This Week on TV, Jan. 12, 2019

Spoiler Alert!

I just realized that The Gifted is airing only thirteen episodes again. Dang it! I was hoping for something longer! 😛 Still, they and Gotham are both certainly pushing us towards grand finales with further intrigue, heartbreak, rising tension, and descending darkness. My kind of entertainment! 🙂

Gotham

5.02 “Trespassers”

A child came to the GCPD. A child.

He walked nine miles alone in the dark through an exceptionally dangerous city, all to beg for help.

In the face of that, all the danger in the world won’t stop Jim Gordon from helping. Either he will succeed in saving the other children, or he will die in the attempt. That is the way of the protector, the way of a Gordon. “While We Breathe, We Will Defend.”

So, Penguin’s bounty, a horde of gangs, an unknown enemy, and the government’s complete unwillingness to help isn’t enough to stop him. He even asks Barbara for a little help, which she flatly refuses at first, but comes around at an opportune moment in the hopes that they’ll freaking kill Penguin together. As we saw Penguin alive at Day 391 or whatever it was, I doubt that will work out like she wants.

For the moment, however, they have three sturdy vehicles and enough officers with enough bullets. They drive through unfriendly territory and arrive safely, though the vehicles look a bit like porcupines by the end of the trip.

When they get there, they find the show’s version of Bane, I think, complete with a mask, with smoke that makes them stronger, and an armed crew. Nothing that could shoot down a helicopter, though, so that screws my initial theory. Indeed, this Bane is driving a crew of kids to dig a tunnel to connect to the mainland. The oldest of the kids tries to tell him it won’t work, but he’s not listening. Too high on his fumes.

Hm, I am immediately wondering if this is another precursor character, like we had a scarecrow before Scarecrow, and a dark knight before the Dark Knight, and so on. This seems like a fairly pathetic Bane so far, but one of those kids, especially the oldest, could easily take up the mantle and improve on it. But for the moment, I suppose, this is the Bane we have.

Either way, Gordon, Bullock, and the cops get most of the kids onto their vehicles and get them out. There’s still the two of them, the oldest, and two girls, though. Unable to escape in a car, the flee on foot into an old, creepy hotel. They leave the kids in the lobby, unaware of the figure lurking nearby, and clear the hotel. Gordon goes up, and finds a child in a closet, chattering about a ghost that makes him call her Mother. I’m guessing Bane’s cronies killed the boy’s parents, like they killed the parents of all the kids they took, and then he found shelter with this woman. Bullock heads down and finds the belongings, including the teeth, of adults, their remains burning in the furnace, and the freaky lady with a razor attacks him.

Obviously, running for their lives is a good idea.

Unfortunately, the boy uses that to herd them into a room and locks them in. Strobe lights flash in such a way that strikes the nervous centers in the brain, willing them to fall unconscious. Weakened and in the dark, with little in the way of ammunition, it’s much easier for this Mother to try to kill them. They manage to survive and subdue and interrogate her, but she escapes anyway, through a secret passage.

Not wanting to push their luck, they head back to the lobby and flee back onto the street. And they immediately have Bane and a rival gang fighting over who gets to kill them.

That would be the opportune moment where Barbara shows up with a vehicle that has a bit of firepower attached. She saves them, an alliance is proposed, they get themselves and the kids back to safety.

Bonus: Fox conjured up an empty apartment building in their Green Zone to keep the kids in, and families flock to it immediately from all over the city. I mean, who wouldn’t? So, the day ends happily, for once. 🙂

Well, for the GCPD, at least.

Bruce has a much worse time of it.

Seeking “the witch,” he goes in search and finds Ivy. She’s been killing people and feeding them to the park, making new, strange things grow, making the plants move, etc. The locals naturally don’t like this, and they were actually pretty clever. They shoved her into a storage room, with no light or water or soil, and salt on the ground. She’s completely cut off from her plants and at their mercy. They’re just waiting for more of their people to show up so they can burn her, and they’d be perfectly right to do so, I’d say.

But Bruce needs to talk to her, so he convinces them to let him. She professes her innocence, of course, and promises a miraculous healing seed. Bruce takes a chance, and immediately regrets it as she murders her captors. Still, for Selina, he presses on, and manages to convince her. She gives him the seed, though she also warns him that the side-effects could be… dangerous.

For her part, Selina, who was willing to kill herself to escape her misery, is quick to risk her life for the same hope.

Before it really takes effect, she remembers the early days, when she helped and saved and watched over Ivy, and received the same in return. In spite of everything since, she still sees Ivy as that little girl, even now.

Then she falls into a convulsing fit, with fever and racing heartbeat. When she wakes, she, too, is transformed. She can walk, but her mind is different, and her eyes resemble those of a cat, though Bruce doesn’t see that part yet. All they know is that she’s up, back to normal, feeling even better than before.

Happiness and sorrow seem to be interchangeable in Gotham, or have you noticed?

Finally, Riddler wakes up thinking he’s finally triumphed over whoever or whatever it is that takes hold when he sleeps. He tied himself down, and cheers his triumph. Then he uses the bathroom and finds a Street Demon beaten and tied in his tub. The man tells Riddler that he wanted information, and he seemed to be in a daze while beating it out of him. He wanted to know where to find the demons, especially their leader. So they go, and find everyone dead, with a message on the wall, “Penguin was here.”

Whatever his other side is doing, it just set off a war between the demons and Penguin. As Penguin also has the Sirens out for his blood and the GCPD willing to shoot him on sight, I’m wondering how he manages to survive this. I suppose we’ll be finding out soon enough! 🙂

Things went fairly well in this episode, for the most part. Rescued kids, slaughtered gangsters, a safe place for the refugees. All good. But Ivy escaped death, murdered people, and both healed and cursed Selina, thanks to Bruce Wayne’s desperation. And more warfare is about to explode on the streets again.

The good guys have their work cut out for them!

The Gifted

2.11 “meMento”

It must be said, whatever highly questionable things Lorna has done, she has done them in accordance with her goals. Many say the ends justify the means, and getting one’s hands stained and dirty may be inevitable. In war, there are no true rules. But there are lines, and it is by these lines that people are able to do bad things while maintaining some goodness within themselves.

Perhaps that is a shallow distinction. It might even be laughable, like, “What, you start having moral issues now, after everything you’ve already done?” It may be the most difficult balance to find, that area between holding to one’s honor while also acting with intelligent flexibility. Game of Thrones is a classic, but certainly not the only, example of the struggle between idealism and realism. The line between good and evil, hero and villain, can be disturbingly blurry at times.

The one rule of the Underground is never to kill. Lorna has broken that rule, most especially when she tore a plane apart, murdering everyone on board. Yet she still know the value of human life. In that sense, she’s spent a bit, a fortune, to further her goals, but now she sees the Inner Circle preparing to make an expense of human life that is absolutely staggering to even contemplate.

Reeva certainly hasn’t been shy about making such expenditures herself. She took over in a violent, bloody coup, and she’s shed blood since. But she has also restrained herself, and her reaction to Rebecca’s spontaneous massacre at Creed financial might indicate that there are lines even for her. But, in her mind, if she believes it to be necessary, then she will not hesitate, not in the slightest.

So, when Lorna sees Reeva adding three new recruits, and recognizes them as a crew that took down an entire ship, with men, women, and children on it, entire families murdered, thousands of people dead… well, it puts her on edge. She confronts Reeva, who plainly says that she has a job for these three mass murderers. Lorna’s task is to rebuild the world from the ashes, while theirs is to burn it in the first place. As the first thing Reeva did was to assert her dominance over the three of them, she obviously is not entertaining debate on this issue.

With Andy psyched up instead of wary, Lorna has no one she can trust within the Inner Circle. Thus, she goes to Marcos and the Underground.

Marcos is out and about, trying to find someone in the Underground who’s willing to fight, or even someone who’s still there, at Cait’s insistence. That gets put on hold when his ex comes to him, looking for help. It’s an emotional explosion, and one that doesn’t have anything like rescuing John to put it on hold. As such, while Marcos will help, the air is thick with things that need clearing.

It’s an interesting detail, though, that Marcos only gets what he wants from Lorna after he gives the same to Clarice. Being in need of information, they go to the Morlocks, which gives them time to clear things up. Clarice shares how hurt she felt when Marcos went behind her back to talk to John, and she calls him out on her sermonizing, posturing, judgmental behavior, which makes him something of a hypocrite at times like now when he asks her to talk to Urg after judging her for it. With that made clear, a humbled Marcos apologizes, sincerely, and Clarice gracefully accepts. That’s one small rift mended.

While down there, Marcos sees a friend, the woman he helped escape from the asylum and helped find shelter with the Morlocks. There’s a certain spark and connection there, but, oddly, it’s Lorna that makes him feel… everything, from anger to grief to love and back. She offers some wise insight there, with how he feels for her because she matters to him. Also, it takes strength to forgive, rather than to hate.

There is legitimate hurt lying between Marcos and Lorna. She left him, turned to the Inner Circle instead of the Underground. She deprived him of the chance to be there when his daughter was born. She let him hold his daughter in order to help her, and then she took her away again, expelling him. Then she sent their daughter away entirely. If all of that pain weren’t enough, then she kisses him out of the blue and leaves again. That’s a lot to put one man through!

After things are cleared with Clarice, though, and in his own heart, Lorna actually apologizes. She admits that she’s treated him horribly, and she regrets it. And, really… that’s all Marcos was waiting for. He kisses her. And… ah, well, they reconcile. With their own private aurora borealis. And let’s just leave it at that, eh? 😉

I have to say, it’s very satisfying to see characters we care about coming back together.

While frayed relationships on the mutant side of things are mending, Turner is learning that everything he dreamed for is actually a nightmare.

The Purifier militia is up and running, and with six thousand escaped mutants, they have a lot of hunting to do, both for the escapees and for every other mutant scapegoat they can get their hands on. This includes following a tip that leads them to a homeless shelter for children, guns in hand.

Ted, the guy who brought Turner in and got badly clocked last episode, is on his feet again, and not happy at how he’s no longer actually leading the chapter he started and built up. He’s also questioning the wisdom of going mutant-hunting right after they got their butts handed to them. But he comes along anyway.

The “dangerous mutants” turn out to be escapees, but a pair of homeless teens, barely more than kids. Turner and Ted corner them, but Turner talks them down. After that, he interrogates one and leaves Ted alone with the other. Turner all but accuses the one he’s talking to, asking why he’s running away if he’s innocent. Uh, duh, Turner! They ran because a group of armed, murderous mutant haters came to kill them for no good reason!

Turner tries to talk the talk, then, saying he doesn’t have a problem with law-abiding mutants (despite all the ones he’s hunted, caged, tortured, murdered, turned over to scientists for experimentation, etc.). He actually believes what he’s saying for a moment, but then things go pear-shaped when he hears a gunshot. He runs into the next room to find Ted, gun in hand, having just shot the teen he was talking to. Evidence suggests he shot the kid in the chest in cold blood, but Ted says he was raising his hands, about to attack. Ted is rattled and saying he didn’t even want to be there, and if he goes to jail, he’ll be a cop in prison. Not a healthy prospect for him.

No idea what actually happened, but after this same teen already stood down once, I can’t imagine him threatening Ted unless he felt threatened first. Either way, Ted killed him, and Turner literally has blood on his hands. That blood won’t wash off now, not after he lies to protect Ted.

The two of them are hailed as heroes by the anti-mutant media, especially their patron, Benedict Ryan. Turner even gets a phone call from Paula, the woman he loves, who left him, whose divorce papers he just signed and sent off, praising him in the name of their daughter Grace. But Turner knows. He knows. He did the wrong thing. He invaded a homeless shelter and got an innocent kid killed. He is the monster of this story now. Seeing the truth of that is coming down heavy on his shoulders.

We’ll see if it lasts.

Finally, over in the Struckers’ corner, things are heating up.

Lauren is quickly becoming obsessed with her Fenris ancestors, studying them and listening to Andrea von Strucker’s music box anytime she isn’t training. Reed senses something amiss here, but he can’t quite grasp what it is. All he knows is that there’s something going very wrong here, and the tune on the music box doesn’t ease his mind, it being a song about a dark, evil force that steals children, and the parents who allow it by blinding themselves to it. That last refers to Cait, who is encouraging Lauren to get stronger so they can destroy the Inner Circle and rescue her brainwashed son. (good grief, Cait, it’s not brainwashing!)

The danger is even worse than they realize, however. Before he died, Andreas von Strucker knew the pain of his sister dying in his arms. Afterward, he gave up on the hope of ever living to see the world they dreamed of, but he made sure to leave something behind, that this world might come into being someday. He took his sister’s music box to a skilled craftsman, had him restore it and make a certain modification. Something about the tune and when it plays, it reaches into Lauren’s mind, even into her dreams, and it’s changing her.

She has a vivid dream about the moment when Andrea was shot and killed. She learns from the dream how to use her power as a weapon. It’s mostly been used defensively, though also to channel Andy’s blasts and to crush things. Now she learns to use it to make terrible blades with an extreme edge and strength, which she can hurl some distance away. It’s a dangerous, terrifying weapon, and as she lashes out in her sleep, she destroys much of her room and endangers her parents, not to mention anyone else around them, until the music is shut off and she wakes up.

The landlord gets calls about the noise and comes by to check things out. Then he calls the cops to check things out as well, and they don’t hold to proper protocol and legal procedure in doing so. Cait and Lauren use her new ability to bait them into going away and leaving them alone, but it’s a near thing. Reed isn’t at all happy that his wife is once again on a different page from him when it comes to their children. I wouldn’t be either, but at least they got out of the emergency.

But then, later, Lauren goes to the landlord, entering his home and breaking his things, threatening him. Whether that was needed or not, it crosses a line she’s never crossed before, and her manner while she’s doing it is very worrying.

Reed’s father tried to protect him and future generations from their family’s legacy. He failed, and that failure has put Reed in great danger, with a fatal prognosis Now it seems that Lauren’s great-grandfather is reaching out of the past, a shadow wrapping her in darkness, within her own mind and soul.

And somewhere in all of this, Clarice is becoming Blink among the Morlocks, and she is torn between them and her relationship with John. Urg reveals that he actually does care about the people above, and it is only his sworn duty to protect the Morlocks which makes him hesitate to help them. That is a great distinction between him and, say, Reeva. They’ve both suffered hurts and loss and are doing something about it, but one of them still remembers to care about people beyond their limited circle. He cares about Clarice as well, and offers her his protection if she joins the Morlocks.

But, on the other side of things, John is recovering, and reveals his feelings for her. He lost his best friend, and he lost a woman he loved. When he was being tortured by the Purifiers, and shot to within an inch of his life, he was thinking of her, of Clarice. He doesn’t want to lose another person he loves so dearly.

He loves her, and she loves him.

Finally, the episode ends with two curve balls.

The first was somewhat predictable. After all, villains tend to be connected to each other, and when you have two groups like the Inner Circle and the Purifiers, with money and power and a shared rhetoric of mutually-exclusive violence, there’s bound to be some overlap. That said, when Reeva and Benedict meet, seem to argue a bit, and exchange envelopes, it’s quite a slap in the face for Marcos and Lorna to see.

Two groups who ought to be at odds with each other are actually connected. The question is only one of how. Are they taking advantage of each other, pitting all the pawns against each other until someone comes out on top? Seems a bit hazardous to work with someone when you’re both trying to destroy each other, even if you’re playing each other. Is Benedict secretly a mutant, and a grand poser as well? Possible, but that exchange was not entirely friendly. Is Reeva leading mutants to their demise? That would be very hazardous to do whilst in the company of mind-readers, and she looked far too confident in herself. Does she have dirt on Benedict? Hm, that’s probably the most likely scenario, but then why bother with an exchange at all, and why meet repeatedly?

Whatever it is, someone is obviously getting played here.

The second curve ball is much more surprising. I mean, is something actually going to go right, here?

John gets a call from Evangeline. In short, she says she believes he was right: they need to fight. The Underground is almost entirely gone, but there are still some of them left, and she’s called a meeting of all the regional leaders. John and his group are invited.

Somehow, that sounds a little too good to be true, but they can’t exactly refuse to go.

So, recap:

Lorna and Marcos are reconciled and working together to figure out Reeva’s game plan, which looks more and more dire by the second, Clarice is torn between two worlds, Lauren is going dark under the influence of the phantom influence of her great-grandfather, while her parents are coming apart over their children, Turner has stained his soul in a way even he can’t avoid seeing, such that his dreams are turning to ash in his mouth, and thing are coming to a head again as both the Underground and the Inner Circle are gearing up for something big.

That about it?

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