Big Nate – “Time Disruptors” (S1E7, Paramount+)
“Time Disruptors” is the first episode of Big Nate to fall a little short for both the Salvatore kids and their dad. Sure, the “Charter School Girl” song is an instant classic, a sort of mellower step-child to the Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl,” but the rest of the episode felt rushed in a way that the first six episodes did not. Francis, one of the least utilized members of Nate’s crew, starts tutoring, and falling for, a girl at the local charter school, and his friends accuse him of being a turncoat.
While I appreciated the ‘snobs vs slobs’ plot, and enjoyed the subtle jabs at the whole idea of vouchers and lotteries determining what school a child attends, the charter school kids are painted with a uniformly shallow brush, and aside from the opulence of their school, there isn’t really anything to sink your teeth into in terms of a rivalry. And if that was the point – Nate and co. are making a mountain out of a mole hill – that would’ve been a fine episode. But then the charter kids are made into these maniacal villains, and the whole process went from a small, cute story to something way too big and broad, without the dependable laughs that this show is known for.
Both of my kids were confused and creeped out by the appearance of “Corn Girl,” a sort of demonic creature that seems to haunt Francis. I won’t spoil who it turns out to be, but that plot point also seemed a little undercooked. This feels like a story that could’ve been threaded across the entire season, or at least across a few episodes, allowing the romance and resentment to grow, instead of everything happening in just 25ish minutes. – The Salvatores
Doctor Who – “Legend of the Sea Devils” (S2022E2, BBC)
Read our full review of the newest Doctor Who special by Kate Kosturski.
Heartstopper – “Meet” (S1E1, NETFLIX)
Read our full review of the season premiere by Christopher Chiu-Tabet.
Heartstopper – “Crush” (S1E2, Netflix)
Nick and Charlie have a whole conversation over text about protecting him from Ben, where it becomes apparent to Charlie Nick is pretty much straight. Tao informs him he heard through the grapevine that Nick has a crush on a girl at Elle’s school, named Tara (Corinna Brown). Elle, who befriends Tara in this chapter, learns her best friend Darcy (Kizzy Edgell) is actually her girlfriend, and enthusiastically lets the boys know there’s no way Nick x Tara is happening.
In the meantime, Nick invites Charlie over so he can hang out with his dog, Nellie, and the trio wind up frolicking outside when it unexpectedly snows. Nick finds himself drawn to Charlie, and winds up getting mocked by his mates for texting him too much. When he visits Charlie’s home, he finds himself drawn to holding his hand when he falls asleep on the sofa, and hugs him a little too long when he leaves. Eventually, after much reluctance, he decides to search the phrase, “Am I gay?”
Song of the episode: “Why Am I Like This?” by Orla Gartland. – Christopher Chiu-Tabet
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe – “Divided We Stand” (S2E6, NETFLIX)
“Divided We Stand” feels like a summary of the entire season, not just episode 6 of the second season of our favorite He-Man reboot. The team is still not all together and they are all dealing with their own character-building missions. Ram Girl and King Stratos find themselves on a mission to find the source of the gem stuck in her head and it gives us an opportunity to become more sympathetic towards her plight. She’s daddy’s girl and just wants a connection with him. King Stratos is actually the perfect connection for this journey as we get to know him a little better through his disconnect with society. Ram Girl has always been a bit of the outsider in the group and Stratos fits in with her as a duo.
There is some pretty cool action and this episode veers slightly into the horror genre as there is a really creepy spider monster Stratos has to battle, while Orco the Great manages to possess the robot guards. The fun of it all is this show is we get to blend genres depending on the episode, and as this episode takes place at night it’s a perfect opportunity to see what creepy crawlies live in the universe.Continued below
For this episode there is not much plot development, but there is definitely character development galore. He-Man admits that he wants to build a relationship with his father who he just got back, while Teela argues with him because she too wants her connection with her spirit guide. Meanwhile Man-E Faces is forced to face the music back home (pun not intended) to see if he will be accepted for who he is. It’s nice to see him build his own inner confidence as the episode plays out.
The rest of the characters mostly play supporting roles and we end with a nice little cliffhanger to make us want to finish the series. – Henry Finn
Moon Knight – “The Tomb” (S1E4, Disney+)
What really jumped out at me about this ep, was how deeply it sits in that action/adventure genre. So much time here is spent deciphering ancient puzzles and jumping across rocky ledges, it makes me wonder how they’d actually handle another season or a film. Do you keep sending Marc around the world until the novelty expires, or do you just dovetail into the classic urban fist fighting Moon Knight and leave the swashbuckling behind straight away? Obviously the end of the episode proves they’re willing to try something a little different. Speaking of variety, the camera work continues to stun, this time with a really elegant use of camera mirroring to show the transition between alters, it really works that they’re not using the same visual device every time.
As mentioned before, this seemed like the episode most determined to be a Tomb Raider homage; but with all that classic Da Vinci Code architectural shenanigans comes more exposition than any average viewer can swallow. Even Layla rock climbing felt like a quick time event out of an Uncharted game. The problem as well, is that the constant dialogue was never actually direct enough to build anything memorable, we got one of the first real confirmations of Marc Spector’s backstory here, but because it’s wedged into the middle of another topic, halfway through an argument, with no visuals to prop it up, the whole thing just becomes a muddled confusion. That said there were diamonds amongst all that rough, Steven sticking his whole arm down the throat of Alexander the Great being the most notable one. Plus, I think the love triangle between Steven, Marc and Layla is a genuinely compelling one when it could have easily fallen flat on its arse, the shared overlap between Steven and Marc is a great source of moral gray, and gives the writers a lot of open opportunity. It’s very similar to Denis Villenueve’s Enemy, which is always a flattering comparison.
Ultimately my issues with “The Tomb” amount to its being another stubbornly plot-driven episode in a series that refuses to give its characters enough time to fill their role. There’s so much character work to dig through if you want to get a fully compelling version of this character, but it’s all been disregarded in favor of Archaeology Wars. It’s why the end of the episode, even if it’s not the most inspired choice, feels really promising. We get so many great character moments packed into this small chunk, with Marc and Steven getting to actually hug and physically interact for the first time, with Steven even being the trigger to make Marc lucid from his surreal psychosis.
It’s just such a perfect reveal, with Marc dying in the tomb (maybe not for the first time?) and us getting this cut-away to the origins of Steven Grant as a TV character, alluding to his Hollywood backstory. It’s a real smart subconscious building block for the character. I spoke in my piece on the first episode about the influence of Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood’s “Moon Knight” on the show’s cinematography, which feels fitting now given the full plot dovetail into the first arc of that run. The only real departure is the decision to set the episode in a violently modern hospital with outdated Freudian practices, which feels like the least interesting of both options. Still, it does lead to some fun set design and it doesn’t seem like the hospital will really be the focus for the next episode. I just find it funny when you have a cerebral sequence like this where the ‘abstract’ art on the wall is covered in eyes and pyramids, truly the essence of subtlety.Continued below
We also got a Hippopotamus woman at the end of this episode, which is neat. At the end of Loki episode 4 we got Hugh Grant Loki and the whole world beyond time, but this is fun too I guess. – James Dowling
Riverdale – “Chapter 105: Folk Heroes” (S6E10, The CW)
Read our full review by Elias Rosner.
Star Trek: Picard – “Mercy” (S2E8, Paramount+)
Picard and Guinan are “interviewed” by Agent Wells (Jay Karnes), who believes the admiral is an alien attempting to sabotage the Europa Mission. Wells plays good cop, telling Picard his superiors will murder and dissect him if he doesn’t cooperate. Guinan is taken out of the room briefly, and encounters Q (disguised as another fed), whom she realizes is dying. Q essentially explains he’s evolving, ascending, but it means he will no longer interact with this mundane dimension, and it infuriates him.
Something Q says causes Guinan to reach out to Picard telepathically, to suggest he ask Wells about his past. Wells reveals that as a child, he had a traumatic encounter with aliens in the woods; disclosing his identity, Picard explains the aliens were Vulcans on a covert mission, and that they did not attack him, but were trying to erase his memory via a mind meld. Convinced Picard is here to save the world, Wells lets him go, even at the cost of his superiors firing him for “wasting” their time. Suffice to say, I really liked Wells: he reminds me of me as a boy, when Star Trek et al. seemed creepy and scary.
Meanwhile, Seven and Raffi discover the Queen/Jurati has murdered a man she was unable to assimilate after going home with him. They find her, and she nearly kills Raffi, but the thought of killing a friend presumably proves too much for Jurati, and she lets her go. Over at the Soong residence, Q provides Kore with a cure for her condition, allowing her to leave the house after confronting her father over his lies. The Queen arrives to find Adam drowning his sorrows in alcohol, and explains to him the great path that awaits him in one future; he just needs to help her stop Renee Picard from discovering alien life. Adam agrees, providing her the resources to assimilate a group of mercenaries. Cripes: well, at least Rios and Teresa finally kissed this week. – Christopher Chiu-Tabet