This Week in Superhero TV 11/9 – 11/14
Welcome back to another week’s worth of superhero and comic book television. By the way, while I don’t personally have time to add Arrow to my own TV watching, I’d like to have it covered here. If you’re interested in writing a paragraph a week sharing your own thoughts on Arrow, let me know. Once again, I’m pleased to have Rachel Thuro share her thoughts on this week’s Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead
Episode: Self Help
I really hadn’t been that invested in Abraham, Rosita and Eugene since their introduction at the end of Season 4’s “Inmates,” when rescuing Glenn and Tara. They seemed to be good people with the unwavering determination to get Eugene to DC because he claimed he could end the plague of the undead. Despite his lack of an explanation, I went with it, assuming it would never come to fruition, and back stories were never a concern. But when Abraham insisted on setting out for DC again and taking Maggie and Glenn with him, I was a bit angry that the show was once again breaking up the core group, after having just reunited everyone post-Terminus. However, “Self Help” atoned for the group’s split by finally giving Abraham real development, through flashbacks of losing his family because of his own actions, as well as, exposing Eugene as a liar. I never really expected him to be able to save the world, but when he finally breaks down and admits that it had all been a hoax, just so he could have people protecting him against the Walkers at any cost, my heart broke for everyone involved. The anger and fear was terrifying, but not nearly as much as the feeling of “now what” that they all felt when their mission was no longer. Though I thought the trip to DC was doomed from the beginning, that didn’t keep “Self Help” from resonating any less, and (hopefully) cementing Abraham as a definite addition to the main group, though what he does from here is anyone’s guess. Also, Walkers’ rotting bodies torn apart by a fire hose is a total win.
Episode: The Mask
Here is yet another instance of Gotham’s ability to have great moments and horrible moments within a single episode of television. As far as the good stuff goes, I mostly enjoyed the criminal investigation of the episode involving essentially a more dangerous office Fight Club where potential employees at a prestigious office are forced to fight it out for the position in an abandoned office while the rest of the office workers watch via closed circuit TV. And while I still don’t care one bit about baby Bruce, this episode gave a mighty fine moment to a young Alfred Pennyworth. As Bruce goes back to school, he inevitably gets on the bad side of the school bully and later admits to Alfred that he doesn’t know how to fight. Alfred finds the boy’s home address, give Bruce his father’s watch to use as a brass knuckle and has the greatest line in the episode “He tried to kill you; just you remember that next time you see him, and you remember that I let him try.” As for the bad of this episode, I really disliked Bullock’s “speech” where he rallied all the Gotham police to help look for Gordon as penance for not helping him with Zsasz. It wasn’t inspiring in the least, and even though it worked, it didn’t sound like it should have. There’s also the somewhat furthering of the mob scene with Penguin, Mooney, and Mooney’s Falcone spy. None of it had much weight to it, her spy seems to be getting cold feet while the audience knows that she has likely already been found out, and Penguin is just being Penguin. And once again Cat is forced into the episode right at the end. While I initially liked Cat, she seems to be moving away from what I liked about her. I thought she worked best as a mischievous agent of chaos. She is smooth, she knows what she is doing, and it’s all about her. But she gets caught robbing someplace and just once again asks to see Gordon, I just don’t see the angle.
After having a few episodes featuring the metahuman villain of the week, this one finally brings about its first sympathetic metahuman in Plastique. She has the ability to turn anything that she touches into an explosive, seemingly without being able to control it, though it’s unclear as to exactly how it works, or I just missed the memo. As her clothes don’t explode, neither do the gloves that she wears, but it does work on Barry’s costume. But aside from that, even though she is a sympathetic character, her ability makes it difficult to work with. The scientists at STAR labs can’t cure her, and neither can she really be much help to Barry as a crimefighter who can make bombs. On top of that, she’s being hunted by the army led by the great Clancy Brown who had also worked with Dr. Wells several years ago before Wells left due to ethical disagreements. Or at least that’s what he claims. So with this set up, there’s really only one possible outcome in this type of show and that’s exactly what happens. Plastique dies at the hands of Brown as she goes in for an attempt at revenge at the goading of Wells. There is a bit of a weak point at the end which is supposed to be a moment of tension, but that tension isn’t very effective as there is no doubt that Barry will survive this giant explosion, and I was bothered by the fact that they had essentially a repeated conversation about how fast he would have to run to walk across water. It worked well enough when he questioned whether or not he could run up the side of a building, but it was too much of the same thing and no matter what the answer that was given, it essentially boils down to “really fast”. I like how they are showing off some of his different speed powers besides running really fast, but they aren’t all working as well as they could. There’s the typical secretive love story between Barry and Iris, and while that is all fairly typical, it’s still done well. What is nice is how it is dealt with between Barry and Joe, they have such a great relationship together and my favorite scene was when Barry revealed how he could change his voice and there is such a moment of joy between the two of them. There’s also a nice reveal that Joe has known that Barry has been in love with Iris for years. Even if it is such a cliche plotline of “will they or won’t they”, it’s cliche because it works, and it almost always could go either way.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Episode: A Fractured House
Honestly, this episode felt like a giant excuse to show how much of a badass Ward can still be even though he has more or less gone rogue and escaped from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. But as much as some people like Ward, he just seems way too good at everything he does. There’s still a question of his overall motive, but I’m glad that they don’t seem to be going for the full redemption storyline that I suspected at the end of the first season. Even though he is working for the good of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the moment, the way he is going about it is way too reckless and violent for him to continue to be a valued asset for the team. The only positive outcome I can see at this point for his character is that he might become someone like the Punisher when he was part of the Avengers where he is called in to do the jobs that no one else is able to do, the ones where they need to do the jobs that require the elimination of the target. The other aspect of the episode finally answers the question of the mysterious alien writing that has been plaguing Coulson and a few other members. While I’m glad that this issue has finally been resolved, I didn’t quite like how everything was wrapped up in a neat little package. And now it is all ok. The solution that the map was three dimensional was the one aspect that I liked about it, but time will tell if this new-ish alien city aspect of the story pans out in a good way or a bad way.
Episode: A Feast of Friends
This is another episode that treads on some pretty dark elements though it still never feels like horror. The show revisits one of the important aspects of the Pilot episode that has only vaguely been brought up since: when the failed exorcism of a young girl named Astra caused her to be drug into hell. This time one of his friends from back then comes back around. He was, and still is a drug addict that has yet to hit rock bottom, but still wants a chance at redemption. A chance that Constantine isn’t quite ready to give him. It’s also through his friend’s actions that released a powerful hunger demon out into the wild. The concept of the hunger demon is somewhat interesting where it takes the form of a swarm of beetles which enters a person and causes them to gorge on any food that they can find until they die and it moves onto the next host. There’s an interesting aspect where the real world views it as being an exotic and deadly disease and tries to quarantine the areas where the demon attacks have taken place. But the greatest aspect of the episode really shows what steps Constantine is willing to take in order to do what is necessary to hold back the spawns of hell from causing disaster in the world. Ultimately, the demon can only be taken care of by essentially giving it a human sacrifice, trapping it in a human host where its only recourse is to devour the human and eventually devour itself. It ends up being the ultimate form of atonement by his friend, but it’s also a moment of darkness for Constantine as he essentially manipulates his friend into the situation, though it is his friend who ultimately makes the final decision to sacrifice himself. It’s a great bit of depth and darkness that we don’t often get to see in the types of television shows that I’m used to seeing while still keeping Constantine a likable character. Reaslly one of the better episodes so far, if only because of the ending. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.