“Welcome home.”

**This post contains spoilers for 2.19 of Arrow,  “The Man Under the Hood.”**

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Two weeks ago, in my review of “Deathstroke,” I talked about how disappointed I was that Beat Cop Lance still did not know the identity of the man under the hood, as well as the fact that I disliked Laurel knowing Oliver’s big secret. I also touched briefly on the fact that we aren’t as plugged in to this version of Team Arrow, now grown to five members. Well, I’ll go ahead and say it: That’s what I get for judging storylines that were still in progress. (In my defense, I’ve been burned on this front before.)

The biggest issue, for me, was the Team Arrow stuff. As we picked up in last night’s episode, “The Man Under the Hood,” we learned pretty quickly that Roy was still on the run. That left the remaining four members of Team Arrow to work together to blow up the Applied Sciences division of Queen Consolidated, in order to stymie Slade even a little bit in his quest for world domination. This required all four of them, as they set off detonators around the warehouse and took out guards (non-lethally, of course) in unison. It’s this sort of one-off, two-minute sequence that could’ve elevated the previous episodes and given the viewers the reassurance that Team Arrow is still a well-oiled machine. There was no bickering, in fact, there was even some banter. I wish this sort of scene had come sooner, but at least it happened now.

The second biggest issue was Laurel. I talked about this last time, how I’m not sure how the team would work with Laurel in the know. It would change the dynamic of everyone: Oliver would feel torn between the Lance sisters, there would be potential animosity with Sara, Diggle deeply distrusts Laurel and her hold over Oliver, and of late, there have been some not-so-friendly overtures on Laurel’s part toward Felicity. I know Laurel’s knowledge of the Hood was an inevitability, but I think it would work better if she joined a team that wasn’t so big already.

But once again, this show surprised me, dovetailing Laurel’s storyline neatly with Beat Cop Lance’s. She’s pretty sure Slade’s telling the truth about Oliver, and when she goes to tell her father, Lance stops her.

Lance: “Don’t say another word. Don’t say anything. Listen, there was a time that I would’ve sold my badge to know his name, you know that. But then I realized I didn’t care I knew who he was. In fact, I didn’t want to know who he was.”
Laurel: “Why not?”
Lance: “Because I knew if I knew who he really was, then he would become a person. Maybe he’s got family, friends, people that care about him. Someone with a life. Then he couldn’t be what I needed him to be. What this city needs him to be. It’s The Arrow that matters. The man under the hood isn’t important. Can you imagine what it’s like to be him? What he has to live with, day in and day out? What that’s gotta be like? The least I could do is sit in here and do a little bit of time for him.”

Lance has come such a long way, but I really love the boost to his characterization that this reveal gives. It’s never been about his detective skills — he’s not a bad detective, as I’ve been not-so-nicely screeching for the past few weeks. Instead, it’s something so quintessentially Lance that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner: He forces himself not to figure it out. He goes out of his way to block out the details — the stubble, the movements, the ringing phone, the Smoak connection — in order to preserve his own peace of mind. If he knew it was Oliver Queen under that hood, he couldn’t bring himself to call The Arrow and put himself in danger. Not now, after knowing what Oliver Queen has been through. Not knowing that both of his daughters would be destroyed if Oliver died. How could Lance look Moira or Thea in the eye if one of his calls ended Oliver’s life?

He calls on the Arrow because he needs the Arrow, and bringing any humanity into it is what would ultimately ruin the charade. It’s dehumanizing, but it’s also exactly what Oliver asks for, because he wants to be a tool used to fix the city. The alliance between them works as it is, with the perfect anonymity and plausible deniability. Do I believe Lance doesn’t know it’s Oliver under that hood? I do, because I think Lance works hard to convince himself that he doesn’t know.

Laurel, on the other hand, is not so much like her dad. She’s too inquisitive by nature to just will knowledge out of her brain. Slade planted the seed, and her pursuit driving and absurd murder board helped it grow. She’s certain now, and while she heeds her dad’s advice by not confronting Oliver, she also can’t help but remember his words when she encounters a brooding Oliver at Verdant: “Can you imagine what it’s like to be him? What he has to live with, day in and day out?” It results in an unexpectedly touching scene, where Laurel just hugs him. She wraps her arms around him and offers comfort, and (equally as unexpectedly) Oliver accepts the comfort.

 

In fact, a lot of the darkness surrounding Laurel seems to be lifting. She expertly strongarms the district attorney into freeing her father and getting him reinstated following his prison cell beatdown, and she confirms that she’s still attending AA meetings regularly. There’s still some grittiness around her edges, and the ruthlessness she displayed to the D.A. could still swing into villain territory, but for now, this was one of the most enjoyable Laurel episodes since season 1.

While the smaller parts of this episode worked to smooth out the wrinkles from previous weeks, the big plot involved Slade. He effortlessly infiltrates the foundry, greeting the team with a chilling “Welcome home” before issuing threats and shooting bullets all over the place. It’s a tight and intense fight scene that ultimately sends Oliver and Sara to the hospital (under the guise of a motorcycle accident, which Laurel doesn’t buy for a second) but not before Oliver does an amazing flip over the stair railing, scooping up Felicity as he goes, and landing both of them on their feet. It might be my favorite stunt they’ve ever done, window-smashing be damned.

Slade wasn’t there to kill anyone, though — he stole a skeleton key, which means he needs something big. That leads them to Star Labs, of Barry Allen fame, where we come across two soon-to-be Flash characters: Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, and Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon. They do their best to fight off Deathstroke, but he makes off with a biotransfuser in the end, and Oliver and Sara arrive too late to stop him. Felicity later reveals that she is friends with Caitlin and Cisco, and at the end of the episode, she even entrusts them to create a cure for the Mirakuru.

{Sidenote: Everyone likes to tease DC for sticking to Batman when they want to reinvent the franchise, but I think the CW is onto something here. This is an ingenious way to do a backdoor pilot, because it’s not asking us to care about these characters exclusively for an entire episode like Gossip Girl’s failed Lily-centric backdoor pilot did. It just has them as guest characters, already somewhat fleshed out, in a universe with the title character of their future show. It enables the cast of both shows to move back and forth as needed when they need to cross storylines, and it builds up even more potential to do additional spinoffs, because why stop at Flash? Marvel can do it with blockbuster films, why can’t DC do it on television?}

A power surge leads Oliver to a building where Slade is using his new gadget to create a MirakurArmy, but he’s not the source; Roy is. Slade appears, with a smirking Isabel Rochev in tow, and they say that they found Roy in Bludhaven, where he was easily overpowered. Another fight ensues, with Isabel shooting a gun while Slade and Oliver battle, and Oliver manages to surprise Slade with a Mirakusplosion, giving him a chance to free Roy’s cuffs. Unfortunately, Isabel has the bead on him, and just when you think she’s about to take the kill shot, she’s shot twice in the chest by Diggle. Go Diggle! And here’s your first life lesson, should you ever confront your very own nemesis who is in possession of some miracle drug: Never leave the bodies behind. Isabel’s awake and Miracured by the end of the episode.

Speaking of Isabel, she and Oliver had a confrontation at QC earlier in the episode, where she revealed that she and his father were soulmates. Robert was all set to leave Moira and run away with Isabel when Thea fell off her horse and broke her arm. “I begged him not to go! I reminded him that Thea wasn’t his!” This is news to Oliver, who thought his father died believing himself to be Thea’s biological father. He’s stunned enough to go looking for Thea, not ever really questioning that this whole soulmates thing sounds like it belongs on Revenge more than Arrow.

And let’s talk about this soulmates business for a second. Right as Oliver confronts her in her office, she claims that she is “under 30, and the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.” First of all: congratulations? So was Oliver. But besides that, let’s assume that Isabel is 29 years old. Oliver’s been back for almost two years, and he and his father shipwrecked five years before that. So if we’re being generous both with Isabel’s age and with the timeline, and we assume that Thea broke her arm and tore Robert away from his soulmate right before he got on the Queen’s Gambit, Isabel was still only 22 years old at the time. The alternatives are even worse: If it was a whole year before Robert died, Isabel was 21. Either way, she’s always been Oliver/Tommy/Laurel’s contemporary since, again, she went out of her way to tell us that she’s under 30, so ostensibly, Robert was prepared to run away with a woman who was roughly the same age as his son.

It’s an odd thing to learn about Robert in an episode where we also find out that he knowingly raised a daughter that was not biologically his own. One action is supposed to outweigh the other, and indeed, Oliver chooses to focus on the good part as he tries to talk to Thea, and he never really connects the dots for the audience that the Robert/Isabel romance is even creepier than the simple fact that Isabel purposefully seduced her soulmate’s son. I’m not one to get squicky over age differences — I’m a Community fan — but this sounds more and more like Robert was leading Isabel on and used Thea’s accident as an excuse to break off a tumultuous affair. This really colors Isabel’s whole vendetta, as well, because it seems like she might actually be horribly misguided in her anger; she shouldn’t be mad at the Queen family, she should’ve only been mad at Robert.

Since Oliver can’t tell Thea the whole story — the fact that Robert chose to stay with his family rather than be with his soulmate — the revelation doesn’t change Thea’s mind. She’s packed her bags and declared Moira and Oliver a bunch of liars who lie, and she doesn’t want to live in this big stately soon-to-be-government-owned mansion anymore! She’s leaving for parts unknown! She’ll live in the streets if she has to, just like Jenny Humphrey!

Next week: Roy is loose, and he’s Hulking out! … Wait. Sorry. Wrong franchise. Bruce Banner is loose, and he’s Roy Harpering out! Wait, dangit. Just watch next week. It looks intense.

“Broken weirdo sex addict”

From time to time, reality intrudes on our valuable TV watching time, and we realize we can’t cover everything we love. So, we’ve asked some of our friends to step in and help us out when Real Life gets in the way. And today is one of those days. Please enjoy this Trophy Wife post from Mary.

**This post contains spoilers for episode 1.18 of Trophy Wife, “Couples Therapy.**

This week we have gifs! Sweet beautiful gifs courtesy of our very own Plot-Watcher Kerry! Thanks Kerry!

At Chez Harrison, Kate is regaling a super-bored Meg with tales of preparations for California history day at the kids’ school. Warren and Bert debut their costumes for frontier doctor and double amputee and Warren giggles a little too much at Meg’s ‘asleep with her eyes open’ antics. Pete busts in all, “What’s the haps?! …is something I will never say again.”

Kate proudly shows off her chili and informs him that since Meg and Tevin are off-again and this time he’s taken all the black light art with him, she and Meg are going to go poster shopping.

Pete: “So you’re relieved?”
Meg: “Annoyed, Now all I have is regular light art.”
Pete: “That’s why Diane and I broke up.”
Meg: “I believe it.”
Pete: “You shouldn’t.”

Petition for an episode where Bradley Whitford and Natalie Morales monotone-snark at each other the whole entire time. Their banter continues a bit until Pete reveals that he followed the Duran Duran “Hungry Like The Wolf Tour.”

Meg: “Oh so did my dad!”
Pete: “Get out of my house.”

Kate and Meg oblige (with a really cute super couple-y peck on the lips and exchanged “I love you/love you too”s for Kate and Pete) and then Pete gives Kate’s chili a try:

 

California History Day appears to be kind of an open-air fair with booths set up for history lessons (Warren and Hillary’s Frontier Medicine offering, with bonus frighteningly realistic double-amputee Bert) and food (Kate and Pete’s Chili booth, which is kicking the Frank n’ Beans booth’s kiester (“That’s old-timey for ‘ass.’”). Diane, sporting a super chic black bonnet with her hot red dress, appears to let Kate know she’s been hearing good things about the chili. Kate brags a little more about how she made it and everyone loves it and Diane, obviously setting up for a spit take, replies:

“I always say if it appeals to the masses it must be the best.”

I mean. Probably no one has ever said that without being facetious. At least I hope they haven’t. But then what do I know, I’m a Community fan and I’ve never watched Modern Family. Clearly one of us is wrong, and right now it’s Diane, about her expectations of Kate’s chili, because when she tries it it’s delicious. Maybe if I try Mod- naaaaahhhhhh.

Jackie happens upon Warren and Hillary’s booth, cooing over how “cute and bloody!” Bert is and offering him some corn on the cob on a stick.

Bert: “Well I ain’t got no arms, ma’am!”
Jackie: “Well that ain’t nuttin’ but a thing, boo!”

You guys it looks like she put ketchup on it for him and everything.

Kate has noped out of her own booth to spread a rumour of E-Coli in the Johnnie Cakes and Diane grills Pete on the recipe a bit. He deumurs that she’ll have to ask Kate, so she starts listing ingredients like cumin, molasses, dark chocolate and LIES until Pete cracks and admits it’s his recipe. He threw out Kate’s chili (“It tasted like BALLS”) and substituted his own without telling Kate, which according to Diane is a recurring behavior that dooms all of Pete’s relationships. Not specifically this sort of chili incident, just the lying part. Pete insists he’s changed and when pressed, lies that he and Kate are seeing a couples therapist tomorrow afternoon in fact! Diane reminds him he volunteered for clean up duty tomorrow afternoon but quickly offers to take it for him and actually very sweetly gives him an “I’m proud of you” hug.

 

There’s literally no point to these Jackie&Bert scenes other than cuteness and jokes and I am so, so fine with it.

Kate returns to the Chili booth to snark about how the Frank n’ Beans taste “like balls” and Pete casually lets it slip that he told Diane they were in couples therapy.

Kate: “You dummy, why would you say that?!”
Pete: “Because she thinks we’re not capable of working on our issues.”
Kate: “Since when do we have issues?”
Pete: “We don’t, but saying we do makes it seem like we’re evolving!”
Kate: “But we’re not!”

They deliver all these lines with the cutest breezy smiles, all laughter and sunshine and first-few-years-of-marriage. Pete slyly explains that since Diane is taking over his clean up duty they can not use their fake therapy to go on a real date. Kate, in a rare moment of sitcom trope awareness, thinks it’s a bad idea . . . but not so bad an idea that she’ll skip out on a midweek afternoon date.

Back at Chez Harrison the following day, Warren and Bert are snuggled up on the couch with some popcorn and a telenovela, Hillary needs a research subject for her psych paper on extended adolescence. Kate and Pete are all set for their date, but Warren senses something’s up:

Warren: “You’re either picking up a new brother or I’m going out for more ADHD tests.”
Pete: “We’re just going out . . . Warren, do you worry about those things?”
Warren: “What things?”

They’re met at the door by Meg arriving for a Chez Harrison spa day to alleviate her break up stress in their pool and steam shower.

Kate: “She’s gonna do it anyway so I might as well make it seem like it’s my idea.”

 

Warren’s overly excited to see Meg and she seizes on an opportunity to employ him and Bert as her own person cabana boys. Now about that paper Hillary has to write . . . Meg’s snotty phone conversation – “Shut up Mom, I AM at work! I’m NOT backtalking!” – seals that deal right up.

Kate and Pete are chowing on lobster and scallops because why wouldn’t you when you’re on an illicit midweek afternoon date, high on their own craftiness and cockily quoting cliched communication models.

It’s a whole sexy therapy-less rendevous until they get home where Jackie pops up with some healing muffins for them to celebrate their therapy (“Well I got them at Ralph’s but I put them in my own basket. But therapy! Yay!”) Of course she wants to know what their therapy jam is and who cries more and who they’re seeing, which they make up. Jackie offers to take Bert for one of their sessions which Kate jumps all over, lying that they have another session that same week. Pete’s not pleased even though Kate promises they’ll do a tennis lesson for their second not-therapy session.

Pete: “But now Jackie thinks I have to go to therapy two times a week.”
Kate: “So what? She goes like eleven times a week.”

Pete points out that while a twice-divorced guy going to therapy once a week is healthy, a twice divorced guy going to therapy twice a week clearly means “broken weirdo sex-addict.” Kate has no time for his issues and excuses herself to pick up some of those socks with the little balls on the back for their tennis lesson:

“I’ll see ya later, sex addict!”

Meg’s back for Spa Day two at Chez Harrison and this time Warren is dressed the part of Cabana Man complete with white pants borrowed from Hillary. While Meg gets set up by the pool again, Diane shows up to pick up Bert for his Mandarin lesson, but since he’s with Jackie, Hillary gets to tell Diane about how she’s going to give Meg (“what’s that wastrel doing here?”) the marshmallow test for her psych project, which is where she offers Meg one marshmallow immediately, or 2 if she waits 5 minutes.

Jackie and Bert are in the midst of a fun afternoon of pickling (“Sleep in brine, my little radishes! I’ll see you next week!”) when Diane arrives and it turns out SHE is his Mandarin teacher, which I hadn’t connected before.

 

No picture could ever express how adorable this is, ever.

Jackie’s a bit sensitive:

 

Diane cuts right to the point of why Jackie has Bert when it’s Kate and Pete’s day, and Jackie insists that she’s sure they said they were going to therapy because she wrote it down in her journal, but not her dream journal:

 

Yes, I DID need to include both these gifsets because 1) Jackie!!!! and 2) I’m making up for lost blog posts when there were no gifs at all ever anywhere.

Apparently Pete and Kate’s lie about their therapist being a “Dr. J from Philadelphia” is so obviously a famous basketball player that even Diane knows who he is. That’s not a real thing though is it? It seems like a weird reveal if they’re making up a famous basketball player, because wouldn’t that joke have landed better if they said it was Michael Jordan from Chicago and Jackie still didn’t get it? [Mary and Jackie are cut from the same cloth, as they both don't know about Famous Basketball Player Dr. J. --Kerry] Anyway, at that very moment Kate and Pete are gearing up for their tennis lesson which means Pete is strapping on a massively obtrusive knee brace. But no, no headband for him, he doesn’t want to look like an old guy. Oh Pete.

Warren creepily spies on Hillary giving Meg the marshmallow test, wherein Hillary hands Meg marshmallows and Meg eats them.

Hillary: “Oh my god you are terrible at this!”
Meg: “Am I? I just ate three mashmallows.”

Bert arrives to blow up Warren’s Cabana Man game, dropped of by Diane and Jackie on their way to bust Kate and Pete.

Their instructor is painfully accomodating of Pete’s oldness, or maybe it’s just that Pete’s not good at tennis. The one time I played I got hit in the sternum with a ball and had to lay down for half an hour. No knee brace though.

There’s some pretty hilarious physical comedy when Pete and Kate see Jackie and Diane pull up outside the chain link fence – Pete: “There’s nowhere to hide! It’s all see through!”, while Jackie gets her knee length rayon-silk sweater stuck in the car door: “Wait, wait my . . . thing is . . . stuck.” – and then we get a quick explanation about how Pete has always been obsessed with Andre Agassi and that’s why they knew where to find Kate and Pete. They argue a bit about whether or not Pete avoids confrontation and then Diane spills the beans about the chili.

Kate: “You dumped out my chili?!”
Pete, not helping himself out: “That’s… a… liberal use of the word ‘chili.’”

And Kate storms off in a huff.

Meg is bored of talking (and apparently eating marshmallows), and Hillary chases her around while she wanders the living room in her bikini because her coverup is missing. Warren tooooootally didn’t hide it, if that’s what you’re thinking. He’s too busy plopping half a cucumber in a glass of water for her. Tevin shows up at the kitchen window (“It’s me! I’m in the window!”) and he and Meg fight about whether they’re broken up and if it was Tamika who did his frosted tips. Warren tries to step in, Hillary lets it slip that Meg IS in fact a textbook case of extended adolescence and Meg and Tevin storm off, one offended at being used as a lab rat, and the other enamoured with what a hot rat Meg would make .

Warren goes to lay on his bed and HILARIOUSLY sing along to “Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong” on a walkman, complete with mournful air drums. Hillary comes in, “What song is that?”

Warren: “I don’t know, I just found it in dad’s old tape box and it really spoke to me.”

Hillary tries to comfort him, he points out that he’s all “boy crazy” (Warren: “You know: when a boy likes a girl and gets all boy-crazy about it?” Hillary: “That’s not what it means.”) and points out that their age difference was probably insurmountable anyway. Warren counters that it works for Pete and Kate, and Hillary solves it for him once and for all by reminding him that when he’s 25 Meg will be 40.

Warren: “Ew.”

Kate is doing the full pout on her walk home while Pete drives slowly along side her begging her to get in the car and apologizing and when she finally stops they have it out once and for all about the damn chili:

 

Kate insists Pete stops lying, vows not to make chili anymore (“It’s such a waste of mayonnaise.” ACK) and after briefly considering racing Pete home, promptly hops in the car so they can go get a burger. My kind of tennis lesson.

The tag is literally just Jackie and Diane dishing over some white wine and it’s seriously one of the best parts of the episode.

Mary is a military wife, mother, and certifiably pathological fangirl. Though she’s written before, this is her first foray into blogging. Her interests include livetweeting, cooking, baking, buying, and – most importantly – eating food, puns, and deciphering her toddler’s attempts to speak English. Follow her #mamatweets, #wifepeopleproblems, and #islandproblems (it’s not all complaining, honest) on Twitter at @maryarrr.

Tune In/Tune Out: March 30-April 6, 2014

Welp. I’m watching something now that’s pretty fun, but it’ll have to wait till next week’s installment. In the meantime, anger about a certain series finale aside, there was actually a lot to watch this week. Onto the picks! (For some reason, I wanted to put ‘tally ho’ just now, but I’m going to ignore that urge.)

TUNE IN

 

The Walking Dead: The finale was amazing, and kept the audience at the end of their seats. It is great to see about 84 percent of the group coming back together, but it still leaves so many questions to be answered in season five. I can’t wait to see what stuff and things happen in season five.  - Becca

NCIS: The second half of the backdoor pilot for the bayou-flavored spin-off could have fallen completely flat, but it managed to do two important things in the space of an hour. It successfully built a world for the spin-off to inhabit, and it set forth an interesting ongoing mystery to give the real pilot (presumably next fall) something to draw from when it gets going. – Moff

The Mindy Project: It’s back in a big way, and it’s better than ever. Next week also promises two new episodes, so catch up while you still can! –Kerry

Grimm: SO MANY THINGS ARE HAPPENING. It’s terribly tempting to draw comparisons between this show and ABC’s own fairytale-inspired Once Upon a Time, but it’s ultimately unfair. NBC’s show has successfully built a reputation for compelling storytelling, moments of jump-in-your-seat, and awkward humor, and this week’s episode managed to set up a breakneck race to the season finale. – Moff

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The show gave me a pretty good idea on what would be happening with Captain America: Winter Soldier when I watched it. The episode was intense, and left you constantly questioning who you could trust. – Becca

 

TUNE OUT

How I Met Your Mother: This is probably unfair, since I literally tuned out of the series finale, but it effectively ruined the mythology of the entire show. It deserved a better ending than that. –Kerry

 

Shirley Has Three Kids

Warning: this post contains spoilers from episode 5.11 of NBC’s Community, “G.I. Jeff”

Community is known for their special episodes. However, some of their regular episodes are as great if not better than the special episodes. For me it feels like the story line of Jeff freaking out about his age would have been served better as a regular episode. Instead we got Jeff in a G.I. Joe world during his comatose state.

This episode left me disbelieving the credibility of what was happening. My biggest problem was how Shirley was being portrayed in this episode. The majority of her lines dealt with her only talking about her having three children. This show has proven before that Jeff doesn’t see Shirley only as a mother. If anything she has been shown as a woman who knows how to handle a situation, and make sure she profits from it. Shirley is a great manipulator, and Jeff knows this.

This also leads to another problem I’ve been having with this season with Shirley’s story line. At the beginning of this season, she mentions Andre took their kids and left her. However, the issue has never been readdressed. Instead this season has only mentioned her spending time with her children. What happened with her family problems? A great episode would have been a Shirley centric episode which explained where her family life was now. Not a Jeff is suffering a mid-life crisis episode.

 

*The part where Jeff takes those unknown pills was another moment of disbelief for me. Jeff may be an idiot at times, but the only one I could see taking those pills in that group is Chang.

“Your feelings are trivial because we have a murderer to catch.”

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After two agonizing, basketball-filled weeks, Elementary returned to my TV screen in the nick of time. I won’t lie: TV has not been great this week. It was nice to look forward to a solid, well-written, perfectly-acted episode of my favorite crime solving duo, and thank goodness the show actually delivered. It was even heartwarming in the way that Sherlock treated Joan, almost like these writers knew that a lot of their viewership would be feeling bleak after that How I Met Your Mother finale.

It didn’t start out very cheerfully: After Sherlock and Joan solve a case of an accidental death in a morgue, involving bite marks on the victim, Joan chases down the detective who had worked a case similar to that in 2005. It turns out there have been two recent murders that are similar to that one, and Joan asks if it involved someone named Aaron Colville. She asks for copies of the detectives files, which prompts the detective to ask if Joan was involved in the original case.

I assumed Joan had come across this in Sherlock’s cold case box, maybe having caught another detail that a high Sherlock might’ve missed, but she goes to the hospital to visit an old colleague, Dr. Fleming. She was there when Colville died on the operating table from complications from a knife wound; she was assisting Dr. Fleming during surgery, and she asks what really happened the night he died. “I was there. He might not have killed those women. We may have let an innocent man die.”

We see a flashback to 2005, where Lucy Liu is wearing an unfortunate wig and a dying Colville whispers something into Dr. Fleming’s ear. He goes into cardiac arrest, and Dr. Fleming does very little to resuscitate him. Joan tries valiantly to get him to administer epinephrine, but Colville dies.

After Dr. Fleming gives Joan the brush-off in the present, she goes back to the Brownstone, upset and distracted. Sherlock is excited, though, because he and Joan have the opportunity to explore a shipwreck in Australia. When she tells him to go himself, he gets downright adorable:

 

Her continued distraction makes him ask where she went earlier, and they both sit down to go over the case of Colville. He suggests they start operating under the assumption that Colville did not commit the first two crimes back in 2005, meaning an innocent man died on Joan’s operating table. When she gets upset, he does something amazing: he tries to comfort her.

“Watson, you didn’t stab Colville on Rikers Island, nor did you fail to administer the epinephrine shot in what you judged to be a timely fashion. That was your colleague. Your superior.”

He goes on to say that filing the grievance against Fleming would’ve been futile, and that she shouldn’t be chastising herself over something that happened so long ago when it never would’ve amounted to anything anyway. Joan looks slightly mollified, and Sherlock adds, “Anyway, your feelings are trivial, because we have murderer to catch.”

They decide try to find other matches for the teeth, which leads them to a suspect who pulls out dentures. He got them in prison at Rikers in 2004, so they go to the prison to ask about the dentures. They question a man named Stan, who worked with the now-deceased doctor who had made the dentures, and they learn that there are four possible suspects who might be committing these crimes.

The interrogation scenes are funny (and Bell is involved, yay!) but they yield no results, so Joan pursues the doubt she’s been harboring all along: that Fleming might be involved. She asks a friend at the hospital to send her copies of his records so that she can investigate them, but Sherlock finds them and starts to wonder about Joan’s motivations.

She admits that she had a moment, when Colville was brought in, that she thought the world might benefit from his death. Sherlock gently tells her, “I don’t think that catching Dr. Fleming is at the heart of this particular matter. I think it’s about you forgiving yourself, for a less than noble, if entirely understandable, thought. Which, I remind you, you didn’t act on.”

He wakes up Joan the next morning, shoving some clothes at her, and they’re off to Rikers again, to investigate the files of all of the inmates for any new leads. While there, Sherlock deduces that Stan has a set of the dentures himself.

Sherlock: “His file says he was treated in the infirmary for a savage beating he received in the yard in 2000. According to the report, he lost virtually all of his teeth.”
Joan: “So you think Dr. Nolan replaced all of Stan’s teeth for him?”
Sherlock: “He did it with no official record so that his valued assistant would not have to wait for treatment. I’d do the same for you if you lost all your teeth in a prison fight.”

Awww! Unfortunately, Stan’s already taken off, and the episode takes a fugitive turn as they work to track him down. Joan deduces from photos that he has a dog while Sherlock deduces that he’s chemically castrated himself.

Sherlock reaches out to their friends at Everyone to send him cached copies of Stan’s now-deleted social media accounts, so that he may search for further clues. Why is this relevant, you ask? Because in return, Sherlock has to wear a pretty purple prom dress and sing songs from “something called ‘Frozen!’”

 

After he wakes Joan with a cozy-clad Clyde, Sherlock tells Joan, “My performance was extraordinary. Everyone concerned seemed to agree that it rivaled, if not surpassed, the original.” If that’s not a DVD bonus feature, then there is no justice in this world.

 

From the cached images, they track Stan down through his dog, Max. (We get to see Lucy Liu’s chocolate lab, Apple, at the vet!) In the interrogation, Stan is in a lot of pain because his hand got fractured from the handcuffs. It turns out his chemical castration meds have caused him to have osteoporosis, which means he couldn’t have killed the two women who were murdered recently, as he’d still be suffering injuries from those encounters.

Joan gets a call from Fleming, who is outraged that she’s investigating him. He threatens legal action if she doesn’t back off, but in an attempt to get her to back off, he tells her what Colville whispered to him. It was a confession to the murders of the two women. Fleming admits that he doesn’t know if he withheld treatment.

Sherlock decides to believe Fleming’s story, since he has no reason to lie. This leads him to believe that someone committed these murders in order to help them discover the dentures, in order to cast doubt on Colville’s guilt. Who would have motive to do that? Colville’s mother, who has filed a nine-figure lawsuit against the city for the wrongful arrest and death of her son.

They get themselves invited into her home under the guise of offering her a deal, and Sherlock takes the opportunity to search the home. He finds dentures, which incriminates her in the murder of the two women.

Joan ends the episode by shredding Fleming’s files, and Sherlock asks if she feels any differently now.

Joan: “I do know that I was standing over a dying patient, and I was thinking about justice. A doctor is not supposed to do that.”
Sherlock: “It sounds more like a consulting detective.”

Next week: Sherlock is exposed to anthrax!

Picspam: Community 5.10 “Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”

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Like most of the recent outings, this week’s episode opens at the conclusion of a Save Greendale Committee meeting, with the Dean making a note that the group should add “insurance” to their docket, because “The school needs some.” Chang immediately volunteers to “ask around on the street,” but a distracted Hickey makes a noise of disbelief and Chang replies, “Oh, too cool for street insurance? Must be nice.”

No, Hickey’s not too cool for street insurance, he’s just really upset that he hasn’t been invited to his grandson’s third birthday party. He says he barely gets to see his grandkid because of his son, and in a nice nod to continuity, Jeff points out, “You just saw your son at his wedding.” Hickey says that was his gay son, “Him, I get.” It’s his other son, Hank, that he doesn’t understand. His only hobby is, “What do you call that crap with the dungeons and the dragons?”

Abed, looking like he’s swallowing several sharp knives, bites out, “Dungeons and Dragons?” and the group gets excited when Hickey confirms it. Annie gets the idea to play it again in order to reunite Hickey with his son, which is kind of nice after last week’s episode — Annie’s consistent in the way that she believes people can be reunited just by being in the same place at the same time.

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“End this, once and for all.”

**This post contains spoilers for episode 2.18 of Arrow, “Deathstroke”**
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One more person knows Oliver Queen’s secret. The more compelling story? Someone else has known his secret all along.

There were a lot of things I liked about this episode, starting and ending with the amount of Slade we got to see. I will never, ever be upset about seeing more Slade, especially two-eyed flashback Slade. I liked how Roy’s storyline from last week continued right through to this week. I liked seeing Team Arrow, the original Team Arrow, at the end of the episode. And everyone’s acting was on point, especially within the Queen family.

Unfortunately, there were two things I hated, and I thought they were glaring enough to eclipse an otherwise solid episode.

– I’ve talked at length in my Arrow reviews about how strongly I believed that Beat Cop Lance figured out the Arrow’s identity way back in “Broken Dolls.” Brightly-lit rooftops, close proximity, and a revealing heart-to-heart made it seem pretty obvious that it was Oliver Queen under that hood. If he hadn’t figured it out then, then surely Sara’s reveal as the Black Canary would’ve helped Lance connect the dots, right? She’s friends with the Arrow, she was shipwrecked with Oliver, now she’s dating Oliver. Any detective worth his salt would’ve figured that out.

After a while, it seemed likely that Lance was just employing plausible deniability, so that if someone (such as Lt. Pike) walked up to him and demanded he reveal the Arrow’s identity, Lance could categorically state that the Arrow’s identity was never revealed to him. It’s clever, right? But maybe too clever for this show, as they’ve insisted in back-to-back episodes that Lance has no idea who is under that hood.

Lance: “Does Oliver know that you’re working with the Arrow on this?”
Sara: “Oliver doesn’t know anything about the Arrow.”

There was no reason for Lance to ask that, between the two of them, if he secretly knew that Oliver was the Arrow. So now we’re supposed to believe that Lance was this great detective, the best in Starling City, yet he doesn’t have the skills to take these basic context clues and piece them together. I wish the writers understood how much this undermines him and his profession, how it affects our faith in the character itself. Last season, he had nothing but vengeance and tunnel vision, fueled by his alcoholism. Last season was excusable. But he’s clean now, he’s focused but not too intense, and he’s a beat cop now, which gives him the ability to stand back and look at the big picture of the SCPD inner workings, but also the proximity of being part of the day-to-day criminal activity that goes on in his city.

He should have perfect clarity, his skills should be sharper, but instead we have this. We have Lance blindly trusting a man whose identity is unknown to him. So when he is arrested for conspiracy with the Arrow, after just arresting Slade Wilson on the Arrow’s orders, it’s hard to actually feel sympathy for him. If we were operating under the notion that Lance was trusting Oliver, protecting Oliver’s identity, then we would’ve felt real sympathy for the guy. But it’s kind of crazy that he’s just been following suit, never suspecting that he was a pawn in someone else’s game.

Such an odd choice for a police detective character. It’s different with Laurel, or Moira, or Thea; they’re not trained to notice patterns, inconsistencies, subtleties, connections. If anyone on this show should’ve had the bead on Oliver long ago, it should’ve been Lance.

– The second thing I didn’t like might seem like a direct contradiction to the points I just made, but it’s not. At the end of the episode, Slade knocks on Laurel’s door and announces that Oliver Queen is The Arrow. We got a shot of Laurel’s shocked, blinky expression as Slade turned away with a smirk, and then the episode is over.

Personally, I would love if Oliver managed to talk her out of that notion. Slade just kidnapped Thea, Laurel was literally just watching that on the news. What reason does she have to believe what he just told her? She wondered last season, just like everyone else, and yet she hasn’t suspected it since then. It’s a secret Tommy took to his grave. So why should she start believing the man who just kidnapped Oliver’s little sister and is now on the run from authorities?

There’s a bigger chance that Laurel’s actually going to believe him, and she’ll be in for not one, but two nasty surprises: Oliver is the Arrow, and Sara is Black Canary. This will lead to more anger and feelings of betrayal from Laurel, with a possible desire to backslide into drinking, before she eventually accepts the truth and has to live with it. So… what then? What’s the shelf life on the Foundry being stuffed with six people (provided Roy comes back)? What’s the shelf life on Oliver dealing with both Lance sisters, both with their own versions of justice, on a day-to-day basis as the Arrow?

I’m pretty sure it won’t last very long. I think this reveal, if it’s followed through, bodes badly for Sara. Laurel is the Canary in the comics, as people on Twitter remind me whenever I get to yelling about Laurel. There’s a contingent of fandom that believes this show will stick to canon and that Laurel will eventually be in the Canary costume. Now that she’s in on the secret this early on (and yes, near the end of season 2 is “early” to me, since I think a logical story frame for this series is at least five seasons, to cover all five years that Oliver was on the island) that means they’ll be making some story decisions to either push Sara out or… to kill her off.

And if this reveal isn’t followed through — if Oliver manages to convince Laurel once more that he’s not the Arrow, that it’s someone else — then why bother doing this in the first place, narratively? The best I can hope for is that if Oliver manages to keep Laurel on his side, maybe Slade’s big plan will start to show cracks.

Those two points aside, there was a lot to like about this episode. It wasn’t as dense, plot-wise, as past episodes have been; mostly it was Oliver trying to get to Thea, and Slade being three or four steps ahead of him. There were some notable twists and plot points that are worth exploring.

 

– Distracted and upset about Thea, Oliver hastily gives Isabel Rochev temporary power as CEO of Queen Consolidated. She doesn’t hesitate to call an eleventh-hour board meeting and hold a vote to give her the company. In a blink of an eye, Oliver lost his own company.

It’s not the only surprise she has in store — she’s working with Slade. She’s been a plant at Queen Consolidated since the beginning, and this was all part of the plan to take over every aspect of Oliver’s life until he’s suffocating. He roars, “Why?” and she smiles at him and replies, “The sins of the father are the sins of the son,” which is cryptic and, at first blush, holds a lot of disturbing connotations. Did his father sleep with Isabel? Doesn’t that make the whole Russia thing kind of gross?

She turns into a badass, finally, because Summer Glau comes with a certain promise of badassery, so it was getting old just watching her frown at Oliver and disapprove of his business choices. They fight, but Oliver easily overpowers her, asking where Thea is. She gives away the location, to the actual warehouse, but warns him to go alone or Thea will die.

I’m sure we’ll find out more about Isabel’s involvement in another episode, but for now, it’s interesting how vast Slade’s network truly is. Who else has Oliver encountered this season that might be on Slade’s payroll?

– Slade tells Thea that he kidnapped her just to make a point, which is odd storytelling for a character that is hell-bent on making Oliver suffer. Around the first commercial break, I got to thinking how intense this show would become in the last batch of episodes if Thea did die by Slade’s hand. That would send Roy, Oliver, and Moira on guilt and revenge trajectories, it would effectively splinter Team Arrow, and it would cause Oliver more suffering than almost anyone else in his life if his little sister was killed. As much as he loves Sara, or Felicity, or even Diggle, nothing compares to losing your little sister.

So Slade choosing to let Thea live is either a miscalculation on his part, or it’s part of a bigger picture that we just can’t see yet. It clearly has nothing to do with the political campaign for Alderman Blood; at the end of the episode, he snarls to Sebastian that he promised him power and an army, he doesn’t need to be mayor for either of those things. (While Oliver thought he was rescuing Thea, Slade was freeing a bus of inmates to join his army of assassins.)

 

– Slade further twists the plot by revealing Oliver’s big secret to Thea, but it’s not the one we all suspected. When Thea turns up at the police station, alive but definitely affected, she tells Oliver, “He told me your secret.” Oliver takes several steps back from her, clearly frightened and upset, which highlights the importance he places on his sister. She rails at him about lying and betrayal, then reveals, “How could you not tell me Malcolm Merlyn was my father?”

It’s a huge relief that the paternity secret is finally out, and it’s a double-relief that Slade didn’t tell Thea about Oliver’s true secret. This one is just as damaging, as it breaks Thea’s trust in her brother, the only person in the world that ever told her the truth, but at least it doesn’t expose Thea to his alter-ego. She’s further disgusted by his reasoning that he was just trying to protect her, because he sounds just like their mother.

Why didn’t Slade tell Thea about the Arrow? Is it just because he needed that relationship to fracture, so he chose the simplest and most believable way to do it?

– By the way, Slade swam off the island. Dude just straight up swam. He credits the Mirakuru for helping him survive. He’s also being egged on by a demented ghost of Shado, who first appears in the flashbacks, full of vengeance and anger. She also appears in the office behind Slade after he’s taken over QC at the end of the episode.

– Moira and Oliver reconcile their differences, to a degree. Moira is certain, deep down, that Malcolm Merlyn had something to do with Thea’s kidnapping, and she tortures herself over it throughout the episode. Oliver, however, knows the truth, but there’s nothing he can do to assuage his mother’s guilt besides getting her daughter home safely.

“I woke up every day, for five years, the mother who’d lost her son. I can’t… I can’t endure it again.”

Oliver tries to let her off the hook for the fight they’ve been having, the hatred he’s been harboring, but Moira can’t let it go. She really did tell all of her lies, about Malcolm, about the Undertaking, about Robert and Walter, in a desperate attempt to keep her family together and safe. She admits that she’s been too weak to face any truths about herself, and Oliver tries to tell her that she’s not the reason Thea’s missing, but who can believe that? I wouldn’t, if I were Moira.

 

{The shot where Oliver stands behind his mother, his head bowed in anguish and guilt, is particularly affecting.}

“From the moment your children are born, you worry what the world might do to them. But you never stop to think what you might do to them, that we could be our own worst enemy.”

It’s a lesson every mother has to learn, and some of them still don’t.

The real issue here is that I think, now that Moira’s reached this level of self-awareness, now that she’s admitted all of her mistakes, now that Oliver’s forgiven her… Now, I worry about Moira’s future on this show.

– Roy leaves Team Arrow, frustrated by Oliver’s tyranny (he actually calls him “King Queen,” sassy) and by everyone else’s blind belief in him. He even pins Diggle to one of the work tables, and Sara threatens to shoot him with an arrow if he doesn’t let him go. That’s when Oliver appears, asking what’s going on, and Roy flounces. Later, after Thea’s done yelling at Oliver, Roy watches as she leaves the station, all alone in this world, before driving off in his Mustang and leaving Starling City for places unknown.

– Oliver, frightened and upset after his confrontation with Isabel, insists on going alone to get Thea, as instructed. Diggle, ever the soldier, asks Oliver to at least let them set up a perimeter, but Oliver is insistent. Sara, who knows Slade almost as well as Oliver does, says that this is just another one of Slade’s games, that he should take a beat, but Oliver can’t stand still, and he snaps, “What I can’t do, Sara, is nothing!” He asks what she would do if it were her family, and adds, “I can’t get dragged into this same debate, over and over!” It’s true: It feels like he and Sara have had this conversation a million times by now, both now and in the flashbacks. The tough part is that Sara is displaying a deep understanding of Slade here, and a fundamental misunderstanding of how Oliver works now. He really can’t just stay there and do nothing — earlier in the episode, when Thea was first taken, Oliver was forced to stand still in his business suit and be Oliver Queen, Thea’s scared brother, when it was clear he would’ve rather been in his Arrow suit, knocking down doors until he found his sister. He was miserable like that, it’s just not how he functions now, and Sara doesn’t seem to understand that.

But Felicity does. She simply says, “Go.” That’s when Oliver stops moving, his eyes snap to her, and he finally focuses. When people are important to you, sometimes you hear their voices over everyone else’s; It’s how we work, because our brains place importance on those that we trust. Oliver is agitated and upset and lashing out, but one word from Felicity and he’s completely focused on her.

 

And don’t believe for a second that Felicity wants him to go. (Her first words, when he finally checks in with her later, are “Are you okay?”) She would rather he stay, because at least then he’s safe and unharmed. But she also knows, from nearly two years of experience, that if something happened to his sister and he wasn’t out there actively trying to find her and save her, that Oliver would never forgive himself. It’s for his own peace of mind, and for Felicity’s, that she tells him to go. It’s not an easy decision for her, but she knows it’s the right one.

She tells him to do whatever it takes to get his sister back, and his eyes never leave her face as she’s talking. When he turns to leave, his eyes don’t dart back to Sara or Diggle — they go straight to the door, to his mission, because it’s all that matters right now.

It was a subtle but strong reminder that Team Arrow was effective in its original form, when it was three people and some computers and weapons. Too many people means too many dissenting opinions, and as much as I love Sara, I think that’s why these last few episodes have felt like they’re missing that spark — the balance is still thrown off. She’s too close to Oliver, and yet not close enough, because her opinion and input matter, but not quite enough when lives are on the line. This scene, if anything, started to reveal that maybe Oliver and Sara aren’t compatible after all; they seem more like two fiercely independent spirits that are drawn to each other.

– There’s a sweet scene at the end of the episode where Diggle and Felicity are waiting for Oliver alone in the Foundry. He asks what they’re doing there, and they say that they suspected he’d go there to be alone. Besides, as Diggle says, “Where else would we be?” Oliver’s crying, because he’s lost and worried for himself and the people around him. He grinds out his admission, “I was so focused on what Slade might do to me, that it never even occurred to me what I could do to myself. I am my own worst enemy.”

Diggle advises Oliver not to let Slade in his head, but Oliver can’t help it. “I can’t stop him from doing anything!” Felicity speaks again, firmly, saying that he can. Oliver can’t look at either of them when he asks, “What makes you so sure?” and it’s Diggle who replies, “‘Cause you’re not alone, man.” #TeamArrow!

Most of all, they’re not going to let Oliver brood and angst when there’s work to be done. Diggle steps forward and says, “Now what, boss?” Oliver steels himself and tells them that it’s time to fight back.

Arrow’s not back until April 16th, a sweet reward for making it past Tax Day, probably. It looks like the team infiltrates some kind of facility and that there might be some dissention in the ranks. The one thing missing from the post-episode preview: Laurel. Hmmmm!