Slow week, this. At least six of my favorite shows skipped this week. I am now remembering, with great fondness, the weeks right before the holidays, where every show broadcast an episode every week… ah, such happy times!
That was awesome!
I am, in particular, talking about Fitz-Simmons! Not “Fitz and Simmons,” but Fitz-Simmons! Finally, they are one in thought and deed again! Yay! Hurrah! Yahtzee! Whoo!
Can you guess that I like seeing my favorite geeks back in sync with each other? It was wonderful!
In this episode, we saw a lot everyone off on their own, doing their own thing, fighting the good fight as best they can, in their own way. In similar vein, we saw the division in Shield, including the tragedy of such. Even “real Shield,” which seems to have taken over Coulson’s Shield completely, not entirely dissimilar to a demon possessing the body of an innocent host, has some fractures within it, mainly revolving around their treatment of people with super powers… people who are different.
The old Shield provided a shelter for such, because, as Coulson said in episode one, “We want to contain him. The next guy will want to exploit him, and the guy after that will want to dissect him.” The new Shield apparently just wants to put them down, like they tried to do to Skye. Why? As Fitz puts it, “Because of fear.” Shield, under its founders, Fury, and Coulson, was about courage and compassion, even when their ranks were filled with Hydra traitors. But Gonzales and his crew are so afraid, so desperate, that it’s sickening to see. They’ve given in to their fears, let it drive a wedge between them and Coulson, tried to kill Skye without proper cause (they called her a “thing!”), and they intend to do the same to everyone who can theoretically pose a threat.
Thus, the importance of keeping Fury’s Toolbox out of reach.
And this is where Fitz-Simmons makes their grand return! Granted, they seem to still be at odds with one another. Simmons is channeling what she learned working undercover at Hydra, working her way into the graces of Gonzales and the new Shield. Fitz straight up refused to help them open the Toolbox, but Simmons persuaded them that a biological approach could be the key. When Fitz hears about this, he virtually looks over Simmons’ shoulder, and he sees her plan. They have an “argument” where, while can’t follow everything, we know they’re talking between the lines. With that, and Fitz’s admirable speech, they pull a switch. Fitz walks out of the base, with “Shield’s” blessing… aaaand with the Toolbox in his bag. While Simmons concludes that the “Toolbox” they have can’t be opened without Coulson. Heh, and she even made Fitz a sandwich, like old times!
So, they’re apart, like everyone else on their team, but they’re also together again! 🙂
On another front, Coulson and Hunter arrive at the Retreat to look for Skye, and it’s a bitter pill to swallow when they find that they just can’t find her again. Not now that Gordon’s taken her, which, I’ll get to in a moment. With the only good plan he has gone up in smoke with Skye’s disappearance, Coulson has to take a moment and take stock. Hunter is unforgiving towards the other Shield, but Coulson is trying to see things from their point of view. He sees their goodness, their desire to protect, and having to lead the fight against them is, in some ways, a heavier burden than fighting Hydra. He has options, but he can’t figure out any good options. So, he has to entertain some bad ideas instead.
Such as letting the other Shield know where he is, so they’ll send a jet for him to steal. While that does go according to plan, Coulson was also hoping for some backup to arrive before he and Hunter were taken captive. They put up a good, wily fight, but they are fighting people with the same playbook, so he was momentarily outfoxed. Momentarily, I emphasize. His backup arrive, just one person, and old friend who we’ve not seen since last season’s finale: Agent Mike Peterson, aka Deathlok. Who handily takes out one jet with a localized EMP, and helps Coulson and Hunter take control of the other.
As it turns out, Coulson’s had Peterson following the trail of Dr. List, the Hydra head who apparently did not escape unnoticed! (yay!) List is looking into superpowered people too, and it’s possible that he and Hydra may have gleaned some information about the mysterious Inhumans. So, to find Skye, by finding the Inhumans, by finding Hydra (this is already sounding like a terrible idea!), the three of them are going to find their one and only contact who knows the world of Hydra: Grant Ward. (wow, an even worse idea, within ten seconds of the first one!)
Sheesh, talk about your desperate measures! Though it is pretty neat, how they’re bringing all these threads together into one cohesive, multi-layered, multi-fronted story. That is quality work, I say!
As for Skye, she gets more than a few surprises. Firstly, she has now entered on the threshold of an entire society she had no idea ever existed. They have their ways, structured and strict, and very, very secretive. It makes sense that they aren’t fully trusting her, as she wants nothing more than to be normal again, which is both impossible and mildly incomprehensible to them, and she wants to go right back into the outside world to help her friends, the secret agents who are currently battling a coup orchestrated by super-phobics. If anyone found out where they were, a way station sort of place they call “Afterlife,” then the witch hunt would begin in force.
Skye has issues with the secrecy, but she’s just starting to learn about her gifts. Her “Transitioner,” Lincoln, if I heard the name right, helps her get just a glimpse of the wonders of being Inhuman. His power involves electricity, and he shares an experience much like hers, only with training, preparation, and they have no need for Diviners and Kree cities. After his training, he’s able to heal others on a cellular level, give them a little buzz, even levitate them (and likely himself, though he doesn’t show it off just yet).
Unfortunately, Skye’s keen mind makes it so she detects the secrets he’s keeping, such as Raina’s presence on the grounds. With a small earthquake under her feet, Skye bursts in, ready to kill Raina in retribution for all the people she’s killed, particularly Trip. Raina is in a state of misery, and taunts Skye, daring her to finish the job. But then a woman intervenes. A woman who looks incredibly familiar to us, the audience.
At first I was thinking it couldn’t be, that she must be Skye’s aunt or something, but that scarring on her face… and the way she talked… it was another one of those, “No way,” moments.
Skye’s mother, who introduces herself as Ja-Ying (I think), is alive and well, even after Whitehall mutilated her (hah! She’s alive and he’s dead! Inhuman, one, Nazi, zero!) and has finally been reunited with her daughter. Who doesn’t know who she is. (ouch!)
We see Mister Hide again. He’s been stuffed in a room with no way out until he can gain a little self-control. Gordon’s the only one who can access it (he has a rather lot of power resting on him, doesn’t he?) but he brings Ja-Ying to see him. Where he and Gordon are utterly antagonistic (gee, I wonder why?), Ja-Ying seems to be the one whose authority he actually accepts.
So, Skye is with “her people” again, even, unknowingly, her parents, yet she is still with Coulson at heart. And I am wondering, “What exactly happened all those years ago?” The more we learn, the more confusing it gets!
Back at Shield, May gets an offer. After being unable to convert her while she was in a cell, and after ignoring her warnings about Hydra, Gonzales gets “outvoted” and changes tactics. Now, this is a man who takes Fury’s, May’s, and Coulson’s own precautions, after having alien blood injected into him, and tries to turn it around as proof that Coulson should not be trusted. So when he hands May a gun she thinks isn’t loaded, but really is, with the proposition that she either shoot him or listen to him, I can’t help but sense a subtle manipulation going on here.
Basically, Gonzales offers May a seat on their Board, hoping to bring her into their fold with the promise that when, not if, they catch Coulson, she can be his advocate with the rest of them. So, the offer is to protect Coulson by betraying him.
I’m starting to notice that Gonzales seems to be a rather backward thinker, but that’s still a rather tempting offer, and we don’t see May’s choice yet. I could very well understand if she accepts, but I hope she doesn’t.
“Live and Let Clive”
You know, if Blaine was a good guy, instead of a cold, evil, ruthless, conniving, son of damnation, I could almost admire his business model. He has constructed, via infection, an entire community of zombies to leech off of, and he has sole control over their supply of brains. He’s living high on the hog, even with a high-class chef producing brain-based meals they can actually taste and enjoy, hunting the living (we confirm that Jerome has become dinner by the end of this episode) and crushing any start-up competition. Or, rather, shooting them in the head. (noted: a zombie’s weak spot is the brain)
In a way, it’s ingenious. He’s clearly intelligent, talented, and focused. He even has a certain charisma, and he’s thus far been very careful not to turn anyone who could and would pose a serious threat to him. Of course, having to feed so many zombies requires resources, and if he doesn’t keep good, tight control of that, his luxurious lifestyle will eventually go out the window. That can either take a very long time, or happen very fast, depending on the circumstances. But however it turns out for him, he’s treating humans like cattle, in every way.
I say again, Blaine could give the devil a few pointers.
Meanwhile, in total contrast, Liv languishes away in a coroner’s office, eating brains with noodles and hot sauce, valiantly struggling to find justice for the dead. She is everything Blaine is not, a compassionate human, emphasis on “human” and “compassionate.”
She goes off a bit when she eats the brains of a scared-to-the-point-of-paranoia murder victim, whose fear was well-founded (he was, after all, murdered) after he betrayed a local crime lord and was put into Witness Protection.
Hmm, that makes me wonder how Blaine and all the other zombies maintain their personalities so well. Is Liv the only one who has the visions? But I digress.
Liv’s visions come with a peek into Clive’s past at Vice, where he went undercover for a year. When he came back, he was a pariah in his department, such that they had to transfer him over to Homicide. Which explains why he’s so glad to have Liv as a pseudo partner, and why he’s so anxious for her not to look into this murder, both for her own safety, well warranted, and because he doesn’t want her to see him the way his former friends at Vice do. She can’t help it, though, and seeing him like that really scared her, so much that she doubted him. They work it out, though, in the end.
Of course, that’s after she accidentally attracts the attention of a local crime lord, who pays her a personal visit in her own home. Fortunately for her, she has a dead man’s karate skills to even the odds, and when that doesn’t quite finish the job, and her brother’s life is at risk, she still has her zombie rage. She may be gaining some sort of control over it, as she did not nearly eat this guy’s brain, but even so, she kicked his butt!
On the more domestic side of things, Liv comes by to apologize to her ex-fiance, but gets a bit jealous when she finds he has a new girl. She gets the idea of having Ravi be Major’s roommate, to block the new girl’s path to moving in. I would not have pegged Ravi and Major for roommates and best buds, but life has often been filled with even stranger friendships. And, as it turns out, they’re both gaming geeks, including Diablo 3. So maybe not so strange!
(also, note to self: do not try eating a bowl of cereal when sitting down to watch people eat brains)
“Just Ain’t a Good Day for Leavin’”
When it rains, it pours. When it pours, it floods. When it floods, it’s a miniature tsunami. When it’s a mini, it’s a super-sized tsunami. So when it rains, there is utter chaos.
That’s this episode.
Picking up from last episode’s cliffhanger, Sadie and Luke both give their statements to the police. Of course Rayna, who already has a very full plate, can be relied on as a trusted friend and protector, so she rushes down to the station with a lawyer, just to watch Sadie’s back, and then she brings Sadie back to her place, safe and away from the media attention. This gives Sadie a chance to deal with the immediate trauma of what happened, though she’s afraid the authorities don’t believe her. Then she learns that no one’s pressing charges, and even owning an unregistered gun is being bumped down to a misdemeanor. It’s all thanks to Luke, telling the cops that he saw the whole thing. Not true, but Sadie’s safe from any unjust charges.
That said… there are still consequences. Sadie loved Pete, once upon a time, and now she’s killed him. As a decent human being, she can’t just ignore that, pretend it didn’t happen. She’s hurting, and she needs to deal with her demons, new and old, on her own. It’s tragic, because she has such wonderful friends to support her, but sometimes you really do need to be alone. So she says good-bye to Rayna, and to Luke, thanking them for everything they’ve done for her. And she leaves Nashville.
Shame. I really hope we can see her again.
Also a shame: Luke is not so lucky in his romantic relationships. He has an ex-wife, Rayna left him at the altar, and now a potential relationship with Sadie has gone out the window. Sheesh, poor guy needs to catch a break!
Also a shame, Highway 65 just spent a lot of money protecting Sadie and producing her album, and now she’s bowed out. Not good! Also not good for them, Bucky has a moment with Luke and another artist, Ron Pope (a cameo!), and it’s a very pleasant experience for him. Such that he might be considering jumping ship, to a label that he feels will appreciate him more. Now that would be a blow to Rayna and her label.
In other news, I am giving kudos to Rayna for being there for Deacon, Sadie, and Juliette in their respective hours of need. She was supposed to host Juliette’s baby shower, but Sadie’s immediate crisis sent that out the window. She did manage to stop by with a present, to find the place a mess, the shower canceled, and Juliette in a hormone-fueled rage. Rayna is still trying to be there, and she slips for just a moment and shouts at Juliette, but immediately apologizes for her outburst when it shocks Juliette… oh, no, wait, that’s the sudden, slightly premature labor she’s going into!
And once again, Rayna is there for Juliette, getting her to the hospital and staying by her side.
Cut to Avery on the band bus, making me laugh uproariously as he bursts in on Gunnar and Scarlett’s argument, with that look of intermingling joy, fear, a hundred other things, and most especially panic, “BABY! JULIETTE! IT’S HAPPENING!” And he’s off the bus looking for a taxi faster than you can blink. He makes it in time for the birth, hand held tight in Juliette’s, showing her how her hormones are wrong, that she and their baby girl are the most important people in the world to him, that there’s nowhere else he’d rather be. The happy couple accept congratulations (Juliette apologizes to the friends she yelled at) and sing a lullaby to their child. Now they’re a mom, a dad, and a daughter. Family.
And did anyone else notice how her friends/managers arrived together, and looked a bit like a couple themselves? I don’t know if they’ll pursue that angle any, but it would be sweet if they did.
Speaking of couplings, Gunnar makes his feelings known, and Scarlett does the same. Thing is, their feelings are not in sync. Gunnar is jealous and we pretty much track the whole of their history together, and apart, in one argument. While I fairly agree that Scarlett and Caleb are moving way to fast, Gunnar doesn’t react too well. At least, not until he trusts in the music again to express himself. He and Scarlett give one of those emotional, heart-breaking performances together like they used to. But Scarlett turns down his hope of rekindling their romance. “All I felt was music,” she said.
Back on the home front, Maddie is losing it in the face of Deacon’s cancer. She has so much anger she can’t direct anywhere at anyone, so she’s acting out. Deacon makes the mistake of pushing, so she pulls further back, closing herself off. She even calls Teddy to come pick her up, which turns out to be the right move even though it’s the wrong move. Teddy offers some wise counsel, letting Deacon know he needs to give her time and space, and helping Maddie see how pulling away isn’t the answer. They talk, open and honest, and things work out.
Though, I’m going mad with waiting for someone to point out how Maddie could donate part of her liver to Deacon, the way Scarlett was going to. I was waiting for that the entire episode! Come on! Realize the obvious, already!
As for Teddy, he’s turning into someone he doesn’t even recognize in the mirror anymore. His new minion obviously rationalizes his ill deeds by placing the blame on the people who pay him for his services, which is so typical for a scumbag. It can be surprisingly hard to own up to one’s mistakes, but compounding them with more mistakes, worse mistakes, is counter-productive and self-destructive. Teddy may rationalize his new crimes, saying he’s protecting his loved ones from his mistakes, but he has now engaged in blackmail. He intends to get an increasingly-desperate Natasha her half a million dollars – which is far more than she needs, I’d say – so she’ll just go away and leave him alone, instead of harassing him everywhere he goes. But methinks the other shoe is soon to fall, particularly now that Teddy has put his plan of embezzling city funds into motion. He’s going through with it, and he’s defending it.
Fallen angels are dangerous men.
If I had to pick one phrase that sums up this episode: Life is just not fair.
Our freak of the week is a group of wesen who can’t produce their own body heat, or, rather, their bodies freeze themselves to death. To survive, they need to share their body heat with each other, or steal it from someone else. The latter approach is fatal, and freezes their victims solid. So they’re stuck having to either kill innocent people or die a slow, very, very cold death. Harsh, man.
Though the wesen in question leave bodies in their wake, there’s a difference between having to put down one person in order to save others, and lacking the power to keep that person alive to face justice. In either case, there’s a degree of powerlessness, but at least the former involves making a choice, which let’s us keep a little control of our lives, or at least our souls. The latter, where that choice is taken away, is just plain helplessness.
There’s a lot of that going around this episode. Our characters have been through a lot, and there’s a good deal of trauma they’re having to deal with.
Renard’s near-death experience seems to be having worse and worse effects on him. He sees things coming apart, like a painting cut apart, light pouring through the gaps, and the devil’s hands reaching for him. That was just freaky.
Munroe has flashbacks of his ordeal at the hands of the Wesenrein. Not only was that, of itself, a grueling gauntlet of physical, psychological, and emotional turmoil, but his time with Rosalee was nearly ended. They nearly ran out of time, and for a man who repairs antique clocks, that hits him hard. Fortunately, he at least still has Rosalee, and as much time as they can squeeze out of life.
Nick is reliving that moment when his Aunt Marie told him that he had to say good-bye to Juliette and never see her again, lest their family’s curse fall on her as well. I’m sure she didn’t envision anything quite so complicated as Juliette becoming a hexenbiest, but still, prophetic words. About the only thing he can do to deal with it is… just keep going. Alone.
Juliette, apparently needing something, sleeps with Renard. She also takes a swipe at Adalind, via a toppling gargoyle, before turning back. She’s losing herself, that thing that makes her the Juliette we know and love, so she goes to ask Munroe and Rosalee for help, only to find Nick there, and her secret is revealed. She flees, withdrawing, and blaming everyone for what’s happened to her. Not good.
I love how Rosalee maintains her composure until she’s alone, “SHE’S A FREAKING HEXENBIEST?!”
Now I’m just waiting and rooting for someone to say, “Why don’t we ask Trubel to spare a few drops of her blood, since Nick’s won’t work?” (hmm, it really sucks when you take too long to realize the obvious, and it takes the characters even longer)
Adalind, after her first taste of “Juliette wants to kill her,” retreats to the safety of a hotel room that has Prince Kenneth and Royal Guards. Being somewhat interested in staying alive, she wants Kenneth to kill Juliette, but he’s not so hasty. He sees something about Juliette’s connection, through Nick and his mother, to the child he’s searching for, which could benefit him. In like manner, he’s exploiting the connection between Renard and the child via his own mother, reasoning that they must be in contact by some method, and he entertains the idea of drawing Elizabeth out by harming Renard.
That is certainly a new approach. Viktor was all about trying to follow a physical trail, but Kenneth is following the trail of connections between people. Something tells me, he may get more results.
So, perhaps we’ll be seeing Kelly, Elizabeth, and Trubel sooner rather than later?
Grimm has to wait…have to go through Daredevil first.
If there is one thing which annoyed be about Afterlife where the expositions. Especially the way they were delivered. “I thought you know…” Obviously she doesn’t know anything, so go with the program and tell her something substantial instead of keep acting all surprised about it. Honestly the nonsense could have easily cut down five minutes in favour of more Deathlock, Coulson, Hunter and Fitzsimmons awesomeness. And another close shot of the sandwich. Never neglect the sandwich!
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Ooooh, I am loving Daredevil! (halfway through at the moment)
And yes, I think he said, “I thought you knew” at least three times. (rolls eyes)