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Once Upon A Time: ‘7:15 AM’

“The only thing that needed protecting is destroyed: my heart”

This episode of Once Upon A Time was all about love; or, more specifically, about how painful love can be. Unsurprisingly, this came in the form of Snow White and Prince Charming’s story in the Fairy Tale Realm and their counterparts Mary Margaret and David’s in Storybrooke. It looks as though this plot, in both time frames, will be a long term one and it will be interesting to see how the show keeps it fresh and keeps us emotionally invested in it over the course of the series. Of course, we already know that Snow and James end up together in the Fairy Tale Realm before the Evil Queen’s curse sets in, so there we are watching more to see how all the events come into place and to understand more of the characters backstory. On the other hand, in Storybrooke we don’t know how it ends and it is exciting to see the twists and turns this story taking, as well as hoping that they will eventually get their happily ever after.

In the Fairy Tale Realm this week we picked up the story just before James’s wedding to King Midas’s daughter. It seems that since their first meeting in Snow Falls Snow and James have been unable to stop thinking about one another, and this is providing a hindrance to both their lives. Snow doesn’t think that they can ever be together and doesn’t want to keep feeling this unrequited love, to the extent that she goes to Rumpelstiltskin to get a potion which would remove all her memories of James. Meanwhile, James’s feelings for Snow are getting in the way of his wedding to Abigail and King George wants him to forget about his feelings for Snow altogether. For a moment towards the middle, as Snow arrives in King George’s kingdom to profess her love for James, we start to think that maybe this episode could have a happy ending, but of course things don’t go to plan.

One key thing which happens in this episode is Snow White finally meets the seven dwarves, and we learn that originally there were eight, including one called Stealthy who dies during the episode. It’s a nice twist on the original fairy tale, and I like how the show isn’t afraid of changing things about the original source material. Of all the dwarves, Grumpy seems to be the one who has the deepest backstory; he fell in love with a woman and was then arrested when he bought a stolen ring for her. I wonder if we will see much more of this story, or the history of the other dwarves, as the series goes on.

After Snow gets captured for the second time by King George’s men, he forces her to break James’s heart and tell him that she doesn’t love him. Their conversation is incredibly painful, and almost depressing, as we see the heartbreak on both their faces. We know that they will end up together, but it is clearly going to be a bumpy road. The heartbreak is so severe that Snow ends up drinking the potion she got from Rumpelstiltskin and forgetting all about James. This revelation is both shocking and sad, as by removing her memories and her pain Snow has lost part of herself. Grumpy articulated it very well earlier in the episode when he tries to convince her not to take the potion:

“I don’t want my pain erased. As wretched as it is, I need my pain. It makes me who I am. It makes me Grumpy.”

While Snow and James are being kept apart in the Fairy Tale Realm, Mary Margaret and David are trying to keep apart in Storybrooke. The title of the episode refers to the time which they both go to Granny’s Diner so that they can see each other, not knowing that that is the same reason the other goes. It comes to a head when Snow goes out in the storm to try and reunite a dove with its flock and David has to save her. The separation of the dove from the flock is an obvious metaphor for what’s going on between Mary Margaret and David, and we as the audience hope that eventually they will be reunited as the dove was.

While in a cabin hiding from the storm, after David saved Mary Margaret, the two have to fight once again with their feelings for one another. They almost kiss, but Mary Margaret pulls away at the last moment as she saw Kathryn with a pregnancy test earlier and doesn’t want to ruin a family. When James later tells her that Kathryn isn’t pregnancy, they can’t control their feeling and end up kissing. It is quite sweet, but is hampered by the fact that what they are doing is wrong. Even if Kathryn isn’t pregnant it doesn’t make James cheating on her any better, especially when he is agreeing to try and fix their marriage. Of course, they were seen together by Regina, so I can’t imagine Mary Margaret and David’s ‘affair’ will be able to get very far.

The Emma plot this week was very much in the background, but it consisted of her investigating the mysterious stranger who arrived last week. To be honest, I was expecting a little more time to be dedicated to his story, but it looks like he will be another overarching mystery in the show. He does seem like an interesting character, although he does feel a little like a replacement for Graham as a character for Emma to have feelings for. The dialogue of this episode, written by Daniel T. Thomsen (although the story was by Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz), is, in my opinion, some of the best so far, including this bit of speech from the stranger:

“I’m going to make you wait. You’re going to have to wait a long time and watch me carry it around, hauling it to strange and mysterious places. And with each passing moment the mystery will become more tantalising. Your imagination will inflame, but so will your frustration. Never knowing, only guessing, what could possibly be inside that box? Or, you could let me buy you a drink sometime and I’ll tell you right now.”

Other thoughts:

  • The image in the title card this week was, as far as I can tell, of Snow walking away. I suppose that should have been the big hint that this episode wasn’t going to have a happy ending.
  • There were lots of references to a storm coming in this episode, which isn’t the most subtle of metaphors but the fact that the storm did actually arrive and have a role in the plot made it a little better.
  • The weatherman’s name was Bill Godwin. Is there any significance to that? The best I could find on the Internet was that there was a William Godwin who was a journalist, political philosopher and novelist and he was also the father of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. I can’t find anything to do with meteorology there, although it did make me wonder if Frankenstein will appear in this show at some point. I also discovered that he wrote a version of Jack and the Beanstalk, which perhaps makes slightly more sense for who he might be, as Jack did of course go up into the sky on the beanstalk and this could explain the meteorological connection.
  • While this show is fairly light-hearted and entertaining, there aren’t usually that many moments which have me really laughing. However, watching Mary Margaret rushing to get to ‘school’ and then trying to explain to Emma how she’s not a stalker was hilarious:

Emma: So you’re a stalker?

Mary: No, not really… Maybe a little bit. I mean, it’s not like I’m following him. I just know that he spends his mornings with Kathryn, gets coffee then drives to the animal shelter to start work at 7:30 and then he’s home around 5.

Emma: Oh, is that all?

Mary: … Thursdays they pick up Chinese for dinner.

  • Mary Margaret was reading The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne in the diner. Aside from the potential LOST reference, I can’t immediately see anything which relates to Once Upon A Time in the summary of the book but it is quite probable that I’m simply missing something.
  • We see Red Riding Hood in the Fairy Tale Realm this week, for the first time since Pilot. Snow says to her “I helped you when no one else would”, so she clearly has a backstory which we may find out at some point.
  • The only appearance of Rumpelstiltskin or Mr Gold this week was when Snow went to see him to get the potion. He seemed even more eccentric than usual in this episode, although he did have some great lines, like “No two loves are exactly alike”, “You really are the fairest of them all, aren’t you?” and “Loves makes us sick, haunts our dreams, destroys our days. Love has killed more than any disease.”
  • What did Rumpel want with Snow’s hair? He seems to be collecting quite the arsenal of seemingly useless things, like names, dolls, hair, and not forgetting the large number of deals he has made.
  • In this conversation Snow never tells Rumpel her name, so how does he know it? Does he have people working for him like the Evil Queen does?
  • Why is Mary Margaret buying a torch and batteries? Is there any significance to this?
  • Kathryn turns out not to be pregnant, but it did get me thinking as to whether anyone could get pregnant in Storybrooke. If nobody apart from Emma, and for some reason the mysterious stanger, can come to Storybrooke can a child be conceived there? Obviously Cinderella was pregnant, but she was pregnant before the curse came into effect.
  • James sends a message using a carrier pigeon, which is nowhere near as attractive as Snow’s bluebirds.
  • Why are there lots of fallen down trees in the clearing which Mary Margaret sees just before she falls? Is it just a by-product of a storm, or is there some deeper significance?
  • The woodland cabin which Mary Margaret and David hide in is the one Snow used to live in, adding credence to the idea that Storybrooke is literally in the same place as the Fairy Tale Realm was.
  • We don’t actually find out much about the mysterious stranger this week, although we do discover that he’s a writer and the box he carries around contains a typewriter. Last week I speculated that he might be the narrator, and this revelation makes it a little more likely, but I’m not convinced.
  • We find out at the end of the episode that James left Abigail, presumably so that he could be with Snow.  I doubt King George will be too happy about that, and it will be interesting to see what he does next.

This episode ended with Snow forgetting about James in the Fairy Tale Realm, and Mary Margaret and David kissing in Storybrooke while Regina looked on. I look forward to seeing where both of these plots go in the future, although part of me hopes that we don’t spend too much time on it. I like these plots, but I also like the other things going on in Storybrooke and in the Fairy Tale Realm and I hope that they get as much time dedicated to them as they deserve. I have no reason to think that they won’t, but it’s just a slight worry I have seeing how much focus on Snow and Mary Margaret’s plot there was here. Still, I’m sure I’m worrying about nothing; the show hasn’t let me down yet.

I can’t wait for next week’s episode.

TV of the Week: 02/06/2012

Alcatraz

Season 1, Episode 12

‘Garrett Stillman’

Now that Lucy has woken up and re-joined the team, Alcatraz has finally started to make some progress towards the overall mystery and the main characters’ understanding of it. Unfortunately, with only one episode to go, it is too little too late and, while a step in the right direction, this episode doesn’t do nearly enough to turn this show around. To be perfectly honest, Lucy should have woken up weeks ago; due to whom her character is she is able to answer questions about what’s going on and also provide a much-needed humanising element to Emerson. I don’t think that would have been enough to save the show, but it might at least have made it a fond memory in fans’ hearts rather than fading completely into obscurity.

The inmate of the week plot was, as is fairly usual of the series it seems, nothing especially interesting. The flashbacks didn’t contribute anything to the present day plot and only served to set up more mysteries about the warden’s plan. The actual present day plot was all about the inmate stealing something from an armoured car and, while not being one of the worst so far, should have been more interesting than it was for the penultimate episode.

Overall, this was made a good episode mostly by Lucy’s return. It seems like all the main characters are almost on the same page now and we started to get some more information about what’s going on, but the show is still missing something. Next week is the final episode and I’d be very surprised if all the questions are dealt with, but hopefully it will at least deal with the Tommy Madsen plot. One of the biggest problems with this show is how the majority of the characters aren’t especially interesting and that the audience doesn’t particularly care about them, and because of this the whole Tommy Madsen plot doesn’t especially grip me. Still, I hope it is resolved and that the finale is able to make up, to some level, for the disappointment that this show overall has been.

Hawaii Five-0

Season 2, Episode 22

‘Ua Hopa’

This week’s episode of Hawaii Five-0, the penultimate one this season, featured the return of both Steve and Wo Fat. It was a good episode, although some aspects of it did slightly annoy me, and I wonder where the finale can go from here. Clearly this isn’t going to be the end of Wo Fat, but I don’t know whether he will return next episode after only just being put behind bars. But seeing as the Wo Fat/Shelburne plot is really the only overarching plot, I’m not sure what the finale can do.

Back in this week’s episode, we discovered that the new man in Kono’s life is Adam Noshimuri, the son of the head of the Yakuza in Hawaii. I’m in two minds about how this plot was done. On the one hand I’m glad that it hasn’t been going on for very long, because the plot of a main character keeping a big secret from the rest of the characters is one which often annoys me and I could easily have seen the show doing that. However, because we only discovered it in this episode and there weren’t exactly many hints beforehand it meant that I didn’t really care about the emotional plot going on here with Kono. It seemed to come from nowhere and so I wasn’t emotionally invested in it.

Another thing which bothered me about this episode was the ‘format’, by which I mean that the main characters didn’t really interact for the majority of it. This style of episode can be very good, as the Buffy episode Conversations with Dead People showed, but in this show it just bothered me. All the characters were working on the same case, with the same initial information, and all discovered the same new information at different times. It was very frustrating, for example, to see Chin talking about the Yakuza being in league with Wo Fat when we already knew from Danny’s plot that the murder harmed Wo Fat rather than helping him, so I spent a good part of the episode waiting for all the characters to get up to speed rather than actually enjoying it.

Despite a few annoyances, this was a good episode. It was nice to have the Wo Fat plotline back at the centre of the episode, as it has been fairly absent over the last few weeks. I wasn’t a big fan of the Danny plot in this episode, as I find it hard to believe the CIA would kidnap him for no real reason other than to scare him into closing the case, but other than that the episode was exciting and a very good penultimate episode. I’m not sure where the show will go next week, but I look forward to finding out.

NCIS: Los Angeles

Season 3, Episode 22

‘Neighbourhood Watch’

In this week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles Kensi and Deeks went undercover as a married couple. It was kind of similar to the Season 3 NCIS episode Under Covers, and was equally good. Much like Tony and Ziva, Kensi and Deeks often act like a married couple in their role as partners, so they played a married couple here very well. Still, for us as the audience it is hard to see Kensi and Deeks together as we’re so used them acting as partners, so I’m quite glad that the show didn’t really try to trick us into thinking they were an actual couple here.

Speaking of potential couples, we had a little movement on the Eric and Nell front this week as Eric (and the whole team) saw Nell’s internet dating profile. There doesn’t seem to have been progress in Nell’s feelings towards Eric since what happened with Nate, so we still aren’t clear exactly how she does think of Eric, but it was fairly obvious from this week’s episode that he does feel something for her. It was fairly awkward when he gave her a book on football trivia only to find out that she lied on her profile page, but I do still hope that they end up a couple. We didn’t actually see any more of this plot after that, but I hope we see more in the next season of their possible relationship.

The case itself was fairly interesting, although I guessed early on who the bad guys actually were so it wasn’t really a surprise. Of course, it turned out that the majority of the people on that street were actually Russian spies and the most normal people actually turned out to be the swingers. Speaking of the swingers, I also guessed quite early into Kensi and Deeks dinner date with them that it would be something like that, but it was still amusing to watch it actually transpire. Also amusing was Kensi’s attempt to prove to Deeks that she can be wild and sexy, and I wonder whether Deeks will ever get to hear the rest of that story.

Overall, this was a very good episode of this show. It had some great humour and character development as always, and I look forward to seeing where this show goes for its season finale.

NCIS

Season 8, Episode 16

‘Kill Screen’

This week’s episode of NCIS was another focused very much on the procedural elements of the show, although there were still some character moments there. The case itself was decent as the team investigated a marine who was killed after his girlfriend accidentally discovered some secret information during a video game. We then discovered that a programmer was using the game to sell tools to help criminals hack into the Pentagon, which was very unbelievable but still enjoyable to watch. The conclusion of who killed the marine was slightly anticlimactic, although we did get an exciting final ‘chase’ as the team had to stop the programme wiping the entire Pentagon mainframe.

The character who this episode really focused on was McGee. It felt a bit repetitive after last week’s episode, as we had yet another attractive young woman falling for him, but at least this time he did get a date. Having said that, I doubt she will appear again; she will probably be another one of those single episode characters who is never mentioned again after organising a date at the end of their episode. The woman in question was played by the fantastic Beth Riesgraf (Parker on Leverage), but I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of her. She basically was there purely as a love interest for McGee, which was slightly frustrating as I would have liked to see her have more to do with the case. Still, she seemed like an interesting character and I wouldn’t complain if we got to see her again.

Other than McGee’s plotline and the case itself, there wasn’t really much happening in this episode. A man from the Pentagon came to investigate hacking from NCIS which would have been a more interesting plot if it had amounted to anything but, because the man turned out to be the killer, it didn’t. It is a bit strange that McGee is never punished for all the hacking he does, but it does make things run a lot smoother in the investigations so I’m not really complaining. Hopefully next week will be a slightly more original episode, but I did enjoy this episode and seeing McGee possibly finally get a love interest.

The Mentalist

Season 4, Episode 24

‘Crimson Hat’

This week’s episode was the season finale of the fourth season of The Mentalist, and personally I was a touch disappointed. Don’t get me wrong it was a great episode, but after last season’s phenomenal finale it felt a little lacklustre. Whereas last season ended with Jane apparently shooting Red John, this one ended with simply another of Red John’s disciples being captured which feels like old ground. Hopefully we will get some decent information from her next season and she won’t just get killed before she can say anything like the last few have.

My other problem with this episode was that so much of it was a con. I know that’s a strange criticism for a show which is all about a conman, but because of this I didn’t necessarily care about what was going on. I didn’t really care about Jane sinking to rock bottom because it was all a trick, which was fairly guessable even before he gave that smile in the hotel room. I didn’t really care about the events at the CBI building as they were obviously also a trick. And I’m honestly not that sure that I really felt any of Jane’s emotions in this episode as I just didn’t trust they were real.

Still, there were some great things about this episode. It was interesting to see a little more of Red John’s operation and some more of his disciples. It’s also interesting to see how he wants to be friends with Jane, and how he seems to respect him. It’s twisted, but still believable. When Lorelei said Red John views them more as old comrades than enemies I could almost see it; they both act in such a way that, even though the stakes are so high, it does at times feel more like a game between old rivals than an actual adversarial battle.

I didn’t really see the point of the case at the beginning of the episode; it seemed like it was there basically to get a body without a face that they could pretend was Rigsby later. This episode also seemed to feature the death of Wainwright, but considering he had tape over his mouth to presumably stop him talking he might be alive. I would probably care more if he had actually done much during this season, but after his first episode he seemed to barely appear. We also learnt that Red John has a mole in the FBI, which may be Agent Darcy or simply something he said to further the idea that he’s everywhere; I can’t decide. Overall, while it had some disappointments, this was a good episode of this show and I do look forward to seeing where it goes next season.

Bones

Season 7, Episode 12

‘The Suit on the Set’

This was a very meta episode of Bones this week, as the team investigated a murder on the set of the film adaptation of Brennan’s book. I get the feeling that there were lots of in-jokes in this episode for the production crew of Bones: the on-going doughnut joke didn’t make much sense to us as fans but I suspect it means more to the people who actually work on the show. Not to mention the fact that the murder victim was called Hanson Stephens, and I understand the two main executive producers for Bones are Hart Hanson and Stephen Nathan.

There weren’t any real character plots this week, which was slightly unusual. There was the slight plot of Booth being offered a job at the production company, but I didn’t expect for a moment he would take it. Even if he wanted to, I can’t imagine that Brennan would be happy giving up work at the Jeffersonian to live there. There was also the small plot of Cam starring in a very bad film from many years ago called Invasion of the Mothersuckers, which was hilarious if not incredibly deep.

That’s basically what this episode was all about. There wasn’t a great deal of plot or character development going on here, but it was so funny that it really didn’t matter. The suspects were all such caricatures of the different roles within the production of a film or, presumably, a TV series, and I imagine the production team had great fun with this episode.

Overall, while not the most serious episode of this show it was nonetheless extremely fun. Next week is the season finale which I doubt will be very similar, and I imagine that we will be very grateful to have had this entertaining episode before whatever comes next week. Bones often does season finales very well and, although it is a shame that this season is so short, I am looking forward to seeing what the show can do next week.

Leverage

Season 4, Episode 1

‘The Long Way Down Job’

I must admit that at the beginning of this episode I was a little worried. For a season premiere it felt very average and much like any other case the team have worked. Fortunately, it got significantly better and turned into one of the more emotional offerings that Leverage has given to us. It was still fairly stand-alone, but what made it a great episode, as always, were the characters.

In the last couple of episodes last season the show started to look a little at Eliot’s past, and the bad things which he did before Nate’s team came together. This episode started to look at Parker in a similar way. While Parker doesn’t have the same past as Eliot does, she isn’t a ‘normal’ person and we saw in this episode the effect that knowledge has on her. She isn’t a bad person (apart from being a thief), but she isn’t generally as morally developed as the other characters and, certainly before joining Nate’s team, she doesn’t have the same clarity between right and wrong. However, since she has joined the ‘good guys’ she has clearly seen the way that Nate and Sophie and Hardison behave, and she wants to be more like them. The scene in the cave where she insists that they bring Alan’s body back to his wife because it’s the right thing to do and it’s what the others would do is very powerful and contains some great acting from Beth Riesgraf. However, Eliot was right when he said that, while that is what the others would have done, it would also have led to their deaths and that because he and Parker, for different reasons, do things that the others wouldn’t that it was a good thing that it was them trapped in the cave.

The con itself was fairly complicated, at least for someone like me who doesn’t have a great understanding of the stock market, but was still quite enjoyable. The Leverage team didn’t actually have to do much other than retrieve the recording, but it was nice to see how it was the victim who managed to stop his killer. He also got to say a final goodbye to his wife, in another emotional scene.

This turned out to be a great start to Season 4. The Nate and Sophie thing is being ‘forgotten’, but it will still be interesting to see how it will affect the team’s dynamics in the rest of the season. Parker and Hardison appear to be in a proper, if abnormal, relationship now, which I am pleased about, although I imagine that they will be one of those couples who have more of an off-screen than on-screen relationship, like Danny and Lindsey on CSI: NY. At the end of the episode we discovered that somebody has been listening in on the team, which looks like it will make up the seasonal arc. Fortunately, this is the kind of plot which shouldn’t necessarily take the forefront of the season, unlike the Moreau arc which perhaps should have, so the show will be able to do some stand-alone episodes without it feeling as though they’re ignoring the overarching plot. I think that this season might be very good, and I am eagerly anticipating next week’s episode.

Grimm

Season 1, Episode 16

‘The Thing with Feathers’

This week’s episode of Grimm dealt with a plot point that had been left hanging since the very first episode: Nick’s planned proposal to Juliette. He finally got around to popping the question this week, and to do so they took some time off work and went on holiday. Naturally, it wasn’t as simple as that and they encountered a creature which Nick had to deal with.

The creature plot wasn’t especially interesting. It was largely a metaphor for domestic abuse, which is obviously a very important topic, and it had some incredibly disgusting scenes; for example the scene where Tim (Josh Randall who played Nathan in The Other 48 Days on LOST) forced a tube down Robin’s (Azura Skye who played Cassie in Help and Conversations with Dead People on Buffy) throat to force her to ingest a rather disgusting liquid. Fortunately, Nick saved the day as was expected. It wasn’t a bad plot; just not as good as some of the previous weeks’.

Back in Portland, Hank and Monroe were having some more character driven plots. Hank has now well and truly fallen for Adalind through her love potion, to the point where he is practically stalking her. If it were any other character this would really bother me, as I don’t like characters acting out-of-character even if there is a reason for it, but because Hank isn’t that interesting anyway it didn’t especially frustrate me. Meanwhile, Monroe was spending some more time with Rosalee who is clearly going to be a recurring character. He didn’t have a specific plot this week but it was nice to see him and Rosalee working together to help Nick out over the phone, and I hope we see more of this in future episodes.

The main character plot for this week was all about Nick and Juliette, however. At the end of the episode Nick finally proposed, but unfortunately Juliette said no. She isn’t stupid and she knows that Nick has been keeping something from her, which of course he has. I was hoping that in this episode Juliette would find out Nick’s secret, but it wasn’t to be. Still, now that Juliette has basically told him that she won’t marry him until he’s honest with her I suspect that she may find out soon.

This was a decent episode of Grimm overall. The character plots were very good but the creature plot wasn’t anything special. It will be very interesting to see where our characters go in the coming weeks after what happened here, and I look forward to finding out.

A Town Called Eureka

Season 5, Episode 3

‘Force Quit’

The Astreus crew were finally brought back to the real world this week, with the unexpected help of Beverly Barlowe. As this is the last season of A Town Called Eureka I think we’ll see her again this season, but I’m still not entirely sure what to make of her. She seems to have altruistic goals but goes about them in the wrong way; this week she came to help save the Astreus crew but then she disappeared before anything could happen to her. As I said, I expect we’ll see her again and I’m interested to see what her endgame is.

After Holly’s shocking death last week we got a little mourning for her, although not as much as I would have liked. Fargo seems to be affected by it, but the rest of the characters don’t seem especially bothered. In a show like this it isn’t impossible that we’ll see her again before the series is out, but a part of me doubts it. I do hope that there is some reference to her in the finale at least, as she has been one of my favourite Eureka characters.

The plot this week was interesting as Jack went into the virtual Eureka in order to save the crew. I’m glad this plot wasn’t drawn out for too long as it would have become fairly annoying quite quickly I think. There was some great action and humour in this episode; although personally I was a little disappointed that real-Carter replaced NPC-Carter as I was hoping that he would have to fight himself. I was also hoping for a little more of a Jo and Allison fight, but what we got was decent.

Overall, this was a very good episode of this show. Now that everybody (apart from Holly) is back in the real Eureka I imagine that normal service will be resumed, for a while at least. A Town Called Eureka is great at stand-alone episodes as well as overarching plots, and I’m looking forward to things getting back to normal after this plot. This is the final season so I hope things don’t settle down for too long, and I hope that this show gets to go out with a bang.

Once Upon A Time: ‘True North’

“A family always needs to be able to find one another”

This week’s episode continued with the theme of parents and children being separated, as we looked at the story of Hansel and Gretel. I have a fondness for the story of Hansel and Gretel as it was the play my school did a few years ago, where I was the narrator. Speaking of which, is there a narrator in the Once Upon A Time universe? Perhaps that’s who the mysterious guy at the end was? This is just wild speculation as we don’t actually know anything about him yet, but seeing as Emma was supposed to be the only person who could come to Storybrooke it will be interesting to see what role he does play.

This episode actually reminded me a bit of The Price of Gold, the fourth episode of this show, and I have noticed a slight problem with the format of this show. Well, not a problem per se but something that perhaps stops episodes like this from being as good as some others. Because Emma doesn’t have a Fairy Tale Realm counterpart it means that in episodes concentrating on her we can’t have flashbacks to her former life, so instead we have to see someone else’s story which relates to hers in some way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it is interesting to see the other fairy tale characters’ stories and their roles in Storybrooke, but it does mean that we perhaps don’t connect to the stories like we do with the stories for characters we already know.

The story in the Fairy Tale Realm this week was all about Hansel and Gretel, and how the Evil Queen manipulated them into stealing something for her from the Blind Witch. As I said, because we don’t know Hansel and Gretel already in this show it didn’t have same impact as other flashbacks have, but it was still very enjoyable. The Evil Queen in particular was particularly fun to watch in this episode, and I love the dialogue she is given. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but I just feel she’s scripted so well.

In Storybrooke, meanwhile, Emma was helping two children, Ava and Nicolas, who were about to be separated and put into the foster system. This, of course, brought back memories for Emma who grew up in the foster system after being ‘abandoned’ by Snow and James, and she was determined not to let the same thing happen to the two children here. As I said earlier, it is relatively similar to The Price of Gold where Emma tried to stop somebody in a similar position to one that she had been in from suffering like she did, and once again this story had a happy ending. Still, it does show how Emma is making a difference in Storybrooke and giving people their ‘happily-ever-afters’. Also, it shows how families can be reunited, perhaps giving hope to all the other separated families on this show.

Other thoughts:

  • There was no ‘Previously On…’ or reminding us of the story this week, which already implied that it was going to be a fairly stand-alone story.
  • This week’s title card contained the Gingerbread House. I’m sure I’ve said this before but the scenery in this show is fantastic, and the Gingerbread House was no exception.
  • Henry was looking at comics in the shop in Storybrooke, in particular Wolverine vs. Hulk. It did get me thinking: how do comics get delivered to Storybrooke if nobody can come or go? But I imagine it’s just one of those things you have to accept, like how nobody’s body hair grew significantly during LOST despite them being on an island.
  • The children’s names, Ava and Nicolas Zimmer, are, I believe, of German origin which makes sense as Hansel and Gretel was a Grimm brothers’ fairy tale.
  • The owner of the shop kept sneezing; he must be the dwarf Sneezy.
  • I think they’ve appeared before on this show, but this was the first time I’ve actually noticed the return of the Apollo Bars from LOST.
  • It’s interesting how, in this show, Gretel is clearly the stronger, braver, more intelligent of the children. I’m not sure what it was like in the original fairy tale, but it does fit with the more ‘feminist’ themes in this show.
  • Have we seen Emma ‘superpower’ since the Pilot? It’s the same as the one Jinks had on Warehouse 13, which also disappeared after the first few episodes.
  • Ava and Nicolas’s house seemed to have two different sides: it appeared like a nice place from the front but not from the back, similar to Storybrooke and the Fairy Tale Realm perhaps.
  • The man at the records office was Mr Krzyszkowski, or Mr K. Any significance?
  • Was Regina hoping to hurt the children by sending them out of Storybrooke, as nobody is able to leave without bad things happening to them?
  • Is there any significance to who Henry’s father is? I suspected that Emma was lying as soon as she said that he was a hero, as she doesn’t seem to have anything good in her life so far.
  • ANYA!!! Well technically Emma Caulfield, who was of course Anya on Buffy, and here is the Blind Witch.
  • “Just a name. But I generally find that is all one needs.” What is the deal with Rumpelstiltskin/Mr Gold and names? Also, why did he lead Emma on with the blank sheet of paper?
  • “Gravy or butter?”
  • If the Evil Queen can do magic through mirrors, why did she need Hansel and Gretel to steal the bag?
  • In the bag was an apple, presumably the poisoned apple which she would later use on Snow White to try and kill her.
  • “Now she’s cavorting with dwarves? When did that happen?” I love Lana Parrilla’s delivery of that line.
  • “I think I need to let go.” Sounds like something out of LOST.
  • When Mary Margaret sniffed Emma’s blanket she seemed to recognise it. Do the Storybrooke characters still have some kind of ‘sense memory’ of their former lives?
  • Neither David or Archie appeared in this week’s episode. Of all the main characters, they seem to appear the least. Also, as far as I can tell, this is the first episode without Ruby in it.
  • Who is that new guy?

That’s all from me for this week. While this episode may not have been quite as good as some previous weeks, it was still very enjoyable. I look forward to seeing next week’s episode 7:15 A.M. on at 7:30 pm. Five really missed a trick in not putting it on 15 minutes earlier, so at least the 7:30 would have been the same. Still, I can’t wait.

TV of the Week: 26/05/2012

Alcatraz

Season 1, Episode 11

‘Webb Porter’

Well, finally. This week’s episode of Alcatraz finally started to make some progress on the several plotlines it’s got going on. Unsurprisingly we still didn’t get any answers but now that Lucy’s awake, and everybody knows about her, hopefully some may be forthcoming. I was watching this entire episode expecting everything to fall through and for Lucy to not be healed, just like what happened a couple of weeks ago, so I was pleased when she did actually wake up.

The case itself wasn’t especially interesting. With this 63 more than any of the others the crimes seemed contrived, and didn’t really seem to have anything to do with the flashbacks or what happened to him on Alcatraz, especially considering how he was improving thanks to Lucy’s therapy. Speaking of the flashbacks, while it was interesting to see the effect that music had on his life we didn’t really learn anything from them. Personally, I would have liked to see more of the flashbacks with Lucy and Emerson as at least they helped contribute to some of the current main characters rather than just a random inmate.

I don’t actually have much to say about this week. As usual, there wasn’t really a particularly significant character plot during this episode and in many ways it felt like it was just filling an episode before Lucy woke up. Still, now that Lucy is awake we may finally get some answers instead of more questions.

Hawaii Five-0/NCIS: Los Angeles

Season 2, Episode 21/Season 3, Episode 21

‘Pa Make Loa’/’Touch of Death’

This week’s episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and NCIS: Los Angeles formed a two-part crossover episode, as we saw Sam and Callen come to Hawaii for the first hour and then Danny and Chin come to LA for the second. Presumably it was supposed to have been Steve and Danny which would have made a lot more sense seeing as Steve had met a couple of the NCIS: LA crew before, but it was still enjoyable.

I always like crossover episodes which either make a big deal out of it or do it very subtly, and this was a good episode of the former. Kensi’s appearance in an earlier episode of Hawaii Five-0 was disappointing, as it didn’t play a big role in the plot but wasn’t particularly subtle either (by subtle I mean that there are hints of crossovers but only big fans would notice, like Anne Steele’s reappearance in ‘Blood Money’ in Angel), and this was a great improvement. One thing which did strike me during this, however, was how much more I like NCIS: LA than Hawaii Five-0. During the whole of the Hawaii Five-0 episode it felt wrong having Sam and Callen there without having Kensi or Deeks or Eric or Nell or Hetty there as well, whereas in the NCIS: LA episode I didn’t miss Kono or Max so much.

The plot itself was very interesting. Biochemical weapons plots generally make good episodes, as the threats are extremely significant but not overused within these kinds of shows, and this was no different. I’m not sure that I followed every detail of the case; I’m still not entirely clear on who killed the men in Hawaii, what the Comescu man had to do with anything, or why the ‘bad guys’ wanted to speed up the effects of smallpox when a longer incubation period would surely allow the disease to spread further, but it didn’t really matter as it was still exciting to watch and enjoyable to see the two teams working together. In terms of the Comescu plot, it felt a little forced as it seemed like the writers couldn’t think of a better way to bring Sam and Callen to Hawaii, but fortunately it was dealt with entirely in Hawaii Five-0 so the NCIS: LA episode could focus more on the case at hand.

As I said, it was great in this episode to see the two teams interacting. Danny and Deeks’s conversations were good fun, as was seeing how Danny was scared of Hetty, although it’s a shame that we didn’t get to see more of this with the rest of the Hawaii Five-0 team. It did feel in some ways like the entire Hawaii Five-0 episode was just setting things up for the NCIS: LA episode; which isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it but it did emphasise the differences between the two shows.

Due to the nature of these two episodes we didn’t really get any significant character arcs this week, although in many ways it didn’t matter. The plot was good, although better in the second hour, as was the interactions between the two different shows. I hope we get more crossover episodes in the future, perhaps with different characters, but one day I also hope that with some show we get a ‘full’ crossover, i.e. where all the characters from one show appear in the other and vice versa, so that neither of the shows takes precedence over the other. I appreciate that there are difficulties with that premise, but I think it would be fun and I hope we see something like that in the future.

NCIS

Season 8, Episode 15

‘Defiance’

While last week focused heavily on the main characters and their lives, particularly after Cate’s death, this week returned to having a heavier focus on the case-of-the-week. That’s not necessarily a criticism, as this episode did still have large amounts of character plots and development, but personally I didn’t find it quite as interesting as last week.

The plot itself was decent, as the team had to protect the daughter of a Belgravian politician. I predicted fairly early on in the episode that the daughter would be in some way connected with what was going on in the episode as that always happens in these kinds of shows, but it was still enjoyable watching it all unfold. I did slightly hope that the daughter would end up actually interested in McGee, as last episode highlighted how none of the main characters have lives outside of work, but it wasn’t to be. I do hope that the ‘lessons’ from the last episode will have some effect on future episodes, and they do seem to be as there was talk this week of the characters’ futures and what would eventually happen to Gibbs’ team.

One thing about this episode which was interesting was Vance threatening to fire Tony and McGee if the case wasn’t resolved quickly. Neither of the pair seemed, to me at least, to make any significant mistakes will protecting the daughter, which does make you wonder why Vance overacted so much. It does look as though Vance is heading down a dark road after what happened a few weeks ago, and the ending showed how there are clearly still tensions between Vance and Gibbs. It will be interesting to see where this plot goes.

Overall, this week we had a fairly typical good episode of NCIS. There was some humour in the show, as always, and although the plot of Tony having a fear of needles didn’t play a big role in the episode it was fairly entertaining. The plot of the episode was good, as was the rest of it, but this episode won’t go down, for me, as one of the best episodes of this show so far, certainly after last week’s fantastic episode. It wasn’t bad, just not as good as the show can be.

The Mentalist

Season 4, Episode 23

‘Red Rover, Red Rover’

This was the penultimate episode of this season’s The Mentalist and it certainly felt like it. It was an emotional episode as it was the eight year anniversary of the death of Jane’s wife and daughter, and the scene in the cemetery at the beginning was very sad. At least, it was until it turned creepy as Red John sent a little girl to Jane to tell him to give up. I found it quite touching, and reassuring, that Jane hypnotised the girl into forgetting about her encounter with Red John in the hope that he wouldn’t kill her, and it showed that Jane isn’t beyond caring about anything yet.

Unfortunately, after what happened at the cemetery, Jane decided that it was time to give up on his hunt for Red John and burnt all his case files. I can’t imagine that it will be this simple, but it will be interesting to see where the plot goes. Due to this decision, this week we saw Jane operating without limits and he was willing to do anything to get a confession out of the killer. As soon as Jane and the killer arrived at the cemetery I feared where it might go, and I was right. It was extremely disturbing to see Jane so unbothered by what he was doing, and he definitely took it too far.

The episode ended with Jane being fired. I have to think that this is all some long con, as Jane is intelligent enough to know that what he was doing would get him fired which makes me think it was all planned. Having said that, I have no idea where this plot is going and I can’t wait until next week to find out.

We didn’t see so much of the other characters this week, but that wasn’t really surprising considering how close we are to the end of the season, and Jane’s plotline was interesting enough that it didn’t matter. For the same reason, I didn’t mind that the case itself wasn’t anything special, because it was what Jane did with it that was great. I don’t know exactly what Jane is playing at, although I suspect it is all a plan of his, and I look forward to seeing what the finale has in store.

Bones

Season 7, Episode 11

‘The Family in the Feud’

We had another solid episode of Bones this week. It did strike me during this episode that we don’t really have any ‘serious’ plots going on at the moment. That’s not necessarily a criticism as the more day-to-day character plots that we are getting at the moment are enjoyable and it is nice to see Brennan and Booth happy together, but I wouldn’t say no to a more serious life-or-death plot in the final couple of episodes this season.

The case this week was all about two families who had been fighting for over a century, and one of the family members had been found dead. It wasn’t anything special, but it was alright. It had vaguely Romeo and Juliet overtones; in fact the children of the families had fallen in love and were going to eventually get married, although unlike the Capulets and the Montagues these families fought using lawsuits. The murderer wasn’t a huge surprise, although her motive was a bit thin: she killed her own father because he wanted to stop the feud which would have stopped her, as a lawyer, from making money from the lawsuits.

The Brennan and Booth plot this week was all about Brennan’s trust issues with her father. I don’t have much to say about it really, although it was nice to see Max back. It’s understandable why Brennan was reluctant to trust him with Christine, as he did abandon her at a young age, but it was quite heart-warming to see them make up at the end.

There weren’t really any significant smaller character plots this week. Daisy managed to solve the reason for the feud between the families, and Hodgins was obsessed with truffles, but there wasn’t anything as big as in previous weeks. Still, it was an enjoyable episode and the characters were on top form as always. I just hope we get a slightly more important plot before the season is out.

Leverage

Season 3, Episode 16

‘The San Lorenzo Job’

This week, in the season finale of Leverage Season 3, we followed the team to the fictional country of San Lorenzo where Damien Moreau was hiding. It was a very enjoyable episode and it was a nice twist that the mark knew from the beginning who they were. In fact, the team wasn’t really conning Moreau in this episode per se, they were more conning the people of San Lorenzo; conning them into electing a leader who wasn’t bought and paid for by an international arms dealer, but still conning them.

It was a very interesting con, and in some ways highlighted the power of the internet in taking down corrupt officials. I’m actually quite surprised that this season was shown prior to the Arab Spring, because the way that the team used emails and social networking in order to take down the president of San Lorenzo is, from what I know, similar in some ways to how the revolutionaries organised the rebellions against the governments during the Arab Spring. While Moreau and the president owned all the TV and radio stations in the country they couldn’t stop the team from spreading news and hype through the internet.

It was also enjoyable to see the Leverage team essentially create a political leader. Without their intervention there’s no way that Vittori would have been able to lead the people of San Lorenzo, but by the end we can see that, with the help of General Flores, he will be a great leader for their country. Speaking of General Flores, it was also nice to see, after last week’s episode, that Eliot has done some good things in the past and that there are many people who owe him their lives.

The team eventually managed to take down Moreau by turning the president against him in order to save his own skin, and while it wasn’t quite the comeuppance that Moreau might have had in other shows it was still satisfying to know that he will spend the rest of his life in a San Lorenzo prison. The season ended with Nate and Sophie waking up in bed together and, while I am not personally a big fan of them as a couple, it will be interesting to see how that affects the group dynamics. Fortunately, Leverage Season 4 is following straight on from Season 3 in the UK so we’ll be able to see what happens next very soon.

Grimm

Season 1, Episode 15

‘Island of Dreams’

This week’s episode of Grimm followed two main plots this week. The first was a fairly regular case, with a couple of drug addicts breaking into a store to steal some more drugs, while the second was all about how Hank is being drugged to, presumably, fall in love with Adalind. Both plots were interesting and, while I don’t think either were the best the show’s done so far, I enjoyed both aspects of this week’s episode.

The first thing I want to say is that Nick and Juliette’s relationship seems to have improved since the end of last week’s episode, when I assumed they were about to break it off. There still seem to be some problems there but they weren’t as present as they were last week. We did get to see a fair amount of Juliette this week as she learnt to shoot and she had visits from the Vessen plumber from a few weeks ago. It was entertaining to see the plumber giving Nick and Juliette presents and pie, but I hope that this plot goes somewhere, i.e. that Juliette does find out about Nick soon.

The case this week, about the drug addicts, was decent, but what was particularly good was the introduction of Rosalee. From the ending of the episode it seems as though she will appear again in the future, and I hope she does. It was nice to have another character for Monroe to spend time with, especially a Vessen, and one of my complaints with the show is that there aren’t enough female characters so Rosalee might be able to do something about that. She clearly has skills and knowledge that Monroe doesn’t, such as about the drugs and what was happening to Sergeant Wu, and she could well be useful to Nick in future weeks.

I’m not that big a fan of what’s going on with Hank, but it will be interesting to see where the plot goes. I generally don’t like plots of characters not acting like themselves, in this case due to a love potion, and I hope this plot is resolved quickly. Other than that, this was a great episode and I look forward to next week’s episode and hopefully seeing Rosalee again.

A Town Called Eureka

Season 5, Episode 2

‘The Real Thing’

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Holly’s dead! I’m quite upset by that as she was a great character and also I think she deserved a better ending than she was given. Assuming we don’t see her again (which is never certain in shows like this) I personally think that her death should have been more emotional and powerful, like Stark’s was back in Season 3. It is always dangerous when writers start using their characters purely as plot points, and I hope that Eureka doesn’t go too far down that road. It is currently by no means unsalvageable, but I will be disappointed if this is the most emotion we ever get in relation to Holly’s death.

Despite that, I did like this episode. Now that we know what’s going on with the Astreus survivors it is interesting to watch them in the virtual Eureka as they start to notice things are strange. The dragon plot was clearly unbelievable, but that was the point and I hope it isn’t too long before everybody else realises what’s going on. As long as they don’t end up like Holly. Sob.

We also got to see this week what’s happening in the real Eureka as everybody has to deal with the loss of the Astreus crew. I’m glad that by the end of this episode that everybody knows they are still alive and that Senator Wen is responsible for their disappearance, and hopefully they will all be reunited soon.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this episode. I enjoyed it a lot and, while I was disappointed by Holly’s death, I hope that next episode deals with this well and gives us the emotion that was perhaps missing at the end of this episode. I look forward to seeing where the show will go next in its final season, and I hope it keeps up with the standard of previous seasons.

Once Upon A Time: ‘Desperate Souls’

“That’s the thing about children. Before you know it, you lose them.”

While it didn’t have the emotional punch of last week’s episode, this was still a great episode of Once Upon A Time as we delved into Rumplestiltskin’s backstory. It turns out Rumple wasn’t always the creature we’ve seen in previous flashbacks, which I believe means this flashback predates any we’ve seen so far. It also gave us the first opportunity in this show to see Robert Carlyle play a less creepy and mysterious character, and he did it very well. I always admire actors who can play several parts in the same show equally well, and Carlyle demonstrated here that he could do that very well.

The flashback itself showed us how Rumple lived in a land plagued by a war with the Ogres, and that all children at age 14 were forced to go to war. It does raise the question of why the adults living in the village didn’t have to do the same, as surely they would make better soldiers, but it doesn’t really matter. We see how Rumple’s son, Baelfire, was about to turn 14 and so Rumple tried to find a way to protect him. Initially he tries running, but then he finds a way to get the power to protect his son. There is lots of talk in this episode of power and not being a coward, and we also see how power corrupts and turned Rumple into a much darker man. It also shows why Rumple wanted a position of power in Storybrooke, as he didn’t have any in his original human life.

Meanwhile, the Storybrooke plot for this episode showed the effect that Graham’s death has had, particularly in how the town is now without a sheriff. It was nice to see some of the emotional impact that Graham’s death has had as well, especially on Henry who realised in this episode that good will always beat evil because evil plays dirty. This was a big reason in why Emma decided to fight Regina in becoming sheriff, so that she could prove to Henry that sometimes heroes do win, which she succeeds in doing. Of course, it’s bittersweet for both her and us as we discover that Mr Gold was running a ‘long con’ on her as he wanted her in a position of power in the town, seeing as she owes him a favour. This favour is clearly going to have a significant effect in the future, and I look forward to seeing what it is.

Other thoughts:

  • The image in the title card this time was the Dark One (who I keep wanting to call the Dark Lord) riding through the forest.
  • I have mentioned several times how this show contains parents and children being separated, and the quotation I used above illustrates that once again. While we haven’t yet seen Rumple lose his son, it does look like with Rumple’s transformation is going to tear the two apart, although how I’m not sure.
  • There was also the children being taken from the village to fight in the war, as another example of parents and children being separated.
  • As Mr Gold was going through Graham’s things I noticed that there was a piece of paper saying that Graham’s surname was Humbert. A quick Google tells me that Humbert is a Germanic name which comes from hun, meaning “warrior”, and beraht, meaning “bright”.
  • “Two people with a common goal can accomplish many things. Two people with a common enemy can accomplish even more.” I have a feeling this idea will appear again before the show is out.
  • We had talk of names this week, as the knight (who is apparently called Hordor) mocked Rumple by calling him Spindleshanks, Threadwhistle and Hobblefoot. Names were obviously a significant part of the original Rumplestiltskin fairytale.
  • The Mayor has the right to put forward a candidate for sheriff. The Candidate was of course an episode of LOST (OK, I’m grasping).
  • Sidney Glass has covered the sheriff’s office for “as long as any of [them] can remember.”
  • The beggar tells Rumple that everyone has a choice, as Rumple would later tell Charming. He also later in the episode told Rumple that “all magic comes with a price”.
  • Rumple prefers small weapons, like daggers or the fine point of a deal.
  • In the paper Henry is reading there’s an article about pumpkins.
  • “We will get our news from something more reliable, like the Internet.”
  • Who was Rumple’s son’s mother? Do we know her? What did happen to her?
  • I enjoyed the scene of Mary Margaret, Granny, Ruby, Archie etc. planning Emma’s campaign to themselves. It’s nice to see how people have warmed to Emma since she arrived.
  • What are the paintings in Mr Gold’s shop? They seem to be of places; are they places in the Fairy Tale realm?
  • Who are Mr Gold’s eyes and ears in the town? Is it a person, or does he have some other way of tracking what’s going on?
  • David’s now working at the animal shelter. I hope that’s not a euphemism as well.
  • Is Baelfire Rumple’s son? Was the Dark One telling the truth?
  • Rumple “made a deal [he] couldn’t understand.” He certainly would never do that again.
  • Archie says “Wow, crickets” when nobody laughs at his joke.
  •  Sidney Glass would be a reflection of the best qualities of Storybrooke.
  • “You didn’t pick a great friend in Mr Gold, Miss Swan, but he does make a superlative enemy.” I love this line; it was a good contender for the one I opened this review with.
  • What’s Storybrooke’s logo? It appeared to be a tree with something underneath; is it implying that there is something underneath Storybrooke?
  • After gaining the power Rumple calls his son “what belongs to [him]”. Is that why he started treating children as goods which could be sold?

All in all, another high quality episode of this great show. I can’t wait to see where it goes next week.

TV of the Week: 19/5/2012

Alcatraz

Season 1, Episode 10

‘Clarence Montgomery’

This episode is, in my opinion, fairly illustrative of why this show was cancelled. The problem is that all it seemed to do was pose more questions without even hinting at any answers. This sounds like a strange criticism when I am such a big fan of LOST and Fringe, but both those shows had other things to keep my interest whilst the mysteries were going on, in some cases things which I liked much more than the mysteries themselves. This show doesn’t.

This episode, as the title indicated, followed an inmate called Clarence Montgomery, who was actually innocent of the crime he went to Alcatraz for. However, once he had returned he was committing crimes like the one he was convicted of, due to some weird experiments the doctor was doing at the request of the warden at Alcatraz. It’s looking more and more like the warden has something to do with the return of the inmates, although part of me doubts that we will ever find out the complete truth.

Like with some of the other episodes of this show, the flashbacks seemed fairly pointless here. We learnt that that doctor had turned Montgomery into a killer, but a large part of it was basically telling us that there was a lot of racism at Alcatraz in the 60s, which really wasn’t that surprising. Personally, I would like this show a lot more if they spent as much time developing the main characters as they do the returning inmates.

I don’t really have a lot more to say about this episode. The case itself wasn’t that interesting, and it didn’t really make any progress on the overarching plot. It was nice to see Jorge Garcia as Doc Soto as always, but he’s unfortunately not enough to save this show from mediocrity, or cancellation.

Hawaii Five-0

Season 2, Episode 20

‘Ha’alele’

In this week’s episode of Hawaii Five-0 we finally got to see some of Max’s history, and we also got the first of a couple of episodes without Steve, as Alex O’Loughlin had to take some time off the show. The in-universe explanation is that Steve has left to try and find Joe White and get some more information about Shelburne, which is a little random but I don’t envy the show for having to find a way to suddenly write him out for a few weeks.

Due to Steve’s absence, we got to see a bit more of Chin this week, as he took over as Danny’s partner. Danny doesn’t have quite the same chemistry with Chin as he does with Steve, but it was nice to have Chin at the forefront of the case, as of late it seems like he has mostly been in the background. Kono was still surprisingly absent for a good part of this episode, particularly near the beginning, which I thought was a little odd considering they are already one main character down, but we did get to see more of Max this week.

This week’s case was all about a serial killer who, despite supposedly being arrested several years ago, appeared to have killed another victim. It’s a fairly typical plot for this kind of show, although I can’t really recall this exact show doing something like this before. However, there was a twist as we found out that Max’s biological mother was one of the serial killer’s original victims.

It was nice to see Max have more of a connection to the case this week, as he usually only appears for a scene or two per episode, and he was fairly entertaining as per usual, although he did have to be more serious than is normally required for him. I was quite surprised that it ended with Max killing the serial killer, although this is the kind of show which tends to go a bit further than other similar shows do. Still, it didn’t feel contrived and I quite enjoyed seeing Max outside of autopsy.

I don’t know that this episode was as emotional as it might have been if another show had done it (and I’m sure some have), but it was an interesting and enjoyable episode, and I wouldn’t say no to more like this, and more of Max, in the future.

NCIS: Los Angeles

Season 3, Episode 20

‘Patriot Acts’

We had another typically strong episode of NCIS: Los Angeles this week, as we saw Nate return for the first time this season, I believe. Like with Steve’s sister on Hawaii Five-0 last week, I was a touch disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of him, particularly in regards to the case, but it was great to see him interacting with the team again, especially Nell.

I’m not sure that we’ve yet learnt exactly how he and Nell know each other, but I did enjoy their conversations this week. It was unusual to see Nell as flustered as she was when Nate implied that she had feelings for Eric, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. It has been fairly clear for a while that there is some chemistry between Eric and Nell, although I think this is the first time it has been explicitly mentioned in the show. I was quite surprised that Nell was so surprised by what Nate was saying, as though she hadn’t considered liking Eric as more than her brother before, as I assumed that she was aware of the almost-flirting that they have been doing. I hope this relationship does actually go somewhere, instead of being one of those TV relationships that is just constant flirting but never actually goes any further, like Tony and Ziva on the original NCIS.

The case itself was typically enjoyable; although I’m starting to get a bit bored of ‘there’s a bomb somewhere in LA’ plots in this show. Fortunately, this episode focused a bit more on the characters involved in making the bomb than the bomb itself. You could tell that the people at the coffee shop would play more of a role than it appeared at the beginning, although I certainly didn’t see all the details. I quite liked Brea Grant’s character Mia so I was glad that she didn’t turn out to be a terrorist; instead she was just someone trying to get justice for a mistake the FBI made.

Overall, this was a typical, solid episode of a great TV show. It was nice to see Nate again and I hope it isn’t too long before he returns, hopefully with a bigger role to play in the plot. I also liked seeing a bit more of Nell, as she discovered something about her feelings for Eric, and also learning that she and Kensi went to a monster truck rally. I’m looking forward to next week.

NCIS

Season 8, Episode 14

‘A Man Walks Into a Bar…’

I want to start off by saying that I watch NCIS in Channel 5 rather than FX, so I know that I am far behind from where I could be. There are several reasons why I watch it this way, partly because I don’t know if I could catch up to the point where FX is with the seasons not coming out on DVD before they are on 5. Also, if possible I prefer watching shows on Freeview so I can watch them live and don’t have to try and fit them in on Saturday along with all my other recorded shows; plus, when I go to university and don’t have cable I will still be able to keep up with the show from this season onwards. So if you are further into the series than this episode, please do not post spoilers in the comments.

Moving on from that, I want to say that I loved this episode. At first I was expecting it to a fairly typical comic episode of NCIS that focused on the case while somebody followed them around. However, it turned out to concentrate much more on the psych-evaluation than I was expecting, which was pleased about. In fact, we didn’t see that much of the case at all really, especially as it turned out not to be a murder but a suicide, but it was a nice parallel to what we discovered during the psych-evaluation.

The case was all about a commanding officer who was found dead in his bunk aboard a submarine. Initially it looked like a murder, as we later discovered that two of the officer’s co-workers had arranged the scene to give the officer some dignity, but it turned out that he had ended his own life. The reason: he was about to be forced into retirement. He was a man who had given his entire life to the job, and had nothing to show for it. He had no wife, no family, and would have spent his retirement all alone, so he decided to end his own life before he got there.

As well as being a fairly interesting story by itself, this case gains significance as you look at it in the context of the episode. During the psych-evaluation it became clear that all of the team have very similar lives to the commanding officer: focused entirely on their jobs with nothing in their personal lives. Ziva recently gave up everything she knew to change her allegiance to the United States, as well as having several failed relationships behind her. McGee hasn’t had any significant relationships during his time at NCIS. Tony gave up the chance to head up his own team, and is a very capable agent, but like the others he has no life outside of NCIS. Vance is recently dealing with the fact that everything he succeeded at during his time at NCIS wasn’t supposed to happen and feels his life is a lie. Ducky feels lonely as spends all day speaking with people who can’t speak back. Abby spends so much time at work and helping others that she never makes time for herself. And Gibbs, while he isn’t explored as deeply as the others in this episode, we all know that he is lonely, with three failed marriages, plus the death of his first wife and daughter. What this episode was trying to show is that dedicating time to your work is great, but everybody needs a life outside of it.

This episode also featured several flashbacks, mostly focusing on Cate. It has been several years since she died, but this episode made it clear that the main characters still miss her, and that her death had a big impact on their lives. It felt a little odd at first that it was focusing so much on Cate so many years since we last saw her, but it was nice to reminisce about her and to remind us how things used to be. I didn’t see the twist of the psychoanalyst being Cate’s sister, but it was a nice touch as it showed the significance of the main characters on Cate’s life, and vice versa.

Overall, this was a surprisingly touching episode of this show. NCIS is a fantastic show because of its dedication to its characters, and it was nice to get both an exploration of the characters still here and to remind ourselves of one who no longer is. The impact of Cate’s death and the aftermath makes up some of my favourite episodes of the show, and it was nice to see a show acknowledge a fallen comrade several years later. An amazing episode and I look forward to next week’s.

The Mentalist

Season 4, Episode 22

‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Red Snapper’

This was a fairly typical episode of The Mentalist, although it wasn’t any the worse for that. The case this week focused on a surfer who had been killed after discovering some lost gold at the bottom of the ocean. It’s not the most original plot for an episode, I’ve seen other shows do the same plot before, but it was still well done. And as usual, I didn’t really care about the case so much as the characters.

During the case we met an old flame of Lisbon’s, whose heart she apparently broke about ten years ago. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a little more of this plot, as it didn’t really have much role to play here. We had a couple of good scenes between Lisbon and Jane because of it, but not really much else. It strikes me that Lisbon hasn’t really had a significant character arc for a while; Jane has always got an arc going on, Grace had her engagement and betrayal last year, Rigsby has recently become a father, and Cho is dealing with his relationship with Summer and addiction to pain medication, but nothing springs to mind when it comes to Lisbon. I hope we get something new soon.

Speaking of Cho, his relationship with Summer came to a head this week as he had to deal with the difficulty of having a relationship with a confidential informant. After Summer was attacked by a drug dealer she was looking for information from, Cho went for revenge and, as he later admitted, he could have seriously hurt him. He then discovered that Summer had stolen some drugs from the dealer, and the couple got into huge fight. We saw more emotion in Cho in that scene than we probably ever have before. It ended up, unfortunately, with Cho and Summer breaking up, although it wasn’t entirely depressing. Summer went to stay with her sister and enrol in college to try and improve her life, and Cho said that we would come to visit her sometimes. However, unless something bad happens to this character, I doubt we will ever see her again.

This was a good episode of The Mentalist, and in many ways I imagine it is the calm before the storm, as next week we have the penultimate episode of the season. It struck me in this episode that Jane doesn’t really spend much time with the team anymore; he mostly just stays for the initial interviews and then goes his own way. Perhaps he has always done that, but it does seem to me that he is getting more and more isolated, and I look forward to see where this plot will go.

Leverage

Season 3, Episode 15

‘The Big Bang Job’

This was a fantastic episode of Leverage. There wasn’t so much focus on an individual con, but it didn’t matter as we made progress on the team taking down Damien Moreau. One interesting thing about this episode, and the show in general, is how it concentrates as much on the characters as it does on the cons. This week all the characters got some development and focus, but particularly Eliot.

While all the characters on this show have shady pasts, which is kind of obvious from the fact that they are an ensemble of criminals, Eliot has always been the one with the most ‘red on his ledger’. Due to the nature of his talents, it’s no surprise that he has done things in his past which he is ashamed of, and this week he had to face them as we discovered that he used to work with Moreau. The scene where the gang confronts him for keeping that fact from them is painful, especially when he begs Parker not to ask what the worst thing he did was. I don’t know if we will ever find out what that was, but it many ways it doesn’t matter, and he appears to have achieved some level of redemption by the end of the episode.

The plot itself was exciting as we followed the team trying to stop Moreau’s sale of an EM bomb. There were several different cons going on, from Hardison pretending to be a middle man for a company wanting to buy the bomb to Sophie and Parker pretending to be a congresswoman and her assistant looking for information about the project, but these weren’t really the highlights of the episode. What was very exciting was when Moreau found out about what was going on and set up Nate, Eliot and the Italian, which climaxed in the fantastic, and slightly unbelievable, scene of Eliot talking out an entire room of gunman. I also loved seeing Parker and Hardison working together and trying to disable the bomb, which ended with Parker telling Hardison that she was in the mood for “pretzels”, referencing their earlier conversation. Hopefully this means that for the next season they will be an item, as I do like them together.

Overall this was an amazing episode of this show and I’m eagerly anticipating the season finale next week, as the team head to San Lorenzo to take down Damien Moreau once and for all. As long as it can keep to the same standards as this episode, it should be awesome.

Bones

Season 7, Episode 10

‘The Warrior in the Wuss’

Unsurprisingly, we had another really enjoyable episode of Bones this week. There was perhaps a slightly bigger focus on the case than in some of the previous weeks, but the character plots were still prominent and very interesting.

While the Squintern of the week, Clark Edison, didn’t have a character plot, I didn’t mind at all as we had a more Hodgins-focused side plot, which I do feel has been slightly missing over the past few weeks. While it wasn’t a particularly serious plot, as it was basically just Hodgins wanting to spend more money on equipment than the Jefferson would let him, it did give some great scenes for both him and Angela. The ending scene, with the two of them plus Cam, Clark and some other Squints having a party at the Jeffersonian was fun, and so were the conversations between the two.

The Brennan and Booth plot of the week was all about Parker, who had been acting strangely since he arrived to stay with them. When Brennan found a bunch of cut up photos in his room I did guess that he might be doing something nice for them, like making a photo album or something, rather than being malicious, but I wasn’t sure why he would destroy the car he and Booth made. It was nice that it turned out that he was making a mobile for Christine, and I hope we get to see more of the whole Brennan-Booth family all together.

While this wasn’t the most serious episode of the show, it was very entertaining. The case wasn’t anything particularly special, just about a guy with an inferiority complex based on his height, but as usual the show was more about the characters than the case. I think I was complaining last week that we hadn’t seen much of Angela and Hodgins for a while, so I was pleased to see more of them here, and I hope we get to see even more of them in the coming weeks.

Grimm

Season 1, Episode 14

‘Plumed Serpent’

Grimm seems to be in the habit lately of making me think at the beginning of an episode that it’s going to be a very typical, procedural episode, and then turning it into something completely different. It’s done it for the last couple of weeks and it did it again this week, as at the beginning I was expecting it to just consist of Nick and Hank hunting for the man who killed the two guys, but then it turned into a really exciting episode that did serve to develop the plot.

One of the things which I really liked about this episode was the character of Ariel, played by Danielle Panabaker (sidenote: When she first came on screen I thought I recognised her from somewhere, before I finally realised that she’s the sister of Kay Panabaker, who played Daphne on No Ordinary Family). She was a very interesting character, and it was enjoyable to watch as she played with Nick, even getting him in trouble with Juliette. I can’t quite decide if she’s evil or was just acting out of love for her father, and I’m glad the ending seemed to imply we’d be seeing her again.

We did get to see a fair amount of Juliette in this episode, as she was kidnapped by Ariel. I was sort of hoping that somehow she would find out about Nick’s secret in this episode, but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. I hope it isn’t too long before she does find out, however, as it generally frustrates me in TV shows when it takes seasons and seasons for the main characters’ loved ones to find out their secret. At least she finally met Monroe.

Despite not getting progress on the Grimm front in this episode, Nick and Juliette’s relationship is far from being in a good place at the moment. I didn’t really see it until the scene with the ring a couple of episodes ago, but it does seem that Aunt Marie was right when she implied that he couldn’t be a Grimm and stay in a successful relationship with Juliette. I do hope he and Juliette find some way to fix their problems, however, as I do quite like them together. Plus, Juliette is the only female character in the show, so they can’t really get rid of her.

We had another great episode this week, and I am looking forward to seeing where this show goes. Monroe told Nick this week that another Grimm had recently been killed in Germany by the Reapers, so, aside from the fact that I didn’t realise there could be more than one Grimm at once (maybe I just assumed it was like being a Slayer on Buffy), it will be interesting to see how this plot turns out and what direction it takes. I can’t wait to find out.

A Town Called Eureka

Season 5, Episode 1

‘Lost’

I must admit, I had unfortunately already been slightly spoiled about the first couple of episodes of this season. I didn’t know exact details of what happened, but I was aware that the Eureka the Astreus crew were living in wasn’t the real Eureka, which hampered the experience for me a little. I didn’t really care about any of the stuff which was going on in this episode, because I already knew the upshot.

Still, I did enjoy this episode. Despite knowing what was going to happen, I did find it exciting as the episode approached its climax and the gang tried to take Eureka back from the AIs. It’s always enjoyable watching everybody working as a team in order to achieve a goal, and this was no exception even if it wasn’t real.

One good thing about being spoiled was that I didn’t believe the Carter and Jo plotline. I like them as a friendship, but I see them as a platonic relationship rather than a romantic one, and seeing Alison and Zane have to deal with losing their loved ones to each other’s was painful. Still, it does make you wonder what effect it will have when they do eventually return to the real world and whether they will be able to get over that loss.

Even if I knew the ending, this was still a very good episode. It contained the usual comedy, especially Fargo and Holly (Felicia Day!), and it was a very exciting and emotional episode, even if the emotion was partly fake, or at least imaginary. It is a shame that this is the final season of this great show, but I hope that it gets the ending it deserves.

Fringe

Season 4, Episode 22

‘Brave New World, Part 2’

I’m glad this episode wasn’t the series finale. Don’t get me wrong, I thought this was a great episode and a great season finale, but for me it lacked a bit of punch. That’s probably a bit of an odd thing to say considering what did happen in this episode, but I hold this series in such high regard that I hope that when the final episode does come it has a few more shocks and emotion. Not that this episode wasn’t shocking or emotional, but I would want more in a series finale.

Fortunately, this wasn’t the series finale. You can tell that the creators were worried it might be as if you took out the final scene it would make a nice end to the show. Not a phenomenal one, but a nice one. It didn’t have quite the cliff-hanger it did last year, presumably so that it wouldn’t be s disappointment if it were the last episode; it was simply September saying that “they” were coming. I’m assuming the “they” in question are the other Observers, but I look forward to finding out.

The rest of the episode was very enjoyable and exciting. Jessica Holt returned from last episode and we discovered that she was working for William Bell. I didn’t guess it in the last episode, but I didn’t consider it beyond the realms of possibility when we first saw her, or when she first appeared in this episode. It turns out that she, like David Robert Jones, was just there, doing what she was doing, to get Olivia to realise her potential in terms of the Cortexiphan in her system, so that Olivia herself would power the destruction of the two universes. Again, it was a touch predictable and I guessed it a couple of seconds before Olivia did, but it was still very well done.

As they were talking in the FBI I did realise that the only way to stop the destruction might be with Olivia’s death, although I didn’t think they would actually do it. I forgot that the Cortexiphan might allow her to heal, so I was incredibly shocked when Walter actually did shoot her and I did think she might be dead forever. Fortunately she wasn’t, and instead the season ended with the revelation that she was pregnant, with her, Peter, Walter and Astrid as a happy family.

We also made a few discoveries in this episode. It was Walter’s idea to destroy the two universes and create a new one, and that was the idea in the pieces of brain he got Bell to remove. We also learnt why Olivia had to die in all possible futures: to prevent the collapse of the two universes, although fortunately she managed to come back. Presumably means that she no longer has to die (well, any more than the rest of us), so we may not have that hanging over us all of next season.

I was getting quite a few LOST flashbacks in this episode. From the discovery that the Observer only told Olivia that she had to die because that was what she told him that he said in the past (or the future, I’m getting seriously confused with this sentence), which was reminiscent of Locke (well, technically the Man in Black) doing the same to Richard, to the helicopter hovering above a vanished boat, much like the one in LOST doing the same above the vanished Island, to “It worked” it seemed that this episode was full of LOST references. Not to mention the fact that it contained Rebecca Mader, who of course played Charlotte on LOST.

We had many questions answered here, but I think that there are some remaining for next season. I intend to do another post soon with my predictions for next season and I’ll cover it more then, although I imagine that I will still forget some until I re-watch the first three seasons. Overall, this was a fantastic episode, and while I’m pleased it isn’t the series finale, I am not at all disappointed by it. My favourite scene in the episode was Walter and Astrid at the end, complete with red liquorice and Walter finally getting her name right, and I hope we get some scenes like this in the finale. I can’t wait to see what the writers do next season.

Once Upon A Time: ‘The Heart is a Lonely Hunter’

 “I’d rather feel nothing than settle for less.”

Wow.

I now totally understand why this show has been such a success in the US. I mean, I’ve enjoyed it in the last few weeks, but this week’s episode really took it to another level. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter had everything a fantastic episode of television should have and more: there was humour, there was an interesting story told within the episode, as well as contributions to the overarching plot and mythology, and it made me feel something. Good Lord it made me feel something.

This was without doubt the best episode of this show so far. I’m always impressed when a show is brave enough to kill off one of its main characters, and even more impressed when they can make me feel grief for that death. I don’t know how it’s done it, but in only seven episodes Once Upon A Time had made me really grow attached to its characters and made me really care about them. I was practically in tears at the end when Graham died, and I don’t think even Buffy or LOST were able to do that to me that quickly.

Although this episode was primarily focused in Storybrooke this week, what we did have in the Fairy Tale realm was still very good. We already knew from Snow Falls that the Huntsman would spare Snow’s life, but seeing it happen was still worthwhile, and we also got some more hints about why the Evil Queen hates Snow so much. The Evil Queen tells the Huntsman that she “shared a secret with her and she couldn’t keep it”, and I look forward to finding out exactly what happened between them. The Huntsman’s story was painful, as we see how he was essentially alone in the world except for the wolves that raised him, but nowhere near as painful as Graham’s Storybrooke story.

After kissing Emma (finally!) Graham starts to have memories from his time as the Huntsman. We never find out exactly why the kiss triggers these memories, although Henry speculates that it is because of the connection Emma and Graham share: he saved her mother’s life. As Graham starts to hunt for the truth behind his memories he also realises that he doesn’t feel anything, which is why he is sleeping with Regina. Jamie Dornan acts the Sheriff’s pain at not ‘having a heart’ extremely well, and makes it as heart-breaking for us as it is for Graham.

Despite being rooted in fairy tales, this episode really brings it home that this is a serious drama. After confronting Regina and telling her that he is no longer going to do everything she says, Graham returns to the Sheriff’s office with Emma. We then get confirmed what we have been speculating about for a while: Regina knows about the Fairy Tale realm, and she doesn’t take kindly to Graham turning her down. As Graham and Emma finally acknowledge their feelings for each other, in a touching scene, it is quickly turned to tragedy as Regina destroys Graham’s heart, killing him instantly. Of course, just before this happens, another kiss with Emma brings all Graham’s memories back and he tells her that he remembers. He doesn’t tell her what he remembers, but hopefully this will start to push Emma in the direction of believing what Henry has been telling her about the curse.

Other thoughts:

  • The title card this week featured a wolf walking through the background, which makes me realise I haven’t really mentioned the wolf at all so far. Aside from saying that it looked gorgeous, I loved how it was so close to the Huntsman/Graham and how it was practically his family. Also, was it the same wolf that stopped Emma from leaving in the first episode?
  • I’m sure I don’t need to point out to everyone the obvious parallel between Graham hitting a deer bull’s-eye with a dart in Granny’s and then killing a deer in a similar way with a bow and arrow in the Fairy Tale realm.
  • I personally really liked the relationship between Emma and Graham. If he hadn’t just died I would say that they were currently my favourite couple on the show, which of course just makes it all the more painful now that he has died. I hope that they don’t do what some shows do and now never mention him again.
  • For the first time I really noticed the use of red in this show. I mean, pretty much everything at Granny’s is (although she is from Red Riding Hood), and also one of the wolf’s eyes was red, as well as Snow’s apples. I’m sure there are more instances of red which I missed.
  • I was trying to keep an eye on the shop signs this week, but I didn’t see anything particularly significant.
  • Like so much of the scenery in this show, Regina’s palace looks amazing.
  • I was surprised by the revelation that the Evil Queen was Snow’s evil stepmother. Initially I thought that it might be the death of Snow’s father that caused her to hate Snow, but it turned out that this was all part of the Evil Queen’s plan.
  • There was lots of talk of hearts in this week’s episode. The Evil Queen needed someone with no heart to kill Snow, and the Mirror recommended a Huntsman, whom she then tasked with cutting out Snow’s heart. Then, she removed his heart when he failed to do so. The heart is another appearance of red in this series .There was also all the talk of Graham not having a heart, which was why he didn’t feel anything. Furthermore, the Huntsman talked about animals being pure of heart.
  • Linked with that, why does the Evil Queen collect hearts? Is it just to have power over all the people whose hearts she has? Does she have any other significant characters’ hearts? Is she actually the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, which Henry’s book appeared to imply was also part of the Fairy Tale realm mythology? Also, don’t forget it was a heart which made the whole curse possible.
  • Am I the only one impressed that this show has Snow White (well, Mary Margaret) having a one-night stand? I find it interesting how the show is taking these fairy tale characters but not making them as wholesome and good as they were in the Disney stories.
  • Something else which really struck me during this episode, perhaps for the first time so far on this show, was how great the writing is. The scene with Emma and Mary Margaret really made me notice this, but the whole episode was fantastically written.
  • Now that we know Regina remembers everything, does Mr. Gold? If so, why did he seem to be in support of Graham recovering his memory by hinting that dreams could be memories of previous lives? Also, what was he doing in the woods, as I doubt he was really gardening?
  • Mirrors also seem to be appearing a fair amount on this show, and appear to be used by ‘Mirror Mirror on the Wall’ to see through all of the Fairy Tale realm, as we saw that was how the Evil Queen found the Huntsman.
  • Do animals remember from before the curse? Jiminy Cricket was turned back into a human, but did the wolf remember Graham as the Huntsman?
  • We had more instances of parents and children being separated this week as we learnt that Snow’s father died (as part of the Evil Queen’s plan) and that the Huntsman had been abandoned by his parents to the wolves.
  • There was an interesting discussion between Graham and Mary Margaret this week, and we got to see just how “hazy” everybody’s memories are when it comes to things from the far past, such as when people first met.
  • I have to say that in the Fairy Tale realm Snow is certainly one of my favourite characters. She’s clever, working out that the Huntsman wasn’t a knight, tough, as she fought back against him, and brave, as she was prepared to die for the sake of her people. She is perhaps slightly more ‘perfect’ than Mary Margaret, compared to the Disney fairy tale, but it is nice to see Snow White as a strong, independent woman instead of the weak damsel in distress that women in fairy tales are usually portrayed to be.
  • How does Regina have eyes everywhere? Is it the editor of the Mirror, like the Mirror observed her kingdom in the Fairy Tale realm?
  • I noticed during the final scene just how great the music is in this show. It’s not quite LOST level, but it’s still very good.
  • I have no notes on that amazing final scene other than: GRAHAM!!!

That’s it for this week. Despite not having much of a role for most of the main characters (Henry and Mr Gold only appeared once, Archie and David didn’t appear at all), this was the best episode of the season so far. I really liked Graham’s character, and I will really miss him, but his death was fantastically well done and very emotional. While I hope they don’t replace him, per se, I do hope we get another character down the line that has a similar rapport with Emma, as that was one my many favourite things about the show. I don’t imagine we’ll see much of the Huntsman/Graham again, but hopefully the whistle he left with Snow will return in a later episode.

After this week’s amazing episode, I can’t wait to see what happens next week.

TV of the Week: 13/5/2012

Alcatraz

Season 1, Episode 9

‘Sonny Burnett’

This week’s episode of Alcatraz was another good one, although I didn’t find the flashbacks particularly interesting here. They were basically showing how Burnett had to toughen up in order to survive on Alcatraz, and to be honest I don’t think we really needed so much time devoted to it. The scene of him gouging out another man’s eyes was particularly disturbing and unnecessary, in my opinion, as well.

However, the current plot was fairly interesting. It was good to see another plot where the escapee was acting like a typical escapee and searching for the person who put him away, instead of randomly following orders from an unknown source as to what he had to do. The more important part of this week’s plot, however, was what is going on with the 63s in general. We discovered that in a Lost-esque way the 63s have advanced healing powers, and Hauser was hoping to use those to heal Lucy, although I was slightly annoyed that at the end we are still no further in healing her. Would it do that much harm to the plot to finally wake her up and shed some light on what’s going on?

This was a decent episode of Alcatraz, although it’s all bittersweet as we now know that the show has been cancelled in the US. Hopefully the remaining four episodes will start to answer some of the questions which have been building, although part of me doubts it; still, I will keep watching and remaining optimistic that the show will be able to tie itself off well in the finale.

Hawaii Five-0

Season 2, Episode 19

‘Kalele’

After last week’s episode containing Scott Caan’s father, James Caan, this week returned to in-universe family members, as Steve’s sister, Mary, returned for the first time this season. To be perfectly honest, I was a tad disappointed with her return, as it seemed that she was simply here to set up the plot and then vanish for the majority of this episode. Another thing which didn’t really tally, in my opinion, was how she arrived in Hawaii about a day before Steve’s birthday and didn’t mention it once; in fact if all had gone to plan she would have been on a flight over his birthday. If they weren’t going to make a connection between his sister’s return and his birthday, what was the point of having the plot of it being Steve’s birthday?

Other than this, I quite enjoyed the episode. Perhaps stupidly, I didn’t see the twist of Mary’s friend being in league with the smugglers, and I certainly didn’t see the twist of the old man, August March, turning on Mary’s friend. When I was initially watching this episode I thought that the use of flashbacks for a fairly minor character felt a bit strange, but I have since learnt that the same actor appeared as the same character back in the original Hawaii Five-O, and the flashbacks were from the original series. I hope we see this character again, as it’s nice to have characters return from the original series; it shows that the current show acknowledges its roots and caters to fans of the original series.

Overall, this was a good episode, although I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as last week’s. I like Hawaii Five-0 as a show, it is often fun to watch, but I don’t think it does the character stories as well as some other procedurals do. This week’s plot of Steve’s sister returning didn’t really have much effect, and we haven’t seen much from Chin-Ho or Kono for a while. I like this show, just not to the same level as other procedurals like NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles.

NCIS: Los Angeles

Season 3, Episode 19

‘Vengeance’

Speaking of NCIS: Los Angeles, this was another fantastic episode of this show: what this show does particularly well, although perhaps not at the same level of its parent show NCIS, is combine exciting individual cases with enjoyable character plots. For example, this week’s episode was as much an exploration of Sam’s character as it was an interesting single case.

Of all the characters in this show, Sam is the one who is most connected with the cases they deal with, being an ex-Marine himself, so he is the one most understands what the suspects in this case did and why. He also appreciates the urgency with which they all need to act, so that they can save the lives of two innocent victims. It is incredibly accurate when one of the other characters (I can’t remember who, it might have been Deeks) says that they are making Sam interrogate his own family, and the decision which Sam makes towards the end of the show is understandable. Having been a Marine, he knows the importance of their jobs and that in killing the traitor within their base they were acting without malice and simply trying to save lives.

Although this is a fairly serious episode, there are some more comedic moments. I particularly liked the scene at the beginning of Eric playing a videogame in the Ops centre, although it becomes less fun when you compare it with the ending of the episode, and the real life risks that people have to take to save lives and protect their country.

This was, as usual, an excellent episode of this show, and I look forward to next week’s instalment.

Leverage

Season 3, Episode 14

‘The Ho, Ho, Ho Job’

One of the problems with watching US shows in the UK is that they are often delayed from when they are shown in the US. Normally it doesn’t matter that much, but it becomes particularly obvious when you end up watching a Christmas episode in the middle of May. Fortunately, Leverage is such a good show that even without the real-life seasonal spirit behind it, it is still makes a very good episode.

As with most episodes of Leverage, a big part of what I like about this episode is Parker. She is the most childlike character in this show, so her love of Christmas is extremely in-character, much like all the characters’ reactions. One thing I love about Christmas episodes is seeing how the different characters react to that time of year, and although the plot of the ‘bah, humbug’-guy feeling the Christmas spirit at the end is a bit overused, it is still enjoyable.

One of the good things about this episode was that it didn’t become overwhelmingly Christmassy. Yes, I know there were elves and Santas and candy canes and all the other traditional aspects of a Christmas episode, but there was actually an interesting case beneath all of that. It was great to see Chaos again (and Wil Wheaton), and watching him use the Leverage team in order to make his robbery easier was genius, and I didn’t see it coming.

Understandably, as this was clearly a stand-alone Christmas episode, it didn’t more the Moreau plot on at all, but it didn’t matter as it was so enjoyable by itself. The characters were on top form as always, from the comedic moments such as reactions to Lucille 2’s ‘death’ to the more serious moments like Nate realising he had been played, and the actors were superb as always. The cases on this show are always fun, but it is characters that make this show what it is.

The Mentalist

Season 4, Episode 21

‘Ruby Slippers’

This was very enjoyable and entertaining episode of The Mentalist, but also dealt with some very serious issues. It was horrible seeing all the terrible things which happened to the victim just because he was different, and it was entirely believable that he would take his own life, but final revelation that he was in fact alive and starting a new life was full of hope and ended the episode on a positive note.

Like the majority of the best shows, the main thing that makes this show great is the characters. Jane was excellent in this episode as always, and we also had some great interactions between Cho and Summer. I know that recurring characters usually never last very long on this show, but I hope that we get to see more of Summer in the coming episodes and seasons as she is a great character and has a great effect on Cho’s behaviour.

I don’t actually have much to say about this episode. The plot was very good, and characters were excellent as usual, but there wasn’t really anything stand-out which has to be talked about. This was a fantastic episode, however, and as we approach the end of the season I am looking forward to where this show is going.

Bones

Season 7, Episode 9

‘The Don’t in the Do’

Unsurprisingly, this week contained another fantastic Bones episode. I don’t know that it was quite at the standard of the previous weeks’, but considering how good they were that isn’t saying much, and I certainly enjoyed this episode. The case wasn’t anything special, but the characters were extremely fun to watch, and their plots are always the best parts of the episode.

What impresses me about Bones is how it is able to juggle several plotlines at once, without feeling like it is underusing any of them. There is always the main case going on, as well something going on between Brennan and Booth, something going on with one of the Squinterns, and sometimes something going on with another main cast member. This week didn’t really have the latter one, but it certainly contained the others and, as usual, they were all done well.

The Squintern plot this week was how Arastoo was being published in a journal and because of that was acting a little off. On any other show this would be slightly tedious, but this show manages to deal with it in a way which is funny, touching, and, to a certain extent, deep. Brennan reminds Arastoo that what they do isn’t so that they can get recognition for it but because it is the right thing to do and the plot manages to be neatly tied off by the end of the episode, but not in a way which ignores what happened during the episode.

The Brennan and Booth plot for this episode was how Brennan was feeling uncomfortable in her own skin after having Christine, which I’m sure is something many women experience after giving birth, and, while I have no direct experience of it, it seems to me that this episode managed to deal with this plot quite realistically. It also allowed for some great Brennan and Angela scenes, as well as some enjoyable Booth and Sweets scenes.

While the murder of the week wasn’t especially fascinating, this was another very entertaining episode of this show. My only slight complaint of this season so far is that we haven’t seen that much of Angela and Hodgins, so I hope in the next few episodes they get a decent plotline. Other than that, this season has been very impressive so far and I can’t wait to next week’s episode.

Grimm

Season 1, Episode 13

‘Three Coins in a Fuchsbau’

Despite being severely lacking in Monroe, we had another great episode of Grimm this week. At the beginning of this episode I was worried that this was going to be a fairly standard procedural-based episode, but fortunately it proved to be anything but. Obviously, there was still a certain degree of procedural elements in it, but the coins proved to actually make for a very interesting plot.

I’m not normally a fan of episodes where something happens to make the characters act out of character, and this wasn’t necessarily an exception. When Hank started to get obsessed with the coins I feared that this episode would go downhill, but when he got over it and Captain Renard became obsessed instead it made for an interesting episode. Part of the reason that this plot didn’t bother me like it would with Hank was that we don’t actually know much about Captain Renard, so I think this episode did actually contain some revelations about him and his motives. I suspect that what he said at the press conference wasn’t just the coins speaking, and perhaps he was actually talking about his role in the city. Is his aim simply about keeping order in the city and ensuring that the majority of the public are safe in their beds, and doing that by controlling the Wesen underground in the city?

Another important development in this episode was some revelations about Nick’s parents. I’m not sure if we’ve heard much about them so far, but this week we actually got to meet one of the people responsible for their deaths, and we learnt what the reasoning was. This news seemed to make Nick start to realise the importance and risks of being a Grimm, and as he hid he coins in the caravan it struck me that, as far as I can remember, this is the first contribution Nick himself has made to it. The only thing that slightly confused me about this plot was why Nick asked Juliet to investigate Titus Welliver’s character’s backstory when he’s the detective, who surely has more resources?

The coins’ plot actually proved to be very interesting this week, as we learnt that they were the reason for many of the ‘evil’ personalities throughout history (well, within the Grimm universe) and also that Hitler was a Wesen. I hope we see the coins again, as they seem too important to just disappear now, especially considering the effect they had on Hank and Captain Renard. Further to that, we had some great developments within the plots of both Captain Renard and Nick’s family history, and I am intrigued to learn more about both of these. This is a great TV show, and I look forward to seeing what developments we get next week.

Fringe

Season 4, Episode 21

‘Brave New World, Part 1’

This is a very difficult episode of Fringe to review by itself, as I imagine many aspects of it will make a lot more sense after next week’s. For example, at the moment it feels like the beginning of the episode, with Rebecca Mader and the spontaneous human combustion, doesn’t have much to do with the second half, with the Sun being shone into a building in order to set the whole of Boston on fire; however I’m sure the connection will become much clearer next week.

One of the biggest things about this episode was the return of William Bell, although his being alive could be predicted from what we discovered a couple of weeks ago in Letters of Transit. I must admit, I can’t really remember what has happened with Bell when we have seen him in the past; I intend to rewatch the series so far in the break between Seasons 4 and 5 to remind myself, although it doesn’t look like Season 4 will be out on DVD much before Season 5 starts, so it will probably have to be just Seasons 1-3. It seems like William Bell is turning out to be the Big Bad of the series, as David Robert Jones died this week and appeared to be working for him, and it will be interesting to see next week and in Season 5 what is going to happen with him.

I’ve been avoiding it so far, but I have to talk about Astrid now. Astrid! I so hope she isn’t dead. On the one hand, she was shot in the area of the body which doesn’t usually kill people on TV, and also the show just lost Lincoln and all the guys from the Other Side, so I can’t see that it would be willing to lose yet another main cast member. On the other hand, this is the show that killed Alt-Lincoln off-screen after suffering a relatively similar injury, so nothing is guaranteed. Furthermore, bits of this episode felt like a goodbye to Astrid, such as at the beginning where she admitted she liked mothering Walter and in the lab when he was convincing her to let him so to find Bell, which doesn’t bode well. Finally, if the show hadn’t got a Season 5, this would have been the first part of the series finale, and it is common for main characters to die in series finales. Still, I remain hopeful that Astrid is still alive, and will return for the final season.

I don’t really have much more to say about this episode; like I say it will probably mean a lot more in context after we have seen the season finale next week. I am immensely looking forward to seeing how this season ends, and I can’t wait for next week.

Review: The Avengers

[This review contains SPOILERS for The Avengers/Avengers Assemble

Despite being out for about a month now, I only just got around to watching The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble as it’s called in the UK, but I refuse to call it that seeing as that phrase isn’t actually used in the film). Fortunately, it was well worth the wait.. The fact that Joss Whedon wrote and directed this film made is fairly likely that it was going to be pretty awesome, and he certainly didn’t disappoint.

I should start off by saying that I don’t actually have much knowledge of the Marvel universe. I haven’t read any of the comics, nor have I seen any of the preceding films to this one, so I will be judging and reviewing this film purely as a film in its own right. Other reviews and reviewers might focus on how well the characters are adapted from the comics, or how well this serves as a follow on from the other films in the series, but I’m just going to talk about what I thought about this film by itself.

Despite not having seen the previous films, or knowing much about this universe, I didn’t feel particularly disadvantaged when it came to understanding what was going on. I’m sure there are some aspects which would have make slightly more sense or been slightly clearer, such as where the Tesseract came from or the intricacies of the relationship between Thor and Loki, had I seen the previous films, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this film. The brief explanations we got in this film were enough to satisfy me as I was watching, although I will probably buy the previous films on DVD at some point just to clarify a few things.

As I expected from a Joss Whedon film, the dialogue is fantastic. As I was watching Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in the lab talking about science and the like, I was thinking that their interactions may be my favourite part of the film. Then there was the confrontation between Loki and Natasha Romanoff, and I instantly changed my mind and said to myself that this would be my favourite part of the film. Then there was the group argument in the lab, and changed my mind again. After that, I stopped keeping track.

What is so great about the dialogue in this film is that it doesn’t feel like it is just filling the time between the big action sequences. The conversations are enjoyable in their own right, and that is not just because of Stark’s wit (although that is also awesome). The writing is first-class, and the serious scenes are written just as well, if not better, than the more comedic interactions. As with all of Joss’s work there is just the right blend of humour and drama, and this is a big reason why the film is so enjoyable.

That’s not to say, however, that the action scenes are in any way lacking. Although I wasn’t particularly gripped by the opening action scene in the S.H.E.I.L.D. facility, the later ones aboard the flying ship and in Manhattan were fantastic, especially the latter one. All the Avengers got to play their parts, which is quite an achievement in a show with such an ensemble cast, and I wasn’t left wishing I had seen more of any particular character. Hawkeye was probably the least used, but having him ‘brainwashed’ by Loki for a big part of the film was probably the best use of his character, and prevented him feeling like a spare part.

What is quite interesting about this film is that the fight sequences aren’t always as simple as the Avengers versus Loki and his army; there are a lot of intra-Avengers fights as well. We see Iron Man and Captain America fighting Thor, Thor fighting the Hulk, Black Widow fighting Hawkeye, and that’s just the physical fights. There are also several verbal arguments between the characters, and it’s not until a fair way into the film that they really come together as a unit.

I always think that any kind of fantasy film, or any other kind of fantasy fiction, needs to contain a good amount of humour, as you are dealing with things which are so far from what we experience in our normal lives, and this film has some great comedy moments. From hilarious dialogue, such as Thor’s “He’s adopted” or pretty much everything that comes out of Stark’s mouth, to the more physical comedy, such as Hulk punching Thor or smashing Loki into the floor, this film certainly ticks the box for humour.

As well as the action and the humour, a good dramatic movie should contain some very emotional scenes and cause an emotional reaction from both the characters and the audience. In this film, this is largely done by the death of Agent Coulson. Despite not knowing the Avengers universe very well, it was clear just from this movie what a great guy and a great character Coulson was, and his death was very emotional, especially as the word he was about to say before he died was “avenge”. The reaction of the other characters to his death is equally sad, and really shows how serious the situation they are in is.

While I may not have had the advantage going into this film of knowing much about The Avengers I was perhaps slightly advantaged by knowing Joss Whedon’s work very well. His unique style may have been slightly toned down for a more mainstream audience, but several of the themes of this movie are recognisable from his other works. Obviously, one of the big themes in The Avengers is family, especially family that isn’t blood-related, and this is a common theme in all of Joss’s works. In Buffy you had the Scooby gang, in Angel you had the Angel Investigations team, in Firefly you had the crew of Serenity, and while it was slightly less present in Dollhouse than in his other works, by the end of this series the main characters are very much a family. And much like these works, Joss Whedon created a real family environment within the Avengers; even though they didn’t always get on, and in some cases couldn’t stand each other, when the chips were down they were always there for each other and by the end of the movie they all worked together to save the world.

Another, slightly less obvious theme which Joss Whedon appears to be a fan of is that of whether it is better to be enslaved but happy and at peace or free but unhappy. This theme appeared in Season 4 of Angel when Jasmine caused world peace but by brainwashing everybody into doing what she says, to a certain extent in Serenity with what the Alliance were trying to do on Miranda, and was one of the main themes on Dollhouse, where the Dolls were happy and peaceful, doing yoga and painting etc., but had no free will to make decisions for themselves. In this film, in appears in the form of Loki’s staff and his overall viewpoint. He says several times how freedom is the curse of humanity and how humans crave subjugation, and what his staff does seems to be giving people peace but at the cost of their free will.

To conclude, this is a fantastic film and I really want to watch it again. It doesn’t have an incredibly complicated plot, but its quality is so good that it doesn’t matter. The writing, direction, acting etc. is excellent and, while I probably slightly prefer Joss Whedon’s less mainstream works, I do find myself hoping that he comes back to write and direct the sequel in however many years’ time. Without doubt, this is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time.

FCBD Comics

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In Space No One Can Hear You Slay

In this Free Comic Book Day issue of Buffy, we get a story set entirely on Spike’s spaceship, where one of his insect crew gets bitten by a zompire (or possibly a regular vampire from before the destruction on the Seed, but it seems unlikely) and turns into a, as Spike puts it, “multihyphenated space-bug-zompire-thing”. It’s a slightly strange plot, but Buffy has never been known for it’s sanity, and it is executed fairly well.

As with many of the Buffy comics of late, this comic focuses solely on Buffy and Spike (and the bugs), without Xander, Dawn, or anybody else appearing at all. I will probably talk about this more when the next ‘real’ issue comes out, but for this one stand-alone issue it doesn’t really matter. It’s fairly fun, with the usual great dialogue and art, and although the story is unsurprisingly not especially gripping, it is certainly worth checking out.

Serenity: Firefly Class 03-K64

I have to say I enjoyed this FCBD comic a lot more that the Buffy one, although that is probably in part due to the fact that it has been so long since there’s been anything new from the ‘verse. I still haven’t actually got around to buying and reading Serenity: Those Left Behind, but this comic has inspired me to do so as soon as possible.

Like with the Buffy comic the plot isn’t anything particularly gripping, but that matters even less in this comic. The dialogue is fantastic and Whedon (Zack) really captures the characters from the TV series. In fact, as I read it, I could hear the voices of Nathan Fillion and the other actors and actresses in my head, and I could easily imagine this issue making up part of an episode, it was that well written.

As I said, there isn’t a very big plot in this comic – it’s basically just someone pulling a gun on Mal and trying to steal Serenity – but it does do a nice job of letting us know a little more about what is going on after the film. As we saw in the end of ‘Float Out’ (SPOILERS), Zoe’s pregnant, but she is pregnant in a very ‘Zoe’ way. She warns Mal not to ever call her delicate, and is certainly not the kind of woman who is happy letting everybody else take care of her, and at the same time it is believable of Mal to want to protect his crew. We also see that River is still practically a ninja, and that Inara has stayed with the crew after the events of the film, although it isn’t clear whether or not anything is happening between her and Mal yet.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable comic and makes me miss the ‘verse even more than I already did. I’m not a big fan of the art in this comic, it’s a bit too cartoony for my tastes, but the story and writing is so high quality that it doesn’t matter. I think everybody acknowledges that now it is almost certain we will never get any more live-action Firefly, but I hope we get to see more of Serenity‘s crew in comic form. This stand-alone issue is a testament to just how awesome that would be.

If you want to read the FCBD comics for yourself you can do so for free here: https://digital.darkhorse.com/free/?sort_mode=recent