“Supergirl” Season 1 – How Superman as a Character Can Work

supergirl

   “Supergirl” is one of the most underrated shows on television. After watching “Season 1” I can’t believe it took the CW to save the show given that the writing on this show runs laps around “Arrow” and is even comparable to the best of “The Flash” and “The Defenders.” This is a show that gets the Superman mythos and does some amazing things with it.

    The show was developed by Ali Adler, Greg Berltani and Andrew Kreisberg.

    The premise of the show is Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) was sent from Krypton to look after Superman but due to mishap she knocks Fort Rozz (an alien prison) out of the Phantom Zone and arrives after Superman has already grown up. She is adopted by the Danvers family but after having a normal life starts something more as new threats arise tied to her past on Krypton.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The DC Universe is a great world and this is coming from a guy who was only really a fan of Superman as he related to Bruce Timm’s Justice League and JLU or Batman: The Animated Series. This Universe goes in depth and makes it count and honestly made me want to seek out the best Supergirl and Superman comics.

The Action – The action is solid. There is a lot of stuntwork and for a show with a limited budget every death and hit counts. That is saying a lot given “Supernatural” and to some degree “Marvel” have been slinking away from this.

The Characters – The characters were the strongest part of thsi series and drove the action since a lot of the villians were very much “villain of the week” even if they directly related to the plot (with a few exceptions). I cared about the main cast and all of them grew on me.

Indigo – This is the “Supergirl” Brainiac and she is great for what she is. She revels in extinction and manages to be one of the greatest threats in the last half of the series.

Astra – Astra was fantastic and the actress Laura Benati does an amazing job in the role as both her and Supergirl’s biological mother. Astra is complex, she was right about the destruction of Krypton her approach of mind control is just wrong and even she realizes that at the end. I really wanted her to be the final boss, but Alex killing her complicates her and Supergirl’s relationship is a fascinating way.

Cat Grant – Cat is wonderful, she is quite narcissistic and she uses her podium to advocate for others while still trying to remain fair. She is someone using the pulpit of the talking head for better and I really like how she helps Supergirl grow. We also see her step out from under her mother’s foot and fully become empowered. She is a feminist, CEO, advocate and all around fantastic character who Calista Flockhart does wonderfully.

Maxwell Lord – This character is the Lex Luthor to Supergirl except rather than being a villain all the time he buys into her hope. He is portrayed as a self serving objectivst through most of the series but changes in the end when Cat Grant and Supergirl show him that people can be better. I really liked this character and hope he appears in “Season 2.”

James Olsen – I didn’t care about Jimmy Olsen until this series. He dies in “BvS” I heard but honestly…I don’t know the character. This series showed me what he means. He is Superman and Supergirl’s tie to the life of normal and what you can accomplish just by living. He is my favorite character at this point and Mechad Brooks is an actor I’d love to meet someday.

Winn – Winn is the brains that every series like this has. Sisko is it in on “The Flash,” Willow on “Buffy,” etc. He works and it great and I like that he is the Toymaker’s son…but his whole crush on Supergirl was awkward, though I’m still counting him a plus.

Martian Manhunter -J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter is my favorite character on the show. He’s a survivor who learns to trust a bit more and mercy over the course of the show from “Supergirl.” Can’t wait to see what they do with him in “Season 2.” He was one of my favorites in the original Bruce Timm “Justice League” along with that versions “Green Lantern” and obviously “Batman.” This one is more fleshed out though and more relateable which is only a plus. Seriosuly, watch the show to see his reveal.

Alex Danvers – Kara’s sister Alex is pretty fantastic. She’s a protector who can see the bigger picture and helps Kara grow through the show. She is truly both sister and mentor and I really love their relationship.

Supergirl – Kara Danvers is a wonderful character, she is the refugee trying to fit in and at the same protect her adopted world even though so much is out of her control. What she wants is what “Man of Steel” missed the point of. Superman is one of us both because he has to be and wants to be and their is even more responsiblity in that. Kara Danvers aka Supergirl captures that beautifully and watching “Season 2” now I hope for many more seasons. She shows us the dilemma of being different but a part of a community but also the power of hope. We can inspire in our actions and she does with mess ups and learning throughout the show.  Melissa Benoist rules in this role. She’s the first character of this type I’ve actually cared about…even Thor I could care less about as she captures the role of power and responsibility so much better.

Getting the Archetype of “Superman” Right – Superman should inspire us to be our better selves. As Clark Kent he is meant to be us and show us that the impossible can relate to the daily struggle and Kara in her job captures that so well. Even in classic “Superman” I didn’t feel this or animated Superman, but I got it with “Supergirl.” For once the narrative was captured perfectly on screen on my Superman is so iconic and it was in the amazing Supergirl who is everything in her own right using those archetypes.

Okay: Non – Non was an unformed idea. He wasn’t Zod but he wasn’t Astra. He should have been full Green Peace or full Dictator but instead we got the inbetween and that just hurt the narrative. He was okay and wasn’t bad but he wasn’t good.

The Final – Myriad controls Superman forcing Supergirl to work with her allies (Martian Manhunter and Alex her sister) to solve it. They do but I never got Non’s aim. He never felt wholly formed like Astra and that hurt the overall narrative.

Monster of the Week – There are a few “Monsters of the Week” like Red Tornado and Livewire that could have been more and they worked but it showed the show playing it safe. Which is why I only rated it as okay.

  This is a series that was severly unnderated. Kara Danvers in her arc is sympathetic and I got a lot of Buffy from “Buffy” vibes from her. She’s doing her best in the circumstances she’s in and at the end of the day want’s to succeed but also be more. She’s human but has all the abilities to accomplish more in the saving from disasters and there is power in that. That is the core of the Superman mythos. If you have the power to make a difference in another way, do so. That in and of itself is empowering and this show knows that way more than “The Flash” which in way embraces the alien part more so (Flash being a Meta-Human) than Supergirl. I highly recommend this series. It is well worth your time and CBS just gave up a gem to the CW.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Advertisements

“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Season 1 – An Amazing Adventure With Consequences

Legends of Tomorrow

The first season of “Legends of Tomorrow” is my favorite show to come out of the DC Universe on the CW. This show “Guardians of the Galaxy,” meets “Doctor Who” with a bit of “Firefly” thrown in for good measure. This is a story of outcasts and facing the past and the future, and from it realizing there is no going back and you can’t change some things…even with time travel.

The show was created by Greg Berltani, Marc Guggenheim, Andrew Kreisberg, Phil Klemmer, Sarah Schechter and Chris Fedak. Phil Klemmer was the showrunner for this season though.

The story involves Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) getting a team of misfits together to travel through time to stop Vandal Savage from killing his wife and son. They must not only deal with Savage’s forces but also the Time Masters (The organization Hunter was a part of) who oppose Hunter’s plan.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world is fantastic! There is time travel, a war over time and space, alien technology and flawed heroes…this is a world I care about and can’t wait to spend more time in.

Time Travel – Time travel is handled really well in this. There laws of it have it so that Time can be shaped but takes a while to set, so there are time limits to what you can change and what that change can be…and eventually it can get to the point where what you does doesn’t matter because the event is set in stone. This sort of time travel doesn’t allow for retcons and it all the more powerful for it.

The Soundtrack – Blake Neely really owns this series soundtrack, just like the rest of the CW DC shows. He captures the drama, adventure and stakes so well and it wouldn’t be the same without his score.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful and the best this show has looked and is better looking than “The Flash” Season 2, which looked great. David Geddens and Mahlon Todd Williams did a good job.

The Characters – The characters are the best part of this series and really make the adventure work. There are some cons in regards to some of the writing and drama that I’ll get into below, but it is at least consistently good even with some ham fisted moments of drama.

Vandal Savage – Casper Crump is great in this role as he plays the immortal Vandal Savage who is playing the long game for control and power. He’s a great villain and wins most of the fights he gets in. No matter how he is beat in the individual episodes he is able to use it in service of the long game. This makes his defeat by Hawkgirl at the end and the Legends all that more rewarding. He was a villain who really took the whole season to beat, and it was believable. He ends up having to be killed 3 times in 3 different time periods by the Team with the Hawk Team dealing with the final weapon that can kill him.

The Legends of Tomorrow – The Legends are the strongest part of this show, though White Canary is the weakest of the group as far as character and motivations…but all of them work. They are flawed and it feeds their character choices and motivations.

Kendra Saunders / Shay-Ara / Hawkgirl – Hawkgirl is the character who doesn’t want to be the hero and is pretty passive through a lot of the series but gains power and agency through the course of the film. She’s the only one who can defeat Savage due to the curse from the meteors and because of this she has the most working against her. Her arc is finding strength within herself and in the end is the hero saves them all. Ciara Renee does alright in the role.

Chris Carter / Hawkman – Hawkman like Hawkgirl is alright. He doesn’t have as much of an arc in this and is mostly a tool being used against or for the Team. He is all about destiny and is the one most certain in his roles through time. He does need Hawkgirl to save him at the end which is a role reversal from past stories they’ve had together in this series.

Jefferson Jackson / Firestorm – Jefferson’s arc is finding confidence in himself as Stein is the professor who is older and tries to dominate, throwing Jefferson into the Legends against his will. In the end Jefferson saves the day many times though and save Stein when Stein is dying.

Martin Stein / Firestorm – Stein is the mentor role in this and helps Rip and Jefferson through their pain they are going through. He is the closest thing to a father figure for all the characters and Victor Garber lends so much empathy to this role. I’m glad he survived this season.

Ray Palmer / Atom – Atom is the Superman of this series (which works considering Brandon Routh played Superman in “Superman Returns” it works perfectly! He is the character who has anxiety in regards to worth but is the positive and noble one. He’s the one real hero when the story has started and joins because he wants to make more of a difference.

Gideon – Gideon is the A.I. and she is awesome! She makes fun of the characters and reveals uncomfortable truths creating funny scenes and has agency! She is the one who stops Rip from flying them into the sun to save the world and to find another way. She is one of my favorite characters on the snow.

Mick Rory / Heatwave / Chronos – Dominic Purcell was unmemorable when he was introduced in the first season of “The Flash,” but in this we get to see just how much range he has! Mick Rory is one of the best characters on the show as he is a killer who develops nobility and even manages to help his younger self heal. The Time Masters also use him as Mercenary when the team leaves him after he betrays them and he becomes Chronos, one of the best mini-bosses in the series. After the team helps him find himself again and get past the Time Master conditioning he is ready to sacrifice his life for the team until his friend and partner Snart saves his life and sacrifices himself in his place.

Leonard Snart / Captain Cold – Wentworth Miller became one of the best parts of “The Flash” and he is easily one of the best parts of this show. In this we see the code he lives by and his internal nobility that has grown through “Flash” and ends with him saving the day on this show. He ends up being someone who helps Heatwave find his humanity and the others who have faced trauma. What an awesome character, his death actually mattered too as he stopped the Time Masters who were controlling all of their destiny’s.

Rip Hunter – Arthur Darvill is Rip Hunter, a Time Master who goes rogue to save his family…he’s basically the Doctor in “Doctor Who,” and it works! He is awesome in this role and his arc is dealing with the death of his wife and son and learning to trust and depend on others as whenever he goes rogue he gets into trouble. In the end he finds the team after he gets to say good-bye to his family and Gideon reminds him that she and him both want to live.

The Ending – The Ending is awesome! Captain Cold dies for the team to stop the Time Masters and give the team agency back from the Time Masters, the Team stops and destroys Randal Savage all together, they all become heroes and the survivors band together after the Hawk Team leaves and a man from the future sent by Rory warns them not to enter their ship, showing that their story isn’t over yet. Also the Thanagarians are coming (the ones who gave Savage, Hawkgirl and Hawkman their power) are coming and they destroy everything which is why the Time Masters were working with Savage to unite the world to prevent that, now it is up in the air and Earth is ripe for conquest.

Okay: Sara Lance / White Canary – Sara Lance was okay, for an ex-League of Assassins killer she isn’t all that hard in personality. She is the first bisexual character I have seen on the CW though which is pretty cool! She also helps Captain Cold with his trauma and she ends up facing her loss as her sister is killed when she off stopping Savage and dealing with that loss makes her realize she can’t stay in Star City.

Cons: Firestorm Drama – This drama is a bit hamfisted at times as we see Stein’s control issues and Jefferson’s anger issues rise to the surface again and again, even after they’ve been dealt with. Sometimes interesting things are done with it though, like when Stein merges with Jefferson’s Soviet Counterpart that Savage created and he realizes how good he has it.

Of Hawkgirl, Romance and Agency – Much of Hawkgirl’s drama is around her soul mateship with Carter and her attraction to other people. I hate a character being defined by who they love and that is a lot of her arc. I wish she’d broken away from this as the overall arc of the series was stopping the Time Masters who had been manipulating them and events all seasons and restoring choice to actions. She is a good character but I hate it when any character is defined by who they are attracted too. She’s a warrior Egyptian High Priestess who is 4000 years old, do more with that.

Even with the cons this was an overall better story and experience than both season of “The Flash.” This is largely due to the plot being stronger as the actions have consequences and even with time travel existing…some things can’t be changed so characters are forced to deal with loss and change and it lends power. These characters aren’t static and I care about the Legends and wanted to see them win against Savage. Savage also felt like a great villain too and he always felt like a threat, leaving this a story with consequences. I highly recommend this show and consider it the best to come out of the CW DC shows thus far.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

“The Flash” Season 2 – Character Growth, A Great Villain and an Ending That Could Ruin All of That

The Flash Season 2

   I’m going to take a leap and voice that the writers of this show may actually know what they are doing. This season was one of the best experiences of television I’ve had this year that wasn’t “Better Call Saul” or “Game of Thrones,” though those are in a camp of their own and this is very much something enjoyable but not Classic the way those are. Part of why it was so enjoyable is it took so much of what worked last season and built on it, which I’ll get into further in the review.

    “The Flash” was created by Greg Berltani, Andrew Kreisberg and Geoff Johns.

     The story picks up with Flash’s closing of the Portal as it ends up leaving rifts behind to Earth-2 (a world in another Universe) that a new enemy Zoom sends Meta-Humans through to kill the Flash so he can be the fasted man in the Universe. All is not as it appears to be though as new allies and enemies arise.

The Pros: The Soundtrack – Neely has created an amazing soundtrack! Everytime it plays I see this Universe the CW has created and it is beautiful. DC did something right.

The World – The World of “The Flash” is fascinating! Whether it Earth-1 and 2 and the meta-humans in both or the tie-ins to “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow.” This is a world I want to come back to.

Earth-2 – Earth-2 is fascinating! All the characters are in different roles…Iris is a detective, Joe is a lounge singer, Barry isn’t a meta-human, Snow is Killer Frost and Cisco is Reverb…some characters are outright villains like Killer Frost, while others are more complex like Dr. Wells who end up on good, but it is complicated.

The Meta-Humans – The meta-humans are part of what makes this show so interesting. Even the “Monster of the Week” metas manage to be fascinating in their own ways too. This is part of what makes Flash fun, they stick around and advance the plot.

The Weather Wizard Alliance – Weather Wizard teams up with The Trickster (Hamill’s back!) and Captain Cold. Captain Cold has a change of conscience and warns Flash while the others try to destroy the town on Christmas.

King Shark – King Shark is a giant man-shark Meta-human and has a great design! He’s got a Great White Shark’s head and is huge and strong enough to counter most of what Flash and his team throw at him. He’s also a running gag earlier in the show.

Gorilla Grodd – Grodd gets his own episode as we see him continue to grow and that his striving to understand while still have connections (he relates to Snow who was kind to him) and in the end finds an army/peace in a refuge on Earth-2. I hope he comes back. Seeing his plans in his episode were a lot of fun, as well as Wells from Earth-2 pretending to be Thawne-Wells and their interactions as Grodd figures out something isn’t right.

Killer Frost – Panabaker is a good actress! Her performance as the sociopathic meta-human Killer Frost was a lot of fun and I hope we see more versions of this character (or this character again as Zoom kills her at one point). She was an awesome villain and a good wild card.

Reverb – This character had such a short of time with us, which was a shame as he shows us Cisco’s power to warp reality and to jump to different Earths. This character needed more screentime.

Reverse-Flash – Flash goes back in time to learn how to travel faster to defeat Zoom and wants to learn from Reverse-Flash. He ends up being caught and we see how powerful the Reverse-Flash is as they blackmail one another into a deal but Thawne does eventually help the Flash. An earlier version of Thawne also travels to Flash’s future and Flash ends up having to send him back and learns that the Reverse-Flash is obsessed with Flash and wants to be him and destroy him completely because of his obsession. It is really well done.

The Heroes – The heroes are great in this and all of their flaws come to the surface. This is the beauty of the show, our characters aren’t perfect and because they aren’t they make choices that have consequences and change because of it.

Captain Cold – Captain Cold shows us he is more of a free agent than a villain as he warns Flash about the Trickster’s and Weather Wizard’s plan and logically we see where this follows when he is recruited in “Legends of Tomorrow.” This character has grown on me a lot and become a favorite, thanks to Wentworth Miller’s performance and some pretty good writing.

Mr. Allen – Barry’s dad is alright. Thawne confesses to everything in a video which frees him and Mr. Allen leaves. He later comes back only to be killed by Zoom, just as he is reintegrating himself into Barry’s life.

Cisco Ramon / Vibe – Cisco is comedic as usual and in this we see him deal with his darker side was he fears becoming like his Earth-2 counterpart in Reverb. He gets past it though thanks to his friends and Dr. Wells and he helps bring the team back together after their initial separation at the beginning of the season.

Dr. Caitlin Snow – Snow like Romon deals with her darkside as she learns about Killer Frost and the fact that Jay was really Zoom and serial killer. She doesn’t let this defeat her though. She helps save the city from Grodd and even becomes friends with him and is able to manipulate Zoom enough times for the team to get wins against him. Even when she’s trapped she’s never a victim and it is awesome.

Wally West – Wally is Joe’s son he never knew about and is obsessed with speed. His arc like Barry’s is learning his limits and learning that people care about him. He is hit by the energy force and may get the Speed Force or will have it in the future! He’s a great character and compliments everyone really well.

Joe West – Jesse L. Martin is one of the best parts of this show. In this we see him realize he had a son when his drug addict wife left and he deals with her death as well as integrating Barry and Mr. Allen into his growing family, and he does it well as we see him learn limits. He’s also kidnapped by Zoom at one point after his plan successful knocks Zoom into Earth-2 and the portal is closed. Joe is arguable the glue of the show. Without him it wouldn’t be the same.

Iris West – Iris also goes through a lot in this as we see her work through her grief over Eddie’s sacrifice and come to terms with her feelings for Barrie. We also see her rise in the paper and demonstrate that she is a leader and a full member of Team Speed for a reason.

Earth-2 Dr. Wells – Tom Cavanagh is one of my favorite actors on this show and it is great seeing him play a Wells that isn’t really Thawne and isn’t a villain. In this he is working to save his daughter from Zoom and in the end becomes part of the team on Earth-1 and finds the family he never had as we see how cruel and arrogant he was in his world and Zoom taking his daughter forced him to empathy.

Barry Allen – Barry goes through a lot in this. We see him reborn in the Speed Force and gain a new perspective and he realizes the endless possibilities, we see him accept his life without speed and we see him make the selfish choice he denied himself last season, even as he has a relationship with the one he loves (Iris). He goes through a lot and is forever changed. He fears losing everything and in the process does. At the end, Barry is probably a villain. He’s become like the Reverse-Flash using time travel for himself.

Zoom – Zoom is a great villain. The character is a serial killer who watched his father kill his mother and self and it broke him, and now he does the same to others. All he has is his speed and control over others. He is willing to kill past versions of himself he creates to becomes stronger…and in the end his darkness becomes a part of Barry as what he takes from Barry leads Barry to make the same choices. In the end his manipulating time gets the Speed Force’s attention and he is pulled away by the Time Wraiths. Though all that may be canceled out, now that Barry did what Zoom wanted and changed time.

Choices and Consequences – This is a story of consequences…we see everyone’s relationship to Jay change when they realize he’s Zoom (and their trust issues before come up from when the Thawne-Wells was around).

Okay/Con – Jessie Quick – Jessie is okay but she doesn’t really have a relationship outside of her relationship to Dr. Wells…though this could change as her and Wally are hit by another energy force (chat change Barry initially) so I think them being Speedsters is eventually in store.

The Cons: Ending Must Not Undo All the Growth – Flash goes back in time and saves his mother, defeating Reverse-Flash (though Thawne is still alive). What this means changes everything…though I want this to be another timeline or if it does change things for good that Flash is now the villain. He made a choice just for himself and did what Zoom and Reverse-Flash have wanted him to do. If that means nothing (or is resolved quickly), this fear will be a con.

  My biggest issue with this season was the possible reboot the series could take if the writers choose to go that way, which I would hate. Flash should not be the only one making choices and changing over the course of the show and this ending had me worried, even though I greatly enjoyed it because of how the characters grew and changed and the fact that Reverse-Flash and Zoom were proven right in the end…Barry acted like a villain in regards to taking what he wanted regardless of the consequences and that is beautiful and powerful. I hope that Season 3 doesn’t blow this because this show improved from last season and is a great show now. If you like comic book films you’ll probably like this series. Here is to this show building on it’s momentum and continuing to rise beyond the great show it has become.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Zoom

“The Flash” Season 1 – Fun and Light Finally Comes to the DC Cinematic Universe

The Flash Season 1

   A show that manages to have both drama, fun and keep a consistent tone. I never expected such a thing from the CW as so much of there shows are grimdark and have characters stuck in a cycle (like the Winchesters) so no growth happens. Not so for the 1st Season of “The Flash.” Every episode has consequences and leads to something greater. There are obviously issues, mostly that come from being a CW show and falling into some of the traps that seem to come with the territory of that network hosting your show but it is counterbalanced with fun and joy while still keeping drama.

      “The Flash” was created by Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns and Andrew Kreisberg.

 The story involves the Flash’s creation after Dr. Wells’s Collider sets off an explosion that creates Meta-Humans in Central City. From here Barry Allen must become the hero the city needs while solving the mystery of his murdered mother and stopping the Meta-humans in Central City.

The Pros: Central City – Central City is awesome! It is a city with hope that still has to deal with the problems of Super Humans who can cause problems. The fact that our protagonists made it this way adds another layer to that conflict within the city as well.

The Tone – The tone is uplifting even with Barry’s mother being dead and his father in prison. It’s very Disney in that way. It works and it is the only hopeful DC project I’ve seen so far. “Gotham” doesn’t have any for obvious reasons as that doesn’t really mix all that well with modern Batman and even Superman has gone grimdark. Not-so for the Flash who is still allowed his hope and innocence.

The Meta-Humans and Rogues – These folks are interesting even with many of them just being common thieves out for revenge. There were two who stood out though.

Everyman – Hannibal is a shapeshifter  and takes a lot to take down. He’s good at getting into our heroes’ heads.

The Trickster – Mark Hamill (who played “The Trickster” in other shows including the animated “Justice League”) is so much fun in this. He is like the Joker who he’s also played as we see him hold people hostage and put on a show. I can’t wait to see this character return as he almost outsmarts and beats the Flash, showing besides Captain Cold and Reverse-Flash and Grodd, that he is the best opponent.

Captain Cold – This guy is cold as ice and manages to manipulate our heroes to free the Meta-Humans. He isn’t a meta-human and more than makes up for it with his guile and his own version of honor as he never reveals who the Flash really is.

Allies – I enjoyed the allies even though they can fall a bit too much on to referencing “Arrow” sometimes. I get they are in the same universe but there is a better way to do crossovers.

Dr. Caitlin Snow – Snow is awkward and also one of the smartest members of the team and helps save Barry from the foot he often puts in his mouth on many occasions. I liked her character and that it took her a long time to come around to Dr. Wells her mentor being a villain.

Cisco Ramon – Cisco is the guy coming up with names for all the Meta-Humans. I really liked how we discover he is a Meta-Human as he remembers an alternate timeline where Dr. Wells kills him. Their relationship is great as he is the mentor and father Cisco never had and it is at S.T.A.R. Labs where he finds acceptance and family.

Oliver Queen/Arrow – He is the Batman to Flash’s Superman and the brood to the Flash’s joking and hope. That is really where their friendship really works. He joins the final fight and neutralizes the Alternate-Flash.

Felicity Smoak – She has  a great chemistry with Barry and the members of S.T.A.R. Labs and would have worked perfectly in this show. She helps characters grow and never stops being a friend.

Primary Antagonists – The main antagonists are a lot of fun. This is one thing the show did amazingly. Whether it is Grodd, Eiling or Thawne…these folks are intriguing.

General Eiling – Clancy Brown is in everything! In this we see him as the hunter of Meta-Humans as he hopes to weaponize them to stop the evil ones. To him people are a means to an end and he has a respect for the Flash even as Flash is probably on his hit list too.

Gorilla Grodd – Grodd was experimented on by Eiling and Thawne and continues to evolve. He is psychic and makes Joe nearly kill himself. He is also extremely strong and survives getting hit by a train. I can’t wait to see where his evolution takes him. I hope we get to see the Grodd of the animated Justice League as he was a Gorilla who felt like a threat and was on par with Lex Luthor in schemes at times.

Eobard Thawne/Reverse Flash – Thawne created the Flash since in his future he and the flash were enemies. He goes back in time to kill Barry as a child but fails due to the Flash saving his younger self so instead kills Barry’s mother as well as Dr. Wells to speed up the event and creation of Meta-Humans. He’s ambitious and complicated as even though he is a sociopath he clearly had feelings for his mentees and Barry. Tom Cavanaugh does a great job.

Protagonists – The primary protagonists are wonderful, even though the romances don’t really work.

Iris West – Iris goes from someone who is all about the social to an active journalist who first breaks the existence of the Flash to the world. Her arc is standing up for her agency as she shoots down Eddie or Barry whenever they try to speak for what she wants or what she should and shouldn’t know. This is what makes her compelling, not the love triangle.

Joe West – Jesse L. Martin (last saw him as Tom Collins in “Rent”) is awesome as the detective who adapts pretty quickly to the changing world of Central City. He works with Barry closely and has to deal with how his overprotectiveness alienates him from his daughter. He was one of my favorite characters and he is good at holding his own against the Meta-Humans.

Barry Allen/The Flash – Barry is kindness with a refusal to kill as we see him do all he can to see the best in people, even when he gets burned. He is naive and hopeful and it makes him a lot of fun and he deals with letting go of his mother and moving on with his life, taking all he learned from her to heart. He’s a bit of an obsessive nerd and it works for the character. I liked him when he wasn’t in romance mode.

The Parent Relationships – Wells and Barry, Barry and his Dad, Joe and Barry and Joe and Iris. These relationships really define the show as we see them grow in love and the relationships change overtime. Joe is overprotective but comes to trust his daughters choices in the end just as he does for Barry and Wells’s betrayal is contrasted with the fact that he wanted to give Barry what he had taken away and gives him the chance to save his mother.

The Flash and Reverse-Flash Relationship – These two are foils and contrasts made all the more complicated by the fact that the Reverse-Flash created Flash and became his mentor and friend. This makes his final demise sad in a way even as the writers write him as just ambitious and evil by the end.

The Cons: Eddie Thawne – There was the idea of a character here but in the end he was the trope “Noble Sacrifice” as he cornily says all he wanted was to be Iris’s hero. Lies, he wanted to be in a relationship with her, though due to plot it could never go anywhere.

Ronnie – Ronnie is the boyfriend who is just kind of there. He never feels like a character and just needs rescuing. He does save Flash a few times at least but he wasn’t needed for Snow to feel guilt over what happened. So in the end he was redundant. He does marry Doctor Snow at the end though.

Atom – What is it with boyfriends not being written all that well on this show? He’s the rich nerd billionare who bought out Oliver Queen’s company and is in a relationship with Felicity Smoak. He’s also just kind of there and exists only to have a mini-plot with Cisco. He is the reference part of the show.

Love Triangle – This didn’t work. I could see the ideas they were going for but in the end they just made everyone involved look like manipulative dicks. Whether it was Eddie and Iris passive aggressively fighting but still being together or the Flash lying to Iris and justfying himself by saying she likes him. Just didn’t work. The romances just didn’t work.

CW Look – Everything is too polished. It works sometimes but it makes it so destruction never looks real. It’s all too polished and CG.

Reference – Arrow and The Flash fight and it is cool until you think too hard about it. I get a meta-human making people angry and turning the Flash on Arrow but it felt more like a contrived reason to have them fight and to bring Arrow into things when The Flash worked fine with Felicity being the only reference to Starling City.

The Cliffhanger Ending – Future Flash stops Present Flash from saving his mom (no explanation is done but he does get to say good-bye. Eddie kills himself which erases Reverse-Flash who is his future descendant from existence and a big giant singularity forms above the city for the Flash to stop. The End.

    This was a good show and one I would definitely recommend. The Flash is one of the most underutilized characters in the DC Universe and is usually the glue of the Justice League. It is wonderful to see his comedic nature and charm put to good use here and allowing him space to breathe. This show could have easily been grimdark given the Reverse-Flash killed his mom, but he always manages to keep some level of innocence to him and light, even when he’s facing the dark. For this reason alone I’d recommend the show. It’s broken out of the dark tone the DC Cinematic Universe (Nolan “Dark Knight” Trilogy, “Man of Steel,” “Arrow,” etc.) seems to be trapped in.

Final Score: 8 / 10. Solidly good.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season 2, Episodes 4-8 – “The Geonosian Arc” – Senate Spies, Superweapons and the Masterful Geonosians

The Geonosian Arc

     “The Genosian Arc” is a pretty amazing one! We get to see war with consequences, have have complex villains, fascinating villains, flawed heroes and stories that make sense and that allow things to change. This episode also establishes how powerful the Geonosians are. Suffice to say, there was a lot to like about these five episodes.

      “Senate Spy” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Melinda Hsu, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen. “”Landing at Point Rain” was directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell and written by Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg. “Weapons Factory” was directed by Giancarlo Volpe and written by Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg. “Legacy of Terror” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Eoghan Mahony, Drew Z. Greenberg and Brian Larsen and “Brain Invaders” was directed by Steward Lee and written by Andrew Kreisberg, Brian Larsen and Drew Z. Greenberg.

      The story begins with Padme being asked to go undercover to investigate a former lover who might be a Separatist spy. From here things unfold as it turns out he and Senator Dod are working with Poggle the Lesser to create a secret weapons factory on Geonosis. This leads to the invasion and Second Battle for Geonosis which echoes far beyond the battle itself as secrets of the Geonosians are revealed.

Cato_foundry_holo

The Pros: The Story – The story is fantastic. We get to learn so much about Geonosis and the people of Geonosis, we get to see that Padme’s former lover does have a heart and isn’t a terrible person, as well as seeing the flaws in Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka, Luminara and Barriss. There are hints of terrible things to come too when some Clone Troopers are taken over by mind worms from Geonosis.

The Action – The action has consequences, Obi-Wan’s entire team is wiped out, leaving him alone to work with Anakin and Ki-Adi-Mundi. We get open great battles with Super Tanks taking out the Republic forces until they are destroyed on the bridge and we see the Geonosians always fighting until the end. Their ability to fly and undead ones controlled by their Queen as well as Republic troops controlled by the Queen reek havoc on multiple occasions as the arc unfolds. The planet might be finally beat, but the Queen is implied to still be alive, and we know Poggle escapes as he is alive when Episode III comes around.

“The Senate Spy” – I really enjoyed this episode so am putting it as a pro as it adds so much to the overall narrative and explores the romance of Anakin and Padme and made it believable. Of course Padme had lovers before Anakin and obviously that makes Anakin jealous since he is now secretly married to her. We see this all unfold and it is from Padme’s actions that the Republic is able to mount their second assault on Geonosis in order to destroy the base. My only issue is Anakin was way too jealous at times, though this does show how close he is the dark side, which is a theme of this arc. Score would be 9.5.

“Legacy of Terror” – In “Legacy of Terror” we learn that the Geonosians have a Queen and she is terrifying as she births Mind Worms that are able to take control of the dead and the living. We don’t know if she is destroyed when her temple is destroyed, but given how extensive the catacombs of the world are she and her legacy will live on. “Brain Invaders” exists because she is most likely alive still and still causing havoc beneath the rubble. This was a good horror episode as Clone Troopers are pulled into the darkness or killed by undead Genosians. We also see that Obi-Wan’s detachment is a con when he almost lets Luminara get brain wormed to see what it does. He also tries to negotiate with an open threat showing that diplomacy is not always the way. 10.

“Brain Invaders” – “Brain Invaders” shows us the dilemma of survival and what to do when your own people turn against you, whether against your will or no. Ahsoka has to debate killing a friend and we see that even when defeated the Geonosians are one of the greatest members of the Separatists and the influence of the Queen expands from beyond Geonosis. This episode was fast and smart and there is something a Clone says where he expresses their end purpose of killing Jedi. 9.5

The Characters – The characters are amazing in this arc! Whether they are Republic or Separatist, no one is unexplored and we get to fully understand the stakes the flaws of the characters because of it.

Senator Dod – This Neimoidian is pretty smart as he nearly removes Padme as a threat and makes Senator Clovis question his love of Padme when he mentions the obvious of her being a spy. He is ruthless too as he either captures or kills Clovis for failing, even if he did provide funding and means for the base on Geonosis. The Neimoidians tend to make great villains.

Senator Clovis – We never get why he joined the Separatists, but we see in the end that he truly loves Padme as he risks everything to save and all he gets to it is a possible firing squad. He is a flawed antagonist and I wish we’d gotten more time to know his motivations for his loyalty to the Separatists better, beyond money.

Padme – Padme is awesome in “Senate Spy.” She doesn’t put up with Anakin being controlling and treats Clovis as a friend and sees him as such until his betrayal, even though she is a spy. She is instrumental in the war and her loyalty to Anakin and standing up for herself make her a great character.

Poggle the Lesser – Poggle manages to survive through the fall of his world and we see that the Weapons Factory was his plan to a major degree as it was on his world. We also see how he serves the Queen and though he represents their world and is high up within his society, even he has a Master. He is not affected by Jedi Mind control and it is only after he is tortured that he gives up what he knows about the Mind Worms. I really like this antagonist. His people are pretty awesome.

Barriss – Barriss  is Luminara’s apprentice and we see her mentor Ahsoka on a few occasions when Ahsoka isn’t saving her. She is a great character and we see how calm she is and at peace with her Master’s detachment from her possible death. Ahsoka rubs off on her too and we see her become more active because of her time Ahsoka.

Luminara – Luminara is shown to be pretty aggressive and willing to go to great lengths to end the Battle of Geonosis. This leads to her getting caught when she is searching for Poggle the Lesser. In this way she does have a fair amount of Anakin’s personality type as a part of her. She is very much a Jedi Master though and is at peace with losing others and letting go of them, which she councils Anakin on when they are searching for their apprentices.

Queen Karina – Queen Karina is an ancient Geonosian and their Queen. She wants control over everything and her own people fear her, for good reason. She has a zombie army and doesn’t put up with threats from anyone.

Obi-Wan Kenobi – Obi-Wan had a few overly analytical moments this episode. When Luminara is caught he wants to capture a live worm and understand how to fight them better, he also didn’t negotiate very well as he asks the Queen to surrender and submit to the Republic. He is most like Ki-Adi-Mundi and has a high level of detachment, both for better and worse as his wanting to talk to the Queen and study the worm lead to Luminara almost being made a slave wen they had no way to destroy the worms at the time.

Ahsoka Tano – Ahsoka gets some great inspiration this episode. She stands up to Anakin not letting her do her job and she has a competition with him on destroying enemies showing her disconnect for life and love of battle that Anakin has. She also learns patience from Barriss and teaches Barriss hope when they are trapped and she finds a way for Anakin to find him. She also learns that war offers no good choices when Barriss pleaded to be killed to no longer be a threat. She is left to consider the choices that may happen and we see how much she grew this episode.

Anakin Skywalker – This episode is about how the war is pushing Anakin to the dark side. From his jealousy of Senator Clovis, his pride when he interrupts Ahsoka, to his torture of Poggle and his willingness to go to any lengths to save Ahsoka to the point that it blinds him to the consequence of battle and war around him. He is a great soldier and friend but not a good Jedi. This makes him complicated and very much a shade of grey and sympathetic too.

Anger and the Dark Side – We see Anakin torture Poggle the Lesser for information on the Mind Worms and from it get what he needs. When he is asked how he got the information he dismisses it. We see part of it when Anakin force chokes him and the “Imperial March” plays showing that Anakin’s desperation to save his apprentice and men is pulling him closer to the Dark Side.

Ends Justify the Means – One of the major themes of this arc is ends justifying the means. We see this when Anakin tells Ahsoka that if she had listened to Barriss and killed her when she was being controlled by the Brain Worms that might have been the right thing. In the end the Jedi’s goal is to save as many people as possible, regardless of the cost.

    There is so much to love about this arc that I can’t help but recommend it all.  Even “Landing at Point Rain” and “Weapons Factory” are good as episodes that show Ahsoka and Barriss making a good team and Luminara and Anakin. You also see how much it costs to get to this victory through these episodes and they are needed to really appreciate the whole. You see so many die, Obi-Wan injured, Ahsoka and Barriss nearly dying crushed beneath rubble as their sacrifice destroys the base and so much else. This entire arc is amazing and the glimpses of Anakin’s dark side and what the cost of war is in battle cannot be underestimated. Definitely a favorite story in this show.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

Epguide206