This week we had the pleasure of finales for The Flash, Arrow and Agents of SHIELD amongst others. Most of these absolutely knocked it out of the park, leaving us begging for more. Some, on the other hand, fizzled out with not much more than a whimper (Read my thoughts on Arrow here on Out of Lives). Nonetheless, we did have a lot of great TV this week. Just the two shows to look at this week, as it is finale week! Take a look at my highlights below, and as always, beware, spoilers below!
The Flash, Season 2, Episode 23 – The Race of His Life
I have to take my cap off to The Flash. The whole show has been on point this season. Although it took the occasional mis-step (King Shark, I am looking at you), it has held up throughout. The show has held a consistently high standard throughout, ranging from writing through direction and performance. This is why I was so surprised with this finale. While the rest of the season has been a constant 8 or 9 out of 10, this episode has come along and landed a solid 11. It had everything we have come to respect Flash for. Heroics, imaginative fight scenes, suspension of disbelief, science jargon and some very real stakes. Adding in a romantic aspect which we haven’t seen for a while, makes this an amazing episode of The Flash.
Grant Gustin is a pleasure to watch. He owns the screen whenever he appears and can deliver some astonishing emotion when called upon. His desperate performance at the end of this episode is a quality that you very rarely see in a cult show of this type. Likewise, Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells delivers a great performance as a father just interested in keeping his daughter safe. Unfortunately, as with many ensemble shows, the high points serve to highlight the lows. At no point this season have I really felt threatened by Zoom. Teddy Sears tries his best, but the show has turned its tone away from that of the comics, preferring instead to explore family ties and the pains from that. As a result, Zoom was nothing more than a distraction to the real story of exploring Barry’s life. His actions towards Caitlin were completely out of character, just leaving me wondering what I was watching. Even when Zoom is at his most evil, Teddy Sears is far too much of a clean-cut guy to pull it off.
I have read a lot this season from others, remarking how similar season one and two are. This is highlighted even more by the finale, where Flash faces off against a Speedster (again) and gets involved with the Speed Force (again). I cannot be angry about this. The show does its own particular brand of jeopardy very well and although from the outside the story may seem like a rehash of old material, the difference are sufficient to make it feel fresh and exciting. The crux of this season was family, whether it was direct family like Harrison and Jessie, or family by similarities such as Barry and Jay. It was relieving to finally see the man in the mask, and the reveal added an extra component to the overarching storyline of the season. The closing minutes felt very real, and the season closed with the viewer wondering what the effect on next season will be for everyone involved.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Season 3, Episode 22, Ascension
For some reason, E4 decided to split up the two-part finale and aired the second leg this week. Fortunately, the episode was solid enough to hold its own. After the long-term tease of this week’s episode, the writers took great pleasure in welcoming us to “Follow the Cross Fest ’16”. As viewers anxiously followed the progress of the jacket and the cross throughout the episode like watching a game of Hot Potato, it quickly became clear that the production team were simply having fun with us. These games were further compounded with the “happiness” of Fitz and Simmons during the last episode. Don’t these characters know not to make plans for the future?! Their games, however, did not detract from an otherwise spectacular episode. The well-paced mixture of action, drama and emotion interspersed with moments of comedy made for a great episode to watch. The whole ensemble performed exceptionally well, bringing to life a great story.
Chloe Bennet managed to portray addiction in a disturbingly true to life manner. As a viewer, I could really feel desperation dripping from her every word, further accentuated by the wild mood swing when her dealer denied her. The way Chloe Bennet has “become” Daisy Johnson is remarkable. She is clearly extremely comfortable in her role, evident especially in the way she handled herself in the big fight of the episode. Angry, desperate and distraught, Bennet managed to own her character in a way we haven’t yet seen. We got to see her using her powers in more imaginative and more aggressive ways than before, something many fans have been screaming for ever since she emerged from the cocoon. Speaking of this scene, Daisy was up against Hive, played by Brett Dalton, who really stood up to scrutiny. Dalton is no stranger to action scenes, but as Hive, his entire demeanor is different, which stretches as far as his fighting style. A more reserved technique came forward, with Hive timing blows more carefully than Grant Ward ever did, waiting for the opening it needed. Not to mention the “superhero landing”, a well-executed manoeuvre which wouldn’t look out-of-place for Iron Man or Thor.
The emotional aspects of this episode were great and ran along the spine of the episode. Interactions between characters were well thought out, paced perfectly and hit the right notes to really hammer home the reality of the situation they were facing. Mac and Daisy started the ball rolling early on, bringing a tear to the eye. Their co-dependence throughout this season has been amazing. Daisy grounds Mac and lets him see the bigger picture, whereas Mac is a rock for Daisy, always there for support and guidance. Fitz and Simmons budding relationship seems constantly at risk throughout, keeping the viewer wondering if one of those will end up carrying the cross. The ultimate scene landed right at the end. Chloe Bennet was on top form throughout, but this scene really drove the nail in. The raw emotion in this scene was so great. Her character has been through so much over the last two seasons, and she is tired. Tired of everything ganging up against her and tired of losing friends and family. In this scene, you believed it. I challenge you not to get a little choked up when you watch it.
Then, in true Marvel form, came the post-credits sequence. With reveals-a-plenty in the space of a few moments, viewers have so much to look forward to. Agents going AWOL, changes in management and the introduction of a very special 3 letter acronym, we know that next season is going to be something special!
So that’s it, another week of TV over! We wave goodbye to some of our favourite shows for a few months, at the same time we are excited for what’s to come! Did I miss something? Am I wrong? Let me know in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook. Keep an eye on Out of Lives for upcoming news on new and returning shows for this summer – everyone needs their TV fix!