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Now in superhero TV

So if I’m going to watch five superhero shows a week I may do a better job of posting these after only a week (assuming I don’t fall behind on something, and who knows once Legends is done for the season). Though this time there are a couple extra AoS reviews since they were on their own for a couple weeks.

Agents of SHIELD 4x09
So I watched this episode without waiting to marathon a bunch on them and...it is really different watching a single new episode, it’s been a while since I did that with this show. I’m not saying I’m going to go back to marathoning right away, but if I fall behind I’ll almost certainly end up doing so. I don’t know if it’s the change in viewing style or if this episode was really different, but damn am I back to not liking Skye (at this point it’s more stubbornness that I refuse to call her Daisy, though I still hate that she opted to honor her asshole parents by taking the name). I think it’s just the twist of the episode rather than change in style that Radcliff is now on my shit list, so at least that element I couldn’t decide on has now been decided.

But again, me being me, let’s work on the plot most relevant to my interests. Does May-bot know she’s not the real May? I changed my mind on that half a dozen times through the episode. I’m not sure how it will make sense if they could create an android so perfect and just dump a person’s brain into it and have everything work perfectly; if they can do that what was the goal with the Darkhold? It’s also going to be heartbreaking to me if LMD-May fully thinks she’s the real May and so this ends with everyone turning on her because she’s not the real thing. But if the May-bot does know she’s a robot then...look, I’m pretty sure Coulson’s going to fuck the robot (I considered it before but not only did they not resolve May’s abduction this episode but they brought up the idea of people having sex with robots) and I can’t decide how messed up it’s going to be when it happens (at this point, May might be watching it happen). I’m partial to the idea that May-lon doesn’t know she’s an android and so is acting as May would and it’s mainly a spying tool for team Aida; allowing any great scenes like we got here to still have an element of truth to them and maybe get a story of May-lon realizing strange things keep happening to her that she can’t explain and having to figure out what she is. Though another part of that comes from an idea I saw that Robo-May will end up making a noble sacrifice, dying in Coulson’s arms, finally drawing out some deathbed love confessions, and only then revealed to have not been the real May and real-May appearing soon after. Kind of a distorted echo of her having to go through Coulson’s death and rebirth that I remain convinced was when she realized just how much she loved him and largely always had.

Also, this show thinks it’s so clever pointing out its own recurring tropes; doing it twice in the same episode is just making a new trope that really isn’t as funny as they seem to think it is.


Agents of SHIELD 4x10
I’m getting that distinct, ‘I kind of wish I was marathoning this’ feeling because this sort of served to remind me that I prefer this series on an arc-to-arc basis more than week-to-week; and yet I’m not quite willing to put this on hold until the next break so for now I’m going to have some muddled feelings I guess. Because I think I liked this episode but my feelings on episodes are very dependent on how arcs play out; this arc is building well, but it could certainly still fall apart.

I also don’t have a ton to say on this one. The May-lon story looks to be moving faster than I was starting to expect, we definitely got some answers on that the robot didn’t know its mission in this and it now has to start dealing with finding out the truth so this may not end up as messed up as I was kind of afraid of. I’m not sure why it would take Radcliff and Aida so long to work out that locking May in a relaxing vision was never going to work; she’s going to know something is wrong because that’s not where she belongs for extended times. There was less Skye and coincidentally a lot more tolerable (although...the show does not seem entirely aware how terrible a choice she would be for being the SHIELD director, unless Coulson was always planning on having a puppet director). Jemma’s role was nice in this one, though I’m still not quite sure where it’s all leading. I saw someone suggest that Fitz is also an LMD at this point and considering his decisions in this one I won’t exactly be surprised, because he’s behaving oddly.

I kind of wish the show would openly acknowledge the fact that Coulson can’t be the face of SHIELD if SHIELD is going to be a public organization like this, not unless he’s going to go tell people he hasn’t been dead all this time. I’ve always felt that had to be a contributing factor in him stepping down in the first place, and yet no one actually says it. That said, I was recently doing some thought for what endgame for this show looks like (even if the show does get a season 5, I can’t imagine it getting more than that), and Coulson being officially alive again is kind of high on my list of needed endgame points; and doing it this season would avoid putting it off in case they don’t get another season and some time to get their ducks in a row before the next Avengers movie.

But I think we all know my highlight of the episode was the scene in Lola. I get all warm and fuzzy any time the length of the Phillinda partnership is acknowledged and then Skye actually asked if she missed something changing between Coulson and May and I had to squee. When the show actually acknowledges my OTP, and the fact that people in universe absolutely would wonder about it (especially Skye) I’m a happy shipper. Also, as possibly the one person still kind of obsessed with what May went through when Coulson was supposed to be dead, I end up feeling like this is not the first time May (or May-like-being) has been sitting pensively in Lola contemplating this kind of thing. Also brings up (along with in 4x07) what I’m sure May considers a flaw in the Zephyr design that there’s no ability to retreat to the cockpit and hide out there when there are too many feelings.

Prediction time from watching the preview: I’m betting on Matrix/Inception episode with May. There may be a real world story too depending on if they want to fake us out and think the what-if scenario is real or if it’s just exploring May’s need to fight dragons. I suspect it will all be a dream (until the end-ish when we’ll see May-bot do something that echoes dream-May doing something stupidly noble) and I’m kind of disappointed I’m so sure of that from the trailer; but I also predict a high shippiness value in this dreamland so I’m hopeful for that.


Supergirl 2x09
I can’t decide if that episode was bad or if I’m just going to have a hard time getting back into this show after a hiatus. About the only character I have much thought about is Alex, and a little bit of thought regarding the structure of the show. With Alex it’s kind of more of the same thought I remember having when she and Maggie got together, that Alex is rushing things; she’s never really had a serious relationship so she has no real frame of reference for how to handle the bumps of one (although to be fair to her, Maggie may be a little clingy, Alex has a demanding job, maybe she didn’t have time to respond to texts right away). And yes I say this as a person who has absolutely no idea how to handle relationships but I feel like both of them handled things badly here; Alex for immediately deciding the universe hates her when this happens, and Maggie for...well it goes back to her not wanting to get with Alex right out of the gate, and when she decided to go against that fairly correct instinct she can’t then be surprised that Alex doesn’t know how to handle things right out of the gate.

As for the structure of the show, I got kind of the same feeling I often do during Flash that so frustrates me. That feeling like there’s really no consequences and no one else is allowed to matter next to the hero. Yes, Kara earned her reputation as hero in this one, and that was a good moment, but the story would never let someone else outshine Kara and it must validate her reckless and ill-conceived choices. Looking back from the end of the episode I’m not sure this bugs me as much as it would on a Flash episode lately, but as I was watching it I was bothered.


The Flash 3x10
I...kind of liked that episode. I definitely liked Barry more than I have basically all season (and it’s not just a better mood thing because I started the episode rolling my eyes at the new intro that no longer acknowledged Barry’s fucking up), I can even respect a lot of the choices he made here even if it’s stupid that Barry is going to HR with questions about time travel unless he’s kind of dumb and still thinks this is one of the smart Wells or especially ThWells. I still don’t like Wally and hope the fact that everything is going so easy for him for now means he’s cruisin for a bruisin but I didn’t actively dislike him as much this time as I have so often before. I also still don’t like the way the show treats Caitlyn’s powers (and it’s inconsistent with the winter finale) but right now I mostly want to point out that that necklace is a hell of a lot more likely to get lost or pulled off than the bracelets and question how long she needs to spend outside for it to charge/how long the charge holds which is basically the same problem as the bracelets; maybe just make her a second pair and allow solar charging but one set can also be kept charging while she’s wearing the other. In fact, why not make it an anklet or something that would be less in the way, or earrings, something less likely to come off than the necklace where I can already see how this ends.

Look, the time travel on this show wasn’t internally consistent before the DC-CW verse had a specific time travel show, but I’m more bothered in character. Barry, last time you decided to change the timeline look what happened you fuckwit. Oh right, nothing bad happened to you (oh yeah, there’s my Barry anger). Like I said, I mostly liked Barry’s handling of the situation once he got over himself a bit, I’m just pointing out that in the larger scheme of the show, I’m still not sure he isn’t complete moron and has the makings of being the real villain. Still, I’m not dreading seeing the next move as much as I was when I started this episode (aside from keeping stuff secret from Joe, that seems bad, and also not likely to last long, secrets don’t last long in this verse).


Agents of SHIELD 4x11
So I was mostly wrong about where this episode would go. May’s breakout was all a head-game but the rest appears to have been real, and I didn’t see the end coming and can’t predict what it means. I’m not quite sure how that could work unless they’ve mind-wiped her to forget everything since Bahrain and does that mean she’ll still be mind-wiped when this is over? Because I can only see this ending badly.

As I pointed out last time, Coulson being the public eye changes the framework of the show in ways I’m less and less sure the writers want us to remember. Because if the pictures from this incident get out and these hearings go forward wouldn’t the Avengers find out about them? And yes, Tony is about the only one who was involved then and not on the run or at least off the grid at this point, but I question it as Tony and Pepper seem like they should care enough to show up (or at least yell at Maria for not telling them earlier). I’m pretty sure Nat already knows and Clint probably does (though I keep imagining one of them staking out some crisis to see how new-SHIELD responds, seeing May involved and working out that that probably means Coulson’s probably alive and SHIELD never actually went away the two of them were just running it in the shadows. I just haven’t figure out a good method of writing it, just the point being that as this episode points out, everyone and their fake dad knows how much May and Coulson mean to each other), I’m not even sure Thor would be surprised and I don’t think Bruce cared that much, he wasn’t actually there for how that went down. Cap would care, but he’d be more about being mad at Fury for the lies and keeping SHILED going after Winter Soldier than going to see Coulson; he might send a letter but he wouldn’t do something stupid because of ti.

The Mack stuff was pretty good, maybe not super great but good. Elena is a delight as usual. I think I wish we got more into Fitz head through this but the end result was enjoyable. I swear they are writing with the Dad-off in mind at this point, it’s almost not even funny anymore. Skye was still kept to a minimum so I approve of that, and what she had was well enough used. I hadn’t realized they were acknowledging how little time has been passing this season but are locking in now on 3+ episodes in 5-6 days. That almost seems an unrealistically short amount of time but as long as they hold to it I’m alright with it. This is why the show (and a lot of modern shows) holds up better as a marathon than week to week, but I did like this episode...for now, like I said, I can see this ending badly.

Having already talked about May’s plot, let’s talk about how we’re finally acknowledging that everyone sees May/Coulson, which is quite fun, but then deal with how their final scene is really creepy. Because I would have thought there’s enough May in May-bot not to go down that road. Unless her programming means that she forgets that she’s a robot (and I feel like if that were the case she would have been programmed to ignore the signs that she was one, then she knows how wrong what she’s doing is. She knows she’s spying on them all, she knows she’s not exactly the real May, she knows that at the minimum her self has been messed with enough that she literally can’t tell people what she is so she doesn’t have true free will. I’m absolutely sure her feelings for Coulson are May’s real feelings and that in spite of knowing the truth she largely still sees herself as May, but that doesn’t make it okay to go down this road. I’m hoping she’s trying to maneuver things so he’ll notice something’s wrong with her, but I was still really uncomfortable.

(Come to think of it...if she is trying to get Coulson to realize something’s wrong...well, Fitz has the most familiarity with robots, Simmons is the only one who twigged instantly that Aida was a robot, Skye is tapped into vibrational frequencies and one would think a robot might read differently from human; not to mention maybe starting sparring sessions with Mace – hell, May commandos might have caused something to happen. The only benefit of Coulson is that he knows May better than anyone; and the fact that the person May is most likely to tell if something’s wrong is Coulson so her mind would go that above other options. Again, this is a mess, but I do kind of love it.)


Legends of Tomorrow 2x09
I really liked that episode. I almost would have liked there to be more Lucas homages but there were enough to make me laugh a lot at them; also, is there any chance this was supposed to come out back in the fall which would have put it right around the time of Rogue One? Something that is also humorous: having Darville and Barrowman both involved makes all this so very Doctor Who. I’m super glad Rip is back and think I’m going to enjoy watching this play out. I mostly found Mick’s plot kind of distracting and probably just there to keep Stein out of the main action, but if that’s my biggest complaint I’m okay. I’m not quite sure I buy the movies set Ray and Nate n their paths that much that time wouldn’t have corrected for this change, but it worked for the story.

Of course Sara/Sandra is the hero of Rip’s movie, she was Rip’s favorite hero/legend on the team. I’m pretty sure not-Rip shipped movie-Rip/Sandra and now ships Sara/real-Rip from the way she talks about him. It’s kind of debatable how shippy I might find most of their tuff this episode, but for some reason the idea that he made her the movie heroine stood out at me; not that there wasn’t plenty of good drama that can feed the shipping fires I’m just not 100% committed to taking all of it that way. I just love their relationship so much even if I don’t take it as shippy, that shipping just comes naturally. Also, Rip continues to just be the Doctor, now he’s even Chameleon Arch-ed himself and is writing fanfic about all his friends just like that time John Smith wrote Doctor/Rose fic.

Also I’m pretty sure they were actually mocking Vandal Savage’s actor with that opening scene, which is encouraging to me since it means they know that actor was crap and a terrible choice to have a big villain last year.


Arrow 5x10
I really liked that episode too, so a solid week of superhero shows (except Supergirl, that was so forgettable I’d finished writing this review before I remembered I hadn’t liked that one). I thought it did a good job at making it emotional storytelling, moving a few different plots along, and being a good story of the episode. I still kind of resent that we’re not actually getting more Lyla in all this, also that the superheroes are also now recognized by the President so Dig should probably be able to finagle something in all this (or Lyla, the head of ARGUS you know, should be there, standing up the general that she has the president and cabinet members on speed dial too). This ep doesn’t do a good job an remembering that this is hours after the winter finale ended; it managed it okay (not great but okay) with Curtis and sometimes with Felicity but other times it’s glaringly not following directly from that. Where the hell is Thea if it’s only a couple hours later and days before Christmas?

Yeah, I called the Black Siren thing in the last episode, so that wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it was well enough handled; except to say that I don’t think Earth-2 Laurel’s DNA would actually be identical to what they have on file from our Laurel (that phrase got used a bit too much this ep, but it does provide a thought I’ll get to in a bit), I though Flash established that Earth-2 doesn’t even have the same blood types as Earth-1, plus – you know – being a meta human. I also really wish we got more into Oliver’s head during this, because he mostly seems kind of...not thought out very deeply. I would have expected him to be a little more paranoid about this, even if his end conclusions feel fine in character his road to get there feels to short.

I’m also having kind of a weird reaction to Felicity here. I liked it but I don’t really feel the connection to Billy’s death I feel like I’m supposed to. It makes sense that her determination here would be connected with that, but I don’t see it in the...makeup of her scenes. I can’t pin it exactly on the writing or the acting, it’s just not as there as I feel like it wants to be.

So the “our Laurel” thing that keeps getting said by Oliver and Felicity had a weirdness to it that I don’t know if it’s intended. It might have been different if Thea had been there or John had been dealing with this plot, they might have used the same phrase but I’m not sure; as is, said between Oliver and Felicity it kept coming off as kind of parental. It works with how they are with the team in this episode, they are the co-leads of Team Arrow and Laurel was theirs in the sense that she was part of that team. No one calls her Oliver’s Laurel, because she isn’t, wasn’t, and hadn’t been for a long time.

This was also quite possibly the best Oliver/Felicity episode in a while. This is what was missing in several of the earlier episodes this season, the closeness between them that lets them turn to each other when they need each other’s support; and yeah it’s clear they’re still very much in love with each other but they can have that closeness outside of the romance, which is why the romance felt so right and fitting. Also, they dismiss the rest of the team so they can *not* yell at each other and Oliver can get mopey about how Felicity knows him better than anyone and let it be obvious how many feelings there still are between them. More of this.

Though I must say that Rory got the short end of the stick in this one, just about everyone else got some good stuff to work with but not Rory, so more for Rory. (Wow, it just hit me that we have Arrow Rory, Mick Rory, and DW Rory; plus Arrow was bad enough with Ray and Roy, now a Rory. Either these writers or the comics writers need a wider array of names.)


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