MURDOCH MYSTERIES – Season Finale Season 8, Episode 18 (Artful Detective) Well, that was certainly unexpected! Usually, season finale cliffhangers leave a character in mortal peril (although being accused of a capital crime could be considered such), or else someone has departed town for an unknown period of time. Having the comic relief character arrested for murder – that it seems he actually in all likelihood did commit – is quite different. There is little question of him being falsely accused. It gives the audience something to ponder over the summer! The primary mystery of the night turns out to be a Hunger Games-style betting ring, wherein an opportunistic bookmaker takes advantage of several people desperate for money and gives them the offer of $10,000.00 to be the individual who survives everyone else. As a result, Det. Murdoch and his colleagues are faced with several murders within a very short span of time, all of the victims seemingly unrelated at first, all of whom had their thumbs cut off or had dismembered thumbs on their persons, and all killed by different weapons and styles. Partway through the episode, just as Murdoch and the audience have caught on to the scheme, Murdoch finds himself also on the “game’s” kill list. However, he uses this to his advantage to apprehend the killer, or rather, the organizer, who somehow did not realise that conspiracy to commit murder is nearly the same as murder. All the while, Constable Crabtree goes about the investigation quietly and increasingly oddly. Early in the episode, he discovers that Edna’s returned husband has beaten her and her stepson for her “infidelity”. Later, Crabtree acts strangely and seems to a) know more than he lets on about the investigations and b) be saying his farewells to Murdoch and the others. He is not his usual, jolly self. It is also very clear that he is more than simply heartbroken over the loss of Edna. Rather than plead his innocence, all evidence points to his guilt of killing her husband. Did he? It remains to be seen. Somehow, I doubt that he is entirely guilty and heading to the gallows. I have the feeling that the status quo will be restored within a few episodes of next season. How that happens is what will be fun to watch. Crabtree’s arrest ends the season on a bittersweet and bewildering note. Murdoch and Dr. Ogden are relieved that Murdoch did not get killed in the game, but they cannot believe that their erstwhile jovial friend and colleague appears to have murdered a man in cold blood. They have no celebration, but are shown getting into bed in a daze, likely hoping that this has all been a dream. We will find out in the fall. ONCE UPON A TIME Season 4, Episode 16 (Best Laid Plans) & Episode 17 (Heart of Gold) Furthering the plot from before, the entire Charming clan is involved in the attempt to keep the Author out of the hands of the villains. However, at the episode’s end, everything seems very bleak indeed for all of the characters, heroes and villains alike. The Author is not at all benevolent; Rumpelstiltskin has Regina trapped; Emma no longer trusts her parents; Snow and Charming are beside themselves; and Maleficient has some closure to what happened to her daughter but, like the Charmings, has no way to recover the lost thirty years. While both brilliant episodes, it is my opinion that Best Laid Plans and Heart of Gold were paced and broken up incorrectly. The former episode revealed how the Charmings stole and corrupted Maleficient’s child (and what subsequently happened to her); revealed said secret to Emma; gave us a chase between Henry and the villains; and finally, released the Author to potentially wreak further havoc on the characters – as if they didn’t already have enough to deal with! The latter episode then backtracks from all of these plotlines to catch up with Robin Hood, give insight into Rumpelstiltskin’s motivations for returning to Storybrooke, and reveal that the Wicked Witch Zelena has been alive all along – disguised as Marian. With the exception of the framing device of having Rumpelstiltskin taunt and blackmail Regina after having knocked her out and hidden her in her vault, the events of Heart of Gold could have been shown prior to Best Laid Plans. At best, these episodes were out of order. On the other hand, the revelations of Zelena being alive (and Marian dead) was a certain surprise that caused viewers to react to all the previous plotlines in a new light. While interesting, the search for the Author itself seemed somewhat boring without necessary backstory. All in all, I would rather follow the story of Robin Hood, Regina, and Marian/Zelena than search for the Author and listen to Emma and Snow whine and snipe at each other. Thus I found this episode refreshing, but clearly my opinion was not shared by many. As shown in Heart of Gold, the Author is out of his element in Storybrooke. While I am curious as to why he chose to change and embellish tales to make a better story, his motives are quite self-explanatory. Like Rumpelstiltskin, the Author is a jerk who let power go to his head. The revelation that Zelena is still alive and that Marian is dead is not without controversy. Many viewers seem to consider it a cop-out or lazy writing, or too easily contrived to get Robin and Regina back together without leaving Marian out. I think that these viewers and reviewers are not paying enough attention! Zelena’s life essence was contained in her necklace. It escaped and sought out the portal to the past and went through it at the end of last season with Emma and Hook. As Zelena had no body at that point, she needed someone else to travel through to bring her anywhere. Essentially, she was a ghost. Once in the past, she followed Emma and Hook around, remaining incorporeal until the opportunity presented itself to take over Marian’s body, thanks to the latter woman having a magical necklace also. Zelena simply killed Marian and then reconstituted Marian’s body as her own. Upon her return to Storybrooke, Marian proceeded to be openly hostile to Regina – even moreso than expected. She was caught off-guard by the Snow Queen and her poisoned ice cream. Still using Marian’s body, no one was the wiser when she froze. Regina saved her by taking out her heart. It was not inconsistent with magic that Regina nor the Snow Queen recognised Zelena at this point. Physically, she was Marian at this point. After the spell broke, she caused the freezing spell to appear to reoccur (inexplicably!) so that Robing would do the honourable thing and take her away from the town. It all fits quite perfectly! Even if the writers had not intended this at the end of last season, it was clear that this was their intention by the fall. Zelena was too delicious of a character to dispose of so easily! As an aside about the Charmings (or, as Regina aptly calls them, the “Uncharmings”): like all good parents, Snow and David wanted what was best for their daughter. However, they saved her at the direct expense of another child – simply because said child was not their daughter. In an act much worse than switching babies at birth, they basically condemned Lily to evildom and loss, comparable to a hypothetical situation wherein one could transfer one’s own child’s genetic flaws into another child! Really, if they had decided to give Emma’s nearsightedness or Down syndrome to Lily without her or her mother’s consent, would we not find such an act to be despicable? (I cannot even think of a situation that would be ethical to transfer the genetic flaws of one child to another.) Yes, Snow and David learned from their mistake, but they do not need to prance about like victimized heroes and go about condemning others for their villainy. Nor did they have to keep their actions a shameful secret, as this only makes them worse. What made Emma more deserving than Lily? Snow assumed that Lily would be a dragon, not a human. This is no different than assuming that a child from a different ethnic background or less fortunate economic circumstances is inferior. As a viewer, I cannot help but want Lily to prove Snow wrong. Or at least give Snow a good slap in the face.
CASTLE Season 7, Episode 19 (Habeas Corpse)
This was a stereotypical Castle episode wherein we were presented with an interesting mystery to solve, but the intention was to entertain us more with the sideplot involving our main characters. Yes, we did wonder who killed the personal injury lawyer, whose demise proved to be unfortunate, but we really were more interested in the police talent competition. This episode gave Ryan & Esposito a chance to show off their dancing and singing skills (or at least their lip-synching skills – I was not sure which) and for Castle and Beckett to regale us with a sexy shadow shower number. Even the personal injury lawyers involved in the case seemed to be as much about entertainment and having a memorable gimmick as they were about arguing for and protecting the unfortunate! Much like in life, we were easily distracted by that which was sexy, funny, irrelevant, and entertaining. The dark side of news – murder, injury, competitive ruthlessness, and various other vagaries were swept aside. The competition between the police officers over singing and dancing seemed fun and innocent, but it could not be helped but be compared and contrasted to the deadly competition that the victim of the week was involved in. It is, after all, very easy to carry a gimmick too far. Castle is not often a serious crime drama. I would not expect it to break our hearts or make our blood race in suspense every week. This episode was good for a laugh, same with videos of cute kittens. Joy gets us through life. No one wants to be constantly reminded that we could easily find ourselves gravely injured or gunned down in an alley – least of all police officers themselves! It was nice to see the cops on the show relax and have fun. With all they see, they deserve it, fictional or otherwise.