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TV Review: Arrow S5E17 Kapiushon

arrowPrometheus attempts to break Oliver; Anatoly worries about Oliver’s increasingly violent tendencies, which come to a head in a brutal confrontation.

Arrow has had lots of ups and downs this season and at this point things have felt like they’ve dragged on a bit too long, especially when it comes to the Russia storyline that’s a major focus of this season.

This episode is no exception and feels like it splits itself in two as Oliver goes on the offensive in Russia with bodies piling up and then there’s his being held prisoner by Prometheus/Chase.

There’s some really solid stuff here. For those who watched the first two seasons of Arrow, you’ll remember that Oliver was full of bloodlust and had no problem killing those he saw as villains. There was a lot of time devoted to that and he eventually changed his ways.

This seasons dives into that bloodlust building with each episode. It’s a prequel in many ways and directly dives into a subject that was debated a lot in the series. Again, that’s really good and cool. But, with the back and forth with the various Russian mobsters, things have kind of blended together. It’s not too exciting when some of what happens feels like we’ve seen it before and it’s all repeating itself. I’m literally zoning out at it all. And what’s weird is, out of all of the seasons, this prequel story is the most important and tied into the modern day story. It’s an actual important one.

The torture aspect with Prometheus is the villain’s attempt to get back at Oliver for killing his father but in the end he just wants a confession in a way. That leads to Oliver coming to an internal conclusion about his nature and the killing. It’s interesting and catharsis in some ways, but also feels anti-climactic. Oliver’s realization leads to a conclusion at the end of the episode that’ll drive the rest of the season in an interesting direction, one we’ll have to wait and see.

The episode is decent, it’s just dragging it feels like. The departure from previous seasons seems to have caused another problem, a series that’s dragging.

Overall rating: 7.65

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TV Review: The Flash S3E17 Duet

The Flash Season 2Mon-El and Hank Henshaw arrive carrying a comatose Supergirl, who was attacked by the Music Meister; when the Music Meister attacks Barry, both he and Supergirl wake up in an alternate reality that they have to sing and dance their way out of.

The Flash delivers a musical episode with guest star Supergirl in an entertaining episode that has its ups and downs.

The episode carries over from this week’s Supergirl which ended with a mysterious character putting Supergirl in a trance and then heading to the Flash’s Earth. And that’s the first meh part of the episode. If you didn’t watch Supergirl you might be lost as to what’s going on and this episode does an only ok episode explaining the situation. It also doesn’t help that Mon-El who also comes over from Supergirl has been a douche lately, so it’s hard to cheer for him.

But, the focus on this episode is the musical itself which spoofs from various other musicals and shows off how much of the two casts have a musical background. Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash, Jesse L. Martin as Joe West, Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers/Supergirl, Victor Garber as Martin Stein, John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramone, and Jeremy Jordan as Winn Schott all have a long history in musical theater. Then there’s guest Darren Criss as the Music Meister. That’s three Glee actors on this episode.

The songs are decent and singing not too bad. Valdes and Jordan caught me by surprise at their talent but I didn’t know their background. Gustin is a much better dancer than singer and Benoist shines as usual. Everyone has their moment and it’s cheesy fun and that’s the name of the game, fun.

The actual plot is groan-inducing mostly due to the ending which caused a massive eye roll from me. It’s almost as if the writers didn’t know how to end the episode so this is what they came up with. It also washes over how bad Mon-El is for Kara and impacts Supergirl more than it does The Flash. But, the episode ends with Gustin serenading Iris in a cute scene full of saccharin.

There’s some good and likely made fans clamoring for a musical episode happy, but when you pull back and really think about it all, the episode is all flash and little substance. Its worse crime is overlooking the caustic relationship between Kara and Mon-El fixing it with what feels like fortune cookie wisdom.

Overall Rating: 7.05

Supergirl S2E16 “Star-Crossed” Gets Sidetracked by Quirky Subplots

StarcrossedFI

At times, this week’s episode of Supergirl  “Star-Crossed” feels like a hybrid of the worst parts of two great genre shows. It’s the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5 or so where Spike is trying to be a “good person” to win Buffy’s love combined with the early episodes of Angel that spent an entire episode on some monster of the week gimmick, like hip hop themed demon gangs or elaborate games of demon poker. In this case, writers Katie Rose Rogers and Jessica Kardos spend most of the episode’s running time on a B-plot featuring Winn’s girlfriend Lyra and an intergalactic art smuggling ring while putting the reveal of Mon-El as the prince of Daxam on the backburner. We do find out that his parents, Rhea (Teri Hatcher) and Lar Gand (Kevin Sorbo) definitely would have voted for Trump as they espouse the motto “Make Daxam great again.” and say that slavery helped other alien races “improve their station”.

Rogers and Kardos should be applauded for finding some way to connect the Mon-El reveal and alien art thief through the shared theme of lying in a relationship. The makeouts and “divine museum sex” that Winn and Lyra shared were just a cover for her being a con woman and trying to steal priceless works of art like Van Gogh’s Starry Night (So cliched.) to buy her brother back from a trailer park dwelling group of gangster aliens. Roger and Kardos invent a whole backstory for her from whole cloth and set up Lyra as a terrible person, who has been using Winn the whole time, but he stills likes her for kissing reasons, I guess. If the Mon-El/Kara romance is any barometer, people do terrible things for attractive people or aliens.

Winnyo

However, the fights between the alien art ring members and Winn’s friends lets first time director and veteran stunt coordinator John Medlen Jr. shoot some brutal close quarters action as Alex Danvers continues to fight dirty while still breaking off after beating the bad guys to kiss her girlfriend Maggie. Rogers and Kardos also reunites the “superfriends” of Guardian, Winn, and Supergirl as they get to the bottom of these alien art shenanigans even if Lyra gets off a little too easy.

But, for the most part, this plot feels like a cheesy diversion from the important reveal that Mon-El has been lying all along and is the spoiled prince of a country, who kept their subjects drunk and lazy to exploit them all the more. Medlen’s red tinged flashbacks are shot in stark, yet stylized documentary style with Mon-El’s selfishness on full display as he leaves his one night stand behind to flee Daxam in his pod. And to get to his pod, his bodyguard kills its Kryptonian diplomat owner and sacrifices himself while Mon-El jets off to safety. Yeah, Mon-El isn’t just a frat boy, but a murderer too in a neat deconstruction of the white male Chosen One trope. And his excuses for his behavior ring hollow even though Chris Wood uses his pretty face to wring every last bit of charm out of them.

Finally, Katie Rogers and Jessica Kardos realize that Kara and Mon-El aren’t a good match. Her motivation for being a superhero is her implicit goodness while his is to put it frankly, to get in her pants or spend time with her. The opening scene of “Star-Crossed” shows Mon-El’s selfishness as he enjoys “Netflix and chill” with Kara rather than teaming up with her to help people or listen about the articles and investigations she used to do for Catco. He’s at his happiest when Kara is at her weakest and most inactive and sits out during the action scenes except for the end when he declares his love for her in front of his disapproving parents, who spend most of the time extolling the virtues of Daxam and decrying the Kryptonians. They’re like your racist in-laws only played by Kevin Sorbo and Teri Hatcher with regal speaking patterns.

SupergirlRhea

The ending of “Star-Crossed” seems to fall into a pattern of Mon-El being terrible and Kara forgiving him and taking him back, but Rogers and Kardos finally break with convention. Melissa Benoist puts on her tough, serious face and calls him out on lying about his entire past and personality and pretending to be another so she would like him. Ir’s a real moment of power for Supergirl in an episode that seems overly concerned with alien gang politics, and Jeremy Jordan’s shout-y dialogue delivery as he proves that he’s better at quick-witted comic relief than melodrama. She is single and free to be a hero, and so is Mon-El as he tells his parents to leave Earth. But their departure is a little too easy, and they’re sure to be back. Rhea is a master of a passive aggressive manipulation and uses Kara’s misgivings about Mon-El to break them up, and it would be a lot of fun to see her and Lillian Luthor match wits.

“Star-Crossed” meanders into a side character’s backstory a little too much kind of wastes Daxamites as potential antagonists. However, Kara finally sees the light about Mon-El, which means Melissa Benoist gets to exhibit some intense post-breakup emotions, and John Medlen is one hell of a fight choreographer for the Guardian vs. Trailer Park Alien Boys scenes so it’s not a half bad episode. Plus there’s a tease of Darren Criss’ Music Meister (and a Glee reunion) complete with CGI contact lens hypnosis at the very end.

Overall: 7.5

TV Review: Arrow S5E16 Checkmate

arrowOliver gets closer to the truth about Prometheus; Helix refuses to continue to help Felicity until she does a favor for them.

Arrow dives deep into the revelation of who Prometheus is with an episode where his identity is revealed to Oliver leading to a confrontation between the two and a revelation of why. It brings a lot together from the season, especially plot points that haven’t felt like they were relevant. It’s probably the best use of the flashbacks in a season.

Lots are thrown at viewers this episode forcing them to pay attention to every reveal throughout the episode.

And that forcing to pay attention involves Chase’s plans as the back and forth between him and Oliver feels like a game of one-upmanship as viewers are left to figure out who really has the drop on whom. It’s all interesting in a way but after a while, it feels like Bill and Ted playing with time to resolve their problems.

What’s most interesting in the episode is its ending which involves some interesting allegiances and a direction that feels like it plays well into Oliver’s past life. This episode is a good one in that it plays with expectations as to where things are going in the episode and the season. There’s a lot of confrontations and twists and turns that keep viewers on their toes. That sums up a lot of the season. Even Adrian Chase’s name gives a fake for comic book fans (the name is that of the original Vigilante, a character who has appeared on the show this season).

The episode is one of the stronger ones of the season connecting a lot of dots and giving us reveals and twists at the same time. This episode is a perfect example of that. We know the secret identity of the villain but there’s still reveals to go in the episode giving us a second villain to contend with. It feels like the latter half of this season is redeeming the slower earlier season and it’ll be interesting to see how things go from here.

Overall rating: 8.25

TV Review: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow S2E14 Moonshot

legends-of-tomorrow-season-2When the Legends track Commander Steel to NASA Headquarters in 1970, they discover where Nate’s grandfather hid the last fragment of the Spear of Destiny; tension grows between Rip and Sara over leadership of the team.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow does its best Apollo 13 impression as the team heads to the doomed mission in hopes of grabbing the last fragment of the Spear of Destiny.

The episode is an interesting one in that it allows Nate to really explore his family dynamic as he interacts with his grandfather and contemplates changing the timeline in hopes of fixing his family dynamic. There’s something touching, but predictable about it all.

The episode is generally fun with Ray Palmer giving off his general excited vibe as he heads to the moon and a small musical number breaks out at one point (it works). There’s also tension between Sara and Rip and Sara’s leadership over the team. Where does that leave Rip in it all? We’ll find out.

The episode is entertaining and as usual throws it all out there in the crazy that is this series. You can tell everyone is enjoying themselves and the stories, like this episode, are over the top in plot and action. The end of the episode is where it’s at though. I’m not spoiling it, but it connects the dots in so many ways and again adds fun to the CW DCverse.

Overall Rating: 6.85

TV Review: The Flash S3E16 Into the Speed Force

The Flash Season 2Desperate to stop Savitar and save his friends, Barry turns to the speed force for answers; H.R. gives Jesse some advice.

The Flash dives deep into the Speed Force as Barry decides he has to go save Wally and Jesse decides she wants to confront Savitar. It’s an interesting episode that goes deep into the mythos of the Speed Force as Barry explores it all and some interesting “fun” is put before us during the rescue mission.

It’s interesting in that the episode really explores the Speed Force and what it’s like inside. That’s something that’s been touched upon before but this feels like something new. What’s particularly interesting is that it’s all to teach Barry a lesson, which feels like that’s the point of a lot of things that happens. If it’s not Team Flash fighting a villain, it’s something to teach Barry a lesson. That’s the big focus here too. It’s to give him a push and put him on the path to eventually face Savitar, something we know is the big build of the season.

And if that’s not obvious then Jesse’s part of it all leads us to that point too. She decides it’s her turn to protect the city and confronts Savitar herself. This mainly leads to a revelation about the villain, the big point to all of that. It’s an interesting battle and gives Jesse some strength stepping up. That’s also emphasized in a statement of hers about fighting other villains. She’s experienced, we just haven’t seen it.

This is a bridge episode as I’d describe it. It doesn’t stand on its own a whole lot, instead propelling a lot of plot points forward and adding some depth. It’s the episode where details that couldn’t be added to other episodes are fit in. It’s not bad, it’s just not great either. The Speed Force moments are interesting, but at their heart it’s something we’ve seen elsewhere. The fight with Savitar didn’t feel all that special either.

The episode gets us from point A to point C, but it being point B, it’s not all that exciting.

Overall Rating: 7.00

TV Review: Riverdale S1E7 Chapter Seven: In a Lonely Place

riverdaleNew rumors circulate as to who was really behind Jason’s murder after a major piece of evidence is mysteriously destroyed; Jughead’s father returns to the fray; Veronica takes matters into her own hands after her fight with Hermione.

Riverdale has a bit of a theme tonight of messed up parents exploring both Jughead, Cheryl, and Veronica’s in different ways.

When it comes to Veronica, which is the simpleist of plots, the episode picks up from the previous episode where Hermione forged her signature to award Fred a contract. Veronica threatens her mother, her mother cuts off her credit card. It’s all rather interesting and playing out a family where things are spiraling out of control.

Then there’s Cheryl’s parents. Polly is on the loose and Cheryl’s parents know she’s pregnant letting that information get out. They then offer support and money if Polly comes out of hiding and they’ll help care for the child. They also set the ground of a custody battle down the road. There’s something really creepy about it all, especially as Polly’s choice on what to do with the child seems to be taken away from her. It emphasizes the crazy on that side of things which matches the Cooper’s crazy. Seriously, shrinks must be cashing in when it comes to work in this town.

Finally, there’s Jughead and his father who attempts to go straight and agrees to work with Fred again. We get a lot of history about Jughead’s family and his father’s history and it fleshes out the two characters adding lots of depth. I’m not quite sure where all of that’s going, but clearly there’s a clash coming in some way.

Multiple families each dealing with issues when it comes to parenting in different ways and each showing their skeletons in different ways. The episode does a lot adding depth to the characters through their actions and in some cases fleshing out the characters more in this one episode than has occurred for the entire season so far.

And that’s what’s impressed me with Riverdale. The show continues to add depth to characters and shake things up in a way with a focused episode exploring a specific aspect of the town and its characters. Another solid episode that makes the case that this is the best comic adaptation on television.

Overall Rating: 9.45

TV Review: DC’s Legends of Tomorrow S2E13 Land of the Lost

legends-of-tomorrow-season-2Rip forces the Waverider to crash, leaving the Legends stuck 70 million years in the past; Rory suggest entering Rip’s mind in an effort to get the “good” Rip back Nate and Amaya continue to get closer.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow fights to bring back classic Rip in a so-so episode that has some of the heroes heading into Rip’s mind to save him while other members have to fight dinosaurs.

The episode is fun, but it’s a been there done that story in so many different ways. Members running for a dinosaur has comedic moment but its resolution is pretty easy to figure out and it never really feels like it’s threatening in any way.

The battle in Rip’s mind has folks battling figments of themselves on the psychic plane which is about as paint by numbers as it gets in this type of story. It’s not bad and there’s some action, but other than the resolution nothing in the episode really stands out.

The highlight is a “physical” manifestation of the ship’s artificial intelligence and there’s a bit of a thing with Rip… it’s weird. It’s really weird. Like, I have so many questions, weird.

The episode gets us from point a to b but at the same time none if it stands out. This episode is actually forgettable.

Overall Rating: 6.85

TV Review: The Flash S3E15 The Wrath of Savitar

The Flash Season 2While training with Barry, Wally starts to have visions of Savitar, which he hides from the team; a dangerous secret threatens Barry and Iris’ happiness.

The Flash ended last week with some twists and turns and of course things can’t be happy for even an episode. Barry and Iris spring the news of their engagement and Wally is dealing with his Savitar sightings. That’s the chunk of the episode, either folks talking about the engagement and reacting to it and Wally being an arrogant dick.

While I generally like Wally on the show and thought he provided a different perspective, there’s been an arrogance and cockiness to the character that has had me not quite cheering for him. This episode shows off why that’s the case as we learn more about Savitar and his Kid Flash connection.

All of it really shows off the issues with Wally as a character and emphasizes the differences between Barry and him. One is someone who accidentally got his powers and has been working on making himself worthy and the other thinks he deserves the powers. It’s pretty in your face, but  how Savitar fits into it all really pushes that narrative over the top. There’s also some circular logic to it all that I’m still trying to wrap my head around.

Though we should be happy for Barry and Iris, that too is tainted. There’s why Barry did it which is revealed later in the episode but there’s the fact that Barry didn’t “ask” for Joe’s permission, a rather outdated idea that doesn’t really fit with Iris’ character in some aspects, but also emphasizes that Iris hasn’t really stood out on her own yet. She’s a prop piece for Barry and Joe, for them to react to or have to save. Where’s the independent and successful Iris? We used to see her in her job, but that has gone away enhancing the issue that she doesn’t stand on her own and is only a part of the ensemble.

The end of the episode is where things really stand out though. We get a shock moment that visually is fantastic but is a bit hollow in how it resonates and people react. It really sets the show in an interesting direction and ups the threat factor but considering who it happens to, can’t say I’m too sad to see it happen.

Overall Rating: 7.05

Riverdale Gets Renewed for Season 2 at The CW

Order another round of burgers at Pop’s because Archie and the gang are back for a second season of Riverdale on The CW! Archie Comics made the announcement today.

The live-action Riverdale series offers a bold, compelling take on Archie, Betty, Veronica, and their friends, exploring small-town life and the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade. The show will focus on the eternal love triangle of Archie Andrews, girl-next-door Betty Cooper, and rich socialite Veronica Lodge, and will include the entire cast of characters from the comic books—including Archie’s rival, Reggie Mantle, and his best friend, Jughead Jones.

The series looked like it was likely to be renewed averaging about 1 million viewers and about 0.40 in the coveted 18.49 demographic.

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