I’m going to briefly tell you about three amazing episodes of television that almost none of you saw this week. In some cases, I believe these are series you should watch, if you do not, and therefore, I don’t want spoil the episodes. So:
Fear the Walking Dead — I know, I know! You gave up last season. Or two seasons ago. Or you never even bothered. Or maybe you think of Fear the Walking Dead the way I used to think about Agents of SHIELD before I gave up on it: That every once in a while it’d give you an episode just good enough to keep you watching only to let you down again the very next week.
And maybe that will happen here, too. But, there have been two good episodes of Fear the Walking Dead in a row, and not just good episodes. Great episodes, and not just “great for Fear the Walking Dead episodes, but great episodes of television.
I wrote about this extensively over on Uproxx. I think the show has turned in a corner in a way that may be more permanent because these two episodes weren’t entirely reliant on plot developments. The series has finally found their best characters — Nick, Troy, and Alicia — and they’re developing them, keeping their focus on them. They show really needs to lose Madison and Daniel, but I truly think the show has finally found is legs. It took three seasons, and you may not want to slog through the first two seasons to get here. But, if you bailed after season two, it’s definitely worth catching up on it this year if you’re a fan of the universe (and these last two episodes have been as good or better than anything produced on The Walking Dead).
Mr. Mercedes — I have talked a little about this show before — a David Kelley created adaptation of a Stephen King novel, largely directed by Lost’s Jack Bender and featuring episodes written by Dennis Lehane and A.M. Homes. Oh, and it also stars Brendan Gleeson. It’s a really good hard-boiled detective series about a retired, alcoholic cop (Gleeson) trying to solve the murder of the Mercedes killer (Harry Treadway) — a guy who, years before, plowed into a crowd of people in a stolen Mercedes because he felt like it. It’s a ten-episode series, I believe, and next week’s is the finale, but when it shows up on Netflix or Amazon, jump on it (it’s currently on DirectTV’s Audience Network, so many of you probably don’t even have access to it). It’s great television, and it has not been afraid to kill off some of its higher-profile names, often in dramatic fashion.
Halt & Catch Fire — This one is two episodes away from its series finale, and it’s five seasons long, so if you’re not onboard yet, you’re not gonna catch up by the finale. But it’s worth it to get invested at some point. The AMC series struggled in its opening seasons — sometimes badly — but the network had faith in it for some reason. There was little in that opening season aside from a terrific cast to give AMC any reason to renew it, but they did anyway, and even as the ratings have fallen so far that basically it’s just a handful of critics watching this show on Saturday nights, it has managed to improve every reason. At this point, it’s remarkably good. This week was a “big” episode, but they handled it in a very restrained manner, and it was twice as effective for it. I knew it was coming — I think the 14 of us who still watch this series have known it was coming for three seasons — but they handled it so gracefully, so delicately. It’s a great show, not just for the cast (Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Toby Huss, Kerry Bishé, Mackenzie Davis), but for essentially taking us through the computer age, from PCs to video games to the Internet to the search engine wars. I can’t recommend this show enough, and it has sadly been one of the biggest casualties of the Peak TV era.