Archer‘s fifth season was a huge creative gamble that largely paid off for the animated FX spy comedy. The premiere exploded the premise Adam Reed and company had built up over half a hundred episodes: ISIS was shut down, the gang absconded to Cheryl’s mansion with a few tons of cocaine, and espionage suddenly took a back seat to drug dealing. Archer Vice came to an end this week by revealing that said explosion was actually a long con, an ISIS mission that only the namesake mother and son duo knew about. But not everything’s back to normal: Lana has a baby now, and surprise, it’s Archer’s (via sperm bank). Reed now has at least two more seasons to do what he wants, though it’s unlikely the show will ever reconfigure itself as radically as it did this time around.
Game of Thrones Crosses a Line
HBO’s flagship fantasy series has always been explicit in its depiction of sex and sexual assault. But a scene between Cersei and Jaime, the incestuous twins whose relationship basically started a war, was a first for the show: both director Alex Graves and actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldeau argued that Jaime hadn’t raped his sister, despite critics’ and the audience’s strong impressions to the contrary. For a series that’s normally able to depict rape’s impact on victims in an empathetic, not objectifying way, it’s a low point. Though it did prompt some worthwhile reflections, like Sonia Saraiya’s excellent A.V. Club piece on assault in the books versus the show.
Black Box Debuts to No Acclaim
ABC’s drama about a bipolar neuroscientist (with a shrink played by Vanessa Redgrave) isn’t exactly worth watching, but boy, are its pans worth reading. Writing for Previously.TV, Sarah Bunting declares the pilot “Quite Possibly the Most Thoroughly Awful… Ever Made,” and the review only gets harsher from there: Black Box “positions itself as an authority on bipolar disorder while depicting manic-depressive illness in a manner so unrealistic, Drew Barrymore pasting magazine eyes on her motel-room wall in Mad Love looks like a Frederick Wiseman joint by comparison.” Props to Bunting for sitting through the first episode so we don’t have to.
Don and Sally Reconcile
Ever since Sally walked in on her father “comforting” downstairs neighbor Sylvia Rosen, their relationship’s been fundamentally broken. “A Day’s Work” was a Valentine’s Day episode of Mad Men, but the main pairing of the episode turned out to be filial, not romantic: Sally goes into the city for a funeral, figures out her dad’s out of a job, and the two of them take a road trip out to Connecticut to take her back to boarding school. Their gas station dinner, a candid conversation about why Don left SC&P, is the first substantive interaction between them we’ve seen since the closing shot of Season 6, where Don presumably told his kids about Dick Whitman. It’s a testament to how much Sally’s matured, but it also gives us hope that she’ll be able to forgive her father, even if she can never forget what she saw.