On the D/L
Family Guy – Season 12 Episode 17 – “The Most Interesting Man In The World”
The plot -such as it is- of this episode is Peter leaves Stewie at the park and brings home the wrong child after Lois forces him to spend some time with his son. Lois calls Peter an idiot which causes him to volunteer for any business trip that his company has going. This causes him to spend some time in random cities and become more intelligent as he absorbs the cultures associated with them.
Many of the laughs come from Peter acting pretentiously intelligent, so much that he can even call Brian out on pretending to be well read. There’s a particularly funny joke involving Bonnie at a shooting range. Tasteless humour comes in the form of a molestation joke that is actually pretty clever.
In true Family Guy tradition, they play fast and loose with continuity. Chris is stupid this week despite him being fairly smart and calculating a couple of weeks ago and Stewie is terrified when left alone at the park despite his previous ability to navigate global distances on his own with ease. Can’t really mark this show down for lack of continuity since it doesn’t really pride itself on that.
To sum up, the jokes are funny and the situations are equally as funny, high marks for this outing.
The Tomorrow People – Season 1 Episode 19 – “Modus Vivendi”
The truce in itself feels too good to be true and that’s probably because it is. Bathory meets with Russell to discuss the terms of such an agreement and pretty much seduces him with wine and fine foods as he’s doing it. I didn’t buy that Russell would be so gullible here, granted he’s a person who likes to see the good in people but it’s out of character for him to cave so easily. Bathory even jokes about tracers in his drink and Russell doesn’t seem to consider that it’s real. Cara agrees to let Russell take everyone on a night out to celebrate their apparent freedom and Stephen invites some Ultra agents, this actually goes pretty well and everyone eases into a friendly atmosphere. Cara is the only one who seems suspicious of this but I think that more of the characters should be. Stephen and Russell especially.
Elsewhere, John and Jed are guarding Roger’s body, Jed is clearly unraveling and barely keeping himself together. Guarding the body proves to be a good idea as they are attacked by Ultra agents, this forces them to abandon this safe house and bring Roger’s body to The Tomorrow People’s hideout and perform emergency surgery on him to remove the bullet while Stephen guides Roger back to his body telepathically. Stephen’s mother, Marla is brought in to assist with the surgery. I was very impressed that she didn’t let her emotional connection slow down her work ethic, Marla is very realistically written and acts professionally here. She also doesn’t let it bother her that she is working with Jed, she just gets on with the job, really good stuff.
I actually like the budding relationship between Stephen and Hillary, there are strong hints that Hillary wants more from him than a casual fling and the way Stephen acts around her at the night out seems to suggest the same. Hillary is more than a match for Cara too, toying with her even though she doesn’t have her powers. She’s an intelligent and resourceful person who knows how to protect herself. I also liked seeing a softer side of her in this episode which is something we haven’t really seen before now. Stephen cancelling on Astrid at the last minute because of Hillary is pretty bad form on his part and it’s not something that makes him endearing. There also seems to be a growing friendship between Astrid and Cara that seems to be building from the fact that neither of them trust Hillary, makes it seem fairly realistic in that sense.
The revelation of the purpose of the machine is somewhat disappointing, it enhances Roger’s -and now Stephen’s- ability to stop time which apparently opens a portal to the oft mentioned refuge -some kind of paradise where they can all live in peace-. It’s Stephen’s willingness to use it that gets me, he has no reason to believe that Bathory is telling the truth about anything but he agrees to undergo training to master his abilities so that he can use the machine anyway. I understand his reasoning for using it in this episode when he has little time to save his father but aside from that he seemed to be all too willing to trust people that he probably shouldn’t.
This was another good episode, all of the characters were given something to do and the plot definitely moves forward. It’s brought down by the fact that Russell and at times, Stephen are acting out of character in order to move the plot forward which is never a good way to tell stories. There’s a not so shocking twist reveal at the end of the episode that only lends credence to the fact that in this show, nobody can really be trusted.
Friends With Better Lives – Season 1 Episode 2- “Window Pain”
Pretty much the same as last week. Most of the cast were insanely annoying (especially Lowell), the situations were seriously unfunny and the story was really dull. Also, apparently Andi is pregnant in this episode -she wasn’t last time- and we still never see their child.
As with the last episode, James Van Der Beek provides pretty much the only comedy in the episode. His comic timing is amazing, his character is a bit of a manchild but he plays the role well. I’ll watch the next episode to see if he can be funny a third time.
Supernatural – Season 9 Episode 18 – “Meta-Fiction”
This was a really unusual episode and not just because it broke the fourth wall. Supernatural has been doing these “meta” episodes for quite some time, mostly to great success but this one didn’t fully embrace the tongue in cheek nature that most of these tend to follow.
Metatron serves as the fourth wall breaking device when he directly addresses the camera and asks what makes a good story. From there the episode explores one possibility of a good story, in this case a hero vs villain tale. Castiel has been reluctant to lead a merry band of angels attempting to get back into heaven despite the fact that they all want him too so Metratron engineers an event to try and convince them.
This event comes in the form of a returning character long thought dead -the angel Gabriel or commonly known as The Trixster. He shows up and tells Cas just what he needs to hear, that he is willing to lead the angels and Cas should just follow him. This gets complicated when they are attacked and Gabriel sets out to heroically sacrifice himself so that Cas steps up and leads his people. If this seems really cliché, that’s because it is but it makes sense given Castiel’s ignorance to popular culture. It’s not something that he would notice, it’s actually quite an inane detail that he notices that brings him out of the fantasy.
Metatron’s interaction with Cas in this episode is really interesting. I really like that Metatron sees himself as the hero of the story which makes Cas the villain, why Metatron is seeking to engineer his own downfall by giving himself a formidable opponent is as yet unclear but I’m guessing it’s because he feels invincible and wants to have some fun along the way. It’s really interesting how he sees the universe being made up of stories and that some of them are more interesting than others.
The Sam and Dean story this week is somewhat by the numbers but there’s some good moments when they capture Gadriel. I like that Dean is finding it more and more difficult to suppress his dark and violent urges but still has some control over it. I can’t wait to see how the mark of Cain story will turn out, I don’t imagine it’ll be a happy ending. Cas’ reaction to Dean having the mark of Cain is great, I had assumed that he already knew but apparently not. It’s also worth noting that Metatron is immune to all the tricks that keep angels at bay which probably makes him unbeatable at this point, let’s hope for no contrivances to close off this plot.
Overall, this was a good episode but I don’t think it took full advantage of the fourth wall breaking potential it had. I’m also unsure of Metatron is able to manipulate events or just predict them, watch the scene at the end with Cas and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Either way, I like that the characters are completely unaware that they are following Metatron’s wishes. All of the pieces are lining up for the season finale so it’ll be interesting to see how Metatron’s plan is shattered. Not the best episode of the season but definitely worth a watch.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – Season 1 Episode 18 – “Providence”
Following on from the game changing events of last week’s outing, the team are picking up the pieces and trying to decide their next move. Coulson is contacted by Glenn Talbot -someone generally from the Hulk’s supporting cast- who tells him that they’re coming to The Hub to ask them a few questions.
Coulson is smart this week so he decides to get the plane in the air and get out of dodge to head for destinations unknown. Replacing Ward on the team is Agent Triplett who might just be Ward’s full time replacement -kind of ok with that as it happens. Some hidden coordinates on Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. ID badge lead them to one of Nick Fury’s hidden facilities called “Providence”. This seems handy as it’ll give the team a new concealed base from which to operate as they try to figure out a plan.
This side of the story has some good stuff in there. I really like that the Fitz/Simmons dynamic has been all but split and complicated by the addition of Triplett. Simmons is becoming more assertive and confident while Fitz is becoming more protective, it’s an interest place for both of these characters to go. Coulson practically unraveling at the prospect of having nowhere to go was a good scene too since he’s always been the source of calm for the team. It really brings home how intense this situation really is.
More interesting than that was the Ward and Garrett story as they raid a facility called “The Fridge” containing all sorts of classified stuff, including but not limited to Gravitonium -could we be seeing Graviton soon? I liked the discussion that Ward had with Reina over his methods for gaining the team’s trust which calls back to earlier events in the series that sort of make sense in the context that he’s giving. Reina’s reaction to the identity of The Clairvoyant seems to mirror the reaction of almost everyone watching this show. Garrett just doesn’t seem the type because he’s a soldier, that much is evident so I don’t believe that the plans that he’s put in motion are really his style.
There were plenty of comic book Easter Eggs in this episode too including a reference to secret facilities under a barber shop and a hint that Garrett might be a cyborg. There’s a few others but wouldn’t want to give them all away.
Overall, this episode was very good. the show’s new direction seems to be off to a good start, the characters are on the whole feeling a lot more fleshed out and the all out war against Hydra brings the show the antagonistic force that it needed. I hope this increase in quality continues because this could be a show that I love watching every week.
Arrow – Season 2 Episode 19 – “The Man Under the Hood”
After promising to fight back in the last episode, Oliver certainly makes good on that. The episode opens with a bombing of the Queen Consolidated Applied Sciences division in an effort to slow Slade down from manufacturing mass quantities of the superdrug Mirakuru and building an army of people like him. It was a quick sequence but a good one, I really liked Oliver’s double take when he is reminded that the guards being assaulted used to work for him. There was also a cute moment from Felicity where she realises that she’s a bomber.
The episode moves on from that and furthers the overall story in many different ways. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Laurel’s scenes which she spends processing the information Slade gave her last time regarding Oliver’s identity. If one thing has been established about Laurel it’s that she is an intelligent character and she is treated as such here. She calmly and deliberately investigates Oliver as well as The Arrow’s actions since he appeared on the scene. Through this she figures out that her sister must be The Black Canary, what does she do with that information? She keeps it to herself after a talk with her father helps her realise what The Arrow represents as well as her own conclusion as to Oliver’s importance in her life. Laurel has mostly been the weak link in this series -at least in season one- but season two has brought a lot of different challenges for the character and she comes out of them seeming likable. Katie Cassidy’s performance has gone a long way to bring all of that across. Her acting has been very nuanced, conveying a lot through facial expressions which gives us real insight into what the character is thinking. I actually look forward to seeing more from Laurel in each episode, I’m really excited about the direction they’re taking the character.
It’ll go without saying that the episode has to deal with Thea finding out her true parentage and as expected she isn’t too happy about it. Her reaction harkens back to her strops in season one but it actually fits here since she has an issue that’s worth this level of upset, she feels hurt and betrayed which definitely shows here. Unfortunately Moira and Oliver need her to sign some paperwork that protect their financial assets but she is unwilling to do so -completely understandable but it’s not going to end all that well for her. I do like that she’s completely distancing herself from the family that she no longer feels a part of and I was particularly impressed by the fact that she brought up trying to kiss Tommy in the last season. Part of me expected them to do a Star Wars and gloss over that but they threw the issue out there for all to see, it’s great to see Thea’s character stretched so far to her limits in this way as this season she has mostly been fulfilling a background role with all her drama being connected to Roy.
Another thing this episode dealt with was the acquisition of Queen Consolidated by Isabel Rochev. It was somewhat in the background but still a prominent feature. I really liked the scene where Oliver confronted her and found out things about his father that he didn’t previously know, including that he always knew that Thea wasn’t biologically his and this made no difference to him. Props to that resolution not suddenly changing Thea’s mind.
There’s another background story in the form of Quentin Lance’s incarceration. This story is relegated to only a few scenes but the story is effective. We see how loyal Quentin is to The Arrow, largely because he knows that his daughter works closely with him but also because he truly believes in what The Arrow is doing and respects him for doing that. The conversation that he has with Laurel is particularly well written, I really like that Quentin doesn’t want to know his true identity because that would make him something less than a symbol, he just can’t know The Arrow as a man who has a family and other such normality, the scene made him seem very Jim Gordanesque. I really like that Quentin doesn’t care about The Arrow’s identity because he doesn’t want to think of him as a person whereas Laurel won’t betray him because she cares about the man under the hood, it presents a really interesting difference in opinion that ultimately arrives at similar conclusions.
Let’s not forget the Oliver/Slade conflict since it was a big part of the episode. As I said above the episode opens with Oliver taking the fight to him. The repercussions of that mean that Slade breaks into Oliver’s headquarters to steal The Clock King’s skeleton key so that he can steal a prototype blood transfusion machine to supply Mirakuru to multiple people at once. When Slade confronts Oliver and his team in their headquarters he makes quick work of them which causes a trip to the hospital for Oliver and Sara and he makes off with what he went in to steal. It’s quite jarring to see that Slade can literally hit Oliver where he lives without even breaking a sweat, he’s the sort of threat that can show up anywhere at any time. The conflict is turned on its head slightly when Oliver gains a victory and destroys the machine, something that Slade clearly doesn’t expect. Nice to see that Slade can still be surprised and hasn’t thought of everything. I wonder what Slade’s reaction to this revelation will be, especially since he has his army now (inclusive of a super powered Isabel). It should also be mentioned that draining Roy to power his army was quite a striking image -if a little too biblical- as well as being slightly reminiscent of the first X-Men movie.
The island story is tied into the Slade/Oliver conflict with the revelation of a potential Mirakuru cure. Oliver admits that he had the chance to cure Slade and instead chose to kill him which ultimately leads them to the mess they are in now. I’d almost be willing to bet that a similar decision is coming Oliver’s way in the following episodes. I really liked the moment when Oliver killed Ivo to save Sara the burden of having killed someone showing that he doesn’t take it lightly. I’m also sure that this will become important in the episodes to come.
In among all this we were also introduced to two future supporting characters in the upcoming Flash TV series -assuming it gets the go ahead- named Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow. This was the weakest part of the episode because it felt so out of place. The characters were good enough and the actors played them well but tonally it didn’t mesh with the rest of the episode as well as the approach to the introduction being somewhat questionable. They were introduced as if we were supposed to know them already in the same way that Felicity apparently does but they are complete strangers to us. This episode was originally a backdoor Flash pilot until the go ahead was given to do a proper pilot so this is a holdover from that but the execution could have been far better.
I’ve said a lot about this episode but that’s because I loved it. The producers have given us another episode where nothing else could possibly be crammed into 42 minutes -they’re becoming experts at this- and the episode does not suffer for it, the pacing is excellent and none of the stories feel superfluous. Only thing bringing it down is the clumsily executed introduction of future Flash characters. I can’t wait to see what happens next and I wonder if Slade’s army will all be loyal to him or will reject following orders the same way Roy has.
The 100 – Season 1 Episode 5 – “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”
This episode was another example of this show’s propensity to surprise the viewer. The main story in this one was the situation on The Ark which has grown quite desperate. It seems as if the only way to buy them some time is to let over 300 people die to give the others a better distribution of oxygen, this may seem brutal on the surface but desperate times call for desperate measures. Chancellor Jaha approves the idea of making it look like an accident by pumping sleeping gas into a section of the station and then cutting off the oxygen.
I can see the reasoning for this, making it look like an accident may not incite as much panic among the population as the certainty of death in a matter of months but at the same time wiping out hundreds of people who are unaware of it is a grim prospect. Deciding who lives and who dies is arguably not a responsibility that anyone should ever have, especially when the victims of circumstance don’t even know that it’s coming. Jaha intends to join the section so at least the decision is not taken lightly and it’s clear that he’d be unable to live with himself after making that decision. It’s clear that Kane leading The Ark is not something that people want to happen.
An alternative is posed when Abby leaks the video that her husband made explaining the grim situation which makes the population aware of what’s going on. This causes volunteers to step forward to die for the good of the population and most importantly, their children. The episode shows the ramifications of this through a man who has a daughter that is going blind due to oxygen deprivation, once he finds out that people need to die so that the rest can live he volunteers without a second thought, comforted in the fact that he can actually do something to help his daughter. It can only be assumed that the rest are volunteering for similar reasons.
The way this was handled was heart wrenching, the show pulls no punches in giving the gravity of the situation. I was absolutely expecting a last minute quick fix that would prevent this from happening but they followed through magnificently. I was reminded of Battlestar Galactica in the sense of there not being simple solutions to every situation. I also liked that the man made it clear to Jaha that he was only doing this for his daughter and reminded Jaha that he has to do right by everyone. Really excellent stuff.
On Earth the story isn’t so strong, Raven is now on Earth and the love triangle is in full swing. After making it clear that Clarke and Finn’s night of passion was something they both wanted and needed Raven shows up and assumes that nothing has changed between her and Finn. I’m sure he assumed that he would never see Raven again but he seemed a little quick to cheat on her. One thing I will say is that I like how maturely Clarke handled it all, basically telling Finn that it was done and not to be brought up again. Of course it will be brought up again but at least her characterisation wasn’t sacrificed in service of the story. I’m sure this annoying love triangle will be here to stay but I’d rather it wasn’t.
Bellamy is back in full douchebag mode this week, he finds Raven’s crashed pod first and before even checking if she is alive or not he takes the radio and tosses it into some water. I understand that he’s not eager to have people on The Ark catch up with him since he shot Chancellor Jaha but this is beyond selfish, I like that Clarke wastes no time in telling him how much of an idiot he is and that he’s basically responsible for killing over 300 people by taking away the only method of giving people on The Ark hope. All is not lost when they are able to send up some rockets which are seen by Jaha and Abby but still, if Bellamy hadn’t damaged the radio then the death of all those people might have been prevented.
Overall, I loved this episode. It didn’t skirt around the emotional weight associated with noble self sacrifice and there was no downplaying of the severity of the issue. It’s a brave move for a show to make. it’s a little brought down by the love triangle stuff that will only continue to annoy me but if The 100 keeps telling strong, emotional stories then I’ll have every reason to keep watching.