Coulson and the team find themselves stranded on a mysterious ship in outer space.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. kicks off its fifth season with a game changing opening in a two episode debut. As the fourth season wrapped up we saw that the Agents were no longer on Earth and were aboard a ship of some sort. Where are they? How did this happen? Some of those answers are found in the two episodes in what might be the strongest debut of any season.
Lets start with the story.
The team is disconnected, separated, and have no idea where they are. They need to figure out what’s happened and the episode is mostly them doing exactly that. It all flows nicely and through it all we’re introduced to the situation, the goal, and who the villains are. But the bigger question is, are they really the villains? This season feels like a tough one when it comes to that with a slightly more ambiguous situation.
But, what’s truly impressive is the twist that’s revealed as to exactly what the situation is. It’s not what I expected at all and there’s so much mystery left to figure out, not to mention how it all ties together with the rest of the live action Marvel universe.
The characters too are great. There’s some amazing lines by Mac and it’s clear that the writers are having fun with the genre and situation they’re all in. There’s some jokes about the situation, about some tropes, it’s just fun.
The story is solid and the production value has increased as well. The special fx look like the budget is higher and there’s a focus on the visuals. The aliens too look solid fitting well into the existing Marvel movie universe. It’s interesting and the only downside is that there’s a lot of darkness so it’s hard at times to tell exactly what’s going on. It’s good and forces you to pay more attention but it’s a downside too.
The two episodes together make for the strongest debut of any season so far. The characterizations are great, action is is solid, and special fx are improved. Hopefully this isn’t a fluke and what we can expect for the season going forward.
Overall Score: 9.45
Just as Oliver starts getting things in order, Black Siren launches another attack on Star City.
Arrow has a rather bizarre plot of taking down the internet which is clearly a feint but generally it’s an episode that feels like it needs to get us somewhere, but isn’t sure how to do it.
The episode revolves around Felicity and her attempt to have a renewed relationship with Oliver while superheroing gets in the way. That’s the best aspect of the episode. We get to see Oliver deal with what he’s pulled so many times on so many others. There’s something solid about seeing a woman doing this to a man. Yay progress?
But, the bad is that what’s distracting her is her past dealings with Helix and her hacker friends. I wasn’t a big fan of that storyline and it seems like for at least the short term that’s going to be the focus of a big bad. We get a plot about taking down the internet and of course it’s a small piece of the big picture but there’s just such a suspension of disbelief of “this is how the internet works” that took me out of the episode. The “action” aspect of the episode lacked. It lacked a lot. So, it’s best to try to focus on the positive, Felicity and Oliver’s relationship, but that has issues too.
Oliver has a son… remember? This episode feels like it forgets that as the kid feels like he’s nowhere to be seen as Oliver bounces around being Mayor and also having time to meet with his former team. When’s he taking care of the kid? For a person who wants to focus on raising his son this episode feels like he’s not really doing that.
A low point in an otherwise improved season, the episode just had too many frustrating aspects that take you out of what is clearly an episode getting things focused on where the season is going.
Overall rating: 6.75
A rogue team led by Onyx breaks into Kord Industries and steals something lethal; Oliver struggles to connect with William, so he reaches out a surprising source for help.
Arrow has Diggle taking the reigns in his first outing as group leader and as the Green Arrow. Things don’t go all that well though. The episode has a rather boring villain, instead focusing on the team and their interaction with this new dynamic.
To see Diggle not be perfect is actually interesting and to see him doubt himself does quite a lot to really get you think about Oliver’s leadership. The episode’s strength is really focused on that and by the end of the episode things look in a better place, a good thing because playing this out too long and it’d all get rather dull and down.
But, there’s not just Diggle’s leadership but also how everyone reacts to that. Not everyone is on board and folks are noticing that it’s not a smooth transition. Where that dissatisfaction will lead to the future will be intriguing and it sets up a good dynamic between everyone.
What’s also good about the episode is that it allows Oliver to spend time with his son and attempt to bond with him. This is not his father’s son and the episode focuses on his son being a kid and having issues at school. It takes a series that has had issues with the fantastical these last few seasons and grounds things making them relatable. It also forces Oliver to rethink priorities and his relationships with some major movement in his love life by the end of the episode.
With a downplayed villain “Next of Kin” focuses more on the character than the actions creating an episode that’s much stronger for it.
Overall rating: 8.05
Oliver must deal with the fallout of the explosion on the island.
Arrow kicks off the sixth season diving right into the ramifications of the previous season finale and setting up what’s to come this season.
For the most part, this episode is vastly improved over all of last season. The first part I like is that the episode deals with the last season in flashbacks teasing out what happened with each and we’re presented one character at a time and how they’ve been impacted. The bad is, we know how everyone is, something that could easily have been played out longer to create more tension. I can’t help but think this way of plotting out the story could have been stretched out a few more episodes for a reveal one or two more episodes down the line. Instead, we’re caught up and while seeing how everyone is going forward it feels like an opportunity has been missed.
The good about the episode is that things are rather grounded in a way and it’s all presented so that it’s more “street level” than the previous few episodes which went off the rails as far as that. Black Siren is back and we’re told why she’s out for revenge in flashbacks so we get a few head fakes.
The episode also has a twist at the end which unfortunately feels like something we’ve seen multiple times and is the “go to” plotline that’s been tread too many times in the television series and I’ve lost caught in the comics. Crossing my fingers that it plays out better than past stories.
The season has started stronger than the last few and it’s one of the stronger episodes of the series and the strongest in quite some time. A good start so we’ll see where it goes.
Overall rating: 8.45
Alicia and Nick fall in with new crowds; Madison discovers Otto’s past mimics her own.
Fear the Walking Dead slows things down after the exciting debut double episodes of this season and we learn more about the Otto ranch as an ominous cloud feels like it slightly rolls in.
The episode kicks off with a video featuring the Ottos that plays intot he show later as we get a more definitive take as to what their deal is. From the short 30 second opener it’s clear that the Ottos are survivalist of the stereotypical type and Jeremiah is looked up to for his “predicting” the fall. There’s an undercurrent of religion but it’s mostly anti-government focused.
What’s interesting though is that we see some outtakes from Otto’s video later and we learn more about him and his family and why he’s the way he is. It’s tragic in many ways and Madison is able to relate to him a little more over it. Jeremiah though comes off as a bit tragic, sad, and a monster over it all. We also get a better sense of the Ottos as a whole and why one son is good and the other, not so much.
Through the madness of it all, we get a better view of Madison and her family as well. Nick is out of it as usual, scheming and planning and just not all there. Alicia goes the other side assimilating well in a Carol sort of way.
Then there’s Strand who we get a better idea as to where he was going and what’s on his mind. The series would be stronger if they cut him from the episodes and their short bits, instead saving them for an entire episode and longer segment. The short bits aren’t enough, but it’s clear his story will eventually dovetail back.
The episode isn’t bad, it’s just not as strong as the previous one. While the first two episodes were the introduction and a lot of the set up, this episode begins to play out what’s been lined up. As part of the whole it’ll be fine and while there’s some interesting moments, the episode is ok to watch but not all that exciting or intriguing… until those final moments, when things are pulled out from under us and thought lost character returns.
Overall Rating: 7.07
The Clark family find themselves in a terrible predicament; Strand faces resistance as he attempts to hold power.
Fear the Walking Dead kicks off its third season with two episodes that shakes things up. To say it shakes things up is an understatement. New characters are introduced, new locations are explored, more dynamics are set up, and a major character apparently dies. A lot of criticism has been levied towards the series and this first two episodes feels like it addresses some of them by upping the action and really shaking things up.
When the last season ended we saw individuals dressed in military uniforms either shooting or capturing some of the individuals we’ve come to know and this episode drops us into the horror as those same military individuals are murdering them to see how long before they turn. It’s twisted and weird but from that a lot of conflict arises and it’s best to not reveal everything.
There’s lots of good in the fact that we’re dropped in the action and there’s a hell of a lot of conflict. The bad is some of that conflict deescalates rather quickly. It does come off as using each other for convenience but the fact there’s not a bigger grudge on display is a bit of a headscratcher. There’s easy ways to explain this away but it’s a little odd and stands out as the biggest negative of the first two episodes.
The new locations and characters are what really stands out. We’re taken to a new community that feels like a ranch the Bundy’s might like while taking a stand against the government. They mention they’re putting together a new society and community, which adds a slight ominous tone to what otherwise would be Herschel’s Farm Part 2. And that all is part of the excitement of these first two episodes. Lots of new characters and locations and we have to figure out who is on the level and who will be an obstacle and threat.
The episode too also catches us up on Strand who everyone thinks is a doctor for that truth is revealed. The episode may have been stronger without that and more being devoted in another, but his short segment does answer some questions that have been left hanging last season.
But, the biggest thing is the death of a major character. The fact the season kicks off with a major character seemingly dying (and I’d be surprised if they survived) lets us viewers know that everything is on the table and anything can happen. It also greatly shifts the dynamic as to what this season may bring.
The third season kicks off in a way that I’m excited to see what happens the entire show is shaken up in a way that it feels like a whole new series. What might happen? We’ll find out and I’m excited to see. I wasn’t excited about the series returning but after this episode I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Overall Rating: 7.97
Oliver assembles a group of unlikely allies – Slade, Nyssa, Merlyn, and Digger Harkness – to engage in an epic battle against Chase and his army.
Arrow wraps up its fifth season with an episode that’s generally good though feels like it’s both stretched out and compacted at the same time.
The good is the episode wraps up Oliver’s Russian adventures and we get to see glimpses of his heading home, which is a new revelation and answers some questions. That all feels a bit packed in and could be an entire episode on its own.
Most of the episode is focused on taking on Chase and action scene moves to fight scene moves to action scene with fights that feel like they’re choreographed well or not at all. It’s an odd experience as things look tight are a bit sloppy. That’s apparent early on when Oliver takes a swing in a badly delivered punch.
In the few moments where there’s not fighting or running for safety, there’s reflections on what it means to be a father with Deathstroke and Merlyn sounding somewhat reasonable. The moments are a bit bizarre as they’re in danger, but there’s enough time to talk about fatherhood? The scenes are good, but the situation they’re in between they feel odd.
Then there’s the ending which I’m not about to ruin, but it doesn’t feel like an ending at all instead it’s an unresolved aspect of the episode. Yes, it’s a cliffhanger, but in this case it doesn’t feel like it’s a good payoff it feels like something that should be resolved within the season. It’s hard to describe, but something didn’t sit right.
It’s not a bad episode, but as a season finale, something feels like it’s missing.
Overall rating: 7.45
Liv and her boyfriend become closer when she shares the brain of a former daredevil with him; Blaine is back to his old ways; Ravi makes progress in his new research; a discover puts Major in grave danger.
iZombie is an ok episode with one focused on the murder of a daredevil and an attempt to move the various stories forward. The issues lay in the fact the murder mystery isn’t all that interesting and while Rose McIver is her usual amazing self in the acting aspect, it’s not enough to distract from the rest of what’s going on.
There’s some focus on Liv and her boyfriend which is a rather blah storyline. The attraction is clear but the case hasn’t quite been made to me caring.
Then there’s Major being human now and cured. Why doesn’t he quit his job? I can’t figure this out. Why put himself in danger?
Then there’s Blaine, who’s back to his old self. While it’s interesting to see him get his revenge it has a been there done that aspect to it.
The good of the episode is a bit more of a focus on the anti-zombie folks as a decision is made to infiltrate them. It’s also a little odd that other avenues aren’t taken to take care of them, like turning them into zombies or outright killing them.
For as different as the season began, in these last few episodes it’s all gotten back to where it was seasons ago. The series looked like it was evolving in its formula this season and in some aspects it’s branching out, but in others it’s taking a bunch of steps back.
Hopefully this is just a bridge episode moving things along and getting us to the next phase of the season, but this is an episode that’s largely forgettable in so many ways.
Overall Rating: 7.05
When a womanizing preschool teacher is murdered, Liv and Clive bring the teacher’s jealous girlfriend in for questioning; Peyton is assigned an interesting case; Blaine gets into a bad situation.
iZombie interestingly runs multiple stories in a bit of a different way this episode where it has the murder investigation (pretty standard), the bigger story for the season, and then they continue some from the dominatrix episode, and to see the series pick that up (without it clearly connecting to anything else yet) is interesting, as it gives the series something else to juggle and entertain us.
As usual, Rose McIver in the main role is amazing as she eats the brain of a school teacher and takes his lessons to a bit extreme, especially when it comes to interrogating the suspects. That brings the humor to interesting levels and McIver goes over the top and delivers it all in a somewhat creepy way (but really funny). How Clive reacts to it all helps add to the humor as his amusement at first turns into irritation eventually. There’s also references to things she does not on the screen which really brings the laughs and does so by having us imagining what she did (and what else she might have done). I’m sure our imagination is funnier than anything the writers would have been able to deliver.
The other two other plotlines are interesting. You’ve got the bigger story of the zombie brains war and the individuals hunting for proof of zombies with Major stuck in the middle of that. This episode is a good one in that it adds a little to that, but doesn’t dive too much in. But, the thing I really like is the follow up to the dominatrix episode where the person may been using the information for blackmail. Where that goes is interesting and while I expect that to dovetail into the bigger story, it very well may not. It’s nice to see it come back the way it does.
The episode is a good one that feels like it’s adding layers to what’s come before as much as it is moving the plots forward. The episode feels like it’s a step into making episodes a bit more complicated going forward.
Overall Rating: 7.95
Black Siren returns to help Chase; Felicity organizes a birthday party for Oliver; Lance is furious when Rene misses the custody hearing for his daughter.
Arrow deals with Chase in jail, who still has some tricks up his sleeve in the end game that feels like it’s adding about 3 more episodes than needed on to the season.
The episode mainly deals with Chase who has a contingency plan that we saw begin to play out in the last episode. Oliver’s son is kidnapped and then hits go out on the rest of his team. It all feels a bit needlessly complicated in that Chase could easily reveal Oliver and his past crimes which would land him in jail where he could be tortured. Wouldn’t a smarter play be to prosecute him instead?
Instead, we get a season that’s played out a bit too long and the return of Black Siren among other characters.
That puts Oliver in a corner and he has to team up with individuals who used to be adversaries. We once again have a story asking how far Oliver will go. We know he’ll go far, this has come up over the last five seasons multiple times. It’s a plotline that’s played out. Here though, we’re given a twist at the end that’s supposed to shock viewers as a familiar bad guy returns. Sadly this was already spoiled online so the impact wasn’t quite as much as it’d have been otherwise. But, there’s some potential to see Oliver team up with the likes of Merlyn and Nyssa. That interaction is keeping me going (along with having to review the episodes).
It’s not this is bad at all, it just feels stretched out and as I said before a theme we’ve seen too many times. For a season that attempted to get away from an over the top bad guy, it still is giving us situations that are eye rolling in how needlessly complicated they are.
Overall rating: 7.0