It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend anything you’ve been watching this week
This week’s review count has been pretty low, with just a few movies in Movie Monday and the whole of The Terror (US: AMC; UK: AMC UK) to TMINE’s name. Nevertheless, I am a bit behind schedule, after having watched all of that. Still, it could be worse – Harrow is still in the viewing queue, as is Legion, so they’ll have to wait, but I’ll be doing a third-episode verdict on Killing Eve (US: BBC America; UK: BBC One/BBC Three) later in the week and because there haven’t been any other new shows, I’ve caught up with everything else.
So after the jump, with SEAL Team on holiday yet again, a look at an otherwise remarkably full list of the latest episodes of the regulars: The Americans, The Good Fight, Krypton, Silicon Valley and Timeless, as well as the final episode of The Looming Tower. And, oh look – Westworld is back.
Will I ever get round to reviewing Trust? You never know…
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Krypton (US: Syfy)
1×5 – House of Zod
Soporifically dull. Just more House vs House nonsense, as well as within House daftness, in which the Zods show off how to be the most dickish people possible. Okay, so it was quite fun to find there’s an entire pagan race living on Krypton who seem to speak Swedish, but had it not been for literally the final sentence in the entire episode – uttered by that Colin Salmon, no less, who I’ve neglected to mention has been in this for a few episodes now – I would have declared an end to my Krypton watching. However, what he said is just interesting enough that I’m going to stick with it for another episode at least.
Episode reviews: 1
The Looming Tower (US: Hulu; UK: Amazon)
1×10 – 9/11
Obviously a bit of a gut-wrenching one, although very little of the story is set at Ground Zero. Instead, it’s about the reactions of everyone to what happened on 9/11. It’s all very tastefully done and leaves most to the viewer’s imagination.
But it ends oddly. This was the season finale. While there’s a couple of flashforwards to the 9/11 inquiry, the show doesn’t really do much it hasn’t already done in terms of delivering a message. There’s no really examination of what happened afterwards either.
Instead, the final episode is more about the Muslims and Islam. As before, we have whole scenes in Arabic, but here, the show uses our hero to demonstrate not only that Islam is a religion of peace, but those who say otherwise don’t know the Quran and have been duped. It’s actually a technique Ali Soufan used in real-life to break prisoners, so not a mere fiction of optimistic liberals. Similarly, it’s Soufan’s relationships with fellow Muslims that enables him to even get his foot in the door and it’s their compassion that opens it for him.
All in all, though, an odd series that was rather unfocused in the middle few episodes, but had genuine moments of brilliance at beginning and end. The lack of real explanation of what happens next was its Achilles Heel, however, which is why I’m not putting it on my recommended list.
Episode reviews: 1-3
Timeless (US: NBC; UK: E4)
2×5 – The King of the Delta Blues
Another slight tinkering to the format allows us to send Patterson Joseph off on his first mission and although the now obligatory absolutely nonsensical reason for the story is even stupider than normal – Rittenhouse want to stop a music album being recorded because it’ll ultimately lead to hippies and the civil rights movement – and the idea of sending Wyatt, the world’s least convincing ex member of Delta, single-handedly into Rittenhouse’s HQ is beyond daft, it’s a breathtaking episode.
Why? Because for one thing, we have a show that’s not on BET that actually has two black leads, but more than that, there are whole scenes in which there are almost no white actors. Even more so, there a black American and a black Brit and there is nuance about the different cultures and histories both bring with them. It’s a little thing but it’s so rare, it almost stunned me.
And kudos for that final record sleeve addition.
The Americans (US: FX; UK: ITV4)
6×4 – Mr and Mrs Teacup
Well, who knows what Philip wants now or even if he’s been out of the spying game at all? And who knows what Elizabeth wants, given that was the darkest scene in TV history. Literally. I mean, I usually watch episodes on my iPad so occasionally I just assume that glare from the sun or greasy fingers on the screen are going to reduce visibility, but that was about five minutes where you couldn’t see anything on-screen – deliberately, according to the Slate podcast.
Excellent as always though.
The Good Fight (US: CBS All Access; UK: More4)
2×8 – Day 457
The Good Fight has always been remarkably intelligent and up-to-date with its plotting, and given the recent Margo Martindale plot actually came to pass in real-life this week, we have to assume the producers know what they’re talking about. But it was regular occurrence last season and this was the third or fourth episode this season that’s genuinely made me think “Wow, I’ve never seen this as a plot on TV before.” Here, the use of targeted Facebook “fake news” feeds to influence jurists in trial. You really do learn things watching this. All that and Alan Alda, as well as Tim Matheson and Gary Cole together for the first time since A Very Brady Sequel.
Silicon Valley (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
5×5 – Facial Recognition
A nice little AI-themed episode but one more notable for the return of a certain swami. Generally fine, with a few gross-out moments, and Jarrod’s lips were entertaining, but nothing extraordinary.
Westworld (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
2×1 – Journey Into Night
Well, if you understood all that, you were probably one of the producers. For the rest of us, more of the usual things we’ve come to expect – gore, nudity and violence, all wrapped up an intellectually exciting sheath of non-linear storytelling, time jumps, unreliable narration, interstitials, questions about the nature of free will and consciousness, and the occasional meta joke (“I wrote that line” “I thought it was a bit on the nose”). It would be as hard to say whether it was any good as it would be for an ant to decide what shape the Earth is, but as the narrative continues and we learn what’s real and what happened when, maybe I’ll be able to say then.
Oh, obviously, it was beautifully put together and marvellously imaginative, and I thought everything to do with the production and the private army was marvellously creepy. I just didn’t really understand it.