Despite all the suggestions that we’re in a new golden age of television, there’s still plenty of hand-wringing and pearl clutching over the phenomenon of binge watching. Some argue simply that it undermines the experience. It’s also been suggested that binge watching can kill.
That a lot of us are binging, particularly on streaming content, is clear. The health scare aspect seems to ignore that concerns over how much is too much go back to at least the 1980s. The argument that we’re somehow depriving ourselves by not seeing a series as originally intended (complete with months-long, between-seasons hiatuses) ignores the very basic human tendency to want more of what we like. Binge watching is perhaps the highest compliment that can be paid to an ongoing series.
It seems this is the year creative time skips became an unexpected fashion in television. Both True Detective and Fargo pulled off the unprecedented move of jumping forward in time in the middle of an episode, and now Masters of Sex has one-upped them both by performing several jumps in the same episode! My knowledge of TV history is far from comprehensive, but I can’t think of any other show that’s done something like this before (except for a few episodes of The Simpsons, in which time is a… malleable concept, to say the least). Of course, multiple series have ended on greatest hits montages in their final episodes (Six Feet Under, for instance), but to my knowledge, no one has plopped an episode like this into the middle of a season.
This is Richard Sammel’s episode. As the Nazi vampire Eichorst, Sammel has been excellent up until now, but “For Services Rendered” gives him ample screen time to wow us, both in the present and in flashback. He is firing on all cylinders this week, to use a frustratingly apt cliché, to the point where it seemed certain they were going to kill him off after focusing so much on him. Luckily, he hitches a ride on the side of a passing train car, which is badass.
On this week’s (final) episode, Bill makes a difficult request of Sookie, Jessica and Hoyt make a plan for their future, and Pam and Eric start a new business together.
After such a solid final season, True Blood‘s finale is almost a disappointment. Too many storylines feel forced or rushed, and the ending, though happy, rings a little false. Of course, the show didn’t exit without releasing a few more shocking surprises–including a pivotal moment that involves the death of a major character since series’s beginning.