Seriously? Two episodes in and they already have Agents of Shield skip a week? Sheesh! On the bright side, not only did Arrow return (alongside The Flash, which, I repeat, is dropped from this lineup), but it came back pretty strong. Meanwhile, Once Upon a Time and Gotham both did a fair job of setting up all the crap that’s about to go down.
6.02 “A Bitter Draught”
We get our first guest from the Land of Untold Stories: the Count of Monte Cristo! This version of Edmund Dantes apparently got some revenge pretty quickly and openly, but failed utterly at learning the names of all those who did him wrong. Enter the Evil Queen, who, in that window of time just prior to casting the curse, offered him a list of names in exchange for poisoning Snow White and Prince Charming. He couldn’t do it, though, at the last second. Not only did he find them innocent, but he could not harm a girl, Charlotte, for her striking resemblance to his fiancee. Though that is his choice, Rumpelstiltskin takes no chances, and ensures that Edmund will not threaten them again by sending him and a now comatose Charlotte to the Land of Untold Stories.
When Edmund and Charlotte are brought to Storybrooke, the Evil Queen seizes his heart, and uses it to compel him to try and kill Snow and Charming again, this time with a sword. Charlotte dies and the Evil Queen reveals herself to Regina, gloating. In a panic, understanding he can’t be stopped, Regina has no choice but to take Edmund down. In this case, that ended in his death. His revenge unfulfilled, his life wasted, his love finally dead, his final day a torment as he was sent to kill people he did not want to harm, his appearance on the show far too brief, and his death used to spark a new darkness in Regina herself, Edmund’s story is now truly a tragedy.
The Queen has also taken the liberty of sealing everyone within Storybrooke, unable to escape. At first they thought Zelena had done that, and she didn’t tell them about the Queen so they were lacking in alternative suspects. She let slip that there was someone else who could into Regina’s vault, though, so they’ll probably figure out the connection soon enough.
Hook is working on his own redemption for the things he’s done. Part of that, this episode, is to give Belle a safe place to stay, away from Rumple, on his ship. While Rumple gets a visit from the Queen, who takes a tin coil from him in exchange for her word that she will leave Belle and their unborn child out of whatever she has in store for Storybrooke. She also makes some rather explicit advances, knowing he won’t bite… at least not right then. Maybe later, if he ever moves on from Belle.
Emma is talking to Archie about her issues, including her visions. She realizes that she should tell her family about them, but she’s still afraid, and now she fears the dark figure that kills her just might be the Queen… or Regina. That would certainly bring things back full circle to the beginning of the show, when they were enemies, but somehow I think that might be a little too obvious, even for Once Upon a Time. Hmmm.
3.03 “Look Into My Eyes”
The Mad Hatter has come to town! He peddles his hypnotism as a cheap magic act, and he uses it to gain anything he wants. Mind you, it is absolutely stupid, as well as monstrous, to take over a house by killing the inhabitants. I mean, people are going to notice that, you know? He might have a couple of days, at most, before someone comes calling, and he can’t hypnotize everyone, ya know? Ah, little plot holes. Every show has them.
The hatter is apparently looking for his sister, Alice. Alice has something poisonous in her blood, which greatly interested Dr. Strange a few years back, and the rest is history. She found her way into Indian Hill in due time, and escaped when all the rest of the inmates did. She didn’t go with Fish and the others, though. She hunkered down, got a job, tried to blend in and disappear. The hatter needs to use Gordon’s services to find her.
When he catches up to her, it’s just as she’s about to torch her apartment, along with her landlord. Said landlord tried to take advantage of her and got infected with whatever it is in her blood. He went crazy, nearly killed Gordon before Alice showed up to kill said landlord and burn every trace of her blood away. Gordon, understandably upset, goes after the hatter, looking for answers. The hatter nearly has him step off the roof, but Alice shows up and saves him, driving her brother off. And Gordon cuffs her. Yeah, he’s dealt with crazy before, and he’s not keen on taking chances.
Meanwhile, Lee makes herself at home again. Her fiancee, Mario, is a doctor and has a position in Gotham, so she gets her old job at the GCPD back. Barnes is happy to have her, and assures her that Gordon won’t be there to bother her (exactly when Gordon walks in to collect on his latest bounty, of course). They have a brief conversation and go their separate ways. Then Gordon meets Mario as the man is stitching up the back of his head after a baseball bat made contact with it. They agree to terms, of course, Gordon stating he has no interest in pursuing Lee, though he will hunt down and kill Mario if he ever hurts her.
And then Lee and Mario go to dinner with his dad… Carmine Falcone.
…I did not see that one coming! 🙂
Falcone is also concerned about Lee’s ex, Gordon, but she assures him, too, that there will be no problems.
So how much you wanna bet there will be problems? 😉
Elsewhere, Bruce and Alfred are trying to get a handle on the whole doppelganger thing. He looks exactly like Bruce and he has no memories from before a year ago, which, if he can remember that long, would indicate that he’s not some kind of dead person brought back to life, that being a very recent achievement. He feels no pain, he’s able to fight and drive and such, so he has skills. And he’s very single-minded and unstable.
When Selina shows up, looking for comfort and help, Bruce hides his double from her. That was a mistake. His double is already obsessed with her for that one act of kindness, and now he has a way in, by posing as Bruce. She might not have understood everything, but it would have been to her benefit and Bruce’s, I think, if he’d told her the truth. Instead, she leaves, feeling betrayed that he won’t help her look for Ivy after all she’s done for him. Can’t fault her for that. And then the double shows up, fooling her into going with him, though she senses something is “off” about “Bruce.”
Finally, Penguin throws his hat into the ring to challenge Gotham’s former mayor for the position. That has to be the single moment where I’ve seen the mayor at his least spineless, spitting venom at Penguin’s challenge. He’s been a two-timing, double-dealing corrupt, weak, imprisoned puppet for two seasons now, but try and be mayor in his place? That’s when the claws come out. Unfortunately, as connected as he may be, Penguin is a schemer capable of outmaneuvering him with ease. Still, no sense in not stacking the odds in his favor, so Penguin gets Riddler out of jail to assist him. Taking over the criminal underworld is one thing, but politics and getting people to vote for you, that is something else entirely, and something which Butch is very uncomfortable with. Riddler might be insane, but he might be a near-perfect partner for Penguin’s political efforts. What riddle is greater than getting people’s votes, after all?
Right up front, I have to say: this episode felt a lot more like the first two seasons of Arrow, which were fantastic, than have the last two seasons. It was a great relief!
Ollie is finding it difficult to put his plans into motion since he is now the only one available to execute them. When he chose to run for mayor, he was assuming, if elected, he could leave the vigilante activity to Laurel, Digs, and Thea. Laurel died, Digs returned to the army, and Thea quite, and Ollie was elected. So now he’s doing a pretty poor job as mayor, always late and missing meetings, because he’s constantly saving the city as the Green Arrow instead. Which is very important, like when he finished cleaning up the living mess that is Anarky.
It’s sort of poetic that the guy who began all of this alone is now hurting for need of help he no longer has.
Still, as mayor, he is doing some effective things, and he’s proving adept enough at public speaking that he can help the city rekindle hope in itself. That comes as criminals, most of them ordinary guys with twisted, savage souls, are crawling all over the woodwork.
Tobias Church seems to be a crime boss in somewhat the same vein as Brick from season 3. He’s big, brutish, clever, brutal, merciless, and sadistic. He even has the low, growling voice. He rolls into town, having had his way in other notable DC cities, and takes over all but instantaneously. He kidnaps the mayor and some others in order to draw out the Green Arrow, whom he has unwittingly just kidnapped. Ollie gets free easy enough, but that still leaves several hostages in a booby-trapped kill corridor.
Ollie and Thea have an interesting argument in the heat of the moment. Ollie seems to be on board with killing people again, which is one more reason why Thea can’t go back out there again. Not only is she just starting to put the bloodshed behind her, but she suffered terribly from that blood lust thing. She was willing to die rather than give in to it last season. If Ollie thinks he’s doing what is necessary, partially out of guilt for not killing Damien before Damien killed Laurel, then Thea knows she can have no part in the killing again.
With Thea donning her old suit only long enough to rescue her brother, Ollie needs to get help from someone somewhere. Lance, getting back on his feet after Ollie’s tribute to Laurel, gives him four police officers, honorable men and capable. They take Church’s men and get the hostages out while Green Arrow sends Church himself packing, very nearly taking him down in their first official encounter. Both sides walk away with changes to their game plan, and they do the same thing: unite.
Ollie forms the Anti-Crime Unit, starting with the four officers who helped him. He also agrees to recruit and train a new team, drawing from the many vigilantes that are running around out in the city. And Curtis. Curtis rather angrily makes it known he intends to join the team after he gets mugged. Church gathers all the men in charge of criminal organizations and takes over, demonstrating that he’s already bought up their most trusted men. It’s going to be quite a war, with the criminals on one side and the cops and vigilantes on the other.
And it’s going to be even more interesting with this new archer/assassin entering the fray. He makes his debut at the end of this episode by picking off one of Ollie’s new officer friends.
Who the heck is this new guy? He uses a bow and arrow, throwing stars, knives, and a sword. That’s something of a pretty select set of skills, there. Is that Malcolm Merlyn again? Or someone else?
Oh, and Felicity has a new boyfriend whom we have never met before.
Finally, back in the flash backs, it looks like we’ve finally gone into Ollie’s time in Russia. He’s getting himself ready for his quest at the beginning of the show, going after the people written in the book. He has a first name to go after, though. Constantine something, last name sounds like “goar?” Whatever that name was, Ollie is looking for a way in, and fighting in death matches in the meantime. Then he kills a top earner for the Bratva, and nearly gets killed for it. But then his old friend Anatoly shows up, saves him, helps him out. If Ollie wants to get near his target, he must become Bratva. First step: survive a four-on-one beating. Fun.
I have to say, I like how this flash back actually shared something useful, like how Ollie learned to get out of cuffs. That was an awesome little moment. But I’m actually kind of hoping that they do not pertain that much to this season’s villain, ya know?