The Best and Worst of DCTV This Season

Since we’re about halfway through the current seasons of the DCTV shows, it seems a good time to reflect on the best and worst each show has had to offer this year. Well, the second worst, at least. The worst that any of the shows has had to offer this season is Nazis. Nazis are always the absolute worst anything could ever offer.

Arrow

The Best: A Family Affair

I won’t pretend that I’m entirely thrilled with the way it all went down. However, I am glad that the show has decided to finally stop dragging out the off-and-on drama and allowed Olicity to move forward. Maybe I’m just getting too old for the typical drama, but I find “will they/won’t they” relationships on television to be generally fairly tedious. Particularly when it’s readily apparent that ultimately they will.

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So I am glad that they’re moving forward with Olicity and allowing these two to be happy together. At least for a while. After all, with Arrow’s track record, I can’t fool myself that they’ll resist the siren’s song of melodramatic relationship angst indefinitely.

Also, I had some reservations about how they would handle the storyline with William. While that storyline hasn’t been entirely unpredictable, I am glad to see that story explored. William brings out an entirely different side to Oliver – one we haven’t seen before. We’ve seen him lie to protect his family as an overprotective big brother and a loving son. We’ve seen him sacrifice himself to save the city.

But being a father brings out another side of him – and affords the opportunity for him to grow in an entirely new way. Oliver will always be the hero willing to do what’s necessary to save the city. But he can no longer pretend his decisions impact him alone. He can’t think just of himself – or even of himself and Felicity. If Oliver is killed in the line of vigilantism, William will have lost both his mother and father in a very short time. Having lost both of his parents, Oliver knows that grief better than anyone.

Arrow has always had a theme of family, but the father/son plot this season has added depth that has only been a benefit to the series.

The Worst: Retreading Old Ground

Unfortunately, while Arrow has taken a step forward in Oliver’s personal life, other aspects of the show continue to rehash some of the same ground. On The Flash, Barry Allen is constantly surprised by villains masquerading as friends. On Arrow, Oliver knows full well the nature of those around him but decides to trust them anyway. Or at least he’s willing to make deals with the devil for his own purposes.

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I find it hard to believe that Oliver would ever willingly agree to help the man who murdered his mother right in front of him. Regardless of circumstance. However, this isn’t the first time he chose to work with someone he knew (and literally everybody else on the planet told him) he couldn’t trust. It won’t be the last. I’m all for Oliver being a hero, but there’s a point at which even heroes should cut their losses. Faced with the decision of helping the man who murdered his mother might be a pretty good time to start.

I confess that I also rolled my eyes a little when the team disbanded – once again – during the mid-season finale. Maybe it’s just my perception, but it feels like they do this a lot. Look, a superhero team is a lot like a marriage. If you can’t get make it even one year without breaking up, maybe you weren’t meant to be together in the first place. The team takes more time outs than most siblings I know. Maybe it’s time for them to resolve to stay together through drama, rather than constantly break apart.

Legends of Tomorrow

The Best: They’re Bringing Sexy Fun Back

Legends of Tomorrow has consistently been the most fun series of the four. At the very least (and to its credit), it’s refused to take itself terribly seriously. It also has the best overall team dynamics of all four shows.

Only a show that embraced the sheer insanity of its comic book roots would be brave enough play homage to both Singing in the Rain and E.T. in the same episode. And only Legends of Tomorrow could make such an episode so unapologetically off the wall. The show knows what it is and embraces the wackiness that comes with it. After the darkness and angst of the other DCTV shows, Legends often comes off as the breath of fresh air that the integrated universe sorely needs.

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Plus, how could anyone help but love Sara, Ray, Mick, or the rest of the crew?

The Worst: It’s All Fun and Games Until Somebody Dies

Which brings me to the worst part of the season to date: the death of Martin Stein. His death was tragic, and of course the actor did a fantastic job. Victor Garbor is a phenomenal actor who brought gravitas to what is often a very silly series. He was always going to nail the emotion his departure would inevitably bring.

But outside of the death itself, the circumstances surrounding his death were difficult to take. Stein, a Jewish man, was murdered quite gruesomely by Nazis. Not even Legends can lighten that moment – nor should it. I’m not saying that the show shouldn’t have its share of serious moments. I’m also not saying it shouldn’t have its moments of darkness. Every superhero show needs stakes to keep the audience invested. But to murder that character in that way?

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Also, perhaps it’s my fondness for Victor Garber and Martin Stein speaking. But just this once, couldn’t a superhero have retired from adventure to his happily ever after? The show had already established a way for him to separate from Jax so that he could return to his wife, daughter, and grandson. He had earned that ending, and the audience deserved to see him get it. Killing him off was just unnecessary, and I will always lament that he and Clarissa were denied the opportunity to spend the rest of their lives together.

Supergirl

The Best: There Were Never Such Devoted Sisters

My favorite part of Supergirl has probably always been the relationship between Kara and Alex. The actresses have tremendous chemistry and play off each other well. Every superhero show will occasionally delve into the fantastic. Even at its most outlandish, however, the connection between Alex and Kara is what grounds Supergirl. It is in the relationship between the sisters that emotionally ties the audience to even the most comic book-y of conflicts. We may not be able to relate to Kara being trapped in a fantasy of a world that is long since gone. But we cannot help but grieve when we see Alex face the possibility of losing the sister she so loves.

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I think many fans felt that the series lost its way with this relationship last year. But it seems to have found its path once more. Watching Kara and Alex lean on each other and be there for one another has been one of my favorite parts of the season. They have made me smile and made me cry. More than that, they have reminded me why I fell in love with them in the first place. At times, they have even made me wish that I had a sister of my own.

The Worst: “For Never Was There a Story of More Woe…”

I have enjoyed watching Alex and Kara help each other through grief and loss this season. That said, I haven’t necessarily been the most thrilled with the way these losses came about. The Karamel relationship currently has angst and drama, since he is married to anybody else. But is there really any question of how this pesky inconvenient marriage will be resolved? The predictability of the resolution makes waiting for it to happen a bit like treading water. I don’t have a preferred ship on Supergirl. That said, if I shipped Karamel, I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about its future. The only question is whether Saturn Girl will end up dying or being evil. My money’s on the latter.

I also think the ending of Alex and Maggie’s relationship has been a weak point in the season. Of course, the writers’ hands were tied in the fact that the relationship had to end. They had little choice, since the actress playing Maggie wanted to leave the show. That said, I can certainly understand the criticisms of fans who say that the show did not have to conclude last season with an engagement, knowing that Sanvers would have to end this year.

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That aside, I had one bigger issue with the ending of Sanvers. The narrative was too one-sided and it would have been improved with more focus on Maggie’s perspective. The audience saw Alex struggle to reconcile her desire to have children against her love for Maggie. We saw her try to convince herself that she could be happy without the former so long as she had the latter. Then we saw her grief when she realized she couldn’t.

We saw Alex grapple with all of that, and Chyler Leigh did some amazing work. However, we never got to see Maggie struggle with the same issues. Did Maggie ever consider whether she could be happy with children, if it meant being with Alex? Did she ever try to lie to herself that she could?

The story could have – and realistically would have – ended in the same place as it did. Still, it was a disservice to the Sanvers relationship not to show the internal conflict on both sides. We didn’t see Maggie struggle with the same issues. So it almost came off as blaming Alex for the breakup when she asked if she really wanted to let the relationship end. It also made it hard not to wonder if Alex ultimately loved Maggie more than Maggie loved her. I’m sure that’s not actually the case. But Alex was so devastated at the thought of losing Maggie that she wondered if she could give up children and still be happy. Did Maggie’s love for Alex ever lead her to wonder the same?

The Flash 

The Best: The Light in the Dark

As an unabashed Westallen fan, I’ve been loving this season. The lighter tone has perhaps occasionally verged on being a bit too much on occasion. However, it’s been a welcome change from the drama and angst of the last few seasons. Ultimately, the love between Iris and Barry has been a highlight of the season to date. It has been an absolute joy to see the two of them get the happy life together they so richly deserve.

Of course, as strong as they are individually, Barry and Iris are only stronger together. We have seen how true that is this season. The parallel between Westallen and Clifford and Marlize Devoe has only highlighted that message. These parallels are so pervasive that they must be intentional, and they will undoubtedly be important in the back of the season.

We have witnessed some lovely Westallen scenes this year. However, I do have one wish for the end of the season. Iris and Barry are obviously going to have their share of trials and tribulations coming up (no pun intended). Without question, there is a fair amount of angst coming their way. There is no doubt they will make it through the battle ahead together. However, I can only hope that they are allowed to be happy once they do – and that the audience is allowed to see it.

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And if they got the wedding ceremony they deserved, when all was said and done? I am sure many Westallen fans would love to see it. The writers clearly felt that they had done Westallen a disservice in the crossover. It’s up to them to fix it.

The Worst: Two Sides of Every Story, But He’s a Jerk in Both

Ralph Dibney is literally the worst. From police corruption to blackmail to sheer smarminess, there is no moral defect too low for him to embrace. If he has a single redeeming virtue, I have yet to see it. Any willingness I had to give him the benefit of the doubt vanished the minute he called Caitlin by her measurements in lieu of her name. Which is not to say it was any better when he referred to perfect strangers by their measurements earlier in the episode. And not that the show has tried too hard to redeem him since.

Given the allegations against Andrew Kreisberg, I can’t help but wonder how much of Dibney’s deplorable behavior reflects what was going on behind the scenes. Perhaps in the second half of the season, the show will try to course correct. There is a difference between misguided but redeemable and outright scummy. However, the show pole vaulted past “scummy” straight into “inevitable future lawsuit” territory.

Sadly, I think Dibney’s character is past the point of course correction. At least he is for me. It’s a shame, because I think the actor could have done a great job, if given the chance. I certainly don’t hold his character against him.

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But my good will towards the actor doesn’t extend to the character. That I get undertones of a potential relationship between Dibney and Caitlin makes me feel physically ill. (Run Caitlin, run!) No amount of awkward compliments will ever make me believe that he has become a fundamentally better person on the inside. The Flash has been problematic in its treatment of women in the past. We do not need to see Caitlin thrown under yet another bus to establish that a truly reprehensible character has become a slightly less despicable human being. This is one failure I think the show runners and writers are going to have to take on the chin. Some characters just cannot be salvaged. I’m afraid he’s one of them.

Agree? Disagree? Share with us in the comments below!

Jade

Law geek, actual geek, and fanfic writer. Maybe a novel writer one day, if I could only pull myself away from fandom long enough. I have been entirely too involved in fandom for my own sanity since at least my Smallville days. I love many comic book love stories, but Clark Kent and Lois Lane will always own my heart. Currently obsessed with The Flash.

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