He has returned.
What is hopefully the final encounter with Castle and Beckett’s worst archenemy, the serial killer Jerry Tyson, called 3XK, has begun! And when I say “worst,” this is my opinion, and I include former-Senator Bracken in the race. Bracken was powerful and dangerous, with a pile of bodies, including Beckett’s own mother, to his credit. But Bracken had nothing like Tyson’s sheer malice, or scheming, or people he murdered just for hell of it. Heck, Bracken actually had enough honor not to harm Beckett until after repaying her for saving his life, which Tyson does not. If these two villains were enemies, I’d bet on Tyson, because Tyson would find a way to get to Bracken, both physically and psychologically.
A good deal of the episode is spent recapping everything that has happened between Castle’s crew and Jerry Tyson. If you haven’t seen the relevant episodes, things are still made pretty clear, so even a newcomer to the audience will understand the stakes, understand how much personal damage Tyson has done to Castle and his friends at the NYPD.
And what’s worse than a serial killer? A serial-killing couple.
Plastic surgeon Kelly Nieman, the female half of Castle and Beckett’s antithesis, also returns. I never considered it before, but her abilities as a plastic surgeon are actually a brilliant lynchpin in Tyson’s nefarious schemes. Not only can he just claim that he only looks like himself, but until they get some physical evidence – which is infuriatingly-difficult to get when the serial killer has carefully stolen, replaced, or manipulated every bit of it – everything can just be explained away as a coincidence, dismissed as supposition. In fact, that search for evidence is precisely what the serial killers want.
What’s worse than a serial-killing couple? A team of serial killers.
It makes perfect sense, really. What are Castle and Beckett without Ryan and Espo? So, they aren’t acting alone. While they are sitting comfortably in the middle of an NYPD office surrounded by officers, creating the perfect alibi, their schemes are still running without them. Latest scheme: lure Beckett into a trap and take her. Episode ends with, “To be continued.”
Either the woman Beckett went to help, Amy Grant, is already dead, or she’s not a damsel in distress at all. Or both, knowing Tyson.
The future Scarecrow’s origin story is told. His father was obsessed with fear and overcoming it. The first batch of fear-juice was derived from the adrenal glands harvested from the senior Crane’s victims, and used it to try and “inoculate” himself against fear, like a vaccine. So he kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and butchered his fellow humans all because of a mistaken conceit: that fear is an evolutionary weakness.
True, being crippled by panic is not a good thing, but the only meaningful way to overcome it is through such things courage, love, faith, and self-discipline. Mr. Crane lived “without fear” for about ten seconds before he stood there, out in the open, shooting at Gordon and Bullock, without even the common, self-preserving sense to take cover. Thus, he dies, shot to death, because he tried to live without fear.
To be aware of one’s weaknesses, and value one’s continued existence, is not a bad thing. It keeps us alert and wise and helps us to fight for our very lives, and it proves how noble the man is who overcomes it and lays down his own life to protect others. It is only when we let that fear rule us, when we lose ourselves to it, that we are weaker for it. Crane was so driven to overcome his nightmares, or, rather, to artificially make himself immune to them. He ran away from his fears, even from fear itself. Really, out of everyone, he was the one who was most afraid. And he was afraid of… being afraid.
Thus: Mr. Crane terrorized and murdered people, and died, because he was weak. And he has now forced that weakness onto his son, who screams as he is trapped in unending nightmares.
In other news, Bruce goes on a miniature pilgrimage, taking a hike traditionally taken with his father. He leaves Alfred behind and pays a price for that when he tumbles down a slope and injures his ankle. He shows some fortitude, putting together a makeshift splint and then climbing up the slope he just fell down. By the time he gets there, he finds Alfred waiting for him, sitting next to a fire. It’s a lesson for Bruce, that he can, and should, rely on Alfred.
Crap hits the fan!
Sousa confirms Carter has been meddling, and believes she has double-crossed the SSR, so he reveals what he’s found to Duley, who immediately sends his agents to arrest her. It doesn’t go so well for either party, and Carter is on the run from her friends, including a large number of agents led by Sousa and Thompson.
It’s all the more bitter because Duley just barely gave Carter the go ahead to pursue a genius lead. Carter has figured out how things fit together: a Leviathan black widow agent seduced Stark to gain access to his vault! So simple! But, then again, Stark has a loooooong list of women he has indulged in. And she drags Jarvis with her as she goes and visits every one of these women they can find. Hilarity ensues. She finds where this particular black widow (Dottie, I’m guessing) was living, but far too late, as she’s moved (next door to Carter herself). The small victory is cut short, however, when agents come to arrest her, finding her with Jarvis to boot.
Carter wipes the floor with them, which is very gratifying to see, but I fear she’s still nowhere in Dottie’s league when it comes to physical combat.
Speaking of Dottie, she is very busy in this episode. She infiltrates a dentist’s office, slowly killing the lecherous practitioner, then setting her rifle’s sites on Duley’s office. And the expected curveball: the Russian psychiatrist is a Leviathan agent. What I did not expect was for him to be Dottie’s superior officer, apparently. How much time did he spend in that cell in Russia to establish his cover? However much, it’s paying off, as he is now at the very heart of the SSR, alone with Duley for an extended period of time, and he’s a skilled hypnotist. Duley is spared only by Sousa’s timely arrival with news of Carter’s apparent duplicity. (so much for blaming it all on Dottie, but that was a faint hope anway)
The Russian in question just hypnotizes and interrogates a lower level agent instead, then convinces him to go commit suicide. After covertly using Morse Code to order Dottie to kill Carter, a dangerous woman who is unraveling Leviathan’s schemes to stealing Stark’s tech and frame him. Dottie is not quite successful, but kisses Carter, wearing that formula that Carter used a few episodes back, on that club owner, to render her unconscious. She stands poised with a knife, but, in the most serendipitous arrest of all time, the SSR comes upon them at precisely the right moment.
Irony: the SSR is hunting a supposed traitor in their ranks, right when they’ve brought the real wool-clad wolf straight into the center of their headquarters. Dottie is somewhere on the outside, with the psychiatrist on the inside, possessing full knowledge that he needs to hypnotize Duley to get what he wants, and of all times for Carter’s coworkers to not treat her as lesser than a man, it’s when they aren’t going to go easy on her in interrogation.
Oh, shout out for Angie (and her actress) for that acting! Oh, and for being a loyal, helpful friend. That too. 😉
Well, I’m not so impressed with Linda Park right now. I mean, showing up for a second date and going straight for the sex? Then she feels jilted when Barry goes off to take care of Flash business, twice in a row. Not ten times. Only twice. And then, when she senses how things were between Barry and Iris, she doesn’t talk to him, she just ends it. Just like that. And calls it “giving him an out,” like she’s the one acting noble here. And then she gives in and goes on another date with him because he eats the world’s hottest pepper, hurting himself.
There’s something about all that which I just don’t like.
Clearly, the people behind the show are trying to establish her character, or, rather, her relationship with Barry, quickly and deeply, but they’re rushing it, and she’s striking me as shallow.
Oh, and with the possibility of… certain physical activities carrying unknown hazards for the Flash’s girlfriend (meaning, the sex could actually get dangerous for her), Barry loses points for pursuing a woman who might well be at risk when they’re intimate. Also, that promise to let nothing interrupt their time together sort of leaves me wondering what the people whose lives he’d be saving would think if they knew their would-be savior was too late just because he was with his girlfriend.
Yeah, he’s kind of lost a few points in my book.
On the upside: we have a heart-rending tale of two men trapped in the same body, and the women they love are trying to save them, but the body these men share is about to blow up like a nuke!
Ok, “upside” might sound a little wrong, but it’s much more gripping than the soap opera of Barry Allen, Linda Park, and Iris West. While Caitlin’s heart is breaking all over again, Wells is prepared to do whatever he must to prevent the impending catastrophe. He’s even holding a gun to do the job, but then rethinks. Whether he has some actual decency somewhere in him or just doesn’t want to risk the nuclear explosion happening anyway, he takes a hit to his plans and uses a bit of the tachyon prototype to save Firestorm’s life instead. It’s a “to be continued” though, and ends with a certain general we are familiar with ordering Firestorm’s capture.
Finally, Joe and Cisko are investigating the murder of Barry’s mother. They confirm that there were two speedsters, and even find dried blood to run DNA off of. Joe reveals his suspicions about Wells, but he is surprised to find that the DNA does not belong to Wells. It’s Barry’s. Even more, it’s from the adult version of Barry, indicating time travel.
Ya know, this week’s episode just might be King of the One-Liners. I won’t list them here, but a number of them come from Thea.
In fact, Thea rocked most of this episode. Olly is convinced to bring her into the fold, revealing his role as the Arrow, and she takes it incredibly well. She’s not had a good track record for quickly forgiving those who have lied to her, but in Olly’s case, revealing the truth puts a number of things into place for her. In her eyes, the Arrow is someone who saves lives, so, far from being embittered about his lies, she understands, and is grateful to finally know the truth.
Merlyn does not fair so well in Thea’s eyes, as she realizes he, too, has been lying and manipulating her. She has no idea how right she is, not yet knowing he used her hands to kill Sara, but with what she does know, she is very angry, and rightfully so. She goes a little too far, though, as both she and Roy believe they don’t need Merlyn’s help in their fight against the League. They get a bit stubborn about it, even defiant, until they get a rude awakening. Chase the DJ makes his move, trying to poison Thea, but she smells the cyanide in the wine before drinking it (which she learned from Merlyn) and a fight ensues, in which Chase easily bests Thea, then Roy, and is only stopped by Merlyn.
(creepy side-note, wouldn’t that mean Roy and Merlyn were waiting in their respective hidey-holes while Thea and Chase were… busy?)
So, Roy and Thea have to eat their words. Yes, they are strong, but they’re not at the level of Olly, Merlyn, and the League.
And kudos to Olly, I say, for taking the risk of telling Thea the truth. He said he will do whatever it takes to protect Thea, and he’s held to that. He’s fought Ra’s, come back from the dead, returned to his city even before his recovery was finished, formed a team with Merlyn even at risk of alienating those closest to him, and he did something he was actually afraid of: telling Thea the truth. Digs was sure Olly would lose Thea forever after that, but so far, so good!
Kudos again, as Olly is humbled a bit after his return. He is right, at least to a degree, about most everything, but since he died, Team Arrow is no longer his alone to run, his friends having grown stronger together as they endured his demise. He comes to accept that, and other things he’s proven wrong about.
In particular, he was right about Laurel, to a point, where she wasn’t ready to be the Canary, not strong enough, and stuck trying to deal with Sara’s death alone. But when the new Vertigo drugs her, she comes face to face with her demons, and with some support from Felicity, she moves past them. She stops trying to be Sara, and is just Laurel again. She even tells her father the truth at last, and they are able to grieve together. So, with her real strength proven, Olly accepts her as the new Black Canary.
With so much good stuff happening, you know it’s just about time for crap to hit the fan again. Merlyn sends Olly and Thea to train on the island (the contrast between the two siblings is cute and hilarious), to face their fears and be freed from them, eliminating one of Ra’s advantages in combat. So, Olly has returned to his origins, and the island where he’s keeping Deathstroke, the man who murdered his mother in front of him and his sister. Yeah, that’s not foreboding at all.
Meanwhile, in the flashbacks, Olly is brought home to Starling City. He and Maseo’s family part ways, but Olly doesn’t get far before Waller’s Argus agents catch him. Maseo returns, unable to abandon Olly after he just saved Tatsu. Waller is still pursuing White China, who has come to Starling City, and she pursues with her two uniquely-qualified (and disposable) pawns tow.
I suspect we’ll soon see the scene where Olly finally learns the secrets and purpose of his father’s notebook, and truly receives the his father’s posthumous charge to save the city.
Nashville is not a chickflick.
Chickflicks are all and exclusively about the so-called “romance” of people, their “love stories,” be they triumphs or tragedies in the end (and often scarring to my brain because they are so horrible). In this episode, we had just about zero of the love stories, and plenty of character development and gripping drama. Thank you, Nashville! You justify the hour I spend watching you every week!
To start with, Gunnar once again makes me go, “Good man, good man!” Since leaving to live with his grandparents, Micah has been misbehaving, acting out, being rude and getting into fights at school (so much for his grandmother’s “he is well-adjusted because we raised him,” LOL), and he won’t talk to Gunnar on the phone. So Gunnar comes to him. (Good man!) He figures out that Micah sees his mother as bad for abandoning him, and he’s been told by his grandparents that his father went to prison, so “he was bad.” As Micah sees it, this means he is bad too, with no good in him. Gunnar responds by taking him on a little field trip to an alley outside a club, where the brothers used to spend time together, listening to the bands inside, learning to play the guitar. Micah isn’t perfect afterward, but he’s behaving a little better.
Gunnar even gives Micah a phone so they can talk whenever Micah needs/wants. And Micah’s grandparents give him something they found, which belonged to Micah’s mom: some keepsakes to remember Gunnar and his brother Jason.
Juliette is going stir-crazy in the house, waiting for her baby to pop out (much to her manager’s amusement as she tries to stand up on her own), so she tries to go into the studio and finish her album. She does tend to fixate on things, but Avery manages to reassure her that everything will still be there waiting for her once the baby’s come. He makes her smile when he threatens to take away her caramels, but relents, and she was so cute with that “I love you!” I burst out laughing! Gotta hand it to Avery, he knows how to support his bride! 😀
We get a direct contrast between Rayna and Jeff at their respective studios. Jeff storms in, shouting and blaming and angry and clawing in desperation, while Rayna is calm and respectful. Jeff gets his secretary’s name wrong, while Rayna gets her’s right. Jeff is looking for a hail-mary hit to save his career, while Rayna is looking to recover and move on from recent events. Jeff is scheming and manipulative, while Rayna, whatever her faults, is trying to improve her career by improving herself.
Rayna tries returning to her roots at the Blue Bird, but wasn’t quite ready for it. So she spends the night with her daughter Maddie, writing a song together. Maddie calmly and respectfully mentions that she believes she is ready to do music professionally, partially because she has a better support system than Rayna did when she first started out, and it’s a valid point. Together, Rayna and her daughters perform at the Blue Bird together, lending each other the strength they need.
In a similar, but ill-fated, sort of way, there’s also Deacon’s family. Scarlett did indeed call her mother, who shows up expecting a reconciliation, but when Beverly learns she was called because of a crisis, she shows, again, how spiteful and selfish she is. Seriously, that woman is a piece of work. One moment, happy at reconciliation. Next, angry that she actually needs to give something, to make some kind of actual sacrifice, and not caring one bit that it’s to save her brother’s life! Then, back to making peace and getting tested to see if she can help, even singing with her brother and daughter together. And then, right back to lying to and abandoning her own flesh and blood! Who cares that Deacon’s in this trouble because of mistakes he made over a decade ago? By doing nothing, she practically condemns Deacon to die, Scarlett to lose her uncle, and Maddie to lose her father. And she actually tries to justify this? Hah!
(compliments to Dana Wheeler-Nicholson for her acting!)
As for Sadie, she is worrying me. In addition to purchasing a gun – which I fear she doesn’t have the nerves to handle properly – under a false name, she’s not telling anyone about her ex hitting her straight in the face. As she had legal paperwork going, I was hoping she was reaching out, but instead, she’s going it alone. She has friends around her, and the authorities, but she’s trying to handle it all by herself. That is really not good. Besides the tragedy of not letting others support and protect her in her hour of need, it’s also a recipe for disaster. Fatal disaster.
Finally, Teddy’s mistakes come catching up to him. He stops by to visit Maddie and Daphne as they’re recording music at school, only to find Jeff there, coaching them, and manipulating Maddie. The two men argue, with Jeff arguing the Maddie is good enough to go solo, and he is intent on taking advantage of that. Before, his maneuvers with Teddy and Maddie were just his personal vendetta against Rayna. Now, however, with his career on the line, Jeff is nothing short of desperate, so when Teddy refuses Jeff’s arguments, he resorts to that ace in the hole he created months ago: blackmail. Either Teddy sells out Maddie to Edgehill, or his involvement with a prostitute will be brought to light.
To be continued…
Come on, Teddy! Come on! Do right by your daughter and just take your lumps! Come on!
I’m beginning to suspect that Greer and Castelroy suffer from a curse, where the more they try to do right and help people, the more it blows up in their faces. They donated money to help build a school, and instead it was used to fund the attack on the castle. Despite being victims, Castleroy had to flee, their assets were seized, Greer was arrested and came far too near decapitation, and now she’s been stripped of everything she had and is living in a stinking tavern.
Kenna and Lola come to visit and help, giving her some money and helping her find a place as a foreign noblewoman’s lady. That, however, goes bad when the whore next door comes storming in, having had her hair stolen from her by a client Greer sent to her, just trying to help the woman because her clients have all left, after it was rumored she’d serviced a leper. Greer loses her chance at a decent position, and finds herself having accidentally stumbled into the position of madame instead. She’s despondent, and only now is she having her first real meal since her fall from power. Once again, she just tried to help and it backfired.
Back in higher circles, Catherine and Narcisse reveal their discovery of the poisoned Bible, and both Narcisse and Bash pursue different angles of investigation. Bash finds an unnerving connection to Conde, but he turns out to be innocent. Yet, even when he is angry at being manipulated by Mary and accused by Bash and Francis, Conde is their friend. He uses his anger to accuse Bash of stabbing Conde and Antoine’s brother in the back, forcing the truth to come out, that Bash didn’t know who he was attacking on King Henry’s order. This also restricts Antoine’s vengeful scheming, as he can’t attack Bash directly now, lest suspicion come straight back to him. Yet, while Antoine puts on airs of forgiveness, he is set on seducing Kenna, who is feeling lonely and neglected by her busy husband, and ruining Bash’s marriage.
Unfortunately, the truly guilty party in the incident of the poisoned Bible, namely Antoine, escapes justice. He finds an unlikely ally in Narcisse, who arranges things so evidence points instead to Mary’s uncle, the mercenary Duke of Guise. The others fail to ask why the Duke would do this and how he was connected to the actual murderer, and Catherine’s wrath is so swift and decisive that the man dies without ever knowing why, with no chance to clear his name.
It’s one of those things that make me grateful to live in a time and place where I can at least have some mild hope of a fair trial, but I digress.
Narcisse manages to displace a rival/obstacle for Catherine’s favor, quietly seize the Duke’s lands, and pocket a fat purse of gold from Antoine, all in a single move. Narcisse may be a snake under Francis’ boot, but such can still wriggle and bite, and he clearly has malicious intentions for Francis, Mary, and the rest.
Finally, as Francis and Mary drift apart, despite loving each other, they also drift towards others. Francis and Lola are renewing an innocent-enough friendship, but Mary and Conde have very strong feelings for each other. Mary’s words are most foreboding, “You will be the death of me, and I, of you.”
WHOO! JU-LI-ETTE! JU-LI-ETTE! JU-LI-ETTE!
That was awesome! (yes, I’m using the word a bit too much lately, must work on that, but that was seriously awesome!) I was hoping for Adalind to find out what she did to Juliette the hard way, but I didn’t think it would be quite so soon! And YES! She totally kicked Adalind’s butt and sent her packing! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better turning of the tables ever! Adalind was all confident and superior like, “I got nothing to worry about here,” and by the time Juliette was done throwing her around the house, she was absolutely traumatized! Oh, I want to see that again!
Of course, it’s to be expected. Juliette is a fighter, while Adalind is famed for her fragility. On a level field, going fisticuffs with another hexenbiest, Adalind is robbed of her advantages and Juliette dominates.
Have I mentioned how awesome that was? 😀
Viktor is likely to handle the news with his usual refined decorum. Nick, on the other hand, is right in the middle of things. Juliette reveals the truth, and it’s obviously very difficult for her. She’s practically on the point of tears, and the episode ends with Nick’s surprise and shock.
They really like their cliffhangers.
Meanwhile, our freak of the week is a wesen who can light himself on fire and live to tell the tale. He’s stone-cold inside, though, and thinks nothing of the people he kills. Not a pair of kids caught in the blaze he sets, nor his handler (who brought his demise on himself when he told the man to kill everyone who can identify him). It’s all about him and his business. He’s an arsonist for hire, and while he’s effective, he’s too sloppy to avoid the mess of corpses.
This escan-whatever does provide a good vehicle for some character development, though. Nick and Hank have to bring in an expert, who chased this arsonist for awhile, and who happens to be one of the first wesen culprits Nick ever brought to justice as a Grimm, arresting him for the murder of Munroe’s brother, Hap. Munroe reacts badly, understandably, but Rosalee gives him a talking to. It’s a good, strong relationship when your spouse is being an ass and you can call them on it. Rosalee helps him see that it’s not about the feud, it’s about two dead kids. Munroe has to cool off for a bit, but he is humbled and helps out. The two adversaries even come to unspoken terms, of sorts, in the end.
It’s a very good step towards peace, ending a long-running feud, and that sort of thing does, ultimately, come down to the decisions of the individuals. At some point, the whole an-eye-for-an-eye thing must stop. The worst thing is, it can’t just happen any time. Both sides have to be willing to stop attacking, stop taking vengeance. They have to choose – and it’s not an easy choice – to stop the cycle. They don’t need to forgive, even, though that helps immensely. They do, however, need to agree to stop.
There’s something to admire in both sides when they do this.
It’s rather appropriate that Munroe and his nemesis have to come to terms with their feuding, inherited from their ancestors, while the burning-man was hired by a young man who did not want to inherit what his fathers built up and maintained for him. He lets it get the better of him and lashes out, burning it to the ground, instead of just being honest with his father. Because of his weakness, his selfish cowardice, two innocent people died, and two more guilty ones were brought down by their own evil.
In other, sundry bits: Renard’s man he had searching for Kelly Burkhardt also belongs to Viktor, Wu keeps his calm, dry humor and is invaluable in helping Nick and Hank come up with plausible excuses for weird stuff, and Nick adds a squirt gun to the arsenal inherited from his ancestors. He’ll definitely need to write that one down.