Welcome back, TV lovers! In Doctor Who the Doctor went back to 1980 to try to figure out what exactly happened “Before the Flood.” On Once Upon a Time, Prince Charming finds a new bro in King Arthur in both the past and present. Meanwhile, Emma plots how to remove Excalibur from the stone. Jane the Virgin returns from its excruciatingly long hiatus, while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. welcomes back Jemma Simmons and The Mindy Project shows just what stay-at-home moms do all day. And both of the CW superhero dramas kick things into high gear as their sure-to-be season-long threats become even more menacing.
Doctor Who 9×04 “Before the Flood” (Caitlin)
The week between “Under the Lake” and “Before the Flood” seemed to stretch out forever; the cliffhanger at the end of last week’s episode definitely didn’t help. The Doctor calls Clara from the TARDIS after traveling back to 1980 to the village before it was flooded. She reveals his ghost showed up at the base soon after he left, and begs him to change the events. On the base, Cass realizes the Doctor’s ghost isn’t mouthing the same coordinates as the other ghosts, but rather their names. The Time Lord is ready to accept his fate, but will do everything in his power to save Clara, even if it means playing with the timeline.
We learn that the spaceship brought aboard the base last episode was really a hearse, and the alien ghost that terrorized the crew was a funeral director, transporting The Fisher King to Earth for burial. But the Doctor learns the hard way that the body wasn’t actually dead when The Fisher King kills the funeral director. In order to save Clara and the rest of the crew, the Time Lord must outsmart The Fisher King. Things come full circle as it’s revealed that the Doctor is responsible for flooding the village. He stole one of the craft’s power cells to blow up the dam, escaping in the suspended animation chamber that was brought aboard the base earlier.
Once Upon a Time 5×03, “Siege Perilous” (Brianna)
If the season continues on this pattern of well-constructed episodes, this may be the best year yet for Once Upon a Time! In flashbacks, David/Charming feels useless while the women in his family contemplate how to free Merlin. He jumps at the opportunity to track down a magical ingredient and King Arthur joins him on the quest. The two bond over their humble upbringings and claims to fame. Although the quest fails, Arthur inducts David as a Knight of the Round Table, giving him new purpose.
In the present, David’s frustration over the Emma situation causes him to doubt his skills as a leader. While tracking down a thief in the Camelot camp, David uncovers a clue to their missing memories: the same magical ingredient he lost. Meanwhile, Dark Emma realizes she needs a hero to pull Excalibur from the stone. She ambushes Killian with a magical re-creation of their first date and asks him to trust her. But it was all a clever ploy: Emma used him to get information on an object that touched Rumplestiltskin in his former life. She beat Belle to the punch and used it for a spell to wake Rumple from his coma. Now that he’s a blank slate, Emma will mold him into the hero she needs to snuff out the Light.
I can’t keep raving about Jennifer Morrison’s acting each week, so major props to Jane Espenson for writing this episode. Not only did we get an amazing red herring with Killian as the hero Emma needs, but the last two minutes of the episode gave the Rumbelle fans a rollercoaster of angst and hope. As I wrote earlier in the week, I adored the development David got in this episode. For too long he’s been the good buddy supporting every one else’s decisions, especially Snow’s. It was high time he did something for himself . It’s a pity his new friendship is going to come crashing down. King Arthur is not the benevolent man he appears to be: the once and future king blames our heroes for the loss of his kingdom, and plans to rebuild Camelot in Storybrooke.
Jane the Virgin 2×01, “Chapter Twenty-Three”
JANE IS BACK JANE IS BACK JANE IS BACK! Jane the Virgin has returned, and that means that all must be well in the world! Well, in the world of the viewers. In Jane’s world, things are still pretty insane. The big finale cliffhanger of Mateo’s kidnapping is dealt with rather quickly, with Rose only requiring a dragonfly broach (stolen by Luisa) in exchange for Mateo’s safe return. After that, the story mostly focused on Jane trying to adjust to motherhood and dealing with normal new-mom things like breastfeeding. In addition to, you know, trying to avoid the media’s attention to the Virgin Birth. Meanwhile, Rafael and Rogelio try to find their places in the Villanueva family. Michael, making me even more devoted to #teammichael than I thought possible, gives them both help as the resident Villanueva expert. Back at the Marbella, Petra remains…well, Petra, and decides to inseminate herself with Rafael’s last sperm sample. But more important than any plot developments is the fact that the show remains alternately snarky, warm, and thrilling, not to mention brilliantly acted. It’s like the most stunning five-course dinner you can imagine without even feeling guilty about the calorie count because it’s just THAT high quality.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3×03, “A Wanted (In)human”
This week, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the government track down Lincoln, Hunter tries to infiltrate HYDRA, and Jemma begins to deal with the trauma she underwent on an alien planet. Got it? Good. I’ll be completely honest, Agents of Shield has really been frustrating me this season. This week had established A, B, and C storylines, and they were decently-written, but that doesn’t matter given that I don’t care about any of them. Lincoln is completely flat and has NO chemistry with Skye, while Hunter only has any spark when he’s verbally sparring with Bobbi. And then there was May’s cringe-worthy line, where post-smackdown, she said “You can tell everyone that a tiny Asian woman beat you up.” I literally facepalmed. After two full seasons of May taking down villains of all shapes and sizes and walking away with nothing more than a smirk, the fact that the writer of this episode felt it was necessary at all demonstrates how the show has been floundering in its treatment of all of the characters. Granted, they did a good job handling Jemma’s PTSD. Fitz tried to remain gentle with her (lots of hand-holding, and we were given lots of quiet moments with Jemma just trying to adjust to life back on Earth, including things like taking a shower. Though I feel like they’re pushing FitzSimmons a bit farther than they should, they’re definitely making Jemma’s character development a priority. Seeing her interact with Skye and Bobbi was nice, too.
The Mindy Project 4×05, “Stay at Home MILF”
This week’s Mindy Project was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Let’s start with the good, being Mindy and Danny dealing with new gender roles as parents. The show, thankfully, reversed its position from last week of endorsing Mindy, someone who has always loved her job, letting herself be forced out of the clinic. Had Mindy always planned on being a stay-at-home mom, this would be no big deal, but that’s just not who she is. Mindy at first treats her new life as an excuse to basically not do anything all day (which makes Leo seem unnaturally low-maintenance for a newborn, but whatever I’ll let it slide), she later actually puts time and effort into being the “ideal” wife and mother. Danny then pushes the wrong buttons by implying that Mindy’s life is a constant vacation, and the two switch roles for a day. Danny ends up apologizing, and Mindy realizes how much she missed work. But in the end, all discussions of how to proceed are put on hold when Danny’s dad has a heart attack. Elsewhere, Morgan pretends to date the new lesbian nurse to appease her Southern brother, but then falls in love with her and it all ends up being the most dated and awkward lesbian/coming out story in the last twenty years of television. I love you Mindy, but just…NO.
The Flash 2×02, “Flash of Two Worlds” (Megan)
Jay Garrick, who appeared at the end of last week’s episode, is introduced as the Earth-2 Flash, and explains that the mysterious Zoom, as well as the metahumans coming after Barry on Zoom’s orders, came through from an alternate universe. One such metahuman, Sand Demon, captures the wannabe newest member of Joe’s metahuman task force, Patty Spivot, and Barry rescues her with Jay’s help. Cisco also starts experimenting with his strange abilities, and Dr. Stein can tell something is up, but collapses while he and Cisco are explaining that there are 52 breaches around the city, all going to alternate Earths. The final tease shows one of those alternate Earths with a living and walking Harrison Wells, which gave me a flashback to the days of those menacing Harrison Wells moments at the close of most of the first season’s episodes. This episode was very fun, and didn’t feel klunky or too narrative heavy to me. We also had the introduction of a new female character, and I’m excited to see how Officer Spivot ends up fitting into the Flash world. All in all, this episode left me much more excited for the upcoming season than the premiere – and that’s a good thing.
Arrow 4×02, “The Candidate” (Megan)
Jessica Danforth, a Queen family friend, decides to run for mayor and finds herself targeted by an anarchist working for Damien Darhk. As Thea continues to lose control, Oliver finally tells her about Malcolm’s warning about putting her in the Lazarus Pit, but it doesn’t stop Thea from almost killing the anarchist in their final confrontation. Laurel and Thea end the episode making the terrible decision to go to Nanda Parbat – and to take Sarah’s body with them. Felicity also has a fun side plot as she takes the reins at Palmer Technologies, and befriends Curtis Holt in an effort to save the struggling company without having to fire people. I’m far more excited for her storyline than the disaster that Laurel and Thea are pursuing.