Blurred Lines: ‘Prestige Comedy’ and The Drama it Entails

“I think we’re really close when we’re going to have to retire ‘sitcom’ or ‘drama’ as a descriptor for these shows,” said Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture TV critic, on a recent episode of the Vulture TV Podcast. “[Atlanta] is a half hour show, and it’s funny, but I don’t know if I’d describe it as a situational comedy.”

But it’s not all fun and games—I mean, obviously, as the lines between comedy and drama get blurred—some aren’t willing to let the shift happen without a comment, as Dan Nosowitz writes for Splitsider:

Not so long ago, my favorite comedies were light and fun and escapist. Today my favorite comedies tend to be dark and not always funny. With a few exceptions (Broad City, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), the best comedies on TV are not really suited to a casual, I-just-want-something-funny viewing. The remaining comedies that still aim for sheer jokes are either garbage (The Big Bang Theory) or highly experimental and thus also not really suited for casual watching (The Eric Andre Show, Lady Dynamite).

…The joke-focused comedy now seems somehow uncool, a little dusty. TV has drifted into a space where boundaries matter less: a show can be 11 minutes long or 90, can air on an app or on broadcast TV, can feature huge movie stars or complete unknowns, can come from any country and become a hit domestically, can take on any subject in any way. With that kind of freedom, a half-hour sitcom seems unnecessarily restrictive and old-timey, and not very exciting.

There is, I think, a diminishing pool of superb joke-focused TV comedies, a void left by 30 Rock and Arrested Development and New Girl (I know, it’s still airing, but be honest, have you watched it in the past few years?). This isn’t a grumpy-old-man screed for some form of the past like multi-camera shows, but a plea for something simpler: I want more shows that are, you know, fun. There seems to be some feeling that to be great, truly great, a comedy can’t just be a comedy, but must also tap into something dark and real and painful.

On the one hand I see Nosowitz’s point: I love comedy, and there has been a dearth of “easy to watch” comedies in my rotation over the past few years. Though the rising tide of prestige TV and sheer amount of original content promises more diversity; more room for experimental, boundary-pushing shows to breathe, the advent of “prestige comedy” is a fairly traditional mindset of undervaluing comedic acting. It’s why Robin Williams wins for Good Will Hunting but not any of assorted, brilliant comedic turns. It’s why Mad Men or Breaking Bad get to be considered “innovating prestige TV” while staying almost entirely humorless, but Jane the Virgin needs to be the first one to call itself out.

But it seems a bit narrow-focused to say that there are no more just “fun” shows. New Girl is still on Fox; over on NBC the laughs are fairly easy and free-flowing on The Good Place or Superstore; ABC offers a whole block of comedies like Fresh Off the Boat, Black-ish, The Carmichael Show, The Goldbergs, Modern Family, The Middle—you get the picture. Like someone who complains that they’re not hearing something about a real world development on their Twitter timeline, what you choose to follow is reflective of you and your tastes.

Nosowitz’s main point—that “prestige” comedy is being favored over the more carefree comedy of old—can still be valid; after all, most viewers aren’t likely to tell you that The Middle did something so fantastic it blew You’re The Worst out of the water. But I disagree with the idea that there’s inherent value in comedy just because it forcefully keeps it light. Where he argues that the “depressing lives of the cast of Cheers” is just some of the darkness that exists “in the background,” it seems disingenuous to say it should stay there. I won’t say that modern comedy is doing comedy better than older sitcoms, nor would I say that our generation “knows better.” But as part of building on what came before, comedy writers are drawing out that darkness and actually acknowledging it. mv5bmjm0ntk0odewml5bml5banbnxkftztgwnzqwmjc3ote-_v1_Some shows make this look easy—It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is the logical successor to the “apathetic psychosis” of the Seinfeld crown, staying light on its feet and letting the audience appreciate just how depraved this gang can get; You’re the Worst expertly guards its characters with emotional barbed wire until suddenly it forces the audience to realize how flimsy and cruel their defenses are. But ultimately that acknowledgement of humanity (or the disassociation with it) is just as real, and necessary, as it is on something like Modern Family or Black-ish, even if on those shows it can seem a bit more saccharine.

No one I know exists wholly in the drama or comedy realm. Even in their serious moments, most people I know only muster about 20 solid seconds of solemn communication before returning to banter. That doesn’t make life hard to watch, and I don’t think it makes comedy tinged with serious themes—BoJack Horseman, You’re the Worst, or Jane the Virgin—harder to watch either. Modern comedy writing, with all its warts and dips into drama, may not be inherently more realistic than something like I Love Lucy or Cheers, but it does feel a bit more honest.

Is Liz Lemon our last under the radar asexual?

Representation on television—with the obvious caveat of still having a ways to go—is getting better and better. We have more types of sexualities and relationships being portrayed onscreen than ever before. Perhaps one of the most elusive enigmas in terms of sexuality on screen is asexuals. From a institution point of view they have nothing that Hollywood so values in onscreen relationships—namely sex scenes and accompanying narrative/humor. But as we get broader representation we are starting to see some characters declare themselves as such; like on Sirens or (possibly) the latest season of Bojack Horseman.

Which brings us to Liz Lemon. 30 Rock bridged a weird time in comedy; straddling the sort of subtly nasty humor so prevalent in 80s and 90s sitcoms with the more politically aware comedies of now.

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“Is that supposed to be sex, Lemon?” “It is the way I do it.” 

Liz’s sexuality arguably falls in the cracks of the former here, with jokes about her not just discomfort with sex and sexuality but her active distaste for it rarely getting serious treatment.

 

But it seems to me like Liz is a poster child for asexuality. On numerous occasions she expresses desire for a romantic relationship that is free from sex, bemoaning the seemingly contractural obligations she has as a girlfriend. She longs for a relationship where you just watch TV and no one tries any “funny business.”

Had the show been on now I’m not sure much would’ve changed; Tina Fey has proven time and time again that she’s not very interested in analyzing the comedy she puts out in the world, and I’m betting that Liz’s sex negativity would be just another hilarious gags that the SJWs expect her to apologize for rather than a nuanced look at sexuality. Even still, her time on TV possibly marks one of the last characters whose disinclination towards sex could skate with a slap on the knee instead of discussion. Here’s to many more asexuals gracing our screens in years to come.

Saying goodbye to The Nightly Show 

Larry Wilmore’s Comedy Central talk show might not have found a lot of viewers. It might’ve been a bit odd; a meandering change of pace compared to the quick zingers that flew from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for all those years. But it shouldn’t have been cancelled. 

This is not a unique opinion. Since the news broke yesterday many people have bemoaned the fact that the late night landscape has a hole, and as a whole is that much whiter. Clearly not enough for Comedy Central to count them as viewers, but not an insignificant number. 

From my view, The Nightly Show was trying to do something no one else was. Like the best of The Daily Show alum from its prime in the aughts, Wilmore adopted the humor and insightfulness of his time with Jon Stewart but recalibrated it into a new format and a different style of talk show. The result was unique: Like Last Week Tonight or Full Frontal, Wilmore was able to use talk show set ups and comedy people were familiar with to discuss similar issues. To some it seemed light on jokes. And it was arguably not going to reach the people it should’ve, but for once there was someone consistently “reporting” and doing in depth discussions on the major issues of the day. Often the show dealt with the racial inequality and police violence that has been at the forefront of American politics for two years. Wilmore and his gaggle of guests never had to shy away from topics, they only needed to illuminate them. 

Any problems with The Nightly Show itself could’ve been overcome had there been a stronger base supporting it. By which I mean, The Colbert Report could count on at least some built in, carry over audience from The Daily Show; Jon Stewart even threw to him at the end so audiences could get a taste. But since Stewart’s departure and Trevor Noah’s time at the helm, TDS has lost its cultural foothold. In an election year it used to be a thriving factory of jokes and burns. Now it’s barely on the radar. 

Whil Wilmore’s format might’ve been a bit too fresh, his topics a bit hot button, his jokes a bit drawn apart, I’m guessing audiences could’ve ultimately found time to adjust, as they did when Colbert went full into character on his own show. But you can’t cancel an institution (at least not within two years of its first change in more than a decade) and so The Nightly Show got the ax. 

It will be missed. 

Luther’s Legacy

Luther is less of a TV show and more of a comic book.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s got all the pulpy sensibility of a comic, the sort of haphazard violence and motivation that makes for thrilling panels. Between its elegant direction and its surprisingly eye-popping cinematography, it almost seems like it’s already leaping out of a page. 1920Or vice-versa: The show could’ve been easily adapted into a gritty, complex antihero graphic novel, without much changing the characters.

The show’s attempts to frame Luther, its titular hero, as the sole protagonist always seemed to fall a bit short. Both Luther and Luther crackled best when Alice was involved, and its side characters always seemed to be bursting at the seams to do more, thanks largely to the actors. Removing Alice—or at least downplaying her role in Luther’s life—left the show limp, exposing more cracks than foundation. Its second season never managed to quite earn the Luther saves the teen hooker with a heart of gold emotion it wanted to. The third, wrapped itself around and around trying to give Luther a proper (but not too high) wall to climb. And the fourth—well, the fourth didn’t have Alice did it? It was merely left to examine the hole she carved in Luther’s life, and this show is best when it isn’t examined too closely. luther-idris-elba-ruth-wilson.jpg

Because as a TV show it could never quite make the connections it needed to. The show is ultimately saved thanks to its cast of captivating player, obviously and notably including Idris Elba, who imbues Luther with the weight of the world and an aloofness that is seldom matched in antiheroes.

But the writing was never quite up to snuff. Luther wasn’t as interested in the relationships of it all as it was in the way the show and its players met up with Luther. Alice was the only one who consistently felt like a good sounding board for Luther, but the show couldn’t keep up things to do with her without going too big. Without any sort of receiving outlet, there’s no where for our favorite London cop to get a good buzz. It leaves a viewer thinking that the crackle of Luther was more akin to that of House of Cards than The Wire: All sizzle, and no spark.

For the Greater Good

I’ve been enjoying my cruise through BBC’s Luther. It’s a great showcase for Idris Elba, Hollywood’s leading man who perpetually needs more time, and I can’t think of another show that seems to paint its supporting cast so minimally yet still yields mostly rich stories from them. It’s ludicrous, often, but it’s matched by its appealing watchability. But there are some criticisms that haven’t gone unnoticed. For now we won’t touch on how the women often get fridged or take the fall for Luther’s methods. Today we’ll just talk about how Luther is a cop.

It’s a profession, but it’s a lifestyle. Luther is framed to be the sort of guy whose whole life has pointed him here; his methods, his madness, they all add up to brilliant cop. But he also doesn’t play by the rules (classic). He routinely breaks not only protocol but trust with the public he’s sworn to protect. And it’s all in the name of the “greater good”—something the narrative rewards him for. He’s the title character after all, everything he does is if not sympathetic than at least understandable.

But in a year when U.S. police have killed over 700 people since January 1 that mentality takes on a new danger. Police in procedurals are used like toilet paper, they’re easy to reach for and often sullied. That constant dimensional narrative, available in whatever flavor of cop show you like, helps humanize the police force, making them seem dimensional in the face of the protestors against them—who are, in turn, often not multi-faceted. And when we see narratives like Luther‘s, it helps reinforce the narrative that police always know best, even when they are clearly crossing a line.

For anyone out there who thinks that’s not true, that pop culture shouldn’t be taken so seriously or that seeing that narrative isn’t aiding and abetting: When was the last time you saw a show that humanized DOL workers?

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*actual speed

On the eve of UnReal‘s finale, we’ve all got questions on our minds: What will Quinn and Rachel’s renewed alliance yield? Who will Darius pick? How the hell did this show go so off the rails?

There aren’t a lot of definitive answers to be found (yet). There’s a lot of awkward growing pains and remaining faults that lined the path for a disappointing sophomore year from last year’s critical darling. But most agree that the seventh episode of the season, “Ambush” is a lowpoint for the show.

After Darius, Romeo, and two of the contestants steal a car, Rachel and her showrunner boyfriend Coleman sic the cops on them, knowing it will make for great TV. When Rachel starts to have doubts after seeing just how far the cops will go when they pull over a black man in a fancy car that’s not his without a license, she darts out to call them off—only to alarm the cops, who accidentally shoot Romeo. unreal-ambush

After the shot the camera follows Rachel as she trips in the field she’s running through, the camera holding and tumbling with her, as she lies on the ground in shock. It’s a highly manufactured shot, one showrunner Sarah Gertrude Shapiro wanted especially to show how the event rocked Rachel and “turned her world upside down.”

Except, it’s not really her role that got turned upside down. It’s Romeo’s. Rachel was not subject to sadly prescient police brutality, Romeo was. Darius was. Rachel, a white woman, would never be. And while the effects of that shooting should affect her—as the cause, bystander, and protagonist of the series—it’s absurd that her narrative would be the one focused on here.

Two episodes later, one left in the season, and we still haven’t gotten an update on Romeo’s medical condition. For a show that’s allegedly supposed to be showing how those outside the black community can’t understand pressures on that community, and then to tell their story specifically through someone else’s viewpoint is a wildly misguided and privileged thing to do. Black lives matter, and white showrunners shouldn’t only engage with that when there’s white lives involved.

Perhaps with a few cuts and snips UnReal could’ve saved its white savior narrative. But the fact that we still aren’t sure whether they’ve saved Romeo means there’s a whole season’s worth of cuts and snips that had already gone untouched.

Will “The Night Of” revive or kill its niche?

With HBO’s latest scripted drama premiering this week, many are saying that it’s a sign that there’s life for the network beyond “Game of Thrones.” That’s a bit bizarre to say about a network that had five seasons of a show regularly labeled “the greatest show of all time” to its airwaves before, but let’s interrogate this deeper.

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“The Night Of” follows Nasir Khan through the titular night, where he spends a dreamy night with an attractive stranger only to wake up and find her dead. He has no memory of what happened after they started hooking up, thanks to the countless drinks and drugs the two did, and flees the scene. He’s caught by the end of the first episode, and from here only two things are clear: A girl is dead, and no one has any idea what the truth is.

I know what you’re thinking: What a cliche. And you’d be right. “The Night Of” is, on paper, a classic formula, with a pinch of unreliable narrator and a dash of modern racial politics. But to its fans, “The Night Of” is proof that a concept is never truly dead, only done poorly.

It’s a concept I personally believe. For every person that said zombies are done and rom-coms are over, I invite you to look at the consistently highest-rated television show and the new, raunchier face of modern romance. “X-Men: Apocalypse” was atrocious, but the ideas behind it held promise. It’s a cliche but it’s a cliche for a reason: There’s only bad execution. And one thing you can’t say about “The Night Of” is that it has poor execution.

If the devil’s in the details, “The Night Of” is dancing on his lab. It revels in the small reveals, the meticulous uncombing of plot. It’s careful with every corner of world, from plot and characters to backdrop and props. If it keeps this up, it’ll no doubt result in a turning point for the genre, or at least a fleet of network copycats.

For now I’m unconvinced that “The Night Of” is the promised one. I enjoyed the pilot immensely, but I have a soft spot for slow, brooding crime drama (or just crime shows in general) and it’s only been 90 minutes of plot development. While this show may be the successor to HBO’s crime procedural hole after “True Detective” stumbled, it’s not the only thing “breathing life” into the genre. And in fact, it may be the most reductive thing: Where “The Night Of” brings the definitive detective wireframe, “Serial” and “Making a Murderer” have completely upended the discussion. Where the new HBO show presents yet another dose for dead girl fatigue, “Jessica Jones” flips the script. And where “The Night Of” follows HBO’s gloom in the cinematography, “Hannibal” danced in stunning disquiet.

Like I said, it’s only been one episode. And given that crime procedurals are a dime a dozen, this is probably just one more flavor of the week that its up to the viewer to decide if it’s good enough. I’ll be watching along every weekend with everyone else, eagerly anticipating a new morsel, clue, or twist. But I’m not sure the case is closed on procedurals.

Floating Perspective vs. O.J. Simpson

American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, like any true crime series, is not all that it could be. But perhaps the thing it does best is ground itself in its ensemble, thereby never truly tipping its hand as to where it thinks blame should lie.

The show is officially agnostic on whether they think Simpson truly committed the heinous acts brought against him in the 1990s. Which is good; even decades after the “trial of the century” no one’s 100 percent sure what happened that fateful night. Heck, no one’s even wholly clear on what happened with the trial. Which is what the showrunners of American Crime Story want to get to the bottom of.

Eight episodes in and they’ve turned the story over and over as it rolls along: How Johnnie Cochran got involved, how the tense race relations between the LAPD and the community came up (and stayed up), Marcia Clark’s ill-fated attempts to turn the trial on gender and domestic violence, and her own interactions with those things during the trial.

web_largecoverart_series_american-crime-story_270x398_update.jpgBut the show refuses to favor any one plot line over another. Selectively, for an episode or a scene here or there, sure. But in the grand scheme of the show, American Crime Story doesn’t immediately anchor itself in any one character. My guess is any feelings as to a “protagonist” or “lead” would betray the sympathies and understandings of the viewer, not the show.

It may show us Clark’s trial and tribulations at the hands of a story-hungry press, seemingly with no line they’re unwilling to cross. It may show us the tough world Clark found herself in, occupying the unfortunate overlap between glaring media spotlight and being a professional woman in the 1990s. But that doesn’t stop us from seeing her failures as a lawyer: Her inability to see or seriously consider Mark Fuhrman’s racism, the decision to forgo what the jury experts were telling her, ignoring key witnesses because they gave interviews, and her miscalculation on what the trial frenzy would amount to. In the hands of American Crime Story, we see Marcia Clark as a woman who made some missteps and suffered vicious sexism, not just a competent woman who can clearly point to sexism as a reason for poor outcomes.

And we see it throughout the cast: Cochran, Christopher Darden, Robert Shapiro—none of these “characters” are given preference, and so all of them are given a limelight. It’s an ensemble in the true sense of the word, and as such it’s much more able to demonstrate how this trial snowballed into the frenzy that it’s known today while also establishing why its characters would have no idea how to handle that. If they wanted to put a single person on trial they could have anchored it anywhere. But the choice to leave its perspective as a sort of tether-less, amorphous gas cloud shared by all its players is exactly how to show how suffocating the climate around the trial was.

99 problems and they’re all teens with authority problems

Unto every generation a teen sci-fi/fantasy drama is born. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Smallville. Dark Angel. To be effective these shows have to clearly identify (and sometimes go out of their way) to establish why the teens are the ones bestowed with these powers, this narrative. But rarely is a show as effective as establishing why the story’s narrative falls on a sixteen-year-old as The 100. 

The plot comes at you fast: Mankind has been relegated to space decades after a nuclear war left Earth uninhabitable. On the space station all crimes are punishable by death, unless you’re under 18; in that case you’re just put in solitary confinement until you reach adulthood and get your case reviewed. But as “the arc” runs out of life-support, the leaders concoct a risky plan: Send the 100 youth prisoners to Earth to check its habitability. Either they die on radiation impact, or they can send up an all-clear.

When they hit the ground the best laid plans go a bit awry, but anyone who’s familiar with Lord of the Flies knows what can happen when you leave kids in the wilderness to their own devices. For starters, that title number starts gets whittled down pretty fast. During its first season the show negotiates the arc’s survival with the kids’ as the primary drivers of the narrative: What they do, how they survive, and how they build a society are the decisions that impact everything we know in the universe.

As more of the arc population follows, and adults make their way down to Earth, so does the traditional power structure from the arc: There’s an elected chancellor, a council to weigh decisions, etc. But the kids have had a taste of the good life. They know how they would run it if given the chance, and they know the terrain better than anyone who could legally drink. A lesser narrative might shrug that off and return to traditional roles. Not The 100.

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None of these people could vote against Trump if given the chance.

The world of The 100 ripples with trauma. The show lives by the mantra that no one is safe, killing swiftly and effectively across the board. Characters don’t have time to fully deal with their trauma, and that means that traditional norms of adulthood and age fall by the wayside. It’s more compelling than your average teen drama, when a sixteen-year-old whines to their mother that they’re 16 and they can handle it, Mom. In this case “handling it” is the difference between a literal life and death, war and peace. And that whiney teen might actually know best, because no one knows anything.

It’s important that The 100 chose to acknowledge this head on. When the adults land on Earth they’re ready for business as usual, and largely operate as such. And for the first handful of episodes on the second season the kids abide, in some way or another, biding their time and taking stock of the new era. But soon their subterfuge and secret missions become more than just the driving force of the show, they become the driving means of diplomacy for all the characters.

By the time Lexa is on the scene, Clarke and her gang of former prisoners are more than just a thorn in the side of the adults in charge or the projection of the teen audience. They’re leaders of the pack.  And once the adults realize that, the last semblance of societal norms fall away, and The 100 establishes itself as an effective teen, sci-fi thriller.

Abby: [The grounders] are being lead by a child.

Kane: So are we.

 

Vikings Season 3 and The Perfect Protagonist Problem in Paris

This post will detail the final bits of Vikings season 3. Spoiler-averse ye be warned. 

Vikings is one of those shows I’m ready to go to the mat for. Though it has its downsides, the show has proved itself time and time again to be built on a strong understanding of perspective, both historically and narratively. But by the end of season three, it became clear to me that Vikings has a perfect protagonist problem.

I’ve written in the past about how much of Vikings, to me, hinges on Travis Fimmel’s performance as Ragnar Lothbrok—which luckily he regularly wields with enigmatic precision. The problem is, within the show his character is situated in a bit of a house of cards. His whole identity has been as a fantastic warrior and tactician, even if he strives for something different (or at least claims to). For that to work in the story, he must frequently be at least one step ahead of those around him. And Vikings does give us a lot of evidence that this is believable for him: Unlike leaders on Game of Thrones, Ragnar is not prone to long-winded speeches of intimidation, preferring to hang back and watch others interact and offering his opinion (only) when needed. He’s a good study of character, combat, and condition, so it makes sense that he can throw all that weight behind planning a battle. We’ve seen him pull off impressive coups against leaders who have (perhaps wrongfully) feared his lust for power and prowess, and they have all hinged on his understanding of himself and those around him both as players and pawns.

It also explains how he would know his previous right-hand-man Floki had murdered his closest friend Athlestan. And why he wouldn’t confront Floki immediately; he has tactical use, and Ragnar is eager to broach the walls of Paris. What it doesn’t explain is why we’re expected to believe such a hootenanny plan which was apparently Ragnar’s: Allow Floki to lead the first charge, which would probably fail, wound himself to the point of near death, and ask the Parisian christians to baptize him. episode-10-season-3-of-history-channels-vikings-ragar-takes-paris.jpgOnce dead, he would demand a proper funeral in their church, from where he would burst out of the coffin and let in his fellow vikings to ransack the city.

Oddly, the part I have fewer and fewer bones to pick is with the historical accuracy of this plan. Christians were reportedly very particular about their funeral rites, particularly that of reformed pagans. That Athlestan’s death would be the catalyst for Ragnar’s idea (which, historically, is often credited to Bjørn Ironside’s exploits in Italy) is not so far fetched to me. I’ll even throw my hat in for those who believe that Ragnar may believe or at least question whether both faiths are real.

What is far-fetched is that Ragnar would lose 1000 men to what is, essentially, a big game of misdirection. To be fair, during these episodes the show did legitimately manage to toy with my emotions; the thrilling initial siege on Paris was hitting all the right notes for a vikings victory until it wasn’t (much like recent events), and it did seem like for however wooden the French court scenes were the battle sequences showed some innovation the vikings weren’t prepared for. Understanding that Ragnar had to make the war look convincing, it’s fair that he would spend months and months waiting them out. He is a patient man.

But the Parisian siege felt like it had turned their golden goose into a gimmick. Fimmel’s Ragnar is a protagonist who works best when he doesn’t have to explain himself, which can leave the reality of his character tied up in the reveal. Towards the end of season three, Ragnar was monologuing (ostensibly talking to his friend in Christian heaven) about his grand plans, and for that grand plan to ultimately be so far fetched it called into question much of the character—which is saying something considering season 2’s coup-de-grace. That this winding and counterintuitive plan would go off without a hitch doesn’t necessarily speak to Ragnar’s prowess as a tactician, but as a character too tied up in contrivances.

And at the end of all of that, it’s still not even entirely clear what lesson he was trying to teach Floki, let alone what his patient revenge was. The season ended almost too quietly when Ragnar finally let Floki know that his murderous deeds were known. The show had already asked its characters to externalize a lot of their conflicts, such as Ragnar’s demise and issues with Floki, and then pulled a massive bait-and-switch that didn’t feel truly earned. Then as it offers us these true “big” moments as season enders, we’re not surprised by most of them because they already felt so improbable and we as the audience had already internalized a lot of the issues at play.

Though the show’s laissez fare attitude towards pacing can be oddly thrilling (not to clear all issues off the table before allowing its time period to move forward) it makes me nervous to think of launching into season 4 come mid-February, and swiftly moving away from the events around Paris. Vikings season 3 struggled a bit under the weight of a few too many storylines (Bjørn’s love life is just yawn, but the English courts also needed some better tie-in by the end), and I’d hate to see these central vikings get squeezed out in a time-jump. So far I’m still willing to see how high they’ll stack up these issues before the shark jumps over, but I’d be disappointed if it means diminishing returns on all the balls in the air. As the theme song goes, “more, give me more, give me more.”

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