This Week on TV, March 18, 2017

Spoiler Alert!

This was an interesting week. Gotham and Agents of Shield both missed this week due to their respective hiatus schedules, and we already said goodbye to The Vampire Diaries last week, which was very well done. So, we just had Once Upon a Time, Arrow, and Grimm this week. Once Upon a Time is officially trying my patience with repeated themes and arcs, and Arrow delivered a middling performance, but Grimm was fantastic! 🙂

Once Upon a Time

6.12 “Murder Most Foul”

After watching this episode, a friend of mine and I were talking about exactly how Once Upon a Time has gone downhill.

That’s the sort of episode this was.

At the starts, the show might have been a little campy, but it was still entertaining. The characters were intriguing twists on the classic versions of them, and while there were some odd relationships, they were handled with a certain sort of grace that made them compelling to watch. The Neverland arc was a phenomenal capstone to the preceding two seasons, and in some ways they have done a good job at keeping things fresh, even when they became repetitive. They went to new worlds, brought in new characters, gave the heroes new objectives, like when Snow wanted to become a teacher again, and so on.

However, over the course of the show, things have deterioriated. We hardly follow anyone anymore who isn’t some relation of Emma’s in some way, relegating other characters to minimal appearances. The romantic relationships have become both more complicated and increasingly unsettling when you stop to think about them. And heck, where they used to have some pretty strong couplings, now it’s just “they meet and they fall in love.” Ruby and Dorothy were the worst at that, but Aladdin and Jasmine too, and Zelena and Hades. And yet, as much as that makes me groan, the worst thing, as displayed in this episode, is the “murder and redemption” arc they keep reverting back to.

To explain:

The main thrust of this episode was following Charming on his journey to discover what happened to his father. Hook accompanies him, hoping to turn him back from vengeance, but still willing to help him find the truth.

It turns out, all those years ago, Charming and his brother were dying from an illness. Rumpelstiltskin came along with the cure, which he shared in exchange for giving one of the sons to the king, who had none. It’s the ultimate heart-breaking choice: let them die, or give one up. Charming’s father chose the latter, a choice which devastated his soul to the point he became the village drunk. Then he learned that his son had run away from the king. He gave up the drink then and there, and went to rescue his son. He found him on Pleasure Island, a place Pinnocchio is familiar with. He’s able to confirm that Charming’s father was stone cold sober, and trying to put their family back together.

It’s a great catharsis for Charming, to finally know the truth, to know that his father didn’t abandon them and die a drunk. He fought for their family with everything he had, and laid down his life in the attempt to repair it.

But there is one more thing: Charming now knows who killed his father, and he storms off in a black rage to confront the former King George.

This is a man who stole Charming’s brother, turning the boy unwillingly into a killer, small wonder he became the man we’ve seen elsewhere in the series; he is the man who took Charming himself from his home, tried to rule his life; he cursed Snow to be barren, threatened his life, killed his mother; and now, to top it all off, he is responsible for the death of Charming’s father. King George destroyed every single member of Charming’s immediate family, or tried to. If any man deserves the wrath of justice, it’s him.

But Hook is there, the last thing standing in the way of Charming’s darkness, and he succeeds. The two men are on their knees, one sobbing out the rage and grief, the other holding him steady through it all.

Small wonder Charming gives Hook his blessing to propose to Emma after that.

But, small detail, as Pinnocchio found the pages of the Storybook that pertain to his time on Pleasure Island, Hook recognizes the man in the picture. The king may think he had Charming’s father killed, and it would certainly have been that way without any interference. But Hook happened to be there, and raided the wagon, taking the king’s gold, killing the guardsmen, and killing the peasant the guards would have killed anyway.

Really not good for Hook, that, especially after today.

And here we come to the murder-and-redemption standby of Once Upon a Time. Regina, Zelena, Rumple, Hook, they’re all killers, with much blood on their hands, and they’ve all been forgiven and allowed to live in peace. Small wonder they all bought Hades supposed transformation last season, they have enough examples of such right there within their own family. There is something to be said for this kind of arc, but the repetition of “this person killed this person who’s important to this person” is getting very tiring. Add to that the complete lack of justice involved in these stories, and it’s even worse. Mercy is fine, mercy is good, yes, but justice is important.

Isn’t that what the heroes are always going on about, every time they face a villain? “You’re going to pay for what you’ve done,” and all that. Yet, they keep giving these massive murderers clean slates just for the sake of some personal relationship with them.

That was even touched on elsewhere in the episode.

Regina has her new Robin living with her, despite Snow’s warning that this is not the same Robin she knew. This is a completely different person. Little more evidence is needed of that than when he runs off to try and kill the sheriff of Nottingham, and she has to stop him. She takes him to her vault, filled with the hearts of her enemies among other things, to try and convince him that killing and violence are bad things. It doesn’t really seem to take, but it does wake Regina up to the fact that this Robin is a stranger to her. She doesn’t know anything about who he is. A fact that she realizes only as he’s sneaking into her vault and stealing powerful artifacts from her.

Regina has come a long way… but, let’s face it, even if she’s excised the evil portion of herself, she still has a great deal of innocent blood on her hands. And they’re retracing that exactly when they’re putting Hook in the position of realizing that he killed Charming’s father, just for the sake of convenience. So, you see how it might be getting just a bit worn out?

Arrow

5.16 “Checkmate”

On the one hand, this episode had some fairly powerful material to work with. On the other, not executed very well.

Back in the past, Ollie and his surviving Bratva friends know how screwed they are. Gregor will just blame them for the slaughter, frame them as the traitors, and send the rest of the Bratva to kill them. So they take the initiative and hit him first, before the order can go out. Ollie dons his green hood and arrows, and takes the Bratva down. This is him at the end of his five-year journey towards returning to Starling City as a vigilante. He’s almost ready, and he’s certainly a lethal, cunning warrior.

Also, Anatoly promises Ollie that, if he does things Talia’s way, tries to separate his darkness from himself beneath a mask, he will one day find that she is the source of his greatest suffering. A prophecy that is now coming to fruition.

Back in the present, Ollie finds Talia in a monastary high in the mountains, training a new League of Assassins, it seems. And she answers his question, why she trained his enemy, with her full name: Talia al’Ghul. She is the daughter of Ra’s al’Ghul, who Ollie killed in battle to preserve his city.

Ollie has the right of it when he says her father would be ashamed of her now. Ra’s killed with point and purpose, usually, and had feuds only with those who broke faith with them and broke their rules. When it served a greater purpose, he frankly forgave blood debts. He was not a good man, but he had his own sort of honor. And now his daughter, avenging an honorable death in the heat of battle, has aligned herself with a madman, an indiscriminate murderer of guilty and innocent alike, one who is bound only by his own objectives.

Talia also freely gives Ollie the name of his enemy: Adrian Chase.

Adrian does a good deal of gloating here. Everything that’s happened has been according to his own master plan, and that includes Ollie learning about his double identity. The rest of the episode displays how far ahead he is as Team Arrow struggles frantically to catch up.

Ollie would have simply killed him, except Chase has Susan, the obligatory reporter-damsel-in-distress. I still hate her and Ollie coupling up, but she serves to keep Ollie in check.

Ollie tries to break into his house while Lance and Rene have eyes on Chase, only to find the man’s wife still at home. He tries to convince her of the truth, but she doesn’t listen, and the ACU comes crashing in, summoned by Chase even while he was at the office. As a result, Ollie has to declare the Green Arrow as public enemy number one, with orders to shoot on sight.

Ollie gives Pike the intel on Chase’s true identity, hoping the man can discreetly uncover the truth without Chase noticing, only for the honorable captain to be knifed in the gut in the alley, going comatose, on the verge of death.

They eventually find the right place, but Chase is still ready for them. Which leads into a small diversion here for Felicity.

Felicity has officially joined Helix now. She’s gained a lot from them, but now they want something from her: to hack into an aerial military drone. Which, really, she shouldn’t have, and shouldn’t have tricked Curtis into helping her with. Now she’s handed military power to a cyber-terrorist organization, and in exchange… they helped find Susan’s location.

Which, considering how everything has been a part of Chase’s plan all along, including the team finding Susan, makes me think he might be behind Helix as well. He turned Evelyn against Ollie, and now Felicity has been seduced by the dark side, so why should he not have been part of that as well? Especially since it proved pivotal in luring Ollie into his trap. Oh, and he has had a tendency to know everything, which is exactly what Helix does.

I’m sensing more of Chase’s puppet strings here.

Ollie and the others go into the obvious trap with caution, but they’re still outmaneuvered, divided, trapped, with bombs ticking down. Ollie finds Susan and gets her out, and he’s ready to take Chase down even if he goes down too, but Chase just turns off the timer, still gloating about being ten steps ahead.

Then Ollie has Digs bring Chase’s wife in, to try and talk him down. Chase kills her instead. Saw that one coming.

Then it’s a fistfight, and Ollie seems to actually gain the upper hand, until Talia hits him from behind with a tranquilizer arrow. After everything, Chase wins: he and Talia have taken Ollie captive.

As the team tries to find him, Ollie is defiant, and Chase is still so smug. He doesn’t intend to kill Ollie. He intends to do to Ollie what Ollie did to him: show him who he really is.

So, you can see, there really was some pretty good material in this episode. But Talia’s betrayal was obvious, Chase killing his wife was obvious, Chase being ahead of Ollie’s every move was obvious, Ollie’s rage, Digs’s support, Ollie telling Felicity how worried he is about her… heck, even Chase’s menacing aura… it all felt a bit trite somehow. I don’t know, I’m just feeling very lukewarm about this one.

And where the heck is Evelyn?!

Grimm

6.11 “Where the Wild Things Were”

…ok, then.

So, we have a very big push towards the series finale. This was a gripping, brutal episode, and it was just the build-up.

Nick and Adalind are discussing the possibility of bringing Renard into the loop on things. They have very good reason to mistrust him, but he will, at the very least, do whatever it takes to protect his daughter, and they’re especially short on options right now. Whatever that monster on the other side of the mirror is, it is nasty and it is coming for them, and they need all the help they can get.

That’s when they get a call from Munroe and Rosalee, who discover their no-longer-covered mirror and realize something’s happened. Adalind provides some other pieces, and Diana sees a few things with her gifts to confirm: Eve went to the other side of the mirror. It’s a mad scramble now to try and get her back. Nick tries the healing stick, and it opens the way for him to pass through, but it doesn’t pass through with him. Diana says it can’t, which, really, would have been better to know beforehand.

Eve and Nick find themselves in a world of absolute brutality.

Just as in nature, it’s kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. The wesen don’t change the way they do on our side of the mirror. They’re all permanently in their beastly forms, dominated by their primitive instincts. The only hint of any civilization to be found among them is their clothing and their language, German. Humans are just another clan of animals here, and they don’t hesitate to kill and eat the wesen, just as the wesen don’t hesitate to kill and eat either humans or other breeds of wesen.

It’s a world made entirely of the worst parts of wesen and human, harkening back to a darker age, and I can’t help but think: there’s a reason that the Grimms’ mission was to simply kill off all the wesen and make them extinct. These are creatures with the strength, instincts, and abilities of beasts, directed by human levels of intelligence, who would hunt and eat humans without a second thought. The only thing that could make them even more dangerous would be a greater level of organization. Small wonder the humans of ages past resorted to trying to wipe them out completely. When a most terrifying enemy cannot be negotiated with, doesn’t even see you as an actual person, the only alternative is kill or be killed. Harsh, but true.

Even worse, the wesen may not even have a choice in the matter. Eve is changing, involuntarily, to become a full hexenbiest. If choice is taken out of the equation, if something is actually forcing the wesen behave like nothing more than wild animals that happen be able to speak, then they’re all victims too. And whatever it is, it must be very powerful.

Nick and Eve quickly get on the bad side of some of blutbad like Munroe, but find a human settlement, killing two of the wolfmen in front of them. That makes them some friends, and they’re able to roughly communicate that they are friends, looking to kill a terrible creature nearby. Nick draws it, and the locals identify it as “Zerstörer.” The way it’s pronounced sounds reminiscent of “destroyer.” So, they’re taken right back to the circle of stones they were dropped into when they came into this strange world, in a place called “the Black Forest.”

And things are coming full circle.

While waiting, and looking around, Nick and Eve share some feelings. Nick thinks, as I thought, that Eve was trying to prove something, to redeem herself, by coming to this world alone. She denies this, saying she only means to kill the monster before it kills them. I suppose it’s possble that she’s simply gone obsessive over this, driven in part by fear, but she also admits that she can’t forgive her former self, Juliette, for the things she did. Now, she’d never go back to the way things were, just to get a little happiness. She doesn’t want happiness.

Which, I’m calling it, that’s a bunch of crap. To live without happiness is to live in misery. To choose such is a terrible mistake on many levels. If she finds no joy in her friends, then why is she fighting so hard to protect them?

Still, there is something to say for her acceptance of what has happened to her. The path that Nick and Eve have travelled, long and hard, has brought them here, and she would not take back one moment of it. Nick, by contrast, may still have some doubts on that matter.

Meanwhile, back in their world, Adalind, Munroe, Rosalee, Hank, and Wu discuss what to do. They’re short on leads, so they make a difficult choice: they bring Renard into the circle. They explain the tunnel, the symbols, the cloth, the stick, everything they know, which doesn’t really amount to all that much.

Renard’s friend is able to offer much more, with this new wealth of information. Considering how Diana is clearly connected to all of this somehow, he does not hesitate to call her.

The world Eve and Nick went to, she theorizes, is the world of an alternate possibility, basically an alternate dimension. Exactly where and when the divide occurred is not mentioned, but the breach made through the mirror means said divide is breached, and one or the other world may become “real” now. Either one world or the other is both real and false at the same time, and the breach means that the false one can become the real one. I doubt anyone on either world prefer’s Zerstörer’s version of things, outside the monster himself.

Speaking of which, Renard’s friend, has another theory, a most terrifying one: the monster on the other side of the mirror is “the Devil,” long prophesied, by many cultures, to come to their world as a conqueror and a destroyer. There is one additional part to this particular version: it wants a bride with which to have a hundred children. That bride is called “the Shaphat.” And, the crux of how this applies to our heroes, the theory is that Diana is the Shaphat. The Devil’s intended child-bride.

So, Nick and Eve are finding themselves facing Zerstörer the Devil, who easily overwhelms them with his tremendous mystical power, channeled through his staff. They are all that stands between him and our world, and Diana, and they’re helpless.

Cliffhanger.

Two episodes left.

I am not liking where things are going here. We have a doorway that can be opened only with hexembiest blood, and Eve, who just summed up her whole preceding existence in a single conversation, turning into a hexenbiest without any control over it, just as she stands powerless before a creature that has pursued her and wants to cross through the doorway to seize his child-bride, and it’s the end of the series.

…uh, anyone else thinking Eve’s number might be up?

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