13 Terrific Television Episodes Directed by Women! - Bloody Disgusting
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13 Terrific Television Episodes Directed by Women!

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A person learns a lot when they put together a list such as this. For instance, apparently, back in the 1960s, prominent lady filmmaker Ezra Stone directed twenty-seven episodes of The Munsters, more than any other person in the entirety of the show. Around the same time, Lela Swift directed a massive 588 episodes of Dark Shadows, a remarkable figure that would be impressive even in today’s world. However, some other shows that are currently on the air proved to be far less compelling, as American Horror Story, Scream Queens, Hannibal, Supernatural, and From Dusk Till Dawn (the T.V. series) are all listed as having zero female directors for their entire runtime. Luckily, since most of these shows are still running, there’s still time for them to fix the error of their ways, but isn’t it odd that television programs that aired about fifty years ago were more progressive in the advancement of female filmmakers than many of the programs that we all watch today?

Regardless of the reasons, it’s an interesting and important topic to shed light on, because it shows that just because a show is newer, or may rely on a large female demographic, doesn’t mean that it’s doing anything for ladies in Hollywood. Also, another point that needs to be mentioned is that although some of these other shows may feature a female director here and there, doesn’t mean that they’re branching out to find new, upcoming lady filmmakers in that particular field. Many of the same names kept popping up for multiple shows, which, although is undoubtedly exciting and well-deserved for those women, winds up being slightly disappointing in its variety of ladies standing behind the camera, since there are still so many worthy names that could be called upon for a shoot.

Despite the fact that some titles have chosen to forgo female directors, or simply haven’t hired one for work yet, it’s still thrilling to see women’s names pop up on so many shows that we genre fans have come to love, proving that there are still plenty of programmers out there getting it right. Although there are still far more male names that are credited than females, the foundation for the advancement of ladies in the industry has been cemented, and the only direction to move is forward. Women are finally starting to level out the workload behind the scenes, and that’s something to celebrate. Read on below, and help pay respect to the ones who are laying the groundwork for years to come, and then maybe, one day, hopefully, female filmmakers will become so prominent that they will have directed just as many episodes of television as their worthy counterparts.

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1. “Zombo” (The Munsters) directed by Ezra Stone S2E22

There comes a moment in every father’s life when he has to accept that he is no longer his son’s number one role model. Herman Munster knew that eventually this would happen with Eddie, he just didn’t expect it to be so soon, or hurt him so badly. Herman may be nearly seven feet tall, but inside of his oversized chest is the heart of a child, which is why when he comes home from work, and the little boy who once ran to hug him now stares blankly into the boob tube at his new idol, Zombo, Herman falls back into old habits and winds up throwing a temper tantrum, stomping his feet like a little monster on the living room floor. Zombo is a television personality, who could possibly roped into the same circles as Elvira and the Crypt Keeper, with his macabre appearance, and playful, exaggerated speech. Grandpa tries to pull Herman out of his hole of self-pity through his usual magics, giving him a potion that temporarily alters his body to look more like Zombo, but when he presents his new “adorable” facade to Eddie and his friends, they make him feel even worse, by poking fun and calling him embarrassing. Adding insult to injury, Eddie has just won a contest to gain a bunch of prizes and meet Zombo in person, and take part in a live telecast of the show. It seems that Herman has officially lost the battle for the admiration of his son. That is, until Eddie visits the set of his favorite show and realizes that the creature he’s been looking up to is nothing more than a mere mortal in heavy makeup and a fancy looking cape. This is an interesting episode, not only because it shows a touching connection between Herman and his son, but also because it’s touching in an oddly sort of meta way. As Herman explains to Eddie how the duty of an actor is not necessarily to lie, but to entertain audiences in the art of make believe, it almost seems as if Herman is talking to us, the audience, and any young viewers who may be watching, and think of Herman as a real, living, breathing monster that just happened to stumble into their television sets.

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2. “Into the Woods” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) directed by Marti Noxon S5E7

Although Riley never quite penetrated the heart of Buffy fans quite like Angel or Spike did, in the end, he proved to be a crucial character. Buffy needed a big push to get over Angel and move on into adulthood, and while Parker only worsened her situation by furthering Buffy’s fear of opening herself up to the idea of love, Riley provided the tools needed to usher Buffy into a state of greater confidence, through her first truly healthy relationship. In this episode, Buffy, with Spike’s help, discovers Riley cheating on her with a vampire he paid to suck his blood; an act clearly meant to mirror a cheating man using drugs and prostitution. Once the honeymoon phase between Buffy and Riley is over, and the lingering problems start to truly bubble to the surface, an interesting perspective prevails that is rarely shown on dramatic shows of this nature: sympathy for the cheater. Marti Noxon takes a mature stance on a broken relationship by showing how more often than not, relationships don’t end because one person is downright evil, but because two people are driven to commit questionable actions as a result of trying circumstances. It’s certainly not okay that Riley cheated on Buffy, but this episode suggests a reason why he might have done it, and painfully, but intelligently, shows how the two were heading down separate paths already, and Riley’s betrayal merely sped up the timeline. The two weren’t right for each other, even if for a brief moment in time, their love for one another provided the necessary positive nourishment for each person’s inner growth.

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3. “The Suicide King” (The Walking Dead) directed by Lesli Linka Glatter S3E9

This episode opens with a vicious battle scene, as an angry mob of Woodbury folk swarm around the Dixon brothers, while the Governor orders Merle and Daryl to “fight to the death”. Andrea stands on the sidelines and begs the Governor, a.k.a. Phillip, to stop, but he ignores her and continues to rally the crowd. The citizens even bring out biters on chains to up the ante, eyes roaring red with bloodlust. It seems that one of these men will not leave this ring alive, but just as they begin to fight, gunshots puncture the brains of the surrounding zombies, and tear gas floods the area, while Rick and his crew emerge from the fog, swooping in and stealing back their men back before escaping into the forest. Upon their rejoining with Michonne, Glenn, and Maggie in the woods, not everyone is happy to see Merle again. Merle offers up the secret that Andrea is with the Governor, but this little tidbit of information isn’t enough for the battered gang to roll out the welcome mat at their prison for their longstanding foe. Daryl says he understands, but he can’t let Merle go out into the world on his own again just when they’ve been reunited, so he takes off with his brother, and leaves his newfound family behind. Still unsure of Michonne’s intentions, the group tells her that she can accompany them to the prison to get Hershel to patch her up, but then she has to leave. All of the calm down and cautious dialogue has proven to be too much for a fed up Glenn to handle, and the next walker they come upon dies not by a gunshot wound to the head, but by the power of Glenn’s heel, as he stomps the zombie’s brains into a gooey pulp. Glenn has nearly gone mad with anger after the Governor sexually assaulted his girlfriend Maggie, and screams at Rick that he should have killed the lunatic when he had the chance. It’s an intense moment, and although Rick doesn’t understand exactly what happened to Maggie, he sympathizes with Glenn’s frustration over not being able to protect the one he loves. After all, Rick just lost his own wife, Lori, to the horrors of the apocalypse, and has yet to fully recover himself. That’s why when Tyreese and his crew show up at the prison asking for a place to stay, Rick terrifies them and sends them running, after he completely loses his marbles and begins hallucinating that Lori is staring down at his from the cells above. As Andrea tells the riled up camp back at Woodbury, they have to find the strength within themselves to carry on, just as they’ve always done. Unfortunately, Rick seems far too damaged from all of the trauma he’s endured as of late to open his heart to any newcomers, or even, at this point, the possibility of finding the strength to carry on.

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4. “To Love is To Bury” (True Blood) directed by Nancy Oliver S1E11

Big things are happening down in Bon Temps, Louisiana. For starters, Bill in in the midst of making his very first prodigy, although it is against his will. Soon to be born baby vamp Jessica is kicked into a dirt hole by the heel of Pam’s pump, as Bill climbs in next to her, ready to be buried and complete the transition from Jess’ human life to her new one as a creature of the night. After staking Longshadow, the vampire who previously worked for and betrayed Eric at Fangtasia, Bill is ordered by the Authority to make a new vampire in his place, an act which he deems to be more of a curse than a gift of eternal life. As he wraps his arm around his unborn offspring, Bill broods deeply, only wishing to return to his lover Sookie and be done with his punishment. Meanwhile, Sookie sits at home on her couch next to Sam, who has agreed to protect her in Bill’s absence. The unmasked killer is hot on Sookie’s trail, and she has no idea where Bill is, or when he’ll return. Despite Sam’s recent romantic ties to Tara, it’s as clear as ever that he’s deeply in love with Sookie, and is going to use this opportunity to get as close to her as possible. Although Sookie recently skirmished with the killer face to face, it was under the shadow of darkness, and in her panic, Sookie failed to identify her wicked pursuer. However, in her sleep, Sookie remembers a detail from the inside of the killer’s brain, thanks to her trusty telepathy. Sook tells Sam that there was a brief memory that she picked up from the killer, of him attacking a woman wearing a name tag that read ‘Big Patty’s Pie House’. The two agree to investigate, and upon their arrival, meet a man who fills them in on the murdered waitress from Sookie’s visions. Apparently, the woman was notorious for hanging with vampires, and shortly after her death, her brother disappeared from sight. With a little struggle to remember, the man devouring pie after pie recalls that the brother’s name was Drew Marshall, and that the girl was killed by strangulation. On their way back to Bon Temps, the two stop by the local sheriff’s office, where they persuade a slow-minded deputy to fax a picture of Drew Marshall to the police station back home. While all of this is going on, Jason and his girlfriend Amy engage in less honorable activities through their shared V-addiction, as Amy tightens her hold on Jason through keenly-worded manipulation and home cooked meals. Just as it seems that their toxic relationship is plowing full steam ahead, however, the unknown killer strikes again, killing Amy in her sleep as she lies peacefully next to Jason. Believing himself to be the assassin, Jason thinks that he might have been the one to hurt Amy while he was in his drug-induced state, and immediately turns himself in to the law. Back at Sookie’s house, Bill finally returns to his loved one, after dumping the newly turned Jessica off onto Eric, and telling him that he’ll be in his debt. Sadly, this is not a happy return, as Bill stumbles upon Sam and Sookie kissing in her living room, and promptly attacks Sam, and infuriates Sookie. Fed up with men, Sookie swears them all off, and decides she’s not ready to dive into any relationship while the killer is still on the loose. Jason may be the one sitting in jail, but as the episode draws to a close, we see the picture of Drew Marshall has finally reached the police station in Bon Temps, as the killer is finally revealed as Rene Lenier, the man who changed names, moved towns, and continued his murderous rampage against all those who would dare dance with a vampire. It’s thrilling that such an integral episode would be placed in the hands of Nancy Oliver, the woman who not only directed this crucial moment in the True Blood timeline, but also wrote this important entry, as well. Through clever writing and an intriguing, slick vision, Nancy creates sympathy for Sookie and Jason, who manage to feel like two good southern kids just caught up in a bad situation.

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5. “John Doe” (The X-Files) directed by Michelle MacLaren S9E7

Sleepy F.B.I. agent John Doggett wakes up in an abandoned warehouse in unknown Mexican territory to find a man stealing his shoe, but that’s not the only thing he’s lost. He chases the man down the street and the police get involved, but when they ask for the sleepy man’s papers, he doesn’t seem to have any. Instead, they ask him for his name, but for some reason, he can’t remember what it was. The police have no choice but to throw the man in jail while they figure out what to do with him, but as he sits there, he gets tiny bits of evidence of his past as he begins to experience small, scattered flashbacks involving a little boy. A stranger he meets in his cell offers to pay his bail if he helps with an unspecified job, and although reluctant, the man figures he has nothing left to lose, and agrees. Even though he made a deal, as soon as his bail is paid the man takes off to track down the homeless man who stole his shoe and see what he can learn about his true identity. He finds the man drugged up and dreary, but just coherent enough to discuss how the man came to forget all of his memories and wind up alone, without identification in the middle of Mexico. The man doesn’t learn much for his troubles, but it’s not a completely useless journey, as the homeless man calls him “desaparecido” and hands him a tiny silver skull. Since he’s run out of options, the man returns to the one who freed him from jail, and agrees to start working for him immediately. Meanwhile, in America, the F.B.I. tries to expand its task force in Mexico to find their lost agent, but are turned down. Apparently, agent John Doggett was investigating a case in Mexico before he abruptly disappeared without a trace. Agents Dana Scully and Monica Reyes are told that they can help find Doggett as much as they want, as long as they act solely from the northern side of the border. Ignoring their orders, Reyes treads into foreign territory to find her lost partner, relying only on her intuition, her Mexican background, and a tip from the Marine Corps about an unknown man calling about the details of his wartime tattoo. While she searches, John Doggett fixes a broken bus for the man and his friend, Nestor, who helped him get out of jail. John complies with any requests for small odd jobs to be done here and there, but he refuses to get involved with any criminal activity that might be going on. Little does he know, he’s right in the heart of it. Once the two are alone, Nestor attempts to take out John, foolishly calling him “F.B.I. right before he pulls the trigger. John manages to outwit his attacker, and learns that he is “desparecido” — one of the disappeared ones. Apparently, the Cartel erased his memory, just like all of the other stragglers, and plans to use him to run illegal immigrants and drugs across the border under he gets caught or killed. Agent Reyes finally arrives, ready to rescue John, but of course, he doesn’t remember her, so it takes some time before he trusts her. Doggett tells Reyes that he keeps having a strange memory play out of a little boy in his head, who he assumes must be his son, and asks where he is. Reyes’ eyes well with tears as she carefully informs John that his son was abducted and murdered years ago, and that’s how the two of them came to meet, since she helped him on the case. John suddenly remembers, and soon becomes too wrapped up in his own broken emotional state to fight back against the Mexican police outside of the barn, who are now shooting at them, assuming that they are merely workers for the Cartel. Reyes begs John to carry on, and he finds it in himself to push past the pain and help them escape. John tracks down the man responsible for erasing his memory, and leads the F.B.I. to his door, claiming now that he remembers everything. The Cartel leader, a strange sort of memory vampire, seems less defeated, and more confused, as he asks John in a genuine manner, why he would fight so hard to remember that pain when it has caused him so much grief. John simply responds, “Because it’s mine”. In one of the most impactful episodes of the final season (written by the brilliant Breaking Bad helmer Vince Gilligan), director Michelle MacLaren relays an important message through the medium of horror: in the end, we have no control over our life, and all we really own are our memories, and good or bad, they belong to us, and make us who we are.

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6. “You Can’t Scare Me!” (Goosebumps) directed by Rene Bonniere S2E7

Eddie and his buddy Hat have been dying for a chance to scare little Miss Goodie-two-shoes, Courtney King, for as long as they can remember. For their latest educational project, Courtney has written up a piece on the Mud Monster of Muddy Creek, a fictitious monster that supposedly haunts the local swamp not too far from school grounds. Courtney claims that through her research, and facing her fears, she has overcome her obstacles, and now she’s not afraid of anything. Threatened by her academic success and her holier-than-now attitude, the boys decide to put this claim to the test, and begin taunting Courtney in the hopes of making her scream, and for once, letting her look like the foolish one, instead of them. It starts somewhat small, with the boys putting a harmless, although frightening, little garden snake in Courtney’s lunch bag, but their attempt to find a weakness in their pristine classmate falls flat when Courtney picks up the snake and coos at it like it were one of her very own children. Next, the boys decide to bring out the big guns, and opt for a tarantula this time, which they plan to drop in Courtney’s hair, and watch her shriek with horror as they point and laugh. The plan seems solid, but when they enter the school laboratory and box the spider up in a plastic container, they hear footsteps and chatter, and realize that the teacher is coming. Quickly, the boys run and hide in the classroom locker, and watch through the shutters as Courtney begs for more schoolwork like the bookworm that she is. Suddenly, the boys realize that the lid to their container has popped open, and the hairy tarantula is slowly and silently crawling its way up Eddie’s pant leg. As soon as the teacher leaves, the boys holler and shout for help, and of course, it is Courtney who frees them from this death trap, opening the door and picking up the tarantula with ease as she gently pets it and explains that the tarantula, like the snake, is merely a misunderstood creature. Angrily, Eddie obsesses over a new plan to frighten Courtney, and Hat decides that the best option is to go bigger, with a real life Mud Monster of Muddy Creek. Well, at least, he can throw some mud on himself and jump out and scare her. Eddie and Hat dare Courtney to meet them at the swamp after school, and as she rolls her eyes, Courtney agrees, hoping that these boys might finally learn their lesson. The boys await Courtney in the muddy swamp, as Hat covers Eddie in the sticky pale brown substance, and tells Eddie to hide while he fetches Courtney. Their plan backfires, however, when a real Mud Monster shows up, and chases them through the fog. It seems that all hope is lost, but just then, Courtney shows up and saves the day, as she lectures the Mud Monster for scaring the little boys, and goes on and on and on with her speechifying until the looming sun dries the monster into a solid, immovable beast, while the boys cower behind her, unable to believe their luck. In one of the more hilarious episodes of the Goosebumps television series, the audience gets to sit back and watch as stereotypes are switched, and the two boys wind up scaring themselves far more than the pretty girl that they intended.

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7. “Collection Completed” (Tales From the Crypt) directed by Mary Lambert S1E7

Jonas has been working consistently for forty-seven years. Not a single sick day taken, not a single absent week day, not a moment to breathe or notice his loving wife and her odd habits, until now. After nearly five decades of dedicated work, unforgiving hours, and little pay, Jonas is finally – unwillingly- retiring. Perhaps it was the constant grind of employment, or the distance that’s stubbornly grown between them, mostly due to pure negligence, but it wasn’t until Jonas hung up his old routine that he finally started to realize what was going on in his very own home. Apparently, while Jonas has been on the clock, his wife bided her time by keeping company with neighborhood animals. Lots and lots of neighborhood animals. In fact, she’s grown so accustomed to sharing space with four-legged beings that when it’s her husband sitting at the kitchen table, she winds up feeding him cat food in his sandwich. Anita hides Jonas’ pill in a brownie, serves steak to the dog, and rests comfortably on the front porch with a squirrel atop her head. Things have clearly gotten out of hand during his many busy years, but now that he can devote his energy to the problem, Jonas has found a way to kill two birds with one stone, by discovering a new hobby, and tackling his wifes’ hysteria, all through the same method of execution: taxidermy. To her horror, Anita descends into the basement to find all of her children in the same stiff state. Cats, chipmunks, fish, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, and dogs, all with the same fixed expression, staring back at her with lifeless eyes, as Jonas stands there grinning, proudly presenting his complete collection. Little does Jonas know, paybacks are hell, and he’s about to join the ranks of Anita’s stuffed friends, as she exacts her revenge upon the man who stolen her only joy, and drowned it in his ever-growing misery. Interestingly enough, the director of this episode is Mary Lambert, who prior to directing a segment of Tales From the Crypt, had only released her other project featuring the reanimation of animals, Pet Sematary, a few months before.

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8. “A is For Aardvark” (Bewitched) directed by Ida Lupino S1E17

The trouble starts when Darrin sprains his ankle late one night. He’s on his way to double check that the back door is locked before he heads to bed, when he takes a tumble down the stairs that lands him in bed with his foot elevated for the next few days. While he’s resting, Samantha decides to make life a little easier on him (and honestly, herself, too), by arranging it so the house will cooperate with him during his recovery. For the very first time, Darrin gets a taste of witchcraft. It starts out small, as Darrin uses magic to make himself a sandwich in the kitchen that he then floats upstairs to reach him in bed, but soon, Darrin grows greedy, just like Samantha’s mother Endora warned Samantha he might. Once a man entirely against Samantha practicing witchcraft under his roof, Darrin now uses the wriggle of Sam’s nose to put the laundry away, make a fur coat appear on her shoulders, and even go so far as to quit his job and live off of Sam’s magical powers forever, traveling the globe with the aid of spells. It isn’t until an anniversary present that Darrin bought weeks prior for Sam arrives in the mail one afternoon that Darrin realizes his mistake. The fact that Darrin put in the hard work to buy Sam a thoughtful little watch and a bouquet of flowers meant more to her than any fur coat that he could make appear out of thin air in a quick, effortless motion. As Darrin says, “It might be a good idea to worry about where your next meal is coming from”. Using magical powers all the time might ensure an easy, worry-free life, but in the end, cutting corners doesn’t always equal happiness. Darrin realizes that the struggles, worries, and challenges at work weren’t the things keeping him from living his life, those were the things that made up his life, and without them, he wasn’t really living. This is such a sweet little episode that shows how although Samantha’s powers may seem advantageous, being a regular human has its perks, too. Also, interestingly enough, although many of the episodes lay heavy on the humor, and this one has its jokes, too, it’s a bit more grounded and sympathetic in its portrayal of Samantha, and the life she’s chosen. Darrin’s not the only one who comes to understand just how hard it must be for Sam to not use her powers all the time, but the audience learns what it must be like for her, as well.

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9. “In the Trenches” (Scream: The TV Series) directed by Leigh Janiak S1E7

After being bludgeoned with the killer right before he dragged off Will to an unknown location, Piper awakens to find herself alone in the abandoned warehouse that she came to with Will to confront Brooke’s father. A little later on, Piper arrives at the local high school, and takes the gang to see the writing on the wall, a.k.a. the bloody message left behind by the killer in the warehouse. Piper, Brooke, and Jake go outside to give Emma a moment to herself, and Emma receives an obscene phone call from the killer himself, as he offers up clues concerning Will’s whereabouts. With Noah’s help, Emma tracks Will’s cell phone to an abandoned bowling alley, and Emma has no choice but to walk straight into the trap set up and waiting for her. Meanwhile, Brooke visits her dad at his place of business, and confronts him again about her mother and the videotape of him dragging what looked like a bagged body to a cooler in the garage. She also tells him that Will has gone missing, and she knows for a fact that he was the last person that Will spoke to before he disappeared, since Piper was there hiding in the corner and watched it all go down. Suddenly, Jake steps out from behind the door, pressuring Brooke’s father further to confess, but he still denies any guilt over her mother’s departure, or Will’s disappearance. Frustrated, Brooke storms out to meet up with Emma, and Jake follows suit, bearing a sinister look of achievement all the while. Once reunited, Brooke and Jake promise Emma that they’ll help her find Will, and Noah is coerced into tagging along. The four join together to embark on this dangerous mission, and walk up to the abandoned entertainment center like little soldiers determined to retrieve their prisoner of war. After searching around and finding nothing, the gang heads back to the guts of the alley, where they find Will tied up, stabbed, and out cold. Emma manages to wake Will up, and the four are quickly confronted by the killer, who terrorizes them into submission, swinging his sword through the opening in the door, in the hopes of grazing a victim in his wild attack. The group is separated and stalked, and although police arrive in time to save them all, they don’t escape completely unscathed. Jake is stabbed with a large Bowie knife (which oddly enough, he brought along), and Will can barely stand, but they fall under they fall under the protection of the men in uniform, and find temporary peace in their rescue. As the camera slowly moves from circle to circle in the parking lot, we are given a glimpse of each character in their fragile state, and almost asked to decide, “Is this person the killer?” “Is this person capable of murder?” “Could it be her?” “Could it be him?” in one of the most Scream-esque moments of the entire series. While the majority of the show is decent in its portrayal of a slasher flick, this episode, above all others (aside from the finale just because of the big reveal) feels the most like a Wes Craven story. Everyone is equally suspicious, and it’s harder than ever to predict who the killer really is, it features some of the scariest moments in the season, and the final scene purely echoes the opening shot of the original film, while still keeping its own identity, in a splatter fest that’s just as unhinged as some of the more brutal moments in the filmography. Also, hats off to Leigh Janiak for actually giving the actors things to do with their hands while they’re stating their lines, instead of standing still like hot little statues. It’s refreshing to watch these people act like people.

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10. “The Man in Number 9” (Bates Motel) directed by S.J. Clarkson S1E7

A boy needs his mother. At least, that’s what Norma Bates wants her favorite son, Norman, to wholly and firmly believe. The minute that Norma learns that Norman has gained interest in a pretty, popular girl from his high school, named Bradley, Norma’s lack of control over the situation drives her mad, she as wildly drives all over town, gaining gossip from Norman’s less threatening female friend Emma, and spying on Bradley as she participates in her weekly yoga class. The idea that Norman could be better off without her is infuriating to Norma, and if she can’t prove it herself that Norman doesn’t need anyone but her, she’ll simply have to drive away any creature that shows Norman the least bit of love and affection, whether it be a hot young thing from school, his older rebellious brother Dylan, or a sweet little stray dog that Norman’s taken a liking to that’s been hanging around the motel. Some mothers may look at these creatures and express gratitude for getting their loner sons out of the house, but Norma only sees them as the wedge that will undeniably drive her and her baby apart, and that’s just unacceptable. Despite Norman’s initial rejection to his mother’s suffocating parenting skills, in the end, he comes to see things through her sick, lonely eyes, after the dog dies in the road and the girl he’s been pining after rejects him. It seems that everyone has betrayed Norman in some way, shape or form, but when he drags his feet back home, eyes wet with tears, you better believe his mommy is waiting at the doorstep with open arms, ready to forgive his temporary independence, and welcome Norman back into his old sheltered life.

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11. “An Open Book” (Six Feet Under) directed by Kathy Bates S1E5

Jean Louise McArthur wasn’t exactly society’s idea of a stand up model citizen. Brought under the care of Fisher family after accidentally electrocuting herself in the bathtub with the help of her devious cat, Jean was a notorious porn star. Famous for appearing in a myriad of adult films, Jean gained a reputation for the impressive amount of work she had done in her lifetime, and the lengths to which she’d go for her art. Upon learning who she was, everyone in the funeral home is quick to judge Jean for her provocative ways, but the fact is, Jean lived her life in an open and loving manner, which is more than many members of the Fisher family can say. Ruth and her daughter Claire haven’t seen eye to eye on anything since the father of the house, Nathaniel, passed away recently. As Claire staggers through her later teenage years, she pulls away from her mother more and more, as a result of the inevitable distance that grows between them as a result of Claire’s blossoming youth, and the pain that the two women still feel in the wake of Nathaniel’s death. Ruth keeps reaching out, but Claire can’t help but shy away from her advances. Meanwhile, Nate and Brenda start to encounter trouble in their relationship just as things start to really get serious. As the daughter of two probing therapists, Brenda is done being examined, and finds it difficult to expose the inner workings of her heart to Nate, because she can’t stand to be so vulnerable. They aren’t the only ones having a lovers’ quarrel, though. For every step that Nate’s brother David takes forward in his relationship with Keith, he regresses with a giant leap backward. Although David finally, excitedly comes out to Nate, he disrupts his progress by telling Keith that they can’t attend the same church together, because David isn’t ready to let the whole world know that he’s gay. Keith has been patient, but for two grown men in their forties, this romance is moving pretty slow, and Keith isn’t sure how much longer he can put up with the pace. Although they all vary in context, all three of these relationships struggle to move forward because one person is pulling away. Claire, Brenda, and David are all afflicted with fear and self-loathing, unable to open themselves up to the one thing in their lives that could possibly end all of their suffering, or at least make it easier to bear. In the end, some of these people may have frowned upon adult film star Jean Louise McArthur, but she loved herself, and lived her life the way she wanted to — happy and accessible. Jean laid it all on the table, with complete honesty. She was, as the title of the episode suggests, an open book, and there’s something to be learned from her ways, even if from a distance they may appear less than tactful. Kathy Bates displays the Fisher family as imperfect beings, but still completely deserving of love, and does it with such compassion, humility, and grace, that it becomes a real head-scratcher as to why she hasn’t done any directing gigs since 2006.

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12. “Blood Brothers” (The Vampire Diaries) directed by Liz Friedlander S1E20

The twentieth episode of the series marks a monumental moment in the show, as Elena learns how Stefan and Damon were originally turned into vampires, and why Damon still holds a grudge against Stefan after all these years. As Stefan wallows in his own misery in the present, locked up and sweating out the human blood in his system, his mind flashes back to the past, where he remembers the time that he and Stefan tried to rescue Katherine from her captors, but were shot dead as soon as they lifted her from her imprisonment. Well, at least the two brothers believed that they died that night. Stefan awakens the next morning to find that although he wears a blood-stained shirt, the skin beneath is completely healed. Confused, Stefan speaks with Emily, Katherine’s second in command, who informs him that Katherine had been feeding her vampire blood to Stefan for weeks, and merely compelled him to forget. She had also been feeding Damon her blood, but he drank it willingly, so there was no need to conjure away his memories. Emily also tells Stefan that she used her magics to conjure up two rings for the immortal boys, which would forever protect them from sunlight, and allow them to walk around during in the day and blend in with the breathers. It may seem that all of Stefan’s problems are temporarily solved, but upon speaking with Damon, he learns that his eternal life will be cut short, as Damon lets him know that there’s no reason to go on living because Katherine is dead. Damon woke up and watched her being burned alive in a church by her kidnappers the night before, a horrible fate for the one he loves that has left him unwilling to go on. Stefan agrees to end his life, too, but first, he pays a visit to their father, who only shows repulsion towards his undead son, and reveals that it was he who shot him in the dark on that horrible night, willfully killing his own two sons. Unable to cope with the fact that his boys were running around with vampires, Giuseppe Salvatore exclaims that Stefan and Damon were dead to him the minute that they began courting Katherine. A heartbroken Stefan still attempts to bid farewell to his father, but Giuseppe attacks Stefan, causing a skirmish that quickly ends with unintentional bloodshed, and a weak Stefan feeding off of his father’s wounds. Newly, fully turned, and desperate for his brother to join him, Stefan kidnaps a young girl, whom he bites in front of Damon, and pushes the two together, knowing full well that Damon won’t be able to resist his ignore his hunger pangs any longer. Back in the present, when Elena finally learns the whole truth about what happened, she’s shocked, but not enough to turn her back on Stefan, who grows more self destructive by the hour. Many lifetimes worth of guilt have caught up to Stefan, who is now ready to end it, once and for all, and rid the world of him and his heinous ways. It is only through Elena’s love and relentless urging to carry on that Stefan finds the strength within himself to keep fighting, and agrees to not give up just yet. Although Elena and Stefan have certainly grown closer in this episode, she has become more aware of the man and the monster within her beau, and also, grows more sympathetic of her constant pursuer, Damon.

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13. “Resurrection” (Penny Dreadful) directed by Dearbhla Walsh

In this episode we get a look into Frankenstein’s Creature’s backstory, and learn that Victor Frankenstein abandoned his first creation upon his birth. Sparking a story that resembles The Hunchback of Notre Dame as much as it does Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this portrayal of Victor’s creation features him cursed to endure an isolated existence in an empty apartment complex, peering out of a high window at a buzzing city below. Apparently, when the Creature was first born, he reacted so violently to the pain of new life that he frightened a naive little Victor, who ran away and never returned to see what had become of his first born. Surrounded by mountains of poetry novels, the Creature found eloquence in the empty hours alone up in that flat, immersed in the works of the only mentors he knew. After he felt he had a strong enough grasp of the English language, the Creature finally braved the streets of London, and was promptly beaten to a bloody pulp. However, this horrid act leads to a gesture of kindness, when a stranger stumbles upon him in an alleyway, treats him to dinner, and offers him a job as a stage rat in the local theatre. At first, the Creature performed his duties with glee, tinkering with ropes and pulleys backstage, all while watching the actors die onstage, and come back the next evening to die again. The creature finds comfort in their shared resurrection. However, as time passes and the Creature watches stories of romance acted out in the theatre, he begins to long for a love of his own, and approaches his old creator with the wild idea of creating an undead companion to keep him comfort. Director Dearbhla Walsh beautifully captures the romanticism of the Victorian era, and the Creature’s idealized notion of an undead companion, and the inevitable love that he honestly believes would blossom between him and his reanimated bride. Not only do we get a glimpse into the Creature’s backstory, but into Victor’s, as well, as we learn that his obsession with death grew out of the loss of his mother at an early age. Both the Creature and the creator, in their own ways, attempt to express love and improve love through the use of resurrection, and both learn that the consequences of their actions far outweigh their good intentions.


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