What have you been watching? Including Virgin River, The Mandalorian, For All Mankind and Mr Robot

Mr Robot
© Elizabeth Fisher/USA Network)

It’s “What have you been watching?”, your chance to recommend to fellow TMINE readers anything you’ve been watching this week

It’s a bit of a mopping up job today. Already this week, I’ve discussed all the UK TV and the Netflix shows that I watched over Christmas, so today, rather than cover any new shows, I’m going to be talking about the regulars in the TMINE viewing queue – what’s left of it, anyway.

Stumptown and Evil both took a Christmas break, and all the remaining regulars actually concluded either the entire season or the entire series, leaving just those two in the ongoing viewing pile. I wonder how long that will last?

But after the jump, we can discuss the final episodes (for now – they’ve all been renewed for second seasons) of For All Mankind, The Mandalorian and Virgin River, as well the final ever episodes of Mr Robot.

See you in a mo.

What TMINE watched over Christmas

Shows I’m watching but not necessarily recommending

The Mandalorian (Disney+)

1×7 – Chapter 7: The Reckoning – 1×8 – Chapter 8: Redemption

The season ends with a two-parter in which the show puts its cards on the table and reveals… pretty much everything you could have guessed around about episode two. So much for big reveals – although at least we got to see (spoiler alert) Pedro Pascal without his helmet on , something we all knew had to happen around about episode one.

However, the two-parter did allow the show to bring back all the important supporting characters it had introduced in previous episodes, as well as introduce another Grand Moff (Giancarlo Esposito) and give us a genuinely exciting fight from a rather novel vantage point (spoiler alert) the outside of a TIE fighter .

All in all then, a show that had a lot of very good ingredients that never quite came together and often tasted quite nice, if unsatisfying, leaving you hungry (hopefully) for a decent meal next season.

Episode reviews: Initial

Virgin River (Netflix)

1×4-1×10

As you might expect of a Mills & Boon adaptation, things panned out reasonably predictably over the course of the remaining episodes. But not entirely and there were enough twists, particularly involving the nearby illegal marijuana production facility (Ed: Surely some mistake?) and Lexa Doig’s mysterious baker, that you’re still kept on your toes a reasonable amount throughout.

Given quite how many books there are in the Virgin River sequence – a staggering 21 in all – it’s perhaps unsurprising that the season ends on several cliffhangers, with plenty of story still to tell. (spoiler alert) Will Breckenridge return to Virgin River? Will Henderson’s alcoholism be addressed? Will O’Toole and Matheson be properly reconciled? Will Doig’s past catch up with her? Will Henderson’s ex-marine buddy turn out to be super-evil now he’s joined the crims in the marijuana camp?

The show is also seemingly founded on the firm expectation of there being additional episodes, with the likes of Doig’s real-life husband Michael Shanks (him off Stargate SG-1) appearing in a seemingly minor role towards the end that’s more explicable if it expands in subsequent seasons.

So while it would have been nice to have had a Mills & Boon fairytale ending, the fact there’s probably plenty more to come of what turned out to be one of Netflix’s surprise hits last year means that it doesn’t feel like we’ve been robbed or anything. Plus it does mean at least 10 more episodes of Alex Breckenridge – that’s something to be thankful for, hey?

Episode reviews: Initial

The recommended list

For All Mankind (Apple TV+)

1×10 – A City Upon A Hill

For All Mankind went out on something of a high, with a jolly decent, jolly exciting tale of adventures in space and on the moon that sometimes rivalled The Martian. Which is surprising, given how depressing and generally uninspiring the first few episodes were.

While some of the soapiness wasted our time, at its best For All Mankind get us some properly exciting moments, while authentically recreating and re-creating history.

Of course, the show ends in the early 1980s, so how much of the cast will be back for season two remains to be seen. Will we still have a space shuttle? Will we be on the way to Mars? I wasn’t sure I’d care at the start of the season, but I want to know now.

Episode reviews: Verdict

Mr Robot (US: USA; UK: Amazon)

4×12-4×13 – Season finale

One of the boldest, most visually exciting shows of the past five years, Mr Robot ended on something of a “Hien? Quoi?” As I pointed out when I passed verdict on it back in season one, the show was either quite brilliant or quite awful, depending on how much of it was real, and we’re now left in a position of not quite knowing how much of what we’ve seen was real (and nonsensical) or imagined (and brilliant).

Kudos on the double bluff about ‘the machine’ but looking back, there are so many hints and ideas that went nowhere or that seem to contradict what we’ve seen. The departure of so many characters along the way in odd manners was also disappointing if it was all real.

Nevertheless, and despite a very wobbly third season, the show had so many episodes of outright genius – mainly in the first and second seasons, it’s true, but hats off to this season’s heist episode – as well as one of the most authentic looks at modern computing and security, as well as geek culture, that even if it isn’t remembered as a classic in the same way as The Sopranos, I doubt it’ll entirely disappear from the collective unconsciousness, particularly the collective nerd unconsciousness.

Episode reviews: Initial, Verdict

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