Thursday, November 14, 2019

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 5 - Dangerous Liaisons

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




Plot

It's the eve of Obsidian North's public launch of their new "Collective Reality" contact lenses and a new metahuman mercenary is gathering gear for an unknown purpose. As Supergirl and the DEO try to track down this new threat, Kara must help William Day with his investigation into Andrea Rojas, as she learns the truly personal reasons he has for bringing down her criminal empire. Meanwhile, Malefic and Lena begin working together to find a way to mechanize Malefic's power.


Influences

Titans #20  (character of Breathtaker), Young Justice #2 (character of Rip Roar) and the movies Spider-Man 2 and Robocop, which... inspired certain elements of Rip Roar's costume.


Goofs

The effects and editing used to make Brainiac-5 as possessed by the Aurafacian look scary are anything but scary.

Dreamer using her powers to hold back a wave the size of the whole Pacific coast seems far beyond her power level and what she should be capable of doing with her energy abilities.

Given their distinctive beards match, it is hard to believe William Day - presumably observant to be a successful reporter - didn't realize that Rip Roar was Russell Rogers. Some best friend!


Performances

Phil LaMarr is a well-known voice actor these days, but he proves to be no mean actor in the flesh, playing Malefic trapped in a human form.


Artistry

The opening Obsidian North commercial is a stunning parody of nature-themed advertising for a piece of technology.


Super Trivia

The wind-controlling metahuman from last week's episode is given a proper name in this episode: Breathtaker. Strangely enough, this name has been used by two different DC Comics supervillains. However, the Earth-38 version of Breathtaker seems to be based on the second Breathtaker, given her power set and basic gimmick.

First appearing in Titans #21 in November 2000, Breathtaker was part of a group of metahuman assassins known as The Hangmen. Her real name and origins were never revealed. She had the power to control the air around her but her trademark move was draining the air out of a person's lungs.

This episode introduces a cyborg assassin known as Rip Roar, who is armed with two extra robot hands. There is an earlier DC Comics character called Rip Roar, but he has nothing in common with his Earth-38 counterpart apart from a shared name and their both having four arms.

The original Rip Roar was a member of the New Gods, who first appeared in Young Justice #2, in October 1998. A native of the planet Apocalypse, Rip Roar was a soldier under Darkseid's direct command and a rival of Darkseid's son, Kalibak. Rip Roar became stranded on Earth thanks to Kalibak's treachery, shortly after he stole a Super-Cycle from the world of New Genesis. This Super-Cycle would become the team transport of Young Justice, after the team defeated Rip Roar. In addition to having four arms and the usual New God super-strength and enhanced durability, Rip Roar had the ability to project fire and ice from his hands.


Technobabble

Kara tells Kelly that the perfect gift for Alex would be a Schadel XG-1000 motorcycle helmet, in small, matte black.

Lex Luthor created a laser rifle he called the Marathon Laser because it could fire a concentrated beam of light 26.2 miles.

Brainiac-5 is able to augment the executive section of his brain to allow the Aurafacian to speak through him, after he bonds with it.The Aurafacian will be unable to lie, thanks to a polygraph filter in Brainiac-5's brain.

The occipital lobe is the part of the brain where Q-waves are generated.

Q-waves are projected like sonar from a dolphin.

Malefic's Q-waves broadcast on a special frequency that allows him to control the thoughts and emotions of others, while being unable to connect to the Martian hive-mind.

A Fusion Cannon is a high-energy weapon formed from the combination of a high-power, high-range laser (like Lex Luthor's Marathon Laser) and a particle amplifier. It is capable of generating an energy beam 100 times hotter than the center of Earth's sun. According to Brainiac-5, the Fusion Cannon isn't supposed to be invented until the 22nd century.

Fusion Cannons are impossible to track, due to the amplifier's radiation obfuscating the laser's energy signature. They are also powerful enough to hurt Supergirl.

The Maladorian Dendroasp is 100 times more aggressive than any animal on Earth.

Rip Roar is able to trigger a massive eruption in the Antarctic water table, which sends shockwaves east and west, resulting in an unprecedented number of sea swells. Based on the seafloor pattern and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, the biggest is set to make landfall on the North American Pacific coast one hour after the eruption.

The geyser Rip Roar creates pumps out three cubic miles of water every second. At that sustained rate, every coastal city in the world will start flooding within 12 minutes.

The helmet Rip Roar wears is biologically adhered and it functions as some sort of mental armor. Even with a Truth-Seeker attached to him, he does not say anything about who hired him other than to describe them as "They."


Dialogue Triumphs

Lena:  It seems we have gotten off on the wrong foot. So I have a proposition. You have the ability to incept thoughts into people's minds. I want to study your brain, so I can develop a technology that can do the same thing.
Malefic: Forgive my skepticism, but last time someone showed interest in my brain, the High Council sent me to the Phantom Zone.
Lena: You'd be back in the Phantom Zone if it wasn't for me.
Malefic: And yet, now we are at an impasse. What's in it for me?
Lena: We both want the same thing. We were each betrayed by the people closest to us. Work with me. I believe you've the ability to do great things.
Malefic: I don't want to do great things. I want revenge! So I have a proposal for you. Martian biology prevents a brother from harming his brother. That's why I've been attacking the people closest to J'onn J'onzz. If you remove this barrier from my brain so I can kill my brother, I will give you access to my mind.
Lena: It is my mission to stop people from hurting each other. I will not kill.
Malefic: Perhaps. But you've gone to extreme measures to bring me here. And now, you are at the precipice. Studying my mind is the key. I know of desperation, human. I know the depths you feel.
Lena: I would have to develop the technology first.
(Malefic merely smirks and nods slightly.)
Lena: Your terms are acceptable. Let's begin.

Brainiac-5: Now, I'm no super-villain, but if I were, and I was right over an Antarctic lake with a weapon designed to fire a beam 100 times hotter than the center of the sun, well, it would be, as they say, "a hot time in the old town tonight."


Continuity

As the episode opens, it is just over 59 hours before the Collective Dream VR contacts officially go on sale.

Andrea has everyone at CatCo writing articles about Collective Dream, regardless of their usual departments and beats.

William Day volunteers for the assignment of continually writing articles about how big the sales are.

Kara has not told Nia about what William is working on and denied finding anything at the address Nia found which led to a house rented in William's name.

Kelly and Alex are celebrating the anniversary of their first date. Kelly asks Kara for advice on a gift.

Kara tells William about the air-controlling metahuman the DEO captured and says she can get him into the DEO on two conditions; one, he has to sign an NDA  agreeing not to talk about the building and two, he has to bring Kara in on the investigation.. She gives him all right to publish the articles in his name.

Alex uses the Truth Seeker, first seen in 410, on Breathtaker.

Breathtaker says she has no idea who hired her, as she is paid in Bitcoin through a secure server and she never knows what other contractors she might be working with at any time.

Breathtaker's previous contacts include "this lady with killer tattoos (i.e. the Aurafacian from 503), a guy who could detach most of his fingers, and this big dude with some extra appendages." She later clarifies this to be a man with two mechanical arms.

Breathtaker says the man with four arms uses the code name Rip Roar and she last saw him two years earlier in Darien.

William says that Rip Roar killed his best friend from college, Russell Rogers, two years earlier.

Russell had apparently dated Andrea Rojas but become suspicious she was involved in something shady. He disappeared a day after he told William this, with no body ever being found.

Rip Roar steals the Marathon Laser from the vault holding Lex Luthor's belongings at Fort Summit Army Base.

Malefic agrees to let Lena test his powers in exchange for her finding a way to overcome the Martian genetic coding that prohibits brother from hurting brother.

Brainiac briefly bonds with the Aurafacian so it can be questioned, but it delivers no useful information. Like Breathtaker, it was hired on-line through an anonymous drop.

Rip Roar is revealed to be working for Leviathan.

Lena has Malefic attempt to control three hostile alien creatures to narrow down the frequency he uses to control people. These are a Daxamite Scorpion, a Terran Oceanic Devil, and a Maladorian Dendroasp.

Kelly makes a reservation at a waterfront restaurant for her and Alex's anniversary.

Kara knows how to loop a security camera's footage to hide her breaking into Andrea's office.

William Day has contacts at MI-8.

Kara and William find nothing in Andrea's office more incriminating than a large stockpile of foreign currency in her safe.

Brainiac-5 is able to track the power source of the Marathon Laser to a satellite station in New Mexico.

Rip Roar steals a particle amplifier from the satellite station.

J'onn conducts a psychic scan of Russell Rogers' old apartment in London but sensed nothing other than evidence of a struggle years earlier.

Brainiac-5 determines that the components Rip Roar stole could be used to create a high-power fusion cannon.

Brainiac-5 determines that the common link between the targets of the three super-powered assassins - a scientist, an engineer and a security officer - is that they all were all employed by the Lake Vostok Antarctica Base. Between the three of them, it would have been possible to override every single security protocol in the base.

Brainy further theorizes that Rip-Roar's purpose is to trigger a global flood by melting the glacier over Lake Vostok.

William Day uses his VR Collective Dream contacts to imagine telling Andrea off about her crimes.

J'onn and Kara fly in-synch to create a whirlpool to suppress the water being pushed up by the geyser created by Rip Roar.

Dreamer uses her powers to stop the wave from destroying America's west coast.

Brainiac determines that Andrea Rojas and Obsidian North couldn't be behind the plot to flood the world. Ignoring that it would have ruined the launch of their new VR lenses (and many people were utterly helpless because they were in VR when the wave hit), the flooding would also have destroyed Obsidian North's manufacturing hub.

Nia and Kelly befriend one another after Nia walks in on Kelly having an anxiety attack triggered by watching Alex in action saving people.

Lena uses her research to place Malefic under her control, making him unable to hurt anyone or want to leave her lab.

Kelly's favorite color is purple.

Alex's gift to Kelly is the same motorcycle helmet she asked for, so that Kelly can ride on Alex's bike with her.

Rip Roar is identified as Russell Rogers.

The old woman from Leviathan appears to Andrea Rojas, telling her they need her to deal with Rip Roar.


Location

Fort Summit Army Base
Socorro Satellite Station - New Mexico.
Lake Vostok Antarctica Base - Antarctica


The Fridge Factor

Kara comes off incredibly indecisive in this episode. Early on, she laments to J'onn that her instincts about Andrea Rojas and William Day were completely inaccurate and that she can't trust herself. Yet the middle part of the episode has her telling Alex to trust her gut instincts, despite a complete lack of evidence.


The Bottom Line

Quite possibly the worst episode in the show's history. It's on par with the various Parasite episodes, at the very least. The chief problem is that it makes Kelly (still a virtual non-entity, character wise) and Alex celebrating the anniversary of their first date more important than Lena stumbling down the slippery slope toward villainy by betraying Malefic.

It's hard to say what is stupider in the end; the conceit that one ray gun can trigger a tidal wave that will move straight toward the Pacific Coast of the USA from Antarctica, Dreamer suddenly having the ability to stop a tidal wave that huge by thinking at it or William Day not being able to recognize his best friend is Rip Roar despite them both having the same beard.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Batwoman Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 5 - Mine Is a Long and Sad Tale

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



Plot

Alice meets with Kate and takes her down the long and winding road of her life after the accident, revealing how Beth Kane became Alice. Meanwhile, after an argument with her mother in which she learns of Catherine Hamilton-Kane's actions, Mary goes off in search of Kate and a sympathetic ear. Unfortunately, all she can manage is Luke Fox.


Influences

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


Goofs

The green-screen effect when Kate and Alice are driving around is sub-par.


Performances

Again, Rachel Skarsten steals the show as Alice, narrating the horrific story of how Beth Kane became her wonderfully while still dancing on the knife's edge between sympathetic and scary as she confronts Kate.

Ava Sleeth's performance as the young Beth Kane is truly heartbreaking. You truly feel for her as everything goes wrong for her and she suffers torment after torment.


Artistry


The fight scene in which Batwoman takes down Alice and her gang is well-blocked and well-shot, with the editing seamlessly cutting between the black-and-white view of Batwoman's night-vision and the dark room where Alice and her gang are helplessly trying to fight back.


Bat Trivia


A news report in the flashback mentions how the search for Beth Kane was expanded into Bludhaven County. In the DC Comics Universe, Bludhaven is a town located upstream from Gotham City and is one of the few cities on Earth even more corrupt and hellish than Gotham City. It is where Nightwing moved to establish himself outside of Batman's shadow.


Technobabble

There are no night-vision goggles anywhere in the Batcave, because according to Luke "Batman doesn't do goggles." The helm of the Bat-suit, however, apparently has some kind of built-in night-vision mode.

When Catherine tries to explain to Mary how she faked the evidence of Beth Kane's murder, Mary misses the point and focuses on how the investigators could possibly have confused deer bones for human bones, since the density and genomes are quite different.


Dialogue Triumphs

Luke: They're calling him the Skin Pirate because apparently he likes to take skin from the booty.
Kate: Never say that again.
Luke: I didn't write the article.

(Alice wakes up, her arms chained above her head. She looks up, chuckles and then looks at Kate, who is in her Batwoman costume, with the mask off.)
Alice:
Kinky. Even for you.

Alice: You're not asking the right questions, Kate. What is my evil plan? Who am I targeting next? How am I gonna do it? When you really need to be asking why? Why am I like this?
Kate: Okay. Why?
Alice: (cutely) Oh, you don't want to know that.
Kate: I have waited 15 years to hear it.
Alice: Well, it all began with an unfortunate event which I remember vividly, and if given the chance again, I would take it back in a heartbeat. It was a simple, effortless thing that I had done so many times before. I woke up.

Alice: The little boy just sat there with his hair in his eyes, playing with his trucks. For him, it was an ordinary day But for me, it was the first worst day of my life.

(Kate and Alice are sitting across from each other in a roadhouse diner. The waiter returns with Alice's burger and fries.)
Alice: Uh, two beers, please.
Kate: None for me.
Alice: You do not want to be sober for the remainder of this story. Trust me.
(Kate just smirks, as if to say "Try me.")
Alice: (clears her throat in a ladylike fashion before whispering to the waiter) Just the one beer.

(Alice finishes telling Kate about how she found a severed face in the sink of the basement. Kate just stares at her, aghast.)
Alice: And that was just the first day.
(The waiter returns with Alice's beer. She smiles, takes it, and looks at Kate, still in shock.)
Alice: Hmm. I think she'll take that drink now.

(Luke has just sent away the security guards who apprehended an incredibly drunk Mary)
Luke: Uh, can I help you? Possibly to an AA meeting?
Mary: That depends. Is your name Kate?
Luke:  Most definitely not.
Mary: Then can you tell her that I'm here?
Luke: I'm sorry. Who's here?
Mary: Mary? Kate's soon-to-be ex-stepsister? And you are?
Luke:  Luke, Kate's, uh, associate, Assistant. Real estate person. Look. Kate's not here.-
(Mary sighs in melodramatic annoyance.)
Luke: You know what? You could leave her a message.
Mary: (tearing up) Okay. Tell her that I'm so sorry I was ever born from the Wicked Witch of Gotham, and I get why she's avoiding me, but I'm totally on her side! I can't believe that my mom would ever do something so awful! (in sudden realization) Oh, my God! Do you think that she killed that deer, too?!
(Luke looks completely lost at all of this.)
Mary: Are you getting any of this?
Luke: All I heard is that your mom may or may not have killed a deer.

(Jacob Kane rounds a corner, running right into Alice.)
Alice: Hi, Daddy.
(There is a long pause as Jacob regards her. Finally he speaks.)
Jacob: Where's Kate?
Alice: "Where's Kate?"(angry) "Is Kate okay? Is Kate happy? Is she sleeping enough? "Has she done her homework, seen a doctor, had enough to eat?" Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate, Kate! I'm so sick of Kate!
(Alice pulls her knife and holds it to her wrist.) 
Jacob: What are you doing?
Alice: (tearing up) Where's Beth? When was the last time you uttered those words, Commander Crow? Was it here? Was it in this house?
Jacob: Come on. Don't do this.
Alice: Was it when I called you and you didn't even believe it was me?
Jacob: Let's go outside. We'll talk.
Alice: You told your men to kill me.
Jacob: Put down the knife.
Alice: Because you don't care. You've never cared!
Jacob: Put down the knife.
Alice: You gave up on me!
Jacob: (suddenly shouting) Beth, drop the damn knife!
(Alice suddenly smiles through her tears.)
Alice: "Beth." You... you said it.
(Alice looks at Jacob. He looks at her and steps in, raising a hand as if to touch her face. Suddenly, she lashes out with her knife hand and stabs him in the stomach, her face returning to its usual mask of indifference.)


Continuity

This is the first episode chronologically after the events of the Elseworlds crossover event.

 The Skin Pirate is a new criminal who steals the flesh off of corpses. As the episode opens, they just robbed three morgues in one night, within a single nine minute window.

Luke and Kate determine that Alice is the Skin Pirate.

Kate is able to track down Alice and the Wonderland Gang and capture's Alice.

Alice reveals that the "Mouse" Dodgson told Kate about in 104 was the one who found Beth Kane after the car accident.

14 months passed between the time Beth Kane disappeared and when Catherine Hamilton created the fake DNA reports that convinced Jacob Kane to call off the search.

Alice tells Kate about how Catherine Hamilton paid her detectives to fake the evidence that Beth Kane as dead.

Kate calls her father, to get him to start tracing her phone, as she goes off with Alice.

Beth Kane was washed downstream from the accident site and discovered by Jonathan "Johnny" Cartwright, who alerted his father, Dr. August Cartwright, to the girl in the water.  Alice claimed to be ignorant of the name of Johnny's father, however, and this information is only revealed in the episode credits.

Johnny would later take the name Mouse, according to Alice.

Mouse had an amazing gift for mimicry, and could copy any voice he heard.

Catherine tells Mary about how she faked the evidence of Beth Kane's death.

Mary does not take it well and gets drunk, going to Wayne Enterprises to find Kate and cry to her about it.

Alice has Kate stop at Dusty's Roadhouse Diner, because she dreamed of them going to a diner like that together after she was rescued.

Mouse grows his hair long to hide his face, which is hideously scarred after an unspecified accident.

Beth was locked in the basement of the Cartwright house after she saw the news report about her still being missing and realized Dr. Cartwright had lied to her about her father being on the way.

It was here in the basement that Beth found the flesh mask in the sink - the image from Alice's nightmare in 103.

Luke and Mary meet for the first time.

Jacob Kane confirmed that the bomb which nearly killed Alice in 102 was made by Hamilton Dynamics.

Alice explains that Mouse's father had kidnapped Beth so his son would have a friend and that he had pulled Mouse from school and devoted himself to finding a way to fix Mouse's face by making him a realistic skin mask.

Alice drugs Kate's drink, knocking her out.

Alice escapes back to the Cartwright house with an unconscious Kate while her gang holds off Jacob and Sophie at the roadhouse.

Alice reveals that she found the tracker Kate planed in Dodgson and that she knew she was coming.

Beth knew how to pick locks with a nail when she was 13.

Beth tried calling her father once she escaped from the basement, but was caught in the act by Dr. Cartwright.

Jacob traced the call on his own after the GCPD refused to act. He and Kate both went to the Cartwright house.

Kate wound up on the opposite side of the door where Beth was being held at one point, seemingly sensing her sister but ultimately not testing the door. Beth, for her part, was too terrified to cry out, with Dr. Cartwright having threatened to kill everyone she loved if she ever tried to escape again.

Dr. Cartwright convinced Jacob that the call was a prank call initiated by Mouse, who was able to copy Beth's voice after hearing a recording of her on the news.

Jacob figures out where Alice took Kate after realizing they're driving around the same remote part of Gotham City where the Cartwright house was.

Luke searches for criminals similar to the Skin Pirate's MO and finds Jacob Cartwright - an Arkham inmate with a history of stealing skin from cadavers.

Luke says that the recent incident at Arkham Asylum (i.e. Elseworlds) was covered up, as were the inmate escapees that resulted from it.

Alice confronts Jacob Kane and stabs him in the stomach.

Alice and Kate wind up in a standoff with Kate holding Mouse hostage and Alice holding Jacob. They agree to part ways and fight another day.

It is revealed that Johnny gave Beth a gift the day after Kate and Jacob came and went away - a copy of Alice in Wonderland.

Alice and Mouse both took their names from Chapter Two - The Pool of Tears of "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland."  They regard each other as Brother and Sister now.


The Bottom Line

Phenomenal on every level and far scarier than many episodes of some horror series. Between Rachel Skarsten's performance and the writer's conception of the horrors Beth Kane suffered in becoming Alice, you almost want her to succeed in making Jacob Kane suffer

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Starman Plays Quest For Glory 1, The Thief Path - Part 5

In which we showcase the dangers of drinking (in a pub that is a front for the thieves' guild at least) and scrounge up the silver to make a few quick gold showing off our dagger-throwing skill against the Chief Thief. We also undertake our first major theft, robbing a poor old lady's house. Yeah. No real way to spin this. We're a terrible person.


Friday, November 8, 2019

Starman Plays Quest For Glory 1, The Thief Path - Part 4

In which we learn more about the bandits plaguing Spielburg before staying up all night picking locks. We also finally get an audience with the wizard Erasmus and meet Bruno; a disreputable fellow who is totally not in league with the bandits!


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 8, Episode 3 - Leap of Faith

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




Plot

Reunited with his sister, Thea, Oliver finds himself in a race against Talia Al Ghul and the Thanatos Guild in the catacombs of the League of Assassins' headquarters. Meanwhile, Diggle and Lyla embark on a special ops mission together, to save Bronze Tiger's family. And in the far future of Star City 2040, the new Team Arrow take the fight to the Deathstrokes.


Influences

Indiana Jones
movies (name-dropped, general theme of exploring a booby-trapped tomb, the Phoenix tile puzzle is lifted directly from the "name of God" challenge in The Last Crusade) and the present-day storyline of Arrow Season 3 (focus on League of Assassins drama, Diggle and Lyla spywork)


Goofs

Many of the fights are shot too close. This would make it hard to see the action, if the poor lighting throughout the episode didn't make it impossible to see anything in general.

The Star City future storyline seems to suggest that the membership of the Star City Reunification movement is a big secret. Weren't they all present and trying to recruit new members at an incredibly open gala in the season 8 premiere?

The Thantos Guild die stupidly trying to get past Oliver (fully armed with a bow) and the booby trapped tomb of Al-Faith, by charging him one-at-a-time, while climbing down a rope.

Mia's throat-wound seems to heal up awfully quick when it's time for her to cradle Zoe and look anguished.


Performances

As always, Lexa Doig is a delight as Talia.


Trivia

This episode marks Katie Cassidy's directorial debut.

This episode introduces the Arrowverse version of Sandra Hawke - the girlfriend of Ben Turner and mother of Connor Hawke.

In the original Green Arrow comics, Sandra "Moonday" Hawke was one of Oliver Queen's many short-term girlfriends during his free-loving college days. She became pregnant as a result of one of their dates, but refused to seek support, being determined to prove she could make it on her own as a single mother. Her son, Connor, would go on to meet his father nearly two decades later and eventually take up his mantle, becoming the second Green Arrow.

This episode sees Lyla and John return to Kasnia - a fictional nation first introduced into the DC Comics lexicon by Superman: The Animated Series. It has been repeatedly used on Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow whenever they needed a setting in Eastern Europe. On Earth-38, Kasnia was the nation which discovered the Supergirl clone that become known as The Red Daughter.


Technobabble

Felicity hard-wired the power grid of The Bunker through the floor. This can be used to electrocute anyone standing in the main room through a control hidden in a safe room.

Zoe makes use of a device that creates a stunning sonic attack similar to the Canary Cry. Sara Lance originally used this same device as The Canary in Season 2.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Oliver explains his bargain with The Monitor)
Oliver: He asked me to help him, but he's not very good at sharing information with the people he's working with.
Thea: (dryly) Sounds like somebody else I know.
Oliver: I need to be 100% sure that I can trust him. I know it's a long shot, but I was hoping that Nyssa could tell me what, if anything, the League knows about him.
Thea: Okay. What are you not telling me?
Oliver: He's seen the future. He's seen me die. It's soon, Speedy.
(There is a pause as Thea looks at Oliver expectantly.) 
Thea: And?
Oliver: (deadpan) Take as much time as you need to be upset.
Thea: Ollie, come on. You've cheated death more than any of us have by this point.
Oliver: This is fundamentally different than anything that we've ever dealt with before.
Thea: Okay. Well, let's try to figure out what we're dealing with, but like I said, Nyssa's not here.
Oliver: Sara hasn't been able to help either.
Thea: We've kind of killed off every League member, haven't we?

Oliver: So now you're back to your old exploits?
Talia: With the League gone, the region has become quite unstable.
Thea: And you think training a bunch of assassins in a place like this is gonna stabilize it?
Talia: I think it a wiser course of action than declaring a one-woman war on the Thanatos Guild.

Thea: What is going on with you, Ollie? You were never this overprotective when I left Star City.
Oliver: Things have changed. I left my family behind, Speedy. And I miss them. And every day, I wrestle with whether or not I made the right decision because maybe I didn't. And I saw an entire world wiped out of existence. A world that you weren't in, by the way, because I wasn't around to protect you. I'm sorry, Thea, but the only way that I can bear this is if I become 100% certain that my sacrifice, that my death... will protect the people I love. I need my family to be safe.
Thea: You know, I've been thinking a lot about Mom and Dad lately, wondering what they would think about the lives we've chosen. All the mistakes they made, all the lies they told...In their own very, very messed up way, they thought they were protecting us.
Oliver: Well, they weren't. They didn't.
Thea: No, but it did help us become the people we are today. They turned us into heroes. We can't change the future, Ollie. The past teaches us you might as well not bother trying to.
Oliver: (chuckles) When you'd stop being my baby sister?
Thea: I never did. I just grew up a little bit. (sighs) Now can we please get off this mountain?
Oliver: Yeah.

Talia: It is your destiny.
Thea: Yeah, but, see, about that. I don't really believe in the whole fate, destiny thing. We can all make our own choices.
Talia: Meaning?
Thea: Meaning I don't think the world needs another League of Assassins. It could use League of Heroes. It wouldn't be a one-woman job.
Talia: You'd extend me that honor despite my betrayals?
Thea: You made a mistake. We've all made mistakes.
Talia: Not one but two women to wield my father's sword? He would be aghast. (Talia smiles and chuckles wickedly) I accept.

Oliver: I can't believe I'm saying good-bye to you again.
Thea: Well, you're not. Think of it as a "See you later, and please don't die."


Dialogue Disasters


The reactions to Zoe's death are pure hammy Narm.


Continuity

Oliver runs into Thea in the area around Nanda Parbat.

Oliver catches Thea up on recent events, including her new niece.

Thea makes reference to 303 and her time in Corto Maltese, where she used Mia as an alias.

Thea now has a scar on her right cheek - the result of a battle with Athena of the Thanatos Guild.

Nyssa Al Ghul is off dealing with some League business. Thea thinks she is in Thailand.

Thea saw Roy Harper, sometime after the events of 720, and he told her about the fight with The Ninth Circle. He is currently off "dealing with his demons/"

Oliver contacted Sara Lance regarding the League's history and any connection the Monitor might have to it. She didn't know anything.

Lyla has been keeping an eye on Sandra and Connor Hawke since Ben Turner was recruited to ARGUS. He's currently on a deep-cover mission and Sandra missed a check-in for the first time.

Lyla has pictures of Sandra and Connor at an airfield in Kasnia - far from where Ben is now and any mission he's ever run for any organization.

The plane in the photo of Sandra and Connor belongs to Abdul Nardoc - a Kasnia philanthropist who is believed to have terrorism ties.

Lyla needs John to work with her on this mission, because she's still ferreting out all the corruption within ARGUS and can't trust anyone else with this mission.

Oliver refers to the events of 705 and how Talia owes him a debt for helping her escape from prison. He agrees to consider the debt paid if she helps him find the answers he seeks regarding The Monitor among the League's records.

The Karan Shah is the formal name of the League of Assassin's fortress and central base of operations. It has been destroyed, but the catacombs underneath it remain intact.

Talia's father had the League's historical records moved into the catacombs to keep them safe.

One of Abdul Nardoc's associates is Farzad Qadir - the son of Gholem Qadir - the man Ben Turner killed to save Lyla Michaels' life while serving in the Suicide Squad in 216.

The Chronicles of Al-Fatih are the journal of the founder of the League of Assassins and the first man to hold the title Ra's Al Ghul. Legend has it that he was given advanced knowledge by one of the sky gods. Talia thinks this could be The Monitor. When the book is located, it contains a drawing of the Monitor and a note that the end times would come if the League ever abandoned their mission charge from "the sky god" to maintain the balance between good and evil.

Thea can read Arabic.

The Sword of Al-Fatih is a relic of equal power to the Ring of Ra's Al Ghul. Before the Ring of Ra's Al Ghul, whoever wielded the Sword of Al-Fatih was considered leader of the League of Assassins. It is believed to be interred in Al-Faith's secret tomb.

Burning the false Chronicles of Al-Fatih reveals a stone sphere, marked with constellations, which somehow reveal the true location of Al-Fatih's tomb. It turns out to be on top of the mountain where Oliver dueled Talia's father in 309.

Talia poisons Oliver to keep him from getting to the tomb ahead of her. He is found by Thea, who he previously ordered to go back to their camp.

Talia is captured by Athena, who then captures Oliver and Thea and intends to use them to test for traps in the tomb of Al-Fatih.

Talia and Thea enter the tomb while Oliver holds off the Thanatos Guild.

Diggle and Lyla save Sandra and Connor Hawke.

All of the Thanatos Guild die.

Thea beats Talia in a duel for the Sword of Al-Fatih.

Talia passes command of her students over to Thea, but Thea refuses to restart the League of Assassins. She suggests, instead, that she and Talia start a League of Heroes.

Ollie makes reference to the Queen Family Hozen and how Felicity gave it to William.

William was able to protect himself from the Deathstrokes swarming The Bunker, having remembered that Felicity hard-wired the electricity for the complex through the floor. This enabled him to use it to shock them as they entered the main room.

William determines that John Diggle Jr. and the Deathstrokes are killing everyone involved in the Star City Unification movement. 10 have been killed so far.

Mia pushes the team to make a direct assault on the Deathstroke's hideout.

Zoe is killed by John Diggle Jr. while saving Mia.

Mia, William and Connor are sent back in time to 2019 and the original Team Arrow bunker.

Oliver is seemingly teleported to the Team Arrow bunker by the same flash of white light.


Location

Nanda Parbat
Kasnia


Untelevised Adventures

Roy, Nyssa and Thea apparently destroyed the last of the Lazarus Pits some time between this episode and 616. They have been working since then to stop the Thanatos Guild from reforming the League of Assassins.

Ben Turner officially became an ARGUS agent sometime following the events of 722.


The Fridge Factor

Zoe Ramirez is unceremoniously killed off to give everyone else on Team Arrow 2.0 some angst. (Also, apparently, to not further confuse viewers with the presence of another Black Canary in the upcoming Green Arrow and the Canaries spin-off.)


The Bottom Line

A mixed bag, overall. The bits with Thea and Talia are good, but that owes more to Willa Holland and Lexa Doig nailing these characters out of the park with every appearance after so many years. The stuff with Diggle and Lyla is competently acted, but seems very repetitive. And the future storyline is as lackluster as everything else done with the flash-fowards since Season 7. Ultimately, it succeeds only because of some strong speeches and strong performances, which seem wholly separated from the overall direction and staging of the episode, which are outright horrible at times.

Starman Plays Quest For Glory 1, The Thief Path - Part 3

In which we explore the rest of Spielberg Town and Spielberg Castle, do some light shopping and make the harrowing journey to Erana's Peace to pick some flowers, like the big damn hero we are.


Monday, November 4, 2019

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 4 - There Will Be Blood

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




Plot

Barry's efforts to prepare everyone for a world without The Flash are derailed when Cisco starts scheming to find a way to save him from the coming Crisis. Ralph also has a hard time processing the idea of a world without Barry Allen. Meanwhile, Ramsey Rosso taps into his newfound powers to save his life and loses his humanity in the process.


Influences

The zombie movies of George Romero, the Venom movie (the effects to animate Ramsey's blood powers) and The Flash comics of Joshua Williamson.


Goofs

You'd think Barry would take Frost's opinion on Ramsey Rosso into account before ordering Cisco to save his life. at least when it comes to finding a worthwhile person to save. But we do have to set up the irony of Barry being responsible for empowering a dangerous metahuman, don't we?

Cisco, as an engineer, is wholly unqualified to do most forms of medical work, never mind develop a cure for cancer!

Barry said he was going to make Cisco the team leader after his death. Isn't that Iris' job?

Couldn't Ramsey add adrenaline into his cure instead of taking blood from scared people?

The special effects for Bloodwork's powers look like a cheap version of the effects for Venom.


Performances


Hartley Sawyer makes Ralph's depression in the fact of Barry's death incredibly convincing, given how little time he gets to work relative to the Cisco storyline.

Jesse L. Martin spins most of the episode giving inspiring speeches to most of the cast, making me realize how much I missed him during Season 5. While the dialogue in the final scene is sickly sweet, Martin (and to a lesser degree, Grant Gustin) make it work through sheer force of will.


Flash Facts

Iris makes reference to Midway City, when discussing her lead on Sue Dearbon's whereabouts. In the DC Comics Universe, Midway City was home to the Silver Age versions of Hawkman and Hawkwoman as well as one incarnation of the Doom Patrol. It is located somewhere in the American Midwest, though differing comics place it in Illinois and depict it as being something like Chicago or place it in Michigan, near Sault Ste. Marie.

The cure-all Nash promises Barry and Cisco in exchange for their help is located in McCulloch Technologies.The company is named in honor of the second Mirror Master. Evan McCulloch.

According to Nash Wells, the Dominator home world is called Swan Moon. In the classic DC Comics universe, the Dominator homeworld was never given an official name and was simply referred to as the Dominion Homeworld, after the empire ruled by the Dominators.


Technobabble


Ramsey determines that the black blood he absorbed from Mitch Romero's system temporarily cured his HLH cancer but he requires more blood to create a permanent cure to save my life.

Nash Wells requires an anti-vibrational crypto-circuit.to complete his work on Earth-1. He describes his work as thermic excavation.

The Dominators developed an extremely rare bio-regenerative serum capable of healing organic tissue. Injecting it into  the healthy cells of an organic being causes them to replicate and replace unhealthy cells. Unfortunately, the shelf-life of it is limited and it won't work on someone in the advanced stages of something like HLH cancer. Nash Wells claims it might even be able to protect someone from the effects of antimatter, but it seems likely he was just going along with Cisco's suggestion. In the wrong hands, Nash Wells says the serum would be a 12 on a danger scale of 1 to 10.

Nash Wells is armed with a device, similar to Sara Lance's Canary Cry disks, which plays a high-decibel frequency that hurts anyone who hears it. The device also seems to cause electrical interference, causing the lights at McCullouch Technologies to go out and the emergency lights to come on. It can be deactivated by a control on Nash Well's bracer.

Cisco has a device that makes alarm noises. He uses this to distract Barry and Nash while he steals the serum so he can use it on Barry.

The Dominator serum must be kept at -15 degrees Celsius.

Nash's smoke bombs allow the thrower to teleport themselves to a pre-determined safe location - i.e. STAR Labs' lounge. It is not explained how it works.

Ramsey determines that the reason why his dark-matter based cure isn't working is that Mitch Romero was afraid for his life when he died and his blood cells were flooded with epinephrine. The adrenaline released while being attacked is the true bonding agent, which mean that in order to get the blood he needs, Ramsey has to kill people.


Dialogue Triumphs


(Nash Wells offers to help Team Flash if they help him with his work.)
Barry: Your work? What's your work?
Nash: It's thermic excavation.
Cisco: You're a cosmic myth-buster who also happens to be a geologist?
Nash: (beat) Sure.

Barry: Let's just say that we trust you-
Cisco: We don't!
Barry: -which we obviously don't.
Nash: (unoffended) Understood.


Continuity

This episode takes place a few days before Halloween 2019.

Cisco refuses to accept that there's no way to save Barry and stop him from dying in the Crisis.

Iris says that it is six weeks until the Crisis is meant to happen.

Ramsey's newfound power gives him the strength to snap a padlock and the precision to make it look like it was cut with a power saw.

Ramsey steals 10 liters of blood from Central City Hospital.

Barry decides to distract Cisco from his upcoming death by putting him to work on the problem of curing Ramsey Rosso's cancer.

Nash Wells reveals himself to Barry, after also revealing that he bugged Cisco somehow when they first met.

Nash offers to help Barry find a cure for Ramsey Rosso's condition in exchange for STAR Labs building him an anti-vibrational crypto-circuit.

Iris gives Ralph a lead that Sue Dearbon was spotted in Midway City. Ralph thanks her, but doesn't act on it.

Ramsey's second attempt at making a serum based on Mitch Romero's blood fails, only causing the black blood substance in him to surge further out of control, causing him great pain.

Nash Wells leads Barry and Cisco to McCullouch Technologies, saying they have an alien serum that could heal Ramsey.

Ralphi is binge eating and tells Iris that he's given up on the Sue Dearbon case.

Cisco steals the serum and hides it, pretending it was already gone when he cracked the safe holding it.

Barry figures out Cisco was lying to him later.

Barry had planned to make Cisco the team leader after his death, but is questioning that given Cisco's actions.

Ralph has been depressed into inaction because he thinks trying to save anyone is pointless if he can't save Barry.

Joe tells Ralph that he can't save everyone, but he can save Sue Dearbon.

Frost tells Cisco he can't save someone who doesn't want to be saved and trying to force the issue could take him down a dark path.

The serum doesn't work on Ramsey's cells. Apparently the cancer is too far gone.

Ramsey determines that for his cure to work, he must drain the blood of people who are afraid. This leads him to attack Central City Hospital.

Ramsey also determines that he can control the people he kills, though they act like movie zombies and dissolve into black blood once he gets a certain distance away from them.

Ramsey killed five people in his attack on the hospital on Halloween night.

Ralph tells Iris he is going to Midway City to start the search for Sue Dearbon anew.

Nash Wells is apparently tracking the Monitor, who has a base in the sewers of Central City and the circuit Cisco made for him helps him follow his energy signature. The episode ends as Nash is about to hit the wall the Monitor walked through with a pickaxe.


The Bottom Line

Manages the neat trick of seeming like total filler, even though it's almost wholly devoted to pushing the villain's storyline forward. It's odd, but the scenes of everyone being depressed Barry is going to die and coping with Barry's death at the end are the best moments of the episode, repetitive as they are. Everything involving Bloodwork is equally repetitive and predictable, yet somehow stupider and less enjoyable to watch.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 3, Episode 4 - The Book of the Occupation: Chapter Four: Lynn's Ouroborus

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




Plot

Returned to a drastically different Freeland, Jefferson faces new challenges in his civilian identity as Lynn feels the pressure to find a cure for the metahuman plague and turns to drastic measures. Meanwhile, Jennifer has her confidence shaken, as Anissa continues her secret work as Blackbird while rebuilding her relationship with Grace.


Influences

The Judd Winick run of Outsiders (Grace and Anissa's romance)


Goofs

Granting that the ASA is your typical stupid evil government organization, you'd think any plan that involves getting your chief scientist and the only person capable of saving your investment hooked on a drug would be a phenomenally stupid idea.


Performances

Jordan Calloway has developed Painkiller into the kind of villain you love to hate yet feel sorry for and his new smiling, earnest yet ruthless persona is one of the best things about the new season.


Artistry

It's a subtle note in the script, but it's pleasantly surprising to see Principal Lowery trying to stand up for the students and resist the ASA, even if it was likely born of his refusing to have anyone question his authority rather than any personal interest in student welfare.

The effects work for the final scene with Jennifer in orbit is some of the best the show has seen. In fact, it's better than the similar effects for Jean Grey's fire in Dark Phoenix.


Trivia

The note about Grace being trafficked as a sex slave as a child is taken directly from her background in the comics.


Technobabble

The metahuman virus has properties similar to Ebola.

The chemical structure of the metahuman virus is similar to a chemical compound found in both Green Light and the ASA vaccines.

Without exception, Green Light users develop a notable boost in brain activity.

Lynn theorizes that by removing the psychoactive properties of Green Light, she can make it safe for consumption and use the drug to enhance her intelligence. The process is similar to the one used to extract the THC from from marijuana. The end result is that Lynn developed a drug that left her with increased focus and an enhanced ability to process information.

Gambi created a mobile Faraday cage disguised as a coffee tumbler. It can be used to block the signal of any electronic device placed in it.

Gambi also created a device to mimic the signal of the tracking device they think is implanted in Jefferson's new costume watch.

Gambi coated the tires of several ASA vehicles with a radioactive resin, leaving a trail he could use to find The Pit.

According to Gambi, Jefferson's new suit is far better than anything he ever made in his life. He says it would have taken him $30 billion and ten guys working around the clock to equal it. The costume is based around next-gen nanotech, and has an increased conductivity threshold that allows Jefferson to generate 20-30% more electricity without any risk of damaging his nervous system.

According to Agent Odell, the active ingredient of Green Light is the most addictive substance on Earth.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Jefferson and Jennifer are moving past the line of students waiting to be tested for the metagene.)
Jefferson: To think, once upon a time I was worried about metal detectors.
Jennifer: It's not about corner boys now. If a war breaks out, we're gonna be really happy the ASA is here.
Jefferson: (stunnded) Wait, what? Jen. (quietly) Jen, you saw what happened at that checkpoint. They pointed guns at us!
Jennifer: Didn't you just let the ASA experiment on you? 'Cause I'm pretty sure you did. Why would you do that if you thought the ASA was no good, Dad?
Jefferson: To protect you.
Jennifer: (bitterly) That's always the reason, isn't it?

(Brandon, Jennifer and Kiesha are talking about Tavon's arrest while smoking in a bathroom.)
Brandon: So they're just gonna lock him up and wait till the results come in?
Jennifer: There's no way in hell Tavon's a meta.
Brandon: I heard someone dropped a "see something, say something" dime on him. Got some beef over a girl.
Kiesha: (To Jennifer) You really believe that peacekeeping stuff - about the ASA helping?
Jennifer: Look, I don't know. Okay? But what I do know is, Markovia's dangerous. I've been hearing some crazy stuff about them, like war-crime stuff.
Brandon: That's dumb as hell. How could you judge an entire country based off of rumors? (scoffs) Y'all don't even know what the hell y'all talking about, man.
Jennifer: Oh, and you do?
Brandon: I'm just saying. History is written by whoever wins. So unless we experience things firsthand, how do we know it's true?
Jennifer: Well, if it was up to my mom, I would never experience anything. I really hate how they say that they want us to be better than them. 'Cause in reality, they never do.


Dialogue Disasters

Major Grey: Anything dealing with that rebel scum, including their dietary needs, is an ASA matter and well beyond your current mandates.


Continuity

At this episode opens, it has been six days since Lynn began trying to cure the metahuman plague.

Lynn develops an intelligence-enhancing drug based on Green Light, which she begins taking in a desperate bid to develop a cure for the metahuman virus faster.

Since Jefferson was locked up by the ASA, traffic-stop check-points have been established around Freeland.

People who have been cleared as non-metahumans are given special ID cards to get them through the check points.

Agent Odell has given all of the Pierces fake cards declaring them to be non-metas.

A group of Resistance members armed with energy weapons attack the checkpoint as Jefferson is taking Jennifer to school.

Gambi goes to work on blocking the tracking device in Jefferson's new costume.

Gambi has an ex-wife he refuses to talk about, but he sympathizes with Jefferson not seeing eye-to-eye with Lynn on how much they should work with the ASA.

Gambi says he'll also figure out how to locate The Pit and let Jefferson focus on saving his marriage.

Agent Odell continues to check up on Jennifer. When she asks how she can be sure the Markovians are a threat when the ASA is controlling the Internet in and out of Freeland, he offers to send her a link to an ASA intel video regarding Markovia's operations around the world.

The 100 are hijacking ASA trucks carrying weapons and supplies.

Agent Odell sends Painkiller out to find out who is responsible for his missing trucks.

Jamillah Olsen is reporting on how now students are being forced to submit to metagene testing.

Brandon already has an ASA non-meta pass, despite the students at Garfield High just now being tested and given individual IDs.

Jefferson sees video footage of Anissa (as Blackbird) throwing a tank at ASA agents.

Jefferson's class roster was permanently assigned to another teacher, per ASA orders. They also apparently arranged for him to get a pay-raise, a nicer office, less work and reassigned him to be Garfield High's guidance counselor, all over the objections of Principal Lowery.

Jefferson directly voices his displeasure over Freeland being under martial law to Agent Odell. As with Jennifer, Agent Odell says this is necessary because Markovian agents killed his people and will turn Freeland into a war-zone if not countered. He further threatens Jefferson with putting Anissa and Jennifer in The Pit if he doesn't keep cooperating.

The ASA commandeer Freeland PD HQ as another facility for holding metahumans, over Henderson's objections.

Agent Odell sends Jennifer a video on the Markovian invasion of Sudan which leaves her in tears. Markvoia has been accused of all manner of war-crimes, but the UN has yet to be able to get into Sudan to access the damage.

One of Lynn's patients is a bus driver named Richard who has lived in Freeland all his life. He's been married 38 years and been working the same job one month longer than he's been married. He has two sons and one daughter named Olivia, plus an undetermined number of grandchildren. His daughter is about to get married to a man he likes (though he'd never admit it.)

Blackbird stops several members of the Resistance from buying weapons from the 100. She says that she won't have her symbol or name being used to shoot-up ASA checkpoints.

Jefferson goes to speak to Anissa and finds Grace at her apartment.

Jefferson and Anissa argue about Grace being aware of her secret identity. This causes Grace to have an anxiety attack, and she shape-shifts into a young girl.

Anissa reveals that she knows Grace's real name is Shay Li Wylde and that she was trafficked as a sex slave as a young girl.

Lynn is revealed to be practically living in her lab now, stopping back at the Pierce house only to get a few things before going back to continue synthesizing a vaccine.

Painkiller tracks four of the missing trucks to two ASA guards. They confess that they were paid for a delivery schedule by Sinzell - the 100 drug dealer who is running the black market in Freeland.

Jennifer's class discusses government sponsored genocide in comparison to the situation in Freeland. Jennifer is the only student in favor of government occupation of a territory in order to prevent violence - an approach which Brandon points out didn't work in Rawanda.

Tavon Singley, one of Jefferson's favorite students, is taken into custody by the ASA.

Principal Lowery tries to stop this, and is beaten by the ASA soldiers for his efforts.

Lynn gets her vaccine for the meta-virus to work on Richard.

Henderson tells Jefferson about Tavon being held in the FPD HQ.

Anissa tells Jefferson about the Freeland Resistance and the effort to get metahumans out of Freeland through an Underground Railroad. She says it is made up of herself, Reverend Holt and a handful of other people.

Anissa is stunned when Jefferson approves of what she's done with The Resistance and the Underground Railroad out of Freeland.. He even laughs at the irony of her nickname of Harriet - a reference to Harriet Tubman.

Jefferson, Gambi, Henderson and Anissa organize a raid on the FPD HQ that frees all the imprisoned Resistance members as well as Tavon.

Painkiller tracks down Sinzell and kills him.

Tavon flees to South Freeland along with the freed metahumans.

The Resistance members all elect to stay in Freeland and keep fighting, even though the ASA has identified them now.

Agent Odell tells Jefferson he knows that he was involved in the attack on the police station and that was his last chance.

Gambi tracks down the location of The Pit.

It is revealed that the ASA was already aware of the effects of the alternate Green Light formula that Lynn is now taking and that they have been using subliminal messages on their computers to encourage her to keep taking the formula she thought she had devised on her own.

Agent Odell gives Jennifer a new suit and an ear-piece. He then instructs her to change and fly straight up until she hears beeping. She moves up high enough to see the curvature of the Earth and a corona of energy springs up around her, making her eyes glow - a sensation that is apparently pleasing based on Jennifer's reaction.


The Fridge Factor

Jennifer's IQ has dropped about 50 points, with the cynical young woman who didn't believe much of anything suddenly becoming a member of the ASA Hitler Youth, so to speak.


The Winick Factor

Jefferson's sudden freak-out over Jennifer wanting to be famous over video footage shot while she was fleeing the ASA doesn't ring true.


The Bottom Line

Uneven in the extreme, with minor characters from the past season suddenly reintroduced with little rhyme or reason. Tavon's exodus and Lowery's humbling might have meant more if either of them had been a major presence in the show. For every magical moment that works (most of the Painkiller scenes, Jennifer's discovering the extent of her power, Jefferson telling Anissa how proud he is, the raid on the Freeland PD HQ) there are just as many terrible moments where the melodrama doesn't work (Anything involving Major Grey, Lynn's scenes with Richard, and everything involving Lynn's newfound drug addiction.). Quite probably the worst episode of the series to date.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 4 - In Plain Sight

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




Plot

Kara begins to investigate William Day's shady connections, only to discover he is not who she thought he was. Meanwhile, the conflict between Malefic and J'onn reaches a boiling point, as James makes a decision about his future.


Influences

The Guardian comics of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and the Martian Manhunter comics of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. James' storyline is also heavily inspired by the real-world crisis in the United States regarding for-profit prisons and the need for reform.


Goofs

Why is William Day pretending to be married? It's an easily detectable lie and adds nothing to his cover identity, particularly since he is going undercover as himself!

For that matter, using a stock-photo off the Internet in place to represent said wife seems incredibly amateurish for an award-winning investigative reporter.

Despite J'onn's assertion that you can see the moons of Mars on a clear day from Earth, the Martian moons are renowned for being difficult to observe. The larger of the two moons is only 14 miles across, with the other being 8 miles across. The two also orbit so closely to Mars that it is difficult for them to be distinguished, even with a large telescope. It's even difficult to see the moons on Mars itself, as the planets circle the planet so lowly and so closely to the Martian equator that the curvature of the planet prevents large portions of the planet from ever seeing the moon.

Chyler Leigh goes over the top in playing the Malefic-possessed Alex, chewing-out J'onn.


Performances

The interplay between Katie McGrath and Jesse Rath is a delight to watch. We don't see Lena and Brainy interact often, but when they do it's something magical. There's an irony in them being the two least emotionally involved characters in the show, but while Brainy seeks to expand his horizons and become more empathetic, Lena seeks to shut down that side of her.


Super Trivia

William Day's contact in Mexico City is said to be a member of Intergang. Intergang is a criminal organization created by Jack Kirby during his time writing various Superman comics, which was given alien technology from Apokolips to facilitate certain operations on Earth to benefit to Darkseid.

The homeless teen who sets James on the path to deciding to stay in Calvintown is named Simon Kirby. This is a tribute to writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby, who created the character of Guardian.

James hiring Simon to work for his newspaper at the end of the episode is also a nod to The Newsboy Legion - the sidekicks of The Guardian, who were a group of homeless paperboys who frequently got into trouble while investigating crimes on their own in the grand boy adventurer fashion.

The wind-manipulating female metahuman who shows up at Elena Torres' apartment is not identified in this episode, but has similar powers to Windfall - a mercenary who was part of the group known as the Masters of Disaster. Curiously, Windfall was recently adapted as a character for both Black Lightning and the Young Justice animated series. Whoever she is, she has power enough to force Supergirl out a window when she's not expecting it and has control enough to suck the oxygen out of a small space, nearly suffocating Supergirl in seconds.

The suicide-bomb vest Alex is strapped into is said to be made up of a hybrid of Tamaranean and Pharoid technology. Both these alien races are taken from the DC Comics Universe. The Teen Titan Starfire is from the planet Tamaran. The Pharoids are the rulers of the Phraron Empire and hail from the planet Pharos IV, and first appeared in Green Lantern # 156.

At the end of the episode, James tells Simon not to call him Chief, after Simon says "Thanks, Chief" for James giving him his camera. "Don't call me Chief!" is one of the catch-phrases of Perry White, the editor of the Daily Planet and Jimmy's usual boss in the comics.


Technobabble

According to Brainy, Malefic's brain chemistry is unlike that of a typical Green Martian. As such, the usual psychic inhibitors and other DEO weapons meant to pacify a Green Martian are ineffective.

Synd'ar'k is the Martian word for Sinner.

The Verdex Blaster is a unique DEO weapon which was designed by Hank Henshaw to kill Green Martians.

Hope says that Lex Luthor's journals helped her to build the inception tuner needed to implement thoughts into the brain, but the specific Q-wave frequency needed for the device is still unknown and could be one of hundreds of thousands of variables.

It is shown once again that Kara requires air to breathe and it is possible to suffocate her.

One of the tools Lena uses is a polarity tuner.

The suicide bomb that Malefic binds to Alex is made up of Tamaranean and Pharoid technology.


Dialogue Triumphs

Lena: Look, Brainy, I know you haven't asked for help, - but you're getting it anyway.
Brainy: No. I need my mind consumed with this problem, so I don't think of Nia.
Lena: What happened to your little boxes?
Brainy: Little boxes prevented me from having a real relationship. Unfortunately, my unboxed self does not make a particularly good boyfriend. So I have been analyzing myself for days, searching for a way to modulate myself for the woman I love.
Lena: Well, I'm not gonna give you relationship advice. But as a scientist, you seem to be stuck in an infinite loop, and unless you can escape, you're headed for a crash.
Brainy: That would be cataclysmic.
Lena: So change a variable. What's the one thing you haven't tried yet? Asking for help?
Brainy: (hesitantly) Will you heeee (clearing his throat, suddenly having a coughing fit) Will. You. Help. Me?
Lena: Yes. And I think a small dose of that will go a long way with Nia.

James: Journalism's about fighting for the little guy. You taught me that. It's your job to point out corruption, so what the hell's going on here?
Nelson: Things have changed for some people. Idealism doesn't feed a family. And this whole power of the press thing... it might work if you've got the backing of a media conglomerate and a certain girl with a cape. But around here, it doesn't mean anything.
James: Standing up for what's right always means something. Nelson. That prison is stomping on the neck of this entire town.
Nelson: It's also the only thing that's keeping this town alive. Look, I'd love to see these bastards get what they deserve. But if I call them out, my advertisers, they pull their money, not only am I out of a job but so are the 30 other people I employ. (sighs) Go back to National City. I like to think of you there. You know, I'm just glad somebody made it out of this town. And I'm glad it was you.

J'onn: On a clear day, you can see the moons of Mars from here. Today's not a clear day.


Continuity

J'onn, Kara and the DEO attempt to ambush Malefic, but he is able to overpower their psychic inhibitors and incept Agent Blake and phases through the Phantom Zone Projector beam.

Kelly and James return to Calvintown - the small town they moved to after their father's death, where they stayed with their Aunt Vi.

Kelly keeps having momentary flashes where she sees through Malefic's eyes.

Calvintown has fallen on hard times since the last times James visited, with soup-lines for the homeless and needy a common sight and a large prison now dominating the town center.

Brainy is tasked with recalibrating all the DEO's anti-Martian technology to be effective against Malefic's unique physiology.

Alex also orders the Verdex Blaster - a gun designed specifically for killing Green Martians - to be retrieved from the DEO armory, despite J'onn's objections. She does agree to hold off on using the blaster in the field, however, until Brainy has had a chance to try and recalibrate their regular equipment.

Brainy is still in anguish from his argument with Nia in the last episode and is completely distracted from his work.

Kara suggests bringing Lena in as backup, given Brainy's current distracted state.

Nia investigates William Day's background and determines that he is not really married. The photo of his wife he keeps on his desk is a stock photo taken from the Internet.

Nia also discovers, after following Day while astral-projecting, that he's gone to Mexico City rather than London, which is where his current assignment is meant to be sending him. He's apparently meeting with a woman named Elena Torres.

Lena agrees to help the DEO capture Malefic, hoping to find a way to use his powers to facilitate her own research into mass mind control.

James and Kelly discover that a group of teenage boys were squatting in their Aunt Vi's home. Apparently the boys were doing homework when they entered the house.

Kara can speak fluent Spanish.

Kara discovers that Elena Torres is dead, apparently killed in a car crash and she spots William Day fleeing the scene with another man in a car.

Elena Torres was the head accountant for Obsidian Worldwide.

Nia runs the plate of the car Kara saw William Day escaping in. It belongs to Sergio Ramos - a known member of the Intergang branch in Mexico City.

James' first job in journalism was interning at the Calvintown Gazette. His mentor was a reporter named Nelson Stewart, who is now the publisher of the Calvintown Gazette.

James and Kelly see one of the boys who was in their Aunt Vi's house later as he's caught shoplifting. Kelly lies and says that he was getting the food for her and pays for it.

James invites the boy to dinner at their house and finds out his name is Simon Kirby.

Kara finds a sheet of paper with some numbers on it at Elena Torres' apartment.

Kara is attacked by a wind-manipulating female metahuman posing as a delivery person when she goes to Elena Torres's apartment.

Kara arrests the metahuman assassin as Supergirl, after Kara is blown out the window.

Alex is ambushed by an agent controlled by Malefic, who is also able to take control of her mind.

Simon has been homeless since last winter, when his mother was arrested trying to shoplift a $30 space heater from the local hardware store. Apparently the judge didn't even give her a chance to explain her actions and sentenced her to 10 years over a petty theft charge.

According to Simon, a lot of people have been getting arrested on minor charges ever since the privately-owned prison was built. The local police, judges and lawyers are apparently getting paid big money by the prison owners to arrest minor offenders and get them sentences for as long as possible to keep money rolling in from the state.

Lena agrees to help Brainy with working out his issues with Nia.

James confronts his former mentor on why the local paper isn't exposing the corruption of the local government and the prison.

Kara has a contact at the Mexico City Herald.

The body retrieved from Elena Torres' car was burned beyond recognition, but was determined to have died of natural causes two weeks earlier. An incisor tooth pulled from the body also didn't match Elena Torres' dental records.

The numbers Kara found correspond to an off-shore bank account with two names on it. One of the names is Elena Torres. The other is anonymous, but tied to an encrypted address.

Malefic attacks J'onn verbally through Alex, pretending that Alex has found out the truth about how J'onn erased all memory of his brother from the Green Martian hive-mind.

James hires the best defense attorney in National City to handle Simon's mother's case.

Simon asks James if he's going to stay in Calvintown and is disappointed when James says he was just visiting.

Kara refers to the events of 403 and how J'onn saved her life whens he passed-out mid-flight after Kryptonite was fed into Earth's atmosphere.

Kara and J'onn realize Malefic has taken over Alex's mind when J'onn says he is glad Nia broke her promise to keep his secret and told Alex about what he had done. Kara says Nia couldn't have done that, because she had been with Kara all morning.

Kelly realizes she is seeing through Malefic's eyes as part of her visions and insists they have to go back to National City to help fight him.

Malefic tells J'onn to meet him at a planetarium which is presenting a special on the history of Mars and its culture.

Malefic attacks J'onn with mob of mind-controlled civilians armed with stole DEO weapons. He also has Alex in a suicide bomb vest.

J'onn phases Alex through the vest before it can hurt her.

Malefic is apparently caught by the Phantom Zone Projector this time. However, it is revealed at the end of the episode that he was actually teleported to Lena's lab, where she said they could help each other.

Nia and Brainy reconcile after Brainy asks if she can help him figure out to be himself without being so obsessive.

James decides to buy the Calvintown Gazette, saying his non-competition contract with CatCo doesn't stop him from owning or managing a newspaper - just writing for one or taking photos.

Nia's hacker friend tracks the address on the secret off-shore bank account to National City. It turns out to be a largely empty house being used by William Day.

Kara confronts William, who claims to be working undercover on behalf of the London Times, investigating the crimes of Andrea Rojas and Obsidian International - a story he's been working on for two years.

William claims that Elena Torres was his contact on the inside and that they faked her death because she was afraid the company was becoming suspicious that she was working with someone on the outside.

William also claims that Sergio Ramos is an Interpol agent, working undercover in Intergang.

William apologizes for being rude to Kara before, but said he was trying to keep people away as part of his cover.

William also says that he thinks Kara is a good writer, and that her work is honest and smart.

James hires Simon Kirby to work for his paper and gives Simon his first camera, offering to teach him how to use a real one.

James also tells Simon to call him Jimmy.


Locations

Calvintown
Mexico City


The Bottom Line

It's kind of sad how sudden James Olsen left the show and how his departure storyline is the third most important subplot of the episode. Otherwise, this one is strictly formulaic and just serves to push everything forward a little bit, with the best parts of the episode being the small character moments that succeed in spite of the script.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Batwoman Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 4 - Who Are You?

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




Plot

Magpie, a costumed criminal with an eye for shiny things arrives in Gotham, but she may have more sinister plans that simple robbery. As Kate attempts to find a balance between her personal life and her new role as Gotham's guardian, Catherine has an uncomfortable encounter with Alice and Mary has a close-encounter with Batwoman, who needs a favor.


Influences

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


Goofs

The small explosions for Magpies booby-trapped pearls are less than convincing.

Reagan is supposed to be an expert at reading people and proves to be a master detective, so why doesn't she put two and two together on Kate being Batwoman after she disappears just before Batwoman shows up?


Performances

The interactions between Ruby Rose and Camurus Johnson as Kate and Luke are much more solid in this episode, leading to some fantastic dialogues and interplay between them.

Nicole Kang is a delight as Mary, and her deciding to play Alice while talking to a doped-up Dodgson is a fantastic bit of comedy, yet it still works well as a dramatic moment that is important to the plot.


Artistry

This episode features the strongest cinematography of any episode yet, with some grand dramatic shots of Gotham City.

The fight between Magpie and Batwoman in the museum is well-choreographed.


Bat Trivia

Magpie first appeared in The Man of Steel #3 in November 1986 and was created by writer/artist John Byrne. A museum curator named Margaret Pye by day and a cat-burglar who specifically targeted jewels named after birds by night, she had no superpowers but was notable for leaving behind booby-trapped replicas of the items she stole.

Magpie is mostly remembered today as the first villain whom Superman and Batman teamed up to fight together. She was apprehended after Superman came to Gotham City, seeking Batman out thinking he was a criminal or a dangerous lunatic. The skills Batman showed in tracking Magpie convinced Superman that Gotham City needed a hero like him, though he still disagreed with some of Batman's methods.

Magpie was Poison Ivy's cellmate in Arkham Asylum, despite having no superpowers.

In the Rebirth era, Magpie has been seen fighting Batman, Catwoman, Batgirl and The Flash.

The Arrowverse version of Magpie is named Margot. No last name is given in the episode, but it is possible it is Pye. She is a photographer who used her work to case out museums before robbing them, but otherwise seems true to the original comics' character, particularly in how she utilizes explosive, 3-D printed jewelry replicas.

Kate makes reference to Killer Croc - aka Waylon Jones; one of the more infamous members of Batman's Rogues Gallery, confirming his existence in the Arrowverse.

Kate notes that Bruce's mother was killed over her pearl necklace and that he spent $1 million to recover it when it turned up at an auction years later. In some versions of Batman's origin story, particularly ever since The Dark Knight Returns, great play was made of how Joe Chill broke Martha Wayne's pearls during the robbery, even though real pearls are stringed in such a fashion as to prevent the whole necklace from falling apart if the string breaks.

According to the show's producers, this is the last episode set before the events of Elseworlds.


Technobabble

The Batarangs are coded to return to the gauntlets of the Bat-Suit. Unfortunately, Luke Fox used the pre-programmed length of Bruce Wayne's arms in building Kate's costume. This cause the returning Batrangs to go past her hand, breaking a priceless vase after her first fight with Magpie.

Kate uses a voice modulator to artificially lower her voice to hide her identity while talking to Mary.

Magpie makes use of 3-D printed explosives, disguised as charms which she hangs from her belt - both caltrops (to slow pursuing guards) and replicas of items she's stolen to act as distractions.

Magpie's explosives are created with a nano-thermite infused ink and are comparable to an M-67 fragmentation grenade in terms of power. The ink's sale is highly regulated and only a few companies sell it.

Depending on the complexity of the deformulation, it can take Luke up to 1.5 hours to analyze the chemical composition of an explosive.

The bomb which targeted Alice's convoy was an IED using high standard components. It was able to target the van carrying Alice in a 7-vehicle convoy with 99.9% accuracy and likely used an advanced sensor initiation to detect its target. The only sensor that strong, according to Sophie, is an unreleased technology unique to Hamilton Dynamics.

Magpie's lair is climate-rigged so that if anyone enters the lair the change in temperature from the additional heat will trigger an explosion. The same sensors also measure kinetic energy, making it impossible for a person to breathe around them without setting off the same trigger.

The Batsuit can temporarily lower the wearer's temperature to avoid setting off heat-based weapons or thermal scanners.


Dialogue Triumphs

Kate: (V/O) A wise woman once said, "Hurt me with the truth. Don't comfort me with a lie." Yes, Bruce - I'm quoting Rihanna because I'm not a liar. I have never hidden who I am. I came out when Brad Morrison told all the kids at school that I was gay. I said, "Yeah, and?" Then punched him. Ever since then, I've been out and proud as long as I can remember. So how the hell am I supposed to wake up every morning and hide who I am?

(Alice confronts Catherine, as she is excavating Beth Kane's grave.)
Catherine: What are you doing here?
Alice: (ponderously) The great existential question. What are we all doing here? You know the thing I love about bad guys? Is that despite ourselves we are all so tragically predictable. Of course, you'd follow the cards I left right back there to cover your tracks.
Catherine: What do you want?
Alice: Hmm. To keep this to myself, and in return, you are gonna give me something, a very powerful toy. I understand that Hamilton Dynamics is developing a very "top-secret" weapon.
Catherine: I own one of the largest defense companies in the country. I'm hardly privy to its day-to-day project management side.
Alice: Oh, but you are. You are the priviest because this particular project was your idea.
Catherine: How do you know that?
Alice: Well, I spent in an hour in your house, Catherine. What did you think I was just poking around your shoe closet? Which should be its own monument by the way. Yeah. You are gonna give it to me by 10 p. m. tomorrow, or Commander Kane will know that you're the one who convinced him his dear, darling daughter was dead.

(Reagan just caught Kate lying about where she was.)
Reagan: So here's why this sucks. I like you. You're funny, you're cool, but that's not really enough. I'm not a needy person, Kate, but if I'm gonna make an effort, miss a spin class or rearrange a work shift, all I ask for is a little honesty.
Kate: Here's why this sucks. I think you're fun and cool and seem to care about all the right things But I'm not in a place right now where I can share all of myself with someone else. I am sorry.
Reagan: I get it. You obviously have a lot going on. I just hope whatever it is makes you happy.

Kate: What do you know about real estate?
Luke: Um, everyone hates popcorn ceilings.
Kate: So more than me. I'm starting a real estate firm.
Luke: Okay.
Kate: So the last thing the city needs is another predatory developer cluttering the skyline.
Luke: I agree.
Kate: That's why I want to buy run-down buildings from outside the Crows districts, keep the rents low, and give them back to the community.
Luke: So Bruce was a billionaire playboy, and you're gonna be who... Joanna Gaines?
Kate: You can be Chip.
Luke: I just told you I don't know anything about real estate.
Kate: Well, you better learn quick because you're gonna be my assistant.
Luke: Associate.
Kate: Hmm. Up for debate.


Continuity

Magpie is said to have robbed three jewelry collections in the past week and nearly killed a guard at her latest heist. Batwoman has not been seen in that time, because Kate is spending her nights with Reagan the bartender, whom she met in 103 at Tommy Elliot's party.

Kate came out after a boy named Brad Morrison said she was gay. She said "Yeah, and?" before punching him.

Kate is temporarily loaning Martha Wayne's pearl necklace to the Gotham Museum of Antiquities for an exhibit of the jewelry of women of power.

Martha Wayne was a supporter of the museum when she was alive.

The curator of the Gotham Museum of Antiquities is named Roxanna. No last name is given for her in this episode. She is attended by a photographer named Margot, who is later revealed to be Magpie.

Luke called Kate because Dodgson, still held captive, is starting to go septic instead of being dehydrated, as Kate insists he is.

The playing cards left on Catherine's make-up table from 103 are revealed to be a reference to the cemetery lot where Beth Kane was meant to be buried - 283.

Alice threatens to tell Jacob that Catherine faked the evidence of Beth Kane's death unless she delivers a new top-secret weapon to her.

Batwoman takes Dodgson to Maty at her clinic and asks her to save his life. Mary agrees, despite having misgivings about treating the man who tried to kill her.

Mary's clinic is revealed to be on Bennett Ave.

The vase which Kate breaks by accident in her fight with Magpie belonged to Marie Antoinette.

Sophie reports to Jacob that the explosive that took out Alice's transport in 102 likely came from Hamilton Dynamics.

Reagan grew up in an apartment building which was later gentrified by The Crows.

Kate asks Reagan to be her date to the antiquities museum gala that evening.

Magpie steals Martha Wayne's necklace from Bruce Wayne's office, in broad daylight.

Sophie gives Kate a list of everyone within a 100 mile radius who bought the explosive ink used to make Magpie's explosives.

Alice captures several of Catherine's henchmen, who come looking for her. She cuts the finger off one of them and turns him loose to send a message to Catherine.

Magpie bought the ink through a PO Box, linked to an address at the Old Gotham Hotel.

According to Luke, Bruce was miserable leading a double life, unable to get close to anyone. He thinks Bruce was happier as Batman toward the end before he disappeared.

Kate poses for a selfie as Batwoman to get the address linked to the PO Box.

According to Luke, Batman never posed for selfies with civilians.

Magpie protects her lair with a climate-controlled rig that sets off an explosion if it detects a change in the temperature of the room or detects someone breathing.

Kate can hold her breath for just over 2 minutes.

Kate sets the sensor off accidentally by sneezing, but manages to escape with a copy of Magpie's hard drive.

Dodgson hallucinates that Mary is Alice. Mary plays along and learns that Alice has big plans for someone called Mouse.

Magpie had complete semantics for something important on her hard drive. It is later revealed to be a 3D-printed replica of Martha Wayne's necklace.

Sophie shows up at the gala opening for the jewelry exhibit, killing the mood of Kate's date with Reagan.

Security guards show up with the pearl necklace, despite Kate calling ahead to tell the museum it had been stolen. This tips her off to Magpie's plan even before Luke tells her what he printed off of Magpie's hard drive.

Kate stops Magpie from escaping by cutting her zipline, in full view of the crowd of gala attendees.

Reagan dumps Kate for not being honest with her..

Catherine tells Jacob about how Alice is trying to blackmail her for a weapon.

Catherine tells Jacob the truth about how she falsified the evidence of Beth's death.

Jacob kicks Catherine out of their apartment.

Mary tells Batwoman about Mouse.

Batwoman chips Dodgson so she can track him to Alice's lair.

Kate decides to start a real estate company to buy run-down buildings from outside the Crows districts, keep the rents low, and give them back to the community.


The Killing Jokes

There's a bit of slapstick with Kate not catching her Batarang on the rebound, destroying a priceless vase and sneezing in the middle of a room primed to explode if anyone breathes. It's made up for by the end, but it all is done to emphasize how green Kate is despite her combat training.


The Bottom Line


A solid episode that introduces a fun villain, pushes forward most of the subplots and establishes some fantastic interplay between Luke and Kate. The series is shaping up into something truly entertaining and doing so far faster than Arrow did relative to how many episodes have passed.

Starman Plays Quest For Glory 1, The Thief Path - Part 2

In which we start exploring the area immediately outside of Spielberg proper and set about doing our first few quests for the local healer, a feisty fox and a fairly friendly frost giant. We also get our first glimpse of Spielberg's night-life (such as it is) and find the Thieves' Guild before ending our first day in an inn room.