Saturday, May 28, 2016

Why Do They Call Them Comics: Snuffy Smith

The American Educational System at work, ladies and gentlemen!

Only in America could a school give a student a failing grade four hundred times and still remain open for business, as the unconcerned teaching staff actually chuckles at the students' lack of learning skills.

As is the norm when it comes to Snuffy Smith (or "Smif," as the other characters call him), there's nothing particularly amusing about this strip. I included it because of the way it's laid out. 

Note the way the text in the first and last word balloons don't fill up the available space there's room for another whole line.

That's a sure sign you're looking at a recycled strip. There's no doubt in my mind that this particular comic has appeared in the newspaper at least once before. Current artist/writer John Rose simply took an old strip, removed the text, wrote some new lines and BAM! Instant "new" strip! Who cares if the new dialogue doesn't fill up the old word balloons? He had a deadline to meet!

Oh, merciful Jesus! When Loweezy seductively told Snuffy they had the house all to themselves, for a horrifying moment I thought we were going to forced to witness these two grotesque, pasty hillbilly homonculi writhing around the floor in carnal ecstasy. 

Our nation dodged a bullet tonight, ladies and gentlemen.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Flash Season 2, Episode 23: The Race Of His Life

It's the season finale of The Flash!

This week we bid adieu to Zoom once and for all (I hope), we find out the true identity of a mystery character, and the legacy of a Golden Age speedster is finally restored.

On it was a very uneven season. This is due in no small part to a lack of focus on the core characters and their storylines. The series got sidetracked introducing a new half of Firestorm (after actor Robbie Amell's untimely departure to pursue a movie career), and it spent a ridiculously inordinate amount of time setting up The CW's new Arrowverse series, Legends Of Tomorrow. By the time all those obligations were fulfilled, the series' momentum was gone, and it never quite recovered.

It didn't help that this season's overall storyarc was a carbon copy of last years an older mentor to Barry turns out to be an evil speedster who wants to steal his speed, kill him, or both. Some free advice to the writers no more evil speedster storylines for a while, eh guys?

This season's big bad, Zoom, was problematical as well. Has there ever been a character with so much potential who turned out to be such a disappointment? Visually he was amazing, what with his soulless black eyes and his unsettling, torn membrane of a mouth. Add in actor Tony Todd's otherworldly, intimidating growl and you had one terrifying figure.

But like most characters shrouded in mystery, the more we learned about Zoom, the less menacing he became. Especially when revealed his true identity and we saw actor Teddy Sears' baby face under the mask. Some mysteries are better left unsolved.

Zoom's every-changing motivations didn't do the series any favors either. He swapped master plans more than Princess Leia changed outfits in The Return Of The Jedi. He started out wanting the Flash's speed. Fair enough. Then after he "conquered" Earth-2 (which looked curiously unaffected when we eventually saw it), he decided he wanted to conquer Earth-1. Then he went back to trying to steal the Flash's speed again, and succeeded. Then in the last couple of episodes he suddenly decided he wanted to turn Barry to the Dark Side. And finally in this season finale, completely out of the blue, he decided he wanted to blow up the entire multiverse. After a while it became exhausting trying to keep up with what he was trying to do from week to week.

Season 2 also seemed to be less about actual plot, and more about shocking revelations and plot twists whether they made any sense or not. Take Zoom's true identity. I have this sneaking suspicion the writers didn't even know who he really was when they introduced him. I can easily imagine the following conversation in the writer's room:

Writer #1: "Guys, I have an amazing idea! What if we say Zoom is really Jay Garrick?"
Writer #2: "That's awesome! But how's that possible? How would we explain it?"
Writer #1: "I have no idea. But think what an awesome cliffhanger it'll be!"

Hopefully Season 3 will be feature much less of this "stunt plotting" and get back to actual solide storytelling.

That's not to say things were all bad though. There was quite a bit of good on display in Season 2. Grant Gustin did some of his best and most powerful work yet as Barry Allen. Tom Cavanagh was also amazing, playing the same, yet very different Earth-2 Harrison Wells. Iris' character was much improved this season as well, and was far, far less annoying than she was in Season 1. Danielle Panabaker surprised everyone as the wonderfully evil Killer Frost. And the whole visit to Earth-2 was awesome, and very well done, giving the entire cast a chance to cut loose and play alternate versions of themselves. It's just too bad there wasn't more like this.


The Plot:
Picking up where we left off last week, Zoom kills Barry's dad Henry Allen right before his eyes. Barry attacks Zoom, and the two speedsters dash through Central City. Zoom somehow duplicates himself. Barry manages to catch one of the Zooms, who begs him to "End me." Just then the other Zoom kills the first one from behind. The remaining Zoom says Barry's "almost ready" and runs off. Well, that was certainly weird.

Cut to Henry's funeral, which, as is the law on all TV shows, takes place on an overcast, rainy day. Barry's too upset to deliver a eulogy, so Joe steps in and does the honors.

At the West house, Barry asks the STAR Labs Gang what they plan to do about Zoom. They reply nothing
— after all, what can they do? He's a psychotic speedster who can travel between dimensions and kill them all at will.

Just then Zoom runs past the house, and Barry follows. When he catches up, Zoom challenges him to a race. Yep, that's right. This nightmarish figure the writers want us to be terrified of wants to race the Flash. What is he, six years old? He says if Barry doesn't agree, he'll start killing his friends and family one by one.

Back at STAR Labs, Harry discovers Zoom stole a Magnetar, whatever the hell that is, from Mercury Labs. If fully charged, the Magnetar can be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Barry says he has no choice then but to race Zoom and defeat him. 

Joe tries to talk Barry out of racing, but he says he has to do it. Joe realizes that Barry doesn't just want to win, he plans to kill Zoom in revenge. Joe says he's sorry for what's about to happen, and Harry shoots Barry with a trank dart. Barry wakes up in the Secret Super Jail. The whole Gang tells him he can't race Zoom on his terms, as he'll surely cheat and everyone will die. They shut the cell door and leave.

Harry says he has a plan to take down Zoom, which involves using Caitlin as bait, shooting him with power-sapping "boots," having Cisco "vibe" open a portal and tossing him back into Earth-2. It's a great plan, except for the fact that even if it works, Zoom can open a portal of his own and come right back five seconds later.

As the Gang prepares their plan, Jesse tells Harry that he can stay here if he wants, but she's returning to Earth-2. I guess there aren't enough blimps and art-deco buildings here on Earth-1.

The Star Labs Gang sets up their trap in an industrial park, and soon Zoom appears. Caitlin approaches him and says she made a mistake walking out on him, and he's the only one who understands her dark side, or something. Zoom says he understands and then tries to kill her. He goes right through her, revealing she's a hologram. Harry boots Zoom, but Joe's gun conveniently jams. He finally runs out and manually inserts the trank darts into Zoom! Cisco opens a portal, but unfortunately both Zoom and Joe are pulled into it. Drama!

Back at STAR Labs, Cisco tries to vibe and see if Joe's OK, but can't find him. Harry says Zoom booby-trapped the Magnetar so it'll explode and destroy the Earth if he tries to stop it. Just then Wally waltzes into STAR Labs and asks where Joe is. They tell him he's on Earth-2 and they have no plans to rescue him, as they all agreed to never open another breach again, no matter what. Wally goes ballistic and releases the Flash from Super Jail. 

Over on Earth-2, Zoom has Joe strung up in his lair. He taunts Zoom, saying Barry won't race him. Iron Mask is still in his cell, tapping away. Joe asks who he is, and for some reason Zoom decides to tell him. He says he visited many other Earths in the multiverse, taking out speedsters and stealing their powers. He found Iron Mask on one of these Earths, and tried to take his speed, but couldn't. He then brought him to Earth-2 and locked him in his dungeon as a trophy. As a final insult, he took his identity of Jay Garrick (!) and masqueraded as a hero on Earth-2.

Back on Earth-1, Barry's furious that the Gang locked him up and went after Zoom themselves. He says he'll race Zoom and beat him with or without them. Feeling they have no other choice, the Gang agrees to help. Cisco vibes a message from Barry to Zoom, saying he agrees to race him if he brings Joe back unharmed. Zoom agrees.

They meet back at the industrial park. Somehow the Magnetar has grown from the size of a compact car into a ferris wheel-sized loop. I guess Zoom modified it while we weren't looking? I honestly don't know. Zoom appears and brings Joe along, and begins monologuing. He says that as he and the Flash race, each loop they make around the Magnetar will charge it, and when it reaches its full potential it'll unleash an energy pulse that'll destroy all the Earths in the multiverse— except for Earth-1, of course. That must be one hell of a pulse.

The Flash and Zoom begin racing. After a few hundred laps, Barry creates his own time remnant, which frees Joe. Zoom then pulls the real (?) Barry from the Magnetar and they start battling again. Meanwhile Time Remnant Barry begins running around the base of the Magnetar to counteract its pulse. He runs so fast he disintegrates, destroying the Magnetar in the process. Time Remnant Barry just sacrificed himself to save the multiverse!

Original (?) Barry manages to defeat Zoom. He pauses for an instant, as he decides whether to deliver the killing blow. Suddenly a couple of Time Wraiths appear and snatch Zoom away. His body begins withering and desiccating as they carry him into a breach, where he'll never bother anyone ever again.

Sometime later at STAR Labs, Wally's puzzled as to just what a time remnant is, and how Barry created one. You ain't the only one, Wally! Barry tries to explain it, but Wally stops him, saying he's sorry he asked. You know, writers, when a plot point doesn't make any sense, you can't just sweep it under the rug by having a characters say they don't need an explanation. That's cheating and lazy writing.

Apparently Barry somehow made a quick jaunt to Earth-2 and brought Iron Mask back with him. Cisco and Harry remove his mask, and revealing he's the Earth-3 Jay Garrick, who looks exactly like Henry Allen. Barry freaks out and leaves.

Jay dons his old suit (that I guess was stashed in a locker in Zoom's dungeon?) and cuts a dashing figure as the Earth-3 Flash. He decides to wear the Mercury helmet that Hunter Zolomon wore when he was pretending to be Jay Garrick, saying it's time he took something from Zoom for a change. Personally I don't think I'd want to wear my sworn enemy's helmet, but that's just me.

Jay asks how he's going to get back home to Earth-3. Harry says he might be able to help, as he's decided to go back to Earth-2 with Jesse. They all say tearful goodbyes, as Cisco opens a breach and Jay, Harry and Jesse jump through.

Back at the West house, the Gang is celebrating. Barry and Iris talk on the porch. He says he's too broken inside to enter a relationship with her right now. She says she understands, and will wait for him as long as it takes.

Barry says, "That's why I'm so sorry, but I have to do this." He takes off running, so fast that he goes back in time. He travels back to the night of his mother's murder. He stops Eobard Thawne from killing her, which will no doubt have serious and extreme consequences in Season 3. He looks up and sees the version of himself who witnessed the murder (see Season 1) fade away. He turns to his terrified mother and says she's safe now. 

• So in this episode, Zoom's master plan is to challenge Barry to a race. Are you freakin' kidding me? What is he, six years old? 

This kind of goofy plot used to happen in Silver Age comics all the time, and it would work fine on The Flash if this was any other episode. But Zoom just killed Barry's father right in front of him. It's a whiplash-inducing change in tone to suddenly have him want to race immediately afterward, like they're schoolyard rivals.

The writers make a valiant attempt to smooth over this by making the race part of the Magnetar-charging process. Nice try, guys.

• I'm not even going to attempt to try and understand the whole "creating a time remnant" thing. Apparently 
if you're a speedster you can run back in time, grab an earlier version of yourself and bring it to the present to help you out. No matter how you look at it, that doesn't make any damned sense. 

If your past self is killed, then the current version of you should immediately wink out of existence. That doesn't happen of course, because the time remnants are from a "dead end" timeline or some bull hockey. Sigh… I need to lie down. I'm getting one of my sick headaches.

It's so easy to create one of these time remnants that Barry successfully does so on his first try. And apparently it's even easier to convince this "other self" to sacrifice its life to help your cause!

• According to Henry Allen's tombstone, he was sixty one years old. Actor John Wesley Shipp is sixty one as well!

• Wally apparently learned Barry's secret identity between episodes. I'm very thankful he was OK with it, and we weren't subjected to another "How Could You Lie To Me?" scene from the West family.

I think at this point Captain Singh is the only character on the show who doesn't know Barry's the Flash.

• In order to keep Barry from doing anything stupid, Harry shoots Barry with a trank dart, knocking him out. Barry wakes up in the Secret Super Jail, and sees the entire gang standing there staring at him.

Did the entire Star Labs Gang really all assemble outside Barry's cell and wait around for an hour until he woke up?

• The Star Labs Gang comes up with their own plan to defeat Zoom. They'll lure him into the open, boot him, then toss him through a breach into Earth-2. Somehow they're convinced this will end his threat forever.

I don't understand how they can think that. We've already seen that Zoom can simply pound his fist on reality and open up a breach anytime he wants. What's to keep him from opening another one and returning a second after they banish him?

• In his dungeon, Zoom gives Joe an abbreviated version of his life story, saying:
 "I got my speed the same way Barry did. When I got struck by the dark matter and electricity, I became Zoom, the fastest man alive. Wasn't long before I had this Earth on its knees. But it wasn't enough. I wanted more. I wanted to be faster. So I created a speed drug. Velocity-9."
Zoom did absolutely no such thing. Masquerading as Jay Garrick, he convinced the Earth-2 Harrison Wells to create a drug that would make him faster so he could defeat Zoom. Wells whipped up Velocity-1 through 5, but they were all failures. "Jay" actually did create Velocity-6, but it caused him to lose his powers and began killing him.

The Earth-1 Caitlin Snow then helped "Jay" with his plan. She refined the formula, creating Velocity-7 and 8 before finally coming up with the successful Velocity-9.

I don't know if the writers were trying to simplify the history of Velocity-9 here, or if they just plain forgot what happened earlier. Either way, Zoom's wrong.

• In the comics, Earth-2 was where all the Golden Age superheroes (such as Jay Garrick) lived. There was also an Earth-3, which was filled with super villains, and the only hero was Lex Luthor.

It looks like The Flash writers have reversed this for some reason. So far very single metahuman from Earth-2 has been evil. And in this episode we find out that the real Jay Garrick is from Earth-3. So why the switch?

I'm betting that because they wanted to introduce the metahuman doppelgängers first, so it would have been (even more) confusing if they said they came from Earth-3, when no Earth-2 had yet been introduced. So I'm willing to give them this one, even if it's wrong and kind of clumsy.

• When did Cisco develop the ability to open up portals to Earth-2? Up until this week he had little or no control over his "vibe" powers, and could only use them to see flashes of the future or peer into Earth-2. It almost feels like there's an episode missing here.

Last week in Invincible he could suddenly fire some sort of sonic blast at Black Siren, so I guess sudden power manifestations are the norm with him.

• When Harry first mentions the Magnetar, we cut to a flashback of Zoom finding it inside Mercury Labs (he's at the left hand side of the screen above, gazing at in in wonder). Note that the Magnetar is a bit larger than the average doorway.

We see it again in the industrial park, as the Gang makes their play to send Zoom back to Earth-2. He stands in the middle of it, making a few last-minute adjustments. At this point it's still fairly small.

The next time we see the Magnetar, it's inexplicably expanded, now roughly the size of the London Eye. What the...? That skyscraper-sized contraption was not there the first time we saw the industrial park. If it was, Cisco would have commented on it, as he does here.

So where the hell did it come from? Zoom was back on Earth-2 from the time the Gang "banished" him until he returned for the big race. Did he use his superspeed to build this mammoth construction in the seconds before the Gang arrived? 

Once again, it feels like there are big chunks of story missing here. I'm wondering if the episode was running long and they had to start trimming scenes?

• Zoom reveals his second Master Plan of this episode— using the Magnetar to destroy the multiverse. As he and Barry race around the Magnetar, their Speed Force lightning will charge it up, releasing a powerful pulse.

But why does Zoom need Barry for that? Even if it takes more than one speedster to charge up the Magnetar, why couldn't Zoom just conjure up another time remnant of himself to help?

• At long last Barry beats Zoom senseless, and pauses as he's about to kill him. Which life-altering decision will he make? Will he give into his anger and kill his enemy in cold blood? Or will he show him mercy, proving he's a hero? 

The answer is apparently none of our goddamned business. Before Barry can finish wrestling with his decision, the Time Wraiths show up and whisk Zoom away. That was certainly convenient!

• Isn't it funny how the Dementors, er, I mean the Time Wraiths, get pissed when a speedster travels in time, but are fine when Rip Hunter and his crew do it every week over on Legends Of Tomorrow

Oddly enough they don't even bother Barry when he makes a major alteration the timeline at the end of the episode.

• As the Time Wraiths carried Zoom away, his face becomes withered and gaunt, and he looks not unlike one of the zombies from The Walking Dead.

I wonder if this was a nod to the Black Flash? In the comics, he's basically the Grim Reaper for speedsters. Could Zoom return some day as the Black Flash?

• I called it! Well, sort of. For months I've been saying that Iron Mask would turn out to be the real Jay Garrick. Especially after he was frantically tapping out the letters J, A and Y in Escape From Earth-2

Once Zoom revealed he was Jay Garrick, aka Hunter Zolomon, I changed my mind, and said Iron Mask would somehow turn out to be a version of Henry Allen.

Welp, looks like I was right in both cases. Iron Mask was both Jay Garrick and (sort of) Henry Allen.

• Seeing John Wesley Shipp in a version of the Flash costume again was the highlight of the episode. Best of all the costume's pretty darned close to the one in the comics, and it even features bright primary colors, instead of the dark, muted hues we usually get in modern superhero movies and shows. Amazing!

That said, the costume seemed to fit Shipp a bit oddly, almost like there wasn't time to properly size it.

And it was reeeeally contrived when Real Jay decided to wear Fake Jay's helmet, saying, "Well maybe I can continue that sentiment. Take something from him for a change, make it my own."

Oy. Why not just make the helmet a part of his costume from the start? Why would anyone want to wear something that belonged to their mortal enemy? And how the hell is he going to keep a metal helmet— without a chin strap— on his head when he runs at superspeed?

• I'm very, very happy the writers found a way to restore the Jay Garrick Flash as a hero. The Golden Age Flash is one of the very first superheroes, debuting way back in 1940. It bothered me quite a bit that the writers turned him into a psychopath this season, as Zoom tainted his name. Hopefully we'll see more of this true version of Jay Garrick soon, to wash away the memory of his impostor. 

• After Zoom's defeated, everyone just sort of ignores the fact that Barry just created a duplicate of himself and they all watched it die. Even Barry doesn't seem all that torn up or weirded out by witnessing his own death. 

When Barry tries to explain the concept of time remnants to Wally, he says it's something he can't do very often. Let's hope so! In fact I hope the writers all vow to never use this ridiculous plot crutch ever again!

• Harry and Jesse bid the STAR Labs Gang a tearful farewell as they return to Earth-2. I wouldn't worry too much about this development. There's no way in hell the show's going to let actor Tom Cavanagh leave. And they wouldn't have introduced a character nicknamed Jesse Quick if they didn't have big plans for her.

• At the very end of the episode, Barry makes the incredibly selfish and boneheaded decision to alter the timeline and prevent his mother's murder. Idiot.

This is no doubt going to cause a huge chain reaction and have major, MAJOR repercussions for the entire cast in Season 3. If the writers play by the rules of time travel, then the fact that Barry's parents are alive and well means he never went to live with the Wests. If he didn't do that, then he probably wouldn't have fallen in love with Iris, and I doubt he'd have been inspired by Joe to become a CSI. If he didn't follow that path, then he wouldn't be in his lab the night of the particle accelerator explosion, or get hit by lightning, meaning he wouldn't become the Flash. In fact there probably wouldn't be an explosion in the first place, as stopping Eobard Thawne means the real Harrison Wells didn't die.

And those are just the potential changes I can come up with off the top of my head! There would no doubt be even more.

As I said though, these changes would happen if the writers play by the rules. As we saw last season and many times in this one, they gleefully ignore the laws of cause and effect as it suits their scripts. For example, at the end of last season, Eddie Thawne killed himself to wipe Eobard Thawne out of existence. Taking Thawne out of the picture should have resulted in the same changes I listed above. It did not. Nothing seemed to change for Barry and the cast at all. In fact, Eobard Thawne even returned this season in the aptly titled The Reverse Flash Returns. Who knows if there'll actually be any changes this time around?

I have a feeling they might actually go through with altering the timeline this, er, time. I'm betting Season 3 will open with everything radically changed. Barry's not the Flash, and he lives with his parents. If he knows Iris at all, it's because he frequents Jitters, where she's a barista. He won't know the STAR Labs Gang at all. After a while Cisco's plot-convenient vibe powers will reach through the timeline and let him know something's terribly wrong. He'll then realize Barry's the focal point of the disturbance, and will track him down. Barry will then be faced with the unimaginable— he'll have to decide whether to continue living in a reality that's "wrong," or sacrifice his mother to restore the timeline. There, The Flash writers. I just wrote Season 3 for you.

It looks like the writers are gearing up for an adaptation of the Flashpoint comic miniseries published in 2011. In the comic, Barry Allen wakes up to discover his world has radically changed. He's no longer the Flash, his mother is still alive, Captain Cold is Central City's greatest hero, and Superman and the Justice League don't exist. Somehow he can remember the previous timeline.

Barry eventually discovers that he's responsible for changing history, by going back in time and preventing the Reverse Flash from killing his mother. It's a long and very complicated story, but Barry manages to recreate the accident that gave him his powers, and he goes back in time again to prevent himself from stopping the Reverse Flash. He succeeds, the Reverse Flash kills Nora Allen, and the timeline is restored. Sounds pretty familiar, eh?

• Best Line Of The Episode:

Harry (to Cisco): "Have you ever worked with a tool before?” 
Cisco: “I’m working with one now.” 

A Hard Lesson

This week Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the late famed televangelist Billy Graham, appeared on the Steve Deace (whoever the hell that is) radio show, flashing her apex predator smile and warning Americans about their sinful, sinful ways.

In the interview, Graham Lotz claimed, through her ghastly rictus grin, that the Lord God allowed the 9-11 attacks to happen due to the America's recent awareness and acceptance of transgenders.

Interesting! You know, I'm pretty sure the whole transgender rights issue is a very recent topic. It most definitely was not a thing back in 2001. Heck, gays were just starting to become accepted then, so I know darned good an well transgenders weren't on anyone's radar in 2001

So according to Graham Lotz, God is apparently so pissed off at America's acceptance of Caitlin Jenner than he used his unlimited power to reach fifteen years into the past and cause the World Trade Center to be destroyed. Impressive!

I realize everyone has their own interpretation of God, but I believe this is the first time he's been described as a Star Trek villain. 

It's been said that the Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, but punishing us back in 2001 for something we didn't do until 2016 seems counterproductive. How are we ever going to learn our lesson and renounce our wicked ways if we don't yet know what we did, er, will do wrong?

Graham Lotz went on to say that the recent rash of destructive tornadoes in the Midwest is God's punishment for the election of the first openly gay President, which will occur in 2032.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

It Came From The Cineplex: The Darkness

The Darkness was written by Shayne Armostrong and Shane Krause, and directed by Greg McLean.

Armstrong and Krause are Australian writing partners whose previous credits include the Doctor Who spinoff K9, along with a series of TV movies you're unlikely to have ever heard of. 

McLean is an Australian filmmaker (I get the distinct impression that despite the fact it takes place in America, this is an Australian film) who previously directed Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2, which were both decent slasher-type movies. As I always say, you can't hit one out of the park every time at bat.

Sigh… another month, another watered-down, PG-13 suburban "horror" film that's about as scary as a basket of kittens. There've been so many of these half-assed horror films in the past ten years or so that I can no longer tell them apart. 

The blandness even extends to the movie's title— The Darkness. I can't imagine a more uninspired name. Originally the film was going to be called 6 Miranda Drive, which is even worse, and tells you absolutely nothing about the content. As dull as The Darkness title is, at least it sounds slightly ominous.

Imagine the Hawaiian vacation episode of The Brady Bunch (in which Bobby steals a tiki idol necklace from a sacred site) crossed with the original Poltergeist, and you'll have a pretty good idea of what this film's like. 

In fact, every frame of this film is inspired by, if not lifted directly from Poltergeist. The writers don't just use it as a rough outline, they slavishly copy it in every possible way. There's a suburban family whose house is plagued by strange happenings. There's a younger child who's the only one who can see or communicate with the spirits. The spirit activity escalates until they begin physically attacking the members of the household. Worst of all, the family ends up calling a professional spiritual medium to rid their house of evil spirits! 

The writers of The Darkness simply swapped out angry corpses for ancient Indian demons, and switched the medium from Caucasian to Hispanic. Other than that they're pretty much the same film.

According to the promotional materials, The Darkness is based on a true story, and I believe it. Yep, there's no doubt in my mind that it's true that this movie is based on a story.

Once again we get another one of those "Produced by" posters. This one proudly proclaims it's from the producers of The Visit, Sinister and Insidious. First of all, that's nothing to brag about. Secondly, does Hollywood actually believe this works? Do they really think the general public is going to look at this poster and say, "Hey, this movie's from the producer of The Visit! That guy produced the hell out of that movie, so this one HAS to be good!"

Lastly, take a good look at that poster. It's supposed to be terrifying (I think), but it looks for all the world like a clueless husband was working on his car, mistakenly grabbed a bedspread instead of a towel and wiped his greasy hands on it.


The Plot:
Peter Taylor (played by Kevin Bacon), his wife Bronny (played by Radha Mitchell), his teenaged daughter Stephanie and young son Mikey all go on a vacation to the Grand Canyon. While there, Mikey, who's autistic, wanders off from the campsite and falls into a deep cave. Inside the cave he finds strange markings on the wall, along with five stones arranged on a makeshift altar. The stones are all carved with primitive symbols. Mikey takes them, hides them in his backpack and strolls back to the campsite.

The Taylors return home and it's not long before odd things start happening around their house. The kitchen tap turn on by itself (terrifying!), light bulbs explode (horrifying!) and strange noises emanate from the attic (ghastly!). Mikey says his new imaginary friend "Jenny" is responsible.

As the incidents escalate, the Taylor family begins slowly falling apart. Peter, who once had an affair, begins spending more time at work and flirts with his beautiful young assistant. Bronny, a recovering alcoholic, begins drinking again. Stephanie throws up in a container and hides it under her bed (!), revealing she's bulimic. Mikey's already odd behavior becomes more erratic, as he tries to kill his grandmother's cat.

Bronny takes to the internet to find answers. She finds a Youtube video that helpfully explains everything that's happening. According to the video, the Anasazi Indians believe that thousands of years ago powerful demons they called the Sky People left their dimension and appeared on Earth. They took the forms of a crow, a snake, a coyote, a wolf and a buffalo. The demons were prone to dragging children into their dimension, but were mostly concerned with triggering an apocalyptic event called The Darkness (we have a title!), that would cover the Earth in night, or something. 
The Anasazi were able to banish the Sky People back to their dimension, and placed five carved rocks in a cave to prevent their return. 

Just then Bronny hears a noise, and discovers Mikey's set the wall of his room on fire (?). Peter, who doesn't buy into all the supernatural guff, is fed up with Mikey and tries to discipline him, but Bronny stops him, saying the fire wasn't his fault.

That night the Taylors have dinner with Peter's boss (played by Paul Reiser) and his wife Wendy (played by Ming-Na Wen). Bronny and Wendy both chat about the supernatural, while the Boss (amazingly, Reiser's character has no name) interrupts and shuts them down.

When the Taylors return home, they find Mikey covered with black, sooty handprints, and blood pours from his mouth. Apparently this is no cause for alarm, as Peter suggests waiting until morning to take him to the hospital. Bronny brings up Peter's affair (is this really the best time for that?), and accuses him of being distant and not noticing anything. He proves he notices plenty by pointing out the bottles of booze she cleverly hid under the couch. Jesus, what is this, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Meanwhile Mikey sits in his room, as demonic looking hands come out of his burned wall, indicating it's a portal of some kind.

Stephanie falls asleep and is awakened by a series of black handprints appearing on her legs, arms and neck. Ah, so the Sky People are perverts! Peter finds Mikey in his room, which is covered by handprints on the walls and ceiling. Peter's finally convinced something supernatural is behind the odd occurrences.

He contacts "Boss," who says his own son had some sort of vague supernatural malady a year or two back, and was cured by a couple of spiritual healers. He gives Peter their number.

Peter calls the healers, and Tangina Barrows, er, I mean Teresa Morales and her granddaughter Kat arrive. Teresa speaks only Spanish, so Kat serves as her translator. Bronny tells them about the Sky People, and the healers get to work busting the ghosts. I could make a joke here about a white family hiring a couple of Hispanic women to "clean" their house, but I won't.

Teresa uses metal divining rods to hunt down the demons and chase them back to their own dimension. They clean the downstairs, but when they enter Mikey's room, Teresa says it's where the real evil dwells. As she recites a banishing spell, the unseen, angry demons smash the windows and hurl shards of glass at her. 

As the others are distracted, Mikey walks through the portal in the wall of his room. When Bronny notices Mikey's missing, Peter rushes into the room and the door locks behind him. He sees Mikey on the other side of the portal, standing with the Sky People. They're wearing masks of a crow, snake, coyote, wolf and buffalo. 

Peter sees the carved stones on the floor of Mikey's room, picks them up and leaps through the portal. Unfortunately he's too afraid to place them back into position, which will banish the Sky People. He tells the demons to take him instead of Mikey. So he's too terrified of them to lay some rocks on an altar, but can willingly offer to sacrifice himself. Got it.

Mikey, who's "not afraid" (because of the whole autism thing), picks up the stones and puts them back in place. The Sky People vanish one by one, and Peter and Mikey jump back through the portal as it disappears. Teresa says, "This house is clean!" Wait, wrong movie.

We then see a ridiculously contrived ending scene of the Taylor family having a picnic on a golden sunny day. I guess all their deep-rooted psychological problems are cured!

• In most suburban horror films, the family in question is plagued by deep-seated psychological problems. In fact it often seems like the sinister occurrences in their home are caused by long-suppressed neuroses finally bubbling to the surface rather than ghosts.

Nowhere is that more true than in The Darkness. Every member of the Taylor family has some sort of mental disorder. Peter's a workaholic and philanderer. Bronny's a recovering alcoholic. Daughter Stephanie is a distant teen with bulimia. Young son Mikey is autistic. 

Jesus, is there any syndrome or malady the writers forgot to trowel onto them? I'm surprised Stephanie didn't run away to join ISIS, or Peter wasn't revealed to be an evil cyborg from the future.

• During the Grand Canyon vacation, Mikey wanders around the sharp rocks and sheer cliff walls. He steps on a weak spot in the ground and falls into a large cave. The way the scene's shot, it looks like he falls at least a hundred feet. After he takes the carved stones from the altar, he casually strolls right out of the cave, and I swear it looks like he exits about five feet from where he fell into the hole. 

How the hell did that happen? Were there stairs in the cave? A really tall ladder? How'd he fall a hundred feet while staying at ground level?

• So five small rocks arranged on a makeshift altar are the only thing keeping these super-powerful evil entities from invading our world. Got it.

Good thing no one else ever discovered the cave in the past thousand years. Or that there was never an earthquake that dislodged the rocks.
 Who the hell would ever name a character "Bronny?" Especially these days, when My Little Pony fandom is still going strong? Every time I type her name I can't help but think "Brony."

• Apparently Mikey doesn't go to any kind of school. We see Stephanie come and go to class every day, so obviously the story's taking place during the school year, but Mikey— who looks to be at least ten— stays home every day with Bronny. She doesn't even appear to be homeschooling him. Shouldn't he be in some sort of special class for kids with his condition?

• Who the hell is Jenny? When strange things begin happening in the Taylor house, Mikey blames them on his new imaginary friend, who he calls Jenny. Later on we find out that the "Sky People" are behind all the occurrences.

I refuse to believe that any of these ancient demons from pre-history goes by the name of "Jenny."

Also, at one point Bronny goes grocery shopping, and takes Mikey with her. He begs her for a helium-filled balloon, and she gives in and says yes. He then says that "Jenny" would like one as well, looking at her expectantly. Smash cut to the Taylor home, where we see two balloons floating in Mikey's room.

So apparently the evil, world-conquering Sky People like playing with balloons.

OK, later on we're told that the Sky People like to abduct children, so I suppose it's possible that "Jenny" was one of kids, and they're using her spirit or something to try and indoctrinate Mikey. I get the feeling I've put way more thought into this issue than the screenwriters did.

• I'm a big fan of actress Ming Na Wen, and have been watching her in movies and TV since the 1980s. It pains me to see her starring in dreck like this. Surely there are better parts for her than derivative, watered-down PG-13 horror films like this one?

• Kevin Bacon and Ming-Na Wen are both 1980s soap opera veterans. Bacon starred as alcoholic teen Tim Werner on The Guiding Light, while Wen played Vietnamese refugee Lien Hughes on As The World Turns.

• Bronny discovers her daughter Stephanie is bulimic. A couple things here:

First of all, every time Steph eats something, she retires to her room where she chastely vomits into a plastic bag and seals it inside a Tupperware container (awesome product placement!). Bronny finds several hundred of these containers under Steph's bed. Jesus Christ! Did it never once occur to this air-headed teen to quietly dump the Tupperware in the trash? Did she really think no one would ever notice the large, festering vomit cemetery under her bed?

Secondly, after her family discovers her condition, they take her to a therapist. And that's the end of that! We see her go in for one session, and the problem is never mentioned again! I'm pretty sure it takes years to get over bulimia. If ever.

Kevin Bacon gets a good look at the script in The Darkness.
• Bronny does a google search, and conveniently finds a YouTube video (with the logo strangely scrubbed off) explaining Everything You've Ever Wanted To Know About The Sky People, But Were Afraid To Ask. Yep, there's nothing more riveting that watching a character in a movie surf the internet!

We then see a montage of the webpages and articles she finds. They look like they contain pertinent information that would be good to know, but they fly by much too fast to for us to read, making me wonder why they bothered with them in the first place.

• I could overlook most of the film's many, many similarities to Poltergeist, except for one— calling in the occult expert to clean the house. They might as well have just taken footage of Tangina Barrons and spliced it directly into The Darkness. It's that blatant. Teresa Morales, the spiritual medium here, does everything but shout, "Cross over, children! All are welcome! GO INTO THE LIGHT!"

• The end of the film is a huge cheat. Peter finds out that Mikey stole the carved stones from the Grand Canyon cave, which released the Sky People from their exile. One he discovered that, I figured he'd get in his car, drive all the way back to the Grand Canyon and replace the stones on the cave altar. Nope!

The Sky People very helpfully open up a portal in the wall of Mikey's room. This allows Peter and Mikey to step through the portal and instantly teleport several hundred miles to the cave where the stones were found. Once inside the cave, Mikey replaces the stones, which banishes the Sky People back to their own dimension.

Why the hell would the Sky People do this? They basically just helped Peter destroy them!

Oddly enough, once the stones are replaced and the spirits vanquished, the portal is considerate enough to stay open long enough for Peter and Mikey to step back through into their home. 

• The final scene of the film, in which the Taylors are picnicking in the sunshine, apparently free of all their problems, was unintentionally hilarious. These people were all at each other's throats earlier, and now they're apparently blissfully free of all their problems. 

Yes, we're told that the Sky People amplify negative emotions and cause people to argue and fight. But the Taylors all seemed like they hated one another before the demons came to live with them. I ain't buying their over the top, 1950s sitcom family act.

The Darkness is a bland mess of a film that's a virtual carbon copy of the original Poltergeist. Unfortunately it proves that stealing from a good film often results in a poor one. Don't bother seeing this one in the theater— stay home and re-watch Poltergeist again. I give it a C-.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 16: Legendary

It's the season finale of Legends Of Tomorrow!


For weeks now I've been hoping the show would have the good sense to kill off Vandal Savage in the finale episode of the season, as I was not looking forward to watching the Legends try to kill him for the next five seasons. Fortunately we got to see his demise this week, clearing the way for a new big bad next season.

I was never a fan of Savage and his storyline in the first place. I'm sure a big part of that was due to actor Casper Crump and his serious lack of charisma. He never seemed like much of a threat to me, and turned in a very lackluster performance from week to week. 
He finally started growing into the role in the past few episodes, but by then it was too little, too late.

Savage even had a dull superpower— immortality. That's it? He couldn't fly or shoot lasers from his eyes, lord no— that might have actually been exciting. Instead his sole power was not dying. How spectacularly uninteresting. His immortality was problematic for the Legends as well. Every time Savage appeared the Legends had to lose, else there'd be no more show. This constant failure to stop him made them look inept and incompetent.

This was especially true of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, as their lives were inextricably intertwined with Savage. According to the Hawks, they've been trying to kill Savage for the past 4,000 years, and they failed every single time! Even worse, he managed to kill them in every one of their 209 reincarnated lives! This endless cycle just made the Hawks look like a couple of incompetent ninnies.

Supposedly Hawk and Hawkgirl won't be returning next season. I'm completely fine with that development, especially since there wasn't really anywhere for their story to go now that Savage is dead.

The show started out a bit dodgy, but improved greatly by the end. It looks like the early episodes were a 
shakedown cruise for the show, as the last three or four episodes finally began to gel and show real promise. It felt like the writers learned from their mistakes and tossed out the things that didn't work— like Savage, the turgid and unconvincing Hawkgirl/Atom romance, and even the uninteresting Hawks themselves. Now that they've jettisoned all that, I'm hopeful the series will continue to improve in Season 2.

Despite its problems, I like the series quite a bit. I'm especially fond of the way it fully embraces the insanity of its Silver Age comic book roots. If the sight of a hundred foot tall Atom battling a giant, glowing robot doesn't bring a smile to your face, you're already dead.

The past two episodes have named dropped the Thanagarians, so I assumed they were going to be the new villains for Season 2. According to producer Marc Guggenheim this isn't the case, which makes me wonder why they brought them up in the first place.

Like most viewers, I fully expected Rip Hunter to somehow save his family in this episode. I was VERY surprised when that didn't happen. It looks like they're not only merely dead, they're really most sincerely dead. Kudos to the writers for taking the unexpected road and making such a risky move.


The Plot:
The Waverider lands in Star City in 2016. The Legends disembark, and Hunter explains he's brought them all back home because Vandal Savage has disappeared and the mission is a complete failure. The team protests and they all want to try and stop Savage one last time, but Hunter says he's made up his mind. It turns out he's a holographic projection, and the Waverider flies away, leaving the team stranded.

For plot complication reasons, Hunter brought everyone back to May 2016 instead of January as he promised. White Canary goes to the Arrow Cave and finds her father Quentin Lance there, grieving. He says while she was gone her sister Laurel Lance was murdered by Damien Darhhhhhhhk, er, I mean Darhk.

In Central City, Heat Wave wastes no time reverting to his criminal ways, robbing a bank. Atom intercepts him, and says to honor the memory of the late Captain Cold, the two should become partners (!).

Professor Stein and his wife play Trivial Pursuit, but he can't concentrate. He tells his wife he has unfinished business and returns to the vacant lot where Hunter left them. There he finds the entire team milling around. They all want to finish the mission as well. Atom and Stein figure out a way to technobabble a message to the Waverider. Hunter receives their text and returns to 2016. The Legends tell him they're going to complete their mission and save the world, and they're not taking no for an answer.

In 1944 France, Hawkgirl apparently escaped from Vandal Savage and is fleeing through the forest. She encounters an American soldier, and recognizes his helmet (?) She writes a note and puts it inside his helmet lining. Just then Savage appears, kills the soldier and knocks her out.

On the Waverider, Canary threatens Hunter and demands he take her back to January so she can save Laurel. He tells her it's impossible, as "time wants to happen," and there's nothing she can do to prevent her sister's death. So... that pretty much makes their entire mission moot them, right? He then uses a device to knock her out. Problem solved! Jackson accidentally knocks over a WWII helmet in Hunter's office, and it turns out to be the very one Hawkgirl hid her note inside. Hunter reads the note, realizes where and when Savage is, and heads for 1944 France.

Back in 1944, Savage takes blood from the Hawks, and mononlogues his master plan to them. He says their blood will somehow activate the secret Thanagarian technology hidden inside the three meteors that landed in ancient Egypt and gave him and the Hawks their powers. Once he's activated the meteors, he can detonate them in three different time periods, erasing history and resetting it with himself in charge. Comic book science!

Savage attacks a Nazi convoy carrying one of the meteors. The Waverider arrives and the Legends attack. Firestorm rescues the Hawks. Firestorm accidentally transmutes a Nazi's rifle into sand. As everyone's fleeing back to the Waverider, Hawkgirl's knocked out and recaptured. Outnumbered, Hunter's forced to flee without Hawkgirl.

Savage uses his time ship to travel back to Harmony Falls in 1958 (where the events of Night Of The Hawk took place). He meets his past self as he discovers the meteor and hands him a vial of the Hawks' blood. He tells Past Savage to use the blood to activate the meteor and detonate it.

On board the Waverider, Stein and Jackson merge into Firestorm and practice their new-found transmutation ability. Stein deduces Savage's plan, and says they'll need to kill him in all three time periods: St. Roch in 2021, Harmony Falls in 1958 and Norway in 1975. Additionally, the radiation from the meteors will temporarily suppress Savage's immortality, so anyone will be able to kill him, not just the Hawks. That's some fancy deducing on Stein's part, especially since he's pulling this theory directly out of his ass with no proof or testing. The Legends then split into three teams to kill Savage simultaneously in each time period. Atom and Heat Wave go to 1958, Firestorm and Canary go to 1975, and Hunter and Hawkman go to 2021.

All three versions of Savage begin the ritual. In 2021, Hawkgirl frees herself and joins Hawkman and Hunter. The battle rages across three different eras. Eventually the Legends get the upper hand. In 1958, Heat Wave beats the crap out of Savage and incinerates him with his flame gun (!). In 1975, Canary snaps Savage's neck (!!). And in 2021, Hawkgirl stabs Savage in the heart with his own knife (!!!). Hunter then grabs him and throws him against a generator, electrocuting him (!!!!). I gotta say, it was satisfying watching him die three times.

The meteors then threaten to explode. Atom shrinks the 1958 meteor, causing it to explode in a harmless puff of smoke. Firestorm turns the 1975 meteor into water. Gideon then time jumps and brings all the Legends to 2021. Unfortunately, the 2021 meteor can't be disabled for reasons. If it explodes it'll destroy the Earth (of course).

Hunter places the meteor into the Waverider and flies it toward the sun. As the ship begins to shake apart, he hallucinates his dead wife and son are with him. Suddenly Gideon comes online and says she'd rather not die, thanks. This snaps Hunter back to his senses, and he tells Gideon to prepare for one final jump, to twenty minutes in the past.

Hunter returns to the rooftop and tells the Legends he shot the meteor into the sun and returned. So... why didn't he do that in the first place? He says now that the Time Masters are gone, someone needs to protect the time stream, and says the Legends are welcome to join him.

Cut to 2016. Canary visits her sister's grave, and says she knows Laurel would want her to go with Hunter. Stein plays Trivial Pursuit with Clarissa (again!). Jackson enters and says it's time to go. Stein says he doesn't want to leave his wife, but she says being part of Firestorm is more important.

Back in 2013, Heat Wave visits a bar and meets Past Captain Cold. Heat Wave awkwardly tells the very confused Cold that he's his hero, and walks out. I guess Canary didn't want to visit her late sister in the past?

After the various goodbyes are said, the Legends meet in another vacant lot. The Hawks say they've decided not to sign on for another mission, as they want to enjoy their Savage-free lives. Good riddance to them, I say! The rest of the team prepares to board the ship when a second Waverider appears, and crash-lands in front of them. A mysterious man exits and tells them if they get on their ship they'll all die. Heat Wave asks the man who the hell he is and how he knows that. He says Heat Wave himself sent him back to warn the Legends, and his name is Rex Tyler of the Justice Society Of America(sending squeals of delight throughout fandom).


• Why does Hunter always wait until after the Waverider lands before he cloaks it? Wouldn't it make infinitely more sense to cloak it before it flies through a heavily populated city and alarms the entire populace, not to mention the police and military? I guess all those office buildings we see must be empty, or no one ever looks out their windows.

The real world reason for this is so we can get all those kewl shots of the ship coming in for a landing in a vacant lot. But within the universe of the show, it doesn't make any damned sense.

 After dumping the Legends in 2016, Hunter says says he'll go back to The Refuge, retrieve their infant selves and return them to their proper times so their adult selves don't disappear from the present. Even though it's ridiculous, I'm glad to see the writers remembered this dangling little plot point from Last Refuge.

 As Hawkgirl flees through the French countryside in 1944, she runs into an American soldier. She actually recognizes his helmet as one of the historical artifacts on display in Hunter's office, and places a note in it, hoping he'll find it decades later.

Jesus Christ! Not only is she the most observant person in the world to recognize the soldier's helmet as the same one in the Waverider, she's also got to be the luckiest. What are the odds she'd just happen to run into the one soldier in all of WWII who's wearing the exact helmet that somehow comes into Hunter's possession? Coincidence, thy name is Legends Of Tomorrow!

And that doomed soldier better not have been Sgt. Rock! The helmet certainly looked like Rock's, but surely the producers wouldn't be dumb enough to waste such a major character from the comics by killing him thirty seconds after his introduction.

• Why did Hunter take the Legends back to May 2016 instead of January? All season he's been assuring them he could return them a second after they left, then suddenly in this episode he has some lame technobabble excuse as to why he can't. What is this, Doctor Who?

Once again, the real world reason for returning to May is so Canary could arrive after her sister Laurel died, so she could agonize over that and give her a story arc in the episode. I have no idea what the in-show reason was though.

• When Canary demands Hunter take her back in time to save her sister Laurel, Hunter says it's not possible. He says he altered the timeline when he recruited Canary, as she was supposed to die alongside her sister. If she tries to go back, she'll be killed by Damien Darhk as well.

Additionally, Hunter says he's tried to prevent his wife and son from being killed dozens of times, but the time stream always asserted itself and won in the end. He tells Canary that no matter what she does, she can't change Laurel's death.

This pretty much makes the entire series moot, doesn't it? The whole point of the mission was to defeat Savage and save Hunter's family. If events truly can't be changed, then why the hell did he bother in the first place?

To make things worse, the Legends actually succeed in killing Savage in this episode. Three different times! 
So which is it, writers? Can events be changed or can't they? You can't have it both ways! Especially not in the same episode!

• When Savage steals the meteor in 1944, he's accompanied by a small army of grunts with hi-tech armor and blasters. Where the hell did they come from? Certainly not 1944! Did he use his jump ship to grab 'em in 2166 and bring them back to WWII?

• The Legends wonder why Savage went to 1944 and what he was doing there. Gideon helps out by providing surveillance footage showing Savage stealing a meteor. Um... surveillance camera footage in 1944? How the hell is that possible? 

• During the three-way battle between the Legends, Savage and the Nazis, Firestorm grabs hold of a soldiers gun and is shocked when it transforms into sand.

Huzzah! At long, long, LONG last, Firestorm finally gets the power to transmute objects from one substance to another. It's about damned time.

In the comics Firestorm could fly and shoot fire from his hands, but his primary power was always transmutation. If a thug shot at him, he could turn the bullets into water or flowers. 

Ever since he was introduced over on The Flash, Firestorm's been little more than a low-rent Human Torch. I was beginning to think he'd never manifest his full powers, so it's nice to finally see it happen.

I'm still struggling to get used to his "budget friendly" non-flaming head though, that only ignites when he flies.

• Savage's new master plan is to cause a time quake, which will shatter the timeline and take him back to 1700 BC. Once there, he'll set himself up as supreme ruler, and due to his foreknowledge, he'll now be a god.

Eh, I don't know about that. The guy's already been alive for 4000 years! If he couldn't figure out how to conquer the world in all that time, he never will!

Legends Of Tomorrow loves to throw in homages to time travel movies. This episode features a ton of them.

The whole "Contacting Someone In The Future By Hiding A Message In The Past " scene is very reminiscent of a similar occurance in the movie Frequency

The Legends splitting up to stop Savage in three different time periods had to have been a nod to All Good Things..., the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Hunter uses a hi-tech doodad to knock out an angry White Canary. Doc Brown did the same thing to an overly curious Jennifer in Back To The Future II.

And of course Hunter getting shot, toppling off the side of the skyscraper and then slowly rising back up while standing on the Waverider was an homage to Back To The Future II as well.

• Whoops! In both Marooned and River Of Time, Stein said he and Jackson couldn't form Firestorm inside the Waverider because the fusion reaction would damage the ship. So what do they do in this episode? They form Firestorm. Inside the ship. The resultant reaction is very small and contained and doesn't look like it scordhed the ship in the least. Sometimes I wonder if the writers watch past episodes before penning a new one. Or hope the audience doesn't remember things like this.

• It looks like everyone's officially decided to ignore the fact that this particular Hawkman is from the future and doesn't belong with this Hawkgirl. I believe Hawkgirl is on her 209th life (give or take one), but this Hawkman was taken from 2166. He's probably on his 211th or 212th life by now. They don't belong together. They're not a matched set. It's like the writers cheated to make them a couple again.

If this Future Hawkman is #211, what happened to his corresponding #211 Hawkgirl? Was she killed? Or his addled state, did he forget what happened to her and decide the 2016 Hawkgirl is good enough? I hope the 2166 Hawkgirl truly is dead, because if not she's going to waste her life looking for her partner and never find him.

• Heat Wave's primary weapon is a small flamethrower gun. Oddly enough, whenever he shoots someone with his gun they're usually just blown backward, with no other damage. Um… that's not how flamethrowers work.

Finally in this episode he fires at Savage and he goes up in flames like a high school homecoming bonfire. So I guess Heat Wave's gun is capable of shooting both lethal and non-lethal flames. Got it.

• Poor Arthur Darvill. Near the end of the episode, Rip Hunter finally gets to kill Vandal Savage. As Savage dies, he hisses through bloody teeth that Hunter hasn't won, as his family is still dead.

If you watch closely it looks like actor Casper Crump is spitting fake blood all over Darvill's face. Look closely at the still above, and you can see Darvill closing his eyes as the bloody spittle comes at him. Say it, don't spray it, Savage!

• While it was definitely satisfying to see Savage get killed in three different time periods, I'm not even going to attempt to explain how impossible that would be. OK, I'll try. 

Say on Monday he went back to 1944. Then Tuesday he goes to 1975. Wednesday he goes to 2021. If he's killed in 1944, then how could he go to the other periods? See what I mean?

• I loved it when the 1958 meteor was threatening to explode, and Atom simply shrank it so it went off with a barely audible "poof."

• To save the planet, Hunter puts the last meteor in the Waverider and pilots it toward the sun. This of course will kill him (and Gideon) in the process. Um... that seems needlessly complicated and dramatic. Why not just put the meteor in the Jump Ship and have Gideon program it to fly into the sun? Because then the writers couldn't generate tension and almost kill Hunter and have him come to his senses in the nick of time, that's why. It's cheap theatrics, and lazy writing.

• With the crisis over, Hunter says that now that the Time Masters have been blowed up real good, he's taking it upon himself to watch over the time stream and guard it himself. Oy gevalt! Welp, there goes the universe! Hunter's shown time and again that he's the worst captain EVER, and consistently makes the worst decisions possible. We're all doomed.

• After Savage is killed, Stein and his wife Clarissa sit in their living room playing Trivial Pursuit. Jackson comes in and says the Legends have decided to re-up for a new mission. Stein refuses to go, saying his place is at home with his wife. Clarissa says he'll regret it for the rest of his life if he stays home, and encourages him to go. Wait, did I say "encourages?" I meant "shoves him out the door."

Sounds to me like Clarissa's anxious to get Stein out of the house again! She got something going with the pool boy?

• At the very end of the episode, the Legends all meet Hunter, anxious to go on a new mission. A second Waverider then crash lands in front of them. A man gets out, gives them an ominous warning and says he's Rex Tyler of the Justice Society, and he'll be joining the cast next season. OK, so he doesn't really say that last part, but he is becoming a regular.

So who the heck is Rex Tyler?

In the comics, Rex Tyler was the superhero known as Hourman, who debuted in 1940. He was a chemist who came up with a wonder drug called "Miraclo," which, when taken, would grant him superhuman strength and speed for one hour. So he's basically Popeye with the spinach.

He had a son named Rick Tyler, who took up the Hourman mantle in the 1980s. It's a long and complicated story (of course), but eventually he also gained the additional ability to see an hour into the future. 

There was a third Hourman named Matthew Tyler, who was an android from the 853rd Century. He gave up most of his powers and spent his days wandering the timestream.

I'm betting the Hourman we see at the end of the episode is the original, who's only "super" for an hour. I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually throw in Rick Tyler's precognition power too (hey, it worked for Cisco on The Flash!). 

As for the Justice Society, they were a team of superheroes who were the precursors to the more well-known Justice League. The Justice Society premiered in 1940, and the team is still in existence today. The roster's changed dramatically over the years, but the original members were Hourman (or Hour-Man as it was spelled then), Doctor Fate, the Spectre, Sandman, the Golden Age Atom (who couldn't shrink, but was just a short guy who punched people), the Golden Age Flash, the Golden Age Green Lantern and the Golden Age Hawkman.

I doubt they'll use the Golden Age Flash, Atom, Green Lantern or Hawkman here. Doctor Fate and the Spectre would be pretty cool though. There's a ton of other members who joined up later that they could use.

The Arrowverse shows are probably forbidden from using the Justice League, since Warner Bros. is currently filming a dark, gritty and murdery version of them for the big screen. So the Arrowverse producers are using the next best thing. The Hourman we saw here looked like he was wearing a fairly modern costume, so I doubt he's from the 1940s version of the Justice Society. I guess we'll find out for sure this fall.
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