Something’s off with Arrow. Perhaps it’s hard to separate it from The Flash—especially with Fecility Smoak guest starring on The Flash this week and showing up for about two minutes in this week’s episode of Arrow—when this week’s episode of The Flash got the blood pumping despite some clunky dialogue. But even when you take Arrow as its own entity, you’ll find something off about it. It lacked excitement.
Perhaps it’s the way the writers dropped everything from last episode besides Thea, Merlyn, and Nyssa al Ghul getting put back into the fold. Perhaps it’s how Merlyn returned to Starling City. Ollie had made the trip to Corto Maltese and managed to avoid any contact with Merlyn, and then Merlyn makes his way to Starling City with everyone but Ollie knowing he was there. The whole transition felt artificial. Perhaps it’s the fact that the writing staff insists on turning Laurel into the Black Canary. News flash: she can’t pull off a hard-boiled action hero. With her doe eyes Laurel hands us a soft-boiled character and we’re left asking our waiter, “Did I order this?”
I thought Ollie and Thea had a genuine moment last week in Corto Maltese, but now that she’s back in Starling City, the moment lost its luster. While I like the idea of Ollie and Thea working under the guise of “no more secrets” while both of them are keeping things from each other, it bugs me that Thea outright lies to Ollie.
She underwent assassin training to get stronger, but it looks like getting stronger really means people don’t lie to me, I lie to other people. All this I’m going to keep the truth from this person, while they keep the truth from me borders on soap opera drama. Or it’s comical like one episode of Friends, “They don’t know that we know that they know that we know.” Just cut it out or scale it back.
Speaking of comical, the one cool spin move Roy pulls off lands him face first on the ground, after Nyssa hits him with a League of Assassin knockout dart. What’s not as funny is that Roy is one of the most earnest characters in Arrow, and Thea repeatedly lies to him.
The episode had great action sequences, especially when they got Ollie, Merlyn, and Nyssa in one space, which happened a lot. But the action felt hollow. I knew how it was going to end. Ollie would never take the kill shot, Nyssa would declare Ollie an enemy when he wouldn’t, and Merlyn would escape because Ollie would eventually take arms against Nyssa because Nyssa would try to kill Merlyn. The episode even choreographed the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul through forced dialogue. The good news is that we dig deeper into the League of Assassins, and maybe that storyline can progress.
But the brightest spot for this episode has to be Ollie’s Hong Kong flashbacks. We get some nice developments. Ollie makes his first kill at Amanda Waller’s request. Then, instead of contacting his family and the outside world, Ollie helps the Yamashiro family when he borrows their laptop. We see more of Ollie becoming the man he is in Starling City. Ollie even stands up to Waller and learns more about Edward Fyers which builds on Season 1’s flashbacks. I loved that they revisited this material.
Verdict: This episode had so many flaws that the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul was more of a whimper than a gong. But Arrow has a lot to build on with Merlyn in town and Ollie’s new war with the League.
I had mixed feelings over this week’s episode. On one hand we get the beginning of the Flash’s Rogues—which is fitting since the episode’s title is “Going Rogue”—and that’s a great thing, but on the other hand, we get an over-the-top performance by this week’s villain, Captain Cold (played by Wentworth Miller of Prison Break fame). Cold’s one liners like “you lost your cool” were too close to Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s Mr. Freeze of Batman and Robin infamy for my taste. Fortunately, Cold doesn’t drop too many of these lines.
I was worried that The Flash could go cornball and/or over-the-top as a series with its meta-human super powers, but still the Flash lends itself to goofiness. The on-going gag in the comic is that he’s the fastest man alive, but he’s always late. This episode takes full advantage of this brevity, and it also tests the limits of what’s corny and what’s a little goofy. I believe the show performed this tightrope walk well for the most part.
We had some genuine funny moments: Barry showing off for Felicity on the treadmill, the awkward moment between Detectives West and Thawne while they wait in their car, and even a few one-liners that hit their mark. I loved the moment when Captain Cold put innocent lives in danger and said that he knows the Flash’s true weakness: trying to save everyone. The moment rang true, and I’m hoping it’s a sign of what’s to come. We haven’t seen the last of Captain Cold.
Harrison Wells remains ambiguous. There are plenty of theories as to who he is, and I even mentioned a couple of names before, but I won’t bore you with any of them right now. We get a better sense of the Flash’s group dynamic in this episode.
Cisco created the freeze gun (Captain Cold buys off the black market) to stop Barry before he knew what kind of person Barry was. Another great choice. Jesse L. Martin delivers another layered performance as Detective Joe West. He doesn’t just dislike his daughter Iris dating his partner because he’s protective of her; he doesn’t want his partner’s relationship with his daughter to cloud his ability as a cop. Great stuff.
And then there’s Felicity. I already enjoy Emily Bett Rickards’s portrayal of Felicity Smoak on Arrow—there’s a reason people lobby for her character to get with Oliver: Olicity—and that’s because she has great chemistry with the Arrow cast, but she has just as much chemistry with Grant Gustin’s Flash. Too bad she can’t be a permanent fixture on The Flash.
Verdict: While it has its share of clunky dialogue and some questionable moments, The Flash continues to deliver the goods on a weekly basis.
I’d find this episode entertaining if I could separate it from the previous Gotham episodes and the Batman franchise as a whole. I can’t do either, so like episodes of Gotham before it, I’m left going hunh?
Finally, we get an episode focused on Bullock instead of Gordon. We learn what kind of detective he was when he first held a badge—a lot like Gordon as it turns out—and we see the contrast of how far he’s fallen. This would’ve been a great place to first introduce the character. From here we could see his deterioration as a police officer and buy into the cop he’s become. But this isn’t the first time we’ve met Bullock in Gotham, and he’s fallen so far in ten years—and we’re given little to show us why and how he’s done so—that the flashbacks don’t do the character enough justice.
And speaking of justice, why does everyone take the law into their own hands? Batman was supposed to be somewhat of an original, but Gotham has shown countless people pulling a Batman before Batman. Even the villain in this episode, the Spirit of the Goat, targets the wealthy because Gotham’s wealthy are corrupt and need punishment, but the lameness of the Goat doesn’t stop there.
The Goat is more hokey than scary, the villain’s scheme marries Occupy Wall Street (by pushing back against the 1%) with The Penguin’s final plan in 1992’s Batman Returns (kill all the first born), and then we find an odd twist at the end that isn’t as much gasp as it is duh-dun-dumb.
I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again. This Gotham feels like Batman’s Gotham not Gordon’s. You can even catch Gordon say that “Gotham needs something else (than a good cop),” and it shouldn’t be at that level yet.
Even though Gordon takes a backseat in this episode, we do see him reconcile with Barbara for some reason. So, they’re on again, but I don’t know or care enough about their relationship. Barbara stands by Gordon even when she knows he’s going to get arrested for Oswald Cobblepot’s murder, but even if we don’t buy her relationship with Gordon, we know why she would support him. Bullock’s willingness to go to jail indefinitely, after getting charged with conspiracy for murder, versus his anger at Gordon when he sees the Penguin waltz into the precinct makes less sense.
Sure, Bullock may get sprung from jail by Falcone, but we just saw an entire episode where Bullock is at least a competent police officer, and then that’s thrown out the window in one second. Even if Bullock was ticked at Gordon, I don’t think he’d come to blows with him in the precinct. He would’ve waited until they were alone.
Like I said earlier, this episode doesn’t even follow Gotham’s internal logic let alone the history of Batman. It negates everything it built in the last episode—of Maroni using the Penguin to take down Falcone—the moment The Penguin waddles into the precinct.
Here are some quick side notes for the episode:
There’s no Fish Mooney. Yay! Bruce isn’t in the episode much. Double Yay! But he does show off as The Batboy. Groan. Alfred not only doesn’t care for Bruce’s wellbeing, he doesn’t even check to see if all the windows are locked in Wayne Manor. Ugh. Tweenage Catwoman slips through the window Alfred left unlocked—or even left wide open—and circles the twelve-year-old Bruce. Seriously, she does everything but lick him. Ew. Edward Nygma’s hot for a bookish coworker. Hunh? And he stalks her like Catwoman hunts Bruce. Ahh. I think I’m going to be sick.
Despite all these problems, this episode could be entertaining if you forget everything you know about the Gotham series so far and refuse to believe in Batman.
Verdict: Gotham doesn’t have much direction, and what little direction it has is misplaced. There were some nice choices in this episode if the series started here, but Gotham needs to find what it is and stick with it.