Friday, March 20, 2015

Idiot Box Pull List – Week Of March 15th, 2015

Beware the ides of March! With the addition of iZombie and the return of The Flash and Arrow after a two-week hiatus, this was an extremely busy week in the world of comics-derived television.

The Walking Dead S5 E14  Spend

On closer inspection, it looks as though there may be some worms eating away at the shiny apple that is Alexandria...

Summary: Darryl and Aaron leave on a recruitment mission. Abraham is rewarded for his extraordinary leadership at the construction site. Rick investigates the sabotage of Jessie's owl sculpture. On a mission to find components for Alexandria's failing power-grid, Aiden's lack of judgment costs him his life; Nicholas' lack of judgment, compounded with cowardice, causes Noah's gruesome demise. Father Gabriel has a crisis of faith in both God and humanity. While attempting to strike a friendship with Carol, Sam reveals troubling information about his family life.  

Notable line: "Mother d**k." Cornered by the decaying legions, Abraham finds comfort in poetry.
Memorable moments: Eugene, who had previously made a great show of his cowardice, rises to the occasion and saves lives.

♀♀♀♀: Francine's introduction could serve as a study in the art of establishing a character in very few lines. Deanna Monroe is still a major player in Alexandria.
RRR: Tara makes adorable quips at Noah when he voices baseless insinuations about her innocent questions.
ππππ: Glen and Noah make an excellent team until Nicholas ruins everything.

. . .

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2 E13 – One of Us

Summary: Cal recruits "gifted" individuals to wage war on S.H.I.E.L.D., breaks into an underground containment facility to release a person whose voice can induce catatonia. Agent May brings in her former husband, Dr. Andrew Garner, to work on Skye's psychological profile for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s index; Skye struggles to control her powers. Agent MacKenzie holds Hunter captive for a time and, having little choice, has Mockingbird make the arrangements to bring him in to "the real S.H.I.E.L.D." Cal and his band of misfits lure S.H.I.E.L.D. onto a football field. Gideon the teleporter intervenes.

Memorable moments: Dr. Garner and Agent May's relationship is one of the main foci of this week's episode. Many of the agents are eager to discuss it, though perhaps none so much as Skye: "Did you guys have actual conversations?" she asks Dr. Garner. "You know, like pillow talk – or was it just pillow stern looks?"

♀♀♀♀: Agent May and Mockingbird are given ample opportunity to demonstrate their physical strength and mental fortitude. Mockinbird and Agent Simmons have a heart-to-heart about Fitz which reveals considerable emotional depth. Simmons' complex relationship with the recently-mutated Skye becomes somewhat less coldly professional.
0: This episode is not explicitly LGBTQA-inclusive.
ππππ: Agent May and Dr. Garner are indubitably the stars of this week's episode. Agent May's fight with strongman Francis Noche is intelligently choreographed to showcase their unique fighting styles.

. . .

The Flash S1 E15 – Out of Time

It is a very strange magic trick where all the cards are placed upon the table before the tablecloth is whisked away.

Summary: In a flashback sequence, we witness the apparent aerial demise of Mark Mardon, the canonical Weather Wizard. One year later, Barry, Iris, Linda and Eddie are having an awkward double-date at the bowling alley. Mark Mardon appears at the morgue to torture the coroner for the identity of the detective who shot his brother. While running at superspeed to the morgue, the Flash catches a strange glimpse of... himself. The Weather Wizard attacks the CCPD precinct; he fires a lightning at Joe, but Captain David Singh pushes him out of harm's way, sustaining considerable damage to himself in the process. Using a device created by Cisco, the Flash stops the Weather Wizard, but lets him escape in order to take Captain Singh to the hospital. Veteran journalist Mason shares his suspicions regarding Dr. Wells with Iris; Iris shares those suspicions with Kate and Cisco; Cisco investigates and discovers a red herring in the containment field. Dr. Wells walks in on the Cisco sleuthing and  vibrates his hand through his heart. The Weather Wizard captures Joe, ties him on a barge in the waterfront, and summons a tidal wave to destroy Central City. While running to create a wind barrier to deflect the tsunami, Barry slips through time, winding back at the beginning of the episode.

Notable line: "Being his fiancé makes him family, doctor." Detective Joe West, LGBTQA ally.

♀♀♀: While it is permitted to depict women who have internalized misogyny (i.e.: Lynda talking to Iris about "the typical weird crap that women do to each other"), it would be refreshing to see women have more positive interactions. On the bright side: Kate plays an active role in Cisco's investigation. 
RRR: Captain Singh is unambiguously depicted as a hero and his fiancé has verisimilar conversation with Barry.
ππππ: Iris and Joe's father-daughter relationship is entirely believable. Both Cisco and Captain Singh play important roles in this week's plots.

. . .

iZombie S1 E1 – Pilot

I have not yet read iZombie; I am given to understand the television adaptation is only very loosely based on the comic.  

I was afraid the writers would overuse zombism as a metaphor for the post-modern crisis of meaning. Thankfully, such apprehension was unjustified; it is simply not that kind of show. The new CW series is funny, which is not to say that it cannot also pull some serious heart-strings. My fan senses were tingling throughout the pilot; Liv's sarcasm is reminiscent of Daria's, and her zombie powers borrow some of the most interesting elements of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse and Chew

Summary: Before her accidental, second-hand exposure to the zombifying drug utopium at a boat party gone tragically wrong, Liv Moore had her life under control – a promising career in medicine, a gorgeous fiancé. Five months after the incident, she is coaxing through unlife, working at the morgue under motormouth Dr. Chakrabarthi, avoiding physical and emotional connection out of fear of being found a zombie. After discovering she can access the memories of the brains she eats, she plays a decisive role in Detective Clive Babineaux's investigation of a call girl's murder, thereby finding a new zest for life.

Notable line: "Liv, you ate the girl's temporal lobe. Going to the police with her potential murder is the least you can do." Dr. Chakrabarthi's enthusiasm is the perfect counter-point to Liv's cynicism.

♀♀♀♀: Liv has a number of verisimilar exchanges with female friends and relatives.
0: This episode is not explicitly LGBTQA-inclusive
ππππ: Clive Babineaux and Dr. Chakrabarthi's work relationship is like something out of The Office.

. . .

Arrow S3 E16 – The Offer

The long-awaited answer to the previous episode's question.

Summary: "The tale to be told begins thus." Imitating his namesake's temptations of Christ, Ra's al Ghul promises Oliver great power, taking him for a grand tour of his operation – including the legendary Lazarus pit – before releasing Diggle and Merlyn as a show of good faith. Upon their return to Starling, Thea resists the temptation to slit her murderous father's throat. Back at the Arrow cave, Nyssa reacts favourably to Thea's confession. Oliver, Roy and Laurel are not entirely successful at preventing the robbery of a shipment of industrial-grade diamonds. After dropping off gift-wrapped miscreants at the SCPD precinct, Captain Lance tells the Arrow "some variation of go to Hell" for having failed to inform him of Sarah's death. After Murmur and his band of trigger-happy thugs shower the SCPD with diamond-tipped bullets, team Arrow and Nyssa al Ghul swoop in to save the day; the minions who get away later get a fateful visit from Ra's. In the flashback sequences, Oliver has a run-in with a revenant while attempting to reunite Akio with Tatsu and Maseo.

Notable line: "I did not defy death just to become an instrument of it." It seems Oliver's mind was made at the start of the episode: I wonder whether the subsequent tergiversation was absolutely necessary.
Memorable moment: Roy has some very comical lines; it is refreshing to see his character expand beyond the tragic range.

♀♀♀♀: Nyssa, Thea and Laurel all have meaningful exchanges. Felicity explicitly emphasizes that she is defined by the causes in which she believes, not only the relationships in which she chooses to involve herself.
RRR: Nyssa gets a fair bit of screen time; her feelings towards Sarah motivate many of her decisions.
πππ: Diggle and Akio play a significant part in this week's plots.

. . .

Powers S1 E4 – Devil in a Garbage Bag

Summary: Successive interventions on Wolf's brain have induced faster regeneration, and so the superpowered menace breaks out of his lobotomy-induced coma. A select few members of the Powers Division are sent in an attempt to contain him. A fair few are eaten alive, possibly as a punishment for a lifetime of cussing every five seconds.

♀♀♀♀: This week's episode is a soft "pass" as far as the Bechdel test is concerned; Retro-Girl speaks to her secretary, addressing her as Eva. Other women (Deena, Calista, Chaos Chick) also play arguably significant roles.
0: Were we to get any sort of confirmation that Royale and Simons are in fact "a thing," this episode would be LGBTQA-inclusive.
πππ: Though Deena Pilgrim is still something of a sidekick, she does demonstrate a certain degree of agency. There is at least one other person of colour on the task force to neutralize Wolf.

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