The Flarrowverse Round Up - 2016-7 Week 5
While this week, to many, may be more of a Strange affair, the Arrowverse still holds its own. The Flash may take a rare stumble but the rest produce some great episodes. He’s our breakdown, which of course.....CONTAINS SPOLIERS..... but no drawing power from the Dark Dimension in service of all powerful mystical entities
STAR OF THE WEEK – Tom Felton, Julian Albert
I’ve loved Tom Felton’s character and performances since joining the show last month but this is his best episode yet for the sheer range of his performance. He begins the episode at his most snide as he tries to get Barry in trouble with Captain Singh only to show as an arrogant vain man seduced by flattery before slowly opening himself up to Barry and concluding by genuinely pouring his heart out. In every moment, he is utterly compelling as he sells Barry & Julian’s journey from frustrated rivals to friends.
Supergirl S2E4: Survivors –
As Winn helps Mon-El adjust to his newfound powers, Alex and Maggie uncover an underground alien fight club for National City’s rich and elite hosted by Veronica Sinclair aka Roulette. Hank tries to get closer to Megan but discovers she’s hiding a few more secrets.
What was good?
This Daxam flashback intro made for a nice explosive start with great effects. Maggie continues to be an asset to the show by being a police presence. This really helps the narrative get going quickly while simultaneous piling on chemistry with Alex as the pair think as one much to Kara’s bemusements. The idea of the alien fight club could have been something best not talked about but it really feels like the grand affair it’s made out to be from the spacious arena sets, 50 Shades of Supergirl masked ball onlookers and of course, its host. Roulette is a fantastic villain edition to the show. Dichen Lachman (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Dollhouse) utterly kills it. She makes her feel like a glamorous ring mistress while the wardrobe and costume department make her one of the most visually loyal comics incarnations to date with red dress and full body snake tattoo. She oozes confidence, looks fabulous and her “to be continued” style departure implies she’ll be back for another spin. The fight matches themselves are a good visual affair. Draaga (taken from Superman’s Exile storyline involving gladiator fighting) looks the part as the hulking house champion while the Martian square off adding suitable emotional stakes and providing a means of bringing Hank and Megan closer together. The fight club also builds well on the growing theme of National City adjusting to the inclusion of aliens within their society. Here that translates into those looking to exploit them. The growing Winn and Mon-El bromance was a lot more fun than expected. It gave Winn some much needed story while providing plenty of enjoyable comedy from their drinking antics and Mon’s fish out of water moments (“your mom is a babe”).
What wasn’t so good?
Kara’s “We shouldn’t be fighting each other speech” was less inspirational and more a cheese gushing fire hose plastering the scene in way too much of it. It’s a needless tone change out of nowhere that feels completely out of place. The Snapper Carr/day job scenes also felt squeezed out this week. They had some moments and we still get the impression of Kara learning as she goes, but they felt too much like a footnote to the episode.
Where is it going?
So the end twist on Megan/Miss Martian secretly being a White Martian is in keeping with her comics origins. Of course in her story the White Martian that refused a kill order was really herself. This will be leading towards a heartbreaking reveal for Hank when he discovers the truth as their relationship progresses. We could even see her telling him by consenting to “the bond” in hopes Hank will understand but this is TV so they’ll be at least some fallout. Lena Luthor gives a juicy little tease to Kara, “I know you’ll be there for me when the time comes”. While she still presents as a protagonist she may well be playing a long game and deliberately building this friendship with Kara (knowing her identity) as a way of grooming Supergirl into her trust for a key moment. As she keeps reminding us, she is a Luthor; that means she’s always got a plan. From Alex’s final reaction we can be sure that a Maggie/Alex relationship will happen eventually as Alex appears to have just realized how she feels about her.
The Flash S3E5: Monster –
“What’s that coming over the hill...it’s a monster?” in Central City as a giant hulking figure stalks the streets that the team have trouble pinning down. Barry tries to improve things with Julian by asking to shadow his work, and Catlin seeks him from her renowned scientist mother over her frost power problems.
What was good?
Let’s start with the most devise point: HR aka Harrison Wells from Earth 19. I’ve seen him getting a lot of comment section hate and while he’ll also feature in the next paragraph he had some good qualities. Firstly, the writer twist was brilliant, “H.R. Wells” so obvious yet easy to miss. This sets him up as a Richard Castle type figure within the team which could be great. Secondly, it’s good that he’s such a drastic change on the two prior incarnations to keep things fresh and some of his jokes were quite funny. The Catlin scenes were an enjoyable subplot this week. Introducing her mother was effective as it easily explained why we’ve never seen her before, and seeing a metahuman scientifically trying to fight their abilities was (as far as I’m aware) a new feature for the show. Catlin’s reconnection with her work-driven mother (very reminiscent of Leonard and his mom on Big Bang) felt genuine too. The visual effects of the monster looked great and give the episode a nice TV does Cloverfield vibe. As mentioned above, the whole central Barry & Julian story was excellent and easily the best feature of the episode with the eventual friendship feeling very satisfying. It even gave us a lot of great exposition on Julian’s character like his former military service and walking away from his wealthy family origins.
What wasn’t so good?
Despite some good qualities, this was bellow the usual high Flash standards. While it was an interesting twist having the monster as just a hologram, it really took the jam out of this donut. All those build-up shots of its hulking form stalking the streets waiting to see Barry finally take on his biggest ever opponent only to have it be a no contest was incredibly lame. We didn’t even get that Empire! The human controller reveal fairs little better as we’re being immediately forced to sympathise with this bullied kid on a power trip. Again, it’s a decent twist but in this case it just happens too fast to really appreciate it all. Although some of HR’s jokes were funny in general, the character gets obnoxious when featured in lengthy scenes. Yes, more comic relief can be fun but we’ve already got Cisco for that. What’s more by making HR Wells so goofy we’ve lost his typically serious and on the nose contributions to the group dynamic, which is a real problem. It’s like we’ve got a 2nd rate Harry trying to be a 2nd rate Cisco. The character may still work, but needs to be reined in if he’s going to stay. Wally and Iris get no real story either.
Where is it going?
Another week, another healthy helping of Julian equals Doctor Alchemy foreshadowing. While Julian’s speech about metahumans wasting their powers on petty crimes has some decent sentiment to it and paints him with serious heroic intentions, it’s clearly a mirroring of previous Alchemy dialogue. We’ve seen in past episodes, Alchemy is referring to his flashpoint meta-powers transformations as getting people to live up to their potential. I still think the show is pulling the twins routine though, and that Alchemy is either Julian’s natural twin or his flashpoint doppelganger crossed into this timeline. We’re still edging Catlin closer towards a physical Killer Frost transformation. This week, we clearly see her eyes and voice change when enraged by Nigel into defending herself. Her final moments even imply a Killer Frost -ike persona increasingly that’s breaking out controlling her. Is anyone else noticing the similarities between Catlin’s character development and Buffy’s Willow? First, we meet the evil version alternative reality version of her a couple times and then in a later season she adopts a similar persona. Expect a, “bored now” moment soon. Finally, not episode related, but remember they’ll be no episode next week because of the US election.
Arrow - S5E5: Human Target –
The team rescue Wild Dog from Tobias Church’s vicious beatings but not before he gives away Oliver’s identity prompting Church to kill Oliver as the mayor to finally initiate his big plans. Thanks to a decoy rusem Oliver survives to lead the team in taking down Church who warns of a bigger evil to come.
What was good?
The follow-up on Wild Dog’s capture was excellent even if his rescue came sooner than expected. His interrogation gave Church some good menacing material while his recovery and bonding with Diggle served as a good means to humble and rein in his upstart/loose cannon persona. Now we believe him as a devoted team member. This arc also served Diggle well as his means to picking up that Spartan helmet again. It reaffirmed his reasons for returning to action as a means of focusing his guilt over Andy into a more positive means. I also really like the way Church’s story gets surprisingly wrapped up as Oliver’s fake death fast forwards things to his end game. It’s a shame to lose him as a villain but Oliver defeating him now makes Church feel like a more significant notch in the belt rather than being slowly devalued from a full season of stalemate encounters. While most of the Bratva scenes were filler this week, their unexpected connection to the present day story was a good twist. While we’ve had plenty of people on the show that have known Oliver getting off the island during his supposed 5-year residency, none have ever shown a desire or stood to gain from making that public until now. It’s wielding the flashback events against Oliver Queen rather the Green Arrow which is a good change up.
What wasn’t so good?
While the usage of Human Target within the story was good (even if Oliver dying is an almost impossible sell) as soon as that mask came off Wil Travel (Will/Nuke in Jessica Jones) was a complete disappointment. Despite playing an impersonator, he presented with no actual personality of his own. Somehow, Church’s unnamed hired “freak”/masked ninja managed to be more interesting in person.... and yes, why didn’t they even give that guy a name even it they were not meant to be a comics figure? Thankfully, it didn’t last long but God that Olicity balcony scene was awkward. While Church’s story was very satisfying, his final confrontation could have been amped up a bit more. Instead it was a bit of an anti-climax. The Mayor Oliver scenes also felt shoved in with the housing zoning situation too easily flip-reversed into an easy win.
Where is it going?
So with Church gone and Oliver now aware, at least by name, of Prometheus, he steps up to be season’s lead villain. Though we still know very little about his agenda other than being really bad news for Oliver. It was suspected before but now affirmed from his non-existent reaction to Church dropping the Oliver = Green Arrow bomb that Prometheus has long known who was under the hood. This further supports the theory that whoever is behind the Prometheus mask is positioning themselves close to Oliver Queen by day. Things are inconclusive as to whether or not there will be a romantic arc between Oliver and Susan Williams. All be it to Human Target in disguise, Susan shows intent of attraction in giving her number but Chance subsequently claims Oliver will not call her. It seems more likely that it will happen though. Olicity is off the table and Oliver has no other ladies in the picture right now. However, the Bratva tip off Williams gets implies she will further pursue him as a means of getting close to him in an obsessive expose arc similar to her comics incarnation.
Legends of Tomorrow - S2E4: Abominations –
When the team track a crashed time pirates beacon to the US Civil War, they quickly learn that he was carrying a virus with zombie-like effects that changes the outcome of war. While Sara and Nate help the Union troops fight off the zombie hordes, Jax completes a critical spy mission and Ray formulates an antidote for an infected Mick.
What was good?
The Bill & Ted-style time travelling continues... most triumphant! The US Civil War makes a good destination too. A time of conflict fitting into the action aspects of the show while the racial slavery of the period provides good character arcs for Jax and Vixen. Making the young, “I’ve been black my entire life” Jax get a crash course in real racial prejudice makes for good character development. It also furthers Vixen too as she must learn about historical non-intervention in the face of atrocities. The period costumes are a good bit of fun and on top of that we have (“don’t say it”) zombies in the mix! The different team member’s reactions to the Z-word are excellent, and their presence not only gives the episode an inventive twist but provides a real threat in the team’s mission to save history. I wonder if Dominic Purcell actually requested his infected arc? You can tell he was having an absolute blast playing zombie Mick. Not only does it make a great variation on his big lovable self but it continues Ray’s “I’m a hero without my suit” story while providing plenty of comedy along the way. Ray also gets some good early laughs going full Boy Scout and making packed lunches; though Martin Stein takes the comedic cake this week, “There’s nothing irrational about my fear of zombies. He’s a zombie!”.
Speaking of Mick, despite the emotional notes of Jax’s story, Mick giving Ray the cold gun is easily the most moving part of the episode. It comes very unexpectedly and returns to their friendship roots of Season 1, “This belonged to the greatest outsider I ever knew”. Despite having the zombies in play, the best film reference is a brilliant nod to Jurassic Park/World as Nate does some T-Rex style flare waving in the dark. Again, like last week, this episode is enjoyable for being almost entirely standalone with no pressures to further its central villain story anytime soon.
What wasn’t so good?
While it is uncertainly in keeping with the time period and a meaningful message, Jax’s “12 hours a slave” angle does get a little grim in places to the extent of detracting from the more fun tone of the history with zombies story. It’s more of no win situation for the writers over featuring such content (leaving it out makes light of it) but it still affects the quality of the episode. The overall story hits a big stalling point around halhway where nothing seems to be happening. Finally, when Jax throws the lamp from the balcony, unless it had Tardis like oil storage capabilities that was one hell of an exaggerated fire ball!
Where is it going?
We get another snippet of Barry Allen’s 2056 message, “a war is coming”. While that could be referring to the upcoming mass crossover story, Invasion, centring around The Dominators invading Earth, the fact that it’s from the future still feels like it’s specific to events on just Legends. The passing of the cold gun implies that Ray will be suit less for longer than initially suspected. I definitely think he’ll be back in full ATOM gear by the Invasion crossover because otherwise that will require a lot of explaining when he appears on the other shows. We can also bet that when the full Legion of Doom comes together Ray and Leonard Snart will meet for either a “that’s mine” moment or a cold gun showdown. Nothing is furthered again this week, and it doesn’t look like the full Legion will assemble until at least the midseason finale (after Invasion is done with).