The Americans Review: “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”

The Jennings are being pulled in so many directions right now. In the opening scene of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”, they sit with Gabriel and run down the list of operations they are currently balancing. At the forefront are the Morozovs, Stan, Pastor Tim, and Paige. In addition to all of this, they must fly out to Topeka and work new sources for the grain operation.

Stopping an attack on Russia’s food supply is a critical mission, but it’s all becoming too much for the the Jennings to handle. Even Elizabeth, who has been the agent most devoted to the cause, wants to find someone else for the job. As she and Phillip mention to Gabriel, Paige requires more of their time. It’s no coincidence that much of this episode centers around their household, following both Paige and Henry. Despite the growing stakes surrounding the cold war, the Jennings are motivated by family above all else.

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The Walking Dead Fails to Give Viewers “Something They Need”

The penultimate episode of a television season typically serves the purpose of building tension and momentum for the finale. The Walking Dead, however, has always been weird when it comes to pacing. Its season finales often fall flat, lacking resolution or payoff. So I’m not surprised that this week’s episode, titled “Something They Need,” left me feeling almost indifferent going into the season seven finale.

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Legion Reveals its Rational Side in the First Season’s Penultimate Chapter

Even when Legion’s storytelling is at its most conventional, it still finds a way to stand apart. “Chapter 7” is heavy on exposition, at one point even inserting David into a classroom while he tries to figure out his life story. He receives help from his rational mind, who is a version of himself with a British accent (so brilliant). The animated images jump out from the chalkboard in a clever way to liven up exposition that may otherwise become tedious. This rewriting of David’s past is critical, as he’s finally able to see himself for what he truly is. He’s a victim who has been preyed upon by a “monster” for his entire life. This monster feeds on David’s power and takes control of his mind, but with this newfound clarity, he’s finally ready make a stand.

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The 100: “Gimme Shelter” is an Exciting, but Familiar Episode

Bellame really needed a win. That’s what I thought after his redemption arc hit a mud-filled obstacle this week.

Ever since he took up arms with Pike last season, Bellame has been haunted by his morally-questionable decisions, struggling with guilt and failing to earn his sister’s forgiveness. So when he is provided with the opportunity to save two members of Skaikru who’re stranded in a black rain storm, it seems like the perfect way to boost his morale.

Instead, he ends up stuck in a rover, listening over the radio as two more lives slip out of his reach. At this point, I couldn’t help but laugh at the exchange he has with Kane, who tells him “your mother would be proud of the man you’ve become.” Bellame responds with, “You floated my mother.” Harsh. It’s an example of how so many characters have been scarred by their choices and past decisions, and continue to live with the consequences to this day. Nobody can quite escape the past.

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Big Little Lies Continues its Balance of Intrigue and Introspection

“Once Bitten” is another excellent hour of television from this HBO limited series. It’s full of style, while managing to shed light on very serious topics. 

Early on, this series felt like a well-produced, star-studded adaptation of a (for lack of a better word) “trashy” murder mystery. We’re placed in a wealthy town, focusing on the gossip and politics surrounding the local elementary school. We hear about the aftermath of a murder that took place during a school fundraiser, only we don’t know the identities of the victim or culprit. It’s like how I envision the plot of those books found in aisle twelve of a ShopRite.

Well, Big Little Lies has long-since transcended this initial impression.

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Legion: Whose Mind is it Anyway?

Wow, this show.

“Chapter 6” of Legion first presents itself as a reset. We’re back in the mental hospital, where scenes from the pilot are played out again, but altered slightly. Ptonomy takes Lenny’s place as he sits with David. Lenny is now the therapist, and David is the one sneaking into Syd’s room after hours. As we witness Syd navigate the hospital, everything feels just a bit off. All of our characters are seen in the therapy room, and their various abilities and experiences are treated as mental illness. This idea has previously been explored with David and Syd, but not anyone else. Therapist Lenny suggests Melanie may have created the idea of an astral plane because of her unwillingness to accept her husband’s death. “The Eye’s” aggression and antagonistic behavior can be explained by his late development as a teenager. Ptonomy’s “time travel” ability is just his mind reliving a childhood trauma. It’s all fascinating to consider, even if we know none of it is real.

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This Is Us Ends a Strong First Season with “Moonshadow”

I understand why many people are disappointed with this finale. The show teased us with a potential reveal of Jack’s death. Last week Kate finally opened up to Toby, and explained to him that she feels responsible for what happened to her father. In that episode’s flashback, Kate gave Jack advice which inspired him to visit Rebecca at her show. He was last seen leaving a bar after a few too many drinks, and stumbling into his car.

Yes, this is misdirection. Yes, it’s a little cheap. But despite this, I found the finale to be very enjoyable. I should note that I read an article last week stating that Jack’s death wouldn’t be revealed this season. So I didn’t have that expectation going into the episode.

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On The Walking Dead, There is Only “One Way” to Move Forward

In season three, before the Governor invaded the prison, Rick posed a choice to the group. “We can stay and we can fight, or we can go,” he said. They chose to fight. Since then, similar choices have been made countless times. Violence wins out. A standoff in a hospital leads to a shootout and Beth’s death. The Terminus group is slaughtered in a church. Rick’s group, in need of provisions, decides to infiltrate a Saviors outpost and kill everyone in it. Carol and Maggie escape imprisonment, leaving no survivors behind. The list goes on. Whatever message the writers of this series intend to convey about human nature, it’s not exactly a positive one.

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Some Thoughts on Legion: “Chapter 5”

Legion’s fifth episode is a story told in contrasts. There is a constant push and pull with its characters. Syd talks about her first sexual encounter. It was with her mother’s boyfriend. She switched places with her, and had her own first intimate experience. However, it was then quickly ripped away, as she says “when he was inside me, I changed back.” Syd tells this story to David while they’re in the dream-like state he created. It’s a place where they can truly be together. They lay in a blue-tinted room, one that was previously all-white. These colors reflect more than just David’s state of mind. They represent the purity of Syd’s and David’s relationship, of the intimacy they are now able to share. So then why does Syd wake up to find David gone? Especially after she tells him to “promise me if you get lost, we get lost together”?

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