Thursday, February 9, 2017

REVIEW: The CW's 'Supergirl,' 'The Flash,' 'Legends and Tomorrow' and 'Arrow' (February 6-8)

Reviews for The CW's Arrowverse shows from February 6-8:

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 2.11 "The Martian Chronicles"
The CW's The Flash - Episode 3.12 "Untouchable"
The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 2.11 "Turncoat"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 5.12 "Bratva"

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 - "The Martian Chronicles"
Armek, a White Martian, descends on National City intent on taking M'Gann back to Mars to face her punishment as a traitor. Hank and Supergirl determine the best way to keep M'Gann safe is to bring her to the DEO. When it is revealed that Armek shape-shifted into M'Gann and is now loose in the building, the team realize he could be disguised as any one of them. Written by Gabriel Llanas & Anna Musky-Goldwyn and directed by David McWhirter

There is a nice horror movie quality to this episode - especially once things become a lockdown at the DEO. Of course, there a number plot holes that could be picked apart with this story. Why is it so easy to break into the DEO? Why is it powered by a nuclear reactor? How did the White Martian snatch Winn and return as him so quickly? And yet, there are a number of reveals and action beats that work incredibly well. The Alex twist was very surprising and M'Gann's slow-motion blow to the back of the White Martian's head was epic. All of that was great but it was surrounded by so much character melodrama that is becoming way too forced. Kara and Alex's fight about not celebrating Earth birthday was frustrating. It was well informed by a deep history between the two characters. It was just odd it took up so much focus when it was clearly not what Kara was upset about. Additionally, the show needs to find a new way to tell romantic stories with Kara. Her being flustered that someone has a crush on her and not knowing how to react to it has gotten old. Meanwhile, it's devastating that M'Gann and J'onn's romance is a doomed one with her choosing to go to Mars to fight her people. It's also not as emotionally moving because their story has been so truncated this season. Hopefully, it's not the end though. B

The Flash - "Untouchable"
Barry and the team at STAR Labs work together to bring down Clive Yorkin, a criminal meta-human who is methodically killing people by causing them to decompose at an accelerated rate. Joe becomes his next target but it's Iris who is caught in the crossfire. The Flash mentors Kid Flash and begins to elevate the newer speedster's training to another level. Written by Brooke Roberts & Judalina Neira and directed by Rob Hardy

Doesn't it feel like The Flash is just recycling stories every three episodes or so? Team Flash is able to remember the villains they've defeated and the skills they've learned. And yet, they never seem to remember that it's better when they work as a team and don't keep secrets from each other. This episode was inevitable once Iris deliberately kept the truth about her future from Joe. That was a foolish mistake when it happened. It's still a foolish mistake when he learns the truth here. But it's the same thing the show has done a million times before. So, it just feels hollow that everyone gathers around Iris in the end promising to work together. The same is also true of Caitlin. She uses her powers once more and needs to be talked down by someone else in order to avoid becoming Killer Frost. This time it's Julian. That's new but it's still a stale plot beat that has been done before. Even the villain of the week isn't that exciting - even though his touch is literally lethal. It's all just about a speedster needing to trust that he'll be able to do a cool new trick when the time comes for it. In this case, that's Barry being able to faze a whole train and Wally being able to faze for the first time to defeat the villain. But again, it's not that exciting or different. But again, that final tease with Jesse coming through a breech declaring her father has been kidnapped by Grodd is enough to once again be excited for the show. C+

Legends of Tomorrow - "Turncoat"
When the Legends find a new time aberration, they learn they must travel to the winter of 1776 to protect George Washington and the American Revolutionary War. Things don't go as planned, forcing Sara to send out Nate and Amaya to help. Jax and Stein, who are busy protecting the incapacitated Waverider from their new enemy, are forced to step into roles that they don't think they are prepared for. Written by Grainne Godfree & Matthew Maala and directed by Alice Troughton

Arthur Darvill really wasn't missed a whole lot during the first half of this season. And yet, he has been a ton of fun to watch over the last few episodes because of the show's willingness to completely change up Rip's personality. There's even a meta line here where he says his self-righteousness was annoying. That was very much the case. And now, he's just evil and working with the Legion of Doom. That's fun - especially when it leads to a showdown with Jax of all people. It's fun watching Jax take on the captain role and have to figure out how to keep the Spear of Destiny safe while fighting people with no powers. That shows how heroic he is even though he's not ultimately successful. The rest of the episode was a little too melodramatic though. It's great that Rory didn't want to save George Washington but was actually the one who ultimately did it - and got a statue in his honor. But Ray and Stein seemingly did nothing even though they had such critical tasks on the ship. Meanwhile, Nate and Amaya had enough time to have sex instead of rescuing Rory and George Washington. That's a laughable moment made slightly worse by her continuing to insist that teammates shouldn't date. It's creating romantic tension for the sake of having tension. They have chemistry of course but it probably won't be that fun watching them hopelessly pine after each other. B-

Arrow - "Bratva"
A mission takes Oliver and the team to Russia where they meet up with Oliver's old friend, Anatoly. Fresh out of rehab, Lance returns to the mayor's office ready to get back to work. When Susan asks for an interview with Lance to discuss his addiction, he balks and it's up to Rene to help keep things on track. Written by Oscar Balderrama & Emilio Ortega Aldrich and directed by Ben Bray

This isn't the first time Oliver and company have traveled to Russia in the present day. They did so in Season 2 as well. But it does come with the additional knowledge of Oliver's year in the Bratva. The flashbacks have been better this season. But that mostly comes from the awareness that they're reaching the end of their intended story. And this episode ends on a good note of Oliver and Anatoly working together again to take down Gregor and Kovar. That's always a fascinating partnership. Meanwhile, the main story is largely about Oliver, Diggle and Felicity crossing the lines in Russia and needing to be brought back to normal by the team. Oliver and Diggle seem to learn their lessons in the end while Felicity is still going down her hacktivist path. And finally, it's still so annoying that Susan is sleeping with the focus of her investigation. But she also seems very smart and capable in being able to figure out that Oliver is the Green Arrow. It's still unclear where this story is going though. B