“Boardwalk Empire”: Resolution Review
By Jordan Magrath
Besides AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” and “Mad Men,” I think that HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” is the best show on television. I’d even take arguments that it beats AMC’s Elite…but I’d slightly disagree. It’s that good, though. Many feared that last year’s huge finale, which saw (spoiler alert) Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) killing Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), had killed the show’s chances going forward. If “Resolution” is an indication, “Boardwalk Empire” isn’t going down without a fight.
What better way to start the new season…and newish direction…by introducing a new character in the first scene? Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) starts off murderously, too, as he tire-irons a good samaritan to death. Later, we find out that Gyp isn’t exactly Nucky’s ally, which seemed like a pretty obvious direction for him to go. Without Jimmy as an enemy (although we’d all like to think there was love in that relationship), it’s easy to understand why they’d get a guy (and an actor like Cannavale) to fill the void.
Some of the reservation for “Boardwalk’s” third season also had to do with the polarization of Nucky. Yes, like many of TV’s anti-heroes, the main character is flawed. However, by having Nucky actually murdering Jimmy - not just ordering the kill or being responsible for it - some feared we’d lost his sympathy. Don’t look at me…as I’m still sort of (huge emphasis) rooting for “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White, so it wasn’t surprising when I hoped right back on the Nucky train. And…he’s not done murdering either, as he shows us his darkly comedic and ever-increasing murderous side with his opening killing.
“Boardwalk Empire” also made it a big deal that it was becoming 1923. This and the significant portion of the episode spent in Chicago got me curious, but I wasn’t educated on the historical context. Turns out 1923 is a huge crime year for Chicago, making this episode a huge first step towards some pretty graphic upcoming stuff.
Speaking of the timing, I was surprised there was such a big jump between Season 2 and Season 3. I think I caught them saying it had been a year and half. I guess it’s a change of pace to other shows, and it gives them plenty of time to infer major developments…such as how far Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) and Nucky have diverged.
Although sexism has always been apart of the show, it looks as if it is going to take full flight (get it!?!) this year. Carrie Duncan’s flight wasn’t just a historical benchmark - no, the show used it as a way of foreshadowing what is to come. Is this finally the season where Margaret splits away? The two seemed fine towards the beginning of the episode, but Nucky’s huge blow-up after the New Year’s party and, of course, his affair with the dancer, all point to things continuing to spiral out of control.
“The Killing”: What I Know Review
By Jordan Magrath
There you have it folks. After 26 episodes, we know Rosie Larson’s killer…s. Although, we actually knew them all along, and in the case of Jamie, we found out last week. Overall, I wouldn’t call the episode the most mesmerizing (I still found last year’s regularly better), but I was satisfied enough with the conclusion. Rosie’s case needed to be solved and, while it took a little too long, I think it got a proper end - or at least it wasn’t a disgrace to the case.
With that being said, the episode started off a bit disjointed. With the use of flashbacks (to the days before Rosie disappeared), we got to see a new side of Rosie. For being about her, “The Killing” has not had much footage of her. It makes sense, since yes she’s dead for the duration of the show. Really, waiting until episode 26 was an amazing task.
Then, when they used it, it seemed very effective. Since we don’t know Rosie that much, there is a tendency to feel less sympathy for her case - especially if you consider how some of the characters have dealt with her killing. However, we got the emotional farewell we’d been longing for. Not only this, but the flashbacks helped in recounting the actual murder (somewhat, “C.S.I.”-style).
Also disjointed was Jamie’s true revelation. I expected the big reveal to come during the final act, but we pretty much learned Jamie’s story right away. Yes, we did get another reveal later, but I would’ve bet money against Jamie before, since the bait-and-switch has been a highly used method thus far.
Once we found out that Terry was involved, the episode really started to turn around. I also thought it was interesting that she didn’t even know she was murdering Rosie until later. This is one of the more depressing moments in the show.
I also appreciated what they did with the accessories. This whole time (well, at least this season) we’ve got the impression that they power players were working together and maybe murdered Rosie. Now, Chief Jackson, ex-Mayor Adams, and others walk free. Even Ames isn’t that much in trouble (besides maybe obstruction of justice). Some people will fault the show for letting them slip away, but I like to think the case was a little more small-scale (than some large conspiracy).
“What I Know” summed up plenty of stories (with Rosie’s case being the obvious goal), but there were things left unresolved. Linden and Holder didn’t really get an ending, and maybe this is because they’ll continue on the show (if it continues). Holder had a particularly big moment, when he was forced to shoot Jamie dead, but Linden didn’t get as much. However, one of my favorite moments was letting Linden go tell the Larson family what had happened. She’d been waiting almost a month - which was filled with huge life-shifting events - to deliver the news that “we got him.”
All in all, “The Killing” had an up-and-down season. Many critics (and fans) point to last year’s finale as the starting point. I actually loved the Season One finale, but looking back, I think I agree. The show hasn’t been anywhere near as suspenseful as last year. They could only get away with so many red herrings before it bites them in the butt. Rosie’s case needed to end, and I’m glad it got a definite conclusion. However, I think it could’ve been handled a bit better going forward from last year.
This year’s finale, “What I Know,” was definitely a conclusion I liked. As a single episode, I have to say it beat the crap out of some others, because for once, we actually got some conclusions. On the flip side, there is some stuff left open - with a new case being one of them - which can help us look forward to next season. At this point in time, I think the show could benefit from seeing what it did wrong in Rosie’s case, to make another case. Let’s hope this is true.
“Mad Men”: The Phantom Review
This Week: The Phantom
“Mad Men” capped Season Five off last Sunday night. I will truly miss this show between now and Season Six. And boy, did “Mad Men” prove it was worth the long wait for a new season. In my opinion, this season outdoes the previous ones. Maybe I’m a little high on the show now because it’s so fresh, but I think it’ll stand the test of time, too. The last couple of episodes, by themselves, have been some of the best “Mad Men,” has had to offer. They felt very finale-like, too. ”The Phantom,” is technically deemed the Season Five finale, but wasn’t the best episode we’ve seen. However, it still rounded out lots of things. A lot of what seemed to not work for the episode had to do with including everybody in the jam-packed hour. It was necessary to close up all the character’s arcs, though.
In other words, “The Phantom” was a good enough end to a stellar season. We didn’t have the biggest reveals, but we got plenty of good material to close out the season and move us forward into the future.
Now…where should I begin? Don seems like the obvious start, but I have a feeling I’ll spend significant time on him, so I’ll begin with Pete.
His whole affair situation continued to go off the tracks. This time around, though, she (being Beth) actually wanted to meet up with Pete. After they have another go-round, Beth tells Pete she’ll be getting electroshock therapy, thus erasing him. Pete, in turn, takes out his frustration on Howard, spilling the beans on their relationship. The result: another bruised and bloody Pete Campbell. By episode’s end, he explains he’s “permanently wounded.” As far as the rest of the series goes, Pete still has a lot of territory to cover - and it appears to be all downward movement.
Shifting to Peggy, I am happy we got to see her in her new environment. I figured we wouldn’t see her until Season Six, so it was a pleasant surprise. When Don goes to a movie, he runs into Peggy, where they chitchat about their new situations, with Don failing to mention anything about Lane.
I was surprised Lane’s death wasn’t the forefront of the episode. It definitely held the most emotion and significance, but I thought we’d get a funeral or something. Instead, the plan to expand seemed like the episode’s plot push.
However, Don and co. were put in an uncomfortable position due to the insurance payout. When Don went to give the money to Mrs. Pryce, he was met with some hostility. I can see how some people could still loathe Don, but these past few episodes have been internal hell for him. Not only would he blame himself for Lane’s death (speaking of which, there was plenty to crossover between Don’s brother and Lane), but he’s got Peggy’s departure, Joan’s “issues,” and the revolving family problems to deal with. If there’s one person I wouldn’t want to be in “Mad Men,” it’d be Don Draper.
“The Killing”: Donnie or Marie Review
This Week: Donnie or Marie
Next Week: What I Know
Before I get started, was anyone else annoyed that “The Killing” decided to market this week’s episode as the Part One finale? Each episode takes place over one day, right? So how is this any different than any other episode? Don’t tease us, give us the real finale next week.
Okay, with that out of the way, I must say that “Donnie or Marie,” played out a lot like I thought it would. I’m not saying I called anything (especially since I have huge reservations about the biggest reveal) or that the episode was really that horrible, but the writing seemed to be on the wall last week. As I’ve mentioned - both explicitly or not - the problems surrounding “The Killing,” tend to be a full-season thing, not an episode to episode thing. In other words, “Donnie or Marie” had its moments, but it continued to show the holes in Season Two.
There’s no doubt in my mind that “The Killing” would’ve completely changed their presentation if they got a second chance. There simply isn’t enough story to warrant the 13 episode Season Two. We’ve been told another case will surface, but still we’ve got nothing! There’s only so much whodunit juice in the gas tank, and “The Killing” sputtered to a stop many episodes ago.
With that negativity out of the way, I’ll touch on the highlights in “Donnie or Marie.” Linden and Holder continue to be my favorite parts of the show. Now that they’ve cut through more red tape (and yellow tape), it’s fun to see them do real police work as well as under-the-table work. When they found themselves in a jam, stuck in Richmond’s office, they went directly to Adams for help. Likewise, they go behind Chief Jackson’s back to convince her partner to spill the beans.
They also discover that Gwen may have a connection to the Indian tribe. Actually, there is no “may,” because there is clearly a picture of her with the leaders. Then, when they discover Gwen needed a new keycard, voila, we’ve got ourselves a suspect! However, “The Killing” can’t stop there…they’ve got to convince us it’s her, then pull the old bait-and-switch. So, naturally (in a twisted way), it felt like Jamie would be the one in the hot seat.
Darren then gets another mysterious call, which leads him to another person and our connection to Jamie. Now, Jamie has some explaining to do.
“Mad Men”: Commissions and Fees Review
This Week: Commissions and Fees
Next Week: The Phantom
Holy Don Draper! Oh wait, Holy Lane Pryce! I don’t even know where to begin.
People who criticize “Mad Men” often point to Don Draper. Not because Jon Hamm isn’t a great actor but because the character is flawed. Obviously, there are plenty of responses about how this makes him such a watchable character, or how Don is acting like people did during that time. However, Don still is a good guy - even if he’s not good ALL the time. If last week’s great episode didn’t nail this down, “Commissions and Fees” better have.
Before we get back to Don, let’s mourn the loss of Lane Pryce. I wish I could say I was all that surprised it happened. It felt odd seeing him in debt a few weeks ago. With Pete looking like he was on his way out and Peggy already gone, this season has really started to mix the characters up. I will say I was slightly spoiled on something “depressing” happening (thank you Facebook), but I didn’t know who was involved. Almost immediately, it seemed like it was Lane.
After Cooper finds the fake check, Don has to confront and fire Lane. There’s no way to blame Don since he acted nicer than he probably should have. Blaming Don for Lane’s suicide isn’t all that intelligent. Unfortunately, Don will now feel responsible for two separate suicides. Wow, that’s rough.
Back to Lane, after he gets fired (although technically he gets to resign), he comes home to his wife. Of course, she’s gone out and spent more of their money (which they don’t have) on acquiring a Jaguar. Later, Lane tries to use this Jaguar to kill himself. In one of the uniquely “Mad Men”-y ways, the car doesn’t start (solidifying their unreliability claims). Lane is forced to the office to kill himself.
Meanwhile, Don separately goes on the offensive. The first half of the season, Don’s business fire seemed out. Instead of spending time at work (where we like him), he was spending more time with family (mostly Megan). Lately, though, we’ve seen a return to the “old Don.” This week, he gives another passionate pitch. This time, he claims that companies shouldn’t be happy with 50%. They should be happy with 100%, as he calls happiness the moment before more happiness (or something like this). Roger, afterwards, remarks that Don should wipe the blood from his mouth.
When Don and Roger return, though, they are confronted by the saddened partners. Lane has hung himself. The sorrow on Don’s - or Jon Hamm’s - face was priceless. He’d been the catalyst. He’d put the final nail in Lane’s coffin, typed the final letter in his suicide letter. Not only this, but Lane was still hanging dead in his office. The body removal scene was one of the more depressing/disturbing scenes to date.