Friday, December 6, 2019

Starman Plays Fallout 2 - Part 2

In which we get to know the people of the little village of Arroyo and learn how we came to be The Chosen One - because nobody else in the village can accomplish even the simplest of tasks alone, leaving us to do all their work for them! Still, we get a bunch of free training out of the bargain, so we can't complain too much. Leave that to the aunt who never liked us.


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Starman Plays Fallout 2 - Part 1

In which we return to the wasteland, create a new, more well-rounded character and enter the Temple of Trials to prove our worthiness to be The Chosen One.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 8, Episode 6 - Reset

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




Plot

Betrayed by Lyla Michaels, Oliver and Black Siren find themselves in a familiar life-and-death situation with Quentin Lance, which gives the Laurel Lance of Earth 2 a chance to repent as Oliver tries to make peace with the inevitable.


Influences

Groundhog Day (specifically called out by Quentin and Oliver, theme of a person repeating a day until they learn a lesson.) Edge of Tomorrow (a soldier is continually sent through a cycle with memories of how he died while accomplishing a mission) and Arrow Season 6 and 7.


Performances

Paul Blackthorne is a delight and it's great to see him back for one final turn as Quentin.


Trivia

This episode was directed by David Ramsey, who plays John Diggle.

Each time Oliver wakes up, he hears a basketball game on the radio where one of the teams playing is the Star City Comets. In the DC Universe, the Comets are a professional basketball franchise, which was mentioned once in Black Lighting: Year One. The team was apparently once the Metropolis Comets, but moved to Star City after the franchise declared bankruptcy and switched cities.

Quentin's first words to Oliver, asking him if he's seen a ghost, may be a shout out to Green Arrow: Quiver, where the first words Oliver Queen says involving telling the civilian he just saved that he looks like he saw a ghost, in the scene which reveals that Oliver Queen is alive and well after having died in the previous Green Arrow series. 


Technobabble

The detonator for the bomb under the police station operates on an detonator oscillating frequency. This means that the right frequency being projected at it should disrupt it.

ARGUS is able to analyze the bomb and trace the chemical signature back to a certain building, which they determine is the mercenary's hideout.


Dialogue Triumphs

Oliver: We've had this exact conversation already.
Quentin: What are you talking about?
Oliver: (sighs, hesitant as he finally speaks) Fully aware of how this is going to sound. Quentin, I'm trapped in some sort of... time loop, where the same events just keep repeating themselves.
Quentin: Like Groundhog Day. 
Oliver: Sure, except this one ends a lot of people dead, including the two of us.
(There's a long pause as Quentin considers this.) 
Quentin: Okay. How can I help?
Oliver: You actually believe me?!
Quentin: Oliver, I've seen one daughter die and come back to life twice. I've seen another come from some other Earth. I've seen a guy in red run so fast he can reverse time. This is not exactly outside the norm, is it? Also, I'm done learning my lesson about doubting you because that always bites me in the ass. (chuckles)

(Dinah and Black Siren look at the bomb.)
Dinah: I have an idea.
(Dinah activates the Canary Cry device on her bracelet. It triggers a sonic attack which fries the bomb.)
Black Siren: (smiling) We did it.
(She gives Dinah the side-eye, apparently feeling her glaring at her.) 
Black Siren: (sighs) Okay. Fine. YOU did it.

Quentin: So you're telling me we're in some kind of a alternate reality based on the plot of a Bill Murray movie?
Black Siren: Well, I was gonna go with a Tom Cruise flick. But basically...

(Black Siren and Quentin have fallen back to a staircase. Quentin is wounded and bleeding out.)
Quentin: Oh, I'm sorry, baby girl. Looks like we lost this round.
Black Siren: No. No! I am not letting you die again.
Quentin: It's too late...
Black Siren: No!
Quentin: It... it's it's time to say good-bye.
Black Siren: I'm not giving up on you, Quentin. Quentin! I am not giving up on you. You never gave up on me. You believed in me when nobody else did.
Quentin: Well, that's what dads do. They believe.
Black Siren: I want you to know that you are the reason that I'm trying to be a hero. It's because of you.
Quentin: Sweetheart you are a hero. (firmly) You are.
Black Siren: (sobbing) Thank you. Thank you. I never had the chance to tell you how much you mean to me.
Quentin: Well...I think you just did.

(Quentin and Oliver are barricade in a stairwell. Quentin has been shot in the side, but it's just a flesh wound... for now.)
Oliver: We are gonna find a way out of this. There has to be a way to fix it, and we are gonna find it, Quentin. It doesn't matter how many times. We're gonna find it!
Quentin: (laughs) Yeah? Sure. What's it gonna be, 60 times, 100 times?
Oliver: It's gonna be however many times it takes!
Quentin: You know, getting hunted like this in a space like this is kind of like what I was doing to you all those years ago. Remember? (grunting as he forces himself to his feet) Sort of makes sense I'd go out like this now, don't you think?
Oliver: Would you please just save your strength-
Quentin: For what? Oliver, you take care of these guys, there'll be more behind them, there will be more behind them. There is no saving me from this! Okay? You ever think that's the point? Maybe you're not supposed to.
Oliver: I'm not giving up. And you're not giving up either.
Quentin: Oh, no, no, no. I'm not giving up. Maybe I'm giving in. You see, I've been outrunning death for a while now. The siege... the island... But when Diaz shot me, that felt different... like I was finally at the end. And I made my peace with that. And maybe it's time you did, too.
(Red sniper dots start shining through the windows)
Quentin: It looks like fate's knocking.
Oliver: (barely able to speak, finally growling the words out.) Just... just... You just get ready to move.
(Quentin closes his eyes and takes off his bullet proof vest, before moving towards the door with the snipers. Oliver looks at him, sad, but doesn't try to stop him.)
Quentin: I'll see you on the other side, Oliver.
(Quentin goes through the door to face certain death.)
Oliver: (quietly) Quentin.
(Everything goes white as the reset triggers again.)


Continuity

Oliver wakes up on a couch in his apartment in a suit while hearing a radio broadcast of the Star City Comets playing.

Mia, Connor and William return to the apartment from getting take-out at Big Belly Burger.

Connor says that Big Belly Burger in the past tastes better than in their time. Mia says it tastes the same. William says the taste of the food changed following a merger with Gwespin Foods sometime between 2019 and 2040.

Oliver attends a fundraiser the city council is holding for the SCPD/Vigilante Partnership, which is apparently intended to take their program global.

In this reality, Quentin Lance survived being shot by Ricardo Diaz and went on to become Mayor of Star City after Oliver Queen was arrested for being the Green Arrow. Apparently, the events of Season 7 played out exactly the same, with Oliver being freed from prison and Oliver and the SCPD spearheading a new program where vigilantes acted as deputized lawmen.

According to John Diggle, Oliver, Diggle and Black Siren were tranquilized two nights ago and Lyla was a double-agent spying on the Monitor. Oliver has no memory of any of this.

The fundraiser is being held in the Palmer Tech offices, which were apparently never blown up in this reality.

A group of mercenaries take a dozen officers hostage at the SCPD and their leader demands to speak to Mayor Lance.

In the first time through the cycle, the leader of the terrorists says the only way out is for Oliver to stop it before trigger a dead man's switch that triggers a bomb.

In the second time through the cycle, Oliver tries to tell both John Diggle and Quentin Lance about the time loop. Only Quentin believes him. He runs into Black Siren as he goes to disarm the bomb under the police station. She says that she's in the same time loop and this is also her second time around, but she woke up in the Team Arrow Bunker. They accidentally trigger a fail-safe on the bomb and agree to meet together at the fundraiser on the next trip.

In the third time through the cycle, Black Siren meets Oliver at the fundraiser. This time, they tip off everyone and Dinah and Black Siren are able to short out the bomb together. Unfortunately, a sniper kills Quentin once the bomb is defused and the mercenaries are arrested.

The fourth time, Black Siren tries to hide Quentin in the bunker as Oliver tries to figure out who hired the mercenaries in the first place. Oliver is able to get John Diggle to help him this time with analyzing the bomb. This leads them to the mercenaries hide-out, where they trigger a booby trap that blows up, injuring Oliver, Black Siren and Quentin. This time, Lyla shows up, tells Oliver he is missing the point and can't fight this before shooting Quentin and starting the cycle again.

The fifth time, Oliver tells Black Siren that he thinks this is a test but she thinks it's a punishment for defying the Monitor. Lyla is not at the fundraiser this time. They go back to the mercenary hideout with Quentin but don't trigger the booby trap. Oliver is able to hack the computers to track the mercenaries to the Anderson White - CEO of a company named Global Solutions, who has been accused but not convicted of money laundering and racketeering. Quentin is caught in the crossfire as the security team attacks them. As he is dying, Black Siren gets the chance to say goodbye to Quentin and tell him she is trying to become a hero because of him. He tells her she is a hero before the reset hits again.

The sixth time, Oliver goes to the Bunker and can't find Laurel. Lyla is there and tells Oliver that Laurel got what she needed out of this, so she isn't coming back. She tells Oliver once again that the only way to win is to accept the inevitable. Despite this Oliver goes to Quentin and takes him with him to confront Anderson White directly. Oliver gets on his computer and discovers that White is a middle man who organizes hits for other people as a side gig from his CEO job. They are caught by White's security and cornered. This time, Quentin tells Oliver that he probably was meant to die and that it's okay for Oliver to let go of him.

The seventh time, Oliver tells his kids and Connor how proud he is of them and how he's glad he got the chance to get to know them. He goes to the fundraiser and asks Quentin, in private, when he realized that Oliver wasn't the bad guy he thought he was. Quentin says his daughters vouching for Oliver helped. Oliver thanks Quentin for everything and excuses himself before Rene comes in with the news about the hostage situation.

Lyla approaches Oliver and confirms that this was another test to teach Oliver a lesson - to embrace the inevitable and not try to fight it. She says the test was necessary because Oliver has never been the sort of person to do what he's told and he had to be shown.

Lyla says she's been working with the Monitor for a while and hiding that has been the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

Lyla confirms that a great evil is coming and the Monitor has foreseen that the only chance they have of stopping it requires Oliver Queen be alive and ready to give himself for the ultimate cause.

Lyla says that everything Oliver has done so far - even retrieving the energy wave weapon in Russia - was part of the Monitor's plan and that he has one more mission to accomplish.

Lyla also confirms that the Monitor was responsible for bringing Oliver, Connor and Mia back in time and that it was a reward for Oliver's willingness to sacrifice - a chance to get to know the children he'd never see as adults otherwise.

Oliver wakes up in a tent with Black Siren, who is just waking up after having left Quentin behind. Oliver affirms his belief that the Monitor was rewarding them - giving him time with his kids and giving Black Siren the closure she needed with Quentin.

The two exit the tent to find John, Connor, Mia and William... and that they are on Lian Yu.


Location

Star City on an undetermined Earth, where Quentin Lance survived Ricardo Diaz's attempt to kill him and became Mayor of Star City, only to die several months later after Oliver Queen spearheaded an effort to see vigilantes made deputized lawmen.


The Bottom Line

A solid episode and possible contender for one of the best episodes of the series' history. The performances are all powerful and the tone stays serious while allowing for a little dark comedy. The final season continues to roll forward with all cylinders firing.

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 7 - The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 1

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



Plot

Iris uncovers a vast conspiracy, as Barry is infected with a hallucinogen by the increasingly monstrous Ramsey Rosso.


Influences

The Last Tempation of Christ (title, some of the dream-driven imagery), the Venom movie (special effects for Bloodwork's powers) and The Flash comics of Joshua Williamson.


Goofs

How did Frost know Ralph was in danger?

As effective as this episode is as a psychodrama, it's still somewhat muted because we know that Barry has to survive to see Crisis.


Performances


Grant Gustin gives a startling performance here, as Barry becomes trapped inside his own head and confronts increasingly disturbed images.


Artistry


Props to the chefs who made the food in the nightmare dinner scene so horrific.

The general dreamlike direction of the episode is incredibly effective.


Flash Facts


The mobile of the infant Nora West-Allen holds many tiny XS symbols.


Technobabble


Bloodwork says that his powers, like Elongated Man's, operate on a cellular level.

Caitlin determines that Ramsey's powers are getting stronger, since Ralph's elastic cells are not healing at the accelerated rate they normal do.

Caitlin theorizes that Barry can temporarily loan someone his speed-healing powers with a blood transfusion. This is ultimately borne out by her experimental surgery to save Ralph's life.

Barry's blood has a small spike in cortisol following the transfusion that allows Bloodwork to infect him.

The fever generated by Bloodwork's powers taking a person over does not respond to ice.

Caitlin administers 10ccs of naproxen sodium to control Barry's fever.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Barry has just tried to punch an intangible Ramsey Rosso.)
Barry: I don't know how you're doing this. Real or not, I'm coming for you.
Ramsey: And yet I'm not your foremost concern, am I? Not as much as your inevitable demise in a coming... Crisis? Goodness, you really are full of surprises, aren't you? So tell me...when you saw all those permutations, billions of possible futures all ending in your death...What role did I play?
Barry: You didn't. You weren't there.
Ramsey: (disappointed) Really? Not even in one? Huh. Then again, you never saw this coming did you? Frankly, neither did I. (smiling) Makes one believe in the impossible, doesn't it?

(Barry looks up and sees his mother.)
Barry: Mom? Is this another nightmare?
Speed Force: No, Barry. This is much, much worse.

Speed Force: You've answered our call before. It's always been difficult. What's changed?
Barry: I've lived more. I've gotten married, seen a future where I'll have a daughter who's the best of me and Iris combined. Most of my life has been driven by my past, but... but now, I... It finally feels like I'm living for myself. I don't wanna leave my family or my friends. I don't want to die. I know that's selfish. (sobbing) I'm sorry I let you down.
Speed Force: Barry. No person is immune to fear and doubt. No matter how brave. That's what makes you human, Barry. But the courage to move forward, even in the face of overwhelming odds... that's what makes you a hero. That's what makes you The Flash.
Barry: Thank you. I needed to hear that.
Speed Force: Don't blame yourself.
Barry: His lies.. They were so convincing.
Speed Force: That's because he never lied.
(There is a long pause as Barry ponders that and realizes what it means.) 
Barry: (quietly) What do you mean?
Speed Force: That's what makes Ramsey so dangerous. He manipulates the truth to spread his disease.
Barry: What, so... so the part about his cells allowing me to save the world from Crisis and still survive is true?
Speed Force: Yes. But that path's not for you.
Barry: Why not?!
Speed Force: Barry, you must understand-
Barry: - that you want me to leave behind everyone I love when there's a way to save me?!

Iris: (writing) My name is Iris West-Allen and I once met a young man, a superhero who I called the Streak. The world has come to know him as the Fastest Man Alive, the Scarlet Speedster, the Flash. But no matter what title you choose for him, he'll always be remembered as the protector of our amazing city and its citizens, as a beacon of hope for us all, and as the man who sacrificed himself again and again so we could live. Today we say good-bye to him, not because he was taken but because he gave himself willingly. And in the end, that's what makes him deserving of the greatest title of all - Hero.

Bloodwork: I am the world's salvation come to save it from all that ails it. Soon, the entire world will embrace... Bloodwork


Continuity

Elongated Man and Bloodwork fight, with Bloodwork wounding Ralph and infecting him with his blood.

Barry has Type O-negative blood. This makes him a universal donor who can donate to anyone.

Ralph's elastic skin is too strong to be penetrated by a standard needle. This requires Barry phase Ralph's body through the needle at super-speed to set up an IV.

ARGUS moves Ralph to a secure location while he recovers.

This episode takes place on December 8, 2019. Two days until the day Barry is destined to disappear.

Bloodwork learns that Barry Allen is The Flash through the connection he forms through their blood. He can apparently learn all about a person's memories when his blood is absorbed into another person's body, in addition to taking control of them.

Allegra discovers Iris' unwritten article about Barry's upcoming disappearance.

Iris determines that the man that recruited Esperanza Garcia and saw her transformed into Ultraviolet was wearing a pin with a spiral emblem and was also at Remington Meister's party in 606.

Iris found another picture of the man getting into a car, whose plates were tracked to a rented parking space in Central City.

The man claims to be a transporter for Maelstrom Couriers - a company catering to the ultra rich. He says he was hired to transport Esperanza Garcia for the government and that he was acting as a designated driver at the Meister party. Today, he's transporting a literal set of family jewels.

The Speed Force appears to Barry in the form of his mother, Nora Allen.

The Speed Force explains that Ramsey was able to get himself into Ralph's blood and because of the blood transfusion he is now in Barry.

Allegra reveals to Iris that she knows Barry's secret identity and that she was told by Nash Wells.

Allegra says she wanted to become a reporter because she was inspired by Iris's early blog reports about The Streak.

Ramsey tries to convince Barry to surrender to him, claiming that he he shared his power with him Barry would be a greater hero than ever, able to save the lives of those he was too slow to save.

The courier Iris and Allegra questioned is later found in what appears to be a bombed-out car, in the paid parking space they confronted him at earlier.

No cameras showed anyone going into or out of the car park that day to plant a bomb.

Allegra finds the spiral pin and says that it is glowing with ultraviolet energy.

Kamilla reveals that she already knew Barry was The Flash and that Cisco is Vibe to Allegra.

The Speed Force says Ramsey's powers could allow Barry to survive Crisis and heal people the way he described, but that there are universal forces that will be imperiled if Barry Allen does not die during the Crisis.

Barry begins to stop fighting the infection as Ramsey and The Speed Force fight for him.

The Speed Force admits that it does not feel pain in the same way that humans do.

As the episode closes, it is 36 hours to the Crisis.

Iris starts writing the article about Barry's death.

Nash Wells returns to the tunnel, ready to try and break through to the portal to the Monitor.

At first, it seems that Barry has beaten the infection. Iris realizes, however, that Ramsey is controlling Barry and trying to pretend to be him.

Barry knocks out Iris, Caitlin and Frost.

When The Flash is under Bloodwork's control, his eyes and mouth are stained with black blood and black blood oozes from The Flash symbol on his chest.

Ramsey officially gives himself the name Bloodwork.


The Bottom Line

A surprisingly effective episode with some strong imagery and a powerhouse performance from Grant Gustin. The only real problem with it is that, knowing that Crisis is coming up, the actual danger of the episode (and, by extension, its villain) is ineffective. Worse yet, there's really no way to separate this story from Crisis and consider it as its own entity. Still, it's enjoyable despite that.