Top 5 Wonder Woman Villains

She may not have as extensive a rogues gallery as Batman, but the first lady of superheroes has some interesting villains of her own. The Wonder Woman feature film’s out today so let’s celebrate with our list of the Amazon Princess’s greatest villains.

5: Doctor Psycho

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Okay. He’s got a goofy name and an even stranger appearance but Doctor Psycho has developed into one of Wonder Woman’s best enemies. He wants to control Diana Prince and for that Doctor Psycho may be the quintessential Wonder Woman villain. She combats stereotypes. She vows she won’t be dominated by any man—or woman for that matter—and Doctor Psycho yearns for Wonder Woman at his heel. He’s pretty much an allegory for misogyny and chauvinism. Or perhaps its physical manifestation. Maybe that’s why he’s a small man.

4: Maxwell Lord

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This one may be a bit of a cheat. Maxwell Lord is a Wonder Woman villain, he’s gone toe to toe with her countless times, but his influence extends beyond just her. At one point Maxwell Lord reinstated the Justice League with new members and waited years to hatch his plan for world domination. Talk about a long con. He’s a manipulative bastard and a perfect complement to Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth. Wonder Woman didn’t catch Lord’s elaborate lies until it was too late. Maxwell Lord would make a good villain in a future Wonder Woman film.

3: Ares

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Ah, we finally get to the villain of the first Wonder Woman movie: Ares. No one should question his power. Ares is a god. He certainly has more than enough power to take on the Amazonian princess. He also has personal reasons to target her. His and Diana’s relationship has changed with each iteration of Wonder Woman. Sometimes Ares is shunned by the Amazons, forced to impose his will on the world of man. Other times he’s an uneasy ally. Regardless, he has personal ties to the character (he’s her uncle). One of my favorite Ares stories comes from Brian Azzarello’s New 52 run when Diana must take Ares’s place in Olympus. No matter what the story, Ares is usually a compelling foil.

2: Circe

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Circe is to Wonder Woman what Black Mask is to Batman. She’s Diana’s dark negative. While Wonder Woman defends her sisters while trying to understand the world of man, Circe wants to sow distrust and watch the whole thing burn. Both are princesses of the ancient world. Both have ties to Greek gods. (Wonder Woman is one of Zeus’s many children and Hecate uses Circe as her revenge against the gods.) Both have reasons to distrust man. But Wonder Woman can overcome her distrust and foster understanding. Circe refuses. She’s formidable. Occasionally, she tries to coax Diana to her way of thinking. The fact that she may have a point at times makes her another great villain.  But she’s not Wonder Woman’s number one.

1: Cheetah

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Barbara Ann Minerva (Cheetah) and Diana Prince have a long, complicated history. Barbara is an anthropologist who wanted—in most DC realities—proof of the Amazonians’ existence so she’s thrilled when she befriends Diana. Wonder Woman is living proof Amazons not only existed, they continue to thrive. But usually, Barbara’s curiosity (of wanting to find Wonder Woman’s home Themyscira) gets the better of her and she suffers the curse of the god Urzkartaga who transforms her into a half-woman, half-cheetah being with superhuman powers. Of course, the story changes from one reality to another but this is the main gist. The two faceoff a lot and their former friendship often colors their battles. These confrontations tend to get personal.

There were several villains who didn’t make the list. Giganta just missed it. I disqualified The First Born from Azzarello’s run because I haven’t seen him in any other Wonder Woman story arc but the one he was in was amazing. Seriously, you should try the New 52 Wonder Woman trades volumes 1-6. You won’t be disappointed.

Did we get the list right, for the most part? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.

 

 

iZombie: “Dirt Nap Time”

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Kyle’s Thoughts

I got into iZombie because of its genre blending: murder mystery, zombies, comedy, and police procedural. I’d rate the four facets in that order. Last season was fantastic in terms of pacing and an un-CW lack of a romantic focal point. Season three started with some speed bumps, but “Dirt Nap Time” continues this season’s upward trend.

The weekly mystery (the main source for the police procedural side of things) has yet to click, Liv gets a vision that solves the investigation and little detective work is needed, but the ongoing plots of humans finding out about zombies and the zombie cure works—for the most part. I still don’t like how zombie existence was first uncovered: discarded brain paste tubes. People will get suspicious when they find a used brain tube in someone’s trash. The continuance of this storyline has worked out a lot better.

In fact, humans investigating the existence of zombies serves as another mystery layer. “Dirt Nap Time” ended with a potential smoking gun for zombie existence. I would’ve liked iZombie to channel Columbo and play up the investigation with the audience knowing the solution but not knowing how the detective(s) will solve the mystery. Still, it played out well enough.

The zombie cure thief remains a mystery and that’s a great thing. There are plenty of suspects: Blaine (he can’t be ruled out completely), Blaine’s dad (Donnie doesn’t know anything but his boss might), and the Zombietopia (who else would not want a cure for zombieism on the open market?). This long play could sustain iZombie to the season finale or beyond.

I’m not sure I buy into Major’s desire to stay with the Zombietopia. It makes sense that he wouldn’t have many options as a suspected serial killer, but Major ended up in three or four situations where he could’ve been found out as a human. He won’t, and shouldn’t, be able to keep up this charade. It’s a little fun guessing when that’ll happen but it’s too convenient from a plot standpoint for him to dodge detection. Like I said, there were three to four situations in thirty minutes where he could’ve, and probably should’ve, been unmasked and something or someone was in the right place at the right time.

The elementary school teacher brains Liv was on this week provided some laughs and a nice bend to Liv’s base personality. The brain influences Liv experience each week work best when they serve to nudge her in a direction. They don’t work when they take over her personality. Was Liv over-the-top a few times? Yes. Was she completely out of character? There’s an argument for no and this may be the first time that can be said this season. iZombie has descended into Liv’s meals as deus ex machina, laugh factories, or both. “Dirt Nap Time” could be accused of this too, but at least it isn’t as blatant.

iZombie still has plenty of rough patches but it continues to be one of the more watchable shows on the CW. “Dirt Nap Time” did enough to hold my interest.

Thanks for reading.

Supergirl: “Resist”

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Kyle’s Thoughts

“Resist” used a lot of buzz words. I can’t remember them all and I’d rather not get too political her, but there were plenty of politically charged buzz words. As a result, this episode took the CW’s poor dialogue to new levels. The president’s an alien? I hope she’s still a democrat. There were plenty of other things to dislike about this episode but before I get to them, I’ll cite the one thing I liked about “Resist”: Cadmus returned.

Supergirl used the tired trope of a villain (Cadmus and Mama Luthor) teaming up with a hero to stop a mutual enemy, but “Resist” kept Mama Luthor true to her character. She’d take her chance to stop Kara as well as Rhea. It may have been an obvious twist, but it worked. The show bringing back Cadmus gave the first half of the season meaning. Without bringing Cadmus back into the fold, Supergirl would’ve orphaned the season’s two halves. I guess I should’ve seen Cadmus’s return coming but I didn’t think the show had any time left to reintroduce them. I should never underestimate the CW’s knack for having characters drop by announced.

Speaking of which, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) came out of nowhere to deliver the speech that gave this episode its name: Resist. She just happened to be flying with the President of the United States (Linda Carter) when the Pres took on Rhea. Sure. Cat kicking it with the President at the time aliens invaded Earth makes sense. And that brings me to the biggest sticky point with this episode. Where is the future Justice League?

It’s been confirmed that Supergirl exists in the same universe, timeline, and reality as DC’s cinematic universe. That means Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman reside in this storyline. We know what happened to Supes (I won’t spoil it for you here) but that still leaves five other superheroes who’re at home, washing their tights—presumably—while the President confronts an invading alien army.

I get that Supergirl wants to keep its male cast to a minimum but the Wonder Woman movie is coming out in two weeks. Does it make too much sense to have a cameo from the lead of the upcoming DC superhero movie? Or at least have some mention of Wonder Woman.

I could go on but I’m tired of talking about Supergirl’s shortcomings. “Resist” had plenty of flaws but it did an okay job of setting up a final confrontation—no matter how many plot holes the episode created in the process—and the episode ended in a decent place.

Warning: the following is that Superman spoiler I avoided earlier.

Superman has been mind-whammied by Rhea. “Resist” ended with Supes standing by her side. I don’t like the superhero versus superhero trope, but Jim hates it. If you press your ear up against the device you’re reading this on, you can hear Jim sigh.

End of Superman spoiler

Thanks for reading.

Flash: “Cause and Effect”

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Jim’s Thoughts           

When I talk about team Flash making their own problems, I usually mean to reference their tendency to withhold information from one another. This week’s episode offered a different take on that. They deleted Barry’s memories.

“Amnesia” episodes are pretty formulaic. We’ve all seen them. They’re usually found in sitcoms or soap operas, and there isn’t a lot of new ground to cover. For Flash, this felt like a stalling tactic, something to keep everyone in a holding pattern and fill out an extra episode.

Romance was the order of the day again, and it was done as poorly as I’ve come to expect. Barry and Iris had their 50 First Dates moments. The only remotely interesting component of this was seeing Barry unburdened by his life as Flash and his past, that is having seen his parents murdered. Instead of focusing on that, we got a lot of Barry, not remembering anything at all, but falling in love with Iris inside of a day.

Speaking of falling in love in a day, HR’s pursuit of romance was nonstop cringeworthy. It also made no sense given that he’s interfering with the development of the speed force trap the team needs.

The moments with Cisco and Caitlin could have taken more focus, and they probably should have. That “I don’t love you” moment with Julian couldn’t carry any weight. How could he love her? Seriously, I’m beating a dead horse, I know, but love takes longer than toasting a Pop-tart. I don’t buy their “love.”

At this point, I’ve lost faith in the show. I don’t think it’s a slump, and I’m just sticking it out for the rest of the season.

Kyle’s Take

Jim covered the specific issues in this week’s Flash “Cause and Effect.” I’ll pepper some of this week’s episode as I discuss why I’ve lost faith in the show. I’m not speaking for Jim. He may have a very different list. There are several problems with Flash as the seasons have progressed. I’ll try to hit on most of them (this is not a complete list) as quickly as possible.

A) Each season’s a different twist on the same story and each time the show tells the story, it makes less sense.

The first season had Eobard Thawne in a Harrison Wells suit. A faster, evil Thawne groomed Barry to help himself get back to his time—still the series’ best use of time-travel.

The second season had an even faster and eviler villain Zoom, who happened to be on Team Flash masquerading as Jay Garrick. Zoom wanted Barry’s speed so he could be the fastest man in all creation. That’s okay, I guess.

The third season has an even faster-mcfastest and eviler-mcevilest villain Savitar. Savitar is Other Barry. He wants to kill Iris so First Barry will make Other Barry. “The rules don’t apply to me,” Other Barry said on this week’s episode. You can say that again, Other Barry.

B) Harrison Wells’s existence on Team Flash serves less purpose with each passing season, and HR’s love interest isn’t the biggest reason he ceases to work as a character.

In season one, Wells was Barry’s nemesis Reverse-Flash. Tom Cavanaugh’s performance in season one is one of the best things ever seen on The CW. Remember that scene when Wells spewed hate at an unconscious Barry and in the next moment, he smiles at Team Flash? Chills. Season one Thawne was an evil bastard but I begrudgingly liked him.

The second season was Wells 2.0. He was an okay twist on the character. I didn’t mind Wells as a curmudgeonly hero.

This season, HR is a non-genius version of the character whose job is comic relief because everyone else in the cast has no joy.

I like Cavanaugh, but this isn’t the Wells fans love. In fact, Cavanaugh wasn’t even Wells in season one. He was Thawne. It’s okay to kill off a character, especially since you can have too many.

C) Too many characters

I think there are 10 active members of Team Flash (Barry, Cisco, Joe, Iris, Caitlin, Julian, HR, Wells 2.0, Wally, and Jesse) with numerous alternative members. There are at least four speedster heroes and that’s a huge problem for Barry. Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen is a nice guy but the most interesting thing about him is that he’s “The Fastest Man Alive.”

Only, he’s not the fastest man alive. Remember Thawne, Zoom, and this season’s Savitar? Add any other speedsters and Barry loses his uniqueness. And ten characters on a weekly show is five or six too many.

Most members of Team Flash stand around the computer. They’re nothing but talking heads.

D) Baris gives Olicity a run for its money

Barry and Iris’s relationship is creepy. I’ve said it before, they’re brother and sister. Ew.

But let’s take it further than that. They have no chemistry. Jim and I have said that before, too, but the lack of chemistry adds to the fact that they’re siblings. Ew ew.

They also have nothing in common. Remember that date Barry and Iris had? They had nothing to talk about.

Then, there’s the fact that Iris is nothing but Barry’s fiancée. She used to have a job as a reporter at one point. I didn’t buy the storyline that much but at least she was something other than Barry’s squeeze. Iris used to have ambition. For proclaiming they’re a progressive network, The CW has done Iris a disservice with her graduating with a Mrs.

E) What’s up with all the secrets

I could tell you my secret, but I’ll have to kill you. Enough with the lying.

Yes. Superheroes have secret identities but the reason they should tell their loved ones their secret is that the only tension Flash has is someone lying to someone else about their identity. Why not have characters disagree on a fundamental level? There are plenty of comic book examples where folks butt heads due to ideological differences. Green Arrow and Green Lantern come to mind.

F) The show isn’t fun anymore

If anything, this week’s “Cause and Effect” showed a Barry excited about his powers. He even smiled once or twice. Who knew Barry could smile?

Jim makes fun of it, but the musical crossover “Duet” did the same thing for Cisco. When was the last time Cisco was any fun? He’s more at home this season wearing a ripped, My Chemical Romance t-shirt, playing douchebag acoustic guitar, and singing, “My shirt shows off my flab. I have a rash on my elbow.” Cisco sings that song often. He calls it “Meh, Vibe.”

And that’s where I’m at with Flash. I’m getting strong meh vibes.

Thanks for reading.

iZombie: “Some Like It Hot Mess”

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Kyle’s Thoughts

“Some Like It Hot Mess” undid a lot of what wasn’t working this season and it made for a watchable episode with fewer flaws. Maybe it’s because iZombie works best when it’s a “Hot Mess.” Let’s forget I said that. I can’t go into too much detail without giving away spoilers so consider this your spoiler warning.

Turns out Blaine was faking his memory loss, sort of. He did have memory loss for a few days after he turned from a zombie back into a human—I’m still not sure how that works scientifically but this is a fantasy show so let’s go with it—and Blaine regained full cognitive function. What would happen when Peyton, Liv, and the rest found out? Crap would hit the fan.

Blaine and Peyton’s relationship ended immediately (I’m okay with CW shows killing romances and iZombie does a decent job of portraying unrequited love), and Blaine would have to decide if he’d stay the “good” person he’d become the past several months or revert to his thieving ways. That interests me.

Knowing the cure is safe, Liv could turn back to a human, but iZombie couldn’t continue for long as iHuman. Well, someone steals the last remaining cure doses and there are a couple good suspects: Blaine and Don. Ah. iZombie gets back to a good old-fashioned Whodunit. I’m on board with that development, and when Liv turned to Major for the other dose of cure Ravi gave him, Major didn’t have it. He’d given it to another female zombie. That effectively killed another budding romance and added complications. That’s another win.

Not everything was great in “Some Like It Hot Mess.” The weekly mystery had the usual red herrings but didn’t add any unusual twists iZombie can be capable of. In fact, the police procedural has been getting a raw deal all season long. At first it was the setup for Zombietopia and imminent Zombiepocalypse, then it was Detective Babineaux’s strange relationship with a zombie family. This week prevented interesting twists on the weekly mystery front due to relationship/cure drama. I’ve said this before and a little gun shy, but iZombie could be trending in the right direction.

We haven’t seen the last of the Zombietopia/Zombiepocalypse but iZombie may refract its stories in more satisfying ways. “Some Like It Hot Mess” gave me more hope than any other CW show lately. That’s something.

Thanks for reading.

Supergirl: “City of Lost Children”

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Kyle’s Thoughts

This week’s Supergirl saw the Daxamite invasion take place. It wasn’t hard to see what Rhea (Mon-El’s mom) had in store. The show did little to build suspense, but “City of Lost Children” did an okay job of setting up Supergirl for its season finale. The Daxam War is a snooze fest.

At the heart of the Daxam conflict rests the Mon-Kara melodrama. Supergirl is the latest in a long line of CW shows to suffer from over-romance. This network insists on every story turning into a hackneyed star-crossed lovers story, and Mon-Kara is the most obvious Romeo and Juliet rip-off. Enough with CW-brand romance.

The Daxam invasion has played out like the Kryptonian one last season so the idea of an alien race of superbeings taking over Earth is old news. The one plus—and it’s not too big of a plus—is that Supergirl remains more focused right now than Arrow or Flash. But it wasn’t always the case, and again, this goes back to Mon-Kara. CW romances don’t work.

Unlike other CW romances, Supergirl took the time to develop Mon-Kara (in the most annoying way possible by backloading episodes with romance) and the big-bad, Mon-El’s mom and the Daxams, didn’t reveal themselves until after the mid-season break. I would’ve been happy with Mama Luthor—who has more of a footprint in Superman-Supergirl lore—and Cadmus as this season’s big-bad, and they were discarded midway through the season. The season became a scattered mess. The more Mon-Kara took a starring role, the more scattered the season became until Rhea announced herself. By then I started losing interest. I’ve lost interest the more Supergirl has gone down the Mon-Kara rabbit hole. The show is on the verge of going full CW.

The other half of “City of Lost Children” dealt with Jimmy Olsen as Guardian. (Groan.) Jimmy has an image problem. He hasn’t become the symbol of hope he wished he’d be. I don’t like Jimmy as a hero but this part of the episode worked better than the ongoing melodrama. That doesn’t mean it didn’t have gaping flaws. Not the least of which is suspension of disbelief.

A Phorian boy with telepathic and telekinetic powers bonds with Jimmy, after his mother goes missing. That could happen, I guess.

He bonds with Jimmy because Jimmy’s a misunderstood hero. This eight-year-old kid wouldn’t know much of Jimmy’s backstory without keeping up with the news. So that’s less believable.

The Phorian boy also shares more in common with J’onn J’onnz than he does with Jimmy. Supergirl does explain that it’s the person inside that matters, not the fact that Jimmy and the boy share dark skin. I call bull crap.

The image crisis Jimmy happens to be facing this second doesn’t compare to a kid who’s had to planet hop his entire life because he’s viewed as a threat. It also doesn’t cancel the fact that J’onn and the boy have a lot in common. Both are orphans of a dead planet, have telepathic powers, had to hide who/what they were for years, and hello, are aliens. Heck, this alien kid has more similarities with Kara (another alien from a dead planet who hides who or what they are from the world). Jimmy’s an emo Batman. An alien kid would never gravitate to Batman if Martian Manhunter or Superman were around, not even if Batman was more emo.

Jimmy’s part of the story gave him something to do as Guardian. Heck, it showcased his ability to relate to people—no matter how far-fetched—and that was good to see. Despite the huge leap of disbelief, I’m half-tempted to give this part of the show a pass, except that the Phorians are the obvious key to beating the Daxamites. There are more Phorians on Earth than the kid and his mother, conveniently enough to take down a Daxamite fleet. Do I even need to see the final few episodes?

Supergirl will go on autopilot to the finale, and I’m not sure how interested I’ll be in watching the series next season.

Thanks for reading.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

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Jim’s Thoughts

If you haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 yet, you really should. Even if you’re not a comic book fan, this franchise can entertain a wide audience, because, simply put, it’s funny. They went a little further with the humor this time, which is to say they went with some more outlandish gags, but it works on a consistent basis.

From a storytelling standpoint, I appreciate that the character development we got from the first movie stood up here. Drax still has a tragic backstory, but he learned to laugh in the first movie, and that’s the sort of thing that’s been built upon. We’re not back to the same old status quo.

The new characters, like Mantis, were used well here, and the ones who only had a minor part last time get a little more screen time. Nebula gets a proper backstory, and it adds something to the character dynamic. Yondu and Rocket have a nice moment here that establishes a relationship between them. In short, no one feels like they’re just plugging a hole in the screen.

If there is anything to pick on here, I can’t say it’s all that clear what the stakes are moving forward. By that, I mean I can’t quite say I know what this installment does to build toward Infinity War, but there’s nothing wrong with a movie standing on its own.

While the impact volume 2 is meant to have on the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe may be unclear, it does move its own internal story forward quite a bit. This is not a movie that refused to take any chances. It does, and I think it pays off. If Doctor Strange left you wondering if the cracks in the MCU were showing up, Guardians vol 2 will restore your faith.

Kyle’s Take

I’ll echo Jim’s thoughts and say that Guardians of the Galaxy has wide appeal. The ensemble is funny. Guardians vol 2 captured the joy of the original, took risks (I’ll explain that more in a labeled, spoiler section), and I’m not sure how Guardians vol 2 works within the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I’m not sure that’s the point. It’s fun.

I also appreciate, from a storytelling standpoint, that Guardians didn’t include everything from the comics. This movie is its own beast. There are moments in comic book TV shows where a comic backstory isn’t explained or built upon and the show slips them in out of nowhere as a wink to the “true comic book fans.” Drax has a very different backstory in the comics—he’s human and learns his daughter Moondragon survived Thanos’s attack—but Guardians didn’t shoehorn that in. I’d like to see Moondragon but if she doesn’t serve the story, don’t add her. Guardians showed restraint. What’s not in a story can matter as much as what’s in a story.

Of course, what’s in Guardians vol 2’s story is solid. Drax progresses as a character. Star-Lord discovers his past and where he comes from. Mantis, Nebula, Yondu, and Rocket had all the great moments Jim talked about. So, I’ll just say, ditto—for now. If there was one character that concerned me going into the movie, it’d be Baby Groot.

Baby Groot’s cute, cuddly, and a major sight gag source. He had the possibility of being too over-the-top, and Baby Groot was the main culprit of the movie’s increased zaniness, but he wasn’t as overpowering as I feared. Baby Groot stayed in character. I shouldn’t have doubted him. He is Groot.

If there was one thing missing from the first Guardians movie, it’d be a compelling villain. Guardians vol 2 fixed that but to discuss it further, I’ll have to call spoilers.

***Begin Spoiler Section***

Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 deviated from the comics again with Star-Lord’s father. In the comics, he’s supposed to be J’son, or Jason, of Spartax. Jason is an emperor. He’s not a celestial and certainly not Ego: The Living Planet. I’ve wanted Ego in a Marvel entity for some time. Yes.

Ego has, well, a big ego. He wants to expand his reach in the universe and plans to use his son (he was impregnating females in numerous galaxies) as a means for domination. The power mad, other-worldly being is a tired trope, but Guardians 2’s familial ties added a nice spin. It also explored Star-Lord on a personal level and posed an interesting distinction. Star-Lord’s biological father is Ego but he never cared for him. Star-Lord’s dad is Yandu.

Yandu raised Quill. He didn’t want to bring Quill to his father because he knew Ego would use and hurt him. Like Rocket, Yandu pushed the ones closest to him away as a defense mechanism. He cared for Quill and made the ultimate sacrifice. There is a difference between a father and a dad.

The same goes for a mother and a mom.

***End Spoiler Section***

Ultimately, Guardians 2 is worth the price of admission. I’ll see it more than once.

Thanks for reading.

Note: Drax’s backstory has been retconned in the comics since the first Guardians movie. Marvel had to change it; Dave Bautista’s reflexes are too fast.

Arrow: “Underneath”

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Jim’s Thoughts

If, during this week’s Arrow, you heard a loud crack echoing through the trees, that was the sound of the camel’s back breaking. I got about twenty minutes into the episode and gave up.

The absolute last thing this show needed was an episode dedicated to Oliver and Felicity’s relationship. By that, I mean I would have preferred a Flash/Supergirl style musical episode.

Felicity lecturing Oliver about how she always backs him and trusts him isn’t just boring, it’s blatantly false, and anyone who’s paid attention to the show this long knows it. I already dislike this couple. I’m not rooting for them, and seeing this quibbling play out while Chase is in play is just aggravating.

Romantic subplots have ruined Arrow and Flash for me, because they’re not even subplots anymore. They’ve become the focus of the show. I tuned in at the beginning for shows about comic book characters I happen to like. I accepted that being aired on The CW would mean they’d be different versions of the characters, made palatable for wider audiences than just comic book readers. They’ve gone too far now. Arrow and Flash aren’t DC Comics shows anymore. They’re Beverly Hills 90210 clones with a DC paint-job. I could continue to trash the shows, but it’s a more realistic, and fair, thing to simply admit I’m no long their target audience and to let it go.

Kyle’s Take

I agree with Jim’s sentiment of these shows as 90210 rip-offs with the caveat that I’d prefer five or six Flash/Supergirl musicals to “Underneath.” Arrow can’t let Olicity die. As a result, “Underneath” was dreck. The abysmal quality of this episode goes beyond the fact that I’m no longer part of Arrow’s target audience. This episode used flashbacks for one of the worst possible reasons: Ollie and Felicity’s bonus night.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, bonus night is a one night stand you have with your ex and you remain friends afterward. We didn’t need to see that. The sexual encounter didn’t change the future in any way. If it was a minute detail that didn’t need to be mentioned in the previous twenty episodes (around 900 minutes) this season, because it had no bearing on anything, why waste fifteen minutes?

The present-day garbage wasn’t much better. Did you forget Felicity has a computer chip that allows her to walk? Well, Arrow won’t hesitate to flip the switch on Felicity’s legs to get Ollie and Felicity talking. Did Ollie and Felicity resolve their issues by the end of the episode? For the most part. Was Felicity walking again at the end? You bet she was. She’ll be ambler until the next time Felicity and Ollie “need” to work through some issues. It’s pandering. Screw that. It’s insulting.

Fortunately, the Diggle drama ended—for now. When John chastised Lyla of holding people prisoner without a trial last week, I wondered if Arrow would make the connection that Ollie has Deathstroke and Captain Boomerang imprisoned under similar circumstances. “Underneath” didn’t bring attention to that fact. It opted to go with the blanket, “Ollie does things that are morally gray, and you support him.” I’d say, Arrow got something right, except that the Diggle argument played out too much like Olicity’s. Both conversations ended with Ollie and Diggle conceding the point, but Lyla made a good point, albeit a broad one, while Felicity had no leg to stand on. Ba-dum-bump (rimshot). I’m sorry if that was a tasteless pun, but Arrow makes it too easy.

“Underneath” hinted at the episode’s stinger somewhere in the eye of the melodrama. The stinger was the only okay thing in this episode, but it’s not enough to keep me interested. I may need to stop writing about this show or else I’ll include more tasteless puns.

Oh, and I had original written, this episode used flashbacks for the worst possible reason. I changed it to “one of” the worst possible reasons because I didn’t want to challenge Arrow with finding one far worse. Their writing staff may be able to find one.

Thanks for reading.

iZombie: “Spank the Zombie”

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Kyle’s Thoughts

“Spank the Zombie” wasn’t horrible but outside the shock value of Liv under the influence of a dominatrix brain, it was forgettable.

I won’t be able to remember anything about this episode in a few weeks besides Liv telling men to crawl on all fours and there isn’t a safe word when she breaks out her whip. I like it when iZombie doesn’t take itself too seriously. I don’t like it when the show puts too much of its entertainment value on the weird things Liv does because she’s eaten the brain of someone with an alternative lifestyle.

When the show works, Liv’s personal life, not necessarily her love life, gets effected by the brains she’s eaten. She gains the courage to tell someone her secret or sniffs out a lie someone else has been keeping for a few months or gains insight on how to help a friend. Sure, iZombie has a habit of adding comic relief with the goofy things Liv does because she isn’t quite herself, but this season has leaned too heavily on comedy or shock value. Major and Liv reconcile before he takes the zombie cure and gives himself a mind wipe. The dominatrix brain ran counter to that development.

I’m not the biggest fan of iZombie returning to the Major-Liv love angle out of nowhere. They never got together the past two seasons. iZombie didn’t bother to have much in the way of romance at all until now. Major and Liv were engaged before the events of the show started. It does make some sense they’d get back together under duress—this may be the last time Major’s himself—but I’d like a little more story.

iZombie too much emphasis on goofy brains. The CW places too much emphasis on romance. The show hadn’t done enough to hitch these Major and Liv. Major made googly eyes at Liv a few weeks ago but he hasn’t looked at her since like that or said anything and Liv has never expressed any feelings this season. And that’s what gets me with Liv’s character and iZombie putting too much of an emphasis on the silly things Liv does while on a set of abnormal brains. Liv hasn’t expressed much of anything.

It’s always been a fine line between Liv losing herself to the brains she’s eaten and how she really behaves, thinks, and feels. She’s lost herself this season. I may keep watching for a few weeks and see if this season turns around, but iZombie has taken a less than desirable turn.

Thanks for reading.

Supergirl: “Alex”

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Kyle’s Thoughts

“Alex” is difficult to evaluate. There were interesting points but several issues keep this week’s Supergirl from soaring.

On principle, I like how Kara learns how punching her way through her problems isn’t the best course of action. It adds a new layer to Kara being “super.” I’d argue she isn’t the punch first, ask questions later type. Supergirl didn’t set the stage for this conflict, but it was otherwise handled well enough. Criminals using the vigilante defense borrows a lot from Batman, and this story is more in line with Batman, but I’d give this storyline some extra leeway if Supergirl had developed it. The opening ten minutes of “Alex” didn’t do enough. We needed a few episodes for context.

Supergirl also leaned too much on Maggie and Alex’s relationship for my taste. The show has earned some latitude regarding this romance. Supergirl has done a great job for a CW show of depicting this relationship—the bar isn’t that high—but Maggie’s argument of “You’re her (Alex’s) sister, but that doesn’t mean you trump me as her girlfriend” doesn’t hold water. Kara and Alex are family. Maggie won’t be family until she marries Alex. I agree that Kara should’ve listened to Maggie, but ultimately, Kara does trump her. Put a ring on it, Maggie.

The Lena Luthor-Rhea (Mon-El’s mom) plotline has played out as badly as I thought it would. I’ll reiterate, I never cared for it. Maybe that colors my perception of this story arc, but Lena and Rhea behaved out of character this week. Since she’s been on the series longer, let’s start with Lena.

Lena questions Rhea’s intentions. She finds out Rhea’s an alien and her instinct is to contact Kara for a character reference. That makes sense. It sounds like something Lena would do. Kara’s too busy when Lena calls and she implies she’ll wait for Kara to have a free moment. At episode’s end Lena reconsiders—the reasoning for which occurs off camera in typical CW fashion—and gives Rhea a chance. Supergirl needed to show what changed to make Lena come to this decision. I don’t buy Lena trusting her gut in trusting Rhea when her gut reaction was to ask Kara.

We don’t know as much about Rhea but we do know she owns a large spaceship that scanned the elemental composition of Earth (for potential toxins), and “Alex” asks us to believe she’d forget that detail (including an element that doesn’t exist on Earth in her proposed blueprints). The episode also suggests Rhea would Wikipedia Lena’s bio so she could say they went to the same college. Sure she would. That’s so farfetched I’ll quote Ralph Wiggum (Simpsons) by saying that’s unpossible.

I could go on but I’ll stop. The Lena-Rhea connection is ill-conceived. It puts too much emphasis on a character we just met and places the season finale in the hands of the Mon-Kara romance. The CW needs to divorce itself from romance. The writers don’t know how relationships work.

Thanks for reading.