Hero in a Halfling: Not so “Epic”

I vaguely remember back when Shrek first came out, with the trailers declaring something like, “The prince isn’t charming, the princess isn’t helpless, and the ogre is the hero.” It was a funny, clever subversion of the classic fairy tale tropes, and it told a good story. The same can be said of the movie’s first sequel, and a number of other stories. It cannot be said for Hero in a Halfling.

Written by William Tyler Davis, Hero in a Halfling: A Comedic Fantasy Romp (yes, that is the actual title, and the next two books in the series are Knowing is Halfling the Battle: An Arthurian Fantasy Romp and Sight Beyond Epik Sight: A Steampunk Fantasy Romp) seems like it was intended (and believed, by the author) to be a witty, comedic parody, sort of like the love child of Lord of the Rings and Discworld. But where DreamWorks made an ogre a hero, Davis just made the ranger mean, the elves unrefined, and the wizard sinister instead of saintly (because we all know Tolkien and Pratchett never did anything like “evil wizards” at all).

I’m reminded of when I read The Rest of Us Just Live Here. If I recall right, that was intended as something witty and clever too, but it just came across to me as little more than very, very snide. In a similar fashion, Hero in a Halfling felt more mean than funny. The “parody” aspect, supposedly “turning tropes on their head,” mostly lay in taking the usual virtuous characters of fantasy stories and making them non-virtuous. No noble elves to the rescue, no ranger friendly to the little guy, and the wizard is duplicitous and abusive out the wazoo, wearing at least three different faces under three different identities in his quest for power.

It’s like Davis wrote the story just to say, “Sorry, kids, it doesn’t work that way.”

There is an air-headed princess, but she’s a lesbian, which, that came out of nowhere, with both her and her girlfriend. Said girlfriend is the daughter of Snow White and a dwarf, as Prince Charming was gay. Both were supposedly showing interest in the main character, the halfling named Epik, and then suddenly, right at the end, the girls are kissing each other instead. Speaking of halflings, Epik has long been bullied by his fellow halflings, so clearly they’re not all virtuous either (and somehow he gets the nerve to stand up to the bullies bigger than himself, but not those of the same size?). Oh, and Epik’s role is actually pretty limited, for the most part.

Honestly, I empathized with Todder, a veteran city guardsman of surprising depth and intelligence, more than anyone else… and they kept having the duplicitous wizard scramble his brains to keep his secrets.

And as for the “humor,” that just kind of fell flat for me. Obvious wordplay, obvious quotes from famous franchises, naming every chapter for something from famous franchises… yeah, it just didn’t do it for me, ya know? It came out as pretty boring.

Not to say there wasn’t anything good in it. I rather liked the half-dwarf girl, Gerdy, though not so much the princess, Myra. Epik was an understandable character, and I liked the dwarf warriors, even if I couldn’t recall who was who most of the time. The plot turned out to be much more intricate than it seemed at first glance, especially the machinations of the villains. The trolls were properly horrifying, too, the ravenous monsters in the dark coming to take people from their beds and eat them.

Really, if Davis had stopped trying to be “funny” and just focused entirely on the story and the characters, this could have been a pretty enjoyable fantasy romp all on its own. Instead, it’s more mean than witty and more clumsy than clever. It wasn’t a very enjoyable read, and I only finished it out of sheer, stubborn will. My interest in the rest of the series is exceptionally low.

Rating: I’ll give Hero in a Halfling 4 stars out of 10.

Grade: D-Minus.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #183: Strong Women

“That was what men wanted, wasn’t it? Soft, helpless women that they needed to protect?”
– From A Feast for Crows, by George R.R. Martin

Before I say anything else, let me just say, with absolute clarity: no, that is not what we want.

Now, moving on.

Perhaps it’s because I was thinking about my mother last week, or because I’m seeing so much more of my sister lately, or because my nephew and I are working our way through the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, or just because I’m also working my way through Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, but whatever the reason, my mind has recently been lingering on this idea of strong women.

Firstly, I do not believe women are, or should be, weak, soft, and helpless. I come from Viking stock, raised on stories of women defending their homes while the men were away. I have a mother and two sisters, who I admire greatly (arguments notwithstanding), who are strong women, each in their own way. From them, and many others I have seen, I have come to the conclusion that if women were weak, civilization would have collapsed long ago.

Second, from what I have seen, the only men who truly want their women to be weak are those who want to dominate them. These are the sort of so-called “men” who abuse, threaten, and otherwise bully others to make themselves feel big and strong. It’s pathetic, and the depths of my loathing for such cannot be described.

I, for one, appreciate strong women because I appreciate strong people. I love seeing people succeed and thrive and be happy and free. I enjoy when people overcome their obstacles and difficulties. I am inspired, not threatened, by such people, men and women alike.

Thirdly, in the story this quote comes from, it’s the inner thinking of a woman who became a knight. Unfortunately, she’s never really been comfortable as a knight, not really any more comfortable than she is as a woman. In her mind, the two ideas of “woman” and “strong” are still at odds with each other, which I’ve already elaborated on before. By contrast, there are other women we meet who are also warriors. They had to be, to protect themselves, their people, their home, etc., and to them, there is no such conflict in their minds. As such, one character observes that they are more comfortable both as women and as warriors than this lady knight ever has been. They are strong women, and it makes them all the more attractive, not less.

Finally, I do have to admit that something behind this quote is not entirely untrue. As men, we do want to protect our women, we do want to be their knight in shining armor, and we do want to be their Prince Charming. Yes, we do sometimes fantasize about winning their hearts as easily as slaying a dragon, or some other grand gesture. But, that is simply a desire to be useful to them, to show our worth clearly and earn their affection. We want to be there for them and make their problems go away.

However, there is a huge difference between wanting to be useful to our women, and wanting our women to be weak. If we love them, and we do, then of course we want to protect them, but that doesn’t mean they have to be restricted from defending themselves. Heh, I actually remember one time when my mother, in course of becoming a nurse, worked temporarily at a mental hospital, and my dad, wanting her to be safe, took her shopping for a small gun, just to be on the safe side. This is the same man who had a rifle with which my mother was intent on defending herself with when a pair of intruders were at our front door (she figured our snarling, protective dog could take one with his teeth while she took the other with the gun, but, fortunately for them, they looked for a house that did not include a snarling, sixty-pound dog on the other side of the door).

Women are often talking about how they want men to be kind and sensitive, but I’ve yet to hear them say that they want a weak man. I can assure you, we don’t want weak women either. A strong man and a strong woman are stronger together. That is the ideal.

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This Week on TV, May 19, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

Well, this is it. The end of the season.

Gotham and Agents of Shield both delivered strong, emotional finales this week, though the former set up its next season and the latter, for once, just wrapped up the story. I enjoyed both of them immensely, and they picked very good points to leave off for awhile. It’s going to feel like forever, it always does.

See you all again in a few months! 😉

Gotham

4.22 “No Man’s Land”

And we go from deep waters to much deeper waters, from the fire to the bonfire, and from the darkness to even greater darkness.

Bruce gets Selina to the hospital posthaste after Jeremiah shot her, and they get her into surgery immediately, but her spinal cord was damaged… (hey, wait a minute, are they borrowing Batgirl’s fate?) …and the last thing we really see of her is when they’re wheeling her in. She pleads with Bruce, more afraid than I recall ever seeing her, just for him to be there, to not leave her. She told him last episode that she would always be there for him, and he is determined to be there for her.

But fate, and Batman’s two greatest enemies, are not so kind as that.

Alfred probably would have killed Jeremiah if they hadn’t needed to save Selina, but as is he punches him good and takes him to Gordon at the GCPD. The cops are definitely wanting some of his blood, can’t blame them there, but Gordon intends for him to rot in Arkham, no matter his cryptic talk of vision, eyes opening, another set of generator bombs, and wanting to talk with Bruce. Unfortunately, when Ra’s uses one such bomb to level the mayor’s office with the mayor and his staff still inside, they have to play ball a bit, and when the military arrives to put the city under martial law until order is restored, the locals are all robbed what fleeting control over the situation they might have had. The officer in charge has Gordon promptly arrested for not complying quickly enough and hauls Bruce and Alfred in against their will.

I can respect that the military took every precaution they knew how to take, and they did what seemed best to them to save the situation and save lives, but they didn’t know what they were really dealing with. Ra’s and the League enter the precinct, kill soldiers, take Jeremiah, Bruce, the bombs, and a small fleet of GCPD transport vans, all without ever being seen by most of the armed forces in the building. The military might have the firepower needed to lay waste to the League, but caught unawares and facing assassins led by a man who is practically a phantom, they stood no chance.

Gordon took an involuntary side-trip while all this was happening. Riddler wanted Lee to choose him over Gordon, so he kidnapped Gordon and started killing him slowly, under a weight press, supposedly so Lee would be free of his influence and become the woman he wanted her to be. Lee found out, of course, and made a show of her independence, severing ties with Gordon, announcing that she was leaving Gotham (for the umpteenth time), and inviting Riddler to join her. That was partially a ruse too, to get Gordon out. She will always care for him, as he cares for her, but their time is done, and she’s not the person she once was. As for leaving, that’s because she feels her work in the Narrows is done. And Riddler? Well, that’s a problem she’s dealing with.

When Gordon returns, it takes him and Bullock almost no time at all to figure out that the bombs are heading to the bridges, to isolate the city and turn it into a dark island. When the military man refuses to clear the bridges and tries to arrest Gordon again, Bullock and all the other officers turn their guns on him. This is their town, they know what’s going on now, they trust Gordon and got his back, and they will clear those bridges. Which, they do, just in time.

They don’t know it, but they got some much-needed help at that pivotal moment. After Ra’s kidnaps Bruce, Alfred goes to Barbara to find Ra’s. She’s been given an offer by the immortal, to come with him, rule the league as a whole by his side, and share eternity with him. She’s not tempted by that offer, apparently, and means to kill him. With her come her lady assassins and one pissed-off Tabitha. She was with Butch, undergoing Strange’s macabre, mad science treatment to restore him, when she got the call about Selina, and she really wants to kill Jeremiah. Butch would come with her, but the process should not be interrupted, so Penguin goes in his place. With Jeremiah and Ra’s working together, that points them all in the same direction, to kill their enemies and save Bruce.

All things considered, it goes fairly well. They don’t lose any of their own, Penguin saves Tabitha from Jeremiah, Barbara puts the reforged dagger’s handle in Bruce’s hand and rams it into Ra’s chest, making him crumble entirely to ash this time, and even with their failure to stop the detonation of the bombs, they buy just enough time for the bridges to be cleared of innocent civilians, Gordon himself carrying the last child to safety in the nick of time.

With the destruction of the bridges, however, and the loss of power, the city is falling quickly into literal and figurative darkness. The military is pulling out, and taking everyone they can with them, including most of the cops and other public services. The entire island is about to erupt in an unholy turf war with gangs and freaks tearing it apart in every corner.

Bruce reaches Selina’s side again just as the last ambulance is about to leave with her. He promised to be by her side, and, in my opinion, he should have done just that. He sees the destruction swallowing the city, and I can understand why he chooses to stay, but, come on, Bruce, why not leave and then come back? Selina was there for Bruce, and Bruce promised to stay with her. Instead, he chooses Gotham over her, sending Alfred to take care of her. There’s something about that which, really, I can only imagine that it will create a gap between them which may well prove impossible to bridge this time. He’s fighting for the city and the people in it, but he’s also letting her down, severely. That can’t end well.

He’s not alone in the darkness, though. Gordon stays too, and with him comes Bullock, Fox (who gets the lights turned on with one of Jeremiah’s generators), and more officers. They’re staying to fight for their city. And the first thing Gordon does is set up a spotlight, pointing up to the clouds, to show people that there is still some light, shining brilliantly in this darkness.

They’re up against a great deal. In the abyss Gotham has fallen into, it’s demons are already on the rise. Firefly, Freeze, Scarecrow, the Sirens, pretty much everyone I can think of is accounted for except the Hatter and Poison Ivy, all of them leaping to carve out bloody chunks of the city for themselves. And new monsters are rising in the shadows as well, teasing Man-Bat and Mother-Mae-I, if I guess (and spell) correctly. Even Bruce is stalking in the darkness, looking for Jeremiah. And Penguin has influence again, and Doctor Strange is at work as well with his latest acquisitions.

In regards to that last, Penguin and Strange, the former used the latter’s services to restore Butch… just so he could kill him in front of Tabitha. It’s well over two years since Tabitha, at Galavan’s order, murdered Penguin’s mother. They’ve been enemies and allies countless times since, and Penguin could have killed her countless times, but he waited. He even saved her life that very night, and exhausted his resources curing Butch, just so he could take someone Tabitha loved from her and make her live with that pain. He shoots her in the leg to keep her from killing him right then, but now the line between them is drawn. They are out to kill each other now, and nothing less.

That last is part of what inspires Barbara and the Sirens to institute a No Men policy, starting with killing Penguin’s goons who deliver Tabitha and the male members of the League who came to offer their allegiance to Barbara after she killed Ra’s.

Last but not least, Strange’s latest project is mending Riddler and Lee, after the two lovers stab each other. Lee wasn’t going to leave the Narrows now, and she knew Riddler was going to turn on her someday and kill her, so she struck first, and he struck back. Now they’re in Strange’s care, and in Penguin’s custody, which, considering that he just healed Butch in order to kill him, does not bode well.

So the finale ends with the setup for next season, Bruce and Gordon standing side-by-side beneath the light, looking over the No Man’s Land that Gotham has become, planning how to take it back.

The No Man’s Land storyline is one of the most famous and powerful, I think, in all of Batman lore. The original story involved the federal government giving up on Gotham and blowing the bridges, and it was set about ten years into Bruce’s time as Batman, including his gallery of sidekicks, an array of his enemies, and even Lex Luthor of Superman fame played a pivotal role. It’s easily a favorite among fans, myself included, which is why they included elements of it in Dark Knight Rises.

It promises to be a most riveting and compelling storyline for Gotham to tackle next season, but I wonder. I remember watching Smallville‘s later seasons, with Doomsday, Zod, and Darkseid, and thinking that it was a bit ridiculous for them to keep giving Clark (and the Justice League) such greater and greater foes to face without Clark actually being Superman, or even being able to properly fly. It worked pretty heavily against the show, I thought.

Now Gotham plunging the Bruce and Gordon into No Man’s Land, perhaps the single most famous crucible the Dark Knight has ever faced in comic book lore, complete with supervillains carving up territory and monsters lurking in the darkness, but Bruce isn’t Batman yet. Quite the contrary, this is supposed to make him become Batman, which, really, every other version of Batman is Bruce Wayne’s idea, the result of his drive, his will, his dedication. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman on his own, not because of some villain’s desire for it. So, I wonder if the show will suffer for this.

But whether this is the moment the show begins to head downhill or just a precursor to something even greater, this was definitely a season finale for the books, most excellently done!

Agents of Shield

5.22 “The End”

If this ends up as the last episode of the series, which I hope it isn’t, then they certainly did a pretty good job of it.

(looks it up on Wikipedia)

Ok, not the end of the series. But, the next one airs next year. Drat. Patience may be a virtue I’ve had to practice, but who doesn’t hate waiting for good things, eh?

As for the episode itself: wow.

I will admit, after seeing Infinity War last week, I was afraid that even if the agents won, it would end on a note of half of them disappearing into dust. I’m glad they didn’t do that. There was plenty enough tension without it.

To start with, we have the heated discussion of whether to save Coulson or the world. Yo-Yo leads the argument for the world, Daisy for Coulson, Fitz-Simmons popping in their insights. Daisy is about to make the decision unilaterally, but Yo-Yo steals the centipede serum from her, and she’s breaking down because she’s alone and nothing is holding them together. That’s when Mack tells them that they still have hope to hold them together, bringing her around, and they’re going to vote until May grabs the odium and smashes it. She decides the save the man instead of the world.

Coulson would have agreed with Yo-Yo, as he tells her when she comes to make herself clear on that. May made the choice to save Coulson, but she also leaves the needle with the serum that will save his life on the desk next to him. It’ll be his choice, then, whether he lives or not. She’s fought to save him, she just took away the alternative, and now she leaves it to him, to live and get back in the fight, or just lie there and die.

With the impending end of the world, Deke does what he can to prepare the Lighthouse for its soon-to-be status as humanity’s last refuge, but he’s not staying. As he figures it, either the world will break, and he wants to see it’s beauties first, or they’ll break the loop and he’ll wink out of existence, so he wants to see the world’s beauties first. He was never an agent, never really fit in with them, but that’s because they’re all so willing to die for each other, rather than just kill for each other, while he’s a broken man from a broken place. So, as a bit of parting advice, he tells Daisy that she needs to fix that first, if she wants to ever lead the team.

Daisy takes that to heart and does one better. See, she doesn’t want to lead. She actually agrees with Yo-Yo, that she’s not fit for it. She can’t hold the team together. (as I’ve said, she’s good at taking point, but she’s not ready for leading Shield just yet) But Mack is. Mack, not Daisy, is the one who can hold them together, a general they can all rally behind. And everyone on the team agrees, including Coulson, who walks in, hands Daisy her Quake gear, and hands the reins of leadership to Mack.

So, what are the agents of Shield going to do with Mack as their leader? Save lives.

Talbot got Robin to talk, to show him where the gravitonium is, by taking her mother away from her. Even knowing what she knows, even having May as a second mother for much of her life, Robin is still just a little girl. So she gives Talbot what he wants, and he descends on Chicago. He lands is ship, which he’s levitating to fly, on top of several tall buildings, raining death and chaos in the streets as he tears them up to absorb small pieces of gravitonium. Cops, firemen, medics, everyone’s trying to help, but there’s so much damage, so many people getting hurt, that they’re overwhelmed.

And then comes Mack’s voice, the voice of Shield. Oh, thank God.

Shield guides the evacuation, using aircraft to carry people who are trapped, going inside the buildings the ship landed on to clear them before they collapse. And as for they enemy? Do not engage. Shield will deal with him, sending their two biggest guns, Coulson to talk and Daisy to punch.

Shield is here. They got this.

…except, Coulson isn’t going. He can barely stand. He didn’t take the serum. So with some counsel for Daisy, he sends her in. She relents, at first unwillingly, but tells him to go and back and take the serum right then and there.

The audience sees this scene as the creation of that footage she was shown in the future. The day the world ended. The last day she was ever seen. The day of the huge earthquake that began the shattering of the world.

Mack and May reach the top of a building just below the ship, finding Robin and some others. Mack goes in after Robin’s mother, Polly. Fitz arrives shortly after, and realizes that Mack and Polly, two people who don’t make it to the future, are alone, out of sight, on a hostile alien ship. Mack finds Polly quickly enough, but two enemies come on them and they’re cornered, unable to run. But May and Fitz arrive, saving them and getting them out. Robin reunites with her mother, Mack makes it out alive… but rubble falls on Fitz.

Davis flies Coulson back to the Zephyr, but he’s unconscious and unresponsive on arrival. Simmons races for the med-bay and the needle while Yo-Yo prays and does chest compressions. Daisy tries to reason with Talbot, and she got close, perhaps, but the man turns on her and intends to absorb her so he can quake the ground apart, gather the gravitonium faster.

And then Robin, running from danger with her mother, says, “Something’s different.”

Fitz is uncovered, but grievously wounded. He dies. The loops is officially broken.

Robin’s mother lives. Mack lives. The loops is further broken.

The needle is missing. Coulson put the pieces together and hid it in Daisy’s gauntlet. She jams it into herself, getting a ridiculous power boost to break free from Talbot’s grip. Then she sends him up, into the sky, into space, becoming a block of floating ice on route to the sun.

The loop is broken. The world is saved.

Shield has saved the world, at the cost of several of their own.

Daisy had the right of it when she told Talbot that he was already a hero, that there were heroes in the streets all around them, that everyone who took the oath to protect others, they’re heroes. And Shield, they’re heroes. They signed up to lose everything, including each other, in service to others.

It’s a sober victory they have.

Simmons intends to find Fitz. He’s dead, but his past self is still frozen in space, taking the long way around to the future. She’ll find him.

There is intimation that Deke did, indeed, just wink out of existence.

Mack is the new Director, with Daisy as a strong number two, Yo-Yo by their side, Simmons looking for her husband who isn’t married to her yet, Davis flying the plane, and Piper joining them all in the cockpit.

Coulson has days, maybe weeks. So what does he do? He retires. They fly him and May to Tahiti, they all share one last drink together, some words, and then it’s off to the beach. The older generation steps down and the next one takes off.

The End.

Very, very satisfying.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #182: For Our Mothers

“There isn’t a little boy born who wouldn’t tear the world apart to save his mommy.”
– The Doctor, Doctor Who
Series 1, Episode 10, “The Doctor Dances”

What better quote for Mother’s Day, eh?

The exact circumstances surrounding this quote involve a boy who, by freak occurrence, gained the power to do exactly that, tear the world apart to save his mom. He stands as an example of why we don’t all have that power, because the world would end in about five minutes, but the point still stands.

Every man was once a boy, and there is no limit to what we would do, if it were in our power, for our mothers.

If hate begets hate, then a mother’s love for her children begets love for her in return. Love being naturally a motivation to protect, mothers are known for being very protective of their children, and children are known for protecting their mothers. I cannot think of single instance otherwise where something was not perversely wrong with the situation. It is simply in us to love and protect, and we learn about that straight from our own parents.

In my family, we joke about grizzly moms. It refers to how a mama bear will defend her cubs, and ferociously, even against male bears twice her own size. So, you really don’t want to be the pale, puny human, by comparison, which threatens one of my mother’s brood. Or any mother’s brood, really. 😉

That drive to protect flows in the other direction too, I can promise. I’ve not yet had occasion to unleash my demonic wrath, as no one has been unfortunate enough to threaten my mother, but I pity any poor fool who ever does. It will not end well for them. (mwahahah!)

Of course, the same also goes for my sisters, but I’ll elaborate on that another time.

For now, let our mothers know that we, their sons (and daughters), will always protect them as they have protected us, even if we must needs tear the world apart to do so.

Hopefully it won’t come to that, and there are countless less-dramatic ways to show our love (like calling or skyping on Mother’s Day and helping out in more ordinary ways every day), but you get the idea. 😉

Love you, Mom.

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This Week on TV, May 12, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

Between Gotham and Agents of Shield, this week delivered us a one-two punch, laying us out and paving the way for the final blow of next week’s season finales. Gotham had its greatest crisis to date, and even in the heroes’ moment of victory, tragedy struck. And on Agents of Shield, we had a fierce confrontation that cleared the immediate field of pretty much everything except the final threat… and this is all just a tangent from the true menace the Avengers are facing in Infinity War (which I am about to go and see, yay!).

So, good week!

Gotham

4.21 “One Bad Day”

Me at the end of this episode: “No… no, no, no, she’s fine, she’s fine, she’s fine, she’s gotta be fine, because this is Selina freaking Kyle, Catwoman, we’re talking about here, and it would be commercial suicide.”

But there’s always that little voice in the back, whispering so low and inescapably clear, “Oh reeeeeeally?”

…there are times I really hate that little voice.

Starting back at the beginning of this episode, the GCPD is rocked to its core by the massive explosion they saw clear from the precinct and apparent death of Captain Jim Gordon, not to mention the arrival of Jeremiah Valeska with his new adherents, formerly his brother’s followers. The cops might be reluctant to follow Bullock’s lead again, especially after what it got them the last time, namely when the Pyg butchered them, but the crisis Jeremiah forces on them leaves them little choice.

This deranged lunatic has over a dozen large bombs all over the city, which he proves by detonating one of them and reducing the clock tower to rubble. He intends to destroy the city no matter what happens. He is simply giving Gotham six hours to evacuate, is all. Impossible, but the cops and the mayor do everything they can to expedite the process. They’ll never succeed, but they’ll try.

Better to cut off the trouble at its source, ya know? Go for the head of the snake, the root of the problem, etc. To which end, Fox gets hold of the generator bomb’s schematics, courtesy of a remorseful Bruce Wayne. The bombs are powerful, but there is a weak spot: they all have to communicate with each other. For that, they have a central node, a core, acting like a brain in a nervous system. Find that, remove from the equation, and the crisis ends, yes?

It does not help matters when Penguin decides to make a move. He ropes Barbara into helping, via Tabitha’s affection for Butch, so when he confronts Jeremiah, he has a small army, including highly-trained assassins, at his side. And his hand: he has one of Jeremiah’s new followers rigged to explode with the core in his grip. His demand: fifty millions, which Jeremiah can extort from the city in exchange for more time to evacuate. Penguin’s real plan, of course, is to take the money, kill Jeremiah, give the core to the cops, be hailed as a hero. (and get Butch fixed, Butch and Tabitha are very firm about that) But Jeremiah only seems to acquiesce just long enough get out of blasting range and retrieve a rocket launcher. He kills his follower himself, destroying the core as well. He has a backup plan, where the bombs communicate more directly with each other, and this fiasco has ticked him off to the point where he won’t wait. The moment he’s safe, he’ll detonate the bombs. No more time limit.

With Penguin’s plan completely backfiring, he calls Bullock, letting him know. The good news is, this backup plan leaves the bombs vulnerable to disarming. All they have to do is knock out one, and the rest will refuse to detonate. They just need to find one.

And here we have Gordon’s triumphant return. He was saved by Riddler’s man who was following him, taken to Lee for medical care, and what he stole wasn’t blueprints to the bombs, but something else, some other piece of the plan. Lee sees an opportunity to earn clemency for her recent crimes, by ransoming what they have to the city, both protecting the Narrows and themselves. Riddler solves it easily enough: it’s the labyrinth that Jeremiah intends to create by toppling the buildings he’s targeting. Thus, they now have a list of all of Jeremiah’s targets.

After tricking and overpowering Riddler, who is probably going to erupt in insecure jealousy next episodes, in the season finale, Gordon takes that information straight to the precinct, where he’s given a hero’s welcome, and go for the nearest bomb. Bullock goes first, because he needs this, and he goes in when the bomb squad is trapped in the traffic of an entire city’s population trying to flee for their lives. With the precinct officers watching in tense silence, Fox talks Bullock through the process. Just unscrew the antenna, the bomb opens, and disable the breaker. Curve ball: Jeremiah put in two breakers, probably just in case. There’s nothing to indicate which one will disable the bomb and which one will set them all off and destroy the city. It’s just a fifty-fifty chance, like flicking a coin, with obscenely high stakes.

Bullock goes for it and picks the right one, thank goodness, and just in the nick of time, too.

Jeremiah is in his underground maze, or another place very similar to such since he blew that one up, his personal bunker, with all his followers, congratulating them and sharing how much it means to have them there with him. But then Gordon’s face pops up on the television behind him, making him a liar in the eyes of his adherents. They’re about to turn on him, but he promises them the destruction of Gotham when he flicks a switch. Gordon’s public appearance bought just a few precious seconds, and that’s when Bullock chooses the right breaker. Jeremiah’s schemes fail to either kill Gordon or destroy the city. His people turn on him, but he’s ready for that: he steps quickly out of the room, locks them in, and burns them all alive.

He certainly is far more direct in just killing people than his brother was.

The day belongs to the heroes of Gotham. The city still stands. Gordon lives. Bullock has proven himself and receives a standing ovation upon his return. And both sets of meddling criminals have gotten nothing for their trouble-causing trouble. Penguin finds himself very much unwelcome at Barbara’s, and Butch refuses to follow his increasingly-disastrous schemes any longer. Penguin has little choice but to reveal the location of Hugo Strange to them, and somehow I doubt Strange will insist on much in the way of payment when he’s faced with both Butch and Tabitha.

Finally, there’s Bruce. After giving Fox and Bullock access to the schematics and hanging his head in shame at his part in this crisis, Bruce gets a call from Jeremiah, demanding he come to an empty building, without the cops, or Alfred dies. This he does, but he brings Selina, and that was a very good move. When Bruce walks in, I could tell something was amiss, but it wasn’t until we saw Selina lurking around that I noticed what it was: Bruce was not at all using his mind as he usually does. Small wonder, as he was being hit with Scarecrow’s gas from the minute he walked in. He’s running around screaming for Alfred while the man seems to be tortured and exposed to gas live on every screen, absolutely horrific. It’s his “one bad day,” intended to drive him insane like Jerome did to Jeremiah. Selina manages to best Scarecrow and two goons by herself, turning the gas off and finding the real Alfred, while Bruce finds a fake one who tries to kill him. He barely makes it through the ordeal, but he does, thanks to Alfred and Selina.

All in all, a good day for the good guys.

Except… this does not match the vision Ra’s al’Ghul had of the city in flames, and the ancient specter appears before Jeremiah as the madman is beginning his plans again from scratch. (question, if he’s set on working alone now, then where’s Echo?) The two villains together are a nightmare to contemplate, and they share an interest both in Gotham’s fall, and in Bruce Wayne’s transformation.

So as the trio return to Wayne Manor to rest and celebrate, their joy is short-lived. They need to get some better security at that building, but when dealing with Ra’s and Jeremiah, perhaps that would be a moot point. Either way, just as Bruce and Selina finally kiss, Jeremiah arrives, set on driving Bruce mad by taking what he loves away from him.

He shoots Selina in the gut.

Alfred is there instantly, beating Jeremiah down, but Selina is hurt, and hurt very badly.

She said she’d always be there for him, but she’s being taken from him.

Two of the series’ worst villains have joined forces and hurt Selina Kyle, turning the triumph of everyone saving Gotham into a tragedy of loss.

Whatever happens next, this is a defining moment for Bruce especially and for the show as a whole.

So… as much as I am going, “She’ll be fine, really, she will be,” I do have to wonder.

“Oh, reeeeally?”

Agents of Shield

5.21 “The Force of Gravity”

The loop is closing, and the riddle is almost solved.

While the Avengers are fighting to save the universe in the Infinity War (just a couple more hours until I see it!), the agents are fighting on its outskirts to save the Earth and humanity and their leader. Their enemy, tragically, is a man they called a friend, a friend who, even after all their ups and downs and failures, put it all on the line for them barely even a few hours ago. Even now, Talbot is trying to save the world, “to fix it.” His mind is unstable, he’s become delusional and murderous, and the bodies are starting to pile up.

And thus the man has become the monster.

Talbot takes the quinjet off the Zephyr, killing Agent Kim in the process, so he can descend to Earth. Then he goes to Creel, a man who trusts him and has fought for him, because Talbot removed Hydra’s programming and let him be a good man again, and absorbs the absorbing man. He goes to his family, frightening his son and nearly killing his wife before Shield arrives. He holds back, doesn’t kill the agents, but it’s his son who drives him off when he calls Talbot a bad guy, which Talbot has to go and try to prove wrong. And finally, he once again kidnaps Robin and her mother, so she can tell him where to get more gravitonium.

In the face of all that, each of the agents has to come to their own place, where they’re resolved to stop Talbot even if it means killing him. It doesn’t sit easy with any of them, but if that’s how they save the world, then that’s what they must do.

Up on the ship, May and Coulson find a way to break out of their prison cell, but Deke arrives to rescue them first. They find Daisy too, after she has a one-on-one telepathic chat with Kasius (he tries to bring her to his side at first, but she’s already seen what his family has to offer Inhumans, so he tries to break her instead, but she will not be broken by the likes of him). Then they split up, Daisy and Coulson to the Zephyr, Deke and May to the bridge. For all that Kovus talks about the honor of killing without a gun, he resorts to missiles easily enough, so they reprogram the missiles to hit the ship that launches them, and this would be why May didn’t just finish him off, so he could launch the missiles and end his threat himself. Poetic, that. The tricky part was programming the teleport device to take them to the Lighthouse before the missiles hit, but Deke pulled that off while May was busy.

That’s the lesser alien threat in the skies neutralized, so all that’s left is Talbot.

Oh, and Coulson kissed May while they were under fire. Heh.

So, things are starting to look up. Especially since, back down on the ground, Fitz-Simmons are working on a way to save Coulson. They have it, where they use the centipede serum to deliver Jiaying’s healing DNA into Coulson’s cells, and this also gives them a weapon to use against Talbot, by using the same method to deliver the odium into his system. Mind you, considering how suped-up the people who take it get, it occurs to me that might actually be how the world breaks under the weight of its first gravity storm. Either way, they only have enough serum for one of these plans.

And that’s how it comes to be a choice between saving Coulson or the world. Rather elegant, isn’t it? It’s not the first domino in the sequence, but rather the last of several pivotal decisions. This is the moment where Shield decides the fate of the world.

They need to decide soon. In fact, they need to decide now, because his condition is advancing at a rapid pace. He’s dying now.

…to be continued!

(excellent stopping point, poised right over the teeth of the finale next week, and now I’m off to see Infinity War at last!)

EDIT: I have seen it. Holy ****. I’m guessing this finale’s final moments will give us more of the fallout from the Infinity War, as tragically as possible, but what the heck are they going to do for next season, then?

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Sunday’s Wisdom #181: The Girl Warrior

“I am a warrior, but I’m a girl, too.”
– Suki, Avatar: The Last Airbender
Season 1, Episode 4, “The Warriors of Kyoshi”

Among the many things the original Avatar show got right: the strong female characters. 🙂

When Sokka first meets the Kyoshi warriors, he is just at the beginning of his development in so many ways. Indeed, meeting them is pivotal to how he matures. At the start, he believes his role as a man will be to do the hunting and fighting, and a girl’s role as a future woman will be to sew, mend, cook, etc. Now, while the division of labor between the sexes has generally served to good purpose, these are not inherently what define a man and a woman. Sokka comes to learn that women are, in fact, capable of fighting by a man’s side, and he is regretful of his earlier disdain towards them. He treated them like girls when he should have treated them as warriors, he says.

Suki responds with the above quote, and it rings true.

Sokka learns this too, in time, but it’s a mistake to think in terms of either/or. That’s the mistake he was really making, earlier. He thought “girl” and “warrior” couldn’t be the same person. But men aren’t all warriors either so why should being a warrior exclude a girl from being a girl?

Now, what makes a girl a “girl” and a boy a “boy,” that is something I am not going to go into right now. My point is that we often disconnect things that don’t need to be, putting up barriers we don’t need. Once that barrier is there, it’s only overcome with great pain and personal cost, all of which could have been avoided. Better to realize that there is no real barrier, only what exists in the mind.

Do men and women generally have greater strengths is certain areas? Yes.

Should men and women be strictly confined to these general areas of strength? No.

A boy, a girl? These are what we are. But warrior, healer, scholar, nurturer, leader, parent? These are who we are. It is foolish and hurtful to act as if one can only be one or the other.

A girl can be a warrior, a warrior can be a girl, and there need be no separation between the two.

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This Week on TV, May 5, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

So, both Gotham and Agents of Shield aired this week, both of them hit hard and built up the suspense as they finally drive us headlong towards their respective season finales. The stakes are high, the explosions are big, the characters are driven, and the fallout is going to be huge.

Whoo!

Gotham

5.20 “That Old Corpse”

Oh boy.

What’s the only thing worse than a raging madman? A genius madman, with just enough left in the way of rational thinking to take the power of his madness and apply it more efficiently.

Jerome was the former, and Jeremiah is now the latter.

One show. Two Jokers. Take your pick for which one is more insane.

Jerome’s “followers,” all those Joker-wannabes, are having a funeral of sorts for him, when a girl in a grey harlequin costume (oh, Jeremiah comes with his own version of Harley Quinn too!) crashes the party and plays some taped instructions from “Jerome.” First order: dig him up. Which they do with mad glee.

Next up: Gordon is at the GCPD, wishing he could just let Lee go, but he chooses to be bound by the law. He has enough dirty laundry to live with, and refuses to break the law just because he wants to. That burden gets put on hold, though, as as a tape “from Jerome” is delivered just in time to tell Gordon that his acolytes are going to be having a party inside the precinct. So, the prisoners get transferred out, the cops arm up… but Gordon’s plan is to give way quickly, let them have their party while the cops cordon off the area and let them wear themselves out before tear-gassing them and subduing them all at once. Good plan, goes pretty smoothly, and it allows Gordon and others to interrogate someone unseen, to figure out what all of this is supposed to distract them from.

That last turns out to be the murder of Bruce and Jeremiah, so Gordon calls Alfred. The butler arms up and both men are heading to Jeremiah’s underground maze, where both would-be victims are testing their new generator. Alfred is immediately waylaid before he even gets to the car, by several enemies. We don’t see what happens, but we see lots of blood and the trail of a body being dragged away.

In the middle of the chaos, Riddler arrives to rescue Lee. The raving party of madmen inside is a bit of a severe complication, but he adapts. He sees what the cops are doing, sees that Lee was accidentally let behind, grabs a clown costume to sneak in, and brings a couple gas masks for him and Lee so they can sneak back out. She even kisses him as they hide under the stairs when the cops storm the place. And voila! Scot-free escape!

Butch and Penguin have been hiding out since the debacle at the bank, and how they managed to escape, I have no idea. But their partnership is under considerable strain, and all they manage to accomplish is grabbing a clown goon and torturing him for information. Still, at this point in the game, it’s best not to count them out. At all.

Bruce is just smiling over Jeremiah’s new generator, which he completed with the help of Wayne Enterprises, when the crisis hits. As the fiasco plays towards its conclusion outside, Bruce has to inform Jeremiah of it, after Alfred informs him. Then Jeremiah confesses the bit about the insanity gas left behind by his brother, revealing that his sanity is under threat by his brother’s ghost. So Bruce takes a bit of a chance and takes Jeremiah to see Jerome’s grave. Finding it empty, Jeremiah supposedly goes nuts, seeing Jerome everywhere, even believing that he’s killed Bruce and is posing as him. But that all is just song and dance, a farce to draw things out and display to Jerome’s followers just how pitiful the first Joker’s madness was.

No, Jeremiah isn’t haunted by Jerome’s ghost at all. He’s just gone insane, gone pasty-white, and gone to great lengths to recruit Jerome’s acolytes, subdue Bruce, and kill Gordon.

That last involves luring Gordon to the heart of the maze, delaying him with Echo and a movie, revealing himself on film, all to time it, so precisely, to coincide with the generator going critical in a massive explosion. Gordon is left alone in the maze, but he grabs blueprints and gets out fast the same way Jeremiah showed him the first time. Of course we know he makes it, but that was certainly a pretty close call, being that close to such a big explosion that’s seen all across Gotham.

Jeremiah flat-out wins this round, save for the survival of some of his targets. And he’s just getting started. He invades Wayne Enterprises, welcomed in and taking the guards by surprise, to find one or two dozen more generators/bombs. He intends to carry out Jerome’s plans in a “sane” manner, meaning less meandering madness, and more direct destruction. He intends to flat-out burn Gotham.

So, criminal intrigue continues, Jeremiah rises at the head of Jerome’s old cult to threaten all the city, Alfred’s missing and presumed bleeding very badly, Gordon’s missing and presumed dead (not to mention weighed down by his mistakes), Bruce is in enemy hands, as are a couple dozen very big bombs, and the GCPD is literally just beginning to clean up the mess that’s already hit them.

The finale’s coming really soon, right?

Agents of Shield

5.20 “The One Who Will Save Us All”

And it all falls ever further into place.

Talbot is completely fused with the gravitonium, and so he wields its power perfectly. The voices in his head are under his control as well, and he’s not rambling or anything like he was. But just because the gaps in his mind are filled in, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still filled with cracks. A terrible amount of power is in the hands of a man with all the faults of Talbot when we first met him – stubborn, prideful, narrow-minded – with none of his rational restraints. Result: he storms the ship, squashes people like bugs, demands that everyone kneel before his absolute power, etc.

It’s brutal, but it seems effective… at first. Kovus and his marauders were all defiance until one of them was turned into a pretzel, and suddenly they became submissive and even helpful. Beware enemies who submit too easily, for they are probably just shifting tactics.

Kovus and his ilk are filled with guile, after all, and for all that Kovus talked about dying instead of betraying the Confederacy, he certainly knew Coulson was getting information from Hale at that very moment. When Talbot demanded an audience with all six members of the Confederacy, Kovus helped him dress the part, and then was clearly of a like mind with a certain opportunist on the council, and he quickly and skillfully turned Talbot against Coulson as well, so… yeah, quick and easy submission are things to beware of, not glory in.

Hale and Coulson have an odd sort of bonding moment. It’s interesting how blurry the line between friend and enemy can be. Talbot certainly demonstrates the danger of making that line too clear and easy to step over without ever intending to, but as for the leaders of Shield and Hydra, they work well together, I think. Even when Talbot is turning against Coulson, Hale seems to be betraying him but is actually waiting to take her own shot at turning Talbot. It might only have been luck that Coulson survived that moment, the only man that Talbot has thus far given a second chance to, but either way, Hale was smart not to stand next to him. Unfortunately, when she did take her shot, trying to get Talbot to comply a’la his old Hydra programming, it didn’t work, and he killed her without a second thought.

Then there’s Talbot’s experience with the Confederacy council. Six members, leaders of various clans. One, the most outspoken against Talbot, gets squished/absorbed, most of the others scurry back home, but Talbot and Kovus have a talk with the Kree representative, the leader of the Kasius family. This is the man whose sons Shield tangled with in the future timeline, the man who, through his son, holds the last of humanity enslaved on their broken home world. Clearly not a man to trust, but Talbot doesn’t know that. All he knows is what Kovus and Kasius tell him, which ties almost directly into the events of Infinity War (just one more week until I see that movie… one more week, one more week…).

They refer to Thanos, currently attacking their world at that very moment. The Confederacy never had any intention of helping Earth against him, they just wanted to strip Earth of whatever they wanted, conning Hydra into doing the dirty work for them. Talbot wants to rush back and join the Avengers in battle, but Kasius warns him against that. Even with his great power, Talbot is as much a bug to Thanos as is anyone else. Talbot may fight, but he will lose.

unless (and here’s where the scheming, seducing, beguiling comes in) he gets stronger, and stronger, and stronger. So much stronger, and so very quickly, and there is only one way for that. It’s a long shot and a desperate chance, but the world is fighting for the very survival of the entire universe, so long shots and desperate chances are all in vogue right now. It’s not pretty, and very dangerous, but it has to be done. Which is exactly what a soldier like Talbot will do.

Kovus and Kasius have Talbot wrapped around their finger within minutes. They want gravitonium, and Talbot can take every bit of it right out of the planet itself, so they tell him to do so “to save us all.” That’s when Coulson tries to talk him out of it, only to be nearly crushed for it. And hey, it’s not like ripping the gravitonium out of the Earth would do anything, like, say, shattering the planet, right?

So, I think we’re getting the picture of what happens now, with one exception: how does the choice to let Coulson live or die happen to make the difference between one scenario or the other?

If the imminent threat of absolute destruction weren’t enough, the team is bursting at the seams, on the brink of breaking as completely as the planet they’re trying to save. Fitz and Mack fight with words, Deke tries to confess to Daisy only to be shut down when she talks about Lincoln, Daisy is greeted by an angry Yo-Yo on her return and the two of them fight (I couldn’t help but recall when Daisy said Yo-Yo was her new best friend the first time they fought side by side), stopping only when May fires a shot overhead, Simmons has to dissect a marauder and work on some theoretical miracle cure for Coulson, Mack can barely stand Yo-Yo’s presence until after his fight with Fitz… yeah, the pressure is on, at every level.

Oddly enough, this is when they reach space in the newly-retrofitted Zephyr. Enduring great pressure and reaching great heights at the same time. Go figure.

And the stress of fighting seems to be letting them actually heal a little, perhaps, as when Mack doesn’t recoil from Yo-Yo, Fitz seems calm and collected again with Simmons, Deke and Daisy are growing a little closer… human beings are strange and wonderful creatures, ya know? 😉

Unfortunately, when May and Daisy (she mows straight through marauders) storm the ship to rescue Coulson and Talbot, they find Talbot has become the villain, they have to surrender as prisoners of war, and Daisy’s best shot barely even touches Talbot, while he subdues her with a flick of his finger. (are we sure he couldn’t do anything against Thanos as is?) Hale is dead, May and Coulson are prisoners, the Zephyr is definitely in hostile territory, Talbot is ready to rip the planet apart to get the power he needs to stop Thanos and “save the world,” and, to top it off, Talbot sends Daisy to Kasius as a gift while she’s unconscious.

…there’s a two-part finale next week, right? Because I don’t think I can take much more build-up! 😉

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Sunday’s Wisdom #180: Is Belief Blind?

“We all deceive ourselves, when we want to believe… False light can only lead us deeper into darkness.”
– Aemon Targaryen, A Feast for Crows
A Song of Ice and Fire
, by George R.R. Martin

This quote is technically two of them, but both said by the same person in rapid succession, and dealing with the same subject, so, I’m counting them as one. 😉

Aemon Targaryen, or Maester Aemon, as he’s primarily called, is a very wise, and very old (thus the wisdom), man. He has spent his long lifetime in service, learning, and gaining experience. Yet, as his time draws to its final conclusion, he wishes only that he could be of greater use at this pivotal moment in history. Alas, his time is done, and he can’t help but contemplate some mistakes he has made, specifically some hopes he allowed himself to misplace, just a little.

The first part of this quote is a reference to himself, to that mistake. But he’s certainly not the only one. A number of characters in this story do that.

He mentions, specifically, a woman who is rather famous among the fans of the book for how mistaken she has been, so badly and so many times. If Aemon allowed himself a small, brief hope in the wrong thing to flash before his old, blind eyes, then she has built up a mighty bonfire of such. It’s easy to judge such fanatics as she, but it didn’t hit me until Aemon said this that I realized that she may simply be wanting to believe so badly – far, far too badly – that she has gone to extremes and done terrible things, great and small. That’s a whole other laundry list of ill deeds for another day, but in short, she’s done her best to paint a shiny, glowing picture of things that people will believe, but, in the end, as close as it may come to the truth, it’s still a falsehood, supported by her tricks and lies.

She claims to see the light in the darkness, but it’s her own pale light that she follows, and leads others to follow down the wrong path, away from the light of the sun, where there is only more darkness, even more consuming for the meager, hollow light they sacrifice to preserve.

All because she wants to believe, to the point where she deceives even herself.

The lesson here is that it’s okay to have doubts and ask honest questions. It’s all right to take your time and keep calm instead of being caught up in fervor. It’s fine to test the light that you follow and discover its source. Indeed, one may say, that is what we should do.

Honest belief requires open eyes.

If it’s genuine, then it can withstand a bit of scrutiny.

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This Week on TV, Apr. 28, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

Looking at my entire lineup as it currently stands, The Gifted has been approved for a second season (yay!) coming in five or six months, Black Lightning had its season finale last week and has been approved for a second season, Gotham skipped this week and has just a couple of episodes left, Doctor Who will return in October… so that leaves Agents of Shield all alone this week, but, wow, did they deliver!

Agents of Shield

5.19 “Option Two”

It’s another one of those “holy ****” moments.

Coulson and the agents are doing their very best to get rid of the gravitonium and tie up loose ends, like getting Robin and her mother back into hiding, and thus prevent the impending end of the world.

Yo-Yo thinks, for one blessed moment, that she already won the victory by killing Ruby, and she doesn’t really mind having gotten her revenge in the same stroke. She realizes soon enough that her friends and even Mack disapprove because Shield, as opposed to Hydra, is not in the business of vengeful killing (except for when Coulson killed Ward, which immediately backfired on them as his fresh corpse was a handy host for Hive, so that’s more of a cautionary tale than an exception). She also realizes that she didn’t save the world at all, which is an even more savage blow to her spirit, but one she doesn’t have time to process because catastrophe is striking again.

This particular catastrophe involves Kovus (I think his name was) coming to Earth, straight to the Lighthouse and the small town around it, drawn by a beacon that Talbot set off when he was supposedly trying to break into the hanger. Big alien warship suddenly appears overhead, all communications cut off, and invaders with the ability to appear wherever they like, knocking out the lights with their mere presence and eviscerating everyone in their path.

Deke calls them the Marauders, and apparently no one knows how to stop them other than just giving them what they want. With how they move, how they kill, how they can strike from within any fortress and never mind the walls around it, and how bullets apparently don’t hurt them, yeah, I’d call them a pretty unstoppable death squad. Coulson and the others wanted to hunker down, but they just appear inside the base, so they try to evacuate, but every way is cut off, so it’s a desperate fight instead, every agent just trying to keep them away from the gravitonium. The agents are fierce, but the marauders have every clear advantage.

The agents don’t even have their biggest gun, Daisy. After getting Robin hidden away, she goes dark, working her own mission: to save Coulson. Yo-Yo is frantic when she hears that, telling May and Coulson about her conversation with her future self, how the key to saving the world is letting Coulson die, which May disagrees with partially because Robin says Coulson puts the pieces together, so they have conflicting reports, but they’ve no idea how to proceed, and Daisy doesn’t know any of this at all. And as she’s gone dark, she doesn’t even realize anything’s wrong at the Lighthouse, where her friends are fighting for their lives, with very bad results, of the “everyone’s getting slaughtered” variety.

(small wonder none of them are noticing the events of Infinity War, which I must, unfortunately, wait another two weeks to see, so don’t spoil it for me!)

In all the bloody chaos, perhaps the worst thing that could happen happens, as per usual.

Through twist of fate in desperate circumstance, Talbot is brought to the lab where the gravitonium and the infusion chamber are both under guard. Everyone except Simmons is fighting to hold them off, and Talbot, mentally, physically, and psychologically damaged, but wanting to fix the situation, sees a way to save the agents. He ices Simmons, steps into the chamber, and takes the gravitonium, with the two arguing minds, into himself.

Oddly, it works. He isn’t screaming about the other minds screaming in his skull. He’s quiet, calm, efficient, precise, and utterly destructive. Not that I mind him reducing the marauders to a paste, but out of everyone who might have been the Destroyer of Worlds, he might be the single most tragic of them all. After everything he’s done, everything he’s suffered, everything he’s lost, and everything he’s given, for him to become this season’s final threat… yeah, it’s a “holy ****” moment.

And still only half of that moment!

The other half goes back to Daisy. She gets info off Mack’s old friend, who’s been looking into the Dethlock program. John Garrett, from the first season, stayed alive for decades with some centipede serum in his veins, but Whitehall had a little something extra in it which turns out to be DNA from none other than Daisy’s mother, Jiaying, whose grave she goes to dig up.

Yep. The universe is threatened in Infinity War, the agents are threatened and all but annihilated here, the world is threatened by Talbot, of all people, becoming the Destroyer of Worlds, and Daisy dug up a trail following the first season’s villain which has led her to literally digging up her mother, the second season’s villain.

My brain is exploding, and we still have three episodes to go.

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Sunday’s Wisdom #179: Life’s Not Fair

“Sometimes life is unfair. And sometimes we lose things. And sometimes we make mistakes. And some of these things can never be fixed, no matter how powerful you become. Some things just are. And everyone has to live with that.”
– Death, aka Billie the Reaper, Supernatural
Season 13, Episode 19, “Funeralia”

If there’s anyone who can speak definitively about how unfair life is, it’s Death.

The exact circumstances surrounding the quote are a bit complicated, involving a powerful witch who spent her life in pursuit of said power and lost everything, especially those she loved, and now finds herself filled with regrets over her mistakes and how they impacted the life of her deceased son. The unique factors notwithstanding, I think most of us can relate to that fury and sorrow, that frustration at how unfair life is, and how we’ve mistakes that can’t be undone.

But, as Death say, that’s just life.

The hard truth is that when we lose important things, either through our own mistakes or just because it happens, we can’t undo that loss. Life is not fair, and it never has been, and it never will be. There are good things about that (I, personally, have a far better life than I’ve ever deserved), but it’s never easy to deal with loss. Even so, we have to deal with it. We have to live with it.

Loss, pain, regret, anger, the plain unfairness of life… these are just things that we all have to live with. Nobody escapes them, not really. Everyone has to live with it.

Life and Death do not play favorites.

The question, as I see it, isn’t if we live with this, but how we live with it.

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