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Riverdale stages a dramatic escape from coherence Riverdale stages a dramatic escape from coherence

I should probably start this review by saying up front that I am on a lot medication and recovering from surgery... so I am in the perfect headspace to enjoy a Riverdale episode that includes an extended prison break sequence, Veronica putting Hiram out of commission by stomping on his foot, and Cheryl doing a William…

In the end, the real Maniac was the mostly conventional friends we made along the way In the end, the real Maniac was the mostly conventional friends we made along the way

Like Annie and Owen’s trip to Salt Lake City, the actual destination of Maniac feels less important than the fact that we went on the journey in the first place. The psychological issues the pair were dealing with, and the overarching stories about their respective families, were more of a delivery mechanism for goofy…

Maniac's picture of the human mind becomes a bit too alien for comfort Maniac's picture of the human mind becomes a bit too alien for comfort

“Utangatta” follows in a long TV tradition of having the climactic action of a season happen in the penultimate episode. In the guise of the final reflection, a NATO summit where the assembled countries (including Russia, for some reason) debate what to do about a possible alien invasion, Owen risks everything to save…

Maniac puts everything in place for its endgame in the best episode of the season Maniac puts everything in place for its endgame in the best episode of the season

It wouldn’t surprise me if “Ceci N’est Pas Une Drill” and “The Lake Of The Clouds” really were written as a two-parter; these episodes feel like a bit of a throwback to an older era of genre series doing longer stories. (Mostly, I’m thinking of the first few seasons of the 2000s Doctor Who, but there are a lot of…

A taut episode of Maniac starts to turn on the literal magic A taut episode of Maniac starts to turn on the literal magic

“Ceci N’est Pas Une Drill” starts to get at a topic that could be a really fascinating, compelling kernel for Maniac: the way we use the stability of genre as a coping mechanism. For the most part, genre conventions are consistent, even across stories that seek to subvert those tropes. A mob story includes cases of…

Maniac has a Field day as Dr. Mantleray finally confronts his mother Maniac has a Field day as Dr. Mantleray finally confronts his mother

Goofy Maniac is back, and it’s got some momentum. “Larger Structural Issues” starts to set up the likely endgame of the season—GRTA taking control of the study while the C pills induce even wackier reflections, as Owen and Annie are forced to actually confront their issues—and the necessary place-setting, which might…

Maniac heads to the 1940s for some more song and dance Maniac heads to the 1940s for some more song and dance

At one point during their attempted heist, Ollie—Owen’s incarnation in the 1940s setting of “Exactly Like You”—turns to Annie’s incarnation, Arlie. He asks her, “Do you ever think your condition is a lot simpler than you think?” He’s asking about their relationship: In this world the two were married, then separated,…

Maniac should maybe just be about Justin Theroux jerking off Maniac should maybe just be about Justin Theroux jerking off

This is the first episode of Maniac where I really feel like I have a firm handle on the tone: This is a dark comedy, through and through, starting from the beginning moments of the episode when one of the orderlies tells the drug trial subjects, “You waived ethics on your consent form.” (Oops!) It’s not that it…

A sisterly subplot shines on Maniac’s second episode A sisterly subplot shines on Maniac’s second episode

The second episode of Maniac picks up parallel to the first, tracking the events that led Annie to the drug trial where the primary action of the series starts. Is there a reason these two episodes are separate, rather than weaving Annie and Owen’s lives together? By the end of “Windmills,” I’d forgotten why I cared…

Maniac’s first episode suffers from the Netflix condition Maniac’s first episode suffers from the Netflix condition

Not everything is as it seems, but some things are.

It's time for a joyous wedding and a tense family reunion as Steven Universe is "Reunited" It's time for a joyous wedding and a tense family reunion as Steven Universe is "Reunited"

With this arc, a ton of 150 episodes’ worth of Steven Universe storylines are starting to pay off in real, seemingly final ways—or if not final, then at least something close to it. Bringing long-running stories to a satisfactory conclusion is hard on series with 22- and 42-minute episodes; it’s even harder with 11.…

Steven Universe has a tender, clarifying reconciliation with an old friend Steven Universe has a tender, clarifying reconciliation with an old friend

A wedding is a pretty damn good setting for some Steven Universe comedy. As “Made Of Honor” kicks off, everyone is trying to pull together to plan Ruby and Sapphire’s wedding, working off an enormous binder Steven has been compiling over the course of his whole life. It’s very sweet to see Pearl get excited about the…

Steven Universe helps Ruby find herself and ask "The Question" Steven Universe helps Ruby find herself and ask "The Question"

Part of the difficulty with Ruby-Sapphire stories is that, of necessity, they both feel a little smaller than the rest of the Gems—after all, we mostly relate to them as half of Garnet. That means that it’s easy for their characterization to feel reductive, like they both need to be slotted into roles that explain…

Steven gets in Amethyst's head on a melancholy, funny Steven Universe Steven gets in Amethyst's head on a melancholy, funny Steven Universe

There’s a reason Amethyst is the only Gem Steven has fused with so far—they have a lot in common, and their relationship is much more equitable than Steven’s relationships with Garnet and Pearl. These similarities have been repeatedly teased out in episodes like “Steven Vs. Amethyst,” eventually forming basis for one…

Steven Universe finds itself torn as the Crystal Gems try to process new information Steven Universe finds itself torn as the Crystal Gems try to process new information

Rose Quartz actually being Pink Diamond is easily the most important piece of Steven Universe backstory we’ve learned since season one—and where for most of the first season, it was just Steven (and the viewers) who didn’t know much about the history of the Crystal Gems, here, everyone is finding out at the same time.…

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