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The Second Coming (#110 of 3)

The Americans Recap Season 3, Episode 11, "One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov"

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The Americans Recap: Season 3, Episode 11, “One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov”

FX

The Americans Recap: Season 3, Episode 11, “One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov”

“Inducement.” That’s how the titular stealth technology expert (Michael Aronov) of “One Day in the Life of Anton Baklanov” describes the series of sex workers provided by his Soviet captors to new confidante Nina (Annet Mahendru), in a moment shaded by shame. It’s an apt term for the lures set out in tonight’s episode of The Americans, a subdued affair that suggests the calm before the storm. As the season enters the home stretch, “One Day in the Life” prepares the characters to reel in the big fish they’ve been tracking lately, yet never quite assuages the niggling feeling that these efforts will become a tangled mess.

The Leftovers Recap Season 1, Episode 8, "Cairo"

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The Leftovers Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Cairo”

HBO

The Leftovers Recap: Season 1, Episode 8, “Cairo”

“Cairo” begins with a song, climaxes with a poem, and concludes with a whisper, but it’s what each of these leaves unspoken that captures the testy relationship between faith and doubt at the heart of The Leftovers. As the opening montage augurs the coming collision between Patti Levin (Ann Dowd) and Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux), suturing her arrangements for the Guilty Remnant’s next radical act to his preparations for dinner, the music we hear is excerpted from “I’ve Been ’Buked and I’ve Been Scorned,” an African-American spiritual. Left out when Patti closes the church door, however, are the lyrics that traditionally come next: “Ain’t goin’ to lay my ’ligion down,” the hymn resolves, “no, Lord.” “Cairo” is a dark night of the soul, but the power of conviction is omnipresent at its margins.

The Sopranos Recap: Season 6, Episode 19, “The Second Coming”

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<em>The Sopranos</em> Recap: Season 6, Episode 19, “The Second Coming”
<em>The Sopranos</em> Recap: Season 6, Episode 19, “The Second Coming”

After last week’s Sopranos episode, “Kennedy and Heidi,” viewer discussion centered on Tony’s climactic, “I get it!”, bellowed twice to the sun on a desert ridge during a peyote trip. People wondered what, exactly, did Tony “get”? Was it the fact that his thieving, whoring, murderous life was the number one contributing factor to his unhappiness—the fuel that kept his inherited tendency toward depression burning like an oil well fire? Or, as my friend Alan Sepinwall suggested, did Tony “get” the fact that ethics, religion and every other means of judging behavior was an abstraction that has no weight beyond what you choose to give it? The first realization might have led Tony to confess his sins to Melfi—this mostly non-religious gangster tale’s closest equivalent to clergy—and maybe end up in witness protection, selling out Da Family as an alternative to destroying what’s left of his soul. The second realization could have pushed Tony—who spent much of “Kennedy and Heidi” denying his guilt over murdering his surrogate son, the potential rat Christopher—to finally embrace his inner monster, give Dr. Melfi the heave-ho and start whacking people without misgivings.