It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week
As we’re on the reduced August TMINE schedule still, last week’s previous WHYBW was mainly a chance for you all to recommend shows you’ve been watching and for me to catch up with the regulars in the viewing queue. I’ve done that now, so expect plenty of Boxsets and reviews in the next week or so.
But today, I’m going to focus on looking at the final episodes of all the shows that were in the regulars list before I went on holiday: Departure, Legion, Perpetual Grace LTD and Swamp Thing.
However, a few previous regulars returned to the airwaves/broadband connections in the past month, so I’ll also be looking at the new seasons of both False Flag and Glitch.
See you in a mo.
Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending
Departure (Canada: Global; UK: Universal)
After an initially quite promising first episode, Departure didn’t so much plummet in quality as gently glide. In common with Pine Gap, it at first looked like it was going to pioneer the “remote investigation” genre of mysteries, investigating a proper air crash using only the tools available to someone in London. However, it quickly became a conspiracy thriller, in which Archie Panjabi had to try to work out who’s hiding what from her and why, with red herrings galore. It even ended with her doing an Agatha Christie and assembling the suspects so she could explain her theory.
To its credit, however, Departure never went for the outright stupid and maintained a certain level of accuracy and verisimilitude. There was a decent ending, everything pretty much hung together and it had something to say about the intersection of business, government and “non-State actors”. That meant its six episodes were a decent enough way to spend the summer that didn’t ever feel like it was stretching the plot out too far.
On the minus side, it had literally the worst fight scene in modern TV history. It was practically a slapping match. Oh dear.
Episode reviews: Initial
Swamp Thing (US: DC Universe)
1×8 – Long Walk Home, 1×9 – The Anatomy Lesson, 1×10 – Loose Ends
After seven episodes setting up ‘the Rot’ as the bad guy for the whole season, the final three episodes essentially threw all that aside in order to:
- Reveal that Swamp Thing is plant who thinks he’s a man, not vice versa. Which is so well known, I included it unspoilered in my initial review.
- Establish Blue Devil as a character
- Establish The Floronic Man as a character
Which might have worked if there’d been a second season, but it ultimately meant that absolutely no plot elements had any kind of resolution and the show’s other main focus, Abby, had almost bugger all to do in the final three episodes.
On the whole then, a badly paced, misguided first season that had plenty of good things about it, all of which were arranged incorrectly and ultimately made worse by the lack of second season.
It was better than the 90s show for sure and if you simply wanted to watch a lukewarm version of Alan Moore’s comics sans John Constantine and the Parliament of Trees, you’d have been happy. But for the casual viewer, a bit of waste of time.
Episode reviews: Initial
The recommended list
כפולים (False Flag) (Israel: Channel 2; UK: Fox UK)
A welcome return for Israel’s premiere “are they spies or aren’t they?” show, in which a new bunch of Israeli civilians are implicated in an international incident and the audience has to work out which are spies, which aren’t, what countries the spies are working for and what countries the spies think they’re working for.
On the whole, the first five episodes have actually been better than the first season, with a pared down, ‘just the facts’ approach that’s benefited from only having three separate groups of people involved, so only a few sets of issues to deal with (“Can the orthodox family take the fact their daughter is gay?”). It’s also a slight flip, since now we’re on the side of the investigating authorities, rather than the innocents they’re investigating as per the first season, which makes it slightly more enjoyable.
On the other hand, the show has been stringing the revelations out, so while you can sort of guess that (spoiler alert) the two obvious spies are friends/relatives but have been recruited under a false flag, perhaps by Mossad , five episodes in we’re a little strapped for motivations and why any of the suspicious people are doing those suspicious things.
There are only two returning characters from the first season so far, one obvious (the main investigator, who’s now the show’s real focus), one who wouldn’t have been obvious were it not for the fact the credits have listed him first for the entire run, even though he only showed up in episode four. Now he’s here, though, his previous motivations appear to have been chucked in the bin, so he’s also part of the “What are they all doing and why?” contingency.
It’s still appointment TV and is more consistent than the first season. But they really need to get a wriggle on, you know?
Episode reviews: Initial
Glitch (Australia: ABC; UK: Netflix)
The best of the “dead are coming back” shows enters its third and final season. Despite the second season seeming to close off explanations and the show’s set-up, the third season does some nifty tricks to get the narrative heading off in new directions.
We have new “returned”, one of whom is older than all the previous returned, has an important tie-in with Australian social history (of course) and also has a link with another returned. The other’s a bit more mystifying in her presence, but could open a new religious angle to the show – but wait and see on that.
With no boundary anymore, everyone’s quitting town, too, which should open up some more possibilities.
We also get the transformation of one of the goodies into a “reaper” in an almost Final Destination-funny bathroom scene that also gives said character some worthwhile character changes.
All in all, a surprising good start to a season that didn’t feel 100% necessary.
However, if you’re expecting much of the increasingly popular Rodger Corser, you’ll have to wait until next week. He spends this week digging a hole.
Legion (US: FX; UK: Fox UK)
3×5 – 3×8 – Chapters 24-27
Lots of marvellous plot and superheroics suddenly hit a very weird fairy tale episode, smashing the momentum of the season to pieces. But apart from that, truly the show’s best season, full of properly frightening moments, awe-inspiring scenes and real visual imagination.
The final episode is also a novelty, fulfilling the 70s peace-love vibe to give us a resolution that’s all about acceptance, familial love and change, without which the world will end.
Definitely one of the best shows of the past five years.
Perpetual Grace LTD (US: Epix)
1×8 – Fiveever, 1×9 – The Elements of an Epiphany, 1×10 – A Sheriff In The Era Of The Cartel
As with Swamp Thing, another show that really wants a second season so squandered a lot of good will by not wrapping up more than about two plot elements in its final episodes.
All the same, a marvellously funny noir of elaborate dialogue and sometimes surreal situations, with wonderful performances and one of Ben Kingsley’s strangest ever accents. Sure, the plot may not have resolved, but with this one, it’s really all about the journey.
Episode reviews: Initial