To keep you abreast of all that’s been happening on television–and there is so, so much–we’ve compiled five of the best moments featured this past week. This week emotions ran high, what with the literal high Jon Hamm and co. took on this week’s Mad Men, the emotional high we experienced on the Season Finale of ABC’s Scandal, as well as Kanye West’s polemic “New Slave” performance on SNL.
Scandal. The very word evokes the scintillating frenzy of gossip, deceit, sexual promiscuity and betrayal. Luckily, you can find all of this in last week’s season finale. The episode finds us back at Pope & Associates, with the gang recently discovering Billy Chambers, former Chief of Staff to the Vice President, has been the mole attempting to leak Defiance to the public, exposing President Fitz for rigging the Presidential Election. Quinn gets trigger-happy when delivering justice via an electric drill to Chambers when she and Huck suspect he stole the Cytron card containing the details on Defiance; Cyrus has a heart attack, Fitz shows off his “superpowers” to Olivia (good one, Fitz—so risqué), and David Rosen proves to be a competent locksmith. And on top of that, once everything resolves — Defiance cleared David Rosen, who’s made DC District Attorney, Chambers is locked up, and Olivia dons her white cowboy hat, — you’ll get some news that made me, along with the other eight people viewing the finale with me, scream so loud we began to sweat. More than one secret’s out, and we’ll have to wait for Season Three in the fall to see how it’ll all go down.
Kanye West temporarily dropped from the artistic sphere with his engagement to Kim Kardashian, but in this week’s SNL hosted by Ben Affleck, West revealed two new tracks from his upcoming LP Yeezus, “Black Skinhead” and “New Slave,” that without a doubt reestablish his position as one of the leading artists of our generation. “Black Skinhead” was performed over gritty projections of the three-headed beast Cerberus and — perhaps suggesting that he’s been made a beast within racist media — with West grunting, groaning, and even roaring in his raps. “New Slave” is nothing short of artistic brilliance, critiquing the prison industrial complex, structural socio-economic inequality, and an era of new slaves trapped within all-too-familiar and dehumanizing capitalist constraints. Visually arresting, dramatic, socially relevant and brilliantly executed, if these songs are at all verifiable indications of what’s to come of Yeezus (and why wouldn’t they?), we might find ourselves listening to one of the most engaging, controversial, and meaningful albums in recent years.
What what, in the butt? After the creative team at Sterling Cooper Draper Price Cutler Gleason and Chaough (phew) injected with a serum comprised of “some vitamin supplements” and a mysterious, undisclosed chemical mash, things quickly take a turn for the worse when Don’s unconscious begins to rehash a history of abuse and he completely loses sight of his work with Chevy. Even worse, we realize Don’s drug-induced psychosis causes him to leave the back door of his apartment open, leaving Sally, Bobby, and Jean vulnerable to a thief named Ida who breaks into their home. “The Crash” finds Don to be more than just a cheating husband, a stalker, and a negligent parent; he’s proving to be an increasingly incompetent worker. The episode also hints at more than just Don’s crash from the vitamin high and his collapse when he finally after days returns from work; the lies and cover-ups Don’s been holding onto his entire life are finally beginning to drive him insane, and perhaps to an untimely death.
Marc Maron’s comedy — and this new show — are often about real pain, and you get a sense of it in this scene in which he unleashes decades of pent-up anger and resentment. The show is also concerned with masculinity, and how men process that pain and express it to each other. There’s a conversation between Maron and Dennis Leary in the previous episode where Maron’s inability to stick up for himself becomes the basis of Leary’s pointed jabs — calling him a “pussy” repeatedly, then scoffing when Maron refuses to retort. This scene sets a precedent for the fight between Maron and his father; the scene also doesn’t give us the easy out of reconciliation: it’s resolved with either violence or insults. It’s the kind of thing that’s supposed to make you feel better, like a weight has been lifted, when it really hasn’t.
Princess Bubblegum has always been an independent, deeply thoughtful, and self-determined person. A scientist and an empiricist, she finds hard evidence to justify facts, and then develops an appropriate strategy to address them. Love and infatuation for Bubblegum are conundrum she can’t quite understand because they can’t be proven scientifically; it’s why she left Finn hanging dry when he professed his love for her season’s back, and why he moved on to Flame Princess. But in this latest episode of Adventure Time, a suitor named Braco pursues PB down a road that leads to a pit of fire, and is then transformed by Peppermint Butler into a deranged, demon-possessed monster. Finding love is hard, and it’s even more difficult maintaining it. But if your princess is a super-genius who can whip you up a robot-clone of herself at a moment’s notice, it doesn’t always have to end in heartache. It could however, end with an unexpected slap from Peppermint Butler.