The Night Manager – Part Two

Posted by Katherine Recap | Hollywood, TV

[For The Night Manager “Part Two” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

AMC Summary:
Part Two. On the island of Mallorca, Roper’s life of luxury is ruined; Burr continues recruiting Pine.

The Night Manager continues with the same black and white take on the world for this second part although it does make a grand effort to muss up the hair of our hero, Jonathan Pine. His new boss even tries to make him eat a cookie (biscuit cause they’re Brits) after saying, “You’re too perfect Pine!” exasperated. So, Pine spends this part of the story dirtying his britches and creating a dark legend about himself so Roper will want to hire him and he can infiltrate the worst man in the world’s empire.

“Part Two” opens as gorgeous half-naked Jed gets an unwelcome phone call from her mother. She’s brusque with her mummy and then asks about “Billy” and her mother gets nasty saying, “As if you care. They say he doesn’t even ask about you anymore,” which makes Jed cry. Then she says the money’s coming at the end of the month right before her mother tells her not to forget that she’s a dirty whore. So, then Jed swallows about half a bottle of pills, puts on a dress, and joins Roper, his son, Danny, and some friends to go for a fancy dinner. They speedboat to another part of the island in two parallel boats, then disembark at a divine dining spot. One of Roper’s buddies is a chap named Lord Langbourne who dances creepily close with his teenage daughter after dinner.

Then a robbery rudely interrupts their frivolity. Guys with guns and tattoos take their jewelry and money but then also seize Danny for ransom. Corcoran, Roper’s right hand man, offers them a swift one hundred thousand dollars and Jed tries to get them to take her instead. But she’s broken, along with Roper, when they take the boy and leave saying they’ll contact Roper with further instructions soon. Because Danny’s quite young, maybe eight at the oldest, it’s pretty tragic even though it’s also during this scene that we find out Roper’s bodyguards are named after cats – Frisky and Tabby. Maybe it’s partly sad because that first scene showed Jed’s lack of “Billy” and then the dinner reveals her close bond with Danny. So, in the back of our minds we’re thinking this relationship with Roper’s son is her way of replacing “Billy,” who’s probably her son. As the kidnappers leave with Danny they spy someone watching them and, of course, it turns out to be Pine.

Next the story slips back to six months before as Burr enlists Pine for the Roper insider job. Angela promises to resettle him after they nail Roper; with a new name, job, and life. All he has to do is help her nail Richard Roper. She tells him they’ll have to create a fake criminal record for Pine so that Roper will discover it, “And not a word to the River House,” she warns – that means MI6 and thus Pine’s permanent record. In the next scene Pine joins her ready for his assignment and he even wears an army green jacket to prove it. When Burr says he’s too perfect she tells Pine to drill down to his deepest inner psychopath and mine that part of himself for material every minute of the day. He’s gotta become comfortable being the second worst man in the world now until this job is done.

During his transition into second worst man, Pine begins a violent career as a local drug dealer in a small town. He literally shoves drugs down the throats of future customers before threatening their lives if they don’t buy his drugs from now on. In his free time Pine watches Youtube videos of Roper talking about his philanthropy project and then runs the hills and valleys with gear strapped all over him like a heavily armed air force ranger. During this period of time Pine also breaks the heart of a local single mother, gets into a barroom brawl, and steals another identity. He’s thus cemented himself into the echelon of “bad guy” presumably enough to now move on to his real goal of infiltrating Roper’s inner circle.

Meanwhile Andrea teams up with American agent, Joel Steadman who specializes as an enforcer against illegal arms dealers. He and Angela know each other and go out for a drink after he speaks at a meeting with the British intelligence team. Steadman tells her about his latest mission to move against Roper. He’s in Madrid now and was behind a meeting between Lord Langbourne and a shady lawyer. Steadman got pictures of the meeting but nothing actionable. Burr says she can help him do even better work but needs financial help for her “inside man” in return. Angela’s pregnancy is revealed at this stage as a minor subplot just so that we’re all clear that Burr’s the madonna to counterbalance Jed’s whore.

Then we see Pine in Mallorca saving Danny from the kidnappers and sending him back to Jed and Roper. Turns out he’d paid the kidnappers to “make it look real” but then right after Danny leaves Pine attacks them so they’ll come at him hard. He succeeds and they end up beating him nearly to death. The kidnappers leave Pine to die and (once returned to his relieved Roper parents) Danny points him out as the one who saved him. Roper recognizes him as Pine and says they’ll take care of him and protect him from now on. Corcoran then runs a background check on Pine which Angela and Steadman hear about from their home base. So, now they know he was successful at getting inside. They follow up with a warrant for his arrest so Roper will take him deep into the fold. Angela explains to Steadman that since Pine’s crossed the bridge it’s now their turn to burn it.

Pine’s a wreck. All bloody bruises and bandages, he rides via private ambulance to Roper’s Mallorca island retreat. Jed wakes him for a hazy “hello” at the house at one point just to ask if there’s anyone they should call but he doesn’t answer. Danny thanks him for saving his life and reads to him from a book about sea creatures but Pine doesn’t seem to notice. Eventually after much time has passed, Pine can sit up. Now it’s Corcoran’s turn for a visit with Pine. Roper’s right hand man makes it clear he doesn’t trust Pine. He tells Pine he knows how he stole from the hotel in the Alps where he worked. Then Corcoran says he thinks Pine’s stringing them along and not really as bad off as he seems. Frisky, the bodyguard, isn’t particularly friendly with him either but Pine’s got his sea blue eyes on the cold cycle. He’s not feelin’ shit these days, folks.

In the last scene we see Roper arrive home in a helicopter and then come straight inside to see Pine. He sits on the edge of the bed next to him and pulls the sheet up over Jonathan’s chest. “You sleep now… and tomorrow we’ll find out who you really are,” he says. This ending points to a theme we see throughout “Part Two” – the idea of secret identities. Pine has three different identities in the episode. Jed has her secret “Billy” and her hidden mother. Roper has his philanthropist facade and loving father role to keep up along with the weighty burden of maintaining his street cred as worst man in the world. Even Angela adds quite a wrinkle to her identity after being an intelligence officer for twenty years, with her newfound motherhood role. And now Pine is about to take on his most challenging identity of all, Roper insider. Here’s hoping for some sexytime in the next installment of The Night Manager. Maybe between Pine and Jed? This would help grant even a tiny morsel of truth to the claim of “ruining Roper’s life” the AMC summary claimed for “Part Two”. Roper lost his son for less than an hour and then everything went back to normal in his luxurious life. Let’s see some real ruin, AMC! We want Pine to bring on the pain.

–Katherine Recap

[For Silicon Valley “Founder Friendly” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Founder Friendly. After being fired, an angry Richard faces a tough decision; Erlich approves of the new CEO.

Season three’s first episode, “Founder Friendly” opens right where last season left off, with Richard finding out he got fired over the phone. He and Erlich leave the incubator in a rush to confront the Pied Piper board. Once there the board tells Richard they’re going to replace him with a new CEO and make him CTO. His lawyer, Ron, wearing a snazzy bike outfit because he just bailed on spin class, tells him he’s fucked. At least Richard’s still got his shares and board seat, Ron tries to comfort him. But Richard says he’s leaving and suing them. With this news, Lawyer Ron has to stop serving as Richard’s counsel because he threatened to leave and sue Pied Piper… and, technically, Ron works for Pied Piper not just Richard. Ron-The-Lawyer

Later Monica comes by the incubator and tries to make it up to Richard saying she’s still on the board and will fight for him. Then she tells them about the new CEO, Action Jack Barker. He’s got mucho impressivo experience and the profoundly awesome character actor, Stephen Tobolowsky plays him perfectly as the down-to-business CEO Pied Piper really needs. Here’s Stephen in Groundhog Day in case you don’t recognize him by name:
Stephen Tobolowsky

Meanwhile back at Hooli Gavin makes a public statement of farewell to the Nucleus division. They’ll no longer be a functional part of Hooli. Sometimes failure is just failure. All Nucleus employees will be terminated. Also because of the clause that lost them the lawsuit with Pied Piper, Hooli needs to fire a substantial number of employees and all the unvested stock options that belonged to those employees will return to their budget for whatever usage Gavin chooses. So, they fire 1700 people and Gavin decides to use the new funds allocated to get rid of “Big Head” with a twenty million dollar severance package. All he has to do is sign a non-disclosure agreement that he will never talk about what happened at Hooli or speak ill of Gavin. Meanwhile, Big Head, the most feared man imaginable in this scenario, has virtually no skills and never did a single minute of work for Hooli. Big-Head

Richard tells his Pied Piper peeps he’s leaving the company and Jared immediately has his back while Dinesh and Gilfloyd are more reluctant about leaving with him. They drink beer in the backyard for a hilarious bitch session. It’s funny because for everything bad they say about Richard they forcefully counter with what a great guy he is. They make up an anagram to compress the “nice guy stuff” RIGBY – Richard Is Great But Yet and use it to begin and end their every nasty sentence. The next day they tell Richard they’re going to stay and work at PP without him. He laughs and says there’s no way they can scale and deploy without him. Later Dinesh and Gilfloyd attempt to scale it without him but fail. So, then they decide to “take the high road” rather than admit defeat in coding. They claim to quit Pied Piper in solidarity with Richard even if he did slam them upon exit.Dinesh-Gilfoyle

Meanwhile Jared and Richard are forging a new path forward and plan a new career for him at Flutterbeam, which is a lot like Skype. Richard interviews for their CTO position and they’ve got a special project for him to engineer – a mustache faceplant so that when chatting during flutterbeam usage you can whimsically change your facial hair. Mustache engineering, of course, makes Richard significantly less pumped about this career move. He calls his other lawyer, the alcoholic one, only to find out he’s back in prison due to drinking a Kombucha that steered him off the wagon. But Richard brings the Flutterbeam contract for him check in prison anyway. He advises Richard to at least meet with Barker. Richard will be CTO whether he’s at Pied Piper or Flutterbeam, after all. stache

In the next scene Erlich meets Action Jack, the new CEO and immediately adores him because Barker says he’s a fan of Erlich and, frankly, that’s all it takes. Then Richard finally meets with Barker at Action Jack’s mansion and they chat over an iced tea he never even touches. He tells Jack he feels shafted and that if Barker takes the CEO position he’ll leave the company. So then Jack says OK, I won’t take the CEO position because without you doing the technology, Pied Piper won’t work. The company needs your expertise. Barker’s quick, gracious, and polite. It surprises Richard but also makes him feel important and heard. As he’s driving away he realizes he can’t give up on Pied Piper and backs into Jack’s driveway to return. He’s gonna tell Barker he’s on board.

The ending of the episode is perfectly analogous to the particular “hero’s journey” traveled in this episode. Richard comes around full circle in the end. In the beginning he’s resistant to this ginormous change that’s edging away his control of the company. But Richard quickly forgot that just before he got the call removing him as CEO he’d barely gotten Pied Piper back due to the whole lawsuit debacle of last season. Truth is he only recovered Pied Piper because of a legal technicality involving his Hooli contract. And this wasn’t the only gap in his company management skill set since starting the company. Maybe he really is best-suited to the CTO role… a concept Richard comes around to at the end of the episode when he backs into the driveway of the very guy who seems perfect and ready to suit up as the Pied Piper CEO.

–Katherine Recap

Arya falls to the Waif in "The Red Woman"

[For Game of Thrones “The Red Woman” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
The Red Woman. The fate of Jon Snow is revealed; Daenerys meets a strong man; Cersei sees her daughter again.

Season Six of the Emmy Award-winning juggernaut Game of Thrones begins right where most fans would have wanted… With the body of Jon Snow, lying in the snow. We approach from a very long shot to spy Jon’s still body next to a label “traitor”.

And then, howling.

Is it the wind?

No, it’s a ghost. The Ghost, rather. Sensing something amiss with his master, Ghost howls and howls until the Onion Knight is summoned to the courtyard. Ser Davos and some of Jon’s remaining loyal Brothers take his body.

“Thorne did this” is the quick (and correct) conclusion.

Edd and Davos confer. The circle of whom they can trust doesn’t go much further than the three or four already in the room. They might as well get the direwolf!

… and the eponymous Red Woman.

Melisandre is a woman in a completely different place than when we first saw her birthing a murderous shadow demon out of her — ahem — nethers. Stannis’s complete destruction on the battlefield (following her ritual sacrifice of the Baratheon princess), the suicide of the once-faithful Queen, and now the death of Jon, have seemingly poured doubt into her heart when before there was only magic and fire.

“I saw him in the flames,” she almost pleads. “.. Fighting at Winterfell.”

Meanwhile in the Castle Black mess hall… The Watch is a mess. Some of the Watch want to know what happened; many are pleading at the insanity of the situation. He was their Lord Commander.

Thorne gives what can only be considered a pretty good speech. He admits to committing treason (along with other senior members of the Watch). He had no love for Jon, but he also never disobeyed an order Jon gave. Thorne in fact acknowledges that Jon was only doing what he thought was best… It’s just that what he thought was best would have been (in the opinion of Thorne and company) would have been the end of their way of life.

“If you were planning to see tomorrow you picked the wrong room.” Back in the Onion Knight’s apartments, Edd wants to take the fight to their traitorous brothers. They after all have a dire wolf! They can’t expect to live, but maybe they can take down Thorne…

Davos reminds Edd that there are more people in the world who owe Jon Snow their lives than are in the one apartment. Plan in hand, Edd leaves for help.

We jump a little south to Winterfell.

Horrible villain Ramsay Snow moans over the loss of his mistress. In case you’ve forgotten, she stopped Sansa’s escape in the Season Five finale only to be thrown from the towers of Winterfell by a repentant Theon Greyjoy. It is only the distraction of fighting Stannis’s army that gave Sansa the cover she needed to get away.

And on that note…

Lord Bolton commends Ramsay on the defeat of Stannis; then asks him if he fancies himself a winner.

“I rebelled against the crown” says Bolton, to marry Ramsay to Sansa. Now that she’s out of pocket? The Northern lords are less likely to rally to the Boltons when the Lannisters inevitably come calling.

Trouble is implied for both Bolton lords… And the as-yet unborn child percolating in Walda Frey (now Bolton)’s belly.

Sansa and Theon survived their jump from the Winterfell wall and are next seen braving an icy river to thrown off Bolton hounds; freezing to death being preferable to being torn to bits by dogs, after all.

The young pair cling to each other for warmth… And then Bolton hunters and Ramsay’s vicions hounds arrive. Theon tries to take one for the team (or one Stark princess at least) but Brienne and Pod appear and kill all the Bolton soldiers before he has to. Theon himself has a further moment of heroism, saving Pod from a pretty unfair fair fight (this is Pod we’re talking about after all).

Brienne pledges herself into Sansa’s service, as she did Sansa’s mother back in Season Two.

Down in King’s Landing a now-short-haired Cersei greets Jaime’s return, presumably looking for her beloved Myrcella. Myrcella is of course dead by poison. She didn’t make it out of Dorne due to Oberyn Martell’s venomous women.

Cersei recounts the prophecy of the woods witch, who told her all her children would have golden shrouds. At which point we see the first real look at Jaime Lannister that we have in maybe four or five seasons.

“Fuck prophecy.
“Fuck fate.
“Fuck everyone who isn’t us.”

Yes, that is the Jaime who once threw an innocent little boy out of a window. Have we seen the last of the Jaime who granted Lannister-nee-Stark Valyrian steel into the hands of Brienne to keep safe Eddard’s daughters? The quester of the Riverlands and Dorne> A return to the man who hunted down the Hand of the King and his retinue like dogs in the street? It certainly seems that way. This Jaime wants to take everything and more, everything there is.

Across town (still in King’s Landing) an imprisoned Queen Margaery is getting an earful from an attending Septa.

The Septa has a ton of great lines, including “Confess”, “the Seven Hells are brimming with the souls of saintly men”, and “sinners don’t make demands, they make confessions.”

The High Sparrow appears and dismisses the Septa, and has a short heart-to-heart with the Queen, but it’s not like he lets her or her brother go free.

Things degenerate in Dorne at a rapid pace. When we get there, dead Oberyn’s paramour Ellaria Sand is having a nice walk and talk with the reigning prince (and Oberyn’s brother) Doran. They laugh that Doran would have made a poor adventurer and Oberyn a poor leader, and Doran expresses regret that he hadn’t had the opportunity to lie with nearly as many beautiful women (or men, Ellaria points out) as his brother, as he was focused on keeping the people of Dorne fed. Ha ha LOLs.

A messenger approaches the Prince with news of Princess Myrcella, who was released, from Doran’s perspective, back to the Lannisters in last season’s “Mother’s Mercy“. Doran’s eyes bug out in horror and surprise… As Ellaria stabs him. A nearby Sand Snake kills Doran’s bodyguard Areo Hotah simultaneously (which is surprising as Areo Hotah is kind of a badass in the books).

Two more Sand Snakes go to visit their cousin Prince Tristane and kill him quick like, too. Ellaria says that Dorne will never again be governed by weak men like Doran and his son.

Across the sea Daario and Jorah find first the spoils of Drogon’s feeding (what else but dragon fire can melt a ram’s horn?), then the ring Dany left when she was taken by the Dothraki in the closing moments of “Mother’s Mercy”.

We cut to the Dothraki who have her. A beautiful white-haired woman to be presented to their Khal!

They clearly don’t know who she is, but there is a strong indication she hasn’t been abused (yet). The banter and speculation around Dany includes 1) whether the carpet matches the drapes [white-haired young women being uncommon on the Dothraki sea], 2) the number of things on par with seeing a beautiful woman naked the first time [the answer being four other things, led by killing another Khal], and of course 3) fucking yo’ grandma.

After some preamble Dany reveals herself to their Khal, who pledges that no one in his horde will abuse her, tonight or ever; but that as the widow of Khal Drogo she must live out her days in Vaes Dothrak.

Arya is still blind. She is briefly seen on the streets of Braavos begging… Until she gets beaten up in a staff fight by the Waif (her fellow initiate from the House of Black and White). The Waif is not interested in the fact that Arya is at a handicap, and says “see you tomorrow” while leaving her a cudgel. It seems Arya’s training did not end with the apparent betrayal after killing a Kingsguard.

We come full circle to the episode title, “The Red Woman”. Jon’s small group of loyal friends can’t beat forty opposing Night’s Watch, even with a dire wolf, but the Onion Knight tells them they have never seen what Melisandre can do. We then get to see a very different side of her.

Alone, with her faith ostensibly shaken, Melisandre removes her ruby necklace and goes to sleep. But when she removes the ruby she is no longer the beautiful woman who has been seducing would-be kings, princes, and royal bastards for the past several seasons, but a truly ancient thing; sagging and puffy with thin wisps of white hair. The silent scene speaks of exhaustion more than any other emotion and is completely exasperating. Packed with a million characters and locales as it was, “The Red Woman” ripped by with little conclusion. How can something so chock full as this Season Premiere be so simultaneously unsatisfying? What the heck is going to happen at the Wall? Is Melisandre going to kick butt or what?

Some questions and takeaways:

How many wars will the Lannisters be waging simultaneously? They have to stabilize King’s Landing with their Tyrell Queen trapped by the High Sparrow (and it’s not like Cersei is 100% in the clear yet, either). Lord Bolton thinks it’s only a matter of time before they come North for embracing Sansa. The death of Myrcella means they will go to war with Dorne, too. When Jaime said “fuck everybody who isn’t us” did he mean “everybody” and everywhere literally?

How freaking naive is Tyrion? Isn’t he supposed to be the smartest man on the planet, more or less? Considering an Unsullied escort is no longer guaranteed safety in the face of the Sons of the Harpy I can’t imagine walking the streets of Meereen can possibly be safe for him and Varys without any protection whatsoever seeing that whether he is dressed as a Western noble or not, Tyrion is still one of the most recognizable people on the planet and it wasn’t that long ago that there was a price on his head put there by Cersei.

The problem for Dany isn’t that she is going to be stuck in Vaes Dothrak forever. She is obviously going to get out of there whether with the help of Jorah and Daario or on a dragon’s back before season’s end… The problem is that breaking the Dothraki Khaleesi conventions might prove a long-term problem for her politically. She wanted to raise a Dothraki cavalry to take Westeros… What happens when the insulted Dothraki attack her liberated slave cities in retaliation for breaking custom?

Does Melisandre take off her magical ruby every night like you or I would a pair of contact lenses? Or is this a special occasion and a sign that she has made a lasting and terrible decision about the course of her life? Witch powers or not, have we seen the last of super hot Melisandre?

And for that matter when is she going to go full Beric Dondarrion on Jon already?

LOVE
MIKE

[For Silicon Valley or any other refreshers on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

Essentially, Silicon Valley tells the story of five software engineers, characters with fantastic interactive quirks that bounce them in every direction and drive the killing pace of their compression company startup, Pied Piper. The excitement continually builds around them because Richard Hendricks, the creator of Pied Piper, invents a phenomenally efficient software that compresses data so insanely fast it makes nerds gasp just to hear the Weissman score, a compression speed measure concocted by a Stanford professor just for the show.

Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks
Thomas Middleditch
Part of Silicon Valley’s authenticity arises from our reluctant hero, Richard, who doesn’t have any more of an effing clue about this world than we do. Not only does he not initially even understand the value of the very thing he created until billionaires fight over it… he doesn’t deal well with that windfall either. But because this is Silicon Valley he becomes a CEO anyway.

T.J. Miller as Erlich Bachman
T.J. Miller
One of the greatest TV characters right now, Bachman fancies himself a best-of-blend between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Yes he smokes pot. No he doesn’t code any more. But Bachman fills every gap at Pied Piper with relentless charisma and confidence, even in the face of certain disaster. Bachman’s technical role on the show begins and ends with his house, though, the incubator for Pied Piper (and otherwise den of depravity).

Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh Chugtai
Kumail Nanjiani
Dinesh, originally from Pakistan, specializes in Java and hating his co-CTO, Gilfoyle. They’re in constant battle with Dinesh always winning the sarcasm award. Still, the tension between Dinesh and Gilfoyle often shifts into friendship, sometimes hinting at even more.

Martin Starr as Bertram Gilfoyle
Martin Starr
Originally from Canada, Gilfoyle styles himself as an online security expert and ardent Satanist. He wins the practical joker award and keeps the co- CTO battle with Dinesh raging hardcore… in a fun way.

Josh Brener as Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti
Josh Brener
Lacking in any semblance of basic skills but lucking out at every turn, “Big Head” represents the lucky charm of Silicon Valley and Richard’s life. He’s a rabbit foot rather than a real man but, hey man, he’s got a boat and you don’t.

Zach Woods as Donald “Jared” Dunn
Zach Woods
Cheerful politeness personified, Jared’s enthusiasm would be contagious in any other environment but here he’s dismissed daily. He’s the business end of Pied Piper and came to them from the satirical Google analogue, Hooli, sacrificing an elite level career track and stock options for the thrills and gumption of starting from scratch with Pied Piper. Jared’s the kind of guy who gets a charge out of balancing budgets and thus, a veritable startup savior.

Amanda Crew as Monica Hall
Amanda Crew
Monica is the archetypal sage of Silicon Valley, advising Richard with heartfelt and accurate advice. There’s strong sexual tension between them, and Monica seems to be the main love interest of the show. Part of what makes her so attractive is how thoughtful and brilliant she remains no matter what the circumstances. It’s a refreshing breeze of strength.

Matt Ross as Gavin Belson
Matt Ross
The main nemesis of Pied Piper throughout seasons one and two, head of Google stand-in, Hooli Gavin represented the vengeance seeker against his greatest competition for compression software. But at the end of season two Gavin’s loses his role at Hooli. This likely means he’ll seek a more personalized brand of revenge in season three.

Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream
Suzanne Cryer
CEO of Raviga Capital, Laurie’s all business metrics, dead eyes, and bland expressions. Raviga owns a large stake in Pied Piper and season two ends with Laurie finagling three board seats on Pied Piper next to Bachman and Richard’s mere two seats. So, we’re left with the cliffhanger of Richard getting unseated as CEO from his own company.

Silicon Valley
Silicon Valley
A satirical version of the actual valley where we feel rather at home thanks to a cluttered and relaxed everyday atmosphere. Much of this homey feeling comes from the settings, which seem authentic even as the characters experience heart palpitating anxious states. These result from the high stakes of million dollar valuations coupled with characters who don’t have a clue about much beyond their highly specialized expertise.

Bachman’s House AKA “The Incubator”
bachmanhouse
Unassuming and available, Erlich Bachman’s house serves as the mainstay location of the show. Whether it’s a workplace comedy or a nerdy technology version of every single sitcom ever made, this show happens here because they work, live, sleep, and play here. It’s a dump. Incredibly messy and always busy, Bachman’s incubator feels like home.

incubator
But as you can see from this action shot, they mostly work. Luckily, witty dialogue keeps it fun and exciting even though these software engineers sit at computers most of the day. You will laugh your ass off, that’s a certainty. Yes, we’ve all heard stories about startup geniuses in their twenties faced with million dollar decisions. But what if that genius wasn’t just rich and successful, but funny to boot? What if they were more like a best bud or brother… Somebody you actually know? That’s what this show feels like. It’s as if you’re in the mix. Silicon Valley pulls you into their startup world in order to hold you there enchanted and laughing all the while.

–Katherine Recap

The Night Manager – Part One

Posted by Katherine Recap | Hollywood, TV

[For The Night Manager “Part One” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

AMC Summary:
Part One. A Cairo hotel night manager receives a plea for help from a well-connected guest.

If you love old school spy stories with exotic locations and binary hero/villain characterizations, The Night Manager will be your late night TV viewing pleasure. Our hero, Johnathan Pine (played by the wholeheartedly British Tom Hiddleston), begins the story as The Night Manager of a chic Cairo hotel during the Arab Spring. A dutiful but romantic loner, he’s good at his job but easily seduced by pretty ladies and a compulsive urge to save the day. The other side of this story’s coin is the dastardly Richard Roper (played by our favorite TV doctor, Hugh Laurie) described in an early scene as “the worst man in the world”… but really just a good old fashioned greedy fuck like every other one percenter you’re likely to meet these days.

The story opens as the Arab Spring riots peak and thus we see Mr. Pine help his hoity toity hotel guests quietly flee the country as President Murabak resigns and Cairo thus descends into a state of somewhere between revolution and anarchy in the streets. Pine’s obviously hellbent on being “of service to all” so one of the guests, Sophie Alekan, mistress to a notorious gangster-type named Freddie Hamid, takes advantage of that. She has Pine make her coffee and then quickly enlists him as her savior and lover. After all, getting coffee for pretty ladies is such a slippery slope – at least in the world of John le Carre it is.

She has Pine make copies of classified documents so that he can’t help but notice they’re invoices for a ton of deadly war-mongering weapons. These papers connect her boyfriend, Hamid, with a company called IronLast, Richard Roper’s company – but we don’t yet know that part so shhhh. Sophie tells Pine if something is to happen to her, an “accident”, he should give the envelope of documents to his friend, Ogilvey who’s with the British Embassy in Cairo. Johnathan mentioned knowing Ogilvey to Sophie before and thus we’re meant to presume this is why Sophie’s chosen Pine as the one to give the information about the weapons arsenal. There’s also the fact that she keeps giving him the “let’s bone later” eyeball up and down, but that could just be the frosting on her whistleblower cake.

Pine gets frazzled by the impact of these documents on his innocent constitution and immediately uses his connections in the hotel kitchen to find the whereabouts of Freddie Hamid. They hook him up quickly and with only two polite and savvy phone calls to other Cairo establishments Johnathan discovers that Hamid is currently meeting with a Mr. Roper. So Jonathon Googles “Roper IronLast” and finds a Youtube video of a philanthropist speech Roper gave about one of his charitable organizations. He seems like a fine old chap in the video… OK not really. He watches Roper talking about all the good he does in the world and then Pine scans down the invoice of weapons to the bottom of the list where it says “napalm”.

In the next scene Jonathan brings the IronLast ammunitions invoice to his buddy Ogilvey at the British Embassy but won’t tell him where he got it. Ogilvey then sends it to the International Enforcement Agency in Victoria, England and they immediately recognize the name Ironlast as Richard Roper, shake their heads like “here we go again,” and begin investigating anew. Their leader, Angela Burr, then meets with an intelligence representative to talk about “the art of the possible” but it seems the British government would rather weaponize a monster like Roper than embrace the ongoing Egyptian revolution which will likely have a much more unpredictable financial outcome for them. Shocking surprise.

Next Sophie calls Jonathan up to her room and says she needs to know who Johnathan showed the papers to because apparently Roper was warned and thus Freddie Hamid beat her to a pulp for leaking the documents. This is the scene where Sophie describes Roper as “the worst man in the world” even as she says her Freddie merely has “a temper”. Next we see Jonathan at the hotel front desk as Freddie comes in to demand entry for Sophie’s room. The reluctant Mr. Pine brings him to the room but in the previous scene he’d surreptitiously moved her to another room. Ha ha! Foiled again, Freddie. Now Freddie’s freaking out on the phone with Roper and tells him he’s looking for Sophie and “handling it” along with some arabic which Jonathan pretends to not understand but clearly does.

Then we see Jonathon secreting Sophie away to an undisclosed location far away where she can’t be found. She whispers “come with me… please” using her best sensual magic and, since he has blood in his veins and a boner in his pants, Pine joins her. They drive out to the hideaway and gyrate the night away under mosquito netting. In the morning she tells him her real name is Samira. Apparently, now Pine loves her. He gets a text saying that Hamid is looking for Sophie so Pine says she’ll need to leave the country in order to stay safe. He says maybe he can get her to London using his connections (Ogilvey) then leaves to return to the hotel and make arrangements. Once there, Ogilvey tells him the authorities were grateful for the documents. Jonathan retorts that if they were thankful why did they tip off Roper? To this Ogilvey doesn’t answer and instead pivots. Pine doesn’t notice the pivot, though, because Ogilvey says he knows Pine’s source was Sophie and that she’s Hamid’s “ex girlfriend” and that’s a problem. Ogilvey knows he has Pine’s attention now. He says Sophie’s only chance is to convince Hamid that she knows nothing about the documents. She can’t go to London because the British government are on the side of Freddie Hamid, who’s worth billions to them and sending Sophie there will only tip off Hamid and Roper even more that she ratted them out. So, Pine immediately calls Sophie and tells her he won’t be able to get her to London after all. She’s crushed and angry, believing her death imminent. But Pine insists all will be OK even though he has no evidence to back up that claim.

Then the International Enforcement Agency investigation into the IronLast invoices gets abruptly cancelled. So, Angela Burr calls Ogilvey to see what’s going on and the next thing we know she’s following up that conversation with another call. This one’s extra urgent and to Pine. Burr leaves a message saying Pine has to get Sophie out of the hotel because her life’s at risk. Then Angela leaves a number where she can be reached. Sophie has already settled back in at the hotel by the time Angela leaves this message. So, when Jonathan gets Burr’s voicemail he races to Sophie’s room. But he’s too late and finds her dead, covered in blood on the floor.

Flash forward four years later and Pine now works as The Night Manager at a hotel in the Swiss Alps. Late one night Richard Roper checks in and Pine’s aware that there’s a package waiting for his esteemed “worst man in the world” guest. He welcomes Roper warmly and when Pine introduces himself as The Night Manager a flash crosses Roper’s face as if he recognizes the name and title as significant. He then asks where Pine previously worked and Pine lies, not mentioning Cairo. Roper has a sexy young lady friend with him, named Jed, who wears yellow with strategic daring. Jed’s also got a noteworthy slick hairstyle and cold-hearted gaze. Pine lies once again to Roper and says the parcel he’s awaiting hasn’t arrived yet. After meeting with them Pine quickly takes a timeout to vomit before opening Roper’s parcel, taking notes on the contents, and then reclosing it to send up to his suite. Later he extricates whatever’s left from Roper’s package – little gold nubbins, it seems – after going through the evening’s trash bags. Fun and sexy stuff, night managing. The significance of the little gold nubbins remains unclear to us in “Part One” but the fact that Pine is breaking all the rules, lying and going through garbage bags, makes him a bit less of a tight-ass goody goody, so we’re all for it. They seem to be some sort of modern day version of microfiche or film, the kind of stuff spies frequently hid up their butts back in the day.

Later at home Pine finds the number Angela Burr left on his voicemail the night Sophie died four years ago and he calls her. He then returns to work that night and sees Roper negotiating and socializing at a clandestine meeting. By chance, Pine and Roper meet outside in the snow briefly after the meeting. Roper makes a comment about how anyone else would have tossed their cigarette when a paying customer turned up, so good for Pine that he didn’t. It seems that maybe Roper does know of Pine’s connection to Sophie and this is his way of trying to make him squirm a bit. The next day Pine meets with Angela Burr over lunch and gives her the little gold bits of Roper loot he got out of the trash. He tells her about the clandestine meeting at the hotel the night before. Then as the episode closes Angela asks Pine what he’s prepared to do about all this. It seems inevitable that Pine will do just about anything, haunted as he is by Sophie/Samira.

–Katherine Recap

The Playoffs so far:

In case you [somehow] didn’t notice I changed up the Top 8 images for each game. It probably seems obvious in hindsight but it makes sense to differentiate which team each performing player dribbles and shoots for.

You’re welcome.

Anyway…

Pacers 87 Raptors 98

ESPN Headline: Jonas Valanciunas has 23 points, 15 boards as Raptors tie series 1-1

It’s pretty hard to argue with that ESPN Headline… Valanciunas did in fact tally 23 points and 15 rebounds.

He was also the best player of the game in Game Two of the Pacers v. Raptors series (not to mention the best player of the night):

PacersRaptors04182016

Lowry bounced back from an atrocious first game to finishing well in the second, though DeRozan was nearly as ineffective (only 10 points on 18 attempts). DeRozan was by far the worst player in the game, producing -5.5 (well into the negative range)… But he did not come close to the performance of a fellow All-Star in the next game…

Mavericks 85 Thunder 84

ESPN Headline: Mavericks rebound, hold off Thunder to even up series at 1-1

You’d think they could have come up with a more creative or descriptive headline than this. Here are eight (because, you know, Top 8):

  1. Dallas Point Guards (including Raymond Felton!) somehow outperform Westbrook
  2. Ibaka shines in wasted effort
  3. Westbrook takes more shots than scores points, still scores 19
  4. Durant and Westbrook both break personal records; Dallas breaks serve
  5. Dirk puts up 17, produces in the negative range
  6. Servant whiffs 26 times
  7. Durant’s off shooting night opens door for opportunistic Mavs team
  8. Dammit Durantula!

The thing that I in particular dislike about this headline, though, is the use of the word “rebound” when Dallas was in fact out-rebounded 45-54.

MavericksThunder04182016

How about that?

The best player of the game was Serge Ibaka, following up his best player of Saturday overall, with a very solid line (12 points, 8 boards, 0 TOs). However the next two best players were PGs Raymond Felton and Devin Harris, remarkable for a number of reasons. If any PG were to be a top performer in a game you’d have to pick Russ, right? Not this time. Not even the coach killer (who started alongside Felton in the back court).

For his part Westbrook had a reasonable game, with 14 big rebounds (his personal best in a playoff game). Westbrook’s 19 points might be notable in another context, alongside the Servant’s 21… Except both of the OKC superstars had awful shooting nights. On the subject of personal highs, Durant had never missed twenty-six shots in a game before. As I quite like Durant I hope he doesn’t again (unless OKC meets the Cavs in the Finals).

This was a truly off night for a team with an actual shot at winning the title. I would love it if Ibaka proved to be OKC’s best player in the playoffs (as he has been the first couple of games). This game — and the Dallas / OKC series so far — really illustrate the validity of an “advanced stats” look at basketball. OKC did what you are supposed to do; by out-rebounding Dallas they got more possessions. However the cosmetically solid scoring totals (19 for Russ, 21 for Durant) really tell a tale of wasted possessions and opportunity. Westbrook was still a top performer on the strength of his career-best boards, but inefficient shooting and four TOs really hurt his line; on that note, Durant had seven turnovers.

Inefficient scoring + tons of leaked possessions out of your superstars and the underdog sub-50-win team can get one, by one.

Rockets 106 Warriors 115

ESPN Headline: Warriors win Game 2 vs. Rockets with Stephen Curry (ankle) on bench

RocketsWarriors04182016

Maybe the Warriors should look to rest Steph the rest of the first round? Houston seems completely over-matched, and the remaining GSW stars all seem like they can have their way with the Rockets. The push to 73 wins combined with Curry’s famously cotton candy lower body might be the opening [any other team] needs to win the title this year. There is no way GSW can win either of the next two series with Curry on the bench, but this might be a great opportunity to preserve his life total for the march to a back-to-back.

And by that, I mean let the man play! #AllIn #CavsCavsCavs

Monday’s Best: Jonas Valanciunas of the Raptors… Nice double-double in the bounce back win (hat tip to Ibaka of OKC in a losing effort)
Monday’s Worst: Kevin Durant of OKC, by a lot at -12

Back tomorrow.

LOVE
MIKE

The Top 8 is produced via Simple Models of Player Performance + Box Score data from ESPN.com

[For Better Call Saul “Klick” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

AMC Summary:
Klick. Jimmy must make a hard choice; Mike takes control of matters, and Hamlin delivers shocking news.

The season finale of Better Call Saul, “Klick” revolves around the theme of blockage, specifically passive resistance. Mike and Jimmy both find themselves soundly blocked from achieving their goals by a behind the scenes mastermind. The irony is that both believe themselves to be just such masterminds. Little do they know what ominous obstacles they’re up against. The symbols are all there for us to pick up along the way as the story progresses, locked doors, red tape, and Nacho’s big built-up bod standing right smack in the way. But the whole machination behind their impasse isn’t clear for these characters until the very end and even then it’s clearer for us as the audience than for Jimmy and Mike. In the end Mike does find out there’s an additional echelon to the cartel in the way of his mission but he doesn’t know anything about it yet. We can at least make an educated guess. At the end of Jimmy’s story he’s about to find out Chuck’s diabolical secret is even darker than his own. Meanwhile, as the audience, we know exactly what’s coming and only wish we could warn Jimmy.

The episode opens on Jimmy and Chuck in their mother’s hospital room. She’s near death in front of them on the bed. Jimmy insists they get something to eat after sitting there for three days. He leaves, saying he’ll get Chuck a sandwich too and be right back. As soon as he exits Chuck starts crying which awakens their mother who coughs, asks for Jimmy and then won’t hear Chuck saying it’s him, Chuck. She dies. A nurse comes in and feels her pulse then says she’s sorry to Chuck. Their mother had a DNR, a do not resuscitate. Then Jimmy gets back with a plastic bag of sandwiches to find out she’s gone. He asks Chuck if she woke up or said anything and he says, “No”.

Then we’re back to the scene at Kinkos. Jimmy enters from his hiding spot on the sidewalk across the street and insists they call 911. Chuck wakes up just enough to see Jimmy and next thing we know he’s in the hospital telling them to turn off the lights above his examination table. Chuck screams at them not to give him an EKG or cat scan explaining that he has a “condition” that makes him sensitive to electricity. The doctor who wants to have Chuck committed so she can run the necessary tests but Jimmy suggest a temporary guardianship instead. That way the doctor can find out what’s wrong without committing Chuck to an institution. Jimmy goes into Chuck’s hospital room to tell him about this but Chuck won’t even speak to him and demands Ernesto come in. He uses Ernie to point out that now he knows Jimmy was there at the Kinkos but Ernesto gives Jimmy an alibi and claims that, actually, he called Jimmy to bring him there. This, of course, infuriates Chuck. When Jimmy tells him about the temporary guardianship Chuck says, “You finally got me where you want me,” like the true paranoid he is. Meanwhile he’s the actual family Svengali. Even Ernie’s like. “He’s out to get you Jimmy,” and seems ready to quit his assistant job and return to the mailroom rather than work with Chuck anymore. His own assistant prefers his brother but that’s partly because Ernie and Jimmy worked the mailroom together in the days of yore.

Next we see Nacho and a buddy, with a gagged, tied up guy in the back of their van driving through the desert. Mike is, of course, tailing them in his car. Then we see him doing target practice out in the desert with an advisor, that same guy who wanted to sell him guns at the hotel room earlier in the season. He gets ammo and as they’re saying goodbye the guy rubs Mike’s prints off the practice gun he used and says, “No offense,” but it’s impossible to offend Mike anyway. Then Mike’s pointing his rifle at a faraway target in the desert as he focuses the rifle eye-site we see he’s pointing it at the place where Nacho and his buddy have parked the red van, near an old broken-down shed. Mike loads and cocks the rifle. We see Hector, the cousins, Nacho and the guy that was just tied up in the back of the van. The cousins shoot that guy and he falls into a ditch. Then they walk back over the Hector and Nacho, returning into the shed while the other guy shovels dirt into the ditch. Mike has the site focused where Hector was but Nacho stands right in the way the whole time. He would have had to shoot Nacho in order to hit Hector. Then a horn’s blaring and it’s Mike’s own car nearby in the brush. Someone came along and propped a branch against the horn and left a note that says only “Don’t” on the windshield. We’re thinking it was someone associated with Nacho given that he was standing in Hector’s way. Our guess? Gus Fring but you can come to your own conclusions after watching, looking for clues in the episode titles, and then watching again.

Chuck tries to reason with the doctor who insists on testing him to see what made him faint at the Kinko’s. The cat scan machine sends Chuck even deeper into crazy town. Meanwhile Jimmy sits in the waiting room where Kim joins him with food and comforting words. Jimmy’s ad comes on the hospital TV. It’s fun and distinctive with a catchy hook of “Gimme Jimmy,” and then the classic line, “because moxie’s in such short supply these days” and no better word describes Jimmy – the king of moxie. The doctor comes out then and tells them there’s nothing physically wrong Chuck and it was probably just a panic attack. However, she adds, there was a complication. Chuck’s in a catatonic state now. He won’t move or speak, playacting as a vegetable basically. But he’s out of it by morning when he wakes up next to a sleeping Jimmy in the chair beside his bed. Jimmy takes him home and wants to make Chuck comfortable with tea or whatever he needs but Chuck’s feeling vulnerable and cranky. He just wants to be alone so Jimmy leaves. Then Chuck enters his garage, lantern in hand, and we see all his old electrical devices are stored in there but Chuck’s clearly looking for something in particular.

Meanwhile Jimmy’s got a full waiting room at his new office, all due to his commercial and therefore mostly composed of elderly peeps. Howard then calls ‘freaking out because he just got a letter saying Chuck quit/retired from HHM. So, Jimmy rushes to Chuck’s place and bangs on the door but Chuck won’t talk to him. So, Jimmy has to resort to insistent-repetitive-infinite knocking. Finally Chuck opens the door. Once inside Jimmy finds Chuck in a room wallpapered entirely in mylar and aluminum foil, all attached with duct tape, of course. He calls it a “proper Faraday cage” and tells Jimmy not to patronize him. He’s not crazy. They sit down and Jimmy tells him not to quit the law. The law needs Chuck. Chuck needs the law. Besides how can he retire before he gets Jimmy disbarred? Chuck says he has to quit because he made a mistake and thus is clearly losing it and the worst part is that he then blamed Jimmy for the whole thing. Chuck blames the electricity for wearing down on his faculties and brain. He’s falling apart. Jimmy feels bad for Chuck and says what if he told him he didn’t make a mistake. He admits that he sabotaged Chuck, just as he’d said. Jimmy says now Chuck can relax, his brain is at 100%. It wasn’t really about Chuck at all anyway, Jimmy explains. It was for Kim. He didn’t think it would turn Chuck insane just to imagine having made a mistake. Chuck asks him if he realizes he just confessed to a felony. Jimmy says at least he made Chuck feel better and it’s his word against Chuck’s anyway. Then, it turns out he was recording the whole conversation, of course. When he was in his garage fill of electronics it was to locate that recorder. This whole plan finally played all the way out for Chuck, a man who simply can’t abide ever being wrong about anything – ever.

Season three is certain to bring many exciting new events. So, we’ll all just have to cling to the edge of Jimmy’s cliff until then. We do have some predictions, though. First we think that Jimmy’s comment about Chuck getting him disbarred will quickly become reality and that will be the impetus for his shift into Saul Goodman. Second we believe Gus will show up in Mike’s life within the first few episodes of season three, if not the season premiere. And lastly, fetchland also wants to see Saul and Mike work together more in season three. They were on parallel paths for almost the entire second season but it would be much more fun to see these two natural born enemies actually in cahoots. We can’t wait for whatever comes and look forward to reading many fun analyses, predictions and theories between now and the next season.

–Katherine Recap

The Top 8 – 4/17/2016

Posted by michaelj | Sports

By my vantage point on history there are five* teams that can realistically win the NBA title this year.

Of course there is the Warriors with their record-setting 73-win regular season and paradigm-transforming guard, Steph Curry.

The ones that “no one” talks about are the Thunder and the Clippers. Both of those teams won over fifty games and have elite bigs (you can even potentially slot Kevin Durant himself as a big; he is listed as two inches taller than, say, Golden State’s All-Star PF). Plus, the quiet, consistently excellent and dangerous Spurs.

Four of five.

These elite teams all won their opening 2016 playoff games, by:

  • Warriors 26
  • Spurs 32
  • Thunder 38
  • Clippers 20

All blowouts. Steph Curry played only twenty minutes in his pacesetting Saturday outing.

The fifth team that has a conceivable chance of winning the NBA title (and the only Eastern Conference team with that distinction) is the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs barely won their one-eight opener. The weird thing is the Cavs didn’t play badly at all.

Pistons 101 Cavaliers 106

ESPN Headline: Cavs rely on team effort to survive Game 1 test

On the season the Cavs shot the ball 6,888 times and scored 8,555 points, for 1.24 points per shot.

Yesterday they scored 106 on 88 shots 1.20 points per shot… Lower, but not catastrophically lower than their usual offense (per shot).

For reference our currently-worst blown out team, the Dallas Mavericks, scored 70 on 84 (.83 points per shot) versus a regular season 8,388 on 6,900 (1.21 points per shot).

Further, the Cavs out-rebounded the Pistons 40-37, and turned the ball over an astonishing four times only (versus Detroit’s 10). All this resulted in the Cavs taking fifteen more shots than the Pistons.

Together these are signals that the Cavs should have won handily… So why so close?

Somehow, some way, the Pistons scored 101 on 73 shots (1.38 points per shot); 1.38 exceeds Golden State’s regular season mark of 1.31 points per shot. So all the Pistons have to do is score better than the best team of all time… and they can make it look close?

There is some comfort for Cavs fans here. It’s unlikely Detroit, a team that scored under 1.18 points per shot in the regular season, can make LeBron and company sweat like this with their shooting again. Andre Drummond is a legit All-Star and maybe the third-best player in the series… But he hurts you more by getting possessions not finishing them.

This may be small consolation. The Pistons made Game One so close by shooting a blistering 51.7% from three. If the Cavs don’t shore up wing defense between now and the Finals Golden State, the actual monster under the bed, will be merciless.

PistonsCavs04172016

As a Cavs fan the one thing I was super happy about this game was how well Kyrie Irving played. You get a feeling that we never saw how good the 2016 Cavs really could be via the regular season. They were never going to catch even San Antonio (plus home court in the East was a sure thing for so long), so they never had their collective foot on the accelerator the way the Warriors did. Ideally that will prove wise for them.

Given Detroit’s shooting, it’s weird how the box score ultimately shook out. The top three performers were all Cavaliers, with respective rebounding machines Thompson and Drummond at the wrong end of the Top 8; Stanley Johnson, though, smooshed the Cavs in only sixteen minutes; 3-4, 3-3 on threes; eight Eight EIGHT rebounds (i.e. two more than Tristan Thompson in thirty minutes) with zero TOs. Post-game Stan Van Gundy rightly questioned himself for not using Johnson down the stretch.

Hornets 91 Heat 123

ESPN Headline: Deng leads Heat to Game 1 rout of Hornets

Before the first elimination tipoff I would have picked Hornets-Heat as the most likely upset scenario in the playoffs. After all, the teams are evenly matched in terms of record and the Hornets actually hold the superior regular season point differential.

The counterargument is that the Hornets lack notable superstar talent.

The Heat are dripping with ex-superstars (and one actual present-day superstar): Joe Johnson, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Amar’e Stoudemire are all past or present max contract All-Stars. Goran Dragic was All-NBA Third Team only two years ago, and Luol Deng** is a multi-time All-Star.

Also the Heat cultivated Hassan Whiteside, who is by far the best player on either team in this series (not to mention the best real Center in the East). Per minute, Whiteside is in fact twice as good as any player in a Hornets uniform.

HornetsHeat04172016

Game One of this series was a showcase of all that Miami talent. Both Whiteside and Deng equaled Serge Ibaka’s production from Saturday. When one team has two different players producing at 2x the rate of your best performer you need a massive level of negative production to keep up; Gerald Green was the only Heat player to oblige (though he was worse than any Hornet). Instead, a rout.

This game featured perhaps the most lopsided Top 8 of any box score I’ve ever studied. There was one Hornet in the Top 8; the other seven (including super standouts Deng and Whiteside) were all Miami.

Grizzlies 74 Spurs 106

ESPN Headline: Spurs dominate Grizzlies to take a 1-0 lead

This was about the Spurs-iest win you can pencil out. The entire team produces in the positive range, with non-gaudy-but-still-great production from Leonard, Duncan, and Patty Mills. The Spurs “win” every quarter (if some by only two or three points). San Antonio are kings of the “death by a thousand cuts” strategy, with basically everyone on their roster capable of All-Star production on a limited minute basis. Thirteen different San Antonio players rebounded; twelve scored. Not one Spur cracked 30 minutes; I mean, why would they?

GrizzliesSpurs04172016

Almost nothing to say here (which is about how Popp would like it, I imagine).

Trail Blazers 95 Clippers 115

ESPN Headline: Clippers post 3 double-doubles in rout of Blazers

I was pretty sure that we hadn’t seen Blake’s real stuff in the regular season. I would not be surprised whatsoever if he just went beast mode all playoffs. Look at this game… Chris Paul has 28-on-19 (insane for a guard), 6 rebounds (awfully great for a point guard)… Oh and double-doubles with 11 assists; only two turnovers. Chris only had the second-best game on his team!

Anyone sleeping on the Clippers as title contenders in the wake of the Warriors (and Spurs) hype in the West isn’t paying attention. Chris Paul isn’t Steph Curry, but he is unbelievably elite, still. DeAndre Jordan is flat-out the best Center in the NBA. The only comparable player is Hassan Whiteside (who rebounds for a non-contender in another conference). The Clippers have plenty of serviceable guys in their rotation… And badly behaved Blake has been saving his real stuff for the Playoffs, clearly. Don’t forget this team was kicking dirt on the Spurs’ collective coffins at the end of the first round last year.

BlazersClippers04172016

I’m not sure how you even defend this team. This is the best*** “big three” I think we’ve ever seen. Blake was 19 on 10 shots; do you know how many points you get if you just make ten shots? 20. DJ was 18 on 7 shots… And he’s a historically poor FT shooter!

The second-round matchups in the West are all going to be must-see IMO.

Sunday’s Best: (tie) Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside of the Heat
Sunday’s Worst: (tie) Zach Randolph and Matt Barnes of the Grizzlies (though Jeff Green of the Clippers came awfully close in a winning effort with three points on four shots but four PFs in only 16 minutes)

Back tomorrow.

LOVE
MIKE

The Top 8 is produced via Simple Models of Player Performance + Box Score data from ESPN.com

* Okay, six if you count the Raptors, but I don’t
** If you ever have a question of how valuable LeBron James is relative to any other player remember he took a 33-win Cavs team straight to the Finals while his old team went from the Finals to missing the playoffs while adding a standing NBA Third Team player and Hassan Whiteside, as well as an All-Star (in fact Cleveland’s SF) at his vacated position.
*** All three of Duncan, Ginobli, and Parker are in my Top 10 favorite players of all time, BTW.

[For Vinyl “Alibi” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Alibi. Zak constructs a dangerous plan to take down Richie; Kip’s excesses threaten an important gig.

The Season Finale of Vinyl, “Alibi” didn’t bring many surprises and wasn’t much fun but some storylines did get resolved, so there’s that. It would have been less disappointing without the behind the scenes explanation bit with Terrance Winter that followed. But calling it a disappointing is understatement… and we’re not known for that so let’s just say “Alibi” blows. Speaking of blow, that’s the one positive side to the season finale – the lack of snorting coke. Finally, we aren’t gazing up the debauched naval cavity of a crazed coke head every few minutes. Still, neither Richie nor coke really deserve the redemption Mr. Winter attempt to grant them in this episode. Maybe it’s because the writing sucks all the heat and intelligence out of the most interesting characters while conflating the importance and impact of a douche like Richie. Perhaps it’s how this episode validates and glorifies cocaine use. Or it could be the way this story pretends disco is anything other than a crappy club jam that deserved its inevitable death. No matter the reason, “Alibi” left us irritated rather than inspired and it definitely meant to be the latter.

In the opening scene Richie meets with the feds about snitching on Galasso. They can’t promise him 100% protection but do give him some informant tips. Basically, they’ll meet him once in awhile to check in, leave him with the bar bill, and let him “live his life” with occasional reports to them. The feds tell him the bug batteries are dying in Richie’s office so he can rest easy about them listening in on American Century anymore. On the other hand, the local police detectives do listen in just before the batteries die and hear a crucial bit of Galasso info that greatly affects the episode’s trajectory.

Meanwhile at the dance clubs, Clark leads a disco and cocaine-fueled movement that’s got everybody grooving to the beat. Later at the American Century offices we see the results of all his hard work when the Indigo album he’s been playing is suddenly selling like crazy and even hits the charts. It turns out Clark tapped into a whole new market that’s creating amazing sales. Luckily for the American Century partners, Clark never sent the letter they wrote up firing Indigo from the label so now he’s their hero, making money for the company out an untapped and growing resource – dance clubs. Looks like Clark’s destined to be back on the A&R track for season two.

The Nasty Bitz take turns practicing and bitching like playground squabblers until there’s a doobie smoke break and Jamie accuses Kip of being jealous of her and Alex. Kip says he cares about opening for The New York Dolls in 24 hours, not which bandmates’ cock she’s sucking. Oh snap. Later that night, though Jamie acts like a dumdum and tells Kip she cares bout him AND she’s attracted to Alex too. Big mistake. Why bring it up? The show is tomorrow. Hopefully Jamie will grow up soon and realize less information is better when sleeping with multiple band members… at once. So then Kip, of course, throws her out, quits the band, and sticks a needle in his arm. The next day he doesn’t show up for The New York Dolls show rehearsal because he’s busy ODing in his undies on the rat’s ass apartment floor. Jamie and Lester scrape him up and drag his barely functioning bod to the show where Richie shoots him up with cocaine so he can perform. Yeah, big hero – cocaine. It wakes him up but when he still doesn’t want to perform Alex tells him to stop being a pussy and shockingly that doesn’t do the trick. When Richie finds out they’re fighting over a girl he fires Jamie to prove a point about how girls don’t matter and tells them to get on stage and do this. Then he tells Jamie she’s not really fired but can’t handle The Nasty Bitz anymore. Maybe season two will hold a brighter future for Jamie but it’s a bummer to see such a smart and sassy character taken down to this level on finale night – just another reminder that “girls don’t matter,” as if this episode didn’t already have enough of these reminders. Here’s a hint – it does.

Kip rises from the dead quickly thanks to our episode’s hero, cocaine, and gets out there with his guitar. Once onstage The Nasty Bitz initiate a rousing round of boos because the audience wants The New York Dolls to hurry up and entertain them… and who can blame them? But they’re quickly won over when the band shockrocks the place with “Woman Like you”. The Ramones are in the audience and they, along with everyone else there, fall in love with this brand new twisted dirty love anthem. At the song’s end the cops come and bust it up, with Kip getting pulled offstage fighting and screaming F bombs. It’s a public relations wet dream. The police were there thanks to the brilliant mind of Andy, who mentioned what a PR bonanza it would be to Richie earlier in the day. However, when he mentions the cops showing up Terrance Winter only says that Richie called them. Why would he do that when it was actually Andy’s brilliant idea? Because girls don’t matter.

Speaking of characters treated like they don’t matter, Lester plays a small but interesting role in the finale. Maury Gold points out to Richie that because Lester wrote “Woman Like You” in 1962 but then never recorded it, he owns 100% of the rights to the song and thus American Century has to get his contractual permission to use it. Richie makes Lester an offer and claims he wants to do what’s right so they make a deal and it works out pretty well for Lester, who even gets a couple more bands to manage in the process.

On the other side of the story, gigantic idiotic mistakes are made by yet another formerly smart character. Zak joins Jamie in the echelon of smart-gone-stupid-for-finale’s-sake when he goes to see Galasso and tells him how Richie’s a drug addict and that he lost the $90K gambling in Vegas. He adds that American Century has a morality clause so that all it takes to oust Richie is a vote of the partners. Zak says he just wants Galasso’s support, not realizing the a mobster couldn’t care less and wouldn’t know what “support” even means in this case. So, Galasso immediately goes to Richie and tells him all about Zak’s plan. When Zak gets to the offices and sees Galasso there talking to Richie at first he thinks he’s getting help. But of course, it turns out Galasso’s mad at Zak… and not just because he hates the Jewish people. He threatens to crush him in one of the stolen cars he chops up at his “shop near Yankee Stadium” then leaves in a huff. Richie then explains to Zak why it was stupid of him to make a mobster question if he’ll get his money back. So, here we see how Richie’s “street smarts” are a lesson to “poor dumb Zak” and it all just feels like shallow attempt to redeem Richie and his obnoxious ways. Meanwhile local detectives are listening in on Galasso because the batteries are still barely working on the bugs in Richie’s office. So they hear him say he’s got a “chop shop by Yankee Stadium” and make a raid on it the very next day, landing them the prize of Galasso’s number two guy.

Next thing we know Zak gets pulled into a car and taken to a warehouse where Richie has to comes retrieve him. Galasso confronts them that somebody must’ve dropped a dime on him because he got raided at the chopshop the very next day after telling them about it. Richie defends Zak and says he’s too stupid to have done it. Gee, thanks buddy. Then Richie implies that maybe it was Joe Corso who also just happened to be there during the conversation and is also sitting in the warehouse with them now. Joe then makes the mistake of running his big fat yapper about the Buck Rogers murder and it gets him killed pronto right there at the card table. Galasso doesn’t play accessory to murder after the fact. The good news is that because Galasso now assumes it was Corso who ratted them out, Richie and Zak are off the hook.

Then Richie has a party at the American Century office to launch Alibi records. First he reads rave reviews of The Nasty Bitz performance opening for The New York Dolls. Then he talks about Alibi Records and how it’s for lost kids who need to know they aren’t alone in the world. Then all the employees act like a bunch of lost kids, spray painting the walls of the office and tearing the place apart at the urging of Julian and Richie. It’s a madhouse and meant to be fun and inspiring. But really it’s just a bunch of people spray painting an office and throwing files on the floor. Zak and Richie look at each other across the room and (as Winter explains it in his behind the scenes bit) we’re meant to wonder if they’ll reconnect as friends and business partners. Too bad we don’t care anymore.

We get it that the whole thing is “told from Richie’s perspective” and that he probably thinks of himself as the hero. But it’s clear from his behind the scenes comments that Mr. Winter also seems to see it this way. Yeah, sure Richie called the cops. Forget that Andy was the one who pointed out that the cops coming would be “the best thing that could happen” to The Nasty Bitz. Richie’s the real hero. He fake fired Jamie snarking about how girls don’t matter to “save the band,” and shot coke into the heroin addict to “save the show” – what he deserves is a kick in the teeth, not applause. Truth is that the best thing about Richie was his wife, Devon, and his enthusiasm for putting his life back together. But both of those things got lost in making The Nasty Bitz a hit. It’s important that Richie cares about the band’s success, of course. Problem is the audience cared more about the stuff Richie left in the dust. You know, stuff like girls and respecting the lives of band members who just OD’d. Because those things do matter. Terrance Winter was the one who made Andy smart and cool and inspiring. He gave Jamie the sassy upstart role. Why make us care about them just to blow them off in the end? Maybe we’ll find out in season two.

–Katherine Recap

The Top 8 – 4/16/2016

Posted by michaelj | Sports

So the playoffs started yesterday…

And things are going to start to get interesting!

Pacers 100 Raptors 90

ESPN Headline: George, Pacers nab Game 1 road win vs. Raptors

PacersRaptors04172016

Before the playoffs started I would have picked Charlotte-Miami as the most likely upset… But after the very first elimination game I remembered that the Raptors are playing.

A few weeks ago the Cavs were stumbling a bit and the Raptors were within spitting range of #1 in the East… But… The Raptors. It wouldn’t have mattered if the Cavs fell to second because if past performance is any indicator Toronto would have managed to drop the one-eight. The Raptors have had home court advantage each of the last two years and failed to clear the quarterfinals in either.

ESPN had it right this time; Paul George was the best player in the game.

The Raptors guards were absolutely atrocious. Lowry was eleven-on-thirteen with six (6!!!) turnovers. DeRozan had fourteen-on-nineteen; they combined for one trey in ten tries.

Rockets 78 Warriors 104

ESPN Headline: Curry shines in 1st half as Warriors rout Rockets

RocketsWarriors04172016

So this guy Steph Curry…

The league’s best player scored “only” 24 points but went five-for-seven from three and had the second-best game of the playoffs so far in only twenty minutes.

No surprise that Draymond Green had the second-best game [of the game], a solid double-double.

The 2016 Warriors might be the best team of all time, but I still think the Rockets have the power to make a game or three interesting. Dwight Howard and James Harden have both been the best at their relative positions… And Shooting Guard and Center are two positions where Golden State doesn’t have a stranglehold on matchup advantage.

But… blowout in Game One.

Celtics 101 Hawks 102

ESPN Headline: Hawks hold off Celtics’ rally to take Game 1

CelticsHawks04162016

This was a weird game. The Celtics were sooooo bad in the first half… Then the Hawks were so bad in the second half?

All of one Hawk bench player put the ball into the hoop, which might help explain how close the game went.

The superior team is really not entirely clear here. The Celtics probably have the best coach in the East, and were the second-best team in the conference for most of the regular season. However the Hawks have the best three players in the head-to-head.

Same record and (basically) the same point differential, though. Smells like seven.

Mavericks 70 Thunder 108

ESPN Headline: OKC routs cold-shooting Mavs by 38 in Game 1

MavericksThunder042016

Wow what a roflstomp!

The major media chatter has been all about the Warriors and to a lesser degree the Spurs this year, but there are actually four teams in the West who have a legitimate shot at winning the title. All of the Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, and of course the Thunder have won over fifty games and own an elite big.

Serge Ibaka played the best game in eight teams on 4/16, going seven-for-eight with nine rebounds and no turnovers in only twenty-eight minutes. Also three blocks; because, you know, I-block-a.

On balance, Deron Williams managed to out-underperform both of Toronto’s starting guards. Minus-thirty-two in only twenty-two minutes? One-for-nine? Twice as many PFs as points? Not the coach killer’s best game.

Saturday’s Best: Steph Curry was great, Serge Ibaka better
Saturday’s Worst: Deron Williams ignominiously saves the Toronto backcourt

Back tomorrow.

LOVE
MIKE

The Top 8 is produced via Simple Models of Player Performance + Box Score data from ESPN.com