This Week on TV, Oct. 29, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

Move it along, move it along… move the plot along… thank you! 🙂

This week Once Upon a Time touched on one of Disney’s more recent (by which I mean less than three decades old) and popular tales, Gotham brought an insane enemy back for a second round, Agents of Shield threw some complications into the heroes’ paths, Arrow had crap hit the fan, and Vampire Diaries threw the protagonists into the abyss. It’s all very exciting. 😉

Once-upon-time-logoOnce Upon a Time

6.05 “Street Rats”

Obviously, we are now delving into Aladdin’s backstory, which becomes particularly relevant when Emma and Archie find the oracle dead in the woods, and the only other person around is Jasmine. She’s hesitant to share what she knows, though, out of fear of Hyde, but when she learns Hyde is dead… well, forthcoming she can be, after all.

Many years ago, Jasmine rather forcefully recruited Aladdin to help save the city of Agrabah from Jafar. She took him on a quest to find “the diamond in the rough” from the Cave of Wonders. That went mostly without incident, though they did challenge each others’ views and grew as people as a result. Then the cave started falling in around them, and Aladdin’s Savior magic was brought out, to protect Jasmine. It’s exactly what Jasmine was hoping for, someone who could challenge Jafar and defeat him. Aladdin rather liked the sound of that.

But then Jafar came, and showed him the fate of Saviors: painful, untimely deaths, deprived of any happily ever after of their own. He also came with a way out: a pair of magic shears that can sever a person from their destiny. So, if Aladdin gave up being a savior, and gave up his power, then he could live without that burden, that impending death.

Aladdin almost took Jafar up on that, right then and there, but he didn’t. He raced back to Agrabah to save Jasmine and send Jafar packing, rather easily for an amateur up against a professional sorcerer. And then he kept pursuing Jafar while Jasmine ran Agrabah, and they both fell for each other quite quickly but duty always interfered, etc. Jasmine went to the Land of Untold Stories as a way to get to Aladdin, to find him again after his disappearance.

Emma and the others, especially Regina, are able to help in that search, but, in the end, it appears all they manage to find is his grave. Jasmine is heartbroken by this, and goes away weeping. Emma, too, and her family are hit hard, now that she’s revealed the truth of her visions to them. The Queen had a hand in that, kidnapping and impersonating Archie so she could learn about the visions herself. For a moment, Emma hoped Aladdin had the answer, a way to save her, but his apparent death and entombment leave her and Henry broken as well.

That is… until Aladdin steps out, explains himself, and gives her the shears. Then, with their encouragement, he goes to find Jasmine, who, instead of telling him the truth, tells him Agrabah is in danger, and needs its savior again.

Small detail: he eventually used the shears on himself, as Jafar wanted, and was too ashamed to face her until now. So, he’s not a savior anymore.

Now possessing the means to save herself, Emma chooses not to. Not if it means abandoning everyone else. Her family supports her in that decision, and even Hook raises no objections. In fact, he himself disposes of the shears, throwing them into the ocean. Except… he doesn’t.

I really cannot blame Hook on this one. This is the woman he loves we’re talking about here. It may be the role of a savior to die for the world, but that doesn’t mean their loved ones have to either like or accept it. If it’s a choice between the world and Emma, I kind of support Hook’s choice here. I might well do the same in his shoes. If saving the world means Emma has to die, I might just let the world burn, selfish as that may be.

Elsewhere, the Queen has Archie babysit Robin so she can take Zelena to the spa, and talk her back into her wicked ways. It seems to have worked, as Zelena turns Archie back into a cricket, but either way, it’s an interesting sisterly dynamic between the two. It’s also an interesting argument, about embracing oneself, but what they fail to mention is that one can choose who that self is, and that is what determines what happens with one’s offspring. Henry shrank from his mother’s evil as a boy, searching for the love of his biological mother. There’s no guarantee that Robin won’t make the same choice and flee from he mother’s wickedness.

gotham-logo-screencapGotham

3.06 “Follow the White Rabbit”

As usual, the insane criminal blames everyone else for his own actions.

The Mad Hatter blames Gordon for Alice’s death, so he intends to make Gordon feel his pain, by taking away the woman he loves. Small detail: he’s not sure if that’s Lee or Valerie. So he takes them both, in order to make Gordon choose which one dies, and to prepare Gordon for that choice, he constructs an elaborate game built around the idea of making that very choice.

Round 1: force Gordon to choose between saving a child or saving an unfortunate couple who had just gotten married that very morning. It’s a terrible choice, but one that is also automatic: save the child.

Round 2: force Gordon to choose whether a doctor or a journalist dies, and when he chooses neither, which is the natural choice at this point, kill them both.

Round 3: now that saving both and choosing neither has been established as a non-option, force Gordon into a situation he can’t fight his way out of, and make him choose who he loves, and who will die.

Now, here, Gordon messed up. He should and could have gotten help from Bullock, Barnes, the GCPD, etc. They can operate with some discretion, after all. Instead, he just used himself and Mario, who knew his house and where they kept a gun. Clever of the Hatter to hide the one place no one would think to look, where Lee lives, and he was also smart enough to neutralize the home field advantage, finding the gun and remove the bullets. So, with Gordon’s last hope of help removed, and the hypnotized Tweeds holding guns to everyone’s heads, Gordon tried to enrage the Hatter, forcing him to face the truth that Alice wanted nothing to do with him.

Here, he messed up again. He had the Hatter unstable and emotional and within arm’s reach. He could have taken the hatter down, and I was expecting him to, but he didn’t. He lost his chance.

Then he chose Lee. Which the Hatter believed to be misdirection, so he shot Valerie instead. And walked out, leaving Lee and Gordon fighting to save her life. On the bright side, they already had a brilliant surgeon with them, so while Lee and Gordon wait in silence, there may be hope of saving Valerie. Either way, the Hatter certainly just jumped to the top of the list of people Gordon and the GCPD want to take down.

Speaking of, Barnes’ infection from Alice’s blood seems to be progressing. He doesn’t need his crutch anymore, and he’s becoming easily enraged, and super-strong when he’s angry. He seems to be turning into some sort of berserker, which is very bad for him and everyone around him.

Elsewhere, in the wake of the tense events of last episode, Penguin has fallen in love with Nygma.

Yes, you read that right.

It’s official.

The Penguin has fallen in love with the Riddler.

…right, so, moving on

He tries to get up the nerve to confess to Nygma while going about and encouraging outcast children to hurt others, but he fails at least until the evening. Nygma is supposed to come for dinner, but while Penguin is practicing his speech, Nygma is buying wine and meeting a woman who looks very much like his last girlfriend, the one he murdered and cut to pieces, and she even does riddles.

…yeah, this is not a situation that is going to end well for anyone!

agentsofshieldseason3bannerAgents of Shield

4.05 “Lockup”

Referring specifically to jail.

Coulson and company have a very quick conversation with the awakened coma guy before he dies from the whole “ghost touch” thing. All they learn is that Lucy has gotten so far ahead of them that she has the book, the Darkhold, now. What they do not know is that she can’t read it. I’m guessing that’s because she’s dead. The book is for the living.

So she goes to get Robbie’s uncle Eli, the only other person she knows who knows of the book, so he can read it. By the time Coulson arrives to take custody him, hoping for more information about the book, the place has already begun descending into ghost-fueled madness. The team goes in, Daisy going for May and Coulson, Robbie and Mac going for the Uncle Eli.

Along the way, they discover that the Watch Dogs are recruiting in jail, thus the connection between the gangs, working together to take down the Inhumans. Also along the way, the Ghost Rider takes down two more ghosts, leaving Lucy the last ghost standing. They pick up Eli and everyone’s making tracks for the exit. So, it’s going well, yes?

But then Daisy and Robbie, the two big guns, both go lone wolf because of their personal issues.

Daisy tries to fight off an entire prison mob of Dogs, so Coulson and May can escape while she dies, which costs valuable time and effort for them to circle back and rescue her. Then May give her a talking to, much deserved talk about how cutting herself off from others will solve nothing, because it’s too late: she is loved by people who will never give up on her. Really, Daisy’s whole survivor’s guilt thin is baseless anyway. Unless she would blame her team for how she would have died for them, it makes no sense to blame herself for how Lincoln died in her place. She needs to realize that and start letting herself heal from her grief.

Then Robbie, while Mac is momentarily incapacitated, tells Eli to keep going without him, while he stops and deals with a surviving member of the gang that crippled his brother. The man was a model prisoner, possibly reformed, and wasn’t part of what happened, which apparently a deliberate hit, not just random violence, orchestrated by an unknown party. In exchange for sharing the info, Robbie kills him.

I don’t think that really qualifies as justice or even vengeance. That was just plain murder. Yes, of a man who was guilty of severe crimes, but he was also serving his time, and did not engage in the riot. The problem with such violence is how it deprives the guilty man of his chance to change, which is something I believe in. Not that I’d show mercy to such a man in the middle of a fight, but going into his jail cell, interrogating him, then burning him alive? Not cool, man. Not cool.

As a result of these detours in what was already a great fiasco, Lucy manages to nab Eli and take him to the Darkhold. And when he picks it up and starts reading, he becomes… eager. Hungry. Intoxicated. She’s the evil spirit now, sitting on his shoulder as she draws him into the darkness, smiling as she lures him into damnation.

So, Daisy and Robbie were both very disappointing in this episode. They went off on their own, and now all the trouble the team has gone through was for nothing. Those two really need to get their crap together. Daisy needs to learn to let go of her survivor’s guilt, and Robbie needs to learn about restraint and mercy, and both need to learn or relearn about working with a team.

Elsewhere, Simmons is about to fail her lie-detector test when Director Mace walks in, needing her help. He’s about to debate Senator Nadeer, the Watch Dogs’ ally, and he’d like Simmons talking into his ear as he does, providing facts. Said debate seems to go quite well too, with calm, rational logic matching Nadeer’s fear-mongering blow for blow. And then comes the moment where Mace comes right out and reveals his status as an Inhuman. It’s a major blow against Nadeer’s rhetoric, and his approval numbers skyrocket as a result. People like real leaders.

But there’s something off. Simmons is able to pick out when he lies about something in Vienna, supposedly an explosion he shielded a woman from. Not sure what that’s about yet, but she uses her detection of is as a means to leverage her way out of further lie detector tests. Simmons has become a player, it seems, and now we know why she can’t trust the Director: because he’s a liar.

I’ve been a bit on the fence about Mace, and I still am, but I am leaning somewhat away from him. He’s strong, capable, able to juggle competing agendas to achieve results. He’s seemed a bit like the wind, impossible to catch and unwise to try and oppose. But there’s a flip side: air is fickle, and conforms most easily to whatever it comes up against. So when Nadeer corners him with evidence that Shield has Quake under their banner again and keeps company with flame-skulled murderers, he jumps to the point. She’s informing him that these will be made public quite soon, but she’s not gloating, she’s holding it and his new approval ratings over his head as leverage. She wants something, and he asks her what it is. She has him, and she’s going to get what she wants.

Which is not good, when the Watch Dogs have the Director of Shield in their pocket. The guard dog has become the fox in the hen house. Which bodes not well for anyone with abilities, and is yet another reason the Sokovia Accords are complete crap.

Arrow-logo-header-Season-4Arrow

5.04 “Penance”

I’m calling it. The DA fellow, Adrian Chase, is Prometheus. I’m just putting that out there right now. My prediction. 🙂

So, Ollie and Lyla take a few days to figure out how to bust Diggle out of prison, and in the meantime, the good fight continues. Ollie takes his team out again, after one of Church’s goons who’s stealing something from some lab. Evelyn, finally called “Artemis,” (Hey, she has a bow now, cool!) is supposed to take him down with support from the others, but Renee the Wild Dog butts in, messing things up again with his impatient zeal. It works out, but he’s becoming a serious liability, I think, being reckless, insubordinate, and disrespectful.

Then, as it turns out, Church actually wanted this particular thug to get caught. It’s a trap. Specifically, a Trojan Horse. Curtis was the only one to begin to suspect something was wrong, because what was stolen was pretty much a nothing part, something easily obtained pretty much anywhere. The trap was sprung when it was delivered to evidence lockup, and exploded, taking out a wall and letting in Church and his goons. They raid the place with astounding success, taking enough weaponry to empower a small army, which they then immediately turn on the ACU. The last refuge of honest cops in the city, standing in direct opposition to Church, it’s no wonder he’d want to take them all out all at once.

This happens, after Ollie leaves to rescue Digs, much to Felicity and the team’s strenuous objections. Felicity tries to convince him not to break Digs out of a military jail without his consent, so he freezes her out of the planning process. Then she tries an emotional approach, thinking if the team stands united against him, he’ll back down, which resulted in him going straight through all three of them practically without breaking stride. Yes, students, your teacher was going easy on you in the training sessions. So when the crap hits the fan, it’s up to the team to go in without Ollie, ignoring Felicity’s objections just like Ollie did.

On the bright side, the trio did not go in alone. Rory the Ragman has been on hiatus because he can’t be around Felicity, and Felicity is hesitant to go bring him back until Ollie sends her. It’s not an easy thing for them to be around each other, they being walking, talking reminders of loss and guilt, but they take the first step. One step at a time.

So, the whole team goes in to rescue the ACU, and here I have some questions. If Ragman could get in without blowing a hole in the wall, why not the other three? Why blow the wall from the inside instead of the outside? I do get needing to cover the retreat, but why not just go out through the hole they came in through? I have no idea. Not Arrow‘s best work, that fight.

Wild Dog had some quick maturing to do, and he shows some potential, but he’s still overwhelmed. Curtis gets badly hurt while they’re fleeing, leaving Evelyn and Rory to carry him while Renee covers their retreat. That does not go so well. He behaves with some honor, but it would have been smarter to put the Ragman on covering the retreat instead. Wild Dog might be fierce, but he’s outmatched and gets both pummeled and captured.

Team Arrow went in without their leader to save the cops, and lost one of their own. Needless, to say, both groups are highly motivated to find him. Leave no man behind, and all that. It is a deeply shameful thing to abandon the man who just laid it all on the line for you.

Which is exactly why Ollie couldn’t just leave Digs in prison. It’s not the smoothest of rescues, filled with unexpected complications and Digs himself isn’t the most cooperative, but Ollie thinks fast and gets it done. And then, irony of ironies, puts Digs and Lyla into hiding at none other than the old Hive base. Heh, between that and turning old Brother Blood’s former base into the new Arrow Cave, he’s starting to make a habit of this! 🙂

After the vigilantes save their butts, even Adrian apparently has to reconsider his view of them. And there’s something about that, something about the way he says it, that speaks to me of something deeper, more personal, perhaps more dangerous. And when he was interrogating Church’s goon, he said the same thing that Ollie says in the flashback.

Speaking of, Ollie is completing his third test, to prove he trusts the Bratva before he’s allowed in. At the same time, he’s collecting information about his target, whose name I finally heard clearly: Constantine Kovar. One of his men is in jail, so Ollie impersonates a drunk and gets arrested. He asks some questions, makes some less-than-veiled threats, gets some information, and kills the man in cold blood. And now he is Bratva.

It’s what Ollie said when the man tried to say his boss would not be happy with him if he divulged information: “He’s not in here with you. I am.” Now Adrian, who looked ready to get physical, said the exact same thing to Church’s goon. After he was rescued by Team Arrow, he mentions how he spent most of his life thinking men in masks were only capable of doing harm, and he may have to reevaluate that. Makes me wonder what’s in his past, and if he has a mask of his own. It wouldn’t be the first time Arrow has had a public official that seemed likable enough be the masked nemesis of our heroes.

vampirediarieslogoThe Vampire Diaries

8.02 “Today Will Be Different”

Here’s the thing about final seasons: they can bring back pretty much any old thing, any little dangling loose thread they want, and tie it off at last.

Here’s the thing about loose threads on TVD: bringing them back and tying them off generally includes fatalities. This is because pretty much everything on TVD includes fatalities. You can hardly go grocery shopping on this show without leaving a few bodies behind!

So when they brought back Sarah Nelson, aka Sarah Salvatore, I figured the girl was pretty much screwed. For me, the surprise came not with her death, but with exactly how painful they managed to make her death for the surviving characters and the audience. I mean, she’s a pretty minor character from at least two seasons ago, but she still matters.

This all happens because the siren is getting impatiently frustrated with her servants’ ability to not be completely compliant. Damon’s struggle has gone unnoticed, but he often retreats into the memory of his first meeting with Elena, remembering his reason to keep fighting. He manages this even while engaging with her master, helping her have more fun with her kills. Apparently, she’s adapted quite well to the modern world, including swimming pools, play lists, and Youtube.

Enzo’s defiance, on the other hand, has gotten her attention. He’s stuck obeying her, but he’s not devoted to her, and quietly trying to work against her. She does not like that.

Her mental dominance apparently works like a telepathic invasion. Enzo was unprepared for such a psychic assault when they first met in that cave, but he managed to rally his will and marshal a final defensive line, a not unimpressive feat to achieve in the midst of being totally overrun. Even better, he’s managed to hold that defense constantly, for every single millisecond of the last several months. He’s certainly got a powerful force of will, tested and tempered and driven to insane heights back when he was being held and tortured by Constantine. Even so, it’s only been a matter of time until the siren launched a focused assault capable of breaking him, wearing him down like the endless waves of the sea wear down a small rock.

When she decides to probe him this time, Enzo can’t quite keep everything hidden. He loses an inch of ground, and a single name slips into her grasp: Sarah Nelson. And without knowing or caring what she means to Enzo, she sends him and Damon to kill her.

Meanwhile, everyone is occupied with living their lives while researching their enemy. Stefan and Caroline are moving into the Salvatore house, Caroline and Alaric are raising their daughters with the indispensable help of Selena, whom Caroline is now more OK with since she nearly died protecting the girls, Alaric is has his interns researching sirens out the wazoo, while one such intern, Georgie, is not-so-subtly nudging him towards some sort of romantic entanglement, and Bonnie is painfully green with envy that everyone else is happy and she’s not.

In the middle of this, Caroline’s media-connected ear hears that two women with the name of “Sarah Nelson” have been killed by vampires. Stefan realizes Enzo is trying to warn him that his last surviving relative is in danger, so he, Caroline, and Bonnie go after her. At the same time, as Damon and Enzo close in on Sarah herself, Enzo tips her off and gets her to shoot Damon up with vervain. He takes her back to her place to pack and get her out, to find their friends waiting for them. And we can’t have a life-or-death crisis without bringing personal drama into it, can we?

Enzo keeps trying to tell everyone about how severe the siren’s tether to him is, but they don’t listen. Sarah thinks it’s a good idea to flee with him, Bonnie kidnaps him and leaves everyone else behind, and when Damon comes crashing in, Stefan tries talking him out of killing Sarah. That last one works, but, unfortunately, the siren herself intercepts Sarah at the door, giving her a slow and painful death. Even before Stefan can give her his blood and heal her, she compels him not to, to stay completely still and rooted by her side, watching her die, then sitting by her corpse for hours. And Damon… Damon, who’s quiet defiance has finally come to light, earns her undivided attention. She invades his mind, following him where his subconscious goes, back to that first memory he has of Elena.

To “fix” that little problem, she quite literally defiles the memory of Elena, putting herself in her place in Damon’s memories, and introducing herself as Sybil.

Nice choice in name, by the way, very ancient Greek.

In just a few moments, the last refuge of Damon’s freedom and humanity are stripped away. And now he truly belongs to Sybil. And just like that, he’s gone beyond redemption, beyond saving.

Bonnie’s attempt to get Enzo away from Sybil was almost as disastrous. He nearly died from it, and all they got out of it was one kiss, before he had to go back to her. All the pain the good guys endured this episode, and it was all for nothing. No, even less than nothing, because now Sarah is dead and Enzo, back with his master, is unable to hide his thoughts and feelings of Bonnie, his source of strength, from her. Which does not bode well for Bonnie.

About the only silver lining here: Stefan’s been remodeling the house, partially to make room for Caroline’s daughters, and he proposes to her. It’s a sweet, tender moment, about the only really good thing to happen that day.

…well, that and Alaric’s discovery that Georgie is more useful than he thought. She cleaned up the old journal he’s reading out of, she’s apparently connected to the whole “Hell” thing due to a near-death experience where she drank, drove, and accidentally killed her best friend, and saw a certain important mark while she was out, and she found a pointy object bearing that same symbol. It would be too much to hope that they’d already found Sybil’s weakness, I think, but literally anything could prove useful at this point.

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