[Editor’s Note: The following contains light spoilers for the included series.]
“The Defiant Ones”
Season 1, Episode 3
Written by: Allen Hughes, Lasse Jarvi, Doug Pray
Directed by: Allen Hughes
Allen Hughes’ well-cut music documentary is populated with enough industry giants that just listening to them babble for four hours would’ve been well worth the time. But Hughes skillfully incorporated historical footage with those fascinating reflections, and never is the combination more captivating than in Episode 3.
Taking us back to the release of Dr. Dre’s “Chronic” album, Episode 3 features vital discussions about free speech, how rap was a misunderstood tool of rebellion, and why Jimmy Iovine and Dre persevered despited persecution. It’s not just about overcoming censorship and catering to the demand of customers: “The Defiant Ones” shows and tells us why this was a make-or-break moment for the most popular music in the country (especially as coastal rap battles turned deadly).
Where to Watch: HBO NOW
Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot”
Written by: Andrea Savage
Directed by: Rachel Goldenberg
Judith Light telling Andrea Savage to fuck off about air conditioning is not something anyone knew they needed until it happened, but now it’s impossible to imagine a world without it. These are the joys of “I’m Sorry,” a charming addition to the “Curb Your Enthusiasm”/”Louie” awkward comedy genre. Savage, as an alternate version of herself, is a confident, confrontational voice thrust into situations where a polite, timid discourse is the norm. Hence, conflicts like the A/C dispute pop up in the most hysterical ways. Both adventurous and assured, the pilot sets a tone any freshman series would want, making us excited to see where the rest of the season goes.
Where to Watch: TruTV, Amazon Video, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play
Season 2, Episode 1, “Hella Great”
Written by: Issa Rae
Directed by: Melina Matsoukas
“Insecure” returned more confident than ever in its Season 2 premiere, as we picked up shortly after Issa and Lawrence’s break-up. Because Issa knows what she wants — to get back together with her ex — both she and the series overall have a renewed focus. Issa’s rap about first-date struggles is set up nicely by propulsive editing and her out-of-control party, designed to impress Lawrence, does more than emphasize her future disappointment. It’s fun and surprising, just like the show. If you haven’t binged yet, be sure to get on it. Season 2 is just getting started.
Where to Watch: HBO NOW
Season 3, Episode 8, “Old Pueblo”
Written by: Byron Balasco
Directed by: Michael Morris
“Kingdom” is so good, you guys. As soon as it becomes more widely available, which feels inevitable now that the series is ending, be sure to track this down immediately. For those of you with DirecTV access, the eighth episode of Season 3 stood out for more than its jarring opening: An elderly woman played by Talia Shire, later revealed to be Alvey’s mother, attempted to jump off a parking garage. The lengthy sequence set up an episode of bonding between brothers. Be it literal brothers like Nate (Nick Jonas) and Jay (Jonathan Tucker) or brothers in the ring, like Ryan (Matt Lauria) and Alvey (Frank Grillo), the Kulina matriarch’s suicide attempt brought everyone back to center. (But we haven’t forgotten about her wants yet, and neither has Alvey. These final two episodes are going to be intense.)
Where to Watch: Audience Network
“Last Chance U”
Season 2, Episode 6, “The Curse”
Directed by: Adam Ridley
Sometimes you forget what you’re watching; not literally (we hope), but it’s easy to get so sucked up in a narrative you forget its unique perspective. Maybe you’ve been watching “House of Cards” so long it seems natural for people to roll their eyes at the camera, or perhaps you’ve been bingeing “Friday Night Lights” long enough to think everyone has a thick, seductive Texas twang. “Last Chance U” gives viewers a declarative reminder of what it’s all about in Episode 6, when the Goliath football team from East Mississippi Community College visits Coahoma, a program that can barely field a squad. Most junior college teams look like Coahoma: They’re not that bad, but they’re far from the elite, Division-1A worthy team put together at EMCC. How the schools collide on and off the field proves to be fascinating drama, offering just the right shift before Season 2 wraps up.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Continue reading for the best episodes of “Ozark,” “Twin Peaks,” and a very recent premiere.