Sunday, June 17, 2018

Batman: Prelude To The Wedding, Part Three - Batgirl Vs. The Riddler - A Review

Having not been reading Tim King's Batman on a regular basis, I had been planning on giving the whole Prelude To A Wedding storyline a miss. Then I found out there was going to be an issue pitting Batgirl against my favorite Batman villain and... well, I had to see how it played out, having the real greatest detective in the Bat Family (by Bruce's own admission) go against Edward Nygma.


Naturally, the plot involves The Riddler setting up a test for Batgirl which involves murder and mayhem if she fails to answer his questions. The twist Tim Seeley sets up for why he is doing this is rather brilliant and I shan't say another word about it. Suffice it to say it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to The Riddler and this issue did not disappoint. While the endgame is obvious the execution is masterful.

Better than the story, though, is the art. This is the second special I've seen Minkyu Jung work on (the last one being Titans Annual #1) and the second time I wished he was working regularly on a series I read. Jung's grasp of composition and framing is fantastic and the action of the story flows smoothly throughout. Would that we could see Jung paired with Jose Marzan Jr. on Batgirl, as they prove to have a real flair for working with the character and each other here. The colors of Jordie Bellaire are sweet icing on a very rich cake and Dave Sharpe's letter-work is as astounding as ever.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. A one-shot special that lives up to its name.

Detective Comics #982 - A Review

Trapped in the darkest tunnels under Gotham City, Batman seeks a missing homeless man. What he finds is a conspiracy organized by a frightening new cult and an old enemy... older than Gotham itself.
Detective Comics #982 seems less like a Batman comic and more like a Hellboy story that was hurriedly adapted into something Batman-themed. Doubtlessly this may be because of the artwork by Sebastian Fiumara, best known for his work on Lobster Johnson and Abe Sapien. Yet with a supernatural villain at its heart, this story still seems atypical for the sort of serious, mystery-based tales we usually see in Detective Comics.

That being said, this is far from a bad book. Indeed, this is perhaps the most noteworthy use of Deacon Blackfire I've ever seen in any story, though that is damning with faint praise as I've always found the character less than compelling. Yet Michael Moreci's script makes him compelling and the artwork by Sebaastian Fiumara and Dave Stewart drives the story at full tilt into the deepest, darkest parts of Gotham. There's also some great font work by Clem Robins, who crafts text that seems to cut at the balloons that contain it.

The Final Analysis: 10/10. All in all this is a solid one-shot Batman story. 

X-Men: Red #5 - A Belated Review

Unbeknownst to Jean Grey, an old enemy of the X-Men is twisting the minds of various world leaders to hasten the anti-Mutant initiatives that are gaining popularity, at the same time a new breed of Sentinel is using social media to turn ordinary people into the puppets of hate groups and mutants into self-loathing suicide bombers. Thankfully, Jean and her new team of X-Men are not without resources or allies, but they still have a long battle ahead of them - one that will start with an effort to save mutant refugees from an advancing army.


I missed out on the fireworks when this issue originally came out and various forces held it up as a prime example of how the social justice warrior agenda is ruining Marvel Comics. Ignoring that Marvel Comics has a long history of doing this sort of thing (and indeed was build upon the work of several Veterans who specifically used their art to make political points) to say that an X-Men comic is not meant to be political seems incredibly ignorant.

For the sake of argument, let's consider this story as an action epic, free from Tom Taylor's drawing parallels between the social-media Sentinels that reprogram people's brains to turn them into anti-Mutant activists and the use of fake news in modern society. Does this comic still hold up?  Yes. Taylor writes a fantastic action sequence and the battle in which we see the X-Men placing themselves between an army and a group of refugees is a thrilling one.

All of this is ably illustrated by Mahmud Asrar, whose shadowy, heavily-outlined style is a good fit for the grim world that Taylor's script reveals. The colors are largely dull, save for the colors of the X-Men in their costumes - a brilliant conceit by colorist Rain Beredo that makes our heroes stand out like the beacons of hope they should be in a dark world. The letters by Cory Petit are well done, with a wide variety of texts in the caption boxes, the news scrolls and the action balloons.

Let the broflakes cry. This is X-Men done right, modernized for the 21st century - as political and powerful as it should be.

The Final Analysis: 9/10. The best X-Men book in years!

Red Sonja/Tarzan #2 - A Belated Review

United across time and space by an enemy who seems to have the power to breach those same boundaries, The Lord of The Jungle and The She-Devil With A Sword form an uneasy alliance... though this is not the first time the two have crossed paths, though neither remembers the first time they met and came to blows...


Again, real life had gotten in the way of my reviewing this wonderful little mini-series, sure to appeal to fans of both Red Sonja and Tarzan. Gail Simone's script captures the essence of both characters perfectly. This is unsurprising, given Simone's long association with Sonja after 18 issues of the monthly comic and the Swords of Sorrow event, which gave her ample opportunity to indulge her obvious love of pulp fiction. Hopefully we'll get to see Jane in action by this series' end as well.

Walter Geovani proves the perfect partner in this. Again, this is unsurprising, given Geovani's long history of drawing Red Sonja and other pulp works for Dynamite Entertainment. Attention must also be paid to the colors of Adriano Augusto and the letters of Simon Bowland, which are equally amazing. Again, I say it - this is a wonderful series, sure to appeal to fans of both Red Sonja and Tarzan as well as anyone who enjoys a ripping yarn.

The Final Analysis: 8 out of 10. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that is their loss.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Injustice 2 #60-62 - A Belated Review

The Red Lanterns have recruited Starro The Conqueror and have lain siege to Oa - home of The Green Lantern Corps and The Guardians of The Universe. The New God Metron has recruited Jaime Reyes - The Blue Beetle - to stand against Starro, having foreseen that only the wielder of The Scarab can stand against the rage-empowered Starro.

Blue Beetle does not stand alone, however, with his friends in the New Titans and Booster Gold having joined in the fight. Even the bounty hunter Lobo, who was hired by Metron to bring Blue Beetle to him, has joined in the fighting on the simple grounds that it'll be hard for him to get paid in a universe run by a crazy hive-mind. And before the day is over, even more unlikely allies may be found to aid Oa in its blackest night...


Due to life being life and my schedule of late leaving me busy on Tuesdays when this book is released on-line, I haven't had the opportunity to review Injustice 2 for nearly three weeks. Indeed, I've barely had the time to read it!

Today, however, I made the time and I am glad I did. For Injustice 2 #62 contained no less than three jaw-dropping moments. I am not certain that my jaw literally did drop physically as I was reading the issue. Mentally, however, I was gobsmacked.

I know Tom Taylor is a busy man but I dearly wish he were writing several series based on his work here. There are a number of characters in Injustice 2 - no longer in existence in the DC Rebirth reality - who I sorely miss and am glad to see being given their due here. Chief among these are Conner Kent and Cassie Sandsmark, who have become this reality's new Superman and Wonder Woman and one heck of a cute couple. I'd also love to see Taylor tackle the Green Lantern Corps on a regular basis or pen a new Blue and Gold series.

The artwork is equally fantastic. This book is blessed by a number of great creative teams and I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite if asked to do so. Xermanico, Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, J Nanjan, Rex Lokus and Wes Abbot all deliver their respective A-games to every aspect of this series' artwork and I cannot recall any issue where the art was anything but excellent.

If you haven't been reading Injustice 2, for whatever reason, you've been missing out. This is one of my favorite series and you would do well to check it out and find out why.

The Final Analysis: 10 out of 10. Great issues, all of them. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 22 - Make It Reign

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



Plot

With Selena's plans for Earth revealed, Kara, Mon-El and Alura must find a way to escape Argo City. At the same time, J'onn prepares to say goodbye to his father, M'yrnn.


Influences

Supergirl: The Movie (Villain named Selena trying to take over Earth, while Supergirl is trapped elsewhere), Superman 2 (three evil Kryptonians menace the Earth) and the film Man of Steel (Kryptonian invasion of Earth meant to terraform the planet into a new Krypton)


Goofs

Why do the Daughters of Juru need to terraform Earth? Isn't Kara proof that Kryptonians can survive (and indeed thrive) in Earth's atmosphere? (You can't argue with religious fanatics and they're sort of committed to their prophecy demanding they conquer Earth and change it... even if they do have super powers as it is now.)

Kara and Mon-El are strangely unphased by the explosion in Selena's secret room and their white clothes are surprisingly unsullied by the fire and dust kicked up by the collapsing ceiling.

If Reign's whole purpose was to ultimately terraform Earth into a new Krypton, what was the point of her going around enforcing a more lethal form of justice when she first awoke?

The death of Agent Demos is played up as being far more significant than it should be. While the character is one of the few named DEO background agents, he's hardly had enough screen time for his death to have much resonance.

The heat-vision blasts in this episode act more like concussive beams than heat-rays, knocking people back rather than setting things on fire.

James Olsen has nothing to do in this episode but come in and try and give Winn a pep-talk.

Honestly, a lot of the emotional moments in this episode seem to misfire or are played off far faster than they should be, such as Alex and Alura meeting face to face for the first time.


Performances

Carl Lumbly has stolen virtually every episode he's appeared in this season. This episode is no exception, though the interactions between him and David Harewood are easily the high-point of this episode and - speaking as someone who is losing his father to Alzheimer's - all too realistically portrayed.

Chris Wood has prove far better at underplaying Mon-El this year than he was in overplaying the cocky frat-boy in Season Two.  The moment in which he says everything while saying nothing while talking to Winn is a quantum leap forward in what we've seen him do with the character.


Super Trivia

The base idea of this episode bears some slight resemblance to the plot of the 1984 Supergirl movie, which briefly saw Supergirl trapped in The Phantom Zone and helpless to do anything about the villain - a witch named Selena. This episode sees Kara briefly trapped on Argo City with no way back to Earth, as it is threatened by a Kryptonian priestess with dark magical powers named Selena.

There's also some superficial resemblance to Superman 2, with three evil black-clad Kryptonians menacing the Earth with the assistance of a human stooge. (Lex Luthor in the movie. Thomas Coville here.)

The ultimate goal of The Daughters of Juru is revealed to be that of General Zod in the movie Man of Steel - terraforming Earth into a New Krypton.

A new version of Selena was introduced into the reality of DC Comics Rebirth in Supergirl #10 (August 2017). This Selena was a powerful sorceress, described as Heir to Ataxia. She was convinced to join the villain team The Fatal Five, which was being led by Emerald Empress against Supergirl. She abandoned the team in mid-mission, however, wishing to avoid a losing battle and having no real grudge against Supergirl or loyalty to her new comrades.

One of the three Daughters of Juru besides Selena is named Vita. This may be in honor of writer Vita Ayala, who co-wrote part of the DC Rebirth Supergirl series with Steve Orlando.

At one point, Selena muses that Supergirl "actually cares for these humans." This line is a paraphrase of one of General Zod's lines from Superman 2 -  "He actually cares for these Earth people."

M'yrnn proposes merging himself with the planet Earth in order to stabilize it in the face of Reign's attacks. This is what J'onn J'onzz eventually did with the planet Mars in the reality of DC One Million.


Technobabble

Harun-El is made toxic to Kryptonians by Earth's atmosphere.

M'yrnn says that The Reach will allow him to live forever within his son's mind.

Lena determines that Sam's body cells are reverting back to their natural state (i.e. Kryptonian) but her blood cells are oxygen deprived and shrinking, with some of them having become dormant. At Ruby's suggestion, Alex decides to try exposing Sam to the intense yellow sun lamps the DEO used for speeding Supergirl's healing.

Winn develops an omni-directional self-maintaining sub-atomic personal shield - i.e. a belt-mounted force-field. It is based around a frequency conversion of some sort and is the cornerstone of the new non-lethal tech that Winn is building for the DEO. The dumbed-down explanation is that it is like a magnet for atoms.

Zor-El had been working on a transmat portral - a teleportation device that could work across interstellar distances to send the people of Krypton to another planet.

Lena uses her refractive scatterfield to test Sam's eyesight. Since Sam is able to see through the field and see Lena waving at her, we know that her body is not reacting like a Kryptonian's should. If Sam were a healthy Kryptonian, she would have hurt her eyes just trying to look at Lena through the field.

Lena says that environmental factors can influence gene expression, turning it on and off. She theorizes she can use Harun-El to rejuvenate Sam's blood cells.

Kara is able to use the cache crystals as a sort of impromptu radio, allowing her to talk through the hologram of Alura in the DEO headquarters.

A multi-phase descrambler which links to a power source is part of the transmat mechanics. The insulator or Zor-El's transmat is cracked, meaning it will only be good for one trip.

Alex's new gun fires ammunition that generates an electrical net capable of briefly restraining three Kryptonians. It works until the net is blasted by heat vision. She also has Kryptonite bullets and the glove of her costume can generate a Kryptonite energy field.

Winn's personal force-field is shown to be strong enough to protect him from a Kryptonian heat-vision blast. It also keeps him from being killed when he is thrown against the wall by a Dark Kryptonian, though the concussive force is enough to knock him unconscious. The focused energy of three Kryptonians' heat vision, however, is too much for it, as Agent Demos tragically discovers.

Eve Teschmacher reworks the Harun-El to try and jump-start Sam's blood cells. It does not work. Lena thinks perhaps she can make it work by adjusting the ratio of the solution she used before and reinject Sam with it.

Lena determines that Sam and Reign are still connected by a symbiotic non-local entanglement. This means that Sam is getting weaker as Reign is getting stronger, despite Reign no longer being contained within Sam.

M'yrnn and J'onn interrupt The Reach to help evacuate National City.

Mon-El speaks of a world called Zune, who terraformed their world by digging to the planet's core, creating a Genesis event. The process took hours.

M'yrnn says that is he uses his shape-shifting and phasing powers to merge with the nexus point of Reign's attack, he can help to stabilize the Earth by merging with it.


Dialogue Triumphs


M'yrnn: Home is not a place. It is living among those who love and honor you. I can depart this world with peace because I know my son is home.

M'yrnn: These are happy memories. They should make you happy.
J'onn: And they do, Father. But they also remind me how much I'm going to miss you. Every memory that passes between us brings us closer to that eventuality.
M'yrnn: By the end of this, you will not feel loss, J'onn. You will feel complete. I promise.
J'onn: How do you know?
M'yrnn: Because I know the hole that comes with not knowing this. The way I felt when your mother was taken from me. When you were taken from me. Be patient, my son. Let the memories fill you up as you have filled me up.

(Winn is asking Mon-El why he hasn't returned to the future.)
Mon-El: Uh-yeah. Yeah, I was but then the time beacon broke and... Kara ran into some trouble, so I uh, I decided to stay back to...
Winn: (unconvinced) Uh-huh. Always the hero.
Mon-El: Yeah.
(Mon-El pauses, before speaking in a more quiet tone.)
Mon-El: I lost her once, man. I'm not sure I can do it again.
(Comprehension dawns on Winn's face, as he glances to where Alex is working.)
Winn: Wow, really?  Dude.  Dude, forget Reign! You need to get back here fast so we can get a drink!
(Mon-El chuckles.)

Selena: Give me the blood.
Kara: You want the blood? You can have it.
(Kara throws the blood vials into the air toward Selena. Her heat vision catches it in mid-flight as Selena catches it, wincing as it begins to burn and melt in her hand.)

M'yrnn: This planet is my son's home. I intend to save it with him!


Dialogue Disasters


Eve: More bad news?
Lena: Yeah. Sam's no better. And now three people in National City with the same powers of Supergirl have just murdered somebody.
Eve: Oh. That is not good.


Continuity


The Daughters of Juru had a prophecy which foretold of three of them standing on Earth in order to bring about the rise of Reign.

The three members of The Daughters of Juru are revealed as Selena, Vita

Harun-El is made toxic to Kryptonians by Earth's atmosphere.

Selena had an atlas of Earth in her secret quarters.

Kara identifies some of the writings on the atlas as being identical to those in Coville's journal. She recognizes them as the instructions to create a Worldkiller from 319.

Sam is not feeling well but has not transformed into Reign again.

M'yrnn comes by the DEO to say goodbye to Alex.

The Reach ceremony requires a Martian artifact called The Staff of Kh'ollar.

Alex is left in charge of the DEO while J'onn is away performing The Reach.

Among the items on Selena's secret room, Kara finds a scabbard which has "Whoever wields this sword shall bathe in the blood of the old worlds and reign with might over the new." written upon it. Alura identifies this as The Scabbard of Juru and the line as a quote from an ancient Kryptonian religious text.

Selena leaves behind a hologram of herself that speaks to Alura along with a fire-bomb trap that wounds Thara.

Selena explains that she gave Kara the Harun-El because it was necessary for Sam and Reign to be separated in order to enact the final stage of her plan and helping Kara saved her the trouble of doing it herself.

Sam says that she was feeling totally normal but now feels so weak she can barely hold her head up and that her insides are melting away.

Agent Demos has some kind of grudge against Winn.

The gravity manipulator Mon-El purchased in 321 is destroyed by Selena's trap. This means he cannot use it to contact The Legion and have them come to help get him and Kara to Earth.

Kara spent many afternoons watching her father work in his lab. He often used her as a sounding board for his ideas. She remembers him always talking to her as if she were another scientist.

The ritual to bring back Reign fails because they do not have the blood of Purity and Pestilence. Luckily, Thomas Coville knows that blood samples can be found at the DEO.

Lena uses her refractive scatter field from 319 to test Sam's vision.

Selena was able to get Zor-El's transmat mostly-functional. The problem is that it would require another transmat portal at their destination in order to function.

The DEO has a transmat portal, which Winn recovered in 209.

The DEO also has Kryptonian cache crystals, like the ones in Zor-El's lab.

Kara is able to use the cache crystals as a sort of impromptu radio, allowing her to talk through the hologram of Alura in the DEO headquarters.

There are 500 million potential moves on an Ok'Rock'Tock board.

Alura comes to Earth with Mon-El and Kara.

Agent Demos dies after being hit by the heat vision of all three of the Daughters of Juru. This turns out to be too much for Winn's new force-field belt to cope with.

Eve Teschmacher is still working in Lena's lab, helping her with trying to save Sam.

Enough of the dried blood of Purity and Pestilence remains on Serena's hand after Kara's heat-vision blast for her to sprinkle the ashes of it into the fire being used to reform Reign.

The Fountains of Lillith are two fountains from ancient Kryptonian mythology said to be in The Valley of Juru. Alura learned of them from Jindah Kol Rozz, who ranted about them at her sentencing. One fountain gave infinite strength. The other gave weakness. Rozz spoke of a woman born of the fountain, who had the power of destruction - i.e. Reign. Kara theorizes that this may be the source of Reign's power rather than Earth's yellow sun.

Sam asks for Lena to help her return to The Valley of the Juru (where she went in 317) so she can use the fountain to indirectly weaken Reign.

Thomas Coville is killed by The Daughter of Juru once his usefulness is ended.

Reign's awakening triggers an 8.0 earthquake in National City, super-storms and tornadoes in Madagascar and a tsunami warning.

M'yrnn declares his intention to merge with the nexus point of the disaster, allowing him to stabilize it.


Location


The new Fortress of Sanctuary


The Bottom Line


On the one hand, the plotting of this episode is utterly nonsensical, with the reasons for Reign's existence having completely changed amid a host of minor things that don't make sense like concussive heat vision and the expectation that we're supposed to be deeply moved by the death of Agent Demos while undercutting emotional moments that should be more powerful, like Alex and Alura meeting.

And yet... for everything this episode borrows from earlier Superman and Supergirl stories, the execution here is far stronger than in those earlier stories. By making the Kryptonians trying to destroy the Earth to create a New Krypton into religious fanatics rather than soldiers adhering to some elitist eugenics program, Supergirl Season 3 has corrected the biggest flaw with the plot of Man of Steel. For all its flaws, this episode largely works in spite of itself.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 21 - Not Kansas

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




Plot

With the threat of Reign seemingly resolved, Kara returns to Argo City with Mon-El as she considers where she truly belongs. Meanwhile, back on Earth, J'onn discovers that DEO weaponry is making its way into the streets of National City and seeks James Olsen's help in discovering how.


Influences

The Return To Krypton storyline from Superman (Clark restores the city of Kandor and its people to proper size, only to discover that he doesn't fit in there.) and the on-going real-world debate involving gun control in the United States.


Goofs

Kara describes Argo City as the city where she grew up and says that while a lot of it was destroyed, most of it has been rebuilt. This doesn't jibe with what we saw in the previous episode, where Kara didn't even realize she was in a Kryptonian city (much less her home town) until she saw the writing on the memorial.

Why do they throw going-away parties for Kara in both of her identities when she hasn't decided if she's returning to Argo City permanently or not?

J'onn's decision to disarm the DEO doesn't make a lot of sense on multiple levels while simultaneously seeming like a step that should have been taken years ago. While The DEO might require standard weaponry when posing as FBI agents (which they do most of the time when they are in the field), most of their targets tend to require more specialized weaponry and equipment to deal with in any case.

It also bears mentioning that Winn is not a weapons designer by training or inclination, so throwing the job of designing non-lethal weapons at him seems a bit strange but well in keeping with the "a genius can do anything" ethos of the show.


Performances

As usual, the chemistry between Melissa Bennoist and Chris Wood is fantastic.


Artistry

It's a subtle thing, but Winn playing with a NERF gun and nearly shooting himself by accident while talking to Guardian is a neat bit of foreshadowing for the theme of the episode.

The sequence of Kara and Mon-El in the garden perfectly mimics the scene that opened Season 3, right down to the music.


Super Trivia

The title is a reference to a line from the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz - "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Kannar-Onn is a Kryptonian rite of passage that is meant to be conducted every decade of a person's life. Superman once made reference to this ritual and teaching it to his daughter Cir-El in the comics.

The DCTVU version of Krypton on Earth 38 has a ritual called Kannar-On as well. Kara finds a certificate indicating that she passed it while sorting through various mementos in her mother's house. This version of Kannar-Onn sounds something like the Bat Mitzvah of Jewish culture, requiring hours and hours of study of Kryptonian history and heritage.

This episode introduces a new character - a woman named Thara Ak-Varr. We are told that Thara was one of Kara's closest friends during her childhood in Argo City. She is now the Chief Peace Officer of Argo. All of her family died during the destruction of Krypton. She is married to a man named Lir-Al and has two children.

The name of Thara is one of some significance to the Kryptonian saga in DC Comics. The first woman to bear that name was Thara Gem-Zee. A native of the city of Kandor, she was the niece of Van-Zee and the wife of Ak-Varr. Van-Zee and Ak-Varr were the secret identities of the Kryptonian vigilantes Nightwing and Flamebird during the Pre-Crisis Era.

In the Post Crisis Era, Thara was the name of Kara Zor-El's best friend in childhood - Thara Ak-Varr. This Thara was the daughter of Ak-Varr and a woman named Tes. She was also a resident of Kandor and was reunited Zor-El and Alura when Brainiac captured and shrunk Argo City as he had Kandor and combined the two populations. Kara's parents raised their daughter's friend as if she were their own daughter, due to the deaths of her family. She would later take up the vigilante identity of Flamebird for herself.

The boy whom Mon-El cured of his lung disease is revealed to be named Val. Val is a common name on Krypton, shared by two previous characters. One of Superman's ancestors in the Pre-Crisis Superman comics was an explorer named Val-El. A scientist named Val-El, who is now a character on the Syfy series Krypton, is depicted as one of Superman's ancestors. Val-Zod is also the name of the second Superman of Earth 2 in The New 52 reality of DC Comics.


Technobabble

Argo City has artificial gravity powered by some kind of synthetic gravity manipulator. Since gravity can be used to bend space-time, Mon-El can use that to send a message to the future.

Winn conducts a ballistics test that confirms that the gun which dented Guardian's shield is the same type of assault rifle used exclusively by The DEO.

The Heel 14 is a civilian version of the assault rifle exclusively produced for the DEO. It can be modified with a bump-stock to create a gun identical to a DEO assault rifle.

According to Lena, Harun-El is more than just a a biolistic delivery system. It could be revolutionary for reasons she does not explain.


Dialogue Triumphs

Kara:  (To Alex) When I first got here, I was alone and scared, having just lost everything. And I would walk around and feel this dull.. empty pit. A hollowness. And yeah, we got off to a rocky start, but once we got close, that hollowness just disappeared. That was you. You filled my heart. And no matter where I go, you will always be in it.

Alex: You have given all of us so much as Supergirl. Reign is gone. You have dedicated your whole life to taking care of others. It's time for Kara Zor-El to take care of herself. And no one deserves that more than you. But. Selfishly? I don't know what I'm going to do without you.

Mr. Preston: I wouldn't dream of standing in the way of your investigation.
James: No, you just dream of a world where everybody is armed to the teeth, right?
Mr. Preston: And you dream of a world where person reads CatCo Magazine. We're both businessmen, Mr. Olsen.

Alura: Kara, you've had to live your life as a warrior. Surviving on a foreign planet. Defending others. You have to take in the fact that you don't have to live that way anymore. You've spent so much time taking care of others. Maybe it's finally time that you take care of yourself?
Kara: It's funny.. my sister, Alex.. she almost said the exact same thing.
Alura: Well, I know why you love her so much.

Arthur: They never respected me!
J'onn: You think that gun gives you respect? It has no power. It's just a tool for spreading fear and fear is not respect.

Mon-El: I know you've moved on. From us. But I didn't just come back here to help you fight Reign. When I left Imra, she asked me to... sort out how I felt. And not just about her. (pauses and takes a breath) About you. And I've been trying to convince myself that friendship between us was the right thing... but I think I've been lying to myself.
(Kara bites her lip and looks down.)
Mon-El: I'm sorry to spring this on you in the midst of you trying to acclimate here...
Kara: Don't be sorry.
Mon-El: I just don't want to hide things. Pretend like they don't exist.
(Kara nods and sighs.)
Kara: After you left... I had a dream where I was walking down this path. A lot like this one. It was peaceful and serene and... you were there waiting for me. And all I wanted was for you to be in that field with me.
(She takes a step closer to him.)
Kara:
Now you are.
Mon-El: (nodding) Now I am.
(Kara reaches up and strokes Mon-El's beard.. as a beeping is heard in the distance.)
Mon-El: What's that?
(The two look away from each other to see a robot with red eyes flying toward them.)


Dialogue Disasters

James: I heard what you said about strength and peace, and I believe in that. That's why the only weapon anyone needs is a shield.
J'onn: That's something my father taught me a long time ago. Thank you for helping me remember that, James.


Continuity

Lena is able to use the Harun-El sample to make a cure for Sam, seemingly destroying Reign.

Supergirl asks Lena if she can synthesize more of the Harun-El and tells her about Argo City. Lena says she will try.

It is revealed that the box Alura gave Kara when she returned to Earth in 320 contained a Dar Essa flower.

Kara decides to return to Argo City. She invites Mon-El to come with her.

Officially, Kara Danvers goes on some kind of special assignment to explain Kara's absence from her job at CatCo.

Kara discovers her best friend from childhood - Thara Ak-Varr - is still alive. Thara is now married with two children and is the Chief Peace Officer for Argo City.

Kara hates Opera. Alex loves it, especially Puccini.

M'yrnn has built up a taste for opera. J'onn thinks the complex rhythms and orchestrations of the musicare helping him with his memory problems.

M'yrnn claims that a surge of clarity comes before a Martian with his dementia issues dies.

M'yrnn asks J'onn to perform a Martian ritual called "The Reach" with him. This ritual allows a Martian to telepathically pass all of his knowledge and memories on to his children.

J'onn is in denial about his father being close to death.

J'onn refers to the events of 205 and a gang that utilized alien weapons.

James identifies the weapon that the bank robber used as an assault rifle exclusively used by The DEO, which possessed enough power to dent his Guardian shield.

J'onn says that he had all of the DEO's weapons microchiped following the events of 314 and Winn's mother stealing a gun from the DEO Armory.

Val, the boy whom Mon-El helped in 320, is revealed to be entirely healed of his lung disease.

Kara learns about what Mon-El did to help heal Val.

An out-of-control girder nearly crushes Kara in the Argo City marketplace.Kara saw someone in hooded dark clothing running away from the scene after it happened.

Mon-El gives Kara his Legion Flight Ring to wear in case she needs it.

The manufacturer of the DEO assault rifle makes a civilian version, The Heel 14, which is legally classified as a hunting rifle, that can be modified with a bump-stock to be identical to an assault rifle.

Clark Kent was somehow able to track the private sale of an assault weapon despite the lack of a central gun registry. This confirms that Earth 38 USA has similar gun laws to the real world.

Lena is firmly pro-gun ownership, owning a personal gun that she claims to have used in self-defense before.

James is firmly pro-gun control, not seeing how a government gun registry can hurt non-criminals.

Eve Teschmacher - James Olsen's personal assistant - is revealed to have studied nuclear physics at Yale.

Ol-Irus is an electronics merchant in Argo City who is a bit of an oddball. He was apparently once a science teacher, who taught both Kara and Thara as children. He once assigned them to take insect samples home to study and they wound up reproducing in the hundreds.

Laura is the name of the landscape architect working on Thara's lawn. Thara complains that she built a stone gazebo so that it was facing  south so they could enjoy the view of the lake off their orchard. Instead, it is facing north towards the woods.

Kara spots another hooded figure watching her at dinner. This woman is later revealed to be Felra. Her husband owns a grocery store.

There is no digital trail or paper trail for the purchases of Heel 14 rifles. This leaves the DEO having to call every individual gun store in National City and hoping the owners kept accurate records of who purchased that gun recently. Even with all the DEO's resources, the are only able to identify 10% of the people who purchased the weapon.

Winn is, however, able to pull photographic records of every person who bought more than one weapon at once including a Heel 14.

The girder that almost hit Kara is blamed on a faulty part.

Felra was at work at the time of the construction accident.

James identifies the shooter as Arthur Willis. He passed his background check with no problems and had no history of mental illness. He bought four guns at the time he purchased his Heel 14. He is revealed to be a lawyer with Vang and Morales whose wife left him due to his workaholic habits trying to earn a partnership at his firm, only to be fired once they thought he was no longer useful.

Vang and Morales claim they offered Arthur Willis mental health counseling after several outbursts at work but he refused it.

Mon-El tells Kara that he still loves her.

Kara refers to her dream from 301 and how she saw herself in a meadow with Mon-El.

Mon-El and Kara are attacked by a robot in the garden. They escape thanks to the Legion Flight Ring and spy Felra watching them.

Felra says that she is a Daughter of the Night and a Child of Juru and that Selena is the high priestess of their order.

When Kara says that Selena helped her to defeat Reign, Felra says nothing is as it seems.

J'onn declares that The DEO will begin phasing out all lethal-force weapons and destroying all of their guns. This results in several DEO agents quitting, despite J'onn offering to let them transfero into another unit of federal law enforcement.

J'onn places Winn in charge of developing a line of non-lethal weapons for all DEO agents to use in place of standard handguns.

Lena brings Eve Teschmacher into her private lab to help her with studying The Harun-El.

Lena thinks she can use the Harun-El toward revolutionary ends.

J'onn begins preparing to undergo The Reach with M'yrnn.

Alex makes the decision to adopt a child and begins looking at agencies on her computer.

We see Sam and Ruby watching Singing In The Rain together, when Sam suddenly freezes up and drops a glass.

J'onn's spaceship is stolen from Argo City by the Children of Juru, including Selena. The burning symbol of Reign is left behind where it was parked.

Selena and the Children of Juru (two other women) use a crystal, provided by a waiting Thomas Coville, to create a new Fortress of Sanctuary.


Location

Argo City

The forest where the new Forest Of Sanctuary is erected.


Untelevised Adventures

Where Thomas Coville has been since 312 and where he acquired the crystal used to make a new Fortress of Sanctuary.


The Bottom Line

There's a lot about this episode that doesn't add up, but the performances - as with most of Season 3 so far - does a lot to sell it.

The chief oddity is that the fact that Supergirl's mother is alive isn't played up nearly as much as it should be and Alura has an amazingly small role in the events of this episode. The fact that Kara asks Mon-El to return to her with Argo City in a social capacity and not Alex is also odd, as you'd think Kara would want the two halves of her family to meet!

The gun control subplot doesn't quite work either. While I have no objection to a television superhero series like Supergirl trying to tackle social issues (my favorite comic is Green Arrow, for crying out loud), the lines drawn between the characters don't quite work. Naturally, Lena - as a strict individualist who has had her life threatened continually - is firmly behind people's right to arm themselves for self-defense... yet Lena is more than capable of creating defensive technologies to render guns obsolete!

Likewise James, as a black man who is used to being viewed with suspicion even when unarmed despite his relatively high-society position, has some fairly strong views about less guns being a good thing... but his position about the only weapon a person really needing being a shield doesn't quite work since not everyone has access to the technology and training he does.

What's really weird is that Alex isn't given a chance to weigh in on this question, when you think that she - as someone who depends upon using guns in her day job who is thinking of becoming a parent - would be the perfect point-of-view character for a story line involving guns and the pros and cons of owning one and how society responds to gun violence. It makes way more sense for Alex to be the one coping with this issue than J'onn, whose edict at the end seems remarkably short-sighted ignoring that Winn isn't a weapons specialist and ignores that The DEO is already using a variety of non-violent weaponry as regular bullets don't work on a lot of aliens.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 20 - Dark Side Of The Moon

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



Plot

Seeking another piece of The Rock of Yudal Kal, Mon-El and Kara discover that an entire Kryptonian city has survived within a force-field in space and Kara's mother Alura Zor-El is among the survivors! Meanwhile, back on Earth, someone is attempting to kill Alex, prompting Winn to babysit Ruby as J'onn and Alex start laying a trap for the killer and Lena considers just how far she will go to put a stop to Reign.


Influences

The Supergirl comics of Al Plastino and Otto Binder (Argo City) and Michael Green and Mike Johnson's run on Supergirl (character of Reign)


Goofs

It seems a little out of character for Kara and Mon-El - noble heroes that they are - to resort to shoplifting clothes without even making a token effort at offering payment. What's even stranger is that they don't really make an effort to conceal what they are doing and nobody in a crowded marketplace notices or objects to it! (At least Mon-El goes back later to pay for the clothes and tries to return them and makes an effort to compensate the merchant.)

So Kara didn't recognize any of the architecture, clothing or anything else about Argo as Kryptonian until she saw the writing on the memorial?  Shouldn't she have recognized the language the people were speaking as Kryptonian?


Artistry

The design for Argo City as seen from space is perfect.

The Kryptonian costumes are interesting.


Super Trivia

The title of this episode comes from the title of the eighth studio album released by the band Pink Floyd.

In the original Action Comics which introduced Supergirl, Argo City was Supergirl's home town on Krypton. It was introduced, along with Supergirl, in Action Comics #252 (May 1959). One of the three largest cities on Krypton (second only to Kandor and Kryptonopolis) it was spared from the destruction of Krypton thanks to a force-shield built by Zor-El, brother of Jor-El. Argo City would go on to survive, until the ground underneath the city was transformed into Kryptonite. Though the people were able to delay the inevitable by lining the ground with lead, eventually this protective layer was breached, forcing Zor-El to try and save his daughter by sending her to space in a rocket, where she eventually arrived on Earth and became Supergirl.

A later story, in Action Comics #316 (September 1964) said that Argo City's dome had already existed even before Jor-El warned his brother of Krypton's impending destruction and that Zor-El had built the dome as part of a measure to control the city's weather. Thankfully, it proved just as handy at providing an artificial climate when the entire city drifted into space.

The Post-Crisis origin of Supergirl changed this story slightly, with the shield Zor-El and Alura used being a piece of re-appropriated Brainiac technology rather than their own creation. When Braniac detected his technology being used, he discovered Argo City and abducted its inhabitants, shrinking them and transplanting them into the Bottled City of Kandor.

The DCTVU Version of Argo City also survived the destruction of Krypton within a giant force dome constructed by Zor-El.

It is worth noting that the name Argo City takes its inspiration from Argo - the name of the sailing ship built by Argus, which carried the Argonauts on the quest for The Golden Fleece. Some versions of the story claim that The Argo was the first ship in history. In any case, it is a fitting name for a city set adrift.

The Dark Priestess who has been guiding Reign and the other Worldkillers is revealed to be an Argo City Councilor named Selena. The main villain of the 1984 Supergirl movie was a witch named Selena.


Technobabble

Winn retasked six military satellites to scan the airspace around the meteorite Kara and Mon-El traveled to.

Argo City is protected by caretaker robots who resemble the robots in The Fortress of Solitude.

Argo City is also equipped with a tractor beam that holds approaching ships.

Zor-El created a force shield that protected Argo City when Krypton exploded, after Kara had been sent into space.

The Black Rock of Yuda Kal is also known as Harun-El.

Zor-El found a way to use Harun-El in conjunction with his domed force-field to shield Argo City from outside detection while purifying the air and generating heat.

A Dar Essa is a Kryptonian flower.

Thalonite Lung is a Kryptonian/Daxamite disease. It was nearly eradicated before Krypton's destruction, but reemerged in the children of Argo City. It requires the patient be hooked up to an oxygen tank at all times.

Mon-El has a device, built by Brainiac-5, which acts as both a vaccine and booster for multiple diseases. It automatically detects hostile cells and deploys antibodies. It can cure any condition within one week and then be used on another person safely.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Winn is reassuring J'onn that he is listening for any word from Kara and Mon-El)
Winn: And yet you seem... uh more stoic and grave than usual. Which, if we're being honest, is making me, like a little bit queasy. (stammers) What haven't you told me?
J'onn: Reign is becoming immune to Ms. Luthor's synthetic Kryptonite faster than we expected. 
Winn: ...oh.
J'onn: To be on the safe side, I've evacuated L-Corp and I have a strike-team standing by with sound guns, body boots and red sun grenades.
Winn: (fliply) Because that's worked approximately zero times before.
J'onn: (sarcastically) Do I seem appropriately stoic and grave to you now, Mr. Schott?

Alex: You want me to feel sorry for you?
Ronald Collins: Why would you!? I don't even feel sorry for me!

Kara: Your point is well made - that Krypton is dead. But it's legacy lives on. For good and ill. My own mother sentenced prisoners to Fort Rozz. Prisoners who broke free and took their anger out on Earth. Many of whom we're still trying to apprehend. There are people on Earth who work every day to solve the mistakes of Krypton's past. People who are trying to make Earth fairer. Or just better. These people dedicate their lives to this work. And some have even given their lives to it. This planet... these people... they took me in. An alien immigrant from a world they knew nothing about. A world whose legacy threatened their way of life and their safety again and again and again. And now, they deserve it in kind. Because their very existence is threatened by this World Killer of Kryptonian making. My mother tells me Argo City has changed. That it has learned from the mistakes of Krypton's past. So I beg you... give us the gift of Harun-El. We don't need very much. And this bit of charity... it will save Earth.


Continuity

Ruby is considering becoming an astronaut. Alex teases her about how she gets motion sickness too easily for that but Ruby counters that only happens when Alex is driving.

Someone attempts to kill Alex with a grenade while she's taking Ruby out for ice cream.

Reign is now able to see and hear through the refractive scatter field in her cell from 319.

According to Mon-El, The Legion of Superheroes don't bother with secret identities.

Alex got Ruby a book on Ada Lovelace - the first computer programmer in history.

Winn runs through a list of people with a grudge against Alex. This includes Griggs (215), The Hellgrammite (102) and Hannibal (217). Alex responds that Griggs and Hellgrammite are still locked up and Hannibal was deported after the Daxamite invasion.

Winn guesses it might be Rick from 219, until J'onn reminds Winn that he mind-wipped Rick.

Alex guesses that the assassin might be Ronald Collins - the murderous sheriff from 306.  He is said to now be 56 years old and was let out on parole after six failed attempts.

By a strange coincidence, Ronald Collins moved to an apartment six blocks away from Alex's upon being release from prison.

Kara realizes that the strange city she and Mon-El discovered is Argo City.

Argo City was mentioned in 119 as the site where Astra attempted to test Myriad.

Alura explains that the last she saw of Kara as a child was her pod being knocked into The Phantom Zone. Kara explains that she was there for a time but that she eventually made her way to Earth along with Fort Rozz.

Alura recognizes Mon-El as The Prince of Daxam.

Mon-El says there is no more Daxam. Alura says all that remains of Krypton is Argo.

Following the destruction of Krypton, ashes and destruction poisoned the air within Argo's dome. The young and the elderly became sick because of the new atmosphere.

Kara recognizes the structure they track The Rock of Yudal Kal to as a Kryptonian memorial.

Alura tells Kara that her father died in his efforts to save Argo City.

Argo City is ruled over by a High Council. Alura is one of the councilors.

Alex confronts Ronald Collins. He claims to be innocent of trying to kill Alex, saying that he deeply regrets what he did.

Alex's new motorcycle from the last episode is blown up by her would-be assassin.

A Dar Essa is a Kryptonian flower. Kara had one in her bedroom when she was young - a gift from her grandmother for her first birthday. Her father used it as a guide for measuring her height.

Kara was tall for her age and quickly outgrew her Dar Essa.

Alura describes Fort Rozz as her deepest shame.

Kara tells Alura about the events of Season One, her battles with the Fort Rozz escapees, her aunt Astra and her Uncle Non.

Alura says the people of Argo now look to their past for edification - not a blueprint for how to do things.

Mon-El gives a vaccine device to the merchant from whom he stole clothing upon first arriving in Argo City, testing it on her ill son and apparently curing his lung disease.

James talks to Lena about how she can kill Reign with a Kryptonite overdose now, but that would kill Sam as well. James asks what Sam would want and Lena says that she'd want her daughter and the world saved, no matter what.

Winn talks to Ruby about his murderous father and how he shares her fears about there being something bad inside him just waiting to come out.

Alex and J'onn set a trap for her assasssin, with J'onn posing as Alex.

The Worldkillers are figures of legend to the people of Argo.

Alex's assassin is revealed to be the identical twin brother of an alien criminal she brought to justice once. He was a Fort Rozz escapee who killed 12 people. Their species is not identified by name, but they are from Naja Falk 7. They have a strong sense of smell which allowed him to distinguish between J'onn and Alex from a distance.

The High Council of Argo City agree to give Kara some Harun-El.

Alura gives Kara a box before she returns to Earth. We do not learn what is inside it.

Alex talks with J'onn about how she can reconcile her inner adrenaline junkie and her nurturing side.

Alex refers to the flashback in 117 and how J'onn approached her about joining The DEO at a time in her life when she was a bit of a mess.

Selena - the councilor who broke the tie to give Kara The Rock of Yudal Kal - is revealed to be The Dark Kryptonian Priestess who has been influencing Reign and the other World Killers.

Lena attempts to use her kill-switch to destroy Reign. It doesn't work.

The episode ends with Kara and Mon-El arriving just as Reign breaks free of her prison, and Kara engaging Reign as Mon-El runs to Lena with the Harun-El.


Location

Argo City


Untelevised Adventures

Zor-El is revealed to have sacrificed himself in some manner in order to provide for the people of Argo City with his research.


The Bottom Line

Generally good, but it feels like there's a bit too much going on or, at least, that there should be more focus on the fact that a whole Kryptonian city is still intact and Kara's mother is still alive. The Kryptonians, in turn, don't seem at all phased by two strangers entering into their city who turn out to be a Daxamite and a Kryptonian from another world. It's all very muted and it doesn't help that we keep cutting away to Alex dealing with a mystery assassin, Lena wondering if she should try to kill Reign now and Winn babysitting Ruby. Ignoring that, the performances are all top-notch and the cliff-hanger is one of the show's best.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 23 - We Are The Flash

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




Plot

With The Enlightenment underway, Team Flash acquires an unexpected ally to help them stop The Thinker. Will it be enough?


Influences

The film Inception (projecting someone into another person's mind, directly referenced by Cisco), The Matrix trilogy of films (Ralph and Barry fighting multiple Thinker clones resembles Neo's fight with Agent Smith) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (referenced by Harry and Cisco with the famous "friend" speech between Kirk and Spock being quoted) and the Johns/Goyer run of JSA and The Flash comics of Geoff Johns (the holographic Thinker.)


Goofs

Captain Singh knows that Iris is behind The Flash Blog, despite it being established last week that she was posting to it anonymously. (Perhaps Joe told him about the blog?)

While not really a continuity gaff, it is still worrying that the mayor of Central City is willing to give Barry Allen his job back because of information posted to an anonymous blog, but not on the recommendation of his former boss or the basis that he was completely innocent of the crime of which he was accused. While what we've seen of the new mayor indicates that she is wholly obsessed with appearances and publicity, one would think the revelation of a murder victim appearing in court to defend the innocence of the man he once claimed was stalking him would be a bigger deal than some blog that only has a few thousand total views proposing that a respected college professor is a super-villain!

The Mechanic claims that there was a time when Clifford DeVoe was nothing but good and truly wanted to help the world. That claim is directly contradicted by the flashbacks in 420, which revealed Clifford DeVoe to be a cynical, misanthropic Luddite.

In earlier episodes, The Thinker claimed that he had to leave The Flash alive for some reason. In this episode, he claims it was because, with Barry now in his head, he had the capacity to take his powers and gain access to The Speed Force. If that was DeVoe's ultimate goal, why not just take Barry's powers like he did The Bus Metas at literally any other time before now that Barry was at his mercy?

As cool as Ralph and Barry fighting the hordes of Thinkers is... why didn't Barry just run for the Nexus dragging Ralph behind him in the first place?

Shouldn't Ralph have all of the powers that The Thinker stole from the other bus metas now?

Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to have Barry evacuate the site of the STAR Labs satellite impact and have Cisco focus on breaching away the larger mass of the satellite? (Of course then we wouldn't get to see the daddy/daughter sonic team punch...)


Performances

The moment where Cisco and Harry hug as Harry burns out the last of his brain with the Thinking Cap to help Team Flash one last time is magical and a great bit of silent acting for both Tom Cavanagh and Carlos Valdez.


Artistry

The lighting and lens flare effects used to create the world inside The Thinker's brain are quite effective at establishing an otherworldly effect.


Flash Facts

The idea of The Thinker existing as an electronic artificial intelligence is taken directly from the JSA comics of David Goyer and Geoff Johns. Here, the Justice Society of America developed an artificial intelligence to oversee the state of the art security system for their new base. Mister Terrific personally designed the system, which was based around the reformed Clifford DeVoe's "thinking cap" technology. Unfortunately, the AI achieved sentience, went evil and created a holographic form similar to what we see in this episode. It would return several times to fight the Wally West incarnation of The Flash and Cyborg and also served in The Injustice Society.

The mystery speedster woman, who first appeared as a waiter at Barry and Iris' wedding is revealed to be Nora West-Allen, their daughter from the future. This character seems to be loosely based on Nora West II - a future speedster and daughter of Barry Allen, who goes by the code-name Cruise. Cruise was first introduced in Justice League #26 (Vol. 3) (October 2017). Physically, she resembles the New 52 version of Iris West.

A more famous daughter of Barry Allen and Iris West is Dawn Allen. She, along with her twin brother Don, inherited their father's powers and went on to be known as The Tornado Twins. They first appeared in Adventure Comics #373 (October 1968).

The Flash show-runners confirmed that they decided to go with Nora being the future daughter rather than Dawn Allen, because it seemed more likely that The Arrowverse version of Barry would want to name his daughter after his mother.


Technobabble

Using Harry's cerebral inhibitor as a baseline, The Mechanic is able to construct a "one-way brain radio" that will amplify Cecile's telepathy so she can put Barry inside The Thinker's mind, used in conjunction with The Thinker's chair.

Barry's mind is put into The Thinker's amygdala - the part of the brain that connects emotional significance to memories.

The contractions Cecile experiences as she goes into labor put a strain on her trans-cranial link, disrupting Barry's connection to The Thinker. Caitlin is able to counteract this with the inhaler she gave Joe last week, which contains the drug terbutaline, which can be used to slow contractions.

Kilgore's power to control technology also gave him the power of technological reincarnation - i.e. backing up his brain as a digital intelligence. The Thinker was able to transplant his mind into his chair using this power. The Mechanic is able to overcome this by destroying the power source for the chair.

It is revealed that the strange picture-language Barry was writing in at the start of the season were symbols that could be translated into a binary programming polynomials. These were used, in conjunction with The Thinking Cap, to reprogram Harry Wells' brain. This is the same language used by the mystery speedster in her journal in 411. (There's a rather fascinating post about this on reedit.)


Dialogue Triumphs

Vibe: (determined) I won't lose anyone else today. I won't.

The Thinker: In this place I do as I please, Mr. Allen. I must say the fact that you thought I wouldn't have calculated you and your team making this feeble attempt is somewhat... insulting. There will be no defeating the big bad this year, Mr. Allen. See.. you are in my mind now. And there's no escape.
(The Thinker fires an energy blast from his chair. Barry grabs Ralph and runs for it.)
The Thinker: Run, Mr. Allen. Run.

Ralph: Allen, listen to me. I'm stuck here. But you're not. You should go. Be with your family for whatever time is left.
Barry: No. No. Okay, first of all, it's our family. And I'm not leaving you behind. There's got to be another way.
Ralph: Allen, you said the only way to save the world is by finding the good that's left in DeVoe. It's right here. With a hole in its chest.
(Barry thinks about this and then looks up at Ralph, realization visible on his face.)
Barry: It's not the only good left in him.
(Barry grabs Ralph and carries him to just down the street from the Nexus of DeVoe's mind.)
Ralph: Why the breaks? Are we there?
Barry: Almost.
Ralph: (looking to the Nexus) So that's the Hellmouth?
Barry: That's the nexus of DeVoe's mind. Marlize said we can take control of him if the good in DeVoe passes through it.
Ralph: Allen, we know that's not possible anymore.
Barry: Why do you think he's keeping you alive?! I couldn't figure it out, but think about it! If you get out, you take back control of this body. Because it's yours! That's why he won't let you leave! Once you get out, DeVoe will cease to exist! All you have to do is make it through that portal, and you''ll regain control. Remember who you are, Ralph. A hero.
(Ralph nods and closes his eyes. There's a sound of stretching rubber and Ralph is in his Elongated Man suit.)
Ralph: Let's go get control

The Thinker Hologram: I told you that The Enlightenment would come for you, Marlize, and it will. Remember I thought of everything. Even this moment.
The Mechanic: (barely holding back the tears) Good bye, my love.
(Without another word, The Mechanic walks around the back of The Mechanic's chair and pulls out the power supply shutting down the hologram.)

(Cisco puts his hand on Harry's shoulder as Harry seems dazed following the procedure to restore his mind. Harry looks up at Cisco.)
Harry: Don't worry. You have been... and will always be... my friend.
Cisco: (quietly) Khan.
(Harry winks and the two smile. Barry grins widely as Iris smiles politely as Harry and Cisco both bring a fist to their forehead.)
Both: Kill them.
(The two laugh and hug as Caitlin bites her lip, clearly happy but also clearly thinking this is a bit silly.)
Cisco: Oh my God!
Iris: Star Wars.
(Barry's face drops and he shakes his head.)


Continuity

As the episode opens, Captain Singh is calling Barry to tell him that the Mayor of Central City has agreed to give Barry his old job as a CSI back.

Captain Singh specifically credits Iris' blog and everything she wrote about Clifford DeVoe bringing about his rehiring, though it is unclear how he knows Iris is behind the blog when it was confirmed in the last episode that she posts to it anomalously.

The Thinker uses Kilgore's powers, in conjunction with his satellites, to shut down most of the electronics on Earth.

The title card for this episode, rather than the usual red streaks and yellow lightning motifs, features crackling synapses suggesting thinking.

Caitlin has all the materials needed to deliver a baby in STAR Labs' medical bay.

The Thinker is revealed to have predicted that Harry would build his own Thinking Cap and attempt to augment his intelligence further with Dark Matter. Through this, The Thinker used Harry as a guinea pig to see if his plan to use Dark Matter to decrease the collective intelligence of humanity could work. It also allowed him to use STAR Labs resources to siphon off the Dark Matter he needed.

The Mechanic explains that The Thinker specifically created The Bus Metas to give him the unique combination of powers needed to counter any of Team Flash's allies. This is why Barry can't call Supergirl or Green Arrow or The Legends for back-up.

The nexus of The Thinker's brain manifests as the opening to The Speed Force from which Barry emerged near the 405 CC Metro Bus.

Barry checks The DeVoe's house in Central City first for signs of Clifford DeVoe. He finds it empty of furniture or any kind of decoration apart from an empty picture frame with cracked glass.

When Cecile touches Caitlin, she says "I found Thomas. He's been this way all the time." Caitlin seems to have some idea what this means but shrugs it off when Joe asks her about it.

Harry uses his Thinking Cap one last time to make himself articulate enough to tell Cisco that Barry should go to the place where Clifford DeVoe first kissed his wife to try and find the good that is left in The Thinker. This leads Barry to Ralp Dibny.

Ralph and Barry find the good part of Clifford DeVoe in his classroom, dead of a wound to the chest.

Barry determines that The Thinker had to keep Ralph's consciousness alive in order to keep his body alive. This means that Ralph should be able to pass through the nexus and reassert control over his own body.

Iris refers to Joe's line about strength, without faith, meaning nothing from 401.

Ralph is able to fight The Thinker by clearing his head and thinking about something he loves - i.e. shrimp. Barry does the same thing by thinking about Iris.

Cisco recognizes the random words Harry says as being identical to the stream of words Barry said when he first emerged from The Speed Force in 401.

Caitlin assisted with several births in medical school.

The Thinker briefly returns as a hologram through a back-up of his mind stored in his chair. The Mechanic destroys it by pulling out the power supply of the chair. Before it "dies", however, the hologram is able to take control of STAR Labs computers and pulls their satellite, "Sally" out of orbit, by increasing its mass by 1000 fold, setting it on a collision course with downtown Central City.

The mystery speedster is seen running behind Barry as he attempts to punch the falling STAR Labs satellite, helping him to atomize it with a supersonic punch. Barry realizes, after the fact, that another speedster was there helping him.

The Mechanic develops a treatment to restore Harry's mind. She says it is the first of many things she must make amends for.

Iris offers The Mechanic a place on Team Flash. She declines, saying she is going to go somewhere she can use her talents to help people in need, like she did before she signed on with her husband's crusade.

The Mechanic's treatment is able to restore Harry Wells' to an average level of intelligence. Harry says he thinks his mind and heart are in balance for the first time in his life.

Iris gets Star Wars and Star Trek confused.

Harry elects to return to Earth Two and rebuild his relationship with his daughter, Jesse.

Wally West arrives just in time for the party celebrating the birth of Joe and Cecile's daughter.

Joe and Cecile's daughter is named Jenna Marie West.

Wally says that he thinks he found what he was looking for and that being a Legend has helped him to become comfortable with just being himself and not worrying about being in Barry's shadow.

Iris says she doesn't want to have children for quite some time.

The line "This house is bitchin'" from 401 is revealed to have been said by the mystery speedster.

The mystery speedster is revealed as Nora West-Allen - Barry and Iris' daughter from the future.

Ralph and Cisco remember seeing Nora at C.C. Jitters in 411 when she paid for their coffee.

Caitlin remembers Nora spilling a drink on her in 415.

Joe and Cecile remember Nora delivering a gift to them in 420.

Wally makes reference to Nora having posed as a waiter at Barry and Iris' wedding in S308.

Nora wears the jacket from Iris' costume from 416.

Nora makes reference to having screwed something up with the timeline.


Location

The pocket dimension The DeVoes created.


The Bottom Line

A surprisingly solid conclusion given how uneven the season as a whole has been. There are quite a few logic gaps and plot holes, but very few things that can't be hand-waved. We have Ralph back, which is good. We don't get any resolution to Caitlin's storyline, which is, sadly, par for the course for her, it seems. Still, with Blacksmith still at large, we may see Caitlin having a larger role in things in Season 5, which would be welcome... assuming they decided to bring her back, which is a big if.

Sadly, the big lead-in to Season 5 - Barry and Iris's daughter from the future has followed in her dad's foosteps in breaking reality by changing the past - was wholly predictable and doesn't suggest that the show will be treading any new ground next year. Then again, given how badly trying to break the mold this year went... well, maybe another season of dealing with paradoxes won't be so bad.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 19 - The Fanatical

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




Plot

A former disciple of The Cult of Rao named Tanya escapes from what remains of the fanatical group, with a journal that may hold the key to freeing Sam from Reign's influence.As Kara and Mon-El start to investigate the cult, James tries to protect Tanya, only to have his identity as The Guardian exposed. Meanwhile, Alex and J'onn try to get Ruby and M'yrnn out of their respective shells with a day out.


Influences

The movie Ransom (Winn refers to the plot in discussing James' plan to out himself before The Cult of Rao does.)


Goofs

Kara's hypocrisy about being upset that James would chose to not lie to his girlfriend over indulging her paranoia is horribly out of character. Her justification that she's protecting Lena by denying her that knowledge doesn't hold water either, given how Lena is already at risk as the outspoken leader of a major company and scion of a family of famous criminals. Mon-El somehow manages to top this with his line (which Chris Wood doesn't sound like he believes either) about how lying to Lena is noble because it is meant to protect her.

It defies all the laws of ballistics for Olivia to shoot The Guardian in the face and to have his helmet just open up and bounce off his head in the manner we see.

James' justification for revealing himself to the world is nearly as nonsensical as Kara's reason for hiding who she is from Lena. Granting that representation is important, James would be put in a lot more danger by revealing his secret identity than Kara would. And the idea that Kara is somehow protecting her friends doesn't really wash given that all her friends are, with the exception of James and Lena, government agents who are continually risking their lives and at risk from their association with Supergirl anyway.


Performances

While the Guardian subplot of this episode feels entirely tacked-on and far too preachy, Mehcad Brooks still does a fantastic job delivering his speeches.

While it's totally unbelievable that Ruby just accepts M'yrnn's talk about what Mars is like with no cynicism at all, Carl Lumbly does a fantastic job with the dialogue.


Super Trivia

The two books on child psychology that Alex is reading in an effort to relate to Ruby are Kids & Trauma by Emmet Falconer and Coping With Emotional Childhood Trauma by Agnes Debinska. These are not real books, but they are clever nods to two members of the Supergirl production team. Emmet Falconer is a boom microphone operator on both Supergirl. Agnes Debinska is a set designer on Supergirl.


Technobabble

Lena's latest plan to cure Sam utilizes a biolistic delivery system, usually used for overwriting genes in crops.

Kryptonian cels are closer to plant cells than one might think, due to how they process sunlight.

Lena's process takes particles of heavy metals, coats them in DNA, and then uses that to overwrite the Reign DNA with Sam's. It doesn't work, but Lena insists it should with the right metals and the right vectors.

The cell Lena put Reign in has a refractive scatter field. This prevents anyone from seeing into the cell or being able to see out of it, even with X-Ray vision. The wavelength interference of the force-field hurts any Kryptonian who looks at it.

The ashes and wall-markings Mon-El finds in the Cult of Rao hide-out resemble the remains of a body caught in a nuclear bomb. As Kara notes, there is nothing on Earth that could destroy a body in that manner without also destroying the building around it.

Tanya's father and brothers were all shot by the police.

J'onn says that the brain of a Martian wearing a psychic inhibitor is basically identical to that of an ordinary human.

J'onn says he read about a study which said that playing three-dimensional video games can reverse the decline of dementia.

As M'yrnn points out, the word Arcade originally referred to a series of arches carried by columns or piers, a passageway between arches and a solid wall, or a covered walkway that provides access to adjacent shops in Ancient Rome.

The woman whose ashes Mon-El found was not killed by a nuclear bomb. After Lena identifies the reside, she determines that it was generated by a heavy metal reaction. The heavy metal in question is not one found on Earth.

Kara recognizes the formula for the otherworldly metal from Coville's Journal. It is the chemical composition for the stone used to make The Rock of Yuda Kal.

Kara guesses that The Cult of Rao was using The Rock of Yuda Kal to make a new Worldkiller.

The Cult of Rao van has some kind of scrambler on it that keeps it from being tracked by The DEO.

The recipe for making a Worldkilelr includes one oronc of Sedenach dust and seven lak-mar of nitrogen.

Mon-El is able to generate a frequency only Kara can hear using a Kryptonian Sunstone.

The Rock of Yuda Kal was drained of all its power. Luckily, Lena and Winn copied its charged radiation signature and found a sample of the same rock five light years away from Earth.

Reign's Pestilence powers act like an anti-virus scanner to Kryptonite, slowly allowing Reign to develop an immunity to it.


Dialogue Triumphs

Supergirl: I don't - I don't like this tension between us, Lena. And I know it's my fault. I know James told you what I asked him to do and... look, I feel terrible about it. I made a huge mistake. And I'm sorry.
Lena: (cooly) Well, it's easy to admit your mistake when you've been exposed.
Supergirl: (quietly, taken aback) That's fair. (pauses) I just don't want one mistake to ruin our friendship, that's all.
Lena: It won't.
Supergirl: (smiling in relief) Good.
Lena: We don't have a friendship, Supergirl.
(Supergirl's face drops.)
Lena: All this time we've been working together, it's been about work. We have a mission to complete. And I'm not about to let any tension between you and I get in the way of that. Are you?
Supergirl: Of course not.
(Lena moves past Supergirl, who bites her lips and turns to follow her.)
Supergirl: I - I - I just hope, um, when we solve this, we can work to rebuild our trust.
Lena: Why is it so important to you that we're friends? I have friends, Supergirl. Friends that don't scheme behind my back or lie. Given my family history, they know how painful that would be. They also know I would never enter into a friendship with anyone who's already breached that trust.
Supergirl: ... understood.

(The cultist puts handcuffs on Mon-El.)
Mon-El: Owie.
Cultist: We'll deal with you after the ceremony's done.
(The cultist turns his back on Mon-El.)
Mon-El: Just one question.
(There is a noise of handcuffs clanking. The cultist turns around to see Mon-El standing there, now in his costume.)
Mon-El: Do you, by chance, know where I can find the Rock of Yuda Kal?
(The cultist draws his gun. Mon-El snags the man's gun hand with his cape and pulls the man close, placing him in a sleeper hold.)
Mon-El:
Soooo... no?


Dialogue Disasters

Kara: I'm supposed to stand for Truth! How am I supposed to be truthful? Really truthful? 
Mon-El: Well, if you tell Lena the truth, you'd be doing it to make yourself feel better, not her. So maybe, in this case, it's uh...not telling her the truth that is the noble thing. It's a sacrifice you're making to protect her.


Continuity

Kara refers to what Lillian Luthor said in 221 about how Lena would never forgive Kara for lying to her if she ever found out Kara was Supergirl.

Tanya, a former member of the Cult of Rao, steals Thomas Coville's journal, and takes it to James Olsen. She says that she thinks The Cult is using it to build another bomb, like in 304.

Tanya was a linguistics and semiotics teacher, who helped Thomas Coville to learn Kryptonian. She was the only person who knew how to read Kryptonian besides him in The Cult of Rao.

Tanya says that Thomas Coville just disappeared and it was believed that he died serving Reign. Coville was last seen in The Fortress of Sanctuary in 312.

In his last communication with The Cult of Rao, Thomas Coville said that they had been worshipping the wrong god and that Reign, not Supergirl, would be their salvation.

Alex buys a 1962 Item - a vintage bike she always wanted.

Sam is allergic to cats.

Mon-El finds evidence of The Cult of Rao building an advanced nuclear weapon that destroys bodies but leaves inanimate objects intact.

Olivia - one of the cultists from 304 - is seen again as she leads the raid on CatCo to recapture Tanya. She apparently took over the cult after Thomas Coville disappeared.

James had Cat Grant's private elevator altered to hide a storage space for his Guardian armor.

James's face is revealed when The Cult of Rao break his helmet and the police show up.

Tanya recognizes the jewelry Mon-El found in the ashes as belonging to a woman named Liza who was her friend. 

M'yrnn has a PTSD panic attack watching a video game that involves shooting aliens.

The Rock of Yuda Kal is a statue of the ancient Kryptonian goddess of life, which Coville found in Addis Ababa.

Lena says the Kryptonian mineral used to make The Rock of Yuda Kal is what she needs to cure Sam.'

James says he was seven years old the first time he was put in handcuffs. He and his cousins were arrested at a resort while playing hide and seek. James was the youngest at 7. The oldest cousin was 11.

There are no cork trees on Mars.

Mon-El goes with Tanya when she turns herself into The Cult Of Rao, pretending to be some random guy who thought their van was an ride-share vehicle.

One of the ingredients to make a Worldkiller is Sedenach dust. The planet Sedenach was mentioned in 209 as home of The Bismuth Mountains - a place of great beauty with natural crystal staircases.

Olivia transforms herself into a new Worldkiller.

When Supergirl touches The Rock of Yuda Kal, it causes her to lose control of her powers, as her heat vision turns on and she cannot shut it off. Mon-El is able to handle it just fine.

Supergirl is able to remove The Rock of Yudal Kal from Olivia's hand with a focused heat vision blast.

James tells Kara that he intends to reveal his identity as The Guardian to the world someday, on his terms.

Ruby dyes her hair with blue tips.

Reign is becoming immune to Kryponite. Lena guesses that she can only keep her contained for a few more days at most.

Mon-El tells J'onn that he wants to admit that he still has feelings for Kara, but that telling her will only serve to make him feel better. J'onn agrees it is best to keep it quiet.

Kara and Mon-El borrow J'onn's spaceship to retrieve the charged Rock of Yuda Kal.

The end of the episode reveals that Thomas Coville is still alive, as he arrives at the site of the ritual to turn Olivia into a Worldkiller.


The Kryptonite Factor

Why can't Kara reveal her secret identity to Lena? Well, because that would solve all her problems immediately. And her justification that confessing the truth now would cause Lena to abandon her completely does not excuse the original lie.


The Bottom Line


A series of poorly written scenes are saved by some fantastic acting. I know it's a running gag about how the heroes of The Arrowverse never seem to remember the lessons about how much trouble keeping secrets from the team causes in the long run, but it is taken to truly ludicrous extremes in this episode as everyone justifies everyone else's lies with some incredibly flimsy logic.

The most vexing thing is that every moment of this episode feels like filler, even the bits that nominally tie into the main plot! The revelation that more Worldkillers can be made is never treated with the gravity it deserves and the grand irony is that the best performances involve the least necessary parts of the story (i.e. Carl Lumby's speech about Mars, James' talk about how rough is is for black superheroes, etc.).

The main problem in all of this is that James' story as Guardian has been so deeply buried by the events of Season 3 and the Cult of Rao hasn't been referred to in so long that there's no sense of urgency like there is with Ruby's life being threatened and Sam slowly becoming more and more like Reign. At least Kara finally realized the hypocrisy of her refusal to share her secret identity with Lena but it's likely too late to do anything but be another source of drama as we wait for the day Lena inevitably goes "full Luthor" in response to Kara's betrayal of her trust.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 23 - Life Sentence

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



Plot

With a new ally on his side, Green Arrow may be able to bring down Ricardo Diaz and save Star City, but even though the war may be won, not everyone may survive the final battle...


Influences

The Green Arrow comics of Judd Winick (invincible villains who win even when they lose) and Jeff Lemire (character of Ricardo Diaz, mention of Longbow Hunters)


Goofs

Again, one wonders why Diaz hasn't just killed Black Siren by now? It seriously undercuts the idea that he's a dangerous lunatic who overacts to any slight or act of treachery if he spares a dangerous metahuman serial killer with no qualms about killing who turned on him once or if he has enough coherence to try using her as a bargaining chip to manipulate Quentin.

I know Agent Watson is meant to seem unreasonable, but she's not wrong in pointing out that Black Siren is a known murder, a wanted criminal, a fugitive from justice and that the only person who believed her "I could be good" act is Quentin. And even he isn't buying it anymore and is just pissed because he does not want to see someone who looks like his daughter die yet again.

How in the name of the many ridiculous gods of the DC Universe did Diaz survive getting blasted off a roof by a concussive sonic blast at close range, after being beaten half to death to Green Arrow and still manage to survive a water landing to swim away to safety?

Why doesn't the FBI arrest Black Siren? (Did Oliver's deal give her immunity too?)

How did Black Siren get a hold of Sara Lance?

Why had nobody told Sara about Black Siren?

Katie Cassidy's expression (or lack thereof) as everyone else is having an emotional response to the news of Quentin's death and Oliver's arrest defies belief.

So... the next step is Team Arrow exposing Agent Watson for refusing to do her job without a quid pro quo, right?


Performances

Paul Blackthorne gives a stellar final performance as Quentin Lance.

Caity Lotz's presence in this episode is largely wasted, but she does a fantastic job with the brief moments she has.

Stephen Amell has a great performance here, but the scene between him and Paul Blackthorne as Oliver once again calls Quentin the father he never really had is truly heart-breaking.


Artistry

Good effects work and choreography on the opening fight scene, particularly in regards to the Canary Cry effects and the T-Sphers are used.

The script is solid, with a reoccurring theme of Oliver making his peace with everyone and shaking hands with them.

The lighting and rain effects during the final Green Arrow/Diaz fight look good, even if the slow-motion effects are a bit much.


Trivia

Once again, the title card only features Oliver's arrowhead symbol and not all the symbols of the other Team Arrow members.

The Longbow Hunters were a villain group formed by Ricardo Diaz during Jeff Lemire's run on Green Arrow, made up of villains who had a grudge against Green Arrow. The line-up included Diaz himself, Brick, The Red Dart, Killer Moth and Count Vertigo.

In The Arrowverse, The Longbow Hunters are some legendary group that Diaz has made contact with. Anatoly has heard of them but thought they were just a myth. Oliver says that they are three assassins whom even The League of Assassins were afraid of. The last one reportedly died in The 1950s.

Oliver makes a second Green Arrow costume for John, saying there's no rule that there can't be more than one Green Arrow.  For a time in the comics, there were two Green Arrows, with both Oliver Queen and his son, Connor Hawke, using the name. The same legacy ideal applies to Flashes, with both Barry Allen and Wally West using the name The Flash in the current DC Comics Rebirth reality. Even before that, there was the Jay Garrick Flash working with his younger counterparts.

Ricardo Diaz's third hideout is said to be an abandoned chemical factory on the border of Pennytown. In the Green Arrow comics by Benjamin Percy, Pennytown was a borough of The DC Comics version of Seattle. It also the name of a district in Star City in The Arrowverse - one that has fallen on hard times and lies near an airfield, but is not as bad as The Glades.

The prison Oliver Queen is sent to at the end of the episode is Slabside Maximum Security Prison. In the original DC Comics universe, Slabside Penitentiary was the name of a maximum security prison for Metahumans, which first appeared in Green Lantern #51 (May 1994). It is nicknamed The Slab, because those who are sent there only leave it once they are "on the slab". (i.e. dead)


Technobabble

Felicity is given control of the FBI's Keyhole Satellites.

The bombs in Diaz's booby trap are said to be made of Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) As a dry solid, TATP is an extremely sensitive white crystalline powder that can explode under heat, friction or mechanical shock. Being difficult to detect and made from reasonably common chemicals it has gained notoriety as a weapon used by terrorists, some of whom have dubbed it ‘The mother of Satan’ because of its instability.

Felicity is able to piggyback of a radio signal going to the explosives, saying she can probably fool the triggers into thinking the people inside the warehouse aren't moving by cloning the signal. She winds up having to bounce the signal off of several satellites, delaying it long enough for everyone to flee the warehouse.

Oliver was able to get close enough to Diaz for long enough for a digital sniffer that Felicity made for him to read Diaz's drive. They have all the information on his entire network.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Green Arrow is addressing the FBI agents and everyone else in SCPD HQ. His mask is off and his hood is down.)
Green Arrow:
Diaz clearly has a third base of operations we don't know about.
Wild Dog: Yo, Hoss? Mask?
Agent Watson: Mr. Queen and I have come to an understanding. Even if we didn't, your identity is hardly a well-kept secret, Mr. Ramirez.
(Wild Dog pulls of his mask.)
Wild Dog:
So... you're done trying to throw us in jail?
Green Arrow: Everyone has immunity from prosecution, Rene. The FBI recognizes that Diaz is the clear and present danger.
Wild Dog: Better late than never, I suppose.

(John looks down at the second Green Arrow costume Oliver made for him.)
John: I really thought I wanted this mantle. It means something. (looks up to Oliver) You've made it mean something. When our city looks at it, it gives them hope, Oliver. And it would be diminished if there was more than one.
Oliver: For everything along the way... thank you.
(The two shake hands.)

Oliver: When I first met you, (chuckles) I didn't think you were much more than a thug in a - heh - ridiculous costume.
Rene: You're no prize yourself, hoss.
Oliver: I judged you. For far too long, I judged you. And that was a mistake. I'm sorry. I think that you're a good man, Rene. I think you're the type of man this... this city deserves.
Rene: I know it seems like I don't give a crap about what anyone thinks. But this means a lot.
Oliver: Good.
(The two shake hands.)

(Quentin hangs up his phone and looks straight ahead.)
Quentin:
Anyone ever tell you it's rude to sneak up on people?!
(Behind him, Oliver has the decency to look embarrassed as he walks around in front of Quentin.)

(Oliver asks Quentin to trust him when he says he can save Black Siren.)
Oliver: We've known each other for a very long time, Quentin.
Quentin: (snorts) A lifetime. Yeah. We've come a long way, you and me.
Oliver: (smiling) It's been getting better, since the first time you arrested me.

Oliver: The FBI's only objective is Diaz. They're going to do their best to keep Quentin safe, but they don't care if Black Siren is collateral damage.
Dinah:Your point?
Oliver: My point, Dinah, is that it's up to us to keep her safe.
(Dinah gives Oliver a side-eye glance.)
Oliver: I know you have put your vendetta aside for the sake of the mission.
Dinah: And you want to make sure I keep it that way?
Oliver: I want to say thank you.
(Dinah looks stunned.)
Oliver: It takes a very big person to not... seek vengeance for someone they love. If I haven't always been sensitive to that, I'm truly sorry.
Dinah: I'm sorry I was so hard on you. (pauses) You know, the truth is... I respect you more than you could ever know. You've put together a team of heroes. That's no small thing.
(They shake hands.)

Felicity: What is going on?
Oliver: What do you mean?
Felicity: I mean you've been doing the Oliver Farewell Tour all around this place, including giving John "The Hood". You know, everyone is wondering what did you have to give Watson to get her to give us immunity? I'm just going to go out on a limb here... and guess that it was giving up being The Green Arrow.
Oliver: ... sort of.
Felicity: You can't be serious! What happened to becoming your best self?
Oliver: I don't know if I believe that anymore.
Felicity: Oliver, this is who you are! You can't let Watson get in the middle of that!
Oliver: She's not. It was my idea.

Quentin: You did good, Oliver.
Oliver: Thank you, but it's not over yet.
Quentin: It is for you.
(Oliver looks at him and just raises an eyebrow.)
Quentin:
Am I wrong?
(Oliver shakes his head.)
Quentin: I've been dealing with Samanda Watson for months. There's no way she was gonna help you without strings attached. (sighs) But those strings, Oliver... that's a hell of a sacrifice.
Oliver: I had to look at the way I've been doing things. It's not working. I lost my city. I lost my team. There's a penance for that.

Oliver: Quentin, I hope I took the time to tell you , uh... you're a really good father.
Quentin: So are you.
Oliver: (choking up) I had a good example.
Quentin: Yeah, your dad was a good man.
Oliver: (on the verge of tears) I'm not talking about my dad.
(Quentin looks surprised but just nods.)

Felicity: During your trial, you said that you didn't want to go public, because you wanted a life after Green Arrow. This is that life! You could-
Oliver: I wanted to stop Diaz. And I wanted to save you and William more.


Continuity

The FBI and Star City's vigilantes all attack SCPD HQ and Diaz's hideout together.

Oliver secured immunity from prosecution for all of Star City's vigilantes.

Lyla, John Jr., Zoe and William are at the NORAD Bunker.

Oliver makes another Green Arrow costume for John, saying there's no rule that there can't be more than one Green Arrow. John refuses it, saying that having more than one would diminish it.

Anatoly gives Oliver the address Diaz gave him for the meeting with The Longbow Hunters.

Diaz threatens Black Siren to get Quentin to kick the FBI out of Star City. Quentin refuses.

Diaz somehow gained access to a metahuman power inhibiting collar.

The address Anatoly gives Oliver turns out to be a booby-trapped warehouse full of explosives. Wild Dog and Agent Watson are trapped inside when the trap triggers.

Diaz figured out that Anatoly was the traitor and promises to take days to kill him.

Ricardo Diaz can speak some Russian.

Rene becomes shell-shocked again, after nearly dying pulling an FBI agent who was paralyzed with fear from the exploding warehouse.

Oliver tells Quentin that he was able to beat the lie-detector five years earlier by controlling his heart beat.

It is revealed that Quentin has had a pacemaker ever since Season Three.

Quentin tells Diaz that The FBI is tracking him by satellite when Diaz doesn't bring Laurel to the meeting site and insists that Quentin hold a press conference to order The FBI to leave Star City.

Oliver realizes later that Quentin told him about his pacemaker, so that Felicity could track it, because Quentin knew that Diaz wouldn't honor his agreement and that he'd be searched at his meeting with Diaz.

Diaz's third hideout is revealed to be an abandoned chemical plant on the border of Pennytown - a district of Star City when has been mentioned before in 405 and 505.

Quentin is shot by Diaz when he refuses to deliver his press release.

Diaz is about to shoot Black Siren when The FBI and Star City's heroes arrive.

Black Canary removes Black Siren's collar and helps carry Quentin out of the base.

Green Arrow has Diaz beaten when Black Siren sonic screams him off of the roof and into the bay.

Diaz escapes, but Oliver got to him close enough with a digital sniffer to get all of the information from his drive.

Oliver hands the information on Diaz's network over to Agent Watson, who says that Diaz escaping doesn't alter their deal. Oliver says he is aware of that.

Quentin is septic as a result of his wound. He asks Rene not to call him Hoss at his funeral if the surgery goes bad.

Black Siren called Sara Lance to tell her she might need to come be there in case her father died.

Sara Lance had apparently not been told about Black Siren's existence.

Quentin Lance dies during his surgery.

Oliver is revealed to have made a plea bargain with the FBI - turning himself in and a full confession on a list of federal charges in order to save everyone else.

Felicity refers to how they broke John out of prison in 504.

Oliver says he's being transferred to a Supermax and that Agent Watson has already threatened to arrest the rest of Team Arrow if he ever tries to escape.

Oliver confesses to the public that he is The Green Arrow.

The prison Oliver is sent to is Slabside Maximum Security Prison


Location

Slabsite Maximum Security Prison


The Winick Factor

Heavy. From the invincible villain who accomplishes his goals even in defeat (Diaz has gotten Oliver Queen out of office and into prison is still running The Quadrant, even if he's lost his foothold in Star City's government) to the government officials that are more concerned with bringing a good guy down than serving the common good.


The Bottom Line

An ugly, bittersweet mess. There's a lot of good moments here, but they are moments that should have come earlier in the season and only serve to telegraph what is blatantly obvious - that Ollie sold himself to save the rest of his team. The grand irony is that after everyone else except Felicity abandoned him, he chose to sacrifice himself to save everyone... except the one person he should have spoken to before making this kind of decision. Then again, Ollie wouldn't be Ollie if he didn't do the wrong things for the right reasons for the sake of protecting people who don't need his protection.

It's apparent now that they are are going to use Season 7 of Arrow to play out the "Green Arrow in prison" movie that David Goyer never got to make. Hopefully that will be short-lived, because as the first few episodes of the middle half of Season 4 of The Flash proved, things get dull when your main hero is in prison.

Apart from that, it's pretty clear what happens next. John bcomes the new Green Arrow. Roy Harper comes out of hiding to help. Diaz continues to be invincible. New Team Arrow will kinda just be there. And they'll probably use Quentin's death to fuel Black Siren becoming a hero.... even though by all rights she should be in jail with Ollie, if only for having facilitated Diaz's escape.

I suppose it will be too much to hope that this was all according to plan. That Black Siren and Diaz are still working together and that everything we saw before was a play. That Black Siren didn't blast Diaz but carried him to safety with her cry (a trick we've seen Black Canary do) and that all of this is just to get her in with the rest of Star City's vigilantes so Diaz can stick the knife in later.

Unlikely, I know, but that thought will keep me warm over the next few months.