As the summer television hiatus fast approaches, our DCTV shows are fast approaching their season’s end.
For some, like Arrow, that signals a huge change coming in the form of losing the heart of your show in Felicity Smoak. For others, like Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, it’s the end of one chapter and the start of a new one where there’s always a possibility for redemption for mistakes of seasons past.
Our DCTV writers Alyssa, Jade and Charles are here to recap the week in DC Television with reviews from Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow and The Flash.
‘Supergirl’ 4×21: “Red Dawn”
by Alyssa Barbieri
This week’s penultimate episode of Supergirl gives us a disappointing fight between Red Daughter and Kara (did anyone else expect that fight to be like THE THING and ended up feeling like it was barely A thing?) and a returned focus on the most important relationship on this show. Guess which one I’m going to focus more on?
You guessed it! Alex and Kara it is.
No matter what other relationships Alex and Kara have had, the heart of this show has always been their bond of sisterhood, and with Alex not remembering anything, that’s been sorely lacking in the past forever, which has been disappointing, even in a season that has done some things well. The lack of Alex/Kara interaction, or at least real, loving interaction, the kind we’re used to, has contributed to this season feeling stale and kinda boring.
And lo and behold, now we remember why!
Chyler Leigh is a hell of an actress, and her best performances always come opposite Melissa Benoist. When Alex is begging Kara to hang on, we feel it. When it seems like Kara is hanging on just because her sister asked her to, we feel it. And when Kara opens her eyes and Alex is there, finally looking at her with love, boy we feel that too.
It’s a little too late to fix everything that hasn’t worked with this season, but at least, by not saving this moment for the last episode, Supergirl has given us a glimmer of hope that things can – and will get better. At least storytelling wise!
‘Legends of Tomorrow’ 4×15: “Terms of Service”
This week’s penultimate episode of the season for Legends of Tomorrow felt like a very mixed bag, in a lot of different ways. For every tense visit with Constantine in Hell, we got wacky silliness with Gary and the evil Fairy Godmother, Tabitha. It’s all connected with Ne-Ray’s plot to take over hell with a vast array of new souls to own. For me, I want to talk about one character I have never been a fan of and unlike the Legends, my mind was not changed after this episode.
So, Gary spends the entire episode torturing the Legends into being his friends and after it’s finally over with the Legends realize they have been too hard on old’ Gary-bear and let him join them to go save the day. I’m sorry, but this just didn’t ring right to me. I’m all for redemption arcs, but for the last few episodes Gary has been a part of the bad guys. This episode, he puts Ava and Sara through psychological torture. Yes, it was only a book club and some dancing but still stuff they were not wanting to do. That’s what bad guys do.
(Don’t forget the whole mind-controlling the Time Bureau and helping Mona get captured stuff too. Yeah, that’s pretty bad.)
Now my understanding of the moral of this story-line has been: Don’t treat people badly even if they aren’t cool. That’s a good message to send. But the Legends never tortured Gary against his will. When Gary lost his nipple to the unicorn, he was doing it as his job. He could have said no. Gary didn’t give the Legends a choice during his magical “fun.” That just doesn’t seem right to me.
So, with Gary joining the Legends in their fight against Neron, my hope is that in the finale and next season we do get to see Gary’s redemption…his earned redemption in helping the Legends while being less of a cartoon character. Though sending Nora to hell to save John could be considered a good first step…maybe.
Ne-Ray’s (Nice nickname choice by Mona here) plan is very much 2019 in a nutshell: Have evil monsters and fairy creatures cause attacks and fear so people can download the new PalmerX Eyes app. In the fine print, whoever signs up for the app now has their soul owned by Neron. As you can expect, some download the app after a demonstration from Mona after being forced to by Neron. This is interrupted by Nate, Zari, Mick and Charlie but after a Gary wish — only Zari and Charlie are there to stop the demonstration.
Zari and Charlie with the dragon egg go to young Zari’s house to hide. Sometimes, whenever I think that the show forgets something, they prove me wrong and here was another case of that. The scene to open the episode with Zari as a kid and her pregnant mom was a lovely little family moment that shows once again that when Legends wants to, they do the emotional little scenes like this one pretty darn well.
Another quick moment that I really liked was Charlie and Zari’s talk before they go to save Mona at the Time Bureau. I love the bit of character we see in Charlie, as you can tell that while she does like having fun, she also deathly afraid of being locked up again. But like the other Legends, she shows that she is a true hero by going into the bell of the Bureau to save Mona. Which they are able to accomplish, but at the price of Charlie being captured by Ne-Ray and Tabitha. So while Mona and the other magical creatures are safe, Ne-Ray has a shape-shifter at his disposal.
Oh, and that dragon egg Nate and Zari have been taking care of? It’s hatching!! In 2019 Zari’s home and young Zari has the egg in her room watching it hatch after Present Zari forgot it there. To be fair to Zari, my mom forgot me at the library one time, so this happens. Now granted, I was just a whiny kid and not a dragon that could breathe fire, but I understand it slipping Zari’s mind at the time.
As for the two magical powerhouses of the team: John’s trip to Hell ends with the rulers of the bad place giving John a Sophie’s Choice decision: Save Ray or Save Astra, the girl John couldn’t help all those years ago. John’s guilty conscience gets the best of him and he chooses to save Astra. But as you all know, Hell isn’t the place for fair and square deals. So when John goes to pick up Astra for the return trip to Earth, he finds that she has become a adult, and her time in hell has changed her into a eviler person. So now Johnny has a few demons ready to torture him. I don’t blame John for the choice he made, as he wouldn’t be a Legend if everything didn’t go completely wrong for him.
The first attempt to rescue Mona has Nora making a few choices that go sideways very quickly. One flaw of Nora’s is that now that she is letting people get closer to her, she sometimes picks the wrong people to trust in. This happened with her father, and it happens in this episode with Tabitha, the Fairy Godmother. So Nora goes to wish to become Mona’s fairy godmother and take Tabitha’s curse….Except the curse only works for whoever the wand is tied to, which is still Gary. So Nora is Gary’s Fairy Godmother now. Poor Nora. Now she is in hell (Literally and figuratively) as Gary sends her there to save John and rescue Ray. My prediction: She will be able to accomplish one of those, but maybe not the other.
So with the Legends undermanned and outgunned, Ne-Ray has the upper hand. What can the Legends do to stop a demon from hell from trying to bring hell on earth?
‘Arrow’ 7×22: “You Saved This City”
by Alyssa Barbieri
I’m not going to waste much time on the parts of the Arrow season finale that weren’t centered around Felicity, Olicity or OTA because, quite frankly, nothing else mattered from that finale. Nothing. Okay, except Future Felicity and children. In a lot of ways, Arrow’s season 7 finale felt like the perfect series finale. Naturally, there’s still one 10-episode final season coming this fall — all because of this Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover — but this would’ve been the perfect ending. Well, minus the crossover stuff. So, if anything, at least the series finale has a chance to redo it — the right way. With Oliver and Felicity getting their happy ending — getting to raise Mia and William.
Let’s quickly get this Emiko stuff out of the way. Oliver helped her see the error of her ways — blah, blah, blah — and she died just as she decided to step into the light. It felt awfully convenient and was the perfect-bad ending to Emiko’s arc this season. Elsewhere, Star City finally saw Team Arrow for the heroes they really are.
Then came perhaps the best 10 minutes of Arrow in the past several years — or ever, to be honest. Where Oliver, Felicity and Diggle were the last ones to stand in the Arrow Cave — a beautiful callback to their first team-up in season one. It was the first of an emotional 10-minute segment that had me cry my make-up clear off. Cut to Diggle bringing Oliver and Felicity to their new home, where they would be safe to live from the Ninth Circle, and raise their daughter and son. Then we got the most wonderful segment with Oliver and Felicity getting to live their lives — before Mia and after she was born. It was beautiful — nightly porch talks, Oliver falling asleep with baby Mia on his chest as Felicity comes to love on both of them. Be still my heart because I’m still a wreck.
Then came the inevitable heartbreak. Honestly, it wouldn’t be Arrow without it. The Monitor returned to Oliver demanding payment from the previous crossover. He’d seen the future, and he’s seen Oliver die. So in order to protect his family, Oliver left with The Monitor. And it wasn’t until the flashforwards that we got a somewhat happy ending, that saw Felicity — knowing her children were okay without her — went with the Monitor to be reunited with Oliver. And I’ll be damned if I’m not still crying.
‘The Flash’ 5×22: “Legacy”
Well, this season’s finale of The Flash certainly…happened. In a season that with plot inconsistencies and more than its fair share of absurdities, what could one expect but more inconsistency and a fair amount of absurdity?
The fifth season finale wrapped up the story of one villain (a story that should have wrapped up at least ten episodes ago but certainly in the prior episode at the latest) and left the other free to wreak havoc in the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths, no doubt.
It’s been a full season of gearing up to finally take down Cicada – and then Shecada. It’s been at least half a season of touting Killer Frost as the special snowflake “secret weapon” who was the only person in the world who could take down the season’s Big Bad. It was all leading to this epic, climactic battle, where Killer Frost…gets knocked out pretty much immediately and really doesn’t end up being a special snowflake secret weapon at all. Or much of any weapon. Or even, honestly, that much more important to the battle or the narrative than she’s been in any of the other battles where she was knocked out immediately.
So that really leaves me with one question: What the hell was the point? What was the point of spending all that time establishing that the peculiar origin of her abilities made her immune to Cicada? What was the big point in establishing that she was going to be some critical secret weapon in the battle – the only thing that would be able to take Cicada down?
When asked about writing, Anton Chekhov once advised, “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.” Well, The Flash writers put a gun in the scene. Surrounded that gun with neon lights. Talked about how absolutely critical the gun was going to be to the plot. Made it absolutely clear that the gun was the most important element of the entire plot. And then, when time came to fire it, established that it was completely inconsequential to anything important before hurling it out the window.
So thanks for that colossal waste of time, writers.
At any rate, taking down Shecada isn’t as straightforward as they initially think when it’s revealed that the team cannot destroy her dagger without freeing Reverse Flash from prison in the future. Why? Wibbly wobbly timey wimey. Just go with it. So Nora goes into the young Grace’s mind to ask her to consent to the cure, revisiting the ridiculous thread they choose to treat as a moral quandary. Grace gives it – eventually – but it still turns out that Shecada cannot be stopped as long as the dagger exists in this timeline. So, somewhat reluctantly, they decide to destroy the dagger – and, thus, Shecada.
This of course leads to the real threat of the season – or at least what should have been the real threat of the season. Reverse Flash is freed in the future and in the first ten seconds of his newfound freedom, he shows why he’s such a threat. Until Nora reverses time by a couple of minutes, saving the lives of the numerous guards he had just killed. It all leads to an…I’ll say “epic” faceoff between Team Flash and Reverse Flash.
Okay, I’m going to throw this out there. The fight was a little ridiculous. I know they wanted to show the team working together, giving everyone a chance to shine. But when Reverse Flash ran full-tilt into the flying time machine and went bouncing onto the ground like a kid getting beaned on the head in dodgeball, I couldn’t help it. I laughed. It was just too absurd. Even more so because the team that couldn’t manage to take down Shecada for like 20 freaking episodes somehow pull it together to almost defeat Barry’s biggest foe.
At the end of the battle, Nora is about to Reverse Flash Reverse Flash when her body starts to glow and Thawne reveals that she is about to be erased due to the shifting time stream. The only way to save her is to put her in the negative speed force, so Barry and Company let Thawne go in order to try to save Nora. In the end, however, she decides to make the heroic choice and give herself over to her fate.
It is a brave, selfless decision, and I really wish I was going to miss the character of Nora more than I am. Still, the emotion Grant Gustin and Candice Patton brought the scene was really heart wrenching, proving once again why they are the heart of the show. Even when the material they’re given isn’t the strongest, they manage to elevate it – and they bring the emotion every time. That said, as much as I’m impressed by Candice Patton’s ability to cry on cue and break hearts left and right with perfect line delivery, I really hope they give her character a little more happiness next season. This year has been rough, and she needs a break.
If I’m being honest, the decision to unwrite Nora is a bit of a surprise. However one feels about Nora’s character this season, her character’s story and development was a big part of the show. From her anger at future Iris to her desperate desire to get to know her father. Her learning to use her powers. The occasional bonding moments with her family. We spent an entire episode learning how she discovered she had powers and why she teamed up with Thawne. And now all of that characterization is just wiped away like an Etch A Sketch after a good shake. True, we will likely see Nora again in some capacity. But, like whatever version of Wells we get next, it won’t be the same character. And that is an unusual narrative choice for a character who really was the primary focus of the show for basically the entire season.
It really makes me wonder if that was always the plan. Or if at some point they realized that they had made some mistakes this season and wiping her literally from existence was their way of trying to wipe the slate clean. Perhaps time will tell.
Nora isn’t the only loss (of a sense) this episode. Much to my relief, Singh isn’t killed but promoted, naming Joe as his successor. It will probably lead to the same result – we’ll never see him again. He also reveals he knows Barry is the Flash. I like that they let him be smart, but I’m not entirely sure it makes sense with all his actions last season. Ah, well. They let him be smart, and I like that.
Sherloque leaves to be with his girlfriend. And I’m sure somewhere there is somebody who probably cares about that.
Cisco reveals his powers to Kamilla, who handles the revelation with a gratifying maturity that I have to admit I didn’t entirely expect. (It’s strange that everyone who once told Barry he had to keep his secret from Iris for her own good is now incredibly insistent that Cisco must tell Kamilla all about his powers. Right now. Immediately. After all of three and a half dates.) Cisco eventually realizes that he doesn’t want the most interesting thing about him to be his powers, so he decides to take the cure and move on with his life. It isn’t clear whether Carlos is leaving the show or going down to recurring, and this plot contrivance does leave the door open for him to return. I wouldn’t be surprised if he chooses not to. The show has never given Carlos his due as an actor or done right by Cisco as a character.
If this was Carlos’s last episode, then I can’t say enough about my level of disgust towards the show. They’ve likely known all season that he would be leaving, and the way they treated his character in his final year was shameful. They gave him a plot, then gave it immediately to Caitlin in order to establish her as the secret weapon against Cicada (and then showed that plot to be completely pointless), and finally wrote him off without once giving his character a proper story or arc.
Which brings me to the part where I have to own up to the fact that I was wrong. While several signs seemed to point to Caitlin leaving at the end of the season, she didn’t. It may be that I misread the signs entirely. It may be, as some suspect, that she’s sticking around so there are casualties in the upcoming Crisis storyline. Still, I stated in reviews several times that I thought she was leaving, and she didn’t. In fact, she even got a new suit out of the deal.
It’s already been announced that The Flash will have a new showrunner next season. Here’s hoping he can put the series back on track and make the show less of an inconsistent mess next year than it was this year. Which, let’s be honest, is a pretty low bar.
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