Friday, October 27, 2017

REVIEW: The CW's 'Riverdale,' 'Arrow,' 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' and 'Jane the Virgin' (October 22-28)

Various reviews from The CW shows for October 22-28, 2017:

The CW's Riverdale - Episode 2.03 "Chapter Sixteen: The Watcher in the Woods"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 6.03 "Next of Kin"
The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Episode 3.03 "Josh is a Liar"
The CW's Jane the Virgin - Episode 4.03 "Chapter Sixty-Seven"

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 22-28, 2017. Enjoy!

Riverdale - "Chapter Sixteen: The Watcher in the Woods"
Frustrated by the lack of progress made in catching his father's shooter, Archie takes matters into his own hands in order to send the gunman a message. Veronica is thrilled when Hiram's attempt to start fresh means she gets to introduce him to her friends. Jughead starts his first day at Southside High and is befriended by a Southside Serpent named Toni. Kevin's attempt at having a little fun causes Betty to grow concerned for his safety. An unexpected turn of events leads the town to realize their darkest chapter may be far from over. Written by Ross Maxwell and directed by Kevin Sullivan

Riverdale has proven to be a very erratic show with its tone across its two seasons so far. Every story needs to be told in a very specific way in order for it to be effective. And so, it's a show prone to highs and lows. "Chapter Sixteen" is a high for the new season because it actually gives focus to two underserved characters in Kevin and Archie. It's so fascinating to see how the main group of friends don't really take Archie's idea for Riverdale's own teen militia seriously. They view it as just the latest thing he's obsessed with - like his brief fling with music. But the audience is very aware of how dark his story is getting. This hour barely has any time at all for Archie to bask in the knowledge that he was right about all the actions of Black Hood being connected. Instead, it shows him trying to take the fight to the streets. Yes, it's silly and ridiculous. But it feels genuine as well. Archie is still wholesome and caring while still being very easily manipulated. I don't know how dark the show plans to get with this story or what Hiram is up to with Archie. But it's all very entertaining in this episode. Meanwhile, things take a poignant turn with Kevin. Casey Cott made him an interesting character in Season 1 even though he was nothing more than the gay best friend and the son of the police chief. Here, he is allowed to have some complexity. He's risking his life for an experience where he can truly express who he is. He's right to criticize Betty for her optimistic and judgmental ways because she'll never truly understand his perception of the world. It's a divide between them that should carry consequences moving forward. Elsewhere, Jughead's story is still mostly in setup mode. Things seem a little too predictable with Toni being a threat to Jughead and Betty's relationship. That's on top of whatever is going to happen with Penny Peabody. And finally, things in the Lodge household are getting incredibly campy and melodramatic. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of Hermione this season. But the tension with her daughter is pretty entertaining as they vie for Hiram's love and attention. Veronica is just a little too blind in believing that her father is actually trying to be better now. B+

Arrow - "Next of Kin"
A rogue black ops team led by Onyx breaks into Kord Industries and steals something lethal. Oliver struggles to connect with William so he reaches out to a surprising source for help. Written by Speed Weed & Oscar Balderrama and directed by Kevin Tancharoen

The last episode of Arrow ended with Oliver deciding to take a step back from the team to be more involved in William's life. He asked Diggle to step in and replace him as the Green Arrow. It was a creative decision that felt more than a little ironic. First of all, it seemed very unlikely that it would be permanent. Oliver's domestic life has been a fascinating story this season. But it can't be all that he does either. He'll still need to find his way back to the team eventually - especially as the season-long villain comes into focus. And second, Diggle may not be all that effective as the Green Arrow because of his nerve damage. That's been a huge story this season so far. Plus, Oliver is making this sacrifice for his family even though Diggle has a wife and son as well. And now, "Next of Kin" shows that the show is genuinely trying to play this setup for awhile. That's perfectly fine as well. It just comes with the clarity that the creative team knows it won't stick for very long. That's confirmed in the very last scene with Diggle buying drugs on the street to cover up his nerve damage. The hour preceding it highlights the learning curve he has for being the leader of this team. It's easy for everyone else to run to Oliver to complain and wish he was back. It highlights how the role of Green Arrow comes with a case of brooding in the lair. The show recognizes that and is amused by it. But it's still primarily going to be a story about self-destruction. Diggle is the one protecting Star City now. In doing so though, it will more than likely cause him even more pain. It's mostly just setup here. But I'm intrigued to see just how far the show is going to push all of this in the next few episodes. Plus, there's the whole tease of the new FBI agent basically figuring out the Green Arrow's identity already. That could go somewhere if the show actually commits to it as well. B

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - "Josh is a Liar."
After encountering a major setback in her plan to get even with Josh, a panicked Rebecca starts a smear campaign to discredit Josh before he can turn everyone against her. Written by Michael Hitchcock and directed by Stuart McDonald

Rebecca confessing everything she has ever done for Josh Chan at the end of the last episode was such a huge moment. It had the potential to change everything for the show moving forward. And now, the show does carry through those consequence. Rebecca is an anxious mess trying to decide how to best handle this situation. It's a decision that completely isolates herself as well. She has this strong group of friends who are supportive of her and the decisions she makes. And yet, she recklessly chose to go to Josh to confront him. In doing so, it could cost her everything. That's her worry. She fears that everyone will be quick to turn on her and label her as crazy as soon as Josh comes back to town to tell everyone what she said. As such, it's very amusing that her anxiety forces her to scrap the lawsuit and get a story out there saying that Josh is the worst person imaginable who is lying about everything in his life. It's a story that basically everyone accepts right away as well. It's a dangerous plan that works for Rebecca. But Josh still has tangible evidence of her past. He still has the secret files that Trent gave him. He's too immature to actually take out its contents and use it effectively. Instead, he confides in Father Brah. That makes sense while ensuring that the reaction to all of this is incredibly sensible. He's not trying to distort this information and use it against Rebecca. He's just ensuring that the people in her life know about it. But that's Rebecca's greatest fears. She believes she's heading straight back to the insane asylum. As such, she's ready to jump on a private jet to Rome with Nathaniel. Now, Nathaniel's story of pining after Rebecca has been great this season. But their romance is still toxic because it's one of escaping from reality and refusing to cope with the true nature of what their lives are. But now, the show isn't letting Rebecca run away from her problems. Donna is there to confront her in the end. It's such an enticing final note to end on as well. It easily makes the audience want the next episode right away. B+

Jane the Virgin - "Chapter Sixty-Seven"
Jane and Adam's relationship seems to be moving at hyper-speed, and Jane thinks that it might be time for him to meet Mateo, but Rafael is not happy with this idea. As the arrival of baby De LaVega Factor approaches, Rogelio's jealousy of Darci's new boyfriend increases as well. Trying to be supportive, Xo encourages Rogelio to step up and be the father he was meant to be. Rafael is determined to get his hotel and life back and will do whatever he has to do to make it happen. Written by Carolina Rivera & Micah Schraft and directed by Fernando Sariñana

At first, it seems like the Narrator fast-forwarding through certain scenes in this episode is just a narrative trick for this hour - like the dueling narrators in the premiere. But it proves to be much more profound than that in the end. It forms a connection to the show's own past while highlighting how quickly it is moving with so many stories this season - especially Jane's romance with Adam. So many of these fast-forward moments revolve around Adam. He has been so cool about everything in Jane's life. He's willing to accept her rules about meeting Mateo and wanting to make a good first impression with Rafael. It's all very imperfect and that's what makes him an endearing new component of this family. He proves himself as someone willing to be in Jane and Mateo's lives. But that dance to "Let's Do the Time Warp Again" serves as a powerful reminder of the past. It's emotional for Jane because she sees how good Adam is with Mateo while remembering how perfect Michael was in the same role. That crying forces Mateo to remember Jane in the aftermath of Michael's death and wanting to make sure that Adam won't make her feel that same way. He doesn't understand the importance of that conversation. But it's seriousness is enough to make Adam start freaking out a little bit because of the high standards in this family. He hasn't been trying to replace Michael. But the comparison is just there. It's there for the audience. And now, it is there for Jane and Adam to deal with. Meanwhile, it's great that the show is really being forceful with douche Rafael this season. Jane rightfully calls him out for losing perspective on what's actually important in his life. But in the end, he still doubles down on his deceptions in the hopes of winning back the lifestyle he needs to view his life as stable. That's not healthy for him at all and he's bound for a crash sooner or later. And finally, the birth of Rogelio and Darci's baby is a really beautiful moment. It comes at a time where Rogelio once again feels like he's being pushed out. He understands and is respectful of the decisions Darci is making about the birth. But he wants to be a part of these moments as well because he missed out of so much with Jane. Xo pushes for him to be in the moment and he's rewarded for that. It's such a beautiful moment that once again highlights how this family continues to expand and come together when it's important. A-