Episodes – Season 3
This review considers that you have seen Season 2, as it sets things up for Season 3.
By the end of Season 2, the biggest storylines received a big payoff, most notably Sean (Mangan) and Beverly (Greig) reuniting and Merc’s (Pankow) downfall. I would have been totally fine with Episodes ending at this point — the voice-over from Andy Button (Joseph May) during the end credits regarding Merc screamed “series finale” — despite my enjoyment of watching Carol (K. R. Perkins) and Bev or Sean and Matt LeBlanc interact with each other.
Anyways, Season 3 picks up right where Season 2 ended with Merc out of the network and replaced by Castor Sotto (Chris Diamantopoulos) instead of Carol, who rejected replacing Merc out of loyalty (and their love affair) and then dumped him for good when Merc told her he can’t divorce his wife (Genevieve O’Reilly) — now in a relationship with LeBlanc — and lose half his money, bitter over losing her shot at a promotion.
Meanwhile, the fate of Pucks! is heading towards cancelation and Sean and Beverly’s relationship is restored. However, when Sean learns that Bev slept with Morning’s (Mircea Monroe) brother Rob (James Purefoy), this freaks out Sean and puts their relationship back into restoring mode again.
As far as LeBlanc is concerned, he’s still an asshole and a fuck-up. He hates his current situation as well as his screentime in Pucks! being reduced in favor of exposing Stoke (Sam Palladio) as the show’s attraction. However, an encounter with Sean and Bev’s former personal assistant Andrew Lesley (Oliver Kieran Jones) provides him a hope to repair the damage done to his career through an NBC drama series penned by Lesley himself.
Season 3 suffers from an very uneven first half as we watch Sean and Beverly trying to restore their relationship once again thanks to Sean’s personal insecurities. Granted that their situation wasn’t as bad as it was during the last season, but it wasn’t that fun to watch at all and the same goes for LeBlanc being tied to Merc’s wife. Despite treading old territory in Episodes early on with the characters and Pucks! in production, the worst part of Season 3 is Castor Sotto. He has several psychiatric conditions and requires lots of medication, but the writing for Castor was all over the place and he came across as pretty unfunny to watch (except for the season finale when Castor delivers a great monologue regarding networks playing it safe) and drags the series down (and Carol, who became a sex object later on yet regains some humanity near the end of the season) when he’s present.
On the other hand, the final 4 chapters are Episodes‘ strongest efforts as we see the main trio heading into different directions with LeBlanc wanting badly to be on Lesley’s NBC show, but it’s not without some complications and twists regarding his celebrity, career and life status. The biggest storyline, however, takes form in a former script of the Brits leaking and provoking a bidding war between 3 networks (including Carol’s) despite their refusal to develop the series after the promises initially made to them nearly destroyed their marriage. Standout moments from these installments includes a hilarious (and ironic) rant from LeBlanc regarding British actors invading USA, a Season 1 callback towards Carol and Beverly’s camaderie — “Is there any more of that chicken-raisin-cookie shit?” — and the whole bidding war climaxing into a pretty twisted and strong season finale with a big swerve that not only sets in motion Season 4, but it also works as a reset for the series, sort of.
While not as consistent and strong as its first two seasons, Episodes is still interesting to watch thanks to the interactions between LeBlanc, Mangan, Greig and Perkins (the latter has been a rising star since the past season). The question for me is how long will both Showtime and BBC allow Episodes to exist before it starts to fall? It’s not difficult to produce from an economical standpoint [see: show mostly filmed in London and the lack of big-name guest stars despite having Diamantopoulos, Jay Leno and CBS President Les Moonves on screen this time] and every season so far has gathered awards nominations for Matt LeBlanc as well as the creative duo (and couple) of David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik. However, LeBlanc’s co-stars are also worthy of award nominations.