SUPERGIRL / THE FLASH / LEGENDS of TOMORROW / ARROW [Reviews]: CW Superhero Round-Up!
As Summer melts away to Autumn, movie blockbuster season gives way to the Fall TV season, which gives us the chance to check in and see if Supergirl’s still flying high, The Flash’s still running strong, The Legends are still out screwing time up for the better, and Oliver’s still out shooting Arrows…or something. So, join me, my fellow geeks, as we hop right back into the world of the best live-action DC Universe currently on any screen.
When we last left Supergirl, she’d just made the impossible choice of sacrificing the person she loves for the sake of her adopted planet. Mon-El didn’t die, but for all intents and purposes he’s been banished and is unable to return–for now. While National City certainly appreciates everything Kara’s done, she’s having a lot of trouble dealing with that loss and leading her down a self-destructive path. That sounds like it might be a fairly interesting story, but it’s so thematically — and worringly — similar to the last season of The Flash. While I did enjoy the resolution and wouldn’t mind the show exploring the questions brought up here in upcoming episodes, here’s to hoping they don’t drag it out for the entire season (much like they did with The Flash). Overall, it was a strong episode even if it did leave me a little wary of the season moving forward. 3.5/5 Girls of Steel.
Jumping into the second episode, I actually feel even more justified in that wariness. This episode had a villain, Psi, who has the ability to make people relive traumatic experiences, which is a fantastic premise for Supergirl, if also a sadly relevant one. After two of her encounters with Psi, Supergirl is left with crippling panic attacks and I do actually appreciate the way they handled them. After the first, she flew out of the building (it’s actually amazing that it’s never addressed that someone completely destroyed the elevator and rooftop of the Catco building) and had a fairly insightful conversation with Winn, who assures her that panic attacks aren’t a sign of weakness and that they can even happen to the Girl of Steel. The second has Alex talk her down from her panic attack in a way that’s not bad (although I did genuinely hate the “mind over matter” line) but rushed, although that’s forgivable given the fact that this is a 45-minute episode where the heroine has to overcome these panic attacks in order to save the day while also sharing the stage with multiple subplots. I also do appreciate that they do show that Supergirl was able to overcome them to defeat the villain, but hasn’t fully overcome everything she’s dealing with otherwise. Surprisingly, I actually found the subplot involving Samantha (aka Reign) and her daughter to be better than the main one.
I found the daughter’s attitude about her mother not being a superhero annoying until it was revealed to be more than just that, but Sam’s attitude throughout was well done (I especially loved the ending touch where she tries to bend a crowbar, just to make sure she doesn’t have super strength.) Unfortunately, they’ve only touched the Alex/Maggie wedding drama and Lena taking over Catco subplots on the surface. This 2nd ep ends with M’gann calling J’onn to Mars for next week’s episode adding an additional subplot to deal with. Throwing in the Morgan Edge subplot that was only mentioned in passing this week and you start to realized that Supergirl‘s already got a lot going on this early in the season. Going back to my opening statement for a moment, there’s found justification in my initial wariness. As good as some of the stuff was here, it still felt much more joyless than Supergirl‘s ever felt. 4.25/5 Horrified Elevator Repairmen.
This brings us to The Flash, coming off of its worst season so far. To be completely clear, I didn’t hate the season and I do think it was actually pretty good overall (and I especially enjoyed the final two episodes). But ore than anything else, last season suffered from a near total lack of joy that made the long battle against one singular foe that much harder to get through. However, this season begins with a much more difficult road back to the status quo from the enormous cliffhanger that last season left us on, with Barry Allen trapped in the Speed Force prison. I went in thinking they would try the new status quo for a few episodes before bringing us back, but they brought us back to scratch in the premiere, and I actually think I like it more this way. As fun as it would have been to see Wally as The Flash for a while, I’m glad that there of hints that repercussions will be felt throughout the rest of the season. While this seems to be following a similar path, this season seems be regaining the joy and hopefulness that made this show so fun to watch in earlier seasons. 4/5 Bitchin’ Houses.
The second episode of The Flash actually manages to add some drama and address some lingering consequences from Barry’s time in the Speed Force, but also manages to maintain the fun that was reestablished in the premier. This episode begins with a murder in an elevator, the second elevator mishap in as many episodes this week — so I’m guessing elevator repairmen will be getting some epic overtime in the DCU this week. The villain of the episode, Kilg%re (yes, that obnoxious spelling is correct), was a fairly uninteresting, aggrieved villain with a pretty cool power set that led to some pretty great sequences. While Barry completely strips a car at superspeed, the showstealing scene of the ep had our hero hopping into the police station as a grenade explodes and catching all of the shrapnel in the air. Also, Kilgore (from now on I refuse to use the other name) taking over the internal tech of The Flash’s suit led to some truly “LOL” moments involving the suit malfunctioning and Cisco attempting to justify each of those features.
As fun as all of that was, however, there are two things that are becoming especially irritating. Considering the diminished role he had toward the end of last season and Barry’s departure at the very end, it wasn’t unfair to expect Wally to have a larger role this season; yet he’s just been brushed aside for Barry here in each of these first two eps. Keiynan Lonsdale has great chemistry with the rest of the cast and has succeeded in making Wally a likeable character and it’s disappointing that he’s not getting the opportunity to show that off, especially considering there were multiple opportunities for him to save the day. The worst part right now, though, is Iris. Her feelings of abandonment are illogical but understandable, given the fact that emotions tend to be that way and unavoidably so at times and it also led to some genuinely funny moments at couple’s therapy; nice that the humor came from the ridiculous amount of stuff they’ve been through together and not the idea of couple’s therapy itself as well. However, the idea that Barry would do something that could potentially kill him or negatively affect the functionality of his suit because Iris asked him to do it when the two people objecting to her orders were a bioengineer and mechanical engineer is ridiculous and sets a bad precedent. It would be incredibly obnoxious if she continues making decisions in these dangerous scenarios, even though she’s the least qualified member of the team to make these calls.
All that said, this episode was a lot of fun and went back to the roots of what made this show so enjoyable to begin with. There was some compelling drama (I didn’t even get into the Cisco/Gypsy stuff and that was great!), great action, great humor and some pretty awesome comic book references (the Babel Protocol and flotation mode, a nod to “The Day the Flash weighed 1,000 pounds,” immediately spring to mind). It’s great that it isn’t just Barry Allen who’s back; now, The Flash is back.
4.25/5 Disgusted Elevator Repairmen.
Of all the CW shows, Legends of Tomorrow is the one I’m most surprised has actually lasted this long and I’m genuinely glad it has. It’s not the best of the shows, but it’s certainly the most wild and fun. Last season in particular was an absolute blast, but left us with the Legends having finally managed to completely break time. The premier opens with a new organization founded by Rip Hunter cleaning up the mess and relieving the Legends of their duties and thus, shenanigans ensue. This episode was so much fun, with everything from Sara working a retail job in Starling City to a brawl between Mick and Julius Cesar on the shore of Aruba. It also drops a few hints for the season going forward and establishes a rival for the Legends who’s better at doing their job than they are. This season seems poised to continue the fun of the previous seasons and I’m excited to continue watching the Legends “screw things up for the better.” 3.75/5 Roman Bros.
Last of all, but certainly not least, is the show that began this all, Arrow. Full disclosure, I actually have not watched Arrow outside of crossover episodes since a little over halfway through Season 1. I do have some knowledge of what’s been going on simply through osmosis through the other shows, but I was interested to see how this episode would hold up going in relatively blind with only some negative memories of those early Season One episodes. I am shocked to say that I actually thoroughly enjoyed this episode. There were things that I didn’t have the context to fully appreciate, but there were plenty of things I was able to pick up through context clues and the big reveal at the end of the Green Arrow’s identity sets up an interesting quandary for the sitting mayor of Star City. This episode was still darker and more dramatic than the other CW shows, as one would expect from Arrow, but this episode was certainly more fun than any episode I remember and Oliver is infinitely more likeable now than he ever was back then. 4/5 Revived Ex-Girlfriends.