Friday, February 10, 2012

Tonight's TV Talk: 'Nikita', 'Fringe', and 'Supernatural'...

TV Talk for Friday, February 10th 2012

Nikita (The CW, 8pm) - S2, Ep14: "Rogue" - There's something just plain weird about seeing Nikita (Maggie Q) and Michael (Shane West) dealing with the Senator (Alberta Watson). I feel like they are making a deal with the devil in a lot of ways, and I don't completely believe this new allegiance is as solid as they are making it out to be. The only real allegiance that mattered tonight was the one Carla (Erica Gimpel) and Nikita used to have. Nikita felt enough guilt over breaking Carla's heart by relapsing and running away and screwing everything up. She had so much anger in her as her younger self; it was truly heartbreaking and yet somehow inspiring to see at the same time. Look how far she has come; look how she has learned to channel that anger towards those who deserve it but also to control it and only unleash it when she knows a) the person on the other end deserves and b) she has covered her tracks. Still, the more we learn about the pasts of those involved with Division, the bleaker things look. The one person Nikita trusted-- hell, the one person she loved-- and called her family was actually Division from long before they ever met. That's something that would send anyone into a tailspin. An addict like Nikita-- well, it's just a good thing she has Michael to lean on because she's strong, but such crushing information can take down even the thickest rocks. It was such an uncomfortable dichotomy to go from the dark, dirty streets where Carla was now living to that stark, sleek white office where Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) was hanging out. Clearly Nikita took Carla's words to heart: she paid it forward and saved Alex the way she had been saved, but really, she followed in Carla's footsteps more than she ever could have known or realized. And she may have even done it too well. Because while she was looking forward, she never took a second to look back and make sure those who had helped her were still doing okay. Move over, nerd; there's another new roommate to be squeezed into your pad!

Fringe (FOX, 9pm) - S4, Ep12: "Welcome to Westfield" - From the moment I realized that dream was Olivia (Anna Torv)'s and not Peter (Joshua Jackson)'s, I knew this was the start of the show's "consider Torv for an Emmy" campaign. Having dreams is one thing, but having memories that are another version of yourself's is on a completely different scale. I wanted to explore more of it right off the bat, but I found the way they weaved the story into the overarching mystery even more fascinating. It was supposed to just be this small town of Westfield that underwent this experiment, right? So why was Olivia having similar symptoms well before she got there? It felt a little too convenient that there was an "immune" survivor to not-so surreptitiously explain what was going on so that Olivia could basically know what to expect when she succumbed, as well. Also, um, where the hell did Astrid (Jasika Nicole) go? One minute she was out in the field, watching Walter (John Noble) throw a hubcab at another car to prove the magnetized activity (which, by the way, felt a little too advantageous. He just "happened" to feel up for leaving the lab? Maybe that cocktail was stronger than he thought!), the next she managed to leave the town-- the very thing that no one else could do or it would all be over. I don't understand a lot of things about this show, but that just felt sloppy, not scientific. Overall, though, I was really riveted throughout this episode. Yes, there was a lot of talking and explaining, rather than showing and doing, but the idea that the two universes could merge-- in a different way than we had seen seasons earlier-- was fascinating. Even the reasons why some were unaffected worked really well for me-- though it didn't necessarily explain why some people merged slower than others. The intentions behind this experiment remained unclear to me at the episode's end. Whether or not this was an experiment gone awry or just the tip of the iceberg of weaponizing the physics of the two universes in order for the Army to use against our country's enemies was something I felt was unanswered. Why wipe out a small town on your own soil to test your new weapon, after all? If your intention was to create the destruction that ultimately came from the universes merging here, why wouldn't you test it far away from home, where none of your own would get hurt? Maybe that's just me, though-- maybe I just want to believe that as terrible as people are to each other, there is still a sense of loyalty left in the world. Regardless, I also felt like this was just the tip of the iceberg for Olivia, hence the Emmy comment earlier. Her blood came back clean (assuming Walter wasn't just trying to protect her, having grown so fond of her), but she was still having memories of the other Olivia's life. So I have to imagine that whatever Nina (Blair Brown) was doing to this Olivia as a child and with her blood and so on is the culprit. But the real question is not really what happened to spur this on or even "why now?" The real question is will Olivia "remember," so to speak, fully just as Peter (Joshua Jackson) finds his way home, leaving her to be the one feeling lost? Because if this Olivia is suddenly Peter's Olivia, he may not want to leave her anymore, and that sets up a whole other new kind of turmoil that I personally love. Who cares what's real (or really yours) if it makes you happy? The deeper we go into this new world, the more I find myself wanting to stay here and explore the dynamics here, rather than run right back to what I knew for three seasons. I have to imagine Peter might start to think that way, too.

Supernatural (The CW, 9pm) - S7, Ep14: "Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie" - The way this episode opened, with Sam (Jared Padalecki) running from a force unseen, repeating to himself
that this thing couldn't hurt him, I got sincere "Yellow Fever" vibes and immediately thought this meant the clown was in Sam's head the way Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) has been and will be again soon. He is slowly unraveling, after all, and what is he afraid of most? The big guy from the cage and Bozo. And since we know Lucifer uses whatever he can to get to Sam, what's to say he wouldn't rely on Sam's own fears coming to life-- or at least coming into his head, making Sam think they're alive? Moving from an opening scene with clowns to a scene in which the D.B. had octopus suction marks and giant chunks ripped from its flesh, well, none of that really screamed correlation, which only fueled my own theory. Sometimes I prefer my theories to what ends up playing out on-screen. I guess that's the creative writer in me. And the proud "I hate to be wrong" part of me, as well. But putting these things together with the unicorn that seemed to fart rainbows, and the episode reeked from the get-go of children's images. Be it worst fears or simple sketches, this episode called back nicely to "I Believe The Children Are Our Future," where the little boy's biggest fears came true, even when they were just figments of his imagination or the stories the adults in his life told him to keep him in line. There was some nice misdirection with little Tyler in this episode, today's equivalent of a latchkey kid whose mother worked at Plucky's and was always left on his own. Surely he could be bitter about his life, right? And maybe he had enough empathy, even at a young age, to want to help the other kids with dick parents. Maybe he was magical. Either way, it seemed obvious Sam would take a liking to him, seeing a bit of himself in him, considering Dean used to leave him by his lonesome all the time-- in hotel rooms, and apparently as we learned tonight, in Plucky's, too. But when the janitor ended up killed in the ball pit, things got a bit confusing. He had no kids; he had no connection to the parents; unless he molested Tyler, why would he be a victim? And as dark as Supernatural goes, thankfully they never go there. And tonight was not anywhere near one of their darker episodes. Hell, the episode ended with an explosion of glitter. Glitter. Surprisingly not from Dean blowing off steam at a strip club, but still. Getting to the actual guy behind all of this magic was a little muddy-- I mean, Sam and Dean aren't parents, and Sam is hardly the bully when it comes to that relationship, so the whole "use Sam's fear against him thing" didn't feel organic at all. For one thing, it was the kids' fears being used against their bullies aka bad parents. So by that logic, Sam's fear of clowns should have been used against Dean. Instead, the clowns were sicced on Sam. Convenient, yes-- all too convenient. But I was happy to watch the Winchesters take the case nonetheless because it was a nice change of pace from the heaviness with which they have been dealing. Sam playing bad cop was weirdly amusing, and Dean's bizarre love of giant Slinkys? Oddly endearing! Also, I, too, love Skeeball (I may have kept a commemorative one from a birthday party of my own), and I would love to help Dean win his prize. That's not a euphemism. Although... Anyway, sure, it was weird to watch them "snap out of it," so to speak, for what will surely be only one stand alone episode, but while in the episode I tried to focus just on the refreshing bouts of humor and parallels between their own family situation and the guy greeter who was ganking all of these people. Next week when we're back to heavy, heavy again, though, I'm sure I will look back on tonight and comment on how manic the episode felt by comparison. But it's been a long week, and I was just thankful for the lighthearted break!

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