Scandal s6 ep 13

Thirteen episodes into a sixteen-episode season, and the Big Bads are finally taken on and defeated, a problem to which it really didn’t take that long to work out a solution. Which brings me back to the point I’ve been making for a while: if it’s always just been a matter of killing Peus and Ruland, that really isn’t much of a challenge for the Scandal gang.

And so it proves: Peus ups the ante a little by posting drones (yay!) over nine American cities and exploding a couple of them in the hope of regaining control of “his” President. Ruland, still in custody, is punched by Rosen, supposedly because he’s in such a state of grief and fury about the death of Elizabeth, whom he didn’t actually like much; or, indeed, at all. Ruland gets sprung by Rowan, apparently in terror of his kidnappers, but it is – of course – a set-up; it enables Jake to track and kill Peus, and Rowan stabs Ruland with a dinosaur-tooth fossil. I can’t even.

In fairness, the show has continued to make its points about gender and race. “A woman in power is a nasty woman”, Olivia snarls at Mellie at one point, when observing that there was every possibility that the Oval could have been handed to Cyrus, someone recently in jail under suspicion of assassination, rather than Mellie. The provenance, and point, of the line is clear: no matter how unsuitable for office a man might be, he’s always going to have an unfair advantage over the most ferociously well-qualified woman. And the apparent breaking of Rowan’s resistance by his captors always had racial overtones, given a nasty spin by Peus this week when he confirms that Rowan has been “emancipated”.

It’s possible – given the sort of criminal infrastructure which enabled a nine-city drone attack – that the deaths of Peus and Ruland aren’t going to be enough to wipe out their organisation. (I’d still be keeping a close eye on the Widow Vargas, now installed as the prospective VPOTUS.) And it may well be that unexpected real-life events forced Shonda into a late change of direction, meaning that the season’s major plot arc was a little rushed. It’s still remarkably unsatisfactory. This week’s announcement that season 7 will be the last of Scandal at least gives the writers a chance to let the show go out on something approaching a high.

Designated Survivor s1 ep 20

*SPOILERS*

“Despite recent disruption to the world order, this is not the time to retreat into isolation or populism. This is the time to show that global co-operation can and will lead us to a safer future.”

Sigh. President Jack Bauer, ladies and gentlemen, as usual talking a lot more sense than the real-life shower of lunatics and fascists about to drag us into the apocalypse, and momentarily depressing me as a result, but no time for Weltschmerz this week, we’ve got a recap to get through, and things are moving FAST. Except on the nuclear disarmament front, that is, where things are grinding to an ignominious halt, thanks to the ridiculous Abe Leonard finally publishing his “It wasn’t Al Sakar! Dun dun dun!” story.

While the First Mole Lady seizes the opportunity to try and get the classified goss again, Moss is apoplectic that PJB didn’t tell him first, Seth is confused but loyal, funny and frankly lovely about it (Seth is the BEST) and the French President is just rude, announcing to NATO that she’s taking PJB’s Kum-ba-ya plan (despite it being HER IDEA) off the table because she thinks he’s too gauche to deal with. (Not that he helps himself by drawling “Madame” at her in cringe-worthy fashion every chance he gets.) After a few weeks when PJB has seemed much more authoritative, it’s disappointing to see him slip back into brow-beaten, sad-sack mode; I half-expected the cardigan and glasses to come back out, and the five minute flirt with “Madame” didn’t really turn that around for me – I thought he was going to kiss her hand at one point, ew – but it seemed to work for her so maybe we will eventually get our nuclear disarmament in season 2 after all.

There’s still a lot of other season 1 business to get through between this and the finale, though. While PJB’s away, Emily and Aaron will… sadly, not play, but will see each other across a crowded restaurant, have a very nice hug, and tease me with talk of wanting to work together again and anything could happen and the like. (You guys, I WANT THEM TO GET TOGETHER SO BAD.) Since Aaron is quite obviously delighted to see her, and Emily is quite obviously ready to take a stiletto to his lunch partner’s face till she realises it’s his cousin rather than some Julie-come-lately muscling in on her man turf, is it too much to hope we might get a snog next week? Or do I have to wait till season 2 for that as well? Hurrumph.

From a metaphorical ship to a literal one, meantime: Agent Q is running about the USS Conspiracy Corp, whacking folk with the wrong end of an axe, presumably since any federal agent chopping folk’s heads off would have to deal with a tsunami of paperwork. Mid-thump and before Catalan cataches her again, she manages to get a distress call out to a very nice lady at the US Coast Guard who doesn’t quite understand the significance of it at first. La Guard gets there, though, bless her, and gets hold of Reed Diamond, who is now FRANTIC with worry for the missing Q and yelling at everyone about everything, bless him. Now, obviously, Unpopcult keeps a keen eye on the latest developments in employment law and does not endorse vociferation as an ideal management technique in real life. But on this show, at least, it does seem to get things done – and by “things,” I mean a huge, practically immediate FBI raid on the USS Conspiracy Corp, and a lot of authoritative shouting and shooting and deck-clearing which is very impressive and exciting indeed, even if it almost ends me when I think it’s about to accidentally end poor Agent Q. It’s a great fake-out, leading to an absolutely fantastic cliffhanger – how will Q get out of this fresh fix? Will Reed Diamond admit his feelings for her? Are Reed Diamond’s feelings all in my head? And does Mole Guy really have better hacker skillz than Chuck? I don’t know, but bring on the next ep, I’m excited to find out!

Person of Interest s5 ep 12

There’s no sign of Person of Interest flagging as it reaches the finishing line; quite the reverse. There’s enough material this week for four or five episodes. Reese and Shaw, on Machine duty while Finch is off virus-hunting, get a Number and some co-ordinates, which point them towards Greer and Fort Meade, the headquarters of the NSA, where Greer works under an alias. They assume, with good reason, that it’s going to be something to do with Finch – whether as victim or perpetrator –  and head over there.

Finch, meantime, has managed to infiltrate Fort Meade impersonating Emile Bertrand, a French (Belgian?) NATO official. He hesitates before introducing the virus into the system; it could kill Samaritan, but it might also kill his Machine, which he used to regard as his child, but is now essentially Root reincarnated. Which gives Greer another chance to capture him. This time Greer explains that Samaritan wants to work with the Machine to rule the world. It’s rather sweet that Samaritan is looking for a playmate. And Greer is so determined that this is going to happen that he’s prepared to sacrifice himself to stop Finch: he seals the room he and Finch are in, and starts to extract the oxygen from it. Greer dies, but Reese and Shaw get there in time to save Finch.

And the police have discovered the secret stash of bodies in the tunnel. Fusco is abducted and shot by Agent LeRoux, revealed to be the killer; fortunately, Fusco is wearing a bullet-proof vest and turns the tables on LeRoux, leaving him to debate whether to kill LeRoux to keep himself safe. In what has otherwise been a remarkable final season, the tunnel-bodies storyline has been, in my view, the least successful. This is in no way the fault of the outstanding Kevin Chapman.

Meantime, though, as we near the end of the series, the Machine doesn’t want to miss out on its own lap of honour. So as Finch ponders whether to deploy the virus, which might bring down the Machine as well as Samaritan, it shows Finch – and us – what the world would have been like had it never existed. It’s A Wonderful Machine, if you will. Reese is dead, of course, in an unmarked grave, without the Machine to give his life a purpose. Fusco is a drunk ex-cop, and only not in prison because he ratted out his HR buddies. Finch himself is still in business with Nathan Ingram, although whatever they’re doing – and unless I missed it, it isn’t specified – is somewhat trivial compared to what they in fact did. And most chillingly of all Shaw and Root, with no Machine to show them an alternative path, are working for Samaritan, which is the only show in town. Because whether or not we’ve got a Machine, we’re certainly getting something like Samaritan; and, unchecked, who knows what it might do? It’s an episode which defies easy summary, and it’s also magnificent TV; the scene at the end, when Finch finally talks to Samaritan, is very nearly overwhelming.

Blindspot s2 ep 20

*SPOILERS*

Oh, FFS. Everybody was clearly having too much fun without him last week and Miseryguts McPersonalitybypass – or, as some people like to call him, “Roman” – couldn’t be having that. So back he is to demand that Jane, now that she and Weller are smiling at each other again, stop THAT immediately and ruin things with the man once more. Which Jane duly does, either because this ship is a magnet for storms and icebergs, or because the writers hate me.

Either way, at her appalling brother’s insistence, Jane tells Kurt about Emma Shaw, and Jeller grinds to a halt yet again. Sigh. I suppose at least the temporary resumption of hostilities means Weller gets to attack Roman with a dumbbell (TEAM WELLER) as opposed to making him Thai chicken, so there’s a silver lining of sorts, even if our hothead hero calms down to some degree by the end of the ep. Unlike Mr Totally-Not-a-Murdering-Psychopath-Anymore-No, who… Well, that would be telling but, once Kurt finds out, I’d say Roman’s chances of making it to the newly-announced season 3 a live man let alone a free one are looking considerably more slim.

But you don’t hire Ronda Rousey for a guest spot and waste your entire episode on a guy with a frown for a face. The main plot of the week, then, has Zapata in jail with Ronda to get close to her Sandstorm boyfriend, soon followed by Zapata out of jail with Ronda and getting close to her Sandstorm boyfriend’s fists and bomb collection. As you’d expect, most of the story’s built around women fighting each other – a lot of it – and since Blindspot has a decent track record in that area anyway, nobody appears to, er, pull any punches. The action is solid, well-choreographed and exciting, for the most part, although I’m finding Zapata’s sudden overwhelming need to go even more maverick than usual a bit odd. Of all the people on Team Tat with cause to take Sandstorm personally, Tasha seems waaaay down the list. Unlike Patterson, for instance, who is struggling so much with what Borden did that even Dr Sun – a character usually so cold that she could turn a hot dog into an ice lolly – is sympathetic. Too late to help poor Stuart, but sympathetic nonetheless. And probably right about Roman, but we’ll see about that next week.

Hawaii Five-0 s7 ep 19

A terrified teenage girl with visible signs of physical abuse is brought into hospital by her “uncle”, but before the nurse treating her can alert Family Services the girl and the man disappear. So the nurse calls in the Five-0 instead, and Steve and Kono set to work. The girl is identified as Moana, missing for six weeks from her home, and lured into running away, then coerced into sex work, by someone she met online. It turns out that this isn’t an isolated case; there’s a sex trafficking ring on the island. Kono takes the case personally, and her righteous anger is something to behold, even if the guy whose car window Kono smashed in might reasonably think that all he was doing was sitting there minding his own business.

The trafficked girls are found by the end of the episode and taken to Pearl Haven, a specialised (and genuine) treatment facility, run by an organisation named Ho‘ōla Nā Pua. This might explain why the episode had an underlying hint of PSA, although not off-puttingly so; anyway, on any view it’s a worthy cause, and anything which can be done to educate young people and their parents is worthwhile.

There’s also a B-plot in which two recovering addicts are found murdered in their sober living home, together with their counsellor. Chin and Lou are on this one, although it’s no more than filler. And there are one or two references to something which happened with “Jack”, which confused me at first, but I’d forgotten about the MacGyver/H50 crossover episode. I’m not watching MacGyver, but I don’t think the crossover has been shown in the UK yet, so I might keep an eye out for it.

The Good Fight s1 ep 7

What a completely magnificent hour of tv this was.

The cases of the week were basically Kresteva vs Boseman et al, and vice versa, as TGF’s biggest, baddest villain so far tried to bring down the firm in the Grand Jury room, and Elsbeth, Lucca and co fought back in civil court, which sounds boring, but was anything but. The wildly, joyously funny script hit almost every mark with panache and wit, managing, in particular, the incredibly difficult trick of weaving race into the story in a way that was both laugh-out-loud hilarious and insanely clever. Adrian, especially, was punch-the-air amazing, and Marissa’s sly swipe at the racial politics/make-up of TGW as smart, self-aware and, crucially, funny as it was meta. Elsbeth was an unmitigated, exuberant delight. Jay was quietly, unobtrusively great. Colin gets better and better by the week. Even the finance guys were fun. And watching Kresteva hoist by his own petard will never not be awesome. If I have one complaint, it’s my usual one – Maia is still too dull and passive to hold her own with such a fantastic bunch of characters, but, as usual, everybody else more than made up for it. This was just amazing.

Nashville s5 ep 2

In many ways this episode is something of a triumph: I wouldn’t have thought it possible for Nashville to be this annoying without the input of The Girls, who are, this week, no more than malevolent offscreen presences. Just about everyone else, though, seems to be determined to behave in a way which makes me want to throw something at the screen.
Rayna, for example, is back from her road trip, positively bouncing with excitement about her big plan to record, with Deacon, a concept album about their life together. Bucky – eye on the Highway 65 bottom line – is sceptical, but ultimately knows who’s paying the piper, so falls into line. Deacon clearly doesn’t like the idea, patiently explaining to Rayna that there’s quite a lot about his recent history that he really doesn’t want to dwell on, but agrees to think about it. Rayna, however, won’t let it go for more than five minutes, to the point where Deacon is clearly wondering whether death might have been preferable to a liver transplant, if it means having to endure Rayna.

But that’s nothing to compared with Gunnar and Scarlett DEAR GOD WILL YOU STOP WITH THIS SHIT? Scarlett is jealous because Autumn is texting Gunnar – even though he isn’t replying – and because one of Gunnar’s songs, written while they were apart, might not be about her. The lyric makes reference to “golden eyes”, which she doesn’t have, although as Gunnar despairingly points out no-one does, and it’s a generic love song. She sulks anyway.

Meantime Will meets a designer, Jakob Fair, who totally comes onto him. Will rebuffs him with more than a little regret, but this all happens so swiftly that I’d say Kevin isn’t long for this world. Juliette – who at least is behaving in character – demands that her bitches (Avery and/or Emily) track down her “angel”. And Rayna is being stalked, presumably either by worryingly intense tech zillionaire Zach, who wants to – ahem – “hack (her) cloud”, or worryingly intense H65 media guy Geek, whose real name I didn’t catch.

But then, as I’m wondering whether I ever want to watch this show again, it all kind of sorts out, in a way which is hardly satisfactory from a dramatic point of view, but which at least meant that I didn’t destroy my TV. Gunnar changes the words of his song so that it’s explicitly about Scarlett. Deacon relents. Juliette meets the pastor of church her “angel” attends; he’s charming and soft-spoken, explains that the woman – Hallie – doesn’t want any attention, but agrees to pass Juliette’s number on to her. These scenes have an appealing dreaminess to them. And, as I said last week, the dialogue is much improved from last season; there is, I think, a script doctor in the house.