It was a week of dynamic duos for music on TV. There was a couple just getting started (Bored To Death), one reviving a relationship (Up All Night), and another for whom “ ‘til death do us part” looks likely to come sooner than expected (Sons of Anarchy). Enemies forged unlikely bonds (The Vampire Diaries, Community), and lovers played with fire (How To Make It in America). For sheer spectacle, though, the most dazzling duo of all was a pair of Michael Jackson hits that provided a bit of closure and a chance to look back fondly amid a sad week for fans of the King of Pop. Read on to see which show honored Jackson and where our other favorite “show tunes” fit in this week!
UP ALL NIGHT (NBC)
The song: Beastie Boys, “Sabotage”
The episode: ”First Night Away” (108)
The hook: New parents Reagan and Chris Brinkley took their first night out as a couple on Wednesday’s episode. Hoping to spice things up before heading to their hotel room for some long-delayed, post-baby love-makin’, they crashed a high school dance. As you do. Backed by romantic music, they had a sweet, genuine moment away from baby Amy – whom they love very much but, frankly, is a real cockblock. As they swayed, Chris asked, “Should I request our song?” Instead of a heart-melting ballad like “Kiss from a Rose” (which also appears in this week’s Jukebox), the distorted throb of “Sabotage” crashed out of the PA system. Who better to bring the foreplay than the Beasties, really?
Watch it! Set it straight, this Watergate at 14:29 on Up All Night’s Hulu.
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (The CW)
The song: Cary Brothers, “Free Like You Make Me”
The episode: “Homecoming” (309)
The hook: Brothers’ tune was appropriately gentle to underscore a rare glimpse of vulnerability in arch villainess Rebekah as the original vampiress got ready for a school dance – her first in 1,000 years on earth. Elena came to visit her, and, as they discussed the plan to kill Klaus (the brother Rebekah both loves and fears), Rebekah teared up from competing relief and sadness. Brothers’ words, “Tonight is far too perfect for your pain… I’ll break us out of this jail and get you high, ‘Cause when it all ends, I want you to be free” were a lovely lyrical complement as Elena returned the necklace, Rebekah’s mother’s, for which Rebekah has been searching all season. Despite the fact that Elena staked Rebekah to make sure she didn’t compromise the plan, those moments before showed a moment of connection that is unlikely to be repeated again.
Watch it! The CW hasn’t posted the full episode online yet, but you can listen to “Free Like You Make Me” on YouTube and see what Mandi Bierly thought of Thursday’s episode in her recap.
SONS OF ANARCHY (FX)
The song: Battleme & The Forest Rangers, “Time”
The episode: “Hands” (410)
The hook: Both perennial Sons’ favorites, Battleme and The Forest Rangers (who perform Sons’ theme song) teamed up on a track that was given pivotal placement in the series’ most brutal, shocking episode yet. Insulted and violently beaten by her husband Clay, Gemma had a choice to make. As the contemplative song played, Gemma – face discolored and swollen by Clay’s hands – proved she was not just an “old lady.” The words ”it’s better to lose than see you again” floated in the air as Gemma coldly proclaimed that Clay could not “be saved” and must die. Lesson learned: Do not mess with Gemma.
Watch it! FX hasn’t posted the latest episode of Sons online, but you can listen to a clip of “Time” on YouTube as you read why our critic Ken Tucker considered Wednesday’s installment “the best episode of a very strong season.”
HOW TO MAKE IT IN AMERICA (HBO)
The song: Jaime Woon, “Night Air”
The episode: ”I’m Sorry, Who’s Yosi?” (206)
The hook: “I’ve acquired a kind of madness,” sang Woon as Ben sailed around New York Harbor on a private yacht. This posh cruise couldn’t have been farther from the lifestyle he was trying to move up from not long ago, and he told Nancy, the wife of his prospective business partner, “I used to think [the New York skyline] represented everything I couldn’t have. Tonight I feel like I’ve got a shot.” The only catch? Ben has also been sleeping with Nancy and, thus, jeopardizing his future. Woon’s sensual song portrayed their physical attraction while its lyrics about the madness of nighttime conveyed the risk they’re taking. When The Damned’s hard-edged rocker “New Rose” began playing moments later – as Ben and Nancy had sex in the yacht’s galley – it was an excellently jarring contrast and a foreshadowing of the trouble to come.
Watch it! America is only available to HBO Go subscribers, but everyone else can check out “Night Air” on YouTube.
NEXT: Cirque du Soleil takes on the King of Pop, Joel McHale butchers Seal, and more