Unrequited love was such a strong thread across superhero TV this week that you had to double check the calendar to verify that it was in fact close to Halloween and not time for Valentine’s Day.
The Flash, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow and Gotham all used romantic entanglements to varying degrees in their episodes to push the plot along or provide comic relief.
Love was the centerpiece of The Flash thanks to a visit from Arrow’s Felicity Smoak. Barry and Felicity had some major sparks fly during Barry’s guest spot on Arrow last season and they picked up their flirtation in Central City much to the delight of pretty much everybody who knows Barry.
All the metaphorical hearts, flowers and doodling on Trapper Keepers was actually a welcome departure from The Flash’s early routine of boy meets meta-human, somebody has a flashback to a dark period in their lives and Tom Cavanagh’s Dr. Wells does something creepy/evil during the show’s coda. (Wells got creepy on Cisco in the next to last act instead).
Meanwhile in a Quinjet over Europe…
Agents of SHIELD continued its renaissance with another twisty episode featuring nice action and a strong second outing from Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird), who showed she only needs a tea towel to kick your ass.
Bobbi and Hunter provided some comic relief with some mid-battle bickering between former spouses. In just two episodes, Adrianne Palicki has brought more charisma and energy to the show than the entire first half of Season 1 contained. Hey Marvel, send Skye back to her homeworld if that’s what it takes to make Mockingbird a full-time cast member.
Corporate synergy moment: Bobbi wearing a Star Wars T-Shirt in her opening scene. We’re all one big family in the House of Mouse.
Start the ship: It’s not as cool when real Simmons is on hand to find the right words for Fitz, but big strappin’ Mack is there to make everything right again.
Hair flip count: 1. It was real subtle, but it’s now totally Bobbi’s signature finishing move.
Where did this come from?: Simmons to Ward upon his transfer: “If I see you again, I will kill you.” That time in Hydra has made timid Jemma bloodthirsty.
Let’s hope they both die in a fire: After meeting Senator Lying Likearug, it’s no shock where Agent Bearded Pantsonfire gets his manipulative douchebag tendencies.
On a completely unrelated note: Chloe Bennett went as a laundry basket for Halloween.
Meanwhile in Gotham City …
Nygma’s stalkerish flirtation with librarian Kristin Kringle (ugh) was supposed to bring some levity to a heavy episode that shone the spotlight on Bullock chasing down some demon goats from his past.
The whole subplot landed with a thud and reminded everyone just how annoying the Nygma character is. The sooner he gets his dream job of working for a game company that will eventually betray him and out of the GCPD, the better.
Other than that, this episode has been par for course. It was great to see Bullock given a little depth. Nice to know there’s a good cop under all those layers of cynicism, cheeseburgers and whiskey.
“James Gordon” count: 2 (If we don’t know who the guy is by now it’s time to recast the role).
Awwe sad face: Poor Alfred, your little emo ward doesn’t know how much you care.
Better off dead: Everybody loves mom, I understand, but Oswald Cobblepot is a little old to be having tubby time with mommy. It might have been best to let her assume you ran away with a hussy, Penguin.
Makeup/breakup: Just when it looked like Gordon and Bullock had reached a level of mutual understanding, Cobblepot has to walk through the squad room door and screw everything up.
Back in Central City …
We finally get to meet the Moriarty to the Flash’s Sherlock, Captain Cold. When he got the gun and glasses, my immediate thought was, “Where is the parka?”
After an initial fake-out with an overcoat, the show didn’t disappoint and the villain’s signature wardrobe was complete by show’s end. Not a bad look for Wentworth Miller, who has spent most of his TV career shirtless.
Went into the wrong business: In fewer keystrokes than it took to write this sentence, Felicity hacked an entire city grid. Damn my parents for giving me books instead of math problems.
Here’s a tip: Hey Cisco if you have a chip in your weapon that regulates its ammo via commands sent by your tablet: instead of finding where the gun is just use your iPad to TURN THE DAMN THING OFF!!
Competitive edge: What other retro games would the Flash be great at? Twister? Rockem-Sockem Robots? Hungry Hungry Hippos?
Meanwhile in Starling City …
Nyssa al Ghul made her way back to town searching for … you guessed it — her lover Sara. Oliver had to break the news to Nyssa about Sara’s current residence, six feet under the Starling City cemetery.
The bad news is taken with all the grace you’d expect from someone nicknamed, “Daughter of the Demon.” Blood oaths are sworn and the hunt for Sara’s killer resumes. Ollie and Nyssa wind up in one of Sara’s old safe houses and find evidence that Sara discovered that Malcom Merlin is still alive and probably was her murderer.
Merlin and Oliver meet in a public place where he professes his innocence, backs it up with solid logic and points the blame back to the League of Assassins.
This puts Ollie in a tough spot because he wants to maintain that whole “no killing vow” thing and doesn’t want it to get back to Thea that he’s killed her father figure for a third time.
In the end Oliver puts Merlin under his protection and makes Starling off limits to the league. This doesn’t sit well with Nyssa and she runs home to daddy, R’as al Ghul, who (after a big reveal) is ready to go to war with the Arrow.
Hair-raising: Who knew that being hung upside down tripled your hair volume. Or was Thea also attached to a Van de Graaff Generator as well as being tied up?
Abandoned warehouse count: 2. Ok they were empty factories, but that’s close enough. Are Det. Lance’s precinct and Queen Consolidated the only buildings in this town that are occupied? The rest are warehouses that were abandoned with the freight still in them. This show stages some of the best fights on TV, just stage them in some different places.
Lawwwwrrel: In the show’s continuing quest to make Laurel relevant, they’ve got her hanging around the clubhouse (she’s no Felicity Smoak) and running interference with her dad about Sara’s whereabouts (that’ll end well). She’s also hitting the heavy bag at Wildcat’s Gym, so you know she’ll be totally ready to don her sister’s cropped leather jacket and mask by midseason. Yikes.
Meanwhile in Pennsylvania coal country …
Constantine didn’t get the memo about the kissy kissy requirement but it did manage to find a new female companion/potential love interest.
Zed, the artist from the end of the pilot episode, replaces the rather boring Liv, who bled a lot? Zed is a better fit for Constantine since she’s mysterious and a little shady despite being a rookie in the ways of the dark arts.
The duo wind up in the same backwater mining town that’s being plagued by a rash of supernatural mining accidents. This was largely a rehash of the pilot with fewer special effects since Constantine has to show Zed the ways of the spirit world. At least the team is together now and they can walk the Earth righting wrongs as one.
The investigation itself is kind of meh and disjointed. At first the mine was digging to close to hell, which is a pretty cool concept. In the end, the ghosts in the mine are supposed to be friendly but somebody is twisting them to kill the mine bosses. It ends up being the gypsy woman in town and she gets her comeuppance by the spirit of her dead miner husband. Oh and people where covered in a mystery fluid a lot. Pay attention, this might become a running thing.
Can’t play in Pa.: Chas, Constantine’s hard to kill driver, couldn’t come play this week. He has a warrant out for him in Pennsylvania after a dust-up with a succubus. Better luck next week.
Cigarette count: 3. It’s incredibly hard to depict a smoker on modern TV but the show is doing its best to portray the character’s love of cigarettes in much the same way TV hides a pregnant actress’s belly. Wonder if they’ll make a run at Constantine’s bisexuality?
Fake out: Constantine strolled into the abandoned church with that True Detective graffiti on the wall ready to do battle with the worst that Hell had to offer, instead he just scared the crap out of a couple of teenagers boning under a pew.
Craig Wack is a veteran journalist. Please follow his Twitter.