Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Switched at Birth', 'The River', and 'Southland' Season Finales...

TV Talk for Tuesday, March 20th 2012

Switched at Birth (ABC Family, 8pm) - S1, Ep22: "Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time" - Lizzy Weiss is so adamant that her show is not "just" about a love triangle, and she has proven that time and again all season long, but in tonight's season finale, what she proved the most was that the show wasn't about "just" one love triangle; it was actually about, like, six. I don't know why the show is trying to drive wedges between John (D.W. Moffett) and Kathryn (Lea Thompson) at this point; if they could get through the whole switched thing, having a new person entire their lives who they might be attracted to on a physical level certainly shouldn't do it. And the lawyer (Sam Page) is too young-- like "could be her son if the hospital was really careless with the switch" young). I don't care if he's giving her attention she hasn't seen from her husband in awhile. It's still weird. As flirty as John and Melody (Marlee Matlin) have seemed in past episodes, the idea of them is just plain weird, too. And though Regina (Constance Marie) and Angelo (Gilles Marini) is far less weird, I still don't like it. I like the artist guy (Christopher Wiehl), but beyond that, Regina was right at the top of the episode: he can't keep coming in and out of her life, whether entirely intentionally or not. He is bad for her and more importantly her sobriety. I can't believe the entire season went by without her even considering picking up a bottle of wine. I'm impressed, but at the same time, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. If he's around, her tension rises, and if her tension rises, old behaviors can easily creep back in. It was an old behavior for her to sleep with him those episodes ago, wasn't it? Now if she helps him get his green card-- well, let's face it, how can she do that by to marry him, right? Boo. He and the lawyer should just get gay married. A new issue for the show to explore! Anyway, I quite like Travis (Ryan Lane)-- and I like him much more than I like Wilke (Austin Butler). Wilke's pretty but dumb. And not being able to go to prom because he has to write a paper? Worst excuse ever! Boo, Wilke; boo! You are just another spoiled, rich kid who can't even be bothered to learn your girlfriend's primary language, and that was a terrible lie. Get your shit together and have a real conversation with Daphne (Katie Leclerc). Travis can be an ass, but he has reason to have a chip on his shoulder, and he's never really been an ass to Daphne, just kind of one in her vicinity. Besides, you can't just show up last minute and expect the girl is sitting around, pining for you; who do you think you are, Jess Mariano!? Moving onto Bay (Vanessa Marano) and Emmett (Sean Berdy), it was only a couple of weeks ago that I saw this same "I have to tell her the truth before she loses her virginity to me" storyline on this network. And just a couple of weeks ago I called that character "too good a guy" for admitting his mistakes (just a kiss with an ex) right before-- and I mean right before-- the deed was done. Here's the thing: I didn't think he was too good for telling her before she made such a life-changing commitment to him, but I thought, 'If you're going to tell her, you don't do it while you're already getting romantic. You do it before things progress that far.' So tonight, seeing the same plot point played out, I should have had a sense of deja vu, but Emmett handed things so absolutely terribly there wasn't a moment for that. There's something to be said for the slack a lot of people cut those with disabilities, and I've always praised this show for not making kids like Daphne and Emmett martyrs or goodie goodies; they're real teenagers with real fuck-up moments. It's how they handle them that will make them better. Emmett should have come clean sooner-- and he should have come clean on his on, without needing the push from the friend who found out who would surely do the right thing if he didn't. He's not perfect; he's just a teenage boy. But I still had to give him extra credit for telling Bay when he did-- sure, it was during a big night, but it was still during the night; he didn't wait until they were hot and heavy in the car or hotel or wherever. It wasn't at the last possible second, partially hoping she'd just be too caught up in the moment to care or to pull away. He watched her walk away, doing the mature thing even if it was episodes too late. I still love him. And I seriously love that this show can successfully go from zombies to prom in back-to-back episodes. Only thing better would have been a zombie-themed prom! It's going to be a long road to the fall season two premiere...

The River (ABC, 9pm) - S1, Ep8: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" - Call me a terrible person, but I was seriously hoping for at least one crew casualty by the end of the season, and not only did we get faked out by bringing someone back from the dead, but we also got two additional crew members when they picked up stowaway Scott Michael Foster and then also found Emmett (Bruce Greenwood) alive. From the moment they rescued Foster, only to learn that he was cursed and therefore should have been doomed, I was waiting for the Amazon to take him, and I had to wait until the end of the season, but I'm glad I got that resolution. Everything about this show was so intense and serious, and to believe the Amazon just let him go-- that wasn't something I could believe. Similarly, we all know (okay, from other genre shows) that the dead have to stay dead because what you bring back isn't a pure person. Dark Lincoln (Joe Anderson) really did kick the shit out of the episode (Leslie Hope's words, but I like 'em!). The question remained for me, though, was he still dead the way Lena's dad was dead? Was he bound to the Amazon, and though he could be seen and could touch physical objects and obviously make permanent alterations to objects and people, he could not actually go home with them all? What the hell is the spirit within him guarding? Just the source? Because Emmett already got really close to the source, so shouldn't he have gone after him? Or did Emmett want to protect it in a similar enough way that the others were more of a concern? He certainly went right for Lena (Eloise Mumford), the "chosen" one, after all. It's kind of a tricky place to be, decompressing from this season finale (the FX team worked wonders tonight!), because while I have so many unanswered questions about all the hows and the whys and the whats, realistically, for the story, I don't think there's a way to organically get the answers. The Magus can just sail on home, and though everyone on board has been forever changed by what they experienced in the Amazon, they are not stupid enough to venture back just to satisfy their curiosity (well, you'd have to hope not anyway). After Emmett realized just how little he knew about his son especially; that screams for holing up with the family at home for some good ole quality time. Of course, the river itself seemed to have other plans, and I couldn't help but, once again, hope it just swallowed them up. Over eight episodes I got to know every character-- some better than others-- and I became invested in their journey. But they got what they came for, and that spirit inside Lincoln was right: they were trespassing and trying to take something very special to the area out of the area. It's just not realistic for the forces of nature or evil or magic or whatever you want to call it to cave for mere humans. If there is a season two, it should just be found footage of the last few days of the Magus crew's lives and journeys. Maybe with one sole survivor who gets "saved" only to bring a little bit of spirit back with him or her.

Southland (TNT, 10pm) - S4, Ep10: "Thursday" - All season long Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) has had to decide what kind of cop he wanted to be, so to have the season finale open with the narration explaining the moment was finally upon him, well, that seemed to strike down the importance of all of the events and perpetrators he encountered beforehand. One event does not a man make, but one can tip the scales, that's for sure. I can't blame him, working with Ferguson (Lou Diamond Phillips) is enough to push anyone over the edge. But for some reason (maybe getting shot was a wake-up call?) Ferguson wasn't as bad as usual. In fact, he was even the voice of reason at one point. That's how bad off Ben was; Ferguson looked like a good option. That is a terrible headspace to be in. I never thought I'd say this, but Ben needs that Castaic house-- he needs the drive to clear his head and the friendly neighbors to wave and lend him barbecue sauce when he gets there. Otherwise he'd just ride up and down the streets all night, trying to save everyone and end up losing his badge to vigilantism. But tonight, above anything else, I think what kicked-started Ben's action was seeing Sammy (Shawn Hatosy) laid up in the hospital, pleading with him to hang out, practically in tears over feeling like he failed him as a partner. It had to be sitting with him, in the back of his mind. Sammy watched his old partner die in front of his eyes, and Ben was faced with what could have been. All he could see was taking down the guy responsible-- no longer simply because of his bleeding heart but because of his very real, bleeding partner. Really who failed as a partner was Tang (Lucy Liu), who took her promotion and then exhibited a case of senioritis. I don't know how she did it; if I had shot someone-- by accident or not-- and then covered it up calculatedly, I wouldn't be so comfortable, let alone jocular with anyone, even a punk wannabe. So while Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) tried his damnest to turn the other cheek, I could not. So while unable to justify her behavior-- or attitude-- I found myself overtly thrilled at Lydia's (Regina King) decision to go on leave for the rest of her pregnancy. Sure, it came out of a horrible situation, but again, whatever causes the tipping point, as long as the right decision is made in the end, right? All season long, motherhood has surrounded Lydia on her cases, and the kids truly were the victims in tonight's case, so there's only so much a person can take to seeing before standing up and saying 'I need a break; I need to create a happy, positive environment for my baby.' The real question will be how she handles it when it's time to go back to work, constantly reminded of the horrible things in her city, let alone the world, and being powerless (or at least not present) to protect her own kid from them.

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