It’s not entirely devoid of the flippant, persistently ironic tone that makes Vice so irritating, but the premiere of the magazine-turned-global-media-brand’s new show on HBO successfully covered hard-hitting issues with real gonzo journalism. Case in point was founder Shane Smith’s trip to Afghanistan to investigate the use of child suicide bombers by the Taliban, which culminated in a sit-down with a leader of the organization. Watching the Taliban member coolly rationalize the use of suicide bombers to Smith in a friendly, conversational tone is horrifying and engrossing all at once, and it’s both impressive and gutsy that Smith managed to get in the room in the first place.
Ben, Tom, And Andy See Donna’s True Colors
Ben’s attempt to lure local fragrance tycoon Dennis Feinstein into donating to his charity takes up the lion’s share of this scene, and it’s certainly entertaining in and of itself: Ben attempts to smoke a cigar Tony Soprano-style and fails, and the millionaire asks Tom to go hunting with him — as the prey. But the interlude at Pawnee’s smoking club peaks at the very end, when Andy says what the audience is thinking and calls the fragrance guy a dick. On their way out, they run into Donna, who’s enjoying one of her many dates with multiple men that we hear so much about but never get to see. Retta’s delivery of the line, “Gentlemen,” will doubtless go down in Parks and Rec history as the apex of Donna’s character.
Chloe Sevigny Makes a Grand Entrance
Directed by the wonderful B.J. Novak, “Santa Fe” sees New York OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri take her talents to the titular city and pay a visit to her ex-boyfriend, Josh. Mindy is now dating super-chill minister Casey, who also happens to be Anders from Workaholics, and things get complicated when she and coworker Danny hold hands on the plane ride back during some turbulence. Once we get over the whole “Gasp! Love triangle!” business, though, the episode has one final surprise waiting for us: Danny’s ex-wife, Christina, finally shows up on screen, and she’s none other than Chloe Sevigny (amusingly, the surprise might have been blown for keen-eyed viewers who saw her get billing in the end credits before she even showed up). “Hey, Danny,” indeed.
Drag Race Gives DADT Vets a Makeover
For a show that sets the bar for drama as high as RuPaul’s Drag Race, it takes quite a bit to genuinely move the audience to tears. “Super Troopers,” however, might have been Drag Race‘s most moving episode to date: for this season’s makeover episode, which usually features laughably masculine straight guys, the queens worked with gay veterans who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. While all of their stories were touching, Jinkx’s partner Dave’s confession that he had AIDS and was too frail to walk in heels was deeply sobering. Jinkx, meanwhile, handled it like a pro, demonstrating remarkable empathy and working with Dave to finish strong. Jinkx was already this season’s frontrunner, but now she’s also our favorite.