It's a brand new world, ladies and gentlemen, in many different ways.
Not only has the tone of the series changed dramatically with Satisfaction Season 2 Episode 1, but the entire season will be available online and on demand beginning tomorrow, so this is the only review we'll be featuring on the site.
So let's get down to business!
We've all seen the previews and knew changes were coming. Either Neil and Grace were going to spill their secrets and fight to stay together, or they were going to separate. If they chose to stay together, they were going to be choosing an awfully unconventional way to do it.
And the verdict is right here in this quote:
Neil: I was terrified that if we talked, I mean really talked, that everything we were would end.
Grace: And now look at us.
Neil: I'm still hoping we find our way back.
Grace: That is all I ever wanted. Simon was just a door for me to try and find this part of myself so I could come back into our marriage and fight for us. But now it's over. So. [They kiss passionately] Let's just not make this messier than it is. [She leaves]
Satisfaction has been pegged as sexy, racy and pushing the boundaries of traditional marriage since it hit the air. To keep Neil and Grace together in any way would probably have been considered a bore by most people. They'd have lost interest.
That's a shame.
It was the adult side of the conversation that was so very enjoyable about the series and felt different than everything else on television. It was easy to understand where the characters were coming from, even when their choices were dramatic and edgy. It was an interesting way to open dialog about lackluster relationships and keeping the spark alive. But if you kill the spark, so goes the discussion.
While watching "Satisfaction...Through Release," I found myself pushing back at both Neil and Grace. Their words were no longer believable. Not Grace's as shown above nor Neil's when he earlier exclaimed to Adriana, "I want Grace! I want my life back!" He wasn't believable because the words were hollow in their delivery. Even Matt Passmore didn't seem as though he was convinced Neil really wanted that life anymore.
Now, when Neil was out at the music festival and tossing the band manager on the bed in the bus or giving Victor a piece of his mind at the office? Those words rang true. Passmore bought into Neil's journey of self discovery, but while he was filming, he didn't seem to believe that journey included being with Grace.
And honestly? That's fine. This was always a series about adultery and business of buying sex, so tossing in a little bit of violence, like Simon roughing up Adriana (he's a peach) and the idea his family might be a bunch of wealthy, but ruthless, types puts Satisfaction on par with other evening soaps. They are going to put the lovely Stephanie Szostak into fetish wear very quickly, after all.
It was fun discovering, at long last, exactly what went down when Mallory's husband showed up, how the blood got into the pool and how the secrets were spilled. It was a decent twist that it took a gun for the truth to start pouring out, and pleasing that once Neil started, he was unable to ebb the flow of reveals. But he was unaware of the relationship between Grace and Adriana.
The most unexpected alliance of the season will likely come as a result of Grace and Adriana. Adriana's motives have always been a little more transparent than Grace's, the latter of whom is difficult to understand. Why did she skip the trip to Milan? Is she in the middle of a tit for tat with Neil? Wasn't that how this all got started in the first place?
I could be entirely wrong, but I'm expecting a far more outward (read: sex-fueled) journey than the one Neil experienced while visiting with the Zen master during Satisfaction Season 1. Neil and Grace sowing their wild oats before they ultimately decide to return to one another, as that's what they have both decided they want anyway. Is there any other reason to be apart?
Neil admitted he learned a lot about himself. Grace walked through that door already as well. Now they're both just on a...what? Sexual adventure to make sure one last time they've chosen their forever home?
I don't know. I'm feeling cynical. I'm not satisfied. In fact, I'm disappointed. Maybe after I binge watch the entire season I'll feel differently. I should know better than to base an opinion off of one hour, but the previews – this time – didn't fool me. And yes, I know I've said me and I far too much in any one review, but the hashtag is #AreYouSatisfied. It feels a little silly not to address the me and I of it, don't you think?
What's most disappointing about the premiere is there was no AHA moment. There wasn't any one moment or quote, as there was in every single episode during the first season, that indicated we were in new territory. It felt as if we had been here before, if not on Satisfaction, then on other shows, and I've come to expect more from my time spent watching this particular series.
The hour wasn't displeasing, but it wasn't special, either. Suddenly Satisfaction feels like any other nighttime soap, and that's not the gratification I'm seeking at all.
So what did you think? Am I off the mark? It's not like that hasn't happened before! Hit the comments and share your thoughts. Will you be grabbing the entire season when you watch Satisfaction online?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.