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    Reading, writing, gaming, TV, astronomy, music (pop and classical)


    Doctor Who, Magicians, Deadwood, Hannibal, Justified, Arrested Development, Angel, Americans, Penny Dreadful, Homeland, Galavant, Mozart in the Jungle, Veronica Mars, Sopranos, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Face Off, The Wire, Sports Night, Outlander, Battlestar Galactica (reboot), Chopped, Project Runway, MasterChef Jr, Parks & Rec, Buffy
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    Overall? Hannibal, Doctor Who (RTD years), Veronica Mars, The Sopranos, or Deadwood

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  1. S01.E08: The Call of the Wild

    I just bingewatched this over the weekend, and overall, I was very satisfied. I get that some needed or wanted it to be a different show, or to detail a perfect criminal investigation and trial, but I also thought the imperfections were the whole point here -- that lots of bad luck was floating around on that one single night for poor Andrea, and for Naz. And I'm sorry, but I'm not gonna blame a college kid for "ruining his family's lives" simply because he borrowed his Dad's car to go to a party, met a pretty girl, and ended up falling into her world for a night (which was why I loved that Stone was so matter-of-fact in his summation about the crimes Naz did commit -- the car, the drugs, etc.). For me, the title isn't an accident, and the show was about how so many things can go so wrong in a single night, and the ripples from that just went on forever. So that Naz panicked and did every stupid thing you shouldn't do. And that a detective may be capable but also tired, slightly distracted by his impending retirement, and also really convinced they have the right guy -- so he doesn't look further. That a DA would be equally oversure. And that... thank goodness... Stone walked past Naz, looked at his face... and went back. Because he knew what innocence looked like. I felt like the show telegraphed fairly openly in episode one that it was going to be more of a character piece -- more an exploration of time, place, and people, than of "who killed Andrea," so that allowed me to just sit back and enjoy it. I mean, I cared about who did it, and whether it was Naz, but I also just loved the richly drawn characters and how believable I found them. For me, the absolute greatest pleasure was the actors, who I thought all did great work. I can sometimes find Turturro somewhat grating, but I loved him so much here -- Stone's weariness, gentleness, his palpable loneliness, his defiance in the face of rudeness and disgust, his attempts to literally NOT care as much as he did... I just loved Stone and wanted only good things for him. And after this and "The Looming Tower," I have become a real fan of Bill Camp, and how naturalistic he is. Here, as Box, he reminded me so much of a homicide cop I used to know in Seattle back in the late 1990s -- he wasn't the cold cliche you see on TV, but one of the kindest, warmest people you would ever meet, and that kindness and civility extended to everyone, period. For instance, when I knew him, he had just retired and was still consulting, but for decades he still got cards from victims, suspects, and their families. And he was also a hell of an investigator (and, I am quite sure, like Box when he needed to be, "a subtle beast"). And I didn't mind that Box missed stuff, and I liked that the little cop-part of his brain wouldn't let him retire, but kept needling him to look closer. I agree that there were elements that were missed by the prosecutors and cops. But that stuff happens all the time. I just went with it. I also felt that Chandra's story was along these same lines. She makes a few small mistakes, allows her inexperience to draw her in, and for single kiss, her life is now a complete shambles. Because of her arrogance toward Stone, I did love that final look of hers to him as they awaited the verdict. I just felt like she was looking at him with complete respect and appreciation, even as he's off by himself, trying not to scratch, embarrassed and ill at ease. I know Stone felt that Naz testifying was the wrong move, and legally, I agree that it probably was. But I was glad he did it. To me, it provided us with a much-needed moment of actual understanding and accessibility, like, "Oh, hi Naz, THERE you are." I thought he came across as honest and believable, even when he had to answer that he didn't know if he killed her. I do feel that the show tried to have it both ways and was sometimes coy on the character of Naz, to maintain that tension of "did he do it or didn't he?" And that as a result, the character of Nasir was, to me, the least accessible. I wish we had seen a few more flashes of that vulnerability in him later that we saw in the first episode. While Riz Ahmed is a beautiful young man, I did feel that his performance choices were occasionally a little colder or more inscrutable than I would have wished; I just thought it was interesting that by the end, I felt I knew FREDDY better than Naz himself. Although that final glimpse of him by the waterfront, back where it all started, stuck in a vicious circle, still dreaming of Andrea, broke me a little. It's horribly ironic that what was easily the worst night of his life nevertheless also included some of the most incredible hours of his life with a beautiful and lonely young woman who just seemed to understand him. But the writing was so good. I loved the juxtaposition of Freddy's speech to Naz, and how it also paralleled Stone's summation. And what was so heartbreaking is that Freddy may truly care about Naz, and see him as a unicorn, but he was still willing to use him, risk him, corrupt him, and get him on drugs. I know he didn't do those things in order to be deliberately harmful, but it broke my heart that Freddy says, "So why would I not take care of you? What kind of a cold individual do you think I am?" even as they're about to light up the drugs. They are both in hell and escaping in the only way they know how. Freddy was probably the best thing that could have happened to Naz in prison. Too bad he's also the worst. And Stone's final speech was just one of the most stirring and powerful moments I've seen in a long time. His humility and embarrassment, his honesty and emotion, all just killed me. And Turturro! Is so good there. I love that you can hear him wheeze slightly as he speaks, and how the camera is so often showing us Stone as he appears either from the jury box or from Naz's place at the table. And I love that he actually breaks down a tiny bit in the end, and the jury can see his tears. It is Stone's moment of true greatness. The best part of Stone's summation, to me, is that Stone convinces more than half the jury. He convinces Naz himself. He convinces -- visibly -- the prosecutor (I believe it is absolutely why she gives him that assessing look and then declines to retry). But I loved all the actors and especially appreciated such a richly diverse cast (in age as well as nationality). I loved Jeannie Berlin's gravely, no-nonsense prosecutor. I loved Glenne Headly (RIP, far far too soon) and her combination of flinty toughness and humanity. I also loved all the character actors -- Naz's parents, the judge, the front-desk cop (Shenkman!), the pharmacist, Trevor (BODIE!), etc. I'm in it for the characters, so for me, meeting Stone, watching him navigate the cruelties of loneliness, of homeliness, contempt, revulsion, and affliction, and yeah, I admit it, watching him fall for the cat, really got me. I loved the way he'd play with the cat under the door. The way he'd talk to it and tell it good night. So I wasn't just devastated when he brought it back to the pound (and loved the little sound of dismay by the guy at the counter "No...") for the cat -- I was sad for STONE. Sad because it felt to me like he was giving up in a much bigger way. So when we see that final humane society commercial, and Stone just watching it, immovable, I was an absolute mess... and then he leaves and the cat walks slowly and happily across that hallway? I admit it. I flat-out ugly-cried. It's one of the most satisfying moments I can think of from a show in recent memory, and it absolutely moved me. I know plenty found the cat stuff cheap or inconsequential, but I think it was vital. Everything in this drama has been fallout from that one night of Andrea meeting Naz, and Andrea's death. Her pet was a part of that. And Stone giving it a home meant that something from that night could be rescued and could be saved. People might look at him with loathing on the subway, but he can ignore that and go home to this animal that loves him unconditionally... so the cat saves him, too.
  2. I thought this was a weak awards ceremony -- Jost and Che (who I normally like) were so wan and depressed! But not offensively so -- and the actual ceremony was, for me, too self-congratulatory on diversity (especially with so far still to go), but on the plus side, it moved along fairly quickly. The win that got me the most was Matthew Rhys, for "The Americans," because he deserved it so damn much. His performance as Philip Jennings across the show, in the sixth season especially, and in the finale ("START") I thought was just astonishing -- subtle, nuanced, moving, terrifying, joyful, and ultimately desolate and so honest it was painful. His speech was funny and lovely (and I always love to hear his beautiful Welsh accent, and love that his voice is higher in real life than when he acts as Philip!), and also, yes watch "The Wine Show." It is just lovely. And for those on the fence on watching "The Americans" -- PLEASE WATCH THE SHOW. Although (and I say this with all the love in the world) proceed to the forums for the final few seasons with caution (it's pretty brutal). Anywayyyy... The disappointments for me were the shutout on a superb season of "Atlanta," especially since I just do not like "The Marvelous Mrs Maisel," and Rachel Brosnahan's overacting turned me off so badly I only watched 1.5 episodes and couldn't stay with it (she plays everything like a bad Vaudevillian -- she telegraphs every one of her jokes). Although I am a small minority on that ;) -- and I was happy that Rachel was such a gracious winner (and it made me feel bad for not liking her work). But I will always feel Hiro Murai deserved the directing nod for "Teddy Perkins" ("Atlanta") over Amy Sherman-Palladino for directing the pilot of "Maisel." And echoing those who love Hannah Gadsby -- I thought she was a rare bright spot tonight, genuinely funny, and want to echo others to noet that her show "Nanette" is just superb and is on Netflix. It's a brilliant piece that becomes more theatre than comedy by the end, but it's so, so moving. On the winners, losers and snubs for this year -- I wish "Halt and Catch Fire" had been nominated, since its final season was one of the best I've ever seen in my life (and just thinking about the finale makes me tear up)... I wish "Glow" and "Atlanta" had been awarded, and I wish the sublime Michael Stuhlbarg had won for his characteristically superb work in "The Looming Tower" (In a perfect world, he would have won here, and Daniels would have won in his other category). I was also a little bummed Cameron Britton ("Mindhunter") lost in his guest actor in a drama category because I thought he was absolutely incredible as Kemper. I would have preferred Issa Rae to win lead comedy actress over Rachel Brosnahan, and admit I was rooting for Jesse Plemons over Criss. I was also rooting for Keri Russell over Foy, and Dern over King, but I love King so much I was thrilled for her anyway. I love Peter Dinklage (and have for years, way before "GoT"), but I just didn't think his work this year was superior to most of his fellow nominees (I would have loved for Patinkin to take it). I was also very happy about Thandie's win for "Westworld," even if I thought season 2 was pretty weak. I was delighted with Merritt Wever's win for "Godless." I wish "The Good Place" had been nominated for more awards, as well as "Twin Peaks," for sheer audaciousness, courage and sheer art. But it wasn't a bad year either.
  3. The Greatest Showman (2017)

    I'm a pretty diehard music theatre snob, so after hearing so many mixed/negative reviews, I kept putting off watching this. Well, the joke was on me, because I loved it. Is it sweet, simplistic and absolutely not an accurate bio-pic in any way? Sure. But it's also hugely entertaining, I loved the songs (and honestly felt they were stronger overall than the duo's work for "La La Land," although I loved that on a whole different level), and the performers and film work were lovely, and I thought the choreography was just absolutely outstanding (especially for "Rewrite the Stars"). I also loved the performers -- I thought it was a real star-making moment for Zendaya, and Zac Efron really impressed me here -- he can come across as facile to me sometimes, but he was a genuine triple threat here, who sang tunefully, danced gracefully, and who (most of all) really imbued his character with genuine emotion and pathos. I thought Hugh Jackman was lovely (as he almost always is), although I wish he'd given Barnum a little naughty twinkle, a little wickedness. The scene that got me the most was "Rewrite the Stars," because it was just such a gorgeous confluence of acting, music, choreography and filmwork. The way Zendaya and Efron fly through the song -- her just out of his reach, him on the ground, then the two of them spinning gorgeously in midair in between when they let their feelings go -- it's a gorgeous moment that has stayed with me since watching it.
  4. The Post (2017)

    I enjoyed this, although I found it slightly odd and less impactful than I'd expected it to be. I thought Streep was fantastic and that Hanks was serviceable -- I actually think he tends to be underpraised in roles like these, because he's such a game ensemble performer, and is really there for his costars. It's palpable in scenes between Ben and Katharine that Hanks is simply trying to be there to make the most of HER moments and it's my favorite thing about him as a performer. Barring a few instances like Forrest Gump (flaws and all), Hanks is not exactly a chameleon type, but he's a generous actor, and it really showed here. My second favorite thing about this movie was the way it was positively stuffed with fantastic, ridiculously talented TV actors in supporting roles. It's obvious Spielberg is a huge fan of great television (from "Breaking Bad" to "The Americans" and beyond) because this film was filled with wonderful actors primarily known for their TV work, from the always-fantastic Matthew Rhys, to Bob Odenkirk, Jesse Plemons, Sarah Paulson, Alison Brie, David Cross, Carrie Coon, Kelly AuCoin, and then, of course, with some simply fantastic dependable all-around greats like Michael Stuhlbarg (after his incredible TV and film work over the past two years, I am seriously a ridiculous superfan of that man), Bradley Whitford, and Bruce Greenwood. Meanwhile, among the TV actors, the ones I was most impressed with were Rhys, who brought the gravitas and instantly recognizable heroism to Ellsberg necessary for the role, and Alison Brie, who I thought was spookily fantastic as Lally, Kay's daughter. It's a completely minor role but she gets some incredible scenes with Streep, and everything about her in those scenes is different -- the way she moves, speaks, her diction, even the timbre of her voice. I always forget how truly gifted Brie is because she's so likable I wrongly tend to conflate her with her onscreen roles (like that of Annie in "Community") but she's superb here, and I really felt like I was watching a movie star in the making. I also enjoyed the parallels (no doubt deliberate) between that time and history and our current one, involving a POTUS who wanted to restrict the freedom of the press for vindictive reasons. Also, it was lovely to watch the credits and realize that the movie was dedicated to Nora Ephron.
  5. S06.E07: Harvest

    I'm a longtime watcher and PTV poster, but haven't posted here in "The Americans" forums in a season or two because honestly... it's so depressing. I still think this show is superb (this final season in particular), and plenty of critics and Emmy voters agree with me. But while I appreciate that mileage varies, the blood in the water here makes it rough to jump in and discuss its good points. I've been bingewatching S6 the past few days (I'm a wimp! I've been putting it off!) and visiting the episode forums each time, and man, despite the show's 2018 Emmy nominations (for Drama, Writing, and for Russell and Rhys, all richly deserved in my view) I need to remember to go read Sepinwall after each visit or something to cheer myself up. It's just absolutely grim, like Sansa Stark or Dana Brody all over again (not to mention Betty Draper or Skylar White). I'll never understand the rage and vitriol a scared or grieving female character (often battling genuinely horrific circumstances) can inspire. Anyway. Thanks for letting me vent. Onward and upward! I know a lot of people have noticed the bruise or mark on Elizabeth's face and my take is that it is 100% deliberate -- after all, of course if it were a simple momentary blemish of Keri's, the makeup people could make that invisible. Instead, to me, it's purposeful and a way to show that Elizabeth is rotting, almost, from her own stress and nihilism. I feel that it's externalizing her internal struggle. She has a bruise on her heart and a darkness in her soul. And with all the smoking, the blemishes and occasional red spots, her red eyes -- she looks about as awful as it is possible for a gorgeous person like Keri Russell (or Elizabeth) to look. I'm certain it's simply a sign of her literal decline. (The Witches of Eastwick did something similar to great effect with Suki/Michelle Pfeiffer, who has a cold sore in a key scene.) Nope, they really can't. I'm puzzled by Paige's "I have no one" speech to Elizabeth because it seemed inconsistent to me -- Philip's recent visit for instance implied that Paige has a roommate, we've seen firsthand that she has friends she goes out and has fun with, she's obviously socially at ease with guys and sex, etc. Sure, she may feel alone and friendless, but this season has demonstrated that she isn't actually anywhere near that. Of course, the irony is, regardless of whether it was true, I did wish for Elizabeth to: Meet Paige's eye very steadily and say, with all the love in the world, "You just described all the reasons you need to find another outlet in your life. This choice isn't right for you. I think the Peace Corps would be great." And I also agree with those who think Elizabeth should have then, quietly, listed off the ten most terrible things she and Philip have ever had to do as part of their work. And then said the words again: "Peace. Corps." And then I'd have wished for Liz to respond like a mother and comfort Paige that someday she will fit in, she will find friends and a man who will appreciate her so she won't be alone. Instead of "Great! You're alone, terrified of isolation and your heart is a void! Now go apply for an internship to begin your lonely, loveless, and despairing career in American politics!" It does for me as well. While I don't always love Paige, I think she's necessary, and I think the character is functioning properly as part of the story (and for what she means to Elizabeth and Philip). I already noted above my other feelings on this as well. Anyway. This season, for instance, I think has shown us that Paige isn't cut out for this, and I think it's been blatant about that, while also showing that Elizabeth is utterly blind to it out of her need to share and even subtly excuse her own pathological need to serve her country. She doesn't have Philip for that anymore, and even when he does help, she knows he's doing it for HER -- not for Russia. The idea that Paige can carry on the work delights Elizabeth so much she can actually talk to her own teenaged daughter here coolly about her own or Paige's prospective deaths being "worth it." (Gah.) She can't be as tough as Paige needs her to be -- this is definitely not the Elizabeth who calmly told Tuan last season he was going to fail. I definitely think Paige will be Elizabeth's downfall, and I think they've built beautifully to that over the arc of the show (but we'll see if I'm right! Three more to go...). Yeah, that's what I'm getting out of it as well, and it's really sad. I was thinking the same thing -- it wasn't enough for Philip to admit the business was failing. Stan obviously scents there's more to it than that, and even calls Philip out on holding back. This was the moment for Philip to admit with total truth that he and Elizabeth are having a really bad time, that the marriage may not survive either. Oh, God, me too. I just can't stand most of them -- it's just not how I'm built. Listening to a podcast means I can't work, listen to music, or do anything else (except maybe work out) while listening. Podcasts demand time I simply do not have. Whereas, with a blog post, I can read, enjoy, and move on in minutes. I saw several other posts on this, as well, so let me get this straight: Hatred for Paige on "The Americans" is now so extreme that a respected female writer (still a minority in most TV drama writers' rooms) who wrote scenes featuring her on a specific episode is now mocked simply for how she speaks? I guess we're lucky it was a podcast so she wasn't body-shamed as well. I loved that about the scene with Stan and Philip too, which was so beautifully and subtly presented. On the one hand, Philip is (I believe) trying to say goodbye to Stan with real affection, but he's too worried about Elizabeth and too tired to dissemble properly anymore. And I love that Stan can (thanks to Emmerich's beautifully subtle acting choices here) actually see it. You can see Stan's face sharpen, that listening look he gets, when he's thinking... "Something's not right about this." And again -- beautiful acting here, by both performers. Stan's such a tough character because of course if he found out too soon, the show ended. But Emmerich has always conveyed this basic decency that I believed absolutely. And what's maddening is that Elizabeth is so tired, so incrementally hardened and yet dying from this terrible job, she can't see how sloppy she's become -- or how utterly unprepared Paige actually is for her life. Not to mention that even wanting this hell for her own child is unfathomable to me (cushy "State Department job" or no). But that's the tragedy of it. Elizabeth is doing all this out of patriotism for a doomed country she can barely remember, while Philip is doing his part for Elizabeth herself. As is poor Paige. And Elizabeth doesn't see it. I was a Navy brat and this absolutely resonates very strongly with me. And I can see why it would resonate with Paige as well. Thank you for this truly beautiful, eloquent and really insightful post on Elizabeth, Philip, and what Erika is bringing to Elizabeth's life. I love the way she's causing Elizabeth to open up and understand herself. Elizabeth has always seen the world in terms of black and white -- USSR, good. US, bad. Etc. Erica has taught her to consider life more subtly, to see the shades of grey, both literal and figurative. Seriously, check out some of their interviews on YouTube. They are incredibly charming, lighthearted people (which is amazing considering these brutal roles, but probably so so healthy!), and both are the teeniest bit dorky in the best way. They're an absolutely lovely couple. (Oh, and do not miss Matthew in all his beardiest Welsh glory on "The Wine Show." Seriously. Hunky British men wander around and drink wine and talk about it. It is Wine Narnia.) I feel like you're reading too much into the aged-up disguises Philip and Elizabeth wore here because the show has to walk a fine line -- they have to look like themselves for the viewers, but also to look like they could be mistaken for other people. I thought Philip was flawless and Elizabeth convincing -- she'd done some subtle makeup to look older, and it reminded me a lot of people like Fionnula Flanagan who simply age splendidly -- a pretty face underneath the white/grey hair. One thing I thought was interesting -- "Mother" had just been used as a code word for Russia, for the "Motherland." So to me it was interesting and rather literal that Harvest said to tell "Mother" he loved her and was sorry to leave... and that he hated "Father" and wanted him to die. It was hard for me not to see the U.S. as his 'Father' in that respect (since he is literally working for its death in that instant).
  6. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

    It's absolutely true that it could be informing my POV, although I will say that I already was 100% convinced it was Amma who was the killer before reading. I wasn't entirely right because I actually thought it was Amma working with Adora as some kind of tacit support, but ever since the moments we met the girls cruelly stealing the memorabilia, toys and flowers left for the dead girls, to me it seemed obvious that they felt themselves deserving of whatever they wanted to take of them, even their lives. Amma and the girls were just so obvious about not having anything to fear -- all the constant skating and mischief at night, with not a whiff of fear for themselves. The girls further tossed out careless comments throughout the show ("Not the cool ones" about the dead girls, or "Or she" in response to the Sheriff's admonition to watch out for a potential drunk driver) that felt very pointed to me. And after knowing the ending via both book and show, I actually prefer the show's handling of the ending and revelation to the book's. For me, I feel like the ending was earned/deserved and fairly clearly telegraphed, so it was satisfying and logically drawn, if also incredibly sad. But I totally get that mileage may vary.
  7. S01.E08: Milk

    I loved it. I thought the book was a potboiler, but the show was a work of art -- poignant, brutal, bruising and absolutely tuned in to feminine rage and powerlessness. Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson and Eliza Scanlen were fantastic. Kudos to all the actresses. And I thought the men -- Messina, Craven and Czerny were great as well, in lesser roles. Watching poor Camille thank her mother for the poison and then say "More, Mama?" Broke my fucking heart. "More, Mama." It's the entire story, right there. Poor Camille, desperately wanting that love and attention and softness from her mother. So much so that in spite of herself (in reporter/evidence-gathering mode) she says yes to more poison. Anything for her mother to love her. I mean, I cried so much there I had to pause the show. To sacrifice herself, save her sister and convict her Mom. It's pretty blatant, honestly. Camille's entire MO is cutting HERSELF in reaction to others. Her allowing her mother to poison her makes perfect sense when you factor in her self-hate, her willingness to save her sister, her love and need for her mother's approval, and her ability to suffer. It broke my heart. They want power and approval. Just like Amma. Amma talks through the entire SHOW about how they will do anything she asks. And when Camille references the victims at one point, one of the girls even makes a cruel joke like "not the cool ones." They know they are in no danger. To me it's not out of left field at all. I always thought it was them. To me the entire show is about female rage. I thought the book was a minor diversion, but that the show managed to externalize female abuse in a way that was electrifying and important. Amma is a killer BECAUSE she is a victim. Huh? How does Camille die? She's fine and implied to be in full control of the situation at the end. And, well, horribly, everyone IS attracted to stories of "murdered girls." It's practically how Nancy Grace and 1000x others made their careers. What Gillian Flynn and the show tried to do was to return focus to the women (and girls) themselves. Even if empowering them meant also saying "yes they can kill too" not just look pretty and die. I read the book before the finale (and the show is way better) so am mystified by your take. Everything on the final pages is there in the first three chapters. HBO didn't add something for money, it's not being considered for an ongoing series, it was always a "long-format" movie. Vallee and Adams have both said they don't want to move forward with this story. I get not being thrilled with the ending (which I thought was both true to the book and even more electrifying) but HBO et al did nothing here to change things for a dollar outcome. I don't get why you assume everything in the end is about dollars (did you read the book?). The book ending is out there for everyone. If anything, they were pressured to CHANGE the book ending but didn't (thankfully), to be fair to the original outcome. It's pretty easy to headcanon that Alan is shown to be fatally supportive in Adora's trial, even if he's not convicted himself (which I wish he would be). He's absolutely accessory to murder to me (the thing that chilled me most was when he RAISED THE MUSIC when the cop showed up so poor Camille couldn't cry out for help—AGHH just fricking fry that piece of crap). The show skipped those other steps (deservedly so) for dramatic purposes. It's entirely believable that Amma's guardianship would be passed to Camille (and Amma would have almost certainly supported that). Just because we don't see Amma in therapy, meanwhile, doesn't mean Camille isn't trying to make her get it. Meanwhile, maybe Camille doesn't care about the kind of car she drives. And does so actually because she DOESN'T want a fancy car or fancy life. To echo @zobot81 I thought the entire horrifying point of the show was the flip side of motherhood—of the potential toxicity of maternal love; of the potential aftermath of female rage (turned inward: Camille. Turned outward: Amma). I just don't get this at all. (Especially actively wishing bad things for women taking real risks as artists. I mean, seriously?) I found the finale devastating, beautiful, terrifying, memorable and totally believable. By the end I knew it was Amma and I knew why absolutely. And watching Camille protect her broke my heart because I knew she was trying to salvage a lost cause -- even to giving her own life. I read the book before the finale but I prefer the finale approach -- we don't need another whole episode on Amma's rage or damage; we know it already (if we've been paying attention). It's all right there. Every word Camille etched on her own body was a precursor to Amma's murders, in a way. The entire show was about female abuse, rage, disempowerment, and revenge. I found the ending horrifying, breathtakingly tragic, and... perfect. It was all right in front of us all along.
  8. S01.E10: 1984

    One minor item to note: I was really unhappy (from my post of four years ago earlier here!) with this finale originally, but I did a full show rewatch recently, and liked this finale better this time than I did the first time. It didn't hurt that I felt that everything after this episode was just increasing levels of beautiful television, so I can forgive Joe his few moments of melodrama here. Each season after this one (and this was uneven but wonderful) was better than the season before, in the best way. So if you were like me and stopped watching at this point? Keep going. The show actually goes from being uneven and occasionally great to being terrific (and inclusive, gender-balanced) television. (The series finale is my favorite of all time. Of any show. Just sayin'.)
  9. S01.E05: Closer

    The breathtaking cruelty of Adora in this episode! And the worst of it for me was how, each time, Adora softly pulls her in, and Camille buys it because she so desperately wants some kind of connection... and then there's the knife. Camille may have carved upon her body but Adora wields a sharper knife and did the cutting first. Just... damn. And it's very strange to watch this. As I mentioned in a previous episode post, I grew up in the deep South (little towns in and around Jacksonville, FL, 17 miles from the Georgia border), and this show is just nailing the atmosphere -- the toxicity, the faux-sweetness, right alongside that weird, slow, almost dreamlike beauty to the language every once in awhile. Gah. This is what got me about it too. Adora (and check out that name -- so perfect for a narcissist) cannot see anything except herself and how things affect her. All her hysterics over that stupid tiny cut on her hand have been absolutely, literally crazy. And the best part of all: She made HERSELF bleed. It's what she does. I really like the little glimpses of Camille's own inadvertent cruelty. We see it every now and then, where she'll just brush someone off in an ice-cold way that is total Adora. I've always loved Chris Messina, since way back on "Six Feet Under" (and I'm still pissed at "The Mindy Project" for utterly tanking his character), and like what he's bringing to the cop here. There's a softness and empathy to him -- most guys playing cops I feel overdo the 'tough' thing, but Messina is playing it really naturalistically, and I love his chemistry with Adams. I love Jackie and her hair was amazing here. I also loved that she noticed every single thing Amma was doing. That woman really does see everything; I can't wait for that to come into play somehow. Jackie knows more about EVERYTHING than she's saying (as yet). Oh, nicely done! This is a gorgeous metaphor and I'm certain it's absolutely deliberate. Yeah me too (I get nauseous visiting Jacksonville and seeing all those "The South Shall Rise Again" bumper stickers. I mean, Jesus, people, YOU LOST, let it go). The part that oddly got me in a very strange way was when the sheriff (who is played by one of my favorite character actors, Matt Craven) walked away and casually told the cop not to show up in a Union uniform. I mean, the town is so screwed up you can't even cosplay you're for the Union! Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I'm sorry for what you went through then, which sounded genuinely terrifying! And I've been feeling the same way -- the atmosphere of the show is capturing something very specific and difficult and yet it feels 100% real. Towns like this exist. Me too. Yeah, I was seriously creeped out when he was all, "I've thought about you a lot," and kind of semi-flirting, and... based on what it appears he did to her years back? Not enough NOPE in the world for that. Ugh. I haven't read the book, but I think there's another way to read Frank, Camille's editor than just toxic mansplainer or "asshole man," though. I think he's part of the story because, first and foremost, he is a reminder that we make our families as well as being born into them. This man loves Camille purely like a daughter, and it's apparent to me (when Camille lets her guard down) that she feels the same way. He is also evidently very sick (possibly dying), a former alcoholic (so he knows what he's been witnessing), and I think he has been watching Camille slowly semi-suicide by vodka for the past year (years? months?) and was at his wit's end as to how to save her. I mean, when you're drinking every single waking moment of your life, something will eventually give. The Camille we see at the beginning of this story is a woman who is literally drinking herself to death 24 hours a day. It's heavily implied she's not meeting deadlines or doing good work anymore, and if her editor is actually dying, then I think the implication is that he's scared of what will happen to her (and of what she may do to herself) if he does. She won't have a job for long. She's already living in a shithole and is in complete denial about her own mental health and life. So when this story comes up, he grabs onto it. He tries something risky -- sending her back someplace he knows will hurt her, but he also hopes it may heal her. I think the character isn't doing it out of male entitlement (and I think it could have been a female, although I like that he has a paternal aspect that Camille never got otherwise). He's dying, he can't tell Camille, she's completely oblivious, and he's simply hoping this gives her some sort of closure. Which, I would agree with him, she needs (what she really needs is to tell Adora to go fuck herself and then high-tail it out of that shithole town never to return, and straight on to rehab). Also, I know some have commented on the ever-presence of Frank's wife, but I simply think that's because he's sick and she's worried about him. He's obviously not telling Camille the truth about how sick he actually is (and that breaks my heart). Please keep sharing the words -- you have caught so many that I've missed! It's fun to see them spotlighted, and I love the way they add to the subtext of what we're seeing (and what Camille is feeling).
  10. S01.E02: Dirt

    I really like this so far. It's like a dream. A seriously creepy dream, but as a Southern writer who fled the South (although my Mom was an utterly lovely person, thank goodness), it's pinging a lot for me. I've felt genuinely uncomfortable at times just because some of the scenes resonated so strongly and strangely for me. It's a very odd thing to love and hate where you are from. I feel the same way. I love Amy Adams when she stretches beyond sweetie-pie roles and think she's electric in stuff like this. Ever since "American Hustle," I've been gobsmacked by her range. Also, her boss is played by one of my all-time favorite HITG actors, Miguel Sandoval, who I've loved forever and who I think has one of the loveliest speaking voices I have ever heard. I had a serious crush on him in "Things You Can Tell by Looking at Her;" he plays this very gentle, quiet man doing an autopsy on a lonely woman, and the scene has stayed with me forever (it's very sad but also quite moving, and his connection with Amy Brenneman, a cop investigating, there was just wonderful). Thank you for sharing your story (and everyone else who did here). There's sometimes nothing as heartbreaking, as punishing, or as painful, as family. I just hope you all find or create happier, better, more loving families for yourselves. You deserve it. I hate saying this but Adora reminds me of my maternal grandmother. She delighted in stuff like saying, "I have some clothes I bought for you" when I was a chubby teenager... but they were all always 4-6 sizes too small. Then I would see and realize this and she would say, with faux-regret, "Oh, well, maybe when you lose some weight." GAH. I don't see this with Sandoval's work at all, but diff'rent strokes. I think he's a terrific and subtle, naturalistic actor. And I love the paternal warmth he gives his character here. This! The cop wasn't surprised by the flowers or toys in remembrance, but, I felt, by the regularity of that specific bunch of daisies (or whatever they are) -- I think its reappearance was pinging for him and weirding him out a bit. While I agree that Adams is presenting Camille as someone who's casual and relaxed about her hair and makeup, and she's on the edge visibly in terms of her cleanliness and grooming, I have to disagree on the rest. Amy Adams is gorgeous, and the long curly hair is her most striking attribute. It instantly tells us so much about Camille as a person. Me too! To me it seems like her editor genuinely loves her in a paternal way after years of work together, and that he's worried she's nearing the brink of crisis or more self-harm. He's obviously noticed her serious alcoholism and issues, and I feel like he's hoping the story will save her in some way. I love that he seems to give her the warmth and parental support that she so obviously doesn't get from her passive-aggressive icecube of a mother. Yeah, I'm worried he's sick. That seems to be the implication. I love her hair too, and it's such a beautiful character note too I think -- I love the fact that it's like it's the one soft thing she'll allow about herself. But I also think she should rock it now -- or in 20 years if she wants. I hate the idea that certain hairstyles or clothing are only okay for people of specific ages. This. I can't even encompass beauty standards that would find Amy Adams unacceptable or plain.
  11. S01.E10: Season 1, Episode 10

    I really enjoyed this, and thought the finale was stunning. Holden's inevitable fall of pride, the final few minutes, were utterly mesmerizing. That final conversation was incredible -- a perfect depiction of how blase and innocent Holden actually was. He thought he understood how casually these men can kill, but he really didn't believe it. It's like it was all a fairytale to him, and then Kemper steps up and calmly talks about killing and decapitating him like it's nothing. Which it would be. I agree with this take on the situation. I was afraid it was that. I was holding my breath the entire time. I will say -- irrespective of the article you linked -- that I was certain that revelation with the ants and the can showed plainly that the cat was dead nearby. I didn't find Kemper that unusual in his willingness to talk, although his intelligence and verbal precision (even about his own motives) were I think rare and genuinely interesting and of course deeply unsettling. Kemper's psychology is classic -- he's lonely. He's desperate to connect with others, and Holden and his partner made him feel singular and special, understood and liked. His pitiful pride that Holden called him "a friend" in the newspaper both chilled me and made me pity him for a brief second, as did his horrible speech about his murder victims being his "spirit wives" who were always with him. The loneliness of Kemper, created out of his abuse, resulted in a misogyny and a feeling of separation from humanity that left him with killing as his only expression. I think the worst thing about the pathology of serial murder is that over and over again, in the vast majority of cases, we find a lonely child who was horrifically abused, and who then turned to torture and killing as a way to rediscover power. It's so sad, terrifying and upsetting. If you go back and watch that scene, however, when the light flashes on the two of them, she is on the desk and he is bent over her, his hand on her stomach, and they have pretty clearly been making out or getting a little frisky. Even when Holden notices them, if you look at the moment, the guy doesn't remove his hand from her middle. He is clearly touching her in an intimate way. So my vote is that yes, she cheated. And then she and Holden reconciled after the laundromat scene. Thank you for such a great post on Carr. I love Wendy's character and thought Torv was terrific. She is a rather clinical, reserved person, but she is also one step removed from the horrors witnessed by Tench and Holden, and she is somewhat muffled/protected from really experiencing these men as real, threatening, terrifying, pitiable subjects. She is able to maintain distance. Whereas, she heard the cat meow, she is lonely and was having a glass of wine (pretty clearly implied to be part of her coping mechanism), and was trying to make a connection there (and using her own methods to entice it forward). And I agree that the men -- especially Holden -- are too dismissive of why they need a standardized interview approach. I would argue that ALL interviews should have been scheduled with Wendy's Q&A first, and then with Holden allowed to go "off the leash" for the follow-up. I've been a fan of Jonathan Groff's Broadway work since "Spring Awakening," and he was also delightful in "Hamilton." I was actually blown away by his acting here. FYI, the restrained, quiet approach was all due to Fincher, who according to an article I read (I think it was Vulture) micromanaged everything he did. It worked for me, and I especially loved it because when (here in the finale) Holden finally loses control, it's that much more impactful. I mean, Holden's absolute terror there was incredibly real and visceral. But Fincher is definitely the person behind those performance choices. Honestly, for me he takes it a bit far -- for instance, here, Groff was not allowed to smile (unless openly directed to do so), was ordered to stop smiling as a reaction in daily life, wasn't allowed to raise his eyebrows, etc. I mean, the description is so exact it's nuts. Then add in the fact that Fincher may do dozens or even hundreds of takes. I like Fincher's work but for me it's too needlessly exacting, and I'm certain something is lost when you stop allowing a scene to breathe and are that technical. But that's just me. I agree with you on Holden's arrogance and comfort becoming a regular thing with the killers -- he was beginning to lose sight of the victims, which I think Tench never does. So I loved the finale here and the final moments when HOLDEN is a potential victim. Me: "That's right, Holden. You are now ACTUALLY experiencing the dead-eyed psychopathy of someone who would as soon kill you as stomp a bug." I posted above on the scene between Holden's girlfriend and the guy, but I absolutely do think she was cheating (and their discovery was a frankly sexual scenario). But I also think she was testing him, trying to see if he really cared. I also agree that Holden was 100% wrong (and gross) in the shoe scene with her. But I liked that it was an obvious moment of unwitting misogyny and how it illustrated that he was, in fact, guilty of lesser counts of it all the time (another example was when he was asking how many partners she had had and was ALREADY JUDGING HER before she would even give an answer). On the other hand, we had Wendy (so brilliant and cold but, I still feel, fragile outside her bubble) and Tench, who I absolutely loved, who never lost sight of his own humanity, and who was both loyal and yet troubled by what he witnessed in the killers and in his partner (and himself). I've always liked and noticed Holt McCallany as an actor, but this was a truly star-making role for him, and I thought he was the best thing in the show, and its real heart. Last but not least: One of the things this show did really well was spotlight the grotesque misogyny behind the vast majority of serial killers. I appreciated that we didn't have to watch the killings; there wasn't that prurient, "Let's all watch them die horribly!" thing that so many shows seem to get off on (don't even get me started on "Criminal Minds" et al). In this case, by removing that aspect, instead, we were faced with the simple, clinical truth of these men and their willingness to kill and torture women because of their own abuse and (more troublingly) toxic masculinity. Women didn't talk to this guy. Women didn't respond to that guy. Fast-forward to Kemper talking casually and yet with visible, searing hatred, that women are born with "something men want" and they can't just reach out and take it. For me, this season was superb, and I'm looking forward to the next one. I also hope they give Wendy more to do.
  12. S01.E08: Season 1, Episode 8

    Wendy seems so lonely, and the nightly glass of wine where she brings tuna for the cat is just absolutely terrifying me that it's going to end sadly or tragically (for the cat). Wendy seems like one of those people who can handle anything with aplomb, but who then might also break over something small, like someone brutalizing or killing a cat. (Which by the way would not be small to me. Aghghgh.) The foot-tickling principal really got to me, as did his reactions when he was called out for his behavior. I felt it was interesting though given the subtext of the episode -- he's upset by them, he's aware that he can't stop, but he's still trying to twist his behavior to make it seem okay and acceptable. He's lying to himself, and I fully expect to hear that he's broken down in an upcoming episode and either harmed a child, or himself. I was so bummed they didn't hire the African-American agent, because he was so obviously qualified and committed (nice character note that Wendy and Bill were so immediately psyched to hire him, and that it was Holden who was the wet blanket). From a character complexity standpoint, I like that Holden can be occasionally sexist or subtly racist -- it keeps him from being a cookie-cutter boy scout, even though those scenes also enrage me about him. Speaking of sexism, I don't like Holden with Debbie at all. She's obviously smart, but she's also just as obviously not into him, so she tends to give off this pushme-pullyou vibe with him -- drawing him close then shoving him away. Everything seems to have a cutting undertone. And Holden's no Prince with her, either -- he's judgy, passive-aggressive, and frequently, blatantly sexist. Which I guess is believable if a bummer. Although I also think it's saying something bigger (and that the show is trying to communicate) about toxic masculinity and how it directly leads -- at its worst -- to these men who kill women and turn them into dead dolls and playthings in order to make them compliant. We've had scenes where both Holden and Bill managed to strike up a rapport with a killer simply by referencing a subtly implied real-life frustration with women, and it's so well-done even if also stomach-churning. That's why I'm so grateful to have a character like cool, calm, empowered Wendy, who is a constant buffer against that frequently oppressive anti-female subtext created by the show's killers.
  13. S01.E06: Season 1, Episode 6

    I'm really enjoying this show. The atmosphere is quiet but tense, the acting is understated and realistic, the cinematography is terrific, and it's more and more engrossing as it goes along. I loved the scenes between Wendy and her partner. The writing was so economical but in just a few minutes you could immediately see that her partner barely listens to her, twists her words to suit herself, and considers her project with the FBI beneath contempt. Then her little trick with the hand-holding at dinner and I could see why Wendy simply saw that it was unworkable, and left (which I supported -- I mean, yes, Lena Olin as always is gorgeous, but the moment when she parroted back her own sentence at Wendy as being Wendy's POV, that shook me -- it's just so gross). Seriously, my Mom was a raging "liberal spouting feminist" in the 70s. We went to protests, had Pro-Choice bumper stickers and everything. Everyone was political about something then, so it's totally accurate for that to be present here. Meanwhile, I'm confused as to how Wendy's being a lesbian is somehow "politically correct" or out of place for the 1970s. It's not like there weren't lesbians in the 1970s.
  14. I liked this, although I felt that it almost went too dark overall -- poor Cole. Was anyone else distracted by how much the actress cast as Miss Stacy looks like Anne? I mean, to a really remarkable degree? For the first few minutes she was onscreen, I actually thought she WAS Anne (literally until she passed her on the road). I hope Cole and Anne reconcile soon -- I hate them being estranged, especially when Anne did nothing wrong.
  15. Split (2016)

    The new GLASS trailer, to the sequel to this (and UNBREAKABLE) is out, and it's fantastic! I seriously have fingers crossed that this is as good as it appears to be.