IR TV Review: THE BAKER AND THE BEAUTY – EPISODE 8 & 9 – SEASON FINALE (“May I Have This Dance” & “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”) [ABC]

The progression of “The Baker & The Beuaty” is one of the modern dance: where is the balance between tradition and modern thinking. In the Latino community seen in this series, it is an ever evolving tendency, especially in the age of social media, what is considered traditionally acceptable versus long held ideas of what a family or a romance is supposed to look like. Having spoke to Victor Rasuk at the beginning of the season, his character has actually become more conservative. The story has taken a more diametric turn as the season comes to conclusion in his brother’s perception. The idea of familiarity breeding contempt or even interestingly enough acceptance in the same breathe is an interesting diatribe. Vanessa, whom Victor’s character left earlier in the season before he met Noa who is on her own trajectory creates an interesting dichotomy. Of course this is a romance so there is a distinct texture of wanting to provide a positive happy ending. But one knows that in real life, things aren’t that clean. Granted as the two part finale moves on, it gets slightly messy but nothing that can’t be remedied. It revolves around to that possibility of love lost which is that ideal of what can be gained. Or what the better outcome is or can be.

The idea of what is healthy and the psychology of success is actually an interesting subplot, that, although subtly addressed, is a very real defense mechanism for Noa. Nathalie Kelly plays this character bilaterally, whom you could see exist in both worlds but is not necessarily truly a part of either. She has to exist in between and find balance. Victor’s character by comparison , and maybe in a macho way, only see the black and white, even though it is a socially acceptable balance he is working in of preserving family. His brother though makes the leap in certain ways that he doesn’t. And their sister is the bridge of emotions. That is why that Quincidera aspect actually works very well. It is apprarent specifically in the quiet moments with the parents which ranks among the series’ best because it shows a slowed down balance that expands and shows time. While the lightness of the show is maintained, there are moments of depth without losing some of the bubble gum texture of the romance it is trying to show.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: PENNY DREADFUL – CITY OF ANGELS – EPISODE 6 (“How It Is With Brothers”) [Showtime]

With “Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels” the balance between reality and what is being altered by the Goddess of Darkness, switches from episode to episode. It is a very good approach to pace. One episode involves chess moves while the next one shows the consequence and how it is dealt with. The pendulum of ying and yang teeters back and forth between the potency of human good and the need of opportunism and gluttony. This is the battle that is waged. Here in Episode 5 “How It Is With Brothers”, it is a balance within trust, loyalty and the greater good. Tiago (as played by Daniel Zuvatto) has to ride between the two worlds, and while Zuvatto sometimes overplays it (in the Robert Sean Leonard style of acting), his point is true. However it is the subtlety of an older pro like Nathan Lane, which might be a metaphor and a directorial choice, that can bring the grounded darkness within the light. The decisions are very gray in this episode, not just for the brother but for his mother.

A very telling scene also involves a mother’s intent to save her son from the dark side. It is that struggle of identity that permeates the episode through and through. Mateo, whom Tiago is protecting as his brother, is acting out of rage and not logic, acceptance, and not compassion. But the same can be said of Sister Molly. Is her mother trying to protect her or exploit her, see her happiness or search for her own. One specific revelation that this reviewer had not noticed is the German wife that has been slighted by the German doctor who has himself been seduced by the Goddess Of Darkness is none other than Piper Perabo from “Covert Affairs”. It is a smaller role for her to take but the disappearance is undeniable. Whereas her accent and blonde looks were always on display before, this is an inherent and textured reveal especially as her husband seeks to send her to detox. As with other aspects, motivations and choices are not what they seem whether to protect, serve or to subjugate,

B+

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: BILLIONS – EPISODE 5 (“Contract”) [Showtime-S5]

“Billions” as it progresses through the 5th season, tries to tick off certain emotional levels of human consumption whether it be desire, regret, anticipation, reflection, etc. In Episode 5, “Contract”, the idea becomes how do people in power positions react when threatened from an angle they can’t control. What this episode examines are those personal moments that can hurt more than any dagger filled with money. This is true of all the characters but the plot focal point that sets it off is through Wendy Malick, so Blanche in many ways in “Hot In Cleveland” who can play icy with a dash of vulnerability here very well. It is a small problem she has that Paul Giamatti’s Chuck Rodes knows how to approach. In a battle with Axelrod. Rhodes has the slight edge as his humanity starts to show…which might be his saving grace. Axelrod (as played by Damian Lewis) only knows how to strike out hard and then only sees a regret later though it might be too late. He then usually writes it off as a loss that has to be fixed without understanding that the fix changes the outcome.

The issue is that elements from Axe’s childhood, he can never redo despite how much he would really like to. One of the more interesting images is him peaking from behind his old h house in Yonkers whom he bought out underneath a kid he was helping while his second in command, Wendy Rhodes, Chuck’s ex-wife looks on. It is one of many diametric images. Another one occurs when a health scare affects Chuck’s father whom he recently started reconnecting with. A small interlude in a hospital with significant others is an interesting pivot, especially when those two (in Frank Grillo and Julianne Marguiles – who is exceptional in this role) are moving in tandem with their own subplots. This way it is not just about the alphas at the top but the sub alphas and the betas wanting to move into an alpha spot. This chess game is interesting in dynamics since in all considerations it is not about the end game but who can live with the spoils that they eventually will concede to.

B+

By Tim Wassberg