TV Nights: This Week in Superhero TV 10/13 – 10/14
Yes, I know it’s a short week based on the title of this article but I’m technically only covering the shows that came out on Monday and Tuesday as I haven’t caught up with Arrow and Constantine doesn’t start until next week. Instead of cluttering my site with all of these shorter articles covering the superhero TV shows that are coming out this year, I decided to put my thoughts on all of them in a single post. Though Constantine’s pilot will get its own post next week. It’s been a good week with all the shows firing on all cylinders for the most part, either continuing their high standards, or in the case of Gotham showing some improvement. It’s a close call as to which show I like the most as both the Flash and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are really nailing what it means to be a superhero television show.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Episode: Making Friends and Influencing People
I know, I’m way late on this episode, but I didn’t watch it until Saturday and I knew I was doing a weekly post so I figured I’d cover both episodes at once here. Season 2 is continuing a strong run where we get to find out where Jemma Simmons went after she left Fitz. She is putting her bad lying abilities to the absolute test working undercover for a Hydra facility. This is a great opportunity for her character and I’m very curious where it will end up going. Elizabeth Henstridge plays is very well, she still has Simmons’ nervous personality, but she has grown a lot of guts to show that she is up to handling this assignment, even though I’m sure it will test her mettle in more ways than one before all is said and done. Meanwhile Fitz finds out that Ward is still alive and continues making small progress working through his own mental blocks as we again get to see a brief glimpse of his own personal Simmons before he calls her out on not being real. I’m glad to see that he is already working through his issues, while I don’t want it to be cured too quickly, I also think his quirks could get annoying if overused and this episode is a step in the right direction on how it should be used from now on. The last bit that I have to mention is Skye’s character arc moment. She is moving forward with her field agent training and eliminates her first target successfully and without any immediate emotional trauma. She is headed towards the path of being an elite agent along the lines of May and Ward which I’m not sure how well it will play out over the season, but I’m currently curious. The only thing I don’t like about it is how they use her pulse meter as a visual indicator of how emotional she is getting in these situations.
Episode: Face of My Enemy
Another great episode that moves forward several different ongoing plotlines. The crux of the episode is a painting that has been found that’s hundreds of years old and on the back is the alien carving that Coulson has been doing since the end of season 1. We also get to see more of the relationship between Coulson and Agent May who is the only person that Coulson trusts with his condition, and to do what needs to be done if his condition worsens. We also get to see how much of a threat Hydra really is, as they are not only brainwashing former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but they also have the technology to pose as one of their dopplegangers with an electronic form of Darkman’s synthetic skin or the Mission Impossible masks, etc. Though it’s a little bit more believable here as it is electronic so it’s also able to mask their voice. Not only that, but at the end we see that they are also able to easily get the drop on Rayna and they want their obelisk back. Back on the S.H.I.E.L.D. side of things, Fitz is starting to make even more progress than before, even though he is still talking to his imaginary Simmons, he is also starting to reach out towards the rest of the group including the newcomers a little bit more, and also gets the chance to be Fitz once again while still having to work through his mental disability. Another great episode.
Episode: The Fastest Man Alive
One of the things that Flash took from Smallville that was a great idea was to have this big event that quickly and easily explained how meteor freaks slash meta humans appear throughout their respective towns for them to battle over the course of the show. But where Smallville fell into the “freak of the week” hole, the Flash manages to avoid feeling like it’s falling into that trap here in the second episode. While on the surface, the episode is about the current “freak of the week” Multiplex, there is enough meat on the bones that further the other ongoing plots and also develop several of the characters and their interrelationships. I’m already a fan of Danielle Panabaker’s Caitlin which is a departure from the 90’s Tina though there is a very small hint of a possible relationship between her and Barry down the line. But at this point, it’s just a hint. I also like the love triangle between Barry and his kinda-step sister who he keeps blowing off to be the Flash while she is yet another superhero friend going into a journalism career, kinda. What this episode really does well is explore the adoptive father-son relationship between Joe and Barry and it works very well here aside from the cliched moment where he yells that Joe isn’t really his father. And the special effects continue to look amazing with Multiplex’s many doubles all looking realistic. And while I imagine this is something true for all versions of the Flash, I like to think that it’s another nod to the 90’s series how they work out his increased appetite. All in all, another great episode.
One of my biggest problems with Gotham so far is how it hits the viewer over the head with hints of what is to come with Batman. This is the first episode where it felt like it hit the right balance for the most part. It also moved forward one of the most interesting things about Gotham during this point in time: the dynamic of the criminal underworld and the threat of a gang war between Falcone, Maroni, and Fish Mooney. And at least as far as I know, the hired killer that is the main villain for the episode has nothing to do with the Batman universe whatsoever, even though he did have a bit of a quirky way of killing his victims. The only real foreshadowing in the episode is the fact that the episode revolves around what is going to happen to the old Arkham Asylum and the resulting potential turf war between Falcone and Maroni. Penguin also got some forward momentum on his own personal character arc, and while I do like the direction it is going, I don’t know if it’s really the best origin for what Penguin is going to become. There are moments in the show that still bother me, Gordon spends way too much time having heart to heart talks with 12 year old Bruce Wayne and Alfred. I also am not fond of his relationship with Barbara and how she is trying to find out about his life while he is keeping secrets, and then turning around and getting angry at her for keeping secrets from him. While it’s not exactly Batman foreshadowing, it is awfully on the nose at calling him out on his hypocrisy. I will say that one thing I noticed a lot during this episode and has been throughout the show so far is that the cinematography is gorgeous. There are some really stellar looking shots in the show, I just wish there was a bit more meat to the plot and some of the characters.