Summary: In flashbacks, Emily works at a university and is married to Sylvia with a child. Gays are starting to be frowned upon in society and Emily's boss is executed. Emily tries to escape with her family but she isn't allowed to leave. In the present, Emily is working at the colonies. A commander's wife arrives and Emily secretly kills her. Janine arrives. June is taken to the Boston Globe where she awaits her rescue. Nick visits and June tries to escape but decides not to.
The Good: The colonies were really well established in this episode. I have been mostly disappointed with Gilead's world building so far, but season 2 seems to be applying more attention to the setting in these first 2 episodes. The colonies were immediately established as brutal wastelands which were terrible to live in. The way they were portrayed seemed akin to a war bunker from a war film which did a tremendous job of setting the tone of how run down this location was. The hardest part about the colonies was to establish that they are worse than living in actual Gilead. I was worried that the show may not have been able to convey the horrors appropriately enough, but thankfully there was outstanding work done here to make the colonies feel like a terrifying place to be.
Emily's storyline in the colonies is very strong. The arrival of a commander's wife was a great way to examine the state of mind of these women, or unwomen as they are called. By introducing the commander's wife who is unable to get any respect from the unwomen, the show immediately draws comparisons to a prison where the commander's wife plays the role of a soft and innocent person who is sure to be raped and victimized by the much more seasoned veterans. Only this time we aren't rooting for the innocent. The innocent in this case completely deserves what she has coming to her and it's very satisfying to see Emily get a small revenge against the wives for the small role they have played in letting the handmaids exist. The storytelling is outstanding and it's a great way to reintroduce us to Emily who will presumably play a much bigger role in this season.
Speaking of Emily, I was glad to see her get some flashbacks to deepen our understanding of her. The flashbacks in the show have mostly been disappointing, forgettable and meaningless so far, so it meant a lot to get a proper story in a flashback which had some emotional heft to it. It was great to see who Emily was prior to the rise of Gilead and seeing her struggle with being a homosexual was fantastic. I especially liked her boss who also offered some great insight on how difficult it would be to be homosexual in this world and I thought the boss made a great impression before he was brutally murdered. Furthermore, the flashbacks went to the next level by having Emily be forced to leave her family in a heartbreaking scene which was made surprisingly powerful due to a great performance by Alexis Bledel (see: Best Moment).
Speaking of great performances, Elisabeth Moss was outstanding in this episode. Her storyline saw June get taken to the Boston Globe where she explored and discovered that the place was a site of an execution. The story is solid but it achieved a new level of excellence due to smart filmmaking and Moss' stellar performance. We are never actually shown anything in the building, but Moss' facial expressions let us understand exactly what June is seeing and why it has unsettled her so much. The sequence was beautifully constructed and was able to hit hard because of that.
Also June was watching Friends in this episode. Great choice of sitcom. I approve.
The Bad: June and Nick are still a very problematic relationship. Nick is so bland and does practically nothing for me as a character, and he has very limited chemistry with June as well. I have no reason to care about him as a character and his motives still aren't entirely clear to me. I understand he wants to protect his child, but does he love June? Does he want to be with her or does he only want to help his child? I know nothing about this and that isn't good. Furthermore, I don't know June's feelings for Nick either. Does she care at all about him? He seems like just a means for her to have sex to let out her emotions, but I get the sense that the show wants us to buy more into their relationship that that. If it does, it has failed miserably in making me care.
The Unknown: What exactly happened at the Boston Globe? Who died and why did they die? What does the rest of the world look like? Are all the other major buildings just ruined like this one?
Will June get discovered before Nick gets her out or is she actually going to escape?
What are Luke and Moira up to?
Best Moment: Emily leaving her family was powerful and painful. This show has been masterful with when it chooses to have no dialogue and it has used silence to its best effect to evoke an emotional reaction. I think that this creative choice is the main reason that scenes like this one work so well.
Character of the Episode: Emily.
Conclusion: This was a great episode which got us reacquainted to Emily and we learned a lot about her. There was a lot of power to this episode and I think it did a lot of things right. The 2 main storylines had powerful moments and aside from the June/Nick relationship, I was satisfied with everything this offered. This is easily one of the show's better episodes.
Summary: In the past June has to deal with a nurse who is judgemental of her ability to take care of Hannah while working. Offred and the other handmaids are threatened with execution. Offred can't be punished due to her pregnancy but the other handmaids are tortured. Nick collects Offred from the medical centre and sneaks her away with intents to free her.
The Good: The execution (no pun intended) of the opening scene was mostly excellent. The cinematography, acting and sounds were practically perfect and the horrors of the fake execution were shown impressively which overcame the fact that they obviously wouldn't be killed.
The rest of the episode is also filled with uncomfortable scenes which are used to evoke a proper reaction. After the previous episode's events there had to be some consequences and we see them all here. Offred's pregnancy getting announced was fittingly horrific in a classic Handmaid's Tale way with all of the handmaids trying to be thankful whilst undergoing torture. Furthermore, the brutality of the burning was also pretty difficult to watch and allowed us to empathize with Offred's guilt over what happened.
Aunt Lydia was central to this episode and she remains a strong point for the show. Her scenes with Offred were outstanding and Ann Dowd beautifully conveyed Lydia's anger towards Offred's behaviour coupled with gratitude for her being with child. Their scenes together were really compelling and the reveal of Ofwyatt was really well done. I like that the people of Gilead do have an apparent answer to the handmaids acting up by practically jailing them if they misbehave.
The ending was really good. The final scene with Offred finally escaping her life as a handmaid and embracing herself as June was powerful and felt earned after the rough events towards the end of season 1. More than that though, it promises that the show is going to change and evolve this season which is a promising sign of a possible quality increase which would be more than welcome.
I enjoyed the flashbacks a fair amount. While I still think that these flashbacks aren't as interesting and satisfying as they should be, I did enjoy this episode's look at how people's beliefs slowly began to change which is what brought on Gilead's existence. June's discussion with that judgemental nurse was awkward and did a good job of hinting at the world change which would be coming soon.
The Bad: The opening scene had some faults though. The hanging scene didn't have any tension to it at all since it was blatantly obvious that the handmaids wouldn't be killed since they are needed for population to reproduce, making them invaluable. I understand that it was used to instill fear in the handmaids, but couldn't at least one handmaid try using the fact that they are invaluable as leverage? Furthermore, the scene was ruined towards the end by an awful song which felt forced onto the scene. Silence would have made it much more affecting and the music only served to make it more heavy-handed. This show has done a lot of things right, but music is not one of those things as almost every song used so far has felt out of place.
This show is also at risk for becoming too much of a torture porn. This episode had so many unpleasant moments and sometimes they felt like they existed just for the sake of it. Show me misery only if it serves a purpose or you will rive me away. I don't want to watch people in pain for no apparent reason without accomplishing anything, and the writers of the show need to account for that in the audience.
The Unknown: I loved the use of a baseball stadium in this episode. It was a fascinating touch of world-building which makes me wonder what has happened to many of the locations in Gilead and how it is compared to the current world. Hopefully we get some actual answers about Gilead this season.
Apparently Janine has gone to the colonies. Where are the colonies and will we see them this season? I presume Janine will be coming back to the show.
Where has Nick taken Offred and how does he plan to get her out of Gilead eventually? Will the attempt work?
Best Moment: Aunt Lydia and Offred's scenes alone were terrifying and were outstanding for both characters. Lydia was superb as she practically shut down every rebellious instinct in Offred by showing her the fate of another handmaid who acted out and refused to listen. The scene is important to the show as it reveals that there are stills takes here for Offred and that just because she is pregnant doesn't mean that she is untouchable or that her life will be any easier.
Character of the Episode: Offred.
Conclusion: This was a really solid season premiere. While it did have some flaws, it left a positive impression overall and got me excited to see more of the new season.
Summary: Chandler gets drunk and fools around with Joey's sister but can't remember which one. Rachel looks for another new job and meets Mark who gets her a job at Bloomingdale's. Ross is suspicious of Mark and gets jealous. Phoebe hooks up with another guy who just moved into their apartment block.
The Good: The 2 main stories are really fun to watch. Chandler is fantastic as he fails to remember Joey's sister and he puts himself in hilarious predicament after hilarious predicament. It's very funny to watch and the payoff of Chandler getting punched feels earned and ends the story on a satisfying and comedic note. The jealousy storyline is excellent too and kickstarts the next big story for Ross and Rachel. Ross' reactions to Mark are fantastic and he plays the role so organically while creeping in tons of hilarious moments to add on to the story. Phoebe's story is fun for a C-story and has some funny moments even if there isn't really a huge laugh in there.
The Bad: Joey is inconsistent here. I don't like how he is suddenly so protective of Phoebe to the point where he is offended when a guy cheats on her. Shouldn't he be the one person who doesn't care about that seeing how he always cheats? It's pretty poor. This also ties into his story with Chandler where he seems surprisingly offended about what Chandler did.
Best Moment: Ross arguing with Monica about Rachel was fantastic and it had me laughing really hard with the "you grow up" line.
Character of the Episode: Ross, though Chandler comes close.
Conclusion: This was one of the funnier episodes this season but inconsistencies with characterization prevent it from being one of the show's best.
Summary: Fitzjames talks with Blanky and decides that they have to leave the ships and walk. Fitzjames chooses to have a carnival before they leave. Crozier continues to recover from withdrawal. Goodsir realizes that their food is poisoning the crew and must be dealt with. Lady Silence cuts out her tongue to tame the Tuunbaq. Stanley kills himself during the carnival while Crozier makes a speech and burns down the carnival. Hickey saves the crew by cutting them a hole to escape.
The Good: The opening scene did a good job of establishing Fitzjames' motives for the carnival. The decision to leave the ships is logical and it's easy to understand why Fitzjames would choose to give the crew some time to celebrate before hard times await them.
I liked that there was some follow-up from the underwater scene in episode 1. Collins isn't somebody we know well but I was happy to see that his character is still feeling unsettled after his short underwater trip. There is a clear theme of losing yourself in this episode with this storyline as well as Stanley's which was pretty tragic.
Speaking of that, the climactic carnival scene definitely delivered. The happiness was certainly needed to relieve some tension and it set the scene perfectly for everything to go wrong. The immolation of Stanley was well done as it, along with Lady Silence's sudden arrival, cut off Crozier's optimistic return speech and interlaced the episode with dread and horror. The sudden aspect of Stanley's death was very eerie and the fire added a good source of tension which needed to be overcome. It was quite scary to see Hickey brutally kill a crew member to save the rest too.
The acting is really good on this show. A lot of what happens only works because the performances do a superb job of conveying each character's emotions.
The Bad: The characters in this show remain too shallow. So many of the crew members have no real character and that makes it extremely difficult for me to feel anything for them. Unfortunately this also includes Fitzjames who was presented as a central character, but hasn't done anything much of note since the first episode. As a central character for this episode, he desperately needed to get some depth like Crozier in the last episode, but we got practically nothing for him. The other crew members suffer from this too and that makes all of the side characters lack any impact.
There were several character transformations in this episode which didn't feel earned. First was Collins' sudden reveal that he was depressed and scared. This may have made an impact if we saw him slowly get overcome with fear or something along those lines, but we haven't really seen him since episode 1. This "character development" feels so inorganic because of this and doesn't pack a punch at all. The same goes with Stanley. At the beginning of the episode he is calm and collected but he suddenly pulled a murder suicide by the end of the episode. Why? Was it because of the lead poisoning? Who knows. It's bad that such a major scene happened without any understanding of why the character did what he did.
I also think that the show has done a poor job of conveying how desperate the situation is. There are far too many timeskips and not nearly enough time is being dedicated to showing how awful it must be to be trapped on these ships for so long. If the point is supposed to be that these men are going mad, then that process needs to be shown. Nobody just goes from zero to a hundred like that.
I feel like this episode was bogged down by too many side characters giving unnecessarily long stories which add nothing of substance. Blanky's story about the first mate on his previous voyage is only there for thematic relevance which is not good for such a lengthy scene. A scene like that should have been used to characterize both Blanky and Fitzjames. Maybe we can learn about what drives Fitzjames? Or maybe how Blanky feels about having only one leg now? Unfortunately we get nothing like that. We get more scenes like this too with Collins and Jopson who tell dull stories to pass off as character development. In the slow middle episodes we need much more character than we are getting, and filler like these scenes is just inexcusable.
The Unknown: Has Lady Silence tamed the Tuunbaq now? Why did she have to cut out her tongue? What does that signify? How injured is she from it?
Best Moment: The immolation of Stanley was so shocking and sudden that it ended up easily being the best thing about this episode. The climax saved this from being a total dud.
Character of the Episode: Stanley.
Conclusion: This was disappointing. There hasn't been enough character development done and these slower middle episodes are being wasted by not developing characters. In a 10 episode series, we can't afford to have episodes like these.
Summary: Bernard wakes up in the future, 2 weeks after the gala. Delos higher-ups have arrived. They discover a new sea which wasn't there before with tons of dead hosts. Back to the present, Bernard and Charlotte escape the gala. Bernard is losing brain fluid but manages to keep his identity as a host secret. Charlotte prepares to retrieve Peter Abernathy since Delos is interested in him. Dolores and Teddy continue murdering humans. William meets young Ford who tells him the game is for him now. Maeve picks up Sizemore who decides to help Maeve go to her daughter.
The Good: This was a very solid premiere. It wasn't bogged down by pointless mystery and confusion and was able to focus on the story instead. That's a big improvement on season 1, where the convoluted storytelling took away a lot of enjoyment from the show. Hopefully this season doesn't get confusing in future episodes and keeps this current format of several stories occurring simultaneously with different characters. I really hope that we don't get more flashforwards to Bernard after this episode. If all this is kept the same, this could definitely become a show I can get behind.
I'll tackle the future scenes first. I really liked the focus on Delos stepping in to help settle the mass murder, after all it is in their best interests that the hosts don't spiral out of control. The new character Strand has intrigued me and I'm very excited to learn more about him and what his motives are. I just hope that his true motives aren't kept hidden like Ford's in the last season.
The season is implying that it will look more into how hosts function, which is very welcome by me. I am a sucker for sci-fi robot stories and androids, so this excites me and hooks me with a tease of full answers about how these hosts function.
The host murder scenes were pretty great and suitably brutal. They were as terrifying as they needed to be and did a great job of conveying the tables turned in favour of the hosts. Dolores' intense joy in killing and torturing the humans is great to watch and Evan Rachel Wood does a superb job.
The one storyline which I thought worked more than any others was the Maeve story. She gets to connect with Sizemore and it works really well since these are 2 characters who have extremely clear motives and characters. They are easy to understand and that improves the show a lot. It's almost as if making everything a surprise actually isn't as good as simple storytelling. That's sarcasm. Anyways, their dynamic together is very good and they shared a lot of great dialogue and had some great humour. This storyline is easily the one I'm most invested in and I'm excited to see their relationship expand and to see where Maeve's motives take her.
The Bad: Skipping the immediate aftermath and massacre after the gala was disappointing especially after the cliffhanger we got. It felt anticlimactic and I think it would have been more effective to put over the brutality of the hosts by showing the full massacre which occurred everywhere.
Bernard's character is difficult to fully understand right now. He is likeable but his sudden apparent mind for peace is a little forced and takes things away from what he's doing. While he is the character I'm most interested to see in this season, his actual personality doesn't feel clearly defined which hurts my ability to sympathize with him and understand him. Hopefully this can be cleared up in the following episode.
The death of the stable hand seemed to be written as an emotional moment which I really can't understand at all. The hosts just murdered people in cold blood and they have died hundreds of times, so what does it matter if he was killed? The tone felt awkward there and it felt like the show was trying too hard to be emotionally powerful.
The William storyline didn't excite me in this episode which is disappointing. Initially it was pretty fun but now it looks like it's going to be exactly like the last season. Ford has a game for him to play and discover only this time it's meant for him. This is not new and it unfortunately seems like the writers don't know what to do with William's character now.
I mentioned the show trying to be emotionally powerful earlier, and I feel that it still hasn't really learned from last season's inefficiencies. I want this show to develop its characters more, but it doesn't exactly seem to be interested in doing too much of that. This season unfortunately seems to be setting up for more twists and mysteries, despite that not being nearly as enjoyable as character development and powerful moments.
The Unknown: Where is future Bernard in the park? What has he seen in the past before then? Apparently he killed everyone, so how did that happen? Did he actually do it? Where did the sea come from? Why was a tiger in it? There are lots of good questions raised here which do a great job of hooking us into the second season.
How did Stubbs survive? What happened to him when he was captured? Will we ever see it?
What is with Charlotte's safe zone? Who else knew about it? What are her motives and goals? Is she working for Delos or somebody else? Does she know Bernard's secret? Why are Delos getting DNA samples from guests? What are they planning to do with them? How will that come into play later?
Bernard apparently is on the verge of terminal malfunction after he got shot in the head. What happens during terminal malfunction? How did he stop it from happening? Was it brain fluid being injected into him which fixed it? Why do Delos want Peter Abernathy and not somebody like Maeve? What is significant about him? Where is he anyways?
I was ecstatic when Ford returned as the kid but was equally disappointed when he was sot by William. Is Ford really gone then? I hope not. What is the door he was talking about?
What is Dolores going to show Teddy?
What are the drone hosts? What are they for and what do they do?
Best Moment: Not much stood out much, but I'll go with Dolores talking to Teddy about what she wants. It's good that the show has clarified what Dolores' motives are and what she wants to accomplish.
Character of the Episode: I'll give this one to Maeve.
Conclusion: This was a solid return for Westworld which fixed some of the shows problems but not all of them. I'm excited to see more of the season and hopefully it can provide something more compelling than season 1.
Summary: Rachel decides to quit her job as a waitress and pursues something in fashion after Chandler encourages her. Phoebe helps Joey sell Christmas trees to help them fulfill their Christmas destiny. Ross accidentally breaks a little girl's leg and tries to sell cookies to help get her to space camp.
The Good: The Rachel storyline was good. It had some funny moments, especially the end where it reveals that Rachel's job has hardly even changed at all. Chandler's lines were very funny throughout and led to some good moments. I thought this storyline was handled well. Phoebe with the Christmas trees is fine for the odd laugh and it fits her character to try to help the Christmas trees. Ross' story with the little girl isn't great but it is inoffensive for a C-story and ultimately rides on David Schwimmer's charismatic performance to make some great laughs, turning it into the best story of the episode.
The Bad: While Rachel's storyline is good, it really feels unfunny for the most part and lacks the humour to make it really good. Phoebe's story is a bit too silly to be particularly funny as well, meaning that the bulk of the episode relies on Ross' humour which is only able to make up for so much.
Best Moment: Ross' interactions with the old woman as he tried to sell her cookies was excellent and had some great dialogue.
Character of the Episode: Ross.
Conclusion: This was a solid episode but it did nothing to really stand out. Overall it's a good watch but not one that you will remember much of.
Summary: The friends play a game of football together for Thanksgivings. Monica and Ross reignite a past rivalry in football and get overly competitive. Joey and Chandler battle over the affections of a beautiful Dutch girl who watches them play.
The Good: This was a really good episode. It had a single overarching storyline which allowed all of the friends to chime in at perfect times with their signature humour while also exploring individual storylines. Monica and Ross were really good in their intense battle and I love being able to see more about their sibling life which hasn't been explored to its fullest potential in the show so far. This was really well done and their constant bickering led to many funny moments. Better yet was Joey and Chandler for once crossing paths over a girl and trying to win her over. Both guys were hilarious and it was really funny seeing them try to humiliate each other. The ending with her choosing nobody was predictable but still funny nonetheless.
The Bad: The episode is really great and easy to watch but it is missing a spark to take it over the edge into greatness.
Best Moment: Chandler humiliating Joey by asking him about where Dutch people are from. Great comedy.
Character of the Episode: Ross.
Conclusion: This was a really fun episode with some funny moments, but it ultimately feels pretty ordinary compared to the best Friends episode. However, that shouldn't take away from the fact that I really enjoyed this episode and the way the friends all interacted.
Summary: Nish arrives at Black Museum and meets Rollo Haynes who owns it. He tells her the story of several criminal artifacts in the museum. Each of the stories involve Rollo offering technology to some people's lives which ultimately ruins their lives. Rollo takes Nish to his main attraction: a hologram of a criminal who died which is basically alive. He shocks it over and over so it suffers, and it has gotten to the point that the man is emotionally wrecked. Nish reveals herself to be his daughter and she kills Rollo and burns down Black Museum.
The Good: Like "White Christmas", this episode had 3 different stories which came together at the end. Episodes like this work very well and are always very enjoyable. The format just works very well and hits very hard with each story.
The first story had some really great moments. I love the idea of the headset which was accidentally discovered while attempts were made to find something else. It added some realism and made the headset feel like a plausible idea. The way the headset slowly took over Dawson and transformed him until he flew completely off the rails was genuinely scary and intense to watch. It was a horrific way to show that by advancing through technology, we may unlock different things we really don't want, like a desire to feel pain. This storyline was filled with brutal and uncomfortable moments, so it definitely got its point across and affected us in the way it wanted to.
The second story was another scary idea. It was a good examination of how too much familiarity ends up working against us in relationships, which is an original idea to explore. It was sad seeing Jack and Carrie slowly fall apart and lose their love for each other due to the awkward situation the shared consciousness put them in. The sequence with Carrie being trapped inside the monkey with no form of communication was terrifying and very sad, once more accomplishing the goal of demonstrating how these technologies aren't helping humanity in the slightest and instead are just torturing humans. The "cookie rights" system was a fascinating idea too and it was a very logical reason to not allow Rollo to remove or kill Carrie.
These 2 stories accomplished something bigger though. They were intense horror shows, but they needed to be in order to establish resentment to the character of Rollo. He is a despicable and sadistic man with no regards to humanity as he genuinely doesn't care about what negative effects his creations have had on those who tested them. It slowly builds up unease and resentment towards Rollo which is what makes the climactic final story so impressively cathartic.
The final story was another brutally sad experience as we learn that Rollo sentenced somebody who was possibly innocent to a life of eternal torture, cementing our hate for him even further. It's by far his most despicable act and makes us really understand why Black Museum is a successful location as it hones in onto those with similarly sadistic minds. This story makes us lose any possible sympathy we may have for Rollo and makes us detest him completely, creating a desire for comeuppance.
And comeuppance is what we get. There is a decent twist that Nish is actually Clayton's daughter which is somewhat predictable, but that doesn't really matter because it is satisfying. It allows us to see this awful man get his comeuppance and gives us a sense of satisfaction and justice for all of the awful deeds he has done. In a way this is also a bit of an ironic look at the show as a whole, as the writer Charlie Brooker always creates stories where he tortures his main characters. Perhaps this episode was meant to be a look at how he views himself or thinks that other people view him which makes it an even more fascinating idea.
While on the topic of the show being self-aware, I loved the little parody which made fun of how the show always seems to have a "but" which turns everything around on the main characters and tortures them. It was a nice bit of levity in an otherwise dark and bitter episode.
The Bad: This episode does feel way more miserable than it should be. There should always be a greater purpose to show so much pain and I feel that this episode's reason wasn't good enough to justify it. Even after the episode I still felt far too uncomfortable and unhappy with what I watched. The show went a bit too far with how miserable the fates of the characters were and that made the episode so uncomfortable that I no longer enjoyed it at times.
The stories also felt like greater ideas for the plot of an episode that were just simplified and shoved into this episode. Each of the stories didn't really have emotional resonance since they were shallow and had weak characters. On their own the would feel like episodes which only had torture porn to offer us and that is a really immature take on dark content like this. The first story in particular is hurt by this. When you think about it, the entire first story had no purpose. We only really did need the second story to start hating Rollo, but instead we spent way too much time showing the disgustingness of that first story. Because it feels pointless, the problems with far too much misery stands out a lot more on that storyline.
I thought the final twist was unnecessary and stupid. It made no sense that Nish would let her mom share consciousness with her. It was just established that the shared consciousness tech was stupid and had little benefit, so it makes Nish seem like an idiot for deciding to do it with her mom. Furthermore, how did she get her mom's consciousness if she had killed herself? It doesn't make sense and creates a plot hole. This becomes an egregious error when you realize that it adds nothing to the story. It would have been the same without that final twist, making me wish that it just wasn't there.
The Unknown: What happened to Carrie afterwards? What does Nish plan to do with her? Will he be saved or will she finally get deleted and be at peace? Also, how did Jack let Carrie become a part of Black Museum?
There were tons of easter eggs to other episodes in the museum. Does this officially link all the storylines together or were they only easter eggs?
Will Nish let her mom go now that she has avenged Rollo? Was she only there so she could witness his violent death or is there a further purpose to it?
Best Moment: The violent suffering of Rollo was great and served as a powerful catharsis to end the episode.
Character of the Episode: Rollo. He was a great villain.
Conclusion: This episode had an excellent overarching storyline, but the individual storylines were flawed and resulted in far too much misery to be much good on their own. In the end that leaves us with a good but not great episode.
Season 4 as a whole was a big step down from previous seasons. I did still enjoy it, but the writing in all episodes (except Hang the DJ) was notably poor and I had a lot of issues with almost every episode. I still enjoyed the season as a whole and there were plenty of powerful moments, but I feel like the show didn't ever really threaten to reach the quality of previous seasons.
Summary: Bella, Clarke and Tony go to a warehouse looking for something. They find a "dog" which kills Tony and Clarke and then chases Bella who tries to get away. Using her wits, Bella is able to kill the dog but she has trackers thrown into her which will send more dogs her way. She kills herself.
The Good: This is the most unique episode so far and it's not only because of the black and white filter. The episode is very simplistic, short and mostly dialogue-free making it an experience which feels extremely different from what we are used to. Since the show has reused some ideas in a few episodes, it's good to see them continuing to be creative. While season 3 felt pretty familiar at times, season 4 has so far done a great job providing new and different content even if the quality isn't quite as good as before (see: The Bad).
The black and white filter was really good. This episode was gruesome and dreary and that filter added a lot of that feel. The brutal deaths of Clarke and Tony were less gory in this state, but they felt more powerful and brutal. The colouring certainly gave the deaths a more eerie feeling. The rest of the episode was also certainly benefitted by the colour palette. With the world feeling so empty and abandoned, the episode needed to give off a dull and creepy atmosphere which the filter appropriately added.
There were very few characters in this episode, with only 1 surviving more than 10 minutes. That gave the episode a tough task of making us care about a shallow character and a robot enough to outlast an entire episode. Thankfully the episode did a great job of giving us basic characterization. We were able to attach ourselves to Bella on some level mostly due to some stellar acting and well-timed emotional outbursts. The other half was creating a viable antagonist and I think they did an outstanding job. The robot "dogs" were horrifyingly real, creepy and downright vicious. The idea of their existence felt plausible, especially seeing how much humanity has wished for autonomous beings and the episode used the dog as a villain to explore the fear of having our own creations cause our own destruction.
I really liked that the show gave us an idea of how the "dogs" worked. There were a ton of nice camera shots which showed us the vision of a dog, allowing us to understand how they worked. The episode also did a stellar job of introducing the many abilities the dogs had including the guns, ability to work electronics and the trackers. I really liked that they had a lot of depth to them and seeing Bella attempt to combat these many abilities was very enjoyable and tense. This could have been a great idea for a horror thriller considering how scary and complex the dogs were.
I liked the ending until the final few seconds (see: The Bad). Bella overcoming the dog was awesome and exciting to behold. But the moment of triumph was too brief as the dog had injected her with numerous trackers which ended up making escape impossible. Her decision to kill herself was bleak but also fascinating. There are so many theories I can make for why she did it. Perhaps she realized there was no point in living in a world with dogs since it's only a matter of time before they take over.
The Bad: There did feel like a notable lack of substance though. The world was woefully underdeveloped and I wish I could have known more about the current state of humanity so I could understand the stakes a little better. I spent a lot of the episode coming up with questions and it was disappointing to get answers for none of them. Instead all we got was a compact horror story.
The emotional investment was low on this episode too. There weren't any shockingly powerful moments and there wasn't anything to properly care about. This episode was essentially just non-stop fear for 38 minutes with no other purpose. While I think it worked to some degree to make us fear our own technology, I wish it had decided to be more than it ended up being.
The final reveal of the teddy bears was bad. It's impossible to buy that these 3 people risked and lost their lives to get a dying child a teddy bear. Bad storytelling.
The Unknown: What were the dogs created for initially? Did they watch over the warehouses as guards? Or perhaps they were meant to be actual household dogs which did odd jobs before they went rogue.
How did the dogs go rogue? What flaw in the design caused them all to destroy humanity? Were they hacked, similarly to the bees from "Hated in the Nation"?
Where are the humans now? How many are still alive? How do they survive from the dogs? Are they able to fight back at all?
Where do the dogs stay? There are clearly a lot of them, so the question is where do they go? And what are their motives now that they are rogue?
Best Moment: Bella killing the dog was a great moment of satisfaction, even if it was brief. It also called back nicely tot he other 2 deaths which were also caused by a close range gunshot.
Character of the Episode: Bella.
Conclusion: This was a solid and easy to enjoy episode but it felt shallow which hurts its score. It's still a good episode though and certainly one of the most unique episodes in the show.
Summary: Joey tells Chandler about what he saw and Chandler has to confront Janice about where her true feelings are. Monica and Rachel watch over Ben for the day and Monica accidentally bumps his head on the beam. Phoebe has to go to the dentist but is scared because every time she goes to the dentist, somebody she knows dies.
The Good: Chandler breaking up with Janice is a sad moment which has a fair amount of emotion to it. There are some genuine laughs to the storyline and while Chandler does go overboard towards the end, it is somewhat funny. The conclusion to Monica's storyline is very good and got a good laugh out of me. Phoebe's dilemma is some good harmless fluff.
The Bad: Chandler is totally idiotic in this episode by the end. At first the break up is really great and handled nicely, but suddenly Chandler acts inhumanly attached to Janice in an attempt to get maximum laughs out of the scene, but all it serves to do is feel cartoonish and unrealistic, sapping the emotional resonance of the scene. Monica bumping Ben's head isn't as funny as the writers think it is and it really just feels like no big deal at all. I get that it's the point of the joke, but seeing that the jokes weren't funny, it then becomes a problem. The poking device is an unfunny and dumb idea. I can't buy that it stretched out as far as the writers want us to think it did.
Best Moment: The discussion about the homosapiens was a classic Friends conversation in an otherwise unfunny episode.
Character of the Episode: Joey.
Conclusion: This was one of the weakest episodes of the show so far which had very little of importance, and what was important was executed poorly.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.