In “Chapter Thirty-Eight: As Above, So Below”, Betty and Jughead dig deeper in their search for the Gargoyle King, Archie gets physical, and Veronica plays dress-up at her new club.
After Riverdale’s favorite will-they-won’t-they couple aka FP and Alice finally do, they discuss the relief of Ben and Dilton’s suicide investigation not leading to the mysterious secret from their past after all. Little do they know that their off-springs, while in the same after-sex bliss at the Dilton’s bunker (award for the grossest juxtaposition ever?) have no intention of stopping their own quest for the truth.
Fred visits the warden to ask about why he isn’t allowed to see his son for several weeks now. Warden insists no visitation rights is Archie’s punishment for the “riot” he started. In reality, Archie spends his time in solitary, dealing with the consequences of declining warden’s offer of becoming the “new Mad Dog”.
Veronica complains to Betty about Pop’s financial troubles, so the latter proposes to speed up the opening of the speakeasy Ronnie’s been holding off because of Archie’s incarceration.
Before the opening, Veronica invites Josie and Kevin to recruit them as the singer and MC respectively. Reggie is already there, serving in Archie’s place as useful muscles and just a general right hand to Ronnie. (Can’t help but wonder what kind of other Archie’s duties he might be taking on in the future.) Their meeting is interrupted by Penny Peabody, who gracefully offers Ghoulies’ protection from the Ghoulies for a reasonable price.
Back at the juvie, Archie finally finds out what has granted Mad Dog special treatment from the warden – underground pit fights. Warden Norton has his own little team of inmate fighters who train together and put on a violent show, while he takes the bets and sells the tickets. In return, inmates get a few perks here and there.
Betty and Jughead notice that Ethel is chumming it up with Evelyn Evernever. This makes them wonder whether the G&G game (Gryphons and Gargoyles) has anything to do with the Farm. Bughead split up in their investigation, with Jughead persuading Ethel to let him join the game, while Betty signs up for Evelyn’s peer support group.
At Le Bonne Nuit, Veronica’s speakeasy, she and Reggie receive a giant delivery of Jingle Jangle they didn’t order. And what do you know, Sheriff Minetta happens to drop by at this exact moment for his inspection. They manage to get rid of the drugs in time, but the visit still ends on a sour note: Minetta insists on Veronica making a generous “donation” to the Sheriff’s Department. Ronnie is sure the shakedowns from Sheriff and Penny Peabody are her father’s doing and prepares to strike back. She asks Cheryl and Tony for help in finding some blackmail on Ghoulies and soon enough, they find out the gang set up a Jingle Jangle lab at the Whyte Wyrm.
Archie’s having his first fight. All that working out is really paying off cause he ends it with only two punches. As the winner, he gets his reward of getting lunch delivery of his choice, but the warden isn’t that happy with the outcome. He lets Archie know they’re looking for more “entertaining” and long-lasting fights, to make it everyone’s worthwhile, so Archie better deliver next time.
Betty finds Evelyn at school and tries to earn her trust by acting as if she’s interested in the Farm. I guess it worked because the next day she comes home to a full-on Farm meeting in her living room. Disappointed there’s no Edgar in sight, Betty finds out you have to attain several levels before actually meeting the infamous leader. As a new member, Betty expected to give a testimony about her darkest secrets. Alice and Polly gave theirs and apparently spilled it all: from serial killer father to Betty’s webcamming to covering up a murder in their kitchen.
Flabbergasted, Betty tries to share some secrets in return and brings up the fact that Evelyn was around her and Ethel’s seizure, along with suspicious connections between the Farm and the G&G game. However, Evelyn quickly points out that, in fact, the first time they heard about the game from Alice herself. Before Betty gets any answers, she starts feeling very dizzy and leaves to her room.
Meanwhile, at the bunker, Jughead and Ethel play some G&G. It’s your usual tabletop RPG until Jug is challenged with drinking from one of the two mysterious goblets; the same goblets of Fresh-Aid Ben and Dilton drank from in the wood, one of which contains cyanide. Jughead refuses, but Ethel insists it’s the only way to “prove his worthiness” and continue. He agrees only after Ethel promising to give him the alleged only copy of the game manual, aka the Scripture. Thankfully, he drinks from the non-poisonous cup and Ethel keeps her promise. While Jug is busy reading the manual, Ethel drinks from the cyanide cup.
Ethel wakes up in a hospital, with Jughead by her side. She’s chained to a bed, as a part of the suicide watch policy. Jughead yet again asks her to come clean about the game, but she refuses. Ethel does mention that Jug proved his worthiness, just as she told the Gargoyle King he would.
Veronica decides to follow her boyfriend’s footsteps and blackmail Hiram, ’cause that worked so great the last time. She says if he won’t stop messing with her business, she’s gonna send the pics of the Jingle Jangle lab to the FBI. Oh, and she wants 10k weekly, as a compensation or whatever.
It’s opening night at the Le Bonne Nuit and it’s a huge success. Jughead tells Betty he hid the game manual at his home, and she notes their parents definitely know more than they let on. Josie blesses us with her wonderful performance, while back at the juvie, Archie has a performance of his own to attend. Taking the warden’s wishes into account he makes sure his opponent and he give the fight all they got, keeping the audience satisfied. As a reward, the bunch of Mad Dog’s stuff, such as TV and books, are awaiting him at the cell after the fight. Oh, and a hidden small rock hammer. Archie tells about this finding to his Fight Club buddies and declares they’re gonna escape.
Hiram attends Veronica’s speakeasy opening and brings the giant portrait of hers as a gift. He says despite their fighting he’s proud of her nonetheless, while she correctly assumes he already moved the Jingle Jangle lab into a different location (wow, good job with that blackmailing, Ronnie! You really got him!)
After returning to the Jones’s trailer, Jughead and Betty are confronted by their parents who found the manual. FP yells at Jughead for playing the game, and after Jug confirms it’s the only copy, FP throws the manual in the fire. Later, Jughead tells Betty that maybe it’s for the best since no one can play it now and therefore, get hurt.
Alas, at the hospital, Ethel assures our old pal, the Gargoyle King creature in the flash, she’s done what he asked and “spread his gospel. The next day Jughead is horrified to find that every single Riverdale High student found a G&G manual copy in their locker.
The show is slowly getting back into its old habits of a bunch of disjointed storylines. The tone of each plot is so jarringly different that sometimes it feels like watching several shows simultaneously. The biggest problem, however, isn’t as much quantity as it is quality of the said storylines.
The Gargoyle King plot remains the most interesting one. Sure, it’s kooky, but at least it feels like it’s going somewhere.
Archie’s juvie adventures are nothing but an obvious stalling for time. It’s hard to get invested into something you know ultimately not gonna matter. I also find it hilarious that Archie made such a big deal out of taking the DA’s deal, but then lasted what, a month? What about all that guilt you’ve been talking in the premiere, Archiekins? Was pleading guilty for the metaphorical symbolism of it all wasn’t as fun as you’d hope?
And finally, Veronica… The writers really don’t know what to do with her, huh? This speakeasy thing is such a joke, I’m sorry! The idea of a teenager running a bougie underground bar in the middle of suburbs, catering to mostly local teenagers drinking mocktails is ridiculous! And apparently, it’s more lucrative than a beloved family-friendly affordable diner above it, so the speakeasy pays for both of their bills??? in what world???
Veronica’s relationship with Hiram also continues to baffle me. So much for declaring “You don’t have a daughter anymore!” just two episodes ago. She continues to live at the Lodges’ apartment, converses with her “daddy” on a daily basis, and live on whose money, exactly? Also, the portrait Hiram brought to the speakeasy… It’s gotta be bugged, right? Like, there’s no way there isn’t anything wrong with that thing!
Do you think the writers ever realize that just because they keep telling us what an iconic power couple Cheryl and Toni are, doesn’t mean it’s supported anywhere in the story? Toni has a character depth of a cardboard cutout and Choni as a couple is nothing but hashtags and buzzwords. Gif-able entrances and quotable zingers are not substitutes for actual character development and quality representation, and I’m quite frankly getting tired of it!
At least we had the unnecessary nudity quota filled by the Fight Club boys, and Reggie carrying Jingle Jangle boxes shirtless for some reason. Shout out to Ronnie for bringing back the infamous boob window catsuit. She just can’t break in places without it!
Next week is an exciting one, cause flashback episode, baby! We finally get to see the Riverdale parents as teenagers and hopefully, find out more about the G&G game!
Images courtesy of CW
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.