Let’s face it. The CW shows have it going on right now. Their shows may not hit all the time, but they have more hits than misses. And I had my doubts for The Flash series before it debuted.
I wasn’t sure how good the production value (CGI and other effects) would be because the CW doesn’t have as large a budget as the bigger networks, and The Flash with all its meta-humans could go over the top quickly. But neither of those things has happened so far. The effects look slick, and more importantly, the grounded characters—at least the main cast: Barry, Detective West, and Harrison Wells—make a man running several times the speed of sound look natural.
Like Ollie from Arrow—learning how not to kill—before him, Barry Allen struggles with what’s right in the latest episode of The Flash. This isn’t the first time Barry has questioned how he should use his powers or even if he should use his powers, and this makes Barry a believable character; take notes, Gotham’s Batboy. You can’t be the hero you will become after three episodes, and while The Flash could be on the fast track to superherodom, he still stumbles.
The flashbacks in this episode stumble, too, but I don’t think the execution of the flashbacks was the main reason. Sure, the transitions are clunky, but the chief problem with these flashbacks rest with who’s having them. I haven’t bought into Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon as characters yet, so their back stories fall a little short. Heck, Diggle didn’t have a flashback until much later in the Arrow series. The Flash needs to develop these two characters further before they delve into their past. But the one flashback at the end—I won’t say who, but you can probably guess—makes up for the previous flashbacks.
I enjoyed this episode’s villain. He had a good back story, a great power, and the reasoning behind his abilities made sense. The only problem is that The Mist is the appetizer for a larger meal. We’re getting some nice build up. Let’s hope the payoff is worth it. But I’ve learned my lesson with CW shows. I expect a wallop of a payoff.
Verdict: The Flash continues its strong start.
The show continues with some clunky character interaction, and the flashbacks to the night the particle accelerator blew up weren’t handled as well as they should have been, slowing down the pace of the episode, but this show continues to hit far more than it misses. I really enjoyed seeing Barry struggle with the knowledge that he could simply bust his father out of prison, and seeing a character ponder an ethical question like that is a great example of how to develop a character. In short, The Flash is not yet the person he will become, and that makes it interesting. The Mist was the villain of the week, and while I feel we didn’t get enough of the character, I was impressed with the presentation. I knew a show like The Flash would test the limits of The CW’s production budget, and this episode in particular shows they’re doing pretty well.
This week’s episode of Arrow was enjoyable, but I found myself having to suspend disbelief quite a bit which is something I’ve had to do a lot of this season. Is it just me or are we going to see someone pull their League of Assassins training out of a Cracker Jack?
We’ve had too many characters with world-class combat training in this show already, and now we get Thea and a fledgling Laurel. It takes longer than six months to pull off Deathstroke moves, people. That said. The Laurel storyline was at least somewhat believable. She did get her behind handed to her, and her motivation makes sense. I just don’t care for the actor’s portrayal of the character up to this point. But I have to admit that she’s showing some range this season, so I’ll hold some of my judgment until later in the season. It does look like we traded watching Roy Harper’s (Arsenal’s) training—something I’m glad we didn’t have to see in its entirety—for Laurel Lance’s (Black Canary Mark II’s).
But surely Laurel’s training will last longer than Thea’s. She’s already a card carrying assassin. And didn’t she shoot her dad in last season’s finale? She should have herself checked for a personality disorder, because she swings over to Camp Merlyn in half a heartbeat with some half-baked idea that she no longer wants to feel pain and that Merlyn’s the chap to teach how not to feel. Hunh?
Despite the odd Merlyn-Thea relationship, I liked Ollie’s and Thea’s interactions in this episode. It’s nice to see how Ollie connects with Thea. It felt like a genuine moment, and I’m interested to see how Thea balance her brother’s and her biological father’s relationship. Or if she even chooses one over the other. I have my suspicions as to which side she’ll choose, but I think the show does a good job sewing ambiguity in the character.
And speaking of ambiguity, I like what Arrow’s done with A.R.G.U.S. in this episode. Up until now they’ve given us enough to know that they aren’t the kind of group you want to play patty cake with—and that continues in this episode—but they haven’t completely shown their hand. I do have to say that I don’t buy that Lyla would send Diggle to do her dirty work unless she wanted Diggle to get her out of A.R.G.U.S. which remains to be seen.
Still, this episode of Arrow kept me entertained, and I’m glad they didn’t hide The Flash Easter eggs dotted throughout the episode. I won’t spoil anything for you, but you’ll like the two cliffhangers.
Verdict: It has its flaws, but it’s still fun to watch.
The can of mixed nuts that is Gotham continues. The creative team shakes the can every week, dumps out ten nuts at a time, and the fans have to hope for a good variety. We got the same nut this week. You’ll begin to see a pattern with what’s working and what needs work in this fifth episode.
Bruce makes another appearance. His inclusion makes more sense with the story’s arc, and this is a great thing. But he’s already Batman. As I’ve said in weeks past I don’t want to see Batboy. Bruce Wayne has no place to grow as a character. He’s already Batman at age 12, and not only is that unbelievable, it also makes Batboy not interesting. We all know how Bruce Wayne ends up, and you do have to give service to Bruce’s proclivities, but show us his path of becoming Batman. He can’t be Batboy sans cape and cowl less than a month after his parents’ death.
Gotham City continues to feel like a modern city from an alternate reality, and it doesn’t look like a New York City clone. This is another great thing. But the rampant crime and mob war screams a Batman era Gotham instead of a Lieutenant Gordon Gotham. The city’s corruption should exist but should be difficult to see at first like the oil on a teenager’s skin. The pimple shouldn’t be ready to pop.
Minor spoiler: the drug of choice in this episode, Viper, is the predecessor of the Venom Bane uses in the comics. While the two drugs are similar, they don’t work the same way. This is another great choice. But, through dialogue, we learn that a group of scientists have already perfected Venom. You can’t have Venom without Bane, and I don’t see them introducing this character any time soon. Gotham wastes yet another chance to let the world that will become Batman’s to develop.
And the only development worth watching on a nightly basis is the Penguin. Let’s call this nut a cashew: the nut I try to eat the most of before my wife gets to the can. I like Robin Lord Taylor’s portrayal of the Penguin a lot. I might be a little biased because I also wondered why the Nolan Batman movies didn’t include the Penguin. He’s a Batman character grounded in reality, rooted in the mob, and you can count on Taylor’s performance most nights. Taylor gives another great performance this week. The only problem with the Penguin is that his story intertwines with Fish Mooney’s.
Fish’s accent continues to baffle me. What is her nationality anyway? Most of Europe may share a common currency, but they don’t all speak the same language let alone the same dialect. Furthermore, Fish’s cockamamie ideas make no sense. The only positive thing I can say is that at least Gotham didn’t wait a few months to show how a teenage songbird could take down a crime boss. The only problem is that there’s no way this plan should work. And I fear that it might.
Verdict: A can of mixed nuts where most of the good nuts are taken.
I’m glad that Bruce’s part of the plot felt less tacked-on this week, but I’m still not convinced he should have been in the episode. I’m also annoyed that he’s already displaying so many of the characteristics that will make him Batman. I’ve said it before, but the character should be allowed to develop with the show. Also on that note, I’m troubled that Venom exists so far before Batman comes into being. Frankly, I think “Viper” was pretty obviously a precursor to Venom, and I think they could have left it at the prototype, and that would have been a good thing. Fish Mooney’s acting continues to annoy, and the idea that her protégé could take down a mob boss with a song is unbelievable and silly. The show still isn’t terrible, it’s just that I can’t shake the feeling that it should be getting better.