Arrowverse Recap: Superheroes Shatter the Status Quo

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!

The Legends try to prevent nuclear annihilation, the Flash races to a family feud between the Forces, we hear some shocking truths on Superman & Lois, and Black Lightning strikes one last time in…

This Week in the Arrowverse! (May 23rd-25th)

[Spoilers Ahead]

Legends of Tomorrow S06E04: “Bay of Squids”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Spooner and Zari: “I thought this was a time machine, why don’t we go back an hour earlier so you can change your pjs?” “We don’t ask those questions.”

The Legends discover that the alien who captured Sarah is being held hostage in Cuba during the 1960s. During the team’s first attempt to save the Extra-Terrestrial, they accidentally steal a nuclear warhead, heat up the Cuban Missile Crisis, and put the world on the brink of nuclear war. So, it’s pretty much an average day for them. The crisis splits the team into three separate plot lines. Hotheaded Rory and alien hunter Spooner are paired together to return to nuke and find the titular alien; I was pleasantly surprised that these two gruff loners work so well together. While they’re not afraid to call each other out on their flaws, they’re also ready to cover each other’s backs and battle. I’m looking forward to more of this team- up.

While those two get to know each other, Behrad and Ava infiltrate a military base to retrieve the alien. Right before doctors vivisect the creature, Ava (and her over-the-top Russian accent) set off a laughing gas distraction and wheel the alien away. Meanwhile, Behrad’s choice of hat gets him mistaken for Che Guevara. After he decides to roll with it and says his name is Jay, he’s taken to Fidel Castro himself. This leads to a series of increasingly ridiculous scenes where they enjoy some… recreational gummies with said historical figure. Although it looks for a second like Behrad is going to be able to convince Castro to chill out, the alien they’re after tries to eat the Cuban leader. This prompts Castro to launch the nuke he accidentally got from the Legends straight at Washington D.C.

Luckily, the team has Nate and Zari to keep things cool over in the US. Nate finally gets to use his history expertise (the real reason he was brought on the team in the first place) to successfully navigate the mission. And it’s absolutely adorable to watch him geek out over hanging out with historical figures. After Nate endears himself to JFK, a missile happy General tries to use the nuke. This leads to Nate, Zari, and a bunch of government officials playing keep-away  with a nuclear football. I have no commentary, it’s just great.

After Nate and Zari helped avert a nuclear war, they finally address a major elephant in the room. Although “Social Media Influencer” Zari is an alternate version of the Zari Nate fell in love with, she still looks virtually the same. Though his old emotions suddenly resurface, he finally comes to accept that this Zari is a new person. It’s a nice arc and a good episode showing for him overall. He and Zari return to find that Rory has made an alliance with the alien. While Rory travels to space to find Sara, the Legends go to hang out at Constantine’s house.

Final Thoughts: The Legends kept us entertained throughout an episode about a tense nuclear crisis with great team-ups, ridiculous scenarios, and solid character arcs. Hopefully, they can keep these good vibes going as a search for Captain Sara continues.

 

The Flash S07E11: “Family Matters, Part 2”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Bashir: “How about thank you, Bashir, it was baller how you saved us from that killer.”

Although it appeared that Nora (aka the Speed Force) killed Iris, Bashir (Sage Force), and Alexa (Strength Force) last week, it is revealed that Bashir created an illusion at the last second to make it appear like they were all dead. This was a nice twist and clever extension of his growing powers. In order to keep Bashir, Alexa, and Iris safe, Barry decides to drop them off in what remains of the speed force while he confronts Nora and tries to find his last force child, Deon (Still Force). When Barry meets Nora, she delivers a pretty solid and well-acted monologue about her fear of dying if the other forces continue to live. It was nice to see her reaffirm the stakes before the inevitable final clash. But after this strong and relatively straightforward opening, the episode starts taking some strange twists and turns to get to the finish line.

A massive storm begins to devastate Central City. Although it initially looks like Nora is responsible, it’s revealed that the other three forces are responsible for creating this destructive event. So for a moment, it looks like she is entirely justified in her crusade to kill the other forces. While the show seems to be setting up that one or more of the forces may have to die, the storyline swiftly takes a hard left turn. When all the forces fight each other, Nora reveals to her siblings that her true fear is being left alone. This immediately bonds the siblings together and they decide to work as a team. They’re able to lend a bit of each of their force powers to Barry to let him move fast enough to stop the storm. Since Nora was the one who suggested giving Barry all their powers, I have no idea why she didn’t suggest this any earlier. But whether she was aware of this being a solution or not, it still felt like an anti-climatic solution to this long-running force conflict.

There are a few more bizarre footnotes to round out this episode. First of all, the storm leads to a prison break at Iron Heights. Killer Frost and her evil love interest Mark end up fighting/flirting in an abandoned warehouse. After she successfully defeats him, she’s suddenly let out of her life sentence in prison and given probation. While we all knew she would get out of prison eventually, letting her escape so quickly cheapens the stakes of her police woes and subsequent trial. A second weird footnote is that all the forces decide to live together in the remnants of the speed force. Although I love Flash’s themes of family and redemption, it is a little hard for to swallow that all of them would willingly live together for an indefinite amount of time so quickly after they just got done fighting.

And last, but certainly not least, the episode ends with an extremely awkward flirting sequence between Barry and Iris. At the end of the scene, Iris gives Barry a (knowing?) look. The episode ends with them racing to the bedroom to conceive a child. I definitely get that it makes thematic sense that the storyline ends with them trying to have a biological child after dealing with their “force children.” But it’s a really weird button to end the plotline on.

Final Thoughts: Flash brought the “Forces” storyline to an end with an increasingly bizarre series of twists and turns. In their race to wrap the storyline up, it felt like the show got a little lost a lot of weird story beats.

 

Superman & Lois S01E07: “Man of Steel”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Lois: “Yeah that’s a hard pass on me entering your creeper-mobile.”

This week’s episode of Superman & Lois kicks off by showing how much trouble Jordan is having with his new super hearing abilities. The show does a stellar job at showing how painful it would be to be able to hear as well as Superman. He spends most of the episode just trying to get a hang of the power so that he can live a normal life in a noisy world. Jordan finally learns that by focusing on loved ones, he’s able to exercise control over his hearing. This discovery comes back during the climax of the episode.

Lois and Clark try to follow up on the stranger (aka Marcus, aka Captain Luthor). Both sides play a fun cat and mouse game where they try to work together without giving away too many of their secrets. Eventually, they broker a deal where Lois gets to examine a case of ex-kryptonite that Marcus picked up if he gets to meet Superman. As they agree to the deal, we’re treated to an absolutely devastating flashback. In a different world, Marcus and Lois were living as a happily married couple with their daughter… until Superman and a bunch of super-powered people attacked. While Lois was reporting on live TV one day, the evil Superman killed her in front of the world. Marcus held his grieving daughter before beginning to plot his revenge. As he works on an exo suit with his daughter, he ties her hair back. This little gesture of fatherly love was a fantastic emotional beat that also comes back in a major way.

When Superman and Marcus finally meet, Lois makes the stunning revelation that Marcus is actually an alternate universe version of John Henry Irons. In some universes, Superman inspired Irons to pick up a hammer and fight crime as the superhero Steel. On Superman & Lois, we get a scene where John describes how he designed his hammer to be strong enough to kill a Kryptonian. The bombshell reveal around Irons is an exciting and fantastic twist on the mythos that also takes advantage of the Multiverse concept of the Arrowverse. While I was still reeling from this twist, Jordan uses his super hearing to find his dad at the mercy of Irons. Jonathan gets to shine by hitting Irons with a car and using the hammer the free Superman from a trap. The episode ends with Irons in jail holding his daughter’s hair tie and remembering a promise he made: He would return to her after he killed Superman.

Final Thoughts: Superman & Lois has once again proved itself as one of the best offerings on the CW by employing clever twists, turning subtle and emotional plot details into major story beats, and completely reinventing a classic hero so that he’s now an incredibly threatening villain. The show has me on the edge of my seat and eager to see where they’re going to go next.

 

Black Lightning S04E13: The Book of Resurrection: Chapter Two: Closure”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Detective Shakur and an employee: “Gear up.” “I”m a data specialist.” (Detective Shakur ignores the data specialist.) “Grab your gear, grab your gun. Follow me.”

The final episode of Black Lightning picks up shortly after where we left off: with Jefferson Pierce being declared dead. His family and allies spend a little time grieving before they decide to get revenge against Tobias for killing Jefferson. Gambi, Anissa, and Grace set on a mission to destroy the emitter blocking their powers. Jennifer and TC team up to lend a hand as well. Unfortunately, Lynn has to slip into a support role for this finale while her allies fight. In between the various missions, we find out that Jefferson survived Tobias’s attack, but is slowly dying after being buried alive in a coffin. These scenes give Cress Williams a few last opportunities to shine while stuck underground and appearing in dream sequences. The highlight of these scenes comes when Jefferson is having a conversation with his deceased father. At any given moment of the scene, Jefferson goes from an adult to a child as the dialogue remains uninterrupted. It was a great artistic choice that helped to really sell the emotional conversations between father and son.

Gambi, Grace, and Anissa successfully manage to get inside the compound by showing absolutely no mercy to the security team guarding the emitter. After finally destroying the advice, we get a hugely satisfying scene where Anissa and Grace are able to use their powers again to stop their enemies. Elsewhere in Freeland, Jennifer and TC are confronted by… Jennifer. When China McClain stepped away from the show early on in the season, Laura Kariuki stepped into the role. In-universe, it was explained that after lightning accidentally exploded in the ionosphere, her appearance changed. But in the finale, they reveal that the original Jennifer had her body hijacked by a spirit of some sort and was living as a clump of particles in the ionsphere this entire time. If this was their intention, I wish they had done more to hint that the new Jennifer wasn’t her old self. Because while I was more than happy to see China McClain return to the role and reclaim her body, it still feels as if this twist came relatively out of nowhere.

After she gets her body back, she has a final confrontation with Chief Lopez. Their much-anticipated battle happens a little quicker than I would’ve like so that the show can rush over to Black Lightning’s final battle with Tobias. In the heat of their dramatic bout, Jefferson accidentally frees Lala from the cement prison he’s been stuck in. Although Tobias tries to put up a good fight, Black Lightning sends the villain flying out of a window only to land on a sharp spike. Tobias dies trying to kill Jefferson one last time. While the end was a little abrupt, it was still one of the most satisfying villain deaths in recent memory.

When the battle is over, the heroes gather. Jennifer delivers a surprisingly effective monologue about how sad she was that her family and friends didn’t know someone had taken over her body.  As she sits with her allies, Black Lightning and Gambi formally announce their retirement from protecting Freeland and they toast. The show ends with Lala looking at Tobias’ body and standing in his penthouse. This seems to signify that he will step up to become Freeland’s newest threat.

Final Thoughts: I wish this finale and show had gotten more time. Although the story covered everything it needed to, the episode would have hugely benefited from a longer run time so we could slow down and feel each beat. It’s also worth considering that up until very recently, the CW was going to move ahead with a Painkiller series. That show may have followed up on some of the open-ended plotlines the finale left us with. The Black Lightning series finale feels like less of an ending and more like the beginning of something new. The show is definitely over. But with confirmation that Black Lightning is in talks to appear in The Flash next season, it may not be long before Jefferson and his allies come back.

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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