It’s the 5th Dimension, Planet of the Apes, mind controlled knights, and media relations in this week’s CW/DC TV roundup!
Funny how Supergirl just kind of clicks sometimes. After the drama heavy “Luthors” this is a very welcome lightening up; that primarily focuses on just being fun. Peter Gadiot is an energetic personality that makes a hell of an impact as a Supergirl appropriate version of the impish Mr. Mxyzptlk (aka dashingly handsome.) The addition of the character also legitimizes the long stagnating relationship between Mon-El and Kara. They’ve always had chemistry, but the prospect of a relationship between them always seemed so obvious that it was practically obligatory. It’s just what was supposed to happen, and that thinking was exactly what killed the relationship between Kara and James in the first season. The dynamic between them is mixed up by the addition of Myx. Mon-El getting in Kara’s way isn’t a contrived girl-power plotline for it’s own sake, but Supergirl genuinely trying to do her job and Mon-El’s old fashioned attempts at chivalry doing more harm than good. It does allow for some playful banter between the two, which is par for the course for Chris Wood’s Mon El brand of white bread charisma; but I couldn’t help but notice some drops of nuance mixed in to that performance as he also struggles with jealousy, inadequacy, and selfishness which colors everything he does with far more desperation than usual. It all culminates in an ending that despite inherent difficulties works really well. It’s theatrical, intelligent, and believable. Both of the episode’s side stories are also worthwhile. Winn meets an alien named Lyra. Their relationship, while rushed, is still genuinely sweet, fun, and subtlely dramatic. Lyra’s experience adds a lot of depth to her character, and makes her more empathetic but it also uses the Supergirl mythology to showcase a unique arc about human/alien sexuality and the flip-side to sexual exploration. Alex and Maggie’s Valentine’s woes also start out as typical TV fare, but use the character’s backgrounds and personalities to construct a believable and empathetic mini-drama that ultimately serves to strengthen their characters’ relationship.
This was a big one. Gorilla City, Solovar, Grodd; I mean it doesn’t get more Flash than that. Still, Flash fits it in to the series’ context. Harry is captured by Grodd for some unknown reason and Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin go to Earth Two to get him back. That was the plan, until Julian finds out what they’re doing and decides to tag along; y’know…for science. I gotta say, this is probably the most human I’ve seen Julian as he clearly geeks out about a city of intelligent gorillas. Meanwhile, Wally and Jesse are left behind to protect Central City in Barry’s absence, while also airing out their own apprehensions about both being speedsters, friends, and possibly more. Obviously Gorilla City is the highlight, but it’s more about set decoration than being a municipality. The only actual look at Gorilla City is in the form of a single flyover. It’s impressive, but hardly revealing. The only thing we’re privy to is the fact that gorillas value strength over all else. Seems pretty obvious what’s going to happen, and sure enough Flash is forced to face the strongest gorilla in the arena, Solovar. Everything about the episode, Grodd’s plan, Harry’s abduction, Solvar’s distrust; it’s all an excuse to pit Flash against a giant gorilla in a one on one fight. So how’s the fight? Pretty good. I mean, it’s CGIed all to hell, so uncanny valley be damned, but it’s interesting nonetheless. It’s surprisingly strategic, and Solovar doesn’t disappoint as an adversary (I mean they got Keith David, so there was some expectation to menace there.) There’s an attempt to lay on the drama as Barry wrestles with possibly taking a life in order to change the future. That arc doesn’t really amount to anything though, and I found I was more impressed with Grodd’s backup plan which could’ve remained hidden if it weren’t for the flashback to the episode “Dead or Alive.” Wally and Jesse’s drama is dragged out through the episode, which is an artificial way to extend the drama, but it culminates in a reasonable way. I doubt it’ll remain that uncomplicated for long though.
Well this is confusing. Is it the future, or the past? Simple really, the episode starts in the future and ends up going to the past. The mythic past, actually. The future part is important though because it shows once again just how evil Rip is now, as well as setting up the device that will make the episode’s plot work. Also, it reveals the fate of the remaining members of the JSA. This was the coolest part of the episode to me. The remaining members of the JSA were each given a different part of the spear and hidden throughout time. After dispatching with Doctor Midnight in a brutal way, Rip looks to the Europe in the middle ages to find where Stargirl has hidden her piece of the spear. Unfortunately, it’s locked up in the court of Camelot which is guarded by the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur himself. Might be quick work for Eobard Thawne, but because of speedster reasons, he’s not available so it’s up to Damien Darhk and Rip Hunter to retrieve the spear from the court. The reveal of Merlin and the reasoning behind the existence of the court of Camelot despite being only a legend used the series’ devices effectively, but Ray’s obsession with the stories and willingness to lay down his life to be a part of them didn’t come off as noble, it seemed insane. I don’t know if mania was the intention of the episode, but it’s a far cry from his usual temperament. He’s always a bit nerdy and naive, but this was just plain idiotic. He was impossible to empathize with as his decisions took him to unwarranted extremes. In fact, the logic of the episode itself is just hard to follow. Rip and Damien’s plan as a whole doesn’t make sense, and seems inefficient when you consider the tools at their disposal. It does bring up interesting questions like Rip’s ability to do evil possibly surpassing his handlers, but this and more interesting themes are barely touched upon, leading to the most bland plot-points making up the whole of the episode. Then that ending… Rip is the perfect villain, and Darville hits just the right notes to stick the landing.
Arrow has committed its fair share of sins in the past, but this season has been a significant improvement. “The Sin Eater” is about a prison break involving three of Star City’s most dangerous female villains; Cupid, China White, and Liza Warner. All three are out to score a hidden fortune left behind by Tobias Church. All three villains are well established and presented in their own right, but they aren’t given top billing here as Arrow continues to take steps to improve upon regular characters and themes. After the incredibly topical “Spectre of the Gun” I’m impressed that politics are still the main talking point in a modern day Robin Hood/Superhero show. “The Sin Eater” dances around its title with varying degrees of success. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes its a kick in the head (like with Thea for instance) but it’s always going down an avenue worth exploring. Oliver’s chess game with Prometheus continues, and the retaliation of Oliver’s moves against him are Moriartylike in their efficacy. For Oliver’s visit to Prometheus’ mother, Prometheus reveals the Green Arrow’s role in Detective Malone’s death to the ACU. Not only does this effectively prevent Oliver from stopping the trio cutting their way across Star City, but it also reveals the cover-up of key evidence in an ongoing investigation to members of the ACU. Evidence that Oliver and Chase were responsible for withholding; which is, by its very definition, considered corruption. For all of Arrow’s posturing through the character of Oliver about the grey nature of right and wrong, actions speak louder than words, and this one speaks volumes about the level of complication that Oliver’s life has experienced since he became mayor better than any monologue could. Meanwhile that complication has inevitably seeped in to Oliver’s personal life, destroying his burgeoning relationship with Susan Williams. My only gripe is how cavalier Oliver is about this devastating state of affairs he left Susan in. While this continues the trend of people being ruined after coming in to contact with Oliver, it doesn’t do a lot for this apparently sympathetic side we’re supposed to see of him. Still, I believe the parallel drawn between Thea and Moira was a crushingly appropriate arc for her character.
Final Word: I was excited to see Supergirl’s version of Myxzptlk, and despite him being a far cry physically from his comic book counterpart, his character’s soul remains intact. I wasn’t disappointed. However, the longer lasting effects of the episode injected Kara and Mon-El’s relationship with value, and the two asides reflect on significant thematic ideas. Flash on the other hand kept things simple, despite being about a whole city of super intelligent gorillas. Sad to say, but Flash might not have the resources to pull off Gorilla City in all of it’s complex majesty, but the episode still keeps itself upright. Legends however struggled with identity once again, failing to keep control of the setting or the characters. I get the impression that this could have been pulled off on a larger scale but this one, like some many before, just spun out of control. I wouldn’t count Legends out yet though, as Arthur Darville’s villainous stare manages to save the day. Arrow though got in to some pretty dark territory doing much more showing than telling. Fans of big gunfights and set pieces got their finale, but the best fighting happened in the political arena. The careful game that this Prometheus arc is playing is all about moving each piece one at a time, and it’s like watching a political downfall in slow motion. I won’t say it’s like House of Cards or anything, but this is hinting at a much better long game than they have in the last two seasons. Far from perfect, but the themes at work are just so different for Arrow. It’s amazing to see them doing something that none of the other CW shows, or even superhero shows for that matter, are doing and that is juggle political and social intrigue with gunfights and superpowers; making it all connected in a natural way. The clear winner this week is Arrow.