Friday, April 10, 2020

Starman Plays Fallout 2 - Part 42

In which we solve the mystery of the missing townsfolk and clean up the mine in Broken Hills. We also recover a lost treasure, but I can't help but shake the feeling there was something else we forgot...


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Starman Plays Fallout 2 - Part 41

In which we head for the hills - Broken Hills, that is! It is here that we begin looking for some missing townsfolk, help a ghoul with hygiene issues, help another ghoul with personal issues and enter into a battle of wits with a Radscorpion. Will we win? You'll have to watch and see!

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 15 - The Exorcism of Nash Wells

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


As The Flash contends with a dangerous new Black Hole assassin called Sunshine while trying to conserve the last of the Speed Force energy, Cisco and Cecile try to find a way to force Eobard Thawne's mind out of Nash Wells' body.


The Indiana Jones movies (Nash and his world's version of Allegra having a relationship like Indy and Short Round, Nash having a signature hat), Fight Club (Cisco compares Nash's seeing the other Harrison Wells to Tyler Durden in this movie) and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (title, exorcism theme).


Granting that Cecile has often been a source of well-meaning comic-relief on the show, her bringing vampire-fighting gear to help with a scientific inquiry is just idiotic.

Iris evokes the name of the Ringmaster and Cicada in talking about how metahumans have limits. Strictly speaking, Cicada was a wielder of meta-tech rather than a true meta and the classic Ringmaster in the comics used technology, not metahuman powers. (Of course given that this is the fake Iris, this may be meant to be another hint that she isn't who she says she is.)


It is a credit to Tom Cavanagh's skill as an actor that he can wring so much drama out of a scene where he talks to himself and says nothing more than "It's not my fault" and "It's all your fault" over and over.


The fight scene between Sunshine and the CCPD is well blocked and thrilling.

Flash Facts

Thawne, posing as Nash, talks about having once stopped a swarm of psychic starfish on Earth-26. This is a reference to the classic Justice League villain Starro The Conqueror.

Sunshine is an original villain to the Arrowverse, but her powers - teleportation, invisibility and melting things - are exhibited by the classic Dr. Light in the comics. Unlike Dr. Light, however, Sunlight is dependent on ambient sunlight and does not generate energy on her own.

Iris makes reference to a villain called the Ringmaster who is nothing without his rings.This is a nod to an obscure Pre-Crisis Flash villain called The Ringmaster, who was an author named Beau Baer that had been hypnotized by the Golden Glider and outfitted with special ring-based gadgetry and made to become a rival superhero to The Flash. The Glider also abducted Iris West-Allen and tried to make her love the Ringmaster, before killing her and framing Flash for the crime. Once Baer was freed from Glider's control, he retired The Ringmaster and he was never seen again.


Eva McCulloch created a device she calls the Prismatic Refractor, which is capable of converting ambient light into energy.

Cisco hacked every Quantum Kinematic database on Earth-Prime and nobody knows anything about building an artificial Speed Force apart from the fact that The Reverse-Flash managed to do it in the future.

Cisco designs a Speed Gauge which measures the intensity of the velocity Barry generates whenever he uses his powers. The Speed Gauge lights up one of several colored lights based on how much energy Barry is using. Black is neutral, green is a small amount of energy, going through yellow and orange to red for maximum output.

Caitlin says that Nash's brainwaves appear to be multiple brainwaves woven together intricately when viewed as a three-dimensional pattern.

It is never explained just why Thawne was able to appear to Nash despite not being a true Wells. The most likely explanation is that Thawne was dragged along for the ride along with everyone else in a body that scanned as a genetic match for Nash Wells, given that Thawne did

Thawne, posing as Nash, claims to have a neuro-splicer in his belongings. He says that he doesn't think it could be used to separate thousands of brainwaves but Cisco thinks it could if it were super-charged using the EMP in Nash' gauntlet at 1500 volts per meter.

Whatever the device in Nash's belongings actually is, it knocks Barry, Caitlin and Cisco out long enough for Thawne, in Nash's body, to get to the STARchives and Rip Hunter's Time Bubble. Cisco later identifies this effect as a recoil loop.

Caitlin says there's no way to know what effect Velocity-X would have on Barry now, given how his powers have evolved in the past few years.

Cisco says that Thawne is just a series of negative tachyons that have gotten into Nash's body. Hitting Nash with positive tachyons should drive Thawne out, which leads Cisco to build a PTD (Positive Tachyon Device) capable of doing the job.

Cisco uses Cecile's empathy powers as a Thawne-detector, sense all she can read from Nash is pure hatred when Thawne is controlling him.

Without a physical body of his own, Thawne has to inspire negative emotions in his host to draw upon the Negative Speed Force.

Thawne's negative tachyons proliferate at a rate far faster than the output capabilities of the PTD. This means that it will only be a matter of time before he takes over Nash's body, according to Cisco, unless they find a way to help Nash fight back and stop feeding Thawne negative emotions to feed off of.

Cisco can't find any trace of Thawne's negative tachyons inside any organic matter on Earth, but he and Barry think he's just been dissipated - not destroyed.  Cisco compares him to a "red-eyed, pissed-off Voldemort.

Nash describes being possessed by Thawne as like being underwater - you can see and hear what's going on at a distance, but you aren't really in control of anything.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Barry runs into his lab at the CCPD, with Sunshine in hot pursuit. She easily cuts through the lock on the sliding metal security door and walks inside.)
Sunshine: Come out, come out wherever you are.
(Sunshine chuckles as the steel security shutters slam down over the windows. At the same time, Joe comes in behind her, closing the door as he draws his gun. Sunshine shrugs and raises her hands, getting ready to draw on her powers as the last of the shutters slide into place over the skylight, plunging the room into darkness. Our point of view shifts as everything goes green and several officers armed with laser-sighted rifles emerge from the corners of the room, with their sights set on Sunshine. They are wearing night-vision goggles, as is Barry, who grins as he emerges from behind a support column.)
Barry: Yep. You're helio-kinetic. So without access to sunlight, you're just an ordinary thief.
(Sunshine looks around, knowing she's beaten as four laser sights move around her chest as Barry holds up a pair of meta-dampener cuffs.)
Barry: Limits suck, don't they?

Dialogue Disasters

Caitlin: Nash needs help. Not maiming.

Iris: Metas are the ones with limits: not people.


The opening scene reveals that Kamilla has been replaced with a mirror duplicate like Iris was.

Eva McCulloch is apparently capable of creating duplicates of items in the mirror universe, but to finish her R-CEM machine she believes she needs the original Prismatic Refractor. She tasks the mirror duplicates with retrieving the original and bringing it to her.

The R-CEM is central to Eva McCulloch's long term plans.

The original Prismatic Refractor was sold to Mercury Labs several months earlier.

Joe and Chief Singh meet at C.C. Jitters to discuss Joe's RICO investigation into Dr. Carver. 

Joe and Chief Singh agree they have to investigate the possibility of a mole in the CCPD working for Carver independent of Internal Affairs.  

Joe tells Chief Singh that The Flash is aware of the investigation as well and thinks there's a dirty copy at work in the CCPD as well. 

Nash says that he's been seeing other versions of Harrison wells from the Pre-Crisis Earths and they've been talking to him. He mentions the Wizard Wells (Earth-13), the French Wells, the New York Wells (who he likes) and Harry Wells of Earth-2.

Thawne poses as Nash as part of a plan to escape. Barry catches him before he can steal Rip Hunters' time bubble. 

Barry nearly looses his temper and vibrates his hand through Nash's chest as Thawne taunts him about how he failed to save his daughter the last time they fought in 522.

Caitlin sends Barry away since they can't trust him to maintain his cool around Thawne and that is draining his powers faster in his current condition.

Cecile brings holy water, garlic, a wooden stake, salt and a Ouija board when Cisco asks for help getting Thawne's mind out of Nash's body.

The alternate universe version of Allegra Garcia whom Nash Wells raised like a daughter was named Maya. Nash began teaching her everything he knew after finding her rooting through his tent looking for food and she found a secret hidden inside the Blood Bloom - an idol he had just stolen from the mouth of something called The Wollip..

The Blood Bloom contains a gem worth three-times more than the crystals on the surface.

Nash's first rule is that the prize is everything. Another one of Nash's rules is you don't give anyone anything for free. He gives Maya his hat as thanks for her finding the gem for him.

Thawne is somehow able to access Nash's memories and traps him inside his worst one, which involves being in a cave where he can see blinding daylight outside. This causes Nash to suffer, which Thawne can draw upon to tap the Negative Speed Force.

A new metahuman with light powers robs Mercury Labs while the Iris and Kamilla clones are trying to steal the Prismatic Refraactor.

Frost goes to fight the robber, who introduces herself as Sunshine.

The Velocity-X samples are kept inside a vault hidden inside a fake pinball machine in the main room of STAR Labs. It is unlocked by pressing your thumb against a hidden fingerprint scanner inside the change slot.

Sunshine has the power to teleport across short distances, can seemingly become invisible and has the ability to melt steel with her bare hands. She also reopens the wound Frost got from the Dr. Light in 610.

Barry's body rejects the Velocity-X outright.

Sunshine's real name is Millie Rawlins. She's a former US Army soldier, who was transferred to covert ops after she developed the metahuman ability to bend sunlight in her immediate vicinity following the STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion. Sunshine was her call-sign.

Joe recovered the Prismatic Refractor and refuses to let it out of his sight until ARGUS picks it up. The Iris clone tries to get it stored at STAR Labs but Barry says that he can't stop Sunlight so there's no point in trying to hide it at STAR Labs.

Joe tells the Iris clone twice that she should check on Barry as she keeps asking him about the Prismatic refractor.

The Iris clone tells Barry that maybe The Flash can't fight Sunshine, but maybe Barry Allen can out-think her.

Cecile says she can barely feel Nash through all the shame and guilt after Thawne traps him in his worst memory.

Thawne is able to connect to his Negative Speed Force and nearly escapes his bonds before Cisco puts a pair of meta-dampener cuffs on him and Cecile knocks him unconscious with her Ouija board.

Chief Singh shows up to oversee the transfer of the Prismatic Refractor to ARGUS personally, saying he now agrees with Joe's assessment that there is a mole in the CCPD.

Sunshine is revealed to have been in Joe's office the whole time he and Chief Singh were talking.

Barry sets a trap for Sunshine, luring her into his lab at the CCPD, which has steel shutters that can be locked over the windows and skylight. Once the windows are closed, she has no source of power.

Chief Singh suggests that Sunshine may have been spying on the CCPD all this time and altering the records for Carver instead of there being a mole.

Cecile's mother died in 1995.

Cecile describes the feeling she reads from Nash as being paternal, like how she feels about her daughters, but also being tinged with her feelings for her dead mother. This leads her to conclude that the alternate Allegra was Nash's daughter (or something close) and Thawne is feeding on Nash's feelings of loss regarding her death.

Barry suggests they use the MAD 2.0 to access Nash's mind and help him drive Thawne out, similar to how they used it in conjunction with Cecile's powers to access The Thinker's mind in 423.

Maya died trying to grab a memory cell from a sonic emitter from the highest peak of Corto Maltese on Earth-13. Rather than lose hold of the cell and pull herself up off a ledge, she lost her grip and fell off the mountain while Nash was helpless to do anything but watch.

When Nash admits that Maya's death was his fault, it cuts off the pain that Thawne was feeding on, causing his energy to erupt from Nash's body as a red lightning storm.

Cisco says there's nothing he can do to stop Nash from seeing and hearing the other Wells doppelgangers. He says that he'll be able to draw off their knowledge, however.

Cisco gives Harry back his picture of himself and Maya.

Harry goes off to explore and find some new adventure on Earth-Prime.

Cisco suggests that Nash should try and reach out to Allegra, noting that he never got along with any version of Harrison Wells at first but eventually he became good friends with every incarnation of them he worked with.

Harry Wells appears to Nash and tells him that what Cisco said was what he was trying to tell him.

Barry apologizes to Caitlin for not following her orders.

Barry says that the start for building their Speed Force is in Nora's journal, thinking that Thawne must have taught her how to make her own Speed Force.

The Iris and Kamilla doppelgangers stole the Prismatic Refractor while the CCPD was distracted fighting Sunshine and replaced it with the copy.

Eva McCulloch says her ultimate goal is liberation.


Earth-719, 8 Years Ago.
Earth-13, 1 Year Ago.

Untelevised Adventures

The flashbacks reveal Nash Wells' history with an alternate universe version of Allegra Garcia, who is confirmed to have been his protege and basically his daughter and to have died because she couldn't let go of a prize.

Iris mentions a never-before seen villain called The Ringmaster.

The Bottom Line

A weak script that is salvaged only by the performances of the strongest actors in the show and the fact that most of the extraneous characters from this season aren't included in the story. It is somewhat saddening, however, that the return of the Reverse Flash is more of an annoyance than a major event but that's Season 6 of The Flash in a nutshell - everything is a distraction from the main plot and it's almost impossible to single out the main plot.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Starman Plays Fallout 2 - Part 40

In which we finally find that damned voice modulator, return to Vault 13 a hero and then head back to New Reno and become the prize-fighting champion of the world! Or at least, what's left the world that cares about prize-fighting.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 15 - Reality Bytes

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


A transphobic troll begins attacking trans women through a dating app (including Nia's roommate) and threatens to keep doing it unless Dreamer quits being a superhero. As Kara tries to stop Nia from going over the edge in dealing with the wannabe super-villain, J'onn, Alex and Kelly search for a missing man who may have been abducted and is being held hostage in a virtual world in Obsidian Platinum.


Various 1990s horror stories built around virtual reality. The title is taken from the 1994 drama Reality Bites.


Despite fretting over whether to wear a blue or purple shirt on her date with William, Kara winds up wearing the purple shirt after Alex told her to wear the blue and that blue is her best color.

Yvette is written as the stupidest woman on the planet, not thinking anything is weird about some strange man knowing her virtual boyfriend's name when he approaches her in a bar or when he later approaches her in an alley.

In fact, the only person stupider than Yvette in this episode is the bigot himself, who doesn't really think through the logistical problems of calling out a superhero with actual powers and attacking people who claim to know her on-line. He seems honestly stunned with Dreamer finds him and is able to overpower him easily.

Ignoring the reasons outlined in the episode, it seems incredibly stupid for Obsidian Platinum to operate without rules or without some kind of virtual sysop inside the game to monitor for things like, say, a serial killer/rapist attempting to make his fantasies a reality and targeting other players.

It seems unlikely that there are only 200 anti-trans message boards and social media groups on the entire Internet or that the sum total of their postings could be fit onto a single portable flash drive. Even allowing that the DEO and Brainiac-5 may have some wonderfully huge portable drives.

Yvette's decision to delete all her social media seems to be a bad lesson for this fable. As written, it seems like the episode is saying that dating apps are evil; not bigots, trolls and stalkers who use dating apps as a means of locating potential victims.

The closing montage set to "Everybody Hurts" would be a bit more powerful had the episode ended with Alex and Kara learning of Jerimaih's death rather than most of the song being played over Margot wheeling away Richard Bates.


Nicole Maines gives a powerful performance in the early scenes and you really feel Nia's rage at the bigot trying to stop her from being a hero and her frustration with Kara's well-meaning but misplaced efforts at empathy and her trying to give a "there's nothing we can't overcome together" speech at the worst possible time to be a clueless but well-meaning ally.

At the same time, Melissa Benoist does a great job in the early scenes trying to convey earnest empathy while realizing that she's not in a place where she can offer moral judgement, as much as it kills her that there are some things she can't solve with a speech about hope and some villains who can't be redeemed.

Super Trivia

Reference is made to the nation of Quarac, which is ruled by a royal family on Earth-Prime. In the DC Comics universe, Quarac is a fictional nation in the Middle East.

J'onn travels to Opal City following the psychic trail attached to Trevor Crane. In the DC Comics universe, Opal City is the home town of the first superhero to use the name Starman, Ted Knight. It was the main setting of the 1994 Starman series.

Jennifer Bates is played by actress Anna Van Hooft, who appeared in a season 1 episode of Arrow as a woman named Jenn who was mistaken for Sara Lance in a photo Dinah Lance believed proved her daughter was alive. Jenn was said to be engaged to be married, suggesting that maybe Jenn is Jennifer eight years later.on Earth-Prime.


There is a fail-safe tied to the bio-metrics of the user of Obsidian Platinum's lenses, that is meant to manifest a button the user can push to end the simulation when they are feeling unduly stressed.

The Hand of the Soldier is apparently capable of generating an electrical shock strong enough for a Kryptonian on Earth to feel it, as Alex is apparently able to teasingly shock Kara with it.

The Martian DNA inside the Hand of the Soldier should code itself to Alex's bio-electric impulses, allowing her to morph it with a single thought once she allows it into her.

Obsidian Platinum connects to a person's biology rather than acting through a link to their brain. It causes everything they experience to feel real.

Advanced Obsidian Platinum users can customize the virtual world but it takes time for the additions to be cataloged by the games' manager.  As such, there are some places (like The Escape Palace) where the people running the game have no clue what is going on.

Kelly says the Escape Palace draws upon a user's worst fears, making everyone perceive if differently. In Alex's case, she sees it as a series of tanks like the one she nearly drowned in.

One DEO agent reports to Brainiac-5 that she found over 200 anti-trans social media groups and message boards on the Internet and fit them onto a single portable drive.

Richard Bates is somehow able to customize his rooms in Obsidian Platinum to block remote monitoring.

According to Kelly, Alex should not have been able to blast Richard out of Obsidian Platinum.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Regarding the Martian Hand of the Soldier weapon J'onn gave Alex.)
Alex: This thing is supposed to know what I'm thinking, but it's being very stubborn.
Kara: (grinning) Well, like soldier, like hand.
(Alex raises her wrist at Kara and makes a buzzing noise. Kara jumps back as if shocked as Alex laughs.)

Nia: He wants me to stop being a superhero. He's going after my community to bully me into it.
Kara: Listen to me, Nia, listen. We will find this guy
Nia: Yeah, we will. And when we do, I'll bury him.
Kara: (shocked) Nia! Look, I... I... (sighs) I know this is a personal attack, but you have to trust that when we find this guy the cops are going to put him behind bars.
Nia: (exasperated) Kara, I love you, but do not tell me what I can and can't do right now. There is no catching this guy and redeeming him. There is no "hope speech" that can make this better!
Kara: Nia -
Nia: (firmly) No. Look, my community is vulnerable. This happens more than you could possibly know. And there are guys, just like this jerk out there, who want to hurt us. They want us to hide and to be afraid to be who we are. They want us to disappear and it happens. Every. Day.
Kara: I know. And what this guy did was horrible-
Nia: He's not the first and he won't be the last. We haven't exactly been a priority for the cops. So, just trust me when I say that I am the one protecting this community. And now this bastard is going after my community trying to erase me? No. No, this guy is over!
Kara: (shaken) Look, I know that you're hurting right now. And I know I'll never fully understand. But between us and the cops, we will make sure justice is served. Nia? Just give us a chance?
Nia: Fine. A few hours. Then I'm doing this my way.

Kara: I know sometimes being the good guy sucks. Especially when you know how easy it would be to get rid of someone so vile and full of hate. But, hey not doing that? That is what makes us different from them.

Dialogue Disasters

(Kara and William write a story together and we get the clunkiest message delivery ever.)
Kara: (reading) "Over 24 trans people have been murdered in this country in the past year."
William: The true number's likely much higher. Many of these attacks are misreported because victims are misgendered in police reports.

Dreamer: You make me sick.
Bigot: No, you make me sick you twisted freak! You show up on the scene one day tricking dudes into thinking you're this hot new superhero! The girl next door! But heroes are supposed to be virtuous and honest! And here you are - lying!


Two months earlier, a man named Richard Bates testing  a virtual ski vacation in Obsidian Platinum's beta became trapped inside the game when the End Simulation button failed to manifest.

Kelly Olsen was overseeing Bates' experience. She promised to report the error, before Bates was led away by Margot, the woman with Leviathan.

Supergirl and Dreamer fight a Dominator together, just before Kara's first date with William Day.

Brainiac-5 is distant yet formal to Dreamer when the DEO shows up to secure the scene after the fight.

Kara hasn't had a date in two and a half years.

According to the news, Lex Luthor just had dinner with Crown Prince Raakaan el-Farah of Qurac and, per his advice, Obsidian Platinum will soon be available in that nation.

Alex is still having issues training with the Martian Hand of the Soldier weapon.

Nia's roommate Yvette has a profile on a dating app called Upswipz. This was the same dating app made by the tech company Ray Palmer briefly worked for in L301.

Yvette has been seeing a man she met on-line exclusively for three weeks. She's going to meet him in person for the first time at a club that night and she wants Nia to go with her.

Yvette does not know that Nia is Dreamer or that Nia's ex "Barney" is a DEO agent and an alien from the future.

Yvette describes herself on her Upswipz's profile as Dreamer's best friend.

Kara and William go to a pool hall on their date. Kara claims she's only played 8-Ball one time in her life, but manages a near perfect shot.

Nia has a flash at the bar of blood being on her hands.

Yvette is approached by a man who somehow knows about Angus and doesn't take the hint when she asks about her being spoken for just before she gets a message from Angus telling her to meet her outside. She still seems to have no idea what is going on when the same man approaches her and talks about Angus standing her up.

Nia has another vision in the bathroom of Yvette being attacked.

The bigot leaves a note with Yvette that is addressed to Dreamer, saying the world doesn't want a trans superhero and that unless she quits he'll keep attacking trans women.

The police put together a sketch of what the bigot looks like.

Nia agrees to wait a few hours to give Kara and the police a chance to find the bigot before she goes off on her own.

Al, who runs Al's Dive Bar, comes to J'onn and asks for his help in finding his brother, Trevor, who has been missing for a week.

Trevor lives in Al's basement and spends a lot of time on-line.

Trevor's given name is Trevor Crane.

Al called the police but the only lead they found was an invitation on Trevor's computer to go to a weekend escape experience in the Virtual Las Vegas inside Obsidian Platinum. The police think Trevor is a hotel room somewhere on a VR party binge.

Trevor  apparently just started using Obsidian Platinum and apparently had met some friends somewhere called The Escape Palace.

Alex determines that Trevor must have paid cash for his hotel room since there's no credit card records of him checking in somewhere.

Kara asks Brainiac-5 to use the DEO's facial-recognition software to identity the bigot that is looking for Dreamer.

Kelly sets Alex up with a set of Obsidian Platinum lenses.

According to Kelly, Obsidian Platinum sets up a number of potential scenarios based on your own thoughts and desires before you enter the game world proper. In Alex's case, it appears that three of her scenarios involve being Supergirl, working as a doctor or having a baby.

There are no rules inside the Obsidian Platinum world.

The virtual Vegas experience has a virtual Siegfried and Roy show.

NPCs in Obsidian Platinum can be identified by the three lines on their neck. The NPCs are AIs run by the

Al says Trevor has spent that last few months in VR instead of spending time with him.

Al gives J'onn a watch that he gave him as a gift to mark their first year on Earth together. Trevor wore it every day until he got a smart watch, hoping J'onn can use it to psychically track him.

J'onn finds the names of two of Trevor's friends avatars on Obsidian Platinum.

One of the Obsidian Platinum users identifies The Escape Palace as a creepy haunted house located in the hills just outside Virtual Vegas.

Alice finds two of Trevor's friends trapped inside a flooding magician's tank, similar to the one she was stuck inside in 219.

Trevor's friends claim they were stuck inside the room for days. They say they last saw Trevor escape from their room with a new player named Richard, who had started hanging out with them.

Richard was the one who suggested everyone try the Escape Palace experience.

J'onn travels to Opal City, to a house he feels is connected to Trevor somehow.

The house belongs to Jennifer Bates, Richard Bate's wife, who was having a virtual affair with Trevor Crane.

Nia calls the detective working Yvette's case, but he hasn't made any progress.

Nia creates a profile on Upswpiez to get the bigot's attention.

Richard Bates is revealed to be a computer engineer who began exploring the technical specifics of how Obsidian Platinum worked.

Brainiac-5 is searching everything on the Internet relating to Dreamer and finds Nia's dating profile.

Alex breaks into one room in the virtual world and is cut off from Kelly in the real world.

Kara and William work on the story of Yvette's attack together.

Brainiac-5 calls Kara and tells her that he thinks Nia is trying to use herself as bait to attract the bigot.

The bigot's ID on Upswipez is GoodTimes1995.

The room Trevor is trapped in causes his virtual avatar to blow up like he was standing on a land mine and be reformed in a painful fashion, over and over. He says Richard Bates keeps coming back to the room to watch him explode over and over.

Alex is able to force Richard Bates out of the virtual world by shooting him with an imaginary taser.

J'onn tracks down Richard Bates in the real world, in Room 10 of the Coastline Motel.

After Bates tries attacking J'onn, his eyes become red-rimmed and he seems to hallucinate the world changing around J'onn.

Alex talks Trevor down and gets him to retake control of his body.

Trevor is at the National City Grand, Room 315.

According to Kelly, Alex should not have been able to blast Richard out of Obsidian Platinum. Alex says they can figure it out later.

Nia ambushes the bigot, who seems stunned that Dreamer came looking for him.

The bigot's name is Gregory Bauer.

Nia confesses to Kara that she's hurting far worse than she let on because of Brainiac-5 dumping her and like she's lost control of her life and going after the bigot was something she could do.

Kelly and Alex agree that virutal cheating counts as cheating and that virtual torture is real attempted murder.

Kelly says she believes her work can help people but agrees with Alex that VR technology should be regulated and the people allowed to program it limited.

Trevor comes to meet Alex in person and thank her for saving him.

Yvette decides to delete all her social media. She says she's tired of putting herself out there because she should have known better than to trust that most people could accept a trans woman of color or that she could find a man who loved her for her.

Brainaic-5 gives the detective handling Yvettte's case a list of people connected to a group Gregory Bauer was part of that was planning attacks on trans women on-line and identified several users who had claimed credit for several attacks.

Alex is still having trouble getting the Hand of the Soldier to work in the real world.

Alex gets a phone-call from her mother telling her that Jeremiah Danvers has been found dead.

Alex goes to Kara's apartment to tell her the news.

Margot is seen wheeling Richard Bates out of the hospital and placing him in a room with other Obsidian Platinum users - some of whom are somehow floating in mid-air.


Opal City

The Bottom Line

Were it not for some strong performances, this might instantly have been the worst episode of Supergirl ever filmed. As it stands, it definitely has one of the weaker scripts, and surprisingly this is more because of the clunky virtual reality storyline (which would have seemed silly and dated had it been an episode of VR.5) than the Dreamer-focused story about the problem of violence against trans women.

The script is just lazy in the middle parts, with William and Kara literally reading off the statistics about how many trans women have been murdered by bigots. This severely undercuts the good parts of the episode, such as where Nia takes Kara to task for trying to give her usual chirpy optimistic speech about how we can overcome these problems if we work together, neatly ignoring all the people who are actively working to discourage that kind of unity.

It's also bothersome that the lesson taken away from this episode is that you should just stay off social media and close yourself off from the world. Yet none of that is as painful as the tech jargon rattled off by people who don't understand it. The hearts of the writers may have been in the right place, but their heads were somewhere else entirely.

Batwoman Episode Guide: Season 1, Episode 15 - Off With Her Head

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


Alice leaves Dr. Cartwright trussed up for Kate, along with a note reading "Ask about Mommy Dearest." What follows is a horrifying recounting of how Cartwright's mother, "The Queen of Hearts," came to live with him and Mouse and how Beth Kane truly became Alice, which will forever change Kate, Jacob and Alice.


Mommie Dearest (Mable Cartwright seems to be modeled on an aging Joan Crawford, as is the abuse she inflicts on a young Beth Kane modeled on what Crawford did to her daughter. )


Debra Mooney is a wonderfully nightmarish Queen of Hearts.

Nicole Kang has a nice comedic moment as Mary is secretly searching Kate's office for the Bat Cave entrance without Luke knowing.

The scene in which Kate loses control and realizes what she's done may be Ruby Rose's best moment yet as Kate Kane. Those who thinks Rose is a bad actress who can't emote rather than an actress playing a character who hides her emotion would do well to watch this scene and learn.

Again, Rachel Skarsten gives a powerhouse performance during Alice's breakdowns, all without saying a word.


Alice's nightmare sequences are tensely directed, with amazing Elfmaneqsue music suggesting a world gone mad. The blue lighting and zombie make-up on Mable Cartwright are nice touches as well.

Bat Trivia

Dr. Cartwright makes reference to "an old colleague" named Dr. Jonathan Crane who created a chemical that made Mouse quite easily to manipulate. Kate identifies this as fear toxin - the preferred weapon of The Scarecrow - the criminal identity of Dr. Jonathan Crane.

The address of the old Cartwright house is said to be 614 Williams Street. This is likely a nod to Batwoman artist J.H. Williams III.


Unless a person is given a shot of adrenaline soon after being exposed to a massive quantity of Scarecrow's fear toxin, they will become incurably insane.

The carotid artery pulses steadily, unlike other arteries contained within the human neck.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Gabi has just given Kate and Beth matching garnet necklaces.)
Gabi Kane: Red is a very symbolic color. It's the color of love, but also the color of passion, courage, war. At one point or another you're going to have to wrestle with all of these emotions and what defines your character is how you balance them. So keep me close to your heart, because I'll be thinking of you when I wear mine. (pulling aside her hair to reveal her matching earrings)

(A thug is following after some woman, cat-calling her and refusing to leave her alone.)
Thug: Come on! I'm friendly!
(Batwoman drops between the thug and the woman.)
Batwoman: I'm not.

(As Kate and Jacob argue about what to do with Cartwright, he starts coughing as he wakes up.)
Rise and shine, you son of a bitch!
Cartwright: (confused) I was expecting Alice.
Jacob: Well you got one meaner. (grabbing the back of Cartwright's head) Do you want me to start with your nose or your knee-caps?

(Cartwright has been describing the abuse Alice suffered at his mother's hands to Jacob and Kate.)
Cartwright: I imagine... now,in the throes of Alice's madness, my mother is once again calling for her tea.
Kate: You threw Beth in a cellar and taught her how to carve up faces, but mommy is the bad guy? Nice try.

Kate: Is that why Alice told me to ask about Mommy Dearest? Because your mom was the one who broke her?
Cartwright: She wanted you to hear her story. And get you to kill me. She wanted to break you too.
Kate: You're wrong. She knows I would never kill anyone.
Cartwright: Because... you're so different?
Kate: We are different.
Cartwright: Then be merciful. Give me water. I'll tell you where she is.

(Mary is advising Kate on how to treat a neck wound over the phone.)
Mary: Okay. It's not the carotid artery, but you still need to close the wound. Do you have a needle and thread?
Kate: Uh... I have a staple gun?
Mary: (wincing) Wouldn't be my first choice.

Kate: I'm offering you a free pass out of here.
Cartwright: And the second I tell you where she is, what's to stop you from killing me?
Kate: Me. Because I'm not a killer.
Cartwright: Yet.
Kate: You don't know me. So let me tell you who I am. I am everything you stripped away from my sister. Hope. Honor. Integrity. I'm what she would have been if not for you. And I'm giving you an out. Tell me where she is.

Alice: Where's Kate? Waiting outside with her hand on the door?
Jacob: She's with Cartwright. She was the one who got him to tell us where you were.
Alice: And you came running?  Why?
Jacob: Because I care. And to keep you hanging on to whatever sense of sanity you have left.
Alice: (smiling slightly) Touching. Well, I take it if Cartwright's still alive he hasn't gotten to the part of the story about Mommy Dearest.
Jacob: Oh, he told us everything. His mother sounded like a treat.
Alice: (confused) His mother? (smiling weakly) Is that what you think this is about?

Kate: Did you shoot a woman in a motel parking lot who you believed to be Alice?
Cartwright: She... looked just like her. The face... The eyes.
Kate: Of course you did! (sweeping the glasses off a table)  Of course it was you!
Cartwright: I thought it was her. Even wore a necklace that matched those damned earrings.
Kate: (quietly) What did you just say? What necklace matched what earrings?
Cartwright: The ones my mother so coveted that caused all the problems.

Kate (Voice Over): I thought I'd found the balance, Bruce. But I was wrong. I crossed the line. And now I'm the very thing I've been fighting against.


Gabi Kane had a set of garnet earrings which matched the necklaces her daughters were given for their bat mitzvah.

Alice leaves Dr. Cartwright tied up by the Bat-Signal for Kate, along with a note reading "Ask about Mommy Dearest."

Kate takes Dr. Cartwright to her bar and contacts Jacob.

Kate tells Jacob that Alice is still alive. She does not try to explain the alternate universe Beth to him, saying that it doesn't matter if she was a Skin Pirate impostor or whatever Jacob tells himself to understand it.

Alice finds Mouse in the basement of the old Cartwright house - the one that used to belong to "The Queen of Hearts.".

"The Queen of Hearts" was the nickname Alice and Mouse gave to Mouse's grandmother, Mable Cartwright, who came to live with them after she proved unable to care for herself anymore and required an oxygen tank to live.

By this point in time, Dr. Cartwright was addressing Beth as Alice and Beth was repressing all memory of her old life, saying she couldn't remember where she'd gotten her bat mitzvah necklace from when questioned about it by Mable Cartwright.

Kate reveals to Jacob that Dr. Cartwright was posing as Dr. Campbell.

Jacob says they can't go to the police because their story sounds insane and the only person who can collaborate any of it is Alice, who everyone thinks is dead.

There's bad blood between Jacob and the GCPD Police Commissioner ever since Jacob was freed from jail based on Dr. Campbell's testimony.

Cartwright confesses he spent the last six years posing as Dr. Campbell.

Kate asks Cartwright about the phrase "Mommy Dearest" and Cartwright begins to tell Jacob and Kate about what happened when his mother came to live with him, Alice and Mouse.

Mouse has become unbalanced from the fear gas exposure and hates Alice now, having bought into his father's lies about her being dead and trying to destroy their family. He claims that Alice was ultimately the thing he was most afraid of.

Mouse leaves Alice tied up and exposes her to the fear gas as he makes his escape.

Alice begins to hallucinate Mable Cartwright when first exposed to the fear gas.

Luke goes to Mary's clinic for the first time, after Mary contacts him, saying she thinks she has a lead on Beth's killer.

Mary's lead is a man named Mad Dog who saw her flyer, who came into the clinic for a flu shot. He claims to have seen a car matching the description of the one Luke saw with the same plate numbers in a junk yard at 30 and Green.

Dr. Cartwright tries to bargain for his freedom in exchange for Alice's location. Both Kate and Jacob refuse the bargain, even as Cartwright points out that Alice could become even more dangerous if she isn't found soon.

Alice's flashback visions reveal that she was a slave to Mable Cartwright for years and was made to call her "Your Majesty."

Mable Cartwright claimed she was beautiful when she was young, but she got married to a man who didn't really love her.

Mable Cartwright was physically abusive to Alice, throwing things at her or striking her if her tea was too sweat and burning her hands if her tea was too hot. She also forced Alice to go out in the cold without a coat to a pantry in the same building as Cartwright's workshop to get certain foods she wanted. She also made Alice keep her hair cut short because she was too pretty with long hair.

There was one refrigerator in Cartwright's workshop he kept locked and told Alice not to go near.

Cartwright tells Kate and Jacob about how his mother abused Alice, downplaying his own role in abusing her.

Kate gives Jacob Cartwright's cell-phone and suggests he use it to track where Cartwright had been. Jacob leaves to do that.

Cartwright asks for a glass of water. He manages to get a hand free and breaks the glass, attempting to cut his own throat with it.

Mary and Luke find the car Mad Dog told them about in the junk yard. Inside the trunk, they find a rifle with a bullet of the same caliber that killed Beth.still in the chamber.

Kate calls Mary using an unlisted number and identifies herself as Batwoman, asking her for advice on how to treat a slit throat.

Alice hallucinates Kate coming to rescue her as Batwoman but being stopped by Jacob. The two fight with Jacob finally convincing Batwoman that Alice isn't worth saving.

Alice's real worst fear is being abandoned by her family and left alone forever.

Kate offers to let Cartwright go if he tells her where Alice is. Cartwright doesn't believe her, saying there is nothing to stop her from killing him once he tells her what she wants to know. Kate says there is - her honor, which is what she believes separates her from Alice now.

Kate calls Jacob and tells him Alice is at 614 Williams Street.

Mary tries to search for the Bat Cave entrance while Luke tracks the license plate number they found.

Luke matches the plate of the car to Mable Cartwright, after checking inactive license plate entries.

Alice breaks a window and is in the verge of slitting her throat when Jacob finds her and gives her an adrenaline shot.

Alice tells Jacob that when she wrote the note about "Mommy Dearest" she didn't mean Mable Cartwright; she was referring to her own mother, Gabi Kane.

Luke and Mary tell Kate that Mable Cartwright's car was used by the man who killed Beth and that the murder weapon was in the trunk of the car.

Kate grills Cartwright on whether or not he killed a woman he thought was Alice. Cartwright confesses to the killing, saying that the woman he shot looked like Alice and even had a necklace which matched the earrings his mother wanted that caused all the problems.

It is revealed that the incident which finally turned Beth Kane into Alice came one day when Mable Cartwright was showing off a fancy set of garnet earrings, which she said were a gift from her son. Alice recognized them as Gabi Kane's earrings that matched her daughters' necklaces and finally remembered where her necklace came from.

Alice opened the forbidden fridge and found Gabi Kane's severed head, being preserved.

Alice tells Jacob the same story Catwright tells Kate; about him keeping Gabi Kane's severed head in a fridge.

Cartwright admitted he was using the head as leverage to keep his mother pacified, promising that someday he would give her a beautiful, young woman's face again. He said he couldn't use actually Gabi Kane's face, however, because she was too well known as a Gotham City socialite, but he did finally give his mother Gabi's earrings.

Mable Cartwright was Alice's first kill.  Alice killed her by turning Mable's oxygen tank into an improvised flamethrower.

Kate loses her temper and strangles Catwright after he says that Gabi Kane was a beautiful woman and it would be a shame for her face to go to waste.

Mary and Luke look up the fate of Mable Cartwright and confirm that she seemingly died in a house fire 7 years earlier - just before her son disappeared and replaced Dr. Campbell.

Kate sends Sophie a text, saying she needs someone to talk to.

The episodes ends with Kate, Alice and Jacob preparing to dispose of Cartwright's body.

The Bottom Line

A deeply disturbing ride from beginning to end that manages to convey more true horror than many horror movies and series. Brilliant on all levels and powerfully acted by the entire ensemble. Perhaps the best episode of the series so far.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Legends of Tomorrow: Season 5, Episode 7 - Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac

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


Ray plans a romantic evening for himself and Nora, during which he can finally propose to her. Unfortunately, the night is spoiled by the unexpected arrival of a recently resurrected Damian Darhk and Nora's desire to impress her demonically demented father. Will Ray play along and not reveal their romance when Nora starts pretending she's dating John Constantine? Can Sara be kept from spoiling the evening by killing Damien Darhk? And how does all this time in to Nora's current charge and Ray's favorite childhood program?


Mister Roger's Neighborhood, various wacky sitcoms centered around the protagonists lying to impress some important person during a fancy dinner and classic Western melodrama (Gary being tied to the train-tracks) 


It's hard to pick out a single moment in the episode, but the non-verbal acting between Courtney Ford and Brandon Routh as Nora sees the engagement ring, realizes what happened and questions Ray about it with only a few facial expressions is amazing.


The script is amazing, balancing the farcical aspects of the story perfectly.

The soundless wedding sequence is beautiful and the musical accompaniment amazing.

Trivia Of Tomorrow

The goggles and jacket that John wear as part of his Antarctic explorer outfit are taken from Leonard Snart's Captain Cold costume.


The Loom of Fate has the power to change a person's life story without changing the timeline and causing a paradox.

Damien Darhk was able to track Nora by using the location sharing feature on her PalmerTech watch.

Zari is able to scour the metadata from the troll's video to find where they live.

Nora knows a potion that can permanently strip a warlock of their powers.

Damien says that even with the Loom of Fate assembled, you'd need a Fate to put it back together and operate it.

Dialogue Triumphs

(Gary taste-tests the soup. Suddenly, he fades away rapidly and the soup spoon falls into the soup pot. Gary just as suddenly fades back into existence.)
Gary: Did I just fritz out of existence?

(Damien has just shown up on the doorstep of Constantine's mansion.)
Nora: How are you?! You.... are an Encore.
Damien: Look, all I know is I'm up here right now as some soul-harvesting pyramid scheme. Honestly? I can't keep up with these Millennials and all their newfangled world domination plans.
Nora: So you're doing the whole villain thing again?
Damien: Well, no. I mean... it's, it's part of my parole agreement.

Zari: (reading one of Mick's books) This is extremely pornographic.
Mick: Thank you.
Zari: You're welcome.

(John walks by Nate in the Waverider hallway, wearing a heavy winter parka, gloves and goggles over his usual trenchcoat, while dragging a sled. Nate looks at him confused.)
Nate: Where are you going, Captain Cold?
John: Antarctica, of course.
Nate: Yeah? That place is the worst.
John: Well, I'm following up on the lead that you...
(John sees the confusion on Nate's face and immediately puts two and two together.)
Bloody shapeshifters!

Nora: Stop it! Both of you!
Damien: This vagrant is trespassing!
John: This is my house, you plonker!
Damien: Your house?!
Nora: (forcing a smile) Well... technically..... it IS his house. His name is on the title. (backing towards John, sliding her arm through his and taking his left hand with her right hand.) But in practice... it's our house.
(Nora gabs John's faces and kisses him deeply. Damien is stunned. So is John.)
Nora: (breathy) Right babe?
(John glances to the side room, where Sara motions at him and whispers "Just go with it.")
John: Right love. My love. Because we are indeed, uh... together.

(Nora and Damien refuse to get along after being sent into Mister Parker's Cul-De-Sac)
Ray: Well! I think this is going to be tougher than we thought, kids. Why don't we travel to the land of Make-Em-Ups, with Gary The Unspeakable Train Abomination?

(Damien goes to the front door and grabs his coat from the rack. Sara comes up behind him.)
Taking off already?
Damien: (chuckles) Oh, I hate prolonged goodbyes. I'd rather slip out while everyone's in there, still having a good time.
Sara: So where are you going?
Damien: (sighs) I was given this... Encore under certain conditions. I was ordered to cause pain and misery and damn more souls to Hell.
Sara: But instead you decided to check in on your Nora-doll.
Damien: I just wanted to make sure that my little girl is okay. And she is. (smiles) Thanks to the help of you idiots. Plus... Astra's going to recall me soon to an eternity of torture. I didn't want to bum my daughter out with all of that on her wedding night.
(Sara says nothing. Damien offers her his hand. She doesn't take it.)
Damien: I know you'll never forgive me. To tell you the truth, I won't either.
(Sara still says nothing. Damien sighs and looks sad for a moment as he exits out the front door. It's then that Sara looks to the umbrella stand and realizes Genghis Khan's sword isn't there. Sara runs to the front door, just in time to see Damien's body crumble to ashes in a flash of green fire as he stabs himself with the blade. Sara picks up the sword and looks up into the night sky, as the wind blows all that remains of Damien Darhk away.)


The episode's opening scene takes place five hours after the destruction of Mallus in 318.

The 2018 version of Gary Green is attacked by an unseen figure while cleaning up the Beebo mess after the battle with Mallus.

John tries to convince Sara to send the Legends after the Loom of Fate, arguing that if they can stop Astra from ever going to Hell, it will stop the Encores.

Charlie says that reassembling the Loom is too risky.

Sara agrees that putting the Loom back together is too risky and they're doing just fine containing the Encores right now.

Sara still has Genghis Khan's sword from 506.

Nate, Behrad and Gary are at John's house, helping Ray prepare his proposal to Nora.

Ray hides his engagement ring for Nora in a chocolate mousse.

Nora is still attached to Pippa from 506.

John has begun chewing sunflower seeds in order to stop smoking.

Nate tells John that there was an explorer named Ernest Shackelton who was obsessed with finding the Loom of Fate and was convinced that part of it was buried at the South Pole. This is later revealed to be Charlie disguised as Nate.

Mick is locked in his room, arguing with a troll on-line who is trashing Rebecca Silver.

Zari is still on the Waverider and is locked in the bathroom, exfoliating in preparation for a new makeover idea.

Sara puts Zari in charge of helping Mick deal with his troll problem.

Gary in 2020 is briefly erased from existence thanks to someone in 1874 tying the Gary from 2018 to a train track.

Sara and Ava rescue 2018 Gary.

Gary reveals that he was attacked by Damien Darhk, who stole his Time Courier.

Damaien Darhk spent two years in Hell but was resurrected and sent back to where he died in 1874.

Nora has a PalmerTech watch.

Nora lies and says she's a master sorceress and that Constantine's house is hers.

Nora asks Ray to keep Pippa happy and distracted so that she doesn't summon her to grant her wishes.

Zari suggests that Mick send an autographed Rebecca Silver book to his troll to win them over, saying every troll is just a disgruntled fan who wants attention.

Ray decides to show Pippa his favorite show when he was a kid; Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac.

Pippa doesn't like Mr. Parker's Cul-De-Sac but agrees to give it a shot after Ray pays her $20.

Ava and Sara agree to try and take out Damien Darhk without Nora finding out after Gideon tells them Damien is at Constantine's house in 2020.

Gideon says she has a message for Sara from Wild Dog.  Sara tells Ava it is nothing.

Zari has never read a Rebecca Silver book before.

The troll makes a video burning the autographed book.

Zari is able to hack the video to find out where the troll lives.

Mick's troll turns out to be Lita - his old girlfriend Allie's 16-year-old daughter. She is also Mick's daughter, from Allie and Mick's 2004 one-night stand in 504.

Nora convinces Ava and Sara to pretend to be her henchman for a night so she can make peace with her dad.

Damien identifies Genghis Khan's sword as 11th century Mongolian in design.

Nora puts Genghis Khan's sword in an umbrella stand by the front door of the mansion.

Sara ignores another call from Wild Dog on her phone, which Ava notices.

Gary agrees to make the anti-magic potion and slip it into Damien Darhk's food so that he'll be powerless and he can be allowed to live as a harmless mortal man.

John was planning to go to Antarctica until he runs into Nate in the hallway and realizes he was conned by Charlie.

Ray had a five-course meal planned for his romantic dinner with Nora. Six if you count the cocktails.

Ava answers Sara's phone and talks to Wild Dog, while she's taking a course out to Nora and Damien.

John returns home and gets into a brief magical duel with Damien, who goes to investigate when John calls out for Gary in the foyer.

John and Damien have never met before but they know each other by reputation.

Nora tells Damien that she's dating John and the house actually is his house. John immediately plays along with this after Nora kisses him and Sara signals him while Damien's back is turned.

Pippa tells Ray that it's pretty clear Nora is trying to hide him from her dad.

Mister Palmer said everyone should be free to love who they want without being ashamed in Season 8, Episode 15.

Lita is named after singer/guitarist Lita Ford of the Runaways.

Allie did look up Mick when she found out she was pregnant, but he was in jail at the time.

Allie finally told Lita who her father was when word got out that Mick Rory was Rebecca Silver.

Mick erases Allie and Lita's memory of his visit.

John tries to grill Damien for information on the Loom of Fate.

Sara got a job offer to work in Star City in some capacity with Rene Ramirez and hadn't discussed this with Ava.

Sara claims she was going to discuss it with Ava, but that she was making arrangements for both of them to move to Star City.

Damien had a strict "no-fraternization" policy for all of his henchmen.

Nate and Behrad convince Ray that he should confront Damien with the truth about him and Nora.

According to Damien, there is no chocolate in Hell.

Ava gets the mousse with the engagement ring in it.

John takes the ring and proposes to Nora.

Nora refuses the engagement and finally tells her father the truth.

Damien realizes Nora tried poisoning him and blames her hero friends.

Charlie, Nate and Behrad go with Pippa to Constantine's house after Pippa wishes them there.

Pippa wishes everyone into the reality of Mister Parker's Cul De Sac.

John makes reference to the events of 408 and how Sara was a puppet in that reality as well.

Sara says she was only considering the job in Star City because she thought Ava wanted to settle down somewhere normal.

Ava said she wanted that before but she's having a lot of fun on the Waverider now. Sara says that she'll turn down Wild Dog's job offer then.

Charlie explains she destroyed the Loom of Fate to keep her sisters from controlling everyone's lives.

John points out that with the Loom pieces in one universe there's nothing to stop her sisters from assembling the Loom of Fate and using it for the wrong reasons.

John promises Charlie that he'll help her destroy the Loom of Fate once and for all if she'll help him find it and use it to save Astra Logue. Charlie agrees.

Behrad appears as a bike-messenger who delivers a Safe Space Sombrero that makes it so that only the person wearing the Sombrero can speak.

Damien and Nora work out their issues with some honest talk, after Nora explains that being a fairy godmother and helping kids is her choice - not something Ray or anyone else forced on her, unlike everything Damien ever did forcing her to become an evil sorceress.

Damien admits he's been an ass and says he is proud of Nora.

Nate appears as the smiling sun in the Mister Palmer's Cul-De-Sac world.

Pippa releases Nora from her service.

Gary is no longer afraid of trains.

Nora accepts Ray's proposal and suggests they get married that night while her father is there.

Gary is, as he asked last week, the flower boy for the wedding.

Nate acts as Ray's Best Man.

Sara conducts the wedding ceremony, presumably in her capacity as a Captain.

Damien tells Ray that he appreciates that he makes Nora happy and asks him to support her. He asks Ray to leave the Legends because Nora needs to be in the real world to do her job.

Mick says that the fact that Lita isn't already in jail at her age proves she's better off without him. Zari disagrees.

Damien tells Nora he's going to give up the evil-doing and return to Hell to serve his punishment.

Damien tries to make his peace with Sara. She refuses to shake his hand.

Damien kills himself with Genghis Khan's sword.


Salvation, Dakota Territory - 1874
Northumberland County, UK - 2020
Central City - 2020

The Bottom Line

Darn near perfect in every respect and a fitting swan song for Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk.  Darhk's a polarizing figure in Arrowverse history. Many disliked the jokey tone of the character in Arrow. Many disliked him being brought back to be a villain twice in Legends of Tomorrow. Still, this episode does a good job paying tribute to both sides of Damien - the comic relief baddy and the sinister sorcerer - and the whole ensemble get at least one moment to shine throughout.

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 14 - Death of the Speed Force

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


Wally West returns home for a visit, with a number of new Speed Force tricks at the same time Cisco returns home from Atlantis. Unfortunately, the joy of moment is short-lived after Wally reveals the real reason for his return: something is wrong with the Speed Force and he thinks Barry is responsible. Meanwhile, Iris' doppelganger continues her dark work as Nash discovers the source of his strange visions of other versions of Harrison Wells.


The Flash comics of Joshua Williamson (idea of Speed Force dying) and Mark Waid (Wally's new Zen Speed shtick is borrowed from Max Mercury)


The CGI of the helicopter in the first opening shot is clunky.

Cisco says that any doppelgangers who came to Earth-Prime from a Pre-Crisis Earth would be dead by now because of neurological degeneration, yet there are a number of alien doppelgangers living peacefully in National City in Supergirl, including an alternate version of Al the Bartender.

While part of me wants to laugh at how Barry seemingly doesn't find it all suspicious that Iris suddenly wants to live a normal life after she lectured him about not holding her back from living a life of danger as an investigative reporter instead of saying We Are The Flash, this is a rather glaring plot hole and it is weird that Barry doesn't notice the sudden shift in Iris' priorities.


Keiynan Lonsdale gets some of his best material ever as Wally West in this episode and rises to the challenge of making some potentially awkward speeches work.


The effects work of Wally dissembling the helicopter in midair is fantastic.

The lighting and music used to convey the warped Speed Force are fantastic.

Flash Facts

The concept of the Speed Force dying seems to have been taken from the current run of The Flash comics written by Joshua Williamson, though the execution is quite different. Williamson's cosmology had the Speed Force being used to repel three other energies - the Strength Force, the Sage Force and the Still Force - whose existence somehow threatened the Speed Force and caused it to become less powerful.

Mention is made of Santa Prisca - the island nation where Batman villain Bane was born in the comics.

The opening scene where Wally dissembles a moving vehicle in order to slow its momentum and decrease the damage when it impacts is a classic Wally West stunt from the comics.

At one point, it seems that Wally has several time remnants helping him to disassemble the helicopter. In the comics, Bart Allen (aka Impulse) was able to create temporary clones of himself using the Speed Force. While it is uncertain that is what is happening here (it's possible we just see Wally moving so quick in such a short space that it looks like there's more than one of him) it's still a possibility worth mentioning.

Wally's new zen speed attitude seems to have been inspired by Max Mercury - a character Mark Waid created during his run on The Flash who was retconned to be an obscure earlier Old West speedster hero called Quicksilver who was published by Quality Comics. Waid's background had Max Mercury being the hero Quicksilver and then traveling through time erratically trying to bond with the Speed Force. Max had a different approach to his powers and he mentored the Wally West Flash in new ways to manipulate the Speed Force, similar to what Wally does in this episode.

Cisco is said to have just come from Atlantis, which now exists on Earth-Prime. It is unclear, however, if it is an above-ground island (as it was on Earth-2 Pre-Crisis) or if it is a sunken city as it usually is in the comics or the Aquaman movie.


Based on her single joint T-cell receptors, Barry determines that Maria Volkova was 110 years old when she died.

The kinetic energy level readings of Maria Volkova's body are almost 0, as if someone removed it all. This is how the new Turtle's powers function - by creating potential energy force fields which age people and objects in seconds by draining the kinetic energy around them.

Cisco reworks the Velocity-X formula into something that can speed-up Turtle II and neutralize her powers.

Cisco says that any doppelgangers who made it to Earth-Prime from the now dead Earths would be dead by now due to neurological degeneration.

Barry uses a tachyon enhancer to enhance his speed so he can physically enter the Speed Force

Dialogue Triumphs

Wally: Barry, you don't get it! We are all connected! When I used to talk to the Speed Force, sometimes it would show me visions of different futures, different possibilities of how things could go. There was always one common thread; there was always a speedster that would pick up our mantles, like a chain of lightning stretching through centuries.

Wally: We can't punish ourselves for the mistakes we've made. That's a closed door. But we can take responsibility for our actions, no matter how great the obstacle to overcome.
Barry: Amala teach you that too?
Wally: No. You did.

Dialogue Disasters

Kamilla: Why is it every time I come to visit, all hell is breaking loose? (It's hard to say what's worse - the meta line or the muted delivery.)


Reference is made to Santa Prisca - an island nation which was on Cisco's map in 610.

The out of control helicopter is said to be on a trajectory to crash into the new Seaver Building. The old Seaver Building was blown up by Ragdoll in 505.

Wally has gained such fine control of his powers that he can shape the lighting generated by his aura. He demonstrates this by creating a lotus flower - a symbol of purity and renunciation.

Wally is confirmed to have joined the Peace Corps, since leaving the crew of The Waverider.

Wally is continuing to study Buddhism under Bhikkhuni Amala - a Buddhist nun assigned to his camp in the Peace Corps.

Eva is able to use her control of the mirror to show Iris Wally's reunion with her family. It strains her to do this for more than a minute.

Iris says that she's been trapped in the mirror dimension for weeks at this point, but it seems longer.

Eva says that her husband used to come to her mirror every day to try and find a way to get her out before he stopped coming. She says she isn't sure if he just forgot about her or decided to move on.

Eva says she hasn't touched her husband in 72 months, which is 312 weeks, which is 2,190 days.

The fake Iris is shown to go blank and mirror Eva's shaky hands as Eva fixates on repeating the phrase "2,190 days."

Cisco returns, having just returned to Central City from Atlantis.

Atlantis exists on the new Earth-Prime, much as it was confirmed to exist on Earth-2 in 205 as an above-ground island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. It is unclear based on Cisco's description in this episode, however, if Atlantis is above the sea level or a sunken city, as in the DCEU.

Atlantis smells like fish and the smell tends to stick to your clothing, even after leaving it.

Nash moved into the office across from Cecile's new office in the same office building as Ralph Dibnt's detective agency and the Central City Citizen's offices. He is apparently noisy and continually distracts Cecile from her work, which has her now working nights.

Barry suddenly trips while trying to clean up after the party using super speed. When Wally asks if this is the first "hiccup" he's had with his powers, Barry recalls the flare up he had during 613 and his slowed healing in 611.

Wally says he feels something wrong with the Speed Force.

Wally learned how to send his consciousness into the Speed Force.  Barry says he has done this before, but it usually comes to him and he sees it as his mother. Wally recalls this from 323 but says for him it is more like he hears a voice directing his actions but he hasn't heard the voice in months.

The Russian woman Wally saved from the helicopter crash is killed by a woman named Frida who seemingly stops time around her and then drains all the life out of her body, leaving a dried-out corpse behind once time restarts.

The Russian woman is formally identified as Maria Volkova - a Russian socialite.

Maria's killer is identified as Mrs. Frida Novikov aka Turtle II.

Like the original Turtle from 210, Frida has the ability to drain the potential kinetic energy from those around her, seemingly slowing down time. Frida has the additional power to generate focused force fields that drain all the potential kinetic energy from a person or object, causing people to age to death in seconds or objects to rot or decay, like the helicopter from earlier in the episode.

Frida Novikov was part of a drug ring in Central City. She was caught by Joe West and deported back to Russia.

Cisco heard several stories about Turtle II while traveling the world and came home to Central City hoping to learn more about her.

The Mandaorian is apparently a series in the Arrowverse as Nash refers to Cisco as the Ciscolorian.

Nash asks Cisco if he say any alternate versions of people he knew while traveling around the Earth.

Cisco says it would be impossible for anyone from the alternate realities to have survived.

Nash and Cisco get into a fight when Cisco refuses to drop work on Velocity-X to help Nash with exploring the possibility of doppelgangers surviving the Crisis.

The Iris mirror clone tells Wally about the fight Barry had with the Speed Force in 607.

Cisco picked Kamilla up a state-of-the-art camera from Quimby Labs in Germany. She uses it to take a picture of Iris and Wally.

Iris tells Camilla to delete the photo, as they shouldn't be putting pictures of newspaper employees anywhere Black Hole might be able to find them.

Wally takes Barry into The Speed Force and they determine that it is dying.

Wally says that the Speed Force sometimes gave him visions of the future and he saw the heroes who followed after him and Barry, including Nora West-Allen and his own children and grandchildren.

Wally refuses to take Barry back into the Speed Force.

Nash is attacked by a spectral figure with glowing red eyes like the Reverse Flash.

Barry uses a tachyon enhancer to enhance his speed so he can physically enter the Speed Force

It is revealed that Barry killed the Speed Force by exposing it to the power of The Spectre in A808 when he had Oliver Queen help him get into the Speed Force to go back to the dawn of time to battle the Anti-Monitor.

The Speed Force forgives Barry for his actions, since they were necessary to save the universe.

From what Wally can tell, he and Barry have a residual amount of Speed Force energy contained within their bodies, but once that power is gone, that's it.

Maria Volkova was one of two CCPD informants who led the police to Frida Novikov. Joe has the other informant in protective custody, figuring Turtle II is out for revenge.

Caitlin calls Cisco out on not asking for help working on the Velocity-X counter to Turtle II's powers and suggest she work on it while he go talk to Nash.

Wally finds Barry in the time vault.

Barry tells Wally how The Spectre's power killed the Speed Force.

Wally forgives Barry for what he did and apologizes for losing his temper.

Turtle II ambushes Joe West at CCPD headquarters.

A news story visible while time is frozen notes that fish stocks are at the lowest level of the decade.

Cisco is attacked by the Reverse Flash in Thawne's body. Fortunately, Thawne cannot access the Speed Force.

Cisco is saved by Cecile, who surprises Thawne with a stun-gun while he is strangling Cisco. She sensed Thawne's hatred from across the hall.

Caitlin completes the new Velocity-X formula.

The fastest route between STAR Labs and the CCPD Headquarters require Barry and Wally phase through the Central City Public Adjusters office.

Barry is able to distract Turtle II while Joe injects her with the Velocity-X formula.

Barry tales the Iris clone about how he killed the Speed Force. She tries to comfort him by saying it isn't really his fault and that maybe they could have a normal life.

Thawne, in Nash's body, is contained in The Pipeline. He says he wants to kill Barry, his family and his friends in that order.

Thawne says that he felt the Speed Force die and that once Barry has lost his speed completely, he'll make his move.

Wally leaves to move to the next Peace Corps project . Before he goes, he tells Joe that there's something wrong with Iris.

Barry decides to build his own artificial Speed Force, like Thawne did when he created the Negative Speed Force.

Kamilla realizes that the Iris clone is fake after looking at the picture of her she took through her new camera's viewfinder.

Kamilla is shot by the Iris clone with the mirror gun is apparently sent to the Mirror World.


The Speed Force.

Untelevised Adventures

All of Cisco's adventures traveling the world over the past few episodes, most recently having traveled to Atlantis.

The Boomerang Factor

It seems really weird that Wally thinks something is off about the Iris clone but Barry seems totally clueless his wife has been replaced by a doppelganger.

The Bottom Line

A rather lackluster episode which treats what should be major events - the death of the Speed Force and the return of the Reverse Flash - as relatively minor subplots compared to Barry and Wally fighting and Turtle II. There's way too many subplots and the best thing I can say about this episode is that the Iris clone (who is even more annoying than the original) was largely absent from it.

Starman Plays Fallout 2 - Part 39

In which we get our just reward for defeating the raiders and go on to slaughter a cave full of giant mole rats for the XPs. Shame we still can't find that damned voice modulator for Vault 13, but we have water chips for days!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Starman Plays Fallout 2 - Part 38

In which we (finally) kick some raider arse. Unfortunately, though we defeat the raiders fairly easily, we also confront an enemy that cannot be overcome - lag!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 5, Episode 14 - The Bodyguard

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


When an anti-technology activist threatens Andrea Rojas' life and the launch of Obsidian Platinum, Lex is all too eager to appoint Supergirl to act as Andrea's personal bodyguard, as he attempts to further endear himself to Gemma Cooper and Lena pushes forward with Project Non Nocere and the first human test subjects.


The 1992 film The Bodyguard, Skyrim (the opening VR sequence with the viking woman fighting a dragon)


The "meet cute" aspects of this episode where William starts to win over Kara despite her earlier rejection ring false. It's presented as charming that he found out how she liked her lattees instead of creepy that he arranged to "just happen" to run into her and Nia with drinks on hand. It should be a red flag, especially given that Kara already turned him down flat once and a really "nice guy" wouldn't have pulled the "act like an asshole" and "talk down to coworkers" act he pulled in his first few appearances.

Why does Kara just now realize William's commitment to the truth and putting himself in harms way in the name of journalistic integrity? They discussed that point in earlier episodes.(The writers have to justify her sudden romantic interest somehow.)

How do Alex and J'onn know which farm on Route 89 to investigate after Brainiac-5 tells them there's nothing out there?


Willie Garson's surprise return as Steve Lomeli is a brief but solid performance that instantly conveys the horror of Lena's actions.


The effects work for this episode is quite good, particularly the sequence in which J'onn saves an elevator full of people.

Super Trivia

The Chlorophyllian race introduced in this episode seems to be partly inspired by the Green Lantern villain Star Sapphire. The pink energy utilized by Chlorophyllians is similar to the power radiated by the Star Sapphire Corps in the comics, which is meant to be violet-tinged, but their energy is usually colored pink. The Star Sapphires also draw their power from love and the Chlorphyillian terrorist is inspired by her love of her dead husband, who has the unlikely name of Todd Sapphire.


The new Obsidian Platinum lenses have a 150 petaflop bio-link interface.

Postulating that the aliens behind Leviathan are a techno-organic species from the same solar system as Krypton, Brainiac-5 says that injecting the anti-Immortality code into their system would be impossible without weakening them first. This requires finding their version of Kryptonite or somehow gaining access to their home base.

Chlorophyllians are a peaceful alien race that absorb sunlight through their skin in order to accelerate the growth of their crops. They radiate a pink energy which is impossible to track, but can't discharge this energy in the form of electricity without mechanical assistance.

Brainiac-5 calculates there is a 93.2% certainty that no one will ever invite him to Thanksgiving dinner ever again because of his actions going behind the backs of his friends.

The gauntlets utilized by the Chrlorphyllian allow it to absorb any kind of energy, including the bio-energy of other aliens, and expel that energy from the body in the form of electricity.

The Obsidian Platinum cloud has a fail safe. If  power is drained from Obsidian North's generators, it draws power off of National City's grid to ensure the launch takes place. Unfortunately, since the city is run from a Luthor Power Core system that acquires power as quickly as it is lost, it could cause most of the transformers in the city to explode as well as a city-wide blackout.

Dialogue Triumphs

Lex: (To Lena) They think you're turning into me. Or at least Mother. (reassuringly) But you haven't. (smirking) Tragically.

Steve: It was Toby. I thought was going to hit me! When he asked me if I was okay... I felt... I felt something I'd never felt before. For...for the first time ever, I wanted to be the bully. Fear is the only emotion I've known for most of my life. But then you came along and I... finally felt hope. But now... all I feel is... a  hunger for revenge. For violence. It's trapped inside me. It's trying to claw its way out! I can't get rid of it. It's so much worse than anything that Toby ever did to me!

Steve: You really are the hero people say you are.
Lena: If this works, the world won't need heroes.

Dialogue Disasters

Lena: Before Crisis when I tried to use Myriad, she assumed that I was trying to mind-control people. (That's because you were!)


One Obsidian Platinum scenario allows an elderly woman in a wheelchair to feel like she is young, a warrior, riding a horse and fighting a dragon.

The new Obsidian Platinum lenses are so realistic that people can touch, taste and smell things in VR.

Alex hasn't gone out in public without a gun in eight years and doesn't feel comfortable without a sidearm.

Kelly brings Alex Hot Pockets, macaroni and cheese and dumplings for lunch on her first day working at The Tower with J'onn.

William shows up with lattes for Kara and Nia. He made a point of finding out their favorite drink orders.

Nia likes her lattees sugar-free and vanilla flavored.

Kara likes her lattees double-caff, double-foam with caramel and mocha.

As the episode opens, Obsidian Platinum is due to go live at 9 PM PST. This is just a little over 11 hours from when Andrea enters the lobby at Obsidian North, making it just before 10 AM when the assassin tries to kill her.

The assassin tries to hurriedly accelerate then drop the elevator Andrea is in. As they do this, the elevator car is surrounded by pink lightning.

Supergirl saves Andrea from falling to her death.

An Anti-Obsidian manifesto claiming credit for Andrea's death arrives at CatCo two minutes after the attack, threatening more deaths if Obsidian Platinum's launch is not cancelled. Andrea refuses to do this, despite the danger to her people.

The Maladorian Dendroasp from 505 makes an appearance, with Lena now successfully getting the aggressive alien animal to play with a puppy.

Lena makes reference to the events of 507 and her using Myriad in her first attempt to launch Non Nocere.

Thus far, all of Lena's animal tests have worked perfectly, but she has yet to start human trials.

Lex sets up a test using volunteers from the privately-owned prison that LuthorCorp runs to do Lena's human trials, arguing that if she can make aggressive repeat offenders into docile, productive members of society, it would be a proof of concept Supergirl couldn't complain about.

Brainiac-5 is nearly done repurposing Toyman's Immortality Code from 512 into a weapon against Leviathan. However, he postulates it won't be useful unless they can weaken the Leviathan aliens first or find their base of operations.

Lex assigns Supergirl to act as Andrea Rojas personal bodyguard, despite Kara's objections, saying it will be far easier to have her close at hand when the assassins strikes at hand as its unlikely the DEO can catch them before the Obsidian Platinum launch that night.

J'onn currently has more cases than he cares to count - most involving missing people, runaway aliens and the odd wayward spouse.

Alex is having trouble adjusting to the idea of working independently without a direct boss or goal every day.

Kara asks Alex and J'onn to help her with tracking down the terrorist gunning for Andrea.

J'onn confirms what Brainiac-5 said about Chlorophyllian energy being impossible to track, but says they can't manifest the energy they absorb as electricity and are typically a peaceful people.

Lex confronts Gemma Cooper and offers her the DEO's protection in order to maintain her anonymity. She agrees, but warns him not to make promises he can't keep because "her people" don't offer second chances.

The inmates Lena is given to experiment on are a cross-section of violent repeat offenders to those who are afraid of their own shadow.

One of the test subjects is Steve Lomeli - the editor of the convict-published newsletter at Stryker's Island in 418, who helped Kara with her story after revealing he hacked Lex Luthor's secret server.

Steve is bullied by an inmate named Toby.

Kara meets William for the first time as Supergirl.

William says he isn't afraid of covering Andrea Rojas despite the threats on her life and says that its his responsibility as a journalist to put himself in harms way to give people information.

Dimitry is a thug who hangs around Al's Bar that Alex has strong-armed once or twice looking for information.

Dimitry says a contact of his who dealt in exotic alien weaponry recently dealt with a Chlorophyllian who lived on a farm on Route 89.

Alex calls Brainiac-5 and asks if he has information on a Chlorophyillian living off Route 89.  Brainy pulls up the record of a Todd Sapphire, but lies to Alex and says he couldn't find anything.

Brainiac-5 consults with one of his alternate selves from 510 through the Coluan hivemind to get a second opinion on his current actions. He sympathizes with his plight, but says the deception is necessary for the greater good.

Lena's test on the inmates seems to work perfectly, with Toby now being friendly towards Steve.

William and Supergirl discuss their reservations about the Obsidian Platinum system and how they both fear people could become disconnected from the real world because of it. William specifically refers to Kara and her game nights as making him remember what real connections with people were like after losing his best friend.

The assassin makes another attempt on Andrea's life, shooting lightning at her during an interview, before teleporting away.

Andrea still refuses to go into hiding or cancel the launch.

Andrea tells Supergirl that Obsidian is the life's work of her father and he sacrificed everything to make the company successful and she can't do anything less.

Steve is agitated by Toby's presence and tries to take a swing at him, but is unable to because of the Non Nocere. This leads Lena to discover an unexpected side-effect - while she successfully pacifies the normally hostile, it fills the normally fearful (like Steve) with rage they can't unleash, as his fight-or-flight response is left without an outlet for expression. He says the resulting feeling is far worse than anything Toby ever did to him.

Alex and J'onn find a barn full of hydroponics, a copy of Walden Pond and blueprints for the kind of technology the Chlorophyillian was apparently trying to buy along with weapons-grade components.

The terrorist finds Alex and J'onn in their lair and attacks, draining energy from J'onn while struggling with him and setting the barn on fire.

Alex calls Supergirl, who pulls Andrea out of an appearance at the Obsidian North store and takes her to the DEO before going to save Alex and J'onn.

Lex offers Lena his help in trying to fix the Non Nocere algorithm.

Kara finds a strongbox full of papers, including an Obsidian worker ID. With that, she, Alex and J'onn determine that Todd Saphire committed suicide after becoming addicted to Obsidian Platinum during beta-testing and being fired after stealing a pair of lenses.

Kara realizes the assassin is Todd's wife, Amy and that she blames Obsidian Platinum for his death, as he was homesick and using the technology to escape into a virtual simulation of the home planet they were forced to flee.

Andrea is able to shadow teleport for the first time in the post-Crisis reality after being locked in a cell at the DEO and somehow wishing herself to the Obsidian North offices.

Kara talks Amy down from her plan to destroy Obsidian North's office after pointing out that innocent people will die in the resulting power drain.

Andrea lies about how she got back to Obsidian North so quickly.

Andrea dismisses Supergirl's concerns about Obsidian Platinum being addictive, saying Todd's story was tragic but she believes she is doing more good than harm.

Andrea realizes the Acrata medallion is tied to her shadow travel power.

J'onn gives Alex a Martian weapon called "The Hand of the Soldier," which can shapeshift into any weapon the wilder can think of.

Lena corrects the algorithm with Lex's help, realizing she had accounted for violent tendencies but not the urge to fight injustice. Steve says he feels safe for the first time in his life.

William texts Kara to ask if she is okay after the attack.

Kara decides to accept William's invitation to go out, saying she was scared to say yes the week before.

Brainiac-5 confronts Lex over the failsafe on the Luthor Power Core and how he couldn't shut it down. Lex dismisses his concerns that 67% of the people in National City could have been harmed by the resulting fires.

Lex meets with Gemma Cooper again and argues that the resulting chaos has only built up the Obsidian Platinum launch and that he would be the ideal spokesperson to help promote it on a gloabl level. He asks to meet her friends in exchange for his help.

The Fridge Factor

Alex is made entirely useless so that she can angst over losing the job she quit when she's never shown any signs of lacking confidence fighting aliens with powers she doesn't have before.

Kara is suddenly going gooey over the same man who was a jerk to her when they first met because he agrees with her on VR technology being bad and journalism being good.

Andrea Rojas drive to promote her company is revealed entirely because she wants her daddy's approval.

The Bottom Line

Lackluster in nearly every department and oddly insulting given its release on International Women's Day, with Alex out of sorts until J'onn gives her a new "gun", Kara suddenly willing to give the jerk who is stalking her a second chance and Acrata set up as yet another villain whose motivations come down to daddy issues. It's odd how the only two people fighting the chief villains of the season now are Lex and Brainiac-5 and Lena's subplot has been completely separated from the rest of the action of the series. Throw in a forgettable villain and another reiteration of the one-sided moral (i.e. technology is bad!)  and this is one bland mess.