Supergirl 3×06: “Midvale”, The Flash 4×06: “When Harry Met Harry . . .”, Legends of Tomorrow 3×06: “Helen Hunt”, and Arrow 6×06: “Promises Kept”
On Supergirl this week, Alex and Kara went back to Riverdale . . . er, I mean Smallville . . . er, I mean the Secret World of Alex Mack . . . er, I mean . . .
On Supergirl this week, Alex and Kara went back to Midvale, their childhood home, to get Alex some post-breakup R&R. It’s always interesting to see a show do an episode that’s very different from its usual formula. Even though the flashback story of Kara and Alex as amateur teen detectives isn’t, in the broad scheme of the genre, very original, and it uses a lot of stock characters, it’s enough of a change of pace from what Supergirl usually does to make it all interesting.
It’s the actors who really sell it, though. As much as I often take issue with the writing on Supergirl, I have to stand up and solute their casting department. They not only got a pair of actors who look astoundingly like younger versions of Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh, but who can convincingly portray the underpinnings of Kara and Alex’s personalities, as well as just being all around good actors.
And, even when they barely have any screentime this week, our leads still absolutely nail every scene they’re in. Even more than the teen mystery flashback, what really made this episode feel different from the norm is seeing Alex and Kara just hanging out, without any real plot to deal with. Freed from the need to give exposition, advance important plot points, or keep the story moving in general, their natural chemistry just shines through. I would have loved to have seen more of them like that, but given that this episode was almost certainly designed to give the lead actors time off to film the crossover, that would probably be self-defeating.
We probably also have crossover necessities to blame for Sara going comatose at the end of this week’s Legends of Tomorrow, presumably allowing Caity Lotz to take most of next week off. That moment feels a little clunky, where even if I didn’t know about the crossover, I could probably guess it was happening for behind-the-scenes reasons rather than story reasons. But, prior to that, Legends gave us a typically fun episode. I always love when Legends packs an insane amount of crazy into the first few minutes, and this episode delivers with Helen of Troy’s appearance on an old school movie set, transitioning immediately to a mad science experiment that creates a “Freaky Friday situation”, all in the first five minutes. And by this point the Legends are so used to how crazy their lives are that none of this gets more than the mildest of surprise from them, which is hilarious.
I do have some gripes, though. While Neal McDonough is always great as Damien Darhk, bringing our recurring baddies into this episode felt like a mistake. Rival movie studios from the Golden Age of Hollywood going to war over Helen of Troy as their new star, while in the B-plot Jax and Stein switch bodies? That honestly sounds like more than enough to carry an episode. Having to spend so much time on the arc story means we don’t get to see them take full advantage of the old-time Hollywood setting, mostly just using it as a backdrop. How much fun would it have been if Ray actually had to take a producer up on that acting offer to complete their mission? Or if we got to see more friction develop in our crew whenever they get near Helen?
I also, at least initially, wasn’t crazy about Franz Dramah’s acting after the body swap happens. While Victor Garber was predictably excellent at slipping into the role of Jax, Franz as Martin seemed to be putting way too much emphasis on awkward breaths in the middle of sentences, to the point where I was actually feeling embarrassed for him. But I’ve seen a lot of people saying they thought his performance was hilarious and one of the highlights of the episode, which has me thinking I may have been looking at it in the wrong light. When someone does a William Shatner impression, you expect it to be far more cartoonish and exaggerated than the real Shatner ever was, even at his hammiest. Given Legends’s role as the goofball of the Arrowverse, maybe that sort of parodic approach is more fitting. I have a feeling this is something I’ll enjoy more on rewatch.
But if I’m gonna rewatch anything from this week, it’s going to be from The Flash, where Harry Wells assembles a Council of Wells from across the multiverse to bicker, make fun of Cisco, and, if they have time, maybe get something constructive done. If we can’t have yet another version of Harrison Wells in the main cast for Tom Cavanaugh to play, a bunch of cartoonish cameo Wellses is the next best thing.
I know there was a whole rest of the episode surrounding that bit, but it can be hard to focus on anything else. The main plot of the episode was . . . fine. There were some nice looking uses of powers from our heroes and our villain of the week (even if the stretchy guy vs. T-rex skeleton fight had some not-the-best CGI, which, yeah, that’s gonna be a tough one to get right). They’re still working out the kinks in Ralph’s character (randomly referring to Caitlin by her measurements crosses the line from sleazy to “do you have Austin-Powers-just-defrosted-no-internal-monologue syndrome?”), but hopefully now that we’ve had a role reversal with Barry getting to give someone else a pep talk, they’re getting him to where they want to have him.
As for Arrow . . . does this wrap up Deathstroke for the show? ‘Cause I have to say, after he was defeated and locked up on Lian Yu, nothing they’ve done with him has been that satisfying to me. Slade reuniting with his son Joe had some promise, but there’s just not enough depth or emotion there to really make the scenes with the two of them work. It doesn’t help that Arrow often has a problem with its various criminal enterprises feeling samey and interchangeable, so having two such groups in the same episode, just on other sides of the globe, makes both feel extra bland.
Still, it’s good that John’s finally coming clean about his health problem, especially if it gives us a return appearance by Lyla, who I was kinda worried the writers had forgotten about. Plus we got an Oliver fight scene where he’s far more brutal than we usually get to see him outside of flashbacks, and ghost Shado makes for a suitably creepy femme fatale.
- Why do teenage Alex and Kara share a bedroom? Based on exterior shots, their house is frickin’ huge.
- A few weeks ago, Arrow referred to Bruce Wayne as someone who exists in their universe. Now Supergirl indicates that Chloe Sullivan from Smallville also exists, and Legends has a quick drop-in on the island of Themyscira from Wonder Woman comics. If The Flash wants to keep up, they’d better finally pull the trigger on doing a full-fledged crossover with the 1990 Flash TV series.
- I really hope there’s no bad blood between Victor Garber and the Legends of Tomorrow writing staff. When an actor announces he’s leaving a TV show to go back to Broadway, it feels kinda mean-spirited to make him deliver lines about how he’s too old to be doing this kind of work anymore, all while one of his co-stars does a parody of his performance.
- When Black Bison chewed out that guy who collected Sioux artifacts, saying how he wouldn’t hang a Christian cross upside-down or throw an American flag on the ground, I kinda wanted him to say, “You obviously haven’t seen my death metal album collection.”
- I love Harry’s approach to friendship: “You told me to make new friends. I made new friends. It was a task. I complete tasks.”
- John really doesn’t hide the secret, illegal drug he keeps in his house very well. C’mon, man, your wife is literally a spy; you think she’s not gonna find that eventually?
- Curtis pointing out that, if he can help someone with a broken spine walk again, he can probably come up with something to help John’s tremor (along with Dinah’s “He’s got a point”) is a hilarious “Oh, yeah, we’re living in a comic book, aren’t we?” moment.
MVP of the Week: Harrison Wells of Infinite Earths (except Wells the Grey, no one likes that guy).
Next week I’ll be out of town for Thanksgiving, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make a This Week In The Arrowverse post. If I do, it probably won’t be until the weekend. Happy Turkey Day, everyone!