This Week on TV, Mar. 2, 2019

Spoiler Alert!

This was a good week, if also a sad one.

The Gifted delivered a powerful finale for its second season. And now, if it’s renewed (which, I do not know if it has or not) we must wait months for more! 😦 Ah, well, ’tis life!

And Gotham had no less than three villains to deal with, delivering a great deal of tragedy. 😦 And how many episodes are left in the series now? Not many, I know that! So much ground still to cover, so little time! How are they going to do it?

But that’s still for the future. For right now:

The Gifted

2.16 “oMens”

I’m not sure that was the best title for this episode, but it’s a pretty awesome season finale anyway. 😉

The Inner Circle has been thrown a curve ball in the desertion of two of their most powerful and high profile members, but Reeva adapts rapidly, which is fairly effective for any leader. Too often, people can get set on completing furthering a plan, a mission, an agenda, etc. in only one way. When something comes up to make that impossible, adaptation is required and flexibility pays off. Reeva is determined enough to push forward and adaptable enough to work around and through the unexpected changes. She is formidable indeed.

With two goals in mind now, namely adapting her plans and wiping out the traitorous competition, Reeva juggles various aspects of the evolving situation with skill and grace. While the Underground determines how best to stop her, Reeva moves against them first, by calling Ryan and sending in the Purifiers, like she did with the Morlocks.

Over in the Underground camp, things are pretty straightforward. They don’t have much in the way of manpower or allies anymore, but they do know where the Inner Circle is, and they have a firm knowledge in how important it is to stop them. So, rather than challenge them to a straight up fight, a pitched battle with fallen on both sides, they elect to just use Fenris. Cait hates that idea, but her children are up for it, and the others know they have no options. Unfortunately, the Purifiers show up before they’ve moved out, with Turner at their head.

Whatever Turner’s issues with having exterminated the Morlocks were, they aren’t holding him back right now. The Purifiers, armed and armored, move with coordination, sealing off every possible escape (since Clarice isn’t there to help them), and waiting their prey out instead of invading. It’s simple and effective, and minimizes the risk. Turner is even able to reassure bystanders and his own men, and the cops won’t interfere, not since Reed killed Wilson, not that they would have helped the Underground anyway. Turner is driven, and his prey is trapped.

Always expect cornered prey to put up a fight.

Cait and Reed fetch guns from downstairs, John, Lorna, and Marcos burn evidence, and Lauren and Andy keep watch. That is, until they notice that the door is open after it was shut. Fade has come, with the Frosts in tow, to retrieve Fenris. They never stood a chance.

Reeva was able to adapt one part of her plan, using explosives instead of Lorna to knock out communications, but to take down SS national headquarters, she needs Fenris. Fade gets them in and out of the building, no matter Turner’s precious encirclement, and the Frosts mentally compel the Strucker kids to come along. They take them through the tunnels and bring them to their target. They resist, as much as they can, but even with Esme questioning things, it’s futile.

The real problem with taking down an agency headquarters, really, is that any such association can just grow a new head. The destruction is terrible (and this is the first time we actually get to see Fenris in action, what it actually looks like), and the losss of life is horrifying, but SS is an agency. It’ll just come back, which makes it all the more tragic for just how useless it will truly be, in the long run.

Still, the damage is done. Both to SS and to the Struckers, who were forcibly compelled, and now have bleeding noses.

As for the Underground, they manage to wriggle out of this very tight spot they’re in, but it’s a near thing.

John and Turner now have history between them. Turner lost him once, and Turner took Clarice from John. Thus, Turner will focus on John even as John focuses on Turner. It’s a gamble, but John manages to draw all the Purifiers towards him as he takes them all on, and then, when they turn to shoot at the car which breaks through their encirclement, he vanishes in the other direction. He’s thirsty for revenge for Clarice, but he doesn’t let it consume him.

That said, he’s on the brink anyway when Erg finds him in an alley, bleeding. These two men, they, too, have history, most of it highlighted by their disagreements. But they’ve both lost dear ones to Turner and the Purifiers, they both lost Clarice, and they both have the same determination, and the same enemies. So, John punches Erg to charge him up, then Erg takes down Turner’s crew, and John takes Turner down.

In that moment, we see something profound in these men. Both sides hate each other. Like, really, truly hate each other. They have been terribly hurt, they have had their dear ones taken from them, some of them vanishing into shadows on the streets, some swallowed in prisons and labs, and some shoved into the grave. John has been beaten down more than most, lost more than many, and Turner himself is responsible for much of it, but now that he has the man at his mercy… he refuses to kill him. Maybe it’s out of mercy, out of decency, I like to think that. Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to be like Turner, who is lashing out at the entire world, harming mostly people who had nothing to do with his daughter’s death. Or maybe, as Turner seems to want, in his heart of hearts, nothing more than to die, in hopes of seeing her again and ending his pain, John simply refuses to give him what he wants.

Whatever it is, the difference between the men is clear: one is consumed by his pain, and the other isn’t.

Cait, Reed, Lorna, and Marcos manage to catch up to the Frosts and take back Andy and Lauren. The damage to SS is done, and the young Struckers are exhausted and injured by the compulsion, but they got them back, at least. And what really makes the difference, in the pivotal moment, is that Esme wants to be free. She is an individual, no matter what her sisters say, and she appreciates free will. That was the source of her doubts earlier, and now, when Lorna taps into that and her sisters try and say she doesn’t matter, it distracts them. Marcos manages to take both of them down, though without killing them. Esme refuses to leave her sisters, but she lets the others go without further dispute.

So, John, or Thunderbird, is down, albeit with Erg to look after him, thanks to the Purifiers, and Fenris is down, thanks to the Frosts. The Underground managed to take down both sets of enemies, but they’re down to no more than four able-bodied fighters now, and they still have the Inner Circle itself to take on within its own headquarters. Steep odds, that. Still, needs must, so they do. For the first time, after dominating for the entire season, the Inner Circle has someone take the fight to them.

Marcos and Lorna are an effective pairing on the battlefield. We’ve seen that before and this is no exception. Though they inadvertently find the Inner Circle’s entire remaining crew loading up explosives, instead of already being out causing more mayhem, the two of them hold their own against the entire lot. It’s an even fight, though, which could turn either way at any moment. Their way is effectively stopped, and they can’t move forward.

One saving grace is that Fade finally gets shot, courtesy of Cait, when he attacks Reed. Cait may be a normal human, but she can still shoot straight. 🙂

This is it, the moment this entire season has been building towards, a crescendo not one but two seasons in the making. And they have one more curve ball to throw us: Reed Strucker.

The flashbacks, more than one, in this episode tell his story, as it was before the first episode of the show.

On that big day, July 15 (I think), where a mutant march turned to madness, Reed came home as quickly as he could, to his wife and children. On that day, he felt… called. Like he couldn’t sit on the sidelines of whatever was happening anymore. That was the day he decided to join the mutant-related division at the prosecutor’s office.

Years later, when Lauren called him to come get her from a party that she accidentally broke every window at, he came. He has always been out to protect his family, his children. And he told her that evening, sometimes things happen for a reason.

Many things have happened since, haven’t they? Reed has fought against mutants, he has fought for mutants, and he has wrestled with his own abilities. All of it has led him here, to this moment, and what a moment it is.

The enemy, Reeva, is able to disable people with her voice, to disrupt their control over their powers. It’s not so great as it might seem (if she were attacked from several directions, she would be at a severe disadvantage), but Reed can’t control his power anyway. Indeed, ever since he stopped taking the serum, he’s barely been holding it together, literally. So, if Reeva hits him and all that disintegrating energy is released… yes, it will kill him. And her. And everything and everyone else in the immediate vicinity.

It’s going to happen eventually, the power will kill Reed anyway. But now that they can’t properly fight their way in, they need to shift to finishing the mission, taking down Reeva, and getting out. More to the point, if Reeva dies, then the entire debacle ends, and his children are safe from her forever.

He does it.

He kisses his wife, she cries and covers him, and he goes in, alone.

Reeva, last surviving leader of the Inner Circle, waits upstairs, at the top of her tower. And who confronts her? Not the mighty Polaris, or the fierce Eclipse, or the indomintable Thunderbird, or even the terrible Fenris. It’s just Reed. A regular man, a husband and father, practically a nobody in the great games she has played. The most disappointing of them all, in her view.

Yet, ideally made by hands of fate for this very moment.

She screams at him, that mega-operatic megaphone that brings down everyone else, and he does fall to his knees. But then he gets back up, no matter how hard or how long she assaults him with her voice. His power rises, the power of the Von Strucker family which she so coveted, and here it is, all for her… in her face!

Both of them, and the upper portion of the building, are made even less than dust as he unleashes his power all at once.

Reed Strucker is dead, and his family and friends mourn. His children speak of what he died for, and it is good. He died for the things which are worth dying for. A small memorial is put together on a humble roof.

Cait, Lauren, and Andy are safe, with each other.

Erg patches John up.

Lorna and Marcos visit their daughter together.

Turner is recovering in a hospital.

Benedict Ryan suddenly confesses his crimes, with Esme mentally urging him on. I imagine this means she and her sisters got away.

Erg calls them all together to speak of helping others. As Cait says, they’ll make a new Underground.

Then John senses her coming. Out in the parking lot, Clarice pops out of a hole in time and space, with longer hair and a star-like object, perhaps a weapon, in her hand, saying she has something they have to see. One jaunt to an apocalyptic future (I assume and hope), here we come!

…aaaand that wraps us up for the Season 2! There is plenty of hate and violence and wrong to address, as there always will be, and the damage done is extensive, but the Inner Circle is dead, the Purifier leadership has been taken down, and several heroes are still standing, ready to rebuild what has been destroyed and face all the challenges of the world head-on, like a family. A very strange family. 😉

Gotham

5.08 “Nothing Shocks”

Last episode, almost everything was connected. This episode, we have three separate adventures, following the three usual plot divisions which have been so prevalent on the show: Penguin, Gordon, and Bruce. Each deals with their own supervillain of Batman mythos in a trifecta of tragedy, madness, and suspense.

In Penguin’s corner, things are a bit tense between Penguin and Riddler. Riddler has been working hard to figure out all the systems for the submarine they’re building. He’s a bit miffed because it doesn’t look like Penguin’s doing anything. Penguin protests, because he’s providing all the wealth they’re taking, but even that, as Riddler points out, was provided by his thugs, who he immediately killed. The argument is put on hold, however, when Penn arrives, alive and toting a dummy named Scarface. And Scarface holds the two men at gunpoint, demanding all the wealth Penguin has.

It’s one of the more surreal instances of madness we’ve seen on the show, I must say. Penn, at his lowest and barely alive, found a vessel on which to project everything he wants to be but believes he can never be: tough, unyielding, and dangerous. He’s been pressed down so hard for so long, especially under Penguin’s heel, that he’s suppressed all those traits, and now his near-death experience made that bubble burst, and broke what sanity he had. He is immensely frustrated at having been used like a puppet, then discarded, chewed up and spat out, but that’s what Penguin does. So now he’ll get what he wants by taking it, but he can’t do it himself, he believes, so… he has a dummy to do it for him.

Riddler knows that Penn, or Scarface or whatever, is going to just shoot Penguin and probably him too, so he airs his own frustrations, his own grievances, and forms a bridge between himself and the lunatic with a dummy and a gun. That buys some time, as Penn and Scarface discuss the merits of escaping on the sub with Riddler, just enough for Riddler to slap together a ploy. Penguin buys more time talking to Penn and Scarface, admitting his wrongs and his failings as a friend, while Riddler edges closer to his goal: the sonar he’s been working on. He presses a button, startling and stunning Penn with the sound, and Penguin pounces. The two men wrestle, but Penguin manages to shoot Scarface’s head off. That breaks Penn’s ability to be aggressive for the moment, and just to make sure it doesn’t come back, Riddler shoots Penn in the head.

All in all, it’s a rather therapeutic bonding moment for the two men. They’re practically made to be best friends with each other, a fact which makes them laugh over the body of the man they just killed.

Bruce and Alfred work have a case brought to them. There’s a shelter, some people who have been huddling together and weathering the storms of Gotham, but their safety has been violated. A woman comes to them talking about something in the sewers, people gone missing, and her husband gone to look for them with some others. Of course Bruce and Alfred aren’t going to fail to answer someone crying for help. They briefly consider telling Gordon, but Alfred thinks Gordon and the cops are spread thin as is. They do this one on their own.

Down below, in the darkness, the two of them consider the situation they’re witnessing. The sewers are right next to the river that is currently saturated with Jeremiah’s toxins, and who knows what prolonged exposure to that would do to a man? They find out soon enough, when the woman’s husband comes screaming at them, with a monster pursuing close behind. It’s not much of a Killer Croc, as of yet, but still very tall, very strong, flesh mutilated and warped, and ravenous for human flesh. It’s hard to even hurt the enemy, but Bruce improvises throwing weapons (predecessor to the Batarang), which injure it, and Alfred unleashes an unholy rain of fists on its face. Bruce actually has to pull him off.

That, as it turns out, is the result of some misplaced blame. Alfred feels like it’s his fault that Wayne Manor was destroyed, severing Bruce’s connection to the past, to his parents. As Bruce puts it, though, part of being family is being strong for each other. Wise words, and Alfred sees before him a wise young man. Bruce says he had a good teacher. Touching moment between the two of them. 🙂

So, they rescue a man, reunite him with his wife, subdue a monster… and it illustrates that spirit which will drive them to work independently of the police for the protection of the people of Gotham for many years to come. 🙂

Finally, there’s Gordon’s corner. Someone just walks into Barbara’s club and kills two retired detectives. It’s even more unusual considering that it’s Dicks that seems to have done it. You know, Bullock’s old partner from way back in the first season, the cripple stuck in a wheelchair. Makes the walking, let alone the killing, a bit unlikely.

Bullock, Dicks, and the two victims only have some sparing connection between them. They worked a case together, involving a woman who murdered her rich, rich husband. There wasn’t much physical evidence, but there was a young girl, their daughter, and it was her testimony that put her mother away forever. She, Jane, went into foster care, in and out of institutions, ended up at Arkham, supposedly dead, and in the hands of Hugo Strange. From him, she gained the ability to disguise herself so perfectly. Just one touch of the skin, and she can mimic everything about that person’s appearance.

The girl who can be anyone sees herself as no one. Thus, Jane Doe. And she’s out for revenge.

Bullock was a rookie at the time, and eager to make detective. The woman was guilty of murdering her husband. She admitted to it when she was arrested, but then she recanted. With no evidence to speak of, he leaned on the little girl to talk, and she did. That moment, that decision, caused her tremendous suffering ever since. Bullock didn’t know until it was too late, the man had abused both his wife and his daughter, so it wasn’t so cut and dry as he thought. Now the ghost of the past comes to kill all the detectives involved. The two old men at the bar were just the start. When they catch her, she changes into Bullock himself, and kills Dicks as well. Three down, one to go.

Bullock… he tries. Jane escapes by impersonating Barbara (they stretched a bit with how quickly she got out), and Bullock pursues her all the way to her home. He tries to talk her down, even gets her to show him her face, not nearly something that needs covering up. But she is adamant. The only way it ends is when one of them is dead.

As you wish, Jane.

Bullock shoots her straight through the heart.

Probably one of the roughest days Bullock has ever had, on a personal level.

So, Jane Doe, Scarface, and Killer Croc. Just another day in Gotham!

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