Friday, April 6, 2018

REVIEW: The CW's 'Legends of Tomorrow,' 'Black Lightning' and 'Jane the Virgin' (April 2-6)

Various The CW reviews for April 2-6, 2018:

Legends of Tomorrow - Episode 3.17 "Guest Starring John Noble"
Black Lightning - Episode 1.11 "Black Jesus: The Book of Crucifixion"
Jane the Virgin - Episode 4.15 "Chapter Seventy-Nine"

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 April 2-6, 2018. Enjoy!

Legends of Tomorrow - "Guest Starring John Noble"
Written by Keto Shimizu & James Eagan and directed by Ralph Hemecker

There are times in reviewing this show that I feel like all I do is talk repeatedly about how utterly crazy and ridiculous the twists are. That is certainly the barometer for success in any given episode. The show is judged by its crazy and audacious twists. That was the energy that gave the show a focus and drive that was entertaining to watch. It still tells a very serialized story across an entire season. The threat level is still high. This episode ends on the ominous note of Mallus being freed from his prison and emerging in his true form - a winged demon that towers over the world. But this episode is notable for two particularly crazy twists that occur. Both of them are fairly minor in the grand scheme of things. Mallus tries to disrupt time by sending Grodd to the 1970s to kill a young Barack Obama. It allows the show plenty of opportunities to incorporate political catchphrases into the conversation. It's very witty and extremely absurd. But it also pales in comparison to what comes next. John Noble has been voicing Mallus all season long. It has always been a mystery if he would play him in live action as well. It's a little disappointing that the big bad of the season will be completely CGI. That will certainly limit the amount of shots the show can actually feature him in during the season finale next week. But it's also so bizarre and insane that the show brings John Noble into the narrative playing the 1990s version of himself as he is shooting The Lord of the Rings. It's a cameo appearance because the legends note the vocal similarities to the demon they're facing and trick him into recording lines to lure Nora into a trap. It's so unbelievable to type out that summation of this story. But it's a twist the show pulls off well here that still generates genuine stakes in the narrative. Damien's betrayal of his daughter is real because he wants to hold onto that love and not lose it as soon as Mallus is unleashed. His eventual betrayal of the legends was also inevitable. But it ensures that the action is very intense building into that final act where everyone is fighting against each other just as Mallus rises in his true form to wreck chaos all over this world. That's a perfect way to end things heading into the final episode of the season. A-

Black Lightning - "Black Jesus: The Book of Crucifixion"
Written by Melora Rivera and directed by Michael Schultz

At times, this episode can feel like filler so that Jefferson and Anissa don't make too much progress in finding the missing kids that the ASA is keeping. There's even one out-of-place sequence where it's seen that the move leads to the death of one of the kids. That could be crucial but isn't that important here. Jefferson gets distracted because he is arrested by the police. He is arrested after green light is planted in his car and office. It's a way for the ASA to extract him in the hopes of confirming that he is Black Lightning. It's a way for them to eliminate this threat to their grand plans for the city. It's a story mostly told through the Vice Principal as she orders the operation but changes her mind after seeing Anissa and Gambi's Black Lightning hologram on the news. That proves that she still has some humanity left in her. She doesn't want to kill an innocent-seeming man who has done so much good in the community. In fact, it's inspiring to see just how beloved he is at school and on the news. There is an overwhelming appreciation for Jefferson and a completely bafflement at the idea of these charges being real. It's a very pointed subject because there is the genuine feel that even fake charges could ultimately cost Jefferson everything of importance in his life. His family fears that things will never be the same. They want him to be strong. But they also want him present in their lives. Anissa and Gambi hope that their publicity stunt is enough to call off the hit on Jefferson. But it isn't. Jefferson only survives because Henderson has the evidence to arrest his corrupt co-workers. He is promoted and it plays as the beginning of a new era for the police in Freeland. This hour overwhelmingly paints the police force as corrupt and biased. Those are the feelings Jefferson is feeling when he is treated as less than human at this station. Henderson can empathize with the mistreatment and actually do something about it even though he is still left in the dark about why Jefferson is so important that it risks national security. But there is still that layer of appreciation. Jefferson appreciates Henderson for his hard work and is willing to form a new relationship with Gambi moving forward. B+

Jane the Virgin - "Chapter Seventy-Nine"
Written by Paul Sciarrotta and directed by Gina Lamar

The last few episodes have been very emotional thanks to Xo's cancer arc. And now, she has her surgery in between episodes and is recovering at home. It's still a very intense story that could become emotional at a moment's notice. But this hour plays into a different set of emotions. It's about joy. That comes from Alba becoming a U.S. citizen. That has been an ongoing story for a couple of seasons now. It has gone in and out of focus. But it has always been a consistent part of her character and her goals. And now, it's such a celebration when she gets every question right on the test. This is such an expansive and expressing episode for Alba too. It was silly that she wanted to keep the test a secret from Xo. That was bound to come out eventually. Then, Jorge rejects her after she makes her feelings for him known again. But it was so empowering to see Xo stand up and fight for her mother even though she's terrified of how people now perceive her knowing that she is sick. That's so emotional and yet so rewarding. Alba is welcomed into this country with all that she aspires it to be instead of what she fears it is becoming. That's so amazing. Meanwhile, love is another key focus of this hour. Jane and Rafael exchange "I love you's" for the first time. It also happens to coincide with the anniversary of Michael's death. Jane forgot about it for the first time because of her love for Rafael. Meanwhile, Rafael still feels very self-conscious about always being in second place in her heart. These are feelings they needed to address in an honest and mature way. The show gives that to them here. It also forces Jane to openly admit that she loves Petra as well. She is obsessed with being liked by J.R. because she knows how much Petra loves her. As such, Jane comes across as very pushy and demanding. That's always been a part of her personality and she pushes to form a connection out of love. It doesn't happen naturally. But it is surprising to see how one conversation in an elevator is enough for J.R. to see both Jane and Petra differently. It's enough to get Petra to admit how serious she wants this relationship to be. It's then further complicated by her mother returning and testifying against her in her murder case. Finally, it's absolutely wrong of Rogelio to play the cancer card in order to get Darci to cope with the news he can no longer be Baby's nanny. That's coupled with the reveal that she has known about his new show with River Fields for awhile. It shows how both of them thrive by getting under each other's skin. And yet, they too need an honest sit-down where they admit that they respect the other and what they are doing as parents. It's very nice and quite moving to watch too. B+