Archive for December 27, 2015

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” thoughts, Season One, Episode Nine: “Bound in the Flesh”

December 27, 2015

When you talk about what makes a TV series succeed or fail, you typically want to avoid repeating the same points over and over. Who wants to sound like a broken record, right? Tell that to John Lennon and Yoko Ono when they made “Revolution 9” — and if repetition is good enough for the Beatles, it’s good enough for us, and for Ash vs. Evil Dead. The penultimate episode of the show’s first season — “Bound in the Flesh” — gets where it’s going by repeating the same trick it’s pulled since the pilot: taking the gore and nastiness as far as it can, then taking them one step beyond. Like that creepy voice saying “Number nine … number nine …” over and over, it works.

I reviewed this weekend’s Ash vs. Evil Dead for Rolling Stone.

“Serial” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Three: “Escaping”

December 27, 2015

Koenig notes that this second escape attempt puts paid to the notion that Bergdahl’s a Taliban sympathizer. He’d already been badly beaten as punishment for his first escape; why risk going through that again if he thought these people had some good points? Indeed, the severity of his treatment also calls into question the Army’s decision to prosecute Bergdahl now. If all he’s really guilty of is being a big enough moron to think he could Jason Bourne his way from one base to another in order to call attention to a commanding officer he hated (for reasons still unstated), hasn’t he suffered enough?

But the escape attempts could also be seen as part and parcel of the instinct that drove Bergdahl to run in the first place. He’d already constructed a heroic narrative for himself in which he would address a problem of great moral risk (the Army’s horrible commanders) by taking a great physical risk (going AWOL and making his way through enemy territory). How could a man like that not take his chances trying to escape? Succeed or fail, it would feed into that same legend-in-his-own-mind attitude.

I reviewed the third episode of Serial for the New York Observer.

The Boiled Leather Audio Hour Episode 43!

December 21, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or Episode Seven Kingdoms

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Sean and Stefan discuss the new Star Wars movie! Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Jedi mind tricked us into dedicating this episode of our A Song of Ice and Fire podcast to an entirely different fantasy franchise. How did the film fit in with larger saga? How did J.J. Abrams’s direction differ from George Lucas’s? Is Rey a Mary Sue, and if so, how does that impact the film? What the hell was up with Starkiller Base? We answer all these questions and more, including a discussion of the film’s cinematography, the performances of its actors, the pros and cons of the characters, and even a few connections to the world of Westeros. I’ve got a good feeling about this…

Download Episode 43

Additional links:


Stefan’s review of the movie.

Tasha Robinson’s essay on Rey.

Previous episodes.

Podcast RSS feed.

iTunes page.

Sean’s blog.

Stefan’s blog.

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” thoughts, Season One, Episode Eight: “Ashes to Ashes”

December 21, 2015


As a general rule, Ash vs. Evil Dead has its tongue buried so far in its cheek it pokes through the side of its own face. True to its splatstick roots, the series cranks up the blood and guts to a more-funny-than-scary degree, and uses its talented troupe of comedic actors to crack wiseass jokes about the carnage. It’s not that it’s making light of violence, let alone celebrating or valorizing it — its attitude is that in the face of evil, death, and the combination thereof, you just have to laugh.

Which makes tonight’s episode — “Ashes to Ashes” — such a shock. From the title on down, it seemed like little more than an excuse to introduce the series’ goofiest antagonist yet: a clone of Ash J. Williams, grown from the stump of his own severed hand. A Bruce Campbell vs. Bruce Campbell fight scene? Groovy, right? But when the evil Ash killed Amanda Fisher — the dogged, surprisingly flirtatious detective who went from nemesis to love interest in the blink of an eye — it was a development that the show’s shits ‘n’ giggles tone made impossible to see coming, and emotionally difficult to withstand.

I reviewed this weekend’s Ash vs. Evil Dead for Rolling Stone. This show has really been a pleasant surprise.

“Serial” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Two: “The Golden Chicken”

December 21, 2015

By the time Serial Season Two debuted its second episode this morning, events on the ground had already overtaken it. The Army announced on Monday that Bowe Bergdahl will be court-martialed for desertion and “misbehavior before the enemy,” a serious charge that could earn him a life sentence. Sarah Koenig spent the opening minutes of the podcast detailing this turn of events—an outcome that both the Army as an institution and hawks like Sen. John McCain have backed for some time, but which, she says, flies in the face of the opinions of officials who’ve gotten to know Bergdahl personally. For the purposes of Serial, though, the decision is largely immaterial, since it will likely be weeks before we reach this point in the narrative Koenig and company have constructed.

That disconnect is revealing. When presented a choice between focusing on the facts at hand and wandering back into its rambling slow-reveal structure, Serial chooses the latter every time. No wonder the show settled on Bergdahl for its subject this season: When it comes to wild schemes that leave you lost in the wilderness, no closer to the truth you set out to expose, they’ve got something in common.

I reviewed last week’s Serial for the New York Observer.

Interview: Heather Benjamin

December 17, 2015

Given the cover of Romantic Story this is a weird thing to say, but this seems less sexually explicit than your past books.

Heather: I don’t think that’s weird at all! I view this work as way less sexually explicit, too—which is funny, because there are still gaping vaginas everywhere. I guess I’m just desensitized to that. But there’s not really any penetration or actual sexual acts going on, which is unlike my older work. It has to do with what I was saying before, actually, how my work tends to mirror what’s going on in my personal life. Honestly, at the time when I was making work like Sad Sex, I was mirroring exactly what I was feeling, what I was going through in my life: dealing with different partners, different people, trust tissues, the different dynamics of being single and feeling very alone and isolated and messy regardless of whether I was getting some or not. It’s hard to put it into words; I guess that’s why I don’t too often, and why I was making work about it instead. It sounds dumb to me when I try to explain it, but when I was making work that included fucking, it’s because in my life I was dealing with emotions and complications as a result of fucking.

Now I’m making less explicit, less fully pornographic work, because it’s not the dynamics of fucking that I’m grappling with on a daily basis. I’m less interested in how other people made me feel as a result of being involved with them—unlike in Sad Sex, when I was using text in some pieces, like “you make me feel special” or “I masturbate thinking about your boyfriend,” making really blatant statements about how relations between myself and various people affected my self-perception and my experience. I’m now more interested in my own singular experiences with, and within, myself, not those that are explicitly being generated by other people in the present. It’s more introspective and nostalgic, and less about depicting something generating panic and emotion in the moment. This obviously still has a lot to do with sexuality and physicality, but less to do with sexual acts, unless they’re being performed on oneself, or are being looked back on in reflection and anxiety.

I interviewed the truly brilliant artist Heather Benjamin for Adult.

“Fargo” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Ten: “Palindrome”

December 15, 2015

When it comes to television soundtracks, there are good music cues, and there are great music cues, and Fargo Season Two has had plenty of both. And then, my friends, there’s “War Pigs.” Black Sabbath’s orgiastic antiwar anthem enters “Palindrome,” the show’s stunning season finale, as a literal nightmare—an accompaniment to Betsy Solverson’s vision of a glorious future of Costcos and Game Boys and family dinners, shattered by the hatred and violence that runs so deep in this land’s veins it’s unlikely to ever be pumped clean. It’s a fucking mighty moment, a sign that showrunner Noah Hawley, director Adam Arkin, and company have an unshakeable grasp of the themes of their show and the period pop-culture they’ve used to advance them. And it’s a prophetic moment as well. The song foretells the day of judgment when the rulers responsible for the slaughter are made to answer for their crimes, as all their plans and strategies come to naught. If you want a picture of the future for the characters we’ve spent the season following, from kings and conquerors to victims and vanquished, you’ve got one.

I reviewed the Fargo Season 2 finale for the New York Observer. This was really some season.

Game of Unknowns Glossary: Every Major Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones Fan Theory

December 15, 2015

Like the Spanish Inquisition before him, George R.R. Martin’s chief weapon is surprise. The author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series has packed his epic-fantasy novels with unpredictable plot twists — and for every shocking revelation, there’s an equally tantalizing secret that stays hidden, riddle that remains unsolved, or prophecy that has yet to be properly decoded. Game of Thrones, the show based on the books, has largely stayed away from Martin’s mix of hints, clues, visions, and red herrings, which is probably wise; no one wants a repeat of Lost, where fans went so berserk trying to figure out what was going to happen in advance that the show itself became an afterthought.

But readers have had almost two decades to pore over and ponder every line in Martin’s novels, beginning with the first volume, 1996’s A Game of Thrones. From Tumblr to Reddit to major ASOIAF fansites likewesteros.organd Tower of the Hand — as well as my and my co-author’s own sites All Leather Must Be Boiled and the Nerdstream Era, and our podcast, “The Boiled Leather Audio Hour” — self-taught experts and avid fans have advanced literally hundreds of theories about the past and future of the story, from slam-dunk analysis that’s been all but accepted as fact to tinfoil-hat crackpottery that makes the Kennedy assassination look as clear-cut as an episode of Murder, She Wrote. The sensation of stumbling across this incredibly vast trove of deep-cut knowledge for the first time is a memory many readers share: “Holy shit — Ned Stark isn’t Jon Snow’s dad?”

Below, you’ll find 50 of the most popular, compelling, convincing, and/or crazy theories out there. Consider it early prep for Game of Thrones’ sixth season, out in April. Dig in, but be warned: The Song will not remain the same.

With an editorial assist by our own Stefan Sasse, I wrote 10,000 words on 50 ASoIaF/GoT theories. This is the least sane thing I’ve ever been paid to do.

“Serial” thoughts, Season Two, Episode One: “DUSTWUN”

December 14, 2015

“War is too important to be left to the podcasters.”—Gen. Jack D. Ripper,Dr. Strangelove (paraphrased)

NPR journalist Sarah Koenig’s unlikely cultural phenomenon has its problems, but laziness in the advancement of its narrative is not one of them. How else could you characterize a show that spells out all of its major problems in a single sentence early in its Season Two premiere? Describing her production partner, Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal, and his discursive 25-hour taped conversation with infamous POW/deserter/whistleblower/traitor/fill-in-the-blank Bowe Bergdahl, Koenig says, “Mark isn’t so much after the facts of what happened, though he wants those too, but more, he’s after the why of what happened—trying to get inside Bowe’s head, to understand how Bowe sees the world.” The reliance on an entertainer of dubious reputation to acquire reportorial truth; the elevation of unknowables like intent over tangible, verifiable, old-fashioned who what when and where; the conviction that a self-described Jason Bourne wannabe has valuable, if not unimpeachable, insight into both his actions and the environment that produced them—the immensely popular podcast’s trifecta of fatal flaws are all right there. The message is as unmistakable as it is unintentional: Question the clarity of Serial’s storytelling at your peril, people.

I’m covering the Serial podcast for the New York Observer this season! Here’s my review of the premiere.

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” thoughts, Season One, Episode Seven: “Fire in the Hole”

December 14, 2015

“Life is hard and dangerous, and sometimes you just gotta chop off somebody’s head to survive.” Wait, since when did Ash vs. Evil Dead become The Walking Dead? We kid, of course. Unlike the smash-hit zombie series, Starz’s resurrection of the beloved splatstick franchise is neither pretentious nor nihilistic enough to serve up that line of dialogue with a straight face. While TWD doles out its sadistic, kill-or-be-killed valorization of violence in all misguided seriousness, tonight’s Ash episode — “Fire in the Hole” — treats it like the joke that it is. In this go-round, Ash J. Williams and his merry band come across a militia full of Rick Grimes–style might-makes-right gun fetishists, and promptly pull their asses out of the fire.

I reviewed this past weekend’s Ash vs. Evil Dead for Rolling Stone.

The Hellboy / BPRD / Mignolaverse Reading Order, updated

December 10, 2015

1. Hellboy: Seed of Destruction

2. Hellboy: Wake the Devil

3. Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others

4. Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom

5. Hellboy: Conqueror Worm

6. BPRD: Hollow Earth & Other Stories

7. Hellboy: Weird Tales Vol. 1

8. BPRD: The Soul of Venice & Other Stories

9. Hellboy: Weird Tales Vol. 2

10. BPRD: Plague of Frogs

11. BPRD: The Dead

12. Hellboy: Strange Places

13. BPRD: The Black Flame

14. BPRD: The Universal Machine

15. Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others

16. BPRD: Garden of Souls

17. BPRD: Killing Ground

18. Lobster Johnson: The Iron Prometheus

19. Hellboy: Darkness Calls

20. Abe Sapien: The Drowning

21. BPRD: 1946

22. BPRD: The Warning

23. BPRD: The Black Goddess

24. Hellboy: The Wild Hunt

25. Witchfinder: In the Service of Angels

26. BPRD: War on Frogs

27. Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others

28. BPRD: 1947

29. BPRD: King of Fear

30. BPRD: Hell on Earth: New World

31. Hellboy: The Bride of Hell and Others

[31.5 Hellboy: House of the Living Dead]

32. BPRD: Being Human

33. Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever

34. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Gods and Monsters

35. Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury

36. Abe Sapien: The Devil Does Not Jest

37. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Russia

38. Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand

39. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Engine & The Long Death

40. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Pickens County Horror & Others

41. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Return of the Master

42. BPRD: 1948

[42.5 Hellboy: The Midnight Circus]

43. BPRD: Vampire

44. BPRD: Hell on Earth: A Cold Day in Hell

45. Abe Sapien: Dark and Terrible & The New Race of Man

46. Lobster Johnson: Satan Smells a Rat

47. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Lake of Fire

48. Hellboy in Hell: The Descent

49. Sledgehammer 44

50. Abe Sapien: The Shape of Things to Come

51. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Reign of the Black Flame

52. Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster

53. Abe Sapien: Sacred Places

54. BPRD: Hell on Earth: The Devil’s Wings

55: Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland

56. Abe Sapien: A Darkness So Great

57. Hellboy and the BPRD: 1952

58. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Flesh and Stone

59. Frankenstein Underground

60. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Metamorphosis (due in January)

61. Hellboy in Mexico (due in April)

62. Abe Sapien: The Secret Fire (due in June)

63. Hellboy and the BPRD: 1953 (due in August)

As I’ve explained when I’ve done this in the past, I left out the humor collection Hellboy Junior and the superhero-crossover collection Hellboy: Masks and Monsters because they’re not in continuity; arguably neither are the two Hellboy: Weird Tales volumes but they’re at least in the spirit of the thing. I listed the original graphic novel hardcovers Hellboy: House of the Living Deadand Hellboy: The Midnight Circus as .5s rather than factoring them into the list proper primarily out of pique that they hadn’t been released in paperback yet, though that is now forthcoming with Hellboy in Mexico next April. I used the regular-edition trade paperbacks rather than the larger omnibus-style collections, though I refrained from noting the individual volume numbers within each series just for the sake of my sanity.

Enjoy, and many thanks to Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Guy Davis et al for this marvelous story!

“Fargo” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Nine: “The Castle”

December 8, 2015


“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.”

—H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

Four things put me in mind of this passage, one of the most famous and evocative in the history of science fiction, while watching tonight’s episode of Fargo, which I think it’s safe to say contains one of the finest action sequences in the history of the medium. The first should be obvious enough. When the UFO that has hovered just above the events of this season swung low for a close-up look at the Massacre at Sioux Falls, it did more than save Lou Solverson’s life, and most likely Ed and Peggy Bomquist’s as well, at the expense of Bear Gerhardt’s. It marked the moment at which the moral catastrophe of the violence that has dogged these characters from the start finally overflowed the banks of normalcy, of reality, and needed to conjure something supernatural into existence just to find an image commensurate with its enormity. This is the function of the fantastic in fiction, when used well: to express in visceral, visual terms emotions too intense for the vocabulary of the everyday to articulate. The mute spaceship, the baleful gaze of its spotlights draped over combatants and corpses alike, a liquid discharge dripping down upon them like so much blood, appearing out of nowhere and then disappearing with no more explanation than when it arrived…If this show, to say nothing of this year in real life, has taught us anything, is it not that this is exactly how the eruption of violence in our lives feels—instantaneous, inexplicable, and overwhelming?

I reviewed last night’s Fargo for the New York Observer.

“Jessica Jones” thoughts, Season One, Episode 13: “AKA Smile”

December 7, 2015

Given the depth and power both the writing and Ritter brought to the material involving trauma, which remained the series’ strongest point throughout the run, it’s tremendous shame it didn’t extend to other areas of the show. This is especially the case for Tennant and Kilgrave, whose constant, transparent evil lets real abusers, able to hide or temper it, off the hook: “See, we’re not like that!” That the show is dealing with a difficult and horrifically underrepresented subject ought to obligate it to do better than “good enough”; recognition alone is the start of a conversation and the bare minimum of merit, not the be-all and end-all. While nothing here was offensive or insulting, nor was anything inspired or inspiring. Considering the potential, that’s a crime. Case closed.

I reviewed the season finale of Jessica Jones for Decider. This was a very frustrating, disappointing series.

“The Leftovers” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Ten: “I Live Here Now”

December 7, 2015

Foremost among those achievements: the fucking acting. By the time he hit that first chorus in “Homeward Bound,” the Simon & Garfunkel song that enabled Kevin Garvey’s escape from his return to the afterlife after getting gutshot by John Murphy, Justin Theroux had already paid off two seasons of work with just a minute of facial expressions and passable Paul Simon. His portrayal of Kevin has long been an inversion of his archetypal tall dark and handsome good looks; unlike Jon Hamm, whose transitions between Don Draper’s strong, suave side and his insecure, guilt-ridden shadow were distinct and dramatic, Theroux always plays Kevin as guy with a godlike body, an incandescent stare, and the loosest of grips on both his emotions and reality itself. Here he really got to crack, not in his usual freak-out mode but as a man so moved by the meaning of the song he’s singing he can barely get the words out without breaking down in tears. It’s somehow both restrained and totally vulnerable, a bravura combination. The scene is for him what “The Suitcase” was for Hamm on Mad Men or what “Crawl Space” was for Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad. Shot in a series of tight, spotlight-illuminated closeups by Leder, it gives you nothing but a face and a voice, and gets more out of them than you could have imagined.

I reviewed the extraordinary season finale of The Leftovers for Decider.

“The Affair” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Ten (210)

December 7, 2015

My favorite thing about this week’s episode of The Affair is that there are two more episodes to come after it. The show’s first season was just ten episodes long, but this year it’s gotten the bump to twelve, which I didn’t realize until the coming attractions. To this I say “hell yeah.” When you go Solloway, you gotta go all the way!

My second favorite thing about this week’s episode of The Affair was the half Meghan got to cover. Noah’s solo stint in couples therapy was the most realistic portrayal of a therapy session I’ve ever seen on screen—which makes me think it’s long past time for me to seek out Affair co-creators Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi’s psychologist-centric show In Treatment. It was also the most in-depth and even-handed investigation of Noah’s strengths and weaknesses as a person—or as “a man,” as he might prefer to put it—we’ve gotten yet.

Alison’s half of the episode wasn’t half as meaty, but it was at least twice as juicy. By missing the therapy session, she missed out on a chance to take a long journey inward, but she got to give the plot all its forward motion as a make-good.

My compadre Meghan O’Keefe and I reviewed this week’s episode of The Affair for Decider. So jealous she got to cover Noah’s therapy session!

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” thoughts, Season One, Episode Six: “The Killer of Killers”

December 7, 2015

Six episodes into its first season, AvED shows no signs of either slowing down or slipping up. In fact, in sheer entertainment terms, this week’s episode — “The Killer of Killers” — may be the best of the bunch so far. Yes, it lacks the genuine jump-scares of the pilot’s haunted-house atmosphere — hard to pull off when your climactic battle is staged in a greasy spoon — or the inventively awful creature design of the Eligos installments. But it more than makes up for this with crackerjack jokes, no-nonsense viciousness, and enough gore to fill an elevator in the Overlook Hotel. Directed by Michael Hurst, whose resume is full of rollicking genre fare (Hercules, Xena, Spartacus, the Bruce Campbell–starring Jack of All Trades), it’s the most fun you’ll have in 24 minutes this weekend.

I reviewed this weekend’s episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead for Rolling Stone. My editor cut the concluding “…without taking your clothes off” from this graf but otherwise I stand by it.

“Empire” thoughts, Season Two, Episode Ten: “Et Tu, Brute?”

December 4, 2015

The show’s willingness to take on subjects with a degree of difficulty high enough that even so-called “prestige” dramas tend to steer clear remains impressive. Case in point: Following their rousing duet “Powerful” — a Black Lives Matter protest anthem mixed with “Roar”-style empowerment pop — inveterate morning-DJ troublemaker Charlamagne tha God, appearing as himself, bluntly interrogates the pair about their identities. “You black now?” he asks Skye, accusing her of “singing about a race she never really claimed.” Without realizing that he’s struck a nerve, he asks Jamal how people would react if, despite being gay, he suddenly started dating a woman. You can see every possible shade of these sentiments expressed across social media anytime a celebrity’s statements on race or sexuality make the national news. A quickie photoshop of Skye with “a Rachel Dolezal wig” adds even more authentic viral-politics flavor to the mix.

All of this was in service of last week’s shocking smooch — maybe the single soapiest moment in the show’s history, at least until that staircase tumble tonight. The series could have coasted off the sensationalism of that moment for as long as it wanted; instead, it choose to dig into the sociopolitical subtext. (Showrunner mindreading attempts are always ill-advised, but it’s not tough to imagine it’s because this shit matters to them.) Not that any of it felt like getting lectured, of course. It wouldn’t be Empireif even sensitive topics weren’t turned into “oh shit!” moments, whether that’s the shock of Charlamagne’s Q&A or the heartbreaking bigotry ofLucious when, with tears of joy in his eyes, he tells Jamal, “She fixed you!”

I reviewed the “fall finale” of Empire for Rolling Stone.

“Jessica Jones” thoughts, Season One, Episode 12: “AKA Take a Bloody Number”

December 4, 2015

Here, I suppose, is where we’ve got to grapple with the most unsurmountable problem the show faces: the flat performances of its two leads. With only one episode to go, my earlier reservations about the work being done by Krysten Ritter and David Tenant have blossomed into full-blown dislike. There’s almost nothing to Ritter’s acting here beyond dead-eyed, monotone sarcasm, pitched up into anger or down into tears at appropriate moments. Tennant, in turn, is a scenery-chewing gentleman villain, unrelated to and unrecognizable from any comparable figure in real life.

I reviewed the penultimate episode of Jessica Jones for Decider. It was bad.

“Jessica Jones” thoughts, Season One, Episode 11: “AKA I’ve Got the Blues”

December 4, 2015

The gravity of the situation is consistently undercut. This begins almost immediately, right there in the restaurant where Hope stabbed herself to death and four others came within a hair’s breadth of hanging themselves. Jessica wants to orchestrate a cover-up in order to avoid entangling the cops in Kilgrave’s web, but her goofball neighbor Robyn, who unleashed the telepath as part of an extremely dumb plan to get to the bottom of her brother Ruben’s death, isn’t having it. “We tell our truth,” she says, “for Ruben.” Then, referring to Hope, whom Jessica has shrouded under a tablecloth, “For tablecloth girl.” Nothing says “We take this seriously” like a cutesy nickname for a distraught woman who just slit her own throat! I get gallows humor, but this is too much too soon, and it jibes with neither Hope’s death nor Robyn’s horrifying close call.

I reviewed the eleventh episode of Jessica Jones for Decider. It was bad.

“Jessica Jones” thoughts, Season One, Episode 10: “AKA 1,000 Cuts”

December 4, 2015

About the best thing you can say about Jessica Jones’s tenth episode is that Carrie-Anne Moss and Robin Weigert have a horrifying fight scene. With encouragement from Kilgrave and an accidentally lethal last-second rescue by Pam, Jery and Wendy’s vicious divorce turns violent, with the doctor attempting to make emotional “death by a thousand cuts” the lawyer dealt her all too literal. The assault goes on for an uncomfortably long time, with Wendy counting out every slash of the knife against the body of the woman she once loved more than anything. She winds up dead with a glass table embedded in her skull, staring forward with dead unseeing eyes at the woman it turns out she didn’t see clearly in life either. The superhero genre is powered by the use of violence as metaphor, a spectacularly physical way of speaking the unspeakable, and this is as good as the show has ever gotten in that area. Too bad the rest of “AKA 1,000 Cuts” fails just as spectacularly.

I reviewed the tenth episode of Jessica Jones for Decider. It was bad.