This week’s episode of Arrow, “Unfinished Business” was written by Bryan Q Miller and Lindsey Allen and directed by Michael Offer. All three are new to Arrow. Miller is not new to the genre, having written for the CW’s Smallville as well as comics for DC, including Teen Titans. Allen worked with Mark Guggenheim on Green Lantern. Offer has a number of action credits on his resume, including Last Resort and The Unit. All this experience may help explain why even a brand new team to Arrow was able to deliver a satisfying episode that once again wove a single theme through multiple story arcs. This week’s theme was summed up by the Count (Seth Gable): “Nothing is what it once was.”
The Count is not who he once was and neither is his drug, Vertigo. However, another theme that runs through the episode is misconceptions built on preconceptions, so Oliver (Stephen Amell) believes that the Count is still a threat and not really crazy and therefore buys into the Count escaping. This results in Oliver being captured by the doctor who is actually behind the new version of the drug and Diggle (David Ramsey) having to kill to save both of them. On the other hand, Oliver is not able to kill the Count in the end because he realizes that it would be a cold blooded killing. The Count is no longer a threat to anyone, and Oliver is not simply a cold blooded killer.
Another facet of the theme this week is that people can and do change, but sometimes they get stuck in the past. Diggle is obsessed with finding Deadshot. He keeps this a secret from Oliver even though he’s enlisted Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) help. He is so consumed with finding him that he fails to come when Oliver needs him at the Aquarium. Just as a side note, the scenes in the actual aquarium were filmed in the Vancouver Aquarium, which I’ve visited. Diggle tells Oliver that he can’t get on with his life until he avenges his brother’s death. He doesn’t tell Oliver about his meeting with Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson), however, and this may be a problem in the future if both the military and Oliver and Diggle are both hunting Deadshot.
Anderson, who is a very good actor, worked with director Offer on The Unit. She provides another layer to Diggle’s backstory, so I hope we’ll see more of her. It’s a great scene between Amell and Ramsey when Oliver tells Diggle that he’s making Deadshot a priority because it’s a priority to Diggle. I really like the way their partnership is growing. It’s also a nice way that Oliver is changing, letting people back into his life.
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This week’s episode of Criminal Minds opens with a middle-aged gentleman closing his convenient store for the evening. When out of the blue, two kids on their bikes drive up to Anthony Rango. The two boys would like some candy. The store owner reopens the door for them to sneak in for a few seconds. The boys rush into his establishment, and after gathering their sweets, they immediately leave the scene. The joyous man now with key in hand and ready to lock the door, he gets hit from behind. The unsub beats him and drags Mr. Rango by his feet back into his store. The unsub, Rodney Harris, closes the metal security door.
Next we see, Morgan trying to put a window into a window frame in his apartment. Rossi knocks on an adjacent window, shaking a bottle of alcohol. The two agents smile. When they’re ready to enjoy their beverage, Morgan receives a call from Garcia on his cell.
At the BAU headquarters, the team is already assembled around the round table. Garcia begins this week’s slideshow with two male victims: Anthony and Michael. Both were badly beaten and found with literally their pants down.
The team is off to Chicago, Illinois-Morgan’s old stomping ground. Before they arrive, we see an African-American father outside of a diner hugging his son goodbye. After the hug, his wife walks their son across the street. The unsub is sitting in a parked car. He is wearing a gray sweatshirt with the hood partially covering his face. He looks angry. We see, in his side mirrors, a shadow of a man boxing.
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It’s completely ordinary for television shows, or any serialized form of storytelling, really, to take a little breather after a big episode. Breather episodes typically involve some sort of emotional fallout, or perhaps a reevaluation of goals and relationships. They give the show time to reflect on recent events, and they normally afford an opportunity for some measure of character growth. Essentially, they’re narrative way stations between major plot developments.
“The Huntress Returns” was such an episode. And it was ridiculously dull.
If you’ve been watching (and reading) along with me for the past 16 episodes, you know I’m generally more interested in the melodrama portion of Arrow’s action + melodrama set-up, and as a result, I was rather eagerly looking forward to seeing the aftershocks of “Dead to Rights” playing out a bit. And those aftershocks did happen, but to nowhere near the extent that maybe they should have. I say this knowing full well that they’re something that will continue to weigh heavily over the rest of the season, but I just wanted more.
Instead, “The Huntress Returns” brought Helena back to Starling City. It turns out that Daddy Bertinelli cut a deal with the feds and was going to get himself a little witness protection in exchange for blabbing about some of the regional crime families, and Helena was none too pleased that he was going to get a second chance at a life. She wanted Oliver’s help bringing Bertinelli down, permanently, and was willing to hurt anyone Oliver cared about to get him to cooperate.
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I am probably the worst person to write an NCIS review because of how much I love the show, now in its 10th season. I have tried to be as unbiased as possible. This week’s episode of NCIS featured Matt Jones and Andrea Bogart in The Bahamas. Here at home the guest stars were Jay Avocone, who played Gibbs’ barber Frankie Dean and Derek Magyar as his son Cameron. I have to say that splitting the team on two investigations really added to the show. While in Washington, dealing with the mounting evidence against Cameron, Gibbs also had to deal with Metro PD Detective Quinton Shard (Mathew St. Patrick) hounding him for the name of his suspect. Gibbs is trying to be discreet so that Cameron doesn’t find out his father suspects him.
There are a lot of deep emotional moments to consider here. If your mother or father thought you might be a serial killer, how would you feel? How would you feel if all the evidence in a murder case pointed to one of your children? My favorite part of this is Ziva and McGee telling Gibbs that they will do whatever he needs them to, even though this is not an official case.
Meanwhile, in the Bahamas, Tony gets to be the DiNozzo everyone has grown to love. We all know by now, having seen the other side of him, that Tony’s gloating over the bikini clad girls by the pool is just to make Tim and Ziva jealous. I think here he was testing Ziva’s reaction. He has exhibited a lot of jealousy over her secrecy and her boyfriends; he wants to see if he gets a rise out of her. Tim is another story; Tony needs to make Tim feel like he’s missing out. The chance to play Probie pranks on Dorneget is an area of delight for Tony, and a blast from the past for viewers.
In the end, I have to say, as sappy as it sounds I teared up a bit. Sorry, but this episode really makes you think about relationships. From Tony’s need to get attention from Ziva and Tim, to Gibbs’ desire to bring Frankie and his son closer, to Abby’s need to console Vance for his loss, it was a great episode.
NCIS season 10 put Ducky and Jimmy in danger in episode 16, “Detour,” which saw the team working to find them and solve a murder at the same time.
The victim, Lieutenant Gordon Roth, shocked two plumbers and their customer when he stumbled over to their van and drank drain cleaner. However, as Ducky and Jimmy discovered, he had been shot and in a fight. They learned from his CO, Lisa Cleveland, that he dealt with highly classified materials, but as they looked deeper into the case and his history, they discovered that Roth had been taking photos in a park two miles away from the crime scene before he was involved in a high-speed car chase for blowing a stop sign. Once they realized Ducky and Jimmy had been taken, they had to work on solving the case while finding them, and then things got a bit more complicated when they discovered Roth wasn’t really Roth. He had an offshore bank account filled up primarily by Cuban sources, and his signatures didn’t match; at some point in the two weeks between his final interview and his induction into the naval academy, the switch was made.
So what happened to fake Roth? Well, as it turned out, they had the blood of his shooter. Though Mike tried to deny that he was involved, he really should’ve just looked in a mirror before trying to get that one by Gibbs. He had a black eye and had clearly been in a fight, and he finally admitted that Roth had been sleeping with his wife-Lisa, his CO-and when he confronted him, it got physical. Roth had the gun, and during the struggle, it went off.
As for Ducky and Jimmy, “Detour” offered a closer look at just what happens with them to and from crime scenes. They flip bones to figure out who drives. They take turns on controlling the radio. They do crossroads (and Jimmy wants to dissect Ducky’s brain when he dies). It’s lighthearted, it’s fun, and it’s something new even after 10 seasons. But that all changed with this episode as they had to pull over for a flat tire-which Ducky discovered was due to a bullet-and were then promptly kidnapped and forced to drive to a cabin. Once there, their legs were chained to the floor while they were forced to perform the autopsy on Roth. Anna wanted answers, and while Ducky did tell her some things, they also used what they had to their advantage and got the kidnappers to clear the room by opening up the stomach. They couldn’t stand the smell, and once they were alone, Ducky told Jimmy they had to go on the offensive and use what they had: the victim.
Criminal Minds season 8 has just teased the recurring unsub, the Replicator, until now, until episode 16, “Carbon Copy” which saw the team take a more active role in the case.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
JJ received flowers and the card read “Zugzwang.” The phone call Reid received hadn’t been about Maeve. It had been the Replicator; he was watching their every move. Garcia did determine that the flowers had been bought with a stolen credit card and a prepaid phone traced to Philadelphia, where the fourth victim was found exsanguinated and with her eyelids removed. Unlike the other copycat murders (the mouth sewn shut, transplanted leg, and a human marionette), this one wasn’t found in the same area as the original kills.
The Replicator was a narcissist, patient, and had the time and money to travel. But then a second victim was found, and the local detective, Rizzo, didn’t hide the fact that he was unhappy to see the FBI there (but later revealed that his partner was killed while they were working a federal case). And then a third victim was found, with Hotch’s photo, which the unsub had trimmed and added to a pile of photos for the team, on her
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Tonight’s episode of Arrow, “Dead to Rights”, was written by Geoff Johns and directed by Glen Winter. Johns also co-wrote the teleplay to “Muse of Fire” with Mark Guggenheim, an episode that also featured both Tommy (Colin Donnell) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Moira (Susanna Thompson). Johns’ script and Winter’s direction resulted in an episode that delivered a number of terrific performances from Donnell, Barrowman, Thompson, and Stephen Amell. This was Winter’s first time directing, and I felt his strongest scenes were the more emotional, character-driven ones. The initial fight sequence was good, though it felt like the helicopter got in the way, but I felt the fight sequence with China White (Kelly Hu) was too choppy and cut up to really enjoy or appreciate.
This episode was very much about trust and the bonds of family, and that played into every character’s decisions. The loss of a family member and the subsequently strained relationship with a parent was a theme that touched on Tommy’s relationship with his father, Oliver’s relationship with his father, and Laurel’s relationship with her mother. In addition, Diggle (David Ramsey) is also confronted with his brother’s death again when Lawton/Deadshot (Michael Rowe) turns up alive. Ramsey is terrific in the scene when Oliver breaks the news to Diggle. I’m also very much enjoying the chemistry between Diggle and Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). It feels very much like the team is becoming a family themselves, especially as Diggle begins training Smoak to be able to defend herself in the event she has to fight to protect herself.
One of the things about the show that has impressed me from the beginning is the complexity of the characters. This is a tribute to both the writing and the acting on the show. The characters are anything but black and white, stereotypical comic book good and bad guys. Instead, they are very real characters with complex motivations, and one of the ways that this manifests itself is in how difficult it is to label a character either good or bad. This in itself holds a mirror to the Vigilante. Is he bad, for committing violence, or good, for defending the city?
Up to this episode, Malcolm Merlyn seemed to be the straightforward bad guy as the head of the “Undertaking” and as the Dark Archer. He seemed to have no fatherly feelings towards Tommy and even tried to get Tommy to disband the charity that his mother had set up. This episode shows Malcolm as the head of the “Undertaking”, telling his fellow conspirators that “There is hope on the horizon. We won’t fail this city.” Yet, while making his speech for Humanitarian of the Year award he says “I haven’t done enough for this city. I’ve failed it. I’m going to do more.” This echoes Oliver’s tagline to the villains that “You have failed this city.”
Last week’s installment of Arrow was easily the best of the series so far, thanks mainly to the strength of the flashback scenes and the prominent role played by Manu Bennett’s Slade Wilson. With the focus shifting back in favor of the present day material again this week, it was a safe bet that there would be a certain decline in quality. “Dodger” was a strictly average episode that had the misfortune of following such a strong one.
Perhaps recognizing the fact that none of the various plot threads were particularly compelling on their own, the writers crammed this episode with numerous concurrent storylines. Chief among these was the emergence of a new villain on the Starling City scene, the Dodger. Like just about every baddie the show has to offer, the Dodger is inspired by a comic book character.
In this case, he was a minor foe from the pages of Green Arrow & Black Canary a few years ago. He didn’t really amount to anything more in this episode than he did in the comics. Even so, Dodger was a fun rogue for Ollie to clash with, one who had enough wits to lead our hero on a brief but merry chase. James Callis (best known as Battlestar Galactica’s Dr. Baltar) brought a nice touch of roguish charm to the character. We didn’t learn much about the villain besides the fact that he prefers a very specific type of artifact. But the fact that he didn’t die in the climax at least leaves the door open for more Dodger capers.
In between clashes with the Dodger, Ollie and Diggle had the chance to hit the town and go on dates. I suppose you could consider this a slightly delayed Valentine’s episode. It was fun to see a lighter side to their shared adventures, though both romantic struggles fell pretty flat in the end. With Diggle, the problem is that his former sister-in-law was and is a very poorly developed character with no real personality or defining traits other than that she’s pretty and has a “complicated” relationship with him. Nothing in this episode did much to change that.
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After being preempted last week by the premiere for Survivor: Caramoan, Criminal Minds returned tonight with “Broken”. Directed by Larry Teng, the same guy that gave us the really creepy episode “God Complex” earlier this season, tonight’s episode was equally disturbing and well done.
Jeanne Tripplehorn’s character has been woefully underdeveloped this season, but this episode did give us a little bit of a peek into her day job. Not unlike the original Criminal Minds lead Jason Gideon (Played by the great Mandy Patinkin), Blake appears to be a teacher at a university in her spare time. However she’s quickly called away from her class to assist on the case! This is just like the very first episode of Criminal Minds!
The team makes their way to Austin, Texas to check out an Unsub who’s been killing young men and women after social gatherings. It was really cool how they figured out the code with the watches, and I loved all of the creepy flashbacks to the Unsubs father and Isabella Grant, but then that’s where the episode got a bit too preachy and heavy handed for me.
At first I was impressed how well they were handling this hot-button issue. The conflict that the Unsub was facing was an interesting one to discuss and explore, and his relationship with Mitch was also very effective, but I really thought that the whole “Reorientation Camp” was a bit too far.
NCIS season 10 saw Vance return to work in episode 15, “Hereafter,” but the job at hand wasn’t the only thing on his mind when he found something Jackie hadn’t told him about before her death.
During a training exercise, a Marine, Gabe Crowe, collapsed, but no one called until half an hour later. Were they trying to revive him? Ducky found defensive wounds and cuts on his legs, signs he was in a fight before he fell. They soon learned that he had been giving his mother cash each month to cover costs and that cash came from illegally fighting, as Private Holland revealed to Gibbs. Holland said that Crowe returned to base the night before his death pretty beaten up.
Ducky found a fresh wound on Crowe’s side that had been stitched up. Thanks to video found online, they found the place of the fights: Williams Fruit Company. The owner had no idea what was going on, but one of his workers, Charles “Chucky Bang” Kang did. He and Crowe did fight a few times, but Crowe had stopped fighting three months ago and Chucky had an alibi for the night of his death. However, Crowe wasn’t the only one fighting. So was Holland, according to reports-and Holland was the one who called in Crowe’s death half an hour late.
Holland insisted he would never hurt Crowe or anyone in his unit, and his arms were clean. He explained they had been doing everything they could to save Crowe, but it was too late. Ducky had sent fragments he found to Abby, who reported that the weapon was made out of fiberglass or a composite material. She also revealed that it looked like Crowe had stitched up his own wound-and had suffered the same injury in the same area more than once.