Forward to the Past

Arrowverse 2018/2019 Season: Week 9

You know a couple of shows we haven't discussed in a while? The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Thankfully, this week had a couple of really good episodes from those shows, so let's take a little time a focus on these shows this week.

Besides, I've talked enough about Titans and Black Lightning, right? Yeah, I thought so.

Legends of Tomorrow, Season 4, Episode 7: Hell No, Dolly!

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, the most recent season of Legends of Tomorrow has not been my favorite. The switch from dealing with time crimes to magic crimes has not been that smooth, and much as I like the cast and the work they do, the stories just haven't been there. Now, I'm not going to argue that the nominal A-plot of this episode is any different, but it's some of the stories going on around the main plot of this episode that helped to elevate it and make it something special.

So yeah, the main stories of this episode deals with a homicidal spirit that is killing blond women in 1800s New Orleans. The spirit, it should be noted, has possessed a doll, making for a multitude of Chucky references, which I certainly didn't mind. While the concept was enjoyable enough, the doll itself wasn't especially scary or effective as a villain, so while the cast was game, this plot line just didn't come off anywhere near as creepy as I think the production staff thought it would. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great.

Better, though, was the B-plot (which, to be frank, got enough focus it really could have been considered the A-plot). Here we spend some time with Constantine, fleshing out his character, It seems that right before joining up with the show he met a man and fell in love. Sadly, as we learn over the course of the show, not only did his lover (who he cared deeply for) die, and not only was he sent to Hell, but Constantine had to be the one to do it, and he blames himself for it. So he tries to change the past, over and over, until finally he makes the change occur, ensuring that past-Constantine and his lover never stay together, thereby changing Constantine's reason for leaving New Orleans (as in, he doesn't have one), causing him to not join the Legends, and on and on.

Suffice it to say this leads to a time paradox and, as we see in the last moments of the season, time freezes. It's hard to say if everything is going to stay frozen, or if time is going to shatter, or who knows what. This show plays truly fast and loose with even its own rules of time continuity, so who knows what the consequences of all this will be. All we know is that there are only two people right now that can solve this problem: shape-shifting Charlie, and air-magic-controlling Zari, and the later person is, for some reason, now a little kitten. It makes no sense (although somehow I'm sure the show will explain it), but I love the fact that the show committed to blowing everything up right before the mid-season finale. Well done.

Oh, and there was a plot line with the new girl at the Time Bureau and her love for the Hawaiian monster she was guarding. I honestly still hate her so I mostly ignores this plot line It was fine or whatever.

But yes, time is completely screwed. What a place for it to be right before the Legends' adventure that runs concurrently to Elseworlds. I dig it.

The Flash, Season 5, Episode 8: What's Past Is Prologue

So I'll note that for all my bitching about the general terrible quality of season four of The Flash, this season has steadily become quite improved. The show is finding a way to be lighter, funnier, and more enjoyable all around. At this point is has earned to right to take a bit of a victory lap, and that's what the show did for "What's Past is Prologue", the 100th episode of the series. Like, a literal victory lap.

While the team if having a meeting about how to deal with season bad guy, Cicada, Nora suggests creating a kind of Dark Matter magnet that could grab a hold of Cicada's dagger (the Dark Matter device he uses that's temporarily steals away meta-abilities). After a bit of discussion about how it could be done, the team figures out a way to grab devices they've used in the past (a Dark Matter injector from the Zoom era, parts of Savatar's armor, and absolutely nothing from the Thinker because his season sucked) so they can build the necessary magnet and take control of the fight with Cicada. Ad to do all this, Barry/Flash and Nora/XS have to travel back in time to each of these eras and steal the devices needed.

This allows the show to relive key moments in the history of The Flash. This whole part of the episode worked much better than I expected, as usually revisiting previous time periods on any show feels rather masturbatory. "Oh look at us, we can go back and relive key events over and over. Isn't this fun?!" Here, though, with an actual purpose to the time travel, and with the show keeping the time jumps very short, a few scenes at each stop, the episode is able to sidestep a lot of these kinds of complaints. While the story is fairly serious, the episode is light and adept, finding a level of fun in the antics.

The one part I don't like is the implication at the end of the episode that Nora is somehow working with Reverse Flash from the future (in his Harrison Wells face). One, it annoys me because so many times on this show the characters keep secrets from each other, and this is just one more secret someone on Team Flash is keeping. We get it, none of you know how to tell the truth. Can you please all get over yourselves already. Also, though, I question why Reverse Flash would have Harrison Wells's face since he doesn't get that until he comes into the "present" of first season and then he stays in that time period. I get that probably the other actor didn't want to come back for the role, but this is a detail that doesn't make much sense when you think about it.

For the most part, though, I found this episode enjoyable. And hell, who knows? Maybe the show can make the Nora/Reverse Flash team-up work somehow. I have enough invested in the season at this point I'm willing to ride it out.

Elsewhere in the 'Verse:
  • Kicking off the week on Titans, we're introduced to Donna Troy/Wonder Girl. An old friend of Dick Grayson's from his early days ass Robin, the two have a very tight bond, but like siblings. After ditching the Robin persona last week, Dick heads over to Donna's neck of the woods to clear his head and figure out his path. She's all too happy to help him as she, too, skipped out being a sidekick to find a different line of work (investigative photo-journalism). But while he's there, Donna sees some photos on his phone that he took helping out Starfire, and she realizes that Starfire is actually on Earth to kill Raven, not help the poor girl. And that's where the episode ends.
  • I will say, Donna is a fun character on the show, and I really hope she sticks around (which is possible since Donna was part of the Titans comics back in the day). If nothing else, this was a strong place to end the episode and maybe, just maybe, we'll be talking about the next episode next week. Or the week after, as the upcoming episode is Hawk and Dove focused, plus the rest of the 'verse is going to be dealing with Elseworlds, so who knows when we're getting back to the main adventures of the Titans. Soon, I hope.
  • Following that, Supergirl featured Manchester Black hunting down Agent Liberty. This forced a big confrontation between Supergirl, Manchester, and the Agent, with Supergirl being the physical victor. However, most of the people on Earth, apparently, side with Agent Liberty for some reason, so while our hero won the battle, she seems to be losing the PR war. And, to be honest, I'm already tired of this plot line Supergirl has been mired in this for a while and while it was interesting at the start to see the Girl of Steel fight a different kind of villain, one that can't just be punched into submission, this how season has been very serious and not at all fun. I hope the show can find a way to lighten up sooner or later.
  • Over on Arrow, someone is framing the new Green Arrow for murders, and the city turns against the new vigilante. So in steps Oliver Queen, sanctioned by the SCPD, to act as a legal, authorized Green Arrow. He goes on the hunt, finds the real bad guys, and helps the police bring them to justice. See, this is what I was saying the show should have done all along -- don't send him to prison but have the authorities sanction his work. His release from prison is still dumb, but I like how this was all arranged and feels much more natural. Plus, we get to see Oliver go out as the Green Arrow sans his mask and it was a moment I enjoyed probably a whole lot more than I should have.
  • Less enjoyable, and honestly kind of dumb, as that the other Green Arrow, the new one, is apparently Oliver's secret half-sister (who he doesn't even know about). Oliver's father seems to have had his own bastard daughter and she took up the mantle and went on the hunt after Oliver was sent to prison. It's dumb and silly and doesn't really make sense, but when you consider that Arrow is essentially a superhero soap opera at this point (prisons stints and secret sibling, et al), this kind of development starts to seem perfectly reasonable. Dumb, but reasonable.
  • Finally, Black Lightning followed up last week's great episode by... well, not really doing much of anything. Jennifer and Kahlil start the episode on the run from bother her family and Tobias Whale and then end the episode both on the run from her family and Tobias Whale. There's a lot of posturing in the middle, and a couple of brawls, but we end up right back where we started by the end of the episode. Damn it, Black Lightning, you were doing so well.
  • Next week, Supergirl, Arrow, and The Flash with be having their big crossover, Elseworlds. If you didn't know this before this week, you should now as all three episodes ended with the same tag-scene. Set on Earth-90, we see most of the Justice League (or Society, either or) dead, and only that Earth's Flash (who, if rumors are right, is the Flash from the 1990s television series, a nice touch) is left alive to deal with, I think, the Monitor. It looks like we're going to be getting some kind of reality crash, maybe a la Crisis on Infinite Earths. We will, of course, be talking about all of this in the next article, so we'll see you then.