Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 23 - Lian Yu

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


Plot

With the rest of Team Arrow abducted by Prometheus and held captive where it all began on the island of Lian Yiu, Oliver Queen must build an unlikely army of his enemies! Malcolm Merlyn, Nyssa Al Ghul, Captain Boomerang and even Slade Wilson will stand beside him for one reason or another. Yet even if they triumph over an army that includes Talia Al Ghul and her followers, Evelyn Sharpe and Black Siren, can Oliver count on them letting him live long enough to enjoy the victory once Prometheus is brought to justice?


Influences

Green Arrow (Vol. 3) #66 (Basic plot of Oliver Queen and his friends and family vs. an island full of killers) and Justice League: Cry For Justice (A villain called Prometheus threatens everything Oliver Queen loves.)


Goofs

It's a minor thing, but it just seems weird for Thea to be calling Sara "my friend's sister" instead of by name.

Unfortunately, all the drama of the episode is killed by the final minute, because - even ignoring press releases confirming the cast for Season 6 - we can't believe for a moment that they're killing off the entire cast except for Oliver Queen himself.


Performances

I never realized how much I missed Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson until now. I know the DCTVU is already a bit over saturated with shows but... 2018?  Deathstroke series? Please?

Well... now we know why John Barrowman didn't get his contract renewed for Season 6. Still, if Merlyn had to go out, we couldn't have asked for a better send off and Barrowman couldn't have given a better final performance as everyone's favorite bad guy you hate to love.

Willa Holland and Emily Bett Rickards haven't gotten a lot of scenes together. The brief moment they have bonding as the daughters of villains who did try to make it up to their daughters shows what a mistake that has been, as the two play off each other beautifully.


Artistry

The washed-out filter used to make the flashbacks look grayer and more miserable/dream-like is a nice touch.

It also helps to provide contrast during the fight between Team Arrow and Prometheus and his recruits when the episode cuts between the fight and Oliver's final battle with Kovar. A masterful bit of directing and editing, that.

The Nyssa/Talia sword fight is a great one.


Trivia

The episode starts with the same words that started The Pilot. "The name of the island they found me on is Lian Yu. It's Mandarin for purgatory."

The blue top and black leather jacket that Dinah is wearing in this episode resemble the DC Rebirth Black Canary costume.


Technobabble
Felicity says that she and Curtis combined have an IQ over 500.

Prometheus created a network of hundreds of charges of linked C-4 explosives.

Oliver gives Dinah the collar that Curtis built for her. It allows her to focus her Canary Cry but also allows it to overcome sonic dampeners.

Prometheus removed the on-wing hydraulic system from the plane he took to Lian Yu, rendering the plane useless.


Dialogue Triumphs


(Oliver has just knocked out the ARGUS guard who refused to abandon his post. He turns around to find Slade Wilson locking his cell door behind him.)
Slade: Would you like to explain what's going on?
Oliver: I'd like to talk about you for a minute. (pauses, clearly considering his words carefully) You seem...
Slade: What? In possession of all my marbles?
(Oliver just nods.)
Slade:
The Mirakuru wore off a long time ago, kid. I mean, I remember everything that happened. I'm not trying to escape that. It feels like some... bad dream. Now, regardless of my sanity, why do you want to help me?  After everything I've done?
Oliver: There's a man here on the island named Adrian Chase. He's holding my friends and my family hostage. Including Thea... and my son.
Slade: (smirking) Since when do you have a son?
Oliver: Slade, are you going to help me or not?
Slade: I think I'm stating the obvious when I say I killed your mother.  And for that alone you should have killed me.
Oliver: Maybe what's happening now is the reason I didn't.
(Oliver retrieves a memory card from his pocket and hands it to Slade.)
Oliver: This is all the intel that I've been able to gather on your son, Joe. Including his present whereabouts.
Slade: (openly shaken at the mention of his lost son) Are you offering to help me find my son?
Oliver: I want us to find both of our sons.
(Oliver turns around and walks to the bag that he dropped when he first entered the prison block. He opens it to reveal the Deathstroke mask. Without a word, he returns to Slade and offers him the mask. Slade nods.)
Slade: You and me, kid. Like old times.

Merlyn: Are you looking for applause? Clapping is a little more difficult for me these days.

(Oliver, Slade and Digger discover Felicity, Samantha, Curtis and Thea caged in an open field.)
Slade: Why are they unguarded?
Captain Boomerang: It seems pretty obvious to me, mate.
(Talia and Evenlyn drop out of the trees, guns and bows drawn.)
Captain Boomerang: (sighing) It's a trap.
Talia: Don't even think it Oliver, or your son loses his mother.
Captain Boomerang: Oh, and, uh.. don't worry about that gun, mate. (reaches into his coat pocket to reveal he already has one)  Mr. Chase gave me this nice new one. Along with a better offer.
Evelyn: (nodding to Slade) Adrian thought it would be pointless to reach out to you.
Talia: Although given this turn of events, perhaps you've changed your mind?
Captain Boomerang: What's it going to be, Slade?  Care to side with the winners?

Captain Boomerang: I assumed you'd want to be on the winning side.
Slade: Assumption is the mother of all failures!

(Merlyn unlocks Thea's cage.)
Merlyn: You okay?
Thea: (tiredly) Go to Hell.
Merlyn: I'll take that as a yes.

(Oliver hands Curtis a communicator.)
Oliver: Comms. Just in case something goes wrong.
Curtis: You mean "when", right?

Slade: So instead of marrying the blonde, you married Ra's Al Ghul's daughter?
Oliver: Uh... Nyssa talks too much.
Slade: She hasn't explained your beef with Chase.
Oliver: (sighs and shakes his head) My past is coming back to haunt me.
Slade: Seems to be a recurring theme with you, kid.
Oliver: Don't know why.
Slade: Well, it's not really that complicated. You suffer from survivor's guilt. You can't get over the death of your father.
Oliver: Adrian Chase has nothing to do with my father.
Slade: Kid, when it comes to you, everything has to do with your father. You and I are not dissimilar. We're both haunted by our pasts. And the only way to bury that ghost is by forgiving yourself.
Oliver: Forgiving myself?  For what?
Slade: You blame yourself for your father's suicide. And everything else that has gone wrong since. You need to forgive yourself for your sins.
Oliver: You say that like it's easy.
Slade: It's the hardest thing in this world. 

Merlyn: You may not think of me as your father, Thea, but you'll always be my daughter.

Captain Boomerang: Go after the rest!
Merlyn: I wouldn't do that if I were you.
Captain Boomerang: Well, you don't seem to bright. Standing out here in the open like this? What kind of ass-backwards strategy is that? 
Merlyn: (smirking) Let me show you.
(Cut to: Felicity, Thea, Curtis and Samantha running through the woods. There is an explosion in the distance. Thea turns around and looks behind them in shock.)

(Nyssa has just left Oliver and Slade to scout ahead in the old building.)
Slade:
She doesn't trust me.
Oliver: Can you blame her?
Slade: No.
(Slade suddenly cold-cocks Oliver, knocking him out. Black Siren rounds the corner with several of Talia's students and smirks.)
Slade: Tell Mr. Chase I have a gift for him. 

Felicity: I'd ask if you're okay, but I don't see how you could be. 
Thea: Honestly, I... I don't even know how I feel right now. 24 hours ago I... couldn't even think of Malcolm without wanting to scream, and now? Now I miss him. Is... is that insane?
Felicity: It's not insane. He's your father.
Thea: He manipulated me. He lied to me. He... he got me to kill my friend's sister! I... how can you miss somebody that you hated so much?
Felicity: Yeah. I mean, I have some experience with evil dads too. My father abandoned me. Lied to me. And then took a bullet for me, saving my life. (pauses and looks at Thea) Malcolm was not a good person and he was an even worse father, but... in his own way... he loved you. Today, he proved that.
Thea: I don't know. It's like today, I got... I got to see the father that he could have been but... he'll never get to be... because he's gone.
(Felicity pulls Thea into a tight hug.)

(Oliver has just given Dinah the collar Curtis made to enhance her powers.)
Dinah: Oh, I love that Curtis!  (To everyone else) This may hurt a bit.
Rene: Just sing, Canary!
Quentin: Actually, it's Black Canary.
(Dinah takes a deep breath and looks at the joint connecting their chains. She screams, breaking it.)

Nyssa: We have unfinished business... Sister.
Talia: I heard you gave up The Ring of The Demon's Head. What a foolish woman you've grown into.
Nyssa: It was your selfishness that forced me to grow up alone.
Talia: Our father never would have passed his mantle on to a woman. I had to forge my own path.
Nyssa: And you left me, knowing I would suffer at Father's hand.
Talia: Do you wish to settle the score now?
Nyssa: I stand with my friends!
Talia: You ally yourself with our father's murderer? He'd be ashamed of you.
Nyssa: (chuckling) Father was always ashamed of me.
(Black Siren and Black Canary knocked themselves down with their point-blank sonic cries. Siren is the first to get to her feet.)
Black Siren: You thought you could replace me? That's cute. 
(Quentin runs up behind Black Siren and hits her across the back of the head with a bo staff.)
Black Canary: You didn't have to do that.
Quentin: Oh, I did. For so many reasons. 

(Oliver has Prometheus's neck in a death grip.)
Prometheus: It's all over, but only if you do it! Do it, Oliver! And show everyone - show yourself who you really are!
(Oliver winces for a bit, sorely tempted, but he looks out to his friends, who are all watching him struggle with Prometheus.)
Oliver: No!
(Oliver releases his grip on Prometheus, leaving him gasping for breath. Oliver takes Prometheus' gun and empties it before tossing the gun away.)
Oliver: That's who I was. That's who I was before! It's not who I am now. You can blame me for your father's death for the rest of your life. I'm done blaming myself for mine. 
(Oliver starts to walk away from Prometheus.)
Prometheus: I knew it would come to this.  (growling) Your son is dead, Oliver!
(Everybody stares at Prometheus in shock. Oliver moves in and kneels by Prometheus, forcing him to meet his gaze.)
Oliver: (speaking with an eerie calm) I don't believe you. Because you are a liar. You're lying to me to manipulate me into doing what you want. But Adrian, here's the thing. If you're telling the truth? If you killed my son? I am never going to be the person you want me to be. Not ever.


Continuity

Slade Wilson was last seen in 314.

Oliver offers to help Slade find his son, Joe, whom Slade first mentioned in 114, in exchange for his help.

Captain Boomerang was last seen in 308.

Samantha Clayton, William's mother, is among the hostages on Lian Yu.

Captain Boomerang was recruited by Prometheus, in case Oliver tried recruiting him as well.

Oliver is skilled enough with a throwing knife to knock an arrow out of the air.

Merlyn used to own three Gulfstreams and can fly any plane like it.

Before the Chinese government turned it into a prison, Lian Yu was a holy retreat.

Merlyn sacrifices himself to save Thea from a landmine and takes out Captain Boomerang in the process.

Nyssa. Slade and Oliver discover the ruins of the plane that was Oliver and Slade's home on Lian Yu some nine years earlier.

Thea refers to the events of 301 and how Merlyn manipulated her to kill Sara Lance.

Felicity refers to the events of 421 and how her father, The Calculator, took a bullet for her.

Neither Felicity or Curtis knows how to fly a plane.

Quentin gives Dinah his blessing to use the name Black Canary.

Dinah's newly focused Canary Cry is capable of breaking metal chains.

We learn that the burn scars on Oliver's back came from Kovar pushing him back against the burning wreckage of the helicopter that Oliver shot down.

Oliver kills Kovar by snapping his neck.

John is not an ace pilot but he can get a plane started.

Susanna Thompson - who played Moira Queen - has a cameo in the flashbacks as Oliver calls home to tell her that he is alive.

The episode concludes with Prometheus killing himself and Lian Yu blowing up - supposedly with all of Oliver Queen's friends and family still on the island.


The Winick Factor

There's a lot of great character moments here that are ruined by a completely random ending that only serves to make the villain look invincible and smarter than the hero. That describes about 90% of Judd Winick's Green Arrow stories and most of the Prometheus stories in Season Five, in all honesty.


The Bottom Line

For a story that draws upon elements of two of the most infamously bad Green Arrow stories of all time, this one does a miraculous job of doing that this show set out to do for five years and, for the most part, did successfully - take the fractured history of a B-list (at best) comic book hero and turn it into something epic. Ignoring the last minute of the episode, that's what they did. The cliff-hanger doesn't ring true, however, and it ends the whole thing on a sour note.

Ignore that though and focus on the good - Oliver being true to his ideals, Manu Bennett redeeming Deathstroke into something like the anti-hero he's meant to be, the Susanna Thompson cameo, Oliver's final battle with Kovar, Black Canary and Quentin kicking Black Siren's ass - and this is one hell of a Hail Mary for a season that did much to restore the good old days of Arrow.  I honestly can't wait for Season Six.

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Twenty-One

In which we catch up with our neighbors on Chandler Avenue and discover (in order) that Clint The Bum is now our landlord, Zack at the Electronics Shop is now scared of us and... Rook liked the man we became better?


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 23 - Finish Line

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



Plot

The Speed Force Bazooka has failed and Iris West is dead. Now, Team Flash struggles to move past their grief to find some way of stopping Savitar before he kills again.


Influences

The Flash: Terminal Velocity (Savitar, The Flash trying to save the life of the woman he loves after witnessing a dark future), The Flash: Out Of Time (The Flash fighting a corrupted future version of himself), The Flash: Lightning Strikes Twice (the Speed Force storms at the end of the episode) and Doctor Who (general wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey shenanigans and the use of the phrase Reverse The Polarity Of The Neutron Flow)


Goofs

Why didn't Savitar go chasing after HR and Iris himself? Even without the armor, he's got to be faster than Killer Frost.

Why doesn't Barry try to run HR to the hospital? If he's hanging on long enough to explain what he did and say his goodbyes, there's plenty of time for the Fastest Man Alive to get him to the ER.

How is it that everybody except HR forgets that Barry knowing about their plans is a bad thing?

Given the relative eternity Savitar had to hone his powers and become The God Of Speed, why didn't he also take the time to develop the skills he needed to build a quantum splicer himself?

Harry's speech to Tracy, while well-delivered, turns out to be completely pointless since Tracy doesn't wind up having to do anything for the rest of the episode except be heart-broken.

With Savitar having been removed from existence thanks to Iris not dying, shouldn't The Speed Force trap that contained Savitar also have blinked out of existence since there was no need for it ever to be made?

The one thing missing from this episode?  Jesse Quick. We really needed her to show up again to make this tribute to Season 3 feel complete.


Performances

It's hard to say who does a better job playing multiple versions of the same character here - Grant Gustin or Tom Tom Cavanagh,

After being given precious little to do this season, Candice Patton makes up for it here.


Artistry


The image of Barry outrunning the exploding Philosopher's Stone while carrying Iris is a striking one.


Flash Facts

Barry makes reference to begging his parents to take him to a science expo in Midway City as a child.  In the DC Comics Universe, Midway City was home to the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Depending on the story, it was either in Illinois and was based on Chicago (in much the same way Metropolis was based on New York City) or was located in Michigan, near Sault Ste. Marie.

Savitar makes reference to a villain named Devoe that Barry has yet to face, whose defeat required the use of a cerebral inhibitor. This is likely a reference to Cliff Devoe a.k.a. The Thinker - a Golden Age super-villain and enemy of the Jay Garrick Flash. Devoe was the District Attorney of Keystone City and - frustrated with his inability to put a major crime-boss away -  decided to switch sides. He offered his skills as a strategist to other criminals, eventually coming to head his own gang. He also took possession of a device he called The Thinking Cap, which further enhanced his intelligence and gave him the powers of telepathy and telekinesis.

In assessing the damage at STAR Labs, Cisco asks Wally to "reverse the polarity on the neutron flow". This is close to a stock phrase, "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow", which was used in a good deal of science-fiction television.

The phrase was first used in the original Doctor Who series and was said by The Third Doctor actor Jon Pertwee. Writer Terrence Dicks recalled that Pertwee had trouble remembering some of the technobabble the writers came up with but he did like the line "reverse the polarity" and asked Dicks to use the line more often. Dicks obliged. Curiously, while The Third Doctor often said "reverse the polarity", he only uttered the full phrase "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" twice in the show's history. Future Doctors, however, did make use of the full phrase.


Technobabble


Julian - with the help of Caitlin's mother - develops an experimental gene therapy that will rewrite Caitlin's meta-DNA and restore her to normal.

Savitar asks Vibe to turn the Speed Force Bazooka into a intradimensonal quantum splicer. This device, once connected to The Speed Force, will allow Savitar to splice himself across all of time, existing at every possible moment.

Savitar refers to a device called a cerebral inhibitor that was used to stop a villain named Devoe.

By changing the polarity of the climbing arc on The Speed Force Bazooka, Cisco changed it into a Speed Force Skeleton Key which retrieved Jay Garrick from the prison in The Speed Force.

Cisco asks Wally, in trying to access the damage at STAR Labs following the Earthquake, to reverse the polarity on the neutron flow.

The earthquakes recorded by Central City University measured 6.6 and 7.2 on the Richter Scale.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Barry pulls up the future newspaper image in the Time Vault. It has changed back to how it originally was, with Iris-West Allen writing the story about The Flash's disappearance.)
Iris: Iris West-Allen.
Barry: It changed back!
(Iris gasps as the two hug. Joe looks at the image in disbelief.)
Joe: Does that mean what I think it means?
Barry: Yeah, Joe. The future is ours again.
(Barry pulls Joe into a group hug with Iris.)

(Savitar staggers as he has flashes of new memories. He begins to slowly and uneasily walk away from where Killer Frost has Vibe pinned down.)
Killer Frost:
Savitar?
Savitar: (frantically) Something's...wrong!
Killer Frost: What is it?
Savitar: She's... not dead.
(Vibe looks up, hope starting to fill his face.)
Killer Frost:
How is that possible?
Savitar: HR!  He took her place!
Vibe: (softly) HR...
Killer Frost: I- I thought you said HR lived?
Savitar: Not anymore!
Killer Frost: (thoughtfully) If Iris doesn't die...
Vibe: ... that means the future's changing.
Savitar: (moving towards Vibe) So is yours!

Barry: I wasn't sure you'd come. Must be an odd sensation? Getting new memories? You having an uncertain future.
Savitar: What do you want? I'm busy.
Barry: (laughs) Doing what? Getting erased from existence?
Savitar: We'll see which one of us gets erased.
Barry: Are you still planning on becoming a god?
Savitar: Cisco and Caitlin are still alive. If that's what you're worried about.
Barry: Oh, I know. You need them, right? To pull off your grand ascension?
Savitar: Look, Barry - if I wanted to talk to myself, I could have done that back at my lair. What do you want?
Barry: I want to help you.
Savitar: (scoffs) Really?
Barry: You don't have much time before the paradox reaches you. Come back to STAR Labs. Let Cisco and Caitlin go and let us figure out a way to save you.
Savitar: You really think I'd trust you?
Barry: You showed up. So you remember me coming here. Did I have any tricks up my sleeve? Was I.. was I planning on blindsiding you?
Savitar: I dunno, Barry. Maybe I get off on watching you grovel.
Barry: No, I don't think that's it. I think you're hearing me. I'm still in there. Deep down, buried beneath the scars and the pain, that part of you that... it must feel so lonely. But it also knows what it's like to have a family. To have friends. You can have all that back.We can stop hurting each other.
(There is a long pause as Savitar seems to consider this. Barry finally speaks again.)
Barry: I remember when I was six, and ah...I begged Mom and Dad to let me go to the science expo in Midway. And uh, well. we got a flat tire on that dirt road, no spare, so we were towed to that garage in a tiny little one-street town. Of course we were stuck there all day. And we got ice cream. And French fries with gravy at that little diner. And then that night we watched the local fireworks show.  Actually turned out to be a great day. And it's my favorite memory of Mom and Dad. What was the name of that town?
Savitar: (quietly) ... Masonville.
Barry: I'm still in there. Come home.

(Tracy is in her lab space at STAR Labs. Harry Wells enters behind her. Tracy sees his reflection, and spins around, gasping.)
Harry: I - uh, I'm not HR. My name is Harrison Wells. I'm from a different Earth.. in the Multiverse... how to explain this?
Tracy: ... you're his doppelganger?
Harry: ... yeah. Something like that. Look - these people? They're good people. And they need your help.
Tracy: By helping the bad guy that I spent weeks trying to stop? No! I won't do it. The only reason I agreed was because of HR.
Harry: HR needs your help.
Tracy: HR is dead!
Harry: That's why you need to stay! Because of what Savitar took from you! Because of what Savitar took from HR! Everything! HR paid the price that he did because he loved these people. Because he loved you. And because when the moment came, HR didn't run.

(Killer Frost blasts Savitar with the gun that Cisco made. Energy arcs between the gun, Savitar and the portal into The Speed Force. Suddenly, the energy shifts and Savitar, who momentarily seemed to be splitting into infinite versions of himself, is suddenly quite solid and held by the beam.)
Savitar: What?! No!
(Suddenly, a streak of yellow lightning comes from the portal and circles around, knocking Savitar down. Killer Frost drops the gun in shock as Jay Garrick - The Flash of Earth Three - comes to a stop before her, smiling.)
Jay Garrick: I've been waiting a long time to do that.
Savitar: Garrick?!  How did you-
Vibe: He didn't. I did.
(Vibe enters the scene with The Flash, Kid Flash and Gypsy. Vibe is holding Jay Garrick's helmet, which he tosses to him.) 
Vibe: By changing the polarity of the climbing arc, I changed your Speed Force Splicer into a Speed Force Skeleton Key. Didn't think I was actually going to let you become a god now, did you?

(Savitar charges at Barry, whose back is turned to him as he approaches Caitlin and Cisco. Suddenly, a shot rings out as Savitar falls to the ground. Everyone turns to see Iris West, holding a gun. Savitar stars to crumble into nothing as everyone looks at his body. Barry then moves to Iris, who hugs him.)
Iris: All these months you were trying to save me from him. Look at that - I saved you.

(Iris reaches to one side of the couch and pulls up a box.)
Iris: I can officially mail these.
Barry: What are these?
Iris: Save The Date cards for our wedding. On one of my braver days, I filled them out. I never mailed them not knowing if I would live to see the.ceremony... but now, I guess, it's safe to -
(There's a sudden rush of air as Barry disappears along with the box of invitations. He arrives back two seconds later, smiling widely.)
Barry: Delivered.
Iris: (slapping his shoulder) I wasted a lot of money on stamps, thank you very much!


Continuity

After Iris was captured, HR used the piece of Savitar's armor they still had from 316 to track him and find where Iris was being held. He then used his hologram generator to make himself look like Iris, and vice-versa, allowing Iris to escape while HR was captured in her place.

Before he dies, HR asks Barry to tell Cisco something for him. He also tells Tracy that he loves her and that her future will be glorious.

Barry confirms that the future newspaper story about his disappearing on April 25, 2024 is once again written by Iris West-Allen.

Julian is revealed to have been working on a cure for Caitlin with Caitlin's mother.

Savitar reveals that his Plan B was using Cisco to build a device that would allow him to spread himself across the whole of time. His claims his reason for kidnapping Caitlin was to use her as leverage in getting Cisco to work for him.

Harry Wells is retrieved from Earth Two to convince Tracy to help save Savitar.

Savitar refers to the medical lab at STAR Labs as being the place where they thought up the cerebral inhibitor they used against a villain named Devoe. He then states that they haven't gotten to that point yet.

Gypsy sensed that Cisco was in danger from across the Multiverse because they are connected.

The one thing The Black Flash cannot fight, according to Savitar, is cold. This is the true reason why Savitar kept Killer Frost around - to kill The Black Flash before it could stop him.

Vibe ultimately shows Killer Frost mercy and offers her the cure to her condition. Killer Frost then saves Vibe when Savitar is about to kill him for ruining his plan.

Barry is able to vibrate through Savitar's armor and knock him out of it, taking control of it. When Barry is in the armor, it glows red rather than blue.

Barry destroys Savitar's armor by vibrating through it.

Savitar is ultimately killed by Iris, who shoots him as he is about to try and kill Barry.

HR is buried with a tombstone with a quote from Mark Twain - "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why."

Barry, Wally, Joe, Iris, Tracy, Jay, Harry, Julian, Cisco and Gypsy all attend HR's funeral.

Iris tells a story about John Lennon at HR's funeral. The story goes that, as a child, Lennon was asked by a teacher to write down what he wanted to be when he grew up. Lennon wrote a single word. "Happy." The teacher told Lennon that he didn't understand the assignment. Lennon told the teacher that they didn't understand life.  HR Wells, Iris concludes, did understand life.

Cisco leaves HR's drumsticks on his grave.

At HR's funeral, Barry tells Cisco what HR's message to him was "That doing this took strength that he gave to me."

Caitlin shows up at the end of the funeral. She returns the cure to Julian, saying that she's not Caitlin Snow or Killer Frost and she needs time alone to figure out who or what she is now.

Iris refers to the song Barry sang to her in 317 and they agree it should be the song for their first dance as husband and wife at their wedding.

Central City does not experience earthquakes.

Jay and Barry realize that the storms causing the Earthquakes are being caused by the release of the energy from The Speed Force Trap. Someone has to go back into it to balance the energy and - it is revealed - The Speed Force wants Barry.

The Speed Force manifests to Barry in the form of his mother.

Barry asks Wally to carry on for him as The Flash.

HR agrees to stay on Earth One to help out.

Julian agrees to stick with Team Flash as well.

Barry says Cisco will have to be the one to lead the team now.


The Fridge Factor

Averted hardcore, with Iris being the one to save Barry from Savitar after a season of being the damsel in distress.


The Bottom Line


Much like Season 3 itself, it's a mixed bag made more tolerable by some fantastic performances. The most vexing part is the lack of some of the best bits of the season (i.e. Danielle Pannabaker as Killer Frost is largely sidelined for most of the episode and Jesse Quick is completely absent) while bits that didn't really work at all (i.e. Gypsy's "romance" with Cisco) are given a prominence that doesn't feel deserved.

I may stand alone on this, but I felt more grieved by the loss of Tracy and HR's love than I did Barry and Iris' separation at the end of this episode. Is that because we know that this loss is temporary and that Barry has to return, if only because we have a newspaper from the future that says so?  Maybe.  Either way, this season finale wasn't bad but it could have been a lot better.

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Twenty

In which we start investigating what happened to us the night we lost our memory, get picked up by the police and start to discover just how bad a guy we've become in the past seven years.

Injustice 2 #7 - A Review

Harley Quinn is an unwilling accomplice to the new Suicide Squad. Determined to make things as difficult as possible on her captors, she is surprised when the man in charge - who is not the "worst Batman ever" - agrees to speak with her regarding his plans. Unfortunately, he has far greater leverage over Harley than a bomb in her brain and he means to use it to win her cooperation!


It's difficult for me to discuss this issue without giving away the game completely. Finding an image to use to show off the issue's artwork proved particularly difficult this time around. Still, I am trying to keep the secret identity of The Suicide Squad's new leader a secret, though astute readers may have already guessed it given some of the clues dropped before now.

What can I say then? I love how Tom Taylor writes Harley Quinn as the genius who plays dumb that she is supposed to be. I think he writes the mystery villain remarkably well and with the same complex understanding that he does Harley Quinn. And I think the artwork by Messrs. Sampere, Albarran and Lokus looks fantastic throughout.

The plain and simple truth is that this is one of the best books DC Comics is putting out right now. Even if you aren't a fan of the games that inspired it, this is still worth reading as a fascinating and well-thought-out Elseworlds tale.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. 


Monday, May 22, 2017

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 22 - Nevertheless, She Persisted

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




Plot

The people of National City are fighting back against their Daxamite invaders and Kara has freed her friends from captivity. But Queen Rhea has one trick left up her sleeve - a mind-controlled Superman!


Influences

Superman: War Of The Supermen
. The Smallville episode Splinter (concept of Silver Kryptonite)


Goofs

As has been pointed out before, there's no explanation for how Queen Rhea learned of Kryptonite's effect on Kryptonians.

It also hasn't been explained why she felt the need to haul all of these - as far as she knew - completely useless rocks with her across the universe.

How in Rao's name did Rhea keep Superman subdued until Kara showed up? When exactly did she capture him, anyway? Was she sitting on him during the arranged marriage between Mon-El and Lena?

Why didn't Rhea use the Silver Kryptonite on Kara when she showed up?  Or any of the other Kryptonite she's apparently been sitting on all this time?

Why did Rhea use some untested form of Kryptonite on Superman? Why not just kill him? It was said last week that the Daxamite ships had Kryptonite cannons, so it's not like they're unwilling to use it in a lethal fashion.

Rhea's Kryptonite blood has similar issues. Ignoring that she'd have no way of knowing the effects her blood would have on Kryptonians (Clark and Kara are the only two left, as far as we know.) how would her body be able to contain it? She hasn't been exposed to a yellow sun nearly enough to have the natural immunities Daxamites are suppose to get under a yellow sun, so her skin shouldn't be acting like lead shielding.

There is no logical reason for why Rhea suddenly turns to stone and crumbles to dust. On top of everything else, the special effects suck.

Alex is able to get that one-man Kryptonian rocket delivered in record time consider the massive infrastructure damage that's taken place in National City.

So with all the technology that the DEO has to accommodate all manner of alien life form and disaster, they don't have an isolation cell capable of filtering out all outside air?


Performances

Tyler Hoechlin is still a damn fine Superman.

It's corny as all hell, yet even my stone heart was moved by Kara and Mon-El's tearful goodbye. A wonderful bit of acting from both Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood and the culmination of a great partnership that dazzled us all season.


Artistry


The effects work on the fight between Superman and Supergirl sets a new high-water mark for the series and superhero TV shows in general. The direction is top-notch too.

The running battle between the various forces in the fifth segment is also good, in terms of script-balance and direction.

The penultimate sequence, set to Idina Menzel's Small World, is perfect. Music. Acting. Direction. Everything.


Super Trivia


The episode title - Nevertheless, She Persisted - is a phrase that was adopted by feminist activitsts in the United States as a rallying cry in 2017. It originated from the comments of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as he attempted to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren while she was in the middle of reading a letter from Coretta Scott King. The altercation ended in Senator Warren being banned from further speaking during the proceedings. The letter was later read, without objection, by a male Senator.

Queen Rhea uses Silver Kryponite against Superman. The Silver Kryptonite of the DCTVU causes Kryptonians to suffer from intense paranoia and hallucinations. In this case, it causes Superman to see his most loyal ally (i.e. Supergirl) as his worst enemy (i.e. General Zod).

This seems similar to the Silver Kryptonite which first appeared in the Splinter episode of Smallville. There, Clark's blood became contaminated with a splinter of Silver Kryptonite, which caused him to become paranoid and turn on his friends and family. Unlike in this episode, it wasn't enough for Clark just to get close to it.

This form of Silver Kryptonite was introduced into the DC Comics Universe about three years later in Superman/Batman #49. Here, Silver Kryptonite was said to have mystic properties and was used in the creation of the two halves of the Ach-Om Rashay or Amulet of Mindfulness.

A different form of Silver Kryptonite appeared decades earlier in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #70. This form of Kryptonite had no special powers, being a prop made by Jimmy Olsen to keep Superman from snooping around his plans for a surprise party honoring the 25th anniversary of Superboy's first public appearance.

Mon-El calls Kara "The Woman of Tomorrow". In the comics, slightly less often than being referred to as The Man of Steel, Superman was called The Man of Tomorrow. Supergirl, in turn, was referred to as The Maiden of Steel and The Woman of Tomorrow, though The Maid of Might or Maiden of Might was more common.

Cat Grant notes that she has never seen Star Wars. This is something of a joke given that Cat Grant's actress - Calista Flockhart - is married to Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford.

The device Lex Luthor designed to irradiate Earth's atmosphere with Kryptonite in a bid to kill Superman or drive him off-planet is reminiscent of a similar safeguard Luthor developed during the War of The Supermen storyline in the comics. There, in order to repel an invasion of  hostile Kryptonians, Lex Luthor created a device which turned Earth's sun red instead of yellow. This killed nearly all of the invading Kryptonians as they were in deep space flying to Earth from New Krypton.

Superman teaches Supergirl a fighting move he says he learned on Warworld. In the DC Comics Universe, Warworld is an artificial planet most famously used by the intergalactic despot Mongul as a gladiatorial arena. It has alternatively been used as a base of operations by Brainiac and Sinestro.

Rhea says that after National City she will move on to destroy Star City and Metropolis. Star City, of course, is the home town of Green Arrow and Metropolis is the hometown of Superman in the DC Comics Universe.

In the final sequence, we see another baby sent away from Krypton on the day Kara and Kal-El were sent into space. Tended to by sinister women in black robes, they say that the child will "reign" on Earth. This may be a reference to Reign Of The Superman - the 1933 story by Jerry Siegel with illustrations by Joe Shuster - which served as a prototype for the concept that would eventually become the Superman we know and love today.

Reign Of The Supermen was also the name of the 1993 storyline following The Death of Superman where four characters - Cyborg Superman, The Man of Steel, Superboy and The Eradicator - appeared following Superman's death.

The building the baby is launched from has a Kryptonian house symbol upon its wall. The symbol appears to depict the profile of a skull. It does not correspond to any previous Kryptonian house symbol on record that this chronicler can find.

It may also be worth mentioning that Reign is the name of a super-villain from the 2011 New 52 Supergirl series. Reign was a genetically engineered creature crated on Krypton for some undefined purpose. Reign was one of five such "Worldkillers" who were created to be living biological weapons that would continually evolve, becoming more and more capable of causing untold death and destruction. It was never confirmed but strongly suggested that Doomsday - the monster that killed Superman - was the fifth missing Worldkiller.


Technobabble


The DEO satellites are programmed to search for trace amounts of Kryptonite anywhere on Earth. This enables them to sense the poisoned Superman when he and Kara are fighting in the middle of National City.

Lena says that she can re-purpose one of her brother's devices so that it releases lead into Earth;s atmosphere at a level non-lethal to humans but deadly to Daxamites. Reportedly Lex had intended to use Kryptonite rather than Lead, in a bid to either kill Superman or force him to leave Earth forever.

El Mayara is the Kryptonese phrase for "Stronger Together".

U-th-aur is the Martian word for Brother.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Kara wakes up in bed next to Mon-El. She cuddles up to him.)
Kara: Let's just stay here a little while longer, okay?
Mon-El: How long?
Kara: Until tomorrow.

Superman: And you're the guy who's dating my cousin?
Mon-El: Yes, sir. Mon-El of Daxam.  Though not, uh not like... the others Daxam. The killy ones?
(Superman just nods and offers his hand, which Mon-El shakes, looknig relieved.)
Superman:
You must be a good guy or she wouldn't be with you.

Supergirl: I just... I feel like I'm on the brink of having everything I ever wanted. Family. Friends. A job I love. A life as a hero I never could have imagined. And Mon-El. If I beat Rhea, I get to keep all of that. (pauses) I don't know! I don't know if it's possible! I don't know if it's possible to have everything you want!
Superman: Well, it is. But only because you worked for it. Whenever I fight, no matter who it's against or where it is, I'm always fighting for Lois. I fight with her right here. (taps his heart) The people we love, they're ah... they're another secret super power. Keep him with you.

(Lilian Luthor is pushing desperately at a button on the device to irradiate the atmosphere. Nothing is happening.)
Lillian: You said it worked!
Lena: Oh, it does. I just gave Supergirl the remote. Only she can turn it on.

Mon-El: There's something I need to say. Wherever I go, I'm going to be better because of you. You'll be in my heart. I promise I'm going to be the man... that you thought I could be. I promise.


Continuity

Superman fought General Zod at some point in the past.

Clark considers Zod his worst enemy and is the person he most fears.

Mention is made of the necklace that Kara's mother gave her right before she left Krypton - last mentioned in 120.

The chessboard in Lena's office is a Luthor family heirloom.

The device Lillian Luthor took from Lex's vault in 212 is revealed. It's a device which could irradiate the atmosphere with Kryptonite, either killing Superman or making him unable to stay on Earth. Lena says she can alter it to do the same thing with lead at a level non-lethal to humans but deadly to Daxamites.

Clark says that he has never encountered Silver Kryptonite before.

Clark says that he was at full-strength when Kara beat him.

Clark refers to 208 and how Kara destroyed Kelex - the robot butler tho tends to The Fortress of Solitude.

Dakkam Ur is an ancient and sacred rite dating back to the original wars between Daxam and Krypton. It likely dates back further as Mon-El says (though he is exaggerating slightly) that it has been around since "we crawled out of caves with rocks and sticks." In Earth terms, Dakkam Ur is a trial by combat.

Cat Grant has never seen Star Wars.

Clark has green eyes.

Superman fought on Warworld.

Superman addresses J'onn as Brother in Martian after J'onn says "Stronger Together" in Kryptonese.

M'Gann - last seen in 211 - arrives from Mars with friendly White Martians to aid in the battle.

Cat refers to the events of 119, saying that the Daxamite invasion is worse than Myriad.

Rhea dies after Kara activates Lena's device.

Mon-El leaves Earth in the rocket that originally saved him.  Kara gives him her mother's necklace.

Clark says once again that he thinks Kara is stronger than him. Not just physically, but emotionally. He freely admits that he isn't certain he could make a choice between Lois Lane and the world though he would like to believe that he would.

The mind bond between M'Gann and J'onn is strong enough that she heard him cry for help for Mars.

M'Gann discovered other White Martians who regret their past actions as she does.

Alex refers to how Kara told her how proud she was of her in 206. She returns the favor.

Alex proposes to Maggie. We don't hear an answer but her smile indicates a favorable response.

Cadmus and Lillian Luthor take credit for having saved the Earth.

Cat Grant has been married four times. It might have been five but she turned down Rob Lowe. Twice.

Cat refers to Kara's articles on Slaver's Moon (209), the Alien Registry (215) and Roulette's Alien Fight Club (204).

It is finally confirmed that Cat Grant does know that Kara Danvers is Supergirl and has merely been playing dumb this whole time.

Mon-El is seen entering a wormhole to parts unknown.

The final sequence - a flashback to Krypton  35 years ago - reveals that a third child, described as an "it" - was sent to Earth at the same time as Kara and Kal-El. When asked what it will do once it gets there, it is said that "It will reign."


Untelevised Adventures


General Zod apparently fought Superman at some point in the past.

Apparently, Clark also fought on Warworld in this reality.

M'Gann apparently made contact with other peace-minded White Martians on her return to Mars. They are now working to change how things are run and make amends for their past crimes.


The Fridge Factor


Surprisingly averted. Kara is said to be stronger than Superman twice. Lena proves to be smarter than her mother and probably could have finished her brothers' device faster without Winn's "help". On top of everything else, we finally get confirmation that Cat Grant knows about Kara's secret identity.


The Kryptonite Factor


Never has this section been quite so appropriately named. See Goofs, if you haven't already, for a full list of all the reasons why all the uses of Kryponite in this episode don't make sense. From Queen Rhea hauling it around with her in the first place to her poisonous Kryptonite blood, I defy you to make sense of any of this!


The Bottom Line


Cat Grant says it best "This is worse than Myraid. I never thought I'd say that." And yet, somehow, like Myraid, most of this episode works far better than it has any right to given the gaping plot-holes and the utter cheesiness of some scenes. Despite everything wrong, I still believe a girl can fly and can't wait for Season Three to start, if only to see if my guesses as to the identity of the "it" in the rocket is right.

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Nineteen

In which we start the game anew - this time in Casual Gamer mode and this time with the intent of romancing Louie's niece, Taylor.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Flash #22 - A Review (WARNING! SPOILERS!)

It's a race against time as Batman and The Flash move to catch The Reverse Flash before he runs to his death. Thankfully, an unexpected and unknown ally will be there to help them find their way home...


Normally I wouldn't drop a spoiler-filled page like this in a review but with Jay Garrick on the cover of the comic, there seems little point in avoiding it.

The Button concludes with little in the way of revelation for those readers who read DC Universe Rebirth. The biggest takeaway is that Jay Garrick - the first Flash - is trapped outside of time in the same way that the original Wally West was. The ending of the issue - and the ad for the next big event - also seem to confirm what astute readers guessed regarding who is responsible for changing The DC Universe... and possibly for creating it in the first place.

Where this is going is still anyone's guess but the JSA's disappearance also seems to be tied into a man who appears to be a ninety-year-old Johnny Thunder, desperately trying to summon his Thunderbolt. Then there's that blonde woman in Arhkahm Asylum (my money is on her being Saturn Girl)  who keeps insisting that things are wrong and there's no future.

Thankfully, this issue is entertaining even if there's little development of the on-going saga. Joshua Williamson has an obvious love and knowledge of the characters involved and there's a great scene that sums up the difference between Bruce and Barry - despite similar training as detectives - and how they consider their shared experiences.  The artwork by Howard Porter and Hi-Fi is similarly fantastic, with bright colors and smoothly-flowing action sequences. I also like how Porter's design for Jay Garrick resembles actor John Wesley Shipp.

Final Analysis: 9 out of 10. It's not shaking up the DC Universe or answering any questions but it's a solid comic with some great artwork and some neat character studies of The Flash and Batman.

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Eighteen

The thrilling conclusion and The Best Ending of the game!  After we see the worst ending of the game and more recycling of the James Earl Jones audio clips. But whatever. We save the world, get the girl and get to explore the secrets of Tex's storage room!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Lucifer #18 - A Review

Lucifer has managed to repel an attack by his son. Unfortunately, he's running short on allies as a treacherous attack seems to have killed his lover, Mazikeen, and his brother Gabriel has been teleported to the fare end if reality. Throw in the selfie-snapping sorceress with a drug habit and things are looking pretty bleak for the rebellion.


The story of Lucifer is as strong as ever but the artistic pacing of this issue is a bit off.  Scenes stop and start in the middle of pages and the backgrounds do little to convey a sense of location. Indeed, the opening fight scene makes it all but impossible to determine where Lucifer moves to with his "portal trick" until we see the other characters present. This isn't a bad comic but it's far below its usual standard.

Final Analysis: 7 out of 10.

Green Arrow #23 - A Review

The Ninth Circle's Four Horseman continue to reign chaos down on Seattle. As Black Canary hits the books to find the method to their madness, Roy Harper and Emiko Queen will join forces to save the city's water supply from being fouled by Cheshire as Oliver fights to save what remains of his secret base from Eddie Fyers.


Is there any superhero scenario more tried and true than stopping the town reservoir from being poisoned? I can think of three Batman stories alone based around that concept. Thankfully, while the set-up of Green Arrow #23 may seem somewhat familiar, Benjamin Percy offers more than simple action and adventure. His command of the characters and dialogue make everything old seem new again and it's a real treat to see the interaction between Red Arrow and Arsenal. Roy Harper fans will also be glad to know there is confirmation that he has some kind of history with Cheshire in the Rebirth reality but no details are given here. Hopefully that tale will be told sometime in the near future.


Juan Ferreyra's artwork continues to amaze. I'm particularly impressed by his use of negative space and color. The above page is a fine example of this, with the muted background colors serving to make the reds seem all the stronger while further enhancing the aura of sorrow blanketing the scene.

Final Analysis: 8 out of 10.

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Seventeen

In which we take one more spin around the neighborhood for old time's sake before heading off to Coit Tower and a final confrontation with... BIG JIM SLADE!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Sixteen

Having reached the third floor of The Tesla Legacy Society, we start to gather the many varied items we just somehow know we need to reactivate the satellite array so we can download the instructions for a working spirit radio. This will all make sense in retrospect, trust me.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 22 - Missing

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




Plot

It's Oliver's birthday and Team Arrow is in the mood to celebrate in the wake of Prometheus' capture. Unfortuantely, Black Siren has been sprung from ARGUS custody and - with the aid of Prometheus' other allies - has begun taking down Star City's heroes, one at a time.

In the flashbacks, having been ambushed by a not-quite-dead Kovar, Oliver must endure the greatest torture drug known to the KGB if he is to survive to see his homecoming.


Influences

The film version of The Princess Bride (Kovar's torture of Oliver, with his request for honest answers at the start and his philosophical talk about pain mirrors the torture scenes with The Machine) and the comic Justice League: Cry for Justice (a villain named Prometheus holds Green Arrow's loved ones and city hostage in order to escape capture.).


Goofs

Given the destruction of John's car, it seems unlikely that he and Felicity could walk away from it as they do here.

If Black Siren is meant to seem honestly sorrowful that she's chaining up her own father, Katie Cassidy is doing a piss-poor job of portraying it.

The hallucination of Laurel that convinces Oliver not to kill himself is wearing an obvious wig that is the wrong color for Laurel at that time.


Performances

It's good to see John Barrowman back as Merlyn.

It's even better to see Manu Bennett back as Slade, even for just five seconds.


Artistry

The fight as Malcolm and Oliver move to free Chase is amazingly shot and directed.


Trivia

As is traditional for the penultimate episode of each season of Arrow, the title is a reference to a Bruce Springsteen song.

The song Missing comes from the 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad. In it, a man sings about how the woman he loves has walked out of his life and how he sometimes thinks she's come back to him.

It is revealed in this episode that Oliver Queen's birthday is sometime in the month of May.

Depending on the exact day, this would make Oliver either a Taurus (The Bull) or Gemini (The Twins) using Western astrology. Either one might be a good fit for Oliver, as Taurus' have a reputation for stubbornness and Geminis are said to be charming but prone to keeping secrets and living two lives.

According to a 1976 DC Comics calendar, Oliver Queen's birthday is December 9th. Fittingly, this would make Oliver Queen a Sagittarius - The Archer - using Western astrology.

The "Happy Birthday Oliver" signs at Oliver's party are in the same font as the Arrow logo.

Felicity says that Oliver's birthday cake came from Lord Mesa Bakery. This is a nod to artist Lord Mesa, who has become famous among DCTVU fandom circles (to say nothing of beloved by the show stars and creators) for his portraits of various superheroes and his one-panel comics based upon them. The cartoon Green Arrow on Oliver's cake is one of Lord Mesa's designs.

Felicity, being teased by Curtis, compares him to a shipper on a soap opera. It's worth mentioning tat the Arrow fandom has an incredibly active shipping community, with fans of the Oliver/Felicity pairing (or Olicity) being the most numerous.


Technobabble

Curtis builds a pair of sound modulators for Dinah. He claims that they will not only allow her to better focus her Canary Cry but will also allow her to overcome any kind of sonic-dampening technology.

The Red Death is the name given a drug devised by the KGB for use in interrogations. It is meant to break men's wills by enduing psychological anguish.

Purgatory - according to Catholic dogma - is the immediate state following physical death.in which some souls who are destined for Heaven must first undergo purification.

Felicity has access to a keyhole satellite that can track the heat signature of any plane in the world.


Dialogue Triumphs

Oliver: Being happy doesn't mean you don't have issues. It just means that you're working on them.

(Oliver has just said he has plans when Thea invites him out to dinner to celebrate his birthday.)
Thea: With who? Please say 'not Susan Williams' ?
Oliver: Um, it... No... ah.... with Felicity.
Thea: Ah. As in a date?
Oliver: As in... I, I don't know if it's a date.
Thea: (teasingly) But you're hoping that it is?
Oliver: It's dinner! People go to dinner.
Thea: See, I don't believe you. But I find it incredibly cute.
(Oliver sighs in exasperation as he exits the room.)

(Quentin arrives at Oliver's birthday party.)
Quentin: I'm late, aren't I?
Thea: Its all good. You didn't miss much. Just Oliver flipping Curtis over his shoulder.
Quentin: (sighs) I told you a surprise party wasn't a good idea.

(The rest of the team have left Oliver and Felicity alone.)
Felicity: I guess since the dinner at Chez Marta was a ruse, they think we deserve some alone time.
Oliver: Well, I mean... I didn't know if it was a...
Felicity: We can take it one step at a time.
Oliver: I would like that very much.
Felicity: This is hard for you, huh?
Oliver: Hypothetically dating my ex-fiancee?  (sarcastically) No, it's fi-
Felicity: Wow. No. I meant "summer vacation" as they are now calling it.
Oliver: It's incredibly hard. It's borderline impossible.
Felicity: We won. (pauses, before whispering) Oliver, we won. Take a step back. You know? You could put your feet up, no matter the state of your socks. You could just - God forbid - relax.
(Felicity laughs and reaches up to Oliver's tie, loosening the knot.)
Oliver: (softly, without much conviction)
Yeah.

(Curtis is teasing Felicity about her and Oliver dressing up for each other.)
Felicity: Can you please stop? You're worse than a shipper on a soap opera.

Oliver: Chase doesn't think I can game out what he;s planning, but it;s obvious.
Felicity: (sarcastically) Yeah. Obvious to a murdering psychopath.
(Oliver just looks at her.)
Felicity: And present company excluded.
Oliver: He's trying to leverage our friends to make me set him free.
Felicity: That's crazy...
(Oliver just looks at her again.)
Felicity: ... which would be consistent with Chase.

(Kovar slides a gun to a shaky-handed Oliver.)
Kovar: That gun only has one bullet. You can waste it on me. But I think we both know who is responsible for your pain. (pauses) I've seen the strongest man resist for up to 12 minutes before... ending his suffering Such is my respect for you, that I... I think you last for uh... 14 minutes.

(Oliver senses someone behind him in The Bunker and throws a dart. Malcolm Merlyn catches it.)
Malcolm: I see your sense of hospitality remains intact.
Oliver: You are not welcome here, Malcolm!
Malcolm: You aim to cut off my other hand, Oliver?
Oliver: Maybe. Are you going to tell another person about my son?
Malcolm: Last time I was down here I saved your life.
Oliver: Do you really think that gives you a pass for serving up William to Damien Darhk?!
Malcolm: I'm sorry about that. I wasn't thinking clearly. (raises his prosthetic hand) I let my emotions get out of hand. That's all in the past. The only thing I'm concerned about now is saving my daughter!

(Talia Al Ghul is standing in the road in front of John's car.)
Felicity: Angry woman with two swords. Are you getting major Isabel Rochev flashbacks right now?
John: Yep.
Felicity: You remember how we handled her, right?
John: Yep.
(John speeds up.)

Malcolm: Friends are one thing but family is family. And a child? You would do anything - absolutely anything - to keep them safe.
Oliver: A little while ago I worried to John... that the personal connections I had were making me vulnerable. Because as long as there are people in my life that I care for, I have to be something else to protect them. That's something I can't leave in the past.
Malcolm: I admire you, Oliver. It takes a special kind of idiot to actually get dumber with time.
Oliver: I am not in the mood, Malcolm.
(Oliver turns from Malcolm and moves back towards their bikes.)
Malcolm: Human connections are what keep us human. And it's sad that it's a sociopath who's gonna have to point this out to you!  You can't live on an island! You've already tried! But you are always going to have people in your life, Oliver. And they will always need you, for better or worse, baggage and all. And if you can't accept that, your past is going to stay your anchor!

(The proximity alarm in The Bunker goes off.)
Malcolm:
Are you expecting someone?
Oliver: Yes, I am. Because Chase is working with at least Black Siren, Evelyn Sharp, Talia Al Ghul and whatever army she's currently controlling.
Malcolm: (smirking) So you called in reinforcements? If I wasn't such a confident individual, my ego might be bruised.
Oliver: Malcolm, your ego is what I'm going to need you keep in check.
Malcolm: (suddenly tense) Why? Who did you reach out to?
(Nyssa Al Ghul exits the elevator.)
Nyssa: Husband. (she nods to Oliver before looking to Malcolm.) Mr. Merlyn. I assume you still have no title?
Malcolm: (spinning to Oliver) No.
Oliver: (warningly) Malcolm...
Malcolm: I will not work with her.
Nyssa: I told you.
Malcolm: I'd sooner slice her throat.
Nyssa: Try to, you mean.
Oliver: Malcolm, you said you'd do whatever it takes to get Thea back. So... (suddenly shouting) here we are!
Malcolm: Fine. But does she know?
(Oliver blinks, clearly not having planned on this happening. Nyssa sense this and steps closer to them both.)
Nyssa: Know what, Mr. Merlyn?
Malcolm: One of the people we're up against is your sister.
(Nyssa inhales slowly -the closest thing to a gasp she will allow herself as she stares at Oliver pointedly.)

(Oliver pushes his way past a security door with the ARGUS log on it into a prison block. He drops a bag by the door and sighs before moving deeper into the room toward a row of bars. He sighs deeply before finally speaking.)
Oliver:
I need your help.
(We switch to a POV shot from Oliver's perspective as he looks into the cell... and sees Slade Wilson.)
Slade: Hey kid. (chuckles softly) I'm glad you came back.


Continuity

Following the capture of Adrian Chase, Oliver Queen's approval rating as Mayor is 70%, according to a Star City Sentinel poll. This is the highest his approval rating had ever been, according to Quentin

Though no exact date is given, Oliver Queen's birthday is sometime in May.

Oliver refers to the events of 111 and Thea Queen's disastrous 18th birthday party.

At the time of this episode, Lyla and John Jr. are in Chicago visiting family.

According to John, he and Lyla are patching things up after their fight in the last episode.

Based on the number of newspapers outside his apartment, Rene hasn't been home in several days. Also,shockingly, Rene subscribes to a newspaper.

The team discuss vacation plans. Curtis would like to go to Florence, Italy. John wants to take his son fishing. Felicity wants to walk the Pacific Crest Trail before taking a spa day. Oliver just wants to have a day to go shopping and buy some new socks. (Apparently he's almost out.)

Oliver determines that Talia Al Ghul is responsible for abducting Curtis, Dinah and Rene based on one of the darts he finds at Dinah's apartment.

The Red Death causes Oliver to hallucinate the pain from his old wounds whenever the scars are touched.

While hallucinating while suffering from the effects of The Red Death, Oliver has past visions relating to his sins (i.e. killing Taiana in 423), failures (i.e. Shado's death in 209), guilt (i.e. Oliver killing one of Ivo's men in front of Shado in 201) and bloodlust (i.e. Oliver torturing General Matthew Shrieve to death in 323). He hallucinates both his fist teacher, Yao Fei, encouraging him to commit suicide and then a vision of Laurel Lance telling him to live.

Black Siren was broken out of ARGUS at some point after Curtis' abduction. It is later revealed that she was released by an ARGUS agent, who was being blackmailed by Eveyln Sharpe.

As of this episode, Quentin had still not been told about the existence of Black Siren.

Thea apparently had been informed of Black Siren's existence.

Malcolm Merlyn refers to the events of 423 - the last time he was in The Bunker, when he arrived just in time to help defend it from a team of Damien Darhk's Ghosts.

Felicity refers to 222 and how she hit Isabel Rochev with a van when she and John are confronted by Talia.

Oliver recalls that Curtis did put tracking nanites in Felicity in 518, but that they were rendered useless by the EMP from 520.

Oliver figures out that Chase is escaping to Lian Yu.

Nyssa says that her father once told her to visit Lian Yu and that it was where she discovered Sara Lance. This is because Sara, during her time in the past with a younger Ra's ah Ghul and Talia (as seen L109), instructed Ra's to send his next daughter to the island in October 2008. This establishes Sara's recruitment into the League of Assassins as a closed time loop.

Oliver deduces that Talia must have told Chase about Lian Yu.

Oliver uses his one bullet to break the lock on the door of his cell.

In the final scene of the episode, Oliver enters Slade Wilson's cell on Lian Yu and tells him he needs his help.


Location

A freeway 10 miles outside of Star City.


Untelevised Adventures

We do not see how Reme or Dinah were captured.  We don't see how Black Siren escaped from ARGUS.


The Bottom Line

A fantastic episode, curiously, because of how little it has to do with Season Five's on-going plot. It's all because of the other little bits of character business that harken back to the show's glory days. The interactions between Oliver and Malcolm. The chemistry between Oliver and Felicity. The brief scenes of Thea and Quentin together. The flashback sequences that actually tie into the current storyline.

It would have been nice to see Roy Harper show up to offer some back-up too but I can't complain. Apparently they won back Manu Bennett despite his promise never to do the show again after Slade's treatment in Season Three.  That's as much a symbol of how far this show has turned around this year as anything.

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Fifteen

In which we explore the second floor of The Tesla Legacy Society. The good news is there's no more land mines. The bad news is the giant flies are more numerous and now there's giant spiders and flying plasma balls with spotty hit detection standing between us and the reactor. Only our arts and crafts skills will save us now.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 22 - Infantino Street

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



Plot

With only twenty-four hours to go until Iris's death at the hands of Savitar, Barry is more desperate than ever. He has an idea on where to get a power source for Tracy Brand's Speed Force Bazooka but it will require the expertise of a master thief to acquire, leading Barry to seek out the help of Captain Cold. Meanwhile, Vibe gears up for his own fateful battle with Killer Frost.


Influences

The Flash: Terminal Velocity


Goofs

The last episode ended with Barry seeming to have some idea about where to find a power source for the Speed Force Bazooka and a teaser shot of King Shark with some alien technology. This episode starts with Barry completely clueless about what they will do until Cisco detects the alien technology in ARGUS using STAR Labs satellite.

Barry thinks to have where Iris is being hidden kept secret from him so Savitar won't know it but doesn't think about how Savitar will know all about his plan to build the Speed Force Bazooka four years early?

Where the heck is Julian Albert while all this is going on?


Performances

Grant Gustin is genuinely terrifying as Savitar.

Wentworth Miller steals the show as Leonard Snart, as per usual.


Artistry

The cold-open, set to Aurora's 'Murder Song', is a brilliant scene on every level. Direction. Cinematography. The non-verbal acting. Everything fits together perfectly.

However briefly, it's always a treat to hear Jesse L. Martin sing.


Flash Facts

The episode title - and the name of the street where Barry saw Iris die when he traveled to the future -  is a nod to artist Carmine Infantino, who co-created Barry Allen and drew a number of classic Flash comics, including The Flash Of Two Worlds story where Jay Garrick and Barry Allen first teamed up. He also co-created the character of Doctor Alchemy.


Barry makes a reference to the movie Taken, when he describes Snart as having "a particular set of skills."

One of the cells Snart and Barry pass in the ARGUS high-security wing is labeled with the name Cheetah. This is presumably a reference to a DC Comics super-villain best known for her rivalry with Wonder Woman. Given the close proximity of Gorilla Grodd and other bestial villains, it seems likely that this is the Barbara Ann Minerva incarnation of The Cheetah.

The third Cheetah - and the incarnation best known to modern audiences - is Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva, who first appeared in Wonder Woman #7 (August 1987). An ambitious and selfish woman, Dr, Minerva was an archaeologist who became magically cursed. Details differ as to what god did the cursing depending on whether one goes by the pre-Crisis, New 52 or Rebirth origins but the end result is the same regardless. Dr. Minerva was trapped in the form of a were-cheetah. This version of the Cheetah had super-speed and super-strength of a level high enough to go toe-to-toe in a fight with Wonder Woman.


Technobabble

During the Dominator Invasion, ARGUS acquired a piece of technology from the ship that crashed in Central City.

ARGUS headquarters is covered with meta-human power dampeners. These will prevent Barry from just running in and out of ARGUS to steal the Dominator technology.

Additionally, ARGUS HQ is equipped with surveillance cameras, eye-scanners palm-print scanners, heat-sensors and laser-sensors. Cisco notes this is just what he was able to find out about the first floor of the building.

ARGUS HQ uses key cards, retinal scanners and a verbal password to let people past the front desk. Not even the director is exempt from this requirement. Cisco makes a fake key card and contact lenses to get bast the scanner.

Barry uses HR's personal transmogrifier to make himself look like Lyla Michaels.

The alien technology is kept in an ARGUS cell behind a 25-ton door that can withstand a 30-megaton nuclear blast. Additionally, the door is protected The Montgomery 3000 - an advanced lock that is not only bomb-proof but also requires the voice-prints of three different people reciting three different passcodes. According to Cisco the whole system cost 10 million dollars to build.

Most sharks are cold-blooded. Some, like the Great White Shark (which is what King Shark is, in part) are partially warm-blooded or endotherms. This means that sufficiently cold temperatures (i.e. anything below 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit) can make a shark fall asleep.

The Philosopher's Stone is made of calcified Speed Force energy.


Dialogue Triumphs


(Lyla Michaels has agreed to meet with Barry and Cisco but requires they explain what they need.)
Cisco: Soooo... we're building a cannon.
Barry: Right!
Cisco: Bazooka... thing. It's a sort of trap.
Barry: In order to turn it on, we need something to power it. Something extremely powerful and regenerative.
Lyla: Okay...
Cisco: Yeah, so, I tasked our satellite to look for anything that might have our specific power requirements. And - wouldn't you know it? We found something that has exactly what we need. (laughs exaggeratedly) And it's right there in that building! Crazy, huh?!
Lyla: I really don't think you should be spying on me, Cisco.
Cisco: (smile fading) Is it spying if we're friends?

Barry: I wanna recruit you for a mission.
Snart: I'm already helping a bunch of idiot do-gooders. Sorry. I'm up to my fuzzy hood in teamwork.
Barry: (cheerfully) Would it help if I said please?
Snart: No. And you already have a bunch of superhero types in your life. Why ask me?
Barry: Well, you have a... particular set of skills.
Snart: (nodding) Great movie. Last time we tried to be buddy-buddy it didn't work out so well. For you. Why trust me now?
(There is a long pause as Barry bites his lip.)
Snart: Spit it out, or I'm going to step onto that ship and pretend like this conversation never happened.
Barry: (hesitating a moment longer)  Iris.
Snart: Oy! The girlfriend.
Barry: Fiancee.
Snart: Mazel Tov. What about her?
Barry: If you don't help me, she's going to die.
Snart: True love. That's your pitch?
Barry: (shrugs) It's all I've got.
Snart: And I assume saving your girlfriend requires us doing something... less than lawful?
Barry: We need to break into ARGUS and steal an alien power source.
Snart: The Flash? A thief?
(Snart looks to one side and waves his hand as if "weighing" the option.)
Snart: That's my kind of mission. One condition: My rules.
Barry: Your rules.

(Killer Frost watches Savitar repairing his armor.)
Killer Frost: Pretty badass. Very god-like.
Savitar: (scoffs) Well... "dress for the job you want."

(Killer Frost questions if Savitar is ready to kill Iris at the appointed time.)
Savitar: Well, it's either her or me. If she doesn't die, I'm never born.
Killer Frost: Right. But... behind that pretty little face of yours, you still remember everything that Barry does. So you remember growing up with Iris? Falling in love with her? Kising her? You sure you're ready to end her life?
(Savitar stands, slowly and deliberately, looking Killer Frost right in the eyes.)
Savitar: What I remember... is being created as a disposable life. Something to be thrown away when Barry Allen was done with me. He didn't care about me. Why should I care about his love?

Snart: There are only four rules you need to remember. Make the plan. Execute the plan. Expect the plan to go off the rails. Throw away the plan.

(Barry has just knocked out two ARGUS guards.)
Snart: My, my, my. Getting rather violent in your young age?
Barry: Yeah, what were you doing?!
(Snart shrugs his wrists and holds up the handcuffs that were binding him a second ago.)
Snart:
Magic.

(Barry and Snart have reached a cell in the high-security wing of ARGUS. They can see the technology through a window in the door. Barry gets on the radio as Snart moves to look at the lock.)
Barry: Hey - uh, so... we found it.
(Cut to STAR Labs. Cisco and HR are listening on the comms.)
HR:
Jack! Pot!
Barry: (over the radio) But there seems to be some kind of signal interference at the end of the hall and the lock is The Montgomery 3000.
Cisco: (sighing) The Montgomery 3000!
HR: Is that bad?
Cisco: Well, we're looking at a 25-ton door that can withstand a 30-megaton nuclear blast. And aside from being completely bomb-proof, The Montgomery 3000 can only be unlocked by a voice-recognition system, necessitating three different passcodes from three different people. And as if that weren't already enough, the thing costs ten million dollars to build!
(Cut back to ARGUS HQ where Barry looks crestfallen... until he hears a click behind him. He turns and we see Snart standing by the now open lock panel, smirking.)
Snart: 37 seconds. I must be out of practice.
Barry: (To Cisco) Well... ARGUS should ask for their money back.

(As Barry and Snart enter the fog-shrouded room holding the alien technology, Barry jumps as he hears King Shark growl before remembering that the beast-man is asleep.)
Snart:
Reminds me of 'Jaws'. They didn't show the shark because they couldn't afford to make it look good.

Barry: Tell me, Snart. Did you think I had it in me? To leave you behind?
Snart: I wasn't sure. Always known you had the potential to be as ruthless as they come. Your history made sure of that, same as mine. Who knows? Maybe that's why we get along? You see the good in me. I see the bad in you.
Barry: Maybe.
Snart: Piece of advice. Stop trying to beat Savitar at his own game. Your goodness is your strength. And call me sentimental, but The Flash should remain a hero.
Barry: (offer a hand) Take care of yourself, Snart.
Snart: (taking the hand and shaking it) No strings on me.
(Barry runs off as Snart turns and walks to The Waverider, shaking his head.)
Snart: (confused) No strings on me?


Continuity

Infantino Street was identified as the site of Iris's murder in 309.

Cisco is seen reviewing a text from Felicity Smoak, reporting that she can't think of a power source for the Speed Force Bazooka that will work either.

Iris makes a video for Barry while he's out getting her caviar.

Lyla Michaels from Arrow makes an appearance, telling Barry and Cisco they can't borrow the power source Cisco detected.

Lyla refers to the Dominator ship crashing in Central City in 308.

ARGUS HQ is said to be more secure than The Pentagon.

Captain Cold refers to the events of 123, saying that the last time he and The Flash teamed up it didn't end well for Barry.

Wally takes himself, Joe and Iris to Harry Wells' lab at STAR Labs on Earth Two.

Barry is competent enough as a fighter to take on two ARGUS agents at once and knock them unconscious without using his powers.

Captain Cold is capable enough as an escape artist to slip out of a pair of handcuffs.

Iris and Barry switched rooms when they were 16 so that Iris would have a window she could sneak out of past curfew.

Joe once stopped the family from eating out for a month so that he would have the money to go on a cruise with a bunch of famous blues singers without the kids.

Joe used to sing Junior Walker's 'What Does It Take' to Iris when she was younger.

Iris gives Joe her engagement ring for safe-keeping.

While going through the ultra-secure wing of ARGUS, Barry and Snart pass the cells of Grodd, Cheetah and Cupid. Barry guesses this is where Waller kept her Suicide Squad agents.

Barry refers to the events of 314 and how he captured Grodd.

Cupid - the murderous Green Arrow fan-girl - was last seen in A514 but was being held in Iron Heights Prison. It was mentioned in A416 that she was released from custody in exchange for her services rendered to the Suicide Squad during A317. Presumably she was sent to Iron Heights instead of ARGUS since Amanda Waller was no longer around to make use of her at that point.

King Shark was last seen in 215.

Captain Cold is a big fan of Shark Week and has a surprising amount of information on sharks committed to memory.

The Waverider was equipped with Cable TV.

HR asks Tracy Brand to join Team Flash on a permanent basis.

Snart refers to the events of L109  where he lost a hand while fighting Chronos, after seeing King Shark's hand removed by a door slamming down on its arm.

King Shark has the power of near-instantaneous regeneration.


Snart's last words in the episode - "No strings on me" - are a reference to his final words before his death in L115.

Savitar breaks Wally West's knee.

Savitar is able to resist the effects of The Speed Force Bazooka since - after escaping from the trap in the first place - he made sure he'd never be able to be trapped by the same energy again. He does this by using The Philosopher's stone, which he originally acquired after Barry threw it into The Speed Force.

As the episode ends, it appears that Savitar was successful in killing Iris and that Killer Frost has injured Cisco, if not outright killed him.


Locations


A forest in Siberia -1892.
Earth Two - STAR Labs.
Star City - ARGUS HQ.


Untelevised Adventures

At some point during their first year together, The Legends had a mission in Siberia in 1892. This is where Barry retrieves Captain Cold. We don't know precisely when this took place in the timeline of that series, but - based on Snart's reference to having lost a hand like King Shark - it took place sometime after the events of L109.


The Fridge Factor


It's worth mentioning again that Iris had no role in the second half of this season apart from being The Girl Hostage.


The Bottom Line


I'll say this for Infantino Street - I genuinely have no idea what will happen next week. I can give it credit for surprising me if nothing else. Unfortunately, the emotional center of the episode - Iris' death - still fails to feel as heavy as it should. The best bits of the episode, unsurprisingly, involve Wentworth Miller playing it cool against an agitated Grant Gustin. It really drives home how this show might be better if it had focused more on utilizing The Rogues in a capacity like in the comics rather than focusing on big over-riding arcs focused upon a single criminal mastermind. But that's neither here nor there. I admire the craft and the art that went into the episode even if I fail to feel much in the way of emotional catharsis regarding it.

Injustice 2 #6 - A Review

The attack on the special prison to hold Superman and the rest of his Regime continues. Naturally, Bruce Wayne had planned several counter measures to contain The Man of Steel. He and his allies will learn too late, however, that the new Batman and his Suicide Squad have a different target in mind...


I should have stopped being surprised by Tom Taylor's writing a while ago. Yet I can't help it. I'm used to his perfect command of the various characters making up the cast of the Injustice world. But how to you prepare for things like Harley Quinn's awesome trolling of the Green Arrow of another universe or the reveal at the end of this issue?  You can't do it!


The artwork is as amazing as the story. Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran and Rex Lokus are all individually masters of their crafts. Together, they build miracles. This is one of the best looking books on the stands and a must-read even for those who haven't eagerly been anticipating the video game's release.

Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. The only downside to this comic is that it's so short. And that today it's distracting me from playing Injustice 2 - The Game! :)

Starman Plays The Tesla Effect - Part Fourteen

In which we explore the first floor of The Tesla Legacy Society. Our goal? To clear a path to the second floor of The Tesla Legacy Society! Expect many random deaths as we navigate a laser grid, dodge giant insects, outwit Morlocks and move around a mine field.


Titans #11 - A Review

Slade Wilson is the greatest assassin on Earth - a position he earned by being wise enough not to hold grudges. Yet even his professionalism was tested when his eldest son and heir apparent, The Ravager, was killed during his combat with the original team of Titans. Many years have passed since that day but Slade has not forgotten the debt The Titans owe him. Now, they will make amends for what they did - one way or the other!


Reluctant as I am to encourage the myth of the invincible Slade Wilson (a Winickian conceit that's somehow grown in power since the ridiculous Identity Crisis) I found myself enjoying Titans #11 even as I wished for an explanation as to just how the heck Deathstroke could abduct Wally West unseen in a public space without his friends noticing.

"But whatever", as the late great Mako would say. Dan Abnett's script (based on a story by hmself, Priest and Benjamin Percy) doesn't waste time with such trivia. It's too busy reaffirming one of the greatest villain/team rivalries in comics history for a new generation of readers and showing the circumstances that led to Deathstroke's grudge against The Titans in the reality of Rebirth. To Abnett's credit, he does this without any lengthy exposition dumps, conveying just enough information to move the story forward and editorial boxes (oh, how I've missed those!) informing the reader where they can read the full details.

The artwork is up to the usual standard of Titans' art team. Brett Booth is a wonderful fight choreographer but still has an unfortunate tendency to capture his characters with awkward expressions. Norm Rapmund keeps his inks delightfully light, allowing the bright colors utilized by Andrew Dalhouse and Carrie Strachan to shine all the brighter.

Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. A solid start.