Friday, November 3, 2017

REVIEW: The CW's 'The Flash,' 'Legends of Tomorrow,' 'Riverdale,' 'Arrow,' 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' and 'Jane the Virgin' (Oct. 29-Nov. 4)

Various reviews from The CW shows for October 29-November 4, 2017:

The CW's The Flash - Episode 4.04 "Elongated Journey Into Night"
The CW's Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 3.04 "Phone Home"
The CW's Riverdale - Episode 2.04 "Chapter Seventeen: The Town That Dreaded Sundown"
The CW's Arrow - Episode 6.04 "Reversal"
The CW's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Episode 3.04 "Josh's Ex-Girlfriend is Crazy"
The CW's Jane the Virgin - Episode 4.04 "Chapter Sixty-Eight"

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 29-November 4, 2017. Enjoy!

The Flash - "Elongated Journey Into Night"
Cisco is shocked when Gypsy's father, Breacher, shows up on Earth-1. Breacher takes an immediate disliking to Cisco and decides to hunt him. Barry runs into his old nemesis, Ralph Dibny. Written by Sterling Gates & Thomas Pound and directed by Tom Cavanagh

This hour introduces a fascinating concept for the team this season. They have a mission to track down the newly created metahumans from the bus. They play a role in whatever The Thinker has planned this year. But do they treat these people with newly acquired abilities as villains? Jerk Barry makes a return in this hour because he wants to label them as such. He has a strong case for his argument as well with the return of his former enemy at the police precinct, Ralph Dibny. Barry got Ralph kicked off the force for tampering with evidence. And now, he's a private investigator who hits on his female clients and blackmails the mayor. But it's a fascinating story because it reveals that even though Ralph is a jerk he does have a genuine heart. So much of this episode is him reacting to the discovery of his powers. Those powers can't be easy for the special effects budget on this show. And yet, they are so much fun to watch. It's great to see Iris' reaction upon seeing his legs as well as Joe's once his face is flown off because of a sneeze. Sure, his face is back together before Caitlin gives him the medical antidote. But overall, this is just a fun story. Barry revealing himself as The Flash to earn Ralph's trust in the field is a great moment as well. The two of them need to work together. Ralph presents himself as a potential new ally for the team. The team has been shrinking as of late with the losses of Julian and Wally. Ralph could easily fill that void but not ultimately last much longer. But his personality seems different than anything the show has tried before. So that could be promising. Meanwhile, there isn't a whole lot of depth to the subplot with Cisco meeting Gypsy's father. It's amusing only because Danny Trejo is playing the role. But he's nothing more than a badass archetype who is intimidating. His grand purpose is simply adding one more complication in the climatic moment. But it also feels very forced. B+

Legends of Tomorrow - "Phone Home"
The Legends learn that Ray Palmer will die because they broke time, causing them to race back to 1988 to try and save his life. When they arrive, they are surprised to learn that young Ray has befriended a time-displaced baby Dominator putting him in harm's way with the government and the Dominator's mother. New to the ship and missions, Zari must find her place and learn to trust the team. Stein begins working on a secret project on the ship which makes Rory and Jax suspicious. Written by Matthew Maala and directed by Kevin Mock

The show is very blatant with this episode being an overt homage to Steven Spielberg's E.T. It's a shot-for-shot remake in some instances. But the show also finds a nice spin on the familiarity as well. All of those references are there for the audience to see and understand. The fact that Nate comments on that in the end is a little unnecessary. But it also doesn't take away from the appeal and strength of this story. Plus, the show is able to put a unique spin on all of it as well. Ray believes he has always been this optimistic guy who can handle anything with positivity. He's forced to realize that his neighborhood friends are actually his bullies and his mother didn't ultimately care for all of his inventions. It means young Ray is susceptible to befriending an alien. It's great that the Dominators continue to be a part of this extended universe and weren't just an introduction for last year's crossover event. It establishes the seriousness of this story right away. Even a baby Dominator can be very powerful with its telepathy. There are so many threats coming at the team that it runs the risk of being a jumbled mess of a story. The Time Bureau is still hunting the Legends even though they don't actually appear here. The government of the 1980s wants to experiment on the Dominator and kill Ray for knowing too much. The Dominator's mother arrives in the time period to retrieve her baby. It's a lot to handle. Meanwhile, three members of the team are just off in their own side adventure whose sole purpose is to set up Victor Garber's pending exit. But this is still a powerful hour because of the focus on Ray and Zari. It makes me suspect that the show is setting them up as a potential romantic coupling. They bicker in the beginning. But this mission forces them to bond and learn to trust one another. It's a fun story that still hits in that emotional spot. It's so amusing when the Dominator forces the government agents to perform Singin' in the Rain. It's thrilling to see that infamous flying bicycle shot. And it's moving when the baby Dominator is reunited with its mother at the urging of the group. Overall, this is a very strong episode that represents what the show can do at its best. A

Riverdale - "Chapter Seventeen: The Town That Dreaded Sundown"
When Archie's attempt to take matters into his own hands spirals out of control, Mayor McCoy calls an emergency town hall meeting to deal with the growing chaos in Riverdale. When Betty finds herself at the center of a deepening mystery, her decision to keep some parts of it from Jughead causes further friction between the two. Veronica grows concerned for Archie when she realizes the lengths he would go to seek revenge against the person terrorizing Riverdale. Tensions between the North and Southside finally come to a head and leads to an unexpected showdown. Written by Amanda Lasher and directed by Allison Anders

Riverdale is going all in on Archie being a central character this season. That's a risk that could have been a massive flop after how lackluster he was last season. But now, he has a consistent story where he is pushing the narrative even more into the darkness. Plus, his actions are starting to have consequences. His friends and family have to be realizing that he's doing some pretty severe and major things in trying to stop the Black Hood. They can't just brush it off as Archie earnestly (but foolishly) believing that he's a central part of their lives together. But he actually is now. He's barreling towards a severe confrontation that could ultimately get him killed. And yet, it's all wrapped up in a story that builds and builds until it explodes in a fistfight with a bunch of Southside Serpents in the pouring rain. It's absolutely ridiculous. But it does so much to highlight the damage and instability going on in Archie's life right now. Veronica wants to be supportive but she also has to reign him in as well to make sure he doesn't lose himself because of the Black Hood or her father. But she's still learning how to play the game as well. Meanwhile, it's absolutely twisted that Betty learns that the Black Hood is doing all of this because of her speech at the end of last season. She wants to keep that information private for as long as possible because her mother is fanning the flames of this conflict between the north and south sides of Riverdale. The schism is growing wider and wider. It seems incredible that anyone could ever believe this town was peaceful and wholesome. This story just further exposes the darkness and how the only people capable of exposing the truth are a bunch of high schoolers who have their own personal stories to figure out as well. A-

Arrow - "Reversal"
Just as Oliver starts to get things in order, Black Siren launches another attack on the citizens of Star City. Written by Sarah Tarkoff & Emilio Ortega Aldrich and directed by Gregory Smith

"Reversal" sets aside a number of ongoing concerns for the season that the first three episodes established. There's no mention of Diggle's injury and the drugs he's buying to make it seem like he's better. There's no mention of the FBI investigation into Oliver Queen. William isn't seen at all though does get mentioned a couple of times. Instead, it's just an amusing episode that highlights how Oliver and Felicity have swapped roles. Felicity is now the one on a vigilante team trying to protect the city while Oliver is on the sidelines frequently being left behind. The show gets so much power out of the characters being aware of this reversal and having a sense of humor about it despite the feelings of grief and regret at the heart of this story. This episode brings back a couple of characters. Black Siren returns with more details about her new allies. Meanwhile, Helix makes its return as well. And that brings with it the introduction of Michael Emerson as Cayden James. That is just phenomenal casting. Emerson was a part of two of my favorite dramas of the last decade in Lost and Person of Interest. So, this casting is very appealing to me. He does a phenomenal job in making Cayden James threatening and intimidating while also calmly calculating and practical. He knows everything that is about to happen and is perfectly confident in letting others do all of the hard work for him. That makes him a new kind of villain for this show who could be very compelling to watch. This episode may just be setup in that regard. But it's a strong introduction for the character while still having personal significance for Oliver and Felicity. Felicity needs to accept that her past actions can't define her. What she does next to stop Cayden James will. B

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - "Josh's Ex-Girlfriend is Crazy."
Rebecca takes her quest for revenge to the next level as her friends unite to try and help her. Written by Rachel Bloom & Aline Brosh McKenna and directed by Joseph Kahn

This season has fulfilled the promise of the main premise of the show. Rebecca is the stereotypical crazy ex-girlfriend of Josh's. She wants to destroy him for leaving her at the alter. And now, this episode pushes that concept to the extreme as it forces Rebecca to destroy every relationship she has built over the course of the show. It's remarkable just how far the show pushes this story. That first scene in the apartment is difficult to watch. It shows just how vulnerable Rebecca is right now in trying to avoid this confrontation with her friends. They just want to help her and she's deflecting by destroying their friendships. It's tough and shows Rebecca hitting a new low point in her life. She's so desperate not to be seen as crazy. And now, she truly believes her friends see her in that way because they know about her past with Robert and the hospitalization. They just want to help her. But instead, she's off having her own kind of mental break in trying to psychologically torture Josh. She's taken inspiration from revenge thrillers for this entire season so far. But now, she takes it to the extreme in actually making herself an unsettling presence in Josh's life. It's the show playing around with how Rebecca sees this as the movie version of her life. She's perfectly fine being the villain in this story. It's her story and Josh is the man who must pay for all of the oppression she has faced throughout her entire life. Yes, the show comments on how absurd and misplaced all of this truly is. She's mad at Josh when she's actually mad at the world and the lack of normalcy she's had in it. But instead, she just wants to be on this path of destruction. Like Heather says, she can't get help until she wants it. And now, she just wants to torture Josh. And yes, that is a lot of fun. The show takes great pleasure out of the premise of this hour. But it highlights the heartbreak all of the main characters are experiencing as well. Rebecca is destroying everything. She breaks everything to the point where she wonders where her story could possibly go next since this is the end of the movie she has always imagined. It leads her straight back to her mother. But it also leaves the lives of everyone she has met in West Covina up in the air as well. They are struggling with understanding if any of this was actually genuine or just a part of the ploy to stalk Josh and controll his life. Also, Josh Groban! A

Jane the Virgin - "Chapter Sixty-Eight"
When Jane learns that Rafael introduced Mateo to his new girlfriend, Katherine, without her consent she gets angry since she thinks Katherine has a negative influence on both Rafael and Mateo. Jane turns to Petra for help with the situation with Rafael, but Petra makes Jane an offer she can't refuse. Rogelio and Darci struggle to choose a name for the baby they both agree on. Xo is focused on growing the dance studio and decides to go into business with an unlikely foe. Written by Deirdre Shaw & Chantelle M. Wells and directed by Gina Lamar

This season has really pushed Rafael into an unlikable headspace. After Michael died, it could have been easy to want to pair Jane and Rafael up romantically. Instead, the show made them best friends which was such a fun dynamic. This season has put some severe tension in their relationship because Rafael lost his money and had to move in with Jane. It's been such a tragic downfall for him that has revealed he still hasn't matured over the years. He's still the guy who reacts horribly once his livelihood is threatened. He doesn't want to hear anything from Jane about how shady this new business deal and relationship with Katherine is. He's just solely focused on the money and believing that it's what's needed in order to support his family. That's not true at all. When he finally does realize that, he's swiftly punished for it. So again, this is a rough season for Rafael. But the show manages to be uplifting and delightful in other ways. It's great to see Jane and Petra get into that fight in the kids play area. It's a story that has happened before but it's still very effective. Plus, it's great that the show takes the time to slow things down with Jane and Adam to make sure that this is something that is good for both of them despite their understandable fears. She doesn't want to be heartbroken again. Nor does she want someone who will only tolerate Mateo. Adam believes he's ready for this commitment. Only time will tell though. Meanwhile, it was a great mystery as to what Rogelio and Darci would name their new daughter. It's a fun story that they keep changing it to the amusement of the rest of the family. And then, it ends with a beautiful sentiment because it's a name that has personal significance for the family and the audience. Naming the girl Baby is in keeping with how ridiculous Rogelio stories can be. But having Michaelina as the middle name is a very moving way to honor the people who have meant something to Rogelio and the rest of this family. B+