Been awhile since I wrote one of these.
And yes, there will be a post-season review of Supergirl, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, to fill in the gaps in episodes I have not reviewed yet.
Because, boy, is there a lot of disappointment to go around.
“Cavalry Battle Finale.” My Hero Academia Episode 18
I analyze stories for a living. I like knowing the beginning, middle, and end so I can look at the story as a whole. That means I tend to jump ahead in a book or read spoilers before seeing the completed work.
I don’t like sports. Unlike literary analysis, the rules of the game are much more restrictive. This is not like Derrida, Foucault, and others talking about the game-like nature of wordplay in literature: if you break a rule in a sport, then you expect the referee will hold you accountable. There is less room for interpretation. But most of all, sports are not predictable. I’m not as big a fan of the excitement of the score changing moment by moment as I am knowing what the outcome will be. I like reaching a stable ending rather than being held in suspense.
I know how this arc to My Hero Academia ends, and this episode’s attention to the goals and methods of Izuku, Bakugo, and Todoroki–the three characters with the most change upon the completion of this arc–has me cringing knowing how this story will wrap up. That’s not to ignore how this arc also develops the other main characters, Ochaco and Iida, but when it comes to this storyline, the focus on those three characters.
My heart goes out to Izuku, as he is the one learning the most how to acclimate to a new set of abilities while holding onto his optimism and using his knowledge and intelligence to solve problems. But as Todoroki says (in the subtitled version of this episode), “Things don’t always go as you wish.” With sports, you got that right.
It kind of leaves you feeling like this.
“In Their Own Quirky Ways.” My Hero Academia Episode 16 (Season 2 Episode 3)
This is the best episode of the series so far, combining excellent animation, good use of Season 1 music, and pulling much more out of the actors, as Izuku finally gets his chance to shine this season.
“Luthors.” Supergirl, Season 2, Episode 12. Directed by Tawnia McKiernan. Written by Robert Rovner and Cindy Lichtman.
No Lucifer, no Flash, no Legends, no Gotham, no Preacher–and I don’t care about Powerless or Arrow.
So time to talk Supergirl. And the word for this episode is “Reruns.”
In Peanuts, Charles Shultz introduced a new sibling for Lucy: a younger brother who looks like a miniature version of her brother Linus. So, she called the boy Rerun.
Rerun was on my mind when comparing this episode’s ending, because we’ve been here before: having spent a season debating whether she wants a relationship with a man whom she thinks is already involved with another woman, Kara (Melissa Benoist) confesses her love to him, only to be interrupted by someone at the very end of the episode.
The difference is which man is picked. It’s repetitive–like how Lena Luthor’s (Katie McGrath) potential fall into the dark side was already done before.
Speaking of monsters: the election is next week, so there is no new Flash–and you get to be a superhero by voting Clinton so that monster Trump does not get elected. Find your voting place, and enjoy telling Trump to go away.
“Monster.” The Flash Season 3 Episode 5. Directed by C. Kim Miles. Written by Zack Stentz.
As with other episodes I’ve been watching, the trend seems to be multiple storylines that may or may not overlap or complement each other, instead being disparate. The title “Monster” can refer to both the named monster Barry (Grant Gustin) and Julian (Tom Felton) are hunting, and Julian’s realization he behaves monstrously, as well as Caitlin’s (Danielle Panabaker) fear she is becoming one with the development of these ice powers. I’m a bit surprised the latter story was not given more attention to that idea of monstrosity, and I am a bit grateful after the problems in using that word “monster” as associated with Natasha Romanoff in Age of Ultron. The title “Monster” does not quite refer to the subplot with Cisco (Carlos Valdes) seeking to uncover the truth about HR (Tom Cavanagh), the new Harrison Wells they pulled from another timeline, although Cisco wearing the Jaws shirt while hunting down the truth about HR could be a “search for the monster” plotline, I guess.
Oh, and Joe is still not dating the DA. Because that needed a few minutes of attention to give Iris (Candice Patton) and Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale) something to do in the episode as well. Because why not.
As Ellak Roach said when we watched, this episode feels like it’s “spinning its wheels.” There is setup without payoff. HR is revealed to not be a scientist, so he may have some redemption moment in which he proves himself. (What is it this season with newbie-superheroes like James in Supergirl and Nate in Legends wanting to prove themselves?) Caitlin has her first moments of wanting to kill, so she may become Killer Frost and fall into villainy. (What’re the odds she kills her mother [Susan Walters]?) And Joe is still avoiding dating the DA. (Because evidently that’s the subplot we’re getting this season for Joe.)
Overall, then, I don’t know what the individual parts of this episode contributed.
“The New Rogues.” The Flash Season 3 Episode 4. Directed by Stefan Pleszczynski. Written by Benjamin Raab and Deric A. Hughes.
I’m at a loss how to write a review of this episode, because I have not encountered a television episode this frustrating since the last time I watched Agents of SHIELD–so, about two weeks ago.
To summarize the problems, I have to look at the individual narrative threads, which are not interwoven so much as parallel to each other. Each narrative thread, if given more time in this or a later episode could be entertaining; however, each is rushed to the point that the plot occurs not because this is how the characters we have known for more than two seasons would act, but because, as someone else says, the plot says so.
With early voting started, let’s have an episode that has a political message that then goes sideways.
And let’s expand the world of Supergirl to show an extraterrestrial bar that is less bouncy and more grungy than the Star Wars cantina.
Oh, and let’s start shipping Alex with Maggie Sawyer. We just need a name for it. “MagLex”? Would that work?
“Welcome to Earth.” Supergirl Season 2 episode 3. Directed by Rachel Talalay. Written by Jessica Queller and Derek Simon.
Supergirl has not been subtle in its political allegory. Last season, a senator wanted to build a wall around the Earth to keep out extraterrestrials–and it made about as much sense as the fool running for office right now. (Vote early against Trump: vote Clinton.) “Welcome to Earth” seems to persist with that same storyline, as President Olivia Marsdin (Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter), is about to sign an extraterrestrial amnesty bill that leads to United States citizenship.
Ignore, for a moment, the fiction of all of this: that a President could get that done, when our real-life Congress couldn’t fund Zika treatment quickly, let alone immigration reform for humans.
And ignore, for a moment, the weirdness that it is the United States making itself an asylum for extraterrestrials: I would think the United Nations would be more involved, a la the Superhero Registration Act in Captain America: Civil War–but, then again, Agents of SHIELD had nations lining up to be asylums for Inhumans, so that detail is not that weird.
The surprise to this episode for me is how it is so obvious that Marsdin is a stand-in for Hillary Clinton–and then how this episode undermines that expectation. Or, if you think Clinton is two-faced, reaffirms your views about her.
“What have I done?”
“Weaponizer.” Lucifer Season 2 Episode 5. Directed by Karen Gaviola. Written by Jason Ning
This review contains spoilers.
“Weaponizer” eschews the typical plot structure to other episodes of Lucifer, and to many other procedural shows, and to many other DC on TV shows. The seasonal arc is the focus to the last ten minutes, in which significant action happens, leaving on a cliffhanger in multiple ways that have the audience desiring more. On the one hand, I cannot judge this episode fairly until seeing what happens next week. On the other hand, the anticipation I have indicates that this was a well-done conclusion. Given how funny this episode is, the contrast in the humor and the drama heightens both, creating one of the best episodes so far this season.
“The Justice Society of America,” Legends of Tomorrow, Season 2, Episode 2. Directed by Michael Grossman. Written by Chris Fedak and Sarah Nicole Jones
Spoilers for this and future episodes of Legends of Tomorrow
The challenge I have watching the initial episodes this season of DC on CW shows is that it is a lot of setup for the rest of the season. I don’t bother with Arrow, The Flash is extending repetitive mysteries about arc villains, and Supergirl is just absolute fun. While each of those shows has its supporting cast, and Arrow expanding its own cast this season, still these are shows focused largely around their titular characters, making the shows into the protagonists’ stories and having their develop determine the major themes being explored.
Legends of Tomorrow has the additional challenge of a larger cast of characters, potentially diluting show’s focus, struggling to juggle multiple storylines and potentially conflicting themes. There are shortcuts this season seems to be taking already, such as shifting Nate (Nick Zano) to the position of our hero on the Joseph Campbell journey, and removing Rip and promoting first Stein (Victor Garber) then Sara (Caity Lotz) as leader. Yet the addition of the Justice Society of America for this episode only enlarges that cast. The Society returns later this season, for a few reasons I’ll clarify in the more spoiler-heavy discussion below, so some focus had to be given to Rex Hunter, Commander Steel (Matthew MacCaull), and Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Seliers), while their teammates take a back-seat along with the as-of-yet unmentioned Legends.
What helps Legends, even when the focus is diluted among so many characters, is the camp. When your story has the heroes fighting Nazis, however, camp requires a deft hand–or else you get something as monotonous and dark as Hellsing. And this episode of Legends is not campy enough or dark enough for that kind of content.
Outdated gender stereotypes, fragile masculinity, poor fathering, and to top it off, ignorant portrayal about foster parenting, multiple personalities, and mental health care, in a muddled script that fails to push forward this episode’s own plot, or the season’s arc
“Magenta,” The Flash, Season 3, Episode 3. Directed by Armen V. Kevorkian, written by Judalina Neira and David Kob
Spoiler warning: This review contains spoilers for this episode, about upcoming episodes of The Flash, and about Netflix’s Luke Cage.
It’s one thing to analyze a story by its own rules as entertainment, and to analyze a story as reflective of writers’ perspectives of the world and, in directing this writing to an audience, what it reflects about a culture’s values. It’s the challenge reviewing “Magenta,” which is dissatisfying in four parts: as an individual episode, as it portrays multiple personalities and mental health recovery, as part of the season’s arc, and as it portrays parenting especially in terms of gender norms and foster families.