Kara Danvers, This Is Your Life
Arrowverse 2019/2020 Season: Week 17
This week we have a clear illustration of how good, and how bad, the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming. truly can be. As I've observed during the course of this season, each of the shows has can waver from great to terrible (with Batwoman being the sole exception as it's still too new to be a tired retread of itself), and this week delivers both one of the best episodes of the season as well as one of the worst. Amazing.
I know we talked about Supergirl last week but when you have a great episode like this week's "It's a Super Life" there's no choice but to double-dip:
Supergirl, Season 5, Episode 13: It's a Super Life
Traditionally I hate clip shows. These are episodes that replay sections from previous episodes under some guise of the characters remembering when they did things. Oftenn they're called "Remember When..." episodes and, almost invariably, they suck; they've just padding the producers use to get an extra episode out of old material without having to pay the writers, or actors, or production staff as much that week. They suck.
"It's a Super Life" starts off like it's going to be a clip show, with Mr. Mxyzptlk (previously played by Peter Gadiot but now played with impish glee by Thomas Lennon) showing up to atone from his previous misadventure. He'll let Kara have anything she wants that helps her fix something and makes her happy. Kara decides that everything would have been better if she would have just told Lena Luthor the truth about who she was earlier -- had she done that, they wouldn't be in this fight, their friendship wouldn't have ended, and Lena wouldn't have gone off to work with Lex. So, to figure out when Kara should have told Lena that truth, Mxy and Kara go back through old episodes of her life (quite literally going over VHS tapes at times) to find the right moment when Kara should have told Lena.
However, the changes aren't that easy to make. Every time Kara tells Lena earlier and earlier, something goes wrong and one (or the both) of them die. They never once find a solution where telling Lena earlier prevents a bad future from occuring. Worse, if Kara ignores Lena completely (never violating her trust by simply ignoring Lena altogether), Lena still goes bad. There's no winning here. What Kara comes away with is the knowledge that she basically ddid all she could and if Lena wants to hate her for it, wants to go work with Lex, then Kara will accept it. But, as she tells Lena at the end of the episode, if Lena is going to act like a villain, Kara will treat her like one. No more safety, no more protection.
It's a big move for the character and a smart moment for the series. Having Kara simply change the past would have been a cheat and while it might have been nice to have Kara and Lena working together again it wouldn't have felt earned. Instead, the difficulty between these two friends is allowed to shift and change and the show finally cements this status quo. It's sad that we have lost Lena has Kara best friend, a good friendship that felt earned and helped to drive this show at times. But if this is going to be the way forward, at least the show is committing to it (especially with Kara finally getting over her guilt so she can move forward).
And to think this came out of a clip show. Amazing.
The Flash, Season 6, Episode 13: Grodd Friended Me
And now we get to the worst episode of the week. In "Grodd Friended Me", Barry is tinkering with some kind of ear piece so he can have an A.I. assistant in his head. Instead he manages to get his mind flayed and trapped inside Grodd's mind prison. Grodd, the telepathic, super-intelligent, meta-gorilla, has been trapped in a chemically-induced coma since last season (when he went on one of his many rampages), but he feels like he's changed and he wants Barry's help to escape the mind prison. And, for some reason, Barry goes along with it in the end.
Seriously, this episode is stupidi. For starters, Grodd has never been an interesting character, and no matter how the writers try to bring him back they've never found a way to make him compelling. Putting Barry in Grodd's mind so the two can talk doesn't change this fact, nor does trying to create stakes by saying Grodd is dying and just wants to be free. The character still is a bad collection of CGI and flat acting; it would be better if the show would retire the Gorilla and let us be free of this mess.
Worse, this show pulls the "Barry is trapped in another mind and if he dies there he dies for real" trope. I'm pretty sure this is, like, the sixth time we've seen this trope this season on the 'verse (we literally had it last week over on Supergirl). We get it -- bad things happen if you die somewhere else, so you don't have to keep explaining it like we haven't already seen The MatrixA speculative future story with superhero and anime influences, The Matrix not only pushed viewers to think about the nature of their own reality but also expanded what filmmakers could do with action sequences and filming. It then launched a series of movies, games, and comics, creating a franchise still talked about today.. At the very least, stop explaining it like this idea is new and brilliant -- it's neither.
While this awful A-plot is going on very little else happens. Mirror Master is truly revealed but we don't understand her plan at all yet so lord only know what she's up to, if she's the real villain, or how any of this ties into the lackluster Black Hole story. Meanwhile, Nash Wells, the least interesting version of Wells we've had yet, bums around for a bit then seemingly is attacked by the Reverse Flash for no reason. Things happen, nothing lands, and by the end of the episode I was utterly bored.
Please, Flash be better. At this point even Black Lighting is better, and I absolutely hated this week's episode of that show as well. Ugh.
Elsewhere in the 'Verse
- Batwoman had a moderately okay episode dealing with the aftermath of the alternate-Beth's death. The interplay between Kate and Alice was great (honestly reminded me of what's going on with Kara and Lena over on Supergirl) but the case of the week involving a girl who was basically a vampire wasn't very well developed and, long run, ended up going nowhere. This show is much better when it focuses on its serial storyline. Without Alice, or access to a better breed of Batman villains, this show just shouldn't do case-of-the-week tales.
- Black Lightning was... well... awful. All those praises I was singing a few weeks ago about how the show finally had found its footing and was becoming one of the best things in the 'verse? Yeah, ignore those because we're back to the tedious, poorly written family drama running alongside a bunch of random villains who aren't interesting and only serve to take time away from the one villain that was interesting: Odell at the ASA. I wish we could get back to a version of this show with Black Lightning fighting the ASA because everything we've been seeing just isn't worth it.
- Finally, Legends of Tomorrow was exactly the show you expect. And by that I mean we had a new villain, Gengis Kahn, who decided to take over Hong Kong crica 1997 via electric scooters armed with machine guns. It's exactly as ridiculous as you think an the show didn't even care. If you're going to be dumb you gotta revel in it and this show totally does.
- Supergirl and Batwoman are off this next week so we'll see what pickings we have to watch next time around...