03 May 2016

Castle: Much Ado About Murder (8x20)

Ugh Castle and Beckett got to see Hamilton on Broadway? How did they snag those tickets? So jealous. But anyway, this was pretty much your standard-issue Castle episode. Nothing to write home about, but nothing bad either. Let's dive in.

Cons:

Jewel Staite should, by all rights, go in the "pros" section, but I have to admit that seeing Fillion's Firefly co-star in this episode made the reveal of the murderer super obvious. It was one of those obnoxious "twist" endings where after dealing with fierce mob bosses and drug dealers and all this stuff, the murderer was actually the woman we saw for just a minute at the beginning of the episode. We never talk to her or build up the reveal in any way, and yet I still knew she was the killer because you don't bring Jewel Staite in to play such a small part unless she gets to have the confession speech at the end. It was just disappointing to waste her on such a nothing part without a lot of meat to it. She and Nathan Fillion hardly interacted at all!

Another point along the same line - Martha showed up in the secret hotel room of the murder victim, and it turns out she was giving him acting lessons. The only problem is that from that point on, she had almost nothing to do in the story. If you want to do something focused on Martha, then great! But don't dangle her character in front of us for just a second and then not have it lead to anything!

Elementary: The Invisible Hand (4x23)

Okay, so to be honest I was really distracted when watching this episode, and a lot of the finer plot details escape me as I now try to recount it. This was a good-ish episode, but a bit of a letdown after the last two weeks. Let's hope the finale next week can pick up the slack. Also, I actually mean it this time when I say I'm going to be brief.

Cons:

The plot, as I mentioned, is a little hard for me to pin down because I suck and I wasn't paying much attention. But the basic fact is that Morland is not being targeted by Moriarty herself. She passed on her organization to a sinister Russian dude named Joshua Vikner, who has a henchman named Krasnov kill some of Morland's workers and set off a bomb blowing up his work building. Morland escapes, and Joan and Sherlock continue to investigate and try to pin down the reasons Morland is being targeted. Is all of this coming from Moriarty in some twisted way? As the episode ends, Joan and Sherlock enter the Brownstone to find a bomb waiting for them inside.

So... honestly. Why do the cliffhanger thing with the big "it's Moriarty" statement at the end of last week's episode if you're not going to follow through with Ms. Natalie Dormer? From the promotional materials, it doesn't look like she'll be turning up in the finale next week either, unless they're keeping it seriously under wraps. In comparison to Moriarty herself, any villain that they bring out to challenge our heroes is going to feel second-rate. Joshua Vikner was a pretty generically sinister figure. The most interesting things about him, really, were the things that connect him with Moriarty. Apparently this is the guy who fathered Jamie Moriarty's child. I wanted to know more about that, but instead we got a lot of creepy mustache-twirling and sinister one-liners.

02 May 2016

Once Upon a Time: Firebird (5x20)

Wellllll... I am feeling some frustration about some things, because I feel like we've done enough with the fake-outs at this point. At the same time, I greatly enjoyed the vast majority of this episode. Let's take a closer look.

Cons:

While most of the episode focused on the plan to get out of the Underworld, we did also focus on Rumple and Pan a bit. It was a weird detour, to say the least. Basically, Rumple and Pan blackmail Hades by taking Zelena captive, forcing Hades to tear up the contract for Belle's baby. With that done, Pan thinks that his son is going to help him out of the Underworld by stealing a heart for him, and indeed we see Rumple take Robin's heart. However, Rumple later secretly gives Robin back his heart and instead puts a container of water from the river of lost souls inside of Pan instead, disguised as a heart. He wanted to make sure his father never found his happy ending. Pan dissolves into the river, and Rumple takes the still unconscious Belle back with him through the portal to Storybrooke.

I guess I'm just annoyed that all the buildup for Pan was wasted. Instead of becoming some sort of twisted ally for our heroes, we barely got any screen time with him, and then Rumple defeated him, and that was that. The kid playing Pan is such an amazing actor. I really wish he could have had more of a chance to chew the scenery. Roping Robin into the plot line was weak and super random as well. He barely got any screen time, again, and every time he shows up for an insignificant bit of story, it just serves to emphasize how little he's had to do this season. Also, after a stressful few weeks trying to work out what to do with this whole "Hades owns the baby" thing, it feels a little anticlimactic to have the problem solved so easily. I mean, I know Belle wouldn't approve of Rumple's methods, but all he did was briefly kidnap Zelena, and then let her go free once he got what he wanted. In the grand scheme of things, and in comparison to stuff Rumple has done in the past, this seems downright tame.

01 May 2016

Outlander: La Dame Blanche (2x04)

This season is just so awesome. This show is just incredible and I love it SO MUCH.

Cons:

I don't really have anything big. In some ways I still think things are being spelled out a little too clearly, which means some subtlety is being lost. Mostly, this comes into play with the Comte St. Germain. He's just so obviously evil that it doesn't do much for me.

Also, there's another rape in this episode. This time poor Mary Hawkins is the victim. I don't have a problem with using rape as part of a story, but as with the books, I think it's relied on a little too heavily. It seems every named character is sexually assaulted at some point, and it can be a little exhausting and unpleasant, to say the least.

30 April 2016

The Vampire Diaries: Kill 'Em All (7x20)

Okay. I'm going to rapid-fire this one. Short version? I didn't like it.

Cons:

This episode continues the crusade to kill off the vampires released from the Phoenix Stone, while Bonnie and Rayna wait back at the safe house.

Let's start with Matt and Stefan. Despite the fact that Matt tried to have Stefan killed, I guess they can still work together. Matt tells the story of how Penny died in a car crash, but how he didn't quite believe it to be true. Stefan was in town the night Penny died, and Matt thinks Stefan killed her. Turns out, Matt found footage of Stefan compelling him, so Matt knows Stefan is hiding something. Turns out, Matt killed her accidentally, thinking he was shooting at a vampire.

First of all, the chemistry between Matt and Penny is pretty negligible. Also, I just don't feel enough of a connection to the characters to make this emotionally affecting. I wish that Matt's journey towards hating vampires could be a bit more nuanced than him simply seeking revenge for Penny's death. After a lot of nuanced buildup with Matt's character this season, the payoff is pretty weak. I can't believe Matt is stupid enough to let himself be compelled. He should be constantly protected with vervaine, shouldn't he? What a moron. The reveal that Matt killed Penny could have worked with a better buildup, but, again, I didn't really care about their relationship. And Matt still blaming Stefan is some next-level bullshit. Stefan isn't the reason for everything bad in the world, no more than Damon is. Stop scapegoating the Salvatores!

The Big Bang Theory: The Fermentation Bifurcation (9x22)

I really, really liked one of the plot threads here. And then the other one was so-so. In all, this is an improvement from the past couple of weeks.

Cons:

Claire and Raj. UGH. So done with Raj and his disgusting ways. Basically, Penny gets a free wine tasting from her work, and the gang (minus Bernadette and Sheldon) go along. Raj invites Claire, and the rest of the night turns in to everybody talking about their relationship. Penny's ex-boyfriend, Zach, also turns up to wreak havoc. My complaints about Raj stand: apparently he has told both Emily and Claire that they're not exclusive, but he hasn't definitively told them about each other. Also, Claire seems to be really interested in Raj, but I still don't understand why. What is their connection built on?

Also, Zach's appearance here was mostly wasted. He made a few decently funny jokes, I guess, but I expected a lot more. Or rather, if I trusted this show to turn out humorous content, I would have expected a lot more. As it was, Zach mainly stood around offering one-liners, and didn't really speak to Penny at all. The writers also made sure to remind us of Zach's past on the show by having Zach tell us the history of him and Penny breaking up, dating again briefly, and then ending things for good. It just didn't do much for me.

29 April 2016

Grey's Anatomy: You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side (12x21)

This is one of those classic Grey's Anatomy episodes with a million different story-lines going on at once. I'm sort of conflicted about how to grade this one, because I really loved some plot threads, really disliked others, and then there were a few things that I liked in execution but not in principle. There's a lot to talk about, so let's jump in.

Cons:

Amelia and Owen. I thought this back-and-forth nonsense was put to a rest, but this week they've fallen back in to old habits. They sleep together, then Amelia says they can't do it again, and the cycle repeats. The resolution here is that now they're going to try and be together for real, despite how messy and complicated it's bound to be. My question is - what happened to Amelia needing to look after herself and not get involved with someone? This couple just doesn't do it for me anymore, because of how many times they've gone back on it, then reunited, then broken up again, all in the span of one season. Also, the cheesy conversation at the end about how they were both scared? Ugh. Such a cliché.

Arizona and Callie's plot thread, as I've mentioned several times, does not make logical sense. This week, both of them went around asking people to side with them and testify in court. I was so annoyed with Meredith and Owen, who both immediately said they would back Callie. I get that Meredith is closer with Callie, but it still felt like a cold thing to do. Don't they see Arizona's side in this? Conversely, I was annoyed at Alex for not taking sides, because I feel like he's the only person who rightfully should be in Arizona's corner. Whenever I watch them both getting so worked up and upset over this, I keep going back to my original point about this plot arc: it's contrived. Within the scenario, I'm fine with the way the story is progressing... but the scenario itself is stupid!

28 April 2016

Supernatural: The Chitters (11x19)

So! A perfectly serviceable C-plot episode with a gay couple, lots of Winchester bro parallels and maybe some Destiel material to boot, and a lot of ominous foreshadowing for the next few weeks? I'm pretty pleased with this one.

Cons:

This episode has the painful "we have no leads, so we should go on a hunt" conversation that so often starts Sam and Dean's story in C-plot episodes. It's getting so repetitive that I literally cringe whenever the formula repeats itself. Dean is researching frantically, Sam says that they have no new leads, and that they should keep moving forward. Dean reluctantly accepts, and they're off on a hunt. If we could find a more original way to do the establishing scene, that would be just dandy, thanks so much.

Another bit of tired writing comes at the very end, when our excellent guest characters Jessy and Cesar have this exchange: "You did it." "No, we did it." I think these phrases need to be retired from the English language. In an episode with a few bumpy writing moments, this one stood out the most to me.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Singularity (3x18)

Yes! What a good episode. Lots of interesting stuff going on as we ramp up to the finale. I'm pretty happy.

Cons:

My only real complaints about this episode are in what we didn't see.

After last week's focus on the Secret Warriors, we drop them out of the story again. I guess Elena and Joey went back home? Off-screen somewhere? Whenever these characters are around, I really like them and everything they're doing with them. But then they just get dropped unceremoniously!

This episode was mostly about finding a way to save Daisy from Hive's mind control, and we maintained focus there for the majority of the story. But did you know that Hydra was also defeated in this episode? Yeah. Just a small detail, I guess. In an odd moment, Coulson and May watch video footage of their operatives (led by Talbot) blowing up various Hydra bases and strongholds, thanks to information fed to them by Malick before he died. Okay... I'll admit the Hydra stuff hasn't been the most compelling thing lately, and I get that Hive is our main adversary for the last few episodes, but still. This is Hydra we're talking about. For such an intense villain, we're supposed to believe they can be taken care of basically as an afterthought? And how does this work? They're not really gone, are they? Is the Marvel Movie Universe going to acknowledge this? Or are we supposed to think that Hydra was only the small strange cultish pockets led by Malick, and now it's really all over? I feel like they wrote themselves into a corner with Hydra, and had to find a way to get them out of the way so Hive could take center-stage. A little sloppy.

26 April 2016

Castle: Dead Again (8x19)

Every time the word "LokSat" is said in this damn show, I have a visceral reaction. I freakin' hate the A-plot of this season so much. What a way for Kate Beckett to go out. Yeesh. Let's dive in to a rather confusingly executed episode. I didn't hate it, actually. That being said...

Cons:

The main plot of the week was interesting, creative, and funny. It involved a guy who kept "dying" and then waking up, and the guest actor was great, Castle was great, lots of fun material here. Juxtaposed to that was some forward motion on the A-plot, something that we haven't seen in a long while. Caleb Brown shows up and tells Beckett she's going to end up dead if she doesn't stop poking around in LokSat's business. Caleb ends the episode by giving Beckett a phone that LokSat has been using to contact him for jobs. He hopes Beckett will be able to bring him down once and for all.

My main complaint is not necessarily with either of the two plots, but with the bewildering way in which they fit together. That is to say... they don't fit together at all. The tonal inconsistencies in this episode were off the wall. Alan, the guest character who kept surviving attempts on his life, took a sort of dry optimistic look at his life, and each time he didn't die, there was a lot of comedy through Lanie's exasperation, Alan's bland acceptance, Castle's excited belief that Alan is a superhero, and more. And yet in between these scenes, we've got Caleb making dark threats and Beckett contemplating the possible end of her life. These two things do not gel together. At all. And it showed.