Game of Thrones – “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” (A-)
A lot more talking and catching up, but this time there’s real emotion there. There are far too many overconfident characters making plans for “afterwards,” when there’s no guarantee there will be an afterwards. This is a threat unlike what they’ve faced before, so making it out alive in past battles doesn’t mean all these folks are going to make it. In fact, I think many won’t, including beloved characters like Tyrion and Brienne. His overconfidence and her knighting seem like dead giveaways, along with all the talk of “the crypts are safe.” No one’s safe. At least Arya found her moment and seized it.
Barry – “What?!” (A)
The best episode of the season, with powerhouse performances from both Bill Hader and Sarah Goldberg. Barry’s attempts at being a better person might be upended by the big twist at the end, that prompts him to say the episode’s title. What had seemed like a major obstacle is revealed to be petty revenge. It’s even more shocking than it appears on the surface.
Veep – “South Carolina” (B)
Perhaps the show’s most cynical episode to date, which is really saying something. It’s also extremely plot-heavy. Selina, in an effort to woo South Carolina’s black voters while also dog-whistling to racist white voters, realizes her best path to victory is ignoring both and getting money (and nefarious help) from the Chinese government.
Killing Eve – “The Hungry Caterpillar” (A-)
Old habits die hard, as Eve and Villanelle toy with each other right up until the breaking point. While I enjoyed the first two episodes, this one finally felt like it was back to the best of Season 1. The reveal that Konstantin is still alive shifts the power back to Villanelle’s favor, now that she’s free to be as garish as she wants to be.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Ticking Clocks” (A-)
A real-time episode, with the 99 facing crises ranging from getting garlic bread in time for lunch to dealing with a devastating break-up to finding a hacker looking to destroy evidence. That the episode gives each situation the right amount of stakes, while also being hilarious and well-directed, make this a high-concept experiment that works, even if I called the twist early on.
A.P. Bio – “Sweet Low Road” (A-)
The show’s revenge missions get both personal and almost realistic, as Jack, his fellow teachers, Durbin & Helen, and his class band together to save his job and keep the administration from imposing draconian budget cuts. This is probably just another episode, but if the show wants to morph into a heightened take on the daily challenges teachers face, that’s definitely not dorky.
Community (Season 2) – “Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples” (A-)
I’ve often rewatched the show’s many Christmas episodes around the holidays, but I think this oft-overlooked episode – in which Shirley enlists Abed to make a movie about Jesus, and the power of being the director goes to his head – will become a new Easter tradition.
Dean: “Abed, are you making a religious film?”
Abed: “Is RoboCop? Is The Matrix? Is Superman Returns? All films are about death and resurrection.”
Dean: “What about Wrath of Khan. That was a good one. And how compelling was Ricardo Montalban? I mean, seriously.”