Content Warning: this review discusses spoilers, character death, and themes of sexual assault as depicted on the show
Killing Reynard? Bringing Alice back to life? Everything we’ve been waiting for this season is happening in “Ramifications” (02×12). But, they just might massacre a character or two in order to do it. Figuratively. Also, literally.
So, with Alice’s Shade trapped in Julia’s big, soulless chesthole, she and Quentin travel to Antarctica to visit an old friend. Help me Obi-Wan Mayakovsky. You’re my only hope. He’s the only magician powerful enough to work the spell it would take to splice Niffin Alice back with her Shade. Guilt tripping the man about his indirect involvement in Alice’s death doesn’t hurt either. They get Niffin Alice into a cage, they do the hokey-pokey and they turn themselves about (not really), and then BOOM! Naked, but very much alive Alice is reborn! Also, she’s a grump. Apparently she’s peeved at Quentin for cutting her magical Niffin adventures short.
For the remainder of this episode, you shall see Alice darting about Mayakovsky’s halls, hunching over stacks of papers as though she were on to the next incandescent lightbulb.
Meanwhile, Penny and Sylvia are playing Mission: Impossible over at the Library of the Neitherlands. Sylvia found the back door to the Poison Room. Turns out its just another magic portal fountain somewhere in the Neitherlands.
Using Penny’s Traveller skills, they find it in a hop, skip, and a jump. Sylvia’s raring to jump in, but it’s not for the reason you think. Apparently, Sylvia stumbled onto a big secret the Librarians are trying to keep hush-hush. The books of anyone who is currently alive are all missing their last twenty pages. Their endings are missing, and the Librarians don’t know why. Just that whatever causes it, it’s coming. And soon.
With Eliot banished back to Earth and Margo running amok in fairyland trying to find Fen, Castle Whitespire has turned into stoner central. That’s right, with the Brakebills gang gone, that leaves Josh as the last remaining Child of Earth. Which makes him High King. Doesn’t take long for things to get real. Margo appears to Josh while he’s magically stoned and demands he get her the fuck out of fairyland.
One small catch. Prince S turns up, and he’s none to happy that his father’s disappeared without explanation. Doesn’t help to be told that his father’s actually just a rat now. The Lorians slit a bunch of guards’ throats, while Josh and the advisers run for cover. Guess Josh decides now is as good a time as ever, because he up and drinks the magic potion and poofs out of existence and into the fairy realm to save Margo and Fen. And leave his advisers to die, probably. Very heroic.
Now that Alice is taken care of, Julia and Kady reunite forces to take Reynard the fuck down. They have Senator Gaines (aka John) now on their side, but demigod though he may be, John’s going to need a bit of training before he can take on Reynard. His training montage gets, eh, a little cut short though. Upon returning to his office, he bumps into Reynard, who has a little gift for him. How pretty! It’s his wife’s ear.
Guess Reynard has known this whole time about John teaming up with the Brakebills gang. And yeah, this is more of a Se7en situation. What you see in the box is what you get. Devastated, John decides enough is enough. He’s not waiting any longer. He brainwashes Kady into killing him and performing a ritual that will harness his powers so she and Julia can use them to off Reynard. No pressure.
Meanwhile Eliot’s tracked down Quentin only to find out, whoops! Quentin and Julia traded in the Fillory button to the magic sewer dragon for tickets to the Underworld. Now they’re out of a ride back to Fillory. Only, not all hope may be lost. Magical sewer dragon lady said there was still one portal left to Fillory they could use. The first one. Aka, the very Narnian-esque grandfather clock the Chatwins used to travel to Fillory in the first Fillory and Further book. They track down the clock to the home of an avid Fillory collector, only to find it’s none other than fucking Umber himself. He’s been hiding out in Vancouver ever since the Beast scared him off from Fillory, the coward.
After a lot of talk, Quentin and Eliot aren’t able to convince Umber to come back and fix Fillory, the world he created. But they do get him to give them the clock. They’ve got their ticket to fantasy land back. But if Umber’s not coming back, and his brother Ember seems intent on fucking the place up purely for his own entertainment… what are they going to do to fix it?
Back in the Poison Room, turns out everything is — you guessed it — poison. Penny and Sylvia have very limited time to find what they’re looking for before they evolve into a mass of talking boils. Penny grabs the god-killing book, but Sylvia won’t come with. She’s found her book, and read to the end of it. She doesn’t make it out of the Poison Room. And if Penny stays to save her, he dies too. Looks like he’s got no choice but to Apparate his ass out of there, where he promptly collapses on the Brakebills clubhouse floor.
Julia forges a magic bullet out of John’s demigod juices, and she and Kady conjure up a plan to lure Reynard to them. Turns out what Reynard has really been after this whole time? Our Lady Underground, aka Persephone. Some shit went down between them, and now whenever some poor saps like Julia, Kady, and the Freetraders try to summon her, Reynard crashes the party and “punishes” them. Trying to get her attention. Charming. They whip up a storm system big enough to look like Persephone is ascending from the Underworld. Sure enough, Reynard takes the bait. Julia’s got the god-killing gun leveled at his head, when, guess who else decides to show up. Our Lady Underground. In the flesh.
She pleads with Julia to spare Reynard’s life. He is her son, and that’s why he’s been “lashing out” — if it deserves to be called that — all these years. Plus, she’s been aware of his raping and pillaging this whole time, apparently. Because she abandoned him on Earth. Reynard and Kady are both frozen, so they get no say in the matter. But Persephone persuades Julia to spare Reynard’s life, then promptly whisks his ass away to the Underworld.
Julia’s pittance? Her Shade. I guess Our Lady Underground feels a soul is due compensation for taking away her justice.
Two HUGE bombs have just been dropped on our heads. 1) Alice is alive. 2) We got our “showdown” with Reynard. So, why does none of that feel satisfying?
Strangely, every single interaction with every other iteration of Alice in the last season has felt more genuine and powerful than getting Alice back “for real”. We’ve been working how hard towards this, for an entire season? Just to get a naked, super angsty real Alice pop into existence five minutes into the episode?
It feels undeserved. I supposed you could claim this whole season has been a build up to the moment, but this is the kind of shit you end on. Instead, we watch Quentin and grumpy Alice dance around each other the entire episode. What was the point of getting rid of Niffin Alice if we’re not really getting rid of Niffin Alice? Not that I was expecting Alice to be head over heels for Quentin after getting ripped apart by magic, or even slightly in the realm of “okay”. But… minus the possible bloodthirst and ungodly amounts of magical power… what’s changed, exactly?
As for the Reynard situation. Don’t get me started.
First of all, John’s death? Wow. Out of left field. One second, the guy’s wife is dead. The next, he’s using his god-juices to brainwash Kady into killing him? I guess the takeaway here is supposed to be that his motive was revenge. That he was willing to do anything to get back at Reynard for murdering his wife. But he couldn’t have stuck out the magic practice just a little bit longer?
In terms of character development, I don’t feel we were really at a place yet to justify that kind of rash decision making. Before her severed ear was being presented to John in a cute little box, we had literally only seen him and his wife together once before. It was when he accidentally god-brainwashed her. Don’t get me wrong. I feel for the guy. But forgive me if I wasn’t really seeing the train of motivation there.
Also, let’s talk about the fact that The Magicians writers didn’t flinch away from depicting Julia’s assault, but suddenly when gutstabbing John is on the table, they decide to pull the Hitchcock method out of their toolkit? We seem to be backpedaling here.
It only gets better. Can you guess why? It’s all for naught. Julia and Kady get their shot to kill Reynard, and what does Julia do? She flubs it?! Because suddenly Persephone decided to show her ass and claim Reynard as her son?
This move is all kinds of wrong, and it feels… just so ignorant. For Julia to have lost so much, even with the lack of a Shade, I do not buy that she just gives Reynard mercy. Of course Reynard has a mother. All rapists have mothers. That doesn’t make them, oh, I don’t know. Not rapists?
It might be another story if Persephone had stepped in and been like, “Whoa there. Honey, you’ve done enough. He’s my responsibility, let me punish him.” Nope. Persephone isn’t dragging him down to the River Styx to wash his mouth out with soap. She’s literally just giving Reynard what he’s apparently wanted this entire time. She’s taking him home.
Yet we’re meant to believe that Julia is content with all this.
This is a massive injustice to her character. What’s worse, it takes what I had hoped to be a beautiful arc that addressed sexual assault, trauma, and recovery in a very real and nuanced way and completely fucks it. To me, without any further context, this scene literally represents what is wrong with the way sexual assault and its survivors are understood by society today. If Persephone knew Reynard was going around raping women to try and “get her attention”, that’s when she should have stepped in. When Reynard was raping Julia.Not when Julia had the barrel of a gun trained at Reynard’s head.
The only thing Persephone could have done to even try to rectify this cruelty was to tear him limb to limb herself. That would be true justice. Although Julia might deserve the revenge, it would keep her soul clean. Persephone would pay the price for permitting her son to rape and murder, and claim that responsibility finally. And Reynard would be out of the picture.
I’m not sure how The Magicians recovers from this. Setting aside the disappointment with Alice and the bizarrely anticlimactic death of John, as it stands, this is nothing more nor less than character massacre.
“Ramifications” ends with Eliot asking Quentin, “What’s next?” before the Fillory clock. And indeed, I’d like to ask the show writers that very same question.
Images Courtesy of SyFy
Away In A Manger: Black Lightning 2×09, “Gift of Magi”
Well, my friends, we’re nearing the end of Black Lightning S2, and I think it’s time to declare a sophomore slump. Anyone here with me? Let’s get into this week’s episode and discuss.
Jen and Kahlil are still on the run, but Kahlil was cut with one of Cutter’s Special aka Poison knives, so he’s quickly succumbing. The pair find a barn, where there’s a lot of soft lantern light and Kahlil can curl up in the hay. At first they swap cute-funny stories about when they first met, but soon Kahlil can’t manage talking let alone breathing well, so Jen goes out to steal some antibiotics from a hospital. (They don’t yet know that it’s poison, they assume his wound is infected). Jen is getting really good not only at controlling her powers, but using them for specific tasks, and I’m here for it although I really wish it wasn’t in the context of this storyline.
She manages to get the antibiotics and injects Kahlil with it, but it doesn’t work. She grows increasingly desperate, and as Kahlil’s death seems imminent, she goes outside for some air and a good cry. That’s when she goes back to her brain-salon, where she sees Perenna (her brain-version of Perenna, not the real one) and a twin version of herself. Mind-Perenna tells Jen that she already has everything she needs inside of her; it’s very Inside Out. Together with her brain creations she figures out that Cutter is actually *right there* watching them through binoculars. She manages to capture her and tie her up, tasering her with her hands as a form of torture in order to get her to tell her what she did to Kahlil. It’s not long before she figures out it was a poison knife, and cuts Cutter with it so that she’ll be forced to show Jen where on her person the antidote is. Turns out, it’s in that very obvious vial on her necklace!
Jen goes to a dark place when she’s torturing Cutter, which is kind of hard to watch. Again, I’d be more interested if this whole thing didn’t revolve around Kahlil. Anyway, Jen gives both Kahlil and Cutter the antidote and they’re on their way again. But only after they declare their undying love for each other.
I’m happy to report that no one left Kahlil’s aunt for dead in her house, as Black Lightning, Thunder, and Gambi have set up camp there to help her recover from what turned out to be one of Kahlil’s pain pills and try to figure out how to find Jen. They know Kahlil is hurt so they check hospitals, and end up being in the same hospital as Jen at the same time!
Jefferson and Anissa figure out Jen was there because she left a trail aka scorch mark in her path, but the fact that she keep eluding them is driving Jefferson to be irrational and reckless. Gambi and Anissa manage to keep him under control, but Lynn is losing it too. When she’s not crying in the wreckage of Jen’s room that she destroyed, she’s trying to get Kahlil’s mom, and then his dad, to give her clues as to where they might be.
Of course neither of them can help, but along the way she grabs a gun from the Inner Sanctum aka Gambi’s basement so that’s concerning, considering her emotional state.
In a parallel storyline, Tobias has set his sights on a kid named Todd, an academic prodigy who has just been rejected for a research grant in favor of the white kid whose rich dad just funded a new wing of the university. It’s unclear what Tobias wants Todd to do, and Todd seems dubious at best until Tobias deposits $100,000 into his bank account. Money is the root of all evil, amirite? I mean, capitalism is. But that’s a discussion for another place.
Lastly, this episode ends with a scene in which a mysterious someone murders everyone in a bar in Texas before getting a phone call from his boss telling him that his next job is in Freeland. I feel like we’re about to meet a bigger bad than Tobias, but time will tell! Just someone end this Kahlil-Jen nonsense and give us our family back kthanks.
What do you think is in store for the final episodes? Are you happy with this season so far? Black Lightning is going on hiatus until the end of January, so I’ll be back then to see where we’re at. Enjoy what’s left of the year, friends!
Images courtesy of The CW
Winter Hiatus Blues
Even in December with the broadcast networks hiatus for scripted series starting, and pilot season underway, there’s so much to discuss!
The continuing behind the scenes drama of Les Moonves’ ouster from CBS, ABC’s entertainment president Channing Dungey stepping down, NBC’s Greenblatt moving on, and FOX setting up for its new leadership once the merger goes through…every big 4 network has a lot to deal with between now and the TCAs in early February. The exec panels will sure be a time… Especially if ratings come up at all.
As of this Tuesday, and as always, I’m talking about scripted ratings: FOX is number 1 with a 1.13 average followed by NBC, ABC, and CBS. CW of course is last with .35. Last month, four of the five networks had six shows at or above their overall average.
Now, ABC has eight shows, the CW has five, and the rest have six.
Across the five networks, only a third of new shows are performing above the average on their network. The Connors (considered a new show), FBI, The Neighborhood, Last Man Standing, New Amsterdam, and Manifest. The highest rated new show on The CW, Legacies hovers right below the network’s average.
Interestingly, across the board, long running shows are still high rating performers (or what’s high now) for the networks. The exception to this is SVU at a tenth below the average.
Their “success” indicates that we probably won’t lose any of the longest running shows anytime soon. Still, the network with the largest average season length (including shows yet to premiere) is FOX at 5.3 followed by CBS at 4.5. Removing the shows already cancelled and predicted as canceled doesn’t make an impact because of The Simpsons‘ whopping thirty seasons! (Unrelated but with the announcement for Crisis on Infinite Earths, DCTV isn’t going anywhere either.)
Of course some of this will shift when the rest of the new slate premieres begin in January. I do not envy the folks in charge of scheduling spring shows, especially as more time slots are lost to winter reality or competition shows.
You can put whatever new show after strong shows and still have a dud in the ratings race.
On The CW, ableist In The Dark has had zero promotion beyond the scheduling announcement that it starts after Supernatural. Their other new show Roswell: New Mexico or Roswell: TVD received the coveted post Flash slot plus actual promo. Except for The 100, their other spring shows already received cancellations, so ratings definitely don’t matter.
FOX only has two newbies to premiere, with The Passage starting after The Resident and Proven Innocent taking the 9PM slot after Cool Kids. I don’t know that people watching an hour of comedy will stick around for a procedural, but anything can happen these days.
ABC on Wednesday revealed that in a vote of confidence (or in hopes to increase viewers or to get Whiskey Cavalier onto the schedule earlier) is moving the last bit of A Million Little Things behind Grey’s leaving current slot holder Station 19 off the schedule until March. Considering AMLT hit a .7 last week… The Fix is the only other newbie to get a spring slot, starting in March in The Good Doctor‘s place. Grand Hotel is now a summer show. ABC what are you doing?!
NBC and CBS have yet to fully unveil their new schedules so more on that in January! However, pilot development is in full swing and reboots (and spin-offs) continue to rule the pack.
Predicting what pilots will make it to series this early is silly, but I do think that a chunk of the reboots in development will definitely make it to air. If they’ll get renewed is another question. Even though this year, only Charmed received a back 9 order (Last Man Standing was ordered with 22 episodes). Last year, all the shows that received fewer than 9 episodes in the fall except for Good Doctor were cancelled. So now in May, that trend continues, or the new trend is that any back order indicates a renewal.
Which is why even though I think it’s silly to bank on so many reboots in development, I know that networks are still going to do it. I won’t list all of the shows in development because there are a lot and many will die by January. The CW has three alone! And NBC already has a series order for Law and Order: Hate Crimes or as my friend calls it, “SVU but grittier” making it the seventh L&O series.
By late January, early February, the big entertainment sites will have lists of all the pilots in contention and then we can really get into the details. Until then, what shows are y’all waiting to see for the first time (or again)?
‘Legends of To-Meow-Meow’ Cranks the Insanity up to Eleven
It’s that time year of again. The Arrowverse crossover, but the Legends misplaced their invites. While Kara, Barry, and Oliver were getting acquainted with Batwoman and dealing with body switching, the Legends were dealing with their own alternate reality issues. Or should I say the Custodians were dealing with their own issues. Or, should that be the Sirens? Or the Puppets?
Yep, this was one of those kinds of episodes. ‘Legends of To-Meow-Meow’ didn’t just surpass the insanity of every other episode this season. It multiplied it, as Charlie and Constantine broke the timeline more with each attempt to fix it.
At first, Charlie hits the town on her own, going to Las Vegas to stretch her newly returned powers. Going out as Marilyn Monroe, she runs into a prison buddy, a leprechaun. She barely has the chance to warn him about faulting his powers when Mick, Nate, and Ray strut in dressed like they just walked out of an 80’s action show. Which they did, apparently, as they introduce themselves as the Custodians of the Chronology and we get ‘A-Team’ style opening credits. They kill the leprechaun without hesitation, which is a big clue for Charlie that not everything is right.
She returns to the Waverider with cat-Zari to figure out why the team is suddenly so murder-happy. She transforms into Sara, planning on just ordering them to stop. But it doesn’t work because in this timeline, without help from Constantine, Sara was killed by the unicorn at Woodstock. The team attacks her, recognizing her as a shapeshifter. Charlie makes a quick retreat from the ship, taking cat-Zari along to find John.
He’s being kept imprisoned at the Time Bureau. Because he was the epicentre of the timeline shift, he has memories from both timelines and his brain isn’t keeping up very well. When they find him, John turns Zari back into a human. Only to turn her right back when she’s against his and Charlie’s idea to save Sara instead of fixing their alteration. Charlie breaks John out, with some help from Mona and a very emo Ava. Some of the Lege- Custodians die in their fight out, but everything will be fine once they save Sara. At least that’s what Charlie and John tell themselves.
They travel to Woodstock, blasting the unicorn into rainbow gloop before it can gore anyone. But this time, when they return to their time Nate, Ray, and Mick are the ones with the memorial plaques. Plus, without the guys around, Sara, Ava, and an android?Gideon have formed a Charlie’s Angels style team that assassinates fugitives. Charlie attempts to infiltrate the team as Amaya, but her cover is blown almost instantly. She does learn the boys were killed by the Fairy Godmother. The fairy is also the reason Zari’s a cat.
John and Charlie go to Salem for their next patch job. Charlie transforms into the Fairy Godmother to trick Prudence into releasing the fairy before she can kill the boys. It seems to go off without a hitch until she returns to the jumpship. Good news, Zari is no longer a cat. Bad news, she’s now a puppet.
So is the entire team, as John learns when he boards the Waverider. They aren’t just puppets. They’re puppets that sing their own intro and have a historical figure of the day. Since the Fairy Godmother didn’t kill Mick, he became her new charge. She turned the team into puppets before Mick took her along on a crime spree.
Charlie and John keep trying to Band-Aid the timeline, but each fix ends with someone else dead in the new timeline. Yet, even when they get to a point where no one has died, John’s mind has so many timelines clashing in his mind he collapses from the strain.
He finally agrees with Zari that they need to fix the timeline properly and stop Dez from leaving. When Charlie refuses to help they leave her behind, but she’s not giving up without a fight. She transforms into Ava, heading to the Waverider to clue the team in on the magical ongoings in New Orleans. But there’s something still wrong with this timeline. All the Legends are alive. No one is made of cloth. But they still have a ‘shoot first ask questions never’ policy when it comes the fugitives. Gideon picks up on the three Constantines at that point in time. The team assumes the extras are shapeshifters, sending Mick and Ray to blast them.
Charlie finally realizes it wasn’t just John’s absence from the team that caused the changes. It was her absence. Without her, the Legends don’t learn fugitives aren’t all unicorns with a taste for hearts or Fairy Godmothers that sing about murder.
In New Orleans, this-episode’s-John stops Desmond after last-episode’s-Constantine broke up with him. He tells him he’s sorry for all the pain he’s going to cause him and wipes his memory just before still-in-a-relationship John can return. As Mick and Ray fire on this-episode-John, past-John and Desmond share a kiss which becomes the point from which the timeline fixes itself. Reality is right once again, where the only puppet person is the possessed Professor Stein and the Legends aren’t mythical creature murders. Ava and Mick even heal their rift from the last episode, finding some common ground.
John comes clean to Sara about their misadventure. He even tells her about Neron. Sara promises to help him take down his demon. So all’s well that ends well. Except, there’s no word on what happens to Mona after she met the business of the Kaupe’s claws. Nor is Hank happy the Kaupe escaped, which he learns about in the middle of a golf game with someone… something wearing Desmond’s face.
Was this the strongest’s episode of Legends? Probably not. It sacrificed some substance for the sake of 80’s spoofs and sing-alongs. But that’s not to say this episode wasn’t good. Far from it. The alternate timelines were laugh out loud funny and the Puppets of Tomorrow song is going to be stuck in my head. They were so good I’m willing to overlook characters like Ray, Nate, Sara, and Ava feeling so drastically different in their respective spoof realities. I’ll chalk up to the discrepancies in their characterizations to time being so broken.
It could have easily become frustrating watching John and Charlie patch broke timeline after broken timeline while they ignored the obvious answer. But it never got to that point because every step of the way you knew John was doing this to keep Desmond alive. John Constantine, always the tortured soul, willing to let his mind be torn apart by multiple timelines before he gives up on his love again. It’s a tragedy the timeline being fixed has to come at the cost of Dez’s soul. But maybe it isn’t lost forever.
The scene between John and Desmond pulled at the heartstrings. As did the moment when Charlie finally realized she was the missing the link for the Legends. It’s always a good moment when a Legend finds their place on this mismatched, rag-tag team. It’s hard not to compare this episode to ‘Here I Go Again’, when Zari found her place on the team. Which is a glowing compliment when that episode is one of the best of Legends entire run.
The brief callbacks to the earlier episodes was a nice way to tie off the first half of the season as well. The Unicorn was only eight episodes ago. Yet, monsters, magic, and pure insanity feel like they’re always been a part of Legends of Tomorrow. Well, pure insanity has been a fundamental part of Legends since season two.
It just shows how this series isn’t afraid to shake up its own formula. Thus far it’s worked every time, with each season being better than the last. It’s still early to call season’s four place for certain. Season’s three back half had some heavy ringers, but so far this season is on the right tracks to be the most memorable one yet. They’re sure to come back strong when they return in April.
Only Legends Could
- “You missed calls from Barry Allen, Oliver Queen, and Kara Zor-El,”
“Sounds like the annual crossover,”
“Yeah, that’s going to be a hard pass,”
This whole exchange is amazing. Easily wins favorite lines of the episode.
- You can tick off Sara Lance’s annual dalliance with death. Sara dying, almost dying, or faking dying should be a running gag at this point, but for some reason, I can never find it funny.
- Everyone just understands cat-Zari. No explanation needed. Much like when Nate understood pig-Ray.
- The CW tradition of bad wigs continues with emo Ava. (Kate Kane, by some miracle, avoided the curse.)
- In the Siren’s reality, Sara’s wielding Mick’s gun and Gideon has Rip’s.
- I want more of DC’s Puppets of Tomorrow.
- There’s a timeline where Nate and Hank die from a Garden Gnome.
- Why yes, Legends did give us the true love’s kiss fixes everything. And yes, it was a kiss for a mlm couple. Legends never ceases to amaze.
- I got a flirty vibe from Charlie and Zari at the end. Time will tell where that goes.