Shows, man. Shows! This is a little late, but what the hell. I’m going to organize this by the order I would watch them every week, and this is going to be a little fast and loose.
Gotham: Big ending with a lot of stuff going on, but what started as a weird-crime show has generally lost my interest. Edward Nygma has committed his first murder and could not resist leaving a clue behind. Penguin has wiped out the bosses and thinks this leaves him in charge. Bruce and Alfred have found the entrance to Thomas Wayne’s secret passage (presumably the batcave). My main problem with all of this is that we’re being asked to watch a story where just about every development is A Think We’ve Been Waiting For.
Structurally, it’s not compelling. The show has good writing, great performances, and amazing design. Yet, I barely care.
The Flash: This is everyone’s New Favorite Show, with the upbeat superhero and a great performance by Tom Cavanaugh as the secret S1 villain. I was pleased that the previous episode did away with the show’s most troubling conceit: an illegal black site private prison for superpowered criminals who didn’t deserve due process, apparently (because it’s an upbeat show, right?) but the finale was full of plot points that thoroughly annoy me.
For example: Our Hero wants to go back in time to save his mother from the Reverse Flash. A future version of himself is already there, fighting Reverse Flash and saving his own life. The Flash wants to go there again to save his mom. The risk? Well, except for the personal risk to himself going at superspeed inside a super-collider, there’s also a chance of a massive singularity that could destroy the world.
You know what? I know you love your mother, but you don’t risk the whole fucking world just for her sake. What if Barry twisted his ankle? What if Reverse Flash–an enemy he can not defeat–knocked his head off? It’s just too much for a “hero” to risk. But god forbid they not do their big time travel sequence.
Other things that annoyed me:
1) With Fake-Wells imprisoned, they had to bring in half of Firestorm to be the Older Male Scientists Who Explains the Rules, because God forbid Caitlin or Cisco get to be the smart ones.
2) Why, exactly, are they so willing to help Reverse Flash return to his time? I’m willing to bet there was a line of dialog about it, but the guy’s a creep and a killer. Let him rot.
3) There’s a genius AI from the future in the building. Why aren’t they asking its help?
4) Come on, Eddie. Shooting yourself? Why not just run out and get a vasectomy?
By the time Eddie’s corpse was being sucked into the Black Hole I knew they would be able to set any kind of reset button they like. God forbid the actors ask for a raise. That means that Tom Cavanaugh can return in S2 as the real Wells, and anyone who’s been killed can be brought back through the singularity. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if season two started with a second origin for The Flash, with Cisco (now established as having the power to “remember” alternate timelines) being the guy who looks after him until he’s ready for the red suit. Again.
Agents of Shield: From the start, the Phil Coulson I wanted from this show was the Coulson from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer, but they’re not giving me that. Fine. Maybe season three will see him sporting a robot hand, Deathlok-style.
Anyway, this season wrapped up the mystery of Skye’s past, and included yet another terrific single-take action sequence from Chloe Bennet. As I mentioned on Twitter, the male lead on Daredevil gets tons of attention for a long action scene without cuts, but Bennet has done several (admittedly shorter) this season and no one is talking about it. In any event, the finale wrapped up a huge, sprawling storyline that included aliens and superpowers, and has once again reset the show to be even more immersed in spies/capes plots. Well done.
Forever: This is a show my wife and son really liked, and which they were sorry to see cancelled. As I was saying (again) on Twitter, the elements of this now-cancelled series would work like gangbusters in a novel: ageless hero who is not a badass killer, historical flashbacks, a basic mystery setup with a Sherlock Holmes ME (who knows everything because he’s lived a long time), and a comfortable charismatic relationship between the ageless, good-hearted doctor and his 80 year old son.
The finale wrapped up a lot of things very nicely: Henry dealt with his nemesis with his doctor skills rather than just kill him, they settled the question of being killed permanently by the first weapon to kill them temporarily (nope), and they stopped treating Lucas like a whipping boy. The only disappointing thing was the way they handled the reveal of Henry’s powers to the detective he works with. She demands answers, and he invites her inside for a chat. Frankly, the show had a habit of being soft on conflicts, which is more realistic, I guess, but then again it’s been cancelled.
Arrow: This would have been a nice end to the series, actually. Oliver and Felicity give it all up, get in a car, and drive away to be together. If they’d wrapped up the last season this way, I would have been happy. As an end to a season, it’s not working for me.
The final episode has the usual Arrow-threat to the entire city, but this time the problem is solved by the team, while Oliver sword fights with Ras al Ghul. My favorite parts of the episode was everything that was done by everyone who was not Arrow. That’s a problem, and it’s not the actor’s problem. He’s doing his damndest. But next season better miraculously come up with a reason to stick around. And bring back the workout scenes, too.
Person of Interest: But wait, you’re thinking, this is a Tuesday night show; why is it listed after Arrow?
Well, my wife doesn’t like it so we watched Forever during this time slot. I streamed this one on Thursday afternoons as a reward for finishing a day’s pages.
As for the finale itself, there were parts I liked very much, especially Finch’s first conversation with the intelligent being he created, which had been seeking his approval year after year. He was so afraid of the thing he built that he deliberately hobbled it, and I’m hoping that next season will see him trust it more.
They also swept away a number of the secondary antagonists, including Control, Dominic, and Elias. Since next season is going to be shortened to only 13 episodes (and will presumably be the last) I’m okay with that. As much as I like Enrico Colantoni, I thought he was miscast as Elias, and they never really knew what to do with Dominic. Control isn’t dead, so she’ll be welcomed back at the end of last season, I’m thinking. I could have done without the Gun Hero stuff at the end, though.
And of course the team is in continual retreat from the Samaritan AI and its government forces. All I’m going to say is, if next season is the last season, there’d better be a happy ending. Seriously. Happy. Ending. I deserve it.
The Blacklist: This show is absurdly hilarious. The two-part finale involves the murder of the senator and a secret conspiracy that frames the lead character for it. But do they arrange for her to be standing near a gunman who shoots the target, then plant evidence in her apartment?
Fuck no. They start off with a genius virologist who creates a biological weapon that’s communicable by touch yet will only kill a single person. Then they bring in a Russian super-assassin to car bomb a CIA installation, and mislead the star into chasing the wrong guy, where she’s mysteriously knocked out. And of course the senator is going to attend the funeral service for those murdered agents, and the supporting characters discover that the virologist tested his bioweapon on a teenage boy who turns out to be the senator’s illegitimate son. Oh no! The super-assassin has disguised himself as media, and the team needs to pull the senator out before they shake hands! And they do! But he gets sick anyway and dies! And it turns out that the person carrying the bioweapon was the show’s star, who was infected while she was knocked out, and testing the weapon on the son was All Part Of The Plan, and now the star is a suspected Russian assassin! The conspiracy framed her! And by the way, the mother she can’t even remember was actually a legendary KGB agent! And and and!
And it’s fucking ridiculous and I love it. The show reminds me of a number of best-selling thrillers where every character is the no exaggerated Best In The World at something, and I’m still amazed that they’re keeping this thing afloat. The season ends with the star of the show confronting the US Attorney General, who has orchestrated the whole thing for his Shadowy Masters (because if I high-level conspiracy is going to use a lackey, it’s going to be the frigging attorney general) and then shooting him in cold-blood, because fuck him. The show is now reset with her as a suspected assassin and confirmed killer, on the run with her former CI.
I can’t wait for the fall.
Season one is on Netflix Streaming. If you have any interest in narrative structure, I recommend watching the pilot episode. It does an amazing job of twisting expectations and building curiosity.