My lineup was a little thin this week: no Arrow, no Flash, no Legends of Tomorrow, even, and no Castle. But Once Upon a Time, Gotham, Agents of Shield and Grimm all delivered nicely! I rather enjoyed this week! 🙂
“Labor of Love”
Have to say, was not expecting Snow and Hercules to have met in their younger days… but, then again, why do I bother being surprised? King Midas was there, after all, and almost everyone knows each other in some way long before the beginning of the series, so… yeah, not surprising. A touch cliché, in fact.
This version of Hercules met Snow when she was a much younger princess. Regina was trying to turn Snow’s people against her, using bandits as a proxy to torment some local villagers, promising snow would protect them while her father was away, setting up their disappointment, frustration, and anger. However, Snow met a certain demigod and he taught her to stand up, to fight, and how to use a bow, all skills that would prove essential throughout the rest of her life. Thus, Regina’s scheme backfired, the people loving the princess who fought valiantly in their defense, and being inspired by her example to fight for themselves (…gee, who’d have thought of that?). Snow and Herc’s time together was fairly brief, but left a lasting impact on each of them. Oh, and they kissed. Hercules was Snow’s first kiss. Heh! 🙂
Things came full circle for Herc this episode. The lessons he passed to Snow, she now passed back to him: determination, fortitude, enduring incredible failure to try again, etc. When they first met, he was on his final Labor: defeating the three-headed hound of the underworld, Cerberus. That did not go so well as was hoped. Not only was Herc killed and sent to the Underworld, but so was the princess he had just fleetingly met: Megara. …considering the Disney story involved her being Hades’ agent at first and her role in his surprise encounter with Cerberus, I can’t help but wonder about that a bit, but either way, things seem on the up-and-up now. For relative values of the term, that is.
Hook makes a break from his prison, convincing Meg to come with him, and then staying behind to stall Cerberus and have her get a message to Emma. Apparently he did hear her message last episode! Yay! So, Meg gets to Emma, who shelters her in the Underworld version of her parents’ apartment. Snow hatches the idea of using Herc to slay Cerberus so they can get in and rescue Hook, but Herc, rather justifiably traumatized after being viciously killed by the hellhound, can’t do it. Not alone, at least. Single most obvious idea ever: fight the hound together. With Herc thus redeemed and Meg freed, the two of them step into Olympus and leave the Underworld forever.
…ok, I really hope that’s not the last we see of Herc while the Storybrooke crew is facing Hades, of all people.
Hades had his first in-person meeting with the trinity of Storybrooke’s female leaders: Emma, Regina, and Snow. Out of the three, Regina is the strongest in this episode. Not only does she get the witch at the diner to tell them where Herc is, she snaps Snow out of her sulky funk after their first initial failure. Snow did some growing this episode, though it was a bit difficult for me to grasp. She hasn’t actually been “Mary-Margaret Blanchard” since the first season’s finale, so her suddenly wanting to cast that part of her identity aside in favor of “being Snow White,” felt a bit ambiguous and forced. Still, she got Herc back on his feet and helped him and Meg defeat Cerberus and move on. As for Emma, she’s not to be trifled with, but Hades has Hook, which gives him a way to upend her usual calm.
Needless to say, he doesn’t seem intimidated, but I still detect a certain amount of evasion and manipulation on his part. He didn’t give Regina a straight answer to her questions, he tried to hit Emma and Snow in their vulnerable emotional spots, he tried to scare them with a whisper instead of a roar, and he seemed only at his most powerful when he was standing over a beaten, bloody Hook. Which brings me to the end of the episode, where Hades suddenly decides that for every soul Hook’s friends help escape his domain, one of theirs will stay, and he wants Hook to choose whose names to chisel into the tombstones.
Hmmmm… bull crap! I call bull crap!
See, last episode, we had Peter Pan trying to use his relationship with Rumple to get the man to choose one of his friends to stay in the Underworld, so Pan could leave this prison without going where he inevitably would: to the worse place. Now in this episode, when Henry (with Robin guarding the entrance) sneaks into the mayor’s office, he finds Cruella, who doesn’t hurt him, and tries to use his love for Emma to get him to do something similar: have someone stay so she can go back to the land of the living. If he does what she wants, Emma will theoretically “no longer be a murderer.” Which is such a flawed argument that it’s ridiculous.
So, it’s fairly well established: the dead come back to life if the living stay dead. That’s the back exit, the loophole, the unauthorized release, the jail break. Moving on, however, has no such strings attached. If it did, then why would Hades want Hook to be the one to choose who stays? Sure, he’s an evil, sadistic master of torment… but he’s also a manipulator. My first guess is, simply, if Hook simply chooses not to chisel any names in those headstones, then no one will be bound to stay. There are rules, after all. Hades may be Lord of the Underworld, but he is still bound by these rules.
“This Ball of Mud and Meanness”
From the crucible of Matches Malone, Bruce Wayne rises above the need for revenge. Yes!
Before that, let’s get the other two plot lines out of the way, revolving around Penguin and the Riddler respectively.
Strange and Peabody continue subjecting Penguin to their extreme therapies, including an illusion where he is tied up while his mother begs him to eat, only to watch another Penguin enter the room and beat her to bloody death. It seems to be working, as he keeps passing their tests, showing no signs of violence or aggression. He refuses to defend himself when he’s attacked over an issue of ice cream, and when he finds his attacker bound to “the chair,” he cuts him loose and makes nice. This impresses Strange, who is in desperate need of a mascot, and, despite Peabody’s voice of caution, gives Penguin his certification and readies him for release, which Penguin seems to not want right now.
It feels a bit rushed, I think, having Penguin sent to Arkham two episodes ago, his treatments beginning last episode, and now he’s released. Then again, Gotham has never hesitated to chew straight through plots. Personally, a part of me suspects/hopes that this is just Penguin outwitting his tormentors, passing their tests, getting released, becoming their pet in public, only to turn on them, murder Peabody, and bring Strange’s world of nightmares down on top of his head. We’ll see.
As for the Riddler, Gordon, at his fiance’s request, is investigating the unnoticed disappearances of Miss Kringle and Officer Dougherty. Neither Gordon nor Thompkins has any suspicions about Nygma’s murderous role in such, but the man leaps to the conclusions that Gordon does suspect him. Mind you, he has good reason to fear a man as formidable as Gordon, having seen him take on foes and situations that should have utterly annihilated him, yet emerge practically atop his enemies’ corpses. Still, Nygma is not at all rational right now, and that just makes him all the more dangerous, especially since he can stab an unsuspecting Gordon in the back.
Myself, I’m just looking forward to ties being severed between Nygma and the GCPD, ending the farce.
Now, with those two plots out of the way… on to the main event! 😀
Selina comes through for Bruce, getting him a gun with which to kill Matches Malone. The man is a professional killer for hire, so good that he’s stayed under the radar for several years now, which is why his name didn’t come up as a possible suspect after the Wayne murders. Alfred takes Bruce to find him by navigating the criminal underworld, but Bruce ruins that royally right quick, taking Alfred’s more tactful, subtle approach and clumsily ramming it straight into an ice berg. They find themselves not only paying for the information they want, but Alfred has to fight a gang leader just to get them out alive. It’s a close fight, which speak volumes considering the Wayne butler’s previously-demonstrated physical prowess. Still, Alfred wins, albeit with another visit to the hospital. At which point Bruce drops him and goes on alone.
That’s when Alfred called Gordon and Bullock, confessing the entire scheme, much to both detectives’ chagrin. They move fast, chasing down the same lead Bruce is. This lead takes the young Wayne into a depraved house of madness. It’s a club, one that takes obvious cues from Jerome and the Maniax, and the owner carries herself with a certain air reminiscent of Joker, but fortunately hers is just a pale imitation of the original. She dances around what Bruce wants of her, but gives it to him, and aids his escape when Gordon arrives. She gets hauled into questioning, and waits just long enough for the situation to come to its end before sending Gordon in “for the cleanup.”
At last, Bruce comes face to face with the man who killed his parents. He gets to know the man a little first, to be sure. By the time he pulls out the gun, after Matches gives him the run-down of his prices for a hit, he certainly is sure. Matches himself confirms this with a detail or two. It takes him a moment, and while does not recognize Bruce, he does remember him from their first encounter two years ago. He toasts Bruce, drinks his last drink… and Bruce hesitates.
It is part of the tragedy of such heinous criminals that, even when they have long become tired of what they do, of their sin, they can’t even stop. They’ve literally lost themselves in their despicable work, condemned to live in a world of absolute darkness until they die a miserable death. Such is Matches Malone, the man who toasts the boy who came back to kill him.
Seeing Matches like that… something happens in Bruce. He sees the darkness, and the weary futility of giving in to it. He sees the man that Matches Malone is, and loses the ability to perceive him as a monster. So… he chooses not to. He puts down the gun, turns around, and walks away. Matches takes care of the deed himself, though, just as Gordon arrived to witness Bruce’s innocence, see Matches kill himself.
The entire ordeal leaves Bruce illuminated. He decides to live on the streets with Selina for awhile. He’s learned that you can’t overcome evil, murder, and revenge by taking part in them, but by doing the opposite and refusing. It’s a lesson that we’ve seen Gordon is in need of learning. Bruce wants to learn these lessons that he’s been sheltered from. He wants to do something about the evil in the city and in the world, not just at Wayne Enterprises, but down in the slums. To do that, he needs to leave his little bubble, to live in a world as foreign to him as other planets are to us. He’s going to learn and grow strong, with Selina to look after him, teach him how to survive. When he’s done learning, he’ll come back, and “do something to fight evil.”
I would not mind if this were Bruce being written out of the show, now sent off on his journey towards becoming Batman, but that is unlikely. We’re probably going to see him learning from Selina, becoming more grounded than he has been. It could prove interesting, but whatever happens, this was a huge episode for Bruce Wayne.
“The Inside Man”
Much juicy plot this episode! 😀
We start with Talbot, newly-appointed head of the ATCU, whose wife seems to be leaving him at the beginning of this episode. I knew there was something fishy about that, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It may have simply been how it reduced Talbot’s swaggering status just a bit, and while he could always use a humbling, the swagger is just part of who he is, ya know? I dismissed it, and I really should have known better than to do that! 😛
Talbot and Coulson, the latter using an alias, travel to a very small but pivotal international summit to discuss the spreading Inhuman phenomenon. The goal is to create a (sort of) united approach to the situation, to protect the people turning into Inhumans at the drop of a hat, and it wouldn’t hurt to find Malick’s inside man at the summit. Yes, they operate under the assumption that he’ll have one, being so well-connected, influential, and invested in what happens to the Inhuman population as a whole.
Small detail: Creel, the super-powered human from all the way back in last season’s premiere, makes his sudden return… as Talbot’s bodyguard. Considering their first meeting, there is some justifiable bad blood between Creel and Shield, especially Hunter, but Talbot informs Coulson and the others that, like others, Creel was brainwashed. That damage has been undone now, healed, he is a free man with free will. And Talbot trusts the man with his life.
Things get complicated pretty quickly, as is the way of international discussions, especially with Hydra tossed into the mix. Everyone has their own pick of who they suspect of being Malick’s agent at the summit, and the delegates themselves have vastly differing views of the Inhumans as well. One nations sees them as weapons, another sees them as a disease. Russia, by contrast, talks a pretty talk, all good intentions about looking out for the poor Inhumans… and proposes a sanctuary city for them. Yeah, great idea, that!
In the best-case scenario, history teaches us that segregating and separating people based on distinctions they have no control over can only do harm. No, peace between diverse peoples is found in living everyday life right beside each other, with no attention, positive or negative, paid to what makes them different. That is acceptance.
In the worst-case… ok, I keep thinking of worse things, but Coulson and Co. know it’ll be like giving Russia nigh-exclusive access to the Inhumans, and a one-stop shopping trip for Malick to scoop up the lot of them all at once. So, they do not want this plan to move forward, but Talbot votes for it anyway. …and then he stands up, brings in the guards to arrest Coulson as “the Director of Hydra,” while bringing in Malick as a great benefactor.
Talbot was the inside man!
Hunter figured that out just a little too late, when he followed Creel, and found, in an Inhuman stasis cell, Talbot’s son.
That‘s what was off earlier! The wife was leaving without any kids! Turns out, she wasn’t leaving him, he was sending her somewhere safe while he tried to get their son back, to “fix everything.” That meant playing along for a bit, but, of course, Malick double-crossed him. This being Hydra’s M.O., Talbot had an inside man of his own: Creel. Talbot really did trust him with his life! And it was the right choice! Yay! 🙂
So, between Talbot and Coulson’s forces, they’re able to sweep the property clean of Hydra agents. May even took back Talbot’s son! All in all, the bond between these tentative, uneasy, sometimes-adversarial allies has been deepened and strengthened. And now Coulson’s got a read on Malick, the fact that he’s taking orders from someone worse (understatement of the year!) and sends Morse and Hunter to track him to his lair, peek behind Hydra’s curtains.
What they’re going to find will be earth-shattering and highly dangerous.
Malick’s new master now his absolute service. It is somewhat wistful about the lost opportunity to meet Grant Ward as a separate entity, but It’s not that concerned about it. Malick wields Hydra in It’s service, and It has two Inhumans serving It now. These two, I note, seem to be permanently tethered to It now. It knows everything they know, sees and hears what they do, and they are unable to disobey It in any fashion. It has them collect five humans, the healthiest they can find, and bring them to It. All the Inhumans can do is obey, no matter their reluctance to spill innocent blood, and all the humans can do is stand there, terrified and weeping, until they die screaming, reduced to base materials with which It can build Its vessel, Grant Ward’s body, anew, and mightier than ever.
…seriously, going from a wasted body to one that is bulging with strength, that is one of the most dramatic physical changes I have seen since the Hulk.
So… It can’t die unless the body is burned and it has no other corpse to go to. It can infect, monitor, and control any Inhuman, but not use one as It’s vessel. It can also take humans apart and use their flesh to repair and strengthen Its own. So It’s not omnipotent, but still hellishly powerful and obscenely resilient.
I can’t help but think of Lash, the Inhuman that kills Inhumans, and by intelligent design if what Lincoln was taught is accurate. Whatever It is, It has vulnerabilities. Lash killed all the Inhumans It would have affected like It has Hydra’s current pair. Lash hindered It’s plans by exterminating great swathes of the Inhuman population. Could Lash have been made to work against It? Could Lash have been made to battle It’s army? Then again, if this is all deliberate, then whatever made Lash also made It. If It takes control of Lash, It’s Inhuman enemies will be in major trouble, and if not, then all the Inhumans will be in trouble, though at least It’s minions will be among Lash’s prey. Perhaps Lash was made as a counter-measure, or perhaps as a deciding factor in the contest of “the fittest survive,” in that whoever can turn Lash to their side will have a severe advantage over the other. I doubt a Kree scientist, for instance, would have balked at that thought several thousand years ago.
Rounding out the episode, we have Daisy and Lincoln benched back at base, and having an argument. Fitz-Simmons discovers that Creel’s blood can be used to create a vaccine, to prevent terrigenesis, thus capping the Inhuman population, and backing the rest into a corner they can’t escape from. Daisy sees the obvious danger in that, while Lincoln feels that it could be for the best, such as if Garner had been spared from being Lash, and all his Inhuman friends spared the monster’s wrath. The argument touches on some other differences between them, like how Lincoln went to college and has to fight to control his powers, while Daisy hacked her way through her early life and need only maintain inner calm to control her powers. They are different, in a number of ways, but they could complement each other nicely. And they’re not to proud to apologize for their mistakes! 🙂
Interesting detail: I had originally feared that any non-Inhuman exposed to the terrigen contagion would have been killed. This seems to have not been the case. Perhaps it’s been so thinned out by the oceans that it only has enough kick left to mutate Inhumans, instead of harming normal humans?
“Silence of the Slams”
I don’t know much about wrestling at all, let alone Mexican wrestling in particular. I do know that the luchadores are famous for having protected their people at a time when the authorities did not. Of course, I hope the need for that has long since passed, and there are good and bad eggs in every bunch. Still, knowing even that much about their history, I couldn’t help but feel a little disgusted, like I was watching a perversion of something sacred. Perhaps I read too much into it, but what does evil do if not pervert what is good?
This week’s freak involved a wesen belonging to a loose order descended from ancient Aztec priests, who were not exactly shy about spilling sacrificial blood. And I notice a great deal of witchcraft rituals involve taking, or, rather, stealing, what one wants instead of earning it. Which always comes with a hefty price. So when this mask-making, Aztec priest of advanced years, well acquainted with the unseen costs of many legendary luchadores victories, offered to make a brash, largely-ignorant youth a mask… well, it was a recipe for disaster.
The youth in question was just trying to make ends meet, by being the loser in the local wrestling matches, but he thirsted for more. He wanted more than earnings, he wanted the fame and glory of winning. He wanted the crowd’s favor, a fickle thing to be sure, as evidenced when he dethroned the “undefeated champion,” who the crowd always cheered as he won, and then cheered at his defeat, utterly without a care for who the victor is. Still, he wanted it, and he got his wish, much to the sorrow of many.
The mask, for one, was made using the face of a wesen, cut from him while he was still alive and breathing. The former-champion lost his life when he tried to take the upstart challenger on in an alley. The blood-priest made his choice most unwisely, and his fledgling disciple went mad and killed him. Finally, when Nick and the others got the mask off him, he was still mad, traumatized, and bearing the consequences of his actions. Absolutely nobody won in this scenario. Everybody lost.
The only thing that was gained in this was a new account for Nick to add to his own Grimm journal, to pass this vital knowledge on to future generations.
On a not somewhat related to winning, losing, and sacrifices, Renard has neither accepted nor declined Black Claw’s invitation as of yet. They killed his friend, a good man, just to get to him, and he hasn’t either turned on them or thrown in with them. He seems a bit weak in that light, which isn’t the normal Sean Renard I am familiar with. I’m keeping my fingers crossed about his duplicity against them, especially now that they’ve tipped their hand. Even as Eve has figured out Black Claw’s manipulation, and fingered the redhead, Rachel Wood, for her part in Dixon’s death, Rachel has revealed Black Claw knows about Diana.
The Royals, the Resistance, the HW, everyone has been after Diana with a powerful will, with that last having current possession of her. Why should Black Claw, intent on upending the world and gaining power, be any different? Dixon was their cat’s paw to manipulate Renard, and I’m guessing this was all just to get their hands on his daughter. Sure, they could hold up their end of the bargain, make Renard the next mayor, but they approach the idea by saying he would “need a family” in order to win. That addresses public perception, which would not do so well when someone pointed out Adalind’s second child, a son, with Nick, one of Renard’s subordinates. If Black Claw really knows so much, which is very likely, then they know about Adalind, Nick, and Kelly. They’d love the chance to kill Nick, of course, but it’s still a flawed approach to the issue at hand. Considering Black Claw’s capability for deception and manipulation, it’s pretty obvious that they’re after Diana much more than Renard.
I do wish I could figure out how Rachel seems to have Renard so often off-balance. That little nugget of knowledge could prove every bit as pivotal as any other.
Either way, end of the episode, Renard is reaching out to Adalind. It would be exactly the sort of thing they would do, use Black Claw to find their daughter and take her from HW. Once they realize she’s not with the Royals, that is.
Adalind’s in pretty vulnerable place right now, too, what with her hexenbiest reemerging and her future with Nick as unclear as ever. Adalind talks about it as a “what if” scenario, and Nick expresses his willingness to work with her, as they have a son to think about and raise. Adalind is still afraid he’d get rid of them, or kill her, and Nick could say the same for her. They were mortal enemies for years, after all.
There’s already something broken in their relationship, though. When Nick, Hank, Wu, Munroe, and Rosalee see what the stick of wood does, healing Munroe like that, they aren’t sure what to do. The only thing they can think of is to keep it a secret, tell no one. But I didn’t realize Adalind would be on the left-out list until Nick lied to her, saying they didn’t find anything at all in Germany. Nick doesn’t trust her enough to tell her about the healing stick, and that secret, I think, is also going to prove pivotal, every bit as much as the one she is keeping.
Basically: things are an unholy mess right now, and slowly building up towards an eruption.
Fun times! 😀