This is The Breakdown, one of Ground Punch’s brand new creations in 2017! You may recognize me from such reviews as The Flash: “Monster” Review, Supergirl: “Survivors” Review, or from one of Ground Punch’s weekly podcast, Superhero Highlight Reel. While I enjoyed reviewing both The Flash and Supergirl, heading into 2017 I wanted to both improve and drastically change my approach to these reviews. The Breakdown is where that path has taken me.
Opposed to writing ~1,000-word reviews for each episode, singularly focusing on the duo of The Flash and Supergirl, I will instead be focusing on all CW DC properties including the addition of both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. I will also be bringing Fox’s Gotham into the mix, as well as upcoming comic book-centric shows like FX’s Legion, and NBC’s Powerless to The Breakdown. This new format will allow me to still discuss and dissect the shows that I love, while not restricting myself or burdening myself with long-form review formats. Without further ado, this is The Breakdown for the week of January 23.
Who Are You?
Episode 510 – Aired on 1/25/17
Worried that Prometheus is right and he is truly a killer at heart, Oliver looks for any ray of hope and finds it in what seems to be the miraculous return of Laurel Lance.
While the reveal that Laurel was just Laurel from Earth-2, AKA Black Siren, came with little surprise, she was intriguing, engaging, and provided a “villain” that will have a lasting effect not only within Arrow but across the CW-Multiverse. This wasn’t a wasted one-off villain like we’ve seen on The CW, but a villain that had a personal connection to Oliver, and a villain that we know we’ll see again. Additionally, were we introduced to two new characters that bring a plethora of interesting opportunities going forward. We were introduced to a “new” Black Canary, which opens up a realm of possibilities to mimic the current comic book happenings happening in Green Arrow: Rebirth, and were finally introduced to Talia al Ghul, who now has the opportunity to cement a legacy on Arrow.
B-Team strikes again! And of course, by “strikes again” I actually mean, they entirely wasted my time. While I can appreciate Arrow continuing to try to get viewers to invest in Curtis and Wild Dog and the rest of B-Team, I would much rather see that time spent with our titular Arrow. In a powerful episode that had such an impact with Black Siren interacting with Oliver, sincere moments between Oliver and Felicity, and an interesting scenario playing our with Diggle, it was a shame to see wasted minutes with Curtis and Wild Dog. I appreciate Arrow trying to give the supporting cast more scenery to chew on, but I’d rather that time be spent with the characters we care the most about already.
I find myself consistently surprised by how much I am enjoying Arrow in Season 5. This trend continued this week, due to the interactions between Oliver and Black Siren, as well as the repercussions that came because of it, between Oliver and Felicity. On top of that, I am still invested in the battle against Prometheus and continue to anxiously await the big identity reveal. Furthermore, I don’t hate the flashbacks, which I haven’t been able to say for too long to remember. I can’t wait to see how Talia al Ghul interacts with Oliver, and the place that she’ll cement in the Arrow-verse.
Borrowing Problems from the Future
Episode 310 – Aired on 1/24/17
Barry is tormented by his vision of the future where Iris is murdered by Savitar.
Well, unfortunately, there wasn’t much to praise this week when it came to The Flash. While I lamented at the majority of this week’s episode, I do have to give a shoutout to the emotional narratives that were present this week. For both Caitlin and Julian, and Barry and Iris, there was emotion with meaning this week. For Caitlin and Julian, we saw the continued budding of friendship, based off of both Caitlin’s fear of becoming Killer Frost, as well as Julian’s “survivor’s guilt”. While I hope that The Flash doesn’t use Caitlin as relationship fodder again, I’m excited to see her continued partnership with Julian. This also extended to Barry and Iris this week. While I haven’t ever loved their relationship, this week there were some powerful moments based around Barry’s choice to tell Iris about her impending death. While Barry and Iris have had a back and forth, and often juvenile relationship, the moment shared this week felt real, and felt right.
I cannot stand HR, and I cannot stand HR when The Flash dedicates more than 1/3 of the episode to him and his museum plan. While it provided some sweet moments in the very end, and I’m all for “SCIENCE!”, I still cannot stand HR. As I’ve previously stated, I love the variety that Tom Cavanagh has brought to The Flash, but that potential is being squandered as HR. With the end tag, as well as a synopsis posted for next week, we’ll presumably have an episode jam-packed with HR, but I cannot see The Flash winning me over at this point. Additionally, The Flash decided to set up some big moments that will be coming in the rest of the season, and while this isn’t necessarily bad, I’m not sure exactly how to feel about it, which I’ll address in The Flash‘s Breakdown!
I don’t exactly know how to feel about The Flash following this week’s episode. While I appreciated the emotional pairings of Caitlin and Julian, and Barry and Iris, as well as the acceptance (finally!) of Wally as a speedster, I’m not sure how to feel about The Flash revealing the bigger moments of the rest of the season already. Yes, I can appreciate the fixed future versus free will changing the future, but we are now aware of the more “important” moments that will be coming in the rest of the season. While The Flash may be able to execute these moments in new and exciting ways, a certain mystique is immediately taken away by being aware of these big moments so far in advance. I do trust The Flash, but it’s going to be an uphill battle to keep the audience interested and intrigued for the rest of the season.
Raiders of the Lost Art
Episode 209 – Aired on 1/24/17
When Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn try to capture Rip Hunter in 1967, they create an Aberration big enough to draw the attention of the Legends.
Legends of Tomorrow celebrated George Lucas’ legacy this week, and passed with flying colors. Not only did they pay homage to Lucas and his influence on the genre, as well as the inspiration he brought to the world, but they wrapped it with a lovely Legends bow that advanced the overall narrative this week. There was hardly a wasted moment this week, not only with the Legends attempting to rescue Rip, but also with Mick and Martin making for an unlikely pair.
Overall, I had few, if any, complaints about the episode this week. The one caveat to the praise, of course, is Rip Hunter. Oh, excuse me, his name is Phil! While I am glad that Legends of Tomorrow didn’t go with an amnesia trope, I was disappointed and annoyed by Phil. I can appreciate the different approach by Arthur Darvill, but much like Tom Cavanagh, that doesn’t make his performance any less irritating. But again, a small nitpick among a fantastic episode.
Legends of Tomorrow, despite being the black sheep of the CW DC family, continues to impress and amaze every single. Legends is fun, smart, and entirely engaging. Even with a large cast, and an even more multi-faceted cast with the inclusion of the Legion of Doom, the missteps are few and far between every week. Even though Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl often take centerstage when the CW DC shows are talked about currently, Legends of Tomorrow should and likely will be talked about with much more consistent praise in the future.
Episode 209 – Aired on 1/23/17
While searching for a missing woman, Supergirl and Mon-El end up on another planet where Roulette leads a slave trafficking ring.
Supergirl continues to be chock-full of optimism and hope, which makes it continue to stand out week after week. Will I always enjoy the brutality of something like Arrow or Daredevil? Of course. But Supergirl continues to stand out on the back of Melissa Benoist’s performance, week after week after week. This not only remained consistent in the climax of the episode where she stood up to her jailers, even without her powers, but also extended to her continued relationship with Mon-El. While Season 1 of Supergirl threw Kara into a love-triangle with Winn and James, Season 2 has had a much more metered approach with Kara and Mon-El. While predictable in how the relationship is advancing, it’s still a joy to watch the chemistry between Benoist and Wood.
Just as I cannot stand B-Team on Arrow, the continued Guardian storyline on Supergirl has me just as frustrated. While I will give props to both Mehcad Brooks and Jeremy Jordan to bringing some emotion to this week’s episode, and understand that The CW is trying to find Winn and James’ place within Supergirl Season 2, that doesn’t make the Guardian storyline any less frustrating. While it’s been played with, this storyline needs to come to a confrontational head already, because it’s wishy-washy at best. Additionally, this episode certainly took its time, almost one-third, mostly because of the additional Guardian story, to get into the best bits of the episode.
Despite not a lot happening within this episode, with only a few minor teases of what’s to come for Mon-El, Supergirl was (mostly) enjoyable this week. Of course, I want the Guardian storyline to come to some sort of conclusion soon, and I disliked the wishy-washy nature of Alex and Maggie this week, but as usual, the optimism and hope within Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl carried this episode throughout. In a week where Legends of Tomorrow banked successfully on the legacy of George Lucas and Star Wars, Supergirl was again (mostly) successful under the direction of Kevin Smith and the slight homages to Star Trek. Even if this week was mostly filler, it was still an enjoyable week in the land of Supergirl.
Fox, FX, and NBC
Mad City: Smile Like You Mean It
Episode 313 – Aired on 1/23/17
On the run from Gordon and Bullock, Dwight tries to revive Jerome and, in turn, activates his acolytes around Gotham City. Meanwhile, Selina’s mom’s intentions in Gotham are revealed, and the power play between Penguin and Nygma escalates as Barbara’s plans are set in place.
The return of Jerome paid off in spades, and everything that followed after his return highlighted why Gotham continues to excel in Season 3. While I have openly complained about how Season 1 of Gotham both introduced and subsequently burned villains left and right, and have additionally lamented about the often wasted one-off villains on The CW, Gotham’s third season continues to treat its villains right. Not only was Mad Hatter given an interesting and engaging arc across 11 episodes, but they were able to entangle him with the characters we care about on Gotham. This continued with the return of Jerome, as he came back from the dead with inspiration from Greg Capullo’s Joker. While I wasn’t sold on Jerome in his initial outings as a “proto-Joker”, he seems to be embracing all of the right things in his return.
Selina’s mom had ulterior motives! What a shocker! While this provided for some emotional punches between both Selina and her mom, and Selina and Bruce, it was still predictably lacklustre. Additionally, while Penguin’s rise to power has always held mostly interesting tidbits to keep my attention, his manipulation this week was, again, painfully obvious. While I’m still excited to see the endgame of both him and Ed becoming closer to their comic book counterparts, the “B” Story this week was far less interesting than everything with Jerome.
When the credits hit this week for Gotham, I couldn’t have been happier. While Gotham was hit and miss in Season 1 and 2, Season 3 has continued to feel fresh and reinvigorated. Gotham feels dangerous and exciting, with the threat of Jerome looming above as his transition into (possibly) an “official Joker” as the star of the show. Gotham feels far more like its comic book counterpart; Gotham is a city being torn apart, in need of heroes. Gotham is slowing coming into its own in Season 3, and I cannot praise it highly enough.