2018-2019 Arrowverse Roundup - Week 1 Review
And just like that...the Arrowverse is back! Yes, I know that Black Lightning isn't technically part of the Arrowverse, but he's been in the commercials with them, and I want all the CW Superhero shows consolidated into one post. Both Black Lightning and The Flash returned this week! Both did a lot of work in a short time too. So let's get to it.
The Flash - Episode 5.01 - "Nora"
The season 5 premiere started right where the season 4 finale ended, with the revelation of Nora Allen-West. The voiceover intro was done by Nora instead of Barry, in a very cool opening.
Nora is a speedster called XS, from 30 years in the future. They waste no time in telling us why she is actually here. Which is good. 2 or 3 seasons ago, it wouldn't have been until episode 10 or 11 until it was revealed.
Nora is certainly likeable, but you can tell she has even more secrets than what was revealed. She misses her dad, because Barry is still missing in the future. They laid out a lot of character work for her relationship with her parents but that was about it. The plot was paper thin, but just like this week's premiere of Doctor Who, it was tolerable because the character stuff was more important at the moment.
Ralph was made to be a stooge, he was not that ignorant last year. For a private investigator, he can't possibly be that willfully ignorant. I don't mind him being the light-hearted comic relief. He's great at that. But not at the expense of who the character is.
I'm glad we are getting right to Caitlin's Killer Frost mystery. That intrigued me last year, and I didn't want to wait until they needed a filler episode to touch on it again.
We didn't see the new Wells this week, though we did see the Thawne-Wells in a montage sequence. If I remember correctly, we didn't see Wells in episode 1 last year either. It is becoming something of a trend.
There were tons of references, as per the usual. Marty McFly, Terminator 2, and an in-universe reference to the Legends and the Waverider. It was actually quite appreciated, because that would have been my first question: "Why can't the Legends just return her to her own time?" So for them to answer that - even with a ton of nonsensical exposition like "negative tachyons", was a good thing. The best reference though, was Ryan Choi - the new Atom - dropped by Nora. She gave Barry a ring designed by him with a brand new suit in it. The ring is an awesome prop that the CW needs to start selling.
Nora made some references to the future. What is nice is that the show has done this before, and then we see it a few seasons later. She mentioned King Shark fighting Gorilla Grodd, and I don't know how long The Flash is going to remain on air, but this needs to happen before it goes away.
Barry did get his job as a CSI back, but I wonder why. I mean, I know why in-universe, but what purpose in the story will it serve this year. They had the freedom and time to do other things without that last year. I'm curious as to how it will be best utilized.
The whole notion of "firsts" that Barry wanted was a sweet one. He didn't like that Nora was here to take that away from him. But when he realizes he wouldn't be around to see it anyway, he changed his demeanor. Then The Flash did what The Flash does best - it gave Barry a "first" with Nora in the sweetest way possible, when he taught her how to "phase" during an airplane crash.
We got our first look at Cicada - our big bad of the season. I was convinced that he would recruit Gridlock, but he wanted to kill him instead. It is a different take on most of the big bads we are used to who specifically target The Flash...at least for now.
It usually takes a while for The Flash to get going. This season seems like no exception to that.
Black Lightning - Episode 2.01 - "The Book of Consequences: Chapter One: The Rise of the Green Light Babies"
I have a cramp just from writing the clunky title of this episode. But that was pretty much my only complaint. The episode hit the ground running and didn't stop for a breath the entire time.
The opening scene is a reminder that Black Lightning takes place in our world. The world where innocent children of color are being killed by law enforcement. It sets the stage really effectively, then we get caught up with rest of our characters. The only one we don't see (until the very end) is Tobias. But his presence is felt regardless.
The music is worth noting here too - it has always been great, but their song choices were really on point here."Think" and "It Takes Two" are just a couple of notable examples.
It doesn't take long for the action to ramp up either. Our first fight of the season is between Syonide (Charlbi Dean) and Kara Fowdy (Skye P. Marshall). Kara had these awesome knives on the bottom of her high heels. I hope she gets to use those again. They set her character up for a redemption arc by trying to get the briefcase, which is the macguffin of the season set up in the cliffhanger last season. It is unclear if she survived her encounter with Tobias at the end though. Judging by how the show has treated Lala and Khalil however, I'd say its a safe bet that we see Kara again.
The entire Pierce family is going through a lot, but none more so than Jen, whose powers seem out of control. She accidentally blasted her mom, Lynne, and Lynne looked legitimately frightened of her daughter. Jen created a force field around her, and there is a very poignant scene between her and Jefferson in the bathroom she is hiding in. When Jen's powers even out, or when she learns to control them, she could be more powerful than her entire family put together.
Anissa is causing a bigger divide between her and her father about how they need to handle things. She secured money needed for the people to sue the government by stealing it from drug dealers. This gave the show a superhero badge that they all need to earn - a hallway fight.
My favorite development though, was Henderson finally figuring out who Black Lightning and Thunder are. It was long overdue. At least they didn't drag it out as long as they did Quentin on Arrow. But my problem with the scene is that there was no set up. It was sharp cut right to the meeting. It felt out of place. Like it was forced in there for time, or a previous set up phone call or something like that was cut.
We've seen Jefferson lose his wife. We've seen Jefferson lose his powers. We've seen Jefferson almost lose his daughters. But we've never seen him lose his occupation as principal. Until now. It is just another sacrifice that he must make in order to protect Freeland. I have a feeling that Tobias will become the new principal, which will make Jefferson's journey even worse, but maybe I watch too much TV.
This first episode did a lot, and I look forward to seeing the seeds that were planted grow into fulfilling story lines this year.
Black Lightning's back!
Next week, Supergirl and Arrow return!