Agents of SHIELD: Boom – I Is For Irony (Review)

JOHN PYPER-FERGUSON

Agents of SHIELD “Boom” serves up a heavy dose of irony. There are several instances where certain characters get their fair share of karma courtesy of the plot lines on offer. Shockley, after breaking the terrigen crystal developed by Radcliffe, is affected instead of Senator Nadeer as expected.

As a further bit of irony, however, Shockley’s first act as an inhuman is to explode, blasting the horrible Ellen Nadeer into oblivion. This episode shows who Radcliffe based Aida on, a real-life love interest who was dying of a brain tumor.

It was interesting to see that Holden Radcliffe was once, like most comic book villains, a good guy who wanted to use science to save the love of his life from death by tumor. Agnes, the template for Aida, professes to hate Radcliffe for deserting her.

Coulson talks her into making contact with her former love in order to save May. Meanwhile, Shockley’s mission turns him into living bomb. Quake practices on how to neutralize the newest inhuman and Jeffrey Mace learns that the facsimile of the Captain America serum is killing him.

Later, the “leader” of SHIELD will sacrifice himself to stop The Superior from interfering.  Mace injects himself with the serum via his new suit and is captured by the Russian big bad.

The very act of using himself as a distraction serves up yet another dose of irony since his inadvertent act of heroism got him the job as a faux Captain America in the first place.

Agnes unsurprisingly chooses to return to Radcliffe when he promises her a Matrix-like existence in his re-created world. She is “downloaded” into the verse where there is no brain tumor. Unfortunately, the woman dies shortly after being loaded into the world.

Radcliffe explains to the Agnes’ replacement (Aida) that it was always going to happen. Her brain, however, lives on in the new re-creation, the same manufactured world that May is currently residing it.

The implication is that May too will die if she is not rescued soon. One interesting point is whether or not a replication of May will live on in this new world even after she has been rescued.

By the end of the episode Shockley is still determined to help The Superior bring down SHIELD and the rest of the inhumans. He escapes from the omnijet, after being shoved into a containment pod and ejected before he can blow everyone on board to pieces.

Mace has been captured by The Superior. Somewhat annoyingly, that Captain America serum does not render him immune to high powered cattle prods.

This is an interesting development in the show. In the Marvel verse Mace does actually take on the role of Captain America for a short while. Daisy, aka Quake, tells Jeffrey that he is not the new “Cap.” One wonders if this spell in captivity will somehow change things for Mace in that department.

As a sidenote, kudos to Mallory Jansen for knocking it out of the park in this episode and the storyline on Phil Coulson and his search for May was spot on. Clark Gregg never fails to deliver.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC.

CAST:

Guest starring John Pyper-Ferguson as Terence Shockley and Zach McGowan as The Superior.

Orange Is the New Black: People Persons – Suzanne and Lolly (Review)

Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren

The torturous punishment of Flores, and more recently Piper, ends with the discovery of the body in the garden.  All of Litchfield is placed in lockdown.  Orange Is the New Black “People Persons” takes us that step closer to a meltdown at the minimum security facility. This episode also looks at  Suzanne’s backstory and there is a heart wrenching end to Healy and Lolly’s sessions.

“People Persons” was a tissue box bonanza as everything starts falling  apart at Litchfield. Finding the body has begun  a domino tumbling exercise that will end in tears for more than one inmate in the prison.

When the body is found Caputo leaves Piscatella in charge and most of the Corrections Officers go off the rails. Only Donuts and Bayley question what is going on. As the alarm sounds for lockdown, Healy asks what is going on.

He finds out that a guard’s chopped up body was discovered in the gardening area.  Sam realizes that Lolly was actually telling the truth.

Warren speaks with Maureen (Emily Althaus) and Taystee suggests that she give Kukudio some room.  “She gave you blue labes,” Taystee says and she indicates she thinks Maureen is crazy. 

Suzanne’s Flashback:

Suzanne  Warren is a “greeter” or welcome lady, for a store. She is popular with the staff and the customers, especially the children. She really likes Dylan and his family. After she greets the group, Suzanne learns she has won “Employee of the Month.”

She rushes home to relay the good news and discovers that she will be alone for the weekend. Suzanne does not like being by herself. Her sister tells her that there is food in the fridge and that they are only a phone call away.

In the park Warren bumps into Dylan playing with his new truck.  She invites him to have ice cream and she brings him home to play video games.  Dylan gets scared and calls 9-1-1. Suzanne tells him off for calling the number for a non-emergency.  The boy tries to get out of the front door but cannot.

Dylan  then climbs out the window to the fire escape. Suzanne tries to pull him back in and he topples over the edge of the railing to his death.

The Staff:

The Corrections Officers are upset that the dead man has not been identified.  They believe him to be a fellow officer which he was not. He was a hitman hired to kill Alex.  This annoyance starts the ball rolling as they decide to ignore everything Caputo tells them.

Piscatella takes the lead and starts questioning inmates, even though Caputo said not to. Donuts questions the captain and gets sent out to stand guard over the body parts. Luschek makes fun of Donuts and gets sent to protect Judy King. Everyone else watches the inmates during the lockdown or rounds-up inmates for questioning.

The Comedy:

Donuts while watching the body parts keeps hearing noises in the tiny cornfield. Bayley brings him a book; Stephen King’s It, and twice the new officer scares Donuts when he visits.

Luschek ends up in a molly-taking  sex session with Judy King and Yoga Jones (Constance Schulman). The morning after sees both Jones and Luschek disturbed by what they have done while Judy carries on as if nothing happened. 

Sam Healy: 

Healy realizes he misdiagnosed Lolly and it has destroyed him.  Sam leaves Litchfield, he passes Luschek on the way to work. He tells the other officer he needs something from his car.  Healy heads down to have ice cream and later heads to a lake.

He calls Katya and leaves a message saying she does not have to call him back. He then walks into the water; he is committing suicide. Just as the water reaches shoulder height, his cell phone on the bank rings.

He wades back to the shore and finds it is work.

Suzanne in the Present:

Maureen approaches Suzanne who takes Taystee’s advice and gives the other woman some space. Humphrey tries to instigate a fight between one of the supremacists and Suzanne.  She refuses.

Kukudio volunteers to fight the “retard” and all the officers urge the two to fight. Maureen is the aggressor but never lands a punch. Suzanne flips out and beats the other woman bloody. Humphrey declares he has won $20.

Red:

Piscatella zeroes in on Red for questioning. As she and the captain engage in a battle of wits, her bunk, living area and work place are all searched. The dead guard’s keys are found behind the oven.

When the keys are brought into the interrogation room, it seems that Red will give up Lolly.

Lolly:

Despite appearances, it is not Red who snitches on Lolly, but Sam. The staff cannot find her and Piscatella starts to sound the alarm. Healy knows where she is though. He takes the officers down to Lolly’s time machine.

She is there, clutching a potato and trying to travel through time. Healy takes Lolly to the psychiatric wing. At the gate, she is escorted by two guards as Sam watches through the bars.

Lolly begins to panic and calls out to Healy. He remains silent,  tears in his eyes as they take her down the hallway. Finally, with Lolly’s cries echoing down the hall, Sam turns and leaves.

Thoughts:

This episode of Orange Is the New Black did so much. It was a poke in the eye for private prisons for a start. The scene with Caputo and Linda, where it is revealed that she has never visited  a prison yet works at purchasing for the system is infuriating.

The staff are not trained properly and therefore begin bullying in earnest when they are put in charge of the inmates while Caputo is gone.

Suzanne’s backstory was heartbreaking. She clearly was not ready to be left on her own so Dylan’s death was really down to her sister.  When Dylan falls over the railing it is shocking to the extreme.

Sam’s suicide attempt is also horrible and it serves as a precursor to what happens to Lolly.

This episode was hard to get through without going through an entire box of tissues. it was full of heartache. Sam, Suzanne and Lolly all brought tears to our eyes in “People Persons.”

Orange Is the New Black falls right smack in dramedy territory. This episode, except for Donuts and Luschek, was all tragedy.  There are two episodes left in this season, if you have not watched the entire thing already, start watching the series now.

CAST:

Ray Donovan: Girl with Guitar – Shocker (Review)

RayDonovan_401_2609.R

Last season’s finale  saw Ray Donovan taking on the Armenians (in the guise of the Minassian’s) and his brother Terry’s nemesis the Russians. Ray ended up  the floor of the church with a bullet in his abdomen. He forced Mickey to leave town and head to Vegas. “Girl with Guitar” picks up after the events in “Exsuscito.”

Ray is watched over by boxer Hector Campos (Ismael Cruz Cordova) until his wound heals. Donovan relives having the bullet dug out by a veterinarian and has a vision that disturbs him.  Detective Muncie (Michael Hyatt) calls Ray into her office looking for Mickey (Jon Voight).

Mick is in Primm, Nevada working in Buffalo Bill’s Green Horseshoe as bartender. The man is up to his old tricks, using hookers to help him rob high rollers as they pass through.  The owner of the casino Bill Primm (Ted Levine)  fires Mickey. 

Ray  hunts down Bridget and asks her to come home.  Abby gets devastating news from the doctor. Terry tries to join the clergy and is turned down and he is not happy, “I f***ing came back from the dead!”  Donovan is approached by Mrs. Kovitzky (Embeth Davidtz) to get close to Muncie. 

Hector gets in trouble and Ray has to help him out. Meanwhile Campos has an argument with Marisol (Lisa Bonet) things get out of hand.  A policeman arrives. Hector panics and takes the man hostage.

Donovan must step in and help Hector who has a big fight coming up. (Campos’ daughter tells everyone that her dad will “da story” the competition.)  Ray does what he does best and fixes the situation.

MIckey has his own issues up in Primm, Nevada.  Buffalo Bill tells him if he comes in the casino again that he will not be able to walk out. Mick takes some peyote and ends up back in Buffalo Bill’s establishment.  Security approach Mickey and he goes on the attack and escapes.

Back in LA Donovan sorts the cop out and afterward speaks with Hector who reveals the shocking truth of who Marisol is and why she has such a hold over him.

Liev  Schreiber still manages to make his character fascinating. Ray Donovan feels a lot like a modern day version of Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe, sans the gumshoe sign and restrictions of being a PI.  What the two characters share is a certain amount of world weariness and a dogged determination make it to the end.

The big difference is that Ray has the utmost confidence in his ability to make everything work. There is no self doubt in the man at all when it comes to his plans to make things right. It is a trait he shares with Mickey although his father’s confidence is usually misplaced.

RayDonovan_401_3099.R
Jon Voight as Mickey

In season four the powerful Finney clan have disappeared but Sheila Muncie has not.  Kovitzky may be the big temptation this year and Mickey has annoyed Bill Primm the owner of the Green Horseshoe Casino and Hotel.  These two new characters have apparently replaced the Finney family.

Girl with Guitar, which is the name of the painting that Kovitzky gives Ray, sees some powerful guest stars. Ted Levine never fails to intimidate. That deep voice and those steely eyes would make most men quake in their boots.  Embeth Davidtz (who is perhaps best known as Miss Honey from Matilda) also impresses with her entrance. Her character is also intimidating, unlike Buffalo Bill however,  hers is an intellectual menace.

In terms of the regular cast, Eddie Marsan is back as brother Terry. Pooch Hall is back as Daryl and Dash Mihok is still Bunchy.  

The episode ends with Ray and Abby lying in bed and she asks him to tell her everything will be alright. Mickey awakes in another bed with a different, more upsetting,  visitor.

Directed by Liev Schreiber,  Girl with Guitar has a deft feel to it and every twist was projected perfectly.  This season of Ray Donovan may just be the best yet.

The series airs Sundays on Showtime. Do not miss this one.

The Mindy Project: There’s No Crying in Softball (Review)

Jay R. Ferguson kn The Mindy Project

“The Mindy Project” continues this week, in “There’s No Crying in Softball,” with the romance that was started in “Princeton Charming.” Jay R. Ferguson returns as the Princeton coach who started “dating” Mindy last week.  The two are almost a  perfect match two professionals on opposite ends of the career scale who have fun in and out of bed.

Dr. Lahiri is reluctant to tell her friends and colleagues at work about the relationship and almost loses Coach Drew Schakowsky. The whole thing works out in the end and it seems that she may have found someone who moves at her frequency.

A weekend date is in jeopardy when timing is thrown off as Mindy learns that the staff softball game is scheduled over the weekend. The tournament runs the same time that Drew is coming to visit with Mindy in New York.  She tells the organizers, Morgan (Ike Barinholtz) and Collette (Fortune Feimster) that she cannot make it. 

Jody (Garret Dillahunt), Collette’s brother, states that he and his new girlfriend Courtney (played by Maria Thayer) will be attending.  Drew arrives in New York and Mindy explains that she is looking after her son. The coach opts to stay in a hotel the night before their “big date” and Mindy’s big weekend is off to a shaky start. 

As the softball game progresses, Jody tells Courtney an amusing story that keeps her laughing. Unfortunately the laughter is distracting Collette who finally snaps and throws a softball striking Courtney’s face.

Collette is ejected from the game and Morgan calls Mindy begging her to join the team otherwise they will forfeit.  Mindy agrees and as the day drags on and on.  Drew, who thinks she is at work,  stops by the hospital to visit.

Jody and Courtney are in the waiting room and he explains to the coach that Mindy is playing softball. He stops by  the game and catches her in a lie, she texts that she is delivering twins and is stressed. Drew texts back that she looks fine “from here.” Looking up Mindy finds him looking at her by the edge of the ball field.

Rather than get angry, Drew agrees to coach the ob/gyn team and they go on to win the contest. Mindy, who has been avoiding telling anyone about her Princeton coach, finally admits he is her boyfriend.

Once again this show and Mindy Kaling are comic perfection. The quirky characters and the presence of “The Real O’Neals” regular Jay R. Ferguson as the newest romantic conquest of Kaling’s character equals an impressive show.

The moments are splendid and when Collette hits Courtney with the ball the build up to her act of violence is spot on.  As is all the humor in the show.

One stand out moment has Ferguson’s character at a shop. He is waiting for Mindy and ordered his hot chocolate. When she rings to say she will be late, he says he may leave as a group of young girls in cosplay outfits are trying to bully him for  the table.

At the end of the conversation he tells her that Elsa (from “Frozen”) just hissed at him.  This is the kind of comedy that makes up “The Mindy Project.” A splendid mix of bawdy humor; the short montage of Mindy pushing Drew onto the bed at each of their dates, and the silly; Jody’s complete denial of Drew’s existence at the hospital.

“The Mindy Project” airs Tuesdays on Hulu.  Catch this one. It is funny and you too will fall in love with the lead character.  If you have missed the earlier seasons, begin binging now. You will be glad you did.

Arrow: Schism – Hope Springs Eternal (Review)

Damien Darhk in the final battle Schism

“Arrow” ended the fourth season with “Schism.” Damien Darhk was still quite earnestly trying to destroy Starling City, aka Star City, and the rest of the world even though his ark was rubble.  Darhk (played brilliantly by Neal McDonough) rather pettily wanted to kill everyone, including his daughter, because Machin died last week. 

The episode had the obligatory flashbacks to the island and we learn that Oliver killed Taiana (Elysia Rotaru) who was corrupted by the dark power needed to kill good old “what’s his name” back on the island. (We know his name was Baron Reiter  played by Jimmy Akingbola.) 

Meanwhile, the gang are overwhelmed when Darhk pays them a not-so social call to get the Rubicon laptop back and make some threats. While he was there, Damien had some ghosts shoot up the place. Getting his daughter back Darhk then departs for the final phase of his “bringing hell to earth” plan.

There was a good deal of angst in this season finale. Everyone was upset, depressed and had lost hope by the time that Oliver and the good citizens of Starling City took  on Darhk and his ghosts.  (To be fair, the scene where Mr and Mrs John Doe clash with the armed ghosts felt pretty epic, like “Gladiator” without swords, shields, sandals or Russell Crowe.)

“Arrow,” aka Green Arrow, has always been rather dark. Oliver Queen is morose, has to work hard at not killing villains and always has that “hangdog” look in his face. Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) is the Pollyanna in the Arrow-verse, even her inadvertent killing of “tens-of-thousands” of innocents does not put too much of a damper in Smoak’s eternal optimism. 

The finale had plenty of gun play, a bit of arrow play and loads of choreographed fights between pretty much everyone. Only John Barrowman’s Merlin was shorted in the department of fisticuffs, although he was able to save Thea (Willa Holland) with a well placed arrow of his own. 

After a huge build up to the final battle where 15, 000 nuclear warheads are about to eradicate all life  on the planet it is revealed that all Queen needed to defeat Darhk was…wait for it….hope.  Yes, hope was the secret weapon all along. Somewhat akin to Tinkerbell being brought back to life by clapping, Darhk’s magic was rendered useless by a whole lot of hope.

(To be fair it did take an entire city of hope to bring about Darhk’s defeat…sort of like an entire theatre of children clapping wildly was needed to bring back Tinkerbell…Hmmm.)

As one website put it, “Arrow” just sort of finished this season after Oliver shoved his arrow into Darhk’s chest and killed him.  But seriously? What did everyone expect? Darhk was the best villain ever.

Funny, pithy, glib, snotty, bigger than life and so acerbic.  He was good-humored evil on two legs and he loved being bad.  However his end came about, whatever happened afterward was going to be anticlimactic.  With an entire episode of fights, shootouts, frantic keyboard pounding and the rise of a downtrodden city’s denizens, the ending was bound to be a little…Meh.

In terms of outstanding performances Neal McDonough should be pulling in some huge gongs for his work on this show. The actor just blew everyone else away whenever he was on camera and he did not have to say a word to do so. That look of evil glee was enough to overpower the other players.

“Arrow” finished without any help from outside agencies, like “The Flash,” or “The Legends of Tomorrow” or even “Supergirl” (we know, it is miles too early for that) but the tease of a huge multi-crossover event next season leaves all sorts of possibilities open. We are still hoping that a certain former Time Master manages to bring back Laurel.

Hint. Hint.