TV reviews from 2021

What is grief if not love persevering?

2021 was basically more of 2020 and an overload of Marvel. That’s reflected in Akhil Arora’s TV series reviews from 2021.

Freya Allan as Cirilla ‘Ciri’ Fiona Elen Riannon in The Witcher: Season 2

The Witcher: Season 2

“The beauty of Game of Thrones wasn’t just the size of the ensemble, but how it made full use of it. How you came to feel for or feel the wrath of its characters who were spread across the moral spectrum. The Witcher is lacking that. The second season shows its filmmakers … are more confident at executing their vision. But The Witcher still has a ways to go.”

Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop, and Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton in Hawkeye


“Deep into Hawkeye episode 2, Kate [Bishop] notes that [Clint Barton] lacks branding. Clint protests that he is not trying to sell anything. ‘That’s your problem,’ Kate says, ‘you’re too low-key. People want sincerity.’ […] And like the title character, Hawkeye has the same issue: it lacks branding.”

John Cho as Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop

“[At] its best when it’s channelling the same energy the original anime it’s based on was inspired by: pulp fiction. It’s hard to get it right because if you go overboard, it’s on the nose and you stop caring. But Cowboy Bebop really nails its pulpiness.”

Leah Harvey as Salvor Hardin in Foundation


Foundation … fixes [the book’s drawbacks. …] Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as often as it ought to. The action is in spurts. Even elaborate scenes are directed in a manner that flattens the excitement. There’s little joy in the romantic pairings and escapades. The dramatic happenings come out of nowhere, and do not flow organically from a previous entanglement.”

Kenichi Ogata/James Hong as The Elder in Star Wars: Visions “The Elder”

Star Wars: Visions

“[What] better way for Star Wars to expand its horizons than to return to its roots—and trust the next generation of filmmakers from whence it came? It’s the circle of life.”

Tom Hiddleston in and as Loki


“Death has always been sort of a joke in the MCU. Characters miraculously escape from it. They cheat it. They fake it. Or they return from it thanks to an omnipotent gauntlet. With Loki, given his arc had finished emotionally and narratively, Marvel simply plucked an earlier version of him. […] I’m not complaining. [Tom] Hiddleston is a constant delight.”

Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

“[Where] it mattered most, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was found wanting. I enjoyed the episodes as I watched them because there was a lot happening, but it doesn’t feel like it amounted to a lot now that it’s over. Overall, it just felt like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier had little purpose, other than to pass the Captain America baton.”

Radhika Apte as Laxmi Suri, and Ullas Mohan as Ajeeb in OK Computer

OK Computer

“Today’s broken ‘digital India’, extrapolated to 2031 with sentient AI robots, is ripe fodder for a sci-fi series. But OK Computer has none of [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy]’s satirist powers or the intellect to imagine [a dystopian India]. Its creators have digested some of the world’s leading sci-fi works, but what they’ve produced is essentially the series equivalent of Deep Thought’s answer. It’s Pav Bhaji.”

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch in WandaVision


“Grief is usually the first act of a story, more so for the likes of Marvel that are in the business of making action epics for the big screen. […] Grief is the catalyst, not a destination. But not so for WandaVision. [The] longform nature allowed [it] to explore a character’s inner life like never before. No other MCU property has had this amount of time to navigate how a Marvel superhero is feeling.”

Sarah Jones as Tracy Stevens in For All Mankind: Season 2

For All Mankind: Season 2

For All Mankind seems interested in exploring the ugly and bloody legacy of post-World War II USA, one that has been involved in countless wars across decades. What it feels like it’s trying to get at is that [Americans are] doomed to repeat cycles of violence, no matter what timeline they are in. But the messaging on season 2 is a bit muddled, almost as if it’s afraid of alienating its primary audience: Americans.”