Friday, November 24, 2017

REVIEW: The CW's 'Supergirl,' 'The Flash,' 'Legends of Tomorrow' and 'Arrow' (November 19-25)

Various reviews from The CW shows for November 19-25, 2017:

The CW's Supergirl - Episode 3.07 "Wake Up"
The CW's The Flash - Episode 4.07 "Therefore I Am"
The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 3.07 "Welcome to the Jungle"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 6.07 "Thanksgiving"

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 November 19-25, 2017. Enjoy!

Supergirl - "Wake Up"
When Winn and the team discover an alien ship has crash landed deep underwater beneath National City, Supergirl is called in to investigate. J'onn attempts to bond with his father, M'yrnn. Eager for some understanding of the changes she has been experiencing, Samantha looks to her mother for answers. Written by Gabriel Llanas & Anna Musky-Goldwyn and directed by Chad Lowe

Mon-El has had a looming presence over this season so far. A lot of Kara's identity struggle has been connected to losing him. It always felt inevitable that Mon-El would eventually make his way back to Earth because Chris Wood was still listed as a series regular. Honestly though, his presence hasn't really been missed this season. And so, his return had better bring a new energy to the show that simply wasn't a repeat of everything that happened in the second season. As such, "Wake Up" is a bit of a mixed bag. It's clear right away that the Mon-El that the team discovers in the secret pod is different from the man who left in the season finale. The narrative then explains that he's actually been gone for seven years and has spent that time living in the 31st century and has gotten married. Those are some very promising details. They find Mon-El at a different place in his life. Perhaps he'll be a more mature character this time around. And yet, it's still incredibly frustrating that his actions seem to be dictated by doing what's best for Kara without telling her anything about what's truly going on. That proves that Mon-El really hasn't changed at all. And so, it's weird for him to still be positioned as a good romantic option for Kara. Elsewhere, the Reign story this season has been very successful. The slow build aspect of it was perfect even though it seemed inevitable that it will all end in tragedy. The audience has gotten to know Samantha as a person instead of this famed world killer. And now, her alien nature is coming out and taking over. It's easy for the audience to assume that this struggle between the two halves of her personality will be a core part of this story. And that is really compelling right now. B

The Flash - "Therefore I Am"
Barry comes face to face with DeVoe. DeVoe's past is revealed through flashbacks. Iris puts the final touches on the wedding, which is a week away. Written by Eric Wallace & Thomas Pound and directed by David McWhirter

"Therefore I Am" is the most damning evidence so far that the creative team thought that the only problem with the third season was that it didn't have enough comedy. As such, they overly course-corrected in the first few episodes of this season to prove that this can still be a light-hearted superhero show. But the problems of this show extend far deeper than that. And now, those annoying tendencies are once again on display. The show has tried positioning Barry in a new light this season as someone who is no longer traumatized by his past. His trip into the Speed Force gave him closure and clarity with those events. But now, he's repeating the same mistake once more. He runs into a situation head first without consulting the team or caring about their opinions on the matter. He gets something into his head and doesn't want to hear any evidence to the contrary. The problem is that he is actually right. Clifford DeVoe is The Thinker. Barry has discovered the season-long big bad already. But everything just feels so false throughout this episode. The entire world is seemingly turning against Barry. The DeVoes are effectively using the system to condemn his actions. And then, everything is just magically solved in the end with the rest of the team suddenly believing Barry just because he says that DeVoe knows he's The Flash. It's just so false and manipulative. It once again just builds to Iris telling Barry that he has a team of the brightest minds that he should rely on in this mission. Elsewhere, the backstory on the DeVoes is helpful in making them seem less like the one-note villains they've been so far. It is a tragedy of their own making. But it doesn't really do a great job at explaining why they are targeting Barry now and what they want from all of this. The Thinker already believes he's won which doesn't exactly make him a charismatic or interesting villain. C

Legends of Tomorrow - "Welcome to the Jungle"
With Sara out of commission, the teams finds a new anachronism that leads them to the jungles of Vietnam and right in the middle of the war. Ray, Amaya and Zari pose as journalists and trek through the jungle when they are led to time-displaced Gorilla Grodd. Nate and Rory run into someone Rory knows which gives a glimpse into his past. Written by Ray Utarnachitt & Tyron B. Carter and directed by Mairzee Almas

It's always spectacular to see this franchise produce a computer generated gorilla named Grodd. In every episode he appears in though, it's a little too apparent what the tricks are that allow him to be produced in a sensible way. Of course, the shot where he is clinging to life on the Waverider because he wants to take control and rule over all of time is very impressive. But that action climax feels very rushed as well. The show also has human ciphers to explain what Grodd is actually doing in this corner of the world at this time. Again, it holds true to the character who wants to conquer humans for what they did to him. But this episode doesn't really provide any more nuance to Grodd than his previous appearances on The Flash. It's just fascinating to see this team of characters interact with him. Of course, there's still the hint of more importance to come in the future because Darhk has recruited him to his villainous cause. But that story still doesn't have a whole lot of dimension at the moment. The far more effective story of this hour is seeing Mick interact with his father in the jungles of Vietnam. Yes, it's important for the characters to realize how many of these anachronisms seem to include either younger versions of themselves or one of their relatives. That has to be signaling something. But it's also really compelling to see Mick come to understand his father in a new and more genuine way. He wasn't a monster before this war. But this war fundamentally changed him in a way that traumatized him forever. Yes, he was able to later on start a family but he couldn't be the father he dreams of here. Mick can only save him from making one horrible decision in a war that would ultimately cost him his humanity. That's tragic but really earned as well. B

Arrow - "Thanksgiving"
Oliver celebrates Thanksgiving with his family but the happy moment is interrupted. Black Siren returns to wreak havoc on the holiday. Written by Wendy Mericle & Speed Weed and directed by Gord Verheul

It's not surprising in the slightest that Oliver is back to being the Green Arrow the week before the big crossover event. That was the expected outcome the moment Oliver asked Diggle to replace him under the hood. It was always inevitable. And now, it has actually occurred. It happens in an episode that is overstuffed with plot. A lot of it really isn't successful at all. The anti-vigilantism bill passes after Cayden James stages an opportunity for the team to be recorded beating up a bunch of people dressed up as cops. This hour highlights how potentially troublesome vigilantism is. The optics are bad at this moment while the action highlights how the team is constantly surveilling everything in the city. Oliver is arrested for being the Green Arrow. But that's nothing more than a tease for a future story. Agent Watson may have a case. But there's just no dimension to her as a character. She's one-note despite the solid energy Sydelle Noel brings to the role. Meanwhile, it's significant that Oliver and Diggle are having an honest conversation about being the hero of the team. And yet, it's also wrapped up in the criticism of this twist the moment it occurred at the start of the season. It seemed very unlikely that they wouldn't talk about these issues before Oliver made the call in the first place. And so, it increasingly seems like something that happened solely to keep the plot intense over a couple of episodes. However, everything in this episode almost comes together because of another terrific and terrifying performance from Michael Emerson. Cayden James is a solid villain so far largely because of Emerson. He's just a really solid actor that this show was lucky enough to cast. He brings dimension to the role even though it feels like he's going to have a familiar tragic backstory of targeting the team because of something he blames them for regarding his son. That could still be very repetitive and boring. But Emerson still ignites a spark on the show despite the awkwardness elsewhere. B-