Friday, October 20, 2017

REVIEW: The CW's 'Riverdale,' 'Arrow,' 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' and 'Jane the Virgin' (October 15-21)

Various reviews from The CW shows for October 15-21, 2017:

The CW's Riverdale - Episode 2.02 "Chapter Fifteen: Nighthawks"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 6.02 "Tribute"
The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Episode 3.02 "To Josh, With Love"
The CW's Jane the Virgin - Episode 4.02 "Chapter Sixty-Six"

In 2017, it's impossible to watch every scripted show out there. There are over 450 of them. It's even more impossible to even provide adequate coverage of some of them. Great shows slip through the cracks. Some shows take awhile to figure themselves out. So as a way for me to provide more coverage of various shows, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes on The CW from October 15-21, 2017. Enjoy!

Riverdale - "Chapter Fifteen: Nighthawks"
With the gunman still at large and the residents of Riverdale on edge, Betty leads the charge to save Pop's after learning that the diner may be forced to close its doors forever. The gang becomes increasingly concerned for Archie's well being after noticing a string of unusual behavior. Betty and Veronica approach Cheryl and Josie for their help saving Pop's. Jughead's attempt to find F.P. a new lawyer may have some serious repercussions. When a past betrayal unexpectedly comes to light, Veronica finds herself at a crossroads with Hiram and Hermione. Written by Michael Grassi and directed by Allison Anders

The tone of Riverdale can often be a very tricky thing. It's a very over-the-top and campy show. Everyone associated with the show is aware of that. But the characters all have a varying degree of camp. Most of them have an interesting angle where they can be both campy and serious. It's a unique blend that needs to be perfectly calibrated in order to be effective. And yet, the show hasn't quite figured out how to be both campy and serious with Archie. The focus on him in the premiere was strong. And now, he's off on a very dark path with no one seeming to notice just how bad he is becoming. He's buying a gun in order to protect his house from the gunman he is convinced wants to personally hurt him. This season has increased the darkness of the show. This hour ends with yet another murder. That establishes that no one in this community should feel safe. Of course, the victims are two high school students who haven't had much focus on them. It's still enough to keep the tension high moving forward. But this episode is a bit more scattered because Archie is off in his own tragic spiral of seriousness while everyone else is trying to save Pop's or help F.P. out of his current predicament. Both of those stories feel calibrated to the right degree. But even then, it feels like this episode is trying to do too much without giving enough focus to the various plots that actually need it. Betty can get things done but is also a little oblivious to what happened during her big night of rescuing Pop's. Veronica wants to believe her parents can be better than they were even though the audience is aware that they are clearly perfect for each other in their deviousness. And Jughead is willing to do just about anything to save his father. That could lead him down a dark path as well. But the show is mostly just shying away from that because he ultimately gets what he wants in the end. And finally, the logistics of the Grundy investigation don't make any sense. The show seems to completely forget that the name was an alias because she was running away. It still doesn't want to say outright that Archie was just one of her victims. B-

Arrow - "Tribute"
Oliver tries to balance being the mayor, the Green Arrow and a father to William. Anatoly returns to Star City with a deadly agenda. Directed by Laura Belsey with story by Adam Schwartz and teleplay by Marc Guggenheim & Beth Schwartz

This season of Arrow is still primarily in setup mode. It's aware that it has done these various plot beats before. Oliver's secret identity has been exposed to Star City before. The team has figured out a way to maintain his secret before. As such, there needed to be a new spin on it this time. It doesn't seem like something that will have lingering consequences for Oliver. Felicity and Curtis are able to figure out that the photo was doctored. It wasn't a genuine piece of evidence against Oliver. It mostly just serves as a wake-up call to Oliver. He could handle the pressure of being the Green Arrow when it was just him and people who have signed up for this life alongside him. But right now, he also has to focus on being a good parent for William. That's much more difficult to do because William is absolutely right to worry that Oliver is just one mistake away from making him an orphan. That's such a tragic reveal. It's enough to motivate Oliver into action. It's a fascinating concept to see him step back as a vigilante because he needs to improve as a father. Him promoting Diggle is a decision that could have difficult consequences because of his new injury from the island explosion. Plus, there's clearly someone targeting Oliver who wanted to make it appear that he was the masked vigilante in the city. It's not Anatoly who tries to profit off of his misfortune. That reunion highlights how the two of them are no longer friends with Anatoly following a darker path. Oliver has grown over the years. His job hasn't gotten any less dangerous though. So, he believes it's smart to focus on his home life. That's a decision that could dramatically change the structure of the show. It probably won't. Oliver will probably put on the suit sooner rather than later. But it's an exciting moment for change as well. There's the promise of something more being there. Now, the show just needs to deliver on it. B

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - "To Josh, With Love"
Unsatisfied with Paula's ideas to build a case against Josh, Rebecca turns to Nathaniel for help crafting a truly evil plan. Meanwhile, Josh finds becoming a priest is harder than he thought. Written by Rachel Specter & Audrey Wauchope and directed by Kabir Akhtar

Episodes of this show don't succeed or fail based on how many music videos are produced. And yet, "To Josh, With Love" is an incredible hour of television that happens to include the most musical moments of any episode of this show to date. It's very impressive how much this hour encompasses. It debuts the new theme song for the season - which features a mash up of different music videos as Rebecca contemplates whether or not she is crazy and if that is good or not. She's just as confused there as elsewhere in her life. This hour just does a solid job in highlighting the frustration Rebecca is feeling in her life right now. She has this hole in her life and nothing seems to fulfill it. She's worked so hard and figured out ways in order to get revenge on Josh Chan. But nothing is able to satisfy her. Suing him with Paula is doing nothing for her. The poop cupcakes are delivered right back to her. And teaming up with Nathaniel only makes her horrified by how awful he is and how much she doesn't want to hurt Josh's family. Of course, it's all just a ton of fun to see Rebecca put on that sexy showcase for Nathaniel as she quickly seduces him into helping her in this endeavor. But it's also just as meaningful to watch the subplot with Tim as he discovers that he doesn't give his wife orgasms. His big musical moment is fantastic as well. All of these characters are feeling frustrated in their lives. Rebecca is agonizing over Josh. Josh is feeling guilty about what he did. Tim is concerned about this lack of communication in his marriage. It's all building to that final moment where Rebecca breaks into her own version of Paula's "After Everything I've Done For You." It was a moment of frustration for Paula back in Season 1. And now, Rebecca is having similar feelings. It's a powerful moment where she lays everything out. She lashes out at Josh in showing just how much she has invested in this relationship. In doing so, it reveals all of the truly messed up things she has done over the course of the show. She gets carried away because it's empowering to her to get this out there. But it's quickly revealed to be a moment of relief for Josh because he has no reason to feel guilty while then being a moment of panic for Rebecca as she realizes just how disastrous that confession could be for her. A

Jane the Virgin - "Chapter Sixty-Six"
Jane's burgeoning relationship with Adam helps bring out her fun side and reminds her that she isn't just a mom. When Adam gets a job opportunity, he asks for Jane's opinion on if he should stay or go. Rogelio is facing issues with his co-star at work and things are about to get even worse for him. Xo is helping to take care of Darci to prove that Rogelio is committed to being a father to the baby. Petra and Rafael are working together to try and buy back the hotel, but are running into trouble, causing tension between them. Written by Valentina Garza, Jessica O'Toole & Amy Rardin and directed by Gina Lamar

It's so much fun to see what Adam brings out of Jane. He's a reminder that she's still a 20-something who can have fun every once and awhile. There is just a feeling of things being so nice and easy when she's around him. That's very encouraging. But the show doesn't live in that bubble for very long. This hour highlights the multiple personalities within individuals. Jane sees herself as both Fun Jane and Mom Jane. She doesn't want being a mother to define everything she does. She wants to have fun and enjoy this new relationship. But they are quickly pulled into a serious discussion about the future of it because of Adam's new job offer. That sends Jane spiraling and avoiding having that serious conversation with him. That, in turn, leads to her breaking her leg and getting into a fight with Rafael. Jane is lashing out at the world a little bit right now. She has every right to as well. Her rationalizations are easy to understand. She wants the best for Mateo in his education. She doesn't want to hear Rafael's excuse of not having the money to play for it anymore. But it's also so rewarding when her harsh criticisms are turned back on her because it's Alba's suggestion to list Xo and Rogelio's address on Mateo's forms so that he can attend a better school. That forces a fantastic conversation between Jane and Alba. It shows that things are becoming very complicated right now while highlighting the importance of communicating. Of course, talking openly about their feelings is the exact thing that makes Rafael and Petra dull as a couple. They want to make this work. They are passionate about keeping the hotel. But things just aren't working romantically. She at least has the mature approach of needing to step aware from romance for a little while as he immediately falls into bed with another woman. And finally, Rogelio's story is an absolute hoot. Jaime Camil has frequently been a comedic genius on this show while still allowing Rogelio to be a grounded character. But it's just so much fun to see him dress in drag in order to sway a group of women in a focus group to keeping him as the lead of his show. That's a fantastic moment that then produces a solid romantic gesture to Xo. And then, everything becomes twisty in that telenovela way in the end with Esteban returning and showing a romantic interest in Darci while the Narrator notes that one of six people is set to die in next week's episode. That's very ominous but exciting to think about as well. A-