Wayward Pines: Adding Burkes Changes The Equation

Courtesy of FOX
Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Beverly continues to bleed out onto the wooden rig she was executed on as a young girl leaves a single lily at her feet. Sheriff Pope continues to stump for the duty of all citizens to protect the town. The crowd recites the rules while he preaches. Ethan continues to follow the plan despite the hunting party on his trail.

Kate puts on a kettle for tea when Ethan appears out of the darkness of her kitchen. He tries again to appeal to the woman she was, but the ‘reckoning’ paralyzes her and keeps her from reacting with any semblance of humanity towards the execution she just sat through. In a brief moment of clarity, Kate moves in close. Admits that there is blood on her hands and that Ethan got the second chance that most don’t get. Then she hands him his tracking chip. Then the phone rings.

Ethan: You going to answer that?
Kate: They’re not calling for me.
Ethan: Last chance, come with me.
Kate: You’ll never get out of here alive.
Ethan: Watch me.

Ethan makes his way back to 604 Main St to find Beverly’s body handcuffed to the ceiling. He pulls her down and vows to find her daughter and convey how hard she tried to get back to her. Ethan makes his way back to Beverly’s house to find it completely empty. As in ready to show. Just then, a man walks in showing the property to a couple of workers. He stops short and instructs the workers to start upstairs. Ethan comes around the corner. The ‘realtor’ says quietly, “don’t say a word” then gestures to his right. Outside Ethan sees a delivery truck with Wyoming tags.

Theresa (Ethan’s wife) has had enough with the agency run around. Her and son Ben travel to Boise in the hopes of finding him. With or without Kate. At the Boise field office she tries to get somewhere with a secretary. At first she doesn’t get anywhere but appeals to her sense of revenge if her husband is with another woman. The secretary tries to find some information from her supervisor. Meanwhile Theresa hacks the computer using Ethan’s login. She finds the last item on his expense report then leaves.

They stop at the convenient store of his last purchase. The clerk not only recognizes Ethan from the picture, but also remembers that they were dressed like they were headed to a funeral. Then two kids that look like they belong in The Shining mention an accident near Wayward Pines.
Before then can get to Wayward Pines, Theresa is pulled over. By whom? You guessed it Sheriff Pope. As he approaches the vehicle he casually squirts out a stream of oil from a large syringe. He offers to give her a temporary fix. He instead cuts a line under the hood.

Ethan hides in the back of the delivery truck, unnoticed by the delivery guy. The vehicle eventually comes to a stop. Ethan cautiously gets out onto a very strange looking warehouse. Strangely clean. Strange in general. Another vehicle enters. He notices many dirty cars. He jumps in one that turns out to be Theresa’s car. Inside is a sealed bag that reads, “Burke, Theresa Effects”. Then Pope smashes the window and pulls Ethan out. Pope stabbed him with an injection of some kind, this time Ethan doesn’t make it 10 feet before Sheriff Pope says something curious.

Pope: I don’t know what they see in you.

Ethan wakes to a ringing phone. The voice tells him that his wife and son were just discharged from the hospital. Ethan leaves the room to find Nurse Pam. She informs him that they are probably at home. Suggesting that Ethan Burke has a home in Wayward Pines. One of the nicest properties just opened up last night.

And just like that, all three Burkes embrace in Beverly’s old kitchen. Theresa and Ben don’t remember anything. Then the realtor enters the room to welcome them home. The realtor leans in and mentions the ‘state of the art security system’. The phone rings and Ethan rips the cord from the wall. He asks wife and son to stay inside.

Ethan confronts Sheriff Pope. Breaks the rules in his presence and Pope insists that Ethan does not want to know what’s behind door number three. Then Ethan politely threatens to kill Pope if he comes close to his family again. Then there is an old fashioned testosterone standoff. The phone rings. Then Nurse Pam (ironically at the precinct) tells Pope to stand down. The nurse tells the sheriff to stand down.

Dr. Jenkins intercepts Ethan on his trudge back towards the house. Still more cryptic dialogue. “Everyone in this town is doing the best they can, including you”. Then gives Ethan the hard sell on accepting Wayward Pines as his home with his family. “Not everyone has that”.

Ben sees from an upstairs window Ethan sneak off into the brush with Kate. Then decides to follow. Ethan it seems, only wanted to see how much she knew in regards to Theresa and Ben being in town.

Around the time Theresa notices Ben’s absence, she also notices Sheriff Pope in the kitchen helping himself to their ice cream. The creepy factor that Terrence Howard brings is tangible. He then asks for an thank you. That he does not get. Then Theresa asks him to leave. He obliges, reluctantly.

In the woods, Kate opens up as she wouldn’t in town. The time that’s passed, Kate actually believes is different. Ben returns to inform on his dad to his mom. Which she absolutely seems to be buying. And why wouldn’t she. The vague details line up perfectly. Ethan returns to find her wedding ring. They two new Burkes attempt to walk out of Wayward Pines. Not knowing the rules when Sheriff Pope arrives signalling with his siren. Instead of stopping they hoof it.

They don’t get far. But they get far enough to find the wall. Ethan pursued on foot and tackled Pope before he could talk to Theresa. In the scuffle, Pope eventually gets upright before Ethan. He points his gun at Ethan. Then meets the business end of his own truck with Ben at the wheel. With Pope laid out on the ground Ethan approaches, gun pointed.

Pope: You think you want to know the truth, but you don’t. It’s worse than anything you can imagine.

The camera pulls back as Ethan discharges a round. He then grabs Pope’s keys and finds a keyless entry remote. By pushing a button part of the wall opens up large enough to drive a truck through. Just before they can drive, something pulled Pope’s body under the gate. With the appearance of the wall, I’d love to say it looked like a small dinosaur, but I’m not willing to make that claim yet. Ethan throws it in reverse and high tails it out of there.

Wayward Pines: Running Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Photo Courtesy Of Liane Hentscher/FOX
Photo Courtesy Of Liane Hentscher/FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

If you thought you were confused after the first episode of the FOX Network’s miniseries “Wayward Pines,” you’re likely feeling just as lost after chapter two. Just like the story’s protagonist Ethan Burke, we’re still figuring out the lay of the land in Wayward Pines, Idaho, a seemingly sinister town, where they enforce the rules quite strictly. The veneer that they present to the world, cracks like an eggshell under close inspection. The town that the Chamber Of Commerce promotes as a paradise, is far from idyllic, its citizens terrified to do anything that would get them into trouble.

There have been many comparisons between this series and “Twin Peaks,” created by David Lynch and Mark Frost in the early nineties, as well as with “Lost.” While Wayward Pines contains elements of both shows, it also harkens back to an ITV series in the late sixties, entitled “The Prisoner.” Patrick McGoohan, portrayed a British Intelligence Agent, that angrily resigned his position and prepared for a new life. As he was packing his clothes in his apartment, he became overcome by gas and passed out. When he awoke, he found himself in a seaside resort community, referred to only as The Village. People were referred to by numbers rather than names and just like in Wayward Pines, escape seemed impossible.

The Prisoner had the same way of blurring fantasy with reality, that we’ve witnessed so far in this series. We’re aware of the fragile mental state of Ethan, that he experienced a series of hallucinations on his job as a Secret Service Agent. He’d been seeing a psychiatrist from the Bureau, before heading to Boise to try to find fellow agents Bill Evans and Kate Hewson and that was before he got into a head-on collision with a sixteen-wheeled truck.

This installment opens up seconds after last week’s episode, as Sheriff Pope has Burke stand up against a truck as he frisks him. Burke asks the sheriff to move his gun and he strikes him with it, sending Ethan sprawling to the ground. He tells Pope he just struck a Federal Agent and the sheriff replies that Burke’s grandmother’s Mary Poppins. He says Ethan has no ID or badge and the people he spoke with in the Seattle Secret Service office, are unaware of him.

Pope take Burke back to town and tells him to stay in his hotel room. He’s up all night, lying in bed with his eyes open when the alarm clock rings. He heads to the front desk and when nobody’s there he goes behind the counter and tries to access the computer. The hotel manager Tim Bell, informs him they don’t have a working computer at the hotel. When Ethan asks for a newspaper, Bell says the Wayward Pines Chronicle hasn’t printed an issue in a couple of weeks.

He heads to the old house that Bill Evans’ body’s in, chained to a bed. He breaks in through the back, then has to cover his mouth to avoid gagging from the smell of the decomposing corpse. He fights off the flies to check out something in Evans’ boot, but he hides it when Pope walks in with a shotgun. Ethan asks when will forensics arrive and Pope tells him they’re coming from Boise and they’ll arrive in a few hours. He tells Burke to go back to the hotel and leave Evans’ body to the professionals.

Ethan goes to visit Beverly at the bar, to find out more information on how Evans got killed. She turns up the music and tells him to dance with her, she then whispers in his ear that the barstools have microphones underneath them. She tells him they had planned to escape together, but then he wigged out and went on his own. She said Bill had a plan, that he wrote in a notebook. Ethan says he saw it and will get it later that day.

Burke leaves the bar and heads to the local coffee shop, where he first tries to call his wife Theresa, but gets her voicemail once again. He then calls the Seattle office of the Secret Service and asks to speak to Adam Hassler and he’s told he’s not available. He asks the woman on the other end if she’s Marcy and she responds she is and she says she delivered his last message to Mr. Hassler. He then asks her if she’s sitting at the reception desk on the seventh floor of the Secret Service building and she says she is indeed. Burke tells her there is no reception desk on the seventh floor, then asks who she is and she hangs up.

Ruby the barista tells Burke his coffee’s ready, he pulls the 20 dollar bill that Beverly just gave to him and starts inspecting it. Ruby takes the bill from his hand and says he gives that to her and she gives him his coffee, plus his change. Ethan says she must know just about everybody in town and Ruby says that she knows everything about them as well.

He asks her where he can find Kate Hewson and Rudy looks a little scared and almost as if she’s going to cry. She says she doesn’t know who she is, how could that be possible? At that point I thought to myself, that she seemed almost computer-like, perplexed that it can’t obtain a certain piece of data. Burke then calls her by her “married name,” Kate Balinger and she smiles again. She says she’s been coming in for years and she’s very nice, she works over at the toy shop.

Ethan walks to the store and sees Kate through the window and he flashes back to their affair. He then enters the store and Kate asks what she owes this pleasure to? He asks Kate what happened to Bill and she responds that Bill’s wife’s taking his death badly, she’s barely left the house since he died. He says that Bill wasn’t married and she says that she’s great with the garden, that she lives in the light brown house with the pink flowers out front.

Harold Balinger comes out of the backroom and Kate formally introduces them to each other. Balinger says he’d love to chat, but they’re up against a big order they have to fill and says so-long. He heads back to his workshop and she says she needs to go help him. Burke puts some wooden ducks on the counter and says he wants to buy them, he gives her a ten and she gives him back some bills in his change. He says that all the money in the town’s counterfeit, that the seal on the bill’s look like high-school kids made them.

He’s about to leave the store when he sees an official notice from the town of Wayward Pines:

Do Not Try To Leave.

Do Not Talk About The Past.

Do Not Discuss Your Life Before.

Always Answer The Phone If It Rings.

Work Hard And Be Happy

And Enjoy Your Life In Wayward Pines.

Burke heads to the house that Kate described, he rings the bell and a blonde-haired woman answers the door. He asks if she’s Mrs. Evans and when she confirms that she is, he introduces himself and says he worked with her husband in the Secret Service. She looks at him as if he was insane and says that Bill cut lawns for a living, he asks her how long they were married for and she says a year. A baby starts to cry and she says she has to excuse herself, Burke says he’s trying to figure out how Bill got killed and she says he killed himself in front of her, then shuts the door on Ethan.

He heads to Pope’s office and his secretary Arlene, once again gives Burke a hard time. Pope comes out to Arlene’s desk with another ice-cream cone. Pope says he heard that Ethan went to see the grieving widow Patricia Evans, Burke responds that she told him that Bill killed himself. Pope says that’s up to the coroner to determine, that Evans’ corpse is at the morgue and he tells Burke to stay away from the morgue.

Theresa Burke calls Adam Hassler at the Secret Service office and tells him her life’s at a standstill while they try to determine what happened to her husband. She says with the Bureau keeping the case under wraps, the public can’t aide in the search for Ethan. She asks Hassler if her husband’s with Kate Hewson and Hassler tells her definitively no. She then asks if he went to Boise and Hassler remains silent.

Burke of course heads to the morgue, where he finds Evans’ corpse in one of the compartments they store dead bodies in. He then sees Evans’ clothes on a metal table and he finds the notebook, which he doesn’t find suspicious in the least. It never occurred to Burke, that a town like Wayward Pines, would have fallen apart long before, if they were that sloppy. He’s about to leave when he runs into Nurse Pam, who asks if he’s back for his operation. She then asks if he’s spoken to his wife, then says she bets he’s going to bang her hard when he gets home.

He walks away in silence then sees two orderlies pushing gurneys, one with his wife Theresa strapped to it, the other one holding his son Ben. He calls their names and runs after them but they vanish into thin air. He searches all the rooms and he runs into Dr. Jenkins, portrayed by Toby Jones. Jones has made a career of playing strange little men, including author Truman Capote in Infamous and Dr. Armin Zola in the Captain America movies. Jenkins belongs near the top of his creepy character list.

The doctor appears truly relieved to see Burke, who tells him he just saw his wife and son wheeled in on two gurneys. Jenkins tells him that there are no patients in the hospital now, Ethan says he knows he saw his wife and son and Jenkins says he believes he saw them. He tells Burke that he’s suffering from internal bleeding in his skull and without surgery, the hallucinations will get more frequent and intense. Ethan asks to see his chart and Jenkins says he’ll get it right away.

Nurse Pam arrives at that moment and Jenkins instructs her to get Burke’s chart and prep for surgery, however what ever trust Ethan had in Jenkins, vanished when the nurse walked in. He pushes his way past the both of them, while Jenkins calls out after him that he really needs the surgery.

He meets Beverly in this cement structure, which she says she believes blocks the town from tracking them. She tells he needs to get rid of his micro-chip, which they put in his shin. She tries cutting it out, but she’s all thumbs and he ends up extracting it himself. She tells him to keep it in his back pocket, until they’re ready to escape. He asks exactly how did Evans get killed and Beverly tells him that Pope slit his neck in front of the whole town.

He then asks her if she told him she arrived in 1999 and had been there for just a year and she confirms she told him that. He tells her he just arrived from the year 2014. He asks her whose the President and she responds Clinton. He asks her if she’s ever heard of Obama, or 9/11 and she stands there blank-faced. He then asks her when she was born and she says 1960, he tells her she looks great for being 54-years-old. We’re aware there’s some fluctuation in time in Wayward Pines, Kate told Burke in the first episode that they hadn’t seen each other in 12-years, while Ethan told her they saw each other five weeks before. Does the town speed up time for some, while slowing it to a crawl for others?

They look at a map that was in with the rest of the papers he found with Evans’ clothes. They decide they’ll escape the following evening. As Ethan walks Beverly home, then bump into Harold and Kate Balinger and Kate invites them over for dinner the following evening and they accept. They part ways and Beverly tells Ethan that Kate intimidates her and she really doesn’t want to have dinner with them. Burke however says it will fit into their plan.

Theresa Burke’s at home with another woman on her couch as they watch TV, suddenly Theresa says she’s going to Boise. She says Ethan’s either dead or he’s abandoned his family and if it’s the latter, she’ll kill him herself. The other woman asks if she can help and Theresa says she can watch Ben, however he insists on accompanying his mother to search for his dad.

Arlene and Nurse Pam are at the bar complaining about Ethan Burke, when Arlene says that Beverly and Burke seem to be spending lots of time together. Pam asks if Beverly’s finally ready to settle down with one guy and the bartender says he’s married and he misses his wife terribly. Arlene then says so you’ve talked with him, she responds that’s her job as a bartender to talk to the customers. Pam asks if she’s talked about the past and Beverly says not ever.

Burke follows the map to a tree, then climbs it and finds a knapsack hidden in the branches. He hears gun fire and looks about 500-yards away to see Pope hunting with his back turned to Ethan, Burke just shakes his head and climbs down from the tree.

He hides the knapsack in the graveyard, behind one of the unmarked headstones. He then goes to pick up Beverly and tells her she has a nice house, she says she hopes she never sees it again. She then tells Ethan she’s terrified going to Kate and Harold’s for dinner, she says she truly doesn’t trust Kate. Ethan says he doesn’t trust her either, but he’s planned everything out. When they finish dinner, he’ll use their bathroom and check for microphones, when he’s sure the room’s clear, he’ll come back to the table and a few minutes later she’ll go in. When she’s in there she’s to hide her microchip somewhere they won’t find it. Then they’ll leave and head to the cemetery to pick up the knapsack.

They’re having dinner and talking about Harold’s woodcarving. Kate says that rocking-horses are his specialty and at that point, Ethan excuse himself to use the bathroom. He searches the room thoroughly, finding no microphones, then heads back to the table. Just before he returns, Beverly starts nervously talking and says she has a daughter in Portland, that has a rocking-horse.

Ethan sits down and Kate says she didn’t realize Beverly had a daughter and asks what’s her name. Beverly just sits there and then excuses herself and runs to the bathroom. She hides her microchip, but she looks like she’s ready to jump out of her skin. She leaves the bathroom, then runs from the house. Burke goes to check on her and comes back saying she’s outside, she has a bad upset stomach and he’s going to walk her home. Harold and Kate say goodnight and as soon as Ethan leaves he asks if Kate thinks they’re going to run and she replies absolutely.

Burke catches up to her and asks her what happened, she says she told them she has a daughter, she’s a terrible liar and they saw right through her. She says she has a four-year-old daughter living with her mother, she says to Ethan if she doesn’t make it out she has to contact them. Burke tells her not to talk like that.

Suddenly every phone in every home in the town starts ringing, she says that’s it the same thing happened just before they caught and killed Evans. He tells her to head for the cemetery and he’ll play the decoy, he says get home to your daughter. In an instant every door starts to open and all the residents give chase, Ethan waits until they spot him, then he takes off.

Beverly doesn’t get far until she gets caught and she’s dragged by two men into the town square, her feet dragging on the dirt road the entire way. Burke hides in a house and hears somebody enter and he grabs a fork as a weapon, his assailant has a baseball bat, but Ethan gets the better of him and stabs the guy. He then hears a crowd outside the window, he peeks out to see a platform set up in the middle of the square. Pope’s standing there waiting as the two men drag her up to the platform, then they handcuff her hands over her head.

Pope then thanks Harold and Kate for alerting him to the situation, he says that he can’t run this town without everybody’s cooperation. He then says this woman talked about the past and tried to escape, the penalty for the crimes is death and he takes a long blade and slits her throat open. Many of the women watching scream and gasp, Kate winces a little but remains silent. Burke remains in hiding in the house.

The last scene shows us Theresa and Ben Burke on the highway, they take the I-84 exit to Idaho, in their search to find Ethan.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night at 9:00 pm on FOX.

Supernatural: Lest The Darkness Be Set Free

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW
Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Well , here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten us into! Sam and Dean went from the frying pan into the fire, in the season finale of season ten for The CW series “Supernatural.” Throughout its history, the show has concluded the season on a grand scale, leaving the fans excited with cliff-hanger endings. This episode continued in that tradition, as “THE BOYS,” unleashed a force, that could forever alter the planet. There’s also the matter of our favorite trench-coat wearing Angel, being guided by a spell cast by the newly freed Rowena, a situation that doesn’t look promising for her son.

Our first image is the final e-mail Charlie Bradbury sent to Sam, containing the key to deciphering the codex, we also see pictures of Dean as a tyke with their mom. Castiel arrives and Sam informs him that he left a dozen voice-mail messages for Dean, without receiving a response. He tells Cas that they need to get Rowena to find the spell to break The Mark Of Cain’s hold over Dean immediately.

Dean’s in Superior, Nebraska, and he spent the previous night passed out on the cheaply carpeted floor of some motel. He gets up off the floor, looks at his phone which shows that he received 12-messages from his brother. He picks up an open beer-bottle, takes a couple of slugs from it, then tells himself he’s good.

Sam and Castiel go to where Sammy’s got Rowena imprisoned and he pulls out a pistol, that he says contains five bullets, containing some witch-killing toxin. Rowena laughs off the threat, saying Sam needs her if he has any hopes of saving his brother. She negotiates a new deal, she’ll rid Dean of the Mark, in exchange for her guaranteed freedom and she keeps the codex.

Dean shows up a crime scene, in his FBI garb. A young teenage girl’s body lies on the grass, her throat ripped open. Dean’s diplomacy skills have vanished, he says to the sheriff the girl’s dressed like a slut. The sheriff, an older man says he couldn’t care if she was the Whore Of Babylon, all he sees is somebody’s little girl.

The sheriff starts to walk off and we hear him say to somebody else that his partner’s a hard man. It’s Rudy, a hunter we’ve encountered only through phone conversations, previously. This was his case and he called up Dean for assistance, but Winchester tells Rudy, he’s handling the case solo. Rudy starts to give him a hard time, but then quickly backs off and leaves. The sheriff tells Dean, another girl’s missing, he’s going to talk to the parents and suggests Dean stay away.

Rowena deciphers the spell from the Book Of The Damned, saying she needs three ingredients. A piece of the forbidden fruit, that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden, the remains of the Golden Calf that people worshiped in lieu of God. She says the third ingredient’s impossible, she needs to kill somebody she loves, alas she love nobody. Castiel reads her mind and sees an eight-year old Polish boy named Oscar, she says he lived three-hundred years ago.

Dean goes to interview the dead girl’s parents, and he asks Mr. and Mrs. McKinley if their daughter had any new friends that they were aware of. He then says that their daughter was out to have sex with whom ever she was meeting, he asks if she had a boyfriend, or this was just a fling? The father asks Dean if he’s implying his daughter had loose morals? Winchester responds, that was his initial mindset, until he smelled all the deceit, beatings and cruelty in their house. The father hits Dean twice in the face, then Winchester pulls out his pistol and asks who killed your daughter Joe? Both parents start weeping as Joe says he doesn’t know.

Their teenage son runs after Dean and tells him the other girl Crystal’s fine and he knows the guys who killed his sister. They said they were rehabbing a cabin, but the kid says he thinks they just wanted a place to drink and have girls come over. He says he didn’t tell the police this, because he brought the girls up there the first time.

Sam gets a call from Rudy, telling him Dean’s acting really strange and he gives Sammy the location. Sam asks Cas to help Rowena with the spell while he’s gone, Castiel asks about the repercussions caused by removing the Mark? Sammy says that nobody knows what will happen. They can’t worry about the unknown and the Angel agrees. When Sam leaves, Cas summons Crowley, asking for his help in breaking the spell. After Castiel reveals the needed ingredients, Crowley tells him he’s in.

Dean heads to the cabin, the two killers are vampires and Dean cuts off the first one’s head. He enters the cabin, to see Crystal tied to the bed post, while the other vamp has a knife pressed against Rudy’s neck. The vamp tells Dean to leave, or his buddy dies, but Dean says he won’t kill him. Rudy begs for Dean to leave, but Dean spooks the other vamp instead and he puts the knife into Rudy. Winchester cuts the head off the second vampire and frees Crystal, who screams at Dean that he could have saved Rudy, if he had talked things out. Dean says you’re welcome and leaves the cabin.

Dean goes back to his motel room and starts washing the blood off his hands, he looks in the mirror and sees Castiel’s face all bloodied, as it was after Dean beat him up. He looks down at his hands again and when he looks up this time he sees Rudy’s terrified face, staring back at him. He breaks the mirror, then trashes the entire motel room, doing a job that Keith Moon, would’ve been proud of.

Dean goes to an abandoned Mexican restaurant, creating a feast fit for a king, then he sets up a table with a pentagram on it and summons someone. Another familiar face arrives, as Death answers the call and starts trying the Mexican food. I’ve always enjoyed Julian Richings’ portrayal of the dour faced character, he infuses Death with a certain nobility. The first time we met the character, he gave Dean his ring freely in order to imprison Lucifer, whom he said had given death a bad name.

Dean shows him the Mark Of Cain and he says that he’s tried to control it, but he can’t and Death is his last option. The member of the Four Horseman says he never expected to see the day, when Dean Winchester would lay his king down on the chess table. He says he can’t kill him, that it’s the Original Sin. The bearer can’t die, Dean asks him if he can remove it. Death says he could, but the cost would be far too great. He then tells Winchester the story behind the Mark.

Before the light, before God and the Arch-Angels was the Darkness, a terribly destructive Amoral force. God and the Arch-Angels, fought a war against the Darkness and won, God locked the Darkness away and created a symbol. The symbol was the Mark, actually a lock and key for keeping the Darkness contained and he gave the Mark to his most trusted lieutenant, Lucifer.

Soon after they realized that the Mark itself was a curse, it corrupted Lucifer and made him jealous of humans. God banished his favorite son to Hell. Lucifer gave the Mark to Cain, who in turn gave it to Dean. Winchester now holds the Darkness in its prison, if the Mark vanishes the Darkness will get released. Dean has two choices, the first being give the Mark to someone else. Winchester says he wouldn’t do that to anybody. Death then asks him what if he could take Dean to a place far away, not even on this planet, where Dean could live out his days without harming anyone or himself?

We’re back at the diner that Crowley visited two episodes ago, the one where he spoke with Seth, the burger-flipper who learned to brew coffee in Ecuador. Seth turns his back to the customers and he hears a crash, he turns around to find all the patrons and the waitress dead, with Crowley standing there smiling. He tells Seth that he has a story to tell him.

He sits down at the counter and he tells the man that about 300-years-ago a terrible witch was driven from her village, abandoning her only son in the process. A Polish family took pity on the sick and injured witch and nursed her back to health. She grew to love the family’s eight-year-old son Oscar, but he suffered from a fatal disease that would take his life shortly. Before she left, the witch thanked the family with two gifts, curing the boy and when he reached maturity, he’d become immortal. Seth is that boy, still looking like he’s in his early twenties, 300-years later.

Sam arrives at the cabin, he sees Crystal sitting in the ambulance, she just keeps repeating he wouldn’t even talk. Sam walks inside the cabin and sees Rudy’s body along with the two decapitated vampires. Sheriff tells him, that one of his guys came in hot, refused to talk and cost his partner his life in the process. Sam drives away and starts searching the area’s motels for the Chevy. He sees it and goes in to Dean’s room and sees what his brother did.

Sam’s phone rings and it’s Dean, he says he going out and he wants to say goodbye to Sammy one last time. Dean tells his brother to grab a pencil and gives him the address of the restaurant. Sam begs him not to do anything stupid, that he’s on his way.

Sam arrives at the restaurant and he knows it’s bad when he sees that his brother’s guest is Death. Sam tells Dean he can’t give up his life, his brother tells him that it’s Sam whose going to die. Death tells Sammy that he’s going to transport Dean to a place where he can’t harm anyone. However, Sam won’t rest until he frees Dean and rids his brother of the Mark. He has to die for the greater good. Sam says it doesn’t make sense, Dean screams at him it makes perfect sense and Sam has to stop thinking of himself.

Crowley arrives with the ingredients needed to cast the spell. He reveals that the forbidden fruit was a quince, not an apple. He says that he got the remains of the melted calf in Jordan and if he returns there, they might cut off his head. He then calls out for Oscar and Rowena’s eyes fill with tears, as she spits out to her son, that this is low even for him.

Dean tells his brother that evil seeks them out, that they think they help others, but look what’s happened to their friends and family. Dean says he finally realized that he’s truly evil when he let Rudy die and that Sam’s evil too, bullying Charlie to get involved in breaking the curse, which cost Charlie, her life. With logic failing him, Sam resorts to violence hitting Dean smack in the face. His brother says good, a fight and they start trading blows.

Rowena says to Oscar she can’t believe how big he grew and then asks him to come over and give him a hug. He embraces her and says he hopes he hasn’t done anything to hurt her. She tells him of course not, everything’s fine. She says nobody’s going to get hurt today, then slice’s his neck open, she gets enough blood for the formula then lets his dead body fall to the ground.

Sam stays on his feet for a while, but Dean’s far too powerful, Sam ends up on the floor saying he gives. He then tells his brother that nobody will ever convince him that Dean’s evil but he has to be stopped. If this is the only way to do it so be it. Death hands the scythe to Dean and says for him to do the honors, Winchester tells Sammy to close his eyes.

However Sam pulls out the pictures of Dean and their mom from earlier in the show. He says if you ever want to find your way back to good, maybe these will help and puts them on the floor. Dean gets a bit choked up and says he’s sorry then raises the scythe, but he stabs Death with it. We see Death standing perfectly still, with the scythe poking out of his side, then he crumbles like dirt to the floor.

The potion complete, Rowena invokes the spell. The blast from it knocks all three of them off their feet, as we watch a bolt of light leap from the bowl through the ceiling. Seconds later, the light strikes Dean’s arm and removes the Mark. Sam says this is a good thing, gives Dean the keys to Baby and suggest they split.

The three recover from the blast and Rowena’s now free of her chains and freezes Castiel and Crowley in their tracks. Crowley says this is impossible, that she’s not that powerful. Rowena laughs at her son and says he’s never experienced a really great witch with really great magic. She leaves, but casts another spell on Castiel, blood starts dripping from the Angel’s eyes as he tries to kill Crowley.

Outside the restaurant, lighting starts hitting the ground all around them, then a series of black swirling clouds rise up from under the earth. They gather together forming a mushroom cloud that soon fills the sky. Dean and Sam get into the Chevy, but the wheels spin aimlessly as the cars stuck in mud. Suddenly the cloud starts moving straight for them, engulfing them as the screen goes black.

The Flash: Everything That’s Happened Has Lead To This

Courtesy of The CW
Courtesy of The CW

Warning: Spoiler Alert

“And one day I’ll find who killed my mother and get justice for my father…that day, is today”. Barry takes a walk to visit Mr. Eobard Thawne since knowing what he knows now. Barry begins with a simple question with Thawne answers but shuffles off to the big question, why did he kill Nora Allen?

Barry: Why did you kill my mother?
Thawne: Because I hate you. Not you now, you years from now.
Barry: In the future?
Thawne: Any future, yes. We are enemies, rivals, opposites, reverses of one another.
Barry: Why are we enemies?
Thawne: It doesn’t matter. It…doesn’t…matter anymore.
(I’m going to believe that it matters very much)

Thawne, amidst their battles and rivalry discovered future Barry’s real name. Here’s the easy part. Thawne could go back in time and kill young Barry, then return to his time and live Flash free. Only problem is, as we saw weeks ago, Thawne lost the ability to reach the kind of speed that would get him back to his time. Future Barry followed Thawne back and they had an epic fight. Then future Barry got young Barry out of the house. This infuriated Thawne so the next best thing was to cause young Barry to feel a loss so significant that he would never recover and thus, never become The Flash.

The only way to get home was The Flash. However, as previously mentioned, the events laid out that night would prevent Barry Allen from growing up to become The Flash. So Thawne had to make him. Finding Barry, training Barry, nurturing his power, was all a self-serving attempt to use Barry to get home. Thawne needed Barry to get fast. The endgame being, if Barry gets fast enough he could travel through a stable worm hole allowing Thawne to follow. Why do this? Because if Barry does, then Thawne will give Barry what he wants. For that night to have never happened. No slain mother, no imprisoned father, no living with Joe and Iris. Everything goes back and Barry gets to grow up the way he was supposed to.

Barry lashes out slamming his fist on the glass. “I want to kill you right now”. This rage is a familiar feeling to Thawne. It’s the same feeling he’s had playing the nurturer to Barry all this time. Then Thawne says he can see what Joe and Henry see in Barry when they look upon him. Pride with love. Pretty much the exact wrong thing to tell Barry right now.

After a breakdown of the consequences of Barry going back and undoing Thawne’s handiwork, Joe decides with little hesitation that Barry must do this. Even if it means that everything they know, they are and they experienced along the way will have never happened. Henry on the other hand is not on board in any way. In Henry’s mind, everything has to happen for a reason. Nora’s death, Henry’s incarceration, Barry living with Joe and Iris, all contributes to the end result that is adult Barry Allen being specifically the man he is. Very powerful performance from Grant Gustin and John Wesley Shipp by the way.

At Star Labs Caitlin checks out Ronnie’s vitals. He is controlling his powers much better now. Caitlin tells Ronnie how much Barry appreciates him coming back to help. That’s when Ronnie drops the proverbial anvil on Caitlin’s head. Ronnie is back, for good. And back before the particle accelerator, Caitlin agreed to marry Ronnie. So that’s happening.

Iris finds Barry at her favorite thinking time rooftop. The decision is a massive one with uncertain implications. Iris even references the “Iris West-Allen” thing. Barry quickly mentions that her name change and their eventual life as husband and wife isn’t assured either. During a long embrace, Barry flat-out asks Iris for her opinion. He needs someone to tell him what to do, ironic as Joe and Henry both told him what to do.

Iris: I think for the first time in your life, you should stop thinking about other people. I think you should do what’s in your heart. Do what you need to do for yourself.

The ‘plan’ is for Barry to use the particle accelerator. Instead of smashing two particles at each other, they will only send one. Which will collide with Barry and create a wormhole that will connect this time will all other times. If Barry doesn’t reach the optimal speed at the point of impact, Barry will die. To make matters worse, Cisco now has to build a time machine (of Thawne’s specs) so that Thawne can return to his time.

Cisco and Ronnie notice a major flaw in the design. Tungsten at these speeds will become flammable. Cisco heads down to talk to “Dr. Evil”. After a moment, Thawne has a solution. Cisco takes that information and attempts to leave. Thawne tries to appeal to Cisco’s scientific mind when he is interrupted by Cisco’s “is that what you told yourself when you killed me?”

Thawne immediately apologizes. Not for killing Cisco but for the mere fact that Cisco can retain information gained from an alternate timeline. This means Cisco was affected by the particle accelerator. Cisco is a meta-human on some level. Thawne seems to believe that Cisco is about to become so much more than he is now.

Dr. Stein takes great joy in explaining to Eddie that he, not Barry or anyone else is the most interesting person in the mix. He is the only one who gets to choose his future, regardless of what Thawne told him. Then Stein finds an omission of catastrophic implications. Last line of that says that there is a chance this event could create a black hole. A potential extinction level event. Thawne has been planning this a couple of decades. He has considered the risk, and to him the risk is minimal.

Barry walks off and Joe follows. This time Joe is not unwaveringly in support of the plan, but still in support of it. Even if this all works and Barry can run fast enough, the end result is that he will save one parent at the expense of another. He could get Henry and Nora back, but if he does he will all but certainly lose Joe.

After Dr. Stein’s talk with Eddie, he decides to speak to Iris. Eddie is the coincidence and therefore, a number of coincidences lead to Eddie meeting and getting romantic with Iris.

Meanwhile Dr. Stein and Ronnie talk about what or how the kids say or don’t say, it doesn’t matter. Dr. Stein doesn’t want himself and Ronnie to fight on their wedding day. Stein skips over the typical wedding ceremony stuff and dives right into his experience with two lives merging as one.

Barry stands in the corridor saying his goodbyes and good lucks. Over the P.A. system Stein reminds Barry that he has only 1 minute and 52 seconds to save his mother and get back in order to close the wormhole before it transitions into a black hole.

As Barry pushes through Mach 2, he begins to see all of this memories at once. With Thawne in his ear, Barry has to visualize the day in question. The coffee in Stein’s mug levitating is the cue to send the hydrogen particle. And just like that, Barry was gone and wormhole in his place.

Barry arrives in his room during the fight. He ventures down to find future Flash looking back at him shaking his head as if to say no. As it was before future Flash takes young Barry out of there. He closes the door and turns his back on the mission. This is agonizing for Barry to sit through. When it ends, Barry goes out to console his dying mother.

Nora asks who he is. At first, he calls himself The Flash, then he removes his mask. Nora says he looks just like her father. He reveals that he is indeed the man her son grows up to be. He turns this entire mission on its ear. He came back to tell her that he’s alright. He and his Dad are alright. He creates closure to an otherwise unexplainable situation and Nora receives it graciously.

Thawne prepares arrogantly to board his time bubble machine when something flies through the wormhole. My knowledge of early Flash is sketchy at best, but I’m pretty sure the object in question is the helmet from the earliest incarnation of The Flash, worn by Jay Garrick but don’t quote me on that one. Thawne takes one look at it and decides this is his cue to leave. Reveling in the moment too long, Barry comes flying back in taking out the pod and Thawne in it.

The wormhole is becoming unstable, so what better thing to do during this moment of peak importance, than to engage in a speedster vs speedster fist fight. Once again, Thawne gains the upper hand. He starts going to town on Barry’s midsection when the other Thawne (Eddie) decides what his contribution will be. The first line of Stein’s speech to Eddie earlier in the episode was, “Maybe you just haven’t found your contribution yet”. I think he just found it. Eddie was the ‘coincidence’ as Stein put it. Then Eddie turned his on gun barrel pressed into his chest and pulled the trigger.

Joe runs toward Eddie screaming “what’d you do”? Eddie responds with, “there’s no such thing as a coincidence” a notion shared by just about every detective in every precinct in the country. Based on the established timeline (if I have this right) Eddie Thawne is somehow Eobard’s great great great great grandfather. If Eddie dies, at this age, then Eobard will cease to exist. Iris arrives just as Eobard sheds his Harrison Wells meat suit. He will die in her arms as the hero.

Eddie (to Iris): I was wrong. It turns out I’m the hero after all.

Eobard Thawne/Harrison Wells vaporizes out of existence. Just then a floating hole begins to inhale the matter around it. Including Eddie Thawne. In seconds, a massive singularity begins to form over Central City. I hope you’re sitting down, I imagine this is the part of the story when the aspiring hero is faced with an impossible task and becomes the hero he’s supposed to be.

Barry races up a skyscraper and with the requisite speed is able to run in circles opposite to the singularity. Roll credits on Season 1.

The Following: I Don’t Get To Be Happy Max

Photo Courtesy Of FOX
Photo Courtesy Of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The FOX network announced a couple of weeks ago, that this would be the final season for their series “The Following,” a decision that the network may have reached a season too late. However, the show deserves recognition, for concluding it’s run with two rather exciting episodes, complete with a surprising ending. Although the ending was far from happy, it may have been the most fitting conclusion for this series, that revolved around a protagonist, who lived life constantly on the edge.

The use of the word protagonist, instead of hero to describe FBI Agent Ryan Hardy’s intentional, as Hardy might have worked on the right side of the law, but viewers learned long ago, that it’s vengeance that drove Ryan Hardy. Beginning with his forcing the junkie that killed his father, to overdose on heroin as he sat and watched, Hardy had as much of a need to kill others, as the worst serial killers he hunted. However, even working for the Bureau, Ryan played hard and fast with the law. He was never afraid to bend, or even break the rules, when he found it necessary.

The previous episode concluded with Mark Gray, stabbing FBI Agent Mike Weston multiple times in the back, then he attacked Weston’s girlfriend Max Hardy. Weston however stayed conscious long enough, to fire off several rounds into Gray’s chest, killing the final member of the family of psychopaths. This episode opens with the ambulance carrying Mike arriving at the hospital. Ryan meets his niece Max at the emergency room and tries to comfort her.

Daisy’s sitting alone in Theo’s SUV, listening to a radio report about Weston and Gray, the reporter announces that Mark died during the scuffle. We realize that the car’s parked in the woods and we see Theo, about 50-yards away on his knees, with a pistol pressed to his temple. We then watch his face morph, from despair to that steely coldness we’ve witnessed before. He looks up to see Daisy, he says he has a plan and if all works out, she have her freedom the following day.

Gwen arrives at the Emergency room to stay with Max, Ryan thanks her for coming then asks to talk to her privately. He tells her he went to an AA meeting the night before, she smiles and says she’s happy for him, but it’s going to take more than one meeting, to convince her he’s changed. He then says he’s leaving the Bureau, after they catch Theo, she says she hopes for the baby, that it comes to fruition.

Theo and Daisy head to Eliza’s office, the former Strauss student who’s made a deal with Theo. He kills Hardy and Eliza supply he and Penny with new untraceable identities. Noble kills the three guards and tells Eliza to have the two who are on their way to stand down. He says he needs two men from her that are handy with guns, to help him take down Hardy. Eliza gives him the two men in her office.

Ryan heads back to the Bureau office and Lisa Campbell asks him why he’s there? Hardy responds unless she’s suspending him, he’s working the case. She says she tried to get him suspended, but Donovan overruled her, saying Hardy was their best chance of catching Theo. Hardy says that it’s time to turn up the heat.

Hardy and Campbell hold a press conference, showing multiple photographs of Theo and Daisy, asking the public to come forward with any information. The Bureau’s phone lines get flooded with calls, but none of the tips prove to be credible leads, as they’re all far from the area, the pair are traveling in.

The doctor treating Mike comes out to talk to Max and Gwen. He tells Max that the next 12-hours are critical for Weston. She starts crying as soon as he walks away, telling Gwen that he saved her life and she just sat there. Gwen tells her that this isn’t her fault. She then says tough as it is for you Hardy’s to believe, there are some things out of your control. She tells Max to go home and get some rest, but instead she heads to the Bureau office.

Max follows up a tip that Max and Daisy were spotted in Eliza’s office building. She and Ryan show up, just as Eliza’s  leaving for the day, but she lets them into the office. She says she recognizes Theo and Daisy from the news, but she’d faint if she saw them up close. She tells Hardy, the place belongs to her boss, whose out-of-town on business. She says she just comes by to water the plants and bring in the mail. She asks Hardy for a business card, says she’ll call if she sees anything suspicious.

A graphic tells us we’re in Hudson Valley, it’s the safe house for former FBI Agent Gina Valdez, her wife Dawn and Gina’s two toddlers. There are two agents stationed in an SUV, right near the front door, but then we see Theo standing in the woods. The two agents are quickly killed and the two men that Eliza lent him, pose as the agents. Gina’s putting the kids upstairs for a nap, when she suddenly hears a crash on the first floor, she puts her son and daughter in the panic room and tells them not to open the door unless she tells them to. She locks them in and punches a code on the keypad.

She goes downstairs after grabbing a pistol, she finds Dawn strapped to a chair, soon Daisy and Theo have her strapped to another chair. Noble calls Hardy’s cellphone and has Gina tell him she thinks she found some clues that could help them catch Theo. Hardy realizes it’s a setup and he gathers about a dozen agents to help take Theo and Daisy out.

Theo get’s a call from Eliza saying that he either brings her Hardy alive, or the deal’s off. She thinks that Hardy’s onto what her organization does. Theo hangs up and comes close to losing it, then threatens Dawn and Gina, telling them he’s in charge of their lives, nobody else is.

About a quarter-mile away from Gina’s home, Ryan’s telling his fellow agents that he needs to go in alone, or else Theo will kill Gina’s family. He tells them to give him exactly ten minutes, then to come in with guns high. He drives to the house, the two fake agents come out of the car to greet Hardy, but one tries to take Hardy out. Ryan gets that operative to kill his partner, then he leads the fake agent and Theo on a chase through the woods.

Gina and Dawn get free and beat Daisy to the panic room. Just then the other agents arrive, they quickly kill the fake agent and start chasing after Theo. Max kills Daisy, we watch her try to get up, then her eyes gloss over. Theo finds a female agent alone in a car, smashes the window, shoots her in the shoulder and steals the car. Hardy finds her a few minutes later, as he tries calling for an ambulance Theo knocks him out from behind.

Ryan comes to in the trunk of a car, Theo transported Hardy and the female agent to some grimy cave complete with cells. He sticks them both in one, then padlocks the door. Ryan attempts to keep the woman’s spirit’s up, asking if she’s got people to live for. She says she has her fiancée and her father.

Max gets a call from Gwen, saying that Mike’s suffered a setback, his fever’s spiked and he’s back in surgery. Max rushes to the hospital and Gwen tells her that they found a nick in Weston’s colon and he’s got the best doctors in the world. He makes it through surgery and his fever’s dropped, she asks if she can see him and the doctor says he’ll get him cleaned up and then she can visit with him. She then tells Gwen, she held off in telling her hoping the situation would change, but Ryan’s missing. She says the entire Bureau’s looking for him.

Theo gets another call from Eliza, asking if he’s captured Hardy and Noble tells her he has. However he tells her he’s going to keep him. That the deal he made was when Penny was still alive, now he just wants vengeance and he’s going to torture Hardy before he kills him.

Theo then slits the throat of the female agent in front of Ryan. Suddenly the tunnel’s filled with gunmen, it seems that Eliza’s got a mole in the Bureau, who put a tracker on Hardy before he went to Gina’s house. Theo says that if she kills him, then her organization will get exposed, as he has planted a link to news organizations around the planet. He says only he knows the code to disarm it, she gets one of he henchmen to try to get Theo to talk with high voltage power cables.

She then sits Hardy down and asks him who he told about visiting her and what she knows about her organization. Hardy however is truly clueless about her and says who ever her mole is, should have told her that. She says that’s what she was told, but she doesn’t believe it.

She then pulls a copy of Gwen’s sonograms out of her purse and threatens to kill Gwen and their child, if he doesn’t talk. However just then, he breaks the band holding his hands behind his back. He then proceeds to take out all four of Eliza’s gunmen. Eliza escapes, while Theo cuts the bonds on his feet. He’s about to go after Hardy, when he finds the sonograms. Hardy tries chasing him but he runs out of bullets. Theo tells him he’s going to kidnap Gwen, then raise Hardy’s baby the way he got raised, abused and neglected.

Turns out that Lisa Campbell’s Eliza’s mole and the two women meet in the woods. Eliza tells Campbell her new mission’s killing Hardy, Campbell asks her how she expects her to pull that off? Eliza tells Campbell, that’s her problem, but everything they gave her, as well as her body will disappear if she fails. Campbell starts to head back to her vehicle, when Theo grabs her from behind. He tells her she’s working for him now.

Max and Ryan find each other in the woods and they drive to Ryan’s apartment, where Gwen’s staying. He calls the two agents guarding Gwen and tell them Theo’s on his way, to call for backup and keep her safe. Before the agent can call for backup, Lisa calls him and says Hardy’s being held by Theo. They’re going to transfer Gwen to another location.

The agents bring Gwen down to the basement to evacuate her from the building, when they get startled by Campbell. They ask where her backup is and Theo says he’s her backup, then shoots all three agents and kidnaps Gwen. He tells her to be careful, so as not to disturb the little one.

Ryan and Max show up minutes later, Lisa’s okay. She just got shot in shoulder and she tells them Theo jumped them as they tried to transfer her. She says she has no idea where Theo took Gwen, Hardy calls for an ambulance for Campbell. Then Max heads back to the Bureau office to scour traffic feeds, while Hardy pilots a chopper, to try to track them down.

Max and Ryan have Theo’s car in sight, but Noble drives off the road when he realizes there’s an FBI roadblock up ahead. Max loses him, but Ryan sees his headlights and lands the chopper just as Theo hits a dead-end. Theo takes Gwen out of the car, onto a bridge that’s suspended over a massive waterfall. Ryan chases them up there, but Theo puts his gun against Gwen’s temple.

He tells Hardy that even if the agent kills Theo, he’ll still kill Gwen first. He tells Ryan his only choice is to lower his gun and walk away. Hardy finally says that Theo’s right and he lowers his gun. Theo relaxes and takes a step back from Gwen and Ryan shoots him in the head.

Ryan and Gwen embrace and ask each other if they’re okay. Suddenly Theo gets up and rushes at Hardy, they both fall over the bridge’s railing. Gwen screams, then looks below and sees Ryan’s holding onto a net with one hand. His grip starts to loosen, he looks at Gwen, tells her he loves her and falls into the churning water below.

Back at the hospital, Mike’s out of the woods and has regained consciousness. Max comes in and tells him that Ryan’s gone. We then hear a news report, saying there’s very little hope that Hardy survived the fall and it may be weeks before his body’s recovered.

Gwen walks into the room and she and Max embrace. Max tells her that Ryan told her about the baby, when they came to rescue her. Gwen says she’s not sure she can do it by herself, Mike says you’re going to have to. Suddenly we see someone enter the hospital and turn the other way when he sees police officers. We watch the man in a sweatshirt walk into a patient’s room and put his hand over Lisa Campbell’s mouth. It’s Ryan, who then tells her he knows what she is and who she works for. She cost two agents and him his life, he says his family needs to think he’s dead. He then says he’s going after Eliza and asks Campbell for everything she knows.

When he finishes questioning her, we hear the sound of her monitor, signaling she’s flat-lined as he leaves the room. He then sees the room with Max, Mike and Gwen and he stops in his tracks, it seems like he’s going to go in there. However he just walks by and leaves the hospital. Ryan Hardy’s going on a new mission, this time though he’s on his own.

Mad Men: Seriously, Guys, Who Is Don Draper?

Don Draper finale
Photo Courtesy of AMC Network

Warning: Spoiler Alert

NOTE: Assuming that Mad Men answered its definitive question in its final episode, the previously-intended headline was “Who Don Draper Is.”  And while the conclusion definitely provided a strong hint, it was not a definitive statement.

Out of all of the trademark shows of TV’s New Golden Era, Mad Men may be the most unlikely.  Sure, it’s wrapped in the glamorous coating of the advertising business at the time when it was becoming truly ascendant in modern society and it covers one of the three or four most divisive/colorful/consequential decades in American history, but at heart it’s about the existential journey of one troubled man.  That’s unlikely territory for a pop culture phenomenon.

The question “Who is Don Draper?” from an episode near the midpoint of the series (actually, the opening line of Season 4) has always been right near the surface and the answer has seemed, at times, frustratingly inconsistent.  He’s a man who cares about maintaining a marriage to Betty – and later Megan – until he doesn’t.  He’s a man who, although softer than Betty, keeps an emotional distance from his children – missing birthday parties and confessing to Megan about the children evoking numbness instead of love from him – until he realizes that he loves them (although he continues to make grave mistakes).  He’s a man who values his standing as one of the most respected creative minds on Madison Avenue – until he doesn’t, throwing away his career more than once.  And he’s a man who maintains good relationships in his professional orbit – until he doesn’t, disappointing others with bursts of selfishness, ego and unilateralism.

Just as the other show that helped put AMC on the map for prestige dramas (Breaking Bad) did, Mad Men preceded its series finale with a marathon that lasted several days, taking viewers through the journey of Don Draper and the world around him one last time.  For Breaking Bad, the marathon served to remind everyone of the signature moments in the transformation of Walter White into Heisenberg.  While it might have highlighted some moments that would prove significant in the end, viewing the marathon didn’t serve much of a purpose beyond entertainment, because the stakes were clear and there was little of a revelatory nature in this re-airing.

But the chance to revisit Mad Men in this format actually proved useful in terms of tracing the journey that Matthew Weiner intended the viewers to witness.  Dick Whitman was wearing the skin of another man, the “real Don Draper,” peddling the alternate reality of high-level advertising.  His quest for authenticity in his life has been omnipresent, even when it seemed otherwise.  The writing of Don may have seemed inconsistent in terms of his happiness when solving his problems (many of them self-created), but the lesson learned when approaching the finale with a revisiting of the full history is that previously, Don was never to be believed when he professed joy at turning a certain corner.  Even on the rare occasions when he was attacking a single root cause – such as the trauma in his childhood in the whorehouse at the end of Season 6 – by not stripping his life down to the core and re-examining everything from there, he was papering over the other issues that shaped him so profoundly.  From this perspective, it seemed clear that Don’s search for real life answers was incongruent with a life in advertising, which taught him that the secret to success was cynicism.  Think back to the pilot, when Don boasted “What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.”  Surely, Don was never going to find his elusive authenticity in that business – or so we’ve thought.  Your perspective on that issue alone will be enough to shape your interpretation of the finale’s conclusion.

As such, Don’s extended road trip through the stretch run of the show almost seems inevitable in retrospect considering his previous experiences.  He had to get out of that Greater New York bubble, away from all friends and family, to learn about what direction his life should take.

Rarely does a finale benefit from the showrunner ruling out a certain path, but Weiner stating last week that Don does not become DB Cooper is one such instance.  Sure, creating an iconic television series that ends with the lead character shockingly becoming America’s most mysterious legendary criminal would be very clever.  But it would really betray the soul of the show, especially in the aftermath of the death sentence that Betty received from her doctor.  While Don’s children seemed to be doing just fine without him before he left, circumstances have changed in a way that would render his desertion – the second one of huge magnitude in his life – as the furthest note possible from a feel-good ending.

Let’s put a pin in the subject of Don, however, since Weiner made the fan-pleasing decision to feature a large part of his cast in the finale, even characters that could have plausibly been considered to already have closure.  For example, Ken pops up at lunch with Joan to try to recruit her to help him obtain better-quality industrial films for Dow.  Before you know it, old Joanie’s looking at coming out of retirement to start a small production company and she tries to bring Peggy on board as a partner and the chief writer.  While Peggy – a bit frustrated with some matters at McCann already – considers the offer, the show’s signature redhead deals with the two older men in her life.  Roger, who has decided to marry crazy Marie after a wicked fight, wants to put Kevin in his will and Joan accepts after some consideration.  And adventurous retiree Richard (who shared a toot with her near the top of the episode) is none-too-pleased with Joan being tied down to New York by her new company and he dumps her.  Peggy declines the job, but for all of the turmoil involved in the situation, Joan seems to be doing just fine in the end.

For Peggy, a number of factors play into her staying at McCann.  A departing Pete tells her that he is certain that she’ll be the creative director at the mammoth company by 1980 (which she considers to be a long way off!) and Stan wonders if the allure of becoming her own boss rather than accumulating power in the big firm might be based on ego.  This leads to a vicious fight between them and the wounds are still fresh when she talks to Rizzo coming off of Don’s “goodbye” call from California – much more about that below.  When she apologizes for her earlier tirade and indicates that she’s staying, a relieved Stan comes clean with the reality that he is in love with her.  Peggy is stunned, but as she talks through her feelings, she realizes that she feels the same way.  Keep in mind that this entire conversation is taking place over the phone in the office and they aren’t in the same room until Stan comes down to her office and they kiss at the end of the scene.

Back to Don, who never physically appears back in New York during the episode, although his final moments surely tell the tale of where he lands.  At the outset, on the surface, he’s living the free and easy life of a “retiree” from the ad business (as the 45-year old man laughably calls himself), testing rocket cars in the desert and consorting with women of ill repute, but it’s clear that he remains enmeshed in a downward spiral.  It’s interesting that his road trip had been previously pointing in the direction of him re-embracing his Whitmanesque qualities, but the boozing and womanizing point more in the direction of his Draper life – with the accompanying self-hatred that underlies all of his breakdowns.

During a phone conversation with Sally, she predictably informs him of Betty’s fate and he resolves to come home and take full custody of the children upon her passing, but her disagreement and another phone call with Betty convinces him otherwise.  Her final wishes, she informs him, involve her brother and sister-in-law handling the primary raising of the children with Don continuing in a secondary role.  He is crushed, but understands her point of view.  Meanwhile, his children are having to grow up faster than he wanted, with Sally deferring her European trip and Bobby telling her that he’s overheard everything about Betty’s grim news.

Still grasping for some authentic connection in his life, Don looks up Anna Draper’s niece Stephanie.  She takes him to some kind of hippie self-help commune/seminar series, where she admits to her lack of interest in reclaiming her baby from his grandparents.  This creates much emotion in the room and when Don later tries to comfort her, she throws his role-playing as “Don Draper” back in his face.  She’s right, he’s not really her uncle, but he cares nonetheless and he is shaken that his advice about putting the matter behind her – previously delivered to Peggy on the exact same subject with much greater effectiveness – is so effortlessly rejected by her.  When she has vanished the next morning – leaving him stranded in a remote area without a ride – the reality of his present circumstances bears down on him with full force.  First his young daughter Sally and now screwed-up Stephanie are seemingly showing more of a grasp on adulthood than he ever has.  This is absolute rock bottom.

Feeling resigned to his fate, he calls Peggy to apologize for not saying goodbye when he left and to try to achieve some closure with her.  She starts by chewing him out for running away again, scaring people as he is wont to do (and, although she doesn’t mention it, costing poor Meredith her job without having Don to employ her anymore – although perhaps that development proves reversible in the end).  Don states that he has a lot more to feel badly about than that, confessing to having screwed up everything in life, including stealing a man’s identity and making nothing of the chance.  He declares that he’s not the man that she thinks that he is.  Peggy is puzzled by many of these statements, although troubled by Don’s state of mind and she tells him that it’s not too late to turn everything around.  Even his job can be salvaged, as apparently McCann has forgiven worse than this.  Don doesn’t want to delve further into matters, having completed his mission of trying to make good with his star protégé and he ends the conversation.  Seeing his pain, a woman asks him to accompany her to one of the remaining seminars.

In the final segment, amidst a montage of wider final developments – Pete and Trudy getting on a Learjet, Joan answering a new work phone line at home, Roger and Marie cavorting on what appears to be their honeymoon, Betty smoking (!!!) morosely at home as she waits for the cancer to finish her and Stan approaching Peggy in the office to kiss her – Don remains at the commune and he is moved by the words of Leonard, a man living an average existence and feeling invisible to and isolated from all who are around him.  In short, this man is the exact opposite of the Don Draper who has commanded every room for seven seasons, but they are bonded in that moment by the pain of their self-induced loneliness.  A crying Don embraces the man as we are left to wonder what it all means in the final moments of the final show.

The build to the finish of the program was one of the stranger ones for any epic show on television, because leaving Don amidst the self-help folks at the very end would have been a conclusion even stranger and more random than the legendary Sopranos one that Weiner helped to craft.  [Side note: the nature of the self-help hippie gaga that Don was immersed in is actually more commonly associated with the mid-‘70s than 1970 itself, but California is usually ahead of most trends, so it’s possible that the setting was not unrealistic.]  The final scene of Don shows him as part of a group meditation doing the “Ommmmmmmmmmm” chant along with everyone else, but the tiniest, barest hint of a Cheshire grin grips his face … as the final scene pops up, the iconic “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” ad from 1971.  Of course, that campaign was created by none other than McCann Erickson!

So the crystal-clear inference is that Don Draper, having spent the past three episodes fully marinating in the juices of his inner Dick Whitman, found a way to get back into the good graces of McCann while presumably maintaining his rediscovered true values.  With the real-life McCann having been responsible for other big-time successes in the 1970s, such as the previously-teased Miller Lite launch, the stage has long been set for this fictional character to be assumed responsible for so many huge productions yet to come.  And yet, his cross-country wanderings in the endgame seemed certain to preclude this course.

Still, the ending was enigmatic, but that word is practically a signature for the Weiner style.  Because the last few episodes had been spent establishing the advertising business as antithetical to the authenticity that Don needed so desperately, the Coke campaign could have been crafted by the mind of a man who backslid into his old patterns and would spend the 1970s and beyond as the same inconsistent presence to those around him that he always had been.  Perhaps Weiner himself will feel compelled to shed additional light on his vision – which his Sopranos boss David Chase has always been loath to do about his final fade-to-black – but until then, the bet in this corner is that Don was meant to be seen as someone who had finally figured out how to balance being a great creative presence with his very human Dick Whitman qualities.  Otherwise, if he merely figured out how to leverage the pain of Leonard and others who shared his suffering into big money through a phony “togetherness” ad campaign, then he is revealed as a truly repugnant person.

Additionally, and this won’t necessarily go down as one of the bigger swerves of the finale, McCann Erickson proved to be a more durable home for the old Sterling Cooper crew than previously anticipated with Don almost certainly rejoining old partners Roger and Ted, as well as Harry, Stan and the sticking-around Peggy.  Nevertheless, the impetus of Sterling Cooper being swallowed up – as well as Betty’s shocking health news – drove the action of the last half of the half-season in grand style.  It’s difficult to compare Mad Men’s ride on an apples-to-apples basis with those of a more transparent nature, such as Justified, Breaking Bad or The Shield.  Every one of those shows was barreling down a pretty clear path.  Don’s story could have ended in so many different ways without Weiner seeming to have betrayed his vision.  In the end, the path he chose was a satisfying one that seemed to leave everyone involved with a logical start to their “post-show canon” lives.  More so than most of the aforementioned programs, you’re left with a sense of wanting to know the alternative ideas that were batted around, because it’s possible that some of them could have been better (although it’s probable that many would have been worse).  But in the end, this final episode worked and any praise beyond that would be superfluous.  Good job, Matthew Weiner.


Daredevil: The Vigilante Becomes A Symbol

Photo Courtesy Of Netflix
Photo Courtesy Of Netflix

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Father Lantom presides over Ben Urich’s funeral. Matt and Karen are present, but oddly enough, Foggy is not. Ellison even shows to pay his respects. Karen makes her way over to Doris to fall on the sword. She wants to take the blame for Ben’s death. Doris is glad to meet her. Ben spoke of her glowingly. He admired her relentless pursuit of the truth. Doris even said that if they had children, Ben would have wanted one like Karen. Karen feels guilty and wants to take responsibility but Doris isn’t buying what she’s shoveling.

Doris: Ben Urich never got pushed into doing anything he didn’t want to. (Doris reaches for Karen’s hand) He was a reporter. That’s what he lived for. (With tears in her eyes) And he passed doing what he loved. What he HAD TO DO. It was very nice meeting you Karen.

Matt and Karen return to the office. Despite the conversation with Doris, Karen still feels responsible. Compound that with the notion that Ben is dead because he visited Fisk’s mother. As did Karen. Also, there’s the whole issue of killing James Wesley, all resulting in not wanting to go home. Matt reassures her that he will keep her safe. And punish everyone who ever aided Fisk along with taking Fisk down himself.

Vanessa wakes up in Fisk’s home and finds him looking over financial numbers. Wesley put them together before he died and there is a discrepancy. The money set aside was to get Vanessa out of the country. She won’t leave without him and he is not ‘asking’. He’s decided to move the money back. As I’ve mentioned before, this is where Vanessa becomes Mrs. Bad Guy.

Fisk meets with Leland at another undisclosed location. Leland updates him on whose been paid off, zoning issues dealt with and the need to replace the funds from Madame Gao’s heroin trade. Fisk changes the subject on Gao and presents Leland with a form. A financial irregularity. At first, Leland plays the part. Moving money at the frequency he does, is bound to look off. Fisk gives him the opposite of the puppy dog face. Head tilted but serious. The when the jig is up, Leland comes clean.

Fisk: Your hand’s shaking.
Leland: That’s because it’s freezing out here.
Fisk: Then why are you sweating Leland?
Leland: Alright. Ok. Jesus. I thought you’d find out sooner or later. What’s a guy gonna do?

Fisk pokes to see if Leland killed Wesley. Then when that doesn’t seem likely, he moves over to Leland and Gao plotting against him. Potentially to kill him. Leland becomes more direct. He admits that the poisoning at the benefit was not meant for him. Telling Fisk they meant to kill Vanessa is about 1/2 a millimeter more acceptable than coming after his mother. This is the part where Leland thinks he can just talk his way to taking half of Fisk’s assets as if Fisk would let him walk away.

Leland believes hiding Detective Hoffman is enough of a disincentive. It’s cute really. If Leland doesn’t check in with Hoffman once every 24 hours, Hoffman goes to the feds. Here’s some juicy irony. The actor that plays Leland also played a character named Warden Norton in a celebrated movie called The Shawshank Redemption. For those few who haven’t seen it, Norton convinces a banker wrongfully accused to launder money in and out of the prison. That convict eventually steals most of his money and gets away. Leland believes that Hoffman + moving half of Fisk’s money offshore = a clean getaway. But like in The Shawshank Redemption, I have a feeling Bob Gunton’s character is about to get what’s coming to him.

After laying out his plan, Leland expected Fisk to accept losing half and letting the man responsible for almost killing Vanessa walk. Fisk didn’t see it that way. Leland tazed Fisk, but that really only made him more angry. This wasn’t even about the money. Fisk was never going to let the person go that tried to take Vanessa out. So Fisk took Leland out. Shoving him off the floor of the building they were standing on.

Matt hits a heavy bag hard and with emotion when Foggy walks into Jack Murdock’s old gym. Matt notices him and slows down for a moment. Then he continues as Foggy points out that maybe he has some anger issues to talk out. To which Matt replies, “You’re not my priest Foggy, a man you could’ve met if you showed up to Ben’s funeral”. Foggy’s excuse for missing the funeral was to pick up documents that Marcy has been copying ‘on the quiet’ from Landman and Zach implicating what Fisk has been doing. Instead of being pleased, Matt is anything but. Matt feels he needs to be the one to end this, so that no one else gets hurt.

Foggy: The last time you went after Fisk I found you half dead. More than half. You go after him in the mask again he might kill you. Or you might kill him, which might have the same effect on someone as Catholic as you.
Matt: What am I supposed to do? How do I stop him?
Foggy: By using the law. Like you told me and Karen to do. That’s how we take him down.
Matt (quietly and slowly): We…? Thought Nelson and Murdock were over?
Foggy: There’s nothing I want more than to get back to where we were, but I don’t know if we can.
Matt: No. We can’t. But maybe we can find a way to move forward, Foggy.

And just like that, Nelson and Murdock are at least working together again. While talking to Mahoney outside, Matt overhears one of the other cops walking past talking about finding Hoffman at Fisk’s behest and that Leland is somehow connected. Back at the office, their typical banter returns and Karen could not be happier to have all three of them talking again. The funny part though, is that Karen is the only one at the table still outside the loop. Which allows Foggy to drop little shots at Matt right in front of her. “It’ll show that the Man in the Mask isn’t the a*****e everybody thinks he is.”

They slip up mentioning a connection to Leland. Karen asks how they knew. Insert any situation in TV or film you’ve ever seen where two people try to tell the same story and completely mess it up in a comedic fashion. Painfully funny. Karen discovers something odd. Landman and Zach liquidated one property but no money changed hands. Matt gets up to leave and Foggy confronts him.

Matt: I know how you feel about what I do, but this is where law meets reality.

Fisk gets a call and order that there be no survivors. A guy walks through an alley. Inside the barren building are two feds with Hoffman sitting at a folding table. Before Hoffman can grab his meatball sub from the kid, two cops break in and open fire. They take everyone out except Hoffman. Both cops point their guns at Hoffman. Hoffman closes his eyes. There is sound of gunfire but nothing finds Hoffman. He opens his eyes in time to see the man in the mask go full on Tekken on his cop colleague.

Without a word, Matt pulls out a folding chair. Matt gives him the option of turning States Evidence on Fisk. Or wait to be killed. Fisk owns the cops, but he doesn’t own Mahoney and Mahoney knows a few lawyers who can’t be bought. Hoffman refuses. Matt tosses the card table and punches Hoffman in the face. I’ll follow you to make sure you get to the precinct safe.

Matt and Foggy bookend Hoffman across from the D.A. and staff. Matt informs the D.A. that their client will waive immunity based on the notion that he deeply regrets his involvement if Fisk’s criminal enterprise. Hoffman from the beginning spills everything. Matt slowly turns his head to look up at Karen. Ironic, I know, but still a nice moment.

What follows is a montage of the feds taking down those under Fisk’s thumb. Staring with Turk. Then dirty cops. Then a shot of Ellison at the Bulletin. The feds walk right past him and pick up his desk editor instead. In a parking garage an executive of Landman and Zach gets picked up with Marcy watching from her car. The one senator Hoffman knew of. Vanessa stands awkwardly while Fisk barks into his phone. Vanessa wants to run, but Fisk knows the next step cannot be prevented. He asks her to do something for him. She nods, but we never hear what the something was. As the fed s bang down his door, Wilson fumbles a marriage proposal as they haul him away. She kisses him as he’s pulled away. i.e. Mrs. Bad Guy. Fisk is lead through a media gaggle and into the back of a transport truck with four agents inside with him.

Matt, Foggy and Karen have a celebratory drink in the office.

Fisk monologues in the truck about a biblical story about an abused traveler. It’s the Good Samaritan story if you’d like to Google it. He says all of this to say that despite what he once thought, Wilson Fisk is not the Good Samaritan of this particular story.

Guard: What the hell does that mean?
Fisk: It means that I…AM NOT THE SAMARITAN. I am not the priest. I am the ill intent. That set upon the traveler who was on a road he should not have been on.

The entire motorcade comes to a screeching halt. The back doors to a truck open and guards or SWAT in riot gear open fire on the cops and feds trailing the truck. A full on fire fight. Once the news gets back to Nelson and Murdock, they all depart the office. The guards in riot gear get to Fisk’s truck and knock on the back door. One of the two guards threaten to put a bullet in Fisk’s head if they don’t back off. The other guard inside the truck actually puts a bullet in guard 1’s head. Fisk simply walks through the carnage as if this was all part of the plan.

Matt took a cab to meet with Mr. Potter. He is reluctant to say that the suit is completely finished. The black parts provide the most protection. The red might deflect a knife. Might not. Matt is gracious and says it will do just fine. Mr. Potter prevents him from closing the case to ask if Betsy will be safe from Fisk.

Man in the Mask: I made you a promise. I intend to keep it.

Standing on the rooftop (nothing new) we find a relative silhouette of Matt Murdock looking over the streets below. There is something different but the lighting prevents us from seeing it. The camera pans around and lands on a close up of Matt’s face listening to the sound of a police radio. Matt hears the line ‘the package is en route’.

Fisk’s team makes a stop to switch trucks. Fisk takes a phone call. Vanessa is standing outside next to a helicopter ready to evacuate on Fisk’s word. Fisk vows they will never be apart. This is just an inconvenience. Just as Fisk’s escort believes they are in the clear, a ‘stick’ crashes through the truck’s windshield. The truck topples over. The back door opens and Fisk walks out, then he falls to his knees when he hears a thud. The sound of something landing on the truck.


Daredevil: You were right. You told me on the radio that night, not everyone deserves a happy ending.

The suit is a symbol, no doubt about it. And not to take away from the big reveal, but I think I will always be partial to the ‘Man in the Black Mask’ look over the ‘Daredevil’ look. The guard that was in there with Fisk unloads bullets like they were free. Daredevil pulls something out that we haven’t seen yet. We’ve seen him use sticks. But until now, we had never seen the stick the comic book fans are accustomed to . The dark red walking stick that detaches. One more time. The suit is impressive as Daredevil pursues Fisk on foot.

Fisk (cornered): I wanted to make this city something better than it is. Something beautiful. YOU TOOK THAT AWAY FROM ME! YOU TOOK EVERYTHING! I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!
Daredevil: Take your shot.

The fight favors Daredevil out of the gate, but Fisk fights back. Head butts and body tosses. Brut fighting indicative of the Kingpin we all know. Fisk gets arrogant and the tide turns but only for a moment. Fisk’s use of a pipe conveys to Matt that it wouldn’t be ungentlemanly to go back to using his stick. The blows go back and forth. Eventually Fisk is able to get some combo shots in an raises Daredevil in that classic pose up over his head. Fisk drops him to the ground. Fisk begins hitting Matt while he’s down and at the same time yelling about his better tomorrow. Matt focuses and leg locks Fisk’s right arm. Then Matt pulls him closer with his legs. “This is my city. My family.”

The fight is very one-sided now in favor of the Daredevil. From his knees, Fisk asks Daredevil if he thinks any of this will make a difference. He stands still then yells out as he charges Fisk. Daredevil jumps in the air and delivers the knockout punch to the top of Fisk’s head. Just then, Mahoney arrives on scene.

Daredevil: I told you before sergeant, I’m not the bad guy.
Mahoney: Holy s***, it’s you.
Daredevil: This man was a fugitive from the law and I stopped him. So…we good?
Mahoney (Later handcuffing Fisk): So, what do I call you when I fill out my report?
(Daredevil runs up and over fire escapes so to not answer that question)

Mahoney reaches for his radio. Calls in that he’s found Fisk and the location. Says nothing about the man in red and black leather with horns on his mask standing before him.

Vanessa stands by the helicopter. There is no audio, but it’s clear her detail is adamant about getting her out of there. She pulls the large engagement ring out of her pocket, puts it on her ring finger, and reluctantly gets in the helicopter.

The next morning Karen reads on the front page of the Bulletin that “Daredevil Collars Fisk”. While Matt and Foggy laugh about the name, Karen insists that its much better than “the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen”. They all stand outside to relish in the visual of the Nelson and Murdock Attorneys at Law sign up on the building where it belongs.

Foggy races off to meet with Marcy to help her find a new job since most of Landman and Zach are under indictment. Karen attempts to go inside when Matt stops her. Matt has sensed for some time (I’m going to assume since the night she killed Wesley) that there was something in her voice. Something he assumed would go away once they took down Fisk. She deflects in a way that suggests, they will never get back to normal. Matt plays along.

Matt: It’s like I told Foggy. All we can do is move forward together.

Fisk stands in a white prison jumpsuit and sits on the rickety prison bed. Starring at a blank wall angrily. The wall of course resembling very similarly the painting “A Rabbit in a Snowstorm”.

Daredevil stands on a rooftop looking over his city. He hears a woman scream out. Separates his staff and leaps off the building in that ever so familiar pose.

Daredevil season 1 has been a joy to cover and may in time change the way television is presented. In my humble opinion, if it is not nominated for at least 3 Emmy’s than the award system is officially broken. For discussion sake, I would put Daredevil up against any show that has aired on television or any other format over the last 12 months minimum. All things considered, Daredevil may just be Marvel’s best work thus far. Everyone loves The Avengers, but this was the adaptation comic book fans have been waiting for.

All is not lost with the conclusion of this instant classic. Daredevil was part one of a four-part 2015 rollout from Marvel in partnership with Netflix. Yet to come this calendar year are such titles as “AKA Jessica Jones”, “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist” all supposedly culminating in a Defenders series to follow. Congratulations Marvel fans, it seems the scope of the Marvel Cinematic and now Television Universe are ever-expanding. Some day it will be hard to remember a time when Marvel wasn’t a major contributor to our entertainment focus.

Photo Courtesy Of Netflix
Photo Courtesy Of Netflix

Mad Men Series Finale Preview: The Top 5 Developments Heading Into It

This is another of the ongoing episode previews for the final batch of Mad Men episodes, as always, focusing on the Top 5 developments coming out of the previous episode.

The Blacklist: I Am A Sin-Eater

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Revelations and a rather shocking ending, left fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” looking forward to the series’ return at the start of the new TV season. The episode concluding the second season of the show, radically shook up the dynamic that had been in place, as events and people forced others to make life-altering decisions. Whether things can go back to the way were, is unclear at this point. However, deep down this series has always lived in a state of flux, since Raymond Reddington turned himself into the FBI, stating that he’d only talk to a rookie agent named Elizabeth Keen.

This episode showed just how powerful the organization know as The Cabal, truly is in the Blacklist universe. Their reach seems to be limitless and can turn fiction into fact, by pressuring the right people. As this evening started, Liz Keen stood in the Cabal’s crosshairs, in retribution for saving Red’s life by threatening the Director, saying she’d give the Fulcrum to the New York Times, if he refused to call off the hit on Reddington.

We found out last week that Liz got infected with the designer virus that killed Senator Hawkins, as Red realized that the United States Attorney General Tom Connolly set her up. We join Keen seconds later in the Task Force headquarters, as Connolly and some agents from the Justice Department, come into the building to arrest Liz. Reddington tells Lizzie to run, but Keen’s determined to clear her name.

Connolly heads into Task Force Director Harold Cooper’s office and tells him that he’s arresting Keen for the murder of the Senator, an outspoken critic of Russia. He says that Keen’s mother was a KGB operative and that she and Reddington have subverted the Task Force, for Reddington’s own needs. Cooper tells the Attorney General he won’t help him and Connolly replies that all he needs are the results from Keen’s blood-test. Lizzie’s standing outside of Cooper’s office, hears Connolly and decides she best get out of there.

Connolly tells Harold he’s putting Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright in charge of the investigation and Cooper threatens to tell Reven everything about the Cabal. Connolly says that Harold would face perjury charges in the Harbor Master case, Charlene would get charged with leaking a Federal document and Harold’s participation in the clinical trial to fight his cancer ends. Cooper opens his bottle of pills and throws them on the floor and says he’d rather die than roll over. Connolly tells the two agents to escort Harold to his car, he’s relieved of duty until the investigation ends.

Keen tries to leave through the elevator, but as she reaches the ground level Connolly and his agents are waiting for her. The Attorney General says he and his men were just looking for her, they take her into custody. She’s interviewed by two men, that apparently are from the Justice Department and seem to have an extensive knowledge of her background.

They ask her where she was born, she responds she was raised in Nebraska, they inform her she was born in Moscow. They ask her what her birth-name is and she looks at them blankly, they tell her that it’s Masha Rostova and  that her mother was a KGB operative and her step-father had a criminal background. They then ask her how long she’s spied for Russia.

Wright’s listening to the interview and calls over Ressler. She says she doesn’t know Liz, but she’s suspicious that Harold got put on Administrative leave. She tells Ressler she wants him in charge of the Task Force during the investigation. She’s aware of his boy-scout reputation, in regards to upholding the law and says she trusts his instincts.

Harold and Red meet in a church, Raymond tells Cooper that he’s got a man inside the Task Force Headquarters and he’s getting the power cut, which gives them two minutes to get Lizzie out of the building before the cameras reset. He tells Harold that he’s going to need him to guide her through the quickest way out of the building.

The power goes out at the Headquarters, one of the agents leaves the office to find out what’s going on. A bald man walks in and Keen attacks him and the agent that’s still in the office, suddenly a phone rings and the bald guy says the call’s for her. It’s Cooper on the phone, giving her instructions on where the secret tunnels are. She’s two feet from the exit and Ressler finds her and tells her not to run. She tells him she’s being set-up and she asks him to look the other way, he does and she escapes.

Red gets her to a safe house, where Cooper joins them and Red asks Lizzie to think when she may have had her routine diverted in the last 24-hours. Harold says Union Station when she got knocked out by a man she believes was Russian spy Karakurt. Red tells her to go check out the station’s surveillance footage and says he needs to attend a meeting, concerning another aspect of their war.

Liz gets to check out the surveillance tapes and she discovers that it wasn’t Karakurt that attacked her, rather it was the scientist and designer drug maker Leo Andropov that knocked her out. He then infected her with the virus through a nasal spray.

She goes to the restaurant owned by the Russian criminal informant she had asked about her mother Katerina Rostova. The man says he doesn’t remember anything about Rostova, as he’s on retainer from Red, who instructed him not to talk with any Federal agents about Rostova. However, she says she wants information on where Leo Andropov’s staying at. He gives her the address of the safe house he’s hiding in. She asks him once more about her mother, this time he says he can’t tell her anything.

She heads back to the house Red’s at and she asks him why he got the restaurant owner to remain silent about her mother? He replies that he’s a sin-eater, a man who swallows other people’s sins, so they don’t have to. She asked him what kind of sin could she have committed when she was four-years-old. She then says every time he acts like he cares about her, he then blows it by protecting himself.

She heads to ex-husband Tom’s boat and asks him to go with her to Andropov’s safe-house, he says they should both just sail away to a new life. She says that if she doesn’t take care of this now, she’ll be looking over her shoulder for the rest of her life. He agrees to go with her.

They enter the apartment, with guns drawn and see a laptop on the coffee table, Liz notices the hard drive attached and she puts it in her pocket. Suddenly they hear a noise from another room, Andropov has climbed out the window via the fire escape and hits the street, then takes off in his car. Tom and Liz go on a high-speed chase, that ends with Andropov getting killed by gunmen from the Cabal.

Red’s gathered eleven of whom he labels the best investigative reporters on the planet and gives them each a copy of the Fulcrum. He tells then to study it, investigate it and report it, once they’ve verified its veracity. He says that any of them that publish stories will become targets of the Cabal. However in the end the truth will come out.

Back at Tom’s boat, she takes a look at the hard drive and quickly realizes she’s found a treasure trove of documents that implicate the Cabal and Tom Connolly. The files even include Cooper’s medical records, as his doctor works for the Cabal. She calls Cooper and tells him they need to meet, she has information about his doctor.

Harold heads to his doctor’s office and tells the patient meeting with him to get out, then he grabs the doctor around the neck and tells him to let him know what kind of monkey business he’s pulled on Cooper. The doctor’s ready to wet himself and tells Harold they threatened his family and there wasn’t any clinical trial. He then informs Cooper, that the tests were falsified and he doesn’t have cancer. Andropov was supplying pills to make Harold feel sick, then altered the compound to make him feel better again. He says to Harold that he’s in perfect health.

Harold goes to confront Connolly, who tells Cooper he’s got a lot of stones showing up. Cooper takes him into a room and Keen appears, then tells Connolly he best not call his security team until he hears what they have to say. Cooper then tells Tom, that the doctor taped all their conversations and the tapes prove that Connolly blackmailed the doctor.

Liz then tells him he’s going to make this go away, he’s to exonerate her, drop any charges against Harold and Charlene and tell the Director to leave Reddington alone. He laughs and says why would he do that and Cooper says he’ll give the tapes to the Bureau or a Federal judge. Connolly says that Harold’s got no idea how deep and wide the Cabal’s river of influence is.

He then says that Keen and Cooper are heading to Federal prison, Samar Navabi’s to be extradited to Iran, where she’ll stand trial for killing an official. Reddington will get tried for treason and executed, Ressler’s Oxy addiction will get him drummed out of the Bureau. He’s even got things planned for Aram and Charlene.

Lizzie pulls out her pistol and aims it at Connolly, he laughs again and says he’s just a cog in a very big machine. If she kills him, they’ll put someone else in power who’s equally influential, they just won’t know their identity. Harold tells Liz to put the gun down, that if she shoots Connolly, they’ll get her for sure. She looks disoriented and then fires off a couple of shots into Connolly’s chest, killing him immediately. She suddenly remembers herself at four pulling the trigger of a gun, then runs out of the building.

Lizzie’s on the street when she gets a call from Ressler, pleading with her to turn herself in. He says he’ll help her any way he can, but she shot the United States Attorney General. She hangs up on Donald and calls Reddington, she tells him she killed Connolly and he tells her he knows and he’ll soon be there to pick her up.

Red and Dembe embrace, as Dembe won’t be making the trip with them. When he leaves the pair sit down and she tells Red she remembers the night of the fire and remembers that she shot and killed her father. He was hurting her mother and her pistol fell to the floor. The little girl picked it up and then shot her father.

She tells Red he truly is her sin-eater, he says he failed though, as he never wanted her to be like him. They are then picked up by a white SUV and driven away. We watch Harold taken into custody, Tom Keen leave the States on his boat and Ressler putting up a new wanted poster. Elizabeth Keen’s now on the Bureau’s ten most wanted list.

Wayward Pines: What’s Real And Who Can Be Trusted

Courtesy of FOX
Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

A serious car accident finds Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) laid up in a hospital bed. A curiously empty hospital, with one nurse and next to nothing else that resembles a realistically functioning hospital. The nurse is pleasant enough but has no intention of agreeing to his requests (i.e. phone, clothes, etc) and definitely not in favor of letting him leave. Pam (the nurse) claims his personal effects are at the sheriff’s office. Also that the sheriff’s office called his emergency contacts. Both of which I’m sure are not true.

Ethan and his partner are out searching for a couple missing Secret Service agents thought to have gone missing in this part of the country. One of those agents is Kate Hewson (played by Carla Gugino), who apparently was a former flame of Ethan’s.

At the Seattle field office, Ethan’s colleagues have no idea what happened. Two agents walk down a hall. One is ready to send resources to find out what happened. The other is glad to spin theories that point to doing nothing. The apathetic agent insists on being the one to call the families.
A few hours after the first visit from Nurse Pam with no doctor to follow has Ethan fed up. He rips out his I.V.’s and puts the suit on he arrived in. He starts to stroll out of the hospital when Nurse Pam appears. No one else. Not a single soul in the hospital except Ethan and Nurse Pam. He thanks her for her concern but insists on leaving.

Ethan strolls into a local bar on a main street that looks straight out of any Mountain Town, U.S.A. He meets Beverly (Juliette Lewis) who not only gives him a phone to use but also food with the promise to pay when he finds his wallet. Beverly seems friendly, but there is a hesitation behind her eyes. Beverly scribbles something on a hand ticket. It was not the cost of the burger, it was her address. Ethan turns the paper over and it reads “There are no crickets in Wayward Pines”.

Outside the bar, Ethan stops by a shrub where he hears the sound of crickets. Inside the shrub is a small speaker. Later in his shabby hotel room, the desk manager knocks on his door. The result of that conversation ends with the manager politely asking Ethan to ‘evacuate’ the room.

Ethan follows the address Beverly gave him and it leads to a small house that looks like it’s been condemned for decades. Inside he finds a body of a man wrists and ankles tied to the bedpost. This man is the other agent he was sent to find.

After than dead-end, Ethan makes his way to the Sheriff’s office. There is one secretary annoyed to have to do anything. Sheriff Pope is sitting at his desk doing literally nothing except eating an ice cream cone. Also, annoyed to have to do anything. Ethan mentions the decomposing body which peaks the Sheriff’s interest. Ethan begins to tell him the story of Beverly and the street address. She didn’t give a phone number because the Sheriff is supposed to have his phone. An idea that the Sheriff finds humorous. Ethan offers to walk the Sheriff over to the house at 604 First Avenue, but the Sheriff makes it very clear that he has no interest in being accompanied by Ethan.

In Seattle, the agents vehicle has been returned and is currently being examined. When Agent Hassler asks about the GPS module, the techs inform him that they can’t find the GPS module. Or anything thing else standard on the vehicle that would be helpful in locating Agent Burke.

Ethan tries making his phone calls. Everything goes to voice mail. Then he calls the Seattle field office. There is an answer. The voice on the line sounds suspiciously like Nurse Pam claiming to be Marcy. Ethan gets short with her and that does not help the situation.

Ethan goes back to the bar from the night before hoping to find Beverly. Sitting in the empty bar is a redheaded guy in his 30’s. He claims that bar has two employees. And both of them are men. The man plays up the notion that maybe Ethan had more to drink last night than he should have. Ethan goes into conspiracy theory mode, calling for Beverly as if she’s behind a mirror. After grabbing the man then letting go, the bar employee knocks Ethan out with a shot to the back of the head. Once down, he grabs a walkie-talkie and says:

Bartender: 10-1628 is not doing well.

Ethan has a flashback dream to the day or two before leaving for Idaho. He and his wife are celebrating his teenaged son’s birthday in a park. He mentions that he has to leave town for a few days, then wakes up. This time shackled to the gurney in the creepy one nurse hospital. This time instead of Nurse Pam, he is welcomed by Dr. Jenkins (played by Toby Jones). Dr. Jenkins tells Ethan (truthfully or not) that he has bleeding on his brain and that is the catalyst for his dissociative mental condition. All of Jenkins’ answers are not acceptable to Ethan. He gets louder and more insistent. Leading to Nurse Pam administering a sedative.

Nurse Pam wheels him towards a surgery room then walks away. Then, ironically, Beverly shows up in a black hood wheeling him in the other direction towards an elevator. They get some distance between themselves and Pam. Eventually they both duck into separate doors in a hallway. Pam notices the wetness from Beverly’s boot in the hallway. Believing Ethan is on the other side of the door. Ethan charges out from the other door knocking Pam into the ‘break glass in case of emergency’ as he and Beverly escape.

Beverly gets Ethan into what looks like another condemned squatter house. Beverly does work at the bar, but ‘they’ are trying to break his mind. Beverly tells him as he slips into a drug induced sleep that she came to outfit the schools with Y2K protection software. She was hit just like Ethan and told she had a head injury and memory loss. Then she says, “next week will be my anniversary, I will have been in Wayward Pines for a whole year”. She thinks its only 2000. Ethan says as he slips away that its 2014.

Hessler meets with Ethan’s wife and informs her that while there is no detail he can disclose at this time, it appears that Ethan may not have even been in the car. She asks him bluntly if Ethan is with ‘her’, presumably referencing Kate Hewson. She gets no real answer but doesn’t show any ill will towards Hessler either.

Ethan wakes up the next day and explores Main St again. Eventually he finds a green space between businesses and find a woman enjoying the company of others that looks like Agent Hewson, but with a complete makeover. Ethan flashes back to one of their intimate moments. Then he follows her home. He knocks on the door and a man answers. Hewson comes to the door and acts as if she’s never met him before. The ‘husband’ leaves her to her visitor. She insists they sit on the front steps.

Ethan is all but fed up with the situation, but then Kate begins speaking in a manner that keeps his attention. Making eye contact, “They’re watching us. They’re listening.” He asks how long she’s lived here, and she says 12 years. Which is odd considering Ethan believes they were working together five weeks ago. She has no answers. Then she goes all Stepford Wives and heads back into the house. Ethan asks if he’s having a relapse from a previous psychological episode. She discreetly nods in the negative.

In Seattle, Dr. Jenkins meets with Hessler. Jenkins refers to Hessler by his first name, insinuating a familiarity.

Jenkins: Adam, you wanted to see me?
Hessler: If there’s time, I want to call it off.
Jenkins: Its done Adam. It’s all been taken care of. Nothing for you to worry about.

Ethan quickly hot wires a car belonging to one of the residents. Ethan races towards an exit recklessly. Every path seems to lead him back into town. Eventually, he gets back out on the outskirts country roads and parks the car. He gets out and starts climbing up the mountainside. Ultimately finding a Jurassic Park style fence around the entire perimeter. Even the signs say, “at the risk of death” and “return to Wayward Pines”. He journeys back down. The moment he gets in the car, a cop car behind him turns on his lights. Its Sheriff Pope.

Sheriff: You didn’t make it too far did you?
Ethan: How do I get out of here?
Sheriff: You don’t.

Courtesy of FOX
Courtesy of FOX