Saturday Night Live – “Donald Glover/Childish Gambino” (B)
I was greatly anticipating this episode, not only because Glover is such a creative force on Atlanta, but also because he has improv experience with Derrick Comedy (featuring SNL alumnus Bobby Moynihan). Yet, the writing was kind of limp, so none of the sketches really stood out in a memorable way, often going for “weird” instead of “funny.” But as a musical guest, he blew me out of the water, using SNL‘s tiny space and terrible acoustics to his advantage, and I don’t even love “This Is America”!.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine – “Show Me Going” (A-)
It almost pulls off the perfect blend of humor and high-stakes drama, but doesn’t completely get there. But this show is so earnest that putting Rosa in an active shooter situation doesn’t feel phony, unearned or tone-deaf, which is more than a lot of prestige-y broadcast dramas can say.
Silicon Valley – “Initial Coin Offering” (B)
Throws a bunch of subplots in a blender and doesn’t quite come out smooth. Though Laurie’s cutthroat nature will set up a big-deal season finale, it now feels like it’s rushing to finish a shortened season (which I ordinarily would not complain about). But the entire scene at the landfill was some of the best comedy the show has ever done, and I’d like to know more about Tesla actually being a pyramid scheme.
Barry – “Loud, Fast and Keep Going” (A)
The show takes a devastating turn as Barry has to make a crucial, heartbreaking decision. It’s the show with the least amount of jokes, but all of the ones it needed landed perfectly.
Westworld – “Virtù e Fortuna” (B)
So here’s the problem with this show: the first season’s mystery was compelling. This season, it’s just plot advancing, and the mystery as it were just doesn’t captivate. Although it’s certainly onto something with its opening scene. More jungle adventure, fewer robots monologuing about the nature of humanity.
Legion – “Chapter 14” (A)
A fascinating diversion of an episode that ends up being the most moving thing the show has ever done. And they still found time for a mouse to sing Bryan Ferry’s “Slave to Love.”
The Handmaid’s Tale – “Other Women” (A-)
June learns the horrors of not following the program, thinking she can be defiant because she’s pregnant (and seen the outside world for herself), but it only brings more physical and emotional abuse.
The Americans – “Harvest” (A)
The extraction of a fellow agent in Chicago goes horribly wrong in gory fashion. But more crucially, Stan’s basically figured out what’s been right under his nose since the pilot. These last three episodes should be substantially higher-stakes. This also gave Henry his most important episode by far.
Atlanta – “Crabs in a Barrel” (B+) / season finale
The moment in the airport security line is one of the most intense, heart-dropping scenes I’ve seen in a show recently. But the one-upmanship finally shows Earn taking some initiative, but because the show remembers that Earn is only there to get stunted on, it doesn’t quite work out how he planned. I have no idea if there will be another season of the show (I’m sure FX wants it), but I know Donald Glover is basically the most important cultural figure now, so it won’t be until 2019, or maybe even later. If so, this was a fitting send-off.