Well most every other show is on hiatus, so let’s group up two weeks worth for maximum value.
Supergirl 1.15 – Solitude
. . .Ok touche show. At first glance I thought the villain of the week was straight up a gender flipped Brainiac. Hey you can’t blame me, they made Maxwell Lord a straight up hairy Lex Luthor (in that, he has hair). But no, she’s named “Indigo” and is a pretty fair adaption of her comic counterpart, who was a descendant of Brainiac designed to infiltrate the heroes and subvert them (kind of). Yes the “streaming through screens” was hoaky but this is a show about a girl who flies so it actually kind works better the more outlandish it goes, like the show… loops around from crazy, to crazy awesome. Though I wish they had something more than “launch nukes” – why is EVERY evil AI’s plan to launch nukes at us? Is this some sly commentary on them not having much of an imagination because they’re artificial? I was kind of disappointed by that.
At least this week I don’t have to say, “poor Winn” as the man finally gets a [heh] win of his own with a kiss from a fairly pretty lady. We don’t know much of Siobhan as a person beyond some vague sketches so I’m not predicting yet whether this relationship will go somewhere or be little more than mutual using. Though part of me half wanted to see Lucy go after Winn just for the sheer chaos and look on Olsen’s face.
Otherwise the overall shout outs to the old 70s Superman movie (and comics in general – yes the key to the Fortress of Solitude is really like that in some issues) made this episode a fun watch. While the tearful exchange between Kara & her sister gave it some heart (now if only the sisters could… talk more – hash things out, their moment on the couch eating ice cream was one of my favorites). All in all… a grade of B with a +/- depending on your fondness for comics & tributes to the past.
And for those curious, check out Snell’s account of Supergirl’s many costumes over the years.
Legends of Tomorrow 1.07 – Marooned
Now we have dropped another member! Though for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why they couldn’t leave Heatwave back in 2046 from a few episodes back. It’s not really addressed and it really should be. Yeah, maybe his fate is setting up some big reveal for later in the season but… if you, as a writer, can’t have your characters take logical actions or bring up things that they really should in order to maintain some mystery, you really need to rework things or just give up the mystery. Making characters act dumb to forward the needs of the writer(s) just annoys the audience!
Still this may be my favorite episode overall from the season. This time the story flow from one character to another was well done. As someone who loves ensemble shows like Star Trek (any of them) and Firefly, one thing you’ll notice is that they adopt a method of rotation. About a third to half the cast will be “in focus” during one episode, while the rest function almost like glorified extras. This isn’t a perfect system (you do have to be careful not to let a few characters run away with the show) but it does help maximize the time you have to tell a story. Typically up to now each episode will have 4 stories (about 1 plot line per pair of main characters, however the MCs are paired off this week). With a 60 minute show, that leaves about 15 minutes to devote to each plotline. (Well that’s assuming no commercials, in actuality it’s probably closer to 40 & 10.) I’m not saying you can’t have a compelling story in that amount of time, both Looney Toons and Samurai Jack have proved you can do a lot in 15, but this show isn’t quite working at that level yet. Which means that if you have one story in the episode end up weaker, it ends up weakening the stronger arcs as well because they have to share equal time.
BUT THIS episode, however, did that quite well and tied the plots together so well that you almost wonder why they can’t pull this off every episode with the plots connecting organically as the audience’s attention is shuffled from one story to the next. Rip shouts a line, then we’re on board the Waverider with Ray who has to react, etc.
Plus it was so satisfying to see Rip Hunter finally shine this episode. So far much of what we’ve seen of him has been more “informed” about how awesome he is than actually proving or showing how awesome he is. Here’s hoping they get around to showing more and more why he should lead this team. By this time in Firefly, Malcolm Reynolds had quite proven why he was at least worthy as a leader even if not perfectly competent. You could believe people following him. So far in the show… Rip has been a little whiny and at times showed up by his “crew” and not in the “you are the specialist – i leave you to your work” kind of way that captains are supposed to be. I love Rip from the comics and am a huge fan of Arthur Darvill as an actor but the writing is holding both of them back at the moment. He doesn’t have to be a complete hardass – I like the moments of him reflecting on his family – but he at least needs to be right (even if it’s for the wrong reasons at times). So far it almost comes off like he’s only right when he agrees with Captain Cold. Heck at the very least let the man form plans (and have them work, or at least work 90%). So far either his plans fail, or they are of the “let’s charge straight at them with full firepower” variety. It’s like the show can’t make up its mind whether it wants Rip Hunter to be Captain Kirk (the action star) or Dr Who (the chessmaster) and ends up with him doing neither very well. This episode did go a good ways towards fixing a lot of that and I’m hoping they continue to do more with him being competent, and less blundering.
So grading on the curve, I’m going to put this episode at A+ as it’s currently the best we’ve seen so far (but subject to sliding down if the show continues to improve).
Legends of Tomorrow 1.08 – Night of the Hawk
And in this episode the, characters all travel to a cartoon! The hope that Hollywood can do anything from the 1950s with nuance continues to wither. I had a prediction on what this episode was going to be like and other than the mutated bird-men, it was pretty much spot on.
Now before anyone goes off and tries to paint me as… whatever, just think about the episode a moment.
When was World War 2? Ended in 1945, with American involvement starting in ’41. This episode, takes place in ’58. THIRTEEN years since it ended. It is in living memory of every past character we see in that episode. Those jerk teenage boys who pick on Jax? Well it can vary by state, but they seemed capable of driving so let’s kind of average it out and say they’re 17. The war was finished when they were 4. Did any of them have father’s serving? Lose their father in the war? Know a friend who did? The sheriff? The doctors? Depending on their possible age, they could have served in the war or sent their own sons. Again, we’re talking a span of time LESS than the time from September 11th to time of this review’s publication and was there ANY indication of this event having happened? (Actually I’m trying to remember now, was there any pics of Vandal standing with Hitler in the opening show? If yes, then we have the question of how he could run from Germany to USA and set up a new life in 13 years – especially when he looks kind of minority).
That’s what I mean, this isn’t a real place, it’s a caricature. Sure most of the other places they’ve visited over the show are too, but they also didn’t waste long stretches of running time to comment on these caricatures. Yes, racism is bad. Sexism is bad. Ain’t nobody watching the show believes otherwise and the only people saying racist, sexist things are teenagers doing what they always do: trying to shock and rebel against their parents. I came to watch a show about superheroes time-traveling around in a spaceship, not be bored by a predictable after-school special.
If the previous episode set the high mark of our current curve, this episode has now set the low mark. F- and I pray we never see anything worse.