A short one this week, with many shows gear up for May sweeps starting next week and the Fox Sunday night animation block skipped in favor of the network's 25th anniversary special (which I did watch but didn't write about, because there wasn't much to write about, so if you too watched and want to comment on it, have at it).
Game of Thrones: Garden of Bones
So apparently Melisandre's womb is dark and full of terrors, amiright? That was a pretty crazy ending, so let's start there.
There were three significant scenes
set at Renly's camp in this episode. The latest concluded with
Melisandre apparently giving birth to Smokey from Lost. While
it's obviously too early to make any serious conclusions about what that
thing is or does, it is interesting simply because up to now most of
the magical elements on this show have been constrained to the edges of
the world: north of the Wall, across the Narrow Sea, etc. Melisandre's
shadow baby is really the first instance of real, obvious magic
occurring more or less in the heart of Westeros, which seems like a
Earlier, we got a nifty little
verbal showdown between Stannis and Renly, with some excellently-written
barbs between the two. I don't dislike Renly the way, say, I abhor
Joffrey, and his idea that he deserves the crown because the people like
him is, while clearly self-serving, also interesting in a
pseudo-democratic kind of way, but at the same time, I kind of hope
Stannis takes him down a peg or two; he's becoming far too cocky thanks
to his superior numbers.
And finally, there were the
two scenes of Baelish doing his thing within Renly's camp. His
conversation with Margaery was the usual Baelish double talk, but his
scene with Caetlyn was fantastic. It was great to see him drop his cool
veneer, no matter how idiotic his idea that he and Caetlyn could somehow
be together now (and yet he was still playing the game, making Caetlyn
think Cersei had both her daughters under her control). And while I've
never been a big fan of Caetlyn (her impulsiveness sometimes seems to
cause more harm than good), her reaction to getting Ned's body back was a
phenomenal bit of acting.
a little bit more time than usual in this episode, as her ragged band
of misfits arrives at the seeming oasis of Qarth. Most of what happened
here was likely setup for the next chapter of her story (a chapter that
will, I fear for my fingers, includes lots of Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the guy
who vouched for her and whose name I just had to copy/paste), but I did
like the continued glimpse into Daenerys leadership style, as she
managed to strike the right tone of regal authority and humble
supplication to get her group inside the city's walls.
this place is all kinds of messed up. My brother, who serves as my
book-to-screen analyst, tells me we're supposed to be slightly in the
dark about what information the torturers are after at this point, but
regardless, that whole "rat in the bucket" technique is pretty messed
up. It's odd to say this about Tywin Lannister, but it was a relief to
see him show up and tell everyone to knock it the hell off. His
immediate recognition of Arya as a girl was great, and the idea of the
missing Stark girl hiding under everyone's noses as Tywin's cup-bearer
is both dryly funny and rich with dramatic promise. It's also nice to
have at least one villain on the show who isn't a complete twit.
of twits, the other thing everyone's been talking about aside from the
baby Smoke Monster is Joffrey. Whether you inferred that he was ordering
Roz to use that stag head scepter as a club or...something else, that
scene was extremely intense and made clear what a psychopathic asshat
the kid is. But it also did more than that. The earlier scene with
Joffrey ordering the brutalization of Sansa in retribution for Robb's
victory had made clear what a monster he is. But as abhorrent as his
actions in the later scene were in and of themselves, and as much as he
was personally enjoying it, Joffrey also made it clear that he was doing
it to send his uncle a message. Thus, that scene showed us that Joffrey
has finally become aware of the game, and is learning how to play it.
Nothing from Pyke, Winterfell or north of the Wall this week.
depiction of Robb's sneak attack was a nifty way to once again avoid
depicting a large scale (and expensive) battle, and while I can
understand the desire to do so and appreciate the clever ways its
sidestepped, I hope that at some point we do get to see some kind of
large armed conflict on the show.
Tyrion got a couple
more fun moments, first when he swooped in to save Sansa and gave
Joffrey's knight a lesson in threats, and later when he manipulated his
cousin into spying on Cersei for him.
Arya seems to have
adopted Yoren's technique of repeating the names of the people from whom
she wants to extract vengeance as she falls asleep.
Lannister Soldier: How good could he be? He's been stabbing Renly Baratheon for years and Renly ain't dead.
Once Upon a Time: The Return
So while this episode hinted pretty heavily that Mysterious Sexy Writer was Rumpelstiltskin's son Baelfire, about halfway through, I began to doubt it, simply because they were laying it on too thick. I mention this not to tout my own cleverness, but to point out that whatever enjoyment I had for the fairy back this week had little to do with MSW's identity (or lack therefore). While the episode made us think it was answering the question "who is MSW"?" it was actually answering the question of why Rumpelstiltskin made the curse in the first place. While perhaps not as immediate a question as MSW's identity, it was still a question that needed answering, and like the origins of the Regina/Snow conflict, received a pretty decent explanation.
Events back in Storybrooke weren't quite as enjoyable, as Emma's cliffhanger-y declaration that she's getting back her son rang a bit hollow, considering she has yet to do anything very active in opposing Regina, and because we've seen, again and again, just how much Regina has stacked the deck in her favor, so its hard to imagine there's anything Emma could actually do to carry out her threat. That said, we're only two episodes removed from the season finale, so I sure as hell hope Emma starts doing something significant.
So if not Baelfire, who is MSW? Lots of people have been saying Pinocchio, and next week's previews seem to suggest that, but then again, this week's suggested he was Rumpelstiltskin's son. I'm less concerned with who he is and more concerned with how he knows about FTL and seemingly existed outside Storybrooke.
Also, I do hope the real Baelfire does show up in Storybrooke at some point.
It was fun watching Regina and Gold openly discuss FTL stuff in Storybrooke.
Regina having Sydney take the fall for her is almost beautiful in how obvious it is and how much she doesn't care.
The town suddenly embracing Mary Margaret seemed odd (though Henry buying her a "congrats on not killing someone" gift was great), considering they were mad at her before for being a home wrecker, and she still is, even if she was being framed for murder. I suppose everyone's just calling it even at this point.
Someday I hope to be described as a "typewriter wrapped in an enigma wrapped in stubble".
Glee: Big Brother
This episode serves as a good example of how Glee's schizophrenia is both its biggest problem and it's greatest asset. On the one hand, this episode simply demolished whatever tension the schlocky soap opera cliffhanger established by breezing past the aftermath of Quinn's accident and Rachel and Finn's almost wedding (which further degrades that already ridiculous cliffhanger), and I can only imagine what that was like for anyone who waited weeks between the episodes (and is more emotionally invested in the show) instead of the one week I waited.
That said, once this episode had breezed through the dangling plot threads from the last episode, it settled into a perfectly good episode of Glee and a fantastic showcase for Blaine. Glee can be infuriating in the way that it ping pongs from plot point to plot point with little resolution (or often times, sense). But it's also remarkable how the show can shift focus from character to character each week, and as long as the material is solid, end up telling a good story. Or, to put it in a less long winded way, the way this episode handled the cliffhanger was terrible, but the rest of the episode was pretty damned enjoyable, and if you don't like what Glee is doing, wait an episode or two and it will probably be back to do something you like.
For the most part, I did like the Quinn storyline (even if I didn't like the way it came about), though it felt a bit rushed. Going from "comfortable with my situation" to "refusing to accept I may not be able to walk because I've gotten all my hopes for the future wrapped up in that one thing" is a believable journey, but it would have been nice to see it play out longer. That said, how sad is it that it took crippling the character to get her featured in a number?
I'm continuing to enjoy Team Player Sue, and if they want to setup Bronze Medal Lady as the new Sue, I'm fine with that. But I was honestly hoping Will wouldn't come down on her for giving the kids a hard time. While I wouldn't want Sue's educational voice to be the only one the kids have, it's not terrible if it's one of many such voices. I mean, I'm sure Bieste gets in her players faces sometimes, and Will doesn't yell at her for that, and Sue's right: the kids could use some toughening up if they want to beat Vocal Adrenaline.
Cooper's acting advice being hilariously awful was great ("Stanislavsky says the fingers are the eyes of the body, but he never mentions that the toes are the ears”), as was Kurt's reaction to him.
Rachel and Finn are starting to think getting married may not be the best idea. Yawn (though I loved Puck's pool cleaning ambitions).
The stuff at Six Flags was pretty pointless and boring.
Favorite Song: "Still Standing" was a lot of fun, and it was nice to see Quinn featured, and I loved all three of Blaine's songs (even "Stronger"). This was a good episode for musical selection. Ultimately, I'll go with the Duran Duran mashup as my favorite simply because it landed so firmly in my wheelhouse.
Brittany: It’s springtime. I would like to see something give birth.
Cooper: The key to a dramatic scene is pointing. When people are really
emotional they point their fingers a lot.
Blaine: That’s not true at all.
That’s terrible advice.
Cooper: Are you talking to me right now? Because I can’t tell unless you’re pointing at me.
Community: Virtual Systems Analysis
This episode is arguably even more difficult to unpack than "Critical Film Studies", the My Dinner with Andre-inspired examination of Abed's character from last season, this episode's most obvious spiritual partner. It deals with questions of identity and reality and how the two inform and limit the other in a way unlike any other. While this show is ostensibly a comedy, and this episode does have its humorous moments, this is not a terribly funny episode. But the characters here fit as effortlessly into this kind of story as they do in something self-referential, or a pop culture parody or the inspired lunacy of a paintball or pillow fort episode. Regardless of whatever the Dreamatorium that is the show puts up around them, the characters remain remarkably consistent and capable of moving the audience, whether to laugh or cry or get excited. For all the outright hilarious things I will all always remember from this show, I will also remember the image of Abed, chained in the locker he used to get shoved into, afraid that the only ending for him is one in which his friends leave him behind. This is a comedic show, but when it wants to be, it can be as deep and introspective as any drama while staying true to its characters, and that's yet another reason why it's so great.
Most of the humor in this episode came from the hospital drama/soap opera parodies as Annie searched for the real Abed, and it was all pretty funny.
All of the actors did a fantastic job of playing Abed or Annie playing them. The whole "body swapping" routine, when actors play their characters with the mind of another character, is one of those great TV devices.
Troy crying and Abed screaming are never not funny.
Parks and Recreation: Live Ammo
Though this episode wasn't written with the knowledge of Parks and Rec's brief spring hiatus, it still serves as a nice tablesetter for the remaining episodes of the season. We're reminded of the struggles facing Leslie in her election campaign (both externally and from her own inability to compromise) while Leslie's victory is made personal for two more characters: if she loses, Ron won't be promoted, and Chris might lose his job. At the same time, we got a great glimpse of April's leadership abilities, as she is (hilariously) openly hostile with everyone. In the end, Leslie finds a way to make everyone happy at a personal political cost to herself, setting the stage for a win-or-die debate. The ending also reinforced the catch-22 to this storyline: in this day and age, faced with the kind of wealth and power the Newports have to yield, it seems highly unrealistic that Leslie could win this election. Yet at the same time, I want her to win. If the show goes down that road, I hope they find a way to make her victory realistic (at least within the show's reality).
Ann and Leslie's tour of Tom's amenities-laden apartment is probably the best thing yet to come out of the Ann/Tom relationship. My personal favorite was the ever-ready cheese platter; I wouldn't mind one of those myself.
Between Cabin in the Woods and this, it's been a big couple weeks for Bradly Whitford. He did a nice job playing a relatively normal (and pragmatic) City Councilman, and I appreciated the Sorkin-esque walk-and-talks he got to do with Leslie.
Tom serving as April's right hand man and helping her get on track was a nice character moment for him. I always appreciate when Tom uses his smarm for good.
April: These animals should be rewarded for not being people. I hate people.
Andy: I got the ship out!
Ron: If you’ll excuse me, there’s a hot spinning cone of meat next door, and I plan to eat the whole thing.