Welcome to Last Night on TV, our daily column that looks back at what happened on television the night before. If we’re going to stay up all night and watch TV, we might as well talk about it the next morning.
Last night on TV, Alisha Grauso checks in on the unofficial third part of the Legends of Tomorrow pilot; Neil Miller continues to be effortlessly entertained by You, Me and The Apocalypse; and Christopher Campbell once again pairs Top Chef with Portlandia for a delicious Thursday meal.
Legends of Tomorrow
Alisha Grauso: This week’s episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, “Blood Ties,” felt a little odd at first, more like an unofficial third part of the two-part pilot. The team still found itself in the ’70s this week – for a show that’s all about time traveling, they sure haven’t done any of it to this point. But with such a large ensemble cast, and with brand-new characters and others that have barely been explored, it’s understandable they’d still be setting the stage and introducing us to the characters. Better too much character development than not enough. And so far, that’s something that Legends is doing quite well. Ensemble shows on this scale often risk the audience feeling as if a few characters are interchangeable or lacking in personality (I’m eyeballing you, Supergirl). But each of the characters is being fleshed out in his or her own way and forming distinct enough personalities and backstories so that it genuinely feels like a team of wildly different individuals learning how to coexist. And to this point, none of them feel like stock characters, another pitfall into which ensemble shows can fall.
We saw new configurations of small pairings teaming up to tackle individual parts of the job, and this week it was Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) and Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) who started to gel as Rip decided to go after Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) where it hurt him most – his financial assets. I was sensing a bit of possible romantic connection between Captain Cold and White Canary the last few episodes, but this episode made me wonder if there will be a future love connection forming between Sara and Rip. They had really great chemistry in this episode, and you get the sense that, while Rip respects everyone on the team – mostly – he feels a real kinship toward her.
But, once again, it was Wentworth Miller as Leonard Snart, a.k.a. Captain Cold that pretty much stole the show this week. Any time he’s chewing scenery on screen has, thus far, been the highlight of the first few episodes. His lazy, snarky insouciance is wildly entertaining, but it belies a depth of emotion to plumb in the character. Last night’s episode gave us our first real peek beneath that shell at the vulnerability beneath, and Miller played it to perfection. But time travel being what it is, last night’s episode was a sad reminder for Snart that time is immutable and a timeline from the past will always find a way to self-correct – even if it means that you have to watch your father, as your younger self, head to prison all over again.
As for our villain, Crump finally started to show flashes of menace in Vandal Savage, who, to this point, has just not been particularly compelling as the most terrifying, magnetic villain in history. Hopefully, he continues to get better. Sadly, I still don’t care much about the Hawk people, though hopefully Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renee) comes into her own soon.
One last note: This was FINALLY the episode that people have been waiting for, where Rip Hunter drops the line, “I have seen Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall.” It was a very cool nod to the larger DC universe though felt a little odd as its sister shows, The Flash and Arrow, haven’t had any awareness of or interest in Superman or Batman to this point. Whee, sketchy continuity! But hey, who cares? Legends is shaping up to be an extremely entertaining show and this was a solid episode that will hopefully serve as the launchpad to them traveling to another time in next week’s episode.
You, Me and The Apocalypse
Neil Miller: First, a couple of admissions about You, Me and The Apocalypse. These are important. Last week I incorrectly identified the opening episode as a pilot. The show was picked up in entirety as a 10-episode miniseries. Thank you to our readers for pointing that out and not being dicks about it. Second, the woman with the swastika on her head is Megan Mullally. That slipped by me last week, but became vibrantly clear this week. Perhaps I was too overwhelmed by Rob Lowe as a priest or the fact that holy shit, Jenna Fischer is back on TV. I will do my best to be more attentive in the future.
This week we learned how to embrace the chaos a bit, thanks to a jovial performance from Joel Fry, previously known for being a real stick-in-the-mud on Game of Thrones. The Teen Wolf car-surfing sequence is something that would probably end up happening to me during the apocalypse, though I’m sure I’d be the one driving. These are the kinds of gags that make You, Me and The Apocalypse fun along the way to wherever these characters’ destinations are. Considering the pre-credits sequence, it seems unlikely that everyone is going to make it into the bunker. But you just never know.
What’s clear is that the show has crafter characters who are worth spending some time with. Creepy Priest Rob Lowe is fun. Mullally and Fischer are a solid duo. And this week Joel Fry and Mathew Baynton were a strong pair. If the dynamics continue to be interesting, the show will continue to be worth watching. It’s a breezy Thursday night jaunt and even though as of yet, it has nothing to say, it seems to be warming up nicely.
Christopher Campbell: I’m not sure why the cheftestants always get so excited for Restaurant Wars, since it looks so hard, but the reason we like to watch this Top Chef tradition is it’s the easiest to relate to. Even if we’ve never worked in a restaurant before, and even if we’ve never had any sort of service industry experience let alone management job of any kind, we can have an idea of how we’d have executed things differently. Every other week, we can’t relate to the cooking and certainly can’t taste the dishes for ourselves. With Restaurant Wars, though, we can respond with what we’d call our business and how our dining room would look and especially how we would run the front of house. Better.
This season, it’s great that the show is trying something new by having the teams do lunch and dinner. Obviously the main reason is so the judges can see everyone in the role of either executive chef or manager and nobody gets an easy pass for not cooking food. Still, there must have been some better way of executing the twofer so that last night’s episode didn’t just suddenly end without the regular satisfaction of a winner and loser. An episode of Top Chef without the judgment round is like being served shepherd’s pie and only being allowed to eat the mashed potatoes (sorry, that was the first food analogy that came to me).
By the time judges table comes around at the end of next week’s episode, we’re hardly going to remember how frustrating it was to watch Jeremy ignore his non-judge customers, as if doesn’t effect the overall dining ambiance on the other side of the wall. Only the dinner portion is really going to be fresh enough in our own judgments. Of course, the one team’s restaurant is still going to sound, by name, like it’s some sort of Hunger Games reference. Or sci-fi themed in general. Kwame was right (he’s the best). If there’s anything this cliff hanger truly left me in anticipation for, it’s a joke about that from Tom. Also, the prediction at this point is Isaac will be eliminated. Unless someone else really messes up in part 2.
Christopher Campbell: I could have watched a half hour of just Kyle MacLachlan as the mayor of Portland and the mustached mayor of Austin going back and forth on the phone telling each other to keep it weird. Or, better yet, a whole half hour of the Austin mayor’s video on what’s cool and what’s not cool. Strollers? Not cool! Intimidating cat? Not cool! I’m sure certain other members of the FSR team will appreciate the moving to Austin storyline even more than I do. But Fred’s time in FSR’s HQ city doesn’t last long. I felt silly for ever having shared an interest in moving to Nashville, Asheville or any “Shville,” and also abroad. I’m not a hipster, okay! I just want to go where people are into cool culture. Shaming? Not cool!
Meanwhile, Carrie’s still in her wanting to have a baby plot. The awkward sex with your best friend gag was pretty great, but I’m not sure I get why the mayor’s kids, who show up at her door embracing this new part of their family, were straight out of a 90s Sunny D commercial. I mean, they were still hilarious, but talk about keeping it weird. I did really love the whole wedding-like ceremony for Carrie to get her tubes tied. That’s a big commitment, just like marriage. We should all have more revelatory rites followed by a reception when we make such life-changing decisions. Here’s to the beginning of actual tubectomy and vasectomy parties happening soon in Portland and other hip cities.
What did you watch last night?