On the D/L
Family Guy – Season 12 Episode 19 – “Meg Stinks”
We have a binary plot structure this week again. The first plot involves Brian being sprayed by a skunk and being unable to live indoors due to his rancid stench. This doesn’t please him because he’s used to living in the comfort of the house so he has to learn how to be a wild animal. There are some laughs here, mostly around Stewie winding him up at first only to miss him later.
The second plot is Meg wanting to go to a college interview and Peter being forced to take her to this. Meg forces Peter to address why he’s constantly abusive to her. Naturally Peter learns that she’s actually pretty fun and gains an appreciation for his daughter that he didn’t have before, except that he surely does since they’ve done this story before. I’m not picking on them for recycling stories because it’s Family Guy but this recycle is somewhat lazy. I’m sure they’ll do this again.
Overall, funny stuff here. There was a great Arnie joke and a funny explanation for how Peter affords his shenanigans. I actually laughed a lot at that joke.
Friends With Better Lives – Season 1 Episode 5 – “The Bicycle Thieves”
This week the characters are basically split into the boy and girl camps for shenanigans but it’s the guys night that takes the focus. It ends up getting very messy as a result of drinking and they end up stealing police bicycles which they have to return but decide to have some fun with them along the way.
I actually found quite a bit to laugh about with this. The joke about what they do on guys night being more akin to what might happen on a girls night was an obvious one but it managed to amuse. The scenes of them cycling around dispensing vigilante justice on their stolen bikes were pretty funny too as well as their encounter with some police.
The plot involving the girls was so unmemorable that it’s not even really worth mentioning. There’s some nonsense about Jules getting preferential treatment because she’s attractive when she thinks she’s just being nice and Kate spends most of the episode trying to prove this, it’s not funny, not interesting and not clever.
Don’t get me wrong, the show still isn’t good but it is moving away from being unwatchable, somehow it manages to hold my attention for long enough for me to keep watching it the next week. How it’s doing this is something I can’t really quantify but expect a review of episode 6.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – Season 1 Episode 21 – “Ragtag”
This time Coulson wants to fight back and take on HYDRA properly which makes sense since Garrett and Ward really need to be stopped. The episode clearly identifies that there’s a personal stake in this for Coulson which obviously there is given his connection to Garrett and Ward. They try to find out a bit more about their enemy by infiltrating the company that Garrett controls to find out information about Deathlok and whatever else they can get their hands on.
What I really loved about how Coulson’s team were used in this episode was that they were actually acting like spies with their crazy retro -the story gives a reason for it- gadgets, cover identities and general snooping around. I’ve been wanting this for quite some time so it’s a treat to see it here.
We also find out about Ward’s past and why he’s so loyal to Garrett through a series of Arrowesque flashbacks. I wonder if they producers have taken the advice from fans about taking some cues from Arrow and how they do their storytelling a bit literally but I’ll forgive it since they were done pretty well. We get to see Ward change from a confused and emotionally damaged kid to a battle hardened killing machine in a way that makes sense. Garrett’s tough love approach was brutal but the scenes were interesting to watch and it helped us learn a bit more about a character who has been so lacking in personality over the series so far.
Overall, what a fun episode. The tone was light but never forgot the gravity of the current situation and the story was well paced. I found that the jokes mostly hit their marks and the characters were all very well used. I also got a kick out of the old school spy tech. There’s some predictability that comes from Ward and his apparent guilt over what he’s being ordered to do, I’d rather he be straight up evil instead of manufacturing a redemption arc but it’s a fairly minor quibble in the grand scheme of things. Pretty excited for the season 1 finale it has to be said.
Supernatural – Season 9 Episode 21 – “King of the Damned”
Finally, back to the point here. Incidentally, the spin-off Supernatural: Bloodlines was not picked up so the backdoor pilot in the last episode proves to be worse than pointless. Thanks for wasting everyone’s time on that.
Anyway, back to the present. The plot focuses on resolving the Abaddon plot which I honestly thought was going to wait until the finale but there we are. Abaddon goes back in time to retrieve Crowley’s son at a moment before the time history recorded him dead and brought him back to the present to be used as leverage against his dad. Crowley pretends not to care but all the human blood he’s been snacking on lately has given him shades of a conscience and ultimately he can’t let her do it – I have to say I was disappointed in him for that, I always thought Crowley would be a lot colder than that but at least the story gave a reason for him not to be. Abbadon uses that leverage to set a trap for the Winchesters causing Dean to finally get his addict hands back on Cain’s first blade and end Abaddon forever.
This plot worked really well actually, the fight between Dean and Abaddon was really good, Jensen Ackles did a really good job of showing the blood lust that the mark and blade has filled him with, it’s also good to see some payoff with that rather than the persistent mentions of it we’ve had recently. The reasoning for not killing Crowley is a bit weak but given that he’s one of the better things in the show at the moment I’m willing to let that slide.
I liked the scenes between Crowley and his son who seemed to come to terms with the fact that his father is the king of hell and that he was suddenly in the 21st century a little too quickly. They interacted well and there was some amusing temporal fish out of water stuff, my personal favourite was his reaction to an electric light. Similarly Abaddon and Crowley’s scenes were really good, they have a flirty adversarial relationship -just like everyone in this show- and the two actors clearly have a lot of fun with it.
Crowley’s growing army of angels was good to see as well, I liked the war room angle they went with but this was mainly set up for the final episodes, nothing wrong with that as it fed into the main plot well enough.
To sum up, it’s good to get back to some plot at long last and I would say it was worth the wait. There was a satisfying resolution to a story we’ve had going for a while now and gave us some decent set up for the final episodes of the season.
Arrow – Season 2 Episode 22 – “Streets of Fire”
It would seem that episodes 21, 22 and 23 are designed to be one big episode that has to be split into three to allow for the scheduling imposed on this show. The reason I say this is because episode 21 ended in the same way a scene would end rather than the episode coming to an end. There wasn’t even a cliffhanger in the traditional sense.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s just an interesting choice as well as being a practical way to make a finale of this scale possible because I’m guessing that what they’ve set up here is not cheap.
I should probably actually talk about the episode, which still needs to hold up on its own merits and be watchable all by itself. The middle of a story sometimes has the tendency to drag when the problem has been established and we’re waiting around until the story can start wrapping up but I can say with certainty that this doesn’t happen here. Most of this episode is just one bad thing after another happening to everyone on the team as the situation in Starling City quickly deteriorates with Slade’s superpowered army running amok destroying things and killing people in key positions.
As situations go it does seem really desperate, Oliver is hopelessly outmatched which is clearly shown every time he comes across one of Slade’s henchmen. This really impresses me as there’s an army of virtually unkillable, super strong people running around but the show isn’t watering them down in any way to make the odds more manageable -for a bad example of this see the Uber Vamps in the last episode of Buffy. These guys can be and are taken down a couple of times but each time it’s very difficult and takes a lot out of the person fighting them so massive credit for the production team on that one.
There’s a lot going on here with the return of Sara and Malcolm Merlin -the latter was spoiled in the trailer so I’m not counting this as something I’m spoiling- who help out with the deteriorating situation in any way they can. Malcolm has the selfish mission of trying to win Thea’s favour by protecting her and this is something that I really liked, he basically plays on her recent insecurities around the loss of her family by reminding her that in terms of paternal figures he’s basically all she’s got now. Thea might just be vulnerable enough to play into that so that’ll be interesting to see explored. I also really liked Sara’s story where she feels like some kind of inhuman monster and needs to be reminded by Laurel that she’s a good person and can make a difference which gives us something of an origin for the name Black Canary, it has been attributed to her in the past but never in such a positive context. Also, between last episode and this one, Laurel has a knack for snapping heroes out of a funk and getting them to be more proactive.
Oliver gets back to moping at a point in the episode but it made dramatic sense here because he was at his lowest point having just lost the Mirakuru cure and having to watch the city that he loves so much burning around him while there’s absolutely nothing that he can do about it. Oliver is only a man and it’s easy to see why this would be overwhelming for him. I don’t think anyone in his situation would know where to start with all of this. The story reminds me of the Batman comic arc Knightfall in a lot of ways. In that story Batman was pushed to his limits by many coordinated attacks on Gotham by Bane just like Oliver is by Slade in this story.
Overall, this was fantastic stuff, what we got here was basically 42 minutes of straight action which was fantastic. The episode never forgets about the fact that the characters are central to this story, taking the time to show us how they are all reacting to this terrible situation. There’s more I could say about what was going on with Sebastian Blood and the island plot -which gets Oliver to the point where he’s confronted by Slade so to give us a binary conflict in the finale- etc but I think I’ve written a lot already. The show has everything in place for a fantastic finale so hopefully the resolution will be as satisfying as it seems to promise.
The 100 – Season 1 Episode 8 – “Day Trip”
The kids on the surface are given information from The Ark pointing them to the location of a supply depot which should house enough to help them survive the coming winter. Bellamy and Clarke take it upon themselves to go and check it out which gives Bellamy the chance he needs to make a run for it before his attempted assassination of Chancellor Jaha catches up with him.
Exploring the supply depot leads to the discovery of guns that will in theory afford them better protection against the Grounders. Surprising no one is that Bellamy likes Guns and Clarke does not, though using one makes her feel a little differently. I can’t imagine giving guns to teenagers will work out well for everyone concerned but it does open up quite a few possibilities.
Octavia continues to befriend the captured Grounder and he reveals his name, Lincoln. She feels a connection to him because Lincoln helped her out so she gives him water and tends to his wounds slightly. They’re clearly setting up either different factions of Grounders or the fact that at least some of them are sympathetic, not a bad idea but they’re not doing enough with it as yet. Setting up a Romeo and Julietesque story isn’t going to win them any points for originality either.
A well worn trope is used for characters to explore their feelings here, that trope is hallucinogens, several characters are exposed and hallucinate things that they feel scared of or guilty about. Bellamy is haunted by Chancellor Jaha and the hundreds of people that died as a consequence of him breaking the radio. It’s not badly done but it’s just not great, the zombified people surrounding him is an image that’s been seen many times.
Clarke is haunted by her father who tells her to forgive her mother when she can’t bring herself to. This part was much better, Clarke showing how the burden of leadership has affected her and the guilt she feels around allowing Lincoln to be tortured. I always enjoy being reminded of Clarke’s maturity and her principles so I’m glad this was done well here. I did think it was particularly effective how Bellamy turned Clarke’s advice around on her to make her rethink her reluctance to speak to her mother.
Finn and Raven’s forgiveness and reconciliation story isn’t something I was especially interested in either, I feel like this issue is going to go back and forth and I really can’t be bothered with it, I hope I’m wrong though.
Overall, this episode was ok. There were really good things in it and some of the character stuff was interesting but this show has done better. The guns offers something of a game changer for the teenagers on the surface as they are now equipped to defend themselves against The Grounders.
The Big Bang Theory – Season 7 Episode 23 – “The Gorilla Dissolution”
After last week giving us an amusing yet emotional time we get a fairly plot driven episode this week. Progression in this show comes at the rate of your average glacier, it does happen but it’s slow and mostly noticed after the fact that something has changed the status quo in some way.
The structure of this episode progresses the relationships of Raj/Emily, Howard/Bernadette and Leonard/Penny in different ways leaving Sheldon/Amy sidelined. Sidelining Sheldon for one week is something I can really get behind, there’s often a lot of focus on him, most likely because he’s the most popular character and is so wonderfully brought to life by Jim Parsons that the writers want to cram the episodes with as much Sheldon as possible but it’s nice to see some of the other characters given the spotlight for a change.
Howard/Bernadette’s story has them considering the prospect of having children which is something they discussed back when they were engaged if I remember correctly. Fate provides a litmus test for the couple as parents in the form of Howard’s injured mother who can’t even move after an accident involving a falling treadmill which creates a situation similar to raising a child with the need for constant care and attention. This plot is a little predictable but humorous enough, the jokes involving Howard’s unseen mother always make me laugh even though it’s basically a repetition of the same material.
Leonard/Penny’s story focuses on her own diminishing self worth through her career when she becomes redundant in a film where she is supposed to be the star because she had enough integrity to suggest reshooting a scene she was sure could be done better. Ultimately the moral of this story is that Penny doesn’t need to be successful in her career and all she really need to be happy is Leonard. It’s a sweet enough story and the payoff of the engagement at the end was actually quite satisfying. I liked how the characters pointed out that it was a bit of an anticlimax and then let it be done properly -whatever properly is- anyway.
Lastly there’s Raj/Emily and the slight progression of their relationship. Raj sees her with another man at the cinema and automatically fears the worst, as you might expect the worst is not true and she actually really likes him. Raj’s insecurity is something a lot of people can relate to in a new relationship as is the hurt that’s caused by seeing something that makes you feel betrayed. Emily could really have offset that by simply telling him the truth beforehand and not allowing him to leap to the conclusion in the first place but then there wouldn’t be a story. I found Raj’s reaction to it all to be very realistic and very in character for him.
Overall, I liked this episode and thought that sidelining Sheldon to allow the other characters some much needed development was a good idea, there’s plenty of time to focus on Sheldon and his infinite neuroses but the other characters are there too and they need to have some time to grow. The jokes worked for the most part -even though most were a little repetitious- and there were some genuinely heartwarming moments.