Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It Came From The Cineplex: The Darkness

The Darkness was written by Shayne Armostrong and Shane Krause, and directed by Greg McLean.

Armstrong and Krause are Australian writing partners whose previous credits include the Doctor Who spinoff K9, along with a series of TV movies you're unlikely to have ever heard of. 


McLean is an Australian filmmaker (I get the distinct impression that despite the fact it takes place in America, this is an Australian film) who previously directed Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2, which were both decent slasher-type movies. As I always say, you can't hit one out of the park every time at bat.


Sigh… another month, another watered-down, PG-13 suburban "horror" film that's about as scary as a basket of kittens. There've been so many of these half-assed horror films in the past ten years or so that I can no longer tell them apart. 

The blandness even extends to the movie's title— The Darkness. I can't imagine a more uninspired name. Originally the film was going to be called 6 Miranda Drive, which is even worse, and tells you absolutely nothing about the content. As dull as The Darkness title is, at least it sounds slightly ominous.

Imagine the Hawaiian vacation episode of The Brady Bunch (in which Bobby steals a tiki idol necklace from a sacred site) crossed with the original Poltergeist, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what this film's like. 


In fact, every frame of this film is inspired by, if not lifted directly from Poltergeist. The writers don't just use it as a rough outline, they slavishly copy it in every possible way. There's a suburban family whose house is plagued by strange happenings. There's a younger child who's the only one who can see or communicate with the spirits. The spirit activity escalates until they begin physically attacking the members of the household. Worst of all, the family ends up calling a professional spiritual medium to rid their house of evil spirits! 

The writers of The Darkness simply swapped out angry corpses for ancient Indian demons, and switched the medium from Caucasian to Hispanic. Other than that they're pretty much the same film.

According to the promotional materials, The Darkness is based on a true story, and I believe it. Yep, there's no doubt in my mind that it's true that this movie is based on a story.

Once again we get another one of those "Produced by" posters. This one proudly proclaims it's from the producers of The Visit, Sinister and Insidious. First of all, that's nothing to brag about. Secondly, does Hollywood actually believe this works? Do they really think the general public is going to look at this poster and say, "Hey, this movie's from the producer of The Visit! That guy produced the hell out of that movie, so this one HAS to be good!"

Lastly, take a good look at that poster. It's supposed to be terrifying (I think), but it looks for all the world like a clueless husband was working on his car, mistakenly grabbed a bedspread instead of a towel and wiped his greasy hands on it.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Peter Taylor (played by Kevin Bacon), his wife Bronny (played by Radha Mitchell), his teenaged daughter Stephanie and young son Mikey all go on a vacation to the Grand Canyon. While there, Mikey, who's autistic, wanders off from the campsite and falls into a deep cave. Inside the cave he finds strange markings on the wall, along with five stones arranged on a makeshift altar. The stones are all carved with primitive symbols. Mikey takes them, hides them in his backpack and strolls back to the campsite.

The Taylors return home and it's not long before odd things start happening around their house. The kitchen tap turn on by itself (terrifying!), light bulbs explode (horrifying!) and strange noises emanate from the attic (ghastly!). Mikey says his new imaginary friend "Jenny" is responsible.

As the incidents escalate, the Taylor family begins slowly falling apart. Peter, who once had an affair, begins spending more time at work and flirts with his beautiful young assistant. Bronny, a recovering alcoholic, begins drinking again. Stephanie throws up in a container and hides it under her bed (!), revealing she's bulimic. Mikey's already odd behavior becomes more erratic, as he tries to kill his grandmother's cat.

Bronny takes to the internet to find answers. She finds a Youtube video that helpfully explains everything that's happening. According to the video, the Anasazi Indians believe that thousands of years ago powerful demons they called the Sky People left their dimension and appeared on Earth. They took the forms of a crow, a snake, a coyote, a wolf and a buffalo. The demons were prone to dragging children into their dimension, but were mostly concerned with triggering an apocalyptic event called The Darkness (we have a title!), that would cover the Earth in night, or something. 
The Anasazi were able to banish the Sky People back to their dimension, and placed five carved rocks in a cave to prevent their return. 

Just then Bronny hears a noise, and discovers Mikey's set the wall of his room on fire (?). Peter, who doesn't buy into all the supernatural guff, is fed up with Mikey and tries to discipline him, but Bronny stops him, saying the fire wasn't his fault.

That night the Taylors have dinner with Peter's boss (played by Paul Reiser) and his wife Wendy (played by Ming-Na Wen). Bronny and Wendy both chat about the supernatural, while the Boss (amazingly, Reiser's character has no name) interrupts and shuts them down.

When the Taylors return home, they find Mikey covered with black, sooty handprints, and blood pours from his mouth. Apparently this is no cause for alarm, as Peter suggests waiting until morning to take him to the hospital. Bronny brings up Peter's affair (is this really the best time for that?), and accuses him of being distant and not noticing anything. He proves he notices plenty by pointing out the bottles of booze she cleverly hid under the couch. Jesus, what is this, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Meanwhile Mikey sits in his room, as demonic looking hands come out of his burned wall, indicating it's a portal of some kind.

Stephanie falls asleep and is awakened by a series of black handprints appearing on her legs, arms and neck. Ah, so the Sky People are perverts! Peter finds Mikey in his room, which is covered by handprints on the walls and ceiling. Peter's finally convinced something supernatural is behind the odd occurrences.

He contacts "Boss," who says his own son had some sort of vague supernatural malady a year or two back, and was cured by a couple of spiritual healers. He gives Peter their number.

Peter calls the healers, and Tangina Barrows, er, I mean Teresa Morales and her granddaughter Kat arrive. Teresa speaks only Spanish, so Kat serves as her translator. Bronny tells them about the Sky People, and the healers get to work busting the ghosts. I could make a joke here about a white family hiring a couple of Hispanic women to "clean" their house, but I won't.

Teresa uses metal divining rods to hunt down the demons and chase them back to their own dimension. They clean the downstairs, but when they enter Mikey's room, Teresa says it's where the real evil dwells. As she recites a banishing spell, the unseen, angry demons smash the windows and hurl shards of glass at her. 

As the others are distracted, Mikey walks through the portal in the wall of his room. When Bronny notices Mikey's missing, Peter rushes into the room and the door locks behind him. He sees Mikey on the other side of the portal, standing with the Sky People. They're wearing masks of a crow, snake, coyote, wolf and buffalo. 

Peter sees the carved stones on the floor of Mikey's room, picks them up and leaps through the portal. Unfortunately he's too afraid to place them back into position, which will banish the Sky People. He tells the demons to take him instead of Mikey. So he's too terrified of them to lay some rocks on an altar, but can willingly offer to sacrifice himself. Got it.

Mikey, who's "not afraid" (because of the whole autism thing), picks up the stones and puts them back in place. The Sky People vanish one by one, and Peter and Mikey jump back through the portal as it disappears. Teresa says, "This house is clean!" Wait, wrong movie.

We then see a ridiculously contrived ending scene of the Taylor family having a picnic on a golden sunny day. I guess all their deep-rooted psychological problems are cured!

Thoughts:
• In most suburban horror films, the family in question is plagued by deep-seated psychological problems. In fact it often seems like the sinister occurrences in their home are caused by long-suppressed neuroses finally bubbling to the surface rather than ghosts.

Nowhere is that more true than in The Darkness. Every member of the Taylor family has some sort of mental disorder. Peter's a workaholic and philanderer. Bronny's a recovering alcoholic. Daughter Stephanie is a distant teen with bulimia. Young son Mikey is autistic. 

Jesus, is there any syndrome or malady the writers forgot to trowel onto them? I'm surprised Stephanie didn't run away to join ISIS, or Peter wasn't revealed to be an evil cyborg from the future.

• During the Grand Canyon vacation, Mikey wanders around the sharp rocks and sheer cliff walls. He steps on a weak spot in the ground and falls into a large cave. The way the scene's shot, it looks like he falls at least a hundred feet. After he takes the carved stones from the altar, he casually strolls right out of the cave, and I swear it looks like he exits about five feet from where he fell into the hole. 

How the hell did that happen? Were there stairs in the cave? A really tall ladder? How'd he fall a hundred feet while staying at ground level?

• So five small rocks arranged on a makeshift altar are the only thing keeping these super-powerful evil entities from invading our world. Got it.

Good thing no one else ever discovered the cave in the past thousand years. Or that there was never an earthquake that dislodged the rocks.
 Who the hell would ever name a character "Bronny?" Especially these days, when My Little Pony fandom is still going strong? Every time I type her name I can't help but think "Brony."

• Apparently Mikey doesn't go to any kind of school. We see Stephanie come and go to class every day, so obviously the story's taking place during the school year, but Mikey— who looks to be at least ten— stays home every day with Bronny. She doesn't even appear to be homeschooling him. Shouldn't he be in some sort of special class for kids with his condition?

• Who the hell is Jenny? When strange things begin happening in the Taylor house, Mikey blames them on his new imaginary friend, who he calls Jenny. Later on we find out that the "Sky People" are behind all the occurrences.

I refuse to believe that any of these ancient demons from pre-history goes by the name of "Jenny."

Also, at one point Bronny goes grocery shopping, and takes Mikey with her. He begs her for a helium-filled balloon, and she gives in and says yes. He then says that "Jenny" would like one as well, looking at her expectantly. Smash cut to the Taylor home, where we see two balloons floating in Mikey's room.


So apparently the evil, world-conquering Sky People like playing with balloons.

OK, later on we're told that the Sky People like to abduct children, so I suppose it's possible that "Jenny" was one of kids, and they're using her spirit or something to try and indoctrinate Mikey. I get the feeling I've put way more thought into this issue than the screenwriters did.

• I'm a big fan of actress Ming Na Wen, and have been watching her in movies and TV since the 1980s. It pains me to see her starring in dreck like this. Surely there are better parts for her than derivative, watered-down PG-13 horror films like this one?

• Kevin Bacon and Ming-Na Wen are both 1980s soap opera veterans. Bacon starred as alcoholic teen Tim Werner on The Guiding Light, while Wen played Vietnamese refugee Lien Hughes on As The World Turns.

• Bronny discovers her daughter Stephanie is bulimic. A couple things here:

First of all, every time Steph eats something, she retires to her room where she chastely vomits into a plastic bag and seals it inside a Tupperware container (awesome product placement!). Bronny finds several hundred of these containers under Steph's bed. Jesus Christ! Did it never once occur to this air-headed teen to quietly dump the Tupperware in the trash? Did she really think no one would ever notice the large, festering vomit cemetery under her bed?

Secondly, after her family discovers her condition, they take her to a therapist. And that's the end of that! We see her go in for one session, and the problem is never mentioned again! I'm pretty sure it takes years to get over bulimia. If ever.


Kevin Bacon gets a good look at the script in The Darkness.
• Bronny does a google search, and conveniently finds a YouTube video (with the logo strangely scrubbed off) explaining Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About The Sky People, But Were Afraid To Ask. Yep, there's nothing more riveting that watching a character in a movie surf the internet!

We then see a montage of the webpages and articles she finds. They look like they contain pertinent information that would be good to know, but they fly by much too fast to for us to read, making me wonder why they bothered with them in the first place.



• I could overlook most of the film's many, many similarities to Poltergeist, except for one— calling in the occult expert to clean the house. They might as well have just taken footage of Tangina Barrons and spliced it directly into The Darkness. It's that blatant. Teresa Morales, the spiritual medium here, does everything but shout, "Cross over, children! All are welcome! GO INTO THE LIGHT!"

• The end of the film is a huge cheat. Peter finds out that Mikey stole the carved stones from the Grand Canyon cave, which released the Sky People from their exile. One he discovered that, I figured he'd get in his car, drive all the way back to the Grand Canyon and replace the stones on the cave altar. Nope!

The Sky People very helpfully open up a portal in the wall of Mikey's room. This allows Peter and Mikey to step through the portal and instantly teleport several hundred miles to the cave where the stones were found. Once inside the cave, Mikey replaces the stones, which banishes the Sky People back to their own dimension.

Why the hell would the Sky People do this? They basically just helped Peter destroy them!

Oddly enough, once the stones are replaced and the spirits vanquished, the portal is considerate enough to stay open long enough for Peter and Mikey to step back through into their home. 

• The final scene of the film, in which the Taylors are picnicking in the sunshine, apparently free of all their problems, was unintentionally hilarious. These people were all at each other's throats earlier, and now they're apparently blissfully free of all their problems. 

Yes, we're told that the Sky People amplify negative emotions and cause people to argue and fight. But the Taylors all seemed like they hated one another before the demons came to live with them. I ain't buying their over the top, 1950s sitcom family act.

The Darkness is a bland mess of a film that's a virtual carbon copy of the original Poltergeist. Unfortunately it proves that stealing from a good film often results in a poor one. Don't bother seeing this one in the theater— stay home and re-watch Poltergeist again. I give it a C-.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 16: Legendary

It's the season finale of Legends Of Tomorrow!

SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!

For weeks now I've been hoping the show would have the good sense to kill off Vandal Savage in the finale episode of the season, as I was not looking forward to watching the Legends try to kill him for the next five seasons. Fortunately we got to see his demise this week, clearing the way for a new big bad next season.

I was never a fan of Savage and his storyline in the first place. I'm sure a big part of that was due to actor Casper Crump and his serious lack of charisma. He never seemed like much of a threat to me, and turned in a very lackluster performance from week to week. 
He finally started growing into the role in the past few episodes, but by then it was too little, too late.

Savage even had a dull superpower— immortality. That's it? He couldn't fly or shoot lasers from his eyes, lord no— that might have actually been exciting. Instead his sole power was not dying. How spectacularly uninteresting. His immortality was problematic for the Legends as well. Every time Savage appeared the Legends had to lose, else there'd be no more show. This constant failure to stop him made them look inept and incompetent.

This was especially true of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, as their lives were inextricably intertwined with Savage. According to the Hawks, they've been trying to kill Savage for the past 4,000 years, and they failed every single time! Even worse, he managed to kill them in every one of their 209 reincarnated lives! This endless cycle just made the Hawks look like a couple of incompetent ninnies.

Supposedly Hawk and Hawkgirl won't be returning next season. I'm completely fine with that development, especially since there wasn't really anywhere for their story to go now that Savage is dead.

The show started out a bit dodgy, but improved greatly by the end. It looks like the early episodes were a 
shakedown cruise for the show, as the last three or four episodes finally began to gel and show real promise. It felt like the writers learned from their mistakes and tossed out the things that didn't work— like Savage, the turgid and unconvincing Hawkgirl/Atom romance, and even the uninteresting Hawks themselves. Now that they've jettisoned all that, I'm hopeful the series will continue to improve in Season 2.

Despite its problems, I like the series quite a bit. I'm especially fond of the way it fully embraces the insanity of its Silver Age comic book roots. If the sight of a hundred foot tall Atom battling a giant, glowing robot doesn't bring a smile to your face, you're already dead.

The past two episodes have named dropped the Thanagarians, so I assumed they were going to be the new villains for Season 2. According to producer Marc Guggenheim this isn't the case, which makes me wonder why they brought them up in the first place.


Like most viewers, I fully expected Rip Hunter to somehow save his family in this episode. I was VERY surprised when that didn't happen. It looks like they're not only merely dead, they're really most sincerely dead. Kudos to the writers for taking the unexpected road and making such a risky move.


ONE LAST SPOILER WARNING!

The Plot:
The Waverider lands in Star City in 2016. The Legends disembark, and Hunter explains he's brought them all back home because Vandal Savage has disappeared and the mission is a complete failure. The team protests and they all want to try and stop Savage one last time, but Hunter says he's made up his mind. It turns out he's a holographic projection, and the Waverider flies away, leaving the team stranded.


For plot complication reasons, Hunter brought everyone back to May 2016 instead of January as he promised. White Canary goes to the Arrow Cave and finds her father Quentin Lance there, grieving. He says while she was gone her sister Laurel Lance was murdered by Damien Darhhhhhhhk, er, I mean Darhk.

In Central City, Heat Wave wastes no time reverting to his criminal ways, robbing a bank. Atom intercepts him, and says to honor the memory of the late Captain Cold, the two should become partners (!).

Professor Stein and his wife play Trivial Pursuit, but he can't concentrate. He tells his wife he has unfinished business and returns to the vacant lot where Hunter left them. There he finds the entire team milling around. They all want to finish the mission as well. Atom and Stein figure out a way to technobabble a message to the Waverider. Hunter receives their text and returns to 2016. The Legends tell him they're going to complete their mission and save the world, and they're not taking no for an answer.

In 1944 France, Hawkgirl apparently escaped from Vandal Savage and is fleeing through the forest. She encounters an American soldier, and recognizes his helmet (?) She writes a note and puts it inside his helmet lining. Just then Savage appears, kills the soldier and knocks her out.

On the Waverider, Canary threatens Hunter and demands he take her back to January so she can save Laurel. He tells her it's impossible, as "time wants to happen," and there's nothing she can do to prevent her sister's death. So... that pretty much makes their entire mission moot them, right? He then uses a device to knock her out. Problem solved! Jackson accidentally knocks over a WWII helmet in Hunter's office, and it turns out to be the very one Hawkgirl hid her note inside. Hunter reads the note, realizes where and when Savage is, and heads for 1944 France.

Back in 1944, Savage takes blood from the Hawks, and mononlogues his master plan to them. He says their blood will somehow activate the secret Thanagarian technology hidden inside the three meteors that landed in ancient Egypt and gave him and the Hawks their powers. Once he's activated the meteors, he can detonate them in three different time periods, erasing history and resetting it with himself in charge. Comic book science!

Savage attacks a Nazi convoy carrying one of the meteors. The Waverider arrives and the Legends attack. Firestorm rescues the Hawks. Firestorm accidentally transmutes a Nazi's rifle into sand. As everyone's fleeing back to the Waverider, Hawkgirl's knocked out and recaptured. Outnumbered, Hunter's forced to flee without Hawkgirl.

Savage uses his time ship to travel back to Harmony Falls in 1958 (where the events of Night Of The Hawk took place). He meets his past self as he discovers the meteor and hands him a vial of the Hawks' blood. He tells Past Savage to use the blood to activate the meteor and detonate it.

On board the Waverider, Stein and Jackson merge into Firestorm and practice their new-found transmutation ability. Stein deduces Savage's plan, and says they'll need to kill him in all three time periods: St. Roch in 2021, Harmony Falls in 1958 and Norway in 1975. Additionally, the radiation from the meteors will temporarily suppress Savage's immortality, so anyone will be able to kill him, not just the Hawks. That's some fancy deducing on Stein's part, especially since he's pulling this theory directly out of his ass with no proof or testing. The Legends then split into three teams to kill Savage simultaneously in each time period. Atom and Heat Wave go to 1958, Firestorm and Canary go to 1975, and Hunter and Hawkman go to 2021.

All three versions of Savage begin the ritual. In 2021, Hawkgirl frees herself and joins Hawkman and Hunter. The battle rages across three different eras. Eventually the Legends get the upper hand. In 1958, Heat Wave beats the crap out of Savage and incinerates him with his flame gun (!). In 1975, Canary snaps Savage's neck (!!). And in 2021, Hawkgirl stabs Savage in the heart with his own knife (!!!). Hunter then grabs him and throws him against a generator, electrocuting him (!!!!). I gotta say, it was satisfying watching him die three times.

The meteors then threaten to explode. Atom shrinks the 1958 meteor, causing it to explode in a harmless puff of smoke. Firestorm turns the 1975 meteor into water. Gideon then time jumps and brings all the Legends to 2021. Unfortunately, the 2021 meteor can't be disabled for reasons. If it explodes it'll destroy the Earth (of course).

Hunter places the meteor into the Waverider and flies it toward the sun. As the ship begins to shake apart, he hallucinates his dead wife and son are with him. Suddenly Gideon comes online and says she'd rather not die, thanks. This snaps Hunter back to his senses, and he tells Gideon to prepare for one final jump, to twenty minutes in the past.

Hunter returns to the rooftop and tells the Legends he shot the meteor into the sun and returned. So... why didn't he do that in the first place? He says now that the Time Masters are gone, someone needs to protect the time stream, and says the Legends are welcome to join him.

Cut to 2016. Canary visits her sister's grave, and says she knows Laurel would want her to go with Hunter. Stein plays Trivial Pursuit with Clarissa (again!). Jackson enters and says it's time to go. Stein says he doesn't want to leave his wife, but she says being part of Firestorm is more important.

Back in 2013, Heat Wave visits a bar and meets Past Captain Cold. Heat Wave awkwardly tells the very confused Cold that he's his hero, and walks out. I guess Canary didn't want to visit her late sister in the past?

After the various goodbyes are said, the Legends meet in another vacant lot. The Hawks say they've decided not to sign on for another mission, as they want to enjoy their Savage-free lives. Good riddance to them, I say! The rest of the team prepares to board the ship when a second Waverider appears, and crash-lands in front of them. A mysterious man exits and tells them if they get on their ship they'll all die. Heat Wave asks the man who the hell he is and how he knows that. He says Heat Wave himself sent him back to warn the Legends, and his name is Rex Tyler of the Justice Society Of America(sending squeals of delight throughout fandom).

Thoughts:

• Why does Hunter always wait until after the Waverider lands before he cloaks it? Wouldn't it make infinitely more sense to cloak it before it flies through a heavily populated city and alarms the entire populace, not to mention the police and military? I guess all those office buildings we see must be empty, or no one ever looks out their windows.

The real world reason for this is so we can get all those kewl shots of the ship coming in for a landing in a vacant lot. But within the universe of the show, it doesn't make any damned sense.

 After dumping the Legends in 2016, Hunter says says he'll go back to The Refuge, retrieve their infant selves and return them to their proper times so their adult selves don't disappear from the present. Even though it's ridiculous, I'm glad to see the writers remembered this dangling little plot point from Last Refuge.

 As Hawkgirl flees through the French countryside in 1944, she runs into an American soldier. She actually recognizes his helmet as one of the historical artifacts on display in Hunter's office, and places a note in it, hoping he'll find it decades later.

Jesus Christ! Not only is she the most observant person in the world to recognize the soldier's helmet as the same one in the Waverider, she's also got to be the luckiest. What are the odds she'd just happen to run into the one soldier in all of WWII who's wearing the exact helmet that somehow comes into Hunter's possession? Coincidence, thy name is Legends Of Tomorrow!

And that doomed soldier better not have been Sgt. Rock! The helmet certainly looked like Rock's, but surely the producers wouldn't be dumb enough to waste such a major character from the comics by killing him thirty seconds after his introduction.

• Why did Hunter take the Legends back to May 2016 instead of January? All season he's been assuring them he could return them a second after they left, then suddenly in this episode he has some lame technobabble excuse as to why he can't. What is this, Doctor Who?

Once again, the real world reason for returning to May is so Canary could arrive after her sister Laurel died, so she could agonize over that and give her a story arc in the episode. I have no idea what the in-show reason was though.

• When Canary demands Hunter take her back in time to save her sister Laurel, Hunter says it's not possible. He says he altered the timeline when he recruited Canary, as she was supposed to die alongside her sister. If she tries to go back, she'll be killed by Damien Darhk as well.

Additionally, Hunter says he's tried to prevent his wife and son from being killed dozens of times, but the time stream always asserted itself and won in the end. He tells Canary that no matter what she does, she can't change Laurel's death.

This pretty much makes the entire series moot, doesn't it? The whole point of the mission was to defeat Savage and save Hunter's family. If events truly can't be changed, then why the hell did he bother in the first place?

To make things worse, the Legends actually succeed in killing Savage in this episode. Three different times! 
So which is it, writers? Can events be changed or can't they? You can't have it both ways! Especially not in the same episode!

• When Savage steals the meteor in 1944, he's accompanied by a small army of grunts with hi-tech armor and blasters. Where the hell did they come from? Certainly not 1944! Did he use his jump ship to grab 'em in 2166 and bring them back to WWII?

• The Legends wonder why Savage went to 1944 and what he was doing there. Gideon helps out by providing surveillance footage showing Savage stealing a meteor. Um... surveillance camera footage in 1944? How the hell is that possible? 

• During the three-way battle between the Legends, Savage and the Nazis, Firestorm grabs hold of a soldiers gun and is shocked when it transforms into sand.

Huzzah! At long, long, LONG last, Firestorm finally gets the power to transmute objects from one substance to another. It's about damned time.

In the comics Firestorm could fly and shoot fire from his hands, but his primary power was always transmutation. If a thug shot at him, he could turn the bullets into water or flowers. 


Ever since he was introduced over on The Flash, Firestorm's been little more than a low-rent Human Torch. I was beginning to think he'd never manifest his full powers, so it's nice to finally see it happen.

I'm still struggling to get used to his "budget friendly" non-flaming head though, that only ignites when he flies.

• Savage's new master plan is to cause a time quake, which will shatter the timeline and take him back to 1700 BC. Once there, he'll set himself up as supreme ruler, and due to his foreknowledge, he'll now be a god.

Eh, I don't know about that. The guy's already been alive for 4000 years! If he couldn't figure out how to conquer the world in all that time, he never will!

Legends Of Tomorrow loves to throw in homages to time travel movies. This episode features a ton of them.

The whole "Contacting Someone In The Future By Hiding A Message In The Past " scene is very reminiscent of a similar occurance in the movie Frequency

The Legends splitting up to stop Savage in three different time periods had to have been a nod to All Good Things..., the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Hunter uses a hi-tech doodad to knock out an angry White Canary. Doc Brown did the same thing to an overly curious Jennifer in Back To The Future II.

And of course Hunter getting shot, toppling off the side of the skyscraper and then slowly rising back up while standing on the Waverider was an homage to Back To The Future II as well.

• Whoops! In both Marooned and River Of Time, Stein said he and Jackson couldn't form Firestorm inside the Waverider because the fusion reaction would damage the ship. So what do they do in this episode? They form Firestorm. Inside the ship. The resultant reaction is very small and contained and doesn't look like it scordhed the ship in the least. Sometimes I wonder if the writers watch past episodes before penning a new one. Or hope the audience doesn't remember things like this.

• It looks like everyone's officially decided to ignore the fact that this particular Hawkman is from the future and doesn't belong with this Hawkgirl. I believe Hawkgirl is on her 209th life (give or take one), but this Hawkman was taken from 2166. He's probably on his 211th or 212th life by now. They don't belong together. They're not a matched set. It's like the writers cheated to make them a couple again.


If this Future Hawkman is #211, what happened to his corresponding #211 Hawkgirl? Was she killed? Or his addled state, did he forget what happened to her and decide the 2016 Hawkgirl is good enough? I hope the 2166 Hawkgirl truly is dead, because if not she's going to waste her life looking for her partner and never find him.

• Heat Wave's primary weapon is a small flamethrower gun. Oddly enough, whenever he shoots someone with his gun they're usually just blown backward, with no other damage. Um… that's not how flamethrowers work.

Finally in this episode he fires at Savage and he goes up in flames like a high school homecoming bonfire. So I guess Heat Wave's gun is capable of shooting both lethal and non-lethal flames. Got it.

• Poor Arthur Darvill. Near the end of the episode, Rip Hunter finally gets to kill Vandal Savage. As Savage dies, he hisses through bloody teeth that Hunter hasn't won, as his family is still dead.

If you watch closely it looks like actor Casper Crump is spitting fake blood all over Darvill's face. Look closely at the still above, and you can see Darvill closing his eyes as the bloody spittle comes at him. Say it, don't spray it, Savage!

• While it was definitely satisfying to see Savage get killed in three different time periods, I'm not even going to attempt to explain how impossible that would be. OK, I'll try. 

Say on Monday he went back to 1944. Then Tuesday he goes to 1975. Wednesday he goes to 2021. If he's killed in 1944, then how could he go to the other periods? See what I mean?

• I loved it when the 1958 meteor was threatening to explode, and Atom simply shrank it so it went off with a barely audible "poof."


• To save the planet, Hunter puts the last meteor in the Waverider and pilots it toward the sun. This of course will kill him (and Gideon) in the process. Um... that seems needlessly complicated and dramatic. Why not just put the meteor in the Jump Ship and have Gideon program it to fly into the sun? Because then the writers couldn't generate tension and almost kill Hunter and have him come to his senses in the nick of time, that's why. It's cheap theatrics, and lazy writing.


• With the crisis over, Hunter says that now that the Time Masters have been blowed up real good, he's taking it upon himself to watch over the time stream and guard it himself. Oy gevalt! Welp, there goes the universe! Hunter's shown time and again that he's the worst captain EVER, and consistently makes the worst decisions possible. We're all doomed.

• After Savage is killed, Stein and his wife Clarissa sit in their living room playing Trivial Pursuit. Jackson comes in and says the Legends have decided to re-up for a new mission. Stein refuses to go, saying his place is at home with his wife. Clarissa says he'll regret it for the rest of his life if he stays home, and encourages him to go. Wait, did I say "encourages?" I meant "shoves him out the door."

Sounds to me like Clarissa's anxious to get Stein out of the house again! She got something going with the pool boy?

• At the very end of the episode, the Legends all meet Hunter, anxious to go on a new mission. A second Waverider then crash lands in front of them. A man gets out, gives them an ominous warning and says he's Rex Tyler of the Justice Society, and he'll be joining the cast next season. OK, so he doesn't really say that last part, but he is becoming a regular.


So who the heck is Rex Tyler?

In the comics, Rex Tyler was the superhero known as Hourman, who debuted in 1940. He was a chemist who came up with a wonder drug called "Miraclo," which, when taken, would grant him superhuman strength and speed for one hour. So he's basically Popeye with the spinach.

He had a son named Rick Tyler, who took up the Hourman mantle in the 1980s. It's a long and complicated story (of course), but eventually he also gained the additional ability to see an hour into the future. 

There was a third Hourman named Matthew Tyler, who was an android from the 853rd Century. He gave up most of his powers and spent his days wandering the timestream.

I'm betting the Hourman we see at the end of the episode is the original, who's only "super" for an hour. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually throw in Rick Tyler's precognition power too (hey, it worked for Cisco on The Flash!). 

As for the Justice Society, they were a team of superheroes who were the precursors to the more well-known Justice League. The Justice Society premiered in 1940, and the team is still in existence today. The roster's changed dramatically over the years, but the original members were Hourman (or Hour-Man as it was spelled then), Doctor Fate, the Spectre, Sandman, the Golden Age Atom (who couldn't shrink, but was just a short guy who punched people), the Golden Age Flash, the Golden Age Green Lantern and the Golden Age Hawkman.

I doubt they'll use the Golden Age Flash, Atom, Green Lantern or Hawkman here. Doctor Fate and the Spectre would be pretty cool though. There's a ton of other members who joined up later that they could use.

The Arrowverse shows are probably forbidden from using the Justice League, since Warner Bros. is currently filming a dark, gritty and murdery version of them for the big screen. So the Arrowverse producers are using the next best thing. The Hourman we saw here looked like he was wearing a fairly modern costume, so I doubt he's from the 1940s version of the Justice Society. I guess we'll find out for sure this fall.

This Is Why Al-Qaeda Hates America: Frosty Paws

You know how when you watch the news and see a story about al-Qaeda and they're always out in the streets chanting, "Death to America?" Did you ever wonder, "Gosh, what's their problem? Why do they hate us so much?"

It's because of things like this.

I saw this this past weekend in my local grocery store. Introducing Frosty Paws, the frozen treat for dogs! Frosty Paws are sugar-free and each cup comes packed with high-quality protein. It comes in Original Vanilla Flavor as well as Peanut Butter.

Look, I love dogs as much as the next guy. Maybe even more. If I could have my way, I'd have a whole house full of dogs. I'd rather spend time with dogs than most people I know.

That said… do we really need an ice cream treat formulated specifically for our canine friends? These are dogs we're talking about, after all. You know, the animals who live with us and drink out of the toilet and eat their own vomit and poo?

I feel kind of embarrassed when I think about all the starvation and malnutrition in the world, and we're making ice cream for dogs.

Plus, America's currently the 9th fattest country in the world. Do we have to give our dogs diabetes as well? 

One last thing. In my local supermarket, Frosty Paws are sold in the dairy case, right next to the ice cream sandwiches and sherbets for people. I have to wonder how many people out there saw these, thought the dog on the box was a regular old cartoon mascot, bought Frosty Paws for themselves and ate the entire box while binge-watching Orange Is The New Black?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Episode 22: Absolution & Episode 23: Ascension

It's the big Season 3 finale of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

WARNING! EPISODE SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON! PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!

It's also the end of the Hive Ward storyline, which was tied up with a surprisingly satisfying bow. I'll give Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. credit where it's due— the series seems to handle it's season-long arcs much better than other shows do. The Hive Ward plot was fairly well-paced, and there wasn't a lot of padding or filler. Every episode seemed to count, and served to progress the storyline a bit. 

I think the fact that there were several major arcs this year— rescuing Simmons from Maveth, Ward trying to restart HYDRAS.H.I.E.L.D. forced to work with the ATCU and the whole Hive Ward thing— helped the season from dragging. I wish more shows would adopt multiple arcs like this, instead of trying to drag one storyline out over twenty three episodes (I'm lookin' at you, Season 2 of The Flash!). 

The season finale also featured the highly publicized and hyped death of a major character. A few weeks back I correctly predicted it would be Lincoln. It wasn't hard who else could it have been? They wouldn't kill off Coulson, as he's the main character and has already died once. There's no way in hell the writers would ever kill off their precious Daisy, since they're still convinced that she's much more interesting than she really is. 

I doubted they'd kill May, as she's too valuable to the team. If they killed off Fitz or Simmons so soon after they finally got together, fans would burn down ABC Headquarters. Mack was safe too, since ABC wouldn't want to deal with the flack killing off the show's only black character would no doubt generate. And Yo-yo hasn't been on the show long enough for her death to be meaningful (sorry, Elana!). That pretty much left Lincoln as the victim.

The season finale's "shocking" death might have been more effective if ABC hadn't trumpeted that it was going to happen every goddamned week for the past six months. What the hell, guys? Foreshadowing's fine, but SCREAMING THAT AN AGENT WILL MAKE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE THAT WILL CHANGE THE TEAM FOREVER isn't.

Very often the people who film the promos are separate from the ones who produce the actual show, so I don't blame the S.H.I.E.L.D. creators for this. But ABC's Marketing Department definitely needs to tone it down a notch or twelve.

I think the writers were trolling the audience this week in regards to the big death. Thanks to Daisy's Vision Of Doom, we've known for some time now that whoever it was that died in outer space would possess a cross necklace. That necklace became part of a morbid game of Hot Potato in this episode, as it was passed from character to character, signalling the death of whoever was holding it when the music stopped.

It ended up being passed from Mack to Fitz to Daisy and then finally Lincoln. It all came very close to being laughable, but I think they reined themselves in just in time. Well done, writers! Way to scare your audience to death.
.
In potentially ominous news, the day the season finale premiered, ABC announced that next year Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is moving to the 10pm (9 for me) timeslot. Uh-oh. As they like to say in a certain space opera franchise, "I have a bad feeling about this."

ABC says the move is a good thing, as it'll allow the show to become "darker and more violent." Seriously, ABC? How much darker could it get? Especially after that horrifying face-melting scene a couple weeks ago, and this episode in which Mack operates on Yo-yo with a goddamned blowtorch!

It's possible ABC's telling the truth and just shuffling the schedule around, but it feels like the beginning of the end to me. In television, 10pm is traditionally known as the "death slot;" a place networks send shows to die. Add in the fact that this week ABC also cancelled Agent Carter and passed on Marvel's Most Wanted for the second time, and it's starting to feel like the networks trying to phase out the TV division of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I have an uneasy feeling that Season 4 will be the last...

LAST CHANCE TO AVOID SPOILERS!

The Plot(s):
Daisy has a weird dream where she and Coulson are on Maveth, which goes nowhere and has absolutely nothing to do with the episode. She wakes up in her cell at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, where she's under observation after being freed from Hive Ward's brain-altering influence. Simmons questions Daisy about Hive, especially what the word "absolution" means in relation to him. Daisy says she's already told her everything she knows.


At a secret island missile base, Hive Ward supervises as Giyera places the Inhuman virus into the warhead he stole from the government. Hive Ward worries that S.H.I.E.L.D. will try to stop them, but Giyera says there's nothing to worry about, as their radar will spot any approaching aircraft, even if cloaked.

Meanwhile May's piloting the Zephyr One with Mack, Lincoln and Yo-yo on board. I guess they called Yo-yo back in and she changed her mind about working with S.H.I.E.L.D. between episodes, while we weren't looking. Lincoln and Yo-yo are both wearing murder vests, in case Hive Ward tries to take over their minds. Mack asks May how she's doing, and she replies that the ship "wasn't designed for this." Suddenly it rises up out of the ocean and flies low over the trees of Hive Ward's missile island, neatly evading the radar (shades of Star Trek Into Darkness!).

Hive Ward starts the countdown to activate the missile. Coulson, Fitz and General Talbot desperately try to wrestle the missile kill codes from the government. After a complex and convoluted effort, they manage to get the codes just in time and deactivate the missile. Hive Ward hisses "S.H.I.E.L.D.," and orders Dr. Radcliffe to fix the warhead. Radcliffe pulls a McCoy and says, "I'm a doctor, not an engineer," but after a menacing glare from Hive Ward, says he'll see what he can do. May and her team infiltrate Hive Ward's base. Mack and Yo-yo set up a device in a corridor, while May and Lincoln search for the base's crew, who Hive Ward is holding hostage. Hive Ward confronts Lincoln, and offers to possess him as he did Daisy. Lincoln says thanks but no, and takes off running.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson tells Daisy her incarceration is temporary, and she shouldn't blame herself for the things she did under Hive's influence. He says Hive's mind control was like a drug, and she's going through withdrawal.

Lincoln runs into Mack and Yo-yo, who aren't finished with their trap. When Lincoln says Hive's right behind him, Yo-yo finishes installing the device at super speed. Hive Ward appears in the corridor, and Lincoln uses his power to charge the trap. It shocks the crap out of Hive, frying his brain and crippling him with pain. Mack, Yo-yo and Lincoln make a hasty retreat.

James and Giyera find the decimated Hive Ward, who's muttering phrases from his past memories. Yo-yo rescues the hostages, while May finds Radcliffe, who's still trying to fix the warhead. He begs her to take him with her. Just then the ceiling opens up, and Giyera uses mind-lifts the warhead into a stolen Quinjet and flies off with it. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Radcliffe and the hostages all head for Zephyr One. Suddenly Hive Ward appears, blocking their path. Yo-yo zips over to him and activates a device that encases him in an ATCU gel chamber. So why didn't Coulson have her do that weeks ago?

The agents bring the neutralized Hive Ward back to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, as Coulson locks down the base. Talbot congratulates Coulson on a job well done. Coulson says the mission isn't over yet, as the warhead is still out there. FitzSimmons works with Dr. Radcliffe to find a way to turn Hive Ward's Primitives back into humans. Coulson praises Lincoln for his actions at the base, and says he'll make a great agent. Uh-oh! He just painted a big ol' target on Lincoln's back. 

Mack goes to visit Daisy, inadvertently dropping the cross necklace that Yo-yo gave him last week. It's the same necklace Daisy's been seeing in her "Someone's Gonna Die In Space" vision for the past several episodes. Mack tells Daisy that he forgives her for trying to kill him, since she was under Hive's influence. Daisy says it's not safe to have Hive Ward inside the base, even in stasis, and says he should be destroyed.

Fitz catches Simmons booking a romantic vacation for the two of them. Gah! Stop tempting the script writing gods by being happy! Fitz goes to inspect Hive Ward's chamber, sees the cross necklace on the floor, picks it up and puts it in is pocket. Now HE'S got the target on his back!. Fitz checks out Hive Ward's gel chamber and approves it. Just then a shipping container labeled Absolution, Montana (so that's what it meant) explodes, flooding the hangar with Radcliffe's Human-To-Inhuman gas. One of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents is enveloped in the gas and turns into a Primitive. It pulls another agent into the cloud, and he transforms as well. Fitz can't escape the hangar due to the lockdown. Simmons manages to override the computer and open the hangar door, allowing Fitz to escape in the nick of time.

The Primitives then free Hive Ward from the gel chamber. Daisy watches all this unfold on a security monitor. She realizes that Hive Ward just used the old "Supervillain Gets Captured On Purpose" ruse in order to enter the base, get access to Zephyr One and use it to disperse the Inhuman virus across the world. She escapes her cell and confronts Hive. Due to the brain-frying he received earlier, he doesn't remember her. She begs him to repossess her and end her pain. He reaches out, but pulls his hand back as if burned. He says he can't, as Lash made her immune to his influence.

Furious, Daisy blasts Hive Ward with her quake powers as the two engage in an epic battle. Daisy pins Hive against a wall and stabs him multiple times, but he's unaffected. She quakes him hard, breaking his bones, but he simply snaps them back into place! He somehow manages to turn the tide and knock her out. James and Giyera arrive, and Hive carries Daisy into the Zephyr One.

Meanwhile twenty eight S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have been transformed into Primitives, and battle Coulson and the others. A Primitive opens fire on Mack, but Yo-yo uses her superspeed to snatch all the bullets out of the air. Well, all except for one. Somehow she's hit in the side and collapses. Mack lays Yo-yo out on a table, and determines she's losing a lot of blood. He can't get her to the medlab, so he uses a blowtorch to cauterize her wound. Jesus Christ!

Hive Ward uses the memories of Will Daniels (the guy who was marooned on Maveth) and Grant Ward to pilot Zephyr One out of the hangar. He starts heading straight for the upper edge of the atmosphere so he can disperse the Inhuman virus all over the Earth. Unknown to him, May and Fitz have stowed away onboard. They find Daisy, who's regained consciousness. Daisy again says she did terrible things under Hive's control, and deserves to die. May says Andrew, aka Lash, wouldn't have saved her if that were true. Just then Giyera knocks out May from behind. Fitz shoots and kills Giyera with a cloaked gun. They make their way to the Zephyr One's lab. Fitz notices Daisy's shivering, and gives her his coat, complete with cross necklace in the pocket. Now Daisy's "It!"

Coulson and the others retake the base from the Primitives. Coulson uses the communicator in his bionic arm to summon a Quinjet. He intends to dock it with Zephyr One and stop Hive Ward. The Quinjet arrives, everyone piles on board, and it docks with Zephyr One. Inside the plane, Coulson confronts Hive Ward. They banter for a bit, and Hive Ward finally shows his true, Cthulhu-y tentacled form. He attacks Coulson, who turns out to be a hologram.

Lincoln (who was in Coulson's boarding party) is attacked by James. Lincoln zaps him and knocks him out. Unfortunately James used his power to energize Lincoln's vest, which explodes and injures him. As Simmons treats Lincoln, Daisy apologizes to him for everything that's happened. He says he knows she wasn't herself, and forgives her.

Coulson plans to move the warhead to the Quinjet, then fly it into outer space, where it'll explode harmlessly (killing him in the process). Daisy hears this and decides to take Coulson's place and sacrifice herself instead. As she quakes the warhead into the Quinjet, Hive Ward finds her. He says he'll just use Ward's knowledge to override anything she does, ensuring the warhead explodes in the atmosphere.

Lincoln appears and says that's not going to happen, as he zaps Daisy out of the Quinjet and takes off with Hive Ward onboard. He fries the controls so Hive can't override them. Daisy calls Lincoln on the comm, and says she's the one who's supposed to sacrifice herself according to her vision. She reaches into her pocket and realizes the cross necklace is gone. Lincoln admits he stole it from her, thus ensuring her premonition comes true. Daisy pleads with Coulson to bring back the Quinjet, but he says Lincoln made it impossible. The Quinjet exits the atmosphere and enters outer space. Lincoln and Hive Ward sit quietly next to one another, calmly facing their deaths. The cross necklace floats through the cockpit as the Quinjet explodes, just like in Daisy's vision.

Smash cut to six months later, when we see Coulson and Mack staking out a location. Daisy appears on the street below, and talks with a woman and her young daughter. We see they're the family of Charles, the precognitive Inhuman from Spacetime, who triggered Daisy's visions of death in the first place. Apparently Daisy's taken to robbing banks, as she gives a fortune to Charles' family to help them relocate. Daisy gives Charles' daughter the wooden robin he carved for her. Coulson calls in the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to capture Daisy, but she quakes herself onto a nearby rooftop and disappears. Coulson tells Mack to call the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (!) and report that they failed.

Dr. Radcliffe enters his lab, happy that his hearings are over. He speaks to AIDA, his personal artificial intelligence program, and says it's her birthday. He activates a switch and we get a dim look at AIDA's humanoid body behind a frosted glass.

Thoughts:
• What the heck was up with that beginning dream sequence with Daisy and Coulson stranded on Maveth? I expected it to somehow become relevant later on, but nothing ever came of it and was quickly forgotten about. If there was any significance to Daisy's fragile, post-Hive psyche, it flew over my head.

• It was interesting that Daisy's feelings of pain and self-loathing after being freed from Hive Ward's influence described as withdrawal symptoms. I wasn't expecting that, and it was a unique spin on a well-worn scifi subject. 


• When the Primitives overrun the base, Coulson and the others are forced to hide from them. Simmons observes a Primitive and determines that they can only see infrared. She then cranks up the heat in the base to 100
º, effectively blinding the Primitives to everyone's presence.

It was a pretty good idea on her part, but really, 100º? That's it? The normal human body temperature is 98.6º. So less then two more degrees is apparently all it takes to render humans invisible to Primitives. Now THAT'S a narrow range of vision!

UPDATE! After thinking about this for a couple of days, I realize I was way off base here, and was looking at it from the wrong angle. The Primitives have infrared vision, right? So in a pleasant 72º environment, a person with a body temperature of 98.6º is going to stand out like a torch. But in a 100º environment, a person would be virtually invisible. Simmons simply made the environment the same temperature (give or take) as the human body.

For some reason I was starting with the room being 100º, which is totally wrong. So never mind! The writers were right!

• When one of the Primitives fires at Mack, Yo-yo saves him with her superspeed, grabbing all the bullets before they can hit him. Unfortunately one of the bullets pierces her in the side. Yo-yo, the Inhuman who can move faster than the human eye can see. Get's shot. By a bullet.

This makes twice now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that someone with superspeed was hit by a bullet. The exact same thing happened to Quicksilver in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. I'm starting to think the Marvel writers don't understand what the term "superspeed" means.

• During his battle with Daisy, Hive Ward does the superhero landing!

• Deadpool would be proud!

• When Hive Ward confronts Coulson on Zephyr One, he finally reveals his true face. His face looked pretty darned cool, especially for a TV series.Unfortunately that darn ol' TV budget popped up yet again, only allowing them to show his true form for one brief scene.

• As soon as Coulson appeared on Zephyr One, I knew he was a hologram, just like former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Felix Blake. Something about the stiff, immovable way he was standing gave it away. 

So I guess the unexpected return of Blake a few weeks ago in Watchdogs was written just to introduce interactive holographic technology to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? That had to be the reason, because Blake's appearance went nowhere and contributed absolutely nothing to the plot.

• As Hive Ward soliloquizes about his Master Plan, James realizes the entire population of the world will be transformed into Primitives. Naturally his only concern is that there'll be no more hot looking women left.

• Math is hard! Coulson's plan involves programming the Quinjet to fly 100,000 feet straight up, where it'll explode and harmlessly disperse the Inhuman virus. Somebody's math is off somewhere here. 100,000 feet is about nineteen miles. Outer space is generally considered to begin around sixty two miles above Earth.

• Daisy to sacrifice herself and destroy the warhead. She then uses her quake powers to move the warhead into the Quinjet. Does that seem like a good idea? Bombarding a sensitive warhead with vibrational waves?

• When Lincoln decides to sacrifice himself, he steals the cross necklace from Daisy, so her vision will proceed as planned and prophecy will be fulfilled. So what would have happened if he hadn't stolen it? What if he'd just quietly slipped on board the Quinjet without it? Would that have nullified the prophecy? Would he have lived?

• Someone on the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. writing staff really, really liked the goodbye scene between Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger. Lincoln and Daisy's goodbye, as he flew the doomed Quinjet into outer space, was practically a carbon copy of the movie. Any second I expected Daisy to tell Lincoln he owed her a dance.

• The Quinjet makes it to outer space, and Hive Ward realizes he's been defeated. I was expecting Hive and Lincoln to battle one another to their last breath as the Quinjet broke up around them. Kudos to the writers for going in a completely different direction. The two sit quietly next to one another and express their regrets.
Their calm acceptance of their dual fates was very effective, and much more emotionally resonant than a battle would have been.

• I hate to see Ward go, as he's become quite an interesting villain since Season 1. On the other hand, it's always better to "leave 'em wanting more" than to overstay your welcome. Another season of Evil Ward feels like it would be one too many.

• After the six month time jump, Coulson's staking out a park. We see a newspaper clipping in his room that reads "Who is Quake?" That's Daisy's codename in the comics, so it's nice to finally see it used on the show.

• After Lincoln's death, Daisy apparently quit S.H.I.E.L.D. and has become a superpowered Robin Hood, knocking down banks and giving their money to the poor. She's also apparently a big fan of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, as she's "disguised" herself as Lizbeth Salander.

• Dr. Radcliffe returns to his lab, apparently having been cleared of all charges. He activates a program labeled "LMD." As all good Marvel fans know, this means "Life Model Decoy." As the name suggests, they're lifelike robots, undetectable from the real thing, that are used by agents and dignitaries as decoys in dangerous situations.

Tony Stark mentioned them in The Avengers, but I think (and am probably wrong) that this is the first time we've heard of them on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

• There's actually a Holden Radcliffe in the comics. In the Machine Teen comic, Radcliffe was a businessman obsessed with creating an army of android super soldiers. One of this employees created a robot named A.D.A.M. that went rogue. Radcliffe was then set on getting "his" stolen technology back.


So it looks like Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has taken the A.D.A.M. robot, flipped its gender, renamed it AIDA, and had Radcliffe invent it.

By the way, I just realized that Radcliffe is played by John Hannah, who was in all three of the Brendan Frasier Mummy movies.

• Best Line Of The Episode (and possibly the whole season):

Holographic Coulson (to Hive Ward): "Plus, I've always wanted to do this. Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."

• See you next season!
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