This Week on TV, Jan. 19, 2019

Spoiler Alert!

It is unfortunate, I’d say, that The Gifted doesn’t have a longer season. There is so much to go into with that show. It is also unfortunate that all things must end, as Gotham is soon to do. But, for the moment, we still had riveting, heart-breaking, compelling stories this week. Crap is truly hitting the fan, and we love it! 🙂

The Gifted

2.12 “hoMe”

Hey, an episode without Turner in it! Whoo!

The main thrust of this episode is the Underground rising as a whole to directly fight against the Inner Circle. First thing’s first: the leaders need to all be on the same page. That means a meeting, and quite a meeting it’ll be. Even severely diminished and with most of their surviving stations gone dark, the meagerest gathering still has people coming in from several corners of the USA. It’s not really much, but it’s a start, and it’s most certainly a pivotal moment.

As the highest leader of the Underground, Evangeline is calling the shots, and she is formidable. We haven’t really seen her step up in this way before, but she clearly knows what she’s about. She’s glad to hear that Lorna is back on their side, and while it clearly gives her great hope, she also takes steps to protect that hope. In particular, she emphasizes that everyone who knows must not let it slip. They cannot, under any circumstances, tell anyone. Not their comrades, not their friends, not their wayward family members, that last referring to Cait’s overwhelming desire to tell Andy and try to use it to convince him to come back, too. Cait’s objectivity there is really off. So, for the moment, the secret seems to be safe.

Evangeline also decides that, needing as many fighting bodies as they can get, they need to bring Erg (I’ve been misspelling his name, it seems) and the Morlocks into the fight. Evidently, this includes by any means necessary. She tells them that Erg won’t refuse because they have a history, she saved his life, but there’s more to it than that. Heh, isn’t it always the omitted details which are so important?

Erg is obviously not happy, brusque and less than friendly to the trio who come to pick him up for the meeting. I wouldn’t be in a particularly good mood either, in his place.

It turns out, Erg and Evangeline started the original Underground together. He moved people through the tunnels, thus the name, while she ran things on the surface. Then they were betrayed by a human associate, and the people they were helping were slaughtered. Erg wanted to help them, but Evangeline held him back, keeping him from dying, thus “saving his life.”

After, the two fell to bickering. Erg believed they couldn’t trust the humans anymore, and saw as their best hope in the idea of building a separate community. Evangeline disagreed, adamant on doing things as they had been. So they parted ways, and thus the Underground and the Morlocks were parted. One side carried on the fight, risking and losing lives all along the way, while the other slithered into the shadows under the ground to hide.

Erg’s single purpose, ever since then, has been to protect the people under his care. And now his old friend is dragging every one of those people into a fight they want no part of, by threatening to expose them if they don’t join it. Seriously, that is a messed up thing for Evangeline to do.

Marcos and John, momentarily unaware, are uncertain about Erg’s reluctance. I mean, it’s not like Evangeline’s holding a gun to his head. …except, she is. She’s pretty much holding a gun to every Morlock’s head and saying, “Fight with us or else.” That’s not going to build either loyalty or unity.

I would have liked to see the meeting between leaders, especially Erg and Evangeline, but, unfortunately, Reeva makes sure tragedy strikes first.

Cait and Lauren go to Cait’s brother for help, which, much like last time, does not go very well. He tries to look into what the Inner Circle is trying to do, and finds he’s kicked a hornet’s nest. He’s in cuffs and turned into an informant within minutes. He refuses to go along with it at the last second, though, and gives his sister a warning: the Inner Circle apparently has apparently compromised vast swathes of the entire government. They also, clearly, have strings attached to the Purifier leadership.

The enemy just keeps getting bigger. I mean, how do you properly fight a shadow group of criminals that has control of their supposed enemies?

The Underground learns that the hard way. Evangeline’s little summit clearly attracted someone’s attention. If anyone could threaten the Inner Circle, it would be a united front from the Underground. Reeva doesn’t allow that to happen and sends her new strike team to annihilate this little alliance in its infancy. Lorna barely figures it out beforehand, and then only because of one little slip on the part of their enemy. She warns Marcos, risking her life in the process, and they pick up the pace, but it’s too little, too late. By the time they get there, emergency services are dousing the fire and bagging bodies. No survivors.

It’s a devastating blow, hitting Lorna and the others hard. Evangeline helped them, and now she’s dead, as is the Underground’s national leadership. Anyone who might be left after this certainly won’t answer any calls from John’s group for a long time. They came to talk about fighting the Inner Circle, as he’s been shouting about for months, and everyone dies before they even get started. No, they’re probably going to steer very clear of what little is left of John’s crew.

And that group is ever shrinking, it seems. John wants to fight, of course. He’s a soldier, a man of action, and Erg’s refusal to fight irritates him. He thinks it’s cowardly to hide in the tunnels while the rest of them are bleeding in a war on the surface. But Erg calls out his hypocrisy as even the woman he claims to love has to hide herself in order to walk about in public. The world is not friendly to them, and Erg has a courage all his own as he shelters his people from that world.

I’m reminded of a scene from Rurouni Kenshin, one that displays a difference between evil men who seek conquest, cowardly men who seek only to stay alive a little longer, and brave, noble men who fight on the behalf of others. Of course the story supports that last group, and disdains the cowards, as it should, but there is more than one face of courage, and more than one kind of cowardice. Sometimes hiding and staying alive, no matter the filth one must crawl through, is the bravest thing one can do. Sometimes going into battle, knowing you have no chance to do anything but die, is every bit as cowardly as desertion. It takes more guts to live humbly than it does to die gloriously.

Clarice knows this from firsthand experience. One of the families she was placed with as a foster child had an abusive drunkard at its head. One night, he came home and was after her and her foster sister, Lily. She got them out, but Lily wanted to go back, to stand up to the bully of a man and put herself between him and the other kids. But Lily didn’t win. The man hit her so hard that she hit her head on a table and broke her neck. So much for standing up to the bully.

Now, I wonder, and hope, did the man face legal consequences for that? Did Lily’s noble sacrifice indeed protect the rest of their family? No idea. But either way, she’s dead. She got it into her head that she could stand up to her family’s tormentor, but she was young, idealistic, naĂŻve… and stupid. She was weak and she had no plan. She didn’t think to go for help, she just charged in, and paid the ultimate price. It was for a good reason, of course, for the greatest reason of protecting her family. But that wasn’t enough to save anyone, and her death has haunted Clarice ever since.

Now she sees John, the man she loves, trying to fight, to protect others, charging in against an enemy that has them completely outclassed in every way. She knows he can’t turn away from the fight, and she won’t ask him to. But she loves him too much to watch him be destroyed, too. She simply couldn’t bear it. So, she leaves.

She leaves John because she loves him, joining Erg and the Morlocks.

And the Underground is down yet another member. The Inner Circle’s active enemies can practically be counted on one hand, now, and they’re not about to stop now.

While Lorna has already turned against the Inner Circle, Andy is struggling. Specifically, after a dream-visit from Lauren, where she attacks him, for a change, and dominates, he is left rattled.

The Frosts now see Lauren as both an opportunity they could exploit and a threat to one of their own, and so they set out to either recruit or murder her. They don’t tell Andy that last part, though, just that they can help him reach out to his sister in their shared dreams. What makes Andy hesitate is how it seems like they meant to manipulate and control her, which both he and Lorna adamantly oppose. (though, with that possibility brought up, it makes one wonder just how much of the dedication of the Inner Circle’s people is genuinely their own) When they assure Andy that they won’t control her, just help him reach out to her, and, even more, when they reveal that his father’s ability is killing him and they could help him, he relents, letting them use his dreams, which will undoubtedly lead into the next episode.

As for Lauren and her parents, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the music box is rigged somehow. In addition to Andreas’ note to his descendant about the ins and outs of Fenris, it clearly does something to the minds of their descendants. Andreas mentions domination, and not only has Lauren been displaying that (the landlord, Andy, shredding cop cars, etc.) but Reed remembers it as well. He listened to the tune once, and shortly thereafter he got into a fight, which he won. Something about the music box stimulates something in their brains, both activating their powers and driving them to dominate. It did so to Lauren, teaching her a devastating new technique in her dream, but now it makes Reed’s powers activate, and he’s barely able to inject himself, using up a portion of the serum which they have so precious little of.

And then there’s Cait. Not a Strucker by blood, but by choice, and that’s often even more dangerous. When Lauren chopped cop cars to pieces, she didn’t see a daughter straying down a dark path like her son has, she saw a strong, formidable woman, one which could challenge the Inner Circle and bring Andy back. It reminds me of the good intentions that pave the way to Hell. Clearly, then, intentions are not enough. Cait’s been all over the place this season, doing horrible things in the name of getting her son back. She is obsessed with beating the Inner Circle, much like the Inner Circle is now obsessed with destroying anyone in their way.

In summary, the Inner Circle is winning, handily, in every way, on every level. They have strings everywhere, and anyone who could effectively oppose them is either wiped out or divided into camps of “run and hide” or “fight and die.” On top of this, the darkness of a previous generation is falling upon the Struckers, putting them all at risk, especially Lauren, who is about to be the Frost’s psychic punching bag.

Gotham

5.03 “Penguin, Our Hero”

…well… that was a horrifying ending.

Bruce and Selina looked to be having the more intense time for most of the episode, but it was on Gordon’s end of things that the real punch to the gut was delivered, in the end.

Selina loves being up and about again, but she’s still haunted by what Jeremiah did to her. That is a trauma that does not go away, not even when the physical hurt has been miraculously repaired. She wanted to die, and he was the one who did that to her. So, now the cat has her legs back, she goes hunting for that rat.

Bruce has been trying, of course, for over three months now. But now that Haven is up and running, there are refugees flocking to it from all over the city, bringing a wealth of new information with them. It doesn’t take so long for them to find what they’re looking for. One of the more terrified refugees tells them of the dark zone, in polar opposition to Gordon’s green zone, where bands of insane people are roaming the streets, slaughtering everyone they meet in horrific ways, like how they carved “Kill” all over his friend’s body.

So, they have a lead. Bruce is reluctant, of course, and insists that if they do this, they do it the right way. They find him, call for reinforcements as necessary, and bring Jeremiah to stand trial for what he’s done to the city. Selina doesn’t actually say that she agrees, but goes along with it.

They enter the dark zone, formerly an upper class area of town, and find one man with his throat slit in a car, and another screaming for help as he runs down the street, only to be blown up with the bomb they strapped to him. A gang of maniacal killers descends on the duo. Selina takes the big guy, and Bruce takes all the rest.

They win, fairly handily, but Selina goes a bit crazy when she’s interrogating her downed opponent. Not sure he’s one of Jeremiah’s people, he seemed pretty hostile towards him, but he does kill people in crazy ways, so he’s obviously not innocent. That makes it tough to feel sorry for him as Selina scratches him up with her claws, but it’s Selina we worry about. She’s not in her right mind at that moment, and might even have scratched her beaten enemy to death if Bruce hadn’t intervened. Again, not so concerned about the crazy murderer, but it’s not good for the soul to be the one doing that.

What Bruce and Selina find is like some sort of recruiting ground. It’s like some twisted form of mass, with a masked woman, Harley Quinn, calling upon boys and girls, grown but young, to come to Jeremiah. To see him, to join him, they must demonstrate their faith, and so some of them stand up and walk up the stairs, into another room, while the rest leave. Selina talks her way into joining that group up the stairs, while Bruce sticks to the shadows, taking out a couple thugs and finding a lot of dead bodies.

The test, it seems, is to be part of a circle of shooters, all with one bullet in their gun, Russian roulette style. (a callback to the scene where Jerome became leader of the Maniax in Season 2) Selina managed to maintain her confident swagger right up until it came to having a gun pointed at her. Of course, whatever her issues may be, she’s not crazy and suicidal, so of course her confident facade cracks at that point. Good thing too. She keeps herself from being shot. The other boys and girls are sent on, while Harley stays to deal with Selina… whom she very well knows.

Bruce figures heavily into Jeremiah’s world, and so his cult knows all about him, and about Selina. Harley wasn’t really fooled for a moment.

The two fight, with Selina having the upper hand, but Harley manages to shoot her in the leg and escape. Bruce wants to stop and patch her up, but Selina is consumed with her revenge quest, so she cuffs him and limps after her prey.

We’ll see how that turns out next week, I suppose.

Over on Gordon’s side of things, crap hits the fan as Penguin’s entire kingdom deserts him, even his dog, with singular exception to his maid. See, when we talk about being a king without a kingdom, the point is to drive home the importance of the king actually caring for his kingdom. Penguin doesn’t do that, not a bit. He drives people like slaves, underfeeds them while he lives luxuriously, demands that they constantly sing his praises whilst he steps on them, and does horrible things to them whenever they upset him. It’s a nightmare to live under a ruler like that, pretty much just waiting to die.

So, they all leave, and go to Haven.

Penguin is enraged, but doesn’t have any firepower of his own right now, it having just deserted him. As such, he uses the Street Demons, who he captured after they attacked him in response to his supposedly attacking them and two other neighboring gangs. With three gangs behind him and all his bullets at their disposal, they storm into Haven, looking to enslave everyone there.

Now, were I one of the defectors from Penguin, I would have been very certain to bring as much ammunition as could be carried. Not only would it be good to contribute, but it would enable my new protectors in my defense. But none of them thought of this, so Gordon’s bunch has just a few bullets left. When they run out, they surrender.

Were I one of the cops or the Haven refugees, I probably would have done something to ready myself and my fellows for when the bullets ran out. They have plenty of numbers, after all, it’s just a matter of getting into close quarters so the enemy’s firepower is less of an advantage. But no, instead they just give up.

Penguin takes great delight in locking Gordon up, as he’s about to take back what he thinks belongs to him. But, again, Penguin is a king without a kingdom… and now he’s immediately surrounded by his enemies who, by definition, aren’t taking his orders. He tries to keep Penn, but the gangsters laugh and say they’ll take all his people, his territory, and his bullet factory, and kill Penn. Penn’s last words to Penguin are that everyone hates him, which… why does this surprise Penguin?

Satisfying moment: Penguin is locked up with Gordon right after gloating at him.

Fortunately, Gordon is actually liked by the people he protects, including the boy, Will, who asked him to save his friends. Having done so, Will returns the favor. He gets close by leading two gangsters to a stash of alcohol, and while they rummage for it, he slips something for Gordon to cut his bindings with into the cage. He and Penguin get out, and with Penguin’s supply of bullets on hand, they take out the gangsters.

And people immediately sing Penguin’s praises. See, Cobblepot? You actually protect people, and they like you.

The people of Haven are shaken, but Gordon rallies them. This was a bad day, a tough day, and he can’t promise it won’t happen again. But they survived, and as long as they survive, so does hope in Gotham.

He finishes up by handing Will his badge, unofficially deputizing him to look after Haven when he’s not there. It’s a sweet moment.

Then comes Barbara, fetched by Bullock but very late to the party, intent on Penguin’s death. Gordon steps in the way, but how things would have turned out, we’ll never know.

An explosion destroys Haven right at that moment. All of it. Everyone inside it. Men. Women. Children. Will. All dead. All burning.

And that is the end of the episode.

As I said, horrific.

This is the second time within three episodes that a mysterious party with access to things that explode has attacked. First it was the helicopter that was bringing food and medicine. Now it’s Haven, and everyone in it. Someone out there is attacking hope itself. Part of me wants to know who it is and why they’re doing it, but another part of me just wants them put into the ground.

It could be Jeremiah, but I wonder if even he would have access to a rocket launcher, not to mention detailed intel about an incoming helicopter. Possible, but uncertain.

I’d originally thought it might be Bane, but was that him was saw getting his butt handed to him last episode, or just an underling? Either way, they looked very strapped for resources as well.

So, if it’s not either of them, or any of the usual villains… then who is it? Who is attacking Gotham’s hope?

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