This Week on TV, Nov. 4, 2017

Spoiler Alert!

Not a bad week. Two out of three ain’t bad, unless you’re the third. 😉

The Gifted delivered another strong episode, one that developed relationships, showed the reunited Struckers becoming part of their new community, and touched in the pain which drives the antagonist.

Gotham showed the development of Bruce and Selina in their respective lives, but mostly drove us headlong through a powerful upset in the state of the city.

Inhumans had its best episode last week, I think, but they’re trying to both bring things together, complicate them, and leave in a spot where things can be wrapped up within one more episode next week.

The Gifted

1.05 “boXed in”

So, after SS’s debacle last episode, they are turning the heat way up on the Underground. HQ is practically flooded with their friends, seeking refuge, even before the rescue crew manages to get back, and the noose is tightening around them.

Polaris and Eclipse escape together, and they’re finally able to talk, to admit out loud that they’re having a baby, and they love it! They’re already coming up with baby names: Aurora for a girl… and Rory for a boy, maybe? They find their path blocked by SS, none other than Turner himself barring their way. But, fortunately, most of his backup hasn’t arrived, and Polaris is easily able to deal with them. She also takes Turner hostage, to interrogate him about Pulse suddenly working against his best friends back during the rescue.

Turner tries to avoid answering any questions, make it seem like nothing’s out of the ordinary, really, but it’s a paper-thin lie. So they call memory-girl, who arrives via Blink. As SS is closing in, she’s able to access Turner’s mind and get a few pieces of information, something about “Hound,” which explains the tattoo on Pulse’s arm. A lot of it is jumbled in pieces and very incomplete, but SS is definitely turning mutants in their secret prisons.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to finish the job, as SS was storming the place, so not only is the information incomplete, but they leave Turner’s head so jumbled that he no longer remembers his daughter’s death in the July incident four years ago. Apparently, it began as a peaceful protest for mutant rights, but someone – and I highly doubt this was accidental – did something stupid and it turned into a full-fledged riot. Turner’s daughter just happened to be in the path of a particular blast. And now he and his wife have to relive that agony all over again when he returns home that night.

Back at HQ, Blink confronts memory-girl about what she did, implanting a memory that isn’t even hers, one where she remembers loving a man who does not love her and never has. Blink is more than justified in her outrage, and when memory-girl offers to take the memory away, Blink responds by telling her to stay away from her. I’d probably do the same, keep the memory as a reminder of what a supposed friend can, and did, do.

Also back at HQ, Reed’s arrival makes the Struckers the center of attention. The bartender he betrayed is not quick to forgive, but he is forgetting that the last he saw of Reed, the man was putting himself between SS and him. Cait is horrified and Reed can explain but not really defend his mistake, but he takes responsibility and intends to make up for it. To wit, he helps decode what SS is really saying and offers himself as a decoy to draw them in the wrong direction. As it happens, invisible bartender is assigned to get him in and out of that particular situation, and he very nearly lets the man get caught again, “to make sure which side he’s on.” But it’s a smashing success and Reed has proven himself.

As for the rest of the Struckers, Cait, Andy, and Lauren are the object of much scrutiny as they try to save the life of their friend, the one who was shot during the rescue. It’s an uphill battle, though. Cait can’t stop the bleeding, so Andy pops open his own vein and donates some of his blood. Cait has no choice but to remove the bullet, but nicks an artery doing so. Lauren is able to use her powers to plug the artery long enough for Cait to patch it up. And it works, one life saved, with everyone watching.

As the Underground is recovering, sharing info, and laying low, the Struckers are reunited again, and they discuss the future. This is a rather significant point. Up till now, they’ve just been doing what they had to in order to get back together again, and all of it was just a distraction from their true goal of getting to safety in Mexico. But plans change, and after everything they’ve been through, they have a choice to make. A real, clear choice. They can’t flee right now, but when they can, they might not. Reed has sins to atone for, the people who have sheltered them need all the help they can get… and, as long as the Struckers are together as a family, that’s what’s most important.

So, it looks like the Struckers will be looking to sign up with the Underground all the way. It’ll be dangerous, and difficult, but it’s the right thing for them to do.

Gotham

4.07 “A Day in the Narrows”

And so the wheel turns, round and round, up and down, and everybody on it gets taken for a ride.

By which I mean, fortunes and positions can be reversed very quickly. Penguin has been at the top and the GCPD has been at the bottom, but that is changing. That makes up the meat of this episode, but I’ll comment on that last. First, the other two stages: one for Bruce and one for Selina.

Bruce is numb with anger after the entire ordeal with Ra’s. He’s going through the motions, including hosting a charity benefit, but he’s not really partaking in the process, and his temper is on a hair trigger. Then, to the brooding young boy as he feels lost in rage, comes a young, attractive girl who offers a distraction. Her name is Grace, and they went to school together. She expresses her boredom, he responds, so they ditch the benefit and head to a friend’s place.

Here, Bruce meets a boy he once pulverized back in the first season, but bygones are bygones. They both have girls with them, and the third boy in this party is a bit of a jerk. The jerk takes them out to a club, hoping to enter because he’s rich, and to heck with being vastly underage. The bouncer doesn’t let them in though, until Bruce works his magic and is now the owner of the establishment. He lets everyone in except the jerk, and they proceed to drink and dance and kiss. It’s something new and different and something other than the pain he’s feeling, so Bruce is wanting to try out this side of himself. He’s running and hiding from the truth and the hurt, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do before.

I am going to be honest, I never thought they’d do a version of Bruce Wayne that had a reputation as a billionaire playboy because he actually was one as a teenager. I don’t really like it, but they’ve done all sorts of things with the origins of Batman in this show, so what’s one more at this point?

As for Selina, she is finding her dreams dashed in one fell swoop. With Ra’s dead, Barbara’s venture has lost its bankroll, so she’s keen on pulling the plug and walking away, alone. Tabitha is upset and Selina is beyond that. To try and prove that they can still do it, so she can have a purpose, Selina goes and robs a biker gang. This goes immediately south as she sets off an alarm and the guy who happened to be nearest to the cash is promptly murdered by the rest. That’s just a little bit extreme for Selina, ya know?

Somehow unable to sneak out like she always has (yeah, they were reaching on this one) as the three remaining gangsters call for backup in the form of two more gangsters (really reaching), Selina calls Tabitha for help. Tabitha has a row with Barbara about it before going and arriving just before the extra gangsters. Tabitha is ready to draw their fire so Selina can escape, but Selina is loyal, she’s not running out on Tabitha within the same moment Tabitha came to rescue her. So, whatever they do, they do it together.

That turns out to be “kill the gangsters” as Barbara enters the scene and gets the drop on them from behind, leaving the whip-wielding duo to attack the moment they turn their backs. Barbara claims her cut of the cash, and announces that they’re not breaking up. They’re still in business together, a trio of badass, dangerous women stepping onto the stage just as the city’s power structure gets a huge upset.

Speaking of which, now for Gordon’s “day in the Narrows.”

At first, it seems Gordon’s hopes for saving the city from the cancerous Pax Penguina are doomed to be in vain.

With the city reeling from the advent of Professor Pyg, which only gets worse as he has forty-four pig heads (we probably know the fates of all those pigs we saw at the end of last episode) delivered to the GCPD, one for every cop, dirty or not, in the precinct, with the sole exception of Jim Gordon, this is when Penguin chooses to make a move. He comes strutting in, as much as one can strut with his limp, and effectively takes over. He has his men, under the temporary leadership of a duel-wielding thug named Headhunter (Zasz is out of town for the moment), work alongside the GCPD, which he mostly owns these days. Gordon is adamantly against it, but Bullock is already on board. They’re stretched thin, even thinner after a number of cops flee due to the massive pig-head delivery, so they need bodies, and Bullock has no problem using thugs as human shields for his officers.

That goes about as well as one might imagine. If the cops are brutal, the criminals are even worse.

They hear that three more officers have been taken, straight out of the Narrows, which is the single worst spot in the entire city. It’s the poorest of the poor and highly unfriendly to cops, probably because they run a protection ring in the area. So, they get a most unfriendly welcome, not at all lessened by their partnership with the criminals. They storm a building in force, looking for an eyewitness account, beating everyone down. Gordon has his hands full just trying to keep it in check as much as he can, but he’s only one man, trying to restrain armed comrades who are afraid, angry, or even, in Headhunter’s case, having fun.

He still talks to a woman he thinks saw something, and he’s gaining ground with her when Headhunter storms in and expedites the interrogation by dragging a man out of his chair, away from the oxygen he’s on, all the way out into the streets, and threatens more if they don’t get answers. Gordon doesn’t tolerate that, drawing on Headhunter and the goons, who draw on him. The officers at least have Gordon’s back this time, but it’s going south fast even as Bullock tries to calm things down. It only ends when the woman tells them what she knows, about Pyg driving a hearse and the direction he went.

Headhunter calls it “good cop, bad cop,” and good work. Gordon is disgusted, as well he should be. There are things you just should not do, no matter the goal. Things like beating innocent people down, storming a building full of unarmed civilians, and tormenting a fragile old man in front of his loved ones. Things are so very bad in Gotham, it’s easy to see why someone would break, a fact which Gordon knows all too well.

They arrive in time to find one dead cop, and one badly wounded, the third remaining unaccounted for. Everyone is giving themselves a premature pat on the back, especially Penguin. In his case, though, Sofia is raining on his parade by not excitedly congratulating him. No, when he presses her for her opinion, she explains that her father never allied with the GCPD because they’ll eventually fail, and the more one plays up any connection with them, the more that failure spills over onto oneself. Penguin responds to being told not to do something like any rebellious teenager does: by doing it more. He goes on camera taking credit for the partnership and it’s fruitful results.

Gordon is able to talk with the cop they rescued, and he’s barely able to hold it together, both from the trauma of his injuries and the weight of his guilt working for Penguin. It started so small at first. Oh, why is the Pyg doing this, he moans? Gordon responds that he’s insane, but even more, he just reached a breaking point. Gordon is able to empathize both with the officer’s guilt and with the strain on the city which created Pyg. The rot is everywhere, high and low. But he’s going to do something about it, by taking down Pyg, Pax Penguina, and all the dirty cops. This is their chance to make things right, so he ask the officer for help. And the officer remembers something which leads Gordon to an abandoned court house.

He gets there barely ahead of Headhunter and all the rest. He notified Bullock and Bullock notified everyone else, so now they think they have the Pyg trapped inside, which Penguin is boasting about. But as they prepare to storm the place, Gordon gets a call, the Pyg revealing he was in disguise as a wounded officer and led Gordon there so he’d lead everyone else there. He’s making a new city and a new Gordon… which is why he doesn’t want Gordon going into the court house. Gordon tries to convince Penguin and Bullock it’s a trap, but they don’t listen. Penguin is drunk on his power and reckless, and Bullock thinks they have Pyg (the man who cut his throat) dead to rights inside and wants to save the last kidnapped officer. So if it’s a trap, they’ll just use the thugs as cannon fodder, much to Gordon’s horror.

Tempers flare, Bullock orders Gordon to stand down and leads the charge inside. They find Pyg with a raised blade over a bound officer, and Bullock shoots… only to realize that the Pyg disguised the officer as himself and used a dummy in place of her. It is a setup, and almost everyone is mowed down immediately by a pair of gatling guns at either end of the room. It’s a slaughterhouse, barely a handful of initial survivors cowering low behind cover, the last few fish in the barrel.

Everyone outside hear the gunfire and realizes things must have gone wrong. Penguin orders his remaining men inside, but, being criminals, not officers sworn to protect and serve, they refuse. They’re not going to risk themselves for others. But Gordon will. He takes one of the bigger guns and runs in alone, taking out one gun, braving gunfire to get Headhunter out of the line of fire, then taking out the other one.

Jim Gordon, hero of the day.

Penguin is left trying to backpedal and shift blame, saying he didn’t order anyone in when he very much did. He’s so angry that when Headhunter admits Gordon was right, Penguin simply kills him. Shame, he could have been a very interesting character. When the media surrounds Gordon, asking where he found the courage to run inside and save his comrades, he only says to Pyg, in front of the entire city, that the GCPD will stop him. He eschews the fame and gets back to work. The officer Bullock shot should be fine, but Bullock is suffering. He handled everything wrong, and now he’s just a cop who shot another cop. He retreats to the drink. And as for Pyg, who is also a master of disguise, he calls Gordon and says he’s making new plans to combat the rot in Gotham. It will be like art, and Gordon is his muse.

The next day marks a visible change. When a licensed thief is brought in, they simply ignore the license. They’re done with that. They threw in with Penguin once, and look what that got them: defamation, death, forced to work alongside criminals who looked out for themselves first. It’s a simple fact, most people will side with the man who’d brave a storm of bullets for them, rather than the lowlife who threw them into danger and failed to save them.

The GCPD has been ground into the dirt and made to stay there, but now, at last, they begin to rise again. The Pax Penguina ends.

So, Pyg pretty much won the day, and he’s just getting started. Gordon is determined to move forward, and his comrades are following him now, which they’ll really need now that their captain’s spirit is fallen low. Penguin has undermined himself and hurt his own empire, and in such a way that Sofia Falcone was proven right in her counsel. The siren trio of Selina, Tabitha, and Barbara is actually finding their center and continuing without Ra’s al’Ghul’s puppet strings directing them, and you know they’ll be making the most of this upset. And Bruce… is descending into debauchery to avoid the real issue which is haunting him.

All in all, a very intense, unexpected episode.

Inhumans

1.07 “Havoc in the Hidden Land”

One step forward, two steps back.

Picking up on the heels of last episode, Auran and all of her people, Decklan included, are fleeing some angry royals. …despite how the royals already beat them and had them tied up at the end of last episode, and how they just rescued Decklan… ok, not a particularly well-crafted segue, is it? Anyway, Decklan is able to explain what he’s trying to do, understand and replicate the process of terrigenesis, so the royals assume that this is true reason Maximus deposed them. I’d have said that was inaccurate, but maybe not. Either way, they’re still hitting close to the mark with what’s happened since, with the fate of the Genetic Council.

Now that they’re all together again, the royals need to decide on what to do, and they find themselves a bit divided. So soon after the death of his best friend Gorgon, Karnak wants to simply kill Maximus. Medusa is against it, wanting to avoid bloody vengeance now. Bolt is forming a plan, and, in fact, he already had one in place. He takes them to a spot on the beach, and Triton shows up, alive, at the secret rendezvous he and Bolt had arranged for so Maximus would think his plan was working. Which is ridiculous because if Bolt knew about Maximus’ plan, why not stop it stop it beforehand?

The other royals, especially Medusa, are a little upset about Bolt keeping secrets. Not only about Triton, but apparently there is a royal bunker, a secret hideaway in Attilan for just such occasions as their present circumstances. Medusa was basically violated when Maximus cut her hair, and now to find that Bolt knew something was up? Even more, to be cut out of the loop? To be his queen, but functioning more as his interpreter than his partner? She’s right, it’s insulting. But, then again, the best way to keep a secret is for only one person to know about it.

Bolt has Crystal and Lockjaw return Auran’s team to Maximus, complete with her temporarily-dead body, delivering news of Gorgon’s death and demanding a parley, which Maximus agrees to. The royals come with Decklan in tow, giving him back to Maximus in exchange for an oath that Bolt will rule again. Maximus agrees just long enough to get what he wants and then immediately refuses his part of the bargain. The two sides part with a promise of death when next they meet, and Bolt has already set the gears in motion.

Medusa is able to provide a perspective on that meeting, one where her first meeting with Bolt is a reference. She actually entered his chamber wanting to gloat about his pain, so soon after losing her own parents, but then she saw in his eyes that they were the same. Bolt was not as irredeemable as she had thought, and knowing the same pain allowed them to bond. That’s what she saw at the parley, two people suffering the same pain. Unfortunately, that is not enough to make peace.

While the two kings work against each other, Karnak gets familiar with Decklan’s work. He finds a flaw, one he is happy to let Maximus learn about the hard way, but one he makes to address and correct, hoping to bring back Gorgon. Bolt refuses the idea, as the stories they’ve heard speak of madness, addiction, and death, and though the latter already applies to Gorgon, how much of a favor would it be to bring him back if he was rendered insane by it? But Karnak does it anyway, uncertain though it may be, and goes to Auran for help. He takes out her guards and reaches out to her more as a friend (who just snapped her neck earlier), and she responds in kind. Together, they get Gorgon’s body into a terrigenesis chamber, add her DNA into him, and let the process do its work. But Gorgon doesn’t wake up, leaving Auran to face the reality of her inevitable death. Oh, and someone’s coming, so they need to flee now, leaving the body behind.

Maximus is on the brink of victory, he thinks, ready to enter the chamber a second time and become the most powerful of all Inhumans. That mood sours a little when he finds Gorgon’s body in a neighboring chamber. It’s soured even more as the city begins to fall apart beneath him, things like power and plumbing shutting down, the maintenance crews having all been drafted into the guards. Chaos is rising, and Maximus is on his way to deal with the crisis when Triton attacks from behind, quietly taking out three out of six guards before they even realize what’s happening, then taking out the last three in a straight-up fight, then beating Maximus down and taking him to the secret bunker to face Black Bolt.

But Maximus says he has a safeguard in place, just in case: if Bolt kills him, the atmospheric shell around Attilan falls apart and everyone becomes space debris within moments. It’s a smart, if also evil, play, to use everyone in Attilan as a human shield. Even if he’s bluffing, can Bolt really take that chance? So, it’s not checkmate just yet.

I’m thinking, simple solution: take Attilan back to Earth. Voila, no space-debris people.

Oh, and Decklan, still in the terrigenesis hall, is faced with a resurrected Gorgon who seems to have become wild and savage. The super-strong walking force of destruction does not have his mind anymore, in a city on the moon. Yeah, that’s bad.

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