Happy Friday! It’s the end of the work week and, much to our chagrin, we’ve gotten way behind on our weekly look at the Best TV Shows on TV. So, in order to get caught up, this time we’re going to focus on getting you caught up on our favorite shows. Rather than tell you why you should be watching, we’re going to just lay out what’s been happening and fill you in on the ongoing plotlines. Plus we’ll talk about Rick and Morty which doesn’t really have episode-to-episode continuity, but it’s fun to talk about. Ready? It’s gonna get crazy!
Rick and Morty – In the first of three episodes we get to cover this week, Rick and Morty reunited with the Vindicators, an Avengers-style superteam that they apparently have an adventure with every summer. (Members include Supernova (Gillian Jacobs), Vance Maximus (Christian Slater), Alan Rails (Lance Reddick), Million Ants (Tom Kenny) and Crocubot (Maurice LaMarche) – it’s a great voice lineup!) Morty thinks they’re the best and Rick hates them. Before their big fight with Worldender, Rick got blackout drunk and killed the villain on his own but then devised a series of Saw-like traps for them designed to emphasize just how worthless he thinks they are. He ended up bringing out a bunch of long-standing issues in the team and most of them ended up dying horribly. And for a minute, it seemed like he did it because he loves Morty, but he actually did it for the Vindicators’ little-seen janitor, Noob Noob. It was mean and cynical and silly in all the good ways. We especially liked that it presented Rick’s misanthropy and nihilism as the boring and predictable thing – it’s a nice break with the frequent “You tell ‘em, Rick!” tone of the show.
Next, Rick brought Jerry on an adventure and pretended it was important as a favor to Morty. Jerry figured this out pretty quickly (Actually, he thought Rick was using the adventure as a pretense to murder him, but he figured that out eventually.), so Rick brought him to a resort surrounded by an immortality field where Jerry couldn’t possibly die. But Rick had enemies there and they recruited Jerry to help them get Rick outside of the field and kill him. The thing is, Jerry has a lot of resentment toward Rick and the best way to really bring that out is to, you know, spend time with Rick. Still, he had a last second change of heart and helped Rick survive the attack and destroy the whole place in the process. They managed to board a commercial ship after airing their grievances – Jerry thinks Rick stole his family and Rick blames Jerry for stealing Beth’s potential. Meanwhile, Summer used Rick’s Morphizer to enlarge her breasts and get her boyfriend back, but she turned herself into a giant instead. Beth wanted to prove she could fix this without Rick’s help and managed to turn Summer into an inside-out giant and Morty ended up not getting that break from craziness he was looking for. It was mad science and dysfunctional family dynamics at their best.
Finally, after a twenty-minute mission turned into a six-day trip through hell, both Rick and Morty had major meltdowns and they decided to hit up an galactic day spa for some well-earned rest. That was all well and good until they did a detox which literally removed their toxins and created a separate Toxic Rick and Toxic Morty. They were seemingly trapped inside a toxic dimension while a healthy Rick and Morty adjusted to their new lives. But then the Toxins found a way back and tried to kill the healthy versions and even after three seasons, a Rick vs. Rick science fight is always rad. Rick finally realized that the two of them were their own personal versions of “healthy”. He considers his anger and addiction and emotional attachment to be Morty to be toxic, so that’s what made up Toxic Rick. Healthy Morty went from being a kid who always did the best thing to a Wolf of Wall Street guy. So in order to corral the toxic duplicates and prevent them from toxifying the world, Rick had to shoot Toxic Morty with a coded poison. Only he could stop it, and he’d do that if Toxic Rick (and his love of Morty) re-merged with him. Eventually they tracked down Healthy Morty with some Voltron drones and re-merged him as well. Sanity was restored! Man, explaining Rick and Morty plots makes you sound like an actual lunatic.
Wrecked – Season Two wrapped up this week, and so we’ve got two episodes and a cliffhanger to talk about. We learned that Corey blew up the ship’s engine room after Owen got back together with Florence and then framed him. He even faked a journal where Owen detailed his plans and that inadvertently turned into a funny Game of Thrones parody thanks to some lucky timing. And because the wreckedaways aren’t that bright, they fell for it. It didn’t help that Danny, feeling rejected, was leading the investigation and willing to believe the worst. (Also, when he got drunk and passed out at the wedding, somebody wrote “cock” on his forehead and that is always going to be funny.) Meanwhile, Steve found a survivor from the original cruise – the DJ. Delightfully, he was played by Jemaine Clement who makes everything better but also it meant a mini Flight of the Conchords reunion. They hit it off right away because they’re both cool guys.
And then, because of the damage to the ship, it sprung a leak. Corey locked both Owen and Danny in the brig (which was enough to convince Danny that his friend was innocent), leaving them to drown while everybody evacuated. Danny thought dislocating his shoulder would make his arm long enough to reach the keys because it works in Mel Gibson movies, and you will not be surprised to find out it was not effective. When Florence realized that Corey wrote the journal, she went out to find Danny and Owen. Corey decided that he had to kill all of them. Danny put together a plan – and you know how sometimes the camera shows you everything in the room that figures into the plan so you can put it together. They did this, but then cut to Danny looking at each object in turn and then going back to the first thing, which is a very funny visual joke that’s hard to describe. Anyway, after reprising Florence’s “stolen bra” distraction technique (only with pants), Danny distracted Corey long enough for them to drop a giant prop chili pepper on him.
Our heroes found a jetski and met up with one of the surviving lifeboats on an island (definitely a different island). As luck would have it, that boat held all the A-list wreckedaways (Karen, Todd, Jess, Pack, Chet, Steve, and Steve’s new friend) and for just a second everybody was safe. And then Jemaine stepped on a landmine and exploded, Arzt-style. And then we saw somebody watching them from a monitor room. There were human heads mounted on the wall, including that of the long missing Emma. Oh, poop. Man, that’s a really good cliffhanger
Halt and Catch Fire – One of last year’s best dramas returned to start its final season, and it began with a time jump to 1994. To catch us up, they did something really clever – Gordon moved through the warehouse where we last saw them and every area brought him forward in time as we watched the birth of his new company with Joe, Joe’s obsession with creating the best web browser, and Gordon’s relative success as an ISP until AOL came to town and changed the game. In a very smart touch, Gordon stayed the same while Joe’s look kept evolving to be as current (and thus dated) as possible. Meanwhile, the now-divorced Donna is running a fairly successful web company and not nearly as quiet about it as she once was.
Cam’s marriage fell apart and her new game proved too cerebral for the era of Mortal Kombat. Joe reached out to her for help with the browser, and when she finally delivered (late), he spun out of control. Every time they connect, he doesn’t know how to deal with it. And if you’d told us back in Season One that he was the one who couldn’t let go of the relationship, we’d have thought you were crazy.
And just to bring home how 1994 it was, Joe and Cam reconnected over some Mario Kart Battle Mode. For the record, Cam uses Toad because he corners the best, and that is a very good Battle Mode strategy. HaCF knows its stuff.
So Gordon and Donna are both successful (though Gordon’s grip on his business is a little more tenuous), Joe is once again obsessed to the point of self-harm and Cam is a struggling visionary. And poor Bos came on some rough times and comes to Gordon for money. Heartbreakingly, Gordon turns him down for business reasons and it is not the first time on this show that Toby Huss has shattered us. Luckily for him (and our hearts), Donna brought him in as a team leader in a consulting position. Given her management style maybe it’s not super lucky, but our guy needs the money.
The second episode of the season spent a huge portion of its runtime on a phone call between Joe and Cam. They’re both hurting and they’re always going to be in love to one extent or another, and it’s one of those marathon calls where they don’t really talk about anything but they can’t hang up and it’s such a perfect portrayal of that time in a relationship when the only thing that matters is hearing the other person’s voice. And given their past and their constantly shifting orbits, as soon as one of them hangs up, it might all be over. Instead, it ends with Joe showing up at Cam’s door which we would have considered a bad idea until they spent a whole episode just building that longing and then there was nothing as important as these two being together.
On the tech side of things, Donna stole Joe’s idea for an Internet index and used her greater resources to finish it, only to find out that her daughter and Hailey had come up with a better way and was actively working with Joe and Gordon to implement it. Atari cancelled Cam’s game (and it’s weird to have Atari back in the mix on this show, but this was right around when they got into videogames again with the short-lived Lynx and the shorter-lived Jaguar) so she leaked a copy to Electronic Gaming Monthly (a must-read for 1994 EJ) and they savaged it. Donna showed up at one of Cam’s panels and stirred up some old wounds (these two really hate one another – there are still scars from the end of Mutiny). There’s a lot going on and it’s so good to see everybody again. This show nails the small moments just as well as it gets Internet culture of the nineties. And there are so many things where they only scrape the surface – just look at the way Donna has to navigate the corporate world as a woman. We see the compromises she has to make and the microaggressions she endures on a daily basis. That could be a series right there but it’s just part of the whole tapestry. It’s crazy that this show never, well, caught fire like Mad Men, but it’s brilliant and we’re fully invested to the end.
People of Earth – The conspiracy has been getting thicker with Eric the Cube planting some kind of posthypnotic suggestion in Gerry and the arrival of another reptilian in a human mask eliminating all the loose ends. (Played by Paul Lieberstein from The Office.) Then Kurt, the reptilian who died on Earth, came back to life just before his body was to be ejected from the ship. Agent Foster tracked Ozzie to his meeting with Jonathan Walsh, and by the way, thanks to some flashbacks we got to see that Walsh has been protecting Ozzie all his life and maybe his whole a-hole persona last year was supposed to keep Ozzie safe and away from StarCrossed. Anyway, it wasn’t just Foster who found them – so did Toby. (They haven’t named Lieberstein’s character, so we’ll just use his Office name.) In the end, Ozzie took a death ray that was meant for Walsh. And yes, we said death ray. Ozzie died.
Now, this is a show where it’s more likely that somebody could come back from the dead than on, say, NCIS. But it’s been two episodes since then and while the aliens beamed up his body and put him in a special chamber that may or may not fix things and there’s been no sign of him outside of Gina’s stress dreams. And death is an interesting thing to explore on PoE because the core of the show is already a support group grappling with something big and unknowable. And people like Richard look for the lie in everything so he’s spinning new conspiracy theories while he’s at Ozzie’s funeral.
The aliens came together to try and get rid of Eric, but their plans were momentarily stymied by the arrival of a bee on their ship – bees are very dangerous to the aliens. StarCrossed tracked down the recently fired Agent Foster and convinced her to help them uncover the truth and maybe stop wearing the same sweatpants. Chelsea left her husband and Father Doug left his congregation so they could be together. We learned that Don may have been the one who placed Kelly with her adoptive family. And Walsh went back for revenge and executed Toby in cold blood. And still no sign of Ozzie. It has been a hectic season so far.
Preacher – Boy, this show has so much going on every week. For the most part, Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy have been holed up in the apartment belonging to Cassidy’s elderly son, Denis. (And yes, Cassidy gave in and bit him to turn him into a vampire. Now he’s acting like a bratty teen as he gets used to eternal life.) What with everybody trying to kill them, they need a place to hide. But Grail agents Featherstone and Hoover are monitoring them from the next room over and they mounted a big attack in an episode that did a great job of piling on absurdity while still ratcheting up the tension. It came to a head when Herr Starr actually arranged a meeting with Jesse to make a proposal.
See, the Grail has been guarding the bloodline of the Messiah for centuries, which has resulted in a good bit of inbreeding and the current heir is, well, badly damaged. Starr made the offer to Jesse – he could step in and pose as the direct descendant and maybe do some good along the way. Unlike the comics, TV Jesse is still primarily a man of faith – he wants answers but he still believes. It makes for an interesting dynamic where he’s confused instead of angry and that seems to work better in this new Preacher paradigm. Further, he has to deal with the fact that this mission of his doesn’t mean nearly as much to Tulip and Cassidy as it does to him. He’s willing to lose everything to find God, but they aren’t and he’s only hurting them at this point. In fact, Starr brought them in and told them Jesse had a great destiny and, if they cared about him, they should leave him to it. (Cassidy largely missed the point because he couldn’t stop insulting Starr.)
The Grail got the Saint of Killers out of the swamp and set him back after our heroes, only this time he didn’t have his guns. Still, he tossed around a still-traumatized Tulip and maybe killed Denis (it wasn’t totally clear). They fought back, with Tulip really making a strong stand against the invincible killing machine. Jesse’s Genesis power fritzed out at the worst time (have they explained why sometimes it comes out all distorted sometimes or is that still a lingering mystery?) and it looked like the Saint was going to win. But then the executives from Hell showed up to bring him back – his exit was unauthorized, after all. And they indicated that they were there under orders from Herr Starr, so clearly he’s got pull beyond anything we’ve seen yet. Meanwhile Eugene and Hitler mounted their own escape from hell, and the constant tweaking of the day Eugene shot himself is great.
As always, there are issues of taste. It’s supposed to be outrageous but the Hitler material and action scenes staged like real life mass shootings are hard to justify and a little bit jarring. But there’s so much good stuff here – the interactions between the three leads is always excellent, and Starr and his Grail followers are so much fun. For real, Julie Ann Emery (Better Call Saul) is so great as Featherstone. And we’re never going to turn down more Malcolm Barrett – he’s a hoot as the put-upon Hoover. It’s a lot to take in and we left out a whole bunch of plot points as it is because this show is absolutely loaded with plot.
That should catch us up. We hope to be back to our regular schedule next week, along with some Bingewatching reports on The Tick and Season Four of BoJack Horseman. We’ll see you then!