Let’s Talk Arrowverse – Black Lightning’s Back, One Last Time

Hey all! Before we get to discussing the episodes that aired this week, I thought I should let you know there’s been some news about upcoming Arrowverse spinoffs.

First off is that the CW has decided to pass on the Painkiller spinoff that Black Lightning has been setting up, though there have been rumors that HBO Max might still save it. Second is that later this year the CW will air an hour-long animated special … Beebo Saves Christmas!

I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

Legends of Tomorrow 6×04: “Bay of Squids”

For most of its runtime, this was a ho-hum episode of Legends. There were plenty of good moments, but it suffered from two overriding flaws.

One is that we spend a lot of time with famous historical figures, but the episode can’t seem to decide whether it’s spoofing its historical guest stars or trying to do a serious examination of important people and events … and doing it poorly. (Who knows what JFK looked or sounded like? That’s lost to the mists of time.)

The other is that there’s a lack of focus to the storytelling. Even with four regulars absent, this ep still seemed overstuffed, giving each character something to do and trying to make each of their storylines equally important. There’s a great story in here about Mick trying to step up as the authoritative elder statesman of the Waverider (to questionable results) but it’s given almost the same amount of focus as Behrad impersonating “Jay Guevara”, a bit that’s good for a chuckle, but can’t really sustain multiple scenes devoted to it.

But then … we got that scene. That scene where a struggle over the nuclear football turns into a literal football game in the Oval Office.

I’ve seen mixed responses to this. Some think it was too dumb, even for this show, while others think it was just the right kind of dumb.

Me? I laughed my ass off through the whole thing! It absolutely made the episode of me. Reminds me of them playing keepaway with the Spear of Destiny back in Season 2.

Black Lighting 4×13: “The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure” (SERIES FINALE)

Well … that was an odd way to end a series.

It does hit the basic plot beats you’d expect from a finale. The villain’s super-duper weapon is destroyed, the hero faces a moment of deep personal reflection, gets a surprise power boost, has a final showdown with his archnemesis, then hangs up his mantle so a new generation can take over.

But all the creative choices surrounding those beats are just so weird.

Like, that big showdown between Jefferson and Tobias. While the fight itself is well done, it can’t help but feel anticlimactic given that, outside of flashbacks and newscasts, it’s the only time Tobias appears in the episode. What’s more, the way Jefferson defeats him is by just flying into his penthouse and beating him up; no special tricks, no desperate gambits, no doomsday plan narrowly averted, just another slugfest between the two, except this time Tobias happens to die. So what should be the climax of the season, of the series, ends up feeling like it’s just a loose end being tidied up.

Then there’s Tobias’s death itself. We see him impaled on a large metal spike, flopping and twitching like mad, reciting the “from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee” speech from Moby Dick (without missing a breath, despite a giant hole where one of his lungs should be) and firing two handguns wildly at Jefferson, all while upbeat music plays on the soundtrack. It’s campy in a way I’m not sure was intentional, and would be a questionable choice even if it was intentional.

Getting away from Tobias, there’s also Jennifer’s subplot. Y’know, the one where we find out, halfway through the final episode, that the Jen we’ve been following for half the season isn’t really Jen, but a heretofore unmentioned energy being from the ionosphere who stole her identity because it wanted to experience humanity.

Yeah, for a few scenes there, this suddenly turns into Doctor Who. And it has no effect on the rest of the story, except that now China Anne McClain is playing Jennifer again. I get that they wanted her back for the finale, and maybe “The Gleam” is something Painkiller was supposed to follow up on, but this is just such an out there concept to introduce and then throw away in the middle of a series finale.

But the oddest decision of this finale is just how little attention is paid to the Pierce family as a family. The hook at the start of the episode is that everyone thinks Jefferson is dead, but the heroes dive into mission-mode so quickly, there’s no time to explore how they feel. And by the time things slow down, Jefferson’s alive again. But even after Jeff comes back … we don’t see him interact with Lynn or the kids until the final four minutes of the episode. Real!Jen doesn’t talk with her family till the end, either; most of her time is spent with T.C.

For a show that’s focused so much on the bonds between this family, to then treat those bonds as an afterthought during the culmination of the series … it’s odd. It’s an odd, odd series finale.

Random Thought: When “J.J.” started crackling with red lightning, did anyone else half-think she might be the Reverse Flash?

The Flash 7×11: “Family Matters, Part Two”

I have thoughts on this conclusion to the Forces arc. Lots of “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, FLASH!?” thoughts.

But I’ll leave that for the comments. Here, I’m just gonna talk about Chillblaine.

I kinda love this guy. It hit me, watching this episode, that he’s a male version of the femme fatale characters you see in cheesy 90’s action shows, right down to committing crimes while dressed like a stripper. It’s so campy and dopey … I’m kinda for it.

It helps that he’s the only villain so far this season who doesn’t get talked down with a big speech about love. He just gets beaten up and sent to prison. That’s actually really refreshing at this point.

Superman & Lois 1×07: “Man of Steel”

For anyone who’s fallen off Superman & Lois since its unfortunately timed hiatus, here’s something to lure you back in:

That mysterious guy in power armor who’s antagonizing Superman? That’s not an alternate universe Lex Luthor. It’s an alternate universe John Henry Irons, a.k.a. Superman legacy hero, Steel.

The reveal of that was both a “Whoa!” and “Hell yeah!” moment. But even without knowledge of his comic book counterpart, the guy still got some good character building this ep, a badass fight scene, and his plotline hitting a major turning point.

This was a major turning point for all the plots, really, since for the first time we have Jordan and Jonathan getting involved in their parents superheroic/superjournalistic activities. Everything’s starting to feel like it’s coming together into a single narrative, rather than a family drama plot, a conspiracy plot, and a guy-wants-to-beat-up-Superman plot all happening simultaneously.

All in all, a damn good episode.

Question of the Week: What’s your favorite villain death scene?