âDyadâs a hydra,â Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) says in the closing minutes of âTo Hound Nature in Her Wanderings,â referring to the Instituteâs secretive, multipronged structure. The poisonous, many-headed serpent of Greek mythology is a similarly useful metaphor for the episode, which seems to sprout two new twists for each one it threatens to resolve. The episode is either a hideous plot dump or a heady brew of unexpected juxtapositions, and sometimes both at once, forging strange new alliances from the fragments of the seasonâs first half: between Helena (Tatiana Maslany) and Grace (Zoe De GrandâMaison), Mrs. S and Paul (Dylan Bruce), Art (Kevin Hanchard) and Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Angie (Inga Cadranel) and Vic (Michael Mando).
Structurally, the musical-chairs routine proves impossible to sustain. The cutting-room switchbacks required to hold the tune for nineâor is it 10?ânarrative threads foil any chance at building momentum, and this in the absence of Cal (Michiel Huisman), Kira (Skyler Wexler), Rachel, and Leekie (Matt Frewer). Like Felix at his canvas, âTo Hound Nature in Her Wanderingsâ appears almost punch-drunk, throwing around the material with vigor, but producing little more than a muddle.
That said, the episodeâs recipeâtoss characters together, blend on âhigh,â serve as a shooterâdeserves credit for daring, and the successful elements are joyously demented. For instance, as Sarah digs into the archives of Cold River, a Project LEDA progenitor, Helena enjoys her own share of shooters at what may be fictional North Americaâs busiest day-drinking destination. In the course of an afternoon, she rebuffs one man; arm wrestles, dances with, and kisses another; and kicks a barroomâs worth of creepy misogynist asses, all while Paul and Mark (Ari Millen), the Prolethean minion, shoot the shit about clone surveillance. Happy Hour, anyone?
If Alison were here, Iâm sure sheâd raise her hand, but instead sheâs trapped in rehab at New Path with Buddhist Vic, to whom she admits sheâs âa bottle hiderâ unhappy about being in group therapy with âa bunch of drunk losers.â None of their exchanges quite manage the humor that the tempo of the writing, leaving a slight pause after each ostensible laugh line, would seem to expect. In fact, the entire Alison subplot has been lost in the wilderness since her stage career came to its ignominious end, and surrounding her with cold-fish characters like Vic and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) only washes out Maslanyâs comic charm.
I havenât even gotten to Art and Felix shuffling through evidence from Maggie Chenâs storage unit of horrors, or Mrs. S offering assistance and a thermos of tea to Paul, or Cosima beginning the first phase of her stem-cell treatment, or Grace promising Helenaâoh, to hell with it, I give up. If thereâs method to this madness, it remains obscure, and the construction of âTo Hound Nature in Her Wanderingsâ itself evinces an understanding that few of these developments matter, at least not yet. Despite trying to pack in more plot than can reasonably be expected to fit, the writers devote a substantial proportion of this hour of Orphan Black to two extended interludes, as though to say, âHey! Look! You can pay attention now!â
Of the pair, the meeting between Sarah and âSwan Manâ/Duncan/Peckham offers prose rather than poetry, with his stilted scientific chatter reflected in editing that chops up the conversation and sprinkles it through the episodeâs final third. Duncan, holed up with Mrs. S in a hoarderâs hotel of birds and newspapers and emotional damage, seems at once hopeful of reconciliation and resigned to sin. Indeed, having long since turned against Leekie, who murdered his wife and trained his daughter, Rachel, in her icy ways, whatâs striking about Duncan is the tension he conjures between the quest for truth and the paying of consequences. Heâs seduced by the power of knowledge and fallen in his proverbial bite of the apple, yet in seeking forgiveness, he offers only justification.
The other key sequence, in the episodeâs opening minutes, is uncharacteristically tender, and I wasnât sure it worked until I saw Duncan wringing his hands over a history of misdeeds. In search of Cold River, âthe place of screams,â Helena and Sarah continue to build the rapport first displayed in âIpsa Scientia Potestas Est.â Helena makes a shadow puppet on the wall of their tent and belts out a darling rendition of the Archiesâ âSugar, Sugarâ in the car, while Sarah responds with the grudging sweetness of an elder sibling. As the women trade kind words in the tent, their faces framed half in shadow, half in light, and as the camera captures them from above, splayed out on sleeping pads with Sarahâs head near Helenaâs feet and vice versa, the images convey their shared history of terrible mistakes and ultimate goodness. Sarah and Helena are, Orphan Black makes clear, nothing if not products of circumstance.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of âTo Hound Nature in Her Wanderingâ is the failure to follow these images to their logical conclusion, the lack of trust in Orphan Blackâs rich thematic core as an anchor for the narrative rather than the embroidery on its edges. Weâve known since âGoverned by Sound Reason and True Religionâ that Helena mirrors Sarahââa yin and yang kind of thing,â as Henrik Johanssen (Peter Outerbridge) says. What âTo Hound Nature in Her Wanderingâ expresses, in the moments it cares to express anything at all, is the notion that yin and yang lie within each of us, and that the totalizing forces of science and religion endanger this humane balance with doctrinal certitude. âOnce youâve gone too far,â as Duncan says, âitâs hard not to go all the way.â
For more Orphan Black recaps, click here.
Review: Season 3 of The Crown Makes Progress Look and Feel Wearisome
The series homes in on the growing chasm between royal expectations and public norms.2.5
Season three of The Crown lacks the urgency that previously made the Netflix series so engaging. This is partly due to the more subdued relationships between the older members of the House of Windsor, now settled into their various roles as sovereign, husband, sister, and wife. Only a few years have passed between seasons, but Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman), her husband Philip (Tobias Menzies), and sister Margaret (Helena Bonham Carter) have accumulated a deep weariness that can be enervating to behold.
This season, the countercultural politics of the Swinging Sixties nurtures a new sense of awareness around the myriad hypocrisies and criticisms of aristocratic life. The series homes in on both economic inequality and the growing chasm between royal expectations and public norms, with the British crownâs traditional nonpartisan position becoming increasingly detrimental to its image. The antiestablishment spirit of the time seeps into Buckingham Palace via the small rebellions of Princess Anne (Erin Doherty), now a miniskirt-wearing, David Bowie-loving young woman. And itâs through her that the monarchy makes small but significant steps toward changing its perception as an outdated institution.
The Crownâs first two seasons tapped into the allure of a world insistent on formality. The â60s, though, bring a new set of societal challenges that redefine the relationship between the Windsors and their American counterparts, especially in the episode âMargaretology,â in which Margaret takes a tour of the States. Her spontaneity and charismaâthe very qualities that make her a liability to the monarchyâs rarefied imageâhelp Elizabeth to win over President Johnson (Clancy Brown), who dreads the codified etiquette that dictates their countriesâ âspecial relationship.â Johnson doesnât care about exclusive invitations to Balmoral Castle; heâs happy with dirty jokes and drinking contests that fly in the face of royal protocol.
The crownâs relationship to the British people is also changing, as highlighted in âBubbikins,â which chronicles the impact of the infamous 1969 BBC documentary Royal Family. One of Philipâs public relations projects is to make the Windsors seem more appealing to the masses, but in his vanity, he fails to understand the importance of mystery and ritual to their public image. Royalty is the ultimate spectacle, and The Crown valiantly attempts to illuminate the psychological and emotional toll it takes on those who have little control over their lives. But itâs more than a little difficult to feel sympathy for the royals when the prince consort is seen trying to explain why the queen deserves more taxpayer money.
Despite Philipâs efforts to sweeten their image, the Windsorsâ most likeable member is as un-royal as it gets: his mother. At turns fragile and fearless, Princess Alice (Jane Lapotaire) is a welcome mid-season addition, providing a much-needed contrast to her son, whoâs still itching to find meaning in his life. Where Alice is selfless and warm, Philip is consumed by the need to micro-manage everything around him. As the younger Philip in the showâs first two seasons, Matt Smith was palpably angsty, but in Menziesâs hands, the neurotic prince is drawn ever inward. And a highlight of the new season is an entire episode concerned with his midlife crisis. Set during the events of the 1969 moon landing, âMoondustâ is a sensitive exploration of masculine insecurities, and in no small part for the way Menzies calls upon reserves of pathos to chart his characterâs miserable descent into self-pity and spite.
The most prominent thread running through The Crownâs third season is the dualities in peopleâs lives. Itâs in the juxtaposition of the royalsâ public and private selves, the ever-present chasm between aristocratic and common society, or the much more personal struggle of characters reconciling individual desires and duties. Thereâs plenty of fertile ground to explore this dynamic, as almost every character is in a state of conflict, from Elizabeth, who struggles to show genuine humanity to her people, to Prince Charles (Josh OâConnor), who reckons with his destiny as the future king. Within their rigid world, the royals pursue their desires in their own little waysâCharles with his love of the performing arts, Elizabeth with her beloved racehorses at Sandringham, Anne with a casual fling that surprises her family.
Toward the end of the season, even Margaret has a fleeting taste of happiness outside of the public eye, before getting sucked back into the vortex of her unhappy marriage. Itâs impossible for the Windsors to fully escape the demands of the crown; several extended family scenes see even the most individualistic characters obediently falling in line. Elizabeth is ultimately the only character who digests and accepts this reality without much drama. Colman brings a hard-won confidence to the queen, who weathers changes and hard decisions with the mettle of a ruler who recognizes the importance of self-reliance and stability.
The title of the seasonâs first episode, âOlding,â is a play on Elizabethâs age (and the code name of a K.G.B. spy), setting the tone for the queenâs private musings on the trajectory of her reign. The episode is an exploration of appearances and what they conceal, with a number of pieces of fine art and literary metaphors hammering that point home. During a pivotal moment in the season premiere, the Surveyor of the Queenâs Pictures, Anthony Blunt (Samuel West), gives an overblown lecture about the layers of deceit and multiple meanings lurking within Renaissance artâand the moment is followed by a longwinded scene that overcomplicates an otherwise simple allegory about hidden identities and trust.
The Crown presents a network of relationships that are more meaningfully connected by ringing telephones, newspaper headlines, letters, and electric buzzers than face-to-face communication. The showâs royal family is âalone together,â settled in their identities and the demands of their station. Philip only reconciles with his mother after reading an article about her in the papers, and one of the seasonâs most heartening scenes depicts Alice and Philip walking arm-in-arm together in the gardens of Buckingham Palace. Young Elizabeth once confronted Philip about what he does and where he goes, but sheâs since risen above these small concerns. Given the queenâs inability to show her feelings, itâs fitting that the season closes on a note of solitude and isolation. In her own words, âOne just has to get on with it.â
Cast: Olivia Colman, Tobias Menzies, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Watkins, Ben Daniels, Marion Bailey, Josh OâConnor, Charles Dance, Jane Lapotaire, Erin Doherty, Emerald Fennell, Gillian Anderson Network: Netflix
Review: For All Mankind Prioritizes Cynical Alternate History Over Character
The series suffocates its promising characters with the tedium of backroom politics.2
According to For All Mankind, if the Soviet Union had landed humans on the moon before the United States did, the space race would have continued at full speed, escalating from moon landings to the building of lunar bases to cosmic subterfuge. But the Apple TV+ series, created and written by Ronald D. Moore (of Battlestar Galactica and Outlander fame), Matt Wolpert, and Ben Nedivi, sluggishly leads to little of interest. For All Mankind prioritizes its alternate historyâs tedious political maneuvering over its characters, suffocating their development and deflating emotional payoffs.
Navy veteran and astronaut Edward Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) is the primary focus of the series. In an early scene, set in 1969, heâs sitting in a bar in Houston, watching on TV as a Russian cosmonaut steps on the moon. Ed was on Apollo 10, a trial run for Apollo 11, which in the showâs alternate history is a footnote in the space race. Now, he and crewmate Gordo Stevens (Michael Dorman) strive to get back to space and break new ground.
Most of the showâs supporting characters come and go as if at random. For one, steely astronaut Molly Cobb (Sonya Walger) and her endearing hippy husband, Wayne (Lenny Jacobson) become central figures and then inexplicably, and disappointingly, disappear. Often, characters exist less to provide a human perspective on the space race than to represent issues, a problem thatâs more acute when it comes to the showâs women. Some of themâlike astronaut Danielle Pool (Krys Marshall) and Tracy Stevens (Sarah Jones), Gordoâs wifeâpropel more substantial narratives whose social commentary informs, rather than supplants, their personhood. But others, such as engineer Margo Madison (Wrenn Schmidt) and Edâs wife, Karen (Shantel VanSanten), are merely stand-ins for forces and experiences like sexism in the workplace and the trials that servicepeoplesâ families endure.
After the Soviets land a woman on the moon, President Nixonâwhoâs depicted via archival footage overlaid with recordings, both authentic and fabricatedâwants to do the same, which sets up an episode about the training of female astronauts. When the Soviets are expected to establish a military presence on the moon, Nixon and the Pentagon move to ramp up their own, which cues an arc about the creation of a lunar base. Throughout For All Mankind, NASA higher-ups, beholden to the president, ceaselessly relay his demands to Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton (Chris Bauer) and Flight Director Gene Kranz (Eric Ladin) over in mission control, but all their exhaustingly repetitive policy debates siphon attention away from the human beings whose lives they shape.
As For All Mankind proceeds, however, it shifts its focus from broad political mandates to the specificities of its characters. One episode that centers around three astronauts penned up in a claustrophobic lunar base is among the showâs most evocative. The astronauts spend nearly half a year sleeping in cramped bunks, pickaxing moon rocks, and eating goo. When they intently and gravely tinker with an off-screen item, the stakes feel life-or-death, but a cut to the subject of their concern reveals a damaged VHS tape, one of their six episodes of The Bob Newhart Show. The crew watches the episodes on repeat, eventually reenacting one in a welcome act of catharsis. But later, when an astronaut feverishly acts out all three parts in a scene from the Newhart series, we see how much these people have given up, how profoundly it can hurt to be so far away from home.
One of the showâs notable revisions of the historical record is its portrayal of Ted Kennedy having succeeded Nixon as president, along with the formerâs triumphant push to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Kennedy initially wants to bring the moon-marooned astronauts homeâa relief crew is repeatedly delayed from replacing themâbut he ultimately tolerates their stranding because the lunar outpost distracts the nation from his ongoing sex scandal. These and other dynamics fuel the showâs deeply cynical framing of the space race not as a struggle for key geopolitical advantage or a fight for national principles, but as a conflict as fruitless and myopic as a dogâs quest to catch its own tail.
Cynicism suffuses the series both subtly, with its framing of NASA as a pawn of the
presidentâs administration, and overtly, with Wernher von Braun (Colm Feore), the German aerospace engineer who designed the Saturn V, saying that âevery political system is flawed, and every bureaucracy is corrupt.â Soviet points of view are almost entirely absent from the series, but the American cronies on hand justify his mistrust.
Such disenchantment occasionally generates intriguing reflections on imperialism, discrimination, PTSD, and more. It also renders the earnestness of a side plot about a young girl, Aleida Rosales (Olivia Trujillo), and her father, Octavio (Arturo Del Puerto), jarring in contrast. The pair immigrates to the U.S. from Mexico, and Aleida develops a fascination with rockets and space, as well as formidable skills in math. Sheâs poised to become an engineer, maybe even an astronaut, one day. The suggestion, here, is that the American dream is alive and well. But it seems that Aleida will have to leave Earth to find it.
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Michael Dorman, Shantel VanSanten, Chris Bauer, Sarah Jones, Colm Feore, Wrenn Schmidt, Sonya Walger, Krys Marshall, Jodi Balfour, Nate Corddry, Eric Ladin, Rebecca Wisocky, Arturo Del Puerto, Olivia Trujillo, Lenny Jacobson, Dan Donohue, Wallace Langham Network: Apple TV+
Review: Apple TVâs See Feels Startlingly Uncommitted to Its Bonkers Concept
The series struggles to sensibly lay out the particulars of its post-apocalyptic feudalism.1
Apple TVâs post-apocalyptic drama See will undoubtedly be sold on the credentials of those involved, from director Francis Lawrence to star Jason Momoa to writer-creator Steven Knight. Knight is best known for TV dramas like Peaky Blinders and Taboo, but his most relevant credit is one that will certainly go unmentioned in trailers and other marketing materials for the series: the stupefying, bonkers Matthew McConaughey fishing-centered noir Serenity, as See suffers from a similarly bizarre, overreaching concept.
In Seeâs vision of the future, only a couple million people are still alive, almost all of them blind. Society has, for some reason, gone feudal, with everyone decked out in furs and living in huts and broken up into different tribes. They call the sun the âgod flame,â and, at the behest of tyrannical Queen Kane (Sylvia Hoeks), they burn heretics who espouse the mostly forgotten idea of vision. The three-months pregnant Maghra (Hera Hilmar) is taken in by a remote community headed by Baba Voss (Momoa), who marries her. When she gives birth, itâs to twins who can see just fine. This, of course, being heresy, Baba Voss and the rest of the village flee from Kaneâs witchfinders, building a new home in a remote location to keep the children safe.
The showâs opening credits display wispy yellow shadows of things like horses and spiders to suggest recognition even through blindness. Beyond that, though, See feels startlingly uncommitted to its gimmick of a blind world. The series is filmed in bog-standard fantasy style, all wide vistas, expansive greenery, and ominous smoke in the distance with seemingly no concession for how its charactersâ perception of the world might differ from the audienceâs. Thereâs a near-total absence of subjective camera work here, a sense of how the characters might have to rely on touch, sound, or smell to navigate. Barring a personâs occasional stumble to find their footing or moving a hand along a guiding rope tied across the top of the village, everything unfolds so expectedly that itâs easy to forget the showâs concept entirely.
Even with interminable amounts of exposition in the three episodes provided to press ahead of the showâs premiere, Knight struggles to sensibly lay out the particulars of this post-apocalyptic feudalism in terms of government, social hierarchies, and basic navigation between settlements. Everyone is incongruously well-groomed and color-coordinated, even going so far as to wear hoods when burning people at the stake despite no one being able to see their faces. Gory battle scenes include someone like Voss groping around for a handhold only to swing his blade to perfectly meet an enemyâs throat the very next moment.
See is at its most engaging when it allows itself to get truly silly and weird: A naked woman in white paint follows people unnoticed because sheâs said to purge herself of thought, and Queen Kane prays via masturbation, concluding each invocation in the throes of orgasm. But the majority of Knightâs series is a self-serious dirge, where sight-based wordplay like âSo they just walk around with their eyes closed?â is delivered with a straight face. In the end, Seeâs myriad absurdities somehow add up only to a run-of-the-mill dystopia, where the children are the âchosen onesâ and the tyrant must be overthrown.
Cast: Jason Momoa, Sylvia Hoeks, Hera Hilmar, Alfre Woodard, Christian Camargo, Archie Madekwe, Nesta Cooper, Yadira Guevara-Prip, Josh Blacker, Christian Sloan Network: Apple TV+
Review: The Morning Show Boldly Navigates the Nuances of the “Me Too” Era
The series is an uneasy, sometimes nauseating, and often fascinating examination of our current moment.3
In the third episode of The Morning Show, two disgraced men sit down after a spirited tennis match and chat over scotch and Chinese takeout. One, a film director of apparent renown (Martin Short), tells the otherâMitch Kessler (Steve Carell), a TV anchor recently accused of sexual misconduct and fired from his job co-hosting the nationâs most beloved morning showâthat he feels bad for people coming of age in the #MeToo era. âThereâs nothing sexy about consent,â he says. When Mitch responds with visual discomfort, the director revises his statement: âI guess what Iâm saying is, humanity happens in the unspoken moments.â
Mitch claims that his only sin was engaging in consensual âextracurricular sex.â But while the three episodes provided to press ahead of the showâs premiere donât confirm exactly what Mitch did or didnât do, and while he expresses genuine contempt for unequivocal predators, weâre granted hints of the unspoken moments he may have orchestrated. At one point, Mia Jordan (Karen Pittman), a producer on Mitchâs former show, enters Mitchâs abandoned dressing room and presses a button under his desk, which automatically closes the door.
Earlier, Mitch receives a surprise visit from Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston), his longtime co-host. Heâs been cooped up in his house, surrounded by reporters, for days. The two clearly adore each other, and when Alex starts to leave, Mitch begs her to stay. His pleas are unnervingly murky: They may be the innocent symptoms of his loneliness and isolation, or they could be glimpses of the tactics he uses to keep women where they donât want to be.
Alex is furious at Mitch for leaving her on her own, at executive producer Charlie Black (Mark Duplass) for keeping her in the dark about the allegations, and at the network itself for the bitter contract renegotiation itâs putting her through. The network is represented largely by Cory Ellison (Billy Crudup), an executive whoâs dismissive of hard news and devoted to entertainment. Heâs a delightfully odd highlight of the series, less traditional suit than android: unblinking, unreadable, and teetering on the edge of going haywire.
The rage that Aniston summons as Alex is beguiling. She slams her fists on conference tables and roars at her staff, achieving a catharsis thatâs at odds with the passive aggression that permeates The Morning Show. But when she interviews Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), a firebrand reporter from West Virginia whoâs gone viral thanks to a candid video of her passionately telling someone off at a protest, Alex demonstrates a subtler wrath; thinking that the viral video was part of a scheme for fame, she asks increasingly antagonistic questions. Bradley, though, stands her ground, and the electrically pointed but within-bounds exchange escalates like a polite knife fight. Bradleyâs resolution, verve, and popular appeal catch Coryâs eye, making her, unknowingly, a candidate to replace Mitch.
Bradley is predominantly limited to her outsider-nessâbeing a moderate conservative from a rural localeâand clichĂ©s about both-sides journalism that undercut her supposed radical streak. But Witherspoon infuses the character with scrappy charm and complexity, namely in Bradleyâs uncharacteristically tender interactions with her brother, a recovering drug addict. Mitch, meanwhile, is thoroughly ostracized. Carell delivers bursts of pathos that disconcertingly temper Mitchâs grotesque rants, but the series uses Mitch as too broad a stand-in for the fallen man. A conversation between him and Charlie feels as though itâs meant purely to squeeze in boilerplate talking points about âMcCarthyismâ and âthe court of public opinionâ (and to make the insufferable Charlie even less sympathetic).
In its introductory episodes, however, The Morning Show mostly avoids trite, glib, or otherwise thoughtless writing. The series takes on the risky goal of humanizing Mitchâalbeit inconclusively, for nowâand carefully navigates the minefield of its sensitive subject material. Propelled by its magnetic performances, the series is an uneasy, sometimes nauseating, and often fascinating examination of our still-unspooling current moment.
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carell, Billy Crudup, Mark Duplass, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nestor Carbonell, Karen Pittman, Desean Terry, Janina Gavankar, Bel Powley, Jack Davenport, Victoria Tate, Tom Irwin Network: Apple TV+
Review: Season 2 of Jack Ryan Leans Hard on Generic Action and Stale Plotting
The occasionally thrilling series relies on generic action cribbed from other, more distinct espionage fiction.1.5
Early in season two of Tom Clancyâs Jack Ryan, C.I.A. analyst Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) lectures a rapt audience of college students, defining for them the meaning of the term âfailed state,â and warning them of the looming threat of economic collapse in Venezuela. Ryan has an easy charisma, owing to the amiable presence of Krasinski, and he describes the South American nation in overly simplistic terms that fit the showâs polarized, good-versus-evil worldview: Its strongman president, Nicolas Reyes (Jordi Molla), is âan asshole,â and the country is destined for ruin. And so begins the new season, with the series in thrall to its title characterâand, by proxy, Americaâand concerned with its South American setting mostly as one more Banana Republic to be saved from itself.
Pitting moral opposites against one another for an occasionally thrilling eight episodes that place the fate of a nation in the balance, Jack Ryan harkens back to the anodyne action thrillers of the 1980s and â90s. Itâs also clearly influenced by the Reagan Doctrine of interventionism, which encouraged guerrilla wars against left-wing governments. The showâs paternalistic vision of Venezuela, like season oneâs notion of the Middle East, leans toward portraying the nation as one inherently incapable of self-managementâthus necessitating the help of Jack Ryan, a character who moves, frustratingly, into messianic territory here.
Ryan finds himself in Venezuela on a diplomatic mission to question Reyes regarding a mysterious shipment deep in the jungle, which is being guarded by notorious weapons traffickers. His earlier warnings about the country are quickly justified, as heâs ambushed by a mysterious hitman after the meeting with President Reyes seems to ruffle political feathers. The seasonâs winding plot spins out from this point, as Ryan and C.I.A. colleague Jim Greer (Wendell Peirce) must attempt to find out who ordered the ambush and whatâs in the jungle.
Jack Ryanâs loose grasp of U.S. foreign relations, while providing a poor representation of our history in Latin America, is a feature of its action-hero formula. Yet because the series has little unique to convey about the world Ryan inhabits, itâs composed solely of the brand of generic action and manipulative reliance on cliffhangers cribbed from other, more distinct espionage fiction. Jack Ryan is the Bourne series without the well-honed, if pummeling, stylistic brio; itâs James Bond minus the elegance; Mission: Impossible without the gonzo stunt work. What joys can be derived from it come mostly from Krasinskiâs affability and his characterâs prickly chemistry with Greer, to whom Pierce lends a warm grouchiness.
Throughout Jack Ryanâs new season, its relatively meaningless story doubles back over itself with a number of twists before, inevitably, the âgood guysâ win. Right out of the gate, you sense the showâs creative regression, as Ryan has transformed from a fish-out-of-water C.I.A. analyst to a natural superheroâone comfortable liberating prison camps in the jungle, spying on weapons caches, and invading foreign government buildings. The season stretches credulity even by the showâs own standards, culminating with Ryan and a small band of black-ops cohorts invading the Venezuelan presidential palace on election dayâand its laughably unrealistic final climax includes Ryan fist-fighting with President Reyes.
Though Ryan is sketched loosely, and strictly in terms of his heroism, Krasinskiâs everyman persona and knack for sarcastic comedy assures that heâs believable as a smart guy with hidden ambition and untapped potential, as well as a dash of ego. But despite Krasinskiâs effort, the series remains most engaging when the seasonâs action turns away from Ryan. A secondary plot, involving a foursome of American black operatives invading the jungle, provides some of the seasonâs most suspenseful action sequencesâand its most potent source of pathos, when Marcus (Jovan Adepo), one of the young soldiers, is lost alone behind enemy lines.
As in its first season, the series is still better at assigning motivation to its antagonists than it is at developing its title character, as the palace intrigue between Reyes and his chief advisor, Miguel Ubarri (Francisco Denis), efficiently gets at their motivations, revealing the history of their corruption and foreshadowing a dark fracture in their alliance. In stark contrast, Ryan is merely good, and his goodness is seen as a function of his profession, blank personality, and nationality. While season two is never boring, the series nonetheless has little new to say about Jack Ryan or the world, and while it doesnât lack for suspense, the fate of the latter is never really in doubt. The seasonâs length strains the effectiveness of its throwback sensibilities, passable action choreography, and formulaic charactersâattributes which may be better suited for standalone feature films.
Cast: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, John Hoogenakker, Jordi Molla, Eduar Salas, Francisco Denis, Michael Kelly, Cristina UmaĂ±a, Jovan Adepo Network: Amazon
Review: His Dark Materials Is a Coming-of-Age Tale Dressed in Retro-Futuristic Garb
The series underlines the loss of creativity and boldness that marks the transition from childhood to adulthood.2.5
HBOâs His Dark Materials is a beautifully orchestrated reminder that thereâs life after Westeros, albeit with airships, science, and sensible sweater vests. The first of Philip Pullmanâs iconic trilogy of novels springs to life in the showâs first episode, âLyraâs Jordan,â effectively erasing the memory of Chris Weitzâs 2007 film adaptation of The Golden Compass, which failed to embrace the depth of the universe Pullman created.
Dafne Keen slips naturally into the role of orphan Lyra Belacqua, whoâs eager to explore beyond her home at Jordan College in an alternate version of Oxford. The actress brings a bristling restlessness to the young girl, whoâs much more into stealing wine and sliding down rooftops than reading books and doing chores. In this world, all humans have talking daemons, physical manifestations of their souls that exist outside the body as animal companions. Childrenâs daemons donât take on a fixed form until their humans reach puberty, so Lyraâs daemon, Pantalaimon (Kit Connor), constantly morphs between a moth, wildcat, ermine, and a blur of other creatures. Itâs a heavy-handed metaphor for coming of age, but it lays a crucial foundation for the storyâs existential exploration of knowledge, individuality, and truth.
A visit from Lyraâs absentee uncle, Lord Asriel (James MacAvoy), throws her life into chaos. Asriel is cold and calculating, showing cool indifference even when Lyra saves his life. However effective MacAvoy is in his five minutes of screen time, though, heâs ultimately forgettableâunlike Ruth Wilson, who unfurls like a carnivorous plant as Marisa Coulter, a powerful âfriend of the collegeâ who hires Lyra as her assistant and takes the girl to London. Wilsonâs performance is a study in expertly controlled layers barely concealing a well of rage and cunning; thereâs also the inscrutable face of Mrs. Coulterâs golden monkey daemon, an unnerving extension of her formidable will. In episode two, the full thrust of this relationship is on full display in a traumatic incident involving the monkey and Pan, while in episode four, a wickedly primal scene blurs the line between Coulter and her daemon.
Jack Thorne, who adapted the series from Pullmanâs trilogy of novels, takes a balanced approach to world-building without drowning the audience in minutiae. The version of Britain imagined by the series is ruled by the Magisterium, the theocratic government that clashes with colleges that provide traditional academic sanctuary. Given the anti-intellectual inclinations of current real-world politics, itâs frustrating to watch the long arm of the law curl around those that would challenge it, even within its ranks. Thorne generally does well at crafting dialogue that reveals thoughtful bits of backstory, as well as the sociopolitical context of the charactersâ struggles. Given that there are so many elements to coverâsuch as the concept of Dust, which consists of subatomic particles that tend to gather around adults, which the Magisterium views as controversial, even hereticalâThorne pares down the novelâs science-magic descriptions without diminishing their importance.
Expository scenes detailing the history, science, politics, and arcana of the showâs alt-Britain might be necessary to understand the machinations of this world, but theyâre at times weighed down by clunky dialogue, as in a scene in which Ariyon Bakareâs Lord Boreal circles around a Magisterium priest, threatening to reveal his depravities if he doesnât help him. But where the writing can drag, the showâs visual style is efficient, as in the warm, earthy textures associated with the downtrodden and the sleek jewel tones that mark the powerful. Familiar motifs, from the foreboding pseudo-Brutalist architecture of London to classically framed scenes depicting the apron-clad laundrywomen and busy servant class at Jordan College, succinctly key us into the power dynamics of this universe. And while the showâs retro-futuristic setting hews to a mainstream steampunk aestheticâa genre thatâs historically rife with European colonial associationsâitâs encouraging to see a diverse cast, including Bakare, Clarke Peters (as The Master), and Lucian Msamati (as John Faa), playing characters in positions of power.
The main catalyst for the story of the show is the kidnapping of the children of Gyptians, a semi-nomadic people who live in houseboats, bringing simmering class politics to a near-boil, especially when evidence leads back to the Magisterium. In its timely depiction of a grassroots investigation into the disappearance of vulnerable children, His Dark Materials invites comparisons to the banal acts of evil that flourish in a corrupt system. At one point, Mrs. Coulter visits the children to help them write cheery letters to their loved ones before theyâre brought northward, and the camera follows their slight frames down a dank, narrow hallway. In this moment, the visual allusion to concentration camps is unmistakable.
Thorneâs character development falters slightly in the scenes set in Trollesund, a gateway port to the north, home of armored bears and as-yet-unseen witches. Throughout, Lyraâs small victories here are almost effortless: She wins over the exiled bear Iorek Byrnison (Joe Tandberg) a little too easily, and Byrnison, while suitably gruff and jaded, comes off as a one-dimensional outcast with little at stake. And itâs in Trollesund where the audience is introduced to the tedious theatrics of Lin Manuel Miranda, thinly disguised as a Texan aeronautist named Lee Scoresby. Itâs an ongoing struggle to get past Scoresbyâs overcooked Texan accent and constant rambling, and he ends up more caricature than comedic relief.
His Dark Materials underlines the loss of creativity and boldness that marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. As Lyra intuitively learns to read her alethiometerâan arcane truth-telling device that requires years of studyâshe starts growing into her own identity. Keen shines when sheâs at her most defiant, giving stubborn, righteous life to a child struggling to understand the complexities of the real world. At the end of episode four, the series has barely begun to unpack its more fantastical elements, instead choosing to draw us into its well-rounded interpersonal relationships and emotional connections, all of which add an extra sense of profundity to an otherwise straightforward coming-of-age story.
Cast: Dafne Keen, James MacAvoy, Ruth Wilson, Clarke Peters, Lucian Msamati, Ariyon Bakare, Archie Barnes, Kit Connor, Joe Tandberg Network: HBO
Review: Season 2 of Castle Rock Favors Family Drama Over the Supernatural
Thereâs little apparent benefit to how the showâs second season foregrounds its interpersonal relationships.2
The first season of Castle Rock was essentially a basket of Easter eggs. With an assortment of peripheral Stephen King characters and locations, Huluâs horror anthology series revolved around an entirely original but ultimately uninspired plot. The second season dives more visibly into the King universe, sending one of the authorâs most famous characters, Miseryâs murderously obsessive nurse Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan), on a collision course with another King staple: the undead-inhabited town of Jerusalemâs Lot. Employing these more famous King touchstones, however, hasnât narrowed the showâs focus so much as itâs left it feeling scattered and unmoored.
At the start of the season, Annie drifts from town to town with her teenage daughter, Joy (Elsie Fisher). She works as a nurse long enough in each town to gain access to its hospitalâs array of anti-psychotics in order to continue self-medicating, at which point she and Joy hit the road, swapping out license plates as they drive across the country. A late-night car crash strands them in Castle Rock, Maine, where their skeezy landlord, Ace Merrill (Paul Sparks), clashes with his adopted brother, Abdi Omar (Barkhad Abdi), over business with the local community of Somali immigrants. Thereâs clearly meant to be some social commentary here about racism and even, to some extent, the opioid epidemic, but even after the five episodes made available to critics, the season has yet to really dig into these thorny topics.
Castle Rock uses neighboring town Jerusalemâs Lot and its witchy history for a new set of mysterious resurrections. But compared to the first seasonâs supernatural hook, thereâs a much stronger focus on family drama here that spreads the story thin across so many characters; the series struggles to cover not only Annie and Joy settling into town, but the bad blood between Ace and Abdi. Ace and his biological brother, Chris (Matthew Alan), are the nephews of the unscrupulous, hard-nosed, but fair âPopâ Merrill (Tim Robbins, who unearths an intense weariness in the role). Out of a desire to make amends for his military service and no small amount of white guilt, Pop fostered both Abdi and his sister, Nadia (Yusra Warsama), whoâs the head doctor at the hospital where Annie now works. Itâs a tangled web, but the drama never boils to a degree that explains the eventual violent escalation. A shot of a younger, jealous Ace and some snippets of a right-wing radio program are an unsatisfying shorthand for his decision to start lobbing Molotov cocktails at his adopted brotherâs house.
The most engaging drama here is actually the one with the lowest, most ordinary stakes, in Joy reaching the age where sheâs grown restless under her motherâs wing. She starts to seek out friends her own age, but Annie is, as one might imagine, not an easy person to leave behind. The first season tackled dementia with surprising sensitivity, and thereâs a similar undercurrent of palpable pain to watching Joy struggle with the mental illness of a loved one, sorting out whatâs best for herself even when she loves and cares for her mother.
Unfortunately, Annie isnât nearly so easy to empathize with as Joy. Sheâs such an outsized presence, with her torrent of childish pet names and G-rated curses delivered in an odd folksy accent, that itâs difficult to view her as anything but a caricature. Originally conceived as a strange Other in Misery, Annie has been thrust into the role of protagonist with few apparent changes beyond her dedication as a mother, which nevertheless has its roots in her obsessive tendencies. It seems telling that, in a mid-season flashback episode meant to make young Annie more of a sympathetic character, her conspicuous tics are significantly dialed down.
Thereâs little apparent benefit to how Castle Rockâs second season foregrounds its interpersonal relationships. Deemphasizing a strong supernatural mystery leaves only a cast of characters that alternates between the dull and the exaggerated. Opting for more recognizable, overt King references hasnât enriched the showâs storytelling so much as clarified the gap between the authorâs best work and this TV imitation.
Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Tim Robbins, Paul Sparks, Barkhad Abdi, Elsie Fisher, Yusra Warsama, Matthew Alan, Abby Corrigan, Chad Knorr, Owen Burke, Paul Noonan Network: Hulu
Review: Daybreak Depicts a Unique but Indulgent Apocalyptic Wasteland
Insipid comedy aside, the Netflix series offers evocative reflections on the premature death of a generationâs childhood.2.5
The universe of Netflixâs Daybreak, based on the graphic novel by Brian Ralph, is both familiar and indulgent, as far as post-apocalypses go: Its wasteland is roamed not only by zombie-esque figures, but also by themed packs of survivors sporting rides decked out in spikes Ă la Mad Max. The showâs doomsday premise, however, features a unique twist: The apocalypse was triggered by a bomb that turned onlyâand, seemingly, allâadults into trudging undead âghoulies,â leaving children and teenagers mostly unharmed.
In the six months since the bomb dropped, the young survivors from Glendale, California have responded to the nuclear familyâs disintegration with the entrenchment of the chosen family, turning their social circles into tribes: the Cheermazons, the STEM Punks, the Disciples of Kardashia, and others. The tribes largely keep to themselves throughout the five episodes provided to press; only Baron Triumph, a mysterious, motorcycle-riding cannibal, and the Jocks, led by the grunting Genghis Khan wannabe Turbo Bro Jock (Cody Kearsley), resort to gratuitous violence. The post-apocalypse is, as a result, a relatively peaceful place.
Our guide through the cataclysm is Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford), a tribeless loner looking for his girlfriend, Sam Dean (Sophie Simnett). Throughout the series, Josh often breaks the fourth wall by introducing flashbacks, cuing montages, and contextualizing the apocalypse for the audience. These meta moments are less charming than lazy, rejecting subtle world-building in favor of information dumps. Much of the Daybreakâs comedy is similarly uninspired: While Glendale High Schoolâs Principal Burr (Matthew Broderick) hilariously evokes a certain kind of white, bubble-blinded progressivism in Joshâs flashbacks (âWeâre all woke here. Uh, wide awokeâ), the teenagersâ dialogue relies on meme-y jokesâlike one about never skipping leg dayâthat result in a stilted representation of Gen Z.
Insipid comedy aside, Daybreak offers evocative reflections on the premature death of a generationâs childhood. After one of Turboâs underlings fires a homemade gun, Mona Lisa (JeantĂ© Godlock), Turboâs right hand, declares, âYou broke the Emma GonzĂĄlez Accords. Weâre not playing with guns.â The throwaway line briefly hints at the trauma that the kids have experienced. They wonât use guns, even at the worldâs end, because school shootings have scarred them. They canât reckon with the apocalypse because theyâre still processing the horrors of their old lives, still fettered by a social order that canât see beyond jocks and nerds and cheerleaders, still reeling from the damage caused by neglectful parents and bullies.
Daybreak most formidably juxtaposes the past and the present in an episode following Joshâs newfound companion, Wesley Fists (Austin Crute), a jock turned ronin seeking redemption for his sins. Director Sherwin Shilati and writer Ira Madison III have created a remarkable samurai-flick-style exploration of Wesleyâs various personal apocalypses: his relocation from Compton to the much-more-white Glendale; his falling-out with the cousin (Frederick Williams) he used to do everything with; and, now, his need to choose between a forbidden love and his friends. It all unfolds beneath an astonishingly versatile voiceover by RZA, whoâs both very funny and very capable of hitting the episodeâs dramatic beats.
When, toward the end of the episode, Wesley speaks directly to the narrator, the exchange avoids the triteness of hollow fourth-wall-breaking. It reads, instead, as an honest confrontation between the character and his psyche, a clinging to selfhood all but reduced to rubble. In such sequences, Daybreak flexes against the mechanical writing that constrains it elsewhere, exploring forces and fears powerful enough to render the apocalypse insignificant.
Cast: Colin Ford, Austin Crute, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Matthew Broderick, Sophie Simnett, Gregory Kasyan, Krysta Rodriguez, JeantĂ© Godlock, Cody Kearsley, Jade Peyton, Rob H. Roy, Austin Maas, Chelsea Zhang Network: Netflix
Review: El Camino, a Breaking Bad Sequel, Is a Manâs Rueful Lament for Past Wrongs
The film mixes a self-help message with moments of hard, cruel detail.2.5
Writer-director Vince Gilliganâs El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is driven by a structural perversity. The storyâabout a man fleeing from the aftermath of the events of the AMC showâs finaleâis rife with flashbacks, often resisting to answer the âWhat happened next?â question that drives most follow-ups. Young meth-cooker Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) was last seen at the end of Breaking Bad driving a stolen El Camino into the desert darkness, hysterical after escaping imprisonment and torture at the hands of white supremacists, whom his partner, Walter White, ultimately killed. We last saw Jesse in a sort of propulsive extremis, which one assumes might bleed into a sequel, but Gilligan conjures in El Camino a rueful tone that bears more of a resemblance to the recent seasons of Better Call Saul than to Breaking Bad. Before Jesse can move on to the next stage in his life, he must reckon with the abuse heâs just fled, with the wreck his life has become.
El Camino mixes a self-help message with moments of hard, cruel detail. Gilligan hasnât lost his talent for narrative invention, especially for rendering subterranean criminal worlds hidden in plain sight. One of Breaking Badâs most chillingly casual, self-rationalizing henchman, Todd (Jesse Plemons), returns in flashbacks, and is revealed to have acted as a kind of gaslighting partner to Jesse, offering him breadcrumbs of kindness in order to use him to carry out side errands. In the present, Jesse is on the run, trading the El Camino for a friendâs car, staking out Toddâs now abandoned apartment, which he knows contains a large stash of cash. Jesse has this information because he helped Todd remove the corpse of a housekeeper that the latter killed. Todd views this disposal as just another errand, and Jesse drops the body from several floors up like a bundle of laundry. In an especially macabre flourish, Todd removes his belt from the dead womanâs neck and re-loops it into his pants.
Of all the Breaking Bad characters who briefly return in El Camino, Todd seems to stimulate Gilliganâs imagination most. He suggests a modernization of a Donald Westlake characterâa thug whoâs selfish and intelligent enough to wall himself off from the implications of his actions. Gilligan goes to town finding various ways to express Toddâs callousness, which Plemons plays with extraordinary understatement. When Jesse finds a gun and briefly toys with escaping from Todd, the latterâs understanding of his own power and entitlement is truly unnerving. Todd says, âIâll have that gun now, Jesse,â with condescension, and, more audaciously, with something resembling actual pity.
Gilliganâs aesthetic also appears to be influenced by Westlake, as El Camino has a crisp, streamlined, matter-of-fact sense of framing that suggests the pared-down prose of the legendary crime writer, while recalling the confident visual style that Breaking Bad grew into and that Better Call Saul inherited. Thereâs also a bit of Twin Peaks, and Breaking Bad itself, in Gilliganâs chronological hopscotching, which shifts oneâs focus from the plot at large to individual scenes. El Camino is ultimately concerned with a simple narrative thread: Jesseâs attempt to find the money to pay Ed (Robert Forster) to help him disappear into a kind of witness protection program for criminals. Jesse couldâve went with Ed in Breaking Bad and didnât, and so El Camino often suggests a long act of atoning for one essential failure of self-preservation, as Jesse remembers pivotal details from his past to pry himself free from his current predicament. Forster, in his final role, is a master of the implicitly emotionally charged deadpan that Gilliganâs characters use to protect themselves and to launder atrocity.
Yet Gilligan somewhat outsmarts himself in El Camino. For all the filmâs invention, for all its trickiness, it doesnât really move. Jesse isnât an interesting enough character to connect the filmâs various tangents; heâs certainly not a Walter White or a Saul Goodman, criminals who dare the audience to like them via the visceral nature of their inventiveness and need to succeed and dominate. Audiences whoâre âTeam Jesseâ will probably enjoy El Camino more than those who always found him to be somewhat tediousâa youth-flattering character whoâs divorced of complicity from the plot of which heâs a part. Gilliganâs love for Jesse doesnât do the protagonist any favors either, as El Camino is composed of a series of riffs in which heâs continually upstaged by characters whoâre allowed to be true to their maliciousness. Breaking Bad ended with Jesse discovering himself in chaos, El Camino reins him back in.
Cast: Aaron Paul, Jesse Plemons, Charles Baker, Matt Jones, Bryan Cranston, Jonathan Banks, Krysten Ritter, Todd Bower, Robert Forster, Gloria Sandoval, Tess Harper, Michael Bofshever Network: Netflix
Review: Watchmen Is an Intriguing Rebuttal to Its Source Material
The series argues the ways injustice might persist, and in that sense, its alternate history doesnât look so alien after all.2.5
HBOâs Watchmen isnât a straightforward adaptation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, but rather a present-day sequel where the events of the original took place decades ago. At one point, a newscast briefly shows a naked blue atomic man, Doctor Manhattan, on Mars, and in another, we learn that the Cold War effectively ended when a massive alien squid beamed into the middle of New York City, killing millions while uniting the world against some vague extradimensional presence. For a while, anyway.
In modern-day Tulsa, Oklahoma, a white supremacist group called the Seventh Cavalry has risen, opposing, among other things, the reparations paid to descendants of the people caught in the cityâs 1921 race riot (these are called âRedfordations,â after President Robert Redford, whoâs been in office for decades since Richard Nixon abolished the two-term limit). Some tensions, the series posits, wonât be quelled by the appearance of some separate, cephalopodic other; the hatred of the human other is still very much alive.
The Watchmen universeâs primary wrinkle, beyond an alternate reality so alternate that Vietnam is part of the United States, is the way costumed heroes figure into the whole thing. The Cavalry wears Rorschach-blot masks patterned after one of the graphic novelâs heroes, a violent right-wing vigilante-slash-detective. The crux of the original mid-1980s Watchmen comic lies in the complicating of the superhero archetype through a whole mess of psychological hang-ups and generally unsavory preoccupations (Rorschach, for one, is never explicitly racist in the original text, though heâs a considerable misogynist). It fixated on the idea that so-called âcostumed adventurersâ took to the streets to beat people up often for the hell of it, because they had a messiah complex or because their mothers told them to or just because it felt good to draw blood. Facing down oblivion was the thing it finally took to pull their heads out of asses that wore the underpants on the outside.
Yet even after the six episodes made available to critics, it can be a little tough to swallow some aspects of showrunner Damon Lindelofâs brave new Watchmen, where a big dead squid has apparently shifted the present racial paradigm so completely that the Tulsa police force is not just masked, but predominantly black. Police weapons are lodged in remotely unlocked car dashboard holsters, and racists live within a âNixonvilleâ trailer park as though theyâre the new oppressed. The idea of a country that both won the Vietnam War and elected Nixon for five terms going on to accept a masked, armed police force composed mainly of minorities seems, to say the least, optimistic. The pacing doesnât make things any easier to interpret, as the show spoons out details about its larger world as needed, often after deploying some particularly charged imagery. Youâre mostly asked to take it on faith that the writers have thought this stuff through, that later everything will make sense rather than serve as empty provocation.
The ensemble cast is anchored by Regina King as Angela Abar, an ex-cop turned vigilante called Sister Night. Draped in a hooded long coat with face paint sprayed across her eyes, King brims with steely confidence as well as a controlled, driving anger. But itâs difficult to shake a general suspicion of the way the series positions racial pain as a constant instigator, with responses to prejudice seeming to entirely define its people of color; theyâre more walking expressions of hurt than well-rounded characters. And though the first six episodes have not yet revealed enough about Vietnamese trillionaire Lady Trieu (Hong Chau), her initial appearances exhibit some typical, worrying signs of paranoia about Eastern invaders.
The series expands the comic in some fascinating ways, weaving a dense, bizarre mythology and a richly conceived world to get swept up in. The pilot episode in particular introduces various complicated ideas, drawing clear lines to fascism in the actions of the police and vigilantes. But the series misses some of the novelâs complexity in its eagerness for loaded imageryâlynchings, riots, police violenceâand slowly-unfolding mysteries. These episodes offer little follow through on the initial themes, seemingly content to raise questions and then set them aside while indulging in the excesses of fascism-is-sexy fantasy, with âenhanced interrogationsâ dispensed upon the deserving while set to a soundtrack of fat synths by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Regardless of whether the series plans to return to consciously critique these ideas, its habit of leaving them to hang in the air is troubling.
As thorny as Watchmenâs handling of politics can be, though, it still offers an intriguing rebuttal to its source material. Even the boundless cynicism of Moore and Gibbonsâs comic had its potential rays of light, the idea that prejudice might look small once everyone recognized the futility of crying out to be better dead than Red. HBOâs Watchmen argues the ways injustice might persist, and in that sense, its alternate history doesnât look so alien after all.
Cast: Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeremy Irons, Jean Smart, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Hong Chau, James Wolk, Frances Fisher Network: HBO
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