With the two main leads cast, 'Circle' is becoming one to watch this fall
‘Cottonmouth’ hits an incredible high point for the F/X series
Besides being good advice from the Greeks, the journey to fulfill this aphorism can be a very compelling story for television characters. Just recently, another top-notch cable series had one of the leads stating unequivocally “I’m the bad guy.” And so it is with the enigmatic, fascinating and ultimately poignant character of Boyd Crowder.
What is there to say about Walton Goggins’ performance? He plays all of the different layers of Boyd with equal sincerity: cold-blooded murderer, gleeful born-again preacher, painfully betrayed son of a cruel father. The eerie calmness of his voice and demeanor in this season have masked a roiling riot of emotions, which erupted briefly when he dragged would-be robber Kyle from the window of his truck. Although Boyd appeared suitably chastened by both Ava and Raylan, he decides to join in Kyle’s rather complicated scheme to rob the mine’s safe, which turns into a desperate series of improvisations to save his own life once he realizes Kyle and his co-horts are planning to kill him in the process.
All of which cumulates in Boyd’s final realization: he is an outlaw, a thief, and a criminal. Saying it out loud - “It’s who I am, Ava…as hard as I’ve been trying to pretend otherwise. Everybody else seems to know that but me” - seems to free up something inside him. It is unclear where he means to go with this newfound awareness (what is he asking Ava to do for him? How is he planning to escape and/or lie to the incoming police squadron?) But one thing is for sure – these choices will put him directly on the path to confront his old friend Raylan Givens somehow.
Every scene in “Cottonmouth” seemed to top the next, from the prison cell conversation with Dewey Crowe, to Arlo hilariously breaking his “tether” to try to give back $6,000 of the $20,000 that he owes to the Feds, to the taser battle between Raylan and the “Church of the Two-Stroke Jesus” founder. The most affecting interaction was the understated, but deadly serious exchange between Raylan and Loretta. He knows there is nothing he can do to remove her from the care of the Bennett cabal, but he can make sure she has a way out when the time comes.
Speaking of the Bennett family, did I mention Mags SMASHING her OWN SON’S hand with a BALL-PEEN HAMMER? Saying that this woman has ice in her veins may be understating the case just a wee bit. It is surely a sign of the stupidity of both Coover and Dickie that they went behind her back not only on the risky Oxycontin bus hijacking, but also the easily traceable trick of cashing the welfare checks of the man that they helped her poison. Now that Raylan is decidedly hot on their trail, there is no telling what she is capable of doing. Let’s hope Loretta keeps that cell phone close by her side.
- “What fruit did this touching new relationship bear?”
- I have developed an overwhelming fondness for handsome and wonderfully sane Trooper Tom Bergen. Which of course means that now I’m afraid that Doyle will do him harm sometime before the end of this season.
- “You’re like the hillbilly whisperer! Put you on Oprah.”
- Department of Not Lying: “You will not die down in that hole, Kyle. You have my word on that.”
- It is great how every episode has a moment where Raylan realizes how dangerous and powerful the Bennetts are; here it was seeing that Winston Baines would rather be tased in the mouth than give up any information on Coover cashing those checks.
- Deadwood almun alert! Jim Beaver playing Shelby, who “will not easily part with company money.”
- “I can see by your face you are somewhat troubled.”
- “And I like Coover.”
With Sheen officially fired from 'Two and a Half Men,' the hunt is on for a replacement
The return of Holly Holliday ushers in a sex ed revolution
By Rachel Stuhler
The return of troublemaking substitute teacher Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow) ushers in a sexual education revolution at McKinley High. Holly convinces Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) that the kids are woefully unprepared for the realities of sexual activity, while Emma (Jayma Mays) chooses to channel her energies into promoting the celibacy club and glossing over her still-unconsummated marriage.
After Brittany (Heather Morris) reveals that she still believes storks deliver babies, Schue jumps on the Holly bandwagon and agrees that it’s time to shed some light on the nitty gritty details of sex. As Schue lives in his own musical fantasyland, his solution is that the kids find a "sexy" song to describe their angst. Over at Dalton Academy, the sly Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) deliberately leaks the assignment to Warblers Blaine (Darren Criss) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) in an attempt to keep New Directions from the upcoming Regionals title. And Kurt’s dad endeavors to give his naïve son the dreaded "sex talk," leading to one of the best parenting moments on network TV.
"Do You Wanna Touch Me", Joan Jett
The kids sure do love Miss Holliday, and it’s probably because she speaks to them in ways that would make their parents want to ship them all off to military school. Her first attempt at describing the wonders of intimacy is with a raunchy, leather-clad version of Joan Jett’s "Do You Wanna Touch Me" that even Schue thinks might be a little too much.
"Animal," Neon Trees
Worried that New Directions may have the market cornered on sexy, Blaine brings in groupies from a local girls’ school to see if the Warblers make them swoon. The playful soap-stravaganza to Neon Trees’ "Animal" succeeds in spades and several of the weak-kneed girls pass off their numbers to Blaine. Having solved his sexual confusion with Rachel (Lea Michele), Blaine isn’t interested, but it’s nice to know he’s still got the moves.
Mr. Schue decides to perform his own song for the glee club, enlisting Holly in a duet of Prince’s ‘80s hit "Kiss," done as a rock-tango. While the song certainly fits into his assigned theme, one can’t help but wonder if Schue engineered the entire number just to get a little closer to Holly. By the end of the song, Schue confesses that he’s interested in her romantically – not that he isn’t stating the obvious.
"Landslide," Fleetwood Mac
All of these deep revelations dreg up other issues, and the long-simmering, hidden relationship between Brittany and Santana (Naya Rivera) finally comes to the surface. Brittany pushes Santana, usually so cold and detached, to be honest about her true feelings, and Holly convinces the girls the safest way to do this is through song. Santana chooses Fleetwood Mac’s iconic "Landslide" to show Brittany that she really is interested in more than just sex. SPOILER: Unfortunately, her honesty isn’t enough to convince Brittany to leave Artie (Kevin McHale).
"Afternoon Delight," Starland Vocal Band
When Emma is upset that Holly gets to spread her message of free love to the glee club, Mr. Schue suggests that she enlist her own celibacy kids in a rebuttal argument. Emma and her poor, undersexed husband (John Stamos) lead the kids in an embarrassing rendition of Starland Vocal Band’s "Afternoon Delight," which she sadly thinks is about a dessert made with marshmallow fluff.
‘Infight’ brings family conflicts to an ugly conclusion
Throughout the run of “Lights Out”, it has been made clear that violence lurks beneath the surface of many of the interactions. With a family full of fighters and ex-fighters, and a physically formidable trainer whose emotions are constantly threatening to erupt in a scary fashion, it was only a matter of time before harsh words led to actual brawling. And inevitably, Lights takes the lion’s share of the punishment – this time with a literal stabbing to the (almost) heart.
The intense and complicated Ed Romeo continued to force Lights out of his comfort zone, attempting to weaken his ties with the family members that he views as parasites while usurping most of Lights’ role as father figure and husband/confidant. Ed is both guru and mentor, and in an episode rife with religious imagery and references – from the St. Anthony’s medal Ed bestows on the littlest Leary, to the modified Pieta pose as he holds the bleeding Lights in his arms – he seemed to be positioned as the savior for Lights in many ways. But his own deeply troubled psyche would not let him acknowledge the good things that Lights gets from his family ties, from his bond with his father and even from his screw-up brother. As Lights said, “I don’t feel free; I feel controlled.” And once his protégé steps away from that control, Ed’s seething emotions boil over into rage.
There wasn’t too much of importance going on in this episode, although we did get some background on Theresa and her traumatic childhood in England. It is surprising, given her exposure to a man who “robbed a hospital blind”, that she wouldn’t be even more resentful and mistrusting of Johnny, but it does give more insight into her reaction to their money issues (as well as Lights misguided decision not to tell her about it earlier). Johnny continues to be the one note of levity during all the drama (catching his brother on a late-night run, he needles “Yoda with you? Seriously, I’m surprised Ed’s not levitating along side you right now.”). But his cocky attitude most likely won’t help the guilt for (accidentally) wounding his brother with those scissors.
Needless to say, this injury is one more strike against Lights pulling off a win in the ring against Reynolds (who apparently lives in a Zen palace with his gorgeous wife and baby). And while I can’t imagine that we have seen the last of Ed, it’s seems certain he won’t be training Lights anymore. The stakes continue to get more intense as we head into the last few episodes and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
- Sample words of wisdom from Ed Romeo: “The more the knight is scared, the more the armor he puts on.” Deep thoughts.
- I just watched the excellent documentary about the Vegas fight between Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes (assuming that's what Ed was talking about to Daniella).
- Ether God and Devil, huh? Well, OK; I guess I can see Ed being an orgonomic functionalism guy.
Gwyneth Paltrow's Holly Holiday returns for some romance with Mr. Schuester
Who needs 'Two and a Half Men' when you've got Mark Cuban documenting your downfall?
‘Tragical History’ tells a fairly dull story about the fairly dull Cyril
The problem with a streak of hilarious episodes is that eventually there's a dud. Of course, we are talking “Archer” here, so even if the show is disappointing overall, it still has more than its share of quotable one-liners and clever references (including computer pioneer Alan Turing, and Elisha Otis, the inventor of the elevator). But most of “Tragical History” felt more flat and lifeless than we’ve come to expect from a show that normally lives in the “Danger Zone”.
Perhaps the problems with the story came from it revolving entirely around Cyril Figgis, who has always been more of a foil for the outrageousness of all the other ISIS folks. This is not a knock on the great voice work from Chris “Dr. Spacemen” Parnell; but Cyril has never really taken the insane flights of insanity that we’ve seen from Pam, Kreiger or Cheryl/Carol. Having him get sucked into acting as the stooge for the sabotage attempts of George Spelvin, and finally saving the day by shooting out the server while Archer is trapped by the sexy Asian twins, actually seemed somehow out of character.
Still, there were plenty of weird and wacky stuff going on at the margins, from Gillette channeling Ed Harris in “Apollo 13” to Pam getting sucked into enjoying the pirate virus’ little ditty (“What what!”). Even if it didn’t surround a very strong core story, I do always find plenty to enjoy. Do you not?
- “Bag with which one douches.”
- “Suck it, women!”
- Speaking of great voice acting, Judy Greer just kills as Cheryl/Carol. (“OhmyGodIhatehimsomuch!”)
- “Render the salad unto Caesar.”
- “Way to go, Chokely Carmichael.”
- “Cyril, go do whatever it is you do!” “Like suck at stuff?” “And leave this to people who are more qualified.” “At not sucking at stuff.”
- “Most secret agents don’t tell every harlot from here to Hanoi that they are secret agents!”
- “Look at that thing – it’s like it’s made out of Wolverine’s bones.”
- “Did that sound a lot better in your head?”
- “Oh, I thought we were putting all our eggs in the battery shut-down basket.”
- “Well, then I should definitely get my turtleneck.”
- “You have a shoemaker?” “Do you not?”
- “Fifty million dollars in real bearer bonds. Which are, um, real.”
- “Ninjas are sexy!” “Right?” “I mean, I think so!”
- “What am I? Counts Bullets..Ula? Come back to me, I can do better.”
- “After all that, you want to take a bath?” “Do you not?”