This Week In The Arrowverse: 10/28/2019 – 11/03/2019: “Less Talking, More Fighting”

Arrowverse Review Index

Batwoman 1×04: “Who Are You?”, Supergirl 5×04: “In Plain Sight”, The Flash 6×04: “There Will Be Blood”, and Arrow 8×03: “Leap of Faith” reviews

This week in the Arrowverse, we have the departure of Jimmy Olsen, the return of Thea Queen, and some exciting news in the world of spinoffs! Are there any words more thrilling to the human soul?

 

Batwoman - Who Are You - Magpie

Batwoman 1×04: “Who Are You?” review

Every reviewer is biased in one way or another. We can’t avoid that. All we can do is be aware of our biases, and be upfront with readers about how those affect our judgement. In that spirit, I feel it’s time I made a confession:

I don’t like Batman.

I don’t dislike Batman. I’m not going to enjoy a story less just because he’s in it. And Lord knows he’s got some great stories to his name; he may have more great stories than any other superhero (with the asterisk that he probably has more stories, period, than any other superhero).

And there’s a lot about the Batman mythos that I love. The blend of gothic horror and pulp hero aesthetics creates a unique and remarkable visual palette. The way the franchise has been built, so that the heroes can tackle gritty crime dramas, old fashioned kung fu epics, sci-fi monster battles, globetrotting spy thrillers, preternatural evils, and insanely elaborate death traps themed around playing cards, and have it all feel more or less consistent? That’s a thing of beauty. And, of course, the observation that Batman has the best collection of villains in comic books: it remains trite but true.

However, Batman himself, as a character? I just find him a bore. In all those great Batman stories, Batman is almost invariably the least interesting thing about them. I think this is due to three factors, which are consistent across most versions of the character.

1) Batman Has No Life
The guy eats, sleeps, and breathes his crimefighting career. He rarely does anything that isn’t meant to further it in one way or another. Even when he acquires an extended Bat-family, it’s composed of sidekicks and partners who help him fight crime, and who he can talk to about fighting crime. If he has anything in his life that’s not related to crimefighting, it’s despite his best efforts. For the most part, crimefighting is all there is to the character. Which might not be so bad, except . . .

2) Batman Is Serious
This applies to almost all iterations of the character, even the campy Adam West Batman (as absurd as the situations on that show got, the gag was that Batman always treated them with straightlaced seriousness). Since we rarely see Batman do anything not related to fighting criminals, the way he fights criminals needs to be what’s interesting about him. But despite a supposed flair for theatricality (hence the costume) and making the occasional quip (depending on the version of the character), mostly when Batman battles crime, he’s about as by-the-book as a violent vigilante can get. He doesn’t find opportunities for fun or humor while fighting crime, or come up with overly elaborate plans to punish criminals, or anything that makes his crimefighting particularly interesting. His chief role is to act as a straight man to the bizarre criminals he fights. But even that wouldn’t be enough to make Batman boring, if it weren’t for one last thing . . .

3) Batman Is a Hero
You can have a character who’s focused solely on their job, and goes about it in a very serious manner, and still have them be interesting, so long as they’re morally shady enough that you can’t be sure what they’ll do next. Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name is a prime example. But while writers like to play with the idea that Batman is “as crazy as the criminals he fights” or is bad for Gotham in some way, at the end they almost inevitably revert to the assertion that Batman is a true hero who will never cross any significant moral line. So for all the supposed darkness and repressed psychosis of the character, there’s rarely much doubt about what he’ll do; Batman is a hero, so he’ll do whatever the heroic thing is.

Put all these factors together, and you have a lead hero who is (at least to me) just not interesting, and is of value chiefly as the glue holding all the more dynamic parts of his franchise together.

I’ve spent all this time talking about Batman, because “Who Are You?” is built around showing how Batwoman is a very different character. I felt you needed to know what I think about Batman, so that you’ll understand why making Batwoman different from her famous cousin appeals to me so frickin’ hard.

Kate may have trained most of her life to become a badass, but she hasn’t devoted her life to the mission the way Batman has. Being Gotham’s protector is something she decided to do mostly on impulse. She thus brings more of a reckless, devil-may-care attitude to the proceedings. She also suffers some superhero growing pains that you hardly ever see out of Bruce (like not knowing how to keep prisoners alive, or how to check her gadgets are working right, or how to not sneeze next to a booby trap). And she’s got other things in her life, things that have nothing to do with waging a one woman war on crime, that she’s not so ready to give up.

With her mix of cool stunts and comical blunders, a love life hampered by hiding her secret identity, and being constantly criticized by a media personality? Batwoman seems to be borrowing more from Spider-Man than Batman. Yet the plot she deals with this week is about as vintage Batman as you can get: a costumed loon with a lot of deadly gadgets, and an unhealthy devotion to their gimmick, is pulling a series of museum/art gallery/someplace-fancy heists, and our hero has to figure out where they’ll strike next and stop them. There’s even a good ol’ fashioned death trap!

Seeing that Batwoman can provide us with classic Batman-style stories, drawing on the vast reservoir of Batman lore, but with a hero who’s a lot more fun, personable, and all around interesting than Batman himself? It makes for a terrifically fun episode, and fills me with so much hope for this fledgling series.

But all that’s from the perspective of someone who doesn’t like Batman. If you do like Batman, and would prefer to see him fighting these bad guys and solving these cases himself (especially since he hasn’t helmed a live action TV show since the 60’s), I can see how you might feel differently.

Stray Observations:

  • Catherine comes clean to her husband rather than hand a high-tech weapon over to a supervillain. That’s a point in her favor, but some of the stuff she’s already done to keep her secret is still pretty line-crossy.
  • Kate and Luke have some good comms banter. I like the dynamic where neither wants to show weakness or yield the last word to the other, without getting nasty about it.
  • In addition to Magpie as the villain of the week, we also get a reference to Killer Croc existing. Any chance we can get Killer Croc vs. King Shark vs. Gorilla Grodd in the future?
  • Mary continues to be just plain awesome. It’s great how she initially comes across like the flighty comic relief character, but always reveals herself to be far more intelligent than you’d assume. Her pretending to be Alice to a drugged up Dodgson was both brilliant and hilarious. “I’ve foolishly forgotten the details of my evil plan.”
  • Love that Magpie shows up with her costume, codename, and gimmick all firmly in place. The Arrowverse needs more bad guys who go all in on the supervillain aesthetic.
  • Only bad part of the episode was those exploding pearls at the end. It’s supposed to look like people only didn’t die because Kate shielded them with her super-durable Batsuit, but the explosion effects were so wimpy, it doesn’t look like anyone who wasn’t standing directly on top of one could have gotten hurt.
  • Seriously, though, Gothamites: Don’t Attend Galas! Long as you do, this sort of thing’s gonna keep happening.

 

Supergirl - In Plain Sight - Jimmy

Supergirl 5×04: “In Plain Sight” review
James Olsen Memorial Service

J’onn J’onnz:
Hello, everyone. I know this is normally when we’d analyze the latest episode of Supergirl, but under the circumstances, I thought it would be appropriate if we used this time to honor the memory of our fallen friend, James Olsen.

James Olsen:
J’onn, hey, I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not dead. I’m just moving to a different town.

J’onn J’onnz:
James is gone. And though we may never see him again, I’d like to think that, somehow, he can still hear us.

James Olsen:
I can still hear you. And I haven’t even left yet. I’m still in the middle of packing for the big move.

Kelly Olsen:
It’s so strange. For the last four years, it was like I didn’t even exist in James’s life. Now, just when I’ve finally connected with him, he’s gone forever.

James Olsen:
Kelly, I only moved back to our hometown. And Thanksgiving’s in less than a month. I’m sure we’ll see each oth-

Kara Zor-El:
It’s hard to accept, but where James has gone, none of us can follow.

James Olsen:
You have superspeed. You could literally drop in any time.

Kara Zor-El:
James has been with me since before I even became Supergirl. Ever since Clark sent him to National City to watch over me . . . which, in hindsight, is a weird note for a show about female empowerment to start out on. But from the moment I saw James, I knew: this man was handsome. I knew we were going to have at least a season’s worth of will-they-won’t-they romantic tension. And now . . . where can I hope to find someone as generically handsome and to have an increasingly intense workplace flirtation with?

William Dey:
Oy, Kara, after this Memorial Service, can we talk for a bit?

Kara Zor-El:
. . .
. . .
But James was more than just his looks. He was also a terrific boss. When I worked for him, I could pretty much do whatever I wanted. Sometimes, I didn’t show up at CatCo for weeks at a time. Now, without him, I have to deal with a monster like Andrea Rojas.

William Dey:
I wanted to talk to you about exposing Andrea as a criminal and getting rid of her before the season’s over.

Kara Zor-El:
. . .
. . .
But James was more than just a boss. He was . . . was . . .

James Olsen:
I was Guardian! Come on! I was a legitimate superhero!

Brainiac 5:
If I might be of assistance: James also functioned in the role of Guardian.

Kara Zor-El:
Yes! Thank you, Brainy. James was Guardian. Just this episode, he disarmed one of the people Malefic sent to attack us. Granted, I’d already disarmed twenty other people in less than a second, and could probably have taken care of that one, too. But that’s not the point! The point is . . .
. . .
Help.

Nia Nal:
The Children of Liberty! James stopped the Children of Liberty. Well, he didn’t stop them, so much as get kidnapped by them, then coerced into committing an act of terrorism by them. But when the rest of us stopped the Children of Liberty, James was there, too.

Brainiac 5:
Yes, during all our most crucial battles, James was most undeniably . . . a participant. If he didn’t contribute quite as much as others, his work was still necessary, to show that even a person without superhuman abilities can be of value.

Alex Danvers:
I thought that’s what I was doing?

Brainiac 5:
Yes, so you have. But James was doing it as well . . . just not as well.

James Olsen:
Hey, man, not cool.

Brainiac 5:
But Guardian was more than just a way for James to do battle. It was a way to bring us all closer together. I know my fondest memories of James are from when he first became Guardian, and he0 enlisted me as his “guy in the chair”. Those were good times: building his shield, guiding him through missions, just the two of us . . . with occasional help from my girlfriend, Lyra.

Nia Nal:
Lyra? Who the hell is Lyra?

Alex Danvers:
Wait, Brainy, you weren’t even around when James became Guardian. That was Winn.

Brainiac 5:
Hmm. Interesting. It appears that I forgot Winslow Schott and myself are not the same person.

Kara Zor-El:
Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure the writers meant for people to do that.

Brainiac 5:
That fault in my memory would explain why news of James’s departure provoked such an intense emotional response in me, despite our interactions prior to this being minimal to nonexistent.

James Olsen:
We hung out! Okay, maybe none of it was interesting enough to show onscreen, but still . . .

Brainiac 5:
If I was not present for James’s heroic origins, then I need clarification: why did James become Guardian? Based on analysis of the last twenty years of superhero media, can I assume it involved the death of a loved one?

Kara Zor-El:
Sort of? Some crooks smashed the camera his father gave him.

Kelly Olsen:
Our dad’s camera? That can’t be. James just gave that camera to a kid back in Calvinville.

Kara Zor-El:
What!? So his whole origin story was just a big lie?

James Olsen:
Now, hold on, I can explain that . . .

Nia Nal:
Is this like his eyepatch last year? Remember, he wore it at the end of the season finale, and we all thought he’d lost an eye, but then this season, boom, he’s fine?

James Olsen:
Technically, I never said I’d lost the eye . . .

Kara Zor-El:
I thought he needed the eyepatch because he’d just gotten superpowers, or something.

Alex Danvers:
No, he got superpowers earlier. He got the eyepatch after we took them away.

Kara Zor-El:
Did he do anything while he had superpowers?

Alex Danvers:
Yes! He . . . most definitely . . . was there.

J’onn J’onnz:
Yes, James was always there. That should be what we remember him for: his dedication. No matter how little purpose he served in the story, no matter how much every attempt to find an interesting storyline for him backfired, he still stuck with us. For four solid seasons, he stuck with us. No matter how little we gave him to do, we just couldn’t get rid of him.

James Olsen:
All right, this is the worst memorial service ever.

J’onn J’onnz:
So, with those parting words, we commend the body of James Olsen . . . to the Phantom Zone of Discarded Season One Characters.

James Olsen:
Wait, what!?

***ZZZZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPP***

Maxwell Lord:
Hello, James, and welcome to our merry band of rejects!

James Olsen:
This can’t be happening.

Winslow Schott:
James, buddy! It is so good to see you! I’ve been waiting forever. I thought you’d be done on the show, like, two seasons ago.

Lucy Lane:
James taking a while to finish? Now there’s a first.

James Olsen:
Okay, I am not spending eternity stuck in the Phantom Zone with my ex!

Winslow Schott:
It’s . . . it can be a challenge, but you get used to it.

Siobhan Smythe:
Speak for yourself, superfreak.

James Olsen:
Look, no offense to all of you, but I don’t belong here. I’m probably going to be back for guest appearances, and-

Cat Grant:
Oh, spare us the empty male posturing. They dangled that artisan-crafted, raspberry-icing carrot cake in front of me, too, and all they delivered were two episodes and one talking head appearance before shoving me off stage right. I left to be the White House Press Secretary, but when they did an entire story arc about corruption at the White House, did I receive so much as a text message? What you need is to look at this with perspective. You can either be stuck in the cold greyness of the Phantom Zone, or you can be stuck filming in Vancouver. At worst, it’s a lateral move.

Winslow Schott:
Ms. Grant’s right. They said I’d get guest appearances, too, that they’d check in on my adventures with the Legion of Super-Heroes, but I got nothing. Have you got anything going on they’d be more interested in?

James Olsen:
Well, I was going to run for Senate . . . but I decided to run a small town newspaper instead.

Winslow Schott:
Is that . . . that’s a print newspaper?

James Olsen:
. . .
. . .
Yeah.

Superman’s Text Messages:
😢😢😢

Maxwell Lord:
Jimmy, you are definitely one of us.

Everyone:
One of us! One of us! One of us!

***Meanwhile, back on Earth-38***

Alex Danvers:
Hey, did anyone tell Lena that James was leaving?

Kara Zor-El:
Oh, let’s not bother her with it. I don’t think she minds people keeping secrets from her anymore.

***Fin***

 

The Flash - There Will Be Blood - Cisco & Frost

The Flash 6×04: “There Will Be Blood” review

The Flash tried telling three different stories this week, with three different tones, that just didn’t work when put together.

One story continues from where we left off last episode, with Barry telling Team Flash that he’s going to die during Crisis, and everyone dealing with that news in their own way. Ralph falls into a despondent “why does anything matter?” funk, Cisco becomes determined to save Barry despite his objections, Frost takes the news the best and acts as a wise bartender for Cisco, and Joe keeps a stiff upper lip for most of the episode, until that last scene . . .

Sorry, not ready to talk about that last scene yet.

But we’ve also got the continued introduction of our new Harrison Wells. While the above storyline was morose and character driven, Nash Wells leading our heroes on a heist is full of hijinks, quips, absurdist humor, and the overall feel of a romp.

As if both of those weren’t enough, this episode also wants to be a Halloween episode, referencing the holiday multiple times through dialogue and festive decorations, and with a plot about Ramsey going full-on mad scientist, turning himself into a vampire, attacking a spookily lit hospital, and creating a bunch of zombies.

On their own, each of these could have been a really excellent story, and if they’d been kept a little more distinct, a little more separated, they might have made for an excellent episode. But these stories are all so intertwined, their differing natures end up working against each other.

Barry and Cisco are the main focus of the “Barry gonna die” story, with Cisco unable to make his peace with Barry’s approaching death, or with the fact that Barry himself has made peace. But entering this fraught tale of two friends facing the grim inevitability of death, we have Nash Wells, swinging in like a wrecking ball. The guy bursts into Star Labs via grappling hook, recites what sounds like a rehearsed catchphrase, and offers to help them steal some alien miracle serum, all while his jaunty theme music plays. ‘Cause that’s just how Nash rolls.

Look, just because Barry’s death is a heavy storyline, that doesn’t mean every scene dealing with it needs to be heavy. But Nash doesn’t feel like a lighthearted addition to the story; he feels like a completely unrelated and much goofier story. Whenever he’s around, Barry and Cisco have to drop the dramatic work they were doing earlier and deal with the shifty new Wells in their midst. Maybe Nash’s addition would have worked if Barry had treated the heist he leads them on as one last chance for him and Cisco to go on a fun mission together, but that’s not how the episode plays it. It plays like their story is being put on hold so Nash can show off another gadget or caustic remark.

The Nash story brings down the Barry/Cisco story, but the Barry/Cisco story also brings down the Ramsey story. Partly that’s because of simple plot mechanics. Barry and Cisco are working to find a cure for Ramsey’s cancer, and for that to seem like a worthy goal, he can’t make the full leap into murderous supervillain till after their story has wrapped up. This means, despite aspiring to be a Halloween episode, “There Will Be Blood” can’t go full creature feature till the episode’s almost over, leaving precious little time for Ramsey and his blood zombies to give us the thrills and chills.

But those thrills and chills are also hurt by the themes of the “Barry gonna die” story. Since Ramsey is also motivated by fear of impending death, the two stories share a natural thematic link. But because of that link, much of moody, depressive atmosphere surrounding Team Flash spills over into Ramsey’s story.

Thing is, Team Flash is dealing with the impending death of someone that they (and hopefully the audience) care a whole lot about, so that moodiness is what you expect. Applying that same mood to a guy who’s so clearly on the road to supervillainy, and who eventually decides the best way to fight death is to kill and terrorize random people so he can harvest their blood? It feels at odds with what we want out of such a story. Too much asking us to see a dark reflection of our heroes in Ramsey, not enough reveling in his creepy monster antics.

I won’t deny a lot of individual parts of this episode were great. Nash is proving to be a hilarious new iteration of Wells, cranking the concept of a cool, hypercompetent, rogueish character up to absurd levels (seriously, his smoke bombs actually make people disappear!). Ramsey’s blood zombies, while they lasted, were nicely freaky, and gave Frost the opportunity to do a cool flip and pre-fight staredown. And some of the drama over Barry’s fate was exceptionally well done. Especially that last scene between Joe and Barry, where it starts like a normal heart-to-heart between the two, but then Joe . . . and then Barry . . . and then they both . . .

*(sob!)*

God, I’m still not ready to talk about that scene!

Look, there was a lot of great stuff in this episode, but it was great stuff working at cross purposes with the other great stuff.

Stray Observations:

  • Barry picks Cisco to lead Team Flash after he’s gone. But the last time Barry vanished, seemingly forever, Iris ended up being team leader, so not sure how that’s gonna pan out.
  • I know the surname “Dearbon” is from the comics, but whenever I hear it, it just sounds like they’re mispronouncing “Dearborn”.
  • While it wasn’t entirely appropriate in context, I did love Ralph saying, “Despite Team Flash’s mantra, sometimes you do have to give up on things.”
  • I liked that the serum Nash led them to was a leftover from the Dominator invasion. Nice to have a reminder that, oh yeah, aliens invaded a few years back, that should probably be a bigger deal.
  • Since Ramsey didn’t use the serum on himself, that means there should still be a magical cure-anything serum floating around like Chekhov’s Syringe. I’m not buying that it can save someone from antimatter, though; that seems like a whole different thing.
  • Okay, that scene between Joe and Barry . . . I can do this . . . damn. Grant Gustin and Jesse L. Martin deserve some frickin’ awards, ‘cause they brought the feels. When Joe started breaking down, saying “Bar, I’m not ready” . . . dammit I can’t do this! I’ll be off sobbing into a pillow if anyone needs me.

 

Arrow - Leap of Faith - Thea

Arrow 8×03: “Leap of Faith” review

Arrow’s journey through history continues, this time not just through the show’s own history, but into ancient history, taking us back to the origins of the League of Assassins.

I know a lot of people would have preferred if the League and Nanda Parbat were left out of the “Arrow’s Greatest Hits” parade. The Season 3 storyline built around them is not well-loved, and was widely regarded as the worst in the series . . . until Seasons 4 and 6 came around and showed how to really mangle a storyline. But the League had to be addressed, because they’re more than just the bad guys of Season 3; they’re one of the core parts of Arrow’s mythology.

Half of the show’s main villains have come from the League of Assassins. Aside from Ra’s al Ghul himself, both Malcolm Merlyn and Damien Darhk were rogue members of the League, and Prometheus, while he was never part of the League, was trained to fight by Talia al Ghul and her unlicensed League spinoff organization.

Going beyond the villains, the League is central to how Sara Lance survived Lian Yu and became the Canary. Oliver himself is a product of the League’s training, not just from when he joined them in Season 3, and not just from his time with Talia in Russia. With the reveal that Yao Fei, Oliver’s first teacher, was a student of Talia al Ghul, we see that from the beginning, Oliver’s journey has been defined by the teachings of the League. And in the future, Oliver’s daughter Mia carries on that tradition, fighting the good fight with skills she learned from League princess Nyssa al Ghul.

Arrow is a show built around people using martial arts and anachronistic weapons to fight each other, and the League has been presented as the ur-source of martial arts/anachronistic weapons masters. If you find yourself asking where an improbable badass came from on Arrow, odds are good their origins can be traced back to the League. Without the League, the world of Arrow would not be the haven for archers, swordfighters, and pseudo-ninjas that it is.

Given this, it’s undoubtedly appropriate that the origins of the League are tied to the Monitor himself. Even the epic, multiversal event that is Crisis on Infinite Earths can trace its roots back to the League of Assassins.

Of course, where some people see a core piece of mythology, others see an overused plot device. And “Leap of Faith” seems very aware of how often Arrow has gone back to the League of Assassins well. There’s a scene that perfectly symbolizes what’s become of the League after seven seasons: our heroes journey through Nanda Parbat, searching for the League’s vault of treasures, only to find it stripped bare; everything of value, of interest, that the League might have to offer has already been taken and used up; all that’s left is a single plot device, enough to fuel the action for one last episode, but no more.

That is the message of this episode: the League of Assassins is over with. It’s been officially disbanded since Season 4, the Lazarus Pits are all gone, Nanda Parbat is in ruins, and, as Thea says, “We’ve kinda killed off every League member, haven’t we?” All that’s left are a handful of straggling survivors, desperate to restart the League, seemingly because they can think of nothing else worth doing with their lives. And with the deaths of Athena and her Thanatos Guild, with Talia yielding her claim to the Demon’s Head, and with Thea, rightful heir to the title, declaring, “I don’t think the world needs another League of Assassins”, the last spark of that fire is extinguished.

Thea and Talia may create a new “League of Heroes”, and maybe one of the other shows will reference that down the road. But the era of ancient assassin cults, sending masked ninjas out to kill in the name of ritual and tradition? In its closing hours, Arrow finally lays that part of its mythology to rest.

Stray Observations:

  • Well, okay, the Ninth Circle is still out there, being the generic, store-brand version of the League of Assassins. But is anyone gonna complain if we never hear from them again?
  • I’m happy that Katrina Law is getting regular work on Hawaii 5-0, but it sucks that her and Lexa Doig have both done such great work as the al Ghul sisters, yet have only ever had one scene together.
  • I love that Talia’s reason for joining the “League of Heroes” essentially amounts to “This’ll stick in the old man’s craw.”
  • Continuing this season’s journey-through-the-past theme, John and Lyla’s story is one big callback to the Season 2 episode “Suicide Squad”. It’s interesting that they made the guy trying to get revenge on Lyla slightly sympathetic; I’m guessing that her questioning whether her actions are justified is gonna be a big thing once her Monitor connections are revealed.
  • Stephen Amell has been asked to cry a lot this season, and I know it might get repetitive, me praising him every time he does it, but damn if it isn’t amazing every time!
  • I was legit shocked when Zoe was killed. I wasn’t that invested in the character, and most of my affection for her comes from remembering her little kid self, but seeing someone positioned as so central to the future storyline, killed so early and so abruptly, it threw me for a loop.
  • So, do you think the flashforwards were purposely made to feel a little dull and inessential until now, just so we wouldn’t see that twist coming? ‘Cause if so: well played.
  • Oh, yeah, Thea came back this episode, didn’t she? You can scroll down to the bottom of the page for my thoughts on that. But first . . .

 

Simpsons - Spinoff

It’s been known for a while that this final season of Arrow will be used, in part, to launch a potential spinoff titled Green Arrow and the Canaries, starring Mia, Dinah, and Laurel. What’s just come out this week is that the CW is also developing a Supergirl spinoff titled Superman & Lois, starring Tyler Hoechlin’s Superman and Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane.

Now, neither of these is a done deal yet. Lots of popular shows have had spinoffs in development that never actually materialized into a series. But if these spinoffs go through, I worry that the Arrowverse might be oversaturating its market.

When Batwoman was announced, I thought it was brilliant timing. Start up a series about a dark, gritty, non-powered vigilante just as Arrow is wrapping up and vacating that niche. But if, in addition to Batwoman, we also have Green Arrow and the Canaries serving as a more direct successor to Arrow, that might be too much of the same sort of thing.

That goes double for the Superman & Lois spinoff. Unless the CW is secretly planning to end Supergirl in the near future, they’re going to have two shows running simultaneously where the leads have identical powers, identical civilian occupations, and (now that Supergirl has pants) identical costumes. While Superman & Lois would have the “new parents raising their child” angle, I’m not sure that would be enough to make them feel distinct.

The Arrowverse already makes up such a large chunk of the CW’s programming block, I can’t help worrying that adding a bunch of new shows, without doing enough to make them seem different from the others in the verse, could cause the whole thing to collapse on itself.

(And I’m not just saying that because reviewing six of these shows each week is a harrowing prospect.)

But if they’re going to make a new spinoff, I’d much prefer a Constantine revival. C’mon, CW, Supernatural is going off the air after 15 years; you’re gonna need something to fill the bad-boy demon-hunter void. Plus, with John Constantine in the lead role, all the homoerotic shipping could actually become canon.

 

MVP of the Week: THEA #%!*ING QUEEN!!!

Arrow - Leap of Faith - Thea Hug

Thea is back, y’all! And I’d forgotten how much I missed her. It’s not just that her and Oliver have always had fantastic sibling chemistry. It’s not just that Willa Holland is beyond amazing in the part, adding all these little gestures and inflections that make the character sing. It’s not just that her journey has taken her from bratty teenage sister to someone older, wiser, and infinitely more badass..

It’s that Thea has a certain essential quality, a precise alchemy of attitudes that I don’t think anyone in the Arrowverse has duplicated quite as well. Put simply, Thea does not take any of this melodramatic superhero crap seriously.

Sometimes, that means she just enjoys the fun of the whole thing, facing death traps, fight scenes, and alien invaders with a carefree smirk. She can hear Oliver’s pronouncement of doom and recognize that, hey, this is like seventh time they’ve thought Oliver was gone with no hope of coming back; maybe don’t get so worked up over this one.

However, when this stuff starts having serious consequences, like people getting killed, or their minds played with, or their families torn apart? She has no patience for anyone using destiny or ancient traditions to justify it, and won’t hesitate to call them on their crap.

It makes her a unique beast. She reacts to the bizarre world of the Arrowverse with something close to a real world perspective. She’s not so lost in it that she loses sight of how ridiculous this all is, but nor is she so ironically detached that the stakes of the story aren’t real to her. She can go on a globe-trotting quest to destroy mystical fountains of youth before an ancient assassin cult can find them, and still seem like the most grounded, down-to-earth person on the show.

If this is the last we see of Thea, I’ll be sad to see her go, but glad that we’ve left her on such a wonderful note. She at last seems to have made peace with all the trauma she’s been through. She can look back on her life without illusion, but still be grateful for the person it’s made her into. She can look forward to building something new and positive with her future. And despite Oliver’s protests to the contrary, she can bid her brother goodbye and still hope they’ll meet again.

“I’ll see you later . . . and please don’t die.”

Question of the Week: Which character/actor have you been most sad to say goodbye to?