Here it comes! We have season finale for Gotham, and everyone else setting up for their own finales! Exciting times!
This turns out to be a rather apt title. We have Emma and Snow, Lily and Maleficient, Regina and Cora (in the flashbacks), and even Zalina expecting a child.
You know, with how TV shows can complicate things so perfectly by throwing a baby into the mix, you’d almost think babies complicate things! Who’d have ever guessed that? 😉
Lily arrives in Storybrooke as angry and vengeful as ever. She gives Snow and Charming a glare that would make rabid lions shrink away, and asks her mother about how they’ll get revenge. But Maleficent, after so very long, wants nothing more than to just be with her daughter, not wasting time on revenge. Lily doesn’t like that, and tries to leave town, before Regina comes by looking to collect some of her blood (more on that in a minute), and something about this activates her own magic, and she shape-shifts into a dragon. It’s not so pleasant as one might imagine, as she’s so clumsy. As she becomes human again, she opens up, sharing how pained she is by what’s happened to her: she destroys everything she touches, and bad things happen to end the relationships she has with anyone who wants a relationship with her, much as Maleficent so openly wants. They begin to bond, and Maleficent convinces her to stick around and learn about being a dragon.
While Lily was rampaging, she got a few knocks in, and sent Snow into a rock, hitting her head. When Snow wakes up, we can see a moment where she thinks, “I must have hit my head really hard,” when Emma makes amends with her. With Hook’s counsel, and the Lily Dragon crisis, Emma realizes that she has to stop punishing her parents. Life is just too short to hold onto such grudges.
Back in the past, Regina is visited by Cora, who ostensibly wants to make amends, but may or may not have other schemes in mind. She searches for the man with the lion tattoo (Robin Hood) but upon learning of his married status, schemes to hook Regina up with the Sheriff of Nottingham instead. Regina is not so easily fooled, however, and when she learns how Cora wants her to have a child, she refuses so absolutely that she drinks a potion to make herself barren. She cannot ever have a child. This is when Cora mournfully tells Regina the cold truth: the only thing standing between Regina and her happy ending… is Regina.
In the present day, Regina finally takes that lesson to heart. With Zalina stuck in a cell and Isaac the Author at her side, Regina finally confronts her sister. Gaining ink from Lily’s blood, as what Isaac needed was “the Savior’s darkness,” and both the quill and Author from a near-gone Rumpelstiltskin, Regina makes as if she’s going to have Isaac write Zalina out of the story completely, changing all their memories, making it so she never even existed. It’s the very same fate Zalina originally had in mind for Regina.
Perhaps Regina fully intended to follow through on her threat… but she stops. What she does is stop standing in her own way. She has Robin and Henry and now she has Zalina in a cell, where she will have “the most restrictive visitation rights in history.” It’s her triumphant moment, at long last. Her happy ending is finally within reach.
But then Isaac the Author, who now wields god-like power without the restraint of the Apprentice’s reprisals hanging over his head, takes what he has and vanishes. He goes to Rumple, who apparently still has something he wants. Rumple gives him a book to write in, entitled “Heroes and Villains.” He means to give villains the happy endings right now.
And, apparently, he means to do so by reversing their roles in the story.
If this mysterious Sorcerer is going to do something to help, now would be a good time!
“Dead From New York”
How many niches and tropes can they possibly come up with for one, single show to touch on? How many homages to our culture can they come up with? The creators of Castle could certainly be gunning for the world record on that score!
This episode, in particular, touches on the comedic sketches of Saturday Night Live. Which make fun of everything, so, of course, the Castle crew actually made a sketch to make fun of themselves! Which is just awesome, you know?
As it turns out, this week’s murder victim was the host of the show, and while he made people laugh, he was also a bit tyrannical about it. However, while he had a number of moral failings, his last act was apparently an attempt to save his ex-wife of two decades (they’re still good friends) from a kidnapper. But there was more to it than he realized at first, but he did figure it out, that one of his coworkers was embezzling money, and just as he obtained proof of it, his enemy killed him to keep him quiet.
It didn’t work, of course, as said murder drew attention, which drew Castle and Beckett onto the laugh-a-minute set. While they both had fan-boy and fan-girl moments, and found these celebrities were actually fans of them as well, they still got to the bottom of things and brought the killer to justice. Live on national television. Which is poetic justice, ya know?
Meanwhile, Castle’s mother Martha is making her debut return to the Broadway stage. Apparently, she has a custom of saying nothing but her opening line for the forty-eight hours preceding such (actors do all sorts of crazy things, ya know?) but she gets a bit distracted from that. This isn’t the same world she knew before, what with rampant social media, and in her first return to the stage, she is very much nervous. She’s afraid of doing poorly and being humiliated.
This leads into a rather touching moment between mother and son, as he helps bolster her fighting spirit. We don’t get that many bonding moments between these two, so it’s sweet when we do. It’s also hilarious, as he roots for her to shout her first line, “IS HE DEAD?!” And they take a bow together! 🙂
Also, I’m liking the Carly Rae Jepsen cameo, with Castle and Beckett dancing to her song backstage.
“All the Happy Families Are Alike”
You know what chaos is? A friggin’ free-for-all feeding frenzy, that’s what!
Maroni is going after Falcone, and Loeb is siding with Maroni, and Penguin is going for Falcone too, but Gordon is protecting Falcone because he’s the best hope for saving Gotham, and dragging Bullock into it, and Fish returns with her new cult of followers, which Selina joins and likes, and goes after Falcone, Maroni, Penguin, and even Gordon once he gets in the way, and everyone’s shooting at everyone, and Butch can’t decide between Fish, whom he loves, and Penguin, whom he’s been programmed to obey, and Barbara tries to kill Lezley.
Yeah, it’s a tangled, fast-paced mess that turns on the proverbial head of a dime.
To go into a bit more detail…
While the cops are swamped with the overwhelming need for damage control, Falcone is on his own, losing more and more of his usual allies as they defect to Maroni’s side. This includes the authentic powers that be, like City Hall and Commissioner Loeb. Maroni’s goons come pretty close to killing Falcone, putting him in the hospital, where Penguin visits him to gloat and finish him off before Maroni arrives to do the same.
Fortunately for Falcone, Gordon arrives just in the nick of time to protect him, seeing him as “the least worst option,” the only man left who can take control of the city and restore the peace. After disobeying Loeb’s order to abandon Falcone, Gordon has quite a fight on his hands to get Falcone clear of the hospital. And he has to bring Penguin and Butch with him because he can’t just leave two men he just arrested to die, so, hooking up with Bullock, they all go to Falcone’s most secret safe house. Which turns out to be neither secret nor safe, as Fish is already lying in wait.
She and her cult of followers, now including Selina, waltz out of the shadows with gangster makeovers and lots of guns. From the frying pan to the fire, as they say. Fish finally reunites with Butch, who she knows has been hurt deep inside in ways she can’t quantify just yet, but for the man who sacrificed his life to save hers, she will do anything to help him. Fish also lets Bullock off the somewhat literal hook, but she intends to kill Penguin and Falcone very slowly and painfully. Not having any particular animosity towards Gordon, she still intends to kill him, but quick and somewhat painless.
It’s quite a change Gordon sees in Selina. She was never the upstanding sort, but since their first meeting, she’s lived in a mansion, roomed with Barbara and Ivy, danced at a ball with Bruce Wayne, and killed Reggie to protect Bruce and Alfred. After killing Reggie, seeing Fish come ashore like a general bent on claiming the whole city, and taking revenge on those who have harmed her, must have been intoxicating. She seems to love it in Fish’s crew, mocking Gordon for asking her for help when they barely know each other, and even asking Fish how she’s going to kill them. The mischievous pickpocket is nowhere to be found, and in her place is Fish Junior.
Maroni arrives, all smiles and hugs, to claim Falcone’s head, along with Penguin’s, and the whole of the city. Penguin seizes on his last chance for survival, dividing his enemies again, or at the very least making the only move he has left against Maroni. He doesn’t beg Fish for his life, but hers, warning her that Maroni will just kill her once Falcone is dead, ridding himself of a rival. Maroni dismisses that with disparaging words, giving Fish a partnership even while deriding her. The latter proves his demise and Fish just shoots him in the head, shocking Selina (waking up from your little fantasy, Cat?) and sparking a shootout between her cult and Maroni’s goons. A lot of people die, and in the confusion, Bullock frees Gordon and Falcone and Penguin slips away alone.
Gordon, Bullock, and Falcone, who is now deciding to abandon the city and retire down south, run and hide, but not for long. Selina finds them soon enough, still following Fish’s orders, and brings them back. The trio are again saved, but only by Penguin walking in with a machine gun blazing at everyone, looking to kill Fish. They flee, and Penguin pursues Fish as her cult is left bleeding and dead on the ground. After so long, seeing the two puppeteers finally clash, physically, one-on-one, is most welcome. As they’re locked in combat, Butch comes up with a gun, wavering between the two of them as they both order him to kill the other. Unable to overcome his programming, he shoots Fish in the side… but then, still devoted to Fish, and weeping madly, shoots Penguin in like manner. As Butch apologizes and tries to help Fish, Penguin hits him on the head with a length of wood, and throws her off a very tall building into the frothing waters below.
Falcone is retiring, Maroni is dead, Fish is gone… Penguin stands triumphant, proclaiming that he is “the King of Gotham!” The little idiot has no idea what he’s in for as enemies will pop up everywhere around him, but for the moment, he’s won out over all his rivals, everyone who’s had him under their thumb.
Falcone leaves Gordon a present before leaving: a very good knife, which was given to him by Gordon’s father. He tells Gordon that Gotham needs a cop now, not a criminal, who will grab the city by the scruff of the neck and shake. But he cautions, with the story of the knife: his father was an honest man, but he carried a knife. Gordon still has an uphill war ahead of him. So he’d best keep that knife handy.
Meanwhile, in the wake of her ordeal with the Ogre, Barbara has been checked out physically, and now she needs trauma counseling. Lezley agrees to be her therapist, providing she comes over to Barbara’s for dinner. That’s where she slowly reveals everything the Ogre did to her… and the truth that she, not the Ogre, killed her parents. And then she tries to kill Lezley, who just manages to defend herself and subdue Barbara as a weary Gordon, Bullock, and Falcone walk through the front door to a most unexpected scene.
At the GCPD, Miss Kringle has finally solved one of Nygma’s riddles, and it’s the one that implicates him in the disappearance of her boyfriend. She confronts him with it, and he tries to brush it off, but she is clearly suspicious. Nygma breaks a little more, having a free-for-all inside his own head as his thoughts argue with each other out loud, and not in the amusing way, but in the “psychotic serial killer” way.
Finally, Bruce figures out his father’s secret. He follows the clues of his father’s behavior, locking himself in the library and playing classical music loudly for hours on end, to realize that the secret is somewhere in that room. He and Alfred toss the place, but find nothing. Then Bruce figures out the significance of the word “stoic” Luscious Fox used to describe Thomas Wayne, and goes for a philosophy book. Stoicism isn’t just a character trait, but a philosophy, a life choice (one which Batman subscribes to)… and in the back of the book, Bruce finds a remote with one button. Alfred, who has been trying to be the voice of reason, is surprised and counsels caution. What if its a bomb? Bruce finds that unlikely and presses it. For a moment, as classical music comes on the speakers, he is crestfallen.
And then the wall opens up, leaving a shocked Bruce and Alfred looking down stone steps, into the darkness of a cave, and from deep within, they hear the flapping wings of bats.
At the beginning of this episode, I was reminded of a great, big, gaping hole in the argument for gun control. The argument is, basically, that people cannot be trusted with guns, because guns are dangerous and people with guns are homicidal maniacs. If that were true, then everyone who has a gun, and who also has had even a passing, fleeting, imaginary fancy of using said gun on the person trying to make a law that takes their gun away, would have done so. The fact that the gun-control nuts are still breathing is, in fact, proof that they are wrong. Their very continued existence is the argument against their words.
Similarly, Gonzales and his crew automatically believe the Inhumans are dangerous, and don’t even see them as people. They ignore the fact that the Inhumans have existed for a very long time, yet the world has not ended, or burned, or been conquered by them. And back before our modern era, conquest would have been especially easy, as the Inhumans would have been seen as gods every bit as much as Thor and Odin. But without even the compassion to see the Inhumans as human, Gonzales’ Shield is driven by nothing but fear. He has to be the single worst person they could possibly send to parley with the Inhumans.
Meanwhile, Raina has told the truth and been proven correct, and, all helpful smiles and meek, urgent demeanor, worked her way into a position of influence. She even tries to usurp Ja-Ying’s place as Inhuman representative. However crazy Cal may be, he has the right read on her, she who manipulates others for her own benefit and thrives on chaos.
But there’s one thing…
Not everything is at it seems. Everyone has more sides to them than one might see at first. And I had to eat some crow before this episode was over.
For once, it seems, Raina was trying to do the right thing by her people, and for her trouble, she’s confined, distrusted, and awaiting judgment. All because she saw the truth: that war between Shield and the Inhumans begins explicitly because of Ja-Ying.
Gonzales was firm and resolute, but much gentler and more compassionate than I expected. He worked to build a bridge between himself and Ja-Ying, giving her a Chinese pendant, as she had intended to give such to Skye, even speaking of how Hydra has hurt them both. He went to Afterlife in search of peace, and merely stated, in no uncertain terms, his intention to protect the public from super-threats.
But the story Ja-Ying told Skye about Bahrain, and the truth the Inhumans have learned about the danger of mothers who believe they know better than the rules, turns out to be prophetic. After so many lifetimes of beholding man’s inhumanity to man, their ability to be ruled by their fears and categorize and divide and segregate and cut humanity apart as she herself was, Ja-Ying is also ruled by fear. That fear rears its ugly head in the form of pure, calculating malice, wearing the mask of love for her daughter. To protect her daughter, the mother will do anything.
Including murder Gonzales in cold blood and say he tried to kill her, even shooting herself twice to “prove” it, sparking the war Raina warned of. But she’s ready for that, or at least for the first wave, as Cal has been “surrendered” to Shield’s custody, but now he has his vials with that concoction that makes him super-strong. When chaos breaks loose, he will add to it, striking Shield’s forces from behind.
So, while Gonzales was wrong to fear the Inhumans so much, he really should have feared Ja-Ying a whole lot more than he did.
What Ja-Ying, for all her experience, fails to realize is this: everyone has scars. And no one’s scars take precedence over those of another. We see that plainly in Simmons as Fitz tries to comfort her, before she leaves for Afterlife, and how Mack sees Coulson, feeling so strongly that he resigns, and how Hunter and Morse have yet to make up, and in Shield itself. Coulson just barely managed to piece it all back together, including the helicarrier and a compromise with the Gonzales faction. He admits that he has failed as Director, but the Council is wrong too. They need to combine their approaches, as the Shield of old: both a Director and a Council.
I was afraid that Gonzales and his crew would tear Shield apart again with their super-phobic aggression. I had that entirely wrong. The kicker is, I can already look back at previous episodes and see all the warning signs of Ja-Ying’s behavior, and I completely missed them! Hindsight is twenty-twenty, as they say.
However, Gonzales’ gift to Ja-Ying was his “insurance.” A simple gift doesn’t do that much, and it obviously did not save his life, so, with only one two-hour episode left, I can’t help but wonder if that insurance was actually something like a bug, recording their conversation, to preserve the truth. That’s only one wild, desperate hope, however. Evidently, I’ve no idea what they’ve got in mind.
To make things even worse, Kara takes May’s place alongside Morse on their scouting mission, turning on her, despite being theoretically free of Hydra’s control, and landing to hook up with Ward, who knocks Morse out in the middle of nowhere. Ward intends for Kara to torture Morse and then kill her in recompense for what Morse did to her while undercover at Hydra.
So, Ward was definitely still lying to Coulson when he said he was leaving Kara in Coulson and Shield’s care in order to better help her. It was just one more step towards their insane end-game, namely punishing everyone who hurt them, especially everyone who hurt Kara. They put Morse in that category.
What is the one thing more terrifying than a zombie apocalypse? One word: relationships.
This week’s brain donor is a “love and sex expert,” who turns out to have been a rather nasty, spiteful, carnal person, so yes on the “sex” and no on the “love.” She apparently had a thing for men who were already attached to someone, seducing them with varying degrees of ease and difficulty, be they rival radio hosts, with whom she had fake feuds, or the boyfriends of her employees, while they’re going through a hard time. Yet, the final straw was when she blacklisted her own best friend and producer, depriving her of any chance of a career as a radio host. This friend she betrayed went to the trouble of electrocuting her with her own microphone and trying to frame a coworker. Fittingly, the murderer was arrested on live radio, which she sucked at.
While Liv has this “expert’s” brain influencing her, she says a number of things she later regrets, all while trying to “fix” people. I can understand the desire to help others improve and avoid getting hurt, but you can’t just fix a person. Neither can you fix what they want and desire and admire in potential mates.
For instance, Ravi meets Liv’s roommate, Peyton, and, having a complete, functioning set of male body parts, is instantly attracted to her. He pesters Liv on the question, is Peyton seeing anyone? She doesn’t react very well. In fact, she’s, well, nasty and arrogant, and tries to convince him to give up. But she asks anyway, and discovers that Peyton’s definition of not seeing anyone is having no less than three suitors, but with casual interest. Ravi calls, and asks, and Liv, coming down from her “expert” high, encourages Peyton to say, “Yes.”
For another, Ravi and Peyton met when she was getting Major out of jail. Major has apparently been beaten up by those bikers the cops locked him up with, and he emerges all the more set on finding out what happened to the kids he was protecting. He’s too smart to buy the story about them being killed by that couple last episode, and he’s too disturbed by how that was a human brain, not a calf’s brain, to let it go. His girlfriend breaks up with him and Liv tries to convince him to let it go, to let those kids go, and he makes like he does, but he doesn’t. The last scene has him buying illegal guns. This is not “letting go” behavior, because he has the moral compulsion to do something when faced with horrific tragedy like the massive harvesting of people from the street.
Then there’s Liv’s own relationship with Loel. She knows, now, that she and Loel aren’t really friends, just a pair of zombies who are attracted to each other. But when she goes over to try and sort things out and possibly break up, he seduces her back into his bed. And she comes back again. But then, as she’s leaving in the morning, she snitches part of the brain he’s cooking with eggs. Then, as she’s going down the elevator, she sees Blaine coming with an ice box, as Major described to her. As the truth begins to dawn on her, she has a vision, and realizes that she has just eaten a piece of Jerome’s brain, and he was taken by Blaine, who then delivered his brain to Loel.
The Homicide chief tried to stand up to Blaine earlier, but he has nowhere else to go. Except, he brings up Liv, and Blaine calmly assures him that he knows about her and she’s not a problem. So now, with Liv fresh on his mind, Blaine is visiting Loel with a new brain, after she’s confirmed that Loel is eating Jerome’s brain. Two plus two equals… Blaine using Loel to keep tabs on Liv, including lying to her about where he gets his brains.
That’s gonna hit Liv hard, especially as Ravi’s experimental zombie rat just bit him, even through a chain mail glove.
That was a cute moment with Liv and the white rat, being perfectly at ease with each other. Ravi really should have had her do all the rat handling.
So this version of Grodd is less “renegade from Gorilla City” and more “the particle accelerator explosion created a meta-gorilla with increased size, intelligence, and psychic powers.” And the infant, primitive, developing mind of a super-gorilla has thus far been under the sole care of Eobard Thawne. Yeah, that’s a very bad thing, ya know? Of course, with his future knowledge, Thawne would already know about Grodd, so it’s no surprise he seized that particular monopoly.
He’s plenty terrifying and formidable, though I call bull-crap on him being able to sense and respond to a supersonic punch. Sure, Barry might not be able to bring him down with just a few rapid punches, but no gorilla, even an enhanced one, can move fast enough to fight something moving faster than the speed of sound. No, Grodd’s advantage is never his speed, but his size, strength, cunning, and ferocity. He is a predator in a dark, labyrinthine environment, and he uses that to his advantage. And, of course, he can cripple Barry with psychic attacks. Having him block Barry’s supersonic punch, however, that’s just a little too incredulous.
But, then again, physics is not why I watch and enjoy this show. 😉
Though Barry is scrambling to find where Thawne took Eddie, his attempts have been unsuccessful. Just to buy more time, Thawne throws Grodd at Team Flash. First they have some weirdo in a mask stealing gold, but when this turns out to be General Eiling, suffering under Grodd’s thrall, the guys have to go hunting in the sewers. On Grodd’s own turf, and with Barry incapacitated by a psychic attack, Grodd wins practically without trying, and kidnaps Joe.
This comes exactly when Iris has discovered Barry’s ability, and she feels justifiably upset about the secrecy. She has words for Barry and for Joe, and for a moment, she and Joe fear that their last words to each other will have been said in anger. That’s a heavy regret to contemplate, and when Barry, a third man she loves who is in immediate peril, is losing his fight against Grodd, being hit with another psychic attack, Iris just can’t stand by and do nothing. She does the only thing she can at that point: talk to Barry, and give him something to focus on, so he can get back up. He doesn’t have much left, but he lures Grodd in front of a train, and even a super gorilla needs time to recover after that.
So, while Iris is plenty angry, she’s definitely on Team Flash. Finally able to be open with her, Barry tells her what she means to him, how the thought of her is what’s kept him getting up every time he’s been knocked down. Which is what gets pretty much every guy back up when he’s been knocked down: the people he loves most. Iris is loyal to Eddie, but her heart is moving towards Barry, I think.
Meanwhile, Thawne has been busy. He’s just keeping Eddie captive for now, but he gloats about his great superiority over him. The Thawnes are apparently a great, privileged, influential family, every one of them going down in the history books… except Eddie, the forgotten police detective, who doesn’t even get the girl. Thawne is just sort of callously trying to break Eddie, and it’s not even his real goal. He’s working on something technical to help him go home to the future. He has something he plugs into the particle accelerator… which, it turns out, he’s been hiding beneath, the entire time Barry’s been searching every nook and cranny of the city around Star Labs.
Note to self: when I have an enemy I can’t find, remember to look under my nose.
“This is Your Sword”
Al Sah-him learns that it was Maseo who stole the Alpha-Omega bioweapon from the “cure” truck, so he had his heart set on something unsavory even before he knew Akio was exposed to it. One would think Maseo, of all people, would the most eager to see the virus destroyed. Particularly after failing to save Akio from it, no matter how he tried. Maseo and Olly invaded Shrieve’s base and took him, and the ostensible cure, to Akio in desperate hope of saving him, but Akio was dead before they arrived. Even worse, there simply was no cure. Shrieve just wanted to get the three “loose ends” together in one place, to take them out.
Back in the present, Al Sah-him is, in fact, still Oliver Queen. When Thea was on the brink of death, Olly and Merlyn hatched a plan, known only to the two of them, to turn their misfortune into opportunity. To save Thea, Olly had to join the League, but once in the League, he could dismantle it from within. Unfortunately, they thought they had much more time to work with, several months at least. Instead, Ra’s plans to have Al Sah-him and Nyssa married within days and the day after that, he is to go destroy Starling City.
Suffering from a desperate need for help, Olly sends Merlyn and Tatsu to ask his old, and somewhat former, friends for help. They aren’t very eager, and they are not so trusting, but they have no choice. Merlyn and Tatsu, as Katana, lead Digs, Felicity, Laurel, and Ray to invade Nanda Parbat and destroy the bioweapon. Felicity, in particular, was reluctant and disbelieving, but Tatsu convinced her to fight for Oliver, struggling against Ra’s himself, partially because Tatsu failed to fight for the man she loved.
Maseo, the Phantom, confides in Olly that he is in a prison from which there is no escape. It does not justify anything he does, but one must pity the man who has become so empty that the only thing left is anguish. The next day, he and Tatsu fight a fatal duel, and Tatsu kills him herself. As she weeps, his last words are of thanks, for freeing him from his prison.
Though Team Arrow appears successful in bringing down a plane and destroying the bioweapon, that proves to just be a ruse concocted by Ra’s to ferret out any traitor within the ranks he commands. Tatsu is quick to lay blame at the feet of her deceased husband, but Ra’s still has his suspicions. That is, until Merlyn outs him as a traitor in a supposed bid to save himself, and Al Sah-him exposes the team, minus Tatsu, already inoculated, to the bioweapon.
The team is sealed in their prison, screaming out their anguish for this final betrayal of trust.
Of course, it’s easy for us to tell that this is Olly and Merlyn’s ruse. 1) Merlyn knows better than to expect mercy from Ra’s, and he is fighting to save Thea from the virus. 2) What better way to throw off suspicion than arouse it yourself, only to brush it away by performing the ultimate act of loyalty? 3) The team falls unconscious, rather than spitting blood, so I feel it’s safe to say that was just a sleeping gas. 4) That could have been proven if Tatsu had still been in the room, but Ra’s unwisely chose to remove her.
But the team, who can neither lie nor act, is left unaware of this. While “Al Sah-him” marries a most unwilling Nyssa.
Finally, Thea reunites with Roy, going by Jason now, and wants to run away with him. He thinks that’s not in her best interest, so he leaves the morning after and disappears. And he leaves her his Arsenal suit, encouraging her to suit up instead. Looking forward to seeing it!
“Is the Better Part Over”
What’s worst than a sister who refuses to save her brother’s life unless she’s paid one million dollars for it? A sister who refuses even when she’s been offered one million dollars. That’s not just petty and selfish, that’s spiteful and vindictive.
When she gets that check back, in pieces, from Beverly, Rayna breaks down, especially now that Deacon’s cancer has hit the news. She can’t function, even when meeting with Juliette. She’s been strong for so long, and there’s no shame in breaking. She retreats, and weeps. Finally, it’s Deacon’s turn to be there for her, and then she’s there for him, and they go perform together. They’ve gone through a lot, but they’re finally at that place where their relationship is symbiotic.
And then Beverly comes in, all tears and weeping how she wants to help Deacon live, and they embrace… and she gives Rayna a particularly nasty look that Deacon can’t see. And now I’m wondering, can she actually be an even worse person than she’s already displayed? Is she going to the unthinkable, and demand more money?! What kind of monster uses her brother’s life as leverage for extortion?
Meanwhile, Gunnar and Scarlett are a mess, with everything they feel about themselves, each other, and their current romantic entanglements, but it makes for some pretty good music when it counts. They’re a band now, complete with a manager, and shopping for a label. Rayna’s offer is easily the best on the table, but Scarlett hesitates. She and Gunnar are practically ready to kill each other over it, until she confides that she’s afraid of doing wrong by Rayna a second time. When they have to play together to cover for Deacon’s absence, they work things out afterward, and sign on with Highway 65.
Of course, Gunnar was also being rude to Caleb and Scarlett was being rude to Kylie, the irony of which is that both of them are reacting protectively of one another. Finally, they agree: personal lives are off limits. Still, Caleb is feeling insecure, despite Scarlett’s assurances. Kylie just wants to know what their story is, which leads into how she met Jason and was a big part of getting Gunnar through his death. Kylie feels terrible for poisoning Gunnar’s memories of him, but Gunnar is grateful. He knows the truth, and now he has some cherished memories with her given back to him. Hearing that, she gives him a tender kiss goodnight. Whether they’ll get back together is anyone’s guess, but it didn’t seem like it to me.
Also, Kylie’s making progress with her parents and Micah. They’ve every right be angry at her for running out on Micah, but they’ll see her, and talk to her, at least.
Juliette’s gone off the deep end, apparently. She doesn’t hold her daughter, she doesn’t count her among her greatest blessings, she doesn’t communicate, she’s demanding and selfish, she’s rude, she imperiously promises Highway 65 a complete album within two days, then deflects that onto Rayna when Avery accuses her of being so casual in not supporting Deacon now that his cancer is news. Oh, and then she bails on taking care of Cadence, after promising Avery she would, and having Emily do it instead. Deep end, off of, gone, she has.
Avery, Glenn, Emily, and Juliette’s doctor all confront her together, trying to help her get the help she clearly needs. She seems to be suffering from post-partum depression, which I know absolutely nothing about besides how harmful it can be for oneself and one’s loved ones.
Jeff is his usual scumbag self. He’s gotten Layla kicked off Jade’s huge concert, and told her she was drunk when she tweeted that photo. She’s beating herself up, and he talks her into a twitter war with Jade, burning that entire bridge of friendship. Bucky calls, angry, and Jeff lays the blame on Layla, and then tells Layla that Bucky is happy about the publicity. And this is the bed Layla has made and must sleep in now. As emphasized by a contract Jeff has her sign, shackling her to him for the rest of her career.
Will gets back from a weekend away with Kevin, and finds his father there waiting for him. This is the same man who left him on the side of the road with nothing because he was gay. Now he comes back, looking to make amends, and he tells Will those precious words, “I love you, son.” Will is suddenly put in a vulnerable place, and he can’t just push his father away. Kevin warns him of the danger he sees, that Will’s dad doesn’t see him, he sees a successful, straight man. Kevin also proves that we humans are often more angry on behalf of our loved ones than we are for ourselves.
Unfortunately, it looks like the tabloids have caught Will and Kevin together, and now Luke, just before the news breaks, has to decide what, if anything, he’s going to do about it.
Finally, Teddy’s task, to get himself off the hook for his crimes, is to infiltrate the circle of a corrupt Senator while wearing a wire. Makes perfect sense, really. They promised Natasha immunity in exchange for helping them nab a bigger fish, and now they’re doing the same with Teddy. I mean, a Senator? Much bigger fish than a lowly mayor! Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be very good at it, and he learns something which may implicate Rayna’s sister, Tandy. So he’s been fighting ostensibly to protect his girls from the fallout of his actions, but it looks like he’ll be doing them harm anyway. Sheesh, talk about your no win situation.
This is why we shouldn’t commit even little crimes in the first place. When you sell your soul, you’re serving it up for anyone to come and take a piece of it, and the vultures crowd in, and when everything goes to Hell and your family needs you, all that’s left is a tattered remnant of what you used to be.
The hunt for Conde continues, and at this point, there’s an even better reason for it than, “He might be an enemy, and one who had an affair with the king’s wife.” As Francis discovers, Conde is now definitely an enemy, and one with allies, armies, and a plan. His plan is to use Elizabeth’s backing, a Protestant host, and his own soldiers to gain the throne of France and take Mary as his wife. Considering that Elizabeth’s backing comes with expectations of marriage and Mary is Elizabeth’s most potent rival, I’d say that’s not a particularly well-considered plan, but ok. If he is victorious, perhaps he can cross that bridge when he comes to it, and before Elizabeth burns it out from under him.
As Conde’s host closes in, and strikes strategic blows, Francis tries to send Mary, Claude, Catherine, his brothers, and his son, in Lola’s care, away from the castle. It goes about as well as one might expect, meaning, absolute failure. Their one saving grace is that Mary is the first one caught in the trap Conde has waiting on the roads. As Conde will not harm her, she escapes to return to the castle and warn everyone of the danger without, and the danger within: Renaude is a traitor.
Mercenaries may be accused of having fickle loyalty, but a disloyal mercenary is one which cannot find work. Renaude’s betrayal is spurred by the simple, inescapable fact that Elizabeth captured his son some time ago, and now she’s given him to Conde, to hold over Renaude’s head. He was happily envisioning a future at court, with Kenna, as the loyal servant of King Francis. That has now been stolen away from him. With his treachery revealed just as he is entering the castle, he finds himself fighting for his life, and against Kenna’s husband, Bash.
It’s hard to say what would hurt more among these: being coerced with the life of your son, losing that hope of saving him so quickly, or, on top of it all, having Kenna scream out during the melee, in support of Bash, instead of him. And then to face Kenna’s anger, when there is so slim a chance of survival now. But Renaude’s own anger is directed at Elizabeth, and with what may be his final act, he tells Francis, through Kenna, everything he knows about Conde’s forces.
It’s a grim situation, being so completely outnumbered and with no chance of rescue. Spain would come, but all three messengers Francis sent have been captured or killed by Conde.
In such dire circumstance, people often reveal their truest selves, as Kenna revealed her instinct to protect Bash.
For Narcisse, the truth is that he has feelings for Lola. She has already guessed that his defaming of her was at Catherine’s command, and he comes to make amends with her, and say good-bye before she leaves. Though her evacuation is thwarted, that moment of honest tenderness between them has an impact.
In particular, it impacts Catherine’s temperament. She can be far more fickle than any mercenary’s reputation, more demanding than a king, more generous than a priest when she is happy, and more malicious than a pack of rabid wolves when she is angered. Earlier in the day, she gave Narcisse a grand gift, reuniting him with Arion, his favorite horse, and it’s much like being reunited with an old, cherished friend. When she is displeased by his attentions wandering to Lola, she invites him to dinner, lets him take a few bites of the meat, then reveals that the meat is from Arion. That is just sick! Arion was Narcisse’s steady friend in times of peace and war alike!It’s just one step short of serving Bash to Francis or Lola to Mary! The sheer horror and disgust running through Narcisse has to be overwhelming! In his place, I’d probably kill Catherine myself, right then and there! There are lines you just do not cross!
On a more noble note, Leith finally impresses Claude, earning her respect as he valiantly defends her life. When the first bout of fighting leaked into the halls, Leith proved his determination to protect her, while she runs and hides in the secret passageways. In the aftermath, safe in the tunnels, Leith reveals how Greer ended things between them, and Claude shows some actual sympathy. Now knowing he takes his job seriously, she remarks that she can take things seriously too.
And then she screams, seeing a dark, bloody specter behind Leith, but it’s gone in an instant. We are left wondering what she has just seen.
On a similar note, Bash brings his new love, Delphine the woods-going seer, to court for a visit. Which, with the siege forming outside, turns into a slightly longer stay. She and Kenna meet, and things seem friendly enough between them. But then Delphine comments that she doesn’t feel threatened by Kenna, because she sees a future with Bash, and children. She has to explain that is was only a possibility, not an absolute, but she had a crazy look in her eye when she said that about children. Then, in her guestroom, she performs a pagan ritual, involving Bash’s blood on his stained shirt (he accidentally cut himself earlier) and sex with what I suspect will be an unfortunate castle servant. If I’m right, the idea is to transfer the wounds Bash will receive to the servant, protecting him in the coming battle.
It’s a good thing to protect your man, but she is both callous in putting a stranger in Bash’s place without hesitation, and also evidently a bit more cavalier about who she sleeps with than Bash would appreciate. I suspect she has some mental and psychological issues.
As the situation grows worse and worse, Francis speaks with Conde man to man. Conde tries to convince him to surrender, but Francis has already refused to flee, so he’s going to stand his ground with his men. Whom, I might add, Francis and Bash are leading rather well in battle. Conde tells him that his men, his people, and Mary would be protected, and all it would cost is Francis’ head. Francis refuses the offer, of course, but not just in vain attempt to save himself. He is certain Elizabeth will see Mary dead if he does not protect her, and that is what he is fighting for: to protect his family, and his wife. Even after everything, he still loves her, and if there was any chance of success, he would surrender his head in an instant, if it would save Mary.
I would rather agree with Francis, but Mary steals away to Conde’s tent in the night. There, she, too, reveals herself: she is pregnant with Conde’s child. For this, even if Francis wins this battle, she will die. It’s a certainty. Even with Elizabeth’s shadow fallen over him, Conde is her last, best chance at survival. The episode ends with her begging him to save her.
Mary tends not to fold and betray others, to save herself, and I noticed she seemed protective of her womb several times in this episode, so I’m guessing that she’s being honest.
Yeah. More complications, and more of having the plot hinge on her love life.
This is easily one the most tense episodes yet in the series.
Juliette could have killed Munroe, playing puppeteer with Nick like that. Hank just managed to body-slam Munroe out of the way just in time. And Juliette whooped. This, while the Royals murdered her neighbors, whom she offered up like sacrificial lambs, for the convenient location of their homes. Then she slept with Kenneth in Nick’s bed, and lured Kelly into the trap, to her death.
While waiting for Kelly to come die, Juliette found where Nick put all the pictures of her, and of the two of them together: in a dresser drawer in his room, always close to him. That, when she cried and thought back on the happy times, and meeting Nick’s mother, that was her moment. It was her last chance to turn back, to stop what she was doing. But she didn’t. She went through with it. As she heard the fight downstairs, she turned away, taking slow, deliberate steps down her chosen path, into darkness.
Kelly Burkhardt is dead.
Because Juliette betrayed her.
Nick has no idea any of this is happening until the end. He’s a little preoccupied with exorcising Jack the Ripper from Renard, saving both the captain and Jack’s future victims. Adalind provides some good help, even while she’s confused by Nick not coming to hurt her. Her insight into the Ripper problem is invaluable, letting Nick and the others make a plan.
With everyone’s help, they manage to put on a show to convince Jack that they’re killing Renard, so he’ll leave. It goes about as planned, which is rather unusual, but no one’s about to complain over success! And it must feel like quite a victory, especially right after Wu was nearly made to witness Jack murder his next victim. Sheesh, talk about a last minute save!
The joy doesn’t have a chance to last long, though.
Trubel makes her return, and her presence in this episode is rather like Kelly’s was when we first met her. She visits the burnt-out trailer and scouts out Nick’s home, noticing that there are a lot of people of hostile intent all around it. After killing the thug tailing her, she books it for the spice shop, where she finds Nick and tells him something’s going on at his house. They race back, but too late.
Kenneth has Juliette at his side, and Diana in Juliette’s arms.
And he left behind Kelly’s head in a box for her son to find.
Nick has to be feeling overwhelming shock and unparallelled sorrow.
When he learns what happened, I’m betting rage will add itself to that mix.
Kenneth and Juliette had better pray Nick never catches up to them, because when he does, there will be Hell to pay.