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Silicon Valley Recap Season 4, Episode 2, "Terms of Service"

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Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 2, "Terms of Service"

John P. Johnson

Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 2, "Terms of Service"

In tonight's episode of Silicon Valley, Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) takes about a minute to transition from underdog to overlord as PiperChat's new CEO, getting high on his own hot air. But it only takes him another minute to come back to earth, in a crash landing so humiliating and terrifying it even satisfies the perpetually disgruntled Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), whose rivalry with Dinesh is so deep he'd rather see Dinesh fail than see his own company succeed.

American Gods Recap Season 1, Episode 1, "The Bone Orchard"

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American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, "The Bone Orchard"

Starz

American Gods Recap: Season 1, Episode 1, "The Bone Orchard"

While reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods, I was often stopped in the street by people who saw it in my hands and wanted to have an impromptu pow-wow about its greatness. I often have a book in my hands, and I've never before encountered such reactions, which I enjoyed more than the novel. Gaiman's narrative is imaginatively conceived, but it's composed of hundreds of pages of exposition preceding a battle that never commences. Gaiman tells a long shaggy-dog joke, in which humankind's various gods across the ages are revealed to be as gullible as their worshipers, subject to the manipulations of a rigged society that distracts us from our subservience with a trumped war between cultural factions that serve the same leader. It's quite resonant politically, but the novel is all theme. There's barely a plot, the characters are ciphers, and Gaiman's prose is lean and studiously workmanlike. The notion of gods as scared and foolish projections of their scared and foolish creators (for we are their gods) is poignant though, and it's this idea that's ostensibly captured readers' imaginations.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 3, "Thin Ice"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 3, "Thin Ice"

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 3, "Thin Ice"

With “Thin Ice,” writer Sarah Dollard follows up last season's “Face the Raven” with another successful episode whose central focus is the relationship between the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion—in this case, Bill (Pearl Mackie). As we saw at the end of last week's episode, they've arrived at the end of the last London frost fair in 1814. This event had been mentioned in passing in 2011's “A Good Man Goes to War,” where River Song said the Doctor had taken her there as a birthday present. There's no hint of any timestream-crossing plotting here though: This episode sticks to the more straightforward storytelling style that's characterized this season so far.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 6, "Snatch Game"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 6, "Snatch Game"

VH1/Logo

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 6, "Snatch Game"

Challenges come and challenges go, but the Snatch Game is eternal for a reason. From season to season of RuPaul's Drag Race, it has the power to confirm frontrunners, establish dark horses, expose one-trick ponies, and torpedo look-dependent queens' hopes. And it's not only a fan favorite, it's every contestant's favorite too. It's the mirror image of the dreaded sewing challenge, in that the ones who know they can't sew dread that challenge's arrival and hope they can fake their way through it. No one dreads the Snatch Game because no one thinks the ability to make RuPaul laugh is a particularly difficult skill. She brings it to you every bump into or out of a commercial break! Like Alfred Hitchcock's bomb theory, the difference between the sewing challenge and Snatch Game is the difference between queens who see the oncoming train wreck and queens who get utterly blindsided.

The Americans Recap Season 5, Episode 8, "Immersion"

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 8, "Immersion"

Jeffrey Neira/FX

The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 8, "Immersion"

Another week, another episode of The Americans that's notable for its pervasive lack of hurry. Philip (Matthew Rhys) slowly drives home from his meeting with Gabriel, the camera hanging back to give us one of the widest-ever views to date of the exterior of the Jennings home, and fills Elizabeth (Keri Russell) in about their now-former handler's thoughts on Renee and Paige (Holly Taylor). They speak of Gabriel almost as if he's a ghost, and with an understanding that they will one day become every bit as haunted as he was when he walked out of the safe house for what was probably the last time. Unsurprisingly, then, they put up walls when they go to meet Claudia (Margo Martindale) and discuss their latest plan of attack, because to stave off a human connection with their new handler is to stand back from that precipice of moral oblivion they've been inching toward for so long.

Silicon Valley Recap Season 4, Episode 1, "Success Failure"

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Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 1, "Success Failure"

John P. Johnson

Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 1, "Success Failure"

Richard (Thomas Middleditch) bumbles his way to an unlikely victory at the start of the season premiere of Silicon Valley, posing as an Uber driver in the latest chapter of Pied Piper's comically inept struggle to survive. The nerdily awkward pitch Richard initiates to the venture capitalist in his back seat, video-conferencing with the rest of the Pied Piper team to show off the unexpectedly popular platform they've created more or less by accident, doubles as a reunion for the show's viewers, bringing the main characters together in all their dysfunctional glory.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

“Smile” is the second Doctor Who episode from screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce. It's a distinct improvement over the misfire of 2014's “In the Forest of the Night,” which made the mistake of reducing the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to a passive bystander, with no role to play in the resolution of that episode's crisis. Here, the Doctor and Bill (Pearl Mackie) are at the center of the action throughout, and there's a feeling of accomplishment for them at the end that was missing from “In the Forest of the Night.” Even so, there are points where the logic of the plot is rather strained, with a final ethical quandary that comes out of nowhere.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"
RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

“This is RuPaul's best friend race!” exclaims Alexis Michelle as three or four other RuPaul's Drag Race contestants kiss and make up in the workroom. What happens when queens all get along? Producers manufacture drama, silly. And, even for a show that wears its fabrications and intentionality on its rhinestoned sleeve, the machinations start to seem just a touch mannered. Following a series of episodes that effortlessly drew personality (or lack thereof) from a cast that seems more look-oriented than personality-dependent, the fifth episode of the show's ninth season is a marked regression. And not only because I now, after all these blessed years, am forced to finally write the names of all the Kardashians, a situation for which it will take me some time to forgive Mama Ru.

The Americans Recap Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

Eric Liebowitz/FX

The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

Directed by Matthew Rhys, this week's episode of The Americans, “The Committee on Human Rights,” begins exactly where “Crossbreed” left off. But let me begin at the end, specifically with that haunting image of Gabriel (Frank Langella) and Philip (Rhys) seated across from one another inside the former's apartment. Throughout this evocatively staged sequence that serves as a tribute to Gabriel's work throughout the years in trying to keep Philip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) well informed and grounded, my eye kept gravitating to a patch of white unpainted wall near Gabriel's head. And my mind went to Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse, a film in which people leave behind splotchy black stains—redolent of the blast shadows of Hiroshima victims—on walls when they die, or simply go missing. That blackness is a symbol of all that's inexplicable about our lives, just as the swath of unpainted wall here represents the one thing that Gabriel doesn't come clean about throughout a profound unloading of his conscience: that he kept Mischa away from Philip.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 1, "The Pilot"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 1, "The Pilot"

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 1, "The Pilot"

Showrunner Steven Moffat kicks off the latest season of Doctor Who with an episode ironically named “The Pilot.” The title has a double meaning: It's a perfectly reasonable, albeit bland, label for the particular adventure that the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his friends go through here, but it also serves to emphasize that this is indeed a pilot episode, a relaunch for the series to a greater extent than any season opener since “Rose” began the modern era of Doctor Who in 2005. In place of the complex arc plotting and time-travel trickery characteristic of much of his previous work, Moffat presents a deliberately new viewer-friendly story that, as with “Rose,” follows the point of view of a fresh companion, Billie “Bill” Potts (Pearl Mackie), as she finds herself drawn into the weird world of the Doctor.