THE RACE: WEEK 2 (September 30-October 6)
Castle (10/9c, ABC) – Another dynamite ep. I’m probably alone in this, but I actually like it when this show does dramatic storylines as opposed to its usual comedic fare. Just like when Beckett was standing on that bomb last season, this one had me hooked. With Castle’s life on the line, I could feel the desperation of the agents scrambling to save him, the creeping concerns of his uninformed family, and Castle and Beckett’s own angst as the situation slipped steadily out of their control. Put all that together with a genuinely heartbreaking, totally believable case, and you’ve got a stellar episode of Castle. SCORE: 8.5/10
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (8/7c, ABC) – Still high-quality, with electrifying special FX. Not quite as funny as the pilot, but very entertaining. I wasn’t sure how this show would work without superheroes, but it seems to be chugging along just fine. Totally digging the all the movie references and tie-ins, from exploding people (as seen in Iron Man 3) to mentions of the Tesseract. And I can’t believe they actually got Samuel L. Jackson on there – that was awesome! SCORE: 7/10
Chicago Fire (10/9c, NBC) – Oodles more firehouse drama. I don’t know how they pack so much into each episode! The last thing Matt needs is the added responsibility of two troubled, traumatized young boys, and yet that’s what he got. That’s the way life works sometimes. Renee’s baby was, indeed, the product of a one-night stand. My heart broke a bit for her and Severide. He said earlier that it didn’t change anything between them if the baby wasn’t his, but clearly it did – she walked out, and he didn’t stop her. Oh, and to make things worse for everybody, Hadley, the prankster jerk from Season One, may be the arsonist targeting the firehouse. He sure didn’t deny it, did he? And what is up with Gabriella’s new love interest? Is she taking a break from heroes to fall for a bad guy? Much like CBS’ The Good Wife, Chicago Fire continues to effortlessly juggle numerous characters and plotlines without missing a beat. SCORE: 8/10
Elementary (10/9c, CBS) – Very nice B Plot about Watson and the man she accidentally killed. I like the way Sherlock handled it, and the way Watson eventually played her hand. The ending moment between them was sweet. These two characters may not share that magic Jane/Lisbon or Mulder/Scully onscreen chemistry, but in quiet moments, when genuine affections are revealed, this relationship works. SCORE: 7/10
The Mentalist (10/9c, CBS) – The hunt continues! I was pretty shocked that Red John left Lisbon there. I thought for sure he’d kidnapped her, and that we’d be going into a fast-paced end-game, climaxing with a Red John/Jane showdown. It seems, though, that the writers want to have a little more fun first. By painting Lisbon’s face like that, I think RJ was playing with Jane – warning our favorite mentalist that Lisbon will be dead before all this is over. Red John marked Lisbon as a future victim, and Jane was suitably freaked. His voice broke as he asked for water, and his hands shook as he desperately washed the blood from Lisbon’s face. A+ acting, A+ creep factor. This whole episode was definitely one of the eeriest Mentalist episodes to date, from Lisbon’s super-scary, blood-drenched nightmare to the numerous interactions she and Jane had with various suspects. Oh, and don’t forget about poor Sophie’s HEAD in the oven. Blech! I actually really loved how they used her as the source of Red John’s inside info – it was something I never thought of in all my theorizing, and it fits really well. I just wish her death had been more than a footnote, though. She was really important to Jane – she saved his life. Haffner whistling “Jimmy Crack Corn” certainly gave me a shudder, but I wouldn’t call him a particularly talented whistler – just average. And what is up with Bertram, the Sheriff, and Agent Reid holding a super-secret meeting? Maybe there is something to that “He is Many” idea after all. SCORE: 8.5/10
This week’s winner: A two-way tie between Castle and The Mentalist, who both brought their A games with top-notch performances and plots.