This is the first week where TV pickings get very thin and it only gets worse from here. Over half of the regular TV shows on the air go on hiatus until next year following this episode, which is great if you’ve got some watching to catch up on, but not so good if you really want to see these shows again next week. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got, while we’ve got it.
Arrow #1×09 – “Year’s End” – Adam Hunt, who Oliver had confiscated an ill-gotten $40 million from in the first episode, ends up dead with three black arrows to the heart. It’s clear to Detective Lance that Arrow isn’t responsible, but his superior decides that it’s a good idea to blame him anyhow. Oliver discovers that his family hasn’t celebrated Christmas since he vanished so he takes it on himself to plan a giant party and bring his family back together, but during the party, Oliver has to vanish again to meet face-to-face with the mysterious black archer, who is every bit as skilled as he. We see a flashback to the island where Yao Fei comes back to release Oliver from the cave he’s been imprisoned in and brings along Edward Fyers, the man who had Oliver tortured. We finally find out the secret of the island, it’s a former Chinese super-high security prison for people who were just too dangerous to allow on Chinese soil, sort of like a free-range Guantanamo. After the place was closed down, Fyers and his team were sent in to eliminate all of the prisoners and they were successful, except for Yao Fei and Deathstroke, two men who were far too difficult for him to kill. Eventually, Deathstroke started working for Fyers as a hired assassin. Back in the real world, Oliver fights against the black archer and while he saves some hostages, he is seriously injured in the process. He is rescued by Diggle and taken to the hospital, under the story that he was involved in a motorcycle accident. In the end, we find that the black archer is, in reality, Tommy’s father, who has Walter kidnapped to ensure that Moira will cooperate in the group’s plans, which will remold Starling City in their image, but result in the deaths of many people. It was great seeing Deathstroke again, although I’m still waiting for him to get into his black-and-yellow mask instead of the black-and-white one they have him wearing. In fact, I’m very much looking forward to seeing him join the regular timeline as a foil for Oliver. Great episode again, with a lot of plot reveals. Unfortunately, this is also the last episode for a month. Whatever will I do without Arrow?
Burn Notice #5×16 – “Odd Man Out” – While there are theoretically two more episodes this season, next week is a 2-hour special, thus really it’s the last episode. They did manage to wrap up the dealings with Schmidt of the last couple episodes very well here, now it’s on to the last episode(s) of the season. Michael and crew are just about ready to leave the country, they just need new passports and therefore, they need the microchips that passports now contain. The only source of these chips is James Vanek, an old competitor of Schmidt’s, who has vowed to ruin Schmidt and take his business. Sam and Jesse do manage to get some of the chips, paying twice the going rate, with Sam taking a punch to the face, but when Schmidt gets cute and calls the FBI on Vanek, he comes after Schmidt with a vengeance. That puts Michael, Fiona and Sam at risk when they have to run from a crew of gun-toting killers who want Schmidt’s head on a pike. As much as I might like Patton Oswalt, he has spent most of the last couple of episodes just whining and it does get old, although he gets a great line in here, when Sam wonders why they’re being chased, he says “Maybe he broke his hand on your unnaturally large jaw…” Still, I could do without anyone in the show whose main characteristic is complaining for a while. Looking forward, it seems like Riley has decided the hell with taking Michael and company alive, she’s going to see him dead before he can get out of the country. Does this seem like a common thread among many of the government agents in this series? They all seem to cross the line whenever it’s convenient, just to give Michael a reason to take them out. Whatever happened to government agents who actually followed the law and did their jobs?
Elementary #1×10 – “The Leviathan” – One of Sherlock’s former associates in England refers a client of the most secure safe company in the world to him after their newest model of impregnable safe, the Leviathan, is broken into for the second time in a year. The first occurrence had resulted in a trial where none of the criminals were willing to explain how they had cracked the safe. Now, it looks like a different group were using the same method and Sherlock can’t figure it out. Along the way, he does just so happen to solve the identity of a major art thief and recovers millions of dollars in stolen loot, but that’s not really important to the story. That’s what I like about this series, stuff happens and Sherlock isn’t really phased by it. Yeah, you just recovered a ton of artwork you weren’t even looking for but it’s not what he’s investigating now so forget it. We also see Watson’s family come to town, they’re largely disappointed by her career choices until Holmes shows up and explains that she’s doing a lot of good in the world and they seem to find that satisfying, even though Holmes later says he was just lying to them, telling them what they wanted to hear. However, we really do see that everyone is starting to expect her to stay with him because it isn’t so much the sober companion gig she enjoys, it’s the solving mysteries, which she had major contributions to make in this case. Really good episode, highly recommended, but disappointingly, it goes off for a couple of weeks.
Fringe #5×09 – “Black Blotter” – It’s a whole episode of Walter wasted on acid. Thank you and goodnight! Oh, you want more than that? Okay, here’s the deal. In every season of Fringe, they reserve episode 19 as a really bizarre episode, from season 2’s musical “Brown Betty”, season 3’s cartoon “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” and season 4’s strange time travel adventure “Letters of Transit”, these were always episodes where the writers and actors got to blow off steam and have a good time and do things they normally wouldn’t be able to do. This is the same idea, although since it’s a 13-episode final season, it wasn’t episode 19. Here, Peter, Olivia and Astrid finally start getting a signal on the radio they found in the pocket dimension, but since Walter dropped acid, he can’t do much to help. He spends the entire episode hallucinating and talking to his dead lab assistant, who apparently died because she was trying to keep Walter from making a mistake and going too far in his scientific research. While the crew is out trying to find Donald, Walter’s partner who left him the radio, Walter moves through his acid-induced high, discovering things about himself that he had forgotten. John Noble does a great job in this episode and we do learn a little more about his backstory, but let’s be honest, there isn’t anything really amazing going on here plot-wise. Yes, they do find the Observer boy who Donald took from the pocket dimension, but so much of season 5 is just replaying the same tropes over and over again, it’s just boring. Well, it was boring, right up until Fringe took on Monty Python and had a whole hallucinatory Terry Gilliam sequence that was hysterical, it gets extra points for daring to try such a thing, much less succeed so well. Unfortunately, that doesn’t save Fringe, when you’re doing so poorly, even if you knock it out of the park, you hardly register a beep on the heart monitor. Just four more episodes until we put this series to bed forever.
Person of Interest #2×10 – “Shadow Box” – Reese and Finch protect the sister of a marine and her boyfriend after she discovers that the military charity she works for is actually stealing millions of dollars and screwing servicepeople out of their homes. Carter gets invited to temporarily join an FBI task-force looking for Reese, although they have entirely the wrong idea about him, and she accepts. Reese gets too personally involved in the case and takes uncharacteristic risks, which results in his capture by the FBI at the end of the episode, although Carter doesn’t identify him as the “man in the suit”. Come on, you have to come up with a better name than that. It was funny watching Reese and Finch hack into everything Carter did and the discussion on boundaries. Finch has access to pretty much anything he wants, sometimes it makes me wonder just what he needs Carter and Fusco for. He asks them to run license plates all the time, why can’t he just do it himself? Yes, this is going off-air for a couple of weeks too, but I really want to know what’s going to happen to Reese, especially since he was talking like he was leaving forever, wishing Finch farewell. We know he isn’t, I just want to know how he’ll get out of this and if being in federal custody, we might find out more about John Reese.
Primeval: New World #1×08 – “Truth” – We’ve always known that Evan was keeping things from his team, we just never knew how much. After a quick visit by a Pachycephalosaurus which sprays Evan in the face with some hallucinogenic compound, he spends the rest of the episode running around Cross Photonics hunting down the Albertosaurus that killed his wife. We knew from the beginning that he was seeing things but it quickly went from being delusional to being downright crazy as he started locking his teammates in labs and getting paranoid that everyone was out to get him. The big shocker is that Mac finds… himself, dead, in a freezer. Apparently, when the Albertosaurus came through the anomaly when it killed Evan’s wife, an alternate Mac from the future came with it. Because Evan failed to shove the body back through the anomaly, the timeline where Mac had joined the military and hunted dinosaurs was disrupted and because Evan tried to seek out Mac’s family to apologize for their son’s death and instead met Mac before he joined the military, the timeline was seriously bent out of whack. At the end of the episode, both Mac and Ange had said they were leaving the team and the company, but this was the first time that we’ve seen Leeds and his newly-funded department able to step in and help out Evan. Something has to happen in the next episode to actually bring a much larger, better funded and hopefully better organized team together. We’ve already seen seven episodes of sneaking around in the dark, hoping not to get caught, I’m sure the government, which is clearly aware of what’s going on, isn’t going to allow that to happen forever. This episode is a step in the right direction for the series at least, I hope it only gets better from here. Too bad we have to wait a month to see the next episode.
Best of the Week: Once again, Arrow tops the list as we find out more about the island and Oliver’s rise to be Green Arrow. It was really funny this week when they were trying to come up with names for “the guy in the hood” and someone suggested Green Arrow and Oliver said that was a stupid name.
Worst of the Week: Even though it got extra points for inventiveness, Fringe still languishes at the bottom of the list and I think we can assume it will remain here until it finally, painfully, falls off the TV schedule. Guys, you should be ashamed of yourselves.