Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 50

In which we reach the end of Chapter Three and start Chapter Four. The bad news is we're in the dungeons of the Moredhel leader Delekhan. The good news is we're about to get the best spell in the game.


The Flash Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 5 - All Doll'd Up

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




Plot

In an effort to distract Iris from the revelation that she tried to depower their daughter in the future and the increasing tension between her and Nora, Barry asks Iris for help in tracking down a disturbing new metahuman criminal called Rag Doll. Meanwhile, Caitlin discovers a startling secret about her father.


Influences

Gail Simone's run on Secret Six (character of Rag Doll) and the Cold Comfort episode of Batman: The Animated Series.


Goofs

Rag Doll robs the mansion at night, seemingly in the early evening, but it is day when Barry is seen investigating the crime scene.

How does Nora think she's assembling the crib without any screws or pegs? She may be quick to act and slow to think, but she's not that stupid.

Who called in the bomb threat at Seaver Architecture to the police?


Performances

Troy James is a wonder as Ragdoll - not only for his talent of contortion but also for how he captures the playful yet twisted nature of the character from the comics. From the moment you see him silently try on the necklace he is stealing, you know they perfectly captured the essence of Gail Simone's creation.


Artistry

To give the writers credit, they do come up with a valid reason to keep Cisco from using his powers from solving the mystery of Caitlin's missing father or who Cicada is and cleverly show why that isn't an option while giving the detective heroes a chance to show off and allowing us some nice character moments. Well done.


Flash Facts


The first version of Rag Doll first appeared in Flash Comics #36 (December 1942). The son of a carnival barker, Peter Merkel found work in the circus as a contortionist thanks to his being born with a rare condition that made him triple-jointed.  Unfortunately, hard times caused Merkel to be let go by the circus and led to his perusing a unique career as a criminal. Dressing as a giant rag doll, Merkel would arrange to be set up in different toy stores and department stores as a display and then rob the shops at night, trusting in his outlandish costume and erratic movements would discourage police from believing reports that a giant rag doll was robbing the store. Soon, Merkel would begin pulling his scam by having himself delivered as a gift to rich families with children and start robbing whole mansions. The Jay Garrick Flash eventually brought Merkel to justice.

Merkel had several children who took up his legacy. One of them was an unnamed son, who inherited his father's triple-jointed condition, and had his blessing to use the Rag Doll name.

Another son, Peter Merkel Jr., did not inherit his father's power but had a series of experimental surgeries to replicate the effect, though this left him horribly scared - physically and mentally. Peter Merkel Jr. used the name Ragdoll (one word) and was a member of the Secret Six, first appearing in Villains United #1.

Merkel also had a daughter named Alex, who went by the code name Junior, and became one of the most heavily feared crime bosses on the West Coast of the United States.

The Arrowverse version of Rag Doll wears a costume based on the Peter Merkel Jr. version of Ragdoll, but his name is Peter Merkel. Unlike his comic-book counterpart, he is a meta-human, who gained the power to contort his body on the night of The Enlightenment after being crushed under debris. He seems to have limited ability to reshape his bod,  pounding his hand into a flat shape with no apparent discomfort to use it as a lever on a locked box, but he cannot shape-shift at will like Elongated Man. He is durable enough to survive a skyscraper being bombed into rubble. He is revealed to be the son of a noted billionaire named Theresa Merkel.

The Arrowverse version of Rag Doll is played by contortionist Troy James. His voice is provided by Phil LaMarr, who has voiced many other DC Comics characters in animation, such as Aquaman, the John Stewart Green Lantern and Static.

Cecile offers to tell Nora about Barry's encounter with a race of golden giants in an alternate past called the Grodans. First appearing in The Flash #120 (May 1961), the Grodans were discovered by Barry and Wally West when an earthquake combined with Barry's vibration accidentally sent them into the past.

When Cisco sees the formula Thomas Snow was working on in his vibe vision, he says it looks like the formula for heavy water. In the classic Flash Comics, Jay Garrick gained his super-speed following an experiment that involved heavy water.

Rag Doll's motivation for his crimes is revealed to be stealing or destroying the things people value most so as to inflict as much suffering as possible on them. This is similar to what Mr. Freeze did in Cold Comfort - an episode of Batman: The Animated Series where Mr. Freeze committed a series of crimes purely to destroy the things people treasured most, such as an artist's greatest work,  a priceless dinosaur skeleton, an elderly woman's beloved dog and the orphaned Bruce Wayne's foster family.

When Rag Doll kidnaps Barry, he takes him to the roof of the Eaglesham Apartment Building on Simone Avenue. This is in honor of Gail Simone and Dale Eaglesham - the comic book writer and artist who co-created the Peter Merkel Jr. version of Ragdoll.

Ralph uses his powers to swing between buildings in this episode, in a tribute to Spider-Man. (Coincidentally, this aired one day after the death of Spider-Man creator, Stan Lee.)

Cisco re-purposes The Thinker's four other satellites for STAR Labs' use, naming them Robby, Hal, Colossus and Data. All of these are the names of famous artificial-intelligence from science fiction. Robby was the name of the robot in Forbidden Planet. Hal was the treacherous ship's computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Colossus is a nod to the advanced defense system that becomes sentinent in Colossus: The Forbin Project and Data was an android who was part of the crew of the USS Enterprise on Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Technobabble

Sherloque claims to have developed a complex formula involving the terminal velocity and weight of the STAR Labs satellite and the velocity of Barry and Nora when they impacted with the satellite that allows him to chart the shrapnel patterns and determine the perimeter of the area in which Cicada must have been when he was empowered.

Caitlin says they could have used STAR Labs' satellite to run DNA recognition patterns to locate her father

The necklace Ragdoll steals is made of flawless ascher-cut diamonds set in platinum, with over 383 karats.

Cisco describes Thomas Snow's formula as hydrogen chains bonded over and over to oxygen at Absolute Zero. The numbers in the formula correspond to the periodic table numbers of several elements, spelling out the word "KHIONe".

Khione is the name of the Greek goddess of snow. She was a daughter of Boreas, the north-wind, and Oreithyia, the lady of mountain gales.

The hair Barry found at the crime scene is human, but he can't get a DNA signature off of it.

The strange markings Barry found at the crime scene are revealed to be Ragdoll's finger prints, also stretched out of shape.

Liquid nitrogen is a potent accelerant.

Caitlin says that there are still trace amounts of aluminum-beryllium alloy in Cisco's wounds. Every time he tries to use his powers, it will cause him more and more pain.

Cisco is able to take control of The Thinker's four satellites, working around the multiplexed burst-model channels and the inter-SV hand-off.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Sherloque describes how he determined the area where Cicada must have been when he was empowered.)
Caitlin: (skeptical) And that took you how long?
Sherloque: Oof, Dr. Snow! 18 hours, because I am only semi-excellent at algebra.
Cisco: (deadpan) You know this is calculus, right?

(Ragdoll is about to jump out the window. The woman reenters the room and sees him, crouched.)
Woman: Stop!
(Ragdoll twists his head around with an audible cracking.)
Ragoll: Mazel Tov!
(The woman screams as Ragdoll makes his exit.)

(Iris worries that she's as bad a mother as Theresa Merkel)
Barry: You are nothing like that woman in there!
Iris: Are you sure, Barry? I mean, I love our daughter with all my heart, but she hates me...because I turned my back on her, just like Theresa Merkel did to her son. I lied to her about everything that she is and I prevent her from living the life that she deserves. (pauses) I'd hate me too.
Barry: Iris... you are never going to be the person that Nora knows from the future.
Iris: That's the thing. It's not even up to us. I've already become her and I didn't even have a choice.

Cisco: I remember when these powers were a curse. Seeing Thawne kill me over and over. Knowing that darkness. I didn't want that. I didn't want to be a hero.These powers were a part of me. I had to learn that. And when I did, they showed me everything. I could vibe every clue. I could breach us wherever we needed to go. I could being my value to the team! (pauses) If I can't take the pain, that means Cicada wins.

(Most of Team Flash is arguing over how to go about saving Barry.)
Cisco: It's going to take me at least an hour to fix it.
Iris: Cisco, we don't have an hour!
Ralph: No, but we do have me.
(Everyone turns to see Ralph in his Elongated Man costume, having forgotten about him.)
Ralph: Let's go save the Flash.
Sherloque (quietly, honestly awestruck) Mon Dieu, that was inspiring.

Ralph: (jumping off the Eaglesham building) I hope I don't land on my keys!


Continuity

This episode takes place two weeks after the events of 504

Barry and Iris haven't seen Nora for two weeks.

Nora catches the thief who hits the art gallery and steals a Monet but fails to stop his motorcycle from going out of control. Luckily, Barry is able to save the pedestrians who are almost hit by the bike.

Cisco says his powers aren't working fully due to his injuries but he can still touch an object to determine its links to a person. He touches the letter with the coded message Thomas Snow left Caitlin and sees him working in an office, sketching something in a notebook.  He also saw equations on a black-board and a work ID with a yellow logo.

Sherloque recognizes the logo description as being Hudson University, where Professor Stein once worked.

Caitlin says her father was an admirer of Professor Stein but she had no idea they worked together.

Cisco seems to be hiding a pain in his hands.

Caitlin has a key to Professor Stein's old office at Hudson University. It was given to her by Stein's wife. She didn't know that Professor Stein and Thomas Snow knew each other either.

Cisco vibes the blackboard in Stein's office and gets an impression of a formula. He thinks it is for heavy water at first, but Sherloque identifies it as ice.

Sherloque is a speed-sketcher.

Cisco vibes the picture of Khione and sees Thomas Snow in a place called Viera Chemicals. Caitlin identifies this as a chemical lab out in The Barrens district of Central City. After Cisco does this, the wounds in his hands repopen.

Barry identifies Ragdoll as Peter Merkel, who has a criminal record for breaking in and entering.

Viera Chemicals is revealed to have caught on fire the same day Thomas Snow disappeared. It was declared an accident. Given the size of the facility, Sherloque and Ralph both agree there's no way Thomas Snow could have burned it down to cover his tracks without help.

Cisco tries vibing the box at Viera Chemicals, only to develop a nosebleed and pass out.

Theresa Merkel says she hasn't seen her son in two years, since he was arrested breaking into his own house and the police were called by her staff while she was out of town. She coldly says that she gave him a wing to play in and sent him to the finest schools and he was not at all appreciative.

Barry recalls he and Iris never really had a first dance at their wedding in S307.

Caitlin finds that bits of Cicada's dagger are in Cisco's wounds and they are causing nerve damage every time he tries to use his powers.

Barry makes reference to Iris' mother and how she left her family to protect them from her mental illness.

Cecile tells Nora several stories about Iris as a child, saying they were about Barry. Nora finally figures it out when Cecile tells about a boy who lost his folks and was picked on and how "Barry" had lunch with that kid every day for a year and wound up devoting a page to him and his science fair project in the yearbook. Nora knows this because Barry didn't work on the yearbook in school, but Iris did.

One of the stories about Iris involves her keeping singing despite some unspecified disaster during a middle school production of Guys and Dolls.

Cecile shows Nora one of the West family picture albums.

Iris guesses that Rag Doll is stealing the things that are most valuable to the victims.. In this case, a priceless family heirloom and an architect's prize-winning building. This leads to Ragdoll kidnapping Barry - the thing that matters most to the reporter investigating him.

Sherloque broke Cisco's extrapolator trying to use it.

Nora keeps a journal.

Future Iris never told her daughter about her past.

Iris exposed a corrupt teacher at the age of 15.

In the third grade, Cecile staked out a girl's bathroom to prove the janitor was not cleaning it.

Ralph and Sherloque deduce that Thomas Snow is probably in a Tannhauser black ops site.

Caitlin says her mother's company had dozens of black-ops sites and safe houses used to test pathogens for the CDC.

Cisco repurposes the four satellites launched by The Thinker for STAR Labs.


Untelevised Adventures

Barry apparently traveled to an alternate past and encountered a race of golden-skinned giants called The Gordans.

We don't get to see the actual fight between Rag Doll and Elongated Man. Sadly.


The Boomerang Factor

Ralph Dibny gets no respect. What could have been a moment to show Ralph coming into his own as a hero and developing an arch-enemy is lost in the name of a cheap gag (i.e. Ralph apparently swallowing Ragdoll to contain him). And Ralph rightly points out that he took down the bad guy while everyone is lining up to praise Iris for jumping off a building to get Barry the key he needed to unlock the cuffs shutting off his powers so he could save them both.


The Bottom Line


There's a lot of interesting things in All Doll'd Up. Unfortunately, almost all of them are secondary to Barry and Iris making goo-goo eyes at each other and Iris learning not to be a control freak. At least this time the lesson seems to stick, so hopefully we don't need to retread this territory again. Cisco's desire to prove his worth is more touching. Ralph and Sherloque jockeying for position is more amusing. And strangely enough, Caitlin seems to be a secondary character in her own plotline, with all the other characters helping her find her dad. Ragdoll, one of the more interesting villains to come out of DC Comics in the past 15 years, doesn't get much of a chance to shine either. All in all, this isn't a bad episode, but much like its titular villain, it doesn't quite stand up properly or move smoothly.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 5 - The Book Of Blood: Chapter 1 - Requiem

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



Plot

Jennifer agrees to meet with Khalil, who is feeling the pressure to take up more and more responsibilities in Tobias' organization. Meanwhile, the tension continues to build between Lynn and Dr. Jace as Anissa takes on a job at the free clinic and Jefferson investigates Gambi's apparent death, while still refusing to believe that his foster father is truly dead.



Influences

The Black Lightning comics of Tony Isabella and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Gambi's van is similar to Nick Fury's)


Performances

It's all too rare for an actor to underplay a scene where they are mean to be drunk, but Cress Williams does a fantastic job playing Jefferson as a realistic, quiet drunk.


Artistry

The opening sequence of Gambi fighting Tobias' men set to Dean Martin's Ain't That A Kick In The Head is well-blocked and well-shot.

Showing the flashback sequences to Khalil and Jennifer's talk at the end of the last episode in black and white is a nice touch.


Technobabble

Gambi's delivery van is modified with bullet-proof windows and an AI that advises him as to the damage of his van.

Dr. Jace finds a way to save all of the Green Light Babies using Lynn's serum. The problem, she says, is that they looked at each pod as an individual organism. By treating them as a collective unit, and increasing the serum dosage 28-fold to account for the number of vaccinated kids and spinning the cells, it will stave off the cellular deterioration and reach a gestalt with overall stability in the entire collective. This is later revealed to be a lie, however, as Dr. Jace faked the simulation and killed most of the Green Light Babies in the process.


Dialogue Triumphs

Jennifer: I just miss this place. I miss the teachers. I miss my friends. I miss... I miss being called the Queen of Garfield.
Khalil: (snorts) You hate that name.
Jennifer: Yes, I really do. But I would kill for it right now. Because it would mean that I'm actually in school and not locked in the Pierce Penitentiary because my parents think the world is too dangerous for me to live in.

Councilman Kwame Parker: Is this what your version of a law-abiding citizen looks like?
Tobias: Depends on what law you're referring to. I adhere to the law of the jungle. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten. Either you're dining or you're dinner.

Jefferson: (To Henderson) You have no idea what my life is like. The sacrifices I've made. This city.. I've given everything for this city, man. My blood, my sweat, my tears...and it just takes. It just takes. And takes. And takes... takes....

Tobias: Like it or not, every successful person remembers two things in life - the first time they tried caviar and the first time they could enjoy it without worrying what it cost.

Two-Bits: (To Black Lighting) You just can't be sneaking up on people like that! Man, I could have shot you! (quieter) If I had a gun. Which I don't. Because I'm on probation.


Continuity

Gambi can speak Japanese.

Six staff members at the free clinic resigned after the bomb scare in 204.

Anissa takes a volunteer job at the free clinic.

Jennifer ignores another text from Khalil.

Tobias blackmails a councilman named Kwame Parker over the fact that he took money from Martin Proctor.

Anissa helps a pregnant woman named Anaya. The father of her baby is an overprotective man named Deacon.

Anissa finds out Henderson knows about her secret life as Thunder.

Henderson tells Jefferson and Anissa about Gambi's apparent death. He says nobody saw him get out of his van before it exploded.

Jefferson doesn't tell Henderson about Gambi's secret life.

Lynn gets her formula for a cure for the Green Light Babies finished. Despite this, the prognosis is 50/50 as to whether it can save their lives given how far gone most of them are.

There are 28 Green Light Babies who are fading.

Lynn refuses to start human trials until there's a chance they can save all the Green Light Babies.

Anissa goes to Grace's apartment and tells her that she would want to spend a day with her if she only had one day left to live.

Anissa and Grace spend the night together, but the next day Grace says it was a mistake.

Grace says her family was not always present and it made her independent.

Grace says Anissa was the first person who could get behind her barriers.

Grace is shown to have something strange happening to her skin that generates an audible clicking noise. She is taking some kind of medication that stops it.

Jennifer refers to the fight with the ASA agents in 113.

Lynn goes to Gambi's apartment to find an gold pocket watch that has a picture of Jefferson with Gambi. It is revealed to have the inscription "Gambi, Thank you for always being there, Jefferson."

Councilman Parker holds a press conference announcing that an anonymous donor is paying to move the free clinic to a safer neighborhood and will be hiring new staff for it and buying new equipment. He says the donor is a man who has just reentered the community and wants to help but refuses to answer if it is Tobias Whale or not.

Jefferson gets drunk at Two-Bits' bar and beats up a man who gets handsy with a waitress.

Tobias paid off the reporter who asked if he was the anonymous donor.

It has been 20 years since Tobias adopted Synoide.

Tobias says that Khalil is the only family he has left and threatens to kill him if he fails him again.

Two Bits tells Black Lightning that the word on the street is that people think the government killed Gambi but that nobody saw him get out of his van before it blew up.

Deacon dies in the free clinic, after running in bleeding. He asks Anissa to find Anaya and save his baby. After he is dead, some strange kind of clear viscous substances pours out of the wounds in his head.

Anissa is able to track Deacon to South Freeland using Gambi's CCTV scanner.

Khalil stops by Jennifer's window to check on her and see how she's doing after Gambi's death.

Dr. Jace faked her simulation and the resulting experiment results in all but 14 of the Green Light Babies dying.

On the way to South Freeland, Anissa is pulled over by a Sheriff Clark, who seems to have worms crawling under his skin. We hear some of the same noises we heard early when Grace was alone. Anissa drives off, with the Sheriff apparently content that she's been scared out of South Freeland.


Location

South Freeland.


The Bottom Line

An interesting episode if only for all the questions it raises and how little idea we have about the answers. Is Gambi really dead? What's the deal with Grace? What is Tobias' plan for the land where the free clinic is? What's going on in South Freeland? What will the aftermath of most of the Green Light Babies dying be?  Throw in some great character development across the board and this season is starting to pick up.


Legends of Tomorrow: Season 4, Episode 4 - Wet Hot American Bummer

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




Plot

The Legends' latest mission leads them to Camp Ogawa - an American summer camp in the 1995, where the children are disappearing mysteriously amid reports of a swamp monster. As John, Sara, Ava and Ray go undercover as counselors, Zari and Rory are tasked with babysitting the team's new Fugitive prisoner - the shapeshifter called Charlie - and try to form a bond with her.


Influences

The movie Wet Hot American Summer (title and summer camp setting) as well as the entire genre of summer camp comedies; the genre of slasher horror films, particularly Friday The 13th (summer camp setting), the Swamp Thing comics and movies and the "Kid Stuff" episode of Justice League Unlimited.


Goofs

Zari seems to forget that Gideon should be able to let her out of the cell through a verbal command, after Charlie locks her up with the manual controls.


Performances

Caity Lotz hasn't been given much chance to show the cheerful woman whose laughter inspired the name Canary among the League of Assassins. This episode, however, gives her that chance and she nails it, capturing the essence of Black Canary from the comics and her knack with kids.

The two child actors playing young Sara and young Ava are a delight and look dead on perfect.


Artistry

The direction perfectly captures the feel of a classic horror movie and a summer camp comedy - often at the same time!


Trivia Of Tomorrow

The movie Swamp Thaaaang and its title monster are a reference to the classic DC Comics swamp monster/avatar of nature Swamp Thing.

Strangely enough, despite being one of DC Comics more obscure heroes, Swamp Thing is one of its most heavily adapted into other media. Horror icon Wes Craven made a live-action Swamp Thing movie in 1982. A more humorous sequel spawned in 1989, helmed by comedic horror master Jim Wynorski. A live-action Swamp Thing TV series ran for three seasons on the USA Network from 1990 to 1993. There was also a short-lived, five-episode Swamp Thing animated series.

It should be noted that John Constantine first appeared in the comics as a supporting character during Alan Moore's now legendary run on Saga of The Swamp Thing.

In the episode, John makes reference to knowing a Swamp Thing, but notes that Maine is too far north for him. In the comics, Swamp Thing made his home in the bayous of Louisiana.

The Netflix entry for Swamp Thaaaang says that its director is a man named David Geddes. In our world, David Geddes is a noted Canadian director and cinematographer, who has directed several episodes of Legends of Tomorrow. He has also been the cinematographer on a number of horror movies and television series, including Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil and Halloween: Resurrection.

The idea of using magic to turn the heroes into kids was also utilized in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Kids Stuff." This was necessary for the Justice League to overcome a spell cast by Mordred, son of Morgan LeFay, that send every adult on Earth to another dimension.


Technobabble/Arcana

Ava wants snipers on the ridge-line, spotters on the ground and an exfil site for when they bag the creature. Johm, surprisingly, agrees with this assessment, and suggests a protection spell around the same perimeter.

John uses salt to make a protective circle around the camp.

John is capable of hypnotizing people.

John can brew a potion that can temporarily turn a person into a child. He gives it to Sara so she can infiltrate the girls in her cabin. It turns out that he had never used the potion himself or tested it on another human.

John has a scrying ritual he can use to find missing people, but it works better if he doesn't have someone talking to him while he's working it.

John has a field guide of sorts to magical creatures - what Ray describes as a magical Audubon guide.

A Shtriga is a vampiric witch from Albanian folklore who feeds on the life force of children and babies. They shed their skins after feeding, leaving behind a blood-soaked shed like a snake. Shtriga feed on their prey over several days. While most commonly taking the form of mean old women, Shtrigas could look like anyone and there are male and female Shtrigas.

According to John, witches in general hate cayenne pepper.

John has a spell that creates a will-o-the-wisp that can be used to track a person. It requires blood, fire and a piece of clothing from the person to be tracked.

John knows a spell that can channel the life force from a Shtriga back into her victims. It requires a specific incantation, a crystal and a conduit.

John also has the ability to channel his own life force into another person.


Dialogue Triumphs

Ava: Summer camp? As in bug-bites, bunk-beds and mean girls?
Sara: No. Summer camp as in campfires, sing-a-longs and friendship bracelets!

(John is grumbling, attempting to tie his red tie around camp counselor Polo shirt.)
John: Oh, they may take my coat, but you will never take my -
(Sara yanks the cigarette out of John's mouth.)
Sara: Nope. And lose the tie.
John: Oh, you have got to be kidding me.
(Sara shakes her head.)
John: (pulling his tie off) Fine! One time! But it's only for the kids!

Boy: Last night, Zack said something about meeting someone in the woods.
John: Where in the woods, exactly?
Boy: A baseball field. Only... there is no baseball field out there.
John: Well, that's alright. Keep digging.
Boy: He kept talking about making it to first base with a girl. But who plays baseball in the dark?
(John rolls his eyes.)

Charlie: Bloke like you doesn't strike me as a jailer. I believe we're more alike than you think. You look like you've been on the inside.
Mick: That's right.
Charlie: And how do you sleep at night? Hanging out with these jailer mates of yours?
Mick: Alcohol.

Ray: Look at us!  A pair of magical detectives!
John: Oh, and I was beginning to think you were all-right and you went and said that.

Ava: I'd like to thank you for giving me real childhood memories. To be honest, these memories have been kind of awful...mostly awkward... but totally awesome.
Sara: I mean, it wouldn't be childhood without all of the above.
Ava: I'm happy it was with you. And considering all the trouble those kids went through for a kiss, I'm guessing no childhood would be complete without one.
(Sara takes Ava's hands. The two lean in as the lights start flashing and John's spell breaks. When they fade, the two are adults again, still kissing each other gently.)


Continuity

Sara loves horror movies and watched them obsessively as a kid, yet never saw Swamp Thaaaang.

The Swamp Thang movies added one A into the word Thang for every film in the franchise. Hence, Swamp Thaaaang, was the fourth movie in the series. The AV Club gave it a D-Minus rating.

Sara has fond memories of summer camp.

Ava does not know what pinkie-swearing means.

Ava thinks The Legends are holding Charlie to question her about the prison she was trapped in. The truth is they felt that she didn't deserve to be sent to Hell and that none of them could pass judgement on her.

Ray also loved summer camp and was called Kid Counselor. He thought it was a complement.

John says that he used to know a Swamp Thing, but that Maine was far too north for him.

The director of Camp Ogawa is an embittered older woman named Paula Cooper.

Her right-hand man is a cheerful young man named Chad Stephens.

Ray made his own lanyard for his counselor badge.

In addition to the 21 required merit badges to become an Eagle Scout, Ray got certification in nuclear science and dentistry

Sara gives her special skills as martial arts, but notes that she prefers knives and swords.

John forms a salt-circle around the camp to keep the swamp monster out.

Sara was Color Captain of her camp the summer after her 8th grade year. She claims to have stuck it to a girl named Suzy Smith and the Green Team.

Two of the campers - Zack and Lenise - leave the safe area to make out in the woods and are taken by the monster. Later, a girl named Meredith and a boy named Randall disappear.

Director Cooper doesn't care much about the missing kids.

Ray tries to win over the boys and get them to answer his question with a trust exercise. John gets them to agree to being hypnotized.

Sara tries to win over the girls with girl-talk and hair braiding. Ava treats them like a drill sergeant treats her charges at boot camp.

One of the girls tells Ava that there's a legend about a lake beast - a boy who was drowned as a result of a prank gone wrong, who returns every year to kill other campers as revenge. She says he can be summoned by going to the end of the dock and saying his name three times. This turns out to be the set-up for a prank by the girls, to knock Ava into the lake.

Ray keeps a bird-watching journal.

Mick says he acquired a taste for hooch after spending some time in a Siberian gulag. This may be related to The Legends' mission in F322, where Leonard Snart briefly left his proper place in time to help The Flash with a mission while the rest of the team were doing something in Siberia in 1892. Or it could be a reference to 106, where Mick was briefly locked up in a Soviet prison.

Charlie says that she felt like she was locked up for 500 years. She says that her cell was a battleground full of creatures from your worst nightmares - many of whom she got to know far better than she liked. She says it was dismal, dark and like nothing on Earth. 

Ava keeps a picture of the actors who pretended to be her parents on her desk at work, in a bid to seem normal, despite her status as a clone from the future meaning she has no context for how kids act, despite having been given implanted memories of a childhood.

Mick says that he and Snart spent some time serving in a super-max together.

John tells Ray that people who fight demons can't be trusted, including himself, but especially Nora Darhk. He makes reference to having a friend like Ray who was honestly good and letting him down.

Ava steals ice cream and pepper from the mess hall.

The girls in their cabin finally tell Ava and Sara about a camp tradition where the girls and boys take turns each night, going out to the woods to get their first kiss. They have to follow a trail marked by a rope tied to the flagpole that leads to the meeting spot.

Charlie reveals that the Shtriga she was locked up with was a handsome young bloke rather than an ugly old woman.

Chad Stephens.is revealed to be the Shtriga. He is killed by Sara and Ava, after John and Ray drain the life-force from him.

John transfers part of his own life force into the one boy too far gone for his ritual to save.

Charlie agrees to help The Legends with tracking down her more dangerous cell-mates.

John's body rejects Gideon's treatment.

Ray says he thinks Nora might be able to save John, but he has no idea how to find her.

Nora Darhk is revealed to be working at a Renaissance Festival playing a witch.


Location

Washington DC - 2018
Camp Ogawa, Maine - 1995


The Bottom Line

A solid episode, whose only real flaw is not giving Zari much to do and pretty much having her vanish from the story after she gets locked up. Otherwise, it establishes a perfect balance of comedy and drama, perfectly nailing the characters. I'm particularly glad to see a cheerful Sara (she's called The Canary for a reason) and a John Constantine who isn't nearly as big as a bastard as he wants to be. Still the best Arrowverse show of the 2018 fall season.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 7, Episode 5 - The Demon

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




Plot

Having learned that Oliver is being hidden away, Felicity begins investigating Level 2 of The Slab, with a little help from Black Siren and Dinah Drake. Meanwhile, Digg asks Curtis to go undercover for an ARGUS mission, as Oliver finds The Demon on Level 2 of The Slab.


Influences

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


Goofs

How exactly is the PR nightmare at The Slab supposed to free Oliver? Oliver pled guilty to the charges against him and the corruption at the prison has no baring on his trial or sentence.


Performances

Lexa Doig and Stephen Amell both give power-house performances here and have tremendous chemistry together.


Artistry

Great action sequence in the hallway to the morgue as Talia and Ollie escape.


Trivia

Talia says that she was locked up in The Slab after a run in with an old foe in Gotham City. This is almost certainly a reference to Batman and proof that he exists on Earth One in the Arrowverse.


Technobabble

The RFID tracker that Felicity planted on The Silencer's belt is linked to her facial recognition program, which is run through every CCTV and traffic camera within five miles of The Silencer's location.

The case Curtis takes to the meeting with Byrd has a scanner

The shock bracelets Level 2 inmates are required to wear have anti-tampering alarms.


Dialogue Triumphs

Ollie: You expect me to help you? After all the pain and suffering that you inflicted on my family?!
Talia: What does it tell you that I would even ask for your help after what you've done to mine?

Talia: These people are criminals. The likes of which you've spent the last six years putting away. I'm surprised you want to help them.
Oliver: But you were the one who pushed me towards helping others. Towards fighting for justice! You had honor then! 
Talia: That was a long time ago.

Felicity: I thought that the worst thing that could happen was me losing my husband to prison. Well, what if I lose him permanently?

Dr. Parker: I suggest you hold very still 4587.
(Dr. Parker turns to his nurses, totally caught off-guard as Oliver grabs him by the throat and starts squeezing.)
Ollie:
My name... is Oliver Queen!

(Oliver tells Talia his intent to stay behind in The Slab.)
Talia: If you stay, you will die.
Ollie: If I leave, I'm a fugitive forever. I won't do that to my family. (pauses) All those years ago, you were wrong. Giving the monster an identity didn't contain the darkness. It just gave it power. Separating into two selves? Hiding in the shadows? That was never the answer.
(The sounds of the guards banging on the doors gets louder. Talia takes the flash-drive.)
Talia: I will make sure your wife gets this. And that she knows that her husband is as stubborn as ever.


Continuity

Oliver is now ready for Phase 2 of being a Level 2 inmate. This involves being fitted with an electronic bracelet that administers electric shocks and being placed in the charge of a specific guard.

Oliver identifies the inmate who previously attacked him and told him his wife and son were dead as one of the inmates on Level 2.

Inmates on Level 2 are not allowed visitation.

ARGUS Deputy Director Bell is diabetic.

Malcolm Byrd is a black market arms dealer who specializes in chemical weapons.

Dr. Nyambi Somto is a biochemist who disappeared with a number of nerve agents banned by The Geneva Condition.

Curtis has 14 PhDs, including one in biochemical engineering.

Curtis can speak six languages. Two of them are English and French.

After the inmate who threatened him before shoves Oliver, he is taken away behind the blue door that most of the inmates seem afraid of.

Oliver is attacked in his cell at night. His attacker is Talia Al Ghul, last seen in 523.

Talia says that she was locked up in The Slab after an encounter with an old foe in Gotham.

Talia says she only survived Lian Yu thanks to a drug that Diaz developed and that she planned the attack on Oliver in exchange for his help.

Talia says there is a way to escape from Slabside but she needs Oliver's help. He refuses to give it.

Curtis is terrified of doing field work in the wake of Oliver going to jail.

Stanley tells Felicity that Oliver has been sent to Level 2 of The Slab.

Felicity determines that Level 2 is completely off the books.

The inmate who attacked Oliver is wheeled out of the other room with the blue door, apparently dead.

Talia says that the ones Dr. Parker kills are the lucky ones.

Felicity asks Dinah to go through the hard copies of the SCPD files to see if there were any complaints filed against Dr. Parker.

Felicity determined that Slabside does not have a psychiatric treatment program.

Curtis is able to bring down Byrd and his men with the help of his special brief-case and the hidden targeting drone inside of it.

Talia and Ollie stage a fight, resulting in them both being sent behind the blue door.

Dr. Parker was a defendant in three malpractices cases that were all settled out of court.

One of Dr. Parker's patients was a violent teenager named Robert Goodman. Dr. Parker promised his parents he could make their son docile. Instead, his treatment left Robert with sporadic bouts of amnesia. Eventually, he lost all sense of self completely.

Robert Goodman was one of nine similar cases leveled against Dr. Parker.

The Slab disposes of dead bodies on Level 2 through a dumbwaiter that leads to the water under the island. Talia uses this to escape.

Oliver refuses to escape from The Slab, saying that he won't live as a fugitive.

Talia delivers the flash drive of Dr. Parker's files to Felicity anonymously.

Oliver is sent back to Level 1 of The Slab, with Dr. Parker's program and Level 2 having been shut down after being exposed to the public.

Black Siren says they can use The Slab's current PR nightmare to overturn Oliver's conviction.

Talia kills Dr. Parker.

Curtis finds an encrypted image among Byrds files.  He determines that it is a painting by a 19th century French artist named Jean-Leon Gerome, titled Dante He Has Seen Hell.

Stanley tells Oliver that Felicity said she had a lead on Diaz and was close to getting him.

Felicity's tracker locates The Silencer in Moscow.

The episode ends as The Silencer arrives to find Diaz beating up Anatoly.


Location
Slabside Maximum Security Prison.
Moscow, Russia


The Bottom Line

Decent enough as a filler episode, if you ignore that it makes Oliver's trip to Level 2 largely pointless in the grand sceheme and that Dinah, Felicity and Black Siren really don't accomplish anything. The Curtis/Diggle storyline is amusing enough and its nice to see Curtis not being treated purely as comic relief for a change. Still, none of these stories are as engaging as the future flash-forwards or the mystery of the new Green Arrow.

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 49

In which we confront the Nighthawk leader and I show you both ways the game allows you to unveil his identity.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 5 - Parasite Lost

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




Plot

Colonel Haley - the US Army officer placed in charge of the DEO - begins to throw her weight around as Kara's efforts to profile a noted alien healer make him the target of anti-alien bigots. Meanwhile, Agent Jensen is transformed into a new Parasite, as part of Agent Liberty's efforts to create a soldier who can turn aliens' powers against them, while James struggles with Guardian's newfound popularity among anti-alien bigots.


Influences

The movie Ghostbusters (Alex is armed with a literal proton pack) and The Matrix (Brainy says something about entering The Matrix in reference to his force-field Matrix)


Goofs

It's somewhat aggravating and oddly sexist that Elizabeth Hawkins' mother is never given an actual name in the episode, despite largely being the villain. She's also never given any real motivation for turning on Amadei Derros beyond his apparently impregnating her and cutting off contact, but we only have her word for this and she is... not exactly reliable. At least until he confirms breaking her heart, but no reason is given for why he did this.

It isn't really explained just how Amadei Derros' amulet will let Parasite keep the powers he drains.

Why did Elizabeth Hawkins' mother save all the letters that Amadei Derros sent her if her entire goal was to make her daughter believe she'd been abandoned and to hate her father?

Why are The Children of Liberty suddenly being treated like a secretive dark-web group when Agent Liberty was holding a public rally, in costume, two episodes ago?

If Col. Haley is trying to avoid starting a riot, sending DEO soldiers in black uniforms carrying large guns into a crowd of nervous aliens is a curious way of trying to do it.

How did Guardian get inside the dome area?

As a civilian police agent, Alex is not required to salute a military officer even if they do have authority over her.

The lesson about Col. Haley not being as unreasonable as Alex thought is completely undercut by the end of the episode, where it is revealed that Col. Haley is the military-minded hardass Alex was afraid she would be and an unrepentant alien-hating bigot who seems to want all aliens put into concentration camps, based on her comments about the DEO needing to capture aliens instead of employing them.

Why did nobody think, in regards to Supergirl confronting The Parasite, to use the sealed armored suit she was wearing last week?


Performances

It's a small thing, but there's something so awesome about David Harewood slipping on his fedora as he ponders that he's become a true detective hero.


Super Trivia

The first Parasite in DC Comics history was a man named Raymond Maxwell Jensen, who first appeared in Action Comics #340 (August 1966) A low-life who lacked the intelligence to be a competent criminal, Jensen got a job as a plant worker in a scientific research facility with the intent of casing the firm so he could rob it. Mistakenly believing that the company's payroll was concealed in one of the metal containers used for storing hazardous materials, Jensen was exposed to strange energies that mutated him into the energy absorbing Parasite, allowing Jensen to gain the mental and physical characteristics of any being he touched.

Agent Jensen is transformed into a new version of The Parasite in this episode, possessing the same energy absorption powers as Dr. Rudy Jones in 206.

Ben Lockwood has a video blog on a right-wing fringe channel called The People's Veritas. This is quite likely a nod to Project Veri tas - a real-world right-wing group known for their efforts to frame liberal groups and politicians for crimes with faked hidden camera exposes, much like Ben Lockwood's efforts to fake an alien attack in the last episode.


Technobabble

Uranium is less stable atomically than plutonium and runs the risk of creating a larger explosion.

An electric force-field can contain the radiation of a uranium explosion.

An improvised spherical ionic containment field would create the optimal distribution of electrons.

Force-field discs can be linked to make a force-field matrix.

Brainy is capable of outfitting a gun that can blast protons.

Brainiac calculates that the output of the proton pack must be increased at least 550% to fight Parasite when he has the amulet.


Dialogue Triumphs

Brainy: Nia Nul!
(There is a long pause as Kara glances between the two of them.)
Kara: You two know each other?
Nia: Well, we met once at a pizza place.(To Brainy) You know, you never found me...
Brainy: But of course I did! Your address is 775 Gladiola Drive, second floor corner apartment. Your phone number is 555-8010. You stop at Bob's Diner every morning and order an extra super large coffee, milk. No sugar.
(Everyone is wincing as Brainy is describing this.)
Alex: Okay. Yes. That - he's not nearly as stalkery as that came out as.
Nia: (laughing nervously) Well, why didn't you call me?
Brainy: (confiused) You told me to find you. Not call you.

Kara: Most people only have one way to fight for justice, but luckily, I have two.

Ben: You know, I was just talking about you on my show recently-
James: So I heard. And just to be clear, you and I do not represent the same things.
Ben: Hmm. Far be it for James Olsen to listen to an opinion that is not his own.
James: I listen to opinions that are not my own. But what I heard in your show was full of discrimination and hate. And that's when I stopped listening.
Ben: (smugly) I see. So this is the part where you and others like you start making crass generalizations based on ignorance and stereotypes-
James: And you forgot the part where people like me walk away.
(James does so.)

Ben: Do not shut these people out, James. Can't you see?  The people who think this way, they're not crazy - they're scared. And they need those fears acknowledged. And when they are not? When they get shut down, like you're doing right now?  It just... drives them deeper into darkness.
James: (firmly) Let me be very clear about something, Professor. You will not lay this at my feet.

(Col. Haley has just complemented Alex for saving lives, but also criticized her for not following orders mindlessly.)
Col. Haley: Still, I have to say it is much better to have you in charge than that impostor, J'onn J'onzz.
Alex: ... excuse me?
Col Haley: When we at The White House learned about your former director's true identity, I recommended his removal. He was trying to erode the DEO's mission - employing aliens instead of catching them. All while pretending to be someone he's not. I am glad that order has been restored and we're heading to more civil, honest times.
Alex: (evenly) J'onn J'onzz is the one who recruited me. Trained me. Promoted me. And taught me everything that I know. He's my family. And he's the best director that this organization has ever seen!


Continuity

Kara repaired the roof-garden at her apartment complex in one day.

Brainiac 5 had no idea that mojitos were alcoholic and drank 12 of them.

Kara gets an interview with Amadei Derros - a famous alien healer who has not given an interview in 20 years.

J'onn is a friend of Amaedi Derros.

Brainiac 5 claims to have a superhuman capacity for recovering from excessive alcohol consumption. A two minute nap is all he needs to regain his sobriety.

Brainiac 5 was able to find out Nia's address, phone number and morning routine. He did not call her, however, because she asked him to find her - not to call her.

The alien worm that transforms Agent Jensen seems to be exactly the same as the one that changed Dr. Rudy Jones in 206.

Infernians are an alien species capable of generating fire and surviving intense heat. Scorcher, the alien assassin who tried to kill President Marsdin in 203, was an Infernian, as is the first alien whom Jensen drains as the new Parasite.

Amadei Derros is part of an unidentified alien species. He has the power to heal others with a touch. It is unclear if this is a natural ability of his species or a power unique to him. His abilities do not work on humans because he cannot access their "frequency" as of yet. His life force is tied to an amulet.

Jensen attacks a street performer - an alien shapeshifter who amuses crowds by changing into the people in the crowd. He kills the alien and uses his powers to escape after touching Supergirl.

J'onn continues running Fiona's support group.

J'onn reads Amadei Derros' mind and gets an image of a woman identified as Elizabeth Hawkins.

J'onn and Kara later determine that Elizabeth Hawkins is Amadei Derros' illegitimate daughter. She claims to have never met him in person and to have never communicated with him, despite sending him pictures and reaching out to him several times.

Elizabeth Hawkins' mother is revealed to have been lying to her daughter about her father. He apparently did try writing her several times, but the letters were all intercepted.

Elizabeth Hawkins' mother is revealed to be the one who stole Amadei's amulet and gave it to a Child of Liberty, who in turn gave it to Jensen. Somehow, it enables him to keep the powers he steals.

Kara, J'onn and the DEO learn about the existence of The Children of Liberty.

Col. Haley orders Alex to shoot Jensen despite the fact that it will kill hundreds of civilians.

Amadei Derros is healed and meets his daughter face-to-face for the first time.

Jensen is eventually talked into removing the amulet, which kills him, when it is pointed out he is endangering humans. Before he dies, he says it doesn't matter becuase "he's still out there." in reference to Agent Liberty.

Col. Haley is revealed to be an anti-alien bigot who slams J'onn's performance as DEO director. She becomes quite cold and starts demanding to be saluted according to military protocol after Alex stands up for J'onn.

Jensen's brain-scan flatlined after The Parasite was removed from him. He was still alive and transferred to the DEO's desert facility.

A woman named Mara Nalbeck looks for J'onn at the alien bar. Apparently her store was vandalized and she trusts J'onn to solve the case more than the NCPD.

James plans to use his reputation as Guardian to help him get to the people running the anti-alien hate-groups and hopefully talk the people who are scared rather than hateful into changing their hearts and minds.   He starts off by calling Ben Lockwood and asking him to talk.


The Fridge Factor

Samantha Hawkins' mother doesn't even merit a name of her own.


The Bottom Line

Quite possibly the dumbest episode of Supergirl since the last story with The Parasite. The villain is completely wasted and gone after a single episode again. Amadei Derros' powers and his connection to his amulet are barely touched upon except in so far as the episode needs a MacGuffin. Samantha's mother has no real motivations and just happens to fall in with a group of anti-alien bigots because of a bad break-up 20 years ago. The whole plotline with J'onn and Kara is just weak and poorly written overall. Still, if it sets up more Martian Manhunter detective stories, I can live with it. Still, it says a lot that the scenes with James - usually the weakest parts of any Supergirl episode - are actually the strongest this time around. Still, this episode needed a lot more rewriting before being filmed.



Friday, November 9, 2018

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 48

In which we finish cleaning out the Nighthawk stronghold and start inquiring as to the identity of the leader of the Nighthawks... starting with Owyn's uncle!


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 4, Episode 3 - Dancing Queen

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



Plot

The search for the Fugitives leads The Legends to the punk scene in 1970s London. Soon the team is having to stop a plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II in addition to hunting down the fugitive, who has a shockingly familiar face. Meanwhile, at Time Bureau HQ, Gary is attempting to show Nate the ropes on what turns out to be anything but a typical day at the office.


Influences

Jamie Delano's Hellblazer (the information on John's parent and history as a punk rocker come straight from this comic) and The Crimson Permanent Assurance sequence of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (turning an office into a swashbuckler's playground)


Goofs

While Queen Elizabeth being committed would likely be a major blow to the morale of the British Empire, it would probably not inspire outright anarchy as The Queen's position is purely ceremonial.

Granting that it is possible Ray might not know that cars in England are driven on the left side of the road, wouldn't this have come up while he was driving The Legends to The Hole?


Performances

Tala Ashe is quickly becoming this season's MVP. The scenes of her and John interacting or magic, in comedic and dramatic terms. And good on them for managing a touching John Constantine scene that isn't sickeningly sweet.

Anjli Mohindra does a fantastic job making Charlie into a sympathetic character. It's sort of a shame she is only here to set up Maisie Richardson-Sellers return.


Artistry

It's a simple editing trick, but the "Ball-Kick Paradox" scene is well blocked.


Trivia Of Tomorrow

In the original Hellblazer comics, John Constantine was the lead singer for a punk band called Mucous Membrane from 1977-1979. They released one single, Venus of the Hard Sell.

The Arrowverse version of John Constantine also was part of a punk band called Mucous Membrane.

John describes Mick's attitude toward him as Perfidious Albion. This is an Anglophobic term frequently applied to a reputation England has for not keeping their word when it comes to treaties and agreements and British people in general being dishonest. It was first coined by French playwright Augustin Louis de Ximénès in 1793, regarding England's early support of The French Revolution, before joining with the other monarchies in Europe against the new Revolutionary government.

In the original Hellblazer comics, John Constantine's mother (Mary Anne Quinn) died bring him and a still-born twin brother into the world. It was later revealed that John strangled his own twin (who was supposed to be the good one) in the womb with his own umbilical cord. John's father, Thomas Constantine, called him "Killer" as a result and was quite abusive toward John for having destroyed the best thing in his life, according to him. It was later revealed that the complications with John's mother giving birth were the result of a botched back-alley abortion that John's father forced her to have.

In the Arrowverse, John's mother died giving birth to him and his father called him "Killer". John doesn't specifically mention any abuse, but it is heavily implied by John's attitude that they did not have a loving relationship.

Though not named in the episode, the actress who plays John's mother is credited as Mary Anne and his father is credited as Thomas.

John makes reference to "clipping an angel's wings." being the way to deprive them of their power. In The Sandman, Morpehus took away something of Lucifer's power by cutting off his wings.


Technobabble/Arcana

The bracelet that Ray made to hold the Zambesi Ar Totem gem also handles messaging and data, has a pedometer that counts steps, keeps accurate time in any era.

Leprechans are Irish faeries who are obsessed with riches and prone to mischief.

John casts a spell to set Mick's pant-leg on fire.

According to John, Leprechauns must count every piece of grain that is spilled in front of them. This can be used to reveal a leprechaun that is hiding its true nature. This is an actual bit of lore regarding leprechauns, though arithmomania (a specific form of obsessive-compulsive disorder where the patient is compelled to count things) is more frequently associated with vampires.

Gary and Nate travel to somewhere during the Pleistocene Period, which ran from about 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago. They specifically travel to 768,000 BC - the time when a giant meteor was believed to have hit the Earth in Indo-China, kicking off a major evolutionary event.

The Ball-Kick Paradox prevents you from kicking your own father in the junk, because then you'd never be born, which means you'd never be there to kick your own father in the balls. Attempting it anyway results in an inverse of momentum (i.e. you fall on your arse trying it.)

Ray describes Charlie's shape-shifting as "rapid molecular transformation."

Ray programmed a command into the ATOM suit, keyed to his voice, to cause it to instantly disassemble itself. Presumably it can assemble itself as well, as this would explain how rapidly Ray can change into his costume.

John performs a "magical lobotomy" that takes away Charlie's shape-shifting powers, leaving her trapped in Amaya's form. He can't give the powers back or change her shape and describes the idea of doing so as being like "unclipping an angel's wings."


Dialogue Triumphs

Zari: Doing bad things for good reasons is practically our mission statement.

(John says an Irish punk singer is clearly a Leprechan)
Zari: S-sorry - are you being serious or racist?
John: Both, love.

Sara: We need to get close to that band. Which shouldn't be a problem, because everybody left on this ship is a punk.
Mick: Except for Haircut. He's never broken a rule in his life.
(Ray glances to one side, looking very guilty all of a sudden.)
Zari: (dryly) Yep. Not a single rule.

Charlie: I didn't catch your name.
Ray: Ray... ge.
Charlie: Rage?
Ray: Yep. Rage. That's what they call me. On account of all my various rages. Against, the uh... machine.

Sara: You're going to have to do this the old-fashioned way.
Ray: Corgi-napping?
Mick: Gaining their trust and betraying them.

(Ray approaches the Royal Dog-Walker)
Ray: Ah, excuse me, sir. I don't know if this is royal etiquette, but, uh, if it may please the Crown, may I borrow one of those Corgis?
Dog Walker:(clearly nervous) Just take him!
Ray: Oh! There are those famous British manners I've heard of. Thank you.
(Ray takes one of the leases and walks off toward the camera. We then see that Sara was standing behind him, out of Ray's view, holding up the two unconscious bodyguards.)
Sara: (To the Dog Walker) Good choice.

(Zari has found John in a Liverpool pub, where a bartender is doting on him.)

Zari: That brooding, anti-hero crap must be a real panty dropper, huh? You tell her you have four roommates and sleep on the couch?
John: No, I didn't. She's my mum.
(The mother of all awkward pauses ensues.)
Zari: I'm really wishing I had not said "panty dropper."
John: Yep.

The whole sequence of John trying to kick his own father in the nuts to stop himself form being born.

Charlie: So what? The bloke fancies a bit of disco! Gilly used to be a nun. Ian was a mime! I've done a stint in the lock-up! Declan's not even Irish!

(Ray suggest that Charlie isn't that bad and they don't need to send her to Hell.)
John: She's manipulating you! Don't fall for it, mate.
Mick: Too late. He's got a tattoo.
Zari: (quietly) Oh, please let it be a tramp stamp.

Sara: Squad. Save The Queen.

Nate: (brandishing the broken arm of a paper-cutter) Today, we ride!

Ava: Can you please just tell me how you keep five Legends on a leash at once?
Sara: Very loosely. Because sometimes we pull you in the right direction.

Zari: Hey, you got a minute? I just wanted to say, about the pub -
John:Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Listen, if you're here to have some weepy, heart-to-heart, end-of-the-mission hug fest where you tell me that my problems are your problems and that happiness is just one friend away and all that bollocks, don't bother, yeah?
(There is a pause as Zari ponders her words.)
Zari: Hey, you don't know me. I wouldn't do that. That would be lame.
John: Yeah, it would. So why are you here?
Zari: I wanted to give you this surveillance photo I took of you and your mom.
(Zari hands John a picture of his mothers smiling at him as he's sitting at the bar.)
John: Thank you. You know, for not doing any of that stuff.
Zari: Yeah. Anytime.
(Zari leaves John, as he finishes his drink and looks at the picture.)

(Mick is watching Charlie from behind glass, drinking a beer. Ray walks up.)
Mick: I hate cops.
Ray: (scoffs) I am well aware of that, Mick.
Mick:  Well, today we nearly became cops.
Ray: Yeah, but we didn't.
Mick: No. Thanks to you, Rayge.
Ray: Aw. Thanks, Mick.
Charlie: All right, are you two plonkers just gonna stand there and stare at me, or is one of you gonna pour me a bloody pint?
Ray: She definitely isn't Amaya.
Mick: No. But I do like her.


Continuity

In the divergent timeline, The Queen of England attended a punk rock show while wearing the Crown Jewels and flashed her knickers (or lack thereof) to the crowd. This led to her being committed for insanity, the British monarchy collapsing and - wait for it - Anarchy in the UK.

Nate shrugs out of joining the Legends on this mission, saying that Ava wanted him to stay in Washington DC to help establish the procedures, protocols and command structure of the Time Bureau in the wake of their new magic-fighting initiative.

The Zambesi Air-Totem gem is now contained in a more secure bracelet that Ray made for Zari.

Zari is still keeping Ray's secret about helping Nora Darhk escape and having a crush on her.

Ray and Nate used to watch Patrick Swayze movies together.

John claims to have heard of every rubbish punk band in London and he's never heard of The Smell. This is because they never existed in the original timeline.

The Smell was apparently Queen Elizabeth's favorite punk band. The soared to stardom after the incident with The Queen at one of their shows. They were as famous for their music as they were for a series of improbable anti-establishment pranks, which all detect as being magical.

John believes the perpetrator of the odd business is a Leprechan, based on the look of The Smell's lead singer, who is Irish.

The Hole was the hottest punk club in London in 1977. John says he and his band, Mucous Membrane, used to play there.

The Smell wind up commandeering The Legends' van and having Ray drive them away after Mick's attacking John starts off a bar fight.

Ray endears himself to The Smell by driving on the wrong (i.e. right) side of the road for England.

Ray says that loud music makes his nose bleed.

Nate is put in charge of updating six-years worth of Time Bureau protocols.

According to Gary, The Time Bureau celebrates Taco Tuesday on Monday.

Gary flirts with a delivery person named Mona and accidentally reveals the name of The Time Bureau to her.

Ray attempts the grain test on the suspected leprechaun. It doesn't work and he's deeply hurt by the inference that he's a leprechaun because he's Irish and has red hair.

In order to prove his punk credentials to The Smell, Ray has to abduct one of Queen Elizabeth's pet Corgis. Mick and Sara help him out with this.

The Corgi, whose name is Sparky, is later found in a South London dog pound, with a pink punk haircut.

It is a tradition among The Smell to get a tattoo after your first prank as part of the group.

Ray's tattoo is of a Corgi with a Mohawk.

Zari installed a tracking device on John's communicator.

John Constantine's mother was a Liverpool barmaid in 1977.

Gary was dumped by John Constantine, who let him go easy with some talk about the balance of good and evil that even Gary realizes was total BS.

John's mother died delivering him. His father nicknamed him "Killer' because of this.

John tells Zari that his past is coming for him, but does not give any details beyond this.

As John recalls his psychic assault in 401, we see the face of a dark-skinned man with a beard.

The Smell see a news story detailing the events of 311 and the unseen adventure that required The Legends to go undercover as a disco band. Naturally, this includes a large picture of "Rage" in his disco duds.

According to Gary, the anachronism in The Pleistocene Era fixed itself.

Gary gets Nate an exotic plant for his desk.

Ray describes Amaya as the moral center of The Legends.

Charlie reveals herself to Ray as a shape-shifter. She based her current persona on a model she saw in a toothpaste ad because she liked her smile.

Charlie said that she was imprisoned by humans who were afraid of her and what she could do.

Charlie apparently stole the Crown Jewels and impersonates The Queen.

According to John, shapeshifters are some of the worst of all magical beings, having been responsible for killing sprees and world wars.

The Time Bureau pays for lunches - a fact that Gary uses to order extra large meals to save on his own food budget.

The fugitive from The Pleistocene is revealed to be the plant that Gary gave Nate.

Charlie steals The ATOM Suit and uses it to fight The Legends.

Ray and Zari are convinced to let Charlie live and not send her to Hell.

John knows a spell - a magical lobotomy - that can remove a shape-shifter's powers. He uses it on Charlie while she is in the form of Amaya in her disco costume.

Charlie is locked in a force-field on The Waverider.

Ray confesses to the rest of the team that he helped Nora Darhk escape.

Ray's favorite musical is Singin' In The Rain and is allergic to cats and Grodd.

Nate admits that the reason he wanted to get off The Waverider was because it had too many memories of Amaya and he needed some time away to get over their relationship ending.

Sara tells Nate to go ahead and stay with the Time Bureau, aborting her apparent plan to get Nate to help her with dealing with Charlie.

Zari gives John a picture she took of him while he was talking to his mother.


Location

London - 1977
Washington DC - 2018
Liverpool - 1977
Somewhere During The Pleistocene Period- 768,000 BC/


Untelevised Adventures

A reference is made to The Legends disco adventure in 311, but we still don't see it.

We do not get to see the fight between Nate and Gary and the magic plant.


The Bottom Line

Fantastic. As a Hellblazer fan, I was worried about the show taking on the punk era given John's connection to that time in the original comics. They wound up exploring John's past in a whole other way and Matt Ryan plays it brilliantly. Honestly, the whole ensemble manage this episode wonderfully and every character gets a moment to shine. I think the reduced cast is really working to the show's benefit to this season, so far, though it seems they'll be expanding the line-up shortly.  Still, this is the kind of fun episode that makes Legends my favorite Arrowverse show.

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 7, Episode 4 - Level 2

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




Plot

As Oliver is transferred to Level 2 (the worst part of The Slab) and Felicity considers how to handle her prisoner - the Longbow Hunter she's dubbed The Silencer - both will find themselves tested as never before.

Meanwhile, an arsonist targets Rene's community center, injuring Zoe. The new Green Arrow saves her, but the new mayor is more concerned about him than the arsonist, ordering Dinah to focus on bringing the vigilante to justice.


Influences

The Green Arrow comics of Judd Winick (One Year Later and The Glades being sealed off from the rest of Star City), the Green Arrow comics of Benjamin Percy (the idea of a rich elite creating their own city within a city is taken from his Rise of Star City arc), The Silencer comics of Dan Abnett (character of The Silencer), Supermax (David Goyer's unproduced "Green Arrow in prison" movie) and the film and novel The Princess Bride (hero is strapped down and tortured by a device called The Machine).


Goofs

Felicity says that the assassin she captured calls herself The Silencer. In the last episode, it was said that was the name Felicity gave her.

 Black Siren's talk about going bad because she lost her father and her Ollie doesn't quite work. She should have still had a mother when her Quentin died and we have no idea if there was a Sara on Earth 2 or not. Point being - Black Siren should have had at least one other loved one to stop her from going over the edge, as far as we know.


Performances

This episode may be Rick Gonzalez's finest turn yet as Rene Ramirez. Who would have thought that Wild Dog would somehow wind up simultaneously being the voice of reason regarding not using torture because it makes you as evil as the villains you are trying to fight while still arguing in favor of vigilantism and breaking the law for the right reasons and having both nuanced arguments work? Not me, and Gonzalez nails Rene in his low key intensity as he tries to balance multiple hats in this episode.

Juliana Harkavy likewise pulls off a similar balancing act. Her frustration over the new Mayor's clear indifference to the string of arson crimes outside of it being a means to boosting her profile by going after the city's sole remaining vigilante is clear, but she's still throwing everything into trying to restore people's faith in the law and, in a way, trying to restore her own faith after so many years as a vigilante working outside the system. This adds a whole other level to her fight with Rene, which is also born of her own desires to avoid seeing her friends and herself thrown in jail. It's subtle yet complex and well played.


Trivia

Oliver reveals that the man his father killed on the life-raft to save Oliver's life was Robert Queen's bodyguard, Hackett. In Green Arrow: Year One, Hackett was the name of Oliver Queen's treacherous survival skills teacher and guide, who shared several adventures with Oliver before trying to leave him for dead in the South Seas. He was later revealed to be an employee of the drug lord China White, who had been using Oliver's bank accounts to launder drug money on the sly. Ironically, it was Hackett's teachings that enabled Oliver Queen to survive on the jungle island China White used as a base/poppy farm, giving him his first taste of heroism as he began to become The Green Arrow.

The Rubik's cube inside of Felicity's vault is also a holographic projector. In the original comics, technology based around Rubik's cubes were a favorite toy of The Calculator, whose Arrowverse equivalent is Felicity Smoak's father.

The movie showing at the Starling Palladium when Rene and Dinah show up looking for Jon Cortez and his crew is The Invincible Armor - a 1977 kung fu film famous for a line that seems an appropriate sentiment for Oliver Queen and most of Arrow's heroes - "I've made a vow not to kill, but it seems I must."

The canary emblem on the pin that Dinah gives Zoe is the Black Canary symbol used during the Gail Simone run of Birds of Prey.

The revelation that The Glades were sealed off from the rest of Star City and are now some kind of gated community for rich elites seems to borrow from two different storylines from the  Green Arrow comics. The first was One Year Later, in which a corrupt mayor of Star City had a wall built to separate The Glades from the rest of Star City following a super-villain attack that devastated the city, hoping to find private investors to gentrify the neighborhood. The second was The Rise of Star City, which was based around a fiendish banking group called The Ninth Circle turning Seattle into the first of their Star Cities - a municipality totally run by Randian capitalism, with no social services or public works save what privately-owned business were willing to invest in. The end result was a gated community in the middle of the city, with the working class forced out of the city and into the ghettos that sprung up on the outskirts of town.


Technobabble

Dinah determines Diaz isn't involved in the arson in The Glades because the attack on the community center used an accelerate that was used in a number of other suspected arson cases including one that occurred on the same day Diaz broke into the CDC.

The acceptance rate to MIT is 6.7%.

The children of the incarcerated are three times more likely to wind up in the justice system as the children of non-offenders.

The vault in Felicity's office in 2038 is based on a system Felicity was working on when he was a kid. All it takes to fix it is a simple recursive algorithm followed by "a Felicity special."

The Machine is a new form of electrical therapy that targets the areas of the brain that store memories tied to a person's greatest fears.


Dialogue Triumphs

Rene: Felicity, you don't know what you're saying. Torturing someone is a line you do not want to cross.When The Navy discharged me for what I did to a prisoner, I learned a lesson about the cost of my humanity. Because I still have nightmares of what I did. Even though it saved lives. So when Tobias Church tortured me for over 20 hours, itwas the universe paying me back. That's evil for evil!

Rene: I'm became a vigilante for her. Because I wanted her to be able to walk the streets and not get attacked, not have her purse stolen and not be offered drugs, because her mother died on these streets already. I just want a better life for her.
Dinah: I care about Zoe too. And I promise I will find out who set that fire. But you saw what happened at that town hall, Rene. These people have completely lost faith in law enforcement, because Diaz corrupted it! My job is to catch whoever did this and restore that faith. All I'm asking is that you have faith in me.

(Felicity walks into the DA's office.)
Felicity: Wow. So you are actually practicing law?
Black Siren: Why does everybody find that so hard to believe?
Felicity: Well, probably because you're not the real Laurel. Or a real lawyer. (beat) Trying saying that three times fast. What a tongue twister.
Black Siren: (testily) Okay. Listen. I am doing this for Quentin. So if you don't mind, I'd like to get back to work now.
Felicity: Yeah, I get it. I mean, prosecuting criminals must be a lot harder than being one.

(Zoe is trying to get Rene to leave her in her hospital room to save people at an apartment fire.)
Zoe: You taught me only punks forget about their community.
Rene: (smiling) Why you always got to listen to everything I say?

Oliver: Everything that I've done, I've- I've done for my son.
Dr. Parker: I don't doubt that. But it is my duty to point out uncomfortable truths, so that you can reform yourself so that you can become the man you want to be for your son. You created your vigilante persona so that you could avenge your father's wrongs. Isn't any part of you concerned that William will take your lead and become a murderer just like you?
(Oliver nods)
Dr. Parker: Then listen to me.That promise to your father was made when you were vulnerable and desperate. It tainted your mission from the start, affecting you and your son. It wasn't fair of your father to ask what he did of you. You must let go of the past! Only then can you spare your family from paying for your sins.
Oliver: (breathing heavily, speaking quietly and grinning) Go to Hell.
Dr. Parker: He's not responding. Prepare the machine.

Diggle: Dinah, you're under pressure. A lot of pressure. I get.that. Are you sure it's not something more?
(Dinah just looks at him evenly)
Diggle: You know what helps me? Spending time with JJ. Family, Dinah. That helps us through.
Dinah: John - Living in the shadows is when all the worst things happen. Oliver going to prison. Vince - first undercover, and then... (pauses) That's the real reason. Because as much as I believed in Team Arrow, I had to move on. I had to be a different kind of hero for this city.
Diggle: Yeah. You know, sometimes I wonder if there's any form of justice that's 100% on the level, even at ARGUS. I think sometimes you need vigilantes and law enforcement working together to get results. Quentin Lance - he did things by the book. But Dinah? Lance was willing to work with anyone who could hep him.
Dinah: This Green Arrow isn't Oliver. I can't risk everything for a stranger.
Diggle: A stranger with good intel.

Dinah: Look, right now the SCPD is on its own. We just - we can't get justice for The Glades. So I am willing to give working together a shot - if - you do it my way.
Rene: If? I've been trying to make this happen for weeks!

(Black Siren tries to talk Felicity out of torturing The Silencer with a rusty screwdriver.)
Black Siren: This isn't you.
Felicity: (cooly) This is the new me. This is the me who doesn't wait around to get murdered. And this is the me - this is the me who fights back!


Continuity

Oliver is kept in a cell, chained sitting-up, without food and water, in a cell with erratic lights and a continual high-pitched droning.

Dr. Jarrett Parker is the chief psychiatrist on Level 2 of The Slab.

The Silencer is kept in a hot boiler room with no food or water.

Rene advises against torturing The Silencer, citing his own experiences in the Navy, which got him dishonorably discharged.

Rene and Dinah attend a town hall meeting at Rene's community center.

The public in The Glades seem to be of the opinion the city was better off with the vigilantes, as the police are overwhelmed.

Police response time in The Glades is two hours.

Zoe is saved from the fire by the new Green Arrow.

The new mayor of Star City is a woman named Pollard. She immediately blames Green Arrow for the fire and orders the police to focus their inquiries in that direction.

Curtis buys Zoe a Beebo doll as a get-well present.

Oliver is able to keep track of the passage of time despite any frame of reference in his cell.

Oliver is injected with something to make him more agreeable to talking.

Oliver tells Dr. Parker about how his father killed his bodyguard, Hackett, and himself to save Oliver's life and how he asked Oliver to fix his mistakes, inspiring Oliver to become The Star City Vigilante.

Felicity approaches Black Siren about torturing The Silencer.

Zoe likes strawberries and cantaloupes.

The next fire is started at The Lofts - an low-income housing complex in The Glades.

The new Green Arrow tells Rene that the arsonist is a man named Jon Cortez.

The new Green Arrow does a flip as he escapes.

Rene blocks Dinah from being able to shoot the new Green Arrow.

Dinah arrests Rene for interfering in a police investigation.

Oliver is meditating while locked in his cell to avoid suffering as much from the efforts to break him.

Oliver tells Dr. Parker that a woman named Tatsu Yamashiro taught him how to meditate.

Rene uses his one phone call to contact Digg and ask him to look up Jon Cortez.

Diggle looks up Jon Cortez and finds that he's a merc arsonist with his own crew. He leaves Dinah a copy of ARGUS' file on him.

Cortez has been getting payments from Patbane Holdings - a shell company that has been buying up the burnt-up properties in The Glades.

Dinah agrees to work with Rene to catch Cortez.

Like, Rene, Black Siren also warns Felicity against trying to torture The Silencer.

Oliver hallucinates being on the life raft with William while locked in The Machine. He asks William to forget about him before killing himself.

Oliver says that William is the most important thing in the world to him.

The man behind Patbane Holdings is a real-estate investor named Marcus Fish.

Rene and Dinah figure out that Cortez's next target is The Starling Palladium - an old movie house on 8th Street.

Rene is recognized by Cortez's men, suggesting that his identity as Wild Dog is public knowledge even outside of his students and the people of The Glades.

The new Green Arrow helps Rene and Dinah catch Cortez and his men. Neither show any sign of recognizing who he is under the hood.

Dinah gives Zoe a pin shaped like the Black Canary emblem.

After going through The Machine, Oliver says that his name is Inmate 4587 instead of Oliver Queen.

Felicity plants an RFID chip in The Silencer's belt, enabling them to track her when she makes her escape.

Black Siren says that the Felicity Smoak of Earth 2 runs a criminal empire and is known for being ruthless.

Both Roy and William swore they'd never return to Star City.

Graffiti of an X-ed out Deathstroke mask is visible in the background at one point as Roy and William are walking through Star City. The graffiti also reads "The Glades Forgot Us."

The coordinates on the Queen Family hozen change, leading William and Roy to the ruins of Smoak Technologies and Felicity's office.

William asks outright why Felicity would be playing games with him instead of just contacting him outright.

William says Felicity was the one who influenced him to go into the tech field.

Roy says William is more forgiving than he is.

William finds a vault that can only be opened by completing a code that Felicity showed him once.

William and Roy meet with Dinah - who is a vigilante once again.

Dinah tells Roy he never should have come back to Star City, implying that he does return to Star City at some point between 2018 and 2038.

Dinah explains that Star City fell when The Glades rose. They built a wall around The Glades and sealed it off from the rest of Star City, not allowing anyone else to enter.

The SCPD are essentially a private army protecting The Glades from everything outside its borders.

The bag inside the vault contains a Rubik's Cube.

Dinah says Roy used to be much more patient in the past. This suggests that Roy got to know Dinah pretty well, as the two never interacted that we know of.

William says that making a pattern on a Rubik's cube is like running an algorithm. His favorite was "cube within a cube."

When William makes the pattern, the cube projects a holographic map of The Glades, showing secret passages in and out.

Zoe has become Dinah's protege and apparently the new Black Canary. She says she's part of a Vigilante Resistance - one of the few left fighting to save Star City.

Zoe says her dad wouldn't be caught dead in Star City, when asked about what happened to Wild Dog.

Dinah says that Felicity is dead.


Location

Slabside Maximum Security Prison.
Star City - 2038


The Bottom Line

A solid episode, despite Stephen Amell being largely wasted giving a "drunk" performance that doesn't hold the interest of his conflicted storyline from earlier episodes and Emily Bett Rickards barely being involved in things. The Dinah/Rene stuff is golden however and the future storyline is kicked into overdrive with some major reveals. Good stuff, all around.

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 47

In which, having exploited a glitch to give ourselves insane amounts of hit-points and having finally beaten Ivan at chess, we get back to the main plot of Chapter Three - hunting down the Nighthawks and attacking their secret fortress!


Monday, November 5, 2018

Starman Plays Betrayal at Krondor - Part 46

In which we explore the North Dimwood and the northeastern section of the game world and make more money on our barding. We also explore a trick that lets you increase your hit points so long as you have money to spend on rations. We then make our way to Kenting Rush and finally make the acquaintance of Navon du Sandau.


Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 4 - Ahimsa

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




Plot

The combined efforts of Brainiac-5 and Lena Luthor have saved Supergirl's life. Unfortunately, though the atmosphere is still laden with Kryptonite, Kara refuses to sit on the sidelines while lives are endangered... much to Alex's annoyance. Meanwhile, J'onn meets with Fiona's fiancee, Manchester, and begins to consider another way he might help during the current conflict while still honoring his promise to his father to abandon the way of the warrior.


Influences

The Superman comics of Cary Bates and Joe Kelly. The Superman animated series episode "Feeding Time." (Creation of special protective armor for a Kryptonian hero.) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (the alien parasite Agent Liberty uses to control the alien prisoner resembles the Ceti Eel from this film.) the Iron Man movies (Kara's face in the HUD display when she's in the armor) and the classic Captain Marvel comics (the alien worm could be a nod to the villain Mr. Mind)


Goofs

It's a little odd that Agent Liberty - who objected to needlessly killing a rogue DEO agent because humans shouldn't be killing humans - is the one who hits upon the idea of sending the aliens under his control after children. One would think that idea would come from the more ruthless (and ironically named) Mercy.

It's also a little odd that it takes Brainiac-5 running a simulation for the DEO to figure that Fiona is probably describing the National City Fair. What happened, J'onn?  You were such a great detective in the last three episodes!

Fiona was described as being an empathy in earlier episodes. Not it seems she is a telepath. Also, it seemed that she fairly definitely killed in the first episode of the season.

Ignoring whether or not it should be possible for Alex to charge up Kara's exoskeleton by shooting it with an electric blast from her special gun, one wonders why she didn't just shoot Hellgrammite?

How the heck did the Russians get their Supergirl clone into a secure environment and save her when the Kryptonite entering the atmosphere caught the DEO totally off-guard?


Performances

David Ajala is a treat as Manchester Black, perfectly capturing the bloke's bloke attitude of the character from the comics, though it seems this story will be exploring how he becomes the anti-hero he was in the comics. Suits me, because he is hilarious and a welcome foil to the overly serious J'onn.


Super Trivia

The episode title - Ahimsa - comes from the Sanskrit word for the principal of non-violence towards all living things practiced in the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain traditions. It was also a favorite saying of Fiona Byme.

The radiation-controlled proto-environment housed in a vacuum-sealed mechanical exoskeleton Lena creates is comparable to the Anti-Kryptonite Armor that Dr. Emil Hamilton created for Superman in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "Feeding Time." Though primarily intended to protect Superman from the effects of Kryptonite, the suit (which was made of a flexible titanium-lead alloy, and topped by a helmet with a transparent leaded-polycarbonate faceplate) was durable enough it allowed Superman to wear it as armor against enemies he could not risking touching directly, such as The Parasite.

Supergirl's new suit is also reminiscent of The Supermobile from the Superman comics of Cary Bates and Curt Swan.  First appearing in Action Comics #481, the Supermobile was a unique vehicle designed by Superman himself which acted as an extension of Superman's powers in those environments where he could not safely travel, such as planets orbiting a red sun or worlds with a high concentration of Kryptonite. He first used the Supermovile to fight the power-replicating robot Amazo during a time in which a wave of red sun radiation had engulfed the Earth, making Superman powerless outside the safety of The Supermobile.

The character of Manchester Black was created by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke in Action Comics #775. Leader of the team of super-powered anti-heroes known as The Elite, Manchester Black was a powerful telepath and telekinetic who believed the only way to deal with super-powered criminals was to kill them so they could never be a threat in the future. This attitude brought him into direct conflict with Superman, who ultimately challenged the whole of The Elite to a duel of sorts and was able to incapacitate the whole team using non-lethal methods. Humiliated, Black swore revenge and dedicated himself to pushing Superman into breaking his moral code to prove that he was right. He later committed suicide after realizing that he had become one of the villains he hated so much. The character was later revived in the Superman: Rebirth series, though this time he met his end by having his consciousness transferred into the body of a dairy cow.

The truck holding Fiona is for F.A. Thoom - Portable Washroom Rentals.  FA-THOOM is a popular sound effect used in comic books for the noise of large waves and water, perhaps as a nod to the word "fathom."

One of the aliens abducted by Mercy and Agent Liberty is called Kopy and he has the power to create multiple duplicates of himself. This power is possessed by a number of DC Comics villains including the Firestorm villain Multiplex (who appeared in the second episode of The Flash TV series) and a Superman villain called The Duplicate Man (who appeared in World's Finest #106).

The worm-like parasite used to control Fiona could be a reference to Mister Mind - a super-intelligent, talking worm who frequently tried to take people over as part of his sinister plans to take over the world. Mister Mind was said to be from a few planets over the years (most frequently Venus) but first appeared in Captain Marvel Adventures #26 in August 1943.

Brainiac-5 makes use of the future curse-word "sprock", saying that "We're sprocked!" as he contemplates the problem of how to filter the atmosphere.

One boy at the National City Fair is seen holding a Beebo doll. This is the first indication that Beebo - the popular toy that played a major role in the third season of Legends of Tomorrow - exists on Earth 38.

At one point, Otis tries to say the phrase "Welcome to Otisberg!"  In Superman: The Movie, Otisberg was a small town Otis arranged to have named after himself on Lex Luthor's map of new cities to be built on the new western coastline after he successfully sank California into the ocean.The other cities had names like Costa Del Lex, Luthorville, Lexington, Marina Del Lex and Lex Springs.

The character of Colonel Haley seems to be based on the comic book character of Lieutenant Lauren Haley. First appearing in Wonder Woman #325 in May 1985, she was a minor supporting character who was an Air Force officer whom Wonder Woman saved from being sacrificed to the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca. She may also be related to Walter "Prof" Haley - one of the founding members of the Challengers Of The Unknown.


Technobabble

The exoskeleton containing Kara requires all of its power to focus on preserving her life. Alex fears that using it in a combat situation may cause it to fail.

Brainiac-5 eventually hits on the idea of using trillions of nanobots programmed to filter the Kryptonite from the atmosphere one molecule at a time. In essence, they will not need a giant vacuum cleaner to clean the atmosphere - just trillions of tiny ones.

J'onn can boost his telepathy by using a talisman - an object with emotional weight for the person he is trying to find - like a cell tower amplifying a phone signal. (This suggests that J'onn is clairvoyant in addition to being telepathic.)


Dialogue Triumphs

(J'onn enters into his apartment. He stops suddenly and turns to look at a figure who emerges into view in the living room.)
J'onn: Man, you picked the wrong house.
Manchester Black: Don't think so. Man your age, lives alone? No personal history to be found. Bit dodgy, that. Red flags. So tell me... John Jones... how do you know Fiona?
J'onn: (recognizing the man from the photos he saw before) You're her fiancee.
Manchester: That I am. Luckiest man in the world. Only Fiona.. dropped off the radar. Not like her. And you seem to have spent some time following her about.
J'onn: Fiona's just a friend.
Manchester: Well "friend" - I'll ask you once more.  Where is she?
(Manchester grabs J'onn by the collar of his jacket. J'onn sighs and his eyes glow red.)
J'onn: Today is not the day to push me.
(Manchester grins at this.)
Manchester:
Not from around here, are we?
(Manchester lets go of J'onn and pats his back and chest reassuringly as if dusting him off.)
Manchester:
Relax, man. Weren't gonna hurt ya. (deepening his voice, teasingly in imitation of J'onn) "Today is not the day to push me."

(Agent Liberty demasks himself after being called a coward.)
Agent Liberty: "Coward in a mask." This mask signifies that it doesn't matter who I am. Who am I? I'm just a small piece of something much bigger.

(Brainiac-5 realizes that he is crying in his frustration at being unable to find a cure for Supergirl. When Lena points it out and just stares at him, he becomes defensive.)
Brainiac-5: What? I'm not a robot! I'm techno-organic. I have feelings. You should be crying too. These are tears of logic!

(Nia is trying to persuade James to give up being Guardian for good.)
Nia: If you go out there again, I have a feeling something bad will happen.
James: Heroes go out there even when they know something bad is going to happen. That's what makes them heroes.

J'onn: How do we reconcile who we are with who we want to be, Alex?
Alex: We forgive ourselves. Pacifism doesn't mean inaction. It just means that you have to learn how to fight without raising a sword.

(Otis is holding a gun to Supergirl's head. Alex has a gun drawn on him. Mercy walks up drawing a gun on Alex.)
Mercy:
Why are you protecting her? Why are you protecting any of them? Look at what they do!
Alex: They aren't doing this. You are.
Mercy: People need to be afraid. Even if  it means we have to sell it to them.
(Cut to DEO HQ. Lena is looking at the display monitoring the atmosphere-cleaning nanites.)
Lena: 100%
Brainiac-5: Rerouting power from Life Support. Unlocking suit now.
Otis: Yeah. What she said!  Welcome to Otis-
(Supergirl suddenly reaches up and grabs Otis' gun-hand, squeezing, forcing him to drop the gun and  bringing him to his knees.)
Mercy: No! We're fighting for freedom! From roaches! From-
(Suddenly, two spikes shoot from behind Alex and hit Mercy in the chest. She falls to the ground immediately.)
Otis:
No! Mercy!
(Two more spikes hit Otis in the back as he too passes out. Alex turns around and sees the Hellgrammite, who sits up and offers her his wrists.)
Helgrammite:
Now they're free.


Dialogue Disasters

President Baker: And on top of that terrible Sunday of incompetence, Supergirl goes on a fun suicide mission!


Continuity

Brainy refers to the events of 310 when he tells the sleeping Kara to tell Streaky he said "hi" if she is in her mind palace.

Mercy Graves kills another DEO agent who was turned to her cause and helped to free several prisoners - Hellgramite (last seen in 102) and Kopy - from a DEO prison for alien criminals, along with the alien worm that created The Parasite in 206.

Manchester Black called Fiona "Fi" for short. She called him "Ches."

J'onn shares his information on Officer Petrocelli from 402 with Manchester Black.

Manchester gets Officer Petrocelli drunk and learns that Mercy Graves is planning an attack on the police station on 4th St. and Columbia.

J'onn uses his telepathy to focus on The Graves Siblings and thinks he hears Fiona's voice calling to him.

Kopy is an alien who can split himself into multiple versions of himself. It is possible he is meant to be the criminal who was part of Non's team in 108 or may be a member of the same species.

Manchester Black is shown to be a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and capable of taking a blow with a police-issue nightstick without flinching.

Kara's exo-skeleton fails after only a few seconds of fighting multiple Kopy clones.

President Baker orders Supergirl to remain at the DEO until he gives the order for her to be released.

Lena teaches Braniac-5 how to handle repressing his emotions by putting his feelings in a box and hiding it inside him.

Brainiac-5 refers to the events of 218 and how Spheerical Industries is now owned by L-Corp.

Agent Liberty conceives on the idea of sending Hellgramite after children in order to truly scare people into being afraid of aliens.

Manchester Black says that he and Fiona used to be part of the same gang of football hooligans. She ran books for the gang.

Manchester Black claims that he had an ability to turn off the switch in your head that makes a person hold back when trying to hurt another person. He stopped brawling after meeting Fiona, however.

Manchester Black said that he suggested Fiona go to the States after their gang found out she was an alien.

Manchester Black and Fiona Byme had matching engagement rings.

Nia tells James not to go out as The Guardian again because she has a feeling something bad will happen if he does. It is implied that she had a prophetic dream, having fallen asleep at her desk and woken up before she did this.

J'onn is able to make contact with Fiona and let Manchester talk to her.

Fiona says that they are using a parasite to use her telepathy to control other aliens. Fiona says she's being held someplace with music and a crowd and she can smell sweets.

Otis and Mercy are killed by The Hellgrammite.

Agent Jensen has second thoughts and disables the technology that is controlling Fiona.

Fiona dies just as Manchester and J'onn rescue her.

Fiona asks Manchester not to be angry at the people who killed her.

J'onn takes away Fiona's pain as she dies.

President Baker sends in a US Army Colonel named Haley to oversee the DEO after Alex disobeys a direct order.

The good news is that James does not face any new charges from the DA's office after going out to help save people at the fairgrounds as Guardian and in fact is told he might be deputized.

The bad news is James finds out he's become a darling of the Earth First movement and is trending on-line as a human hero in blog posts that are ignoring how all the aliens attacking the fair grounds were mind-controlled.

Rhubarb pie is Alex's favorite

Manchester Black is seen buying a large number of guns. He is now wearing a t-shirt with a Union Jack, somewhat similar to his uniform from the comics.

The Russian Supergirl is revealed to be have been kept in some kind of vault while the Kryptonite was in the air.

The episode ends with Agent Liberty putting the alien parasite worm inside Agent Jensen's head.


Location


Site B - DEO Desert Facility


The Fridge Factor

Fiona, who I could have sworn was definitely killed off in the first episode, survives just long enough to die in Manchester's arms and fuel his apparent descent into anti-heroism.


The Kryptonite Factor

Honestly, the entire cast has to be thrown into sharp relief for this story to work. Alex loses all her confidence. Brainy loses all sense of self-control. Kara, the biggest goody-two-shoes in the world, is suddenly a rebel who can't follow orders. J'onn loses all confidence in himself and his telepathy seems to be acting more like clairvoyance.


The Bottom Line


Patently ridiculous as a character piece and packed with the worst cliches of hack writing, such as the beloved woman who hangs on just long enough to die in her lover's arms, inspiring his becoming a vigilante. I question them killing off Otis and Mercy so soon after introducing them as a writer, yet as a fan who finds them annoying I'm glad to see them gone. And Manchester Black gets an awesome introduction, made more awesome by the fact that he's practically the only character in this episode who isn't having an identity crisis... which is rather odd as he should be by the episodes end. Ah well - something to look forward to.