Friday, January 27, 2017

REVIEW: 'Supergirl,' 'The Flash,' 'Legends of Tomorrow' & 'Arrow' - Week of January 23

Reviews for The CW's Arrowverse shows for January 23-25:

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 2.09 "Supergirl Lives"
The CW's The Flash - Episode 3.10 "Borrowing Problems from the Future"
The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 2.09 "Raiders of the Lost Art"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 5.10 "Who Are You?"

Due to the demands of Peak TV, it is becoming more and more difficult for this website to devote the time to full length episodic reviews. And yet, there are still thoughts to be had about the ongoing adventures on a number of series. As problematic as they may be, the Arrowverse shows on The CW are having interesting and engaging seasons at the moment. So I thought it would be good to still write down a couple of brief thoughts about each episode on a weekly basis. Of course, you can still expect full reviews for premieres and finales. If The CW should make screeners available, those episodes would get detailed analysis as well. But for now, this will be the way to continue to provide content for these shows while also being a lighter workload for me.

Supergirl - "Supergirl Lives"
Kara is moved by the story of a missing woman and decides to investigate despite Snapper Carr's order to leave it alone. Kara takes Mon-El with her to the last place she was seen and the duo find themselves thrust through a portal to another planet, Slaver's Moon, where the downtrodden are sold as slaves. The leader of the trafficking ring is none other than Roulette. To make matters worse, Slaver's Moon has a red sun, which means Kara and Mon-El are stripped of their powers and stuck on the planet with no way home. Directed by Kevin Smith with story by Andrew Kreisberg and teleplay by Eric Carrasco & Jess Kardos

Kevin Smith has proven himself as a capable director for the Arrowverse shows. He directed two episodes of The Flash last year and is already slotted to do another episode of Supergirl later this season. Once again, he's gifted with a strong episode. The hour is full of charm and unique visuals as Kara and Mon-El travel to another planet. The Red Sun presents an interesting problem for the two of them. It largely just underlines that Kara is a hero no matter what and Mon-El is still working towards becoming one. He gets there in the end telling Kara he's ready to be a superhero. So now would be a perfect time for his secret past to finally be exposed. Those aliens are hunting him down for a reason. Plus, that Dominator (whose appearance was quite a surprise) sure did give him special treatment in the big escape. But the details of this specific plot didn't always work. Roulette is a character who could be an interesting recurring villain. But in her two appearances so far, she has been too thin and bland to fully work. Meanwhile, the detail that the atmosphere of Slaver's Moon is toxic to martians was basically just the show saying it didn't have the budget for Martian Manhunter to appear. Of course, Alex and Winn's stories were plenty delightful. It's so terrific to see Alex happy like this with Maggie even though she almost blows it. Plus, it's great that the show addresses that Kara's secret identity really isn't as good as everyone thinks - especially to a detective. And finally, Winn's rousing "I'm not a red shirt!" moment is just fantastic. B

The Flash - "Borrowing Problems from the Future"
Barry is tormented by his vision of the future where Iris is murdered by Savitar. When a criminal named Plunder shows up in Central City, Barry recalls the villain's presence in his vision of the future and fears that if he catches Plunder, it will cement Iris' fate. Confused about Barry's hesitation to stop Plunder, Wally decides to step in as Kid Flash. Written by Grainne Godfree & David Kob and directed by Millicent Shelton

This episode feels like a roadmap for the next half of the third season. It's wonderful that Barry decides not to keep his trip to the future and seeing Iris killed by Savitar a secret from the rest of the team. This show can be both smart and dumb a lot of the time. The team is constantly keeping secrets from each other and learning that they'll only be able to handle them as a team. Of course, Barry doesn't tell everyone about the news with Iris' future. Joe is still left in the dark. So, that's already an annoying plot development. I guess the rest of the team will just hide that board of future information from him? Plus, Barry and Cisco's trip back to the future drops a number of hints of what's to come this season. Those teases are exciting and interesting. Music Meister will get a six-figure book deal. Joe will be honored at city hall. Killer Frost will be on the loose. The city will recently be attacked by several gorillas. All of that sounds interesting. And after two and half seasons of the team constantly worrying about changing the past, it's nice and different to now see them focusing on the future. Of course, that mostly just makes this a transitional episode of the show with a pretty bland villain-of-the-week. B

Legends of Tomorrow - "Raiders of the Lost Art"
When Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn try to capture Rip Hunter in 1967, they create an aberration big enough to draw the attention of the Legends. When the team arrives they discover that Rip has no memories of his past due to "time drift" and is just a graduate film student. After trying to convince Rip of who he was, they discover that he possesses an incredibly powerful artifact known as the Spear of Destiny, which the Legion of Doom is after. Ray and Nate realize that the aberration has also affected them personally making it difficult to help the team. Rory asks Stein for help and makes him promise to keep it a secret from the team. Written by Keto Shimizu & Chris Fedak and directed by Dermott Downs

This is perhaps the silliest episode the show has ever produced. The big climatic moments are basically a battle to get George Lucas to yell that he wants to direct. It is so silly and stupid. And yet, it really works. There's a certain amount of charm that comes from this kind of meta-awareness. Taking itself too seriously was one of the major downfalls of the first season. And now, this episode actually calls the show out for all of the lame plot decisions it has made both in the past (with lame villain Vandal Savage) and the present (with the latest McGuffin in the Spear of Destiny). Of course, all of this is also tied to the return of Rip Hunter. Rip was an important part of the first season if not always an interesting or nuanced character. His absence really hasn't hurt the show at all this season. In fact, it was easy to forget that his disappearance was still a lingering mystery in the narrative. His return here with a completely new personality is a nice change of pace that really lends itself well to this specific time period and episodic tone. It's unclear if it will continue to be nice now that he's being tortured by the Legion of Doom though. B+

Arrow - "Who Are You?"
Worried that Prometheus is right and he is truly a killer at heart, Oliver looks for any ray of hope and finds it in what seems to be the miraculous return of Laurel Lance. However, Felicity - still reeling from Detective Malone's murder - is bent on revenge. She wants to stop Prometheus at any cost. While in prison, Diggle fights for his life. Written by Ben Sokolowski & Brian Ford Sullivan and directed by Gregory Smith

The show ended its fall run with the sudden return of Laurel Lance. Of course, the promos since then have upped the mystery of if it is really her. The episode itself doesn't keep it a mystery for very long. Felicity doesn't readily accept that time travel was able to save Laurel. She's able to figure out its Black Siren from Earth-2. The show has certainly gotten crazier since it first began. The existence of the multi-verse has largely been a thing on The Flash. It's normal sci-fi over on that show. But Arrow takes the time to actually think about what this means. Is this version of Laurel actually a villain or is she just a victim of circumstances? Oliver trying to get through to her could be an annoying source of conflict for the episode. But the fight between him and Felicity over Black Siren and Prometheus is really interesting. This is a great and active hour for Felicity. She succeeds and makes mistakes. She has her own agency which is a welcome change of pace. Of course, the mystery of Prometheus is starting to drag a little. He seems a little too all-knowing and powerful despite Oliver using different tactics against him in every battle. B+