This Week in Superhero TV 11/16 – 11/21
Welcome back to another full week of superheroes and comic books on TV. Surprisingly the weakest episode of the bunch for my purposes was the Flash which has been my favorite this season. Still, quite a bit to talk about in all the shows that I’ve been watching, and once again I’m happy to have Rachel Thuro share her thoughts on this week’s The Walking Dead. I’d love to hear your thoughts on one or all of this week’s shows as well so don’t forget to leave a comment!
The Walking Dead
Pieces are finally starting to fall into place. Two weeks ago during “Slabtown,” I was a bit agitated when the episode ended without much resolution to Beth’s situation at the hospital. When Carol came rolling in on the gurney, I hoped the next time we visited Grady Memorial, it would just be Carol playing possum to gain access to help Beth escape, with the assistance of Daryl, naturally. Now after seeing “Consumed” and a preview for tomorrow’s episode, it’s clear that the inhabitants of the hospital are going to play a bigger villainous role with the entire group through the mid-season finale. As for the episode itself, I was very excited for quiet character building time with two of the show’s biggest badasses. Since Season 2, Carol and Daryl have been thrown together as an obvious couple, but we really haven’t actually seen them together that much over the last three seasons. And now we have had an entire episode to get to know them better as individuals and a couple, which was gratifying, even if the coupling was a bit scant. I really dug the motif of fire and smoke throughout the episode, as they are two things tied to both Daryl and Carol’s surroundings as they have grown throughout the series. As for the newer character of Noah, I was initially disappointed that he was quite antagonistic toward the two in their first meeting, and his only reasoning was in needing weapons. But I know it had to be moment of character building for Daryl to not let Noah die in the end when the tables were turned. Then to end with the shocking moment of Carol being hit by a car sent my anxiety through the roof, especially watching Daryl endure her being taken away by the people of the hospital, and he being unable to help. On the Walker side of things, I really appreciated the living dead in the sleeping bags and tents who had clearly set up a camp on the bridge between two buildings in downtown Atlanta, all seemingly turned at the same time. I have to wonder what their story was. The downside of the episode for me was the van falling off the overpass, and its two inhabitants surviving. The show is far from realistic of course, but that moment was pushing it for me. However, with the rest of the episode being so well grounded, I can forgive them that misstep. With three relatively quieter, character building episodes in a row, here’s hoping that we get a little more action in the final two before the winter break.
Episode: Harvey Dent
Gotham already feels like the Two Face of Batman TV shows, it has the good side and the bad side and it’s a flip of the coin as to which one it’s going to be from one moment to the next. And just when you thought they weren’t going to shoehorn in any more Batman foreshadowing. Oh wait, who am I kidding, they can’t go two episodes without another moment of Batman foreshadowing. This time around Two Face gets his time in the sun, or at least half of his face in the sun and the other half in shadow. It’s at least ten to fifteen years B.B. (Before Batman) and Harvey Dent is already making a name for himself on his way to being Gotham’s White Knight. He’s trusted by the MCU and so by extension Gordon gives him his trust, but there’s already the seeds of doubt where he already has his two sided coin, and we get to see him flip out on the heretofore unknown mob guy to really hit home the fact that he has a darker side and will definitely become Two Face at a later point in time. That moment was like most of these moments in Gotham, totally overblown and hamfisted. The parts of the episode that I did like were surprisingly the scenes with baby Bruce and Cat. I did actually like this more playful and subtle foreshadowing of the Bat and the Cat romance. It allowed Bruce to actually be a kid for a moment and I liked seeing that. It also gave him those nice little moments of realization about how his training in such a sterile environment won’t really help him out if he ever gets into the nitty gritty of Gotham’s underworld proper. There was also some more development on the Penguin plot, but I didn’t really feel one way or the other about it, it was more of Penguin being Gotham’s Penguin which I’m still not fully on board with, but I am starting to appreciate how he is making the Penguin his own thing that is different from anything else out there right now, but also weird, offputting, creepy, and still menacing in his own way. And the final scene where we find out that Barbara has gone back to Montoya was just a complete eye roll moment for me. It didn’t feel like it was representing a truly bisexual character, it felt like it was tossing out a lesbian scene for the shock and ratings factor. Yet another mixed bag from Gotham.
Episode: The Flash is Born
I hate to say it, because out of all of the new shows, the Flash has been my favorite. But this week’s episode has been one of the most cliched and cheesy episodes of the show so far. It felt way too much like one of the poor episodes of Smallville’s first season where it focuses too much around the freak of the week who has a connection to Barry and Iris. He was the high school bully and he has grown up to be a metahuman bully with a crush on Barry’s girl who isn’t really Barry’s girl. I mean, just replace Iris with Lana and Barry with Clark and I doubt it would be too hard to find an episode that mirrors this pretty closely. But I will say that there are still a few standout moments here aside from the villain of the week plot that I could care less about. I loved the b-plot where Joe was subtly questioning Dr. Wells about Nora Allen’s death and the Reverse Flash, as I know almost anyone who knows anything about the Flash already suspects that he is the one responsible. I may have said it before, and I’ll probably say it again, but I love Joe as a character and an actor. It raises more questions about Dr. Wells’ character as we as an audience already knows that he has information from the future, though Joe has been put off of the scent for the moment, and the end was such a great moment where he gets to see the Reverse Flash for himself who takes all of his notes and threatens Iris’s picture with a knife through her picture’s heart just like what happened to Nora. I also can’t deny that the sonic boom punch was awesome, especially when punctuated by Cisco’s enthusiasm. Too bad the rest of the episode couldn’t live up to that excitement.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Episode: The Things We Bury
This was a great episode, especially for anyone who thought that they might still be angling towards some sort of redemption for Ward’s character. No, he is fully within the realm of a villain, and a very interesting villain at that. He’s good at what he does, he has intimate knowledge of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its operations, and there’s honestly no telling what his real motivation or goal is. There’s been some speculation that he might end up becoming Taskmaster who was featured in the recent direct to video Marvel animation Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United, speculation that Brett Dalton himself appreciated but did not confirm or deny. At the end of season one I was a bit worried at what he would become here in season two, but I must say that I do like the direction they are going, especially after his full turn here. There’s still an element where he is working both sides, but I’m pretty sure that whatever his goal is, it’s entirely for his own purposes and not to specifically align himself with either Hydra or S.H.I.E.L.D. On the other side of things, Skye’s father gets a bit more screentime and allows himself to become quite the person of interest as well. There’s also plenty of flashbacks that shed light into Whitehall’s background and how he has remained youthful for all these years. We also get a brief cameo from another Whedon alum who I recognized as Sierra from Dollhouse who plays what appears to be Skye’s mother in a great reveal at the end of the episode. It’s such a simple moment, but it informs so much more about what angle her father is playing and what is actually so special about her. It’s really a standout episode in an already stellar season, I can’t wait to see where everything goes from here.
Episode: Danse Vaudou
Here we get to find out a few things about our characters that don’t go by the name John Constantine, and also get a life lesson in letting go of the guilt we may still harbor for the loved ones who have left us too soon. There’s also a much more subtle way of introducing a future DC character than the way that Gotham often does. Here we get an early glimpse into detective Jim Corrigan who will eventually become the spirit of vengeance known as the Spectre. Something that the show doesn’t tip off until the very end, unless you’re a Spectre fan already and simply recognize him by his name alone. He is also the mirror into the past of Zed, someone he recognizes as a previous missing persons case. Apparently she left home when she was young and quickly became a bit of a petty criminal, though he doesn’t actually mention what her real name is, only that he knows it. There’s also a nice bit of forced teamwork between Constantine and Poppa Midnight who tried to kill him just a couple episodes back and still remembers the fact that Constantine cost him a valuable artifact. It’s a great strained relationship where the two of them have a common goal, but by no means do they like each other or the fact that they have to work with each other in the first place. The actual ghost story felt a little bit on the heavy handed side as a story with morals and a deeper message rather than just a bit of a horror story. It also ends by sowing the seeds of distrust in both Constantine and the viewer when Poppa Midnight shares the revelation that the Rising Darkness is coming whether Constantine likes it or not. And besides that, someone close to him will betray him which obviously points the finger directly at Zed, but she is not the only possibility from the audience’s perspective. Overall, it was a nice bit of character and world building even though the ghost story was on the weak side of things. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.