This Week on TV, Oct. 15, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

And we had our full lineup this week! Which still feels a bit weird to say when I’m following only four shows on here instead of, say, nine. Heh, a lighter load indeed! 🙂

Once Upon a Time, Gotham, Agents of Shield, and Arrow all delved into their respective messes, with some surprising upsets between them. Elsewhere in DC’s televised lineup, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow also returned alongside The Flash. Were I commenting on all of them, this would be a very packed commentary, like last season’s. 🙂

Once-upon-time-logoOnce Upon a Time

6.03 “The Other Shoe”

It has been how long since we last saw Cinderella/Ashley? I think it was, what, way back in the first season? About five years later, we finally get an update on her story, both past and present.

In present, she’s living a happy life, raising a daughter with her beloved prince. Now that is a happy ending. Oh, and she runs a daycare, too! 🙂

But the past comes back with a vengeance when her step-mother and step-sister, Clarinda, arrive from the Land of Untold Stories. It turns out, Clarinda was as much a victim of her mother as was Ella. Such a mean, domineering woman didn’t limit the victims of her cruelty to only her husband’s daughter. Sure, Clarinda had the gowns and such, but a cage made of gold is every bit as confining as a cage made of iron, and all the more insulting for the presumption that luxury is any substitute for freedom. She didn’t really want luxury, and she didn’t really want the prince. She wanted the prince’s footman. They were going to run away together, live on a farm, have a family of their own. That was their happy ending. And just to be safe, Ella gave her a magic key, inherited from her mother, which led to the Land of Untold Stories. Their lives would be paused, but they’d be safe until their eventual return.

But the lady of the house found out. She tricked Ella into revealing what she knew, holding her glass slipper hostage, and after it slipped out between Ella’s panicked lips, she broke the slipper anyway, to deprive her of her chance to be with the prince. Luckily, Ella met Snow White at the ball, and Snow tracked her back to her home. Ella was, of course, overjoyed, but had to go make things right for Clarinda first. That back-fired completely, as her step-mother stormed off to the Land of Untold Stories and dragged Clarinda with her, the last impression they had being that Ella betrayed Clarinda and then rubbed her success in their faces.

Side-note: once again, I find that they’ve gotten lazy with their falling-in-love stories. I know there’s such a thing as love at first sight, but most couples need more than a dance or a glance or whatever to really fall in love and make it work. Love and life are not easy things, ya know? Still, I digress.

When the Untold refugees came flooding into town, I suspect Ella had suspicions and hopes. She wanted to offer free babysitting to the refugees, and got a look at the list of arrivals. Among them: Clarinda and her mother. Still yearning to make things right, she grabbed a shotgun and ran off to find Clarinda and save her, alone.

Seriously, I know she felt guilty, but what is with the heroes trying to do everything alone?! They are human, they are weak, and they are dealing with very nasty enemies. It is not a crime to accept the help of friends. Myself, I might be hesitant to ask for help, out of guilt, but if help is already there and willing, I’d be an idiot to refuse it, especially if someone’s life might be at stake.

But Ella refuses, and the Evil Queen shows up to send Ella’s would be helpers somewhere out of the way. That comes exactly when Emma is trying to deal with her issues. Talking to Archie helps, and she has the support of her son and her boyfriend, among others. She’s jealous, a bit, of Ella getting a happy ending, with a happy family, just when Emma herself is coming to believe she won’t get a happy ending of her own. So she’s jealous, but also afraid to move forward with her life. How can she live happily with Hook, knowing it’s going to end, and soon? But Archie has a very good point: you have to live life, no matter the fear, and no matter the truth that life ends, and it can end at any time. So she moves forward, and returns to her roots a bit by relying less on her magic and more on her skills to find Ella again.

Ella finds Clarinda at a farm that, as it happens, belongs to the footman from before. She makes a mistake, and the step-mother gets the gun, and intends to use it to kill both Ella and the former footman. Emma arrives just in time to save Ella’s life, finding her center for a moment, getting past her tremors to use magic to heal the gun shot wound. Ella is saved, Clarinda is reunited with her love, and the step-mother is under arrest. Happy ending. 🙂

Which is exactly what the Queen did not want to happen. She’s out to ruin all the happy endings, and is frustrated by this failure. So she turns to Hyde for assistance, and they become allies. She frees him, and they walk off arm in arm.

Meanwhile, Regina and Snow and crew have turned to Jekyll, looking for answers as to how and why the Queen survived. Jekyll hopes that recreating the potion which caused the separation might give them answers, but he’s low on equipment and materials. That’s when Snow gets the brilliant idea of introducing him to Dr. Frankenstein. And now the good guys have two mad geniuses on their side! 🙂

Snow, interestingly, is getting restless, in a way. All the adventuring and defending of the town and their lives, moving from crisis to crisis, it’s starting to wear on her. She wants to settle down into a normal life. She wants to be a teacher again, which is both normal and noble. She’s already putting plans together in her head, including bringing the mad scientists in to teach, of course, science. Now that could be a very interesting school to attend!

Finally, Charming is out to unravel the Queen’s little mystery. Was his father’s death just an accident? So he goes to Rumple, looking for information about his father’s tin coin. Rumple agrees, gives him the information, but for a price. The deal is, Rumple gives him what he’s after, and Charming gives an audio tape to Belle. Charming is somewhat apologetic to Belle about that, but she’s very understanding. The recording turns out to be a poem, like a nursery rhyme, intended for their son. Rumple is staying away, but still hovering near, and trying to get back in. He doesn’t give up easily.

As for Charming’s quest, he learns that his father was stabbed, meaning murdered, and though he tries, he can’t quite let it go. Where will that take him? How will it destroy his happy ending with Snow, as the Queen desires?

I can sort of understand where Charming is coming from. If something were to happen to my dad, or if I’d been forced to grow up without him, I’d want answers and justice too. But it’s not only bad things that can lead us away from what is most important. Life is more complicated than that. It’s not a bad thing he wants, but he’s still made a mistake, and blown out a tiny light within himself, just like that candle.

gotham-logo-screencapGotham

3.04 “New Day Rising”

New days are always rising. The question is what kind of day it’ll be.

Penguin chose well, even better than he thought, when he brought Riddler on board his campaign. Penguin is determined to win, and Butch is eager to reap the rewards of that victory, strange as politics may be to him. So they’re bribing election officials, which Riddler takes issue with. He makes his point showing Penguin what such a bought victory feels like on a small scale. Then he makes it on a huge scale, showing Penguin what such victory feels like when it isn’t bought. He collected all the bribes that were given out, earning anger from both Butch and Penguin, but when Penguin wins anyway, it rocks his world. He sees that Nygma believes in him, more than Butch ever did. So Butch is out of favor, shamed and envious, while Nygma is named Chief of Staff.

And now that Gotham has elected an open criminal as mayor, one can only imagine what’s going to happen with the GCPD. They had a crime lord as an unseen master once, but now it’s official.

Speaking of the cops, they have an interesting time trying to deal with Alice and the Mad Hatter. Alice knows her brother is going to come for her. He’s obsessed with her, in every disturbing way, on every disturbing level. Her blood does something, makes people insane. It does something different to each exposed person, bringing something out, maybe their true selves, maybe their worst selves. It’s easy to see why Strange was interested in that, but he didn’t take her from her brother, as the Hatter said. He took her off the streets after she escaped from her brother. And now with Indian Hill gone, the Hatter has finally caught up to Alice. Madmen generally do not quit when they’ve come so close to their long-cherished goal.

Hatter hypnotizes a family of wrestlers, the Tweeds, into storming the GCPD and taking Alice by force. Gordon might have been able to stop them, but the hypnotism from last night remains in force, urging him to kill himself every time he hears a sound like that of the watch. If not for Barnes’ hitting him on the head just in time, Gordon would have blown his own brains out. They place him on suicide watch, and he gets a talk with Lee, one that helps him begin to resolve his issues. His very deep and intense issues.

Bullock springs him from suicide watch and they go after the Hatter. Gordon is able to overcome the hypnotic compulsion, but they fail to either save Alice or capture the Hatter. About the only good that comes from this unholy mess is Gordon and Lee both finally making some progress in moving on and letting go. They’ll always be good friends, I think, but that chapter of their lives where they were together? That is over and closed. A new chapter begins.

Finally, Bruce and Alfred are looking for his double, who spends the day with Selina. She doesn’t have any friends left now that Firefly got barbecued and she believes Ivy is a the bottom of the river. So she gets back to her life of crime, making to steal from some criminals. She gets caught, and nearly loses her fingers, but Bruce’s double comes crashing in and rescues her. Between his odd behavior, his gaps in knowledge, his fighting skills, his inability to feel pain, and the old scars she finds when she tries to see to his wound, she figures out he’s not Bruce. He explains himself as she stitches him up, and they have a tender moment, including a kiss. Then she goes off elsewhere, and Bruce and Alfred show up. He means to leave, and says good-bye, taunting Bruce about the kiss. He’s gained all he can from Bruce, so now he’s going off to make his own fate.

Small detail: the Court of Owls catches up with him, promising him that he can be Bruce Wayne and so much more as they drug him. It looks like they have every intention of breaking their truce with Bruce.

So the Court has Bruce’s double, Penguin and Riddler are about to run Gotham, and Barnes gets exposed to Alice’s blood in the final moments of the episode.

…how much “not good” can they cram into one episode’s ending, do you think?

agentsofshieldseason3bannerAgents of Shield

4.03 “Uprising”

Several cities around the world are blacked out, everything electrical going dark, and a message plays, wherever there is power, that the Inhumans are responsible. They’re rising up across the world in a massive conspiracy to defy the Sokovia Accords. The more gullible and fearful public believes it, but the agents know better. Still, they have to respond to this as quickly, effectively, and objectively as possible.

It goes fairly well for Coulson, Mack, and Fitz. They go into Miami looking for Yo-Yo, and find her just in time. She was at a party with some friends when the power went out, and they didn’t even make it out of the building before the Watch Dogs came sniffing on her trail. They nearly killed a harmless magician in their blind, prejudiced fear, but Yo-Yo acted to surreptitiously save his life. Not quite surreptitious enough, though, as her friend and another woman noticed and immediately threw her under the bus. The boys came crashing in just in time and the four of them demolished the Watch Dogs, and then went on to find and deactivate the EMP device they were using to sow fear and set the Inhumans up.

Things go wrong on a more personal level for the team. Yo-Yo’s friend wants nothing to do with her, which is just plain stupid. She just saw her save a stranger’s life, and her own, and she reacts in fear? How much sense does that make? Would she be afraid of someone who could run fast, lift a lot, or think really fast, so long as they were “normal?” Would she be afraid of a firefighter who had just pulled her out of an inferno? Then why be afraid of someone because of what they can do? It’s stupid, that’s what it is. It’s not what a person can do, but what they choose to do, which defines them.

Mack and Yo-Yo also have a little fight about Daisy. He’s upset that she kept her interactions with Daisy, and helping her, a secret. She’s upset that he’s blaming her and keeps trying to keep things professional between them when they both want something more than that.

And Coulson is wanting to see the Ghost Rider, which Mack and Fitz have seen and Yo-Yo has heard of. He’s going to get his chance next episode, apparently! Oooh, it will be fun seeing Shield reacting to the true supernatural! Not that I’m excited about this or anything. 😉

Meanwhile, over in LA, Daisy and Robbie are just about to go and see his uncle, looking for answers about the ghosts and such. Robbie is somewhat hopeful that settling the original score will free him from the Rider, but somehow I doubt that. And first things first, when the crisis hits, they have to grab his brother and take cover back home. Daisy overexerts her powers and fully breaks her arm, so Robbie has to go out again and get some meds for her, leaving her alone with Gabe.

He’s a very smart boy. He knows his brother is into something, going out at night and such, but can’t begin to guess what he’s doing. He does know Daisy is Quake, though, and wanting to keep his brother safe, he exchanges keeping her secret for her departure from Robbie’s life. Once again, she is alone.

Back on the other side of the coast, while Coulson was turning the power back on, Simmons was fighting for May’s life. The Director approved her desperate plan to take May to Radcliffe before she even finished explaining it. Radcliffe had to hide Aida, of course, but he and Simmons were able to figure out that May was, effectively, being scared to death. So, with no alternatives, they opted to temporarily kill her, let her brain activity die down, before bringing her back, sort of like rebooting her system to erase the problem. But just as they were about to use the defibrillator, the power went out, and the EMP kept the backup from kicking in too. Radcliffe had to borrow Aida’s power source, and they cut it really close, but they brought her back, whole and healed from the ghost’s influence. Whew!

With the big win Coulson scored, and mounting evidence that the Watch Dogs have been taken global, and that they have a mole with access to the Inhuman Registry – we all saw that one coming, thanks to the Accords – it seemed a perfect opportunity to bring Shield back out of the shadows, into the light again. It’s a very different organization now, including a public relations division, but they’re still doing the old work, and now their ranks should have been thoroughly scrubbed clean of Hydra and other double agents. Led by their new Director, Jeffrey Mace, they’ll be leading the fight to protect humanity. All of humanity, Inhumans included.

I’ll say this for Mace, he can make decisions quickly, acting with precision in the midst of chaos, and he kept his nerves during the crisis, buying as much time as possible for Coulson to work. I’m not yet sold on his trustworthiness, but he’s certainly capable, and I can’t really argue with any of his decisions as of yet.

On the downside, the Watch Dogs have definitely grown in strength and resources, with high placed friends, including, naturally, that one senator lady, Nadir or something like that, who tried whipping the public into a panic to hunt them all down. We see her talking to her brother, who says nothing back, before leaving for a few days. Said brother seems to be a statue now, either an Inhumans somehow trapped in terrigenesis for an extended period or a normal human victim of the process, like Trip and all the people Hydra experimented on. Heck, that’s how Coulson lost his hand, nearly going the way of a statue.

What the lady does not understand, though, is that this wasn’t not done by the Inhumans, and wiping them out will not protect anyone else from it.

Really, the Watch Dogs as a whole are so full of crap it’s disgusting. They just knocked out seven cities, bringing down helicopters and planes, disabling all electrical medical care in hospitals, and more. How many people did they just murder? I might be able to understand it, to a point, if the Inhumans had actually done anything, committed any hostilities, were actually, you know, organized like that, but they aren’t and they haven’t. And they crow about murdering seventeen people around the world, when they were just going about their daily lives as usual? They didn’t confirm that magician was an Inhuman, so who’s to say those seventeen were all Inhumans? But they don’t stop to think about any of that, they just go in shooting blindly and ignoring all the collateral damage and lives lost.

Can you tell I really hate people like them? 😉

Arrow-logo-header-Season-4Arrow

5.02 “The Recruits”

Having decided to get help in saving the city, Ollie’s first task is to train his three new apprentices so they can go out onto the streets and not immediately get themselves and innocent people killed. It’s a demanding task, and a rough transition. Curtis has no experience fighting, Wild Dog is an aptly-named, unruly subordinate, and Evelyn is talented but weak. And that’s to say nothing of Ollie himself, throwing them into the deep end and expecting things to work according to his terms. All he manages to accomplish like that is beating them down and alienating them. He tried to teach them to trust each other, when the first thing they needed to learn was trusting him. This means he had to give a little ground, let them know who he truly was, not just the Green Arrow, but Oliver Queen.

In his defense, he went through the exact ordeal he’s putting them through, and he and those alongside him learned to work together all on their own. There are some differences, though. For one, he does not intend to kill anyone who fails to ring the bell, as the Bratva did. He learned to work with his comrades while the Bratva meant to teach him to work alone. For another, the men he was working with wanted whatever they were after in becoming Bratva. Ollie’s recruits don’t yet understand the need to work with him or work together. These kids’ experiences are simply to different from that of the Bratva trainees. Ollie also doesn’t realize that going through his experiences took precious things from his character, and now he’s trying to use the same methods to instill those things in his recruits. It doesn’t really work like that.

When you are trying to teach someone, you can’t simply copy and paste methods. You have to personalize things, and show your student the rewards of learning, not just the punishment of failing.

As the new Team Arrow is trying to find its footing, Ollie and Thea are trying to get the city back on its feet as well. Thea takes a page from Ollie’s book and begins looking to hire a team of her own to help run the city while Ollie’s team saves it. An obvious choice is none other than Lance, but he’s back on the drink again, so no one really believes he can do it. Thea understands, in her head, but she goes with her gut on this one. She believes in Lance, even if he doesn’t believe in himself, even if Ollie has lost faith in him as well. She brings him on board, supporting him and giving him a reason to get sober again.

I just have to say, I applaud that. Thea just showed an astounding emotional maturity in helping Lance like that. She’s taking a chance on him, and I really hope it pays off. 🙂

At the same time, the Queen team is trying to get people the medical care they need, and they bring in a big company to cover the costs in exchange for the good publicity. But a mysterious figure dressed in ancient rags attacks and kills the company’s vice president. Then, with Ollie offering financial guarantees and increased security, the Ragman attacks the event itself, and the CEO. The city’s on the hook for damages, but then Thea notices said CEO conversing with none other than the city’s new gang leader, Church, as they discuss a weapons sale. Turns out the company has gone bankrupt after one of their nukes wiped Havenrock off the map, and the Ragman is Havenrock’s sole survivor, bent on revenge.

Ollie and Ragman crash the weapons sale practically at the same time, and Ollie seems to be on the ropes against Church until Ragman turns aside from vengeance to save his life. Learning his story, Ollie reaches out and invites him to be part of his team. Which might be good in the field, but considering Felicity’s lingering guilt over Havenrock and Ragman’s desire for revenge, this might not be Ollie’s best idea ever. I mean Felicity couldn’t really tell a proper lie to her boyfriend, the police officer, how’s she going to keep her trap shut about Havenrock when Ragman’s around?

Either way, as Ollie tries for a fresh start with his recruits, Church is ambushed by the same figure from last episode, who calls himself Prometheus, and claims Green Arrow’s death for himself.

Yikes! Looks like craps about to hit the fan again, and with a team as green as grass!

Finally, over on the other side of the world, Diggle’s trust is betrayed by his superior officer. His team is sent in to retrieve illegal weapons tech and stop the sale of such, but they’re gunned down by their own comrades, hoping to steal it for themselves. Something’s gone wrong, though. The original buyers never showed, so they need a new scapegoat, and choose to frame Digs instead, even shooting their newest recruit with his gun. They write out a confession for him to sign, and he refuses, so they leave him to a court martial, the word of one honest man against a multitude of liars.

Crap’s hitting that fan too, it seems.

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