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Arrow: Lian Yu

lianyu

Can we be done with Flasback Island now? Please?

Season 5 of Arrow comes to an end with “Lian Yu.” That is, of course, the place Oliver allegedly spent his “five years in hell…” when he wasn’t in Hong Kong or Russia. It also later became Oliver’s personal super-prison, holding Deathstroke Slade Wilson and Captain Boomerang Digger Harkness. In the comics, Lian is the name of Roy Harper’s daughter, sort of Oliver’s granddaughter, who died an utterly pointless tragic death that angered many fans.

As a note, there will be both speculation and spoilers here. You probably don’t want to go past this point if you haven’t seen the finale, and I’ll try and keep the speculation to the end of the review with another warning flag. So, bearing that in mind, off we go.

The voiceover is about Lian Yu being Mandarin for Purgatory. I have no idea if that’s true. They do a sweeping panning shot of the island, focusing on such notable landmarks as the wreck of the Amazo, where so much badness happened. Then again, not a lot of good happened on this island. We know magic is real, I wonder if this place is cursed.

Oliver, truly desperate for help, continues assembling his unlikely team. For some reason or other, he decides it’s a better plan to go with villains like Deathstroke, Captain Boomerang, Malcolm Merlyn, and Nyssa Al-Ghul, rather than contacting their various allies like Flash, Vibe, Wildcat (if he’s still alive), or the Legends. Why? Because this is the low-power end of the CW-Verse, I guess. Slade agrees to help, claiming his head is clear now that he’s off the Mirakuru.

Team Anti-Hero (at best) reunite on the beach where Malcolm and Nyssa keep arguing with each other. For some weird reason, they unpacked everything except the weapons (what else did they bring? It’s not a damn vacation) from the plane, which is established just in time for the plane to get blown up. Two warriors like Malcolm and Nyssa left the weapons for last?

They split up, and Oliver takes Slade and Boomerang with him. They find most of the rest of the prisoners (no Dinah or Rene) in cages in a clearing. Naturally this is a trap. Boomerang turns traitor, pulling a gun on the heroes. Where he got the gun, I’m not sure. When Oliver recruited Slade, he was in his cell in prison whites. We never saw Boomerang in his cell, but I can’t imagine he was hanging out down there in costume. At any rate, Artemis/Evelyn and Talia are both there as well, along with the usual horde of ninja soldiers. The fight breaks out, inevitably, with Nyssa and Malcolm showing up to help tip the odds. Talia gets away, like the ninja she is, and Evelyn gets captured, like the essentially useless character she’s been since she turned up. Oliver gets most of the prisoners moving toward the boat after the big, “I’m not leaving you” speech from Felicity. Apparently, when Chase or his minions (how many people are working for this psycho?) grabbed Oliver’s son William, they grabbed Samantha, the boy’s mother as well. Personally, I’d be ok with her not making it off the island.

Apparently, there’s a monastery we’ve never seen before (how big IS this island?), which is where Quentin, Rene, Dinah, and Diggle are. Dinah has a sonic damper focused on her, which is becoming a more and more common gadget it seems. At any rate, it’s preventing her from using her powers to escape. While the prisoners exchange news, Nyssa is trying to track down Talia. The daughters of Ra’s are heading for a showdown. Slade offers the insight that Oliver is suffering from survivor’s guilt.

The freed group of prisoners and protectors are trying to get to a plane (obviously not the one that blew up earlier). Samantha says she won’t leave without William. Felicity still isn’t sure she did the right thing by leaving Oliver behind. Malcolm tries to get Thea to at least talk to him, but their conversation gets cut short when Thea finds a landmine in the worst possible way. Weirdly, this seems to be the only mine, or at least no one seems to remember that mines usually come in fields. After some argument about what to do next, Malcolm takes matters into his own hands in a dramatic and effective way. The others finally regretfully agree to leave him. Boomerang catches up with him and mocks him for being in the open. When Boomer asks what kind of strategy that is, Malcolm says let me show you and steps off the mine. The others flinch as they hear the explosion in the distance.

Apparently out of hearing range of the explosion, Oliver, Nyssa, and Slade find the downed plane that Oliver and Slade lived in for a while during some of the FlashBack Theater segments. They see the monastery off in the jungle, and Oliver says he’s never been there. Nyssa goes to scout on her own, and then Slade echoes Boomerang’s earlier treachery by knocking Oliver cold and bringing him to Chase’s minions. I told you there were spoilers…

Oliver gets dragged in to where the rest of the hostages are, and Black Siren is more than happy to tell the group that Slade betrayed Oliver. The others hadn’t known William was on the island, and Oliver swears he won’t leave without him. Of course, they’re all chained up at the moment, so leaving is maybe more a goal than a real likely event.

The others keep making their way to the plane. Thea is sort of in shock and a bit numb about Malcolm’s apparent death. She and Felicity have a heart to heart about evil dads. It does seem like both their villainous fathers risked their lives to save their daughters, so I guess they can form a support group or something. Curtis comes back with an old Fantasy Island reference, and the joke seems a little insensitive for him given the timing. The Curtis and Felicity brain trust shortly discover that the entire island is rigged with hundreds, if not thousands, of bombs. Again, how many psychos does Chase have working for him? Doing that must have taken forever, especially as big as the island seems to be now.

They set this next bit up way back at Oliver’s birthday party, which was just last episode but feels a lot longer ago than that. Oliver has the gizmo Curtis made to help Dinah resist sonic dampers. I guess it’s a damper-damper? At any rate, once she gets it, she blasts their chains and frees everyone. This is about when Nyssa and Talia find each other and get into their big fight. Slade creeps in and kills Talia’s backup, and we learn that his “betrayal” was how Oliver got the device to Dinah. I’m not sure how he knew that was there, but I guess it was a good bet if they’re holding her prisoner. That or they were keeping her unconscious. Chase/Prometheus finally shows up and the two groups square off. Funny how the pretty much non-combat group ended up out at the plane. Chase goes to his two favorite refrains, that Oliver is ten steps behind him and that Oliver needs to kill Chase. This has to be the most elaborate “suicide by cop” scenario I’ve ever seen.

Somehow or other, Diggle and Rene’s general brawling skill lets them fight the ninja hordes, which I’m sorry, I just don’t buy. Dinah and Black Siren square off, and their powers clash violently, knocking each other backwards. Quentin gets some of his own back by punching out his daughter’s evil lookalike before she completely recovers. He also emphasizes that he’s ok with Dinah carrying on the Black Canary name. I still find it odd that no one has commented on the fact that Dinah (which lets face it is NOT a common name these days) has the same name as Quentin’s ex wife.

Team Felicity is not having a good time of things. They can’t figure out what triggers the bombs, and don’t have a nice little instant miracle to take them all out. Gee, if only they knew someone with super-speed… At any rate, the fight rages on between the other two groups. Chase is still taunting Oliver, who claims that he has made his decision and will not kill Chase no matter what. Chase ups the ante and says he already killed William. Felicity makes a timely warning via radio that she’s figured out that Chase has a deadman switch, so if Oliver does kill him the whole island blows. Chase manages to escape again as the good guys finish defeating the others. Oliver tells them to join Felicity at the plane, but he is going after Chase and won’t leave without his son, insisting that William is still alive.

Oliver somewhat improbably catches up with Chase and they end up on a small powerboat. They fight, and Chase drags William up out of the cabin, scared but very much alive. Nyssa finds that the plane has been sabotaged, so the rest of them aren’t going anywhere after all. Oliver ends the standoff with Chase by shooting him, but in the leg. Ok that was reasonably clever. William rushes to Oliver, huddling by his side. Chase, never one to lose gracefully, shoots himself. Now, if this was a villain gong all “You’ll never take me alive,” I’d be ok with it, but remember that deadman switch? The entire island explodes, with (deep breath): Diggle, Dinah, Felicity, Curtis, Rene, Quentin, Slade, Samantha, Thea, Nyssa, Talia, Artemis, Black Siren, Malcolm, and Boomerang still on it. Pretty much everyone but Oliver and William, who look on in horror. Now that is a major cliffhanger.

Flashback Theater, also on Lian Yu, features Oliver’s showdown with Kovar, Russian mobster from hell. Oliver defeats Kovar’s thugs, a helicopter, Kovar himself, and manages to set of the flare to attract his staged rescue. So hopefully that concludes THAT plotline. Also, since the damn island is now gone, maybe we’ve at least seen the end of the scenes here? Also, he faked at least some of his ragged appearance, including a big shaggy wig. No one noticed that?

What I liked: Oliver did a few clever things here. Bringing the damper-damper, coming up with the plan with Slade, those were great. Shooting Chase in the leg was a good idea, and I’m glad Oliver didn’t kill him, even with the aftermath. And that was a hell of a cliffhanger. I’m glad Nyssa beat Talia, and Malcolm sure showed the sincerity of his feelings about Thea.

What I didn’t: Where did Boomerang get the gun? For that matter, in the Flash team up, they made Boomerang such a badass he had to be put in Lian Yu, where only Slade was being kept. He sure wasn’t that good here. How’d Oliver know about the damper? It makes no sense that Malcolm and Nyssa left the weapons on the plane, and I don’t know what else they were unloading since they never used it. How big is Lian Yu supposed to be? It seems a lot bigger now than I had the impression when they started. William is going to be in therapy for years.

I’ll give the finale a 4 out of 5. There was a lot of good stuff here. And it’s going to be a long few months to see what happened. Speaking of:

Theories about the blast:

It’s possible everyone lived, but I kind of doubt they did something that cheap. It’s also possible everyone died, but that seems really remote at best. John Barrowman, who plays Malcolm, has publically stated he’s not coming back to Arrow, so I think Malcolm is really dead. Boomerang was right next to him, and they didn’t really do anything with him, plus he’s in the Suicide Squad movie franchise, so I’m betting he’s gone, too. They’ve just started developing Dinah and Rene, so I’m betting they lived. Killing Curtis would be a double minority issue, so he’s likely fine. And, of course, people would riot if they killed Felicity, and Diggle to a lesser extent. I’m hoping Artemis died, and it makes a lot of sense to me if Samantha does. I’m really not sure what to make of everyone else. So there are some theories to debate/discuss until season six.

Flash: Finish Line

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Things aren’t looking good for young love…

Flash hits the end of his season with “Finish Line,” the season three finale. The heroes need to find a way to defeat the menace of Savitar, which gets harder with Savitar being a future version of Barry Allen. So whatever plan they come up with, Savitar knows about from Barry’s memories. That’s a new wrinkle on time travel I don’t think I’ve run across before. There are some pretty big spoilers here, so be warned. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen it.

At the end of last episode, Savitar killed Iris. Everyone is horror-struck and grief-stricken. Things take a turn when Iris… drops drum sticks? Well, that’s something associated with someone else, and we learn that there was a switch. The dying “Iris” is HR, using his image projector, while the HR up on the roof is revealed to be Iris. Now it’s time for a quick flashback to see how this happened.

Last time, HR accidentally revealed where Iris was hidden, letting Savitar capture her. Overwhelmed with guilt, HR took the piece of Savitar’s armor Barry captured a while back, and used its property of being attracted to the rest of the armor to find their hideout. HR tried to rescue her on his own, and, when they were found out, used his image device to swap places. Fortunately for him, Killer Frost just blasted “HR,” now the disguised Iris, instead of killing her while recapturing Iris/HR.

Back in the very sad now, Tracy Brand rushes up, shocked, tears starting, saying they had just found each other. HR gasps out that he couldn’t be a coward, and that Tracy would be brilliant. He urges them to go stop Savitar and quietly dies. I did not remotely see this coming, but neither did Savitar. They also notice that Savitar took off with the Speed Force bazooka.

Killer Frost and Vibe’s showdown gets interrupted when Savitar shows up. While he was urging her to live up to her name before, now he tells her not to kill Vibe after all. Savitar requires Cisco’s unique genius to build something.

Barry, Iris, and Joe go back to the time vault. The newspaper from the future has changed, the by-line on the column now once again reading Iris West-Allen. The heroes are cautiously optimistic that they have saved Iris’ life. Meanwhile, Savitar gets a flood of confusing new memories as he “remembers” that Iris survived due to HR’s sacrifice.

Back at STAR, Julian is stunned to hear about HR’s death. Tracy wanders off to be alone with her grief. Barry says they need to try and figure out their next move. Savitar is still out there, so is Killer Frost, and Cisco is missing. The time paradox created by Iris’ survival and HR’s death should eventually wipe out Savitar, but they don’t know when. Julian also has news- he and Caitlin’s mother worked together and may have a cure for her Killer Frost issues.

Vibe is not exactly being a model prisoner, mocking Savitar and telling him he better have a plan B. Well, it turns out he does, and it includes Cisco modifying Tracy’s Speed Force bazooka. Savitar, again drawing on Barry’s knowledge and memories, comes up with a great threat to keep Cisco in line.

Barry talks with Iris and muses that there must be something better they can do about Savitar. To that end, he rushes off on his own to meet Savitar Barry makes a surprising offer, although I don’t understand how Savitar is surprised by it if he has all Barry’s memories. Maybe there’s a backwash from changing Iris’ death. Barry really does his best to live up to the heroic ideal in this scene. I’ve said this before, and will again: in the CW-verse, Green Arrow has taken Batman’s place as the Dark Avenger, and Flash occupies Superman’s spot as the Point of Hope.

Barry and Savitar go back to STAR Labs, and the team isn’t exactly happy to see them. There’s a lot of mutual mistrust and war of words. With both Cisco and Caitlin not available, Tracy is their best bet for scientific help, but following HR’s death, she’s not feeling charitable. What comes next is arguably cruel– the team gets Harrison Wells from Earth 2 to talk to her. I mean c’mom, she just lost the man she was falling in love with and his doppleganger comes to chat? Kinda messes with that acceptance stage of grief, I’d argue.

Savitar comments that it’s strange being back at STAR. Once again, things don’t quite make sense to me when he comments on something they haven’t done yet. Is he losing track of his memories, or just screwing with them at this point? Savitar starts asking a lot of biting, sarcastic questions about the deal Barry is trying to offer him, and Barry does the best he can. Savitar finally agrees to return Caitlin and Cisco, and speeds off to do that. In the wake of his departure, something happens that looks bad for STAR.

At Savitar’s hideout, Cisco once again tries to get through to Caitlin, and once again fails. Savitar returns, removing any doubt about what happened at STAR being an accident, and tells Killer Frost to get rid of Cisco. Fortunately, there’s a last minute intervention by Gypsy. While it’s cool she came back to help, I don’t quite get why she needed to save him if they have the same powers. Eventually, they end up at the West home. Amusingly, Cisco calls Savitar Two Face for his scars. I don’t know if that means there’s a Batman on this world after all, or if there are just Batman comics. Savitar, meanwhile, tells Caitlin not to worry about them, and that it’s time now.

Savitar and Killer Frost go on a lovely walk in the park. Just kidding, they are there to enact Savitar’s mad plan. First, they have a complication to deal with, as the Black Flash appears to stop Savitar. Turns out, Black Flash is very vulnerable to cold, which must be why Savitar recruited Killer Frost in the first place. Just as the portal is ready, there are more surprises for Savitar, who really doesn’t seem to know as much about his own past as he should. While Gypsy and Vibe take on Killer Frost, we get a scene that could’ve come right out of the comics as Flash and Kid Flash are joined by Jay Garrick to battle Savitar. We also see someone in the fight change sides, which is a help. There are some cool tricks in the fight, and Barry finally shows himself to be the hero he should be by refusing to go down the dark road. Savitar gets defeated by a really unexpected turn of events.

Later, the team gathers for HR’s funeral. I wonder if he had anyone back on his Earth they should tell? The gravestone has a great quote from Twain, and Barry shares Wells’ final worlds with Cisco, that Cisco gave him the strength to be a hero. At the end of the funeral, Caitlin makes a surprising decision to start setting up the cliffhangers for the big off-season break.

Barry and Iris finally go home and start making progress on their wedding. So all’s well that ends well, right? Of course not, how often do we get happy season finales? A huge storm starts outside, and it’s not normal. The multi-colored lightning is a big clue there. The storm gets accompanied by a small earthquake, further damaging poor STAR Labs. The team figures out that the energy disturbance is from the now-vacant speed force prison that Jay left to help out. Someone needs to go back. So someone does, in a huge surprise that suggests to me next season is going to at least start off by trying to save that person.

What I liked: I think we’re finally done with Savitar. I won’t miss him at all. It was great to see Gypsy and Jay both come back. The way that HR saved Iris was pretty clever. The big fight near the end was really well done. I’m so glad Barry is heeding Snart’s (of all people) advice to stay a hero.

What I didn’t: Savitar had some weird memory glitches which didn’t all make sense to me. I’m not sure why Gypsy needed to port Vibe away if he can do that, too. I’m saddened by HR’s death, and I don’t really like the big cliffhanger at the end. I’m really not sure how I feel about Caitlin’s decision.

It was a good episode. I’ll go a low 4 out of 5 for it. I really hope next season we get something that doesn’t involve an evil speedster. Flash has a lot of other foes.

Supergirl: Nevertheless She Persisted

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They really have grown on me as a couple

Supergirl gets to her second season finale with everything stacked against her. The writers aren’t even trying to be subtle anymore with their political analogies, titling this one, “Nevertheless, She Persisted.” This is a reference to the political controversy last year involving Senator Elizabeth Warren.

National City is covered by the Daxamite fleet. J’Onn is still out cold from Rhea’s gadget. Lillian Luthor is on the loose. But none of this is the Girl of Steel’s biggest problem as the episode starts. Rhea has a nasty surprise up her shiny sleeve. Superman has been compromised, and he’s attacking Supergirl without pulling any punches. What do you do when your only living relative is doing his best to pound you into the ground at the behest of the woman threatening your entire city?

Apparently there’s a new variation on an old threat now. Rhea has found silver kryptonite, which evidently induces hallucinations. Superman is convinced Supergirl is General Zod, a recurring Kryptonian enemy of the Man of Steel. The fight rages across the bridge of Rhea’s ship, out through the viewport, and then across the city. It’s an ugly, long, brutal affair that Supergirl ends up winning. I get that it’s her show, and I’m sure I’m going to draw some heat for this, but I don’t believe she won that one.

Superman is bigger than she is, which matters with roughly evenly matched foes. He’s been on Earth longer, has absorbed more yellow sun radiation over time, and has a lot more combat experience. He also has more time with their powers, and how to use them. He was fighting, in his mind, against one of his deadliest foes. Aside from “it’s her show,” I don’t see how she pulled that one off. She passes out after the fight, Alex rushing to her side.

After a lovely daydream of being back at her place with Mon-El, Kara wakes up in the Fortress of Solitude. From what Alex says, Kara got back up after passing out, grabbed Clark and Alex, flew them here, and passed out again. Superman wakes up, back to normal, and they plot out what to do next.

Lena, having narrowly escaped Daxamite captivity and forced marriage, is trying to unwind with a drink. Lillian comes in and starts to blame her for working with Rhea in the first place. They hurl blame at each other and continue the dysfunctional family dynamic we’ve come to expect from Clan Luthor. Eventually, they agree to work together on modifying one of Lex’s old anti-Superman weapons to drive the Daxamites off. Lillian, showing her skewed sense of priorities, exults that if they make this work, a Luthor will have saved the world.

Superman and Supergirl go through the Fortress’ archives, trying to come up with a way to stop the Daxamites. They also banter about Kel-Ex, the robot servant Kara was forced to destroy earlier in the season. Finally, they come up with an idea and return to the DEO, where Winn fanboys all over Superman. It’s even worse than Coulson with Captain America. Supergirl announces her plan, which Mon-El really doesn’t like. They don’t have a lot of other ideas, though, so Supergirl challenges Rhea to single combat, which she’s honor-bound to accept. Rhea looks annoyed, but agrees. While the others argue about what’s going to happen next, J’Onn gets an unexpected visitor and finally wakes up.

Cat Grant is covering the challenge in her usual sensational way, and J’Onn is worried that innocents are going to come watch and get hurt. Rhea hasn’t exactly displayed any concern for bystanders so far. Clark and Lois ask her to tone it down a bit, and she does, lured in by a promise of a later interview with Supergirl and her ongoing crush on Clark. Cat also expresses concern about James’ career as Guardian.

Superman and Supergirl get called to Lena’s, and the Luthors share their plan. The device was originally designed by Lex to fill the atmosphere with enough Krytponite to make Earth uninhabitable to Kryptonians. They plan to modify it to do that with lead for the Daxamites. Mind you, lead in the atmosphere isn’t good for humans, but they gloss over that point. Of course, if they go that route, it’ll get Mon-El, too.

No one loves this plan, but no one has a better one. So Supergirl will fight Rhea and they’ll keep the atmospheric machine in reserve. Supergirl and Superman go to spar and chat about their relationships. There’s still no explanation as to why she won the fight. But, on to the next fight!

For some reason or other, the fight is being held on a roof in the city. Seems perfectly safe to me. Supergirl is accompanied by Mon-El, and Rhea shows up with some general. After some opening threats and salutes, they leap at each other. Supergirl throws a lot of wild haymakers, which aren’t really ever a good idea in a fight. They batter each other back and forth all over the place, and then Rhea pulls a nasty surprise. She has a really unique medical condition. Around the city, Mon-El, Superman, and J’Onn go about fighting the invaders and saving people.

Meggan returns from Mars just in the nick of time, and she brought friends. This starts tipping things against the Daxamites. After a brutal beating, Supergirl somehow gains a new power and shrugs off Rhea’s trap, in one of the parts of the show that makes the least sense of anything I’ve seen so far. Lillian tries to backstab Lena and her friends yet again, but once again the heroes are smart enough to see it coming and take precautions. Rhea also proves to be completely untrustworthy, ranting about going after Metropolis and Star City next. Supergirl finally has no choice but to use the backup Lena rigged for them. There’s a very tearful farewell as Mon survives the activation, but has to leave. The last we see of him, it at least looks like he’s heading off for his fate with the Legion of Super Heroes.

Superman leaves to go back to Metropolis after saying goodbye to a stricken Supergirl. Alex offers her some kind words, and then Supergirl flies off. A nice little touch- the balcony that’s the scene of all this is still damaged from the fighting. Alex and Maggie have a chat that ends with something I loved and that will infuriate some people. J’Onn and Meggan get a good scene, too.

In Cat’s office, the big story is Lilian claiming credit for defeating the Daxamites. I’m not sure how she’s doing that since she’s still wanted for multiple felonies. Cat calls that fake news and then has a heart to heart with Kara about heartbreak and loss. Kara rushes off and we see that Cat knows one of the show’s big secrets. There’s a really creepy end scene that I think bodes ill for next season.

What I liked: The teamwork was great. I really like this version of Superman. It was great to see J’Onn back in action finally, and I loved Meggan showing up with her friends. It’s sad that Mon left, but I like what they seemed to be doing at the end. It’s great that Lena saw her mother’s betrayal coming. And Cat was in this one, too. I’m hoping this was the last we see of Rhea, much as I like Terri Hatcher.

What I didn’t: Where’s Guardian? He was a decent size part of the fight last time. Did he give up? Supergirl’s being able to suddenly ignore Rhea’s trick made even less sense than Supergirl beating Superman. Do they know lead is incredibly bad for humans, too? Unless Cat is staying, which seems unlikely, why is she redecorating the office? And have they really decided that Kara’s just not allowed to be in a relationship?

I thought this was a decent but uneven episode. It could have been better with a few small tweaks. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I’m looking forward to the return next season.

Arrow: Missing

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Bad family reunion for the Lances

Arrow has almost gotten to their finale, but first, they have to deal with the “Missing.” The news, good for once, is talking about Adrian Chase being behind bars. Quentin, Thea, and Oliver are in his office celebrating his new 70% approval rating. With the major threat dealt with, Quentin goes off to read Rene the riot act for not making it to the hearing for custody of his daughter. We also learn that today is Oliver’s birthday, and Thea teases him for having dinner plans with Felicity. Thea is also still moping about being such a dark and evil person.

Oliver goes to Felicity’s and sees the door ajar. There’s a shape near the door, and… let’s just say Curtis finds out why it’s not a good idea to give a surprise party for a martial arts/action hero type. There’s even a cartoony Green Arrow cake, which is amusing. Curtis has a new gadget to help Dinah with her Canary Cry, but she hasn’t shown up for the party. Lyla and JJ are in Chicago, visiting family, and Diggle tells Oliver all is well on the family front. Quentin shows up with a gift, and reports that Rene is not home with newspapers piled up at his door. Aside from that, there’s nothing but good news and plans for their “summer break,” which seems like an in joke for the end of the season. I guess bad guys take summers off in Star City. Oliver’s wild summer plans include buying socks. Oliver and Felicity even get a few quiet moments. With everything going that well this early in the episode, you know badness is coming.

After the party, Felicity and Curtis are on the phone, and he’s being not at all subtle about pushing for Felicity and Oliver to get back together. Their banter is interrupted when Curtis gets to Dinah’s place and sees the front door broken. He goes in to check on things, and shows why he’s better in the lab than in the field. Felicity hears him getting captured by people we never really see.

Diggle and Oliver respond to Felicity’s call and check the place out, carefully, guns drawn, much better than Curtis did. They find signs of a struggle and Curtis’ phone, but no sign of Curtis or Dinah. With these ominous developments, they reassess their idea that Rene skipped out on his custody hearing. Chase is still in his cell according to Felicity, and Oliver finds a clue that points to Talia al-Ghul. Oliver tells Diggle to get everyone else to safety. You know it’s bad when the superheroes need protective custody.

Oliver goes to Chase’s cell for an utterly unproductive series of threats and smirking. Then he goes back to the Lair, which is mostly empty aside from Felicity with a really big gun. She must have been raiding Diggle’s stash. Everyone else is supposedly safe with ARGUS, but Oliver wants Felicity to stay with him to help find Dinah, Rene, and Curtis. Felicity is a bit freaked out at this idea. Oliver is worried about his son, William, who we saw apparently getting grabbed by Chase a few episodes ago. Then they get worse news- Black Siren is no longer in ARGUS custody. Chase is fighting dirty.

Thea and Quentin complain about being bored in the safehouse. The agents protecting them go down like good little redshirts and Quentin gets a really nasty shock. They never did tell him about Black Siren, who, of course, is the Earth 2 version of his dead daughter Laurel. We’re lucky that supposed heart condition of Quentin’s that everyone seems to have forgotten about didn’t kick in and kill him. Siren is accompanied by Evelyn/Artemis, and is mockingly cruel to Quentin.

Oliver and Felicity (not sure bringing her is a good idea, but then, nowhere seems safe right now) get to the safehouse, meet with Diggle, and realize who the bad guys were. Still think not telling Quentin was a good plan? Oliver decides he needs to do something unpredictable, since Chase knows everything Oliver is going to do, so he tells Diggle and Felicity to get out of town. When you’re under attack, dividing your forces is generally a bad plan, a basic tenet of tactics which Oliver seems to have lost track of.

Oliver goes back to Chase’s cell and beats on him. He also pulls a gun on him, which is pointless, since they both know, and even talk about, the fact that Oliver won’t kill him. Chase continues to smirk through the threats, mentions he’s being transferred to Idaho tonight (Idaho is safer?), and tells Oliver he needs to release Chase before then or everyone they’ve captured will die. So, now we have a deadline to make things more tense.

Locked in the back of a truck, Thea tells Quentin about the multiple Earths and dopplegangers. She also points out that, in a world with metahumans and alien invasions, this really isn’t all that unbelievable. Their scene ends with Black Siren and Artemis telling them, ominously, that they have a surprise for the captives.

Diggle and Felicity debate what to do next as they drive out of town. Oliver stalks through the Lair, alone, looking at the wall of costumes. With everything going on, I don’t see why Oliver’s still in civilian clothes. If nothing else, the costumes are armored. And, for the record, I’m still annoyed there’s no spot for Roy’s costume. Or Wildcat’s, come to that. Oliver is being stalked, and he ends up having a confrontation with an unlikely person who has come to help. As they play the “Why should I trust you?” game, Felicity and Diggle get captured in a really badly done car crash scene. Cars do NOT explode when they hit something, and random dirt ramps do not make Dukes of Hazzard style jumps happen.

Oliver and his ally of convenience go to the scene of the accident, and find nothing useful. It just gives them a new place to argue about methods, means, and how far they’re willing to go. Their debate gets ended when the Marshals call Oliver (why Federal Law Enforcement is reporting to a city mayor, I’m not sure) to tell him they’re moving Chase.

Quentin and Black Siren have something of an argument. She might actually be feeling bad about capturing her father’s lookalike. She makes a really weak argument for her side of the case. As this goes on, Chase taunts Oliver more while he’s being prepped to be moved. Oliver then gets a phone call that puts even more pressure on him.

This finally spurs Oliver and his “friend” to attack the Marshals and let Chase go. Chase takes off (of course he knows how to fly a helicopter). Oliver goes back to the lair, where he brings in another odd choice for an ally. The two others don’t get along at all, and Oliver basically tells them they need to knock it off.

The prisoners, oddly absent Dinah and Rene, are chained together on what I believe is Lian Yu. Chase, Black Siren, Artemis, and the horde of ninjas are all there. Oliver is apparently elsewhere on the island, making another deal for more help.

Flashback Theater is Oliver being tortured by Dragonov. It’s a good excuse for Dragonov to be shown as utterly evil, and Oliver to hallucinate some of his dead friends. Eventually, he escapes. Again, I think this was irrelevant and they could have used the screen time for something better.

What I liked: The birthday party was entertaining, and I like that Oliver and Felicity aren’t growling at each other anymore. I’m also glad Diggle said he and Lyla were good, and that Rene actually did apparently have a good reason for not making the hearing. The Green Arrow cake was funny, and I was amused by the in-jokes about summer break.

What I didn’t:  If they’d been really clever, they would have said Lyla was in Central City, not Chicago, as we saw on this week’s Flash. As desperate as things are, there is NO good reason for Oliver not to have contacted Team Flash, Roy Harper, Katana, or Wildcat (if he’s alive, and no, I’m not letting that go). Even on the island, when Oliver goes making deals with the devil, he ignores someone there that could be helpful, and not much worse than the collection he already has. Flashback Theater really needs a holiday, or to be done with completely. And I still want to know what happened to Vigilante.

I really wasn’t hugely impressed with this episode. I’ll give it a very low 3 out of 5.

Flash: Infantino St.

Cold

Hey, Barry, I thought you weren’t supposed to time travel any more?

The penultimate episode of Flash for the season is here with “Infantino Street.” Carmine Infantino is a legendary DC Comics writer. Among his many credits is creating the Silver Age version of the Flash, Barry Allen. So it was a really nice nod to Barry’s own creator, although I’m not sure how he’d feel about the street where Iris is supposed to die being named after him.

The episode start with a countdown: 24 Hours Until Iris West Dies. On that cheery note, we bounce between the different characters who are working on things and watching the clock. Tracy Bond and HR are working on her formula and fueling up on coffee. Cisco is at his computer, and gets a text from Felicity that she hasn’t found anything for him (nice touch there), and Joe and Wally are looking at pictures of Iris. Iris herself is in the loft with Barry. She sends him off to hunt for caviar, which I thought at the time was just a distraction. It was, and she starts recording a video message for him once he’s gone.

Later, Barry and Iris are getting dressed when Barry gets an excited call from Cisco, saying he has good news. Barry and Cisco meet with Lyla Diggle, director of ARGUS. They end up meeting outside, Lyla sighting concerns about the building being bugged. Cisco tells her they have found a unique power source they desperately need, and it’s in the ARGUS building. Lyla is annoyed that they’ve been spying on her, and then tells them the device is from the Dominator invasion back during the big crossover of all the shows. She also tells them that, with Barry’s record of unintentionally changing history and other such mistakes, she’s not giving the device to them. Barry, desperate, tells her about Iris’ impending death. Lyla feels badly, but won’t change her mind and tells them to find another way. Boy, do they take that advice to heart.

Barry tells the STAR team what’s going on, and that Lyla won’t cooperate. I salute both the writers and the characters that they don’t try to get to John Diggle to appeal to her. Barry talks about going in to steal the device, which is when Cisco points out all the security systems, including a series of power dampers that negate all meta-human powers. So, no phasing through the walls and just grabbing the gizmo. They wonder about hiding Iris somewhere, and Barry says there’s nowhere Savitar wouldn’t find her. Desperate, Barry decides on a new course of action.

Cut to, 1892 Siberia. Can’t use powers and need to steal something? In Barry’s world, that means one man: Leonard Snart, A.K.A. Captain Cold. Barry catches up with him away from the other Legends, before his death in their timeline (time travel is confusing). Cold demands to know why Barry needs his particular help, and Barry finally tells him. “True love? That’s your pitch?” asks the ever-sardonic Captain. He tells Barry there’s one condition: work by his rules.

At STAR, HR spins a very outlandish plan based on movies more than possibility. Then Barry comes in, Captain Cold in tow, and surprises everyone. Snart goes down to the lab to get what he needs, while Barry tries to explain what’s going on to everyone. He promises to put Cold back where he got him after all this is over.

Savitar is tinkering with his armor wherever the big hideout is. Killer Frost struts in, impressed with the armor. She questions Savitar’s willingness to kill Iris, since Savitar is a version of Barry, after all. He wonders if she’s having second thoughts, and then Savitar gets memory flashes of Barry and the team’s new plan, then laughs it off.

Snart lays out his four rules for every job. 1) Make the plan, 2) execute the plan, 3) expect it go off the rails, and 4) throw away the plan. He makes a joke about not being put at the singles’ table at Barry and Iris’ reception. When HR brings Tracy up the main room and tries to cover her face, because Barry is once again in costume with no mask, Barry tells him not to worry about it. Yep, the CW heroes suck at the secret identity thing. Barry tells Joe and Wally to take Iris someplace far away and not tell him where. Iris warns Barry to not lose himself in his big “do whatever it takes” push.

They do find a good place to hide Iris: Harrison Wells’ lab on Earth 2. I admit that should throw off even Savitar. While they go there, Barry keeps glancing at his watch. Snart asks what the countdown is, and Barry tells him it’s how long they have until they lose.

At ARGUS, Lyla flies off to a meeting. Just after she leaves, Lyla brings in Captain Cold as a prisoner. The somewhat confused guard walks her through the security check in, which she really should know, and then part of the “go off the rails” kicks in when there’s a password and counter-phrase they didn’t know about. Lyla vaults over the security counter and drops all the guards. Finally, she straightens up and turns off the image projector HR has used in the past, back before they apparently forgot about the issue with him being confused with a murderer. “Lyla” of course was Barry, although I’ve never seen him fight like that before. Inside the building, in theory, Barry isn’t supposed to have his powers, so couldn’t use his speed in the fight. Cold mocks him for being so violent at his age.

There’s a much slower, more emotional scene over on Earth 2. Joe is cleaning his gun (how he knows he isn’t about to need it, I’m not sure) while Iris watches. They talk about her childhood, each confessing a few things they did wrong, then sing and dance sweetly together. Iris brings the mood down by taking off Barry’s grandmother’s ring and asking Joe to return it to him, just in case.

The Cold/Flash caper continues as they pass by various cells, including Grodd, Cheetah, and Cupid. Barry muses this must be where Waller kept her Suicide Squad. With the way DC’s been cracking down on that, I’m surprised they allowed the reference. Eventually, they find the vault with the power source in it. The vault has a really impressive lock on it that Cisco babbles about being uncrackable, while it takes Cold all of 37 seconds to open it. The lock, it turns out, isn’t really the issue. The huge and angry King Shark behind the door is. I’m not sure how this is working. King Shark registered on Cisco’s metahuman ap when he first appeared, but now he’s apparently fine in the middle of a building that has metahuman dampers all over it. Either King Shark should be reverting to human (or a shark, I suppose), or Barry should have his powers.

Cold and The Flash debate what to do next, and end up going off a plan devised by Cold’s love of Shark Week. Sounds like a sound basis to risk your lives on to me. They drop the temperature in King Shark’s vault, creating a lot of fog, dropping King Shark into a coma, and disabling Cold’s gun. They also get a shot of the King Shark’s fin moving through the fog ala Jaws.

While Tracy and HR rhapsodize about coffee and working together, Cold and Flash get into the vault. Although the Dominator tech looks like a huge thing, Barry just pulls the core out of it, which is apparently good enough. King Shark recovers, and Barry makes it out as the door closes. Cold doesn’t. Barry could just take off, but of course stays to save Snart. He gets the good Captain out, after a joke about Snart putting in a good word for Cisco with his sister, but they get surrounded by ARGUS agents, because once again, Barry is powerless even though King Shark just regrew a hand. Snart’s sister, Lisa, is a villainess who has had an on again, off again thing with Cisco.

Lyla berates Barry for breaking in, and then gives him the device. Barry impressed her by staying to save Snart. At that point, I’d be wondering why she hadn’t just given me the damn thing in the first place. Barry returns Snart to the right time, and Snart shows that occasional sentimental side. He has a decent theory about why he and Barry get along, and then tells him that the Flash should remain a hero.

Savitar ends up capturing Iris after some particularly brilliant trickery on his part. He blows through the resistance of Kid Flash, Harrison Wells, and Joe West. They really seem to have a thing for stabbing speedsters in the legs on this show. HR blames himself, and he has some call to, in my opinion.

After reassuring everyone, Barry Flashes off for his date with destiny. HR looks like he’s about to go do something drastic, and Cisco goes off to fight Killer Frost. Hopefully this goes better than what we learned about in the future. Barry waits on Infantino Street, and then Savitar shows up with Iris and does his villain monologue about how she has to die. Flash surprises him with Tracy’s weapon… and it fails. The episode ends on an ugly note as we hear Iris’ earlier video message. It’d be a fine place for a season finale cliffhanger, but there’s one more episode to go.

What I liked: I always applaud any time they bring back Captain Cold. Wentworth Miller does an amazing job with him. He and Flash working together was great. I liked Cold’s parting words to Barry. Bringing Iris to Earth 2 was a great idea that probably should have worked. Tracy and HR amuse me as a couple. I’m glad Cisco got into costume this episode. I hope he fares better than in the future we saw a bit ago. I liked that they used the Dominator tech as the power source, that was a nice callback to an earlier story.

What I didn’t: Joe cleaning his gun was a weird choice. “Someone is going to try and kill my daughter, let me make it so I can’t use my weapon.” I mentioned the issues with Barry and King Shark’s powers above. I’m not sure when we’re supposed to believe Barry became a master fighter. We’ve never seen him train in that. I get Joe’s gun not working on Savitar’s armor, but I expected better of Harrison’s gadgets.

This episode had some great ideas and some odd fails. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. What are they doing for a finale?

Supergirl: Resist

 

cat

Guess Who’s Back!!

Supergirl is almost at her season finale, and it’s a really impressive build up. There’s a mounting threat, uneasy alliances, missing heroes, and revelations about characters we’ve seen before. They manage to pack a lot into “Resist.”

Lena wakes up after the fight last episode, and doesn’t get good news. She’s on a Daxamite ship, Rhea is holding her prisoner, and Rhea is still spouting crazy talk about Supergirl. Boy, the woman holds a grudge. She calls Earth a planet of “wasted potential” and is going to make society worthy of Lena.

This takes the form of a massive invasion, as the Daxamite fleet pounds National City, and troops start beaming down all over. Rhea does a holographic address to the city, her fine-sounding claims very much at odds with the violence throughout the city. I’m really confused about the troops we keep seeing. They’re tough, but not bulletproof. They’re nowhere near strong enough to be Daxamites, but what else would Rhea be using? Maybe they’re robots of some kind. Maggie gets a good action scene as she faces several of them down at the police station.

The DEO is being overwhelmed by all the alien signals, then they get overwhelmed in a new way as more of the soldiers transmat in. Over all, the DEO doesn’t do well with this, although we get to see Alex in full kick-ass mode. Even she is forced to retreat, taking a big chance on the way out, but her sister shows up in the nick of time.

Mon-El isn’t doing really well, either. He’s a prisoner on Rhea’s ship, and she’s not at all interested in his opinions of Earth or its people. Rhea is very much acting the royal mother/dictator, and Mon doesn’t get a say. Despite the fact that he’s been on Earth under the yellow sun much longer than any of these others, he doesn’t seem particularly stronger than they are, and his training with Supergirl doesn’t seem to have done him much good, either. Rhea seems oddly confident about Supergirl not interfering with her plans.

Most of the rest of the cast is holed up at Alien Cheers. Somehow, Winn is there, although how he got out of the DEO as the troops stormed it is never explained. J’Onn is still out cold from whatever weird device Rhea used on him last episode, and there’s no word of Superman. Maggie and Guardian are fighting in the streets, so there’s still some resistance going on. They get an offer for help in the unlikely form of Lillian Luthor. On the one hand, you can’t trust her at all, but on the other, alien invasion is what’s she’s built her whole hate movement against. It’s her dream come true, and a chance for her to say, “I told you so.”

The scene with Lillian is very tense. No one in the room has any reason to trust her, but she makes some good points. She also mentions the Daxamites having kryptonite cannons, which isn’t good news for our resident caped hero. Lillian wants to save Lena, just like she knows Supergirl wants to save Mon-El. They finally get Lillian to leave without any kind of agreement.

Rhea sets up a blockade, isolating National City. I wonder why she’s so focused here. Because Supergirl live here? Or Mon-El? This is when we get a return visit from President Marston, as played by Lynda Carter. It’s an amusing name for her. Carter, of course, is best known for playing Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston. A nice nod to comics history, there. Marston and Rhea argue over a comm channel until someone pops up to play peacemaker- the long-absent Cat Grant. Rhea and Cat bicker a bit, and Cat makes a cutting (Catty?) remark about Rhea’s tiara. Rhea, ever reasonable, launches an attack. First the fighter escort, then Air Force One itself get hit. Supergirl saves Cat, and, as they land amid the wreckage, they learn that Marston herself is an alien, and has also survived. Marston says she guesses she owes them an explanation, and the unflappable Cat shoots back, “Tell me you’re still a Democrat.”

Among the things I don’t like here: the intense scrutiny someone running for President gets means there’s no way I buy she managed to fool everyone. I’m glad Cat and Marston survived, but no one seems to care a bit that all the fighter pilots, crew, and Secret Service agents have been killed. There’s not even a passing mention of that, which just seems unlike Supergirl and most of her friends.

There are happy reunions back at Alien Cheers. Winn seems especially happy to see Cat. Cat was in Washington DC when the Daxamites attacked, and of course, she knows the President, because Cat knows everyone. Apparently, they were in college together. Marston talks to Alex, Supergirl, and Winn about her past and coming to Earth when her planet was invaded. The writers keep the links going to the Legion of Super Heroes, as Marston claims to be from Durla, a planet of shapeshifters. Durla is the home of Chameleon Boy in the Legion. It would explain how Marston was able to pass herself off as human for so long, although Durlans can become anything or anyone. Marston seems to have very limited powers in comparison.

Rhea is still pushing ahead with her plan to combine human and Daxamite society, but she’s not getting any cooperation from her prisoners, not that I blame them. Rhea continues to show how reasonable she is; she demands compliance and focuses the fleet’s weapons on Luthor Family Children’s Hospital. She’s seeming more and more like a villain out of a 1920’s movie serial.

After her bombshell revelations, President Marston is packed off back to DC with a few trusted DEO agents. One of those shockers was that there’s a massive proton cannon on the roof of the DEO, which even Winn didn’t know about. The President orders them to power it up and blast the Daxamites, regardless of who is prisoner up there. Supergirl, appalled, goes to Alien Cheers’ infamous back alley to think, and bumps into Cat. They have another of their heartfelt mentor/mentee scenes that I’ve actually missed. Advice delivered, Cat says first, “Now, shoo, up, up, and away, no time to lose,” then, as the Girl of Steel flies off, “That is still so cool.” I missed Cat.

A desperate Supergirl goes to Cadmus. She, Lillian, and Hank Henshaw/Cyborg game a plan to get up to the fleet and rescue the prisoners before the DEO atomizes them. While those three mount their raid, Alex will infiltrate the DEO and get the cannon armed. They talk about needing to distract Rhea, and Cat volunteers. There’s also a small confrontation between Winn and Henshaw. Alex pulls Kara aside and tells her that the cannon will even kill her if she’s up there when it goes off. This both ups the tension and shows how powerful the weapon is.

The raid is staged from the Fortress of Solitude, using a tinkered-with Phantom Zone Projector. We also find out why Lillian has kept Kara’s secret from Lena. I have to admit, her motivations are in character. Lilian really is an evil, manipulative witch.

While Rhea pushes forward on her plan, Winn does a babbling, painful job of trying to cover for James and Kara when Cat asks where they are. Cat isn’t happy about James’ remodeling of her office. Her distraction is masterful, really ticking off Rhea, including calling her Tiara Woman in passing. I kind of liked that line.

The Away Team gets on to the Daxamite ship, and Hank manages to cloak them from the alien sensors. They fight their way among the guards, trying to find the prisoners. Lillian actually calls Supergirl “useful” which is a rare compliment. Lena and Mon-El stage their own escape. Alex and Maggie sneak in to the DEO, with the President backseat driving via communicator.

The two groups meet up on the ship, after Lena and Mon impress each other. Lena is doubly stunned, that Lillian came at all, and with Supergirl at that. We get the expected Luthor double-cross, but Supergirl and Winn had it covered in a brilliant counter-stroke. Everyone gets off except Supergirl, who decides to go give Rhea another chance to surrender. Ok, I like the show being generally positive and not all dark/grim like Arrow usually is, but there comes a point, Kara. Really.

The last few scenes are some good ones. Cat and Winn get attacked by alien troops, and Cat says, “Well, it’s been nice knowing you,” to Winn just before Guardian smashes through the window (not sure from where since they’re so high up) to save the day. Guardian’s secret ID lasts about as long as the fight because Cat is very perceptive. The President orders Alex to fire the cannon. Supergirl confronts Rhea and gets a really nasty shock that explains one of the loose ends from earlier. The cliffhanger they leave us on is going to make for a hell of a season finale .

What I liked: It was good that everyone contributed to the effort. I get the alliance of necessity with Lillian and Supergirl. It was good to see Marston again, and even better to see Cat return. “Tiara Woman” still makes me laugh. I like that Lena and Mon didn’t just wait to get rescued; they’re both better than that. The doublecross and Winn and Kara’s counter was really nicely done.

What I didn’t: The gizmo keeping J’Onn out of action seemed like a cheap way to keep a powerful ally off-screen. When it comes up several times that people are worried if Kara is fast enough to get everything done, how does no one think of calling Flash for help? Sorry, but if you carefully build a shared universe, people like me are going to remember it’s a shared universe. Where are all the powerful and dangerous prisoners the DEO is holding during all this? Why is Mon relatively powerless, when he’s been about at Supergirl’s level until now?

It was a good episode with some really good bits. I’ll give it a 4 out of 5, and I’m so glad Cat is back.

Arrow: Honor Thy Father

arrow

There are some very concrete reasons to not like Prometheus

Team Arrow is very much having a season where they just can’t win no matter what they do. They’ve finally proven to the world at large that Prometheus (still being called the Throwing Star Killer by the press, a much less cool name) is Adrian Chase. That should be a banner day, shouldn’t it? Well, when you reveal the former District Attorney of a major city is a crazed serial killer, defense attorneys start collectively licking their lips and rubbing their hands. As a result of this latest scandal in Star City, a judge has released 36 violent felons back out on the street. Just what the reeling city needs.

Still processing that piece of bad news, Oliver gets another shock. SWAT tells him they need to clear City Hall, because a mysterious package has arrived in Oliver’s office. The sender name is Simon Morrison, Adrian Chase’s birth name. Oliver ignores everyone, pushes past the police, and opens the crate. Inside is a concrete slab with a badly decomposed body in it. Dinah, in her useful (if improbable) secret identity as a Star City Police Officer, manages to ID the body as Henry Goodwin, a former city councilman from the Glades. Everyone is puzzled, as there are no known links between Goodwin, who has been missing for years, and either Oliver or Adrian/Simon.

Down in the Lair, the team is in crisis mode, but I’m having trouble remembering when they weren’t. Some of them are out on the street, following the newly released criminals. Dinah is trying to follow up leads on the dead councilman. Oliver and Felicity at least seem to be on better terms than they have in a while, likely from last episode’s shared near death experience.

The writers of the show finally remember Thea can do more than be “out of town” and she comes back to Oliver’s office to say hi. Her timing is horrible, as Dinah and Quentin (why a deputy mayor is doing an investigation, I don’t know, but they don’t sweat that kind of thing much on this show) have come up with a suspect in Goodwin’s death. Unfortunately, it’s Robert Queen, Oliver’s dad and Thea’s… what do you call someone who raised you as their own not knowing you were the product of your wife having an affair? Step dad doesn’t seem to cut it.

Quentin is sure that Robert is being framed. With all she’s learned, even Thea doesn’t really believe this. Oliver is sure this is all part of some elaborate head-game of Prometheus’. Oliver, because that’s his default setting now, talks about a press conference. Between press conferences on this show and business meetings in Iron Fist, it really is the age of the corporate hero.

Rene and Quentin, who seem to be bonding in spite of themselves, get their own scene when Rene tells Quentin that he’s got a hearing about custody of his daughter. As they share good news, Felicity figures out where the concrete probably came from. Spartan and I’m-dressed-in-black-so-I’m-not-Green-Arrow go to check it out. They don’t find a clue, but they do trigger a really elaborate death trap involving trap doors and fresh concrete. I think this might be the first comic book villain style trap I’ve seen on the series.

Dinah and Curtis get pulled off watching Derek Sampson, the thug made into a metahuman by Wild Dog a while back, to go save Oliver and Diggle. There’s a lot of arguing about Chase’s motives and who is in on what as the rescue happens. Finally, they get a lead on a lawyer called Kaufman, who has ties to both Oliver’s and Chase’s fathers. Are they finally getting somewhere?

No, of course not. Chase really seems to have attained a ridiculous level of knowledge about Star City and the Queen family. I still don’t know how he learned about the Legends team. At any rate, under yet another name, Chase has been in contact with Kaufman and gave him a video to give to Oliver, because Chase knew Oliver would find out. Because Chase knows everything. Have I mentioned I’m getting a bit sick of Chase?

Oliver votes for destroying the video, with the logic that, if Chase wants him to see it, then he will refuse to. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea or Oliver acting like an angry child. Felicity warns Oliver that the team has tracked Samson to another chemical company. As Oliver rushes off to deal with that, Thea sits down at the computer.

To fill the action quota for the show, there’s a fight between Team Arrow and Sampson’s thugs. Weirdly, Black Canary is using a gun in this fight. Between her powers, her fighting skill, and her staff, I’m not sure why she’s adding gunslinger to her resume. Maybe she’s been hanging around with Rene and John too long. The fight gets wrapped up and Thea leaves an urgent message for Oliver. Of course she watched the video, and of course it’s more bad news.

Oliver and Thea spend a scene feeling sorry for themselves at the latest development about their father (for lack of a better term). Oliver muses on Robert’s bit about “I’m not the man you think I am.” Thea calls herself a monster and reflects on Malcolm being her father. Felicity texts with updates on the case, mercifully ending the scene.

Since chemistry is a science that keeps improving, it turns out the chemicals Chase is stealing are going to make an even worse bio-agent than his father’s original plan. Felicity and Curtis techno-babble a lot and work out a way to trace some of the chemicals. Rene is freaked out about a hearing for his daughter. I guess he thought the court would just hand her over if he showed up. Quentin tries to reassure him, but I don’t think Rene is listening.

Oliver watches a different video from his father, one that helped launch his crusade years ago. Felicity sympathizes with him about the pressure he’s under, but says that as long as your dad got you started on this and you’re making a difference, who really cares why? Personally, I think that’s a good point. Turns out Oliver has been hiding a video from Thea all this time, too. The detector beeps, and points them at a new location: The Robert Queen Applied Sciences Center. Irony alert!

It’s showdown time, as Team Arrow faces off with Chase and his not so merry men. While the lower ranks clash and Mr. Terrific deals with the doomsday weapon, Oliver (as Green Arrow again, finally) fights Prometheus in a stairwell. I really thought this was a decoy at first, since Prometheus is largely silent for most of the fight. Usually, he won’t shut up. Oliver finally beats him with the same twisted emotional logic that led to the “MARTHA” moment in “Batman v Superman: Zach Snyder is Still Afraid of Color.”

Things end in a series of ups and downs. The team celebrates their win, which is long overdue. Oliver gives Thea the video from Robert, and she watches it. It’s actually a good thing. Less good is the hearing for custody of Zoe Ramirez, Rene’s daughter. Oliver, naturally, gives a press conference about recent events, which Chase watches from his new ARGUS cell with a smirk on his face. That bodes ill.

They did a better than usual job on the title this time. With all the family drama flying around “Honor Thy Father” seemed very appropriate.

Flashback theater is seemingly increasingly unneeded. Most of this week’s is Oliver and Anatoli setting up Oliver’s “rescue” from Lian Yu. The last few pieces for when the show started get put in place, but then Oliver gets a surprise right at the very end. Ok, I didn’t see that one coming.

What I liked: Oliver is finally back in costume, and Chase is finally behind bars. Those two things right there make it a great episode as far as I’m concerned. It’s nice to see Oliver and Felicity back on better terms. I’m still expecting they’re going to get back together eventually. The judge letting all the criminals out sucked for the team, but made a certain degree of sense. I’m also glad the team, collectively, didn’t try and bury the revelations this week.

What I didn’t: Of all the bad guys the team has faced, we get a rematch with Sampson? Don’t get me wrong, he fights ok, but he’s just not that interesting. The show has done this kind of thing before, but what the heck happened to Vigilante? He’s just… gone, without a word. Did Prometheus kill him in that last encounter? If so, where’s the body and the news? And who was he? I have to admit, I’m sick of both Chase and Queen family drama. It’s like Dallas with costumes.

I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5. There’s a bit of time before the finale, so I’m curious to see what nasty surprise Chase has to build up for the cliffhanger. If he doesn’t have one, this could easily have been a season finale that went out on a high note for once.

Flash: Cause and Effect

flash

I don’t want to know what kind of dentists he goes to…

 

“Cause and Effect” begins where “I Know Who You Are” stopped. The Flash confronts Savitar, who has been revealed as a future, evil, scarred Barry Allen. They talk about Savitar’s origin, which, to no great surprise, revolves around Iris’ death. Savitar is also a time remnant, so he has the additional strain of not quite being real. They end up in a big confrontation, and we learn that Savitar has a few really cool tricks that Flash doesn’t.

Back at STAR, Barry shares what he has learned with the team. Cisco, of course, starts riffing on old Star Trek episodes. They also figure out what the message from Barry of the future was about back during the Alien Crossover. Cisco maps out a somewhat confusing timeline of Savitar’s history as they now know it. They send HR to go check on Tracy’s progress on the speed trap, and Wally comes up with a great question.

As the team goes to do various things, Barry sits on the prop that looks like the comic’s Cosmic Treadmill. Iris comes to talk, and asks what the other Barry was like. They talk about what kind of person Barry is, and what may have made him Savitar. Barry also muses on the difference between a speedster and a god. Cisco comes in and says he has either the best or worst idea ever.

They’ve built a very fancy set up around a chair, and Barry jokes they’re going to give him a perm. Cisco’s brainstorm is that, if Savitar’s being a step ahead all the time is based on his memories being Barry’s, to stop Barry forming new memories. Unfortunately, as they point out, their bio-sciences expert was Caitlin, who’s currently giving them all the cold shoulder. The machine works… just a bit too well. Barry gets completely mind wiped. He doesn’t know anyone on the team, or his own name. Remember that best/worst idea thing? I know which way I’m voting.

The series of reactions to Barry not knowing anything was priceless, and a good acting job by Grant Gustin. From not knowing his team, or why he was at STAR Labs, to the reaction on hearing Wally was his brother, it was several great comedic takes. On a more serious note, Cisco and Joe try and figure out what happened and how to fix it. Cecile then calls and says she urgently needs to speak with Barry, just to make things more tense.

For an indication as to how well Tracy’s work is going, she’s yelling at her tools when HR comes in to check on her. Amid awkward scenes, they agree to name the device the Speed Force Bazooka (again, stepping on Cisco’s toes as naming guy). They also realize the depth of their mutual attraction and do their best to ignore it.

At the CCPD, Barry introduces himself as Bart, apparently the name his new self prefers. Cecile looks a bit surprised. That gets worse when they give her a rough explanation about what happened, leaving “Bart” totally confused. The emergency she needed Barry for was an emergency hearing for an arsonist going by Heat Monger. Great, now they’re being named after kids’ cartoons. Clearly, Barry is in no shape to testify. In the real world, that would be cause for a continuance. Here, it leads to low comedy and bad ideas.

After everyone else leaves, Barry sits on the couch worried that everyone is upset, even if he doesn’t quite get why. He and Iris talk for a bit, and we get a hint that Barry’s powers are at least buzzing away in the background. As all this goes on, Killer Frost finds out that Savitar has changed, too.

Iris tries to catch Barry up on what his life has been like before today. Bart is not impressed with Barry’s choices in high school. Iris notices that Bart is a lot lighter and happier than Barry. Then, they find out the hearing can’t be rescheduled and make the brilliant choice to have Bart go testify. He went by himself, which makes me wonder how the amnesiac Bart knew how to get there. They end up pulling a Cyrano de Bergerac style trick that works out like you’d expect on a bad sitcom. Heat Monger goes free.

Back at STAR, there are more problems. Apparently in some sort of time paradox, Savitar’s not having any memory means he never did most of the things he did, including giving Wally his speed, so Central City is fresh out of speedsters with Jesse being away on Earth 3. While this chaos goes on, Barry and Iris have gone back to their loft, and Barry asks something I’ve been wondering about for a while. They kiss, and his powers kick in, with no real hint of control whatever.

Barry is very excited about his powers, and they go back to STAR, where Killer Frost has turned up. She’s willing to help the team, since it will restore Savitar and she’s sure Savitar will eventually win. Reluctantly, the team agrees.

HR and Tracy continue being awkward until she just goes ahead and kisses him. He babbles in the aftermath, which is no surprise, as he’s usually babbling. Must be all the coffee. But this time, it’s useful, and gives her an idea to finish the bazooka.

Killer Frost agrees to help the others, but with a fair amount of mocking and scorn. Not at all subtly, Cisco tries to remind her of the good times she’d had in the building as Caitlin. He does get her to finish one of his stories for him, but aside from that, there’s not a lot of headway. Meanwhile, down in the Speed Lab, Barry is very excited about his powers and zipping around the track while Joe and Iris talk about the odd situation.

Things get more tense when the recently-freed Heat Monger strikes again. He was out what, a few whole hours? He lights a high-rise on fire, and Barry decides he has to go, even as inexperienced as he suddenly is. Finally, due to a combination of guilt about the people in danger and Iris talking him through some painful memories, Barry gets his memories back, and, as the effects ripple up the timestream, Savitar remembers and Wally gets his powers restored. The two heroic speedsters easily best Heat Monger, who the system will hopefully not spring on another technicality in a few more days. Killer Frost takes her leave with some ugly parting words, but we get a hint that Cisco was getting to her.

The episode ends oddly. After the expected mushy reunion between Barry and Iris, they get interrupted by HR. He and Tracy have a classic good news/bad news situation. Tracy finally got her stuff together and has designed the Speed Force bazooka. Unfortunately, it needs a power source beyond anything they’ve ever seen. We get a hint at what’s coming next episode, but it’s really, really weird and seems to come from nowhere.

What I liked: Grant Gustin played amnesia Barry wonderfully. There was a lot of comedy, especially in the first few minutes. There were some really sweet Iris/Barry moments in here as well. I’m hoping the elevator scene with Killer Frost was a good omen. The HR/Tracy scenes were nicely done, too. The reveal of Barry’s full name, just like it is in the comics, was a nice Easter Egg for obsessive comic book readers like me. Savitar is right as far as him having a cooler suit than Flash’s.

What I didn’t: Having Barry go to court with no memory was ridiculous. It just plain made no sense. I’m not sure I buy Kid Flash losing his powers the way he did. The ending made no sense at all, and the preview for next episode even less.

Mostly for mind-wipe Barry, I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5. We’re almost at the season finale, and I’m really, really hoping that’s the end of Savitar. Maybe next season we could have a non-speedster as a bad guy? Flash does have other enemies.

Supergirl: City of Lost Children

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And you thought talking to YOUR mom about your love live was hard…

Supergirl has a somewhat odd title this week. “City of Lost Children” sounds nice and dramatic, but there’s only one child in the episode. I suppose I can sort of see a way to expand that to a second one, but it’s a stretch. Maybe they were running low on good titles.

The show opens with Guardian in action. He beats the thugs who are mugging a woman easily, but the woman is about as afraid of him as the muggers. This doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, considering there really is no doubt that they were mugging her, and that Guardian stopped them. Well, humans aren’t the most rational critters, especially when they’ve been traumatized. Might have helped if this Guardian was closer to the original’s color scheme at least. Bright yellow and blue are probably less intimidating than grey metal and black padding.

In a rare scene, Kara and Lena have lunch and have a fairly normal conversation. There is no alien attack, robbery, or sudden appearance of heavily armed thugs. Nothing even blows up. Lena techno-babbles a bit about her new project, but doesn’t really give much by way of concrete detail. Lena gets a call from her mentor, who she doesn’t name, and leaves to go meet with her.

Winn and James are out walking in the rain, but unlike most people who do this on video, they’re smart enough to have umbrellas. James isn’t happy about the earlier reaction to Guardian, and there’s an indirect reference to Batman. James broods that Supergirl inspires people, but Guardian only inspires fear. He’s really not happy about this.

The anticipated alien attack finally comes in the form of a woman who wanders a park for a few minutes. When a cop asks her if she’s ok, her eyes glow purple and she sets off a storm of uncontrolled telekinesis. Winn and James, who have the misfortune to be there, help get civilians out of the way. Supergirl swoops in to save people from the wreckage, and gets applause. The woman gets away and James looks at the crowd, brooding again.

The news covers the attack in the park in a slightly fear-mongering style, and the gang meets up at DEO to figure out what’s going on. J’Onn identifies the woman as a Phorian, a race with great powers. J’Onn, and presumably the DEO, didn’t know any of them were on Earth. Mon-El and Supergirl are out searching the city while the others strategize. When James offers a suggestion, J’Onn acts like a dick and says this is a DEO matter, not something for Guardian.

Lena and Rhea have dinner together and discuss their test earlier in the day. Lena is downcast about the failure, but Rhea encourages her. After some more talk about how Lena should keep trying, Rhea goes back to the test facility to work on their project.

There’s an utterly pointless scene of Mon-El getting bumped into and dropping an ice cream cone. After that, Guardian breaks up a drug deal involving aliens. He trips over a lead about the earlier TK attack. Since the DEO wasn’t exactly welcoming earlier, Guardian follows up on his own and, while not finding the woman, he finds her son, and bonds with him by taking his helmet off. As a whole, the CW heroes really don’t do a great job with their secret identities.

Guardian brings the kid back to the DEO, where Alex tries to get some information from him. They do work out his name is Marcus, but he won’t speak aside from that. They do figure out he’s really interested in James/Guardian, and finally agree to let him talk to them. While the rest try and work with the kid, Mon-El talks to Winn about his concerns that his mother is still lurking about.

Lena and Rhea’s gadget continues to not work quite right. Lena wonders about trying to go visit Lex in prison and ask for his help. Rhea offers more encouragement and tells Lena she needs to think like herself, not Lex. Lena ponders, techo-babbles more, and gets an idea.

After some negotiating with the folks at the DEO, James brings Marcus to work, passing him off as his nephew. They bond a bit over stories of James’ father and James’ camera collection. Mon swings by and brings lunch for Kara, because he really does seem to be excelling as boyfriend lately. Those two talk a bit about Rhea. Then, Rhea and Lena get their toy working properly, finally. That sets Marcus off, so it’s a good bet his Mom’s earlier fit was during the first test. Lena and Rhea stop their test, which ends Marcus’ fit after the office gets evacuated and Supergirl rushes him outside.

Back at the DEO, Supergirl speaks up for Marcus, saying he wasn’t in control of himself. J’Onn wonders if something similar happened to his mother. The cell they have Marcus in has a telekinetic damper in it, so he can’t spazz out on them again. J’Onn has managed to erode James’ confidence with his earlier comments, but then talks James up again with stories of his past.

The DEO crew figures out the correlation between the power spasms and a weird kind of energy spike. When Winn goes into detail, Supergirl recognizes something Lena said earlier during lunch. When Supergirl tries to call her to get more information, Rhea answers, taunts Supergirl, and hangs up.

James and Winn persuade J’Onn to let them leave with Marcus, who is finally cooperating. Winn has a portable TK damper, so hopefully that will keep things under control. James and Marcus have bonded more as Marcus shares his history with James. The plan to use Marcus’ power to find his mom works great. There are complications that aren’t going to help with Winn’s power damper.

Lena gets the device working, and is thrilled for about a minute. Then Rhea starts showing her true colors. The DEO traces the energy, and an impressive team of Supergirl, Mon-El, and J’Onn fly off to deal with it. Rhea, improbably, holds them all off for a bit before springing a few surprises. Rhea’s master plan is revealed, and it’s ugly. All this because she can’t accept Mon’s decision about Kara. Interesting timing with Mother’s Day coming up.

What I liked: I get why he’s “reserved” for the movies (even though DC laughably claims the movies and tv shows are totally separate), but I like that this is the second Batman reference they’ve worked in on Supergirl. It didn’t go as well as they could have, but the Supergirl/Mon/J’Onn team was impressive. I don’t like Rhea, but she’s being really clever here. Even though it was partially set up for later, I liked Kara and Lena’s lunch scene actually being a drama-free lunch.

What I didn’t: I don’t get why J’Onn was so harsh to James earlier in the episode. I also don’t know what I buy the citizens suddenly being afraid of Guardian. I don’t recall that being mentioned before. Wasn’t’ Lyra working with them? Where’d she go?

This one had some good twists and turns. I’ll go 3.5 out of 5 as the season finale draws near.

Arrow: Underneath

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Not what they mean by “getting the blues,” guys…

Last episode ended quite literally with a bang as Prometheus staged an attack on the Lair. Oliver and Felicity are trapped, alone, with the lights dimmed. Things get worse as they determine that at least part of the attack was an EMP. Not only do they not have power or communications, but you remember that chip that magically fixed Felicity’s paralysis? Apparently being inside a human body doesn’t shield the chip. So Oliver and Felicity are trapped “Underneath” to give us the title. Felicity is grudgingly impressed with the thoroughness of the trap.

Usually, having a high-profile secret identity is a hindrance for a superhero. It works out in this case, though. When you’re the mayor of a city that’s in the middle of a major crisis, people notice when you don’t show up for work. Curtis goes to the Lair to see if that’s where they are after no one can get hold of either Oliver or Felicity. It doesn’t take a genius like him long to figure out something’s wrong when the doors won’t open and there’s no response at all from down below. Curtis then hears a series of explosions, which we see is Oliver trying to use his explosive arrows to get out. Unfortunately, while it seems like whoever wants to can just wander in to the Lair (just like STAR Labs on Flash and Luthor Mansion on Smallville), getting out is another story. Quentin Lance and Rene are having their own, if different, problems. With District Attorney Adrian Chase revealed as a crazed serial killer, defense attorneys on every case over the last several months are filing every manner of appeal.

One of the real nice touches to this episode is also a nice bit of world building. Felicity is a hacker, and Oliver is a fighter. So this version of the Lair was built by Cisco Ramone from the Flash show. That makes a lot of sense, explains why it’s so well built, and why Oliver has to go look for Cisco’s blueprints.

Things are not going well for the Diggles, either. After learning about how much shady stuff ARGUS is doing under Lyla’s direction, John is sleeping on the couch. Their attempt at a discussion gets interrupted when Rene, Dinah, and Curtis come calling. They can sense the tension between the Diggles, but the team stays and tells them about the problems at the bunker.

Oliver and Felicity have their own tension from recent events, and being trapped in a small space isn’t helping. At least I think it’s a small space. They never really have given us a good feel for the Lair’s floor plan. At any rate, Oliver decides to try and escape via the elevator shaft, and Felicity warns him it’s almost certainly been booby trapped by Chase. Oliver bulls ahead anyway. Guess who was right? Their situation is not improved when Oliver falls and gets badly injured. What’s a little blood loss between friends? Felicity patches him up with a hefty side order of “I told you so.” They keep arguing about his lack of trust in her as they try to game a new way out.

Curtis briefs the team about what he’s been able to figure out about the Lair situation. Lyla offers to get things to help Curtis break into the Lair, after snarking at John on the way out. Curtis also mentions that they might run out of air in the Lair, which is odd to me. I get it’s an underground bunker, but with all the exits and gadgets, I wouldn’t think it’d be air-tight.

Rene and Curtis trade barbs while they try and access the Lair via the elevator shaft. It doesn’t go as badly as Oliver’s attempt, but isn’t successful. I was very amused to hear what Mr. Terrific named the T Spheres, although I guess that means he only has two of them. While that silliness goes on, Dinah offers an ear to John about his troubles with Lyla.

I didn’t quite follow what Felicity was trying to do next. Something about using one of Oliver’s motorcycles to give them energy to get some stuff working. That, too, failed, and then ruptured a methane line. My various problems with that, in no particular order, are: if there’s a bike down there, there should be another way out that never gets mentioned; starting an engine when you’re running out of air is not a good plan, and why the hell is there a methane line in the Lair? I can’t imagine what purpose it would serve. On the heels of this failure, Felicity comes up with another plan.

The rest of the team tries, and fails, to break in again. Mr. Terrific gets a nasty burn in the process, and Dinah makes a different suggestion from her undercover days. Oliver and Felicity manage to get to get into a steam tunnel under the Lair they found via Cisco’s plans. From my research on steam tunnels, I’m not quite sure why this one is there, but they make some progress towards getting out. Oliver, bleeding badly, is carrying Felicity since her legs still aren’t working.

Lyla pulls another surprise, this one hitting home with Curtis specifically. Eventually, after a lot of drama between Felicity and Oliver, the rest of the team gets in, and Diggle manages to lend a hand in rescuing the two of them. With the usual resolution through too much drama Felicity and Oliver end up in a better place at least. So do Diggle and Lyla, when Lyla makes a surprising offer. The final scene looks bad for one of the supporting cast we don’t see often.

While Oliver and Felicity have trouble escaping the Lair, we can’t escape Flashback Theater. This time they only go back about 11 months, after Felicity broke up with Oliver, but before they started the new version of Team Arrow. It’s mostly emotional drama between the two of them, with a cameo by Curtis, pre-Mr. Terrific. Personally, I think they really could have cut this entire series of scenes, but I feel that way most of the time about the flashbacks.

What I liked: Curtis’ geek comments amuse me. I’m glad the writers aren’t just brushing off the issues John has with Lyla’s job, and also glad they didn’t drag that out. I liked them giving credit to Cisco for designing the Lair.

What I didn’t: This episode really nailed down for me that I don’t have a good feel for the Lair’s layout, which is bad considering how much time they spend down there. A lot of the details on this one didn’t really jibe for me for the various escape efforts. And they’re really reaching for things to do with flashback theater. Just end it already.

I’ll give this one a lower end 3 out of 5. It had some nice moments, but a lot that didn’t make sense, either. I’m really looking forward to the end of the Adrian Chase plot.

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