Welcome to Last Night on TV, our daily column that looks back at what happened on television the night before. If we’re going to stay up all night and watch TV, we might as well talk about it the next day.
Last night on TV, Neil revels in the Silver Age goodness of The Flash, while Christopher gets musical with Agent Carter. Plus a bonus take on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Neil Miller: If we strip away all the Silver Age nerdiness – something delivered in full force this week with the reappearance of King Shark – there’s one specific thing that The Flash does really well. It doesn’t shy away from dealing with emotional fallout.
In this instance, we get an entire episode arc dedicated to the reverberations of what happened on Earth-2. For Caitlin, this means mourning another beau. For Cisco and Barry, this means trying to keep secrets from the people they love about their Earth-2 doppelgangers. And for the Wells clan, this means adjusting to what they believe will be a permanent existence on Earth-1. It’s amazing how much emotional ground the episode covers, considering the fact that it also involves a Manshark-hunt, an appearance by John Diggle and newly minted ARGUS chief Lyla Michaels, and Barry doing some brotherly bonding with Wally West. It’s an episode that perfectly exhibits both the frenetic world-building and the narrative dexterity that have made Flash so much fun to watch for a season and a half.
That’s not to say there aren’t some weird little nitpicks to be had. At what point, I must ask, will Barry learn that keeping secrets from his family is not a good idea? He seems to learn this lesson on the weekly. Stop it, Barry.
The bonus with an episode like “King Shark” is that we can have our cake and eat it, too. We get wonderful, emotive performances from the show’s all-stars. Danielle Panabaker shines in Caitlin Snow’s somber moments, Carlos Valdes makes Jaws quips while also giving Caitlin worried puppy dog eyes, and the chemistry between Grant Gustin and his West family, both Candice Patton and Jesse L. Martin, has never been stronger. PLUS! A whole bunch of monstrous action at the hands of King Shark, who was voiced by Watchmen and X2 screenwriter David Hayter.
We can consider this episode, from an arc standpoint, to be the true end to the Earth-2 adventure, in which our heroes are forced to shed their baggage. The final few minutes of “King Shark” set the roadmap going forward, including Barry deciding that he’s not comfortable leaving Earth-2 under the thumb of Zoom. The same Zoom whose identity is revealed to us post-credits. I have to give credit to my good friends Joanna and Dave, co-hosts of The Thought Bubble. I believe they accurately predicted Zoom’s identity in their most recent episode. Earth-1 Jay Garrick makes sense. It complicates things. It’s not as fun as Zoom being Earth-2 Barry or John Wesley Shipp, but it will create some emotional carnage for a few characters later on in the season. Personally, I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.
One last stray observation: Did you catch the little exchange between Cisco and Diggle about Diggle’s helmet needing some improvement? As an Arrow fan, this made me audibly cheer to my own empty living room. That helmet is awful.
Christopher Campbell: The talk of this week’s two-parter is the musical number, and it sure was grand. And the best way to handle Peggy’s (Hayley Atwell) love triangle with Dr. Wilkes (Reggie Austin) and Agent Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), as a dream sequence interlude between episodes. Is there anyone not hoping she finally winds up with the latter, and he’s the mysterious husband the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to name? Even if he’s still not nice enough to SSR scientist Samberly (Matt Braunger)? Yes, last night, the MCU finally went musical again, as it should do more often given everyone’s love for the song and dance bit in Captain America: The First Avenger and the soundtrack’s significance to Guardians of the Galaxy.
But as a whole the super-size Agent Carter had all kinds of things going for it. There was a lot of action, of course, punches galore (including Peggy getting knocked out in her fantasy by Lesley Boone’s Rose), plus a gamma cannon thing and some double-crossings and double-double-crossings. And there was plenty of suspense given the eventual double-down of ticking time bombs (at least, that’s what Wilkes seemed to be, following his levitation into the floating zero matter in the desert). That’s lot of doubling by the way, fitting for the dual episodes and dual suitors and dual seasons (supposedly all we’re getting with this show). And I’d say the scenes in Manfredi’s (Ken Marino) restaurant are among the funniest we’ve seen from the series.
The best stuff, however, had to be the moments between Jarvis (James D’Arcy) and Ana (Lotte Verbeek). Particularly the first one with D’Arcy acting his heart out for the love of his ailing wife at her hospital bedside. Remember earlier in the season when I wished she wasn’t introduced because she seemed so unnecessary? Never mind, she was so very necessary. In fact, last night’s episodes pulled everything and everyone together so perfectly that I realize there’s never any use in me quickly judging a show and its seemingly too populous ensemble at the start of a season again. As if it shouldn’t already be obvious. Even Agent Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) was welcome this week.
After the way last week’s two-parter ended, I do wish there was more to the pairing of Wilkes and Whitney (Wynn Everett). I guess part of me wanted them to combine for some reason, or wind up more in opposition to each other, or turn into evil dogs or something (sorry, I couldn’t get over my Ghostbusters “gatekeeper”/”key master” reference from the previous recap). I feel the best their on screen union got us, and I admit it was a great exchange, is when Samberly is discussing Stark’s cannon’s potential and Peggy immediately says it could cure Wilkes while Jarvis immediately says it could kill Whitney. That’s where their minds were at the moment and showed an opposition between them as wonderfully right as their usual chemistry as a partnership.
We have one more episode, and as much as I’d miss Agent Carter, I’m thinking it’s moving towards a fine conclusion for the characters. Peggy and Jarvis are as perfect apart from each other as they were quickly perfect together at the start of the first season. And with Wilkes presumably blown up good, Peggy can and should wind up with Sousa. Not that she has to wind up with anyone, but I think she does want it and the MCU does need it to happen. Probably before events in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War. Could we possibly see an aged Gjokaj in the movie? Maybe in a photograph, as he has to be long dead. But that’d be enough.
Neil Miller: Here’s what you need to know about Brooklyn Nine-Nine from last night: Jason Mantzoukas (The League) stars as Adrian Pimento, a Nine-Nine detective who has just returned from being undercover for 12-years. It goes about as hilariously as you’d expect:
What did you watch last night?