The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (8/17 – 8/24)

I apologize for not having one of these posts last week. Traveling kept me from watching most of last week’s episodes until early this week. But if you have a pick for best thing you saw in the last two weeks, feel free to share it! 

This was a fairly average summer television week, except for one outstanding night in the middle of all the ordinary, and that was Wednesday’s emotional roller coaster, featuring the highs of a strong set of performances on So You Think You Can Dance and the twists and turns of an exceptional Suits summer finale.

While there was plenty to love on SYTYCD this week, nothing could even come close to the brilliance that happened on Suits this week. The intensity of this summer finale left me breathless by the end of it, hands shaking from the overwhelming emotional power of the episode’s final scenes. The way Louis found out about Mike was handled so well, especially after the anticlimactic cliffhanger of the last Suits summer finale. I was absolutely blindsided by the reveal of the key’s importance, and I love when I find myself surprised by a show I’m watching. What I loved most, though, was that this discovery of Mike’s secret had real implications—both in terms of the show’s future and the emotional arcs of the characters.

For so long (especially in this half-season), Louis has been an easy character to root for. He feels deeply, leads with his emotions, and tries so hard to do things by the book while others around him are skirting the edges of the rules. The one time he did something illegal, he was punished for it, and he was punished severely. His entire arc led to those final scenes with Donna and Jessica, scenes where everything we know about Louis came together to create the perfect storm of rage. Louis is justified in his anger; his illegal actions that put the firm in danger had very real consequences that we felt throughout this whole episode, but Mike’s secret has been protected instead of punished. But I didn’t feel like cheering when he told Jessica he wanted his name on the wall. I never thought Louis getting his name on the wall would fill me with anything other than joy, but I should have known that Suits would show off its trademark moral ambiguity once again. I understood exactly why Louis felt as betrayed as he did, and I wanted him  to stand up for himself. But it still made me uncomfortable to see him talk to Donna like he did, and I still didn’t want him to get his name on the wall through blackmail.

What made all of this moral complexity work was the strength of this episode’s performances. I was blown away by the subtle but genuine growth Gabriel Macht showed in Harvey—from trying to get Louis new jobs to openly saying Mike is a better man than he is. Sarah Rafferty and Gina Torres were perfect scene partners in the episode’s final moments, with Rafferty’s brokenhearted pleas brilliantly contrasted by Torres’s commanding presence. (Her refusal to apologize blew me away.) Both women’s performances made sense; Jessica faces Louis with poise because this is business, but Donna crumbles because this is incredibly personal, which we feel because we watched her relationship with Louis develop so wonderfully this season.

When all is said and done, though, this was Rick Hoffman’s episode. He gave the kind of performance you can’t look away from, a tour de force of the highest degree. The completely unbridled rage he displayed in those final scenes with Rafferty and Torres was breathtaking. It takes real vulnerability as an actor to be so transparently emotional, but what was incredible was the source of that emotion. Anger is difficult to get right onscreen, and it’s easy for an actor to overact when they’re aiming for rage. But Hoffman nailed it. Louis scared me in those final scenes because I believed the intensity of his sense of betrayal; it was palpable. Louis is an emotionally-driven character in a world that tries to stifle emotion, and that dichotomy was never clearer than in his scene with Jessica. Hoffman has been the MVP for the entirety of this summer season, and everything he’d been putting into his performances all season came to a head in the fierce brilliance we saw on Wednesday night.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

 

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2 thoughts on “The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (8/17 – 8/24)

  1. This week I’ve been watching Orphan Black. Two seasons crammed into a weekend and oh my what a rush. I started with Episode 1 (where else would you start) just to test the water and before I realised I’d watched Season 1. The writing is amazing, each episode flows into the next and there are no filler episodes. A result of the season been only ten episodes perhaps. The story is compelling but what I found intriguing was the depth given to the characters. Each of the main characters has such a depth. They have unique strengths, yet they are also flawed and puzzling on their agenda kept me engaged. Even the villains are complex. Felix is such a hoot. The scene in the car out the front of Alison’s where he is talking about acne and he doesn’t do backup had me in stitches. Tatiana Maslany is amazing. Each clone is unique, their mannerisms, the way they walk and talk, posture is different. When Alison goes to Mrs S’s house posing as Sarah you could see Tatiana playing Alison playing Sarah.

    I read your recap of the Season 2 finale and there is not much more that I can add to it. One thing that I have been thinking on is Kira’s role. So far Kira has been the glue that holds Sarah together. It’s her motivation and when Dyad kidnap her Sarah goes to war. Right from the beginning Kira has been special. She can tell the clones apart, she knew Alison wasn’t her mother. There was a connection with Helena and after the accident she heals unnaturally quick. As the seasons progress we see Kira has amazing premonition is quite the accomplished thief and doesn’t appear to be fazed by the kidnapping. So far Kira has only been used as a tool to get to Sarah. Is there perhaps a far greater role for Kira in the future.

    • I’m so excited to see you’ve joined the Clone Club, Mark! Orphan Black is such an incredible show, and you touched on all the reasons why. The lack of filler episodes and breathless pacing is a testament to the fact that 10-episode seasons are sometimes the way to go. Every episode feels important.

      I’m also happy to see another person who thinks about Kira as much as I do. It might be strange to say, but she’s one of my favorite characters, and I hope (and think) you’re right when you say she has an even greater role in the show’s future.

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