Friday, March 06, 2015

Idiot Box Pull List – Week of March 1st, 2015

The Walking Dead S5 E12 – Remember
In his review of this week’s episode, Jeremy Egner of the New York Times calls our favourite bunch of survivors “a group of feral adapters straining against the bounds of polite existence.” He is not wrong.

Plot synopsis: Having arrived safely to Alexandria, Rick has a heart-to-heart with its head honcho, former congresswoman Deanna Munroe. Rick’s gang agrees to leave their firearms at the door (apparently, the zombie apocalypse is what it takes to make Americans reconsider the Second Amendment). Aaron shows Rick and Carl to their luxurious new home; Rick sheds his majestic beard and receives a haircut from Jessie, his affable new neighbour. One by one the survivors meet Deanna for an interview. The gang opts to sleep in the same living room for safety. Rick has something of a freak-out when Carl and Judith wander out of sight, and also a bit of a rage when the pistol he stashed in the woods goes missing. Carl follows the mysterious Enid through a secret passage beyond the wall and into the forest; after she gives him the slip, he loops around to the entrance for some zombie-slaying fun with dad. Tara, Glen and Noah try their hardest to tolerate the incompetence of the supply-run crew, but fisticuffs prove inevitable. In the end, Rick and Michonne are made constables and the survivors deem it safe to sleep in their own separate houses.

Notable line: “You said you're a family, that's what you said. It's absolutely amazing to me how people – with completely different backgrounds and nothing in common – can become that, don't you think?" Deanna Munroe calls attention to one of The Walking Dead’s central themes: the shifting boundary between in-group and out-group; the complex, volatile politics of that boundary.

Memorable moments: The way the survivors are bewildered by creature comforts provides the audience with a few choice opportunities to count their blessings. I was especially touched by Carl’s hesitation when faced with the choice between pool and video games.

♀♀♀♀: It is worth noting when the television series wanders off the comic's beaten path: making Deanna (a woman) the leader of the Alexandria community is one such departure from the comic script. The way in which Carol sells herself dramatically short in her interview is a particularly poignant counterpoint to Michonne’s more straightforward espousal of the Alexandria project. Is Carol downplaying her strengths for the tactical advantage, or out of nostalgia? Perhaps both?
RRR: Eric is nowhere to be seen and Aaron does not play a particularly significant part. That being said, it does look like he is going to be a fixture – haters be damned. And Tara does not stand back idly when Aiden has his tantrum, either.
πππ: Michonne is still one of the main instigators of the new social situation; Glenn’s left-hook to Aiden’s face may give the wrong idea about martial arts and Koreans, but it is much too satisfying for criticism.

. . .

Gotham S1 E18 – Everyone Has a Cobblepot
Moral ambiguity goes to 11 as even Gordon must temper his ethics with practicality.

Summary: In keeping with its formula, Gotham presents four independent plots. For this week’s case, Gordon teams up with DA Harvey Dent to track down Commissioner Loeb’s legendary stash of blackmail material after the latter forces Bullock to produce a false confession, exonerating the murderous Detective Flass. Gordon and Dent follow their first lead straight into a deathtrap; Bullock swoops in just in time to save them from a horde of knife-happy bookies. Their second lead has them visit Penguin, who has heard Falcone discuss a mysterious, out-of-the-way farm with the comissionner. Gordon, Bullock and Penguin investigate, hoping to uncover boxes of incriminating material but instead find Myriam, Loeb's matricidal daughter. Rather than bruiting the scandal, Gordon uses it to gain leverage over Loeb. Previously, during Jim Gordon’s visit to the hospital, a recovering Alfred Pennyworth stops Bruce Wayne from tattling on the man who stabbed him. We finally meet Dr. Dollmacher (Colm Feore); he and Fish Mooney have a number of conversations so as to establish the parameters of their business relationship. Finding herself in a precarious position, Fish must reiterate her promise to the prisoners whose very lives she uses as bargaining chips. Edward Nygma continues his futile attempts to woo Ms. Kringle.

Notable line: "You know, you tell yourself: I'll just do this one bad thing, but all the good things I do later will make up for it. But they don't. There's still that bad thing." It turns out there is moral fiber underneath Bullock's cynicism.

Memorable moment: Many elements of this episode stretch credibility; we are getting the surrealism we have come to expect from the comic-book source material (i.e.: an obsequiously sweet elderly couple turns homicidal at the drop of a hat, Dr. Dollmacher’s surgical patchworks).

♀♀: Chief Sarah Essen, Selina Kyle, and Myriam Loeb all play small but significant roles; Fish steals the show. Does Fish's new eye symbolize a novel outlook on life, and if so, is it a more compassionate or a more calculating perspective? Or is she becoming the Old Man of The Tell-Tale Heart? Be that as it may: none of the women interact directly or significantly with other women.
0: This episode is not explicitly LGBTQA-inclusive.
πππ: As previously mentionned, Fish and Chief Essen are featured prominently. I am not entirely sure what to make of the knife-wielding Chinese bookies.

. . .

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2 E11 – Aftershocks

Coulson's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are back on the offensive.

Summary: In the aftermath of Skye’s exposure to the Terragen mist, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s last agents cope with the death of Agent Triplett each in their own way. Simmons fears a mutation pandemic; Fitz hides the results of Skye’s tests. Raina is none too pleased at having grown barbs; her attempted suicide is interrupted by a well-meaning capture mission which is itself interrupted by a mysterious teleporter. Hydra is looking to fill Whitehall’s vacancy, but the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have plans of their own for their would-be ringleader Bakshi. Mockingbird and Agent Mackenzie are up to something, and it's probably nefarious.

Notable line: "Leper? I think you're a rockstar." Bobbie Morse could go undercover as a motivational speaker.

Memorable moment: Fitz is done feeling inadequate; he is now ready to share some of the last few months' hard-earned lessons. “You're just different now and there's nothing wrong with that."

♀♀♀♀: Much of this episode takes the form of conversations between Skye and other capable women (and men!) on either side of a safety glass.
0: This episode is not explicitly LGBTQA-inclusive.
πππ: People of colour play important parts. Even the dead: Agent Tripplet is gone but not soon forgotten, and the tone of much of the episode is rather funereal.

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