This Week on TV, Feb. 3, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

Only two shows in my lineup this week.

Agents of Shield wrapped up the terrible-future arc as the agents fought to get back to the past/present.

And the newly-added Black Lightning delivered a powerful episode about the power, and danger, of hope.

So, a very good week! 🙂

Black Lightning

1.03 “LaWanda: The Book of Burial”

Hope is a fine thing. Indeed, hope is essential to the human condition, to life and living. But what if hope gets you killed? It would seem that the things we need most will often come at a high price, paid, at least partially, in blood.

Hope, it seems, can be a heavy burden indeed, all the more so for he who finds himself inspiring it.

Jeff finds himself bearing exactly that weight as his return, especially coupled with LaWanda’s self-sacrifice, lights a spark of willful rebellion and defiance against The 100. At LaWanda’s funeral, the pastor uses it as a venue to call for action, specifically a march in protest of the huge gang and their unfettered activities.

The crowd, including Jeff’s daughter Jennifer, is electrified and very much willing, which is a headache for other civic leaders like Jeff and Henderson, a school principal and a police official, respectively. The pastor does not much appreciate a lawman trying to convince him not to lead a march in protest of a gang that’s flourished because the law hasn’t done their job. Henderson responds with how the pastor is very well off in his church while Henderson is risking his life for little pay, working hard, and he’s the one cleaning up the mess of bodies left in The 100’s wake. As for Jeff, the pastor wonders if he cares about anything outside his school or his own family anymore, which Jeff does, but either way, he’s not out for his own glory here. He’s trying to help bring down the enemy that’s turned their community into a living nightmare, and for that, he’s willing to risk his own death.

Henderson rather thinks that’s likely, because suddenly rising up on the streets is just begging to be smacked back down, and it’s all because of Black Lightning. People are going to die because Black Lightning is back.

And it’s not like Henderson is advocating that they all keep their heads down like cowards. He just believes in doing things the right way, in accordance with the law. The people can protest all they like, but it won’t bring down the 100, not really. The law does that, and it needs evidence to operate. But at this point, he’s just hoping to protect the marchers, and even that doesn’t go as hoped, as orders from on high limit such protection to no more than one squad car. The 100 are so entrenched that they can actually do something like that. They own the cops either directly or by owning the people they answer to.

So! Jeff has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, he has Gambi helping him. They find out the march’s planned route, and redirect it with some “construction,” through some territory that Black Lightning can more easily watch over them from. Gambi also has a new bit of armor to help Jeff shoot thinner streams of electricity, more precise in a crowd and less taxing on his stamina. So, they’re working hard, but so’s the enemy.

Tobias, who has seemed to be the biggest enemy thus far, apparently has someone he answers to as well. Lady Eve, I think it was. She’s black and she knows her business. She has no qualms with preachers, believing that the good book keeps people in line more than it riles them up. What she misunderstands about that is how it helps people endure hellish times with patience and hope that is just waiting to be given an igniting spark. She is correct about what has sparked them this time, namely Black Lightning, so however Tobias’ protests that he killed the man years ago, that is a problem that must be dealt with.

For the moment, however, the priority is the march, and Gambi rather correctly assumes that the 100 aren’t interested in making a martyr out of the pastor, but in striking fear into the people’s hearts again by outright massacring the marchers. To which end, Tobias brings in some punk and forcibly recruits him to commit mass murder.

While all of this is going on, life is still continuing for Jeff’s family.

Anissa is becoming an absentee figure as her powers are awakening and she’s trying to understand them on her own. She’s getting a grasp on the physical aspect, using them at will by controlling her breathing, and she definitely packs a punch. While she’s looking into the why of things, like genetic mutation, she meets a very pretty girl named Grace and ends up going to a club with her in a catsuit. Her girlfriend stumbles onto that particular scene and they break up. Doesn’t take a genius to see where that’s going, but Anissa is also figuring out that the opportunity her powers present also come with the burden of secrecy.

So she’s letting someone in knowing she’ll have to keep her out at the same time. Now that’s going to get interesting.

As for Jennifer, she and her boyfriend Khalil are planning to take their new romantic relationship to the next level on Saturday, by going to a hotel and having sex. Apparently, they’ll be giving each other their virginity, which Khalil feels a little awkward about after having wanted to sound like he’d know what he was doing, but Jennifer is perfectly happy with. Oh, and they aren’t going to sneak around behind anyone’s backs, either. Khalil makes sure Jennifer informs her parents herself. Which she does at family dinner. Which shocks both of her parents, who, of course, want to talk her out of it, but she’s prepared with points of how she’s about as old as they were, and they didn’t wait for marriage either. So, she has an upper hand in terms of any argument they could come up with.

I am just going to say here: while Khalil and Jennifer get points for being upfront about it, I would have particular points of my own to raise were either of them my kids intent on this. Sex is a powerful thing, and all powerful things are to be handled with care. They just got together last episode, a few days earlier at most, and now they’re running straight to the bedroom? Slow down, people. Slow down. You don’t lose anything by waiting, and you just might appreciate it more, on so many levels, after taking your time to get there.

Of course, that would be what I’d say to one or the both of them, but fatherhood calls for a bit more than that. And Jeff delivers, as he corners Khalil at school, makes him very uncomfortable asking about his showering habits, and uses Khalil’s uncertainty to strongly suggests slowing down. That was just a great scene, and you could tell how satisfied Jeff was with himself after that. LOL!

But the day before the hotel rendezvous, there is the march, which Khalil, Jennifer, Anissa, and Lynn are all part of. As expected, the 100 makes their move, which Black Lightning blocks, saving lives. The crowd is awestruck, following the pastor as he sings “Amazing Grace,” and it seems the crisis is entirely averted. But Tobias is watching, with mounting anger and frustration as he beholds the man he killed standing and once again protecting innocent people, thwarting his plans. So he has his right hand woman take aim and shoot, meaning to kill Black Lightning again, permanently.

Instead, the bullet hits the pastor and blows straight through the man, on into Khalil. One bullet, to victims.

The pastor will be fine, but everyone is waiting anxiously on Khalil’s condition. While people are singing praises to Black Lightning for saving their lives, they learn that the bullet hit his spine. He may never walk again, which will be all the more bitter a pill to swallow because that was Khalil’s way out of the neighborhood, out of the nightmare. It was his dream, to use an athletic scholarship to get out and do something productive in the world, and to take Jennifer with him. All of that is gone now, in an instant.

It is a hard thing to be robbed of your sole and dearest hope for the future.

Lynn tries to ask Anissa what’s going on with her, and though she sees straight through the excuse about her girlfriend breaking up with her, she doesn’t press the issue. She just assures her daughter that she’ll be there when she’s ready to talk. That’s a keenly observant woman, there, but also patient and understanding.

Elsewhere, interesting, Gambi finds a video linking Tobias to the shooting… and he erases it, with a whispered apology to the absent Jeff. Now why did he do that? I can think of at least two reasons. Perhaps he wants to protect Jeff from himself, keep him from tearing off after the man who, when last they met, very nearly killed him, and thought he had. A more nefarious purpose, though, may be to keep Jeff in the fight by keeping knowledge of his old enemy from him for the time being. I am more inclined to believe the former, but I can’t dismiss something like the latter. Knowledge is power, after all, and Jeff ought to be made aware of who he’s dealing with, and thus what danger he is facing. He’s brave, but will usually listen to reason. Either way, Gambi just did a dangerous thing which will probably blow up in his face at some point.

Agents of Shield

5.10 “Past Life”

Now I’m actually of a mind to appreciate Inhumans a little, if only because it kept the two halves of this season closer together. If I’d had weeks or months to wait between the end of this episode and the beginning of the next, I’d have been just a little bit more inclined to murder whoever it was who’d made it that way. 😉

Ten episodes in, almost halfway through the season, and we finally reach the crescendo of this arc about the apocalyptic future.

Finding Sinara dead on what appears to be an otherwise-abandoned Zephyr, Kasius pretty much loses his mind. Whatever slender grasp he had on sanity before, it vanishes. As his efforts meet with greater and greater failure, he drives harder and harder, and his visions of grandeur escalate higher and higher.

As he keeps conversing with Sinara’s corpse, we learn that it was his father, Kasius the Elder (or whatever his name really is), who invaded the Earth all those years ago, back in the present which the agents are from. He and his family are clearly very powerful and formidable, but they are/were still shunned by those around them. Kasius’ father saw great potential in Earth, likely in the resurgence of Inhumans among the population at large. Whatever it was, he saw Earth as a blue gem unnoticed by most of the universe, so he made to take it.

Guess who stopped him?

No, apparently it wasn’t the Avengers. Which is disquieting, but somewhat to be expected since they’re broken after Civil War and about to get their tails handed to them in Infinity War. In lieu of the Avengers, the world needed the agents of Shield to save them. And they fought hard. But whatever happened on that pivotal day, and whatever led up to it, apparently both sides lost. Earth slowly broke apart, destroying the vast treasure the Kree warlord wanted to plunder, reducing it to a relative pittance, a sliver of what it once was, and same fate for all humanity. Soon enough it became evident that the surviving humans needed the Kree’s help, so they became a conquered people under Kasius’ boot. So, humanity wins the battle, but loses the war, while Kasius wins, but is robbed of almost everything he sought. Both sides lost.

…but, if Kasius, in this future, can keep the agents from returning to the past, then his father’s invasion will be a sweeping success, and they’ll have the entire glittering hoard of Earth and its people all to themselves. So, his singular mission is to accomplish this, to change the past within the future, and there is nothing he will not do.

Fortunately, there was already a small stumbling block thrown into his path by his seer. When the incoming agents eluded him on the Zephyr, it was partially due to a little misdirection. Once they were in, running loose and doing what they do best, it was practically over. The Kree might have been able to take them if they’d ever managed to get their hands on them properly, but the agents didn’t let that happen. They kept moving, focused on the mission, using every trick they could think of. One team rescued prisoners/Inhumans, while another focused on helping Flint reconstruct the monolith, another defended and operated the machine that activates said monolith, and Yo-Yo ran to save Kasius’ seer. If Kasius threw it at them, they met and obliterated it, shooting, decapitating, stabbing, throwing their enemies out into space.

And still they had time for humanity, heh. Like when Coulson stopped and told Tess about how he once was exactly where she is, having been killed and brought back with Kree blood. He’s able to give her some solace in that. Oh, and there’s when Simmons takes the time to pull that organism from another servant-girl’s ear, giving her back her sense of hearing. The sheer gratitude on the woman’s face. 🙂 And though the offer is refused, Mack extends an invitation to Flint, to come back to the past, knowing he’d always have a home with him and Yo-Yo. The world has ended, they’re fighting a war, and racing to get back to the past in time to fix it, but they’re still good people.

No, it’s not brute force that makes the agents falter, not even for a moment.

It’s their encounter with Kasius’ seer.

I figured it out right in the “last time on Agents of Shield” bit, when we saw the scene again of Kasius emerging from where he keeps his seer. It was the guy who looks like a torture-physician covered in blood that made me realize just how involuntary this seer’s service is, and my mind locked onto the most obvious possibility. More hints were dropped, of another Inhuman being brought back to life, screaming, of it being a woman, and someone who, knowing these events, lied to Kasius at a critical moment.

When Yo-Yo runs to rescue the seer, she literally meets herself. Her future self, that is.

When she stormed off to fight the Kree rather than forfeit humanity’s freedom, so long ago, she did it knowing she would die. Apparently, she also knew she’d be brought back to life again, and killed, and brought back, over and over and over. She held on, looking forward to this moment, when her younger self, still filled with hope, would come to her, and she would tell her what she could, and then it would finally end.

So, the agents make it back to the past, apparently, and fight the future they know is coming. But the more they fight, the closer it comes. The future Yo-Yo is filled with sorrow that she could not change people’s decisions, and those decisions actually cost Mack his life and destroy the world. It actually comes down to Coulson, not Daisy. He’s dying and he knows it – this confirms what was hinted at in last season’s finale, the reason why the Ghost Rider rode in Coulson’s body for a short time – and the team tries to save him. Something about this triggers the great destruction which follows.

Meanwhile, Coulson, who is sporting some blackening flesh right around where he was stabbed through he heart the first time he died, makes a decision that Daisy wouldn’t agree with. She wants to stay in the future, because if there’s even a chance that she really did destroy the world, then she has to avoid the past. If she stays, the world is safe, she thinks, but if she goes back, then even if they try to not use her power as Quake, sooner or later something will happen and they’ll resort to using it in extreme circumstance. No, Quake should be kept out of the past, so Daisy should stay in the future.

But Coulson is on his last legs as a leader, and he needs Daisy to lead when he’s gone. So he ices her and carries her to Flint’s monolith, dragging her to the past and taking the chance that she may never forgive him for it.

Once Flint, with Simmons’ capable guidance, is able to build a monolith for the team, all that’s left is for said team to gather together while Enoch activates it. But Yo-Yo isn’t there yet, slowed down by her encounter with herself. Mack races off to find her, not about to leave without her. He is met by Kasius, hopped up on this last-resort potion called odium, which floods the body with strength, saturates mind with aggression, and stifles the ability to feel pain. Apparently, it’s how his kind meet certain death: screaming and fighting and taking as many of the enemy with them as they can.

Kasius has Yo-Yo of the future, who no longer has her arms, in hand and cuts her throat in front of Mack. It’s a duel after that, an all-out fight for blood and death. Kasius has an advantage with the odium in his system, but Simmons gets the drop on him and introduces him to “silence.” Poetic, and distracting, letting Mack stab him straight through the heart from the back, which is also poetic. But despite his victory, Mack is broken by Yo-Yo’ death… until the current Yo-Yo comes into sight and embraces him.

And then it’s a race back to the monolith for the three of them, while the rest are waiting, and praying for every second of extra time. Which they need, and aren’t getting, because things went pear-shaped back on the Zephyr as well. The Kree found Enoch working, and though Deke raced back to help, he and the machine were both badly damaged. The machine needs a power source, then, and Enoch volunteers his own. It’s a desperate play, because it will result in Enoch’s death and an explosion that will destroy the machine and several levels of the Lighthouse, completely atomizing Deke as well, but it’s the only one they’ve got.

Deke and Daisy insulted each other to the very last, though Daisy was unconscious by the end so she couldn’t hear Deke’s last moments. Deke and Enoch were practically a study in contrasts, especially, but however much Deke moaned and groaned, he did what was necessary, and he died alongside Enoch activating the monolith.

The episode ends with the climactic moment, then a scene of Tess and Flint in the Trawler, looking at the remnant of Earth. Whatever happens in the past, in this version of the future, the agents came and taught humanity that they could stand tall again, and wiped out the occupying Kree force. That’ll still leave the entire empire of Kasius the Elder to tangle with, and I doubt he’ll be happy to learn of the deaths of his losses on Earth, but that’s a problem for another day. For now, humanity endures even through the end of the world, and Flint just might be able to rebuild a good portion of it. It won’t be anything like it was before, of course, and likely only advanced technology combined with sheer human willpower would be the only thing that carries the species forward, but it’s a start. Indeed, it’s a renewal.

As for the agents? …oooohhhh, I wonder if they all made it back? 😉

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