Once more real life takes a toll on the plot. As we've all heard by now, the actor playing Paul Manafort had a little issue with driving into a lamp post while drunk off his ass, and the producers dumped his ass like an empty candy wrapper. This has happened numerous times throughout the show's history, most notoriously back in Season 1963 when the actor playing JFK got caught with a couple underage girls. But the people writing Earth in season 2016 don't have a twentieth of the talent of the writers from 1963, which is arguably the last great season the show ever produced. Oh, the current writers clearly adore S1963. We can see it all over recent episodes with the resurgent Russia and the return of high-stakes spy shenanigans. But suddenly outing Manafort as a Russian agent and having like five news organizations make major revelations about him in a single episode ... I mean, come on. (Yes, I know there was some foreshadowing of Manafort's foreign ties before this, but the way it was revealed was as subtle of a sledgehammer).
Of course the sudden change of course left the producers scrambling to find a new campaign manager for the Trump campaign. Personally, I wish they'd bring Lewandowski back. His odd-couple relationship with Trump and the wacky shit Trump said at his assistance was the highlight of the last season. But instead they bring in the Breitbart guy, and Roger Ailes, and Sean Hannity, which, again, heavyhanded. By the time we get to the election, Trump and his staff are going to be goosestepping around in Nazi uniforms. Lewandowski at least kept everything farcical. The current direction of the show seems to indicate that we're supposed to take Trump seriously as a villain, which ... no. I'm sorry, the guy playing Trump isn't nearly a good enough actor to convince me that he has fanatical followers. (The actors playing his followers aren't much better. I mean that scene with the lawyer on CNN demanding "What polls?" was painful. I can believe these twits would follow an idiot like Trump, but I can't believe that Trump is in the position he's in when these are the best followers he's got.)
And to top it off, the end of the episode doesn't even make sense. If you're going to bring in these crazy whackjob characters to run Trump's campaign, you can't go and have him suddenly start acting reasonable and apologizing for hurting people's feelings and walking back his position on immigration. It's one or the other -- he's going to go more extreme, or he's going to start playing at being a real candidate (and it's about twenty episodes too late for that). Having him do both at the same time is nonsensical writing.
And in the middle of all this, we have the conclusion of the Olympics arc. I'm glad they pushed it down to a B-pot this week and didn't focus on any stupid sports, but the subplot where the athletes break a door and lie about it and get arrested ... were the writers trying to be funny? That's the only thing I can think of. If they wanted to be dramatic, surely they could come up with a better crime (though I suppose having one of the athletes get into a drunk driving accident was off limits due to the Manafort business). Having Brazil arrest the guys over something so minor is a real eyerolling moment.
NEXT WEEK: A Clinton scandal. Exactly what nobody in the viewing audience wants.
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