Sunday, May 31, 2015

iZombie 1.10: "Mr. Berserk"

“This is on us. At what point is it worse not telling him than being honest?”
- Ravi

Both Liv and Major start out this week’s episode not in a very good place. Major insists that he shot Julien and Clive asks Ravi to talk his roommate off the ledge because it really does seem like the boy is going crazy. And poor Liv is being questioned about Lowell’s death as if she were somehow involved. She is a complete wreck. She tries to get some sleep that night but the PTSD brain is still in her system and she keeps flashing back. She needs to work so insists on horning in on the current case of the week: the death of the journalist that Major worked with (the one who wrote the expose that got Major beat up in prison). Turns out the journalist was a raging alcoholic and this appeals to Liv at the time. She’s willing to drown her sorrows and numb her pain with a bottle. She also can’t deal with the idea that they may need to rule Lowell’s death a suicide (even if the evidence doesn’t support it) just so they can safely dispose of his body.

Liv’s first vision shows that the reporter wasn’t killed for foiling a break-in. That was a cover up for getting something else that the reporter had secreted away on her phone. So Liv and Clive talk to her editor and learn she was writing up an anniversary piece on a college student who went nuts and killed some classmates after drinking the Max Rager energy drink (hmmm methinks he might have been a zombie). The editor puts our duo onto the path of a college kid who knew the killer. He’s kind of pompous and arrogant. Liv sees a young woman at the guy’s apartment and flashes back to the reporter trying to talk to the girl. Liv spends the night drowning her pain in alcohol and drunkenly confronts the girl when she leaves the apartment. Clearly this woman knows something but it doesn’t look like Liv is necessarily going to get what she wants. Well, until the girl shows up at the morgue offering to tell all with the promise of immunity. The woman tells Clive and Liv that Ryan (the douchebag she was sleeping with) got jealous of the kid who went nuts and so they pranked the guy. They got him black out drunk and she pretended to be dead and they convinced the guy he’d killed her. What a stupid prank. Then again, they’re college kids. Liv and Clive pay the guy a visit to let him know that the girl is actually alive and well and they learn that he’d been addicted to the Max Rager energy drink.

Elsewhere Clive does a little checking and finds Julien at the gym looking unharmed. So he reports this back to Major and then warns that if Major doesn’t get some professional help, mandatory help may be forced on him. So Major makes the responsible decision (in his mind) to check into rehab. Ravi clearly isn’t happy with this decision since he knows for a fact that Major isn’t crazy or delusional. Ravi even suggests to Liv that it might be safer to clue Major in on Zombie Club but Liv refuses. She thinks if Major is going to rehab for a few weeks, he will at least be safe from Blaine’s clutches. Liv, still surfing the drunken wave from the latest meal hits up a bar and gets really drunk herself. Somehow she ends up calling Major to pick her up and taker her home which is kind of sweet. But they both avoid talking about what’s really bothering them. Liv wakes up the next morning and heads to work where Clive announces that they have a link to the Max Rager drink. Some of the other notations in the reporter’s notebook refer to other locations where people have gone nuts after drinking the stuff. Despite clear instruction from Clive, Liv goes to confront the CEO (played by the ever popular Stephen Weber. I swear he’s in everything these days) but she doesn’t make a whole lot of headway. She does get booted from the case by Ravi though and she ends up back at the bar where the reporter’s alleged source approaches her and asks for help.

He tells her that he’s one of two sources linked to the company, the other one is still inside. With a little digging, Liv figures out it was the CEO’s assistant (tracked down through Pilates). The assistant says she’ll help Liv but she bails and when Liv goes to find her, the first guy knocks Liv out. When she wakes up, she’s on a boat in the middle of the ocean. The real source is dead and the guy who is a mercenary, tosses her overboard. He gets ready to do the same to Liv when she goes full-on zombie and knocks him overboard with a cinder block. She thinks she’s killed him when she sort of accidentally runs him over with the boat (ouch propellers have to hurt). She ends up coming clean to Ravi about what exactly happened the night Lowell was killed. She admits her involvement and culpability in it and then she cries over Lowell’s corpse (artfully filmed so they didn’t have to actually show Bradley James). She vows to find Blaine and kill him herself the next time. She may have more than just him to worry about though because the Max Rager enforcer is also a zombie (I’m guessing he probably was one all along).

And even without Liv and Ravi spilling the beans, Major is getting closer to learning the zombie truth. In a group therapy session, he meets a guy who says he’s seen the same thing as Major and that what they’ve witnessed are zombies in Seattle. Obviously Major doesn’t quite believe him (they are in a mental hospital after all) but it’s pretty clear that his interest is at least piqued. And it would explains things about as plausibly as he’s been able to explain thus far.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.05: "Kill the Boy"

“Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy, and let the man be born.”
-Maester Aemon

Quite a lot happened in this episode of “Game of Thrones,” but I appreciated that the episode seemed more focused than typical. We spend a significant amount of time on about four plotlines instead of constantly switching between stories and spending only a few minutes with each character. I appreciated that the episode wasn’t as disjointed as these middle-of-the-season episodes can sometimes be. I enjoyed having enough time to get immersed in the story before moving on to the next. This was achieved by spending no time in King’s Landing or Braavos. We instead only spent time in Meereen, Valeria, Castle Black, and Winterfell. That’s still a lot, but not as chaotic as some episodes have been. I enjoy my King’s Langing intrigue as much as any “Game of Thrones” fan, but the focus of this episode made up for the lack of King’s Landing.

I found the Northern plots in this episode to be the most compelling. At Castle Black, Sam tells Maester Aemon about the troubles Daenerys is facing in Meereen (more on that in a bit), and the Maester, who is a Targaryen himself, laments that once he dies, Dany will be the only Targaryen in the world. Jon interrupts this conversation because he needs the Maester’s advice. He wants to make an alliance with the Wildlings, because he thinks that is the only way he will have sufficient numbers to take down the White Walkers. Maester Aemon encourages Jon to be bold in his leadership, so he approaches Tormund, the new leader of the Wildlings. Jon offers the Wildlings land south of the Wall in exchange for their help. Tormund is open to the idea, but he says Jon is going to have to present the idea to the Wildlings himself. There’s a contingent of the Night’s Watch that really hates the idea of negotiating with the Wildlings, but Jon is determined to move forward with the plan. As Jon and his contingent head north to speak to the Wildlings, Stannis and his army decide to head south and march on Winterfell.

We also spend a decent amount of time at Winterfell in this episode. It’s kind of nice to be back in Winterfell, which figured so prominently in season one and then tragically fell in the second season. I think this might be sort of how Sansa feels in this episode. She’s very happy to be home, although she is disconcerted by the fact that her home is now populated with completely unfamiliar people. Anyway, Brienne and Pod are staying at a place just outside of Winterfell, and she asks an old man to smuggle a message inside the castle for her. When we see Sansa, she’s in her chambers, and an elderly woman, perhaps a maid, delivers the message to her. She tells Sansa that someone wants her to know she’s not alone, and if she ever needs help, she should light a candle at the top of the broken tower. This gives Sansa comfort that I’m not sure she realized she needed.

Meanwhile, we also meet Ramsay’s lover, Myranda, in this episode. She is the kennelmaster’s daughter, and she is definitely the jealous type. Ramsay also isn’t the type to let his plaything go just because he’s supposed to marry somebody else to preserve the Bolton family dynasty. We also see that Ramsay’s sexual proclivities run towards the more . . . dominant end of the spectrum. Anyway, Sansa is standing outside the broken tower, contemplating the message she received, when she is approached by Myranda. Myranda says there is a surprise waiting for her at the very back of the kennel. Sansa goes along with this for a reason I don’t quite understand. At the back of the kennel, she finds Theon, now in Reek form. Theon later tells Ramsay about this encounter, and he cowers because he knows Ramsay will not be happy about this news. Ramsay tells a sobbing Theon that he “forgives” him.

The Boltons hold a “family” dinner, including Sansa, and Ramsay decides that Theon should serve as wine bearer. Ramsay makes a big show of how he has changed Theon into Reek, has Theon apologize to Sansa for killing Bran and Rickon (if only she knew what really happened), and says he will give her away at the wedding. Roose thinks his son is getting a bit too full of himself, so he uses the opportunity to make a big announcement himself. His (fairly new) wife, Walda (née Frey) is pregnant, and the Maester thinks it will be a boy. This is a threat to Ramsay, because he was created heir, for most of his life, he was a bastard. A trueborn son could have a real claim to the Bolton holdings. Later, Roose and Ramsay talk about this, and Roose makes it clear that Ramsay will continue to be heir as long as he behaves himself.

Romance is (sort of?) in the air as Dany and her followers mourn the death of Ser Barristan. Missandei has been watching over Grey Worm as he recovers, and when he wakes up, she tells him the news. Grey Worm admits he feared he would never see Missandei again, and Missandei silences him with a kiss. As she looks on as Ser Barristan lies in state, Dany decides to take decisive action in response to the latest attack. She orders representatives from all the great Meereenese families, including her (disgraced) advisor Hizdahr, brought to the caves where she keeps her dragons. She gives a demonstration of the power of the dragons by burning one of the men from the great families, and she asks them all whether they would like for the dragons to serve out justice.

After the dragon demonstration, Daenerys continues to struggle with whether she should punish the Meereenese or show them mercy. She asks Missandei’s advice, and Missandei basically tells her to trust her instincts. Dany visits Hizdahr, and she tells him that she is finally going to take his advice and reopen the fighting pits. Dany gives a big speech to the Meereenese, where she announces that the fighting pits will be reopened, but only free folk will be allowed to fight. There will still be no more slavery. Furthermore (and more surprisingly), she announces that to further solidify her bond with the Meereenese, she is going to marry a member of one of their great families. As in Hizdahr. Because that will end well.

Finally, Jorah and Tyrion are still on their way to Meereen, where Jorah intends to deliver Tyrion to Dany and win back her favor. He decides to navigate their boat through old Valerya, Dany’s ancestral homeland. He says that pirates usually stay away from Valerya, so it’s a good choice and not related to wanting to impress Dany at all. Dany’s dragon, Drogon, flies overhead, which I don’t think either of the men expected. They also didn’t expect to be attacked by a band of Stone Men who have been infected with greyscale, the most feared disease in Westeros (and Essos too, I suppose). Jorah fights the attackers, but Tyrion is still tied up, so he ends up getting pushed overboard. Jorah rescues Tyrion and gets them both to shore. When he gets a moment alone, though, Jorah examines his wrist and discovers that he also now has greyscale.

iZombie 1.09: “Patriot Brains”

“We eat people. And I wanted you to know that I get it. I was a coward. I didn’t want to know.”
- Lowell

This week picks up pretty much right where the last episode left off. Liv’s in the elevator and she sees Blaine come to deliver some fresh brains to Lowell. After a quick stop at the morgue where she freaks out and rants at Ravi a bit, she goes back to confront Lowell. He says that when he got turned by Blaine, he was starving and desperate. He never really got super violent visions and not all the victims were young so he didn’t realize what was going on. Liv isn’t buying it. She doesn’t have time to process because Ravi calls her out to a case at a paintball field.

Before the gang arrives on scene, we see that a group of people are playing paintball and a body is found. It belonged to an Army Ranger Sniper named Everett. He’s been shot once through the neck and the CSI guys identify that the shot came from high up in a nearby tree. Liv—grateful to not have to see more of one of Major’s homeless kids getting murdered—eats the guy’s brains and gets very military. She and Clive first bring in Everett’s ex-wife and her new husband (whom she met while Everett was deployed). The husband (played by one Wallace Fennell) has a pretty solid alibi for the time of death but the ex-wife is a little shaky. When they go to question the daughter (who is quite young) Liv gets a vision of Everett having some kind of outburst and his ex-wife has to threaten him with a knife to get him to leave.

While all of this is going on, Ravi tries to check in on Major and tempt him with some video games. Major has been learning out how to shoot a gun and studying up on brains. He thinks the zombie guy he fought (obviously he doesn’t know about the zombie part) is eating human brains to stimulate growth hormones or something. So of course, Major goes to the gym where the guy works out and ends up convincing one of the trainers that he is up for anything, including brain eating. Yeah that’s really not going to end well!

Later that night, Liv is having flashbacks thanks to Everett’s PTSD. So instead of staying in bed, she goes out running and to the paintball range where she handily takes out everyone. Ravi points out she had an unfair advantage and then they have a really important conversation that kind of serves two purposes. They discuss how Liv knew she was a zombie from the word go (brain craving) and what she’d have done if she hadn’t gotten the job at the morgue with access to food. First, this is Ravi trying to point out that Lowell didn’t know where Blaine go the brains and also, Ravi got bitten by the zombie rat and since he hasn’t had any brain cravings it probably means he is ok. Clive chooses this moment to come by and steal Liv away for a trip to Everett’s place to find a journal his psychiatrist wanted him to keep. They find the journal but it’s basically empty. But Liv finds Everett’s sniper rifle kit and gets another flash of Everett’s little brother (through the mentoring program) handling the weapon.

It turns out that the kid is something of a red herring. Sure he has some emotional and anger issues but he’s not the killer. Thanks to some police work, Clive and Liv go talk to Everett’s ex-wife’s neighbor who filed a report after seeing Everett speed out of there with the ex-wife threatening to kill him. He also thinks that her new husband has been messing with his sprinklers and stuff. As luck would have it, her new husband designs drones that are supposed to deliver products in a day and he ended up killing Everett to get the promotion at his new job and solve the custody battle. Bad move, Wallace!

So at least the case has been solved. But there is still plenty left going on in the lives of these characters. Blaine has a meeting with a rich zombie who wants to eat the brains of an astronaut because he never got the chance to be one thanks to Blaine. And Blaine sends the zombie who beat up Major to finish the job. Major thinks he gets the upper hand and shoots the guy three times but when Clive shows up the body is gone. I guess it’s not so easy to kill a zombie. Apparently it has to be head shots (as we’ve seen Blaine do in the past). Clive questions whether Major is off any meds he should be on. Clearly Major is not having a very good season. He is seriously spiraling out of control and I can’t imagine what is going to happen when he finds out the truth.

And last but certainly not least, Lowell shows up at Liv’s place with the brain of a guy who he dug up from the cemetery. He admits that he didn’t want to know and he was a scared but he loves Liv and wants to be with her. Besides, if he continues on Blaine’s meal plan, he’ll be broke within a year. Lowell thinks Blaine turned him because Blaine likes his music (Blaine, we learn, is a huge Kurt Cobain fan). Liv decides that the only way to solve this problem is to kill Blaine once and for all. So Lowell invites Blaine over to jam the next day and Liv breaks into Everett’s apartment to acquire his rifle. But in the end, her Hippocratic Oath gets in the way and she can’t go through with it. Lowell, poor sweet boy, decides to take matters into his own hands and tries to stab Blaine (after he also sees one of the homeless kids get murdered by Blaine). Blaine is ready for him and pulls a gun, shooting Lowell in the head. So I guess he’s dead. Which makes me so sad because there was so much more to do with his character and his relationship with Liv. But I guess now that gives Liv even more reason to go after Blaine.

Friday, May 29, 2015

iZombie 1.08: "Dead Air"

“I don't even need to be this attractive. It's just icing.”

So Comcast On Demand screwed up and numbered this episode of “iZombie” as episode nine while they numbered the next episode, where some major shit goes down, episode 8. So I saw said major shit go down, then I had to backtrack and figure out how we got there. It has probably skewed my perspective on this episode a bit. This episode was much lighter and more of a typical (thus far) “iZombie” episode than its successor. It was a pretty straightforward murder mystery. The special zombie power of the episode is pretty straightforward, too (Liv basically becomes a relationship/sex expert and starts overanalyzing everyone’s relationships, including hers), although the effects of the special zombie power are more interesting in this episode than the last.

Our victim this week is a radio talk show sex therapist named Sasha who hosts a morning show called Good.Morning.Sex. Liv happens to be listening to it on the way to work (she’s not a regular listener), and she is continuing to listen to it at work when something crazy happens. A crazy caller called Cheated on in Chattanooga accuses Sasha of having an affair with her husband, and she threatens to kill her. Sasha grabs her microphone, and within seconds, she is electrocuted to death. Liv and Ravi, naturally, are on the case. The other main personalities attached to the case are Jane, the radio show producer who is convinced she is destined for bigger things, and Callie, Sasha’s put-upon personal assistant. Liv, who is kind of at a relationship crossroads and just ate Sasha’s brain, volunteers to listen to about 30 hours of audio from Sasha’s show for clues.

As I said, Liv is kind of at a relationship crossroads. We learn early in the episode that Liv and Lowell have been having quite a lot of sex. Liv is excited that she is finally able to have physical contact with someone else again. It’s not something she ever expected after becoming a zombie. The influence of Sasha’s brain, however, seems to make her overanalyze the relationship. She’s upset by the fact that if they hadn’t both become zombies, she and Lowell probably never would have met yet alone become lovers. They have nothing in common. There are other aspects of Sasha’s personality that are helpful to Liv in the relationship department, though. Lowell definitely seems to appreciate the sex expert part of it, for sure.

Liv also decides to try analyzing her friends’ relationships. Both Ravi and Major experience big relationship status changes in this episode. Ravi is waiting at the police station to pick Major up after Major’s arrest (and subsequent beat-down in the holding cell), and he’s been waiting for quite a while when Peyton saves him by lawyering the desk officer. According to Ravi, it was a “moment” between them, and he spends most of the episode trying to get Liv to set them up. Liv says that Peyton is pretty much perpetually dating someone, and never guys like Ravi, so he shouldn’t get his hopes up. Liv does talk to Peyton, though, and she finds out that even though she’s being pursued by three guys who aren’t Ravi, she considers herself single. Ravi eventually gets up the courage to call Peyton and ask her out, and Liv encourages her to go for it. In other relationship news, Major’s annoying girlfriend breaks up with him after the jail stint. Thank goodness (even though I really don’t want Liv and Major to get back together).

There are, as per usual, a couple red herrings to deal with before Liv and Babineaux crack the case of the week. The first suspect is Chuck, a rival morning show shock jock who mostly focuses on sports and saying horrible things about women. He’s so horrible that he’s a caricature, really. Liv has a flashback of Chuck’s wife throwing a drink in Sasha’s face, and she realizes that Sasha and Chuck were sleeping together. Which is pretty gross, even if all the misogyny of Chuck’s show was just for entertainment effect. Chuck says his wife couldn’t have possibly been “Cheated on in Chattanooga” because she was a mail order bride and couldn’t possibly have gotten the accent write. Chuck is nothing if not always classy. Liv and Clive also figured out that Sasha once slept with her assistant, Callie’s, husband, too. For someone who plays a relationship expert on the radio, her relationships in real life sure are messed up. I believe awesome TV critic Dan Fienberg would call that vocational irony.

The actual culprit turns out to be producer Jane. Jane has ambitions for a career behind the mic herself, and when Sasha found out that Jane was trying to leave the show, she blacklisted her with every radio station on the West Coast. Jane was devastated by this, so she murdered Sasha. Liv figured it out when she realized a commercial on one of the archived shows she was listening to had been doctored. Anyway, Jane is caught when in the middle of broadcasting Sasha’s memorial episode. She’s not the world’s best DJ, for sure, and fans start calling in and berating her. Babineaux arrests her on the air, as well, which makes her first show even more of a smashing success. Jane is, as you’d probably expect, given her history, unrepentant.

There’s some interesting stuff happening in the zombie underworld in this episode, too. Liv pays a visit to Major after finding out about the break-up, and he’s more freaked out about the Candyman than he is about the break-up. He’s been researching brains on the Internet, and when Liv (understandably) asks why, he mentions the brain in the cooler he found in the Candyman’s car. Liv tries to be supportive but also warn Major off of investigating further. Major is determined, however, to figure out what happened to his kids. Elsewhere in Seattle, Blaine and Lieutenant Suzuki have a meeting. We learn that the bodies of all the missing kids were moved to the farm in the last episode to serve as a distraction from Blaine’s business. Lieutenant Suzuki, however, wants nothing more to do with Blaine’s business. Blaine doesn’t approve of this, though, of course. At the end of the episode, Liv makes a horrifying discovery. She is eating some of Lowell’s breakfast when she has a vision of Blaine killing one of the shelter kids. She also sees Blaine outside carrying a cooler. Lowell is one of Blaine’s customers, and he’s been eating Major’s kids.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.20: "Scars"

“I never lost control.”
“Skye’s living proof that you did.”
-Coulson and May

The penultimate episode of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” felt very much like a Shakespearean tragedy to me. I mean that in the sense that there is this foreboding permeating everything. You can see the players in the game all making choices that are inevitably leading towards destruction and conflict. I suppose Raina’s visions add to this sense, because she’s warning people of the bad things that are coming (even if they are no longer listening to her). Listening to her warnings, the viewers can see all the events clicking into place to make her visions come to pass. Many of the characters have been scarred (nice tie-in to the episode title, right?) by the events that have taken place since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and those circumstances are affecting how they all proceed forward in making contact with the Inhumans. It’s really quite sad to watch it all unravel.

This episode deals with the fall-out of Lincoln being rescued from the Hydra base. He wakes up at S.H.I.E.L.D., and he’s not happy about it. He doesn’t trust them, and probably for good reason. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to index anybody with powers, and the Inhumans very much want to remain under the radar. I can easily see that they would rather not have a big behemoth of an organization like S.H.I.E.L.D. knowing details about them. Skye tries to convince Lincoln that her S.H.I.E.L.D. friends, at least, are cool, but it becomes apparent that she is starting to believe that less and less. Her loyalties are truly torn between her S.H.I.E.L.D. family and her Inhumans family. It also becomes clear as the episode progresses that if forced to choose, she would probably choose the Inhumans. Blood is thicker than water, after all, and S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t doing much to retain her loyalty. They sort of just expect it of her. Or they expect her to not be loyal.

Importantly on the S.H.I.E.L.D. front, Coulson and Gonzales arrive at a détente. They agree that Coulson will remain Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. while Gonzales and his crew will act as an advisory counsel (apparently Fury had a counsel as well). Gonzales seems more inclined to put up with Coulson now that he knows (spoiler alert for Age of Ultron) that Theta Protocol was basically just keeping a helicarrier in mothballs out of sight in case of emergency. Coulson could use a base, and Gonzales could use a helicarrier, so the agreement is mutually beneficial. Not everyone is happy with the new arrangement, though. By the end of the episode, Mack has resigned from S.H.I.E.L.D. He is still traumatized from his own experience being under alien control, so he refuses to work under anyone else who has been under alien control. Coulson continues to insist that he is in complete, control, but it becomes more and more apparent that isn’t the case.

The event that brings the conflict between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the INhumans to a head is, unsurprisingly, the product of one of Raina’s visions. She sees a very dangerous stone of Kree origin. As we later learn, that stone is the mysterious object Gonzales had in storage that Coulson essentially used as a bit of blackmail. Raina, Gordon decide to go look for the stone. When Gordon teleports, we discover that the stone is actually on Gonzales’ ship, where most of our gang is located right now. They confirm that the stone is in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s possession, and that freaks the Inhumans out almost as much as Gordon’s teleporting ability freaks out Gonzales and his cronies. Gonzales and Weaver especially are very, very wary of the fact that Gordon was just able to teleport aboard their ship with no trouble. It makes them even more determined to index all the Inhumans.

Clara appeals to Coulson to let her try to talk to Jaiying first before S.H.I.E.L.D. barges into Afterlife to start indexing. Both Coulson and May are shocked when Skye tells them that Jaiying is her mother. Gonzales and his minions had been questioning Skye’s loyalty for a while, but I think this is when Coulson and May really start questioning. Simce they have been serving as Skye’s de facto parental figures for the past couple years, I think they take her discovery of her biological mother as a sort of personal threat. I think this may somewhat cloud their judgment. It makes May more mistrustful of the Inhumans (I guess because Jaiying is usurping her role), and it makes Coulson less likely to interfere, because he doesn’t want to outwardly appear partial.

In Afterlife, Raina tells Gordon that she has had another vision. She sees Quinjets firing on Afterlife. She tells Gordon that Jaiying should not be the Inhuman to negotiate with the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who are on their way. Raina thinks that Jaiying will be the cause of the S.H.I.E.L.D. attack. When Gordon asks Raina who she thinks should talk to S.H.I.E.L.D. instead, she suggests herself. Throughout the episode, Jaiying and Gordon have been told by people like Cal that Raina, in her pre-transformation life, could not be trusted. She is characterized as a master manipulator. Of course, then, when she suggest herself as negotiator, this sets off alarm bells for Gordon. Instead of going along with Raina’s plan, he warns Jaiying, who locks Raina up and insists on continuing on as negotiator.

Coulson had planned to be the negotiator on the S.H.I.E.L.D. side, but he gets outvoted by Gonzales and the rest of his cronies in favor of Gonzales himself being the negotiator. Because choosing a paranoid bigot as your negotiator will always end well. May is among those who vote in favor of Gonzales. She’s still holding a grudge against Coulson, which I think is ridiculous. She has certainly withheld information from him in the past, big time. It’s not like Coulson was seeing Andrew to gossip about May – he needed a therapist. May needs to get a grip or she will no longer be one of the characters that I like on this show. Anyway, Coulson backs down and lets Gonzales be the negotiator because he’s really trying to mend fences and continue with a functional S.H.I.E.L.D. at this point. With both Jaiying and Gonzales appointed negotiators, this is where everything starts to take on that Shakespearian tragedy feel.

Several Quinjets head for Afterlife with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. One of those Quinjets appears to contain Bobbi and May. As they’re approaching Afterlife, Bobbi notices that the autopilot seems to have been changed. The place where they’re landing isn’t anywhere near where they are supposed to be. We then find out that May is actually Agent 33, wearing the May setting on her nanomask. Bobbi figures this out too, and a rather epic fight ensues. Unfortunately for Bobbi, 33 has arranged for the flight to meet up with Ward, and she and Ward between them manage to tie Bobbi up with some duct tape. Agent 33 feels betrayed by Bobbi, and she is definitely ready to enact some revenge.

Gonzales arrives in Afterlife, and things seem cordial enough at first. He presents Jaiying with a gift – a charm she had made for Skye that got left behind during the big attack back when Skye was a baby. Jaiying seems to be grateful for this. Gonzales then points out that he uses a cane, and he tries to compare the scars each of them bear from their contact with Hydra. Jaiying takes great offense to this, because she was brutally tortured by Hydra, while Gonzales basically suffered one battle wound. She offers him a gift in exchange. It is a crystal used for Inhuman transformation that still contains traces of Diviner metal. This isn’t a problem for Inhumans, but it kills humans. And it kills Gonzales. He tries to point a gun at Jaiying, but he turns to stone too quickly. Jaiying then takes the gun and shoots herself in the shoulder with it. She then rushes outside, claims Gonzales attacked her, and declares all-out war on S.H.I.E.L.D. And so the tragedy begins.

Upfronts Round-Up 2015: Our Picks

Well folks,it’s that time of year again. The broadcast networks have announced their fall line-ups (and their mid-season replacements) in the hopes of securing the ever-crucial ad dollars from advertisers that allow TV shows to be on air. And as usual, we’ve picked six shows that we think look particularly promising.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
Midseason on the CW

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow is the latest spin-off of both Arrow and The Flash. Airing at midseason, this new series gathers heroes (Sara Lance, Ray Palmer and Martin Stein) and villains (Captain Cold and Heat Wave) and tasks them with fighting off an immortal evil in the future. The team is assembled and led by time traveler Rip Hunter (played by Arthur Darvill of Doctor Who fame). Funny that our dear Rory is back as a badass! This latest iteration employs more fantastical elements than Arrow but has the opportunity to bring back beloved characters like Sara and take some of the characters that don’t fit quite as well on their parent shows (Ray, Cold and Heatwave) and give them a chance to grow. Given the popularity of its parent franchise, there is a strong possibility that the network will push the marketing on this show to ensure it succeeds wherever it appears at midseason.

Midseason on Fox

Before seeing the trailer, Lucifer didn’t sound quite as interesting as it is portrayed on screen. The premise follows the Devil (played by Tom Ellis, the original Robin Hood on Once Upon a Time) as he gets fed up with ruling Hell and defects without warning to Los Angeles where he meets Chloe Dancer, a pretty cop, (Lauren German from Chicago Fire) who seems immune to his powers. After someone close to Lucifer dies, he teams up with Detective Dancer to punish criminals. While not exactly like last season’s NBC’s Constantine, Lucifer, has a similar narrative tone and feel. Whether the premise and the characters bring viewers back week after week remains to be seen. The network also has to contend with the over-saturation of the comic-book adaptation market. Still, the trailer is enough to warrant checking out a few episodes when it finally graces our screens.

Mondays at 8 on CBS

Supergirl didn’t really interest either of us when the television blogosphere was talking about it in the abstract, but the trailer was quirky enough to capture our interest. The show follows Kara Zor-el (Melissa Benoist)l, Superman’s cousin who also has superpowers. When we first see her, though, she’s not really using her superpowers. She works as a personal assistant in a very “Devil Wears Prada”-type situation. An emergency leads her to use her superpowers, and the story takes off from there. It should be interesting to watch Kara begin to assert herself and embrace her true nature. There is definitely the potential for a satisfying character arc, which isn’t always the case with CBS fare, which tends to be more procedural.

Mondays at 10 on NBC

Set in New York City, Blindspot follows a beautiful Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) covered in intricate tattoos as she fights to solve crimes along with FBI Agent Kurt Weller and recover her own memory. This is one of several procedural with a twist offerings for the 2015-2016 season. From what’s been shown thus far, the writers and cast deliver intriguing visuals and compelling storylines that almost evoke remnants of the character Alexander played on Kyle XY. Time will tell whether the format relies more heavily on the case-of-the-week (spurred by each of Jane’s tattoos) or if it will be a solid mix of case work and mythology. Given the other shows we find of interest here at More TV, Please, Blindspot should be a good fit.

The Muppets
Tuesdays at 8 on ABC

We’ll admit, we were initially a bit skeptical about ABC’s “Muppets” reboot. “The Muppet Show” is a classic, and rebooting it as a modern documentary-style comedy just seemed a bit wrong. Yes, The Muppets will be a documentary-style comedy like “The Office” or “Modern Family,” focusing on relationship drama between our favorite Muppets. Miss Piggy should be in her element, at least. The trailer actually looks fun and in keeping with the spirit of the Muppets. This show will be paired in ABC’s schedule with sophomore comedy “Fresh off the Boat,” which should make for a very entertaining Tuesday night overall for ABC.

Sundays at 9 on ABC

Oil, set in a remote area of North Dakota, looks like it could be a good soapy addition to ABC’s brand. What intrigued us was the casting of Scott Michael Foster, of “Greek” and “Once Upon a Time” fame, as the incompetent son of oil tycoon Hap Briggs. Besides the Briggs family, it appears that the show will also focus on Billy and Kelly LeFever, a young couple who give up everything to get to North Dakota for a chance to strike it rich. While this wasn’t exactly the most slick trailer of the bunch, it set up the location and potential major plots well. It could be good, soapy fun in the same vein as Nashville and Empire. Or at least we hope so!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

New Girl 4.22: "Clean Break"

“Now I am going to my room, and I am considering throwing out my sunglasses.”

“Clean Break” was another great season finale for “New Girl.” It doesn’t matter how many missteps the creative team makes during the season (and there were definitely some this season…I’m looking at you, Fawn), they always seem to pull it together for a solid season finale. Coach left the loft for good (we think), which wasn’t a huge surprise, given that the news Daymon Wayans, Jr. was leaving the show has been out there for a long time. The real shock was where the end of the episode found Schmidt and Cece. I wonder if that development will stick, and I hope it does, just because I don’t want to see those particular characters moping around anymore. Surprisingly (sort of), the episode did not end with Nick and Jess back together, although they do seem to be going down that road. That’s another situation where if they get back together, I want it to be for good this time. We will be five seasons in at that point – it’s time.

In this episode, Coach is preparing for the big move to New York City. Growing up as a military brat, Coach has a way of coping with frequent moves that he calls the “clean break” system. He takes one duffel bag of essentials with him to the new location, and he gets rid of everything else. It is quickly apparent that this doesn’t just include material possessions. Coach emotionally copes with moving by making a clean break with the people he knew in his old town. He doesn’t want to take things with him that have sentimental value, such as a crepe pan he and Winston bought from an infomercial late one night. Jess, however, wanted to make more of a production of Coach’s going away. She tried to do this whole goodbye production set to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” but the other guys (except for Winston, who actually tries) kind of ruin it. Speaking of Winston, Lamorne Morris, as always, is on fire in this episode.

Inspired by Coach, Schmidt and Nick decide to try and do a clean break, too, and cull their possessions. Schmidt breaks out his “Cece Box,” which contains a bunch of stuff that reminds him of Cece. Schmidt, understandably, has trouble with the idea of getting rid of his memories of Cece, and Winston and Jess fret over whether to tell him that Cece is still in love with him. Cece is off climbing Mount Shasta, so Winston and Jess try to leave her a voicemail to let her know that Schmidt and Fawn broke up. Winston’s voicemail is especially epic (it’s full-on Winnie the Bish). Jess still doesn’t want to tell Schmidt what is going on, though, because she doesn’t want to meddle. She has learned her lesson recently that meddling in her friends’ love life doesn’t end well.

When going through Nick’s stuff (including an ant farm filled with candy wrappers…yeah), the gang uncovers Nick and Jess’ “sex mug.” When they were together, they would leave the mug out on a table to signal they wanted to have sex. Winston, always the good cop, says he saw the mug out on the table just last week. Nick says he left it out, but nothing happened. In private, Jess admits to Nick that she was the one who left the mug out. The whole conversation is super awkward, so Jess escapes to go knit a scarf for Coach. Later, she explains to Nick exactly why she left the mug out. It had been a long day, she was drinking pink wine, Nick had just been (sort of) working out, and she was seriously turned on. Jess then asks Nick if she ever does anything that makes Nick want to leave the mug out. Nick says “no,” and Jess is understandably very upset by this. Even if she’s not really wanting to be in a relationship with Nick right now, everyone wants to feel desirable.

Elsewhere in the loft, Winston and Coach fight over that crepe pan I mentioned earlier. Coach really doesn’t want to take anything extraneous, including memories, with him. Winston basically calls Coach on the fact that this whole “clean break” thing means that the roomies must not have actually meant anything to Coach. Eventually, Coach decides to pack a suitcase instead of a duffel bag, and Winston is very happy when he hears the crepe pan rattling around in the suitcase. Coach then starts randomly tossing other stuff (like a blanket) that reminds him of the other roomies into the suitcase. When he gets to the point of deciding to take the remote control, both Coach and Winston start crying. They reminisce over how Winston always accidentally hit the “info” button, but Winston swears it wasn’t an accident and that he “actually want[s] to know more about the cast and crew.”

Schmidt decides to put the entire Cece Box in a donation bin, but as soon as he does so, he regrets it. He tries to break into the donation bin to retrieve the Cece Box, but it is locked tight, and it looks like he can’t get it back. As he is in a rather compromising position, an employee of the charity running the donation bin, Wally, arrives on the scene to collect the donations. Wally is played by Jack McBrayer of “30 Rock” fame. Schmidt asks Wally for the Cece Box back, and when Wally refuses, the situation escalates into a full-on physical fight between Schmidt and Wally. Eventually, Schmidt prevails.

Back at the loft, Nick finally opens up to Jess and tells her that there are plenty of times he has wanted to put out the mug, especially when she gets out of the shower in a little towel. They are actually having a good conversation when Schmidt interrupts to tell them he got the box back. Jess still doesn’t want to directly meddle, so she uses the loophole of directly telling Nick with Schmidt also in the room that Cece is still in love with Schmidt. Schmidt is ecstatic, and he runs off. Schmidt opens the door to the loft, and Cece is there. She says she got all the voicemails and got back down the mountain as fast as she could. Schmidt reminds Cece of the time he gave her a five dollar bill and joked that he was going to marry her one day. He then produces that same bill (which was in the Cece Box) and proposes. Cece, of course, says “yes.” While I kind of question if Cece should go back to someone who has treated her pretty badly, I’m mostly just happy that she won’t be moping around over Schmidt anymore. You get yours, Cece!

In a tearful scene set to “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart, Coach and May leave Los Angeles for their new life in New York. Back inside the loft, Nick and Jess decide to throw out the sex mug. Later that evening, though, they each see that it is no longer in the trash can. Presumably each thinks the other rescued the mug from the trash, and therefore their relationship isn’t entirely over. It is actually Winston who took the mug, though. He thought it would make a good water receptacle for Furguson. I have hope, however, that since Nick and Jess both seemed happy at the idea that the mug was rescued, they will eventually get over their issues (and Nick will grow up), and they will get back together. It’s nice to end the season with a little hope.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.04: "Sons of the Harpy"

“He’s a dangerous man. But even the most dangerous men can be outmaneuvered. And you’ve learned to maneuver from the very best.”

I didn’t really see anything tying together the many plots of “Sons of the Harpy” thematically, but they were all interesting vignettes that suggest more drama in the coming weeks. We spent time with Sansa, Jon, Tyrion, and Cersei as all the machinations towards control of Westeros continued, albeit incrementally. We also got to know a little more about Dorne, particularly the Sand Snakes, the female warriors who considered themselves “daughters” of Oberyn, who was killed in Tyrion’s trial by combat last season. I do always enjoy spending time in Westeros, and this episode contained some excellent character work, but other than a very significant fight at the end of the episode, there wasn’t a lot of action in this one. I’d like to see the action pick up soon. Then again, a good friend once described reading “A Song of Ice and Fire” as reading thousands of pages and then realizing that not much actually happened (he’s still a fan of the books, for the record).

Let’s start with the requisite King’s Landing drama and machinations this time. Cersei is still feeling mighty threatened by Margaery, so when the need arises to negotiate with the Iron Bank of Braavos over some money the Crown owes, Cersei decides to send Margaery’s father, Mace Tyrell, to conduct the negotiations. She also sends Ser Meryn, her Kingsguard minion, along for the ride, presumably to keep Tyrell in line. This gets at least one Tyrell out of Cersei’s hair. Then, Cersei takes a meeting with the High Sparrow and agrees to provide weapons to the Sparows. Because arming religious fundamentalists (of any religion) always ends well. The Sparrows raid one of Littlefinger’s brothels and arrest Loras for being gay. Queen Margaery, understandably, is pissed off that her brother has been arrested, but her teenage King, as much as he wants in Margaery’s pants, can’t really do much about the situation. If he tried to have his Kingsguard attack the Sparrows, it could start a riot. Margaery decides she needs to go spend some time with her grandmother.

We also pay another visit to Castle Black in this episode, where Jon is still settling into his role as Lord Commander, and Stannis and Melisandre are still desperately trying to win him (and the Night’s Watch) to their cause. Jon is signing requests to the noble Houses for more Night’s Watch recruits when Melisandre interrupts. She tries to seduce Jon into joining the cause, going so far as to disrobe in front of him. Jon protests that he took a vow, but Melisandre sees through that immediately. His next protest is that he loves someone else, but Melisandre points out that someone else is dead. Jon continues to refuse, and Melisandre finally gives up. She says “you know nothing, Jon Snow,” (Ygritte’s old catch phrase) as a parting shot as she leaves the room. Also of note, there’s an interesting conversation at Castle Black where Stannis basically says it wasn’t Ned Stark’s style to impregnate a tavern wench (the most common Jon Snow origin story circulating around Westeros). There’s a popular theory among fans that Jon’s Stark parentage actually comes from Ned’s sister, Lyanna, not Ned himself, and this comment could potentially set that up.

At Winterfell, Sansa and Littlefinger have a conversation in the Stark family crypt that reveals a little history of Rhaegar, Daenerys’ older brother and also reveals a bit about what Littlefinger hopes for Sansa. Littlefinger is leaving for King’s Landing at Cersei’s summons, but before he goes, he lets Sansa in on his grand plan. He is hoping that Stannis will sack Winterfell, kick out the Boltons, and make Sansa Wardeness of the North. I wonder why he thinks Stannis would necessarily leave Ramsey Bolton’s wife (presuming the wedding happens before Stannis arrives) in charge? He gives Sansa some encouragement, basically telling her that she learned to manipulate from the best. Sansa speculates that when Littlefinger returns to Winterfell, she will be a married woman. Littlefinger tries to kiss Sansa, but she doesn’t really respond to it. Which is understandable considering he’s a creep.

We next venture to Dorne. Well, the sea on the way to Dorne, at least. Jaime and Bronn are trading verbal barbs. Jaime isn’t being completely honest with Bronn, and Bronn doesn’t appreciate it. Jaime tries to say that Myrcella is his niece, for instance, and he also insists that Varys set Tyrion free. Bronn knows both of these things are false. Jaime does insist, however, that if he ever sees Tyrion again, he will kill him. That Bronn believes. When Bronn and Jaime arrive on a beach in Dorne, they are eventually spotted and confronted by Dornish soldiers. In the ensuing attack, Jaime fights one soldier while Bronn fights three. Jaime ends up with a sword in his prosthetic arm for his trouble, which is kind of impressive in a way.

Also in Dorne (presumably), we meet the Sand Snakes, who are half-sisters that are all daughters of Oberyn, as I mentioned in the introduction. They are badass lady warriors, which is cool except for the fact that in this scene, they unite to kill a little girl. Tyene, the youngest of the Sand Snakes is the daughter of Ellaria, Oberyn’s lover who was really pissy with Prince Doran a few episodes ago. Ellaria convinces the Sand Snakes to help her in her quest to murder Myrcella. The Sand Snakes also manage to capture the captain of the ship that brought Jaime and Bronn to Dorne. They burry him in sand and put scorpions and a bucket on his head. The Sand Snake ladies don’t play.

In yet another boat, we see a conversation between Jorah and Tyrion. Jorah explains that they are going to see Daenerys, and Tyrion tries to explain that in that case, they are on the same side. He also manages to deduce exactly who Jorah is, and he knows Jorah’s troubled past. Jorah rewards Tyrion’s deduction with a slap. Meenwhile in Meereen, Dany once again refuses to reopen the fighting pits. More importantly, though, the prostitute who is working with the Sons of the Harpy is planning an even bigger attack. She ambushes a group of Unsullied, and Grey Worm is one of the injured. Ser Barristan arrives on the scene, and we finally see why he was so legendary in Westeros. He takes down many, many Sons of the Harpy before he finally succumbs. It’s a shame to lose such an interesting character at this point in the story. I feel like there’s a lot more we could have learned from him.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.19: "The Dirty Half Dozen"

“Here you go. Unlocked and all yours. Go nuts. At least until Fury shows up and asks for it back. Oh. Spoiler alert.”

“The Dirty Half Dozen” was a fun episode in the sense that it brought the whole team from season one back together, and it was interesting to see how all their paths would once again cross despite everything that has happened since Ward’s betrayal last year. The fun was short lived, though, as those wounds run deep, and trust could not be maintained for long. I am very disappointed in how several characters have been acting recently, especially May and Simmons. May is just being completely irrational, and Simmons has become homicidal. It makes me sad, really. It is very Whedon, though. You can’t have happy family for very long. And given what Team Coulson has been through, it was unrealistic to expect happy family for very long at all. Joss (and his siblings) like to bring the pain, after all. The events of this episode tied very nicely into the Joss Whedon written-and-directed “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which also, for the record, is very funny and brings the pain. Pretty much exactly as you would expect from a Whedon product.

We establish early in this episode that Raina’s gift definitely appears to be visions of the future. She has a dream of both Lincoln and Gordon in pretty bad shape. Specifically, she sees Skye trying to save Gordon. Soon after, Cal, Skye, and Gordon arrive back in Afterlife from Milwaukee. Gordon in particular is bleeding, just like in Rayna’s vision. Cal is really, really angry about almost being left in Milwaukee, and he complains loudly about it to Jiaying. He references “their daughter,” which attracts a lot of attention from passers-by. When they have some privacy, Skye talks to Jiaying about potentially rescuing Lincoln from Hydra. Jiaying, however, says it’s no go because Gordon is being tracked and it would be too dangerous to have him transport anyone right now, even to save Lincoln. We see Deathlok and Lincoln at the Hydra facility, and it’s apparent that they are going to be in big trouble soon. They are about to be experimented on.

When we first see Coulson in this episode, he’s on the Bus, talking with Gonzalez. Coulson offers to open the tool box for Gonzales, and he also makes it clear that he has some serious dirt on Gonzales. In exchange for doing the former and not revealing the latter, Coulson wants Gonzales’ support for a mission to rescue Deathlok. Gonzales agrees, mostly because Coulson says he’ll use his own team. We then jump to the Quinjet where Hunter, Fitz, Ward, and Agent 33 are getting ready. They arrive at the Bus, and when they disembark the Quinjet, May is not at all thrilled to see Ward. FitzSimmons’ reunion is sweeter, of course (at least at first). They have a rather adorable conversation about how Fitz liked the sandwich Simmons made for him, but then Simmons has to go and ruin it by suggesting they kill Ward with a splinter bomb (and she’s got a whole case of the things). Coulson and May are pretty frosty, too. More than all the “Theta Protocol” and under-the-radar travel, May is pissed Coulson was spending time with Andrew. Which I think is just dumb. May is being unreasonable, which is very unlike her.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. team (both Team Coulson and Gonzales) watch the video feed from Deathlok’s eye as Hydra removes said eye. Ouch. Agent Weaver has misgivings about sending Coulson’s team on the rescue mission, but Gonzales is still good with it. In Afterlife, a parallel rescue mission is being contemplated. Skye still really wants to rescue Lincoln, and she wants Gordon to help her. He really doesn’t want to disobey Jiaying, though. Raina explicitly says that she saw a vision of Skye saving Lincoln, and this makes Skye even more adamant that she needs to go. Gordon eventually agrees since he doesn’t need to take Skye directly to Hydra. Back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Simmons asks Coulson to be part of the rescue team. She says Deathlok will probably need a doctor, but we know she really just wants a chance to kill Ward. The team assembles in the hangar, and just as they’re about ready to leave, Skye appears (transported by Gordon, no doubt). The season one band is truly back together. Bakshi has been feeding intel to Ward, so Coulson tries to have Ward give the team briefing. It doesn’t go well, though, because Ward tries to address the elephant in the room and explain why he betrayed (and almost killed) the rest of the team. They really don’t want to hear it, especially Simmons and Skye.

In Afterlife, Cal apologizes to Jiaying and promises to be quieter if he is allowed to stay. Jiaying seems nervous about everyone gathered around Raina. Raina’s popularity due to her visions is threatening to Jiaying. Later, Raina and Jiaying have a bit of a confrontation about the visions. While they are arguing, Raina suddenly starts having another vision. She sees Loki’s scepter and the destruction it can cause. Spoiler alert: she’s seeing some of the events of “Age of Ultron,” which premiered the Friday after this episode aired. It was a nice bit of continuity. Back at the base, Hunter and Mack start to forgive each other as they bond over trying to get some tech to work. Bobbi also pays Agent 33 a visit in the infirmary. She tries to act sympathetic to her situation – we will see how long that lasts.

At the Hydra base, List tells Bakshi he is impressed how well Deathlok has held up considering all the experimentation. The only other subjects that have held up well were the Twinse (another “Age of Ultron” tie-in). Another Hydra minion says he detects a S.H.I.E.L.D. plane approaching, and List give the order to shoot it down. We hear May say “incoming,” and we see the plane explode. The Quinjet containing Team Coulson, however was piggybacking on the plane that was hit, and it’s cloaked. The group makes it to the base, and after Bakshi lets them in, they split into teams. Simmons, Ward, and Skye head for Deathlok. They find him pretty quickly, and Simmons and Ward stay with him while Skye looks for Lincoln. Skye has to shoot her way into the room where Lincoln is, and when she finally gets to him, he’s flatlining. She ends up using her quake powers to resuscitate him.

Coulson, May, and Fitz go for the computer, where I guess they need to get some important information. Fitz starts typing away. At one point, May gets pissed off because Coulson has slipped away. She finds him doing something on a computer in another room, and she gets even more upset. Back in the holding room, Simmons asks Ward to get a gurney for Deathlok. While his back is turned, she takes out a splinter bomb. Bakshi sees this and tries to move Ward out of the way to keep him from getting hurt. Bakshi ends up taking the brunt of the splinter bomb instead of Ward. Ward is understandably pissed at Simmons for trying to kill him, so he leaves her on her own. The team manages to get out of the Hydra base and back on the Quinjet. Ward, however, decides to go his own way. He calls Coulson and asks him to help Agent 33. Coulson only says that he will try.

Back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Gonzales says he wants to keep all the powered people they have recently encountered in holding cells, including Skye. Bobbi is not at all happy about this. Coulson interrupts that conversation to make good on his side of the bargain and open the toolbox for Gonzales. He says Gonzales can have the box until Fury comes back to take it, and follows that up with a snarky “spoiler alert.” Then he gets a call from Marla Hill and rubs the caller ID in Gonzales’s face. Coulson goes to a separate room to actually take the call, though. He tells Hill that he got data from the Hydra computer about Loki’s scepter (which was the side mission that made May impatient). The scepter is in Sokovia. He asks if it’s time to activate Theta Protocol. When Hill agrees, Coulson says it’s time to send in the Avengers. And there we have our direct link to “Age of Ultron!” When we return to “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” then, Ultron will have been defeated. Sorry. Spoiler alert!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

iZombie 1.07: "Maternity Liv"

“Please let this conversation end with you cutting the crust off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“Maternity Liv” wasn’t really my favorite episode of iZombie. I thought that Liv’s personality change of the week from eating brains was a bit obvious, as was Lowell’s come to think of it. I also wasn’t really all that invested in the case of the week. It involved a spoiled rich girl, and it was kind of hard to follow. We learned more about Liv’s relationship with her mother, but her mother is mostly just really annoying. Liv could only get along with her when she went to annoying helicopter mom mode after eating brains. Which doesn’t say much for Liv’s mother. I guess one interesting aspect of this episode was that it hinted at how deeply Zombies may be embedded in Seattle (and the world at large, no doubt). There’s Zombie-ness going on way beyond Liv and Lowell, and some of it is quite sinister and conspiracy-like.

This episode begins with some teens around a campfire at night, which is obviously going to result in some horrific shenanigans. The drunken festivities are interrupted by a pale, pregnant teen collapsing in the middle of the bonfire circle. The teens know her, and her name is Emily Sparrow. They recognize her because she has apparently been the subject of a high-profile, Nancy Grace-style missing persons case. Emily dies, but her baby is saved, and the media hype only grows. The Seattle Police give a press conference, and an especially feisty reporter questions why the police are devoting a whole task force to a white girl like Emily while there are no resources assigned to the case of all the missing kids from the skate park. She does have a good point, although Lieutenant Suzuki doesn’t appreciate it at all.

As she does, Liv starts to eat Emily’s brain. The side effect of this particular brain is the most obvious of the series thus far. Liv’s maternal instinct kicks in. She starts acting awkwardly protective of Ravi, wanting to make him a sandwich and such. She also goes to visit Emily’s baby in the NICU several times throughout the episode. During her first visit, Liv runs into her own mother, Eva, who is also a doctor. Eva is initially excited, because she thinks Liv has stopped by the hospital to have lunch for her, but she is very disappointed when she figures out that Liv is really just at the hospital for work. While arguing with her mom, Liv sees a flashback of Emily’s parents trying to lock her in a room in a kind of remote cabin. She also at one point sees a flashback to a bunch of girls on a truck with the sound of dogs barking.

Lieutenant Suzuki and Babineaux interview Dylan, Emily’s baby daddy. It is definitely not the first time Dylan has been interviewed by the Seattle Police, because until now, he had been the prime suspect in Emily’s disappearance. Dylan is kind of enjoying not being the prime suspect anymore, and he acts quite cheeky. He mentions hearing dogs around the time Emily disappeared, which gels with Liv’s vision. He also, however, smarmily says he wants custody of the baby, which greatly upsets Liv. Later, Babineaux gets a call from Major, who wants to know if any progress has been made on the missing kids case. Babineaux says he can't look into it right now because the Emily Sparrow case has to be the priority. Until there are victim names up on the board, he can’t devote time to it. Unfortunately for Babineaux, the reporter from the press conference earlier in the episode is also listening to the phone call. When she makes her presence known, Babineaux knows he’s in trouble.

Back at the morgue, Ravi is doing a very elaborate zombie experiment to see which combination of utopium and something in Max Rager energy drink turns rats into zombies. Lowell is also stopping by to donate blood for some of Ravi’s other experiments. Lowell is dropping science knowledge all over the place, so he gets along well with Ravi. The chemistry between Lowell and Liv isn’t what it was, though, which upsets Liv. After Lowell’s visit, Liv goes back to the hospital (to legit see her mom this time). Liv’s brother is in Eva’s office, too, and Liv acts all maternal to him, like she was with Ravi earlier in the episode. It completely freaks her brother out, which is pretty funny. Oh, by the way, Liv’s brother now has a job at Meat Cute, the cover for Blaine’s brain-selling business. That won’t end well. Also, Liv has a date with Lowell later that evening, and it explains why the chemistry is off. Liv tries to kiss Lowell and he’s grossed out by it. At that points, he admits that he just ate the brain of someone who was gay. They decide to just have fun girly time, dancing around and drinking wine. I wish this had been treated with more nuance, but it’s interesting to see how much joy it brings Liv.

Babineaux’s quote to Major’s reporter friend about names on the board makes the papers, and he’s in trouble for it. He’s placed on desk duty and has to go through a huge pile of deeds to properties around where Emily Sparrow was found. His fellow detectives don’t really want to talk to him much, either. Babineaux does, however, finally make a breakthrough. He finds the deed to a cottage owned by a company called “Sparrow’s Song” (related to Emily’s family). He and Liv decide to pay a visit, and it turns out that the cottage is the location of Liv’s vision of Emily being locked away. Babineaux fabricates some week probably cause to go inside (there was some noise from the basement). Inside the house, they find a finely (but creepily) carved crib. The Sparrow parents show up at the cottage, and they have a perfectly normal conversation with Babineaux and Liv that make the latter two rethink their suspicions.

Babineaux and Liv give some more thought to the clues they have about barking dogs, so they decide to consult animal control. They talk to a rather nervous woman who mentions a particular problem employee. That line of investigation goes nowhere, though, because the problem employee is already in jail and couldn’t have had anything to do with Emily’s disappearance and death. Later, Babineaux goes back to the piles of deeds and maps on his desk, and he realizes that a river in the search area means he should widen the search radius (Emily could have floated down the river a bit, I guess). The widened search radius now includes property owned by the husband of the nervous animal control lady they talked to.

Meanwhile, Major continues to do stupid things in pursuit of answers about the kids who have gone missing from the skate park. He’s trailing Blaine’s henchman who has been identified as the “Candyman” who has been luring kids away from the skate park. The Candyman leaves his car and goes inside a building. Major’s reporter friend tells him she can’t do anything to help him without a name, so Major, in another brilliant move, decides to break into the Candyman’s car to see if he can find some identifying information. He finally finds some papers that give him a name, Julian DuPont, put the victory is short-lived. Major is caught by the police. Major shows the police officers the full human brain he found in a cooler in DuPont’s car, but Dupont says it’s a calf brain that he is carrying because he works for a specialty butcher. The cops believe him and Major is arrested.

Babineaux and Liv decide to stake out the house of the animal control lady and her husband. Babineaux thinks it’s going to be uneventful, and he’s prepared to be bored, but of course that doesn’t happen. The animal control lady starts shooting at their vehicle from an upper floor window. Babineaux immediately calls for back-up, and the back-up, including Lieutenant Suzuki, arrive quickly. They basically plan to storm the house. There’s quite a firefight, and even though she’s told to stay back, Liv ends up helping some of the many girls who have been imprisoned at the property. Ultimately, Suzuki ends up alone in the house with the animal control lady and her husband. He kills them, and after the deed, his eyes glow zombie red. After everything calms down, we learn from a press conference that the animal control lady and her husband were basically sick and pseudo-religious and were holding these girls as sort of sister wives. Given the zombie angle, though, I’m not so sure that’s all true. Are we seeing the edges of a bigger zombie conspiracy?

Monday, May 11, 2015

New Girl 4.21: "Panty Gate"

“Can any other sperm sport this much green and still look dope? No, that ain’t tight!”

In the penultimate season 4 episode of “New Girl,” it became clear exactly how the creative team was going to write Daymon Wayans, Jr. off the show (again). We’ve known that Coach wasn’t sticking around past this season for a while, but until “Panty Gate,” we didn’t know exactly how the character would be leaving. Now we know that it’s all for the love of May. Which is an interesting twist considering what we know of Coach’s romantic past. Actually, if I remember right, he left the apartment to move in with a woman the last time, too. This time, however, it’s supposed to be different than all those other times Coach fell hard and then the relationship fizzled out. What I really liked about this episode, since I wasn’t all that invested in the Coach and May storyline, was that Schmidt finally, finally stood up for himself with Fawn. And it was about time!

We begin the episode with the roomies looking on from a distance as Coach and May seem to be having an argument. Jess, at least, firmly believes they are having an argument. Winston just wants to get his toaster waffle from the kitchen, but he’s afraid to interrupt. After May leaves, Coach says that he and May weren’t fighting, but they are breaking up. May is moving to New York City for a great new job with the Met, and the long distance thing doesn’t make much sense considering they’ve only been together a few months. Jess is convinced there are actually deeper feelings between Coach and May, and her nagging about this will drive most of the rest of the episode. Jess feels a bit vindicated when, at school, Coach has a bit of a breakdown while teaching Health class. He starts to talk about eggs moving far away from the sperm and such. Jess sees this all play out, and it makes her more determined to meddle.

The other main plot in this episode involves the never-ending drama of Cece and Schmidt. Schmidt is at the bar talking with Cece, and she starts to pry about his relationship with Fawn post-“Panty Gate.” Schmidt says that the very public scandal has made them a better team than ever, and he’s really excited about where their relationship is headed. They have a joint press conference coming up, and he’s all-in as far as supporting his woman. Cece, understandably, is a bit mopey about this. And all is not as well with Fawn and Schmidt as Schmidt originally made it seem. Schmidt wanted to improvise at the press conference, but Fawn gives him a statement to read. Schmidt insists on not reading the statement before he actually has to speak to the press. When he does start reading the statement, he’s kind of horrified. The statement basically has him take the blame for Fawn wearing no panties, and it ends with apologizing to Jesus (which I can imagine Schmidt doesn’t appreciate considering he’s Jewish). This just made me sigh, because it shows again that Fawn has no respect for Schmidt as a human being.

Back at the loft, Nick and Winston are all dressed up in fancy shirts because they’re planning to take Coach out to help him get over the break-up with May. Jess thinks Coach is going to be too upset over the break-up to party, but she’s wrong. Coach puts on an enthusiastic front and decides to go to the bar with the guys. With the guys all out, Cece stops by the loft to talk to Jess. She’s been reading a book about a woman finding herself through mountain climbing, and she has decided she wants to climb Mt. Shasta. She wants to both find herself and get away from the Schmidt and Fawn show for a little while. Jess isn’t really paying attention to Cece. She talks about how she’s a “love doctor” and thinks May and Coach are really upset over their break-up. May stops by the loft for her endpin holder (although I’m surprised she didn’t have the type that connects to your chair), and Jess says she’s there to talk if she needs to. May leaves, but then in a few seconds, she knocks on the door again. Jess convinces her it would be a great idea to ask Coach to move with her to New York.

Schmidt confronts Fawn about the press conference, but Fawn mollifies him by saying they will go back to “normal” soon. And she promises sex. First, however, there’s a photo op at a department store, where Fawn is supposed to be buying some panties. Schmidt is playing along until Fawn takes things to far (finally). She tells Schmidt that he’s supposed to storm out because he can’t stand being around panties, enter rehab, and then marry her. Schmidt balks at the prospect of marrying Fawn (thank the Lord). He says that he really wants to be in love, and he breaks up with her. He does, however, tell Fawn that she’ll always have her vote, and he does the can’t stand panties storm-out as a final gesture of goodwill.

At the bar, things are getting kind of rowdy. Coach is very drunk, and lots of girls are dancing all over him. Of course, this is when Jess and Cece (mostly Jess) decide to bring May to the bar to have her tell Coach how she feels. She is not at all happy with what she finds, and she leaves. Jess tries to give Coach an apology beer, but it doesn’t really help. He didn’t want things with May to end like this. Jess realizes that maybe she isn’t quite the “love doctor” she thought she was, and she encourages Cece to go climb that mountain and not take her relationship advice anymore. Jess then apologizes to Coach and gets him to admit he loves May. Nick follows this up with some surprisingly astute advice. He basically asks Coach if May is the person he pictures himself when they are old. Coach says yes, and he decides he wants to move to New York.

Coach (with Nick and Jess in tow) goes to the recording studio to talk to May. Nick and Jess watch from the recording booth and are kind of awkward/adorable with each other. You can see them starting to circle each other again (they kind of implied that they see themselves with each other when they are old), but who knows when they will actually get back together. Anyway, the upshot of the Coach and May heart-to-heart is that they are going to move to New York together. So Coach will, once again, leave the loft. We end the episode with all the roomies on the couch in the loft together, being goofy. I think Coach realizes he’s going to miss this, but it’s more important to follow his heart.

Once Upon a Time 4.22-4.23: "Operation Mongoose"

“I am the product of your true love. You taught me to believe in hope, and I do. And now I need you to believe in it, too.”
- Emma

Well denizens of Storybrooke, we have made it to the finale! And it looks like we may be getting some much desired answers! First off, we pop back to December 1956 where we first meet Isaac. He’s a struggling writer who is also not a very good color TV salesman. That all changes when he gets a request from a publisher to meet immediately. It turns out the Apprentice is trying to see if Isaac will be the next Author. At that particular moment, the Apprentice is quite pleased to find that Isaac is indeed the man for the task. That is not the case in present day Storybrooke. The Charmings and Regina (and Robin) are hunting through the library of blank books and coming up empty when August shows up with an assist. He knows who can stop Isaac; the Apprentice. With a little help from Blue, they get the Apprentice out of the hat and restored to safety just in time to learn that they need to trap Isaac back in the book and they need the page with the door and the key to do it. So while Regina, Emma and the Apprentice make a break for the pawn shop in case Rumple has similar ideas, the Charmings head back to the loft to obtain said page and key. Unfortunately, Isaac has just finished writing the new story (complete with happier memories for Rumple of Bae) and the magic starts to take hold.

Henry wakes up at the loft and finds everyone is missing. Like the entire town. So what does the boy wonder do? He steals a car! He heads to a diner where he sees Isaac’s book “Heroes and Villains” and somehow manages to get a talk Isaac is giving. Henry threatens to stick Isaac back in the page if he doesn’t admit to where Henry’s family is so Isaac lays it out for him. They’re in the new book and he says Henry will never be able to save them because he doesn’t come from a magical world. If those aren’t fighting words, I don’t know what is! So Henry tackles Isaac and pulls them both into the book. Isaac ends up knocking Henry out and tying him to a wagon to let an ogre eat him but Rumple, now a heroic and beloved knight, comes to the rescue. This gives Henry a chance to escape and he ends up finding Regina (by reading the copy of the book he has in his pocket…clever move). He finds Regina in her cave and tries to convince her that he is her son and they’re trapped in a book but she isn’t having any of it. Not one bit! She even scoffs at Operation Mongoose. She’s off to rob a tax collector carriage and Henry is totally crimping her style.

Isaac is still wandering about the forest and gets nabbed by the dwarves (who are of course now evil). They drag him before the Evil Queen (Snow White!) and he manages to talk himself out of getting beheaded. She blathers on about James and how he knows where Regina will be so that Snow can kill her and finally get revenge. So when Regina robs the carriage, she gets Snow and Charming instead of tax collectors. But (thanks to Henry), Regina gets saved by Robin Hood. She still doesn’t believe that he’s her true love even when he bandages her hand and buys her a drink. But clearly things are not going her way (do they ever?) when Robin drops the marriage bomb. As in, he’s getting married that day. Not to Marian though. To Zelena (who I’m guessing is still pregnant). Henry is pretty horrified by this too when he finally catches up with Regina. She tells him that he gave her the worst thing possible: hope. When she suggests Henry go find his other mother, Henry says he can’t because she’s not in the book. But when he name-drops the Savior and says she’s super powerful, Regina does remember hearing rumors from a long time ago about a woman who called herself the Savior. And we finally see Emma, locked in a tower on an island somewhere. Girl could use a comb and a shower and maybe some human interaction. Poor thing isn’t looking too good!

Before Henry gets a chance to find Emma, Isaac pays Rumple, Belle and their new baby boy (I guess baby Neal had to go somewhere…honestly I was a little worried that Henry just left him in the bassinet in Storybrooke) a visit and warns Rumple that Regina is trying to ruin everything Rumple has. Deep down, Rumple knows he is evil and none of this is real and that Bae didn’t die in the Ogre Wars. He died because of Rumple’s cowardice. A little while later, Rumple brings this up with Belle and she says that he will always make the right decision. He’s still not so sure and we get a repeat of the chipped cup. I know it’s just china but I got a little giggly at it.

Henry ends up helping Hook steal the Jolly Roger (this version of Hook is a serious wimp and I kind of cheered at his ineptness). They take the ship from Blackbeard and rescue Emma from the tower. She remembers everything but has no power in this world. Still, they are going to try and stop the wedding. But first they need to haul butt away from the prison because Lily is on guard and she turns into a dragon. Luckily, Emma does some quick thinking and they knock her out of the sky into the ocean. Emma and Hook do a bit of flirting while Henry is off finding food. Elsewhere, Snow rips out Doc’s heart and crushes it to show how disappointed she is none of the dwarves or Granny have brought her Regina and Henry’s heads on a platter. But just as Henry comes back with food, the evil Charmings descend and Hook pays the ultimate price. At least he didn’t die in Emma’s arms like Neal did (yes still bitter). But Emma uses this pain to convince Regina to at least try to ruin the wedding and tell the man she loves how she feels. Unfortunately, Rumple being Rumple decides to try and stop them from crashing the wedding.

Things don’t go as planned as Emma faces off against Rumple. Regina is supposed to bust up the wedding but she can’t. She’s too busy saving Henry from Rumple’s blade. I’m honestly surprised Henry didn’t throw out the “I’m your grandson” card to try and stay Rumple’s sword. But ultimately, it is Henry who saves everyone. He’s the next Author (as many fans predicted) and Henry manages to return everyone back to Storybrooke. The Apprentice pays Henry a visit and Henry is contemplating using the quill to bring back Neal. But when the Sorcerer explains that his death can’t be undone, Henry destroys the quill. The Charmings nab Isaac as he tries to flee town and learn that he did what he did because of his crappy boss at the TV store. What a dick! Things are back to normal in town for the most part (hey they are having a party which means some crisis was just averted). Sure Zelena is still having Robin’s baby but Regina insists they will deal with before heading off for a romantic moonlit stroll. And Emma can’t quite bring herself to say “I love you” to Hook. At least not yet. And Emma promises Lily she will help locates her Dad. Because apparently when two dragons get it on, they don’t know who they are in human form (hence the egg to begin with). But all of that happiness (and partying) is going to have be put on hold. Rumple is dying and the Apprentice tries to trap the Darkness in the hat. But it fails and tries to take over the Apprentice. Emma stops it and it flees but they have to go after it. The Sorcerer bound it to a human soul in order to keep it at bay. They need to find the Sorcerer (who turns out to be Merlin so maybe we’ll see some more Camelot next season) so he can destroy the Darkness once and for all. Rumple has a rough road ahead to become the man he used to be but I’m guessing Belle’s declaration of love will help. It seems Will really is just a rebound and she’s still in love with her husband and willing to fight for their relationship. And in the end, Emma offers herself up to take the Darkness and become the new Dark One to save Regina from regressing. She tasks her family with finding a way to save her from the Darkness as heroes this time.

Man next season is going to be awesome. I like that they did a paradigm shift as the cliffhanger for this season and aren’t introducing big people from other stories. I have a feeling they will be using the current cast of characters to tell next season’s tale. I will be interested to see how they split the season (as the network seems to like to do that now). Overall, a satisfying finale and for once, I’m not fuming over the status of Outlaw Queen!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.03: "High Sparrow"

“I’ve been sweeping this floor for days. I didn’t come here to sweep floors.”

This episode of “Game of Thrones” made me absolutely hate Littlefinger. I always thought he was slimy, but I appreciated his ingenuity, and I’m an Aidan Gillen fan from his “The Wire” days. But what he does in this episode is absolutely unforgivable. There are lots of other interesting plots brewing in this episode as well, but the Littlefinger turn stuck with me the most. Littlefinger is right that Sansa has been through a great deal and deserves a break from tragedy, but what he does in this episode is only going to make things worse. Littlefinger seems a bit unfamiliar with what he is walking into, but that seems unusual for him. Littlefinger is an information-gatherer on the level of Varys. More on all that later, though.

We begin this episode with Arya, who is still at the House of Black and White. She has been doing cleaning detail instead of training, and she is not happy about it at all. She wants to get on with the training already. While sweeping, she sees Jaqen kill a man by giving him water from a fountain. The whole thing is really creepy. Another girl who does cleaning at the House taunts Arya, asking her who she is. When Arya says “no one,” the other girl hits her. Jaqen chastises Arya for still having so many of “Arya Stark’s” belongings. She can’t be “no one” with so many of “Arya’s” things around. Arya throws all of her belongings into the water except for her Faceless Man coin (which she keeps) and Needle (which she hides under a rock). I think refusing to give up needle is Arya refusing to completely give up her own identity. After appearing to get rid of all her belongings, she is more accepted by everyone at the House, and she moves up in ranks to corpse washing duty with the other girl who was taunting her. Nice work if you can get it, I think not.

We also see a bit of Tommen and Margaery’s wedding in this episode, although it’s handled very quickly. Most of the focus is on the fall-out from the wedding. We see a bit of Tommen and Margaery’s wedding night, and Margaery uses Tommen’s joy at finally getting some to try and manipulate him into sending Cersei away or at least giving her less influence. Tommen ends up asking Cersei if she might be happier living at Casterly Rock, since she likes it so much more than King’s Landing. Cersei says she wants to stay where her family is. Cersei is generally starting to feel out of place and pushed aside, and Margaery telling her that her son is so enthusiastic that she is sure to be a “Queen Grandmother” soon just adds salt to the wound. I don’t really like Cersei or Margaery, so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I think Margaery is both drunk with power and enjoying giving Cersei a bit of a taste of her own medicine.

Now we start to move into the part of the episode where Littlefinger does the unforgivable thing. At Winterfell, which is now being rebuilt, Roose Bolton is chastising his sadistic son Ramsey. Ramsey has been killing Northerners who refuse to pay their taxes because they think there should be a Stark in Winterfell. Roose wants House Bolton to be the accepted Wardens of the North, and he doesn’t want his idiot son messing that up. He says marriage is the more traditional way to make alliances and gain popular support. We next see Littlefinger and Sansa, who are near Moat Cailin. Sansa realizes they are on their way to Winterfell. At that moment, I knew what was coming next. Littlefinger has arranged a marriage between Sansa and Ramsey. Since Sansa is the oldest living Stark heir, her marriage to Ramsey would give House Bolton the legitimacy Roose craves. Sansa protests at first, but Littlefinger convinces her to “stop running” and stop being a “bystander to tragedy.” Bastard.

Luckily for Sansa, Brienne and Podrick have decided to keep following her and Littlefinger as they head North. Brienne says she knows where they are going now, and along the way, she offers to teach Podrick how to fight. She even opens up enough to tell him the story of how she ended up in Renly’s service. Her father threw a ball to try to marry her off, and all the men laughed at her. Renly danced with her so she wouldn’t look like quite as much a fool, and she was extremely grateful. She’s rather devastated that she couldn’t save his life in return. By the end of the episode, Sansa has returned to Winterfell, and folks there are welcoming her home. Since Ramsey is a horrible, sadistic person, though, the happiness isn’t going to last long. Littlefinger claims he doesn’t know much about Ramsey, but like I said earlier, I don’t buy that. He has thrown Sansa to the wolves.

We also spend some time at Castle Black in this episode. Jon officially turns down Stannis’ offer to become Jon Stark and take back Winterfell. He can’t betray his vows. Stannis isn’t thrilled about the decision, and he says Jon is too honorable for his own good. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I guess? After Stannis leaves, Davros tells Jon he would do more good and more honor to his vows fighting the Boltons than he would hiding in a frozen castle. Later, Jon starts handing out new assignments to his fellow Night’s Watch in his new capacity as Lord Commander. He names Ser Alliser as First Ranger, which seems like a bad move, but maybe he is just trying to keep the peace. Another high ranking brother is assigned to one of the lesser castles that is basically a ruin, and he refuses his assignment. He keeps acting like a jerk until his head is on the chopping block and Jon is about to swing his sword. At that point, he starts to beg for mercy, but Jon beheads him anyway. Ser Alliser seems to approve. As he would.

Back in King’s Landing, the High Septon visits one of Littlefinger’s brothels, where he is discovered by Lancel and some of the other Sparrows. They parade him naked through the streets and beat him before leaving him for dead. The High Septon then visits the Small Council and demands that the High Sparrow (the leader of the Sparrows) be executed. Cersei decides to pay a visit to the High Sparrow. She seems to appreciate his honesty, and she tells him that the High Septon is now in the dungeon. She also tells the High Sparrow that the High Septon had wanted him executed. She’s not going to do that though. When she gets back to the Red Keep, she has Qyburn, the new Master of Whispers, write a letter to Littlefinger. Underneath a sheet in Qyburn’s lab, the Mountain’s body shakes, and Qyburn tells him to shush. I can only wonder what horrible experiments have been happening.

We finish up the episode in Volantis, across the Narrow Sea. Tyrion arrive in Volantis just in time, because Tyrion is seriously going stir crazy. In the city, they find that the people have become quite taken with Daenerys. They see a Red Priestess (like Melissandre) proselytizing in the street. She’s not talking about the Lord of Light, though. She’s talking about the Dragon Queen. Also, at the local brothel, the most popular whore has been made up to look like Dany, complete with platinum blonde hair. Tyrion chats up a different whore, but when she offers to go to bed with him, he finds himself not interested. I guess he’s too traumatized over what happened to Shae. Disappointed, he decides to urinate into the river, where he is captured by none other than Jorah, who says he is going to take Tyrion to see the Queen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.18: "The Frenemy of My Enemy"

“Ward is a psychopath, but for now he’s our psychopath. So we use him to stay one step ahead.”

This particular episode of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” was kind of a mixed bag for me. Early in the episode, I thought the story was becoming a bit to fractured, with characters spread out in multiple locations and on multiple quests, “Game of Thrones”-style. By the end of the episode, however, it all came together in an intense, if short battle. I’m not quite sure where the show is going, and I’m not sure if I’ll be happy once the future is clear, but there’s certainly plenty going on right now to keep me interested in S.H.I.E.L.D. I still wish it was a little less Skye-centric, though. I still find Skye to be an annoying, over-eager puppy (and I usually like puppies) in a Kate from “Lost” kind of way. If the show could focus more on Coulson, May, Fitz, and Simmons, I’d be very happy.

Speaking of Fitz, the episode opens with Fitz running away from the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who were tailing him. Fitz is looking unusually well put together in this scene, wearing a gray suit and glasses. Regular MTVP readers should know that around here we definitely approve of good-looking, glasses-wearing Scottish men. Anyway, just as Fitz is about to be caught, he’s picked up by Team Coulson in the Quinjet. Coulson says that the first thing they need to do is find Skye. Hydra is still looking for superpowered people, so he thinks they might know where she is. To get to Hydra, Coulson thinks they need to make a deal with Ward. This is not a popular opinion among the group, for sure. Hydra, for its part, now under the supervision of Dr. List, is still experimenting on people with superpowers. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I suppose.

The other big plot at play in this episode is the continuing drama of the Johnson family. There’s plenty of family awkwardness happening in Afterlife early in the episode. Jiaying is being outwardly nice to Cal, and she says she’ll let him travel home to get some of his stuff. She also says she’ll plan more family dinners. We all know, however, that she is really planning to send him away and banish him from Afterlife. Skye and Lincoln are playing a game, and Skye mentions her fear that Cal will hurt someone when he realizes he is being sent away. Lincoln suggests she talk to Jiaying about it, considering she’s her mother and all. Skye takes Lincoln’s advice and asks Jiaying to rethink her plan, but it’s no-go.

Coulson’s plan is put into action pretty quickly. Coulson and Deathlok capture Agent 33 (in Mexico, presumably), then Coulson places a call to Ward from her cell phone. When they meet in person, Coulson offers Ward immunity, plus a Tahiti Protocol memory erasing, if he can figure out a way to get his team in contact with List or the other remaining Head of Hydra. After some serious hesitation, Ward says he knows a guy who might be able to help. The person with Hydra connections that Ward is eventually able to produce is the brainwashed Bakshi. Ward assures Coulson and his team that since Bakshi has been brainwashed, he’ll do exactly what they ask. Tensions run quite high on the Quinjet as Team Coulson argues the merits of the plan. Just in case Bakshi’s programming doesn’t hold up, Deathlok will be accompanying him to his meeting with Dr. List so that the team can watch the meeting through Deathlok’s artificial eye. The meet with List goes well at first until Bakshi offers Deathlok to List as a goodwill gesture. This little stunt results in a Mexican standoff on the Quinjet.

Meanwhile, at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Bobbi and Mack are sparring. While sparring, Bobbi wonders if maybe they are putting too much effort into tracking Coulson when Hydra is still a threat. I’m not quite sure what made her have such of a sudden change of heart. In the last episode, I thought she was pretty solidly on Team Coulson Could Be Very Dangerous. Mack kind of agrees with Bobbi, which was just as surprising. Elsewhere at the base, Simmons has a rather uncomfortable conversation when she admits to May that she swapped Fury’s toolbox out with a fake and gave the real one to Fitz. Some sort of laser is being brought in that is supposed to be able to crack the toolbox, and she is worried her switch will be discovered. May says she’ll take care of it, although Simmons doesn’t love her solution. May tells Bobbi that Fitz took the toolbox and Simmons was trying to cover for him. Simmons is then asked to try to tap into Deathlok’s visual feed to figure out where Coulson, Fitz, and the gang are. Simmons is pissed at May for throwing Fitz to the wolves, but May insists there was no other way to handle the situation.

Skye decides to take the Cal situation into her own hands, and she decides to go talk to him about how she heard he’s going to get to take a trip home. She asks if “home” is China, but Cal responds that while he was in China for Doctors Without Borders, and that’s where he met Jiaying, his actual home is Milwaukee. He wants to show Skye all his old Haunts one day, and she offers to go along with him on this day trip. Skye then has another conversation with Jiaying, who agrees to let her go to Milwaukee with Cal to soften the banishment blow and promise to visit. Cal’s tour of Milwaukee is more than a little awkward because most of the things that he remembers. A favorite ice cream shop is gone, for instance. Cal ends up showing Skye his office, which, since he owns the building, is still around even though he hasn’t been to Milwaukee for a very long time.

The climax of the episode involves pretty much every major player converging on Milwaukee. Who would have thought so many people would want to go to Milwaukee, of all places, so badly? It all begins when Skye calls May. Unfortunately for Skye, that phone call results in “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. being able to trace her location. If that’s not bad enough, Hydra has also gotten a signal from Gordon’s teleporting Cal and Skye to Milwaukee. So Gonzales’ goons and Hydra are all headed for Milwaukee. Oblivious to all this, Cal shows Skye his old office. Skye is tired of pretending, though, and she starts talking about how they can’t turn back time. Lincoln suddenly appears to make sure everything is okay Everybody’s kind of converging on Milwaukee (ironic). Skye calls May, “real” SHIELD can now trace the location. Hydra has gotten a signal from Gordon’s teleporting (also Ethan is missing). So they’re going to Milwaukee too. Cal showing Daisy old office, she starts to say they can’t turn back time.

Everything really goes to Hell when Lincoln appears to make sure everything is okay with Skye and Cal. That’s when Cal starts to get pissed off, because he realizes he’s going to be left behind in Milwaukee while Skye goes back to Afterlife. Bakshi and Deathlock, quickly followed by Team Coulson, also arrive on the scene. A big battle ensues, and in the midst of it Simmons finally successfully hacks into Deathlok’s feed. Of course the first thing she sees is Coulson and Ward working together, and that’s quite the WTF moment for Simmons and May. Bakshi’s brainwashing wasn’t so great after all, and he turns on Ward, capturing Deathlok and Lincoln (for future Hydra experiments, no doubt). Gordon takes away Skye (against her wishes) and Cal jumps in the teleport, too. Hunter is injured in the crossfire of it all. At the end of the episode “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives on the scene and surveys the aftermath of the battle with Hydra. Coulson is waiting for them in Cal’s office, and he asks to be taken to their leader. He clearly has something up his sleeve.