This Week on TV, March 26, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

Whoo! This was a great week! Arrow and The Flash returned, though Legends of Tomorrow skipped this week. Every show delivered, usually in a magnificent way. Seriously, Legends just might have slowed the week down a bit, bit without it, we had seven out of seven hits! 🙂 My favorite is probably Agents of Shield, but the rest were all awesome too! So, without further ado…

Once-upon-time-logoOnce Upon a Time

“Devils Due”

Wow. They really did that.

Right, so, first thing’s first: I was wrong about it being bull crap for Hades to just keep the Storybrooke crew in the Underworld just because he wants to punish them. Mind you, keeping the people who can help his victims move on seems a bit counter-productive, but whatever. I was still wrong.

So, when Hook refuses to choose who will stay (Good man!), Hades sends him down the green river with souls drifting through its waters: the River of Lost Souls. By the warning that it will reduce the people it touches to mindless, tormented husks, I see some corollary with the River Lethe, but I can’t exactly be certain. He hangs Hook over the river, promising to lower him into it if he doesn’t choose who will stay. He’s still hanging when Emma rescues him… which, as I think about it, did he choose someone after all? …hmmm, doubtful, but not completely certain.

Emma is frantic to rescue Hook, and now that they know where to look, the crew is arming up. That’s when Rumple arrives back on the scene. He was just in his shop, brewing a potion that lets him see “the one he seeks.” When the image shown is Belle, however, he is so shocked and overcome that he drops his crystal ball, and suddenly picks up the pace in rescuing Hook so he can go home to her. He is the one with magical know-how that actually works down in the Underworld, so he takes the lead, alone with Emma and a dead person to share an aura with them and thus sneak them past Hades’ most basic defenses against the living.

And who is this dead person he enlists to help save Hook? That would be his ex-wife, Mila.

I just have to say, I loved the interaction between Emma and Mila. The relationships in Storybrook are very complicated, but it was classically, hilariously awkward when Emma met the woman who was Neal’s mother and Hook’s lover. ROFL! Talk about there being nothing she could say to make things run more smoothly between them! But, then again, she shares her experience with Neal visiting her when they entered the Underworld, which Rumple overhears. Awkward first meeting, but these two women remain kindred spirits, I think.

In this week’s flash back, we see the moment where Mila finally had enough of Rumple and started down the path to leaving him. Since hobbling himself and returning from the field of battle in disgrace, Rumple has not been carrying his weight, it would seem. He keeps getting distracted playing with his son, leaving the work mostly to Mila, which is enough to stress and anger most anyone, even without the additional weight of shame surely bearing down on her for her husband’s cowardice.

Then their son, as they argue, is bitten by a terrible, dangerous snake. They go to a healer/wizard, but the cure costs a hundred gold coins. They can’t come up with that, not ever, so Mila spends everything they do have getting a dagger for her husband to use on the healer. Parents can be terrifying creatures, especially when what is needed to save their child is right there within reach! Mila shoves Rumple out the door to go and steal the potion and kill the healer if he resists… or, rather, as Mila sees it, to kill the healer and then steal the potion.

Rumple, however, just can’t do it. He can steal, but he can’t kill, even when he has a clear advantage for once in his life. So instead of charging for the potion, he has Rumple sign a contract, offering up his second born child. Rumple thinks he’s a genius, having found a loophole, since the healer can’t take what’s never there to be stolen. But Mila… this deal, which Rumple decided on his own – mind you, this is after she decided on her own to turn her husband into a thief and a murderer – deprives her of any future children, a loss which hits her hard.

But, another loophole, that only holds so long as she’s with him, and, as it happens, she just got a nice little proposition from a certain handsome pirate, offering her the chance to sail the seas and see the world! In short: the chance to be free from Rumpelstiltskin!

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Though, one more detail: when he was engaged in potential baby-making activities with Cora, he paid a visit to the healer and killed him, to prevent him from ever claiming his next born offspring. He’s always loved loop holes, and this particular deal the healer made literally came back to kill him.

Back in the present, while Emma is rescuing a dangling Hook, Mila and Rumple are having a tender moment, one where Rumple comforts her, offers her hope of being forgiven by their son, who forgave Rumple of all people, once she moves on.

Then Hades shows up. He freezes Mila and takes Rumple to have a nice little chat, one where he offers Rumple the chance to get home to Belle in exchange for trapping the Storybrooke crew in his domain. Which, as I said earlier, doesn’t make much sense considering how they keep releasing souls and he was rather focused on getting them out of his domain mere hours ago. It smells like there’s some other agenda going on here, but the point is: if Rumple destroys the boat and disposes of the only witness, Mila, then Hades will poof him back home.

Rumple… good grief, this used to be the character I could look at on this show and see much of myself in him. He was me if I didn’t have the light of love in my life. But now he’s had it, and he has it, and he briefly did a few noble things, but now he is, once again, just throwing it all away. He’s abandoning the light, and forsaking everyone again. It’s only a matter of time before that comes back to destroy him, and after this episode, I rather hope for it.

He does what Hades wants: burns the boat. And then, as Mila, who stands no chance, screams Emma’s name to warn her… Rumple plunges her into the hellish River of Lost Souls, there to remain for all eternity.

I still held out some fleeting hope for Rumple, even after he lied to Belle and tried to kill Zalina, even after he tried to use the Sorcerer’s Hat at the cost of Hook’s life, even after his deal with the Author, and, yes, even after he betrayed Emma and Hook again to become the ultimate Dark One. He did, after all, once lay down his life to protect his family from Peter Pan, and he did help them on several other occasions. That man, however, died, and he did not come back to life.

Knowing now what Rumple just did to his mother Mila, I imagine Neal would quickly rescind that forgiveness he once extended, and curse himself a fool for exchanging his own life to bring Rumple back.

And how poetic it is… the moment they’re all out and things seem to be going their way again, complete with Hook and Rumple agreeing that all debts are paid (as the one does not know what the other did to Mila just yet), things go to pot for all of them… especially Rumple! He got loop-holed! Hah! Not only does Hades hold off on sending Rumple home, but the healer he killed is there, in the Underworld, and he just signed over the contract to Hades! It was a bad idea to kill him, and earn his eternal anger! Now Hades has Rumple stretched over a barrel!

…because when Rumple was scrying, he was trying to find his child, Neal. Instead, it showed him Belle. Who is pregnant. With his second-born. Whom Hades can claim any time, even after death!

…ok, I do not want that to happen, and not only because this is at least the third time they’ve pulled that card involving a baby that must be protected, but because I really don’t want Belle to lose her child!

Thus, I am forced, however grudgingly, to keep rooting for Rumple’s victory as the lesser evil.

Outside all of this, Regina encountered Cruella, who was trying to dodge her notice, and got some info. She was interested in the posthumous fate of her first love, Daniel. He was in Underbrooke, as Regina dubs it, but he’s apparently moved on to a better place now. Good for him. And she gets the chance for some closure. Then, together with Snow, they find an ailing horse that Regina heals. Her magic suddenly works! …how did that happen? Not sure. It might, I suspect, have something to do with her name being on a tombstone now, alongside Emma and Snow. They are residents now, so they’re limits are released.

Unfortunately, in addition to being trapped, it also means that, until they are released, the plan to split Emma’s heart for Hook as Snow once did for Charming just won’t work. (I admit, I completely forgot about that plan) So now they’re all stuck, with Rumple now collared by Hades. That’s just perfect.

castle titleCastle

“Fidelis Ad Mortem”

eight years in, now, and, wow, they still come up with new, surprising niches to explore. This one, I think, surprised me most of all: the police. Specifically, the police academy.

A promising young recruit, name of Bardot, is murdered, and with a police weapon to boot. That brings his entire team under suspicion, but they all alibi out, and then it turns out none of them had anything to do with his death. It looks like a notorious gangster, Lucky Jack Flanagan, is responsible, that he tried to use Bardot as his mole within the NYPD, and killed Bardot when he refused. But that’s not right either.

It turns out, Lucky Jack’s daughter, biologically-speaking, is at the academy as well. He tried to turn her, threatened to expose her true parentage and ruin her career. She was on “a ledge” because of that, but Bardot, her boyfriend as well as her teammate, talked her down. Then he made a deal with Flanagan on his own, delivering information in exchange for a guarantee that he’d stay away from her. But he caught a bit of information he didn’t realize was there until it was too late.

For a moment, it looked like the Sergeant who trained Beckett was the culprit because it was his car that was spotted following Bardot just before his murder. That would have been a typically sadistic thing for a storyteller to do, bring down the honored mentor, but he’d loaned the car to a friend: the head of the police academy, who was skimming funds to pay off his debts, because “he was owed.” Yeah, right, bull crap! They always justify themselves saying, “I deserve it!” Then, to save his own scaly hide, he killed a good young man who was training to devote his life to protecting people, and he has the temerity to keep saying, “I am owed,” as if that warrants murder? Freaking disgusting, it is.

I like how this episode sort of touched on both the past and the future. We saw Beckett was the one to set a bunch of records at the academy, yet she’s humble enough not to let it go to her head. We saw in Decker, the mob boss’s daughter, what could well be the Beckett of the next generation. We saw a trust and bond form between the two women, and the bond they have with the man who trained both of them and countless others. He’s a stalwart man who knows what each student has and lacks, and sees how they need to be pushed to become stronger. That’s a true teacher, that.

I just have to say, this was a really good introductory episode for Decker, and I hope we see her again! 🙂

And, as it happens, the relationship between Decker and Bardot helps Castle and Beckett with theirs. Castle comes clean about what he knows…

…after being interrupted the first time around, with the sudden, surprise arrival of his mother, taking us back three and a half seasons to when the two of them were first sneaking around together, complete with Beckett having to duck out without catching Martha’s attention (LOL! I was in stitches!)…

…also, after Hayley pushes him to tell her when he nearly loses his nerve, because whether or not Beckett forgives him is not his choice, but hers, which is very wise and mature…

…so, he comes clean about what he learned in LA, that he knew about Loksat and Bracken, and that he was protecting Beckett by having his memory wiped. This makes him, they both feel, somewhat culpable in everything since. They don’t really talk about it at first, just drink themselves into oblivion. Hayley has an idea on how to make it right, since they’ve got a solid lead on Loksat’s identity now. But before they do anything, Castle has decided he’s not going to do anything about Loksat without Beckett. Which is very intelligent.

Beckett learns an important lesson from Decker and Bardot. Each of them was strong and capable, but each of them tried to handle things alone. Now one is dead and the other is at a low point, maybe dropping out, or maybe continuing on… alone. But cops and couples aren’t supposed to be alone. That’s what makes them strong: they got someone watching out for them.

So Castle and Beckett have both arrived at the same point at the same time: they want, and need, to work together to take Loksat down.

…first, thing’s first, though: kiss time!

And all is right with the world! 😛

gotham-logo-screencapGotham

“Mad Grey Dawn”

Wow. As in… holy crap, wow.

How do you dispose of someone like Jim Gordon? He’s strong, tough, tenacious, resilient, cunning, clever, quick-thinking… basically, he’s your worst nightmare come to life, and he’s stormed through and walked away from all kinds of things that should have annihilated him. In any physical contest, Gordon will likely come out on top. So what’s Nygma, the Riddler, to do?

Answer: set a trap he can’t escape from, and one which closes before he even realizes it’s there.

It’s perfect for the Riddler. He’s always found his own self-worth in being smarter than everyone else, which is one reason he goes nuts when proven wrong in his contests against Batman. Against a physical foe like Gordon, Nygma uses only his brain. He’s constructed, in his own mind, a scenario where Gordon already knows he’s a murderer and is just playing a game with him, underestimating him. So he returns the favor by constructing a game of his own.

First he staged a bombing to scare people out of a museum, stealing one piece of little worth, leaving behind a question mark, and finally putting similar markings on two others. It’s a riddle that Gordon solves quickly and easily enough: there’s a bomb at the train station on Market Street. Nygma, in Step Two, places the bomb, waits for Gordon to be there and find it, then starts the timer. Gordon thinks fast, officers getting people out while he breaks into the locker with a crowbar and dumps the bomb into the most confined and sturdy location on hand, saving everyone. Step Three, as Nygma is put in charge of forensics for his own crime, is to obtain a few things, including one officer’s signature and the crowbar Jim used on the locker.

At the same time, Nygma placed an anonymous call to incriminate Gordon for Galavan’s murder all over again – he is guilty, you know – which makes Gordon antsy and sets him up for the fall.

Nygma goes to the apartment where lives the officer whose signature he acquired earlier, and clubs him to death with the crowbar. Gordon arrives soon after, investigating a false trail that leads to the phone right outside said apartment. He finds the body, and is quickly found by Barnes, who believes the dead officer called him to come over and talk about Gordon.

Before he knows what hit him, Gordon is buried under a mountain of damning evidence, both concrete and circumstantial. The story is simple, it flows, and it’s easy for Barnes to believe: Gordon killed Galavan with Penguin, the dead officer witnessed it and was about to come forward, but Gordon found out and killed him to keep him quiet. Bullock and Thompkins, the ones who already knew he was guilty of Galavan’s murder, are the only ones who believe in his innocence now. All they know is that someone set him up but good, and what little evidence they might have used to exonerate him, Nygma quietly gathered up.

The mighty Jim Gordon, brought low, imprisoned and alone, by the Riddler.

All it took was a signature, a crowbar, and Jim Gordon at the scene of the crime.

What hope does he have now?

…well, my personal answer: Harvey Bullock!

Bullock is great, but he doesn’t get that many chances to shine as Gordon’s partner and side-kick. This, however, will be epic. It’s the perfect opportunity for him, a man Nygma often underestimates, to pull the rug out from under him. And he is a good detective! Expose the Riddler, and the case against Gordon collapses! 🙂

Gordon needs all the help he can get now. He’s convicted of two crimes, one which he did commit, and one which he did not. To make matters worse, he’s pushed his fiance Thompkins away. There’s only darkness to him now, and he doesn’t see how he can get out of this one, so he wants her to leave, find someplace better to raise their child, keep them sheltered from the knowledge of his very existence. The darkness within in now surrounds him in the form of Blackgate Prison.

It’s time he learned a most pivotal lesson: the people who protect society from monsters cannot afford to become monsters themselves. Excuses do not matter, we cannot make rules that are convenient, break them when convenient, and then hide behind them again when convenient. Bruce learned this lesson last episode. Now it’s Gordon’s turn.

ADD moment: I’m reminded from A Man for All Seasons, when Thomas Moore says something like, “You’ll knock down the laws to pursue the Devil, and then where will you hide when he turns around on you, the laws all being flat?” Mind you, he was executed in the end, so it’s not a perfect comparison, but Gordon built the stage on which Nygma set the scene.

Elsewhere in this episode, Penguin is making the rounds inspired by his reformation. I can’t help but be disappointed that he isn’t obliterating Strange and Peabody, but surprises are good too. First he visits Butch and Tabitha, offering apologies and an olive branch… in the form of cupcakes. Tabitha, big surprise, wants to kill him (and does an incredible impersonation of his mother!), but Butch holds off on that. Letting Penguin live as he is is punishment enough, he thinks, and he’s right: they’ve all lost things in their war with each other.

Penguin visits Riddler, who is freaked out by this new version of him, trying to convince him to turn aside from the violence and death. It didn’t take, of course.

Finally, Penguin visits his mother’s grave and coincidentally meets a man who claims to be his father, who his mother told him died when he was a baby. Awww, such a happy, tender moment! …only, it’s not. It’s freaky and off-putting and terrifying how quickly the man takes Penguin in, and how quickly Penguin accepts, and the rest of the family is so perfectly accepting except for those surreptitious glances they give each other.

…yeah, things are not what they appear to be, I am certain. I’m not sure this isn’t all either some delusion or real-life scenario concocted by Strange to keep Penguin from causing trouble, or something else, likely very disturbing. Everything about this “family” makes me want to run away screaming.

…hang on, there didn’t seem to be any means of contact with the outside world, now that I think about it. Yet another strange and terrifying detail.

Finally, while Bruce isn’t battling purse snatches, as he said to Alfred in his letter, he is, instead, duking it out with drug dealers.

Selina introduces Bruce to the drug dealers in concert with Ivy, who grows their mushrooms. She laced their lunch with some mushroom that puts them into a dreamlike state, so Bruce and Selina can sneak upstairs and steal their cash. It goes well, until the arrival of their local boss, who catches them, calls his superior boss/uncle, and proceeds to rough them up. Selina is first, but Bruce steps in, and starts learning how to take a punch. Then the man brings up Bruce’s parents, and Selina flips out before Bruce can, and the two punch and kick their way out. Fairly well done, if also clumsy.

As Selina stitches him up, he shares how he felt. He felt unbreakable, as if he knew he would be all right no matter what happened to him. That’s an exhilarating feeling, like the high of a drug, but Selina soberly reminds him something she knows all too well: no one is unbreakable.

When the pair sees Gordon being convicted of murder, they’re shocked, Bruce more so than Selina. It’s difficult to believe, but Selina lost any real trust she had in Gordon back during the Firefly incident, while Bruce has still trusted him very much.

agentsofshieldseason3bannerAgents of Shield

“Parting Shot”

Wow.

This one turned out to be a real tearjerker.

Malick’s scheming takes them all to Russia, Hunter and Morse in the lead. They spy on a facility in the middle of nowhere, likely where the “sanctuary,” which will actually be a prison, is to be set up. They talk a bit, while waiting for backup to arrive, and the topic turns to everything they’ve given up for Shield, like how they have to do unpleasant things, how they have to put themselves last of all, and how they’ve never had a proper vacation together, ever. The talk gets interrupted by guards, who they easily take out and tie up, and they see an Inhuman being taken in, very much restrained. Finally, the team arrives.

They infiltrate easily enough. Daisy and Mack take over the security station, Morse poses as a guard to spy on the meeting between Malick and some higher-ups in the Russian government, while May and Hunter lurk about… and stumble onto the body of the Russian Prime Minister’s personal attache. That last lets them know things aren’t what they seem, and the clock is ticking to figure out what’s going on. Turns out, the Prime Minister opposes the sanctuary plan because his opposition supports it. He sent his man to shut the whole thing down, but a certain general, also an Inhuman, did not appreciate this and killed him. Not sure what else to do, the other ministers had him restrained so they could deliberate and meet with Malick.

So, Gideon Malick stands in the middle of a room of highly-influential people whose plans he can use to further his own ends, but who are in a tight spot because the one person mightier than them is their opponent, and he’s going to be out for blood when he learns his attache has been murdered. Gideon give a little speech about how important the Inhumans are, how they must align with them in order to survive, and so this measure, the sanctuary, is vital to the future of both Russia and the entire human race. If the Prime Minister is an obstacle, and about to be a very angry obstacle, then the simple solution is to remove him. And who better to remove the obstacle to an Inhuman sanctuary than the Inhuman general?

Just a few words, and Malick initiates a Russian coup.

…and then leaves, and whatever window they had to warn the minister and protect him quickly shuts because he’s coming there, right then! Shield has, like, half a minute to cobble together a plan to protect the Russian Prime Minister from assassination, with half a dozen agents, surrounded by enemies, operating on unfriendly soil, and with an unknown Inhuman acting as the assassin, and all while they’re real quarry gets away. Again. I’ll say this for Malick, he knows when to get out and avoid incriminating himself.

The team pulls off the job, saving the Prime Minister and taking out his opposition, but there’s a price. A very high price.

Hunter was the one escorting and protecting the Prime Minister. Daisy, Mack, and Morse together couldn’t lay a finger on the general. He can control his shadow as a sort of dark matter entity, impossible to really stop without the luxury of time to study and formulate some scientific counter-measure, like when Fitz managed to limit Gordon’s teleporting abilities last season. Time being something they don’t have, and Hunter facing the shadow alone, Morse makes the call, and exposes herself to capture after she shoots the general dead. The both of them are captured.

Sheesh, save a Prime Minister’s life and kill his enemies, and he tries to throw you under the bus.

It was a gripping, and entertaining, interrogation, but where Americans threaten to imprison people, Russians use the firing squad to pressure people into talking. But neither Morse nor Hunter break, not even for each other. With how much time they have to think and when they can finally talk, they realize the full of what they’ve done: they’ve endangered Shield itself. They had no choice, of course, sometimes things go sideways and you just can’t dodge the bullet.

To protect the king, sometimes you have to give up a pawn. Or a knight. Or even a queen. In this case: a pair of knights. If their connection to Shield is confirmed, then so is Shield’s existence, and their American sponsors. It’s the cold war all over again. Though Coulson and the rest are keen to rescue them, they choose to take the bullet instead, and be disavowed. They’re out, and they can never return to the fold. It’s the only way.

After being released (for saving the Prime Minister), they find themselves sitting alone, having a drink, contemplating their future. Then a drink, a single shot, is given to them anonymously, and they see Simmons in the background. They’ve burned the bridge so bad that their friends can’t even interact with them in public. But they can give them a farewell. A spy’s farewell, with a shot each from Simmons, Fitz, May, Daisy, Mack, and Coulson, each of them lurking “alone” in the background. Hunter and Morse are alone… yet surrounded by friends.

I cannot lie, and I probably lose macho points for this: I cried. Just a little.

Parting with friends is such sweet sorrow, especially friends and comrades as good and true as these. And they can’t even say anything. Can’t say “Good-bye,” or “See ya later.” Can’t even get close. Just send over a parting shot (ah… the title… very appropriate) and share a silent toast in their honor. A toast. For those who risked death to protect them, who gave everything… and now have to live with what they’ve sacrificed. It’s enough to break your heart. There are tears in almost everyone’s eyes. Especially Mack’s, the couple’s closest, dearest, and longest friend on the team. He’s their best friend, and they’re his. He’s the very last to drink, and leave. Coulson’s the last one out the door. And the two are left alone, with only each other.

It’s all very tender and… well, as I said, this was a tearjerker.

I’ve heard, of course, that they were thinking of making a spin-off, entitled “Most Wanted,” or something like that, headlined by Morse and Hunter, off on their own. The network entertained the idea, but felt like the end of last season wasn’t the right time to do it. I never thought I’d agree with a network, of all people, quite so much as I do now. We’d barely gotten to know Morse and Hunter by last season’s finale, and building a show around them right off the bat would have felt a bit weak, I think. Now, however… now we’ve gotten to know and care for these two. And now they’ve been given a proper send-off to leave Agents of Shield, to go and do their own thing. I really hope they do “Most Wanted” now. I will watch the crap out of that show.

Episode ends with Malick out shooting with his daughter (significant!), who knows everything about what her father does (more significant!), including how It has returned and Coulson does not know (very significant!). Great. Another enemy.

Well, at least they prevented the creation of Russia’s “sanctuary.” That gotta gall Malick a bit! 🙂

Flash-TV-Show-Teaser-TrailerThe Flash

“Trajectory”

…wow again!

So, picking up from last episode, Team Flash is trying to prepare to face Zoom again. For that, they need two things: find a way to reopen the Breach, and Barry needs to get faster, much faster, fast enough to take Zoom on again and win. They’re having some difficulty with the both of those, and Barry’s frustration comes to a boil when another speedsters starts zooming around town, robbing people and sullying the good name of the Flash. He gets especially angry when he learns that it could (and is) due to the use of Velocity-9.

When Cait was trying to save Garrick’s life, she sent part of the formula to an old friend to get some help. That friend is a genius who reverse-engineered the entire product, used it, got hooked, and apparently developed a second personality as a speedster, called Trajectory. This girl was a garden variety crazy, but she was faster than Barry, which drove his morality to the breaking point. He was going to take the V-9 himself, despite everyone’s well-founded warnings, because why do things the long, slow, hard way when everyone else cheats with the quick and easy way?

It’s actually a pretty normal sentiment, feeling frustrated when doing things the “right” way doesn’t seem to get you anywhere, while cheaters abound and zoom ahead. It’s even worse for people who are trying to save lives, and have dead people weighing on their conscience. Barry was angry, and he is self-sacrificing enough to take the drug and kill himself if it could get the job done. Taking the easy way is so… easy.

Wells the one who convinced him not to, in the end. He’s having his own problems, especially with his daughter Jesse. She’s feeling pretty confined, and after her hostage experience, can’t really blame her for wanting to see something outside Star Labs. Barry, Cait, and Cisco take her clubbing, and meet up with Iris and Wally too.

Interesting detail: her metahuman watch kept beeping. They all think it’s because of Barry’s presence, but Wally was there too. Could he already be a metahuman? Just maybe… dormant, perhaps? We’ll see.

Anyway, with the watch going off, Jesse goes to remove it and turn it off, stumbling onto her father’s journal in the process. You would think after being kidnapped, tormented, threatened, and nearly killed by Zoom, she’d appreciate her father’s strong protective instincts, but she’s horrified about the dark alleys he would explore for her sake. Of course, one might then think that she’d be glad he chose the better path, truly working with Team Flash to rescue her, but she’s still angry, and feeling confined. In the end, she leaves Star Labs to go explore the new world she’s in, starting with someplace called “Opal City.”

What Wells learns, and shares with Barry, is how you lose a piece of your humanity every time you compromise your values. It’s true, perfectly so, and when Barry comments on how rich that is coming from him – which, actually, I would listen to the voice of experience – Wells simply says, “So don’t be like me. Be better.” And walks away. Against that, Barry’s halfhearted resolve to use the V-9 crumbles.

Then comes the final confrontation with Trajectory. She dominates, and Barry is only able to save the lives she threatened, and nothing else. He tries. He tries hard. But he can’t make her choice for her, when she chooses to take the V-9 again for the umpteenth time. After being buried beneath others, no matter her hard work, for so long, she stands tall and strong and insane… and then she runs, her lightning turning blue, just as she disintegrates. She took the quick and easy, she went too fast for too long, and she ran herself to death, with only enough time, as she turned to dust, to scream in agony.

For once, the threat neutralized itself. That is the way of madness: it consumes you. A bit more literally in Trajectory’s case.

The artificial route is exactly that: artificial. Real strength, the kind that can endure, is built up slowly, with time and effort. Any other path runs a very real risk of self-destruction.

On the bright side, Iris’ editor may have just had his faith in mankind rekindled. He’s a cynic, having long years behind him of uncovering dirt and exposing supposedly virtuous men for the frauds they really were. It was even easier for him to believe the Flash was a criminal because everyone else believed in his heroism. Even more, when he went out for coffee with Iris, he read a certain romantic element in the experience, which was not Iris’ intention. (and he seems a touch older, but so did Eddie, so… whatever) But the Flash is exonerated despite his doubts, while Iris makes a sort of apology for her mistake and… well, lets him know he’s not automatically out of the running with her, at least. Heh.

The episode ended with Barry sharing a sneaking suspicion with the rest of the team (good, Barry, do not hide things from your trustworthy team!). It was the blue lightning, right when Trajectory was dying, that tipped him off. Wells realizes that Zoom is dying (called it!) and that is why he’s after Barry’s speed force, to save himself. So, blue lightning, impending death, and V-9 all together… two of those, they know applied to the Jay Garrick they knew, and now they know all three apply to Zoom.

They built up this emotional weight throughout the entire episode, with Barry needing to be faster, Cait hurting from recalling Jay’s suffering and death, and Cisco’s fear as he saw visions of Zoom. Now comes the impact, with Barry’s suspicions, everyone’s confusion, and Cisco realizing that his visions have all been in proximity to Jay’s helmet. Driven with anger and a need to know for sure, Barry shatters the glass casing, the monument to their friend, and gives it to Cisco, who is finally able to confirm: beneath Zoom’s mask is the face of Jay Garrick.

The team is crushed. Betrayed again. By another mentor figure.

All Barry can do is run off alone and scream at the sky.

Yeah. Emotional impact.

arrowcupidlogoArrow

“Broken Hearts”

…lots of wows this week!

Of course. What else would happen the episode after Ollie and Felicity break up than for his love-obsessed stalker, Cupid, to come back to town? After her last two objects of obsession, Deadshot and the Arrow, both died, she sank into a love depression, where love became this evil thing, “a bullet to the head.” These days, she takes her anger out on happy newlywed celebrities, kidnapping and murdering them.

To stop her, Ollie and Felicity stage a fake wedding of their own. With their break-up done, her move-out in progress, and all the guests getting uninvited, things are pretty shaky between them. Still, they try to be professionals and work together. Their friends keep nudging Ollie to make his feelings perfectly clear, which he eventually does, but Felicity won’t have it. She won’t tolerate another lie, and won’t take his word that he will never lie to her again. Admittedly, that tune is getting pretty old, so her skepticism is well-warranted. She still loves him, that’s not something that can just be turned off, and it’s her genuine feelings that get through to Cupid, stalling her long enough for the team to take her down and keep her from blowing up the building. But, when it’s all said and done, and with Cupid telling Felicity, “You two give the rest of us hope,” it’s still over between them.

And what Felicity feels is so strong that she can’t just keep working with the team every night. She needs some distance. It’s complete crockery when she says they don’t need her, as it has been demonstrated many times that they definitely do.

Still, at least this leaves the position of computer expert open on the team, and maybe we can see Curtis Holt step into the role as Mr. Terrific, eh? That would be cool.

As that emotional rigamarole gets worked out, Damien is having his first day in court, prosecution lead by Laurel Lance. The defense has a simple plan: get Damien off by claiming he isn’t even Damien. It’s patently ridiculous, but unexpected and potent. Suddenly they need to prove a truth so obvious that they don’t have any actual proof! That being the case, all they have is personal testimony, starting with Digs, who testifies about how Damien kidnapped him, Felicity, and Thea. But Damien and his lawyer are ready for that, complete with a terrible, and completely fabricated, smearing of both Digs and Thea, and likely they had one ready for Felicity too. Team Arrow’s backs are suddenly up against a legal wall, everything they’ve accomplished on the verge of being undone.

To keep Damien from walking, they have to make a real sacrifice: Lance testifies. He incriminates himself in the act, with Laurel herself asking the questions. That proves the final difference that keeps Damien locked up, at least for the moment. Lance is suspended, relieved of badge and gun, pending an investigation. He knew it would happen, and whether he manages to get off light or face the full legal consequences for what he did in Damien’s service, he’s at peace with himself. Whatever comes next, he’s ready.

So Damien is locked up, though still very confident, and he manages to keep his wedding ring. His wife is still out there, after all.

Finally, back in the past, Ollie is there when Reiter finds a most familiar idol, the same one that Damien has been using. It’s powered by human sacrifice, thus Damien giving his blood to it, and possibly the souls of his victims as well. That’s why Reiter intends to kill everyone: to start it up, like turning a key in the ignition. Between that, the general grim theme of these flash backs, and the fact that Damien eventually gets it while Ollie is left behind on the island, I’m thinking this is one fight that Ollie flat-out loses, with everyone dying, and his soul plunged into darkness.

Not without a fight, though. He and Taiana grab the idol and duck further into the underground. Reiter guards the only way out (that he knows of) but Ollie and Taiana manage to take down the first two men sent after them, and now they’re armed.

grimm_title_cardGrimm

“Lycanthropia”

And we’ve got a full house of wows! 😛

A lot of modern “horror” stories have, as their highlight, not just the blood and death and terror that the monsters inflict, but also an involuntary aspect to the monsters themselves: they are trapped, prisoners within their own minds and bodies, unable to stop themselves. They can’t not go on killing sprees. The blood-lust and other instincts are too strong. The Beast within takes over, or they are possessed by something external, and death is left in their wake.

In Grimm, there are a number of wesen who have been prisoners of similar instinct. Krampus, the mishipeshu, and others, all doing terrible things without even their own consent. Monroe himself stands as a reformed blutbad, a wolfman of sorts, with ill deeds in his past, and a tight control maintained over himself in present day. But one the most tragic yet draws inspiration from our stories about werewolves, though Grimm has it be the other way around: the lycanthrope, aka a werewolf.

Lycanthropia is apparently a genetic disease among some blutbad that often skips generations. Basically, come the full moon, sunset, moonrise, they go insane and proceed on a murderous rampage unless they’re successfully restrained. It’s super rare, because the parents used to kill their kids if they showed symptoms of it. Needless to say, the only known “cure” is death.

And that’s our freak of this week.

A fairly rich and successful man is heading to his mother’s place for a few days, but his car runs off the road when a tire blows out. He is horrified and starts running the rest of the way, only to hear some hikers nearby and dart into the woods. The hikers end up dead, mauled to death, while he found lying in the road the next morning. Wu notices some interesting details when he gets there and calls Nick and Hank for support, who in turn call in Monroe and Rosalee.

They’re able to figure out what they’re dealing with, but have only the thinnest idea on how to deal with it. They go with, “Lock up the guy they found in shredded, bloody clothing overnight, and tranquilize him after he woges.” Small detail: it’s not him. It’s his mother. His mother, man. He was evasive, lied, tried to escape custody, but it was all to help his mother stay contained, to protect her, and protect everyone else from her.

Speaking of which, for someone who’s done this for several decades, they have a few holes in their system. The dungeon they lock her in needs someone to lock if from the outside in order to work? They only have duct tape, no, like, actual chains and such? Pretty thin means of containing “a blutbad on steroids.” But that’s beside the point.

Nick and the others find her, corner her, and her son tries to talk her down, bring her back to her senses. But it’s useless. She lashes out, could have killed him, and only failed because Nick and Hank shot her with their guns. And so the tragedy becomes complete, with her son, her last living loved one, howling a mournful cry into the night sky.

…well, her tragedy becomes complete. Another one is just beginning.

Wu got scratched during their counter, and is immediately exhibiting strange and foreboding symptoms under the full moon.

Dun-dun-DUN!

While that’s going on, Black Claw uses Rachel to increase their pressure on Renard to give them an answer, one way or the other. Renard reveals to Adalind what he knows about Meisner killing his father the king and taking Diana, discovering her returning status as a hexenbiest when they meet. She’s impatient to have her daughter back at last, uneasy about her relationship with Nick, caught between Nick and Renard, and makes a veiled threat to him as they part. Yeah, she has a complicated life.

Eve is able to enter Rachel’s home when she leaves to talk to Renard, who’s answer we don’t know yet, and discover evidence of Black Claw’s political interest in him. She shares it with Nick and Hank, who pass it on to the others. They don’t know how deep Renard is with Dixon’s murderers, but now they know they need to keep a close eye on both him and Rachel, and maybe others within Dixon’s former campaign staff. The intrigue is quietly heating up.

Finally, Nick hides the chest with the healing stick within it down in the tunnel while Adalind is asleep, and then manages to open the door with great difficulty, only to find a ladder leading down into an extremely deep abyss. Just what is down there? And how is it going to come into play?

And, this is my one real qualm with the episode, what are they doing with Wu’s character? Is this the second or third time he’s been infected with something dangerous of wesen origin? Either way, they’re doing that again? Come on!

(sigh) I’m sure it’ll be great, but it is a touch repetitive, ya know?

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