This Week on TV, Jan. 23, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

The Drought! Is! Over! 😀

We only got a couple members of my lineup this week, but it’s still over! 🙂

Agent Carter returned for its second season with an exciting two-part premiere. The Flash and Arrow resumed broadcasting, the latter picking up after the cliffhanger it left us with over a month ago, both having already paved the way for Legends of Tomorrow, which I shall review shortly and add to the lineup. Oh, and the grand finale of Heroes Reborn.

Be warned: I did wax on a bit about Agent Carter and Heroes Reborn, but what else is new, eh?

agentcarterlogoAgent Carter

“The Lady in the Lake” & “A View in the Dark”

It’s been a year since Carter’s first season finale, and there’s been all sorts of crazy happening over on Agents of Shield. So, the million dollar question, how can they pick things up and re-hook the audience quickly, eh?

Well, the very first thing they did was bring back Dottie! Right off the bat! I was all, “Well! That was fast!” I was expecting her return to be a bit more drawn-out, but it was the first thing to happen!

Not that I was ever going to miss this show, but that certainly did it for me! 🙂

And then they managed to tie up her thread while also leaving it loose and free for her to come back again at any time, which, all things considered, I rather hope for! 🙂

On that note, I have to just say, I am impressed by how skillfully and precisely Marvel expanding the MCU’s continuity not only without breaking it (with exception to the Agent Carter short), but building on it. We’ve seen the symbol Carter is encountering on Agents of Shield. They explained its meaning in full barely two episodes ago, the week before their mid-season finale, which is some precise timing on Marvel’s part. The audience knows exactly what’s going on here, but Carter has no way of knowing. Hail Hydra. The real Hydra.

I know Red Skull only led their public face in Germany, but it’s still unnerving to see them already so strong in the USA within two years of the war’s end. Then again, they do thrive by dealing in all forms of corruption, and have done so for thousands of years, so, not really surprising. But it is heart-breaking, to see Shield’s founders battling their schemes without even knowing it, and knowing that the organization they have yet to create will be devastated by an enemy they think has already been vanquished.

There are times when knowing everything, or at least having critical pieces of intelligence, is a curse! A curse, I say! A curse!

Still… as the audience knows so much already, that makes the plot easy to follow, but as Marvel is very good at surprising us… well, now that they’ve supposedly tipped their hand, I can’t wait to see what they’re planning to spring on us! 🙂

Naturally, pretty much everyone who is not either SSR or a Jarvis is, in some way, related to Hydra (was anyone really surprised that Howard Stark’s big competitor from last season, the one whose facility was being used to make nitramene grenades, is Hydra?). For a moment, it looked like Peggy’s new friend, Dr. Wilkes, might have been Hydra, but he did risk his life trying to help, he was clearly not in cahoots with the masterminds, and he may well have died doing the right thing. I’m sort of hoping not, but, as the only other person at ground zero of the zero matter explosion seems to have been saturated with it… well, a quick death might be preferable to the agony of lingering, and no doubt that agony would spread to Carter, unable to save him.

…how much you wanna bet they have something like that in mind? 😉

But I’m rambling all over the place here, aren’t I?

To start again back at the beginning, Dottie is arrested, interrogated by an angry Thompson (who soon learns that he should fear Dottie a bit more than he does, as the only one she fears is Carter), after he pushes Carter off to LA to help Chief Sousa (Congrats for the promotion, Sousa! You actually earned it!), which costs him all the information the SSR might have gotten out of her through Carter’s work, before the friends of “powerful men who have even more powerful allies” (*coughcoughHydracough*) come to spring Dottie from the SSR and hand her over to the FBI. Yeah, no chance that will go wrong, is there? And the man who sees this done is an old friend of Thompson’s dad, the guy who got him into the SSR in the first place.

Thompson has a remarkable amount of status he hasn’t actually earned, doesn’t he? And he’s very self-interested, and “wants to be in the muck.” I just hope we’re not witnessing a fairly good man’s turn towards Hydra.

Meanwhile, Carter heads to LA to help Sousa help the cops solve a mystery involving a dead woman, supposedly the work of a returned serial killer, in a frozen lake. Oh, and it was her presence in the lake that froze it. And the coroner who was trying to perform an autopsy. And the dirty cop who just disposed of her body for the people responsible for her death due to exposure to an exotic particle, “zero matter.” Which is very mysterious and very, very, very dangerous.

Carter is assisted indirectly by Howard Stark, who, occupied with a defense contract and a movie company, is also setting up his luxurious residence. Which means he has Jarvis doing the work, including an ongoing feud with a flamingo named Bernard. Jarvis may be quite content with his wife, Anna, who is definitely a fantastic woman, but he’s also very bored ever since his first round of adventuring with Carter. Thus, he is happy to help in any way he can, so happy that he insists on at least shuttling her around, and he does not hesitate to come to her aid when she is in trouble. Jarvis is that kind of good man.

On the note of Jarvis and his not-so-blushing but certainly blush-worthy bride, Carter and Sousa both have certain romantic entanglements too. Alas, and of course, they’re not with each other. Carter is interested, but Sousa has a girlfriend now, and a ring for his girlfriend. He and Carter apparently just missed their window, though they clearly care very much for each other.

Meanwhile, Carter forms a connection with Jason Wilkes, a black man who has achieved employment at the illustrious Isodyne company, as a scientist. Among his discoveries: ethanol turned into a wine that Carter finds exquisite. Also, he’s helping work on the zero matter material, having designed a way to cage it. As things go to Hell in a hand basket, with the Hydra Council cutting their losses on the zero matter project (scrubbing every trace of it, including a dead body, which involves murdering two unlucky SSR agents to get to said body), Wilkes and Carter find themselves dodging bullets and trying to steal the zero matter. Wilkes had some serious hesitation in turning against Isodyne, but he did, showing Carter some tremendous trust. But then, as she’s dealing with some thugs to secure their exit, Wilkes is intercepted just as he has the zero matter in hand.

That brings us to our latest villains, the ones who use a dirty cop to clean up an unfortunate body, then disposed of that cop before he could rat on them. And thus we are introduced the man behind Isodyne, and a member of the local Hydra Council, Calvin Chadwick, and his wife, an actress of some notoriety, Whitney Frost. Frost is definitely the power behind the throne, so to speak. When she learns about Hydra cutting her favorite project, and “encouraging” Chadwick to focus on his campaign for the Senate, she goes to steal the zero matter herself, colliding with Wilkes. The containment unit is shattered, and they both run. We know she got out, but now has zero matter inside her flesh, but we don’t know about Wilkes. If he survived, then it’s likely he’s infected too.

Wilkes’ death, real or not, hits Carter hard. Though she only knew him for a few days at most, they did form a legitimate connection. Not nearly so hard as Carter’s distress signal hit Sousa. She was in shock. He was enraged. Like it or not, he still has deep feelings for Carter. If they don’t come up with some way for them to be together now, I will be disappointed.

On which note… that girlfriend of his. Of course it wouldn’t be too much to think that Hydra would send someone to sink teeth into an SSR chief, but, then again, that’s rather half-expected these days, isn’t it? Perhaps she’s genuine, though when it’s just her and Sousa… I dunno, it feels sort of like a dream, like the sort that people experienced when under hypnosis in Season 1. I guess it’s up in the air right now, and with back-stabbing shadows lurking around every corner already, I could be seeing something where there’s nothing.

All in all, Agent Carter has made a strong second debut! I love everything with Carter and Jarvis together, and now they’ve expanded that to Anna, Sousa, Wilkes, and Sousa’s girlfriend. It’s all so human and organic, the chemistry between these people! It’s fantastic to watch! And I love how they included Rose again, manning the secret front entrance. That has to be rather trying for her, what with the fake talent agency she’s running, turning away each and every hopeful star that somehow manages to find them no matter the public misdirection.

Basically, they take all the great stuff about Season 1, and build on it! 🙂

I do rather miss Angie, though! 😦 I know, she’s only a minor character, really, but still, she was so delightful last season. I hope we get to see her again!

Oh, and I love how, without ever seeing Stark, we see much of who the man is, especially his eccentric, womanizing ways. (“Good Lord, is that a mirror?!” ROFL!)

Flash-TV-Show-Teaser-TrailerThe Flash

“Potential Energy”

This week had surprisingly little action, so to speak, but plenty of drama. Which fits, I guess, when the villain’s superpower is slowing everything down. Not much a chance for an outright fight between a speedster and Turtle, ya know?

The West family has the drama of a new member who sort of crashed in, sort of wants to be part of the family, but sort of doesn’t and is sort of trying to leave town. Wally West is apparently a drag racer, and a pretty successful one, and he has issues. He isn’t really comprehending how Joe could be such a great detective, yet not know about him. He also has issues seeing Barry as the West’s adopted family member, like his place has been filled all this time and he never even suspected. Joe and Iris, on their end, are sort of trying to push things and draw him in too quickly but they can’t just do that. Everyone has to work together on this, moving forward, but not too quickly.

Cait and Jay talk about getting his speed back, so he could help Barry fight Zoom, but Jay has already figured out that the only way to get it back is directly from Zoom, which sort of involves defeating him first. He’s uncharacteristically forceful, though, so Cait sneaks behind his back… and discovers that he’s sick, and soon to die from it, unless he gets his speed back. He’s sorry for putting her through this, especially after Ronnie’s death, but he wasn’t expecting to connect with her like that either.

Which, honestly, they haven’t really done any of these romances justice, have they? Iris and Eddie, Barry and Iris, Barry and Linda, Cait and Ronnie, Cait and Jay, Cisco and Kendra… romance is apparently not this production team’s strong suit! Just sayin’! Even now, with Barry and Patty, which, despite knowing that, too, must surely end, I have enjoyed more than any other, from their first meeting, through everything that has since followed. And now, it would appear, they’re writing her out, very quickly and easily.

Just as Barry is intending to tell her about his double-identity, while balancing romance and crime fighting – fyi, it is a spectacularly bad idea to bring the woman you love and have nightmares about being threatened to a gala you are attending specifically to wait for a powerful criminal you have no countermeasure against yet – he seems to vanish and leave her hanging, he hesitates to tell her, and she tells him that she’s leaving everything about Central City behind so she can become a CSI like him. That was her original plan, but her revenge quest delayed that by a few years. But now she can go, and intends to.

Romance: not a Flash specialty!

As for our last bit of drama, Wells is working around the clock, on his own, trying to stop Zoom. He’s playing both sides now, working to make Barry stronger and faster, but also looking for ways to slow Zoom down. The Turtle, this week’s freak, offers some intriguing possibilities there, as he’s able to stop everything around him, even the Flash, to a point. He’s obsessed with taking with other people hold most dear, and that includes, on occasion, a living person which he kills and keeps, in that order. Seeing the Flash save Patty, he kidnaps her, and Barry just manages to power through Turtle’s abilities to take him down.

Wells, we see, is truly willing to do anything to protect Jesse. He is doing as Zoom wants, to buy his daughter time. When he has the chance, he goes down and does something to Turtle, involving sticking a medical gun far up his nose, either injecting something or taking a piece of brain as a sample, I’m not quite sure which. While that sort of commitment could still work against Team Flash, Wells is certainly not keen on just doing what Zoom wants.

He has very good reason to fear what Zoom will do, as the very first thing Zoom did to make his debut was slaughter an entire swat team, except for one man… who he let live just long enough to tell the story, before going to his home and killing him that night. Zoom is very much evil, yes. And Barry is outclassed.

Oh, and the Reverse-Flash makes a surprise return.

…that’s going to be interesting! Questions abound!

Arrow-logo-header-Season-4Arrow

“Blood Debts”

Last we saw Team Arrow, Felicity had just been seriously injured.

Olly reacts about like one would expect, but I do wish we had been given just a little more time for the emotional weight of that to settle on him and the team before diving headlong into his customary pummel-the-flunkies routine. We see Olly coming unhinged at the corners, his rage driving him back into the darkness he spent so long climbing out of, but I didn’t really feel it, ya know?

I felt it much more with Diggle starting to routinely pound on his brother to try and get info about Damien. That made it much more real as Diggle started to change tactics, listening to wife. Brute force, intimidation, interrogation, these were not working. A little brotherly love, on the other hand, just might. And as it turns out, we learn more about his and Andy’s past. Andy was caught dealing drugs once before, which makes me wonder how Digs could stay in denial over that, but it’s probably because he thought he had straightened his brother out. But having opened up, Digs gets some info from Andy after all, and it seems like a dead end, but then it proves pivotal at a crucial moment.

I could also feel it more with Thea, still struggling with her lingering issues, and possibly a trace of the old blood lust. She breaks things off with her sort-of boyfriend, who expresses both confidence in her and a willingness to be patient. I am highly suspicious of this secondary character who displays such an interest in her, but I might have become a little jaded as far as Arrow is concerned.

Thea and the others have even more to deal with when Lance lets Olly know where he might find Damien, but arrives to find the Ghosts dead and Anarky’s symbol painted in a significant spot. The crazy murderer is back, and back for revenge on everyone he sees as having wronged him somehow. Thea thinks she should be on that list, as, in her blood-lusty rage, she set him on fire. He doesn’t see it that way, being grateful for “setting him free,” and highly interested in her, believing they are kindred spirits. Mind you, when she was in thrall to that blood lust, he was probably right. This time, however, she defeats him and captures him without killing him, or even really hurting him too bad.

That’s two for the light, Digs and Thea, and zero for the darkness.

That’s also after Olly captured him first, fully intent on torturing him for info, until Laurel lets the cops have him, so Olly springs him and sends him after Damien. Either Anarky would kill Damien, or lead Olly to him. Unfortunately, that puts Damien’s innocent family in Anarky’s sights, and runs the risk of an unknown number of other casualties. So, yes, Olly was racing back towards the dark when his light, Felicity, was threatened and badly hurt. Fortunately, Felicity and Digs both helped him pull back just in time.

Speaking of, her mother is justifiably angry at Olly for not being there during Felicity’s surgeries (I say again, they could have given the emotional weight of things more time). As is, she’s been paralyzed. I was not the only one drawing comparisons between her and Oracle, of the Batman franchise, at that. I’m not certain that’s a good idea, and it certainly feels recycled, but I’m not certain it’s a bad idea either. Personally, I’m going to wait and see how this turns out. I think she could rock in this situation, and maybe “Mr. Terrific” will make his debut partially to help her out! 🙂

Anyway, Felicity persuades Olly that he should take care not to lose the good man he’s become. So he goes after Anarky again, arriving just in the nick of time to save Damien’s family, an act which barely warrants enough gratitude that, honor among villains, he refrains from killing the Green Arrow right then.

We then immediately learn that his wife is fully aware and complicit in Damien’s schemes, so, not-so-innocent. They have some grand vision of restarting the world or something typical like that. Well, I say, “typical,” but that’s actually the first time that has been a villain’s goal on Arrow. Merlyn wanted to destroy, Slade wanted revenge, Ra’s wanted a successor, and Damien wants a rebirth for the entire world. I’m sure he intends to make it nice, just, fair world that he happens to rule over as its undisputed master.

Finally, back in the past, Conklin delivers Olly to Reiter, with proof of his guilt, which makes the boss rather angry. Conklin takes great pleasure in whipping Olly, but when Reiter sees the mystic, glowing tattoo – thank you, Constantine – he halts the whipping, saying he has a need for Olly to remain alive. So Olly uses that to guarantee the woman’s safety, and they get locked up. She still has no idea Olly killed her brother, albeit in self-defense, but she’s probably right: they probably would have gotten along pretty well.

It’s confirmed, now, that Felicity is not the one in the grave. In fact, she and Olly are more committed to each other than ever before. (…drat…) But whoever is in that grave, it’s hit them all hard enough that Olly is determined to kill Damien… and Felicity agrees. Which is huge.

Just who is the dead person? Thea? Digs? Lance? Felicity’s mom? I was theorizing for a bit that it might be Olly’s son, and I was briefly considering the boy’s mother too, but I don’t know that Felicity would be so affected by the death of virtual strangers as to condone killing anyone at all. It’s got to be someone close to them. My money is currently… wavering between Lance and her mother.

heroes-rebornHeroes Reborn

“Project Reborn”

That… was pretty good. 🙂

This one wasn’t so much the characters trapped in a shrinking box. This was the box having shrunk so tightly around them that everything is getting crushed, right on the brink of collapsing, that precise, eternal, fleeting moment that separates “before breaking” from “after breaking.” The heat and pressure are on.

…heat and pressure… isn’t that what turns coal into diamonds? 😉

The smallest thread is the one following Carlos, his nephew, and Micah. They take Farrah to a hospital, finding it abandoned and without power. Micah takes care of the latter, and the other two remove the bullet and keep Farrah alive. Then they find themselves as the sole source of help for a number of others who have been injured and come hoping to find a hospital full of staff. Instead, they have a soldier and two Evos. Uphill battle, but they meet the task head-on.

Meanwhile, Erica’s plan has achieved apparent success.

Within the Eternal Fortress, Tommy is trapped in an endless, shifting maze where time, space, direction… all of these are meaningless. He’s caught by a cable from behind, hooking him up as a Renautus server, much like an untold number of other Evos. With his powers, everyone wearing one of those watches is taken to the future, safe from the HELE. There, Erica is happy as a clam at high tide, standing on top of her new, empty, barren world with her few, chosen people, the Evos buried underneath.

Fortunately, Ren and Emily are a combination of clever and lucky. They find Otomo and the original Miko, and with all obligations met, goals achieved, and ties between them and Renautus severed, Otomo is finally free to strike at his former masters. First: he kills Erica’s chief minion. Second: he sends Reckless Ren into Evernow to rescue Tommy.

Happily, Ren finds his Miko still lingering there, albeit only for a moment. At last, he’s able to truly fight alongside her. Unfortunately, not only are they ending the game a second time, but the game is falling apart already (more “everything is shattering as the box is shrinking”), and taking Miko with it. They find each other just in time to part once more. After they kick some butt, that is.

Within his prison, Tommy is able to make the most of his confinement. He runs into himself, who is able to explain what’s going on and how to get out. He has to “go back and remember.” The Eternal Fortress is a prison that holds all of his memories, even the ones he’s forgotten, or been made to forget. Starting with one, he’s able to gather more and more back to him. He learns one thing he can do that Hiro couldn’t: be in two places at once. He also gets a glimpse at a dire, painful memory he instinctively wanted to avoid, one where he met Malina as a child, and they touched… and it was most painful.

Just as Tommy gets all his memories back, Ren and Miko have fought their way to his prison, and are drawing the sword that seals him inside. The two warriors bid their farewells to each other, with Ren promising to never forget Katana Girl. The first and last thing Tommy sees of Evernow as he is released, and the game falls apart, is Miko, proud and honorable warrior, saluting him. It’s heart-breaking… but they are all warriors, and honor binds such together across all chasms of time, space, and death. That is a potent solace for parted comrades.

Though Tommy, who sheds that name and embraces the name of Nathan again, is now loose, Erica believes she has one more ace up her sleeve: if he goes back in time and succeeds, then everything and everyone in her Gateway future will simply cease to exist. This includes his girlfriend and his mother. The woman is using the women he cares for to try and manipulate him one last time. But, small detail: Nathan now knows he can be in two places at once, and he’s had the chance to practice, both thanks to Erica’s successful imprisonment of him. So he does exactly that, stands in two places at once. One of him goes back to save the world, and the other stays, anchoring the timeline’s existence, just long enough to bring everyone back to the present.

Everyone, that is, except for Erica. For all she’s done, he leaves her behind in the false future, the impending void, alone and screaming.

I couldn’t ask for anything more poetic! She dies trapped in the very same future she did so many reprehensible things to create! 🙂

So, while Erica’s timeline is the shattering of the shrinking box, the present is the breaking of the people within that box.

We see Taylor, for just a moment, standing in a deserted Gateway, having chosen her fate, and now awaiting its arrival.

Luke gets Malina and Quentin to the Gateway clock tower… or, he gets them almost there. They can’t quite make it with what time is left before the first solar flare hits. So he buys them the time. He knows better than to ask forgiveness for what he’s done, the many innocent people he’s murdered. But Malina saved his life when he tried to end it, and there’s a reason for that. He’s gotten her this far. He’s picked up the slack after Noah’s disappearance. He’s stopped Joanne. Now… he just needs to get Malina a little bit further… just a little more time. He trusts Quentin to look after Malina, take her those last few steps. And then he steps out into the open, and looks up at the sun which gives him his power. He absorbs it, as much as he can, and more, rising as if drawn to that celestial body, glowing brighter and brighter… and he explodes in a brilliant flash of solar power, negating much of the first solar flare just before it hits.

Luke is not forgiven. But he is redeemed in death. He has offered the ultimate atonement within his power: he has died, to save others.

Quentin honors Luke’s wishes, getting Malina to the tower, taking her inside to shelter from falling satellite debris. There, they encounter Phoebe one last time. The girl is deranged and mad, clinging to an empty hope that Erica will come back for her and her brother. She’s so unwilling to believe, and she lashes out, trying to kill Malina. Quentin begs her to stop, but it doesn’t work. He tries to convince her, but it doesn’t work. So he apologizes for failing her, telling her, straight up, “We were wrong.” Phoebe’s last words are, “You’re lying!” The words she should have directed to Erica. Quentin shoots her, and grieves. But, in the end, Malina is saved.

And there she stands, at the bottom of the clock tower in Odessa, screaming defiance up at the sky as she fights, with everything she has, against the fire coming to burn the Earth.

Nathan makes his entry, then (“About time!” Oh, Malina, if only you knew!), and they try to join hands and share power… but it doesn’t work. In fact, it nearly kills them. Confused and desperate, Nathan has to go back in time to that memory he partially avoided. It turns out, there needs to be a third person, a conduit, standing between Nathan and Malina, for their powers to work together. Small detail: that person dies.

Not knowing what else to do, Nathan goes back and saves Noah from that falling car, showing him the same thing Nathan himself just learned. Angela is able to guess, from her dreams, who the Conduit is supposed to be. So does Noah. And without a moment’s hesitation or regret, Noah makes the ultimate sacrifice, channeling his grandchildren’s power up into the sky, creating a force field, at the last possible instant, to shield the entire planet from the solar flare.

Claire Bennett died bringing these two into the world. Noah Bennett died helping them save it.

The shrinking box is broken. And the world is filled with possibilities.

Cut to three months later. Quentin is being held by the authorities, questioned as to who the Evos really are, as if they were some formal organization instead of just a bunch of normal people who happen to have abilities. Quentin tells them exactly this, the Evos who saved the world are just people. Really good people.

The surviving heroes are shown leading their respective lives. Nathan and Emily in the ice cream shop. Malina attending her first day of normal high school. Carlos and Farrah fighting crime while his nephew pouts at not being allowed to join them. Ren and Miko practicing kendo under Otomo’s tutelage. All of them living their own lives, a mixture of ordinary and extraordinary.

We don’t see Matt’s final fate, or Hiro’s, though we can guess that Hiro, like Mohinder, met his end fighting Harris several episodes ago. I doubt Matt fared very well either in the middle of nowhere, right when everyone was taking shelter far, far away. We don’t see Micah or Taylor, but as they were on the winning side, we can assume they’re doing well, wherever they are.

All the pertinent threads are tied off.

…until, in the last moments, as Quentin is saying, “This is just the beginning,” they have someone leaving tarot cards for Nathan and Malina to find, and Angela tells Malina, “It’s a message from your father, Malina. It means he’s coming back for you and your brother. And this time no one will be able to protect you.”

…SAY WHAT?!

Ok, I thought this was just, like, one special thing, a single season to give the series a proper ending, wrap it up, and done. We’ve seen the end fates of a lot of the first show’s main characters, the world has Evos everywhere and everyone knows it, and the end of the world has been averted. It was all pretty darn good, I’d say!

Did they just want to leave it open-ended, just in case? Or is this someone’s idea of a campaign to keep the show revived and returning again? Or is it like with that last Torchwood series, that neatly sliced through all the tied-off threads, apparently just for the heck of it?

I have no idea!

All in all, I loved the show, and the finale, even with a few drama ex deus ex machina moments. But it’s a pet peeve of mine: a story that is, in any way, unfinished.

Just who and what is Malina and Nathan’s father, why would they need protecting from him, where’s he been, what’s his agenda, and what’s with the tarot cards?

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