The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (6/7-6/14)

Hello again, this is Heather taking the reigns on the best of the TV this week. 

This week on television started with a heartbreaking sacrifice and a ride on a dragon on Game of Thrones and ended with a shocking reveal on Orphan Black. Along the way, we also saw the ceiling rain blood on Penny Dreadful, learned Jesus is alive and off to boarding school on the season three opener of The Fosters, watched Liv give up her chance of curing herself on the first season finale of iZombie, saw Evan and Paige experience their first setback on their quest to become parents on Royal Pains, and had nightmares after one of the more horrifying images Hannibal has served up for us.

There were two serious contenders for my pick for this week and they could not have been more different. One was quiet and chilling, the other made my jaw drop out of shock. While I loved the reveal that Mrs. S’s mom was both the Castor and the Leda original (though it was almost too much connection for me), I had to go with the quieter moment for my pick.

By now, it’s no secret that Hannibal is as beautiful as it is horrifying. It is capable of creating stunning visual images and accompanies them with a gorgeously operatic soundtrack. When that is combined with what is perhaps one of the most twisted, destructive and intimate friendships I’ve seen on TV, the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

The shot of Will wandering through the catacombs forced the viewer into his mental state. It was dizzying and disorienting with a sense of foreboding as we watched Hannibal silently follow him. It was an immersive moment of television that left the viewer unable to look away.

But what made this moment my pick were the three words Will spoke and how they get at the heart of what makes Hannibal such compelling television for me, even in the midst of all the gore and darkness. “I forgive you”. Not words often uttered to the man who killed the girl you considered as a daughter and who nearly killed you. Yet Will Graham is incapable of doing anything else when it comes to Hannibal Lecter.

Their exchange in the beginning of the episode was the best summation of their relationship. They have changed each other. Not necessarily for better or worse, but these two men are who they are at the start of season three because of each other. No matter what he does, a piece of Will belongs to Hannibal just as a piece of Hannibal is Will’s. So he offers forgiveness. Because as Inspector Pazzi recognized, there is power that comes from knowing. Hannibal and Will are inseparable and Will knows that, as much as he knows that the body in the chapel was left for him and as much as he knows that Hannibal is there, unseen, in the catacombs with him.

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

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Embracing What You Want and Need from Television and Quitting What You Don’t

Hi everyone, this is Heather filling in while Katie enjoys a well-deserved vacation.

A few weekends ago, the first season of Outlander came to a spectacularly graphic end. The third season of Hannibal started last Thursday with its artistically dark and twisted viewpoint. This weekend, a brutally dark season of Game of Thrones will draw to a close. Each of these shows has sparked discussions about when the violence and darkness becomes gratuitous. This season of Game of Thrones has been especially prone to such conversations. Two episodes in particular, sparked such outrage and unhappiness that some viewers (myself included) have simply chosen to walk away rather than subject themselves to more of the seemingly increasingly violence.

These vocal choices that some have made came with an equally vocal set of assumptions about the way these viewers have previously interacted with the series. Whether those assumptions come out of defensiveness or passion for a favorite show, the result tends to be that the group who stops watching feels like their reactions are being dismissed or are somehow incorrect. While I can’t speak for everyone who has made the decision to stop watching, I can offer up my own perspective on my personal viewing habits and what I am asking for from a television show.

It’s not that we’ve suddenly found ourselves shocked by the horrors of this fantastical world. Those who are still around in season five have watched Ned Stark’s beheading, have made it through the Red Wedding, and have seen Ramsey destroy Theon and raise up Reek in his place. We’ve seen these characters become paralyzed, lose family members, be raped or threatened with rape, and inflict any number of smaller cruelties against each other. There is no doubt that Westeros and Essos are harsh, dangerous places to live or that this show has never shied away from portraying the darker side of humanity.

It’s not that we wish to deny that our world, in both past and present times, can be cruel place. There is undoubtedly darkness and evil. We see it on the nightly news or read about it in newspapers and online. To pretend as though any fictional universe could exist in a land that is free of all the problems of our own would be dishonest and frankly, probably a little boring. People are always going to struggle. Someone will inevitably do something terrible to someone else. They will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles and not all will make it out in one piece.

To pretend that the darkness is all that exists, however, to me seems equally dishonest. In previous seasons of this show, we’ve seen genuine connections between these characters and the goodness of which many are capable. These moments may not have ever been the most prominent feature of the series, but they were always there. Even in this season, we saw Varys placing his hope in Daenerys’s ability to bring about a better world. All I’m asking is for more of that sort of hope and more of the genuine connections of which I know this show and the world it is set in possess.

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TV Time: Castle 7.22

I’d like to say a quick thank-you to the lovely and talented Heather for covering this week’s Castle post for me once again!

Source: abc.com

Source: abc.com

Title Dead From New York

Two Sentence Summary When the creator of a show very similar to Saturday Night Live is murdered, Castle and Beckett wind up on set and inadvertently upstage a parody of their partnership. Meanwhile, Martha worries about her new show debuting in a technological world that was very different than the one she last performed in.

Favorite Line “What have you always told me? No one will give you anything in this life. You must earn it. And look at you: almost 20 years later, and you’re back on Broadway. You have earned this.” (Castle)

My Thoughts “Dead From New York” felt like a midseason episode to me. That’s not to say it was a bad episode; it made me laugh at more than one point in time, and everything related to Martha was fantastic. But it didn’t feel like an episode that should be leading into a season finale. I often complain about penultimate episodes largely being used by shows as piece-moving episodes that only seem to exist to set things up for a season finale. Castle bucked that trend last year with the incredible “Veritas.” This episode, however, didn’t move any pieces around for the finale, nor did it have the emotional weight and sense of closure offered by last year’s penultimate episode.

I recognize that with Bracken and 3XK in jail and the mystery of Castle’s disappearance solved, there simply aren’t a lot of pieces to move into place for next week’s finale. The writers on this show had the unenviable task of writing a finale when the next season is not guaranteed and, at the time of writing, contracts had yet to be re-signed. They needed to craft something that could provide a serialized element for next season but could also function on its own if necessary. Because of that, maybe it’s best that they opted for a stand-alone episode leading into the finale, and it’s just my worries that always pop up during cancellation season that are getting to me. I think I just wanted more of an indication of what the finale and the show’s future might hold, but that’s about my personal preferences, not necessarily what works best for the show.

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TV Time: Castle 7.21

Heather is back to share her thoughts with us on the latest episode of Castle!

Title In Plane Sight

Two-Sentence Summary When an air marshal goes missing and is later found dead on a flight, Castle is called to solve the case with the help of Beckett on the ground. With the help of Alexis, Castle pieces together the story and brings the killer to justice before they land in London.

Favorite Line “Air, by nature, should not be bumpy.” (Castle)

My Thoughts Now that the mystery of Castle’s disappearance is seemingly resolved, this week’s episode tried something new and gave us an investigation that took place almost entirely at 39,000 feet. This allowed Castle to play lead investigator with Alexis and the flight attendants assisting in the air, as Beckett and her team helped from New York. It allowed the show to play with a new dynamic and allowed Nathan Fillion proved he was up to the challenge of leading a case-driven episode.

We’ve seen more of Fillion’s range as an actor this season than we have in past seasons. The mystery of Castle’s disappearance and the return of 3XK gave him a chance to show his skills as a dramatic actor, while this week gave us a glimpse of what this show could be with Castle alone as its central focus. It was an interesting switch to see Castle fully in control of the case. Even when he was a P.I., we saw the case through Beckett’s (and the NYPD’s) perspective, with Castle providing some needed insights. Here, he was in control of developing the theories, finding evidence to be processed, and taking on his first solo interrogation. While I’m not sure about his authority to question suspects, I thought Castle was absolutely in his element.

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TV Time: Castle 7.19

This week’s Castle post is brought to by the lovely and talented Heather!

SEAMUS DEVER, NATHAN FILLION, STANA KATIC

Title Habeas Corpse

Two Sentence Summary The precinct prepares for a talent show, creating a rivalry between the teams of Esposito/Ryan and Castle/Beckett. Meanwhile, after a personal injury lawyer is found dead, the team discovers a conspiracy he was on the verge of uncovering before his death.

Favorite Lines
Beckett: I didn’t want you to think less of me. And I really didn’t want anyone else to know. So, stupid.
Castle: No, not stupid. Just human.

My Thoughts What a fun episode! This is exactly the sort of stand-alone episode I love. The case kept me interested, and it gave me plenty of great character moments and interactions. In its seventh season, Castle has faltered a bit when it comes to the actual cases. But it more than makes up for it in its understanding of its characters and providing new and fun situations to put them in. As someone who has watched more than their fair share of procedurals that have run for multiple seasons, that’s all I ask of them. I don’t care if the cases are especially creative, but I do need to continue to love the characters. And Castle does this really well.

Let’s start with the case. Personal injury lawyers get such a horrible reputation for being greedy and representing everything that is wrong with the legal system, both in real life and in popular culture. So it was a nice surprise that the victim turned out to be a genuinely nice guy who was actually trying to get justice for those who would normally be overlooked. This simple trope inversion did wonders for my investment in the case.

First, it let the case be relatively free of twists that seem to come out of nowhere. Everything built on the information that came before it, and tiny leads that seemed to be insignificant at the time actually went somewhere. It felt like a better constructed case than many on this show because the writer had a clear idea of who the victim was. Second, it let me care about the victim. With just the little pieces of information we learned, I was genuinely sad that this man was dead. I believed that he was trying to do good in the best way he knew how, even if some of his methods weren’t entirely legal. He spent his life making up for the harm he did as a corporate lawyer and ultimately died trying to pursue justice.

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TV Time: Castle 7.17

This week’s Castle post is brought to you by one of my favorite fellow Kate Beckett fans, Heather

Source: tvfanatic.com

Source: tvfanatic.com

Title Hong Kong Hustle

Two Sentence Summary At the news of a friend’s promotion, Beckett questions whether she is doing enough to have the life and position she wants at work. A murder that brings the very talented Hong Kong Chief Inspector Zhang together with the NYPD furthers those feelings of failure, until Beckett realizes that her balance now might not look like she’d once imagined it would.

Favorite Line “You cannot leave behind what is always at your side” (Castle)

My Thoughts There are some characters who I just love a little more than all others and feel incredibly protective over. Kate Beckett is one of those characters. She has proven herself to be strong (both physically and mentally), she’s incredibly good at her job, and I honestly can’t think of a character who has looked better in love than she does. She’s also extremely driven and competitive and is therefore prone to moments of doubts and insecurity that make me want to wrap her up in a hug and tell her how amazing I find her.

The case in this episode wasn’t bad. It was a little overly complicated again, and I’m not sure the human trafficking element was entirely necessary. However, this episode was really all about Kate Beckett and who she thinks she should be and what that means for her future. This episode was the perfect example of the way a procedural (which is inherently plot-based) can pull off a character-driven episode if that character has a strong enough foundation.

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TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.17

Join me in welcoming back the lovely and talented Heather, who was kind enough to take over reviewing duties as I devoted my time and energy to all things Parks and Recreation this week!

TMP 317

Title Danny Castellano is My Nutritionist

Two-Sentence Summary Danny worries about the effect Mindy’s eating will have on their baby, while she is plagued with morning sickness and worries about Danny’s smoking habit. Meanwhile, the practice looks for a new doctor to replace Peter.

Favorite Line “Gandhi said ‘The British are coming.’ That’s how he got independence for India.” (Mindy)

My Thoughts I have traditionally liked episodes with titles that start with “Danny Castellano is My …” so I was looking forward to seeing how one of these episodes would play out now that Danny and Mindy are dating. Unfortunately, this episode was not the same caliber as “Danny Castellano is My Personal Trainer,” so my mixed feelings about this episode may be a result of expecting too much.

I may also have mixed feelings about the episode because an awful lot of it centered around a type of humor I don’t particularly care for. Morning sickness is a part of many pregnancy experiences, and I recognize that and may have even enjoyed a humorous look at the way pregnancy can make carrying on a day-to-day routine difficult for a woman. Instead, we got to (theoretically) laugh at all the creative and inappropriate places Mindy found to throw up, and that’s just not something I’ve ever found funny. Throwing up is unpleasant and makes you feel miserable, and I always end up feeling badly for the character instead of laughing at them like I think I’m supposed to.

It was perfectly consistent with the character Danny has been portrayed to be for him to be concerned and try to micromanage what Mindy eats during her pregnancy. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is important to him, and while he’s mostly accepted that they aren’t as important to Mindy, the fact that she’s carrying his child changes that acceptance. Danny likes to plan for things, as evidenced by the baby books, and to do things in a way that has proven to be successful in the past. It’s the way he’s lived his life, and it’s a part of his personality that isn’t going to change. However, it doesn’t make him any easier to live with when he wants things a certain way. He was looking out for Mindy in the way he thought was best for her, but he was making her miserable in the process.

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TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.16

As I began the process of saying goodbye to Parks and Recreation by working on some posts to be revealed before the series finale, Heather was kind enough to take the reins with this week’s review of The Mindy Project. After you tell Heather how great her post was, make sure you wish her a happy belated birthday, too, since her birthday was yesterday! 

Source: ew.com

Source: ew.com

Title Lahiri Family Values

Two-Sentence Summary Mindy and Rob move forward on the fertility clinic until Mindy’s drug-dealing brother makes her realize she doesn’t want to leave New York. Meanwhile, after some mistaken communication, Danny announces that he’s moving to San Francisco for Mindy (not dying, as Morgan thought).

Favorite Lines
Mindy: What are you, his math tutor?
Big Murder: You know, I became a drug dealer to break stereotypes like that.

My Thoughts It’s official: Mindy (and the show) are staying in New York! While I loved the opportunity that the fertility clinic in San Francisco would have provided, I wasn’t as excited about the setting of the show switching coasts and potentially losing most of the supporting cast in the process. Mindy opening her own clinic in New York (in Cliff’s old offices) seems like the best of all possible solutions. Mindy still gets to keep her professional dreams, and she gets to stay with Danny in New York.

While I’m happy with where the episode left Mindy, the jumps needed to make the plot move forward were not the smoothest. It’s very possible that I’ve just forgotten, but was this the first time Mindy’s mentioned that Rishi lives in San Francisco? So much of Mindy’s half of this episode revolved around him, so the lack of previous mention made it feel a bit forced. I enjoyed seeing Mindy in protective sister mode and it’s a good night any time John Cho is on TV, but it never felt like a compelling story.

I recognize the necessity of episodes like this one, which primarily exist to move the plot forward, but it doesn’t make me like them any better. I would have preferred to see Mindy decide that she would rather stay in New York to be closer to Danny’s mother/the baby’s grandmother, or because her life is there and she’d rather be there with all the other changes that are coming. It just felt too abrupt to have Rishi be the one to make Mindy realize that she wanted to stay in New York closer to her broken co-workers. A lot of things related to the fertility clinic plot happened very quickly with little discussion, so this new change in plans fits right in. But now looking back, it makes everything that’s happened feel a little too contrived for drama, which is not a complaint I have often had with this show this season. Whatever my feelings on how we got to the conclusion of this arc, I am happy with where it ended up and look forward to Mindy experiencing her pregnancy in New York with her former co-workers by her side.

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TV Time: Castle 7.08

This week’s Castle post is brought to you by the lovely and talented Heather!

Source: tvfanatic.com

Source: tvfanatic.com

Title Kill Switch

Two Sentence Summary A government worker tries to start a pandemic for monetary gain and manipulates an Occupy Wall Street activist to help her do so. The activist takes Esposito and a subway car full of people hostage, and the experience helps Esposito realize that Lanie is the person he wants to be with.

Favorite Line “Don’t trade what’s real for something that isn’t.” (Marisa)

My Thoughts This seems to be a Castle season of unusual plot turns that provide great character moments. Once again, I’m not sure this was a case that worked for me on its own. I was interested the whole way through and was surprised by the extent I felt for Jared at the end, but that was a lot of plot twists to pack into 45 minutes.

That being said, this wasn’t a bad episode by any means. I love Esposito, and I am always up for an episode that gives one of the supporting characters the focus. We got to see him express concern over what he wants for the future and what that means for his relationship with Lanie. We got to see him under pressure once again, and we got to see him reunite with the people who love him most. We didn’t necessarily learn anything new about him as a character (besides his pizza order), but we got to see his personality and history showcased in a way we don’t often get to see.

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TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.08

This week, the lovely and talented Heather was kind enough to handle reviewing duties while I attempt to shovel out from under the five feet of snow that’s been dumped on Buffalo.

Title Diary of a Mad Indian Woman

Two-Sentence Summary Danny finds, reads, and accidentally spills wine on Mindy’s diary and discovers that she is hoping for a proposal before Christmas, or she may have to walk away from their relationship. Meanwhile, Mindy fulfills her job as teacher in the practice’s affiliated teaching hospital.

Favorite Line “Good evening, fine pupils … I am honored, elated — nay, overjoyed — to man the helm of this exquisite ship of your education.” (Tamra)

My Thoughts There are some shows that I just enjoy watching and The Mindy Project is one of them. It always makes me laugh, and this episode in particular was fantastic for that. So many different moments in Mindy’s teaching subplot cracked me up—from Tamra’s overly flowery speech and Mindy’s reaction to Peter whispering in her ear to Jean’s reaction to Mindy saying that the person she mentored the most was herself. It was funny, and that’s often what I want most from a comedy.

It was nice to see Mindy try to teach the residents and in particular, I liked seeing Mindy try to improve Candace’s confidence because I think it was actually coming from a good place. Shy and timid will never be words used to describe Mindy Lahiri, and her confidence has gotten her very far. So it seems natural that it would be something she’d want to encourage in others. From a comedy perspective though, I loved even more that she was utterly unsuccessful. I was not expecting Candace to very confidently tell Mindy she didn’t want to be like her while not improving as a doctor at all. Mindy may have failed as Candace’s mentor, but she was surprisingly good with T.J. during their conversation at the gym. And of course, I love that Mindy will always be Mindy and bask in the things she did well and ignore everything that she didn’t because that’s just who she is.

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