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The 100 Returns with Retcons, Er “Echoes”

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The 100 Season 4 Episode 1 Review, “Echoes”

Content warning: This review discusses attempted suicide as depicted on the show.

When last we left the krus, Clarke had (once again) saved the world by (once again) pulling a lever, but it didn’t really fix things because (once again) crisis looms on the horizon. Only this time it’s something new another nuclear apocalypse! Wait, wasn’t that the origin story for this entire series? Oh well. At least this time, Clarke Griffin is around to take all the blame save the day! Something different! Wait, never mind. That happens every season. Hmmmm, let’s pretend this season is a commentary on climate change. That was totes planned, right? Sure, whatever. Even though none of this makes any sense because there is no way that nuclear reactors would have survived the first nuclear apocalypse, much less 100 years with no humans to control them (except there’s a magical explanation for that! Just wait.).

Suspend your disbelief, Gretchen!

Fine, there. It’s suspended. Let’s get started.

What Happened

One recap later (including the information that they have 6 months to live), cut to Octavia climbing down the outside of Polis Tower to find Indra being taken down from her cross. Indra looks pretty bad. Seriously, is she dying? Either way, she seems glad Octavia killed Pike. Meanwhile, Clarke and Bellamy waltz out the front door of Polis Tower to gaze upon the moaning, lost looking people wandering around the city. They’re trying to decide whether to tell everyone the world is ending (while surrounded by people who could overhear them…).

Bellamy thinks ALIE might be lying, but that they shouldn’t tell people regardless. He’s pretty sure they can survive either way. Clarke thanks him for helping keep her alive, but just when she’s feeling safe, all the Grounders in Polis seem to know that she shut down the City of Light (hereafter CoL). They blame her for all the people who were there being either unconscious or dead (it’s not clear who ends up in which situation, but all the Skaikru peeps are fine).

In Arkadia, Jasper apologizes to Harper, who is totes okay with him smashing her into the wall and pistol whipping her. Raven is still doing her hacker thing and making sure the people from the CoL are okay. Raven is also fine with her pain now because it reminds her she’s alive. And Jasper is really jealous that ALIE ‘upgraded’ her brain but not his even though Raven was the one who literally hosted ALIE’s ‘consciousness’ for a while. Whatever.

Everyone else magically got down from Polis Tower and the adults (Abby and Kane) are worried about the Grounders turning on them. Raven contacts Bellamy to ask how everyone is doing (Good job remembering people Raven). Surprise! Roan is alive somehow. Echo attacks Clarke and seems to be the one in charge. She doesn’t want Abby to save Roan. She lets Clarke go (for some reason) and then blames Skaikru for everything bad that’s happened because she speaks for Azgeda now (for some reason). Oh and she’s apparently one of the queensguard, and claims Polis for Azgeda. Some of the Grounders try to stand up to her but get killed.

Jaha tries to help a Grounder and gets spit on. He seems hurt by it, but like, what did you expect dude? You were the literal villain last season. Murphy tells him to float himself (again, understandable). He resigns himself to clearing up dead bodies.

Pictured: Jaha at work.

Emori has to leave Polis because she’s Trikru, and we finally learn why she took the chip: Jaha promised to take her to Murphy. Murphy wants to take her to Arkadia. (Apparently this is the Grounder/Skaikru romance we’re supposed to care about this season; I actually don’t mind, they’re cute. Fingers crossed Emori doesn’t die.) She agrees to go with him. There’s definitely a way in/out of Polis Tower because Skaikru has now holed themselves up inside the temple. Kane and Abby (Kabby) gets a nice romantic beat. Clarke looks constipated? Confused? Resigned? I’m not sure.

Indra and Octavia show up to join Kabby and Clarke (why?). They all consider handing over the flame to Azgeda, but Clarke says it won’t help. Abby picks up on Clarke not telling them something and Clarke admits that the world is ending. Bellamy is still skeptical about ALIE; Clarke believes her. Clarke advises surrendering to the Grounders.

Cut to Jaha carrying a linen wrapped body he claims is Ontari to Echo, who has him beaten in thanks. In case we’d forgotten that all Grounders are inherently violent. Echo learns that Skaikru is surrendering and goes to meet with them, but will only talk to Bellamy. Jaha tells Kane that “it worked, she’s in” , and we see Octavia cutting open the linen cloth. She was the ‘dead body’! Ngl, that was actually a good con. She kills a bunch of Azgeda to let Clarke and Abby in to save Roan. It is roughly late afternoon outside, which you need to know because…

After the commercial break it’s suddenly pitch dark. Murphy/Emori are trying to sneak out of Polis. Finding out about Pike being killed must have revived her because Indra is looking none the worse for the wear and is helping Kane advise Bellamy how to talk to Echo. Kane says offer her anything to keep her occupied, Indra is more cautious. I will say it was super polite of Echo to wait literally hours to talk to Bellamy. Echo apologizes to Bellamy for betraying him by saying she was following orders, which he says won’t cut it.

According to Echo, the CoL was the only thing keeping them from fighting each other (and not, you know, their choices) because not that it’s gone, Skaikru and Azgeda simply must be at odds. Bellamy then gives her the terms: Skaikru surrenders and accepts Azgeda rule so long as Azgeda accepts Skaikru as 13th clan. They’ll even give Azgeda guns! Echo refuses them (why??? these are really reasonable terms???), but also claims “no one wants war” (??).

Back in Roan’s sickroom, Abby and Clarke finally dig out the bullet from Roan’s shoulder (it must have really been in there for it to take hours). In the name of not wanting war, Echo threatens to kill Bellamy if Skaikru doesn’t lay down their guns. Skaikru lays down their guns just as Grounders bust in to Roan’s sickroom. Echo starts to kill Clarke but Roan wakes up just in time to halt it! Whew! That was close. Good thing Clarke has all that Plot Armor to save her from dying at Echo’s hands twice in one day. Roan is supes worried about Ontari, but not so much that he lets Clarke fully explain that Jaha killed her under ALIE’s orders. He also magically forgets that Kane was under ALIE’s control when he shot him. His memory lapse allows him to be really mad at Clarke.

Meanwhile, in Arkadia: Harper/Monty sex! Raven walks in on them and tells them to meet her in engineering because they’re all gonna die (way to ruin the mood Raven). Cut to Jasper listening to sad music, looking at a painting of “The Starry Night”, and sticking a gun to his chin. Murphy knocks on the door, interrupting him, to summon him to engineering. Raven explains that all the nuclear plants in the world were specially built to withstand both a nuclear attack and last exactly 100 years (convenient). Raven also explains that Skaikru could survive yellow radiation levels (current) but they’d all die when it hits red, which is in 6 months. Also, there’s no way to stop it. Jasper laughs because now he doesn’t have to kill himself, the world is going to do it for him (like, this is really aggressive nihilism for an 18 year old).

Back in Polis, Echo offers to ride down all of Skaikru that’s not locked up and warns Roan about appearing weak for not doing so. He proves he’s not weak by pressing a red hot poker to his chest (he’s so hardcore, guys). Echo calls Roan a ‘bargaining chip’ when talking about his exile, which apparently hurt his mom to do. Good thing they established all that antagonist between Nia and Roan last season to make all the sense of this (I don’t know what’s happening). Echo then offers to help Roan rule and tells him how to do it: take out Trikru and Skaikru.

Speaking of Skaikru, they’re all in prison and Clarke is fiddling with the flame and crying. Abby asks her what’s wrong and Clarke tells her she loved Lexa. Abby says she knew (sure, why not). Echo and some Grounders take Clarke captive while Bellamy yells ineffectually. Clarke is taken to the throne room, and Roan is antagonistic for no reason. Clarke warns him another nuclear apocalypse is coming, and that Azgeda needs her help. People are shouting “jus drein, jus daun” outside. Roan says he won’t survive if he lets her live (he’s probably not wrong). She offers him the flame in exchange for her help and Skaikru’s safety. Roan takes it, and announces to everyone that he accepts Clarke’s terms and will keep the flame safe until another nightblood is old enough to become commander.

Echo delivers a cool looking amulet to Bellamy so that he can pass in Azgeda lands safely. She asks if they’ll be able to trust each other and when he says no, she looks sad? (WHY?) Kane tells Bellamy to ‘turn the page’ and move on. Clarke and Bellamy leave to go to Arkadia and help Raven save the world. In the final shot, a couple of Grounders with radiation poisoning wander through a desert in Egypt and are horrifyingly disintegrated by a wave of fire presumably from a nuclear facility melting down.

So……

 

Can we not have a suicide attempt right off the bat followed by a nihilism so aggressive that a teenager is actively happy he’s going to die a horrible death? This is a show aimed at teens ffs.

With that off my chest, on to things that make me less angry. Holy offscreen developments batman! Echo was queensgaurd all along! Roan was reinstated as heir! We know why Emori was chipped! Abby knew Clarke loved Lexa all along! There were Grounders in other countries all along!

It actually is.

It probably seems like I’m nitpicking right off the bat, but these are some really convenient plot points that we had no idea about at the end of last season. Echo being queensguard makes zero sense. Was she Nia’s queensguard? She has to be, because that’s the only Azgeda queen on the show. Ontari wasn’t the queen, she was the commander. But if Echo was Nia’s guard, how did she end up captured by Mt. Weather in S2? Were they poaching on Ice Nation land as well as on Trikru? If not, why wasn’t she guarding Nia? Why are we only hearing about this now? Oh, right, because it gives her the authority to speak for Azgeda and ‘advise’ Roan (i.e., tell him what to do).

Roan’s backstory confused me watching this, especially when Echo called him a “bargaining chip”. I had to go online to look it up and apparently in an interview last year, Rothenberg explained that Lexa made Roan’s banishment a condition of Nia and Azgeda joining the Coalition. Good thing they took the time to explain that on the show instead of just randomly referring to information given outside of show canon.

What makes even less sense is Echo’s utter resistance to making peace with Skaikru. I get it, they’re ‘bitter enemies’ or whatever, but she has the gall to say “No one wants war.” Honey, no. No one is making you fight bb. You could make this war go away if you decided not to fight with Skaikru. It’s that simple. Echo could just not kill Skaikru. Azgeda could let it go. If Echo didn’t want war, she could have literally accepted Skaikru’s super reasonable peace terms. Skaikru was surrendering, offered to acknowledge Azgeda’s rule and give them guns, and the only stipulation was basically “let us join you and don’t kill us”. What else did Echo want? She makes it sound like antagonism between Azgeda and Skaikru is this inevitable force that only the City of Light could stop. But it isn’t? Azgeda could just…I don’t know…not fight Skaikru?

That’s not even the first instance of someone making an inexplicable choice for Plot Reasons. Bellamy’s decision not to tell everyone the world was ending may have staved off panic, but it got them all thrown in jail and almost killed. Because keeping things to himself works out so well for him and his friends. Echo decides not to kill Clarke the first time because…she didn’t want to get her jacket bloody? But then she slits that other lady’s throat so…idk.

I also can’t get over the huge time jump from late afternoon to literally pitch dark. Like, it was at least four hours in between when Echo went to parlay with Skaikru and Kane/Indra sent Bellamy back to talk to her. I guess it took them that long to decide what to say? But it also means it took that long for Abby/Clarke to dig a single bullet out of Roan’s shoulder. They must be rusty with their field surgery? Or maybe Clarke is too busy having triggering flashbacks to the day her lover died. Seriously, who decided to send Clarke in there? And it isn’t as if she was actively helping Abby for all that time. She’s just standing behind her telling her to hurry up.

At least we got to enjoy the “there’s no way down from Polis Tower, it’s all completely blocked” retcon. For real. I couldn’t stop laughing. The first shot of the episode Octavia climbing down the outside of the tower, only for Clarke and Bellamy to waltz out the front door 2 seconds later. What? Why? Why did Octavia have to climb down? Did she just think it was more badass? And speaking of Octavia, I have no idea where this ‘dark assassin turn’ is going to come from. Because right now, she looks pretty cozy with the rest of Skaikru. She seems…not all that mad at Bellamy anymore either. Maybe they had a pep talk/reconciliation off screen.

Speaking of pep talks, it looks like the show really is going full scale “Bellamy is redeemed” with Kane’s “turn the page” moment. I mean, it’s nice that Kane and Bellamy are back to having a mentor/mentee relationships (I always liked that dynamic), but I still can’t get over the aggressive erasure and minimizing of Bellamy’s actions. In an interview just last week, Rothenberg had the gall to call Bellamy’s participation in genocide a “bad decision …he’s maybe made”. What utter bullshit. Let Bellamy feel the weight of what he did, let the show acknowledge it. That’s the only acceptable thing to do after an act that heinous. It’s why Bellamy’s self righteous response to Echo’s comment that she was “just following orders” when she betrayed him fell flat. Because Bellamy did far worse and he has yet to acknowledge and truly apologize for it. Much less seek true reconciliation.

Finally, I have to say that the explanation for the nuclear reactors exploding is the most absurd case of plot contrivance I have ever seen. There just happen to be specially made reactors that just happen to have been made to withstand a nuclear apocalypse and just happen to only last 100 years? You’re telling me all the nuclear reactors in the world just happen to have been replaced with these special new reactors three years before the last nuclear apocalypse? Because that’s the only way all of them just happen to be melting down at the exact same time 97 years later. Fuck you if you think I’m going to swallow that. It’s stupid.

Why would human beings ever design a nuclear reactor like this? If it can withstand a nuclear apocalypse, why design it with only a hundred year lifespan? Why not make it last indefinitely? It just feels like one of the writers realized there was a plot hole and decided to fill it with the most specific set of details possible. Rather than, say, the most reasonable. Like maybe that these are nuclear reactors that can last indefinitely, but one of them has malfunctioned and the chain reaction is going to cause all the rest of them to explode because they all just happen to be within blast radius distance. It’s still not perfect, but it makes more sense than this.

And if there are other nuclear reactors already exploding in other parts of the world (as we saw in the end), how do they still have 6 months left? That one would be leaking enough radiation to cause problems. Especially if there are other ones in Europe and Asia exploding as well, which we saw in ALIE’s simulation. There were at least four exploding already. 6 months seems remarkably lenient for this many reactors already melting down.

I don’t know what else to say but that it’s this giant game of idiot ball, retconning, and let’s pretend this never happened and the audience has forgotten the context. Very little of this makes sense unless you’re squinting really hard or don’t care about it making sense. Then again, this is from the producer who wants to be the next D&D, so what else can we expect?

I think he feels more about Clarke’s confession of love for Lexa than he does about the 300 Grounders he murdered.

Fine, I’ll say something nice. Clarke didn’t get yelled at! The only people who blamed her were Grounders! I did appreciate Clarke getting to confess to Abby that she loved Lexa…even if Abby ‘knowing’ makes no sense. It was a touching moment. I adore my Griffin ladies. They deserve better. And Bellamy’s face was priceless. Oh! And Kabby. I like Kabby. That was sweet. Also, I’m glad to see Raven is in decent psychological health. Protect Raven Reyes 2k5ever. Roan seems pretty cool; I liked him last season and hope he stays interesting. See? I have nice things to say.

Bits & Bobs

  • Saying ‘Lexa’ count: 6
  • Saying ‘the flame’ count: 4
  • “I want what’s best for my people, same as you” (or somesuch): 2
  • Where was Miller??
  • The whole “kill Wanheda to gain her power” thing is back. Yay for being back in the S3 premiere.
  • The sound was really weird, and it wasn’t just my TV. Certain dialogue was crisp but sometimes it was like they were mumbling. I had to turn closed captioning on.
  • Parts of the episode between commercial breaks were really short
  • “Grandfather’s crown” not “mother’s crown”? Way to erase a named female character on screen with some rando we’ve never met. Roan’s grandfather’s name is Theo, apparently, and he’s a big deal because Roan mentioned him in his motivational speech to Polis.
  • Raven’s knee hurts again now. I’m sad she has pain, but at least it’s more consistent.
  • Lexa had a name for the nuclear apocalypse? since when?
  • The name “Echoes” seems to be a reference to some visual echoes from last season: Abby re-bandaging Kane/Clarke re-bandaging Bellamy, Jaha carrying shrouded Octavia/Bellamy carrying shrouded Lincoln (does this mean Octavia is going to die?), Roan cauterizing his own wound in front of Echo/in front of Clarke, Clarke with a bag over her head led to the throne room to the leader of Polis: Lexa/Roan, the Wanheda reference. There may be more, too.

Working Theories

Could be Cool: Not sure yet where the dark Octavia is going to come from, but I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I’m tired of the female revenge is empowerment trope. On the other, I want her to go full Greek tragedy, ending with her killing/wounding Bellamy which leads to her seeing the error of her ways, but not before she’s doomed herself. I’m not sure Rothenberg has the chops for this, though.

Pretty Sure: If you haven’t seen yet, there are supposed ‘leaks’ out the other day that say SPOILERS

Click here to show/hide contents
Clarke dies while sending the rest of the team up to space in a rocket. Neither of these would surprise me, honestly. I’m actually willing to bet on it.

Total Crack: Octavia is secretly pregnant with Lincoln’s baby, who ends up being the next nightblood to inherit the flame.

So how about it, do you have any theories or predictions you want to share? If so, head on over to “The 100 S4 Theories” topic on the community page and start talking! All theories are welcome, whether serious or salty. Just make sure you tell us which it is 😉

See you all next week for “Heavy Lies the Crown”!


Images Courtesy of the CW

Bi, she/her. Gretchen is a Managing Editor for the Fandomentals. An unabashed nerdy fangirl and aspiring sci/fi and fantasy author, she has opinions about things like media, representation, and ethics in storytelling.

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Television

Fall 2017’s TV Successes and Disappointments

Shahar

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November is a fun time in television. While shows are winding down for their winter hiatuses and networks are picking up scripts or pilots for next year’s shows, they’re also ordering “back 9s” for new shows premiering each fall. That is, the 9 episodes to bring a 13 episode series order to a full season. (Though the first full season of a show can run as short as 16 episodes these days.) Getting a back 9 generally indicates high renewal chances if the ratings stay good enough for the network. Renewals and new show pickups are announced in May during Upfronts.

Upfronts this year was a weird time. The major broadcast networks picked up the least number of new shows in five years. 19 of the shows cancelled were one season and done. Though we’re only three months into the 2017-2018 TV year, I have a feeling next May will have similar results.

After all, of 19 new shows, only 8 received back 9s/full season orders. Only two of those have received second season pick ups thus far.

Successes

ABC’s The Good Doctor received a full season (18 eps) pick up after only two episodes. Its success is unsurprising because last year’s hit was a family feel-good (though very dramatic) show. I can’t speak to the actual content but it’s clear that somewhere, a lot of Nielsen families are loving it; its yet to move below a 1.8 in the 18-49 demo, which is the most important piece of measuring a show’s success.

There’s only been one other success not related to an already existing franchise, and that’s Fox’ The Orville which received a second season renewal halfway through its first season. CBS’ Young Sheldon, a prequel to BBT received a full season pickup after one special premiere airing, and NBC’Will and Grace revival received a renewal before even airing its first new episode.

Disappointments

Everything else. No, really.

ABC

ABC had two “limited season” shows that if successful would have likely seen a second year. Unfortunately, the network pulled Ten Days in the Valley from the schedule, and will air its remaining episodes in December. The much maligned Inhumans just finished its season but with terrible ratings, barely making a 0.5, and on ABC nonetheless.

The network did give a few more episodes to Kevin (Probably) and The Mayor. This likely only indicates the need to fill airtime. Kevin‘s additional episodes give it a full season (16 eps) but The Mayor is finished.

CBS

Me Myself and I holds the honor of first cancellation this year, and 9JKL received three more episodes. That really only means the network doesn’t want to open the timeslot up yet. Consider it done, too.

Among the three dramas, two are very slight renewals. Both Seal Team (22 eps) and S.W.A.T (20 eps) received back 9s, but neither have ratings to call home about. CBS expects a 0.9 demo later in a show’s life, but not within six and three episodes respectively.

Wisdom of the Crowd’s ratings were subpar and with the allegations against lead Jeremy Piven, there’s no way the show was going to get a back 9. It didn’t even garner a mention in the first press article from CBS.

The CW

Sigh. Valor, one of four military/special ops themed shows premiered to a 0.3 (!) rating. Dynasty (also 0.3) on the other hand did receive a back 9, but the show is part of a deal with Netflix. Its renewal chances are dependent on the rest of the shows.

Fox

Ghosted and The Gifted were this network’s only other fall premieres. Though their ratings aren’t as exciting as other shows, both are firmly in the middle of currently airing Fox shows, and The Gifted will finish airing its 13 episode first season in January. Fox has yet to make an announcement on Ghosted so anything could happen. (Likely it’s done.)

NBC

Law and Order: True Crime, the lowest rated of NBC’s new shows, and The Brave just above it failed to receive back 9s. The former is a limited season show so a final decision won’t be public until May. A press release for NBC’s mid-season premieres states the same for the latter. However, Brave was always meant to be a back 9 contender.

Looking Forward

With only 1 show per Big 4 “winning” the fall, and only 8 receiving back 9s, the network’s mid-season shows must succeed. NBC’s Rise, a mix between Glee and Friday Night Lights, should be an easy ratings win for the network especially airing after This is Us finishes its season. From one feel good story to the next. The CW has Black Lightning starting in January, which should also do well considering the amazing cast and The Flash lead in.

Otherwise we’re still waiting for announcements on the rest of the new shows’ premieres.

It’s also clear that the networks’ attempt at reaching certain audiences via its military/special ops shows fell short. ValorThe BraveSeal Team, and S.W.A.T. all failed to bring in high ratings. No surprise if only one of the latter two receives a renewal, similar to when last year’s time travel shows all died except a last minute un-cancellation for Timeless.

Of course any one of the shows I marked as done could still conceivably receive a second season. That’s in the case of an across the board failure for spring premieres/shows past their first season. It’s clear live TV watching (what advertisers care about and thus what I care about) has decreased every year since Nielsen has calculated ratings. The 13% overall decrease in the 18-49 demo this year, however, is slightly more than the usual 5-10% decrease per year. So either shows need to be more interesting, Nielsen needs to expand its ratings measurement, or both.

Either way, mid-season shows must succeed or networks will be operating at major losses financially. Without inventive and entertaining pilots, 2018-2019 is just as likely to fail.


Image Courtesy of ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, and NBC

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The Flash Shows How The Thinker Came To Be

Matthew

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After last week’s horribly boring episode, “Therefore I Am” comes to formally introduces everyone to the mystery that The Thinker is. We learn much more about the villain and his helpful partner, the Mechanic, but we don’t figure out his main goal. Still, a better The Flash episode as the show closes in on its fall finale.

Recap

This flashback ridden episode starts with a less than inspired Professor Clifford DeVoe, barely catching anyone’s attention during class. He is joined for lunch by his wife, Marlise, and Clifford whips out a design: a cap that could enhance his own intellect given Mrs. DeVoe can manufacture the device. In the present, we pick up from last week, with Barry and Joe interviewing the DeVoes.

Their first meeting seems to go well, as in nothing quite looked off from the DeVoes, but Barry is suspicious. Iris assigns all of Team Flash their own missions to dig deeper into Clifford just to be thorough. A new peek at four years previously shows Mrs. DeVoe had built Clifford’s thinking cap, but they would need a huge energy source for it. Thankfully — or should I say thinkfully —Harrison Wells/Eobard Thawne is right on the verge of launching the particle accelerator.

Barry decides to pay DeVoe’s class a visit to ask him a few other questions and seize the opportunity to grab his mug for a DNA’s test. However, the test comes up empty as his genetic material doesn’t fit what one would expect from meta-DNA.

A new flashback goes straight to a scene from the pilot: the press conference Wells held before the launch. After Barry ran off to retrieve Iris’s bag, Mrs. DeVoe asked Wells questions as she is concerned about the safety of the accelerator. This scene is particularly interesting because Wells’s attitude is a nice throwback to him being a villain from the future. His compliments for DeVoe’s work come across far more as “big fan of yours, hope you wreck the shit out of Barry” than anything else. Nonetheless, despite Marlise’s warning that there will be an explosion, Clifford decides to proceed as planned with the charging of the cap.

As the accelerator goes off, the thinking cap definitely does things to Clifford, but he also happens to be struck by lightning. Marlise arrives and resuscitates him just in time to witness Clifford feeling “enlightened.”

The cringy part of the episode starts as the DeVoes go to Captain Singh to report Barry’s inadequacies as harassment. As this particular form of lowkey gaslighting usually goes, the people around Barry don’t believe his instincts and ask him to stop looking into DeVoe which, spoiler alert, we also know he won’t and it will backfire eventually. Very cringey, very cliché, and not particularly well scripted drama.

So, after Clifford got hit by lightning, he becomes a really fucking smart person. To prove that, the writers ask him to reveal who Jack The Ripper is — call me foolish, but I would have rather they tried to explain who the Zodiac Killer is to see if it is more believable than American Horror Story: Cult’s ill attempt at doing so. Nonetheless, he starts having a seizure on the spot.

At STAR Labs, Barry hears a buzzing from the Samuroid head and finds a camera inside. He goes to perform some late night stalking at the DeVoes and find Marlise leaving the house, which is super convenient. However, she returns literally 45 seconds after with a full load of groceries so Barry has to quit his sleuthing. Flashbacking again, a doctor gives Clifford a grim prognosis, as his mind is feeding off his body.

After Barry reveals he broke into their house, Team Flash fully flips on Barry’s idea that Clifford DeVoe is the actual bad DeVoe. To make matters worse for my enjoyment of television, the part where Barry gets scolded a second time by the police happens as Marlise brings pictures from the invasion to the Captain. Barry gets suspended for two weeks — and somehow is 100% surprised by the Captain’s decision to suspend him after he broke into someone’s house… — and also a restraining order.

Back at it, it’s time for another cliché: Clifford goes all infomercial as he falls from his wheelchair trying to grab a book from the fireplace. Mad at the world, he begs to die, but Marlise won’t let him. In fact, she even developed the machine that DeVoe currently to help him with his fatal disease.

Even with a restraining order, Barry goes to Clifford at his lecture hall and finally something interesting happens: cards on the table, the professor acknowledges everything. He knows Barry is the Flash. He exposes his backstory, how he became a metahuman, and how superior he is in terms of intellect in comparison to Team Flash. In fact, he is only telling him who he is because “he has nothing to fear.”

Now, maybe this is just me, but I feel like this would be the time for Barry to engage and tell DeVoe that he lowkey already knows how to defeat him? I mean, Savitar did tell him the name of the device. But he doesn’t. He mostly brags about defeating speedsters, which are nothing compared to DeVoe’s powers.

Back at STAR Labs, Barry tells everyone that Clifford confessed and NOW everyone believes him even without any additional evidence — silver linings? At least they believe him now. This ‘No One Believes Barry’ nonsense could have carried on for more episodes. Cisco comes up with the Thinker name as Wally arrives to help out with supervillain but, if we’re being honest, he probably won’t because Kid Flash has been utterly useless. I blame it on the writers.

Finally, the DeVoes go back to their secret base and Marlise has her villain attire (slicked back hair and a lab coat instead of natural waves and sundresses) back on. It sort of makes you wonder about the practicality of having a whole villainous wardrobe just for the thrill of it.

As Clifford starts shaking again, it is time for him to return to the device we’ve seen him in before. The coolest part is that I was right about his hair: the Mechanic has to literally rip his scalp off in order to connect him with a machine that feels too tight on his head. As the romantic he is, Clifford is even “allowing” West-Allen to get married because “what is knowledge without love?”.

Not a lot went down again, but better than last week’s by a mile. So now we gotta get ready for the wedding crossover next week and hopefully an interesting fall finale!


Images Courtesy of The CW

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The Heart is a Lonely Manhunter (Rewatching Hannibal Season 1)

Angela D. Mitchell

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Spoiler Warning for Hannibal, Season 1

“At night I leave the lights on in my little house and walk across the flat fields. When I look back, from a distance, the house is like a boat on the sea. It’s really the only time I feel safe.”
—Will Graham, Hannibal 1×04

Confession: I am one of those people who watches a show and can’t quite accept that it’s gone. The show instead lives on for me internally. So, basically, do not tell me The Wire is gone. Nope. Nor Deadwood, The Sopranos, Parks and Rec, Justified, Veronica Mars, and a handful of others, just… for me, they’re not gone. The show’s still out there. Immortal. Ever-present. So, for me, yes, somewhere Tony still watches the exits. Somewhere, Raylan works out his inner demons. Somewhere, Leslie Knope is President. Somewhere, Dan and Casey are still wittily tossing out sports metaphors under Dana’s eagle eye. Somewhere, Veronica’s fighting for justice next to her Dad. And somewhere, Hannibal and Will are still embattled. Or engrossed. But they’re out there, somewhere, somehow. Living on, in a smarter universe.

Fellow fans of Hannibal will no doubt especially feel my pain on this. And as someone still deeply mourning the end of the show all these years later, I thought the best consolation might be to go back and watch the show from the beginning, and it’s been a joy, offering new nuances and moments galore. It’s been especially fascinating to be able to go back to the beginning, and most especially to see how far back Bryan Fuller and his talented team set up the relationships, conflicts, and inspirations on the show, which are present even in the pilot episode.

The Table is Set

The blood splashes in the credits, Brian Reitzell’s superb score surges ominously, and Hannibal begins. Boom. Grossness. Ooky murder victim close-ups. Dating taboos. Ships, ships, and more ships sail into the distant horizon (how were we ever possibly this young?).

Welcome to the world of Hannibal. So let’s drive right in, to episode one, for instance, and that beautiful first meeting of Will (a wonderfully twitchy Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal (a chilly, graceful Mads Mikkelsen). Where, if you watch closely, you’ll find extra enjoyment in all the little subtleties to Mads’s and Hugh’s performances—because they’re setting the foundation for every single moment to follow.

It’s all right there, the entire show. Hannibal’s focus and detachment, mixed with that strange fleeting tenderness. Will’s disgust, empathy, and fear that also mask his inevitable fascination and self-loathing. Cue the mental metronome as it sweeps ominously across the frame in red. We begin, and even within 40 short minutes in episode one, as Garret Jacob Hobbs dies, whispering, “See?” to a horrified Will, the table is set.

The finishing touch on this scene (that will echo back so tragically at the end of the season) is the fact that Hannibal, watching Will, seems to decide to save Abigail because it is something that Will wants. So he gives it to him, the gift of Abigail’s life, placing his hands gently on Abigail’s throat in order to save her. He further does this, I think, because for Hannibal everything comes down to power, because he can, and because it will tie both of those people to him in ways he wants to watch play out further.

But perhaps the nastiest trick he plays on Will here is his facade at the episode’s end, as Will enters Abigail’s hospital room to find Hannibal already there, holding Abigail’s hand as if he is not the monster her father was, but as if he is, in fact, the caring savior he pretended to be. Everything that occurs between the two men from here on out, occurs because Will mistakenly uses this image of Hannibal as a baseline. It’s diabolical and tragic.

Just because Hannibal tortures Will, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love him. For Hannibal, feeding someone an ear is practically like sending flowers and a box of chocolates…

Cat and Mouse

I think my favorite aspect of the rewatch is that I have changed my opinion slightly when it comes to Hannibal’s reactions and motivations. Upon a second viewing, most of the time, I now do think that Hannibal seems to play out his scenes with others as honestly as he can, at least, to a point.

I remember that I thought Hannibal was smirkier the first time I watched it; I felt like he was playing them. But now I actually think he’s weirdly transparent. I do think he likes and respects the team and genuinely (and quite quickly) grows to care for Jack and Will. It doesn’t mean he won’t torture them, mind you—Hannibal’s so warped that I truly believe he has no concept of how normal, non-psychotic people feel or demonstrate tenderness.

Shoot, for all we know Hannibal considers everything he does to poor Will in Season 1 to be nothing but simple foreplay. (“What are you complaining about?” I can imagine him saying to Will. “I fed you an ear!”)

Speaking of love, however, I most definitely missed how closely Beverly (played with subtle wit and tenderness by Hetienne Park) is involved with Will in many scenes the first time I watched the show. Her shooting range scene with Will in Episode 2 is terrific. Sparky and fun, on rewatch, it’s evident to me that Beverly likes Will. I mean, I think she like likes him. Which just adds to the tragedy of her entire arc.

Every bit as much as Jack and Alana, Beverly seeks Will out, to goad him, to study him, to offer support. She visits him several times (including in “Ceuf”) just to talk to him, for instance. And in the Angel episode (“Coquilles”), Beverly approaches Will again, offering help and asking him to confide in her; they interact closely once more in episode 6 (“Entree”). I’d really missed how close these two are in my first viewing of the show, and this makes Beverly’s devastation at Will’s arrest that much more heartbreaking to witness as season 1 moves toward its close.

The Wolf Visits the Sheep

In Episode 4 (“Oeuf”), in one of the best scenes across the entire show, Hannibal explores Will’s house. And I think upon rewatch this is just an incredibly rich and fascinating scene. Hannibal enters as a guest (and we later learn that Will asked him to feed the dogs for him while he was gone), and absently feeds Will’s beloved dogs, who adore Hannibal instantly. Hannibal, of course, feeds them what we assume is yikeshannibalsoylentsausage. Of course, he then simply wanders through Will’s home, and it is just sort of mind-bogglingly, quietly amazing to watch him do so. I think it’s easily one of the most naked moments for Hannibal in the course of the story. We get this rare opportunity to simply watch him study and react without the need to play the role of the guy in the human-suit that Bedelia calls him out on being.

As he enters Will’s home, Hannibal pats and feeds the dogs, then (in a poignant note for me as a classical musician) notes that Will owns a piano but that it is out of tune.

I found this moment lovely and subversively interesting for what it says about both men. Hannibal is a person who writes and plays music at a superb and virtuosic level, and who listens in the same way. Now he enters Will’s home and sees, unexpectedly, another fraction of his heart. Another realization, piercingly, that Will is like him. He is not alone. So yes, my favorite part of this scene is how Hannibal sees the piano and his glance lingers on it.

And right there, to me, I think is when Hannibal becomes a love story.

The Search for Connection

It’s not really about romance, to me, however, but about something more subtle and fragile—about recognition. Kinship. Fellowship. The pleasant, guilty surprise of bondage. Forget romantic love. Love’s less complex in this universe, and I’m not even sure it’s given anywhere equal weight. What the show is seeking and exploring, ultimately, is a dozen times more complex: the connection of equals, a speaking of souls. The mitigation of loneliness.

Hannibal as a character or person may not believe in love, but I’m certain that he (and the show) believes in soulmates. More casual viewers, I think, may miss that about this show. Hey, ship anything you want, any character combo that floats your boat. Seriously, I get you. I ship Hannibal and Will, at varying moments, with pretty much every adult who shares a scene, not least because Mikkelsen and Dancy both have chemistry with everyone around them.

But what Hannibal is ultimately about, to me, what sets it apart and makes it real genius… is loneliness. And connection. Hannibal seeks it, and is surprised and charmed to find it in Will, even in his home. We already know how much Will desires and fears the same thing.

And everyone else we glimpse, don’t they want that same sense that someone knows and understands them? Jack? Alana? Beverly? Every single cop, medical examiner, or killer we meet?

Of course. Cue drama.

For Will, every social encounter seems agonizing, so it’s ironic how palpable his loneliness is: “When I look back from a distance, the house is like a boat on the sea. It’s really the only time I feel safe.”

Make Yourself at Home

So back to my point. I mean, Hannibal’s visit to Will’s home is fantastic. And pivotal. To me, it’s the core moment in their evolution as compatriots and friends and, perhaps, lovers. It’s so intimate.

Moving on. In his home visit for Will, Hannibal also notices a full outboard motor evidently in repair in Will’s living room (tellingly, later, in the “therapy” session with Hannibal, Will talks about his father’s work in boatyards from Biloxi to Erie).

Hannibal then checks out Will’s bureau and oh, Lord, gloriously, yes, there are the white tee shirts and socks, neatly stored, although I imagine the filmmakers simply cut out Hannibal’s full-body recoil at the sight. Hannibal then goes over to Will’s desk, looks through the magnifying glass there (nice subtext) then plays with one of Will’s fishing lures, carefully adding one of the feathers from the tray on the desk, before deliberately cutting himself with the hook he has just perfected. Then he licks the wound. And, yeah, it’s weirdly erotic.

This is also the episode when Will confesses to Hannibal, in one of the show’s most beautiful moments, that he only feels safe from a distance: “At night I leave the lights on in my little house and walk across the flat fields,” he says quietly. “When I look back from a distance, the house is like a boat on the sea. It’s really the only time I feel safe.” It’s yet another in a long line of beautiful boat references that help us to get to know Will that will also come back into play in later seasons.

Hannibal, potential anchor that he is, merely gives the tiniest hint of a smile. Because he is in control. He doesn’t need an anchor… or does he?

Fiendish Friendships

But although it’s fun to watch Hannibal become fascinated with Will, I forgot that Hannibal initially befriends Jack much faster than Will. Jack joins him for many more dinners at this point, actually. Jack and Hannibal become good friends, and Hannibal’s friendship visibly means something to both men.

Meanwhile, complicating those waters, is Will, of course. I mean, “Coquilles” is also the episode where Hannibal sniffs Will! And Will notices! It’s weirdly awesome. (Will: “Did you just… smell me?” Hannibal: “Difficult to avoid. I really must introduce you to a finer aftershave. That smells like something with a ship on the bottle.”)

I also love Will’s conversation with Jack here:

Will: This is bad for me.

Jack: I’m not your father, Will. I’m not going to tell you what you ought to do.

Will: Seems like that’s exactly what you’re gonna do.

Jack: You go back to your classroom, when there’s killing going on that you could have prevented, it will sour your classroom forever.

Will: Maybe. And then maybe I’ll find a job as a diesel mechanic in a boatyard.

Jack: You wanna quit? Quit.

Interesting that Jack smiles to himself as he says that. He knows Will can’t quit. When it comes to duplicity and hidden meanings, Jack is every bit as subtle as Hannibal himself. And he’s willing to do it because he’s willing to risk Will’s sanity in order to save lives—and because he’s also confident enough that he can see Will through it without harm.

“At a time when other men fear their isolation, yours has become understandable to you,” Hannibal tells Will. “You are alone because you are unique.” No surprise that he is actually describing himself.

Getting Help

Onward to therapy!

Episode 7 (“Sorbet”) is pure genius with its series of therapy sessions—Hannibal with Franklyn, Bedelia with Hannibal, Hannibal with Will. In each session there’s this tangible subtext of yearning and loneliness yet again: of Franklyn trying to impress Hannibal, of Hannibal trying to impress Bedelia, and then having a glass of wine with Will. There is something sort of poignant and lonely about Hannibal saying, “I have friends.” And we know who they are and how much he hides from them. (Note: I also think that it’s telling and important that Jack dreams of a mutilated Will in this same episode, as well.)

Episode 8, meanwhile, features one of my favorite exchanges between Hannibal and Will when Will says, “I feel like I dragged you into my world.” And Hannibal quite truthfully replies, “No. I got here on my own. But I appreciate the company.”

Cue Loneliness

What’s interesting as I rounded out Season 1 here is the way Hannibal interweaves that loneliness I mentioned earlier as an almost palpable, touchable aspect of the show’s fabric. I was constantly struck by how solitary everyone seems to be in Hannibal’s world, how disconnected—a fact emphasized in many scenes by the show’s lighting, which is moody and dark, with characters illuminated in stark relief as if trapped onstage. Every major character also seems caught in a dreamworld now and then, as if mute on the most important level—speechless about the things they truly want—yet all are yearning, and all are quietly starved for connection.

Not just Will, but Hannibal himself, and even Jack, Bedelia, Bella, and Beverly. They all seem like characters seeking connection and safety. Alana is the only one who, to me, implies a rich external life elsewhere, and it’s interesting to watch her move in and out of all these other lives with so much ease, especially knowing what lies before her in later seasons.

Final Revelations

One thing that really struck me upon my Season 1 rewatch was just how fantastic the actors are. I’ve talked about Will and Hannibal, but let’s just call out Caroline Dhavernas as Alana, for instance. She in particular is just wonderful, much stronger than I remember her being (and it really sucker-punched me when she goes to the car to scream and cry; at that point I realized then how much she did truly love Will). I also loved the chilly, gorgeous Gillian Anderson as Bedelia, and thought Kacey Rohl was amazing as Abigail Hobbs. It’s a performance where she has to walk so many lines in so many conversations, and Rohl was able to do that with a lot of delicacy and hidden nuance.

And then of course there’s Fishburne’s presence and gravitas, Dancy’s vulnerability and anguish, and wonderful Mads and just how much he’s able to communicate in every single graceful movement and microexpression.

While it’s hard to watch Will spiral downward in the final episodes of season 1, I do love the conversation in “Buffet Froid” (1×10) when Will is ill and floundering, and Jack is surprisingly warm and supportive:

Jack: Let me tell you what I think. I think that the work you do here has created a sense of stability for you. Stability is good for you, Will.

Will: Stability requires strong foundations, Jack. My moorings are built on sand.

Jack: I’m not sand. I am bedrock. When you doubt yourself, you don’t have to doubt me too.

Near the end, when Hannibal brings Bedelia the veal, what’s fascinating is that, in an entirely different awareness of context, I’d argue that she is absolutely aware of exactly who Hannibal is and of what (or who) they may actually be consuming. And before she does so, she unexpectedly and blatantly warns Hannibal:

Bedelia: You have to be careful, Hannibal. They’re starting to see your pattern.

Hannibal: What pattern would that be?

Bedelia: You develop relationships with patients who are prone to violence. That pattern. Under scrutiny, Jack Crawford’s beliefs about you might start to unravel.

Hannibal: Tell me, Dr. Du Maurier, have your beliefs about me begun to unravel?

The way she takes the bite, with her eyes on Hannibal, very slowly, implies to me that she is doing this deliberately, perhaps almost as an odd form of answer. Foreplay? Or communion?

Perhaps no show ever quite captured the spirit of loneliness as Bryan Fuller’s superb, late, and still lamented Hannibal.

The Last Bite

Every meal has a finish. And so we come to Will’s horrified, beautifully gradual realization of Hannibal as the real killer throughout episode 13 (“Savoureaux”), leading to the confrontation in Hobbs’s kitchen, the site of their first connection and mutual recognition:

Hannibal: At a time when other men fear their isolation, yours has become understandable to you. You are alone because you are unique.

Will: I’m as alone as you are.

Hannibal: If you followed the urges you kept down for so long, cultivated them as the inspirations they are, you would have become someone other than yourself.

Will: I know who I am. I’m not so sure I know who you are anymore.

There’s such symmetry in that final, raw and terrifying confrontation in Hobbs’s kitchen between Will, Hannibal, and Jack. And it’s awful to watch, to see Jack as adversary, to see Will led off as a criminal, to see him processed by the team (and to see their personal, anguished and angry reactions), and to then see Will locked up and facing Hannibal, who is of course still free and confident and smiling. And still there! Just on some level, you know, he’s still so creepily happy to see Will. To be a part of his life and world.

A caged Will is just more accessible, after all… more fun for Hannibal to play with.

Anyway, wow. I really loved taking another look at this first season of Hannibal, and what’s interesting is it’s my least favorite of the three, so I’m looking forward to the chance to rewatch the next two even more. Most of all, I’m so pleased to have found the show even more rewarding upon rewatch, not less. There’s so much detail to Hannibal‘s world that there’s always some new little treasure to notice.

What did you think? And what did I miss? And what do you think Will really smells like? I’m guessing Old Spice, sea salt, engine grease, and warm dog. Want to live on the edge? What does Hannibal smell like? My own guess on this is that he smells absolutely fantastic, like Italian cologne, fresh sage, and the faintest breath of electric wickedness…


Images courtesy of NBC

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