Season 2, Episode 10: The Immutable Truth (Season Finale)

Bates Motel wrapped up its uneven second season Monday night with an above-average season finale that focused largely on the Norma/Norman Bates dynamic, delivering at least one brilliantly cringe-inducing moment. It was a significant improvement over the first season finale, which meandered and only really delivered significant thrills in its final moments.

The dynamic duo of Sheriff Romero and Dylan (both saddled with material better suited to a different show) freed Norman from the metal box half-buried in the woods near White Pine Bay. Norma quickly took over by professing her deep love for son/nephew Dylan and by continuing to shelter Norman with the intent of pushing off as long as she could the polygraph test Romero demanded.

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“It’s me, BenDeLaCreme! I’m back!” said Michelle Visage at the beginning of the “Sissy That Walk” episode.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the real DeLa, much to the chagrin of many “Drag Race” fans, who took to Twitter last week to vent (we were on suicide watch). In terms of favorites, BenDeLaCreme was the great sickening hope of this season. Maybe it was because she had an uncanny resemblance to Michelle Visage. Maybe it was the way she shed campy fake tears as the mother of the bride at the drag weddings a few weeks ago. Whatever the reason, DeLa should be in the top four.

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AMC’s Turn continues to downplay the major events of the American Revolution, focusing instead on the delicate details of the war’s supporting history. The human element is on display here, illustrating the evolution of America’s first spy ring and not the bloody battles somewhat foreshadowed in the series pilot. It’s an honorable intent, but I hope not one that robs this worthy series of viewers.

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“You thought there was going to be a big creative crisis and we’d pull you off the bench but in fact we’ve been doing just fine.” – Bertram Cooper to Don Draper in last night’s Mad Men

I’d been wondering since the end of last week’s episode how long Don would last under the new restrictions placed on him as conditions to his surprise return to work and, as it appears everyone at Sterling Cooper & Partners plans to make it as difficult on Don as possible, I would not have been surprised had he not made it to the end of the latest episode as a member of the firm. Anyway, I think there is still a hole in my head from the laser beams Don was shooting out of his eyes at Peggy during a key scene in last night’s show. Continue reading…

Season 2, Episode 9: The Box

Bates Motel finally hit a season high last night, bringing Norman’s budding sexuality and barely repressed aggression into the foreground and giving us an eagerly anticipated look into what happened the night English teacher Blaire Watson was murdered. The hour was a fascinating deep-dive into the mythos of Norman Bates that echoes the original Psycho.

Also good news: the central and supporting characters finally worked together in the service of the same story rather than constantly fighting against each other for screen time and our interest. It also helped that we saw one supporting character’s end.

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Turn, so far, continues to march in the right direction for a fledging dramatic series. Rather than peaking early and plummeting in quality (CBS’s Hostages, I’m talking to you), it has taken its time to gradually escalate tension chapter by chapter.

The show isn’t revolutionary (ahem) in that manner, but it’s a good sign that the audience lies in capable hands.

Sunday’s episode began in the Setauket cemetery with Abe Woodhull and family standing over the grave of his dead brother, Thomas. The scene cleverly established the central conflict of the episode – the proposal by Major Hewlett to dig up tombstones and use as protection of the Setauket garrison’s canons – while reinforcing the dramatic interaction between Abe and his father, Richard.

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At the onset of the “Glitter Ball” episode, Courtney Act claimed that in a journal she had predicted the top five. Now either Courtney Act is clairvoyant (a good drag name: Claire Voyant) or she, too, had quickly realized the talent this year wasn’t as stellar as other seasons. (We want to see a copy of this alleged journal and whether it doesn’t say “Courtney Act” over and over again.)

As if the queens weren’t considered puppets enough, RuPaul asked the contestants to drag up puppet versions of each other in a good old-fashioned bitchfest. Like the “Reading is Fundamental” mini-challenge, this game allowed the queens to let off some steam…aaaaand create some tense moments for the producers. Adore Delano did a freakishly good BenDeLaCreme voice (perhaps she could just be a DeLa impersonator after her sorry-ass gets kicked off the show). It was surprising that Courtney Act didn’t sing her way through this one, even though she got the Darienne Lake puppet. BenDeLaCreme’s take of Bianca del Rio was hilarious, though. DeLa attached huge, white nails to her puppet’s mouth to look like Bianca’s pristine smile. She made Bianca bitch about being perfect and screamed the entire time.  Perfection. It was reminiscent of Boney the puppet from Nickelodeon’s “Weinerville.” Surely, the producers of Avenue Q will be in touch.

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Game of Thrones came back last night after “the episode” wherein Jaime raped Cersei. As expected, she put him right in his place after what he did to her, her pain clear on her face, her order for him to seek out and kill Sansa plainly clear. But the show continues to want us to like Jaime, as he then sends out Brienne to find and protect Sansa.

Rather than go over the show’s plot, which no one is going to read unless they saw the episode already, I’ll point you to the New York Times’ recap, which is far more detailed than I could write.  

I’d rather address a call to boycott the show by a reader. When pigs fly I would call for a boycott. Why aren’t you standing up for rape, the reader asked.  My answer, in short, because A) it’s a TV show and that is the choice of the artists to dictate how that goes. We are entitled to our opinions on what occurred. But to call for a boycott is to dictate how a show must deliver that content and to me that’s akin to fascism of a kind. So, no. B) calling for a boycott of Game of Thrones does not address whatsoever real world rape, either rape culture or rape, sexual violence, sexual exploitation or any of the real world problems that occur with extreme regularity all over the world every second of the day. I would be ashamed to put my fear and concerned on that one scene in Game of Thrones and shame on anyone else who does.

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I’ve just heard that Veep’s ratings are down slightly, even after Julia Louis Dreyfus did what most women have to do who are looking for a leg up in the entertainment industry: showed some skin. Veep had a stumble or two heading into this season – it didn’t feel quite as funny. Mad Men, for its part, also seemed to stumble. But, like Veep, it hit its natural stride last night. Veep had the Veep visiting a tech giant Clovis, something akin to Facebook, with nothing short of the future of America resting in its incapable hands. The best line probably came from Amy who said “I’m a grownup. I stopped wanting to play with toys when I was a kid.”

It didn’t sneer at the millennials because this isn’t a crew that can sneer at anyone. They are always the butt of the joke. But it did give this silly generation and all of its tech fascination an appropriate bitch-slapping. The “Smarch” is the new social network watch they were just about to release at Clovis. You speak into it and it shows you web pages or you connect it to another person and then you’re socially connected. Of course none of it works properly.
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The seeds of Don Draper’s disconnection from the course of the rest of the world were planted way back in the first season in his Greenwich Village trysts with bohemian Midge Daniels (Rosemarie DeWitt). He liked some of her modern girl ways, but she revealed him (through our modern lens) to be a square operating at a completely different rhythm to the coming generation. Still, Don always had a coolness or an in-charge quality – a little like Sean Connery’s James Bond making fun of The Beatles in Goldfinger. Even as the world was changing right under his feet, it was still Don Draper’s world. Until last night. Don’s incredibly awkward return to Sterling Cooper & Partners is the first time he has truly seemed like a fossil from an entirely different epoch. Here he was an outsider on what used to be his own turf. The king had been dethroned, kicked out of his office and consigned to the bullpen while those who used to be in awe of him scrambled around trying to figure out how to get rid of him. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

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