Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Geeky TV commentary - Gotham 2.2, Minority Report 1.2, Blindspot 1.2

Gotham airs at 8pm on Fox Monday nights.

This week's episode was more fun than last week, and it's almost definitely because it was almost entirely about the villains. Specifically, about the Maniax, that group that escaped the asylum last week, consisting of Weasel Dude, Evil Josh Gadd, Tank, Probably Joker and Babs. They were hanging out in the penthouse of the rich guy, eating donuts covered in gold leaf and sipping tea while also playing with chainsaws and out-crazying each other with Russian Roulette, because people on TV love Russian Roulette. Probably Joker won, of course. And they tried to burn up a bus full of cheerleaders, but Jim saves them.

Then they went on a rampage that killed like 80% of all the cops we've ever seen, including their new boss who has been there for all of a minute and deserved better, But that leaves, basically, only named characters--Jim (roughed up but not dead), Harvey (back from the bar, hat and all), Nygma who got shot  in the arm saving Miss Kringle, and Lee, who is still being grievously underused.

Last week was a fake-out with the guy in the cape; these are the real villains, and they're bonkers, and Probably Joker is so good at this role that he elevates beyond the silliness without a trace of cartoonishness--though he does channel Mark Hamill's cartoon Joker a little--and manages to be about as chilling as you can be on network TV at 8pm. And, as we suspected, the show works better when the focus is on the baddies. It's unclear whether they're just that much more fun than anyone good, or if the very nature of the franchise makes it actually about the baddies and makes it very hard to be about the goodies.

Meanwhile, Bruce turns on his dad's computer, Alfred takes an axe to it, Bruce fires him even though it's almost definite that you can't just fire your legal guardian, but then stops him from actually leaving by saying he can come back if he agrees to train Bruce and make him strong. Oh, and fix that computer.

Alfred has no idea what to do with computers, so in a scene where he might have been coming onto Lucius Fox at a bar, he manages to tell him enough around the secrets to get him to come to the Proto-Batcave and fix it. He tells Bruce that he can, but it'll take time, and he doesn't know or want to know what's on it.

Also, Bruce heard that there was something at the precinct and rushes over to make sure Jim was okay, apologizes for being a brat before, and hugs him. He's almost as tall as Ben McKenzie now. Man, he's grown.

If the season has a majority of shows like this, and less like last week's mopey-Jim and weird tone, that'd be fine. But we need more Penguin. He wasn't in this episode at all, and that, really, was criminal.

Side note: How long ago were these episodes filmed, and will they do the ol' ignore-that-i'm-pregnant or will they work it into the plot, when Morena Baccarin starts showing?

Minority Report airs at 9pm on Fox Monday nights.

Case two! Dash is hustling chess, since he can see the moves ahead of time, and gets a vision of a girl with really ugly shoes getting killed. They figure out, through the magic of their vision-projector, that it's at a club, and they find her, but she's too early. Dash jumps the gun and almost gets arrested for assaulting her brother, and the guy who killed her in the vision hasn't even met her yet.

Turns out, their main suspect is a professional pickup artist--who uses science and psychology, so they say he's a pickup scientist, but he's gross either way. They tail him through most of the episode even though Dash is super unhappy with the idea of using her as bait. They can't arrest him early, because pre-crime is illegal, but they also can't let him kill her, so they have to catch him  in the act and stop him. He's a scumbag, and they're all ready to believe it's him, so of course it's not--it's the obsessed weirdo bartender who felt snubbed, and who got her when she went back to the bar after the pickup artist made her uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, Agatha is still trying to get Dash to come home and Dash is insisting that he has work to do, and Arthur is being a scumbag in the name of protecting his brother even though the brother in question has made it clear that this is not anything he agrees with. Arthur had them track a case from 30 years ago in exchange for the victim's name, and the case turned out to be their mother's--she died, and they were orphans.

And at work, Vega is getting in trouble because Akeela feels like she's being jilted as a friend since Vega won't tell her what's going on, and her ex partner wants to know what's up with her and assumes that she's mad at him for getting the job that should have been hers. She lets him think that, since she can't tell anyone that she's working cases off the books with an illegal precog.

Last but not least, one of the girls that Dash hustled in the park asks him to play another game in a very flirty way, and their caretaker gets a flashback where he was concerned that they might not do well out in the world.

The second episode was as much fun as the first one, and it's nice to see that there were consequences to stuff that happened last week, namely that Vega's story that the baddies from last week accidentally killed themselves doesn't add up and that's brought her unwanted attention. She continues to balance competence and a little stubbornness, with a huge compassion that covers their potential victims AND Dash, who needs it. She's not yet thinking of him in terms of partners, but he's already called her that because she's basically his only friend and he's there for the long haul--and he called her that even though he didn't know if she'd come talk to him when he called to tell her he'd had another vision.

He is the definition of cinnamon roll, and he needs to be protected at all costs.

He was also so awkward this episode, though he used that awkwardness to try to save the girl in a nice twist on the trope. It didn't quite work, but he wasn't embarassed and didn't fumble; he directly applied his bad new knowledge to intentionally weird her out and get her to go home, and he was cute while he did it.

And there were echoes of future events, which seems appropriate for a show about precogs. Agatha has some vision that involves Vega looking down on them, and the precinct is going to be part of the pilot program for testing a new robotic-mechanical-computer crime prediction service that's meant to be better and more controllable than the precogs ever were. Neither of those things will go well, if there's any plot in the world, which there is.

There's still a little more character balance that needs to be done, they don't quite all seem to have a handle on themselves yet, and there's a lot more character work that needs doing, but there's plenty of time, even if this is a short season. And they're mostly there; it's probably better that they grow into a true partnership, storywise, anyway, than just instantly be total besties.

This week's fun tech:

  • A heads up display on a stroller for babies
  • A game that involves what looks like a magnetic gauntlet and a flying sphere that goes all over the place
  • A bracelet that uses your pheremones and biochemistry to tell you whether you're compatible with someone
  • A single sheet of paper that acts like a whole book
  • Training simulations
  • Moving tattoos and moving posters

Blindspot airs at 10pm on NBC Monday nights.

This show is something else! Already this week, there's a guess at who Jane might be--though they don't tell her that they have the guess since they need to run DNA tests first. Usually, a show based on a mystery would have drawn that particular one out longer, but this one is just barreling along, and next week's preview seems to have the answer to whether their guess is right.

And while last week was mostly about Jane, this week, Jane steps back just a little and lets the others do their jobs and, in the case of Weller, gets a little backstory. He's got a sister who's been staying with him with her kid. He doesn't do well with kids being taken--which, of course, this week features--because a girl he knew as a child went missing. His dad was blamed for it and has suffered for 25 years under the idea that he murdered her. That same dad is dying of lung cancer, and his sister wants him to go talk to him, but he doesn't want to.

For the team, Weller insists that Jane needs to go into the field with them because she's proven she can keep track of herself, and they still don't know when the tattoos will come in handy or when she'll get a memory. Reid disagrees on almost all points, and is endearingly sassy about it. The Doctor is so cutely nerdy about her computer she's built to decipher the tats. And the other lady on the team gets to have some descent scenes with Jane and is starting to get a personality of her own. She is, apparently, pretty hardline about what good and bad people do, which worries Jane, since the memory she got today was her shooting a nun in the back of the head.

That, of course, isn't the whole story, and the nun looked more like an agent in the rest of the memory she got after chasing down their perp--a rouge drone-operator / bomber who is so traumatized by PTSD that he's taking out everyone he blames for what happened to him. There's three huge explosions in a short amount of time, and because of how this show is structured, that wasn't even the most interesting part!

Right before one of the explosions, Jane saw the bearded guy from her memory who killed Chao last episode, but they have to get out of the way of the incoming drone and she loses him in the shuffle. But he's around, and he's real, and right at the very end of the episode, he comes out of her darkened other room in her apartment and grabs her. Cliffhanger!

Jamie Alexander has nailed this woman. She's got this perfect balance of extreme anxiety and complete deadly control that she's always surprised when she has. She's scared that what she'll find out is that she was horrible and not worth remembering, but she also can't really function with no past and no knowledge of what she likes or doesn't like, what she can and can't do, where she comes from, who she knows. It would be nice if, after a while, she can start having less-stressful moments where she tries different foods and looks at clothes and basically gets to take the time to find out what her own opinions are. There could be really sweet moments of wonder in amongst all that trauma and fear, if they want to put them there.

Weller has always been steadfast in believing her, and now we know that he's decided that it's because she's definitely that girl; it would explain why his name is on her, though not who sent her to him, and why they both just clicked, but it's so early in the story that there has got to be more to it than that. It feels like it's more likely that someone wants him to think that she's that girl than that she actually is, and if it turns out that she is her, there's got to be a bigger mystery than her identity. Despite that being one of the big ones now. Honestly, if it turns out that her identity is discovered that easily, it might feel a little like a bait-and-switch, since it was sold to us as the mystery of Who She Is. That other bigger mystery would have to be super-good. The good news is that the writers of this show seem to be up to the challenge, so far!

What did you guys think of today's shows? Share here in the comments, or come talk to me on Twitter!

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