Game of Thrones – A
Remember last week when I lamented how stressed I was about Jon Snow leaving Castle Black before Sansa could get there? Well seems like the HBO Gods heard my plea and answered it with this week’s episode. Instead of taking four more episodes to build up to a Stark reunion they dove right on in with Brienne and Sansa showing up at Jon’s doorstep. Finally, something good for the Starks! The seas parted and the sky smiled down as Jon and Sansa share an emotional embrace and then some really bad ale, and reminisce about the good old days. After catching up, Sansa gets down to business asking Jon where he will go next — to which he’s like,”umm I dunno.” Sansa does. She has a plan. She casually suggests they go back home to Winterfell and overthrow her pyscho husband Bolton, no big deal. Jon is like whoa, I was just given a second chance at life and not sure I want to get into a war, especially being I have no army. Can’t I just chill out for a second? He quickly has a change of heart when he receives a letter from Ramsey Bolton taunting him about having lil bro Rickon in his clutches. Sansa is all like see told ya he’s crazy and we gotta go bring him down.
Cut to Tyrion over in Meereen, wheeling and dealing, negotiating deals with the slave masters much to the dismay of Grey Worm and Missandei. As former slaves they are disgusted he is making deals with their sworn enemies but Tyrion is like hey this is how the world works, watch and take notes. He tells the masters they have seven years to transition out of using slaves in return for their loyalty against the Brothers of the Harpy. Everyone is a lil disgruntled that he is carrying out deals on behalf of Queen Dany, they demand to know when she’ll be back. Good question! She is still stuck over in Dothraki widow-land, but not for long if Daario has anything to do with it. He infiltrates the sacred city to try to get his girl out before he completely turns to stone. He finally finds her and she’s all like, great timing, I have an idea follow me. Dany has a meeting with the Dothraki Khals to decide on her fate — whether she stays confined to the widow hut forever or something more gruesome (insert tacky sexual innuendo here). Yeah, keep laughing it up boys, Dany has something for you just wait. Finally, when she tires of their banter she starts her own speech. Of course they can’t let a girl get a word in without interrupting, which one does screaming “Serve, I will never serve you!” to which Dany confidently replies, “Ha! You are not going to serve, you are going to die!!!!” in a Samuel L. Jackson tone and knocks the flame pit over and lights up the whole hut which they are locked in. Checkmate. She is The Unburnt, the Mother of Dragons, she plays in fire for fun, guys. She stands there watching the kings go down in flames totally unbothered. When her work is done she walks naked and unscathed. All hail Queen Dany, the ultimate Boss.
Seems like the common theme here is about going home and reclaiming home at any means necessary. Theon also returns home to face his sister and offers to help her take the throne as a way to make amends. The north is reuniting my friend, and it is about to get really crazy, really fast.
– Navani Otero
Silicon Valley – A
Poor, poor Richard! Even when he’s being cool, he’s not. As Guilfoyle puts it after Richard verbally serves Action Jack, but slips on paper — and his own prideful flourish — and falls to the floor with a bloody nose, “that was badass…until it wasn’t.” “Maleant Data Systems Solution” is all about manipulation — so many manipulations. The most noble one comes from Monica, who risks her job to stand up to her Aspergers-y boss Laurie. Erlich tries to play Iago to the only person he possibly can outwit, Big Head, who’s accidentally built an incubator that puts his to shame. Even Gavin Belson’s spiritual guru, when faced with a downgraded parking spot, goes all proactive on his pupil-boss and while “quitting,” hints at swirling rumors, undermining Gavin’s confidence, closing on “clearly we have come far but have far to go, not as far as Lot D, but far nonetheless.”
However, the greatest puppet-mastery comes courtesy of the king of such things, Jack Barker. When the coders can’t help but create above average work — as Jared says Jared-ly, “look what you guys build, you can’t help but be elegant, like Audrey Hepburn” — Action Jack preys upon Richard’s vanity to slyly coerce him to convince another CEO that the hated box was the way to go. At a subsequent shareholders meeting, its revealed the contract Richard fought for essentially kills the platform Richard holds so dear, leading to Monica’s act of minor-key heroics, and Jack storming out of the room. Is this the end of Steven Tobolowsky’s inspired turn as the ultimate Type A MBA’d weasel? Sadly, it may be as Belson buys out End Frame to bring in new blood — unaware that he’s hiring back the Nucleus team he just fired days ago — and effectively puts a price on Richard’s platform, saving it. When the Pied Piper crew returns to their office, they find Laurie seated in the chair, Jack fired with no replacement — not a return of Richard, and certainly not Erlich — and once again everything is falling apart. But that’s where Silicon Valley gets good.
– Jason Thurston
Veep – A
While many of Veep‘s best episodes stem from its use of its extensive dysfunctional family of high-end operative misfits, “Mother” is mostly a Julia Louis-Dreyus tour de force (although Anna Chlumsky has perhaps the funniest moment of the night when she can’t NOT work blue even when chatting with an amused civilian vote observer). Selina Meyer is so established as a political player and chameleon, that when she finally breaks down at her mother’s funeral podium right after hearing she’s lost the recount, it’s near impossible to tell if she’s mourning the likely end of her presidency, her mother’s death, or just everything that’s happened up to now. It’s an ending brilliantly set up by scenes where she’s alternating between publicly grieving to the press, tearing into her mom whenever in privacy of her staff, and (most frequently) calculating the effect her moves will have on her national popularity. Meanwhile, the daughter who’s been shooed out of rooms all season hovers in the background, genuinely distraught at the loss of her “mee maw” and seething more and more with every slight by — and inappropriate celebration of — her President mom. It’s truly poignant moment when Selina obliviously defends her dislike of her mother directly to her, “oh, Catherine, you have no idea what it’s like to be the only daughter 0f a pathological narcissist.” Um, she might have some idea, and Sarah Sutherland must be commended for her subtle reactions as the constantly put-upon Catherine. There might even be some semblance of a real moment when President Meyer collapses into tears, as she relents to play the Tim McGraw song Catherine begged her to let play. Of course, in true Veep fashion, the emotion is cut by a credits coda where Meyer is greeting the famous attendees, all of whom chime in with perfectly cynical notions.
– Jason Thurston