“Save My Love”
March 23rd, 2011
I only recently caught up with FX’s Justified – after reviewing the premiere, I actually hadn’t seen a single episode, unable to find the time on Wednesday night to check in on what has been a pretty great second season. However, I was able to catch up over Spring Break, and spent Monday evening checking out last week’s episode, “Blaze of Glory,” and then following it with “Save My Love.”
Watching them together (they were on the same disc sent by FX) is a really unique experience, and I’m curious to know how viewers who waited a week between episodes responds to the transformative power of “Save My Love.” While I thought “Blaze of Glory” was fine, it was an example of a fairly simple storytelling method: a secondary character (Winona) gets mixed up with a primary case, the two storylines converging for a brief moment before eventually being resolved on their own terms. While the episode had a Justified feel, the material with Art hunting his old nemesis (slowly) being particularly charming, it didn’t really show us or tell us anything about the people involved. It might have said something about Winona, but the “resolution” sort of kept that from being fully investigated.
However, as you have no doubt figured out, “Save My Love” not only offered a stellar example of how serial convergence can function in a procedural setting, but it also dramatically transformed the ending of “Blaze of Glory.” It’s a stealth two-parter, undoing the resolution in a blink of an eye and marching on forward with an unending sense of tension. It’s an obnoxiously tight hour of television, but it also very much depends on both the series’ serial development up to this point and the lack of serial development in some of this season’s episodes.
June 8th, 2010
I think an “I told you so” is in order (albeit a little bit late, as I didn’t get to the finale until this weekend).
I wrote at length earlier this spring about how Justified’s gradual serialization was nothing to be alarmed about, and could actually result in a stronger serialized core to the series by allowing us to spend time with the characters outside of the demands of long-term storylines, and “Bulletville” is the definitive example of the complexities of this form of narrative pleasure (or the pleasure of this narrative complexity – works either way).
Perhaps the best way to describe it is a sort of abstract serialization: while there are parts of the narrative which present clear actions and consequences, there are others which build on small moments, actions which have no immediate ramifications but which at some point in the story merge with serialized arcs and contribute to a meaningful image of setting or character.
In its first season finale, Justified did everything they needed to do to bring it all together: in fact, there was so many moving pieces here that parts of the series which one would have presumed to be central in a finale like this one (especially if the show were as generic a procedural as some presumed it to be) were left to small moments, actions within a larger whole, leaving “Bulletville” to mirror the events of the series’ pilot but with newfound, and pretty fantastic, complexity.
“Doris is Dead; Are We Rich or Are We Poor?”
August 8th, 2009
When it comes to shows like Hung (and Showtime’s Nurse Jackie), I’ve begun to fall behind on my blogging – in fact, since the show’s pilot, this is the first time I’ve even written about Hung. I’ve likely dropped a few notes on Twitter, but at the end of the day there has been something about this show that has kept me from writing about it.
Part of it is that the two critics I respect the most, Alan Sepinwall and Todd VanDerWerff, are both reviewing the show on a regular basis – in most instances I like to add my own voice to the chorus, but when I’ve found myself quite busy I tend to only rush to get a review out if I have something to say that feels distinct and not just a general “here’s what happened, here’s how it fits into the show’s formula” post. They are both doing that and more each week, so if I don’t feel particularly inclined to post I’m far less likely to.
And that’s been the problem with Hung, really – I’ve never watched an episode that’s made me absolutely want to sit down and blog about it, which isn’t to say that I haven’t been enjoying the show. Rather, it seems like it took a while to really find itself, and to find the kind of storylines that felt less like Ray and the show searching out their identity and more like the show questioning both Ray and our own preconceptions about the premise. And while I think there were some solid episodes over the past few weeks, “Doris is Dead…” really hits home in terms of presenting a legitimately compelling (if expedient) scenario wherein Ray’s new employment is complicated in a way that feels both dangerous and complex.
Beginning with Jemma’s arrival last week, played for Comedy as Ray was forced to repeat the same experience over and over again, we got that scenario, and here we saw the show delve into equal parts sports cliche and complex sexual relationships in an effort to further emphasize just how problematic this new role could become for all involved.