Like…MAJOR Spoiler Alert!
Moment of grumbling:
Grimm did not broadcast last week. The Flash and Reign did not broadcast this week. Castle, Gotham, and Arrow are skipping the next few weeks. And so are several others.
What’s happening? Did I miss something important that explains why so many shows I like are being interrupted?
It’s not a major problem, but I grumble anyway, because interruptions annoy me.
Fortunately, Once Upon a Time and Agents of Shield are returning this upcoming week! So, Nashville won’t be alone on this little blog of mine! Yay!
Ok, moment of grumbling is over!
And did I mention Spoiler Alert!
You have been warned! 😉
Talk about good timing! Castle just barely gets back into the NYPD, where he can finally work alongside his wife again, and we all know he’d have been nothing short of devastated (in his comedic way) to miss this case! A murder on Mars? Well, okay, in a simulation of Mars, complete with space suits? As Castle says, “Best case ever!”
While I personally side more with Ryan, preferring to stay on Earth myself, I have to admit: going to Mars would be cool in a way. And how great are Castle and Beckett, both of them having signed up on these programs to actually go there? They didn’t even know they were in sync because they were apparently fighting at the time, so they were doing the same thing even when they were at odds. Hah! Perfect couple!
This week’s niche, obviously, is that of astronauts and space exploration and such. Including paying homages to Alien and 2001, complete with the computer being the killer, and trying to kill our protagonists, even its creator, in order to protect that secret. Because all threats to the mission must be neutralized. Note to self: computers with the power to kill you are a very bad idea.
And the real kicker is that the genius, driven visionary behind the simulation and the effort to put humans on Mars, is betrayed not only by his computer, but by every member of the crew. The victim was a disruptive influence, the patsy was guilty of espionage, and the remaining three all colluded to convince the computer to kill the victim. While I’m sure a character like this would never be stopped by something so trivial as mass-betrayal and failure, it’s still very tragic.
Personally, I’d say developing the technology to go to Mars is one thing. Developing the tech to stay there is another matter altogether, and that is the biggest hurdle to our expansion out into the stars. We have no means of safely sustaining massive populations. Here, small accidents may snowball, but they can be contained and endured. Out there? One tiny accident or act of malice could annihilate the entire population. As such, all we’d have is tiiiiiny crews who could easily go mad and kill each other.
Also in this episode, we have a balancing act of lives within Castle’s home, as he and Beckett, Martha and her new boyfriend, and Alexis and her friends are all taking up a great deal of space and make noise. In short, they’re feeling a bit crowded. But Martha makes an announcement at the end of the episode: she’s going to find her own place! She doesn’t want to crowd Castle and Beckett and any future Castle children they may soon make, and she’s doing pretty well these days anyway, so stepping out to live on her own is a logical next step.
Castle, who has born with good spirit the walking chaos which is his mother, is both happy and proud to see her go, and yet he loves her. All communicated in simple saying, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Perfectly delivered! Kudos to Nathan Fillion!
Immediately after she steps out the door and leaves the married couple alone… they feel it’s far too quiet. They go out, to find someplace with noise!
And that’s the thing about life on Earth. It’s noisy, messy, crowded… but it’s also life. Going to Mars? Fine idea, but I’ll pass until I can actually have an entire sustainable community with me. I’m not a people person, and I hate crowds, but being all alone… in endless quiet… that’s not the life of a human being. We are social creatures! We need space to move and breathe and dance and sing and breed and argue and scream and cry and all the things involved in life!
We got some rather unique villains this week, starting with this universe’s first incarnation of the Red Hood. He was just another member of a gang of bank robbers, but where others, including their leader, were just wearing scarves and bandannas over their faces, he stood out, made himself an entire hood out of red fabric. He felt bolder with it, even took over giving instructions to the people in the bank. You gotta admit, he had style, he had pizazz! It was even his quick thinking, throwing money in the streets to create a flash mob, that let his gang get away clean! But he let it go straight to his head, even thinking he was somehow bulletproof and should be the leader of the gang… so the leader shot him and took the hood for himself.
The “pizazz” factor proved not so easy for the dumb brute to pull off. He pretty much stumbled his way through their second robbery, and didn’t live to the third robbery, because one of his not-mentally-stellar henchmen wanted the hood, so he could impress his girlfriend. Of course, by then, the cops had managed to get ahead of them, and the three remaining gang members were all shot dead resisting arrest.
The actions of the first Red Hood make them instantly legendary, sometimes preferred over the cops. Which makes sense as to how Batman, many years later, would face off against the Red Hood himself. As Gordon says, “As long as someone is willing to to put that red hood on, this gang can go on forever.” The Red Hood and his gang are all dead, half of them murdered by their own gang, but the legend lives on.
Bullock has it right too, “When crooks become more popular than cops, that’s anarchy.”
Another villain for this episode is a false friend, one of Alfred’s old comrades from his military days. (small wonder he holds his own so well in a fight) Reggie, as Alfred calls him, comes to Wayne Manor, looking like some homeless bum in need of help. Alfred and Bruce welcome him in, give him shelter, food, drink, talk. He even gives Bruce a quick lesson in fighting, but there’s just something wrong with a guy who tries to tell Alfred that he’s still a killer, even after Alfred tells him that he is the better for knowing Bruce. (and, we can infer, Bruce’s parents) He makes to steal from the Wayne household, but that’s just a ruse, and one Reggie enforces even by stabbing Alfred in the gut and putting him in the hospital.
It turns out, Reggie is just a pawn for the corrupt faction of executives at Wayne Enterprises, investigating what Bruce has on their activities. He reports that Bruce has nothing concrete, and now that his primary protector is down for the count, now is the time to make a move on him, to remove the threat he poses.
And he even has the gall to add, at the end, “He’s just a kid.” To try and soothe his own conscience.
Filthy, money-grubbing, blood-stained traitor.
Meanwhile, Fish Mooney meets the doctor in charge of the facility she is being kept in. He’s not the real man in charge, the man who owns the place, but he’s definitely a step in the right direction. She just has to work her way around or through him, to the man in charge, as part of her plan. He tries to intimidate and coerce her, but also offers to bribe her. When he thinks to either take her eyes, and throw her back into the basement, or to take her life and that of everyone else in the basement, and making her choose between those two rather undesirable options, well… she creates a third option. It’s the option where, yes, she loses something, but she will never allow him to take it.
She gouges out her own left eye and crushes it underfoot.
That was a mixture of freaky, terrifying, and absolutely awesome!
Back with the villains we know, Penguin is having more trouble running his club. Now they’re out of booze, and Maroni’s the man who runs that particular market. So, zero chance of being able to buy it. Penguin makes to steal it instead, and nearly does so at gunpoint with his men, but Butch shows him a cleaner way of doing things: use the police in their pocket to confiscate it. Easy.
I think that might be the cleverest thing we’ve seen Butch do, and it certainly gets him into Penguin’s good graces. As he reminisces on how he and Fish built up the club after taking from the crook before them, he comments how his blood and sweat and soul went into it. He’s attached to it. Also, he’s tired of being a sidekick. Which, while establishing a certain alliance with Penguin, bodes not well for Fish when she returns. Butch sacrificed himself to save her life when last they parted. When they meet again, he may well be her enemy.
And if you’d told me, right after the first episode of Gotham, that things were going to get this complex and intense, I’d have looked at you funny.
Final note: Barbara, Selina, and Ivy are sort of bonding over clothes. Barbara is thinking of teaching Selina what she knows, and she does say something that obviously influences Catwoman later, “You’re a true beauty, something you can use to your advantage. Your appearance can be a weapon, as powerful as any knife or gun.” Though, at first, Selina is skeptical, because, as she replies, “Yeah? What good’s it done you?”
Selina knows how to bring the burn, doesn’t she?
Valediction. Which means “an act of bidding farewell or taking leave.” Not only is it a perfect title for the final episode of this first season, hopefully with more to come, but it’s something the characters must do in order to save the day.
In order to save over a hundred thousand lives, Peggy and Howard have to bid farewell and let go of Steve Rogers, Captain America.
Ivchenko, whose real name turns out to be Johann Fennhoff, is doing the exact opposite of this. He saw what happened in Finow when Stark’s “midnight oil” was unleashed on them by General McGinnis “to help them.” In that conflict, Fennhoff lost his comrades, even his brother. That sort of horror is not easy to forget, but, even in the best-case scenario, Fennhoff is blaming the wrong man. Sure, Stark created it, trying to create a stimulant to help their soldiers fight fatigue for a little while, but it went horribly wrong. And then it was stolen and used without Stark’s knowledge or consent.
So, Fennhoff is simply repeating history: stealing Stark’s inventions, putting them in unfriendly hands, and murdering people who do not deserve such a fate. He is becoming on purpose what Stark became by accident.
Leviathan may be a formidable foe, but Fennhoff, at least, seems to be acting somewhat independently of the organization. It’s just him and Dottie, whose name is apparently Nadia, and he is out on a personal vendetta. He blows their chance for escape, and for Leviathan to get their hands fully on the midnight oil, all to turn back and give Stark a fate worse than death: he hypnotizes Stark into flying one of his planes over the city as it celebrates V-E Day, framing him for the murder of at least one hundred thousand American civilians.
It’s telling that the illusion Fennhoff uses is directed towards Stark’s “greatest shame” instead of his usual “greatest desires,” and that Stark’s single greatest regret is losing and never finding Steve Rogers. He has so much blood indirectly on his hands, because of his inventions, and he desperately wants to make that right somehow, but his single greatest regret is simply failing his friends. So he gets in a plane to “find Cap.”
Once again, after all the fighting and the death, Peggy is left at a radio, trying to save someone she cares about from a horrible fate they are flying to. They even have to bring Stark down over the water before he reaches the city, the same city Steve died defending. In short, Peggy is forced to relive that moment when she lost Steve Rogers, and in that moment, she has to let go of Rogers, so she can convince Howard to do the same and shake him out of the illusion.
The option would have been to let Jarvis shoot Stark out of the air himself. The Englishman has flown planes, but he never shot anyone down. It doesn’t get worse than having to shoot down your friend, who has done so much for you, in order to save his soul and his name and the lives of everyone he would unwittingly kill.
Jarvis rocked, as usual, with both his wits, his will, and his mannerisms. Like when he mentions that the SSR didn’t confiscate all of Stark’s planes. Gotta love him! Particularly when he hands Peggy the blood of Captain America, which Stark had stolen (again) from the SSR. As Jarvis sees it, only Peggy can be trusted with it. And she pours it out, bidding Steve a final good-bye. Kudos to Hayley Atwell for her entire performance as Peggy Carter!
Of course, this all happens after Carter, Thompson, and Sousa deal with Fennhoff and Nadia. Thompson was sloppy, but Sousa saved his life. If Fennhoff’s voice was his weapon, well, Sousa just stuffed his ears full so he couldn’t hear! Gave Thompson the fright of his life, I think, but leave it to the cripple to use his head! Hah!
Carter faced off against Nadia, and it went about like I expected. Peggy got a few good licks in, but against a black widow? Nadia was wiping the floor with her when we got another display of a grand truth: sometimes you just need to score one solid hit! Carter got her in the chest, sending her out a window to land, and bleed, on one of Stark’s planes. It was very close, but Carter won!
Of course, the part where she apparently got up and walked away is a bit foreboding.
At the end of the day, Carter and Angie are set up in one of Stark’s more “quaint” homes, including a great deal of plush and luxury, where they can live for free. Carter and Stark move on. Jarvis parts ways with Carter, though with an assurance that she can call on him for any assistance. Carter may or may not stay at the SSR for now, as she hasn’t decided. She might develop feelings for Sousa, now she’s moved on from Steve, and he’s asked her out for a drink too.
Oh, and Thompson took all the credit for saving the day. He hasn’t changed a bit. (this is me rolling my eyes) But Carter doesn’t need the credit anymore, to which I say, bravo! Good show!
Unfortunately, they put Fennhoff in the same cell as Zola. Likely, the two monsters work together to bring down their enemies. If Fennhoff survived to see Stark’s demise, after helping brainwash Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers’ best friend, into the Winter Soldier… oh, I can’t help but imagine the sickening glee he would feel.
It’s kind of tragic to know that Stark is eventually killed by the Hydra that infests the organization he and Carter found together with their military friends. We already know that Peggy lives to see the undoing of SHIELD’s entire organization, and that has to be a bitter pill to swallow in her final years.
But, as for Agent Carter, I have rather enjoyed every bit of this first season. Here’s hoping the next is just as good! I wonder if they’ll actually show us the founding of SHIELD…
Ok, I have to eat some crow here. I could not see any possible reason for Olly to try and save Merlyn, after everything he’s done, especially to Olly himself and, even more, to Thea. But, trust me to see only one side of things, like everyone else besides Olly.
See, Olly doesn’t care so much about Merlyn. He cares about Thea. When Thea betrays Merlyn to the league, selling out her own father, it’s arguably justified. If anyone has proper reason to hate Merlyn, it’s his daughter. But Olly knows what it means to have your parents die because of something you did. The guilt is terrible, and he will do anything to spare Thea from something that could well destroy her very soul!
Slade was right, when he said he saw Thea being touched by the darkness. Olly sees this too, and he puts his life on the line to save her from it.
Sometimes, logic and tactics be damned, you must fight for what is least tangible and most precious.
It’s a difficult choice, and one which can have a very high price, as Olly experiences when Laurel, hearing Thea’s confession, becomes very angry with Olly for 1) lying to her and 2) fighting to save the man who murdered Sara. It’s a heavy blow that’s been dealt to their friendship now, much like a blow has been dealt to Laurel’s relationship with her father. Laurel even tries to kill Merlyn on her own, which earns her that much more respect from Nyissa when she and her assassins arrive to take Merlyn away.
There was a very touching moment between the two women. They both loved Sara dearly, and Nyissa shares the moment when she first fell in love with Sara. It was when Sara laughed at a fearsome display of power by her father, one which terrified all others who saw it… and Sara just laughed, so pure and innocent.
We also get a glimpse into what Ra’s al’Ghul may have truly been thinking by disapproving of Nyissa’s relationship with Sara. If he really saw that far ahead, that Sara would leave them, then it makes some sense, why he would disapprove of his daughter entering into a relationship he knows will only lead to her heartbreak. Certainly, he is an insightful man, as he has clearly gleaned much of the truth about Olly’s innocence in Sara’s murder. He clearly has a lot of experience behind him, and that sort of thing does give one a sharpened sense with which to view what people do and why.
But back to Nyissa. It’s a very rough time for her, ya know? She finally has Merlyn in her hands, but Olly comes to save Merlyn anyway. She sends Olly to Nanda Parbat to die, only to learn the truth… or at least part of the truth… from Thea. Rather difficult, I think, to imagine a more tense cliffhanger than Thea handing Nyissa a sword as she says, “It was my hand that sent those arrows into Sara. Take your vengeance.”
Of course, they manage to do even better, by giving us two cliffhangers simultaneously, and Olly’s is at least as suspenseful as Thea’s.
Unwilling to stay behind again, Digs accompanies Olly to Nanda Parbat. They mange to penetrate the fortress and find Merlyn, but it’s a trap, and they are thrown into a cell. While they’re in there, Digs asks Olly to be his best man at his upcoming wedding. Olly does not hesitate to say yes. Family is a great thing, ya know?
Then Maseo comes to take Olly before Ra’s al’Ghul.
Kneeling before one of the most dangerous men in the world, who has already “killed” him once, Olly faces his final death with dignity, and only begs for the life of John Diggle.
At which point, Ra’s al’Ghul offers Olly the chance to succeed him. To “become the next Ra’s al’Ghul.”
And that sound, right there, is my jaw hitting the floor. I mean, I can see what Ra’s sees in Olly. He’s strong, so much that Merlyn thought Olly would win the fight with Ra’s, and Ra’s himself knows Olly’s fighting prowess. The fact that he survived what would have killed other men, survived Ra’s himself, is proof of his strength, his worth in Ra’s al’Ghul’s eyes.
I mean, Olly has sworn never to kill again, so that is a substantial reason not to take Ra’s up on his offer. And yes, we can be fairly certain he will refuse… but… then again… it is a most intriguing offer.
And speaking of intriguing things, Felicity and Ray take the next step in their relationship. Ray has gone all “mad scientist” and finally is on the brink of finishing his ATOM suit. But, as he’s wearing himself down, Felicity intervenes, locking him out of his own computer until he eats, showers, and gets some sleep. (have I mentioned how freaking cool Felicity is?) Things rapidly develop after the shower, and I find it poetic that Ray figures out the last piece he needs to make his suit work right afterwards.
So, the knight has his princess, who sees to the cleansing of his flesh and soul, his invigoration, and then he dons his shining armor, and flies off into legend. Which, we will see unfold. 🙂
Back in the flash backs, Olly and the Yamashiros are debriefed by General Shrieve and sent on their way to Japan. They’re just talking about the future, how Olly is welcome to stay with them, and how Olly may send his family’s jet to bring them to Starling City for visits (love Tatsu’s reaction!). But they’re betrayed, as men with guns open fire on them and they barely make it to cover just in time. They suspect Waller. I suspect Shrieve. But whoever it is, Olly once again risks his life to save the Yamashiros. When gunfire separates Maseo and Tatsu from Olly and Akio, Olly is forced to do something very difficult: he takes Akio away from his parents, to save him, leaving Maseo and Tatsu behind.
While highly distressing, I find I have just a spark of hope, at last, concerning Akio’s fate. First, I was afraid that the entire family was killed. Then I feared Tatsu and Akio were killed. Then I feared only for Akio. But if Olly got him away, then like Hell he’d let anything happen to the boy! If, instead, the powers that be created an untenable situation, where Tatsu and Maseo cannot go to see their boy, who is still alive (I hope), that would be another way for Maseo to feel emptied by his loss, to become a Phantom. It would also explain why there seems to be no bad blood between Olly and the Yamashiros, if he saved their son, but they have to pretend to be dead in order to protect Akio. They would still be owing Olly for the life of their son, even if they cannot go and see him at all.
I never thought I’d find myself hoping for something that tragic, but it really beats the alternative!
Well, I think Jeff can speak for everyone when he says it’s a bad idea to piss off Mr. Benton. Benton doesn’t even know all of Jeff’s misdeeds, and he’s so disgusted that he makes sure Jeff can never find work again. Granted, after three straight quarters of loss, cutting Edgehill loose would already be appealing, but Benton certainly doesn’t pull his punches! Jeff’s name is so ruined that he knows no one will hire the man to ran Edgehill straight into the ground.
And the entire episode is dealing with the fallout from that single event.
Well, okay, most of it is dealing with the fallout, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Rayna just appointed Bucky as her new A&R, as he’s been with her all along and knows, better than anyone outside herself, the direction in which she wants to take Highway 65. In the mad feeding frenzy of labels looking to scoop up Edgehill artists, they have a bit of a disagreement about which artists to scoop up for themselves. Bucky looks at the bottom line, and prefers to make money. Rayna has a more artistic vision for her Highway 65. It’s almost adorable when Bucky says, “Can we do that and still make money?” Rayna’s answer is sure and strong, “Yes, Buck, we can make great music and make a lot of money.”
Buck does have some good reason for his trepidations. First of all, Juliette is still out of commission, thank you, Pregnancy. (this is one plot which does not revolve around the Edgehill fallout) She starts off in one of her moods, wanting the paparazzi out of the equation when one of them insults her weight. But she has a photo shoot with Vogue, and that doesn’t really go well, to the point she throws them out. But she tries again, being strong and supported by Avery. (cute moment, when he says, “I’m sorry, it’s kinda hard to hear, are you sayin’ I was right?” and she replies, “Ok, bye, have a great day!” LOL, I love those two!) The final result leaves him breathless, and she fears he doesn’t like it, but he tells her she’s beautiful, and now the world can see her like he does. (Did I mention I love those two?)
Second, Sadie’s barred from the studio and all work on her album stops. Pete, her scumbag ex, did not go to Virginia. He’s still suing Sadie, and the woman has to scrounge up all her courage to tell Rayna what’s going on (yes! more opening up and relying on others! this is a good sign!). Rayna reacts as one might expect, protecting Sadie, supporting her, and confronting the problem head-on. They reach a settlement that even a parasite would have to love, and Rayna tells him in no uncertain terms that if he bothers Sadie again, she will destroy him. Unfortunately, this still leaves the thread of Sadie’s gun unresolved, and that can turn really bad, really, really fast!
Third, the artist Rayna is set on signing is none other than Layla Grant. Ironically, Layla is pushed towards Highway 65 by Jeff Fordham, and he even tells her, when she calls him to say she’s giving up on waiting for Rayna to talk to her, to not give up, and stay there. As Buck sees it, Layla is a negative to add to their small, struggling label, with her reputation so thrashed already that helping her will cost quite a bit. But Rayna is adamant, after talking to Layla, and listening to her music, she will have Layla on her label.
You know, I did always envision Rayna, Juliette, and Layla together at Highway 65. Even when Layla was making such big mistakes, there was something about it I just saw coming. However, I had no idea it would be quite like this! And, of course, there is yet another obstacle in the way.
Jeff has cozied up to Layla. He actually fought for her in this episode, which was surprising, that he’d do that for anyone. When he failed her, he pointed her in the best direction she could go, and kept her from giving up at the last minute. So, he’s actually done a smidgen of good for her, though, frankly, he’s still poisonous and despicable. But she does feel like she owes him, and feels like he believes in her, and she believes in him. As such, she offers to make him her manager.
Yeah, Rayna and Juliette are going to flip when Layla brings Jeff to the table, right after they finally got rid of him. That’s going to be a problem, methinks.
Finally, while Rayna dismisses the idea of bringing on a number of popular artists, the one guy she wants to give a new chance to, Will Lexington, doesn’t even return any of their calls. Instead, he’s made an offer by Luke Wheeler and Jeff Fordham. Jeff has convinced Luke to buy the masters of his music from Edgehill and start his own label, Wheelin’ n’ Dealin’ (interestingly, a choice he makes after an elevator ride with Rayna), and they reach out to Will, who, knowing Luke has done good by him and Jeff has covered for him and his homosexuality, signs on. But Will doesn’t know that he’s the only one in Nashville who will work with Jeff, except for Layla. Luke fires Jeff, taking the idea and running with it on his own.
Yeah, that promises to be another royal mess. The people who make this show are good at that sort of thing, ya know?
So, Bucky has plenty of reason to feel uneasy, but he stays on in good faith with Rayna and her vision.
In other news, Avery gives Deacon a call to help finish Sadie’s album. He answers quickly, partially to get away from a difficult choice he has to make, about whether or not to forfeit his place on the transplant list in favor of joining the trial for an experimental drug that might save him, or might not. Avery and Deacon clash a bit in the studio, until Deacon, by giving advice to Will, is able to make his decision, and, with a clear head, apologize to Avery and work as a professional again. Avery handles this with a great deal of grace.
Meanwhile, Scarlett needs to get her own life going again, so she goes in to work on writing songs. She breaks down, but Gunar, still reeling from Kylie’s betrayal and losing Micah’s ever-presence in his life, is there to comfort and support her. They get together with Avery and make music again! And it’s pretty good music too! And so much fun that the trio thinks to start up their band again. Not sure how that will work out, but there’s a world of difference for Scarlett between when she was up on stage alone, and this, when she’s up on stage with two of her dearest friends in the world supporting her.
There is, I think, a difference between belonging in the spotlight, and belonging alone in the spotlight.
Oh, and she’s seeing about seeing the good doctor. 😉
Finally, Teddy is panicking about the possibility of his dirty secrets coming to light. He tries to get in touch with Jeff, who ignores him, even sending the police to find him under the pretense of making sure he’s all right. Geez, Teddy is lying so easily now, if also badly. When he catches up to Jeff, Jeff lets slip that Rayna spilled the beans to Benton, which is a lie. All she mentioned was that Jeff blackmailed Teddy, she never said what leverage Jeff was using. But Teddy is still panicking, so he tracks down the prostitute, Natasha, entering her home to talk to her, work out their story together so it fits, just in case. And when he’s talking to her, he’s not listening, he’s afraid and rambling.
Also, there are cameras in Natasha’s house, with a crew in a van outside, recording everything.
If Teddy had just kept his nerves, and left everything alone, he might have kept his dirty secrets… secret. Instead, he has just ensured his own demise.
One often meets his fate on the path taken to avoid it.