This Week on TV, Oct. 21, 2017

Spoiler Alert!

This was a pretty good week! The Gifted continues to weave a complicated, intricate, intelligent web of gripping threads all centered around the characters, the choices they make, and who they choose to become. Gotham delivered one heck of a powerful episode that turned everything on its head. And Inhumans, for all its many flaws, might actually be getting somewhat good at this point. Or, at least, having followed all the characters thus far, it’s interesting watching their threads coming back together.

The Gifted

1.03 “eXodus”

And the hits just keep on coming.

After Reed cut a deal with SS last episode, Turner is keen on getting things done quickly. Reed spills about the mutant bartender he saw when he first met Eclipse, and he becomes their target. Turner and SS fabricate a story about Reed escaping, including wanted notices, a bounty, and a massive manhunt. They put a tracker on Reed’s leg and have him make contact, begging the bartender, who can turn invisible, for help. The man, being a compassionate human being, takes him in.

All is going according to plan: Reed is in, leading SS to the Underground, which intends to roll them all up all at once, and deal with them like terrorists.

Then Reed gets another wake up call. He had one when his children turned out to be mutants, and he ran to the Underground for help. Now he gets a second one: he’s being smuggled to safety alongside a woman and her little girl. The girl’s father was already taken by SS, but they’re not nearly satisfied with that, they’re still after the girl, a “future threat,” and her mother, who can take away people’s pain. Reed is torn, as well he should be. It’s easy for anyone to simply cut down an enemy in the heat of the moment, but to spend time with them, look them in the eye, be treated as a friend, and still stab them in the back? That is betrayal.

The final straw was that night, in the van, when the little girl sensed his anxiety and comforted him. It was a simple, powerful moment, and had me quietly rooting, “C’mon Reed, c’mon Reed… c’moooon…” And then he chose. He revealed his treachery and jumped out of the van while it was still moving, so the bartender could turn it invisible and get away clean with his precious cargo. (Me: “WHOOOOO!”)

As I said, what Reed did was understandable: he looked after his own, his family. I can’t say I would do any better, but it was still wrong. But now he’s chosen better. He needed to look a little girl and her mother in the eye to get there, but he’s chosen. Rather than bring SS down on them, he chose to sacrifice himself and face SS, and Turner’s wrath, head-on.

You know that old saying about a rock and a hard place? It comes from the old legend of Scylla and Charybdis, where the choice is between choosing which sacrifice to make: the few or the many. I mentioned this on Gotham a couple weeks ago, but people tend to want to preserve themselves first, so they try and turn away from the more obvious danger, and to heck with everyone else. What they don’t realize is how destructive that is to oneself and to others. That’s the real Charybdis. Choosing Scylla is choosing to put oneself at risk as much as anyone else. Indeed, it means sacrificing yourself for others.

Reed just chose Scylla, and now he’s in the very jaws of the SS. And that’s all right with him, because he just narrowly avoided the worst mistake of his life.

Fortunately for him, he’s not the only one in this position.

Polaris isn’t doing so well in prison. Turner pays a visit to her before the operation with Reed, offering her a chance to get out, to be with Eclipse and their child somewhere, say, the Bahamas, in exchange for information on the Ungerground. Not that I would trust any such offer from Turner, but she refuses. Then she uses her abilities to open the metal door, and the collar makes even that a crippling effort, where she’s left on the ground, coughing and bleeding from her nose. And she’s getting no sympathy from the guard that finds her.

As the Struckers are finding out, there’s no limit to how unfairly the mutants are treated. They aren’t even seen as human by a number of people.

They have these abilities, and they really are miraculous, beautiful skills, and for this they are persecuted. The woman Reed meets can take away pain, Lauren can protect people, Polaris can dance in the air as she levitates her cuffs and steel-toed shoes, and Eclipse can make pretty lights. Those last are referred to in a flashback, and we see that their abilities combine to make a smaller version of the northern lights (yes, they are beautiful, I can say having grown up in Alaska), and small wonder they kissed on that note. 🙂

And yet, the world has responded to this beauty with ugliness, with all the worst that humanity has to offer. That’s something the Struckers have had a glimpse of, but are still really realizing.

Cait, for instance, wants to help both her husband and the Underground, and do so through legal means, through making calls and pulling strings and getting lawyers. The mutants unanimously dismiss this, but they fail to properly explain why, so Cait holds onto it.

She leaves in the dead of night, her kids insisting on coming with her, to go to her brother’s house. He has some connections with politicians, but he’s already being given the cold shoulder just for being her brother. He loves Cait, and he wants to help, but he’s afraid. He’ll give her and the kids a place to sleep for the night and all the cash he has in a safe, but he insists that they have to leave in the morning, and that’s all he can do for them.

Cait is shocked, yet again. Her own brother is letting her down, leaving her and her kids to fend for themselves. She’s still processing this, all night, when crap hits the fan (again).

Cait’s nephew is not nearly so afraid of mutants or what they can do. He thinks it’s cool, and eggs Andy on for a demonstration. He doesn’t know how to control it yet, it seems to just be something that builds up at moments of tremendous stress, and he needs to let it out. When he learns that a friend he’s been going to school with for a long time went and graffitied his house, then took a picture with a girl in front of it, smiling, and posted it in instagram… well, he nearly blows his top.

Andy and his cousin are fairly typical teenage boys in the middle of this. As Andy sees it, he was bullied as a normal kid and now he’s being hunted for being a mutant. He’s powerful, he’s strong, he shouldn’t have to take that. He can totally demolish his enemies now, just break things and take what his family needs. He hasn’t learned self-restraint yet, and he’s chafing under the adults’ restraints on him.

His cousin is a bit superficial, just relishing in how awesome it is that Andy can do stuff now. He brags to a friend, sending him a picture of a broken trophy, the result of Andy venting his tension. His friend promised not to tell, but that doesn’t hold for long. By morning, everyone knows, and a small, armed mob shows up on the lawn.

Fortunately, Thunderbird and Eclipse got there first, just in the nick of time. They keep a level head, very much needed to hold Andy back, which probably goes a ways towards convincing Cait’s brother to help. Seeing the mutants are trying not to hurt anyone, he walks out the front door to try and talk them down. It’s certainly brave, and he appeals to the mob leader in every way he can. He gets knocked to the ground for his trouble. That’s when Andy strikes, blowing the front door to smithereens. Thunderbird shields Andy from a responding bullet, and Eclipse disarms the shooter. They move, quickly, with Eclipse holding the entire mob in check for a few precious seconds as they take a car and flee the scene, with their enemies in hot pursuit.

And here we get into the nature of what it means to be tempted when one has abilities, as well as how one masters them.

Andy is a kid, new to his abilities, which makes him a bit stupid and selfish with them. But another mutant, whose name I did not catch, apparently has the ability to implant memories, among other things. It’s a terrible ability, a violation, and apparently one that she and Thunderbird already know can invite dire consequences. It certainly should not be used for mere convenience, so the question becomes what necessity is great enough for it be used.

With Blink’s abilities on the fritz after last episode, Eclipse’s faint hope of rescuing Polaris with her help is dashed. It falls to Thunderbird, who is apparently experienced at training mutants to master their unwieldy abilities, to help her remaster hers. This goes into how they are used in the first place, often drawing from negative emotions like fear and anger at first. But these are unreliable, so they need to be made to draw from something better, something positive. As a marine, Thunderbird’s training helped him focus on what he loves, what is most important to him. Blink tries that, but it’s slow going, and the girl who can alter memories suggests giving her a fake memory of Polaris being her best friend to draw from. Thunderbird shuts that idea down hard, but she’s still tempted. She chooses not to, at first, but it’s clearly still an option in her mind.

Oh, and she’s in love with Thunderbird.

So, when Thunderbird and Eclipse call ahead, warning of the pursuit coming after them as they near HQ, she resorts to drastic measures: she plants a memory in Blink’s head, one of kissing Thunderbird in the rain. Now “loving” Thunderbird, she digs deep and opens a portal for them to drive through, vanishing into thin air, just out of sight at HQ. And then she hugs Thunderbird, tightly. He handles it tactfully, sending Blink inside and scolding the other girl in private.

For Thunderbird, usually so calm, to get so upset, I’m thinking this is one of those things that is even worse than it immediately seems.

After that debacle, Cait manages to meet with her brother again the next day. He offers her his cabin to hide in, and some information he scrounged up by making some calls. As Reed is officially on the bad side of SS, he is being transferred alongside Polaris (one assumes) to an SS detention facility. Cait’s brother doesn’t think they can do anything, so he tries to help her realize that she will never see her husband again.

She responds with a hug, and telling him he’s wrong, as she walks over to stand with Thunderbird and Eclipse.

So, Reed almost betrayed the Underground, but turned away at the last moment, Polaris is alone and desperate in prison, and Caitlin Strucker is casting her lot with the people who have gone above and beyond for her, to rescue her husband, not knowing the dangers the Underground may pose even to itself.

Oh, and that scientist person from last episode calls Turner at SS. His name is apparently Dr. Campbell, Head of Research over at… a company whose name we don’t hear because Turner cuts him off. (foreshadowing much?) Campbell is interested in the Struckers and the Underground, and apparently his company and SS have already been of benefit to each other, so he proposes a partnership. Turner turns down the offer immediately, something about not handing “suspects” over to a private contractor. But Turner is familiar with Campbell’s work, it seems, and if he, a man who hunts mutants for a living out of revenge for his daughter, is not going to give them to Campbell… then it must be something truly terrible.

Campbell’s interest in the Strucker children is most chilling. I am reminded of a particular Nazi who took Jewish twin children from their parents to perform ungodly experiments that very few survived.

Gotham

4.05 “The Blade’s Path”

the heck was that?!

This was one of those episodes that slowly turned everything upside-down, and left us turning our own heads sideways to try and compensate.

After the tumultuous events of last episode, culminating in the murder of a boy, everyone’s emotions are left raw by their failure. Bruce is burdened by guilt, Alfred by his own share of responsibility, and Gordon is angrily bucking against the licenses again, bringing him to argue with Bullock again. It doesn’t exactly help their moods as each of them learns Ra’s al’Ghul is using his foreign status to walk away from his crimes as a free man. Gordon goes to warn Alfred to keep an eye on Bruce once the news breaks, raking him over the coals for not holding Bruce’s adventuring in check.

Neither man realizes Bruce is eavesdropping on their conversation. In the very act of warning Alfred, Gordon triggers exactly what he was hoping to avoid and worse.

Bruce has been studying the knife day and night, and he’s found the professor’s notes about the prophecy. He deduces that the knife can be used to kill Ra’s, and imagines that’s why Ra’s wanted it, to prevent it from being used against him. Hearing Ra’s is about to escape unscathed, he infiltrates Blackgate and attempts to kill the man. But, as he stands there, successful, he hesitates. He remembers his vow, to never kill, ever. So he sheaths the knife and turns away.

Only for Ra’s to suddenly be on his feet, disparaging Bruce for his weakness. The guards enter, but they are loyal to Ra’s and take Bruce below the prison.

Alfred goes to Gordon for help, and the two go to Blackgate. For a moment, things look ready to take a turn for the worst, as not only did Ra’s replace all the guards with his own men, but they successfully get Gordon and Alfred to relinquish their weapons.

Note: never surrender your weapon.

Gordon and Alfred are being given the runaround, possibly led further into a worse trap, when they put things together. Gordon remembers a few things from his brief time as a prisoner, giving them insight to figure out who the men around them really are. They probably killed all the genuine guards, but Gordon and Alfred are facing the enemy in the open, outnumbered only two to one, in close quarters. They hold their own perfectly well.

Also note: a weapon is only a tool. It is the man who wields it which is truly dangerous.

Beneath the prison, Bruce regains consciousness and Ra’s explains himself. The knife can kill him, but only in the hands of his heir, Bruce Wayne. And that is exactly what he wants: for Bruce to kill him. Ra’s himself saw it in a vision as he was bathed in the waters of the Lazarus Pit and brought back to life. The two thousand years since have not been kind to Ra’s, and he speaks as one who is in pain. All of this, then, was just to get Bruce to end his long life. Even his own reflection shows the rotted, withered thing he has become. (and Barbara made out with that…)

Bruce refuses, holding to his oath… that is until Ra’s clarifies exactly what will happen if Bruce does not kill him. He waxes eloquent, describing the happy life Bruce will have in the light, becoming a man, a husband, a father, perhaps even forgetting Ra’s. That is, until Ra’s returns and kills everyone Bruce loves, especially his wife and children, right in front of him.

That does the trick. Bruce stabs Ra’s, snarling “Die” in the ancient creature’s face.

Killing is not to be done lightly, but it’s hard to conjure a more thorough justification. Not only has Bruce been terribly hurt by Ra’s, not only is Ra’s saturated in innocent blood, even that of a friend, but Ra’s could and would easily fulfill his word. He was a threat, far worse than most, one that only death can remove.

So, as terrible a deed as it is, and as dangerous as it is to let such darkness within oneself, this remains one of those times where I say, “Bravo, Bruce. Bravo.”

Part of that, however, is what happens after.

Gordon and Alfred arrive just in time to watch the rapid decay of Ra’s al’Ghul. Unable to properly explain that, Gordon elects to run with the story that Ra’s had his men infiltrate the prison and escaped. Bruce is off any legal hook, but, and this is important, he still holds himself responsible. Perhaps to much so, but, in this case, far better too much than too little. He designates what he has done as a betrayal of his parents and himself. Thus, he is not worthy of the suit, the mask, or the crusade he has barely begun. That rings true to at least one version of Batman, where he hung up his cape after things went sideways one time, where he had to use a gun and killed a man.

He’s about to burn it all when Alfred stops him. Bruce’s vigilante activities may have begun as a means to prepare to the return of Ra’s, but it grew into something much more than that, even in such a short time. Bruce feels unworthy now, and Alfred knows it’s a long, bumpy road back to where he was before that night, but Alfred believes in him, as does Gordon. Both men see in Bruce a young man who cares, and protects, and fights. So, Alfred takes the suit from him, and promises that it, like Alfred himself, will be waiting for Bruce when he feels the time is right for him to take it up again.

Bruce has broken his vow for the first, and likely the last, time ever.

Of course, this now leaves anyone familiar with Batman’s mythos to wonder what the heck is going on. Ra’s al’Ghul dead by Bruce Wayne’s hand before he ever becomes the Batman? Huh?

And that is the main thrust of this episode.

Elsewhere, Sofia Falcone is moving forward with her plotting and manipulation. Just as Penguin is growing frustrated with how his control over Gotham’s underworld is not absolute, she stops by the Lounge to invite him out to lunch the next day. He is reluctant, but she makes a persuasive case, that she can offer him the weight of the Falcone name and the respect it can still command. He agrees, though he makes it clear that she remains on thin ice.

Sofia stops by the restaurant beforehand, speaking with the owner, head of a former Falcone family and not pleased with the licenses, but also smart enough to not say so. Sofia has something in mind for her lunch with Penguin. It’s a Hungarian restaurant, to give Penguin a little taste of where he comes from, on his mother’s side. She even has them make goulash exactly like his mother used to make. The taste of it has a powerful effect, momentarily silencing Penguin for the emotion he feels. Then he storms out, leaving Sofia and the cooks a little confused.

She stops by the Lounge later, and Penguin confronts her for her obvious manipulation. He instantly recognized the goulash as his mother’s and, not believing in coincidence, knew it was deliberate. His conclusion: she’s buttering him up. So, rightfully suspicious, he wants nothing to do with her. But then his leg acts up, courtesy of the weather, and she manages to get him to let her help him. She promises not to judge, and tells him a story, about a time she hurt her ankle, and her father just told her to ice it and buck up. But her mother taught her, cold makes the pain worse. Warmth is what is needed, and so she warms Penguin’s lame leg with her own hands pressed against his skin. It’s a shock to Penguin, he is at a loss for words, as this woman kneels before him and sees to his foot, like Christ himself washing the feet of his disciples.

Sofia is very good at what she does. She did the same with Gordon, giving his soul a place to rest and heal for a moment, before digging her claws into him. Now she’s doing it to Penguin, offering so much solace and help without asking for anything in return, and she’s not letting up, as any reasonable person would. Penguin has had to deal with many things, but kindness is not one of them, and so Sofia has chosen cunning kindness as her weapon against him.

Finally, what may be the simplest and most straightforward plot of this episode: a dead man comes back to life.

Butch, real name Cyrus Gold, has been in a coma for six months, ever since Barbara shot him in the head. To free up some space, the hospital orderlies take him to a swamp pool and dump him in, with pleasure. He sinks into the pool, saturated with chemicals from Indian Hill, and soon rises again, transformed. He is a bit larger, and sturdier, and much stronger. And far less eloquent than he was before. He’s a blank slate, not knowing anything of his past, and his hand has apparently grown back.

He stumbles around, terrorizes some campers, and they happen to be listening to the Solomon Grundy song, so that becomes his name.

Grundy makes it into the city, and he runs into Nygma, who has now grown so mentally incompetent that he can’t even rob a pharmacy store without getting outwitted and beaten by the random pharmacist working there. Nygma calls him Butch and talks to him like he knows him, so Grundy assumes he does. He’s not entirely stupid, he’s just severely handicapped and limited in how well he can communicate now. He knocked Nygma out so he can question him later, which yields little in the way of answers. Grundy wants help, but Nygma can’t even help himself, so he just tries to get away.

Then the thugs from earlier return, and Grundy mows straight through them. The last one lights his hand on fire, though, and Grundy doesn’t know what to do about it. Nygma thinks quickly and finds water to pour on the fire, dousing it. And the unlikely partnership is formed, between two souls who don’t even know who they are anymore. Nygma’s plan is to use Grundy, entering him in a fight ring to earn money. Then they can use the money to fix Nygma and make him the Riddler again. And then, he promises, he can figure out what happened to turn Butch into Grundy.

Of course, he also lies, and tells Grundy that they were best friends before, and it’s not like Nygma is perfectly trustworthy anyway, but, then again, he might want to keep Grundy around and on his side. Either way, they are taking their first step forward.

Oh, and the fight ring has a doctor: a rather hard, callous, and drunken woman by the name of Leslie Thompkins.

…wait, what?! She’s back again? What is with this woman?

So, recap: Bruce killed Ra’s, which is what Ra’s wanted, Alfred is protecting the quest to save Gotham, Gordon is generally angry these days, Sofia is killing Penguin with kindness, Butch now Grundy and attached to Nygma who is no longer Riddler, and Thompkins is, once again, back, and running in an extremely different crowd from before.

I say again, “The heck was that?!”

And I almost forgot! It was just a quick moment, but Ra’s promised something to Barbara in exchange for her service. He invites her to his cell to say goodbye to her, and also to make good on that. He touches the glass, and she does too, and something, some brief, glowing light, passes between them. I’m wondering what the heck that was. Is it connected to Butch coming back as Grundy, or is it something separate?

One thing, especially, does not quite make sense. Ra’s is one of those characters who stands in defiance of death, but really quivers in fear of it, ready to sacrifice anything and anyone to stave it off. For him to be so eager to die, not to mention sharing something with Barbara, makes me suspicious. Have we really seen the last of him? Or will he rise again, sacrificing Barbara to do so? Hmmm.

Inhumans

1.5 “Something Inhuman This Way Comes”

You know, I’m reminded of something: Smallville was one of the single campiest shows in television history, and yet it ran for ten seasons and had a strong fan base, even when it managed to get even worse. I wonder what it says that we can endure and even love something so bad. LOL.

No idea why I just thought of that in relation to Inhumans. 😉

This week, the separate threads begin to come together again.

Finally reunited, Medusa and Black Bolt maintain as little distance between themselves as is absolutely possible. He wants to know what happened to her, and though she doesn’t want to talk about it, he insists. So she tells him, and Louise could easily be forgiven for mistaking her account as one of rape, which, really, it was a violation, albeit not of a sexual nature.

Echolocation-girl, apparently named Locus, interrupts by banging on hood of the trunk. She adapts quickly, I’ll give her that. She voluntarily directs her current keepers towards their nearest goal: Karnak. While they’re walking, they’re also talking, including a discussion about the flaws of Attilan’s society, where terrigenesis decides everything and nobody is free. It’s easy to resent the royal family, the people at the top who make the decisions and give the orders while everyone beneath them does the actual work. Locus just wants to be free, instead of being used as the “royal finder,” locating anything lost. But, ah, Medusa has a fair point too: they have always tried to do their best with the imperfect system they’re all trapped within, and what is Locus now if not Maximus’ “royal finder,” hmm? Her lot hasn’t actually changed at all.

Also, Bolt explains how he and Medusa fell in love, because they both understood loss, as both had lost their parents in close succession. That understanding brought them together. So, for all that Locus looks up and blames the royals for how bad things are, she fails to see that their lives aren’t so much better than hers.

Funny how that works.

Interesting detail: Medusa thinks that their people don’t understand because they don’t know Bolt like she does. She wants them to know him, and, really, they should, but I wonder what she’s referring to, exactly.

Oh, and Maximus calls Locus on her communication device, only to get Medusa instead. Maximus handles her threats fairly well, even assuring her that he’d never hurt Crystal, which, in fairness, he did not. But, through Medusa, Bolt gets the last word in. If he wasn’t angry enough before seeing Medusa shaved, he certainly is now, and he intends “to have words with Maximus.” Translation: “You’re a dead man, Maximus.” Maximus can handle Medusa, yes, but he withdraws from the conversation at that.

I admit, I liked that bit. (mwahahah)

Elsewhere, Karnak and his lady friend (I want to say her name was Jenna?), enjoy their “morning after” together, and it’s amusing and touching. Then they emerge to find the crazy guy pointing a loaded gun at them, and pulling the trigger. Karnak moves with “inhuman” speed, hitting the bullet precisely so it deflects. Shocking to see, but, small detail, it deflected into Jenna’s side. They run, and accidentally stumble into the mass grave that Crazy Man dug for them and the other guy. Ironically, it keeps them out of sight until their pursuer passes by, and then they’re able to keep fleeing for their lives.

While they’re gone, some dealers arrive. Crazy Guy made a deal on the side, and now that’s coming to fruition, this explains the timing of killing his partners. Unfortunately for him, the leader of the new bunch knows better than to trust a traitor. He intends to kill Karnak and Jenna, but first he kills Crazy Guy, dumping him in the same grave he dug for the others. Poetic.

Karnak and Jenna stop to rest and see to her injury once they get some distance. He’s able to remove the bullet from her side without doing further damage to her insides, and is improvising a suture before Jenna points him to her sewing kit, which is much more effective. They decide that the best course of action is to turn back towards the camp, the one place their pursuer won’t think to look for them, so Karnak can lie in wait to ambush him.

It’s a difficult decision for Karnak to make, because he is so accustomed to thinking things through all the way to the end before making the first move. Now that his injury keeps him from doing that, he is plagued by doubt, and finds it crippling. Jenna teaches him that he has to move despite the doubt. Like everyone else, he can only do the best he can, so he can’t afford to let doubt cripple him. Indeed, he should embrace the doubt, because it forces people to question things and find better ways. That lack of certainty is part of what it means to be human.

So, Karnak is learning to be more like Gorgon, moving according to the dictates of the moment, more fluidly than he has before. At the same time, Gorgon is learning to be more like Karnak, more carefully and quietly. Always before, the two men have been able to temper each others’ extremes, with Karnak thinking and Gorgon doing. But now Gorgon has been forced to do things differently, and Karnak has been shown another way. Both men are growing through their ordeals, and just in the nick of time.

Karnak holds his own against four brutes well enough, but as he and Jenna are retreating – stealing the truck might have been a better idea than running into the woods again – their leader, who wasn’t there because he was busy hunting Karnak and Jenna, hits Karnak from behind. They’re captured, and the torturous interrogation begins… just as Gorgon creeps up quietly to hit them all at once. It’s a happy reunion, with Gorgon glad that Karnak talks about him, but surprised to the point of worry by the change in Karnak, but then they’re fleeing again.

Seriously, they just clobbered the enemy again, and they flee? Why not tie them up or steal the truck or anything else, instead of fleeing on foot?

And the brutes get another drubbing with the arrival of Bolt, Medusa, Louise, and Locus. They don’t show that, but Gorgon, Karnak, and Jenna hear the gunfire, and then they all reunite. The royals are together again, all except for Crystal. (Louise likes the look of Gorgon!) Jenna tells them to go, and she’ll make an anonymous call to the cops, get the dealers and the product rounded up. Karnak doesn’t like leaving her, but she sends him on his own path, and it’s not like she was in love with him. She was just doing what she wanted and having a good time. But it clearly meant more to him.

Oh, and Locus has been shot. She was able to walk to lead Bolt and the others to the rest of their family, and no one realized it, but she was shot. And it was a fatal wound. With her last breath, she tells them Crystal in on the island, not in Attilan, and begs her king to be better, to be what his people need. And then she dies.

(campy, much?)

Speaking of Crystal, once Lockjaw recovers sufficiently, she goes searching around the island for her family. (teleporting dog: slight surprise for the vet girl) Her new, attractive, male friend accompanies her. They search everywhere, but no luck. So, end of the day, her new friend teaches her about hanging out, hanging loose, and having fun. Yeah, no chance of them hooking up in the near future. No chance at all. He’s only a studly specimen of a man who’s showing her much the same thing that Jenna showed Karnak, right?

Finally, back up in Attilan, Maximus is having some problems. His elite force has been pretty much neutralized, so he’s looking to conscript some others from the lower caste. His adviser… well, advises him that this may not go over well. Maximus responds with something less than understanding, saying he doesn’t need “friends” who always question his plans. But that’s exactly what he needs, people who will give him alternative perspectives to consider. We all need that. It was because Bolt did not listen to opposing perspectives that he was ousted mere days ago. And Maximus is waving what he has sacrificed, what he has lost, in his adviser’s face, as if that justifies the demand that others sacrifice as well. All that behavior can do is alienate anyone who supports him, and the dissension is growing.

The episode ends with Maximus’ adviser being confronted by three figures in cloaks and hoods, who want his help in opposing the false king.

Oh, and back down on Earth, Auran revives after being killed in the explosion, to find Decklan standing over her. She is shocked to learn that he works for Maximus, who wants that detail hidden from Decklan, but the man is starting to put things together when Auran drops his name. Mordis and plant-girl return soon with a prisoner, Bolt’s new friend from prison. He tried escaping, but in the middle of the jungle, any bonds he breaks can just be replaced. So, Auran has two hostages now, hoping to lure Bolt to them and overcome him. She doesn’t know that the royal family is almost completely reunited, so I doubt things will go according to her plan.

So, the royals are regrouping, Maximus is losing stability in both his standing and his mind, some incidental drug dealers took a beating, and Auran’s team is losing, while Crystal is learning about having fun. The contest is not over, and things look to be swinging back in Bolt’s favor.

It’s still pretty campy, but kind of in a fun way at this point, like Smallville.

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