TV Round Up 09/11/14 - 15/11/14

Constantine just edges out Agents for Show of the Week thanks to its dark and brutal tone.”

The Walking Dead S5E5 - “Self Help” - Awesome 8/10

This week's episode focused around the Washington bound group, lead by Abraham, on a mission to get Eugene to the Capital to save the world. In typical TWD fashion, things went pear shaped for the group pretty quickly, as their bus was overturned only 15 miles from the church. This group – which now includes Maggie and Glenn - don't seem as well oiled as Rick's group, and that probably has something to do with the quick tempered Abraham, who will stop at nothing to reach DC; he even wants to drive head on through a horde of walkers with a busted vehicle. We also got to see a chunk of backstory for Abraham, and how his quick-temper and blind rage caused his family to leave him out of fear, after he beat 4 guys to death with his bare hands. Compared to last week, this episode had a much better focus, and was more enjoyable.

The big reveal this week – something Deedsy called early in the episode – was Eugene admitting that he had actually made up the cure and the Washington mission because he was desperate to survive, and knew that he had no other worth to a group. It was a very well done reveal, particularly paired with Abraham's descent into despair and borderline madness; his savage beating of Eugene – who we now have to wait to find out if he even survives it – was, well, savage, and I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing the fallout. Of course, we've no idea when we'll see that, given the show has been focusing on different people/groups almost every episode, and I reckon it's likely we'll flit back to Rick and the rest in the next episode. 

Gotham S1E8 - “The Mask” - Awesome 8/10 

Gotham hit the ground running this week, getting straight into the action with a brutal showdown - or 'interview', as it turns out - between 2 wannabe financiers looking to land a job at Sionis Industries. Now, before you get too hyped, the company isn't run by Roman Sionis, but rather Richard Sionis, who, like the noted Batman rogue, has a taste for wearing a black mask; it's hard to say at this point what the events of this episode mean for 'Black Mask's' future, with Richard being taken down by Gordon – who managed to take down 3 other guys, all wielding weapons, with his bare hands – so I'd imagine that someone else, possibly Roman, will don the Black Mask at some point in the future. It was great to see Jim not get his ass handed to him in a fight, and I really hope we get to see Black Mask resurface at some point soon.

Gordon was definitely badass with the fisticuffs this week, though we also got to see (more) foreshadowing for Bruce, who has a nasty encounter with a bully at school. The relationship between young Bruce and Sean Pertwee's Alfred is developing excellently, and whilst the latter was a bit jarring in the first episode – not quite the Alfred we've come to expect – I've really warmed to him. It also looks like they're going with Alfred having a military background, what with him agreeing to teach Bruce how to fight (fangirl squeal). Outside of Gordon, Bruce and Alfred, Bullock, Penguin and Fish Mooney were all great in this episode. Penguin is just a pleasure to watch, and has been the best casting so far – and that's not even a reflection on the others, who have all been spot on.

The Blacklist S2E8 - “The Decembrist (No. 12)” - Awesome 9/10 

At the end of last weeks episode of The Blacklist, we got hit with the curveball that the woman Red had been visiting – who many presumed was his long lost daughter – was, in fact, Berlins; this weeks episode was a whole series of curveballs in the same vein. First, we got a turnaround of the Berlin/Red relationship, with the two working together to take down the man behind it all, a man known as The Decembrist. This lead to the second twist – turns out Alan Fitch, the Assistant Director of National Intelligence, was that man, and Berlins vengeance saw Fitch's head literally explode in a shower of gore. His final scene with Red was as poignant as it was bloody, and I was absolutely gripped. It also gave us a tie back in to the shady group Fitch belongs to – well, belonged, I suppose – who were pulling a lot of the strings in Season 1, so it will be great to see that develop further.

In an episode full of twists, we also got to see a few loose ends get tied up; most prominent of all being the Tom situation. As we all know, Liz has been keeping Tom prisoner for over 4 months and using him as an informant to get to Berlin; that situation went south very quickly but resulted in Tom's final gift to Liz before he was released – the location of Alan Fitch after he was kidnapped by Berlin. The Tom situation has been a fairly stagnant plot line in an otherwise awesome season for me, but the way it wrapped up made it all worthwhile; the final scene meeting between Tom and Red revealed that Tom had been working for Red - not Berlin - all along. Speaking of tying up loose ends, after the initial partnership between Red and Berlin had run it's course, Red sat down – in stereotypical Russian fashion – and polished off a bottle of vodka with his main enemy of the show so far...before filling his chest with bullets. So with the major loose threads of the first season now tied up, it will be very interesting to see where the show goes from here and what new threats await Red and Liz.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S2E7 - “The Writing on the Wall” - Freakin' Awesome 10/10

After a brief hiatus last week (lets hope they don't repeat the trend of last season with regular, seemingly random breaks), Agents came back with a vengeance, grabbing all the threads they've been laying in regards to Tahiti/the alien blood/the alien writing and running with it. Coulson went back into the memory machine from last season in order to find out the identities of other Tahiti patients – in particular, one who has been tracking his fellow patients down and carving the alien writing into their bodies until they die. It was the most interesting this particular plot has been so far, and that's thanks in large part to finally getting some answers. For those that don't read the comics, all you'll now know is that they've found the writing is a map of an alien city – one which the Agents now intend to find. If, on the other hand, you ARE a comics reader (or, you know, you've been reading these reviews), then you probably freaked out as much as we did: the aliens are clearly the Kree and the alien city is blatantly Attilan, floating city of The Inhumans – who, it just so happens, recently had a film announced!

If that reveal wasn't enough for you, this episode stepped up it's game even further with what happened to Ward. As we all know, Ward escaped his brother's custody at the end of the last episode, and throughout this week's he made it look far too easy to escape the agents tasked at finding him. It showed off just how awesome Ward really is, and what a threat he can be if he turns out to be a fully fledged Hydra agent. Ward arranges a meeting with Sunil Bakshi, Daniel Whitehall's right hand man, in an attempt to set up a meeting with the Hydra Lieutenant – where Ward subtly name drops Baron Von Strucker, who we'll see next year in Age of Ultron – offering Bakshi the chance to be close enough to Coulson to “put a bullet in his head”. When May and the team turn up, however, she finds Bakshi tied up and gagged with the message “For Coulson” written on it. So, is Ward a Hydra agent or is he trying to prove himself to Coulson for a return to S.H.I.E.L.D later down the line? Either way I love what's happened with Ward this season and he remains one of my favourite characters in the show so far – a far cry from the last season.

The Flash S1E5 – “Plastique” - Kinda Awesome 7/10

It was a fairly slow week for Flash this week – geddit? – when, rather than a metahuman attempting to destroy the city, we were introduced to one who wanted nothing more than to be rid of her abilities. Bette Sans Souci, or as Cisco names her “Plastique”, had the ability to make objects spontaneously explode on contact – an ironically apt power to have if she had, as with the others, wanted to blow up the city. We also met another DC alum this week in General Wade Eiling – comic book readers may recognise him as “The General”, a noted Captain Atom and JLA villain – who is looking to capture Plastique and use her as a weapon. Harrison is more than familiar with Eiling, as the two had previously worked together to try and create humans with the ability to read minds, a revelation that gave our first glimpse of Grodd in a flash back (previously we've only seen his broken cage in S.T.A.R. Labs). Though Plastique didn't last long, a conversation between Wells and Eiling definitely implied that we are going to be seeing a lot more of the General in the episodes to come.

The slower pace also allowed the show to delve into some of the characters and their relationships – particularly Iris, who's dogmatic blogging about “the Streak” causes contention between her, Barry and Joe. I fully expect Iris and Barry to make up at some point in the future, but it'll be interesting to see how things develop in the immediate. We also got to see more from Harrison Wells, who's fast becoming a huge tease character – but that's okay, because it's the fun kind of tease. As a final point, it's absolutely worth mentioning that Barry is now running up buildings and across water, which is undeniably cool in it's own right, but I have to give kudos to the special effects team on the show, who continue to do an outstanding job bringing the fastest man alive to life.

Arrow S3E6 - “Guilty” - Awesome 8/10

For Arrow this week, I'm just going to go right ahead and mention the single greatest thing that's ever happened on the show so far: we got the boxing glove arrow! The best part about it was that they managed to do it in a way that worked within the Arrow universe, and I absolutely and completely loved the fan service. Now that that's out of the way, let's actually talk about what happened in the episode – I'll start with Roy. The big cliffhanger at the end of last weeks episode was that Roy was having dreams that implied he was the one to kill Sara; this week saw that thread dealt with and dismissed, though it does open up his character and the relationship between him and Ollie to new and interesting directions. Oh, he also basically got the name Arsenal, so there's another beautiful piece of fan service right there. I'm really looking forward to seeing more development for the character, who I feel can often be sidelined in favour of others.

It's great to see that The CW are utilising the huge catalogue of heroes and villains in DC's arsenal - albeit generally B or C listers - and this week got into another: Wildcat. It was revealed (well, in show continuity, anyway) that Ted Grant, the former boxer who is currently training Laurel, used to be a vigilante who roamed the Glades with his sidekick, Isaac Stanzler. It turns out that 6 years ago, Stanzler beat a drug dealer to death with brass knuckles - the weapons used by Wildcat - and Grant accepted the blame for it and cast out his sidekick; there are clear parallels between this and what's happening with Roy. The episode was rife with symmetry, in fact, as in the past sequences we got to see Ollie learn some meditation techniques to recover lost memories - something that came in very handy with helping Roy realise that he didn't actually kill Sara, but in fact had fabricated the memory based on his Mirakuru fuelled killing of an SCPD Officer at the end of last season. So the big Roy revelation turned out to be quite short lived and has still left us with the question of who actually killed Sara; it could possibly be Cupid, a long time Arrow villain in the comics, who was cleverly placed in the background of a few scenes throughout the episode before showing herself at the end, where she seemingly killed Stanzler. Let's hope we get some more answers in the episodes to come!

Constantine S1E4 - “A Feast of Friends” - Freakin' Awesome 10/10 

This weeks Constantine really stepped up its game, going full blown demonic horror and getting our joint pick for Show of the Week. We've been saying since the start that the tone and style of the show is really, really good, but this episode is to the previous as the Disney fairy tales are to the original Grimm versions; it involves a powerful hunger demon – manifesting as a swarm of cockroach like bugs – that possesses human hosts, devouring their insides before moving on. The man responsible for releasing the demon is Gary Lester, an old acquaintance of Constantines who fled and turned to heroin as a release after the horrors of the Newcastle incident; I should mention that we got some more vaguery about what actually went down in Newcastle, but still nothing ironclad so I imagine this is going to be a thread they keep weaving for a while.

Like wihh any demon, John must first learn it's name if he is to take it down, and to do that he seeks the help of a shaman called Nommo and his drug called the Mist – comic readers will recognise this as a nod to the Doctor Mist character that has appeared in JLA, New 52 and Justice League Dark – that provides a high that will last forever. They learn that the demon can only be stopped by being trapped inside a human host that is marked with specific symbols carved with a powerful shaman knife. The real shining moment for the episode was it's closing sequence, as John and Gary team up to take down the demon and the human sacrifice to be offered up to it is Gary. This reveal comes as a surprise to Gary, but it turns out to be a welcome one: a chance for him to finally make something of his life. The tone throughout this sequence is really hard hitting and it makes you realise that even with the wit and charisma of Matt Ryans Constantine, the show is still full of dark stuff. The most dark of all has to be the closing scene, where Gary is locked away until the demon finally consumes him and is destroyed; John sits with him, holding the hand of his dying friend till the end – it was hard hitting to say the least. Overall, the episode was by far the best we've seen, and really showed off the darker side of things in the world of Constantine.

Show of the Week: Constantine

This has been Deedsy, and this has been Blacksmith, writing for The Awesome Update, over and out.

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