Thursday, April 15, 2021

Black Lightning Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 7 - Painkiller

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

Plot

Khalil Payne moved to Akashic Valley hoping to get away from his past and the Pierce family he was programmed to destroy. Unfortunately, the past has a way of coming back to haunt you and when Grace Choi is kidnapped while on her honeymoon with Anissa Pierce and the Painkiller program incapacitates Thunder, it will fall to Khalil and his new allies to make things right, even as they put themselves in the crosshairs of a powerful new enemy.


Influences

Blade Runner 2049 (aesthetic of Akashic Valley) and general cyberpunk themes.


Performances

Jordan Calloway delivers a subtle performance, altering the body language of Painkiller and Khalil to make them two different people.


Artistry

The high-tech look of Akashic Valley is striking and immediately sets it apart as someplace unique in the Arrowverse.

The action sequences are fantastic.


Trivia

This is the first episode of Black Lightning not to feature Jefferson Pierce, Lynn Stewart or Jennifer Pierce in some capacity. This makes Anissa the only character to appear in every episode of Black Lightning to date.


Technobabble

The logic bomb installed in Khalil's head gives him control of the Painkiller program and it is further enhanced by regular meditation. However, it is not powerful enough to override a direct kill order. This is why Painkiller was able to take control when it saw Anissa Pierce.

The kill order enacted by the ASA is like a GPS, enabling Painkiller to sense his targets when they are close by.

The photographer's camera doesn't take actual photos. Instead, it acts as a scanner that measures brain activity. His employer has an interest in smart people.

Philky is able to use facial recognition software to track down the photographer who took Grace's picture.

Khalil plants a tracker on the photographer, but Philky is able to hack his car's GPS to find out where he was right after helping to capture Grace.

The nanotech in the heads of the kidnapping victims resembles the same tech used to create Painkiller, with part of their brain being partitioned, effectively cordoning off a large section like a computer. Philky determines their bodies are being crypto-jacked to harness the computing power of their brains for criminal enterprises like unraveling Bitcoins. The other half of the brain is locked into a meditative state. Sadly, Philky is afraid most of the crypto-jack victims will have serious brain defects.

Wo Man is said to be able to tap into the Akashic records: a place where the past, present and future exist simultaneously. 


Dialogue Triumphs

Khalil: (voice-over) "There is one. The path has been corrected. Go forth and conquer." These words came to me in meditation and led me here, to Akashic Valley, a place where I came to find peace of mind and body. A place where I pieced together a family and built a new life, so that I can conquer my own duality. Me, Khalil, who wants peace and vengeance. And Painkiller... who just wants a bloody war.

Philky: I'm not your damn Asian tech savior, man!

(Donald tells Anissa how Khalil saved his life.)
Anissa: It's a wonderful story, but I'm not gonna be convinced unless he saves Grace's life.
Donald: I know what's it's like to be one person on the inside and have to pretend to be someone else on the outside. To lead a double life. Struggle with identity. Khalil's struggle is different, but that's what he's dealing with. You should understand that.
Anissa: I never really had to hide who I was. I've always been out.
Donald: Well, then, you're one of the lucky ones, Anissa. (pauses) Or do you prefer Thunder?

(Inside Khalil's head, Painkiller and Khalil sit across from each other on a mat.)
Painkiller: I know you don't trust me. Maybe for good reason. But like you said, I didn't make me like this. Odell did. If you die... I die. Come on, Khalil. Deep down inside, your survival instinct... in all of us. You need me on this. That's why you're here.
Khalil: This technology is too important. It could set us both free. I can't take the risk of you killing the wrong person.
Painkiller: What does that even mean, bruh? "Set us free"? But what you're really saying is to set you free from me. I'm not stupid!
Khalil: I think it means we can stop warring with each other and finally live in peace. No more kill orders causing you pain. No more fear or worry of Odell or anyone else controlling you. You'll always be a part of me. It's just a matter of how.
Painkiller: Then trust me!
Khalil: I don't want Grace dead as a result of collateral damage. We'll go in, save Grace and then get the technology, And if things get real bad, then you'll finish. Understood?
Painkiller: I'll be on my best behavior. 


Dialogue Disasters

Khalil and Philky's conversation regarding how they met and owe each other is some of the clunkiest "As you well know, Bob..." exposition ever. It's also a bit odd, given that the exposition for Donald later on works quite well.


Continuity

Akashic Valley is a high-tech paradise, like Las Vegas and Tokyo rolled up into one. It has motorized smart car taxis, AI concierges in the hotels and holographic performers in the bars are not uncommon.

Grace and Anissa come to Akashic Valley and stay at a hotel called The Black Velet.

Grace is jumped by several men after having her photo taken. Anissa tries to chase after her, but is attacked by Painkiller, who poisons her.

Khalil and Painkiller fight for control of Khalil's body again. Khalil just barely wins, after giving Painkiller three changes to back down and not call Anissa a bitch.

Philky is a former ASA agent whom Khalil discovered, drunk and near homeless, after the ASA was shut down at the end of Season 3. The two partnered up, with Khalil recovering some of the ASA's dark funds in exchange for Philky attempting to neutralize the Painkiller program.

Khalil financed the construction of a lab under a bar in Akashic Valley. Philky works there as the bartender when he's not researching a cure for Khalil's condition.

The Painkiller program hadn't manifested once in the year since Khalil left Freeland, Georgia. 

The photographer who took Grace's photo reports to a woman that his partner, Nick, was poisoned by Painkiller's punch to the chest. This gets her interest, even before the photographer mentions that one of the people they captured, Grace, was a shapeshifting metahuman.

The photographer was scanning the tourists n the Akashic Valley strip for smart people.

The photographer tells Khalill that the people he scans for are turned over to a mind cult of some kind.

Donald is a skilled herbalist and a former medic in the US Marine Corps.

Donald tells Anissa that he developed a bad case of PTSD when he left the military. He doesn't recall what happened the night Khalil found him, but he had over-medicated himself and had a few whiskeys. He can't recall if his overdose was an accident or an honest suicide attempt. In either case, Khalil saved his life.

Khalil told Donald all about the Pierce family, including their secret identities.

It is suggested that Donald might be gay or trans, as he makes reference to being one person on the inside and having to pretend to be someone else on the outside. 

Khalil discovers six people in VR gear plugged into six laptops at the address Philky found. He takes the laptops.

Khalil asks one of the guards who he works for. The man says Maya before passing out.

Khalil and Philky consult with Wo Man - a  wisewoman who is said to know everyone in the valley and everything that is happening, legal or illegal. She is also a gun runner, who sells Khalil "a lot of guns."

According to Wo Man, Maya is into high-tech, mind-bending hardware that usually only the government  can access. She also says that saying her name to the wrong people can get you killed.

Wo Man owes Phiky several debts, which he calls in. She agrees to send him the location of Maya's retreat and schematics of it.

Khalil reaches an understanding with Painkiller regarding working together so they can be at peace.

Grace is able to free herself from her captivity and runs into Painkiller on the way out of Maya's base.

Grace is somehow able to sense when Khalil or Painkiller is controlling Khalil's body.

Donald, Philky and Anissa go to back up Khalil and find Grace as she's leaving the building.

Maya's AI assistant is named Katie.

Philky figures out that there's a self-destruct on the building. 

Khalil persuades Painkiller to leave Maya's base rather than take a chance on chasing the tech.

Anissa tells Khalil that Jennifer has changed a bit, but they talk about him often.

Khalil asks Anissa not to tell Jennifer where he is, saying he needs some time before he is ready to see her.

Khalil, Donald and Philky agree to investigate Maya and figure out what she and her cult are up to.

Maya is revealed to be the daughter of Agent Odell and she knows who Khalil is.


Location

Akashic Valley 


Untelevised Adventures

We don't get to see any of Khalil's activities over the past year, but we are told of how he saved Philky and Donald.


The Fridge Factor

Shockingly averted, given how often she's knocked out and taken hostage in earlier episodes, Grace is able to free herself and doesn't really need Painkiller to rescue her.


The Bottom Line

A solid back-door pilot that establishes a unique new setting for the Arrowverse and an interesting supporting cast to back Painkiller up. Sadly, given how many other spin-offs The CW has passed over, it seems unlikely this one will be picked up for a series, but it has more promise than Green Arrow and the Canaries did, if not as strong a legacy. 

Batwoman Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 10 - Time Off for Good Behavior

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

Plot

Ryan uncovers a sinister plot after a new villain dubbed Kilovolt attacks the community center she helped to repair. Meanwhile, Jacob faces a new challenge in his war on the False Face Society and Alice seeks out the mysterious Enigma with a new goal: forget about her sister.


I
nfluences

The Batman comics of Alan Grant (character of Horton Spence).


Artistry

The dream-like imager of Jacob's hallucination scenes is quite effective.


Bat Trivia

Luke makes a joking remark about Black Mask blaming Aquaman for killing his daughter. This is the first confirmation that Aquaman exists within the post-Crisis Arrowverse. 

This episode marks the first appearance of Horton Spence - an idealistic reporter who alerts Batwoman to the connection between various social programs in Gotham City being attacked by criminals.

Horton Spence first appeared in the comics in Batman #475 in March 1992 and was presented as a partner to Vicki Vale, investigating a new street drug called Fever together. The two also dated for a time.

This episode confirms that Dr. Evelyn Rhyme is Enigma. Dr. Rhyme is an original character unique to the Arrowverse and has no connection to any other character named Enigma.


Technobabble

Community centers bring about a 10% drop in crime and a 15% increase in graduation rates from nearby schools.

According to Dr. Evelyn Sharpe, Snakebite attacks the hippocampus - the part of the brainwhich stores memories and emotions, targeting those memories most associated with regret or remorse. This triggers a hallucination where the user is able to alter the circumstance of the bad memory so they end happily.

Mary uses a mafenide acetate cream to treat Horton Spence's electrical burns.


Dialogue Triumphs

Alice: I see you got my message.
Julia: Oh, the sad desperation came through loud and clear. Gotham’s most deranged diva reduced to making prank phone calls. What’s next? Ding-dong-ditch? Heh.
Alice: (pulling a knife) How about "ghost in the graveyard?"
Julia: (batting the knife away) Oh, you’re not gonna kill me. You’d just be lonely again. I mean, that’s why I’m here, isn’t it? With Kate gone because no one really cares about your every move. I mean, the new Batwoman doesn’t give a damn about you anymore, and that must drive you absolutely crazy. Well, crazier. What will Alice become now that her sister is dead, hmm? I mean, it’s the age-old question, isn’t it? If a lunatic throws a tantrum in a forest, will anyone hear? Guess Gotham’s not much of a playground without a playmate.
Alice: I don’t need a playmate. I need a partner.
Julia: Well, your last overture at partners ended with a knife in my gut, so…
Alice: (wincing in exasperation) Oh, I really need to work on my negotiating skills!

(Black Mask shoots one of his followers - a man in a clown mask.)
Black Mask:
You’re forgiven. (turning to the rest of his followers) Does anyone else want to apologize for the fact that for the last two weeks not a single viable dose of Snakebite has been produced? Anyone? I got plenty of bullets to go around!

Mary: Look. I don’t care what you have to say I’m opening the place back up, so if you want to stop me, you’ll have to arrest me.
Jacob: I don’t want to stop you. I want to help you. Make this place a real clinic. Hire real doctors. I’ll even pay for it.
Mary: You know that there are some things that you can’t fix by writing a big check.
Jacob: What possible objection could you have to making this place legit?
Mary: Because it goes against the very reason I started the clinic, ok? I don’t ask for I.D., I don’t require insurance, I don’t report O.D.s or non-violent criminal behavior. I opened up this place to serve the people that you don’t see as legit.
Jacob: Come on. You haven’t even finished med school...
Mary: And yet yesterday, I saved a guy’s life, and, you know, for the first time since Kate died, I don’t feel hollow! I feel like what I did mattered! That I can make a difference in this crappy city, and you want to take that away from me, and for that, I will never forgive you.


Continuity


As the episode opens, Batwoman is attacking her third Snakebite distribution center that week.

Batwoman specifically calls out Black Mask in a live TV feed.

As Jacob Kane is watching the news report on Batwoman's raid, he is kidnapped and injected with Snakebite.

While high on Snakebite, Jacob hallucinates that he was able to save Beth while she was a teenager.

Batwoman is calling the leader of the False Face Society Black Mask as she has no idea who he is.

According to Luke, Kate never killed anyone's daughter as Batwoman.

Ryan visits Angelique in Edgewater; a private prison facility.

The price of phone calls inside the prison has almost doubled since Ryan served time. According to Angelique, a ten-minute phone call is $22 and some change. It as $11.50 when Ryan was in prison.

Ryan encourages Angelique to flip on the False Face Society. She still refuses.

Ryan and Mary attend the opening of the new Sheldon Park community center Jordan Moore was working with. They are singled out for their help in getting it set up again.

A reporter named Horton Spence asks about the community center's security.

Ryan meets with Imani, who is the head of the community center's tutoring program.

Ryan is asked about teaching martial arts classes at the community center.

The community center is attacked by a man with an electric gun. The media dubs him Kilovolt.

Luke determines that a weapon like the lightning gun costs more than a community center is worth.

Horton Spence was fired from the Gotham Gazette six months earlier for undisclosed reasons.

Julia Pennyworth goes through her expense accounts from when she was searching for Kate and discovers that she spent two nights in Monaco with a layover in Valencia and a car rental in Madrid, but she has no memory of being in any of those places.

Alice calls in an anynonmous tip to The Crows, addressed to "Penny Dreadful," about a break-in at the Cartwright farm. Julia takes this as a sign that Alice wants to meet with her.

Julia makes reference to Alice stabbing her in 202.

Alice tells Julia about Enigma and asks for her help in finding her. This prompts Julia to think that maybe she already ran into and that is why she can't remember anything.

Jacob has a meeting with Dr. Evelyn Sharpe - a noted therapist with a practice in Gotham City, who joined the Crows special Snakebite task force. She has a PH.D in criminal psychiatry.

Dr. Sharpe somehow knows that Jacob used Snakebite. She says it is addictive enough that even one dose can hook a person.

Batwoman confronts Horton Spence about the community center attack. He tells he that several other social programs have faced similar attacks, such as the Narrows Midnight Basketball court being burned by an arsonist and the Diamond District tutoring center being shot up.

Spence claims he was investigating a link between the attacks when he was suddenly fired from the Gotham Gazette. He had just gotten his former editor to agree to take another look at his case.

Kilovolt tries to kill Batwoman and Spence, but her suit largely insulates her from the attack. Kilovolt gets away, but Ryan is able to get his gun.

Spence gets third degree electrical burns from the attack, but Mary is able to treat him with what few supplies she has left at her clinic. Unfortunately, his laptop was destroyed by the attack.

Luke traces the lightning gun to some tech being sold by a shady Russian defense contractor.

Luke is able to pull a partial finger print from the gun and traces it to a convict named Michael Kastrinos, who has been locked up in Edgewater Prison's Cellblock J for two years.

Alice discovers a to-do list written on Julia's boarding pass, which notes that she had a meeting with Dr. Evelyn Rhyme before flying to Madrid. Julia has no memory of this meeting.

Julia agrees to confront Dr. Rhyme about the meeting, while Alice investigates her office on Sixth Street.

Jacob has a private session with Dr. Rhyme where he admits that not saving Beth was his biggest regret and that not an hour goes by that he doesn't think about how he left her in the cell in Cartwright's farm.

Jacob admits he's tempted to try Snakebite again because of the good feeling he got from being able to save Beth, if only in a dream.

Jacob and Mary have not been speaking.

Dr. Sharpe suggests that Jacob try and mend fences with Mary.

Ryan visits Michael Kastrinos in prison. He refuses to confess to being Kilovolt, but Ryan identifies the injury she gave him before he escaped.

Luke checks the security footage of the time Kilovolt attacked Batwoman and it shows Michael Kastrinos in his cell, where he is meant to be.

Ryan visits Angelique and asks if she knows anything about a secret way out of the prison. She does not.

Ryan also pleads, once again, for Angelique to turn on the False Face Society. This time she seems to consider it when Ryan says she can protect her.

The False Face Society has not been able to produce any Snakebite in two weeks as only Ocean and Angelique knew the formula.

Ryan calls Sophie Moore about the two names she got from Angelique. They're both managers at the Gotham Gun Club. Sophie is skeptical, but agrees to check into it.

Luke matches the security footage of Michael Kastrinos to identical footage from 2 weeks earlier. This suggests that someone in the prison is deliberately altering the footage.

Michael Kastrinos wasn't going to be eligible for parole for another decade, yet somehow got a hearing for an early release the day after the community center attack. Discovering this led Luke to look at all the recent paroles from Edgewater prison and led to the discovery that a serial arsonist was paroled the day after the midnight basketball program was burned down and an armed robbery enthusiast was released the day after the Diamond District tutoring center was shot up.

Luke determines that Edgwater's CEO Ellis O'Brien personally signed off on each of the early releases. Ellis was also on the executive board of the Gotham Gazette and would have the power to fire Horten Spence.

Roman Sionis shows up at Jacob's office with a Snakebite dose he claims was found in one of his employee lockers. He asks if Jacob can dispose of it for him.

Julia confronts Dr. Rhyme, who reveals herself as Enigma before easing Julia's memory again.

Batwoman confronts Ellis O'Brien, who confesses that he was trying to destroy social programs that prevented at-risk children and repeat offenders from filling his prison.

Luke shows up in time to give Batwoman some back-up when he detects three guards with lightning guns coming for her.

Sophie finds the two men Angelique implicated, dead on their shooting rage, wearing masks.

Alice listens to Dr. Rhyme's recording of her session with Jacob.

Mary gives Horton Spence some antibiotics, since his insurance won't kick in for a few more weeks.

Horton spence was apparently rehired at the Gotham Gazette and given a promotion as well.

Jacob offers to pay for Mary to open a real clinic but she refuses his money.

Julia puts in for a transfer to the Crow's Security office in Berlin.

Sophie tells Ryan that a WITSEC team is moving Angelique into protective custody until Black Mask is captured, thanks to the DA accepting a plea deal.

Jacob takes the second dose of Snakebite Roman Sionis gave him.

Angelique is abducted by the False Face Society, after the Crows' Security caravan escorting her is attacked.


The Bottom Line

An enjoyable episode that plays out like a classic Green Arrow comic, with all of the ensemble being given a chance to shine.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Starman Plays Indiana Jones And the Fate of Atlantis - Part 8

Are you ready for some Nazi-punching? I hope so! Because in this chapter, we go back to replay the middle third of the game by taking the Fists path. Forget about all these complicated puzzles (well, most of them) and rejoice as Indy demonstrates the fine art of Nazi-punching for your education and entertainment.

 

Monday, April 12, 2021

Starman Plays Indiana Jones And the Fate of Atlantis - Part 7

In which we slowly hijack a submarine one unlocked control at a time and slowly plot a course to Atlantis while recovering all of our stolen Worldstones. Say hello to the end of the Teams path as we lose track of Sophia (again) just before opening the entrance to Atlantis!

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 2 - A Few Good Women

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

Plot


As Lex Luthor goes on trial for Crimes Against Humanity, Lena must make a difficult choice about how far she will go to see her brother face justice. Meanwhile, as the Super Friends seek out help to rescue Supergirl, Kara finds an unexpected ally and familiar face in the Phantom Zone.


I
nfluences

Supergirl: The Movie (plot of Kara and her father needing to escape the Phantom Zone), Harry Potter (the phantoms of the Phantom Zone resemble the Dementors), Star Trek (Dreamer mentions the Holodeck when she sees Brainy's training simulation), the Babylon 5 episode Whatever Happened To Mister Garibaldi? (Kara's meeting with her father resembles Sheridan's first encounter with Lorien) and Stargate (the appearance of the Phantom Zone portal, theme of legends being aliens)


Goofs

Granting that the legal system in the Arrowverse is probably more efficient than in our world, it's still shocking that Lex Luthor could go on trial, even with an open-and-shut case, and have the trial end as quickly as it did. Particularly given the problem with jury selection given how well known Lex is and the nature of his crimes.

It's a little unbelievable that the episode would waste time showing us William watching Lex's trial, in effect having us watching William watching Supergirl.

Why is Lena watching the trial by herself instead of trying to help rescue Kara? 

For that mater, why don't any of the superheroes who arrested Lex testify against him?

Why, after such a big deal was made about it last week, do we not get a quick scene of Alex telling Kelly that Kara is Supergirl? 

Silas should not have any conflicting memories of how the Phantom Zone looked before Crisis. (Perhaps J'onn restored his pre-Crisis memories off-camera, though there's no clear reason why he'd do so.)


Super Trivia

The episode title is a play on the film A Few Good Men and the scene in which Lena tricks Lex into confessing his evil intentions is based on a similar scene from that movie.

Silas is said to be a native of the planet Transilvane, whose inhabitants inspired the legends of vampires on Earth. In the DC Comics universe, Transilvane was an artificial world created by Cadmus scientist Dabney Donovan and populated with genetically engineered replicas of classic horror movie monsters.

It is revealed in this episode that the Phantom Zone is named after the ghostly figures who populate it, who feed on the fear and torment they cause by making people relive their worst nightmares. This is a new conceit from the modern DC Comucs universe. Originally the Phantom Zone transformed those who were sent to it into phantoms, who could observe the physical world but were powerless to affect it.

By contrast, the Phanton Zone of the Arrowverse does not allow those who are trapped there to see the material world, as Zor-El had no idea that Kara was still alive or that Argo City survived thanks to his efforts.


Technobabble

Natives of Transilvane have enhanced strength, speed and stamina compared to regular humans. They also have the ability to transform themselves into clouds of smoke and bats. They feed on he blood of other beings but are not required to take it by violence.

Silas is able to assemble his Phantom Zone Portal on a day's notice, but insists it requires six months of testing before he can be sure it will be safe.

Brainiac-5 creates a holographic simulation of the Phantom Zone. It is backed by dream energy sensors that will detect any fluctuations, distractions, emotional incongruences Dreamer might experience, as the simulation will also psychically attack her in the same way that phantoms do.

The Phantom Zone is revealed to have been altered by the Crisis on Infinite Earths. When all of the timelines of the old multiverse converged into the Earth-Prime reality, the Phantom Zone fractured. It is now one ever-sifting pocket dimension - what Brainiac-5 describes as a interdimensional archipelago.

Every dimension within the Phantom Zone has its own vibrational frequency. Dreamer would need to travel to each one individually and synch up with it before her powers would work. Between this and the randomized pattern of the Phantom Zone shifting, Dreamer cannot use her powers to track Kara directly in the Phantom Zone.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Lex is sitting at his table in his cell, eying the food before him suspiciously. Suddenly, the cell door opens. Otis Graves and Lillian Luthor walk in.)
Lex: I thought visitors were forbidden in this wing.
Lillian: The Luthor name still commands respect... and the occasional favor.
(Lillian takes the seat opposite Lex.) 
Lex: Ah. Favors. Is that how you secured me that plea deal? Admit to conspiracy and manslaughter, and go away for...
(Otis is about to take a seat at the table, but Lex holds up a hand and shoos him away.)
Lex: Ah, ah!
(Otis stands back up and Lex continues.)
Lex:
Go away for 25 years?
Lillian: I'm sure your lawyer advised you to accept it.
Lex: He did. Which is why I fired him.

(Lillian has urged Lex to accept the plea deal.)
Lex:
Do you really have so little faith in me that you think I should agree to rot in prison? I will remind you, I have been in prison before. I have been shot and killed and risen from the dead before, and I will not be subjugated again. You should know, I always have a plan.
Otis: Yeah, boss. Kablooey!
Lex: A legal plan, you imbecile.

(Silas begins to power up the Phantom Zone portal.)
J'onn: You sure this thing won't blow up?
Silas: It won't blow up, but I can't guarantee it won't implode. 

(Lex has just been found not guilty of all charges. He is, for once, stunned speechless.)
Otis: (whispering as the judge is thanking the jury for their work) Uh... Wait, you actually won? (quickly apologetic) Not that I'm surprised, boss!
Lex: Well, I am! Clearly I underestimated the value of just... being myself.
Otis (sighs wistfully) No kablooey.
Lex: Of course not, you idiot.


Dialogue Disasters

Lex's sudden speech about jealous women trying to tear him down seems horribly out of character. Granting that Lex has an ego and a deep hatred of aliens, it's hard to see him ranting like a Men's Rights Activist.


Continuity

In the opening scene, the Super Friends attack a man who burgles a Luthor Foundation blood bank.

The vampire, Silas, is a native of the planet Transilvane, which is the source of the vampire legends on Earth. 

Silas is gay and was married to a man named Owen.

Owen was falsely accused of theft and sentenced to six months at Fort Rozz in the Phantom Zone. He apparently went mad due to the torments of the Phantom Zone.

Silas is the only person known to have ever attempted to break into the Phantom Zone. He is quick to note that he was not successful. 

Silas says that building the technology to enter the Phantom Zone is easy; the hard part is dealing with the phantoms from which the Phantom Zone takes its name, as they can drive a person made by feeding on their fears until they lose all touch with reality or die of fright.

Dreamer goes back to CatCo to continue to cover for Kara's absence, but is reminded that they need her powers to find Kara once they get into the Phantom Zone.

Andrea Rojas wants CatCo to focus as much coverage as possible on Lex Luthor's trial and turn the public against him. She assigns Nia and William Dey to cover the trail directly and try to interview the court officials involved.

Lex meets with his mother and informs her that he fired his lawyer and refuses to take a plea deal. He intends to represent himself at his trial.

Lillian freely admits that she cares more about saving the Luthor family name than freeing Lex.

In the Phantom Zone, Kara is rescued from the Phantoms by a man who she realizes is her father, Zor-El.

Kara tells her father that his efforts to save Argo City were successful. 

Kara remembers the Phantom Zone differently than how it was when she was trapped there. This was partly due to her rocket protecting her from the Phantoms, somehow.

The worst nightmare that Kara experienced at the hands of the phantoms was her battle with Reign in 323, where all of her friends and family died and there was nothing she could do to save them all this time.

Zor-El says the only way to stay sane in the Phantom Zone is to accept that you are trapped. This keeps the phantoms at bay. Attempting to move upon the anchor where Fort Ross as rooted in the Phantom Zone only provokes them.

Andrea and Lena meet for drinks. Andrea tries to fish for details on what happened between Lena and Lex, but Lena refuses to speak about it, on or off the record, and angrily kicks Andrea out of her office.

Silas is uncertain he can get the portal to work safely. J'onn becomes angry with him and almost becomes physically violent.

Alex tries to comfort Silas and reassure him that he will help save Supergirl.

Lex Luthor is formally charged with crimes against humanity, murder and conspiracy.

M'Gann has a talk with J'onn about his becoming overly emotional regarding Kara being in danger. 

When Lex cross-examines Eve Tessmacher, he gets her to admit that she loved him and that he rejected her advances in 517. He then tries to spin it that she was a jilted lover framing him for her own crimes as a complicated revenge scheme.

As a result of Lex casting Eve Tessmacher's testimony into doubt, the murder charges against Lex are dropped.

Lillian meets with Lena and offers to sell her Lillian's share of LuthorCorp so Lena will be able to keep Lex from using any of the company resources for his schemes.

Lena refuses the offer, seeing it as a bribe, and tells Lillian that she'd decided to testify against Lex to ensure he goes to prison for the rest of his life, even if it means admitting to her own crimes.

Brainiac-5 makes a holographic Phantom Zone simulation to test Dreamer's ability to use her powers in that environemtn.

Dreamer has a vision of Alex and Kara when they were in high school.

Dreamer is not sure she can use her powers to accurately track Kara through a dream, but Brainy says he has confidence in her.

Kara decides to try and fight through the Phantom Zone on her own. She is overwhelmed almost immediately and saved by Zor-El again. Kara's refusal to give up inspires Zor-El, who agrees that they will go down fighting together if they cannot win.

Lena tells the court about her Non Nocere project and how Lex corrupted her technology.

When Lex cross-examines Lena, Lena tricks Lex into bragging that Lena's designs would never have worked without his contribution and that he did everything Lena accused him of. Lex proceeds to blame women who were jealous of his success and power trying to tear him down for all of his problems.

Silas is able to get the portal to the Phantom Zone open, but the Super Friends are attacked by phantoms.

J'onn is able to use his telepathy to augment Dreamer's energy blasts, allowing them to force the Phantoms back through the portal.

All but one of the phantoms are forced back into the portal, though the Super Friends do not realize that one phantom is in hiding.

Otis disguises himself as a guard at Luthor's hearing and has a plan prepared to cover his escape.

The jury find Lex not guilty of all charges, much to his surprise.

Silas says he'll continue to help the Superfriends to save Kara.

Lex singles out CatCo and their coverage of his trial when talking about how the the media is out to destroy successful men like him.

William is feeling disillusioned by Lex Luthor's acquittal. 

Brainiac-5 starts mapping the Phantom Zone.

J'onn thinks on M'Gann's advice and decides he needs to start approaching Kara's rescue as a soldier rather than as a father.

Alex has a breakdown in private with Kelly over how they couldn't save Kara.

Andrea goes to meet Lena and complements her courage in testifying against Lex.

Lena apologizes to Andrea for jumping down her throat. Andrea apologizes for trying to push Lena into giving her a story.

Amdrea says she still intends to use CatCo to bring down Lex.

Lex says that he now intends to tell the truth as he sees it and trust that things will work out, as people seem to like his "telling it like it is."

Silas is attacked by the phantom and calls J'onn.

In the Phantom Zone, Kara and Zor-El see a group of three phantoms open a portal. This inspires them to try and capture a phantom.


Location

The Phantom Zone


Untelevised Adventures

Zor-El is revealed to have sent himself to the Phantom Zone after rescuing Argo City from the destruction of Krypton.


The Bottom Line

Another lackluster episode which is oddly focused upon the least interesting aspects of the current storyline, with the title character being about #3 or #4 on the writers' list of priorities. Does anyone really care about William Day? Was anyone really wanting to see Lena and Andrea make-up? Or any more of Andrea at all, really? Silas isn't a bad character, but he's just one more member of an increasingly bloated ensemble who really doesn't add anything to the show. Unfortunately, it seems like we'll be working through this Phantom Zone storyline for a while to come.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 7, Episode 6 - The One with the Nineties

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

Plot

As Iris forms a connection with the Speed Force, Cisco and Chester travel back in time to 1998, where they experience the same day over and over after discovering a third new Force.


Influences

Jurassic Park (the opening scene parodies the first appearance of the T-Rex), Groundhog Day (idea of same day looping), Back to the Future (general time travel theme, Chester's interacting with his father when he was younger) , Friends (the episode title mimics the format used by Friends' episode titles) and The Matrix (idea of people trapped in a fake reality)


Performances

Brandon McKnight and Carlos Valdes have amazing chemistry together as "Team Chesco" and pairing the two of them for an episode was a brilliant idea. It's hard to believe we're just now getting a chance to see the two biggest engineering geeks on Team Flash interact extensively together over a year after Chester's introduction.

This is the first episode to truly push Chester beyond being another goofy nerdy character and Brandon McKnight delivers a truly heart-breaking performance as Chester interacts with the father he thought had abandoned him.


Flash Facts

This episode introduce the Still Force to the Arrowverse. In the comics, the Still Force is an energy field first theorized by The Turtle, which was to inertia was the Speed Force was to momentum. He was eventually able to find a way to tap into it after deaging himself to infancy, whereupon he became tapped as a weapon by Gorilla Grodd as part of Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom.

The Still Force of the Arrowverse is tied to temporal energy and is said to resemble the powers of Turtle 2.0, according to Cisco Ramon.


Technobabble

Chester designs an amplifier device that can boost isotopic signals making them easier for the STAR Labs satellites to detect. They are also capable of detecting foundational isotopic signatures. (This means they will be able to identify individual force users rather than just their presence or absence.)

A reference is made to neutrino filtrations glitching.

The amplifier showed an isotopic surge when the green energy wave hit Cisco and Chester and picked up a temporal energy wave unlike anything that coincided with the appearances of Psyche or Fuerza. This leads them to conclude there is a third Force that is tied to the time stream.

Adding a transmitter diode to the censor can localize the isotopic circuits enough to detect the new Forces within a 20 yard radius, but requires the kind of receiver that can't be bought commercially in 1998.Chester is able to jury-rig the necessary technology using parts from an UltraFax 4000.

The censor was able to absorb the temporal energy and shield Chester from its effects.

Creating a device that can disrupt the temporal isotopes requires an X-76 power converter.


Dialogue Triumphs


(Chester and Cisco are walking into Masonville. Suddenly they slow their pace.)
Cisco: Tell me you’re seeing what I’m seeing.
Chester: Does it have anything to do with “Space Jam” being back in stock?
Cisco: At that Blockbuster Video that doesn’t exist anymore! 

Cisco: Look, is this freaking awesome? Yes. Do we desperately need to figure out a way to get back home? Also yes.
Chester: Well, how are we supposed to do that without a DeLorean or a hot tub?


Continuity

The opening scene shows Natalie; the barista at CC JItters whom Chester had a crush on.

Natalie sees a man in Roman armor, a submarine and a Tyrannosaurus Rex manifest in the street outside CC Jitters after getting off work.

The Speed Force, still in the form of Nora Allen, is using all her strength to heal Barry while he's in a coma. However, she is still weak after being attacked by Psych and Fuerza.

The Speed Force claims to remember light and love after being reborn, before being attacked by Psych and Fuerza. She believes they were trying to feed on her energy.

Cisco and Chester begin driving around Central City and the suburbs, setting up scanners to detect the other Forces before they come after the Speed Force again.

Frost and Caitlin are still adjusting to living together.

Frost has taken up painting and wanted to make something to hang on one blank wall in the apartment. Caitlin had already bought a painting to hang there, which Frost vandalizes.

Chester grew up in the town of Masonville but he and his grandmother moved to Central City once he was done with high school.

A green energy wave envelopes Chester and Cisco as they're working on a censor outside Masonville. It causes their phones and van to disappear.

A forcefield (which Cisco compares to the dome from Under The Dome) prevents Cisco and Chester from leaving Masonville.

Iris tells the Speed Force that when Barry is stressed, he wraps himself up in a blanket. She refers to this as a BBB - Barry's Blanket Burrito.

The first sign that Cisco and Chester traveled in time is that they discover that a Blockbuster Video store is still open in Masonville as they walk into town. The marquee for the store is promoting "The Best Movies of 1998" and guaranteeing that the movie Space Jam will be in stock.

The Blockbuster Video store also has posters promoting several 1998 movies, including Practical Magic, Fallen, Why Do Fools Fall In Love? and Sphere.

Chester makes reference to Back to the Future and Hot Tub Time Machine in speculating on how the can return to their proper time.

Cisco and Chester are able to rework their censor to track the Force to Masonville High School.

Chester and Cisco steal clothes from the school's Lost and Found to fit in and pose as students while they try to detect the Force-user.

Cisco and Chester interview a student named Parker, who remembers the movie The Matrix, despite it not having come out yet when Cisco makes a reference to it. This triggers a reset of the day because something figured out that Parker had broken free of its control.

The reset sends Cisco and Chester back to the town square of Masonville. This time, however, Cisco thinks he is seven years old and has no memory of Chester.

Cisco wore orthodontic headgear as a child.

Chester makes reference to Cisco visiting Atlantis (618) and the battle between King Shark and Gorilla Grodd (515).

Chester is able to restore Cisco's memories by reminding him of Game of Thrones.

Cisco makes reference to the horror movie Get Out in describing Parker's reaction.

Chester and Cisco find that the day that is looping is December 4, 1998. 

Iris tells the Speed Force that the blanket Barry swaddles himself in when he is depressed is one that his mother made for him when he was young.

The Speed Force realizes that taking the form of Barry's mother must be upsetting him more than it comforts him.

Cisco and Chester attempt to buy an X-76 power converter, but the last one at the local electronics store was bought by Chester's father.

Chester says his father was a genius who was always working on inventions as part of his get-rich-quick schemes when he wasn't working. As such, he never had time for Chester as a kid.

Coincidentally, December 4, 1998, is the day before Chester's father died in a car crash while on a business trip.

Chester goes to talk to his father, giving the alias John Boyega. 

Chester discovers that his father bought the X-76 power converter for him, but that rather than giving it to him he was going to leave it among a bunch of junk Chester was sure to dig through while he was out of town.

Chester's dad defends his actions when Chester questions him, saying he is trying to teach his son to be resourceful and a problem solver as well as the joy of seeing treasure where others see trash.

Chester's dad helps him to build a make-shift X-76 power converter using odds and ends in his workshop.

The temporal Force manipulator is revealed to be Deon Owens, who was (in 1998) the star quarterback of Masonville's high school football team. Unfortunately, an injury during the state championships that year cost him his chance to play college football and go on to play professionally. Deon would grow up to become a used car salesman with four pins in one knee.

Empowered by the temporal Force, Deon has pulled the town of Masonville back 23 years into the past and is forcing everyone to relive the best day of his life - the last day he was still treated like a star - over and over.

Outside of Masonville, Deon's manipulation of the temporal energies is causing random time fluctuations. These include the anachronisms witnessed by Natalie and the clothing of Team Flash's members to change randomly.

Joe West winds up in a 1940's zoot suit with a fedora.  Frost is left wearing some 1960's Hippie wear.  Caitlin winds up with teased hair and a 1980's power suit.  Iris suddenly has her hair reshaped into an Afro and winds up in a mini-dress that leaves her looking like a Pam Grier character.

Frost's tablet is turned into an abacus. 

Chester is able to get Deon to stop the time loop by telling him that he needs to let go of his past and focus on trying to change his future for the better. Unfortunately, this seems to inspire Deon to start trying to alter the future for everyone.

Barry comments that Deon seems more reasonable than Psych and less lethal than Fuerza, but that his powers could make him the most dangerous of the Forces.

Cisco officially dubs the power Deon manipulates the Still Force. He also gives Psych's power the name of The Sage Force and Fuerza' power is dubbed The Strength Force.

Iris invites the Speed Force to stay with her and Barry in their guest room.

Frost decides to make the Hippie look a new part of her aesthetic.

Joe warns Frost about Kristen Kramer and suggests that she lay low for a while.  Frost says that is not going to happen.


Location

Masonville - 1998


The Bottom Line

A solid character-building episode that does more to develop Chester than any episode since his premiere and sets up an interesting new enemy in the Still Force host Deon Owens.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Starman Plays Indiana Jones And the Fate of Atlantis - Part 6

In which we do some actual archeology and chart a dig site to find the second of the three Worldstones, before making our way into the lost Labyrinth of Minos and repair a number of ancient elevators.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Starman Plays Indiana Jones And the Fate of Atlantis - Part 5

In which we return to Algiers and seek a Nazi dig site that may point the way to Atlantis. But first we must haggle with the local merchants and hijack a balloon. Because puzzles!

Monday, April 5, 2021

Starman Plays Indiana Jones And the Fate of Atlantis - Part 4

In which we take our first steps on the Team Path and explore the bazzar of Algeris, pushing Sophia into a brief career in street theater. We then make our way to Monte Carlo and a seanace, where I demonstrate both of the ways one may obtain a Sunstone from the elusive Alain Trottier.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Supergirl Episode Guide: Season 6, Episode 1 - Rebirth

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


Plot

Leviathan is defeated, but Lex Luthor is more powerful than ever and Brainiac-5 is at Death's Door. As the rest of the Super Friends rush to save him and the world, Kara considers the possibility that she may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.


I
nfluences

Superman III (Gamemnae's final appearance resembles the computer woman from this movie), Supergirl: The Movie (Supergirl becoming trapped in the Phantom Zone), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Dreamer and Brainiac 2's scene through the glass wall), Adventure Comics (character of N'orr Cott) and the Supergirl: Rebirth series (the title and the promise of a new direction, rather than the contents of the book)


Goofs

In the official synopsis for the episode, Gamemnae's name was misspelt as "Gamenmae".

The highly-vaunted radiation shield Leviathan employs doesn't work on Martians and Kryptonians for some reason, for no apparent reason other than it requires the team to split up during the fight with Gamemnae.

M'Gann is suddenly back in the control room with Kara as Kara yells for everyone to get out while Gamemnae dies, after vanishing for most of the battle after phasing J'onn through a wall.

Nobody questions the morality of their basically killing Gamemnae. (Granting that she's said to be an electronic life form now instead of an alien, that's still a fine line especially with a techno organic being like Brainiac-5 on the team.)

Andrea Rojas gets off scot-free for her part in aiding Leviathan's plans. Granting that she was a pawn, she still ignored every single problem that Kelly Olsen or William Dey brought to her about how her company was endangering people's lives. Worse yet, we're expected to sympathize with her being held responsible for her criminal negligence by her father, even though he only does this to save his own skin.

Beyond that, it's idiotic to think that nobody is going to find it suspect that he suddenly bought all of his daughter's stock in Obsidian North after publicly calling her out.

Jarhanpur is implied to be in the Andromeda Galaxy, as the Jarhanpurium weaponry in the Fortress of Solitude is stored in a section of the armory devoted to weapons from that region. Yet Jarhanpur was said to be a sister planet of Krypton in earlier episodes and Krypton was said to be located only 2000 light years from Earth. The Andromeda Galaxy is located over 2.5 million light years from Earth. (This could have changed following Crisis)

Why do they need a special Jarhanpurium gun to shoot the Jarhanpurium?  Can't the Hand of the Warrior make something appropriate? (Alex is still mastering the Hand of the Warrior and can only use it to fashion weapons and devices she is familiar with. Of course she winds up using it to hit Lex with the Jarhanpurium anyway...)

The CGI for this episode looks terrible across the board, even allowing that Dreamer's visions are usually distorted and dream-like.


Performances

Jesse Rath and Katie McGrath get a brief but memorable scene as the two most morally flexible members of the Superfriends vent to each other and assure one another that, whatever else may happen with the rest of the team, at least they understand one another.

Jon Cryer is clearly having the time of his life playing Lex Luthor.


Super Trivia

The title of this episode is likely a nod to the 2016 Rebirth movement in the DC Comics Universe that led to the restoration of various classic elements that had been removed during the 2011 New 52 reboot and an effort to launch new titles devoted to characters like Green Arrow and Supergirl who had television series based on their exploits but no monthly comic title. In the case of the monthly Supergirl comic, a teenage Kara Zor-El was made to live as a foster child with scientists Eliza and Jerimiah Danvers and began working with the DEO to fight alien menaces.

Near the end of the episode, J'onn mentions that his partner in the police force on Mars was a Martian woman named N'orr Cott. In the classic comics, N'orr Cott was the name of a male Martian who had been commander of the Martian army and J'onn J'onzz's former best friend.

The Arrowverse version of N'orr Cott was a Martian woman, who was known as the Sentinel because she always stood guard against surprise escapes or ambushes.

Alex adopts Sentinel as her superhero codename at the end of the episode. The code name Sentinel was also adopted in the comics by the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, during a time when he no longer needed his ring to channel the magical fire energy of the Starheart. 


Technobabble

Alex uses a mixture of Martian nanites and potassium iodide as an antidote to neutralize the radiation poisoning in Brainiac-5's system.

Alex reshapes the Hand of the Soldier into both a hypodermic needle and a portable electronic storage unit.

Lex acquires a new weapon -  a metallic band, similar to brass knuckles, which allows him to fire focused lasers of Kryptonite energy or controlled bursts. The laser is capable of burning a precise image into concrete.

Lex reprogrammed Obsidian Platinum so that all the people who signed into it have become incapable of believing that he can do anything wrong. He calls this program :"I Love Lexi."

Lex also installed sonic weapons in the satellites power Obsidian Platinum that will kill everyone who didn't get the "I Love Lexi" upgrade. Lex created a special device which makes a person immune to these weapons and gave them to Lillian Luthor and Otis Graves, who were already loyal to him without being brainwashed.

The Dorkri Surth-Uh ( or "The Binding" in Martian) is a ritual which allows two Martians to synchronize their thoughts, creating a web of psychic energy that can literally bind onto several things and move them in unison.


Dialogue Triumphs

(Lex explains his evil plan to Lillian.)
Lex:
My satellites will be aligned to beam the kill frequency in about five hours.
Lillian: I assume I will be safe without being brainwashed to love you, since I already do.
Lex: Of course, Mother. There's a special do-hickey with your name on it.
Lillian: And your sister. You can't kill her either.
Lex: Why not? She killed me first!

Supergirl: We know you've placed satellites around the world, and when they sync up, they'll send out a signal killing everyone you haven't brainwashed.
Lex: What do you want? A gold star?
Supergirl: I want you to disable the satellites. You do that, I'll give you what you've always wanted.
Lex: What's that? And don't say hair, that's low-hanging fruit.

Brainiac-5: Lena, I... I need you to know that I had no idea that this was Lex's plan. I thought that if... if I was... close to him, I would be able to know... how and when to stop him, but I... (taking a deep breath) I didn't. I was so worried that... by working with Lex I was becoming the villain, that... that I lost track of... of what he was up to. I thought... that by doing this I would help save the world, but... look what it's done...
Lena: Brainy, you were willing to sacrifice everything to save your friends. On the other hand, I was the hypocrite who believed that she had the answers to all the world's problems. It's the closest I've ever come to seeing things through Lex's eyes. Self-pity and blinding hubris should be the Luthor family motto. So if anyone's gonna win the culpability award, I've got you by a landslide.
Brainiac-5: What do we do now?
Lena: Try and cope with the mistakes of the past and... appreciate that we have friends who still believe in us. 

(Alex has just refused to watch the hologram Kara recorded while waiting for Lex.)
Alex:
We are bringing her home. (turning to face Lex) And you are going to wish that you were dead while you are rotting in that cell.
Lex: Hmm. About that... I'm not going anywhere near a cell. Unless you want me to reveal Supergirl's identity. She may be gone, but she still has an awful lot of enemies out there. It would be tragic if Mama Danvers or your lovely Kelly Olsen were to become the target of one of...
(Lena punches Lex, knocking him down with one punch.)
Lena: (To Alex) Sorry. Did you want to do that?
Alex: No. Family first. 


Dialogue Disasters


Gamemnae: You cannot kill technology, but technology can kill you!

Kelly Olsen: Your father... is a selfish narcissist. You are a brilliant woman... who built this place from sheer force of will. The mistake was doing it for him. (Well, that and ignoring repeated warnings about how your VR technology was going to doom the world...)


Continuity

Gamemnae reconstitutes herself inside the Leviathan base.

Dreamer is able to follow her vision to find the entrance to Leviathan's base and a dying Brainiac-5.

A delirious Brainy tells Dreamer that he loves her but that the team will have to work with Lex to stop Leviathan. 

Dreamer astral projects her mind to open the door into the sealed control room and immediately falls prey to the radiation shield.

M'Gann evacuates Alex and Brainy while Kara and J'onn fight Gamemnae.

Brainiac-5 determines he can stop Gamemnae with the Anti-Life Equation, which he acquired in 510.

Alex loans Brainiac the Hand of the Soldier, which takes the form of an electronic data storage device.

Alex tosses the Hand of the Soldier to Kara, who uses it to destroy Gamemnae.

Lex uses the power of Leviathan to give himself god-like powers using the alien-energy absorbing machinery on Shelley Island, which was last seen in 422. Lillian Luthor assists him with this.

Among the powers Lex displays are super-strength, energy projection, flight and telekinesis. (He also creates a forcefield, but this seems to be a second feature of his new Kryptonite laser weapon)

Lex will be broadcasting a signal that will kill everyone on Earth who didn't receive his "I Love Lexi" upgrade through Obsidian Platinum in 5 hours.

Lex plans to use the same technology to eventually conquer the universe.

Lena Luthor and Kelly Olsen meet with the rest of the team at The Watchtower.

William Dey is said to have taken Eve Teschmacher and her mother to the CatCo offices, where Eve is going on the record with everything she knows about Lex Luthor's crimes.

Lena determined that Lex twisted her Non Nocere program to create "I Love Lexi."

Eve reportedly told Lena about an experiment that Lex performed on two mice. One had gold eyes and adored him. The other exploded after being exposed to a Q-wave transmission.

Dreamer has a vision of herself in space and Lex Luthor dressed as the Anti-Monitor destroying the Earth. She also sees Shelley Island and a glowing green bottle.

J'onn detects Lex's sonic weapons on 12 of the satellites he launched into orbit in 516. Each of them is armed with claymore cannons that will fire on anything that attempts to tamper with them physically and they are all linked together.

M'Gann and J'onn decide to attempt the ritual of The Dorkri Surth-Uh so that they can safely disable Lex's satellites. 

Lena says she can reverse the "I Love Lexi" code if Kara lets her borrow the Myriad device.

Kelly says she can go to Obsidian North and get them the information on every person Lex has infected.

Brainiac-5 says that Jarhanpurium could weaken Lex and make him mortal in the same way that Kryptonite weakens Supergirl, but there's almost no chance of finding it.

Lena says she can use the machine that made synthetic Kryptonite to make synthetic Jarhanpurium. When she says this, Dreamer mentions the green bottle and Shelley Island from her dream.

Dreamer and Alex elect to go to Shelley Island to get the bottle.

Brainiac-5 stays in the Watchtower to help Lena with reprograming Myriad and making the Jarhanpurium.

Supergirl goes to get Myria from the Fortress of Solitude, along with any weapons that might be used to implement that Jarhanpurium.

When it is pointed out that Lex will be able to track their movements with the power he now has, Supergirl offers to sacrifice herself to act as a distraction while everyone else is dismantling Lex's power base. 

Kara contacts Lex while wearing a Truth-Seeker and promises to meet him in 1 hour at a location of his choosing and let him do whatever he wants if he agrees to disable his satellites.

Lex agrees and names the Fortress of Solitude as their meeting place.

As Kelly is getting the Obsidian Platinum data, she runs into Andrea Rojas. Andrea reveals that her father has blamed her for everything Leviathan has done to their company and that she and CatCo will be bankrupt when the stock market opens the next day.

J'onn is nervous about performing the binding ritual with M'Gann as it will allow her to see everything in his past, including all his memories of his wife and children and every violent thought he's ever had about White Martians. He fears this might derail their ability to disarm the satellites.

Alex points out that M'Gann has gone through just as many problems and she'll have to expose her secrets to J'onn as well.

Brainy loans his Legion Flight Ring to Dreamer until he's recovered.

The Fortress of Solitude armory is divided by where the weapons originally came from and has an area devoted to weapons from the Andromeda Galaxy. This is where the Jarhanpurium weapons are stored.

Lena tries to reinforce the L-Protocol from 507 in the hopes it might slow Lex down. (Apparently it was just disabled in 517 or had been reprogrammed not to attack Lena.)

Kara makes reference to having been trapped in the Phantom Zone for the better part of a decade, having nightmares of her planet's destruction. 

Andrea Rojas uses her Arcata powers to teleport inside her father's house, where she hacks his accounts and buys all her Obsidian North stock. 

Alex takes a Jarhanpurium gun and a portal watch from the Fortress armory. She jokes that she may keep the watch.

Kara stays in the Fortress to wait for Lex, as Alex and Lena leave to go to their respective targets.

Kara uses the Fortress technology to start recording a hologrammatic simulation of herself containing all her knowledge. She gets one volume complete before Lex arrives.

Alex and Dreamer use the portal watch to go to Lex's base on Shelley Island, but Otis Graves and Lillian Luthor are waiting for them.

J'onn and M'Gann are able to disable Lex's satellites. 

With that accomplished, Brainiac-5 and Lena are able to reverse the "I Love Lexi" program.

Dreamer and Alex are able to get the bottle, which Otis drops as he and Lillian escape with their own portal watch.

After Lex blasts Kara repeatedly with his Kryptonite laser and leaves her for dead, the Fortress computer activates the Lena Luthor Protocol, which sends a mobile projector down to saturate Kara's body with yellow sunlight.

Lex starts trashing for Fortress of Solitude while listening to Queen's "We Are The Champions."

Dreamer tries to shoot Lex with the Jarhanpurium gun, but it doesn't work.

Lex arms himself with the Phantom Zone Projector and blasts Kara with it, just before Alex is able to recover the Jarhanpurium and shoot Lex with it.

The data on the Projector is wiped so they have no idea wherein the Phantom Zone Kara wound up. This prevents them from opening a transmat portal to get to her, like Lena did to move the population of Earth-38 during Crisis on Infinite Earths

J'onn says he'll take Lex to the authorities and then will travel to Mars to talk to his brother and seek his advice on navigating the Phantom Zone.

Alex wonders how she is going to explain Kara being Supergirl to Kelly Olsen, establishing that Kelly somehow didn't know this despite being privy to the secret identities of all the rest of the Superfriends. 

Andrea Rojas uses the money from the Obsidian North sale to revitalize CatCo and promises to turn the magazine into a bastion of journalistic integrity once again.

William Dae's story about Lex Luthor and Leviathan is making waves in the wake of Luthor's arrest. He shared the byline with Kara.

Nia covers for Kara's absence by saying that she's working undercover on a story with Cat Grant.

William asks about Kara. Nia tells him that he's sure she would have called him if she could have.

Lena breaks into Lex and Lillian's prison sell and uses Myriad to erase their memories of Supergirl's secret identity.

Lena later admits to erasing the minds of everyone who knew Kara Danvers was Supergirl before returning Myriad to Alex and J'onn.

Dreamer returns Braniac-5's ring to him.. 

Dreamer and Brainiac-5 decided to give a romantic relationship a try after Dreamer says that she loves Brainiac-5 as well. They agree that there will be no more secrets between them.

Malefic was only able to find Midnight in the Phantom Zone because he knew her exact location. He did know someone who once mounted a rescue mission in the Phantom Zone. He doesn't say who, but M'Gann is already searching for him.

J'onn tells Alex about his partner, N'orr Cott, and suggests that she adopt her nickname and symbol as her own. 

Alex officially takes up the name Sentinel for when she's fighting crime in costume.

Lena encourages Alex to tell Kelly about Kara and he secret.

The final scene shows an unconscious Kara in the Phantom Zone, surrounded by snarling spectral creatures.


Location


Shelley Island
The Fortress of Solitude
Buenos Aires - The Rojas Estate.


Untelevised Adventures

J'onn travels to Mars and visits his brother to ask him about 


The Fridge Factor


Kelly Olsen comes off as the biggest idiot ever to not realize that Kara Danvers and Supergirl are the same person, given all the other superhero identities she is aware of in her circle of friends. And she makes a living observing people!


The Bottom Line

A bit of a mess all around for multiple reasons and it is unclear how much of it was the result of the pandemic. The best thing that can be said is that, unlike The Flash Season 7 premiere, it was able to get all its old business summed up in a single episode, even if this does mean rushing through some suddenly nonsensical subplots like everything involving Acrata. Best summed up by the fact that whoever wrote the press release summing up this episode couldn't be bothered to double-check that the characters' names were spelled properly. (Lex Luthor becomes Lex Luther in the Closed Captioning as well.)

Friday, April 2, 2021

Starman Plays Indiana Jones And the Fate of Atlantis - Part 3

 In which we head back to Iceland for a quick pick-up, before heading on to the Azores so Sophia can talk to a dirty old man and learn the location of the Lost Dialogue of Plato. Naturally this leads us back to the beginning at Barnett College, where we can finally dig through the archives again and then must make a fateful choice about how to proceed...

Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Flash Episode Guide: Season 7, Episode 5 - Fear Me

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


Plot

When a powerful new villain with psychic powers uses his abilities to amplify the fears of Central City's citizens, Barry must overcome his own worst fears, with Cecile's help, to save the day. Meanwhile, as Joe finds himself escorting a VIP from the Governor's office and Iris begins investigating why they're in Central City, Frost and Caitlin debate whether or not they should try and lives in separate bodies after being separated.


I
nfluences

The Flash comics of Joshua Williamson (characters of Psych and Kristen Kramer) and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies (general horror aesthetic of dream sequences, idea of villain who attacks people with nightmares.)


Performances

Danielle Panabaker has a fantastic double turn here as Caitlin and Frost.


Artistry

The episode does a fair job of establishing the dream-like, horror movie look of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies in the nightmare scenes.


Flash Facts


The episode introduces Kristen Kramer as a member of the Governor’s Municipal Logistics Commission. In The Flash comics, Kristen Kramer was the name of a CSI who was assigned to work with Barry Allen in the lab at Iron Height's penitentiary after Barry was demoted following repeated absences from work, due to his work as The Flash. She first appeared in The Flash Vol. 5 #1 in August 2016.

The Arrowverse version of Kristen Kramer is completely different, being a career soldier with a file with the Department of Defense that is largely redacted. Her true purpose in coming to Central City is reportedly to arrest Frost.

Cisco gives the super-strong being who attacked Barry the name Fuerza, after the Spanish word for strength. In the comics, Fuerza.was the code name adopted by Alexa Antigone; a vigilante with super-strength and gravity manipulation powers, who first appeared in The Flash Vol 5 #59 (January, 2019). In the comics, Fuerza was an avatar of the Strength Force in the same way that Barry Allen tapped the Speed Force, who used her powers to battle the corrupt police of the island nation of Corto Maltese.

The Arrowverse version of Fuerza seems to be less-intelligent than her comic book counterpart, being a lumbering rage-driven monster whom Cisco compares to the Marvel Comics character She-Hulk.

The episode also introduces a new villain called Psych, who amplifies the fears of people around him.

In the comics, Psyche first appeared in The Flash Vol 5 #61 (March, 2019). Empowered by the Sage Force in the same way The Flash drew power from the Speed Force, Psych possessed a number of psychic powers, including telepathy and telekinesis. Psych primarily worked as an information broker, learning people's darkest secrets and blackmailing them. The Arrowverse version, by contrast, seems only to be interested in spreading chaos.


Technobabble

Barry uses a spectrograph to isolate a rare geothermic isotope that can be used to track the super-strong being that attacked him and killed Abra Kadabra.

Cisco theorizes that Frost and Caitlin's separation was caused by the reflective mirror chip in Mirror Mistress' gauntlet. When Frost was blasted with the gauntlet, her cryogenes rapidly replicated a whole new body so that she could survive.

Barry says that the residual geothermic isotopes on the Speed Force indicate that she was attacked by Fuerza.

Cisco reprograms the Firestorm Matrix to merge Caitlin's DNA with Frost's RNA.

Cisco says that Psych's telepathic powers are strong enough to inspire extreme psychosomatic reactions that can literally trick a person's body into hurting itself.

Psych's powers don't just manipulate a person's fears - they amplify them, elevating their biometrics and putting their amygdala in overdrive, causing extreme panic attacks.

Frost tries to repair the Firestorm Matrix by connecting the transmitter to the output circuit.

After the third battle with Psych, Barry's frontal cortex begins healing, but the part of the brain that controls motor control is still weakened.


Dialogue Triumphs

The Flash: So let me get this straight. You made those guards hallucinate some kind of Godzilla rip-off that almost squashed them?
Psych: Well, I suppose that is an accurate, if not immensely reductive assessment of the situation. So, yes. I scared the hell out of them. And that was after showing them a vision of a dozen bystanders getting eaten alive by a very hungry kaiju. It’s horrifying when you think it’s your turn.
The Flash: Okay, um, look. Whoever you are, I really don’t have time for this.
Psych: My, my. How rude. And from a superhero? Is that actually allowed?
The Flash: (sighs) Okay, I apologize for the rudeness. But I hope you enjoy Iron Heights. ‘Cause I really do have bigger problems today.
Psych: Not yet, but you’re about to.

Caitlin: Do you want to tell me what scared you so much when Psych whammied you?
(Frost looks pensive.)
Caitlin: Come on. We used to share a brain. I know you don’t scare easy.
Frost: I was under arrest, for all the crimes I committed as Killer Frost. And you were the one who turned me in.
Caitlin: I would never do that.
Frost: I know. (sighs) Look, ever since you let me take the wheel, I got to live my life, not just half the time, but all the time. And I really liked it! And I don’t want to go back to living my life just half the time. And I was afraid you’d hate me for saying that.
Caitlin: I would never hate you. You’re my sister. You can always tell me how you feel.
Frost: I don’t know how! I mean… I may be the strong one, but... you’re the brave one. I mean, you’re fearless! I mean, ever since I got in touch with my feelings, I just… I’m scared, all the time. Sometimes I don’t even know why.
Caitlin: You think you’re the only one who gets scared sometimes? Ever since we separated, there’s been this deafening silence inside my head, where you used to be. And it terrifies me! That’s why I’ve been so desperate to put us back together. Why I got so upset when you broke the Matrix. It’s ’cause my biggest fear in life is living without you.
Frost: Mine too.
Caitlin: Well, why don’t we face that fear together?
Frost: You mean…
Caitlin: Maybe two Snows really is better than one. My apartment has an extra bedroom. I could use a roommate. What do you say?
Frost: I say… “This Is Us.”
(Caitlin laughs and Frost smiles softly as the two hug.)

(Cecile has been strapped into The Thinker's chair.)
Cisco:
Cecile, you good?
Cecile: Nope! Not even close to good. I… I am sitting in a death machine! What if this thing fries my brain? Wh… what if this chair turns me evil like the Top? What about that?
Caitlin: As a medical professional, I promise you will be okay. (pauses) Probably. 


Continuity

Ralph is still overseas with Sue, according to Barry.

Frost had a bet with Cisco that Barry and Iris would freak out over her and Caitlin's seperation. Cisco lost.

Cecile has a waking nightmare about someone stalking her. She later describes it as being more like a vision.

Frost and Caitlin can no longer hear each other's thoughts now that they are in separate bodies.

Frost still has her ice powers and Caitlin retained all her medical knowledge.

Caitlin is anxious to find a way to remerge with Frost, but Frost says they should focus on the berserker who nearly killed Barry.

The Speed Force, in the form of Barry's mother, manifests inside STAR Labs and asks for help before passing out.

The Speed Force has manifested as Nora Allen since HR Wells' funeral in 323.

Barry 's powers do not seem to be affected by the Speed Force's weakened state.

Barry puts his Speed Force Gauge on the Speed Force to monitor her power levels. She's currently in the red.

Iris investigates a story about how CC Mercantile was robbed when the guard fell asleep on duty. The guard later told her that he had a nightmare about his abusive stepfather stalking him.

Joe notices the robbery occurred at 11:09 pm. - the same time Cecile had a nightmare about someone stalking her. This leads him to suggest there's a new metahuman criminal with a Freddie Krueger gimmick. 

Joe has his first official meeting with Kristen Kramer; a representative of the Governor's Municipal Logistics Commission. 

Kristen Kramer seems to recognize Iris and claims to have read her story about disappearing into the Mirrorverse.

Iris becomes suspicious because Kristen Kramer uses the phrase "if you're not early, you're late." The only other time Iris heard this saying was from her military advisor at the Central City Citizen. 

Cisco and Caitlin rework the Firestorm Matrix to help merge Caitlin and Frost together again.

Caitlin is a big fan of the show This is Us. Frost is not.

Cecile comes to STAR Labs to ask Caitlin for a check-up, thinking her nightmare could be a side-effect of her expanding powers.

Cecile has another nightmare vision and she senses that an armored truck is being robbed. Cisco later detects another geothermic isotope reading from the same location.

The armored car guards Barry saves work for Crows Security from Batwoman.

The masked robber, whom Cisco names Psych, causes Barry to hallucinate that he's fighting the Reverse Flash and Savitar and that he's impaled through the chest. This causes Barry to actually start bleeding as if he had really been stabbed.

Psych carries traces of the same isotopes linked to Fueza.

Cisco tries to repurpose the mental inhibitors used to fight Gorilla Grodd, but they prove less than effective given Psych's immense power level.

Iris pulls Kristen Kramer's file from the Department of Defense and half of it is redacted. She asks Joe to read the file because she has a gut feeling she has another reason for being in Central City.

Frost knows how to swim but Caitlin might not.

Frost is still planning a white water rapids trip with Cisco.

Frost admits to sabotaging the Firestorm Matrix because she doesn't want to recombine with Caitlin.

Psych attacks the Clearly Capital offices, leaving several stock-brokers crying that they lost everything.

Psych is able to overwhelm Cisco, Frost and Barry with visions of their worst nightmares.

Frost's worst fear is being betrayed by Caitlin and arrested for her crimes as Killer Frost.

Cisco's worst fears involve bad things happening to Kamilla.

Barry's worst fear is causing the deaths of his loved ones.

Frost and Caitlin agree to stay separated and become roommates, with Caitlin calling Frost her sister for the first time.

Cecile says that she thinks about what The Flash would do whenever she is afraid.

Barry suggests that Cecile can cancel out Pscyh's powers by projecting her courage, like how she projected her fear into The Top in 701.

Barry retrieves The Thinker's chair and Thinking Cap from storage to boost Cecile's powers.

Cecile is able to project an electric courage aura that seems to cause Psyche to dissipate.

Barry notes that his Speed Force Lightning didn't phase either Psych or Fuerza.

Barry begins having another spasm of some kind and puts himself into the cryo-pod to heal.

Kristen Kramer worked in Gotham for a while. She claims to be a big Knights fan.

Kramer finally admits to Joe that she's there, on the orders of the governor, to arrest Killer Frost.

The Speed Force wakes up and says that she was attacked by Fuerza and Psych. She also says that she thinks they are "like her."


The Bottom Line

An enjoyable episode that serves more as a showcase of Danielle Panabaker's acting talents than an expansion of the new Force storyline. The script isn't particularly strong despite Psych being an engaging villain, but the performances of the ensemble keep the story moving.