TV Talk for Sunday, April 1st 2012
Once Upon A Time (ABC, 8pm) - S1, Ep18: "The Stable Boy" - I love the way this show goes back and forth with who's really in charge in Storybrooke: the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) or Mr. Gold (Robert Carlyle). Just last week we saw a touch of her awfulness-- using the Mad Hatter (Sebastian Stan) to get what she needed (her father out of the other world)-- and this week it's all about humanizing her and even sympathizing. Seeing her fairy tale plight of both an awful mother (Barbara Hershey-- amazing casting) and ill-fated love (Noah Bean) took her back farther than we were ever allowed to see before. We got glimpses of why she disliked Snow (Ginnifer Goodwin) before, but we-- or at least I-- always assumed the majority of the hatred came from issues with her father. But when it turned out she had to sacrifice so much so early, the layers of darkness made a bit more sense. Someone who acts out the way Regina does-- someone who has vengeance in her heart-- has had years of stewing in disappointment to build that up. Her mother, Cora, certainly didn't help matters. All of her talk of "old maid" and being too old for fun and worrying about status and you know, accepting a marriage proposal on behalf of her daughter; I didn't know fairy tales dabbled in religion, but I'd say Cora was the quintessential Jewish mother. Dealing with that her whole life was not nearly enough to "turn" her, but it was a strong foundation nonetheless. I guess I never really wondered how she came to marry Snow's father; I always assumed it was out of greed that she managed to seduce him for the keys to the kingdom, and Snow was just a side effect of the marriage-- like an ugly chair you inherit and put up with because he's the King. So watching Regina save a little girl (Bailee Madison-- another perfect casting!) out of the goodness in her heart, only to realize that was what sealed her fate and caused her demise was surprisingly heartbreaking. On it's own, there was a little bit of a "That's it?" feeling about what set Regina against her. She wasn't the one who killed Daniel, but her inability to keep a secret (um, hello? She was a kid!) was the catalyst for his killing. So, added up with all of the other things stacked against her, and the grudge made sense. Her action was just the tipping point-- the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. And the same can be said for Snow. Snow learned about true love from her, and ultimately, true evil from her, as well. She was so young and innocent, thinking the worst thing in the world was being motherless, rather than stuck with a mother who didn't really love her. The Dutch angles on Snow while she was in the jail cell were something to think about. Such a film style usually indicates something askew in the character's life-- or mental state. But we obviously know what's wrong in Snow's life: she's wrongly imprisoned. And then we learned was wrong with her life from such a young age in fairy tale land: she had to live with the knowledge that those raising her did not love each other. The fact that she was ever able to come out of that angry warrior on horseback seems more and more like a miracle every episode. Obviously, Regina couldn't dig deep enough to do the same.
Shameless (SHO, 9pm) - S2, Ep12: "Fiona, Interrupted" - I never thought I'd agree with Frank (William H. Macy). I mean, he does so many things I abhor. But I will say that I do believe the meds and the shock therapy (seriously, why is that still a valid option in 2012!?) will strip Monica (Chloe Webb) of what makes her Monica. Of course, that doesn't mean I think he should have busted her out of the hospital where she truly seemed to want to stay-- to get better. There is no doubt in my mind that he meant it when he said he loved her, but his idea of love is not healthy. He wanted her to stay self-destructive as long as he was still be self-destructive because to be without her in that phase of his life was just lonely. Who would have thought he was more of a mess than she was? It was the most selfish thing he's ever done. He may want Monica with him, but she needs to get healthier before she is with anyone, even alone with herself, and especially in front of her kids. And I'm not so sure I believe Sheila (Joan Cusack) should have a second chance with that baby. I mean, I hate it when parents take credit for their kids' successes, but there's something to be said for how her rearing played into the awfulness that Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins) embodies today. Because she is truly the worst. Worse than Community's Britta (jokes!); worse than Smash's Ellis (and that's say A LOT). By all means, that baby should not be handed over to the foster care system (I'll take him!), and kudos to Tony (Tyler Jacob Moore) and his partner for recognizing that, but I'm not entirely convinced Sheila, sheer love or not, in all her kookiness can do right by him. She certainly wasn't strong enough to tell her daughter to get out the first time she stormed in demanding to see "it"-- and she had put "it" in the damn dryer! He is one sweet and adorable little baby. Maybe if Lip (Jeremy Allen White) had a hand in raising the kid he would stand a better chance, but considering he really is turning into his father, that's probably unlikely. He's a nomad now, and one who can't help but be hung up on broken women. Better or worse than his brother Ian (Cameron Monaghan) who is always hooking up with somewhat self-loating gays? This episode was the most I've ever like Jenna Elfman, by the way, but perhaps the most unsure I've ever felt about Ian. He seemed so conflicted when he learned who Lloyd (Harry Hamlin) really was. Was it just because of the relationship to Jimmy (Justin Chatwin) or was it the fact that yet again he had to be someone's dirty little secret? I guess that remains for season three. And I'm okay with the loose ends because for once the show ended on a happy, hopeful note for the Gallagher clan.
House of Lies (SHO, 10pm) - S1, Ep12: "The Mayan Apocalypse" - This show has proven to be an acquired taste of its short run, and for the most part, I decided that was not a taste I particularly cared for. But like any true TV fan, I was curious enough to tune back in for its season finale to see if characters, or my opinion, had changed over the first season's "growth." But, it turns out, no growth for these people. Despite Marty's (Don Cheadle) sad eyes and moment of "Am I a good person?" way back in the pilot, he doesn't seem to have explored deeper in my time away. And tonight he gave us a beautifully scored imaginary rampage which I just had no stomach for and some more of his usual smooth talking B.S. that managed to allow him and his goons to save the day. Well, their day. Their asses. It's not very poetic; it's just more of the same sleaze. The world as these guys knew it was ending (see, the Mayans were right, just more metaphorically), but rather than have to learn anything from it, they just spun the same awfulness. So much so that I no longer believe Marty's concerns or promises to his kid ("He can't" is not about what his kid wants or even what's better for him-- let's face it, with those parents, he's pretty screwed either way-- it's about what Marty wants, and that's the worst), and I didn't buy Jeannie's (Kristen Bell) almost confession to Michael Rady. They manage to get what they want at work all the time, but they're not entitled to it, let alone automatically getting what they want at home, too. I seriously hate these guys. Free Ben Schwartz!