Arrowverse Roundup - Week 4 Review
This week in the Arrowverse, we had Gods, babies, humor, "frenemies" and technobabble! There were some tonal shifts, some new important characters and elements introduced, and some new journeys for old characters to go on. We had a full slate this week, with all four shows airing, and they ran the gamut of storytelling.
You can see all of this season's reviews right here, and like always there will be spoilers for the episodes that aired this week.
Supergirl - Episode 3.04 - "The Faithful"
Supergirl has used its platform to push a lot of issues. Women empowerement, LGBTQ rights, things like that. For the most part it has always blended into the show well. This week, they tackled religion, and to be honest, it seemed a bit forced.
I liked the message that even the religions with the best intentions can be bastardized and made extreme, because it is true for every religion. In this case, they are worshiping a Krypton god, Rao, and Supergirl herself. Since we know the God in question in this instance, it should be easy to understand the religion. Supergirl is wonderful. But they bastardized it and try to put people in danger on purpose so that everyone can have the wonderful experience of being saved by her.
Superman has been used as an allegory for Jesus in a lot of different things (comics, TV episodes, etc). Even in Batman v Superman, the statue of him was grafitti'd as "false God". It isn't a new idea, but this is the first time it has bled over into Supergirl.
The episode was a good way to have a commentary on religion, but it didn't feel as organic as the other social issues presented in the show. That could change, since it seemed the reason for it was to set up Samantha Arias as Reign, but they could have planted seeds earlier.
There was more with Samantha Arias that I felt was some strong character development. Her relationship with Ruby (her daughter), and her burgeoning friendship with Kara, Lana, Alex and Maggie was part of it, but her workaholic nature and being able to catch a break I think was the key to the episode. Samantha is a single mom, who loves her daughter very much, even if she makes mistakes. She is running a huge company, and seems like things are going well for her. That is what is going to make her spiral into "Reign" all the more interesting.
This is the only show where I don't know where it is going. I mean, I don't know exactly where Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow are going, but I have a general idea. The plot and story are set up to know what their goal by the end of the season is, or at least, a common story that will be told throughout. Supergirl hasn't given me any of that yet, other than knowing Samantha Arias will be someone of importance. It is hard to stay invested when something like that is going on.
Some of Supergirl's issues are not unique, like Arrow and The Flash they have characters that they have no idea what to do with. That is why Thea is in a coma and Wally just left Central City. Winn has had virtually nothing of importance to do this season. Everything he has done some DEO scrub could have done. Even when everyone got relationship stories (which Winn could have a good one) he was left out, and worst of all, when they dealt with fathers, Winn was left out. Winn has the best "father" story on the show. They dealt with him in season 1, but villains can always come back. He hasn't had any opportunity to shine, and that is a shame.
James hasn't had much to do either - especially not as "The Guardian", but at least there's a little something there with him butting heads with Lena Luthor, and being a sounding board for Kara. But if you removed Winn and James from the show, as it stands right now, it wouldn't change too much. It would be like gelatin, other characters would just fill in the blanks of those two and the show would go on the same path it is right now.
It looks like Lena embraces some of her "Luthor" roots next week. Maybe that will lead to something.
The Flash - Episode 4.04 - "Elongated Journey Into Night"
This show is in its fourth season. Usually by then something like tone should be figured out. The Flash keeps changing its tone. Shows reinvent themselves all the time, but on any given Tuesday the show can be dark and brooding like Arrow or in the case of this Tuesday, campy and slapstick like Legends. I know they wanted to be "lighter" and "more fun" this season but they need to find some middle ground between Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. I mean this episode was like an episode of Abbott & Costello or something. They even made Joe throw up! Puking is funny!
They wrote Kid Flash out to bring in........Elongated Man. An obscure DC character to be sure, but he definitely fits in the "lighter tone" of the show. I can see him being recurring and even showing up on Legends of Tomorrow where the weirdness has been embraced for a long time now.
Ralph Dibny was an old colleague of Barry's who was fired for tampering with evidence and it was Barry who caught him, so they don't have the best of relationships. It is weird to see Barry get that riled up - he didn't even really get that way with Savitar or Julian. But because there is no Julian (why is there no Julian?) Barry needed some character in which to have friction with that wasn't a straight up villain. This was the solution.
If writing out Wally (albeit temporarily apparently) was to save money on special effects, I can't imagine Dibny's elasticity is much cheaper to do, and while he's not a regular, he does seem like he was set up to be recurring so is it really that much cheaper? I guess I am not over Wally being written out for no reason. Let's move on.
We got to meet Gypsy's father Breacher, played by Danny Trejo. It was a perfectly entertaining B-Plot with Cisco wanting to impress his girlfriend's father, and him having none of it, until the end when Cisco earns his respect. It was text book, but rounded out the episode nicely.
This is the part of The Flash review where I point out the Arrow reference made this episode. It was when Iris saw a picture of Ralph Dibny and said he was hot in a "square jawed Oliver Queen kind of way". Then Caitlin mentioned to Iris that she thought Oliver Queen was hot too. We are 4/4 in Arrow references on The Flash and with Emily Bett Rickards bringing Felicity to The Flash next week, we will automatically be 5/5. I wonder if we can get a perfect score of Arrow references on The Flash this season; and if so, was it a conscious effort or just the natural flow of the narrative?
Other references include an homage to Die Hard ("Guess who's got a hologram. Ho ho ho.") and Cisco's shirt which might be his best one yet. It said "#Octothorpe" which is the name for the "hashtag sign". Very "meta" but not in the way this show usually uses that word. I wonder if Carlos Valdes has any say in those, if they're custom made, and how many he has.
I've lost count now at all the people who know that Barry Allen is the Flash but it is getting up there with the number of people who know Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow. "Secret Identity" means nothing in the CW-verse. (In fact, now that I think about it, somebody new this week knows that Supergirl is Kara too!)
The episode ended with Barry possibly recruiting Dibny and with Joe announcing Cecile was pregnant to everybody. Everybody was thrilled with the pregnancy news, it was a sweet, sincere moment that the silly episode needed. That child is obviously going to come into play somehow down the line, I am just not sure how yet. It also had a tease of "DeVoe" who we had heard from Savitar before. So it seems that path is still set as well.
Next week, Felicity comes to town! Bachelor and Bachelorette parties are happening, and if they keep up this semi-silly tone, then hijinks will ensue. I guess it is better than a dark, depressing party.
Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 3.04 - "Phone Home"
Legends of Tomorrow had their homage to E.T. The Extra Terrestrial this week, with some Back To The Future Part II thrown in for good measure - complete with a DeLorean!
The Dominators returned from last years crossover as the antagonist in this episode. No Time Bureau, no prominent historical person, just a personal story involving Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Zari's (Tala Ashe) first "mission" so to speak. It was actually a good way to get Zari endeared to Ray, having her interact with Ray's younger self. Young Ray befriends a Dominator and the Legends have to get it back to its mother before it kills young Ray.
While that was the facade that the episode operated under, it was really about Zari forming a relationship with him. Whether it is going to be romantic or not remains to be seen, but there is definitely a blossoming friendship there now.
Young Ray was a lot like Elliot from E.T. and the show made sure to be incredibly thorough in driving that point home. There was even a shot of him on a flying bike with the moon behind him! It was good for Ray to encounter his younger self though, I think it gave him more confidence with the Legends who are all "cooler" than him. I think everybody could grow in some way by encountering their younger self. Unfortunately it is impossible to do, but it is fun to imagine. But to see it happen to Ray is relatable to anyone who watches the show.
They have officially started the journey of Dr. Stein's (Victor Garber) exit from the show. He is leaving to be on Broadway, so they have to write him out. With
"not wanting to be on the ship" and his grandson - a product of them messing with time travel - now being born, he has a reason to stay at home with his daughter. It is a sweet landing place for the character.
The problem is who Garber's character is linked to. He is one half of Firestorm, with Jax (Franz Drameh) being the other. Those characters rely on each other, and need each other to be on par with the others. So when Jax came to Ray to want to try and separate the Firestorm matrix so he can do it by himself, I understand where the choice came from. It also happens to be a pretty great character arc for Jax to go through, so some good is coming from Garber leaving. It has happened in the comics before (to Ronnie Raymond I think, but don't hold me to that) so it is not unprecedented.
There was no evolution to the overarching story line, but they needed to take care of some character business. It is not their fault Garber wants to leave, so I am happy they are taking their time to make it feel organic and right than shoehorn it in in one episode and be done with it.
Between Nate washing a DeLorean, to guards breaking out in song in dance, to Ray trying to get the team to do "trust" exercises, there was no shortage of silliness that the show thrives on. Some of it bled into The Flash this week, but there was certainly enough of it to go around.
I am happy that the Dominators were not a one (two if you count the Earth-38 versions shown on Supergirl) off for the crossover and then forgotten. If they pop in every now and then on the various shows, it'll be a nice treat. They are a fun villain to see and for our heroes to fight.
Next week, the Legends tackle vampires! I hope the show always embraces its ridiculousness, because it makes for a fun ride when you go in expecting that.
Arrow - Episode 6.04 - "Reversal"
I know people are drawn to Arrow for different reasons. Some of the aspects of the show I don't like are what people love most, and vice versa. I have been very much enjoying this season so far, and while I do have a few issues (like wanting to see Oliver Queen as the Green Arrow again even though I love Diggle) it is one of the strongest seasons to date.
Last season was a step in the right direction, but it still had issues. One of those issues for me, was Felicity's story line with Helix the "hacktivist" group. It was out of character and parts of it were absolutely cringeworthy. So I was disappointed to see that story line return in this episode - at first. While the characters are trying to be better versions of themselves all around, the writers seem to be doing the same thing. Instead of ignoring Helix completely, they framed it in a context that works. The person Felicity went against the team to rescue was named Cayden James, and it turns out, that is who Michael Emerson is playing as this season's big bad. They took that story and recontextualized it to have deeper meaning. While it has only been for less than one episode, it seems to be working so far.
That could just be my Michael Emerson bias however. He was the far and away the best thing to happen LOST and his career had exploded ever since. For him to be the one to rescue someone off an island to join his crusade made me laugh. I see what you did there, Arrow writers, and I liked it!
There was more role reversal, while this time Oliver ran the computers to help Felicity in the field. First, it was Diggle, now it is Felicity. Oliver is trying to find his place in this new iteration of the team. For how long, we don't know. But it is certainly temporary, Oliver Queen will be the Green Arrow again. What makes me nervous is what makes him break his promise to his son. Could it be because his son won't be around anymore? Or will he need rescuing (again), and after Oliver rescues him, then William is okay with the Green Arrow again? Will Aunt Thea return and convince him? Who knows, but that could throw their relationship into turmoil again.
Oliver wants to be back in the fight again. When he started giving instructions and laying out a plan out of pure habit, everyone on the team smiled. He realized what he was doing and stopped himself, but the team liked it. He even went undercover to protect Felicity when Oliver thought she was in danger. He is just looking for reasons to fight. It is ingrained in his DNA.
This week, the team had to "save the internet" which they made a physical thing. It wasn't as jokey as when The I.T. Crowd did it, this made a bit more sense, but to say it out loud sounds funny. The team had to "save the internet" in order to "save the world" because Cayden wanted to "break the internet". That is about as ridiculous as Arrow willing to get now. The extremely ridiculous stuff can be saved for Legends of Tomorrow and now The Flash apparently.
Since Arrow is the parent show, it gets referenced quite a bit in the other shows. Rarely does Arrow do it in reverse, unless it serves the story. But this week Curtis referenced a dating app called "Upswipes" which is where Ray Palmer worked in 2017 before they became Legends again. It wasn't as on the nose as some of the other references that have been done this season but those little nuggets are a nice way to keep a cohesive shared universe.
"Now the time is right". That is what Felicity said to Oliver on their date about reigniting their relationship. I think that was a nod to the audience, saying last time was premature, and this time they are going to slow it down and do it right. So far, they have succeeded on that front.
Next week - Deathstroke returns in an episode called...."Deathstroke Returns"! But you'll get a little flavor of Arrow before that, when Felicity shows up on The Flash next week as well.
What was your favorite episode or moment of the week?
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