Four Color Television - PREMIERE WEEK PART I - Supergirl and The Flash Return
The Four Color Ark
DC TELEVISION PREMIERE WEEK
Supergirl Season 3, Episode 01: “Girl of Steel”
We open with a picturesque sequence with Kara walking through a wheat field on a beautiful day with her boyfriend, as they move further along Kara catches sight of a beautiful woman in a blue dress and as the woman returns Kara sees that it is her mother Alura (now played by Erica Durance)*.
As she snaps awake from her daydream we are introduced to a version of Supergirl we’ve never seen before: cold and moody, skipping outings with her friends, missing deadlines at Catco, this is a Girl of Steel who seems to have all but forsaken her identity as Kara Danvers.
In the aftermath of Season Two Cat Grant has joined the administration of President Marsdin (Lynda Carter) as her new Press Secretary; National City has been rebuilt through the efforts of Supergirl and a council made up of prominent business leaders like Lena Luthor and Media Mogul/Evil Businessman Morgan Edge (Adrian Pasdar)* who desperately wants the council to approve a housing development he’d like to make at the waterfront. The very docks where in just a few short days the city plans to dedicate a statue to Supergirl.
Part of Morgan Edge’s plan is to buy out all the primary shares of CatCo so that he can use it to turn public opinion against L Corp (the rebranded LexCorp now being run by Lex’s sister.) The other part of the plan is that he has hired one of the best mercenaries on the planet (no not Deathstroke) named Bloodsport (David St. Louis) to launch a missile that will destroy the waterfront property and clear the way for Edge’s housing development
Meanwhile both the DEO and CatCo teams are tired of Supergirl feeling sorry for herself after losing Mon-El. Supergirl on the other hand is not done wallowing, she quits her job as a reporter at CatCo and tells her sister Alex that she is done pretending to be human – that Kara Danvers was a mistake.
A good lecture form J’onn J’onzz and a pitched battle with a submarine featuring a mysterious daydream message from Mon-El are enough to snap Kara out of her funk. The cloaked Sub is stopped, Potential season villain Reign (Odette Annable)* makes her first appearance, and after a brief argument over the size of the pending Sanvers wedding – Alex asks J’onn to walk her down the aisle. Back in Kara’s daytime life we learn that Lena Luthor managed to buy CatCo out from under Morgan Edge and wants Kara to return to work as a reporter to help her run the company.
Reawakened to her humanity, Kara decides it is time to stop moping – puts on her glasses and goes out to the bar to meet her friends.
Reign has a weird dream featuring a demonic creature wearing the same dress as Kara’s mother whilst standing in the same field.
This season premiere didn’t have the immediate “hit the ground running” feel that season two did, but a lot of that episode’s urgency came from the introduction of Superman and the introduction of the new Canadian locations and sets. The benefit of having so thoroughly established itself not once, but twice, Supergirl is now free to take a breath and give us a slow burn season opener.
Seeing a Supergirl who mopes and broods feels fundamentally wrong, and before long the audience is just as on board with snapping her back to normal as the rest of the team at the DEO.
The introduction of not only Reign, but also the mysterious idea that Mon-El is still somehow communicating with Kara from wherever his weird space portal took him is handled slowly – which thus far in the CW Arrowverse is not something we’ve seen. Usually we’re confronted very early with what our overarching plotlines are and the season slowly unravels the details of “how” it happened or will happen. It’s refreshing to take something and just let it play.
Morgan Edge is a great scenery chewing business baddie in the vein of a Lex Luthor, and it is fun to see him dive in deep and start building a menacing figure – but what really doesn’t work is that most of his interactions in the episode are with a Katie McGrath who it seems completely forgot how to do the American accent she had utilized for Lena Luthor in season two. Slipping back and forth between her natural Irish lilt and an austere American dialect makes her performance more than a little distracting.
Episode 01 MVP: Chyler Leigh* who doubles down on the heart in the absence of Kara Danvers, and manages to deliver the two funniest exchanges of the episode when she refuses to acknowledge that moody Kara behaves a lot like normal Alex and again when she demands that J’onn not offer any evidence that she is capable of crying.
NIGHT TWO PART ONE
The Flash Season 4, Episode 01: “The Flash Reborn”
With Barry Allen trapped in the Speed Force, Team Flash has had to adapt to keep Central City safe. We return to them already in progress, with Team Kid Flash (a name that is getting very little traction) working like a relatively well-oiled machine. Wally and Cisco are working well as a unit, bantering as they chase the teleporting villain Peek-A-Boo (Britne Oldford) in a direction that steers her toward the waiting handcuffs of Joe West and the CCPD; all at the direction of Iris who is calling the shots from her desk at S.T.A.R. Labs. Iris has become overbearing in her leadership of Team Flash, trying to hold herself and the team together without Barry – until a mysterious Samurai with energy-releasing katanas shows up with a demand that Wally and Cisco turn over “the real Flash” within twenty-four hours before easily taking them both down with his super swords.
Iris feels that they need to power through to find a solution to the Samurai problem, but Cisco decides that the only way to do it is to find a way to release Barry from the Speed Force prison and get the Flash back into the game. To do this he recruits Caitlin Snow to come out of her self-imposed Killer Frost related retirement and help him tweak the Speed Force Bazooka to launch a ball of Quark Matter infused with Barry’s DNA into the Speed Force thus freeing Barry to return. Team Flash, minus an Iris who opposes the plan, shows up at the abandoned airstrip where Barry first tested his powers with S.T.A.R. Labs back in Season One – and Cisco fires the Bazooka off, but Barry does not return.
Except, 300 miles away a hole rips open in the Speed Force and out runs a naked and confused Barry Allen. With his brain scrambled, Barry is in no way ready to help Team Flash so they put him in a holding cell until they can get through to him. Wally runs off to face the mysterious Samurai wearing Barry’s old Flash suit (Cisco has already built Barry a new one) and gets his ass handed to him. Iris takes a leap of faith and turns herself over to the Samurai, hoping that it will shake Barry out of his scrambled state and that he will come after her. And she is correct. Barry explodes out of the containment cell (which was an impossible feat for both he and Reverse Flash before) and races after Iris and the Samurai at speeds no speedster has achieved to date. He defeats the Samurai and reunites with the love of his life, once again completely Barry Allen.
Team Flash discovers that the Samurai was a robot, Cisco names it a Samuroid. Barry tells the team that he has no memory of his time in the speed force, or of his stint with a swiss cheese brain. Caitlin decides to stay with Team Flash, but when she tries to quit her job at the seedy dive bar she is accosted and must break out some Killer Frost ice to save herself.
And finally: The Mechanic (Kim Engelbrecht) and The Thinker (Neil Sandilands) make their debut in a final tease that shows The Thinker was responsible for sending the Samuroid after Team Flash.
Once again, we begin the season Wellsless as Tom Cavanagh does not appear – just like Seasons one and two.
The fear when Barry stepped into the Speed Force at the end of Season 3 was that much like the Flashpoint timeline he created in the previous cliffhanger, his disappearance would be wrapped up very quickly in the new season and would feel consequentless. That is exactly what happened, even though it did play rather well. The version of the team that was comprised of Iris, Wally and Joe was a fun dynamic and it would have been nice to let that breathe a little bit; maybe let Wally West be The Flash for a couple of episodes before needing to pull Barry out of the Speed Force. That said, the premiere handled both Barry’s absence and return rather well. His strange behavior on coming out of the Speed Force came across as a kind of aphasia where he simply was not making sense, but as an audience member it was readily apparent that some of the things Barry was saying were snatches of dialogue from previous episodes, and some that hinted at future storylines. The conceit being that Barry had lived his life on a loop within the Speed Force and was still experiencing it all out of order once he returned to S.T.A.R. Labs.
The story was relatively straightforward, but it was excellent to see Team Flash facing off against a Samuroid. The new Flash Suit is great looking, it adds more gold lightning elements and is much more of a classic Flash red than the previous iterations of the suit on the show. Next episode seems to be all about the suit and how some of Cisco’s engineering of the suit might go wrong (presumably due to The Thinker.)
The stated mission of Season Four was to return to the lighthearted tone of Season One, and it’s certainly moving in that direction.
Episode 01 MVP: Carlos Valdes who finally brought Cisco back around full to his more bantery Season One/Season Two self. The comedy was welcome, and grounding his desire to get Barry and Caitlin back in the raw emotion of him missing his friends and missing the way things used to be really allowed the character to shine. Best moment: “We back baby!”
Unlike Team Flash, we aren’t “back” because we never left – but we are certainly kicking off the Four Color TV Column in earnest with this look at Flash and Supergirl.
Stay tuned for Part II, our look at Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow’s Season Premieres.