2019-2020 Arrowverse Roundup - Week 3


This week we had a ton of returning faces, new costumes, big revelations, and emotional resonance that took us one step closer to Crisis On Infinite Earths.

Below is a breakdown of all of the Arrowverse stuff that aired this week. It is part review, part speculation, part analysis, and part rambling. It is organized in the order they aired throughout the week, so feel free to scroll down to whatever ones you watch. If you want to get caught up, you can use my Arrowverse Viewing Order guide to help you navigate!

You can read this season's previous breakdowns here.

Batwoman - Episode 1.03 - Down Down Down


Things are really starting to roll now. Batwoman is finding its footing. Not only is Kate Kane beginning to establish herself and her own identity, but the show is leaning more heavily into the Bat-lore too. Tommy Elliot (Hush) showed up, and there was even a Riddler reference! It was a good idea to make Hush the catalyst in which Batwoman came to be. It forced her to stop being a Batman wannabe, and have her own identity. 

The episode made a point to drill that home, by having Kate say to Bruce in her journal "I'm not you." This show is a little too on the nose sometimes, but no one can say they don't get their point across.

The show has developed a bad habit, and it needs to stop before it becomes too much. Once again, Luke highlighted a piece of Bat-Tech out of the blue, and that was later used in the climax of the episode. There is no subtly to it. There is no nuance to it. It is shoehorned in there every time, and makes for a bad moment. They should just let the character use those things with the understanding that Batman made a gadget for everything. It shouldn't have to be spelled out every single time, that gets exhausting.

The Sophie/Mary dynamic was quite fun. There is a lot of backstory to mine with those two, and it makes for fun interactions. Alice/Beth seems truly lost, and her journey won't be complete if Kate can't bring her back to the light.

The new costume reveal was much better than the old one. It looks much better too. It was a good move not to have them wait too long to reveal the costume we already saw in Elseworlds.

"Down Down Down" did strong story work, while keeping up the character threads that they had already established. There are still a few problems, but it is on the right track now at least.

***

Supergirl - Episode 5.03 - Blurred Lines


Each episode kicks the story into a higher and higher gear. There was no easing the audience into the season. It went full speed very quickly. They tackled a lot for a 42 minute episode.

William is still a mysterious thorn in Kara's side. His motivations aren't clear, but it feels like he has a secret that will change the perception about him. He might even become a series replacement for James Olsen once Mehcad Brooks leaves the show.

Lena is fantastically manipulating everyone, including Kara. Kara is being played like a fiddle. Things will come to a head eventually, but it feels like this is going to be a long tease that lasts until the very end. Kara as Supergirl committed what is essentially a felony to help Lena, and Lena is sure to exploit that.

Supergirl found itself with one of the best guest stars on the planet in Sean Astin. Though he was really J'onn's brother in disguise, one would hope that they don't cast Astin for a one off, and that the true version of the character can join the show in some form later on. Hopefully the line "I'm in crisis now" was a hint of things to come...

The most intriguing part of the episode was once again J'onn recovering his memories. It was one of the most heartbreaking reveals of the entire series, and will hopefully pay off in dividends. Martian Manhunter has a rich mythology, and it is a barely tapped mine 5 seasons in. It is nice that they are leaving their comfort zone and doing some stranger things.

Weaving Kelly Olsen into that story line was a good move, now Malefic's journey affects more than just J'onn. With Kelly and James off into hiding, things are ramping up. Hopefully they won't be gone too long. This season has been much more evenly paced then last season so far. Which has made this season stronger overall.

***

Black Lightning - Episode 3.03 - The Book Of Occupation: Chapter Three: Agent Odell's Pipe-Dream


Just like in Batwoman, the protagonist couldn't keep the current status quo forever. Also just like Batwoman, it was this episode that finally had the protagonist suit up, and change their situation.

Jefferson is finally Black Lightning again, and his new suit reveal was pretty great. The plot can take a big leap forward now that it has all of the ground work established.

"Chapter Three" did a lot of character work. It showed Khalil and Jen both be manipulated by the same person. The Grace story came to a head, and seems to have a pretty interesting payoff with lots of potential if a shape shifter joins the fight. Henderson keeps getting in tougher and tougher spots. But maybe the biggest feat of the episode is having it produce empathy for Tobias. 

Tobias is the signature villain of Black Lightning but what Bill Duke's Agent Odell is doing to him is rough. The show makes you feel for the guy, which was completely unexpected. Duke's soft spoken nuance makes him a scarier villain than if he raged all the time. It really is remarkable what he is able to do with that role. Duke should be getting Emmy attention, but won't.

Even though Anissa ended things with Jamillah, her story is not done. She is going to make things worse, either for herself, Anissa, or Freeland as a whole. But they won't spend that much time on a character for it to end like this.

The Pierce family is reunited, so things should amp up quite a bit now. It will be fun to see where the always entertaining story goes, and if the show tries to tie into Crisis On Infinite Earths at all other than having Jefferson appear in the special.

The show seems much more cohesive in telling a larger story than it has in the past. There hasn't really been much "meta of the week" type stuff. Instead it all intertwines into a larger story, and that helps make The Flash a better show. Hopefully that continues all the way up to Crisis.

***

The Flash - Episode 6.03 - Dead Man Running


This episode of The Flash checked several boxes on the series checklist. The Wells intro is the latest in a long line of Wells intros. This version seems to be a Indiana Jones-esque explorer with Batman like characteristics. While Team Flash deals with the impeding death of The Flash, Wells is looking for something called Eternium, which sounds derivative from eternal. There has to be a connection.

The other checked box was Barry getting face time with this year's big bad. It happens every year. They have some sort of innocent run in, and things slowly start to deteriorate. Ramsey was manipulating Barry to get what he wanted. Barry caught on, but instead of shutting things down completely, he inadvertently helped Ramsey figure out another way to accomplish what he wanted.

The show has introduced audiences to family members of most of the main cast. Ralph was the only one who was left out of that. That changed this week, with the introduction of his mother. She was a bit more complex than originally presented, and it made for a nice story for Ralph. More importantly, it offered him closure in his life so he could start to have a real relationship.

Frost's growth as her own character is taking great strides forward. Her frustration and impatience is understandable, as is her intolerance of bad news. As lovable as Caitlin is, the show is doing a good job in making audiences accept Frost as her own person.

The Monitor had told Barry that the Crisis is coming, and he knows he must die during it. Meanwhile in Arrow, The Monitor tells Oliver that they are trying to prevent the Crisis. Maybe it was a bad interpretation, or a bad way to phrase things, but it seems like conflicting information.

It is good that Barry and Iris are being upfront with everyone and not holding anything back. They've done the secret thing before, and it was a burden on the show. Letting the audience know something that the characters don't know yet is an effective trick, but can only last so long. Everyone needs to be on the same page sooner or later.

The show seems much more cohesive in telling a larger story than it has in the past. There hasn't really been much "meta of the week" type stuff. Instead it all intertwines into a larger story, and that helps make The Flash a better show. Hopefully that continues all the way up to Crisis.

***

Arrow - Episode 8.02 - Welcome To Hong Kong

As Arrow's farewell tour continues, the show dealt with a lot and we received closure from some old faces. Both Tatsu and China White returned for the first time in a while, and challenged Team Arrow at almost every turn.

It is great that Diggle is in nearly every scene with Oliver now. A few of the later seasons squandered him, and kept him apart too long. As the only two members of the original Team Arrow left, it is nice to see them get the most screen time.

That doesn't mean they dominated the episode though. Laurel still had her own stuff to deal with, and the flash forwards are a large part of the narrative too. The biggest surprise in the present day part of the episode was Lyla's involvement. It seems she is working with The Monitor too, and going behind Oliver's back. Something like that will put Diggle in an awkward position, and it doesn't feel like they have a lot of time to deal with something like that with all the rest of the stuff they have to do.

The biggest surprise in the future part of the episode was knowing where Conner was adopted from. Conner was Bronze Tiger's son, who was played by Michael Jai White in the show. He received a wonderful story arc about his son last season, and to tie that together so strongly is a stroke of genius.

It looks like a heavy theme of the flash forwards will be the attempted redemption of JJ. That could be something that is resolved quickly, or carries over into the forthcoming Canaries spinoff. Either way, it looks like it is set to be a main theme. Details of where Diggle is in the future are vague. Hopefully he is gallivanting out in space somewhere as a Lantern, and can make appearances...

This "greatest hits" formula for Arrow's final season is great, and really makes the show able to do things it has never done before. The only problem is, it doesn't lend itself to other stories much, and leaves characters like Rene, Dinah, Roy, and others on the sidelines. Hopefully they all get the closure they deserve before all is said and done.

***

The best episode of the week was Arrow, but was followed closely by The Flash. Tom Cavanagh makes everything better, and his involvement, plus the new format of the show makes it a pretty strong contender.

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