The Walking Dead 6.15, "East"

Mar 28, 2016 by Oliver Ward

(Warning: this post contains spoilers.)

With so much anticipation for next week’s “Last Day on Earth,” it’s difficult to focus only on the second-to-last episode of the season. Ignoring as much as possible the imminent arrival of Negan and Lucille teased in the promo for the upcoming finale, “East” both closes the sixth season’s philosophical narrative and sets the stage for massive events that could drastically alter the dynamic of the show (as such, the last episode may seem like an introduction to a new, even more brutal series). In “East,” this feeling of finality is reinforced by the autumn scenery under heavy grey skies and every conversation between characters reads like a warning of some reap-what-you-sow reckoning doubtlessly underway.

“It’s all a circle: everything gets a return,” Morgan tells... Read More

Recap: The Walking Dead 6.14, "Twice as Far"

Mar 21, 2016 by Oliver Ward

(Warning: this post contains spoilers.)

The season finale promises to be an epic bloodbath, so in order to save some oomph for later while still pushing the narrative toward said disaster with “Twice as Far,” fans got a plodding, dual storyline episode that suddenly takes off in the final fifteen minutes.

Storyline A: Denise convinces Rosita and Daryl to lead her to a gift-shop / apothecary so she can finally get Tara some Orange Crush get more medicine for Alexandria. Covered in bloody handprints, the apothecary looks like hell, but the only walker inside is, well, not actually a walker. It’s mostly a pile of decomposing mush with a cast on its foot-mush. Still, they get the medicine and ultimately Denise finds that can of soda she’s been asking... Read More

Recap Digest: Better Call Saul 2.5, "Rebecca"

Mar 15, 2016 by Alex Castle

There has been an ongoing discussion among critics as the second season of Better Call Saul goes on about the incongruity of its two main stories: the misadventures in the frustratingly buttoned-down Arizona legal world of James McGill, Esq. and the slow entry of brokenhearted ex-cop Mike Ehrmentraut into the Arizona underworld. Absent Mike’s high-stakes dealings with Nacho and the Salamancas, Jimmy’s exploits would make a top-notch legal drama, but it can be hard to focus on the ins and outs of document review when you’re expecting another scene about Mike, The Badass to goose the excitement level a hundred notches.

This week’s episode, “Rebecca,” almost directly addresses that complaint by putting the exciting stuff on ice and focusing almost entirely on Kim Wexler, who is determined to build... Read More

Recap: The Walking Dead 6.13, “The Same Boat”

Mar 14, 2016 by Oliver Ward

With three episodes remaining in a big-and-promising-to-get-even-bigger season, it makes sense to offer a bottle episode aptly titled “The Same Boat,” which focuses mainly on Carol and Maggie. Carol was MIA for a couple of episodes while Maggie’s deal with Gregory at Hilltop set in motion the entire attack on the Saviors’ compound. Both of them have lost time to make up for and feelings of guilt to explore (and no doubt the production savings will go toward an explosive finale in just a few weeks).

Eighty percent of this episode takes place in a single room in a safe house where Maggie and Carol are held captive by four Saviors: Paula (aka the kid from Dune), Michelle, Molly and Donnie. Bleeding from a gunshot wound, Donnie loses consciousness... Read More

Recap: The Walking Dead 6.12, "Not Tomorrow Yet"

Mar 07, 2016 by Oliver Ward

The Walking Dead has rarely – actually, almost never – been about the music, but “Not Tomorrow Yet” makes a point of reminding fans that, zombie apocalypse or not, a quality soundtrack never hurts. Because rival channel HBO now has Vinyl in the same timeslot, perhaps the bosses over at AMC decided to invest in some licensing fees instead of just woodsy background noise and zombie snarls. The episode opened with Parsonsfield and ended with Hozier, and in between there was a pulsing synth track that perfectly underscored the intensity of Rick’s attack on the Saviors.

The attack on the Saviors returns The Walking Dead to a familiar state of moral uncertainty. Were the Alexandrians justified in launching a preemptive strike on the Saviors? Or will... Read More

Recap: The Walking Dead 6.10, “The Next World”

Feb 22, 2016 by Oliver Ward

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Warning: this post contains spoilers from the most recent episode of The Walking Dead. Watch the episode on Sling on-demand before you read.

Well, that was probably bound to happen. In a show where shocking deaths have become commonplace, the biggest shock of all comes when two characters hook up.

After the inevitable tragedy of the mid-season premiere, the following episode offered a lighter (clearly much lighter) leap forward to a time when Carl is mostly healed, the streets of Alexandria are zombie-free, the wall is once again fully operational, and Rick and Michonne spend their mornings discussing toothpaste and their nights… Well, Jesus (newcomer Tom Payne) certainly got an eyeful, to say the least.

Perhaps because Andrea – who is still alive and in... Read More

Recap: The Walking Dead 6.9, "No Way Out"

Feb 16, 2016 by Oliver Ward

Critics called the mid-season return the best episode of the entire series and in many respects, it was. The season-long process of splitting the narrative into isolated perspectives finally paid off with a courageous battle for Alexandria that brought together all of the primary and secondary characters, united in their fight against a massive herd of walkers. Even if the episode fell slightly short of such high praise, fans were treated to a finely crafted exploration of the series’ primary themes of loss, redemption and unification.

The spectacle and emotional elements did not disappoint, either. Daryl upgraded from a crossbow to an RPG launcher in the first five minutes – and immediately used his new weapon to undiplomatically solve the confrontation with Negan’s men; Glenn and Maggie reunited once... Read More

Recap Digest: True Detective 2.7, "Black Maps and Motel Rooms"

Aug 03, 2015 by Alex Castle

Last week, when consoling a young boy whose father had died, Frank Semyon told him, “Sometimes a thing happens that splits your life. There’s a before and an after.” As this sprawling, complicated mess of a season rounds third base, True Detective is finally easing up on the question-asking and getting into some question-answering, as the mystery starts to get a little less mysterious and the characters begin to settle into what the “after” is going to look like.

Unfortunately for Taylor Kitsch’s closeted commando Paul Woodrugh, the after is going to have to be the afterlife, as he’s mercilessly gunned down by Lt. Burris (Velcoro’s former superior) in the tunnels under the city after connecting Chief Holloway to the 1992 diamond heist that set so much of this... Read More

Recap Digest: True Detective 2.6, "Church in Ruins"

Jul 27, 2015 by Alex Castle

Things are finally clicking into place in this second season of True Detective. The five preceding episodes of character development and table-setting have revealed their purpose: to set up and inform this episode, by far the most engaging of the season. If the last two episodes can stay as focused as this one, season two still has a chance to go down as a worthy complement to season one.

Nearly all the best scenes in this season were packed into this one episode: Ray confronting Frank about the mistaken tip that set him on the path to corruption and self-loathing; Frank bonding with his murdered employee’s son; Ray trying to bond with his son, finally recognizing he’s damaged the relationship irretrievably, and walking away for good; Frank tracking down... Read More

Recap Digest: Game of Thrones 5.9, "The Dance of Dragons"

Jun 08, 2015 by Alex Castle

It only took 49 episodes for Game of Thrones to finally give us what we really wanted, and it was glorious: as the Sons of the Harpy tried to assassinate her just as she finally gave them what they wanted – reopening the fighting pits – Daenerys was saved, and then airlifted out, by the wayward Drogon, who returned either in reply to her telepathic message or just because he sensed she was in danger. Either way, the sight of the Mother of Dragons leaving the quagmire in Meereen astride her fire-breathing firstborn was deeply satisfying, particularly as it really had a helicopters-off-the-Saigon-embassy-roof feel to it – she may not have actually left Meereen yet, but it’s clear enough that she can win neither hearts nor minds in this backward... Read More

Recap Digest: Game of Thrones 5.7, "The Gift"

May 26, 2015 by Alex Castle

Just when it was starting to feel like this whole season has been stuck on Herschel’s farm, this week delivered a number of plot developments, including the inevitable blowback from Cersei’s Operation Faith Militant landing her in a cell adjacent to her hated daughter-in-law, Sansa’s discovery that her brother, Jon Snow, is not just alive but Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and the meeting we’ve all been waiting for: Tyrion Lannister finally locked eyes with Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.

The people who are finding this season distastefully sadistic still got a bit of ammunition for their thinkpieces, as yet another rape scene was barely averted at Castle Black, and Ramsay showed Sansa just how much worse he could make things for... Read More

Recap Digest: Mad Men 7.13, "The Milk and Honey Route"

May 11, 2015 by Alex Castle

Out of all the predictions and guesses about how Matthew Weiner would end Mad Men, I don’t think anyone imagined that a happy ending for Pete Campbell would be a part of it. I certainly didn’t. But with the amusing return of Duck Phillips, now a corporate headhunter and still an unrepentant drunk, Pete is swept off his feet into a new job as head of marketing for Learjet, where he’ll have access to his own plane to go anywhere he wants anytime he wants, in addition to a generous signing bonus and his full negotiated settlement with McCann. Best of all, he takes the opportunity to put his family back together and bring them with him to Learjet’s hometown, Wichita, Kansas, showing that he may actually have learned something... Read More

Recap Digest: Mad Men 7.10, "The Forecast"

Apr 20, 2015 by Alex Castle

Don Draper, as well as his fellow partners, continue last week’s theme so aptly summed up with the Peggy Lee song “Is That All There Is?” in this week’s episode. Not many Mad Men episodes have as explicit a framing device as Roger’s assignment to Don to give their corporate masters at McCann a “Gettysburg Address” about the future of the firm, but as the show winds down it certainly seems appropriate to have Don asking the big questions, of himself and the people around him.

It’s striking how steadfastly Don has clung to his look even as everyone around him gives in to the spirit of the times; not only does he still keep his hair short and Brylcreemed, he just refuses to give up on that fedora;... Read More

Recap Digest: Game of Thrones 5.2, "The House of Black and White"

Apr 20, 2015 by Alex Castle

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, as Daenerys continues to learn in her effort to turn Meereen from a slave state to a benevolent dictatorship. Her effort to install a little due process along with law and order badly backfires, as she orders a fair trial for the (clearly guilty) representative of the Sons of the Harpy who slit an Unsullied throat in the brothel last week; the prisoner is killed by another former slave while in custody, and this time the Mother of Dragons skips the trial and orders the former slave publicly executed, setting off a riot. Even the return of the wayward Drogon is fleeting, as the largest dragon barely says hello before taking off again.

Arya arrives at the House of Black and... Read More

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