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The Blacklist: Berlin, Conclusion

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Let’s get a couple of things straight: When Red Reddington tells Elizabeth Keen that her father is dead, that he absolutely died in that fire all those years ago, I believe, in his heart, he is telling her the truth. Because in that fire, Raymond Reddington, upstanding citizen, Naval officer and family man, died when someone set his house on fire, killed his wife, almost killed his daughter and set Raymond on the run. That day, and in that fire, Raymond Reddington died and Red Reddington, international criminal, fixer-for-hire and dashing hat wearer was born. Because, I’ll tell you what, right now, if you tell me that there are two different fires, and Red lost his family in one, and Lizzie in another, I am just going to be mad. My patience? Is done.

If Lizzie isn’t his daughter, then he must have been involved in her existence somehow, in some weird Orphan Black clone experiment shit, to generate this sort of loyalty, because I have children of my own, and some days it’s too much for me to get them to curling practice or go watch their damn football games. Solitary confinement for life? Maaaaaaaaaybe. But only if they’d made me tea that morning. Unasked.

At this point, after this whole season and all the clues and Red killing Sam to stop him from telling Lizzie his secret and everything else that has happened, if Red really isn’t Lizzie’s bio dad, then I am just going to be some pissed off. What? He’s her uncle? Godfather? Happened to be Sam’s best friend? He coincidentally has a back full of scars that could have come from a fire? He happened to lose his family in a fire, too? He’s willing to give up his whole life for her and she’s not his daughter? I don’t know what NBC thinks about the patience of its average viewer, but trust me, it doesn’t stretch that far.

Red was telling the truth about one thing, when he said Lizzie’s father was dead. He is. Sam Keen was Elizabeth Keen’s father. He was her dad. He raised her. He loved her. He protected her. He was there for her. He was proud of her. He watched her grow up. And even though her husband turned into a duplicitous ratbag, It was Sam Keen who watched her fall in love, and he would have been the one to walk her down the aisle when she got married. Sam was the one at the graduations and skating lessons and waiting up late after the dances, turning off the lights on the porch to tell high-school Lizzie it was well after midnight and doesn’t that boy have a home to go to? Time to come inside. That was your father, Lizzie.

In an example of what fathers will do for their daughters, we have Berlin (Peter Stormare: Prison Break; Psych) finally identified as a former Russian Colonel in the Russian Army and KGB whose daughter fell in love with a dissident, and, after he helped her escape the country, he was sent to the work camps in Siberia to suffer alongside the criminals he had put away for so many years. Eventually, pieces of her started showing up in his cell (Cinematic Russians are always so dramatic) and he escaped after making a knife out of one of her bones. I, personally, would have used a femur.

Berlin was on the plane that crashed last episode, and he’s now on the loose and taking apart the Reddington task force, one by one. Meera is dead, and Cooper is in the hospital. For some reason, Berlin is really pissed at Red, like I’m pissed at NBC over this paternity issue, and crazy enough to cut off his own hand, so God knows what else he’s capable of. Red seems to have a photo of Berlin’s daughter, the same photo that is in the pocket watch Berlin carries with him, the watch that was returned to him in the Siberian gulag that started the influx of ‘presents’ to his cell, the pieces of his deceased daughter.

In the picture, Berlin’s daughter looks very, very dead. In the copy Red has, there’s a number at the bottom, indicating what? That Berlin’s daughter was a number on Red’s Blacklist? Or, more likely, was the victim of a member of the Blacklist, and that’s the correlating number.

Either way, if Berlin is after Red because he thinks Reddington had something to do with his daughter’s death, he’s not going to stop until Red is in a great many pieces, which is great for us as viewers, because Peter Stormare is amazing, and as a recurring nemesis would give give the show a great lift.

For Red, though, it’s not so great, because he knows better than anyone what a man is willing to do for his daughter. For his sake, I really hope he had nothing to do with hurting that girl. It’s after midnight. Turn off the porch light. Time to send that boy home.

Round-up

• Tom is totally not dead. Don’t even try, television

• Red wouldn’t hurt a dog. It’s nice to know he has standards. I wonder what his stand is on cats?

• Now I want peaches. Damn you, Red. I live in Alberta. There isn’t a ripe peach for several hundred kilometres.

Photos courtesy NBC
Tobey courtesy tvgoodness.com

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Agents of SHIELD: The Beginning of the End

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After a rocky start, and a middling middle, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D ended the season strongly, with a few emotional thrusts to gut us and an ambitious view to the future.

And when they broke the surface, and they’re alone with nothing around them, there to save them, like the Hand of God, is Nick Fury.

I was never shy about my criticisms of SHIELD; It was disjointed, depended too much on cutesy references to its Marvel Cinematic Universe Pedigree (to which I certainly didn’t think it lived up); two of its leads were wooden and it asked more questions than it answered, for which I have no patience.

But the last few episodes brought things together; the independent episodes were necessary to gather together the alien hardware HYDRA was after; made us understand Deathlok; Coulson’s mysterious resurrection came around to revive Skye and John Garret (who went all psycho music of the universe with a full dose of the mysterious miracle drug) and finally, to form a team, something I never thought would happen at the beginning of the season when it just seemed to be a bunch of people thrown together: The Cavalry, The Ghost of a Man, The Sassy Hacker, The Twins and The Plank o’ Wood.

It’s not the group we started with, and to be clear, a ‘group’ is not a team. We started with a group, but now, I dare say, we have a team.

This episode just took me to the beyond. Fitz and Simmons waiting to die on the ocean floor, with Simmons somehow making it all sound so beautiful; the explanation that all the energy we have within us, from billions of different sources, from the tiniest to the most mighty, each being as equally terrified to die, and how, when we died, we’d go on to be energy to billions of other sources, put the whole process into perspective, and even me, with my weird death fixation, was calmed, for just a minute. And then, my twins, my beautiful, wonderful, brilliant twins, with their indecipherable twin-speak, found a solution. One fish, Two fish, red fish, going-to-get-the-hell-out-of-here, Hydra-In-Your-Face-Fish.

But there’s not enough oxygen for the both of them and someone has to die. Of course. And Fitz, wonderful Fitz, sacrifices himself for Gemma, whom he loves, because don’t we all, but Simmons won’t accept that, and she drags him to the surface, knowing their beacon can’t possibly reach anybody, but he’s her best friend in the world and she’s not letting him go, there’s no Fitz/Simmons without Fitz, and in the face of hopelessness, she’s taking him with her, because they’re a team, they’re friends, and even if it’s uneven, they love each other. And when they broke the surface, and they’re alone with nothing around them, there to save them, like the Hand of God, is Nick Fury. And I broke.

It was good to see Fury and Coulson together, and, oddly, they make a good comedic pair, especially while making waste of villain John Garret. The interaction between the two, later witnessed by Melinda May, was not only very telling and powerful, but, subtly, very sweet. While Coulson railed at Fury that TAHITI, the weirdo project with mysterious goo that was only to be used in the case of the fall of an Avenger, Fury’s response was indicative that, indeed, that’s exactly what happened with Coulson.

The implicit meaning being, that not all of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are from other realms, or have super suits, or have been hit by gamma rays, or are former Russian spies or what-the-Hell ever. Sometimes they’re just guys in suits with our best interest in heart.

Going forward, we’re free of Garrett, who blessedly got blown to a million crazy little pieces in a scene that will make me laugh every time I watch it. SHIELD really is at its best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously and offers up a healthy dose of humour with a good deal of ass-kicking. There’s Cybertek to deal with, with their creepy ‘Incentives’ program, which seems to be ‘Kidnapping people you love to get you to come work for us.’ I think Microsoft uses the same business model. Coulson is now Director of a broken SHIELD that needs rebuilding from scratch, which is great, because he’s awesome, but he’s going all John Garret Music-of-the-Universe whacko now, too.

So Ace Peterson gets his answer, not only from his father Mike, who as Deathlok is now on the side of good, but from this group of agents. Fitz is off healing somewhere, and I’ll miss him, and Ward is having bamboo shoved under his fingernails as we speak and I’m sorry I’m missing that, but with the addition of Trip, and fingers crossed, more Patton Oswald as Billy Koenig (Eric’s doppelgänger), finally, when asked, “What are we?” these Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D can answer, “We’re a team.”

Photos courtesy ABC
Tobey courtesy tvgoodness.com

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Agents of SHIELD: Nothing Personal

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As if there weren’t enough reasons to hate on Grant Ward so far, this week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the discovery of his betrayal goes and upsets Fitz and Simmons. The Twins have always been my favourite part of this show; they’re adorable and sweet and practically talk to each other in a language all their own like two Dr. Seuss characters, and now Ward has gone and wounded both of them to their core. Jemma is quietly crying and Fitz is throwing things around the medical lab because sometimes the only way to deal with a broken heart is to break shit. And worst of all? There were no pancakes made this day. No pancakes at all. Ward’s a bastard.


I hate the flying car. I refuse to apologize for that. Unless your name is Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang, wheels stay on the ground

‘Nothing Personal’ is an ideal episode title this week, because, for everyone except Ward, it’s nothing but personal. Fitz is initially in denial that Ward could betray them because he’s their ‘friend’, and he holds on to that almost child-like belief until Simmons gives him irrefutable proof it had to have been Ward who killed Eric Koenig (Patton Oswald: Justified; United States of Tara); Coulson, as leader of the team, feels responsible for allowing this traitor to linger in their midst, enabling him to take Skye, with whom he has an almost paternal relationship, away to God-knows-where and even cool, calm, collected Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) mutters, “I vetted him,” when told of his HYDRA affiliation.

And then there’s Skye, who’s on the run with the guy, but can barely contain her loathing for him now that she’s sussed out his secret. Skye is many things, but her heart has always been firmly on her sleeve. She’d let Ward get close to her, and has probably done whatever the Skye version of doodling their initials on her notebook is (hack into NASA and have the Exploration Rover draw the shape of a heart 20-miles-wide on the surface of Mars?) and she is taking all of this very personally. As one does.

I haven’t been the biggest fan of Skye, or Chloe Bennet, on this series so far, but Bennet knocked it out of the park in this episode. You could feel Skye’s barely contained fury at Ward, and how much she wanted to hurt him, because he had hurt her so very, very badly. Head-butting him was simultaneously beautiful and pointless (we like to call that, ‘The Irish Hello’) because it must have been so gratifying to strike Ward, yet ultimately lacking any real meaning since she knew she couldn’t cause him any real damage.

When she cried, it was out of fear, anger, frustration and sadness. Bennet did a more than admirable job of playing the defeated Skye, which was a weirdly refreshing change of pace from normal Skye, and bought her some empathy from me.

Ward, meanwhile, is toeing that party-line we all know so well, “I was just doing my job…” like he’s handing out parking violations and doesn’t want to get yelled at, or is a firefighter and saved a kitten from a tree and is being all false modest, “Just doin’ my job, ma’am…”

When you choose to betray your teammates, shoot three people in the face and then two more in the back of the head, garrotte a man to death and kidnap a girl who fancies you, that’s not “just doing my job.” That’s, “just being a serial killer and a really bad date.”

Frankly, I think Deathlok did Skye a favour when he shot Ward with that heart-attack bullet. Skye should have thought that through for a few more minutes. Fictional Skye is a better personal than real-life me. While she gave him the key to decrypting the hard-drive, I would have watched Ward die. ‘Cause, you know. Nothing personal, Ward.

But I’m wondering if Ward actually believes his own propaganda. In the past two episodes, he’s been as stoic as ever while killing everyone in sight, and in the beginning and middle of ‘Nothing Personal,’ he’s still our big ol’ slab of wood.

But he starts to unravel somewhat after the police descend on him and Skye (good work on that Most Wanted hack, Skye) and he realizes that she’s not buying any of his crap and honestly just wants to get the hell away from him, to the point of begging to be arrested. He insists that he doesn’t want to hurt her (I believe that) and that she “doesn’t understand,” (she understands plenty).

Ward gets pretty wound up (‘wound up’ for Ward) and it’s like he can’t believe she won’t accept his explanation that he’s just working. Either he’s slightly unhinged and is going to start pawing at her, begging her, “Why can’t you just understand me?! It was just a job!” or the vehemence of her reactions towards him are going to allow him to realize that everything about this situation is indeed, very personal to a great many people.

Weekly Round-Up

• I hate the flying car. I refuse to apologize for that. Unless your name is Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang, wheels stay on the ground

• Melinda May: Grave Robber. She really can do it all.

• Coulson headed up project T.A.H.I.T.I. I’ll be jiggered.

 
Sent by Pony Express

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The Blacklist: ‘The Kingmaker’

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Our Blacklister this week, The Kingmaker (Linus Roache: Vikings; Titanic) is my favourite Bad Guy of the Week so far. He’s ambitious; he sees the big picture; he’s a snappy dresser. He really should get his own show. You know, if he wasn’t so dead. He’s like the anti-Olivia Pope; he’s fixer for evil. You want to be a senator? Sure. He’ll just arrange to have someone crash your car off a bridge, killing your wife and making you look like a hero for trying to save her. Easy-peasy. The contractor who drove the van that crashed into you gets cold feet because killing an innocent woman and injuring a little girl is weighing heavily on his conscience? The Kingmaker will make his death look like a suicide. Cake.


He has plenty of people to help him move bodies, but I highly doubt anyone on his contact list will show up on a Sunday afternoon for pizza and beer to help him drag his stuff across town in a borrowed truck.

I know it’s a terrible thing to say, but the Kingmaker is awesome. As long as he’s fictional. In real life, that’s abhorrent and he’d be terrifying. But on my television, I’d watch a season of that. Too bad Ressler had to kill him, which vexed not only me, but also Red, who then couldn’t get out of him whatever it was he wanted to get out of him, since Red treats the FBI like his own group of personal bounty hunters. This is why you have no friends, Red.

This week, The Blacklist goes out of its way, really out of its way, to let us know that Red Reddington has no friends. Lizzie mentioned it twice, once to his face, and he said it himself. It was like the network television version of, “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny.”

And while Red certainly has people he cares about (he killed the human trafficker responsible for Dembe’s sexual enslavement, way back in episode two, ‘The Freelancer.’ If that doesn’t say, “Hey, buddy. I got your back,” nothing does) and he has a myriad of acquaintances with whom he has shared experiences and memories (some fogged by hashish and grappa. I feel ya, Red) and ‘work’ colleagues he can turn to for aid and women he sometimes sleeps with, Red really doesn’t have ‘friends’.

A friend of mine likes to bandy around a saying, “There’s friends that’ll help you move, and there’s friends that’ll help you move a body.” In Red’s world, it’s the opposite. He has plenty of people to help him move bodies, but I highly doubt anyone on his contact list will show up on a Sunday afternoon for pizza and beer to help him drag his stuff across town in a borrowed truck.

And the only friend he did have, he killed. And now that Lizzie’s found out that Red murdered her dad, thanks to the photos in Tom’s safety deposit box, ostensibly because he was suffering and delusional and about to spill the Great Lizzie Secret that he otherwise would never tell, Red’s lost the closest thing he had to a friend, Liz, since Elizabeth hates his guts now.

Elizabeth, in turn, is still grieving the loss of what she thought was a loving marriage and husband, and that is now compounded by the knowledge her father was murdered by a man she was starting to trust and like. She can’t turn to any of her friends, because they’re also Tom’s friends, so she ends up at Ressler’s apartment, choosing him over being alone in her wrecked apartment filled with broken belongings, a physical representation of her wrecked life and broken heart.

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Game of Thrones: “Oathkeeper”

7/10
This Review is in Cooperation With Voice of TV
Photos Courtesy HBO

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When you play the Games of Thrones… you get raped, apparently. Even if, like the women left at Craster’s Keep, you don’t know you’re part of a larger game, and this is now just your horrific life, waiting to get violated to death. And Cersei (Lena Headey) who was ready to kill herself and her children to avoid getting raped and murdered during the battle of King’s Landing in season two, is dealing with the fallout of getting raped by her brother next to the corpse of their son in last week’s “Breaker of Chains.” I can’t believe I let my kid watch this show.

In the season opener, “Two Swords,” Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is made to look practically sympathetic; on his return, Cersei, his sister/lover/mother of his children, rejects him outright, dismissing him by telling him he “took too long” to return, as if being captured by the enemy, tormented, humiliated and ultimately losing his hand was somehow his fault and under his control, like he chose to roll around in his own filth and lose the only thing that meant anything to him, aside from her and their children: his ability as a swordsman and place as a knight.

While the act of raping her is heinous, as all rapes are, Cersei is made to look like such a heartless, castrating bitch (we were told in season one that Jaime has never been with anyone other than Cersei; he’s never loved anyone else, never had sex with anyone else, while Cersei has been with many people and thought nothing of it) it’s framed as if Jaime was simply pushed beyond his limits, not that he’s an evil, abusive monster. Which he totally is.

In “Oathkeeper,” the redemption of Jaime Lannister continues as he visits Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) in the dungeon and comes away with the realization his younger brother wasn’t responsible for the death of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson). As much as he wants someone to pay for the murder of his nephew/son, his head is clearer than Cersei’s, whose grief is only compounded by the amount of wine she’s been mainlining, and he’s not willing to throw Tyrion under the horse and carriage for the sake of simply having someone to blame.

Jaime also goes against his sister by outfitting Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) in full kit, complete with his sword, to search for Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and take her somewhere safe, in order to fulfill his promise to Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley). He’s practically noble in this episode, and it’s like the rape of his sister is an anomaly of his newfound character. But I won’t forget, Jaime. And I highly doubt Cersei will, either.

Jaime’s momentary brutality looks like puppy play compared to what’s going on over at Craster’s Keep, where the Crow mutineers are making themselves at home. A horrifying, demented, violent, apocalyptic home where Karl Tanner (Burn Gorman) has placed himself in charge and likes to scream orders including, “F**k them to death!” and brag about what a badass he is while feeding body parts to Jon Snow’s dire wolf. I abhor the ‘rape as plot-point’ device and generally feel it is indicative of lazy writing and is a well that is drawn from far too often.

In this case, however, as much as I hated that scene, in this context, it made sense (and nightmares. It made nightmares happen.) Here are a group of men, mutineers, all from sketchy backgrounds who have literally nothing left to lose. They know their days at the Keep are numbered and anyone who’s read “Lord of the Flies” knows these situations devolve into anarchy very, very quickly. I just hope those girls can find some rope and a sturdy rafter so they can end their torment just as quickly.

As it stands, Karl’s Kreepy Keep is going to be a very interesting reunion site for brothers Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) who’s been taken prisoner there, and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) who’s on his way with a small group of Crows to take back the Keep. Do me a favour, Jon. F**k Karl to death.

Weekly Round-Up

• So that’s how baby Whitewalkers are made. Huh.
• They. Hurt. Hodor.
• Nana Olenna and Littlefinger killed Joffrey. I’ll be damned.
• Dany keeps marching. Dany keeps liberating slaves. Must be Sunday.
• Ser Pounce. That just bought me one more day on this earth.

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Orphan Black: “Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion”

Orphan Black: “Governed by Sound Reason and True Religion”

7.5/10

In cooperation with Voice of TV

Photographs courtesy BBC America

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Of all the episodes so far in both seasons one and two of Orphan Black, “Governed By Sound Reason and True Religion” focused most on family and the theory of ‘nature vs. nurture.’ The most obvious illustrations of both these themes being the diametric opposition of almost everything there is about Sarah and Helena (Tatiana Maslany) the clone twins whose hearts can’t even agree to be on the same side of their bodies.

The Prolethians killed Tomas, the man responsible for the bulk of the torment Helena has suffered. That’s practically braiding her hair, making her cocoa and reading, “Love you Forever” before bed.

Sarah, of course, grew up in a family, even though it may not have been the most functional. Mrs. S, we discover, was IRA in her youth and Sarah did grow up to be a low-level grifter who ran off with the reprehensible Vic (Michael Mando) while Felix (Jordan Gavaris) is a part-time prostitute. But she was loved, and protected and nurtured and grew into a strong, caring, self-reliant young woman, who, in turn, loves her family.

And Mrs S still loves Sarah and her daughter, Kira, (Skyler Wexler) enough to stab Birdwatcher Brenda’s (Nora McLellan) hands through a table at the safehouse and shoot her when she discovers Nora’s betrayed the family to the Prolethians. That? Is a mother’s love.

Helena, who didn’t die when she was shot in the chest, as one normally does, so put that in the increasingly thick file of Helena’s terrifying weirdness, was raised by the church and has never had any kind of family. Worse, she never felt any nurturing. Is it in her nature to be cruel and kind of crazy, is it the lack of a kind, nurturing, loving prescence, or is it a result of the years of abuse she suffered?

In Helena’s pockets at the hospital were found crayons, suckers and sugar packets, something any 12-year-old may be carrying around, especially one that had been denied treats or sweets. Helena, clearly, isn’t 12. She’s a case of arrested development, which happens if a person is denied the fundamental human needs of being touched, or hugged, or loved in even the most basic manner. Note: being locked in a kennel and taught to kill your sisters is not nurturing. That’s dog fighting.

Helena’s new home is with the Prolethians, whose leader, Henrik Johanssen (Peter Outerbridge) artificially inseminating a cow, using science to give the Lord a helping hand. If that’s not a portent of things to come, I don’t know what is. And if that’s not creepy enough, the Prolethians’ farm reminds me of the polygamist colony on Big Love, and nothing good came out of there. Mark (Ari Millen) even looks a little like Alby (Matt Ross) and he gave me the shivers.

But I get the idea that Helena will get better treatment at the farm than anywhere else in her life. She’s already gotten a nicer meal than she’s probably even seen before (in season one she called the greasy spoon with the hospital jello and tacky wood panelling where she met Sarah, “A nice restaurant;” throw her in a Starbucks and she’d probably faint from joy) and they killed Tomas, (Daniel Kash) the man responsible for the bulk of the torment she’s suffered. That’s practically braiding her hair and making her cocoa and reading, “Love you Forever” before bed.

I know I’m supposed to be leery of Henrik, but I innately trust him for some reason. He’s very soothing and calm. He was gentle with the cow he was inseminating, and he was sweet with his daughter when she was nervous about taking scary Helena her meal. He just seems like a benevolent patriarch of a grand family, wise about everything and nurturing to all. I have no doubt I’m wrong and he’s going to take an axe to someone soon, but right now, he’s like Pa Kent raising dozens of little Clark Kents, all for the greater good.

As Helena seems to be gaining a (weird, really skewed) family and Sarah is fighting to save hers, the suburban clone with the most outwardly perfect family life is falling apart. Looking at Alison, and only looking at her, you’d think everything was ideal, and she pulled it off for a long time. Husband, children, beautiful home (hell, I abhor everything about the suburbs and even I would sell my soul for a second bathroom, dependable heat and a second-floor balcony) volunteer work and friends.

And now Alison is faced with the fact her family life is basically a lie, with the discovery that the man she’s married to is her watcher (and a really lousy one at that. Wow, Donnie (Kristian Brunn), you’re really bad at this.) And now she’s losing her surrogate family, Felix, who she’s been turning to more and more often for help and support. Sarah is taking Kira and Felix away, and Alison, who used to be our gun-toting, rape-whistle-blowing, glue-gun-torturing Suburban Mama, is now a miniature-vodka-guzzling shadow of her former awesome self at the thought of losing Felix, who she needs now more than she ever needed Donnie.

Round-Up:

• Cosima must have parents. Will we ever see them? Same with Alison. Her parents live close enough to babysit. Please visit.

• Alison’s musical is “Blood Ties.” Yes, it’s real, at least according to the internet.

• Art’s complete investment in Clone Club is amazing. Whether it’s because he’s a fabulous police officer, or he’s doing it for Beth, I don’t care. Art is out for justice. Art is awesome.

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Agents of SHIELD: The Only Light in the Darkness

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Previously, on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Our team is in Northern Canada, and some random costume designer has earned my eternal derision, because that is not how you dress if you want to survive north of the 60th parallel past exiting the plane. I live in Southern Alberta, it’s April and if we wore what they’re wearing we’d be underdressed, cranky and eyeing the weakest member of our party, wondering when we could overtake them, steal their clothes and confiscate any food they may be carrying. And that’s kindergarten recess.

Speaking of the lie detector test, the adorability of Fitz saying ‘Simmons’ was in the box if he were left on a deserted island and Simmons saying ‘The Tardis’ to the same question just bought me one more day on this earth

Patton Oswalt (Justified; The United States of Tera) is amazing in everything I’ve seen him in, and nobody plays ‘I’m desperate for attention/respect’ like he does. His character, Agent Eric Koenig, was clearly out of his depth with the arrival of our SHIELD agents, (and probably would be with anybody, really) as he obviously had been on his own for awhile at Providence, the name he had given to the nameless facility he was in charge of and living alone at (fun fact: ‘Providence’ means ‘Protected,’ generally by a higher power of your choosing). Probably because nobody in SHIELD wanted him involved in anything important. It’s like he somehow got recruited by SHIELD by accident. I have no idea how, a bet maybe? He’s somebody’s nephew? And then the organization didn’t know what to do with him so they sent him to the Canadian arctic to head up a ‘Top Secret’ facility because how could he possibly screw that up, it’s practically Siberia, and then: Oh crap, there’s a damn coupe de HYDRA and here comes Coulson with his crew and now the poor dweeb has responsibilities and is holding court to an elite SHIELD team and his newfound ‘lanyards will be given out on a case by case basis’ power is going to his simple little head. Oh, sweet, Agent Eric Koenig. Take a juice box. Let the big kids play.

And of course Ward works his way past Koenig’s lie detector test and earns his lanyard by using something metal shoved in his finger; I learned how to do that while watching White Collar (But then it was a thumb tack to the thigh and way less gross). I’m starting to believe that the only criminals who get caught in this world are the ones who can’t afford cable.

Speaking of the lie detector test, the adorability of Fitz saying ‘Simmons’ was in the box if he were left on a deserted island and Simmons saying ‘The Tardis’ to the same question just bought me one more day on this earth. But I digress.

If anything, this episode is about the things we leave behind. Skye admits that ‘Skye’ is a name she gave herself after shedding the identity given to her at the orphanage. After figuring out that Ward, who she’s allowed herself to trust and is one of the few people in her recent history she’s let herself be vulnerable around, is HYDRA and is using her, she leaves behind her team, trying to find out what his game is. These are only people who can help her, and I’m fair certain that Skye probably left behind some clue or way of tracking her and Ward, but the visual of them flying off together disturbed me a little, to be honest. She looked tiny and frightened. It was like a stranger picked up my child at school in a windowless van and drove off towards the Saskatchewan border.

In the secondary story, Coulson’s former girlfriend, cellist Audrey Nathan (Amy Acker: Person of Interest; Angel) referenced in The Avengers movie, is being stalked by Marcus Daniels, or Darkforce, who absorbs the energy around him, and Agent Coulson has to make the decision to leave her with the assumption that he’s still dead, instead of revealing the truth and interrupting her healing process in hopes of resuming their relationship. And, let’s face it, odds are good he might die again, so why put the girl through that?

While the cellist storyline might have been not the strongest, execution-wise, it did effectively illustrate the internal struggle everyone in a position like being a SHIELD agent must go through. You want to love someone, and to be loved, but people are trying to kill you, and therefore, by extension, your loved ones suffer, and is it really worth it? Audrey Nathan misses Phillip Coulson, but she goes on every day; she works; she has her music; she runs; I’m sure she has friends. Her life goes on. She loves him, but that part of her has been left behind. It wouldn’t be fair of Coulson to come in and suddenly be alive again and expect to be part of her life. It’s heartbreaking, and so very, very sad, but realistic, and completely necessary. And Coulson knows, as hard as it is, to let her move forward, he has to leave her behind, too.