Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 3, Episode 2 - Freakshow

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




Plot

Traveling to the year 1870 in search of an anachronism, The Legends discover that the infamous P.T. Barnum has acquired a genuine saber-toothed tiger for his traveling circus.  Their accidentally releasing and enlarging the tiger in their efforts to return it to its own time turns out to be the least of their problems, after Barnum decides that some of The Legends would be fantastic additions to his freak-show.


Influences

John Ostrander's Suicide Squad (idea of Vixen losing control of her emotions when using her powers) and countless other science-fiction stories in which super-powered beings are forced into performing in a carnival.


Goofs

Gideon notes early on that P.T. Barnum's reputation as an unethical huckster is greatly exaggerated in modern times. Yet the entire plot of this episode is dependent on the idea that P.T. Barnum would hold people against their will and force them to perform in his freakshows at gun point.


Artistry

Good fight choreography on the Sara vs. Sharpe fight.


Trivia Of Tomorrow

When considering which anachronism to tackle first, the team ponders traveling to the sinking of The Titanic. Professor Stein is oddly adamant about not setting foot on the infamously doomed ship, saying that "whoever built that ship ought to be shot." This is a riff on the fact that Stein's actor - Victor Garber - played Thomas Andrews Jr, The Chief Architect of The Titanic, in the 1997 film Titanic.

Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810-1890) was an American entrepreneur and politician, who achieved fame and fortune through his management of various traveling carnivals and museums. Though primarily remembered today for his "freak shows", P.T. Barnum was a reputable manager who represented Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind as well as the midget General Tom Thumb. Indeed, he is fondly remembered in his home town of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he served one term as mayor and two terms as a representative in the state legislature.

Barnum's crowning achievement came in 1871 when he established P.T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Circus. Or, as it was more commonly promoted, The Greatest Show on Earth. He would join forces with fellow circus owners James Bailey and James Hutchinson in 1881, forming the show that would eventually be rebranded Barum and Bailey's Greatest Show On Earth in 1887. This circus, in turn, was bought by The Ringling Brothers in 1907, who combined it with their own circus in 1919, forming a traveling circus that would last until May 21, 2017.

As Gideon notes, Barnum is often erroneously credited with the quote, "There's a sucker born every minute," and he would never have said anything to insult his patrons. This is born out by the historical record, where despite his reputation as a shameless self-promoter, Barnum was by most accounts a kindly man who preached honest business practices and practiced what he preached. One example of this comes from a less well-known Barnum quote - "Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business."

P.T. Barnum is played by actor Billy Zane. Perhaps most famous for playing the role of Cal Hockley in the 1997 film Titanic, Zane is no stranger to comic book adaptations. He famously played The Phantom in the 1996 film adaptation of the classic pulp comic and provide the voices for both Jason Blood and The Demon Etrigan in Batman: The Animated Series.

At one point, a group of acrobats can be seen in the background, practicing in red leotards with green leggings which resemble the costume of Batman's sidekick, Robin. This could be a nod to The Flying Graysons - a family of circus acrobats whose ranks included Dick Grayson - the first Robin.

The strongman in P.T. Barnum's show wears a costume that seems to have been inspired by the DC Comics hero B'wana Beast.

One of the odder creations to come out of DC Comics' Silver Age (and that is saying something!), B'wana Beast first appeared in Showcase #66 (January 1967) and was created by Bob Haney and Mike Sekowsky. Abandoning the life of the idle rich promised by his millionaire father, Michael Payson Maxwell traveled to Africa to become a park ranger on one of the animal preserves there. After his plane crashed, Mike took refuge in a cave where he became stronger by drinking the rainwater he found there. He fought a giant red ape, subdued it and the ape gave Mike a helmet which gave him the power to talk to and control animals. The ape explained that Mike had been chosen to be the champion and protector of all Africa. The helmet also gave Mike the power to merge two animals together, creating chimera - hybrid creatures with the traits of both animals.

Writer Grant Morrison would revamp the concept of B'wana Beast in his Animal Man series, noting the many, many problems with a white outsider being declared the savior of Africa and using a word which means "Master" in Swahili as part of his superhero code name. Mike would later pass his helmet on to a South African activist named Dominic Mndawe, who took up the name Freedom Beast.

Morrison also established Mike Maxwell as being employed by a nature preserve in Zambesi - the home nation of the heroine Vixen.

Mick uses the word "embiggen" to describe what Ray did to the saber-tooth tiger. Embiggen is a made-up word, first used on the Lisa The Iconoclast episode of The Simpsons. It has since then invaded the common parlance of Internet smart-asses, where it is used to describe the process of making something bigger. While not in Webster's Dictionary, many find embiggen to be a perfectly cromulent word.

P.T. Barnum refers to Nate as "The Man of Steel" and then says that phrase is very catchy.  The Man of Steel is, of course, a common nickname for Superman.

Sara identifies herself as a dog person, saying that she likes her pets dumb and loyal. Perhaps not coincidentally, Sara's actress, Caity Lotz, owns a French bulldog named Beezlee, whom frequently appears in her social media.

The idea of the wielder of The Tantu Totem lose control of their emotions while using their powers first appeared in John Ostrander's Suicide Squad. There, the Mari McCabe version of Vixen lost her temper while fighting a drug kingpin called Cujo and killed him.


Technobabble

Ray reverse-engineers the Time Bureau technology that Mick stole from Rip in the previous episode. This gives The Legends the ability to detect and track anachronisms.

The hyper-molecular compressor is a more powerful and portable version of the technology that allows The ATOM suit to shrink. Essentially, it's a shrink ray.

Ray recognizes the odd feces at the carnival as being that of a feline but not a species he ever encountered before. The color and viscosity indicate a carnivorous diet but the meat was tough - perhaps elephant or rhino hide - and took a long time to pass.

The Time Bureau rate anachronisms on a 1-10 scale of severity. The saber-tooth tiger in P.T. Barnum's circus, while contained, is a Level 1. Enlarged by Ray and set loose, the severity is elevated to Level 4. When Jax and Ray are captured and forced into Barnum's freakshow, the severity increases to Level 6. It goes up to Level 8 when Amaya and Nate are captured.

Title 16, Section 3035 of The Global Treaty on Time Travel gives The Time Bureau the authority to arrest rogue time travelers who endanger the timeline. The Treaty was negotiated between The United Nations and Rip Hunter.


Dialogue Triumphs

Jax: You built a shrink ray!
Ray: I'm not particularly fond of that name. (dramatically) I'm calling it the hyper-molecular compressor! It's a more powerful and portable version of the tech from my suit.
Nate: So, a shrink ray?
Ray: Essentially.

Mick: If I see a clown, I'm out of here.
Jax: What? You afraid of clowns?
Mick: (hesitantly) No... I... just don't like their stupid faces... and funny shoes and... razor sharp teeth.

P.T. Barnum: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome, one and all, to The Best Show on Earth!
(The crowd cheers)
P.T. Barnum:
That's a working title!

(Nate tries and fails to use his powers.)
Nate: I must be dehydrated, man. This never happened to me before, I swear!
Amaya: Where have I heard that one before?
Nate: Not from me!

(Amaya explains that she left Nate to save her granddaughter's life.)
Nate: Why didn't you say anything? I hated you for what you did.
Amaya: I needed you to hate me so that you would move on. If you knew how much it hurt me...
Nate: ... I would have found you.
Amaya: I wanted to protect my granddaughter. And I wanted to protect you.
Nate: Well, no offense, Amaya, but considering we're both stuck in a rhino cage, I'd say your plan backfired.

Sara: Get Rory. You two have to save the others.
Stein: Wait - the two of us? Are you mad?!
Sara: You can do this. I have faith in you.
Stein: Why?!

P.T. Barnum: We had it all! We had action! We had romance! We had flaming things in the sky! You wait until next week's show!


Continuity

Nate and Amaya were living together in Central City 2017.

Nate's favorite food as a child was chocolate-covered donuts.

Amaya still cooks from scratch. Of all the modern conveniences she adapted to, cooking from a mix is not among them.

Amaya left Nate on his birthday, after seeing a news broadcast regarding her granddaughter, the current Vixen, who was caught on video fighting crime in Detroit.

Ray perfects the new version of his shrinking technology that he was working on while at Upswipes.

Mick Rory has a violent hatred (not fear, mind you!) of clowns.

As an Eagle Scout, Ray can interpret over 175 kinds of feces.

Ray is allergic to cats.

Sara retrieves Amaya from 1942, since nobody on the current team has experience handling animals.

Nate is shown to have an account on Upswipes.

Sara recognizes the Time Bureau agent spying on The Legends as Gary - a.k.a. the agent she slept with and stole the badge of in Starling City. His agent number is 1066.

Since The Legends involvement, the anachronism around Barnum's carnival in 1870 has grown from a Level 1 to a Level 6.  After Amaya and Nate are captured, it rises to a Level 8.

Nate cannot use his powers to transform into living steel when he is dehydrated.

Amaya didn't return to Zambesi in 1942 right away. She went to Detroit in 2017 first to watch Mari, her granddaughter, in action.

Amaya confirms that her decision to leave Nate had nothing to do with him and everything to do with making sure that her amazing granddaughter, who was saving so many people, came into being.

Rip Hunter confirmed that time had not yet solidified and that Mari would disappear if Amaya stayed in 2017 for too long.

Ava Sharpe refers to Confederate zombies (204), Quentin Turnbull's cronies (206) and speedsters (Eobard Thawne throughout Season Two) as previous menaces The Legends fought.

Ava Sharpe has been with The Time Bureau for five years and extensively studied The Legends' previous adventures.

Sharpe is able to hold her own against Sara in a fight and freely admits that Rip should have recruited her for The Time Bureau.

Sara is a dog person and thinks cats are jerks.

Sharpe lets it slip that Rip is letting The Legends run loose because he thinks they're needed to fight somebody but doesn't say who. (This is a reference to Mallus, first mentioned in 301.)

Stein knows how to make balloon animals and is a surprisingly talented clown and mime.

The director of The Time Bureau is named Bennett. Gideon is able to send reports directly to them.

Sara keeps a framed picture of herself with Laurel and Oliver in her office on The Waverider.

Amaya started having trouble controlling her temper when using her powers one month earlier, and refers to the final scene of 301, where we see her kill a team of Belgian soldiers.

Ray has a problem with returning library books on time.

Sara tells the rest of the team what she figured out about Rip hiding the existence of some great evil that is coming from them.

The final scene shows the resurrection of Kuasa - Mari McCabe's older sister and one of the villains of the Vixen animated series - by a black-robed woman, who identifies herself only as a follower of Mallus.


Locations

Central City - early 2017 (flashback to Amaya and Nate's apartment)
Wisconsin - 1870
Zambesi, M'Changa Province - 1942


Untelevised Adventures

Amaya spied on Mari in Detroit in 2017.


The Fridge Factor

Averted hard, as Sara and Amaya seem to be the only competent members of the team in this episode.


The Crisis Factor

It beggars belief that Nate, Ray and Jax would be stupid enough to use a modern smart phone in an 1870s bar, much less agree to show P.T. Barnum their powers in action. 

Stein's plan to disguise himself as a clown (somehow knocking one out and stealing his clothes in the process) in order to enrage Mick into creating a distraction so he can get close to Jax may be the most insane plan in the show's history.


The Bottom Line

As P.T. Barnum says, this show had everything "action... romance... and flaming things in the sky." What it doesn't have, however, is an ounce of coherence, with Gideon noting that Barnum was not the unethical huckster legend suggests only for the episode to portray him as exactly that. The only thing that holds the episode together is the charisma of the cast and even that is sorely tested when everyone is written to be far stupider than they should be. Here's hoping next week's show is better.

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 2 - Mixed Signals

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



Plot

Barry has his hands full when confronted with a new metahuman who has the power to control technology and relationship trauma, as Iris insists on the two of them entering couples' therapy. Cisco is in similarly dire straits, having to deal with an angry Gypsy after he ditches their date night to tend to his duties at STAR Labs.


Influences

The film Risky Business (Barry's dance scene while fixing breakfast is a tribute to the movie), The Flash comics of Mike Baron (character of Kilg%re), Geoff Johns (character of Warden Wolfe) and Mark Waid (Barry's watching TV at super-speed, exploration of relationship problems caused by moving faster than significant other) and the Green Arrow/Black Canary comics of Andrew Kreisberg (couple with a secret identity who work together have to talk in code during a couples' therapy session)


Goofs

The opening sequence in which Kilgoree kills a man by repeatedly stopping an elevator just looks goofy as all get out, even before we see the scowling Kilgore trying to look menacing in his hoodie.

Given Gypsy's workaholic personality when she was introduced, it doesn't ring true that she'd be angry about Cisco having to put life-saving work ahead of their date. Indeed, it seems she'd be more angry about him blowing off work to be with her, regardless of the holiday.

Great play is made of the fact that Ramsey Deacon wasn't in Central City at the time of The Particle Accelerator Explosion so some outside source must have given him super-powers. This is not the first time Joe and Barry have encountered this, as Deathbolt - the villain Team Arrow confronted in A319 - somehow acquired super-powers despite being in Opal City on the night of The Particle Accelerator Explosion.


Performances

Grant Gustin does a fantastic job of playing the hyper-happy to be alive again Barry Allen with just the right note of Type-A personality to make his sudden change seem natural and not just a forced character note to create drama.


Artistry


The sequence in which The Flash takes an out-of-control car apart at super-speed is well executed.

Even more impressive is the sequence where Barry catches the pieces of a fragmentation grenade in mid-explosion and disposes of them safely.


Flash Facts

Much like Supergirl, this season of The Flash has apparently abandoned the classic introduction setting up the show, with the lines "My name is Barry Allen and I am The Fastest Man Alive..."

Ramsey "Kilgore" Deacon is an original character, unique to the DCTVU. His ability to psychically manipulate electronics, however, is a fairly common power-set in DC Comics. Perhaps the most famous technopath in the comics is Victor "Cyborg" Stone - a member of The New Teen Titans and founding member of The Justice League in the New 52 reality. Other prominent technopaths include Brainiac, Gizmo, the Cyborg Superman Hank Henshaw, Metallo and Kilg%re.

The original Kilg%re first appeared in The Flash #3 (Vol. 2) (August 1987) and was created by Mike Baron and Jackson Guice. The original Kilg%re was an electro-mechano-organic lifeform who required energy to live. Effectively, Kilg%re was a sentient computer virus who could control any machine it passed through and even take over human bodies. Originally only perceivable by beings moving at super-speed, The Flash fought it with the help of Cyborg. It would later reemerge to menace The Justice League

More recently, Kilg%re has appeared in the DC Rebirth Cyborg series, where it has formed an alliance with Gizmo and The Calculator against Victor Stone and built a giant robot body for itself.

The DCTVU version of Kilg%re is an piece of malware developed by Ramsey Deacon which was stolen by three other programmers. Deacon later takes the name Kilgore after developing the power to sense the presence of nearby technology and control it mentally.

The sequence in which The Flash saves one of Deacon's victims by taking a car apart while it is in motion is a classic stunt from The Flash comics.

Barry makes reference to the HBO series Silicon Valley.

At one point, when Kilgore is controlling the new Flash suit, Barry's armor inflates, causing him to appear incredibly round and overweight. This is a visual nod to The Flash #115, where a special gun caused The Flash to absorb moisture and gain weight, swelling up like a balloon.

This episode marks the first appearance of Warden Wolfe - the man in charge of Iron Heights prison. The penultimate scene of the episode show Wolfe menacingly staring at Ramsey Deacon in his cell - a hint at his true sinister nature.

First appearing in The Flash: Iron Heights (August 2001) and created by Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver, Warden Geoffrey Wolfe is a no-nonsense lawman who hates criminals and vigilantes with a passion, particularly metahumans. Ruling the Iron Heights prison with an iron fist, Wolfe adopts extreme measures to keep his charges in-line. This made him unpopular with idealistic cops and The Flash but they reluctantly were forced to accept Wolfe's rule as he was effective in keeping The Rogues locked up. A metahuman himself, Wolfe has the power to cause the muscles of people close to him to seize up, rendering them unable to move.

Warden Wolfe was reintroduced into The DC Comics Rebirth Universe in The Flash #32 - a comic which came out the week before this episode originally aired.


Technobabble


Barry notes that the impact marks on the ceiling and the repeated lateral stress fissures on the frame of the elevator indicate that Kurt Weaver didn't just drop to his death in the elevator - he was shaken to death.

Cisco says the quantum algorithm of The Cortex at STAR Labs should be able to decrypt the hacker code he discovered in the elevator.

Cisco builds Barry a new suit. In addition to being a brighter shade of red, the suit is equipped with self-repairing armor, nano-liquid circuitry, full-spectrum scanning and a custom HUD (Head-Up Display) filled with maps, building schematics and menus for Barry's favorite restaurants. It also contains energy weapons that shoot from Barry's palms, a built-in defibrillator (like the original costume), a dead-lock feature that prevents the costume from being removed (so a villain can't find out his secret identity), a self-destruct sequence (The Babel Protocol) and an inflatable raft to prevent Barry from drowning if he loses his speed while running on water.

One thing that Cisco did not build into the suit? An oxygen tank.

Caitlin determines that the virus code used by the hacker looks like an organic virus with a digital sub-based.. This leads the team to conclude that their hacker is a metahuman whose powers let him control machines.

Most organic viruses mutate in order to avoid being killed by antibodies.

An injection of glucose can be used to treat insulin shock.

Cisco determines that Deacon's powers are derived from the binary code in his DNA. He and Caitlin develop a compound encoded with a numerical string pattern of ones and zeroes to invert the order of the code.

The Thinker is able to extrapolate the ending of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony after one morning's study of his 600 other works.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Caitlin, Iris and Wally are facing the opening breach. Caitlin and Iris have guns raised. Suddenly Cisco runs into the room and waves his hands, standing between them and the breach.)
Cisco: Hold your fire!
(Gypsy jumps from the breach and smiles at the crowd.)
Gypsy: Hey.
(Iris lowers her gun but looks somewhat annoyed.)
Cisco: (To Gypsy) Hey. You want to give me a little more notice next time? You know people who want to kill us come through here, right?
Gypsy: Oh. My bad, guys.
Wally: Cisco, that was.... very heroic of you to just jump in, protecting Gypsy like that. It's pretty impressive.
Cisco: Dude, I'm protecting you from her! She would have vaporized you guys.
(Wally and Caitlin both scoff.)
Gypsy: He's not lying.
(Gypsy makes a gun-shooting gesture at them.)
Cisco: As you were.

Dr. Finkel: So what would you say your goals are for this session?
Iris: Uh, well... I just want to know that Barry hears my concerns about our issues with miscommunication.
(As Iris is talking, Barry's phone starts to vibrate. He pulls it from his pocket and looks at it.)
Barry: I've go to go!
Iris: You've got to go?!
(Barry shows her his phone. Joe's Panic Alarm app has gone off.)
Iris: He's got to go.
Barry: Yeah. 
(Barry starts to get up.)
Iris: Umm...
Barry: Sorry. Ah...
Dr. Finkel: (stunned) This was...
Barry: Sorry.
(Barry leaves the room. Dr. Finkel begins taking notes again.)
Iris: You're going to write down that he ran out of here, aren't you?
Dr. Finkel: ... yes!

(Shelia is going out of her way to antagonize Ramsey.)
Shelia: No! I'm not going to apologize because after four years you finally found some balls!
Ramsey: I found something else. Something I never had with my family. Or at MIT. Or with any of you. 
Shelia: Really? And what was that?
Ramsey: Power.
(Shelia suddenly has a pained expression as Ramsey looks at the insulin pump strapped to her side.)
Ramsey: (with mock sympathy)
Oh, you're not still diabetic are you?
(Shelia looks to her side in horror as she begins to gasp for breath.)

Cisco: You're mad at me!
Gypsy: I said it was fine.
Cisco: No, no, no! Rule Number One: When a girl says "it's fine", it is not fine!
Caitlin: Amen!
(Cisco and Gypsy just stare at her.)
Caitlin: I'm going to go.


Continuity


Cisco sets up a 1,000x sped-up loop of all his favorite shows so he could catch up on what he missed after six months in The Speed Force. This suggests that Barry was not aware of what was happening in the world outside of The Speed Force.

Barry is a Game of Thrones fan.

Cisco is still a CCPD Tech Consultant a.k.a. "The Weird Tech Guy", according to Joe.

Caitlin says that she and Ronnie went through couples' therapy together after they started working together.

Caitlin has to struggle to keep herself from changing to Killer Frost in moments of stress, such as an alarm going off.

When Barry and Iris are in the waiting room, Barry sees a newspaper whose front-page headline reads "Mayor Queen Is The Green Arrow". He looks to Iris questioningly about this and she hisses they will talk about it later. This is a nod to the events of A601, where Oliver Queen's secret identity is revealed in the press.

Cisco discovers the common link between the victims - they were all the programmers behind a malware package called Kilg%re. Ramsey Deacon was screwed out of a fortune by his three business partners and is now out for revenge.

Wally West likes punk music.

One-One-One Day is an Earth-19 holiday that seems to be equivalent to Valentine's Day on Earth One. It is meant to be spent with a person you feel that your soul unites with to form one soul. Hence the name, because One Soul + One Soul = One Soul. Gypsy wanted to spend One-One-One Day with Cisco.

Earth 19 also has a holiday called St. Shaquille O'Neal's Day. It apparently does not have Christmas or, at least, does not feature Santa Claus as part of the Christmas celebration, as Gypsy mocks the idea of a man breaking into your home and eating your cookies.

Barry is now fast enough to throw a lighting bolt at himself.

Ramsey Deacon is imprisoned in a special cell at Iron Heights behind three layers of signal-dampening walls. He is not allowed any contact with any kind of electronics - not even electrical lighting. He is only allowed to read paper books by candlelight and laments the loss of his Kindle.

Joe and Barry determine that Ramsey Deacon wasn't in Central City at the time of The Particle Accelerator Explosion four years earlier. Deacon admits that he was given his superpowers from another source but says nothing else, save that the police are about to have their hands full.

Schubert's Unfinished Eighth Symphony was a childhood favorite of The Mechanic.

The Thinker and The Mechanic refer to Ramsey Deacon as "Subject One". He is apparently the first of a dozen metahumans they need to locate.


The Bottom Line

Largely entertaining, despite a weak script dependent on far too much forced drama. Kilgore fails to be a menacing villain and most of the sequences - from the opening elevator scene to Barry's fighting his own suit - are directed in a goofy fashion that reminds one of the bad parts of Richard Lester's Superman 2. Still, the cast manages to carry on and it's nice to see Joe and Wally being given something to do for a change and I like the new, more confident Caitlin Snow.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #10 - An Advanced Review/Preview

Leaving his companions Gabby and Cindy in the charge of his old friend Sarah Jane Smith, The Doctor left Earth to follow the trail of an unusual vortex anomaly. Having finally cornered the source of the odd energies, The Doctor makes a horrific discovery - the anomaly is a future version of Gabby, transformed into a time-sensitive entity of pure psychic energy! Can The Doctor avert Gabby's future before her future self kills him? Or worse yet, creates the mother of all paradoxes by killing her past self?







Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #10 brings the Vortex Butterflies storyline to a satisfying conclusion. The story is the culmination of the epic tale Nick Abadzis crafted around Gabby Gonzales and it is as touching as it is thrilling. Brought to life beautifully by Giorgia Sposito and Arianna Florean, the only reason not to read this issue is if you haven't read any of the series to date - a mistake that should be corrected as soon as possible.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. A must-read for all Doctor Who fans!



Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor: Year Three #10 will be released on October 18, 2017. 

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 2 - Triggers

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



Plot

A psychic bank robber menaces National City, using her powers to trap people within their own worst fears. As Kara figures out a way to fight this new villain, James rankles under Lena's sudden ownership of CatCo Worldwide Media and the mysterious super-strong single-mother named Samantha starts a new job.


Influences

The 1982 The Daring Adventures Of Supergirl series (presence of Psi) and the 2000 film Unbreakable (a parent with superpowers denies this while dealing with a child who thinks they are a superhero)


Goofs


Kara's refusal to tell Alex and J'onn that Psi is attacking her fears seems horribly out of character for the usually honest Kara.

On that note, it beggars belief, brilliant as Lena is, that she hasn't put two and two together regarding Kara's secret identity yet.

Why does Kara open up her shirt in the elevator? Shouldn't there be security cameras that could catch her doing this, even if she does change at super-speed?

The slow-motion effects when Psi starts controlling the construction worker manning the wrecking ball seem forced.

As a character, Ruby seems to be written as far younger than a middle-school age student.


Performances

Melissa Benoist does a fantastic job conveying Kara's panic attacks.

Chyler Leigh's wordless reactions to Jeremy Jordan's reassurances that everything is fine when she finds Winn and Kara in the lab together.


Artistry

The opening montage showing Kara, Sam, Maggie and Alex getting ready for work in the morning is well-shot and set to an interesting song.

The music and camera distortion used when Kara starts to freak out after being attacked by Psi are quite disturbing and efficiently used.

The elevator sequence, which ends with a desperate Kara breaking through the roof of the Catco Worldwide Media building in order to get out into the open air, is particularly well-realized.

The script does a fantastic job of establishing Kara's reactions as typical of an anxiety attack and Winn's telling her that it's nothing to be ashamed of is a beautiful moment.



Super Trivia

The episode does not open with the usual opening with Kara explaining how she came to Earth as a teenager.

As Samantha says, there have been reports of people displaying temporary super-strength in order to lift heavy objects to save lives. Sadly, there's little verifiable evidence for these stories and even less success at replicating these effects in a controlled environment. While it is possible for a "flight-or-fight" response to temporarily increase a person's physical attributes thanks to deadened pain responses and an adrenaline rush, the factor of the increase is relatively minute. So as much as we'd like to believe the urban legend of the 120 lbs. mother dead-lifting a flipped SUV off of her baby, there's no basis in reality for it.

The character of Psi was created by Paul Kupperberg and Carmine Infantino and first appeared in The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1 (November 1982). Originally a girl named Gayle Marsh, Psi developed psychic powers at the age of 12. Following the death of her parents, she was raised by a scientist who warned her of the approach of an enemy called The Decay. She fought Supergirl several times, thinking Kara Zor-El was The Decay in disguise. Eventually, Psi realized that the man who raised her was an illusion created by her powers - an extension of her own fears. She later joined The Suicide Squad in an effort to gain control of her powers but died on a mission.

In The New 52 reality, Psi made a brief appearance in the Forever Evil storyline. Her background was not specified beyond her being a prisoner in a secret ARGUS facility in Detroit known as The Circus.

A character called Psi appeared in the seventh issue of the New Adventures of Supergirl comic based on the CW show. This Psi was a prison guard at Fort Rozz, tasked with using her psychic powers to keep the most violent inmates subdued. Left as a being of pure spirit following the destruction of Fort Rozz, she turned upon Supergirl, whom she mistakenly blamed for hurting her friend Rampage - an innocent unjustly imprisoned in Fort Rozz, whom Psi had come to view as a friend.

The DCTVU version of Psi has the name Gayle March, like her original comic book incarnation. Rather than being an aspiring superhero, however, she's a thief. Like her comics incarnation, she is a powerful telepath and a telekinetic.

The bank where Supergirl first confronts Psi is located on 25th and Cedar Street.  The number 25 is a reversed 52 - a number frequently included in various DC Comics properties.  Cedar Street could be a nod to Michael Cedar, who was a producer on the first season of Supergirl.


Technobabble


J'onn can't read Kryptonian minds but he can detect signs of residual psychic activity.

Martian telepathy differs from human psionic powers in some technical way that J'onn does not describe beyond psychic metahumans producing a certain kind of psionic interference.

Winn creates a device (a.k.a. Psionic Inhibitor Red) he thinks will be capable of blocking Psi's powers so Supergirl can get close to her. It isn't.

Rubies are the strongest gemstones after diamonds. On Mohs 1-10 Scale Of Hardness, diamonds are ranked 10 and rubies are ranked 9.


Dialogue Triumphs



(Supergirl enters the bank vault, finding Psi standing there, slowly filling a bag with money)
Supergirl: I got you cornered.
Psi: (not looking up or turning around) Do you?
Supergirl: What did you do them up there?
Psi: (slowly turning around) I only wanted to play. But they didn't want to play with me.
Supergirl: Well, you're not getting away with it.
Psi: Oh! (smiles softly) You think you're the cat and I'm the bird. (she turns and zips her bag shut, shouldering it as she looks to Supergirl) You got it backwards. You could join me. Maybe then you'd be happy. You see, money equals happiness. More money? More happiness.
Supergirl: Your priorities are seriously out of whack.
Psi: I know, right? (starts laughing) 
Supergirl: Put the bag down.
(Psi sighs and just fixes Supergirl with a stare. She slowly approaches Supergirl, who suddenly stumbles and nearly falls over. Supergirl backs toward the wall and holds it to steady herself as we get a quick POV shot suggesting that Supergirl is suffering from vertigo. Psi walk past her as the perspective shifts again and we see a POV target of the room going black except for the distant glow of a red sun. We see Supergirl, her breath quickening, as she sinks to the floor, clearly terrified.)

(Kara tells Alex about Psi attacking her with the fear she felt watching Krypton die.)
Kara: How am I supposed to deal with that?
Alex: Well... by remembering that your fears don't define you. You know, who you are as Supergirl? Who you are as Kara? That's what defines you and she'd got nothing on that.
Kara: No... who I am as Kara feels broken. (sighs) I lost Mon-El. Lena keeps asking me where I'm going, which is new and horrible. Alex, I'm trying to be myself again but everything that used to make me feel good like... like a relief? It's - it's disappeared!
Alex: It's not always going to feel like that. I promise.
Kara: My life as Supergirl is the one thing I can count on. I can go out there and help people. I can make a difference in the world. I can... feel strong even though a huge part of me feels so weak and she's taking that away from me. (pauses) And if I don't have Supergirl, what do I have?
Alex: You have me.

Lena: This is new for me too.
Kara: Working with friends?
Lena: No. Having friends. We Luthors don't have friends. We have minions.


Dialogue Disasters


Ruby: Do you know how many people in this world want to have superpowers? Do you know how special it is?
Sam: I'm not special!
Ruby: Yes, you are!
Sam: No, I'm not! I'm just an average mother trying to take care of her kid!


Continuity


Eve Teschmacher is a Lena Luthor fangirl.

Lena takes her coffee black and hates salmon.

Despite Cat Grant having been absent from the CatCo building for the better part of a year, Eve still does not use her private "boss only" elevator.

It was a Danvers' family tradition to get a new planner on the first day of school.

Lena says it was a Luthor family tradition to start the school year by hiring a private investigator to check that their teacher's credentials were up to date. There's a chance she might be joking about this.

Winn and Maggie favor live bands for wedding entertainment. J'onn and Alex favor DJs.

Kara is on the general alert "distro" list at the DEO. Normally only analysts get general alerts, but Kara wanted to know about everything that was going on as it came in.

Kara had episodes stemming from claustrophobia after first arriving on Earth. This stemmed from her feeling trapped in her rocket while witnessing Krypton's destruction. It is these fears that Psi tapped into in order to paralyze Kara, as well as her worry that she sent Mon-El to his death by shooting him into space.

J'onn attempts to create a psychic shield to protect Kara from Psi's influence. Psi proves to be too powerful for him. He later says that Psi is the most powerful psychic he's ever encountered.

Ruby gets into a fight with another girl at her school after claiming her mother has superpowers.

Kara makes use of a Kryptonian meditation technique to calm her mind. She has not done this since coming to Earth since she never felt the need to before now.

It is revealed that Psi does not read her subject's minds - she merely triggers the fear response. We discover this when she asks what it was that made Supergirl so afraid.

Alex recognizes Ruby from 301.

Alex and Maggie never discussed having children. Alex wants to have kids someday. Maggie says she never saw herself being a mom.

At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Sam's new job is as the new manager of L-Corp who is running things while Lena is learning how things work at CatCo.

Sam attempts to bend a crowbar once she is home. She fails to do it.

J'onn receives a psychic message from M'Gann, telling him he has to return to Mars.


The Kryptonite Factor

One of the most powerful psychics in the DC Comics Universe, J'onn has his powers severely curtailed here in order to make Psi more of a threat. Protecting another person with a psychic shield would hardly tax the Martian Manhunter of the comics. Here, J'onn is knocked out by Psi in less than a minute as he tries to shield Kara.


The Bottom Line


Oddly uneven, but largely enjoyable. The performances are great, the effects-work wonderful and Psi is well-realized as a menace but it seems shameful for a character like Psi who has a lengthy history with Supergirl in the comics being reduced to a villain-of-the-week as she is here.

The larger problem, however, is the Ruby and Sam subplot. Ruby seems to be written far younger than her actress would indicate and there's very little that is engaging about Sam as a character at the moment. You know it's a bad sign when you wish more of the episode had focused on James dealing with Lena taking over his role as Grand Poobah at CatCo than on watching Ruby put herself in danger in an effort to prove her mom has powers.

The Flash #32 - A Review

Thanks to Wally West's positive influence, Barry Allen is starting to adjust to his new negatively-charged Speed Force powers. Unfortunately, there's little Wally can do to help Barry with settling in at his new job as Staff CSI at the maximum security prison Iron Heights under the ruthless Warden Wolfe...


Police brutality is a hot-button issue and tensions are heightened on both sides of the discussion. While it's uncertain just how deeply Joshua Williamson wished to tap into that zeitgeist, his reintroducing Warden Wolfe - who famously tortured his super-villain charges during Geoff Johns' run on The Flash - into the reality of DC Rebirth hints that a topical discussion will be forthcoming. Politics aside, Wolfe is also a great foil for a straight-arrow cop like Barry Allen and it will be interesting to see how the two interact in the future.


The artwork for this issue is fantastic, with Christian Duce adding a level of complexity that hasn't been seen in this series in sometime. Duce's more realistic style suits the darker tone of this issue well and Ivan Plascencia matches that aesthetic with deeper colors that further heighten Duce's inks.

The Final Analysis: 9 out of 10. If you haven't been reading The Flash, now is the time to start!