TV Review – Loki Season 1, Episode 2

Loki Season 1, Episode 2 (Disney+)
Written by Elissa Karasik
Directed by Kate Herron

After this episode of Loki, it was clear to me this and the first entry should be viewed as the entire pilot. It reminded me of the 1980s and 90s when some network action-dramas would debut as a two-hour made-for-TV movie that served as an origin story and set up of the series’ conceit. For Loki, it seems the show will be about trying to repair the now fragmented timeline before time runs out. It was established in this episode that the TVA agents can only enter branches in real-time, unable to go back to before the incidents happened to erase them. That sort of ticking clock scenario is the hallmark of much procedural television series.

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TV Review – Loki Season 1, Episode 1

Loki Season 1, Episode 1 (Disney+)
Written by Michael Waldron
Directed by Kate Herron

I am one of those people that never got all the fans gushing over Loki. He’s a perfectly okay character, and it wasn’t until Thor: Ragnarok that I actually found him entertaining. Even in the comics, I just never found Loki a very compelling character. He feels very one-note to me and just works in the same repetitive cycle. With his death in Avengers: Infinity War, I supposed it was the end of the character in the MCU. However, Endgame had the Avengers traveling back in their own timeline and allowing a variant Loki to be created, one who shunted away with the use of the Cosmic Cube. This Disney+ series is where we find out where he went and what became of him.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 6

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 6 (Disney+)
Written by Malcolm Spellman & Josef Sawyer
Directed by Kari Skogland

So the second MCU mini-series on Disney+ has come to an end, and I was severely underwhelmed by this one. If you have been following my reviews here, you already know I have had significant problems with the show on character & thematic level. All of my dislikes sort of came together in this disappointing final episode which goes back to well-tread moral territory that Marvel has trafficked in since they became filmmakers. There is the illusion that progress is being made, but any rudimentary look at what actually happens in this episode affirms that nothing has really changed.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 5 (2021)
Written by Dalan Musson
Directed by Kari Skogland

This episode was a bit of an improvement from the last couple, but the show is still far from being as good as it could be. One of the most glaring problems with the mini-series is how bloated the narrative has become with characters. In this one episode, we have scenes with Sam, Bucky, Isaiah Bradley, his grandson Elijah, John Walker, John Walker’s wife, Lamar’s family, Sam’s sister, and his nephews, Zemo, the Dora Milaje, Joaquin Torres, Batroc, Sharon Carter, Karli Morgenthau & the Flag Smashers. Plus, they introduce a new character, the Contessa de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). The Zemo narrative appears to be over as he’s taken into Wakandan custody, but I just don’t see a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to all these arcs next episode.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 4 (Disney+)
Written by Derek Kolstad
Directed by Kari Skogland

With only two episodes left in this mini-series, it has gotten to the point where the story feels utterly bloated with characters and subplots that can’t possibly be resolved by the end. WandaVision had a tight focus on a single storyline; here, we have too many characters with a too complicated web of relationships. If this was a whole television season and characters were given spotlights, it could work. However, we’re getting established characters written to fit the plot (Sam Wilson), other characters having their arcs rushed (Zemo), and a bunch of other people not given room to breathe and showcase who they are in this narrative.

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 3 (Disney+)
Written by Derek Kolstad
Directed by Kari Skogland

I overwhelmingly disliked this third entry of the series for a multitude of reasons and I’ve been reflecting on some of the race issues brought up by the first two episodes. We’ve reached the halfway point in The Falcon and Winter Soldier, so now we have an idea of what this is shaping into and I have to say it is not looking great. This episode especially felt like a mess in every possible aspect from dialogue to characterization to the plot. 

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Soldier

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 2 (Disney+)
Written by Michael Kastelstein
Directed by Kari Skogland

It should be literally impossible to discuss a piece of Captain America media without the conversation becoming political. This is something that’s annoyed me about the candy-consumption of so much fandom is that they want their entertainment divorced entirely from a discussion about current events and the state of the world. That might work to an extent with Guardians of the Galaxy or the Silver Surfer, but when the characters are very much tied to the government and foreign policy, you cannot avoid it. The fundamental nature of Captain America is a product of World War II-era jingoism. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been used to tell nuanced stories that make critiques of the United States, but we are simply not going to ever get something like that from Marvel. Marvel has repeatedly partnered with the American military-industrial complex to help mythologize “the soldier” in popular culture. In Black Panther, they couldn’t let Wakanda be autonomous; they had to inject a CIA agent in as one of the good guys. So it is literally impossible to talk about this Disney+ series without getting political.

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TV Review – The Best of Seinfeld Part 4

The Invitations (Season 7, Episode 24)
Original airdate: May 16, 1996
Written by Larry David
Directed by Andy Ackerman

The four main characters of Seinfeld are not meant to be aspirational figures. They are almost warnings about how not to behave in society. Few episodes highlight that aspect as strongly as the finale of season seven. It’s not their ugliest moment, but it is capped off by the coldest reaction we have ever seen them have. This moment underscores how Seinfeld was not like other family-friendly sitcoms and emphasized Larry David’s edict of “no hugging, no learning.”

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TV Review – Servant Season 2

Servant Season 2 (Apple TV+)
Written by Tony Basgallop, Nina Braddock, and Ishana Night Shyamalan
Directed by Julia Ducournau, Ishana Night Shyamalan, M. Night Shyamalan, Lisa Brühlmann, Isabella Eklöf, and Nimród Antal

Servant is a show that confounds me at times. Its premise is an intriguing one: a married couple hires a nanny to care for a reborn doll and find that their child is suddenly restored to life. Just in that one sentence, we can explore grief, relationships under stress, what it means to be alive, and a big supernatural hook to boot. Yet, I always engage with the show having some hesitation because of M. Night Shyamalan’s involvement. I have a complicated history with the director’s body of work because I started out loving what he was doing only to watch him go off the rails most spectacularly. He’s not the main creative force behind Servant, that would be Tony Basgallop, but there is an evident influence from Shyamalan in the aesthetics and plot beats of each episode. 

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TV Review – The Falcon and Winter Solider Episode 1

The Falcon and Winter Soldier Episode 1 (Disney+)
Written by Malcolm Spellman
Directed by Kari Skogland

Wandavision set the bar for Marvel series on Disney+ and we are getting our look at the next one fairly quickly. The Falcon and Winter Soldier directly continues events from Avengers: Endgame, mainly the passing of the torch from Steve Rogers to Sam Wilson. With a Captain America story, the expectations are going to be very different from something like Wandavision. One episode in and it appears the showrunners know the tone and type of story that works best with these characters so we’ll see where things go.

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