Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 2 - Stranger Beside Me

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




Plot

Faced with the mystery of a brother he has no memory of existing, J'onn turns to Kelly Olsen and her new mind-scanning technology at Obsidian Tech for help in sorting through his past. Kara, Alex and Brainy give chase to the mysterious Malefic, only for Kara to run afoul of her new co-worker William Day, who seems to be stalking Kara. Meanwhile, Lena begins a new experiment with an unexpected test subject... Eve Teschmacher!


Influences

The Martian Manhunter comics of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake.


Goofs

It seems unlikely that Mars would have characters named Phobos and Deimos in their mythology, just like the Ancient Greek legends of Earth. (Phobos and Deimos are the sons of the war god Ares and gods of Panic and Dread respectively.)

The dubbing for James in his Guardian costume sounds ludicrous, being too growly and almost unintelligible.


Artistry

The special effects used to create J'onn's psychic mindscape are well executed.


Super Trivia

Brainiac-5 makes reference to an alien race called the Euphorians, who he says have a similar brain structure to Martians. In the DC Comics Universe, Euphorians are the dominant species of the planet Euphorix. They resemble humans, save that some Euphorians have no pupils in their eyes and some have hair that is naturally pink or purple. Like humans, Euphorians do not have any innate superpowers, though there are members of the species who developed powers as a result of genetic mutation or alteration. Some Euphorians are also capable of utilizing magic.

J'onn makes reference to Malefic creating something called H'ronmeer's Curse, that killed off most of the Green Martians and eventually ended the Martian Civil War. In the comics, H'ronmeer's Curse was a psychic plague Malefic created that was passed through the Martian hive mind by any Martian attempting to telepathically link to another. This was due to Malefic being jealous and isolated, having been born without a Martian's natural telepathy. It was later revealed that Malefic did have telepathy at one point, but his memory and ability to use it were removed after he psychically raped his sister-in-law.


Technobabble


Fa'ra'too'rik is a psychic punishment inflicted through the Martian hive mind on brothers who fight one another physically.

Q-Waves are a form of radiation located between X-Rays and Gamma-Rays which are used in treating psychic trauma. Brainy says they weren't discovered until The Late Dark Ages, but is then informed that Kelly uses them as part of her work at Obsidian Tech. It should be noted that

Non Nocere is the Latin phrarse for "Do No Harm."

The VR lenses developed by Obsidian North create a link between what the brain sees and what it wants to see, creating a blank slate. Lena believes she can use this link to direct the blank slate to impose rules on the viewer.

Q-Waves scans maps and catalog a persons memories, creating pictures that depict the memories as a series of rings, like the rings on the base of a tree that has been cut down. The rings show breaks and irregularities at points where a person suffered from severe brain trauma.

Q-Waves are measured in biohertz. Doses of Q-Waves are administered in increments of 20.

A dose of 80 biohertz could permanently erase a person's mind.

One component of Obsidian North's contact lenses is a Lumus pixellator.


Dialogue Triumphs

Lena: Hope, could you hurt someone?
Hope: I am incapable of causing pain. It is against my prime directive.
Lena: Exactly. Because you were built in the very image of perfection. You have no selfish inclinations.Your base code is morality, empathy, and logic. Humans and aliens, however, are flawed. They are driven by their emotions. They lie, cheat, and hurt each other to protect themselves. But it's not their fault, it's just how they're programmed. I am going to make them better with Project Non Nocere.
Hope: Do no harm.
Lena: I'm going to rid humanity of its instincts to hurt each other.
Hope: But you cannot reprogram organic creatures.
Lena: The VR lenses create a link between what we want and what we see, constructing a blank slate in the brain on which a new world can be projected. If I can find the source of that link, I can redirect the blank slate to have one single rule.
Hope: Non Nocere. Do no harm.

Brainy: Nia! You are welcome. I assume you received the pizza delivery?
Nia: Thank you for the pizzas but my dress is bursting at the seams, and I'm pretty sure I have heartburn.
Brainy: (romantically) Hmm, yes. My heart also burns.


Continuity

Alex's signature breakfast is poached eggs, crispy bacon, fresh whipped cream, and blueberry pancakes.

Kelly is deathly allergic to blueberries - a fact she discovered when she nearly died after eating some when she was 4.

Kelly always carries an epi-pen with her, in case of an allergy attack.

Kelly doesn't liked poached eggs. Bacon and whipped cream, however, are two of her favorites.

Nia's favorite breakfast is burritos with chorizo and crema. Her preferred brand of coffee is "Nitro," which she takes with an extra shot of cold brew.

Kara thinks Andrea Rojas bough CatCo was a means of getting an advertising platform for Obsidian North.

In the day since he quit CatCo, James has been approached by a group that wants to back him in a run for the open race for a new state Senator.

James was also offered the position of the media director of the Smithsonian Museum.

According to J'onn, there were two brothers, Phobos and Deimos, in the early days of Mars. Their rivalry and bloodshed was the reason for the split of the Green and White Martians. To prevent this ever happening again, a curse was placed on the Green Martians, which psychically inflicted pain on brothers who fought each other. This is known as Fa'ra'too'rik.

J'onn says there is no cure for Fa'ra'too'rik on Earth.

Brainy says that, in the future, psychic traumas are treated with Q-Waves.

Kelly uses Q-Waves in treating her patients at Obsidian North.

Males is revealed to have a White Martian ally on Earth.

Lena's new project, Project Non Nocere, will rid humanity of their instincts to hurt one another. Lena intends to accomplish this through studying Obsidian North's contact lenses and using them to find a way to reprogram people organically.

It is revealed that Lena abducted Eve Teschmacher in 501.

Andrea Rojas starts requiring all of CatCo's writing to be submitted through a portal that can only be accessed by certain special tablets .

William Day's wife is a lawyer.

Andrea assigns Kara to write a piece on the fashions worn at her Pulitzer Prize award ceremony and demands it be done by lunch, after Kara pitches a piece on the state Senate race.

Eve says that she was recruited by Leviathan at age 16, because she was deeply in debt after her parents died and she had no other way to finish paying for college.  She does not, however, name the organization as she says they would kill her and Lena if they even thought Eve had exposed them.

Brainy overdoes it trying to deliver Nia's favorite lunch, leaving her with enough Bento boxes to build a fort around her desk.

Kelly works with her patients to create a sort of mind palace where they feel safe. For J'onn, the palace takes the form of his office. His altered memories take the form of books with blank covers and no names on the spines.

The Battle of L'Zoril M'nt and Battle of C'arel were two major battles of the Martian Civil War.

One of the blank books in J'onn's mindscape opens a secret passageway revealing a Martian door Opening it leads J'onn into a void where his memory should be.

According to J'onn, only another Martian would be capable of erasing his memory but altering the mind of another is the greatest sin in Martian culture.

William Day looks suspicious when Kara leaves in the middle of the day. As she does this, he was looking at photos of Andrea Rojas with someone named Dr. Niles Jarrod.

William Day calls in a favor with the NSA to have Kara's phone tracked.

J'onn guesses his parents might have made him forget Malefic existed

William Day follows Kara's phone signal into the sewers, seeing Supergirl fighting the White Martian before running away.

J'onn recalls that Malefic created a poison called H'ronmeer's Curse, which weakened the Green Martain forces, killing many and basically winning the Martian Civil War for the White Martians.

Before they fell, the Green Martian High Council sentenced Malefic to be banished to the Phantom Zone for his crime.

William Day finishes Kara's article for her and turns it in. This results in Kara being assigned to edit copy rather than writing, since the copy editor department is overworked.

Andrea Rojas is able to get into Lena's secret lab.

Lena's assistant is the girlfriend of Andrea Rojas' best friend.

Andrea had trackers installed in the contacts she gave Lena and determined she was taking them apart trying to figure out how they worked. She takes the borken pair, says Lena will never own another one and that it she tries a stunt like that again then Lena will be the big story rather than owing her one.

Eve points out she could have called for help when Andrea was in the lab but didn't and says that proves she can be trusted.

Brainy sends Nia far too many of her favorite pizza for dinner.

Nia tells Brainy to lay off the food and find other ways to express his love.

Nia says she enjoys stupid buddy comedies, Taylor Swift, quiet nights in and poetry.

 Alex sees through Malefic's disguise immediately when he masquerades as Kelly.

Kelly is allergic to blueberries, hazelnuts, bees, and cats.

Brainy sneaks into Nia's apartment and reads her poetry as she is falling asleep.

William Day is revealed to volunteer at a homeless shelter, after Kara tells him off for trying to sabotage her at work.

Malefic says that he has no power to incept (i.e. enter another person's mind telepathically)

Lena uses Hope to alter Eve Teschmacher's mind, letting Hope take over her body.


The Bottom Line

A decent enough episode, though the focus is on J'onn rather than Kara and almost everything in the Lena subplot is far more interesting than Kelly and Alex's romance and Nia and Brainy's comic relief. Still, it does a lot to develop Malefic and it mostly harmless and inoffensive.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Batwoman Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 2 - The Rabbit Hole

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




Plot

With Jacob Kane and The Crows more determined than ever to bring down Alice and the Wonderland Gang, Kate faces a frightening possibility - what if Alice is her long-list sister, Beth? As Kate explores this possibility and continues to make use of Bruce's old tech, she must discover who she can trust, particularly when Mary has her own secrets and Sophie seems to have figured out Kate is Gotham's new vigilante.


Influences

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams.


Performances

Rachel Skarsten delivers a great performance as Alice/Beth, finding just the right balance between mad genius and vengeance personified.


Bat Trivia

There's a tree stump in the middle of the Bat Cave under Wayne Enterprises. In the comics, Kate's lair also had a tree stump in the middle of it.

The parking garage through which Kate accesses the secret garage entrance to the Bat Cave looks very similar to the underground bunker where Lucius Fox worked in The Dark Knight trilogy of movies.

When Sophie asks Kate if she is Batwoman, Kate says that if she were going to dress up and dramatically save people she'd do it as Wonder Woman. This is the first indication that Wonder Woman exists in the Arrowverse, even as a fictional character. (It should be mentioned, however, that the Amazons and Themyscira were confirmed to exist on Earth 1 in L306.)

Reference is made to Robinson Park - the Gotham City equivalent of Central Park in the comics. It is named in honor of legendary Batman artist Jerry Robinson.

Kate uses "Waffles" as a code-word to prove that Alice is Beth, as the two sisters always went to the same park after-school on Fridays and got chocolate waffles at a nearby snack stand. This character note is taken directly from the Batwoman comics, where the two sisters got chocolate and waffles (their favorite food) on their birthday before being abducted by terrorists.

At one point one of The Crows make reference to the Kubert District of Gotham City. This is likely a nod to Andy Kubert - a notable artist, famous for his work on Batman and Son and the Neil Gaiman story Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? It could also be a nod to Joe Kubert, Andy's father, who is more famous for his work on various war comics, but did draw a number of milestone covers for various Batman titles before founding The Kubert School for comic book artists.

The explosion which allows Alice to escape occurs on Loeb Bridge. This is a nod to writer Jeph Loeb, who wrote The Long Halloween and Hush.

It is said that the fragments which were determined to be part of Beth's skull were found at Miller Farm. This is a nod to writer Frank Miller, who wrote The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One.

Vesper Fairchild makes a joking reference to Robin's high school graduation as to why Batman might not have shown up to investigate the bombing of the Loeb Bridge. This is the first time Robin has been confirmed to exist in the Arrowverse.


Technobabble

Wayne Enterprises owns a thermal cycler and Polymerase Chain Reaction mixers, which are used to separate and amplify DNA. These could be used to compare two DNA strands to see if they match.

Batman's gear includes a laser saw that can cut through anything and a rebreather that lets a person breathe underwater without a SCUBA tank.

The Bat-Suit has a built in defibrillator, but no auto-dry function despite costing $10.8 million to make.


Dialogue Triumphs

Alice: Tell me you found my favorite knife.
Dodgson: No luck.
Alice: What the hell did I do with it? It is so much more fun unveiling my evil plan when I can flip it about for cadence.

(Luke is trying to scare Kate out of using the gear in the Bat Cave)
Luke: See, these aren't toys. These are one-of-a-kind, dangerous tools which even I don't know how to use. I don't how to use half the stuff in here because it's not meant for me. It's meant for Batman.
Kate: You know who you sound like?
Luke: I'm sure you'll tell me.
Kate: Lucius Fox.
Luke: Trust me. I am a far cry from my father.
Kate: (dryly) Oh, I know. He was actually useful.

(Alice sits on a swing, regarding Kate.)
Alice: Well, look who finally figured it out.
Kate: Are you my sister?
Alice:  Mmm. Who in the world am I? Now that is the great puzzle, isn't it?
Kate: Did you know I was gonna have your knife tested for DNA?
Alice:  You had my knife? (laughs) And here I've been going around using this charmless contraption. (idly plays with a butterfly knife)
Kate: You didn't have your guys jump me?
Alice: Jump you? Kate, we're sisters.
Kate: Prove it. Let me test your DNA before the Crows kill you.
Alice: I already proved it. I'm here. I knew the password, "Waffles." Our favorite spot. We used to come here after school on Fridays and gorge our faces in chocolate-covered garbage. How else would I know that? (pauses) Unless... oh, dear. Did the press mention that you and Beth used to come here as part of your silly, little tradition, and did I read an old article online?

Alice (V/O): It may have taken you years, sweet, darling Kate, but you found me eventually Even if I'm not the girl you expected me to be. I had my secrets just as you have yours, but do be careful, my dear sister. Putting on that suit and all the darkness that comes with it makes you just as crazy as me.


Continuity

This episode opens four days after the events of 101.

According to Kate, practically everyone in Gotham was searching for Beth the day after she disappeared. Eventually it was just her and her father... then just her.

Kate tells Jacob about her theory that Alice is Beth. She also shows him the knife with the garnet stone in it that matches the one from her necklace.

Jacob insists Beth is dead because fragments of her skull were found at Miller Farm.

Alice breaks into the house she grew up in and kills the elderly couple that lives there now. The address of the house is 1472 Norman Drive.
Read more: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=batwoman-2019&episode=s01e02.

Kate approaches Sophie for help in scanning the knife she took from Alice for a DNA sample.

Kate and Sophie are attacked by men in Wonderland Gang masks, who take Alice's knife back.

Kate asks how they knew she had the knife in the first place, but this question is largely ignored.

Kate determines that one of Mary's patients works for Alice and that she fought him as Batwoman the night before. She uses him to deliver a one-word message to Alice - "Waffles."

Kate tells Sophie about her plan to lure Alice out and prove that she is Beth, asking her to stall The Crows for a few hours. Instead, Sophie betrays her trust and tells Jacob Kane about what Kate is doing.

Kate blamed herself for Beth's disappearance, because she got out of the car while Beth climbed into the front seat to check on their mother before their car fell off the bridge.

Alice tries to make Kate uncertain whether or not she really is Beth, saying that she might have read an article which spoke about Kate and Beth's Friday habits.

Alice cuts herself to give Kate a DNA sample, just before The Crows show up.

Alice seems to feel honestly betrayed that The Crows showed up to what Kate said would be a secret meeting.

Dodgson attempts to kill Mary in her secret clinic. Kate shows up to save her as Batwoman.

Someone bombs the transport taking Alice to Arkham Asylum.

Kate frees Alice from the transport she was trapped in, but is knocked out after The Crows throw something explosive in between her and Alice.

Kate is revived before The Crows find her thanks to Luke triggering the defibrillator in her suit.

Mary doesn't tell Jacob about Dodgson attacking her or that Kate told her about her plan to track down Alice and prove she was Beth. This shows that, ironically, Mary was more worthy of trust than Sophie, whom Kate thought she could trust.

Jacob Kane threatens to have Kate arrested for aiding and abetting if she doesn't drop the idea that Alice is Beth.

It is revealed that the information that Beth's skull fragments were found at Miller Farm came from investigators employed by Catherine Hamilton.

Catherine Hamilton is revealed to be behind the attack on Sophie and Kate. Presumably she was also responsible for the bomb that nearly killed Alice.


The Bottom Line


Another solid episode which thickens the plot and adds further depth to the core cast. The heel-turn with Catherine Hamilton is perhaps not as surprising as it might have been once (Every CW Arrowverse show has had a mentor be revealed to be someone they weren't at this point.) but the acting is believable and the story well paced.

Starman Plays Fallout - Part 29

In which we finally retrieve the books Miles the Chemist needs, after much backtracking as I try to remember where I accidentally sold the damn things. We also pay a largely pointless visit to the Followers of the Apocalypse, before acquiring the best armor in the game.


The Flash Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 1 - Into The Void

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



Plot

As Barry and Iris cope with the loss of their daughter, Nora, Team Flash faces their most dangerous threat yet, as small black holes begin opening up all around Central City. Meanwhile, Killer Frost has a brush with death that may forever change her relationship with Caitlin Snow and a new villain is born.


Influences

The 1980 Flash Gordon movie (music and the black hole sequence) and The Flash comics of Mike Baron (character of Chester P. Runk) and Joshua Williamson (character of Ramsey Rosso/Bloodwork)


Goofs

How did Godspeed get to the past when he can't run faster than sound, according to Cisco?

Iris lies about why she was at the junkyard for no good reason. Surely Barry of all people would understand her wanting to save the jacket she eventually gave to their daughter in the future? Besides, that, this sets up a major plot convenience as Iris starts investigating junkyard robberies to hide her lie and stumbles across the story of Chester P. Runk.

How does Ralph know about Superman's Fortress of Solitude? (Maybe Barry told him about it after the events of Elseworlds?)

Team Flash shouldn't be surprised they don't hear from Barry while he's inside the black hole, given that the radio signals (or whatever they use to let Barry hear them when he's moving faster than sound) wouldn't be able to escape the pull of the black hole.


Performances

It must be noted again what a fantastic job Danielle Panabaker does in playing off herself and in having made Killer Frost and Caitlin into two distinct characters with different body language, even ignoring their different physical traits.


Artistry

The entire sequence where Barry enters the black hole is brilliant, stylistically made to resemble the slow-motion fight scenes from Flash Gordon.


Flash Facts

The title of the episode is taken from a line in the 1980 Flash Gordon movie - "Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here."

As the episode opens, Ralph is out of town, tracking a missing woman named Sue Dearbon. This is the maiden name of Sue Dibny, aka Mrs. Elongated Man in the comics.

Chester P. Runk first appeared in The Flash #9 in February 1988 and was created by Mike Baron and Jackson Guice. A morbidly obese but brilliant cosmologist, Runk felt isolated from the world and grew to hate the popular people around him. After earning a full scholarship to MIT, Runk developed a matter-transfer machine. While testing the device, intending to teleport himself across the city, the machine imploded and wound up inside of Runk, somehow bonding with him.

This gave Runk the ability to create a controllable black hole, but he had to keep feeding dense materials into the hole to prevent it from devouring him. This brought him into conflict with the Wally West version of The Flash, whom Runk sucked into the black hole along with several other people who annoyed him. This led to the discovery that Runk's black hole led into an otherwise empty universe. After convincing Runk to let him and the other people trapped in his universe go, Wally helped Runk to find a positive use for his power, starting a legal business to dispose of garbage, toxic waste and other things people wanted to disappear forever. Runk and West became friends and lived together for a time after Runk became wealthy enough to buy himself a mansion.

The Arrowverse version of Chester P. Runk is not morbidly obese, but is a brilliant scientist who hosts a show about science on a Twitch-style streaming network. Building his own equipment out of abandoned gear he finds in a junkyard, he develops a controllable black hole in his final episode. As in the comics, the black hole bonds with Chester and his conscious mind causes it to manifest in places that are important to him until Team Flash helps reunite Chester's mind and body.

Ramsey Rosso first appeared in The Flash #29 in October 2017 and was created by Joshua Williamson, Pop Mahn and Christian Duce. Born with severe hemophilia that limited his ability to play as a child, Rosso was brilliant but his inability to survive in the world limited his academic pursuits so that he eventually took a job with the Central City morgue. It was here that he began researching a cure for hemophilia, using blood samples from metahumans that were taken as evidence. Rosso developed a formula that gave him a number of superpowers relating to controlling the flow of blood.

As Bloodwork, Rosso is capable of transforming his entire body into a living flow of blood. He can constrict or enhance the flow of blood in others' bodies, causing it to congeal or burn instantly. He also claimed to be invulnerable and did appear to be resistant to cutting implements. The Flash was able to stop him, however, by shocking him with a controlled lightning blast. His chief weakness is that his powers are tied to his own heart-rate and he loses control the more agitated he becomes, transforming into a hulking monster with little sense of reason if he becomes too worked up.

The Arrowverse version of Ramsey Rosso is a research oncologist rather than a coroner. An old friend of Caitlin Snow's from medical school, nothing is said about him being a hemophiliac in this episode. Instead, he is motivated by the death of his mother to cancer and her acceptance of death as inevitable. While we do not see the results of his experiments to create a cure for her type of cancer in this episode, it is clear that he will become this universe's version of Bloodwork.

When Ralph returns to STAR Labs, he reveals that he just came from Opal City. In the comics, Ralph and Sue Dibny eventually settled in Opal City to become that city's protectors after the 7th Starman Jack Knight elected to retire from being a superhero.

Joe retrieves a theft report from the Leawood and New Brighton junkyard for Iris. Leawood and New Brighton are the names of districts in Central City in the comics.

Ralph makes reference to Superman's Fortress of Solitude, when he calls Killer Frost out on isolating herself in a "Snow-tress of Solitude."

The music Cisco plays as Barry enters into the black hole is Flash's Theme by Queen. As Cisco notes, this has never been more appropriate as the plot of the Flash Gordon movie saw Flash Gordon travel into a black hole and another universe.


Technobabble

Cisco is working on building a Mental Augmentation Chamber (i.e. The MAC) which will allow Barry to tap into the Speed Force to boost his cognitive abilities. This would allow him to see every possible outcome to a scenario at the same time, effectively allowing him to "speed-think" even faster than he can now.

Cisco says that the junkyard where the black hole first manifested is awash with gamma rays and magnetar fields.

Rachel Rosso is said to have HLH - Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocystosis. HLH is a rare disease, sometimes acquired by cancer patients. There are two types of HLH: familial and acquired. Familial HLH accounts for about 25% of cases and the condition is passed from parent to child. HLH causes certain kinds of white blood cells to attack other blood cells, resulting in the body slowly failing as it destroys itself. Ramsey claims the median survival rate after diagnosis is 2-6 months.

Chester P. Runk builds a gravitational wave emitter powered by a modulated neutrino charge in his lab. It is this device that allows him to create a small black hole.

Cisco creates an inverse mass angular momentum disruptor - i.e. the stellar grenade. He believes it can be used to collapse a small black hole safely, making it implode by reversing the mass-collecting properties of the black hole.

Normally, stimuli enters the brain through the sensory area, goes up to the temporal lobe, and then back around through the rest of the brain. In Chester's brain, the impulses start in the right area, but halfway through their rotation they just vanish, becoming an energy pulse of negative ionic energy inside the black hole. A negative ionic energy map Cisco makes of the black hole shows this pulse moving halfway around the black hole. This proves that the energy pulse is Chester's conscious mind.

Since Chester's synaptic energy has a negative charge, Barry theorizes he can use the positive charge of the lightning he generates as The Flash to act as a magnet and attract Chester's mind to him.

Containing the energy of a human mind requires the superconductive wiring and filaments from a quantum computer. Cisco retrieves this from Nora's spare gauntlet and threads it into Barry's costume, so that he can retrieve Chester's mind from the black hole.

According to Barry, The Speed Force is a billion times stronger than any gravimetric force. This may not be a precise measurement, but it is strong enough to allow Barry to run into a black hole without being crushed to death instantly.

The structural integrity of The MAC is such that it can be used to contain synaptic energy, making it a handy container for rejoining Chester P. Runk's mind and body.

Chester has to remain inside The MAC for 4-6 weeks for his molecules to restabilize at the subatomic level.


Dialogue Triumphs

Ralph: Having Caitlin's memories isn't the same as having your own.
Killer Frost: Like you'd know anything about that.
Ralph: I know it sucked sitting cour-tside for "The Thinker Show" when he hijacked my body, and I think that you've been going through something similar since Thomas died. And after being at that funeral, seeing that woman live the last days of her life to the fullest, I think that made you want want to start living your best life right now.
Killer Frost: (sharply) That's not my gig! Okay? (quieter) I fight the bad guys, keep Caiti safe, and then go back in my cage. I just have to deal with it.
Ralph: Have you thought to ask Caitlin how she feels?
Killer Frost: What's she gonna say? "Go ahead, Frost, take the wheel." (scoffs)
Ralph: There's only one way to find out.

(Barry begins running around the black hole, picking up speed.)
Cisco: I've been saving this for the right moment - since day one.
(Cisco hits the space key on his keyboard. Flash's Theme from Flash Gordon begins blaring through STAR Labs' sound system.)
Iris: (rolling her eyes) Really, Cisco?
Cisco: The guy is running in and out of a black hole!
(There is a long pause as Iris considers this.)
Iris: Good point.

(The Monitor appears before Iris and Barry.)
Barry: What do you want?
The Monitor: For your universe to survive.
Iris: The plinth you destroyed it. You destroyed Nora's message.
The Monitor: An unfortunate side effect. But I needed to discourage you.
Barry: From doing what?
The Monitor: Hoping. Your determination is boundless, Flash. It is one of your greatest qualities but you cannot avoid the coming Crisis.
Iris: Barry has five years before he vanishes.
The Monitor: No longer. December 10, 2019. On that day, he will answer the call and make the ultimate sacrifice. Soon this world will fight for the fate of all the known universes.
Barry: I'm not gonna leave my family. There has to be a way to stop what's coming.
The Monitor: I am sorry, but events have been set into motion that you cannot possibly comprehend.
Barry: I don't need to understand them! Just tell me what I can do.
The Monitor: To survive? You can't. In order for billions to survive this coming Crisis, the Flash must die.


Dialogue Disasters

Cecile: Baby Jenna is napping like a little angel and I have creamed corn, I have candied yams, I have collard greens. Baby, let's eat! (The delivery of this line is just indescribable and mere text cannot do justice to how badly Cecile tries to sound cool while saying it.)


Continuity

Apart from the opening scene, which takes place immediately after the ending of 522, this episode takes place four months after the Season 5 finale.

The final message Nora left for Iris and Barry seemingly causes a power surge at STAR Labs that seems to short out Gideon and destroys the data drive the message was saved on. This is presumably a side-effect of the paradox of Nora's existence being resolved, but is later revealed to be the work of The Monitor.

Godspeed, last seen in 518, makes an appearance. In the four months since Nora's death, Godspeed has apparently traveled back in time and begun plaguing Central City.

The Godspeed Barry catches is the fourth one Team Flash has stopped in the past four months. None of them have been the real August Heart. All of them have been unable to speak except in odd electronic-sounding noises, which Cisco calls "modem speak."

The Central City Citizen has a couple of hundred-thousand subscribers.

Ralph is a vegetarian.

Ralph is still out of town, tracking a missing woman named Sue Dearbon. He is either in Peru, Monaco or Texas.

Barry has become a workaholic over the past few months and is anxious to test the Mental Augmentation Chamber Cisco is working on.

Barry leaves the party early to investigate a break-in at Eastside Industrial.

Iris leaves the party to take a call, after asking Joe what happened to several old boxes she kept in his garage.

Caitlin leaves the party early to go to the funeral of one of her old teachers, Dr. Rachel Rosso. She was one of Caitlin's mentors in medical school, who reportedly saw a lot of herself in Caitlin, as they were both overachievers.

Dr. Rachel Rosso had a son, Ramsey Rosso, who is also a medical doctor, specializing in oncology.

At the funeral, Ramsey describes his mother as having always pushed him to keep going no matter what pain he experienced, telling a story about her helping him get back on his bike after he fell and hurt himself. This story is later revealed to be a lie and Ramsey was truly disgusted with his mother's acceptance of her cancer diagnosis as untreatable.

Iris goes to a junkyard in search of the boxes Joe threw out. She retrieves the purple jacket she wore when she had speed powers in 416, which would eventually be given to Nora and become part of her XS costume.

While Iris is at the junk yard, she is nearly swallowed by a mysterious black hole.

Iris lies about why she was at the junkyard, saying that she was following up a tip on a series of junkyard robberies.

The data Cisco retrieves from the first black hole site results in more data than anyone has ever acquired about black holes before.

Ralph returns wearing a tux, saying that he just came from Opal City, where he was working undercover among the wealthy elites all summer.

Ralph apparently agreed to take the case to find the missing Sue Dearbon after her parents begged him to take it when every other private investigator said it was hopeless. Ralph says he took the case because they looked so sad and desperate. In a reflection of how Ralph's character has changed in the past years, the fact that they're ludicrous wealthy and paying all his expenses does not come up.

Caitlin has been having random "frost outs" with her powers suddenly flaring up all summer. She had two in the days following Rachel Rosso's funeral.

Iris eventually does go investigating reports of thefts at the junkyard to see if there's a connection to the black hole that nearly ate her.

Caitlin likes her lattes with a bit of cinnamon. According to Ramsey, this is the same way his mother liked them.

Caitlin credits a letter of recommendation from Dr. Rachel Rosso for getting her a job with STAR Labs.

Ramsey said that his mother developed HLH as a result of her cancer and her blood literally boiled her insides to death. This inspired him to start working on a cure for the condition.

Ramsey did develop a cure for HLH, but it requires dark matter as a bonding agent. He asks Caitlin to help him get the dark matter he needs for a trial but Caitlin refuses, saying his process could turn people into metahumans against their will.

A second black hole opens at C.C. Jitters. Barry just stops Caitlin from being sucked into it as The Flash.

Iris discovers the connection between the two black holes, finding that the one person arrested for stealing from a junkyard who didn't fit the profile of a thief was a man named Chester P. Runk, who has a science show on-line.

In his last show before being hospitalized in a catatonic state, Chester apparently (and accidentally) created a small black hole in his lab.

Chester has a crush on a waitress named Natalie, who works at C.C. Jitters.

Caitlin says the last time Killer Frost refused to take over her body and her powers went wonky was right after her father's death in 519.

Ralph theorizes that Killer Frost is afraid of dying in the wake of so much recent death, having never really had the life experience to cushion the blow of the revelation that she is mortal and won't live forever like Caitlin has.

Ramsey acquires a black market dark-matter gun from an illegal weapons dealer.

Iris finally tells Cecile about how she was at the junkyard trying to get her jacket back.

Iris realizes that the throbbing of the black hole's corona corresponds to the beat the catatonic Chester is drumming out.

Ralph gets Killer Frost to emerge by faking an emergency in STAR Labs' reactor.

Ralph changes his assessment, guessing that Killer Frost wants a life of her own outside of being Caitlin's alter ego.

Caitlin led her debate team in high-school to back-to-back championships.

Barry admits that he's been throwing himself into his work the past four months to avoid having to think about Nora's death.

Cecile is able to bench her own body-weight and is able to carry Chester into The MAC by herself.

Cisco has been saving Flash's Theme from Flash Gordon to play for the perfect occasion. He decides that Barry going into a black hole is that occasion.

Barry is able to enter into the black hole and retrieve Chester's mind.

Chester's mind is restored but his eyes now glow with orange energy.

Chester has to remain inside The MAC for 4-6 weeks. Thankfully, he is more than happy to hang around STAR Labs in the meantime. He plans to ask Natalie out as soon as he can.'

Caitlin agrees to let Killer Frost take over their body and live her own life outside of being a superhero.

Ralph takes up the job of Killer Frost's life coach. He has a newly written Book Of Ralph Vol. 2.

Ralph suggests Killer Frost pick a new name for herself. He suggests Anne, which is the middle name of his mother.

Ramsey Rosso is revealed to have 99% of the cancer markers his mother did, suggesting the real reason he is so desperate to find a cure. He injects himself with his cure and it does seem to start removing the cancer markers from his DNA. It also causes his arm to become coated with some kind of black liquid, which causes him to scream.

Barry sets up a display case in the Time Vault to hold Nora's jacket.

The Monitor appears to Barry and Iris and tells them that the date of Barry's disappearance has ben pushed up to December 10, 2019. He also says that for the multiverse to be saved, Barry must die and this fate cannot be avoided. 


Untelevised Adventures

August Heart (aka Godspeed) apparently traveled back in time at some point in the past four months and began causing damage around Central City. He has also apparently been giving super-speed to other people, having created four decoys under his control, who are incapable of speech.


The Bottom Line

A solid season opener, mainly sold by the fantastic Flash Gordon sequence and the chilling tie-in to Crisis at the end. The subplots are being set-up but Bloodwork is a largely underwhelming big-bad in the face of what we know this season is building toward. Still, a good start overall.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Starman Plays Fallout - Part 28

In which we go back to the Deathclaw Breeding Grounds and successfully speak to the Gun Runners without teleporting into a Deathclaw orgy afterwards. We also speak with Blades and discover that - shockingly - the work camp full of armed guards who keep telling us we're being watched are NOT good guys! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Starman Plays Fallout - Part 27

In which we start to explore the Boneyard and the happy, peaceful society they have which has nothing bad whatsoever about it... so long as you don't mind guys in metal armor warning you that they're watching your every move.

We then make our way through the Deathclaw breeding grounds to make our way to the Gun Runners... only to wind up in the center of a Deathclaw orgy when we try and head back...


Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 1 - The Book of the Occupation: Chapter One: Birth Of Blackbird

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



Plot

It's been roughly one month since Freeland was placed under martial law and the ASA began separating potential metahumans from their families and locking them up in make-shift facilities. The community is in turmoil and Black Lightning is missing and presumed dead. Thankfully, a new hero has arisen to rescue the captured metahumans and deliver them to safety - Blackbird.

Meanwhile, Jefferson Pierce is in custody as part of a deal to protect his wife and daughters, but Agent Odell is altering the deal, even as Jefferson discovers that his powers seem to be changing as well... and that Tobias Whale is also in the clutches of the ASA.


Influences

The facilities used to hold suspected metahuman children and the controversy surrounding their treatment is clearly modeled on the US Government facilities used to cage the children of refugees seeking asylum. Likewise, Blackbird's efforts to sneak metahuman kids and their parents out of Freeland mirror the Underground Railroad.


Goofs

Given how easily Agent Odell figured out who Black Lightning was and how much authority he has in Freeland now relative to last month, it's a little unbelievable he hasn't figured out Anissa is Blackbird.

Has anyone noticed Jefferson Pierce and Lynn Stewart's disappearance?


Trivia

The episode title cards are now backed by fully colored comic book artwork.

The metahuman who attacks the camp for metahuman teens while Reverend Hold and Anissa are touring it was named Ned Creegan, but he refers to himself as the Cyclotronic Man. He is said to have the power to disintegrate things but is also seen making protective shields of ionized air. He is killed by Commander Carson Williams.

In the comics, Ned Creegan was a career criminal who gained powers after being exposed to radioactive material. First appearing in Batman #195 in 1967, Creegan had the ability to release blasts of focused energy, both electrical, magnetic and radioactive but could also create force fields. He was also able to disintegrate objects by accelerating the radiation around them and hastening their decay. Creegan used many villain names, including Bag O'Bones, The Cyclotronic Man and One Man Meltdown. He died in a battle with Batman and the Outsiders.


Technobabble

Gambi created a special Alexa-style AI assistant for Anissa named Shonda. Shonda runs the electronics in Anissa's new apartment and her new van. 

Anissa's new apartment also has a hidden lair behind her closet, which is revealed by Anissa saying the phrase "Mirror Mirror."

Gambi also made a cloaking device for Jennifer that allows her to look like someone else. When Jennifer sneaks out wearing the device, she makes herself look like an Asian teenage girl.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Lynn and Jeff are getting romantic. Suddenly, they notice Agent Odell sitting on the far side of the room from them.)
Agent Odell: Sorry to interrupt.
Jefferson: What the hell is your problem?
Agent Odell: There was a Markovian attack on one of our facilities today. They sent in a strike team and a meta to try to take the children.
Jefferson: Well, sounds like a personal problem to me.
Agent Odell: Not really, Mr. Pierce. There is a clear and present Markovian threat, and until that is eliminated, we cannot allow you to leave. Or you, Dr. Stewart.
Lynn: What?
Jefferson: Whoa, law, you don't get to say a damn thing about what my wife can do.
Agent Odell: The only person more valuable than Black Lightning at this point in time is your wife. They already have Dr. Jace. So consider this protective custody for your good and the greater good of the country.
Jefferson: Agent Odell, now I only came here because we agreed that my girls, my wife, would be left alone.
Agent Odell: And you made the best decision for you and your family.
Jefferson: Yeah, well, my patience is running thin. Believe me, you don't want to see me when I lose my patience.
Agent Odell: I would like to see that. Just not now.

(Agent Odell enters into Issa Williams' cell. Issa looks up from the video game he's playing and the take-out he's eating.)
Issa: You're gonna kill me.
Agent Odell: So you can read minds now?
Issa: No. Snakes bite.
Agent Odell: (nodding) A lot of wisdom for a kid like you.
Issa: I stopped being a kid as soon as I got these powers.
Agent Odell: Wish I had a choice. Your powers are simple but devastating. And the truth is so rare. And so dangerous.
(Agent Odell shakes his head and stands to leave. Issa is confused.)
Issa: I thought you came to kill me?
Agent Odell: I did.
(Issa looks down at the food he's been eating and freezes up in realization.)  


Continuity

One of the imprisoned metahuman teens is Maryam Luqman - a black Muslim who developed the power to blend into any environment and go unnoticed. She developed powers after some of the kids at her school put Green Light into her food and was kicked out of school for using drugs before the truth could be revealed.

Another one of the imprisoned people is Devonte Jones, who denies having any superpowers. He does, however, have Type II Diabetes and hypertension.

Jefferson's birthday is September 12, 1974. In Western astrology, this makes him a Virgo. People born on September 12 are said to be reserved and sensitive, preferring to avoid the spotlight. They also strive to establish stability and go out of their way to give to those who have less. This seems an accurate assessment of Jefferson's character.

The pod children are said to have escaped 37 days earlier. Most of them have not been recovered.

The facility holding the meta-teens in Freeland is keeping the kids in cages. Anissa and Reverend Holt are allowed to tour the facility to make sure the kids are being treated properly. Unfortunately, there is little they can do as the facility is following the law to the letter.

A metahuman formerly employed as a soldier by the ASA attacks the holding facility while Anissa and Reverend Holt are touring it. He says his name is Ned Creegan but he calls himself Cyclotronic. He is killed by Commander Williams.

Commander Carson Williams is the leader of the ASA forces in Freeland. He is also a metahuman, with the power to copy the abilities of any metahuman in his immediate vicinity. He has a condition like sickle cell anemia unique to metahumans and requires a special serum only the ASA has to stay healthy.

Deputy Chief Henderson refuses to act as the mouth-piece for the ASA and make it look like the cops are supporting them. He then takes a swing at Commander Williams and is beaten up for his trouble.

Jefferson made a deal with Agent Odell that he would be taken into custody and let the ASA test him for 31 days provided his wife and daughters were left alone. Now Lynn is being into taken custody along with him and he isn't being release. As a show of good faith, however, Agent Odell does deactivate the power inhibitor collar Jefferson was forced to wear.

An 8:30 PM curfew is imposed on Freeland.

Gambi is assisting Anissa in leading a resistance against the ASA in Freeland and is trying to find a hole in the fence they established around the city that can detect metahumans trying to get out.

Reverend Holt is part of the resistance and is housing the rogue metahumans and their families in his church.

Gambi finds video and audio footage of two ASA agents who were killed and eaten by a metahuman who changed into a Leopard. Anissa dentifies the metahuman as Grace.

Anissa sleeps with Jamillah Olsen, a reporter for Clap Back News.

Jamillah interviews Reverend Holt about the situation in Freeland and Blackbird.

Jennifer has been sneaking out using a cloaking device Gambi made for her, just to hang out in public and do normal teenager things.

Jennifer tells Anissa that it physically hurts her not to unleash the power in her body and she was also sneaking out to vent. She says she can also feel her power level growing.

Jefferson has developed a form of X-Ray vision that allows him to see things based on the electrical impulses they generate. Using this he discovers that Tobias Whale and Issa Williams (aka Body Bag Boy) are being held on the floor below him.

Tobias Whale is visibly older. Without the serum from The 100 to keep him young, old age is catching up with him.

Agent Odell uses Issa to learn the location of the briefcase from Tobias Whale.

Tobias reveals that Agent Odell's agenda in Freeland is to capture and recruit all the metahumans on behalf of the US government. He also reveals that Martin Proctor wasn't a rogue ASA agent - he was always intended to be a scapegoat for Agent Odell's plan.

Agent Odell kills Issa because he knows too much. Lynn is allowed to examine the body.

Anissa leads the Metahuman families out of Freeland through the hole in the fence Gambi found, but they are attacked by ASA agents. Anissa becomes trapped outside of Freeland after being sent flying through the hole before it seals itself shut.

Jennifer and Gambi decide to wait a day to see if they hear from Anissa before making a move.


The Bottom Line

It's a bold choice opening the season with our title character imprisoned and it works about as well here as it did when Arrow did it last year, i.e. Not At All. The series' story changed to make a statement about recent political events in the United States and its all a bit hamfisted, with most of the episode's action devoted to a villain who is killed instantly and our heroes stuck on the sidelines doing nothing. Not a great start, all in all.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 1 - Event Horizon

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




Plot

It has been one month since Lena learned Kara's secret identity and she is out for revenge against everyone who lied to her. Selling CatCo Worldwide Media to a fellow tech magnate who considers Pulitzer Prize winning journalism to be a detriment is only the first step in a plan to hurt Kara the same way she hurt Lena.

As James copes with his sudden demotion from Editor In Chief, Kelly and Alex and Nia and Brainy settle into to their newfound romantic relationships. And the team faces an alien shape-shifter with a grudge against J'onn, who is able to summon another of J'onn's old enemies from The Phantom Zone.


Influences

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (subplot involving a new owner more concerned with hype than real journalism), the Rebirth Superwoman series (character of M1dn1ght)  and the Martian Manhunter comics of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake.


Goofs

J'onn says he would be able to sense if the alien telepath menacing them were a White Martian. Why can't he sense that it's a Green Martian? (Presumably this has something to do with the psychic attack Malefic unleashes when John gets close?)

Where does Kara keep her glasses in her new costume when she isn't wearing them?

How DO Brainy, Dreamer and Guardian change into costume and get to Midnight before Alex can run there in heels?


Performances

Both Melissa Benoist and Katie McGrath sell the hell out of their respective speeches about the value of their friendship.


Artistry

The special effects work for Kara's new Super-Suit is of cinematic quality.


Super Trivia

The Supergirl log in this episode slowly pixelates into view, much like Kara's new Super-Suit.

It is revealed that Lena uses virtual-reality to run simulations where she can kill Supergirl as a means of stress relief. Lex Luthor did something similar in the Superman: Doomsday animated movie, but Lex created imperfect clones of Superman.

The plotline of a new owner pushing a news organization to hype scandal over real news was also a major part of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.

Andrea Rojas is based on a Mexican superhero from the Superman comics. First appearing in Superman Annual #12, Andrea Rojas was Acrata and had the power to teleport through shadows thanks to her possession of an ancient Mayan symbol. She was also a talented martial artist and detective, who was said to be the Batman of Mexico City, though she did not work with the local authorities and indeed had a deep disrespect for them. She was also the daughter of a former politician, who became a professor of pre-Hispanic cultures at the University of Metropolis campus in Mexico City.

The Arrowverse version of Andrea Rojas has not yet shown any signs of having superpowers. Far from an anti-authority rebel, she is a scion to a large tech company and has just taken over the Obsidian North operation, which oversees all the virtual and augmented reality aspects of Obsidian's business. She also now owns CatCo Worldwide Media and has made herself Editor In Chief of the magazine, ousting James Olsen.

Midnight is based on a character from the Superwoman comics called M1dn1ght. First appearing in Superwoman #15, M1dn1ght was a computer code created by Lena Luthor that was meant to free her should she ever become trapped in an extra-dimensional prison. With this accomplished, M1dn1ght began to wonder if she could justify her existence having accomplished her one purpose in existence. This spurred her to create her own body from the virtual world of code (i.e. The Void)  and enter the physical world. Still programmed to obey Lena Luthor, M1dn1ght sought to free herself by bonding with Superwoman and taking over her body.

Brainy makes mention of an alien race called the Farfarmniflatch.  Monstergirl, from the comic Young Heroes In Love, was a Farfarmniflatch. All Farfarmniflatches have the power to shape-shift.

Brainy also mentions the poisonous prison pits of Takron-Galtos. In the classic DC Comics universe, Takron-Galtos is a planet that was transformed into a maximum security prison for the worst criminals in existence. It exists in the 20th century and is still around during the time of the Legion of Superheroes.

The Arrowverse version of Midnight is said to be an alien of unknown origins who joined with the White Martians in their war on the Green Martians, caring nothing for their politics - only wanting a chance to kill as many beings as possible. J'onn says that her powers were fueled by death and he cannot remember how he defeated her, though she blames him for trapping her in the Phantom Zone.

Both versions of Midnight have the ability to create energy-voids that destroy whatever they touch. With enough focus, they can both create small black holes capable of crushing anything. They can also create portals that allow them to teleport through space.

While not yet identified by name, the Green Martian who claims to be J'onn's brother is identified in the credits as Malefic J'onzz. First appearing in Martian Manhunter #0 in 1998, it was revealed that Malefic was responsible for killing the Green Martian race, having created a psychic plague that killed anyone who used their telepathy to commune with the Martian Great Mind. Malefic was spared this, having been born without telepathy, or so he thought. In truth, Malefic was stripped of his telepathy as punishment for attempting to psychically rape his sister-in-law and had all memory of his crimes erased.

The Arrowverse version of Malefic has a similar hatred of his brother, but also hates their father for reasons that have yet to be explained. Malefic seems to possess telepathic powers, inflicting a psychic paralysis on J'onn unlike anything he had ever felt before.


Technobabble


Lena has created an artificial intelligence she has named Hope, who offers "assistance without ambition, drama or ego."

Obsidian North is beta-testing a line of augmented reality contact lenses which makes the wearer's eyes glow silver.

Kelly Olsen's new job with Obsidian North involves using their virtual reality technology to treat patients with dementia and PTSD.

Kryptonian spacecraft use anti-matter to propel themselves. The engine from even a small one, like the rocket that carried Superman to Earth as a baby, can be transformed into a bomb with the proper resources and knowledge. Such a bomb could destroy three whole solar systems.

One of Obsidian North's VR projects is a virtual gym that allows the user to work out in several exotic environments.

A Kryptonian anti-matter engine could also be used to build a make-shift Phantom Zone projector.

Rather than just repair Kara's cape, Brainy creates a microscopic motion activator, which he attaches to her glasses. From now on, the act of hurriedly jerking her glasses off will activate a stream of nanites that will build a costume around Kara. The new costume has pants and can be dissolved by Kara putting her glasses back on.


Dialogue Triumphs

(After Kara and Alex are less than helpful in settling their argument over the greatest villain in movie history.)
Nia: Well, I guess you'll just have to accept that I'm right.
Brainy: Hmm. This Earth custom that the girlfriend is always right is illogical and frustrating, but I can assimilate.

Brainy: This is no time for sarcasm, however dry or well-crafted!

Kara: Lena. What are you doing back here?
Lena: Okay, you caught me. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I'm the one who's gonna introduce you. I couldn't miss an opportunity to tell the world how wonderful you are.
Kara: No, no, I Lena, I can't let you do this, I don't deserve it.
Lena: Are you kidding me? Me more than anyone knows how much you deserve it. I saw how you risked your life to expose Lex's crimes-
Kara: I'm Supergirl.
(Lena looks uncharacterisically surprised. Kara takes off her glasses, her breath quickening, clearly holding back the tears.)
Kara: I've always been Supergirl. I should've told you so long ago, I know that. But I just kept making excuses because you've been hurt so many times and... I convinced myself that I was protecting you. And then one day, you were so angry with me... with, with Supergirl. But you still loved Kara. I just kept thinking... if I could be Kara, just Kara... that I could keep you as a friend. (Kara sighs.)
Kara:I was selfish and scared, and I didn't wanna lose you, so I kept pretending, and I never stopped.
(Kara sniffles and is on the verge of tears.)
Kara: Every time I kept my secret from you, I wasn't... protecting you, I was hurting you, just like everyone else, and I am so, so sorry.
Kara: (softer) I am so sorry.
(Lena just stares at Kara.)
Kara: Please say something
(Lena's lips part, but before she can speak...)
Usher: Ms. Luthor? You're on in two minutes.
Kara: Lena...?
(Lena walks away, leaving Kara to start crying.)

Lena: The world is full of liars. People who hide things from us. People who manipulate and control us. I should know. Some of the best liars in the world are members of my own family. But in my life, there was someone who always reminded me that truth was the better way. And she is the person we are here tonight to celebrate. Kara Danvers.
(The crowd applauds.)
Lena: The truth isn't easy. It's certainly not for the faint of heart. But it is something that Kara, as a journalist, has pursued relentlessly every day. And because she's so good at it, she makes it look easy. We sometimes forget that she's just like us. But forging a path to the truth isn't a piece of cake. It's more like climbing a mountain. It's arduous and painful at times, and, just like us, Kara can sometimes slip. But she always gets back up and pulls through in the end. And we're always better for her efforts. So, thank you, Kara, for reminding us that the truth is important. Even when it's not always easy to accept.

(Alex is the last to arrive in the room to confront Midnight, despite still being in her fancy dress. Dreamer, Brainy and Guardian are in full costume.)
Alex: How do you guys always change so fast?!

(Midnight begins making a black hole.)
Supergirl: Brainy, if I solar flare, can I shut that down?
Brainy: Gravitational power comes from the core. We'd have to go inside the void to do that. But why do things the hard way? J'onn?
(Brainy tosses J'onn a pair of power-inhibitor hand-cuffs.  J'onn phases through the crowd to get behind Midnight and places them around her wrists.)

(J'onn sees a little girl in his office.)
J'onn: Uh... Are you lost?
(The little girl turns around and speaks in a male voice.) 
Malefic: No, J'onn J'onzz. I'm exactly where I should be.
(Malefic's eyes glow green and he shifts into the form of a figure in a hooded black robe.)
J'onn: You're the shapeshifter that released Midnight. What do you want from me?
Malefic: To be punished for your crimes. You may have defeated Midnight, but I'll make sure you get what you deserve.
J'onn: Why? Who are you?
Malefic: Don't pretend you don't recognize me...
(Malefic lowers his hood, revealing himself to be a Green Martian.)
Malfeic:
...brother.
J'onn: (looking confused for a moment but the confusion gives way to anger) I have no brother!
Malefic: Lies! You and Father are more evil than even I knew, but justice will prevail. I will do to you as you did to me.
J'onn: (growling) You say you're my brother? Prove it!
(The two charge each other but there's an explosion of red and green light as they meet. The psychic backblast knocks them both back and J'onn passes out.)

Hope: The file was ready to upload. Why didn't you send it, exposing Supergirl's identity to the world? Did you forgive Kara Danvers?
Lena: She betrayed me. It broke my heart. I could never forgive her.
Hope: Then I don't understand.
Lena: How could you? You're not a Luthor. We're scorpions. When someone betrays us, we sting. But I have a calling, Hope, and it's to fix mankind. I never thought Supergirl would tell me who she was, but now that she has, I have an opportunity, and I can use Supergirl to achieve my ends. That is easier to do if she believes there is trust


Dialogue Disasters


Supergirl: Pants!


Continuity


The events of this episode take place roughly one month after 422.

Slattorians are a race of silver-eyed aliens whom J'onn recently discovered while working a case.

Kelly has started a new job with Obsidian North.

Obsidian North is housed in the same building as CatCo Worldwide Media.

Kelly and Alex are officially dating exclusively.

J'onn has started teaching a children's tai chi class in his spare time.

Kara still has not told Lena her secret identity.

The DEO is still trying to recapture all the metahuman prisoners Lex Luthor was holding at his Shelley Island facility.

Brainy believes the most evil villain in cinematic history is Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. Nia says that it is Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs.  Kara thinks it is Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. Alex thinks it is Hans Gruber from Die Hard.

Nia and Brainy have been dating for a month, but have yet to initiate any physical contact beyond a handshake.

Lena is revealed to have sold CatCo to Andrea Rojas - CEO of Obsidian North. Her first act is to demote James Olsen from Editor-In-Chief to take the job for herself, though she does plan to keep James on staff.

Lena went to the same boarding school as Andrea Rojas.

Lena claims to have sold CatCo because she needed capital for a new project. She sold the company for $1.3 billion.

Malefic was able to cause some kind of psychic paralysis in J'onn and is strong enough, in the form of a T-Rex, to rip Supergirl's cape.

Brainy offers to fix Supergirl's cape, noting that she requires it to maneuver properly when flying at high-speeds.

Obsidian's headquarters is based in Buenos Aires.

Andrea Rojas took over Obsidian North, which handles the augmented and virtual reality aspects of her father's business, after he elected to focus his efforts on space colonization.

Andrea's father apparently has a rivalry with Elon Musk, whom Andrea calls "Uncle Elon."

Andrea plans to have Obsidian technology in every household in the world within a year.

Lena's deal to sell CatCo had some very specific conditions. Lena did not want the sale announced until the same day as Kara's awards ceremony for her Pulitzer. She also promised Andrea an exclusive, world-shaking story that would be sent to her at 9 PM on the day the sale was announced. It becomes clear later that the story involved Kara being Supergirl and Lena was timing it so the news would break as Kara was accepting her award..

William Day is a renowned journalist, most recently employed by The Times of London. Andrea hires him to work for CatCo.

Andrea announces that CatCo will now be focused on getting hits over hard journalism. She specifically decries Pulitzer Prize winning articles as boring and notes that circulation went down after Kara's being honored with a Pulitzer was announced.

Somehow, Andrea got everyone currently employed at CatCo signed to three-year contracts, with non-competition clauses that will stop them from ever working for another news outlet if they quit the company before their contract expires.

The Green Martians apparently had access to the Phantom Zone. J'onn makes reference to sending Midnight there, but he has no memory of how they beat her down to manage it.

William Day rewrites Kara's articles, removing facts and making them shorter. Kara is not pleased by this and tells Andrea she will not stop trying to do real news, no matter how difficult she makes it.

Kara tells Lena that she is Supergirl, just after learning that Lena is introducing her at the Pulitzer ceremony.  This cause Lena to abort her plan to send Kara's secret identity to Andrea.

Alex is able to send Midnight back to the Phantom Zone using the make-shift projector.

Both Kara and J'onn are strong enough to briefly survive beyond the event horizon of a black hole.

James quits his job at CatCo, knowing no other media outlet will ever be able to hire him.

Kelly agrees with Alex that Hans Gruber from Die Hard is the best movie villain ever.

Brainy reveals the reason he's been avoiding physical contact with Nia is that after the events of 422 he's afraid to let his guard down and risk becoming the cold, emotionless being he became before. He also reveals the reason he thinks Miranda Priestly is the greatest movie villain is he fears becoming like her - uncaring and willing to betray those closest to her.

Malefic reveals himself as J'onn's brother but J'onn says he has no brother.

Kara gives Lena a signal watch so that she can call Supergirl if she ever needs her.

Lena tells Hope that she hasn't forgiven Kara for lying to her but that she can exploit their relationship to accomplish her goals to save humanity.


Eve Teschmacher, dressed in a waitress uniform, is jumped by someone at the end of the episode - presumably Leviathan agents.


The Bottom Line


A solid start to the season, though it does forget about the Leviathan subplot until the literal last second. Lena has been turned into a tragically sympathetic villain and Andrea Rojas is similarly wicked. The new status quo is set-up well, though there aren't that many drastic changes apart from the beginning of the end for Mehcad Brooks' time as Jimmy Olsen. Midnight is a bit underwhelming as a villain, but at lest she's defeated easily enough, though I get the feeling we'll be seeing more of her somehow. All in all, there's more good than bad here. And the new costume looks awesome, even if I do wonder where Kara keeps her glasses now.

Batwoman Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 1 - Pilot

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



Plot

When her first love is abducted by the supervillain known only as Alice, Kate Kane returns home to Gotham City after spending years traveling the globe training with various combat and survival experts in the hopes of earning a place in her father's private security company. When he still refuses to offer her a position among his soldiers, The Crows, Kate finds her own path after discovering that her cousin Bruce Wayne is Batman.


Influences

Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams.


Performances

Ruby Rose delivers a powerhouse performance as Kate Kane. As much of an impression as she made during Elseworlds, she seems even stronger here.


Artistry

The fight choreography is top-notch.


Bat Trivia

The character of Kate Kane first appeared in August 2006 in 52 #7. Her first appearance as Batwoman came four weeks later in 52 #11. She was created by writers Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid and writer/artist Keith Giffen, though Rucka is credited with writing most of her early appearances in the 52 mini-series.

Kate Kane based on an earlier character, Kathy Kane, who was introduced into the Batman comics in the 1950s as a love interest for Bruce Wayne, in order to throw off accusations of Batman and Robin presenting a relationship based on pedophilia and/or homosexuality. Ironically, it was decided that Kate Kane would be a lesbian, in order to add some diversity to the Batman comics.

The new Kate Kane was Bruce Wayne's first cousin on his mother's side. Kate hoped to follow in the footsteps of her father, US Army Colonel Jacob Kane, and enrolled in the US Military Academy at West Point. Unfortunately, Kate was discharged from The Academy after her romance with a fellow female Cadet was revealed to her commanding officer. While she was offered a chance to disavow the charge and let that be the end of it after facing a demotion in rank, Kate refused to violate the Honor Code by lying about being a lesbian rather than officially deny the charges that she had violated the Academy's policy against allowing lesbians to serve openly. Afterward, Jacob said that he was proud of Kate for refusing to lie and remaining true to herself.

Moving back to Gotham, Kate lived the life of a wealthy socialite and began dating police officer Rene Montoya. Their relationship ended because Rene refused to out herself, fearing that she would be abandoned by her devout Catholic parents and that it might cause trouble for her at work if it was known she was a lesbian.

An encounter with Batman inspired Kate to become a vigilante herself, after a mugger assailed Kate one night. Batman heard the sounds of conflict and arrived to discover Kate had subdued the mugger herself using her combat training. At first Kate fought crime using military equipment borrowed from her father. When her father discovered what she had been doing, rather than being angry, he sent Kate on a two-year journey around the world with some of his Special Forces friends to see Kate better trained for her chosen life. When she returned to Gotham, he gave her a custom-made Batwoman costume. It was not until later that the two learned of their blood relation to Batman.

The Arrowverse version of Kate Kane has a similar background, though the details are slightly different. Kate was discharged from a military academy other than West Point, but still refused to lie and violate the Honor Code after her romance with another Cadet, Sophie Moore. She traveled the world for several years training, but this was before she decided to become a vigilante. Perhaps most importantly, her father does not support her seeing combat and had planned to use his influence to get her a safe desk job after she graduated from The Academy.

In the original comics, Col. Jacob Kane was a career military man who acted as the Alfred to his daughter Kate's Batman, tending to her gear and providing her with intelligence via radio while she was in the field. Part of an elite squad known as The Murder of Crows, Kane also oversaw a secret US Army squadron known as The Colony, who were trained in the same skills exhibited by Batman to act as the ultimate anti-terrorist task force.

In the Arrowverse, Col. Kane runs a private security company that is utilized by Gotham City to augment the GCPD. Known as Crows Security, the company is renowned for only employing the best soldiers in the business.

Dougray Scott, who plays Jacob Kane, was the original choice to play Wolverine in the X-Men movies. An injury he acquired while riding his motorcycle forced him to leave the role, which eventually went to Hugh Jackman.

As in the comics, Jacob Kane's second wife is Catherine Hamilton. In the comics, she was heir to the Hamilton arms fortune. In the Arrowverse, she is a Gotham City Councilwoman but nothing has been said about her family's investments yet.

As in the comics, Catherine is the only person who addresses Kate as "Katie." As in the comics, Kate hates being called Katie.

The character of Mary Hamilton, Kate's stepsister, seems to be partly based on the character of Mary Elizabeth "Bette" Kane, who fought crime under the name Flamebird and harbored an obsessive crush on Dick "Robin" Grayson. She would later became Batwoman's sidekick in her comic series, fighting crime under the codename Plebe. Apart from the name, the only real connection Mary seems to have to Bette so far is an easily excitable personality and a tendency to talk too much.

Mary Hamilton is a medical school student who plays at being a shallow socialite. In truth, she's been stealing supplies from her school to run an illegal free clinic for needed individual in the slums of Gotham City. Bette Kane also played at being more shallow than she was to hide her superhero identity.

The illegal clinic Kate stumbles across is also a nod to the character of Dr. Mallory Kimball. Another ex-lover of Kate in the comics, she ran a clinic similar to the one Mary manages in the Arrowverse.

The scene where Kate wakes up in the clinic not knowing how she got there is taken directly from 52 #11.

The current police commissioner of Gotham City is said to be a man named Forbes. This could be a nod to Jack Forbes - a former Internal Affairs officer who became the interim Commissioner during the David Finch/Paul Jenkins run of Batman: The Dark Knight.

The current mayor of Gotham City has the lat name Akins. This could be a nod to Michael Akins, who was the current mayor of Gotham City in the Batman comics in 2019.

As in the comics, Kate's first love was fellow Cadet Sophie Moore. When Kate met Sophie again in the comics years after they broke up, she was a Colonel in the US Army and overseeing a military college close to Gotham City.

The Arrowverse version of Sophie Moore chose to lie about who she was to save her career. Instead of staying in the military, however, she was recruited into The Crows. She also got married to a man Tyler.

Some elements of Kate Kane's relationship with Rene Montoya in the comics seem to have been transferred to the Arrowverse version of Sophie Moore. Specifically, how Kate sees Sophie's refusal to stand by her as a betrayal and disapproves of her lying about their relationship in order to remain enrolled at the Academy, whereas Sophie admonishes Kate for not realizing that not everyone has a rich family to fall back on like she does. This is similar to the arguments Kate and Rene had about Rene remaining in the closet.

Luke Fox is the son of Lucius Fox - Bruce Wayne's long-time business manager and weapons' designer. In the comics, Luke took up a superheroic identity of his own, becoming Batwing.

The Arrowverse version of Luke is privy to Bruce Wayne's secret identity and is overseeing Wayne Enterprises' building in Bruce Wayne's absence.

In the comics, Kate and Beth were identical twins, whereas Kate and Beth are fraternal twins.

As in the original comics, Kate's mother died when she was a young girl and her sister Beth was presumed dead, though no body was ever recovered. However, the circumstances of that death are wildly different.

In the comics, Beth, Kate and their mother were taken hostage by terrorists on the twins' 12th birthday. Jacob Kane led the mission to save them, only manage to successfully rescue Kate. The terrorists executed Kate's mother and Beth was apparently killed in the crossfire between the terrorists and The Crows.

In the show, the Kane's car was forced off the road by a school bus stolen by The Joker. Batman stopped chasing the Joker long enough to try and rescue the Kanes, who were left teetering on a broken bridge. Unfortunately, only Kate was able to climb free of the car before it fell into the river below. Beth's body was never recovered.

It is revealed in the end of the episode that Alice is Beth Kane and that she had the garnet from the necklace matching Kate's transplanted into a knife, which she leaves as a calling card for Batwoman, having apparently figured out that Kate is Batwoman. Though Beth Kane in the comics did become a villain called Alice, the circumstances seem to have been changed from the comics.

In the comics, Alice was a member of the Religion of Crime - a cult that sought to sacrifice Kate Kane to fulfill a prophecy. Introduced in the Batwoman: Elegy storyline, Kate eventually discovered that the new Religion of Crime leader was her long-lost sister. It was never explained how Beth came to be indoctrinated into the cult, but she was eventually redeemed and became a DEO Agent known as Red Alice.

This is not Rachel Skarsten's first time on a superhero TV show. She also played Dinah Lance on The WB network's Birds of Prey series, though her version of Dinah Lance was a teenage telepath rather than a martial-artist with a sonic scream.

The gang that Alice leads seems to be based on The Wonderland Gang. Created by writer Paul Dini and artist Dustin Nguyen and first appearing in Detective Comics #841, the Wonderland Gang were a group of costumed robbers who all dressed as Lewis Craroll characters. Apparently led by The Mad Hatter, it was later revealed that he had fallen prey to his own mind-control technology and that the gang was truly being run by Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

In the comics, Alice never had any connection to The Wonderland Gang or any of the other villains in Gotham City with Lewis Carroll-themed names or gimmicks.

The Wonderland Gang was also the name of a real-world gang of cocaine dealers that was based in Los Angeles in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The Crow who betrays the team to Alice is named Chuck Dodgson. Lewis Carroll was the pen-name of Charles Dodgson.

As the episode opens, we are told that Batman hasn't been seen in Gotham City in three years. Coincidentally, Kate became Batwoman in the comics during a time in which Batman seemingly abandoned Gotham City for one year, during the events of the mini-series 52.

The "Welcome To Gotham" sign in the opening has been defaced to say "Hellcomes To Gotham." This may be a nod to Batman Returns, which Selina Kyle damaged a neon sign that said "Hello There," making it read "Hell Here."

Two different newspapers are seen in the episode: the Gotham Gazette and the Gotham Inquisitor.  The Gotham Gazette is commonly seen in the comics, but their rival paper is usually The Gotham Globe. This may, however, be a nod to the series Smallville, where the rival paper of The Daily Planet was The Metropolis Inquisitor.

Kate is a vegan and has acquired a neck tattoo since the last time she saw her father.

According to Kate, Bruce Wayne doesn't have a legal middle name. While this has been largely true for many years, Bruce's full name was given as Bruce Thomas Wayne in Batman #20 of the Rebirth era series.

In the Arrowverse, Kate is significantly younger than Bruce, who was running Wayne Enterprises while she was still a tween. In the comics, they are closer in age and were both children when they lost their parents within a few years of each other.

Kate also identifies Bruce Wayne's birthday as February 19th. This is Bruce's official birthday according to the DC Super Calendar from 1976. Astrologically, this makes Bruce a Pisces and one astrology site claims that people born on February 19th tend to be romantic, selfless and intuitive and will sacrifice anything to save their loved one, but they often take on too much and sometimes have trouble accepting reality. (Sounds accurate to us!)

The password to the computers in Wayne Enterprises is Alfred. This is a nod to Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's loyal butler.

Kate figures out that the Wonderland Gang is hiding out in the old Burnside Orphanage building. Burnside is one of the boroughs of Gotham City, comparable to Brooklyn in New York City, and was the territory protected by Batgirl for many years in her solo comic.

In the reality of the Arrowverse, Bruce Wayne has a Bat-Cave hidden under Wayne Enterprises, which is accessed by a secret elevator, revealed by a switch hidden under the case containing the restored pearls his mother wore on the night of her death. It is unclear if this is the main Bat-Cave or an auxiliary one in addition to the one under Wayne Manor. In the comics, Bruce Wayne did have several smaller caves set up around Gotham City.

The movie being screened at the Movie In The Park event is the 1920 silent film version of The Mark of Zorro. In most versions of Batman's origin story since The Dark Knight Returns, this is the movie that Bruce Wayne's parents took him to see on the night of their murder.

A child dressed as Zorro can be seen running through the crowd at the movie screening, along with a boy dressed as Robin.

Radio Hostess Vesper Fairchild is heard near the end of the episode. Vesper was first mentioned in A709 as a gossip monger who knows everyone in Gotham. She apparently had a one-night stand with Oliver Queen at one point before he became Green Arrow.

In the original Batman comics, Vesper Fairchild was a radio show host who was briefly linked to Bruce Wayne romantically. She first appeared in Batman #540 in March 1997. She was later killed by the assassin David Cain as part of a plot to frame Bruce Wayne for her murder. This kicked off the Bruce Wayne: Murderer? and Bruce Wayne: Fugitive storylines that ran through the Batman comics in 2002.

Vesper Fairchild is voiced by MSNBC pundit and former talk radio host Rachel Maddow.


Technobabble

Batman's grappling hooks are capable of holding one ton.


Dialogue Triumphs

Kate: (into phone) Hello?
Mary: Kate, it's Mary. Your stepsister.
Kate: Mary, our parents have been married for over a decade. I know who you are.

(Kate has her hands cuffed behind her back.)
Kate: Bruce gave me a great piece of advice once. Grow into the person you needed as a kid.
Luke: That's great. Police are on their way.
Kate: Oh. It it turns out that the person that I needed as a kid can do this.
(Kate reveals that she slipped out of her cuffs and grabs Luke, forcing one cuff on to his wrist before chaining him to the wall with the other.) 

Kate:
You signed it.
Sophie: I told them what they wanted to hear.
Kate: You lied.
Sophie: I need this school, okay? I want to be here.
Kate: But they don't want you.
Sophie: Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of being offended by that.

Kate: How do you know me?
Alice: Better now.

Kate: (in her journal to Bruce) I spent 15 years searching for a place I fit, and I think I've finally found it. Some see fear, others hope. I see the freedom to be myself, to play by own rules.


Continuity

As the episode opens, it has been three years since Batman has been seen in Gotham. Bruce Wayne also disappeared shortly thereafter.

Kate says that Bruce is the only member of her family who didn't abandon her after he mother died, with Jacob Kane becoming more obsessed with his work.

Kate and Beth had matching garnet necklaces. Kate figures out that Alice is Beth after she realizes the same garnet is in Alice's throwing knife.


Location

As the episode opens, Kate is in some arctic environment, training how to survive swimming in freezing waters.


The Bottom Line

A solid set-up for the series that sets up all the major players with grace and style.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Batwoman Episode Guide - Format Key


For The Batwoman Episode Guide, I'll be using a slightly modified version of the same key I use for my other guides, which are based off of what I think is the finest episode guide ever written - Doctor Who: The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping. Here is the rundown.

Plot: A quick summary of the main story.

Influences: Specific media which may have inspired or otherwise influenced a particular episode.

Goofs: Holes in the plot, visible wires during the stunts and other things that don't work the way they should.

Performances:
 The actors and their craft - how well the characters are played, ignoring how that character may have been differently portrayed in another story.

Artistry:
 Anything on the technical side of things that is notably well-handled, such as set-design, lighting, sound effects, cinematography, etc.

Bat Trivia:
 Random things of interest and references to the comics.

Technobabble:
 Pseudoscience terminology used to justify the unlikely and/or impossible things that sometimes happen in superhero shows.

Dialogue Triumphs:
 Anything the characters say that make you want to put on a cape and fight for justice!

Dialogue Disasters:
 Anything the characters say that make you roll your eyes or snort in disbelief.

Continuity:
 Direct references to previous episodes.

Location:
 Anyplace the story is set apart from the usual locales.

Untelevised Adventures:
 Stories that take place off camera, but are referred to.

The Fridge Factor: 
How badly the female characters on the show are manipulated by the story in order to make the male characters look better.

The Killing Jokes:
 How badly are the heroes manipulated to look incompetent and badly trained compared to whatever villain they are facing off against.

The Bottom Line:
 Is it good or bad? Why is it good or bad? How can they make it better/not make it worse?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Starman Plays Fallout - Part 26

In which we once again fight The Lieutenant and his guards, with a little help from our robot friends. We also (finally) blow up the Super Mutant base and return to the Brotherhood of Steel... only to find that nobody really cares that much.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Starman Plays Fallout - Part 25

In which we attempt to destroy the Super Mutant base only to be defeated by my two greatest enemies - random critical hits and random game crashes.

This does have the unintended side-effect of me showing you two different ways to confront the fourth floor of the base. One is semi-stealthy and involves very little combat. The other involves a bunch of guys in robes trying to Bruce Lee me, despite my wearing power armor.