This week, we have two 2-part finales. First, we have the end of the Fringe series, a cause to celebrate and second, the season finale of Haven, which unfortunately won’t be back for another 9 months. We also have a new addition to the list, we’ll have to see if it manages to stick around.
Without further ado, here’s this week’s TV Thursdays.
Arrow #1×10 – “Burned” - After having been off for the holidays, I was looking forward to a great episode this week. Oliver has been recuperating after his encounter with the mysterious archer for six weeks and is still not up to snuff. He hasn’t donned the hood in all that time, wanting to spend more time with his family. However, when the partner of Laurel’s law business loses her fireman brother in a mysterious fire, Laurel seeks out Arrow for help. Initially reluctant to do more than research, he’s forced by circumstance to take an active role and discovers a fireman who had supposedly died two years before in a fire, had actually survived and was now taking revenge on his company for abandoning him in a burning building. Now granted, the fireman was supposed to be Firefly, a Batman villain from the comics, there just wasn’t much resemblance except the name. When I heard he was going to be in it, I thought it would be cool, even though Firefly is a second-rate villain, but no, it was just some burned guy in a firefighter outfit, spraying other people with turpentine. Color me not impressed. Meanwhile, Laurel’s father discovers she’s stolen the vigilante phone that was recovered previously and was using it to talk to Arrow so he planted a bug in the phone and is now using Laurel as a means of getting at the hooded archer. It wasn’t a bad episode by any means, it just wasn’t the greatness I was looking for and that’s okay. They can’t all be amazing. However, their fireman firebug just wasn’t all that interesting and if they didn’t use the name, I never would have drawn a link to Firefly.
Bones #8×12 – “The Corpse on the Canopy” – When Angela and Hodgins awake with a dead body hanging above their bed, immediately they know that the super-killer Pelant is responsible. This starts the whole team racing to uncover the clues and track down the killer who had escaped justice just a few episodes before, fearing he may strike at the team again. Fair warning, this episode was crap. Just crap. I hate Pelant, I hate villains like Pelant and as such, I hated this episode. Pelant is a super-villain. He knows everything, he is a dozen steps ahead of everyone else and he never loses. He can build a nuclear weapon with a couple paper clips and a coconut. It gets ridiculous. Somehow, he not only manages to figure out that the team are using untraceable burner phones, he then traces them. He manages to get control of a Predator drone and somehow steer it at a Muslim girl’s school (blowing that up would thrill the extremists), while at the same time magically draining all of the bank accounts belonging to Hodgins and Angela. They act like it’s a huge sacrifice to lose their money and stop the drone. Um, dumbshits, it’s bank fraud, you’re protected! It’s stupid stories like this that really make me question the writing on Bones. It’s happened quite a bit lately, I want someone to put a bullet in the back of Pelant’s head that matters, not something he can sew back together. Enough!
Castle #5×12 – “Death Gone Crazy” – When the creator of the popular adult entertainment product “College Girls Gone Crazy” is found dead in the bathroom of a club where his company is hosting a party, Castle and Beckett are called in to figure out whodunit. Of course, it immediately looks like just about everyone has a motive, nobody really liked the guy except his producer and that’s the one who ultimately killed him. I suppose I should feel a little sorry for him, after all, he was trying to clean up his act for the sake of his soon-to-be-born daughter, but really, he still came off as a sleaze, as did most of the people in the episode. Even the daughter of the moral crusader, who hooked up with this jerk at a bar and ended up pregnant, was rather scummy. These are the episodes that I really don’t care for, the ones where I just cannot sympathize with the murder victim, nor can I really appreciate that the murderer thought they had a good reason for committing the crime. No, it was all about greed and stupidity and while the bit with Esposito, once again, was very entertaining and I’m glad they’re stepping up his role, it just wasn’t enough to make this episode more than average. Granted, an average Castle episode is still pretty darned good but I’ve come to expect greatness. Maybe next week.
Fringe #5×12-5×13 – “Liberty/An Enemy of Fate” – This was it, the end of the series and thankfully so. After last week’s review, I was worried about how bad the end could be and while it wasn’t as bad as I feared, it was still bad. I’ll address the two episodes separately, it seems easier that way. In the first, as we recall, Michael had stepped off the train and surrendered to Windmark, who takes him to Liberty Island for an examination. There he discovers that Michael’s unique brain composition makes him superior to the Observers in every way. Yeah, so superior he’s mute. But anyhow, Windmark goes running off to his superiors in the future who decree Michael is to be vivisectioned for further study. Meanwhile, stuck for other options, Olivia volunteers for a massive injection of Cortexiphan which will allow her to cross over into the other universe and rescue Michael. She jumps across, finds that Fauxlivia is now in charge of Fringe Division and happily married to her former partner Lincoln Lee. At least someone gets married around here. They help her get to Liberty Island where she can jump back and grab Michael, and while fighting hallucinations, she does. However, on jumping back with Michael, several Observers follow her. We’ve never seen them able to cross universes before, there’s no reason to think that they can. So why do they? Meanwhile, September uses Walter’s lab to build the big machine, but one component is fried so he visits December to ask for a favor.
In the second episode, the team finds out that the machine they’ve spent all season gathering parts for won’t work, December is working on a solution but they find the Observers are one step ahead of them and leave December hanging in his apartment. Stuck for something else to do, Astrid comes up with a plan to use the Observer wormhole to the future as a power source for the machine and conveniently, she still has their timetable of time jumps that the Observers have conveniently never changed so they all run off to steal the mechanism. Peter and Walter share an emotional moment where Peter learns Walter isn’t coming home. September then pops up and spoils it all, saying Michael is his kid, he should be the one to take him to the future. Walter and Astrid share an emotional moment with the frozen cow. I retch as I try to slog through all of the emotional moments they’re shoehorning into the last couple of episodes. The final battle ensues, everyone fights against Windmark, using a lot of old Fringe cases and monsters against the Observers. That was actually kind of clever. Olivia wigs out in a Cortexiphan-induced frenzy and crushes Windmark between two cars, although you can clearly see that, blood-splatter or no, he’s gone when the cars hit. September tries to take Michael through the wormhole, but is conveniently shot and killed. Walter grabs the kid and skips merrily off to the future. I was right, the writers were utterly clueless of the kind of mayhem their plan would have logically had on the universe, which I suppose is no surprise because, in the final season, the writers proved they were complete idiots anyhow. At the very end, Walter and Michael walk into the light and poof, all of a sudden, it’s 20 years earlier, the scene with Peter, Olivia and Etta in the park, Peter smiles and the series ends. So why did Walter and Michael walking into the future send everyone back in time? Yes, I know it’s supposed to show that the Observer invasion never happened but it’s really jarring. We’re really left at the end saying “the writers really had no clue, did they?” They should understand the consequences to their own continuity better than mere peons like me, yet they didn’t know what was going on or what effects such an ending should have had on the whole show. Yes, that is one of the problems inherent in most time travel stories, which is why I don’t recommend them, but come on, it’s all a big flip-off to anyone rational watching the show. Of course, it was only the irrational and the masochistic who were still watching the show at the end. Farewell Fringe, it’s sad how low you fell before you were mercifully put to sleep.
Haven #3×12-3×13 – “Reunion/Thanks For The Memories” - Once again, we have a two-fer this week, the season three finale, so this will be a long review. It’s clear, going in, that the producers of Haven thought this was going to be the end of the series, I’ve mentioned it all season long. They’ve been wrapping up plot threads left and right and once they found out they had another season, I think they’d already blown their load. I really hope that they don’t have the same problem that Fringe did, ending the series and then having another season they had no clue what to do with. However, let’s hope for the best and dive right in. In the first episode, Audrey is being held captive by the Bolt Gun Killer in the guise of Claire. She knocks Audrey out and escapes, leaving Audrey and Nathan to try and figure out whose skin she’s going to try to steal next. First, however, they get called to the local high school where a man has gotten crushed behind the bleachers. It turns out to be a former classmate of Nathan’s, he’s forgotten that it’s his class reunion. However, the classmate looks exactly as he had 20 years before, something is obviously wrong. No time for that though, they run back to the station where the computer program Audrey set up a while back to figure out what face all of the stolen parts would make has finally finished and it turns out to be Arla Coogan, the Colorado Kid’s wife. Apparently, 27 years ago, Lucy’s son James, Arla’s husband, was injured and taken into the barn by Lucy. He supposedly knows how to make the troubles go away forever and she wants to get into the barn and retrieve him. At the end of the episode, the barn appears and both James and Agent Howard, Audrey’s FBI “boss” from the first season, come out. This is where things start going really weird. Oh, and the whole high school thing? It was boring, it was filler and meant nothing.
The last episode of the season though is where things really get interesting. Arla has kidnapped Audrey again and is trying to get her to find the barn so she can set everything straight. With the exception of Audrey, Nathan and Duke, everyone else wants Audrey to go into the barn and end the troubles. Nobody can find her until Vince and Dave realize where the barn has to be, based on their experiences with the Bolt Gun Killer and other incarnations of Audrey in the past. Everyone heads out there to find the barn, a dilapidated old building, sitting there, with Audrey and Arla in front of it. However, the meteor storm starts and instead of just flying overhead, they start crashing into the town Armageddon-style, yet I don’t think I ever heard a single siren anywhere in the episode, I guess nobody is trying to save anyone from the giant falling rocks. Arla and James have a reunion, but the Guard show up and shooting ensues. James is hit and the only way to save him is for Audrey and Nathan to take him into the barn, hoping he will heal and really does know how to end this. There, they run into Agent Howard, who is a keeper of the barn. He tells Audrey that she’s nothing special, she’s just the person who has to stay in the barn to keep the troubles at bay, but every 27 years, she needs to “recharge” and goes out into the world as a different person, the troubles return and everything starts over again. That was honestly disappointing to me, I was counting on a better explanation for *WHY* all of this happens. Nathan realizes that in the barn, his trouble is gone and he can feel. They run into James who is terrified that Audrey is trying to kill him. He tells them that the only way to end the troubles forever is for Audrey to kill someone she loves and he was afraid it would be him. They tell him that Arla has been lying to him and he demands to see her. When they bring her into the barn, he can see her for what she really is and rejects her but she goes for Nathan’s gun and shoots James, in the process being killed herself. James is taken off to be healed by the barn. Nathan can’t believe any of this so Agent Howard shows him a memory he will believe and he and Audrey relive the scene where he was sent back in time and slept with Lucy and became James’ father. Now if that’s not convoluted, I don’t know what is. Audrey decides that the only way to solve the problem, at least for the moment, is to stay in the barn for another 27 years and start the cycle all over again. Obviously, Nathan isn’t happy about this and they go outside again so she can say goodbye to everyone. Nathan, who can’t believe he can’t stop it, shoots Agent Howard. The Guard shoot Nathan. Duke puts a bullet in Jordan’s head. The cast is downsized. Vince is revealed to be the leader of the Guard and sends them all home. Audrey goes into the barn and things start to fade, but at the last minute, Duke leaps at the barn and everything vanishes.
So now what? It really sucks that we have to wait 9 months before the next episode. It’s clear that after they received news they were going to be renewed, they inserted some scenes, such as Duke leaping into the barn. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. The keeper of the barn is dead. Is the barn on auto-pilot? Will they find a way to come back early? Heck, I thought it would be funny to have Haven: The Old Generation, they come back in 27 years and everyone is old. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
The Following #1×01 – “Pilot” – There are a couple of new series coming up this year that looked vaguely interesting and this, I’m sorry to say, was the least interesting of the ones upcoming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got Kevin Bacon, which is a major selling point, although the first time he came on screen, I said “he looks old”. It’s also got Shawn Ashmore, who I like, so I decided to give it a shot. To be honest, it had a very “24″ feel to it and Bacon looked a lot like Kiefer Sutherland, I figure it will be that kind of show, although certainly not that kind of format. In the episode, serial killer Joe Carroll escapes from prison and the FBI agent who almost single-handedly apprehended him in 2003, but retired on disability after Carroll stabbed him in the heart, is called back to consult on the new case. Almost immediately, I start drawing a lot of bad parallels with other series. Carroll is, unfortunately, one of those super-villains who is always a couple of steps ahead of everyone and never makes mistakes. He’s also got a cult, like Red John on The Mentalist, people who are willing to do anything he wants, even die for the “cause”, whatever that is, as we see when a woman scribbles passages from Poe all over herself, then stabs herself in the eye with an icepick. Of course, with all the cops standing around her, one of them could have used a taser on her and saved her life, but apparently, logic and police training make no sense in these shows. Now you might think that I’d hate the show, and to a certain degree, you’d be right, but there’s enough here to make me want to give it at least one more week. If this is just going to be an ongoing battle between Bacon’s Ryan Hardy character and the incredibly complex machinations of Joe Carroll, then no, I won’t stick with it. Nobody is ever nearly as smart as these super-villains are depicted as being, in fact, the only way for anyone to see as far ahead as they do, to know what everyone will do to the degree they apparently can, is to have the script in front of them. I want more-or-less realism, not mystical virtual mind-reading mumbo jumbo. Come on Kevin, you have, at most, another week or two to impress me. Give me some of that Bacon magic!
Best of the Week: The season finale of Haven, as strange as it was and as full of holes as it was, actually has me looking forward to next season! For a show that I never used to care about at all, I’m actually invested in what happens next, which earns it a lot of points in my eyes. I realize that the majority of episodes were in the can before they got the news of their renewal and that they couldn’t go back and do more filming in the last couple of episodes to clean things up, but please, they have at least 13 more episodes, can they please, please, please make some sort of cohesive sense of the troubles and the barn? Please?
Worst of the Week: No surprise, it goes to Fringe, not only the worst of the week but, by far, the worst series of the year. It fails for totally missing the ramifications of their plan, or if they even did see the problems, totally failing to deal with them on screen. If there is one shining example of bad television today, that epitomizes all of the worst things television can do, which is doubly bad as the series started out as one of the shining stars of the viewing week.
However, I’m giving a special nod to this week’s Bones for essentially doing everything you can possibly do wrong in a single episode. Come on, kill this asshole and never, ever, ever do it again!