Friday, November 17, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 6 - Promises Kept

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




Plot

As Slade Wilson uncovers the truth about his son's past, Oliver finds himself in exactly the sort of trouble he had promised he would avoid. Meanwhile, back in Star City, the rest of Team Arrow must contend with The Dragon -a new crime boss who stealing advanced technology for an unexpected end and one whom has a surprising connection to one of them...


Influences

The Teen Titans comics of Marv Wolfman and George Perez (plot involving Deathstroke trying to bring the son who emulates him under control) and the Green Arrow comics of Jeff Lemire (character of Ricardo Diaz).


Goofs

Why doesn't Nylander recognize Oliver as the friend who was with Slade at their meeting in the last episode?

Why was the A.S.I.S. training room in Australia getting the Channel 52 news feed?

The whole "Diggle turning to mystery drugs" subplot doesn't make sense and both Lyla and Curtis point out why. Lyla rightly calls John the most moral man she knows and Digg's desire not to burden people would never outweigh his sense of duty to the team. Curtis points out that given that he was able to crate a microchip that could cure paralysis, John should have come to him first about his nerve problems instead of trusting a strange drug dealer.


Performances

Manu Bennett delivers his best performance yet as Slade Wilson. If this is his final appearance, he's ending on a high note. That still won't stop me from hoping for a Deathstroke series in 2018. Make it happen, CW!

Despite how random it was in starting and how quickly it's resolved here, David Ramsey sells the hell out of his performance here as John Diggle coping with drug abuse.


Artistry

The final shot of Slade walking away through a steam-cloud is like something George Perez would have drawn, brought to life.


Trivia

The first business the tech thieves try to rob in this episode is Cadmus Tech. Cadmus, in the original comics, is a scientific concern involved in genetic engineering. In the New 52 universe, they are tied to a business called Cadmus Industries. In the DC Animated Universe, Project Cadmus was an association of scientific, military and government agents who were concerned about the threat posed by The Justice League.

In the DCTVU, on Earth 38 - the world where Supergirl is from - Cadmus is the name of Lillian Luthor's anti-alien group.

Lyla makes a reference to the nation of Vlatava. In the original comics, Vlatava was a small eastern-European nation and home to the villain Count Vertigo.

The second business the thieves hit is the Bio division of Palmer Tech. This is, of course, Ray Palmer's company. They steal a second high-quality 3-D printer.

The character of Richard Dragon was originally created by Dennis O'Neil and Jim Berry for the novel Kung Fu Master, Richard Dragon: Dragon's Fists (1974). O'Neil, best known at the time for his work on Detective Comics and Green Lantern/Green Arrow, later adapted the character for the DC Comics Universe in Richard Dragon Kung Fu Fighter #1 (May 1975). As a teenage sneak-thief in Japan, a young Richard tried to break into a dojo run by O-Sensei. Bested and beaten by O-Sensei's prize student, the old master saw something worth saving in the young thief and took him on as a student. For seven years, Richard studied the martial arts, eventually deciding to use his skills for good. He went on to become one of the best (if not the best) overall martial artists in the DC Universe.

The character of Richard Dragon was introduced to The New 52 reality in Green Arrow #23 (October 2013) by Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino. This version of Richard Dragon was apparently a member of The League of Assassins and was killed by one of his students, Ricardo Diaz Jr., who took Richard Dragon's name.

Ricardo Diaz Jr. was the son of Ricardo Diaz Sr. - a corrupt Seattle businessman, who was killed by John Diggle who was, at the time, posing as Green Arrow. Seeking revenge, Diaz Jr. went off in search of The League of Assassins. After killing his mentor and taking his name, the new "Richard Dragon" returned to Seattle and began killing gang-leaders while posing as a vigilante. In truth, "Dragon" was cementing his control on the underworld with the ultimate goal of killing Green Arrow and taking over his city. To that end, Diaz formed a team - The Longbow Hunters - dedicated to killing Green Arrow.

The DCTVU version of Ricardo Diaz is a career criminal who goes by the street name "Dragon". Once part of a Glades gang called The Scorpions, he was sentenced to Life Without Parole twice for his extensive list of crimes. His convictions were overturned due to technicalities and he has only been out of prison for one month, according to Dinah.

Joe makes mention of a brother named Grant that Slade didn't know about. In the comics, Grant Wilson was Slade Wilson's oldest son, who followed in his footsteps to become the mercenary Ravager.

In one alternate future visited by The Legends of Tomorrow, Grant Wilson was the new Deathstroke who ruled over Star City 2046.

The video game Felicity and William are playing when Oliver returns home is Injustice 2 - a game which features, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Firestorm, The Atom, Supergirl, The Flash, Vixen, Captain Cold, Gorilla Grodd and Deadshot as playable characters. None of these characters are seen, however, with Felicity playing as Blue Beetle and William playing as Sub Zero.


Technobabble

The thieves were after a military-grade 3-D printer, capable of printing weapons, drones or chemicals.

Semtex is a high-yield explosive.

The armor which Slade Wilson wore as Deathstroke was developed by the A.S.I.S and was in it's prototype stages in 2011.

"Double jolts of Life Plus One" is a slang term for "two sentences for Life Without Parole".

Curtis says that both the stolen 3-D printers could be used to simultaneously print inert polypropylenes and soft material catalyst composites. This would allow him to make reactionware - i.e. designer street-drugs.

The drug John is taking is an experimental steroid.

In pondering how to solve John's nerve damage, Curtis asks if he's had an electromyogram done, but then corrects himself and says he'll need to do an NCV Test first.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Slade Wilson lies in a hospital bed, his head and right-eye bandaged. He twitches suddenly as we see, from his perspective, flashbacks of his battles on Lian Yu.)
Joe:
Father?
(Slade looks up. His gaze focusing. He sees his son, Joe.)
Slade:
Joe...
Joe: How are you feeling?
Slade: How did I get here?
Joe: Evac found you washed upon the Philippine coast. They said you were barely conscious. Just muttering someone's name... Oliver. Who is he?
(Slade shudders as he remembers. We see flashes of his battle with Oliver Queen on The Amazo. He reaches up to his bandaged eye.)
Joe: Father?
Slade: ... someone that owed me a debt.
Joe: Everyone left you for dead... but I knew you'd come back.
Slade: I will never leave you again, Joe.
(Joe leans down and hugs Slade. Slade hugs him back.)
Slade: I promise.

Diaz: Until we get our FDA approval, we've got to be careful with the roll out. You understand?
John: I get it. I'm just trying to make it through the day.
Diaz: Aren't we all?

John: To be Green Arrow means that I have to be physically capable of protecting the city. No matter what! Lyla, you make the same choices at ARGUS all the time!
Lyla: Choices you've condemned me for making!
John: I know I'm wrong. But I couldn't let Oliver down.
Lyla: So you let yourself down instead?

(Oliver wakes up, tied up in a chair. He finds a sword point at his right eye. Slade is holding the sword, as Joe looks on.)
Slade: Years ago I made you a promise. Do you remember? I promised that you would suffer. The same way that I suffered.
Oliver: What are you doing? You're not this person anymore.
Slade: What I am is a father. Reunited with my son. I made him a promise too, And I'm not going to break it again.
Oliver: We made each other a promise, Slade. To save our sons! To save Joe. To save William.
Joe: He has a son? I'll make sure he suffers too.
(Slade moves around behind Oliver.)
Oliver: Slade?
(Slade starts to raise up his sword.)
Joe: Do it!
Oliver: Slade?!  Slade!
(Slade grunts and slrikes down... cutting Oliver's bonds. Oliver is out of his chair with a shot, knocking Joe out with a quick strike.)
Oliver: (glaring at Slade) That was a little too convincing.

Slade: I spared your life back there.
Oliver: I know. But back there, it didn't feel like an act, the same way it did with Chase back on Lian Yu.
Slade: Because when I saw my son... I was tempted. I would have done anything to keep us together. But when you mentioned William... I realized that's not my boy. It's Kane. But what I fear is there's only one way to stop him.

Joe: "Trust begins with honesty." That's what you said to me. But you lied!
Slade: You know life is not that simple, Joe.
Joe: That's not my name! How could you forgive Oliver Queen after what he did to you?!
Slade: Because he forgave me for far worse. Sins that I have to carry to the grave. A curse that I didn't want to pass on to you! All of this anger and resentment - it's time to bring it to an end, son!
Joe: (drawing his sword) No. It's just the beginning!

Slade: It's time for you to go home.
Oliver: And where will you go?
Slade: I'm going to keep searching for my son. Both of them. (pauses) I can't give up.
Oliver: If you ever need my help again, you don't hesitate to ask. 
Slade: You have your own son to protect and I'm not going to put that at risk again. You've seen what can happen.
(Oliver nods as Slade offers his hand. Oliver takes it and shakes it.)
Slade:
Thank you, kid.
(Slade picks up his bag and walks off. Oliver turns and watches as Slade walks into an alley disappearing into a steam cloud.)


Continuity

Once again, John freezes up trying to fire his weapon as his hands go shaky.

Both Slade and Joe have a taste for single-malt scotch whiskey.

Ricardo Diaz is revealed to be leading the drug-ring that is making the drug that is keeping Diggle's aim steady. Diaz claims they are keeping it on the down-low until the FDA approves it.

John confesses about his nerve damage and his drug use to Lyla.

Slade spent two years (from 2010 to 2012) with his son, training alongside him in the A.S.I.S.. The Mirakuru drove him mad, however, and he killed almost all of his squad, save Joe, before leaving to pursue his vengeance on Oliver Queen, after seeing a news broadcast declaring that Oliver Queen was alive and had been rescued.

Joe reveals that he saw Slade kill a Chinese spy while they were supposed to be on a father-son trip in 2004. (As seen in the flashbacks in 605.) He says he made his first kill six months after that.

Joe reveals that he has a brother named Grant who Slade never knew about.

The Jackals are in custody but Joe/Kane gets away.

William got an A on his science project - a bottle rocket that went further than anyone else in his class.

John confesses his drug use and nerve trouble to Dinah, Rene and Curtis.

They forgive him, though Curtis is more offended that John didn't come to him for help first and promises to find a way to cure John without the steroid.

John promises no more secrets between himself and Dinah. She agrees... as she handles the matcbox that Vigilante gave her 605.


Location

An A.S.I.S. Medical Ward - 2010.
An A.S.I.S. Training Facility - 2011.
An A.S.I.S. Training Facility  - 2012.
A secret bunker in the nation of Kasnia.


Untelevised Adventures

The flashbacks in this episode tell the story of what happened to Slade Wilson in the five years between when he fought Oliver Queen on the Amazo and when he turned up in Star City posing as a businessman financing Moira Queen's run for mayor.


The Winick Factor

The arbitrary introduction of a drug addiction and the swift resolution of it in one issue is very Winnickian.


The Bottom Line

Half great. Half okay.

The only reason the subplot for Diggle works on any level is because of David Ramsey's performance. Had the subplot been given more time to mature, it might have worked more effectively. On the other hand, that would have required us to spend more time contemplating how out-of-character John was acting and how stupid he was for keeping secrets, not turning to the scientist he works with for help, etc.

The Deathstroke subplot, on the other hand, is handled perfectly and it gives Manu Bennett the exit from the series that he deserved rather than the embarrassing way Slade Wilson was handled in Arrow's third season. I really hope this isn't the last we see of Slade, but if it is, it's a grand way to go out.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Legends Of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 6 - Helen Hunt

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





Plot

Their latest experiments to free Professor Stein from The Firestorm Matrix result in Stein and Jax switching bodies. Unfortunately, the team has no time to fix the problem. Tracking an anachronism to 1930s Hollywood, The Legends are surprised to find two film studios warring over the most beautiful woman in history, Helen of Troy! They are also surprised by the arrival of an old enemy...


Influences

Various body-swapping comedies, particularly Freaky Friday (which Ray mentions by name) and the legends of The Trojan War (Helen of Troy, Sara uses a Trojan Horse to enter the mansion were Helen is held)


Goofs

Given that Troy was located in what is today the nation of Turkey, it seems unlikely that Helen of Troy would be a pale, blond-haired woman.

No explanation is given for why a bisexual woman like Sara Lance isn't as taken aback by Helen of Troy's beauty as the heterosexual men around her. (Perhaps Helen truly is cursed and the curse is heteronormative?)

While it's possible that things are different on Earth One in The DCTVU, in our world Hedy Lamarr was signed to a contract with MGM in 1938 after being discovered by Louie B. Mayer in Paris in 1937. As such, she would not have been at liberty to film a Helen of Troy movie at Warner Brothers and would hardly have had to resort to working as a phone operator in the studio office!

Wonder Woman lore purists may complain that it should be impossible for The Waverider to fly to Themyscria as the whole island is meant to be magically enscrolled by The Greek Gods. (Given the role The Greek Gods had in messing with The Trojan War, however, it's likely they either looked the other way or Zari - being a woman - was allowed to breach the barriers.)


Performances

Franz Drameh and Victor Garber do a fine job playing one another's respective regular roles.


Artistry

The costumers and set designers did a great job capturing the feeling of 1930s Hollywood.

The editing between the twin battles of Darhk/Sara and Kuasa/Amaya is fantastic.


Trivia Of Tomorrow

The episode opens with the usual narration being read by Amaya.

The series usual title-card is replaced with a black-and-white number.

The episode title is a play on the name of actress Helen Hunt, who is most famous for winning The Oscar for Best Actress in 1998 for the movie As Good As It Gets.

Legend has it that Helen of Troy was the most beautiful woman in history. Said to have "a face that launched a thousand ships", her abduction by Prince Paris of Troy from the home of her husband, the Spartan king Melenaus, sparked a ten-year conflict known as The Trojan War. This was due to a contest held by various rulers as to who would marry Helen and an agreement of all the participatory nation-states - The Oath of Tyndareus - that they would aid one another in battle.

Opinion is split between Historians as to whether or not there ever was a real battle that inspired the legends of The Trojan War. Indeed, until fairly recently, there was some argument as to whether or not The City of Troy ever existed. Some believe the Troy of legend was a town located in what is now modern Turkey.

The actress whom the real Helen of Troy replaces in the role of Helen of Troy is Hedy Lamarr. Once called "the most beautiful woman in film" (a title that was used for one 2012 biography), Lamarr had brains to match her beauty (as Stein notes) and invented the Spread Spectrum technology that led to the invention of modern wireless communications.

While Hedy Lamarr had not made any American films in 1937 (in our reality, her Hollywood premiere was the 1938 film Algiers), she was far from the desperate actress we see in this episode. After fleeing to Paris to escape her abusive husband in Austria, she was signed to a contract with MGM by Louis B. Mayer, who brought her to America in 1938. At the time she was still well known in Europe for her role in the 1933 German film Ecstasy, which is mostly remembered today for featuring a then 18-year old Lamarr swimming and running in the nude.

Hedy Lamarr did later play Helen of Troy (among other roles) in the 1954 Italian film The Loves of Three Queens.

The island of warrior woman Zari drops Helen of Troy off on is confirmed to be Themyscria. Also know as Paradise Island, Themyscria is the island home of the Amazons in the DC Comics Universe. This marks the first confirmation of Themyscria and The Amazons existing in The DCTVU.


Technobabble

Using Professor Stein's research, Ray develops nanites which should latch onto the Firestorm Matrix within Professor Stein. This, coupled with a polymer Ray constructed, should allow him to transfer that into Jefferson.

Hedy Lamarr theorizes that what has Jax and Stein mixed-up is a case of quantum entanglement, where the particles in one body are mirrored in an atomic companion.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Upon learning that Jax and Stein have switched bodies.)
Sara: Must be Tuesday.

(The team finds out they have to go to Hollywood in 1937.)
Jax: Maybe now I might actually get to meet some celebrities.
Stein: And how would you even know? The oldest movie you've ever watched is some ridiculous farce called Police Academy!

Nate: Helen, and her lover, Paris, set off a ten-year war that launched thousands of ships and sent tens of thousands of men off to their death. All in the name of her beauty.
Zari: You make it sound like it's her fault. Men always find a reason to fight. That's not on her.
Rory: Depends. How hot is she?
Nate: (trying to sound non-nonchalant) I mean, she's alright. (whispering) She's really hot!

(Sara finds out that Damien Darhk has positioned himself to become Helen of Troy's agent.)
Sara: What the hell are you doing here?
Darhk: (innocently) Aside from collecting my 15%?

Helen: Please don't take me away.
Sara: I'm sorry, but this isn't your home, Helen.
Helen: Do you have any idea what it's like on the plains of Troy? This land of Hollywood is far from perfect, but at least these men aren't killing one another in my name.
(Several cars pull up in the driveway as men emerge carrying guns.)
Amaya: Not yet, anyway.

Helen: I don't want to overstep, but may I ask what gods gave you such incredible powers?
Zari: Uh - the gods didn't give us powers. Well, they maybe kinda did for Amaya and me but the Captain is a self-made woman. Sara trains ever day. She's a total bad ass.
Helen: She's a captain too? It gives me hope knowing that you come from a time where women have the same opportunities as men.
Zari: Yeaaaaaah. I wouldn't say that.

(Sara challenges Damien Darhk to a duel)
Darhk: You do realize I don't need magic to kill you.
Sara: Funny. That's what Oliver Queen said right before he killed you.


Dialogue Disasters

Darkh: (To Hedy Lamarr) Oh, I assure you, I am something far more ruthless than a Hollywood agent. (grins and whispers) If that's possible.


Continuity

The two studios fighting over Helen of Troy are Warner Brothers and K&G Pictures.

Jax is a fan of the Police Academy movies. Stein is not.

In the altered timeline, Helen of Troy goes on to star in Casablanca and The Philadelphia Story.

Hedy Lamarr was Martin Stein's boyhood crush.

Kuasa reveals herself to Amaya as a totem barer. She says The Water Totem has now merged with her.

Upon hearing the name Kuasa, Ray seems to recall his encounter with her during Season 2 of the Vixen animated series.

Clarissa Stein and Martin Stein gave each other a "pass" on their marriage vows - i.e. one acceptable affair with one person of their choosing, in order to spice things up. Clarissa chose Jean Claude Van Damme. Martin, thinking the whole thing silly, chose Hedy Lamarr.

With her career path changed by the anachronism, Hedy Lamarr never develops the technology which goes on to inform the technologies that power The Waverider.

Madame Elanor - the psychic from 305 - is confirmed to be Nora Darhk, Damien's daughter. She is revealed to have the same death-touch power and telekinesis he exhibited during Season 4 of Arrow. She also has the ability to catch and redirect the energy of Mick Rory's flame-thrower and the blasts from The ATOM suit.

Kuasa reveals herself to Amaya as her granddaughter before being stabbed and driven off by Helen of Troy.

Sara is placed in a coma by Gideon following Nora Darhk's attack. She is expected to recover fully, however.

Ray tries to tell Amaya about Kuasa but she asks to remain ignorant of everything regarding her. She says she knew nothing about Kuasa's existence - not even that Mari had an older sister.

After reading that the historical record said that Helen disappeared halfway through The Trojan War but that it didn't change anything, Zari drops Helen of Troy off on Themyscria in the same time period.


Location

Hollywood - 1937 AD
Themyscira - 1253 BC


The Fridge Factor

Averted with style, as the ladies among The Legends do all the heavy-lifting to save the day.


The Bottom Line

Compared to last week's episode of The Flash, Helen Hunt delivers its feminist message with subtlety and grace. It's still hugely problematic, built as it is on stereotypes of men being unable to function around a pretty face, even with the suggestion (but no confirmation) that it is all due to a magical gods-given curse. The flubs regarding Hedy Lamarr's life in the script somewhat undercut the care taken elsewhere to get the period details right. Still, for the sake of confirmation that The Amazons exist in The DCTVU and a portrait of Hedy Lamarr that focuses on her importance as a scientist rather than merely being "The Most Beautiful Woman In The World", it suffices. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 6 - When Harry Met Harry...

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




Plot

Armed with a new stretchy suit, Ralph is ready to help The Flash fight crime. And none too soon, as the two face a metahuman with the power to make inanimate objects come to life! Meanwhile, in their efforts to track down DeVoe, Cisco and Harry seek the help of The Council Of Wells' - a think-tank made of the various Harrison Wells of various realities.


Influences

The Firestorm comics of Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick (character of Black Bison), Rick and Morty (The concept of the Council of Ricks), the Fantastic Four comics of Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham (The concept of The Interdimensional Council of Reeds)


Goofs

The whole opening mugging scene is a prime example of what happens when the show goes too far trying to be funny. Ignoring the stupidity of a mugger trying to rob two people in broad daylight in an open area, why didn't Barry catch the bullets before or after they bounced off Ralph?

Ralph is a jackass but he does have a point about how Barry should have been fast enough to stop The Black Bison from escaping AND rescue her victim from the knight she was animating. This is made doubly clear when Barry later slaps power-suppressing cuffs on Black Bison in mid-monologue, rendering her powerless.

Considering how high-and-mighty Barry has been about law and order lately, it's totally unbelievable that he'd give Ralph a pass on returning The Black Bison necklace to the Sioux reservation when all of its assembled parts were legally stolen property in the eyes of the CCPD.

While it's perfectly in keeping with Ralph's character in the comics to not care about a secret identity, it seems odd that Ralph would be allowed to sit with a child that isn't his own in a hospital or that the parents of the girl his negligence hurt would allow a strange man to stay with their daughter without them being there. The girl also seems awfully non-nonchalant about a strange man watching over her.


Flash Facts


The episode title is a play on the 1989 comedy When Harry Met Sally...

While dealing with the mugger, Ralph suggests using his arm as a giant slingshot or turning himself into a big slinky. While these stunts are more commonly pulled by Plastic Man, Ralph has used his elongated limbs to shoot projectiles and reshaped himself into a spring before in the comics.

The idea of an inter-dimensional think-tank, as represented by The Council of Wells', is probably best known to fans of the show Rick and Morty. This show had The Council of Ricks - a governing body made up of the multiverse's various versions of super-scientist Rick Sanchez who took it upon themselves to police themselves while protecting themselves and the multiverse from other threats.

The Council of Ricks was itself a parody of an idea introduced in Jonathan Hickman's run on the comic book Fantastic Four - The Interdimensional Council of Reeds. This body was made up of various versions of super-scientist Reed Richards, who gave up all ties to their world in order to protect reality.

The Black Bison first appeared in Firestorm Vol. 2 #1 (June 1982) and was created by Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick. Representing a sort of evil and magical parallel to the scientific process that merged Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein to create Firestorm, The Black Bison was formed when the spirit of Bison-Black-As-Midnight-Sky possessed the body of his great-grandson, Black-Cloud-In-Morning (a.k.a. John Ravenhair).

Black-Cloud-In-Morning changed his name to John Ravenhair and sought a more secular life free of the traditions of his family, becoming a high-school teacher in Queens, New York. Despite this, John still took care of the aged Bison-Black-As-Midnight-Sky at his home and honored his great-grandfather's request to wear a special talisman that, unbeknownst to him, was an artifact of The Black Bison cult. When Bison-Black-As-Midnight-Sky died, shortly after performing a ritual to bind his spirit to the talisman, he was able to take control of John Ravenhair while he was taking his class to a history museum that housed several artifacts belonging to The Black Bison cult. With these artifacts Bison-Black-As-Midnight-Sky became the villain known as Black Bison and declared war on all those who had stolen the heritage of his people.

The DCTVU version of Black Bison has a lot in common with her comic-book counterpart, despite having a non-magical origin. Mina Chaytan has the metahuman power to animate effigies - i.e. realistic statues, suits of armor, mannequins, skeletons, etc. The comic book version of Black Bison also had this power, through the use of the magical Black Bison Coup-Stick. Mina Chaytan and the comic book Black Bison also share a common motivation - fighting back against those they see as exploiting the heritage of their people. 

Ralph gives Caitlin's measurements are 34-25-34. These correspond to those of actress Danielle Panabaker, according to her profile on HealthyCelebrity.com

As in the comics, Ralph's powers seem to have given him some degree of super-strength along with super-durability and elasticity. We see Ralph holding a speeding car in place with his bare hands.


Technobabble


Real hypnosis can be used to recover memories.

Based on an avulsuion and the claw marks left at the scene of Black Bison's first murder, Barry determines that the dead man was killed by a large, predatory animal with four-inch canines and a bite force of 5,000 PSI which weighed over one ton. No such animal exists, but a stone panther fits the bill.

Harry contacts The Council of Wells' using a multiverse holo-projector.

The granite panther statue is totally normal apart from being filled with traces of dark matter on a molecular level.

Caitlin guesses that Black Bison's powers work by leaving a psychic imprint on objects, creating a sort of telekinetic puppetering through a subconscious link. This power is limited in that she can only manipulate effigies - i.e. representations of living creatures.   

Cisco constructs the prototype for Ralph's super-suit from an unnamed material with an adaptive nano-weave structure that is malleable on a sub-molecular level.

Harrison Wolfgang Wells has a unique theory on the behavioral upbringings of nano-serial killers.

H. Lothario Wells had a unique theory on narcotics in molecular psychiatry.

The Council of Wells ultimately decide to find DeVoe by using the Bates-Novick method to determine why each of the bus metahumans developed they powers they did and combining that with Harrison Wolgang Wells' models of statistical elimination. H. Lothario Wells then suggests taking that information, enhancing it with a psych profile based on DeVoe's previous actions, using a predictive algorithm that he created and then running that information through Wells 2.0's quantum cerebral chip. This leads them to Clifford DeVoe - a professor of history who matches their psych profile by 92%.


Dialogue Triumphs


Barry: A superhero's first job is to protect people!
Ralph: Oh God. What's the second job? Long-winded lectures before noon?

The Mechanic: We need to talk.
The Thinker: The only way it can end... with my victory.
The Mechanic: What?
The Thinker: (sighs) Fine. Let us take the long way and continue.
The Mechanic: Today, for the first time, events will align that give Team Flash a chance to discover your identity. This is earlier than you anticipated!
The Thinker: It is of no concern.
The Mechanic: Like Hell! You know what's at risk! What we are doing? If you have miscalculated by even a decimal-
The Thinker: There is not a decimal, a fraction, an infinitesimal variable beyond my thought... beyond my mind. Even now, of the 7,798 variations of this argument, I have anticipated them all and know how it ends.
The Mechanic: Then how does it end?!
The Thinker: The only way it can end... with my victory.
(The Mechanic just stares at him and walks out of the room.)

Barry: Do you remember back in the day, when we wouldn't calmly consider a stone statue our prime suspect?
Joe: No. I actually don't.

(Harry kicks Wells The Gray off of their channel.)
Harry: Sorry. That was a... bad connection.
Wolfgang Wells: Ja, that was a terrible connection.
Wells 2.0: Good on ya! That dude was strange.
(Wells 2.0 brings a lizard on a stick up to his lips and takes a bite.)

Wells 2.0:  We had a Cisco on my Earth once. He was delicious.

(Cisco is running through the technical explanation for how he made a costume that can stretch with Ralph.)
Ralph: Don't know what that means. Don't care. Just yank the tarp off. I'm ready for my super-suit!
Cisco: Ralph... this tarp IS your super-suit.

Mina Chaytan: That which you call "a peace pipe" is no such thing. It is a sacred gift for prayer from Ptesan-Wi - bringer of the seven scared rights - The White Buffalo Calf Woman. You'd never hang a Christian cross upside down. Or lay an American flag on the floor. Yet you destroy that which is wakan - what is holy - by letting it touch your filthy flesh. But I am here to teach you the price for your impudence.


Continuity


Cisco explains that he's unable to use his powers to see the bus being hit by the dark matter wave because of the interference caused by the dark matter wave itself.

Dr. Sharon Finkel - Iris and Barry's therapist - last seen in 402 - makes an appearance, agreeing to hypnotize Ralph.

Ralph has an uncanny ability for guessing women's measurements with one glance.

While under hypnosis, Ralph sees The Weeper from 405. He identifies two women and cannot see their faces but is able to guess their measurements (34-32-36 and 38-34-32, respectively). He also sees a figure wearing a jacket with a black bison emblem on the back.

Cisco Ramon is 5'7".

The Harrison Wells of Earth 12 is Harrison Wolfgang Wells. He is German, holds four PhDs and has authored a book called Everything Is Meaningless, So Why Did I Buy This Book? In mannerisms and personality, he resembles the character of Dieter from the Saturday Night Live Sprockets skits.

The Harrison Wells of Earth of Earth 47 is a billionaire inventor, publishing tycoon and general champion of free speech named H. Lothario Wells. He dresses like High Hefner, is an apparent womanizer and has the mannerisms of actor Matthew McConaughey.

The Harrison Wells of Earth 22 is Wells 2.0 - an Australian cyborg from a world where man and machine had to merge to survive the apocalypse. His mannerisms and appearance seem to be based on the Mad Max series of movies.

There is also a Harrison Wells - Wells The Gray - who resembles Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings books. We do not find out what Earth this Harrison Wells comes from, if he is a real wizard or just some loony crashing the Council of Wells meeting channel.

Wells 2.0 apparently ate the Cisco Ramon of Earth 22. He was delicious.

Caitlin's measurements are 34-25-34.

The fifth of the bus metas is a woman named Mina Chaytan. She is a Native American of the Sioux-Lakota tribe. She was a professor of cultural anthropology at Central City University before she was fired following her arrest on charges of breaking in and entering, trespassing and burglary while trying to "reclaim" several Souix artifacts from a museum.

On Earth 22, apologizing is a crime punishable by banishment under Krung The Face-Crusher.

Ralph sent the reassembled Black Bison necklace back to the Sioux reservation.

Raised in South Africa and educated at the University of Oxford and The University of Johannesburg, Clifford DeVoe is a professor of history at The University of Central City. He lives at 43 Hibbard Lane. His specialty is the history of warfare and military strategy with a research focus on the early Middle Ages.

When Team Flash arrives at 43 Hibbard Lane, they find The Mechanic and The Thinker, apparently posing as Husband and Wife. Clifford DeVoe appears to be a middle-aged man confined to a wheelchair.


Untelevised Adventures

Killer Frost apparently took control of Caitlin's body to go to Burning Man.


The Bottom Line


A ultimately harmless and fluffy piece of filler that goes too far in trying to course-correct the series' dark tone in Season Three. It's telling that all the characters given more serious material to tackle this year are barely in this episode (i.e. Caitlin, Iris, etc.) and the running gag with all the various versions of Harrison Wells is finally starting to wear thin.

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 6 - Midvale

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




Plot

Desperately in need of comfort following her broken engagement, Alex travels with Kara back to her hometown of Midvale. While there, Kara recalls the incident from their childhood which turned two strangers into sisters.


Influences

The TV series Riverdale (murder mystery in a small-town high-school setting), Smallville (teenager with superpowers in a small town dealing with mysterious events, mention of Chloe and the "Wall of Weird"), Nancy Drew novels (teenage girl detective adventures) and the movie Twilight (the visuals of Kara jumping through the woods)


Goofs

Even in a small-town high-school, it's unlikely that Kara and Alex would be in the same history class, given the two-year gap in their relative ages.

With long-lingering shots, the direction gives away the identity of the killer long before the audience has a chance to deduce it based on the clues offered.


Performances


Izabela Vidovic and Olivia Nikkanen do a phenomenal job as the younger versions of Kara and Alex.

It's a brief thing, but David Harewood gets a good quick moment of silent acting looking very broken up after he changes back to his Hank Henshaw form after talking to Kara as "Noel Neill". It really hits you in that moment how seriously, even back then, J'onn took his promise to look after Jeremiah Danvers' children. It's especially touching given that "Noel" said she couldn't imagine what it was like to lose your whole world in the same way Kara did when J'onn doesn't have to imagine it yet can't give Kara any comfort beyond a sympathetic ear.


Super Trivia


The episode title - Midvale - comes from the city where Alex and Kara grew up in The DCTVU.

In the DC Comics Universe, Midvale is a small suburb just outside of Metropolis. In the Silver Age, Midvale was the town Kara Zor-El settled in upon her arrival on Earth, where she lived in the Midvale Orphanage until she was adopted by The Danvers. Most of the Supergirl movie was set in Midvale as well, where Kara Zor-El attended the Midvale Boarding School.

The building used for the exterior shots of Midvale High in this episode - Templeton Secondary School in Vancouver - was also used to depict Smallville High on the series Smallville and is currently used to depict Riverdale High on the show Riverdale.

Mention is made of Lex Luthor being brought to justice by Superman for selling something called "Lexosuits.". In the classic comics, the power armor which Lex Luthor constructed in order to fight Superman physically was often called a Lexosuit as a play on exo-suit, which is used to refer to any form of powered exo-skeleton.

Mention is made of Superman wearing red underwear over his tights in this episode - a detail his costume lacked when we saw him during Supergirl's second season. This is, of course, a classic detail of Superman's original costume, mirroring the modesty garments worn by the circus strongmen Superman's classic costume was modeled on in the 1930s. The New 52 redesign of Superman's costume lost these trunks, opting instead for simple blue pants.

Kara's first friend as a teenager, Kenny Li, may be a double nod to the original Superman comics. In the comics, before being adopted by The Danvers family, Kara Zor-El used the alias "Linda Lee" while living at the Midvale Orphanage. Kenny Braveman was the name of a boy born on the same day that the rocket carrying baby Kal-El to Earth landed in Smallville. Kenny and Clark would become friends at a young age, rivals in high-school and Kenny would eventually become the villain Conduit in his efforts to prove himself Clark's better.

The sequence in which Kara jumps through the forests of Midvale seems to have been inspired by a similar sequence in the film adaptation of the book Twilight.

Kara makes reference to Clark having a friend named Chloe who loves weird tech stuff and has a "wall of weird". This is a nod to Chloe Sullivan - a character from the TV series Smallville.

The FBI agent who tries to scare Kara straight regarding using her powers gives her name as Noel Neill. This is the name of the actress who played Lois Lane in the 1948 Republic Superman serials and the 1952 television series Adventures of Superman. As a double-play on the reference, she is played by actress Erica Durance, who played Lois Lane on Smallville.


Technobabble


Kenny Li developed Galileo - a computer program that took images from his telescope and capture it as digital photographs on his laptop.


Dialogue Triumphs


Eliza: This is the mom fine print - when your child is in agony, you show up regardless the hour.

Eliza: You have the most wide-open heart in the world for other peopleBut when you feel weak, you punish yourself for it. You've had an awful year-
Kara: And I'm feeling a lot better. I promise.
Eliza: You don't have to be better. You're allowed to be a mess.
Kara: But too many people depend on me.
Eliza: That is a great excuse.

Kara; Do you want to talk about it? It might help.
Alex: (sighs) You don't get to do that.
Kara: What?
Alex: You don't get to shut down - what - for six months after Mon-El goes? And then, now, sit here, and you tell me to talk.
Kara: It will get better.
Alex: Yeah? Are you better?

Young Kara: I remember my parents! I remember Krypton! I remember being alone in that pod and not knowing if I was going to see anyone ever again! And then I landed here! And no one asked me if I wanted these powers. But I have them! And all I want to do is help people with what I've been given and no one will let me!

Sheriff Collins: You're real brave. Not even screaming. Not that anyone can hear you.
Young Alex: Someone's listening right now.
(Cut to Kara, flying at super-speed towards the high-school.)


Continuity


J'onn loans his spaceship/vintage car - last seen in 304 - to Alex and Kara for their trip.

Kara and Alex shared a room as teenagers.

Alex was in AP Math during her senior year.

Kryptonian children study calculus at the age of four.

Kara found math and science easy in school. She found history pointless.

Superman first brought Lex Luthor to justice sometime ten years earlier, because of Lex selling something called Lexosuits.

Alex was part of the cool crowd and hung out with the high-school quarterback.

Kara only had one friend in high-school - a nerdy kid named Kenny Li.

Kenny secretly tutored Alex in calculus.

Kenny stumbled across multiple crimes using his Galileo program. These included the quarterback smoking pot, a student (Josie, Alex's best friend) having an affair with a teacher (Mr. Bernard) and the Midvale sheriff (Sheriff Collins) taking bribes.

J'onn visited a young Kara in the guise of FBI Agent Noel Neill, modeling her on the appearance of Kara's mother.

Clark's friend, Chloe, helps Kara with getting the pictures off of Kenny's laptop.

Kara and Alex were given Kenny's telescope as a gift from Kenny's parents for finding his killer. It still is set up on the balcony at Eliza Danver's house.

Alex was outcast from the popular crowd after outing Josie's affair with a teacher and the quarterback's pot-smoking.

Kara discovered after the fact that Kenny had taken a picture of her flying but never shown it to anyone.


Location

The town of Midvale, ten years earlier.


The Bottom Line


Much better than most flash-back episodes and easily the best episode of Supergirl's third season. The actors playing young Alex and Kara are perfectly cast, truly looking and acting like younger versions of Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist. The actual mystery at the heart of the episode is blindingly obvious but the acting more than makes up for it.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Batgirl And The Birds of Prey #16 - A Review

The Birds of Prey have picked up some unexpected back-up in dealing with the plague that is slowly killing the men of Gotham City. Not only have Batwoman, Orphan and The Spoiler offered their aid but Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Catwoman have joined them along with Wonder Woman! Even with such formidable assistance, the battle ahead of them will not be easy - particularly once they learn of the new organization that stands against them!


(Click On The Image Above To See The Full Two-Page Spread!)

My comments and complaints about Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey #15 remain the same in considering this issue. The script by The Benson Sisters is fantastic and does a wonderful job of capturing the personalities of all the heroes and villains involved. The artwork by Roge Antonio is lazy and ill-defined, with a coloring job by Marcelo Maiolo that leaves all the characters save Huntess with the same washed-out white skin-tone as Harley Quinn. Read it for the story. Suffer through the artwork.

The Final Analysis: 5 out of 10. Again, that's purely for the story.