‘Better Things’ Finale, Nacho’s Reckoning on ‘Saul,’ HBO Premieres (David Simon’s ‘City,’ ‘Gentleman Jack’ Returns)

    Pamela Adlon’s deeply personal comedy Better Things ends on a euphoric note. Fugitive drug-world soldier Nacho fights for survival in a gripping episode of Better Call Saul. HBO welcomes back The Wire creator David Simon with a gritty new crime drama set in Baltimore, paired with a second season of the feisty period drama Gentleman Jack.

    Better Things Season 5 Pamela Adlon and Olivia Edward

    Suzanne Tenner/FX

    Better Things

    Raw and real, loaded with laughs and sprinkled with earned tears, Pamela Adlon’s deeply felt and intimately observed comedy about mothers and daughters ends its five-season run with Sam (Adlon) gathering family and friends for a special occasion. “We all know that life takes us down some strange but familiar roads,” she announces in an understatement. We’ve often felt like part of this fractious but fabulous extended family, and the vignettes in the final episode make us reluctant ever to leave. (Just try not singing along to the song that allows the cast to take a final loving bow.)

    Better Things - FX
    Better Call Saul Season 6 Michael Mando

    Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

    Better Call Saul

    This is one of those episodes that fans will be talking about long after the series ends later this summer. The focus of the excruciatingly suspenseful hour is on Nacho Varga (the excellent Michael Mando), the drug lieutenant trapped between the Salamanca cartel and Gus Fring’s (Giancarlo Esposito) equally unforgiving organization. On the run after Fring’s botched assassination attempt on Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton), Nacho is caught between, as the episode title promises, a “Rock and Hard Place.” In a similar though (for now) less deadly bind, Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is presented his own opportunity to escape from the cartel’s clutches.

    Better Call Saul - AMC
    We Own This City Jon Bernthal

    Paul Schiraldi/HBO

    We Own This City

    Returning to the Baltimore turf they explored so memorably in the classic The Wire, David Simon and George Pelecanos take viewers on another gritty odyssey into urban corruption in a six-part limited series depicting the rise and fall of the city’s Gun Trace Task Force. Led by superstar sergeant Wayne Jenkins (The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal), the task force’s achievements in gun retrieval and arrests were undercut by officers who shook down civilians, robbed from dealers and even sold some of the confiscated weapons. The Good Wife’s Josh Charles co-stars as one of the more brutal offenders, while the side of justice and honor is represented by Bosch’s Jamie Hector as a homicide cop and Lovecraft Country’s Wunmi Mosaku as civil rights investigator Nicole Steele.

    We Own This City - HBO
    Gentleman Jack Suranne Jones Season 2

    Aimee Spinks/HBO

    Gentleman Jack

    Returning after a nearly three-year absence, this provocative period drama reintroduces the boldly uncompromising figure of real-life early 19th-century businesswoman Anne Lister (an electrifying Suranne Jones), whose coded diaries provide the source material for the series. In Season 2, Ann sets up home at Shibden Hall with wealthy heiress Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) as wife and wife, but their happiness is threatened when Walker’s family accuses Lister of being a fortune hunter.

    Gentleman Jack - HBO

    Inside Monday TV:

    • American Idol (8/7c, 6/MT, 5/PT, ABC): In a first, judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie pick songs for the Top 11 to perform live for America’s votes.
    • American Song Contest (8/7c, NBC): The live semi-finals begin, with 10 artists reprising their original composition with elevated performances (if that’s even possible, or advisable). An 11th performer is welcomed back with a redemption song.
    • The Price Is Right at Night (8/7c, CBS): Rachel Brosnahan, otherwise known as TV’s Emmy-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, tries her hand at playing pricing games alongside other contestants, with her proceeds going to raise money for Covenant House.
    • 9-1-1: Lone Star (9/8c, Fox): Fire captain Owen (Rob Lowe) has a breakthrough in anger-management therapy, while back on the job, dispatcher Grace (Sierra McClain) invites a traumatized co-worker (Dominic Burgess) to dinner, which becomes an unexpectedly extended stay. You know what they say about houseguests and fish …
    • Celebrity IOU (9/8c, HGTV): America’s Got Talent judge/comedian Howie Mandel works alongside Jonathan and Drew Scott to upgrade his best friend and longtime road manager’s condo.
    • Harry Wild (streaming on Acorn TV): The light mystery starring Jane Seymour as a professor-turned-sleuth finishes its first season with back-to-back episodes. Also new to Acorn: All of Season 4 of the French crime drama Balthazar, where the Parisian forensic pathologist (Tomer Sisley) is reeling from the loss of his police partner and his wife, who’s in prison awaiting trial.

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