This Week on TV, Feb. 6, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

Things be heating up all across the board! Here, at the sort of mid-seasonish point for most of my lineup, this is where they need to build up the ongoing suspense, and delve into the characters, and maybe upset things a little. Most of them did that fairly well. Agent Carter and Grimm were outstanding on that count, The Flash worked towards a change in the game, and Arrow had one of its strongest episodes of the season this week. Legends of Tomorrow fell a little short, but they are still new and juggling eight protagonists.

agentcarterlogoAgent Carter

“Smoke & Mirrors”

I mentioned last week how Carter and Frost are different in ways that make them similar. This week, we got a peek into both of their pasts.

Carter, surprise, surprise, was a tomboy. She was the knight rescuing the princess, she played rough with her brother, and she frustrated her mother who tried to get her to behave like a lady. I doubt I’m the only one who snickered at that idea, but moving on. She was engaged once, as it turns out. She was a “lady” of sorts, and her fiance was all too happy for that. Her brother, on the other hand, knew the real Carter, knew that she wasn’t being herself, just putting on a facade until it became second nature to her. He recommended her for the SSR, and while she didn’t accept… she didn’t throw away the letter, either. She wanted to go to war. When her brother died in battle… well, that’s when she couldn’t continue the charade of being someone she wasn’t. She went to war and became who she wanted to be, strong and independent without a reliance on her appearance.

Frost was smart and technically skilled even from an early age. Wilkes would later describe her genius as being unquantifiable, beyond himself, and one could easily argue that she’s beyond either Howard Stark or his future son, Tony. But in her beginning, she was verbally abused by her mother, who was used by an old man in exchange for the roof over their heads. When the man cheated (oh, how surprising) and withdrew his financial support, her mother blamed her, going on to mock her academic aspirations, saying it was only a pretty face she could rely on. And as her eventual success as an actress rested entirely on her appearance, the world, it would seem, proved her mother right. And now we have Whitney Frost, who uses literal lab rats to gain control of her murderous powers, who discards the fair face that has become her constant mask, and who kills people to serve her own ends, as she finally becomes “whoever she wants to be.”

One woman defies the social conventions of the day, and the other is consumed by them.

Back in the main plot, Carter is apparently using her vacation days to stay in LA and continue her investigation. She and Jarvis subdue one Mr. Hunt, working together, beating him a lot, and using substantial tranquilizers. (“Jarvelous!” LOL!) Sousa catches them in the act and gets angry because Carter went behind his back instead of letting him help her. She goes into battle, he intends to be there too, at her side, as an equal. Carter had some good reasons for decisions, but Sousa was exactly right anyway.

So, they interrogate Hunt together, using psychological and germ warfare, and manage to get some information out of him, enough to get a warrant for the Arena Club. Unfortunately, just as the SSR is arming up to invade, they get invaded instead, and by a most fearsome force: bureaucrats. And at their head, Vernon Masters of the War Department. He makes some none-too-subtle threats to Carter, and later to Sousa, that if they keep pushing the Arena Club, then they or, more likely, their friends will be labeled Communist spies, like they did to Wilkes. That’s a very legitimate and terrifying threat, I don’t mind saying, especially with the SSR in LA already being audited, their evidence on Isodyne and the Arena Club being confiscated.

Sheesh, small wonder Hydra was able to infect and destroy Shield from within. The Arena Club’s political connections are already undermining the SSR, and eventually they’ll inject Shield with Hydra operatives, just as Carter injected Hunt with that particularly bad cold virus.

But Sousa and Carter are undeterred, and now they know they need to work off the books. To that end, they return to Jarvis and Wilkes to hatch another scheme.

Somewhat related note: Carter’s been getting close to Wilkes, which is ironic since they can’t actually touch right now, and Sousa’s noticed this and has feelings about it despite his intention to propose to his girlfriend, which proposal Carter is sorry for messing up by being in mortal danger at the time he was going to propose. Yeah, complicated much? 😉

Oh, and Wilkes is being drawn into the darkness of a zero matter rift. Small detail, that. He’s holding on, partially thanks to Carter, but it has got to be exhausting. How long can he hold out? How long could any man hold out that way he is? The clock is ticking, and Carter doesn’t even know she’s racing against time.

So, we now have Carter, Jarvis, Sousa, and Wilkes, and they stage an escape for Hunt, sending him back to his masters. Chadwick is quite angry, of course, but Frost, she is cold, and just “cleans up the mess,” calm as can be. I know Hunt was a bad guy, so it’s not like he didn’t bring his eventual fate on himself, but, still, what a way to go. This leaves Team Carter scratching their heads, not sure what just happened, while Chadwick is now justifiably terrified of his wife.

Flash-TV-Show-Teaser-TrailerThe Flash

“Fast Lane”

So, I was wrong about Wells. He is stupid enough to betray the team. No one in their right mind would trust Zoom, but, then again, Wells is a parent whose daughter has been stolen from him, so he’s not really in his mind. He creates a device that can be used to steal a speedster’s speed, and while the principle could be used on Zoom (and save Jay’s life), it apparently needs to be in continuous contact with the speedster in question while they’re running around, so not yet applicable as a weapon. He steals about two percent of Barry’s speed, giving it to Zoom, who demands he get the rest, or he’ll torture Jesse.

Hmm, makes me wonder, why isn’t Zoom taking Barry’s speed himself?

That small theft of Barry’s speed has significant consequences. At a pivotal moment, when this week’s tar-themed freak endangers bystanders as he pursues his vendetta – yeah, yeah, been there, done that, it’s not given much attention – that slight decrease in Barry’s speed puts Iris in the hospital.

Wally is still drag-racing, it being his drug of choice as he tries to deal with his mother’s death and the emotional turmoil she threw him into with Iris and Joe. Iris tries to convince him to stop, tries to convince Joe to act against this a bit more strongly than he is, and she tries to stop the races altogether, using her skills as an intrepid reporter. She gathers some evidence, puts together an article, and confronts the man running the races, who threatens her, only to find that she’s recorded the conversation. That night, Wally races again, when Tar Pit shows up and derails the race, causing an accident, and Barry just barely can’t stop a piece of glass that impales Iris in the shoulder.

The close call wakes everyone up: Wally confesses his reasons and stays at Iris’ side, Joe confronts his fears and while he doesn’t blame Wally for the accident he does have a hard, honest talk with Wally, and Barry realizes he’s getting slower.

Barry had also inserted himself into working with Wells, trying to close the breaches. Wells tries to push him and the rest of the team away, but Barry’s persistence pays off. Not only do they figure out how to close the breaches, but Wells can’t stop himself from genuinely caring about Barry. He confesses his betrayal, lets Joe beat them, lets them lock him up, and then just asks to go home. They can close the breaches now and be safe from Zoom, and Wells can fight his battle to save Jesse.

But, typical Team Flash, instead of either locking him up or letting him go, they decide, as a group, to go to Earth-2 with him, to fight Zoom and get Jesse back together.

Arrow-logo-header-Season-4Arrow

“Unchained”

This has to be one of the best episodes yet of the season.

First, we check in on Nyssa, who has been kept prisoner for a little while now. She has friends, though, and the League is divided between her followers and Malcolm’s. They free Nyssa and take the fortress of Nanda Parbat. They’ve found something called the Lotus, which Nyssa and her trusted lieutenant go to obtain in Kyushu. Nyssa finds another familiar face there, namely Katana, aka Tatsu Yamashiro, guarding the Lotus on behalf of the Christened Order. The two women fight, and find themselves evenly matched, so Nyssa convinces Tatsu to listen, as it’s a matter which concerns Oliver Queen.

Back in Star City, Team Arrow is dealing with a thief of particular skill and alacrity. It turns out to be Roy, who’s back in town on the orders of a mastermind which tracked him down and is blackmailing him, and thereby threatening the team. Once Felicity severs that electronic leash, Arsenal is back on the team to finish the mission.

I just have to say: it was great having Roy back! It was only for an episode, and he’s gone again, but, still, great! He really brought something special to the team dynamic, and his relationship with both Thea and Ollie was spectacular. They still have those connections, as they don’t simply disappear, even across time and space.

Thea, who is now at death’s door for her choice to deny her returned blood lust, has the chance to speak to the love of her life one more time. While Ollie flirts with the idea of using Damien’s powers to save Thea, and Merlyn, of all people, has to talk him out of it, Thea and Roy bare their souls to each other. If it’s the last time they ever see each other, I can’t imagine anything better than what they did, having her charge him to go, live a happy, normal life, a sentiment he returned by saying he’d want, very much, to that alongside her. She loves him, he loves her. She’s dying, but life goes on.

Meanwhile, Felicity is striving to balance both her activities as Overwatch with her position as the CEO of Palmer Tech. She has to make a pivotal presentation to the board, and her rehearsal does not go well. She’s so clumsy and uncertain that her practice audience suggests letting someone else handle the presentation. Well, in a way, that’s exactly what they got. As Felicity wages cyber-warfare with the self-titled hacker, “the Calulator,” she swings by Palmer Tech and picks up a piece of equipment, and in those moments, she is a force of nature.

Curtis – who, by the way, gets mad points for fighting Roy like that instead of letting him take the battery – points out that there are, in fact, two Felicities in the building. Palmer Tech needs the force of nature, not the one who’s doubting herself. So, after she kicks the Calculator’s cyber-butt, that’s exactly who Palmer Tech gets: Felicity Smoake, the Unstoppable.

…well, almost unstoppable. At the end, we see the older man she’s been fighting against standing in front of her. And she says, “Dad.”

“Who’s shocking return can we look forward to next?” That would be your dad, Felicity. And you’ve already collided. We look forward to seeing it again, this time with you aware of who you’re fighting.

Between Nyssa and Tatsu, Ollie and Merlyn, and Felicity and her father (not to mention Roy and Team Arrow, and they flirted with Ollie and Damien) the line between friend and foe can be very thin at times.

Concerning that last, Nyssa returns at the end of the episode, with the Lotus in her possession, finding Ollie at Thea’s side as she’s fallen into a coma. She will give him the Lotus, freely, and he can use it to counteract the Pit’s influence over her, saving her life and freeing her from the blood lust at the same time. All Ollie needs to do is kill Malcolm Merlyn.

Really, I cannot think of anything more appropriate than that. Merlyn used Thea’s life to get Ollie to (try to) kill the old Ra’s al’Ghul, a series of events that lead directly to Thea’s current condition. So now Nyssa’s plan is to use Thea’s life to get Ollie to kill Merlyn, the new Ra’s al’Ghul, and Thea’s current condition can be corrected. Poetic, no?

Shame. Merlyn is a scumbag, and things were bound to break down eventually, but the two men did just find common cause over Thea and Merlyn did just prevent Ollie from making a terrible mistake. As Damien’s wife is already running for mayor in direct competition with Ollie’s campaign, while Damien himself keeps to the shadows, they really don’t need to form any ties with HIVE, ya know?

Basically… while Laurel and Digs had smaller roles in this episode – which is an ongoing problem they seem to be having with them, especially Laurel – they had so much good stuff this episode! Old faces, old friends, new enemies, character development, emotional connection between the characters, and a bit of action, with Felicity able to be the main powerhouse of this episode… and it all felt balanced. That’s something that used to be much more common in Arrow, and it was great to see it again.

Oh, and we saw Shado again, visiting Ollie in a vision back in the past. Reiter tortures him, trying to get some information from him about that tattoo, and “what it told him,” as well as why he needed the maps (that would be to get ahead of you and stop you, Reiter). Apparently, he was pushed so close to death that the dead came to visit. Shado’s council is simple: he must come out of the darkness his has descended into, and the only way out is through. Step 1: confess to his newest girlfriend that he was the one who killed her brother.

She takes it about as well as one might think, breaking down in hurt, angry tears.

And what is that stone Ollie suddenly has, given to him by a ghost?

Legends-of-Tomorrow-LogoLegends of Tomorrow

“Blood Ties”

Clearly, I over-estimated Rip Hunter’s plan B, by thinking he had one at all. Small wonder the Time Masters are reluctant to let him do some good, as he’s apparently flying by the seat of his pants anyway.

Sara’s the one who comes up with Plan B. If they can’t take Savage out directly, then they’ll just chip away at his strength and resources. First target: his wallet. They mean to take away his fortune, so they try infiltrating a bank, only to find it already being run by Savage’s disciples. Sara cuts them down like wheat, and afterward reveals to Rip that she’s a blood-lusty monster. Interesting dichotomy between the two: Sara wrestling with the act of killing people, while Rip is haunted by how he has not killed. Specifically, Savage. He went all the way back to Ancient Egypt to kill Savage, but hesitated for one moment, and it cost him the fight. Ever since then, Savage and his disciples have called him “Karim” (I think). In Savage’s cult, he is their version of the Devil.

Of course, now we are seeing some of the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey knots taking shape. Savage kills Rip’s family, so Rip travels back in time to oppose Savage at every turn, and then Savage learns that his ancient foe is from the future and he has a wife and son there, waiting for Savage to kill them. Quite the cosmic pretzel, that!

Meanwhile, Cold and Heatwave have Jacks fly them to a museum to steal an emerald – not kryptonite, apparently, and not part of the battle against Savage – so Cold can give it to his father who would get caught stealing it. He hopes that keeping his father out of prison will prevent him from beating him, his mother, or his sister. Unfortunately for that hope, his father is caught selling the emerald instead. As Rip said, “Time wants to happen.”

As for the last three surviving Legends, Ray and Professor Stein are scrambling to save Kendra, who apparently has microscopic dagger shards in her bloodstream, moving towards her heart. Ray shrinks down, heads in, makes some progress, then gets spooked when his suit gets damaged. Shaken by this, and still haunted by the loss of his fiance, Ray withdraws, giving up, filled with self-doubt. Stein manages to get his head back in the game, though, with a little speech that turns out to be mostly lies. The support is what Ray needs, though, and he dives in, clearing the dagger shards from Kendra’s bloodstream. She’s stuck in a trance, though, still connected to what’s happening to Carter’s body.

Savage, it seems, shares out Hawk blood with his chosen disciples, extending their lifespans for about an extra century. Rip and Sara crash the party, and it’s a trap they knowingly walk into, but they’re saved by the arrival of Cold, Heatwave, and Jacks. As it turns out, there are more ways than one to have people who will follow you into Hell.

That is one of many things Savage, with his primitive might-makes-right mind, fails to understand.

Now, while I can understand Sara having to struggle against her blood lust (which Arrow has now shown us will kill her if she does not sate it), there’s a bit of a plot hole once Rip manages to cut Savage’s throat. Seriously, why not just keep him on ice? Like, say, a large, solid block of ice in the middle of Antarctica? Then they just wait for Kendra to heal, take the holy dagger, and revive him just enough for her to kill him. Seems simple to me.

Instead, they leave him where he lay and travel forward in time to challenge his schemes again, in 1986. Should be fun.

grimm_title_cardGrimm

“A Reptile Dysfunction”

Ok, so Hadrian’s Wall is not the Resistance. Too bad, I kind of liked having a less-generic name for them.

HW, it turns out, is a branch of the federal government that doesn’t seem to exist. They take skilled and powerful operative, break them, give them “rooms” that are actually cells, and turn them into their agents. HW has been fighting Black Claw, a group of wesen that wants to make it so the wesen rule the world, much like Hitler attempted. They’re stirring up trouble all over the world, and the HW is fighting back. Thus their interest in Grimms, especially one of Nick’s caliber. They’re also interested in Munroe and Rosalee, who happily reunite with Trubel. As they’ll all be in this one together, Munroe, Rosalee, Hank, and Nick all agree they need to make this decision, whether or not to join, together.

Personally, while HW may be useful and have resources, the way they obtain their agents makes me highly distrustful of them. They may be the last, best chance to fight Black Claw, on every front, especially now that the Council has been broken, but that doesn’t necessarily make them the good guys. If I were to join people like that, it would be out of sheer desperation, which also does not sit so well with me. I might be willing to work with the Wall, but not for them. Not unless I had a compelling reason to get on the inside.

While that’s going on, including Eve, whom the HW gave a new lease on life to, and Meisner, who was forcibly recruited like Trubel, discussing the merits and pitfalls of bringing Nick into their fold – and Nick gets the chance to visit his mother’s grave and mourn properly – we have another freak of the week attack.

I could tell, right from the start, that guy who rented the boat out to that couple was not a good guy. The way he carried himself, the way they worked the camera on him, it just told me that this was a man who was sending an innocent, happy couple out into trouble, and he was doing so with a smile. The husband protected his wife, though he certainly could have done so more prudently than emptying his entire clip into the water, so the guy who was terrorizing them simply had no grounds to kill the man “kind of in self-defense.” He had even less grounds for killing that poor young man who just wanted to swim with a gorgeous young woman. There was definitely something wrong with that lizard fellow’s brain.

The Dunbar brothers are an interesting pair. The one feels the weight of a human life that he is partially responsible for while the other feels no shame at all and justifies himself with the bottom line and how hard his parents worked to keep their lakeside shop afloat. He’s also a little schemer who thinks he’s smarter than he is. He ducks responsibility for the first killing, he does not care at all about the second, and he thinks to have his problems, being homicidal lizard-man, brother with a conscience, and a pesky Grimm girl (Trubel) cancel each other out. He does not hesitate to kill people for his own personal profit. Even his own brother.

Fortunately, Nick, Hank, and Trubel caught all the perpetrators in a trap. Lizard-man dies (whoo! Go Trubel!) and while the better brother survives intact, the Cain of this story dies from his own stupidity. He wanted people on the lake, he spilled innocent blood to make it so (apparently, he thought he could just do that and business would boom forever), and when the people on the lake were there to avenge the dead with their guns, he jumped in, not in his human form, and got riddled with bullets.

That is what they call “poetic justice.”

So, another pair of murdering freaks gets themselves killed, the team, especially Nick, has to make a decision regarding their relationship with the HW, and Eve, and the world is slipping towards chaos and upheaval. Oh, and Renard is having an unseen, rather strange, relationship with that lady who works for his friend, the man he’s endorsing for mayor. That look on his face when she closed the door did not spell out, “I am happy to be alone with a gorgeous woman.” Oh, and someone from Rosalee’s sordid past is reaching out to her, wanting to come to Portland and maybe reconnect with her. She and Munroe intend to handle that situation together.

Outside the part where justice has been served, and my favorite wesen couple are facing their problems together, I’m not really liking the sound of almost any of that! Ya know?

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