The mid-season finale of Lucifer was the best thing I’ve watched on television in 2016. The writers, directors, and actors did a stellar job of deftly mixing comedy, drama, and action. The big reveal at the end was fantastic…though a bit evil (*snicker*) considering that the next episode won’t air for seven weeks. Lucifer S02E10 was, quite simply, the show at its best. Here are some random thoughts on the mid-season finale. (Kindly put on your spoiler wings!)
The outstanding comic book series Rat Queens is returning on March 1, 2017, according to writer/creator Kurt Wiebe. The book has been on hiatus since May 2016. Owen Gieni will be the new Rat Queens artist.
If you’re not familiar with Rat Queens, the comics tell the adventures of four very different friends that are outcasts, but have found love and acceptance in each other. The setting is swords-and-sorcery fantasy, but with a hilarious satirical edge. The swords are sharp, but the humor is even sharper. The way it pokes fun at Dungeons & Dragons and fantasy conventions is fantastic. Beyond that, the books have a lot of heart and portray four strong women. The humor and satire are Rat Queens’ obvious hooks, but the portrayal of their friendship is touching.
After an almost shockingly strong second episode, Arrow S05E03 was a mild letdown. The show wasn’t bad, but it moved things in a direction where the writers have failed before. There were too many characters and too many storylines going on. The show is best when it has a clear focus and often falls apart when it tries to do too many things at once. Certainly there were several elements introduced in Arrow S05E03 that are meant to pay off later in the season, It will be interesting to see if the writers will be able to keep all the plates spinning. Oh yeah, WWE fans also had a special treat this week. Now it’s time to wield your anti-spoiler recurve bow and get ready for 10 random thoughts on Arrow S05E03.
After a supremely successful cinematic debut, the Guardians of the Galaxy will return to the big screen next year. Slated for a May 5, 2017 release date, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 brings the lovable intergalactic rogues back together for an all-new adventure. As you can see from the trailer below, it looks like Peter Quill’s crew will be teaming up with some old friends (frenemies?) this time around. I’m super-psyched for the Guardians sequel and it’s most definitely on my must-watch list for next year. For those of you that aren’t averse to trailers, kindly check out the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 teaser trailer and let me know what you think (please!).
After two relatively weak episodes, The Flash strikes back with its strongest effort this season. A large part of why The Flash S03E03 rocked was that an outstanding character finally returned. It goes beyond that though. Most of the characters have more or less rebounded from “Flashpoint” and things are back to normal — or as normal as it ever gets for Barry Allen and his friends at STAR Labs. An excellent new villain (with one major flaw) debuted and a new hero showed up as well. Whether it was due to the first two episodes being weak or The Flash S03E03 being a genuinely good show, I was very much satisfied with this week’s outing. Now zip on your spoiler hoodie, because it’s time for nine random thoughts on The Flash S03E03 using the RPad.TV binary system!
I’m So Wild About Harry (Good): Usually I try to do these things in chronological order, but the return of Harry Wells destroys order. Early in the episode, Harry pops out of breach from Earth-Two and immediately goes about dominating the show. Going into season three, I was hoping that Flashpoint would create a third version of Harrison Wells, but after one episode, I’m thrilled that Earth-Two Harry is back. He’s funny, complex, formidably intelligent, excellent at throwing tools, and disarmingly endearing. Tom Cavanagh is fantastic at playing this character and makes the other actors he has scenes with better. Think of The Flash as the Los Angeles Clippers and Cavanagh as Chris Paul. Yeah, the Clippers are a decent team without CP3, but they’re so much better with him (until the second round of the playoffs, anyway *snicker*).
Oh yeah, Harry Wells’ angry use of “Not!” jokes completely ruled.
Barry and Iris Suck at Dating (Bad): The show kicked off with Barry and Iris having an awkward date. We’re supposed to believe that they’re true loves, no matter what multiverse they’re in. Instead, they’re romance seems forced and uncomfortable. As I’ve noted in my previous “Flash Facts” columns, I’m not a fan of bumbling Barry. Unfortunately, that’s the guy Iris was on a date with.
The Debut of Jesse Quick (Good): Harry Wells came back to Earth-One because his daughter is now a speedster. Naturally, the overprotective Harry doesn’t want Jesse to be running around as a superhero. His paternal efforts to thwart her heroic aspirations were fantastic. While TV Jesse Quick’s origin is completely different from the comics’ version, I enjoy the actress and am looking forward to the seeing her in costume. Besides, any character or storyline that keeps Harry Wells involved is an excellent thing for The Flash.
Magenta Characterization (Good): This character was a pleasant surprise. I was concerned going into the episode, since Magenta is a Wally/Flash villain and not a Barry/Flash villain. Magenta also suffers from mental illness, which is easier to write about sensitively in print and more difficult to do in a television script. My worry was that the writers would butcher the nuance and simple make her a crazy bitch. Instead, the writers and actress delivered a great character. Joey King was wonderful at showing a damaged and frightened Frankie Kane. She was also good at playing the sociopathic Magenta. Playing split personalities can be tricky and I enjoyed the job that King did with the material she was given.
Magenta Physical Acting (Bad): The one aspect of Magenta that really bothered me was King’s arm motions. It was…bad. King’s arm-magnetism-powers acting in The Flash S03E03 reminded of Sophie Turner’s wretched fingers-on-the-temple telepathy acting from X-Men: Apocalypse.
Caitlin Dazzles (Good): First off, props to Danielle Panabaker’s stylist. Her hair looked amazing in The Flash S03E03. More importantly, Caitlin Snow had some good material to work with. Her reluctant talk-her-out-of-being-a-hero speech to Jesse was awkwardly cute. When Harry tries to chide her for failing, she lays into him and tells him what’s what. It was nice to see the forceful and logical side of Caitlin Snow come out. Or is that Killer Frost’s personality creeping to the forefront….
Malfoy is Still a Dick (Good): Although he didn’t have too much to do this week, I’m happy that Tom Felton is still around and still being a dick to Barry. British people excel at being snarky.
Wally Becomes Idiotically Reckless (Bad): Wally is still being mopey, but it appears he’s getting dumber too. The kid really wants to be a superhero. After hearing how Jesse’s powers activated, he runs in front of a car to try to replicate the process. Moron. Towards the end of the The Flash S03E03, you can see the wheels in his head turning when Frankie reveals how Dr. Alchemy activated her Magenta powers. It looks like a safe bet that Wally is going to do something extraordinarily stupid in order to become a superhero. (Like, I don’t know, make a deal with Dr. Alchemy?!?) He’s lucky that Barry is there to bail his mopey ass out.
Barry and Iris Git Gud at Dating (Good): Barry was so much better during his second date with Iris. He was more confident and had a rational (yet heartfelt) explanation for why the first date bombed. Grant Gustin is great at being confident and sensitive at the same time, and it really showed in this scene. This is his wheelhouse. Hopefully he stays in it for the remainder of the The Flash season three. Bumbling Barry only works in alternate timelines. Long live Confident-Yet-Vulnerable Barry!
Big surprise — Arrow was better than Flash this week! Color me shocked (which, in my head, is a bright combination of red and yellow). Arrow S05E02 was full of action, heart, and intrigue. When the writers skillfully weave these elements together, the show is at its best. While I doubt that Arrow S05E02 will be remembered as one of the show’s all-time great episodes, it was much better than the vast majority of season four. More importantly, it’s a glimmer of hope that Arrow is pointed in the right direction (get it?!?). Now don your spoiler cowl, as it’s time for 10 random thoughts on the latest episode of The Bipolar Adventures of Oliver Queen using the scientifically sound RPad.TV binary system.
Oliver Gets the Band Back Together (Good): After being convinced by Felicity and Diggle to put a new team together, Oliver starts to assemble the new gang in Arrow S05E02. The expected candidates, as seen in last week’s episode, are Curtis Holt (who will eventually be Mr. Terrific), Rene Ramirez (Wild Dog), and Evelyn Sharp (former Black Canary impersonator and future Artemis). Initially, Ollie is a complete dick to the recruits. He trains them harshly and refuses to divulge his secret identity. After a pep talk from Felicity (more on that later), he realizes that he has to earn their trust. Arrow reveals that he’s Oliver Queen and starts using his real voice with the recruits (instead of his crap Batman voice). While some of this plot was predictable, it’s an important step forward for this season. I’m excited to see how the new team shapes up, particularly Curtis, as I’m a mark for Mr. Terrific (fair play!).
The Ragman Cometh (Good): One surprise in Arrow S05E02 was the introduction of Ragman. In the wrong hands, this character would seem goofy on TV. The director and special effects artists did a good job of making his powers look cool. The writers did a nice job of weaving Ragman’s origin into Havenrock and Genesis Day from season four. As a fan of DC’s occult comics like Justice League Dark and John Constantine: Hellblazer, I’m pleased that Ragman is being handled well (so far). I hope he makes a nice addition to Team Arrow v2.
Diggle’s Latvian Adventures (Good): A few of my friends had an issue with John Diggle’s plot in Arrow S05E02, but I think it mirrored Oliver’s activities nicely. Dig is betrayed by a superior officer and set up when a shady arms deal falls apart. Prior to getting betrayed, Diggle was lecturing a new soldier on how trust is a core component of the military. Dig’s trust storyline was a nice contrast to Ollie’s trust storyline.
From Russia, With Line (Good): I’m enjoying the Russian flashback sequences so far (especially compared to season four’s crap flashbacks). As I mentioned last week, Anatoli Knyazev was one of the best parts of the season premiere. While the charming Bratva gangster didn’t have much to work with this week, Oliver Queen’s initiation into the Bratva was fun to watch. The whole “Get on the Line” exercise from Russia was used on the new recruits in Star City. I was shocked, perhaps naively, when the Bratva baddies killed all the other Bratva prospectives. The grimness of it all reminded me of the best parts of season one and two.
Arrow Throws a Fight (Good): Initially, I was annoyed when Tobias Church was going toe-to-toe with Ollie in Arrow S05E02. While he’s large and menacing, he’s just a glorified street thug. Arrow has gone up against Slade Wilson, Ra’s Al Ghul, and Damien Darhk. Church should be a warmup exercise for him. Later he revealed that he was throwing the fight in order to test Ragman’s morals and gain his trust. It was a cunning ruse that pleasantly surprised me. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Oliver can do more than punch, kick, and shoot arrows.
Friend-Zone Felicity (Good): For most of Arrow S05E02, Felicity Smoak was dazzling. She was quirky, funny, intelligent, and beautiful. With Diggle taking a timeout from the gang, she even filled in as the voice of reason. Her speech about the old gang sticking together because they believed in Oliver, not Green Arrow, helped give this episode a lot of heart. This was a sterling example of why Felicity is the most captivating (pretend) nerd on television.
Bad Liar Felicity (Bad): You’d think being around crafty people and facing off against devious villains would have helped Felicity become better at deception. When she lied to her new policeman boyfriend about why she needed a sample of Ragman’s rags analyzed, she became a bumbling mess. I understand that the writers are trying to play up her cuteness, but this felt like Season One Felicity. I’m confident that the lady has learned a trick or two after being part of Team Arrow for four years.
Drunk Quentin Lance (Bad): The world continues to sh*t on Quentin Lance. Still succumbing to his alcoholism, Lance missed a key security assignment that allowed Ragman to waltz into a building undetected. He was chatting with Thea about working for Mayor Queen, but decided to give up. He’s in a dark place and doesn’t see anything to live for. While I enjoyed how well Paul Blackthorne portrayed Lance as a drunk at the end of his rope, it was all rather depressing.
Thea Queen, Chance Giver (Good): Thankfully, Thea was there to save the day. The chief of staff formerly known as Speedy offered Lance a job as deputy mayor. While Ollie doesn’t believe that it’s a good idea to give a functioning alcoholic a position of responsibility, Thea believes that Lance can be better than he is now. She wants to be the one that gives Lance something to stay sober for and help him rise up. Her “we can do better that” speech was genuinely touching. Also, Willa Holland is pretty and has a sexy voice.
Prometheus Unbound (Good): The dark archer from last week was revealed to be Prometheus. This isn’t comics Prometheus — the flippant rogue that singlehandedly took down the Justice League. The made-for-TV version is obviously different. I’m intrigued, but a little scared. The character from the comics was incredibly cool — one of those villains that you couldn’t help rooting for. TV Prometheus has presence and certainly knowns how to make an entrance, but beyond that…who knows?!? Here’s an off-the-wall theory that almost certainly won’t pan out — wouldn’t it be cool if the Flash’s irritating timeline manipulation brought back an angry version of Tommy Merlyn as Prometheus?
After a mixed season debut, Barry Allen’s adventures continue in The Flash S03E02. Unfortunately, the show has gone from mixed to worse. Hopefully it’s just a bumpy start and the show will go back to being The Flash we loved during the excellent first season. Two episodes in, things aren’t looking great. It hasn’t been as bad as Arrow season four, but it’s a long ways off from its former glory (so far). Now kindly switch on your spoiler shields and get ready for 12 random thoughts on The Flash S03E02.
Felicity Smoak, Plot Device (Good): After the requisite “previously on The Flash” summary, Barry runs to the Arrow Cave to chat with the Felicity. I’m a complete mark for her nerdy hotness, so I love that she was in The Flash S03E02. Unfortunately, she’s just there as a plot device so that Barry can explain the mistakes he made while trying to fix Flashpoint. After some back and forth cuts between then and now, Felicity comes up with a brilliant plan of, “Fix this.” Yeah, her appearance was mostly meaningless…but it’s Felicity
and I’m in love with her. (For the record, I refuse to believe that Emily Bett Rickards isn’t a sexy nerd IRL even though I really know she’s not.)
Barry Has Created Earth No-Fun (Bad): In trying to fix Flashpoint, Barry has come back to a world that’s sorta kinda like the one he came from. The chief differences (to his life, anyway) are with Cisco, Joe, and Iris. Let’s start with Mr. Ramon. After being Billionaire Dick Cisco in Flashpoint, we get Morose and Moribund Cisco Ramon. He’s not the fun, clever, and witty boy genius we’ve enjoyed for two seasons. Instead, he’s hung up on his brother being killed by a drunk driver and Barry’s refusal to go back in time to save him.
While Cisco’s angst is understandable, the friction between Papa and Daughter West is less so. Similar to the original world, Joe lied to Iris about her mother still being alive. In this timeline, she’s still angry about it. She doesn’t talk to Joe unless it’s necessary and refuses to go to Chateau West.
Also, Diggle has a son instead of a daughter.
Malfoy is a Dick in Every Universe (Good): Tom Felton, best known for playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, joins the fun as Julian Albert in The Flash S03E02. He’s a CSI that specializes in metahuman activity. He also hates Barry and treats him like crap. At the end of the episode, he confesses that it’s because he doesn’t trust Barry and knows there’s something off about him. The great thing about this is that Felton gets to play a dick, which he’s wonderful at portraying. It also shows that not everyone in Central City PD is a complete idiot. You’d think a building full of detectives would figure out that something is amiss with their coworker and, I don’t know, maybe start to connect the dots between him and The Flash. Perhaps this is why British people are perceived to be smarter than Americans….
Dr. Alchemy Lost His Doctorate (Bad): Like WWE’s Randy Orton, Edward Clariss hears voices in his head. They council him. They understand. They talk to him. The voices lead Clariss to a cult that hangs out in a sewer (I guess hygiene is a non-issue for these guys). The cult is lead by a cat named Alchemy (who has…interesting taste in headwear). He offers to restore Clariss’ life and powers as the Rival. Naturally, Clariss is all for it.
There are two things I didn’t like about Arrowverse Alchemy. First, he wasn’t Dr. Alchemy. Plain “Alchemy” is a crappy name for a villain. Who are his contemporaries? Chemistry, Astrology, Metallurgy, and Zoology? Secondly, television Alchemy doesn’t have the enjoyable campiness and cool powers of his comic-book counterpart. Instead, he’s a guy that wears a silly mask, talks in a goofy voice, and zaps people with a rock. As a fan of comic Flash’s rogues gallery, I was disappointed in the version of Alchemy that was introduced in The Flash S03E02.
Barry Has a Stupid Dinner Idea (Bad): In trying to fix the social dysfunction plaguing Team Flash, Barry gets everyone together for dinner. His hope is that the issues Cisco has with him, as well as the issues between Joe and Iris, can be fixed with Grandma Esther’s noodles at Chez West. This, of course, is an idiotic idea. It has been illustrated throughout the history of television that cure-all dinners never ever work. Why Barry thought this was a good idea in The Flash S03E02 is beyond me. Seriously, dude. Go watch a sitcom and learn something. The CW has several mediocre ones to choose from.
Wally Reverts (Bad): After being impressed with Wally in the season debut, the character regressed in The Flash S03E02. Instead of the spunky and sarcastic Wally that I had hopes for, the dull and wooden Wally returned. Hopefully this gets fixed when (if?) he becomes Kid Flash in the “fixed” timeline.
The “Can I Talk to You?” Technique Lives! (Bad): One of the most annoying techniques that’s amazingly overused in both Arrow and The Flash is when a character says, “Can I talk to you for a second?” It’s such a lazy way to force a transition. What it really means is, “Hey, can we get everyone else off camera? We need to have a scene with just us.” It’s fine to use as a crutch every now and then, but the Arrowverse writers abuse this technique.
Jay Garrick Returns! (Good): The Silver Age Flash returns to the show and brings Barry back to a Central City diner circa 1998. Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train” is playing on the radio and Dawson’s Creek is on TV. Jay gives Barry a lesson on the repercussions of time travel through the clever (not really) use of a coffee mug. Goofy lecture aside, it was nice to see Jay Garrick come back in The Flash S03E02. He’s a great character with a fantastic costume. Besides, in the comics, the Rival was originally one of Jay’s villain’s, not Barry’s.
Pep Talk Iris Fixes Everything (Bad): After Barry confesses to his timeline meddling, the rest of Team Flash talks it out at STAR Labs. Iris gives a “family” speech that she stole from Vin Diesel’s Fast & Furious playbook. On the plus side, I like that Iris continued to be a useful character in The Flash S03E02, instead of serving as attractive scenery. Unfortunately, her pep talk was contrived. I didn’t believe for a second that a short heartfelt speech was enough to fix a year of relationship damage.
The effects of the speech seemed especially silly when Cisco goes from being so angry at Barry that he barely talks to him to running out to save him from powerful metahumans. That’s one of the quickest 180s from “I hate you!” to “I’ll die for you!” that I’ve ever seen.
Alchemy is Awarded an Honorary Doctorate (Good): On the plus side, the Iris West one-woman pep rally snapped Cisco out of his funk. He’s clearly back on the path to goofiness and naming bad guys. And thus, Dr. Alchemy was born. It’s good to have you back, Cisco!
Caitlin is Getting Cold (Good): On the surface, the lovable and dependable Caitlin Snow seemed unchanged in The Flash S03E02. At the end of the episode, her hand appeared to be radiating cold powers. I’m torn about this. I enjoy earnest Caitlin. She’s completely adorable. I enjoyed a small dose of angsty Earth Two Killer Frost Caitlin last season. I hope that Caitlin’s personality isn’t changed by the Killer Frost powers. It would be even worse if the writers decided to do a “split personality” thing with her. Hold me, Felicity. I’m scared.
Where the Hell is Harrison Wells?!? (Bad): The biggest disappointment with The Flash season three is that Tom Cavanagh hasn’t been in the first two episodes. He was great as Evil Fake Harrison Wells in season one. He crushed it as Sardonic Tool-Throwing Actual Harry Wells in season two. I was greatly looking forward to a third version of Harrison Wells and am disappointed that Cavanagh hasn’t been in the mix. If The Flash S03E02 viewing audience were like a live WWE audience, I’d start a “We Want Harry!!!” chant. Say it with me. We want Harry!!! *clap* *clap* *clap*clap*clap*