This Week on TV, May 12, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

Between Gotham and Agents of Shield, this week delivered us a one-two punch, laying us out and paving the way for the final blow of next week’s season finales. Gotham had its greatest crisis to date, and even in the heroes’ moment of victory, tragedy struck. And on Agents of Shield, we had a fierce confrontation that cleared the immediate field of pretty much everything except the final threat… and this is all just a tangent from the true menace the Avengers are facing in Infinity War (which I am about to go and see, yay!).

So, good week!

Gotham

4.21 “One Bad Day”

Me at the end of this episode: “No… no, no, no, she’s fine, she’s fine, she’s fine, she’s gotta be fine, because this is Selina freaking Kyle, Catwoman, we’re talking about here, and it would be commercial suicide.”

But there’s always that little voice in the back, whispering so low and inescapably clear, “Oh reeeeeeally?”

…there are times I really hate that little voice.

Starting back at the beginning of this episode, the GCPD is rocked to its core by the massive explosion they saw clear from the precinct and apparent death of Captain Jim Gordon, not to mention the arrival of Jeremiah Valeska with his new adherents, formerly his brother’s followers. The cops might be reluctant to follow Bullock’s lead again, especially after what it got them the last time, namely when the Pyg butchered them, but the crisis Jeremiah forces on them leaves them little choice.

This deranged lunatic has over a dozen large bombs all over the city, which he proves by detonating one of them and reducing the clock tower to rubble. He intends to destroy the city no matter what happens. He is simply giving Gotham six hours to evacuate, is all. Impossible, but the cops and the mayor do everything they can to expedite the process. They’ll never succeed, but they’ll try.

Better to cut off the trouble at its source, ya know? Go for the head of the snake, the root of the problem, etc. To which end, Fox gets hold of the generator bomb’s schematics, courtesy of a remorseful Bruce Wayne. The bombs are powerful, but there is a weak spot: they all have to communicate with each other. For that, they have a central node, a core, acting like a brain in a nervous system. Find that, remove from the equation, and the crisis ends, yes?

It does not help matters when Penguin decides to make a move. He ropes Barbara into helping, via Tabitha’s affection for Butch, so when he confronts Jeremiah, he has a small army, including highly-trained assassins, at his side. And his hand: he has one of Jeremiah’s new followers rigged to explode with the core in his grip. His demand: fifty millions, which Jeremiah can extort from the city in exchange for more time to evacuate. Penguin’s real plan, of course, is to take the money, kill Jeremiah, give the core to the cops, be hailed as a hero. (and get Butch fixed, Butch and Tabitha are very firm about that) But Jeremiah only seems to acquiesce just long enough get out of blasting range and retrieve a rocket launcher. He kills his follower himself, destroying the core as well. He has a backup plan, where the bombs communicate more directly with each other, and this fiasco has ticked him off to the point where he won’t wait. The moment he’s safe, he’ll detonate the bombs. No more time limit.

With Penguin’s plan completely backfiring, he calls Bullock, letting him know. The good news is, this backup plan leaves the bombs vulnerable to disarming. All they have to do is knock out one, and the rest will refuse to detonate. They just need to find one.

And here we have Gordon’s triumphant return. He was saved by Riddler’s man who was following him, taken to Lee for medical care, and what he stole wasn’t blueprints to the bombs, but something else, some other piece of the plan. Lee sees an opportunity to earn clemency for her recent crimes, by ransoming what they have to the city, both protecting the Narrows and themselves. Riddler solves it easily enough: it’s the labyrinth that Jeremiah intends to create by toppling the buildings he’s targeting. Thus, they now have a list of all of Jeremiah’s targets.

After tricking and overpowering Riddler, who is probably going to erupt in insecure jealousy next episodes, in the season finale, Gordon takes that information straight to the precinct, where he’s given a hero’s welcome, and go for the nearest bomb. Bullock goes first, because he needs this, and he goes in when the bomb squad is trapped in the traffic of an entire city’s population trying to flee for their lives. With the precinct officers watching in tense silence, Fox talks Bullock through the process. Just unscrew the antenna, the bomb opens, and disable the breaker. Curve ball: Jeremiah put in two breakers, probably just in case. There’s nothing to indicate which one will disable the bomb and which one will set them all off and destroy the city. It’s just a fifty-fifty chance, like flicking a coin, with obscenely high stakes.

Bullock goes for it and picks the right one, thank goodness, and just in the nick of time, too.

Jeremiah is in his underground maze, or another place very similar to such since he blew that one up, his personal bunker, with all his followers, congratulating them and sharing how much it means to have them there with him. But then Gordon’s face pops up on the television behind him, making him a liar in the eyes of his adherents. They’re about to turn on him, but he promises them the destruction of Gotham when he flicks a switch. Gordon’s public appearance bought just a few precious seconds, and that’s when Bullock chooses the right breaker. Jeremiah’s schemes fail to either kill Gordon or destroy the city. His people turn on him, but he’s ready for that: he steps quickly out of the room, locks them in, and burns them all alive.

He certainly is far more direct in just killing people than his brother was.

The day belongs to the heroes of Gotham. The city still stands. Gordon lives. Bullock has proven himself and receives a standing ovation upon his return. And both sets of meddling criminals have gotten nothing for their trouble-causing trouble. Penguin finds himself very much unwelcome at Barbara’s, and Butch refuses to follow his increasingly-disastrous schemes any longer. Penguin has little choice but to reveal the location of Hugo Strange to them, and somehow I doubt Strange will insist on much in the way of payment when he’s faced with both Butch and Tabitha.

Finally, there’s Bruce. After giving Fox and Bullock access to the schematics and hanging his head in shame at his part in this crisis, Bruce gets a call from Jeremiah, demanding he come to an empty building, without the cops, or Alfred dies. This he does, but he brings Selina, and that was a very good move. When Bruce walks in, I could tell something was amiss, but it wasn’t until we saw Selina lurking around that I noticed what it was: Bruce was not at all using his mind as he usually does. Small wonder, as he was being hit with Scarecrow’s gas from the minute he walked in. He’s running around screaming for Alfred while the man seems to be tortured and exposed to gas live on every screen, absolutely horrific. It’s his “one bad day,” intended to drive him insane like Jerome did to Jeremiah. Selina manages to best Scarecrow and two goons by herself, turning the gas off and finding the real Alfred, while Bruce finds a fake one who tries to kill him. He barely makes it through the ordeal, but he does, thanks to Alfred and Selina.

All in all, a good day for the good guys.

Except… this does not match the vision Ra’s al’Ghul had of the city in flames, and the ancient specter appears before Jeremiah as the madman is beginning his plans again from scratch. (question, if he’s set on working alone now, then where’s Echo?) The two villains together are a nightmare to contemplate, and they share an interest both in Gotham’s fall, and in Bruce Wayne’s transformation.

So as the trio return to Wayne Manor to rest and celebrate, their joy is short-lived. They need to get some better security at that building, but when dealing with Ra’s and Jeremiah, perhaps that would be a moot point. Either way, just as Bruce and Selina finally kiss, Jeremiah arrives, set on driving Bruce mad by taking what he loves away from him.

He shoots Selina in the gut.

Alfred is there instantly, beating Jeremiah down, but Selina is hurt, and hurt very badly.

She said she’d always be there for him, but she’s being taken from him.

Two of the series’ worst villains have joined forces and hurt Selina Kyle, turning the triumph of everyone saving Gotham into a tragedy of loss.

Whatever happens next, this is a defining moment for Bruce especially and for the show as a whole.

So… as much as I am going, “She’ll be fine, really, she will be,” I do have to wonder.

“Oh, reeeeally?”

Agents of Shield

5.21 “The Force of Gravity”

The loop is closing, and the riddle is almost solved.

While the Avengers are fighting to save the universe in the Infinity War (just a couple more hours until I see it!), the agents are fighting on its outskirts to save the Earth and humanity and their leader. Their enemy, tragically, is a man they called a friend, a friend who, even after all their ups and downs and failures, put it all on the line for them barely even a few hours ago. Even now, Talbot is trying to save the world, “to fix it.” His mind is unstable, he’s become delusional and murderous, and the bodies are starting to pile up.

And thus the man has become the monster.

Talbot takes the quinjet off the Zephyr, killing Agent Kim in the process, so he can descend to Earth. Then he goes to Creel, a man who trusts him and has fought for him, because Talbot removed Hydra’s programming and let him be a good man again, and absorbs the absorbing man. He goes to his family, frightening his son and nearly killing his wife before Shield arrives. He holds back, doesn’t kill the agents, but it’s his son who drives him off when he calls Talbot a bad guy, which Talbot has to go and try to prove wrong. And finally, he once again kidnaps Robin and her mother, so she can tell him where to get more gravitonium.

In the face of all that, each of the agents has to come to their own place, where they’re resolved to stop Talbot even if it means killing him. It doesn’t sit easy with any of them, but if that’s how they save the world, then that’s what they must do.

Up on the ship, May and Coulson find a way to break out of their prison cell, but Deke arrives to rescue them first. They find Daisy too, after she has a one-on-one telepathic chat with Kasius (he tries to bring her to his side at first, but she’s already seen what his family has to offer Inhumans, so he tries to break her instead, but she will not be broken by the likes of him). Then they split up, Daisy and Coulson to the Zephyr, Deke and May to the bridge. For all that Kovus talks about the honor of killing without a gun, he resorts to missiles easily enough, so they reprogram the missiles to hit the ship that launches them, and this would be why May didn’t just finish him off, so he could launch the missiles and end his threat himself. Poetic, that. The tricky part was programming the teleport device to take them to the Lighthouse before the missiles hit, but Deke pulled that off while May was busy.

That’s the lesser alien threat in the skies neutralized, so all that’s left is Talbot.

Oh, and Coulson kissed May while they were under fire. Heh.

So, things are starting to look up. Especially since, back down on the ground, Fitz-Simmons are working on a way to save Coulson. They have it, where they use the centipede serum to deliver Jiaying’s healing DNA into Coulson’s cells, and this also gives them a weapon to use against Talbot, by using the same method to deliver the odium into his system. Mind you, considering how suped-up the people who take it get, it occurs to me that might actually be how the world breaks under the weight of its first gravity storm. Either way, they only have enough serum for one of these plans.

And that’s how it comes to be a choice between saving Coulson or the world. Rather elegant, isn’t it? It’s not the first domino in the sequence, but rather the last of several pivotal decisions. This is the moment where Shield decides the fate of the world.

They need to decide soon. In fact, they need to decide now, because his condition is advancing at a rapid pace. He’s dying now.

…to be continued!

(excellent stopping point, poised right over the teeth of the finale next week, and now I’m off to see Infinity War at last!)

EDIT: I have seen it. Holy ****. I’m guessing this finale’s final moments will give us more of the fallout from the Infinity War, as tragically as possible, but what the heck are they going to do for next season, then?

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