IR TV Review: PENNY DREADFUL – CITY OF ANGELS – EPISODE 10 (“Day Of The Dead”) [Showtime]

Finding the right conclusion that plays with the texture to uphold stakes is difficult in any series. Questions always arise. The manipulation from within becomes the true aspect of drama. With the season finale of “Penny Dreadful: City Of Angels” entitled “Day Of The Dead” the paths divergent become a messy train of broken souls but also resolve. Tiago Vega thinks he sees a path both correct and then apart. But then it comes undone. He thinks he knows the path of right and then he realizes that it doesn’t serve the greater good. Sister Molly thinks she knows what happiness could be but it becomes a shadow of reality. The key with this season has always been sketching the melting pot of life within this time in Los Angeles. It could define what it would become, both with its differences and similarities. The question the series brings up becomes who are the people that lose and what is the inherent collateral damage when all is said and done.

Unlike some of the episodes which make the words do alot of the walking, the season finale especially in its latter half lets the silences and the imagery speak. The diametric images especially in the last 10 minutes push the stories in ways that one would not expect. Granted one specific point does not make sense as it might be more metaphorical than literal. The stakes are still present but manufactured or perhaps regrouped in a different way. The joy that was prevalent in the previous episode lurks below the surface but with an element of pain which is what makes the best drama. Again the manipulation of the supernatural is done subtly but the battle of what the Goddess wanted versus her sister relates in very poetic terms. It foreshadows a crossroads that when discussed is both undeniable and yet tragic, poetic yet sad. Series creator John Logan who also wrote “Gladiator” understands the necessity of light and darkness. Lives are not neatly wrapped up. “Day Of The Dead” as a season finale works to highlight that the danger that lingers, lessons learned, actions taken and yet life moves on perhaps with a little more wisdom.

A-

By Tim Wassberg

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: PICARD – EPISODE 9 (“Et In Arcadia Ego – Part II”) [CBS All Access]

The aspect of evolution in terms of idealism or perhaps in moderation of experiences had has been part of the duality of “Picard” as a series. It began with an incomplete matriculation of Data’s last iteration in “Nemesis” (what is interesting for the reviewer is that I am fairly certain I interviewed Brent Spiner, Stewart and director Stuart Baird for that film for TV back in 2002 – the interviewed likely buried on some digital tape somewhere). Wrapping those strands of psychology from that film is what gnaws on both sides of the season finale (“Et In Arcadia Ego – Part II”) here. While the thrust of the narrative when it finally arrives at its end point seems sounds, it also seems too neatly put together. This is not a criticism overtly since it makes totally sense and works within the existential nature of the project overall.

As it moves in the final hour of the season, it brings into focus the nature of Picard but creates it on a very large scale. While it is not integrated as a space battle per se (without giving anything anyway) there is a sense of breath to it, especially when the viewer sees who is at the helm. The brother Soong is an interesting quandary since one is not quite sure the mythology behind it. It actually ends in a way that is more hopeful than where it began which I gather is part of the point of this specific journey. The coda per se that leads towards the epilogue is what really fans came to see all season and rivals some of the specific moments when Picard reunites with Riker and Troi on their planet.

It makes complete sense though that it feels like an adjusted addendum but it very much plays within the Shakespearean elements that Stewart so loves. There is sort of a paradoxical take on “The Tempest” within its walls. As it continues into the meaning of its conclusion, it dovetails into those ideas that sometimes change in path, much like Spock’s in earlier transgressions (even before the reboot), which again reverts back to the Romulan conflict and also their sense of identity. All works well. The final shot however tries to infer too much when it was not necessary and could have been done with more subtlety. While it did offer a slight hiccup, it doesn’t heavily diminish what the episode achieves.

B+

By Tim Wassberg