Lurking in the Cold Darkness

Arrowverse 2021 Season: Week 14

It's a pretty standard week here in 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.. No big events or major changes to the line-up, just bog-standard shows doing their thing. With Flash out this week, we've going with the one show we didn't cover last week, Supergirl, alongside the show that did more to move it's plot forward this week, Batwoman.

Supergirl: Season 6

So let's get to the coverage:

Supergirl, Season 6, Episode 4: Lost Souls

For the last couple of weeks Supergirl has been lost in the Phantom Zone. That's not a metaphor, or, at least, not entirely as the main character has literally been in the Phantom Zone. That said, the show has also felt a little lost on its own with its lead heroine stuck on a different plane of existence from the rest of the show's crew. It's weird to think that the character who is basically invulnerable and can fly around and do as she likes is the one person keeping the show grounded in any way, but that's kind of what it's felt like for the last few episode: without Kara around, the show has given in to many of its worst impulses, becoming a very silly, and often hard to care about, show.

This episode still does indulge in that same kind of goofy storytelling at times (I'm getting really tired of Martian Manhunter Mars-splaining the important mission we're about to go on again), it's a better episode in general than we've been seeing lately. One thing it does that really helps is it ends the dumb story about the Phantoms that escaped the Phantom Zone and have been terrorizing National City. Frankly these were not monsters I could care about; the lead monster, Phantom Prime (they really need Cisco on this show to name characters), has absolutely no personality, and everything about this storyline has cranked the goofiness up to 11. That said, the storyline does force the characters to make a hard choice -- stop Prime or save Supergirl -- and while that's an expected story beat for a show like this, the characters play it well and it allows for some strong character dynamics.

On one side of the decision is Alex who, you'd think, would want to get her sister back at any cost but she's the one arguing to stop Prime because, "if we don't, millions of people will die." Meanwhile, Lena (who joins the Justice Tower this week as their new tech guru) is arguing to save Supergirl and find a way to stop Prime after, even if it puts people's lives at risk. Lena does care about the people but she feels like she owes Kara and has to repay that debt as soon as possible. It's good stuff, sold well by the actresses; I stand by my assessment that Katie McGrath's Lena Luthor is one of the best parts of this show and I'm so glad she's been not only a regular on the show buts is now allowed into the hero circle.

Meanwhile, over in the Phantom Zone, Kara has to face the fact that someone she thought she trusted, the 5th dimensional being Nyxly, is actually a bad guy. This twist comes up at the end of the episode, with Nyx reveals her nasty intentions for Earth, forcing Kara to make her own hard choice: go home or stop a powerful being from getting to her home planet. As with Alex (who was doing what she thought he sister would do), Kara makes the choice to save people over saving herself, showing why she's a hero.

I will admit, the Phantom Zone story isn't really thrilling me but I think that has a lot to do with the fact that it doesn't feel like there's any actual tension here. The Phantoms, as noted above, are a nonstarter for me, and the Zone itself looks like cheaps sets made of cardboard and Styrofoam dropped into a studio back-lot. Arrowverse shows re cheap but this whole plot line feels really cheap. Still, if the show can mine these kinds of character dynamics and story beats from the plot line, I'll be much more accepting of it. The Kara plot worked this time around.

Overall this was an improved episode of the show, still not up to the heights we've seen it reach, but not bad all the same. Now with the Phantoms dealt with, and possibly an end to the Phantom Zone story coming up, we might just be able to get the show up and running properly again.

Batwoman: Season 2

Batwoman, Season 2, Episode 11: Arrive Alive

I will admit, this week's episode of Batwoman was pretty ho-hum, but it did have a couple of twists that could spell and interesting direction for the show moving forward. After last week when Angelique was released from prison and then recaptured by Black Mask and his crew (as they need someone that can make the Snake Bite party drug), Ryan and Sophie both wanted to find a way to save the girl they promised they'd protect. This leads them to team up to infiltrate Black Mask's underground street racing crew (who speed around town grabbing drugs and then delivering them elsewhere) so they can find a way to track down Black Mask.

Let's be clear: this storyline really didn't work. On one hand, it's a tedious case-of-the-week that, in the end, doesn't actually resolve any storylines. Yes, they track down Black, Mask, but he still has Angelique held somewhere else, with a gun to her head, so the heroes have to let him go and he escapes. Nothing really changes about the situation in any way, and most of this episode could be excised from the series and it feels like nothing would be lost. That's not a great look for the "A-plot" of an episode.

There's also the fact, though, that the actual storyline is incredibly stupid. Black Mask has to resort to The Fast and the FuriousStarted as a film about undercover policing in the illegal street-racing community, this series has grown to encompass a number of different genres and become one of the most bankable franchises in the world.-style street racing through downtown Gotham to arrange the pickup of his drugs and get them where they need to go. There are so many things wrong with this plot line For one, this is a stupidly flashy way to move product around town and seems more likely to get the criminal gang caught, not less. Additionally, there's literally only two people that know how the drug is made, a fact emphasized in the episode, so that would mean the authorities really don't know what chemicals go into the drug. Black Mask could have trucks drive around with otherwise harmless chemicals all day and get all the supplies he needs for Snake Bite with the authorities being none-the-wiser. What is the point of any of this?

And yet, it's the end of the episode that makes things intriguing. Sophie eventually learned that Kate was Batwoman. Ryan took over the role and, despite the fact there was now a prominent black woman suddenly in Sophie's life, and Batwoman also was now a black woman, Sophie didn't put two-and-two together (a little like Clark fooling everyone with a pair of glasses). But there's enough evidence that Ryan leaves behind this episode (rather carelessly, in fact) that not only does Sophie figure it out, but so does another Crow leading an investigation into Black Mask. Assuming the show doesn't pull a hard reset next episode, this could spell some serious issues for Ryan and Team Bat.

Oh, and then there's the Alice storyline which still feels disconnected and half-baked. This week Alice goes to Dr. Enigma to have the doc wipe away her memories of Alice but, instead, Enigma restores all her memories of Ocean, her past lover (and, as a bonus, she does the same for Ocean as well). This is why I'm talking about with a hard reset -- the show takes the easy way out and just resets things for the sake of narrative convenience. I'm actually okay with Alice getting her memories back and using that as a reason to change, I just wish it had been earned. But hey, maybe this will draw Alice back into the rest of the show and give her a reason to exist now that Kate is dead.

Wait, Kate's not dead but that still hasn't paid off yet in the show either. Jeez, Batwoman, pull your shit together. I think this show but episodes like this try my patience.

Elsewhere in the 'Verse

  • On Black Lightning, we open with Jefferson getting raided by the police because, apparently, he was embezzling from the high school he worked at. The evidence seems air tight, although obviously we know its a frame-job. It just raises the question: how do you embezzle from a high school. Like, seriously. How? Otherwise, nothing really happens and, as is so often the case on this show, everyone treads water until the episode just ends at the 40 minute mark. I really hate this show.
  • Meanwhile, The Flash was out this week and will be for the next as well. Alongside that, Superman & Lois has an announced return date: May 18. That's a Tuesday, so we'll have to see how the CW schedule for all its shows shakes out but I wouldn't be surprised if Supergirl moves to a new day of the week at that point.