Saturday, February 17, 2018

REVIEW: The CW's 'Legends of Tomorrow,' 'Black Lightning' and 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' (February 12-16)

Various The CW reviews for February 12-16, 2018:

Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 3.10 "Daddy Darhkest"
Black Lightning - Episode 1.05 "And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light"
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Episode 3.13 "Nathaniel is Irrelevant."

In 2018, 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, I'll just be writing some paragraph reviews of the various shows that aired new episodes on The CW from February 12-16, 2018. Enjoy!

Legends of Tomorrow - "Daddy Darhkest"
After Sara's encounter with Mallus, the Legends are paid a visit by John Constantine, a demonologist detective. The Legends agree to accompany him to a present-day psychiatric hospital and they are surprised to discover who Constantine is trying to help. During the exorcism, Sara, Leo and Constantine go missing, leaving Ray and Zari to try to take care of Constantine's client. Amaya and Nate once again come face to face with Kuasa. Written by Keto Shimizu & Matthew Maala and directed by Dermott Downs

Legends of Tomorrow returns on a new day and time with an episode featuring the return of John Constantine. This hour once again proves that Constantine belongs in the Arrowverse much more than he did in his own standalone series on NBC. Of course, he may just be a delight to watch as a guest presence on these shows. It may just naturally be harder for him to topline his own series in live action. But it's still great to see him occasionally pop up in this world. He comes in already with a unique relationship with Sara Lance. He brought her back from the dead. And now, their fates are intertwined once more because he's trying to exorcize Mallus out of a young girl. That event sends him to the Legends. It also proves just how natural all of this feels. It could be a stunt to bring Constantine in for a week so that the show can play around with the horror genre as it pertains to exorcisms. It gets in a number of really creepy and effective shots throughout this episode too. But it's also a natural extension of the narrative this season as the Legends are battling a mysterious demon. Yes, it doesn't seem like much progress is made in this regard by the end of this episode. Constantine warns Ray that Sara will one day be controlled by Mallus. She won't be strong enough to defeat him like she is here. That's an ominous tease. Plus, it comes after Ray and Zari are incapable of saving Nori from returning to her father, Damian Darhk, and the sinister path she is destined to be on. It's so tragic to watch. The entire story of the season could come crashing down if Ray and Zari found a way to be compassionate and protective of Nori here. But that connection with her father is still present and keeps her on her current path. Plus, there's still hope that the cryptic villainous plan of the season may be thwarted by Amaya continuing to reach out to Kuasa and promise to protect her despite what she's currently doing against the Legends. That's a promising development too. And then, it's just great to see the show put its gay and bisexual characters at the forefront of this episode. Sara and Constantine are both bisexual and have intimate moments with both men and women here. That's delightful. Plus, Leo returning to his Earth may seem sudden and jarring but it's fitting and emotional too. B+

Black Lightning - "And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light"
An unexpected phone call unearths the long-buried need for Jefferson to investigate the murder of his father. Anissa wrestles with the fact that her actions have dire consequences. Jennifer learns the importance of controlling her temper - in all situations. Written by Adam Giaudrone and directed by Rose Troche

The pace of this show has been very deliberate and fascinating. It's not rushing through story to get to the most exciting, action-filled moments as quickly as possible. It still delivers those moments to satisfy that corner of the audience. But it's more thoughtful and meditative about how the community and family history have shaped these characters into who they are now. That exploration of the past continues here with the show finally clarifying some things about the past relationships. But it's also an overstuffed episode that throws a lot at the audience that may possibly make better sense upon knowing the full context. That Gambi-Tobias scene is especially confusing and continues to make Gambi seem like a shady character despite his interactions with Jefferson. Of course, it's also apparent that the show is keeping Jefferson from making too much progress in his investigation of crime in Freeland by making him experience these debilitating side effects from overusing his powers. Figuring out what's exactly going on there will help pad out the main story a little longer. Plus, it gives time for Anissa and Tobias to explore other crucial elements of this world. This hour showcases that violence is what Tobias has always known. He was raised by an abusive single father. As such, he grew up to be a man who hurt others in order to obtain power. The show is very wise not to find too much sympathy for its main villain while still adding complexity to his backstory. Meanwhile, Anissa is looking into the case that apparently got her grandfather killed. That death led to Jefferson's epic feud with Tobias. And now, Anissa is launching her own independent investigation that is bound to get her into even more trouble in the future. Yes, her montage of pulling a superhero costume together is a lot of fun. But she's still so surprised by just how strong she actually is. Those consequences are going to be hitting her hard in the future. B-

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - "Nathaniel is Irrelevant."
When Rebecca decides to make amends for her past, she finds some unexpected challenges. At the same time, West Covina awaits an important new arrival. Written by Aline Brosh McKenna & Michael Hitchcock and directed by Aline Brosh McKenna

This season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend started out as one thing and then morphed into something completely different and more profoundly while still being thematically linked. It was the show fulfilling the promise that comes from the title. Rebecca was the stereotypical "crazy ex-girlfriend" stalking Josh and wishing him harm for a couple of episodes. Then, it went even darker to explore the "crazy" verb used to describe Rebecca Bunch. She became suicidal and then was officially diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Having that diagnosis has been freeing for her. She now has an explanation for all of her actions. But it has also made her more aware of her shortcomings and her patterns of destruction. Having that awareness doesn't mean she's better at avoiding those mistakes. That's what the second half of the season was about. It was a season that put Rebecca's needs and concerns above everyone else's. As the season went along, it became clear that Josh was no longer relevant or interesting. He's mostly still around because the creative team enjoys working with the actor. But the show is also aware that the focus has moved on from Josh. It switched up the titles to reflect that. But it also quickly found Rebecca becoming obsessed with Nathaniel. As such, he replaced Josh in the titles. And yet, his relationship with Rebecca wasn't any healthier than Josh's was. He is blindly in love with Rebecca while completely writing off whatever mistakes she makes because he's a monster as well. Everything he does to Mona is so horrible. It's all in reaction to whatever Rebecca does too. He doesn't suggest moving in until Rebecca cuts off their sexual relationship. He doesn't care about her until Rebecca mentions that she almost ordered a hit on her. And then, he breaks up with her because Rebecca needs a lawyer after pushing Trent off a balcony. That's such a startling moment that happens two thirds through this finale. It's an event that does seem a little rushed and scattered. This finale suffers from simply having to cover too much plot too quickly with some massive tonal shifts. Everything is high stakes with Trent's murderous return and Rebecca trying to be honest about her destructive behavior. And then, everything is surprisingly low-key with Heather giving birth to Darryl's baby - which may also lead to a reunion between Darryl and White Josh. The latter produced a wonderful song for Paula as she details the beauty and horror of giving birth. This is overall a strong episode for Paula - especially in that moment on her bed as she replays Rebecca's voicemail knowing that she is done with her for good. And then, all of the tragedy with Trent happens. Nathaniel is the one there to help Rebecca - even though it seems unethical for Nathaniel to be representing her considering he's a witness to the central crime. But Nathaniel's presence only confirms the toxicity of this relationship. He's just offering excuses for horrible behavior. Their romance may be very passionate and exciting but it also highlights some truly destructive things as well. Rebecca would be willing to go along with all of that as well because she knows how to get away with her bad behavior. Paula is the one who forces her to try to be better. That's why that relationship is the most important in the show. That's why it's important for Rebecca to be making that speech to Paula in the end. There's no clarity on if Rebecca will be able to keep this promise or if she'll spend next season in jail. But it's a very exciting ending nevertheless. B+