It's A Whole New World Going Forward

Arrowverse 2019/2020 Season: Week 12

Now, with Crisis on Infinite Earths in our rear view, it's time to finally look ahead to the rest of the season and see just where the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming. will take us. And what that really means is a whole lot of changes for all our heroes as all the Earths have been merged and a lot of continuity has been reset. Some shows will have bigger changes to deal with than others but no show went completely unscathed.

This week we're checking with the two shows that suffered the biggest changes due to the Crisis to see just how they're handle the brave new status quo they're facing:

Supergirl, Season 5, Episode 10: The Bottle Episode

As we learned at the end of the crossover, Supergirl has a brand new world to deal with. That's more or less literal as her Earth, #38 on the multiverse chart, merged with Earth-1 (also merging in the world of Black Lightning, whatever number that might have been) to create a whole new Earth-Prime. On its face, all the details for each show should have been the same, but for Supergirl, things are very different; that's because Lex Luthor used the Book of Destiny to make changes to her continuity, so now he's a hero, and a saint, and in charge of the DEO. He did make sure to maintain the memories of his sister, Lena, and his mother so they all know how the universe used to be. His goal: to forge an alliance between his family members so he can take on Supergirl (and win this time).

That's not the only startling change going on as apparently a number of refugees from different Earths have all taken up residence in National City, including four different versions of Brainiac-5 (one of them female). What's worse is that someone is targeting the Brainiacs, one by one, killing them off with the "Antilife Equation", some magical mumbo-jumbo that can eradicate life at its source code. Supergirl and her team have to try and figure out who is behind the attacks, but due to the warning of one of the Brainiacs (right before he dies) they know what the end goal is: to find a bottle with an Earth in it (bottling Planets is a very Brainiac thing to do) and release it so their Earth is restored. Which Brainiac is the villain, though, is the mystery.

This episode introduces a few interesting twists that are worth touching upon. For starters I know I've lamented the fact that Lena has been made into a villain because, on her own, it just didn't feel like a good fit for her. She's not Lex (really, with the way Jon Cryer plays Lex, so few others can be him) and the fact that the show was trying to make her into Lex just didn't work. But, pairing her up with her now resuscitated brother is a much stronger dynamic. They don't trust each other and each of them knows they'll betray the other once their goals are met, but there's a strong dynamic between these two characters, a drive between them that could carry the season. Plus, let's be honest. Cryer's Lex was the best villain we've had yet so I'm glad they brought him back.

The Brainiacs are an interesting idea, especially by the end of the episode when the fuel a big change for the Prime Brainy. He takes his emotional suppressors off and reaches his full potential, becoming a proper Brainiac. What this means for the season is anyone's guess -- he's not a villain the way Lex is but this unleash Brainy has the potential to be quite an adversary if he chooses to be one. The question really is if the show uses him well as it progresses.

Really, this episode is almost like a second premiere for the season as it reintroduces everything and sets up the new dynamics to drive the back half of the show. The weaknesses of the first eight episodes are gone here and this show, once again, feels revitalized and strong. Here's hoping it can carry this energy through the rest of the season because, seriously, the first eight episodes sucked.

Arrow, Season 8, Episode 9: Green Arrow & the Canaries

Of course, no show this week saw a bigger status quo shake up than Arrow, although that's thanks as much to the crossover as to the fact that the show is ending and the production team is working to launch a spin-off. Over the course of the season we've seen the future-set Mia and William deal with new threats in the future before they were sucked back to the present to aid in the events leading up to the crisis. The merging of the worlds and rebooting of some of the continuity, though, created an entire new future, one where Mia is a happy college student, dating a nice boy, and all the darkness of the future we saw is completely wiped away.

Not that a happy hero can last long on this show (in any form). Thus, when Laurel / Black Siren enters the scene she pretty quickly finds a way restore Mia's memories of the old timeline, all so she can get the hero she needs back in fighting shape. While the series is set in Star City 2040, 2041 sees the whole city plunge into chaos all over the death of a teen starlet. The job of the heroes -- Laurel / Black Siren, Dinah / Black Canary, and Mia / Green Arrow -- is to save the girl and prevent that particular bad year from happening.

In construction this episode of Arrow feels like a few other future-set episodes I've seen from sci-fi shows -- Dollhouse and it's "Epitaph I" comes to mind, as does Fringe with "Letters of Transit", both of which promised future storylines to play out in their next seasons. The setup is similar here, except for the fact that the future set season is a new series spun from the old one, but the intent is the same: take an episode of the show to present a new timeline with a divergent story before bouncing back to the main story already in action to wrap up what's going on in the present.

There's no denying I was bored by the future set plot line this season. While it worked last season as a lark, a way to show some future events that may or may not happen depending on what happened in the main season of the show (spoiler: that timeline didn't really happen, obviously), the longer the show dragged it out past its initial season the less interesting the future seemed. A lot of that was due to the fact that Team Arrow II was comprised of a bunch of young adults we had no connection to, characters thrust upon us due to their familiar connection to characters we actually knew but who were still blank voids in our minds. If some of the original characters had stuck around longer to help sand the edges off these new characters I might have been more invested, but especially with this season the future sections lacked anything for me to care about.

Now, though, the show is tying characters we've become invested in over time into the future events once more, giving us real stakes and real issues that matter. Mia even seems more interesting when paired up with Black Siren and Black Canary, which is a huge step for her character. This episode still has many of the failings of Arrow -- doofy action, silly character decisions, and a lack of explaining anything clearly -- but in comparison to most of what we've seen for two seasons now, this episode was a marked improvement. it remains to be seen if the show has the legs to be interesting past this back door pilot, but this first episode of the show to come was much better than I was expecting.

Elsewhere in the 'Verse

  • Batwoman battled Alice once again this week while the fall out of Kate's step-mother's death continues to reverberate through the show. Her father is in prison, her step-sister hates Kate for defending Alice in the past, and even Kate is starting to think she failed everyone. The real bombshell, though, came at the end of the episode, after the police captured Alice and put her in lock-up. After that, Kate returned to her office only to find Alice, dressed like she used to when she was Beth. Apparently the Crisis has given us two Beths now, the normal one from another timeline and the crazy Alice version. Interesting indeed.
  • Black Lightning returned back home to talk about the crossover, the merging of worlds, and how cool it is that there's an actual Superman. The episode started pretty rough as the characters had to talk about the multiverse and introduce that whole concept to a show that, up until now, hasn't really existed in the large Arrowverse. Oh, and the bad military guys are still bad and Lynn is a Greenlight junkie now. The episode was fine but not very memorable.
  • The Legends of Tomorrow came back and did their doofy Legends thing, this time by allowing a documentary crew to follow them around while the Legends went back to 1917 Russia to stop a mysteriously resurrected Rasputin. It was exactly as silly and goofy as you expect from this show, a fine return to form for the series as it returns for a new season.
  • And over on The Flash there was... nothing as that show doesn't come back until the 4th of February.