GOSSIP GIRL (The CW)
The song: Dum Dum Girls, “Coming Down”
The episode: “The End of the Affair?” (511)
The hook: The Golden State indie outfit’s striking, sinking track set the tone for during a dramatic Jan. 15 episode in which the star-crossed love affair faced down fate (and lost) another time. At the top of the ep, “Coming Down” jangled as Blair (Leighton Meester) had a flashback of herself, strapped to a stretcher and watching life seemingly slip away from Chuck (Ed Westwick). Driven mad by grief from her miscarriage, Blair promised God she would return to Prince Louis if only Chuck would live. Good news: Chuck lived! Bad news: She had to break his heart… again! James Vincent McMorrow’s soaring, somber cover of Chris Isaak’s 1989 steamy soul-sucker “Wicked Game” bookended the tragic hour and returned things to the sorrowful status quo. (Just in case this ep really bummed you out, the sight of Blair getting shot-wasted to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” on Monday, then abandoning her usual death grip on social control and decorum probably cheered you up.)
Watch it! Before the shots, a whole lot of sadness starts at 2:14 on Gossip Girl‘s Hulu.
THE SECRET CIRCLE (The CW)
The song: The Grates, “Moving On”
The episode: “Witness” (112)
The hook: After last week’s kiss between Adam (Thomas Dekker) and Cassie (Britt Robertson), it was clear his love triangle with the teen witch and ex Diana (Shelley Hennig) wasn’t going to fix itself. There were two well-played scenes of reckoning between Adam and his ladies. In the first instance, Cincinnati garage outfit Heartless Bastards’ “Only for You” hummed underneath as Adam and Cassie discussed the return of reformed witch hunter Jake (Chris Zylka) — did I mention Cassie has feelings for him, too? make it a love quadrangle, then. Midway through their conversation, Diana appeared as if from nowhere (witches are wont to do such things) and reminded him that she’s still in this game. After Cassie nearly died in a spell gone awry, Adam and Diana reconvened to the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Brisbane trio’s thematically apropos chill-rocker. And, yeah, they didn’t ultimately resolve any of the residual feelings between them, but boy did they sound (and, of course look) good as they circled around each other for yet another week.
Watch it! Adam and Diana contemplate their Facebook status at 38:17 on The Secret Circle‘s official site.
CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS)
The song: Chicago, “You’re the Inspiration”
The episode: “Unknown Subject” (712)
The hook: Woe be to Peter Cetera if his signature lite rock croon can evoke this much horror! His band’s 1984 hit was just the first instance of perversely used ’80s music in an episode following a serial rapist (eerily dubbed “The Piano Man”) as he repeatedly roofied his victims and terrorized them with smooth grooves. Besides the tone-setting use of Chicago, there was a cringe-worthy multi-scene sequence when a former victim held the man she believe to be her attacker hostage as he plonked out Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” (both written by Jim Steinman). There were also non-musical name checks for “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Lady in Red,” “Up Where We Belong,” and “Glory of Love” as some of The Piano Man’s favorite tunes of torture. As technical analyst Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) succinctly summed up, “This piece of work has elevated sick and twisted to a whole new dimension.”
Watch it! The contemporary adult terror begins at at the top of the episode on CBS’s official site for Criminal Minds.
NEXT: Reconciliation on House, ripped-out hair on Teen Mom, Hell on Wheels — train wheels, white-boy rap on House of Lies, and not one but two strip club scenes!