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TV Review: The Americans 3.5 “Salang Pass”
Goodman   |  

The Americans Season 3 Episode 5 Alison Wright as Martha and Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings

The Americans
Season 3, Episode 5 – “Salang Pass”
Directed by Kevin Dowling
Written by Stephen Schiff
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Annet Mahendru, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, and Frank Langella.
FX
Air date: Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 10pm

As The Americans‘ third season continues, this week’s episode is all about the kids. Hit the jump for our review.

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TV Review: The Americans 3.4 “Dimebag”
Goodman   |  

The Americans Season 3 Episode 4 Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings and Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings

The Americans
Season 3, Episode 4 – “Dimebag”
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
Written by Peter Ackerman
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Annet Mahendru, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, and Frank Langella.
FX
Air date: February 18, 2015, 10pm

So much of The Americans Episode 3.4 “Dimebag” is about our main characters trying to become more honest, pure, and innocent versions of themselves, each with varying degrees of success. It’s also a quieter episode that helps set up the pieces of the puzzle that will presumably carry us through our next couple of installments.

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TV Review: The Americans 3.3 “Open House”
Goodman   |  

The Americans Season 3 Episode 3 Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings

The Americans
Season 3, Episode 3 – “Open House”
Directed by Thomas Schlamme
Written by Stuart Zicherman
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Annet Mahendru, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, Frank Langella
FX
Air date: February 11, 2015, 10pm

Sometimes I forget that The Americans is a spy show.

While I’ve been enjoying digging into and parsing apart the relationship dynamics of the show, “Open House” is a reminder that this show is just as compelling when the game is afoot. After hunting down members of the CIA’s Afghan group last week, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys) begin their hunt for a specific target and land on Ted Paaswell, a member of the group who is looking to sell his house after what seems to be a nasty divorce. Philip assures Gabriel (Frank Langella) that the CIA can’t watch everyone all the time and that they should be in the clear.

Famous last words.

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TV Review: The Americans 3.2: Baggage
Goodman   |  

The Americans Season 3 Episode 2 Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings

The Americans
Season 3, Episode 2 – “Baggage”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Annet Mahendru, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, Frank Langella
FX
Air date: February 4, 2015, 10pm

“It’s not really over.”

Elizabeth (Keri Russell) comes into the house after what we can assume is a long day. She sits down to have a snack while she talks to Paige (Holly Taylor). As she bites into her food, her tooth, still injured from the fight with Agent Gaad (Richard Thomas) in last week’s episode, rips through her mouth with searing pain. She talks with Paige for a few minutes before she gets a call. It’s Philip (Matthew Rhys). There’s more “paperwork” to be done at the office.

It’s not really over.

“Baggage” is all about the things that our characters are carrying with them in some form or another. The cost of these things are starting to weigh on everyone. Especially for Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich).

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TV Review: The Americans 3.1 “EST Men”
Goodman   |  

The Americans Season 3 Episode 1 Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings

The Americans
Season 3, Episode 1 – “EST Men”
Directed by Daniel Sackheim
Written by Joe Fields and Joe Weisberg
Starring: Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Lev Gorn, Annet Mahendru, Susan Misner, Costa Ronin, Keidrich Sellati, Holly Taylor, Richard Thomas, Alison Wright, Noah Emmerich, Gillian Alexy, and Frank Langella
FX
Air date: January 28, 2015, 10pm

Spoilers for The Americans season premiere. You’ve been warned.

The Americans doesn’t waste any time in telling you what its third season is going to be about. In the opening seconds of the season premiere, “EST Men,” we see quick shots of Henry (Keidrich Sellati), Paige (Holly Taylor), and Phillip (Matthew Rhys). The shot is framed and lingers in such a way that it’s hard to notice Elizabeth (Keri Russell) in the tub off to the right of the screen until she slides into focus.

She takes a breath and then plunges underwater. It’s a quick calm before the storm. Our opening proves that more than ever, a dark tone of desperation and dread hangs over the show.

Welcome back to the fascinating world of The Americans.

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TV Review: The Walking Dead 4.1: 30 Days Without An Accident
Goodman   |  

The Walking Dead Season 4 Episode 1 30 Days Without an Accident

The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 1 – “30 Days Without an Accident”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott Gimple
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, and Scott Wilson
AMC
Air date: October 13, 2013

The Walking Dead is a mixed-bag of television at its best. The show, (which premiered its fourth season to a record-shattering 16.1 million viewers last night) has never had a problem providing a promising start – it’s what happens after that normally makes me fall through a ceiling, break a leg, and limp away from the show for the remainder of the season.

“30 Days Without an Accident” executes on giving the audience a changed environment, plot threads to drive the new season forward, and a great action setpiece, but all of these things have been done well in seasons past. Can Scott Gimple (who is the third showrunner in four seasons), finally provide us with a show that’s able to give some much needed development to its new and established characters?

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TV Review: Breaking Bad 5.16: Felina (Series Finale)
Goodman   |  

Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 16 Felina Review

Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 16 – “Felina”
Directed and written by Vince Gilligan
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Laura Fraser, and Jesse Plemons
AMC
Air date: September 29, 2013

SPOILERS FOR THE BREAKING BAD SERIES FINALE. You’ve been warned.

“I did it for me…. I was alive.”

So much of Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) Mr. Chips to Scarface journey has been caged with idea that Walter was doing everything for his family. It’s much like the idea that I highlighted a few weeks ago about his Batman-esque “no killing family rule” – the origin of Heisenberg in so many ways came from a place of gray morality for Walter, a justification that was the weakest of crutches as the show progressed.

As a viewer, it’s been clear to me for a while that Walter made every choice because he wanted to do so. And last night finally provided closure to all that.

It’s always been personal for Walt. It’s the thrill, the excitement, and because he was good at being bad.

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TV Review: Breaking Bad 5.15: Granite State
Goodman   |  

Breaking Bad Season 5.14 Granite State

Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 15 – “Granite State”
Directed and written by Peter Gould
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Laura Fraser, and Jesse Plemons
AMC
Air date: September 22, 2013

After all the predicting and guessing I’ve made, turns out the most simple reason of all is the reason behind Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) return to ABQ. Massive spoilers follow.

It’s not Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) or Skyler (Anna Gunn) or Walter Jr (RJ Mitte) that brings Walter White’s newly minted Mr. Lambert back to ABQ. In fact, it’s so much simpler than that. It’s the reason that Breaking Bad has explored for so long.

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TV Review: Breaking Bad 5.14: Ozymandias
Goodman   |  

Breaking Bad Season 5.14 Ozymandias

Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 14 – “Ozymandias”
Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Laura Fraser, and Jesse Plemons
AMC
Air date: September 15, 2013

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear –
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I got assigned Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias to read in high school and it very quickly became one of my favorite poems. As with most art, there are several interpretations one can take from its content, but the most frequent — and applicable one, to Breaking Bad at least — marks the loss of power, the decline of leaders, and how their “works” often fade.

Earlier this year, I felt that the AMC promo featuring Bryan Cranston reading Shelley’s poem was a little on the nose, but it did further cement the fact that everything is going to fall apart in the final eight episodes. But we already knew that things were going to end poorly — I keep coming back to the scene in “Hazard Pay” where Walt and Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) are watching Scarface – “Everyone dies in this, don’t they?” Yes, Walt. Yes they do.

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TV Review: Breaking Bad 5.13: To’hajiilee
Goodman   |  

Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 13 Review

Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 13 – “To’hajiilee”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by George Mastras
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Laura Fraser, and Jesse Plemons
AMC
Air date: September 8, 2013

Full-on spoilers for this week’s action-packed Breaking Bad are below. You’ve been warned.

In his mind, the only thing that kept Walter White (Bryan Cranston) from fully descending into hell was a Batman-esque, one-premise code: Family was off-limits. For so long, Jesse (Aaron Paul) was considered family that Walt could never imagine sending him to Belize. He fought hard and long to make sure that Jesse ended up safe, but after last week’s episode that rule was broken and all bets were off. Jesse has always been far smarter than anyone ever gave him credit for and uses this to his advantage. I was half right last week when I said that Jesse would come for Walt at the car wash. So much of Walt’s motivation to cook was always about the money. There’s no way all that green would disappear.

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