Mid-season finales for a variety of genre shows have come, leaving us a lot to think about before the shows resume next year. With a hearty "Spoiler Warning Ahoy," let's dive in to three of the best thumb-suckers:
"THE WALKING DEAD"
This is the undead elephant in the room. For those who don't know, Carl Grimes is going to die.
In the episode "How It's Gotta Be," which aired Dec. 10, Grimes pulled up his shirt to reveal a walker bite. As all devout TWD fans know, that's the kiss of death.
"There's no way he can get back from that," Chandler Riggs, who has played Carl for more than 100 episodes, told The Hollywood Reporter. "His story is definitely coming to an end."
And it's not, as many surmised, because the 18-year-old actor is going to college. According to the THR interview, Carl is being offed for story reasons. The surprised Riggs is now planning a year off before college, to explore other acting opportunities.
In the meantime, comics fans are baffled. Carl is very much alive in print, where he is central to a couple of storylines barreling toward the TV show like truck plowing into the walls of The Sanctuary. Who will take Carl's place in those stories? Enid? Will we jump forward in time to let Judith become a teenage Carl stand-in? Or will those stories not even happen now?
And how will TV Rick Grimes react to the death of the person he's been fighting to protect for more than seven seasons? We know how comic-book Rick behaves after "All-Out War" with Negan. But this shockeroo takes the TV series into terra incognita.
There will be one more Carl episode. We'll see the timing and manner of his death when the series returns Feb. 11. But after that? Frankly, it's anyone's guess.
There were times in the first few seasons that it seemed odd that our hero, Jim Gordon, made so many mistakes and often became morally (and sometimes legally) compromised. But now, halfway through Season 4, it's obvious that this is a feature, not a bug.
When it comes to characterization, making mistakes is part of who Gordon is. He's idealistic, yes, but he tends to lead with his chin and think with his fists. That puts him in the soup a lot, a place where there are usually no good options. His life in Gotham is one, long, no-win scenario.
One of the things that keeps Gordon (and the audience) off balance are the seismic, unexpected shifts in power, and the terrific actors that bring them to life. That was ably demonstrated in the Dec. 7 mid-season finale.
This season began with Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) on top, but ended with The Penguin in jail for a murder that, oddly, he didn't commit. Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed), daughter of the former mafia don who used to rule the city, is now in charge of the mobs. Not only that, but she's got blackmail on Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to keep him in line.
It's really hard to imagine how Gordon gets out of this. And there's no cavalry on the horizon.
-- Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) has resigned from the GCPD.
-- Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) has become a disillusioned and cynical party animal, and thrown Alfred (Sean Pertwee) out on his ear.
-- Leslie Thompkins (Morena Baccarin) has become mob boss of The Narrows (a crime-ridden area of Gotham) in order to keep her free medical clinic open.
So much for the good guys.
Which is also part of the show's concept. What this years-long origin is establishing is that Gotham City is so corrupt and unfixable, it needs a Batman. More than that, it "deserves" a Batman.
And eventually it will get one, maybe even when "Gotham" returns in the spring. In the meantime, the show has been getting better every season, as Gotham gets stranger and Gordon's life gets worse.
"DC's LEGENDS OF TOMORROW"
Easily the weakest of The CW's "Arrowverse" shows, "Legends" has just gotten an upgrade. Firestorm is out (since actor Victor Garber is no longer available), replaced by the delightfully snarky Wentworth Miller as Citizen (not Captain) Cold.
Better yet, the final scenes of the Dec. 5 mid-season finale revealed cynical anti-hero John Constantine aboard the Waverider. Yes, it's the same character that had his own show on NBC a while back, and a couple of guest appearances on "Arrow," plus an animated series on CW Seed coming in 2018. All of which, including this go-round, with terrific actor Matt Ryan in the dirty trenchcoat.
Now, that's a Legend. Buckle up, kids, for a magical misery tour.
Recent episodes have given us a lot to talk about. The battle with Reign Dec. 4 was one of the best super-fights on TV yet. Alex's one-night stand in the Nov. 27-28 crossover was a delightful reward for putting up with her incredibly dull, albeit doomed, relationship with Maggie Sawyer. And J'onn J'onzz has a father now, named M'yrnn (pronounced Myron, of course).
All of which pales in comparison to the return of Mon-El -- now with a wife in tow named Imra Ardeen. That's exciting, Super-fans: It means the coming of the legendary Legion of Super-Heroes.
Yes, the 31st century super-group Mon-El described has existed in the comics since 1958, and has a large and rabid fan base. Among the many members of the Legion ("of superheroes," adds Winn helpfully) are Mon-El and the telepathic Saturn Girl -- Imra Ardeen to her friends. Sound familiar? And since those are just two of the cryo-sleepers on the ship from the future on the TV show, we can expect to see more Legionnaires.
But who? My first guess is Brainiac 5, a descendant of the legendary villain who has an ill-fated romance in the comics with a certain Kryptonian Girl of Steel. As for the rest of the sleepers, we have until Jan. 15, when the series returns, to guess.
(Contact Captain Comics at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more comics news, reviews and commentary, visit his website: comicsroundtable.com.)
(c)2017 Andrew A. Smith
Visit his website at comicsroundtable.com.)
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