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IR TV Review: THE CHI – EPISODE 2 (“Brewfurd”) [Showtime-S3]

The personification of masks both for professional and personal gain take on a sense of irony in Episode 2 of the 3rd season of “the Chi” entitled “Brewfurd”. Running in the background is the disappearance of a daughter of a couple at the end of the last episode. The interweaving story lines play in an interrelated form jumping in the matter of slice of life. One moves in getting ahead even in a neighborhood that seems focused on cutting through dreams. Another idea that keeps revolving is what necessitates the greater good despite question decisions or perceptions. A would-be businessman has dreams but is fronting a business that he has no talent for beyond the dream of it…but he has the ambition. He tries to recruit talent because he believes that this will make his business thrive and grow. He doesn’t understand that people see through his front. On the other side, his mother is too honest and in being her true self makes him front again when he should learn from her example. This essence of a hypocritical nature shows him on a path of burning brought but maybe losing all of what is behind him including his family.

On the other end is a man who has come back home to save his baby half-brother from what he got away from. What is interestingly unbalanced and well perceived is his own relationship which walks the boundary of identity, love and masks. He sees the line and can’t help what he feels but can’t come to terms with it in a real way beyond the surface. Unlike some of his peers, he is not a violent man but might be pushed to that level. The silent tome running in the background shows a man who is homeless and has a simmering facade compounded with rage that speaks to a darkness that has been seen before. “The Chi” is always effective in creating a pressure cooker situation where the characters are just trying to live their lives. Some of it is just coming of age. Others are matters of life and death. Whereas the last episode was anchored by a funeral, “Brewfurd” is about living life, whatever problems it might throw against the characters. The results are a matter of choice and consequence, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

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By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: DIRTY JOHN – THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY – EPISODE 5 (“Scream Therapy”) [USA]

The further detriment that visits Betty Broderick in the wake of her husband breaking down her resolve reveals something nihilistic in the bran of Dan Broderick. The essence of his two faced conniving personifications to his ex-wife maybe are meant to be a reflection of America at the time. With Episode 5 of “Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story”, “Scream Therapy”, the progression of Betty’ s path to possible redemption which skews to a wanton path of destruction is undeniable. Even without full support, she almost finds her way almost to balanced ground. There is however an imbalance and lack of control. The downfall is not primarily or even remotely her fault. it is a world bought out of Dan’s belief that he is right. He only admits at one point in an earlier episode that he is wrong and what is interesting there is that he seems almost on a mission to show that he was not. It as if his truth was a victory when in actually it shows that she is the victor but she doesn’t have the tools or a feeling of focused vengeance…hers is uncontrolled. Dan Broderick’s new girlfriend has her own issues (as she displayed in an earlier situation). Her parents didn’t want her to be a homewrecker but she is just worried what the outside thinks. Once she is inside the den, she doesn’t care. At a certain point inside a therapist’s office Betty asks that question in “Is anybody else asking about the well being of the children but me?” It is a dark place that Betty exists with no money, and no support. Even worse there are summons against her because she cannot control her rage. While it is a hopeful element that she might be able to find a power base, she makes small understandable mistakes that undermine er position.

The situation is vicious and immovable. It is a tale of love lost and love rebuked. As much as Dan does, Betty still harbors some love for him which is why it makes no sense to her as to why he would shun and destroy her so. This series has been dramatized but it is hard to think that someone would be this cruel to the mother of his children and then manipulate their minds (especially one son) into the idea that his mother was always disturbed. This is, of course, a reflection back to code cinema in certain ways of the metaphor of what is right just because society deems an action at the time as acceptable as long as it is swept under the carper. However in the modern age it might be a Shakespearean metaphor on the inherent unfairness that reigns in some circles. “Scream Therapy” is just that: the continuation of Betty’s maddening decent into oblivion is based not so much on her mistakes but her blindness to the lousy and cruel person her husband has become. Slater plays that darkness as light for all its worth and that is part of the charm of why the character can continue to function. But like the title namesake of “Mr. Robot”, Slate understands the necessity of a villain as the dark specter who simply turns the knob a little but more against his opponent each time.

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By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: PENNY DREADFUL – CITY OF ANGELS – EPISODE 9 (“Sing Sing Sing”) [Showtime]

The aspect of acceptance and continuing are a blend on the idea of what can be and what is inevitable. Does the texture of possibility allow for fate to be changed or is it simply the human endeavor. Is it the crux of fate or whether life turns out the way it is supposed to be or where life sets itself. With Episode 10 of Penny dreadful City Of Angels entitled “Sing Sing Sing,” it is about this collision of life converting on a single place. In this episode without giving too much away, it is The Crimson Cat which was the pinnacle of energy in the series as the focal point. It is the swing music club in the heart of Chicano territory Like The Gym in “West Side Story”, it is the place where one sees all the colors flying through but the emotions played in one structure. While the flow is not as vivacious as that earlier episode, the character work that is done in one specific scene is undeniable. Without giving too much away, it revolves around to identity and family and how that changes over time. This dynamic is very rich but there is always strife right behind it. The secondary stories in the episode are still chumming along but the aspect of acceptance in the reverse is a double edged sword (which is what is playing out on the flip side). This is true, without giving anything away in the inter-cutting because of the kettle that is brewing.

But what is interesting is that there is a moment’s hesitation from one of the key characters, a slip in the fabric. The aspect of coincidence as it builds to The Crimson is undeniable. While it works well, there is a slight bit of magic missing from that earlier episode, a sense of the cinematic. but the characters were in different places. Forgiveness and acceptance are the backbones here now and what can be believed. Faith and a sense of duty is an interesting conundrum for the Vega family. As much as the Goddess Of Darkness wants to pull them apart, there is a sense of decency to them. The problem is that too much pressure leads to an spark point which this episode does have. One very nice coda plays in a small scene of one of the titans of LA. His perspective gives a voice to the actuality of what is going on, supernatural or not. Progress , good or bad, is inevitable…and whoever wins is dependent on a sense of worth and will.

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By Tim Wassberg

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