What I Watched This Week: 20 Mar 2016

Togetherness – “Just the Range” (A-)
“That’s great that you want that. I’m just not the person who can give that to you.” That’s what Larry tells Tina in their best scene together. It’s also what Brett might be realizing about his marriage to Michelle. He’s finally (somewhat) happy, but does he need to stay separated or try to bring that happiness to a possible reconciliation. Hard to say, but the window on the latter is closing.

The Americans – “Pastor Tim” (A-)
The big question is determining when protecting something isn’t worth the cost. Paige confesses to her mom that she revealed their secret to Pastor Tim. Elizabeth’s first reaction is to kill him to protect their identities, but Philip knows that doing so would push Paige away forever. Both have reason to be concerned. And now there’s another murder on Philip’s hands – in an incredible scene set to “Tainted Love” – that’s driving him further into madness. And then there’s Nina, who risks her freedom (though it’s certainly up for debate if she was actually going to get it) to send a note with her ex-husband to take to Anton’s son back in the U.S. “This isn’t a prison,” she tells the head of the science lab. Not literally, but I’m sure all the characters have said that before.

American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson
“100% Not Guilty” (A-)
“The Race Card” (A)
“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” (A)
“Conspiracy Theories” (A-)
“A Jury in Jail” (B+)
Catching up with this blockbuster series, it’s clearly the best show on television right now. No show is as gusty, enthralling and pointed as this retelling of the Trial of the Century. The best acting on TV is happening right here, often in the same scene. Courtney B. Vance is magnificent as Johnnie Cochran, here played not as some rhyming buffoon, but a charismatic, calculating attorney who’s in complete control. Even better is Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, constantly belittled for her appearance and her gender, but trying twice as hard to prove the naysayers wrong. Yet I’m reserving my highest praise for Sterling K. Brown as Chris Darden, who has to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders. As a black man, he also feels the need to prove his worth (as he tells Marcia at one point), but by doing well at his job, he’s also feeding into the narrative that he’s an “Uncle Tom,” helping the LAPD take down another black man. It’s his hubris that gets OJ to try on the gloves, which prove to be too small, essentially destroying the case.

The Wire (Season 4) – “That’s Got His Own” (A)
Just a relentlessly brutal episode that makes all the demoralizing losses the characters have experienced look like uplifting victories. This is one of the best and bleakest episodes the show’s ever done.

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