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.
Summary: Finch is sent to jury duty by the Machine to check on the next POI, Emma. Finch eventually determines that Emma is being forced by an outsider to get the juries to agree on a guilty verdict on an innocent man. Finch stalls the juries while Reese attempts to figure out who is controlling Emma. Reese runs into Zoe who helps out. The jury is temporarily adjourned and Emma is told to kill Finch. Emma attempts to kill herself but Finch stops her. The culprit reveals himself to be Tim, another one of the juries and he tries to kill Finch himself. Reese saves Finch and Tim is arrested. Reese begins to engage in a closer relationship with Iris.
The Good: The storyline is fun to watch. It's nice seeing Finch play the role of a jury as it sees Finch go out of his normal environment. I thought that the actual plot was decently interesting too and it did well to hold my attention. Emma had a little more depth than the usual POI characters so that helped make this episode s little better than what we usually get.
It's been a very long time since we have seen Zoe, so her return was a very welcome surprise. I had a blast seeing her interactions with Reese again, and I liked the way that they forwarded Reese's interesting new romantic story in this episode (see: The Unknown).
I liked the background story of Reese and Finch wanting to protect Fusco. It made sense and helped show us the more human sides of Finch and Reese. Additionally it gave the great Kevin Chapman some great content to work with as he got to portray Fusco's determination to stay involved with the organization that allowed him to become a good person.
I enjoyed Reese's therapy scenes. We learned some good new details about him, and I'm surprised it took this long for all of this information to come out. It makes sense that we wouldn't know though considering Reese's extremely private nature. It nicely demonstrates how in the end this show is just about a bunch of people with serious mental problems working together to save some innocent lives.
The Bad: There were some really sloppy moments here. Finch blatantly following Emma felt so odd. They both know each other, so I found it hard to believe that Emma wouldn't see him and get suspicious. Additionally, it felt odd having Finch talk to Reese during the jury meeting. Surely the people sitting next to him would hear this. This is a problem I have had for a while now but I just kept forgetting to mention it. The characters in this show aren't that good at whispering.
Tim as a villain was awful. If he was a jury anyways, why did he go through the trouble of making Emma do the work for him? It was inefficient and unnecessary, and ended up making him seem meaningless as a villain. Furthermore, the moment when he introduced himself to Finch and Emma only to have a monologue was very cliché and did nothing for me at all.
Did nobody ever think that Chris was being framed for murdering his wife? They only realized when Emma agreed with Finch, which I found hard to believe. Anybody would be open to the possibility that Chris is innocent, so it felt odd that the characters were dumbed down to make this totally unsurprising "twist" happen.
The Unknown: Is there something up with Iris? While I'm very happy with Reese finding somebody he likes, I feel like everything won't just be exactly as it seems. Could she be a Samaritan spy? I feel like there is something more with her.
Best Moment: Fusco asserting that he knows the risks of his job and doesn't want to be left out.
Character of the Episode: Fusco.
Conclusion: This was your average episode. There were some things that really pleased me, but some generic tropes reared their head once more.
Summary: Milton tells Andrea about The Governor's offer about Michonne and he shows her The Governor's torture chamber. Andrea escapes Woodbury in the night and The Governor goes after her. Andrea manages to elude him and gets to the prison but The Governor catches her at the last second. Martinez takes Tyreese's group to collect some walkers. Tyreese is horrified and a fight breaks out between him and Allen.
The Good: Milton's little resistance was good and it made sense for his character. His relationship with The Governor is important to him, but Milton certainly doesn't agree with what he is doing. This leads to a half effort resistance from Milton who tries to prevent The Governor's atrocities, though Milton's fatal mistake seems to be that he refuses to do anything about the man himself. Milton is a horrible liar, so it also made sense that The Governor deduced that Milton was working against him.
I liked seeing The Governor easily spit lies out at Tyreese and his group. He is such a good manipulator, and I appreciate that he thought out how to keep Tyreese's loyalty to ensure that he won't be a problem.
The Bad: The main part of this episode was really bad. The whole chase sequence was atrocious and probably the worst piece of television this show has done yet. There was a distinct lack of urgency as Andrea never showed actual fear of the Governor in her body language. This was especially prevalent when Andrea casually walks out of the building when the Governor is seemingly beaten. It's a very dumb scene that hurts the intelligence of Andrea. Andrea's character took a hit too. Andrea is a survivor, yet she doesn't act like one. Here she is clearly just a damsel in distress and she doesn't behave like a survivor. She is constantly ambushed by walkers in stupid ways, and she somehow isn't able to quickly navigate a hostile building to efficiently escape from The Governor. We're talking about someone who survived practically alone for 6 months, and here she is behaving like a total rookie.
The Governor is even worse here. His evil behaviour did nothing to me and felt at odds with the character we have come to know. He taunts Andrea and casually strolls to a building, which for all he knows could be flooded with walkers. Had this show been realistic, The Governor's loud and careless behaviour should have gotten him killed.
The threat of walkers took a massive hit in this episode with loads of stupid scenes. The sudden roadside ambush on Andrea was really poor. It's extremely predictable that a walker would attack with the lingering shot on Andrea's face. Furthermore, how convenient that all of the walkers somehow stayed out of Andrea's sight until the attack started. These stealth walkers make absolutely no sense. Speaking of stealth walkers, what was with the walkers sneaking up on Andrea in the building. Shouldn't they be knocking stuff over left and right? Furthermore there is an atrocious moment where many walkers are standing stupidly in a staircase doing absolutely nothing. What the hell? How are they all there? That's absurdly convenient. What's worse is what comes next. After Andrea blatantly attracts their attention, they don't swarm the door for whatever reason. Hell the door has a broken window on it, so they should still be able to see her! Then it gets worse. Andrea opens the door and somehow none of the walkers try to go after the easy target behind the door and try to kill The Governor instead. The walkers are portrayed so stupidly here. But along with that, they are portrayed as weak. The Governor seriously survived a horde of like 20-30 walkers? Well walkers are just useless aren't they! So to conclude, this episode portrayed the walkers as weak, stupid and not worthy of our main characters' attention. So why should we even view them as a threat?
The plot was as convenient as possible to get The Governor to Andrea. Of course Andrea would just walk casually through a field with no cover when she knows she is being hunted. Some survivor she ended up being. And naturally The Governor somehow found her exact location by just looking around. That's so improbable. And I can't stress how dumb it was that The Governor just sat there and honked his horn at her until she ran away. Just get out of your car and get her you idiot! There should be an extremely slim chance of him finding her again after he loses her. But of course The Governor needs to find exactly where Andrea is hiding, so he does. But what's worst is when The Governor conveniently catches Andrea right outside of the prison in the most generic and uninspired way ever. The Governor is somehow silent as the wind and he closes ground on Andrea absurdly easily.
This episode failed hugely for one main reason. This isn't character drama anymore. The way the episode is directed suggests that this episode is supposed to get its value by leaving us on the edge of our seats. Yet I never felt a singly drop of tension due to the abysmal execution of the episode is just about every department. The writing is awful, the acting is nothing special, the directing boring and the soundtrack sounds like stock music. Nothing about this episode inspires tension so it fails at its primary purpose.
The B-story of this episode is really bad too. Allen and Tyreese's conflict is not good at all. I don't care about these characters at all, so their conflict does nothing for me. Furthermore, neither men are likable in their scenes. Allen is just a prick and we are clearly meant to hate him. But Tyreese? I don't like him either. He is hypocritical, cruel and selfish throughout the episode and it feels so odd to see him placed in the hero role for this story. I don't like him at all, so I don't care for his story whatsoever.
The Unknown: So Michonne did know those walkers. Who were they to her? What did they do that made them deserve their fate?
What will The Governor do with Andrea? How about Milton? Now that the Governor knows he is a traitor, I don't imagine Milton will face zero punishment.
Best Moment: The Governor lying to Tyreese.
Character of the Episode: Milton.
Conclusion: This episode was atrocious and easily the worst of the series thus far. The writing was terrible, the tension non-existent and the actual cinematic aspects were totally bland. This episode did absolutely nothing for me and managed to be way worse than the lame "Arrow on the Doorpost". This season is going downhill, and I seriously hope that the final two episodes can get something worth watching out of this Woodbury storyline.
Summary: Lawrence invites other commanders to his house for a meeting. Nick is now a commander. June gets to briefly speak with Fred. Lawrence continues playing mind games with June. After the meeting they get into an argument. Lawrence reveals he saved Emily because she is useful to the world, and refuses to do the same with June who is selfish and useless. Lawrence gives June the option to save 5 women who are going to be sent to the colonies. June initially refuses but eventually gives in and selects 5 women she thinks will be best to kick off a rebellion. Serena is isolated from Fred and struggles to overcome the sorrow of losing her baby. She visits June who helps her get through it. Nick has been assigned to Chicago and visits June to say goodbye.
The Good: As usual, the acting was stellar. The scenes between Lawrence and June highlighted this the most as the two of them continued to play mind games on each other. But it's clear that Lawrence has the upper hand here. He sees through June's manipulation attempts and fires back at her at every step. Lawrence is not as easily controlled as Fred, and he makes that clear in this episode. The two characters end up having some fascinating moments together. The two that stand out are the scenes during the commander's meeting and the argument they had afterwards.
I was really pleased that we got a look into Lawrence's mind to learn why he is so hostile with June when he was mostly kind to Emily. He believes in judging a person by the goodness of their heart, as well as their intelligence. Rather than accepting everyone as equals, Lawrence clearly puts values on people and he judges them based off of this value. And it's this belief that led to the creation of Gilead. It took 3 seasons to finally get an explanation about this, and thankfully what we got didn't disappoint. Lawrence makes it clear that the commander's wives aren't just randomly selected women; rather they are the most suitable mothers in the world, the one's with the purest hearts. The problem he has with June isn't that she has a confident nature. His issue is that she is selfish and does things solely for herself and her immediate family with no intentions of helping others. And he's right. Since the beginning, June has been selfish and only looks out for her own interests. She has never done a selfless act and is obsessed with bettering her life with no regard to those around her. I love that the show had first presented us with such a flawed main character, and now has presented us with an antagonist who perfectly goes up against these flaws. This Lawrence/June story has been fantastic so far and I think I could watch Elisabeth Moss and Bradley Whitford going up against each other for days without getting bored.
Yvonne Strahovski got a chance to shine as an actress one again. While Serena's story may not have been the very best (see: The Bad), Strahovski still manages to make us feel emotion by how brilliantly she is able to express the emotions that Serena is feeling. In this episode Serena is mourning the loss of her child and is desperately hunting for a way to rid herself of this pain. She goes to her mother first and then to June, and is forced by both to face up to her emotions and emerge stronger. She finally does so at the end of the episode, and judging by her giving the cold shoulder to Fred, she may become a valuable new member to June's planned rebellion.
Fred had a pretty good episode too. Yet again, he is manipulated so easily by June who is able to get exactly what she wants from him. Fred is really kind of pathetic to watch in this episode. He is such a weak-minded person and he has given up his entire heart to Gilead. It was pretty painful to see him practicing being genuine at Jezebel's because he didn't have enough confidence to simply talk to Serena and win her over. I think deep down inside he is aware that he is a bad person, but he is too happy with his current life to make any effort to change this.
The Bad: I wish there was more clarity to Serena's mental state. Since the first season, she has probably been the most complex character in the entire show and episodes focused on her have usually explored some unique and interesting moral dilemmas. Yet when we look at this episode, her story is so basic. It's very odd to watch Serena going through such a basic storyline where she is squarely placed as sympathetic because she has never been portrayed through such a black/white lens before. Serena has always resided firmly in grey territory. It feels inconsistent to suddenly push her as a good guy in this episode.
June and Nick's farewell was a great scene. Yet it didn't work in the context of the whole episode. For one, we have no idea how Nick got into this position. How is he a commander? Why? What did he do to get this promotion? It makes very little sense, and I really can't be bothered to care for his character if the writers don't give me enough details. Furthermore, the goodbye scene is so short and doesn't really have any set-up or follow-up surrounding it. This makes it lose weight, and it feels like a rushed scene that doesn't belong in such an overcrowded episode.
And we get another "empowering" ending. I liked the scene with Serena since it paid off of her story. But June's? It was weird having her suddenly change her mind about saving the 5 women. That's not because I don't buy her changing her mind - I definitely do - but it's because we don't spend any time with June making this decision. In a show which loves to focus on the actors as they make decisions, the absence of any focus surrounding this decision stands out in a bad way. The final scene feels tacked on just to give us another "yeah women are strong!" moment.
The Unknown: What happened to Cora? Did she die? Or was she sent to the colonies?
How did Nick become a commander? Will we ever get an answer for this? Did he just get written out of the story?
What was the relationship between Nick and Beth? I recall them meeting back in season 1, but I'm not sure if they had an actual relationship. Their interactions suggested a history between them. Feel free to let me know in the comments if I missed anything.
Why did Serena get to leave Fred? What are the rules about a wife leaving her husband anyways? Who is Serena's mother? Why does she get to live without a commander?
Best Moment: Lawrence revealing why he is so against June was an outstanding moment. It's a great explanation of the system that Gilead operates under while also paying off of the tensions between June and Lawrence in an awesome way.
Character of the Episode: Lawrence. He has injected a much needed freshness into the show.
Conclusion: This was another very good episode that just misses out on hitting a 70. While each episode this season has had its own individual flaws, the overall story is gelling together in a way it hasn't really done before. I'm liking season 3 so far, and I hope that the quality can keep up.
Summary: Ashley O is a popular pop star and Rachel is a big fan. Rachel buys an Ashley Too doll and enjoys talking with it. Her sister Jack doesn't care much for it and eventually hides it because it's a bad influence. Ashley's manager Catherine is forcing her to continue making music to pander to her fans. They get in a fight and Ashley is put into a coma. Catherine continues producing her music and plans to replace Ashley. Ashley's mind fragments into the Ashley Too doll. The doll requests Rachel and Jack to help her get back at Catherine. Rachel and Jack take the doll to Ashley's comatose body. Ashley wakes up and they drive to where Catherine is introducing a new Ashley Eternal. Ashley makes her presence known and Catherine panics. Some time later, Ashley and Jack are performing together as a new rock band.
The Good: This episode had a pretty interesting concept. The doll thing was interesting and I like the idea of a person's consciousness living inside of a doll while still having control of their body. I thought that the doll coming to life was a pretty cool moment and its interactions with Rachel and Jack were pretty funny at times.
I liked the commentary on music stars. Ashley's story is pretty rough to watch and it sends a good message, showing how the creativity of people can be squashed by greedy people who are hungry to pander to a specific audience and make money. It was particularly powerful seeing Catherine taking Ashley's musical dreams and just changing them to suit her views with just a few button presses. It's so easy to assimilate creativity into something fake with no heart.
The Bad: Unfortunately this episode was bad. The characters of Jack and Rachel are so boring and uninspired. There is no real story for them, and the emotional beats are completely glossed over. These characters don't change or develop and they are completely boring. I'm given no reason to care about either of them. Their arguments are generic and boring, and they don't even lead anywhere. The lack of a character story for them is a huge flaw of the episode, especially considering how much of the episode is spent with them.
The first 3/4 of this episode are bad. The story is stagnant, the characters are boring and after watching the episode, it's all quite pointless. Rachel and Jack's story gets a ridiculous amount of build-up, yet it goes nowhere. The fact that their story is shared along with Ashley's doesn't help either storyline, and it made the episode feel fragmented for a while. Furthermore, there is hardly anything of value for these first 40 minutes. The episode is padded out to a ridiculous degree.
The writing was really poor for the climax of the episode. So many of the things that happened were absurdly poorly executed and made little sense. The house infiltration was ridiculous. It was extremely convenient that they arrived at the house just as Catherine was leaving. The rodent exterminator thing was so, so dumb. Neither Jack nor Rachel were convincing in the role, and I couldn't buy into Bear letting them in at all. He really should have just told them to go away, especially since Ashley's comatose body was inside the house. Another stupid detail was how Ashley woke up (which is dumb enough itself), and Rachel/Jack apparently don't even talk to her. They just leave her until Munk arrives at the house, which is when they conveniently knock him out. Another stupid moment was them running the red light for absolutely no reason. Why do something so incredibly dangerous for no reason? Having them try to drive away from the cops was even worse and only added to the many stupidities I had just witnessed.
The ending of the episode ended up being atrocious. It isn't even an ending. The episode hits its climax and then it just ends. It's sudden and reeks of the writers being too lazy to come up with a proper resolution. The band scene at the end is pretty stupid and it doesn't feel earned in the slightest. No plot threads or character arcs were fully resolved and I felt like I waste an hour of my life going on this journey with the characters. There is absolutely no pay-off for any of the stories.
This doesn't feel like a "Black Mirror" episode. The overly goofy tone is so weird, and the abysmal writing makes this feel even worse. It's so hard to believe that this episode is part of the same series that produced harrowing episodes like "White Christmas" and "Shut Up and Dance".
The Unknown: What happened to Catherine? Was she punished? Were there any consequences for the police chase at the end of the episode?
What happened to the Ashley Too doll? The episode isn't even interested enough in exploring how to morally deal with this human consciousness inside the doll.
Best Moment: Probably Catherine and her men sabotaging the music in Ashley's dream. Nothing else really stood out to me.
Character of the Episode: Ashley.
Conclusion: This was a poor episode. The story was practically worthless and the writing was really bad. This was a bad way to end off season 5.
Season 5 ended up being disappointing. The first two episodes were good but unspectacular, and the last one was atrocious. In the end, this was easily the most forgettable season of "Black Mirror". The show has taken a steep fall in quality since season 2 and this season did nothing to reverse that. Following "Bandersnatch", I feel like this season was rushed out and didn't really end up having any heart as a result. Let's hope the writers can take their time with the story for season 6.
Summary: Reese and Root go hunting for Shaw in the small town of Maple. They capture a Samaritan agent and Root tortures her to get the location where they took Shaw. Reese and Root go there and kill several agents. Unfortunately, Shaw was not there and they were following somebody else's trail. Root is angry and begs The Machine for help, but The Machine tells her to stop. Fusco works a POI case and runs into Silva. They tackle the case together successfully. The POI is Weiss, who is the perpetrator. Silva eventually kills him to save Fusco. Shaw wakes up, hidden away somewhere with Greer.
The Good: The main story of this episode was pretty good. What connected me the most to this episode was seeing Reese and Root's determination to get Shaw back. We have rarely seen the two of them working together, so this feels like a fresh change. Add on the emotion from them fighting to get their friend back, and this story ends up being pretty great.
I really enjoyed the scenes at the police station and with Leslie Thompson. The vile police chief Wicker was pretty funny, and I got a laugh out of Root taking care of him, as well as Reese's awkward smiles to the secretary. These scenes are light and fun, yet they fulfill the purpose of showing Root and Reese's darker turn as they do anything and everything to get Shaw back. This is totally at odds with the later scene where Root and Reese have very dark scene as they torture Thompson to get information from her. Root coldly drilling a hole in her hand was horrific, and showcased Root returning to her former monstrous nature now that she is angry and bitter.
The final twist of Delia being the one Reese and Root were tracking all along was heartbreaking. After all that effort and hope, it all got crushed in one vicious moment. Root's rage was very sad and Amy Acker did a tremendous job of selling the moment. The following scene of Root begging the Machine for some help was powerful, and ended in yet another heartbreak for Root as the Machine simply tells her to stop searching for Shaw.
Fusco and Silva get a decent B-story. It's nice to see Silva again, and it gives Fusco something to do.
The Bad: The story of Weiss is pretty dull though, and I wish that there was more depth and importance to what was going on with him. Despite Fusco and Silva's work being fresh, I didn't find myself particularly interested in what they were doing.
The Unknown: Where is Shaw right now? What does Greer plan to do with her? Will she become a Samaritan agent?
Will Root keep hunting for Shaw? What does she plan to do next to find her?
Best Moment: There were some terrific scenes, but my favourite was probably Root begging to the Machine to help her out, only to be rejected.
Character of the Episode: Root.
Conclusion: This was a solid episode. The A-story was great, and while the B-story was lacking, I was still satisfied by the episode overall.
Summary: June adjusts to life in Lawrence's household. Lydia pays her a visit and expresses distaste for her prior actions. The marthas are planning an escape so June joins in. Lawrence sees them and wants the marthas gone, but June convinces him to leave them be. The escape attempt goes awry and a martha is shot. She gets refuge in Lawrence's house. Lawrence is not pleased and the martha eventually dies. June buries her, but there are huge tensions between her and Lawrence. In Little America, Emily goes to a doctor and adjusts to her new life. Luke struggles to deal with the fact that June decided to stay in Gilead. Emily reunites with her wife, Sylvia.
The Good: It's great to see Ann Dowd again, and her performance is stunning as per usual. She is facing some physical consequences after Emily destroyed her back in "The Word", and I definitely like that she has suspicions over Lawrence because of this. Her interactions with June are very consistent with her character. Lydia is still kind to her since she is a handmaid, but there are huge tensions due to June's stunt with the McKenzies in the last episode. The moment when Lydia snapped after June tried to talk down to her was wonderful, and it nicely encapsulated June's growing confidence and Lydia's distaste for her current physical state.
This episode was all about June though. The story that this episode was centered around was June's growing arrogance and confidence. In this episode she does so many bold moves, actions which she would never have dreamed of taking at the beginning of the show. Despite the change of scenery, June doesn't spend time building up a relationship with Lawrence and instead she negotiates with him as she would with the Waterfords. Furthermore, she overhears some rebellious acts between the marthas and she immediately joins in with efforts to bump up the scale of what they are doing to make a bigger impact. June doesn't intend to waste time in Gilead, and she wants to ensure that change will happen.
Yet June's confidence leads her astray. You can't just force change in the blink of an eye, and June realizes that as all of her actions totally backfire. One of the marthas are killed, and June takes the blame for forcing the action. The mission is a failure and it nearly ends with Lawrence's rebellious actions being found out by the Guardians. Furthermore, Lawrence could have easily been a valuable ally for June. Yet June's arrogant actions have completely alienated Lawrence, who may be more of a threat to June than she may expect.
Speaking of Lawrence, we learn here that he is not a good of a guy as he may have initially seemed. He is shown to have some very disturbing personality traits here, particularly his interesting hate for strangers, and his continually odd interactions with his hateful wife. Bradley Whitford's portrayal of Lawrence is really great, portraying him as intimidating, mysterious, and even scary at times. Lawrence is gripping to watch in every scene he is in, and I really hope that he will have more depth than Fred did. Another very interesting detail was Lawrence suggesting that June wasn't a stranger to him, which raises some big questions (see: The Unknown).
The Little America story was mostly excellent in this episode. Emily's scenes were fantastic as per usual. It's amazing how I have to draw attention to Alexis Bledel's performance in every single episode because she is just that good in every single scene she is in. It's really something special to watch. Emily had two huge scenes in this episode. The first was in a doctor's visit where Bledel's facial expressions really sold Emily's confused, mulit-layered reaction to being told that her biggest problem is high cholesterol. Then of course there is the ending when Emily and Sylvia finally connect again in a very powerful scene.
The Bad: Luke's story was a bit dull and rushed. It didn't have the emotional resonance I was expecting, which has become typical for Luke across the run of the show. His emotions were practically skimmed over and I didn't really have any kind of a connection to what he was feeling. It doesn't help that O.T. Fagbenle has consistently been one of the weaker actors on the show.
I thought it was a little odd that Lawrence would change his mind and let the marthas stay. It seems like far too large of a risk for him to be willing to take, and I was unsure what reasons he may have had to simply go along with it. It makes Lawrence seem lazy if anything, since it seemed to me that he just didn't want to argue with June over letting the marthas stay.
I thought the martha story wasn't the most engaging. We hardly knew any of the characetrs, so it was difficult to care much about what they were doing. The weakest parts of the episode were probably the scenes of June with the marthas.
The Unknown: What is wrong with Mrs. Lawrence? I can't recall if it was explained in the last season or not.
Lawrence implied that he knew who June was before he met her. How is that possible? Is there some decision-making process for which handmaids can be smuggles out of Gilead? Does Lawrence have access to some resources that we don't know about?
Best Moment: There were many great scenes. I'll go with Lawrence snapping at June after the martha died. June facing the consequences of her actions is really important for her character, and Lawrence was as terrifying as ever. The fact that his wife was the final nail in the coffin before he started shouting suggests that maybe there is something more to that relationship than what we have seen.
Character of the Episode: Lawrence.
Conclusion: This was a great episode with a lot to like. The acting is still phenomenal and the storytelling was very strong. This season is off to a promising start. Let's hope it can maintain this quality, unlike last season.
Summary: Chris is a taxi driver but he stations himself at the headquarters for Smithereen, a social media app. He also attends group therapy sessions but never really says anything. One day, a man named Jaden gets Chris' service. Chris takes him to a hidden location and pulls a gun on him, and they switch cars. Some passing cops notice Jaden captured in the backseat, so they go after Chris. Chris spins out in a field and cops surround the place. Chris is still alive as he threatens Jaden's life. Chris wants to call Billy Bauer, the head of Smithereen, and after some tense struggling with the cops and the FBI, he eventually gets a hold of Billy. Chris reveals he lost his fiancée in a car accident because he checked his phone while driving, but he was never blamed for the accident since the other driver was drunk. Chris intends to kill himself and attempts to talk him down by Billy and Jaden fail. In the end the cops are forced to shoot him after a scuffle between Chris and Jaden breaks out.
The Good: I enjoyed this a lot more than the last episode. While last episode told a good story, it didn't really invest me into the characters/plot, plus the pacing was painfully slow. This episode fixed these flaws by giving us a mysterious main character who ended up being very compelling, as well as a plot which was dripping with tension that capitalized on the slow burn pace to maximal effect. The episode goes on for 70 minutes, yet it never lost my attention because of how well it built towards a dramatic climax through some slowly escalating drama and an interesting mystery.
The episode's tone was quite perfect too. It's clear through the music, camera shots and colour that there is something up with Chris early in the episode. These cleverly edited tricks kept me in suspense during the slow opening scenes of the episode, which is much more interesting that what "Striking Vipers" had to offer in its opening moments.
One of the central themes of this episode was grief, and I thought it was executed wonderfully. Hayley as a side character is really good and she works as a strong mirror to Chris with how she deals with the grief of losing her daughter. Hayley doesn't know why Kristin killed herself and that is what is eating at her for all of these years. Yet Chris is the opposite. He knows that he is responsible for his fiancée's death, and he rejects himself because of it. For Chris it isn't a quest for answers, it's all about cleansing himself of the guilt he feels.
Speaking of Chris' guilt, the episode it its peak when he confessed everything to Billy. His story is powerful and sad, and Andrew Scott does a marvellous job showing Chris' grief. I thought the final portion of the episode did a great job of conveying Chris' delicate emotional state, showing us why he had been so unstable for most of the episode. I thought that Chris' emotions emerging was very believable, and I really like how it seemed to touch Billy and Jaden too as the two of them did their absolute best to help Chris survive this ordeal.
The other main theme is that of social media. While this one isn't executed as well (see: The Bad), it still has some great moments. I really liked Chris' rant about phones when he realized that Jaden wasn't the person he was looking for. It's a fairly funny moment on your first watch because of how little we know about Chris, but on rewatch it's quite tragic and is a great rant about the exact problem Chris has with Smithereen: it's too addictive and it controls your life. I thought the ending was wonderful. After all that happened, Chris' fate just ends up being another notification on Smithereen. Everyone sees what happened, has a sad look on their face, but then they just resume their lives as if nothing has happened. Social media is desensitizing violence in the world as well.
The Bad: I thought that the climax of this episode was unfortunately quite disappointing, despite everything it did right. After so much build-up, I expected something new and crazy to happen at the end of the story. Unfortunately, "Black Mirror" opted to go with the easiest and most predictable ending to the episode and that left me feeling a little bit underwhelmed, especially after so much slow paced build-up. For the final message to just be "phones are bad", after all the tense drama I had just witnessed, was just a big disappointment. Furthermore, Chris' reasoning seems a bit extreme. It's hard to buy that he would go through all of this trouble to talk to one specific guy just because he felt guilty. It didn't feel very realistic that Chris would do all of this. I certainly buy Chris blaming Smithereen to offput his guilt, but I could hardly buy him doing this whole stunt just to tell Smithereen that he blamed them.
The Unknown: Did Jaden get hurt or killed in the scuffle? Could he have accidentally been shot instead of Chris? I hope not because it would hurt the ending if Chris didn't actually die.
Best Moment: Chris letting everything out when talking to Billy. This scene felt so real and I think anyone could relate to this. Chris had gone as far as to rehearse this conversation, yet when he finally got to it, he could hardly bring himself to let everything out. Watching him break out in tears during his big confession was so wonderfully real, and will make even the hardest of people sympathize with Chris even after all of the terrible things he did.
Character of the Episode: Chris.
Conclusion: Most of this episode was excellent, and there was a lot of emotion presented throughout. But the anticlimactic ending leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, and I'm left feeling that a better conclusion is all that stands between this episode being good and it being great.
Just a university student who loves to watch TV. And criticize it like hell.