Archive for October, 2014

We are greeted with the beginnings of regular Thea Queen becomes SUPER-HARDCORE Thea Queen…or something like that. I understand showing Thea’s training but we’ve already experienced this with Oliver, and we know that Malcolm is the definition of deadly, so unless they continue to use it to show the insane nuances of Malcolm’s character (like beating his own daughter), it could get flat really quick.

Thea never wants to get hurt again, a repeated theme, and something that will sooner or later rear its head; but at least this time Thea can kick some butt, and hopefully, it will be Malcolm’s.

There are continued hints at Ra’s al Ghul, with Malcolm saying that “someone” cannot find him, or else he will die; I doubt Malcolm fears Oliver that much. Plus there is the surprise ending with a furious Talia al Ghul wondering were Sara is…I’m sure the fact that she is dead is going to go over well.

The no fetching coffee conversation between Palmer and Felicity was a nice call back to last season. The fast paced rambling style of Ray Palmer fits quite well, especially since his potential love interest is also known for her fast paced rambling.

The aspect of what to do with anger was a good topic to touch on, one the show has done previously, but mostly with Oliver and any pseudo-heroes he’s trying to train. The show did a good job of keeping Oliver out of it and also introducing the dynamic of boxer-dude/love interest of Ted Grant. Laurel found an improper response to her anger, and it cost her, hopefully it gave her a little wisdom, but that doesn’t seem the strongest suit of most of the protagonists not named Diggle.

I’m glad the show has finally stopped beating around the bush and has finally decided on Amanda Shaw being a villain, we all know what she is, it doesn’t matter if she works for the “good guys”.

I can’t help but wonder if Lyla was lying, she still seems to be on the fence about Waller and the show will no doubt use that throughout the season. Lies will continue to feature prevalently in the show, with Thea now getting in on the act; and becoming exactly what she despises, will she come to terms with it, or will it consumer her?

The conversations between Laurel and Quentin and Thea and Oliver carried the emotion of the previous two episodes, although this episode was more subtle on the emotion. Still, one has to admit the line about the Queen’s parents sacrificing themselves so that their children could live was pretty heavy. I couldn’t help but wonder why Thea shouldn’t think that Oliver was just lying again, but hey, not everything can be explained in a forty minute episode; and perhaps they will touch upon it later.

The wooden pallets being able to stop heavy machine gun rounds seems very implausible, and the bad guys continue to suck with their aim; but at least the show gave a nod to Oliver’s time on the island with his handcrafted bows and arrows.

Even with the flaws, this week’s episode was pretty solid, it may have not been amazing, but it was the consistently good show we have seen Arrow become. Besides, by the end of the episode, it was intrigue galore. We know what Talia wants, but what exactly is Malcolm’s game? Why does he want Thea to go back to Starling City? When is he planning on ruining the life of Oliver, and when is the Head of the Demon going to show up?

It’s episode five, by now we have an idea of the flavor and tone of series, so I don’t really need to cover any of that; which means I can cover young Bruce Wayne haters.

Apparently there are quite a few individuals who don’t like how prominent Bruce Wayne is in Gotham. They say that the story should be about the hero, Gordon, and not a young Batman who is in fact not even Batman yet. They are correct, but they also fail to see that Gotham is an origin story for the entire Batman universe, not just for Jim Gordon, Oswald Cobblepot, and an assortment of future supervillians; and that origin story includes Bruce Wayne.

Now I’ll admit, my experience with Batman has been seen only through TV and movies, so I don’t know if there have been any comic book arcs that have dealt with Bruce Wayne in the same age range as Gotham depicts him. I have a feeling however that there isn’t one, and if there is, it’s probably not as in-depth as Gotham’s is going to be.

The fact of the matter is, to all the young Bruce Wayne haters out there, Bruce’s story is still the nexus of Gotham. How did the series start? Thomas and Martha Wayne were gunned down in front of Bruce. Bruce was there at the start, and he will continue to be, although his story is second fiddle to Gordon’s.

There are probably those who would disagree with my assessment, as Bruce’s story is an arc throughout the series, whereas Gordon’s is a new story every single week. But one thing even the haters can’t deny is that in this episode, Bruce’s story was related to Gordon’s; all of which drives home that Bruce’s story is the thing that ties all the weekly installments together. However, we come and watch every week to see what trouble Gordon, Harvey, and Oswald have gotten themselves into.

And speaking of trouble, Oswald and Gordon sure found some in the form of Sal Maroni. The Godfather-esqe scene with the trio at the Italian restaurant was great, the highlight of the episode. Maroni sits back like he is at perfect ease but in a second orders Oswald’s face to be shaved by a meat slicer if Gordon’s story doesn’t match the turncoat Oswald’s. Plus, Gordon will die if the stories don’t match. The soundtrack focuses the tension and Mckenzie’s delivery makes the retelling of what we already know still fun and relevant.

“Tell me a story” indeed.

While this scene was masterful, the same could not be said of the rest of the episode; there were problems.

If Selena is so observant, how did she not notice Gordon? Also, what was the point of that scene, just so we know Selena still alive and kicking? It added nothing to the episode, plus we have Batman lore to know that she is okay. How did the cops find the druggie guitar player’s broken Viper bottle? Bruce just happens to not be absorbed in his research when something relating to Wayne Enterprises flashes on the screen.

And what was Potolsky’s point he was trying to make, kill enough important people that the truth about the development of Viper would come out? It was hinted at, but never really developed within the episode; it seemed that Potolsky and his mentor could have come up with a better scheme than to kill hundreds of people with the Viper. And the Viper was filtering so slowly that you could outrun it, not a very good plan…or at least you could run away from the green cloud of death, since convenience made it easy to see.

There were a few other problems, but I think I’ve made my point. In spite of it all however, I still found the episode to be enjoyable and it was good to see some of the strides being made in the character development department; namely Gordon and Harvey bonding for the first time (even if it is over cheeseburgers) as well as Alfred taking part in Bruce’s research. Plus, they finally did a proper job of portraying Edward Nigma.

All in all, I can’t wait to see what happens next week, and how Oswald, Mooney, and Maroni continue with their plans to overthrow Falcone.

Arrow continues to use Sara’s death just right, with her body lying unceremoniously on the table in Oliver’s lair. A shocked and distraught Laurel has smears of her sister’s blood on her outfit, and now she feels she must hide the truth of Sara’s death from her father.

What a way to start with the drama, CW.

If that wasn’t enough to get some sort of the feels going, the story about Sara and her stuffed animal did. Emotion was definitely this episode’s selling point; there were cutting words between Oliver and Felicity that leave you with the feeling nothing is ever going to happen between them. We get to see the dark and desperate side of Laurel…forget drugs and alcohol, let’s beat on a broken guy’s arm. Harsh.

Of course, she had run to window after the guy she was beating up just took an arrow to the chest; I guess she has been spending too much time with Oliver and his crew.

The show still hasn’t explained what happened to Lance to give him his heart problems, and the motorcycle “jousting” was gimmicky. What the heck was Oliver trying to do!? Drive back and forth until Lacroix ran out of gas? I really fail to see what the scene provided except for fodder for Felicity to take the job with the ever-greasy Ray Palmer and for Oliver to thoughtfully ponder his mortality.

Not that I hate pondering mortality, the episode did it well, it’s just that they could have used the motorcycle scene better.

It was cool to see Tommy again, I hadn’t realized how much I missed his character until I re-watched season one; hopefully they will find a way to work him into a few more episodes. One thing about the flashback scenes, what makes Argus think that Oliver is somehow an expert shot with a rifle? Even if they somehow knew Oliver became an expert at archery on the island, archery and shooting are dissimilar skills; that is why in the Olympics you don’t see the same athletes in both fields.

There was the typical Laurel-Quentin and Laurel-Oliver tension. The writers have always used the two dynamics well, and continue to do so; I suppose since it is season three, I’m a little more fearful that what was once interesting will now be old and tired.

But there was still a lot the show episode right, as I said, it was a very emotional episode, but they also got the nuances right. Diggle returns to his role of the wise, badass sage; they couldn’t let a character as good as Diggle’s just sit on the sidelines. It’s good to see the progression of Roy; rather than him being just a street version of Little Mac, the show has given him some intelligence, as he is trying to find Thea.

The emotion ran all the way to the end, with Laurel pulling the trigger on her sister’s killer, just to find that she had taken an empty gun…and that Lacroix didn’t kill her sister. It was compelling to see Laurel take that final step, willing to take a life; I can’t help but wonder what will happen to her down the line.

The Jewish custom of tossing dirt on the casket matched the somberness and finality of the scene. And while some may find that Diggle and Lyla are naming their daughter Sara, I found it to be quite touching. The song at the end fit the theme of the episode perfectly, while the panning camera shots continued the sense of helpless wandering.

While this week’s episode was good, I can’t wait for next week. Will Oliver be able to bring back his sister, or is Thea too far gone?

The feel-good comic book times keep on rolling for The Flash, with the intro paying homage to its origins. The goofy awkwardness continues, with Cisco and Barry trying, and failing, to convince Caitlin they’re not into the superhero act. The mystery around Dr. Wells continues, with him cautioning Barry about being a superhero and then seems to come around to his side.

With Wells, it makes his character maddeningly cryptic and shifty, just what is his agenda? For Caitlin, it felt like spineless flip-flopping; and for Joe West, it was nice, but happened way too fast. They should have played up the theme over another episode or two, rather than have the convenient comic book “we’re all in this together” moment at the end of the episode.

We also have the loveable, but ditsy, romantic love interest, Iris West; who can tell when Barry is unhappy or angry, but is totally clueless to the fact that Barry likes her. Talk about friendzoned. Also she just “happens” to pick ‘the red streak’ to report on, that doesn’t seem convenient at all does it?

The ending was too convenient, there really wasn’t even an epic ending like last week’s episode; it felt like the writers mailed in the ending. They definitely mailed in Captain Clone/Multiplex’s death, it was cliché and extremely uninspiring.

While it may seem I hate the show, I really don’t, in fact I enjoyed this episode more than the pilot. The comedy is executed properly, with Barry having to deal with the realities of an alter life and the tech guru Cisco dealing out his corny one-liners with tootsie-pop in hand. Plus the scene where Barry fast-talks to Iris was pretty good. This episode did a better job with comic book flavor, but as I’ve pointed out, there are still some issues.

But once again, the show has more heart than many of its TV counterparts (especially CW counterparts). The past and present scenes between Barry and Joe were some of the best of the episode, alongside another emotional scene between Barry and his father. I know the show can’t have Barry and his dad in every single episode, it would get old, but they have done such a good job with these scenes you can’t help but feel your heart glow just a little bit (hey, come on, you know you like it too).

While I still enjoy Grant Gustin’s and Tom Cavanagh’s performances, Jessie L. Martin has become my favorite with his passionate and heartfelt portrayal of Joe West. Joe’s interactions with Barry, especially in this episode, carry the lion’s share of the emotional weight; and there was none greater than at the end, where Joe tells Barry he will help find the man who killed his mother.

The extreme hypoglycemia was a brilliant add-in, it makes total sense…now if they could just find some similiar grounded answers for some of the other issues in the show. The visuals were solid again, Caitlin is funny when she is angry, Joe and Wells have a good chemistry together; the little things made this episode stand a step higher than the pilot.

Honestly the issues I have with show could be a matter of personal taste, and I do believe individuals who like more traditional comic book fare would rate this series higher than I do; but that does not mean I don’t enjoy the show, I do, and I look forward to where the tale will go from here.

Gotham continues building upon the intrigue it has created in three short weeks, giving viewers increasing incentive to continue watching.

The first piece of intrigue is Oswald wanting to help Gordon; now whether Oswald is doing this in pure self-interest or there is in fact a part of Oswald that is sincere, it is still an interesting angle. For now, whether for selfish or altruistic reasons, Oswald helping Gordon fits nicely into the narrative of Maroni and Falcone vying for power. Although I felt the power struggle between the two kingpins of crime could have had a better sense of impending doom, making the compromise at the end of the episode a little more unexpected.

Fish Mooney provides the rest of the intrigue with her “plan B.” Obviously she wants to take Falcone’s place; how she will do it is still shrouded in mystery. While I found the kissing scene still smacking of ‘this is supposed to be shocking, just because it’s two women kissing each other’; it was done in a much better way than last week’s foray into the topic and it left me wondering what idea Mooney is concocting.

A lack of intrigue was palpable with the Jim/Barbara relationship. Barbara is shown to be nice and caring in the first two episodes; she is stressed and revealed to have a dark past (which she is still lying to Jim about) in last week’s episode; and now she is just so overwhelmed she can’t take it anymore…it’s only the fourth episode, the show hasn’t allowed the tension between the two of them to build up. Barbara comes across as petty with her “it was only a year” line. Yeah…nothing significant could happen in a year’s time. I don’t care that Barbara is leaving or potentially leaving, I actually feel glad, now Jim can go and kick some real bad-guy-behind.

Make us care about the characters, Fox! Let the tension build up so that when these decisions take place, there is some actual emotional punch to them. Don’t leave us wondering how we are
supposed to feel about it, show us!

The only other thing I have to knock this week’s episode was that Oswald’s part of the story was predictable. Oswald hiring the hit was no surprise, as was the poisoned cannoli. I didn’t see Oswald’s promotion to GM coming; I mean, I do understand gratitude, but come on Sal, you don’t know if Oswald is even able to run a restaurant. He was the dishwasher for crying out loud!
But these things only really mattered if you paid attention to them. Robin Taylor and POI vet, David Zayas, filled the scenes with their personas; their acting made me not care about any mistakes in their respective scenes.

The Jim/Barbara relationship was the show’s only real gaff; there was some overacting and the writers still don’t seem to know what to do with Edward Nigma, but aside from the corny chick fight and some run-of-the-mill movie/TV convenience, I still really enjoyed the episode.
The intrigue did a lot of the smoothing over, but the show continues to do the little things right.

They continue to play up Gordon’s darker side with him seriously contemplating killing Oswald. The humor still fits; the nod to Arkham was the right way to introduce us to such an infamous place in the Batman universe, and the architecture and soundtrack fit like a glove. The Hitchcock-esque filming style was not lost on me, it was executed well and kept the episode dark while not pushing it into the gruesome; just as a Batman inspired TV show should be.

Episode four ended with feeling. Bruce asks Gordon if he believes Gotham can be saved; and while the main character has his doubts (not to mention that fans already know that the battle will take decades), and the journey will be no easy task, Gordon still believes it is worth trying.

Arrow is the grizzled veteran of the current crop of superhero shows; as such, the show inherently has fewer flaws than some of its TV brethren. Arrow also profits from being an intentionally grounded superhero show, so comic book hyperbole doesn’t find a cozy home on the CW’s number one show. It is by far the most polished of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it possess no faults of its own.

Oliver still has trust issues and continues struggling with his identity, so there is nothing new there. I have always enjoyed watching Oliver’s growth over his personal struggles. The writers need to make sure they continue to address his struggles in a way that keeps things fresh; which is why it is good to see that Quentin Lance is now suffering from an identity crisis of his own.

Quentin Lance brings up another issue, why is he popping pills? The episode doesn’t really say anything about it other than a brief conversation between him and Laurel about his heart, but there is nothing other than that. Also where does Oliver get his money from now that he no longer owns Queen Consolidated? These aren’t huge problems, it’s just that with the comic books the show’s creators have published as a “connection” between the seasons, I get the feeling you won’t know the answer unless you buy the comics; which is a cheap money grab.

I really have no other complaints. I was excited to see Rila Fukushima and Peter Stormare, and I hope they have a chance to use their characters more. I’m not sold on Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer just yet, but he does know how to play a slimy character (at least when it comes to Felicity Smoak).

It was also interesting to see the series staples in different roles; Felicity working as some Geek Squad equivalent, Diggle becoming a father, Laurel appears to be a successful attorney, Quentin is a captain on the force, and Roy looks awesome as the Red Arrow. It will be interesting to see how the new dynamics are going to interact and interfere with each other throughout the season.

I will admit I am a Felicity homer, so I was excited that what appeared to be a façade between Oliver and Felicity at the end of season two was actually legitimate. It was cute to see them together, with Oliver doing Felicity’s trademark awkward dialogue/stammering. Of course the date couldn’t have gone off without a hitch, as Laurel Lance still has to be in the picture for Oliver to be emotionally torn; I just hope this is the season where Oliver stops sleeping with every other woman.

The episode did the little things right, with Werner Zytle whistling before he launches the RPG, adding to Stormare’s ‘crazy’ persona. Diggle still possess his usual humor and wisdom dispensing. The POV camerawork after the RPG attack captured the intensity and chaos of the scene. It was good to see Roy actually doing cool, superhero stuff, instead of just feeling like a drag on everyone else. I also liked the homage to Batman when Oliver suppresses his fears as he faces off against Werner Zytle for the second time.

Overall, the episode was the right way to get the season started off, including the surprise ending of Sara getting killed by either Malcolm Merlyn or Ra’s al Ghul. I look forward to the answer to this and other questions, and I hope they continue with the success of the past two seasons to make sure that similar plot lines do not feel old and tired.

Before the first frame blinked into its split second of existence, the CW’s The Flash already had a lot going for it. Fans of Arrow had already been introduced to the awkward, intelligent, good-guy Barry Allen and two of his soon-to-be comrades in arms, Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon. Most liked Grant Gustin portrayal of pre-accident Barry and we were given his personal story, something that Arrow fans probably felt slowed down the Pilot. It was necessary to go over for brand-new viewers, but the origin story wasn’t anywhere near as interesting and compelling as its veteran cousin’s; something the writers should have done a better job about, but sometimes there is only so much you can do with material, something I hope the series does not suffer from.

After the origin story we see a little bit of pre-accident life for Barry with his job as an assistant CSI. I liked the nod to BBC’s Sherlock with Barry’s mental analyzing, but the writers need to be very careful, as Sherlock owns it and it could come across as cheep and copycat.

One thing that becomes apparent early on is that The Flash is more Comic-bookie like ABC’s Agents of Shield than serious, like Gotham or Arrow. There lies the show’s strength and weakness, it is fun romp but can easily fall into the cliches of comic books (the protagonist is obviously awkward with girls. Iris is oblivious to Barry’s true feelings. The pulse from S.T. A.R. Labs takes out the criminals’ plane but not the cop’s vehicles. Barry doesn’t suffer more severe injuries from running into a van or fifty gallon water drums at 200+ MPH). They need a proper balance, otherwise their ratings will fall like Agents has (and The Flash doesn’t have a massive movie like The Avengers to prop it up).

Adding to the feeling of wasted potential is they reuse scenes from Arrow, they should have shot the scene in a totally different way, but I suppose they may have spent all their money on special effects.

However once you get past who found Barry lying unconscious in his loft, and Barry going through the window of Marston’s car and somehow magically sitting upright with the car door still intact…you still have a pretty good show.

The show is fun and lighthearted, so the comic-book cheese doesn’t affect it as much as it would a Gotham or Arrow. “Lighting gave me abs” epitomized this, and also managed to poke a little fun at its origins. It was a good move by the show to have Oliver Queen make an appearance and for him in turn, to be the inspiration of the Crimson Comet’s most well-known name.

I liked all of the cast. While I get the feeling some of the actors may not have the same abilities as fellow actors in other shows, they all fit their roles well.

Joe West’s speech was full a passion and felt like the real deal. Caitlin Snow’s brief, cold explanation of herself was very believable. That’s what I really liked about the pilot, none of the acting was blow you away crazy but every bit felt genuine, like pieces of real conversation. Even the dialogue from the what-is-he-up-to Harrison Wells, felt genuine; which made his reveal that he was lying more surprising than it had any right to be. Marston, in combo with the music, was definitely creepy with his “God speech.”

What can I say about the special effects, they were good…really good. The CW just better make sure they don’t pull a George Lucas and Michael Bay and go with “special effects is storytelling”. The suit was pretty awesome, and it is cool to have a superhero show with legitimate superpowers in it.

All of this comes up to my final point. The Flash is a fun thrill ride, much like the titular character’s super-persona, but the show has the potential to easily land into the large pile of failed superhero attempts in movie/TVland. I think they revealed Barry to Iris’s father way too early, and I hope we don’t get another The Amazing Spider-Man (movies not the comics) cliche protective dad/forbidden love sort of thing going on. But as the prison scene with Barry and his dad showed, the show also has the potential to do something special.

Run, Barry, Run.