The song: Morgan Taylor Reid, “Simply Human”
The episode: “Better Half” (809)
The hook: Jesse Spencer told EW back in November that this would his character’s “best season yet,” and his Dr. Robert Chase gained some serious traction on the show’s strong midseason return. The details of yet another complicated “It’s this! No, it’s this!” medical diagnosis whirligig were neither here nor there for the most part, save that the case forced Chase to take a look back at his own troubled childhood. After seven and a half seasons, viewers finally learned that Chase raised his younger sister for his alcohlic mother. By the end of Wednesday’s ep, as Reid delicately plucked out his poignant melody, Chase was ready to call his sister for the first time in years and begin rebuilding their relationship. As Reid sang, they both probably needed to be reminded, “Innocent we laugh. Easily we cry. Even through the cracks, we are simply human.”
Watch it! House is available online only for Hulu Plus subscriber until Feb. 3, but you can hear “Simply Human” on Reid’s YouTube.
TEEN MOM 2 (MTV)
The song: Orders of the British Empire, “Main Theme”
The episode: “The End of the Beginning” (209)
The hook: Can we just re-title this show Jenelle Doesn’t Play Well With Others? As riveting and tragic as the other teen moms can be, it’s been the seemingly bottomless pit of Jenelle Evans’ arrests, hospitalizations, and familial fracture that drives the second spin-off of 16 & Pregnant. Having proven herself to be selfish, entitled, and incapable of caring for herself (forget her adorable son Jace), Jenelle decided to move in with her best friend Tori. I’d say, “Stop me if you know where this is going,” but did you know it would involve an all-out bust-up involving drum sticks as weapons? No you did not. The London prog rockers’ instrumental number reached its intense climax as Jenelle realized her now-former BFF wouldn’t take a brat-ttack lying down.
Watch it! Chick fight! The rumpus gets rolling at 33:34 on Teen Mom‘s MTV page.
HELL ON WHEELS (AMC)
The song: Jane and Anthony, ”This Train is Bound for Glory”
The episode: “God of Chaos” (110)
Hook: For a show whose location and story arc revolves around the construction of America’s first transcontinental railroad, what better way to end the season than with a locomotive lullaby (of sorts)? St. Louis duo Jane and Anthony’s cover of Woody Guthrie’s original was a pointed exercise in reverse psychology. While Guthrie’s lyrics insist there are no gamblers, liars, smokers, con men, or rustlers on this glory-bound train, it’s quite clear that all of the above (plus prostitutes and mercenaries) inhabit Hell‘s lawless world. At the end of the finale, townsfolk found a man murdered on the tracks and immediately pinned it on resident anti-hero Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount). As the settlers burned Cullen’s belongs and posted a $250 reward for his capture, the revenge-fueled outlaw rode off into horizon. Cut to black.
Watch it! AMC doesn’t upload full episodes of its shows online, but you can listen to “This Train” on Jane and Anthony’s official site.
HOUSE OF LIES (Showtime)
The song: Jensen Reed, “Do Your Thing”
The episode: “Gods of Dangerous Financial Instruments” (102)
The hook: The new Showtime series follows the phonetically named Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) and his “Pod” — a team of half-a-step-above-grifters “management consultants” — as they travel around cleaning up the messes of the rich. Episode 2 saw the Pod head to Phoenix to iron out paternity and financial problems centered around the embattled divorce of two high-powered baseball franchise owners. Reed’s track thumped (“It’s all a game, we want fame, we want money and cars, I’m talking big, big marks enough to buy the bar”) as the team strode into the stadium, totally in control and ready to run the show. Reed’s grimy gangsta rap was an imposing addition that perfectly summed up the Pod’s M.O. On behalf of Reed, may I just say? Take that, Asher Roth. Hardcore bumpers have a new token white boy.
Watch it! House of Lies is available only for Showtime subscribers, but you can hear “Do Your Thing” on Reed’s official site while you check out Ken Tucker’s review of the Lies‘ premiere.
The song: Van Halen, “Stay Frosty”
The episode: “Willows in the Wind” (1212)
The hook: Did you expect Catherine Willows’ final case to take her somewhere elegant? Of course not! In her last days with the unit, Catherine (exiting charter cast member Marg Helgenberger) had to hunker down with colleague D.B. Russell (Ted Danson) in a skeevy strip joint. Van Halen’s Bayou-bluesy strummer slithered in the background as the team suited up in an outside alley. Then it cranked up for full effect as the investigators entered the club and behld the “ladies” riding the pole to the rhythm of Alex Van Halen’s pulsing drums. “We needed an anthem for this scene. It needed to be authentic and true,” said CSI music supervisor Jason Alexander. Who better than the ’80s icons, who have “owned the sound of strip clubs for the last 20 years”? The song was also a major coup for Alexander because it was the exclusive premiere of “Frosty,” the first new track from the band’s original line-up since 1985.
Watch it! Willows is into makin’ busts, she ain’t into makin’ love at 16:14 on CBS’s official CSI page. Read what Ken Tucker thought of Helgenberger’s final episode, and read Lynette Rice’s interview with the actress about her ‘really intense’ shoot for “Willows in the Wind.”
ONE TREE HILL (The CW)
The song: Tarik NuClothes, “Bubble Shaker”
The episode: “Love the Way You Lie” (903)
The hook: While Other Lives’ “Tamer Animals” provided a classic emo wrap-up to this week’s episode, “Bubble Shaker” was a moment of (im)pure pleasure as Chris (Tyler Hilton) took Chase (Stephen Colletti) to a strip club to overcome his broken heart in the wake of ex-girlfriend Alex’s departure last week. Chase clearly wasn’t into the au naturel acrobatics of the small town nudie bar, but that didn’t make a song that naughtily emphasized the first syllable of the word astronomical any less fun.
Watch it! The CW doesn’t post full episodes online until four days after the first airing, but you can shake that bubble on Tarik NuClothes’ YouTube.
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