Saturday, January 30, 2016

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 1, Episode 2: Pilot Part 2

This week on Legends Of Tomorrow (why does that sound weird?) we finally get the second half of the pilot episode. I still don't understand why they split it up and just didn't air the whole thing as a two hour special, but I guess I'm not a program director.

Just like last week the story moved along at breakneck speed. There are times when I think it moves a little too fast, as huge events come and go before the audience even has time to process them. Slow down a bit, guys! What's the rush?

Last week I said I enjoyed the first episode for the most part, but had some misgivings about the series' future (heh). This week's episode seemed to address and fix most of my concerns.


After watching the first episode I said I was worried that the show had damaged Professor Stein's character, possibly for good. You remember what he did— basically giving Jackson a roofie and kidnapping him when he didn't want to go on an adventure. 

Believe it or not they managed to make up for that huge misstep this week. Seeing Professor Stein interacting with his younger and even more arrogant self totally made up for last week's blunder.

I hadn't read any spoilers about the episode, so the death of Hawkman was a huge surprise to me. I didn't think they'd kill off any of the Legends this soon, and definitely not him. I figured they'd draw out the "Hawkman loves Hawkgirl but she doesn't remember him" subplot for several more episodes. I'm sure we'll see him pop up again at some point though, what with the whole "resurrected 206 times" thing.

There was a lot of humor on display in this episode, as these horribly mismatched characters, none of whom have anything in common, are forced to work together. It's a welcome change from the dour and depressing DC movies. I really wish the DC TV people were in charge of the theatrical films as well.

This episode only heightened the biggest flaw in the whole series— namely actor Casper Crump (now that's a comic book name) as Vandal Savage. He definitely looks the part, but unfortunately he's not a very good actor, and he has no screen presence or charisma whatsoever. Vandal Savage is a terrifying figure, and should command the audience's attention every second he's onscreen. Crump seems incapable of even summoning up a decent evil laugh.

Neal McDonough had a brief cameo as Arrow villain Damien Dahrk (oy, that spelling), and he practically stole the entire show from Crump, who seemed like a wet washcloth in comparison.

This is a huge problem, especially considering that the entire premise of the series revolves around stopping Vandal Savage. I have no idea how to solve this dilemma, other than to recast the role, and I doubt they're going to do that. Hopefully Crump's game will improve and soon, before he torpedoes the entire show.

The battle scenes in this episode were nothing short of amazing, especially for a TV show. I don't know how they do it on a CW budget, but somehow the series is giving us battles that rival ones seen in the Avengers movies. Kudos to the FX team!

The Plot:
The team is still in 1975, and using Professor Boardman's info, they track Vandal Savage to a terrorist arms auction in Norway. Rip Hunter tries to get them to follow his plan, but the Legends refuse, coming up with their own. Professor Stein, Captain Cold, Heat Wave and White Canary travel to the auction site. When the security guard is suspicious of the group, Stein surprisingly steps up and blusters their way in.

Heat Wave bids in a nuclear warhead and wins, which draws the attention of Vandal Savage. He quickly figures out the group's "not from around here," and orders them killed. A glorious comic book battle breaks out, as each of the Legends does his thing. The Atom flies out of Professor Stein's coat pocket (where he'd been hiding) and joins the fight. Stein merges with Jackson (who luckily had just arrived as backup) and they turn into Firestorm.

In the confusion, Savage activates the nuke and scampers off. Atom tries to diffuse it, but can't. Firestorm flies off with the bomb and absorbs the nuclear blast. No one notices that in the fight, a chunk of Atom's suit breaks off.

When the group returns to the Waverider, Hunter gives them a sarcastic slow clap and congratulates them on their total failure. Savage managed to escape, plus they left future technology in the past. He says that Savage found the Atom's tech and was able to use it to create advanced weaponry, and has now taken over the world a hundred years early, in 2016. Gideon shows the Legends a glimpse of the ruined world they left behind.

The Legends assure Hunter that they'll fix things. Atom says the part from his suit emits alpha waves (whatever those are) and Stein says he just happened to invent an alpha wave detector in 1975. Stein, Jackson and White Canary travel to Ivy College to meet the twenty five year old version of Martin Stein. Jackson and Canary are amused to find the younger version regularly smokes pot. They steal the alpha generator, but Young Stein catches them. Canary knocks him out, and Older Stein places an alarm clock by the unconscious Young Stein's head, so he'll be sure and wake up and go to a college dance, where he's destined to meet his future wife.

The group then tracks Atom's tech to a lab, where they manage to steal it back. They return to the Waverider. They're surprised to see Young Stein has followed them, and is amazed by all the futuristic tech inside the ship. Old Stein is horrified when he sees his wedding ring fade away, and realizes Young Stein didn't go to the dance and never met his wife.

Meanwhile Hunter examines Professor Boardman's notes and reads about an ancient dagger with the power to kill Savage. Atom, Cold and Heat Wave leave to steal the dagger. Hawkman tries to get Hawkgirl to remember her past. After concentrating hard, she finally remembers enough to translate the inscription on the dagger, and how to use it against Savage. Atom, Cold and Heat Wave break into a mansion and steal the dagger. Unfortunately the mansion belongs to Savage, who returns. He captures them and forces them to summon the rest of the team.

Hawkman, Hawkgirl and the others answer the call and show up at Savage's mansion. While the others battle Savage's men, Hawkman grabs the dagger and attacks Savage with it. Savage is able to get the upper hand and stabs Hawkman with the dagger, killing him and absorbing his life force. He tells Hawkgirl that because the dagger belonged to her, only she can use it against him. I guess that part wasn't in the inscription. He injures Hawkgirl, and the team retreats. Savage gets away of course, or the series would be over.

Back on the Waverider, Gideon heals Hawkgirl's injuries. Stein is upset that his past has been altered. Suddenly his wedding ring reappears, and Hunter reveals he met with Young Stein and encouraged him to go to the dance, where he apparently met his future wife after all.

Hawkman didn't die in vain, as his death galvanizes the Legends and they vow to work together to stop Savage.

• The arms dealers bidding on the nuke by firing their guns into the air was a humorous touch. Probably didn't do the building's roof any good though.

• So far my favorite characters on the show are Captain Cold and Heat Wave. I've always been a sucker for stories in which the bad guys are forced to team up with the heroes, and Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell are obviously having a ball playing these two miscreants.

One ominous sign— rumor has it that Miller and Purcell have supposedly signed on for a revival of their old series Prison Break. I hope that doesn't mean they'll be exiting this show any time soon.

Professor Stein meeting his younger self was hilarious, even if it did echo elements of the Back To The Future movies. I guess when you've got a show about time travel it's inevitable that you're going to tread some familiar ground. 

The part where Stein watched in horror as his wedding ring flickered out was particularly Back To The Future-ey. It's also a bit suspect if Stein never married, would his subsequently different life choices have allowed him to be in the same exact position for Rip Hunter to recruit him in 2016? I doubt it.

Once again we see it's tough to write time travel stories. If Old Stein went back in time to 1975 and met his younger self, shouldn't he remember that event?

Graeme McComb played the younger Stein, and although he didn't look much like him, he definitely had Victor Garber's speech patterns and cadence down pat. Considering the no doubt hectic TV schedule, he probably didn't have much time to practice either. Kudos!

 Why does White Canary always look so... greasy and oily? She looks like she hasn't washed her hair for a month. It's a very unappealing look. And why is her costume grey?

 I haven't been keeping up with Arrow (there are only so many hours in the week!) so I'm not sure if the writers have ever explained how the Atom's suit works. If it's anything like Ant-Man's over at Marvel, then it works by compressing the space between the molecules of his body. If that's true, then the Atom has all the same scientific impossibilities as Ant-Man

If he shrinks by compressing his body, his mass won't change, meaning he'll weigh the same at six inches high as he does full size. That means there's no way he could've hidden inside Professor Stein's pocket. Unless the Professor and the material his jacket are really, really strong, that is. I know, it's a comic book.

 During the first battle, a high-tech gizmo falls off of the Atom's suit. Savage finds it and is able to reverse engineer it, allowing him to destroy/rule the world a century earlier. 

We see Savage give the underlings in his lab a scant twenty four hours to figure out how the piece of tech works. He even kills one of them in order to motivate the others.

Sorry Savage— you can kill as many of your techs as you want, but they're still not going to be able to reverse engineer Atom's techs in a day. His technology is no doubt advanced even in 2016, so there's no way in hell someone in 1975 could figure it out, much less replicate it. The material and manufacturing processes just aren't there. Imagine traveling to 1975, handing an iPhone to an engineer and telling him to make one. It couldn't be done!

I agree that Savage having the Atom tech could spark ideas and hurry the development of technology along. But it would still take much longer than a day for any of that to happen.

 The mechanics of the whole Hawkman/Hawkgirl/Vandal Savage triangle are a bit vague (no doubt on purpose). As near as I can tell, the Hawks aren't immortal. They live normal lifespans, but are reincarnated every time they're killed by Savage. He's immortal because every time he kills one of the Hawks, he absorbs their life force, which delays his death a few more years.

So I guess a person's life force is separate from their soul? It would have to be, or else the first time Savage killed the Hawks and sucked up their life force would have been the end of the matter.

Hawkman says he and Hawkgirl have lived 206 previous lives. I kind of wish that wasn't the case, and that after the two were killed in ancient Egypt they weren't reincarnated until the present day. Being killed 206 goddamned times by the same enemy makes the two of them look like the most ineffectual and incompetent heroes possible. Jesus, Arnold Stang is more threatening than these two.

According to the online caption, the Hawks and Savage lived in 1700 BC. That was 3,716 years ago. The Hawks have lived 207 lives. If you divide 3,716 by 207 you get 18. That means the average age at which the Hawks have died over the years is just eighteen. 

That seems pretty young. I suppose there were some years in which they lived longer and others in which they were killed earlier, but it still seems dodgy to me. Maybe the producers should have said they've lived 150 lives. That would up their average death age to twenty four.

So what happens now? Will Hawkman be reincarnated again now, or are they a matched set, and he can't return until Hawkgirl's killed? According to the producers it's the latter. We won't be seeing a new version of Hawkman as long as Hawkgirl's alive.

Of course that doesn't rule out the possibility that she'll run into a previous incarnation of him somewhere in the past, or even the future!

 It was a lucky break that Hawkgirl finally remembered her past seconds before Hawkman was killed, wasn't it. Why, it's almost like it was written that way.

• Somebody call Cisco Ramon, stat! A few months ago he was dating Kendra Saunders. When Hawkman showed up and told her who she really was, she unceremoniously dumped poor Cisco. Now that Hawkman's out of the picture, he's got a second chance.

• I just realized that Hawkman is the Agent Coulson of this series. His untimely death at the hands of a villain galvanized the team and made them band together, just like the Avengers.

Unfortunately the fact that Hawkman was killed off so quickly made his death into a real non-event. I could tell the producers wanted us to sob bitter tears at his death, but he wasn't a beloved character we grew to love over the years— we barely knew the guy.

That's why the various Legends being so affected by Carter's death rang false as well. How long had they been together when Carter died? A day? Less?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Agent Carter Season 2, Episode 3: Better Angels

This week's Agent Carter moves right along, as it brings back a fan-favorite character, resurrects a dead one we all knew was alive, and references a couple of real-life Hollywood personalities.

I was glad to see the return of Howard Stark, even if it was for just one episode. He definitely livens up the show. He's an interesting character— he's rude, vain, egotistic and a shameless womanizer. He's also a certified genius, and quite a progressive thinker too (as demonstrated in this episode when he drops everything to help Dr. Wilkes). The character shouldn't work, but somehow he does. Kudos to actor Dominic Cooper for making him such a likable asshole.

Right now there are actually two Howard Starks running around the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Dominic Cooper plays the younger Howard Stark, while John Slattery plays the older version. Besides looking absolutely nothing alike, the two actors couldn't be more different. Cooper plays Stark as fun-loving bad boy, while Stattery's version is all business, which I'm sure is confusing to casual viewers. Marvel really needs to pick a Stark and stick with him, and I vote for Cooper. How hard could it be to age him up a bit when they need the older version?

Cooper is obviously channeling Robert Downey Jr.'s performance of Tony Stark here, giving the two characters a familial link. It's an odd situation— Tony Stark's character was established in the movies first, so his father Howard is following in his footsteps, instead of the other way around.


The Plot:
Peggy and Chief Sousa search the late Dr. Jason Wilkes apartment, and find evidence suggesting he was a communist. Peggy believes Isodyne planted to evidence to discredit Wilkes. Peggy returns to the SSR office, where she's surprised to see Chief Thompson has flown in from New York. He tries to get Peggy to sign a report stating that Wilkes was a commie, but she refuses. He signs his name to it instead, and Peggy leaves in a huff.

Peggy and Jarvis visit Howard Stark's movie studio, where he's filming a movie based on the Kid Colt comic book. Peggy shows Stark the Zero Matter film, and he's both intrigued and terrified by the substance's potential uses. While looking through Wilkes' papers, Stark finds a pin like the one the Council Of Nine were all wearing last week. He identifies it as an Arena Club pin. Peggy wants to plant bugs inside the club, but Stark tells her it's a men's only establishment.

Stark comes up with a plan. He pretends to join the Arena Club, then says it's too stuffy and brings in a bevy of buxom young women-- including Peggy. During all the commotion she sneaks into the rear of the Club, planting bugs here and there. She finds the Council Of Nine's chamber and plants a bug inside, but it shorts out. Oddly enough she also finds a copy of tomorrow's newspaper, complete with a headline saying a prominent senator is resigning in disgrace. Apparently the Council not only controls the news, but the elections as well.

Back at the office, Thompson watches the Zero Matter film. When he's done, FBI Agent Vernon shows up. He says WIlkes stole a weapon before he was killed, and if Thompson has any info on the incident, it's his duty to hand it over. Vernon says Thompson "will know it when he sees it." Peggy returns to the office and tells Thompson about the Council's prophetic newspaper. He refuses to believe her and they argue. He orders her to return to New York. On her way out, she notices items on her desk floating in mid-air.

Fearing she's been contaminated by Zero Matter, Peggy goes to Stark, who says there's a disruption in the gravity field around her. He mixes up a chemical that can makes invisible wavelengths visible. He sprays the mix in front of Peggy, and Wilkes appears. Comic book science! It seems the Zero Matter explosion didn't kill him, but made him intangible. He's been following Peggy around (!), trying to make her notice him. Wilkes tells Peggy that Whitney Frost caused the Zero Matter explosion when she tried to steal it. Stark vows to cure Wilkes.

Peggy visits Whitney Frost, and accuses her of trying to steal the Zero Matter. She denies it of course, and later forces her husband, Calvin Chadwick, to eliminate Peggy. Chadwick sends an assassin named Hunt to kill Peggy, but she ends up kicking his ass and sending him running. The next day Thompson hands the Zero Matter film over to Vernon, claiming he didn't watch it. Vernon takes Thompson to the Arena Club, and introduces him to Chadwick. He notices a newspaper with the exact headline Peggy warned him about. Whoops!

Stark heads to Peru to consult with an expert on Wilkes' condition. Sousa tells Peggy he did some digging, and discovered a woman named Agnes Cully, who invented some sort of wartime technology. Cully's stage name is-- Whitney Frost. Peggy realizes Frost is the brains of the entire Isodyne operation.

Whitney Frost sits in her dressing room, worrying over the crack in her forehead caused by the Zero Matter explosion. Her director comes in, sees the crack and asks what's going on. Suddenly a mass of Zero Matter erupts from Frost's hands, absorbing the director. Frost notices the crack on her forehead is now bigger.

• Ever since he was introduced, Howard Stark has been the Marvel Cinematic Universe's equivalent of Howard Hughes. Nowhere was that more evident than in this episode, in which Stark not only owns his own movie studio, but is directing a film as well.

In addition to being an aviator, engineer and inventor, the real life Howard Hughes owned RKO Studios (as well as their theaters and radio network) and began overseeing all the company's films. He eventually sold the studio to the General Tire and Rubber Company, but retained ownership of all films made under his watch.

• When Peggy visits Stark's studio, he's filming a Kid Colt movie. Kid Colt was an early Marvel Comics character. Unfortunately his first appearance was in 1948, a year after this episode was set. Whoops!

When Peggy sees what Stark is filming, she says, "A movie based on a comic book? Sounds like a dreadful idea!" Meta Humor Alert! 

I guess Peggy must not go to the movies much, or she'd know that the idea of a comic book movie wasn't new. The Captain Marvel serial premiered in 1941, and there was a Batman one in 1943. I suppose we could cut Peggy some slack here, as Fawcett and DC characters probably don't exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

• When Stark offers Peggy a role as a "sassy beer wench" in his movie, she says, "I'd rather be the cowboy!"

I'll bet you anything this is referring to Hayley Atwell's comment about Doctor Who last year. When asked in an interview if she'd ever consider playing the Doctor's companion, she replied, "I'd rather be the Doctor!"

• When Stark comments on how white Jarvis is, he claims he's 1/16th Turkish.

• Last week when Chief Thomspon tried to interrogate Dottie Underwood, she overturned a table, pinned him to the floor and darned near crushed his neck with it. This week Peggy makes a comment about Thompson's disastrous encounter with Dottie. How'd she know about that? She was on her way to LA when that happened.

Maybe she heard the office gossip about the incident?

• In the first episode, we saw Peggy entering the SSR's west coast division. It's inside a small-time talent agency, accessible behind a wall of fake filing cabinets.

So when FBI Agent Vernon visited Thompson at the SSR in this episode, does that mean he had to go through the talent agency and file cabinet covers too?

• Howard Stark meets a member of the Arena Club and says, "Let's do lunch." Did people really say that in 1947? I'm betting not.

• The Arena Club has a strict "No Women Allowed" rule. Stark brazenly flaunts this policy by bringing in a carload of young starlets.

If women aren't allowed inside the Arena Club, why does the maitre d have a "Code Pink" to deal with them? No one would come up with a code for a situation before it arises. Obviously women have crashed the place before.

And I doubt people said "Code 'Blank" in 1947 either.

• When Peggy's planting bugs in the Arena Club, she sneaks into the Council Of Nine's secret board room. She plants a bug under their table, but it begins emitting feedback so she destroys it. Just then a security guard enters, suspicious. She messes with one of the bugs, exposing its wires and jamming a fake flower from her dress into it, before placing it under the table.

At first I thought she was trying to start a small fire to create a distraction, so she could escape the board room unnoticed. But there was never any smoke or flame, and she escaped just fine. So what the heck was the deal with the hacked bug? It feels like a scene or two missing here.

You'd also think a top notch spy like Peggy would have taken one of the "tomorrow's newspapers" as evidence.

• When Peggy infiltrates the Council Of Nine's boardroom, she finds a copy of tomorrow's paper, implying the group is rigging the upcoming election. The paper is dated Wednesday, July 16, 1947. That date really did fall on a Wednesday! Kudos to the prop man for getting that detail right!

• I told you Dr. Wilkes wasn't dead!

• Last week I said I thought Jason Wilkes might turn out to be Marvel Comics character Shroud. Well, I was way off base there. 

Turns out there was a very obscure Marvel character named Professor Jason Wilkes. He appeared in Tales Of Suspense in 1962 (about a year before the Marvel Comics Universe started up).

Comic book Wilkes was a scientist who was contacted by the commies to invent an invisibility ray for them. He does so, and tests it on himself. Unfortunately he not only becomes invisible, but intangible as well, and has no way to turn on the "antidote" ray.

• Also last week I said that since this was a comic book show, I wished they'd add more fantastical elements to it, like ray guns or jetpacks. Well, be careful what you wish for. This week's episode featured pseudo science that would make Ed Wood look away in embarrassment! None of it makes a lick of sense.

First of all, Wilkes is invisible and intangible. Peggy sticks her hand through his shoulder, and at one point Stark walks right through him. Yet somehow he's still alive, and has been able to breathe for several days. Shouldn't he have suffocated within minutes of the Zero Matter explosion, as the air leaked out of his insubstantial lungs?

Stark then gives us a lecture on how movie film is created and developed, and whips up a photochemical potion that makes Wilkes visible again, but not solid. Then just to prove that they hate us, the writers say Wilkes can't speak, because his vocal chords are immaterial and can't vibrate the air. So Stark sprays his potion into Wilkes throat, and viola! He can speak. So the potion makes him visible but not material, but it can make his vocal chords solid enough to allow him to speak.

Um... I'm not even sure how to respond to that.

And I'm still not sure what was up with the items floating above Peggy's desk and around her body. Stark says a disruption in her gravity field is causing the items to float, but that doesn't make any sense. Was that Wilkes moving things around, trying to get her attention? If so, he shouldn't be able to handle any objects, since he's intangible and his hands would go right through them.

This episode's science is making me have one of my sick headaches.

• Stark sends Jarvis out to pick up scientific components, and then says to buy him some Velveeta while he's out. I checked, and Velveeta really was around in 1947. It was invented way back in 1923.

• After Mr. Hunt attacks Peggy, Stark increases the security around his mansion. Unfortunately this consists of a very unintimidating alarm with Jarvis' voice. When Jarvis hears this, he says he has no desire to spend eternity as a disembodied voice. Another Meta Humor Alert!

• Near the end of the episode, Howard Stark flies off to Peru to meet with Professor Abner Brody (and to get back to AMC to film Preacher). I wonder if that was an obscure Indiana Jones reference? Indy regularly visited countries like Peru, his mentor was Abner Ravenwood, and his museum curator friend was Marcus Brody. I don't know if that's what they had in mind, but it all fits.

• Sousa tells Peggy that Whitney Frost's real name is Agnes Cully, and she invented some sort of wartime code breaking machine. This is obviously a reference to real life actress Hedy Lamarr, who, along with George Antheil, invented a way to used frequency hopping to control torpedoes in WWII.

• Obviously Whitney Frost is on track to become Marvel villain Madame Masque. But the comic version of Masque had no actual superpowers. She was just a skilled fighter and spy. She for damn sure couldn't absorb people into her own body! Obviously this version of Madame Masque is moving in a different direction.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I was in my local cineplexery last weekend and saw this poster for the upcoming film Kung Fu Panda 3: Electric Pandaloo.

In the poster, Po, the main character, is eating a bowl of steamed dumplings while striking an impressive Jean-Claude Van Damme-style pose. 

As I waited around in the lobby staring at the poster, something became apparent...

Note that four of the pandas in the crowd below look suitably mortified by Po's prominently displayed nether regions. Obviously the sight of his massive taint and provacatively splayed ass cheeks has sickened and horrified these members of reserved Asian society.

Especially the female panda on the left. Look at her! She looks like she's gonna need months of intensive therapy!

These two on the right though are a different story. Get a load of the older one! He can't believe his good fortune! He's positively enraptured by the sight of Po's dangling junk, as his eyes narrow in ecstasy! Don't ask, don't tell, Mr. Panda!

Once again I have to ask: Does anyone at these studios ever glance at their posters before they print a million of them?

The Flash Season 2, Episode 11: The Reverse Flash Returns

This week's episode sees the return of the Reverse Flash/Eobard Thawne, a character I really thought we'd never see again, considering he was erased from the timeline at the end of last season. But hey, this is a comic book show, so it takes more than being wiped out of existence to keep a good villain down!

It seems a bit odd to bring the Reverse Flash back for an encore, especially since the cast already has their hands full dealing with this season's evil speedster Zoom, but hey, what do I know?

The writers do a valiant job trying to explain how Eobard Thawne can still exist after his distant ancestor Eddie Thawne killed himself last year. See, the Flash spent all of last year battling the time-traveling Eobard Thawne. But from Eobard's point of view, this episode was the first time he ever met the Flash. Supposedly when the Reverse Flash was erased, this earlier version of him was "outside the time stream," or something, which somehow preserved him. As with many time travel stories, the explanation doesn't make a lick of sense, but I give them credit for at least trying to deal with it.

The other big revelation in this episode is the identity of Jay Garrick's Earth-1 counterpart, who may or may not have something to do with Zoom. More on that below.


The Plot:
The Flash saves the city from disaster by stopping a runaway chemical track, as the Reverse Flash, who recently arrived in our time period, looks on. Back at STAR Labs, the Gang discovers the Turtle is dead. Jay suspects Harry's responsible. Harry lies and denies any involvement, and that's apparently the end of the matter. Tidy!

The Reverse Flash then goes to Mercury Labs, where he forces Dr. Tina McGee to help him get back to his own time by using her tachyon generator.

Cisco asks Harry for help in controlling his vibe power, figuring it could help them locate Zoom. They determine that Cisco's power is triggered by fear. Harry whips up a pair of high-tech goggles that stimulate Cisco's fear response. He puts them on and immediately begins "vibing." He sees a vision of the Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, killing Tina McGee.

The Gang meets to try and understand how the Reverse Flash can still exist after Eddie Thawne's suicide wiped him from existence. Harry says this version of Eobard is from a point in time before he killed Barry's mother. He says he must have been traveling through the time stream when Eddie died, which protected him, causing him to become a "time remnant." I know, it doesn't make any sense, but let's just go with it or we'll be here all day.

Thanks to Cisco's vision, Barry is able to track down the Reverse Flash and prevent him from killing McGee. He sabotages the tachyon generator to prevent him returning to his own time. He throws Thawne into the STAR Labs Secret Jail. Cisco and Barry both visit Thawne to gloat, telling him they've prevented him from doing all the evil things he did last season (or will do, from his point of view).

Unfortunately Cisco begins having nosebleeds, and eventually collapses. Caitlin examines him and determines he's dying. She says that imprisoning the Reverse Flash is disrupting the timeline, which is somehow killing Cisco. The only way to save him is to free the Reverse Flash, but that also means freeing him to repeat all of last season's actions.

Unfortunately Thawne can't get back to his own time by himself. Barry's forced to help him mortal enemy by adding his speed to Thawne's, running fast enough to open a breach in time and then literally tossing him through it. Cisco's saved!

In other developments, Francine's condition is worsening, so Iris visits and forgives her. Iris also talks Wally into visiting his mother one last time, before it's too late. Meanwhile Caitlin isn't having much luck coming up with a cure for Jay's mysterious condition. She says if they could find his Earth-1 counterpart, she might be able to take some of his "cells" and transfer them to Jay. She searches, but can't seem to find the Earth-1 Jay. Earth-2 Jay tells her he really does have a counterpart, but his name is Hunter Zoloman, a revelation which causes much head exploding throughout fandom. Unfortunately Zoloman's non-mutated cells are unusable.

Things also aren't going well for Barry and Patty. He still refuses to tell her he's the Flash, because he doesn't want to endanger her life, which by this point is one of the oldest superhero cliches in the book. He also tells her he doesn't want to get close to her because everyone he loves ends up leaving him (except for Joe, Iris, Cisco, Caitlin, etc). Eventually Patty uses her detective skills and figures out that Barry's the Flash. Even after she fools him into revealing his identity, he still won't admit it to her. Fed up, she leaves for Midway City.

• Let's see if we can figure out all this Reverse Flash business. At the end of last season, Eddie Thawne discovered he was Eobard Thawne's great-great-great (infinity) grandpa. So he killed himself to prevent Eobard, aka the Reverse Flash, from ever being born. One would think that would have erased everything the Reverse Flash did in our time period. He would never have murdered Barry's mom. Henry Allen would never have been wrongly imprisoned for her death. He would never have killed the real Harrison Wells or built the particle accelerator. And the accelerator would never have exploded and turned Barry into the Flash.

Obviously all of those things somehow still happened. Other than Eobard Thawne fading away, Eddie's sacrifice didn't seem to have any effect at all. 

So what the heck's going on? Harry tries to explain in this episode (complete with diagrams) that Eobard is a "time remnant." Even though Eobard was erased, the events he caused weren't affected because they already happened, and nothing can change that. He even says the death of Barry's mom is a "fixed point in time," which tells me someone on the writing staff is a Doctor Who fan!

As I said before, none of it makes any sense, but it's starting to make my brain hurt, so I'm just going to roll with it.

• So I guess Harry's off the hook for murdering the Turtle last week. The STAR Labs Gang discovers the Turtle dead in his cell, Caitlin says he appears to have died of a brain aneurysm, and that's the last we hear of the matter. Eh, it's just a dead body in your secret illegal jail, guys. I'm sure the authorities wouldn't be interested.

• I'm struggling to understand how the Reverse Flash's yellow costume still exists, and why his secret time room is still inside STAR Labs. I guess they're also "time remnants."

Speaking of the Revere Flash's suit, I'm still puzzled as to why it has veins sculpted into it. Or are those supposed to be Eobard Thawne's distended arteries pushing up from beneath the suit? Ewww!

• This week Cisco takes one step closer to becoming Vibe when he dons his special high-tech goggles. Surely they're not going to have him start wearing Vibe's comic book costume?

• When Cisco vibes and sees the Reverse Flash murdering Dr. McGee, there's a clock behind her that reads 9:52 pm.

That particular time is most likely another 52 reference. The New 52 was a year long event that rebooted DC's comic universe a while back. All the various DC shows are lousy with 52s.

• After the Reverse Flash is captured, Harry warns Barry not to let him find out his secret identity, or he'll try and destroy his life. When Barry's in the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail taunting Eobard, Caitlin pages him on the intercom by saying, "We need you in the cortex." Hmm. Good thing she didn't start that sentence with "Barry" like a normal human would have, or she'd have blown his cover!

• Caitlin believes she can cure Jay's mystery illness by taking "cells" from his Earth-1 counterpart and transplanting them into him. She's very vague about what type of cells she's after though. Blood cells? Brain cells? Stem cells?

It almost sounds like she wants to cut a hunk of tissue out of Earth-1 Jay and stick it into a corresponding hole in the Earth-2 version.

• Caitlin and Barry try to find Jay's Earth-1 doppelganger, but he doesn't show up in any database. Barry says Caitlin should just ask Jay if he knows where his counterpart is.

Um... why would Jay know where to find his doppelganger? Does Barry think counterparts on Earth-1 and Earth-2 all have the same address?

• Jay tells Caitlin he does indeed have an Earth-1 counterpart. The reason they couldn't find him is because he has a different name— Hunter Zoloman.

That name probably sailed far over the head of the general audience, but no doubt caused much squeeing from comic fans. It would take 20,000 words to fully explain Zoloman's backstory, so I'll be as brief as possible.

There have been several Reverse Flashes in the comics, and Hunter Zoloman was one of them. Unfortunately he was paralyzed after an attack by Gorilla Grodd (!). He tried using the Flash's cosmic treadmill to restore his mobility, but it exploded, transforming him into Zoom. As Zoom he wasn't a speedster, but could instead alter the speed in which he moves through time.

The comic version of Zoloman had absolutely no relation to Jay Garrick, so I'm not quite sure where they're going here. I have a feeling his name is more than just a shout out to the fanboys though. Maybe this version of Hunter Zoloman has something to do with the Zoom of Earth-2?

• By the way, Jay tells Caitlin that Zolomon's non-mutated cells would be useless to him. Um… how does Jay know Zoloman doesn't have mutated cells and isn't a speedster like him? If Zolomon did have super speed, he'd most likely be hiding it from the public.

• Jesus Christ, Barry Allen is such an idiot, it's downright painful to watch. Once again he has several chances to tell Patty his secret identity and salvage their relationship, and then stands there like a stammering dolt. He's a dumbass and he doesn't deserve her.

His main reason for not telling her— that he wants to protect her from his enemies— is getting really old at this point, and doesn't even make any sense. Pretty much everyone on the show— heck, everyone in Central City— knows he's the Flash at this point, and they're all still alive.

Last week I said I didn't see why Patty moving to Midway City would be such a big deal. Barry has super speed. He can move faster than the human eye can see. Patty could call him up and invite him to her Midway City apartment, and he dash over there before she hung up the phone. 

He even proves my point in this episode. Patty calls him from a moving train, tells him she's in trouble, and five seconds later he appears. So however far away Midway City may be, it's not a problem for him. There's no such thing as a long distance relationship with the Flash.

And how about those commuters on the train? The Flash appears in the middle of their train car, talks to Patty for a minute or two, then zips away again. None of the other passengers seem to think this is out of the ordinary. Most of them don't even look up from their phones! I guess this kind of thing happens so much in Central City and the surrounding area that no one pays any attention to it anymore.

I'm hopeful we've not seen the last of Patty, and they'll eventually patch things up.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Good Who News And Bad Who News

Good News and Bad News from the World Of Doctor Who!

The Good News:
This week Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat announced he's leaving the series after Season 10. Huzzah! Moffat has been in charge of the series since 2010, writing many of the episodes over the past five seasons.

I've been critical of Moffat the past few years, due to the fact that he's a very, very uneven writer. When he's good, we get things like Blink (widely considered by fans to be the best episode of the modern Doctor Who era) and A Good Man Goes To War

But when he's bad, we get abominations like The Angels Take Manhattan, Kill The Moon and In The Forest Of The Night, three of the most jaw-droppingly awful episodes in the history of the show (full disclosure— Moffat didn't actually write those last two, but as showrunner he approved them and put 'em into production, which makes him just as guilty in my opinion).

Moffat's plots are quite often nonsensical and dense, bordering on the impenetrable. Many times after watching one of his episodes I have no earthly idea what happened, and will sit there thinking, "What the hell did I just see?" Don't believe me? Try explaining the plot of The Name Of The Doctor in a hundred words or less. It can't be done.

It's not just me imagining things; Moffat himself admits he complicates the plots on purpose. In an interview a few years ago he said:
"I don't want to be mean, but eight year olds seem to have no problem with it. Doctor who is unashamedly a clever show. There have been calls for us to dumb it down but we just don't. We're dealing with children who can read long, complicated books while tweeting and playing computer games all at the same time. You've got to be ahead of them."
That may be true to an extent, Moffat, but there's a difference between intricate plotting and a story that was written by banging on the keyboard at random.

It's definitely time for some new blood in the production office.

Moffat's reportedly being replaced as showrunner by writer Chris Chibnall. Chibnall's written several Doctor Who episodes over the years, including 42, The Hungry Earth, Cold Blood, Dinosaurs On A Spaceship and The Power Of Three. None of these were particularly spectacular episodes, but they were decent and straightforward. I'm sure he'll do fine.

Now for the Bad News.
Season 10 won't air until Spring 2017. That's right, 2017. There will be no new Doctor Who in 2016, except for the traditional Xmas episode. Twelve months until the Special, and most likely fifteen months until the actual series returns.

I have no idea what the BBC's thinking here, but obviously someone in the head office has renewed their prescription for crazy pills.

Fifteen months between seasons! Jesus! You could become pregnant and carry a child to term and it would be six months old before the show comes back! Fifteen months for the audience to forget all about the show and find better things to do with their time.

I guess that's the price you pay when a series only airs twelve episodes a year.

Actually the series has done this before, as there were a whopping fifteen months between Seasons 7 and 8. It survived back then, so I guess it'll survive again. But I don't have to like it.
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