Sally Draper Sees Something We Really Wish She Hadn’t
We thought Don Draper’s bad parenting moments topped out with his confession that he’s felt literally nothing for his kids for most of their lives. “Favors” proved us horribly, devastatingly wrong when a sleepover prank lands Sally a front and center seat to her dad and Sylvia’s adulterous reunion sex. What’s worse, Don doesn’t even give Sally enough credit to come clean: speaking through her locked door, he tells her, “I know you think you saw something,” and describes his and Sylvia’s affair as simply “complicated” while placing the burden on Sally to keep quiet and wrestle with the guilt and trauma on her own. It’s both a low point in a season that’s been especially unforgiving of Don’s many flaws and a turning point in the evolution of the always precocious, increasingly jaded character of Sally Draper. And several decades’ worth of intense psychotherapy starts…now.
John Oliver Steps Up to the Plate
It’s obviously going to be a little strange when a show called The Daily Show with Jon Stewart isn’t hosted by Jon Stewart, but longtime MVP John Oliver has done an admirable job of filling his boss’s massive shoes. Fortunately for him, he also happened to take over the day the NSA scandal broke, giving him and the Daily Show writers primo ammunition for the exasperated liberal outrage they do best. Most of this week’s shows were solid performances for Oliver, but the most popular thus far (if the resulting GIFs are any judge) seems to be his takedown of Lindsey Graham’s nonchalance towards the NSA, gun control paranoia, and most impressively, white male privilege. There’s even a charmingly self-deprecating admission that “a Southern accent is not a club in my bag; humility works surprisingly well with Oliver’s sillier, less caustic persona.
Game of Thrones Wraps Up
The big story from season three’s post-Red Wedding cleanup episode (literally — shout out to Walder Frey’s poor housekeepers) was Daenerys’s face-palm-inducing encounter with her new subjects, but “Mhysa” was also remarkable as Game of Thrones‘ only truly successful finale to date. The show has always struggled with beginnings and endings, excelling instead with quietly forceful midseason moments like Jaime’s monologue to Brienne. Yet “Mhysa” felt like a satisfying close to Game of Thrones‘ strongest season so far, giving viewers much-needed quality time with fan favorite Tyrion and positioning the Stannis/Melisandre/Davos plot line to actually go somewhere next season. The pacing for the show vis-a-vis the books is going to be a little wonky from here on out (the second half of the third book isn’t quite as shocking as the third, and the fourth and fifth books are split up by character rather than chronology), but this episode gave us confidence Benioff and Weiss are up to the challenge.
Hannibal Finally Takes Off His Mask
Mads Mikkelsen’s version of Hannibal Lecter can be subtle to the point of allowing viewers to forget he’s a villain at all: his manipulations on Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal are quiet, minor, and underhanded, leaving only a vague sense of discomfort whenever Mikkelsen is onscreen (particularly when he’s serving somebody else food). The closing episodes of Hannibal‘s first season, however, are finally upping both the stakes and the pace as Will gets closer to figuring out that Hannibal’s behind some of the season’s unsolved murders and Hannibal aims to sabotage Will by framing him. Not only are Hannibal’s actions more direct; we also finally see him talk to someone else about his true identity, as he confesses to Abigail Hobbes that he killed her best friend just to see what would happen (presumably right before killing her). Hannibal‘s spent long enough being quietly forceful; it’s finally kicking it up a few notches, just in time for the finale.
Pretty Little Liars Comes Back With, Well…Not a Bang
Tuesday’s Pretty Little Liars season premiere was a somewhat tame affair — at least by that show’s over-the-top standards. We got a few minor reveals, a new (and understandably uneasy) alliance between the Liars and Mona, and yet another murder. I trust no one will be crying over the loss of Detective Wilden, although his funeral did provide one the episode’s best darkly hilarious moment. After a text from A taunts Spencer and Mona with the possibility of incriminating evidence in Wilden’s open casket, the girls track down his coffin at the funeral home and spend a few macabre moments digging around his corpse to find a ringing phone that ends up belonging to Hanna’s mom. — Judy Berman