We had a few shows skip this week. Gotham again, for another couple weeks, I believe. Reign and Nashville seem to be getting the stop-and-go treatment, which sucks for them and for us.
“Poor Unfortunate Soul”
With a title like that, we already knew this one had to be at least partially about Ursula, likely showing us her history with Hook, and it was no surprise when Ariel made a guest appearance.
Ursula’s story is apparently: she was a mermaid. Her mother was killed by a pirate, and her father, Poseidon, was left murderously bitter towards humans. He tried to have her use her singing voice, inherited from her mother, to lure sailors to their doom on the rocks and the reef. She defied him, stealing a bracelet that gave her legs, and went among the humans, singing enchanting songs (another nod to The Little Mermaid). Hook recognized her voice, and offered his ship to ferry her wherever she liked, in thanks for not destroying his ship and crew. Poseidon learned of this and tried to get Hook to steal her voice, imprisoning it in a sea shell (another nod), in exchange for the squid ink which neutralizes magic and paralyzes Rumplestiltskin.
Hook opted to make a deal with Ursula instead, where she steals the ink, enabling his revenge and freeing him from Pan’s domination. He even swore never to steal her voice… but then he did, and only out of spite towards Poseidon when the sea-king destroyed the squid ink. Betrayed, Ursula stole her father’s trident long enough to become an octopus-creature instead of a mermaid, and apparently becoming instantaneously powerful for it. What she did after that, we don’t yet know, but she apparently got up to a lot of mischief.
In the present day, Regina manages to communicate with them how Rumple is back and has turned Pinnochio back into August. Going for the dagger, they figure out how he deceived Belle and got it back, which leaves them at a severe disadvantage. As the rest of the crew tackles rescuing August, Hook look’s to gather information. He reasons that he can make a deal with Ursula, to return her singing voice to her, in exchange for her knowledge of Rumple’s plans. The deal is struck, and she opens a portal to bring the Jolly Roger back to Storybrooke. But, detail, it’s in a bottle. So they go to Will Scarlet, who gives them distilled essence of Wonderland mushrooms, to make it big again. They retrieve the shell, but then returning Ursula’s voice to her doesn’t work. Hook tries to force her to tell him what they need to know, but she casually tosses him into the sea, unconscious.
Ariel seems to have a habit of rescuing drowning pirates, and she does the same for Hook. She’s only in the episode for a few seconds, but she clearly has not forgotten how he wronged her. He bemoans the fate of villains not getting their happy endings, but Ariel simply tells it straight up, “Maybe that’s because they go about it in the wrong way.”
Yes! Thank you, Ariel! She’s only there for a moment, but it’s a profound truth! The game isn’t rigged to classify people as heroes and villains, and then reward or punish them accordingly. It’s much simpler: there are rules, and those who play by the rules get their happy endings in due time.
Hook figures out that they need Poseidon to return Ursula’s voice to her, and now the sea-god is so very remorseful and regretful for his actions, his petty need for revenge. All he wants now is to put things right, and to hear his wife, within their daughter’s voice, one last time. That done, he makes to leave, but Ursula stops him, and goes with him. Family is reunited, reconciled, a happy ending restored.
Just before leaving, Ursula tells Hook Rumple’s plans. To change their fates and get their happy endings, instead of turning around and living decent lives, the villains mean to get the Author to change it all for them. For that, they need to find the Author, but they also need to enable him. He can’t give people their happy endings in this world because he didn’t do it the first time. That was the Savior, Emma. As long as there is a Savior, the Author’s powers are limited. So, Rumple’s plan: to fill Emma’s heart with everlasting darkness, turning her from the path of the hero, so she is no longer a Savior, thus restoring the Author’s powers.
With whatever Snow and Charming did to Maleficent, depriving her of her child, there seems to be a very real chance at turning Emma to the dark side. Thus, Rumple’s efforts are first to find the Author.
From August’s interrogation, involving a threatening knife provided by Ursula, a threatening flame provided by Regina (she is undercover), and Rumple making August’s nose grow, most painfully, when he lies, the villains learn a few things. They learn that the Sorcerer has trapped the Author behind a special door, and it’s somewhere in Storybrooke. While Rumple, Regina, and Maleficent go investigate the Sorcerer’s mansion, the heroes, led by Regina’s message, storm in and drive Cruella off, rescuing August. Cruella gleans that they have a mole in their ranks, but mistakes Ursula for that mole. Regina’s cover is safe for the moment, but now she needs to bring them the page of the book with the picture of the door on it. (hmm, doors seem to the the Sorcerer’s thing…)
Regina asks August for help in maintaining her cover, as her “friends” are expecting her to return with the page. August reveals how he told the truth while sending the villains in the wrong direction. The picture isn’t just an illustration. It’s the door. The Author is trapped in his own book.
So, they have to keep the Dark One from corrupting the Savior, and free the Author from the Book, while keeping Dark One from getting his hands on said Author, while watching out for this enigmatic Sorcerer lurking somewhere in the background.
Oh, and Regina had a strange dream where she was reunited with Robin, but then her Evil Queen self showed up to protect Robin from… what? Regina herself? A disguised Dark One? The Sorcerer? This is all confusing and foreboding.
“At Close Range”
So, this episode focused largely on Ryan. He’s a family man, working hard to provide for his wife and daughter. In addition to his work as a cop, he moonlights at his brother-in-law’s security service. Mostly, they guard celebrities and such, but occasionally there’s someone a bit bigger than that. For instance, Congressman Alex Lopez, who’s looking to network and make a run at the White House sometime, perhaps in the near future. For now, though, while he networks, he’s helping raise funds for a charity that helps African villages access clean drinking water.
Ryan’s job is simple enough. Not only does he watch out for potential threats to Lopez’s life, but also to his reputation. Nuts looking to pull stunts tend to be drawn to wherever the media is looking. Ryan prevents one such incident, earning some good attention from his employers. Lopez himself mentioned that he may need people he can trust in his future endeavors, and a woman, Jocelyn, mentions how Ryan may one day be protecting the first Latino President of the United States.
That’s some heavy stuff right there. All the more tragic, then, when Jocelyn’s murder takes place right in front of Ryan’s eyes. It was on his watch, and, as a man of honor, he can’t just let it go until he brings the perpetrator to justice.
He’s not alone, of course, not by a long shot. As Castle and Beckett spearhead the investigation, they get a little surprise: their names, particularly Beckett’s are known in certain circles. I don’t know what’s really so surprising about that, considering how many dangerous killers they’ve locked up, including one Senator Bracken, whom Beckett arrested on national television. Then again, as honorable people do not overly concern themselves with their reputation, they can sometimes forget their own credentials.
At first, they think it’s this whack job that opposes Lopez, but that’s just a red herring. Following the trail, Ryan even has reason suspect his own brother-in-law, who has made some cash on the side by selling backstage access to concerts and such. Lesson there: not only should you not sell backstage access, but you especially should not do it when you’re protecting a Congressman.
Integrity in all things, always. It does more than just make you a better man. It also prevents weak spots from opening up and destroying you.
When they realize Jocelyn, not Lopez, was the actual target, rather than collateral damage, they investigate her relationships. They briefly suspect Mrs. Lopez, theorizing that she might be jealous about an affair between Jocelyn and Lopez, or perhaps fearing her as a liability for Lopez’s ambitions. But not only was Mrs. Lopez aware and not angry about the affair, as she was having one of her own with a woman, but Jocelyn was invaluable to helping Lopez network with campaign donors who would support him. Jocelyn even had Lopez’s ear on a few things, and an eye for discerning who Lopez could rely on. She theorized Lopez could win the Presidential election, if he had the right team supporting him.
When Jocelyn suggested that Lopez’s chief of staff wasn’t the right one to support his bid for the White House, her opinion carried weight with him. She murdered Jocelyn just to keep her job, her career. That, I’d say, is what Jocelyn sensed about her: the willingness to lie and kill for her own self-interests. She was more right than she knew.
As Beckett has just started contemplating where she is and what more she wants to do with her life, she’s now solved the murder of a woman who was making a difference in the world, bringing clean water to impoverished peoples. At the same time, she’s gotten an up-close reminder of everything wrong in Washington, and it’s lighting a fire inside. The time travel episode indicated that she would become a Senator, but this is the first we see of that possibly coming true, and why it would be so.
As for Ryan, he takes his brother-in-law to face the woman he married, and take responsibility for his misdeeds. He’s so ashamed of himself, as he should be, that he fears his wife will hate him. He can’t even decide whether to knock or just open the door, but she opens it first, and hugs him tight.
Castle is really good at those touching scenes.
“Love in the Time of Hydra”
So, the “real Shield” turns out to be a shadow organization put together from the scraps of the old Shield. Similar to Coulson’s group, but with a decidedly different mandate. They believe the Director should be held accountable for his actions, and should keep no secrets, because Fury kept too many. So, they’re an imitation of the World Security Council, but operating in secret and with a private army at their command.
Already, I can see two major problems with their doctrine.
First, the secrets Fury kept (and, unknown them, is still keeping) have played a major part in saving the world. Coulson, whom they judge so self-righteously after the debacle with the Kree city, did just annihilate Hydra’s leadership, did he not? And before that, Fury managed to stall Pierce’s efforts twice in one movie, both by surviving long enough to pass the torch to Captain America and in surviving again, supposedly dead, to come back and reveal Shield and Hydra to the world at large.
Second, they preach transparency, but… aren’t they operating in secret? Like, super secret, such that Coulson doesn’t even know about them? While they judge him, without letting him defend himself? Not very transparent, are they?
Needless to say, Hunter does not drink their special Cool-Aid.
This puts more than a little strain on his relationship with Morse, but it’s clear she loves him, such that she doesn’t even try and stop his escape attempt, which looks to be successful. However, it’ll apparently be twelve hours before he reaches land (being on a ship in the middle of the ocean) and Morse is ready to go back in and take care of Coulson and Fury’s toolbox within six of those hours.
Prediction: Hunter was not in that submersible. He’s still on the ship, looking for a way to communicate with Coulson, perhaps escape aboard Morse’s own transport.
Disconcerting detail: the “real Shield” seems to view Skye as a threat. Seems for “not making decisions lightly,” this group leans towards shooting super-people first and asking questions later. Probably a good, serendipitous thing, then, that Coulson just moved Skye to a secure, secret location. It’s pretty much a country home, a cabin in the wilds. Very quiet. Skye is there so she can be as stress-free as possible until she gets hold of her powers. Coulson and May intend to visit every few days, but with Morse and Mac about to make their move, that could be easier said than done.
Speaking of, the two of them have now cottoned on to Mac’s lies, and they are about to confront him. Right when “real Shield” is about to make their move. Yep, things are about to get messy. And I doubt the events of the upcoming Age of Ultron (squeeeee! I’m so excited! Just one more month!) will make things any cleaner.
Back on the subject of Skye, Fitz and Simmons are arguing over her. Fitz argues that there’s nothing wrong with Skye, especially with her potential to have Avengers-level strength, but Simmons argues that Bruce Banner would take a cure for being the Hulk any day of the week. Fitz is, again, seeing straight through Simmons when he calls her “afraid.” Out of everyone who has changed, including Fitz and Skye, the most terrifying change is Simmons. She brings up Trip, furthering my theory that this is all thanks to her inability to deal with the trauma of losing him, and it’s driving her in the wrong direction, but her excuses change nothing. She’s changed, and for the worse. She’s giving in to her fears, and that makes her both weaker and more dangerous. Her heart is wounded, and there’s a proverb about not cornering a wounded animal.
Fortunately for Skye, Simmons has crafted another set of gloves, superior to the first, to absorb the vibrations she emits. Simmons is reluctant to hand them over to Coulson, again displaying her fear of “possible repercussions.” Simmons is sounding like a ripe recruit for “real Shield,” but Skye is so far out of her element that Coulson’s solution seems likely to be exactly what she needs.
And, hey, maybe Gordon will make an appearance and help train Skye in secrecy. 🙂
On a completely separate note, we see Grant Ward, alive and well, in company with the physically and psychologically-scarred Agent 33, whose name turns out to be Kara (if I heard that right). She saved his life, nursed him back to health, so now Ward repays the favor. First, they kidnap a special doctor, to fix Kara’s nanomask, the thing that makes her look like anyone she likes. No idea if the doctor survives, but I doubt it. Then, Ward finds out where Bakshi is, and plans out how to get to him, so Kara can have some closure. We haven’t seen his fate yet, but I doubt it’s a good one, particularly as Ward talks about how he murdered his family like it was a civil reconciliation, where they “expressed themselves.”
Then, as Kara is crying and thanking Ward, whom she clearly has the hots for now that he’s become her authority figure, it seems all so touching and sweet. Of course, they are in the midst of brain-washing Bakshi as he brainwashed her, which just makes it disturbing. Yep, we have a pair of psychopaths coupling up, and between their skills and that mask, they are very dangerous. Bakshi may have brought this on himself, but I definitely do not envy him.
Oh, and Kara, with May’s voice, impersonated Skye’s face, to try and give Ward what he wants. I wasn’t sure if he would, but it was still surprising when he refused her.
Poor Talbot gets humiliated as they pull Bakshi out from under his nose, and Talbot’s poor wife is very much shaken by the experience. Yeah, Talbot now has a personal bone to pick with those two, but he’d best have Coulson with him when he finally gets his hands on them.
So, Barry goes back to the beginning of last episode, and changes things. Wells warned him not to, and he has some experience with trying to change the past, but it’s all to no avail. Barry stops the Weather Wizard before his rampage, but Wells predicts that another catastrophe will arise, and it could be far worse.
In the short-term, Wells seems to be wrong, as everyone who was killed or threatened by the Weather Wizard appears to be safe. But, small problem, the Rogues are back. And they already have a line straight to Barry’s team, thanks to how they revealed themselves. Cold kidnaps Cisco, using his own sister, Lisa, to lure him to a secure location. To give Cisco incentive to make new weapons for the deranged trio, they kidnap his brother too.
Said brother, Dante, is a musician, and a talented one, but he’s never done anything with his life. Their parents praise Dante without question and ignore Cisco’s accomplishments and skills. Dante himself is rather rude to Cisco, calling him a dog, but that changes during the abduction ordeal. After Cisco makes Cold, Gold, and Heatwave weapons, Dante realizes they don’t seem to intend to honor the deal of letting them go. So he tells Cisco how he’s always been jealous of him, his skills, how he fought for his dreams, etc. Dante has never fought for anything… but now he does, risking his life to save his brother. It’s not the worst plan I’ve ever heard of, and if he’d been a hair quicker, it might have worked. Instead, Cold tortures him until Cisco reveals the Flash’s identity as Barry.
Talk about a no-win situation for Cisco to be in. He’s so ashamed of revealing Barry’s secret that he intends to leave the team. In a scene that reminds me of Arrow, Barry told Cisco straight up that it was his responsibility for putting Cisco in that position in the first place. He has nothing to be ashamed of. And in a dark mirror image of last episode’s scene where Wells told Cisco he was like a son to him, then killed him, and in the same room as he killed Cisco, Wells instead, this time around, supports Cisco. He tells him how they all love him, and how Cisco has shown him much of what it’s like to have a son. Which is freaking twisted, knowing how easily Wells would just kill him.
Cold’s knowledge of his secret identity puts Barry in a position where he either has to kill his enemy, which he will not do, or make a deal with him. He can’t just lock Cold up either, as Cold has a program waiting to reveal Barry’s identity to the world. So, even then, killing is not an option. But speaking of that, Barry lays down a demand of his own. If Cold wants Barry to stay out of his way, then Cold must not kill anyone. He even makes it worth Cold’s while with one sentence, “If you’re as good as you think, then you don’t need to kill.”
Ahhhhh! Clever! He uses Cold’s own, substantial ego to bring him in line!
The terms of their treaty are set, laying down their detente. If Cold steps outside their rules again, it will mean war, because Barry will stop caring about protecting his identity in exchange for ending the slaughter of innocents.
On a more personal level, Barry takes the confession Iris shared with him last episode, and applies it to now, when she has not confessed her true feelings for him. He and Linda break up, amicably, but his efforts to be with Iris just push her away and enrage Eddie, who punches him dead in the face. Lucky for Barry, he has Caitlin in his corner, and she creates a fictitious neurological disorder called “lightning psychosis,” to explain his more erratic behavior, and his friends are forgiving and supportive.
Aaaaaand he’s back to square one. And lucky not be set back even further.
But there is one thing Barry realizes. When the Iris’ friend/mentor, the reporter investigating Wells, disappears, meaning “Wells murders him and destroys the evidence,” Barry finally starts putting things together. It’s one coincidental death/disappearance too many for Barry to discount. The episode concludes with Barry confiding in Joe that he believes Joe was right about Wells. About all of it.
Yay! Digs and Lyla are married! Again! This time permanently! Olly stands as best man, and Ray Palmer officiates when the regular priest can’t make it at the last minute. Celebrations ensue! …until they learn that the city believes Olly, as the Arrow, has returned to killing people. All at once, the city is turning against him.
You know, it’s easy to give a prophecy with full confidence of its fulfillment when you are working to make it so, such as Ra’s is doing.
Digs is ready to help Olly hunt after his impersonator(s), but Olly sends him and Lyla off on their honeymoon. Which gets absconded by Waller and the Suicide Squad, including both Deadshot and Cupid. They have a Senator to rescue from Kasnia, but as it turns out, the Senator has staged his own hostage crisis to pad his resume for a Presidential run. It nearly results in everyone dying, but, of all people, Deadshot saves the day. He saves Cupid’s life (creepy and hilarious when her affections instantly turn towards him instead of the Arrow), rallies Digs and Lyla when they’re on the verge of giving up, and gets everyone out, even at the cost of laying down his own life. Why?
Deadshot was once a good, loyal soldier. He came home to his wife and little girl, and they were happy, for a few precious moments. But he came back damaged, a gun-toting drunk, and his wife felt so scared for herself and her daughter that she called the police and got a restraining order. That’s when HIVE came along with an offer of freedom and money in exchange for killing Digs’ brother. Deadshot hasn’t looked back… or has he? He does, after all, carry around a picture of the family he failed, the family he loves.
So he leads the Suicide Squad to victory, though he dies for it, so Digs and Lyla can get home, to their daughter, the way he never could.
He dies looking at that picture of his wife and daughter.
Meanwhile, Ray dons his ATOM suit to hunt down the Arrow, convinced of his guilt. When he learns Olly is the Arrow, he doesn’t listen to either Felicity or Olly’s insistence of the Arrow’s innocence. As romantic rivals, it’s poetic for a knight and an outlaw to be fighting over a princess, and one who wields the magic of technology. It’s a fair confrontation between the two, first as Olly and Ray, then as the Arrow and the Atom. At first, Olly seems outgunned, but there’s a difference between being a warrior and just having fancy toys. One knife to the right circuit, and the entire suit shuts down. Bit of a weak spot Ray will have to address later.
I love how, at that moment, Ray is convinced of Olly’s innocence by the simple fact that Olly has Ray completely at his mercy, yet does not harm him. He even helps Ray stand up again, and tells him, “She chose you. Trust her.”
So Ray eats crow and admits he was wrong. He reconciles with Felicity, whom he wants as his full partner in everything. They go to the mayor, too, to try and clear the Arrow’s name. While Laurel and Captain Lance are yelling at each other, and the mayor is trying to get them to shut up, arrows start flying in. Maseo and the League up their campaign against Olly by killing the mayor. And the episode ends with an arrow aimed at Felicity.
…really good cliffhanger!
But if they kill Felicity in the same season as they killed Sara, I will be very upset!
A lot of this episode, with Digs and Lyla, Deadshot’s backstory, and Arrow’s assessment of Ray’s hopes with his ATOM suit, make a bleak argument that one cannot both fight the fight and have the happy, peaceful life with kids. Deadshot fell from grace, Lyla resigned from Argus in disgust for how they’re blaming Deadshot, ruining his posthumous reputation forever, and Digs may be quitting Team Arrow. Then again, maybe not. Olly has already chosen not to be with Felicity, and he thinks Ray only believes he can save the city and have a family because he’s new at it and naïve.
For sure, it’s a complicated, dangerous mess. But police, soldiers, firemen, and paramedics, to name a few, all share that same struggle, and sometimes they endure trauma. Thing is, though, humans are strong. The defenders of society can rejoin it. They can find happiness. There is hope.
At least, that’s what I’ve seen.
You know, it says something that when this week’s freak turned out to be a gender-switching con artist that sweats acid, it was far less complicated than the ongoing drama. I mean, it was just a very unique case of multiple personality disorder, and ended with a forceful hormone treatment, cooked up by Rosalee and applied via crossbow darts.
Speaking of, I love how territorial Rosalee was with Munroe this episode. She allowed Nick and Hank to use him as bait to lure out their target, “As long as things don’t go too far.” Hank mistakenly believes she’s worried about Munroe getting hurt, but it was fairly obvious that’s not the “too far” she had in mind. Then, Munroe mentions in passing how the female half of the wesen was really attractive. One cooked-up batch of hormones later, with Rosalee using enough of it “to turn them into a dinosaur,” she sends their friends off hunting, and just asks Munroe, “So… how pretty was she?” And the look on his face! That is the look of a man who has just realized how badly he’s stepped in it!
Hint, hint, Munroe: the correct answer is something like, “Not nearly as pretty as you, my love, my darling, my sweet wife, who is the woman of my dreams and has the whole of my heart securely in hand!” :p
Meanwhile, Nick keeps trying to reach out to Juliette, who is still trying to understand what she is. After spending the night in her car, she goes to Renard, hoping for a place to stay. As it happens, Renard has a favor to ask of her, to bleed enough to open that spell book, in exchange for which, he lets her stay. And why does he need that book opened so badly? Because he’s been dreaming of when he was shot over and over and over, and waking drenched in his own blood, yet his wounds remain closed when he wakes.
Yeah, no, that’s just not good, ya know?
In other news, Adalind has now confirmed that she is pregnant. With Nick’s child. And she’s going a bit nuts. “I can’t have another baby! I don’t even know where the first one is!” And then there’s how she needs to find her child a father. She has to sleep with someone! Quickly! Who? Then she overhears Viktor talking, and her eyes light up like a starving cat beholding a canary!
Unfortunately, the king of the family is taking Viktor back to Vienna. Right now. So, there goes Adalind’s haphazard hope of seducing Viktor and having him become her child’s surrogate father. The king promises that another family member will join her soon enough. Her daughter is of royal blood, after all, and he intends to take care of his family. But that doesn’t really help Adalind with her current circumstances, does it?
So, a new Royal is coming to town, and it looks like this one will be far more blunt, less subtle. Oh goodie.