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!)
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 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*
After a terribly inconsistent fourth season (which many fans felt was the worst since season one), Arrow is back. Last year, Ollie found true love and an expanded super team. By the end of season four, he lost it all. Arrow S05E01 kicks off an attempt at going back to basics. He’s mayor of Star City by day and a lone vigilante by night. Sexy nerd Felicity still serves as his operation manager, but has Ollie in the friend zone. This season’s flashback sequences take place in Russia. Now that you’ve been brought up to speed, turn on your spoiler shields. It’s time for some Arrow Points on Arrow S05E01, using the RPad.TV binary system.
Arrow is Back to Full A-Hole Mode (Good): After becoming a nice, well-adjusted vigilante in season four, Oliver Queen is back to being a dick in Arrow S05E01. He’s argumentative and brooding. Four seasons of evolution and positive change have been killed in one episode. While some might feel that reverting Arrow back to a wannabe Batman is a bad thing, I prefer him this way. As he gets happier, Ollie also becomes less interesting. Besides, the more Arrow plays up the gloom and doom, the better it contrasts with The Flash.
The best part about A-Hole Arrow is that we’re spared from Dramatic Arrow. This show is at its worst when the character gets dramatic and emotional. Grant Gustin pulls it off with aplomb in The Flash. When Stephen Amell tries any kind of acting that doesn’t involve punching, kicking, or being a dick, the scenes are unintentionally funny. While I’m certain that Dramatic Arrow will pop up a few times during season five, I hope his appearances are infrequent.
Oliver Queen Sucks as Mayor (Bad): Brooding Arrow also means disinterested Mayor Oliver Queen. He’s late for meetings and doesn’t seem to care too much about governing. For someone that has killed people for “failing this city,” he’s failing it himself.
Arrow Keeps Whining About the Past (Bad): Spoilers have already shown that Arrow gets a new team of super buddies this season. Felicity even has them picked out on her computer. Before the new Arrowettes are assembled, Ollie has to whine about needing a team. He desperately wants John Diggle to return and for his sister to resume her crime-fighting life as Speedy. Thankfully, he gets the message that those things aren’t happening by the end of Arrow S05E01.
Quentin Lance is Drunk Again (Good): The former drunk has turned into a current drunk after losing his daughter, job, and girlfriend. He’s back on the wagon, but the show does’t really convey the severity of alcoholism. Instead, he seems to rebound pretty quickly after a pep talk centered around a Russian proverb. While I would have liked to have seen more of Broken
Matt Hardy Quentin Lance, his character is more interesting when the world sh*ts on him.
Why is Tobias Church a Threat? (Bad): While I understand that the producers wanted a “back to basics” season, the bad guy in Arrow S05E01 seems totally flaccid. Arrow has taken down a legion of super soldiers fueled by
Miraclo Mirakuru. He’s taken down an army of assassins lead by a man with centuries of combat training. Last season, he brought down a most charming sociopath with mystical powers. Tobias Church, while charismatic and menacing, appears to be nothing more than a gangster. In TV and movies, the threats normally escalate. Fighting a gangster seems too easy for Arrow at this stage of his career. Tobias Church is a mid-boss, at best. Hopefully there’s more to him than meets the eye or there’s a much bigger villain coming.
Life-Threatening Flashback Scenes Don’t Work (Bad): One of the cutaways had Ollie tied to a chair while a Russian gangster held a gun to his forehead. This was stupid. We obviously know that he made it of the chair alive. The cutaway was supposed to be dramatic, but since the outcome was never in question, it completely lacked drama.
Star City Didn’t Love Black Canary (Bad): For a hero that stopped hundreds of criminals and helped save the city a number of times, Black Canary didn’t get much love. There were like 30 people at her memorial service. At least five of the attendants were part of Mayor Ollie’s security detail. I guess the citizens of Star City are a bunch of ingrates (or the show didn’t have the budget for hundreds of extras). Also, Laurel’s statue looked more like Stargirl than Black Canary.
Staying on the Black Canary tip, one of Laurel’s dying wishes was for Ollie to make sure there would always be a Black Canary. She’s basically saying, “I’m dying because I wanted to dress up and play superhero. Please make sure another young woman has the opportunity to die dressing up and playing superhero.” Perhaps that was the morphine speaking….
Willa Holland Has Hot Legs (Good): Willa Holland has grown up to become a sexy women. Yeah, I’m being a stereotypical male, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her legs. Yum.
Arrow is Cool With Killing Again (Bad): Continuing Arrow’s path of regression, dude just straight up killed a guy to protect his secret identity in Arrow S05E01. After promising his best friend, Tommy Merlyn, that he wouldn’t kill again after season one, Arrow is back to his murderous ways. Maybe killing Damien Darhk at the end of season four has him back on the wagon. Ollie and Quentin should probably go to an AA meeting together to discuss their respective relapses.
Anatoli is the Most Interesting Person on the Show (Bad): Aside from Willa Holland’s legs, the best part of Arrow S05E01 was Anatoli Knyazev. Some of you will remember him as the wise-cracking Russian fellow that was trapped with Ollie on Lian Yu. Others will recognize the name as KGBeast from the comics. Whatever the case, it turns out that he’s responsible for Ollie’s connection to the Bratva. As funny as he was as a castaway on Oliver’s Island, he’s even funnier as a full-on Russian mobster. The bad news is that a supporting character from a flashback sequence was the second-best part of the show. That’s a problem.
There’s a New Dark Archer in Town (Good): The show ends with a archer dressed in black killing a cop. This is potentially interesting. Hopefully it’s someone from the League of Assassins or another menacing group. The show needs a bigger threat than a well organized gangster. In addition to adding some mystery, the new Dark Archer offers hope for bigger and better things to come.
The Flash has zoomed back to The CW after a thrilling first season and a very good (but uneven) second season. With lots of changes set up after season two, the show’s writers and directors have a blank canvas to paint on. If the first episode of The Flash season three is any indication, the entire CW Arrowverse will be changed forever. Now kindly turn on your spoiler shields, so that I can share Flash Facts (opinions, really) on The Flash S03E01.
When we last saw the Scarlet Speedster, he mucked around with Earth-One’s timeline in order to save his parents. This season will borrow from the “Flashpoint” storyline from the comics. The Flash S03E01 kicks off in a world where both of Barry Allen’s parents are alive and he’s not the Flash. He’s been living in this world for three months. Now that you have the setup, it’s time for some Flash Facts using the Speedforce-tested RPad.TV binary system.
Bumbling Barry is…Not So Good (Bad): After two years as a superhero and saving Central City from countless threats, Barry Allen has become…bumbling and incompetent. He struggles to talk to his true love (on Earth-One) Iris West and stumbles as the Flash. How the hell did this happen?!? Perhaps three months in Pleasantville negated the confidence that two years of superheroics built. Whatever the case may be, I can’t wait to get confident and capable Barry back. Yeah, Flash is supposed to be more vulnerable than Arrow, but he’s also supposed to be, you know, good.
The CG Looks Better Than Ever (Good): I loved the CG from the speed battles between the good speedsters and the Rival in The Flash S3E01. The high-speed combat looked thrilling and better than what I expect from television (especially CW television). Hopefully the CG budget was spent evenly and the special effects are consistent episode to episode.
Keiynan Lonsdale Surprised (Good): As a total mark for the comics version of Wally West, I wasn’t big on season two’s TV Wally West. At his best, Keiynan Lonsdale was wooden and boring. At his worst, he made Channing Tatum look like Daniel Day Lewis. Lonsdale got off to a great start in Flash S3E01. As the Kid Flash version of Wally, he was charmingly cocky and surprisingly funny. He killed the delivery when he responded to Caitlin’s question of whether she was kidnapped or not. While I didn’t care for him in season two, I’m rooting for this version of Wally West to remain throughout season three.
How Did Barry Not Know Wally Was Kid Flash? (Bad): I have no idea why Barry had to unmask Kid Flash to figure out he was Wally. Barry is a CSI by trade. He has more than two years of experience using super speed (and the heightened senses that come with it). He knows Wally. He’s lived the guy. It made no sense for him to be surprised by the reveal.
Billionaire Cisco is Okay (Good…ish): I was entertained by arrogant and condescending Cisco Ramon in Flash S03E01. It was a nice change of pace for a character that’s normally so lovable. That said, Cisco is the heart of the show. I need goofy, sarcastic Cisco back ASAP. Hopefully the temporary fix to Flashpoint brings back the Cisco we all know and love.
Kiddie Eye Doctor Caitlin is Adorable (Good): Caitlin has always been the most saccharine character on The Flash. The Flashpoint version of Caitlin turned her goofy goodness up to 11. She was silly, but enjoyable. This pediatric ophthalmologist version of Caitilin was fun for an episode. As with Cisco, I hope the real deal is back next week (even though I secretly have a crush on Flashpoint Caitlin).
Drunken Joe West is Disturbing (Good): The Flashpoint version of Joe West is angry and drunk. He’s not the strong and loving father figure we’ve seen for the last two seasons. This was, perhaps, the most disturbing part of Flash S03E01. I’m used to Joe being the backbone for the entire Flash family. Several other characters draw strength from him. Seeing him as a bitter drunk was off-putting. Kudos to the writers and the excellent Jesse L. Martin for pulling this off so effectively.
Iris West Has a Purpose! (Good): For much of season two, Iris served as…attractive background decor. She served no purpose for many episodes. She’d give a silly inspirational speech every now and again, but more often than not she was there to look beautiful. In Flash S03E01, she was integral to the plot and gave a silly inspirational speech. I was so used to her being useless that I forgot that she could be an effective key character.
Prepare For Wacky Rogues (Good): The end of Flash S03E01 set up the coming of Flash villain Dr. Alchemy. I absolutely loved this. Flash has always had a colorfully bizarre rogues gallery and Dr. Alchemy is as weird as any of his contemporaries. Rumor has it that Mirror Master (one of my personal favorites) will be in season three as well. I’m looking forward to the Arrowverse versions of both of these longtime Flash characters.
Where Does Reverse Flash Go to the Bathroom? (Bad): I didn’t see a toilet in his makeshift prison cell, did you?
It was fun chatting with Jeff Hilbert, founder and CEO of Starting Point. One of the oldest agents and managers in the videogame business (in terms of experience, not chronologically), Jeff Hilbert was also the founder of Digital Development Management (DDM). Think of him as the Ari Gold of videogame agents…but with less tantrums and profanity. At DICE Europe 2016, Jeff Hilbert will be talking about “Realistic Opportunities in AR/VR.” In addition to touching on that subject, he spoke to me about traditional movie and television agents entering the videogame business. My favorite part of the conversation was when he spoke about aspects of Hollywood he’d like to see come to games. Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with Jeff Hilbert.
I’m indifferent to Hollywood talent coming into games, to be honest with you. I don’t really see any individual that makes me care whether they make a game or don’t make a game. I just don’t care.
Now, there are some IPs I’d love to see in gaming. I love the fact that Robotech is being discussed. I think that would be awesome! I love that Marvel, DC, and Tolkien have been coming in. That’s been spectacular! I don’t see Kim Kardashian as an individual because of the way that she’s managed herself. She’s done a brilliant job managing herself as a brand and that’s great to have in gaming.
So, I’m not really into individuals coming in as much as I am into the brands. I love when new brands are introduced into the gaming industry, because they bring in new people that didn’t realize that they love playing games.
Additionally, he mentioned some videogame properties he’d like to see get a second chance in movies and television. He also had some great stories of the attitudes some Hollwood talent had when entering the gaming world.
Kindly check out my full conversation with Jeff Hilbert when you have a moment.
The Game of Thrones season 6 finale was mostly incredible. There were big revelations. There was an awesome green explosion. There was lots of character development. And there was some of the best acting and music the series has ever known. After two viewings, I’m still trying to digest it all. Naturally, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s finale. For my part, here are 11 observations to get things started.
[Raise your spoiler shields, please!]
1) The Music Was Brilliant: The first sequence of the Game of Thrones season 6 finale felt different from any other scene in the series, simply because of the music. Game of Thrones music is normally string-heavy, but this composition featured piano and cello. The score helped make the sequence feel unique and more powerful.
2) Pycelle’s Death Will Haunt Senior Citizens: I’m pretty sure most people over 65 have this nightmare — a gang of children pummeling you and stabbing you to death. Or maybe this is what makes Santa Claus wake up in a cold sweat in the North Pole.
3) Tommen Would’ve Been a Great Pro-Wrestler: What did you think of Tommen Lannister’s Game of Thrones season 6 finale exit? Some are saying that he fell out of the castle. Others are saying that he dove out of the castle (in which case, he lost points for not sticking the landing). I’m saying that he went for a swanton bomb. His “suicide dive” totally reminded me of Jeff Hardy’s swanton.
4) Cersei Has Gone Full Sith: Cersei Lannister borrowed one of Maleficent’s gowns and fully embraced the dark side in the Game of Thrones season 6 finale. Her one redeeming quality (aside from her cheekbones) was how much she loved her children. With all of her kids pushing up daisies she probably thought, “F*ck it. I’m going to rule everything!!!” In previous seasons, her plans were never as clever as she thought they were. At the end of this season, she was completely victorious.
5) Ned Stark’s Character is Still Being Developed: My heart melted during the Tower of Joy scene, where it was finally revealed that Jon Snow is not Ned Stark’s bastard and is really Lyanna Stark’s son. As fantastic as that reveal was, it really made me think about what an honorable man Ned was. He honored his sister’s last request, keeping an enormous secret from his wife and best friend. He (lightly) sullied his own name and let the world think that he disrespected his wife, all for Lyanna and her son.
Go back and watch the scenes from season 1 where someone bring’s up Jon’s parentage to Ned; you could tell the topic made him uncomfortable and those scenes feel even heavier with the official reveal.
6) Liam Cunningham, Actor: The scene with Davos Seaworth dressing down Melisandre was short, but boy was it heavy. Cunningham did the most with his time. You could feel Davos’ anger, anguish, and sorrow coming through. While it was “only” my second-favorite scene in the Game of Thrones season 6 finale, it was definitely the most skillfully acted one.
7) Samwell Tarly Has an Orgasm in the Library: Sam walking into the Citadel library reminded me of the scene in Beauty in the Beast where Belle sees Beast’s library…but taken to the next level. I’m certain Sam had a walking wet dream upon seeing the thousands of books at his disposal. Hopefully he does some research on white walkers and doesn’t get lost in trashy romance novels written by lonely maesters.
8) Lord Wyman Manderly Should’ve Been Fatter: Yes, the showrunners got a large man to play Manderly, but he wasn’t large enough. In the books, he’s derided as “Lord Too Fat to Sit a Horse.” Television Manderly could easily ride on a (sturdy) horse. This was my biggest disappointment with the Game of Thrones season 6 finale.
9) Lyanna Mormont Should Rule Westeros: With a thrashing speech, the 10-year old ruler of Bear Island united the squabbling northerners and got Jon Snow declared as the new
KingInDaNorf King in the North. This was my favorite Game of Thrones season 6 finale scene on several levels. First, Lady Mormont owns and should be ruling Westeros. Secondly, Jon Snow’s KingInDaNorf King in the North moment mirrored Robb Stark’s nicely. Lastly, I loved the bit of uncertainty thrown in at the end when Sansa stops smiling as she exchanges looks with Littlefinger. Was Sansa happy to throw a wrench into his plans? Or does she want power of her own? I’m curious to see what games, if any, she’ll play next season. She shouldn’t get too ambitious though, because Lyanna Mormont will annihilate her with a glance.
10) Jaime’s Having Bad Flashbacks: The Kingslayer’s return to King’s Landing must’ve been quite a shock. (Let’s assume someone clued him into recent events on the way to the throne room.) He comes home to find that the last of his children died and his sisterlover went all Mad King Aerys. Remember, he’s ridiculed as the Kingslayer, but few people in Westeros know about Aerys’ vile wildfire plans. With his children gone and his sisterlover doing the exact thing he committed regicide for, this is a huge turning point for Jaime Lannister. I’m looking forward to his redemption angle next season. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended becoming a Queenslayer as well. That would arguably fit into Maggy the Frog’s prophecy for Cersei.
11) Team Targaryen is Ready to Rock Westeros: Daenerys and Varys are fantastic recruiters. Just look at that fleet at the end of the show. You’ve got the Unsullied, Dothraki, and three dragons flying under the Targaryen banner. They’re joined by boats and troops from House Tyrell, House Martell, and House Greyjoy. While Cersei Lannister is sitting pretty in King’s Landing at the end of the Game of Thrones season 6 finale, a formidable force is coming for her from the east. I can’t wait for next season’s battles!
The penultimate episodes of Game of Thrones are almost always the best ones in a given season. With that in mind, “Battle of the Bastards” delivered. By most accounts season six has been a strong outing for Game of Thrones and last night’s episode was the best of the bunch. It was a marvelous blend of emotional moments, brutal choreography, and some of the best cinematography the series has ever seen. Here are some random thoughts on “Battle of the Bastards,” using the RPadTV binary system. Time to don your spoiler shields, please.
Good: This episode must have cost a fortune. Between the dragon CGI and all the people involved in the titular Battle of the Bastards, I don’t know that I’ve seen an hour of TV that looked so expensive to produce. (Leave a comment if you can think of any, please). Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s tackle the episode in a (somewhat) chronological fashion.
Good: The action kicks off in Mereen, which has been a dull destination this season…but not today! After a mildly amusing conversation between Tyrion and Daenerys, Dany’s crew has a completely amusing encounter with the wise masters (who are apparently masters of guyliner). After some clever banter, Dany goes into full Khaleesi mode with her three dragons and it’s absolutely glorious. Watching them burn down slaver ships instantly transforms you into a gleeful teenager. Dracarys motherf*ckers!!! On the ground, Daario and the Dothraki slice up the Sons of the Harpy. Back at the top of the pyramid, Grey Worm makes the slavers’ guards wet themselves with a few choice words. The head of the Unsullied then slices two of the slavers’ throats with one shot and (awesomely) takes a few seconds to adjust his vest. The opening is completely exhilarating, mostly because of the dragons, but I got a kick out of Grey Worm too.
Good: Outside of Winterfell, the bastards parley. Jon thinks he’s cleverly manipulating Ramsay, but he’s back in “You Know Nothing Jon Snow” mode. As expected, Ramsay is in psychotic dick mode and accentuates the word “bastard” while talking to Jon. Snow asks for a one-on-one battle, but Ramsay refuses. The Battle of the Bastards is on.
Good: Jon’s Battle of the Bastards war council devises a plan. It’s quite clear that Davos is the smartest person in the room (militarily speaking). They come up with a desperate strategy that hinges on them being patient and letting Ramsay’s forces charge. Sansa chides Jon for not valuing her knowledge of Ramsay. She tells him that Ramsay plays and doesn’t get played. Jon responds with, “Oh yeah? I fought white walkers!” Sansa is cold, dismissing her brother Rickon’s chances at survival. She’s also secretive, not telling Jon about her messages to the Vale and the forces that are coming. Some people dismiss this as idiocy, but I see it as her being manipulative. If the Arryn soldiers were already with Jon’s crew, Ramsay would have happily holed up in Winterfell and outlasted a siege. Showing up with a relatively small army gave Ramsay the confidence to come out and play. Sansa’s desire to see Ramsay dead is equal to her desire to reclaim her family’s home. That’s my theory, anyway.
Good: Davos and Tormund have a fun conversation before the former goes off to be alone with his thoughts. Jon visits the (still) despondent Melisandre. He asks her not to bring him back if he dies again. They wonder why the Lord of Light brought him back in the first place. Their exchange is meant to give Jon a sense of vulnerability in the Battle of the Bastards, but any reasonable fan knows that he’s going to survive. The scene shifts back to insomniac Davos, who comes across some snow-covered ashes and finds the stag toy he gave to Princess Shireen. He realizes that the little girl that taught him how to read was burned to death and it’s a powerful scene. The shot of him standing over the pyre, with the sun coming up and his cape blowing in the wind is just beautiful. It’s the Game of Thrones equivalent of Luke Skywalker staring at the twin-sun skies of Tatooine. Before Davos can dwell on this morbid revelation, the battle horns sound.
Good: Back to Mereen for a quick bit,
Asha Yara and Theon have come to parley with Dany. They offer her 100 ships and their support, in exchange for granting the Iron Islands independence. Dany agrees on the condition that the Iron Islanders cease their rape-and-pillage lifestyle. There are several interesting things here. It’s nice to see both Tyrion and Theon comfortably slip into the role of valued advisor. The bigger thing is the connection between Dany and Asha Yara. They identify with each other — women in a male-dominated world, insane fathers, usurpers that killed their insane fathers, etc. They both admire what the other is doing and there’s an instant bond. Naturally, most immature male viewers want them to be a lesbian couple. This immature male viewer would rather see them form a Taylor Swift squad of kick-ass Westerosi women. Naturally, leadership would eventually go to Lyanna Mormont.
Good: The combatants in the Battle of the Bastards are lined up! Ramsay starts the skirmish in an expectedly sadistic way — releasing Rickon while firing arrows at him. Apparently Rickon never played tag as a kid, because moron runs to Jon’s side in a straight line. His chances of survival would have went up exponentially if he zigged and zagged. Serpentine, Rickon, serpentine! After a few playful misses, Ramsay shoots Rickon straight through the chest. More importantly, Ramsay played Jon as Sansa predicted. He idiotically leaves himself open in the middle of the battlefield. Inexplicably, Jon opts for a 1-on-6,000 battle and continues to rush the enemy. Thankfully, Davos is smart enough to realize that they have no choice but to cancel their plans and charge into battle, in order to defend their leader.
Good: From here, the Battle of the Bastards gets completely nuts. It appears as if Ramsay’s forces are going to slice up Jon, but Snow’s team rushes into the fray. The melee combat is chaotic and intentionally disconcerting. On the fringes of the battle, there’s a nice contrast between the teams’ ranged strategy. Davos opts to hold fire, since they’d end up killing some of their own men. Ramsay lets the shots fly, oblivious to any collateral damage. It’s also interesting that Jon chooses to fight with his men, while Ramsay calls the shots from a safe distance.
Five minutes into the battle, Jon is a bloody and dirty mess. He goes into beast mode, dealing death at a rapid pace while miraculously avoiding volleys of arrows (some call it plot armor, but I’m chalking it up to R’hlorr). The combat is visceral and frenzied (totally admired the choreography, filming, and editing). Ten minutes into the Battle of the Bastards, there are piles of dead bodies fertilizing the plains of Winterfell. It gets to the point where fighting is taking place on top of small hills of corpses.
The Battle of the Bastards escalates as Davos’ unit charges the field and Smalljon Umber’s does the same for Ramsay’s side. Unfortunately for the good guys, they’re encircled by Ramsay’s soldiers in a phalanx-like formation. The baddies keep closing in, stabbing Snow’s army with pikes while forcing them into a tighter space. Within the circle of death, Wun Wun gets to show off his giant-ness. More chaotic melee combat ensues. You see spilling guts and severed limbs. It’s all hypnotically awful.
The Free Folk try to retreat from the phalanx and attempt to charge over the hill of corpses. Jon gets caught in the charge in an amazing sequence. He’s drowned by bodies and the sensation of helplessness is palpable. He’s trying to make it through the dead bodies surrounding him and the live ones running him over. I actually felt claustrophobic as I was watching the scene.
It looks like a total victory for Ramsay…when suddenly the knights of the Vale arrive. Borrowing a page from the Rohirrim, they break through the phalanx. After getting his ass handed to him by Smalljon, Tormund bites out his jugular and stabs him with a tooth. Wun Wun starts smacking around Ramsay’s soldiers with a shield. The tide has turned, as Littlefinger and Sansa watch from afar, satisfied by their machinations.
Good: Ramsay retreats to Winterfell Castle, pursued by Jon, Tormund, and Wun Wun. The Bolton Bastard thinks he’s safe inside the castle walls, but a barricaded door is no match for a giant. Wun Wun breaks through the door, but takes a ton of arrows. He ends up looking liking a giant-sized version of dead Boromir. He’s moments away from death and has a nice unspoken scene with Jon…that’s ruined from a Ramsay arrow to the eye.
Jon and Ramsay go one-on-one. For some reason it’s bow-and-arrow vs. shield. Uh…okay. It ends with Jon punching Ramsay into a bloody pulp. He’s about to beat him to death, but spares him for his half-sister. After all that she’s been through, it’s Sansa’s right to deal with Ramsay.
And she does so in a satisfying though predictable way. With his predilection for feeding people to his dogs, I thought Ramsay would die by getting eaten by his own dogs or getting eaten by Ghost. Ramsay wakes up in the kennels, tied to a chair. Sansa says that the world will forget him and his house. She watches as Ramsay’s own dogs eat him, before walking away with a feint smile. It’s a remarkable turn for Sansa. She left Winterfell as an idealistic and foolish girl that dreamed of marrying the prince. She returned as a hardened and manipulative woman that didn’t think twice about her brother being a casualty of war or feeding an enemy to dogs. That’s quite the 180, don’t you agree?
Lastly, I totally marked out when the direwolf banners replaced the flayed man banners at Winterfell. I hope the change is made in the opening credits too.
Bottom Line: This was an amazing episode of Game of Thrones. The battle in Mereen and the Battle of the Bastards were fantastic. The action was incredibly well executed, while there was enough entertaining dialogue. There are some viewers that are saying the episode was predictable and derivative of The Lord of the Rings movies, but those are the kind of people that eat fun and crap misery. This is up there with the other huge battle episodes like “Hardhome” and “Blackwater.” It’s the best episode of a very strong of Game of Thrones.