This Week on TV, May 7, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

Oooh, this was a fairly good week! Once Upon a Time thrust us towards its finale. Gotham and Castle both delivered as well. Agents of Shield is heating up, readying for its own explosive finale. The Arrowverse trio of The Flash, Arrow, and even Legends of Tomorrow stepped things up a bit, most dramatically in the latter’s case. Unfortunately, no Grimm this week. 😦

Once-upon-time-logoOnce Upon a Time

“Firebird”

Villains can be very clever at times, ya know?

Rumple teamed up with Peter Pan, but the moment he got what he wanted, namely the contract being ripped up, he had no further interest in their alliance. When Pan tried to get what he wanted by threatening Belle, Rumple went and stole Robin Hood’s heart to give to Pan. Except he immediately put that heart right back where it belonged and put a wineskin filled with water from the River of Lost Souls into Pan’s chest instead. Pan dissolved and joined the river right in front of Rumple’s gloating face. Then he took Belle and went home through a portal without looking back, his business complete, done and done.

Hades was quite a bit worse, though. Zelena’s kiss restarted his heart, and he seemed to be helpful from that moment on. He erased all their names from the tombstones, told them about the portal, and illuminated their understanding: they can’t give Hook half a heart because Hook’s been dead a little while now, his soul far from his rotting body. Then he directed them to the ambrosia fruit so they could get it and use it to revive Hook. He put up a good facade, but it was a little too good. People don’t change quite that much that fast, ya know? And he, like all the people he’s kept imprisoned, wanted only to leave. He didn’t really have any interest in helping the Storybrooke crew. Quite the opposite, he wanted them out of the way, and used pawns, as usual, to make that happen.

Cruella decided to take over the Underworld, and for that, she stopped Henry the Author writing stories, even trapping them in the clock tower with the gingerbread witch’s help, who had Hades’ help. Mind you, in her place, I would have wanted the heroes gone as quickly as possible. Not much they can do for the dead if they’re back in the world of the living, but if they’re still in the Underworld… well, they could easily help everyone. So, not the most logical, but Cruella and the witch have never been paragons of rational thinking.

Meanwhile, Hook and Emma went waaaaaaay down to find the ambrosia fruit. There was a fairly basic test of her worthiness, to see whether she loved Hook or herself more, which she easily passed. But then they found the tree cut down, the fruit dead and withered. It was all just a distraction to keep them in the Underworld while he took Zelena and her baby to Storybrooke. And with that knowledge came the weight of truth: they can’t bring Hook back to life. They have no means to do so, and, really, it was Emma’s refusal to accept that in Camelot which set this whole debacle into motion.

They have to say good-bye.

That was heartbreaking. We saw, in flashbacks, when and where Emma first put armor around her heart, when she found an unexpected mentor who died not long after they met, and now that we’ve seen if finally coming off, we see the hurt freshly wounding her exposed heart. After everything, this entire season, which has been about Emma trying to hold on to him… she has to let him go. He stays put, and she rises back up to the land of the living.

She finds her family trapped, but she and Regina are able to break the spell. Together, they’re able to duck through the portal to Storybrooke just as it’s closing, hot on Hades’ heels. With Snow already in Storybrooke and all the rest closing in behind, things won’t go so well for Hades, I think. But the worst will be when Zelena finds out about his deception. Will she manage to stay reformed, now that she’s a mother and a real sister again? Or will she choose her “true love,” the lying god?

On the bright side, I imagine Hook would be inclined to take the throne from Cruella and the Witch, and maybe the Underworld could have a fairly fair master for awhile. That still leaves the question of releasing everyone like Mila and Auntie Em from the River, but one thing at a time.

castle titleCastle

“Much Ado About Murder”

This was a fairly convoluted plot, which took us through many a twist and turn before circling us right back around to the beginning.

The week’s victim is a terrible actor, though the very last line he recited in life seemed fairly legit to me. He was playing Hamlet, and he was killed by a woman whom he drove mad with betrayal. An actor killed by a director. Heh.

The two of them were old friends from theater school days. He went off to be a terrible actor in blockbusters, making a fortune and losing more than he had. She directed small-time plays, loving the art, but never having any great success. But he has a venture under way to save himself and loops her into it.

The idea is to locate a most notorious drug lord and turn his life story into a biopic. For that, he had to prove himself, so he dropped out of a big movie and joined the Hamlet play, offering his old friend the role of director in exchange for her help. However, time being of the essence, he went with a better offer, selling the drug lord himself to the authorities and his enemies, letting his little brother take over the empire. With that done, the drug lord dead, and the actor’s bank account full of money once more, he would go off to star in the biopic. And, bonus, the new drug lord would happily let him have all of the rights, including the right to direct. Being an opportunistic, self-centered vulture, he went with that idea and cut his director friend out, going back on their deal even while his terrible performance threatened to end her career.

Hell hath no fury like a woman, especially one so scorned.

Out of all of this, Castle emerged with a story to tell of when the drug lord kidnapped him so he could write the biopic script. And then, when said drug lord was arrested, then escaped custody, and sent materials to Castle for writing the script, Castle got straight to work! When you have a madman with power prowling at your heels, you tend not to drag your feet! 😛

gotham-logo-screencapGotham

“Azrael”

So, Strange has two problems: a mad Galavan and an angry Gordon. But when Riddler, trying to worm his way out of confinement, mentions how everyone has a story, the answer hits Strange like a bolt of lightning. He sees that Galavan’s brain is trying to put his identity back together, so he gives it something concrete to lock on to, namely the story of Azrael. Thus convinced of his status as a resurrected warrior of righteousness, Galavan, now answering to Azrael, tries to kill Gordon, as Strange ordered him to.

Two birds, one stone.

Thus, Gotham meets its first dark knight.

About that, I have to say… as much as I’ve noticed and somewhat enjoyed Gotham‘s running theme of inheriting things from previous generations, having Bruce Wayne be inspired to become Batman by seeing Azrael in action feels like something of a let-down. Batman is supposed to be the brainchild of Bruce Wayne himself, not the evolved imitation of a villain, ya know?

I’m also rather afraid that everything is going to pot a little too fast. Bruce still has far too much growing to do before he can be Batman, but here, now, years ahead of his debut, we have the entire city already falling into madness, with Hugo Strange leading the way as he intends to install new identities into a number of his patients, like the Mad Hatter. Appropriate, him reading that line about madness in Alice in Wonderland right as Peabody expresses reservations about what they’re doing.

One thing they did right, though, was using Gordon’s experience to push Bruce away from the darkness, away from murder. That is a hallmark of Batman: he does not kill, neither does he simply let others die. He’ll be taking the law into his own hands, yes, but he will not kill people. Not even the Joker. And how appropriate for him to be saying that exactly now, when his sins have been resurrected and are coming for his blood.

Barnes and Gordon collide verbally, but at heart they’re kindred souls, I think. When Azrael mows straight through the police, it’s Gordan and Barnes working together that turn the tide. But it comes at a high price, when Barnes is put into critical condition. Gordon barely got there in time with a much bigger gun to punch through Azrael’s armor – though it only took a lead pipe to break to sword – and send him over the edge of the roof, into the public eye.

On the bright side, all the craziness should pave the way for Gordon to become commissioner. On the less-bright side, everyone needs to unite if they’re going to take down Strange’s rising circus of freaks. Penguin’s completely unhinged now, but he sees Azrael on television and he’ll be out for blood now. Then there’s Tabitha, Butch, and Barbara – I’m fairly certain that actress must have had fun playing such a crazy woman – who were Galavan’s allies but, being reminders of his old life, could well be on Azrael’s hit list before long, especially as Tabitha betrayed him in the end. Riddler manages to find the secret elevator, having seen enough of his inmates disappear down that hallway, spirited towards their demise, and is surprised to find himself in Indian Hill, but smiles, because he can use this. Finally, Bruce and Alfred are left to behold the madness descending on their city from the mansion, spurred on all the more by Strange.

Quite a lot happening, but I don’t see how they keep this show going for much longer when everything is so chaotic. If the police manage to combat all these villains, what is need for Batman? And if they can’t what’s going to be left of the city for Batman to save?

agentsofshieldseason3bannerAgents of Shield

“Failed Experiments”

So, Hive’s plan is finally revealed in full: turn everyone in the world into Inhumans under his control.

The first attempt at such, however, did not go so well. Personally, had I been those last surviving Hydra members who escaped the military – at long last, Hydra is finally dead, I hope – I would not have considered it a “reward” to be the first guinea pigs in an experiment like that, but I’m certainly not going to complain about them being reduced to sludge. “We are evil and will have superpowers!” Sorry, nope! 🙂

So the Hive initiates Plan B: use the device it fears. I was wrong, apparently. It was not a fail-safe against him, it was merely the means to call the Reapers, the Kree warriors who originally captured him and turned him into what he is now. For all his power, he fears them. They are his bogeymen. But he faces them, and defeats one of the two. Right after witnessing that, May and her team open fire with everything they’ve got, to absolutely no effect.

The other one required Daisy to stop it, and I’m still just praying that we did not actually just see Alisha die. That would suck, ya know? Being able to multiply wasn’t so handy, but Daisy used her shockwaves to brilliant effect combined with her combat ability. She took that one down! I’m still glad she won and lived, but then Mack interfered and, unable to convince her to come back with him, he destroyed the Kree before they could harvest much of its blood, which left him at Daisy’s no-longer-existent mercies. She nearly killed him, and would have if not for May’s team rescuing him on their way out.

That leaves Daisy, always willing to sacrifice herself and totally in thrall to the Hive, offering her own blood, with a little bit of Kree blood mixed in, to make up for losing their limited supply.

What really galls me about that is how, if the Hive spares her at all, it’ll just be so it has a longer supply of blood to use in converting humans to Inhumans.

And the faint hope they had of finding a cure for the Hive’s infection went up in smoke. Lincoln did what he had to, the only thing left for him to do after being frozen out of everything else, and took the experimental cure himself. It left him exhausted, nearly dead, and with a non-functional immune system. And it didn’t even work. That has to burn.

On a lighter side, I have to say, I rather loved how May totally wrapped that blowhard around her little finger. 🙂

Flash-TV-Show-Teaser-TrailerThe Flash

“Rupture”

And The Flash takes a step up this week!

So Zoom is out to conquer the world, Caitlin kept forcibly at his side. Seeing him trying to care about someone like that, enough to influence his decisions, felt a bit off-balance and out of character for him. It’s possible he’s simply lonely in his madness, but considering how he keeps killing everyone, being alone is hardly surprising.

While Zoom is beginning a campaign against the police, he also sends Rupture, the Earth-2 metahuman equivalent of Cisco’s brother Dante, to kill Cisco. The cops set up at Jitters, of all places, while Cisco runs and gets Dante to safety. Eventually, Zoom sends Rupture to deal with the police, but Cait is able to warn her friends and they turn it into a trap. Taking Rupture down was easy enough, but then an enraged Zoom comes in 1) reveals that “the Flash” is just a hologram now, 2) demands capitulation from the powers that be in the city, and 3) snaps the necks of all the cops and media people who are not Barry, Joe, and the Captain. The latter is spared to order his men to stand down, while the former two are spared for Cait’s sake.

Being thoroughly defeated, Barry finally thinks, “You know, this might have gone better if I had my speed, or if I’d never given it up.” Wells knew that and was preparing a way to get his powers back, by recreating the exact circumstances of his transformation. Barry’s father was flat-out against it, not wanting to risk Barry’s life, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

And it appears to have failed, when Barry apparently explodes into a cloud of light, and Zoom laughs at his surviving friends. Of course, we know, or can guess, that Barry was merely sent into the Speed Force, and needs to slow back down and come back to his lightning rod: Iris West. It was kind of nice, seeing her finally arrive at that place where she could and would and wants to have a real romantic relationship with Barry, even build a life with him. For the moment, however, everyone has to deal with his apparent death, and Zoom’s apparent trumph, and whatever happened to Wally and Jesse.

…speaking of which, yes! We are finally going to see them become speedsters! I’m guessing they’ll be Barry’s sidekicks and students for awhile. Heh, I can just imagine Zoom having to fight two speedsters at once, a bit outside his experience but still dominating, until Barry comes back again and all three of them overwhelm Zoom together! 😀

Also… quick little hint about the Jay Garrick mystery: Garrick is Barry’s grandmother’s maiden name! 🙂

Arrow-logo-header-Season-4Arrow

“Genesis”

So, “Genesis” is apparently Damien’s plan to flood the entire world with nuclear fire while preserving a tiny handful of humanity to begin the world over again. On the one hand, it’s nice that some villain’s plot doesn’t end with destroying a single city for once, but, on the other, it feels fairly flat as far as villain plots go. “Oh, something’s wrong with the world, let’s kill everyone and start over.” That is, among other things, very stupid.

Team Arrow finds out about this just as things are coming to a head. The situation is getting so dire, especially after Laurel’s death, that everyone is pretty much making it up as they go. In fact, everyone went their own ways this episode, divided and practically waiting to be conquered.

Ollie finally gets in touch with Constantine again, who directs him to a shaman lady named Fortuna. That meeting may not have even begun if not for Felicity’s generosity with her blackjack winnings, but she gives Ollie a crash course in combating Damien’s dark magic. The secret is, apparently, to counteract it with light magic. Of course, Ollie is somehow able to instantly tap into that without instruction, but there is still such darkness within him that Fortuna becomes quickly convinced that she cannot help him. So Ollie goes and fights Damien and “magically” channels enough light to preserve himself anyway. Because that makes total sense, right?

Thea went on a getaway with Alex, but it became quickly apparent that things were not as they seemed. Thea didn’t know where they were, having fallen asleep before they even left town, which was a major warning sign. The Black Canary imitator had it in for Alex last episode, which made me suspicious of him already, and now he takes Thea to a little town that is perfectly quiet and empty, except for the background noises that are being played on repeat. Then Alex reveals he got “vitamins” from his boss, the same sort of drug given to the HIVE ghosts. Putting things together, not knowing where she is, but knowing she was locked in Damien’s world, she ran and tried to escape, only to find herself in a domed settlement built at the bottom of the bay, supposedly safe from nuclear fire.

Digs visited his wife and daughter, who are being kept in a moving containment unit with guards. Then he runs off for some baby supplies and his brother Andy surfaces, drawing him into a gun fight. Digs called Lyla for backup, but it was too little, too late. Andy and the other ghosts captured and tortured him, until he made his escape and fled to Lyla. Small detail: that was the plan, and he figured it out far too late. He led Damien and HIVE to Lyla, and though Ollie and Felicity were able to return in the nick of time to save everyone’s lives, the price was high. Not only did Digs shoot and kill his own brother in his rage, but Damien took Rubicon from Lyla, and now he can nuke the whole world all at once.

As for Damien himself, he and his supporters retake HIVE with minimal resistance. Apparently, one man’s idea of “contingencies” consisted of a single gun. Of course, as he did just answer Damien’s question, “Genesis is bigger than any one man,” he might have just pointed that out a second time. It probably would have had more of a self-preserving effect.

I find it interesting that, among Ollie’s subconscious flashbacks, there was this one fleeting image of Taiana, her eyes glowing the way we saw Ollie’s did when he repelled Damien. Also interesting is when he says he’s seen the Kushu idol corrupt good people, when we’ve only seen it work for villains thus far. Just what happened with Taiana?

Legends-of-Tomorrow-LogoLegends of Tomorrow

“River of Time”

Whatever the flaws, this one was such a dramatic step upwards from the last several episodes that I was actually caught flat-footed, having been ready to drop the entire show from my lineup.

While I was right, that the Time Masters muck up Rip’s successful capture of Vandal Savage, that did not come until the end of the episode. I was also right in how giving Savage a greater amount of time to work with would prove devastating. He manages to play a game with them all, one that nearly destroys the Legends before they ever get to the Vanishing Point, and that was only a distraction.

Rip might have noticed if he’d had some quiet time to think, but if they were to get all the way to the Time Masters’ headquarters and Savage was removed from the timeline, then that should have already been reflected in said timeline becoming altered even while in transit. But that was not the case. Which meant they were going to fail, somehow. And how would that happen even if Rip had proof of Savage himself messing about with time travel? It could only happen if the Time Masters let him go, and they would only do that if he and his future contributions were necessary to serve their ends.

In short: I theorize that Vandal Savage is the one who invented time travel, without which the Time Masters would not even exist. His future is their past, and they dare not tamper with that, no matter the cost. After all… it’s the only reason any of them are at all important. It’s the only reason they have power. And they so dearly value their power. They value themselves more than anyone else, including the woman and son Savage is intent on murdering, and whose murder set all of this in motion, which birthed time travel and the Time Masters in the first place. It’s one big, cosmic pretzel, which they don’t intend to unravel under any circumstances.

After weathering their personal storms and making some hard choices, after nearly being undone by their disputes and overcome in a fight with Savage and Carter both, the team grew just complacent enough to fall into the trap and be arrested. Savage gets to laugh in Rip’s face and go off to kill the man’s wife and son with the blessing of the Time Masters themselves.

This episode had many a campy moment, of course. Kendra magically looking up at Ray exactly after finishing the poem she said to Carter, Stein being able rig the shuttle to save Jacks within mere moments, Rip somehow not knowing his own motivations, Sara doubting him after we’ve seen he wouldn’t even hurt that dictator kid, Ray falling for Savage’s obvious goading, Carter’s miraculous, instantaneous, and well-timed recovery of his senses… yeah, much could still be improved. But! This episode managed to actually balance that out with a drama that actually had some sort of impact and didn’t make my brain hurt to watch.

Parting thought, though, about something simple they could have done instead of searching for Savage throughout all of time and finding him in a couple places, followed by devastatingly fragile plots which always go awry or, even worse, succeed and then they fail to follow through. Instead of all that… why not just go to the moments right after Ollie and Barry reduced Savage to a pile of ashes, and collect those ashes? I mean, it doesn’t get much easier to keep an immortal down than when he’s a pile of ashes, ya know?

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