Arrowverse Recap: This DC Universe Shines with a Strong Week of Stories

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 have some extremely close alien encounters, the new Batwoman races to save the previous one, The Flash helps Cecile confront a dark truth, and Superman and Lois get a visit from dangerous family members on…

This Week in the Arrowverse!

[Spoilers Ahead]

Batwoman S02E16: “Rebirth”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Luke Fox: “Sometimes the house cheats, and it still loses.”

Although Batwoman had… a lot of plot lines going on this week, each of the stories were building up to one goal: either saving or hurting Kate Kane. Her dad Jacob and sister Alice kick the episode off by kidnapping Kate. Since she still believes she’s Black Mask’s daughter Circe, the two of them have to work together to jog her memory. Alice showed some surprising vulnerability this week while not losing the sinister aspects of a character. While I still don’t love the recent news that she’s evil because Dr. Ryan hypnotized her, this late game twist pays off later. A bunch of Black Mask’s goons eventually capture Jacob and Alice while Kate gets away. Black Mask immediately exposes Alice as Beth Kane while simultaneously sending Jacob to jail. As Jacob is locked up, he urges Gotham to see Alice as a tragic figure and not as the monster she became.

While most of the team is working to save Kate, Luke Fox is struggling to find normalcy again. Actor Camrus Johnson was allowed to do some effective character work and acting as Luke tries to find a motivation to keep going. He decides the best way to get over being shot by Tavaroff is to confront the officer in a police bar. While he’s there, he gets some unexpected backup from Arrow’s John Diggle. The two men instantly form a strong bond of respect and mentorship. After Tavaroff tries to attack Luke in the alley, John delivers one incredibly strong punch to save the day. In one of the show’s best scenes this season, the two men sit and talk about their internal struggles and the notion of heroism. It really felt like the passing of the torch moment from one veteran hero to the Future Batwing. Luke emerges from the conversation as a new character that I’m interested in seeing more of.

Although Ryan doesn’t take the most focus this week, she has an important role in the Kate Kane storyline. The new Batwoman finds the old one and reunites Kate with her family. They quickly realize they need the kidnapped Alice to bring Kate’s psyche back. Batwoman decides to trade her magical-heal-everything flower for Alice’s life. Meanwhile, Sophie completely drops the ball and leaves Kate alone. This leads Kate to escape and confront Black Mask about what the hell is going on. While she’s chatting with her not-dad, Alice goes to check up on her not-boyfriend Ocean. Unfortunately, one of her old bosses’ assassins has taken him down. Although I never really got invested in their love story to begin with, his end was still sad. The episode leaves us wondering: What will become of Alice and Kate in light of their recent tragedies?

Final Thoughts: Batwoman managed to cover a lot of ground without losing too much focus on its characters.  Kate and Luke’s stories in particular helped make the episode one of the season’s strongest entries.

 

Legends of Tomorrow S06E06: “Bishop’s Gambit”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from the Legends ensemble: “Is bringing a rampaging alien back to John’s house something we should run by him?” “Nope.”

The Legends take a small step closer to reuniting while Sara’s storyline takes one giant leap forward. The connecting factor between the two plot lines is the alien Amelia Earhart. After the aviator steals the time ship from Rory in outer space, the Legends interrogate her to see if she can lead them to Sara. Eventually, they’re left with no choice but to use a magical spell to read her memories. Since Constantine is still out of commission, Astra has to take the lead. I love the idea that Constantine refuses to tell anyone that his magic is gone for the time being. It made the moments where Astra’s spell went haywire more tense. Through this mind exploration, the Legends accidentally turn Amelia Earhart into a full alien. After Spooner communicates with their new extraterrestrial friend, they get the news that Sarah is probably dead.

Over on Sara’s distant planet, Rory, Gary, and the squid-like alien Kayla do their best to stay alive without a ship. Their job gets harder when Bishop enacts a sinister plan to kill them all by turning off the oxygen bubble that surrounds them while he stays safe inside. His plan is particularly evil because it’s putting the lives of tons of his clones at risk. This is definitely a step in the right direction towards making Bishop an effective villain. Gary is able to get back inside and start motivating the clones to take agency for themselves. Judging by their reactions to him, he’ll have a lot more success than Sara did last week. Rory and Kayla end up finding safety from a horde of aliens inside of a tight space. They decide the best way to pass the time is to… get very intimate. Given the sexual tension between them, seeing them hookup was really just a matter of time. And it’s appropriate that Rory, who got famous for writing erotic sci-fi, ends up with an alien.

The biggest plot point is reserved for the captain of the Legends. As we suspected last week, Bishop is able to make virtually infinite clones of himself—so killing him doesn’t really help. Sara desperately tries to escape Bishop by playing nice. As soon as he lets his guard down, Sara breaks a few of his bones and drags him around the facility, and they eventually arrive at a lab where the Bishop clones are made. While Sara’s poking around, she makes a shocking discovery: She’s a clone too. It turns out that the alien venom that Amelia Earhart hit her with actually killed her. Despite this being the ninth or tenth time Sarah has died in this universe, her sudden death twist was a really effective reveal.  Hopefully her fiancée, who is also a clone, can help Sara get through this.

Final Thoughts: By making the Legends (Except for Rory) face harsh consequences for their actions, the show gave the running “Save Sara” plotline some much-needed weight.

 

The Flash S07E13: “Masquerade”

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Joe: ““I know how hard it is in our community to get help.”

Team Flash is completely unaware that Cecile’s mind has been taken over by a malicious force contained within a mask. As the evil force grows stronger, Chester struggles to step into Cisco’s shoes. I was initially worried that both plotlines would be carbon copies of what came before; we saw Chester struggle to save Barry when Cisco was away before and we already had an arc where members of the team were secretly replaced with evil mirror clones. But the episode surprisingly manages to make both of these old storylines work together. Evil Cecile convinces the team to get a mask from a museum that will secretly enhance her powers. And because Star Labs has absolutely no security (Team Flash really needs to invest in some motion sensors at the very least), she’s able to further enhance her powers by stealing tech from the team. Chester spends a bulk of the episode feeling sorry for himself because he signed off on the Cecile mission in the first place.

I wanted to jump into the episode for a second and say to Chester “Look, Team Flash falls for a scheme like this every other week. You’re good.” But luckily the episode did it for me by having the team brush off the incident and invite him to celebrate. Although Chester has never been my favorite, this episode went a long way to making him more endearing. His plotline also opened the door for Sue Dearbon to return. When Hartley Sawyer was first fired from the role of Ralph Dibny, I was worried that they were going to kick Sue off the show ,too. But I’m happy to see that the show had Chester bring in the wisecracking thief to stand on her own outside of her relationship with Ralph and become a cast regular. Not only is she a fun person to have around, but she has no metahuman abilities. I like the idea of a Team Flash that has one or two powered people at most—it helps increase the tension whenever Barry gets in trouble fighting a super villain.

They did a great job sidelining him this week by having evil Cecile trap him in a mind prison with the real Cecile. Since he doesn’t have his powers, he has to help his mother-in-law escape. The good Cecile reveals that she had a severe mental breakdown after her mom passed away and ended up in a mental institution. She buried this fact because she was scared that she might have another breakdown. Cecile’s scenes are packed with emotion and great dialogue. The show even takes a moment to highlight how difficult it can be for people of color to deal with mental health issues. Cecile’s struggle to come to grips with her past is a compelling plot. And although she overcomes the villain, the episode makes it clear that she still needs love and support. It’s a great reminder for Team Flash and for anyone watching at home.

Final Thoughts: The Flash showed just how effective it can be in a contained episode where they slowed down and let the (mostly) non-powered people shine.

 

Superman & Lois S01E10: O Mother, Where Art Thou?

Out-of-Context Quote of the Week is from Lana and Superman: “My hearts racing a million miles per hour.” “Yeah. I know.”

Superman & Lois wasted absolutely no time following up on the twist that Morgan Edge is Kryptonian: They also added another layer of drama by having the villain reveal that he’s Superman’s half-brother Tal-Rho. Throughout the episode, we get some effective flashbacks to learn why this Kryptonian is so evil. When Tal-Rho arrived to Earth, he was immediately shot at by some bystanders. He violently lashed out before being captured and forced away from the Sun for years. After Tal-Rho made a violent escape, he decided to get revenge against humanity by bringing back as many Kryptonians as possible and implanting them inside human bodies with the Eradicator machine. The villain’s backstory feels like a great mix of the best parts of Brightburn and Man of Steel. My only issue with his backstory is that it was all dumped onto us in one episode. I wish we would have had a little bit more time to flesh out the villain’s true nature.

Tal-Rho also reveals that Superman’s Kryptonian mother, Lara Lor-Van, can be brought back. She’s the one who invented the Eradicator machine in the first place. In order to save the possessed humans, Lana volunteers to let Lara borrow her body. This leads to a series of emotional scenes where Kal-El gets to talk to his biological mom for the first time. The main reason Lara works so well is because the show started off with Superman grieving his mom Martha. Nine episodes later after burying her, he gets to bring a maternal figure back. Although I was scared Lara would turn out to be secretly evil, the show goes the complete opposite direction and makes her an incredibly kind woman who is just happy that her son is loved.

While Lois and the twins get a few solid scenes, the episode’s climax fully focuses on the Man of Steel. Laura finds a way to reverse Tal-Rho’s body snatching plot, but Superman can only pull it off by using up all his power at once. Before he executes his plan, we get an absurdly gorgeous shot of him talking to his brother as the sun sets. There’s a sense of real loss as Superman decides to side with humanity against a brother who can never understand why an alien would protect the human race. An enraged Tal-Rho sends every Kryptonian he created after Kal-El at once. Superman leads them on a thrilling chase before expending all his power to use the Eradicator and save the humans. As a weakened Superman crawls to the fortress of solitude, a fully powered Tal-Rho prepares the next phase of his plan.

Final Thoughts: Although Superman & Lois rushed Tal-Rho’s Origins, the villain’s backstory was still well written and impactful. And while I initially came to the series to see Superman punch through a building, I’m staying because of the show takes time to show Superman talking to his long lost mom.

Andrew Tejada is an NYC native so there’s a 90 percent chance this was written on the subway. When he’s not consuming movies/tv, he’s pitching his Static Shock screenplay to anyone who’ll listen. Andrew can also be found talking about DC Animated movies weekly wherever you listen to things @ Yet Another DC Animated Podcast.

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