Worth Watching: ‘Game of Thrones’ Battle, a ‘Miserables’ Death Scene, a Brutal ‘Barry,’ CBS’s ‘Red Line’
A selective critical checklist of notable weekend TV:
Game of Thrones (Sunday, 9/8c, HBO): “Stand your ground!” So says the newly knighted Sir/Lady Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) in the teaser for the highly anticipated Battle of Winterfell episode, the first mega-sized (nearly 90 minutes) installment at the midpoint of the epic fantasy’s final season. Let’s hope she does — and is among the survivors of what’s bound to be a fateful clash of the living heroes and the Night King’s fearsome army of the dead. Thrones made its reputation on a willingness to send beloved characters to their maker without fear or favor, so we’re expecting the worst — but also the best that this magnificent series has to offer.
Les Misérables (Sunday, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings at pbs.org): If dragons and demons aren’t your thing, another sweeping saga continues with the classic Masterpiece adaptation of Victor Hugo’s mammoth fable. In this pivotal chapter, the ill-fated Fantine (a remarkable Lily Collins) memorably and harrowingly succumbs to her wretched fate, leaving a guilt-stricken Jean Valjean (Dominic West) to seek out her waifish Cinderella of a daughter, Cosette. But first he must rescue her from those insidious extortionists, the Thénardiers (colorfully portrayed by Oscar winner Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar).
Barry (Sunday, 10/9c, HBO): Emmy winner Bill Hader directed and co-wrote this relentlessly grueling and surprising episode, which is likely to be polarizing among the dark comedy’s fan base. But there’s no denying it goes there, and just keeps going there. The situation: Barry (Hader) is once again trapped into carrying out a hit to save his skin, but he’s so reluctant to do actual harm he ends up making matters worse as the assignment escalates into a series of increasingly brutal encounters and reversals. Barry never saw it coming, and neither will you.
Killing Eve (Sunday, 8/7c, BBC America and AMC): In the weekend’s other most exhilarating blend of violence and dark comedy, welcome the great Zoë Wanamaker as yet another quirky spymaster, Caroline’s (Fiona Shaw) boss, who’s understandably irate about the state of affairs now that Konstantin (Kim Bodnia) has decamped to reteam with Villanelle (Jodie Comer), this week in Amsterdam. Our favorite glamorous assassin is still jealous that Eve (Sandra Oh) is currently obsessed with a rival killer known only as “the Ghost,” and doesn’t even seem to get much of a kick out of her latest kinky assignment. As for Eve, she begins to believe her new target may be an even more unusual adversary: a “considerate assassin.”
The Red Line (Sunday, 8/7c, CBS): Airing over four Sundays in two-hour blocks, this timely ripped-from-the-headlines limited series (what used to be called a miniseries) is from Selma’s Ava DuVernay and the prolific Greg Berlanti. Noah Wyle stars as a grieving Chicago teacher who’s widowed when his African-American doctor husband is mistakenly shot and killed by a white Chicago cop (Noel Fisher). As the widower and his adopted daughter (Aliyah Royale) seek justice, subplots involving city politics and conspiratorial cover-ups add layers of intrigue.
The Son (Saturday, 9/8c, AMC): The sprawling Western saga, based on Philipp Meyer’s best-seller, returns after a two-year hiatus for its second and final season, starring Pierce Brosnan as ruthless oil baron Eli McCullough, flexing his power in 1915. (Jacob Lofland plays young Eli in flashbacks to his 1850s upbringing by Comanches.) In a new timeline set in the 1980s, Eli’s now-elderly granddaughter, Jeanne Anne (Lois Smith), oversees the empire and uncovers a long-buried family secret.
Inside Weekend TV: The rock legends celebrated in HBO’s presentation of the 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (Saturday, 8/7c) include Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Roxy Music, Radiohead, The Zombies and The Cure. Presenters include Trent Reznor, Queen’s Brian May, Janelle Monae, Harry Styles, David Byrne, Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Simon Le Bon and The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs… Nikki DeLoach and Jeff Hephner star in the Hallmark Hall of Fame romance Love Takes Flight (Saturday, 9/8c, Hallmark Channel), about a single-mom doctor and an EMS pilot who work together (and then some) to save a transplant patient… Samantha Bee hosts her second Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner special (Saturday, 10/9c, TBS) from Washington, D.C.’s DAR Constitution Hall, with proceeds going to the Committee to Protect Journalists… Justified scene stealer Walton Goggins joins the second season of the Epix spy drama Deep State (Sunday, 9/8c) as fixer for the MI6/CIA team as the action shifts from the Middle East to sub-Saharan Africa… Victims of crime, or surviving family members, come face to face with their offender in hopes of healing in CNN’s powerful new docu-series The Redemption Project with Van Jones (Sunday, 9/8c). In the opener, a 25-year-old mother of three confronts the man who murdered her own mother when she was a toddler. Followed by a new season of CNN’s United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell (10/9c), in which the sociopolitical-comedian host heads to Dallas to learn how megachurches operate.