Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Starman Plays Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Fathers (20th Anniversary Edition) - Part 5

In which our "hero" finally gets around to researching his book. You know? The whole reason he got involved with all these crazy murders in the first place?

For our part, we learn more about real-world Voodoo and New Orleans history than we probably ever needed to know thanks to a helpful curator and I go out of my way to explain away one of the plot holes created by the 20th Anniversary Edition's efforts to railroad the player.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 14 - Attack On Central City

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.




Plot

When Grodd returns to Earth One leading the armies of Gorilla City from Earth Two, Team Flash faces a challenge unlike anything they've ever faced before. Can Barry stop Grodd without giving into the demands of Ape Law - kill or be killed?  Or will he find another way?


Influences

The Flash comics of John Broome (creator of Grodd), countless Flash comics involving Grodd leading an army of gorillas, the Planet of the Apes movies (basic idea of an intelligent ape uprising), any Doctor Who story involving multiple Doctors (the conflict between the two Wells) and the comic Multiversity (the character of The Accelerated Man).


Goofs

If Grodd's telepathy is strong enough that he can control a metahuman well enough to make them use their powers in a controlled circumstance (i.e. having Gypsy create a breach), why didn't he mind-control Cisco into doing that last week?

Barry's sudden crisis of faith regarding not killing his enemies comes out of left field and doesn't ring at all true.

Harry's math regarding the number of combinations possible in a five digit code is slightly off. Assuming the digits 0-9 can be used for each number in the code with repetitions allowed, the total number of combinations is 100,000 - not 90,000.  The 90,000 number seems to be based on this site, which assumes the combination is an actual number and thus couldn't have a 0 as the first digit.

So Grodd just stood there and watched Barry disarm the nuclear weapon?  He didn't try to mind-control Barry into stopping what he was doing?  He didn't attack Barry?  He just... stood there.


Performances

Tom Cavanagh playing against himself as Harry and HR is just plain delightful.


Artistry


The effects for the gorillas are vastly improved from last week.


Flash Facts


This Valentine's Day themed episode was aired on February 28, 2017 - two weeks to the day after Valentine's Day.

Gypsy makes reference to a character named Luke Starkiller.  In several of George Lucas' early drafts for the first Star Wars movie, the main hero's name was Luke Starkiller rather than Luke Skywalker. Reportedly, the reason for the change was that George Lucas worried that the name Starkiller might not be seen as heroic in the wake of the Manson Family's murder of actress Sharon Tate.

Harry makes several references to the movie Rocky, doing an impression of actor Burgess Meredith, who played the trainer Mickey.

HR makes reference to a great poet of Earth 19 named Alfred Yankovich. On our Earth - and apparently Earth One, based on Iris' reaction - Alfred Yankovich is better known by the name "Weird Al" Yankovich and is a famous songwriter and parodist. He also has distinctive long curly hair on both Earths.

Fort Reynolds is the name of a military base with nuclear missiles near Central City. In the real world, there were two forts in the United States with the name Fort Reynolds.  One was built in Colorado and abandoned in 1872. The other was in Virginia in Arlington County and was abandoned in 1865.

The speedster in the scarf and the goggles whom Gypsy speaks to regarding the "breacher" she busted on Earth Two is identified in the show's advertising materials as The Accelerated Man. In the Multiversity comics, The Accelerated Man was The Flash of Earth 19.

Earth 19, in the modern DC Multiverse, is the Earth of the Gotham By Gaslight reality where The Age of Heroes began in the late Victorian/early Edwardian era. Here, Bruce Wayne was a student of Sigmund Freud and his first case saw him fighting Jack The Ripper.

Despite sharing a number, the Earth 19 of The DC Multiverse is a different place than the Earth 19 of the DCTVU.


Technobabble

The device Harry builds with Wally will broaden the overall harmonic resonance of Cisco's vibrational frequencies all while focusing them on a fixed temporal locus.

Harry describes vibing blind as like riding a monster wave - you need to stay above the temporal flow or your consciousness can get sucked under.

Harry says there was an Earth Two neuroscientist who was able to achieve near total memory recovery using trans-cranial magnetic simulators on damaged brain tissue.  Caitlin notes the same process is used on Earth One, but as a depression treatment.

In the Earth Two experiment, the scientist focused all their energy on the occipital cortex. Harry theorizes that the connection Grodd creates between himself and those he controls telepathically goes both ways and leaves behind trace memories that could be used to figure out his plan.

Cisco says that anyone can draw but that some people have a more developed visual cortex and manual ability.

Cisco notes that the computers that control nuclear missiles are basically analog, still using floppy disks. As such, they have to be stopped in person and can't be hacked from STAR Labs.


Dialogue Triumphs

(HR watches Harry brushing his teeth.)
HR: Ohhhhhh!  You go front to back!  Tooth-brushing? You go front to back. Cause I'm a small circles guy.  I wonder how the other Wells brushes his teeth?
Harry: The murderer?
HR: I'm fascinated by the subtle differences between us, you know?
Harry: And the not so subtle ones.
HR: Like what?
Harry: Like the fact that I'm a genius and you're a moron.
(Harry spits in HR's coffee mug and walks out. HR is nonplussed for only a moment.)
HR: (smiling and waving) Okay! See you at the party!

(Jesse tells her father that she wants to stay on Earth One because of Wally.)
Harry: This guy? You like him?
Jesse: Yeah.
Harry: He makes you happy?
Jesse: Dad...
Harry: ...Okay.
Jesse:  That's it? You're not going to yell?  You're not going to go throw that over there?
Harry: Your happiness is what matters to me. You're both adults. I respect your decision. Don't screw it up.
(Harry leaves the lab.)
Jesse: Okay.  That was weird...
Wally: I guess that this means we have to find you a place?
Jesse: Me? More like us!
(Jesse smiles and leaves the room.. Wally makes a nervous face once she's away.)

Caitlin: Cisco, I promise, there is a beautiful, intelligent woman out there who's going to challenge you to be the the best version of yourself. In fact, she could be right around the corner.
(A breach opens and Gyspy jumps out.)
Cisco: (smiling) Gypsy!
(Gypsy blasts red energy from her hand and knocks Cisco off his feet.)

Barry: Any sign of him?
Cisco: Not since you asked 30 seconds ago.
Barry: Okay, he's a giant gorilla! Who is probably leading an army of giant gorillas! How can you not find him?!

(Cisco tries to convince Gypsy to join them in fighting Grodd.)
Cisco: We need you.
Gypsy: You need me? (smirking) Are you trying to Luke Starkiller me?
(Cisco pauses, seems to consider that difference in their worlds, smirks and steps forward.)
Cisco: What if I am? Is that what it's going to take to get you to stay?

Joe: Hold on. You all want to put a bunch of magnets against my skull, to look into the mind of a psychotic, murderous ape?
Harry: Yeah.
Joe: (deadpan) Fine.

Harry: Barry, there's a thousand things I've done that I'm not proud of! (sighs) Some of them recently. Every time I do one of those things, it makes it easier to do the next time. I look at you out there battling the darkness with Honor and Hope and I'm reminded there's always another way. Always. Killing Grodd is not your answer. Saving one life doesn't justify taking another. Find the other way.

Cisco: General Matthew McNally. And I'll give you one guess - just guess - what he's in charge of.
Barry: (shaking his head) I know you're going to say military weapons, but I really hope you don't say military weapons...
Joe: It's worse, Bar. Nuclear missiles.
Caitlin: McNally has the highest clearance. He can have a rocket in the air in less than ten minutes.
Barry: So are the satellites back to functional?
Harry: We ran a full antagonistic. Any nuclear weapon that is authorized to fire, an alarm will sound.
Barry: Okay. Good.
(An alarm goes off. Barry face palms with both hands.)
HR:
Does it sound like that? That's an alarm.
Harry: (sarcastically) Yeah. It's THAT Alarm, HR.


Continuity


Friend's Day is a holiday on Earth 19 roughly equivalent to Earth One's Valentine's Day.

Jesse tells Harry that she wants to stay on Earth One.

Julian is in London at the time of this episode.

Caitlin refers to Lisa Snart's flirtation with Cisco, which started in 116.

Gypsy was last seen in 311.

Gypsy was on Earth Two, hunting another fugitive from Earth 19 when Grodd took over her mind and used her powers to create a breach between Earth One and Earth Two.

HR's nickname for Harry is "Hardhat".

Apparently, on Earth 19, the hero of the Star Wars movies was Luke Starkiller.

Harry has an untreatable terminal illness. He isn't sure how long he has to live and asks Wally to keep this news secret from Jesse.

Cisco sees the gorilla attack occurring at the intersection of State and Oakhill. This is one block away from the main bridge into Central City.

Wally tells Jesse what Harry told him about being ill. She presumes her father was lying. It turns out she was right - Harry was lying, figuring that Wally was too honest to hide anything from Jesse and that he'd do the honorable thing and tell her to stay with her dad.

When tapped into Grodd's brain, Joe creates a sketch of a human adult male. This man turns out to be Air Force General Matthew McNally.

Fort Reynolds is a nuclear missile launch site near Central City.

On Earth 19, Alfred Matthew Yankovich is a renowned poet - not a song parodist.

Military haircuts are the same on Earth 19 as they are on Earth One - very short.

Cisco is now able to "vibe" people's emotional states as well as their locations. He claims to feel Gypsy's urge to be a hero.

Caitlin makes reference to King Shark - last seen in 215.

Cisco needs Gypsy's help to find Solovar. - presumably because her command of her powers is enough to locate beings with whom she doesn't have a direct connection.

Solovar returns to Earth Two along with his people.

Grodd is handed over to ARGUS.

Harry returns to Earth Two.

Barry proposes to Iris with the ring his great-grandfather gave his great-grandmother after WWII. He couldn't afford a ring to propose before he shipped out. He bought the ring three years later while in London and gave it to her when she met him on the docks at the Brooklyn Shipyards when his ship came in.

We do not hear Iris' answer to the proposal.

Casablanca is Wally West's favorite movie.

Jesse is confused by Casablanca and asks if it took place during the War of The Americas.

Earth Two had more wars than Earth One.

Savitar reappears as Wally is running to Big Belly Burger, in the final scene.


Location


There is a brief scene on Earth 19 when Cisco goes to Gypsy as she is talking with The Accelerated Man.


Untelevised Adventures


Gypsy tracks another fugitive from Earth 19 to Earth Two. This is how she came to be under Grodd's control. We don't see her hunt for the fugitive or their eventual capture after Cisco frees her, but Gypsy is seen reporting on the capture to The Accelerated Man before Cisco arrives on Earth 19.


The Fridge Factor


Gypsy's reasons for not wanting to get involved in the fight with Grodd - that she was traumatized by visions of his plans for destroying Central City - really ring false given how tough she was built up in her first appearance.


The Boomerang Factor


Barry's sudden crisis of faith regarding killing comes out of nowhere and Grodd could have easily won the battle if he'd tried telepathically controlling The Flash.


The Bottom Line

An improvement on Part One, despite a number of plot holes. There's a lot of good character moments here - most of them involving the interplay between the two Wells. Still, Barry's sudden crisis of faith seems to be introduced only because he has so little to do in this episode without the angst and the romance between Jesse and Wally is so much more engaging than Barry's whining over everything turning against him as he tries to save Iris.

Starman Plays Skyrim Special Edition - Part 35

In which I show you the secrets of mountain-climbing as we run afoul of bandits, dragons and meet an amazing, Empire-hating survivalist woman who you CAN'T recruit as a follower or marry. She can teach you to be a better archer, though...


Injustice: Ground Zero #22 - A Review

The battle for the Earth of Injustice has begun in earnest. As Wonder Woman fights her alternate universe countepart for leadership of the Amazons, The Harley Horde raid one of Lex Luthor's old armories. They aren't looking for weapons - they're looking for tools to keep the people caught in the crossfire safe.


While I love Tom Derenick as an artist, I fear he was the wrong choice for this particular issue of Ground Zero. Derenick's animated style would normally be a good fit for a story focused on Harley Quinn. Sadly, it doesn't really work here, where Harley is narrating most of the action and trying to be serious. The Wonder Woman fight suffers the worst in this regard, looking more like a slapstick sequence than a brutal battle between two Amazons. Despite this disparity between the art and Christopher Sebela's excellent script, this issue remains a good read.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 14 - Homecoming

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.





Plot

When Jeremiah Danvers is rescued from a Cadmus convoy, Alex and Kara are relieved to have their father home. A wedge is driven between the sisters, however, when Mon-El expresses his concerns about something not being right about Jeremiah and Kara thinks he may be right!


Influences

The film Captain America: The Winter Soldier (loved one of the hero returns as a sleeper agent with an artificial arm.) and Superman: The Movie (the scene with Kara saving the train.)


Goofs

Unfortunately, the whole episode is built around a rather unlikely conceit - that the usually oblivious Mon-El is the only one to smell a rat regarding Jeremiah's return being too convenient. (Then again, this could be a sign that he isn't the shallow idiot he's acted like since arriving on Earth...)

So Kara and Alex go after Jeremiah alone, without any other DEO agents as back-up?  Not even Mon-El?


Performances


The scenes in which Mon-El and Winn bond at the bar are great ones for Jeremy Jordan and Chris Wood.


Super Trivia

Saving trains that are in danger of being derailed is a standard feat of the various Superman family members. Perhaps the most famous example of this is in Superman: The Movie but it has occurred in various comics as well.


Technobabble


Cadmus utilizes lead-line vehicles to prevent x-ray vision from being used to see through them.

Kara's heat-vision radiation signature is used to track the Cadmus nuclear fusion bomb.

Jerimiah's right arm was enhanced with cybernetics in the same way as Cyborg Superman's body. He was also given some kind of ability to resist Martian telepathy.


Dialogue Triumphs

(After kissing Mon-El.)
Kara: Gosh, it's so nice to do that without breaking the guy's nose.
Mon-El: How many times did that happen?
Kara: (giggling, embarrassed) Ummm... less than five.
Mon-El: So four.

(Mon-El has just bluntly revealed that he and Kara are a couple to J'onn and Alex..)
Kara: Can we just pretend like that never happened?
J'onn: I'd like nothing more but unfortunately, as your supervisor, I have to ask you to report to HR
(Kara laughs. She quickly realizes she's the only one who is.)
Kara: Wait... you're serious?!
J'onn: Kara, you're dating a co-worker.
Kara: That's not... wait... we have an HR?
J'onn: (pointing to Mon-El) Walk this puppy down to the second floor and fill out all the forms Pam gives you. In triplicate.
(J'onn walks off.)
Alex: Oh. And you're going to have to attend a mandatory sexual harassment seminar.
Kara: Seriously?!
(Alex walks off leaving Kara and Mon-El alone. Kara is clearly not happy. Mon-El is wearing the expression of every boyfriend who has just realized that he is going to pay for this.)
Mon-El: It's going to be a rough sparring session for me.
Kara:  (sarcastically) You think?
Mon-El: Okay. I'm going to warm up.

Mon-El: Sir, as a scientist you have to believe in questioning. That's all I was trying to do in there. I'm sorry if I hurt-
Jeremiah: I know who you are.
Mon-El: ... and?
Jeremiah: That's it. I know who you are. And I doubt Kara would like the truth.


Continuity


Kara and Mon-El did spend the night together.

Before Mon-El wakes up, Supergirl stops five armed robberies, delivered a litter of puppies and helped one tugboat captain bring in a ship.

Kara has accidentally broken the noses of four men whom she kissed in the past.

On Daxam, it was customary to throw parties whenever a couple got together.

The DEO does have an HR Department and a sexual harassment policy. They don't prohibit co-workers from dating but do require it be strictly monitored.

Jeremiah Danvers was last seen in 207.

Jeremiah Danvers claims that he and Hank Henshaw were found by Cadmus. He was then forced to keep Henshaw alive and perform the procedures that turned him into The Cyborg Superman. He did such a good job he was put to work enhancing other agents.

Jeremiah Danvers' right hand was extensively damaged as punishment for helping Kara and Mon-El to escape from Cadmus.

Mon-El points out that the DEO has never picked up an alert of Cadmus activity unless they were caught red-handed or were intentionally trying to be noticed.

Jeremiah Danvers claims that Cadmus has a nuclear fusion bomb, built using the energy they mined from Kara's heat-vision blasts while she was their hostage. Their plan is to blow up National City and blame it on alien terrorists.

Jeremiah Danvers claims to know the truth about who Mon-El is, privately, when speaking to him.

Winn gave Mon-El his Netflix password.

Jeremiah claims he only hacked the DEO mainframe to read the old case files of what his daughters had done.

Winn discovers that Jeremiah stole the DEO's registry of every alien in the USA.

Jeremiah stuck some kind of bargain with Lillian Luthor for his help.

Cadmus is at work building some kind of armored ship.


The Kryptonite Factor

Honestly, the only way for this episode to work is for the most paranoid characters to suddenly become trusting and the most naive characters to suddenly become paranoid.


The Bottom Line


A typically flat mid-season filler episode that does nothing but temporarily throw a monkey wrench into the relationship drama without really changing anything. Still, the scenes of Winn and Mon-El bonding are fun and the bits of Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood playing cute are good. The script definitely needed a few more rewrites, however.