Justified (Season 6 – Final Season)

Well it is in the can and over with and it ended on a very good note, barring one annoyance.

This season focused on Boyd and Raylan’s struggle, but involved Sam Elliott playing Avery Markham and Mary Steenburgen playing Katherine Hale as new bad guys in a tug of war between multiple groups. We also had a lot of  Wynn Duffy which I personally enjoyed.

The season was perhaps the best one to date. The acting still really good, and the fact that almost all the side characters popped up in this (or were put down as the case may be). It was a really good send off for the series.

The only issue I had was the last 20 minutes of the season finale. I won’t say what happened other than it moves forward a few years to give sort of an epilogue, but I think that is where it did a disservice to the series. Not everything needs to be wrapped up completely and sometimes its best to leave things where they end, takes away from the climatic end.

Pros: Acting, story and pace were all great.

Cons: Sometimes its best to not have an epilogue, just leave it where it stands after the final climax.

Made me want to watch Deadwood, maybe I will do that.

Justified (Season 5)

I never realized that I wanted a season to focus on Dewey Crowe’s family, but evidently I did.

Just like prior seasons Justified is entertaining to watch. This time however the story is three factions and the mixing between them. One of them is of course our main star Raylen Givens, the tough Federal Marshall. The second is Boyd Crowder and his crew (which I am just as entertained if not more so by Boyd as by Raylan). The third and final is Dewey Crowe’s family… and they were entertaining.

The backstabbing is upped a notch, the violence is pretty intense and the white knuckle moments are still there. It is true, that other than Boyd and Raylan, none of the new characters measure up to Margo Martindale (yes I am still beating her drum), but they were definitely entertaining.

Oh, and Wynne Duffy seemed to be in it more this season and I approve of more Mr. Duffy.

Pros: Still great acting and writing. .

Cons: Still no Margo Martindale, other than that things were great.

The final Season 6 is in the queue.

The Punisher (Season 1)

It is my second favorite Netflix Marvel series, following closely behind Jessica Jones.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. The acting is good, the action is fairly steady with a couple of slow points, the direction seems done well. Overall it sits right about where I had hoped on those points.

The series is unique with Punisher and Jessica Jones (and to a lesser extent Luke Cage)as they all were stories that don’t need to even address they are about superheroes. They would stand up alone as stories without powers (much like this year’s Logan).

Having grown up with Vietnam Vets (who were also outlaw MC members) I saw a lot of PTSD upfront and personal. There were nights of explosive violence, resulting in police, jail and hospital emergency rooms.

Other times I saw them drink themselves stupid, cry and break down.

Mostly I just saw them bury it all inside of themselves, causing them to lose jobs, significant others, and get in trouble with the police. They couldn’t fit back into society, and society didn’t want them.

That connection with the Punisher is what felt real for me. More so then a blind lawyer who fought criminals or much worse some punk rich douchebag filled with so much privilege that he whined about everything. Sure there was gratuitous violence, slow parts, all that. However, the story of a man trying to figure out how to get through after the things he  has done was heart stopping for me.

Pros: Great acting, directing, blah blah blah. Most importantly something I could connect with from my life.

Cons: It did get a bit slow and bloated in the middle.

Sign me up for Season 2.

Banshee (Season 1 and 2)

edit note: Originally this was just for season 1, but season 2 is pretty much the same so I will use it for both.

I honestly don’t know where I stand on this show. I do like part of it, but it can be problematic in other areas so its hard to get a solid feeling.

Let’s be honest, this show is a male power fantasy. An ex-con who is a badass prison fighter takes the identity of a sheriff in order to put himself near his old girlfriend and get her to come back to him… after fifteen years. With an Ukrainian mob boss coming after them.

The premise is an old one, but they have some twists in it I like (such as the characters Sugar and Job). The main character “Hood” sleeps with almost everyone (spoiler alert, by season 2 it becomes all).

The first season doesn’t pass the Bechdel test easily. All three women characters (Rebecca, the Amish/bad girl, Ana the ex-girlfriend and Siobhan the deputy) revolve around Hood and I don’t recall in the first season them talking to each other. The only break in the Bechdel test is Ana and her daughter talking, but not sure if that satisfies it for me enough.

I do have to say with this being a Cinemax production that there is a lot of sex that goes with the violence (I think on per episode is the formula). I am surprised though, only one time did it show a woman trying to perform oral sex on the guy and he kind of pushes the woman away, then multiple times it showed a man going down on a woman. That was a very pleasant surprise. Most male power fantasies never show positive sexual interactions for women, but this show does do that.

Other than that, there are some bad ideas… No you aren’t automatically a badass because you are a good prison fighter. Yes, they should eventually figure out you aren’t who you say you are. Oh, and the absolute worst was Ana trying to push away Hood constantly and being fairly horrible to him after he saved her daughter multiple times.

The most negative aspect is the constant attempted sexual assault on women. They don’t ever get away with it, the women (or someone else) usually stops it and gives the assaulters their just desserts. The problem is that its constant and is something the writers reach for every time they want a stressful event for a woman. Bad writing.

Pros: Interesting  story, acting isn’t too bad and the sex scenes are fairly good for a power fantasy.

Cons: Constant use of attempted rape as an event. Lazy writing and too much unbelievableness.

Given all that, I still will watch second season, but from the first episode I am not sure if I will be this generous next review.

Justified (Season 4)

This is absolutely my favorite season as we get to see Boyd Crowder coming back, along with Wynn Duffy and of course Givens.

The writing and acting are still good, nothing to complain about at all. The new story arc isn’t probably the most imaginative, but the whole completed story arc between Raylan and his dad Arlo is absolutely the most gritty real feeling to it.

Pros: Still great acting and writing, but I will be sad to see some of the cast not returning.

Cons: Frustrated with some plot things and how people got treated, but we can’t have everything we want.

 

The Americans (Season 4)

This is sadly the first season I have seen that has slid backwards.

The acting is still great, so no problems there. However the storylines were a lot less interesting. Maybe its because the renowned character actress Margo Martingale didn’t have as big an influence this season.

Let me say that Frank Langella was a high point in the season. He is older now, but still able to push through with his acting and make me feel like he is a real person.

The low points came once again with Paige, the daughter. Now that they have told her who they are, they waffle around telling her no when she throws temper tantrums. That whole situation sucks and I try and fast forward sometimes through those scenes.

The other areas overall was Phillip’s fascination with EST, and more focus on the Rezidentura. None of those were entertaining and I don’t really care to know the people.

Pros: Frank Langella is still keeping it real.

Cons: Slower stories with no payoff, and the whole daughter situation. Can we please move on yet?

 

The Americans (Season 3)

I should just slap my review for season 2 here, but multiply everything by five.

The story is still really good. The writers are obviously hitting their strider. Phillip and Elizabeth are even more interesting to watch, along with Frank Langella who is back as a handler for them.

During the season it covers how Nina may be able to get out of prison in Russia, Stan deals with his divorce and with both Phillip and Elizabeth pushing back and forth over what to tell Paige.

While everything positive is great, I am absolutely hating the Paige stuff. That was almost enough for me to stop watching. Her fits may be “teen” for tv, but in my experience in hard circumstances that would have been done by now.

Pros: writing, most of the acting (honestly all of the acting) and just overall still getting better.

Cons: The angst has been kicked up to an 11 for the teenager… Not liking that.