Deadshirt Is Watching… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt staff, contributors, and guests sound off on the television shows we’re tuned into, from intense dramas to clever sitcoms to the most insane reality shows. This week: Wayward Pines and Veep!
Haley Winters is watching…
Season 1, Episode 2: “Do Not Discuss Your Life Before”
Thursdays at 9/8c on FOX
After last week’s pilot, I wasn’t quite sure what direction Wayward Pines was going to take. There was always the expectation of a Twin Peaks redux—the small mysterious town, the federal agent seeking answers—but Wayward Pines was quick to introduce its more fantastical elements. Even though it was obviously coming, that drive out of Wayward Pines and directly back into Wayward Pines gave me the shivers. Paired with the shifts in time and that huge armed wall keeping the residents in (out?), it seems director/producer M. Night Shyamalan is adding a page from the Lost handbook to his own.
The second episode plants us firmly in Dharma Initiative territory, and, as more of a Lost than a Peaks fan myself, I must admit I am quite happy with how Wayward Pines has started to shape up. As Matt Dillon’s Ethan Burke (whose name I insist on believing is an amalgam of my two favorite Others) continues to search for answers/attempt to escape the twisted alternate universe he seems to have stumbled into, we get a much more directed look into the workings of the “town,” including its very public rules (see above). And we see the consequences of breaking those rules, in a terrifying and brutally concrete way. (Or is it? Is anything concrete in Wayward Pines?) Anything more I have to say will only be spoilers, so I’ll leave you with a few key images: duct tape over a self-inflicted wound; a town full of phones ringing; and Terrence Howard’s Sheriff Pope holding a knife in the hand that usually holds an ice cream cone. You’ll have to watch the episode yourself if you want to know more.
Episode Highlight: Melissa Leo’s Nurse
Ratched Pam continues to delight: “You ever try to suture your own nose, Arlene?”
Tyler Austin is watching…
Season 4, Episode 7: “Mommy Meyer”
Sundays at 10:30 on HBO
Veep is operating at the absolute height of its powers right now.
The show has undergone a paradigm shift over the course of this season that has brought things to a fever pitch of comedic greatness. The move of both Amy and Dan into Washington’s revolving door of lobbying and the inclusion of Hugh Laurie’s VP candidate Thomas James has opened up a whole new world of storylines. It also gave some breathing room for the rest of Selina Meyer’s staff to thrive.
The beautiful thing about Veep has always been the strong supporting cast built around one of television’s living legends. This episode was able to showcase the versatile talents of this Murderer’s Row of comedy character actors, and most especially Matt Walsh. The cold open began with him begging for his wife to stab him with a fork so he could bleed out and ended with him realizing he’d forgotten her birthday. On a lesser show, that’s an entire plot line. Here it’s a footnote on the awful day he’s about to have. The depth of its awfulness and his depression is as breathtaking as the Grand Canyon, or a punch to the gut.
The other two storylines here somehow managed to be equally satisfying. Selina meeting up with her lawyer friends from the old days brings the cringe like an awkward Chris Rock in the late nineties. The foursome, while clearly at some point friends, is now reduced to competitive catch-up. When Katherine, the beleaguered Chelsea Clinton type, enters the dinner, she’s met with nothing but scattered groans.
Episode Highlight: Jonah and his new assistant Richard T. Splett (“Don’t know why I said, ‘T,’ my middle name is John.”) form a dynamic duo of unbearable idiocy while occupying opposite ends of the personality spectrum. Jonah is all fake frat-boy confidence, while Splett is the nicest guy in a room who you definitely wanna hit in the face. Their continuing adventures together are beyond enjoyable, like when they argue the best way to to cut off Thomas James during a speaking engagement. Splett’s suggestion of hitting a button to drop balloons is both stupid, and, as Jonah finds out, not actually possible.. Put that one in the Hall of Fame of Veep exchanges.