Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
Already have an account? Log in here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
No user info supplied.
For their first ever television series, Netflix knocked it out of the park with House of Cards... for the first two seasons. Sadly, the third season is where the writing begin to get shaky and it only continues fluctuating (mostly downward) as the series progresses. The obvious discrepancy and flaw here: Remy Danton. Dare I say, Mahershala Ali's performance as Remy was on par with Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as Francis and Claire Underwood, respectively, but the way that he is written in this season is lazy at best. Gone is the whip-smart, calculating, sophisticated lobbyist and here to replace him is the wooden, myopic, dumb Chief of Staff to the US President. The radical change is surprisingly stark when you compare him to who he once was, and it's disappointing that the screenwriters destroyed a once-formidable and -complex character with insipid dialogue for no reason. All of that aside, Frank gets to experience the headaches and frustrations of trying to push signature legislation through Congress in order to begin writing his legacy while Russian president Viktor Petrov played by Lars Mikkelsen gives him a run for his money while playing on the grand chessboard. Season three ends up being largely enthralling and a captivating look at the political drama of how the Underwood administration gets the sausage made both in Washington DC and abroad.
The first two seasons of Occupied were good, dare I say great; it wasn't a masterful piece of political intrigue à la House of Cards seasons one through five, but it weaved a tale of "What If" with real life events (the 2014 Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea) in such a way that, as you watch people's lives slowly being irrevocably altered by events going on around them, you come to believe that it could happen; and it helps put into perspective the rational European fear of the ever-looming Russian Empire in the 18th century all the way to the Russian Federation in the 21st. That being said, the third season largely fell flat. As an example, it didn't feel plausible that Jesper Berg, the Norwegian prime minister, could suddenly go from a bumbling-politician-turned-freedom-fighter-in-exile in the first two seasons to being a ruthless political mastermind in the same vein as Petyr Baelish from Game of Thrones. Likewise, the European Union's strong sway if not outright manipulation of a non-member country like Norway seemed unbelievable especially once Russian forces were expelled. Speaking of which, Russia itself felt oddly bland: the government itself was represented by the expertly manipulative ambassador Irina Sidorova, but once the Kremlin loses faith in her and she's fired, it becomes a rudderless and faceless oligarchy floating through the story; likewise, quite a bit of time is spent in Russia itself, but we're led to believe that everyone lives in posh hotels and eats at Michelin three-star restaurants as that's only what we're allowed to see, so the character of the country itself is boring, lacks nuance, and is culturally sterile. The ending feels rushed as not all of the plot points are wrapped up, and I write this without sarcasm and exaggeration, the final scene is an overt endorsement of eco-terrorism directed at you, the audience. So if you've watched the previous seasons and you have some free time, flip a coin if you're possibly interested in watching how it all ends, but don't expect to walk away remotely satisfied.
Foregoing the excessive examples of the writers having characters forcibly act vapid, vomit hamfisted political messages, or quasi-break the fourth wall with thinly veiled anti-Trump dog whistling that's concurrently hypocritical and cringe-inducing, seasons 7 picks up where season 6's stupidity ended. Peter Quinn's role as do-it-all CIA assassin is filled by a tabula rasa called Thomas Anson, Dar Adal is practically non-existent as well as his fascinating dichotomous relationship with Saul Berenson, and Carrie Mathison's bipolar disorder becomes a major plot point YET AGAIN. Elizabeth Marvel's acting as Elizabeth Keane is authentic and intimidating yet sympathetic and commanding of respect, but it's a shame that the screenwriters penned Keane as an unrealistically naive and myopic politician; Jake Weber as a discount and farcical version of Alex Jones named Brett O'Keefe is like watching a shopping cart being pushed down a mountain due to his wildly varying accents and stilted delivery; the remainder of the new additions to the cast phone it in so as to "earn" a paycheck, use a dying series that's circling the drain as a bullet point in their resumes, and fill one-dimensional roles (e.g. the useful idiot, the McGuffin as a person, the bad guy). In addition to not knowing how to compose political scenarios that don't rely upon real-life, the writers forgot how to coherently pen their own TV show: Will Dunn is Maggie's husband who finally makes an appearance despite her being around since season 1 and only mentioning him in passing during season 4; Maggie's children are Josie and Ruby, but only Josie is shown or mentioned despite Carrie even stating in this season that she has two nieces; the method of caring for Carrie's mental illness changes yet again; Carrie lives at Maggie's house yet again but is inconsistently chastised for her odd schedule, inability to fulfill basic promises, and impotence to care for her child; Ivan Krupin ends up becoming an forcefully contrived version of Chekhov's buried gun. Without spoiling the plot any more than I already have or diving into the countless superfluous scenes, the season's resolution directly contravenes the climax with an unneeded, undesired, and unsatisfying deus ex machina. Please bring back the writers for the first three seasons.
From the get-go, I confess that it took me a full season of watching the Blacklist to see past many of the gross discrepancies between the series' world and the real world (e.g. a US executive agency arbitrarily ignoring the Constitution, Aram's hodgepodge of IT words/acronyms/phrases that are dumbed down at best and wrong at worst, how everyone knows about a FBI black site and anyone can casually walk in, etc.), but once I did, the second and third seasons were a treat. Season four took a slight downturn, but it wasn't enough to blunt my enjoyment.
Season five is where the fun comes to an end.
In the previous seasons, there was at least some veneer of passion behind the writing; now, it is borne out of laziness. Numerous examples can be found:
- Reddington's fall from the pinnacle of the criminal underworld in season four was done well, but his climb back up to the top in season five is all payoff and no setup. Where is his character's struggle? He spent over 30 years building a criminal empire that spanned the globe, and while all of that was destroyed in the previous season, he goes from pauper living out of a motel back to his previous status as infamous super-criminal in under a year. Without any setup to the payoff, his state as a temporarily embarrassed millionaire is more like a glitch in the Matrix than a character arc and, ironically, feels cheap.
- Keen's character becomes an absolute farce. I was never her biggest fan, but she had some spunk going for her and I enjoyed her character's story in previous seasons. Now, she apparently has selective amnesia and malleable morals all while wearing blinders to the monster that she becomes. If she ever went to the Olympics, she would win gold for her mental gymnastics, and all of this becomes concurrently distracting and frustrating for anyone who consistently watches the show.
- Ham-fisted political messaging, virtue signaling, and dog whistling were non-existent in the first three seasons, made a small splash in season four (e.g. Samar's pay discrepancy temper tantrum in "Natalie Luca"), and now have arrived to be forced down your throat regardless of your political leanings. From mollycoddling illegal aliens ("The Kilgannon Corporation") to soft-peddling and muddying the issue of child brides ("Anna-Gracia Duerte") to laying it on thick with the US-Mexico border wall ("Pattie Sue Edwards"), it's there and in your face. Do you want a scene set in the South with an unarmed "alt-right" group of "neo-Nazi" "xenophobes" "hiding good old-fashioned fascism behind a lot of America-first doublespeak" (note: if you're unable to pull apart all four phrases and understand the ideological differences and overlaps (of which there are more of the former), you won't understand what I'm getting at) getting gunned down by Reddington while a Confederate flag hangs in the background ("Anna-Gracia Duerte")? Too bad, you poor flyover state rubes are getting it as told by coastal elites. Have a healthy bit of skepticism and some questions about global warming yet don't enjoy being called a "climate-change denier" ("Lawrence Dane Devlin")? You get where I'm going here.
- *Minor* plot hole: Jennifer immediately recognizes Reddington as her father and tells him as such despite him not recognizing her after 30 years ("Ian Garvey: Conclusion") yet she becomes convinced by a DNA test given to her by Keen, someone she barely knows, that the bones belong to the real Reddington ("Sutton Ross"). Please explain that.
James Spader and Harry Lennix's acting continues to be great but far from enough to keep this season above water. The series should have stopped at the end of season four.