While there are a pair of season finales tonight, it’s a penultimate episode which wows with a surreal offering that exemplifies why it’s one of 2016’s best new series. Baskets takes us to Paris in flashback, while lead clown Chip Baskets wanders somberly around Bakersfield trying to recapture a moment of happiness. Truths about just how Chip became who he is, how he met wife Penelope, and how Penelope’s veneer of scheming thoughtlessness turns out to be not quite what it appeared. Meanwhile, Shondaland successfully wraps up the second season of How To Get Away with Murder with a stirring, complicated episode that punctuates an imperfect season. Colony‘s finale’s reception is not quite as overwhelming, although with so many deceptions and moving parts (and implausibilities), it would be hard to end on a completely satisfying note. A lighter dystopia, You, Me, and the Apocalypse achieves a better balance as it counts down to its Doomsday Clock’s absolute midnight.
Thursday, March 17th’s Best: Baskets (10.0/10)
Baskets, through eight episodes, has artfully built a world that has expanded from absurd extremities to a rich tapestry of compelling characters, from a clown trying to order Tangerine Fanta at a fast-food drive-thru to a struggling artist trying to reconstruct a Parisian memory of genuine connection. Andrew Lapin of Vulture awards it the best episode of the season, one that “stands on its own as an impeccably constructed short film.” AV Club‘s Vikram Murthi gives the “sweet, tender” episode an A, while extolling the gentle way they upend the audience’s initial perception of Chip & Penelope’s relationship.
The Rest of the Night:
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya of AV Club sums up the second season and its finale thusly: “the season wasn’t perfect, but the finale was.” Or as Vulture‘s Phoebe Robinson puts it, “OH. EM. GEE. Friendships, that was one banana sandwich of a finale.”
TV Fanatic‘s Elena Zhang raves “the emotional hits just keep on coming” on the “most exciting episode of the series to date.”
Portlandia – 8.5
Les Chappell of AV Club loves this minor Lance and Nina epic, crowing “like the better episodes of the season, it doesn’t just take one character and see what happens when things change, it uses that as a chain reaction to spur the other one on, going from identity crisis to crises.” We enjoyed it too.
Vikings – 8.3
IGN‘s Matt Fowler enjoyed this “bridging” episode for what it was.
Grey’s Anatomy – 8.0
After declaring herself Oprah for wishing a satisfying episode into being, Vulture‘s Maggie Fremont crows about “two a-mah-zing guest stars (Happy Endings‘ Casey Wilson and the legendary Rita Moreno) to carry some great patient stories.”
Colony – 6.5
The critically favored alien dystopia added more questions than answers as it wrapped up its first season, and even its most forgiving critic of the night, Terri Schwartz of IGN, bemoans its “missed opportunities to not embrace what makes Colony unique and lean into the sci-fi element of the show.”
Scandal – 5.3
Shonda’s second show had another rough week. Click the zine title for AV Club‘s Gwen Inhat’s take.