Wednesday, March 15, 2017

REVIEW: The CW's 'The Flash,' 'Legends of Tomorrow' and 'Arrow' (March 14-15)

Reviews for The CW's Arrowverse shows from March 14-15:

The CW's The Flash - Episode 3.16 "Into the Speed Force"
The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 2.14 "Moonshot"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 5.16 "Checkmate"

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.

The Flash - "Into the Speed Force"
Desperate to stop Savitar and save his friends, Barry turns to the speed force for answers. H.R. gives Jesse some advice. Written by Brooke Roberts & Judalina Neira and directed by Gregory Smith

Barry's trip into the speed force last season was an impressive hour that showed the series was still capable of executing the fun, exciting details that made it a hit in the first place. It's understandable that the speed force has a different opinion of Barry now since he didn't learn his lesson from before despite getting his speed back. It's a darker story that shows how many characters have made the ultimate sacrifice for him. But it also hit a lot of familiar thematic plot beats. Barry was once again told that he alone had to be the one to face the consequences of his meddling with the timeline. It's up to him to save Iris from Savitar. He can't rely on Wally because he's not the one who created this mess of a situation in the first place. So, that's annoying without adding anything new to the plot point. Of course, Jay showing up to take Wally's place in the speed force was a very moving and emotional moment. So, Barry better succeed because Jay doesn't deserve to suffer like that. Meanwhile, Jesse's story largely just reveals that Savitar is human and can be hurt just like all of the previous evil speedsters Barry has faced. But that still sets up an inevitable reveal of him being someone all of the characters know. B-

Legends of Tomorrow - "Moonshot"
When the Legends track Commander Steel to NASA Headquarters in 1970, they learn where Nate's grandfather hid the last fragment of the Spear of Destiny. The team notices a time aberration during the Apollo 13 mission and believes that the Legion of Doom might be involved. As the Legends journey into space to intercept Apollo 13, the Waverider suffers massive internal damage and Ray's life is left in jeopardy when he is stranded on the moon. Tension grows between Rip and Sara as to who is the leader of the team. Written by Grainne Godfree and directed by Kevin Mock

Legends of Tomorrow
 has embraced the outrageousness and silliness of its premise more than the other Arrowverse shows. It still has its serious moments as well. But The Flash has gotten so dire, that Legends of Tomorrow looks wonderful in comparison. It's simply great to see Stein break into song to distract mission control in 1970 and Ray go on a moonwalk to retrieve the final piece of the Spear of Destiny. But there's also a ton of well-executed emotion in this hour as well. Thawne proves himself to be more than a scenery chewing villain - like Damian and Malcolm. He has a clear purpose. One that allows him to team up with Ray to get off the moon while still mocking his inferiority issues. Plus, it's important that the show recognizes it truly came together under Sara's leadership as captain of the legends - which leaves little room for Rip on the team. Of course, some thematic plot beats are hit again too. The legends are still trying to mess with the timeline despite knowing better. And yet, it is still incredibly emotional and earned when Nate's grandfather sacrificed himself for the mission. That was a wonderful and moving moment. Of course, it should be interesting to see what wrinkles are created by Amaya learning more about her future in the end. A-

Arrow - "Checkmate"
Oliver gets closer to the truth about Prometheus. Helix refuses to continue helping Felicity until she does a favor for them. Written by Beth Schwartz & Sarah Tarkoff and directed by Ken Shane

The unmasking of the season-long villain marks a key turning point for the Arrowverse shows. It's a formula that both Arrow and The Flash employ regularly. It changes the mood of the character. There is a distinct before and after. Once the characters learn the identity behind the mask, it's suppose to create a new emotional connection. It doesn't always work. Zoom was a better villain before the audience knew he was Hunter Zolomon. However, Adrian Chase becomes much more interesting as a character once he's a villain. He's just a lot more fun and charismatic. It's clear that Josh Segarra loves this twist. He's now having a blast chewing scenery. His motives still need to be made clear but this is a solid twist. Plus, it's great that Oliver and company find out right away this week. Sure, it seems repetitive that Oliver once again agonizes over whether he has put his team in harm's way. That's a familiar plot beat that has gotten old. But this hour is tense with Oliver and his team doing their best to finally beat Prometheus only for Adrian to reveal that he's still working many steps ahead of them. That's a fun quality to have in a season-long villain. Plus, it's great to see Talia in the present day story - even though it's weird Oliver didn't know that she was Ra's al Ghul's daughter and may be angry with him now. B+