Wednesday, October 16, 2019

‘EL CAMINO’: THE ‘BREAKING BAD’ EPILOGUE THAT CELEBRATES JESSE PINKMAN

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie closes the Jesse Pinkman chapter, in a way that may not seem necessary to many, but even as an epilogue that the show could do without, it makes an interesting tribute to a character we loved

When BREAKING BAD came to an end, it was written about (and still is considered) as one of the best series finales of all time, and it is. That’s saying a lot even for a ‘peak TV’ show, given that such iconic shows as LOST, GAME OF THRONES and even MAD MEN have had less than satisfactory endings. This in part was because even though BREAKING BAD had a five-season run, there was a finite story to tell, and creator/showrunner Vince Gilligan didn’t stray from telling that story in order to feed the show’s popularity. The show saw a proper closure to a majority of the characters’ stories, even though it was mostly tragic. Walter White died, while he left behind a damaged family. Jesse Pinkman, on the other hand, got his chance to escape from the neo-Nazi camp—where he’d been enslaved to cook crystal meth—but with only the implication of a potential happy ending. That is a major reason why Gilligan wanted to give an absolute end to the Pinkman factor. “I thought it was up to the audience to figure out how Jesse got away, but that it was enough to see him driving off into the night victorious,” Gilligan told Entertainment Weekly. “But then as the years started to pass, I found myself wondering at idle moments, ‘How exactly did he get away? Because that’s no easy feat! And what if he didn’t get away? What if he got busted right around the next corner?’” 

This explains why, some six years after BREAKING BAD ended, Gilligan chose to release a follow-up movie. It also explains why El Camino is exactly what it is and no more than it is. The truth is that many of us were expecting the gripping, complex and engaging essence of what BREAKING BAD was, with a tight plot to capture the magic of the series in a two-hour feature.

[Spoiler alert: details of El Camino’s plot are revealed as you read on]



Instead, what we got was an extended epilogue that was only about how Jesse eventually did get the happy ending, which was only implied earlier. And that essentially boiled down to showing us how he obtained the money he needed to pay to pay Ed, the guy who helped Saul Goodman disappear, in order for Ed to do the same for him. And when you simply say it this way, the plot carries very little weight. Furthermore, the storytelling approach included a lot of slow-moving, silent moments, which were a big part of BREAKING BAD, and which we see a lot more of the still-ongoing prequel series BETTER CALL SAUL. However, in just two hours, it may have seemed like such choices in the narrative were too much of a luxury. We’re talking about scenes such as Todd offering soup to Jesse, or singing on the highway, or the extended telling of the fact that Jesse didn’t have enough money for Ed to take him on as a client. Even with a very limited story to tell, such decisions may have seemed a tad indulgent. 

That being said, it was still necessary for us to know details such as the lengths that Todd would go to in order to keep his money a secret (the fact that he murdered his trustworthy housekeeper simply because she found out about the money). And while Todd’s neighbor Lou was quite annoying, the exchanges of his that we saw added some humor, and they even helped Jesse to some extent. Additionally, a few flashbacks that seemed simply like reminders, were definitely required. The one where we see Neil being made to install the physical restrains for Jesse in the lab at the neo-Nazi camp was necessary in order to draw the connection. Yet, it did feel like it was quite a stretch for the welder to become the main adversary for Jesse. The result was that it left us with an antagonist that was weak, especially if you do compare him with the Tuco Salamancas and the Gus Frings of the franchise, and even Todd for that matter. The truth is that all (or most of the) worthy adversaries of the past were dead, and it must’ve been a struggle to create a new one that would still make for a gripping tale. In fact, without the Todd flashbacks and the previously-unseen struggles that Jesse faced during the time before the end of the series, El Camino would have been quite flat.



However, the movie epilogue did have moments where it really did shine. One of the best parts for me was revisiting Jesse’s bond with Badger and Skinny Pete. It was extremely endearing the way those two came through for him, and helped him with the problem of the titular El Camino car. Further to that, Jesse’s primary struggle of finding the money and adding to his share gave us some intriguing moments. The standoff at the Kandy Welding Company facility was probably the biggest highlight—the kind that great action films are made of—complete with Jesse’s smooth and (literally) explosive exit from the scene.



The most significant of all things though was seeing Jesse itself. Whether you enjoyed El Camino or compared it too much with BREAKING BAD, if you liked Jesse, there’s no way you wouldn’t have liked seeing him get a proper and satisfactory end. Aaron Paul delivered in spades to a role that won him three Emmys during the series. He was moving as he conveyed Jesse’s PTSD and despair. He presented conflict and desperation when he had to lie to his parents and steal from their home. He was exhilarating as we saw Jesse’s determination to succeed with disappearing. And he showed us immense growth in Jesse Pinkman, which was so good to see. I always liked Jesse’s character more than anyone else’s on the show, so it felt good to be able to give Jesse a proper farewell. El Camino may not have lived up to many expectations, but in this regard, it certainly achieved exactly what it intended to.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

THE ‘SUCCESSION’ FINALE: A WORTHY SUCCESSOR?

[Spoiler alert: You are advised to read on only after having watched the SUCCESSION season two finale]



Oh that smile! Logan Roy barely let on that he threw a smirk—so much so that people were wondering if it was there—but it was. And while it was barely noticeable, he was thrilled inside, and it was so deliciously done. He had just seen Kendall become the killer that he had, just scenes ago, told him he needed to be, in order to be at the helm of Waystar Royco. The thing is that we practically didn’t see it coming, yet when Kendall said, “…But…,” at the press conference, it was all but obvious that he was going to put his father’s head on the spike instead of his own. 

Throughout this second season of SUCCESSION, we’ve seen Kendall keeping a low profile, indulging himself ever so slightly, and doing his father’s bidding. Initially it seemed like he was simply grateful to Logan who helped him out of the tricky situation in England. Of course, Logan just seized the opportunity to get Kendall out of the bed he’d gotten into with Stewey and Sandy. And I wondered when Kendall would see that for what it was. Obviously the shock and despair that came with how he ended up being responsible for the catering waiter’s death was going to take its time, but it now looks like it didn’t take as much time as we thought it was taking. He was keeping his head down, but he was just doing so in order to strike when everyone would least expect it. He was playing his cards right, and even embarrassed himself in Dundee, when he broke out into a rap number, making himself out to almost look like a loyal idiot (without becoming too much of an idiot, because Greg holds that distinction!). 


And speaking of Greg, somewhere along the way, Kendall had to have joined hands with Greg (or had to have tricked Greg) to obtain the documents that would incriminate Logan for being a part of the cruise scandal cover-up. Everything was clearly well thought-through, but I don’t think we’ll ever know at what point Kendall started planning this massive blow. Yet, we should’ve seen it coming. Throughout season one, he failed to take down Logan time and again—the hostile takeover with the board, and then with Stewey and Sandy. We knew he wanted control, and he’s clearly the Roy sibling with the biggest claim to the Royco empire, which is exactly why he was just the perfect scapegoat to become the blood sacrifice to bail out Waystar Royco.

And the way it all went down! 



SUCCESSION has always done wonders with drama in confined spaces—whether it’s by literally putting the characters in a plane or panic room, or by creating an illusion of confined space—the Pierces’ ranch, the Argestes, Dundee, and now a yacht. It’s turned into an obvious setting, but it sure does create impact. And by putting the Roys (and plus-ones, and other Royco top management, and a ‘sprinkling’ of Greg) on a yacht, there’s also a sly nod to the cruise scandal. As Connor tries to make Willa feel better about her abysmal play, the main Roy siblings are enjoying a sweet moment, until daddy dearest arrives. 



Logan puts his own name out there, knowing that it will instantly get ruled out by the likes of Tom, who would go out of their way to kiss ass. What follows are extremely gripping conversations, each exchange layered with intent and agenda, yet seeming quite bare. The writing is exemplary, as we see even the inconsiderate Roman standing up for Gerri, making a strong point about how they can’t let a woman go down for the cruise mess. Roman actually has his moments to shine throughout the episode, where he gains sympathy in his own can’t-care-less way, and even manages to make the smart and honest assessment that going private is not going to help the company at this point. We even see a certain vulnerability in Tom, who probably feels more like an outsider at this time than has he ever before. His admittance of not being happy with Shiv, or in their open marriage is as forthcoming as he’s ever been. On the other hand, we also see how dependent Connor is, despite staying away from the core Royco drama, and delusional enough to imagine that him being the blood sacrifice could have a significant enough impact (or that he can actually make it to the White House for that matter).

This whole series is actually a thorough study of its own characters, and it’s amazing how much restraint the writing displays, even as the writers’ indulgence—as they peel back the devious and delicious layers of each character—is quite apparent. Logan Roy is the ultimate puppet master, silently manipulating the moves that people make around him. Even when he’s been ditched by Nan Pierce, or been played by his kids when they get on board with Rhea taking over, he’s had something to bounce back with. And his kids have been the biggest subjects of his experiments, as he manipulates, challenges, and defies them, threatening their agendas. That’s why it’s hard to believe that Kendall’s big move at the end wasn’t something Logan saw coming. He told Kendall that he’d have needed to be a killer to be in charge, perhaps challenging him in the process. On the other hand, Kendall’s moves, in retrospect, seem perfectly calculated. It was almost like he was giving his father a chance to stop him by even asking Logan if he thought Kendall would’ve been a good successor. He didn’t get the final validation—which could’ve been by design—and he seized his opportunity to take control. 




We’ll probably never know explicitly if Logan had planned this throughout, or if he was just holding on to his position until a worthy successor emerged on their own. He probably wanted it to be Kendall, but wanted Kendall to rise to the occasion, just as he has. What Kendall wants hasn’t been clear for a while, until now, and where he takes us with his latest claim to be the successor is going to be a terrific ride. Even where Shiv, Roman and even Tom will fit into this is going to be a treat to behold. Especially because the intentions, underlying desires and each character’s own perception of how far they’ll go and how much their relationships will withstand, as they follow their own agendas are all things that are so scrumptiously under the surface. And this is exactly what makes SUCCESSION such a masterpiece.

Monday, October 14, 2019

GREY+SLOAN WITHOUT THE GREAT DR. GREY

The Grey+Sloan residents need to be taken down a peg or two, and I’m so glad Chief Bailey is taking the appropriate action. And no, she wasn't too harsh in firing [spoiler]. Here’s why, as we look at how GREY’S season 16 is getting better

After the debacle that was the season 16 premiere, GREY’S ANATOMY has managed to redeem itself over the last two weeks. The second episode in particular was more in line with the GREY’S that we’ve known and loved. I particularly liked the way my current favorite couple—‘Amelink’—decided to [spoiler alert] keep the baby. They could’ve easily gone down an emotionally draining path, with Amelia fretting over facing child-bearing possibilities, after her tragic first delivery (which we saw in PRIVATE PRACTICE). Even Link’s concerns about having a child after his own childhood cancer were very valid. Things could have gotten really intense, but the scenes in episode two, in the plant room and then on the bench outside were beautifully positive and full of hope, despite being emotional. A part of me still thinks that there was a lot of scope for this relationship in the light, casual and romantic space before they got into this serious territory. Yet, I like the handling of it. It’s good to still see an exciting spark between Amelia and Link even in their more tender moments.


It’s also refreshing to see that they’re not in a rush to bring Richard and Alex back to Grey+Sloan. It’ll be good to see them actually turning Pacific-Northwest General around before they’re done there. Also, I was impressed that storyline featuring the mini CHARMED reunion—guest stars Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs playing sisters—was kept for the ‘lesser hospital’, giving Webber and Karev a significant ‘case of the week’. I would like to see them take on some groundbreaking surgeries or some game-changing clinical trials or something to start putting this hospital on the map. Although, what was that about Richard going out to lunch with this friend he's reconnected with? It's suspicious obviously because it's clear that things aren't great between him and Catherine right now. I just hope they don't mess things up with that relationship—one of only three ongoing relationships that have survived the test of time so far.


Meanwhile in Grey+Sloan, Bailey is not letting the absence of Grey, Karev and Webber stand in her way or her hospital’s way. It’s great to see Bailey as the teacher and mentor that we’ve loved since the very first episode of the show. She knew what she was doing when she assigned the anastomosis to Helm. And, of course, we all know that she was the mentor of the great Dr. Grey and even Dr. Karev. So it made my blood boil when DeLuca had the audacity of questioning her, and, worse, accusing her of denying him opportunities just because he was dating Grey. I mean, who the hell does he think he is! If Bailey was incapable of being objective, she wouldn’t fire her most-loved protégés and her mentor, for what were understandably fire-able offenses. And this thick-headed, arrogant thinking by DeLuca is just one of the things that make me hate ‘MerLuca’. He used to be kind, considerate, respectful, and endearing even. But his romance with Grey has turned him into an obnoxious and arrogant ass, who feels like he’s entitled to get what he may not even deserve. He started with feeling entitled to be with Grey, and now it’s like he feels he’s entitled to get things because of the fact that he’s with Grey. And what’s with his disrespect! Old DeLuca would’ve never been disrespectful towards Bailey, but now that he’s with Grey, it’s like he thinks he’s the cat’s whiskers!

Then in last week’s episode, Qadri—of all people—went whining to Bailey about her decision to fire the great Dr. Grey, who was the reason why she and others chose this program. It was, firstly, not her place to even comment on this, and where does she get off talking to Bailey like that! So when Bailey fired her sorry ass, it was more than warranted. I literally clapped when Bailey said that being fired was the one thing that Qadri now had in common with Grey. Bailey shouldn’t take any of this insubordination lying down. She doesn’t need to tolerate this disrespect, and I’m so glad she isn’t. Moreover, it’s not like she didn’t have to answer for the misdeeds of her surgical staff. Dr. Catherine Fox held her somewhat accountable, and instated Tom Koracick as the Catherine Fox Foundation’s eyes and ears in Grey+Sloan. If Bailey were to turn a blind eye towards her surgeons’ poor conduct, she wouldn’t be the Bailey that we know. I just hope she doesn’t succumb to pressure and feel compelled to hire Grey or anyone else back. If they want back in, even the great Dr. Grey needs to earn it.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

THE ‘GREY’S ANATOMY’ PREMIERE—LESS THAN A SWEET 16

I’ll admit—I’m always happy to see a new episode of GREY’S. So a season premiere, after a four-month hiatus, always conjures excitement. This year’s season premiere, though, left a lot to be desired. Here’s what was wrong with it, and what I hope this season will do

Spoiler Alert: You are advised to read on only after watching the season 16 premiere of GREY’S ANATOMY. Definitive plot points have been mentioned.

When GREY’S left us in May, there were cliffhangers all around us. Jackson was missing in the fog, with Maggie looking for him. Teddy got back together with Owen, while Tom Koracick was left setting up a crib for their baby. Amelia kind of broke up with Link. Jo checked herself in for psychiatric help, after finally admitting her issues to Alex. Andrew DeLuca went to jail for something Meredith did. Meredith got fired for it, and so did Richard and Alex for being accomplices. Aside from the firing bit, everything was resolved, and extremely unsatisfactorily.

Where do we go from here? Where, indeed!
JACKSON AND MAGGIE
Jackson’s disappearance was the gimmickiest of the lot, especially because of how ABC promoted the premiere, implying that he’d been seriously injured or may even be in grave danger. What we got from it was the surgical case of the week—some hikers he found who were literally in a cliffhanger situation. Of course his breakup with Maggie was inevitable and came as no shock. It was among the few developments in the premiere that were handled well. In fact, it was quite nice to see him bonding with Vic (from STATION 19), and there was this, sort of, instant chemistry between them. I’m not a fan of Maggie, and didn’t quite like her and Jackson together much. But I did feel slightly bad for her when she tells Jackson that they don’t like each other and hence he and Vic are none of her business, especially knowing that she was absolutely right. Kelly McCreary did that scene really well, hiding the pain with her steely exterior. McCreary really makes me want to like Maggie sometimes.

I do wish that this season, the breakup makes Maggie pull herself together and grow up a little. She needs to take a step back and assess her own life and whatever she believes people owe her, emotionally and otherwise. She owes that to herself. On the other hand, I think Jackson should really take some time for himself, even though he has a bond already with Vic. I mean, they have both admitted that neither is ready for anything yet. Also, I think it’ll be fun to see Jackson single for a while. I don’t remember what that was even like.


OWEN-TEDDY-TOM
It was so heart-breaking last season to see how the crass but well-meaning and utterly caring Tom Koracick was left setting up a crib for Teddy’s baby, while she was getting back with Owen. Tom and Teddy weren’t going to last too long, especially since it’s been quite apparent that Owen and Teddy have been end-game. Yet, Teddy and Tom had something sweet, and I did expect more emotion with their breakup. I didn’t want to see melodrama, but I also didn’t want it to simply be an assumption that Tom makes, with Teddy barely making a half-hearted apology—which is what happened. I love Teddy; always have. And I like that she had something of her own, after her late husband Henry, something that didn’t involve Owen. So it was disappointing to see a sweet bond end, especially in this manner.

I do wish we see some more closure on this front. As for Teddy and Owen, they’re ready to start a life together and all, but I hope it comes with some adjustment, some amount of dealing with being a conventional, co-habiting, co-parenting couple. I feel this way especially since they’ve never really been together that way, having simply gone from friends to what-ifs prior to this. So I’d like to see what makes them tick as a couple, because frankly, I really just saw them as the best of friends, like Meredith and Alex are, and it surprised me when their relationship took a romantic turn. And with Tom, I look forward to what they do with him, since he is definitely going to be around, with Greg Germann having been promoted to series regular this season.

AMELIA AND LINK
Their relationship has probably been the most refreshing of GREY’S romances lately. I loved them as soon as they started flirting when they were both at that conference last season. They look great together, they have this cute banter, and they have some hot chemistry. Also, their relationship bloomed with excitement after Meredith’s loss (in choosing DeLuca over Link) became Amelia’s gain. While Meredith and DeLuca’s chemistry fizzled and became a tired relationship almost overnight, Amelia and Link have had that spark throughout, even when things got a little serious when he went with her for that tense dinner with the Shepherds. So it’s nice now to see them embracing what they have, after taking a step back to assess what they want from this relationship. 

However, why, oh why would they go down a pregnancy path! It’s too soon. I wanted to see them together a bit, trying to figure this sweet, new, exciting relationship out before something definitive like a pregnancy were to come along to throw them into a make-or-break situation. I certainly don’t want them to go into a zone of angst and high emotions. I do hope the writers have a better plan than that for these characters.


ALEX AND JO
Last season, Jo unraveled and unraveled hard. It put a strong strain on her relationship with Alex, so soon after they’d finally gotten married. It drove Alex crazy that she wouldn’t talk to him, and understandably so. We literally saw what he went through when Izzie ghosted him, and he’s also had to deal with his mom, and there was also Ava/Rebecca. This emotional wringer with Jo has been poetic in a tragic way, so it was nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially after Jo gave him an ‘out’ and he chose not to take it. It was especially meaningful because it was a choice he didn’t take lightly. He committed to sticking together after giving it some serious thought, and that’s what I love about their relationship. They never overdo the emotional presentation of the deep bond they share, yet we know it’s there. However, I do think that it happened all too quickly. And I do hope that we see how they find their way back to each other in a more practical, day-to-day space, beyond simply making big commitments and grand gestures.

MEREDITH AND ANDREW
These two showed so much promise when they hooked up last year, after that awkward kiss at Alex and Jo’s wedding in season 14. They were hot, they were endearing, they were cute, until DeLuca started to act like he was entitled to be with her, and Meredith toyed with Link and him, leading both on, acting superior and then eventually being a bitch to Link. That’s when I lost interest in ‘MerLuca’. Yet, they could have kept the spark alive, but they went down a serious path, with his family issues and so on, before we even had a chance to see them together enough to want them to become a serious couple. The relationship brought out sides in them that I didn’t like, and soon, I couldn’t care less about them. So it was no surprise then when I didn’t feel shook up when he took the blame for her insurance fraud. Yet, I wanted more from it, from a plot perspective, than a quick dropping of charges and even Meredith getting away with only being given community service. Though there is some hope for that cliffhanger leading to more than just that, with her medical license being threatened. Let the complex and compelling fight begin. That aside, I still don’t like MerLuca together. I can only hope they’re not end-game. And no, I don’t say this because I think no one can fill Derek’s shoes. I don’t feel that way (Meredith's been better off without Derek). I want to see Meredith in a good, meaningful, interesting relationship, and her relationship with DeLuca is certainly not all that.


RICHARD, ALEX AND PAC-NORTH
The one thing I’ve never grudged GREY’S ANATOMY for is their over-the-top cliffhangers. Even if they have done gigantic disaster episodes in the past, with nail-biting season-enders, they’ve always made the cliffhangers count for something, making them series-defining turns and not simply gimmicks. For example, when the plane crashed, it led to the survivors taking the hospital to court and eventually becoming the owners of the hospital and renaming it to Grey+Sloan Memorial. When Alex beat up Andrew, it sparked off his entire character arc for the following season. So with Grey, Webber and Karev being fired in last season’s finale, I had a feeling that it would be a cliffhanger that wouldn’t just be resolved minutes into the new season (like the others unfortunately were in this season 16 opener). And it was good to see something come out of it that will inform the storylines going forward. We all know that they will eventually resume their responsibilities at Grey+Sloan, but I look forward to seeing how that happens. Let it inform the characters and their relationships, as it already is happening with Richard and Catherine, with Richard and Alex now working at Pacific North General Hospital. Let it show us sides to them as doctors outside of Grey+Sloan. Let this resolution take its time. There can be so much that comes out of it.

I hope this season does justice to the choices made for these characters. I hope we get to see sides of these relationships that make them feel real before things are shaken up too soon. I hope to see more of the promising new series regulars—Koracick, Link and Schmidt. Here’s to GREY’S ANATOMY's sweet 16!

Monday, September 23, 2019

THE NEW QUEEN OF COMEDY, AND THE BEST AND WORST OF THE EMMYS 2019


One of the least predictable Emmys in recent years, this year, the biggest TV awards gave us a few major pleasant surprises, yet GAME OF THRONES predictably won outstanding drama series. Here are a few highlights and disappointments from the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards

To begin with, let’s just hail the new queen of comedy: Phoebe Waller-Bridge! FLEABAG came out with a phenomenal second season this year, and the Television Academy saw it for its brilliance, and its brutally honest and unapologetic take on being single and living with some serious baggage. The tragi-comedy took home Emmys for outstanding writing, directing, and comedy series, as well as lead actress in a comedy. Waller-Bridge won three of those awards, the first two being for writing and for lead actress. While accepting the former, she said writing was ‘hard and painful’, and then when she went up to accept her acting Emmy, acting was ‘hard and painful’ as well, she said. It was hilarious, and it was exhilarating to see her fresh energy and her honest simplicity. I really wish there’d be more of FLEABAG!

The new queen of comedy, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Waller-Bridge was also presented an award in the limited series category, with fellow Emmy winner Bill Hader. They made jokes about how limited series were simply shows that got cancelled after one season, or those that people wouldn’t bear to watch multiple seasons of. “No one wants to watch seven seasons of CHERNOBYL,” they said. And that if there were more than one ESCAPE FROM DANNEMORA, that would be on the Dannemora prison people! It was undoubtedly the funniest presentation of the evening. And it was such a simple idea, delivered with flair, but you know, some of the best presentation bits are based on the simplest of ideas.

Other presentations just didn’t make the mark, especially not the one by Maya Rudolph and Ike Barinholtz. They did a sketch where they pretended to have just had LASIK surgery, making them unable to read the teleprompter properly. It might have been alright—albeit unfunny still—if it was just that. However, when they blurted out pretend ‘misread’ names while announcing the nominees, owing to their mock inability to read, I found that rather disrespectful and quite stupid to be honest. I know that this is an unpopular opinion, considering that many now want Maya Rudolph to host the Oscars and what-not, but I beg to differ.

Speaking of disrespect, one extremely harsh dig was made towards Felicity Huffman, who was recently sentenced to two weeks of imprisonment. The comment was made by Thomas Lennon who was almost like a stand-in for a host, passing commentary in sports commentating style. He simply said something to the effect of: …Former Emmy winners, don’t worry, the two weeks will pass like a breeze. It was in poor taste, and I say this not because I condone Huffman’s role in the college admissions scandal, but because she’s been extremely remorseful, and it’s quite unfortunate what she’s had to go through. Yet, I did enjoy Thomas Lennon’s bits almost through the entire rest of the show. He even gave us some real thigh-slappers such as saying that Emmy winner John Oliver was from an ‘underdog network’. We all know that HBO is anything but that! And he poked fun at Billy Porter’s hat, which had an extended brim towards the left. Let’s face it, was rather inconsiderate towards those sitting behind him, and Lennon said just that—that he felt bad for the person sitting behind Porter on the left. And then at some point, Lennon spoke about how SUCCESSION was loosely based on Rupert Murdoch’s family—the very family that had ordered him to do this job.

SUCCESSION actually won the Emmy for outstanding writing, and it was very well deserved. Among others who really deserved their Emmys were Peter Dinklage—winning his fourth one for GAME OF THRONES—and Jodie Comer! Comer was one of the pleasant surprises of the evening. The frontrunner was her costar Sandra Oh, and most people expected that if Oh were to not win, it would not to go to KILLING EVE at all. Comer was genuinely flabbergasted, and even said that she didn’t invite her parents to attend from Liverpool, because she truly believed that it would not be her year.

Jodie Comer was genuinely surprised to win
Alex Borstein, who won outstanding supporting actress in a comedy, made a statement by not apologizing for the criticism she received for not wearing a bra at last year’s Emmys. But she made a bigger statement about how women need to step out of line and take a chance to do something for themselves. On the other hand, Emmy winner for outstanding actress in a limited series, Michelle Williams—for FOSSE/VERDON—thanked her producers for paying her what she deserved, and for paying her equally. She then appealed to producers in general to pay their actresses what the actresses ask for, stating that then those very actresses could one day thank them giving them what they deserved. She added that the actresses would then say that they succeeded because of their producers and not in spite of them. That was the most powerful and the best acceptance speech of the awards. It’s baffling that ‘equal pay’ is still an issue, and everything needs to be said and done to rectify what’s wrong.

Michelle Williams gave the best speech of the awards

Other surprises included VEEP—and Julia Louis-Dreyfus—losing out at its final Emmys, but then FLEABAG was probably unbeatable. VEEP did get a mini send-off though, via a presentation made by the whole cast—something that even GAME OF THRONES got. In that spirit, it was nice to see that the show paid tribute to all the shows that have ended this last year, in a special audio-visual. Shows such as THE BIG BANG THEORY, JANE THE VIRGIN, and BROAD CITY got a brief farewell, but a few others were missing. For example, I don’t think I saw ELEMENTARY there, and that’s sad, considering that even the far inferior GOTHAM got the opening clip in the presentation. Overall though, it’s a good idea and it’s a nice way to say goodbye especially to shows that used to win Emmys, but not so much towards the end of their run. BIG BANG was an example of that this year. Hopefully this bit becomes a recurring feature. Stellar Emmy winners such as HOMELAND and MODERN FAMILY—both of which are ending this new TV season—will deserve a lot more than that in terms of a farewell though.

The cast of VEEP
But that’s next year. For now, take a look at the winners of the 2019 Emmys—a show that was quite pleasantly surprising even if it wasn’t an entertainer through and through.   

GAME OF THRONES won outstanding drama series
Here’s a complete list of last night’s winners from the drama, comedy and limited series/TV movie categories:

DRAMA

Outstanding Drama Series
BETTER CALL SAUL
BODYGUARD
GAME OF THRONES
KILLING EVE
OZARK
POSE
SUCCESSION
THIS IS US

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Emilia Clarke (GAME OF THRONES)
Robin Wright (HOUSE OF CARDS)
Viola Davis (HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER)
Sandra Oh (KILLING EVE)
Jodie Comer (KILLING EVE)
Mandy Moore (THIS IS US)
Laura Linney (OZARK)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Bob Odenkirk (BETTER CALL SAUL)
Kit Harington (GAME OF THRONES)
Jason Bateman (OZARK)
Sterling K. Brown (THIS IS US)
Milo Ventimiglia (THIS IS US)
Billy Porter (POSE)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Lena Headey (GAME OF THRONES)
Gwendoline Christie (GAME OF THRONES)
Sophie Turner (GAME OF THRONES)
Maisie Williams (GAME OF THRONES)
Fiona Shaw (KILLING EVE)
Julia Garner (OZARK)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks (BETTER CALL SAUL)
Giancarlo Esposito (BETTER CALL SAUL)
Alfie Allen (GAME OF THRONES)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (GAME OF THRONES)
Peter Dinklage (GAME OF THRONES)
Michael Kelly (HOUSE OF CARDS)
Chris Sullivan (THIS IS US)

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
GAME OF THRONES “The Last Of The Starks”
GAME OF THRONES “The Long Night”
GAME OF THRONES “The Iron Throne”
KILLING EVE “Desperate Times”
OZARK “Reparations”
SUCCESSION “Celebration”
THE HANDMAID’S TALE “Holly”

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
BETTER CALL SAUL “Winner”
BODYGUARD “Episode 1”
GAME OF THRONES “The Iron Throne”
KILLING EVE “Nice And Neat”
SUCCESSION “Nobody Is Ever Missing”
THE HANDMAID’S TALE “Holly”

COMEDY

Outstanding Comedy Series
BARRY
FLEABAG
RUSSIAN DOLL
SCHITT’S CREEK
THE GOOD PLACE
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL
VEEP

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate (DEAD TO ME)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge (FLEABAG)
Catherine O’Hara (SCHITT’S CREEK)
Natasha Lyonne (RUSSIAN DOLL)
Rachel Brosnahan (THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (VEEP)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Bill Hader (BARRY)
Don Cheadle (BLACK MONDAY)
Anthony Anderson (BLACK-ISH)
Eugene Levy (SCHITT’S CREEK)
Ted Danson (THE GOOD PLACE)
Michael Douglas (THE KOMINSKY METHOD)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Sarah Goldberg (BARRY)
Sian Clifford (FLEABAG)
Olivia Colman (FLEABAG)
Betty Gilpin (GLOW)
Marin Hinkle (THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL)
Kate McKinnon (SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE)
Alex Borstein (THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL)
Anna Chlumsky (VEEP)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Henry Winkler (BARRY)
Anthony Carrigan (BARRY)
Stephen Root (BARRY)
Tony Hale (VEEP)
Tony Shalhoub (THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL)
Alan Arkin (THE KOMINSKY METHOD)

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
BARRY “The Audition”
BARRY “ronny/lily”
FLEABAG “Episode 1”
THE BIG BANG THEORY “Stockholm Syndrome”
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL “All Alone”
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL “We’re Going To The Catskills!”

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
BARRY “ronny/lily”
FLEABAG “Episode 1”
PEN15 “Anna Ishii-Peters”
RUSSIAN DOLL “Nothing In This World Is Easy”
RUSSIAN DOLL “A Warm Body”
THE GOOD PLACE “Janet(s)”
VEEP “Veep”

LIMITED SERIES/TV MOVIE

Outstanding Limited Series
CHERNOBYL
ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA
FOSSE/VERDON
SHARP OBJECTS
WHEN THEY SEE US

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series
Amy Adams (SHARP OBJECTS)
Patricia Arquette (ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA)
Michelle Williams (FOSSE/VERDON)
Joey King (THE ACT)
Aunjanue Ellis (WHEN THEY SEE US)
Niecy Nash (WHEN THEY SEE US)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series
Mahershala Ali (TRUE DETECTIVE)
Hugh Grant (A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL)
Benicio del Toro (ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA)
Sam Rockwell (FOSSE/VERDON)
Jared Harris (CHERNOBYL)
Jharrel Jerome (WHEN THEY SEE US)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series
Emily Watson (CHERNOBYL)
Patricia Clarkson (SHARP OBJECTS)
Marsha Stephanie Blake (WHEN THEY SEE US)
Vera Farmiga (WHEN THEY SEE US)
Patricia Arquette (THE ACT)
Margaret Qualley (FOSSE/VERDON)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series
Ben Whishaw (A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL)
Stellan Skarsgard (CHERNOBYL)
Paul Dano (ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA)
John Leguizamo (WHEN THEY SEE US)
Michael K. Williams (WHEN THEY SEE US)
Asante Blackk (WHEN THEY SEE US)

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL
CHERNOBYL
ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA
FOSSE/VERDON “Glory”
FOSSE/VERDON “Who’s Got The Pain”
WHEN THEY SEE US

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL
CHERNOBYL
ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA “Episode 6”
ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA “Episode 7”
FOSSE/VERDON “Providence”
WHEN THEY SEE US “Part Four”

Outstanding Television Movie
Bandersnatch (BLACK MIRROR)
Brexit
King Lear
My Dinner with Hervé