Friday, March 9, 2018

REVIEW: The CW's 'Legends of Tomorrow,' 'iZombie,' 'Black Lightning' and 'Jane the Virgin' (March 5-9)

Various The CW reviews for March 5-9, 2018:

Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 3.13 "No Country for Old Dads"
iZombie - Episode 4.02 "Blue Bloody"
Black Lightning - Episode 1.07 "Equinox: The Book of Fate"
Jane the Virgin - Episode 4.12 "Chapter Seventy-Six"

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 March 5-9, 2018. Enjoy!

Legends of Tomorrow - "No Country for Old Dads"
Written by Keto Shimizu & Jamese Eagan and directed by Viet Nguyen

It was just last week when I was questioning whether or not this show had outlived the usefulness of Damien Darhk as a season-long villain. It didn't seem like there was anything new with the character or the performance - despite how much fun Neal McDonough was clearly having. And now, it seems like the show was feeling that as well and produces an episode all about Damien's relationship with his daughter, Nora. It's a story that is at times funny because of the anxiety Damien is venting to people he is forcing to listen. It's a story that is sweet and moving to see just how far the two will go to show their love and support for the other. And yet, it's also a story that has to remind the audience that these two are still fundamentally the villains. Of course, there's also the suggestion that Ray may be able to change Nora's heart back to the side of good. He is forming a connection with her. The chemistry is easy and natural thanks to Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford being married in real-life. But it's also just fun seeing Ray offer his perspective on this twisted relationship and how it's all wrapped up in the need to conquer the world. Ray hopes to get through to Nora so that she can turn on Mallus. And yet, the episode closes showing just how strong a hold the demon has on her. He may actually be using her body to break through into this world. That's a terrifying sight that makes all of this seem like tragedy waiting to befall Nora should her and her father's plans actually succeed. This episode makes the audience care about that relationship and what will eventually happen to Nora. That focus means the Legends are largely sidelined for the week. That's good for Sara and Ava to just enjoy the glow of their new relationship for a light bit. And yet, the suggestion that there's something bad and mysterious in Ava's past is already annoying. Meanwhile, Wally West officially joins the team. There's still the hope that this show will give him purpose and a personality better than The Flash did. But here, he mostly exists to offer a bad first impression with the rest of the team. It's a little forced even though he's still a hero at the end of the day - rescuing both Ray and the fire totem. B+

iZombie - "Blue Bloody"
Written by Dean Lorey and directed by Michael Fields

Certain episodes of the show need to over-rely on the brain-of-the-week in order to find a consistent sense of enjoyment and fun. The various brains have always affected Liv in different ways. They are always overwhelming to her personality. But some completely dominate her while others still allow Liv to shine through. This week is a classic example of everyone having to suffer through the brain that Liv is currently on. It's a pretty blunt and horrifying brain too. She takes on the personality of an elitist grandmother who is also pretty racist. The personality alone gives several people motive to kill her. It also seems like Liv is always one wrong comment away from being hit herself. And yet, the show still finds a way to use this brain to the overarching narrative's advantage. It allows for some fantastic reaction shots from Clive. That has always been a solid source of amusement over the run of the show. This episode has plenty of those too - with the scene where Clive approaches Ravi to talk about his sex drive being one of the best scenes the show has ever produced. But more importantly, the mystery of this women's death is wrapped up long before the conclusion of the hour. It seems pretty obvious that the kitchen worker with the sick son committed the crime. But then, the show uses this case to springboard into the idea that there is now human smuggling in and out of Seattle. The wall was built to keep the zombie population contained. Humans are trapped inside as well. New Seattle is on the constant verge of turning against itself and becoming completely chaotic. Fillmore Graves is trying to prevent that. They've blocked off the city into sections. Of course, the coordination of that effort with the police isn't really mentioned at all. That's strange. But it's all in service to this story where Liv suddenly gets an overwhelming sense of empathy and needs to help this son reunite with his father to get the treatment he desperately needs. It brings Liv and Ravi to a whole new world that will more than likely become a huge component of the season. It also leads to a huge debate between Liv and Major. This episode establishes early on that the two are having sex again. They are simply friends with benefits. Each of them are zombies and believe they are doing good in the world. And yet, they have a differing set of opinions over the morals involved. As such, it's devastating to see them at odds. And yet, it also presents itself as wonderful story opportunity for the future. B

Black Lightning - "Equinox: The Book of Fate"
Written by Lamont Magee and directed by Billy Woodruff

This is the episode in which Jefferson and Lynn have to come to terms with Anissa having superpowers and wanting to be a vigilante just like Black Lightning. It's also the episode in which a bunch of crazy stuff happens that shows just how outrageous this season plans on getting. All of the grounded elements aren't lost in this specific episode despite the ridiculous reveals. But there's also the potential that they might in the future. As long as the focus remains on the family and their desire to help the community, this will be a phenomenal show. If it becomes overly reliant on shocking twists and escalating metahuman powers and tension, then it could really spiral out of control. Here, it's moving to see Jefferson and Anissa talking openly during a time when their actions are getting other people killed. It's important for Lynn to remind her daughter that she should be having a life beyond being a superhero as well - despite how much pressure that puts on a relationship. But it's also so climatic seeing that battle between Black Lightning and Tobias Whale. Jefferson has finally tracked his enemy down and surprises him with an ambush. It's a strike that leaves Tobias shaken because it leads to the death of his sister. Over the last few episodes, it's been clear that he needs her by his side to keep a level head on what's best to do in any particular situation. She's the one who comes up with the brilliant idea to kill Lady Eve while turning the city against Black Lightning. The way the show intercuts those two action sequences is very entertaining. The stakes are high because the audience can sense that this is a turning point for the overall season. The aftermath leaves Tobias' sister and Lady Eve dead. Black Lightning is responsible for one and not the other. But the media is blaming him for Lady Eve's death because of the way she died. That has the potential to completely change everything just as Jefferson hopes to teach his daughter the proper way to do this job. And yet, death may not be that finite either. The episode closes with a tease of Lala and LaWanda being resurrected. It doesn't make any sense at all. In fact, it appears that LaWanda now has powers. It's so cryptic and mysterious. And yet, it's still effective because the show was able to establish that connection between the audience and those characters in the early episodes. As such, their returns mean something - and perhaps tease that the characters who die here may not be gone for very long. B+

Jane the Virgin - "Chapter Seventy-Six"
Written by Leah Longoria and directed by Melanie Mayron

This is a strong and confident episode focusing on the relationship between artist and critic. It's a subject that I know a lot about. But the show also makes it relatable to everyone because there is always the inner critic who can dominate anyone's thoughts at a given moment. It's nice to see it framed here through Jane and Rogelio's relationship. Jane sees a bad review as someone rejecting her career and ruining her book sales. Rogelio sees bad reviews as the motivational tools he needs to get better. But it's important for this story to reflect on how the relationship between art and criticism is fluid. It's all meant to be constructive - so long as the artist fundamentally cares about what someone else has to say about their work. It takes awhile for Jane to get out of her own head. But it's also a profoundly relatable story about how that inner voice can sometimes be crippling to the creative process. Rogelio too needs to be aware of how his actions are coming across in his marriage to Xo. Right now, she feels suffocated by him because he is trying to uniformly support every single action that she does. That's not helping her in the slightest. It's all about finding the perfect balance. And it's also just important for both to be aware that there is still a learning curve to this as newlyweds. That hopeless romanticism is then thrown a curve ball with the closing reveal that Xo has a lump on her breast. That's ominous and emotional. The show will need to provide answers on just how worried the family and the audience should be about her very quickly. Elsewhere, Petra and Rafael are in tangential stories. Petra's is very successful because of the moment where she and J.R. give in to their feelings for one another. First, it seems like teasing because J.R. needs to craft a convincing story to her blackmailer. But then, the two actually do connect in that way and it's so fantastic and sexy to see. Again, their chemistry is so electric. Meanwhile, Rafael's plot to find his biological mother just doesn't have a whole lot of energy to it right now. It's mostly just sad and depressing. The emotions of the story do feel real and genuine. But it also gets in the way of Jane voicing her concerns about moving too fast with this relationship especially in regards to being disrespectful to Michael. That conversation felt like it should have been a more prominent part of the story instead of just one scene that kinda comes out of nowhere. B+