Arrowverse Roundup - Week 6 Review
This week was an odd one. The crossover shooting schedule bled into other episodes and had an impact on the stories. There was humor, heart, and spectacle as per the Arrowverse bible, but there were many flaws that could have been avoided with better planning. There were some great character moments though, and when Arrowverse character moments are good, they're great!
Click below to see my breakdown of all four episodes that aired this week, and as always there will be spoilers for the episodes that aired.
You can see all of this season's reviews right here.
Supergirl - Episode 3.06 - "Midvale"
Last week, I complained that for a show called The Flash, there was no Flash in it. Barry Allen was prevalent, but not the superhero alter-ego. Well, it happened this week in Supergirl! There was lots of Kara, but no Supergirl. Even worse, it wasn't even charming, adorable Melissa Benoist as Kara. (At least The Flash had charming, adorable Grant Gustin as a drunk Barry during its Flash-less episode). That at least would have had something going for it. Instead it was a Smallville-esque prequel episode with younger versions of Kara and Alex.
Look, I get it. Logistics can impact the story. In order for Melissa and Chyler to film the crossover - essentially be in 3 extra episodes this season - they find shortcuts and workarounds to make it work and keep it cheap. Doctor Who used to do it all the time. The BBC had a budget for 13 episodes, Doctor Who did 14 by filming 2 episodes simultaneously. One of those episodes usually had very little of the Doctor in them. It is not a new thing. But this felt weird.
They could have pulled an Arrow (who is using Deathstroke for a two-parter) and we could have followed Tyler Hoechlin's Superman for an episode or two. Integrating that into a Supergirl story, like Deathstroke with Arrow could have yielded a better result.
First of all, they cast all new actors for young Alex and young Kara. They were wonderful actors, both of which nailed the essence of their older counterparts to perfection. But we've seen younger versions of these characters before now, in flashbacks and such. To get used to a new set of actors takes time.
In the limited time we've seen younger versions of both Alex and Kara, we never saw them fight like the way we saw them do here. This was after they thought their Dad was dead, and a mere ten years before present day, so Kara had been with the family for a while now. A traumatic experience like the death of a parent can change people, but it seemed like some of the drama between the two was unnecessarily forced, for the sake of this particular story, and to reflect the parallels of what was going on in the present day.
Melissa and Chyler did bookend the episode. Both upset about their relationship statuses, they went home to Midvale, where they grew up. Kara is still upset over the loss of Mon-El, because she had to sacrifice him to save the Earth by sending him away from the planet. Alex is upset because she suddenly wants kids and never talked to Maggie about that until after she became engaged. Alex gets mad that Kara is trying to cheer her up because Kara wouldn't cheer up after Mon-El, because those two situations are totally on par with each other.....
They fall asleep in the room they grew up in, and that morphs into the younger versions waking up in that room a decade earlier. By the way, that was a beautiful house, and it was pretty decently sized - the girls still had to share a bedroom?
The story of their teenage relationship, and them solving their first mystery together was actually quite sweet. It just didn't fit the narrative laid out before us already. I don't know if they had their timeline completely straight. You see Kara leaping far distances in the woods to try and get somewhere quickly, and later she is flying. Superman and Supergirl only ever "leaped tall buildings in a single bound" when they were learning how to fly. Then later, Alex asks Kara if she wanted to go flying like they used to do it all the time. So why leap?
There was even a "Chloe" mention for Smallville fans, which had unfortunate timing with the revelation of Smallville's Chloe actress Allison Mack being second in charge of a sex cult. It was a fun Easter Egg, and with the other shows getting to reference each other all the time, Supergirl finally got in on the fun.
The little momentum the show did gain came to a screeching halt with this episode. Hopefully they can pick up steam in the next episode before they have to halt again for the crossover, which I assume will be its own self-contained thing.
The Flash - Episode 4.06 - "When Harry Met Harry"
The Flash has been very uneven this season. They wanted to be lighter, but did it to the shows detriment. This week, they evened out quite nicely, the episode had a nice balance of humor and drama.
Ralph Dibny was training under the tutelage of Barry on his journey to become Elongated Man. He is still just Ralph at the moment though, and it made for some fun moments. My issue was how Barry was okay with him being in the field so quickly. He was very hesitant with Jesse and Wally - both of which had the same powers as Barry, so he understood them better, yet didn't want them in the field. But Dibny, who is just wearing blue spandex, is okay to be out there according to Barry, and because of it, a little girl almost died. That incident helped with Dibny's evolution, and he is a better person - and probably a better superhero for it. It just didn't make sense for Barry to be as careful as he was with Jesse and Wally, but not with Ralph.
By far the best part of the entire episode was when Harry gathered his "friends" to help figure out who DeVoe is. His friends ended up just being several different Wells from other Earths. It was extremely entertaining to see Tom Cavanagh play four different roles in one scene. Cavanagh is a delight to watch no matter what, but to see him really stretch his talents here was pure bliss. Some people might find it hacky or gimmicky, but it was used well here. It was much better than say Cisco being chased by his girlfriend's father, or drunk Barry being absolutely ridiculous.
As far as references go, they let Legends of Tomorrow do the Oliver Queen/Arrow reference this week. But they did reference an incredible movie - Good Will Hunting. When Dibny was feeling guilt over what happened to the little girl, he learned and evolved. She was still in the hospital, and at the end said to Barry "I gotta see about a girl". Which is how Good Will Hunting essentially ends. Dibny is Will and Barry is Sean. Barry made Dibny see who he truly is, to find is real identity. It was a bit rushed, but effective enough. There were a few Jurassic Park references too, since the meta they faced this week was one who could animate statues of effigies and have them do her bidding. She used a dinosaur in a museum, and it definitely made for a fun light adventure, for better or for worse. Plus we got the line "For the love of Jeff Goldblum, STOP!" which I will be using in my everyday vernacular now.
Barry and The Thinker (DeVoe) finally came to face to face at the end, but it was not how you would expect. DeVoe looked like a normal man in a wheelchair, not the flying, half-machined man we were used to seeing. Last year, they had to out smart Savitar, but Barry also had to be physically better - physically faster than he ever had been before. This time, it seems like it will be pure brains. If The Flash has a surplus of anything, it is brains, especially now that they can summon them from other Earths at will.
As mentioned above, this episode was the first time I saw the balance they needed to have The Flash be "lighter and fun" but still resonate as the show everyone fell in love with. Hopefully they can keep that tone throughout. The preview next week looks like there is ridiculous Iris moments again. But I withhold judgment until I see the episode.
Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 3.06 - "Helen Hunt"
Out of all four shows, Legends of Tomorrow is doing by far the best character work. Their character work needs to be strong in a show with such fabulously ridiculous storytelling. I knew we were in for a ridiculous treat just by the title alone. Other than not actually seeing Helen Hunt in the episode, I was not disappointed. Hedy Lamar was competing with Helen of Troy for movie roles in the 1930s while Jax and Stein switched bodies, and Damien Darhk acted as a Hollywood agent. That is a real sentence I just wrote.
Without question, the best part of the episode was seeing Franz Drameh do his best Victor Garber impression. Franz nailed the essence of Stein - much more than Garber nailed the essence of Jax - but he was still fun to watch too.
This episode was all about female empowerment and the battle they face in Hollywood which is way more relevant now then when they wrote it with all of the sexual assault allegations coming to light.
The episode opened up with a static old-timey 30's version of the logo which set the tone immediately. The tone remained consistent, and the episode was better for it.
In this week's obligatory Oliver Queen/Arrow reference - Sara and Darhk were bantering back and forth, and they decided to duel League of Assasins style, so Darhk couldn't use his magic. “I don't need magic to kill you”, he said. Sara responded with “Funny…
We delved into a bit more of Amaya's history; and found out Kuasa is her other granddaughter that isn't "Vixen". Family grudges are a story point as old as time, but they are still around because they work extraordinarily well. Last year it was Sara wanting revenge for Laurel. This year it is Kuasa wanting to punish Amaya for not getting the amulet. Ray knew who Kuasa was, and you get the Back to the Future philosophy of can't know too much about your own history. It will provide interesting dynamics in the future. Since the character interactions for the most part have been strong this whole season, I don't see that changing much.
While it was (too) plainly spelled out for us, I like that Sara is making a conscious effort not to be the same sort of captain that Rip Hunter was. The Legends need each other. All of them, equally. Rip would use them against each other to further his own agendas. Sara wants to keep them a family.
It should only be a matter of time before we introduce Mallus. It doesn't seem like Damien Darhk is going anywhere either, so the team up is inevitable. Once that happens, the stories should get a bit more intense than the silly journeys we've been on this season.
All the new additions this season have been great, but no more than Tala Ashe's Zari. She brings a wonderful new dynamic. A bit outsider, a bit team member. I hope she sticks around for a long time, and while she was a supporting member this episode, which tends to happen in ensemble shows, she should be in the forefront more often than not.
Next week we go to Vietnam and get some much needed Rory action. Dominic Purcell has been in the background too long this season. It'll be nice to see him in the forefront.
Arrow - Episode 6.06 - "Promises Kept"
Last week was part one of the Deathstroke story, and it was pretty good, so I knew I would enjoy this week's episode as well. I expected them to wrap up Slade Wilson's storyline, but I didn't expect them to further Diggle's story at the same time.
The majority of the episode focused on Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and his son. This was probably the same reason we had a weird Supergirl episode this week - do a bit of an off shoot, so the main cast can go film the crossover which is essentially three extra episodes. Unlike Supergirl, the Deathstroke story was spread out through two episodes, so the minimal filming the main cast was able to do seemed like more.
I was convinced that this episode would have something that would push Oliver back into taking up the mantle of the Green Arrow. It didn't. If anything, it pushed him more to other side, where he knows he made the right decision giving it up. We all know he will be the Green Arrow again. It is the why that is intriguing. There is only one more episode to go before the crossover happens, so if it doesn't happen next week, it'll be a plot point in the crossover.
I'm glad we got Deathstroke's back story, enough to fill in the blanks of what we didn't know. The way he left, teased he could always return, whether it is in his own show (doubtful, but you never know) or to Arrow. It would be fun to see him in Legends of Tomorrow or The Flash as well, if only to see how the other casts react to him.
A highlight of the episode was getting to see Oliver (Stephen Amell) fight again! It had been a while, and he hasn't done much of it this season. He had a proper fight too, coordination and everything.
Meanwhile, Diggle and the team had to take out a new drug kingpin - the same drug kingpin that Diggle was getting his steroids from. It allowed Diggle to finally hit "rock bottom" but we wouldn't know that if he didn't tell us. It was a shot of him staring into the fire, where his drugs were burning. I don't think anybody could have gotten "rock bottom" for that scene, so thank goodness for exposition...
Diggle came clean, but Felicity and Oliver still don't know. I assume that will happen next week during "Thanksgiving", and start the journey to Oliver reclaiming his mantle once again.
This new optimistic, lighter Oliver Queen is more of a success than he has been a failure. While not perfect for the character, it is a nice change from the brooding, angsty, angry Oliver. He was actually giving off Supergirl vibes in his unwavering support of Slade.
When Slade and Ollie were trapped in a warehouse, Slade said "there's no way out" to which Ollie responded "Let's make our own way, come on!" It's a nice metaphor for the show and what it has done. It built it's own universe on tv, which is arguable harder to do than in movies. Not only that, they did it on network television, in which they have more obstacles than somewhere like Netflix.
Arrow has made it's own way - for better or for worse - for 6 years now, and has paved the way for 3 (soon 4) other shows to follow. Next week's episode, fittingly called "Thanksgiving" will lead us right into the crossover. After you awake from your turkey coma, grab some dessert and tune in!
What was your favorite episode of the week?