Four Color Television - CW/DC TV Week 22 - Recap / Review
The Four Color Ark
DC/CW Television Week 22
No catching up, it’s a full week of CW programming! With the season finale of Legends of Tomorrow, the second to last episode of the season of Black Lightning, the return of The Flash and an Arrow that sees Oliver as an army of one.
Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 Episode 18: “The Good, the Bad and the Cuddly”
Mallus has risen, and the time demon is ready to destroy everything – the Legends included – but Rip Hunter has an idea that just might by them some time. The Time Master removes the time engine from The Waverider and takes it to where Mallus is located, detonating it and destroying the both of them; Rip knows that this will only weaken Mallus, but it will buy the Legends time to escape and regroup. Sara sets a course for the temporal blind spot that is Salvation South Dakota in the Old West. The Legends travel to the past where they’ll meet up with their old ally Jonah Hex and hide out in a place where they hope Mallus will be unable to find them and their totems. Of course, things never quite work out for The Legends: Mallus has gathered warriors to his side – foes the Legends have faced throughout this season: Julius Caesar, Blackbeard, and Freydis the sister of Leif Erikson. Ray has a plan that might save the life of Nora Darhk and the team, and Damien volunteers to help him do it – but Sara has put the Waverider on lockdown. Ray steals the jumpship and is almost caught by Nate before jumping back to Zambeze just before the emergence of Mallus. Meanwhile, back in Salvation, Ava arrives with a large group of allies of the Legends – ready to join the fight against Mallus. With Ava are Helen of Troy (now sporting full on Themyscirran battle regalia,) Gary, and alternate version of Kuasa who is now the Vixen, and a future version of Jax who wants to help his former teammates one last time. Sara and the team attempt to use their totems to create a being of pure light, a totem warrior, who can fight Mallus – and despite Nate’s comparison of the entity to Voltron – the first attempt is less than stellar. Back in Zambeze, to no one’s surprise, Damien Darhk betrays Ray and rather than attempting to save everyone – he simply takes Nora’s place as the host for the demon Mallus. Ray escapes back to Salvation with Nora in tow. Mallus’ soldiers return and The Legends allies, complete with Ray and Nora rise up to face them attempting to buy time for the Legends to merge their stones and create a being of pure light to fight Mallus. Mallus himself arrives while the Legends perform their ritual, and they create the one being who can fight Mallus: a giant living embodiment of the children’s toy Beebo. Beebo and Mallus do battle in the skies above Salvation, but Mallus is no match for the blue fluffy toy embodying the combined powers of the Legends of Tomorrow. Mallus is defeated, and the Legends win the day. Ava takes Mallus’ warriors and her own volunteers back to their rightful times, Jax says goodbye to his friends once more, and Ray gives Nora the means to escape and start a new life elsewhere. Amaya returns to the 1940’s to live her life in Zambeze so that her daughter will take on her totem and timeline will be protected. The Legends retire to Aruba to enjoy a much deserved vacation, but it is short lived when John Constantine shows up the head of a demon, informing the Legends that when they let Mallus loose – other demons escaped as well.
This season the CW/DC Universe has been fairly consistent: Arrow has been the most nimble with its storytelling; The Flash has had the most heart; Black Lightning has been the best written; and yes Legends of Tomorrow has been the most fun of all five series. I don’t think anything can better exemplify that than the idea that the big weapon to defeat the evil demon, is a child’s stuffed toy brought to life for a giant martial arts fight with a winged demon. If there is a more “Legends of Tomorrow” ending, I defy you to tell me what it is. While it was awesome to have the return of Jax, Jonah Hex, Helen of Troy, Caesar, Freydis and Blackbeard – it did make this particular episode feel awful crowded, which is saying a lot because Legends is pretty adept at juggling a massive cast. It did however feel like some of our actual cast got short shrift to incorporate beats with returning characters (looking at you Wally.) That said, this episode was an absolute blast to watch and I can’t wait to see where season four is going to take us.
First appearing around the midseason, no one expected this character to become as important as they did, but at the end you can’t imagine the season without them. I’m of course referring to Beebo: The God of War.
The Flash Season 4 Episode 17: “Null and Annoyed”
Barry and Ralph are running combat drills against a holographic DeVoe in the speed lab, the plan is for Ralph to stretch himself to look like Barry so that DeVoe has to choose which Flash is the real Flash in the fight, but Ralph isn’t taking the training seriously. This in turn convinces Barry that Ralph isn’t taking the threat DeVoe poses serious. Harry on the other hand is using his version of the Thinking Cap to try to locate the two remaining bus metas, but he’s having an incredibly difficult time in doing so despite his brain power being amplified by his device. Meanwhile in the DeVoe pocket dimension, Marlize finds Clifford is claiming his new body is fading quickly – she begins to draw up plans to alter his chair and thinking cap to prolong the current body, but finds that DeVoe was already working on similar plans. Marlize picks up where DeVoe left off and begins perfecting his work. Elsewhere in Central City, two security guards named Jay and Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith) get a priceless artifact stolen out from under their noses by a meta with the ability to make objects float away. Barry and Ralph crash Joe’s crime scene to try to get info on the meta, and discover she’s a thief by the name of Janet Petty (Bethany Brown) – one of the two missing bus meta’s Harry identified in the previous episode. Before the S.T.A.R. Labs team can get too invested in helping Barry, Harry, and Ralph; a distraction shows up in the form of Breacher (Danny Trejo) whose powers are on the fritz and has come to Earth 1 to ask Cisco for assistance. Joe manages to get some of Petty’s aliases – and after entering that information into his search algorithm Harry is able to locate her with his Thinking Cap. Barry and Ralph go to the office of shady P.I. Earl Cox (Paul McGillion) and Ralph once again decides to not follow Barry’s instructions and go renegade – resulting in Janet aka Null turning Barry into a human balloon. Marlize discovers that DeVoe is dosing her tea with chemicals secreted by the Meta “The Weeper” to make her compliant and begins researching to discover what specifically he’s doing. Barry becomes frustrated with Ralph’s inability to take things seriously and benches him. Cisco and Caitlin discover that Breacher is losing his abilities because he’s getting old – Cisco scrambles to find a way to help Breacher without telling him he’s old so he gives him antihistamine pills as a placebo. Barry races off to stop Janet robbing a jewelry store, and manages to get close enough without her noticing to put her in power dampening cuffs – but she has a backup plan: she had made a minivan weightless and left it floating well above the skyline. Once her powers were dampened, the minivan started to fall – leaving Barry with a choice to take her in or save the person in the car. Barry races up the building to save the driver, and Janet picks the lock on her cuffs and escapes. Cisco gets a vibe from Breachers pills and realizes he’s in danger – so he vibes to Earth 19 to save him and then tells him the truth about his condition. Breacher angrily vibes away. Marlize has discovered what DeVoe is doing and is recording a video to herself so that she won’t forget – she discovers that she has recorded this video 43 times already when DeVoe shows up and uses Weeper’s tears along with Brainstorm’s powers to wipe her memory once more. Barry apologizes to Ralph, who admits to Barry that he plays pranks and makes jokes and doesn’t take things seriously because he’s terrified of what DeVoe will do. The two of them go off to stop Janet at a Museum gala, she floats Barry into the stratosphere – but Ralph manages to stretch over and cuff her. The problem is now Barry is falling back to Earth very very rapidly; Ralph turns into a giant airbag and catches the falling speedster. Janet is placed in the pipeline. Marlize wakes up and due to her memory erasure has the exact same conversation with DeVoe about needing to upgrade his chair to extend his use of his current body. Breacher returns to Earth 1 and tells Cisco that he’s retired, and then offers Cisco his job hunting down Breachers on Earth 19. Harry takes his Thinking Cap and walks into Eobard Thawne’s time vault, he plugs his Cap into a device installed where Thawne used to keep his Reverse Flash suit and activates Gideon (the Morena Baccarin version rather than the Legends of Tomorrow version) for the first time since season one.
Before we get too deep into the episode, I just want to call out the awesomeness that is having Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith portray the Earth 1 versions of Jay and Silent Bob as hapless Central City security guards. I’ve enjoyed all of the Smith directed episodes of The Flash, but this extra element just made it all the more fun – almost as much fun as seeing Jay and Silent Bob in their Askewniverse incarnation guesting in the background of Kevin Smith’s run on Green Arrow back in the day. That said, lets dig in to what is now our 4th episode about Ralph having to come to grips with being a hero and part of the team. I’m a fan of the character of Ralph Dibny, I’ve even got some room in my heart for this particular incarnation – who frankly is not quite the Ralph of the comics – but for the love of god please make this the last “Ralph has to step up” episode. If Barry has to deliver another “you can do it” speech to Ralph, I think I’m going to get angry. The A-Story with “Null” was relatively handcuffed to the Ralph issue, so the episode really lived and breathed on the B-Story with Cisco having trouble telling a proud old Danny Trejo that he’s too old for super-heroics – a poignant and amusing premise that finally allowed Kevin Smith to direct Danny Trejo. The big stuff though is the growing frustration of Harry Wells and his questionable actions with his “Thinking Cap.” Cisco refused to help him fuel the device with dark matter, but it looks like that is precisely what he is doing in Thawne’s Time Vault – which is bad enough. Activating Gideon, and speaking to her in the cadence Tom Cavanagh usually reserves for his portrayal of Thawne raised so many questions that I have to watch episode 18 as soon as goddamn possible. Maybe, just maybe… things are picking up.
I’m going to award this weeks MVP title to Kim Engelbrecht who in an episode where she could have been upstaged by Danny Trejo or Jay and Silent Bob, delivered a heartbreaking performance as a woman discovering that her husband is using her for some nefarious purpose.
Black Lightning Season 1 Episode 12: “The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain”
Tobias Whale is alive, and completely healed form his bullet wounds thanks to Martin Proctor and the ASA, and Whale isn’t the only fully healed surprise: Khalil is once more able to walk. Proctor allows Tobias to take over all of Lady Eve’s operations on one condition: that Tobias capture Black Lightning and bring him to the ASA alive. All of the ASA created metahumans die before fully accessing their powers – which makes Black Lightning the only successful metahuman in Freeland. Proctor wants to study Black Lightning to determine why he hasn’t died like the rest. Meanwhile, Lynn and Jefferson have some lightning fueled sex and talk about rekindling their relationship once and for all. The next morning, while driving to work, Jefferson sees Khalil walking on the side of the road and confronts him about his miracle cure – trying to help Khalil recognize he is being taken advantage of. Tobias brings in the security guard who pulled him to safety at the club melee, and kills him for not saving his sister as well. Jefferson informs Jennifer that Khalil is walking again and tells her not to see him again; Jefferson, Gambi, and Anissa begin trying to track down Proctor to save the frozen kids and end this once and for all. Lynn tells Jennifer that she might be able to provide a cure, and when Jefferson hears this he feels threatened and decides he doesn’t want to get back together with her. Jennifer meets with a defensive and somewhat violent Khalil who refuses to tell her who performed his surgery. Tobias meets with Khalil and tells him he has to attack Garfield High, because that will draw Black Lightning out so they can capture him. Lala gets a mysterious phone call and goes off to kill an ASA sponsored arms dealer that Gambi gets intel from. Khalil stalks through the hallways of Garfield, shooting students with darts launched from superpowered gauntlets – teachers and students try to stop him but he tosses them aside like rag dolls. Jennifer tries to stop him, but he doesn’t hurt her – he just tells her to get out. Anissa and Jefferson hear about what’s going on at Garfield on the police scanner and head to the school which is fully under siege. Khalil is the bait, but Tobias and Syonide are in the school as well – Syonide has students held in a classroom at gunpoint and Tobias is waiting for a one on one confrontation with Black Lightning. Anissa rescues the kids from Syonide and the two have a knockdown drag out fight, while Black Lightning and Tobias Whale go at it. Tobias and Black Lightning are evenly matched, until Khalil shows up and shoots Jefferson with one of his darts. Tobias finds no pulse and realizes that Khalil has killed Black Lightning, and is about to unmask him when Anissa shows up and distracts them. Khalil and Tobias run, but Jefferson is indeed dead. Jennifer comes upon her father and sister and in her grief shocks Black Lightning back to life. The Pierce family and Gambi bug out to a cabin in the woods. Proctor asks Vice Principal Fowdy if she saw whether or not Black Lightning was dead, she says that she only saw Thunder carrying his body out of the school. Back at Tobias’ hideout, a scared and angry Lala tries to lash out at Tobias but can’t bring himself to do it for some reason. Tobias offers Lala a place in his organization, Lala accepts.
Black Lightning has consistently hit on serious issues that are plaguing are society and have approached each one through a unique lens that the other shows lack. We’ve looked at Black Lives Matter, we’ve looked at systemic racism in policing in black neighborhoods, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that the penultimate episode is centered around an active shooter in a high school. What is surprising is how raw it feels, and how the children in the episode seem almost practiced at responding to it. Thankfully Tobias returned to the show as we rounded the corner into the last two episodes, because his absence left a void that even Gregg Henry’s slimiest of slimeball villains wasn’t able to fill. The character of Khalil has suddenly gone from being the least interesting player on Team Tobias to the most interesting, it’s clear he’s conflicted – he wants to hate Black Lightning but he clearly doubts what he has to do to revenge himself upon the hero. I suspect in next week’s finale, Khalil will learn that it was Tobias Whale who paralyzed him. Everything that has been simmering all season has now fully come to a boil and it is all building to next week’s season finale, and I’m going to weigh in early and say that I think that Black Lightning’s freshman season is tied with The Flash as the strongest first season of a the five CW/DC shows. The way William Catlett plays the broken terror of Lala when he sees Tobias again for the first time almost earned him this weeks MVP.
Jordan Calloway’s Khalil shows incredible dramatic range as he gets drawn further and further into Tobias’ dangerous war against Black Lightning.
Arrow Season 6 Episode 18: “Fundamentals”
Oliver and Felicity are in the Arrow Cave discussing how to take down Ricardo Diaz; Felicity informs Oliver that all the security cameras at SCPD Headquarters cut off every night at 10:13PM and don’t come back on until 10:45PM. Oliver suspects that this means Diaz is at the precinct and if he can go bring Diaz in all of the impeachment mess can come to an end – which is when Diggle walks in. Felicity tried to get Diggle and Ollie in a room together so that they can work through their differences, but the breach is at this point irreparable. Councilman Collins has a meeting with Oliver about preliminary impeachment hearings at a Council meeting later in the day, urging Oliver that he needs to be able to provide rock solid evidence that connects the DA and Police Chief to Ricardo Diaz – or he will be impeached. They shake hands, and Oliver heads home to take William to his science fair. Felicity gives Oliver the evidence he needs, but it’s a catch -22: the only person who could acquire this evidence is The Green Arrow so he either takes down the ex DA by revealing he’s the Green Arrow or he protects his secret identity and gets impeached. In a fit of irrational anger, Oliver destroys William’s science fair project and screams at his son. Felicity tells Oliver to leave. Down in the Arrow Cave, Felicity comes down to tell him that she wants a separation after seeing how he treated his own son. Shortly after Quentin Lance shows up and the two talk about how to proceed with the impeachment; Quentin tells Oliver that everything will blow over and that he’s proud of the man Oliver has become – he leaves planning to see Oliver in an hour at the council meeting about impeachment. The elevator in the cave opens and out steps: Adrian Chase (Josh Segarra) in full Prometheus getup claiming to be back from the dead. Oliver and Adrian battle it out, Oliver gets shot in the arm and manages to get Adrian into a headlock, Adrian threatens that unless Oliver kills him he will keep coming and he will target Felicity and William. Oliver snaps Adrian’s neck. Adrian vanishes, as do the bullets in Oliver’s arm – Ollie realizes he’s hallucinating. Adrian returns and taunts Oliver, while Ollie performs a blood test on himself to determine what is in his system – and sure enough he was dosed with Vertigo when he shook Councilman Collins’ hand earlier. Oliver’s hallucinations get stronger – he sees himself in the Queen Mansion before leaving on the Queen’s Gambit: talking to young Laurel Lance. He then finds himself in his own apartment confronting a Ricardo Diaz who stabs him in the gut. Oliver wakes up in the Arrow Cave, and calls Quentin to say he’s been dosed with Vertigo but is on his way. Before he can leave he faces another hallucination, he sees himself in full on Season One “Hood” regalia challenging him about how he has failed his city. Oliver admits to “The Hood” that he lost the mission. He then heads to the council meeting where he knows he has no other choice: he tries to present his evidence, but falls into the exact trap he knew he would - the council accuses him of being The Green Arrow. Quentin makes a convenient excuse to get Oliver out of there. Vertigo fueled Adrian confronts Ollie again and tells him the only way to end this is to go to the SCPD and capture Diaz. Felicity and William get home from the Science fair and Felicity’s phone starts going nuts with updates about Oliver – she discovers he’s headed to SCPD but isn’t on comms and she can’t get a hold of him. She calls Quentin and asks him to head to SCPD, then she heads that way herself. Outside SCPD Quentin encounters Oliver wearing his old “Hood costume” and Ollie knocks Quentin out before going inside; he then takes down a handful of cops before getting to a door where on the other side waiting for him are Diaz and several dozen armed cops ready to kill the Green Arrow. Felicity arrives at SCPD, trying to talk Oliver down – she knows about the Vertigo and she tries to convince him she’s real and really here to help him. He accuses her of asking for a separation and she says that THAT Felicity was a hallucination but she’s real and she’s not going anywhere. She manages to get through to him and the two manage to escape before the swarm of cops find them. Back that cave, the effects of Vertigo are wearing off – but it’s too late. Oliver has been impeached and Quentin Lance has been named Mayor in his stead. Oliver tells Felicity he needs to take the mission back to basics and start working alone, like he did in the beginning. Oliver apologizes to William for what he did, and William forgives him – telling him that like Felicity he isn’t going anywhere.
An episode that really puts Oliver through the ringer, there’s at least one of these every season and they never fail to disappoint. Bringing Josh Segarra back to reprise his role as Adrian Chase was a great choice, not solely because he represents a level of personal stakes for Oliver that no one beyond Slade Wilson does. The other reason for his return is because the last episode that took this approach to Oliver was the Season 5 episode where Chase had Oliver prisoner and was forcing him to admit that deep down he really is a killer. Once again this is not entirely what I expected would be the next step on the season long journey – after the collapse of the relationship with Diggle I expected we were going to have a more traditional Oliver gets overwhelmed by something he can’t handle episode. Instead we get an episode that rededicates Oliver to his core mission of trying to make Star City a better place, and reminds him how it all began in a way no other event could. Of course, Oliver’s memory about how it all began is fairly skewed – because even in those early days operating in Starling he had Diggle by his side operating as a shot caller. I suspect what we’ll see is a self assured Green Arrow arise from the ashes of Team Arrow, one who will be willing to work with a team rather than lead one. We’ll see if that bears fruit though, since very few of my season six predictions have.
Another Stephen Amell centric episode that shines; proof positive that when you get out of this man’s way he delivers gold time and time again.
NEXT WEEK: Supergirl battles Toyman from beyond the grave; Team Flash battles The Thinker on their turf; Black Lightning has a final showdown with the ASA and Tobias Whale; Green Arrow takes to the streets of Star City without backup.