The Walking Dead shows that it can be a smart, nuanced series (when it wants to be)

B+

In the first scene of “The Bridge,” Rick Grimes rhapsodizes about the brightness of the future with his quintessential corniness. “We’re not fighting to survive,” Rick tells some unseen figure (though, of course, we know exactly who he’s talking to). His face is half-shadowed, a clear allusion to the dark past he’s…

In a surprisingly tedious episode, Sharp Objects forgets what makes it such a special show

C+

Sharp Objects is a dark meditation of a show, long on mood and short on forward action. These six hours have been an imagistic evocation of history and emotion animated by a murder mystery that often seems quite cursory—at least, compared to the terrifying richness of the series’ real story, about how Camille Preaker…

In a powerful fourth episode, Sharp Objects explores the pain of a life left to wither on the vine

A

The episode titles for Sharp Objects offer a kind of wry commentary about the surface and subterranean events of the show: “Vanish” is, on its surface, about the two disappeared girls, but it’s also very much about how Camille, despite her best efforts at self-obliteration, will never be able to truly leave her past…

The Walking Dead reminds us that its side characters are its greatest strength

B

“The Key” is simultaneously a reminder of how mercilessly boring The Walking Dead can be (another Rick and Negan bro-off, wherein they “I am rubber, you are glue” each other—and the audience—to death about their respectively crappy leadership styles? Oh joy.) and a tantalizing, frustrating glimpse at another version…

The Walking Dead gives us one tantalizing flash of real darkness among all the table-setting

B

“Dead Or Alive” is a mostly quotidian episode of The Walking Dead. Daryl Dixon scowls in a most dirty-sexy fashion, and otherwise good people briefly flirt with their darker, crueler impulses, only to reject them (as we knew they would)—though those impulses are, arguably, more pragmatic. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plumbs…