An excellent week this week, I must say! 🙂
Last week was completely empty, not one show in either my official or unofficial lineup aired, but this week, with the conclusion of the Olympics, Black Lightning, Gotham, and Agents of Shield all came back with a vengeance, and it was great fun! 😀
Lots of tragedy, mind you, but still, great entertainment. (I say that knowing that none of it is real, of course, because if it were real, there would be nothing entertaining about it, I’m not that crazy!)
1.06 “Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder”
If Jeff did not have Gambi, Black Lightning would be toast right now. Pulverized toast.
The guy he assaulted at the end of last episode, Joey Toledo, limps back to Tobias after calling the crooked cops to pick Black Lighting up. That last part tempers Tobias’ anger at his minion’s incompetence, and he’s keen on making a visit to the holding cells that night, so Black Lightning would never see another sunrise. But Gambi arrives on the scene first and gets Jeff to safety, and Lynn’s capable medical hands. Even better, the only witnesses to Gambi’s rescue of Black Lightning were fans of his, so the cops, and Tobias, got nothing, no trail to follow.
Henderson is starting to have his suspicions, I think. I mean, between Lala’s death, the lack of proper protection at the march, and now this “anonymous tip” about Black Lightning, he’d be an idiot if he didn’t smell the stench of corruption yet.
With Jeff functioning again and Gambi fixing the problem, which apparently was caused by neurological feedback resulting from resistance in the suit because of the new flight feature, he’s ready to keep going after Tobias. Even more than that, he’s ready to kill Tobias, a very long overdue comeuppance for the murder of his father. It would seem that Gambi is trying to protect him from the psychological fallout of that decision, the personal cost that committing murder demands of the soul.
I can’t claim to be any kind of expert on that sort of thing, but it seems to me that taking a life will always tax the soul in some way. Even if one evades the guilt, even if it’s completely justified and unavoidable, there is something lost in the act, some tiny piece of humanity which can never be fully recovered. On some level, we recognize that this monster is still a human, still like us, still one of us. So, while I’m a bit on Jeff’s side, that Tobias needs to be put down, I also follow what Gambi is saying, that it will break Jeff in some irreversible way. This is one reason why we need to avoid revenge, because it’s too personal and too costly. It just doesn’t work the way we want it to.
This is why an ideal justice system is impartial, rather than driven by rage. Anger, even well-founded, is destructive to everyone caught in its path, which is not limited to the guilty.
Even Jeff, normally so careful and motivated to protect others, is putting innocents at risk. He manages to find Tobias’ doctor, a dermatologist, who lives in fear of Tobias and his entourage going after his family. But Jeff pushes forward like a bull, not sparing much time to think about the danger he’s putting an honest man and his loved ones in. He has the doctor call Tobias under some excuse, redoing a test from his last visit. That gives Jeff an opening to take him out with a ball of lightning, like the wrath of God himself, death from above.
Gambi’s desperation to save Jeff grows that he actually turns to Lynn for help. Lynn has already told Jeff that she can’t keep living like this, watching him get hurt and patching him up, so when Gambi comes to her to try and cool Jeff’s rage, she turns him down flat. But then she has a talk with Anissa, who inadvertently gets her to see that she just didn’t like coming in second to Jeff’s desire to save the world. Understandable, but a bit less self-flattering than what Lynn’s been saying so far. So, she answers Gambi’s final call for help, and at the moment of truth, talks Jeff out of going through with it, s he can stay a hero to the community and their daughters. They need him to stay a hero. Not a killer.
Personally, I’d have just nuked Tobias. Or, rather, I’d have followed him back to his hiding place, waited a few days, and then nuked him. I mean, better than leaving an obvious connection with the dermatologist, just in case there’s either failure or some sort of reprisals involve. But, short of that, being able to keep an eye on him and monitor his behavior, discover his connections, that would be better than just letting Tobias go. Perhaps that, surveillance, is what Jeff would have done if not for the commotion at Lynn’s lab right when she was calling him: someone breaks in. And Jeff is off and running to come save her, and to Hell with revenge or anything else.
What he walks into a little more complicated than it looks.
Anissa gets into trouble with the cops again when she, like a good, little SJW, defaces a Confederate monument because “it insults black people.” (I am determined to keep politics off my blog, but the CW sometimes makes that very difficult with its obvious leaning to the Left) This quickly escalates to the point that “white nationalists” engage a counter protest, violence erupts when the other side hits first, and someone drives a car to kill a young woman. (reflecting one side of life, much?)
Feeling frustrated and angry, Anissa dresses up in her Thunder outfit and simply shatters the statue completely that evening. Because she obviously hasn’t learned much about unintended consequences yet. Girl dead because of violence at a protest that she started? Boys nearly killed the first time she uses her powers on other people? Nope, apparently these did not register. Collateral damage from her cavalier destruction of a historical monument, now, this freaks her out. So she runs to her mom, who she finds under attack.
Lynn has been doing research, it seems. Whether Tobias’ masters somehow magically heard about the files Anissa dropped off about the super-powered kids, or if her colleague tipped them about Lynn’s interest in the Green Light drug, which seems to have a neural effect similar to Jeff’s own brain, either way, they send a crew to steal her files. They didn’t know she’d be there at the time, which screams something about poor surveillance, but Anissa arrives in time to send them packing.
And then Jeff arrives in time to misinterpret the situation and attack Anissa, who stupidly does not clarify the situation, and they fight. It’s a pretty close fight, actually, though Jeff emerges as the clear victor. Only to realize, to his horror, that he just totaled his own daughter. There are very few options left at that point, so when Anissa wakes up, it’s to find that her father is Black Lightning.
I’ve been talking as if Gambi’s stated reasoning were his actual reasoning, which, I hope it is, but as I know he keeps secrets, I have to wonder. One secret which is revealed to the audience is another clear connection with the enemy. Lady Eve is named Evelyn, and he was once her teacher. She left the agency they were both working for, which explains the connections between the two which I noticed last episode. She went into business for herself, and he “retired.”
He pays his former protege a visit after the debacle at Lynn’s lab. They have a deal, it seems, where the Pierce family is off limits. In exchange, Gambi doesn’t out Tobias, perhaps among other things. He talks like he’s protecting Jeff and the others, but there’s something about his own dirty laundry in this, and I wonder about the connection between him and Jeff. Did he have something to do with the night Tobias murdered his father? Maybe he took Jeff under his wing as some means of atonement?
Finally, there’s Jennifer, who is upset that Khalil is basically shutting her out. She doesn’t much care about the video her enemy at school posted nearly as much as does about how Khalil can apparently post comments on Facebook but is refusing to talk to her. She’s feeling guilty about considering breaking up with him – who wants to be that girl who’s with a guy until he gets crippled and then dumps him? – and she’s upset that he’s pulling away from her. So maybe they need a break.
And that’s not remotely the worst of it.
While it’s perfectly understandable for Khalil to be raging and blaming and shutting himself off, it’s a tragedy of epic proportions that not only is he listening to the poison Tobias is pouring in his ear, but he’s actually joining up with him. Tobias wants to put him through a process, probably involving the experimental serum, which will make him walk again, and give him super-powers. The same people who Khalil doesn’t know shot him are now promising him power. The girl, whatever her name is, swears that it works, the power is real, and he’ll love it.
What’s her power, I wonder?
So, we have father and daughter learning each others’ secrets (cat’s out of the bag!) while also learning a bit about impulse control in the face of injustice, Gambi running around keeping secrets and trying to protect Jeff from a woman he helped create while using Black Lightning to clean up a mess he has permitted, everyone in the dark edging closer to the truth, and a young man falling into darkness amidst his personal drama, to be used by his enemies to kill the father of the girl he loves. Convoluted enough, ya think?
4.12 “Pieces of a Broken Mirror”
Small box, lots of moving pieces.
In one cross-section of the Narrows, within mere feet of each other, we have Gordon, Alfred, Lee, and Ivy. Gordon is looking for Bullock in a… was that a BDSM sex house? Anyway, he’s not there. Alfred lives in the area now, since Bruce fired him, and he’s just going about his day when some envious thugs try to mug him. You can guess how well that goes, but Gordon is passing by and diffuses the situation at gunpoint. Ivy is in the building behind them, waking up from inside a cocoon in the Chinese drug store, just in time to surprise some thieving druggies and kill the nearest with just a touch of her hand, part of another new body (what, is she Doctor Who?). And one floor up is a gathering of Narrows citizens listening to Lee, the Doc, in company of Nygma and Grundy, as she talks to them about how they need to stop stealing from each other and work together in order to improve the community, and thus improve their own lives and that of their children.
Then a little man sets a toy plane in flight with a bomb attached, aiming for Lee. Grundy knocks it away, but the explosion still rocks the building, surprising Gordon and Alfred outside, who rush in to get people out just as Nygma is getting Lee out the other entrance, missing each other by seconds, and Ivy walks out of the smoking ruin pretty much without a care.
Ivy’s path takes her on a stroll around town as her senses come back. She sees plants dying in the city. She seems some rich locals leaving on vacation or something and makes use of their home and the lady’s dresses while they’re gone. The fridge is full of vegetables, which she doesn’t much like, but she finds something to eat and turns on the TV. Just in time to see the commercial for the reopening of the Sirens’ club. (Selina clearly hates it) And Ivy recalls them, and how much she hates them. So, she goes down to the club.
Barbara is loving it, Tabitha accepts it but warns that she’s not getting dressed up like that again, and Selina is pretty depressed by the form her success has taken. She also doesn’t appreciate having to tell Bruce to keep the disruption that he and his girls are making to a minimum. Yeah, she sees straight through the facade he’s put up, including the part where he fired Alfred. What’s he trying to prove with that, hm?
Ivy makes a small scene, with her two suitors throwing punches at each other, attracting attention. Selina is the one to recognize her, following her back to her current lair. Ivy noticed her, and probably wanted her to follow. She talks about how she’s been reborn, how she’s powerful now, and how she’s not crazy – yeah, like that was convincing – and gives Selina a demonstration. She scratches her.
When Fox and his colleague at the GCPD morgue were examining Ivy’s druggie victim, they found that while the boy was dead, his remains were already being used as fertilizer. The compound introduced to his system killed him and quickly grew, spreading through his deceased system as a plant, poison ivy. One incision down the chest, and the ivy sprouts upward in full bloom.
That is what Ivy just introduced into Selina’s system. She had an antidote to the toxin ready, gave it to Selina to drink. It was just a demonstration. Now that she is arrived as Poison Ivy, fully-fledged, Ivy offers to take care of Selina the way Selina has taken care of her for all these years.
So, Selina has a super-powered friend now, but that friend is crazy and homicidal. Hm. This is not good for one’s health, ya know?
Over in Alfred’s corner of the story, he receives a hero’s welcome at the cafe he frequents, including a humble acknowledgment from the guy who tried to mug him earlier. As envious as he was of Alfred, the man realizes that he’s far less brave than Alfred too. It’s a good sign that he stands up straighter for it as a man. But as they’re sharing a toast, Alfred notices the waitress – Tiffany, I think it was – has a bruise on her head. She passes it off as having slipped and hit her head, but his suspicions are substantially aroused.
Alfred is walking her home that night, sharing a lot about his history with her, when her boyfriend shows up. He’s pretty stereotypical in his bad boy appearance, mentions she didn’t answer her phone and he came to pick her up. He has a pretty smug, superior attitude, but nothing that screamed to me about a confirmation of Alfred’s suspicions. His reaction seemed a bit much, practically assaulting the man out of nowhere, but it worked: the man assumed that his girl had tattled and talked about punishing her for it. So Alfred was right.
But here’s the thing about abusive relationships: they can only continue with the permission of the abused. The tragedy is that so many victims feel that there isn’t any way out, so the best they can do is keep their heads down and not agitate their abuser any further. Don’t make them angry, that’s the best they can hope for. But in so many cases, it’s just a matter of time.
Alfred urges his new friend to be safe, and that is the last time he sees her alive. Her boyfriend beats her to death almost immediately, and he does so while wearing Alfred’s signet ring, which fell to the ground during the earlier scuffle and he snatched up. Toss in an alibi, where Alfred has none, and he has a semi-workable frame job going. Gordon and Harper have to interrogate Alfred and take him in, but Alfred slips away first, despite Gordon’s assurance that he’ll be brought in too. Heck, I imagine they’d find the man’s fingerprints on Alfred’s ring too, but that’s not an immediate thing, and Alfred very much wants justice immediately.
Alfred finds him in a bar with a couple of his buddies. He makes a good accounting of himself, but he’s quickly outnumbered, on the point of being overwhelmed, when a friend with a bat makes his presence known: Bullock. Of all the bars in the world, Alfred finds the murderous scum he is pursuing at the bar Bullock works at. So, that’s what he did after leaving turning in his badge and gun. Good thing, I think, what with his serendipitous assistance. He also breaks the murderer’s alibi by waving a bat at the buddy vouching for him. Justice is served.
And Alfred even has a friend on hand to share a drink with, in honor of a beautiful, kind, nice woman who was murdered.
That’s when Gordon makes his entry, just after the impromptu toast. He wants Bullock back, says he misses him. Bullock responds with some truth. Most of his time was spent trying to talk Gordon out of doing something stupid and dangerous that he did anyway. He was also Gordon’s confidante, sharing all of his secrets, and now that he sees Gordon again, he sees he has something heavy on his soul. He’s not good at keeping secrets, he always needs to get it off his chest. So, what Gordon misses isn’t his partner, it’s his pseudo-priest who he could make confessions to. Well, Bullock isn’t interested in filling that role again, so he won’t be taking the badge back.
It’s the end of a long, disappointing day for Gordon.
After the failed bombing, Gordon searches for the culprit and the target at the same time. He and Fox follow a lead to a toy maker’s shop, which is quickly confirmed as the residence of the bomber when, instead of talking to the cops, the man panics and sets more lethal toys on them. He gets away, but the man’s son reveals that he overheard his father talking to someone, mentioning “the Doc.”
He goes to Barbara looking for the Doc, thoroughly amusing the woman as she directs him to Cherry’s, only to find Nygma giving a grand introduction for Lee to address the crowd. She riles them up with talk of how whoever is after her must be afraid of a united Narrows, because that is a strong Narrows, a Narrows which can have the things they and their children deserve. After her speech, she talks with Gordon for a bit before they part ways.
But it’s Nygma who sees the toy man and pursues him into a neighboring alley. He has been livid all day long, wanting to find whoever tried to kill Lee and destroy them. But the toy man…
ADD Moment: yes, that is so Gotham, and it’s sad to see how far the city has fallen from the days where the balloon man was considered a freak of nature.
…the toy man reveals how it was the Riddler who hired him to kill Lee because she’s holding him back. Nygma is horrified, and beholds his reflection, the Riddler, laughing at him in triumphant return. Gordon happens on the scene and shoots the toy man. And here’s where Nygma could have done the right thing, but was too scared and selfish. He just learned that his alter-ego has grown strong enough to threaten Lee, who he just said he wants to protect, and destroy her enemies. But he hides the truth, saying the toy man was a lone wolf.
He just left Lee in grave danger, knowingly, to preserve himself.
So, Poison Ivy has arrived and attached herself to Selina, who is successful but unhappy, Bruce is wrapped up in his own drunken facade, Alfred saved people from a bombed building but failed to save a new friend of his and only managed to bring her killer justice, Bullock is a bartender again and has turned his back on Gordon, Gordon is doing his job and behaving like a pretty decent human being but he’s burdened by his dishonor (and ignoring Sofia’s calls), Lee the Doc is uniting the Narrows but has a lethal enemy emerging from within her trusted friend who just betrayed her to save himself… oh, and Butch has returned, albeit with a new Grundy body, and made himself known to Tabitha, who can’t seem to entirely reciprocate his feelings for her.
Did I miss anything?
And this is everyday life in Gotham now.
5.11 “All the Comforts of Home”
I seem to say this a lot: wow.
As terrible as the future was, it would seem that was the frying pan, and the agents are now entering the fire.
The episode begins with that general woman, I think I heard her name was Hale, having a talk with her daughter, Ruby. Seems like a typical conversation between parent and child, which is all the more harrowing with the big reveal at the end. But we’ll get to that in due time.
First order of business: the agents make it back to the present! All of them! They’re still in the Lighthouse, but that’s what the monolith does: it transports through time more than space. It’s a huge relief for everyone, making it back, and they even manage to get some answers about the Lighthouse itself. A recording of a previous Director of Shield, or some other high-ranking agent, begins appearing on various walls, talking to them, explaining thing, giving them a tour.
The Lighthouse is a super-secret facility built by Shield as part of a life-raft project to preserve humanity through the end of the world, which seemed imminent back in the 60’s and 70’s. Shield would gather the best of the best from around the world, the chosen ones, the best humanity has to offer, and thus the best hope for the survival of the species. But the crisis was averted, the people who knew about the plan and the Lighthouse never spoke of it, and so it was forgotten. This makes it the perfect place to hide, because nobody outside of it knows about it.
That also makes it the perfect place to keep especially dangerous things, like, say… three monoliths. Not one, not two, three. (ADD Moment: “And the number thou shalt count to shall be three.” LOL)
Humor notwithstanding, that was one of those “holy ****” moments. We know one monolith was used to exile Hive from Earth, and he destroyed the people on the planet he was sent to, until he eventually hitched a ride back. We know Enoch used the monolith in the center of these three we see to send the agents through time. What do the other two do? I shudder to think.
It passes quickly enough with the introduction of Noah, who is a… well, he’s like Enoch. Ah, so they are naming these guys after Old Testament prophets, and where Enoch’s role was to take people out of this world, Noah seems to have been sent to watch over the Ark that carries people through the impending flood. Poetic.
So, with a super-secret base to operate from, and Noah’s monitoring setup to work with, the agents waste no time scouring the world for the trouble that sets off the end of the world. Their arrival seems to be most timely, as there is a light shining from the sky, which is what Voss mentioned to them in the future, which has been appearing intermittently for a few weeks. So, off they go to investigate. All except Daisy, who is set on avoiding her role in ending the world, so she runs the back end with Noah.
Step one: leave the Lighthouse discreetly. Extensive secret tunnels take care of that, and they emerge in a pleasant little town called River’s End (because it’s built at the end of a river and someone was feeling less than creative that day).
Step Two: obtain transportation. So they temporarily steal a van that’s for sale, nearly having a heart attack when an officer stops them just to have a conversation. And while they’re driving, the converse about how much worse thing could be than being packed into a crappy van. Which, really, they’ve through a lot of weird and traumatizing crap, haven’t they? Anyway, the van gets them to where the Zephyr is parked, and they’re able to move more swiftly and stealthily and analyze the situation at the same time.
Step Three: understand the problem. Fitz-Simmons quickly learn that the light is coming from the sky, it’s being sent from the ground. It’s just so rapid that it looks like it’s coming from the sky. Slow down the frame-rate in the video, and, voila, they can analyze it properly. Oh, and they’ve seen this before. It’s the beacon that Hive used to draw Kree to the Earth.
Safe to say they’ve found the source, or at least one source, of Earth’s impending destruction and misery.
While they’re off dealing with this, Daisy sets up an alert so she can watch out for trouble via her new Noah-owned computer. And something unusual, remarkable, and surprising happens: Deke arrives.
…wait, Deke? Deke?! Deke lives! How?!
Well, the stone they were using to activate the monolith fired up and swallowed him at the same time the monolith did, just before the explosion could kill him. So there he is, standing in the past, a world he’s been unable to even properly imagine, where pretty much every last thing we take for granted is new and priceless beyond words. The agents had a moment where they were able to appreciate coming home, but for Deke, it’s all new. And he’s quickly introduced to proper television, burger and onion rings, beer, and, finding the beer to be disgusting, a citrus-flavored drink. So, good day for him. Right up until he has to pay for it. And he has to money.
Daisy’s alert goes off when he’s put in a local holding cell.
Fearing that he might spill the beans that the agents are back, Daisy, against Noah’s advice, goes to get him out. One of the officers seems suspicious, but things go smoothly enough and they make it back to the Lighthouse without incident. Unfortunately, Daisy arrives just in time to hear May calling desperately for a place to land the Zephyr. Things have gone horribly wrong.
Coulson and the other agents arrive at the source of the Kree beacon only to find the entire place abandoned, with one, and only one, exception: Piper.
The last woman standing of the three agents who helped Coulson and the others’ through the debacle of the LMDs, the Framework, the Russian, and Aida, Piper was last seen escaping with the soldiers, and with orders to tell their story, to clear their much-accused name. She never heard what happened that day, or what happened to them, so she’s been looking and doing what she can.
She was a background character, forced to take on a huge burden all at once, but she seems to have done well enough. Then she noticed the beacon and investigated. It seems the people researching it saw it just spontaneously turn on, unable to turn it off, so she sent all of them away and has been trying to fix the problem herself.
That’s the story, at least. Much of it is true, but it turns out she was also caught by General Hale, told their story, and cut a deal. She was to try and lure Coulson and the others out of hiding, not that they actually were in hiding, by activating the beacon and waiting. (yes, let’s activate an alien beacon, turning it on and off repeatedly, I’m sure the aliens will never notice that!) Piper agreed to this because Hale assured her that she only wants to bring them in and talk to them, with a guarantee of their safety.
This is Hale we’re talking about. The woman shot two of her subordinates in the head, last we saw her. Clearly not to be trusted. But Piper doesn’t know that, and she doesn’t realize the truth until five enemies show up, masked, and try to kill the agents wholesale. Four of them are robots, so they’ve no need to hold back. Piper sees this and takes Coulson’s side, covering them as they grab the beacon, beat the robots, and run.
But the lead figure, female, is not like the others. She takes a sharp, metal hoop off her back, aiming for Mack. Yo-Yo sees this, and with her future-self’s warning of his death ringing in her ears, she leaps in front of it. Somehow, we don’t see it, but it goes so very wrong. Both of her arms are cut off at once.
It wasn’t Kasius and the Kree who did that to her. It was here and now. The future, it seems, is coming true.
The agents scramble to stop the bleeding, Mack carries her out, Piper is horrified by what her actions have wrought, and they make tracks for the Lighthouse. Daisy gets back with Deke just in time to open the bay door for them to land. Simmons is seeing to Yo-Yo while everyone else waits in tense, devastated silence. She pulls through, but Fitz will definitely have some new arms to make, and the loss, as well as the horrible future coming to pass, weighs heavy on them all.
So, we have Yo-Yo suddenly amputated, Piper is back, and she was duped into nearly getting them all killed, Coulson is dying and striving to keep it a secret for as long as possible, the Kree beacon was active and we know the Kree answer, General Hale has robot soldiers and special assassins at her disposal, and the agents have precious little to work with, including a secret sanctuary and an alien master of the house.
…ok, check that about the alien. The Kree beacon explodes inside their storage space, and Noah, who accused Enoch of being reckless, got the two present agents out and threw himself onto the explosion without hesitation.
Oh, and if Hale weren’t already terrible enough as murdering, traitorous scum, the assassin with the ring is, in fact, Ruby. Her own daughter. Who goes to “class” to be a killer. And who Hale otherwise keeps locked in a vault.
I am really hating that Hale woman.
And I suddenly fear Ruby, who is partially a normal girl, and partially a cold-blooded, bloodthirsty assassin, and she’s obsessed with Quake, aka Daisy.
Oh, and to top things off, Hale goes to recruit Crusher Creel, the Absorbing Man we’ve met a few times before in service first to Hydra and then to Talbot, to join a special team she’s putting together to kill the agents. I have to say, a tiny part of me actually feels a little devastated by that. Is Creel really going to help kill the agents of Shield? He has some history with them, and he redeemed himself a bit in my eyes when he worked for Talbot. Is he going down that path again?
With all of this going on… a recap of past events, pieces from so many past stories coming back, an apocalyptic future set in motion, and the impending death of Coulson – which, future Yo-Yo was emphatic that they have to let him die if they’re to save the world – I am starting to wonder if they’re actually wrapping up this series. Please say it isn’t so!