Sunday Best- Week of August 6-12

Introducing “Sunday Best” — a weekly column that will discuss the best episodes of the week. 

1. Game of Thrones, “The Spoils of War”

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This can’t always be said, but Game of Thrones has been really solid this season. Despite some minor pacing issues — that just comes with the baggage of a shortened season and the endpoint on the horizon — these first four episodes have worked really well so far, but none so much as its most recent, “The Spoils of War.”

What works most often about Game of Thrones, but not necessarily something that people point to most often when discussing the series in a water-cooler fashion, is the smaller, more intimate character moments that run throughout. This episode had that in spades — whether it’s Jon and Dany discussing the logistics of a possible alliance; Team Targaryen, plus Jon and Davos, debating their next strategic move in battle; or various reunions among Stark children — while still having that other thing that fans of the series talk most animatedly about: an epic battle at the end featuring Dothraki, Lannisters, and a Dany-ridden-Dragon.

Read my full review at Tell Tale TV.

Game of Thrones is currently airing its seventh season on HBO. 

2. Rick and Morty, “Pickle Rick”

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Rick and Morty, practically since its inception, has been a show that structures itself in such a way that tackles genre tropes and familiar story beats in, quite frankly, insane ways while still often managing a sense of emotional profundity.

Very rarely has this been achieved in the series more thoroughly and, well, destructively than in “Pickle Rick.”

What starts as an episode where Rick, the ostensible mad scientist, turns himself into a pickle essentially to get himself out of family therapy. What follows is a madcap dose of insanity following Rick’s wacky descent into the sewer where he kills a cockroaches and controls its dead body through the exposed brain with his tongue (Yes. No, seriously) and subsequently kills a rat and creates a rat-suit. (Again, completely serious) He then makes his way into a toilet, which just so happens to be in a Russian black-site. A very bloody Die Hard homage takes place.

Finally, Rick makes it to the therapist’s office to get the serum from his family and the monologues that are exchanged between Rick and the therapist have such a pang and heft to them that it’s all the more devastating that they have absolutely no impact on Rick or his daughter.

Genuine slow-clap for Rick and Morty, guys. Well done.

Rick and Morty is currently airing its third season on Adult Swim.

3. Wynonna Earp, “I See a Darkness”

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As previously discussed, Wynonna Earp has been killing it all season. From multiple demon possessions to Wynonna being pregnant, the SYFY series has been throwing a lot of genre deconstruction at the wall and so much of it has been sticking.

Now, with this week’s episode “I See a Darkness,” we get an episode that is firmly rooted in the emotional connection that we have for Nicole and our investment in the relationship between her and Waverly. It’s the best kind of ticking time episode in that what’s anchoring us through the scenes is the character emotion and not the plot itself. We want Nicole to be okay and to live on and not become another example of Bury Your Gays, which the show has promised us will never happen, but this is television so who knows what will happen.

If other shows want tension in character survival, they should take notes from “I See a Darkness.”

Wynonna Earp is currently airing its second season on SYFY.

 

5 of the Best Episodes from July 2017

Every month brings a collection of great television to add to the lexicon. This a non-exhaustive list of some of those episodes.

1. Adventure Time, “Abstract”

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The ever wonderful Adventure Time returned with a quick Adventure Bomb and it was delightful throughout.

The Standout, and most emotionally potent, was “Abstract,” which dealt with Jake’s (voiced by John DiMaggio) abrupt change in appearance from small and yellow to large, blue, and now has five eyes.

It was all deeply unsettling on an aesthetic level but, in typical Adventure Time fashion, took this as an opportunity to explore the ways in which we ought to respond to the changes that we see in our old friends.

Watch it on Cartoon Network.

2. Wynonna Earp, “She Ain’t Right”

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While the second season of Wynonna Earp has been exceptionally solid, its best episode so has been “She Ain’t Right,” which — I know — was in June, but just barely and I make the rules here.

The way in which this season has explored Waverly’s (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) demonic possession and the amount of ridiculous fun and winking that resulted has been a joy. Plus, Chalkley displaying all of her singing chops was a real treat.

Watch it on SYFY on Fridays at 10/9c.

3. Rick and Morty, “Rickmancing the Stone”

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Rick and Morty is the type of show that you feel you have to watch it at least twice to get all of the jokes and references that are thrown about willy nilly. “Rickmancing the Stone” was no different.

Doing a fantastic riff on Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic films of it ilk, it mined great comedic moments while still working at something emotional at its core.

Watch it on Adult Swim.

4. Danger and Eggs, “The Trio”

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Anything that I could possibly say about “The Trio” has already been said by Kristy Puchko at Pajiba much better than I ever could so I would encourage you to just read that. What I will say, however, is that the subtle politics of this episode is ever-so-important and will be viewed as such with enough time. It is truly exceptional, as is the rest of the series.

Watch the complete first season on Amazon.

5. The Bold Type

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Picking just one episode of The Bold Type feels cruel and something I refuse to put myself through when the entire series so far — and this is helped from all of the episodes airing in July — has been quite excellent.

Serving as an exploration of modern-day feminism, female friendships, and the emergence of political activism in female-centric magazines — a la Teen Vogue’s recent coverage — the best thing you can say about the series is how well it moves. It’s the type of show that the forty-odd minute runtime has come and gone and it feels like you’ve only watched ten minutes. That is a feat in-and-of itself.

The point is: go watch The Bold Type.

Watch it on Freeform and Hulu.