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: Game of Thrones and Major Lazer!
Max Robinson is watching…
Game of Thrones
Season 5, Episode 10 “Mother’s Mercy”
Sundays at 9 pm ET on HBO
Game of Thrones! Misery and blood! Game of Thrones! A child murdering a pedophile, only to be blinded by poison! Game! of! Thrones! Jon Snow, prison-shanked by his brothers in arms! GAAAAME! OOOF! THROOOONES! Franken-freakin’-Mountain. But yeah, wow, wild stuff huh?
This was an often uneven (and uncomfortably misogynist) season of Who’s Who of Westeros, but this show’s strength has always been in how it sticks the landing. While not quite packing the powerful emotional punch of last season’s finale, “Mother’s Mercy” covers a ton of geography and harvests a number of plotlines. Jon Snow’s death is a fitting culmination of his obsession with the larger picture (impending ice zombie doomsday war) at the expense of more immediate dangers (the discontent of his fellow Night’s Watch soldiers). Cersei’s naked walk of shame is an uncomfortable moment of humanity for a character we’ve spent most of the season despising, while Stephen Dillane plays Stannis, undone by his own hubris, accepting his (ambiguous?) fate, with a resigned dignity that pays off years of screentime.
This is an episode about failure and the acceptance of failure. Showrunners Weiss and Benioff have moved the show’s remaining chess pieces into interesting new positions. While I’m hoping next season is a little more self-aware when it comes to female character portrayals, it genuinely feels like we’ve fallen off the map, and it’s exciting.
Episode Highlight: Three-way tie between Arya’s brutal, Kill Bill Volume 1-style assassination of Meryn Trant, Franken-Mountain’s reveal, and the Jon Snow’s empty eyes as he bleeds out on the snow.
Adam Pelta-Pauls is watching…
Season 1, Episode 9: “Fizzy Fever”
Thursdays at Midnight on FXX
A couple weeks ago, I expressed some concern after watching Major Lazer‘s premiere episodes. I felt that the show was basically indistinguishable from many similar Adult Swim-type cartoons, and that it wouldn’t last long unless it could find its own voice in that crowd. I’m pleased to say it’s done just that.
I’m actually curious as to why this series started with those two episodes. Pilots should be a good representation of what an audience can expect from a show, and after seeing seven more episodes, I think it’s safe to say that Major Lazer kinda buried the lede.
Since those bumpy first episodes, this show has truly hit its stride. Each eleven-minute episode is crammed with a combination of eighties cartoon nostalgia, fantastic music (either original to the series, or from Major Lazer’s discography, including the recently released “Peace is the Mission”), and big-name voice actors. Previous guests have included Aziz Ansari, Kumail Najani, two thirds of The Lonely Island (Andy Samberg & Jorm Taccone), other heavy hitters of the music/comedy biz (Tiësto, Riff Raff, Ezra Koenig), and Matt Berry of Garth Marengi’s Darkplace fame. This episode included appearances by Cat Powers and Trinidad James, so Diplo’s side project has more than delivered on star power.
But the show’s principal cast is what makes it so strong. JK Simmons delivers a standout performance, giving his President Whitewall (who didn’t appear in the show until episode five or six) the perfect balance of supervillain megalomania and parent-of-a-teenager exasperation. This episode saw him attempting to thwart the rise of a dog named Fizzy, who barks in addictive EDM. Fizzy’s been adopted by hacker prodigy Blkmrkt (First Order Stormtrooper-to-be John Boyega), but when Major Lazer (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) hears the music, he decides to take it upon himself to send the dog to space, passing through a gauntlet of General Rubbish’s best men on the way.
Episode Highlight: Most of this season, the show’s villains have been portrayed by the biggest guest star that week. The Tekken-style “choose your fighter” screen of bad guys in this episode means you get Cat Powers’ Knife Fighter, Trinidad James’ Goldie, The Streets’ Block Head, and a bunch more, all in one nonstop, music-fueled slugfest.