Gotham: Transference – Monster Mash (Review)

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The season two finale of “Gotham,” titled “Transference,” was a real monster mash at the end and had a couple of surprises.  The long-haired Bruce Wayne was one and the prompting by Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) to the  shocked Oswald Cobblepot, “Nothing is impossible,” were but two of  surprises out of an episode chock a block with little revelatory bits. 

Before going into a recap, of sorts, now would be a good time to have a moan about the Jim Gordon “doppelgänger ”  storyline in the episode. Granted it was funny to see McKenzie acting like a slack-jawed yokel and overly loud version of himself but seriously?  Even Harvey Bullock cannot be that stupid. If nothing else the acting captain should have ordered Gordon checked for drugs.

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Aw shucks…

The fact that there was clearly something wrong with Jim Gordon should have been picked up by even the least observant of Gotham’s finest. The fact that it took Barbara Keen (Erin Richards) to suss out that Gordon was not himself, literally, was stretching the joke too far. 

Back to the main plot line, Fish Mooney (B*tch) was easily the scariest thing about the episode.  Mooney was always homicidal by nature, add to that winning personality this suggestive pheromone, or what ever it was Strange added, and there will be no stopping her.

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There were comic bits in the episode.  Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) explaining to Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) that she was never manipulated or used. 

“I got you wrapped around my pinky… Always have.”

Nygma proves that not only is he mad as a hatter but he is not above cheating when he plays the poison gas game with Lucius and Bruce. Ms. Peabody (Tonya Pinkins) not only shows that even she is not immune to Mooney’s “charms” (You better not talk about  my mama again.) but she later inadvertently saves Indian Hill from nuclear destruction. 

(The “Water” plea was brilliant and the comic highlight of the episode, much funnier than the pseudo Jim Gordon gag that went on far too long.)

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It was satisfying to see that underneath all his pomp and self-confidence, Hugo Strange (BD Wong) was a coward terrified of Mooney, whom he could not control. 

Speaking of control, Strange’s little truth serum session left Gordon with a few suggestions that he seems unable to shake and that murmured message to Penguin from Fish that “nothing is impossible,” is a brilliant lead to next season. Oswald may just be the biggest problem Gotham has seen yet, even more of a thing to be feared than Mooney. Now that he has that Mooney message bouncing around in his brain, he may be the next really big bad.

Interestingly, Butch (Drew Powell) has slipped effortlessly back into the role of Penguin goon since the death of Tabitha. He even accepts Keen, for the moment, and when Cobblepot orders Butch to “saddle up” to get Strange, the big guy raises that giant fake paw and salutes.  

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Butch and the big gun.

(Speaking of giant, that mini-gun that Butch uses toward the end was so kick-arse. Equally impressive was his murmured “Oh no,” at the sight of Fish and his abrupt about-face and quick departure from the scene.)

Selina Kyle was the biggest little heroine of the piece with her strategic manipulation of Brigit, aka Firefly, into defending her from Mr. Freeze.  With the distraction of the battle she was able to release Bruce, Fox and Jim.

The end of Gotham had a “bag-lady” opening the bus door and releasing all of Strange’s monsters to roam the streets of the city. Miraculously, she is unharmed and the long haired Wayne stops to thank her.

It was disappointing not to  see Oswald wreak vengeance on Strange, after all Cobblepot is still off with the fairies; as seen at the beginning of the episode with that severed head decoration,  but we can only hope that upon awakening from that Mooney faint, that Penguin sets out to balance the madness scales.

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The fury of a penguin…

With the introduction of the young Bruce Wayne clone it makes one wonder if Theo Galavan and Fish Mooney are not clones as well.  Perhaps this question will be answered next season.  Either way, the powerful, and monstrous, new villains of Gotham look set to create a lot of  havoc at home.

 

Agents of SHIELD: Season Three Finale & Another Star Wars Reference

 LUKE MITCHELL, NATALIA CORDOVA BUCKLEY, HENRY SIMMONS, JOHN HANNAH, MING-NA WEN

Ah Agents of SHIELD you know how to crank my chain, maneuver my emotions and tickle my inner geek/nerd. The season three finale, which has the last two episodes slapped together (Absolution and Ascension) for a complete assault on the sensibilities of the viewers/fans. Not only did you deliver “in spades” but the best ‘Star Wars’ reference ever had this viewer in stitches.

(Yet moments later I was bawling like a kid who has had his Mr. Whippy cone – the ones with a Cadbury flake –  nicked at the seaside.)

Before doing a very abbreviated  recounting of the finale the comedy gold bits will be looked at first.  A real one-two sucker punch combination from SHIELD where we get caught with our pants down laughing. The last of the episode was one long sob fest where not one but two towels were required as tissues would not handle this flood of tears.

The two most hysterical bits in the last half of the finale were made possible by Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Agent Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), guest star John Hannah as Holden Radcliffe and at least once by Axle Whitehead (who plays James).  “Are they all going to look like these buggers?” he asks plaintively; referring to Radcliffe’s creations. “Even the females?’

Fitz starts the comic ball bouncing with his fake-out of Giyera (Mark Dacascos) who has just knocked out May and is about to kill Fitz. Stammering  that they do not really  want to hurt anyone as they were all nice people before turning, the agent suddenly produces an “invisible” pistol. 

“Well… except you. You were a murderous wank before all this.”

Fitz kills Giyera and releases Daisy.

Coulson and his crew escape from the base and go after Hive and the warhead; absolution.  The Quinjet docks on the craft, so similar to when Ward was back on the team as a SHIELD agent and Bill Paxton‘s character was the big bad, and Hive confronts Phil who does a bit of stand-up with his interaction with the parasite.

His many chuckle worthy comments includes his description of Hive:

“I hunted you down and killed you, unleashing this Ward reboot nightmare hell beast on the planet.”

Phil also tries his hand at a pun (See what I did there?):

“I’m just here to offer a helping hand. Pun absolutely intended.”

But the ultimate gag, even better than the joke at Hive’s expense, of not realizing it was talking to “Hologram Phil,” was Coulson’s second stand out ‘Star Wars’ reference…Old school:

“Plus, I always wanted to do this. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only …”

Watching that scene was pure magic.

Things get serious soon after. Lincoln gets very badly injured and the team battle the inhuman creations of Radcliffe.  Daisy hijacks the nuclear warhead and puts in on the Quinjet; she understands now it is her death she saw in the vision, and plans to take the warhead and Hive into outer space.

Lincoln substitutes himself to “save the girl I love and the planet at the same time.”  The jet makes it into space and the Lincoln rides the nuclear device with Hive until it detonates. Before that Daisy is beyond distraught, sobbing and pleading with everyone, especially father-figure Coulson, to turn the jet back and bring it back down.

Hive and Lincoln die.

There is a six month fast forward  Phil is no longer Director Coulson. He and Mack are in the field surveilling an “emo” version of Daisy; now no longer with the spy organization and leaving a trail of destruction behind her. She is trying to atone, messily.

Radcliffe has been cleared of crimes committed “under the influence” of Hive, barring “a few stipulations” as he tells Aida while uploading the LMD Phase one. (Fans of the comic verse’s early tales “Squadron Supreme”  have been waiting for this moment since the series creation.) Fitz and Simmons now apparently  work for Radcliffe;  the band has broken up.

There is no sign of Melinda May.

The two hour season three finale was spectacular. ‘Absolution’ actually had the team capture Hive.  We got a look into the mind of Radcliffe and one comic moment with his creations.

Lincoln scrambles Hive’s brain which does not necessarily make him less dangerous but it has damaged his thought process…all of them. The first half ends with a desperate Daisy tearfully begging Hive to take her back.

He cannot; as Lash has made her impervious.

Thus begins the start of Hive’s “longest day”  as Daisy pitches a hissy fit to end all hissy fits.  The two battle for quite some time before he gets the better of her, with a little help.  He then begins his plan to turn the world into Radcliffe’s inhuman creations. (Something that really bothers James no end.)

It ends with a pretty impressive reveal;  that even an immortal parasite can long for death when it has been alive long enough. Hive  goes out in a split-second nuclear flash in space.

There was a lot of teasing from the makers of SHIELD with a number of  possibilities of which agent would die. At one point it seems to be Yo Yo, who takes a bullet for Mack, and then later the cross that she gave to Mack appears to point to him.

That cross, the same one Daisy saw in her vision of death, moves all over the place. To Mack, Fitz, Daisy and finally Lincoln (Luke Mitchell). It is he who dies, along with former Agent Grant Ward (although technically Phil killed him before on the planet).

The end of this double episode was heartbreaking.  It also seems that  “six months” into the future the team have not fared well at all.

The Surrealistic Moment  Award goes to Hive (Brett Dalton) and Lincoln for their calm conversation on the Quinjet while waiting for the bomb to detonate. 

Honorable mention goes to Hannah’s Radcliffe and his clear discomfort, perhaps even mortification, at the appearance of his creations. Just brilliant.

‘Agents of SHIELD’ ended on a  very low note.  I must admit to having issues with watching the final finale moments as it is hard to see anything whilst wiping one’s eyes and nose. Seriously  it was a shot to the heart to see Daisy all in black and alone again.

All moaning aside, about the heart wrenching scenes of the finale, next season should be brilliant, John Hannah as series regular (top notch that man) and this huge shake up of SHIELD should equal equate to an excellent fourth season.

The Grinder: Full Circle – Season Finale (Review)

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For weeks we have watched the long running malpractice charges against Dean and Stewart’s father in ‘The Grinder.’ The season finale, ‘Full Circle’ does indeed do just that. At long last Dean Sanderson Sr. takes the stand to be questioned by the previously humiliated lawyer Velance.

This series has been on top of taking the mickey out of every television law program premise since the days of  ‘Perry Mason’ and the actor’s who play these dramatic characters on the small box.  Using the premise of an actor fired from his own TV show, and replaced by Timothy Olyphant (who played himself) who really believes he can “play” a lawyer in real life The Grinder is sheer brilliance on the small screen.

The arc of the show has been nigh on perfect. Lowe’s egotistical, yet oh so shallow, television star who has overshadowed his hard working brother is magical  as the man who believes he is the grinder.

The finale, which ends a long running storyline of William Devane‘s character previously lying to a client and being sued as a result, allows every single member of this sterling ensemble cast to shine.  Not many comedies are able to do this or even try.

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Rob Lowe, guest star Steve Little, William Devane and Fred Savage

‘Full Circle’ allows the series to mimic the “show within a show” premise, where “real” life allows for full dramatics, last minute evidence and the “save.”  The finale opens with a fast moving Velance (Kumail Nanjiani) montage  where the lawyer is learning how “to grind.” Then Dean reveals to Stewart and the rest of the firm  that Velance has been behind the whole thing from the start. 

Stewart and Dean take their findings to the judge who has footage of Stewart breaking into the witness’s house. Stewart is suspended and he puts Claire (Natalie Morales) in charge of his father’s defense. 

(Morales is a true gem as the always less than impressed with Dean lawyer who also seems to be secretly amused at the entire dynamic.)

Dean Sr. requests Dean Jr. to be his lawyer and the entire trail, where Velance grinds the grinder is a comic highlight. The two Sanderson children are covering the case and interview everyone, including their mother Debbie (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) who does her interview “two bottle deep.” She tries to steal the tape as a means of damage control. 

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Hana Hayes, Connor Kalopsis, Mary Elizabeth Ellis

Velance is beaten, in the end, by the team work of Stewart and Dean.  Stewart discovers the twist in the story by accident after Debbie steals the tape to hear what she said.

Everything about ‘The Grinder’ works. The straighter than straight playing of these characters, the kettle drum dramatic music that frames each episode and the off the wall storylines have made this one of the funniest comedies on television.

The finale of  season one’s  ‘The Grinder’ sees Lowe, as Dean, giving a rousing thinly veiled and self-reverential speech about the show.  Wth such low viewing numbers  it may have been wasted.

‘The Grinder’ may not return to FOX, but there is always Hulu or Netflix;  both of whom would be a brilliant second home to the show.

This is a delicious comedy served up with panache and storylines that promote the stars and guest stars brilliantly. So, until FOX come out with a greenlight for season two, it is “Grinder rests.” At least until some other network takes the show on.

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Finale end shot.

iZombie Season Finale – Zombie Homeland (Review)

Rose McIver as Liv in iZombie

The two hour season two finale of iZombie (two back to back episodes, “Dead Beat” and “Salvation Army”) featured an excellent cliffhanger ending and left Liv a choice of joining the new Seattle zombie homeland or not. A lot of threads were tied up and it was very touch and go with Major about to “zombie-out” with no brains.

Before the beginning of the end, an apocalypse does seem all too certain despite the valiant efforts of Clive (Malcolm Goodwin), Major (Robert Buckley) and Liv (Rose McIver). Of course that all comes later. First, in “Dead Beat” Lilywhite is arrested, charged with being the Chaos Killer and so is Ravi (Rahul Kohli), for being an accessory.

Major  is put in jail to await trial but he does get a high powered lawyer, Brandt Stone (played brilliantly by “Agent Carter “actor Ken Marino) paid for by Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber). It becomes a race to get Major out of jail or smuggle in some brains to keep him from turning all the way.

While Lilywhite is being held on the thinnest of evidence for the Chaos killings, Clive gets evidence to show that Major  did murder all the victims of the Meat Cute massacre. Liv and Peyton (Aly Michalka) learn that Major  is the Chaos Killer but that his victims are all still alive, frozen in stasis.

Ravi does not go to jail, but he does get suspended, and he, along with Liv, go to get the frozen zombies. The M.E. goes to ask Lilywhite at the prison  where they are and says he is having problems with the video game “Zombie Town.”

Vaughn sends out Janko (Colin Lawrence) to kill both Liv and Major.  As Lilywhite is released, Clive stops his departure and keeps him from the brain smoothie he desperately needs.  The detective  arrests Major for the Meat Cute killings. This thwarts Janko’s murderous mission. 

Later Liv reveals the truth about Major and her by stabbing herself in the chest which then turns her into an undead zombie versus a fully functioning one.  Clive has the charges dropped and gets Major released from prison once more.

Janko kills Liv, but Ravi saves her and the M.E. gets into a desperate battle with Janko after hitting him in  the head with a fire extinguisher.  Janko, being a huge strapping chap comes back and as the two men fight over the tranquilizer gun, the big man gets the fatal injection.

Major  and Liv later  eat the mercenary’s brains to learn his skill sets in order  to infiltrate the party.

Blaine (David Anders) helps Liv and Clive.  Mr. Boss learns that De Beers is still alive and orders him killed, along with Chief and Don.  Boss also demands that Peyton be taken, and Ravi gets pistol whipped in the process. Blaine does save his former gal later, much to Ravi’s chagrin. 

Vaughn throws a party to end all parties after selling his company and product; he got rid of everything for a cool billion.  Some of his technical team stumble across the faulty U and imbibe the stuff, tuning them into the type of zombies that attacked Liv at the boat party.

Rob Thomas, the lead vocalist for Matchbox 20, becomes a fatality and later the new zombie owner of Vaughn’s company and product sits snacking in the singer’s brains.

Du Clark tells Gilda/Rita (Leanne Lapp)  this was all for her, but she knows the truth.  Clive, Major and Liv infiltrate the celebration and end up being trapped by Vaughn. Liv is there to save Drake, who is still alive, but by the time they get to the basement he has been turned by Vaughn’s cure. 

Blaine is still standing at the end of the episode and Du Clark gets his just deserts. Gilda is also taken out, by Major, and Liv is given an offer she may not be able to refuse from Vivian Stoll (Andrea Savage).

There was a lot of action in the two hour finale. Admittedly more in the second half of the two-parter with a lot of shooting from Clive and Liv, as well as Stoll’s troops.  On the relationship side Clive blows his with Dale and Ravi  connects  with Peyton.

So by the end of the “iZombie” finale, the list of dead includes, Chief, Vaughn, Gilda, Rob Thomas (the singer and not the show runner), Janko, Mr Boss’s lackeys, and a slew of party attendees.  The banjo playing Don may or may not be dead, after taking two rounds to the body, and Ravi, Peyton,  Liv, Major, Blaine and Clive  are still standing.

Amusingly, the cop almost has to be scratched by Liv when they are trapped by a crowd of zombies. Max Rager is now owned by Stoll and it looks like Liv either goes along with the whole Seattle being the new zombie homeland or else.

“iZombie” finished its second season with a cracking  two-hour finale.  If you have not seen it yet, head over to Hulu. It will be worth the trip.

Falling Skies: Reborn Series Finale (Review)

Tom Mason, Hal and Weaver planning strategy, guest star Jeff Fahey watches.

Falling Skies finishes their five season run with Reborn, the series finale that brings everything to a head, including allowing Pope a finish somewhat more befitting his status as resident madman. Last week saw the 2nd Mass trapped  by a wave of hornets attacking the camp before they could make the move to Washington DC. This week the first of a few new character’s bought the Espheni farm when Marty gets taken down by a hornet.

In many ways this series finale felt a little “by the numbers.” Although whoever thought to give the excellent Jeff Fahey a cameo should be congratulated. (It may well be that Fahey is a fan, in either case, his being in the final show was a great touch.) It may well be down to sour grapes, this was a popular series that could have gone on that little bit longer, but this did feel rushed.

Certainly some things worked pretty well. The new “big bad;” the Espheni queen, was a nice touch. Even more impressive was using science fiction  actress Tricia Helfer (well known from TV’s  Battlestar Galactica, Tron and Ascension) to voice the creature.  Lt. Wolf was another new character to bite the big one in the slow move to Lincoln’s foot (The foot of the giant).

Perhaps the only real complaints had to do with the lighting and setting of the final move to the statue, the appearance of the queen and the “almost” death of Anne. It should also be mentioned that a lot was forgiven when a battered and bleeding Pope shows back up. His offering the pistol to Tom Mason was a great moment, but not as much as his own admission that his mad quest to make his adversary suffer did nothing to help his grief.

*Sidenote* His wheezing finish was sad, poetic and much better than being smashed beneath the rubble back at the 2nd Mass camp. Kudos for the show’s makers for bringing John Pope, aka Colin Cunningham back for one last moment.

Back to the camp, after poor Marty dies, this was a particularly touching moment with a choked up Colonel Weaver telling the dead man he will remember him, a group of bikers headed up by Jeff Fahey’s character Enos Ellis head into the camp and are to become Mason’s back up.

Annoyingly, after introductions are made, we have to go through the same old drill of questioning motives and the presence of Cochise. This is cut short after Anne brings out the Dorniya’s magic bullet and things move forward. Not before allowing Anthony his chance at redemption.

The game plan has to be altered after Mason and his team learn of a giant wall around DC that has to be breached via underground tunnels. As the two groups move through the old political tunnels they come across a slew of Overlord eggs. Cochise urges caution as the baby Overlords are more violent than the fully grown ones.

*Sidenote* The complaints: The trip through the tunnels really does feel like a cheat here. Too dark and too minimal to the extreme in terms of set dressing. The eggs are meant to be the focal point here and being the only source of light in the scenes they are. Much more than the actors who are difficult to make out in the dingy surroundings. With all the build up on the danger that the eggs pose, when one is finally “awakened” it proves to be anticlimactic. The death of Anne felt forced and contrived and I really felt that the queen was almost comical in appearance.

As they move closer to the queen, there are casualties. Anne is wounded, literally after telling Tom that she is pregnant. One comic moment; Hal asks Maggie to marry him, twice. Her first response being one of disbelief forces him to ask again.

Tom Mason, after the explosion that kills Lt. Wolf, and the baby Overlord, goes to meet the queen. Cue an exposition scene using stick figure paintings to show that this queen has been punishing the denizens of earth for the death of her “daughter.”

The show has mentioned Peru and Inca before and presumably this earlier queen died after the locals rose up and attacked once the glyphs were constructed. After some white knuckle tension, Mason feeds the magic bullet, via his bloodstream, to the queen. She dies and so does every Espheni on earth.

Anne dies.

Tom remembers the Dorniya reviving him after the moon attack and he takes her body to the water begging them to help him.  After they take Anne away, John Pope shows up. His body is broken and bloody. Pope offers Tom a chance to kill him after wheezingly explaining that he was wrong about everything. John dies, not at Mason’s hand, but of his wounds.

The voice over, that began at the start of the episode (against the recording of the Star Spangled Banner) begins again. It is Matt. He is writing down thoughts and he has to stop for a ceremony where Tom Mason will speak to the survivors of the world.

By the time the end credits roll, we see Anne has been revived by the Dorniya, Anthony has been completely redeemed, Maggie and Hal are together and  the Lincoln Memorial has been repaired. As Tom Mason gives his speech, the sound goes out and into space.

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Tom and Matt Mason “pre-speech.”

Falling Skies has had a long successful run. Noah Wyle and Will Patton as Tom Mason and Colonel Weaver will be missed, as will the rest of the cast, including Doug Jones as Cochise. TNT produced some solidly entertaining science fiction that entertained thoroughly for five whole seasons. Now it is so long to the Mason clan and all those who fought along side them for humanities sake. You will all be missed.