2018-2019 Arrowverse Roundup - Week 8 Review



This week, we had another Thanksgiving, a prison break, bonding moments, and people realizing how far they will go. A full slate of DC CW shows to feast our eyes on, with one episode in particular becoming an instant masterpiece.

You can read all of this season's Arrowverse* reviews right here.

*Yes, I know Black Lightning is not in the Arrowverse officially. But neither was Supergirl...until it was. I am including it here for convenience sake.

  ***

Supergirl - Episode 4.07 - "Rather The Fallen Angel"

This episode had two very distinct stories. Usually they will sort of blend in with each other. But you had Lena and her human experiment - and then you had everything else.

It will all come together eventually, but it felt like we were watching two different shows. That isn't a bad thing, as both were intriguing. But usually it isn't as separate as this was.

Lena tried hard not to become attached to the human experiment, but in such a short time, she fell for him, and so did the audience. Adam (Michael Johnston) had a wonderful arc in the short time we knew him. For him to make that much progress with Lena was great. Of course, due to the short nature of his stay, they didn't have to hold anything back for later. When Lena mentions that the subject had died, you feel for him as an audience member, even though you just met him less than hour before. He was necessary for Lena's journey though, who dealt with things from her past. That might help or hinder her relation with James who is on a journey of his own.

James was almost manipulated into killing Supergirl. He didn't know that is what he was being manipulated into of course, but just the fact he didn't have a solid back up plan for anything that could have gone wrong when he went into this situation is disheartening. But both James and Lena have had extreme experiences, without each other to lean on.

Manchester Black (David Ajala) is a fantastic addition to the cast this year. They sorted of needed a vigilante type that wasn't "in line" with Supergirl's ideals. He's an excellent "anti-hero", or "vigilante", or "mercenary" or whatever you want to call him. But I like that each episode you don't know what side he is on until you do. I hope the character has more adventures like the one this week, and is in the show for a long time.

This season has been pretty ambitious. They've almost abandoned the "Russian Supergirl" thread entirely. It will come back with a vengeance, but hopefully it doesn't seem forced when it does.

That is neither here nor there at this time. "Rather The Fallen Angel" had a lot to offer, and this show is getting better at making the b-plots more important. That is about all you can ask for at this point.

***

Arrow - Episode 7.07 - "The Slabside Redemption"


There are times when you realized you just watched something truly special as the credits are rolling. That is what "The Slabside Redemption" was. In 7 seasons, Arrow has had a handful of truly spectacular episodes. In almost 150 episodes, "Slabside" was in the top 5 of all time.

The battle of Diaz vs Queen came head to head again, in a maximum security prison. All of the prison threads coagulated to make an edge of your seat, compelling at every turn, impeccably shot episode.

Save a quick cameo from Felicity and Diggle at the very end, the only regulars in the episode were Diaz and Ollie. That made the episode a bit more high stakes. There was no break to cut to Rene and Dinah, or something like that. It was full on intense from the get-go.

While this episode had nearly all positives, the biggest stand out was Michael Jai White as Turner! I was not expecting the title of the episode to be about him! His character has one of the strongest arcs this season, and if that is the last we see of him, it'll be a shame. There is a future where he continues his path in Slabside, gets out, and actually joins Team Arrow. If White became a series regular, the show would be better for it. But if that is the last time we see him, then his character received a wonderful send off.

Stanley will be back. He escaped. He will become a nuisance to Oliver. The producers did a great job casting an assuming dweeb, it made it easier to believe his story. Diaz is too smart not use Stanley against Oliver. I have faith they will use him correctly - Arrow has earned a ton of good faith credit this season.

If I had to pick one thing that didn't sit right with me it is Diaz's prison journey. I don't see how Dinah would let him be transported by himself with only an easily bribed guard. Dinah would have done it herself, with a taskforce, and maybe even ARGUS to back her up. That happens, and the episode can't. So I understand it. But that is when you write something in that Dinah is getting her requests blocked or something. They would never let Diaz have a "standard" prison escort. But I can let that go, because the rest of the episode was immensely enjoyable.

I guessed at the beginning that Oliver would get out of prison somehow at the end of episode 7 or the beginning of episode 8, knowing that the crossover was episode 9. But I wasn't expecting it to be so satisfactory on many different levels. Knowing what we know from the flashforwards, it will be interesting to see what the rest of the season has in store for us. Diaz isn't going away anytime soon. He will be a pain for Team Arrow the rest of the season.

If you watched "Slabside" in a vacuum, it is still entertaining just for the fight sequences, stunts, and close quarters of it all. But having the context that most had, makes it even better. We just witnessed something special, and I hope most people appreciated it as much as me.

***

Legends Of Tomorrow - Episode 4.06 - "Tender Is The Nate"


A dark, intense, unrelenting hour that Arrow provided had the perfect pallet cleanser in Legends of Tomorrow when Nate and his dad encountered Salvador Dali and Ernest Hemingway on the way to fight a Minotaur with a lute....

Now that you've digested that sentence, it is worth noting that no ridiculous premise yet has stopped Legends of Tomorrow from doing extraordinary character work. Nate finally got to rejoin the Waverider (albeit temporarily - it seems they made a point to say he was staying at the Time Bureau a couple of times).

We finally had Nate come face to face with Charlie, who looks like Amaya. He handled it - and got over it - surprisingly well. It was almost like they dealt with it because they had to, not because it was a story they wanted to tell. It was resolved with a toast less than an hour later.

Mona is a wonderfully quirky new addition to the team. The b-plot with her, Ava and Nora was actually quite good. Each one got some of that masterful Legends character development they needed.

Nate and his father's relationship came to a head, and they finally have an understanding of each other. Tom Wilson is a wonderful addition to the cast, especially with is Back To The Future ties. We all know Wilson is good at playing the jerk, but he has some great comedic chops as well. It will be fun to see him on another mission.

Nora can't stay locked up forever, as a series regular, they need to give her more to do. But the first steps of her realizing she can use her powers for good - and sorting out her feelings for Ray is a good start.

Shows are always better when their entire cast can be on screen at the same time. We got closer than we've ever been this season with that, and it was a ton of fun. Watching this directly after Arrow was jarring in terms of tone, but that is what makes the Arrowverse so special.

There is very little connective tissue this season. Out of all of the shows, this is the most "monster of the week" format. But for Legends it kind of works, because I am so excited to see where they will end up next week.

***

The Flash - Episode 5.07 - "O Come, All Ye Thankful"


It was inevitable that we were to get an episode dedicated to the origins of our bad guy, Cicada. I just wasn't expecting it so early. Orlin Dwyer's story is a sad one. It was nice to see Chris Klein be able to do something of substance. His acting was on point.

There was some acting that wasn't on point though. Our "villain of the week" was Weather Wizard's daughter who had Meta-Tech. She did some what we can call "exquisite" acting. It was so bad it went all the way around and almost became good again. The scenes where she was yelling about her father were cringeworthy. The crew must have been in a rush to get the take or something, because there is no other reason for such jarring acting.

The metaphor presented between Nora and her parents, and Weather Witch and her father was a bit on the nose. It seems they are treading water with Nora. Every week she either has an issue with her mother, or her father. After they've exhausted that, then what? It has already gotten a bit repetitive. Some revelation or some event has to happen to catapult the story forward.

It was Thanksgiving this week for them, and that brought up some issues of what "family" actually is. It isn't necessarily blood. Team Flash is family. Sherloque, Cisco, and Caitlin do have extreme family issues, but they knew that Team Flash was their family. It seemed out of place for them to want to "boycott" Thanksgiving dinner.

Caitlin and Killer Frost seem to be copacetic again. That didn't take long. The barrier that DeVoe created is now gone. It seems that she can turn at will. I like that aspect of the character, so I am happy that she's back. But it seems they abandoned the struggle of duality very quickly.

It is good that the team finally figured out the identity of Cicada. It isn't believable to have a room full of that many geniuses and have it take 20 episodes to figure out.

Them finding out the identity of Cicada was a nice cliffhanger to stop on actually. Next week is the 100th episode of The Flash so it will be a time travel celebration of the series. Then after that is the crossover. So things won't begin to pick up steam again until episode 10. The next two episodes should be fun to watch though.

***

Black Lightning - Episode 2.07 - "The Book Of Blood Chapter Three: The Sange"


This show continually impresses week after week. The story they are telling on Black Lightning is truly something to witness. The episode started with Jefferson getting "tortured" which was actually humorous, because he wasn't being tortured at all. He was being powered up. It was a great twist on a standard torture interrogation scene.

Khalil and Tobias finally reached a breaking point. So did Jennifer with her family. They found each other, and the episode ending with them taking off into the sunset will open up all kinds of story potential. What I found most interesting, is that when I had subtitles on the episode Jen was credited as "Lightning". This of course becomes her superhero name later, but when she was telling Khalil to follow her voice, "Lightning" was how it was listed. So if there was ever any doubt as to what direction they are taking her character, now you can rest easy.

Anaya and Jefferson are still at odds, but they know how to put aside their differences when it matters. That doesn't mean they still won't butt heads. Jefferson made a dark decision turning over The Looker to the ASA. If Amaya made that decision, Jefferson would not be okay with it.

Jefferson also found out that Gambi was indeed alive. It isn't clear how he found out where Gambi was though. Did he reverse engineer the tracker? That part wasn't clear. But their reunion was very heartfelt and fun to watch. There are a lot of seeds planted, and the mystery of Gambi's attempted assassination will be a fun thing to see unravel.

The best part about Black Lightning is that every episode is important to the story. They all further the story in some way. The Scooby Doo formula is nowhere near Freeland. There are some episodes of other superhero shows that feel like they struggled to get to 42 minutes. Black Lightning's episodes feel like every frame had to fight to make it in the episode, and that is what makes the episodes so compelling. Everything has earned the right to be there.

"The Book Of Blood" is over now. Next week we start a new book in the Black Lightning saga, and Tuesday can't come fast enough.

***
This week it wasn't even close. Arrow was by far the best episode by a wide, wide margin. That was a stunning piece of television. Black Lightning and Legends were honorable mentions, but they weren't even in the same country as Arrow this week.

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