This Week on TV, Feb. 23, 2018

Spoiler Alert!

Another spectacular one-two punch between The Gifted and Gotham. And I just love that I can keep saying that! 🙂

The Gifted brought us slowly down from the action of last week while increasing the emotional tension, resulting in a long-awaited return and mending of fences, the lines between friends and enemies clear again at last. Just in time for the finale!

And Gotham thrust Bruce Wayne into a personal crucible with the mad machinations of his most enduring enemy, which he needed the help of his most steadfast friends to escape from, all while everyone tries to rise from the ashes only to fall flat again, even when they win. With just a few episodes left in the series, the question of Gotham’s salvation hangs over everyone’s head.

A good week! 😉

The Gifted

2.15 “Monsters”

As much as they kept up the tension, and showed how they were all reeling from the massacre of last episode, they did, at least, give us a little relief, a moment to come down and breathe again.

Turner had the smallest part of the episode. He is finally beginning to actually process the information right in front of him. He went down into the sewers expecting to find the Morlocks set up in a terrorist camp. Instead, he found evidence that they were just people protecting their families. That’s when he starts feeling the first lick of heat from that special Hell which awaits mass murderers, and suddenlty he’s like, “Did I do something bad?” Uh, yes, Turner, you did.

What really hits him is the children. After all, he’s been on this anti-mutant crusade of his all because of his daughter, his little girl, so seeing proof of children, especially little girls, among the people he’s murdering is just a little upsetting to him. He’s off-kilter. He’s not able to lead like that, so Wilson (whom I’ve been calling Stan) sends him off to clear his head while he leads the Purifiers in helping the police round up and murder the scattered, straggling Morlocks and any other mutants they find. When Turner raises the issue of mutant children, Wilson says they’d just turn out like their parents. All mutants are monsters, after all, and humans have to kill all the monsters.

What else did Turner expect? Wilson murdered a mutant kid in cold blood just a couple episodes ago, after the boy had surrendered and agreed to be interrogated. Did Turner think mutants were never kids themselves? That they never had kids? That they just spontaneously sprung full-grown and lethal out of holes in the ground? It says something when even a willing child-killer like Wilson has put more thought into this than Turner has.

Turner uses the down time to actually research the Morlocks, and the worst thing he finds about them is an another mutant-hater who condemns them for stealing food and supplies. That’s it. That’s the worst of it, and it further indicates a population just trying to survive in hiding, in the muck and darkness, protecting their children. With the evidence in front of him and his heart wavering, Turner goes to Ryan, who brushes it all aside, like flushing shit down the drain, in favor of recent intel about a massive mutant attack coming very soon, and the Purifiers must fight on in Wilson’s memory.

Oh, yes, Wilson meets his end when he meets Reed in an alley and gloats about how they’re going to exterminate all mutants. Wrong thing to say to a stressed-out father and husband trying to save his family and happens to have the ability to make whatever he touches disintegrate. I am shedding more tears for Reed, after doing something like that, than I am for Wilson.

Things in the Underground are upended yet again. They manage to get a number of the Morlocks to the scrapyard, but they can’t possibly keep them there for very long, and plenty of them are undoubtedly caught along the way. John is devastated by Clarice’s death, immediately clashing with Erg, then punching a wall to dust, then unable to even track because his senses are overwhelmed with her, and nothing else. He has to sit this action out, which he is remorseful about later, but there is no shame in having to take some time to process, even in the middle of a crisis. Marcos, Reed, and the rest all step up instead.

Cait and Lauren are unable to get there charges to safety, so Cait makes the choice, and it is a terrible choice, to scatter. If they stay together, they all get caught, it’s true, but the Morlocks came to them for help, these kids got into her car because they trusted her in their most desperate hour, and she has failed to honor that. She makes sacrifices, and makes it look easy. It’s very unsettling, and Lauren is not comfortable with it, but it is what it is. On the other hand, when attention comes to them, and the cops are surrounding the empty factory they’re hiding in, it’s possible that they’re the ones drawing attention away from the others. That’s when Cait shows that she’s not looking out for herself, but for her daughter. She’s willing to sacrifice herself, without hesitation, to give Lauren a chance to escape.

It’s amazing, the paper-thin dichotomy between what is selfish and what is selfless.

Fortunately, not only do Lauren’s powers return, but Marcos and Reed, who is getting a handle on his abilities, arrive to get them out. Marcos hides their approach by absorbing the nearby light, though, in my opinion, the lights going off and on and off and on might attract attention too. Then Reed, with a little coaxing, makes a hole in the side of the building. They make a clean escape.

Finally, something goes right! And it doesn’t even stop there!

Reeva is happy as a clam at high tide. Massacring the Morlocks not only removed dissension, and potential competition, but it also cleared out the sewers so the Inner Circle could move through them freely. The Morlocks were literally in the way of her plans.

Reeva’s basic plan, now that the fire stoked and the iron is hot, is to strike hard and destroy the government institutions, like SS, which are their enemies. In don’t particularly mind SS being reduced to rubble and ash, but it’ll be another slaughter, followed, apparently, by the Frosts forcing people to believe that the only solution is two nations living apart from each other. Short-sighted, that, as the mutant homeland, even if successful, can be destroyed, as surely as the Morlocks camp. But short-sighted or not, it’s all going down the next day. Everyone has their job, and Lorna is the only one not entirely on board with it.

Lorna talks it over with Andy and Esme, and is a bit surprised by both conversations. Andy, it seems, learned about doing what’s necessary and making sacrifices from Lorna, like when she pulled that plane apart in the air, killing everyone on board. Esme simply doesn’t see another alternative; they do what they have to do. Maybe, but Lorna is officially out. She’s gathered all the information she can, the critical moment has arrived, and she can’t be part of what Reeva is doing.

She almost leaves Andy behind. But Reed asked her to bring him home, so she stops. She talks to him, and tells him the truth, including Reeva’s connection with Ryan and the massacre of the Morlocks at her direction. It’s all a lie, Andy realizes, and Rebecca died for it. (actually, she died trying to kill everyone and would have felt no remorse for it, but that’s a minor detail at this point) And with the truth unveiled, Andy sees himself no longer as a hero… but as a monster.

How can a monster like himself just go back home? How can he go back to the family who saw his darkness? Doesn’t he belong with the other monsters, in the Inner Circle?

“…here is a riddle to guess, if you can, sing the bells of Norte Dame: what makes a monster and what makes a man?”

Actually, one can make a number of parallels between Turner and Frollo right now, but I digress.

This week actually hit the idea of monsters and men pretty effectively. Lorna, Marcos, Clarice, Cait, even Lauren, they’ve all done some monstrous things, and now Reed has one to add to pile: he killed a man, Wilson, because he was angry and he wanted to. So, when he gets the chance to talk to Andy, and Andy shares his fearful certainty that he’s a monster, Reed is able to say, “If you are, then so am I.”

Taking that one step, to go back home to love and family after having become something you weren’t before, can be immense. Sometimes the best way to help that along is to simply say, “You won’t be alone here.”

It works. Andy returns home. The prodigal son returns at last, and he is welcomed with joy and open arms by his father, mother, and sister all.

Lorna comes back to Marcos, her ties with the Inner Circle severed, and they, too, embrace.

It’s a happy, tearful moment, and it’s not quite done.

On the roof, John stands before the storm, sharpening his tomahawk, when he hears her voice saying his name. Clarice. Rather: Blink. He acccepts her name now, and sends up a silent prayer for her return. That might even be possible, as she was in her gateway when it closed, so where she is, we do not truly know. The space between spaces, perhaps. Is she gone? Is she lingering? Is she a ghost? No idea. But it’s a moment of hope for a reunion, and in that hope, there is peace, if also longing.

Everyone joins John on the roof, including both of those who left and have come back. Lorna holds out her hand, but John hugs her instead. They are family. Family. And, after all that’s happened, all that they’ve suffered and lost and argued and fought, they stand there, fractured, but together again. Whole, despite their losses.

Now they just have to deal with the Purifiers on one side and the Inner Circle on the other. On which note, Lorna and Andy’s desertion the night before their big day does not go over well. The Frosts find Reeva questioning their value and Esme finds herself being blamed by her two sisters. Reeva dismisses the loss, however, as mostly symbolic. Establishing the mutant homeland on the foundation of two famous mutant families, the von Struckers and the Lenschers, would have been a powerful symbol. Now, it’s just a shame that they have to die. She dismisses them that easily, just like the Morlocks, and Sage, and the previous Inner Circle, and everyone else she’s killed. Now two of the Innner Circle’s founding families will end at her order. I imagine Magneto and Fenris are rolling in their graves at that.

I wonder how long before the Frosts find their number is up. Or maybe it’s part of the plan for them to die and Esme’s the rogue element in their shared consciousness that can stop it.

So, in short, everything’s gone to crap, the pivotal battle looms in next week’s season finale, and the enemy on either side will show no mercy to the Underground… yet, there is a hopeful note in how they are finally united again, and Turner is finally asking questions he should have been asking a long, long time ago.

Gotham

5.07 “Ace Chemicals”

That ending! Jeremiah would be offended to know that the best humor of the episode had nothing whatsoever to do with him, haha! We’ll get to that in a bit, though. First, the heavy, then the light.

It has been five days since Jeremiah nabbed Alfred Pennyworth, and Bruce is holding himself together rather well for being out of his mind with worry and dead on his feet. Gordon tries to bench him, make him get some rest so he’s sharp instead of a liability, but Bruce goes out searching anyway, whilst Gordon, Bullock, and Harper investigate a case.

In the latter case, they find four men with fake mustaches and Z’s carved onto their chests, and tattoos of chess pieces. They were running away from someone last night, and that someone launched a rocket with green, flesh-rotting gas at them. The tattoos are the best clue Gordon has to follow, as they identify the men as gangsters from the Narrows, so he goes to Lee.

Lee is just a little preoccupied with Barbara, who wants Lee as her doctor. It’s a strange relationship they have, mostly consisting of past hostilities but now working in service of the baby Gordon put in Barbara. Lee’s condition, however, involves Barbara talking to Gordon for a bit. He’s going to be involved in this baby’s life, and he knows Barbara isn’t exactly a candidate for Ideal Mother of the Year. Yeah, that moment of solace he took with her is exploding in their faces ever more. But, on the bright side, perhaps this is how Gordon gets his daughter, so, there’s hope!

With Lee’s help navigating the Narrows, which have been ravaged, and right after she put so much work into it, Gordon follows the Chess Boys’ trail up in the direction of near where the bodies were found. Evidently, they cleared out of the Narrows only to walk into the jaws of something even worse. Lee and Gordon find a factory, Ace Chemicals, up and running, manned by a hypnotized crew. Tetch makes his entrance, followed by Harley, during the ensuing brawl. There’s too many, and Harley really tips the scales. Captured, Gordon and Lee nearly have a moment, but they elect to focus on surviving and thwarting their enemies. Obviously, Jeremiah is still alive, and he, via a phone with a big antenna, gives Tetch instructions on the hypnotism he wants performed on them.

Bruce is a bit dazed, perhaps, but there’s no mistaking it when he steps on a newspaper with his murdered parents at its headline. He hears them, then, two people whom Jeremiah has crafted to look like them. Disoriented and tired and driven, Bruce exercises no caution whatsoever as he follows them down the tunnel Jeremiah had dug, coming out in Wayne Manor, to find Jeremiah, the fake parents, and Alfred, the former having had Tetch hypnotize the rest.

It all turns out to be a crazy scheme to “connect” with Bruce. He wants to matter to Bruce, to be the star of the show, to be the center of Bruce’s universe, the man he’s always thinking about. So he’s reenacting the murder of Bruce’s parents, the most important moment in the boy’s life, in order to take the role of the murderer for himself. Love, he knows, is not going to bind him and Bruce, so he settles for hate. He maneuvers skillfully, using bombs to keep Bruce in check for the short-term, and using Alfred to distract him as he makes his exit. Bruce barely manages to get Alfred out before the bombs go off… and Wayne Manor is reduced to rubble.

Alfred comes out of the hypnotism right about then. He’s injured, so he can’t keep up, but he can make his own way out, at least. He sends Bruce off with reassurances and follows after as quickly as he can manage. Fortunately, after Bruce’s departure but just before Alfred’s he someone else arrives at the end of the tunnel: Selina and Penguin.

Selina’s plan is simple: she and Barbara use Penguin to find a way off the island, then they kill him and take everything he’s stolen, which is most everything valuable left in Gotham. Barbara’s in, but getting out is a bit tricky, what with the river water mined and ready to blow anyone who tries crossing to kingdom come. Selina comes up with the idea of using Jeremiah’s tunnel, but that, obviously, turns out to be a dud. But with Alfred coming out, Selina is made aware of Jeremiah’s continued status as a living being and Bruce’s plight in Jeremiah’s mad scheming. She hesitates only long enough to threaten and nearly kill Penguin then and there, and then she’s off and running.

Penguin thanks Alfred by pointing him vaguely towards the Green Zone and leaves. Not a particularly gracious man, that.

Bruce arrives at the theater to find the fake parents in the audience as Jeremiah’s murderous parody of The Mark of Zorro plays on the screen (and this explains those four men with bloody Z’s carved into them). On cue, the fake parents leave, and Bruce tries to save them. Unfortunately, Jeremiah simply shoots them off-screen, and uses Gordon and Lee as stand-ins for Bruce’s parents instead.

Fortunately, Jeremiah’s meticulous attention to detail overlooked one thing that fateful night: the cat on the catwalk.

Selina arrives and saves the day, but Jeremiah’s backup plan remains in full force: he has a truck full of those rockets, and not only will they rain destruction down on the survivors of the ruined city, but it’ll bring the impending reunion of Gotham with the mainland to a standstill. With no time to disarm the rockets, Gordon drives the truck straight into the river. The reunion is forestalled anyway, but nobody else dies that night.

As for Jeremiah, he engages Bruce in a fight on a walk overhanging green vats of the chemicals. Bruce makes it clear that he thinks nothing of Jeremiah, a very strong moment, but Jeremiah lashes out so violently… he accidentally sends himself into the vat below. He survives, somehow, but he doesn’t seem to have any brain activity. Bruce and Selina stand triumphant while he lies comatose and wrapped in bandages in the hospital.

Lee and Gordon have that moment, where he confesses to her, she makes it clear that she doesn’t know what to do, he stops her from leaving only for her to slap him (as she should) and then kiss him (which she shouldn’t, I think).

Finally, back in Penguin’s corner, he goes to Riddler for help getting out of Gotham. Riddler agrees, so they can escape, but then they find Barbara at Penguin’s place, ready to shoot him dead. Riddler sees immediately that Barbara is pregnant, so Penguin quickly offers to bring her with them. Leave Gotham, with a fortune, instead of raising her baby in one of the worst hellholes on Earth? Yeah, anyone would take that deal. The plan: Penguin and Riddler will build a sub that can detect and avoid the mines. Barbara expects to be called when it’s done.

And the final line, when Penguin so nervously asked in feigned joy, “So who’s the lucky father?” And she snaps at him! Oh, there’s not really that much laughter in this show, but that was great! 😀

So, Jeremiah is finally out of the picture for awhile, the reunion is forestalled but coming, Selina and Bruce are on the same page, the criminals are plotting to escape… and we have three episodes left, I think, to cover a few hundred days, the setup for Bane returning with all those soldiers, and tie everything up to end the series with Bruce fully becoming Batman. That’s a lot of ground to cover, still!

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