This Week in Superhero TV 11/2 – 11/7
Welcome back to yet another week of Superhero and comic book television. And since it’s a short week with no Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Flash, this week I have someone to help me fill in one of a couple gaps I have in my viewing schedule as there are only so many hours a day, I’m barely keeping up with the four shows I watch already, I’m not interested in catching up two or more seasons, nor am I interested in jumping into the middle of a show. So I’ve got Rachel Thuro helping me out with her thoughts on the Walking Dead. Rachel has a long and storied blogging past which I won’t get into right now, but currently is a co-host of the great Reel Insight Podcast where she and Jess take a look at both the highest grossing movie and Academy Award Best Picture winner for a specific year which is occasionally both the same movie.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has not spent an entire episode following only one of the main group since Rick’s awakening in the pilot. It pushed things in Season 4’s “Still,” abandoning all other characters for 42 minutes of Daryl and Beth alone in the woods, post prison invasion. Due to their opposing personalities the episode barely scraped by, but the unlikely duo as the main focus was still too much for a single episode and it remains one of the lowest rated on IMDb. Yet still the show runners thought an entire Beth-centric episode would make the people happy. It didn’t. Honestly, I haven’t thought much of Beth since her mysterious abduction near the end of Season 4, but seven episodes later the mystery was resolved in “Slabtown” and as I suspected, it was a bit underwhelming . I don’t fault the episode for being a character-driven one, because I’m not one to turn on the show when it abandons the carnage and action for quiet reflection. However, my interest waivers when Beth is the sole focus. She’s just not a character that can successfully carry her own episode. That’s not a knock to Emily Kinney who portrays her, but the writers, despite last season’s attempts, have written Beth as very vanilla and I’m really surprised she hasn’t been killed off yet. What did work for me in “Slabtown” was learning how another group of survivors is handling their world during the zombie apocalypse. These moments I find fascinating, and this particular group’s way of medically saving people only to hold them hostage in an abandoned Atlanta hospital until they work off their “debt” is terrifying, more so than Terminus’s cannibals, since the debts seem subjective to the vicious leader’s current mood. Sadly, the episode still leaves Beth’s fate open-ended, but Carol’s appearance toward the end gives hope that when we do drag the story back around to the younger Greene sister, things will pick up in a deadly way.
Episode: Penguin’s Umbrella
It turns out my prediction for this week was wrong, instead of going back downhill as it had been going up and down the past few episodes, I was pleased to see another good episode following last week’s good episode. Last week was a bit of a cliffhanger where Gordon was arrested by the MCU for the murder of Oswald Cobblepot when Penguin himself walked through the GCPD doors to vindicate him. So this episode was all about how Gordon deals with being in deep with the wrong people. Everyone is out to get him from Falcone, Mooney, and even his partner. There is a lot of great moments where Gordon finally gets to act like a total badass even when Falcone sends one of his best men Victor Zsasz. Zsasz is a Batman villain I am actually very vaguely familiar with, while he did have a very minor appearance in the Nolan trilogy, I best know him from Kevin Smith’s Cacophony where he plays a minor role in the story. His thing is that he keeps track of the people he’s killed by carving a tally mark into his own skin. In the Batman era, his body is completely covered with them, though here he has only a handful on his arm. But otherwise he didn’t really stand out as being a future Batman villain, instead he was just another mob enforcer with a recognizable name. What I loved about this episode is how it actually started bringing together some of the threads it has been tossing around throughout these early episodes. While I knew Penguin had a larger plan in mind, it was explained quite nicely here. He is a snitch, through and through, and it wasn’t a surprise that he’s playing both sides towards the middle, but it did help explain some of Falcone’s odd actions towards Mooney and her plant in the past couple episodes. But Gotham wouldn’t be Gotham without throwing a couple headscratcher moments like the entire scene with little Bruce. It was such an infuriatingly unnecessary moment in an otherwise great episode that annoyed me to no end, that along with the complete stupidity that Barbara showed when she came back to Gotham to plead with Falcone. She’s presented as a smart and strong woman in this show, it baffled me that she could do something so completely stupid whose only purpose was to back Gordon into a corner. It would have been a better character moment if Falcone used his network or influence to find out where she was rather than this. But again, overall it was a good episode that is taking the show in the right direction.
Episode: The Devil’s Vinyl
This episode is very much a stand alone story that really plays up the horror elements of the show. There’s an acetate that was recorded back in the 30s or 40s by a blues artist who had sold his soul to the devil. And the devil came to collect during the session resulting in the voice of the deceiver being burned into the disc. And I should probably clarify as very few people are likely to even know what an acetate is aside from being a certain chemical. In this instance, it’s a specific type of album used to record music sessions that aren’t specifically made for mass production as it can actually be played immediately after recording on it. And as it has the recording of the devil himself on it, it also has the evil power within it that tends to make people desperately want to listen to it and play it so other people can listen to it. This episode is also notable for introducing Poppa Midnight who also made an appearance in Constantine. There he was mostly helpful, but slightly annoyed at Constantine’s antics, here he is only slightly agreeable, but mostly antagonistic. Especially when he thinks that Constantine is after the same thing he is, so much so that he basically strings him up and leaves him to die in a rather tortuous way. It also has a lot more of Zed becoming part of the team and I’m very quickly beginning to like her as a character almost more than Constantine himself. Even though there is quite a bit of blood in this episode, there still isn’t much of what I would call scares, it continues to have a feeling of a macabre murder mystery combined with the occult and some dark humor. I’m still on board though as they mesh quite well, though I’d be happy if they did have a much more scare oriented episode. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.