Most of my lineup skipped this week, but we did get three really good ones: Gotham returned with a vengeance after its prolonged absence (yay!), Agent Carter had its second season finale (whoo!), and Grimm delivered excitement and building tension in preparation for its hundredth episode next week (very cool). 🙂
They certainly made us wait long enough, but, wow, did they deliver!
…at least, overall. There is one thing about this episode which I don’t really appreciate, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
We have Gordon who is, for obvious reasons, concealing his involvement in the death of Theo Gallivan. It’s a reasonable story he concocts, a plausible lie, not deviating too far from the facts. Unlike most other lies he’s told the public and his superiors, however, he’s telling this one to his now-fiance too. Barnes and Dent both have their suspicions, but they’ve no evidence and no conflicting testimony to go on, so they have to trust Gordon. Barnes makes it clear that this is a big deal, so Gordon had better take it with due responsibility.
Gordon’s partner in crime, Penguin, has been hiding on the streets since that night. While his remaining enemies prosper, including Butch taking over as “King of Gotham” and Tabitha worming her way into partnership with him, Penguin is stuck in squalor again. Eventually, he’s picked up by the cops, which is what he thinks will be rock bottom. But, oh, there is always further to fall! After corroborating Gordon’s story, Penguin uses his “insanity” to get sent to Arkham. Mind you, he is a bit unhinged, but not in the same way that Barbara and Jerome were, and he soon finds his ploy backfiring on him.
Before that, there is a moment between Penguin and Riddler that I really enjoy. The villains of Batman have always been nuts, savages with impressive body counts to their credit, but there’s also often scattered moments of humanity to be found within each of them. Nygma didn’t have to take any risks in talking to Penguin, but he did, to help somehow, so Penguin asked him to take visit his mother’s grave every so often. She liked lilies.
Once in Arkham, Penguin tries to do his usual swaggering, to be above everyone else as he’s always desired. That’s the real proof he doesn’t actually belong there: he’s trying to deal with his fellow inmates as if, despite being freaks, they were still rational. Instead of rising above, however, he’s literally mocked on every side.
Worse, however… much, much worse… is the presence of Doctor Strange. Who, I have to say, they have cast brilliantly. B.D. Wong is perfect, able to balance a public face of virtue with a chilling, not-so-hidden darkness behind the mask. I have to say, out of all the villains they could have chosen, Strange is ideal, being both highly believable and highly, highly dangerous. Wong projects that aura fantastically! And right after their first meeting, as he sees one of his inmates has torn his own eyes out under Strange’s influence, that is when Penguin begins to realize the horrific nightmare he’s stepped into, and now he’s caged within it. He had no understanding of what he was getting into, and now he is in way, way, way over his head!
Oh, and Strange runs both Arkham on the surface and Indian Hill beneath. He has plans for what he will do to Penguin, just as he has for everyone else in his gallery of monsters below. We got a brief mention of the Firefly girl, who is apparently being uncooperative. Good for her, but I can only imagine it means she’s suffering even more terribly for her recalcitrance.
Back on Gordon’s side of things, he, Bullock, and the rest of the cops are hunting a kidnapper with a cold gun. The titular Mr. Freeze makes his debut!
I was wondering what they were going to do with his character this early in his story, so long before his eventual confrontations with Batman. In hindsight, I really should have known they’d bring his wife Nora into the picture. This is Mr. Freeze at his true beginning: his quest to save the woman he loves.
Now, here’s where we get into what bugs me about this episode. I’ve only really seen Freeze in the animated Batman adventures, but he was always one of my favorite villains. He was one of the most noble and tragic, trying to save Nora, doing much damage but with a conspicuously low body count, even, on occasion, choosing to sacrifice what he wanted for the greater good. All he wanted was to be with his wife again, yet he was cursed to being separated from her, yet also, for much of the time, so very close. And to own the heart of Mr. Freeze, Nora must surely be a wonderful, remarkable woman. We never met her before, yet her presence has always saturated Freeze’s existence.
This version of Freeze and Nora was decidedly different from all that.
In this version, Freeze isn’t just trying to save his wife, he’s a man consumed by the obsession for such, killing over a dozen people with the same regard other scientists have for lab rats. He does this so he can find a way to reanimate Nora after he puts her into cryogenic sleep. When he’s caught, his house raided, and Nora taken in for questioning, he turns himself in so he can get his wife’s medicine to her, only to find that his sixteenth “lab rat” has revived, at which point he walks out, likely to return for her next episode with his entire arsenal.
So, basically, they took the noblest of Batman’s enemies I can think of, and turned him into a serial killer. You see my issue here? And as for Nora, who Batman once convinced Freeze would be horrified by the monstrosities he was about to commit, instead understands her husband’s actions. Monstrous, yes, but done for her sake, so she will not turn on him. So she’s an accessory after the fact, despite her horror. Not so saintly of her, I’d say.
Interesting detail: most everyone in this episode is shocked and horrified by what Freeze does, but Strange is happy, practically salivating for the chance to get his hands on Freeze’s work.
All in all, a very well-done episode, deviations from the Mr. Freeze I know notwithstanding. And I note… no Bruce, anywhere… almost as if the show is better without him… hmmmmmm! 😉
Oh, come on!
Within the last minute of this season’s finale, I was cheering about how they finally got Carter and Sousa together. 🙂 And then, in the last ten or fifteen seconds… they killed Thompson!
One of these days, I will actually remember Marvel’s inestimable capability to go “And they all lived happily ever af…NOT!” Seriously, we storytellers can be pretty vindictive towards both our characters and our audience.
What really irritates me is how Thompson was actually making some headway again! He is a man bot conniving and ambitious, but he was, at least, trying to do the right thing. He was served some humility in this episode, and he actually took it very well. He helped out, humbly getting people food, even swallowing an angry retort, swallowing his pride. He didn’t keep it secret when he realized the Arena Club pendant was a key, showing it to Carter. He raised the question of how Carter would respond to his previous hostilities, and was further humbled by her understanding. He was ready to go on a suicide mission to save the world in place of his comrades.
Carter was right: Jack Thompson was a good man. Though a man, I think, that was still mostly on his own side in the everyday circumstance. Which isn’t necessarily a completely bad thing, especially when tempered with a willingness to risk or even lay down his life in service to the greater good.
Which is exactly what happens when he answers a knock at his hotel room’s door (it was one of those moments when a warning siren suddenly sounded in my head) and is unceremoniously shot through the heart. All of his ambitions, ended with a single bullet.
Now, a mystery to be solved: just what was that heavily-redacted file Masters kept, and how did the enemy (which I would assume to be Hydra/the Arena Club) know Thompson had it?
On the brighter side of things, Howard returns! And with him, he brings a considerable bit of laughter! I especially love the interplay between him and Jarvis! In fact, Carter and her friends are all just so adorable! The trio of scientists who argue until Carter gets them back on task, stroking their egos, and those “more dignified” postures they assume! I loved Samberly’s reaction when Thompson was oh so charming towards Rose! Ah, so many great moments, though my favorite may be, “Jarvis! You just hit a woman with my car! She’s a two-time Tony Award nominee!” 🙂
Anyway, back to the meat of things.
After Wilkes went critical last episode (loved it when Thompson was going, “It wasn’t me!”) Carter, Thompson, and Sousa find him unconscious and free of all zero matter amid the mess. No sign of Masters, but Frost is up and about again, and absorbing all the zero matter lying around. The trio grab Sousa and make a run for it, escaping with the arrival of Jarvis, Howard, Samberly, and a pair of cars to carry them all to safety.
Finding a bit of respite, as Sousa and Thompson jail Masters’ flunkies and get info out of them, everyone turns their thoughts to the matter at hand. The gamma cannon gives them the means to get the zero matter out of Frost, but what do they do with it after? Howard wants to build another isolation unit and keep it, study it, use it to do good in the world. One would think that, after the debacle of last year’s theft of his inventions, he’d have learned a bit more caution, but apparently not. Anyway, he’s overruled by Carter and Wilkes, the latter of whom now knows that zero matter consumed everything there was where it came from and is now trying to move on to consume more.
Exactly how much there was in this other place, be it a planet or an entire universe, is unknown, and perhaps better left that way, as such complete destruction is abhorrent either way, and the point is that they really shouldn’t mess with it anyway.
So, they need to find a way to get rid of it entirely. If only they could just send it back where it came from.
Enter Manfredi, who has now witnessed Frost be utterly consumed in her work with the zero matter. With nowhere else to turn, he turns to Carter and the others. Turns out, he and Howard are buddies, which facilitates cooperation, but raises many questions about how these two met, what they’ve done together, and just how well they know each other. Were they childhood friends, back when Howard was first a burgeoning genius and Manfredi was just getting started in the criminal underworld? Seems like they go back a ways, so it’s possible. Either way, they all team up, with Manfredi distracting Frost (his poor minion, being put through that!) while Carter and Sousa steal her research.
Speaking of, I love how they teased us with the “maybe” of all these small mistakes that other heroes in other shows make, but Carter and company manage to avoid because they’re that good. 🙂 Also very clever, distracting Frost by playing to her ego! 😀 Mind you, it might have worked better if there had been a fairly legitimate cause that actually required her attention, rather than putting Manfredi’s loyal minion through the rigamarole like that, but it worked in the end and no one died, so we’ll just call it a success! 😀
Carter and co. are able to fashion a rift generator, using Frost’s research and their superior numbers and resources, and use x-rays to keep the zero matter contained until Frost arrives, which she does, drawn by her unthinking obsession. They hit her with the gamma cannon, driving the zero matter out and sending it straight back through the rift to its source. Once again, Frost can only scream in anguished frustration as they drag her away.
Small detail then: they need to shut down the rift, and the remote isn’t working, so one of them needs to use the manual override and risk being taken up into the closing rift to die horribly. Carter is the first to volunteer, though everyone else is right behind her, except for Sousa, who, while everyone else is busy volunteering, just ties himself to an anchor and walks straight into his potential death. Of course his improvised tether comes loose, but Carter, Wilkes, Howard, and Thompson pile onto it, Carter holding it with a death grip while the men keep her from being dragged into the darkness. Jarvis and Samberly finish off the rift by sending Stark’s hover car into it with the gamma cannon’s battery enclosed, and everyone lives through the crisis.
As the dust settles: Frost has gone insane and is committed to an asylum; Howard hires Wilkes to work for him; Ana returns home just in time for Carter say her farewells…
…ok, must say this: I love the Jarvises! Between Ana shutting down Carter’s foolishness at thinking she might not be welcome, Jarvis being so giddy about giving Carter one last lift out of town, and how the two of them together “shared a good cry for what can never be,” (which is very healthy, to cry together) these two are a fantastic couple! 😀
…so, as I way saying, things are settling down. Carter stops by Sousa’s office to say her farewells, and Sousa responds by calling her out on her double-standard. The same logic she uses to justify sacrificing herself says that she should have let him go into the rift, but she refused because it was someone else on the line, and someone she cared about. Carter answers that by kissing him. A lot. And taking some more time off in LA. 😀 😀 😀 Whoooo!
…and then they killed Thompson!
And now we have to wait a whole year before this gets picked up again! 😦
Which, of course, is the idea of a good story: keep the audience coming back for more! 😉
Oooooh, exciting! 😀
It’s a pretty significant milestone, one hundred episodes, and they build the tension for next week’s episode pretty well!
After last week’s momentous discoveries, Nick and the others muddle their way through the accompanying research. No one ever mentions that part, and how boring it is, ya know? Trubel certainly showed how tiring it is, though! Still, they manage to put some very subtle clues together to come up with an approximate location for the buried treasure of the seven knights, guessing its in a church. So Munroe and Nick, traveling under aliases, pack up and head for the Black Forest.
Before they go, Adalind faces her strong feelings for Nick, confessing to him, and they sleep together. Everything about them is complicated, and this is a most unique pairing, but also one that, in a way, I think most of us have felt coming for a long, long, long time. We’ve seen that anything can happen, though, and whether or not they stay together is anyone’s guess. Still, they’ve found a sort of balance, of happiness, together, so whether it ends or continues, it’s good to appreciate it while it exists.
While the two of them head off, Hank and Wu search for Black Claw’s higher-up who’s in town at the precinct, while Meisner, Trubel, and Eve do the same at HW. Unfortunately, this “Marwan” fellow is extremely skilled. He notices when he’s been made, wounds instead of kills the cop who follows him, changes his appearance, and moves into a position he’s already scouted, overlooking a political rally with a sniper rifle.
A mayoral campaign seems like it would be a bit low on Black Claw’s list of priorities, but apparently not, with both Lucian and Marwan involved. Both the cops and HW figure out Marwan’s in the area and targeting the rally, but it’s too little, too late. Even as Eve is heading in, while Hank and Wu search through the crowd, and Renard is on his guard, scanning the crowd, Marwan takes the shot.
This particular political rally is one Renard is attending in support of his friend, the hopeful mayor, Andrew Dixon, for whom he dug up dirt on his political opponent, and with whose redheaded adviser he seems to have a relationship we aren’t allowed to see. I’ve mentioned how suspicious I am of this redhead, and she seems to have a strong presence at the critical moment. Heck, with Black Claw apparently targeting Renard and the redhead telling him where to stand, then conveniently moving away to quietly take a phone call, heck, I was ready to finger her as an accomplice of some sort. Still am, actually, but Marwan’s target was apparently Dixon, not Renard, which is a substantial curve ball.
As the episode ends with Renard holding his dying friend, redhead at his elbow calling for an ambulance, I am wondering what’s going on. Lucian handed Marwan a picture of Renard, not Dixon, so why shoot Dixon? What’s the time crunch that Lucian was talking about, with their plans “depending on this now?” And what’s the redhead’s part in all of this?
Hmmm. Spit-balling a theory here: what if Black Claw managed to recruit or manipulate Renard somehow? We know he can be ambitious, and he’s a formidable manipulator himself, and a skilled leader. If, say, the redhead was able to put him in their pocket, likely without him realizing it but possibly even with his consent, willing or reluctant, that would be huge. Not only would it give them someone inside the department, even the man running it, but what if they could elevate his status at the same time?
One candidate has been dirtied by his own actions coming to light, and now the other may be dead. Who will the people of Portland turn to? Perhaps a resounding authority figure, one who has already caught the public eye and has their trust, and is personable enough to lead them? One who didn’t ask for it, but takes up the cause in the name of the fallen friend he had been supporting? And that’s just one side of it, overlooking Renard’s connections to Nick, the Resistance, the Royals, the wesen community… he would be an attractive, juicy target for anyone to use in furthering their cause. A formidable enemy, but also a useful ally. Nick himself has experience with Renard in both roles.
I’m hoping that Renard has not fallen, or been taken down, so far as to belong to Black Claw, but one never knows.
Over in Germany, Nick and Munroe pose as history buffs as they research old churches in the area. They have some interesting conversations, and there’s something very strong about sending the two of them to the Black Forest together. Munroe was Nick’s first confidante in his life as a Grimm, his first wesen friend and comrade in arms. Their unusual partnership has morphed and deepened through the years, but they’ve not really been “alone” as such for a long time. Seeing them on their own adventure, much like seeing Nick and Adalind together, was fairly potent and just felt right, ya know?
Anyway, they know they’re heading into danger, but they underestimate how soon that danger will approach, and what form it will take. The local priest they talk to, and several of his parishioners, are wesen, and they notice Nick is a Grimm pretty quickly. They don’t know about Munroe being a wesen though, and the same sort as the priest. That is going to be huge, I think, but for the moment, they’re out to kill the Grimm before he kills them. These are people far removed from Nick’s sphere of universal shelter and friendship, after all, so they’ve no reason to do anything but assume he’s there to kill them all and respond with force.
Yeah, that’s not going to complicate things at all! 🙂
Nick and Munroe find a hill in the middle of the forest, being able to follow the clues and see through the knights’ riddles and misdirection (very clever, having a few additional safeguards in place within the map itself!) with the stones of a foundation of some sort in the ground, easy to miss but distinct once you’ve seen them. They dig around a little to verify what they’re seeing, but this disturbs the ground and they plunge down into the black abyss of a cave.
…have I mentioned they love their cliffhangers in Grimm? 😉
Next week’s one-hundredth episode promises to be most exciting! 😀