Even though love songs account for about 90 percent of the market (a statistic I just made up as I listened to Adele and Snow Patrol on repeat), it’s been a while since we had a good line-up of serious heart flutterers here on TV Jukebox. From a rain-soaked reunion (Pretty Little Liars) to a synchronized swimming-themed proposal (Glee), it was a good week for all things gushy and gooey. Some were searching for love (Private Practice, Happy Endings), while others were letting it go (Gossip Girl, The Secret Circle).
Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t room for a some rumbling (Teen Mom 2), reconciliation (House), revenge (Hell on Wheels), strip club shenanigans (One Tree Hill, CSI), and straight-up struttin’ (House of Lies). All of which is without mentioning the most disturbing use of ’80s soft rock to come down the pipeline is quite some time. Thanks for that, Criminal Minds! See our latest picks below. (Warning for those still catching up on DVR: SPOILERS ahead!)
PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (ABC Family)
The song: The Rescues, “My Heart With You”
The episode: “The Blond Leading the Blind” (217)
The hook: It looked like it was the end of the road for Ezra Fitz and his taboo teacher’s pet Aria Montgomery on Monday’s episode of Liars. Daniel Ahearn’s “I Will Let You Go” set up Ezra’s moral dilemma as he debated stand up a clandestine rendezvous while the little moppet was waiting alone in a torrential downpour. The Rescues’ haunting, Imogen Heap-esque a capella underscored the couple’s make-or-break moment and gave voice to what was in Ezra’s heart: “I keep you secretly. I studied every line. You’re etched upon my mind for not a million soldiers could take you from me.” In the end, his emotions overruled his head, and he showed up, sweeping Aria in his arms to make a grandly affirmation of his feelings — parents and puddles be damned!
Watch it! The rain dance begins at 35:12 on Pretty Little Liars‘ Hulu.
The song: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” originally by Roberta Flack
The episode: “Yes/No” (310)
The hook: Jan. 17’s Glee was a massive celebration of love as the New Directions were the assigned to put together a number for Will Schuester to use while proposing to Emma. Though the synchronized swimming take on Rihanna’s “We Found Love” was spectacular, it was the ladies’ touching performance of Flack’s 1972 hit that was most affecting. Rachel, Mercedes, Santana, and Tina emoted through voices and their visions — most surprisingly Mercedes’ realization that her feelings for Sam ran deeper than she thought. The four-part harmony was powerful, and the dissolves to the girls’ memories of seeing their paramours for the first time was tear-jerking — in a good way.
Watch it! The four play begins at 17:04 on Glee‘s Hulu. For details on the other performances of the night (including “Summer Lovin'” and a truly bizarre trio performance of “Wedding Bell Blues”), check out Joseph Brannigan Lynch’s recap.
PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC)
The song: Nikki & Rich, “Cat & Mouse”
The episode: “Losing Battles” (512)
The hook: Heartbroken Sam (Taye Diggs) and less-than-heartthrob-y Sheldon (Brian Benben) realized on Jan. 19 that, if they had any game at all, it would be the losing kind. Still hopeful, they decided to hit the gym in that most clichéd means of picking up chicks. Nikki & Rich’s delightfully retro tune provided a hilarious backdrop as they sweated it out, both physically and mentally. Noted Sheldon, “I feel like we’re two sides of a poetic debate. Which is better: To have loved and lost or to have never loved at all?” That I can’t answer, but you know what would be best? Not philosophizing about poetry and heartbreak while trying to pick up girls at the gym. Shockingly, the fellows had no luck with the ladies (perhaps 40-something Sam’s decision to describe himself, albeit truthfully, as a “grandpa” on his online dating profile didn’t help either). Doctors of love they are not.
Watch it! The guys cruise it or lose it at 15:13 on Private Practice‘s Hulu.
HAPPY ENDINGS (ABC)
The song: TLC, “No Scrubs”
The episode: “Makin’ Changes!” (212)
The hook: TLC’s 1999 chart buster provided a hilarious call-and-answer as Penny (Casey Wilson) tried to make the “Year of Penny” happen. She first quoted the lyrics after begging off a friend’s advice to dump her incompatible boyfriend in favor of fixer-upper Jeff (Party Down‘s Ryan Hansen). Just as Penny was reveling in her successful Jeff-over, the song kicked up again as he walked into the bar lookin’ all hot, dawg. Then he announced, “I’m engaged!” The spoils of Penny’s seeming victory went to Jeff’s ex. Foiled again!
NEXT: Characters from Gossip Girl and The Secret Circle move on and a love song goes terribly wrong on Criminal Minds
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!
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.
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.