This week two of our favorite TV scenes work in a very interesting way with what’s happening right now in Ferguson, Missouri—which is really a reflection of what’s been happening in America for generations. Masters of Sex is set in the late 1950s, and The Knick is set in the year 1900; that both shows have highlighted the difficulties for black Americans during this time, and that these difficulties are not unlike what we are seeing today—in real life—is both enlightening and devastating. We have quite a ways to go, and who’s to say that highlighting some of these problems on television isn’t one way to combat the so-called race problem in America? These are our picks for the five TV scenes that had you all in your feelings during the week of August 17.
We also have a phone sex scene, by the way.
1. The Knick: Black Ops
The most successful dramatic element of this episode centers around Edwards’ efforts to hold an after-hours clinic for black patients in the Knick’s basement. We watch as he employs the men who look after the hospital’s boiler and two seamstresses to help treat patients. All is going relatively well, until a patient who had been operated on for a hernia tears open his stitches when he tries to go back to work. Without enough thread to sew up the wound in time, the patient bleeds to death, and Edwards is forced to have some men dump his body somewhere it will be eventually found. Free of much of the overheated chatter that upended the rest of the episode, there was a real sense of desperation and false hope strung through these scenes. If that weren’t enough, poor Edwards is advised that his colleagues will attempt his procedure to save a patient’s failing heart, but that he will only be there to talk the other doctors through it. Is it any wonder that he goes and drinks himself near blind later that night?—Rob Ham (Read the full review here.)
2. Masters of Sex: Ferguson, 1958/2014
On last night’s Masters of Sex, that moment came when Bill Masters, having just betrayed his own moral code by threatening to publish false data supporting stereotypes about African-American sexuality if a black newspaper editor published an article portraying him as a revolutionary, gazes at a framed “I AM A MAN” sign on his way out the door. The iconic sign’s obviously meant to remind Bill he’s completely in the wrong by calling to mind Civil Rights protests where it was famously carried, but last night it carried a second, much more recent weight; it’s the same sign being used by protestors in Ferguson, Mo. this week. The episode was obviously shot long before a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in the St. Louis suburb, but it was stunning to think that something intended as window dressing to remind us of the racial climate during the show’s 1958 setting is still a necessary tool to fight the same hatred 56 years later. How utterly sickening to think that in 2014—in the very same city that Bill Masters spotted that sign—we’re still fighting the same battle.—Bonnie Stiernberg (Read the full review here.)
3. Married: Secondhand Phone Sex
The exchange that follows is memorable, not only for the wonderful juxtaposition that is thrift store phone sex (is there a less erotic place? A morgue, maybe?)—and the strangely sweet gesture that is talking a spouse off—but because it’s the funniest thing Judy Greer has been allowed to do on Married. Watching her shift on a dime between moaning and bemoaning, vixen and vexed, all the while skimming secondhand blouses and flipping through coffee table books, reminded me of the comic chops she flashed regularly on Arrested Development, and continues to flash vocally on Archer. This scene—which ends perfectly, with a post-coital, “Okay, I’ll see you at home” from Russ, and a “We need waffles” from Lina—is further proof that at least one of Married’s leads is something of an untapped resource. The writers need to unleash the Greer.—Evan Allgood (Read the full review here.)
4. The Leftovers: Damn, Patti
At a certain point, Garvey thinks he might have the upper hand, when Patti reveals that she was behind the stoning death of Gladys as part of a plan to keep her acolytes engaged in this cause of never letting the world forget what happened on the day of “The Departure.” With that news, he releases his captive; ready to face the music with this chip he can play in his defense. Patti, unfortunately, keeps the upper hand by grabbing a large piece of glass and plunging it into her carotid artery. That the episode doesn’t return to the scene after her death is one of the savviest moves the series has made to date. Who wouldn’t want to tune in next week to see how this plays out?—Rob Ham (Read the full review here.)
5. Rectify: It Takes a Man
In part of the final scenes, we see Daggett looking at the trailer park’s security camera footage where he discovers the point of Daniel’s arrival and departure at George’s home, along with the footage of Trey’s pickup truck. Back at the river, one of the boys finds George’s body. The coup de gras comes when Teddy walks into the sheriff’s office and asks if it’s not too late to confess to what Daniel did to him. The sheriff calls the D.A. while she is still in session about the debriefing when a police officer walks in Daniel’s direction. Daniel gives a panicked look before the officer walks on by. It’s a great moment because it shows what most viewers are thinking—they are going to re-arrest him. And that is how it ends—with Daniel sitting alone, waiting—except for an incredibly apt snippet of The Lumineers’ “Flowers In Your Hair” during the final credits:
“When we were younger we thought everyone was on our side.
Then we grew a little and romanticized the time I saw flowers in your hair.
Cause it takes a boy to live, but it takes a man to pretend he was there.”
—Tim Basham (Read the full review here.)
The new week starts with tonight’s shows! Tweet us if something epic happens!
Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor at Paste, and a New York-based freelance writer with probably more babies than you. You can follow her on Twitter.