Wednesday, February 15, 2017

REVIEW: The CW's 'Supergirl' and 'Arrow' (February 13-15)

Reviews for The CW's Arrowverse shows from February 13-15:

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 2.12 "Luthors"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 5.13 "Spectre of the Gun"

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 - "Luthors"
After Metallo breaks out of prison and frees Lillian Luthor, the police blame Lena for his escape and arrest her. Despite overwhelming evidence, Kara refuses to believe her friend is guilty and fights to clear Lena's name. Flashbacks reveal how Lena came to be a Luthor. Meanwhile, Alex introduces Maggie to the gang. Written by Robert Rovner & Cindy Lichtman and directed by Tawnia McKiernan

It seems the show thinks the only interesting part about Lena Luthor is the lingering question of whether she is good or evil. The answer to that seemed answered in her last appearance when she called the cops on her mother. "Luthors" picks up on that story as Lillian and Metallo break out of prison. It genuinely seems like Lena is innocent in all of this. That feeling is overwhelming throughout the hour because it's what Kara believes and she's the only one who believes it. Of course, the audience gets to see things from Lena's perspective as well. We get to see her conversations with her mother. She learns that her adoptive father was actually her biological father. So, she really is a Luthor just like Lillian and Lex. Plus, Lillian is still manipulating her daughter to get what she wants. Lillian ends the episode on the run once more and likely returning to her nefarious Cadmus ways. That's a fine lingering plot thread because the audience knows where her allegiances lie. Meanwhile, it seems like the show is trying to do something more nuanced with Lena by showing the true friendship she has with Kara. And yet, that final scene with her that features a more sinister change in the musical score and a flashback showing she was better at chess than Lex would indicate Lena may be playing a long con and be truly evil after all. If so, the show is doing such a big disservice to the twist because it asks the same question over and over again whenever Lena is on the screen. It would be more powerful to just see her and Kara as friends for awhile. If she's ultimately evil, that would make the betrayal hit so much harder. Again, it's completely unclear if that's the direction the show wants to go in though. B

Arrow - "Spectre of the Gun"
A traumatic attack on City Hall triggers painful memories for Rene about his family. Flashbacks reveal how Rene went from simple family man to a hero named Wild Dog. Meanwhile, Oliver must deal with the perpetrator behind the attack and realizes the best way to do so is as Mayor Queen instead of the Green Arrow. Tensions run high in the Arrow bunker. Written by Marc Guggenheim and directed by Kristin Windell

The sci-fi genre has always been able to use its outrageous fantasy elements as allegory for real-life issues and politics. It's one of the strongest aspects of the genre because it helps show universal themes and acknowledges strong debates between the characters. Arrow tries to do that in "Spectre of the Gun" with a conversation about gun control. It's clearly something the creative team wanted to do because co-creator Marc Guggenheim wrote the episode. It may have just been a way to react to the real-world political climate. The situations in real-life are getting crazier and more chaotic. So, it's cathartic to make the problems in Star City easy to solve while still addressing these big problems. Yes, this episode has a ton of importance and does a respectable job seeing things from both perspectives. But the final resolution just seems a little too easy and light on the details. It works for the conclusion of a story. But how much of it is going to change the rest of the season? It's great that Oliver has to tackle the villain-of-the-week as the mayor and not as the Green Arrow. That's a welcome change of pace that leads to a climax with him talking down the shooter and not shooting an arrow at him. That's different and shows a true evolution on Oliver's part. But again, how much of the political side of this world will the show be willing to embrace - especially with Vigilante and Prometheus still on the loose. And then, there is the Rene subplot which really establishes his tragic backstory with his wife dying and his daughter being taken away from him for the foster care system. It's heartbreaking to watch. But it also serves as key motivation for what his arc is going to be moving forward. B