This Week on TV, Jan. 14, 2017

Spoiler Alert!

Hello, Crap. Meet Fan.

That’s basically this week in a nutshell. The Holiday Drought is further ended with the return of Agents of Shield and The Vampire Diaries. Both had giant messes to deal with, and they made them even messier. Grimm was much the same, but I definitely enjoyed Grimm and Agents more than Vampire Diaries.

agentsofshieldseason3bannerAgents of Shield

4.09 “Broken Promises”

Once a mad scientist, always a mad scientist.

They did a pretty good job of making it look like Aida was able to run around behind Radcliffe’s back, but I was starting to wonder just how oblivious he could really be. Turns out, he wasn’t so clueless after all. Quite the contrary, he was very, very clever.

It was such a quick moment, wasn’t it? When he read the Darkhold. It was just for an instant, opening it up to the first page, but it was enough to intoxicate him completely, his madness going on steroids. He’s always been out to push humanity past its limitations. He put humans and technology together, he created Primitive Inhumans, he built an android, always pushing, blurring the line between man and machine, so that mankind could transcend its ancestors. Now, spurred by the Darkhold, he thinks he can make humanity immortal, shaking off the shackles of death, pain, and every other limitation. He wants to play god. Very Frankenstein of him.

But he couldn’t just take the book. Shield would never allow that. Instead, he used his LMDs. With Aida approaching from the outside and the fake May on the inside, it was a simple, elegant plan. All it needed was the right trigger, a pretense that could make Aida “go rogue.”

That was provided as Mace and Coulson decided to deal with the Darkhold. From its reputation, from what they now know happened when a team of scientists tried to use it, and from what they saw of Eli, they judge the Darkhold to be too dangerous to keep, too dangerous even to hide. They have to dispose of it, and wipe out every trace of its knowledge. The book itself is kept on base, right under the Director’s direct watch, until Coulson can take it to an agent who specializes in making such things disappear.

Not only does that sharply narrow Radcliffe’s window of opportunity, it also gives him the pretext he needs. As Aida possesses the whole knowledge of the Darkhold intact, they make the call to have Fitz and Radcliffe wipe her hard drive. If she possessed sentience, it would be the same as killing her. As her behavior more and more strongly resembles such, that decision becomes one I am less and less comfortable with.

Even in the best-case scenario, where Mack and Yo-Yo are right and Aida is just a machine, and one just waiting to attack its human overlords, it’s still a betrayal of trust, a betrayal of someone/something that deliberately shielded Fitz-Simmons from gunfire last episode, and proved instrumental in saving Fitz and Coulson the episode before that. And they reward that by ignoring even the possibility of her having any sort of rights, treating her like nothing more than a machine. And, again in the best-case scenario, it provided Radcliffe with a handy excuse to have Aida supposed turn on Shield and try to steal the Darkhold.

In the worst case, Aida’s development and rebellion would have been genuine, and Shield would have betrayed one of its own out of fear and ignorance.

Aida goes straight through the agents sent against her, and invades the base soon enough. Coulson sends Mack, Yo-Yo, and two armed agents as a defense against Aida’s incursion, but they get pinned down by a hacked jet. Coulson and the fake May, who seems unaware that she is an LMD, try to stop Aida first, but get taken down in an instant. The LMD May, in particular, is used to spy on Coulson. When he lets slip the Darkhold’s location, Aida goes straight for it: hidden and cloaked in the Director’s office.

She doesn’t quite make it out, though. As Fitz and Radcliffe, discussing Aida’s apparent intelligence, get the power back online, Fitz is able to lock her out of the system. She can’t open the door. She pleads with her makers, but as the door opens behind her, Mack comes in swinging and takes her head off. The menace seems to be ended, though Fitz takes her loss hard.

…it’s somewhat macabre, isn’t it, when Fitz is tinkering with Aida’s head afterward? Yeah, that could be a touch disturbing.

Radcliffe is left to commiserate with Aida, the next model of her, having sent the first model in as a potentially sacrificial pawn. He’s frustrated, and knows he can’t ever get to that book again himself, but that’s why he has May’s LMD in place. He thinks it’s all for a good cause, not hesitating to try and overcome nature itself, the boundaries of life and death, which really should not be messed with. May, imprisoned and drugged, seems to be trying to wake up, but until she does, her double is right at Coulson’s side, within arm’s reach of the Darkhold.

But, small detail: Coulson noticed. He noticed some slight behavior changes, and he especially noticed how Aida found the book, when the only one he’d told was “May.” He’s playing close to the chest, likely observing, hoping to rescue May if she’s in danger, but he mentions how disposing of the Darkhold will probably be a solo mission now, leaving “May” out of it. He knows. Or suspects, at least. He noticed.

While all this is happening, Mace, Daisy, and Simmons have a little bonding activity in the form of finding and rescuing the Inhuman Simmons helped.

Ellen Nadeer’s brother, Vijay, wakes up at their family’s country home. We get some background on the Nadeer siblings: their parents are dead, their father designed houses, they lost their mother in the Incident (aka the Chitauri Invasion that the Avengers repelled), for which they hold Shield responsible, and they fear Inhumans as “the next phase” in alien invasion. To them, it’s an epidemic that needs to be combated and purged from the population, because it allows the aliens to be among them, as if they are walking in the husks of their victims.

Ignorance, anger, and fear, spurred by trauma. That’s a dangerous combination.

The Nadeers are so convinced of all this that they actually swore to each other, if one of them was ever infected, the other would “do the right thing,” and murder their own sibling. To that end, the Watch Dogs surround them, right on cue, to put Vijay down. Vijay pleads, and makes a case, and asks Ellen to trust him. Unable to see him die without being absolutely certain, and wanting it to be true, that Vijay could actually fight his way past terrigenesis and return unchanged, Ellen relents, and lets him live. That is, until “the Superior” gives the order for Vijay’s death, and Vijay, wanting to stay alive, manifests his ability as rapid movements, super reflexes. He is an Inhuman.

Simmons arrives with Mace and Daisy, having tracked the Senator down, but they’re stalled at the door. The Sokovia Accords, the new rules that Shield has to play by, tie their hands until the crisis breaks out right in front of them. Which, really, when you need paperwork from the UN to search one building and save one life… yeah, another strike against the Accords in my book. It was great seeing the two sides square off, now that Ellen’s lost her leverage over Shield, but they still couldn’t legally get past the entrance. Fortunately, their timing is impeccable, and Vijay manages to hold his own. But then he’s faced with the choice: either go with Shield or go with his sister and the Watch Dogs.

Vijay believes Shield uses Inhumans as weapons, and that is not entirely untrue. Daisy, Yo-Yo, Lincoln, Joey, Mace, all Inhumans who have worked for Shield. But that was their choice, and Joe chose to leave after last season. And there were a number of Inhumans, and entire community, which never worked for any agency. That sort of thing must surely be happening again. I mean, there are so many new Inhumans all over the world, even Shield couldn’t keep up with all of that. Though the new crop do get tagged like dogs by their respective governments, again in accordance with the Accords.

So, Simmons really should have said, “Some, not all,” not “Yes, but that was their choice.”

It still doesn’t negate Vijay’s own choice, though. He certainly did choose, outright, when he had an option, to go with the people who intended to kill him. And so they did. Ellen Nadeer shot him herself, and had the Dogs weight and dump his body unceremoniously out the helicopter door, into the sea. Where his body sank to the bottom… and underwent terrigenesis for a second time.

…whoa, ok, that is huge! What’s he going to come back as? I assume, with his fanaticism, that he will be a villain, but which one?

And who is the Superior? We saw Agent Blake had joined the Dogs, but I’m not convinced he has what it takes to pull all of this off. So who’s the enemy now? And what is so special about his own men that they’re a cut above any team Nadeer’s lieutenant could assemble?

So, recap: 1) Radcliffe is making more LMDs, trying to get the Darkhold, and he has one in the heart of Shield; 2) Nadeer now has her men’s unquestioning loyalty after killing her own brother, and she intends for the Dogs to wage war on Shield, under the auspices of their mysterious leader; and 3) we have an unknown Inhuman, capable of coming back from the dead, likely with new abilities, about to rise from the grave, and he hates all things alien, Inhuman, and strange, which makes him Shield’s enemy.

That about sum things up?

vampirediarieslogoThe Vampire Diaries

8.08 “We Have History Together”

Ok, now they’re just dragging us through the mud. The deep, dense, sticking, cloying, heavy, suffocating mud.

Caroline heads back to school in Mystic Falls on assignment, and, big surprise, Sybil is teaching the history class. She holds her students hostage, having compelled them into setting up pyres, tying each other to the stake, and burning alive if Caroline does not deliver what she wants. And what does she want? A bell.

It was way long ago that we heard about a hundred witches who were burned, and we’ve encountered them before. They gave Bonnie enough juice to take down Klaus, for instance, and they aided and protected his mother when she tried to end the entire vampire race, an act that I can’t exactly disagree with nowadays. But it seems Sybil and Seline had something to do with the witches’ horrible fate, because the witches hired a man, last name of Maxwell, to forge a bell.

It doesn’t take a genius to see where they were going with that: it’s an ultra anti-siren weapon. Mind you, with how we’ve seen it affect witches, I’m not sure how much thought they really put into that idea. I wonder if they were actually hoping to use it against Cade in some fashion. Taking him down would certainly be worth enduring whatever the bell did to them.

But the sirens got to Maxwell, who happens to be the ancestor of Matt and his father. They disrupted the plan, and things apparently got so bad that Maxwell actually lured them into the cave, even condemning himself to die of starvation, just to contain them.

The bell became called the Founders’ Bell, named for the elite families who moved in and took over the town, took it from the Maxwells and others, and rang the bell every year in celebration of themselves. Matt’s father grew up in the deposed, outcast family, a family that he was embarrassed to belong to, in a town that reminded him of his family’s humiliation. So he left town, and on the way out, he threw the bell into a river. The same river that Elena’s parents drowned in, so the bell was found by the police, broken somehow, and kept by Caroline’s mother.

What Sybil has spent so long looking for is in Caroline’s garage.

…or it was, until Seline became the nanny for Caroline’s daughters and “organized the house,” going through everything, until she found it. And left a note for Sybil.

So Seline has the bell, and Sybil lost her leverage when Matt and his father rescued the kids. Caroline nearly ripped her throat out right then, but… ah, Sybil has one last trump card. It’s probably a lie, but she’s also cunning and petty enough for it to be true. Whether true or false, she is protected by the possibility that she might have planted a trigger in the minds of Caroline’s daughters, and if Caroline kills her… well, no proper mother would take the chance. But then, as Sybil gloats, Caroline does seem to have a glaring weak spot in her maternal instincts: Stefan.

Stefan is a ripper. He’s the ripper, whose savagery and slaughters have impressed even such figures as Cade and Klaus. The pattern has been very long in the making, and it’s impossible to deny: no matter what happens, Stefan keeps “falling off the wagon.” With or without his humanity, with or without external coercion, and no matter how long he goes between slaughtering sprees, the sainted Stefan Salvatore has piled up a truly horrific body count. How safe would Caroline’s daughters be with him around?

And now he’s working for Cade, doing so much worse than just killing. He’s corrupting. He’s looking for the righteous soul, finding that little dark corner deep inside, and pushing it out, to turn “good” into “evil.” Such are Cade’s best meals, the juiciest souls, which boost his power most of all.

Stefan is very good at what he does. Not only does he corrupt an innocent soul, he also works to smother that last, tiny light of humanity flickering in Damon’s heart. Which, if I may say, is a shocking turnaround. It’s usually been Damon dragging Stefan down, not the other way around.

So, what does Stefan do?

Well, after slaughtering an entire anger management group, he finds a victim that can remind Damon of Elena: virtuous, caring, a doctor, brown hair, brown eyes, and an intense desire to defend or avenge her loved ones. Wrath is her sin, once Stefan is done with her. He douses Damon with vervaine, so it looks like he’s dying, and the doctor, Tara, is led to believe that Damon once drove drunk and killed her parents. She could have done differently than she did. She could have just let Damon apparently die without staining her own soul. But instead, she “killed” him. She was manipulated, but within that manipulation, she made a choice.

It took “good” Stefan a long period of daily interactions, often in the middle of crises, to corrupt Elena. It took “bad” Stefan a single afternoon of carefully-crafted lies to corrupt Tara.

And this was just the setup. He pushed against Damon, forcing him to destroy his humanity. In anger, Damon throws out the pendant, and he feeds on a screaming Tara until she’s dead. But then he goes back to find the pendant the next day, has a good conversation with an inmate cleaning up litter, and apparently he is still not done with humanity. Stefan’s little game delivered Tara to Cade, but failed on Damon.

Oh, and Stefan went ripping again, slaughtering what looks to be just about everyone in a hospital.

About the only good news is that Alaric’s last remaining intern, Dorian, is now fully aware of what’s going on and is in on the fight against the sirens, vampires, and Cade. He already proved useful when he figured out the riddle of the Founders’ Bell. Knowledge is power, and they need all the help they can get. But even that could prove a double-edged sword, if Seline turns into an unlikely ally against Sybil, the Salvatores, and Cade. If Dorian wants to kill Georgie’s killer, and lets it get the best of him at the wrong moment, it could cost them dearly.

So… let’s see. They need to destroy Hell, I imagine, thus crippling Cade and hopefully ending him forever. They need to kill Sybil, and be certain Caroline’s daughters are safe before doing so. They need to find Seline and the bell. And they need to deal with Stefan and Damon. Personally, I would put “killing them” back on the table before the obscene body count gets any bigger.


6.02 “Trust Me Knot”

For just a moment there, it looked like fate might have conspired to give Nick a chance at public redemption. Or perhaps it conspired to give Renard a chance at displaying a little decency, if there were any left in him. He failed to do so.

Just as the raid is about to commence, Hank and Wu pull up and arrest Renard for Rachel’s murder. I forget if it was him or Bonaparte, but someone decided to leave Rachel’s dead body where it lie, and that decision came back to bite Renard. There were no guarantees, but it removed Renard from play for a few hours. The swat team went in anyway, though, and found Nick and company, surrendering peacefully. When they took the stick, though, it reacted and laid the entire team out, leaving Nick and his friends untouched. So this thing has more than healing power.

With the team laid out and Renard gone, Nick has just enough time to take an officer’s place and send everyone on a wild goose chase before disappearing. Eve, Trubel, and Bud accompany him into the tunnels while Munroe and Rosalee go to the shop to open up and start fixing the place up again.

Renard, of course, insists on his innocence, but he can’t exactly say “My daughter killed Rachel with magic.” His alibi, Bonaparte, is dead, so with the circumstantial evidence pointing to him, he needs a new one. He calls Adalind, who drops Diana and Kelly at the spice shop – Munroe just loves how his nerves get strained when he’s in immediate proximity of a powerful child with zero restraint and a great deal of boredom to deal with – before seeing Renard and turning down his plea for her to alibi him out of jail. If she lies and incriminates herself, she’ll go to jail to, and how would that be good for her children?

Nick seems to be growing too attached to the stick. It’s having a sort of “one ring, my precious” effect on him. So it heals, it smites, and now it addicts its user to it. Small wonder the knights originally hid it. They probably saw even more of what it could do, and did do to their friends. To unravel the mystery, Eve and Trubel take the cloth it was wrapped in and try to make the invisible writing on it become visible. No luck, at least not Diana uses her power to read it. She even draws a picture of what she sees, including a number of strange symbols connected by lines, in something like part of a circle.

I will say, Diana is scary, but she’s handy to have on your side. And she seems to like Nick well enough, at least for now.

Trubel has apparently been called away from Portland by HW. She and HW wanted Nick to come too, possibly to a gathering of Grimms from around the world, but he elects to stay and keep fighting. To that end, he needs Renard to drop the charges against him, which he can’t do in jail. So he needs Adalind to alibi Renard out, and she says yes to Nick. However, neither side trusts each other, so they use a spell: a trust-me-knot. The two parties take hold of opposite ends of a rope, agree to a promise, and the first one to break their end of the bargain gets hung by the bespelled rope. So Nick promises that Adalind will testify on Renard’s behalf, and Renard promises that, once Adalind has testified, he will drop the charges and reinstate Nick.

So, things seem to mostly be coming together, Trubel’s departure notwithstanding. (they better bring her back quickly, because it would suck if that was her last appearance on the show)

And then the jury is brought together in record time, it being rushed due to Renard’s status as police captain and mayor-elect. And the judge and district attorney, who are both wesen and members of Black Claw, drop the charges and get Renard off. Ah, the dream of corruption, to do whatever you want and have your powerful friends protect you from any consequences. Of course, this was enabled by the lowly janitor at the precinct, also Black Claw, sneaking a phone in to Renard so he could call the judge.

So, after all that, it’s Renard’s connections that save him, not the bargain he makes with Nick and Adalind. As such, he can go back on his word without fear of the rope coming to kill him, and he does, immediately. He expects Hank and Wu to resign in the morning, Adalind will have to move back in with him, and Nick is a wanted man with a bulls-eye on his head.

It would seem that the war between them will not end peacefully. One or the other must fall now.

And that’s besides the war between HW and Black Claw, and the mystery, and danger, of the healing stick.

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