Game of Thrones – “The Bells” (A)
The show hit its season high, as Dany did exactly what most feared she would do, logic be damned. It’s amazing how much clearer and devastating the impact is when you shoot the battle in broad daylight. A lot of people are going to say Dany’s “turn” came out of nowhere, but she’s always demanded unwavering loyalty, and if she didn’t get it, she’d kill you. She briefly held back on that this season because she loved Jon, but that’s over now. She’s getting revenge, yes, but also preventing future betrayal. And it’s also because she’s incredibly vain. As bad a queen as Cersei was (which we never really saw, because this season was only six episodes), the residents of Kings’ Landing weren’t just going to bend the knee immediately. And in her mind, that’s disloyalty. So the cycle of abuse continues, and there will have to be yet another coup.
Barry – “The Audition” (A)
Pairing Barry – which many people didn’t think even needed a second season – with this last season of Game of Thrones has proven the Bill Hader comedy is the superior show. Higher stakes, better acting, better direction, more intense fight scenes. The cliffhanger this ends on is the most on-edge I’ve been since the Season Two finale of Silicon Valley. Barry has it all, and so far it’s going to be my No. 1 show again.
Veep – “Veep” (A-) / series finale
About as satisfying a finale as one could hope for, with Selina compromising literally every last shred of dignity and decency in her bid for the White House. It works, of course, because no show was ever so cynical about U.S. politics. But it’s lonely at the top, and 24 years later, the only one to actually mourn her is Gary, whom she made the fall guy for the Meyers’ financial misdeeds. And of course, Selina has to suffer one last indignity, as the honor guard has to keep shoving her casket into a vaginal-shaped final resting place (“They can’t find the crypt!”), and then gets swept right out of news coverage with the death of someone America actually loves.
Killing Eve – “I Hope You Like Missionary!” (B+)
Jodie Comer does some of her best acting to date in the group therapy session, but the show is walking a tightrope, daring to tip Villanelle into fully unlikable territory, what with the unnecessary murder and implied double murder. But the show’s chaotic energy fuels it even in the darkest moments.
“Suicide Squad” (A) / season finale
The only thing that sucks about this show is it’s so good, and we won’t get any new episodes until 2020. “Sicko” was another solid case-of-the-week, with a great reprise from Tim Meadows. But they went all-out for the complicated heist/revenge plot for the season finale, which features double-crosses, triple-crosses (and possibly quadruple-crosses?) in an incredible team-up featuring the show’s most aggressively annoying (in a good way) enemies of the past.
The ABC Murders (B average)
The BBC’s Agatha Christie adaptation is solid, but never excellent. John Malkovich is terrific as an aging Poirot with a dark past – though not as much as spent on this as it should have been to make it as impactful as it’s hoping. The alleged killer (Eamon Farren) is suitably creepy, and its second episode is absolutely disgusting, in a good way. But Rupert Grint is woefully miscast as a grizzled detective. Win some, lose some.
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (Season 1) – “The Law of the Land” (A)
My wife has started watching this on Prime, and despite being pretty dated, it’s shockingly relevant in some places. This episode, guest starring Johnny Cash as the new sheriff in town, could easily air today without a single change. When Swedish immigrants are out of work because the mines are closed, they resort to stealing food and garbage. When one kills a cow to feed his family, the townsfolk immediately want to hang him without a trial, and want to kick out all immigrants, even though they’re immigrants themselves. “Well, that’s just the law,” they say. Pretty depressing how nothing has changed in 25 years, nor in the 150 since the show was set.