Four Color Television - CW/DC TV Week 9 - Recap / Review
The Four Color Ark
DC/CW Television Week Nine
With the holidays looming over us, and Star Wars dominating the entertainment world: things have been a little hectic here in the Ark Offices North, but after a few delays we finally bring you the DC/CW mid-season finale special. Our favorite shows are going dark until the third week of January, and when they return things will be a little different: first off we’re getting a fifth DC/CW series in the form of: Black Lightning which will take over Legends of Tomorrow’s Tuesday night timeslot after The Flash. Supergirl will return in mid-January and will air four episodes until February 12th, when it is replaced on Monday nights with Legends of Tomorrow; the remainder of the Legends season will air from February through April and Supergirl will return from her lengthy hiatus on April 16th to air the rest of her season. Both Arrow and The Flash are unaffected by all the schedule shuffling and will air as normal. Confused? Yeah, me too. As always we’ll bring you all the recaps and reviews each week after it airs, and keep you in the loop on any schedule changes.
That said, We’re going to close out our 2017 Four Color Television columns with this look at the Midseason Finales of our favorite DC Superhero shows and we hope you’ll come back and see us in the new year when we start all over again. Happy Holidays one and all!
Supergirl Season 3, Episode 09: “Reign”
Still not entirely able to cope with the strange new reality of Mon-El having returned from the future with his wife, Kara decides to throw herself into the Holidays by throwing a party for her friends – everyone makes it: even Samantha and her daughter Ruby. A good time is being had by all until J’onn informs Kara that they have a DEO situation and must leave; Supergirl and Martian Manhunter show up at a site where they discover strange Kryptonian symbols burned into a field. Kara immediately goes to the holographic A.I. of her mother for answers, but even the massive computer database made to look like Alura Zor-El cannot translate the glyph that predates the known Kryptonian language. Fortunately, there is someone out there who can: mysterious cult leader Thomas Coville (Chad Lowe) reaches out to Kara so that he can inform her that he learned many secrets of Krypton’s past from the escapees from Fort Roz, and that in particular he learned that the Kryptonian symbol appearing all over National City is the Mark of the Beast. The first piece of a prophesized apocalypse, the Kryptonian Beast will bring about the fall of the righteous and reign over the end of days. Analysis of the burned symbols proves that they were made with heat vision. Meanwhile Samantha is having an even harder time balancing being the CFO of L-Corp with being a mom and she isn’t entirely sure why. James and Lena suggest to Samantha that Morgan Edge is responsible for everything and blame him for nearly assassinating Lena, and immediately thereafter: Morgan Edge is attacked by a shadowy Kryptonian woman and barely manages to escape. Supergirl decides to take a page out of the mysterious woman’s page and burns the El family crest onto a building in hopes of calling the other Kryptonian out: and it works. Wearing a costume that somewhat hides her face, Samantha and Kara meet and discuss their roles in this prophecy before engaging in a truly brutal fight that tears apart office buildings in downtown National City and ends with the woman calling herself Reign tossing the broken, bloody and battered Supergirl off of a skyscraper to crash unconscious into the ground below. The DEO team arrives and gets Kara to their medical facilities, but they are unable to revive Supergirl. With a thready pulse, and worried friends hovering around her: The Girl of Steel remains in a coma.
After a season of Kara being crushed by the weight of her resounding sadness over the loss of Mon-El, and Alex’s build up to and response to the break up with Maggie – it feels like this episode FINALLY decided on a direction – and an interesting direction at that. The comic version of Reign is a genetically engineered superweapon capable of bringing a world to its knees, and every single bit of that origin except having been engineered on Krypton is jettisoned in favor of an origin where Samantha/Reign basically takes on the role of Doomsday, and physically breaks our hero before our very eyes. Admittedly the “Doomsday” origin that is coopted here for Reign is mostly the Davis Bloome/Doomsday origin presented in Season 8 of Smallville – but grafted onto Supergirl that same story works like gangbusters. There are some truly great moments in this episode, from J’onn’s father trying cocoa for the first time, to Chad Lowe’s incredibly creepy performance as a cult leader: but the real meat of this episode is in the fight between Supergirl and Reign and as knock down/drag out’s go it was incredibly effective. More targeted and less explosive than the big screen fight between Doomsday and Superman in Batman V. Superman, this managed to be more faithful to the classic bout that killed the Man of Steel – with a dash of the total beat down at the hands of Nuclear Man thrown in for good measure. Reign doesn’t get as good as she gives – Reign just thoroughly breaks the Girl of Steel. All in all, a hell of a note to go out on for the year.
EPISODE MVP: Chad Lowe’s Coville* again sets an unsettling tone from which every bit of dramatic tension in this episode springs from. Truly an amazing performance, and so very creepy.
The Flash Season 4, Episode 09: “Don’t Run”
Back from their honeymoon, Barry and Iris are ready to start living their lives together – and Barry has never been happier. The couple go through their wedding gifts – one of which is a set of knives where one knife is missing - and make some snarky comments about how Oliver and Felicity hijacked their wedding. Meanwhile at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlin is feeling a little out of sorts after learning that her teammates have begun palling around with Killer Frost – she is now wondering if she even has a place on the team when she heads off to get some coffee at C.C. Jitters. While she is enjoying her specialty coffee, and getting a much needed pep talk from Harry Wells of all people, Amunet Black (Katee Sackhoff) arrives and overpowers Harry to kidnap Caitlin. Elsewhere, after returning many stolen microwaves given to them as wedding gifts by Mick Rory, The Thinker arrives in his floating chair and is able to kidnap Barry. Two teammates taken and the S.T.A.R. Labs satellite cannot effectively look for both of them at the same time, Cisco’s vibes are likewise proving ineffective. Amunet is forcing Caitlin to perform emergency surgery on a telepathic metahuman named Dominic (Kendrick Samson) who has a piece of Amunet’s shrapnel in his neck; and DeVoe has Barry trapped in a force-field prison from which he cannot escape. Harry and Joe visit the DeVoe household and search it top to bottom looking for Barry, but there is no evidence he is there. Caitlin bonds with Dominic and the two form a plan to escape from Amunet; meanwhile Iris is forced to make a choice – keep looking for both Caitlin and Barry and the same time which limits the effectiveness of the satellite and might cause both team members to be lost: or choose between them and possibly save one of them. Caitlin chooses to tell Cisco to retask the satellite to look for Caitlin, because Barry can take care of himself. Thanks to Iris’ timely choice, Team Flash locates Caitlin just in time to assist when her escape plan with Dominic is being put into effect. Cisco vibes himself and Ralph over to where Caitlin is and they rescue her and Dominic. Elsewhere, Barry outthinks DeVoe by vibrating so fast that he cannot be seen. When DeVoe lowers the force field to investigate, Barry superspeeds out of the trap and escapes, with DeVoe hot on his tail they race and tumble and fight through the skies of Central City until finally DeVoe crashes into the water and Barry survives thanks to the life-raft Cisco installed in his new suit. Everyone is reunited, and they cannot find DeVoe’s body – so Team Flash decides to take their mind off of what just happened by going to Joe’s for his Christmas party; Caitlin invites Dominic. The party is in full swing when the burglar alarm goes off at Barry and Iris’ apartment, Barry races home to investigate but finds a seemingly empty home. He is about to investigate further when his phone rings, it is the telepathic Dominic calling from the party at Joes – but Dominic has a startling revelation to make. Dominic’s telepathic abilities allowed DeVoe to download his mind into Dominic’s body so that he would now have a healthy body to reside in while he works on his plan to bring about the enlightenment. Every detail of DeVoes plan was carefully constructed, right down to the anonymous wedding gift of a knife set with only one knife in it. The other knife in the set, is plunged into the chest of Clifford DeVoe’s old body – and the police have already arrived and are pounding on the door. They know Barry is inside, he thinks about running but knows he can’t. As the door breaks open and the police come inside to arrest him for the murder of Clifford DeVoe he whispers to himself: “Don’t Run.”
The fact that The Flash managed to hold back the twist that DeVoe was going to implant himself in a new body for the rest of the season should be commended – and much like the Thinker’s overall plan: it was executed perfectly. I hope that somehow Neil Sandilands will return as DeVoe, even though he is now in Dominic’s body – because Sandilands’ villainous turn has only been rivalled by Tom Cavanagh’s Eobard Thawne. Of course I’m going to update you on Ralph Dibney watch 2K17: where I unfortunately cannot report any change – he is still just serving as lame comic relief. Katee Sackhoff’s ridiculous British accent is again terrible, but the real meat of this episode is in the reveal of just how many steps ahead of Barry Allen DeVoe really is. The News of course is that this sets up the TV version of one of the most amazing stories in Flash history where The Flash was on trial for the murder of Reverse Flash, which amazingly was teased way back in Season One when Barry entered the Speed Force and saw visions of his own future before running back to the night his mother was killed. While this particular arc was originally designed for Reverse Flash, it makes perfect sense to use DeVoe for this story as he represents someone who can easily twist events to conspire against Barry. As much as Supergirl had felt aimless to this point, Flash had felt like there were no stakes anymore: this episode turned that notion on its head and gave us some of the highest stakes we’ve ever had to play for – possibly even putting the outing of Barry’s identity on the table for the first time in a while.
EPISODE MVP: Neil Sandilands* who once more, and hopefully not for the last time, brings amazing menace to the role of Clifford DeVoe
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 09: “Beebo the God of War”
The crew of the Waverider is feeling the absence of Professor Stein, so imagine their surprise when their first major anachronism after his death involves a time displaced version of his younger self from the late 1980’s. The year was 1989 and THE toy of the year was a robotic talking doll named Beebo*, and Martin Stein was trying to acquire said toy for his daughter Lily when he and it fell through a crack in time and wound up in America when Leif Erikson and his sister were here. Immediately the Vikings mistake Beebo for a god, and begin following his commands which creates a major aberration in time where America becomes a Viking nation and Christmas disappears completely – replaced with Beebo Day. Sara mobilizes the team to try to steal back the doll, but sidelines Jax so that he can’t get involved too deeply with the situation involving Martin Stein. The gang manages to get Stein free and gets him back to the ship but are unable to retrieve the doll, so Ray recommends they pose as Norse gods and demand the return of Beebo. Instead, Sara has them pose as Vikings and they feast with Leif and his crew in an attempt to get ahold of Beebo before the doll does any REAL damage. Jax takes young Martin back home and gives him a letter with instructions to not open it until November of 2017, and our team of heroes is captured by the Vikings. Before they can be executed, a flash of lighting appears in the sky and a man claiming to be Odin appears – the man is none other than Damien Darhk. Ray is annoyed that Darhk stole is plan, there is a fight – Beebo is destroyed: but the future is still Viking controlled and Christmas is now a celebration of Odin. Ray has Gideon fabricate a new Beebo and shrinks down so that he can control it like a puppet, there is another fight and in the battle Nora Darhk is wounded. Concerned for his daughter, Damien Darhk grabs her and timeshifts away – the future is restored. Except that nothing has changed regarding Martin Stein, he has still died as a result of sacrificing himself to save his team – Jax returns to the 80’s to question Martin and he admits he destroyed the letter and doesn’t want any knowledge about his own future. Jax decided that without Martin he feels he doesn’t know who he is anymore and decides to leave the Waverider to discover his own place in the world. Sara escorts Jax off the ship to where he can take on his new life, but when she returns to the Waverider she finds John Constantine: The Hellblazer waiting for her to ask for help with a little girl possessed by a demon – a demon who knows Sara’s name.
After losing Victor Garber in the crossover the previous week, Legends definitely needed to fall back on a fun episode, and the strange tale of a talking doll becoming the god to a group of Vikings certainly fit the bill. The humor was just the palate cleanser we needed, from Beebo himself to Leo Snart playing therapist for the bereaved crew by forcing them to confront the Martin Stein puppet he created to help them channel their grief. There is nothing about this episode that doesn’t underline Garber’s absence while pointing in the direction they must go without him. As an ensemble show, Legends tends to make the most of these simple/straightforward stories in a way that other shows really can’t. The departure of Franz Drameh from the series was completely unexpected, and the producers have informed us that while the door is open for Jax to return – there is no immediate plan for it. We’re also told that he will be replaced on the show by a “current member of the Arrowverse”and the speculation currently is pointing toward this new member being none other than Wally West. So, fingers crossed for some decent usage of Kid Flash.
EPISODE MVP: Wentworth Miller* as Leo Snart. The Earth-X touchy/feely Citizen Cold may be a short lived concept without any legs, but for the moment his antics deeply amuse me and that’s what I want on Legends.
Arrow Season 6, Episode 09: “Irreconcilable Differences”
Oliver and Felicity have a second wedding ceremony, separate from the one they ruined for Iris and Barry, and the whole team is in attendance. Quentin Lance gives Oliver the watch his own father gave him on his wedding day; Curtis gets a little sad drunk over his own failed marriage; Thea gets down to bonding with William in full on Aunt mode; Diggle and Dinah mingle happily and Rene toasts the happy couple. Nothing could go wrong, except the DA has let slip to Quentin that their case is based on the fact that someone is willing to testify in open court that Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow – and not just anyone: someone on the team. Felicity and Oliver immediately start looking into the whereabouts and interactions of the new team members to discover which of them is a traitor, which doesn’t bode well for Dinah who has been spending an inordinate amount of time hanging out with her ex, the self titled Vigilante who wants to take out Green Arrow for not being extreme enough. Meanwhile Evil Laurel kidnaps Quentin Lance and Cayden James demands Oliver trade a one of a kind piece of ARGUS Tech for his safe release. Team Arrow breaks into ARGUS and steal the device but things get a little tense and they reconvene at the cave to squabble it out. The team confronts each other and Oliver accuses Dinah of being a traitor, but Rene reveals he is the one who said he would testify against Ollie. Ollie kicks him out of the Arrow Cave. Evil Laurel and Quentin Lance have a little Father/Alternate Earth daughter time and bond a little over who they once were to each other. Diggle talks Oliver into agreeing to take the full team, including Rene, to make the exchange to retrieve Quentin. Felicity and Curtis sabotage the device James wants, and the team shows up to the meet – but it’s clear that Oliver is compartmentalizing and sidelining the newer team members. Curtis and Rene go off on their own and in doing so they manage to discover where Quentin is being held by Laurel. Oliver and James’ men have a showdown when James realizes his device has been tampered with. Laurel lets Quentin go, and the team returns to the Cave where Oliver and Rene have it out about whether or not Rene can be trusted. Oliver kicks Rene off the team for not following orders at the exchange; Dinah says she can’t trust Oliver anymore and quits the team; Curtis quits as well because he feels betrayed that Oliver and Felicity violated their privacy and bugged them. Team Arrow has completely shattered and all that remains are the original team of Oliver, Diggle and Felicity. Elsewhere Cayden James reveals that he has assembled his own team to take down Oliver Queen a team consisting of Evil Laurel, Ricardo Diaz, Vigilante and Oliver’s former Bratva friend: Anatoly. Breaking apart Team Arrow was all just part of Cayden’s plan, which is just getting started.
I’m not exactly sure how I missed that the big bad of this season was going to be an Anti-Team Arrow, in retrospect it makes perfect sense. It even fits this years brilliant theme of keeping Team Arrow’s equilibrium constantly shifting while Cayden James’ team becomes stable. Truly it’s a brilliant little piece of TV plotting. My secret heart is of course that Anatoly (the brilliant David Nykl) is actually working with Oliver and will betray Cayden James before the season is out, but I suspect that this is highly unlikely. While the break-up of Team Arrow was sort of expected it still played brilliantly by rooting itself in Oliver Queen’s constant failure to trust people and let them in and thus being a foundational flaw in the team that Oliver will have to grow past if he wants to defeat James’ team. The way the episode was set up with a lovelorn Curtis lamenting his lot in life, he became an excellent red herring in the “who betrayed Oliver?” plot – so much so that I was genuinely surprised by the reveal that it was Rene. The scenes between Rene and Oliver were BRILLIANTLY handled as the two spat venom at each other over concepts like trust and loyalty. Arrow remains near the top of the stack week after week, even if it took six years to get there.
EPISODE MVP Echo Kellum’s Curtis* just barely edges out Rene this week with a beautifully portrayed sense of betrayal and disappointment at the way Oliver and Felicity spied on him. This is some of the best work we’ve yet seen from Kellum.
We’re on a bit of a Holiday Break folks, but we’ll return in the New Year with a handful of “The Season So Far” editions to reflect on how we got to where we are today.
Until then: Happy Holidays.