TV Club: The Brink: “Baghdad, My Ass”

One of the major downsides of modern serialized television is the constant presence of “table-setting episodes,” episodes that do little but advance the plot. These episodes are unfortunately necessary for the macro story to progress, but they are almost always boring even under the best circumstances. There are some writers who can write compelling table-setting episodes by privileging micro stories or character arcs over obvious plot mechanics (Vince Gilligan and co. routinely did this quite well with Breaking Bad), but more often than not, these episodes just hang there, existing not on their own but in relation to an unfinished story.

“Baghdad, My Ass” is a table-setting episode through and through, but it’s even more frustrating than usual because The Brink is a series where the stakes are so high they’re almost non-existent. The entire episode is spent moving the proverbial pieces around the board in order to …

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