This Week on TV, Oct. 22, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

This was a fairly exciting week! Once Upon a Time flipped a classic story on its head, Gotham was filled with intrigue, Agents of Shield set off some fireworks, and Arrow had a good lesson for the team! Yay!

Also… you may recall, a few days ago, I mentioned how The Vampire Diaries‘ final season premiere would have to be “nothing short of astounding” for me to add it to my weekly lineup.

…well, it was astounding.

I am now following five shows.

Once-upon-time-logoOnce Upon a Time

6.04 “Strange Case”

Obviously, this one centers on Jekyll and Hyde.

And, oddly, Rumple as well.

The story behind how Hyde and Rumple knew each other: Rumple helped with Jekyll’s potion.

Jekyll’s purpose, as it turns out, was to make man the master of his worse instincts, instead of being a slave to them. He was hoping to get proper funding to complete it, but that was turned down. Rumple showed up and basically used Jekyll as a guinea pig, finishing the potion and convincing him to swallow it not once but twice. The first time, he sent Hyde to secure his funding, which he did through the deft, elegant use blackmail. The second time, Hyde was sent to speak to the woman Jekyll wanted, a beauty named Mary.

And right there is when I realized what really happened. I remembered something I saw way back as a kid, on Wishbone, featuring a story about a man who sent his friend to express his feelings for a woman. The woman did not much care for this, saying, “If I am not worth the wooing, how can I be worth the winning?” When a man truly has feelings for a woman, he must either stand up straight and tell her of them, face to face, or he must remain silent. There is no middle ground, there is no sending someone else to do it while you hide. Either you take the risk yourself, or you forfeit what you want, as well you should if you’re so cowardly as that.

Hyde, I must say, was not that bad. He did not behave ill towards her at all. It may not have been proper, and, knowing the limits of the potion, it may have been tremendously stupid, but Hyde is a man of passion and confidence. Had he guessed at the true dangers, I suspect he would have chosen to protect Mary. But he didn’t know. He was, after all, supposed to be the villainous one. Jekyll was supposed to be the virtuous one, right? So, as she chose Hyde, a man much more like she wanted, rather than a mad scientist with no respect for affection, he bedded her.

And the next morning, waking up with Jekyll, Mary panicked, and Jekyll panicked, and he tried to seize her without having ever earned her. There was a struggle, and he pushed her out the window, to her death. Then he took the potion again, and left Hyde to wake up, seeing his love dead, and none but him to take the blame. He flees, of course, weeping, and that’s when Rumple shows up.

Rumple, who made the potion work in the first place. Rumple, who nudged Jekyll towards using the potion on himself, to get what he wanted. Rumple, who saw Hyde’s sorrow and thought it pathetic, saying the experiment was a failure. That’s all it was to him. Jekyll’s desire, Hyde’s misery, Mary’s death, all an experiment for the Dark One. In anger at being so frustrated in his purpose, Rumple sent Hyde, and Jekyll, to live in eternal misery in the Land of Untold Stories.

Small wonder Hyde wants revenge. And not just any revenge. He plays a game, leading Rumple around by the nose until he has Rumple helpless within his power, to watch a deranged Jekyll kill Belle.

Of course Jekyll blames everyone but himself for what he did. That’s how it generally is with people who commit such heinous acts. Nothing ever their responsibility, no, it’s always the fault of someone else. It’s Hyde’s fault for seducing Mary, it’s Mary’s fault for not having the strength to resist him, it’s Rumple’s fault for making the potion work in the first place, it’s never Jekyll’s fault, he just pushed her out the window, that’s all!

Fortunately, Hook, who has taken to keeping Belle safe, arrives in the nick of time to stop Jekyll, a brief struggle that ends with Jekyll’s death, and with it, Hyde’s. Can’t kill one half without killing both.

Belle, of course, is pissed off. Not only are Rumple’s old enemies targeting her, but his “protection” just made things worse when she couldn’t get off the ship. What was this whole bloodstained mess for anyway?

I knew that answer already: it had something to do with Belle.

Rumple felt himself falling in love, thought it a weakness, and wanted to be rid of it. But the experiment failed. Jekyll could be monstrous and Hyde could be “weak.” Being different sides of one person, evidently, does not make you different people.

And still, he is confident that Belle will return to him, as his old enemies come after their son.

Regina takes the lesson of Jekyll and Hyde to be that the only way to defeat the Evil Queen is for her to die. She also fears becoming evil again herself, so much so that she extracts a promise from Emma, the same promise that Emma the Dark One extracted from Regina in Camelot: if all is lost, she will kill her.

What Regina doesn’t see, I think, is this: she has been proven capable of doing something bad, just like Jekyll, so why shouldn’t the Queen be capable of doing something good, like Hyde? It was a grand mistake to try and take a shortcut in getting rid of her inner darkness, but perhaps that darkness may yet be purified, like Regina herself has been.

While all of that is going on, Snow begins teaching at school again, and meets Princess Jasmine. She doesn’t know it’s Jasmine, but it was fairly obvious right from the first meeting. Toss in a few comments about the princess of her homeland failing to keep it safe because she didn’t accept who she was, and how she inspired Snow to teach her students through the use of archery, and it’s pretty clear. It gets even more so when she goes and meets the woman who talked to Emma, the one with the staff (which I mistakenly called a snake staff when it was, in fact, a parrot staff). Apparently, they came to Storybrooke looking for Aladdin.

Hmm. So what happened to Aladdin, how and why did he get to Storybrooke, what will they do when they find him, and who is that woman with the staff? There weren’t any sorcerers besides Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin, so who is she, and is she really so friendly as she appears?

gotham-logo-screencapGotham

3.05 “Anything For You”

Ooooh! Red hoods! That’s the second time they’ve come up in this show! Cool!

So, Oswald Cobblepot, the Penguin, has begun his reign as mayor of Gotham. He serves food to the homeless, gives a bus to a catholic school, has all the city praising him. He is, as Nygma put it, loved by the people of the city, feared by the gangs, and honored by the crème de la crème of the city. But underneath it all, he’s still that boy obsessed with his mother. He commissions a statue of her, but as he is dedicating it, promising the city will be safe, the new red hood gang bursts onto the scene, decapitating the statue, and swearing no one will be safe.

It’s a direct challenge to the Penguin himself, and an attack on his very heart.

Of course, he responds by utilizing every resource available to enact his vengeance.

He sends Nygma to the GCPD to coordinate the hunt for the red hoods. He is not remotely welcomed by the people he betrayed, on whose watch he murdered at least three of their own. But he has the mayor’s ear, and if they don’t cooperate, Barnes will be replaced. It’s a very grudging concession, made with the promise that he won’t always have the advantage over them, but he’s allowed the run of the place again. His confrontation with Fox is more intellectual, as Fox threatens to poison him if he ever threatens him or Bruce or their friends ever again. My favorite is when Lee sees him and promptly punches him dead in the face, in memory of her friend, Krysten Kringle. Bravo! He tries to intimidate her but, well, she’s soon to be the daughter-in-law to Carmine Falcone, not to mention James Gordon is her ex, so, and she’s surrounded by friends with badges and guns, soooo… not someone you want to threaten.

Still, whatever his reception, Nygma gained a vital clue to finding the red hoods’ whereabouts.

And still he comes in second place behind Barbara and Tabitha.

Applying pressure on both sides of Gotham’s societal coin, Penguin sets the underworld element to finding the hoods, killing them, and bringing them their leader’s head on a spike. The girls get there first, having captured their supplier of smoke grenades. They get there and, surprise, surprise, they find Butch with them, the ringleader. Yeah, I saw that one coming pretty early on. It’s the exact same trick Butch tried to get back in with Tabitha: prop up a fake threat, take them out, get back into good graces. The girls debate turning Butch in to Penguin, trading his life for Tabitha’s, getting Penguin to permanently give up on that grudge. Butch convinces Tabitha to let him finish the charade, and once he’s back in with Penguin, he can protect her.

Right about then is when Penguin is off to storm the hoods’ lair and kill them all. To his credit, Butch did try to get his people out, but when that proved more difficult, he just killed them all. His aim was achieved, no need to really risk his neck for his pawns.

Nygma, of course, put the pieces together and concocted a scheme to expose Butch. He pretended to betray Penguin, put on a fair performance in that regard, and tempted Butch to finish his red hood scheme. At first, Butch refused, loyal, and questioned Nygma’s betrayal, not that Butch can really talk after all the betrayals he’s committed. Refused, Nygma had a backup plan, holding Tabitha’s life hostage in exchange for Penguin’s. Butch could not refuse that, and went through with the plan. Small detail: there weren’t any real bullets in the gun Nygma gave him. With Butch revealed, and with Penguin’s genuinely shocked outrage in public for the world to see, Nygma succeeded in taking down Butch while preserving Penguin. Enraged, Butch nearly killed Nygma, once Tabitha was safe, but Penguin knocked him over the head with a wine bottle.

Butch was, of course, arrested, but not for long. Now that Butch has chosen, vividly, Tabitha over Penguin, she immediately went to his rescue.

And… I know I am not the only one who noticed this, but the bro-mance between Penguin and Nygma definitely just edged very distinctly in the direction of them becoming something much more than friends. …and I am actually speechless about that.

so! Elsewhere in this episode!

Bruce hired Gordon to look for Ivy, on behalf of Selina. All they found was her old sweater, turned in by that guy she knocked out, and which I, for one, had thought she’d killed. They also shared a conversation concerning their love lives, Gordon advising Bruce not to wait too long to make his feelings known, Bruce turning that advice back on him. Gordon and Valerie have generally just been physical in their relationship, but it looks like Gordon is making a move for something more, and she’s not saying no to that. As for Bruce, as he learns to fake his way through parties while Selina is wondering who this grown redhead (Ivy) is who seems to know her, he takes her somewhere private and tells her how he feels. She responds very like Catwoman, reprimanding him, kissing him, and walking away, leaving Bruce confused. (a hilarious moment)

On a side note, I have to say, it was actually good seeing some of these characters interact in more casual ways, like when they comment on how Bruce has grown. I didn’t notice that until he was standing next to Gordon, and I was like, “Huh?! When did that happen?!” 😛 And it used to be that Selina was the taller of the two, back in the beginning. Now he towers over her even when she’s wearing heels. Heh.

Finally, Barnes is trying to see what Alice’s blood is going to do to him. It appears the rats they tested got strong and aggressive, until one of them chewed its way through twelve cages to kill all the rest. That does not bode well! And then the episode ends with a moment where he doesn’t need his crutch to stand and walk, and he is exulting in new strength.

…well, that, and the Hatter murdering a girl he’s dressed up like Alice, calling her his sister and promising revenge on those who took her from him (completely overlooking how he was the one struggling with her when she fell and died), starting with James Gordon.

So they have crime lord running Gotham, dissension in his highest ranks, a police captain on the verge of going literally mad, and an insane serial killer on the loose. The good guys’ hands are very full!

agentsofshieldseason3bannerAgents of Shield

4.04 “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire”

Gee! I wonder what that refers to! 😛

So, Coulson goes to see Robbie’s uncle about the ghosts before even Robbie can get there, gets nothing from him, and happens to catch the Ghost Rider on his way out. Truly interesting are the days of an agent of Shield, eh?

Coulson talks to Robbie and confers with Mack. Considering how Robbie hasn’t hurt anyone who didn’t have it coming, how he happened to save Mack and Fitz from the ghost, and how Daisy seems to tentatively trust him, Coulson opts to let Robbie out of the cage and persuade him to work with them, so long as their purposes align. Now that’s something I never thought I’d see: the Ghost Rider working with Shield. Funny world, it is.

Robbie is able to get some info from his uncle. The source of this ghostly trouble is an ancient book, called the Dark Hole, or Dark Hold, something like that. (…goes to Google… ah, Darkhold) It turns out a lot of players, from the Red Skull to Whitehall to Nick Fury himself, have looked for this thing over the years, hoping to gain the power of the secrets it holds. Evidently, someone found it, and attempted to use it to build a quantum particle generator, a machine that creates matter from nothing at all. It literally blew up in their faces, killing the participants and trapping them as ghosts, while Robbie’s furious uncle beat the surviving team leader so hard he put the man into a well-deserved coma.

Unfortunately, Lucy the ghost is waking the man from said coma right about then, and getting interrogating him, so Coulson and his team are already too far behind, and they had to divert for an emergency, one which Robbie came along for in the interest of speeding things along.

They arrive on the scene none too soon, it turns out.

Daisy ran into some Watch Dogs and discovered they were tapped into Shield’s on Inhuman-monitoring network. That’s to be expected, of course, because when you collar them all like animals, it provides a gaping hole for the fox to enter the hen house. Taking a bullet for her trouble, Daisy had to go to Simmons for help, both for the wound and for tracking the leak. The former was easy, and Simmons made the latter much easier than Daisy thought it would be, just using her authority to get the right person to insert Daisy’s flash drive into the right computer. The trail takes them to an old acquaintance, none other than James, from last season, the one who put Lincoln halfway into the grave while under Hive’s sway. He’s working in a fireworks shop now.

Daisy gets the tracking bracelet off him easy enough, which is what triggers the alarm that brings Coulson running. Then she and Simmons are able to offer two paths: either hiding behind Shield or fighting alongside Daisy. He seems to go with the latter. Simmons isn’t happy about that, and she was right about a lot in this episode, including how Daisy can’t keep running off alone and then come back half-dead in need of help. But in this case, I side more with Daisy. Not that Daisy’s approach doesn’t need refining, but the Watch Dogs are hunting people just because they’re different. There is no rational response to that which does not include fighting back. The Dogs have taken flesh, so the Inhumans should certainly be allowed to bare their teeth and bite back. The trick is doing so effectively and precisely. Not everyone has Daisy’s training, after all, or her restraint.

They also don’t have her loyalty and reason, as demonstrated by James. It turns out, he’s the Judas in this story, betraying the other Inhumans, helping the Watch Dogs hunt them down. He calls them a scourge, and blames Daisy for turning him – despite his lifelong obsession with becoming one – and for his time under Hive’s sway.

I think his issue might simply be that he thought being an Inhuman would put him in charge of his own destiny, but that proved false, so he’s turned the other way, trying to stand above the other Inhumans by watching them all die, and being the last to go, of his own volition. Either way, he is, on his own, without any Hive directing him, helping to hunt down and kill a lot of people. Daisy and Simmons came to help him, and he served them up to the Watch Dogs. What a pathetic excuse for a person!

The girls don’t go down easy, of course. They manage to get out of the throng and hide. Daisy’s still weak from her injuries, and Simmons gets knocked flat by James’ explosive power, but Coulson, Mack, and, more importantly, Robbie show up just in the nick of time. James’ powers don’t work on the Ghost Rider, and he gets his butt handed to him, well roasted, as the two fall in among the fireworks and send the building sky high.

After that, Coulson has both of the lone wolves, Daisy and Robbie, on his hands, and he finally gets a chance to bring them to heel. There’s more than one dire crisis in the world, with the Darkhold and the Watch Dogs being only two examples. They need each other, Daisy, Robbie, and Shield, to deal with the whole thing. So it looks like the mavericks could finally be part of the fold again.

Lastly, May’s been recovering, though Radcliffe has been monitoring her, both to gauge how much trauma her brain endured from being temporarily dead and to create a more appealing countermeasure for future use. He’s been assisted by Aida, in a sort of field test to see if she can pass for human. Fitz flips out about that, but it’s too late to backtrack, so he’s on board, ready to tell a lie to cover any slip ups, which gives Radcliffe and Aida a chance to talk about lies.

When the rest of the crew arrive to pick up May, Coulson nearly finds out but soon believes she is a fellow amputee. Simmons is able to tell that Aida is the same Aida who has been a Jarvis-like programmed voice, but finds her beautiful and very lifelike. The trouble now is when she has her next lie detector test, the very next day. How is she going to keep both Fitz’s secret and Coulson’s likely-secret use of Daisy and Robbie from Shield’s notice?

This could get very messy very soon!

Arrow-logo-header-Season-4Arrow

5.03 “A Matter of Trust”

It didn’t occur to me until later, but, last episode, Felicity was not a very good follower last episode, was she? She was constantly undermining Ollie. Small wonder his team of rebels has been so slow to follow his lead if he can’t keep even one woman in line. She’s too busy treating him like an ex-boyfriend instead of a team leader.

But she was a lot better this episode, and the everyone learned a lesson about trust.

Back in the past, Ollie learned that the potential Bratva he’d worked with, and who were killed, were not so innocent as he believed. It would have been disastrous for him if he hadn’t rung the bell, but as it is, three guilty men met their ends. And then he had to prove his trust in the Bratva by letting them cut his back with knives.

In the present, Ollie and the team are on the trail of a drug dealer, Derrick Sampson, with a drug that makes all the worst stuff out there look like medicine by comparison. Wild Dog knows where they are, but Ollie tells him not to go. He goes anyway, taking Evelyn with him, and they mess things up, doing more than recon, and getting a man killed in the process. Small detail, he was going to flip for the DA and give them bigger fish. Also a detail, he comes back, very strong and immune to pain. Not accurate, that. Pain exists to tell us where we have become vulnerable. So when Ollie eventually cripples him… well, being painless doesn’t make it any less effective.

Meanwhile, Ollie didn’t get Thea’s memo about appointing Lance as Deputy Mayor, which is exactly the opposite of what he told her to do, and that becomes an even worse mess when a reporter lady casts it in the worst light possible, catching him by surprise. Thea goes to talk to her, and, believing her to be a decent human being, opens up like a friend, telling her that Thea herself was the one responsible for the appointment, which wasn’t even official yet. The reporter, Susan Williams, then spins it as something even worse for the Queen administration. Thea is publicly disgraced, and decides that cleaning up her mess involves resigning. That might be somewhat true, but it is the wrong move to let any administration be bullied by the press.

Ollie’s twin failures in leadership inspire him to do something different: show trust in his teams.

When he takes Ragman, Mr. Terrific, Wild Dog, and Evelyn, whose code-name has yet to be revealed, into battle with him, they’re amateurs, but they work well together and wipe the floor with their enemies. When he keeps Thea on and publicly brings Lance on board, in direct response to Susan’s slander, he displays inspiring leadership for everyone to see. He trusts his team, and earns their trust in return.

And with Ollie trusting her, Thea gets her spine back, enough to warn Susan not to mess with her like that again.

Interestingly, Ollie seems to have a good relationship on both fronts with law enforcement. Felicity’s detective boyfriend, Billy Malone, also one of Ollie’s ACU members, comes to warn the Green Arrow about the Prometheus, a figure both mysterious and highly dangerous, and interested in taking down the Green Arrow alone. And Ollie’s new DA, Adrian Chase, seems like a good public partner for Ollie, Thea, and Lance to work with. He was the one trying to flip Sampson, he worked with the police trying to find him, and he seems like a generally friendly guy whenever he’s not angry about his work going for nothing. Part of me is waiting for the other shoe to drop on both of these, but it’s still refreshing to see Ollie’s relationship with the law be so beneficial again.

Finally, Felicity and Digs both had some intense moments this episode.

Felicity couldn’t think about, look at, or talk to Ragman without remembering Havenrock and her part in its destruction. Curtis encourages her to come clean about it, which she does, much to her sorrow and his visible shock.

And Digs, accused of crimes he did not commit, bearing the weight of his brother’s death, and vividly hallucinating the presence of Deadshot, is locked up, awaiting trial and a punishment he believes he deserves, even if it’s not for a crime he’s guilty of. Something strange here… not only the hallucination, but last episode’s scenes with him seemed somehow dreamlike to me. I’m not sure they were really real anymore. Either way, though, Lyla has the right idea: call Ollie and get him to break Digs out. When there’s that much funny stuff going on, extreme measures are warranted.

Last note: I’ve mentioned before how the DC-Verse shows rely too much on each other? Yeah, still continuing, and getting worse. We have Ollie opening up the season premiere of Legends last week, Felicity on Flash‘s premiere, Reverse-Flash and Damien both on Legends, and Barry’s time traveling somehow causing Digs’ baby Sara to be baby John instead. Like, seriously. Too much, people, too much!

vampirediarieslogoThe Vampire Diaries

8.01 “Hello Brother”

I am so eating my words with this entry.

Congratulations, TVD. You’re in.

So we open with this week’s obligatory victims, whom Damon and Enzo bring to their master for slaughter. They are aware, apparently, of their enthrallment, and are unable to do anything about it. They just bring her the filth of humanity, the worse they are, the better, for her to feast on. Damon seems to have given in, including switching off his humanity, while Enzo is trying to resist, to question, but can’t choose to defy her. They just do her bidding: bring food (ie, “bad people”), give to her, clean up mess. Wash, rinse, repeat. Whatever she is, her hold on them is… almost absolute.

Enzo manages to leave a victim for the police, and therefore their friends, to find.

They’ve certainly been searching hard enough, for months now. Alaric has taken over the old Armory building, to learn what they’re facing, among other things. Bonnie researches and tries to keep going despite her mounting despair, Caroline is looking into Enzo and Virginia’s conversation at the loony bin, and Stefan follows the leads. Enzo’s dropped body and the clues he leaves surrounding it lead them to their location, at an abandoned slaughter house. Very fitting.

It’s a brief confrontation between the two sides, but very emotionally intense. Damon and Enzo are shells of who they used to be, and Damon delivers a staggering emotional blow to Stefan with just a few words. Enzo tries to pass a mouthed, not spoken, message to Stefan, but I don’t know if he really got it. Either way, he takes Bonnie and leaves.

Alaric’s students are the Armory, working in the Vault to figure out how the vamps and their master escaped, find a passage that, in order to get through, you need to be blind and deaf, with only your sense of touch to guide you. Within the tunnel, they find a room filled with ancient treasures, magnificently preserved, and a buried door.

Caroline has a tape of Enzo’s conversation with Virginia, but can’t get anything more from it than they already know. She’s just finishing up with it when the nanny, Selena (I think) calls to let her know she hasn’t been able to get in touch with Alaric, he being deep in the cave. Right then, Virginia herself shows up and slits Selena’s throat, before going hunting for the girls, who are thankfully playing hide and seek, so they’re already hidden. Yet, Virginia still makes a beeline towards them, and are only saved by Caroline’s mother-fueled vampire speed and anger, arriving just in time so nobody, not even Selena, dies. She has Selena take the girls out, then, while she interrogates Virginia. It does not go well, or long, as Selena only manages to say, “She has come for them,” before something compels her to bite her tongue and spit it out.

Now, what does this ancient thing know or care about two little heretic girls, and how did she guide Virginia straight to them?

All around, the good guys seem to be losing even before the first real opening shots. But there is cause for hope. Damon is trying to fight, though he’s on the very verge of giving up for real. And Enzo left clues that tell Bonnie what they’re fighting: a siren. A female being that sings a song, mind controlling men to come to her and be devoured, sometimes said to be a herald of the Devil.

If I’ve kept an accurate count, this is the… ninth supernatural creature shown on the show? Vampires (I include Original-type vampires in that category), werewolves, witches (including both travelers and the gemini coven in that category), hybrids, heretics, hunters (and the huntress), doppelgangers, immortals, and now the siren. Nine, right? An appropriate number of monster types, I think. A number of these, of course, have some sort of mind controlling abilities, but the siren’s power just might be the most potent of them all.

And now she finally, after several months and dozens of bodies, is sated and strong, restored. She climbs out of her bloody bath and, for the first time, we see her.

…that actress. She definitely has the stare down pat. She is a beautiful, enchanting, murderous, veritable queen of Hell.

This could actually be very exciting!

Personal theory, spit-balling here: she wants to kill the girls because they, the magic-sucking siphons, are a threat. Either that or she wants to use them for something. Either way, she is bad news. Very bad news. I mean, they’ve barely caught up with her when she’s been standing still, just feasting. What can they possibly do, not knowing any weaknesses outside needing to dull their senses to avoid coming under her control, now that she’s up and about?

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