This Week on TV, March 25, 2017

Spoiler Alert!

This was a fairly strong week for my line-up, if still somewhat sparse. I keep considering dropping Once Upon a Time, but they keep buying, like, one more week of my patience, which I suppose is the general idea. Arrow delivered pretty well this week, delving into the very heart of Oliver’s darkness. And Grimm shoved us over a cliffhanger, to fall into next week’s series finale, and the landing is already hitting hard.

Once Upon a Time

6.13 “Ill-Boding Patterns”

You know, they had a nifty idea for this episode, but one that doesn’t really “fit” with the rest of the story.

The sword that is meant to kill Emma the Savior is the same wielded by Beowulf in battle against the Ogres. He gave his men courage and led them into battle, but he was apparently only concerned with his own glory and fame. When Rumpelstiltskin, freshly-turned Dark One, came and simply wiped the Ogres out, he took all the glory from Beowulf. The man decided to stage a monster, Grendel, including murdering innocent villagers, to defame Rumple and take the glory for himself.

Rumple’s son Baelfyr wanted to both help the villagers and prove that they had nothing to fear from his father. He wanted to be the angel on Rumple’s shoulder, keeping him good, keeping him away from dark magic. He also wanted to stop being bullied by the other kids. So he convinced his father to go with him to face the monster and save whatever villagers could be saved.

Rumple, of course, was still a coward, even with all that power, most especially because he couldn’t use any of it. He was afraid and uncertain, so he gave his dagger to Bae, so his son could keep him in check if need be. It was a small act of both trust and courage, and it backfired. Beowulf took the dagger and was ready to frame Rumple, but Bae got the dagger back and, knowing who the villagers would believe, ordered Rumple to kill Beowulf first.

After that, Rumple was deflated, but Bae felt exalted, untouchable. He was going dark, so Rumple gave him a tea that erases memories, and took the entire blame for Beowulf’s death himself. He became a monster in his son’s eyes in order to keep Bae from becoming one himself.

Which, really, it is quite poignant. But, small detail: it wipes out the impetus for Rumple turning so evil himself. Sure, he took revenge on the man who wronged him right after turning, but then he went and ended the war, saved everyone. After that, the story was that he had gone a bit crazy with the darkness after that. But now it seems he was trying to live in peace and not hurt anyone. Sure, he could take the blame for Beowulf, but that alone wouldn’t turn him so full-on evil and heartless, I would think, especially with the sacrifice he makes for Bae.

Still, glaring discrepancy notwithstanding, it was heart-breaking and appropriate to give context to the present.

Gideon is not turning away, at all, from his goal of killing Emma. He’s a fool who thinks he can steal heroism by killing the hero, not entirely unlike Beowulf. He’s even using Beowulf’s sword, which turns out to have been created and enchanted by the Blue Fairy. Sheesh, she really blew it with that, didn’t she? So, Gideon can reforge the broken blade by taking her magic from her, and he intends to do exactly that.

Rumple is trying here, honestly, to save his son. He’s listening and learning what the Black Fairy did to him, to make him so desperate to become a Savior and kill her. It turns out, she tortured him, often by hurting his body, often by tormenting his soul. He’s like a dog that’s been beaten his whole life: wounded and weak, but also unpredictable and dangerous. Rumple tries to save him with the memory potion tea, but it doesn’t work, and Gideon takes the dagger, forbidding Rumple from standing in his way.

So, as he did once with Bae, Rumple took the hit, to try and keep Gideon’s soul from being taken by darkness completely. The Blue Fairy is at Gideon’s mercy when Rumple arrives, and he can’t stop Gideon, so he does the deed himself, leaving Blue fallen and unconscious. Gideon is satisfied when Rumple gives him the repaired sword, and returns the dagger.

Belle is in a tricky spot here. She has a son who wants to kill Emma, and her husband seems to be unable to help except to try and do the dirty work, and keep a tally of repairs to be made, like eventually restoring Blue’s power to her. What can she do but hope it works, and hope they can find a way to stop Gideon and strike at the Black Fairy?

Meanwhile, Hook is wrestling with the knowledge that he has to tell Emma the truth, the he is the one who killed Charming’s father, her grandfather, back in his pirating days. He confides in Archie about the situation, without going into specifics. He fears, and knows, that telling her will cost him any chance at her hand in marriage. But, still, he must tell her, so, after he fortifies his courage a bit with alcohol, he goes home to tell her.

…only to find that she’s found the ring he meant to give her, and she’s already answering yes, and he loses that critical moment of confession. Instead, he proposes, and she says yes. They are engaged.

Oy vey!

Arrow

5.17 “Kapiushon”

This was a powerful episode.

It did a lot of things right, especially with how significant the flashbacks were, not necessarily to the plot, but to the character of Oliver Queen, as pertaining to the here and now.

Where this week’s Flash episode went with a silly musical and Legends of Tomorrow went with evil attaining cosmic power, Arrow took us to the very bottom of Ollie’s own darkness.

In the present, Ollie is at Chase’s mercy, and Chase tortures him, saying, “Confess. Confess your secret.” Ollie has no idea what he means or what he wants to hear, but after a good deal of physical punishment, Chase ups the game to mental and emotional torture, including a parade of Ollie’s slain enemies and fallen friends, citing the people they left behind as some sort of proof of Ollie’s evil.

Ollie is right to call Chase a hypocrite. He has plenty of blood on his hands, much of it perfectly innocent. He has murdered, and tortured, and left families devastated in his wake. And all for what? His own vendetta? His personal enjoyment of it? How can he possibly stand there and judge Ollie for having played judge, jury, and executioner, or, rather, for having killed men in battle, after everything Chase himself has done? It’s lunacy and hypocrisy perfectly intertwined.

Chase brings in Evelyn, apparently broken by whatever Chase has done to her. He bids one of them kill the other and gain their freedom. Evelyn weeps as she tries, but Ollie won’t lie down and die, and he won’t kill her. He tries to convince her to escape with him, but she doesn’t listen. Then Chase comes back, and apparently breaks her neck. That physical pain, the mental torment, and the emotional agony all build up and Chase finally guides him to what he wants to hear.

He is convinced that Ollie didn’t shed all that blood for a noble purpose. He’s certain Ollie had another reason, one so dark and terrible that he hasn’t admitted it even to himself.

And what is that reason?

The answer lies in his time in Russia.

We’ve seen Ollie get pretty dark, but for the most part, Arrow has been about his long journey into the light. That’s been contrasted by flashbacks chronicling his journey into the darkness we’ve seen him emerge from, so one could assume that the middle point, where the past ends and the present began, the point where Arrow begins its story, is where we see Ollie at his very darkest, with the present showing him finally redeemed from such. But that is not quite the case. Ollie was apparently already on the upswing in that regard, as this episode shows that he dipped lower in Russia than we have ever seen of him before.

Ollie is frankly acting like a crazy guy here. He’s embracing with a bit too much zeal the whole notion of trying to separate his darkness from himself by putting it under the hood. He even refers to what he does while wearing that hood as if its someone else doing it and he’s not responsible for it. That is… madness. And exactly what he does is nothing short of monstrous.

Sure, there’s what we expected: fighting, killing, even torture. But this is all more and worse than we ever saw before. I don’t think you can get much worse than skinning a man alive… especially when it was mostly for practice.

That was Ollie’s most monstrous moment, and he tried to keep it separate from himself under the hood, a hood he inherited from Shado and her father, who were fierce and strong, but also compassionate. Wearing the hood to honor them as he fought was one thing. Wearing it to hide his darkness, as he did truly inhumane things? That’s not honoring, that’s defiling.

Anatoly had the right of it: what he’s doing isn’t controlling his darkness, it’s enhancing it. We can’t just separate ourselves like that. We are what we do and why we do it, no excuses. Ollie is being devoured, and his wake is now that of a horrifying monster, not a hero.

His brutality didn’t even really finish things as he thought he was. Ollie and the Bratva are able to figure out that Kovar is intending to destroy the government by gassing the highest officials, gathered for a party at his new casino, murdering the lot of them. Then he takes over, and he’ll turn on his partners, the Bratva. Not wanting that to happen, they try to intercept the gas, provided by none other than Malcolm Merlyn, but that goes sideways pretty badly. Then they infiltrate the casino itself, but are betrayed by one of their own, who thought he’d be spared but Kovar didn’t hesitate to kill him too.

Alas, as Ollie gets help from Taiana and Vlad’s mother, that brings his wrath down on her. Ollie fails to save her, and he fails to stop the attack, though he limits the damage. Then he fights Kovar one-on-one with the Bratva as witnesses, takes him down, and kills him even after he’s beaten. Yet, unbeknownst to him, even his brutality failed to finish the job, as Merlyn gets hold of Kovar’s body, still alive, saving him.

Ollie got his Bratva Captain tattoo for his victory and his service to them, despite how he was leaving. It was over for him.

And in the present, with a still-living Evelyn to hear and gloat about how he breaks, and a gloating, menacing Chase to scar him with the removal of the tattoo, and of his victory, Ollie finally gives Chase the words he wants to hear. They might even be true, to a point, especially with how we just saw Ollie do reprehensible things without really needing to, but the confession is this: he never killed just because he had to, but because he wanted to, and he enjoyed it.

The single darkest corner of Oliver Queen’s soul, dragged to the surface by his enemy.

Chase lets him go, bleeding, bruised, and broken.

He staggers into the lair, and the first thing he says is that he’s out. He’s done being a vigilante. He’s shutting down his crusade.

Which, I think, is a big part of what Chase truly wants. Perhaps he, too, mad a difference between Ollie and the Hood. Perhaps not. But either way, the man that killed Chase’s father is dead, killed more thoroughly than any simple dead body would do. Perhaps that was the goal after all. Perhaps not. I imagine chase isn’t done just yet, and Ollie sure isn’t done with Chase.

Can I just say? I hate what they’ve done with Evelyn’s character. They introduced her as a bit misguided by her pain, but a good potential ally. Then they brought her in, and they were almost like family. Then she turned against Ollie because he used to kill people more often? Now she works with a true serial killer, with so much innocent blood on his hands, even participates in elaborate scenarios to torture Ollie for Chase’s agenda. What the heck?! Who thought this was a good way to use Artemis’ character in the Arrowverse? Sheesh!

Grimm

6.12 “Zerstörer Shrugged”

…oh my…

…they’re really not pulling any punches.

The ending of this episode just about ripped my guts out, and it was just the cliffhanger to drop us into the series finale, “The End,” next week.

These last few episodes have brought up the beginnings of things a lot, how far they’ve all come in this show. But all things must end, and this ending looks to be taking all of them with it. The slow-boiling pot is suddenly boiling over, and it scalds.

While Nick and Eve are trying, very hard, to defeat Zerstörer – and as that name apparently means “Destroyer” (hah, called it!), I will just call him the Destroyer from now on – it becomes clear to them that their enemy is deliberately not killing them, despite ample opportunity.

As it happens, Rosalee, Hank, and Wu are putting that answer together in the spice shop, as they learn that a sealed-away darkness needs a Grimm to pass through a doorway so it can follow and flee its current domain. They realize that the Destroyer targeted Eve in order to draw her through the portal, in order to draw Nick through, so they could them escape, and lead the way for it to follow into our world. Rosalee calls to warn Munroe, Adalind, and Renard to not open the portal, but it’s too little, too late. They’ve already figured out a way, to let Diana use the stick to open the portal. Diana overheard this, so she, possessing all the restraint, patience, and desire to help that can be expected of a nine-year-old girl, went ahead and did it before they could stop her.

Nick and Eve made it back. And the Destroyer followed.

Nick and the others are regrouping, going over what happened to them. Munroe’s family bible depicted a place that was beautiful, but filled with beast-men with the fires of Hell burning within, perhaps explaining their primal savagery. There might be a hint there to help them, but nothing as of yet. They do know that the Destroyer gets a lot of his power from that staff, and that could provide a definite key to defeating him. If that’s where he gets the majority of his power, then it’s also his crutch. They know he wants Diana, who, sensing his arrival, understandably loses it with fear, so they perform a spell to hide her from him. They also learn that Eve is no longer a hexenbiest. Something about being in that other place and coming back from it turned her back into a normal human. So now she’s neither Juliette nor a hexenbiest, and as nearly-impotent as she may have been against the Destroyer, she was one of their biggest guns.

Things are not looking great, especially when they start following the trail of bodies the Destroyer is leaving in his wake.

The team breaks up into three groups at this point.

Renard and Adalind take Diana and Kelly out to the cabin in the forest, the one we saw waaaaay back in the first episode, to keep them hidden. Myself, I would have chosen a less remote location. If the Destroyer finds them, then hiding clearly hasn’t worked, and the odds are not good in a fight. When hiding and fighting have both failed, fleeing is a very good option to keep open, and that tends to work better when you have long, smooth roads and the ability to catch a plane very quickly. Hiding in the forest was a bad move, I think.

Either way, at least they’re able to get some rest in a quiet place. Renard and Adalind are determined to protect Diana, and between the three of them they might even hold their own for a moment, or so they hope. I’m thinking that idea may be very ill-fated indeed, and though they’ve theoretically hidden Diana from him, Diana learns she’s not all the Destroyer is after. Her dream informs her that he’s after Kelly too, for what purpose I could hardly dare imagine, and I note that he does not have a spell hiding him. Hiding is good, but hiding in one place, I think, is a really bad idea right now.

Meanwhile, Munroe, Rosalee, and Eve, joined by the sudden arrival of Trubel (yay, she’s back!), are researching the Destroyer. They have all the books still open from earlier, so they don’t have to search very far. That staff weighs especially heavy on Eve’s mind, as every depiction of a staff of power they can find, the staff is whole, while the Destroyer’s looks like it’s been shattered and reassembled. That jogs Munroe’s memory as he finds a story about staff of power that had been shattered, the pieces scattered everywhere, to try and keep it from ever being reassembled. At which point, Eve realizes a horrifying possibility: the stick they have may be a piece, perhaps the last remaining piece, of the Destroyer’s staff. The seven Grimm Crusaders may well have taken such trouble to hide it specifically to keep it away from him, and here Nick and Munroe went and got it from a forest on the other side of the world and now have it in close proximity to him.

Then again, it seems the Destroyer is able to find it anyway, so there’s no telling how much good hiding it might have actually done… then again, it did provide the way for the Destroyer to return, so maybe it would have done a great deal of good since it was effectively the key to the lock of its prison.

…hmmm, random aside… the Destroyer’s eyes are green, a color associated with the Grimms, as in the case of the glowing skulls in the catacombs, and it needed a Grimm to pass through the portal so it could break out… I wonder, did Nick’s ancestors manage to take some of its power and seal it away or something like that? Either way, I digress.

So, the Destroyer wants Diana, who is theoretically hidden, Kelly, who is not, and the stick to complete its staff, which Nick has. He goes for the closest item first, looking to maximize his power for whatever is to come: the stick.

Wu, Hank, and Munroe are looking for the Destroyer as well. It’s pretty easy, with the trail he’s leaving. He can appear as a human – oh, the actor who plays Simpson in Jessica Jones, cool! – but his arrival leaves a lot of dead bats, an impaled man, and a guy stuck with lightning so his eyes burst out. Yeah, not subtle. The Destroyer has no need for subtle. Wearing clothes stolen from one of his victims, he goes out into the world. He can’t understand what people are saying, but he can perfectly mimic the sounds, like a human might mimic the sounds of wild animals. He kills a drunk bum by turning his staff into a snake, definitely going Old Testament there. Then he kills two officers who received the APB about him.

Trubel leaves the shop and picks up his trail, following at a distance, noticing that he’s heading towards the precinct. Which is where the trio of comrades stops back at to load up on guns and ammo. Shooting didn’t work in its world, but they’re hoping it’ll work here. Small detail: Nick survived a hail of bullets once with only a piece of the staff. With how much the Destroyer has? I don’t think bullets will ever have a chance. Still, they need to try it sometime, and that time comes immediately.

The Destroyer storms the precinct, mowing straight through all of their fellow officers with about as much difficulty as a fish swimming through water. The three of them open up to absolutely no effect, and it tosses them and the desks alike with a wave of power.

Wu is up first, tapping into his unusual wesen side, and charging… only to be impaled and cast aside. He dies where he lays, Nick at his side.

Nick is sent sprawling again.

Hanks is up, shooting until his gun is empty, then using the gun like a club, defiant… and futile. The Destroyer puts his staff straight through Hank’s throat and out the back of his neck.

All Nick can do as his two closest comrades on the force die, is scream, and try to fight, but he’s thrown back a third time, sent flying.

The Destroyer stands untouched.

…and the episode ends, with our hearts ripped out.

It makes all the sense in the world, really. It’s pretty common, when you come to the end of the story, to kill off a major chunk of the cast, the mainstays who have been there from the beginning.

The only main member of the cast who wasn’t in the first episode was Rosalee, though Trubel has been an important recurring cast member I’ve never gotten enough of. The first time we met Nick, Hank was filming him as he bought an engagement ring, mere moments before his very first meeting with Adalind, and his first experience as a Grimm. We saw Wu in the same episode, working the case with them, and Renard leading the precinct as captain. We met Juliette, of course. And for none of these characters did we envision these last six seasons, or this ending.

Everything comes back to the beginning, and with the show’s end, so does any guarantee of anyone’s survival. Hank and Wu are dead. Who’s next? Who will survive? I don’t think I ever thought I’d want Adalind to live this much, but I really do, and it looks like she, especially, may not make it through the last episode.

And then there’s all the loose threads. Trubel wrapped up the Black Claw plot with a simple declaration that they’ve been wiped out and the war is over, all within the last handful of episodes and we didn’t get to see a bit of it. The war between the Royals and the Resistance just kind of faded away, replaced by the war with Black Claw, which is several years of setup for very little payoff. So it’s not like Grimm doesn’t have it’s flaws. But I still like this show a lot, and I’m going to miss it, and it’s going to suck if everyone dies in the last episode, ya know?

The episode title refers to the title of a novel, which refers to an ancient, primal deity that holds up the sky, and stars fall when he shrugs. They did a pretty good job showing how godlike and untouchable this Destroyer is. What chance do the good guys have against that?

What do the people behind this show have up their sleeve?

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