Supergirl 3×17: “Trinity”, The Flash 4×21: “Harry and the Harrisons”, and Arrow 6×22: “The Ties That Bind” reviews
Another very busy week for me, so my thoughts on the episodes will be brief. Let’s get to it.
Supergirl 3×17: “Trinity” review
It’s strange that, of our three Arrowverse shows this week, Supergirl is the one that feels most like it’s heading for a climax, when it’s the only one of the three that still has six episodes left in the season.
The World Killers causing an apocalypse-worthy eclipse, Sam and Julia facing the threat of being permanently consumed by their alter egos, and our heroes racing to confront all of the above parties, resulting in a massive battle that leaves two World Killers dead and their evil Fortress of Solitude in ruins: it’s the sort of epic, game-changing confrontation that feels like it should be the prelude to the season finale. That it’s happening so early could prove to be an exciting twist, sending the remainder of the season off in unexpected directions. However, it could also prove to be a derailment of the plot, leaving the show not much left to do after shooting its wad so early. It’s “Where will they go from here?” vs. “Where will they go from here?”
Putting concerns for the future aside, these plot shakeups make for an exhilarating episode, where the stakes are high and major consequences occur.
But more than the plot, though, what really makes this episode shine is the dialogue. For some reason, the banter between the characters was just on point this week. There were so many humorous exchanges, I’m tempted to try quoting all of them, but then this review might become nothing but quotes. So I’ll just settle for my favorite:
“Would you like me to count to three?”
“Will that help?”
“No, not at all.”
The only sour note in the episode was everyone’s suspicion of Lena. I mean, I get how, without Sam there to corroborate what happened, her having a secret, underground lab where she was doing experiments on a captive World Killer looks bad. But most of the suspicion seems to be built around the fact that Lena kept a stash of kryptonite in her vault, which Kara takes as a personal attack on her. I don’t know if she’s noticed, but between Astra, Non, the World Killers, and General Zod, the number of evil Kryptonians who have shown up on Earth outnumber the good ones 4 to 1. Keeping a supply of kryptonite around is a completely sensible thing to do.
That bit of moral self-centeredness aside, this was a stellar episode and a great deal of fun, and could potentially signal an exciting change for the story arc going forward.
- James standing at the door to Lena’s vault, but refusing to go in, is the most interesting thing that’s been done with his character since . . . well, ever. And while he and Lena don’t have amazing chemistry, the fact that they’re a couple who doesn’t get hung up on the whole “secrets and lies” thing is a fantastic breath of fresh air.
- Sam and Julia trapped in that dark valley, struggling to retain their sense of self as their memories drain away, is suitably haunting, has some great performances, and is quite possibly the darkest thing Supergirl has ever done.
- One more quote: “This is horrible. Why would you ever exercise?”
The Flash 4×21: “Harry and the Harrisons” review
For an episode featuring both Amunet Black and a (mostly) all new Council of Wells, there wasn’t a whole lot of goofy fun on display here.
We’re nearing the end of the season, so the focus seems to be on setting up plot points that will pay off in the next two episodes, but the plot itself is very ho-hum without too many exciting developments. I’ve come to believe that this sort of hard focus on the story arc, where even when the Big Bad doesn’t appear, finding a way to stop him is all the characters can talk about, is what’s really hurt The Flash’s storytelling these last few seasons. Instead of making this an engaging episode with strong emotional resonance for what the characters are going through in the moment, it’s all just buildup for what’s ahead, and so feels like a letdown.
Not that there aren’t bits of fun here and there. Katee Sackhoff is always fantastic playing Amunet as a bad guy who wouldn’t be out of place on the 60’s Batman show; hearing her add a Southern accent to the mix was just the cherry on top. Caitlin’s inventive use of the cold gun in battle was very awesome. And, while they didn’t get to do much, getting to see the Council of Wells, one of the most out-there concepts in the Arrowverse, remains a treat.
Could we have just gotten a little something more to make this episode pop? Anything?
- Sonny Wells may be my new favorite Wells. Not only does he not seem like the sort of genius Harry would want, he comes from an Earth that hasn’t even moved past VHS yet.
- I honestly think we’re maybe an episode or two away from Caitlin just shooting herself with the cold gun and hoping that brings Killer Frost out to play.
- For all of Team Flash’s pondering about what DeVoe’s up to, they haven’t really seemed to ask what he needs all of these specific powers for. Some, like a nigh-indestructible body or superhuman good luck, have obvious utility. But what part of his satellite powered mass-endumbening requires the ability to bring effigies to life?
Arrow 6×22: “The Ties That Bind” review
I’ve said it a bunch of times before, but it bears saying again: Ricardo Diaz is an absolutely pathetic villain.
The more Arrow tries to convince us he’s this unstoppable threat, the more toothless he becomes. The episode begins with him ordering a massive, coordinated assault on our heroes during their private lives, and every single one of them escapes unharmed. The only casualty is Nick. Y’know, Curtis’s boyfriend? The one that I and I’m sure many other viewers forgot existed? And he doesn’t even die, just gets sent to the hospital!
I’m not clamoring for gay characters to get killed off, you understand. But if the Big Bad puts everything he has into destroying the heroes, and the most he can do is hospitalize the most tertiary of characters? Then there’s little reason to believe he’ll be a threat to anyone who matters.
We’ve also got Diaz being taken for a fool by Anatoly, which I was kinda glad for, since I don’t want Anatoly to die, but it contributes to making Diaz look weaker. And when the Quadrant points out how poorly he’s making decisions, he kills two of them and strongarms the remaining member into supporting him. Which is probably supposed to make Diaz look dangerous, but just makes him look like a guy self-destructing as soon as he hits a setback, and makes you wonder how the Quadrant survived so long as crime bosses if they let this punk take them out so easily.
I really hate having to harp on this again, because if this had been a standalone episode, it would have been pretty darn good. There were some truly awesome action scenes, particularly Felicity rushing through the police station brawl trying to retrieve her computer device. There was some solid character work from our lead couple. We got to see Oliver being domestic, which is always adorable. And Lyla got some time in the spotlight, which is always worth a big “YES!”
But this is not a simple standalone episode. This is the penultimate episode of the season. Let’s take a look at past seasons and see where the story was at by Episode 22:
- Season 1 – Malcolm Merlyn defeated Oliver. We’d just discovered his imminent plan to destroy the Glades with an earthquake machine. And, on a personal level, Oliver and Moira had their falling out when Oliver discovered her part in the Undertaking, and Tommy was heartbroken after seeing Oliver and Laurel sleep together.
- Season 2 – Slade’s superpowered army is rampaging through the city. We find out Amanda Waller is prepared to bomb the city to ashes in order to stop them. Sara returns with a League of Assassins army. Malcolm Merlyn returns to seduce Thea to the dark side. And, while it didn’t happen in Episode 22 itself, Moira’s death at Slade’s hands was just a couple episodes prior, and that wound’s still fresh.
- Season 3 – Oliver has seemingly betrayed his friends and joined with Ra’s al Ghul, and leaves with him to destroy Starling City with a bio-engineered virus. Meanwhile, all our other heroes are left behind in a Nanda Parbat cell, seemingly dying from that same virus.
- Season 4 – Darhk’s underground bunker city is destroyed, but in a fit of grief and rage, plans to launch the world’s nuclear missiles and destroy humanity anyway.
- Season 5 – Every person Oliver cares about is kidnapped by Adrian Chase and taken to Lian Yu for a final showdown, forcing Oliver to team up with not just Malcolm Merlyn, but Slade Wilson, returning to the show for the first time in over two years.
Heightened stakes and major twists. Those are what seasons past have given us in the episode preceding the finale. As well they should. Those episodes gave us a reason to care and be excited for what the season finale will bring.
What does this episode give us? What makes Diaz a threat that our heroes must be desperate to stop? What’s going on in our characters’ personal lives that will push them to the limit?
The only thing, the only thing, this episode does to build any sort of hype for the finale is the closing scene where Oliver returns to the FBI Agent who investigated him early in the season and asks for her help against Diaz, admitting he’s the Green Arrow.
That’s something, I guess. It’s no “Slade’s returned” or “Oliver leaves everyone to die”, but it’s something. Assuming they don’t just shove that secret identity genie back in the bottle yet again.
But unless next episode does something truly epic and insane (I’m talking The Good Place Season 1 finale insane) then this is just the most underwhelming and disappointing story arc Arrow has ever done by an incredible margin.
Most of us complained about Season 4 of Arrow, but that was a mess because the show was trying a lot of new things, a lot of very ambitious things, and didn’t handle all of them well. This season, though? It’s like they haven’t even really tried to make the story arc interesting, or even realized they needed to, and that’s about a million times worse.
- The only part of Diaz’s attack on the heroes that really got to me was seeing his goons destroy the bunker. It’s an old trick for TV shows, but there is an undeniable emotional power to seeing a set we’ve grown accustomed to for several seasons be set alight.
- I try not to question the computer science on any of these shows, because it’ll melt your brain, but why did Lyla need to take the “sniffer” off her person to have it copy Diaz’s files? And why couldn’t Felicity have just made a backup copy of it?
- When Oliver blew up the second bunker, he seemed to be hoping this would kill Diaz. But if we’re back on the willing-to-kill wagon, then he could have put an end to Diaz a dozen times by now, including earlier in this very episode.
- The characters state outright that Argus can’t help them deal with Diaz because he’s considered small potatoes. While absolutely true, that’s maybe not how you want to describe your Big Bad right before the season finale. Just sayin’.
MVP of the Week: Alex Danvers.
Her giddy enthusiasm whenever she gets a new weapon, whether it be a super-advanced magnet gun or pointy stick she grabbed off the ground, is an adorable delight.
Question of the Week: Marry/F*ck/Kill: Harry Wells, Eobard “Wells”, and H.R. Wells?