Wednesday, February 22, 2017

REVIEW: The CW's 'Supergirl,' 'The Flash,' 'Legends of Tomorrow' and 'Arrow' (February 20-22)

Reviews for The CW's Arrowverse shows from February 20-22:

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 2.13 "Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk"
The CW's The Flash - Episode 3.13 "Attack on Gorilla City"
The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 2.12 "Camelot/3000"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 5.14 "The Sin-Eater"

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 - "Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk"
When Mr. Mxyzptlk, a magical imp, shows up on Earth and declares his love for Kara, she tries to let him down easy, thinking him harmless. However, he decides it's a challenge and starts to wreak havoc on National City. Mon-El has seen beings like Mr. Mxyzptlk on Daxam and knows how dangerous they can be. He and Kara argue over how to get rid of Mr. Mxyzptlk, further straining their relationship. Meanwhile, Alex and Maggie celebrate their first Valentine's Day together. Written by Jessica Queller & Sterling Gates and directed by Stefan Pleszczynski

"Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk" is one of the most fun and charming episodes of Supergirl to date. It is just so entertaining to watch. Peter Gadiot was perfectly cast as Mr. Mxyzptlk. Plus, the character led to a new form of villain for Kara to face. Yes, the climatic battle had her facing off with an ice sculpture of her uncle. But she emerged victorious because of her intellect and wit. That was different and exciting. And yet, this episode suffers from a huge Mon-El problem. The show just doesn't know what to do with him. Each episode keeps hitting the same plot beat over and over again. He's positioned as a romantic interest for Kara. However, he's so immature and never seems to learn his lesson. He claims he has but then the next episode shows he hasn't. So, it's frustrating to see Kara still into him at the end of this hour. What exactly does she see there beyond a pretty face? It's just starting to get way too thin. Plus, things will only continue to get worse with the upcoming reveal of his huge secret. All of that stands in stark contrast to Alex and Maggie's relationship. It has followed a nice evolution where it's not just repeating the same issues over and over again. It's very adult and mature in a lot of ways. It's such a wonderful moment when they finally celebrate Valentine's Day. That's how you tell a romantic story - not whatever is going on with Kara. Perhaps it would be better if the show just stopped trying to push romance with Kara for awhile. B

The Flash - "Attack on Gorilla City"
When Jesse Quick informs the team that her father has been abducted, Barry, Caitlin, Cisco and Julian voyage to Earth-2 on a rescue mission to save Harry from Gorilla City. As they trek through the forest, Barry and the team are immediately captured and brought to Grodd. Grodd tells them he needs their help to stop Solovar, the leader of Gorilla City, as Solovar wants to invade Earth-1. Directed by Dermott Downs with story by Andrew Kreisberg and teleplay by Aaron Helbing & David Kob

The Flash
 has been able to pull off some pretty awesome special effects across three seasons. It's had its weak and laughable moments as well. But trying to depict Gorilla City - a city deep in Africa on Earth-2 where sentient gorillas live - is the most ambitious the show has ever been. It's also clear that the episode uses a number of tricks to keep the budget down as well. Most of the time, Barry and his friends are just locked in cages. Plus, Grodd is able to communicate through Harry - which leads to yet another different performance from Tom Cavanagh (who is great as always). But there are a number of action shots that are really cool to watch. Barry's duel with Solovar is particularly impressive. No, it doesn't look like they are actually fighting in front of an arena full of gorillas. But the fight itself has a number of epic moments. Plus, this episode succeeds because it doesn't get bogged down by the repetitive problems that have been so common this season. Of course, the Wally-Jesse subplot is a little too distracting with its boring romantic angst that builds to a foregone conclusion. But that's just a minor part of the episode. The rest is truly ambitious and original. Even the escape from Gorilla City is inspired with Cailtin using her powers once more for good. Of course, the final reveal that Grodd also has control of Gypsy somehow opens a number of questions. But in the moment, this episode is fun and exciting to watch while being more ambitious than this show has any right to be. B+

Legends of Tomorrow - "Camelot/3000"
The Legends discover that pieces of the Spear of Destiny are each being guarded in different time periods by members of the JSA. Their first stop is the future where they find Dr. Mid-Nite which eventually leads them to the past and King Arthur's Camelot, where Stargirl is protecting her piece. In order to protect the shard from the now-evil Rip Hunter, the Legends must join forces with the Knights of the Round Table. Written by Anderson MacKenzie and directed by Antonio Negret

"Camelot/3000" asks a very important question for the team. Is it more important to retrieve and protect the pieces of the Spear of Destiny or should the team get involved with the various conflicts going on in the time periods they visit? The Legends may not always be an effective team. So, Stargirl is right to keep her piece from them for awhile. Plus, it's established early on that the events of this time period are not historically accurate and were created for Stargirl's own amusement and protection. So, it wouldn't cause vast amount of damage to the timeline. But still the team becomes involved with the grand fight even though it may mean losing the piece of the Spear in the process. They do so ultimately because it gives most of the characters something to do. Stein and Mick have to figure out the future technology that Rip is using. Ray foolishly heads into battle and forces the rest of the team to follow. Nate complains about history and legends not always going hand-in-hand. But again, it's all suppose to be rousing because it builds to an epic fight between the legends (aligned with the Knights of the Round Table) and Rip Hunter (who has an army of mind-controlled soldiers). It's great to see Rip captured and back on the Waverider. And yet, it's immediately a frustrating reveal that Gideon still listens to his commands. That just shows how incompetent the rest of the team is. So, that makes me really dread whatever is about to happen next week. B-

Arrow - 'The Sin-Eater"
China White, Cupid and Liza Warner break out of Iron Heights and head to Star City for revenge. Oliver tries to bring in the newly formed girl gang but the ACU intervenes mid-fight. To his surprise, they are there to arrest the Green Arrow for the murder of Detective Malone. Lance feels responsible for the prison break after Warner tells him she heard about him working with Damien Darhk. Written by Barbara Bloom & Jenny Lynn and directed by Mary Lambert

China White, Cupid and Liza Warner breaking out of prison is a fantastic premise for an episode. And yet, it doesn't seem like this hour does enough with it. I had to reminded of what Liza and Quentin's past was in the "Previously on" segment. That turned out to be the basis for the whole story. China and Cupid were just along for the ride with very little to do individually. That's disappointing - especially with China White as she's a connection to the early days of the show and the full circle quality of this season. Meanwhile, it's great that Susan's investigation into Oliver is exposed. It's just more about Thea than it is Susan. Oliver is right to say that her decision was exactly something their mother would do. But after so much buildup of this story, this hardly seems like enough payoff. So, something more is likely going to happen soon. And finally, the death of Detective Malone is brought up again. It largely just highlights how dim the police captain is for not realizing that Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow. They even use the same expression! It's just more important that a plea for help leads to the police actually arresting the escaped convicts and not the vigilantes. Of course, it also feels right that Oliver pleading his case also opens his administration up to a cover-up scandal. That should be fascinating to see unfold because it's true. B-