It’s Dean Cain, Friend’s Day, and Terrific balls in this week’s CW/DC TV roundup!
Mon-El is being courted, which is probably my favorite part of this whole thing. It might seem like a genderswap, and while that might technically be true in a cliched way, Supergirl is still staying true to its characters; so it just makes sense for them to do it like this. The plot needs to keep moving though, and so Kara is forced to put on blinders. Granted the arrival of Dean Cain does a lot to explain those particular blinders, but from that point it’s an exercise in patience. (We’re so happy you’re back! Everything is great! Nothing bad could ever happen!) Meanwhile, the other shoe plows in to the ground like a meteorite. Y’know, one minute I’m complimenting the take charge attitude of the women in Supergirl and the next I’m condemning their emotional compromises and dulling of common sense for the sake of plot-points. Only one character’s actions make sense in the wake of Jeremiah’s miraculous return, and that’s those of Eliza Danvers. Seriously, there is a level of maturity in her attitude there that Alex and Kara can’t even touch. Of course it’s even worse for J’onn who like all telepaths on TV is made powerless by contrived plot-points. So, I saw the bad things coming a mile away, and yeah the characters allowing it to happen stretches the bounds of suspension of disbelief but damn if they don’t sell it like a tragedy. Chyler Leigh, Melissa Benoist, and David Harewood nail both the the denial and betrayal that comes with going along with Jeremiah’s act. It’s made especially personal in a fight between Jeremiah and J’onn and a deadly standoff in the woods between Alex and Jeremiah, both of which are wrought with both emotion and manipulation. The real tragedy of Jeremiah’s betrayal is just how effective it is, and the shreds it leaves the Supergirl team in. It’s a strike while the iron’s hot situation though, and Supergirl wastes no time in setting up the fantastic plotline for the next episode, “Exodus.” Way to keep up the momentum “Homecoming.”
The Flash: 3:14 “Attack on Central City”
They probably could have kept Gypsy’s involvement a secret if they just hadn’t bothered showing footage from “Dead or Alive” at the beginning. Ah whatever, Grodd’s gonna attack Central City, so let’s just stop living in the past and focus on that. Luckily the episode isn’t in that much of a hurry, as there’s technically a Valentine’s thing going on so everyone who you’d expect to be in the mood to celebrate is and everyone you’d expect to not be in the mood isn’t. Adds some levity and humor right at the start, especially as Tom Cavanagh gets to play opposite himself as both Harry and HR, and oddly enough he has good chemistry…with himself. It doesn’t take long to reveal Grodd’s appearance on Earth-1 though, as he and his gorilla army stand mightily in the massive forest overlooking Central City…which has never been used until now…because it’s never been there until now. It makes for a dramatic scene, but are we just not even trying to maintain continuity? Once the plot kicks in the episode really picks up though. Barry’s moral dilemma works a lot better this time around, and playing it off Iris gives the arc emotional context. The interaction plays out in an obvious way, but it’s a strong moment for Iris and a vulnerable moment for Barry, so it’s valuable for each character in a different way. It all, like before, leads to the big showdown; this time between Grodd and Barry…and Jesse and Wally…and 100 other heavily armored gorillas. It would have been so easy to just let it go, pull out a plot gimmick, and wrap it all up but Flash actually gives the big showdown catharsis by bringing Keith David’s Solovar back. We’ve already seen Speedster VS Gorilla, but Gorilla VS Gorilla; that’s a show worth the price of a ticket. I’ve always applauded Flash for its presentation of Grodd, but it’s one thing to be impressive visually and quite another to be both impressive and satisfying. The grand finale between Grodd and Solovar answers questions, sets a path, and provides closure. But even so, the Flash’s problems are just getting started as the end of the episode clearly shows.
Arrow: 5:15 “Fighting Fire with Fire”
This episode begins in the middle of a horrible event which isn’t a bomb about to go off, or a train about to crash, or even an earthquake. No, this is something much more abstract and yet impacting, a scandal of corruption in the mayor’s office. Odd how this used to be a show about a guy wearing a green unitard putting arrows in to bad guys… Of course I’m kidding though. In fact, this new direction of Arrow has been much more substantial in its effectiveness as a serious drama than people in various colored tights agonizing over sex, murder, and betrayal. Best of all, we know Oliver’s guilty. How do you spin that? The answer is, you don’t. It’s odd to see Oliver go down for this, but it’s also worth noting that he kind of should and does (in a way.) The most effective use of flexible morality in a series about that very subject and it happens not because of vigilantism, but in a courtroom. How’s that for irony? Everyone fights their worst instincts in “Fighting Fire with Fire,” and that includes the audience, as the ol’ switcheroo rears its ugly head, and the identity of Prometheus is revealed to be Adrian. A cruel trick on the comic fans, yet I’m still forced to tip my hat to Arrow for hiding the villain in plain sight. Prometheus doesn’t seem nearly as omnipotent as before, but the reason for his efficiency is made clear. It’ll be expanded on much more in the coming episode I’m sure though, so I’d rather reserve judgement for the reveal. For this one though, Curtis gets an awesome upgrade that makes for both a comic parallel and a unique approach to his character’s abilities as a vigilante, Felicity wrestles with bottled up betrayal because of Billy’s murder and makes a surprising decision, and Thea finally faces down the person she’s becoming. Despite the clear reason for her departure being contractual, it’s still a notable arc for the character.
Final Word: Betrayal. It’s a big deal this week, with all the DC/CW shows giving up ground to the bad guys. All of it leading in to storylines that are more in line with the seasonwide arcs they’ve been building. Supergirl’s anti-alien terrorist group Cadmus is getting one more go at genocide, Savitar is back and he doesn’t seem thrilled that Barry tried to lock him up, and Prometheus no longer feels the need to hide behind his mask, which might even make him more dangerous. Although this week’s episodes felt like they were just throughways to bigger ideas, the episode themselves are all still autonomous high quality open and shut stories. Hard to pick a favorite because they all succeeded and failed to essentially the same degree so I guess this week was all about consistency. Supergirl, Flash, and Arrow are the highest performing superheroes on the CW, and as such no one outdoes another, but they all still hit some pretty high notes.