Summary: June is summoned by the Waterfords to DC so that they can continue to pressure Canada to return Nichole. Lydia accompanies her. The Waterfords stay with Commander Winslow who offers Fred a promotion after seeing his dedication to Gilead in the videos he is shooting. June discovers that some handmaids have been silenced, horrifying her and Aunt Lydia. The Swiss arrive to conduct interviews on behalf of Canada. June tries to make a deal with them to keep Nichole out of Gilead by letting them speak to Nick, a commander. However, the deal falls through when the Swiss check up on Nick's past. Serena tells June that Nick was a soldier who fought in the crusades. June is upset that the deal falls through and has a spat with Serena.
The Good: As usual, this was acted brilliantly and shot beautifully. This show is beautiful to behold and it took that to a new level in this episode. Things like the destroyed Lincoln Memorial, the modified Washington Monument and the new Union Station were lovely to see and they added a lot to the world of Gilead.
There were some really good scenes of character interaction as well. June's final scene with Serena was emotionally charged and was a good way to provide a climactic moment in their conflict regarding Nichole, though it did have its problems (see: The Bad). Lydia and June's scene was phenomenal, showing a more human side to Lydia and giving us some really good emotion. Though again, that moment had problems (see: The Bad). Lastly, I really enjoyed the brief moments between June and Rita as they took a few seconds to relax and talk amidst a hostile environment.
I appreciate that we finally got to learn more about Nick. His backstory seems to take his character in an interesting new direction and I'm happy about that, though like everything else in this episode, I had my fair share of problems about this development too.
The Bad: That shouting match between June and Serena didn't achieve its full potential for a number of reasons. First of all, this logistically should never have happened. If Gilead is so restrictive, how on Earth is June able to get away with such a loud shouting match? And in the Lincoln Memorial of all places with its loud echoes! Surely everyone would have heard that. Additionally, there is no way that June was allowed to go to Lincoln Memorial alone, especially not in the capital where it has been established that the rules are far more strict. Furthermore, all of these fights between Serena and June are beginning to feel a little bit numb for me and the only thing that keeps them engaging is the acting from Elisabeth Moss and Yvonne Strahovski. I've seen them fight and make up so many times by now that the repetition outright annoys me.
Nick's past really seems like a last-ditch effort to give the character something to do, and it comes off as something that is pulled out of nowhere. I can't fully remember the backstory given to Nick in prior seasons, but I'm confident that nothing like this was even hinted at before. The reveal doesn't feel earned at all unfortunately. Furthermore, it seems odd that Nick's previous life caused the Swiss to refuse to speak with him. Surely speaking with a commander is too big of a chance to pass up regardless of somebody's past.
As much as I loved Lydia and June's scene, it seems very out of character for Aunt Lydia. This same woman would torture the handmaids without a second thought, yet she is freakishly horrified by the idea of silencing and then proceeds to actually open up a little bit to June. It doesn't fit with what we know of her character, and continues the show's trend of making characters contradict their past actions.
I didn't like the idea of the silenced handmaids. It is unnecessarily excessive brutality, even for Gilead and it seems fairly counterproductive. After all, how would they hide this from convoys from other countries? Surely other countries would have discovered the horrors of Gilead if they are as careless as this. Furthermore, it feels like a manipulative way to gross us out. Just showing the handmaids with cloths over their mouths is telling enough and it sends the message. The rings in the mouths are pointlessly excessive and don't add anything other than a gross out for the viewers.
Fred's promotion doesn't make sense to me, especially since he was literally just demoted a little while back. The way that Winslow's impression of Fred suddenly changed offscreen was very convenient and it didn't work for me.
The Unknown: Does Winslow have any other plans for Fred? Is he earnest in his offer of a promotion?
What were the crusades that were mentioned in Nick's past? I'm interested to learn more about them.
Best Moment: Probably Lydia and June's scene, flawed as it was.
Character of the Episode: June.
Conclusion: This episode was fine overall if not the most exciting, but the problems underneath the surface detracted massively from my enjoyment. The show is hitting a midseason lull once again.
Summary: The next POI is a man named Khan whose antivirus business is being targeted by somebody. Khan is fired and Finch and Reese have to protect him. Khan is paranoid that he is being attacked by an AI. The team realize that he is being targeted by Samaritan. Root comes by to help after obtaining a mysterious briefcase. The group eventually discover from a Samaritan hideout that Samaritan is trying to locate the Machine. A group of Samaritan agents including Martine attack the group. Khan joins them for answers. Root has an opportunity to kill Martine but Reese stops her. Khan meets Greer who reveals Samaritan and kills Khan.
The Good: This was another really strong episode. I enjoyed the main story a lot and Khan was a really good POI character. He was played by Aasif Mandvi who gave one of the more memorable performances for a POI character, helped by the fact that he was given some god material to work with as his paranoia about being attacked by an AI lands him into dangerous situation after dangerous situation. It's a really strong story, and the fact that it involved Samaritan made it even better.
I especially enjoyed the scenes with Khan in the prison. I love that the episode actually took its time during this sequence, allowing us to experience the horror alongside Khan as Samaritan closed in on him for the kill. I especially enjoyed the lengthy shot as Khan looked around at his prison establishment, and eventually everyone started receiving texts and began to look at him with murderous intent. The scene perfectly captured the fear and terror that living in a world where an AI is trying to kill you would consist of. It's something that I wish was explored more in-depth this season, but I'm glad to be getting it now rather than never.
Khan's death scene was ruthless and surprising. Often times, characters fates would be left open-ended but Khan's was not. We get to see him coldly executed, and it is stunning, horrific stuff, consistent with the content that has been given to us in this episode. Once Samaritan targeted Khan, there really was no saving him.
Samaritan was outstanding in this episode. Early in the season I expected Samaritan to pose a greater threat and be more aggressive in accomplishing its goals and that didn't exactly happen. But here I got exactly what I expected and wanted from Samaritan. Things like the texts it sent the prisoners, shutting off cameras and activating traps on the road make it clear that this is Samaritan's world now. I also really liked how Samaritan overheard Khan questioning its existence through a cell phone that happened to be nearby. This was excellent stuff that made Samaritan feel like a threat. And it appears that Samaritan could very well locate the Machine soon. This is a huge development and it really feels like the final battle is coming up soon, hopefully in the season 4 finale.
This episode had all of the details right, not just the Samaritan details. I loved the continuity with Finch and Reese referencing Maple from back in "M.I.A.", as well as the existence of yet another secret Samaritan hideout. I was pleased to see Root's connection with the Machine being used in a creative way as she located security cameras for the team to destroy. Lastly, the sequence where Root gasses everyone was signature Root and it made for a good laugh.
The Bad: Why wasn't Samaritan this threatening before? We see it listening in on Khan's conversation through a phone, but is this seriously the only time that this would have happened in the span of season 4? Is there really no other time where Reese/Finch/Root/Shaw were discussing Samaritan in the public when Samaritan could have been listening? It breaks my immersion when I realize that the characters have such large plot armour when necessary. Furthermore, Reese not being identified, escaping the cops and surviving that deadly car crash were very convenient and continued to hurt the sense that somebody could be in real danger this episode.
I didn't like Root's fight with Martine very much. Root really shouldn't be able to overpower a trained agent so easily, and the whole fight felt rushed with not enough emotion in there. This should be a seminal moment for Root as she gets to avenge Shaw, but it isn't given enough time to be emotional. Furthermore, shouldn't Root have really asked her where Shaw was? If anybody knew if Shaw was alive or not, it would be her. Lastly, Reese getting Root to lay off of Martine for no apparent reason was a bit convenient.
The Unknown: Where is the Machine located? Will Samaritan find it?
What was with that egg in the briefcase? Why did the Machine want the briefcase? Why is it important?
Best Moment: I will go with Khan in the prison. A very good piece of television.
Character of the Episode: Khan.
Conclusion: This was another really strong POI case, only this one was mixed in directly with the Samaritan story, making it even better. I really enjoyed this, though everything was a bit too convenient to score a 70.
Summary: The next POI is a woman named Francesca who is trying to kill Ray, a man who stole from her boss. Reese gets involved in the case and so does Harper. Harper helps both parties come to a conclusion without any death. Reese deduces that she is getting texts from the Machine. Meanwhile, Finch continues the plot against Samaritan he set in motion back in Hong Kong. He meets with Beth with intention to attack Samaritan with a Trojan horse. However Beth's number pops up so Finch and Root work together to solve the case. It turns out that Root was the threat to Beth since she doesn't want Finch to take an unnecessary risk and die. Root plans to kill Beth and Finch disagrees with this. Finch tries to kill himself but Root is able to stop him from doing so. Finch's set-up with the Trojan horse is destroyed by Root, upsetting him.
The Good: Finch and Root had the strongest story here. Their conflict was one of the best character conflicts we have seen in the series and it led to a number of memorable, poignant moments. Both characters were thoroughly understandable and I found myself sympathizing with both. We are well aware of Finch's morality after 4 seasons, so it's easy to understand why he would be concerned for Beth's well-being, especially since they are friends now. His attempt to stop Samaritan is also very easy to understand since it would be ideal for the world to be rid of Samaritan for good. Root is also very sympathetic as we can easily understand why she wouldn't want to lose any more of her very limited supply of friends. In the end both characters simply had different priorities and that resulted in them clashing several times throughout the episode in some of the episode's best moments.
The Root twist itself was superb. I was caught completely off guard by it yet there were still so many moments of obvious foreshadowing earlier in the episode. It changed the dynamic of the episode drastically and made me more engaged than before.
The story ended in heartbreaking manner too. After both Finch and Root bared their hearts to each other when trying to win the conflict, they ended up alienating each other a little. Root's disgust and disappointment when Finch tried to kill himself felt very real, while Finch's anger towards Root at the end of the episode made perfect sense. It's heartbreaking to see these two characters who have such a close bond be broken up, even if it is only temporarily.
The rest of the episode was fine. The POI story dominated the episode and it certainly had its moments. Frankie felt like a much more entertaining and logical version of Harper, and her interactions with Reese were fun for the most part. The action scenes were creative too and I particularly liked the handcuffed fight. The climax was also set up nicely and I appreciate that the story built up to a single moment that resolved the many stories that were at play. It was well written and fairly satisfying to watch.
The Bad: Harper continues to be grating. The interest I had in her back in "Blunt" is practically ll gone now as she returned pretty much exclusively with all of her worst character traits. I found it hard to believe that Harper would work as a convenient solution to everyone's problems at the end of the episode, and it felt like the show trying too hard to make us like her character by making her strong. It's made worse by the fact that Frankie is also in this episode, and I like her character much more.
Iris' story is very generic and unfortunately her romance with Reese did nothing for me. I really enjoyed their therapy scenes, but I find myself to be a little indifferent to them being in a loving relationship. The show has done so well developing Reese as this closed off character, so whenever he opens up a bit for a romance it just feels strange.
There were some logistical issues I had with the Finch/Root storyline. It's hard to believe that Root wouldn't just knock Finch out and forcibly take him to the hospital. Furthermore, I'm confident that she has a cell phone so why not make the 911 call from there? Also, I found it a little hard to believe that Root wouldn't allow Finch to plant the Trojan horse. Even the Machine wanted it to happen, so evidently Root should understand that Finch likely isn't in too much danger if this is the case. I can buy into her wanting to keep him alive, but I feel like Root should have only gone to such drastic measures for something much more dangerous. Lastly, Finch recovered a bit quick for a guy who just drank a neurotoxin.
The Unknown: Harper getting texts from the Machine is a very interesting development. I wonder, who else could be getting texts like these?
Will Root and Finch reconcile later? I really hope so.
Best Moment: As much as I loved Root revealing that she can't stand losing another one of her friends, I'm going to have to give it to the final scene of the episode. The sight of Root and Finch at odds with each other is very powerful, and it provides a perfect conclusion to one of the show's best character conflicts.
Character of the Episode: It's a real toss-up between Root and Finch. I'm going with Root.
Conclusion: This was one half of a brilliant episode and one half of an average episode. It doesn't quite get a 70 because the POI story wasn't the best, but the Root/Finch story was still top tier stuff. With the season winding down, I'm looking forward to what "Person of Interest" has in store for us in its climax.
Summary: Flashbacks show that Finch attempted to kill Alicia Corwin as revenge for Ingram's death but ultimately chooses to spare her. The next POI is a man named Edwards who has been framing people he thinks are responsible for crimes. Morris, the man convicted for killing his wife, comes after him. Reese and Finch try to talk Edwards out of getting revenge but Edwards threatens Morris with a gun anyways. Edwards reveals he plans to kill himself and frame Morris for the murder but Finch and Reese talk him out of it.
The Good: This episode was all about revenge. Every character and every story in the episode ended up revolving around the act and consequence of getting revenge, giving this episode a dedicated focus and theme.
Edwards is a very interesting POI character. His drive for revenge is pretty basic (a man killed his wife so he wants to put him away), but it fits amidst more complex and interesting stories from Reese and Finch (more on that later). The part of his character I found most interesting was his style of vigilante justice where he would frame bad people for crimes they didn't commit to bring about justice. Not only is this a creative and interesting idea because of the morality of the whole thing, but it also brings about good drama when we are watching Edwards go about his business, unsure of what he is planning.
Finch's story in this episode was the most fascinating to me. Michael Emerson was given a lot to do in this episode, and we got a great reminder of just how good of an actor he is. He played Finch's moral conflict in the flashbacks really well, especially when he had to make the decision to blow up Alicia or not. Honestly there was enough conflict here to fill an entire episode with Finch's decision coming at the climax. I enjoyed seeing Finch hinting at his desire for vengeance for Ingram (it even ties nicely back into the therapy scene in "The Devil's Share" which is a phenomenal piece of continuity), and I also liked The Machine attempting to stop Finch from doing this crime by constantly ringing the phone and even popping Finch up as the next POI.
Reese had a very subtle tie-in with revenge in this episode. His scenes with Iris were fine at the beginning, but the last one was really great. Reese got to open up a little more once again and seemed to hint that the revenge he got for Jessica back in "Many Happy Returns" didn't end up fixing anything. He was left just as broken as he was before, which is very sad.
I'm surprised I'm saying this, but I really like that this episode had no tie-ins with Samaritan or the Brotherhood. It was its own personalized story and it worked really well because of it.
The Bad: Unfortunately the timing of this episode is poor. With six episodes left in the season, we should be getting episodes that ramp up the tension and develop the long-running storylines. I feel like if this episode came at an earlier point in the season, it would fit much nicer in the chronology of the show.
This episode was really missing Shaw and Root. While the storytelling was really strong, the team dynamic feels lessened with the lack of banter that comes from Shaw and Root. That makes it less enjoyable to watch the team in action, especially since we have already seen more than enough episodes of Reese and Finch doing cases on their own. Going back to just the two of them does feel like a step back.
This episode does suffer from a lot of the usual POI case problems. Edwards is very bland as a character and there isn't much depth to him. The same goes for Morris. This episode completely hinges on the revenge theme, and underneath that there is very little of substance to actually uncover.
Alicia's dialogue while in the car was a bit too corny for my liking. It seemed a little too on-the-nose that she would say these lines that are so full of exposition and dramatic weight. Some more organic dialogue would have helped.
The Unknown: So was Morris actually the killer or not? The episode left it open-ended, which I liked. It feels more consistent with the revenge theme that sometimes you won't get anybody to blame for the terrible things that happen to you.
Best Moment: I really enjoyed the Finch/Alicia scene. Finch's moral conflict was easy to understand, and Michael Emerson portrayed Finch's conflicting emotions so well. The phone ringing int he background was a wonderful touch too, making us feel a little bit of the pressure that Finch must have felt when making his decision.
Character of the Episode: Finch.
Conclusion: This was the best POI case I can recall in a long time. The revenge theme added a lot and made this into a better episode than what I was expecting.
Summary: Serena is still unhappy because she wants to be with Nichole. She arranges a deal with June to have June call Luke and arrange a meeting between him and Serena so that Serena can see Nichole. At the meeting, Serena threatens Luke into letting her share some time with Nichole. June gives Serena some tapes to give Luke as a gift. The tapes have messaged from June on them and she tells Luke everything that happened. Back in Gilead, June is taken by some Eyes to a set. The Waterfords a filming a TV spot demanding the return of Nichole to Gilead.
The Good: Scene by scene this show is outstanding. There was tons of emotion on display in this episode and some of the scenes were as good as anything else this show has produced. June and Luke's moments in particular were wonderful. I really enjoyed their actual phone call as Luke was overjoyed to hear June's voice, while June stoically kept herself together so she could spout the dialogue that everyone wanted her to say. Because of how fake this felt, the conversation felt somewhat disappointing. But that was the point. By the end of the episode we get to see what their conversation should have been as June gets to spill everything to Luke over a cassette tape. The scene is wonderful, and O.T. Fagbenle ended up doing his best work on the show as he reacted to the bombshell revelations that June gives him.
This was by far the most likable Luke has ever been. He had some wonderful internal conflicts to deal with in this episode as he got to speak with his wife for the first time in ages. We see him pondering the validity of what June said on the phone, we see him processing the information that June fell in love with another man, and we see him choose to obey Serena when he realizes that his irresponsible actions could have massive consequences for June. There is a lot for him to do in this episode and thankfully O.T. Fagbenle stepped up to the task.
Serena and Luke's scene ended up being quite brilliant. While getting to it was a bit iffy (see: The Bad), the scene itself carried a lot of weight, even in their opening dialogue as Serena gives a generic Gilead greeting while Luke swears at her hatefully. Serena initially tries to be kind, but when she sees it isn't working, she desperately goes towards a subtle threat in order to get some more time with Nichole. Seeing that his wife is in danger, Luke's resolve shatters and he gives in to Serena's demands. What's most fascinating is that Serena doesn't even seem to acknowledge that she played dirty against Luke. I think she believes she is being a genuine person, and that she does have a mother's right to persuade Luke to let Serena be part of Nichole's life, no matter how she goes about it.
One of my biggest issues with this show is the lack of consequences for its characters. So when the show takes the time to make a character's actions have disastrous results, it feels even more satisfying. This is the case with the ending of the episode as June sees the Waterfords attempt to bring baby Nichole back to Gilead. And the worst part is that it's all her fault. She was the one who inexplicably tried to get them back together. She was the one who showed Serena kindness and agreed to let her see Nichole once more. And now her kindness has ended up in her baby being in danger of being brought back to Gilead. June's willingness to work with the Waterfords completely backfired on her, and these are the kinds of consequences I want to see characters face when they do stupid things.
There were some other moments I enjoyed as well. I liked Lawrence sharing some time with his wife as they listen to the mixtapes together. It was a lovely moment that seems to hint that Lawrence isn't a bad guy underneath everything we have seen from him in the past few episodes. I also enjoyed Ofmatthew's horror when she became pregnant again. Evidently her pious act is a sort of denial, and when faced with the loss of another baby, she seems to be losing her composure.
I've finally picked up that it's "Nichole" and not "Nicole". Better late than never I suppose.
The Bad: The show is suffering from the same big issue as last season. The continuity between episodes is non-existent and there is never any change in the story. The fact that we are back at a Serena vs June conflict is ridiculous, and I don't care to see that explored anymore this season. Furthermore, we have several moments which breach the continuity of the show. We have never heard back from June's attempt to start a rebellion back in "Useful". Aunt Lydia faces zero consequences for beating up Janine last episode, and she seems to be back to her old self again without any development. Lawrence and June's interactions aren't advancing at all and the constant repetition is already testing my patience. The show is facing the danger of completely losing its quality in the middle section of its season once again.
Serena has been woefully underused this season. For 5 episodes, all she has done is cry, cry, and cry again. It gets old quick and it's disappointing to see somebody as talented as Yvonne Strahovski forced to play the exact same scene over and over again. Honestly if I had a shot of alcohol every time Serena starts crying this season, I would be dead.
Serena's character has been inconsistent, and not in a good way. The show seemed to set her up for a redemption arc, but now they have cut the legs off of that story by having Serena demand to bring Nichole back. Why would she do this? Does she no longer care about the safety of her daughter? It's so out of character for her to completely back out on her choice to let Nichole go. Worst of all, she makes this decision off-screen so we can't even see her get pushed to decide that Nichole must come back. Also, why is she back with Fred now? Did she forget that he had her finger cut off? I can't see a single reason for Serena to stay with him or listen to a word that he says. It's absurd. Furthermore if she wants to see Nichole again, why not leave Gilead? That would be much more organic for her character to do this, yet because the writers need to keep spinning the show's wheels we instead have Serena remain a villain.
The Gilead government is really stupid in this episode. Clearly they are aware that Luke has Nichole. So why do they need to wait for Serena to say something before they demand to get her back? Shouldn't they be searching tirelessly for her already? The fact that they only did something when Serena actually wanted them to is so stupid. Another problem is the phone call from Luke to June and the meeting they arranged. Did the government really just allows June to make this conversation? And did they really just allow Serena to leave the country without her commander? Having the main plot of the episode built on such a flimsy foundation ended up hurting my immersion in the story a lot, making me less invested in the story being told. With stronger writing, the story would have hit a lot harder.
5 episodes in and there has been nothing for Moira and Nick to do. If you have these side characters, you should give them something to do. As it stands, they are useless to the story right now.
The Unknown: Does Lawrence still have good in him?
Who left that satellite phone in Serena's bag? How will that be significant in the future?
How will the world react to the Waterfords broadcast? Will Canada fight back? Will they be pressured to give Nichole back? Canada better at least try to prove that Nichole isn't related to the Waterfords at all because she really isn't.
So why hasn't Emily or anyone else tried to start a revolution against Gilead? Why haven't they revealed more about the truth of what is going on in Gilead?
Best Moment: As much as I loved the Serena/Luke meeting, I have to give it to the moment when Luke listens to the tapes that June recorded and reacts to a flood of information. Such a lovely scene.
Character of the Episode: Luke.
Conclusion: On the surface, this is another excellent episode. I think the actual scenes we have been given this season are the strongest since season 1. Yet the lack of consistency and consequence drags things down once again, and an episode that should have been incredible ends up being merely good.
Summary: Monica invites her parents over for Thanksgiving but hasn't told them about her and Chandler yet. Ross and Joey want to leave the party early to go hang out with Janine and her dancer friends. Rachel tries to make a nice dessert but messes it up.
The Good: Most of this episode was wonderful. Episodes where all of the main cast stay together the entire time are always the best and this was no exception. As stupid as some of these scenes were, they just worked because of the chemistry between cast members as well as the constant sense of fun, and the rapid-fire jokes. There are so many jokes in this episode that it's okay if a few of them miss. The highlight of the episode was everyone barraging the Gellers with sudden reveals, and it was a hilarious moment. Other parts of the episode were also great like Joey enjoying Rachel's dessert, Ross and Rachel's awkward hallway conversation and almost all of the wonderful random encounters between the friends throughout the episode.
The Bad: A few things were awkward. The clearly faked immediate reaction to Rachel's dessert was stupid (though of course the scenes following the immediate reaction were hilarious to make up for it). Phoebe's sudden love for Jack wasn't funny at all and further dented Phoebe's credibility. Lastly, Chandler trying to get Monica's parents to like him ended up being a weak storyline with bad jokes and a very forced resolution.
Best Moment: The Gellers being barraged with information from everyone. My favourite part of this exchange was Ross' terrified face when Monica revealed the truth about the playboys.
Character of the Episode: Ross.
Conclusion: This episode was hilarious and continued the trend of excellent thanksgiving episodes. Sure there was some silliness sprinkled in, but for the most part the episode worked magnificently and had shades of the brilliance that "Friends" has showed in the past.
Summary: Harper is the next POI. She stole money from the Brotherhood who are out to kill her. They capture Trey, Harper's boyfriend. Reese and Fusco protect her and try to broker a deal with Dominic but their attempts fail. Reese saves Trey while the Brotherhood and the cartel come to blows. The cops arrive to arrest them for unregistered weapons. The cartel are arrested but the Brotherhood are not since Harper warned them ahead of time. The Brotherhood make peace with Harper. Finch attempts to follow Root who is trying to get an app for the Machine. She meets with Caleb from "2PiR".
The Good: Harper's character is an interesting one. She is much better than Anna from the previous episode and has lots of more charisma and unpredictability. Though I have my problems with her (see: The Bad), she is a lot more interesting to follow as a main POI character, and I liked that she had a connection with both the main group and the Brotherhood.
Dominic had a good episode. Winston Duke's performance felt more complete than in previous episodes, and that made the character a lot more interesting to me. I especially enjoyed the diner scene with Reese (see: Best Moment).
This latest episodes of season have frequently been reintroducing characters that have been absent for a while (Ex. Claire, Zoe). This episode continues that trend by giving us the surprise return of Caleb from "2PiR", a return that I'm more than happy with. It feels like the show is giving us all of these returns so that we can have a large group of characters going up against Samaritan.
The Bad: This episode felt rather stagnant. The POI story took a long while to get going and it didn't develop into as much drama as we usually get. Plus the episode was really lacking a sense of urgency or reason for me to care about what was happening. Trey's capture did nothing for me and he ended up being a really useless character. Furthermore, did we need an entire B-story of Finch attempting to follow Root to set up the ending reveal with Caleb? I feel like the same feeling could have been accomplished with 5 minutes of screentime shaved off. It's not like "Person of Interest" to stretch out a plot line that doesn't have much story behind it. This show usually does the opposite and condenses a complex story into just 45 minutes.
The Brotherhood have been really disappointing as villains. Unlike Vigilance who always seemed like they would have an interesting involvement with the Machine, the Brotherhood don't seem to have any actual bearing on the main Samaritan story, so they come off as unimportant side villains that we are spending far too much time with. I enjoy them for their personal connection to Elias, and I want to see them cross paths with him, not with Reese, Fusco and Finch. I think that having the Brotherhood appear in an episode without any tie-ins with Elias was a very poor decision, and it did nothing to further the story that I became invested in back in "The Devil You Know".
Harper is a pretty annoying character at times and the actress playing her doesn't do a particularly great job. The biggest issue I have with her is how non-innocent she is. I struggle to believe that Finch and Reese would care so much about the well-being of a con artist who has done some pretty bad things to criminals. Worse yet, they seem to believe that her behaviour is almost justified which feels at odds with the morals they usually display, particularly Finch.
Dominic calling out Reese for siding with Elias, a pretty bad man by all rights made perfect sense and I don't think that Reese was able to give a sensible answer to Dominic's inquiry. Surely this moment should have been a bigger deal than it was. It would have been nice for either Reese or Finch to maybe consider a peace offering with the Brotherhood that closely matches what they have with Elias, especially earlier in the story. Dominic seems like a reasonable guy, and he only seems to attack those who have purposefully and knowingly wronged him. Why not work with him? Elias certainly did much worse than Dominic back in season 1.
The Unknown: What will this mysterious app do? Is Caleb going to be used to create the app or maybe for another larger purpose?
Will we see more returning characters soon? How about Leon who hasn't appeared in nearly 2 seasons now?
Best Moment: Reese and Dominic's meeting was pretty good. It was shot like one of those old school movie scenes where the protagonist and antagonist have a tense stand-off in a diner. The writers clearly put much more effort into that scene over anything else in the episode.
Character of the Episode: Dominic.
Conclusion: This episode was a mixed bag. There were some interesting aspects, but as a whole this felt lacking.
Summary: Ross whitens his teeth for a date, but is horrified when they get way too white. Rachel spreads a rumour that Phoebe kissed Ralph Lauren but is shocked when she realizes that Phoebe didn't actually kiss Ralph Lauren. Joey becomes girlier while interacting with Janine, much to Chandler's chagrin.
The Good: This was a fun episode. There was still a lot of stupid stuff (see: The Bad), but there were tons of great jokes. All three storylines are fun and they made me laugh consistently. Watchign Joey devolve into a woman had some fun moments. I particularly liked Chandler going to Joey's and Ross' only to find them doing girly things. It reminded me of the great joke where Joey kept running into Ross trying to hunt down the hot girl. Ross' teeth are decently funny and everyone's reactions to his teeth are quite funny. Rachel's story is excellent and it has some lovely moments. Phoebe's stupidity is great, Ralph Lauren's brief cameos are hilarious, and Kim interpreting Ralph ignoring Rachel was hilarious. All in all, it's a pretty great storyline.
The Bad: Joey becoming so girly is a bit out of character for him and it's a bit too much of a stretch. Hillary getting so mad at Ross for whitening his teeth didn't make any sense. Surely she would understand. It felt forced to end the scene with the two of them shouting at each other.
Best Moment: Chandler visiting both Joey and Ross to find them doing girly things.
Character of the Episode: Rachel.
Conclusion: This was a great return to form for "Friends", though I get the sense that this episode is the exception since it didn't really fix any of the problems I have had with this season. Still, it was great fun.
Summary: Finch is contacted by Claire who is in over her head and is trying to be killed. Claire is shot so Finch takes her back to a safe place. Reese works alone on the next POI case with Fusco's help. He is trying to save a girl named Anna, a worker at a software company who is being targeted for investigating a suspicious suicide case. Claire tells Finch what happened when she was taken and Finch tries to save her. However, Claire is working as a double agent and captures Finch with intentions of getting him to join Samaritan. Finch refuses and is saved by Reese. Claire escapes.
The Good: Claire's return was excellent and it provided some nice follow-up from "Nautilus". Her presence gave the episode a shot in the arm early on, and all of my investment in this episode came from me wanting to see what would come of Claire running into Finch once again. Her scenes with Finch were quite good and I thought that all of her stories about what happened to her were very well written, and competently acted. It did a great job of building up some sympathy for her, and does a nice job of distracting us (at least for a little while) from the twist that she is a double agent.
The twist itself was predictable (see: The Bad), but I don't think it was bad. Claire being a double agent simply had to be the correct way to end off this episode. There is no way that Claire would have escaped alive, and the convenient sniper shot when she talked to Finch was pretty questionable. I thought that Samaritan sending Claire on this mission made perfect sense. Though we didn't see it, I presume that Claire ended up mentioning the mysterious man she spoke with before taking her new job, and I could completely buy into Greer/Samaritan deciding that this man was Finch. Once that was figure out, a plan to use Claire to ensnare Finch is an obvious solution and it works for the story.
Samaritan wanting to recruit Finch also makes perfect sense. It adds a little more grey territory to the idea of Samaritan as a ruler. We can clearly see that Samaritan is currently doing really good things for humanity by improving things like education. Additionally, giving Finch the option to live by joining its forces makes Samaritan seem much more peaceful and reasonable than it initially seemed. It makes me wonder if Finch may actually regret not taking a way out and saving the lives of Reese, Root and Fusco by refusing Claire's offer.
The Bad: Of course Samaritan's avatar is so cartoonishly evil that it becomes clear that Samaritan isn't actually going to take a peaceful route. I think that's a shame because exploring a genuinely caring AI slowly turn bitter and resentful would be a wonderful story to explore.
The POI story in this episode was a total dud. It did nothing to interest me and I didn't care at all about Anna or her struggles. The villains were as bland as they could possibly be and I felt like the episode was just wasting time whenever it cut to whatever Reese or Fusco were doing.
Finch choosing to leave Claire for dead is very cold, even for him. I definitely buy into Finch suspecting Claire's story to be false, but for him to react by wanting to kill Claire seems so out of character. This man goes to so many lengths to save lives, so having him nearly indirectly murder a teenage girl was ridiculous. His explanation of it being because he lost Shaw doesn't work either. We know he has lost people in similar circumstances before (Ingram, Carter), yet he never had such an irrational change in his morals. I just can't buy into Finch going so ruthless without a lengthy character arc setting this up.
The Unknown: Is Finch's cover blown now? Surely Samaritan can easily find him just like they could with Shaw earlier this season.
What is on Finch's laptop? Is there anything that Decima or Samaritan can use?
What is Root currently up to? Apparently she is doing missions for the Machine. What missions?
Why did the sniper shoot Claire when he wasn't supposed to? It seems really dumb because Claire needs to be alive to get to Finch. Why would Decima risk such an important operation by almost killing Claire? Is there an actual answer to this or is it just a plot hole? Do Decima plan to kill Claire when they are done with her?
What's going on with Elias? It has been so long since we have seen the Brotherhood storyline. I hope it gets wrapped up soon since it could quickly become inconsequential considering how high the stakes are with the Samaritan story.
Best Moment: I'll go with Claire revealing that Samaritan wants to bring Finch into the fold. It was a nice moral conflict for Finch who evidently considered the option briefly before denying it.
Character of the Episode: Claire.
Conclusion: The Claire story was rock-solid with some fun moments. However, the POI storyline sucked and I had a few big issues with the Claire story too. In the end this was a decent episode, but one that I feel should have been much better.
Summary: The handmaids and commanders go to a ceremony celebrating the children of Gilead. June meets with Serena and Fred and tries to sort out their relationship. June orchestrates a deal for Fred to allow Serena to have some power behind the scenes, and it seemingly gets them on good terms again. Janine goes to see her baby again and oversteps her boundaries. Lydia gives in to her darker side and viciously beats Janine, but she immediately regrets it afterwards. Luke is seen on TV carrying Nicole. Emily reunites with her son and is emotional when she returns to her old life.
The Good: The focal point of this episode was on June trying to restore the fractured relationship between the Waterfords. I thought the scenes between June and Serena/Fred were pretty compelling. It was easy to understand June's goals, and I thought that it was a clever idea to examine both of the Waterfords individually from June's perspective as they attempt to put their marriage back together. The acting was superb as expected and I was surprised by how sympathetic all 3 characters were throughout this story.
Aunt Lydia had a really good arc in this episode. Following her injury back in "The Word", we have seen a darker and more bitter side to her character after she had been hurt by the handmaids that she loved so much. She snapped at June back in "Mary and Martha" which was a sign that she wasn't taking her injury too well. Here we know for sure that this woman isn't the same one we met at the beginning of the show as she viciously takes out all of her anger on Janine, brutally beating her down for a mistake which was pretty understandable. Everyone was quite uncomfortable watching Janine get smacked around, and after the moment had passed, Aunt Lydia was suitably horrified by her actions. It seems clear that these rage issues are eating away at Lydia from the inside, and now it seems that she may be facing some big consequences for lashing out like that in front of so many commanders and their wives (see: The Unknown). Ann Dowd conveyed Lydia's fear wonderfully in the ensuing scene and I'm curious to see where her story goes next.
As usual, Emily's story was quite good. I liked seeing her reunite with her family and there was definitely a lot of emotion in her returning to the life that she had lost in Gilead. Bledel was spectacular as usual and she really made every moment she was on screen count.
The Bad: This episode was problematic for a number of reasons however and I'm nervous that the show may be falling to its familiar trappings once again. For one, repetition mixed with slow pacing is a deadly combo for TV shows. The past few episodes of this season have felt fresh with a pace quicker than what I was expecting, even too quick at times. Yet everything came grounding to a halt in this week. This entire episode (outside of Emily's story) took place during a single gathering where nothing particularly interesting actually happened. The episode really milked this gathering for all it was worth and I don't think there was enough substance to justify this. Surely the Waterford storyline could have been incorporated into a plot with a bit more forwards momentum. Additionally, the show milked some more time through world-building by revealing this celebration for the recent children of Gilead. What is the problem you may ask? Well the issue is that nothing new is revealed through this. We already know that Gilead values its children, and we have even seen some of these celebrations last season, in episodes like "Seeds". There is nothing new on display for the world, so the entire episode hinges on minor character development and plot movement for Aunt Lydia and the Waterfords.
What's worse is that all of the more exciting storylines coming out of the last episode were ignored for the brunt of this hour. There's no Lawrence, who has been by far the most interesting aspect of this season. And there was also absolutely no mention of the rebellion which was teased heavily at the end of the last episode. Not following up on any of these moments make this episode feel a little disappointing overall.
June's plot armour continues to grow to ridiculous amounts. Just look at everything she is doing in this episode without consequences. She actively goes against Aunt Lydia to pull her off Janine and nobody says a word. She is constantly engaging in normal conversation with the Waterfords yet nobody seems to care about this. Even the Eyes don't punish her for eavesdropping on their conversation. By far the worst thing is that she is actually able to follow Serena, talk to her and even smoke without anybody noticing this. News flash, when people smoke the smell sticks around them for a while! Everyone would smell the smoke on her and she would be busted immediately.
I'm struggling to comprehend how June's relationship with the Waterfords became so caring. Last season these same people raped June while she was pregnant and did a number of other vile atrocities. Yet now June seems to genuinely care about them as people and is actively trying to help them. I always thought that June was manipulating them for her own goals, yet in this episode she feels oddly genuine. I have no idea why she is so attached to them now, and that hurts my immersion in the Waterford storyline.
The kid actors in this show are awful. Oliver was pretty bad and his line delivery did nothing for me. Kid actros have always been an issue in this show. I initially liked Hannah's portrayal back in season 2 because she seemed so creepy and messed up in the head. Looking back on it, it's clear that I was never supposed to look at her scenes in this regard (June seems to think that Hannah is just fine) and it was just a really bad performance by the kid actor playing her that gave off these vibes unintentionally.
Really Luke? Your going to show off a kidnapped baby on the news for everyone to see? How stupid is this guy?
The Unknown: What's the story behind Ofmatthew? She is getting a decent amount of screentime so I think she will have some importance. I'm curious to learn how she became so pious.
What consequences will there be for Lydia's actions? Could she be fired from her position for such a vile misuse of her power?
Is Gilead going to target Luke now? What are they going to do to get Nicole back? Will they send some men to kidnap Nicole? Or perhaps they will send men to kill Luke. Or will they do something else entirely?
Best Moment: Lydia beating down Janine simply because she had a very human desire to go back with the people she thought of as family. It's a very powerful scene, and Lydia's reaction after realizing what she has done was chilling.
Character of the Episode: Lydia.
Conclusion: This episode had some glimmers of greatness with the Lydia storyline and most of the Waterford storyline. However the stagnant plot, strangled pacing and inconsistent characters hurt the episode.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.