This Week on TV, April 2, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

This week had some ups and downs. Once Upon a Time was as good as ever. Castle didn’t show. Gotham was good but left something to be desired. Agents of Shield was pretty intense. The Flash did not do so well. Arrow did all right. Legends of Tomorrow… I may end up dropping that one from the weekly lineup, but I’ll stick it through at least to the season finale. And Grimm had a fairly typical episode, which means I enjoyed it. 🙂

Also, this week was an exercise in keeping things more blurby and less lecturing. How’d I do?

Once-upon-time-logoOnce Upon a Time

“The Brothers Jones”

Out of everyone we’ve seen die on this show, I think the one I was least expecting to see was his brother, Liam. I admit, I completely forgot that Hook’s real last name was Jones. It just slipped my mind. 😛

Once we’d met Hook’s saintly brother, however, it came as no surprise that he was not so saintly after all. He had a secret, dark and terrible. Long ago, he chose to remain in indebted servitude with his brother, rather than leave him behind for a life in the navy. Then their captain sailed them into a terrible storm, one that threatened to claim everyone’s lives, in search of a legendary treasure. Liam, with his brother’s support, led a mutiny “to save the lives of his men,” but, really, it was only to save his brother. A fine thing, to be certain, but he was still being selfish, which left him vulnerable when Hades, Lord of the Underworld, showed up with an offer: in exchange for letting the ship sink, and letting every man aboard die, Hades would spare the Jones brothers and give Liam the fabled Eye of the Storm, granting them a quick path into the navy. Liam took the deal, and betrayed his men even while his brother vouched for him

So, though Liam himself is the one to lead a new “mutiny” of sorts against Hades, Hades had the ultimate dirt on him, turned him into a double agent. While that ruse was short-lived, thanks to Emma’s keen eye and the former captain overhearing Hades and Liam’s deal, it served Hades purpose. However, when Liam chose to give his soul rather than try and preserve it, again to protect his brother, to satisfy the anger of those he betrayed, and to face his own guilt… well, that was when his unfinished business was complete, and took those sailors he betrayed to a better place.

This experience, fortunately, gives Hook some illumination. He, like pretty much everyone who has ever done something truly terrible, believes he is beyond forgiveness, beyond saving, so his goal is to get Emma home, but stay behind in the Underworld anyway. But now that he’s seen the brother he put in a pedestal at his very worst and seen him achieve redemption… well, his fighting spirit is rekindled. He’s willing to forgive himself now.

Still, it would seem the damage is done. Liam was able to point the Storybrooke crew towards finding the Underworld equivalent of the storybook, knowing it had Hades’ story within. They all think it could tell them his weakness, and certainly there is something he wants to keep secret. When Liam sends the pages down the well, and apparently down the gray river to Hades’ throne room, it appears he is successful.

Small detail: Henry. He’s tired of being sidelined and ignored – and now it makes so much more sense why he’s there, because he managed to force his way in – and he wants to use his powers as the Author to set things right, to make things happen the way he wants them to. That’s a terrible power, and he was right to refuse it once before, but he was still just an idealistic child at the time. A lot has happened since then, and he has felt powerless, helpless, knowing he could have done something to help. Cruella doesn’t even know she’s exploiting that vulnerability, but the Apprentice knows of it, and warns him against it. But he also trusts Henry and tells him where he can find the pen, which he does.

Now that he’s had a chance to cool down, however, Henry is choosing not to alter the story already in progress, but simply to restore what was taken from the storybook.

Which apparently tells the tale of Hades and… Zalina?! Again?! Are we never going to hear the last of the Wicked Witch?

gotham-logo-screencapGotham

“Prisoners”

Gordon is not doing well in prison. He’s been in protective custody, but it’s still wearing on him. One of the heaviest blows ever comes when he learns, from Bullock, that Thompkins had a miscarriage. The next day, the warden, a corrupt man who happens to be an old friend of former commissioner Loeb, transfers him into the most hellish and dangerous corner of general population, intent on his death.

The first attempt is deflected by an unexpected ally, a petty thief whose sister Gordon once saved, as the young man, barely more than a kid, puts himself between Gordon and the people who want to kill him. After that, his enemies attack the boy again, hurt him so badly that he dies a prolonged death from his injuries. Gordon only knows him briefly, but he leaves a powerful mark on the man. He tells Gordon that he needs to “choose life,” instead of the death and darkness that Gordon has been choosing, and chose that night he killed Galavan.

Deep in a dark pit, that is where Gordon finally finds a redeeming light. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Bullock is relentless in his efforts to help Gordon. He’s been investigating, and it was my hope that he would be the one to unmask the Riddler. But apparently not. 😦 Instead, he turns to an old acquaintance for help. Yep, he’s desperate enough to ask Carmine Falcone for help. It works, they’re able to get Gordon out by faking his death, and then comes the time to make a choice. As appealing as it might be to run way, Gordon wants to get back to his fiance, and for that he needs to confront whoever framed him, and for that he needs to return to Gotham. Besides, he’s never been one to run, and he’s always been one to fight.

It’s good… but, I dunno, I was kind of hoping they’d have Gordon in prison a little longer, give him more time in metamorphosis, and let Bullock take down Nygma. Instead it’s a one-and-done deal and Gordon get the spotlight despite Bullock going above and beyond to help him. (sigh)

In other news, I was certainly right to beware Penguin’s new “family,” of sorts. His father, blessedly, seems to not be anything murderous, merely a bit unbalanced and creepy. The others, however, are very shady folk. They, too, are a bit unbalanced, but they’re just gold-diggers. First they try to discredit Penguin by exposing his past as a criminal overlord, but Penguin had already confessed that to his father. Then comes one of the clumsiest and most obvious attempts at seduction ever, so bad I had to laugh! But Penguin was never one to fall for that sort of thing in the first place, and now… well, let’s just say she makes zero headway. So, Plan C, they decide to just kill Penguin with poison, because there’s no way that would make his father upset and suspicious, is there? Unfortunately, it’s not Penguin but his father who drinks it. For a second time, now, Penguin is left crying in misery, surrounded by enemies, as a creepy parent dies in his arms.

Ok, I’m thinking the murderers may get caught due to the inconsistencies between what they say and what the evidence suggest, but they do have an easily-believable scapegoat in the form of Penguin. It may be that they’ll have him realize the truth, without anyone believing him, so he takes matters into his own hands and kills them all. Either way, I would not want to be one of those three right now.

This, at least, is one thing I’m glad they did not drag out. This whole “family” has been way too creepy, and we’ve only known them for one full episode.

agentsofshieldseason3bannerAgents of Shield

“Watchdogs”

Can you say, “setup for Civil War?”

Hmmm… I do believe this may be the first time the upcoming events of the movie, and what lay behind them, are being explored on a television show. It’s usually the show dealing with the movie’s aftermath, not the show setting up the move. Hmm. Interesting.

Anyway, Mack is having a couple days off for once to hang with his little brother… I think his name was Reuben? …eh, whatever, things are tense between the Brothers Mack. Mack is keeping secrets, and has to run off to work when the Watchdogs go from “hate group” to “terrorist organization with super-advanced weaponry” (Oooh! Nitramene! Coooool!) and turn an ATCU building into a lump of rock inside a crater. Meanwhile, Reuben is trying to just keep it together now that he’s been laid off and can’t pay the mortgage, which makes him very frustrated, which makes him angry at people who seem to have so much power and surely must be making his life worse simply by existing, meaning the Avengers, the Inhumans, etc.

You know what makes a civil war so heart-breaking? It’s brother against brother. Both literal and figurative.

Fortunately, Reuben gets a real good look at who the Watchdogs really are. Unfortunately, this involves being one of their targets. As the Watchdogs have also built up this “threat” in their mind, it’s easy for them to believe that its the big guy, Mack, who has the superpowers, rather than the “little, unassuming girl,” so they invade his home, burn his bikes, and try to kill both him and his brother. But though Mack is a mechanic, he is also one of Shield’s best agents, and he takes down all five of them with Reuben’s help, and a shotgun-battleaxe. 😀

Things are much more clear between the brothers now, and Reuben meets Daisy. A regular person. A person, period. One who is not so invincible, not without feelings or fears or regrets. A person. His brother’s friend, who cares for him and relies on him.

Prejudice is rooted in ignorance, and Reuben’s ignorance has been shattered. We may well see him again, this time on the right side of his own volition.

But, there are divides between partners too. Daisy, in this episode, became exactly what she always feared and fought against as a hacker in the Rising Tide: a scary, threatening, superhuman force that invades people’s lives and forces them to talk. She may not have gone completely across the line, but she got really close, and certainly set one foot across. She, too, is afraid, for herself and for people like her. She’s afraid of the hatred and prejudice that seems to be closing in around them. She made mistakes that nearly had severe consequences, not only for Mack and Reuben, but also in how Fitz nearly died from a nitramene blast. We can only hope that she’s learned from them.

Elsewhere, Coulson faces off against the hatred as well, when he tracks down the Watchdogs’ new leader and sponsor, former agent of Shield, Blake, whom last we saw getting stepped on by Deathlok. He was paralyzed, and still is, but uses holographic technology to appear like he’s standing, and communicates with various Watchdog cells across the country. He spouts lines about all these alien threats and how sickening it is for Coulson to still exist, a line of thought which clearly affects the man as he recalls killing Ward solely out of hatred. But Blake’s just one of Hydra’s pawns now, trapped in a wheelchair and bargaining whatever is left of his soul to get what he wants, which, at the moment, is high-tech weaponry to hunt down “the freaks.” Unaware that he’s talking to one, and one who is tethered to the single worst freak of them all.

Along the same thread, Lincoln’s never truly had a place at Shield, not really, and he’s there for Daisy, not the cause Shield serves. These things were reflected on his assessment, and Coulson made himself clear that is a risk he’s not willing to take without good reason. Also, he let loose on both Creel and Lash, but as that was in self-defense, I can hardly blame him there. Still, Coulson give him a chance to prove himself, which he does. He controls his power, his anger, himself, at Coulson’s order. Then when Coulson changes his orders, he offers a dissenting opinion, so he’s won’t follow blindly. But then he does follow Coulson’s orders. Yet without resorting to lethal force. The combination of choices impressed Coulson.

Finally, Simmons is trying to address her weaknesses. She feels guilt for what happened to those twelve Inhumans Lash killed after she let him out of his cage. She only needed to do that because she was weak, so she’s getting stronger, practicing at the gun range. May finds her, and she blames herself too, for not putting her ex-husband in the ground before. May counsels Simmons not to hide from the guilt, but to use it as a motivator, and the two begin hunting Lash together. That starts with Simmons’ insight that May is looking for “Andrew,” but Lash is not Andrew, so she needs to alter her thinking. They always talk about thinking like your quarry in order to catch it, but it’s not so successful when your thinking like the wrong quarry.

Flash-TV-Show-Teaser-TrailerThe Flash

“Flash Back”

Barry is enraged and frustrated and getting a bit desperate now. It turns out that the rate of motion between himself and his two enemies, Zoom and Reverse-Flash, is roughly the same. It’s just that they manage to get more out of each step than he does, and that’s a critical difference. In his desperation, Barry decides to time travel one year-ish into the past and get some tips from Thawne himself. And since that is already such a splendid idea, he decides that he should knock out and impersonate his past self. Absolutely no way that could possibly go wrong!

Seriously, this was a “blah” episode, especially right after the emotional blows of last episode, not least because this had to be the worst idea they’ve ever had. Still, they manage to succeed despite all the complications, including a Time Wraith trying to kill them all, and whoo, Thawne has handed Barry the secrets of the speed force. Great.

Still, this episode was not entirely without merit. We saw Thawne again, saw Iris get some closure in the form of a video message from Eddie, and we saw the beginning and the end of a former-enemy’s journey to becoming an occasional ally of the team, which was strange and utterly out of continuity with the rest of the show, but oddly gratifying.

Not entirely bad. But this was easily one of the weakest episodes this season.

Arrow-logo-header-Season-4Arrow

“Beacon of Hope”

This week’s freak is an old enemy, Bree Larven, the girl with the army of robotic bees. Turns out, she has a tumor in her spine and needs surgery to save her life, but that will leave her paralyzed, so she wants the biochip that lets Felicity walk, and since there’s only one, she is fully prepared to rip is straight out of her flesh. She takes over the Palmer Tech building, holds the board hostage, kills one, and pursues Felicity relentlessly, and that’s before she learns Felicity is the hacker that defeated her last year.

With Felicity cut off from the team and trapped in the building with Thea and her mother, it’s a pure stroke of luck that Curtis is eager to help and capable of finding them. Speaking of, he’s able to just enter the base because secrecy is Team Arrow’s only security measure. They may want to address that, but for the moment, it works out. They have an equal peer of Felicity spontaneously in their midst, and though he doesn’t really fit in so well, he’s very helpful in disabling the swarm of robot bees, saving everyone, especially Ollie, and turning them against their maker. Not bad, especially since he was very sick at the time.

Both Ollie and Felicity have similar things to go through right now, including the emotional aftermath of breaking up and wanting to give hope to the city. Though, having four people utter the words “beacon of hope” was a little on the nose, but whatever. By the end, Ollie is resolved to keep fighting and Felicity wants to turn Palmer Tech into that much-needed beacon. Thea can’t imagine ever giving up the exciting life of a vigilante, but Felicity was never in it for the excitement. She just wanted to help people.

And can I just say, it was nice seeing the Black Canary actually be the Black Canary, complete with using the sonic cry to disable robot bees and save Ollie? That was cool.

Also, Curtis and Lance dodging that bee and destroying the base more thoroughly than most enemies would, was kind of hilarious.

In other news, Damien and Merlyn have a little chat. It turns out HIVE is not happy with Damien using magic to kill them whenever he gets angry. Gee, how surprising. This is one of those times where it would have been better to be loved than feared, because people who fear you are happy to abandon you. They’re still moving forward with the plan – it turns out Alex, in need of a job, may soon be working for Ruvee unless Felicity can give him a job first – but without his involvement. So he’s limited, but still potent, as evidenced by how he turns the prison’s “big deal” against his two friends, apparently by threatening his grandmother or something like that. No surprise.

And then Damien is able to pass a message to Merlyn, who joins up with Digs’ little brother Andy, Damien’s “ace in the hole.” Disappointing, but not really surprising at this point.

Oh, and back in the past, Ollie and Taiana manage to get the advantage over Reiter, who has become bullet proof among other things, thanks to the idol, which we know will eventually pass to Damien. Thing is, the idol’s power needs to be continually fed, and its powers may be useful, but they’re hardly “godlike.” The power runs out, Reiter goes looking for the idol while Ollie and Taiana intend to kill all the guards and rescue all the hostages. It seems they don’t realize that any lives will do for the idol. I can see it now: they kill the guards, Reiter becomes unstoppable, and everyone dies. He gets off the island, Ollie does not, and somehow or other, Damien gets the idol later.

Legends-of-Tomorrow-LogoLegends of Tomorrow

“Left Behind”

So, Chronos sabotages the Waverider and makes off with… Cold? Why Cold, instead of Rip? Actually, I suspected the answer to that one the moment the question was asked, but it was only confirmed when we saw him again, and it turned out to be none other than Heatwave beneath that mask.

Instead of killing him, Cold just left him behind in an isolated place, intending to go back for him when the mission was done. Then the Time Masters found him, fashioned him into their weapon, and eventually sent him after the Legends. The prodigal, the traitor, the fallen Legend, returns to reap vengeance, and he intends to do it by making Cold watch as he kills Cold’s sister… then travel one day back in time, and do it again, and again, and again.

Meanwhile, the Waverider was in a time-and-space freefall of sorts, only coming out once Gideon was rebooted, and that was in 1960, a full two years after Ray, Kendra, and Sara were left behind. Ray and Kendra lived together as a couple, with Ray becoming a college professor and Kendra a librarian. Ray stubbornly worked on a time beacon as a distress signal to the Waverider, but he was eventually ready to destroy it and marry Kendra, settle down permanently. But then it came out of freefall, and it was right back to the old rhythm. Kendra took to it like a fish to water, but Ray felt something at being pulled from the roots they’d just been setting down, and was hurt when it seemed like Kendra didn’t really value their relationship. The opposite turned out to be true: she wanted to be with him, and do so as their real selves, not the facade they put up to survive 1960.

Meanwhile, Sara went back to the only life she knew she could fit in, with the League of Assassins. It was cool seeing Ra’s again, and the Easter egg of seeing Talia too! But Ra’s was an enemy, after all, albeit one that Rip knew much about, and he did have Sara under his thrall, partially due to the effects of time travel. It took Kendra to get through to her in the midst of a duel, and then they were interrupted by Chronos storming in. The Legends were able to soundly defeat him, as he was up against Firestorm, Hawkgirl, and the White Canary. In fact, it was only Cold’s escape – that was brutal, by the way – that spared his life.

With the team reassembled, Chronos in custody, and Cold’s, ah, injuries healed, they decide two things: 1) they intend to reform Chronos (because they have just what they need to undo “lifetimes” of Time Master conditioning, right?) and 2) they intend to attack Savage in Kasnia in 2147, a most perilous era. Instead of going back in time to have the advantage of surprise again, they’re going way forward, to just a few decades before Savage’s victory. This is it. This is where they either win or die. For some reason. Just because.

…right.

grimm_title_cardGrimm

“Skin Deep”

If there is one thing guaranteed to enrage me, it is when people put superficial things ahead of human life. Not to mention lies and betrayal, the promise of hope followed immediately by a horrible death.

This week’s freak is an insect-like Mu-whatsis-thingy that has six syllables in a foreign language to its name. Seriously, it is impressive that everyone on the show can ever pronounce these names. But I digress.

The Mu-whatsis drains people of their youth and beauty in a process that leaves them dead within hours as they rapidly age. He’s a photographer, using flattery, the potential promise of a career in modeling, and even an honest appreciation for natural beauty to lure vibrant young people into his studio, where he drugs and drains them, then sends them home to die. Step into my studio, said the spider to he fly.

…hmm, you notice how every single insect or arachnid wesen seems to be an unusual serial killer of some variety? I know there are plenty of others, typically with occult rituals of blood sacrifice, but the creepy-crawly ones seem to be especially bad. The spider is compelled to drain people of blood, the fly drinks tears and inserts lethal parasites, now this thing drains youth for whatever reason, and it may not even be part of survival, just something they do. I mean, he’s able to sell the stuff to a doctor at a beauty clinic, who becomes obsessed with it and turns ever more monstrous as he uses it on himself and sells it to others.

The wesen put his wallet ahead of human life, and the doctor put youth and beauty ahead of everything. It’s sickening.

Anyway, Nick and the others solve the case quickly enough, spare Portland the horror of a what would have been a booming business in beauty atop the corpses of innocent men and women. The Mu-whatsis was, in close quarters, surprisingly strong, able to hold his own against Nick, Monroe, Hank, and Rosalee, but only to be killed by the doctor himself, who had lost his mind and soon succumbed to the side-effects of the treatment he’d become obsessed with. I have no sympathy for either criminal, on any level whatsoever.

In other news, Eve is still investigating Renard’s potential connection to Black Claw. She warns Nick that she’ll need to know Renard’s movements after explaining her reasoning. It’s sound reasoning, mind you, and hits close to the mark. Renard finally talks to Nick and Hank about his potential candidacy, and he announces that he’s running for mayor by the end of the episode. Nick and Hank know they need to be on their guard. The game has officially begun. The only advantage they have is that the enemy does not know they hold their Captain’s motivations as suspect. Renard seems to be trying to do right by Dixon and do good for the city, but not only has he often been more selfish and ambitious than that, but I’m still wary of how wishy-washy he suddenly gets around Rachel. Is she doing something to him?

Eve decides to take drastic measures. The episode ends as she uses the shape-shifting spell to take on Renard’s form. Yep, that won’t get complicate at all. I can’t help but be afraid of some side-effects that might bring the crazy version of Juliette back, but even if not… it kind of seems ill-advised, even insane.

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