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Gotham: Destiny Calling/heavydirtysoul

Bruce

The Gordian Knot approach isn’t always best, Bruce…

Gotham’s third season wraps with a double header, “Destiny Calling,” and “Heavydirtysoul.” The two episodes bring a lot of forces into play and leave us remarkably few cliffhangers, but bring a lot of things together. And there’s a surprise reveal at the end about one of the characters. So, yeah, beware, there will be some spoilers here. Read on at your peril.

The shows open with a series of scenes showing the Tetch virus loose in Gotham and how bad it’s getting. Even for Gotham, this is ugly. Although the burning train in the background of one shot might look familiar to those who use Washington DC’s Metro system.

The GCPD is being run ragged, with hopped-up virus sufferers pulling off feats of superhuman strength the beat cops can’t keep up with. Gordon, in a really impressive display of willpower, gains control over the virus, at least for now. Harvey, wisely, takes Jim’s gun and shares there’s been no word of Lee since the bomb went off.

Bruce is in holding after the events of last time, with Alfred looking in on him through the one way windows. Gordon and Bullock point out the various reasons Bruce might not be happy to see Alfred about now. Fox turns up with some good news for once: Professor Strange is making progress on an antidote according to notes Fox found. This is when Bullock breaks the bad news about Alfred’s unorthodox deal with Strange, who is once again on the loose. Fox also warns Harvey this is an accelerated version of the virus, and Gordon won’t be able to fight it long. As all this goes on, Strange makes his way through the swarm at the train station to get a ticket and get out of the chaos. That’s when he gets grabbed by Fish Mooney and her crew.

The usually well-educated Riddler is mixing his history badly as he talks about Nero and Troy, which isn’t quite right, as he looks out on the destruction of Gotham. The ever-insane Barbara Keen is convinced this is her chance to take over Gotham’s underworld, and isn’t happy when Ridder says he has no interest in that, just killing Penguin. Finally, they strike a deal that bodes ill for just about everyone.

The train station is a mass of confusion in a sea of people trying to escape. Fish is grilling Strange about the virus, and his safeguards for it. Gordon and Bullock arrive, just in time for Gordon to get a distracting, taunting call from Lee, who is still trying to drag him over to the dark side. Eventually, Gordon and Bullock catch up to Fish and company, but Fish has a surprise up her sleeve. Mr. Freeze goes on the attack, first disarming the detectives, then putting an ice wall between them and Fish’s crew. Gordon goes into another virus frenzy, and Fish comments that it’s nice to meet the real Jim Gordon at last. First Lee then Fish, does everyone think Gordon’s a psychopath with a badge?

There’s a short scene of a sullen Bruce, still in interrogation, where Alfred tries, and fails to reach him. Bruce warns that someone else is coming. Strange, meanwhile, becomes the object of an ugly game between Freeze and Firefly. He gets “saved” by Penguin, who has his own ideas on what to do with the professor. Penguin has neither forgotten nor forgiven his time in Arkham.

Gordon punches through Freeze’s ice wall, eventually, which impresses Bullock. Bullock is a lot less happy about Gordon ripping the door off his car. Back at GCPD, the virus is getting to some people we know now, and that’s not going to go well. Alfred tries again to reach Bruce, then gets distracted by chaos in the squad room from more infected. By the time Alfred gets back, Bruce has picked the cuffs and escaped, once again showing signs of the man he will become.

At Sirens, Butch tries to get Tabitha to see that Barbara isn’t good for her, but Tabitha isn’t ready to give up yet. Tabitha interrupts herself when she sees Lee there. Lee isn’t in the mood for small talk, and is cuttingly insulting to Butch and Tabitha both, then knocks Butch around a little before delivering her threat to Barbara Keen.

While Bruce wanders the streets amid the madness, and Alfred and Bullock shadow him, Fish and company are working with Strange to get his cure for the virus. They find Strange’s stash, but then a group of ninjas find them. When Fish looks at him, Strange says he has no idea who they are, and the ninja leader demands the antidote, which Strange has said is enough to cure all of Gotham when properly diluted. A fight breaks out between the ninjas on one side, and Fish, Mr. Freeze, and Firefly on the other. Gordon, riding the virus frenzy again, arrives in the middle of the fight and stabs Fish, breaking the antidote vials and really upsetting Penguin. Well, the antidote is gone now, but Strange claims he can make more, so there’s still some hope.

Somebody, somewhere, thought it was a good idea to move Jervis Tetch out of Arkham during all this chaos. Butch and Tabitha take advantage of this utter stupidity, and grab Tetch for their own plans. He was probably better off in the asylum. Riddler and Barbara look on and plot more badness for Gotham in general.

Bruce finds an odd, temple-looking building and goes inside. After finding a secret passage and going down an eerie corridor with lurking, creeping figures, Bruce finds the mysterious figure behind all his recent adventures. I guess they really liked Nolan’s Dark Knight movies, because somehow or other, Ra’s al-Ghul has decided Bruce is worth watching. Why a nearly immortal villain is so interested in a kid that can’t even vote yet is unclear. And Ra’s and Batman didn’t meet in the comics until quite a while into his career, after Dick Grayson had been Robin for a while.

This leads to a lot of questions from Bruce, and a confrontation between Ra’s and Alfred, who manages to get captured. Bruce gets pushed into doing something fairly dramatic, that gets fixed by the convenient presence of one of Ra’s’ storied props. It does seem to break Bruce free of Ra’s’ hold on him at least.

Gordon looks over a trashed squad room at the GCPD while the news drones on about the chaos in Gotham. Lee calls to taunt him and try further to seduce/corrupt him. Now she wants to leave the city, and wants him to come with her. She’s shifted her look a lot, and is reminding me of Elvira with tamer hair. This is about when Bullock strides in and talks about Barbara making demands to the city council. Bullock and Gordon hatch a plan to draw the Riddler out of hiding.

Gordon calls Nygma and company, and sparks more squabbling among them. Butch is still trying to get Tabitha away from Barbara, and I feel bad for him trying so hard. Nygma takes advantage of the distraction and slips away with Tetch, provoking another temper tantrum and insult storm from Barbara. That woman really needs to learn when to shut up.

Penguin is not at all happy about being used as Riddler-bait, and rails at Gordon about it. Bullock is just generally worried, which makes perfect sense with everything going on at present. Riddler has taken an extra precaution in the form of a strategically placed hand grenade. Tetch himself is thrilled at learning Gordon is infected. This unstable situation gets made much worse when Tabitha, Butch, and Barbara show up, guns blazing. Barbara mocks Gordon, and Gordon then does something a bit drastic to get work on a cure going.

In all that chaos, Penguin managed to capture Riddler again, and they trade snarky comments while Penguin drives off in Bullock’s police car, Riddler cuffed in back. While Riddler tries to get free, Barbara says she, Butch, and Tabitha should split up and go to one of their safehouses. Tabitha and Barbara share a long kiss, which is likely not helping Tabitha think any clearer.

I’m still not quite clear on how Tetch’s blood is contributing to the cure, since it was his sister that had the virus, not him. He’s just screwy on his own. But, somehow or other, the GCPD lab techs are using it to make a cure, although just now they have limited doses, which Gordon promptly steals and runs off with. Does anyone NOT have their own agenda this episode, aside from Bullock?

Bruce is crying at the hospital, worrying about Alfred, who is in surgery. Selena drops by for unclear reasons, and the two of them have a loud, vicious, and pointless argument. The only reason for the visit seems to be to set up that the two of them are really mad at each other because… the writers said so?

Gordon tries to cure Lee, and she’s not interested. She wants him to stop fighting the virus and the darkness inside him. They end up making out, cure forgotten. As this is going on, Penguin and Riddler have a wide-ranging argument/discussion about their respective lives, during which Riddler gets free and turns the tables on his captor. Again. These two just need to give up; they never seem to get anywhere.

Gordon and Lee manage to slip the police guards at the train station (Why is everyone on trains now? Even if they closed the airports, there are still roads and the docks.) and then get confronted by Bullock. Bullock and Gordon end up fighting, and Bullock pulls off a clever trick. This lets Gordon cure both Lee and himself on the train. They’re going to miss the trip.

There’s a reckoning of sorts among the Barbara/Butch/Tabitha crew. It gets ugly and the cast has been thinned out by the end of it. There’s also a surprise reveal about one of their real names, which is a big hint of what may be coming next season to comic fans. I didn’t see it coming at all, I’ll say that much.

Bruce has a teary scene by Alfred’s bedside which doesn’t really go anywhere. Riddler and Penguin have their final showdown (for the season) and we see the ugly spot one of them will probably be spending a good bit of next season in.

Later, Alfred wakes for a reunion with Bruce. Selena apparently gains a new mentor. Penguin plans his new club– the Iceberg Lounge, which is a familiar name from the comics. Gordon gets more bad news from Lee, although I’m not sure when the last time she gave him good news was. Bullock and Gordon tease each other a bit, showing their friendship survived the ups and downs of the two episodes. And we see a very familiar looking crime foiled by a new crimefighter. That should be interesting next season.

What I liked: I’m really hoping this is the end of the Tetch virus. It keeps coming back and I’m about sick of it. I won’t miss the Barbara/Butch/Tabitha alliance. Bruce seems to be making strides towards his destiny. If anyone we’ve seen so far on the show could fight the virus, it makes sense to me that it’s Gordon. Bullock in general is always enjoyable. At the risk of sounding shallow, I enjoyed Lee’s “evil” look.

What I didn’t: I don’t get why Ra’s needs to be part of Bruce’s origin. I didn’t like it in the movies, and I don’t like it here. How is Tetch’s non-infected blood part of the cure process? What was the point of Selena coming by the hospital to yell at Bruce? I’m not a huge fan of the ongoing Riddler/Penguin feud.

It was an odd conclusion. I’ll give this long finale a 3 out of 5. It’ll be interesting to see how some of this pans out next season.

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

flash

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.

Iron Fist: Dragon Plays With Fire

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Oh, THIS Iron Fist…

Iron Fist reaches the conclusion of season one (with sadly no confirmed word on season two as yet) with “Dragon Plays With Fire.” There are a lot of dangling threads they manage to (mostly) resolve, and they leave enough hanging if the show does return. And I’m relieved that a troubling rumor I heard about the show is proven false.

In the Penthouse, a very self-satisfied Harold stops to check his reflection in the mirror. He sees the news carrying the story of Danny Rand being hunted by the DEA and smiles. One car ride later, he’s at the lobby for Rand, abusing a guard for doing his job. I don’t know if they did this on purpose, but it’s an interesting parallel with Danny’s first time coming here.

In his office, Ward is talking with Jerri Hogarth, Danny’s lawyer. He assures her the charges are false, and she wryly observes he’s changed his tune where Danny is concerned. Their talk about Danny’s legal troubles with the DEA gets interrupted by Harold arriving. Jerri is, to put it mildly, stunned. After some more unpleasant comments from Harold, he dismisses Jerri, then shows Ward he doesn’t even know everything about his own office. Harold spins an unlikely story to cover his miraculous return from the dead, and then surprises Ward with another revelation about what’s been happening in the background with Danny.

Continuing to mirror the first episode, the next scene is Danny in the park. This time, he’s skulking around with his hood pulled up, avoiding the various police officers, since Danny is on the Most Wanted List. Colleen brings Danny a copy of the New York Bulletin, showing his picture as a dangerous criminal. They compare notes on how each other are, and then Colleen says they need a go-between to get to Jerri, since the Feds are probably watching her.

Naturally, this leads to Claire bringing a note to Jerri, and then Jerri to Danny and Colleen. Personally, I don’t think that’s the best way to go about not leading police to Danny, but it seems to work. Jerri isn’t thrilled to meet Colleen, who also has charges against her. They debate tactics and decide they need to try and find the unaltered documents that Harold tweaked to implicate Danny. Jerri doesn’t want to hear about Harold returning from the dead, gives some more advice, and leaves the three heroes.

Danny and Colleen return to The Hand compound, now eerily deserted. Working their way through the buildings, they find Madame Gao, still in her cell. She seems happy to see Danny, although she rains more bad news down on him. She also offers insights about Danny and Colleen that unnerve both of them. Danny leaves having learned more about the deaths of his parents and unsure about what to do next.

Danny, Colleen, and Claire talk about their next move. Danny is heading down a dark path, and Claire is trying hard to steer him in another direction. Colleen then complicates Claire’s life by finding a new unpleasant way to go. Claire compares Danny to the other “special” people she’s met, contrasting them all being dark and haunted with Danny’s innocence when she met him. She’s worried he’s losing that, and I’d say she has a point. She suggests they focus on the tablet that may prove Danny’s innocence.

Ward goes to see Joy in the hospital, and it’s not exactly a warm reunion. Given what she saw from Ward last night, she has no interest in talking to him, which might be one of her smartest decisions. They argue as he tries to justify himself, and tell her what a monster Harold really is. Joy isn’t buying any of it until Ward raises the stakes. He tosses down a copy of the Bulletin with the cover story about Danny the fugitive, and she is shocked.

In a surprising alliance, Danny and Ward meet up. Ward really does seem to want to help Danny. Whether Ward feels badly about how he treated Danny before or just wants revenge on Harold, I’m not sure, and I’m not sure Ward is sure, either. Ward warns Danny about the increased security, and Danny shares the news from Gao about the Rands’ deaths. Danny is still suffering his blurry flashbacks, and finally runs off, with Ward staring after him.

Motivated by Ward’s visit and news, Joy rises from her hospital bed and goes to Rand to confront Harold. He tries more of his lies, and she’s not buying them. She lays out how she knows Harold framed Danny, and Harold isn’t pleased. During the course of the conversation, Joy realizes Harold has been spying on her. They argue more, and Harold’s paranoia comes to the fore. He yells at her that whatever Danny told her is lies, ignoring Joy repeatedly telling him she hasn’t seen Danny. She finally leaves, with Harold furious behind her. Down on the street, Joy sees Ward, but ignores him and is driven off in her own car. I think of everyone involved in this story, I feel worst for Joy. She had the rug pulled out from under her life, and she didn’t do anything to deserve any of this. Ward goes inside after watching her take off.

Hiding in a car nearby, the Colleen, Claire, Danny trio wait. Danny has a big bag of money he’s giving to Claire for a distraction, while he and Colleen prepare to go inside. Ward calls them and says they need to call it off, because Harold has added so many armed guards. Ward’s warning gets cut off rather brutally by Harold.  Claire agrees they should try another night, so of course Danny refuses. Colleen follows after Danny rushes off, leaving a frustrated Claire to pick up the pieces of their plan. She’s not happy. Colleen and Danny manage to get separated almost immediately but keep working their way inside.

Harold gets a warning from the staff downstairs and readies his men for the ambush. Ward protests, but isn’t in any condition to really stop anything at this point. Colleen gets up there and starts her own counter-ambush, which is when Danny makes a very dramatic and unexpected entrance. There’s a lot of fighting here, and another new use for the power of the Iron Fist which I’ve never seen before. I’m not sure it quite works for the concept from the books, but it sure looked cool.

Eventually, Harold retreats to the roof, luring Danny after him. Harold positions himself really badly for his attack on Danny, which might be part of why he misses. Danny actually gets hit a bit later, and it’s an ugly-looking wound. As they stalk each other across the roof, Harold goes into another long monologue which makes him sound even less sympathetic as it goes on. The end of the confrontation goes very unexpectedly, or at least I didn’t see it coming. It made sense to me overall, although Danny steals one of Wonder Woman’s moves.

Sometime later, it’s day, and the hawk we’ve seen before flies through the city. It finally lands on a building, and then we see Ward and Danny inside. Jerri stops by to give them some good news, and they attend to something that really needs to be done. I’m hoping that’s the end of that little problem.

Once more back at the dojo, Colleen is still training Claire. Danny comes with pizza, and they talk about future plans. Claire, wisely, suggests therapy for both of them. She takes the claws she captured in China and walks out. Danny and Colleen make plans to go to K’un-Lun. I don’t think they’d be please that Danny brought them both someone they didn’t know and a former member of The Hand at that. Danny talks about his hopes for the future.

We end on a few closing scenes. Ward has made some changes at the office, and I’m glad he did. There’s a meeting between two very unlikely people, who don’t seem to have Danny’s best interests at heart. They’re overheard by another familiar face. Danny and Colleen go on their trip, and get a big surprise at the end of it, which is where we leave them for now.

What I liked: The action was good. Claire, as always, was a stable, wise presence who brought much needed common sense. I’m hoping Ward’s change of perspective is lasting and sincere. It was a nice touch that Colleen’s blade is still damaged. There are a lot of loose ends for possible continuation.

What I didn’t: For all the trouble he was having with it earlier, Danny’s power seems to be fine now. If he rebalanced his Chi on his own, we never saw it. I really don’t know why Danny thought the people of K’un-Lun would welcome Colleen. The final meeting over tea didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Why did Danny blur every time he got a flashback? Was this some psychedelic version of PTSD?

I’ll give this episode, and the show in general, a 3 out of 5. I’d rate it as the lowest of the four Netflix/Defenders shows, but even with that, I thought it was decent and I’d watch another season.

All four heroes will return in the Defenders in August.

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.

Agents of SHIELD: World’s End

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Oh, look, Aida’s ride is here

Everything the Agents of SHIELD have been dealing with this season is finally coming together in the finale, “World’s End.” A very familiar muscle car fires up its engine and rolls out of a garage. The Zephyr is programmed to rapid random course changes in both direction and altitude in hopes of foiling Aida’s teleportation power. I have no idea if that would work, but it’s better than nothing. May presses Coulson about their missing special bottle, and he says he’ll need another bottle to explain what happened to the first one. Given everything that happened, I don’t blame him for either not wanting to tell her or wanting a drink if he has to. Piper has left via HALO for some special side mission, and Fitz and Simmons are trying to reconcile their strained relationship. They also need to work out how to deal with Aida.

Coulson and Daisy watch over Mac and Yo Yo, who are both in the Framework. Daisy is trying to find a way to help them, but even her hacking skill is having trouble with this incredibly complex construct. Inside, Yo Yo gets saved by Radcliffe of all people, who tells her she shouldn’t be there. When she defiantly says she’s there for Mac, he warns the Framework is collapsing in on itself, although he’s a bit poetic about it.

Aida and the various Ivanov-bots are plotting their next move. Aida is really going villain, saying she wants SHIELD, and especially Fitz, to suffer. Talk about a bad breakup. Their talk is interrupted when Robbie Reyes arrives. Reyes even gives the Ivanovs a chance to not fight, but they ignore the warning. Reyes is using Ghost Rider powers without fully changing now, which I guess means he has a better handle on what he can do. Aida quickly learns to fear the Ghost Rider after Reyes shifts and hurts her, and she teleports away.

While Fitz and Daisy struggle to find a way to get Mac and Yo Yo out of the Framework, Coulson is trying to catch Talbot up on everything that’s been going on. I don’t blame him for not believing Coulson. Coulson does come up with a great description for Aida, which Talbot exclaims, “I am NOT putting that in my report.” There’s also fallout from the lie about Mace being an Inhuman, which wasn’t remotely Coulson’s fault. Talbot demands he be at a briefing in the morning and Coulson tells him that’s probably not going to happen.

Daisy and Reyes touch base, and there seems to be some mutual interest there. I’d like to point out that, so far, being Daisy’s love interest is a LOT more dangerous than being a SHIELD agent. Just ask Ward and Lincoln about that.

While Aida freaks out about her Ghost Rider inflicted wounds not healing, Reyes explains to the team some of what’s going on. Short version is the Rider really doesn’t like Aida, and is going to send her and the Darkhold back where they came from. I wonder how they’re going to explain demons and Hell in their paperwork.

In the Framework, Mac is trying to get all the refugees to a safe place, although I don’t know what he thinks that is. Things are randomly disappearing all around them as the Framework shuts down. Radcliffe tries to get Mac to listen about needing to leave, and Mac utterly refuses.

One of the different models of Ivanov-bot proves to be a high level Russian intelligence officer. Guess who’s supposed to be at the meeting Talbot wanted Coulson at? I’m not sure how he got Ivanov in, since as far as I know he’s at best a shady industrialist and at worse the leader of a major terrorist hate group. But somehow, he gets in and preaches against SHIELD. Ivanov also brought the Darkhold and is trying to get the people at the meeting to read it. Chaos erupts that involves another, very convincing, LMD (are we never going to be done with those?). Naturally, things are looking bad for SHIELD again. At this point, I think the Suicide Squad might have a better rep, and they’re villains and killers. Daisy and Robbie together do some great moves to get rid of the Ivanov-bot, which Coulson is crushed he missed.

After everyone gets back together and talks, they decide to return to their base, or what’s left of it. Coulson wants to lay a trap for Aida and starts doing some pretty clever things. If they fail, Aida seems to be trying to make the world just as dark, ugly, and repressive as the Framework was.

Yo Yo keeps up her efforts to get Mac to leave, and he continues to refuse. It’s a really emotional scene that makes me feel bad for both of them. I think the scars from the Framework are going to last a long, long time. Their rescue attempt goes horribly wrong as things and people keep disappearing. We lose the Framework version of Agent Burroughs in this scene, poor guy. He couldn’t catch a break in either world.

There are a lot of quick cuts and really big twists in the next bit, so I’m going to be going as light as I can on detail to avoid spoilers. May both says Coulson’s plan is horrible and keeps pressing about their bottle of Haig. Reyes tells Daisy what it was like in that other world with Ghost Rider. Aida ports in on Fitz and Simmons, and things get really ugly. Tensions rise as they lose more of the Framework.

Coulson arranged a brilliant ambush for Aida involving Ghost Rider, and I didn’t remotely see it coming. Neither did she. It leads to a really nasty, effects heavy, battle between Aida and the Rider. One of the agents gets a bit of revenge in against Aida along the way, too. Yo Yo and Mac’s time in the Framework comes to a really sad end. Daisy manages to save the survivor. Coulson and Reyes have a post-fight talk that makes it sound like Coulson has even more secrets than we thought. Ghost Rider leaves, showing he has his own way to travel now. The team, knowing they’re hunted, go out for dinner, in a scene that reminds be a bit of the infamous shawarma scene at the end of Avengers. Their meal gets interrupted by men in tac gear with some really oddly cryptic comments.

The Framework comes to an end with a really sad scene with Radcliffe. It’s not showy, it’s not flashy, but it works as a very brilliant, if misguided, man finally meets his fate. Some undetermined amount of time later, we see Coulson in a very different setting which is one of our big cliffhangers until next season.

After the show ends, there’s a brief trailer for the upcoming Inhumans show, which will be sharing SHIELD’s time-slot like the late, lamented Agent Carter used to. There was also a nice note about the passing of Powers Boothe.

What I liked: This was a brilliant use of Ghost Rider. The twists in the final fight were fantastic. I’m glad the Framework is done, and I’m really hoping the LMD’s and Ivanov-bots are, too. I can’t say I’ll miss Aida. It makes perfect sense that the agents came back to so much chaos, considering what happened while they were gone.

What I didn’t: It was a great episode, and most of my complaints are things they didn’t do, rather than what they did. A running thing on this show seems to be building up powerful allies who then utterly disappear. In all this mess going on, why did Talbot not have Absorbing Man with him? Where’s Deathlok? I get them not being able to call on the Avengers, both for real world budget issues and in-world with the wreck of the team during Civil War. I really think they missed an opportunity by not bringing some of the people out of the Framework they way Aida got out. This would have been a great way to bring back Trip, a good Ward, and Radcliffe. I really did feel bad for Radcliffe at the end. He never even got his last drink.

This was a brilliant episode. I’ll give it a 4.5 out of 5. I’m looking forward to next season, although I have my reservations about what I’ve seen of the Inhumans so far.

Bring back Agent Carter!

Legends of Tomorrow: Aruba

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The Legends get reinforcements from… the Legends?

 

Legends of Tomorrow ends its second season with a really chaotic episode that has the pleasant-sounding title of “Aruba.” Well, taking a tropical vacation is a lovely idea, but it probably wouldn’t make for a very interesting episode. What we get instead is the climactic battle between the Legends and the Legion of Doom. For an idea of how serious this one is, there’s no opening voiceover at all. Instead, it’s important scenes that lead up to the dire trouble the team finds itself in now.

On the desk at STAR Labs, Rip and Gideon finally figure out the Waverider is shrunk. After some power re-engineering, they manage to get airborne, with the great line of, “Plot a course for the nearest open window.” The rest of the team is trying to figure out what to do next and what’s become of Rip. Nate is shaken by Amaya’s death at the end of last episode, and Sara tries to reassure him. That I can buy; her saying she didn’t know about the two of them doesn’t quite ring true for me. At any rate, eventually, Mini-Rip shows up and they work out the ship was shrunk by Ray’s suit, so they need to go find that.

The team breaks in to the Doomworld version of STAR Labs, taking out a few guards along the way. Finally, Ray finds his suit, which makes him happy enough that Jax really starts to wonder about his teammate. Unfortunately, Damian Darhk shows up before they’re ready, and starts using his magic to hurl the Legends around. Rip turns the Waverider’s weapons on Darhk, but in it’s miniturized state, all it manages to do is get another one of Damian’s snarky lines. Fortunately, someone else is in position to do something useful. Ray manages to enlarge the Waverider, destroying a good bit of STAR in the process.

The very desperate plan is to go back to 1916 again, and interact with what has already happened, to prevent the Legion from getting the Spear in the first place. Rip says this is amazingly dangerous, but he doesn’t have a better plan. What follows is a game of cat and mouse as the current Legends are creeping around trying to avoid the past versions of themselves. They also figure out they’ve effectively made themselves into time aberrations. But, because there are two sets of Legends now, the writers get to kill off several of the team in various gruesome ways. Things get even more complicated when Thawne from the “present” comes back to foil the Legends, uniting the Legion against them. Some of the battle doesn’t make a lot of sense, like one of Merlyn’s arrows somehow splitting Firestorm back into Jax and Stein, but there’s a lot of good action and one-liners. As all the complications are explained, a very bored Snart asks when he gets to rob a bank, for example.

The team eventually gets the Spear and tries to flee with it, but having two sets of most of the Legends aboard the Waverider goes badly. They go from time quakes to time storms, which are ugly green energy effects all around the ship that make them crash. Eventually, the team faces off against Thawne and some surprise backup on his part. Sara has control of the Spear for a short time, which lets her talk briefly with her late, lamented sister Laurel. Sara resists most of the temptation to use the Spear with one subtle exception. Sara also had a clever plan in place and finds a unique way to deal with the nigh-unstoppable Thawne.

Eventually, the heroes survive (or at least one set of them does), the villains are returned to their proper places in the time stream, and all’s well that ends well, maybe. There’s a surprise departure from one of the team (which didn’t make a lot of sense to me) and, possibly as a bone to the much abused of late Mick, they let him pick their next stop. Naturally, he picks Aruba, where he’s been wanting to go for a while and, of course, is the title of the episode. Things don’t go as planned, and we end up with a really impressive cliffhanger to carry us over to next season. Season 3 has been confirmed, so we’ll get to see the Legends again.

What I liked: The two versions of the team, and the complications from that, were nicely handled. I’m glad to see the end of the Spear storyline, and the possible end of Thawne. Damian and Snart get some great lines, and I love the delivery of both those actors. The effects of showing different versions of the same character have come a long way, and looks seamless here. I’m hoping the team letting Mick pick the destination at the end is a sign they are going to start trusting him more. The cliffhanger makes it looks like Season 3 will be really interesting.

What I didn’t: I don’t get how Merlyn’s arrow split Firestorm, as I mentioned above. I don’t think the character that left makes a lot of sense, and I’ll miss the actor, if they don’t come back.
If they’re actually done with both Damian and Snart, I’ll miss them, too.

I’ll give the episode a 3.5 out of 5. I’ll give the season itself a low 3 out of 5. Some episodes were good, but some, notably Camelot/3000, were really bad.

Legion: Chapter 8

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It must be the end of the season, David gets to do a superhero pose

The very surreal Legion comes to the end of the first season with Chapter 8. I kept expecting the chapter names to change to something else halfway through the season, considering how odd the rest of the show is, but that never happened. But the show remained just as odd up to the finale.

For a show with such a limited season, they certainly don’t mind their random asides. A good bit of the early part of this episode shows what happened to the Interrogator who was with David back in the first episode. He was very badly injured, with some severe burns. His recovery looks long and painful, and the scars are not pleasant. We also get a glimpse into his personal life, which makes it look a lot like the show is in the more modern era than some of the sets suggest. The man is very determined, you have to give him that. The ambush from the end of last episode is not only not an issue, it barely generates a mention, as David deals with it and then tells the Division 3 man they need to talk. This is where we learn that the Interrogator is being watched, and that it’s a family business.

Syd spends some time talking to David. She’s worried about the risks he’s taking, and she cares a lot more about him than anything else, including herself. David talks about his six years at Clockworks, and the way the brain tricks itself. He’s clearly getting some new perspective on his experiences.

Kerry, their designated fighter, is keeping watch over their prisoner as the others debate what to do. Ptonomy, who really does seem to favor the simple approach, just wants to kill him. I can understand the sentiment, but that’s not going to make anything better in terms of peace between Division 3 and the folks at Summerland. It occurs to me they don’t have a collective name, like the X-Men or Avengers. I guess that’s too close to being straight out superhero, which they work hard at avoiding. At any rate, David still wants to talk to the man. Cary likens the Shadow King, David’s parasite, to a computer virus that threatens to overwrite the original programming. In this case, that’s David.

Cary brings the Interrogator some water, and Kerry rolls her eyes at the kindness. She’s still holding a grudge for Cary disappearing when they were in the fake Clockworks. The Interrogator proves very good at both reading people and being a smartass. I’d argue that having an argument like that in front of a dangerous prisoner is really not a good idea.

Melanie tries to rekindle things with Oliver, but he’s still both detached and having memory issues. This probably doesn’t leave her in the best frame of mind to talk to the Interrogator, but that’s what she goes and does anyway. There are a lot of threats and verbal fencing, including a good line about the dinosaurs. We do finally learn that the Interrogator has a name, and it’s Clark.

David finally gets a cliche superpowered pose, as he’s floating in the air, legs crossed, apparently meditating. Melanie brings Clark to David, and he floats back down. David turns to Clark and quotes John Lennon, “War is over, if you want it.” On the more ominous side, his halo device has gone from green to red, and we see Lennie pounding on her coffin/prison inside David’s head.

Cary is fiddling with some of his machines, trying to boost the power to David’s halo device. Clark watches all this, picking up that something is wrong. He and Syd get into an argument about the future of mutants and humans. Clark is definitely coming from a place of fear, but that’s somewhat understandable. David keeps trying to play peacemaker and be reassuring, but Clark isn’t really interested in listening.

Syd gets a shock when she gets pulled into the white room refuge she and David have been using. This time, instead of it being a pleasant interlude, Syd gets confronted by Lennie. Lennie AKA the Shadow King is in tune with Syd’s brain after the body switch earlier in the series. They argue with each other, each threatening in somewhat different ways. It’s not a pleasant exchange.

Clark asks what’s happening with David, and after a lot of back and forth, Syd tells him the whole story of David’s possession, for lack of a better term. Clark looks a bit stunned. After Lennie talks to Syd some more, David collapses, worrying everyone in the room. The last thing anyone wants is the Shadow King getting loose again. Clark gets moved back to his cell while Oliver and Carry try to get the machines working right. The Division 3 people are watching through Clark.

David wakes up, confused about why he’s tied down, but he answers his own question by saying he can feel the monster forcing its way out. Oliver tells David to push when they pull, and then “Boom goes the dynamite,” which is a saying from 2005, despite the very 60’s look of Summerland. They are picking up a second set of brainwaves in David’s head, and start trying to get rid of everything that isn’t David. There’s another musical interlude as Pink Floyd plays while David wanders through his own memories, seeing the past versions of Lennie disappearing from each one. David is going into seizures with nosebleeds, which is always a horrible sign on tv and in movies.

Lennie finally turns up in David’s head, if that makes any sense, and they argue. David calls her his phantom, as in phantom limb. In the real world, David’s body is not handling the strain from the machines and the process well. Oliver is off playing engineer, trying to keep the power running right. Syd takes things into her own hands and goes to David, using her own power to get David out of harm’s way. This kicks off a series of body hops as the Shadow King works his/its way through several of Melanie’s people. Finally, in a major cliffhanger for next season, he gets away in a hijacked body. David reassures the people that are still around that the monster is gone, and tells Clark they still need to talk peace. After picking up the pieces, the credits roll, but like many good Marvel projects, there’s an after credit scene that leaves another big cliffhanger.

What I liked: It was a good season finale. I liked that Clark the Interrogator came back, and he got a lot of good lines. They set up the ongoing tension between the Division and Summerland, or set up to continue it. Clark gradually giving them some credit and listening to what they had to say made sense. Where the Shadow King ended up was tragic but made sense.

What I didn’t: The show still occasionally feels like they are being weird just to be weird. The lack of clarity in some of the story is a stylistic choice, just one I don’t care for. Letting Clark see division in the ranks before he was treating them like people was a bad idea on Cary/Kerry’s part.

It was a really unusual season, not at all like most of the superhero shows on right now. It was interesting enough that I’ll be back for Season Two. I’ll give Chapter 8 a 3.5 out of 5, and the same rating to the season.

Luke Cage: Now You Know My Steez

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This is not a group I’d want coming after me.

 

Netflix’s Luke Cage wraps up season one with “Now You Know My Steez.” This is another one that I had no idea at all what it meant, so I went a-researching. According to what I could find, “steez” is “style with ease.” It’s a good episode, but no one has what I’d call an easy time of it.

Oh, as a warning, there are spoilers in this review. I try not to do that as a rule, but I don’t see a good way around it for a finale. I’ll avoid the ones I can, but there are some in here, so don’t read if you haven’t seen this episode, or care about spoilers.

Considering the way the last episode ended, there’s no surprise at all about where this one starts. Cage and Diamondback finally have their big fight: Cage’s powers vs. Diamondback’s suit. I’ve complained several times in past reviews about where that suit came from. We finally find out, and I’m still not sure it makes sense, but I guess I’ll shut up about it. It does level the field between Cage and Stryker. The fight is intercut with flashbacks from the two of them being younger and training in boxing.

The fight takes up a good piece of the episode. There were a few things I think Luke should have done differently, but hey, it’s not my fault or my archenemy. They pretty much trash Pop’s again, poor place. They also get a lot of media coverage, which Mariah spins to more in her favor and anti-Cage. I swear, they’d be better off if Cornell Stokes had lived and Mariah Dillard died. She’s just so slimy and annoying.

Cage has been gaining in popularity in the neighborhood, and it’s great seeing that here. The crowd chants his name, watches (and videos) the fight. Despite Stryker being such a smug and vicious bad guy, Cage manages to win. Of course, it’s a mixed victory as he’s promptly arrested, or allows himself to be arrested, anyway.

Claire sees the fight and rushes to the scene. Candace, the very important hostess turned waitress, is at Soledad (Claire’s mom)’s place and Claire tells her to stay there. Claire leaves among some teasing from her mother. As the fight ends, Misty also arrests Mariah, who takes it about as well as you’d expect.

As the Misty, Luke, and Claire group gets to the precinct, they are swarmed by reporters. They call Luke a hero, which he disputes. Luke’s attitude throughout the series has been very admirable. He has quiet courage and determination. So far, I think I like him best of the Netflilx heroes we’ve seen. As Ridley very pointedly brings up the warrants for Luke’s arrest, Claire mentions she knows a really good attorney. This is far from the only time she hints about Matt “Daredevil” Murdock during Luke’s stay at the precinct. I wonder if that’s going to come up in the future.

Cage declines the implied help of Daredevil and says he’ll speak for himself. Inspector Ridley stays fairly adversarial towards Luke, which annoys Claire, Misty and most of the fans. Overall, the cops are being accommodating to Luke, despite Ridley’s best efforts, and a bit less so with Dillard. Between them, Luke and Claire do a good bit to refute the charges against Luke, and Claire makes a very basic suggestion the cops seem to have utterly overlooked.

The majority of the rest of the show is at the precinct. It’s really interesting watching the markedly different ways Luke and Mariah handle being there. Luke is positive and inspiring and even impresses the cops hanging around listening. Mariah is ugly, lashing out at everyone. It’s some very nice writing and good acting on both their parts.

By the end of the police scenes, there are some unfortunate but expected developments. The US Marshals show up to take Luke into custody because of his escape from Seagate. The interesting balance he strikes with them is going along, but refusing cuffs (not that they’d do much anyway). Mariah, due to some really ugly events, goes free, just as smug as ever. Harlem’s Paradise reopens. Diamondback, at least, is in custody, but the last scene with him and another supporting character make me wonder about what his future holds. And one of the last few scenes holds out some hope for Luke’s immediate future.

What I liked: Mike Colter is just really impressive as Luke Cage, both in this episode and throughout the series. Claire is a great character who is, at this point, my favorite in the Netflix portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A hero is only as good as his bad guys in many respects, and I enjoyed Shades, and thought Mariah made a good foe. The music was great during the entire run. I loved seeing the people of Harlem support Luke. I would have liked something closer to a “happy ending,” but the way they did it made sense. The two Marshals at the end were actually reasonable, likeable characters.

What I didn’t: Diamondback is the closest I think we’ve seen to “just plain evil” as a bad guy on the MCU. He certainly has the most pathetic motivation. I still don’t think the suit explanation works too well. I never really got a good sense of what was going on in Inspector Ridley’s head. I went from wondering if she was crooked to maybe stupid to just plain didn’t like Luke.

I’ll give the finale a 4 out of 5. I’ll give the series a 5 out of 5. So far, it stands at the head of the Netflix/Marvel series for me. But my personal favorite is up next, so I’ll have to see how they do with Cage’s best friend in the comics, Iron Fist.

March is too far off.

Daredevil Season Two- A Cold Day In Hell’s Kitchen (Season 2 Finale)

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There’s Something I’ve been Meaning To Tell You….

Daredevil’s second season comes to a close with “A Cold Day in Hell’s Kitchen.” The show starts with Nobu caressing the stone box we keep seeing the Hand with, while a woman with red hair reports to him. They have plans afoot to regain the Black Sky, no matter what Elektra or Daredevil want. Whatever they are plotting doesn’t sound like it’s going to be good for anyone. Read the rest of this entry

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