Arrowverse Recap: Villains Challenge Heroes in Unexpected Ways

The CW’s robust lineup of DC Comics-based shows—oft dubbed the Arrowverse—can be a lot to keep up with. Join us weekly as Andrew Tejada keeps you current on all that goes on in their corner of TV Land!

Batwoman tries to stop a zombie apocalypse, the Legends sing to save the earth, the Flash trains a new hero without a montage, Superman and Lois find out how hard it is to raise a half-Kryptonian son, and  and Black Lightning learns what the price of victory is in…

This Week in the Arrowverse! (May 16th-18th)

[Spoilers Ahead]

Batwoman S02E14: “And Justice for All”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from a random carjacker: “You haven’t heard? Gotham’s been taken over by zombies.”

A bad batch of Black Mask’s street drug snakebite turns a bunch of random citizens zombie-like. Although Batwoman would love to stop this apocalyptic scenario, she’s been taken out of the equation: early in the episode, GCPD officers try to shut down her fundraiser due to a “Noise Complaint.” The conflict escalates and ends with Brian and Luke getting arrested. When Sophie tries to talk to the officers herself, she gets arrested as well. The scenes focused on these three are some of the best of the season—each of them talked about their own experience being black and dealing with the racial issues in different ways. Sophie in particular finally gets to explain why she is a Crow security officer with a believable argument. While there’s a lot more to unpack about law enforcement and Batwoman, the scenes between the three of them hit all the right notes.

Meanwhile, Mary helps her stepfather Jacob get through his overdose on normal snakebite. After he gets to his feet, he works in her free clinic and they share some father-daughter bonding over providing people with free healthcare. Mary finally calls her father out for using snakebite to get visions of his young kids when she is literally right here. Hopefully, this helps turn a corner on their very rocky relationship. Elsewhere in Gotham, Alice manages to tie up the hypnotist doctor Rhyme after escaping from Black Masks’ basement. The very bad Doctor informs her that a trigger word will help break the hypnotic hold over Kate Kane. Unfortunately, Alice’s assassin boyfriend Ocean kills the doctor before the word is heard. Although he says it’s to protect Alice from her sister, this moment just comes off as another hurdle in this long and confusing journey to bring Kate Kane back. Let’s hope they stop stalling after the show is back from hiatus.

Before the episode ends, they have to deal with the zombie problem by injecting them with a pseudo-cure via syringe. While Sophie orders a Crows team led by Russell Tavaroff not to use lethal force, he shoots all the zombie-like residents of Gotham. Although Batwoman is unable to save them, she saves the officer who arrested her earlier from the zombies. As she tries to process this over drinks with Luke, Sophie suddenly announces that she’s going to quit the Crows. Before this revelation can be fully processed, Luke tries to stop a carjacking. When Crows arrive and he reaches for his phone, Tavaroff shoots him. This shocking and sobering cliffhanger will be resolved when the show returns in June. Although I’m pretty sure Luke will make a full recovery, this wrongful shooting should definitely change the status quo.

Final Thoughts: Batwoman used an episode about zombies to thoroughly address issues surrounding law enforcement. While some aspects of the plot felt a bit stretched, the social commentary and tragic ending make this one of season two’s standout episodes.

 

Legends of Tomorrow S06E03: “The Ex-Factor”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Nate: “I don’t know what’s more surprising, that an alien killed Zari’s ex on a reality tv show or that network tv still exists in 2045.”

The Legends are called into action when they find out that Zari’s ex-boyfriend DJ S’More Money will be killed by an alien on live TV while he’s judging a reality talent show called “Da Throne.” At the start of the episode, Constantine and Zari establish that they’re having issues fully committing to a relationship with each other. This is further strained when she arrives to save her ex and we’re reminded that she is a mega celebrity in her time. As Constantine tries to deal with his jealousy, we meet the murderous alien Lord Knoxicrillion.

Since the “Da Throne” is based on the premise that DJ S’More Money is a king, the deadly serious Lord Knoxicrillion mistakenly believes he must assassinate the DJ to become the king of the planet. But the Legends are able to convince the alien to compete in the competition instead. The interactions between the quirky Legends and this alien warrior are easily the highlights of the episode. While the Legends prepare for the final (singing) battle, we cut to Sarah and Gary back on the alien planet. While Gary embraces his identity as an alien to eat his enemies, a sick Sarah follows a woman that looks like Ava across the planet. The two allies get separated, and both realize that the planet is full of Ava clones. This reveal brings up a ton of questions that I hope get addressed thoroughly next week. Overall, the plotline is interesting, but could definitely use some clarity.

Back on Earth, Constantine overhears Zari saying that she doesn’t have a real relationship with John. The falling out between the two is quick and brutal. Fortunately, they resolve their differences by singing to save the Earth. Seeing the two of them on stage together performing a song about love made me buy into this relationship for the first time—it helps that their connection literally saved the world from Lord Knoxicrillion by winning the competition. In the show’s final moments, the alien pledges his loyalty to Zari and reveals that his mechanical body is just a suit for a tiny alien. Rory immediately steps on him. It’s a hilarious and fantastic note to end the episode on.

Final Thoughts: While the Sarah and Gary plotline is still finding its feet, the singing competition to save the world serves as a fun main story and helped Constantine and Zari’s relationship feel more real than ever.

 

Black Lightning S04E12: “The Book of Resurrection: Chapter One: Crossroads”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Gambi: “This is my Pandora’s box. I’ve been collecting computer viruses since the 80s to use to take out any modern system.”

Black Lightning opens up its penultimate episode ever by having Jefferson talk to a grieving Jennifer. He takes us back to the very beginning of the series by telling her exactly how Tobias killed his father and reminding her that she can’t save everyone. The amount of gravitas, emotion and creative storytelling that comes out of a simple conversation between a father and daughter is one of the things that is really going to make me miss this show. Throughout the episode, the team decides to divide and conquer to topple Tobias. Anissa and Grace commit some major corporate espionage and blow up a building crucial to Tobias’ plans. Lynn and Lauren find a way to locate the power nullifier, and Jeff devises a desperate gambit to try to take out Tobias.

As they all work on their respective missions, Detective Shakur has a tense conversation with Police Chief Lopez. She wants to give a select amount of officers powers so that they can subdue metas. Although Shakur has been going with her directives for the most part, he calls her out for meta-hatred because her husband got powers and killed her brothers. Not only does actress Melissa De Sousa do a fantastic job at selling her grief, but this plot point comes back in a major way later on. Jennifer subdues Tobias’ right-hand man Red, and brings him to the police station. As Lopez spews her hate towards metas, Lightning reveals she’s live streaming the whole time. The chief goes back into the station to find that people are horrified or laughing at her immense hatred online. This breaks Lopez, and she decides to inject herself with meta powers. Given that she’s had a long and heated rivalry with Lightning, I’m looking forward to seeing them clash in the finale.

Painkiller once again gives us a standout action scene by fighting and triumphing over Tobias’ assassin Ishmael in his closest fight yet. I also appreciate that they took the time for Painkiller/Khalil to look at Freeland and sadly reflect that he can’t go back there yet until his mind is fixed. (It’s also a clever way to keep him away from helping in the finale.) Unfortunately, Jefferson is not so successful with his mission. Tobias beat him to a pulp right where his father died. The villain ends the episode by calling Jennifer and telling her that Black Lightning is dead. Although Jennifer’s reaction is great, I’ve never been too much of a fan of the hero “dying” before the last act when you feel like he’ll return for the final bout. I suspect that the cluster of energy that has been following Jennifer whenever she flies up into the ionosphere will help bring her father back. After all, these last two chapters are called The Book of Resurrection.

Final Thoughts: Black Lightning put every piece into place for the final confrontation. While the big death seems to be greatly exaggerated, the stakes for all the other characters, most notably Chief Lopez, are grounded and emotional enough to get invested and see how the series will come to an end.

 

The Flash S07E10: “Family Matters, Part 1”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Caitlin: “Alexa, technically she did kill you, but your biometrics are stable, so I think you’re okay.”

Barry and Iris’ kids start to get a little bit more complicated during this episode of The Flash. Stillforce user Dion and Speedforce representative Nora form an alliance against their father Flash. While we’re left wondering what they’ll do next, Team Flash tries to stop Psych, a.k.a. Bashir, from targeting his old classmates. Recognizing that speed can’t help defeat Psych’s nightmare powers alone, Barry tries to train Alexa a.k.a. Fuerza to use her Incredible Hulk-like powers. In typical Barry fashion, he tries to rush through the process so that he can immediately throw her out into the field of battle. While the connection between the two is okay, I much prefer her scenes with Caitlin.

Caitlin has tons of experience dealing with an uncontrollable alter ego living inside of her body. She quietly objects to this rushed raining the entire episode until she finally gets a chance to talk to Alexa one-on-one. It’s nice to see everything she’s went through with Frost pay off in a great conversation scene about understanding one’s demons instead of trying to push them aside and pretending they don’t exist. Speaking of pretending that things don’t exist, Cisco grapples with his impending decision to leave the team. I know it’s weird to say on a superhero show, but the scene I most appreciated here was when he had trouble knowing what job he’s supposed to do and expressed anxiety over remaining in the same place for the rest of his life. It’s a relatable struggle and helps make it believable that he doesn’t tell the team sooner about his plans.

Over at the police station, Joe finds out that Kramer has gone behind his back to the governor and ordered guns that can be used to depower meta-humans instantly. Although he tries to make her see reason, she stands firm that this is the only solution against super-powered individuals. Joe decides to quit in protest with a predictably amazing performance from Jesse L. Martin. Now that the department essentially belongs to Kramer, it’ll be interesting to see what she does with it. Hopefully, they’ll be able to make her story distinct enough so this isn’t just a retread of Chief Lopez and her similar arc over on Black Lightning. Somewhere else outside of Central City, Fuerza is able to take control of her powers so that Team flash can have a conversation with Psych. He reluctantly agrees to come on to the team with the good guys, and starts a bickering relationship with Alexa. Barry and Iris barely have time to calm down their kids at home before Nora and Dion show up and attack. At the end of the episode, Nora (and her new goth look), Dion, and Barry are the only ones left standing.

Final Thoughts: The Flash steps on the gas this episode to bring Fuerza onto the superpowered team, position Nora as more of a threat and make it clear that Kramer has some twisted intentions for metahumans. It does well at juggling all these story threads without losing emotional beats like Cisco’s departure.

 

Superman & Lois S01E06: “Broken Trust”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Clark Kent: “Why does a journalist have a ray gun? That makes no sense.”

Superman and Lois returns from its hiatus right where it left off: with Jordan being attacked by his fellow classmate, Tag. After Jordan let off his laser vision at a party, he indirectly caused Tag to develop speed powers. The newly-minted Speedster attacks his classmate to try to get answers. Although Superman flies in to help, Tag is able to speed away. After this incident, Jordan’s powers start to grow right before a big football game with his old school—and by extension his old bullies—in Metropolis. He begs his brother Jonathan to keep this under wraps until after the match is done. Although the brothers have mostly been in synch this entire time, something definitely feels off about this agreement.

While Superman keeps an eye on Jordan, Lois decides to investigate why the shady Morgan Edge is in Smallville mines. Captain Luthor, under the guise of “Marcus,” helps her gain access to the mines. I love the dynamic that this villain is hiding his true identity and married to Lois and another reality. And it’s equally entertaining to see her being so suspicious of Captain Luthor Marcus. For example, when he whips out a ray gun to subdue a super-powered villain, Lois immediately calls him out and will not let this small moment slide. The only reason she doesn’t expose him right on the spot is because something went down in Metropolis.

During the game, Jordan struggles to contain his rage and building power. Right after Jonathan gets some time to shine for once as a successful quarterback, his brother completely loses control when he’s jumped by the opposing team. Just before Jordan lets out his laser vision, Superman takes the full force of his son’s lasers into his hand to keep his identity safe. But Clark’s day is just starting to get worse: His father-in-law, Sam, sends in military with Kryptonite rounds to try to contain the speedster Tag. When soldiers fire at the teen, Superman takes the Kryptonite bullets in the chest and very angrily tells them to stand down. It’s a great performance from Tyler Hoechlin. He sells all the rage and goodness of Superman effectively. Elsewhere, Jordan attempts to use his super strength to punch a bully, but Jonathan breaks his arm to block the punch. This incident drives a rift between the two brothers that may not be overcome so easily.

Final Thoughts: Superman and Lois flies back onto the CW with an episode that dives into the dangers of a growing superhero and the ongoing espionage plan from Captain Luthor. We also get great demonstrations of why you should not get a Kryptonian angry.

Andrew Tejada is an NYC native so there’s a 90 percent chance this was written on the subway. When he’s not writing or consuming movies/tv, he’s pitching his Static Shock screenplay to anyone who’ll listen. More of Andrew’s projects and words can be found on Facebook at “Arete Writes Things.

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