Friday, November 30, 2018

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 57

In which we clear the hills around Northwarden of moredhel, witches and goblins as we search for a missing minstrel.




Thursday, November 29, 2018

Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 7 - The Book Of Blood: Chapter 3 - The Sange

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





Plot

As Anissa and Jefferson continue their battle against Looker and work to rescue Amaya's second baby, Khalil and Jennifer begin to rekindle their relationship and Jennifer reveals her powers to him.


Influences

The Black Lightning comics of Tony Isabella.


Performances

China Anne McClain does a fantastic job in this episode, showing Jennifer Pierce to be a young lady of great strength and compassion while simultaneously acting very much like a typical teenager in regards to thinking she can't trust her parents.


Technobabble

Jefferson's suit has a camouflage mode that allows him to blend in with his surroundings.

Looker was controlling The Sange with theta waves.

The neocortex is the part of the brain involved in sensory perception, motor skills and language.

There are theories about how theta waves help animals navigate in the wild and effect behavior when people are asleep.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Jefferson discovers several of the Perdi strung up, upside down, along the forest path he was following.)
Jefferson:
Damn.
Anissa: What?
Jefferson: Let's just say... someone clearly drew a line in the sand.

Jennifer: I miss the way things used to be when I felt like me. And my family. I miss the way we used to be. And I know that... things are never going to be the same again. And there's nothing I can do about it and I hate that.

Looker: I've tried to model myself after you. I always felt like you and I had a lot in common.
Black Lightning: Yeah, I doubt that.
Looker:  No, really. We both want the drugs and crime off the street. We both make sacrifices for people that we don't even know. And the thing that I like about you the most is that you fight for your people. I fight for mine. You are a proud African American. I am a proud White American.
Black Lightning: (deadpan) You're a racist.
(There is a pregnant pause.)
Looker: Now how did you jump to racist so quick?
(Black Lightning gives her a look as if to say "You can't possibly think I'm that stupid.")
Black Lightning: (looking to his left)
Nice flag.
(POV shot revealing a Confederate flag is hung on the wall.)

(Jefferson is tied up on an improvised electric rack. Looker's henchmen, thinking he is dead, cut the power and start to leave the room. A baby's cry is heard nearby. Suddenly, Jefferson laughs. The two henchmen spin around stunned.)
Black Lightning: (eyes still closed) There she is.
(Jefferson opens his eyes which glow blue.)
Black Lightning: My power doesn't come from the suit. Thanks for the charge, though.
(Jefferson breaks the ropes binding his wrists and starts fighting the henchmen.)

Khalil: Jen? I can't... I can't see nothing.
(An orange light flares up as Jennifer makes an orange ball of lightning in her hand. Khalil spins around and sees her, stunned. )
Jennifer: Can you see now?

(Anissa is trying to explain how she thinks Looker's powers work.)
Jefferson: Please stop.
Anissa: Dad, this is really... Listen, you gotta listen to me.
Jefferson: No. No. I will pay you to stop.

Gambi: Someone tried to assassinate me. I still don't know who. It's better that they still think that I'm dead. It's safer for your family that I stay dead.
Jefferson: You gotta know by now... you ARE my family.
(Jefferson hugs Gambi forcefully.)


Continuity

It is revealed that Looker's control over The Sange is not telepathic and she still needs to speak to her followers to make her intentions known. She can, however, sense the presence of her "element" and is able to track Amaya's babies through it.

Jennifer tells Perenna that she has been seeing Khalil. She also says she feels trapped by her parents' efforts to keep her safe.

Gambi is revealed to be monitoring local phone calls for any mention of the name Pierce.

Gambi is a decent artist and is seen sketching a motorcycle.

Khalil and Jennifer meet at the Garfield High Stadium.

Jennifer refuses to abandon Khalil and advises him to try and scare Reverend Holt away again to buy time with Tobias as they figure out what to do next.

Reverend Holt says he isn't scared of Tobias.

Tobias intercepts Khalil leaving the church. Khalil runs.

Jefferson leaves the baby he rescued with Inspector Henderson.

Jennifer saves Khalil from a mob of Tobias' men, using her powers to create a blackout and short out the tracker they are using to find him.

Jennifer reveals her powers to Khalil.

Looker can elongate her nails, turning them into claws.

Looker loses control of her followers after being impaled on a clothes rack in the abandoned mall.

Jefferson decides to hand Looker over to the ASA, despite them experimenting on metahumans.

Anaya's father is revealed to be alive. Her mother died in the battle with The Sange.

Anaya's father takes her and her babies back into the fold.

Grace is continuing to have the weird issues with her skin she had in 205. She once again calms it with her medication.

Jefferson tracks Gambi to his hotel room.

Jefferson shows Gambi the transmitter he found in the South Freeland woods that tipped him off that he was alive.

Gambi says someone tried to assassinate him but he still doesn't know who.

Lynn returns home to find Jennifer missing.

Perenna tells Jefferson and Lynn she doesn't know where Jennifer is and can't tell them without violating the rules of her profession. She does tell them that she's with a boy and that she has never worked with a metahuman as powerful as Jennifer before. She cautions them that causing her to push away from them now could have dire consequences for everyone.

The episode ends with Khalil and Jennifer driving off together, leaving Freeland.


Location

South Freeland.


The Winick Factor

The revamp of Looker from the comics is just strange. It's like the show was afraid to introduce vampires into the mythology of the show, so they create a metahuman that is essential a vampire but they give her some weird metal thing instead of blood for some reason. It's all strange and confusing and barely touched upon in the episode.


The Bottom Line

Not a bad episode and not as strange as last week but it's hard to say if this one evens out to "good." The Looker storyline ends with a whimper and little explanation for the weirdness from last week. Thankfully, it's the smallest part of the episode and the largest part - Jennifer and Khalil - is more than wonderful enough to make up for the rest. It's still unclear what's going on with Grace and everything involving John and Lynn's work lives seems to have vanished completely. But the trailer promises more Jennifer and Khalil next week, so that's something.

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 56

In which we cope with what is for my money the longest, most difficult chain of combats in the game, as the Siege of Northwarden begins in earnest.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 7 - O Come, All Ye Thankful

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



Plot

As Nora grapples with her unresolved anger regarding her father's disappearance in the future, Team Flash must stop a new villain - The Weather Witch - from killing The Weather Wizard! At the same time, Cicada ponders how he became who he is and what he will do next, as it seems the police are hot on his trail.


Influences

The Flash comics of Geoff Johns (idea of Weather Wizard having a kid.)


Goofs

Logically, Nora's complaints about Barry nearly dying don't make much sense since the fact that she continues to exist means that Barry must survive.

Reference is made to Mardon's Weather Wand. While he did briefly use the device to focus his powers in Season 2, the wand was originally built by Cisco Ramon to counteract Mardon's metahuman abilities.

Where is Ralph in this episode?  Cecile and Joe's absence is explained, but not his. (Ralph has a grandmother he always spends Christmas with. Maybe he spent Thanksgiving with her this year?)


Performances

Freed from the need to grunt and looked pained, Chris Klein gives a great performance here in the flashbacks as he shows how Orlin Dwyer became Cicada.


Flash Facts

The character of Weather Witch is loosely based on a character from the Flash comics named Joshua Jackham, who first appeared in The Flash #170 in March 2001.The biological son of CCPD cop Julie Jackham and Weather Wizard Mark Mardon (The two had a one night stand with neither one knowing the other as a cop or criminal respectively), Joshua was born with the metahuman ability to control the weather. This caused Mardon to seek out his son, hoping to find a way to transfer his son's powers to himself. Joshua was later killed by Kid Zoom during the events of Final Crisis.

Jocelyn "Joss" Jackam is a delinquent teen turned amateur storm-chaser. Abandoned by Mark Mardon as a child, she wanted revenge on her dead-beat dad. Her discovery of a piece of meta-tech (i.e. a weather vane that could control the weather) gave her the power she needed to go after he father. She is given the name of Weather Witch.

There is an ironic twist considering the two different characters. In the comics, Mark Mardon gains his powers from technology and has a child who has weather-control powers.  In The Arrowverse, Mardon becomes a metahuman and his daughter uses technology to replicate his powers.

Weather Witch asks for her father to be taken to Porter Plaza. This is likely a tribute to Howard Porter - one of the artists on The Flash monthly comic.


Technobabble

An experimental cold fusion core from Mercury Labs is located in the power plant The Weather Witch first attacks.

Nora is able to rub her hands together to generate electricity, acting like a defibrillator.

A weather-vane tool Joss used became infused with a satellite shard, creating a meta-tech staff that let her control the weather in the area round her.

Using old fashioned meteorology equipment, Sherloque detects an artificially created pressure system of uncertain origin heading for downtown before Cisco's satellites detect it.


Dialogue Triumphs

Sherloque: I don't understand. Explain again to me what is the difference between this day and every other day in America?
Cisco: It's a holiday, when we all get together and celebrate and eat a ton of food. Like, a gross amount.
Sherloque: Again - what is the difference between this day and every other day in America?
Cisco: ... that's legit.

(Orlin is telling Grace about his plan to fix up the house and the dollhouse so they have a proper home.)
Orlin: Well, I was thinking that, while I work on this place, we could... work on this one too.  Together? (pauses) Listen, you were right, kid. I do hate me. I don't really know any other way to be. But... I want to do right by you, Gracie. I want to keep you safe and warm and fed. You know? Just.. give you all the things a kid should have.
(Grace looks at him skeptically but then reaches over and picks up a piece of the dollhouse furniture.) 
Grace: Let's start with the dollhouse.

Barry: Nora... people need The Flash.
(Nora pulls herself out of the hug, looks at Barry and walks away.)
Nora: I need my dad.

Cisco: By the beard of Zeus, she's making a tornado out of lightning!

(Sherloque, Caitlin and Cisco are getting drunk as part of their celebration of "the thankless." Suddenly, Caitlin changes to Killer Frost.)
Killer Frost: All right, boys. I'm tapping in.
(Sherloque spit-takes.)
Killer Frost: All right. So let me get this straight. You two losers are sitting here, in what I can only assume is the cantina of a starship, drinking and eating terrible food, when you could drinking and eating amazing food with people who actually care about you.
(Cisco and Sherloque laugh patronizling before their faces become pained.)
Both: Well, when you put it like that...
Sherloque:
She has a good point.
Cisco: You have a good point, yeah.
Killer Frost: And by the way? I have the least to celebrate this year, because I spent most of it unconscious.
(Killer Frost leaves the room and calls back.)
Killer Frost: Are you nerds coming to Thanksgiving or not?!


Dialogue Disasters

Weather Witch: I'm so pissed! This city will drown, crumble, burn, because of you!


Continuity

Barry goes to Grace Gibbons's hospital room but is stopped by Dr. Ambres. She says that Grace's parents are dead and she has no legal guardian and she has the charts to prove it.

Cicada's name is confirmed, by the flashbacks, to be Orlin Dwyer. Grace Gibbons is his niece, the daughter of his sister, who was killed in a metahuman attack.

It's Barry and Iris's first Thanksgiving at their loft.

Caitlin is now able to talk to Killer Frost telepathically without using the mental activity dampener.

Joe and Cecile are spending Thanksgiving with Cecile's family.

Nora and Iris seem to be getting along better.

The Flash Museum has a 3-D model of The Flash running into the Singularity from 201. However, the display doesn't mention Ronnie Raymond's sacrifice.

Dr. Ambres faked the charts which she showed Barry. She tells Orlin she thinks he needs to stay way from Grace from now on.

Orlin Dwyer originally did not want to take custody of Grace.

Sherloque's Earth does not celebrate Thanksgiving.

Sherloque has no family, apart from his five ex-wives. None of his seven marriages resulted in children.

Sherloque indulges in art therapy in his downtime.

Grace became a problem child, as she copied Orlin's cursing habit.

Cicada is currently strong enough to dent a refrigerator door by punching it.

Weather Wizard was last seen in 209.

Joss Jackham breaks into Iron Heights Prison trying to get to her father, Weather Wizard.

Mark Mardon fathered Joss when he was in high school and abandoned her and her mother, thinking they'd be better off without him. He claims not to have spoken to her in years but he knew she and her mom had an irreparable falling out.

Orlin Dwyer had a cousin named Robbie, who said Orlin and Grace could stay at a house he owned if Orlin fixed it up. It had a doll house, which Orlin asked Grace to help him fix.

Sherloque ruins Cisco and Caitlin's Thanksgiving cheer - first by pointing out how bad their years were and then by pointing out that the story of the first Thanksgiving is a myth that puts a happy face on the colonization of the United States and subjugation of the native peoples.

Jocelyn "Joss" Jackam is a delinquent teen turned amateur storm-chaser and is a self-taught expert in theoretical meteorology. She lost her grant from the Science Center for taking too many chances with her experiments. She had a storm-chasing van with the name Weather Witch painted on the side.

A weather-vane tool Joss used became infused with a satellite shard, creating a meta-tech staff that let her control the weather in the area round her.

Joss wants to kill her father for being a neglectful jerk.  Thankfully, the Weather Wizard she tries to drop a car on is a hologram played by Iris.

Nora tries to get Barry to give up being The Flash so they can have a life together in the future.

The night of The Enlightenment was the one year anniversary of Orlin Dwyer promising Grace that he was going to be a proper parent to her. He bought her a doll set she wanted for her doll house, bought her three ice creams and took her to the carnival to celebrate.

Orlin was struck in the chest with a piece of shrapnel from the STAR Labs satellite. Grace was knocked unconscious in the middle of the disaster.

Weather Witch attacks Sheldon County Airport.

Cisco suggests using the Weather Wand, last seen in 220, to counteract Weather Witch's powers.

The meta-tech is revealed to be stored inside The STAR Labs pipeline until they figure out how to remove the shards.

It is revealed that the reason Grandma Esther's yams had a distinctive crunch was because she never washed her best skillet.

It is revealed that Cicada's dagger is made from the piece of shrapnel that pierced his chest on the night of The Enlightenment.

Sherloque has the idea to check the hospital security footage to see if anyone has been visiting Grace in secret. This leads them to identify Orlin Dwyer as Cicada.


The Bottom Line

Decent enough. The villain of the week falls flat, thouth the episode tries to spin three different stories of how fathers and daughters connect. Unfortunately, we never truly see Mardon and his daughter connect and Nora's sudden realization that, "OMG, heroes can die trying to help people!" makes her seem like kind of an idiot, Still, the scenes revealing Cicada's motivations are touching and help make the character a bit more sympathetic, though it seems odd that he really is just a serial killer trying to kill as many metahumans as possible with no greater plan than that. Still, that could be coming...

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 4, Episode 6 - Tender Is the Nate

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





Plot

The Legends now officially on the Time Bureau's payroll thanks to Ava, but Hank Heywood is concerned about the expenses the elite team is racking up in their efforts to contain the Magical Fugitive menace. To that end, Hank comes along on a mission to 1920's Paris to audit the team and see if all six fully-active Legends are truly necessary for the team to function. Meanwhile, newbie Fugitive Wrangler Mona and Ava wind up stuck in a cell together after Mona's efforts to aid Ray in his bid to romance Nora Darhk go awry.


Influences

1920s culture and the legends of the Minotaur.


Goofs

Why are The Legends incurring expenses for The Time Bureau? Don't the replicators on The Waverider let them create any food or clothes they need? Presuming they need resources to keep Gideon running, but how was Rip paying for that in the past?

For that matter, how can The Time Bureau have financial troubles? Aren't their all sorts of tricksy things they could do to make money involving time travel, banks and interest? Or replicating rare items like gold and diamonds for fast pawning?


Trivia Of Tomorrow

The episode's title is a play upon Tender Is The Night - a  novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. which is, like the episode, set in France in the 1920s.

At one point, John says that a lute is a dangerous weapon in the right hands and makes mention of the musician Sting. In the original comics, John Constantine's physical appearance was modeled on Sting, who is reportedly also a practitioner of Tantric magic - the same school John Constantine first practiced.


Technobabble/Arcana

Each cell in the new Time Bureau containment facility is encoded with the captive's genetic signature. This allows Mona to pass them their meals without fear of them getting through the force-field to attack her.

Zari has given Gideon a digital face-lift, allowing her to project a three-dimensional hologram of a bald woman's head to represent herself

Gideon is a quantum-enhanced, artificial-intelligence capable of complete autonomous operation.

John is able to fabricate the musk of a female minotaur.

Minotaurs have amazing powers for tracking prey by scent.

The Minotaur of Greek myth was lulled to sleep by a special lute built by Daedalus.


Dialogue Triumphs

Hank Heywood: (To Ava) If I didn't know any better I'd say that you were in bed with The Legends. Either that or this Captain Sara Lance is simply screwing you.

Hank: So why does a ship, formerly manned by a single person, now need-
Ray: (running into the room) - need a crew of six? I can explain.
Nate: Hey Ray!
(The two hug.)
Nate: He means five. You mean five?
Ray: (remembering he can't talking about Charlie, speaking a bit too quickly) I mean five, I mean five. I must have been thinking about Gideon as a real person.
Gideon: Are you trying to hurt my feelings, Dr. Palmer?

(Ray and Sara are trying to explain why Charlie looks like Amaya to Nate.)
Ray: Charlie here is a shape-shifter. Except she can no longer shape-shift. It's actually a pretty crazy story.
Nate: Wait, let me guess. She turned into Amaya, conned you into not sending her to Hell and Constantine put a spell on her and now she's stuck like this?
(Everyone looks stunned that he guessed this.)
Sara: That is... really accurate, yeah.
Nate: Yeah.
Ray: I guess that's not such a crazy story.
Nate: It's insane, Ray!

Nate: Pardon moi. You said you saw a monstrous man? Can you explain?
Salvador Dali: Of course. Um - thee was a logarithmic curve to his form, the drama of his movement expressing deep, personal cosmogony.
(Mick looks to Nate, completely confused. Nate is not much better off.)
Nate: Can you draw me a picture?

(As Charlie is trying, badly, to mimic an American accent.)
Charlie: Complete and bloody rubbish, wasn't it?
Zari: Yep. It sucks.
John: Now, just remember The Yanks - they don't say rubbish. They'd say (shifting to a passable American accent.) "That was absolute garbage. I'm an American. Soccer. Yardsticks. Ranch dressing. Weasel."

Sara: (sarcastically) Yeah, just a little drunk hunting with Hemingway. What could go wrong?!

Ernest Hemingway: I'll never surrender... but I will strategically retreat!

(Ava asks why Mona wants to work for the Time Bureau when she could go to law school.)
Mona: This is my dream job! It's my mom who wants me to be a lawyer.
Nora: No. You can't give in to what your parents want. That's what I did and... look how that ended.
Ava: (laughs) Okay - you're not going to take life advice from Nora Darhk, are you? You should listen to your parents. Think about your future.
Nora: Oh. easy for you to say. At least you had a future! When I was a kid, my dad convinced me to become a demon vessel.
Ava: You think it was easy for me? At least you got to be a kid! Try being a clone from 2213, okay? The only taste of childhood I ever had was almost being killed by a Shtriga at summer camp!
Mona: Woah! Okay. I need to hear your entire life stories right now.
Ava and Nora: No!

(Sara, Nate and John walk in on Hank trying to build a battle map in the parlour)
John: Oy! Are you letting him use our D&D miniatures?
Zari: No, I didn't let him touch Cyndra, Lord of the Dark Elves.

(Sara has just kicked Hemingway's gun away as he tries to shoot the Minotaur.)
Ernest Hemingway:
I warn you - I will strike a woman!
(Sara blocks Hemingway's blow easily and counters, knocking him out with one punch.)
Sara:
That's for being on my summer eighth grade reading list.


Continuity

Mona has a number of toys, including a Funko Pop! figure of Rose from Golden Girls.

Mona gives Nora Darhk a copy of a romance novel called Uncaged Desire by Rebecca Silver.

Sara shows up at Ava's office in a trench coat and lingerie to celebrate Ava's birthday.

The expense The Legends incurred include $135 million for a new time core for The Waverider (blown up by Rip in 318), $1.7 million for historically accurate costumes and a line item for Assorted Condiments.

According to Hank Heywood, The Legends are running a nine-figure deficit.

Hank Heywood's official rank is Captain.

Hank walks in on John Constantine doing naked tai chi in the library.

Nate attempts to hug Charlie thinking she is Amaya. She slugs him.

Nate correctly guesses the sequence of events that led to Charlie becoming stuck looking like Amaya in 403.

Nate, Sara, Hank and Mick travel to Cafe du Dome and seen Salvador Dali and Ernest Hemingway.

Hank Heywood is a huge Ernest Hemingway fan and recruits him to hunt the monster in the Paris catacombs, despite not knowing what they are facing.

Salvador Dali saw some kind of monster in the Paris catacombs.

Mick makes reference to Commander Steel's death in 214.

Ray takes the jump-ship to Time Bureau HQ in 2018 to check up on Nora.

Mona agrees to take a love letter to Nora on Ray's behalf.

Nate returns to The Waverider to research Dali's sketch of the monster.

Charlie and Nate run into Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald on the streets of Paris.

Charlie recognizes the monster in Salvador Dali's drawing as a Minotaur.  According to her, rather than being lost in a maze, the Minotaur hid in the maze after being rejected by his father.

Hank sustains a shoulder wound and a broken arm fighting the Minotaur.

Mona was accepted to law school at Yale but she really doesn't want to be a lawyer.

Ava refers to the events of 404 and her one taste of childhood.

Nate has a copy of The Magical Treatises of Solomon in the Waverider library.

Mona once met Gillian Anderson at an X-Files meet-and-greet.

Some of The Legends have apparently started playing Dungeons and Dragons together between missions. Zari and John are among the players. Their miniatures are kept in the Waverider's parlour.

Nate is also a D&D player, but he never played with the rest of the Legends.

Nate does not like Tom Clancy novels, televised golf or 70s folk rock.

Ava and Nora are both fans of the show "House Hunters."

Ray shrunk himself to hide inside his love letter to Nora and got stuck in the envelope glue.

Hank plays the guitar and knows James Taylor's Sweet Baby James by heart.

Mona's mother's congee is a great hangover cure.

Nora asks Mona to take a love letter to Ray for her.

Mona calls Nora and Ray the Ross and Rachel of her generation.

Ava agrees that the prison could use a little humanity.

It is revealed that Mona put a palm tree and tropical flowers in the Kaupe's cell.

Nate officially quits The Legends to work for the Time Bureau, but says he'll always be there if they need him.

The Legends have a pizza party to celebrate the mission, taking one of Nate's suggestions.  He follows this up by suggesting Pinata Fridays, unionizing the team and a softball team.

Zari only plays electronic sports.


Location

Time Bureau HQ - Washington DC - 2018
Paris - 1927


The Bottom Line

A fair send-off for Nate's character with a lot of clever jokes and silly bits that work surprisingly well. Yet I find myself disappointed that we'll probably never get to see the Legends' D&D night. Here's hoping for a Critical Role style episode sometime soon.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 7, Episode 7 - The Slabside Redemption

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




Plot

Faced with the realization that he helped frame an innocent man for murder, Oliver Queen is looking for a way to make amends to Ben Turner. Freedom is the last thought on his mind, until his friends and family arrange a plea-bargain to free Oliver in exchange for the captured Ricardo Diaz. Unfortunately, Diaz has his own mad plans and Oliver will be forced to make a choice that will forever change his life and the lives of everyone he cares for.


Influences

Supermax (David Goyer's unproduced "Green Arrow in prison" movie.), the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game (plot of a hero trapped in a prison with a number of villains, while his worst enemy taunts him over the public address system) and The Shawshank Redemption (title, plot involving a good man being sent to prison and his eventual escape)


Goofs

Oliver seems to shrug off the sedative Stanley gave him really quickly.

Slabside does not seem to have any kind of fire suppression system, in violation of numerous federal laws that not only require prisons have sprinkler systems but have specially designed sprinkler systems that cannot be tampered with.

The CGI fire effects are painfully obvious, particularly in the shot where Diaz says "I'm a lot stronger now."

John Diggle vanishes completely in the pull-away shot from the prison as Felicity and Oliver kiss.


Performances

Michael Jai White has a fantastic turn here as Ben Turner. Hopefully Oliver will be able to make good on his promise and we'll get to see him more in Season 7 as a special ARGUS agent.


Stephen Amell manages a perfect intensity as Oliver Queen in this episode, and you can see the change to the man he was in his eyes.


Artistry

Whatever else may be said about this episode, the fight scenes are all fantastic.


Trivia

Stanley's full name in this episode is conformed to be Stanley Dover. In the comics, Stanley Dover was the name of a serial killer and sorcerer who preyed on children, known as the Star City Slayer. He befriended an amnesiac Oliver Queen in the story Quiver, intending to use dark sorcery to place his soul inside Oliver's body. His plans were eventually stopped by The Monster - a friendly demon who had attached itself to Stanley Dover's grandson.


Technobabble.

Slabside Penitentiary is a Level 4 Super-Max Facility. It has 50 guards on duty at any time, each of them a trained professional.

When your femoral artery is cut, you have maybe six minutes before you bleed to death.

The Longbow Hunters left Diaz a device capable of blocking all the phone signals in and out of Slabside Penitentiary.

Diaz's device also allows him to trigger an electrical fire after pulling two wires out of the wall in the middle of the prison cafeteria and touching them together. This also shorts out the security system.


Dialogue Triumphs

Oliver Queen: I'm gonna speak to Lyla Michaels at ARGUS. And... I'll just... see if we can make some kind of deal. Okay?
Ben Turner: Yeah. I know how much promises are worth to people like you. Especially when you make them to people like me.
Oliver Queen: That's not true.
Ben Turner: Yeah? You think I'm a criminal. You said it yourself. And criminals belong behind bars. Isn't that right?
Oliver Queen: I think that years ago you saved Lyla's life. Now, I don't know if you can be that kind of hero again. But I think you deserve the chance to try.

Oliver Queen: Ricardo Diaz is here and he will not think twice about killing us all!
Brick: No. He won't think twice about killing you. You see, I just met him. He seems a reasonable chap.

(Ben Turner has just helped Oliver fight Brick and Derek Sampson)
Oliver Queen: Turner? How did you get out of your cell?
Ben Turner: How did you get out of yours?

(Oliver is trying to get Bronze Tiger to help him take on Diaz.)
Ben Turner: There's no "we." I saved your ass so you could get me a deal with ARGUS. Doesn't mean we're some kind of team.
Oliver Queen: Did you hear Diaz? He's killing hostages. You said I was wrong about you? You said you've changed?  Prove it.

Oliver Queen: Hey, maybe... maybe prison has changed me? Compromised my judgement of people?
Ben Turner: You sure that's a bad thing? (pauses) Look.... no offense, but the old Green Arrow? He wasn't the best. He saw the world in black and white. But now you? You know there's grey out there too. Maybe that makes you a better hero?

Ben Turner: I know it's bad for you, but do you really think you're going to stop Diaz with a can of soda?
Oliver Queen: We're about to find out.


Dialogue Disasters

Just about every moment of Kirk Acevedo's hammy performance.

Stanley's "I didn't have a choice" speech.

Diaz: I promised myself I'm never gonna die in prison and I'm gonna take you with me! (To make this worse, this line is said as he's standing in the middle of a prison cafeteria)


Continuity

Oliver is told to be ready to be escorted to Receiving and Releasing in six hours.

Ricardo Diaz paid off one of the guards taking him to Slabside to help him escape.

Stanley asks Oliver to get Laurel to help him with his appeal.

Oliver tells Stanley he knows he killed Dunbar and that he will see him face justice once he is out of prison.

Oliver tells Brick that he'll never see him again after that day, though Brick says Queen will be back in prison sooner or later.

Oliver tells Ben Turner that he is going to get him out of The Hole and try and get him released into something like the Suicide Squad program. He also makes reference to Ben Turner saving Lyla Michaels' life in 216.

Oliver finishes reading The Count of Monte Cristo and focuses upon the final words "Wait and Hope."

Diaz goes to visit Oliver in the visitor's area.

Diaz tells Oliver that he was told that Oliver was being released that day and couldn't let his last chance at payback get away.

Oliver kept the materials to create an explosive hidden in his shaving kit. He uses them to free himself from his cell.

Ben Turner escapes his cell as well and helps Oliver to save some of the guards.

Stanley drugs Oliver to try and get him to help him escape through the morgue.

Derek Sampson is set on fire when the cafeteria is set on fire.

Diaz rips up Oliver's picture of Felicity and William.

Oliver beats Diaz up, leaving him locked inside his cell.

Stanely's last name is confirmed to be Dover.

Stanley Dover kills Brick before making his escape through the morgue.

Ben Turner is Inmate 5545.

Oliver leaves his copy of The Count of Monte Cristo in Ben Turner's cell.

One of the guards thanks Ben Turner for saving his life.

John Diggle and Felicity Smoak are waiting for Oliver as he leaves prison.


Location

Slabside Penitentiary


The Winick Factor

Everything about Diaz's plan to attack Slabside Penitentiary requires a Winickian level of coincidence and plot convenience to work. From there only being one guard on the drive to the prison (who Diaz is able to convince to take a bribe on credit), to his being able to work his way into the visitors area without ID, to somehow managing to run into the only guards in Slabside whose response to people being where they shouldn't be is to ask them who they are instead of going straight for the taser.


The Bottom Line

A horribly uneven mess. The fight choreography is fantastic and Stephen Amell and Michael Jai White have great chemistry together, which makes their scenes together magic. By contrast, every moment Kirk Acevedo is allowed to make dramatic speeches with randomly emphasized words and dramatic pauses is like fingernails on the chalkboard of your soul and the CGI is horribly applied in certain key scenes. Still, the good outweighs the bad... barely... and promises a lot more good in the future.

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 55

In which we pay a visit to Gorath's wife, observe the informalities of a Moredhel divorce and muse on a nonsensical Easter Egg nodding to the original Raymond E. Feist novels before we make our escape from the Northlands and see what Locklear and James have been getting up to all this time as we start Chapter Five...


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 7 - Rather the Fallen Angel

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




Plot

As James Olsen gets in too deep trying to find the leader of the Children of Liberty, Supergirl and Manchester Black join forces to root out the terrorist leader more directly... with deadly consequences for The Girl of Steel!  Meanwhile, Lena prepares to start human trials in her efforts to find a way to accelerate human evolution using Harun-El.


Influences

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (title, character named Adam who is the subject of an experiment, general theme of good people being made into monsters by the want of love), 52 (Lex Luthor's Everyman Project is similar to what Lena is attempting here.)


Goofs

Lena makes reference to Nagel's Spider In The Shower Conundrum. It may be different on Earth 38, but in our world the conundrum involves a Spider In A Urinal. (The CW censors might not have allowed them to mention urinal.)


Performances

David Ajala continues to manage an impossible balancing act as Manchester Black. On the one hand, part of you can't help but love the guy and sympathize with him even as he pushes the limits of what Supergirl can ignore with his vigilantism. And then we find out just how far he's gone and.... well, you still sympathize with him and are left wondering, like Kara, how much of his betrayal was planned out and if he truly was counting on being able to save Supergirl on his own or her being able to free herself or if he truly was throwing her to the wolves only to change his mind and save her at the last moment. It's a complex performance that perfect captures the conflicted nature of the episode's core theme.


Artistry

The script of the episode is a brilliant piece of work, full of literary allusion and complex moral arguments one doesn't usually expect to see in a CW series.

The fifth segment is well-directed, with some wonderful fight scenes and that final shot of Kara before the Torch of Liberty is a beautiful one.

The final Manchester Black costume is a dead on perfect adaptation of the costume from the comics.


Super Trivia

The title of the episode is taken from a line from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - "Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend." The line itself is a reference to Milton's Paradise Lost and how Lucifer fell because it was God's will that he fall as part of the Divine Plan where as Adam fell because of his own free will. In this, the creature Dr. Frankenstein created suggests that he is only a monster because Frankenstein's neglect made him become one.

The title somewhat mirrors the stories of most of its characters, who undertake monstrous actions in the name of love. James' efforts to investigate The Children of Liberty almost lead to him becoming a killer in the name of maintaining a cover. Manchester Black has already become a murderer because of his anger at losing Fiona to The Children of Liberty. And Lena is crossing several lines in her efforts to try and protect people by trying to create an equalizer for her species. Even Agent Liberty himself can be seen as an example of this, as his actions ultimately were born of his desire to protect his family and their employees.

Lena makes reference to Nagel's Spider in The Shower Conundrum. In our reality, this is more commonly known as The Spider In The Urinal Conundrum. The story was told by philosopher Thomas Nagel that he noticed a spider in a urinal near his office and how the poor creature seemed to survived despite being urinated upon several times a day. One day, he used a paper towel to gently remove the spider from the gutter in which it was trapped and deposited it on the ground. A day later, he found the spider was where he had left it, quite dead. Nagel used this story to show the unintended consequences of altruism and how every often well meaning attempts at helping people could cause far greater harm than doing nothing.

Shelley Island - the government base used to process alien immigrants to America - is clearly modeled on Ellis Island - the American base that handled processing immigrants in Manhattan until 1954. It is named in honor of Mary Shelley.

Lena's efforts to turn ordinary humans into superhumans are similar to Lex Luthor's Everyman Project in the mini-series 52, allowing nearly anyone who could pay the price or was willing to sign on to Lex Luthor's corporate-owned superhero team to get superpowers.


Technobabble

DISL Codes are the international standard for IDing freight containers.

Out of over 100 applicants for Lena's experiment, all but 12 were acceptably risk-tolerant.

Brainy says that the shipping label fragment couldn't be read. It was made up of 80% glue, 9.7% ink and the rest was Nalcyite - a.k.a. Nalcian table salt.

Nalcian table salt can be quite volatile on Earth and under the right conditions it has an explosive factor of 8,000 joules per gram. This is equal to a small, precise nuclear explosion.

Shelley Island has power-dampening pylons that prevent most alien powers from functioning there.

Supergirl just happens to have a yellow sun grenade to boost her powers for when she goes into areas she knows will have power-dampening tech.

Manchester has an armored vest with a Union Jack design on it that he slips on to fight the Agents of Liberty.

Manchester uses an empathy amplifier against J'onn - a device that doubles the pain an empath feels in others but keeps them from letting it out.

Adam showed signs of having extra-human powers for 3 minutes and 14 seconds before dying at 4:03 a.m.. Lena says that the experiment still gave her new information on the human genome despite his death. She predicts an 87% chance of success on future trails.


Dialogue Triumphs

Adam: Believe me. I've never been a hero. 
Lena: Neither have I.
Adam: You ever lost someone, Dr. Kieran?
Lena: Yes. She was the only hero I ever had.

Tom: I guess this is what happens when we let fear guide us.

James: But what is reputation? I mean, what is it? It's nothing. It's not who you are. So if the latest fringe group wants to tear that monument down, we will build it right back up. Agent Liberty can do whatever he wants with my reputation. I know who I am.

Lena: Bad luck doesn't make you a bad person. Bad choices do. And I would know, because I am a much worse person than you.

(Manchester pulls the mask off the fake Agent Liberty and puts a gun to his chin.)
Manchester Black: I made a deal with our dead friend over there and he did not deliver. Maybe you can. Who is Agent Liberty?
Fake Agent Liberty: If I tell you, you'll let me live? 
Manchester Black: I believe disloyalty should be rewarded.

Adam: Please let me do something good.

J'onn: You betrayed Supergirl, tonight! You betrayed me and your promise to Fiona! No vengeance is worth your soul!
Manchester Black What soul, old man?
J'onn: I saw the love you had for Fiona. How you fought for her! I also know what you're going to do. And I can't let you kill a man, even if that man is Agent Liberty. Once you cross that line, Manchester, there is no going back!
Manchester Black: You have no idea what lines I've already crossed.(points to J'onn's chest.) You see that there? That's your heart beating. Mine is dead. (half-sobbing)  And every time I close my eyes, and wait to hear Fi's voice?  There's nothing! There's just silence. (shakes his head) I'm empty, man.
J'onn: That's not true!
Manchester Black: You want to know the truth? Look.
(Manchester takes J'onn's hand and puts it on his forehead before slapping his chest with a blue electric disc with his other hand. We see visions of Manchester killing The Children of Liberty. He releases his grip as J'onn collapses to the ground.) 
J'onn:  (pained) Why won't it stop?
Manchester Black: It's an empathy amplifier. It was created to use against empaths. Double the hurt and keep everything in. If I can't escape this pain, neither can you..You shouldn't have believed in me.
(Manchester Black returns to his bike, leaving John wallowing on the ground in pain.)

Lena: I'm so sorry, Adam. I moved the spider.

(James tells Kara he's writing about his time among the Children of Liberty.)
Kara: Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about that too. Duality? How people can surprise you. Manchester Black is... bad. He killed people. He betrayed me. But... then he turned around to help me.
James: Well, maybe he wasn't trying to help you? Maybe that was just a consequence.
Kara: Yeah. I guess people only show you what they want you to see. And that's not always who they are.
James: Yeah. I mean, look at me, I... I compromised myself tonight.
Kara: You saved Tom's life.
James: But I risked everything I've worked for. Everything. My reputation. My life (pauses) Your life. (pauses) You know, though - I guess I kinda understand a little better why Lena lied to me about the DA now.
Kara: You should tell her that.


Continuity

Supergirl and Manchester Black meet up after they stop a Child of Liberty from stealing fission rods from an alien-run factory.

Supergirl agrees to contact Manchester if she learns anything about what The Children of Liberty are planning.

Agent Liberty refuses to tell James anything about his motivations and instead asks him to destroy something that is a symbol of everything The Children of Liberty stand against.

Lena's first test subect is given the designation Subject 331. He has nice green eyes, according to Eve Teschmacher. He is a Caucasian Male, 5'9", with brown hair. He has a three-inch scar on his left flank. He originally claims it was from a hockey injury but it is eventually revealed to have been from surgery to implant a kidney.

Eve Teschmacher has a cousin with cancer in hospice care. The cousin has two daughters.

Ben Lockwood's new TV show is called The Lockdown. His first episode is devoted to blaming Supergirl for the disappearance of five Agents of Liberty who were "peacefully protesting" on Thanksgiving. These agents are presumed to be the men killed by Manchester Black in 406.

Tom, the Agent of Liberty whom James stopped from taking part in the Thanksgiving night attacks, gives James back his Guardian gear and helps him to escape.

Shelley Island is an island base used by the US Government to process alien immigrants to Earth. It was shut down after President Marsdin resigned and The Children of Liberty turned it into a base.

The container Manchester Black tracks down was a sub-zero unit.  Supergirl finds part of a shipping label under it.

Supergirl rejects Manchester's help after he beats up the dock foreman with brass kunckles to get answers without trying to ask for help first.

Lema lies and says her name is Dr. Kieran when her test subject asks for her name.

Lena chose Subject 331 because of Nagel's Spider in The Shower Conundrum - a multiple choice question regarding how one treats a spider stuck in a shower. Subject 331 was the only one who made the same choice as Lena - leave it alone because you don't know what the spider wants.

Lena said she chose Subject 331 because of his response to The Shower Conundrum i.e. he showed no desire to be a hero (i.e. move the spider) but likewise didn't go out of his way to kill the spider just because he could. Lena's worst fear for her project involves creating another wannabe superhero whose power will outstrip their ability.

Subject 331 had a brother who died who was a real hero and so perfect it was nauseating.

The five dead Agents of Liberty are found. There's no evidence they were killed by aliens, with all five men having died from broken jaws, shattered skulls and gunshot wounds. Alex thinks the killings were personal.

Kara asks if a person with brass kunckles could break someone's jaw. Alex says they could if they were strong enough.

J'onn says he thinks Manchester could be a useful ally to Supergirl and says he is resourceful and clever even if he is stubborn and has a temper. J'onn says that under all his anger and pain he has a good heart.

Supergirl gives Manchester a pot pie and offers to give him a second chance.

Subject 331 confesses that his scar is from kidney surgery rather than a hockey injury. He also reveals that the reason his hero brother died is from complications donatings a kidney to save his life. He survived the transplant - his brother didn't survive having the kidney removed. Despite this, Lena stands by her decision when Subject 331 says he's a selfish person and he still wouldn't risk his life to save his brother if their situations had been reversed.

Supergirl and Manchester deduce the container was meant to hold fission rods but that it was empty before it came to port. That means it had to be emptied out on an island. Since Shelley Island is powered by fission rods, they figure that it must have been turned into a base by the Children of Liberty.

Manchester persuades Supergirl to go deal with Agent Liberty stealthily, without a big DEO team.

Manchester disables Supergirl's yellow sun grenade so she is powerless when she arrives on Shelley Island. He did this in exchange for an audience with Agent Liberty.

Subject 331's name is revealed to be Adam.

Lena reveals the only hero she ever had was her birth mother, who died when she was four. Lena says that her mother drowned while she was swimming in a lake and that Lena just stood there and watched her die.

Lena feels, on some level, that she was destined to be with the Luthors because of her own muted reaction to her birth mother's dying in front of her.

Manchester was running a con on The Children of Liberty and deduces that he isn't meeting the real Agent Liberty when the "Agent Liberty" he makes reference to Fiona. Knowing that if The Children of Liberty knew who he was and knew he was engaged to an alien who was killed by The Children of Liberty, that there is no way they'd ever let him near their real leader, Manchester reveals himself and attacks.

Manchester destroys the power-dampening pylons, allowing Supergirl to break free and remove the bombs before Shelley island is blown up.

Adam convinces Lena not to discontinue the experiment and tells her that she's a good person for wanting to help people with this treatment.  He later dies after showing signs of having powers for a little over three minutes.

James goes to Lena and asks if they can talk about rekindling their romance. She asks to see him tomorrow instead.

The final scene shows Manchester Black arriving at Lockwood Steel, suggesting he did learn Agent Liberty's true identity.


Location

Shelley Island


The Bottom Line

Easily the strongest episode of the season so far. When Supergirl comes to an end, this will likely be remembered as one of its greatest, most well-written episodes. Things that seem to be plot-holes are later explained away as foreshadowing of various elements and the whole story is full of wit, allusion and complex morality. The only aspect in which it suffers is that Agent Liberty is made into more of an outright villain by his actions here, which removes the ambiguity that most of the other characters are meant to display. Yet even though his actions here represent a further push for the line, they are still well within the boundaries established by earlier episodes.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 54

In which we undertake a mission of mercy to rescue one of Gorath's oldest enemies from the mines of Armengar to secure our means of escape from The Northlands.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 53

In which we seek a cursed artifact of the god of evil to smite our enemies but still have quite a fight for ourselves as we make our way to the city of Armengar.


Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 6 - The Book Of Blood: Chapter 2 - The Perdi

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




Plot

As Jefferson and Anissa confront the strangeness in South Freeland, Tobias orders Painkiller to take out Reverend Holt. Meanwhile, Lynn must deal with the aftermath of the deaths of half the children in her care and Freeland's response to the news.



Influences

Romeo and Juliet
(the conflict between two houses and the forbidden romance between children of both houses), the Black Lighting comics of Tony Isabella and the series Batman and the Outsiders (character of Looker).


Artistry

The fight between Tobias and Painkiller may be the best in the show's history in terms of cinematography and sheer brutality.


Trivia

Emily Briggs aka Looker first appeared in Batman and the Outsiders #25 in September 1985. A mousy, quiet bank-teller who lived an ordinary life with her husband, Emily was abducted by the people of an underground civilization known as Abyssia. It was revealed that Emily was the last of their royal line and that she was destined to undergo a transformation that would coincide with the passing of Haley's Comet. For some reason, this triggered Emily's metagene, causing her to develop immense psychic powers, peak physical prowess and stunning good looks. She would later be attacked by vampires and turned into one, though her powers protected her from the worst of the traditional vampire weaknesses. She could be exposed to sunlight and holy objects have no effect on her, but she still must ingest blood to survive and no other form of sustenance can sustain her.

The Arrowverse version of Looker seems to be a metahuman, whose powers are similar to vampirism in that she can infect other people with an element that makes them super strong and super fast. She is a racist who took over South Freeland, creating her own race of Sange with superpowers who took over the city and forced the black residents into the woods.

Mention is made of the nation of Markovia in a radio report Gambi hears while he is shaving. In the comics, Markovia is a fictional nation in the DC Universe and home to the hero Geo-Force, who was part of the Outsiders along with Black Lightning.

The names of the two groups in South Freeland- The Sange and The Perdi - seemed to be based on the French words for :"The Blood" and "The Lost".


Technobabble

South Freeland is made up of two groups - The Perdi and The Sange. The Sange are white folks with powers who terrorize South Freeland and call the other folks, mostly black folks, The Perdi.  The Sange live in South Freeland proper. The Perdi live out in the woods. The Sange are also gun-runners and have been doing so for 30 years, shortly after a woman called Looker came to South Freeland.

Looker controls something she calls The Element - the silver substance that came out of Deacon when he died. It is this Element that turns ordinary people into Sange.

The Element can be transmitted to children at conception. This is why Looker senses that The Element wound up in Anaya's babies after Deacon impregnated her.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Gambi questions the thug who was hired to kill him.)
Thug: I don't know who hired me! I got paid! I did the job.
Gambi: Obviously you didn't do the job. Or you wouldn't be sitting there.

Rev. Holt: If I'm wrong, you can take that money and buy your own clinic. Name it after your momma, for all I care. But you're not getting mine. Understand? Now, if I'm right - and I know I am - you can tell Tobias I said he can keep his money... and he can kiss my holy ass. You understand?

Tobias: (To Painkiller) Stop thinking. You're not very good at it. Just do what I tell you.

Painkiller: Yo, why are you even giving me the time of day?
Jennifer: This whole Painkiller thing is not you. We've all been through a lot. Plus, I don't want you to make any more mistakes. 'Cause you've made some bad decisions this year. Like, really bad.
Painkiller: I also made some good ones too.
Jennifer: Oh yeah? Like what?
(Painkiller takes her hand and kisses it.)


Continuity

Looker is revealed to be a woman of power in South Freeland, who has built up a network of people who are "part of her." out of former drug addicts and local officials. One of them, Jake, refuses to do her bidding, saying that she is worse than The Drugs And The Perdi and has the "worms" crawling under his skin pulled out. This kills him instantly, leaving a dried out husk behind. The worms come out as a silvery liquid, like what came out of Deacon when he died in 205.

Looker asks her followers to "follow The Element."

Gambi is revealed to be alive. We see him torturing one of the men hired to kill him, before shooting him after figuring out he doesn't know anything.

Dr. Jace's actions in 205 resulted in the deaths of 14 Green Light Babies.

Reverend Holt is the pastor of the Freeland United Methodist Church.

Rev. Holt refuses to take Tobias' money, recognizing Councilman Parker as his stooge.

Tobias orders Painkiller to kill Reverend Holt.

Painkiller discovers that Tobias was behind the attack that saw him paralyzed in 103.

Lynn only has 18 patients left - 14 children injected with the original vaccine and 4 users of Green Light. A near-riot breaks out at the press conference where she announces this and tells a grieving father they can't announce which children are still alive yet.

A radio report mentions a war in Markovia following the mysterious death of King Victor and the battle not going well for the Royalists.

Gambi is revealed to have survived the assassination attempt on him by the use of a trap door in his van.

Anissa finds Anaya and informs her that Deacon is dead. Her father has no idea who Deacon is.

Lynn is ambushed by the grieving father from the press conference, rear-ended in her car as he runs out and starts pounding on the class while trying to show her a picture of his daughter.

Painkiller tells Jennifer that Tobias is why he was paralyzed and that Tobias asked him to kill Reverend Holt.

Jennifer says she will help Painkiller to figure things out after he says he's only staying with Tobias because he has nowhere else to go.

Anissa delivers Anaya's baby only to discover that she's having twins. She winds up having one light-skinned baby and one dark-skinned baby.

Jefferson discovers that Anissa went to South Freeland as he visit Gambi's shop and sees her tracker lighting up on the computer.

A man named Joshua is revealed to be Deacon's killer. He was jealous that Anaya chose Deacon over him, as they both apparently impregnated her at the same time.

Anaya's mother tells Joshua that by killing Deacon, he has started a war.

Painkiller tries to scare Reverend Holt into leaving Freeland. When that doesn't work, he shoves him down and leaves, after Reverend Holt isn't scared even after being half-strangled to death.

South Freeland is run by two factions - the super-powered Sange gun-runners and the Perdi farmers. A woman called Looker controls The Sange.

Anaya says most of The Sange don't want to be Sange and had it forced upon them by Looker.

Anaya says Looker hates the Perdi and will stop at nothing to get her babies.

Tobias beats up Painkiller and threatens to kill him unless he kills Rev. Holt and his own mother.

The Sange are revealed to have super speed and super strength and Looker seems to control them as if through a hive-mind.

Gambi assists in the fight with The Sange remotely using an armed drone.

Jefferson speculates that Looker is a metahuman and one of the original kids who got the Green Light vaccine like him.

Anaya gets away with to Freeland with the white baby.

Anaya's parents and the other baby disappear.

Painkiller visits Jennifer and tells her he is going to go away.

Anaya's black baby is given to Looker, who becomes determined to get the white baby as well.


Location

South Freeland.


The Winick Factor

The apartheid metaphor for The Sange and The Perdi is really clumsy and heavily forced.


The Bottom Line

Jefferson says it best. "This is some weird stuff." While it's easy to see how the show runners might want to avoid the standard vampire tropes in regard to introducing Looker, the silver liquid element is as weird as the fact that South Freeland is ruled by a metahuman gang and nobody knows it or had done anything about it despite the government being shown to he heavily invested in controlling metahumans. Hopefully this will get explained in more detail next week. As is, the best parts of this episode involve Jennifer and Painkiller and not the actually superhero stuff.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 6 - The Icicle Cometh

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





Plot

As Iris, Nora and Sherloque follow a lead on Cicada, Barry, Cisco and Caitlin continue the pursuit of Dr. Thomas Snow, making a shocking discovery about him and Caitlin's Killer Frost persona.


Influences

The JSA comics of Geoff Johns (character of Icicle)


Goofs

What happened to the spare cold gun Cisco and Caitlin had? Why not use that to cool off Caitlin's dad instead of hacking a DOD laser array? (Perhaps, unlike in the comics, the cold gun doesn't quite reach absolute zero?)

Why did all of Team Flash run or teleport into a site they knew was at near-absolute zero? As Icicle says, "You people are not as smart as I thought." They could have at least put ski-masks on!


Artistry

The Icicle/Killer Frost fight is well shot and the effects work is great.


Flash Facts

The Icicle is a codename that has been used by one DC Comics hero and three villains, all of whom are related.

The first Icicle, Dr. Joar Mahkent, was a physicist who invented a freeze ray that reduced the temperature of ambient moisture. He first appeared in All-American Comics #90 in October 1947. He turned to crime using his invention, became an enemy of the first Green Lantern Alan Scott and joined the first incarnation of The Injustice Society. He later died during Crisis on Infinite Earths, having been one of the villains who attempted to save reality by storming the laboratory of the renegade Oan scientist Krona.

The second Icicle was Cameron Mahkent, son of Dr. Joar Mahkent. He first appeared in Infinity Inc. #34 in January 1987. Cameron was a mutant, who developed a natural ability to alter the temperature of the area around him thanks to his father's exposure to the radioactive elements that powered his gun altering his genetics. Though he took his father's name and was a career supervillain who joined both a new Injustice Society and The Secret Society of Supervillains, Cameron cared little for the legacy of his father or The Injustice Society - he was just a self-professed bad person who enjoyed hurting people and taking what he wanted. Cameron was far more ruthless than his father, taking no pains to avoid killing innocents in his crimes. Despite this, he still teamed up with the JSA to retake the world from The Ultra-Humanite, after the other villain successfully took over the world.

The third Icicle was a man named James Christie, who was said to have been Joar Mahkent's grandson. He adopted the original Icicle's gun and costume and continued his legacy of super-villainy. He was defeated by his sister, Doyle Christie, who briefly took up the Icicle name to become a crime fighter. However, their stories are likely out of canon, having not been referenced since the two characters appeared in The Flash Vol. 2 #56-58.

The Arrowverse version of Icicle is a dark alter ego of Dr. Thomas Snow in much the same way that Killer Frost was an alter ego of Dr. Caitlin Snow. He has the same powers to lower the temperature around him that she does.

In the first part of the episode, Cicada fights and kills a woman who has the power to turn her upper arms into large blades. This seems to be a nod to Razorsharp - a character introduced in Robin Annual Vol. 4 #2 (1993) who was created as part of the Bloodlines event. (Special thanks to James Hanifen for the information!)

Thomas Snow mentions three scientists with whom he maintained contact after he faked his death - Louise Lincoln, Victor Fries and Harrison Wells.  In the classic DC Comics, Louise Lincoln was the second villain to use the name Killer Frost and Victor Fries became the villain Mr. Freeze.


Technobabble

Cisco used an impact extrapolation algorithm to predict where 46 locations where the dark-matter infused shrapnel landed and where Cicada must have been when he was injured.

Caitlin measures the amount of dark matter in Cisco's system, determining the levels of concentration were higher than anything she'd seen before. This leads them to conclude that the metal that made Cicada's dagger came from the core of Sally The Satellite. This means that rather than checking 46 locations, they just have to find where the core shrapnel landed.

The dermis of Thomas Snow's skin is crystallizing and spreading across his body, due to a cryogenic malignancy and a somatic mutation. It is not contagious but it is rewriting his genetic code. It spreads whenever his emotions spike and will eventually kill him.

Thomas Snow reveals that he determined Caitlin had the genetic marker for ALS at a young age. He tested his cryogenic cure for ALS on her after trying it on himself. He made alterations to try to make it safer, but it still caused Caitlin to develop a disassociate identity, which he called Khione.

Caitlin suggests creating a serum based on her cells to stabilize Thomas' body. This would require his atoms to stop oscillating, by reducing his body temperature to absolute zero.

Thomas says that, in theory, his body should be able to withstand sub-zero temperatures.

Barry suggests using a laser-cooling array to freeze Thomas and notes the DOD just built one outside of Central City. This decide is capable of creating isotopes that can freeze carbon dioxide.

Cicada is said to have abrasions and possible internal injuries after his last fight.

Caitlin's serum, if given to a normal human, will repress their other persona. If given to a cryogenic metahuman, however, it will forever kill off their human side.

Absolute Zero is -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit. (-460 rounded down)

At extreme cold temperatures, a person won't see their breath because their is no unfrozen moisture in the air.


Dialogue Triumphs


Cisco: (talking to himself) You all think I can just hack anything, huh?
(Cisco looks up and sees a picture of himself, Caitlin, Barry and Harrison Wells.)
Cisco: (confident) Yeah. I can hack anything.

Icicle: My daughter! You've returned!
Killer Frost: You aren't my family. (gestures to the rest of Team Flash) They are.

The Flash: You're not alone anymore.
(Killer Frost changes back to Caitlin)
Caitlin:
Neither am I.


Dialogue Disasters

All of Cecile's attempts at playing tough.


Continuity

Cicada's dagger also acts as a metahuman detector. We see him use it to go after a woman who can change her upper-arms into long blades.

FEMA set up medical treatment sites after the Enlightenment.

Sherloque is reluctant to have Nora come with him and Iris.

Ralph goes to get Joe to go to FEMA to get a list of fathers who got medical treatment at their sites after The Enlightenment. He winds up taking Cecile instead.

Cisco locates the Tannhauser black-ops site where Thomas Snow was last seen one week after his reported death. It is in the far north, practically at the North Pole.

Thomas Snow says he stayed in contact with three scientists after he faked his death - Louise Lincoln, Victor Fries and Harrison Wells. It was Harrison Wells who gave him a full video uplink to STAR Labs, which let him watch the events inside the building but it left him unable to make contact through it. It also only started working again recently.

Thomas Snow began experimenting with cryogenics to cure his ALS and he quarantined himself for everyone else's safety. He was able to freeze the progression of the disease but has yet to find a cure. He was able to survive for 20 years by carefully preserving his rations and spending months at a time in cryogenic suspension.

The FEMA assistant field director refuses to give Cecile and Ralph any information without a warrant.

Cisco is suspicions of Thomas' story.

Thonas has missed cherry soda, popcorn, Jitters coffee and peanut butter and jelly waffles.

Thomas suddenly collapses in the middle of his walk with Caitlin, his arm icing over as he passes out.

Thomas is responsible for creating Caitlin's Killer Frost persona, having used an experimental ALS cure based on cryonics on her. The cure worked, but it caused her to develop a disassociative identity and gave her a metahuman power to generate intense cold.

Cicada's daughter's name is Grace Gibbons.

The doctor treating Grace seems to hate metahumans.

Cecile is not a Trekkie.

Iris gives Nora instructions on how to make a vortex, like Barry did when he fought King Shark in 215 and when Iris fought "The Hotness" (aka Eric Fry) in 416.

Cisco returns to Thomas Snow's lab and accidentally vibes an image of him putting something into a container of liquid nitrogen.

Cisco finds frozen skin grafts in Thomas Snow's lab. This leads him to speculate that Thomas Snow did develop a second personality and that the crystallization of his skin went further than he admitted.

Thomas Snow admits that he had been using the skin grafts to cover his face, hands, arms and chest to cover up further outbreaks of his condition.

Cecile and Ralph realize the FEMA assistant director has been pocketing the money from various claims and used them to buy himself a Lamborghini.

Cicada is seen passing out after returning from the hospital with some kind of medication.

Caitlin realizes, a bit too late, that the messages from her father were from his human self and not his metahuman personality.

Caitlin is able to change into Killer Frost once again when she realizes that the freeing cold of near Absolute Zero isn't affecting her. She is able to beat back Icicle and destroy the serum before he can use it.

Caitlin realized that her mother and father were probably trying to protect her from Icicle.

Cisco suggests that when DeVoe attacked Killer Frost, he didn't rewrite Caitlin's DNA to take away her powers using Melting Point's powers in 418. Instead, he used the telepathic powers of Brainstorm to create a mental block that kept her from changing into Killer Frost.

Cisco suggests using Harry Wells' mental activity dampener as a means of communicating with Killer Frost so that Caitlin can eventually transform at will again.

Iris, Nora and Sherloque recover the core of Sally and confirm it has a lightning-shaped piece of shrapnel missing.

Ralph and Cecile determine that three children were hit by shrapnel on the night of the Enlightenment. One of then was a 10 year old girl named Grace Gibbons.

Cicada's first name is revealed as Orlin.

In the final scene, the doctor discovers Orlin in a weakened state. She offers to treat the wound in his chest but he says that it is making him stronger.


The Boomerang Factor

Everyone suddenly forgets that extreme cold stops superspeed from working and that ordinary people can't function at -200 below either.


The Bottom Line

A rare episode that gives us more answers than questions. We now know the truth of Caitlin's powers and her father's story and how Cicada became who he is. The only real questions now are what happens next with all of this.  Still, the whole thing feels a little flat due to a lack of action and our characters having to be total idiots in order for the villain to be a threat. Still, the ensemble acting is solid enough and it's worth it to have Killer Frost back.

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 4, Episode 5 - Tagumo Attacks!!!

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




Plot

The trail of the latest fugitive leads to Tokyo, where the timeline has been altered after the city was destroyed by a giant octopus in 1951. While most of The Legends are dealing with that, Ray goes off in search of Nora Darhk while Nate and Ava have an awkward Thanksgiving dinner at the Heywood house.


Influences

The Kaiju genre of film (giant monsters, primarily Japanese in origin, ala Godzilla), the movie Groundhog Day (Gary makes reference to this and how he keeps repeating the same scenario with Mona) and the movie Jaws (Sara's reference to needing a bigger time-ship, sea monsters, etc.)


Goofs

A real Renaissance festival would be unlikely to allow anyone to carry a real sword in public without it being peace-bound so it could not be drawn.

Ishiro Honda was a soldier in the Japanese army and he did have nightmares of his time during the war. However, he was not stationed in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on it, as this episode suggests. At that time, he was being imprisoned in a Chinese interment camp somewhere between Beijing and Shanghai. (It is possible he just had nightmares based on the Hiroshima bombings despite not having been there.)

It should be noted that Ishiro Honda was one of Godzilla's "fathers" and that the original idea of a giant monster movie centered around an octopus started with special effects producer Eiji Tsuburaya. Honda did co-write the eventual screenplay for Godzilla with Takeo Murata, which transformed the giant octopus into a giant lizard.


Artistry

The cinematography of the episode mimics that of Ishiro Honda's movies, filmed low to the ground with a wide-angle lens to make the figures in certain key shots look bigger.


Trivia Of Tomorrow

The title-card logo for this episode is written in Japanese.

Ishiro Honda - the director who filmed the Fugitive monster in this episode - was the real-world director of the first Godzilla movie in 1954. He also filmed Rodan and many other classic Kaiju movies.

In the episode, Honda describes his creation of the monster Tagumo as a way to grasp the horror of the atom bomb. This reportedly was what truly inspired the creation of Godzilla and other Kaiju monsters and made the movies so successful in Japan.

While he is dyning, John Constantine says the name Dez.  John had two friends named Dez in the original Hellblazer comics. One, Dez Ridley,  was a friend of John's who was kidnapped by neo-Nazi gang leader Charlie Patterson and beaten to death due to his black skin and his association with John in Hellblazer #66. Dez was also the name of a hacker John hired to investigate a disruption of ley lines through England. This Dez got too close to the truth and had his hands cut off as punishment in Hellblazer #111.

Hank Heywood says the phrase "Let's make like a treat and leave." This is a reference to actor Tom Wilson's most famous role as Biff Tannen from the Back to the Future films, where the villainous Biff would routinely flub the old saying.


Technobabble/Arcana

Baba Yaga is a witch from Slavic folklore. Different stories depict her as a villain who eats children, but she does show up in some legends as a neutral figure who might use her magic to help those who seek her out. She is most famous for her hut, which stands on chicken-legs and for flying in a giant mortar and pestle

The Time Bureau uses double doses of elephant tranquilizer to keep captured Fugitives subdued.

Brigid was the Celtic goddess of art, creation and healing. Her book is capable of making fantasy into reality.

Life force is the most potent form of energy in the universe. Nora describes John as a batter that's almost too far gone to be recharged. The only way she can use her powers to save John's life is by sacrificing someone else's.

A Kaupe is a malevolent Hawaiian spirit with a canine head. They are said to call out at night, luring people to isolated locations before killing them.

A Chupacabra is a creature born of the folklore of Mexico, the southern United States and the Caribbean. It feeds on the blood of livestock animals, particularly goats.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Zari walks into Mick's room, where he is crumpling up a piece of paper in frustration while sitting at a typewriter.)
Zari: Hey.
Mick: Closed door means stay out!
Zari: Sorry. Sara called a team meeting and-
(Zari realizes that Mick is working on his novel.)
Zari: Were you...?
Mick: Yes! I was watching porn.
Zari: (dryly) On a typewriter?

Gary: Say hello to Baba Yaga. We caught her trying to eat Chinese gymnasts at the 2008 Olympics.
Baba Yaga: (in Russian, as she lunges at Henry) I will peel the skin from your face!
Henry Heywood: What did she say?
Gary: Just a... typical Russian greeting.

(Upon seeing the footage of the giant octopus)
Sara: Guys? I think we're going to need a bigger time-ship.

(Ava is trying to cover-up Nate's absence.)
Ava: Do you know what we would do in my family? We would actually go around and list all the things that we're thankful for.
Dot Heywood: What a lovely idea!
Grandma Violet: (grumbling) I'm thankful I'm still breathing.

Nate:What does a Kaupe, Chupacabra and a Baba Yaga eat?
Mona: That would be Hawaiian barbecue, Birria and Veal. Babies, more precisely, but veal will do in a pinch.
(Nate just looks at her.)
Mona:
I read a lot.

(Ishiro Honda is shivering as the shrunken Tagumo moves in on him. Suddenly, a woman with a sword is standing between him and the monster. She has three breasts, leather armor that highlights each one and a determined look as she twirls her sword, nods to Mick and engages Tagumo. Zari, Charlie and Sara look on in shock.)
Mick: Meet Garima - Queen of Thanzanon.

(Garima strides over to Mick.)
Mick:
Hi. I'm Mick.
(Garima grabs Mick and kisses him forcefully. He grabs a hold of her and responds in kind.)
Zari: (reading from the book of Brigid) "With the monster vanquished, Garima and her beloved Buck made passionate love in the ruins of the city."
(The Legends all smile at this romantic ending as we hear the sound of  the set being destroyed. Ishiro Honda looks horrified as Zari, Charlie and Sara slowly come to look disgusted.)
Sara: Okay. Let's go. Now.
(Everyone hurriedly leaves the set as we hear the sounds of loud banging. Dealer's choice as to whether or not that's a euphemism.)


Continuity

John is still near death following the events of 404. Ray says that magic may be the only thing that can save him and suggests finding Nora Darhk.

Sara recalls a fugitive her father had spent years tracking, only to discover he was living not a block away from SCPD headquarters. This inspires her to search 2018 near the Time Bureau for signs of Nora Darhk.

Mick is seen working on his novel, first referenced in 311.

The Time Bureau has multiple teams besides the Legends working to subdue fugitives, all of them trained by Nate.  They are currently in the middle of building a holding facility to contain them all.

Ava is invited to dinner at the Heywood house.

Nate does not enjoy Thanksgiving, associating it with drunken family fights.

Charlie says the giant octopus is not a fugitive and she's sure it's a man-made monster - a mutant created by radiation.

Nora is working as a serving wench at a Renaissance festival in Reston, Virginia.

Nate has a cousin named Patty, who has two uncontrollable sons, Tyson and Chris.

You should not play cards with Nate's grandmother, Violet.

You should not mention Barack Obama to Nate's uncle Rich.

Rich is also apparently a heavy drinker, who goes for the expensive booze first.

Mona, the delivery person from 403, appears again. It is revealed that Gary has blanked her mind regarding the purpose of the Time Bureau every time she has delivered food to him.

Mona's family all live in Los Angeles, so she is spending Thanksgiving alone.

Gary asks Nora to spend Thanksgiving with him in the Time Bureau office.

Mona is a vegetarian.

Nora agrees to look at John Constantine, since she feels she owes Ray for helping her escape from the Time Bureau.

Charlie says that the fugitive is not the giant octopus but a leather-bound diary that is an agent of Brigid - i.e. a book that can make fantasy into reality. The book is also attracted to creative types and finds its way to them. It was intended to be Brigid's gift to humanity, letting them bring dreams to life.

Ishiro Honda confirms that he found the book while location scouting and that the giant octopus was born of a recurring nightmare he had. He calls the creature Tagumo.

According to Charlie, the only way for the creations of Brigid's journal to be destroyed is for their story to be played out in full. This means that the monster will disappear once Tokyo is destroyed.

Nora says that her magic powers came from her father and that she's resisted using her power for fear of being corrupted by it. As such, she refuses to heal John and John says it is better she stay clean and not fall off the wagon.

All the fugitives being kept in the Time Bureau escape captivity while Gary is having his "date" with Mona.

Mona recognizes the Kaupe.

Mona is able to suggest take-out that would correspond to the diets of various mythological monsters.

John says the name "Dez" while he is weak and hallucinating.

Nora has a vision of the dark-skinned man who is apparently hunting John. When Nora asks who he is later, John just says "The past."

Nora feeds off a live-wire and channels the energy into life force to save John.

Mick uses Brigid's book to bring one of his characters to life to fight Tagumo - Garima, the three-breasted warrior queen of Thanzanon.

Mick takes the book of Brigid with him after advising Honda that "lizards are King." This apparently inspires the creation of Godzilla - King of the Monsters.

Honda likewise advises Mick that three boobs is enough when he ponders a fourth breast for Garima.

Charlie buys Sara a new bottle of booze as an apology for everything she drank from Sara's personal stash before and says she's satisfied that Sara isn't as ruthless as she pretends to be.

Mona is hired on by the Time Bureau as a creature wrangler.

Nora says she isn't afraid of her magic for the first time in her life.

Nora turns herself in to the Time Bureau.

Mick's writers block is cured and he finishes another book about his protagonist Buck and Garima.

John locks The Book of Brigid in his chest.

Henry Heywood gets a call from someone. He tells them the Fugitives can be controlled and says Project: Hades is go.


Location

Tokyo - 1951
Reston, Virginia - 2018
Washington D.C - 2018


The Bottom Line

A brilliant holiday special. The bits with The Heywood family come off a little too cliched, though that's likely by design and the jokes they set up later make it all worth it. The Nora/Ray subplot seems a little underdeveloped but we'll hopefully get to see the two interact more. Everything else, however, is top-notch. This has got to be the only show where a battle between a three-breasted alien warrior queen and a giant octopus would be just a footnote rather than the centerpiece of the action and I am so thankful it exists.

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 7, Episode 6 - Due Process

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




Plot

Felicity continues her odd alliance with Black Siren, who tries to use the power of the District Attorney to get Oliver Queen a new trial. Meanwhile, a guard at Slabside is murdered and everyone is a suspect, but the focus of the official investigation falls on Oliver Queen's one friend in prison, Stanley.


Influences

Supermax (David Goyer's unproduced "Green Arrow in prison" movie)


Goofs

Black Siren says that the FBI failed to keep their end of Oliver Queen's plea-bargain since Ricardo Diaz is still at liberty. It was pointed out repeatedly by Agent Samandra Watson that Oliver's surrender was contingent on the FBI bringing down Diaz's empire - not capturing Diaz himself.

Apart from that, Black Siren's plan is just idiotic and seems to confuse an appeal with a dismissal. She asks for Oliver's conviction to be overturned for reasons that have nothing to do with his original trial and the fact that he helped to expose corruption inside the prison he was being held in and was beaten for his trouble, while troubling, has no relevance to whether or not he was guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted or whether he made a plea-bargain in bad faith.

Additional: Everyone seems to have forgotten that Laurel Lance was once Oliver Queen's long-term girlfriend and Black Canary before her apparent death. Both of those should have been reason enough for a judge to deny "Laurel" the right to represent Oliver Queen in court, due to the massive conflict of interest.


Performances

Emily Bett Rickards continues to slay as she showcases Felicity's sliding down the slippery slope of idealism.


Artistry

The action sequences with the silenced sound and muffled effects continue to impress.  In fact, the whole of the fifth-segment action sequence is well blocked and well directed.


Trivia

This episode introduces a former KGB associate of Anatoly's named Pytor Roslov. This was also the name of the head of the KGB in the graphic novel Superman: Red Son, who was that world's equivalent of Pete Ross - Clark Kent's best friend growing up on Earth Prime.


Technobabble

There is a color variation on the hologram map of The Glades Felicity sent William. He thinks that is where she wanted them to go.

Felicity uses a Cyrillic dictionary to attack the table of hashed password to hack Roslov's computers.

BETAB-500 is a top of the line aerial explosive that can cut through concrete like it was nothing. Diaz buys two of them. It is later revealed that this particular model of the BETAB-500 is a newer model that can be attached to a pipe, like a gas line.

The bombs are wired together in such a way that they must be deactivated simultaneously. Otherwise, the other bomb is triggered. Each linking device is protected by its own cryptokey.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Black Siren tells Oliver that she is handling his defense.)
Oliver: Felicity would have told me if she was working with you. And the only reason that you would ever help me - or anyone - is if there was something in it for you.
Black Siren: That's not true!
Oliver: Yes, it is. You're the reason that Diaz got away in the first place. Do you remember?
Black Siren: (bitterly) You know the Ollie that I knew? He had a hard time taking responsibility for his failures too.
Oliver: You know what's amazing? (pauses) You are nothing like her. So go ahead and pretend to be Laurel. My Laurel. For as long as you want. You never will be. Ever. (pauses) Stay away from my wife.
(Oliver slams the phone down and gets up, walking away.)

(Diggle is trying to figure out how ARGUS, The SCPD and Felicity's team all wound up at the same ambush.)
Black Siren: We planted a tracker on The Silencer's belt. Obviously Diaz must have found it and was using it as bait against us.
Dinah: (To Felicity) How did you manage that? You were nowhere near The Silencer at The CDC!
Curtis: That thing at the CDC was you guys?!
Rene: Uh - Felicity wasn't near her. I was. We snuck her out together.
Dinah: So you two captured The Silencer?!
Rene: But Felicity and Laurel were the ones that tortured her.
Black Siren: Actually, I convinced her not to. You're welcome.
Diggle: (To Felicity) So now you're working with Laurel?
Black Siren: I'm standing right here!
Dinah: To be fair, she did help shut down that illegal psychiatric program at Slabside.
Rene: (To Dinah) Wait. Hold on a second. You're gonna give me crap about working with the new Green Arrow and meanwhile you're siding with the Black Frickin' Siren?!
Black Siren: Again. Still here.
Felicity (To Rene): You're working with the new Green Arrow?!
Curtis: Guys! I think that the whole point of this is that maybe we could pick up our phones a little more, huh? Shoot a text. (suddenly annoyed) Yeah. I am totally talking about the fact that everyone forgot my birthday last week!
Felicity: (having lost all patience) Your party is next week! Act surprised! Okay. Now that all of our deep, dark secrets are out, do you think we could switch our focus back to the psycho who just tried to blow us up?!
Anatoly: (having been sitting quietly watching this argument unfold) Sounds like good idea.

(Anatoly has said he is not helping ARGUS and that he intends to go somewhere tropical.)
Felicity: I think it's really hard to travel when you're on Homeland Security's Most Wanted List.
Anatoly: Yes, but I am on no such -
(Comprehension dawns as he turns around to regard Felicity)
Anatoly: You are threatening me?
Felicity: Call it an enthusiastic suggestion.

Felicity: I am willing to do whatever it takes to end this!
Diggle: But then what?  Felicity, I've known you for a long time and you are a good person. But I've been to the front-lines and I know exactly what that does to people. I just hope that when this war is over... you still come out a hero.

Anatoly: Regret. Guilt. These are demons you choose to live with. A trade you make to get what you want. How bad do you want to kill Ricardo Diaz?
Felicity: More than anything.
Anatoly: Well then you embrace demons. No more half measures. When I work with Oliver in Russia - he was not villain. But he did what needed to be done. You remind me of him then.
Felicity: What would that Oliver have done in this situation?
Anatoly: He would have ended Diaz. And he wouldn't care about the cost.

Dinah: (To Black Siren) Did you even bother to listen to yourself in court? You spoke from your heart. Big surprise, by the way - you do have one.

(Black Siren has just told Oliver that they lost his appeal.)
Oliver: Must be difficult to win a case when you're not a real lawyer.

(Felicity sees Anatoly drinking from a flask outside the police station.)
Felicity: Vodka?
Anatoly: What, because I am Russian? That is stereotype!
(Anatoly looks at her before offering her the flask.)
Anatoly:
But, da. Yes. Vodka. I only have a bit left.
(Felicity waves it away.)


Dialogue Disasters

Black Siren: I don't want your thanks. I didn't do this for you. I did this for me. And no, I am not your Laurel. I'm not the old Laurel. I'm me! Everyone has good and bad inside of them and you can't put people in one box or the other. Ever.


Continuity

Diaz tortures Anatoly, saying he isn't killing him until he uses him to destroy Oliver Queen.

Level 1 has new guards that conduct cell-checks every half hour. The inmates also get less yard time.

Stanley hasn't suffered too much, apart from Brick having it out for him since he was the only one Brick could get to after Oliver shut down Brick's fight club in 703.

Dunbar, the guard in Brick's employ, got a slap on the wrist for his part in running the fight club. Still, he has turned on Brick and started harassing him.

The entire Bratva was apparently killed, according to chatter on the dark web.

Diaz sets up a trap using The Silencer's belt and Felicity's tracker to try and take out Team Arrow, ARGUS and Dinah's SCPD team.

Officer Dunbar is killed and Stanley is blamed and sent to The Hole.

Pytor Roslov is a former KGB agent with ties to the Russian military and a former associate of Anatoly's. Anatoly says that Diaz contacted him about a weapon capable of destroying a city.

Anatoly agrees to help get information on what Diaz bought in exchange for safe passage to The Maldives.

Oliver finds the knife used to kill Dunbar hidden behind a loose tile in the prison shower.

Dinah goes to watch Black Siren's petition hearing.

The federal judge denies Black Siren's petition to appeal Oliver's case, though she does agree there needs to be an investigation of Slabside's treatment of its prisoners.

Bronze Tiger's prints are found on the knife that killed Dunbar.  He is thrown in The Hole, while proclaiming his innocence.

Dinah says that she didn't believe Black Siren's talk of changing until she heard hear speak about how hard it is to be a hero when nobody expects you to be one.

Dinah stops Black Siren from killing the judge who ruled against Ollie.

Felicity determines that Diaz is planning on using a gas plant to set all of Star City on fire by blowing up the gas lines and setting them on fire with the BETAB-500s.

The new Green Arrow joins the fight against Diaz at the gas plant, stopping him from triggering the bomb and knocking him out.

The Longbow Hunters escape, but Diaz is captured.

Black Siren tells Oliver that the appeal failed but that the judge ordered an investigation of Slabside.

Felicity makes good on her promise and gets Anatoly a fake passport with the name Jason Brown.

Anatoly gives Felicity his gun and advises her not to look back now that she's captured a dragon.

Felicity almost kills Diaz but is stopped by Black Siren.

Black Siren tells Felicity that she made a deal with The Feds - if Oliver agrees to help them with their case against Diaz, he can go free.

Stanley is released back into general population.

Oliver asks Stanley how he knew the weapon that killed Officer Dunbar was Bronze Tiger's knife when he was in The Hole when word got out that Dunbar was stabbed to death. This indicates that Stanley was the real killer.

William doesn't drink.

Felicity was murdered several weeks before William went to Lian Yu.

Felicity became a vigilante and started calling herself The Calculator. She cut ties from the rest of Star City's heroes. Dinah says that she was running in dangerous circles.

William and Zoe apparently knew each other pretty well before William left Star City. He calls her the girl who loves getting into trouble. She calls him the boy who has to know everything.

Roy says that the message he found in Oliver's bow in 702 that convinced him to come to Star City was something called The Mark of Four.

Roy says that he and Dinah should keep the Mark of Four secret from the rest of the team.

Dinah says nobody has seen William Clayton in years and they have no reason to trust him. Unlike Roy, Dinah doesn't think the fact that he is Oliver's son makes William trustworthy.

Felicity has a lock on her hideout that requires three bouncing balls be shot with arrows to deactivate the security system. This is a nod to how Oliver used to train in the Pilot episode.

The last file Felicity accessed were structural maps of key buildings in Star City, including city hall, the central library and the old Rockets arena. There are also semantics for explosives and the money to build them. This would result in destroying all of Star City that is not The Glades.

It is unclear if Felicity was part of the plan to blow up Star City and got cold feet or if she was trying to stop the plan and summoned help when she got in too deep.

Feliicty's last call was to someone called Blackstar.


Untelevised Adventures

Diaz is said to have killed all the Bratva off-camera.


The Bottom Line

A solid episode, that finally gets Team Arrow on the same page and shows what happens when our heroes actually work together and stop keeping secrets from one another. It has a few flaws, particularly in how it handles an appeal trial, but I'm willing to forgive this given the whole thing subtly shows what a crappy lawyer Black Siren is and how she has no interest in redemption or being a hero. Much as I loathe the character, I find her embracing her wickedness far more palatable than the wishy-washy "will-she-or-won't-she" redemption arc from last year.

Strangely enough, the flash-forwards this time fall kind of flat, with no real new information being revealed and a lot of mysteries (like this Mark of The Four) that don't give enough clues for the viewer to guess at their meaning. Still, not bad at all.