Another week, more TV reviews! This week on TV Thursday – 9/25/14, we bid adieu to Extant, but keep moving with Doctor Who, Haven, The Strain and Z-Nation. I also add Gotham and we see Sleepy Hollow, Person of Interest and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. return for the second season. Hail Hydra! How did Extant do in its first season? Read on and find out!
Doctor Who #8×05 – “Time Heist” – Clara is getting ready for a date with that idiotic Pink jerk with whom she hasn’t the slightest chemistry, but the Doctor, totally clueless, decides he’d rather go do something fun. He gets a call on the Tardis telephone and suddenly, they’re in a room, holding big ugly worms, with two other people. They hear recordings that say they’ve voluntarily had their memories erased and are inside the most secure bank in the universe and the guards are about to break down the doors to kill them. Sure, makes sense, right? Their “benefactor”, for lack of a better word, is called the Architect and he tells them, through a recording, that they’re to steal something from the bank but he doesn’t tell them what. The other two, Psi, a cyborg hacker/bank robber with a computer for a brain and Saibra, a mutant who can shapeshift into anyone she touches, are just as confused, but they all go on the run from Ms. Delphox, head of security for the bank of Karabraxos, who, with her captive mind-reading Teller, can seek out the guilty and deliver swift and permanent justice. So, while the Doctor and his rag-tag team work their way through the bank, trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do, Delphox tries to catch them, knowing that if she fails, the head of the bank, Karabraxos, will have her killed. Of course, it all seems too well planned and there are far too many things that help the Doctor exactly at the time he needs it, finally he realizes that the heist has been planned from the future, when the Architect must have known what would happen in exacting detail and be able to leave helpful clues behind. Along the way, Psi and Saibra tell their stories and the things that they’d most love to find in the bank. Psi, who had purposely erased his memories of his friends and family to keep them safe, would love to get those memories back and the only device that can do that is stored in the bank. Saibra, who cannot touch anyone without morphing into an exact copy of them, wants her mutant powers gone and, of course, that is available in the bank too. As for the Doctor and Clara, their reward lies in the mysterious private vault that they must fight their way to, but along the way, both Psi and Saibra are apparently killed protecting the Doctor and Clara. Once they get into the private vault, they come face to face with Karabraxos, whose clones, like Ms. Delphox, have been running banks across the galaxy. Karabraxos is none too happy with Delphox and, after telling her to send along the Teller to drain the minds of the Doctor and Clara, tells her she’s fired and will be killed. After all, clones, especially unreliable clones, aren’t worth keeping around. This gives the Doctor an idea as to who the Architect must be and he gives Karabraxos the Tardis’ phone number. We flash back to the beginning of the episode where we see that it is indeed Karabraxos calling the Doctor. She’s on her death bed and regrets things she’s done in her life so she begs the Doctor to go and set one particular thing right. The Doctor is the Architect and he sets everything up to hide memories of the future from the Teller. Inside the private vault, Karabraxos had been keeping the mate of the Teller prisoner to keep the Teller working for them. Freeing the Teller’s mate, the Doctor drops them off on their home planet, then drops off Psi and Saibra, not dead but with their rewards intact, wherever they wanted to be dropped. He then takes Clara back to exactly the time they left so she can go on her date. Now this is a pretty mindless romp that is needlessly complicated, but then again, all timey-wimey stuff is. The Doctor had to break into the bank in order to give his phone number to Karabraxos, but he could only have broken into the bank after Karabraxos called him to ask him to do it. It makes your head hurt if you think about it too much. The idea of rescuing the Teller’s mate is a nice one, except that with only two members of the species left, they’re doomed to extinction anyhow. It felt, maybe for the first time, that Capaldi was leading the band this week, mostly he’s been a follower so far but this time he actually took charge, which was a welcome change. Still, I can’t get onboard with Capaldi’s Doctor, at least not yet and I continue to hate Clara and wish an asteroid would land on that Pink moron. Still, I have to give it a little credit, it was sort of a fun adventure.
Extant #1×13 – “Ascension” – This is the end of the season and, honestly, I’m pretty sure the end of the show. While CBS hasn’t made a definitive announcement, Halle Berry has already moved on to another show and showrunner Mickey Fisher has implied that CBS is cancelling the show. That’s not a bad thing because honestly, there really isn’t anywhere to go from here. They wrapped up a lot of the plot threads, although there were a couple of questions left open, and I don’t really know that I want to see any more. It was decent while it lasted, I guess. Time to move on. Last week, Molly came face to face with her “offspring” and Julie discovered the horrible truth about Odin, that he was a techno-terrorist that planted a bomb in Ethan. This week, Molly is headed into space to rescue Sean and destroy the alien infestation. How they did all of this was a bit wonky, to be honest. First, let’s start off with Ethan. Once Julie found out who Odin really was, they had to work fast to get Ethan to the lab so they could search his insides for the bomb. Of course, Odin just goes entirely missing, nobody thinks to alert the authorities, in fact, they hardly mention Odin at all and he only appears momentarily in the terrorist tape. They entirely botch explaining things to Ethan, in fact, they could hardly have handled it worse. They should have just shown him the tape but that wouldn’t have given the “drama” of Ethan almost pushing the detonator button and blowing himself and everyone at the lab sky high. It was one of those “everyone has to act stupid” moments that I hate so much. Just tell the kid! And when John finally talks him down and hands over the remote detonator, John promises him that he’ll stay right by his side and wake him up again. You know, there was an even easier way to do this, just take Ethan’s batteries out, the same way Odin did and let Ethan’s power run down. No muss, no fuss, no arguing, but no silly, overblown drama either. So anyhow, they open Ethan up and find the bomb, it’s a magical bomb that will blow up if anyone tries to remove it, or if Ethan moves around too much. That seems to be a rather silly type of explosive to use, especially since Ethan is a kid, he does kid stuff, Odin wouldn’t want him blowing up before he got to the lab, would he? But no, plot device theater is on the air. So John wakes Ethan up and tells him the bad news. Of course, they can’t back Ethan up because he’s far too complex for modern technology, so when Ethan goes, everything that was Ethan goes with him. Meanwhile, Molly is getting ready to be shot into space. She’s got three plans available. First, she can re-establish contact with Earth from the Seraphim and they can re-direct the ship out of atmospheric re-entry. Secondly, she can manually use the station’s thrusters to push it out into space. Third, she can blow up the station and get back to Earth on her shuttle. Of course, we know things won’t be that easy. She makes it into orbit easily enough and docks with the Seraphim station, but she can’t find Sean or Katie. Shawn is stuck in the Aruna escape capsule and she gets him out, but he’s been exposed to the alien virus. They need to replace one component to get the antenna back online and Molly goes out into the mold-encrusted area to get the only replacement but she runs into not-Katie, who tries to convince her that she’s real, but Molly knows she’s an alien duplicate. Molly knocks her down and locks her in, but not without losing her protective glove and becoming infected herself. Now, both she and Sean are under not-Katie’s control and she can show them illusions at will. They try to contact Mission Control, but the alien offspring has invaded the base and everyone has to be evacuated. They manage to lock the offspring in a stairwell while everyone gets out. This means that Mission Control can’t pilot the Seraphim so we’re on to plan B. While Molly gets the ship ready, Sean is controlled by not-Katie into cutting the fuel lines, ending plan B. Everyone is concerned that Molly is in trouble, but nobody can go back into the base or they’ll be controlled by the offspring. Ethan, who figures he’s going to blow up anyhow, volunteers to go because he’s immune. He gets into the base, closely followed by the offspring, who wants the Seraphim to burn up because that will spread the spores all over the planet. Molly sets her charges for plan C, but Ben refuses to allow her to detach from the station because she’s infected and might bring the alien to Earth. It’s a little late for that if you ask me. Anyhow, Ethan contacts Molly from Mission Control and she says she’s not coming home. He reboots Ben by raising the temperature in his hands, since the reboot system requires human heat to activate, thus triggering the explosive. The offspring comes into the room and Ethan tells him to run so he isn’t killed in the big boom. Molly escapes, Ethan explodes, everyone is sad. Five days later, Molly is home and she and John are still sad, but suddenly, Ethan appears on their computer screens, somehow he’s been backed up. I guess we’re supposed to think that the offspring did it. Ethan says that he’s everywhere, I guess he’s infesting their version of the Internet now. Meanwhile, we see the offspring walking across a bridge at night, a couple stops to offer him a ride. The end. Okay, not quite. There are a lot of things not even addressed. What happened to not-Katie? Yes, the Seraphim station went boom, but we never saw her die. Can she die? After all, she’s an energy creature that got aboard the Seraphim without a spaceship. Why did she need the station to explode to get to Earth? Why not just enter the atmosphere herself? No explanation. What happened to Odin? No explanation. What happened to Yasumoto? No explanation. How did Ethan become the magical boy? No explanation. How did the offspring survive the explosion? No explanation. Sure, they’re leaving something for next season, on the off-chance they get picked up again, but they didn’t even make an attempt to address any of that. It all ended so conveniently, like all of the pieces just magically fell into place at the last moment. Besides, they never bothered to address the biggest question of the entire series, what the alien wanted on Earth to begin with! I also think their decision to bring Ethan back at the end really ruined any emotional impact his sacrifice might have had. Worse, since his death was ostensibly what was going to kill the alien, having the offspring show up again, apparently entirely unharmed, Ethan died for nothing. The whole season was marred by uneven pacing and too much dead space. They could have told the story in half as many episodes, which is really sad for a 13-episode season. They needed a much more involved plot and one that wasn’t so blatantly telegraphed in the end. I can see where they might have something to go on for a second season but after the first, I hope this show just goes quietly into the wild blue yonder.
Gotham #1×01 – “Pilot” – Lots of people have been excited about Gotham, a show that explores the backstory of Batman and the rest of Gotham City. Mostly, it’s about Jim Gordon as a rookie cop as we learn about Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle and the rest of the crazies that will eventually come to make Gotham City their home. We start off with Selina Kyle, although she’s never identified by name. She’s a young cat burglar, which is kind of handy since one day she’ll be Catwoman. She picks pockets and steals milk to feed the stray cats, but she just so happens to be in a particular alley when a gunman takes down Thomas and Martha Wayne in an apparent robbery gone wrong. Jim Gordon and his partner Harvey Bullock are called in to investigate the murders. Bullock is a crooked cop and he doesn’t want to be saddled with Gordon at all but because Gordon’s father was a famous politician, the police chief isn’t going to give him any slack. Bullock doesn’t want the case, he’s terrified of botching it because it’s his ass on the line if he doesn’t produce results, but after Major Crimes insults him while offering to take it off of his hands, he decides he’s going to keep it anyhow. They go to see Fish Mooney, a major player in the Falcone crime syndicate and while Bullock and Mooney reminisce over old times, Gordon goes outside to see her men beating another employee who has been stealing from her. Of course, one of her closest henchmen is Oswald Cobblepot, later to be known as Penguin. They threw a ton of Batman personalities into this episode, such as Edward Nygma, who will later be the Riddler, as the police forensics expert. Anyhow, Bullock gets a tip that a local thug killed the Waynes and they go to talk to him. It’s interesting to note that he’s actually the father of Poison Ivy. He runs and after attacking Gordon, Bullock shoots and kills him. Back up in his apartment, the police find Martha Wayne’s necklace and are convinced they’ve cracked the case. Bullock and Gordon are heroes in the department but all is not as it seems. Oswald meets with Montoya and Allen from Major Crimes and tells them that it was a setup, Fish Mooney actually had the necklace planted to divert suspicion from the real killer. Gordon goes back to the supposed killer’s apartment and finds that he didn’t wear the right kind of shoes that Bruce Wayne reported, he couldn’t have done it. Meanwhile, Gordon’s fiancee Barbara has some skeletons in her closet that she doesn’t want Jim to know about and Montoya tries to convince her to stay away from Jim because he’s involved with some hinky stuff. Jim goes to confront Fish Mooney but she decides that he’s too much trouble and wants to have him killed. Harvey doesn’t like that idea and while Jim is trussed up in a packing plant, he calls Fish and tells her that she doesn’t want him as an enemy. She tells her men to kill him too. They’re saved by the arrival of Falcone, who doesn’t like what Fish is doing without his authorization. He was a friend of Jim’s father, implying that his father was crooked. As they drive away, Harvey reveals that he has Cobblepot in the trunk, Fish wants Jim to put a bullet in him at the end of the pier. Jim pretends to do it, shooting past Oswald and pushing him into the water. As Oswald makes his way back onto dry land, he kills a fisherman for his sandwich. Jim goes to see Bruce Wayne and tells him that they really don’t know who killed his parents but he’ll keep looking and Bruce tells him it’s okay. Okay, first things first, Alfred Pennyworth is *NOT* Australian! He just isn’t. And even if he was, he wouldn’t be saying things like “mate”. That’s completely and totally inappropriate for the show, the whole point of Alfred is that he’s a proper British butler, not Crocodile Dundee. I’m really disappointed in that. I think the casting otherwise is fine, I found all of the characters believable. I’m trying to figure out what secrets Barbara might have. In the comics, she was Jim’s first wife and mother to daughter Barbara, who would become Batgirl. They divorced after Jim had an affair with Sarah Essen, who would become Jim’s second wife. Knowledge of her is pretty sparse in the comics so I guess her secret could be almost anything. To be honest, I’m a little nervous about the direction the show might take. Is this just going to be a police procedural set in the Batman universe? How long can they keep throwing future heroes and villains at the screen? Oh look, Basil Karlo! That’s Clayface, eventually! Or there’s Harvey Dent, who will someday be Two-Face! I like those little Easter eggs but it gets old if not done right. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how they actually run the show week to week, but so far, I’m liking what I’ve seen.
Haven #5×02 – “Speak no Evil” – I was less than impressed with last week’s season opener, I think they’ve strayed too far from what made Haven worthwhile and especially, having broken the Nathan/Audrey dynamic, lost something fundamental to the show. One thing I will say, unlike Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black, Emily Rose is just not convincing playing two characters. You, my dear, are no Tatiana Maslany. I find Mara to be utterly unconvincing. Duke, still looking for Jennifer, finds Nathan on the beach and is so busy with his own problems he doesn’t even realize that Nathan has been shot. Luckily, Nathan feels no pain and apparently, Mara conveniently hit nothing important so after a little patching, he’s as good as new. Mara is trying to figure out how to open one of her “thinnies” and kills a number of people doing so. She tries to use Vicki’s trouble to open one, but she isn’t strong enough and Mara says she needs to create an upgrade. Unfortunately for her, she has none of the black goo. Only coroner Gloria has some and it’s locked up at the morgue so that’s Mara’s next stop. However, Gloria sees her coming and hides in a drawer until she’s gone. Nathan spills the beans to Gloria before he lifts the goo globules and takes off. He wants Mara gone and now that he realizes that Audrey is gone for good, he offers to let her use a single goo ball to open a thinnie, then she can leave for good. Duke is still affecting people around town, sewing up their eyes and mouth, but nobody knows what triggers it. Dwight talks to the Barrows family and discovers that the trigger is denial. Duke suspects that Jennifer is dead and is sewing up anyone that might confirm it. Of course, Jennifer really is dead, we saw that back in the cave when she stopped breathing, but she was dumped in the water and washed up on the beach, it just took a while to identify her body. Dwight confronts Vince, telling him that the Guard needs him, he’s been too busy watching over Dave, who has been too busy being in a coma and presumably keeping Mara from accessing the “thinnies”. Dave finally wakes up and Vince extorts some answers from him by withholding his beloved Tab. Nathan offers to tell Duke about Jennifer, he’s know him the longest and thinks he’ll stand the best chance of not being sewn up. Nathan almost dies, although frankly, since the nose isn’t sewn up, you can still breath, and Duke finally admits that Jennifer is gone. Nathan goes off to meet Mara, but she double crosses him and is going to use the one goo ball to bring William back so they can continue to experiment on the people of Haven. However, Nathan thought ahead and uses Vicki to help knock Mara out. He handcuffs her and calls Vince, the Guard are going to come and get her and force her to set things right in Haven. Of course, while she’s out, Audrey resurfaces and says she’s still in there. Nathan decides not to turn her over at all, instead he drives away with her hog-tied in the back of his truck. This was certainly a better episode than the season premiere but still suffers from many of the same basic problems. Audrey being out of the picture, for the most part, really ruins the feel of the show. Jennifer being dead was a downer, even though I didn’t have a lot of love for her character, she did add something to Duke and allow him to lighten up a little. Some of the previews suggest that Audrey does come back, at least from time to time, but we still have to deal with that awful Mara character that is totally unbelievable. They did bring up one interesting idea, that the brown-haired Audrey Parker we saw a season or so ago was the real one, that makes me wonder how many of the other “Audreys” that she’s been in the past also were just “copies” of someone real? If so, were these people unaware that they were really Mara, or did they know all along and were just playing the part? There are still many questions from the past we haven’t confronted, such as Nathan and Audrey’s son from a previous life, he has to figure into all of this somehow, especially since he vanished after the barn blew up. I’m still not thrilled with the direction this season has taken but I’m willing to go on a little faith and see where they go with it. Hope it’s somewhere good.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #2×01 – “Shadows” – Following the excellent season finale last year, I was wondering how this show would come back for season two and I’m really impressed. We flash back to 1945, after the death of Red Skull, when Hydra is gathering all of their powerful artifacts. One in particular, a lump of metal, is apparently responsible for the death of many of Red Skull’s minions. Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos arrive and foil Hydra’s plans, confiscating the lump and packing it and the rest of the artifacts away, just like the Ark of the Covenant. So it’s back to the present and our team is monitoring a deal between Izzy Hartley and Lance Hunter buying the box we saw earlier from a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Browning. Things are going well until Crusher Creel, better known as the Absorbing Man, shows up and kills Browning and steals all of his data. Creel has the mutant power to manifest whatever material he touches as his skin and can make himself bulletproof and indestructible. Hartley and Hunter are very disappointed that Coulson sent a backup team without telling them, but Coulson tells them to go dark. General Talbot is on television, saying that he’s taken down both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra and is cleaning up the last stragglers. Sure he has. The team gets back to the secret base and are happy to learn that Coulson is there. He calls for May, who is mad at him for failing to check in as he promised but he’s been travelling the world looking for trustworthy agents to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. He complains that he has to fly economy because the Bus’s stealth circuits don’t work, something that Fitz is supposed to be fixing, but Fitz isn’t the same as he used to be, he’s had brain damage and has trouble putting things into words. If it wasn’t for Simmons as his constant companion, he’d never be able to get any work done. May shows Coulson the photos they got from Browning and Coulson cancels his flight, he knows that this is the original 084 and they have to find it. Creel gets back to his base and contacts Hydra. They’re very happy with his progress and reward him with a sample of some of the hardest diamond in the world. He has a large collection of materials that he can hold and transform his body into. Hartley and Lance describe their encounter with Creel to Coulson and they learn that Creel was supposedly “put down” by Garrett, but that was before they knew that Garrett was leading Hydra. Obviously, they spirited Creel out of S.H.I.E.L.D. and offered him a job. Coulson comes to see Skye and asks her to go “down there”. She very reluctantly agrees and goes to see Ward. They’re keeping him in a secure cell and he just wants to talk about how much he misses Skye. She clearly hates him but she has to see if he knows anything about where Creel might be hiding. Ward had apparently tried to kill himself several times while asking to see Skye. He gives her some intel and promises never to lie to her again but she just walks away disgusted. Agent Tripplett bumps into Talbot as he’s at the park with his family and drops a cell phone into his pocket. While Talbot is on the phone with Coulson, Creel comes up to attack him but his bodyguards put Creel out of commission. Talbot is taken to safety but in reality, he’s kidnapped by Coulson and taken to the secret base. Coulson tries to convince Talbot that he’s on his side but it doesn’t work. They dump Talbot in his car and he calls to order increased security on Creel but the call is intercepted by Coulson. The team gets into the military base where Talbot has been keeping super-powered criminals and dangerous artifacts. Coulson knows that being taken prisoner was part of Creel’s plan to get the 084 artifact. He becomes transparent and escapes his cell while the S.H.I.E.L.D. team searches the premises for the artifact. Hartley finds it, but when she touches it, she can’t let go and it starts to change her body. They call Coulson to get permission to abort but he refuses.
Hunter says he’s taking Hartley to the hospital, but in the car, she says that the object is killing her and orders him to cut off her arm. He does, but just then, Creel appears and crashes their car, killing Hartley and the driver and recovering the artifact. The rest of the team steals a Quinjet and escapes from the military base. In the end, the artifact is brought to Dr. Whitehall, the same Hydra agent from whom Carter took the 084 in 1945, he’s no older than he was 50 years before. We find that Simmons isn’t really helping Fitz, he’s been hallucinating it all. So there are more Easter eggs here. Dr. Whitehall is actually Daniel Whitehall, a legendary Hydra agent known as the Kraken. Of course, you have Crusher Creel as Absorbing Man, who was so powerful that he almost defeated the Hulk and Thor. In the comics, Creel met and married Titania, but when she came down with cancer, Thor helped him to seek professional care and Creel became an acolyte of Thor. This was just a cool episode, there weren’t any “oh yeah!” moments, but a lot of stuff to make your Marvel comic book geek smile and that’s what I’ve really missed a lot. Much of this episode was just to get people back in the groove but it was enough. Great episode, I’m really jazzed that S.H.I.E.L.D. is back.
Person of Interest #4×01 – “Panopticon” – Season four opens not that long after the close of season three. Samaritan is still in control and Finch, Reese and the team have had to go underground to survive. Luckily, the virus that keeps Samaritan from seeing them is still in place. Finch is enjoying his time as an adjunct professor at a local college, but that’s more than Shaw can say, she has a job at a makeup counter at a local department store. Reese is working as a narcotics cop and we don’t know what Root is doing, she’s ostensibly still serving as the servant of the Machine. Of course, John isn’t happy, he doesn’t want to show up and clean up the mess after the crime is through, he wants to save people and he tries to convince Shaw to get back into the numbers game, but she knows that doing so would just make him visible to Samaritan and get all of them killed. Finch refuses as well, he’s through working for a computer, he just wants to be left alone to teach. However, Reese gets a call from the Machine and gets the number of Ali Hasan, owner of an electronics store. He’s being blackmailed to create technical resources for a local criminal gang, in particular, an untraceable cell phone network that the police can’t crack. His first attempt doesn’t work but they give him 48 hours to make a new one or else. He delivers a prototype phone but in reality, it’s a bomb, he tries to kill the gang member who threatened him and his son but Reese grabs the phone and it goes off harmlessly, at least unless you’re an SUV that he threw it under. John and Fusco bring Ali in for questioning and he says he only cooperated because his son Ben was in danger. They go back to the electronics shop and Ben is gone and the place is trashed. Hasan gets a call from Felix and is told that if he doesn’t do what the Brotherhood wants, Ben is dead by midnight. John walks into the bar used as a headquarters by the Brotherhood and demands answers but Shaw comes in and whacks him over the head to stop him from blowing his cover. Root goes to see Finch and tells him that Reese and Shaw are out of control and that the Machine has a plan. Hasan is having trouble getting the private cell phone network operational and Finch shows up and says he knows something about networks and will help. They discover that they want the private network because “The Whale” is coming to New York. “The Whale” is the largest heroin shipment to hit the city. Hasan finishes the network but the Brotherhood refuses to give back Ben. Finch sends John the address that Ben is being held at and John arrives and throws the place into chaos. The drug dealers are trying to save the heroin, giving John enough time to save Ben. Just then, someone from Homeland Security, Meg Watkins, arrives and demands to know what’s happening. The cops tell her it was a drug war but she doesn’t seem convinced. Root meets with Shaw and tells her to do what her phone is telling her to do. Shaw isn’t happy that the Machine wants her to go on a date with someone named Romeo, but it turns out to be a job and they’re looking for a wheel man. She’s only too happy to oblige. Finch realizes that the Dean of his college, who had circled spelling mistakes in his thesis, was actually sending a message and when he follows it, he makes a shocking discovery. Now as much as I’ve liked this show, I have to say I’m less than thrilled with the direction it took last season and less so with our heroes hiding from Samaritan. It just isn’t the same show that it was back in the day. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, I just know that I’m not enjoying it nearly as much as I once did. Heroes who hide aren’t really heroes, even though John really wants to be a hero again. They have to get rid of this Samaritan storyline soon, I’m really not digging it at all. This Meg Watkins character is probably going to be recurring, although it’s not clear yet if she’s a good guy or a bad guy. While PoI has always had a dark side, I don’t like how dark it has gotten, they need to lighten up a little.
Sleepy Hollow #2×01 – “This is War” – To be honest, I had largely forgotten what had happened at the end of the first season, except that Ichabod had been buried alive. When the second season opened with something different, it threw me for a moment until I realized they had to be doing a dream or hallucination sequence. We’re told that a year has gone by, Jenny and Katrina are dead and somehow, Ichabod and Abby have taken Parrish hostage and are keeping him chained to a wall so he can help them decipher puzzles. Of course, all of this is an illusion, Ichabod is still in a pine box and Abby is still in Purgatory, Moloch is trying to learn about a key, once possessed by Benjamin Franklin, that can release him and his minions from Purgatory forever. That’s the hunt for the week, finding that key. One thing I’ve always found a bit bothersome about this series is the fact that Ichabod was so intimately involved with everyone and everything in the Revolutionary War era. Now we find that he was an apprentice to Franklin? Sure, why not? But we find the truth, Franklin wasn’t trying to experiment with electricity, he was trying to destroy the key with a lightning strike but it didn’t work, normal things cannot destroy the key so he decides he’ll hide it. The forces of Moloch are after the key but luckily, and this is even more of that special Sleepy Hollow luck, Abby remembers that Jenny once had read a journal, written by Franklin, describing the key. Well isn’t that convenient? So anyhow, our heroes find themselves back in their predicaments and Ichabod discovers that New York dirt is made of sulfur. Sure it is. It allows him to blow his way out of the ground, except that it would never work that way. Sulfur is only explosive in dust form. Even if Ichabod were buried in pure sulfur, lighting it on fire would never make it explode, or even burn, because it requires oxygen, which isn’t present in sizeable quantities in dirt. So yeah, physics fail, guys. Meanwhile, Katrina has been taken prisoner by the Headless Horseman who loved her in a previous life. If she played her cards right, she might have escaped but she pulled some really stupid stunts and ended up tied to a chair without being able to eat. Good job Katrina. Oh, and the Headless Horseman has a necklace that he once gave to Katrina that allows her to see him with a head. I’m sure that’s cheaper than all the CGI but then, what’s the point of being a Headless Horseman with a head? Jenny, who isn’t really dead, has just as many problems, she’s being interrogated by Parrish about the location of the key but she manages to escape. She meets up with Ichabod and Ichabod realizes that Franklin would only have left the key with someone he trusts, himself, but he isn’t buried in Sleepy Hollow. They go to the only statue of Franklin in town but the bad guys are already digging there. Ichabod remembers something Franklin once said to him about the key being under the alarm clock and goes to the clock, where there’s a brick marked “BF”. He digs it out and there’s the key. Ichabod goes into Limbo where there’s someone who looks just like him trying to trick Abby into drinking some water but she sees through it and whacks his head off. They manage to escape from Purgatory just as Moloch tries to rush the gate but he doesn’t make it and the key disintegrates. The three are reunited but they are not happy, things are going to get worse before they get better, but what else is new? Moloch contacts Parrish and gives him a magical armored figure with a flaming sword. Cool! Seriously, Ichabod has been far too intimately involved in American history. Enough already. And for Katrina, I thought she was a witch? Can’t she do something about seemingly normal leather straps binding her wrists? Anyhow, I’m glad the show is back but this first episode seems to be mostly a recap and a quick resolution to what happened in the season finale, I guess we’ll have to wait to see new stuff going on.
The Strain #1×11 – “The Third Rail” – As we close on the end of the first season, I have to reflect on the difference between what’s in the book/comic and what’s on the show and they are quite strikingly different, which honestly is a good thing because I was afraid I would just be seeing the exact same story a third time. Luckily, there are enough differences, some significant, that I keep coming back to watch week after week because it is still interesting. Setrakian and his crew are getting ready to go after the Master and Vasiliy knows where he is, in the tunnels under the former Twin Towers. Of course, this leaves the problem of what to do with Zack and Nora’s mother. See, in the book, where Nora’s mother isn’t a character, Eph asks Nora to stay behind to take care of Zack and after much convincing, she reluctantly agrees, leading to a sequence where Kelly, Zack’s mother, chases them through the tunnels, trying to get Zack. But no, that doesn’t happen here, Nora insists on coming along and Zack is left behind to take care of Nora’s senile mother. I actually like that sequence better, even though Zack does go out into the streets to get the old lady some cigarrettes. Good thing it’s the vampire apocalypse and nobody is around to card him. Speaking of that, Eph has a fantastic line to Vasiliy, who is really enjoying the end of the world as we know it. He says: “you’ve been waiting for this your whole life, haven’t you? Well congratulations on the vampire apocalypse.” Great stuff! So anyhow, leaving Zack and the old lady behind, the crew head into the subway tunnels and immediately, Vasiliy takes charge because he’s been there before and says he knows the tunnels like the back of his hand. This brings him into conflict, again, with Eph and these two have a dick-waving duel that really gets pretty absurd. It seems strange that Eph, who at the beginning of the episode is still talking about ending the plague and making everything all better, who has been pretty reluctant to get on-board with the whole killing vampire thing from the start, now wants to lead the team. He really isn’t the leading type. So they get into the tunnels and almost all of the vampires that Vasiliy saw earlier are gone, except for one poor, dumb vampire who steps on the third rail and fries himself. What a good name for an episode! So they find a little hole in the wall and reason that all of the vampires went through there. Okay, hold on. Newly turned vampires, as we’ve seen, are pretty much mindless, shambling corpses. The idea that they can all be commanded, even by the Master, to go crawling through this tiny hole seems a little far-fetched. It’s a really small, claustrophobic hole and, from what we’ve seen, new strigoi aren’t exactly in complete control of their limbs. How do they manage it? But anyhow, Eph goes crawling through the tight tunnel to check it out and at the other end, hears Kelly’s voice and instead of reporting back, he just wanders off looking for her. Meanwhile, the vampires have shown up on the other side of the hole and as Vasiliy holds them off, Setrakian and Nora head through the hole. Sorry, the idea of an old man like Setrakian dragging himself through that hold, I really don’t buy it. Anyhow, it’s Vasiliy’s turn, he tries to get through the hole and gets stuck, which is really a nightmare scenario, and the vampires behind him almost get him, although I’m not sure what they could do against his boots, before he makes it out and Nora shoves a UV light into the hole to keep the vamps away. Meanwhile, wandering Eph finds the Master’s box and the Master himself. The Master says he’s going to take everything away from Eph, but the rest of the team arrives and Vasiliy throws in a light bomb that fries all of the vampires but the Master gets away. Setrakian is really upset by this and wants to chase after him irrationally but they find a big chamber where there have to be thousands of vampires nesting. Setrakian does destroy the box that he created many years before, denying the Master a place to rest. Meanwhile, Gus gets home and finds his half-brother is a vampire. He has no problem dispatching him but when he looks for his mother, he can’t find her. He tries to call her work and she isn’t there, he eventually finds her locked in a closet, turned. He’s unable to kill her so he locks her in the apartment. There’s a cute scene where Gus passes Zack, who is trying to get cigarettes in a local convenience store, just after two teenage idiots get killed by a vampire and Gus goes to take care of business. There were so many great scenes in this episode, even though I still hate the look they gave the Master, the rest was really fantastic. The changes they’ve made to the script keep me guessing and now that we’re within spitting distance from the end, I want to see how they wrap it all up. Great episode!
Z-Nation #1×02 – “Fracking Zombies” – We start off with the convoy running over zombies with gleeful abandon, it’s fun watching them explode but I guess there are hazards in the post-apocalyptic world, like running out of gas. The team goes searching for more and encounters a biker with whom Cassandra seems to have an unspoken past with, who tells them about a nearby refinery where they can get gas. Of course, it’s overrun by zombies and they have to figure out how to get rid of them. There’s this weird pounding noise that is attracting the zombies to the top of a nearby tower and we learn that zombies are attracted to rhythmic sounds. While Addy and Mack head up to the top of the tower to stop the noise, Garnett and Roberta go to check out a nearby tanker. If they can get it filled, their fuel problems are solved all the way to California. Doc takes Murphy, who is deathly afraid of zombies (no surprise) somewhere a little safer, even though it turns out to be less so than he thought. Anyhow, the zombies turn out to be really, really stupid, in fact, you can walk right past them as Mack and Addy find out on the way up the tower. At the top, they find a pressure valve is making all of the noise and Addy has to sacrifice her beloved spiked bat to stop it. The zombies have been falling into the fuel tank and the whole thing is filled to the top with oil-soaked zombies. Garnett and Roberta get the tanker filled up but then the zombies start to arrive and they have to beat a hasty retreat. Doc gets out of the car, breaking up a perfectly good game of Go Fish, to beat up on some zombies since Murphy is freaking out and he gets attacked by a bunch of walkers too, only to be saved by 10,000. He’s named himself that because he’s on a mission to kill 10,000 zombies. So far, he’s over 1,000 and counting. Meanwhile, the biker and Cassandra go elsewhere to play some music and draw off the zombies but the biker says he’s taking Cassandra back to whatever group she ran away from and she refuses and pushes him off the scaffolding for the zombies to eat. There’s certainly a lot more to her than we know so far and it looks like we find out a lot of her backstory next week. We also find out that even though Murphy says he blacked out and doesn’t remember the zombie attack, he’s lying, he remembers everything, that’s why he’s kind of “off”. I can understand that, if I had eight zombies chomping on me, I’d be “off” too. Still, Murphy is a dick and I hope he doesn’t continue to just cause problems week after week. Up in the north, Citizen Z is trying to keep things together, his lab in California comes under attack and he’s forced to remotely short out the power to get the electric fences off so the scientists can escape. This potentially erases all of their data on the vaccine, which is not a good thing. Thereafter, he sees a dog sled coming toward the base but the sled driver is a zombie, completely frozen. One of the dogs is barely alive and he takes it inside, but there’s another dog that has been infected by the zombie virus and there are some tense scenes where the dogs circle him on a pile of boxes as he tries to shoot the zombie dog. I was sure he was going to kill the non-infected dog, he said he hadn’t seen another living thing in over a year but I’m glad the show runners weren’t that cruel. Now, at least, he has a friend. Back at the refinery, everything goes sideways and the tanker blows up, setting the refinery on fire. 10,000 scavenged some big gas cans so at least they can get back on the road. Cassandra doesn’t want to talk about what happened but everyone, especially 10,000, can sense that something is going on with her. They fuel up and get back on their trip to California. I have seen some people questioning the relative speeds of the zombies but they made it quite clear in the first episode how it works. Newly turned corpses are fast, they can move just as fast as the people could before they died. As time goes on though, things start to slow up, I think rigor mortis starts to set in and everything slows down, giving you the shambling classic zombies that we see in this episode. I’m not sure why some people have a problem comprehending how this works, the rules were set out in the first episode quite clearly. Still, I think this slipped a little from the first episode, it was fun to watch but really needed something.
Best of the Week: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets top billing, I had forgotten just how good it was last year and all of the fanboy moments it has. Hopefully people have just learned to accept it as the excellent show it is without whining that it isn’t the Avengers. It isn’t, it was never meant to be, deal with it. It is excellent for what it is. Just enjoy it.
Worst of the Week: Unfortunately, for a show that started out with a lot of promise, Extant ended their first and likely only season with a whimper. It was just too slow, with too many uninteresting plot twists. They wimped out of the only real emotional moment in the series by bringing Ethan back from the “dead”. No thanks, let this one fade into oblivion, it should have been better, it just wasn’t.
Other Stuff I Watched: Bionic Woman #1×09-1×14, Godzilla (2014)