This Week On TV, Nov. 12, 2016

Spoiler Alert!

Wow.

This week may have been skipped by Agents of Shield – since all American eyes were on the election of our next President – but it was plenty packed with drama, tension, tragedy, shock, even horror. Wow. This was a pretty darn good week. It was a pretty intense week! And we’re still pretty early in the season! Like, what, a quarter of the way through? And already they’re pulling out the big guns? Whoo!

Once-upon-time-logoOnce Upon a Time

6.07 “Heartless”

Anyone else reminded of Ladyhawke?

If you haven’t seen that movie, I recommend it. It’s a pretty decent fantasy story, featuring a curse that condemns two people who truly love each other spend the rest of their lives always together, yet eternally apart.

And if you haven’t seen this episode yet for whatever reason… well, I did just give you a spoiler alert! 😛

The Queen’s plan to finally get what she wants is fairly simple: hold all of Storybrooke hostage against the lives of Snow and Charming. Either they surrender, or the Queen spreads water from the River of Lost Souls, provided by Rumple, all across the town. And with such a terrible fate as that facing their people, it’s not really a choice. They have to protect them, either by neutralizing the threat or by surrendering.

The Storybrooke crew scrambles madly to find a way to counteract the hellish waters, and they briefly have a hope in the form of a magical sapling, born from true love. They find it, but the Queen is right behind them, notwithstanding the little delay the heroes were hoping for when they sent Zelena to Rumple’s shop to find him and the Queen together.

…you know, it just occurred to me, Rumple has had near-intimate relations with the sisters Regina and Zelena and their mother, Cora.

…chalking that one up to like attracts like and moving on.

The Queen destroys the sapling, thoroughly, but not before it does its job: when Snow and Charming touch it, they see all of their memories together, all at once, right from their very first meeting. Their real first meeting.

It turns out, that was not when she robbed him and he pursued her.

They met once, some time before that.

Right after Snow fled Regina, she became the most wanted person in the kingdom, with no skill whatsoever to survive on her own. So, she sold her possessions, her heirlooms, everything she had on her when she fled, short of the clothes on her back. She got very little for it, taking a financial hit in exchange for keeping her identity hidden, and could only pray it was enough to get her out of the kingdom, perhaps to a neighboring allied nation that might shelter her. To that end, and narrowly avoiding the clutches of a bounty hunter called the Woodcutter, she set out for the port town of Longborn.

Meanwhile, Charming and his mother found the cost of keeping their land too high, especially as they kept losing lambs. They had a capable sheep dog, but that can only take one so far. His mother chose to sell the place, and sent her son to do so. So he set off, loyal dog at his side, to find someone, perhaps some nobleman, in the port town of Longborn.

As it happened, Charming’s path crossed with that of the Woodcutter, who drugged him and used the sheep dog to find Snow. Not about to accept this, Charming tried to break Snow free, which brought him to blows with the Woodcutter. It nearly cost him his life, but Snow was able to reach through a hole to grab the Woodcutter’s axe, giving Charming just enough opportunity to kill the Woodcutter instead.

Charming, of course, was about to use the key lifted off their enemy’s body to let Snow out, but she stopped him before he could. She’s wanted, she knows, and fears that seeing her face, being able to identify her, would endanger him. So he gives her the key to let herself out after she leaves, and they share a moment, which is perfectly natural after such an intense experience. He mentions his mother’s farm, and clearly regrets selling it, so she gives him all her money as a reward for his help. He’s reluctant to take it, of course, as she needs it, but now she’s starting to think that maybe she’ll be all right anyway.

Though they just met, he is able to believe in her, and if he believes in her, then she can believe in herself.

He takes her offered coin, and their hands touch, a brush of the fingers, which becomes a single drop of light that falls and becomes the sapling: a living embodiment of their true love, waiting for their hour of need.

Having learned the truth, Snow and Charming find their faith emboldened. They have always found each other, led together by fate, and led to their daughter, Emma. So they’ll stand and take the hit for Storybrooke, together. Nothing can break their love.

With all this happening, Emma is feeling afraid as well, filled with self-doubt. What if she can’t save her parents this time? Hook comes to rescue then, telling Emma exactly what she needs to be reminded of: her parents have always found each other, and when they couldn’t, Emma was there to help them. With her nerves regained, she’s ready to face the Queen alongside Regina… when her parents show up and surrender.

And still defiant, even in defeat.

The Queen rips out their hearts, as expected. But then she says she has something worse in mind for Snow and Charming, and puts them back. And Snow falls into an enchanted sleep again, sent to the forest by the Queen. They find her quickly enough, and Charming kisses her, waking her up. And then he falls asleep instead!

Regina puts it together. The Queen cursed Snow’s heart, which the two of them now share. The curse is that only one of them can be awake at a time. Kiss the sleeper, awaken them, and fall asleep until they kiss you back.

Always together, yet eternally apart.

The ultimate curse on those who love each other more than life.

Finally, as Zelena’s anger towards Rumple and the Queen boils over, she tells Belle everything she’s learned, both about their dalliance and about Rumple’s plan with the shears. Belle takes issue with that, as well she should, and forbids him from it. She strikes home when she tells Rumple how she could forgive him if he were evil, but instead what she sees is a coward too weak to be good, and still hiding behind the same excuses he always has. He could be a good man, but he’s chosen to be a villain. She’s exactly right, and leaves him to contemplate that.

The immediate effect, however, is just one of venomous anger towards Zelena. Which does not bode well for her!

gotham-logo-screencapGotham

3.08 “Blood Rush”

Well… that just happened.

Nathaniel Barnes, stalwart defender of the law and Captain of the GCPD, has fallen.

Barnes has been growing stronger and angrier since he was exposed to Alice’s blood. When he stumbles upon a man disposing of a body, his fury is quite justifiable, but he lets slip the grip of his self-control and literally tears the man apart. Then he follows the trail from there, finding the middle-man who arranged for the body’s disposal, and then finding the plastic surgeon who had a body to dispose of.

All three of them say they’re just the clean-up, just the middle-man, just a contracted professional, just this, just that. Somehow, they’re never responsible for what they’re doing, they always pass the blame to someone else, who passes it again, all trying to avoid the truth that they chose what they do, and they are party to the reprehensible deeds they have aided in. They are criminals. They are murderers.

Even the man who cuts faces off of living people and grafts them on to someone else, for nothing more than a price, tries to say it’s not his fault. Typical, and infuriating. Barnes manages to control himself, though, and arrests him instead of killing him. And he even had the impeccable timing to save the man’s very next victim, a young woman. That’s a victory.

With that done, Barnes has a difficult choice to make. He’s learned from the Hatter that he can’t beat this virus, not through any sheer force of will, a lesson driven home when he begins to hear voices. He’s served with distinction and honor, overall. It has been his purpose to safeguard the innocent by bringing the guilty to justice. Now he recognizes that his progressing condition endangers all of that. So, heart heavy, he removes his badge and his gun, placing them on his desk, atop the picture of the man he murdered in his rage.

For him, it’s like committing suicide. And like a man about to take his own life, he has a few things to wrap up, some good-byes to say without saying them. That’s what takes him to Lee and Mario’s engagement party, to give his best wishes to Lee. He makes to leave, but Lee convinces him to stay for one drink.

Oh, what tiny hinges does the door of fate turn upon. If only he had not stayed for that drink.

He meets Carmine Falcone, the retired but long-time embodiment of everything Barnes has fought against. They exchange words, not fists, but they are most definitely adversaries, bound only by the unspoken laws of modern civilization. Even so irritated, Barnes makes the call to turn himself in to Gordon, and take responsibility for what he did, a direct contradiction to everything the criminals of this episode said and did.

And, right then, at that exact moment, the plastic surgeon walks in. He’s connected, with friends in high places, and they got him released from police custody. Barnes freaking found him about to cut a woman’s face off just a few hours ago, and he’s already out and attending a fancy party with the elite of Gotham? That is just too much!

That is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Barnes confronts him in the restroom, and the surgeon makes his last mistake: he gloats. He believes Barnes is bound by rules, and that those rules confine and enslave. He believes that not obeying those same rules makes him free, makes him stand above a man of the law, makes him safe.

He is wrong about all of the above. Rules exist to protect people, and that protection is what makes them free, which is why it is so abominable when rules are used to enslave instead. Leave those enabling rules behind, and you leave their protection behind too, and sooner or later, you come face to face with someone who also breaks the rules. When that happens, it’s a contest of pure, primal power.

And that is a contest which Barnes would always win, especially now.

The surgeon never stands a chance, and it’s most poetic how he tries to hide behind the rules, the law, that he has so flagrantly violated.

Even so, Barnes should not have done what he did. I’ve no complaints about the deed itself, about the surgeon’s fate, but Barnes would not have done so without that virus coursing through his veins, and that is what makes this a tragedy. Gordon’s fall, last season, was tragic enough, but he at least had the full and unhindered ability to choose it. Barnes has been robbed of that choice, and so his choice was not entirely his. The man he was is gone now. The Barnes we knew is gone.

He is fallen angel now, driven mad, consumed by wrath, twisted into a demon.

I have heard that what separates the demons of folklore from a human is how unbalanced they are, without moderation, without inhibition. That rings true to another view on angels, how they must be so confined and inhibited in their actions. Humans tend to be a mixture of the two, with wild urges that they sometimes give in to and sometimes don’t.

In that context, Barnes is most definitely a demon now, and one who thinks he is still an angel sent to bring justice to the city. But now, like other madmen from this show, he does not blame only a few, but he blames the entire city. Innocent people are going to get caught up in his rampage.

And while all of this is going on, we still have the developing relationships of the rest of the cast.

Bullock gave Gordon the best welcome back to the GCPD ever. Nothing fancy, just toss him the badge out the door they go, back to work.

Barbara crashed the party, taunting Lee about losing Gordon.

Gordon and Lee are tiptoeing around each other, trying to avoid awkwardness and thus making things more awkward.

Mario and Gordon had a miniature confrontation, where Mario tried to mark his territory, Gordon told him jealousy was weak, and Mario punched him. Gordon allowed that one strike for Lee’s sake.

And finally, Nygma began hallucinating Krysten Kringle after seeing Isabella with her glasses on, and began to fear he might hurt her. So Penguin suggested breaking up with her, and when Nygma was too scared to do that himself, Penguin went in his stead. Penguin botched it a bit, and tipped his hand, what he feels for Nygma, and it fired up Isabella’s drive to fight for Nygma instead of letting him go. So she made herself look like Krysten, forced Nygma to face his fears, even put his hand at her throat herself, before they slept together again.

Yeah, called it. She’s crazy.

Penguin’s answer to this was to have one of his goons cut her brakes, which happen to go out as she comes up on train tracks. Her fate is left unknown, but it won’t be pleasant, and Nygma will pick up on pretty much every detail that is out of place to learn the truth. Things are not going to go well in Penguin’s favor, I think.

Arrow-logo-header-Season-4Arrow

5.06 “So it Begins”

…you know those moments where you feel your eyes go wide and all you can say is, “WHAT?! WHAT?! WHAT?!” That’s me at the end of this episode.

At the start, Ollie doesn’t want to take his newest recruits straight into a likely trap with the new, dangerous enemy in town, Prometheus, so he and Digs investigate alone, but come up with nothing. Meanwhile, Prometheus’ actions become more and more puzzling as he cuts down two more people, complete civilians. And then Susan Williams breaks the story, adding panicked fuel to the fire. It quickly gets so bad that people are shooting at random darkness in the sky for fear of it being “the throwing-star killer.”

Of course, that grabs the recruits’ attention, and they’re a bit mad that they weren’t informed. I can see where they’re coming from. Knowledge is power, and knowing someone is after the Green Arrow, it might have been wise to inform the team of a possible, potent, incoming danger to their lives. Ollie may not want to bring them into danger, but they do deserve to know when danger is coming to them.

At the same time, though, it makes sense to actually know what they are dealing with before telling the younger ones, “There’s a new danger in town.”

And then they unlock the mystery of the victims: their names are anagrams for the names of people that Ollie killed way back in the first season of the show, names off the list he inherited from his father. And that is another revelation to the recruits, one they take hard.

In Ollie’s defense, even when he was at his worst and most lethal, he spared most of the people on that list. I recall a particular instance where Felicity opposed his going to visit a man, an embezzler, because he had a little daughter, but Ollie merely scared him into returning the money he’d stolen. Not to justify the murders he did commit, but there weren’t really that many of them, and most of the bodies he dropped were in the heat of battle, not cold-blooded kills.

I have to say, it was really great seeing the recruits bonding and talking with each other about this. Ollie tried to teach them about working together in one way, but this was the four of them coming together in their own way, by talking. They didn’t agree, but they did talk, each sharing their own perspective. Evelyn, especially, was hit hard by the truth. She still has anger over the deaths of her parents, and it was a very difficult thing for her, late last season, choosing to listen when the Green Arrow told her not to take revenge, not to kill. Now she feels betrayed.

Ollie, on the other hand, feels the weight of his past falling back onto his shoulders. When he saw the looks in the eyes of his recruits, it was like being that lesser version of himself all over again. But as Digs points out, he’s not that person anymore. That’s part of why Ollie’s past hits his team so hard, because they didn’t think it was possible for Ollie to be that man. Now that’s an encouraging thought, isn’t it? 🙂

With Prometheus’ pattern revealed, the team spreads out, each member watching over one potential victim. The plan is, if they see the enemy, they radio the rest and everyone converges on that location. Naturally, Evelyn/Artemis is the one to encounter Prometheus, and at a moment when she turned off her radio to avoid a talk with Felicity about her issues. It’s mere luck that Felicity gets worried and calls Ollie, who checks on her and meets his enemy, arriving just in time to keep anyone from dying.

Kudos to Artemis, by the way. She didn’t really hold her own, but she did all right and got a good blow in, cutting Prometheus in the arm.

The episode looks to be ending on a good note. Prometheus was beaten back, lives have been saved, Ollie will, as mayor, be able to put the would-be victims into Witness Protection, and, to top it all off, the team gets to go to a concert, the first in a long while in Star City, thanks to Thea’s drive and connections, and Lance scored the venue. But Felicity has news about the throwing stars: they are made out of all of Ollie’s old arrowheads, melted down and reshaped, which means their enemy has long had access to police evidence.

And right then, Lance is waking up, supposedly from a drunken sleep – he never shed his alcoholism – to find himself holding a throwing star, with a cut on his forearm, so either Prometheus is actually Lance, either having gone crazy or having been turned into such by someone else, or the real Prometheus is very good at framing people. I fear it may be the former, but, all things considered, the later is just as possible.

Finally, Felicity has been quite the hypocrite for her secrecy with her boyfriend, Billy Malone, but she comes clean about her involvement with the Green Arrow, and he takes it rather well.

Lastly, back in the flashbacks, Ollie is learning about making bombs. He is also learning that the Bratva already have an escalating conflict of their own with Constantine Kovar. That’s why they took Ollie in as one of their own. Not only do they want to stack the odds in their favor, but he can be Oliver Queen in Russia, infiltrate Kovar’s new casino, and blow it up. Ollie’s up for it, and things almost go according to plan. Except that they have been betrayed and sent into a trap. Ollie is captured, his comrade killed, as he comes face to face with the object of his hunt: Kovar.

vampirediarieslogoThe Vampire Diaries

8.04 “An Eternity of Misery”

…whoa.

There have been times during this series, particularly the last season or two, where I thought they were just treading water, but it turns out they did have something in mind after all! I don’t know exactly how concrete it was, but they have had a plan!

The story, as told by Sybil, begins long, long ago, several centuries BC.

There was a man named Arcadius, Cade to his friends, and he was a psychic. He may even have been the first psychic, able to feel what others felt, and so have empathy with them. But Cade was sloppy in concealing this gift, and when he happened to see a man’s more monstrous desires, he recklessly offered to help the man conquer these lesser urges. Cade was answered with fear and hatred, the man whipping their village into a frenzy, to burn him at the stake. On that day, as Cade faced evil, he died in agony, and screamed, and the power he unleashed created a shadow world. In this shadow world, he would collect the souls of the wicked, and torment them for all eternity, even as he fed on them, and gained strength from them, the souls of the damned.

Some time later, Sybil, cursed and exiled for being psychic, was cast onto the rocky shore of a barren island. There, she met a girl, one who would be as a sister to her. Her sister taught her to draw the crews of ships to their doom with her mind, and when Sybil objected, she continued to do so alone, and tricked Sybil into becoming a cannibal, for years. When she found out, she committed suicide. And so her sister found her, and cried out, and was answered by the ghost of Arcadius. In exchange for life, immortality, beauty, etc. they became his servants, collecting the lives of the wicked, feeding on their flesh and sending their souls to him, to the shadow world… to “Hell.”

Fast forward to the present, then: Sybil seems to be doing her master’s will. She gained Damon’s enthralled devotion by giving him a tiny taste of what awaits after he dies, and he turned off his humanity almost immediately, choosing to serve Cade for eternity instead of going to Hell. Then she reworked that tiny corner of him that still belonged to Elena, and stole the whole of his devotion. So now she has him doing her bidding, and now he actually wants to do it.

What that means for Damon is finding some ancient relic. He tracks down its owner, a mechanic named Peter Mackrell (or something like that), and sets the man’s assistant on fire after compelling a confession concerning the murder of one of the man’s wives. Peter has no idea what’s going on, and can’t or won’t find what Damon is after. That buys just enough time for Matt Donovan to show up – called it! – and save his father.

Ah! We finally meet Matt’s dad! Matt nearly kills Damon, but Damon convinces him that he might be able to save Tyler, which sends him packing. Personally, I’d have just staked Damon anyway and then gone for Tyler, but whatever. Either way, it’s too late. Tyler is long dead and cold, and the loss of his childhood friend… well, it hits hard. Matt can’t help but break down crying, much like the audience. At least he has his dad to comfort him this time around.

Speaking of, it seems Matt’s family has been a part of this for a long time. Not only do they have the relic Damon was looking for, some sort of orb, but Matt’s grandmother would always say, “A glass of vervaine a day keeps the vampires away,” when she was making tea. Huh, the most ordinary guy in the entire cast, and his family seems to have been fighting supernatural monsters far, far, far longer than any of the others. Figures.

Meanwhile, we don’t see Bonnie or Caroline this episode, but they’re apparently working on getting Enzo to flip his humanity switch back on. Stefan and Alaric, then, are left interrogating Sybil, who tells her story, and draws certain parallels between her relationship with her sister and Stefan’s with Damon. Her question, then, is which sister Stefan is more like, and she refuses to give up the whole truth until he answers. His answer is: both. He is a combination of both.

That goes into Stefan’s personal cross, his struggle with his own evil, his blood-thirsty nature and his blood-stained past, trying so hard to be good, yet failing so often and so terribly. He has had good reason to kill and to be killed by his own brother, yet he never stops fighting to save him. Even now, he hasn’t quite given up. The fight to save Damon, I think, is the fight for his own soul. According to Sybil, that fight is doomed to be lost. Stefan is doomed to fail, to suffer for eternity, and so is Damon.

She would probably know well enough, being Cade’s servant for centuries now, and having lost her own humanity long ago.

Which makes me wonder: what are Sybil and her sister doing now? What is Cade up to? What does that old relic do? Is Cade trying to return, or to expand his influence somehow? How do Alaric’s daughters figure into this?

Speaking of, are the sirens really united in their cause? Because we saw one siren-compelled woman try to kill the girls already, and yet, as it turns out, the shocking reveal of this episode… they already have a siren as their nanny.

Seline is Sybil’s sister, the one who tricked her into becoming a cannibal, the one who made the deal with Cade. And she happens to be there when Georgie, trying to get to the bottom of the supernatural stuff she’s been seeing, breaks into Alaric’s home to steal the journal. Seline sends her back to the armory to help Sybil, which is a very clever way to get past Alaric, locked in the vault, and Stefan, shot up with vervaine. But Sybil sends Georgie back, refusing Seline’s help.

So… are they trying to do the same thing, or are the sirens divided?

Either way, Alaric manages to get out through the secret tunnel, but that involves hurting himself, in the ears. Owch! He’s just hoping some vampire blood will heal his new deafness, but then, yet another surprise, the secret tunnel leads back where Sybil was shipped to the Armory from: Mystic Falls. The town is a freaking epicenter of mystical crap, ya know? The Originals were created there, the sirens were there, the werewolves are from there… where does it end?

And finally, Georgie relays Sybil’s message to her Seline, and gets killed for it. She wakes up, out of her body… and for the accident she got in, for being stupid and getting her friend killed, she is drawn into Hell. A darkness in the sky that swallows her completely.

Very familiar, that darkness. It’s the same that took Katherine and Silas and so many others from the witch’s limbo, the Other Side. That darkness was Cade!

How very frustrating it must have been for him, for two thousand years, unable to catch the souls of any evil witch, werewolf, or vampire. How very glorious it must have been, then, when Marko shattered Tessa’s little spell that held that limbo together, and he was finally able to glut himself on two thousand years’ worth of souls all at once. He’s nothing more than the world’s single most overgrown leech!

The likes of Katherine and Silas, I have to say, probably deserved what Cade’s given them. But Georgie did not deserve that! She was stupid, she made a terrible mistake, one that had true, dire consequences, but she was not evil!

Still… now that the darkness has a name, and the crew will be facing it head-on, it’s always possible that they could still save Georgie’s soul. It’s also possible, yet again, for any number of old faces to come back. Maybe even Lexi can come back from wherever she went, when she escaped Cade’s ravaging of the Other Side. Who knows?

Either way, things actually just went up another notch with the introduction of Cade and his dark domain. This has got to be the ultimate bogeyman of them all!

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